The Upanisads represent the results of the first plunge of human mind into the depths of metaphysical speculation; and investigate such abstruse problems as the origin of the universe, the nature of the Supreme, the nature of the human soul and the relation of spirit and matter.
The first part of this book is basically concerned with the interpretation 'of the philosophical problems of the Upanisads which form the source texts for the six systems of Indian Philosophy.
The author has taken an independent line of approach to the subject under discussion here. He critically analyses the nature of the Supreme self, the finite self and the cause and problem of origin of the universe revealed in the Upanisads.
The author is an outstanding scholar of Indian philosophy and Sanskrit literature. He has studied the Upanisads thoroughly and dealt with subject authoritatively.
In the second part of the book the author has compiled the 'One Hundred Twelve Upanisads' as original texts. The compilation of 112 original Upanisads in a single volume is a remarkable work. No doubt, the present work will be very much useful for the Sanskrit scholars and researchers too.
Late Dr. Abhedananda Bhatta-charya, the Ex-Principal of Sri Bhagvan Dass Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, Haridwar, was educated at Varanasi. He obtained Vedantacharya degree from Varanaseya Sanskrit Vishvavidyalaya, Varanasi and M.A (Philosophy) from B.H.U. He earned Ph.D. in 1973 and D. Litt in 1981 in Vedanta subject. He served Gurukula University at Haridwar as Head of Philosophy Deptt. and later on in 1978 he has been selected Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Oriental Studies in the same institution. He has presided over many Philosophical and Sanskrit conferences. He is a member of Oriental Conference, Indian Philosophy Congress and Akhil Bhartiya Darshan Parishad. Among his published works four outstanding books have been selected for the Best Book Awards. His some major works are:
1. The Upanisadic Doctrine of the Self
2. Knowledge Self and Morality
3. Kathopanisad (Trans. work), 1968
4. Idealistic philosophy of Sankara and Spinoza
5. Essence of Vedanta
7. Nyayadarsana ka Pramana Catustaya
The central problems of philosophy, like the .doctrine of the self are as debatable today as they were centuries ago.
The Upanisads contain the science of the ultimate truth. The subject matter of the Upanisads is the Doctrine of the Self, that the Absolute, which transcends time and space, and causality and yet every thing is that the Atman or Brahman. The Upanisadic doctrine of the Self does not deny the world, but yet is rigorously monistic. The Upanisads say that the manifold creations are resolvable into one, that the essence of the entire universe is one. and that is the Self or Brahman.
Firstly, the aim of this work is to deal with the major problems of the Upanisadic philosophy entitling 'The philosophy. of the Upanisads in 1st Part .of this volume. The study is mainly taken tip with the object of binding out the unique nature of the Absolute or Brahman directly from the 'Upanisadic texts.
Secondly, we have added four more latter modern Upanisads in Ilnd Part of this volume increasing the number of the Upanisads One hundred and twelve, the four more than as they were enumerated in the Muktika Upanisad.
I hope that the publication of one hundred twelve Upanisads in original in one single volume will be helpful to the scholars of oriental philosophy and researchers too.
The Upanisads are philosophical and theological mystical treatises forming the third division of the Veda; the preceding portions being the Mantras or Hymns, which are largely prayers, and the Brahmanas or sacrificial rituals-ths utterance, successively, of poet, priest, and philosopher.
There are two great departments of the Veda. The first is called Karma-kanda, the department of works, which embraces both Mantras and Brahmanas; and is followed by the vast majority of persons whose action of religion is laying up of merit by means of ceremonial prayers and sacrificial rites. The second is called Jnana-kanda, the department of knowledges-the theosophic portion of the Vedic revelation; and this is embraced by the Upanisads, and is intended for the select few who are capable of attaining the true doctrine.
The most important of the Upanisads belong to what are called Aranyakas, ‘or forest-books, which form an appendix to the Brahmanas; and, treating as they do of the release of the soul from metapsychosis, by means of a recognition of the onenecs of its real nature with the great impersonal Self, are so profound that they were required to be read in the solitude of forests, by persons, who, having performed all the duties of a student and a house-holder, retired from the world to and their days in the contemplation of the Deity.
The Upanisads are as far removed from the ancient poetry of the Veda as the Talmud is from the Old Testament, and Sufism is, from the Quran. They represent the results of the first plunge of the human mind into the depths of metaphysical speculation; and investigate such abstruse problems as the origin of the universe, the nature of the Deity, the nature of the human soul, and the relation of spirit and matter.
The etymology of the word is doubtful. It probably signifies sitting down near somebody, in order to listen or meditate and worship (Upa-ni-sad;) so that it would express the idea of a session or assembly of pupils sitting down at a respectful distance round their teacher. Commonly, however, it has the meaning of secret doctrine-a digest of the principles and mysteries contained in the Vedas: and some Indian philosophers derive the word from the toot sad, in the sense of destruction; meaning thereby that the secret doctrine, fully apprehended, would destroy all passion and ignorance, and all knowledge derived from the senses merely-all knowledge save that of the Self.
Now about the number and divisions of the Upanisads, with the disappearance of many of the recensions of the Vedas, many Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanisads also disappeared. The fact that the sacred books were not committed to writing in ancient times is partly responsible for this loss. Furthermore among the works surviving, it is difficult to ascertain the exact number that should be regarded as authentic Upanisads, A religious system is considered valid in India only when it is supported by Sruti (the Vedas); hence the founders of religious sects have sometimes written books and called them Upanisads in order to give their views scriptural authority. The Allah Upanisad for instance, was composed in the sixteenth century, at the time of the Mussalman emperor Akbar.
One hundred and eight Upanisads are enumerated in the Muktika Upanisad, which is a work belonging to the tradition of the Yajur-Veda. Among these, the Aitaerya Upanisad and Kausi the Upanisad belong to the Rg-Veda; the Chandogya and Kena, to the Sama-Veda the Taittiriya, Mahanarayana, Katha, Svetasvatara, and Maitrdyani, to the Krsna Yajur-Veda; the Isa and Brhada-ranyaka, to the Sukla Yajur-Veda; and the Mundaka, Prasna, and Mandukya, to the Atharva-Veda. It may be stated, also, that these Upanisads belong to differing recensions of their respective Vedas. Thus, for instance, the Mundaka Upanisad belongs to the Saunaka recension of the Atharva-Veda, while the Prusna Upanisad belongs to the Pippalada recension. The Brahma Sutras, which is the most authoritative work on the Vedanta philosophy, has been based up- on the Aitareya, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Brhadaranyaka, Kausitaki, Katha, Svetasvatara, Mundaka, Prasna, and possibly also the Jahala Upanisad, Sankaracarya wrote his celebrated commentaries on the Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Aitareya, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Brhadaranyaka, and possibly also the Svetasvatara Upanisad. These latter are regarded as the major works.
These are probably as old as the sixth century B.C. or. anterior to the rise of Buddhism and the fundamental Upanisads of the Vedanta philosophy.
The teachings of the Upanisads, Brahmasutras, and the Bhagavad Gita from the basis of the Vedanta philosophy.
But the Vedanta has different schools of interpretation, represented by the three great Acaryas-Sankara, Ramanuja, and, Madhava; that Sankara being the oldest and most orthodox, and in closest harmony with the ancient patheistic thought of India. The Upanisads undoubtedly admit of different interpretations. Their authors belonged to different sections of society, some of the most important being Ksatriyas or Rajput kings; and these generations of Vedic theologians had their own favourite sacred texts which they studied and speculated upon; these speculations coming in course of time to be locked upon as sacred too. There is unquestionably a certain uniformity of leading conceptions running throughout the Upanisads, though with considerable divergence in detail. They were, however, never meant to form a philosophical system coherent in all its parts, and free from contradictions. Their authors belonged to different periods or time, and do not claim any Divine inspiration that would preserve a continuous revelation of truth. The views of one sage do not seem to agree in several important points with another) as to the nature of the Supreme Being, whether He possesses qualities (sagunam) or is destitute of qualities (nirgunam), though the latter represents, as we shall see, the prevailing thought. They differ also as to the reality or unreality of the external world; and as to the nature of that soul, whether it is of minute size, and an agent, and therefore finite, or whether it is identical with the Supreme, and therefore infinite. All this invests these ancient treatises with not a little difficulty to those who study them; though 'heir interest and value are not thereby diminished.
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