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Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/75

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INTRODUCTION.

Rammohun Roy was quick enough to perceive behind the mists and clouds of tradition that gather so quickly round the sunrise of every religion.


Position of the Upanishads in Vedic Literature.

If now we ask what has been thought of the Upanishads by Sanskrit scholars or by Oriental scholars in general, it must be confessed that hitherto they have not received at their hands that treatment which in the eyes of philosophers and theologians they seem so fully to deserve. When the first enthusiasm for such works as Sakuntalâ and Gîta-Govinda had somewhat subsided, and Sanskrit scholars had recognised that a truly scholarlike study of Indian literature must begin with the beginning, the exclusively historical interest prevailed to so large an extent that the hymns of the Veda, the Brâhmanas, and the Sûtras absorbed all interest, while the Upanishads were put aside for a time as of doubtful antiquity, and therefore of minor importance.

My real love for Sanskrit literature was first kindled by the Upanishads. It was in the year 1844, when attending Schelling's lectures at Berlin, that my attention was drawn to those ancient theosophic treatises, and I still possess my collations of the Sanskrit MSS. which had then just arrived at Berlin, the Chambers collection, and my copies of commentaries, and commentaries on commentaries, which I made at that time. Some of my translations which I left with Schelling, I have never been able to recover, though to judge from others which I still possess, the loss of them is of small consequence. Soon after leaving Berlin, when continuing my Sanskrit studies at Paris under Burnouf, I put aside the Upanishads, convinced that for a true appreciation of them it was necessary to study, first of all, the earlier periods of Vedic literature, as represented by the hymns and the Brâhmanas of the Vedas.

In returning, after more than thirty years, to these favourite studies, I find that my interest in them, though it has changed in character, has by no means diminished.