The Upanisads are the culmination of the Vedas. Therefore they are known as the Vedanta. The religious message given by Swami Vivekananda was based on the Vedanta. The Swamiji urged his followers to popularise the thoughts treasured in the Upanisad at home and abroad. Bearing this idea in mind the second president of this Math started the Upanisad Series thirty-five years ago. Each Upanisad belonging to this Series contains the text in bold Devanagari type, word-by-word meaning, translation based on tradition, Introduction briefly summarizing the subject matter, and elaborate Notes. About a dozen Upanisads are specially illuminated by the superb Commentary of Sri Sankaracarya, who lived over one thousand years ago. They are the most authoritative Upanisads; and eleven of them are now made available in this Series. Most of them have undergone many editions and reprints, and have gained popularity in several parts of the world. Heartened by this wide welcome given to the Upanisad Series, we now publish the Mahanarayanopanisad which, as far as we know, has not yet been translated into English fully and with complete explanation.
The special importance of this text, which is counted as part of the Krsnayajurveda, to the religious Hindu is perhaps unequalled by any other work of its class. We have therefore endeavored to bring out a suitable edition of this abstruse text with aids for understanding its traditional import. An interpretation of the text in easy Sanskrit is a new feature of this publication. This is specially added with a view to help those readers who know only Sanskrit and not English. It will also render the received meaning clearer to those users of the translation who possess some knowledge of Sanskrit.
Much religious material has been digested into the critical and explanatory Notes. This is indented to meet the needs of those who value this sacred text particularly for its spiritual and devotional use. The practice of putting notes on words indicated by superior figures was the custom in the preceding members of the Series. It has been given up here in order to make the reading of the explanatory Notes smooth and continuous. This Upanisad together with its preceding Prapathaka-divided into Siksa - Ananda-Bhrgu-Vallis-is chanted solemnly on special religious occasions. So the text is given here with accent marks in order to facilitate its recital. This will be welcomed by those who have no long training in the customary Vedic recitation.
Ramakrishna Math, Madras
Introduction to the First Edition:
MODERN investigations have revealed that the 2600 million people on this globe speak 2796 different languages and dialects belonging to different families of speech. Of these those that have a long literary past and are still influencing the thought of millions of people are not very many. The collection of hymns, litanies and prayers, under the comprehensive term Vedas, transmitted by oral tradition for as the oldest literature available for the purpose of studying the religious thoughts exercising a considerable influence over the people of a significant part of Asia for many millenniums. Those languages which have preserved past thoughts in literary form, either as written records or oral traditions, alone have been a recognizable power in the evolution of the intellectual, moral and spiritual life of mankind. The scattered splinter-speech communities have not produced any literary heirloom exemplify; and, consequently, they have not made any deep impression on human civilization. The dialects, which have sustained the intercourse of many small groups of have changed and even disappeared without a vestige. The literature preserved in the Vedas through the religious fervour of a highly sensitive people who paid the greatest attention to the careful training of the ear for sound, for rhythm, speech melody, and precision of grammar uncontaminated by local idioms, stands almost unique in the history of human culture. Today the study of the Vedas has, therefore, attracted the attention and interest of people in various parts of the world.
An account of the nature and division of the Vedas will be found in the introduction to the Isavasyopanisad included in the Upanisad Series published by the Ramakrishna Math. This publication is the twelfth in the Series. In the collection of One-hundred-and-eight Upanisads, published several times from Bombay and other places, two works are included with the title Narayanopanisad. Of these the longer one includes a variety of subjects of great importance in the daily observances of a religious Hindu. It is accepted as a part of the Krsnayajurveda and is distinguished generally by the designation Mahanarayanopanisad . The same Upanisad is known also as Yajniki-upanisad on the ground that Yajnatma Narayana is considered to be the seer of this part of the Veda. Like the other Vedas the Yajurveda is divided into samhita and Brahmana. The Taittiriya recension of its has the Taittiriya-ranyaka as an extension of the brahmana. The Taittiriya-ranyaka according to Sayanacarya has ten prapathakas of which this Upanisad forms the last one. Bhattabhaskara who wrote a Commentary on the whole of Yajurveda, anterior to Sayana, substitutes the term prasna for the division heading prapathaka, and calls this as the last prasna. Both the exegetists accept the name Yajnikyupanisad.
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