The Vedas comprise two sections which provide guidance to individuals over a range of subjects. The first part, the Karma Kanda, contains suggestions pertaining to the needs of the Jivatma with regard to worldly attainments, and even entry into the celestial regions. The main thrust of the second section, the Jnana Kanda (the Upanishads), is to stimulate the desire for salvation in the Jivatma, pointed out Sri N. Veezhinathan in a lecture.
A Jivatma has to realise through stages and many births the truth that all else except salvation is its goal. The Upanishads emphasise the true nature of the Atma that is in association with the body, and explain the gain that Atma Jnana confers on the Jivatma, namely, the desire to seek salvation. This desire is not easily attained owing to the prevailing ignorance regarding the Atma and of its placement in this world.
We lack the sense of discrimination with regard to matters of our immediate life. The chase for material gains remains predominant among most of us and this focus does not give room for any attention towards the gaining of knowledge of the Atma.
A deep analysis of what is worthwhile leads to the crucial enquiry into what is permanent or ephemeral. If the desire to seek the former is the choice, then one's outlook and actions in this life would take a turn accordingly. The attraction to worldly glitter will fade and the Jivatma would long only for the state of permanent bliss.
The Upanishads teach us how to qualify to gain this knowledge that will lead us to salvation. They reveal the immortal nature of the Self. Certain qualities of mind are needed for enquiry into the nature of the Supreme Brahman. A Jivatma has to cultivate these assiduously.
The sense of discrimination takes away the desire for worldly attractions; it also instils a detachment towards one's actions and the fruits of the acts as well.
It paves the way for cultivating the virtues of self-control over mind and the senses; the ability to regard joy and sorrow, heat or cold, etc., with equanimity; faith in the Sastras and the preceptor and single-minded pursuit of the goal of salvation with no dilution in the desire for it.