Book Review: Wisdom of the Rishis; The three Upanishads

Sri M has led an extraordinary life which has been brilliantly captured in his book ‘Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master’. Born as Mumtaz Ali Khan he experienced unique spiritual and mystical experiences since his childhood. He finally left home at the age of 19, wandering around the Himalayas, seeking salvation. He finally found his Guru from the Nath sampraday, Maheshwar Nath Babaji (whom he would see in his spiritual experiences in his childhood) who gave him the name Madhukar Nath. He initiated him into the Indian spiritual and philosophical tradition and guided him towards the awakening of his kundalini. After much travelling with his Guru in the Himalayas, the latter asked him to return to the plains, to visit the holy places of India associated with all spiritual and religious traditions and seek to understand them. The book provides the interpretation of the verses of the Isha, Kena and Mandukya Upanishads, which many consider to be amongst the most important Upanishads. The Isha Upanishad is one of the shortest Upanishad, consisting of only 18 verses and is a part of the Yajurveda. The Mandukya Upanishad is another short Upanishad with only 12 verses and is a part of the Atarvaveda., while the Kena Upanishads is a part of the Samveda. My journey into reading the Upanishads began with this book, this being the first book that I read, while trying to understand the verses of these 3 Upanishads. I must say it was a good choice as the first book, for Sri M does a brilliant job of explaining the verses in a simple and lucid manner. Later, when I read more detailed and complex interpretations by other masters, the grounding that this book provided, came in handy. The only thing I found really jarring in this book is that the slokas had only been transliterated into English and not Sanskrit/Hindi…now reading Sanskrit in roman script is surely not a very pleasurable experience. If you can ignore that, reading this book will be a lovely experience!

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