Introduction to Vedanta
Vedanta (Upanisads) is the last word in search of the truth about the individual Jiva, this Jagat and the creator. The Vision of Vedanta has kept Indian society alive for the past five thousand years. Vedanta represents the doctrine of the identity of the subject and object, beyond which human reason, thought and experience cannot go. This vision is held even by a farmer in a village – that all that is here is Bhagavan, or Bhagavan is everywhere – Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahma.
Knowledge of Upanisads goes outside India:
Among the works comprising Vedic literature, the Upanisads were the first to attract the attention of the western scholars and their wide and well-deserved praise. Several of these works were translated into Persian in Moghul times. Dara Shikoh (1615-1668 CE), the eldest son and the legitimate heir of Emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666 CE) and Mumtaz Mahal were attracted by the Upanisads, and had them translated in Persian language.
Subsequently from Persian language, they were translated into Latin about the beginning of the 19th century. It was through this Latin translation that they came to be known for the first time in Europe. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860 CE), who is considered as one of the greatest European thinkers during his time, admired them through these translations.
The Upani?ads were translated from Sanskrit into Persian by, or it may be, for Dara Shikoh (1640-1659), the eldest son of Shah Jehan, an enlightened prince, who openly professed 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 to have heard of the Upanisads during his stay in Kashmir in 1640. Afterwards he invited several Pundits from Benaras to Delhi, who were to assist him in the work of translation. The translation was finished by 1657. Three years after the accomplishment of the work, in 1659, the prince was put to death by his brother Aurangzeb, in reality, no doubt, because he was the eldest son and legitimate successor of Shah Jehan, but under the pretext that he was an infidel, and dangerous to the established religion of the empire.
However, neither any translation under Akbar’s reign (1556-1586 CE), nor the translations of Dara Shikoh attracted the attention of the European scholars until the year 1775. In that year, Anquetil Duperron, the famous traveler and discoverer of the Zend Avesta, received one manuscript of the Persian translation of the Upanisads, sent to him by M. Gentil, a French resident at the Court of Shuja-ud-Daula, and brought to France by M. Bernier.