The word Upanishad is made of Upa + nishad. Upa means near and nishad is to sit. There is yet another interpretation wherein the word Upanishad is composed of three words Upa + ni + shad. Upa means to approach a Guru in the spirit of seeking in humility and faith, ni means ‘nischaya’ the well ascertained truth of the Guru (must be without any doubt) and shad means to end ignorance in us with its false values and perceptions.
Thus the Upanishad is a volume of knowledge to be understood by a student from a teacher, through a process of living and experiencing fully God-Consciousness. All the Upanishads are, therefore, conversations between a man of wisdom and his students.
Finite words can never successfully describe the Infinite. Yet the great Rishis of yore made a successful attempt if not directly expressing the concept of the Infinite, but in conveying it to the intuitive mind of students who are prepared to live it. The content of an Upanishad is for reflection and contemplation. The deeper a student dives into the meaning of the verses, the greater the significance he could discover in them.
Superficial scholars of language or an unprepared student may not gain much from it. Therefore mere academic study of Upanishad like any other secular text taught in schools and colleges cannot be beneficial. One may end up like the enthusiastic boy who went to the seashore and returned disappointed for he couldn’t see the ocean, “because of the waves”!