Upanishads

  • the upanishads (z/;[1] sanskrit: उपनिषद् upaniṣad [ˈʊpɐnɪʂɐd]) are ancient sanskrit texts of spiritual teaching and ideas of hinduism, some of which are shared with religious traditions like buddhism and jainism.[2][3][note 1][note 2] they are the part of the oldest scriptures of hinduism, the vedas, that deal with meditation, philosophy, and spiritual knowledge; other parts of the vedas deal with mantras, benedictions, rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices.[6][7][8] among the most important literature in the history of indian religions and culture, the upanishads played an important role in the development of spiritual ideas in ancient india, marking a transition from vedic ritualism to new ideas and institutions.[9] of all vedic literature, the upanishads alone are widely known, and their central ideas are at the spiritual core of hinduism.[2][10]

    the upanishads are commonly referred to as vedānta. vedanta has been interpreted as the "last chapters, parts of the veda" and alternatively as "object, the highest purpose of the veda".[11] the concepts of brahman (ultimate reality) and Ātman (soul, self) are central ideas in all of the upanishads,[12][13] and "know that you are the Ātman" is their thematic focus.[13][14] along with the bhagavad gita and the brahmasutra, the mukhya upanishads (known collectively as the prasthanatrayi)[15] provide a foundation for the several later schools of vedanta, among them, two influential monistic schools of hinduism.[note 3][note 4][note 5]

    more than 200 upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main (mukhya) upanishads.[18][19] the mukhya upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the brahmanas and aranyakas[20] and were, for centuries, memorized by each generation and passed down orally. the early upanishads all predate the common era, five[note 6] of them are in all likelihood pre-buddhist (6th century bce),[21] stretching down to the maurya period, which lasted from 322 to 185 bce.[22] of the remainder, 95 upanishads are part of the muktika canon, composed from about the last centuries of 1st-millennium bce through about 15th-century ce.[23][24] new upanishads, beyond the 108 in the muktika canon, continued to be composed through the early modern and modern era,[25] though often dealing with subjects that are unconnected to the vedas.[26]

    with the translation of the upanishads in the early 19th century they also started to attract attention from a western audience. arthur schopenhauer was deeply impressed by the upanishads and called it "the production of the highest human wisdom".[27] modern era indologists have discussed the similarities between the fundamental concepts in the upanishads and major western philosophers.[28][29][30]

  • etymology
  • development
  • classification
  • association with vedas
  • philosophy
  • schools of vedanta
  • similarities with platonic thought
  • translations
  • reception in the west
  • see also
  • notes
  • references
  • sources
  • further reading
  • external links

The Upanishads (z/;[1] Sanskrit: उपनिषद् Upaniṣad [ˈʊpɐnɪʂɐd]) are ancient Sanskrit texts of spiritual teaching and ideas of Hinduism, some of which are shared with religious traditions like Buddhism and Jainism.[2][3][note 1][note 2] They are the part of the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedas, that deal with meditation, philosophy, and spiritual knowledge; other parts of the Vedas deal with mantras, benedictions, rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices.[6][7][8] Among the most important literature in the history of Indian religions and culture, the Upanishads played an important role in the development of spiritual ideas in ancient India, marking a transition from Vedic ritualism to new ideas and institutions.[9] Of all Vedic literature, the Upanishads alone are widely known, and their central ideas are at the spiritual core of Hinduism.[2][10]

The Upanishads are commonly referred to as Vedānta. Vedanta has been interpreted as the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" and alternatively as "object, the highest purpose of the Veda".[11] The concepts of Brahman (ultimate reality) and Ātman (soul, self) are central ideas in all of the Upanishads,[12][13] and "know that you are the Ātman" is their thematic focus.[13][14] Along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra, the mukhya Upanishads (known collectively as the Prasthanatrayi)[15] provide a foundation for the several later schools of Vedanta, among them, two influential monistic schools of Hinduism.[note 3][note 4][note 5]

More than 200 Upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main (mukhya) Upanishads.[18][19] The mukhya Upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas[20] and were, for centuries, memorized by each generation and passed down orally. The early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five[note 6] of them are in all likelihood pre-Buddhist (6th century BCE),[21] stretching down to the Maurya period, which lasted from 322 to 185 BCE.[22] Of the remainder, 95 Upanishads are part of the Muktika canon, composed from about the last centuries of 1st-millennium BCE through about 15th-century CE.[23][24] New Upanishads, beyond the 108 in the Muktika canon, continued to be composed through the early modern and modern era,[25] though often dealing with subjects that are unconnected to the Vedas.[26]

With the translation of the Upanishads in the early 19th century they also started to attract attention from a western audience. Arthur Schopenhauer was deeply impressed by the Upanishads and called it "the production of the highest human wisdom".[27] Modern era Indologists have discussed the similarities between the fundamental concepts in the Upanishads and major western philosophers.[28][29][30]