Life In the Upanishads
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Life In The Upanishads
by Dr. Shubhra Sharma
The Upanishads have long fascinated Indian and foreign thinkers alike. The rich abundance of thought, the profound knowledge of Truth and life, the mystical pronouncements about the a Individual and World Soul have inspired many writers and philosophers. But it was almost invariably the philosophical aspect of the Upanishads which attracted attention. The cultural aspect was lumped together with that of the preceding and succeeding eras. That the Upanishads were composed apart from the early Vedic literature and showed both continuation of and departure from its customs and practices was ignored altogether.
The present work is invaluable as a socio-cultural study of the Upanishads providing a deep insight into the land, the political and social institutions, the economy, religious ideas and philosophical urges of the people. It is based entirely on the older upanishads: Aitareya, Brhadaranyaka, Chandogya, Isa, Katha, Kaushitaki, Kena, Maitrayani, Mandukya, Mundaka, Prasna, Svetasvetara and Taittiriya. In this work the Upanishadic spirit is represendted by thinkers like Satyakama jabala who did not waver from truth about his doubtful parentage, maitreyi who did not covet material wealth, janaka, Ajatasatru and Asvapati devted to the cause of learning, Gargi Vacaknavi daring to question the mighty sage Yajnavalkya and Uddalaka Aruni ever on the move in quest of Truth.
About The Author:
Dr (Mrs) Shubhra Sharma (Malaviya), born to literary parents and brought up on the books of scholars like Rahul Sankrityayan, R.D. Bannerji and J.L. Nehru, had a natural leaning towards literature and history. She topped in the Intermediate (Arts) examination of the U.P. Board and did it again in B.a. examination of the Banaras Hindu University, winning 3 gold medals. She took her M.A. in Ancient Indian History and Archaeology from the B.H.U. securing highest marks. Sahitya Shastri Pt. I from the Varanaseya Sanskrit Viswavidyalaya gave her added incentive to study the Upanishads on their original Sanskrit form. She was awarded Ph.D. for the present work in 1980 by the B.H.U.
She has served her alma mater as an Honorary Assistant to the Director, Bharat Kala Bhawan and as Research Assistant to the vice-Chancellor on the project 'Contribution of B.H.U. towards National Movement'. She was also a lecturer of Ancient Indian History and Archaeology at Patna University. Married to a journalist, she resides at Jaipur and is at present working on the Non-Aryans in Vedic Literature. A collection of her short stories for children has been published by the Publications Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.