Almost all of the Upanishads revolve around Brahman. Brahman is the indescribable, inexhaustible, omniscient, omnipresent, original, first, eternal, and absolute principle that has no beginning or end, is hidden in all, and is the cause, source, material, and effect of all creation known, unknown, and yet to occur in the entire universe.

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He is the incomprehensible, unapproachable radiant being that the ordinary senses and intellect cannot comprehend or even describe partially. He is the enigmatic Being who is beyond all sensory activity, rationale effort, and mere intellectual, decorative, and pompous endeavor.

According to the Upanishads, he is the One and Indivisible Universal Self, who is present in all and in whom all are present. The Brahman of the Upanishads remained mostly confined to the meditative minds of the ancient seers who considered Him to be too sacred and esoteric to be brought out and dissected in front of the public eye.

Though impassioned and above ordinary mental feelings, the Upanishad masters could not always suppress the glory, emotion, passion, and poetry that accompanied the vast and utterly delightful inner experience of His vast vision. The mind explodes to reverberate with this verse from the Mundaka Upanishad: "Imperishable is the Lord of love, as thousands of sparks leap forth from a blazing fire, so millions of beings arise from Him and return to Him." Again, we find a very poetic and emphatic expression in the Katha Upanishad: "In His robe are woven heaven and earth, mind and body...He is the bridge from death to deathless life."

The Upanishads' Brahman is not for ordinary or ignorant souls who are used to seeking spiritual solace through ritualistic practices and rationalization of knowledge. To achieve even a semblance of success on this path, discipline, determination, guidance from a self-realized soul, purity of mind, mastery of the senses, self-control, and desireless actions are required. Only those with a strong heart and a pure mind can imagine dismantling the layers of illusion and ignorance that surrounds him and seeing the golden light of Truth beckoning from beyond.

He is also not like the other gods. Even almost all of the gods find him incomprehensible. And He prefers to be worshipped in one's heart and mind as the indweller of the material body and master of the senses, the charioteer, rather than in temples and other places of worship. He is too distant and incomprehensible to be revered and approached with personal supplications, despite being the most profound and highest vision mankind could ever conceive or achieve.

The weak and timid have no chance of approaching Him even remotely unless they take a circuitous route. As a personal God, He offers no attraction, solace, or security to the materialistic and otherworldly who excel at converting everything and anything into a source of personal gain. That is why there are no temples or forms of ritualistic worship for Brahman, either now or in the past. We only hear of fire sacrifice, later known as Nachiketa fire, to attain Him, which the Lord of Death taught to the young Nachiketa but has since been lost to us. Perhaps the sacrifice was a meditative or spiritual practice that involved the sacrifice of soul consciousness rather than ritual worship.

Whatever it is, the fact remains that the Upanishads' Brahman is more appealing to seekers of Truth and Knowledge than to seekers of material gain. Even during Islamic rule, when monotheistic principles challenged the very foundations of Hinduism, Brahman was never brought into the spotlight of public debate to challenge the invading and overwhelming ideas of monotheistic foreign theology.

Even during the Bhakti movement, when the path of devotion assumed unprecedented importance in medieval Hindu society, Brahman was not made the center of direct worship in the form of Brahman as such. He became a personal God with a name and a form, but Brahman remained outside the Bhakti movement's preview.

Perhaps the exclusion was so obvious and seemingly intentional that Lord Brahma, the first of the Trinity and the first of the created, was also simultaneously excluded from ritualistic worship, most likely due to name similarity. Even today, there are few temples dedicated to this god in India, most likely because He is regarded as a source of intelligence and creativity rather than material wealth.

Perhaps the exclusion was so obvious and seemingly intentional that Lord Brahma, the first of the Trinity and the first of the created, was also simultaneously excluded from ritualistic worship, most likely due to name similarity. Even today, there are few temples dedicated to this god in India, most likely because He is regarded as a source of intelligence and creativity rather than material wealth.

Brahman was too distant, indifferent, disinterested, and vast a principle to be reduced and worshipped as meaningful and intellectually satisfying forms and shapes. He existed beyond all the surface activities of illusory life; he was like the distant star, heard but rarely seen, seen but vaguely remembered, remembered but rarely explicable, in contrast to the daily sun, which traversed the sky, spreading its splendour in all directions and appealing to the common man with its intensity, visible luminosity, and comforting him with its assuring and predictable routine.

However, hidden in the practise of Bhakti was the inherent and unbreakable belief that the goal of all devotion was the attainment of the Supreme Self, even if the path chosen for that purpose was circuitous and symbolic, rarely implying any direct involvement of the eternal Brahman Himself in His original formless state. Because the mind can only comprehend and derive inspiration from a language it understands and interprets, the Saguna Brahman, Iswara, in various manifestations, became the object of devotion and personal worship.

The same could not be said of the formless Nirguna Brahman, who existed beyond duality and activity. Ignoring human civilization's citadels, He, the Absolute, remained in the hearts of His spiritual aspirants, away from the din of materialistic life. He is still confined to a few enlightened minds, guiding them in His mysterious and invisible ways through the minds of self-realized souls who have been too spiritualistic and disinterested in worldly life to consider anything other than themselves as a matter of spiritual interest. Brahman was described by the ancient seers as the one eternal principle, the unity behind all, the connecting principle, and the light shining through all. But, at the same time, they referred to him as almost everything. He was thus One and Many, the finite and the infinite, the centre as well as the circumference, the enjoyer as well as the enjoyer, the hidden as well as the manifest, in a nutshell, everything and anything we can conceive of or imagine, and possibly much more. According to Kena Upanishad, he towers above all, tall and mysterious, almost incommunicable except through personal experience and inner journey.

He was the Nirguna Brahman, the unqualified principle completely beyond the reach of all levels of intelligence, as a formless being. He takes on many forms, including Saguna Brahman, the one with attributes and qualifications. He becomes all the multiplicity in this vast universe in this capacity as the formless and the One with form. He transforms into both everything and nothing. Thus He is day and night, light and darkness, knowledge and ignorance, the river and the ocean, the sky and the earth, sound and silence, the smallest and largest of all, as well as the abyss of the mysterious nothingness.

The attributes are numerous and repeatedly suggest His universality and unquestionable supremacy. The existence of duality and the myriad contradictions inherent in the creation of life are the riddles that the disciples' minds were expected to comprehend and assimilate until all confusion and contradiction were reduced to one harmonious and meaningful mass of Truth.

The Katha Upanishad contains an explanation of Brahman being compared to the Aswaththa tree in reverse, with roots above and branches below. "Its pure root is Brahman, from which the world derives nourishment and which no one can surpass." Actually, this is an analogy drawn from the Sun, whose rays spread downwards in a thousand directions.

Brahman is described in numerous ways in the Upanishads. The verses struggle valiantly to explain the vastness of the object of their meditation to the inexperienced students of spiritual practice. Theirs is a mixture of reverence and fear, as well as awe. Even the gods appear to be uncomfortable with the idea of an unknown, mysterious, and unfathomable God. The Lord of Death explains to Nachiketa, "The fire burns, the sun shines, the clouds rain, and the winds blow in fear of Him. Death stalks, about to kill, in fear of Him."

He is the creator, the giver of life, and the liberator of the devoted and determined from Bondage. His creation is the manifest universe. He created it through Self-projection, pure Delight, Ananda. The process of creation is not explicitly mentioned, but some inferences can be drawn from verses like this "The deathless Self sat in meditation and projected the universe as evolutionary energy. Life, the mind, the elements, and the world of karma arose from this energy."

This is not a God who can be appeased through rituals and sacrifices. The Upanishadic seers had little regard for the external aspects of religious practise. According to them, the lower knowledge was comprised of rituals. "Such rituals," the Mundaka Upanishad declares, "are perilous rafts for crossing the sea of worldly life, of birth and death." Those who attempt to cross the sea of worldly life on these rickety rafts are doomed to shipwreck." The debate does not end here. "Ignorant of their ignorance but wise in their estimation, these deluded men, proud of their learning, go round and round like blind men led by blind men. "They fall into the sea again and again because they live in darkness, are immature, and have no higher good or goal."

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