AN INVITATION TO UPANISHHADIC PHILOSOPHY

JaneSmith105

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shravaNaayaapi bahubhiryo na labhyaH shravanto.api bahavoyaam.h na vidyuH . aashcharyo vaktaa kushalosya labdhaaH aashcharyo GYaataa kushalaanushishhThaH ..

" He (The Truth) who cannot even be heard of by many, whom many, even hearing, donot know, wondrous is he (the person) who can teach (The Truth) and skilful is he (the person) who finds (The Truth) and wondrous is he (the person) who knows, even when instructed otherwise. "
- kaTha upanishhad


aa no bhadraah kratavo yantu vishvataH ..
" May noble thoughts come to us from every direction. "
- The R^ig Veda

These two verses convey the essence of the spirit of the upanishhads. The goal of the upanishhads is beautifully expressed in a verse from Taittiriiya Upanishhad as the " Soul of Truth, the delight of life and the bliss of mind, the fullness of peace and eternity. " Although the upanishhads are closely correlated to Hinduism, to characterize them as being exclusively Hindu Philosophy is not fair either to Hinduism as a Dharma or to the rich variety of metaphysical and epistemological speculations that the word Philosophy implies.
" The upanishhads", says Radhakrishnan, " represent a great chapter in the history of the human spirit and have dominated Indian philosophy, religion and life for three thousand years. Every subsequent religious movement in India has had to show itself to be in accordance with their philosophical statements." So much so that Mr. R. Gordon Milburn claims that " Christianity in India needs the Vedaanta...as constituting what might be called an Ethnic Old Testament " [1]. Upanishhadic thought influenced, either directly or though Buddhism, the cultural life of many other nations, including Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka and The Malay peninsula. As far west as Central Asia, Indian texts were found buried in the sands of the desert. Winternitz states: " From the mystical doctrines of the upanishhads, one current of thought may be traced to the mysticism of persian Sufism, to the mystic, theosophic logos doctrine of the Neo-Platonics and the Alexandrian Christian Mystics, Eckhart and Tauler, and finally to the philosophy of the great German mystic of the nineteenth century, Schopenhauer" [2].

The upanishhads have been accused of being inconsistent in their line of thought, as also praised as " the products of the highest wisdom " [Schopenhauer]. The accusation is irrelevant because the upanishhads were never intended to be treatises pertaining to a single strain of thought. In reality, they constitute what may be called the Visitors Book of philosophers, bearing witness to all the strains of thought that arose from time to time in the Indian subcontinent.

The ideal which the thinkers of the upanishhads pursued, the ideal of man's ultimate beatitude, the perception of the Real in which the religious hunger of the mystic for divine vision and the philosopher's ceaseless quest for Truth are both satisfied, is still our ideal [3].

In an attempt to provide glimpses of upanishhadic philosophy, I am compiling some information in these pages with the hope that it may prove useful to those who are interested in it and, perhaps, interest those that have not yet heard the voice of the upanishhads, the upanishhadvaaNi.
 
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