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Secular, Social and Ethical Values in the Upanishads (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: UAS338
Publisher: Agam Kala Prakashan, Delhi
Author: Ramanand Tiwari
Language: English
Edition: 1985
Pages: 565
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 750 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

The present volume embodying a positivistic study of the Upanishads is the outcome of the author's long-cherised desire which he had been entertaining for forty years. In this study of Upanishads the author tries to find a considerable ground for a positivistic view of the Vedanta since he had well studied the Vedanta of Shankaracharya also.

The very title of this study seeks to discover 'secular, social and ethical values in the Upanishads which are generally believed to have no significant place in the Vedanta of Upanishads. This attempt presents a view of the Upanishads which is considerably differ ent from prevalent view of Vedanta believed to be maintained by Shankaracharya.

Here the author has tried to support by evidence from the texts of the Upanishads that the world is not unreal or illusory according to the Upanishads and the secular, social and ethical values have due import ance in them. They share in the nature of reality and are sustained by it. This evi dence of the texts of the Upanishads is embodied in the chapters of this book. The evidence supports that the Upanishads ascribe due importance to secular values of food, sex, health etc; and to social relation ship alongwith ethical values like love, kind ness, reverence, celebacy etc. and according to which all values are to be integrated with the supreme reality without the support of which these values will become valueless.

About the Author

Dr. Ramanand Tiwari (b. 1919) did his M.A. (Phil.) and D.Phil. from Allahabad University and Ph.D., D.Litt. from Rajasthan University. He rendered his services to Deptt. of Education, Rajasthan and was Head, Deptt. of Philosophy, Maharani Sri Jaya College, Bharatpur.

After Dr. Tiwari, retirement in 1974, he got two works published. He has authored more than two dozen of books both published and unpublished.

Dr. Tiwari was awarded several prizes and many titles and degrees were also conferred on him by State Government and various educational institutions.


The present work embodies a positivistic study of the Upa nishads accomplished by me during three years from 1975 to 1978. under an assignment by the University Grants Commission within the scheme for utilization of services of outstanding teachers. I have made a profitable use of the leisurely employ ment which the U.G.C. afforded to me by this assignment after my retirement from the post of Professor of Philosophy, in Maharani Shree Jaya College, Bharatpur (Rajasthan). This assignment saved me from the sense of idleness and futility which usually overtakes a person after retiremnt from active service. It also encouraged me to continue my interest in philo sophical studies and ensured for me a sense of fruitful living at a time when a sense of futility of existence overtakes a person in a life hastening towards its end.

The subject chosen by me for this study afforded me an opportunity to fulfil my long-cherished desire to present a posi tivistic view of the Upanishads, which I have been entertaining for the last forty years, eversince I translated into Hindi as a student of Allahabad University The Constructive Survey of the Upanishadic Philosophy' written by my great teacher in philosophy, Professor R. D. Ranade. That Hindi translation has lately been published by Rajasthan Hindi Granth Academy, Jaipur in 1971.

I have been studying the Upanishads casually but keenly during these forty years. My doctoral thesis on "The Ethics of Shankaracharya" provided me with a reason for a closer study. of Upanishads alongwith the commentaries of Shankaracharya on them. I have tried to understand and interpret the Vedanta of Shankaracharya also, in my doctoral thesis, in a more positive manner than it is usually done by his followers and his interpreters. I have tried to find a considerable ground for such a posi tive view of the Vedanta in the present study of the Upanishads.

The very title of the present study indicates a positive incli nation towards the interpretation of the Upanishads. It seeks to discover 'secular, social and ethical values in the Upanishads' which are generally believed to have no significant place in the Vedanta of Upanishads. If there is any mention of these values in the Upanishads, it is understood to be of no ultimate signifi cance as these values are only regarded as a provisional conces ston to the ignorant and have no final importance in the Vedan tic view of reality. According to this view Brahman is the ulti mate reality and it is said to be 'one without second' so as to leave no place of importance for values that belong to the world of duality and diversity. The Upanishadic view of life is under stood to be ascetic and monistic. The secular and social values have no importance in such a view. The ethical values also are inconsistent with the nature of reality as they are temporal, dyna mic and dualistic. Time and activity signify movement, change and mutation, Hence they have no place in Brahman which is immutable. The temporal and dynamic have no real relation with the eternal and immutable.

The present study of the Upanishads is rather unconven tions! in so far as it presents a view of the Upanishads which is considerably different from prevalent view of Vedanta believed to be maintained by Shankaracharya and his followers, and after them by scholars of the Vedanta in India and the West. All these persons believe that the Upanishads propound a strict monism and ascetism in which there is little room for a genuine value of secular objects, social relations and ethical virtues. They are understood to contain the germs of the theory of maya according to which the world is an illusory creation which disappears in the dazzling light of spiritual realization and is of no ultimate importance. Individuality is an illusion which is dissolved in the deluge of spiritual enlightenment even as rivers lose their iden tity in the ocean.


The Upanishads are the earliest philosophical works of India. They are the concluding portions of the Vedas and are therefore called the Vedanta ie. the end of the Vedas. The Vedas are the earliest documents of Indian mind and are also regarded as the most ancient records of mankind. The Vedas are collections of hymns which the ancient Indians used to sing in praise of gods. These gods were mostly personifications of natural powers and natural objects. Thus the Vedas are poetical and musical in form, and religious in spirit. Numerous philoso phical ideas are found to be mingled with the religio-emotional rhapsodies of the Vedic hymns. These hymns used to be sung at the occasion of the fire-sacrifices which constituted the mode of the Vedic religion. Rhapsodies and rituals made the Vedic religion a cultural festival the spirit of which pervades the living culture of India upto the present day. Marriage and other socio-cultural ceremonies are performed even today on the pattern of ancient fire-sacrifices accompanied with the chanting of Vedic hymns.

The prose works of Brahmanas and Aranyakas, which followed upon the collections of Vedic hymns, are largely devoted to reflections about the methodology and motive of Vedic rituals. Occasional glimpses of philosophical ideas are not rare in them. The philosophical tendencies, which are traceable in the Vedic hymns, the Brahmanas and the Aranyakas, find their culmination in the Upanishads. Traces of Vedic ritualism continue par ticularly in the larger Upanishads like the Chhandogya and the Brihadaranyaka, but the general and dominant trend of the Upanishads is evidently philosophical. The Upanishads also are largely poetical, but they are more reflective and contemplative in content than emotional or religious. They are finest examples of philosophical poetry, simple, transparent, penetrating, reveal ing. Spiritual revelation takes the place of religio-emotional rhapsodies in the Upanishad. The cosmological contemplation of the Vedic hymns also continues in the Upanishads, but the interrogative astonishment of the Vedic hymns ends in a spiri tual theory of Cosmology in the Upanishads. They discover the spiritual foundation of the universe. With this discovery the spiritual reality becomes the main occupation of Upanishadic thinking.

This spiritual reality is taken by the Upanishadic sages as the essence and the end of life. The discovery of the spiritual truth of life is the greatest miracle of human thought. Nowhere else human contemplation reached so close to it and consequent ly no other people sought it so keenly in life. The Upanishadic sages themselves were astonished at their discovery of this spi ritual truth of life and regarded both its discovery and realiza tion as a great miracle. It constituted for them the highest knowledge. As gospels of this highest knowledge the Upanishads can be regarded as the end of the Vedas' in the axiological sense also. Vedas mean and are the treasury of ancient know ledge (Veda to know) and the Upanishads mark the culmina- tion of it. It is a veritable miracle of Indian genius that the spiritual knowledge which has not been reached even as the end of the collective human thinking of the world marked the end of Vedic knwledge and the beginning of philosophic reflec tion in India, which is embodied in the Upanishads.

The spiritual reality called Brahman is the main

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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