यथा सोम्य पुरुषं गन्धारेभ्योऽभिनद्धाक्षमानीय तं ततोऽतिजने विसृजेत्स यथा तत्र प्राङ्वोदङ्वाधराङ्वा प्रत्यङ्वा प्रध्मायीताभिनद्धाक्ष आनीतोऽभिनद्धाक्षो विसृष्टः ॥ ६.१४.१ ॥
yathā somya puruṣaṃ gandhārebhyo’bhinaddhākṣamānīya taṃ tato’tijane visṛjetsa yathā tatra prāṅvodaṅvādharāṅvā pratyaṅvā pradhmāyītābhinaddhākṣa ānīto’bhinaddhākṣo visṛṣṭaḥ || 6.14.1 ||
1. O Somya, as when a person is brought blindfolded from the Gandhāra country and left in a deserted place, he turns sometimes to the east, sometimes to the north, sometimes to the south, and sometimes to the west, shouting: ‘I have been brought here blindfolded! I have been left here blindfolded!’—
Yathā, just as; somya, O Somya; puruṣam, a person, gandhārebhyaḥ, from the Gandhāra region; abhinaddha-akṣam-ānīya, is brought blindfolded; tataḥ, from there; tam visṛjet, [and] leaves him; atijane, in a deserted place; yathā, as; saḥ, he; tatra, there; prāṅ vā, facing the east; udaṅ vā, or facing the north; adharāṅ vā, or facing the south; pratyaṅ vā, or facing the west; pradhmāyīta, shouts; abhinaddhākṣaḥ ānītaḥ, I have been brought blindfolded; abhinaddhākṣaḥ visṛṣṭaḥ, I have been left blindfolded.
The Upaniṣad is trying to convey a very difficult idea, but fortunately it gives many illustrations. Here is another one: Suppose you have been seized by some robbers. They put a blindfold on your eyes and then take you away into the forest and leave you there. Perhaps the forest is infested with wild animals. Somehow or other you have to get out, but you don’t know where you are and you can’t see anything. What do you do? You run around in every direction, shouting: ‘I am so-and-so. I belong to such-and-such village. I can’t see anything. Please help me get out of here.’ Then at last someone takes pity on you and leads you out of the forest. That someone is the teacher.
You are ignorant and don’t know the way. You don’t know how to reach God, how to attain the Truth. But someone has compassion on you—someone who knows the way. You say, ‘I must go back home.’ But what is this home? It is the Self. The small self wants to return to the Cosmic Self.
It is as if the self is alienated from itself—as if there is a barrier between one self and the other. The individual self and the Cosmic Self are the same, but there seems to be a barrier between them. We have to remove that barrier.