Advice for Living the Teachings in the World

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Shakshavalli, Chapter Eleven: “Speak truth, walk in the way of thy duty, neglect not the study of Veda.  When thou has t brought to the Master the wealth that he desireth, thou shalt not cut short the long thread of thy race.  Thou shalt not be negligent of the truth; thou shalt not be negligent of thy duty; thou shalt not be negligent of welfare; thou shalt not be negligent towards thy increase and thy thriving; thou shalt not be negligent of the study and teaching of Veda.” … “Serve the Master as a God and as a God the stranger within thy dwelling.  The works that are without blame before the people, thou shalt do these with diligence and no others.  The deeds we have done that are good and righteous, thou shalt practice these as a religion and no others.”  … “Moreover if thou doubt of thy course or of thy action, then whatsoever Brahmins be there who are careful thinkers, devout, not moved by others, lovers of virtue, not severe or cruel, even as they do in that thing, so do thou.  Then as to men accused and arraigned by their fellows, whatsoever Brahmins be there who are careful thinkers, devout, not moved by others, lovers of virtue, not severe or cruel, even as they are towards these, so be thou.”

This chapter is followed by a repetition of the peace invocation that began this section, modified only to acknowledge that the requested protection has been provided by the invoked powers and gods.

The teacher guides the seekers and disciples as to their mode of action in the world of life based upon the teachings they have received.  The Upanishad clearly does not intend for the students to abandon the life of the world, but to fully participate, while remaining cognizant of the duties enjoined upon them as a result of the knowledge they have gained.  It represents a practical application of the principles.

One can recognize in this advice a sense of continuity and respect for the past, as well as a call for honoring others, both related and strangers, with a basis of careful thought and a compassionate and supportive inflection.  The seekers are called upon to follow the guidance of those who have gained wisdom, but who do so without arrogance or a cruel view.  Too often has religion been used as the basis for discrimination and torture!  The Upanishad makes it clear that this is not the intended result.  There should be humility, careful thought, and a sense of good will that informs the judgment.

Even as the seekers take up their roles and duties in the world, they are called upon to not neglect the study and teaching of the Veda.  There is a recognition here that all of life is an opportunity for inner growth and development and this is a process that should be tended and supported on a life-long basis.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli, pp.255-264, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 109-182

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