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The Upanishads Part 1

F. Max Muller


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Tags: Religion

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Description

This is the first volume of the Sacred Books of the East series - a fifty volume set of English translations of Asian religious texts, that were prepared under the direction of Friedrich Max Müller. This first volume contains the introduction to the entire series, and explains the methodology and conventions used in the rest of the Sacred Books of the East.

The Upanishads are late Vedic Sanskrit texts which form the basis of Hindu religious teaching.

Chapters include: Introduction to the Upanishads (First Translation of the Upanishads; Rammohun Roy; Position of the; Upanishads in Vedic Literature; Different Classes of Upanishads; Critical Treatment of the Text of the Upanishads; Meaning of the Word Upanishad; Works on the Upanishads; The Khândogya-Upanishad; The Talavakâra-Upanishad; The Aitareya-Âranyaka; The Kaushîtaki-Brâhmana-Upanishad; The Vâgasaneyi-Samhitâ-Upanishad); Khândogya Upanishad; Talavakâra or Kena-Upanishad; Aitareya-Âranyaka; Kaushîtaki-Upanishad; and, Vâgasaneyi-Samhitâ-Upanishad, sometimes called Îsâvâsya or Îsâ-Upanishad.

This book has 239 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1879.

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Excerpt from 'The Upanishads Part 1'

THE ancient Vedic literature, the foundation of the whole literature of India, which has been handed down in that country in an unbroken succession from the earliest times within the recollection of man to the present day, became known for the first time beyond the frontiers of India through the Upanishads. The Upanishads were translated from Sanskrit into Persian by, or, it may be, for Dârâ Shukoh, the eldest son of Shâh Jehân, an enlightened prince, who openly professed the liberal religious tenets of the great Emperor Akbar, and even wrote a book intended to reconcile the religious doctrines of Hindus and Mohammedans. He seems first to have heard of the Upanishads during his stay in Kashmir in 1640. He afterwards invited several Pandits from Benares to Delhi, who were to assist him in the work of translation. The translation was finished in 1657. Three years after the accomplishment of this work, in 1659, the prince was put to death by his brother Aurangzib , in reality, no doubt, because he was the eldest son and legitimate successor of Shâh Jehân, but under the pretext that he was an infidel, and dangerous to the established religion of the empire.

When the Upanishads had once been translated from Sanskrit into Persian, at that time the most widely read language of the East and understood likewise by many European scholars, they became generally accessible to all who took an interest in the religious literature of India. It is true that under Akbar's reign (1556-1586) similar translations had been prepared , but neither those nor the translations of Dârâ Shukoh attracted the attention of European scholars till the year 1775. In that year Anquetil Duperron, the famous traveller and discoverer of the Zend-avesta, received one MS. of the Persian translation of the Upanishads, sent to him by M. Gentil, the French resident at the court of Shuja ud daula, and brought to France by M. Bernier. After receiving another MS., Anquetil Duperron collated the two, and translated the Persian translation   into French (not published), and into Latin. That Latin translation was published in 1801 and 1802, under the title of 'Oupnek'hat, id est, Secretum tegendum: opus ipsa in India rarissimum, continens antiquam et arcanam, seu theologicam et philosophicam doctrinam, e quatuor sacris Indorum libris Rak baid, Djedjer baid, Sam baid, Athrban baid excerptam; ad verbum, e Persico idiomate, Samkreticis vocabulis intermixto, in Latinum conversum: Dissertationibus et Annotationibus difficiliora explanantibus, illustratum: studio et opera Anquetil Duperron, Indicopleustæ. Argentorati, typis et impensis fratrum Levrault, vol. i, 1801; vol. ii, 1802 .'

This translation, though it attracted considerable interest among scholars, was written in so utterly unintelligible a style, that it required the lynxlike perspicacity of an intrepid philosopher, such as Schopenhauer, to discover a thread through such a labyrinth. Schopenhauer, however, not only found and followed such a thread, but he had the courage to proclaim to an incredulous age the vast treasures of thought which were lying buried beneath that fearful jargon.

As Anquetil Duperron's volumes have become scarce, I shall here give a short specimen of his translation, which corresponds to the first sentences of my translation of theKhândogya-upanishad (p. 1):--'Oum hoc verbum (esse) adkit ut sciveris, sic τὸ maschghouli fac (de co meditare), quod ipsum hoc verbum aodkit est; propter illud quod hoc (verbum) oum, in Sam Beid, cum voce altâ, cum harmoniâ pronunciatum fiat.

'Adkiteh porro cremor (optimum, selectissimum) est: quemadmodum ex (præ) omni quieto (non moto), et moto, pulvis (terra) cremor (optimum) est; et e (præ) terra aqua cremor est; et ex aqua, comedendum (victus) cremor est; (et) e comedendo, comedens cremor est; et e comedente, loquela (id quod dicitur) cremor est; et e loquela, aïet τοῦ Beid, et ex aïet, τὸ siam, id est, cum harmonia (pronunciatum); et e Sam, τὸ adkit, cremor est; id est, oum, voce alta, cum harmonia pronunciare, aokit, cremor cremorum (optimum optimorum) est. Major, ex (præ) adkit, cremor alter non est.'

Schopenhauer not only read this translation carefully, but he makes no secret of it, that his own philosophy is powerfully impregnated by the fundamental doctrines of the Upanishads. He dwells on it again and again, and it seems both fair to Schopenhauer's memory and highly important for a true appreciation of the philosophical value of the Upanishads, to put together what that vigorous thinker has written on those ancient rhapsodies of truth.

In his 'Welt als Wille und Vorstellung,' he writes, in the preface to the first edition, p. xiii:

'If the reader has also received the benefit of the Vedas, the access to which by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest privilege which this still young century (1818) may claim before all previous centuries, (for I anticipate that the influence of Sanskrit literature will not be less profound than the revival of Greek in the fourteenth century,)--if then the reader, I say, has received his initiation in primeval Indian wisdom, and received it with an open heart, he will be prepared in the very best way for hearing what I have to tell him. It will not sound to him strange, as to many others, much less disagreeable; for I might, if it did not sound conceited, contend that every one of the detached statements which constitute the Upanishads, may be deduced as a necessary result from the fundamental thoughts which I have to enunciate, though those deductions themselves are by no means to be found there.'

Production notes: This edition of The Upanishads Part 1 was published by Global Grey ebooks on the 27th October 2018, and updated on the 19th April 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'Srimad Guru Adi Shankaracharya' by Raja Ravi Varma.

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