Please Wait...

A Constructive Survey Of Upanishadic Philosophy: Being An Introduction To The Thought Of The Upanishads (An Old Book)

A Constructive Survey Of Upanishadic Philosophy: Being An Introduction To The Thought Of The Upanishads (An Old Book)
Item Code: IDE780
Author: R.D. Ranade
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Language: English
Edition: 1986
Pages: 372
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.8 Inch X 5.8 Inch
weight of the book: 575 gms

About the Book:

The Upanishads occupy a unique place in the development of Indian thought. They contain the roots of all systems of philosophy rising one upon another like the crests of the Himalayas culminating in a vision of the Absolute Reality.

The Western scholars had a prejudice against Indian Philosophy that it was pessimistic and other-worldly. To remove this notion it was necessary to spotlight its synthesis of the worldly prosperity and spiritual good as well as the blissful nature of its Summum Bonum. All this had to be done y such a method as would make an instant appeal to a western mind. Prof. Ranade discussed Upanishadic thought by using western terminology and western method and this has proved to be a novel contribution to the study of Indian Philosophy. He thus provided a new method to the Orientalists for tackling philosophical problems and gave to the western scholars a new material to exercise their intellects on.

The essence of the teachings of the Upanishadic is placed in the hands of the reader by using the synthetic method so as to underline their contribution to different branches of philosophy like psychology, metaphysics, ethics and religion. Prof. Ranade notes that the ultimate purpose of the work is spiritual, i.e. the practical appropriation of the Divine. As Such both the theoretical and the practical aspects of mysticism are outlined here.

A systematic construction of the philosophy of the Upanishads is as onerous as it is enlightening. Prof. Ranade's mastery over Indian and Western Philosophy, his apt combination of philosophy and philology, his precision in using technical terminology and above all his mystical insight into Reality, in the light of which he interpreted philosophical doctrines are some of the salient features of this volume.

In a word this is both a historico-literary as well as a philosophico-mystical study of the Upanishads.

About the Author:

More popularly known among his close followers and disciples as Gurudev, Dr. R. D. Ranade was born in 1886 in Jamkhandi in Karnatak. He took his Master of Arts degree with distinction from the Bombay University. Even from his student days, he was of a spiritual bent of mind.

As a Professor of Philosophy in Fergusson College, Poona, and ten as head of the Department of Philosophy in the Allahabad University, and later as its Vice-Chancellor, his record has been a very distinguished one.

His founding the Adhyatma Vidyapeeth at Nimbal and his authorship of very profound books on Philosophy and Mysticism were the outcome of his constant endeavour to know and live in Truth. His first significant book was "A Constructive Survey of Upanishadic Philosophy". Then followed "The Creative Period" which he wrote in collaboration with Dr. Belvalkar. His studies in mysticism in Marathi, Kannda and Hindi literature are masterpieces of deep scholarship and popular presentation of psychology and philosophy of religion.

The last wok completed by the late Dr. R. D. Ranade during his life time is "The Bhagavad-gita as a Philosophy of God-realisation." This is his crowning contribution to religio-philosophical literature.

He passed away in 1957 leaving behind a great reputation as scholar, philosopher, mystic and author.

(Second Edition)

The lectures on the basis of which Dr. R. D. Ranade wrote the 'Constructive Survey of Upanishadic Philosophy' were delivered in 1915. The first edition of the book was published in 1926. It is out of print for the last few years. It is fortunate that now a second edition could be placed in the hands of readers.

The Preface to the first edition reproduced in this book was written by the author himself. It explains clearly the approach of the author to the subject as well as the rationale and methodology he has followed in the treatment of the most important body of thought contained in the major Upanishads. As early as when he wrote out this book on the thirteen Upanishads which are considered to be the earliest and the most seminal, he was already considering the proposition of writing on the minor and later Upanishads also. But what is far more important is that he was contemplating bringing out the total philosophy of Vedanta in a later work. This shows that this work of his is not an isolated or detached attempt at studying the Upanishads but forms an integral part of his comprehensive grasp and interpretation of the rich treasure of ancient Indian philosophical as well as mystical literature. While about this matter4, he says that the seeds of most of the systems of Indian philosophy are to be found in the Upanishads. Like Alps over Alps, these systems, he says, culminate in a view of Absolute Reality worthy of study. It was thus that he envisaged his later work, 'Vedanta – The Culmination of Indian Thought,' which is still to see the light of day.

Since the Vedas, Upanishads, the Brahmasutras which are an aphoristic summary of the co-ordinated doctrines of the Upanishads, and Bhagavad-Gita are the living and continuing sources of Indian religion and philosophical thought, there has been no end to writings and commentaries on these works, Both Indian and foreign scholars have written abundantly. Indian thinkers and leaders in various fields have been drawing inspiration and spiritual as well as moral strength from these fountains of perennial philosophy. Therefore, there is no necessity or bringing to the readers' mind once again the importance of those ancient texts. This book, however, which is a unique contribution by Dr. Ranade to the profound study of the main Upanishads, deserves special attention.

One who goes through the Preface to the first edition can easily see that mere scholarship is the least part of the book. Dr. Ranade was not only a thinker and a philosopher but also one who spent the most important part of his life in meditation and devout contemplation. The Atman, the ultimate Reality, was not something to be merely thought about or casually felt but something to be realized by constant meditation by one's whole being. Spiritual experience by the totality of one's being is the most important thing. While this way is enough and soul-fulfilling so far as an individual is concerned, out of sheer surfeit of joyful ecstacy one has to find channels of communication. Language and logic, at once lucid and clear, therefore have to be the common instruments for this purpose.

Dr. Ranade had the gift of analytical thinking as much as synthetical grasp of systems of thought which are reflected in the Upanishads. His aim is clear from the Preface he has written. If he wanted to be critical about superficial criticisms leveled at the Upanishads, he has shown how devastating he could be. If he wanted his book to be a comparative study, he could have pointed out parallelisms of thought and expression between Upanishadic sayings and the earliest Greek philosophers as well as the latest European or Western thinkers. He had scholarship enough for all that. But his aim was quite different. He set for himself as task which had never been attempted so thoroughly and in so profound and scientific a manner. His was a constructive approach as he puts it, and for that, in addition to equal mastery of Indian and European thought, a full grasp of the methodology of western presentation was necessary. Then to find the terminology to appropriately convey the Indian thought of the Upanishads was also a difficult task. It seems, however, that Dr. Ranade has eminently a difficult task. It seems, however, that Dr. Ranade has eminently succeeded and presented to the world in modern phrase and by modern method the ancient intuitional as well as logical thought of the Upanishads.

This kind of study and presentation is absolutely necessary in so far as India is no longer an isolated peninsula nor Indian thought a monopoly of the Indians alone. The narrow national outlook characteristic of past generations has already passed away. Men all over are developing a world outlook and are prone to global thinking. All religions, all cultures, all people are but integral parts of the mighty human endeavour to reach hisher levels of existence and richer dimensions of consciousness. To this endeavour India and Indians can and ought to contribute substantially being one of the oldest people with a rich heritage of history and wisdom. There is no doubt that this attempts of Dr. Ranade will play its humble part in the march towards common humanity and a higher destiny.


1 The Significance of the Study of the Upanishads 1
2 The Upanishads and the Rigveda 2
3 The Upanishads and the Atharvaveda 3
4 The Upanishads and the Brahmanas 4
5 Meaning of Revelation 6
6 The Upanishadic view of Revelation 7
7 Chronological arrangement of the Upanishads 8
8 The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 12
9 The Chhandogya Upanishad 14
10 The Isa and the Kena Upanishads 16
11 The Aitareya, the Taittiriya, and the Kaushitaki Upanishads 17
12 The Katha, the Mundaka, and the Svetasvatara Upanishads 19
13 The Prasna, the Maitri, and the Mandukya Upanishads 21
14 The Methods of Upanishadic Philosophy 23
  (i) The enigmatic method 23
  (ii) The aphoristic method 24
  (iii) The etymological method 25
  (iv) The mythical method 25
  (v) The analogical method 26
  (vi) The dialectic method 26
  (vii) The synthetic method 26
  (viii) The monologic method 27
  (ix) The ad hoc method 27
  (x) The regressive method 28
15 The Poetry of the Upanishads 28
16 The Philosophers of the Upanishadic period 30
17 Mystical, Moral, and other philosophers 31
18 Cosmological, and Psychological philosophers 33
19 Metaphysical philosophers 33
  (i) Sandilya 35
  (ii) Dadhyach 35
  (iii) Sanatkumara 35
  (iv) Aruni 37
  (v) Yajnavalkya 39
30 General social condition 41
  (i) Origin of Castes and Orders 41
  (ii) The position of Women 42
  (iii) The relation of Brahmins to Kshatriyas 43
31 The Problems of Upanishadic philosophy 44
  Sources I 46
I. Impersonalistic Theories of Cosmology
1 Search after the Substratum 53
2 Progress of the Chapter 54
3 Water as the Substratum 55
4 Air 56
5 Fire 57
6 Space 58
7 Not-Being 58
8 Not-Being and the Egg of the Universe 60
9 Being 61
10 Prana 63
11 The Controversy between Prana and the Organs of Sense 63
12 Prana, a bio-psycho-metaphysical conception 65
II. Personalistic Theories of Cosmogony
13 The idea of a Creator, and the Creation of mythological and philosophical dualities 66
14 The Atman, and the creation of the duality of sex 67
15 Creation by Atman through the Intermediary Person 68
16 Atman and the theory of Emanation 70
17 The Personal-Impersonal theory of Creation in Mundaka 70
18 The Theistic theory of Creation in Svetasvatara 71
19 The Theory of Independent Parallelism as an explanation of the analogies of Upanishadic and Greek philosophers 72
  Sources II 75
I. Empirical Psychology
1 Empirical, Abnormal, and Rational Psychology 82
2 The relation of Mind to Alimentation 82
3 Attention involves Suspension of Breath 83
4 Analysis of Fear 83
5 The claim of Will for primacy 84
6 The claim of Intellect for primacy 85
7 Classification of Mental States 85
8 Intellectualistic Psychology and Idealistic Metaphysics 86
II. Abnormal Psychology
9 The problem of Death in Chhandogya 87
10 The problem of Death in Katha 87
11 The problem of sleep: the Fatigue and Puritat theories 88
12 The problem of Sleep: the Prana and Brahman theories 89
13 The Dream Problem 97
14 Early psychical research 92
15 The Power of Thought 92
III. Rational Psychology
16 No psychology ohne Seele 93
17 The question of the seat of the soul 93
18 The heart and the brain as seats 94
19 The relation of the body and the soul 96
20 The history of the spatial extension of the soul 96
21 The soul, both infinitely large and infinitely small 99
22 Analysis of the states of consciousness 100
23 The microcosm and the macrocosm 101
24 The "sheaths" of the soul 102
25 Limitations of a modern interpretation 102
26 The problem of Sheaths, at bottom the problem of Substance 103
27 The Idea of Transmigration, an Aryan Idea 104
28 Transmigration in the Rigveda: the Xth Mandala 105
29 Transmigration in the Rigveda: the 1st Mandala 105
30 The ethno-psychological development of the idea of Transmigration 109
31 Transmigration in the Upanishads: the Kathopanishad 110
32 Transmigration in the Upanishads: the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 110
33 The destiny of the evil soul 112
34 Eschatology in the Brihadarayaka 114
35 Eschatology in the Chhandogya: the Two Paths 114
36 The moral backbone of Upanishadic eschatology 116
37 Upanishadic and Platonic eschatology 116
38 Variation in the conception of the Path of the Gods 117
39 Idea of Immortal Life 117
  Sources III 119
1 Introductory 131
2 The Upanishads and Buddhism 132
3 Samkhya in the Chhandogya, Katha, and Prasna Upanishads 134
4 Samkhya in the Svetasvatara Upanishad 136
5 The Upanishads and Yoga 137
6 The Upanishads and Nyaya-Vaiseshika 139
7 The Upanishads and Mimansa 140
8 The Upanishads and Saivism 141
9 Phraseological and Ideological Identities between the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita 142
10 Development of the Bhagavadgita over the Upanishads 143
11 The Asvattha in the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita 145
12 The Krishna of the Chhandogya and the Krishna of the Bhagavadgita 146
13 The Upanishads and the Schools of the Vedanta 149
14 Madhvaism in the Upanishads 150
15 The Triune Absolute of Ramanuja 152
16 God, the Soul of Nature 153
17 God, the Soul of Souls 154
18 Ramanuja's Doctrine of Immortality 155
19 The fundamental propositions of Sankara's Philosophy 156
20 The Absolute, the only Reality 157
21 The negative-positive characterisation of the Absolute 159
22 Sankara's Doctrines of Identity, Creation, and Immortality 160
23 Three theories about the origin of the Doctrine of Maya 162
24 The Doctrine of Maya in the Upanishads 163
25 Vicissitudes in the historical development of the doctrine of Maya 165
  Sources IV 169
1 The Supreme Philosophical Problem 181
2 The three approaches to the Problem in the history of thought: cosmological, theological, psychological 181
1. The Cosmological Approach
3 Regress from the cosmological to the physiological categories 183
4 Regress from the cosmological and physiological to the psychological categories 184
5 The cosmological argument for the existence of God; God is all-powerful 185
6 God is supreme resplendence 185
7 God is the subtle essence underlying phenomenal existence 188
8 The physico-theological argument 189
II. Theological Approach
9 Regress from polytheism to monotheism 189
10 The theistic conception of God and His identification with the Self 190
11 The immanence-transcendence of God 191
III. The Psychological Approach
12 The conception of the Self reached by an analysis of the various physiological and psychological categories 192
13 The states of consciousness: waking-consciousness, dream-consciousness, sleep-consciousness, Self-consciousness 193
14 The ontological argument for the existence of the Self 197
IV. The Significance of Self-conciouseness
15 Self-consciousness: its epistemological and metaphysical significance contrasted with the mystical 197
16 The Epistemology of Self-consciousness 198
  (i) The Self is unknowable in his essential nature 198
  (ii) The Self is unknowable because he is the eternal subject o knowledge 199
  (iii) The Self can still know himself; hence Self-consciousness is not only possible, but is alone real 199
17 The Metaphysics of Self-consciousness 201
18 The Ladder of Spiritual Experience 202
  Sources V 203
1 Metaphysics, Morality, and Mysticism 211
2 Progress of the Chapter 212
I. Theories of the Moral Standard
3 Heteronomy 212
4 Theonomy 213
5 Autonomy 214
1 Metaphysics, Morality, and Mysticism 211
2 Progress of the Chapter 212
3 Heteronomy 213
II. Theories of the Moral Ideal
6 Anti-Hedonism 215
7 Pessimism 216
8 Asceticism, Satyagraha, and Quietism 216
9 Spiritual Activism 217
10 Phenomenal Activism 218
11 Eudaemonism 219
12 Beatificism 220
13 Self-realisation 221
14 The ethical and mystical sides of Self-realisation 223
15 Supermoralism 224
III. Practical Ethics
16 Virtues in the Brihadaranyaka 225
17 Virtues and Vices in the Chhandogya 226
18 The hortatory precepts in the Taittiriya 226
19 Truth, the Supreme Virtue 227
20 Freedom of the Will 229
21 The Ideal of the Sage 230
22 Sources VI 231
1 Philosophy is to Mysticism as Knowledge is to Being 39
2 The Lower Knowledge and the Higher Knowledge 239
3 Qualifications for self-realisation 241
4 Necessity of Initiation by a Spiritual Teacher 242
5 The parable of the blind-folded man 243
6 Precautions to be observed in imparting spiritual wisdom 244
7 Meditation by means of Om, the way to Realisation 244
8 The Mandukyan exaltation of Om 246
9 Practice of Yoga 246
10 Yoga doctrine in Svetasvatara 247
11 The Faculty of God-realisation 248
12 The thorough immanence of God 250
13 Types of mystical experience 251
14 The acme of mystic realisation 252
15 Reconciliation of contradictions in the Atman 253
16 Effects of realisation on the Mystic 254
16 Raptures of mystic ecstasy 256
  Sources VII 258

Sample Pages

Add a review

Your email address will not be published *

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Post a Query

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy


Related Items