Once upon a time, Brahman, the Spirit Supreme, won a victory for the gods. And the gods thought in their pride: ”We alone attained this victory, ours alone is the glory.”
Brahman saw it and appeared to them, but they knew him not. ”Who is that being that fills us with wonder?” they cried.
And they spoke to Agni, the god of fire : ”O god, all knowing, go and see who is that being that fills us with wonder.”
Agni ran towards him and Brahman asked : ”Who are you?”. ”I am the god of fire,” he said, ”the god who knows all things.”
”What power is in you?” asked Brahman. ”I can burn all things on earth.”
And Brahman placed a straw before him and said ”Burn this.” The god of fire strove with all his power but was unable to burn it. He returned to the other gods and said: ”I could not find out who was that being that fills us all with wonder.”
Then they spoke to Vayu, the god of the air. ”O Vayu, go and see who is that being that fills us with wonder.”
Vayu ran towards him and Brahman asked : ”Who are you?” ”I am Vayu, the god of the air, the air that moves in space.”
”What power is in you?” Brahman asked. ”In a whirlwind I can carry away all that is on earth.”
And Brahman placed a straw before him saying: ”Blow this away.” The god of the air strove with all him power, but was unable to move it. He returned to the other gods and said : ”I could not find out who is that being that fills us all with wonder.”
Then the gods spoke to Indra, the god of thunder: ‘O giver of earthly goods, go and see who is that being that fills us with wonder.” And Indra ran towards Brahman, the Supreme Spirit, but he disappeared.
Then in the same region of the sky the god saw a lady of radiant beauty. She was Uma, divine wisdom, the daughter of the mountains of snow. ”Who is that being that fills us with divine wonder?” he asked.
”He is Brahman, the Supreme Spirit,” she answered. ”Rejoice in him, since through him you attained the glory of victory.”
Note : The Upanishads are allegorical.
Note 2 : The use of the word Brahman is not intended to be partisan. It is not a ‘religious’ word in these documents, nor intended to be particular to one narrow creed. Substitute the word Absolute or Source or Truth or God or ”The Reality Behind All Things” or Void or Oneness or the Underlying Quantum Unknown or the Big Kahuna or the Unknowable, or whatever works for you that makes you not reject words of wisdom that seem to be set in a culture which is alien to the one you happen to have been born in. The Upanishads are primordial philosophy ~ they are universal.