Sankara's Interpretation of The Upanisads
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Sankara's Interpretation of The Upanisads

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Item Code: NAX714
Author: G. R. Pandey
Publisher: Sharada Sanskrit Sansthan, Varanasi
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9788193580134
Pages: 191
Cover: PAPERBACK
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 220 gm
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Preface

This book represents a slightly revised version of my doctoral thesis which was the result of my studies as a teacher fellow at the Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, University of Poona. I am under deep obligation to the authorities of the University Grants Comission and M.L.K. College, Balrampur, Gonda for sponsoring the Fellowship.

In carrying out my research, I received help and cooperation from many persons. I consider it my duty to acknowledge my gratitude to all of them. I am particuiarly grateful to Dr. M.D. Pandit under whose guidance I had the privilege to work. I am under deep obligation to Professor S.D. Joshi, Ex Director of the C.A.S.S. and Head of the Department of Sankrit, Univeristy of Poona for taking keen interest in my work. His single-minded devotion to oriental learning and research had been a constant source of inspiration to me. Dr. S. M. Shaha placed at my disposal much of his valuable time and research-experience. I was immensely benefitted by his deep learning and insight in philosophy. I record my deep sense of gratitude to him. Dr. Shiv Kumar helped me throughout by his valuable suggestions. I shall remain grateful to him. I am also gratful to late Prof. T. G. Mainkar for his valuable suggestions and to late Pt. K. A. Sivaramakrishna Sastri for enlightening me on some important problems.

I am also thankful to my fellow Teacher Fellows particularly to Shri R. J. Deoskar, Shri T. Sarmah, Shri S. P. Srivatsa and Shri K. R. Tripathi who were always helpful to me in one way or the other.

I am indebted to Shri D. B.k Polkam, Sub-editor in Sanskrit dictionary Project at Deccan College, Shri N.P. Joshi and Dr. A. D. Batra and to my Colleagues Dr. U.S. Shukla, and Dr. M. R. Dwivedi for their cooperation and help.

The Librarian and the staff of the Jayakar Library helped me by lending referece books and journals whenever required. Dr. R. P. Goswami and his staff at the C, A. S. S. Library procured books and journals for me and rendered invaluable co-operation in various ways. I am thankful to all of them.

I shall be failing in my duty if I don't record my deepest sense of gratitude to Prof. A. N. Pandey whose words of inspiration have been a great source of stength to me in the moments of despair. He has added to the value of the thesis by writing a learned foreword. My friend and colleague, Dr. P. N. Dwivedi has rendered valuable help in innumerable ways. I have no words to acknowledge my gratefulness to him. I am also grateful to my friend Dr. L. P. Mishra for his valuable co-operation. Shri R. N. Dwivedi has kindly arranged for the publication of this work. I am deeply obliged to him. M/s Shivam Printers, Varanasi have brought this edition in an attractive form. They deserve special thanks from me. Finally my heartiest thanks are due to Shri S. N. Mishra, the publisher of this work for his deep involvement in bringing it out in the shortest possible time.

 

Introduction

The Upanisads are the earliest landmarks in the history of Indian philosophical thinking. They have left their impact on the entire range of subsequent spiritual speculation in India. Almost all the schools of Indian philosophy are concerned with and about them in one way or the other. However the exact import of their teachings has been a matter of controversy from the very beginning. Among the various attempts of interpreting and systematizing them, Sankara's is perhaps the most controversial to the extent of being called quite illegitimate. Therefore it becomes pertinent to study how far it is authentic and useful as a guide to Upanisadic thinking.The present study is an attempt in this direction. It undertakes a critical and comprehensive study of Sankara's interpretation of the Upanisadic philosophy.

Though t Sankara has discussed elaborately the philosophy of the Upanisads in his bhasya on the BS, we have deliberately chosen his bhasyas on the Upanisads only for the purpose of our study. In this we have been prompted by the fact that the texts of the Upanisads in their original setting provide a better context for the interpretation of their philosophy and a critical estimate of that interpretation too. On the contrary, the style of the BS is so cryptic and the sutras are so short that the task of their interpretation itself is a problem.

The inportance of this study lies in the fact that apart from examining the legitimacy of Sankara's interpretation of the Upanisadic philosophy, it also reconstructs his philosophy mainly on the basis of his Upanisadbhasyas whose richness of content is well recognized by scholars like M. Hiriyanna and N. K. Devaraja. These bhasyas, according to these scholors, are of immense value for an understanding of Sankara's philosophy. They supplement in many ways the philosophical material available in his bhasya on the BS and thus they are indispensable for a thorough grasp of the subtle points in his philosophy.

However, it is felt that these Upanisadbhasyas have not been fully exploited for understanding and evaluating Sankara's philosophy. Nor has there been made any attempt to make an estimate of them as a guide to Upanisadic philosophy. Estimates of Sankara as an interpreter of the Upanisads may be met with in the standard works on the history of Sankrit literature and Indian philosophy but they are either cursorily made or lacking in a thorough treatment. They do not preclude the necessity of making a comprehensive study of these bhasyas. Similar is the case with the independent studies carried by the scholars on the philosophy of Sankara. Most of them either do not appear to have paid due attention to the Upnisadbhasyas or they uncritically accept every bhasya attributed to Sankara as his genuine work. This phenomenon explains the necessity and justification of the present study.

Out of the sixteen Upanisadbhasyas attributed to Sankara, we have drawn upon nine only which have been generally acnowledged as authentic works of the Acarya. These are-

1. Isopanisadbhasya ( IB )

2. Kenopanisad ( pada ) bhasya ( KeB )

3. Kathopanisadbhasya ( KB )

4. Aitareyopanisadbhasya ( AB )

5. Taittiriyopanisadbhasya ( TB )

6. Prasnopanisadbhasya ( PB )

7. Mundakopanisadbhasya ( MB )

8. Chandogyopanisadbhava ( CB )

9. Brhadaranyakopanisadbhasya ( BB )

The Kenopanisad (vakya ) bhasya and the bhasya on the Mandukyopanisad ( and the Gaudapadakarika ) though attributed to Sankara, have been regarded as doubtful as regards their authenticity. We have, therefore, excluded them from the purview of our study. The bhasyas on six other Upanisads, viz., the Svetasvatara, Nrsimha ( Purva ) tapaniya, Kausitaki, Maitrrayaniya, Kaivalya and ( Maha ) Narayana which have been pronounced as spurious by the scholars are not touched upon by us. We have drawn upon Sankara's bhasya on the BS also for clarification and confirmaion of our views about a‘Sankara's philosophy. However, we have not deemed it necessary to refer to his minor works and the bhasya on the BG which is generally atributed to him.

We would like to make it clear at the very outset that we have not undertaken a comprehensive treatment of the complete literal explanation of each and every passage of the Uapanisads. We have chosen to focus our attention upon only those portions of Sankara’s Upanisad-bhasyas which contain some statements or discussions of philosophic value.

We have approached the subject of present study in its three aspects, namely the method, content and plausibility of Sankara's interpretation of the Upanisads. As a preliminary to the first aspect, i.e., the method of Sankara's interpretation , we have also attempted to bring out his attitude to the Upanisads, for we feel that it is his attitude, more than anything else, towards these texts that has led him to find a system in them to interpret them in a particular line.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

 











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