The origins of the Upanishads, sacred writings of Hinduism, predate recorded history. They are thought of by many as perhaps the greatest of all the books in the history of world religions. Since they were revealed to the Rishis of the Vedic civilisation some 5,000 to 10,000 years ago, many have come to regard them as the kernel of the mystical and philosophical truths that are the basis of understanding religion today. Alan Jacobs has used free modern verse to convey the essential meaning and poetry of the original text, omitting Sanskrit words as much as possible and providing a clear, contemporary commentary.
'Upanishads breathe throughout the sacred spirit of the Vedas!' wrote Arthur Schopenhauer, 'How every line is full of sure, definite and harmonizing significance! How out of every page confront us deep, original, elevated thoughts, while a higher and highly sacred earnestness vibrates through the whole!'
Alan Jacobs has produced yet another literary masterpiece in his transcreation of the 'Principal Upanishads', which together with his 'Bhagavad Gita', aim to convey the nondualist teaching (Advaita Vedanta) of the ancient Indian scriptures as well as explore the author's own poetic expression.
There are over 200 Upanishads or 'secret teachings' in existence however 12 of them have become universally acknowledged as the primary vehicles of the Divine revelation leading to Self-Realisation. And the 'Isa Upanishad' is traditionally placed at the beginning of the sequence, setting the tone and establishing the essential Truth that ultimately everything is as is should be:
All is perfect, so perfectly perfect!
Whatever being lives, moves
And breathes on Earth
At every level from atom
To galaxy is absolutely perfect in its place
Precise and choreographed,
Because 'That' flows from the Glory of God,
Consciousness . . .
Each Upanishad is supplemented with the author's own commentary, drawing on nondualist cross references to other writers and beliefs - Homer and Plato, Aurobindo and Schopenhauer, the teachings of Jesus and Ramana Maharshi.
The message of Advaita Vedanta has been gently flourishing in the West - Alan Jacob's 'Principal Upanishads' will only serve to illuminate further this blessed Truth:
That all there is is 'That',
The I am-ness
Of consciousness, Reality, Love,
I am 'That'
'That' all there is is Brahman, God.
Sat, Chit, Ananda.