The worth of any religious tradition depends upon the quality of its teachings about God and His creation, and man and his salvation. On all these four fundamental topics, the Upanishads in their best moments show a great advance from the earlier Vedic thought and also contain hints of far-reaching developments. But far more important than the advance in thought or even the future developments is the direct vision of the seers and also the strength of conviction with which they speak about it. To use the figure employed by Sri Ramakrishna, the Upanishadic seers are like those who speak about the holy city of Benares after seeing it and living in it and not like the people who eloquently discourse on it after seeing only a map of it. To them God was not a mere traditional symbol or a vague hypothesis, but a living and burning experience. They see Him everywhere – in the wide expanse of the universe, in the phenomena of Nature around them and in the secret chambers of men’s hearts. They exclaim:
“The Infinite is below; He is above; He is behind; He is in front! He is to the south; He is to the north; He is indeed all this.”
“Through fear of Him fire burns; through fear of Him the sun blazes; through fear of Him Indra, Vayu, and also Yama, as the fifth, speed on their way.”
“From Him come all the seas and the mountains; from Him flow the rivers of every kind, from Him come all the herbs and their juices--”.
“Verily, it is by the command of that Imperishable, O Gargi, that the sun and the moon stand apart. It is by the command of that Imperishable, O Gargi, that heaven and earth stand apart. It is by the command of that Imperishable that what are called moments, hours, days and nights, half-months, months, seasons, years, all stand apart.”
“Radiant and near, indeed stirring in the heart itself is that great Being. In it is centred everything--everything that moves and breathes and winks.”