From the Preface:
It is, perhaps, unnecessary to remar-that this work does not pretend to be anything beyond an humble attempt to present in an English garb what is known as the Aitareyopanishad, together with the celebrated commentary (Bhashya) of B'ankardoharya upon it. The text being thus made available to the general reader, its value as a basis of the Vedantic philosophy will be self-evident. I, consequently, do not enter here into the many-sided suggestions which this book thaws out in connection with the history of the Vedantic thought. It will be sufficient, for the present, merely to indicate the connection of the following book with the Rig-Veda , or the Veda which is the peculiar property of the Hotri priest in a formal sacrifice. This Veda, in its more current form, is will known to show a double division into a Samhita (i.e., a collection of the sacred texts) and a Brahmana (i.e. , a sort commentary upon the use and meaning of these texts). The Brahmana is called Aitareya Brahmana after the reputed author or promulgator, and to it in way of a supplement there come to be added five books technically known as the Aranyakas. . These introductory words in themselves throw some light on the subject of these books, and we find that the 1st, the 4th , and the 5th books bear a purely Brahmana character, proceeding as they do, to explain the ritual of Mahavrata or the Great Rite. In a sacrificial session extending over one year called the Gavamayana sacrifice, the last day but one is called Mahavrata probably from the sacrificial services of that day. This rite is not detailed in the Sattra-prakarana of the Aitareya Brahmana, and consequently the work of the Hotri in this connection is detailed in the 1st Aranyaka, and is further dilated upon in the 4th and the 5th books. I need not here give a description of the ceremony, but simply remark that after enunciating the ritual in the 1st Aranyaka, the text goes on to assume another character in the second and the third books. Here the subject is to lay down a number of meditations or devout reflections, in a certain style, upon the ritual as before described. And in this connection the lessons 4 to 6 of the second Aranyaka rise to a full Upanishad character, setting forth the speculations on the cause of the world and its nature, &cc. The second and the third Aranyakas consequently constitute the Upanishad which may be said to fall in three divisions or three Upanishads. All these three go collectively by the name of the Bahvrichopanishad or the Mahaitareyopanishad. The first of these three extends over Ar. II, Lessons (Adhyayas ) 1-3; and the second over the remaining portion of the same. While the third takes up the whole of the third Aranyaka. The first sets forth the knowledge and worship of Prana (life-breath or Hiranya-garbha); the second teaches the knowledge of Brahman; and the third prescribes the meditative worship of the Samhita. The subjects, these treat of, are different,, so as to suit the mental capacities of different people. The first addresses itself to the middle class of people who wish to rise gradually to a state of freedom through the ascent to Satyaloka; the second to those whose minds are intently fixed on one object, who have turned away from the world and who yearn to be free at once; while the third is adapted to the taste of those who stand lowest on the ladder of spirituality, and who are too much entangled in tangible matter to rise to any thought of the intangible Principle. The second consequently will be seen to be the real Upanishad. This is familiarly known as the Aitareyopanishad, consisting as it does of six sections which all together fall under the last four lessons (Adhyayas) of the second Aranyaka, the last lesson and section being merely propitiatory. But besides this, there are added in the beginning and in the end of this Upanishad, when it is treated separately, other propitiatory texts which are especially recited in connection with these Aranyakas. These, therefore, being evidently not the parts of the Upanishad, are not translated here.
The text chosen for the translation is the Anandas'rama edition of the Aitareyopanishad. The foot-notes mainly aim at the following points:-
(1) giving references to the passages quoted in the Bhashya.
(2) Discussing some important readings or referring to them where they are specially interesting.
(3) Pointing out other passages parallel to some texts in the body of the Upanishad.
(4) Explaining in a few places the obscure language of the Bhashya which I have tried to retain in the translation as far as possible in order to make the translation of the text as faithful as I could. So in some places an explanation of the thought and its connection seemed necessary to be given in the foot-notes.
(5) In the translation the words that I found necessary to add are enclosed in rectangular brackets; while in the ordinary nooked brackets, I have enclosed explanations of the previous words which, though necessary, were too short for an independent note. The references to the quotations have been added in brackets immediately after the quotation as far as possible, and in some cases where that was convenient, they are given in the foot-notes.
As the language of the Bhashya on this Upanishad, particularly in the two long introductions that occur at the beginning of the 1st and the 4th sections, is in many places involved, unlike that of S'arirabhashya, and consequently the line of thought if not clearly grasped by a mere running translation of the text, I have adopted the plan of separating the paragraphs and marking the objections and answers, &c., in short marginal notes.
It is needless to say that the notes are given only in those places where they were felt to be extremely necessary and are admittedly far from being full.
Lastly, none is so conscious as the translator himself of the defects of this his humble attempt, but he has no other apology to offer than that he can do nothing better for the present.
23rd September, 1897.
H. M. BHADKAMKAR.
This translation formed the thesis for the Sujna Gokulji Zala Vedanta Prize (1893), of the University of Bombay, and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the Syndicate. The undersigned is under deep obligations to them for their having thus given him an opportunity of doing this humble service to the memory of his revered uncle.
1st February, 1922.
R. G. BHADKAMKAR
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