It is something persistently reminds from our within or without that it is subtle yet constant, intangible yet institutively conspicuous, the numinous feel in concrete fleet of experiential existence. It is essentially ‘real’ to be realized, the principle substratum holding together the microcosm and macrocosms. The search for principle cause behind the origin of creation might have begun long before in India by intuitive minds, their reflective thoughts found expression through Upanishads. The Upanishads coming at the closing parts of the Vedas are distinctive by their discussions and deliberations on one central theme presented through narratives and dialogues between the seeker and the master; their objective is to make man aware of transitory nature of the world as against the nature of the Supreme Lord which is immutable, eternal and auspicious.
The Academy of Sanskrit Research at Melkote since its inception has engaged in research and publication activity in order to provide a true reader with critically edited texts on ancient wisdom in general and Acharya Ramanuja’s philosophy in particular. In this endeavour it has brought out all principal Upanishads with lucid commentaries as available written by great masters conforming to Bhagavad Ramanuja’s thought.
We have different enumerations on the number of Upanishads to be considered principal as well as authentic by the parameter that they received comments from great trinity of ‘Acharyas’. This measure holds good for ‘Subalopanishat’ too. We are happy to present our reader with ASR edition of ‘Subalaopanishat’ with a commentary by ‘Sudarshanasuri’ for first five sections as available to us.
We take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to our Research officer Vid. S. Narayana, for having critically edited the text. We express our gratitude to the research assistants and technical staff for their worthwhile efforts in bringing out the book.
A transition from hymns seeking certain benefits from gods to reflective thoughts pondering over the immutable reality that is underlying flux of things is what forms the characteristic of Upanishads. Thus Upanishads present us with higher plane of thinking and learning. The tendency to know and realize root of things is discernable in the ‘Upanisadic’ literature.
Whatever human ‘endeavour’ aspires to beget from the performance of sacrifices and observing rites come with a shelf life; it might have been in achieving heaven, or begetting a cherished offspring or securing a dream kingdom. This obtaining is liable to decay and disappearance.
Transitory nature of all these fortunes is blurred by the fetish for temporal wealth. Once the earthly gains leave us or when we have to depart from them human mind swoons at the loss. It is not to render us with a pessimistic view of life or to make us laid back, but to bring about an attitude to keep working till death without always being hell-bent on yields. This attitude provides us with a healthy position to assess things in adversity, and to put things in perspective.
Then how does the realization of the highest principle transpire in the seeker? An untiring repeated exhortation is observable right through Upanisads in order to make a seeker grasp the nature of ordinary to extraordinary things as to ascend flights of higher planes. This has been achieved by way of instructions, parables, narratives, tales and dialogues. It is not that every ‘Upanishad’ has a new message or theme but they try to adopt different ways and means to reach the seeker to prepare him for higher and higher accomplishments.
A seeker of perishable commodity is instructed to be a seeker of truth that of Supreme Truth by the teaching of Upanishad. It explores before him the gross and subtle elements finely compounded together to form the world of manifestations. The invisible principle working as the catalyst to conjure up world of actions and reactions is pondered over and an intriguing dialogue ensues between the seeker and master in the Upanishads.
Hence the word ‘Upanisad’ receives a multi-dimensional meaning where great masters of the past to present have accorded it variously. Though we have grammatical as well as etymological derivations of the term, the wholeness of the meaning underlies in its caring of an ardent seeker to be removed of ignorance to tread the path of right knowledge and elevate him to higher planes of thinking and living as to attain an unblemished state of permanent bliss. Upanishads claim vociferously that dispassion toward results brings in joy and liberate him from tedious worldly trap.
The concept of the higher state or liberation, the relation of matter and the spirit, the concept of personal god are all differed by different schools. The different interpretational ways and philosophical discussions and their standpoints poised to bring forth monistic, dualistic and qualified monistic views. The seeker of truth is blessed to have the wealth of analytical acumen of saintly masters of the bygone era, if he is studious enough to search and research to know the supreme truth.
We present here one of the fourteen Upanishads namely ‘Subalopanishat’ taken up by Acharya Ramanuja in elucidating ‘Vedantasutras’. Excluding ten principal Upanishads from ‘Kena’ to ‘Brhadaranyaka’, we come across important passages of ‘Kousitaki brahmanopanisat’, ‘Swetasuatara’ ‘Mahanarayana’ and ‘Subala’ being referred to by Ramanuja in his lengthy commentary to ‘Brahmasutras’.
As we often find prolixity of subject-matter of Upanishads, ‘Antaryami Brahmana’ of ‘Brahadarnyaka’ gets repeated in ‘Subala’ with addition of more illustrations of the bodies of ‘Antaryamin’ and this ‘Antaryamin’ is proclaimed to be ‘Narayana’. This Upanisad attached to ‘Suklayajurveda’ introduces us to a lineage of preceptors involving the ‘Supreme Lord’, ‘Apantaratamas’, ‘Brahma’, ‘Ghora Angirasa’, Raikva’ and ‘Rama’ thus doctrinal lore imparted to posterity.
This Upanisad consisting of sixteen sections begins with the query that “What was there then” in order to get to the origin of the world. The rejoinder for this reminds ‘Nasadiya Sukta’ of ‘Rgveda’ which states that it was neither existent nor non-existent or both. It was from the darkness the entire creation gradually emerged and evolved. There is the description of flux of things as coming out of divinely cosmic person. The creation of celestial beings to ordinary mortals, the great scriptural wisdoms from the Vedas to all subsequent learning have sprang forth from Him. An entire gamut of comprehensible entities find mention in the Upanisad as evolved from the same principle cause.
The cream of Upanisad is churned out while it glorifies ‘Narayana’ as the basis and the support of the world. He is not only hailed as the inevitable support but as the Supreme Self indwelling all that exist. He is the inner controller of all. As quoted by one of the early scholars of high erudition it goes thus “This seems to have been an ancient equation in Vedic thought for even ‘Sankara’ in his interpretation of the ‘Brhadaranyaka’ construes the ‘Antaryamin’ as ‘Narayana’’’. And it is further strengthened by the reference made by the author of ‘Narayaniya’ that ‘Shankara’ being no partisan in his views chose to comment on ‘Visnusahasranama’ supposes that ‘Narayana’ is in reality the Supreme Deity.
This apart, there is the mystic imagery of yogic equation concerning bodily ‘Nadis’, secrete places, subtler centers all interlinked yet functioned by the ‘self’. The three states of experience of the soul in waking, dream, and dreamless sleep that come for discussion brings in its proximity to ‘Mandukya’. The concept of liberation, final dissolution of the world, have all been implicit in the Uapnisad.
Bhagavad Ramanuja quotes some of the important passages from this Upansiad in the Jinasadhikarana of ‘Sri Bhasyam’ (1-1-1). Nothing seems to be overwhelming for Acharya than the ‘Upanisadic’ claim of ‘Narayana’ as the ‘unparalleled supreme reality’.
This edition of ‘Subalopanisat’ is presented with a ‘Vivrti’ o ‘explanatory glosses’ by ‘Srisudarshanasuri’. According to traditional accounts ‘Sudarshanasuri’ the great grandson of ‘Kurattalvan’ was exceptionally brilliant as he was able to reproduce whatever he heard from his teacher. He used to write exactly and lucidly the discourses he learnt from his preceptors thus he was accorded the revered title ‘Srutaprakashikacharya’ for his erudition to ‘bring to light the esoteric meaning’. ‘Srutaprakashika’ is the name of his lengthy commentary on the Magnum opus of Acharya Ramanuja namely ‘Sribhashyam’. This apart he has authored commentaries on other works of ‘Ramanuja’. His commentary on ‘Subalopanishat’ in the light of ‘Visistadvaita’ is one of them.
Though ‘Subalopanisat’ contains sixteen sections, the commentary is presented for first five sections as that much is available to us and the rest as it is. We have appended here the index of source texts, list of names of the Lord and others. We are indebted to ‘Sri Uttamur Viraraghavacharya’s’ publication of ‘Shwetashwataropanishad’ for having taken necessary help in preparing the appendix.
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