From the Jacket
The Upanishads are a Hindu heritage but go far beyond the Hindus. These scriptures are Indian but transcend its territory. The sublime science of the spirit these esoteric teaching enshrine is universal and yet to other spheres we may call trans-universal.
No expression cab be chaster none purer, and none more elevating than the Upanishadic utterances that came down to us from the saints and sages of yore who lived in the forests mediating on the supreme. No thought can be more lofty, none more sublime, and none more inspiring than the thoughts conveyed through the naïve utterances of these Vedic sages who breathed into their words all that is auspices for the whole of humanity.
Back of the Book
This work is significant in being the product of a single-minded pursuit and undivided devotion and in completing it with success the author has immortalized himself. The peculiar characteristic of this hole-hearted dedication is that it hasn’t got the least trace of any commercial intent, nor is the strenuous effort motivated by any personal gain.
In this esoteric work the author interprets to us the actual text of Sankara Bhashya on the world’s most ancient and lofty attestation of the science of the self, which combines the eternal rules that govern the phenomenal universe and the intangible cosmos, too rational to be rejected by infidels, too experiential to be ignored by scientists, too rebelliously truthful to be bound by priestly rituals. This book, which is the valuable product of a life-long study and research, can well claim the merit of offering unerring guidance to any sincere student of Indian philosophy.
Anything that is classic in style elevates and inspires; everything else just amuses. ‘Upanishads in Sankara’s Own Words’ comes under the first category and goes beyond what a purely loyal textual translation could do for the understanding of the Upanishads, for it shines with the richness of information on a variety of allied topics.
Dr. U.R. Anandamurthy, former Vice-Chancellor of mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam once happened to tell me how, when he visited a University in Poland, the students gathered around him and asked whether he had brought with him the Upanishads from India. Not only in Poland, the thinking minds all the world over also have a fascination for the teaching of the Vedanta, for it is the quintessence of the ancient wisdom and divine thoughts.
In my hectic wanderings I had come across a few commentaries on the Upanishads. I have been much fascinated by the loftiness of thoughts embedded in the Isavasya and I know from reliable sources that, apart from the well-known Bhashya of Sri Sankara on the Isa, there are a few Karikas on it that are interesting. Which are they? My inquisitiveness made me restless.
In the last quarter of 1989 I happened to meet Vidyavachaspati V.Panoli. During our discussion on the Isa. I asked him about the Karikas. Surprisingly enough, he explained to me about all the Karikas written so far on the Isa. The Gobhila Karika and the Narada Karika are the most ancient ones according to him. Besides, there are two other commentaries on it viz. the Karika of Kumara and the Bhashya of Hamsa Yogi which are very little known. That day was auspicious, as proved by later events. Sri Panoli described to me how he dedicated the major part of his life to the study of an research in the Upanishads, how he happened to render into English the whole of the Sankara Bhashya on the ten principal Upanishads, etc. He showed me the volume of the typescripts of the ten major Upanishads with the commentaries. When I ascertained how much time it took him to bring things into that shape, he said, “Eight and a half years”. To spend the best part of one’s life for the study of the sacred texts and render them in English which is the most pervasive tongue, without the least inclination for name and fame or monetary gain, is indeed commendable, especially when the work done is highly beneficial to the future generations. Can there be anything more sublime than to transmit the Knowledge essential for the development of man as man in totality? This is undoubtedly a unique venture, especially when one pauses to ponder over the time and energy spent on it.
Sri Panoli told me that he was in search of a publisher. Let me quote his won words: “I knocked at many doors, but no door Opened”. A work of this magnitude should not run into a waste I consulted Sri P.V. Chandran, Managing editor of Mathrubhumi and asked for his opinion. He, without the least hesitation, concurred with my view that Mathrubhumi should bring out the complete Bhashya of Sri Sankara on the hen major Upanishads as its publication.
Of late, Mathrubhumi has taken a decision that its publication should, as far as possible, be confined to classics in every branch of learning. Since the work discussed here comes under this category, there was no impediment to its publication. Justice Sri V.R. Krishna Iyer released the first volume of this book on the 14th of September 1991. The crowd consisting of the elite of the city was a charming spectacle from the point of view of both number and quality. The passion and fervour with which the generous public received the book seemed to be amazing and Justice Sri V.R. Krishna Iyer and all of us became mystic about it. Who could ever say that the work on the Upanishads would become the best seller? But in the instant case it was proved. The first volume ran out with all speed, leaving behind no copy at the end of the fifth month of its release. Since then the remaining three volumes were also released with great success. This also proved beyond doubt that the decision of Mathrubhumi to publish classics is a correct one. Everything is not dead. Spiritual thoughts live to inspire mankind anywhere and everywhere. As long as there are souls with so much of eagerness and hunger for spiritual unfoldment, we need not despair. And innumerable are the letters we receive from all quarters conveying appreciation and admiration for having brought out this unique work. While publishing the work of such excellence as the one the Mathrubhumi is now doing, we do not generally look into the aspect of return, but there is the satisfaction that we have, within our limits, tried our best to serve a noble cause- the cause that consists in popularizing the man-making character-building ideals conceived by the ancient Rishis of this land, thereby enriching our thoughts and aspirations.
If fills our hearts with pride to say that with the publication of ‘Gita and Upanishads in Sankara’s Own Words’, authored by Vidyavachaspati V. Panoli, Mathrubhumi enjoys the privilege of its publication being displayed for me first time on the shelves of hundred University-libraries all over India.
These books have created a tremendous impact, as far as the readers of philosophical literature are concerned. In the annals of the Mathrubhumi no book of classic nature, especially in the field of philosophy, had run out with all speed as did this work of Jagadguru Adi Sankara. As for us, we cannot but attribute this unprecedented success to the infinite grace of the great Acharya.
This work is intended, not for a particular period, but for generations. We feel gratified that Sri Adi Sankara’s commentaries on the Upanishads and the Gita could be brought out completely in English with the texts in the original Sanskrit and with all necessary explanatory notes and footnotes, from the very land in which the great Acharya was born.
This work is significant in being the product of a single-minded pursuit and undivided devotion and in completing it with success the author has immortalized himself. The peculiar characteristic of this whol