The present volume contains the Text, Translation, important . Notes and exhaustive Commentary on Nine Principal Upanishads. Originally, these Principal Texts appeared in two volumes in earlier editions, and sometime after the publication of the same, these works of His Holiness Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj went out of print for many years. For some reason or other, the reprinting of these famous Scriptures with the Commentary of His Holiness could not become possible, though students of the Prasthanatraya,-the triple foundation of Indian Philosophy, viz., the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavadgita,- were eager to . see the coming out of these treasures of writing and were actually communicating to us their requests in this regard incessantly.
The greatness and the sublimity of the Upanishads are well known to all students of philosophy. There have been many attempts to approach the books through various standpoints. Much has been written over the -knotty problems of interpretation, by Eastern and Western scholars. And yet, the lay reader has not understood the central teachings fully well. In this volume, Sri Swamiji has stressed such points clearly and truly, explaining the abstruse ideas in his own inimitable style, thus laying bare the sacred doctrine not only before the eligible pupil but also the lay reader.
Sri Swami Sivananda
Born on the 8th September, 1887, in the illustrious family of Sage Appayya Dikshita and several other renowned saints and savants, Sri Swami Sivananda had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Added to this was an inborn eagerness to serve all and an innate feeling of unity with all mankind.
His passion for service drew him to the medical career; and soon he gravitated to where he thought that his service was most needed. Malaya claimed him. He had earlier been editing a Health Journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed right knowledge most of all; dissemination of that knowledge he espoused as his own mission.
It was divine dispensation and the blessing of God upon mankind that the doctor of body and mind renounced his career and took to a life of renunciation to qualify himself for ministering to the soul of man. He settled down at Rishikesh in 1924, Practised intense austerities and shone as a great Yogi, saint, sage and Jivanmukta.
In 1932 he started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 was born The divine Life Society. In 1948 the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organized. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and training of people in Yoga and Vedanta were their aim and object. In 1950 he undertook a lightning tour of India and Ceylon. In 1953 he convened a 'World Parliament of Religions'. He is the author of over 300 volumes and nationalities, religions and creeds. To read his works is to drink at the Fountain of Wisdom Supreme. On 14th July, 1963 he entered Mahasamadhi.
The Greatness and the sublimity of the Upanishads are well known to all students of philosophy. There have been many attempts to approach the books through various standpoints. Much has been written over the knotty problems of interpretation, by Eastern and Western scholars. And yet, the lay reader has understood the central teachings not fully well. In this Volume, Sri Swamiji has stressed such points clearly and truly, explaining the abstruse ideas in his own inimitable style, thus laying bare the sacred doctrine not only before the eligible pupil but also the lay reader.
The present volume contains the Text, Translation, important Notes and exhaustive Commentary on Nine Principal Upanishads. Originally, these Principal texts appeared in two volumes in earlier editions, and sometime after the publication of the same, these works of His Holiness Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj went out of print for may years. For some reason or other, the reprinting of these famous Scriptures with the Commentary of His Holiness could not become possible, though students of the Prasthanatraya,-the triple foundation of Indian Philosophy, viz., the Upanishads, the Brahmasutas and the Bhagavadgita,-were eager to see the coming out of these treasures of writing and were actually communicating to us their requests in this regard incessantly.
The holy event of the Centenary of His Holiness, however, became a noble incentive to the Management of The Divine Life Society for considering the reprinting of all the major works of the saintly Founder, and it was thought that the Upanishads should certainly receive preference, considering the immense value of these original masterpieces with the touching exposition from the Master's pen. So, the third edition of the Eight Principal Upanishads was published in 1983 in a single volume. Now, we have added the Mandukyopanishad in this edition.
The Upanishads are the cream of the Vedas. Each of the four Vedas, the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda, has its own philosophical and mystical crowning teachings, which go by the name of the Upanishads. The breadth of vision, the profundity of insight and the marvelous gamut of inclusiveness revealed in these holy writings, considered as Sruti, or revealed Divine Messages, are remarkable and breath-taking. The other two among the triple the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavadgita, the former directly there in the Upanishads, and the latter known as the sweet milk extracted from the milch-cow of the Upanishads. Thus, the present publication should be an almost unexpected satisfaction and joy and a welcome to the heart of everyone who has found it possible to recognised the unavoidable necessity of living the Inner Life
UPANISHADS-A TREASURE OF WISDOM
Prostrations to Satchidananda Parabrahman, who is the prop, basis and source for everything! Salutations to all Brahmavidya-Gurus or the preceptors of the knowledge of the Brahman!
There is no book in the whole world that is so thrilling, soul-stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads. The philosophy taught by the Upanishads has been the source of solace for many, both in the East and the West. The human intellect has not been able to conceive of anything more noble and sublime in the history of the world than the teachings of the Upanishads. The Upanishads contain the essence of the Vedas. They are the source of the Vedanta philosophy. Profound, original, lofty and sublime thoughts arise from every verse. They contain the direct spiritual experiences or revelations of seers, or sages, the Rishis. They are the products of the highest wisdom, supreme divine knowledge. Hence they stir the hearts of people and inspire them.
The glory or grandeur of the Upanishads cannot be adequately described in words, because words are finite and language is imperfect. The Upanishads have indeed greatly contributed to the peace and solace of mankind. They are highly elevating and soul-stirring. Millions of aspirants have drawn inspiration and guidance from the Upanishads. They are the cream of the Vedas. They are treasures of incalculable value. They are rich in profound philosophical thought. They are regarded as the very acme of philosophical thought. Their intrinsic value is very great. There is immense depth of meaning in the passages and verses. The language is beautiful.
The Upanishads give a vivid description of the nature of the Atman, the Supreme Soul, in a variety of ways, and expound suitable methods and aids to attain the immortal Brahman, the Highest Purusha.
Ages have passed since they were first presented to the world. Even now they are remarkably sweet and charming. Their freshness is unique. Their fragrance is penetrating. Many cannot live today without the study of the Upanishads daily. They provide supreme food for the soul.
It is said that Schopenhauer, the renowned philosopher of the West, always had a book of the Upanishads on his table, and was in the habit, before going to bed, of performing his devotions from its pages. He said, "In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death".
The Upanishads have undoubtedly exercised and will continue to exercise a considerable influence on the religion and philosophy of India. They present a view of reality which would certainly satisfy the scientific, the philosophic, as well as the religious aspirations of man.
ORIGIN OF THE UPANISHADS
The Upanishads are metaphysical treatises which are replete with sublime conceptions of Vedanta and with intuitions of universal truths. The Indian Rishis and seers of yore endeavoured to grasp the fundamental truths of being. They tried to solve the problems of the origin, the nature and the destiny of man and of the universe. They attempted to grasp the meaning and value of knowing and being. They endeavoured to find a solution for the problems of the means of life, and the world, and of the relation of the individual to the 'Unseen', or the Supreme Soul. They sought earnestly satisfactory solutions to these profound questions: Who am I? What is this universe or Samsara? Whence are we born? On what do we rest? Where do we go? Is there any such thing as immortality, freedom, perfection, eternal bliss, everlasting peace, Atman, Brahman, or the Self, Supreme Soul, which is birthless, deathless, changeless, self-existent? How to attain Brahman or Immortality?
They practised right living, Tapas, introspection, self-analysis, enquiry and meditation on the pure, inner Self and attained Self-realisation. Their intuitions of deep truths are subtle and direct. Their inner experiences, which are direct, first-hand, intuitive and mystical, which no science can impeach, which all philosophies declare as the ultimate goal of their endeavours, are embodied in the sublime books called the Upanishads.
Some Western scholars have fixed the age of the Upanishads as B.C. 600, or so. They regard that all of them belong to the pre-Buddhistic period. This is a sad mistake indeed. The Upanishads are the knowledge portion, or Jnana-Kanda, of the Vedas. They are eternal. They came out of the mouth of Hiranyagarbha, or Brahman. How can one fix the date of the Upanishads? They existed even before the creation of this world.
The Upanishads are a source of deep mystic divine knowledge which serves as the means of freedom from this formidable Samsara, earthly bondage. They are world-scriptures. They appeal to the lovers of religion and truth in all races, and at all times. They contain profound secrets of Vedanta, or Jnana-Yoga, and practical hints and clues which throw much light on the pathway of Self-realisation.
SIGNIFICANCE AND IDEAL
There are four Vedas, viz., Rig, Yajur, Saman and Atharvan. The word "Veda" comes from the root "Vid", "to know". It means a book of wisdom. The Vedas are eternal, not the books but the Ideas contained in the Vedas. They have come out of the mouth of the Lord.
Each Veda consists of Mantras, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads. The Mantras are hymns in praise of the gods such as Indra, Varuna, Agni, etc. They are all collected, and the collections are known as the Samhitas. The Brahmanas deal with the performance of sacrificial rites. The Upanishads contain the philosophy of Vedanta or ancient wisdom of the Rishis (Jnana).
Knowledge of the Upanishads destroys ignorance, the seed of Samsara. "Shad" means to "shatter" or "destroy". By having knowledge of the Upanishads, one is able to sit near Brahman, i.e., to attain Self-realisation. Hence the name 'Upanishad'. Knowledge of Brahman is called 'Upanishad', because it leads to Brahman and helps the aspirants to attain Brahman. The term 'Upanishad' is applied to the book also in a secondary sense, by courtesy.
The following two ideas dominate the teaching of all the Upanishads: (1) Final emancipation can be attained only by knowledge of the Ultimate Reality, or Brahman (Brahma- jnana); (2) He who is equipped with the four means of salvation, viz., Viveka (discrimination), Vairagya (dispassion), Shad-sampat (the sixfold treasure-self-control, etc.) and Mumukshutva (yearning for liberation), can attain Brahman. The Upanishads teach the philosophy of absolute unity. The goal of men, according to the Upanishads, is realisation of Brahman. Self-realisation alone can dispel ignorance and bestow immortality, eternal bliss, and everlasting peace. Knowledge of Brahman alone can remove all sorrows, delusion and pain.
The subject matter of the Upanishads (Vishaya) is the highest Brahman, or the Supreme Soul. The fruit (Prayojana) of this knowledge is the attainment of immortality, or Moksha, the consequent freedom from the bondage of Samsara (Atyanta-Samsaranivritti and Brahmaprapti). The connection (Sambandha) has also been stated by the declaration of this result. The person (Adhikari) entitled to study the Upanishad, to practise the enquiry of Brahman and meditation on the Self, is the one who is equipped with the four means of salvation. This is the Anubandha-Chatushtaya.
The Upanishads are rightly called the Vedanta, the end of the Vedas, that which is reserved for those who have freed themselves from the bonds of formal religion. The Upanishads are not meant for the masses, as they contain the highest speculations of philosophy. They are meant only for the select few, who are fit and worthy to receive the instructions. Hence the term 'Upanishad' signified at first, 'secret teaching' or 'secret doctrine'. As already stated, Sadhana-Chatushtaya (the fourfold means) is the primary qualification for an aspirant of Jnana-Yoga, or one who seeks the knowledge of the Upanishads.
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