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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 13-19

Bondage and freedom: A comparative study of ancient indian scriptures and ancient Chinese Taoism Scriptures


Division of Yoga and Humanities, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA University), Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission23-Sep-2021
Date of Acceptance23-Mar-2022
Date of Web Publication26-Apr-2022

Correspondence Address:
Ms. Zanyi Wang
Division of Yoga and Humanities, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA University), Bengaluru, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijoyppp.ijoyppp_20_21

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  Abstract 


Freedom has been the eternal theme of human pursuit since ancient times. Freedom is always related to bondage, it is difficult to only talk about freedom without bondage. These two concepts are extremely important in Eastern philosophy and relevant to the modern thinking of India and China. The concepts of bondage and freedom in ancient India and ancient China are derived from their respective cultures; the striking similarity of both sides is the starting point of this paper. Pursuit of freedom is the eternal theme in all Upanishads and Zhuangzi, the means to attain ultimate freedom is to understand the real self. The ancient scriptures explained bondage and freedom in their ways. The Upanishads and Zhuangzi share the same desire for freedom, which refers to the realm of spiritual freedom. They all seek an absolute reality, and there is no difference in essence between the knowledge of the Brahman and the self, and the knowledge of the Tao and I is the same. One is bound because one does not know the ultimate reality. To obtain the ultimate reality is to obtain the highest freedom. This article tries to trace back to the source of ancient Indian scriptures and early Taoism scriptures, from the start point of the origin of bondage and freedom, the cause of bondage, the solution of bondage, and the result, and to analyze the similarities and differences of the two important concepts “bondage” and “freedom” in both traditions.

Keywords: Bondage, early Taoism scriptures, freedom, upanishads


How to cite this article:
Wang Z, Rawat V, Yu X, Panda RC. Bondage and freedom: A comparative study of ancient indian scriptures and ancient Chinese Taoism Scriptures. J Appl Conscious Stud 2022;10:13-9

How to cite this URL:
Wang Z, Rawat V, Yu X, Panda RC. Bondage and freedom: A comparative study of ancient indian scriptures and ancient Chinese Taoism Scriptures. J Appl Conscious Stud [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 May 24];10:13-9. Available from: http://www.jacsonline.in/text.asp?2022/10/1/13/343852




  Introduction Top


Background

In 1949, the German philosopher Karl Jaspers called the period of ancient history from about the 8th to the 3rd century BCE the “Axial Age,” a time of great historical change and unprecedented cultural growth. It occurred about 30° north latitude, in India, China, Persia, and later in the Greco-Roman world, and new ways of thinking emerged in the fields of religion and philosophy, and they developed in parallel (Jaspers, 2011). During this period, ancient India was in the period of Mahajanapada, divided into 16 great nations, with some small countries, which put the society in turmoil (Nain, 2018), and ancient China was in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, vassal rivalries and wars broke out constantly (Loewe & Shaughnessy, 1999). In this era, ancient Indian and ancient Chinese seers simultaneously began to pursue the way to freedom, the classical scriptures represented by Upanishads and Taoism appeared.


  Bondage and Freedom in Ancient Indian Scriptures Top


The Sanskrit word “Samsara” literally means “wandering,” “world,” (Lochtefeld, 2002b; Klostermaier, 2010) or worldly life, also can be understood as “cyclicality of all life, matter, existence,” (Yadav, 2018) which means the cycle of birth and rebirth (Gross, 1993). In general, birth and rebirth are misery and suffering, therefore, samsara is usually translated as “bondage.” The concept of Bondage was often associated with thinking about death and the afterlife. Initially, it has been described in Rigveda Samhita 1.164.30, 6.70.3, 4.54.2 (Poussin, 1917; Krishan, 1997), life goes from one body to another, over and over again, Rigveda Samhita 10.14.7–10.14.8, especially refer to the places to go after death and Yamaraja-the king of that place also mentioned the highest heaven, which is the result of good actions (or merit),“Go forth, go forth upon the ancient pathways whereon our sires of old have gone before us. “Mere shalt thou look on both the Kings enjoying their sacred food, God Varuṇa and Yama. Meet Yama, meet the Fathers, meet the merit of free or ordered acts, in the highest heaven. Leave sin and evil, seek anew thy dwelling, and bright with glory wear another body” (Griffith, 2012). Rigveda Samhita 10.58.1–10.58.12, described after death, the spirit goes to Yama's World, from earth to heaven, and finally comes back to earth again. Atharva Veda 11.8.33[Endnote No.5] also mentioned where a part of the body goes after death. These are probably some of the earliest thoughts regarding bondage.

“Moksha” is usually referring to freedom from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth (Sharma & Bharati, 2000). There are some other terms synonym to Moksha, such as nirvana, kaivalya, mukti, samadhi, etc., in various scriptures (Mishra, 2013). There was no clear concept for freedom in Veda Samhitas, but the related concepts were also mentioned in Rigveda 10.90.2-3 as “amrtam (immortality)” or “amrtatva (eternal life)”[Endnote No.6] reveals the rudiment of the early ancient Indian seers thinking about freedom. These vague concepts gradually become clear in the Upanishads. The Upanishads explain the sense organs, cognition, the process of death (including death and rebirth), and the potentiality of escaping the cycle of existence (Lindquist, 2020). Upanishads are those late Vedic Sanskrit scriptures on religious doctrines and spirituality, dealing with spiritual, philosophical, and ontological knowledge (Flood and Flood, 1996). Upanishad is the end portion of Vedas, also called Vedanta. The word “Upanishad” literally means “sitting down near” (Jones & Ryan, 2006), refers to the student sitting by the side of the teacher who is the source of knowledge. The author of Vedic scriptures is unknown – Apaurusheya (there is no human author of the Vedas because they came from the mouth of BRAHMA, the creator of this world) (Radhakrishnan, 1951), the most commonly believed that these authors are ancient Indian seers. There are more than 200 scriptures which are named Upanishad (Phillips, 2009), Muktika Upanishad declares there are 108 Upanishads that are known (Paul et al., 1997). Shankaracharya has given elaborate commentaries to 10 of them; therefore, these 10 are generally considered as major Upanishads (Easwaran, 2007). These early or “principal” Upanishads were composed in the 800–300 BCE range (Phillips, 2009). The Upanishads begin to reflect on bondage and explain the reasons for it. In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad the question was raised, Artabhaga asks Yajnavalkya, after death where does this person go? (Br. Up. 3.2.13), Yajnavalkya described death and the hereafter and the self has particular consciousness, goes to another body which is related to that consciousness. It is followed by knowledge, work, and past experience (Br. Up. 4.4.2). It can be seen from this that knowledge, work, and past experience are reborn along with the self. Katha Upanishad puts forward the same idea says samsara as corn decays the mortal and like corn is born again (Ka. Up. 1.1.6), “from Death to Death” (Ka. Up. 2.1.10). Some jivas go into wombs to be embodied; others pass into the immovable, according to their karma and their knowledge (Ka. Up. 2.2.7). Prasna Upanishad says the Prana is born of the Atman (self). By the act of the mind, this comes into this body (Pr. Up. 3.3). It follows from this that when the body dies, the Atman does not disappear but goes into the next body and is constantly reborn, and the shape of the rebirth is determined by the consequences of the actions, these are the ideas of Punya (merit) and Papa (demerit). Yajnavalkya told Artabhaga, one indeed becomes good through good work and evil through evil work (Br. Up. 3.2.13). The idea of the results of Punya (merit) and Papa (demerit) is those who did bad work in this world in their past life attain a bad birth accordingly (Ch. Up. 5.10.7). Mundaka Upanishad gives a similar idea: From him the Agni (Dyu Loka) whose fuel is the sun; from the moon in the Dyu Loka (Mu. Up. 2.1.5). The concepts of rudiments of the results of actions are already taking shape.

Regarding the reason for the bondage, Katha Upanishad explains the cause is ignorance (Ka. Up. 1.2.5-6).” Mundaka Upanishad also says: “These ignorant men regarding sacrificial and charitable acts as most important.. enter again into this or even inferior world” (Mu. Up. 1.2.10). Ignorance leads to desires, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad further declared the desire leads to action (Karma) (Br. Up. 4.4.5) and explained the connection between karma (especially punya and papa) and kaarma (desire) with samsara explicitly (Br. Up. 3.8.10). Chandogya Upanishad clearly says, everything perishes…those who leave this world after knowing the Self and the Truths which they should know are free, no matter where they are (Ch. Up. 8.1.6). Therefore, to know Brahman is the proper way to come out of samsara.

Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads have described two paths to describe the path of the Gods or immortal beings-Devayana, and the path of ancestors-Pitryana (Br. Up 6.2.15-16). Prajapati says the Self has to be sought for and thoroughly known. The person who has sought for and known the Self attains all worlds and all desires (Ch. Up. 8.7.1). The knower of Brahman attains the highest. Brahman is existence (Satyam), consciousness (Jnanam), limitless (Anantam) (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1.1). Moreover, the person who is free from desires, the objects of whose desire have been attained, and to whom all objects of desire are but the Self-the organs do not depart. Being but Brahman, he is merged in Brahman (Br. Up 4.4.6). When all the desires are gone, the person having been mortal becomes immortal and attains Brahman in this very body (Br. Up 4.4.7).

According to Upanishads, there are two types of freedom, one is getting free while living (Jivanmukti), the knowers of Brahman also go to the freedom after the fall of this body, being free, even while living) (Br. Up. 4.4.8). Another is getting free after death (Videhamukti) to attain Brahmaloka through brahmacharya to become the masters of Brahmaloka. They can visit all worlds they like (Ch. Up. 8.4.3). From these Upanishads, the cause of bondage is ignorance, which leads to desire, desire leads to action, action leads to Punya (merit) and Papa (demerit), Punya and Papa leads to rebirth. This is the cycle of Samsara. To come out from bondage, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad glorified the practice of meditation: “the world of the Gods through meditation. The world of the Gods is the best of the worlds. Therefore, they praise meditation (Br. Up. 1.5.16)”. Chandogya Upanishad says meditation is surely superior to intelligence (Ch. Up. 7.6.1). Here, meditation can be seen as a mental state or mental activity which leads to Brahman, while the significance of meditation was discussed in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, sage Yajnavalkya says that through hearing the teaching, reflecting on that knowledge, then practicing meditation one can come to know, realize that liberating truth (Br. Up. 4.5.6). The way to overcome bondage needs to remove ignorance, the means to remove ignorance is only through knowledge. Upanishads regard Brahman as the highest knowledge which is self-knowledge. Mundaka Upanishad divides knowledge into “higher knowledge (Para Vidya)” and “Lower Knowledge (Apara Vidya) (Mu. Up. 1.1.5),” only the knowledge of Brahman (Brahmavidya) is the “higher knowledge,” other than Brahman knowledge is “lower knowledge.” The higher and lower Brahman also can be understood as Saguna Brahman (with attribute) and Nirguna Brahman (without attribute) (Nikhilananda, 1952). Katha Upanishad emphasize that the self is not easy to understand, only subtle seers through their one-pointed and subtle intellects can get to know (Ka. Up. 1.3.12), to show how important it is for a wise person to understand this self-knowledge. Advaita Vedanta (nondualism)[Endnote No.8] is the most direct inheritance and development of the Upanishad “Brahman and I are one” thought, all things and beings are the manifestations of Brahman through Maya. To attain Brahman is not only a matter after death but also a matter while living, to attain Brahman one should mentally remove illusion (Maya). Because Maya is the cause of creation, Maya also distracts personal attention in the process of human self-knowledge in pursuit of happiness and spiritual freedom. According to Swami Vivekananda: “Maya is not the theory for the explanation of this world; it is simply a statement of facts as they exist, that the very basis of our being is a contradiction, that wherever it is good, there must also be evil, and wherever it is evil, there must be some good, wherever there is life, death must follow as its shadow, and everyone who smiles will have to weep, and vice versa” (Vivekananda, 2007). There are some famous Mahavakyas (Great sentences) in Upanishads, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 and 4.4.5 have referred “Aham Brahmāsmi (I am Brahman),” “ayam ātmā brahma (Self is Brahman)”-Brahman and I are one and the same, this is the final goal.


  Bondage and Freedom in Early Taoism Scriptures Top


There was no clear description of bondage in ancient Chinese texts before the emergence of Taoism literature, but the concept of freedom began to take shape. In early Chinese literature, the word “Xiao Yao (逍遥)” was used to express the meaning of freedom, which can be understood as being carefree and unfettered. There are some descriptions of the promenade in the Shijing (诗经) (11th BC-6th BC), “So do they freely saunter (河上乎逍遥)” (Zhu Xi 2011a), “So may its owner of whom I think, freely spend his time here at his ease! (所谓伊人,于焉逍遥)” (Zhu Xi, 2011b). These two “freely” refer to the idea of living free, it does not mention being free from bondage. Between the Spring and Autumn Periods (770-476 BC), the Taoism philosophy arose, and the concepts of bondage and freedom began to be reflected in early Taoism scriptures. The classic works of philosophy in this period are Tao Te Ching and Zhuangzi (Ball, 2004).[Endnote No.9] Tao Te Ching(道德经) is the main classic work of Taoism written by Laozi, there are around 5,000 Chinese characters in 81 chapters (Laozi, 2001). Zhuangzi's texts also called Nan Hua Jing(南华经), includes seven inner chapters (内篇), 15 outer chapters(外篇), and 11 miscellaneous chapters (杂篇) (Knechtges, 2014).

The earliest Taoism concept of bondage was put forward by Zhuangzi, although Zhuangzi did not use the word “bondage,” explicitly referred to the afterlife: The next life cannot be waited for, and the past life cannot be sought again.(来世不可待,往世不可追也 (Ren Jian Shi人间世), and likens bondage to the alternation of night and day, where life and death are just laws of nature: “Death and life are ordained, just as we have the constant succession of night and day (死生,命也,其有夜旦之常.Da Zong Shi 大宗师)”,“Death and life just like day and night (死生为昼夜Zhi Le至乐)”. Although Zhuangzi proposed thoughts on bondage, he was not afraid about that. He believed that life and death were nothing more than the discrete aggregation of Qi (气) in a changing state. “When a person dies, the Qi (气) is dispersed, and when the Qi (气) gathers, one lives. Life and death are nothing but a combination of Qi (气) (人之生,气之聚也;聚则为主, 散则为死,Zhi Bei You 知北游),” human life and death are constantly changing alternately. Life and death are just a form of natural evolution and an inevitable natural phenomenon; therefore, “life” and “death” are essentially indistinguishable, “When it is time to live, flout death. When the time to die, flout life (方生方死, 方死方生.Qi Wu Lun齐物论). Death is not the absolute end of life. The whole life is nothing but a process of “day and night, thinking about good or not” (夜以继日, 思虑善.Zhi Le至乐) and “lifelong service without seeing its success” (终身役役而不见其成功.Qi Wu Lun齐物论). Death is not to be feared, death is only a rest, (其生若浮, 其死若休.Ke Yi刻意). If birth is there and then death is. This is the law of the Tao and cannot be changed. The only way to get rid of it is to realize that the essence of Tao is revealed through all things and beings and realize all things and beings and I are one. Then, we can put down the attachment to external things, to know the real self, and get free of the bondage. Free and unfettered is the highest life realm Zhuangzi pursues. He uses the Chinese word “Xiao Yao (逍遥)” to “describe the ultimate freedom” in the great wilds, where you might loiter idly by its side, and lie down in blissful repose beneath its shade (彷徨乎无为其侧,逍遥乎寝卧其下, Xiao Yao You 逍遥游).” Zhuangzi believed that although everything in the world looks different, in the final analysis, it is the same, there is no such thing as right and wrong and different to achieve the realm of freedom is to realize this. Although the concepts of bondage and freedom are not mentioned by Laozi, he also pondered: Fame or one's self, which does one love more? One's self or material goods, which have more worth? Loss (of self) or possession (of goods), which is the greater evil? (名与身孰亲? 身与货孰多? 得与亡孰病? TTC Chapter, 44). Laozi thought one should “Reveal thy simple self, Embrace thy original nature(见素抱朴, 少私寡欲TTC Chapter 19), because: “colorful make people dazzling; noisy tones make people hearing impaired; abundant food makes people's tongue tasteless; indulgent hunting makes people feel debauched and crazy; rare Items that make people misbehave (五色令人目盲;五音令人耳聋;五味令人口爽;驰骋畋猎,令人心发狂, TTC Chapter 12). To indulge in the entertainment of external sounds and sounds can only lead to confusion and cannot achieve the goal of enlightenment. Normal life is to fill the stomach, to solve the food and clothing, not to pursue delicious food, let alone to enter the temptation of worldly things. Zhuangzi also believed that people should reduce their need for material things (Xiao Yao You逍遥游). He proposed two specific spiritual practices to get free from bondage and achieve the ultimate freedom, “sitting and forgetting” (Da Zong Shi 大宗师) and “fasting of the mind” (Ren Jian Shi人间世). These two principles were the foundation of Zhuangzi's inner spiritual state and the foundation of later Taoism meditation. To achieve the state of “sitting and forgetting,” one must transcend worldly values, not just “forget about benevolence and righteousness (Wang Ren Yi 忘仁义)” and “forgetting rites and music (Wang Li Yue 忘礼乐),” also forgotten the “form” and “knowledge,” the form and the heart as an ideal state “your body should become thus like dead wood, your mind like burnt-out cinders(形固可使如槁木,而心固可使如死灰).” When the mind is adjusted to a quiet state, the will and energy are more concentrated, and all the sensory restrictions are abandoned, the inner world is purified, so that the real self and the Tao are the same, and they can get rid of the constraints of external things and achieve the state of unity with the Tao. However, meditation alone is not enough, knowledge is also important. Zhuangzi divides knowledge into two types: “Great knowledge is generous; small knowledge is contentious (大知闲闲,小知间间 Qi Wu Lun 齐物论).” Cheng Xuanying (成玄英,608-669, Tang Dynasty Taoism scholar) believed that the so-called “small knowledge” in the secular world is a kind of “worldly shallow knowledge(世俗之浅知)” (Xuanying 2011). Zhuangzi believes that “great knowledge (大知)” is the ability to distinguish between “self” and “nonself” which is the “self-knowledge (自知),” to realize one's true nature. Zhuangzi used two words to refer to the self-”Zhenzai (真宰)” and “Zhenjun (真君),” the “real self” (Zhenzai真宰, Zhenjun真君) and Tao are the same. “Tao” is covered by local views; the meaning of language is covered by colorful rhetoric (道隐于小成,言隐于荣华。Qi Wu Lun齐物论). Zhenzai (真宰) is unknown because people have all kinds of desires, desires make one constantly from the outside world to explore material satisfaction, and masked true knowledge.(鉴明则尘垢不止,止则不明也. De Chong Fu德充符). Although Tao exists in all things, only realized person (真人) can recognize it, the realized person is that who always remains calm, who is not happy for birth and not disgusted for death. “The realized person ignores self; the divine man ignores achievement; the true Sage ignores reputation (至人无己,神人无功,圣人无名.Xiao Yao You逍遥游)”. Zhuangzi calls those who have obtained freedom are “the realized person, the divine person, and the sage,” to obtain freedom is to look at life and death, wealth and poverty, as well as fame and fortune, are the same, to get rid of external shackles, to obtain true knowledge can overcome from bondage and obtain the ultimate freedom.


  A Brief Analysis Top


Similar background

The time when Upanishads came into being was the same as the time when the early Taoism philosophers Laozi and Zhuangzi lived. The turbulent times made the life of the people in those times extremely unstable and prompted them to seek a free way of life. This was the background for the emergence of Upanishads' thought of freedom and Zhuangzi's thought of Xiao Yao. In this period, the academic thought unprecedented prosperity, the chaotic political situation promoted the progress of thought. The difference is, the Vedic scriptures are authorless (Apaurusheya), and the ancient seers are only receivers, while Taoism scriptures are human thinking.

Attitudes toward samsara and freedom

Although both the Upanishads and the Zhuangzi believe that life and death are cyclical and both acknowledge rebirth, the Upanishads believe that freedom is beyond death and rebirth, whereas Zhuangzi does not emphasize that rebirth is necessarily to be beyond, and he does not mention Punya (merit) and Papa (demerit), Samsara does not constitute a necessary cause of freedom in Zhuangzi's thought, whereas the Upanishads consider freedom to be transcendent of samsara. Zhuangzi considers freedom to be based primarily on the transcendence of suffering in this world, not the transcendence of samsara. The Upanishads say, because of Maya, one cannot see the essence of the Brahman. Shankaracharya equates Maya with ignorance, to objectively speaking, Brahman manifestation in this phenomenal world through Maya, and subjectively speaking, it is because of the “ignorance” that people only feel the mundane world of phenomena and cannot see the ultimate reality (Jing, 2002). Once the knowledge of Brahman is established and realize that I am the same as Brahman, ignorance will be removed. Swami Vivekananda says: Life and death are only different names for the same fact, the two sides of the one coin. Both are Maya, the inexplicable state of striving at one time to live, and a moment later to die. Beyond this is the true nature, the Atman (Vivekananda, 2019).

Zhuangzi also thinks the real self (真宰、真君) is covered by ignorance, one's spiritual experience is to get the great wisdom and transcendence and detachment of life perception, and freedom from material constraints can achieve absolute freedom. Modern scholar Chen Guying (陈鼓应) believes that in China, the term “spirit” was first coined by Zhuangzi, and it established the life of human thought (Guying, 2009).

The idea of Jivanmukti and Videhamukti in Upanishads are similar to Zhuangzi's realized person, divine person, and sage, they all possess the qualities of transcendence, carefreeness, and freedom. They are a kind of spiritual freedom and infinite realm. This profoundly expresses the lofty ideal pursuit and yearning of mankind.

Reasons for bondage and means of freedom

Regarding how to obtain the highest reality, Upanishads proposes meditation (Dhyana) and knowledge of Brahman (Brahmavidya) as the way to obtain freedom. Zhuangzi also proposed the meditation methods of sitting and forgetting (坐忘) and fasting of the mind (心斋) and emphasized the importance of gaining “great wisdom (大知)” which is the knowledge of Tao. Both philosophies have a similar idea, the root of bondage is ignorance, ignorance leads to desire, and desire causes the pursuit of worldly fame and wealth, which makes people give up their original freedom and pursue external and secular things. To pursuit the Ultimate freedom, one should put aside fame and fortune, not be constrained by the worldly material benefit, and pursue the natural life. Only knowledge can remove ignorance, and the prerequisite for obtaining knowledge is to have a pure mind, which can purify the body and mind through meditation and prepare for getting knowledge.


  Conclusion Top


Through the analysis to find the modern significance of these two cultures, after thousands of years of inheritance, these important ideological values have penetrated every aspect of the two countries. In the modern context, these two ancient Eastern civilizations are experiencing the impact of western culture, the advent of globalization, inevitably conflict with traditional culture, whether traditional culture can adapt to modernization has become an issue of general concern, the view of Upanishads and Taoism about the ultimate reality are extremely similar, the spiritual ways of life which they advocated are still very practical, no matter now or in the future, for their countries' culture, independent thoughts and development of human spiritual growth and social progress is invaluable.

Endnotes

Ancient literature

The Major Upanishads are taken from: Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, and Brihadaranyaka.

The early Taoism scriptures are taken from Laozi's Tao Te Ching(道德经) and Zhuangzi's Qi Wu Lun(齐物论), Ren Jian Shi(人间世), Da Zong Shi(大宗师), Tian Xia (天下), Zhi Bei You (知北游), Zhi Le (至乐), Zai You (在宥), Ying Di Wang (应帝王), De Chong Fu (德充符).





  1. In this paper, the Upanishads translations are taken references from Radhakrishnan (1953) and Nikhilananda (1949-1959).





    1. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's “The Principal Upanisads” was published in 1953, with 19 sections about the main Upanishads, which carry central teachings of the Vedanta
    2. Swami Nikhilananda's “The Upanishads” was published in different years: (various years). Translation of the 11 major Upanishads with notes, detailed introductions, and explanations based on interpretations of Sankaracharya.




  2. In this article, the Tao Te Ching translations are taken references from Carus (1898) and Yutang (1948), Zhuangzi's texts translations are taken from Watson (1964).





    1. Paul Carus's English translation of “Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching” was published in 1898. In the “Introduction” part, the author made detailed comments on Lao Tzu's favorite 15 views in Tao Te Ching. The author added titles to the 81 chapters and annotated and commented on the contents of some chapters
    2. Lin Yutang's “Lao Tzu's Wisdom” was published in 1948. The author divides the translation into seven chapters. After each chapter's translation, there are further explanations and comments on the important points and difficult sentences of the chapter, and occasionally footnotes make necessary explanations on the translation.




  3. The translation of the view of Chen Xuanying and Chen Guying does not have English references, I translated by my understanding
  4. Atharva Veda 11.8.33: At his first death, he goeth hence, asunder, in three separate parts. He goeth yonder with one part, with one he goeth yonder: Here he sinketh downward with a third
  5. Rigveda 10.90.2-3: This Puruṣa is all that yet hath been and all that is to be; The Lord of Immortality which waxes greater still by food. Hence, mighty is his greatness; yea, greater than this is Puruṣa. All creatures are one-fourth of him, three-fourths eternal life in heaven
  6. Purushathas holds that everyone has proper goals in four different stages of life that are necessary for an ideal life (Sharma, 1999). There are four Purusharthas: (1) Dharma: Duty with social moral code and conduct righteousness (Dharma, 2013); (2) Artha: The proper pursuit of material wealth (Lochtefeld, 2002a); (3) Kama: The desire to sense pleasure without violating Dharma and Artha, and towards Moksha (Flood, 1997); (4) Moksha: Gets self-knowledge to attain the spiritual freedom (Chatterjea, 2003; Joseph, 2002)
  7. There are different understandings of the oneness of Atman and Brahman (that is, non-dualism or Advaita), of qualified non-dualism (Vishishtadvaita), or separateness (dualism or Dvaita), this study takes the reference from Sankara's Advaita angle
  8. The history of Taoism can be divided into four separate periods – Philosophical or Proto-Taoism, Classical Taoism, Modern Taoism, and Contemporary Taoism (Ball, 2004). The first period, philosophical Taoism, is so-called simply because there is no evidence of any formal Taoism religious organization at this time-from antiquity up to the second century
  9. Laozi(老子, also known as Lao Tzu, 600 BC-470BC) and Zhuangzi (庄子, also known as Chuang-tzu, or Zhuang Zhou, 369BC-286BC) are the early representatives of Taoism.


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Conflicts of interest

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