As the Academy has since been involved in bringing out ten principal Upanisads with commentaries conforming to Ramanuja's school of thought, in its Upanisad series now that Brhadaranyaka Upanisad being its latest addition.
The Upanisads as available in their present form today, are the results of subtle understanding of the nature by ancient seers through their discriminatingly participative observation. They had found in their constant endeavor the operative principles that sustain the cosmos as well as their ruling principle.
They were of the conviction that the ruling principle or the ultimate Reality should be the aim of life's journey to the know and attain to. The seers discovered that answers to their questions could not be found by living the life of an ordinary human being which is no better than that of an animal, the only difference being that the human beings are endowed with sophisticated mental capabilities.
With this back - ground, Upanisads being repository of universal Knowledge, there has to be a thorough and careful study of these texts which no doubt should elevate thinking level in humans.
I am very much pleased to express my heartily admiration for the Director Dr. Bhashyam Swamiji for his steadfast care in publishing this edition. I also thank the editor Sri.S. Narayana and his team for their splendid efforts in bringing out this Upanisad with four commentaries.
Brhadaranyaka is the greatest of the upanisads by not only its size but also by substance. The Academy is happy to present this edition of Upanisad with the aid of four commentaries namely "Prakasika" of Sri Rangaramanujamuni, "Pratipadarthadipika" of Sri Bharadwaja Ramanujacarya, Ananda Bhasyam' of Sri Ramanandacarya and 'Subodhini' of Sri Gopalanandaswamy, all construing to the view of Ramanuja's way of interpretation.
The Brhadaranyaka has in it all the central teaching of all the major Upanisads. This upanisad forms final portion of Satapathabrahmana. This upanisat represents a gamut of subject matters with its philosophical thought and spiritual insight, there are sublime conceptions available scattered all through the text as regards the nature of Brahman, of the universe, and destiny of man. There is a wonderful personification of the cosmos in the image of a horse to be meditaded upon that also represents the highest vedic sacrificial ritual of Asvamedha [horse sacrifice.]
Upanisads in general have had significant influence on the religion and philosophy of India. Throughout it has inspired many a great thinkers, saints, mystics as well, in their quest for spiritual enlightenment.
Upanisads essentially are pregnant with profound symbolism so seem to be holding impregnable mysticism. The passage of time has had produced many a great commentators rendering their comprehensible exegesis to these texts which has made reading of these texts not only familiar but also meaningful to an average reader.
Hence the greatness of subsequent commentaries by different thinkers belonging to different schools cannot be ignored.
I am deeply indebted to Dr.P. Narasimhan who had served in the Academy before for his outstanding - exclusive introduction to this vast Upanisad.
I promptly commend the efforts of sri S. Kumara, Registrar and Vid. S.Narayana, Vidushi M.V Savithri, Vid. K.N Rangapriya & Vid. R.Narayana Iyengar in completing the otherwise difficult task of bringing out an edition of this nature. I also extend my thanks to the composer Smt. M.R Nagamma for having done the job neatly. Thanks are also due to Vid. H.S HanumanthRao, sri Lokesh for their thematic cover page design and Sri Prasanna of M yore for book binding work.
Brhadaranyaka, as the name itself suggests, is the biggest of all the Upanisads. But it is named brhat not only because of its size but also because of its contents, which are some of the loftiest and noblest concepts and ideas.
However, some of the discussions, ordinations etc., in this Upanisad, nay, in the Upanisads in general, may look obscure and even trivial and of no value. In this connection, the observations of David Frawley regarding the Rg Veda are fully valid in the case of the U panisads as well. He says, it is a language more proper to a deeper level of consciousness than the rational intellect, a language we touch in art, dream, creative insight and meditation. This spiritual language sees all things as expressions of the Divine Word, notes a cosmic significance everywhere, each thing as a manifestation of the great totality. This capacity allowed the ancients to see in the simple phenomena of nature like fire, wind, sun, the cow, the bull or the horse, archetypal images of the entire universe, power of our own psyche and keys to its transformation from mortality to immortality. Yet this sense of great truth in the simple and organic, possible only through a great sensitivity to life, also became the basis for pronouncing these hymns to be primitive by the modern intellect that sees advancement not in oneness with life but in domination over it. (Ibid. p 30)
Going back to the Brhadarnyaka Upanisad, some of the observances of Prof. Raghavachar are worth recording for they seek to take on the criticism that the Upanisads contain stray and scattered thoughts, in a much formidable manner. We now give them as follows :< p> In characterizing in contents, due notice must be taken of the fact that it is an old prose Upanisad just emerging out of the Brahmana type of composition. Therefore, as could be fairly expected, on the analogy of the Chandogya, Aitareya and Kausitaki, it contains considerable matter that is hardly philosophical. Semi-mythological cosmology, psychology and speculation on rituals, old world religious practices and eschatology are naturally found.
Two general propositions on the Upanisad in question may by made at this stage and they may aid the comprehension of its focal value.
In the first place, the Brhadaranyaka seems to incorporate tin itself the central teachings of all the principal Upanisads. We notice in it what may be called a confluence of all views. The chronological ordering of the Upanisads is not quite material to this phenomenon. The fact whether the inclusiveness of the Upanisads is by way of recapitulation or anticipation however stands uncontested. The superficial view taken for granted by all writers on the subject that the Upanisads do not embody a single doctrine is seriously invalidated by a close scrutiny of this confluence of the several texts in the Brhadaranyaka.
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