This series will attempt to compare and analyse the commentarial works of Shamkara, Madhva and A.C Bhaktivedanta on the īśa upaniṣad, thus providing an objective, informative and impartial view on the upaniṣad.
om pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidaṁ pūrṇāt pūrṇamudacyate |
pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇamevāvaśiṣyate ||
om śāṁtiḥ śāṁtiḥ śāṁtiḥ ||
Commencing the work on the Upanishad, Shankara and Madhva introduce the work in their own way. Shankara commences the work by qualifying the range of Upanishads in introducing the knowledge section of Vedas which are devoid of ritualistic performances and action as they serve to reveal the true nature of the Self. Furthermore he suggests that rituals and performance of karma is for those who hanker after the results of karma, whereas the upanishadic texts attempt to remove the ignorance of the individual through the revelation of the true nature of the self.
Madhva commences with a short prayer to Visnu, the spiritual teacher, who gives various divine deities such as Brahma, Siva Indra, including Sri Lakshmi wisdom and energy thus making all entities naturally dependent on him.
Bhaktivedanta, unlike the above does not give a direct introduction before commencing the Upanishad but rather a lecture is presented in the form of an introduction. The introduction gives a brief summary of the ‘teaching of the Vedas’ where he teaches that Vedic knowledge including the upanishads ‘come from the spiritual world’ with the source being ‘from Krishna’. He stresses that if one wishes to have knowledge of the texts ‘one must approach a bona fide spiritual master, a Guru’. The most interesting note regarding the introduction is the synthesis, emphasis and acceptance of Sri Krsna in his words as the ‘supreme personality of Godhead’.
For the commentarial sources for the this series, we will be relying on the following literature:
Eight Upanishads with the commentary of Samkaracarya VOL 1. Translated by Swami Gambhirananda
Sri Madhvacharya Bhashya on the Isha Upanishad with Explanatory Notes. Translated by Nagesh D. Sonde
Sri Isopanisad by A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
For the Madhva commentary we were going to be using the ‘Isopanisad with the commentaries of Madhvacarya, Vedanta Desika, Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Bhaktivinoda Thakura’, translated by H.H. Bhanu Swami, however we had found the translation to be highly inaccurate.