Without the Vedas, the Upanishads do not exist. The Vedas are the source. But the wealth of the Vedas can be offered properly to the generality of mankind only through the Upanishads. The Upanishads have the capacity to enter into the source, and the capacity to offer the illumining fulfilling wealth of the source in a way that can be accepted and understood by humanity at large. They are the end or cream of the Vedas; they are called Vedanta. On the mental plane, on the spiritual plane, on the psychic plane, on the moral plane, all of India’s achievements come from the polished, developed, aspiring, and illumining consciousness of the Upanishads.
Buddhism is a form of Vedanta philosophy. But Buddha’s philosophy emphasises a special aspect of Vedanta. We speak of Buddha as the Lord of Compassion. We speak of Buddha’s moral ethics. Where did all this come from? From Vedanta. But while expressing the Vedantic or Upanishadic truth, Buddha offered his own inner light in a specific way. That is why ordinary human beings find it difficult to believe that Vedanta was the original source of Buddha’s teachings.
In the Western world we have Pythagoras and Plato, two great philosophers. You can see that the philosophy of both of them, and especially of Plato, has been greatly inspired by Upanishadic thought. Unfortunately, people believe that the Western world did not accept anything from an Eastern source, but it is not true. Sufism, this emotional or psychic mysticism of the West, where does it come from? Again, from the Upanishads, the same source.
The world has received many significant things from the Upanishads, but unfortunately the world does not want to offer credit to the source. No harm. A child takes money from his parents and tells his friends that it is his money. Friends of his age believe that it is his, but adults will say, “He does not work. Where can he get money”? They know that he has got it from his parents. Millions of people have been inspired by the Upanishadic lore, consciously or unconsciously. In India and in the West there are many paths, many religions, which have taken abundant light from the Upanishads. But they find it hard to give credit to the source.
The Upanishadic Seers abide within us. They do not need any appreciation or recognition. What do they want? What do they expect? From the genuine seekers and followers of Truth, what they want and expect is the application of the Truth which has been offered. If the Truth is applied in our daily lives, no matter where it came from, divinity will loom large in us, and divinity will offer appreciation, admiration and glorification to the source. Even God does not expect or demand anything more from us as long as we apply the Truth in our own lives consciously, constantly, devotedly, soulfully, and unconditionally.
University of Connecticut, 1972