About the Book:
Worshipful H.H. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj could see through the publication of his translation and commentary on the eight Upanishads, --Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya,-- during his physical presence in this world. But as an ardent and devout follower of ancient tradition, he was also aware and was particular that the major Upanishads, which form the philosophical foundation of spiritual culture, ten in number, should all be presented and brought out for the benefit of seekers of Truth. For various reasons, it did not become possible to bring out the remaining two Upanishads, viz., the Brihadaranyaka and the Chhandogya, the largest ones among the whole group; and Sri Gurudev did, once or twice, hint at the Management of the divine Life Society about the necessity to bring out the Commentaries on the remaining two Upanishads also. The circumstances at that time were somehow such that this publication did not see the light of day during his lifetime. But his disciples and devotees were acutely conscious of the wish of the great Master, which they ere eager to fulfil at the earliest available opportunity.
Thus, we release this pleasant and stimulating surprise to the public, this large edition of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad; - may we call it a magnum opus - with the original Sanskrit text and an English translation of the same, together with an elaborate expository commentary. The first edition of this book was published in the year 1985. As there is consistent demand from the reading public, we are bringing out this edition
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is the most detailed and magnificent revelation of the ancient philosopher- seers, which, in its six chapters packed with thought and revelation, provides to the students a practically exhaustive and concentrated teaching on every aspect of life, making it an indispensable guidebook to the student of literature as well as the philosopher, the religious devotee, and the mystical and spiritual seeker engaged in meditation for divine realisation. -----THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
About the Author:
Born on the 8th September, 1887, in the illustrious family of Saga Appayya Diskhita 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, practiced 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 Reliogions'. He is the author of over 300 volumes and has disciples all over the world, belonging to all 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 holy corpus of the Veda, which is the repository of eternal knowledge and wisdom, is divided into four Books, known as Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. In each of the four Vedas a distinction has been made according to content and form: (1) Samhita; (2) Brahmana; (3) Aranyaka; (4) Upanishad.
The Samhita is a collection of hymns or prayers to God in various Manifestations, containing also formulae necessary in the sacrificial use of these hymns, known as Mantras. On a practical basis, the Samhita is to be considered as the chief Veda, and it is the Samhita that people have in their minds mostly when they refer to the Vedas, the study of the Vedas, the greatness of the Vedas, or holding the Vedas as the foundation of India's spiritual and religious outlook of life. The Mantras are addressed to divinities, Devas, as the infinite forms of the Supreme Being, these forms of divinities being regarded as the gradational accessible approaches to the Creator by the corresponding levels of evolution and comprehension of the worshipper, the devotee, or the seeker.
The word 'Samhita' means a collection of the Mantras belonging to a particular section of the Veda, which are either in metrical verses (Rik) or sentences in prose (Yajus) or chants (Sama). The Rigveda Samhita Samhita consists of 10580 Mantras or metrical verses; the Samaveda Samhita contains 1549 verses (with certain repetitions the number is 1810) many of which are culled from the Rigveda Samhita. The Sama hymns are modulated in numerous ways for the purpose of singing during either prayer or sacrifice. The Yajurveda Samhita consists of two recensions known as the Krishna (black) and the Shukla (white), and consists of prose sentences and long verses, The Atharvaveda Samhita, while it is included among the four sections of the Veda, is generally not studied as a prayer book and is used only during certain specific forms of sacrifice and also for incantations of different kinds to receive benefits to the reciter, both material and spiritual.
The Brahmanas teach the practical use of the verses and the chants presented in the Samhitas. However, the Brahmanas, though they are supposed to be only sacrificial injunctions for purpose of ritualistic utilization of the Mantras of the Samhita, go beyond this restricted definition and contain much more material, such as Vidhi (a directive precept), Arthavada (laudatory or eulogising explanation), and Upanishad (the philosophical or mystical import of the chant or the performance).
The Aranyakas are esoteric considerations of the practical ritual, which is otherwise the main subject of the Brahmana. The opening passage of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, in which the horse-sacrifice is treated as a symbol, would serve as an example of how a ritualistic symbol and material is used as a cosmological concept for purpose of religious contemplation and philosophic meditation. The Panchagni-Vidya of the Chhandogya Upanishad may also be cited as an illustration of a cosmological or astronomical and physical event being taken as a spiritualised symbol for mystical contemplation.
The Upanishads, except the Isavasya, which occurs in the Samhita portion of the Yajurveda, occur as the concluding mystical import and philosophical suggestiveness of some Brahmana or the other. The philosophical sections of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas are usually detached, for the purpose of study, and go by the name of Upanishads, brought together from the different Vedas to form a single whole, though it appears that originally each school of the Veda had its own specialized ritual textbook with an exegesis or practical manual. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad belongs to the Shukla-Yajurveda group and is the most elaborate of them all, touching on almost every issue relevant to human life, and rising to such heights of philosophic genius as may rightly be considered as the greatest achievement of the human mind in history.
There is also a tradition that the Brahmacharin, or the celibate student (which is the first part of t