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INTRODUCTION

TO

THE UPANISHADS.




First Translation of the Upanishads.

Dârâ Shukoh, Anquetil Duperron, Schopenhauer.

The ancient Vedic literature, the foundation of the whole literature of India, which has been handed down in that country in an unbroken succession from the earliest times within the recollection of man to the present day, became known for the first time beyond the frontiers of India through the Upanishads. The Upanishads were translated from Sanskrit into Persian by, or, it may be, for Dârâ Shukoh, the eldest son of Shâh Jehân, an enlightened prince, who openly professed the liberal religious tenets of the great Emperor Akbar, and even wrote a book intended to reconcile the religious doctrines of Hindus and Mohammedans. He seems first to have heard of the Upanishads during his stay in Kashmir in 1640. He afterwards in- vited several Pandits from Benares to Delhi, who were to assist him in the work of translation. The translation was finished in 1657. Three years after the accomplishment of this work, in 1659, the prince was put to death by his brother Aurangzib[1], in reality, no doubt, because he was the eldest son and legitimate successor of Shâh Jehân, but under the pretext that he was an infidel, and dangerous to the established religion of the empire.

When the Upanishads had once been translated from Sanskrit into Persian, at that time the most widely read language of the East and understood likewise by many European scholars, they became generally accessible to


  1. Elphinstone, History of India, ed. Cowell, p. 610,