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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Opened to us through the Upanishads


style="text-align: justify;">writes in the preface to his _Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_ [Footnote ref 1], "And if, indeed, in addition to this he is a partaker of the benefit conferred by the Vedas, the access to which, opened to us through the Upanishads, is in my eyes the greatest advantage which this still young century enjoys over previous ones, because I believe that the influence of the Sanskrit literature will penetrate not less deeply than did the revival of Greek literature in the fifteenth century: if, I say, the reader has also already received and assimilated the sacred, primitive Indian wisdom, then is he best of all prepared to hear what I have to say to him....I might express the opinion that each one of the individual and disconnected aphorisms which make up the Upanishads may be deduced as a consequence from the thought I am going to impart, though the converse, that my thought is to be found in the Upanishads is by no means the case." Again, "How does every line display its firm, definite, and throughout harmonious meaning! From every sentence deep, original, and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit....In the whole world there is no study, except that of the originals, so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Oupanikhat. It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death! [Footnote ref 2]" Through Schopenhauer the study of the Upani@sads attracted much attention in Germany and with the
growth of a general interest in the study of Sanskrit, they found their way into other parts of Europe as well.

The study of the Upani@sads has however gained a great impetus by the earnest attempts of our Ram Mohan Roy who not only translated them into Bengali, Hindi and English and published them at his own expense, but founded the Brahma Samaj in Bengal, the main religious doctrines of which were derived directly from the Upani@sads.


[Footnote 1: Translation by Haldane and Kemp, vol. I. pp. xii and xiii.]

[Footnote 2: Max Muller says in his introduction to the Upanishada (-_S.B.E._ I p. lxii; see also pp. lx, lxi) "that Schopenhauer should have spoken of the Upanishads as 'products of the highest wisdom'...that he should have placed the pantheism there taught high above the pantheism of Bruno, Malebranche, Spinoza and Scotus Erigena, as brought to light again at Oxford in 1681, may perhaps secure a more considerate reception for those relics of ancient wisdom than anything that I could say in their favour."]


The Upani@sads and their interpretations.

Before entering into the philosophy of the Upani@sads it may be worth while to say a few words as to the reason why diverse and even contradictory explanations as to the real import of the Upani@sads had been offered by the great Indian scholars of past times. The Upani@sads, as we have seen, formed the concluding portion of the revealed Vedic literature, and were thus called the Vedanta. It was almost universally believed by the Hindus that the highest truths could only be found in the revelation of the Vedas. Reason

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