Regarding the Upanishads.

Chris Wallis cw002g at MAIL.ROCHESTER.EDU
Sun Feb 6 06:04:53 UTC 2000

This is a theological, not a scholarly, opinion.  While I have the highest
respect for the late Mr Easwaran, any translation which forms a part of a
corpus of modern religious teaching will be interpretatively rendered to
conform to the doctrinal elements of that teaching.  Hence, the original
contextuality of the document is lost or altered.  Much is back-projected
onto the Upanishads from the subsequent 2500 years of thought. A very
accurate, philologically rigorous, translation (like, IMO, Olivelle's)
gives us better access to the original text for our own interpretation.
(Needless to say, reading in the Skt is by far the best option where

C. Wallis

> Regarding the meaning of the Isha Upanishad, I would go with the
> Eknath Easwaran translation, if I were you.  The Upanishads are
> not museum pieces, to be referred to linguistic and philological experts
> for precise meanings.  The Upanishads are meant to be applied to living,
> and require an illumined teacher who can add the benefit of experience.
> These are not mathematical equations, these are poetry.  Eknath Easwaran
> (passed away in 1999) is about as good as you can get via books.
> With all due respect to the scholars, you would go to learn to box
> from a boxer and not from a historian of boxing.
> The Upanishads are very much the underpinning of modern India.
> Mahatma Gandhi said, that if only certain three words were to survive
> from the Isha Upanishad from all the corpus of Hinduism, it would be
> sufficient : tena tyakten bhunjitah.
> -arun gupta

        Christopher D. Wallis
President, Religion & Classics Council
       University of Rochester
        ** Believe in love. **

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