Brihadaranyaka -The Great Upanishad, Understanding Brahman And The Ultimate Reality

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About the author: Kadambari Kaul was born into a family of lawyers, scholars, theosophists and educationists. She grew up in an environment where she was exposed to stimulating conversation and literature and the windows of the mind opened to a much wider world. She began seeking answers about the true meaning of existence; why things are the way they are and not how they should be.She began expressing her thoughts in poetry. Kadambari learnt early in life that moments of suffering are in truth moments of Grace, as she turned towards the ancient wisdom of the scriptures for guidance. A Sociology Honours graduate from Elphinstone College, Bombay,Kadambari Kaul is the author of ‘Gautama Buddha – A Noble life,’ published in 2003, followed by ‘Verses from the Dhammapada,’ published in 2007. Both the aforementioned books received positive reviews in the national press, with the latter now included in the library collections of the Heidelberg University, Germany and the National Taiwan University. Verses from the Dhammapada was also selected by the reviewers of Karuna Bodhisattva Order for originality. In 2010, at the recommendation of Sahitya Academy, Kadambari’s poem ‘ Peace’ was published in Literary Paritantra, an international journal published by Dayalbagh University, Agra. Kadambari’s latest book the ‘Brihadaarnayaka – the Great Upanishad – Understanding Brahman and the Ultimate Reality’ published by Leadstart Publishing under their Celestial Books Imprint, is the outcome of several years of intensive research. Writing the numerous poems and commentaries has been a kind of meditative excercise for her. It is Kadambari’s earnest endeavour to show people through this ancient Upanishad, that while living in this world characterized by the suffering of change, it is possible to work towards higher degrees of spiritual happiness, and ulitmately liberation and immortal life.

Blurb: Lead me from the unreal to real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality: these three profound prayers emerge from the distilled soul of eternal India. They are the quintessence of the Brihadaranyaka (Great Forest Text), that ranks amongst the oldest of the esoteric revelations which constitute the Upanishadic corpus. This pristine work of intuitive wisdom, having at its core the wondrous insight of Yajnavalkya, its pioneer-sage, offers a veritable roadmap, guiding worthy seekers of knowledge on a course of spiritual ascendance and ultimate liberation – with faith, logic and contemplation, as the pilgrims’ wherewithal. Strewn along the path of this great journey of self-discovery, are answers to mankind’s eternal questions on creation, the meaning of existence, karma, transmigration, and finally, attainment of oneness with Brahman – the Ultimate Reality.  Apart from Ethics, Psychology and Metaphysics are other high grounds bridged by the Brihadaranyaka. Its in-depth examination of the sense organs and objects; of the propensity of the mind to act on the ‘pleasure principle’; and its incisive analysis of the states of dream and deep sleep; all constitute powerful testimony to the profound psychological insights of the Upanishadic Hrshi. But it is the enunciation of the Vedantic metaphysics of non-dualism, based on neti neti (negation of all empirical reality), that constitutes the deepest philosophical message of this Great Upanishad. This volume presents an innovative transcreation of the Brihadaranyaka in simple, free-flowing verse, supported by an eclectic array of elucidations and commentaries gleaned from the works of many master interpreters.  It beckons the modern truth-seeker towards the liberating experience of exploring this font of ancient wisdom (prajnaa puraanee), anew.

Introduction: The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is one of the oldest Upanishads which is contained within the Shatapatha Brahmana, a part of the Shukla Yajur Veda. It is believed that the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad was composed in 700 BCE. A key scripture to various schools of Hinduism, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is tenth in the canon of 108 Upanishads. It is a treatise on Ātman (Soul, Self), includes passages on metaphysics, ethics and yearning for knowledge that influenced various Indian religions, ancient and medieval scholars, and attracted secondary works written by Madhavacharya and Adi Shankara. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad means “great wilderness or forest Upaniṣhad”. It is credited to ancient sage Yajnavalkya. The Upanishad forms the fourteenth kanda of Satapatha Brahmana. The three sections of the Upanishad are:

  1. Madhu Kanda (the 4th and 5th chapter of the fourteenth kanda of Satapatha Brahmana),
  2. Muni Kanda (or Yajnavalkya Kanda, the 6th and 7th chapter of fourteenth kanda of Satapatha Brahmana)
  3. Khila Kanda (the 8th and 9th chapter of the fourteenth kanda of Satapatha Brahmana).

The first and second chapters of the Upanishad’s Madhu Kanda consists of six brahmanams each, with varying number of hymns per brahmanam. The first chapter of the Upanishad’s Yajnavalkya Kanda consists of nine brahmanams, while the second has six brahmanams. The Khila Kanda has fifteen brahmanams in its first chapter, and five brahmanams in the second chapter.

असतो मा सद्गमय । तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।

मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय । ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

– बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद् 1.3.28

Review: Brihadaranyaka, The Great Upanishad written by Kadambari Kaul can be well thought-out as a great direct to people who have a desire to accomplish their purposes in life, with a tranquil mind, bearing out to the logical advantage of the astute. The book has been written in prose manner, with verses and has six chapters that avow the supreme individuality of Atman and Brahman which is complete and has untainted perception. A great appreciation towards how the author has written and handled the book with poetic language which teaches the reader(s) to follow their minds which would show them the way to be off from the Atman and the senses, worlds, gods, as discover the spiritualist name of the Atma. The book addresses to everyone to the inspiring truth of the realism through thoughts by listening to the highest truth that relates to the origin and destiny of man, who can endure a range of events of life and base of the universe. I found this book to be very optimistic which has been proposed on a close communication between the micro and the macrocosm, based on vedic ideology where everyone receives something from Brahman (the Priest) considered to be the complete epithet of this energy. The whole world is nil except the atman which is permanent and everlasting. For me this book is a treasure of technical and metaphysical ageless wisdom which focuses on the recuperation of cosmic reality and talks about its great value. The path of the ancient spiritual science has been clearly explained in understandable language by the author from fundamental ethical principles, self-discipline, observances, and to the secrets of the universe. I highly suggest the book “Brihadaranyaka -The Great Upanishad, Understanding Brahman And The Ultimate Reality”  to everyone to gain real spiritual knowledge and familiarity of unity with the supreme.

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