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Opening

1. First things first. The Upanishads are ancient and more recent texts written in Sanskrit. The state there is much good to get to by learning to meditate, first and foremost, and adjust to really rewarding ways of living. The first thing to go for, had better be to learn good meditation.

2. Different text allude to the states to be had by at least some, by different words. It means you do not grasp what is described until you have such experiences yourself. It may take time.

3. Scholars study the texts, sort and describe, translate and comment on them, as the case may be.

4. And people read the translations and often fail to grasp the good things, perhaps blocked by reading - something like that:

When the Great Reality is not known the study of the scriptures is fruitless; when the Great Reality is known the study of the scriptures is also fruitless. - Adi Shankara

Hope: The Great Reality may be experienced through meditation. However, those who only read such words do not get Enlighenment by it. No matter that, there does not have to be a conflict between studying words and enriching meditations. Many find time for both in their lives. Students, for example, since meditation tends to be followed by study benefits, like better grades.

Dr Paul Deussen, a Notable Scholar

Paul Deussen (1845–1919) was a German Indologist and professor of Philosophy at the University of Kiel, and a friend of Swami Vivekananda among others.

Deussen took part in the scholarly Western discovery of Sanskrit literature. He published Das System des Vedânta (1883), Sechzig Upanishad's des Veda (1897), and Die Philosophie der Upanishad's (1898). They have been translated into English (below).

Deussen has been called an "outstanding scholar". That does not mean, however, that his Sixty Upanishads of the Veda is flawless. Here and there it may suffer from being double-translated - first from Sanskrit to German by Deussen, and then translated from German to English by two Indian gentlemen.

In the work, Deussen presents the selected Upanishads in relation to the Vedas and its ancient context as found. For persons with a deeper interest in Vedanta, Deussen's commentaries in particular may prove valuable.

Deussen's Sixty Upanishads provides texts that are not included in the more common selections of ten or twelve Upanishads. The Muktika Upanisads gives a list of 108 Upanisads. Moreover, there are about 112 Upanisads published by Nirnaya Sagar Press.

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Teachings

The face of Truth (Brahman)
is covered with a disc of gold.
Open it, Pushan, so that
we may see Truth.

- Isha Upanishad, v. 15. Also Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.15.1

A Story

Brahman once won a victory for the gods. They thought to themselves, "Ours alone is this victory, ours alone, this glory."

Brahman knew this and appeared before them. They did not recognise him and said, "Who is this wondrous being?"

In turn, Agni and Vayu and Indra were sent to him. He asked each, "Who are you?"

Agni was asked if he could burn a straw put before him. "Burn this," said the unrecognised Brahman. Agni found he could not burn it.

Vayu was next. When he went up to the stranger, he was asked, "What can you do?"

"I can blow away everything here with ease, whatever there is on earth," Vayu said, but when the straw was put before him, he could not blow it away.

Then the gods asked Indra to go and find out. But the stranger vanished before him. Where he disappeared, Indra came upon a beautiful woman and asked her, "Who is it?"

"It is Brahman," she said. "And it was really Brahman who won the victory for you."

At that moment Indra recognised Brahman.

These gods - Agni, Vayu and Indra - came closest to and first recognised that "This is Brahman."

- Kena Upanishad, 3.1-12; 4.1-2, retold.


Philosophy of Upanishads, Literature  

Deussen, Paul. 1907. Outlines of Indian Philosophy: With an Appendix on the Philosophy of the Vedanta in Its Relations to Occidental Metaphysics. Berlin: K. Curtius.

Deussen, Paul. 1912. The System of the Vedanta. Tr. Charles Johnston. Chicago, IL: The Open Court Publishing.

Deussen, Paul. 1966. The Philosophy of the Upanishads New York: Dover Publications.

Deussen, Paul. 1980. Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Part 1 and 2. Trs. V. M. Bedekar and G. B. Palsule. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

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