Kaivalya Upanishad, Class 3


Greetings All,

Swamiji said in his previous introduction we saw Upanishad means Atma Vidhya or Brahma Vidhya as it brings Jivatma and Paramatma together. This process brings the Seeker and Sought together and thus Samsara is destroyed.

Sat + Upani means wisdom inside us. It is the  primary meaning. A secondary meaning of Upanishad is that it is a Vedantic textbook that leads to knowledge. The book is external or outside of us and it should lead to the internal Upanishad or Pramanam.

Kaivalya means Moksha. It originates from Kevala that means: Whatever is without a second, Purnaha, Non Dual, Infinite, Fulfillment, Fullness and Limitlessness.

Any sorrow is a sense of incompleteness. In Tamil the word Kurai is used for incompleteness and Niraiv means fullness.

Anandatvam means unexpressed happiness. Ananda is expressed Anandatvam. So Kaivalya is an Upanishad that gives you Ananda. It also removes daily struggles and samsara. This Upanishad ends with Kaivalyam or Ananda.

This is a small Upanishad belonging to the Atharvana Veda. Mundaka also belongs to Atharvana Veda. Katho belongs to Krishna Yajur. Each group of Upanishads has a common Shanthipatha respectively. Thus, Mundaka Shantipatha is same as Kaivalya.

Shantipatha is a prayer to Lord. It has to be chanted together by the Guru and Shishyas. In the Shanthipatha the Student is asking for favors from the Lord.

The first favor asked for is a long life. The purpose of a long life is to complete mission of Moksha Prapthihi.

The second favor is fitness of entire personality or a fit body, mind and intellect complex.

The third favor is ability to pursue a spiritual life, once I have a long life and a fit personality. These include study of scriptures and know the glory of Lord. If you know the glory of Lord, you will also know it is your own glory. God realization is Self-realization. May I have Shastra Vichara?

Fourth and final favor is freedom from all obstacles. Our papams do not allow us to do good things. They become obstacles, known as Prathibandhu Nivrithihi.

Swamiji says the Shanthipatha is a good mantra to chant to remove obstacles from our self (we have control), immediate surroundings (some control) and Supernatural forces (no control).

Chapter 1, Mantra # 1:

Upanishads are in the form of a dialogue. Sometimes names of Guru and Shishya are not provided. In Kaivalya Upanishad it is provided.

Ashvalayana is a Rig Veda Acharya. He approached the Guru, Parameshthi or Brahmaji, the Lord or Creator of the universe.

When did he approach the Guru? He approached him after acquiring the necessary qualification to understand the knowledge of Brahman or Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampathi. He acquired this by Karma Yoga, obtaining purity of mind and by Upasana Yoga, acquiring focusing capacity of mind.

He approached the Guru with great reverence. Gita says namaskara indicates lack of intellectual arrogance, Shradha and Bhakthi.

He then asked for this knowledge. Scriptures say knowledge should not be given to one who is not interested in it. Only a shishya who is interested and who asks with proper reverence is to be given this knowledge.

Mantra # 1 (continued):

Ashvalayana said: “ Hey Bhagawan, May you teach me Brahma Vidya.”

The word Adhihi is not teaching, rather it means loud remembrance. So, please remember loudly. Swamiji says you cannot teach another person if he is not ready to learn. You can only facilitate the conditions of learning. The student must have capacity to absorb. Just like a plant, I can only provide conditions but plant must have the potential. “ You please remember loudly. I will sit and absorb about Brahma Vidya”.

Other aspects of shloka are about glorification of Brahma Vidya indicating it is a sincere request.


First: It is a great wisdom.

Even if we seek other knowledge, it should be studied with the aim of refining our intellect. Having refined my mind from other sciences, I have pursued Brahma Vidya as a goal. Of all the goals, it is the greatest goal.  Spiritual growth happens gradually; Like a mother nourishing a child, gradually. Similarly, my mind should be nourished for Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampathi.

Second: Everybody should be seeking wisdom, even though many do not. They do not know its value, since they are not mature. We tend to chase after materialistic things rather than Brahma Vidya.

Third: The Brahma Vidya is most secret wisdom. Very few people know it.

Fourth: All Papam’s are destroyed. Punyam is included in papam. Punyam is a golden chain, while papam is of steel, says Swamiji. Both lead to the cycle of life and death.

Fifth: Through this wisdom an individual obtains Purusha or Truth. By knowledge alone he attains Brahman.

To obtain something you should know it first then go and get it. Brahma Vidya is different in that knowledge is known and got at the same time as this knowledge was missing due to ignorance.

Knowledge clears the imaginary distance.

Citing an example, the lost car key is ignorance of the key in your pocket. Knowledge is that key was not lost. This is also called Prapasya Prapthihi.

What type of Brahman is it? One who is beyond Maya (Parat Para or Maya Para) or the Consciousness principle.

Who gets this knowledge? The wise person attains Brahman. Such a Brahma Vidya, please teach me as well.

Mantra #2:

Parameshti, grand sire of the universe, addressed the student. He teaches the means of obtaining the Brahma Vidya.

There are two means:

  1. Direct via Gyana Yoga and Vedanta Vichara
  2. Supportive means.

Citing an example: Direct is the seed that produces the plant. However, it also needs the supportive means of proper soil, water and sunlight.

Vedanta Vichara involves Sravanam, Mananam and Nididhyasanam.

Sravanam: Consists of systematic study of scriptures for a length of time under a competent teacher. This gives gyanam.

Mananam: Intellectual exercise that removes all doubts that obstruct convictions. Conviction alone can give Gyanam.


This removes emotional obstruction or unhealthy ways of thinking and responding. Kama, Krodha, Mada and Moha are examples. Thus they are:


  1. kama — lust
  2. krodha — anger
  3. lobha — greed
  4. moha — delusory emotional attachment or temptation
  5. mada or ahankara — pride, hubris
  6. matsarya — envy, jealousy

Nididhyasanam removes emotional barriers.

Through these three approaches, may you get knowledge.

With best wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy