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xxvi
PREFACE TO THE

is in fact one of the earlier and less perfect names of the Infinite, of Brahman, the universal Self. This, at least, is the lesson which the Brahmans themselves read in this chapter[1]; and if we look at the ancient language of the Upanishads as representing mere attempts at finding expression for what their language could hardly express as yet, we shall, I think, be less inclined to disagree with the interpretation put on those ancient oracles by the later Vedânta philosophers[2], or, at all events, we shall hesitate before we reject what is difficult to interpret, as altogether devoid of meaning.

This is but one instance to show that even behind the fantastic and whimsical phraseology of the sacred writings of the Hindus and other Eastern nations, there may be sometimes aspirations after truth which deserve careful consideration from the student of the psychological development and the historical growth of early religious thought, and that after careful sifting, treasures may be found in what at first we may feel inclined to throw away as utterly worthless.

And now I come to the third caution. Let it not be supposed that a text, three thousand years old, or, even if of more modern date, still widely distant from our own sphere of thought, can be translated in the same manner as a book


  1. The Upanishad itself says: 'The Brahman is the same as the ether which is around us; and the ether which is around us, is the same as the ether which is within us. And the ether which is within, that is the ether within the heart. That ether in the heart is omnipresent and unchanging. He who knows this obtains omnipresent and unchangeable happiness.' Kh. Up. III, 12, 7−9.
  2. Cf. Vedânta-sûtras I, 1, 22.