The Upanisads: A Study of the Original Texts

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The Upanisads: A Study of the Original Texts
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The Upanisads: A Study of the Original Texts is intended to offer a new perspective on the study of the Upanisads. It will be surely helpful to all students of Indian philosophy, particularly those studying the texts of the Upanisads. It contains valuable information and insight not obtainable from the current literature on the subject.

There are twelve authoritative Upanisads. This study covers eight out of the twelve-Isa, Kena, Katha, Mundaka, Mandukya, Svetasvatara, Chandoogya and Brhadarabyaka. Its aim is to prove how discrimination and reliance on the original texts are the real sources of help in reading the Upanisads. The help given by the commentator is acceptable to the extent he is faithful to the original texts. Otherwise, it is not indispensable. The trustworthiness of a commentary is determined not by the large support received from scholars but solely by the measure of its fidelity to the original scripture.

 

About the Author

N. Jayashanmugam taught Philosophy at Annamalai University and later at Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry.

Influenced by the writings of Sri Aurobindo, he began in the year 1990 a close study of the original texts of the Upanisads. In 2000 Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi, awarded him a Senior Fellowship to complete the study under the project title Upanisads: A Study in Their Light.

He is self-appointed to an important task and the task is to unfold the unique teachings of the Upanishads. He has developed his own method of study and placed the original texts in an entirely new perspective.

 

Preface

The style of the Upanisads is very peculiar. But still, it was quite intelligible to the great scholars of the Vedas (mahasrotriyah) about whom we hear from the Chandogya Upanisad. We live in an age far removed from the age of these great scholars. As a result, we find the texts of Upanisads to be very difficult to comprehend. Now commentators come to our help. They elucidate the texts and make them intelligible to us.

A good commentator should have three essential qualities. First, he should be well-versed in all the original texts of the Upanisads. Second, he should have the skill to logically analyse the texts and successfully bring out their true import through the analysis. Third, he should be absolutely sincere in interpreting the text. Generally speaking. The undertaken by him. Instead of elucidating the texts for the sake of making them intelligible, he preconceived notions. As a result, he gives up the primary senses of the original words and puts into them his own personal ideas. His elucidation is really unfaithful to the original texts. In such cases, he does not help us. However, we wrongly think we are helped by him to understand the original teachings of the Upanisads. There are plenty of instances to prove that an innocent reader of the Upanisads is not really helped by the commentator whose work is a right elucidation of the original texts.

In the circumstance what is needed is this: We must use the power of discrimination and reject the wrong readings of the Upanisads through the authority of the original texts. By doing so we must try to arrive at the right readings of these texts. Destruction without construction serves no useful purpose.

There are twelve authoritative Upanisads. My book covers eight out of the twelve-Isa, Kena, Katha, Mundaka, Mandukya, Svetasvatara, Chandogya and Brhadaranyaka. It is a record of my long association with the Upanisads, my sustained attempt at reaching the reading. My aim is to prove how discrimination and reliance on the original texts are the real sources of help in reading the Upanisads. The help given by the commentator is acceptable to the extent he is faithful to the original texts. Otherwise, it is not indispensable. The trustworthiness of a commentary is determined not by the large support received from scholars but solely by the measure of its fidelity to the original scripture. There should be no doubt about it.

This book is intended to offer a new perspective to the study of the Upanisads, It will be surely helpful to all students of Indian Philosophy, particularly those studying the texts of the Upanisads. It contains valuable literature on the subject.

I take this opportunity to thank the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi, which granted me a Senior Fellowship for studying the Upanisads.

 

Contents

 

Preface vii
Isa Upanisad
Chapter 1 The Unique Possession 1
Chapter 2 The Dark Worlds 6
Chapter 3 Anti-Asceticism 25
Chapter 4 The Law of the Lord 39
Chapter 5 The Rule for Enjoyment 57
Chapter 6 Atmahan 68
Kena Upanisad
Chapter 7 The Isa and the Kena 82
Chapter 8 The Kena and the Vedic Ideal of Fulfilment 89
Katha Upanisad
Chapter 9 The Yoga of Birth and Dissolution 108
Mundaka Upanishad
Chapter 10 The Isa and the Mundaka 115
Chapter 11 The Two Vidyas 127
Chapter 12 Veda and Vedanta-Vyakhyana 137
Chapter 13 Works and Immortality 151
Mandukya Upanishad
Chapter 14 The World and the Mandukya Upanisad 164
Chapter 15 Gaudapada's Karika: Two Aspects 172
Chapter 16 Catuspadatma-Siddhi 180
Chandogya Upanisad
Chapter 17 The Example of Clay 202
Chapter 18 Scripture, Knowledge, and Delusion 216
Brhadaranyaka Upanisad
Chapter 19 Therefore That Become the World 228
Chapter 20 Death and Immortality 241
Chapter 21 Atma Vidya and Madhu Vidya: Two Expositions 254
General Topics
Chapter 22 Textual Evidence of the Theory of Maya 293
Chapter 23 The Mortal and the Immortal 302
Chapter 24 Two Forms of Synthesis of Yoga 312
Chapter 25 The Upanisads: A Survey of Their Teachings 337
Chapter 26 Yoga: A Means to Fulfilment 359
Allied Topics
Chapter 27 Two Types of Devotes 370
Chapter 28 The Sastra and the Brahmasutra 380
Chapter 29 Philosophy of the Upanisads: A Study by Sri Aurobindo 390
Conclusion
Chapter 30 An Answer to the Critics 403
Appendix 407
Bibliography 408
Index 410

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