Self in the Katha Upanishad

Introduction

The Katha Upanishad describes the Self in many different ways: this activity draws students attention to these descriptions.

Background Information

Motivation

If a student is not reading the Katha Upanishad carefully, she might not realize just how surprisingly many descriptions and metaphors are used to characterize the Self. This activity helps draw attention to these many descriptions and metaphors.

Logistics

This is best done as a group activity, but could easily be done as a solo or pair activity.

Texts / Connections

Relevant texts:

Upanishads (Katha Upanishad)

Courses and Topics

  • Introduction to Philosophy, Metaphysics, Self and Identity

Activity Plan

Simply ask students to list as many of the short descriptions of the self in the Katha Upanishad as they possibly can in the time given (5 minutes should be fine). The group that can list the most wins (top groups should easily be able to find 30 or 40 descriptions).

Variations

Briefly describe some possible variations on the activity.

Discussion Questions

  • Were any of the descriptions of the Self familiar or what you would expect? Were any of them very surprising or different?

  • If you had to describe the Self to someone, how would you do it? What descriptions or metaphors would you use?

Authorship

Seth Robertson (University of Oklahoma)
sethrobertson@ou.edu