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Book Code: ES124
Hardback:
539 pages
ISBN: 81-7052-001-0
Book Dimensions: 9.0 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 355 grams

THE PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS

Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya,
Aitareya and Svetasvatara Upanishads with
Text, Meaning, Notes and Commentary

by Swami Sivananda

Table of Contents

About This Book (Back Cover)  
Dedication (5)
Publishers’ Note (8)
Guru-Vandana (10)

Preface

(11)
   

ISAVASYA UPANISHAD

 
Introduction 21
Isavasya Upanishad 22
   

KENOPANISHAD

 
Introduction 35
Prathama Khanda (Section I) 37
Dvitiya Khanda (Section II) 47
Tritiya Khanda (Section III) 56
  61

KATHOPANISHAD

 
Introduction 68
Chapter I—Prathama Valli 72
Chapter I—Dvitiya Valli 89
Chapter I—Tritiya Valli 107
Chapter II—Prathama Valli 120
Chapter II—Dvitiya Valli 131
Chapter II—Tritiya Valli 143
   

PRASNOPANISHAD

 

Introduction

156
Prathama Prasna (Question I) 157
Dvitiya Prasna (Question II) 171
Tritiya Prasna (Question III) 179
Chaturtha Prasna (Question IV) 188
Panchama Prasna (Question V) 196
Shashtha Prasna (Question VI) 202
   

MUNDAKOPANISHAD

 
Introduction 209
First Mundaka—Prathama Khanda 213
First Mundaka—Dvitiya Khanda 221
Second Mundaka—Prathama Khanda 232
Second Mundaka—Dvitiya Khanda 240
Third Mundaka—Prathama Khanda 253
Third Mundaka—Dvitiya Khanda 264
   

MANDUKYOPANISHAD

 
Mandukyopanishad 275
   

TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD

 
Introduction 297
Siksha-valli 299
Brahmananda-valli 336
Bhrigu-valli 386
   

AITAREYA UPANISHAD

 
Introduction 409
Prathama Khanda (Section I) 413
Dvitiya Khanda (Section II) 419
Tritiya Khanda (Section III) 424
Chaturtha Khanda (Section IV) 433
Panchama Khanda (Section V) 441
   

SVETASVATARA UPANISHAD

 
Introduction 449
Chapter I 449

Chapter II

462
Chapter III 473
Chapter IV 487
Chapter V 500
Chapter VI 509
APPENDIX 527

OM
DEDICATED TO
THE SEERS OF THE UPANISHADS
AND
JAGAT-GURU SRI SANKARACHARYA
OM


About This Book

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.


10th October 1941

Beloved aspirants,

There is no book in the whole world that is so thrilling, soul-stirring and inspiring as the Upanishad.

The philosophy taught by the Upanishads has been the source of solace for many both in the East and the West.

The Upanishads teach the philosophy of absolute unity. They contain the sublime truths of Vedanta and practical hints and clues which throw much light on the pathway of Self-realisation.


Publishers’ Note

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.

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 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 marvellous 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 foundations of Indian Culture and Spirituality mentioned, are the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavadgita, the former directly concerning interpretation of specific points occurring here and 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 recognise the unavoidable necessity of living the Inner Life.

Shivanandanagar,
1st January, 1998

—THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY


Preface

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.

Anubandha Chatushtaya

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.

Adhikari

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.

Conclusion

In the preparation of this book, I have very closely followed the commentary of Bhagavan Sri Sankaracharya and have explained his view in regard to the usage of certain technical terms occurring in the text. The views of the Dvaita School of philosophy and other commentators have also been included here and there to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of the philosophy dealt with herein.

Glory to the Upanishads! Glory to the Seers of the Upanishads! May their blessings be upon us all!!

Ananda Kutir,
Rishikesh,
1st March, 1942


ISAVASYA UPANISHAD

INTRODUCTION

The following are the major Upanishads:

1. Isavasya Upanishad, or Vajasaneyi Upanishad
2. Kena Upanishad, or Talavakara Upanishad
3. Katha Upanishad
4. Prasna Upanishad
5. Mundaka Upanishad
6. Mandukya Upanishad
7. Taittiriya Upanishad
8. Aitareya Upanishad
9. Chhandogya Upanishad
10. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

These ten have sometimes been called the old and genuine Upanishads. They are the classical Upanishads or the fundamental Upanishads of the Vedanta Philosophy. Some include the Kaushitaki Upanishad and Svetasvatara Upanishad also under the classical Upanishads. Sri Sankara and other Acharyas have written commentary on the ten Upanishads only.

The Isavasya Upanishad is a beautiful Upanishad. The very first line of the first Mantra, "Isavasyamidam Sarvam—This whole world is covered by the Lord", induces a thrilling inspiration in the minds of the readers. Meditation on this idea alone will lead to the attainment of the Knowledge of the Self. He who contemplates on the significance of the first line will become a Seer of Oneness, a Knower of the Self. He will have a direct vision of the Reality and inner Illumination. The Upanishad, though apparently simple and intelligible, is in reality one of the most difficult to understand properly.

The aspirant should sit at the lotus-feet of an experienced teacher, a Shrotriyam, a Brahma-Nishtha, and study this Upanishad with one-pointed and pure mind. Then everything will become quite clear. The reader should try to grasp clearly the meanings of the terms Vidya, Avidya, Sambhuti, Asambhuti, Vinasha, Death, Immortality, Krato, etc. Immortality here means relative immortality, not absolute Immortality.

This Upanishad prescribes two paths, viz., the path of renunciation or Jnana Yoga for Sannyasins, and the path of action or Karma Yoga for those who cannot renounce the world. The desirability of combining Karma with the worship of deity (inferior knowledge of god), and of combining worship of Hiranyagarbha with the worship of Avyaktam or unborn Prakriti is mentioned in this Upanishad. Live in the spirit of this Upanishad. Realise the Self. Rejoice in Sat-Chit-Ananda Atman. May the blessings of the seers of the Upanishad be upon you all!


Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamevavashishyate!
Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih

The Whole is all That. The Whole is all This. The Whole was
born of the Whole. Taking the Whole from the Whole, what
remains is the Whole.
Om Peace! Peace! Peace!

Every Veda has its particular peace-chant for its Upanishads. These chants are recited in the beginning and at the end of the Upanishad. The oneness of the universe with the Brahman is beautifully described in this chant.

OM Isavasyamidam sarvam yat kimcha jagatyam jagat
Tena tyaktena bhunjitha, ma gridhah kasyasvid dhanam

1. All this—whatsoever moves in this universe (and those
that move not)—is covered (inhabited, pervaded, enveloped or
clothed) by the Lord. That renounced, enjoy. Do not covet the
wealth of any man.

Notes and Commentary

This first Mantra deals with Jnana-nishtha. It is addressed to those who struggle for the attainment of Knowledge of Brahman or Atma-Jnana. This is the Nivritti Marga of Sannyasins or the path of renunciation.

The word Isa comes from the verb Ishte, to rule. It means ‘by the Lord’. The Lord or Isvara rules the whole world. He is the Supreme Ruler. Vasyam means ‘to be covered’ or ‘to be inhabited’. Sankara explains that one should lose the sense of this unreal world in realising Brahman with the idea, ‘I alone am all this as being the inner Self of all’.

This world of Nama, Rupa, Kriya and Guna (name, form, action and quality), is superimposed upon the Atman, on account of Avidya or nescience. Therefore duality has cropped up. There are the doer, enjoyer, knower, known, seer, seen, subject, object, etc. He, who contemplates on the Self as the Paramatman, or pure Brahman, will surely renounce the three kinds of desires, viz., son, wealth, name and fame (Putreshana, Vitteshana and Lokeshana). Tena tyaktena means ‘by such renunciation’. Tyaktena means ‘renunciation’. Sankara takes this as a noun. Svit is a participle which has no meaning. As the world is unreal and as the objects are worthless, what is the use of coveting others’ wealth? Further, you will get the supreme, imperishable wealth of Atman by Self-realisation.

Renounce (the desires of) the world. Renounce (the desires of) the other world. Renounce egoism, selfishness, Deha-adhyasa (body-idea). Renounce the desire for liberation. Renounce the renunciation itself (Tyaga Abhimana). Then you will become That. You will be in Itself. "Brahmavat Brahmaiva Bhavati-The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman". Desire for liberation will destroy all earthly desires. You must renounce the desire for liberation also. "Na karmana na prajaya dhanena tyagenaike amritatvam-anasuh-Neither by works nor by progeny, nor by riches, but by renunciation alone one attains immortality".

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