Contribution of Andhra to Katha Upanishad
( A Brief Study)
Dr. Chilakamarthi Durga Prasada Rao
KATHA UPANISHAD :
Katopanishad is one of the oldest Upanishads belonging to the Taittiriya School of Yajurveda. The Upanishad elaborates the experiences of Nachiketa : his trip to the nether world, and his encounter with Yama who anointed the knowledge of Brahman on him. A special feature of the Upanishad is that most of its verses and ideas are found in the popular Bhagavad Gita verbatim. Many works were composed by many poets basing on this Upanishad.
The discussion about death, at length, is found in the Katha Upanishad. Nachiketa, cursed by his father Vajasaneya reached the abode of Yama. He was bestowed with three boons by Yama, and Nachiketa asked Yama to explain the nature of death as the third boon.
He asks:When a man dies , there is this doubt; some say that this Atman continues after death ; some say that it ceases to be . I would like to know the truth taught by you.. This is the third of my boons. Then, Yama to divert his attention, told him that it was very difficult to understand even to gods. Since the truth regarding death is subtle, Yama asked Nachiketa to choose some other boon instead. But Nachiketa insisted to explain that knowledge as it was very difficult to understand, and there was no better teacher than him to expound of it and nothing else was equal to that knowledge. Yama again tried his best to divert the attention of the boy by granting a number of worldly pleasures such as long life, wealth and worldly comforts, but all his attempts were in vain. Ultimately Nachiketa's inquisitiveness and firm determination that ' No other boon this Nachiketa will ask made Yama pleased at heart and he explained the secret of death.
COMMENTATORS ON THE UPANISHAD :
We now turn from the original works to commentaries and translations.
Anandagiri's commentary on this Upanishad was published by Anandasrama Press.
Upanishadbrahmendra yogi wrote an exciting commentary, Arthaprakasika following in the lines of Sankaracharya and this was published in Adayar library.
Bellamkonda Ramarayakavi wrote Vedantamuktavali in which a gist of Kathopanishad was given also following in the lines of Sankara.
Here is a sloka of Ramaraya from the Kathopanishad.
तिष्ठन्तं त्वनवस्थितासु तनुषु स्वात्मानमेकं विभु:
यो देहं च महास्तमेति कुशलस्सोSयं न शोचत्यपि |
नो लभ्य: प्रवचोभिरेष पुरुषो नो मेधया न श्रुतै:
आत्मप्रार्थनया शमादिसहितं ज्ञानेन लभ्य: पुन:||
(Atman is that which, though resident of the body, is, unlike the body, indestructable, cannot be realized through didactic acts, is beyond the brain power and is self-created.)
TELUGU TRANSLATIONS OF THE UPANISHAD :
Pantula Lakshminarayanasastry who belongs to the 20th century wrote a commentary-cum-translation. His work is called Andhrakathopanishad. While
translating the Upanishad, he closely followed the story part of the original text and translated the whole commentary of Sankara adding some explanations here and there. The work is considered to be a monument among the translations of the Kathopanishad.
Kanuparthi MarkandeyaSastry authored Srimadandhropanishadjnanadeepam. He bore in mind the views of Sankara while translating the Kathopanishad.
Other translators include Charla Ganapathi Sastry (Upanishadsudha), Pisapati NarayanaSastry (Andhradwadasopanishattulu), V.SundararamaSarma, Nori Srinatha Venkata Somayajulu and MalayalaSwamy.