By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Nissreyas, NiZZreyas, Nishshreyas
Niśśreyas literally means ‘highest good’.
The Kathā Upaniṣad declares that every human being has the opportunity to choose between the following:
- Preyas - Preyas is what is pleasant, the apparently good, but which ultimately turns out to be bad, painful and ruinous.
- Śreyas - Śreyas is that which is really good, though at first sight, it may not appear to be attractive.
A wise person always chooses the latter in preference to the former. Śreyas, again, has two stages:
- The abhyudaya - The former is worldly well-being got through dharma or the righteous means. This, however, is not permanent.
- The niśśreyas - Niśśreyas is spiritual well-being leading to mokṣa or liberation, the highest good.
The word is used to indicate mokṣa also.
- Kathā Upaniṣad 2.2
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore