Product Description

Summary of the book by the translator, Charles Johnston: The great divisions of this book, after a long and valuable Introduction, are: 1. Theology, or the Doctrine of Brahman, the Eternal; 2. Cosmology, or the doctrine of the World; 3. Psychology, or the Doctrine of the Soul; 4. Sansara, or the Doctrine of the Transmigration of the Soul; and 5. Moksha, or the Teaching of Liberation. We may consider the material of the Vedanta as consisting of four elements. First, the Upanishads, and especially the ten greater and older Upanishads, which go back far into India’s past, and which have come down to us associated with the four collections of Vedic hymns. … The second element of the Vedanta store is the Bhagavad Gita, to which, perhaps, certain other texts in the Mahabharata may be added, such as the Anugita. The Bhagavad Gita gives a warm, personal coloring to the older wisdom, by putting it into the form of a dialogue between the divine teacher, Krishna, and his pupil, Arjuna. … The third element of the Vedanta is the book of almost cryptic sentences known as the Vedanta Sutras, and attributed by tradition to the sage Badarayana. It is soaked through and through with the spirit of the Upanishads. … [The fourth are the commentaries and teachings of] the great and luminous sage, Shankaracharya, one of the loftiest and clearest souls humanity has ever produced, a true master of masters. Shankaracharya commented on the Upanishads, at least on the ten greatest of them, and on the Bhagavad Gita, and then a commentary on the Sutras as the crown and end of his work. He had also written short original works, in verse or prose, such as the Crest Jewel of Wisdom, the Awakening to the Self, the Discernment between Self and Not-Self, and several more. So at last, after having gathered together and illuminated the whole body of older wisdom, on which the Sutras rest, Shankaracharya turned to these, and wrote a continuous commentary on them, which is, one may believe, the high water mark of pure intellectual thought, the most perfect piece of reasoning, illumined by high intuition and vision, that the world has ever seen. It is hardly too much to say that the Commentary makes the Sutras; that, without the Commentary, the Sutras would be dull and inert. Indeed, we cannot think of the Sutras without the Commentary; they are but the pegs on which Shankaracharya has hung his luminous disquisitions. Now for Professor Deussen’s part. He first made himself thoroughly familiar with the Upanishads, in the original, be it understood, for Dr. Deussen is a fine Sanskrit scholar; then he went on to the Sutras, with the Commentary, and with wonderful skill, patience, knowledge and philosophic depth, penetrated to the innermost meaning of both, at the same time analyzing and arranging the material of the Commentary, tabulating, looking up and verifying quotations, counting words almost, with marvelous fidelity, scholarly honesty, and exemplary intelligence. Later, he published a continuous translation of the Sutras with the Commentary, but in the present book he does what is, in reality, a much harder thing: he takes the material of the Commentary, and to some extent re-arranges it, in such a form as to make it more intelligible and acceptable to our Western minds; he gives literal and most faithful translations of the most vital passages; he adds much illuminating comment of his own, comparing the Indian ideas with those of the West, from the time of Plato to our own day; and finally, he inserts the great Upanishad passages on which the whole system rests, making his own translations, which are as eloquent as they are faithful. This is a cleanly scanned facsimile reproduction of the original publication. All pages have been reviewed and cleaned, and are intact and readable. Minor imperfections may exist from the original scan, but should not impede readability. No pages are missing in this reproduction.