The book may be described as the gateway to the rich world of Upanishadic wisdom. For a beginner it is an entry point. It gives a foretaste of the great spiritual feast, the Upanishads offer to the seekers especially to the aspirant and the beginner. It is only appropriate and most appreciable that Satish Chowkulkar has opened the gateway to the Upanishadic world of wisdom through this commendable work.
Sri Satish Shamrao Chowkulkar is a jeevan - Vrati of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari since 1990. Prior to joining Vivekananda Kendra, he worked for many years as an officer with the State Bank of Hyderabad, Hyderabad.
Sri Satishji (as he is popularly known) has been a voracious reader and has contributed articles and poems to many publications in the past. He had opportunity to study the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita at the lotus feet of Swami Ranganathananda, when Swamiji was President of Ramakrishna Math Hyderabad.
Besides this book-Upanishad-Kasturi, He has authored two more books-Yoga Shastra of Bhagavad Gita and Meditation-Concept and process.
Sri Satishji continues to share his Knowledge and perception on the aforesaid subjects through his writings and lectures conducted at Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari and its other centres, which are well-received.
Swami Vivekananda’s emphasis on the study of the Upanishads prompted me to sit at the feet of Swami Ranganathananda, the late President of Sri Ramakrishna Math, and study the Upanishads. Subsequently, the lectures and the literature of Swami Chinmayananda of Chinmaya Mission, Swami Dayananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Late Swami Varadananda Bharati of Sri Radha Damodar Pratisthhan, Nanded, Maharashtra (Purvasrama name : Sri Anant Damodar Athavale ), have nurtured my understanding of the Upanishads. However, I admit my limitations while presenting this work –Upanishads –Kasturi. Although there are a number of books and commentaries on the subject, this venture has been prompted by demands from many participants of the Spiritual Retreats at Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari, before whom the subject “Message of the Upanishads” is being presented year after year. Therefore, the need of a compact book through which the beginners will get a broad idea about the message of the ten major Upanishads- Dashopanishad—was felt. Though it is a minuscule work, like Kasturi, i.e. the musk, the fragrance of the Upanishads will be felt.
I am immensely indebted to Shri K. P. Shivakumarji former editor of our magazines – Yuva Bharati and Vivekananda Kendra Patrika. He has gone through manuscript and provided his editing skills and enriched the contents.
Late Sri Gopalakrishnan, senior full time worker of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari gave his guidance when the book was in the process, just few days before his passing away in December2010. I will always cherish his wholehearted help and encouragement.
Mananeeya Parameshwaranji, President of Vivekananda Kendra gave his foreword for this book. His guidance and encouragement has enriched this effort. I shall always be grateful to him.
This book, Upanishad – kasturi, is aimed at igniting the quest in the hearts of the beginners, which will prompt them to go to the original source and study the Upanishads in detail with the guidance of more competent masters and spiritually enrich their personal, social and national life.
Upanishads constitute the high water mark of Bharat’s Vedantic Wisdom. They, along with the Brahmasutra and the Bhagavad Gita constitute what is known as the Prasthanatraya. The founder of any authentic school of Indian Philosophy acquires acceptance only if and when he writes a masterly commentaries on these three. They are indeed the foundation stone of Indian philosophical structure.
Satish Chowkulkar, a senior and scholarly worker of Vivekananda Kendra has now attempted to bring out a book on Upanishads. The author does not claim that the book is either a commentary on Upanishads or an in-depth study. The book may be described as the gateway to the rich world of Upanishads wisdom. For a beginner it is an entry point. It gives a foretaste of the great spiritual feast, the Upanishads offer to the seekers especially to the aspirant and the beginner.
Satishji had already authored a book on the Bhagavad Gita. It is only natural that he has now gone a step ahead by attempting a study on the Upanishads, Upanishad – Kasturi. Bhagavad Gita is well known as the quintessential wisdom of the vast Upanishadic literature. Upanishads are compared to the cow and the Bhagawad Gita as the nourishing milk the cow yields. The world of Upanishads is so vast and varied, bristling with a number of symbolisms, technicalities, archaic language and mystical metaphors which are difficult for the modern mind to easily comprehend. That is why Bhagavan Vyasa has graciously presented the world with a relatively simple, straight forward, intelligible and suitably condensed version in the form of Bhagavad Gita which is the greatest philosophical treatise in the world. Its fascination is all the more because it is in poetic diction. It is called ‘The song celestial’ by Edwin Arnold. It is only appropriate and most appreciable that satish Chowkulkar has opened the gateway to the upanishadic world of wisdom through this commendable work. Like his work on Bhagavad Gita, this is also meant primarily for the workers and well wishers of Vivekananda Kendra.
There is no doubt that this will be a good guide for them to enter into this vast world of eternal wisdom. I hope and pray that this effort will be rewarded with success and also motivate the author to contribute his laudable efforts further.
Swami Vivekananda went to America in 1893 and he had to pass through a great ordeal before he could stand before the World Parliament of Religious at Chicago on September 11, 1893. He was given only a few minutes for his address. He conquered the world in those few minutes. He became popular and had to be there, in America and Europe, for more than three years. He told them that he did not speak anything new by himself. It was his Master’s teachings that he had projected. He further added that his Master, Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings were nothing but the spiritual heritage of Bharat, namely, the Vedas, the Upanishads and Yoga, which he preached and taught by living those Truths. He also spoke about his Master – Sri Thakur – and his message of living Practical Vedanta.
He returned to Bharat in January 1897 and gave a serious of lectures, which have been collected and published as “Lectures from Colombo to Almora” by Sri Ramakrishna Math. The central theme of his message was that we have to rebuild our nation on spiritual foundation, as enunciated in the Upanishads and the yoga Shastra taught in the Bhagavad Gita. In fact, he went to the west so as to be able to address the youth in Bharat who were looking towards the West for everything. This was the suggestion given by a youth of Madras after his meditation on the Sripad Shila at Kanyakumari. Swamiji had seen the whole of Bharat as a wandering Monk for 3 ½ years before reaching kanyakumari on 24/25 December 1892. What he had seen, he reviewed during his 3 days’ meditation on the Sripada Shila. He traced the reason for the downfall of Bharat from the pinnacle of glory to the centuries of slavery. He found that it was because we had deviated from our spiritual heritage. It became the mission of his life to rebuild Bharat on spiritual lines. In his own words – “Sitting on that last bit of the Indian rock I hit upon a plan”. As a part of unrolling that plan, he insisted on all of us to go back to the Upanishads and to assimilate the message of Sri Krishna of His Yoga Shastra in Bhagavad Gita. Quite a few competent persons took up this message and therefore the message of the Upanishads and Yoga Shastra of the Bhagavad Gita is available to us, along with Shankar Bhashya ably translated into most of our languages.
One, particularly a modern youth, may therefore be curious to know what these Upanishads are, what is their source, how can we study them and how our lives – particularly the well being of our social and national life are related to them. Let us try to know these things in a nutshell.
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