The Upanishads play a very important role in the essence and strength of the Hindu religion. It forms the basis for the formation and preservation of Hindu religious culture. These holy texts lay down the principal Vedic doctrines such as self-realization, reincarnation, and karma. The word Upanishad means mystic or inner teachings. It is the very doctrine of Hindu life where ignorance is destroyed through the achievement of the highest knowledge. By and large, the Upanishads contain both the philosophical tenets and spiritual vision of the Hindu religion.
At the center of the Upanishads, which is the core of Hindu religious culture, is the concept of knowledge of the truth. Knowledge brings about certainty. Knowledge sets forth understanding. And understanding brings about peace and prosperity. To achieve all this, it is underscored that one can reach the truth only through a strictly personal effort. All these emphasize the spiritual meanings of the Vedic scriptures.
The essence of this very important thought is contained in this most significant line from the Upanishads: “Understanding without practice is better than practice without understanding. Understanding with practice is better than understanding without practice. Residing in your true nature is better than understanding or practice.” This underscores the philosophical concept that one can obtain the knowledge of truth only through strictly personal effort, and that man’s journey to salvation is taken by himself alone. It also emphasizes that freedom is attained through this knowledge, and when pursued becomes wisdom that transforms into a way of life.