Attainment of Truth is not the purpose of Upanishads

Acharya Prashant
10 min readMay 24, 2021

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Acharya Prashant: The purpose of the Upanishads has to be remembered. It is commonly said that the purpose of the Upanishads is ‘attainment of the Truth’ but it is not really so. If you say that the purpose of the Upanishads is the attainment of Truth then you are actually going against the Upanishads.

Only something with attributes can be attained. Otherwise, how will you know that you have attained it? Have you ever attained anything that is attributeless? Can you even conceptualize attaining something sans attributes?

Attainment necessitates attributes and all attributes are limitations. The Truth, therefore, is not at all the direct objective of the Upanishads. The direct objective is the cessation of the mind and cessation of the mind implies cessation of falseness. And the Upanishads fall silent at this point. They work really hard to bring falseness to its end and thereafter they don’t say much. For practical reasons if they still have to say something they just excuse themselves by offering very subtle indicators.

Very profusely the Upanishads will weigh on ‘what one is not’. Verse after verse, page after page, the Upanishads will pour over this matter ‘this you are not; that you are not’. And when it will come to declaring what you really are, the Upanishads will just gently say, ‘tatvmasi’- That thou art.

They will not explain or elucidate much because if they do then they will be going against their own core. So, it has to be understood that the mind is being addressed. The mind is being addressed about itself. That’s the objective.

If you tell the mind too much about Truth then the Truth too becomes just another mind object and the mind will be only too happy swallowing the Truth as well as just another object with attributes. The Upanishads were obviously not composed to please the mind.

Now let’s go into this verse:

अनेजदेकं मनसो जवीयो नैनद्देवा आप्नुवन् पूर्वमर्षत्‌ । तद्धावतोऽन्यानत्येति तिष्ठत् तस्मिन्नपो मातरिश्वा दधाति ॥

anejadekaṁ manaso javīyo

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