Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1/Introduction to the Upanishads

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First Translation of the Upanishads.

Dârâ Shukoh, Anquetil Duperron, Schopenhauer.

The ancient Vedic literature, the foundation of the whole literature of India, which has been handed down in that country in an unbroken succession from the earliest times within the recollection of man to the present day, became known for the first time beyond the frontiers of India through the Upanishads. The Upanishads were translated from Sanskrit into Persian by, or, it may be, for Dârâ Shukoh, the eldest son of Shâh Jehân, an enlightened prince, who openly professed the liberal religious tenets of the great Emperor Akbar, and even wrote a book intended to reconcile the religious doctrines of Hindus and Mohammedans. He seems first to have heard of the Upanishads during his stay in Kashmir in 1640. He afterwards in- vited several Pandits from Benares to Delhi, who were to assist him in the work of translation. The translation was finished in 1657. Three years after the accomplishment of this work, in 1659, the prince was put to death by his brother Aurangzib[1], in reality, no doubt, because he was the eldest son and legitimate successor of Shâh Jehân, but under the pretext that he was an infidel, and dangerous to the established religion of the empire.

When the Upanishads had once been translated from Sanskrit into Persian, at that time the most widely read language of the East and understood likewise by many European scholars, they became generally accessible to all who took an interest in the religious literature of India. It is true that under Akbar's reign (1556–1586) similar translations had been prepared[2], but neither those nor the translations of Dârâ Shukoh attracted the attention of European scholars till the year 1775. In that year Anquetil Duperron, the famous traveller and discoverer of the Zend-avesta, received one MS. of the Persian translation of the Upanishads, sent to him by M. Gentil, the French resident at the court of Shuja ud daula, and brought to France by M. Bernier. After receiving another MS., Anquetil Duperron collated the two, and translated the Persian translation[3] into French (not published), and into Latin. That Latin translation was published in 1801 and 1802, under the title of 'Oupnek'hat, id est, Secretum tegendum: opus ipsa in India rarissimum, continens antiquam et arcanam, seu theologicam et philosophicam doctrinam, e quatuor sacris Indorum libris Rak baid, Djedjer baid, Sam baid, Athrban baid excerptam; ad verbum, e Persico idiomate, Samkreticis vocabulis intermixto, in Latinum conversum: Dissertationibus et Annotationibus difficiliora explanantibus, illustratum: studio et opera Anquetil Duperron, Indicopleustæ. Argentorati, typis et impensis fratrum Levrault, vol. i, 1801; vol. ii, 1802[4].'

This translation, though it attracted considerable interest among scholars, was written in so utterly unintelligible a style, that it required the lynxlike perspicacity of an intrepid philosopher, such as Schopenhauer, to discover a thread through such a labyrinth. Schopenhauer, however, not only found and followed such a thread, but he had the courage to proclaim to an incredulous age the vast treasures of thought which were lying buried beneath that fearful jargon.

As Anquetil Duperron's volumes have become scarce, I shall here give a short specimen of his translation, which corresponds to the first sentences of my translation of the Khândogya-upanishad (p. 1):— 'Oum hoc verbum (esse) adkit ut sciveris, sic τὸ maschghouli fac (de eo meditare), quod ipsum hoc verbum aodkit est; propter illud quod hoc (verbum) oum, in Sam Beid, cum voce altâ, cum harmoniâ pronunciatum fiat.

'Adkiteh porro cremor (optimum, selectissimum) est: quemadmodum ex (præ) omni quieto (non moto), et moto, pulvis (terra) cremor (optimum) est; et e (prae) terra aqua cremor est; et ex aqua, comedendum (victus) cremor est; (et) e comedendo, comedens cremor est; et e comedente, loquela (id quod dicitur) cremor est; et e loquela, aĭet τον Beid, et ex aĭet, τὸ siam, id est, cum harmonia (pronunciatum); et e Sam, τὸ adkit, cremor est; id est, oum, voce alta, cum harmonia pronunciare, aokit, cremor cremorum (optimum optimorum) est. Major, ex (præ) adkit, cremor alter non est.'

Schopenhauer not only read this translation carefully, but he makes no secret of it, that his own philosophy is powerfully impregnated by the fundamental doctrines of the Upanishads. He dwells on it again and again, and it seems both fair to Schopenhauer's memory and highly important for a true appreciation of the philosophical value of the Upanishads, to put together what that vigorous thinker has written on those ancient rhapsodies of truth.

In his 'Welt als Wille und Vorstellung' he writes, in the preface to the first edition, p. xiii:

"If the reader has also received the benefit of the Vedas, the access to which by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest privilege which this still young century (1818) may claim before all previous centuries, (for I anticipate that the influence of Sanskrit literature will not be less profound than the revival of Greek in the fourteenth century,)—if then the reader, I say, has received his initiation in primeval Indian wisdom, and received it with an open heart, he will be prepared in the very best way for hearing what I have to tell him. It will not sound to him strange, as to many others, much less disagreeable; for I might, if it did not sound conceited, contend that every one of the detached statements which constitute the Upanishads, may be deduced as a necessary result from the fundamental thoughts which I have to enunciate, though those deductions themselves are by no means to be found there.'

And again[5]:

'If I consider how difficult it is, even with the assistance of the best and carefully educated teachers, and with all the excellent philological appliances collected in the course of this century, to arrive at a really correct, accurate, and living understanding of Greek and Roman authors, whose language was after all the language of our own predecessors in Europe, and the mother of our own, while Sanskrit, on the contrary, was spoken thousands of years ago in distant India, and can be learnt only with appliances which are as yet very imperfect;— if I add to this the impression which the translations of Sanskrit works by European scholars, with very few exceptions, produce on my mind, I cannot resist a certain suspicion that our Sanskrit scholars do not understand their texts much better than the higher class of schoolboys their Greek. Of course, as they are not boys, but men of knowledge and understanding, they put together, out of what they do understand, something like what the general meaning may have been, but much probably creeps in ex ingenio. It is still worse with the Chinese of our European Sinologues.

'If then I consider, on the other hand, that Sultan Mohammed Dârâ Shukoh, the brother of Aurangzib, was born and bred in India, was a learned, thoughtful, and enquiring man, and therefore probably understood his Sanskrit about as well as we our Latin, that moreover he was assisted by a number, of the most learned Pandits, all this together gives me at once a very high opinion of his translation of the Vedic Upanishads into Persian. If, besides this, I see with what profound and quite appropriate reverence Anquetil Duperron has treated that Persian translation, rendering it in Latin word by word, retaining, in spite of Latin grammar, the Persian syntax, and all the Sanskrit words which the Sultan himself had left untranslated, though explaining them in a glossary, I feel the most perfect confidence in reading that translation, and that confidence soon receives its most perfect justification. For how entirely does the Oupnekhat breathe throughout the holy spirit of the Vedas! How is every one who by a diligent study of its Persian Latin has become familiar with that incomparable book, stirred by that spirit to the very depth of his soul! 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. Indian air surrounds us, and original thoughts of kindred spirits. And oh, how thoroughly is the mind here washed clean of all early engrafted Jewish superstitions, and of all philosophy that cringes before those superstitions! In the whole world there is no study, except that of the originals, so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Oupnekhat. It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death!

'Though[6] I feel the highest regard for the religious and philosophical works of Sanskrit literature, I have not been able to derive much pleasure from their poetical compositions. Nay, they seem to me sometimes as tasteless and monstrous as the sculpture of India.

'In[7] most of the pagan philosophical writers of the first Christian centuries we see the Jewish theism, which, as Christianity, was soon to become the faith of the people, shining through, much as at present we may perceive shining through in the writings of the learned, the native pantheism of India, which is destined sooner or later to become the faith of the people. Ex oriente lux.'

This may seem strong language, and, in some respects, too strong. But I thought it right to quote it here, because, whatever may be urged against Schopenhauer, he was a thoroughly honest thinker and honest speaker, and no one would suspect him of any predilection for what has been so readily called Indian mysticism. That Schelling and his school should use rapturous language about the Upanishads, might carry little weight with that large class of philosophers by whom everything beyond the clouds of their own horizon is labelled mysticism. But that Schopenhauer should have spoken of the Upanishads as 'products of the highest wisdom' (Ausgeburt der höchsten Weisheit)[8], 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[9], may perhaps secure a more considerate reception for these relics of ancient wisdom than anything that I could say in their favour.

Rammohun Roy.

Greater, however, than the influence exercised on the philosophical thought of modern Europe, has been the impulse which these same Upanishads have imparted to the religious life of modern India. In about the same year (1774 or 1775) when the first MS. of the Persian translation of the Upanishads was received by Anquetil Duperron, Rammohun Roy[10] was born in India, the reformer and reviver of the ancient religion of the Brahmans. A man who in his youth could write a book 'Against the Idolatry of all Religions' and who afterwards expressed in so many exact words his 'belief in the divine authority of Christ[11],' was not likely to retain anything of the sacred literature of his own religion, unless he had perceived in it the same divine authority which he recognised in the teaching of Christ. He rejected the Purânas, he would not have been swayed in his convictions by the Authority of the Laws of Manu, or even by the sacredness of the Vedas. He was above all that. But he discovered in the Upanishads and in the so-called Vedânta something different from all the rest, something that ought not to be thrown away, something that, if rightly understood, might supply the right native soil in which alone the seeds of true religion, aye, of true Christianity, might spring up again and prosper in India, as they had once sprung up and prospered from out the philosophies of Origen or Synesius. European scholars have often wondered that Rammohun Roy, in his defence of the Veda, should have put aside the Samhitâs and the Brâhmanas, and laid his finger on the Upanishads only, as the true kernel of the whole Veda. Historically, no doubt, he was wrong, for the Upanishads presuppose both the hymns and the liturgical books of the Veda. But as the ancient philosophers distinguished in the Veda between the Karma-kânda and the Gñâna-kânda, between works and knowledge; as they themselves pointed to the learning of the sacred hymns and the performance of sacrifices as a preparation only for that enlightenment which was reserved as the highest reward for the faithful performance of all previous duties[12], Rammohun Roy, like Buddha and other enlightened men before him, perceived that the time for insisting on all that previous discipline with its minute prescriptions and superstitious observances was gone, while the knowledge conveyed in the Upanishads or the Vedânta, enveloped though it may be in strange coverings, should henceforth form the foundation of a new religious life[13]. He would tolerate nothing idolatrous, not even in his mother, poor woman, who after joining his most bitter opponents, confessed to her son, before she set out on her last pilgrimage to Juggernaut, where she died, that 'he was right, but that she was a weak woman, and grown too old to give up the observances which were a comfort to her.' It was not therefore from any regard of their antiquity or their sacred character that Rammohun Roy clung to the Upanishads, that he translated them into Bengali, Hindi, and English, and published them at his own expense. It was because he recognised in them seeds of eternal truth, and was bold enough to distinguish between what was essential in them and what was not,—a distinction, as he often remarked with great perplexity, which Christian teachers seemed either unable or unwilling to make[14].

The death of that really great and good man during his stay in England in 1833, was one of the severest blows that have fallen on the prospects of India. But his work has not been in vain. Like a tree whose first shoot has been killed by one winter frost, it has broken out again in a number of new and more vigorous shoots, for whatever the outward differences may be between the Âdi Brahmo Samâj of Debendranath Tagore, or the Brahmo Samâj of India of Keshub Chunder Sen, or the Sadharan Brahmo Samâj, the common root of them all is the work done, once for all, by Rammohun Roy. That work may have disappeared from sight for a time, and its present manifestations may seem to many observers who are too near, not very promising. But in one form or another, under one name or another, I feel convinced that work will live. 'In India,' Schopenhauer writes, 'our religion will now and never strike root: the primitive wisdom of the human race will never be pushed aside there by the events of Galilee. On the contrary, Indian wisdom will flow back upon Europe, and produce a thorough change in our knowing and thinking.' Here, again, the great philosopher seems to me to have allowed himself to be carried away too far by his enthusiasm for the less known. He is blind for the dark sides of the Upanishads, and he wilfully shuts his eyes against the bright rays of eternal truth in the Gospels, which even Rammohun Roy was quick enough to perceive behind the mists and clouds of tradition that gather so quickly round the sunrise of every religion.

Position of the Upanishads in Vedic Literature.

If now we ask what has been thought of the Upanishads by Sanskrit scholars or by Oriental scholars in general, it must be confessed that hitherto they have not received at their hands that treatment which in the eyes of philosophers and theologians they seem so fully to deserve. When the first enthusiasm for such works as Sakuntalâ and Gîta-Govinda had somewhat subsided, and Sanskrit scholars had recognised that a truly scholarlike study of Indian literature must begin with the beginning, the exclusively historical interest prevailed to so large an extent that the hymns of the Veda, the Brâhmanas, and the Sûtras absorbed all interest, while the Upanishads were put aside for a time as of doubtful antiquity, and therefore of minor importance.

My real love for Sanskrit literature was first kindled by the Upanishads. It was in the year 1844, when attending Schelling's lectures at Berlin, that my attention was drawn to those ancient theosophic treatises, and I still possess my collations of the Sanskrit MSS. which had then just arrived at Berlin, the Chambers collection, and my copies of commentaries, and commentaries on commentaries, which I made at that time. Some of my translations which I left with Schelling, I have never been able to recover, though to judge from others which I still possess, the loss of them is of small consequence. Soon after leaving Berlin, when continuing my Sanskrit studies at Paris under Burnouf, I put aside the Upanishads, convinced that for a true appreciation of them it was necessary to study, first of all, the earlier periods of Vedic literature, as represented by the hymns and the Brâhmanas of the Vedas.

In returning, after more than thirty years, to these favourite studies, I find that my interest in them, though it has changed in character, has by no means diminished.

It is true, no doubt, that the stratum of literature which contains the Upanishads is later than the Samhitâs, and later than the Brâhmanas, but the first germs of Upanishad doctrines go back at least as far as the Mantra period, which provisionally has been fixed between 1000 and 800 B.C. Conceptions corresponding to the general teaching of the Upanishads occur in certain hymns of the Rig-veda-samhitâ, they must have existed therefore before that collection was finally closed. One hymn in the Samhitâ of the Rig-veda (I, 191) was designated by Kâtyâyana, the author of the Sarvânukramanikâ, as an Upanishad. Here, however, upanishad means rather a secret charm than a philosophical doctrine. Verses of the hymns have often been incorporated in the Upanishads, and among the Oupnekhats translated into Persian by Dârâ Shukoh we actually find the Purusha-sûkta, the 90th hymn of the tenth book of the Rig-veda[15], forming the greater portion of the Bark'heh Soukt. In the Samhitâ of the Yagur-veda, however, in the Vâgasaneyisâkhâ, we meet with a real Upanishad, the famous Îsâ or Îsâvâsya-upanishad, while the Sivasamkalpa, too, forms part of its thirty-fourth book[16]. In the Brâhmanas several Upanishads occur, even in portions which are not classed as Âranyakas, as, for instance, the well-known Kena or Talavakâra-upanishad. The recognised place, however, for the ancient Upanishads is in the Âranyakas, or forest-books, which, as a rule, form an appendix to the Brâhmanas, but are sometimes included also under the general name of Brâhmana. Brâhmana, in fact, meaning originally the sayings of Brahmans, whether in the general sense of priests, or in the more special of Brahman-priest, is a name applicable not only to the books, properly so called, but to all old prose traditions, whether contained in the Samhitâs, such as the Taittirîya-samhitâ, the Brâhmanas, the Âranyakas, the Upanishads, and even, in certain cases, in the Sûtras. We shall see in the introduction to the Aitareya-âranyaka, that that Âranyaka is in the beginning a Brâhmana, a mere continuation of the Aitareya-brâhmana, explaining the Mahâvrata ceremony, while its last book contains the Sûtras or short technical rules explaining the same ceremony which in the first book had been treated in the style peculiar to the Brâhmanas. In the same Aitareya-âranyaka, III, 2, 6, 6, a passage of the Upanishad is spoken of as a Brâhmana, possibly as something like a Brâhmana, while something very like an Upanishad occurs in the Âpastamba-sûtras, and might be quoted therefore as a Sûtra[17]. At all events the Upanishads, like the Âranyakas, belong to what Hindu theologians call Sruti, or revealed literature, in opposition to Smrriti, or traditional literature, which is supposed to be founded on the former, and allowed to claim a secondary authority only; and the earliest of these philosophical treatises will always, I believe, maintain a place in the literature of the world, among the most astounding productions of the human mind in any age and in any country.

Different Classes of Upanishads.

The ancient Upanishads, i. e. those which occupy a place in the Samhitâs, Brâhmanas, and Âranyakas, must be, if we follow the chronology which at present is commonly, though, it may be, provisionally only, received by Sanskrit scholars, older than 600 B.C., i.e. anterior to the rise of Buddhism. As to other Upanishads, and their number is very large, which either stand by themselves, or which are ascribed to the Atharva-veda, it is extremely difficult to fix. their age. Some of them are, no doubt, quite modern, for mention is made even of an Allah-upanishad; but others may claim a far higher antiquity than is generally assigned to them on internal evidence. I shall only mention that the name of Atharvasiras, an Upanishad generally assigned to a very modern date, is quoted in the Sûtras of Gautama and Baudhâyana[18]; that the Svesvatara-upanishad, or the Svetâsvatarânâm Mantropanishad, though bearing many notes of later periods of thought, is quoted by Saṅkara in his commentary on the Vedânta-sûtras[19]; while the Nrisimhottaratâpanîya-upanishad forms part of the twelve Upanishads explained by Vidyâranya in his Sarvopanishad-arthânubhûti-prakâsa. The Upanishads comprehended in that work are:

1. Aitareya-upanishad.

2. Taittîrya-upanishad.

3. Khândogya-upanishad.

4. Mundaka-upanishad.

5. Prasna-upanishad.

6. Kaushîtaki-upanishad.

7. Maitrâyanîya-upanishad.

8. Kathavallî-upanishad.

9. Svetâsvatara-upanishad.

10. Brihad-âranyaka-upanishad.

11. Talavakâra (Kena)-upanishad.

12. Nrisimhottaratâpanîya-upanishad[20].

The number of Upanishads translated by Dârâ Shukoh amounts to 50; their number, as given in the Mahâvâkyamuktâvalî and in the Muktikâ-upanishad, is 108[21]. Professor Weber thinks that their number, so far as we know at present, may be reckoned at 235[22]. In order, however, to arrive at so high a number, every title of an Upanishad would have to be counted separately, while in several cases it is clearly the same Upanishad which is quoted under different names. In an alphabetical list which I published in 1865 (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft XIX, 137-158), the number of real Upanishads reached 149. To that number Dr. Burnell [23] in his Catalogue (p. 59) added 5, Professor Haug (Brahma und die Brahmanen) 1 6, making a sum total of 170. New names, however, are constantly being added in the catalogues of MSS. published by Bühler, Kielhorn, Burnell, Rajendralal Mitra, and others, and I shall reserve therefore a more complete list of Upanishads for a later volume.

Though it is easy to see that these Upanishads belong to very different periods of Indian thought, any attempt to fix their relative age seems to me for the present almost hopeless. No one can doubt that the Upanishads which have had a place assigned to them in the Samhitâs, Brâhmanas, and Âranyakas are the oldest. Next to these we can draw a line to include the Upanishads clearly referred to in the Vedânta-sûtras, or explained and quoted by Saṅkara, by Sâyana, and other more modern commentators. We can distinguish Upanishads in prose from Upanishads in mixed prose and verse, and again Upanishads in archaic verse from Upanishads in regular and continuous Anushtubh Slokas. We can also class them according to their subjects, and, at last, according to the sects to which they belong. But beyond this it is hardly safe to venture at present. Attempts have been made by Professor Weber and M. Regnaud to fix in each class the relative age of certain Upanishads, and I do not deny to their arguments, even where they conflict with each other, considerable weight in forming a preliminary judgment. But I know of hardly any argument which is really convincing, or which could not be met by counter arguments equally strong. Simplicity may be a sign of antiquity, but it is not so always, for what seems simple, may be the result of abbreviation. One Upanishad may give the correct, another an evidently corrupt reading, yet it does not follow that the correct reading may not be the result of an emendation. It is quite clear that a large mass of traditional Upanishads must have existed before they assumed their present form. Where two or three or four Upanishads contain the same story, told almost in the same words, they are not always copied from one another, but they have been settled independently, in different localities, by different teachers, it may be, for different purposes. Lastly, the influence of Sâkhâs or schools may have told more or less on certain Upanishads. Thus the Maitrâyanîya-upanishad, as we now possess it, shows a number of irregular forms which even the commentator can account for only as peculiarities of the Maitrâyanîa-sâkhâ[24] . That Upanishad, as it has come down to us, is full of what we should call clear indications of a modern and corrupt age. It contains in VI, 37, a sloka from the Mânava-dharma-sâstra, which startled even the commentator, but is explained away by him as possibly found in another Sâkhâ, and borrowed from there by Manu. It contains corruptions of easy words which one would have thought must have been familiar to every student. Thus instead of the passage as found in the Khândogya-upanishad VIII, 7, i, ya âtmâpahatapâpmâ vigaro vimrityur visoko 'vigighatso 'pipâsah, &c, the text of the Maitrâyanîya-upanishad (VII, 7) reads, âtmâpahatapâpmâ vigaro vimrityur visoko 'vikikitso 'vipâsah. But here again the commentator explains that another Sâkhâ reads 'vigighatsa, and that avipâsa is to be explained by means of a change of letters as apipâsa. Corruptions, therefore, of modern elements which are found in one Upanishad, as handed down in one Sâkhâ, do not prove that the same existed in other ´Sâkhâs, or that they were found in the original text.

All these questions have to be taken into account before we can venture to give a final judgment on the relative age of Upanishads which belong to one and the same class. I know of no problem which offers so many similarities with the one before us as that of the relative age of the four Gospels. All the difficulties which occur in the Upanishads occur here, and no critical student who knows the difficulties that have to be encountered in determining the relative age of the four Gospels, will feel inclined, in the present state of Vedic scholarship, to speak with confidence on the relative age of the ancient Upanishads.

Critical Treatment of the Text of the Upanishads.

With regard to a critical restoration of the text of the Upa-nishads, I have but seldom relied on the authority of new MSS., but have endeavoured throughout to follow that text which is presupposed by the commentaries, whether they are the work of the old Saṅkarâkârya, or of the more modern Saṅkarânanda, or Sâyana, or others. Though there still prevails some uncertainty as to the date of Saṅkarâkârya, commonly assigned to the eighth century A.D., yet I doubt whether any MSS. of the Upanishads could now be found prior to 1000 a. d. The text, therefore, which Saṅkara had before his eyes, or, it may be, his ears, commands, I think, a higher authority than that of any MSS. likely to be recovered at present.

It may be objected that Saṅkara's text belonged to one locality only, and that different readings and different recensions may have existed in other parts of India. That is perfectly true. We possess various recensions of several Upanishads, as handed down in different Sâkhâs of different Vedas, and we know of various readings recorded by the commentators. These, where they are of importance for our purposes, have been carefully taken into account.

It has also been supposed that Saṅkara, who, in writing his commentaries on the Upanishad, was chiefly guided by philosophical considerations, his chief object being to use the Upanishads as a sacred foundation for the Vedânta philosophy, may now and then have taken liberties with the text. That may be so, but no stringent proof of it has as yet been brought forward, and I therefore hold that when we succeed in establishing throughout that text which served as the basis of Saṅkara's commentaries, we have done enough for the present, and have fulfilled at all events the first and indispensable task in a critical treatment of the text of the Upanishads.

But in the same manner as it is easy to see that the text of the Rig-veda, which is presupposed by Sâyana's commentary and even by earlier works, is in many places palpably corrupt, we cannot resist the same conviction with regard to the text of the Upanishads. In some cases the metre, in others grammar, in others again the collation of analogous passages enable us to detect errors, and probably very ancient errors, that had crept into the text long before Saṅkara composed his commentaries.

Some questions connected with the metres of the Upanishads have been very learnedly treated by Professor Gildemeister in his essay, 'Zur Theorie des Sloka.' The lesson to be derived from that essay, and from a study of the Upanishads, is certainly to abstain for the present from conjectural emendations. In the old Upanishads the same metrical freedom prevails as in the hymns; in the later Upanishads, much may be tolerated as the result of conscious or unconscious imitation. The metrical emendations that suggest themselves are generally so easy and so obvious that, for that very reason, we should hesitate before correcting what native scholars would have corrected long ago, if they had thought that there was any real necessity for correction.

It is easy to suggest, for instance, that in the Vâgasaneyi-samhitâ-upanishad, verse 5, instead of tad antar asya sarvasya tadu sarvasyâsya bâhyatah, the original text may have been tad antar asya sarvasya tadu sarvasya bâhyatah; yet Saṅkara evidently read sarvasyâsya, and as the same reading is found in the text of the Vâgasaneyi-samhitâ, who would venture to correct so old a mistake?

Again, if in verse 8, we left out yâthâtathyatah, we should get a much more regular metre,

Kavir manîshî paribhûh svyambhûh arthân vyadadhâk khâvatîbhyah samâbhyah.

Here vyada forms one syllable by what I have proposed to call synizesis[25], which is allowed in the Upanishads as well as in the hymns. All would then seem right, except that it is difficult to explain how so rare a word as yâthâtathyatah could have been introduced into the text.

In verse 10 one feels tempted to propose the omission of eva in anyad âhur avidyayâ, while in verse 11, an eva inserted after vidyâm ka. would certainly improve the metre.

In verse 15 the expression satyadharmâya drishtaye is archaic, but perfectly legitimate in the sense of 'that we may see the nature of the True,' or 'that we see him whose nature is true.' When this verse is repeated in the Maitr. Up. VI, 35, we find instead, satyadharmâya vishnave, 'for the true Vishnu.' But here, again, no sound critic would venture to correct a mistake, intentional or unintentional, which is sanctioned both by the MSS. of the text and by the commentary.

Such instances, where every reader feels tempted at once to correct the textus receptus, occur again and again, and when they seem of any interest they have been mentioned in the notes. It may happen, however, that the correction, though at first sight plausible, has to be surrendered on more mature consideration. Thus in the Vâgasaneyi-samhitâ-upanishad, verse 2, one feels certainly inclined to write evam tve nânyatheto 'sti, instead of evam tvayi nânyatheto 'sti. But tve, if it were used here, would probably itself have to be pronounced dissyllabically, while tvayi, though it never occurs in the Rig-veda, may well keep its place here, in the last book of the Vâgasaneyi-samhitâ, provided we pronounce it by synizesis, i. e. as one syllable.

Attempts have been made sometimes to go beyond Saṅkara, and to restore the text, as it ought to have been originally, but as it was no longer in Saṅkara's time. It is one thing to decline to follow Saṅkara in every one of his interpretations, it is quite another to decline to accept the text which he interprets. The former is inevitable, the latter is always very precarious.

Thus I see, for instance, that M. Regnaud, in the Errata to the second volume of his excellent work on the Upanishads (Matériaux pour servir à l'histoire de la philosophie de l'Inde, 1878) proposes to read in the Brihad-âranyaka- upanishad IV, 3, 1–8, sam anena vadishya iti, instead of sa mene na vadishya iti. Saṅkara adopted the latter reading, and explained accordingly, that Yâgñavalkya went to king Ganaka, but made up his mind not to speak. M. Regnaud, reading sam anena vadishya iti, takes the very opposite view, namely, that Yâgñavalkya went to king Ganaka, having made up his mind to have a conversation with him. As M. Regnaud does not rest this emendation on the authority of any new MSS., we may examine it as an ingenious conjecture; but in that case it seems to me clear that, if we adopted it, we should have at the same time to omit the whole sentence which follows. Saṅkara saw clearly that what had to be accounted or explained was why the king should address the Brahman first, samrâd eva pûrvam paprakkha; whereas if Yâgñavalkya had come with the intention of having a conversation with the king, he, the Brahman, should have spoken first. This irregularity is explained by the intervening sentence, in which we are reminded that on a former occasion, when Ganaka and Yâgñavalkya had a disputation on the Agnihotra, Yâgñavalkya granted Ganaka a boon to choose, and he chose as his boon the right of asking questions according to his pleasure. Having received that boon, Ganaka was at liberty to question Yâgñavalkya, even though he did not like it, and hence Ganaka is introduced here as the first to ask a question.

All this hangs well together, while if we assume that Yâgñavalkya came for the purpose of having a conversation with Ganaka, the whole sentence from 'atha ha yag ganakas ka' to 'pûrvam paprakkha' would be useless, nor would there be any excuse for Ganaka beginning the conversation, when Yâgñavalkya came himself on purpose to question him.

It is necessary, even when we feel obliged to reject art interpretation of Saṅkara's, without at the same time altering the text, to remember that Saṅkara, where he is not blinded by philosophical predilections, commands the highest respect as an interpreter. I cannot help thinking therefore that M. Regnaud (vol. i, p. 59) was right in translating the passage in the Khând. Up. V, 3, 7, tasmâd u sarveshu lokeshu kshattrasyaiva prasâsanam abhût, by 'que le kshatriya seul l'a enseignée dans tous les mondes.' For when he proposes in the 'Errata' to translate instead, 'c'est pourquoi l'empire dans tous les mondes fut attribué au kshatriya seulement,' he forgets that such an idea is foreign to the ordinary atmosphere in which the Upanishads move. It is not on account of the philosophical knowledge possessed by a few Kshatriyas, such as Ganaka or Pravâhana, that the privilege of government belongs everywhere to the second class. That rests on a totally different basis. Such exceptional knowledge, as is displayed by a few kings, might be an excuse for their claiming the privileges belonging to the Brahmans, but it would never, in the eyes of the ancient Indian Âryas, be considered as an argument for their claiming kingly power. Therefore, although I am well aware that prasâs is most frequently used in the sense of ruling, I have no doubt that Saṅkara likewise was fully aware of that, and that if he nevertheless explained praj&sana here in the sense of prasâstritvam sishyânâm, he did so because this meaning too was admissible, particularly here, where we may actually translate it by proclaiming, while the other meaning, that of ruling, would simply be impossible in the concatenation of ideas, which is placed before us in the Upanishad.

It seems, no doubt, extremely strange that neither the last redactors of the text of the Upanishads, nor the commentators, who probably knew the principal Upanishads by heart, should have perceived how certain passages in one Upanishad represented the same or nearly the same text which is found in another Upanishad, only occasionally with the most palpable corruptions.

Thus when the ceremony of offering a mantha or mash is described, we read in the Khândogya-upanishad V, 2, 6, that it is to be accompanied by certain words which on the whole are intelligible. But when the same passage occurs again in the Brihad-âranyaka, those words have been changed to such a degree, and in two different ways in the two Sâkhâs of the Mâdhyandinas and Kânvas, that, though the commentator explains them, they are almost unintelligble. I shall place the three passages together in three parallel lines:

I. Khândogya-upanishad V, 2, 6 :
II. Brihad-âranyaka, Mâdhyandina-sâkhâ, XIV, 9, 3, 10 :
III. Brihad-âranyaka-upanishad, Kânva-sâkhâ, VI, 3, 5 :
I. Amo nâmâsy amâ hi te sarvam idam sa hi gyeshthah
II. âmo 'sy âmam hi te mayi sa hi
III. âmamsy âmamhi te mahi sa hi
I. sreshtho gâdhipatih sa mâ gyaishthyam srai-
II. gesâno 'dhipatih sa mâ râgesâno
III. gesâno
I. shthyamgyam âdhipatyam gamayatv aham evedam
II. 'dhipatim karotv iti.
III. 'dhipatim karotv iti.
I. sarvam asânîti.

The text in the Khândogya-upanishad yields a certain sense, viz. 'Thou art Ama by name, for all this together exists in thee. He is the oldest and best, the king, the sovereign. May he make me the oldest, the best, the king, the sovereign. May I be all this.' This, according to the commentator, is addressed to Prâna, and Ama, though a purely artificial word, is used in the sense of Prâna, or breath, in another passage also, viz. Brihad-âranyaka-up. I, 3, 22. If therefore we accept this meaning of Ama, the rest is easy and intelligible.

But if we proceed to the Brihad-âranyaka,in the Mâdhyandina-sâkhâ, we find the commentator proposing the following interpretation: 'O Mantha, thou art a full knower, complete knowledge of me belongs to thee.' This meaning is obtained by deriving âmah from â + man, in the sense of knower, and then taking âmam, as a neuter, in the sense of knowledge, derivations which are simply impossible.

Lastly, if we come to the text of the Kânva-sâkhâ, the grammatical interpretation becomes bolder still. Saṅkara does not explain the passage at all, which is strange, but Ânandagiri interprets âmamsi tvam by 'Thou knowest (all),' and âmamhi te mahi, by 'we know thy great (shape),' which are again impossible forms.

But although there can be little doubt here that the reading of the Khândogya-upanishad gives us the original text, or a text nearest to the original, no sound critic would venture to correct the readings of the Brihad-âranyaka. They are corruptions, but even as corruptions they possess authority, at all events up to a certain point, and it is the fixing of those certain points or chronological limits, which alone can impart a scientific character to our criticism of ancient texts.

In the Kaushîtaki-brâhmana-upanishad Professor Cowell has pointed out a passage to me, where we must go beyond the text as it stood when commented on by the Saṅkarânanda. In the beginning of the fourth adhyâya all MSS. of the text read savasan, and this is the reading which the commentator seems anxious to explain, though not very successfully. I thought that possibly the commentator might have had before him the reading sa vasan, or so 'vasan, but both would be very unusual. Professor Cowell in his Various Readings, p. xii, conjectured samvasan, which would be liable to the same objection. He now, however, informs me that, as B. has samtvan, and C. satvan, he believes the original text to have been Satvan-Matsyeshu. This seems to me quite convincing, and is borne out by the reading of the Berlin MS., so far as it can be made out from Professor Weber's essay on the Upanishads, Indische Studien I, p. 419. I see that Boehtlingk and Roth in their Sanskrit Dictionary, s. v. satvat, suggest the same emendation.

The more we study the nature of Sanskrit MSS., the more, I believe, we shall feel convinced that their proper arrangement is one by locality rather than by time. I have frequently dwelt on this subject in the introductions to the successive volumes of my edition of the Rig-veda and its commentary by Sâyanâkârya, and my convictions on this point have become stronger ever since. A MS., however modern, from the south of India or from the north, is more important as a check on the textus receptus of any Sanskrit work, as prevalent in Bengal or Bombay, than ever so many MSS., even if of greater antiquity, from the same locality. When therefore I was informed by my friend Dr. Bühler that he had discovered in Kashmir a MS. of the Aitareya-upanishad, I certainly expected some real help from such a treasure. The MS. is described by its discoverer in the last number of the Journal of the Bombay Asiatic Society, p. 34[26], and has since been sent to me by the Indian Government. It is written on birch bark (bhûrga), and in the alphabet commonly called Sâradâ. The leaves are very much injured on the margin, and it is almost impossible to handle them without some injury. In many places the bark has shrunk, probably on being moistened, and the letters have become illegible. Apart from these drawbacks, there remain the difficulties inherent in the Sâradâ alphabet which, owing to its numerous combinations, is extremely difficult to read, and very trying to eyes which are growing weak. However, I collated the Upanishad from the Aitareya-âranyaka, which turned out to be the last portion only, viz. the Samhitâ-upanishad (Ait Âr. III, 1–2), or, as it is called here, Samhitâranya, and I am sorry to say my expectations have been disappointed. The MS. shows certain graphic peculiarities which Dr. Bühler has pointed out. It is particularly careful in the use of the sibilants, replacing the Visarga by sibilants, writing s + s and s + 's instead of h + s and h + s; distinguishing also the Gihvâmûlîya and Upadhmanîya. If therefore the MS. writes antastha, we may be sure that it really meant to write so, and not antahstha, or, as it would have written, antasstha. It shows equal care in the use of the nasals, and generally carries on the sandhi between different paragraphs. Here and there I met with better readings than those given in Rajendralal Mitra's edition, but in most cases the commentary would have been sufficient to restore the right reading. A few various readings, which seemed to deserve being mentioned, will be found in the notes. The MS., though carefully written, is not free from the ordinary blunders. At first one feels inclined to attribute some importance to every peculiarity of a new MS., but very soon one finds out that what seems peculiar, is in reality carelessness. Thus Ait. Âr. III, 1, 5, 2, the Kashmir MS. has pûrvam aksharam rûpam, instead of what alone can be right, pûrvarûpam. Instead of pragyâ pasubhih it writes repeatedly pragaya pasubhih, which is impossible. In III, 2, 2, it leaves out again and again manomaya between khandomaya and vâṅmaya; but that this is a mere accident we learn later on, where in the same sentence manomayo is found in its right place. Such cases reduce this MS. to its'proper level, and make us look with suspicion on any accidental variations, such as I have noticed in my translation.

The additional paragraph, noticed by Dr. Bühler, is very indistinct, and contains, so far as I am able to find out, sânti verses only.

I have no doubt that the discovery of new MSS. of the Upanishads and their commentaries will throw new light on the very numerous difficulties with which a translator of the Upanishads, particularly in attempting a complete and faithful translation, has at present to grapple. Some of the difficulties, which existed thirty years ago, have been removed since by the general progress of Vedic scholarship, and by the editions of texts and commentaries and translations of Upanishads, many of which were known at that time in manuscript only. But I fully agree with M. Regnaud as to the difficultés considérables que les meilleures traductions laissent subsister, and which can be solved only by a continued study of the Upanishads, the Âranyakas, the Brâhmanas, and the Vedânta-sûtras.

Meaning of the word Upanishad.

How Upanishad became the recognised name of the philosophical treatises contained in the Veda is difficult to explain. Most European scholars are agreed in deriving upa-ni-shad from the root sad, to sit down, preceded by the two prepositions ni, down, and upa, near, so that it would express the idea of session, or assembly of pupils sitting down near their teacher to listen to his instruction. In the Trikândasesha, upanishad is explained by samîpasadana, sitting down near a person[27].

Such a word, however, would have been applicable, it would seem, to any other portion of the Veda as well as to the chapters called Upanishad, and it has never been explained how its meaning came thus to be restricted. It is still more strange that upanishad, in the sense of session or assembly, has never, so far as I am aware, been met with. Whenever the word occurs, it has the meaning of doctrine, secret doctrine, or is simply used as the title of the philosophic treatises which constitute the gñânakânda, the knowledge portion, as opposed to the karmakânda, the work or ceremonial portion, of the Veda.

Native philosophers seem never to have thought of deriving upanishad from sad, to sit down. They derive it either from the root sad, in the sense of destruction, supposing these ancient treatises to have received their name because they were intended to destroy passion and ignorance by means of divine revelation[28] or from the root sad, in the sense of approaching, because a knowledge of Brahman comes near to us by means of the Upanishads, or because we approach Brahman by their help. Another explanation proposed by Saṅkara in his commentary on the Taittirîya-upanishad II, 9, is that the highest bliss is contained in the Upanishad (param sreyo 'syâm nishannam).

These explanations seem so wilfully perverse that it is difficult to understand the unanimity of native scholars. We ought to take into account, however, that very general tendency among half-educated people, to acquiesce in any etymology which accounts for the most prevalent meaning of a word. The Âranyakas abound in such etymologies, which probably were never intended as real etymologies, in our sense of the word, but simply as plays on words, helping to account somehow for their meaning. The Upanishads, no doubt, were meant to destroy ignorance and passion, and nothing seemed more natural therefore than that their etymological meaning should be that of destroyers[29].

The history and the genius of the Sanskrit language leave little doubt that upanishad meant originally session, particularly a session consisting of pupils, assembled at a respectful distance round their teacher.

With upa alone, sad occurs as early as the hymns of the Rig-veda, in the sense of approaching respectfully[30]:—

Rig-veda IX, 11, 6. Námastâ ít úpa sîdata, 'approach him with praise.' See also Rig-veda X, 73, 11 I, 65, 1.

In the Khândogya-upanishad VI, 13, 1, a teacher says to his pupil, atha mâ prâtar upasîdathâh, 'come to me (for advice) to-morrow morning.'

In the same Upanishad VII, 8, 1, a distinction is made between those who serve their teachers (parikaritâ), and those who are admitted to their more intimate society (upasattâ, comm. samîpagah, antaraṅgah, priyah).

Again, in the Khândogya-upanishad VII, 1, we read of a pupil approaching his teacher (upâsasâda or upasasda), and of the teacher telling him to approach with what he knows, i. e. to tell him first what he has learnt already (yad vettha tena mopasîda[31]).

In the Sûtras (Gobhilîya Grihya-sûtra II, 10, 38) upasad is the recognised term for the position assumed by a pupil with his hands folded and his eyes looking up to the teacher who is to instruct him.

It should be stated, however, that no passage has yet been met with in which upa-ni-sad is used in the sense of pupils approaching and listening to their teacher. In the only passage in which upanishasâda occurs (Ait. Âr II, 2, 1), it is used of Indra sitting down by the side of Visvâmitra, and it is curious to observe that both MSS. and commentaries give here upanishasasâda, an entirely irregular form.

The same is the case with two other roots which are used almost synonymously with sad, viz. âs and vis. We find upa + âs used to express the position which the pupil occupies when listening to his teacher, e.g. Pân. III, 4, 72, upâsito gurum bhavân, 'thou hast approached the Guru,' or upâsito gurur bhavatâ, 'the Guru has been approached by thee.' We find pari + upa + âs used with regard to relations assembled round the bed of a dying friend, Khând. Up. VI, 15; or of hungry children sitting round their mother, and likened to people performing the Agnihotra sacrifice (Khând. Up. V, 24, 5). But I have never met with upa-ni-as in that sense.

We likewise find upa-vis used in the sense of sitting down to a discussion (Khând. Up. I, 8, 2) but I have never found upa + ni+ vis as applied to a pupil listening to his teacher.

The two prepositions upa and ni occur, however, with pat, to fly, in the sense of flying down and settling near a person, Khând. Up. IV, 7, 2; IV, 8, 2. And the same prepositions joined to the verb sri, impart to it the meaning of sitting down beneath a person, so as to show him respect: Brih. Âr. I, 4, 11. 'Although a king is exalted, he sits down at the end of the sacrifice below the Brahman,' brahmaivântata upanisrayati.

Sad, with upa and ni, occurs in upanishâdin only, and has there the meaning of subject, e.g. Satap. Brâhm. IX, 4, 3, 3, kshatrâya tad visam adhastâd upanishâdinîm karoti, 'he thus makes the Vis (citizen) below, subject to the Kshatriya.'

Sometimes nishad is used by the side of upanishad, and so far as we can judge, without any difference of meaning[32].

All we can say therefore, for the present, is that shad, besides being the recognised title of certain philosophical treatises, occurs also in the sense of doctrine and of secret doctrine, and that it seems to have assumed this meaning from having been used originally in the sense of session or assembly in which one or more pupils receive instruction from a teacher.

Thus we find the word upanishad used in the Upanishads themselves in the following meanings:

1. Secret or esoteric explanation, whether true or false.

2. Knowledge derived from such explanation.

3. Special rules or observances incumbent on those who have received such knowledge.

4. Title of the books containing such knowledge.

I. Ait. Âr. III, 1, 6, 3. 'For this Upanishad, i.e. in order to obtain the information about the true meaning of Samhitâ, Târukshya served as a cowherd for a whole year.'

Taitt. Up. I, 3. 4 'We shall now explain the Upanishad of the Samhita.'

Ait. Âr. III, 2, 5, 1. 'Next follows this Upanishad of the whole speech. True, all these are Upanishads of the whole speech, but this they declare especially.'

Talav. Up. IV, 7. 'As you have asked me to tell you the Upanishad, the Upanishad has now been told you. We have told you the Brâhmî Upanishad,' i.e. the true meaning of Brahman.

In the Khând. Up. III, 11, 3, after the meaning of Brahman has been explained, the text says: 'To him who thus knows this Brahma upanishad (the secret doctrine of Brahman) the sun does not rise and does not set.' In the next paragraph brahma itself is used, meaning either Brahman as the object taught in the Upanishad, or, by a slight change of meaning, the Upanishad itself.

Khând. Up. I, 13, 4. 'Speech yields its milk to him who knows this Upanishad (secret doctrine) of the Sâmans in this wise.'

Khând. Up. VIII, 8, 4. When Indra and Virokana had both misunderstood the teaching of Pragâpati, he says: 'They both go away without having perceived and without having known the Self, and whoever of these two, whether Devas or Asuras, will follow this doctrine (upanishad), will perish.'

II. In the Khând. Up. I, 1, after the deeper meaning of the Udgîtha or Om has been described, the advantage of knowing that deeper meaning is put forward, and it is said that the sacrifice which a man performs with knowledge, with faith, and with the Upanishad, i. e. with an understanding of its deeper meaning, is more powerful.

III. In the Taittirîya-upanishad, at the end of the second chapter, called the Brahmânandavallî, and again at the end of the tenth chapter, the text itself says: Ity upanishad, 'this is the Upanishad, the true doctrine.'

IV. In the Kaushîtaki-upanishad II, 1; 2, we read: 'Let him not beg, this is the Upanishad for him who knows this.' Here upanishad stands for vrata or rahasya-vrata, rule.

Works on the Upanishads.

Anquetil Duperron, Oupnek'hat, 1801, 1802. See page clii.

Rammohun Roy, Translation of Several Principal Books, Passages, and Texts of the Veds. Second edition. London, 1832.

Translation of the Moonduk-Oopunishud of the Uthnrvu Ved, p. 33.

Translation of the Céna Upanishad, one of the Chapters of the Sáma Véda, p. 41.

Translation of the Kut'h-Oopunishud of the Ujoor-Ved, p. 55.

Translation of the Ishopanishad, one of the Chapters of the Yajur Véda, p. 81.

H. T. Colebrooke, Miscellaneous Essays, in three volumes, 1873.

K. J. H. Windischmann, Die Philosophic im Fortgange der Weltgeschichte, 1827-34.

F. W. Windischmann, Sancara, seu de theologumenis Vedanticorum, 1833.

E. Röer, The Taittirîya, Aitareya, Svetâsvatara, Kena Îsâ, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, and Mândûkya Upanishads translated; Bibliotheca Indica. Calcutta, 1853.

Rajendralal Mitra, The Khândogya Upanishad, with extracts from the commentary of Saṅkara; Bibliotheca Indica. Calcutta, 1862.

E. B. Cowell, The Kaushîtaki-brâhmana-upanishad, edited with an English translation; Bibliotheca Indica. Calcutta, 1861.

E. B. Cowell, The Maitri Upanishad, edited with an English translation; Bibliotheca Indica. Calcutta, 1870.

A. Weber, Die Vagrasûkî des Asvaghosha. Berlin, 1860.

A. Weber, Die Râma-tâpanîya Upanishad. Berlin, 1864.

A. Weber, Analyse der in Anquetil du Perron's Übersetzung enthalten Upanishad; Indische Studien, vol. i, p. 247 et seq.

A. E. Gough, The Philosophy of the Upanishads; Calcutta Review, CXXXI.

P. Regnaud, Matériaux pour servir à l'histoire de la Philosophic de l'Inde. Paris, 1876.

Editions of the Upanishads, their commentaries and glosses have been published in the Tattvabodhinî patrikâ, and by Poley (who has also translated several Upanishads into French), by Röer, Cowell, Rajendralal Mitra, Harakandra Vidyâbhûshana, Visvanâtha Sâstrî, Râmamaya Tarkaratna, and others. For fuller titles see Gildemeister, Bibliotheca Sanscrita, and E. Haas, Catalogue of Sanskrit and Pali Books in the British Museum, s. v. Upanishads.



The Khândogya-upanishad belongs to the Sâma-veda. Together with the Brihad-âranyaka, which belongs to the Yagur-veda, it has contributed the most important materials to what may be called the orthodox philosophy of India, the Vedânta[33] i. e. the end, the purpose, the highest object of the Veda. It consists of eight adhyâyas or lectures, and formed part of a Khândogya-brâhmana, in which it was preceded by two other adhyâyas. While MSS. of the Khândogya-upanishad and its commentary are frequent, no MSS. of the whole Brâhmana has been met with in Europe. Several scholars had actually doubted its existence, but Rajendralal Mitra[34], in the Introduction to his translation of the Khândogya-upanishad, states that in India "MSS. of the work are easily available, though as yet he has seen no commentary attached to the Brâhmana portion of any one of them." "According to general acceptation," he adds, "the work embraces ten chapters, of which the first two are reckoned to be the Brâhmana, and the rest is known under the name of Khândogya-upanishad. In their arrangement and style the two portions differ greatly, and judged by them they appear to be productions of very different ages, though both are evidently relics of pretty remote antiquity. Of the two chapters of the Khândogya-brâhmana[35], the first includes eight sûktas (hymns) on the ceremony of marriage, and the rites necessary to be observed at the birth of a child. The first sûkta is intended to be recited when offering an oblation to Agni on the occasion of a marriage, and its object is to pray for prosperity in behalf of the married couple. The second prays for long life, kind relatives, and a numerous progeny. The third is the marriage pledge by which the contracting parties bind themselves to each other. Its spirit may be guessed from a single verse. In talking of the unanimity with which they will dwell, the bridegroom addresses his bride, "That heart of thine shall be mine, and this heart of mine shall be thine[36]." The fourth and the fifth invoke Agni, Vâyu, Kandramas, and Sûrya to bless the couple and ensure healthful progeny. The sixth is a mantra for offering an oblation on the birth of a child; and the seventh and the eighth are prayers for its being healthy, wealthy, and powerful, not weak, poor, or mute, and to ensure a profusion of wealth and milch-cows. The first sûkta of the second chapter is addressed to the Earth, Agni, and Indra, with a prayer for wealth, health, and prosperity; the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth are mantras for offering oblations to cattle, the manes, Sûrya, and divers minor deities. The seventh is a curse upon worms, insects, flies, and other nuisances, and the last, the concluding mantra of the marriage ceremony, in which a general blessing is invoked for all concerned."

After this statement there can be but little doubt that this Upanishad originally formed part of a Brâhmana. This may have been called either by a general name, the Brâhmana of the Khandogas, the followers of the Sâma-veda, or, on account of the prominent place occupied in it by the Upanishad, the Upanishad-râhmana[37]. In that case it would be one of the eight Brâhmana of the Sâma-veda, enumerated by Kumârila Bhatta and others[38], and called simply Upanishad, scil. Brâhmana.

The text of the Upanishad with the commentary of Sankara and the gloss of Ânandagiri has been published in the Bibliotheca Indica. The edition can only claim the character of a manuscript, and of a manuscript not always very correctly read.

A translation of the Upanishad was published, likewise in the Bibliotheca Indica, by Rajendralal Mitra.

It is one of the Upanishads that was translated into Persian under the auspices of Dârâ Shukoh[39], and from Persian into French by Anquetil Duperron, in his Oupnekhat, i.e. Secretum Tegendum. Portions of it were translated into English by Colebrooke in his Miscellaneous Essays, into Latin and German by F. W. Windischmann, in his Sankara, seu de theologumenis Vedanticorum (Bonn, 1833), and in a work published by his father, K. J. H. Windischmann, Die Philosophie im Fortgang der Weltgeschichte (Bonn, 1827-34). Professor A. Weber has treated of this Upanishad in his Indische Studien I, 254; likewise M. P. Regnaud in his Matériaux pour servir à l'histoire de la philosophie de l'lnde (Paris, 1876) and Mr. Gough in several articles on "the Philosophy of the Upanishads," in the Calcutta Review, No. CXXXI.

I have consulted my predecessors whenever there was a serious difficulty to solve in the translation of these ancient texts. These difficulties are very numerous, as those know best who have attempted to give complete translations of these ancient texts. It will be seen that my translation differs sometimes very considerably from those of my predecessors. Though I have but seldom entered into any controversy with them, they may rest assured that I have not deviated from them without careful reflection.



This Upanishad is best known by the name of Kena-upanishad, from its first word. The name of brâhmî-upanishad (IV, 7) can hardly be considered as a title. It means "the teaching of Brahman" and is used with reference to other Upanishads also[40]. Sahkara, in his commentary, tells us that this Upanishad forms the ninth adhyâya of a Brâhmana, or, if we take his words quite literally, he says, "the beginning of the ninth adhyâya is "the Upanishad beginning with the words Keneshitam, and treating of the Highest Brahman has to be taught." In the eight preceeding adhyâyas, he tells us, all the sacred rites or sacrifices had been fully explained, and likewise the meditations (upâsana) on the prâna (vital breath) which belongs to all these sacrifices, and those meditations also which have reference to the fivefold and sevenfold Sâmans. After that followed Gâyatra-sâman and the Vamsa, the genealogical list. All this would naturally form the subject of a Sâma-veda-brâhmana, and we find portions corresponding to the description given by Sankara in the Khândogya-upanishad, e.g. the fivefold Sâman, II, 2; the sevenfold Sâman, II, 8; the Gâyatra-sâman, III, 12, 1.

Ânandagñâna tells us that our Upanishad belonged to the Sâkhâ of the Talavakâras.

All this had formerly to be taken on trust, because no Brâhmana was known containing the Upanishad. Dr. Burnell, however, has lately discovered a Brâhmana of the Sâma-veda which comes very near the description given by Sankara. In a letter dated Tanjore, 8th Dec. 1878, he writes: "It appears to me that you would be glad to know the following about the Kena-upanishad, as it occurs in my MS. of the Talavakâra-brâhmana.

The last book but one of this Brâhmana is termed Upanishad-brâhmana. It consists of 145 khandas treating of the Gâyatra-sâman, and the 134th is a Vamsa. The Kena-upanishad comprises the 135-145 khandas, or the tenth anuvâka of a chapter. The 139th section begins: âsâ vâ idam agra âsît, &c.

My MS. of the Talavakâra-brâhmana agrees, as regards the contents, exactly with what Sankara says, but not in the divisions. He says that the Kena-upanishad begins the ninth adhyâya, but that is not so in my MS. Neither the beginning nor the end of this Upanishad is noticed particularly.

The last book of this Brâhmana is the Ârsheya-brâhmana, which I printed last February.

Among the teachers quoted in the Brâhmana I have noticed both Tândya and Sâtyâyani. I should not be surprised to find in it the difficult quotations which are incorrectly given in the MSS. of Sâyana's commentary on the Rig-veda. The story of Apâlâ, quoted by Sâyana in his commentary on the Rig-veda, VIII, 80, as from the Sâtyâyanaka, is found word for word, except some trivial var. lectiones, in sections 220-221 of the Agnishtoma book of the Talavakâra-brâhmana. The Sâtyâyanins seem to be closely connected with the Talavakâra-sâkhâ."

From a communication made by Dr. Burnell to the Academy (1 Feb. 79), I gather that this Talavakâra-brâhmana is called by those who study it "Gaiminîya-brâhmana," after the Sâkhâ of the Sâma-veda which they follow. The account given in the Academy differs on some particulars slightly from that given in Dr. Burnett's letter to me. He writes: "The largest part of the Brâhmana treats of the sacrifices and the Sâmans used at them. The first chapter is on the Agnihotra, and the Agnishtoma and other rites follow at great length. Then comes a book termed Upanishad-râhmana. This contains 145 sections in four chapters. It begins with speculations on the Gâyatra-sâman, followed by a Vamsa; next, some similar matter and another Vamsa. Then (§§135-138) comes the Kena-upanishad (Talavakâra). The last book is the Ârsheya. The Upanishad forms the tenth anuvâka of the fourth chapter, not the beginning of a ninth chapter, as Sankara remarks."

The Kena-upanishad has been frequently published and translated. It forms part of Dârâ Shukoh's Persian, and Anquetil Duperron's Latin translations. It was several times published in English by Rammohun Roy (Translations of Several Principal Books, Passages, and Texts of the Veda, London, 1832, p. 41), in German by Windischmann, Poley, and others. It has been more or less fully discussed by Colebrooke, Windischmann, Poley, Weber, Röer, Gough, and Regnaud in the books mentioned before.

Besides the text of this Upanishad contained in the Brâhmana of the Sâma-veda, there is another text, slightly differing, belonging to the Atharva-veda, and there are commentaries on both texts (Colebrooke, Misc. Essays, 1873, II, p. 80).



In giving a translation of the Aitareya-upanishad, I found it necessary to give at the same time a translation of that portion of the Aitareya-âranyaka which precedes the Upanishad. The Âranyakas seem to have been from the beginning the proper repositories of the ancient Upanishads, though it is difficult at first sight to find out in what relation the Upanishads stood to the Âranyakas. The Âranyakas are to be read and studied, not in the village (grâme), but in the forest, and so are the Upanishads. But the subjects treated in the Upanishads belong to a very different order from those treated in the other portions of the Âranyakas, the former being philosophical, the latter liturgical.

The liturgical chapters of the Âranyakas might quite as well have formed part of the Brâhmanas, and but for the restriction that they are to be read in the forest, it is difficult to distinguish between them and the Brâhmanas. The first chapter of the Aitareya-âranyaka is a mere continuation of the Aitareya-brÂhmana, and gives the description of the Mahâvrata, the last day but one of the Gavâmayana, a sattra or sacrifice which is supposed to last a whole year. The duties which are to be performed by the Hotri priests are described in the Aitareya-âranyaka; not all, however, but those only which are peculiar to the Mahâvrata day. The general rules for the performance of the Mahâvrata are to be taken over from other sacrifices, such as the Visvagit, Katurvimsa, &c, which form the type (prakriti) of the Mahâvrata. Thus the two sastras or recitations, called âgya-praüga, are taken over from the Visvagit, the sastras of the Hotrakas from the Katurvimsa. The Mahâvrata is treated here as belonging to the Gavâmayana sattra, which is described in a different Sâkhâ, see Taittirîya Samhitâ VII, 5, 8, and partly in other Vedas. It is the day preceding the udayanîya, the last day of the sattra. It can be celebrated, however, by itself also, as an ekâha or ahîna sacrifice, and in the latter case it is the tenth day of the Ekadasarâtra (eleven nights sacrifice) called Pundarîka.

Sâyana does not hesitate to speak of the Aitareya-âranyaka as a part of the Brâhmana[41]; and a still earlier authority, Sankara, by calling the Aitareya-upanishad by the name of Bahvrika-brâhmana-upanishad[42], seems to imply that both the Upanishad and the Âranyaka may be classed as Brâhmana.

The Aitareya-âranyaka appears at first sight a miscellaneous work, consisting of liturgical treatises in the first, fourth, and fifth Âranyakas, and of three Upanishads, in the second and third Âranyakas. This, however, is not the case. The first Âranyaka is purely liturgical, giving a description of the Mahâvrata, so far as it concerns the Hotri priest. It is written in the ordinary Brâhmana style. Then follows the first Upanishad, Âranyaka II, 1-3, showing how certain portions of the Mahâvrata, as described in the first Âranyaka, can be made to suggest a deeper meaning, and ought to lead the mind of the sacrificer away from the purely outward ceremonial to meditation on higher subjects. Without a knowledge of the first Âranyaka therefore the first Upanishad would be almost unintelligible, and though its translation was extremely tedious, it could not well have been omitted.

The second and third Upanishads are not connected with the ceremonial of the Mahâvrata, but in the fourth and fifth Âranyakas the Mahâvrata forms again the principal subject, treated, however, not as before in the style of the Brâhmanas, but in the style of Sûtras. The fourth Âranyaka contains nothing but a list of the Mahânâmnî hymns[43], but the fifth describes the Mahâvrata again, so that if the first Âranyaka may be looked upon as a portion of the Aitareya-brâhmanas, the fifth could best be classed with the Sûtras of Âsvalâyana.

To a certain extent this fact, the composite character of the Aitareya-âranyaka, is recognised even by native scholars, who generally do not trouble themselves much on such questions. They look both on the Aitareya-brâhmana and on the greater portion of Aitareya-âranyaka as the works of an inspired Rishi, Mahidâsa Aitareya[44], but they consider the fourth and fifth books of the Âranyaka as contributed by purely human authors, such as Âsvalâyana and Saunaka, who, like other Sûtrakâras, took in verses belonging to other Sâkhâs, and did not confine their rules to their own Sâkhâ only.

There are many legends about Mahidâsa, the reputed author of the Aitareya-brâhmana and Âranyaka. He is quoted several times as Mahidâsa Aitareya in the Aranyaka itself, though not in the Brâhmana. We also meet his name in the Khândogya-upanishad (III, 16, 7), where we are told that he lived to an age of 116 years[45]. All this, however, would only prove that, at the time of the composition or collection of these Âranyakas and Upanishads, a sage was known of the name of Mahidâsa Aitareya, descended possibly from Itara or Itarâ, and that one text of the Brâhmanas and the Âranyakas of the Bahvrikas was handed down in the family of the Aitareyins.

Not content with this apparently very obvious explanation, later theologians tried to discover their own reasons for the name of Aitareya. Thus Sâyana, in his introduction to the Aitareya-brâhmana[46], tells us that there was once a Rishi who had many wives. One of them was called Itarâ, and she had a son called Mahidâsa. His father preferred the sons of his other wives to Mahidâsa, and once he insulted him in the sacrificial hall, by placing his other sons on his lap, but not Mahidâsa. Mahidâsa's mother, seeing her son with tears in his eyes, prayed to her tutelary goddess, the Earth (svîyakuladevatâ Bhûmih), and the goddess in her heavenly form appeared in the midst of the assembly, placed Mahidâsa on a throne, and on account of his learning, gave him the gift of knowing the Brâhmana, consisting of forty adhyâyas, and, as Sâyana calls it, another Brâhmana, "treating of the Âranyaka duties" (âranyakavratarûpam brâhmanam).

Without attaching much value to the legend of Itarâ, we see at all events that Sâyana considered what we call the Aitareyâranyaka as a kind of Brâhmana, not however the whole of it, but only the first, second, and third Âranyakas (atha mahâvratam îtyâdikam âkâryâ âkâryâ ityantam). How easy it was for Hindu theologians to invent such legends we see from another account of Mahidâsa, given by Ânandatîrtha in his notes on the Aitareya-upanishad. He, as Colebrooke was the first to point out, takes Mahidâsa "to be an incarnation of Nârâyana, proceeding from Visâla, son of Abga," and he adds, that on the sudden appearance of this deity at a solemn celebration, the whole assembly of gods and priests (suraviprasangha) fainted, but at the intercession of Brahmâ, they were revived, and after making their obeisance, they were instructed in holy science. This avatâra was called Mahidâsa, because those venerable personages (mahin) declared themselves to be his slaves (dâsa)[47].

In order properly to understand this legend, we must remember that Ânandatîrtha, or rather Visvesvaratîrtha, whose commentary he explains, treated the whole of the Mahaitareya-upanishad from a Vaishnava point of view, and that his object was to identify Mahidâsa with Nârâyana. He therefore represents Nârâyana or Hari as the avatâra of Visâla, the son of Brahman (abgasuta), who appeared at a sacrifice, as described before, who received then and there the name of Mahidâsa (or Mahîdâsa), and who taught this Upanishad. Any other person besides Mahidâsa would have been identified with the same ease by Visvesvaratîrtha with Vishnu or Bhagavat.

A third legend has been made up out of these two by European scholars who represent Mahidâsa as the son of Visâla and Itarâ, two persons who probably never met before, for even the Vaishnava commentator does not attempt to take liberties with the name of Aitareya, but simply states that the Upanishad was called Aitareyî, from Aitareya.

Leaving these legends for what they are worth, we may at all events retain the fact that, whoever was the author of the Aitareya-brâhmana and the first three books of the Aitareya-âranyaka, was not the author of the two concluding Âranyakas. And this is confirmed in different ways. Sâyana, when quoting in his commentary on the Rig-veda from the last books, constantly calls it a Sûtra of Saunaka, while the fourth Âranyaka is specially ascribed Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/106 Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/107 Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/108 Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/109 Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/110 Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/111

  1. Elphinstone, History of India, ed. Cowell, p. 610,
  2. M. M., Introduction to the Science of Religion, p. 79.
  3. Several other MSS. of this translation have since come to light; one at Oxford, Codices Wilsoniani, 399 and 400. Anquetil Duperron gives the following title of the Persian translation: 'Hanc interpretationem τῶυ Oupnekhathai quorumvis quatuor librorum Beid, quod, designatum cum secreto magno (per secretum magnum) est, et integram cognitionem luminis luminum, hic Fakir sine tristitia (Sultan) Mohammed Dara Schakoh ipse, cum significatione recta, cum sinceritate, in tempore sex mensium (postremo die, secundo του Schonbeh, vigesimo) sexto mensis του Ramazzan, anno 1067 του Hedjri (Christi, 1657) in urbe Delhi, in mansione nakhe noudeh, cum absolutione ad finem fecit pervenire.' The MS. was copied by Âtma Ram in the year 1767 a.d. Anquetil Duperron adds: 'Absolutum est hoc Apograph urn versionis Latinse τωυ quinquaginta Oupnekhatha, ad verbum, e Persico idiomate, Samskreticis vocabulis intermixto, facts, die 9 Octobris, 1796, 18 Brumaire, anni 4, Reipublic. Gall. Parisiis.'
  4. M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, second edition, p. 325.
  5. Schopenhauer, Parerga, third edition, II, p. 426.
  6. Loc. cit. II, pp. 425.
  7. Loc. cit. I, p. 59.
  8. Loc. cit. II, p. 428.
  9. Loc. cit. I, p. 6. These passages were pointed out to me by Professor Noiré.
  10. Born 1774, died at 2.30 a.m., on Friday, 28th September, 1833.
  11. Last Days of Rammohun Roy, by Mary Carpenter, 1866, p. 135.
  12. M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 319.
  13. 'The adoration of the invisible Supreme Being is exclusively prescribed by the Upanishads or the principal parts of the Vedas and also by the Vedant.' Rammohun Roy, Translation of the Kena-upanishad, Calcutta, 1816, p. 6. M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 320.
  14. Last Days, p. 11.
  15. See Weber, Indische Studien, IX, p. 1 seq.
  16. See M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 317.
  17. Âpastamba, translated by Bühler, Sacred Books of the East, vol. ii, p. 75.
  18. Gautama, translated by Bühler, Sacred Books of the East, vol. ii, p. 272, and Introduction, p. lvi.
  19. Vedânta-sûtras I. 1, 11.
  20. One misses the Îsâ or Îsâvâsya-upanishad in this list. The Upanishads chiefly studied in Bengal are the Brihad-âranyaka, Aitareya, Khândogya, Taittirîya, Îsâ, Kena, Katha, Pnasma, Mundaka, and Mândûkya, to which should be added the Svetâsvatara. M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 325.
  21. Dr. Burnell thinks that this is an artificial computation, 108 being a sacred number in Southern India. See Kielhorn in Gough's Papers on Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 193.
  22. Weber, History of Sanskrit Literature, p. 155 note.
  23. Indian Antiquary, II, 267.
  24. They are generally explained as khândasa, but in one place (Maitr. Up. II, 4) the commentator treats such irregularities as etakkhâkhâsaṅketapâthah, a reading peculiar to the Maitrâyanîya school. Some learned remarks on this point may be seen in an article by Dr. L. Schroeder, Über die Maitrâyanî Samhitâ.
  25. Rig-veda, translated by M. M., vol i, Preface, p. cxliii.
  26. Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1877. Extra Number, containing the Detailed Report of a Tour in search of Sanskrit MSS., made in Kásmír, Rajputana, and Central India, by G. Bühler.
  27. nini I, 4, 79, has upanishatkritya.
  28. M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 318; Colebrooke, Essays, I, 92; Regnaud, Matériaux, p. 7.
  29. The distinction between possible and real etymologies is as modern as that between legend and history.
  30. See M. M.'s History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 318.
  31. See also Khand. Up. VI, 7, 2.
  32. Mahâbhârata, Sântiparva, 1613.
  33. Vedânta, as a technical term, did not mean originally the last portions of the Veda, or chapters placed, as it were, at the end of a volume of Vedic literature, but the end, i.e. the object, the highest purpose of the Veda. There are, of course, passages, like the one in the Taittirîya-âranyaka (ed. Rajendralal Mitra, p. 820), which have been misunderstood both by native and European scholars, and where vedânta means simply the end of the Veda:—yo vedâdau svarah prokto vedânte ka pratishtkitah, "the Om which is pronounced at the beginning of the Veda, and has its place also at the end of the Veda." Here vedânta stands simply in opposition to vedâdau, and it is impossible to translate it, as Sâyana does, by Vedânta or Upanishad. Vedânta, in the sense of philosophy, occurs in the Taittirîya-âranyaka (p. 817), in a verse of the Nârâyanîya-upanishad, repeated in the Mundaka-upanishad III, 2, 6, and elsewhere, vedântavignânasuniskitârthâh, "those who have well understood the object of the knowledge arising from the Vedânta," not "from the last books of the Veda;" and Svetâsvatara-up. VI, 22, vedânte paramam guhyam, "the highest mystery in the Vedânta." Afterwards it is used in the plural also, e. g. Kshurikopanishad, 10 (Bibl. Ind. p. 210), pundarîketi vedânteshu nigadyate, "it is called pundarîka in the Vedântas," i. e. in the Khândogya and other Upanishads, as the commentator says, but not in the last books of each Veda. A curious passage is found in the Gautama-sûtras XIX, 12, where a distinction seems to be made between Upanishad and Vedânta. Sacred Books, vol. ii, p. 272.
  34. Khândogya-upanishad, translated by Rajendralal Mitra, Calcutta, 1862, Introduction, p. 17.
  35. It begins, Om, deva savitah, pra suva yagñam pra suva yagñapatim bhagâya. The second begins, yak prâkm disi sarparâga esha te balik.
  36. Yad etad dhridayam tava tad astu hridayam mama, Yad idam hridayam mama tad astu hridayam tava.
  37. The same name seems, however, to be given to the adhyâya of the Talavakâra-brâhmana, which contains the Kena-upanishad.
  38. M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 348. Most valuable information on the literature of the Sâma-veda may be found in Dr. Burnell's editions of the smaller Brâhmanas of that Veda.
  39. M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 335.
  40. See before, p. lxxxiii.
  41. Aitareyabrâhmane 'sti kândam âranyakâbhidham (introduction), a remark which he repeats in the fifth Âranyaka. He also speaks of the Âranyaka-vratarûpam brâhmanam; see p. cxiv, 1. 24.
  42. In the same manner the Kaushîtaki-upanishad is properly called Kaushîtaki-brâhmana-upanishad, though occurring in the Âranyaka; see Kaushîtaki-brâhmana-upanishad, ed. Cowell, p. 30
  43. See Boehtlingk and Roth, s.v. "Neun Vedische Verse die in ihrem vollständigen Wortlaut aber noch nicht nachgewiesen sind." Weber, Indische Stadien VIII, 68. How these hymns are to be employed we learn from the Âsvalâyana-sûtras VII, 12, 10, where we are told that if the Udgâtris sing the Sâkvara Sâman as the Prishthastotra, the nine verses beginning with Vidâ maghavan, and known by the name of Mahânâmnî, are to be joined in a peculiar manner. The only excuse given, why these Mahânâmnîs are mentioned here, and not in the Brahmana, is that they are to be studied in the forest.
  44. M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, pp. 177, 335.
  45. Not 1600 years, as I printed by mistake; for 24 + 44 + 48 make 116 years. Rajendralal Mitra should not have corrected his right rendering 116 into 1600. Ait. Âr. Introduction, p. 3.
  46. M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 336.
  47. Colebrooke, Miscellaneous Essays, 1873, II, p. 42.