About the Book
The philosophical essence of Hinduism explained This book is a thoroughly researched primer on the 108 Upanishads, philosophical treatises that form a part. of the Vedas, the revered Hindu texts. The Upanishads contain the most crystallized bits of wisdom gleaned from Hinduism. Roshen Dalai explains the concepts at the core of each Upanishad informatively and lucidly. Moreover, her vast, diverse philosophical and theological readings add priceless scholarly context to this comprehensive and fascinating volume.
About the Author
Roshen Dalal was born in Mussoorie and has lived in various places in India, including Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi, before settling in Dchradun, where she now resides. She has an MA and a PhD in ancient Indian history from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has taught both at school and university, and been involved in research in the fields of history, religion, philosophy and education. She is the author of the bestselling two-volume The Puffin History of India; The Puffin History of the World, also in two volumes; India at 70: Snapshots since Independence; The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths; Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide; The Vedas: An Introduction to Hinduism's Sacred Texts and The Compact Timeline History of the World. Her latest book is a novel, The Guru Who Came Down from the Mountain.
THE UPANISHADS ARE Sanskrit texts that form part of Vedic literature. The rishis who composed the Upanishads were not composing historical texts, but were attempting to convey great spiritual truths. The main concept in these texts is that Brahman, the incomprehensible supreme source of all creation, is ultimately the same as the atman, the soul in each living being, which, thus, is also a universal soul. When this truth can be comprehended, there can be no division in society, no T or 'you', in fact, no 'other'. Over the centuries, these and other concepts in the texts have been interpreted in different ways, and The 108 Upanishads presents the key ideas in the Upanishads along with summaries of the texts. It is hoped that this book will provide a starting point for a deeper study and understanding of these texts.
This book is a sequel to my book on the Vedas, The Vedas: An Introduction to Hinduism's Sacred Texts, and should be read in conjunction with it, as the Upanishads form the last part of Vedic literature. The Vedas deals with all aspects of the four Vedic Samhitas, that is, the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. It also looks at related literature, including the Brahmanas and Aranyakas, along with later texts such as the Pratishakyas, which provide information on the Vedas. It examines the possible date of the Rig Veda and takes an in-depth look at theories of the origin of the Rig Vedic people. There arc detailed chapters on the Indo-Europeans, their languages and possible homeland, as well as an investigation of the Indo-Iranians, the Iranian and Avestan connection with the Rig Veda, and the relationship of Avestan and Vedic texts. Numerous texts are included in the Avesta, a term for the corpus of early Zoroastrian texts in the languages termed Old and Younger Avestan. Most scholars have still not looked at these texts in depth and continue to randomly use the texts without analysing their comparative dates. The Vedas, however, looks at these texts in detail. It then goes on to situate every place, river, mountain, tribe and clan mentioned in Vedic texts, along with an analysis and interpretation of every plant, herb and animal referred to, providing the socio-economic context for the Vedic texts. There is a separate chapter on the plants and mantras used to cure diseases, found mainly in the Atharva Veda. Other chapters deal with the deities and rishis of the Vedic Samhitas, and also with aspects of ritual. Conventional and spiritual interpretations are also described. Apart from this, the book provides an overview of the archaeological cultures across the entire subcontinent from pre-Harappan times up to around 1000 BCE. Some aspects of this book on the Vedas are summarized in The 108 Upanishads.
Part I of this hook contains a general introduction to the Upanishads. As noted above, more on Vedic texts and their background will be found in The Vedas. More details on philosophies described in the Upanishads, on the additional topics in the Upanishads, on the various deities and people mentioned and on the dating of various texts will be found in another book of mine, Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide, while for further information on Buddhism and Jainism, readers can check Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths.
Part II is an account of the 108 Upanishads mentioned in the Muktika Upanishad, which arc considered the main Upanishads. Among the thousands of works on the Upanishads, very few look at all 108 of the Muktika Upanishad, as in this book. For each Upanishad described here, the original Sanskrit text, along with translations and commentaries, have been consulted. There are numerous variations in translations, and the best are those done by Indian translators and particularly those well-versed in the spiritual traditions of the Upanishads. Without an understanding of these, the translations arc academic and often incorrect. At times, even Indian translators merely repeat parts of old translations; thus, in every case, reading the Sanskrit text is essential. Wherever a particular translator has been quoted, the name is mentioned; in other cases the summaries are created from the text and various translations and quotes are direct translations from the Sanskrit. After summaries of all 108 Upanishads, a detailed account of the Brahma Sutra is given. The Brahma Sutra is the earliest available text that systematizes the main themes of the Upanishads. Finally, a conclusions looks at the influence of the Upanishads across the world and their relevance today.
Academic works use diacritical marks which indicate the exact Sanskrit letters used, but as this book is for the general reader, phonetic spellings have been used. Standard phonetic spellings for the titles of the Upanishads have been used throughout the book, except where they form part of the title of 2 book or article.
**Contents and Sample Pages**