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The fundamental idea which runs through the early Upanishads is that underlying the exterior, changing world, there is an unchangeable reality (Brahman) which is identical with that which underlies the essence in man (Atman).The essence of the universe can only be known through the Atman, the inmost essence of man, the individual self, soul, and mind.This translation was read by Schopenhauer (1788–1860), whose philosophy was profoundly influenced by it.In the Preface to Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, he wrote: And if, indeed, in addition to this he is a partaker of the benefit conferred by the Vedas, the access to which, opened to us through the Upanishads, is in my eyes the greatest advantage which this still young century enjoys over previous ones…then he is best of all prepared to hear what I have to say to him…I might express the opinion that each one of the individual and disconnected aphorisms which make up the Upanishads may be deduced as a consequence from the thought that I am going to impart, though the converse, that my thought is to be found in the Upanishads, is by no means the case….
The Upanishads were transmitted orally by the Vedic schools sakhas long before they were committed to writing.
” So asks the seeker in the Svetasvatara Upanishad. One cannot see Brahman, as one cannot see the inside of the tiny seed of a fig.
”“Some very small seeds, sir.”“Open one of those small seeds. ”“Nothing at all, sir.”“Truly from what you cannot see, the whole fig tree grows. It is the life-force which is the subtle essence of everything.
They turn from the rites of the fire altar to the question of the deeper, inner meanings of ritual. Other teachers take a different pedagogical strategy in pointing to Brahman.
They explore speculative questions about the origin, basis, and support of the universe. Rather than seeing Brahman as pervading the universe, they speak of Brahman as wholly transcendent, describable in human terms only by saying what Brahman is not: “It is not coarse, not fine, not short, not long, odorless, tasteless, without eye, without ear, without voice, without name, unaging, undying, without measure, without inside and without outside.” This way of speaking stretches the mind beyond the available categories of the world to glimpse that which cannot be contained by human categories.The Aranyakas ("of the forest"), detailing meditative yogic practices, contemplations of the mystic one and the manifold manifested principles, were an outgrowth of the Brahmanas, and were followed and fulfilled by the Upanishads, the philosophical and meditative tracts that form the backbone of Hindu thought.