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The Essential Vedanta
This site includes The Essential Vedanta’s pictures, online articles, slideshows, excerpts, reviews, table of contents, and more.
Essential Vedanta, The: A New Source Book of Advaita Vedanta
Essential Vedanta, The: A New Source Book of Advaita Vedanta
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Author(s): 
Subjects(s): 
Comparative Religion
Eastern Religion
Hinduism
Metaphysics

Price:  $24.95

ISBN:  0-941532-52-6
Book Size:  6" x 9"
# of Pages:  416
Language:  Englsih



Description

This book is the only comprehensive introduction to Advaita Vedanta that traces the history of this tradition by means of primary sources. The sources (in translation) are drawn from Sanskrit texts by some of the most important advaitic thinkers. The editors have filled in the appropriate background materials to make this a book through which readers can understand Advaita Vedanta both in terms of cultural history and philosophy. The book reveals the classical form of this great tradition of thought, showing how it actually functioned in Indian culture, and demonstrates its distinctive philosophical achievements.

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Detailed Description of The Essential Vedanta

This book is the only comprehensive introduction to Advaita Vedanta that traces the history of this tradition by means of primary sources. The sources (in translation) are drawn from Sanskrit texts by some of the most important Advaitic thinkers. The editors have filled in the appropriate background materials to make this a book through which readers can understand Advaita Vedânta both in terms of cultural history and philosophy. The book reveals the classical form of this great tradition of thought, showing how it actually functioned in Indian culture, and demonstrates its distinctive philosophical achievements.

Most often associated with the great 9th century sage Sankara, Advaita Vedanta is the most important and influential school of philosophy in India; however, unlike Western philosophy, the goal of this Indian wisdom tradition is spiritual liberation in life. The translations in The Essential Vedanta: A New Source Book of Advaita Vedanta are representative of the major traditional Sanskrit writings on this ancient but vibrant system of thought.


About the Author(s)

Eliot Deutsch

Eliot Deutsch is an eminent philosopher, teacher, and writer. He has made important contributions to the understanding and appreciation of Eastern philosophies in the West through his many works on comparative philosophy and comparative aesthetics. Deutsch is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy, University of Hawaii.

Prof. Deutsch's classic sourcebook on Advaita Vedanta has been put into a new edition with changes and additions as The Essential Vedanta: A New Source Book of Advaita Vedanta. Dr. Deutsch co-edited the book with Rohit Dalvi.


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Rohit Dalvi

Rohit Dalvi is a scholar of Indian Metaphysics and philosophy. He has been educated in India, the United States and France. Dr. Dalvi is currently teaching at Brock University, Canada.

Dr. Dalvi co-edited with Eliot Deutsch the new edition of The Essential Vedanta: A New Source Book of Advaita Vedanta.


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Reviews of The Essential Vedanta

"This book is an updated version of the 1971 classic (A Source Book of Advaita Vedanta, University of Hawaii Press). Changes include a few new and revised selections from the Upanisads. The selections and translations are excellent and exemplary. The Source Book is essential for all college libraries as well as for the personal collections of experts in the field. It remains a benchmark publication yet to be emulated by scholars of the other schools of Vedanta. This new and updated version is fantastic news for those of us who have desired the cost-prohibitive and out-of-print original.
Deepak Sarma, Case Western Reserve University from Religious Studies Review


 

"[This volume] is a significant contribution, and is a great aid to the study of Advaita Vedanta from its primary source material…[It] is a very useful anthology of the writings of Advaita thinkers…The selections cover in a comprehensive manner the doctrines and their nuances relating to Advaita thought. Each selection has a useful introduction which enables the reader to enter into the spirit of the selection. We are helped to a connected view of Advaita thought and presentation through the ages…[The authors'] approach is objective and exhibits high academic rectitude…The publication is a significant service done to comparative philosophy."

- Dr. P. Nagaraja Rao, writing in the journal Vedanta Kesari



"[This book] is overall an excellent collection of Advaita philosophic literature, much of it quite inaccessible in translation (even some of the extant translations are now difficult to obtain), and ought to be in the library of everyone interested in the study of Indian philosophy."

- Richard Brooks, writing in Philosophy East and West



"The authors are acknowledged experts within the field and have accordingly made an excellent selection of texts and provided them with clear, concise introductions."

- David Lorenzen, writing in the Journal of Asian Studies



“The learned editors deserve congratulations for providing us with a complete picture of the origin and the development of Advaita Vedanta in historical perspective from its inception in the Vedic texts. It is a well conceived and well executed anthology of Vedanta philosophy from the original texts, rich in content, most representative and complete in all respects”.

- Dr. Debabrata Sensharma, Ex-Director, Institute of Sanskrit & Indological Studies Kurukshetra University



"The publication of this book is an event of the greatest significance for everybody who is interested in the history of philosophy, and of Indian philosophy in particular, due to at least three reasons. First, Advaita Vedanta more than any other school represents the peculiarity of Indian thought, so much that it is often identified with Indian philosophy. Second, the interplay between Vedanta and other Indian philosophical schools and religious traditions presents to the readers, in the long run, practically a vast panorama of Indian thought and spirituality. Third, the richness of Vedanta sources included in the book masterly combined with a philosophical reconstruction made by Eliot Deutsch, one of the most respected contemporary authorities both in Vedanta and comparative philosophy".

- Marietta Stepaniants, Director of the Center for Oriental philosophies' studies, Russian Academy of Sciences



"The Essential Vedanta, edited by Eliot Deutsch, one of the best authorities on Eastern philosophy, and by Rohit Dalvi, covers a tremendous number of texts and a wealth of Vedantist thinking, and suitably appears at a time when so many deviations of this doctrine are occurring in the West. It helps the new reader as well as the specialist by explaining clearly the main concepts of Advaita Vedanta. This is a real challenge nowadays because words are constantly losing their meaning and their power, and the authors provide an excellent protection against such degeneration of the language— especially when this degeneration goes hand in hand with the disappearance of incisive thinking."

- Jean-Pierre Lafouge, Marquette University



"Guénon, in his Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, identified Vedanta as the most direct heritage of the Primordial Tradition, as metaphysics per se. However very few worthy translations of Sankaracharya and his disciples are yet available for English readers. This very precious anthology, written in a traditional spirit, fills this gap, providing readers with useful insights on Hindu sacred texts, darshanas and Gaudapada's lineage. [This is an] essential introduction to ‘the Language of the Self’."

- Dr. Patricia Reynaud, Associate Professor, Miami University




Table of Contents for The Essential Vedanta

 

Source Selections
Preface by Eliot Deutsch

PART I—BACKGROUND IN TRADITION: THE THREE DEPARTURES

Chapter 1. Revelation
     Selections from the Rgveda and Upanisads
Chapter 2. Recollection
     Selections from the Bhagavadgîtâ
Chapter 3. System
     Contents-summary of the Brahmasûtras

PART II—PHILOSOPHICAL AND CULTURAL BACKGROUND

Chapter 4. Early History and Cultural Values of Vedanta
Chapter 5. Common Philosophical Problems
Chapter 6. Criticisms of Rival Systems
     Selections from Samkara’s Brahmasûtrabhâsya

PART III—SOURCES OF ADVAITA VEDANTA

Chapter 7. Gaudapâda
Chapter 8. Samkara
Chapter 9. Suresvara
Chapter 10. Mandana Misra
Chapter 11. Padmapâda
Chapter 12. Vâcaspati Misra
Chapter 13. Sarvajñâtman
Chapter 14. Vimuktâtman
Chapter 15. Vidyâranya
Chapter 16. Madhusûdana Sarasvatî
Chapter 17. Srîharsa
Chapter 18. Sadânanda
Chapter 19. Dharmarâja
Chapter 20. Appaya Dîksita
Chapter 21. Summary

Glossary
Bibliography
Biographical Notes
Index



Excerpts from The Essential Vedanta

This excerpt from The Essential Vedanta: A New Source Book of Advaita Vedanta is taken from Chapter 1 (Revelation), and follows an explanation of the term “Vedanta” and a discussion of how Vedantists view Revelation and its place in and importance to scriptures.

…From the foregoing it will have become clear that very little of the Revelation literature preceding the Upanisads was of systematic interest to the Vedântins. For example, Samkara quotes less than twenty verses from the entire Rgveda in his commentary on the Brahmasûtras, about fourteen lines from the largest Brâhmana of them all, the Satapatha Brâhmana, but no less than thirty-four verses from the Mundaka Upanisad, a fairly minor and short Upanisad. This is not to say that Vedânta rejects the previous literature, but that it considers all the relevant wisdom of the Veda concerning these issues to have been embedded in the Upanisads.

HYMN OF CREATION

Rgveda X, 129

       Among the hymns of the Rgveda that are clearly philosophical both in character and influence none is more important than the “Hymn of Creation.” This hymn exhibits a clear monistic or non-dualistic concern, an account of creation that gives special attention to the role of desire, and a kind of skeptical or agnostic attitude concerning man’s (and even god’s) knowledge of creation. The following translation is from Hymns From the Rig Veda, translated by A. Macdonell, Heritage of India Series (Calcutta: Association Press, n.d.).
Non-being then existed not nor being:
There was no air, nor sky that is beyond it.
What was concealed? Wherein? In whose protection?
And was there deep unfathomable water?

Death then existed not nor life immortal;
Of neither night nor day was any token.
By its inherent force the One breathed windless:
No other thing than that beyond existed.
Darkness there was at first by darkness hidden;
Without distinctive marks, this all was water.
That which, becoming, by the void was covered,
That One by force of heat came into being.
Desire entered the One in the beginning:
It was the earliest seed, of thought the product.
The sages searching in their hearts with wisdom,
Found out the bond of being in non-being.

Their ray extended light across the darkness:
But was the One above or was it under?
Creative force was there, and fertile power:
Below was energy, above was impulse.

Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, and whence came this creation?
The gods were born after this world’s creation:
Then who can know from whence it has arisen?

None knoweth whence creation has arisen;
And whether he has or has not produced it:
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He only knows, or haply he may know not.

       The authority of the statements of the Upanisads is final for Vedânta. But inevitably there are portions in the Upanisads that are more influential than others. This influence is of two kinds. One kind of influence is that exerted through the Brahmasûtras which, when referring to an Upanisadic passage, makes it incumbent upon the commentator to interpret and accommodate the passage in his thinking. Perhaps the most quoted Upanisad in the Sutras is the Chândogya. Another kind of influence is the predilection of a commentator for certain passages which for him express the final thoughts of the Upanisads.



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