Upanisads though contain speculative knowledge their relevancy cannot be overlooked altogether from the perspective of modern living. Indian mind, since time immemorial had dwelt upon the queries related to eschatology as well as epistemology rather narrowing them to mere empirical existence. For Upanisadic thoughts being invariably loftly ethical should act as leading light for the mankind to march towards meaningful existence. Even then Upanisads have come with utilitarian answers for harmless harmonious happy living that renders them to be relevant forever as man is increasingly involved in destructing his environs inclusive of animate as well as inanimate in his race of survival.
The mantra of pacifism stems from dispassionate indulgence which perhaps is one of basic tenets of Upanisads. Live and let live is its policy. They breath out pleasant air for hormonius healthy human living it is so the inclusion of human interest to Puff it to live elevated individually at the same time transpiring his overall well being socially as well.
There is a long list of lofty thoughts available in Upanisads such being the case kathopanisad the present text with you has plenty in store to offer universal values to your kind. The present edition of Kathopanisad has cone commentary namely Prakasika of Sri Rangaramanuja translated in to English by erudite scholar Dr. N.S. Anantharangachar.
I commend Dr. N.S. Anantharangachar for his lucid translation of original verses of this Upanisad as well as commentary. I hope this work will go a long way in helping common reader in comprehending true spirit of this Upanisad in the light of Visistadvatic perspective.
I appreciate whole heartedly Dr. Bhashyam Swamiji for his keen investigation to this edition. I also take pleasure in thanking Vid S. Narayana and his team for their neat editing of the book.
If ell deeply indebted to Dr. K.S. Narayanacharya for his stupendous as well as weighty introduction to this edition that makes this one of real value.
We take pleasure in presenting Kathopanisad in our Upanisad series translated into English by eminent scholar Dr. N.S. Anantharangachar. The present edition furnished with a commentary of Sri Rangaramanuja namely Prakasika that conforms to Ramanuja philosophy though lucid in style yet deep in thought.
The philosophy of Upanisads represent the epitome of human ideals that one can aspire. Since there have been philosophical strategies in the form of queries and rejoinders between an adept preceptor who treads the path of truth and a steadfast pupil unassumingly seeking the highest knowledge in these texts the transmit of highest knowledge was done through simple analogies.
The message of Upanisads have been to show that one should strive to acquire knowledge of ultimate reality which is without mutation and eternal in contrast to the knowledge of ever changing ephemeral empirical existence.
The Katha Upanisad consiting of two chapters and each chapter containing thee vallis aesthetics of poetry the logical strength of philosophy and the depth of spiritual experience.
I take his opportunity to convery gratitude to Dr. N.S. Anantharangachar for his dextrous translation of not only the original verses of Katha Upanisad but also of the commentary therewith. I am very much beholden to the service of Dr. K.S. Narayancharya for his rendition of versatile introduction to this upanisad. I also extend my thankful regards to Sri. S. Kumara Registrar, Vid, S. Narayana and Vid. R. Narayana Iyengar for apt presentation of verses with its translation correspondingly. Thanks are also due to Vid. H.S. Hanumantha Rao Sri Lokesh for the precise cover page design and also to our DTP composer Smt. M.N. Saraswathy printers K.S. Bettaswamygowda and G.N. Bettegowda and Sri Prasanna for his neat binding of the book.
No doubt, the Upanisad has a captivating style of expression, exposition, and teaching, in a dramatic set up, having recourse to the method of myth, which is man’s oldest, and highest mode of preserving and communicating valuable thoughts, when ordinary language fails. It is proportioned into neat chapters, and the teaching arranged in installments of ascending order of value ajzd importance. We can now examine the thoughts themselves, one by one, from our list.
I. The Nature of Boom obtained by Nachiketas
In the main ten boons asked for are as follows:
1. “Oh Death! Let my father have a peaceful, pleased mind on my return to him; sleep well at nights, without anger, and let him
be in a mood to welcome me back with honeyed word.” (1-10)
2. “They say that in the Heavens there is no fear; for you are not there; none fears death though old age, having crossed hunger and thirst, being beyond sorrow, one enjoys in those heavens. You know the worship of a fire that can lead there; teach me that to me, 351 am thinking with faith to reach there”. (1-12 up to 13)
3. “When one dies, there is this doubt about, what it yet to be known some say he is still in existence others say he is no more in existence. Here is, truly, some Enlightenment to be taught by you, as my third boon”. (1-21).
Let us look at the first one; Apparently it looks like a mundane boon, that the father of the lad should be blessed with peace of mind, sound sleep at nights etc., so that the lads return-home may be a welcome event for that irritable father! It also throws light on the traits of Ouddalaki Aururii. But is this all Sankara, and Madhva, here, take the thee questions, and answer as on the mere textual superficial level, concerning the nature of a heavenly fire, the nature of the individual soul, and God.
But 1&imanuja in his Sribhasya (1-4-6) takes a deeper look at the questions, and concludes that they are inter - related and they are one- in- three, and one more than mere personal boons of Nachiketas! (Asmin prakaraoe hi upayopeyopetrl2am trayaciameva caivamupanyasati -. jneyatvenopanyäsab, tadviayaca pratno drsyate.
(i) The boon regarding his fathers being blessed with peace of mind etc has overtones of what one should be like, if one wants to be an aspirant of final release from cycles of sorrow, and of Beatitude. The boy is here of merely concerned with his own father’s future, but in general about all learners after that grand goal. Otherwise what is the use of Visvajit sacrifice, or of any other, and of charity, fasting and other vows, which his father has been meticulously observing all these years, adhering to the mere word of Vedic injunctions ? This concerns, hence, the nature of ‘Upetr’ ; one who makes, (or ought to make), efforts for release from worldly bondage, This can be elaborated contextually, and also in a larger philosophical perspective, and enjoyed as literary exegesis. Truly a very convincing interpretation.
(ii) The second boon, asking to be taught into an Agnividya the secret of a ‘sacrifice’ leading to heaven is even more intricate! The ‘Heavens’ talked of here, cannot be the one of physical pleasures as presided over by Indra, and as full of enjoyable divine damsels like Kambha, Urvaál, etc, as described in the Puraas. The ‘Heavenly fire’ (svargyam Agnim) cannot be one of sacrifices connected with Asvamedha, or such other mundane ritual, as this interpretation would both negate the context, and nullify the third boon, showing the boy as not truly interested in Salvation. No doubt, the word used is, Heavens, ‘Svarga’. But the boy himself specified that it is ‘Heavens’ “where there is no fear, where there is no jurisdiction of Death, no old age,” which one can reach only after crossing mires of hunger and thirst, where one enjoys eternal bliss, beyond all sorrows, where one becomes Immortal. How can all this apply to a transient heaven of extended mundane pleasure, as a temporary paradise?
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