The Upanishads

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  THE UPANISHADSThe upanishads are expositions of doctrine, typically found in the concluding portions of thebrAhmaNas and AraNyakas of the four vedas. A number of upanishads are extant today, withcommentaries on them by representatives of various schools of vedAnta. The upanishads are notto be seen as uniform books - each text is connected to the veda in which it occurs, and theupanishadic teaching is often presented in the context of a particular vedic hymn or ritual. In thevedAnta traditions, the upanishads are referred to as the Sruti prasthAna, i.e. revealed scripture,from which knowledge of brahman is obtained.The Principal upanishads: The upanishads that have been commented upon by Sankara andother teachers have have acquired extra significance as the principal or more or less canonical upanishads. These are:aitareya (Rg veda)bRhadAraNyaka (Sukla yajurveda)ISa (Sukla yajurveda)taittirIya (kRshNa yajurveda)kaTha (kRshNa yajurveda)chAndogya (sAma veda)kena (sAma veda)muNDaka (atharva veda)mANDUkya (atharva veda)praSna (atharva veda)These ten are the most important and principal texts. Modern scholars believe that these alsorepresent the oldest of the upanishadic texts. Others add the kaushItakI and SvetASvataraupanishads to the list of principal upanishads, and some add the maitrAyaNI too.Other upanishads: A number of other upanishads are extant today. The Indian traditions regardthe upanishads as Sruti, which is timeless, eternal, and apaurusheya (unauthored). Hence,finding dates of composition for the various upanishads is a meaningless non-issue to them.Some of the texts that are called upanishads may not be accepted by specific traditions.However, this is really a question of acknowledging the Sruti status of a given text, not one of finding a date of composition. Modern scholars attempt to fix periods of composition for all thesetexts. Needless to say, the date of composition of these texts, including those of the principalupanishads, is of no real concern to the vedAnta traditions.It has become popular to classify the upanishads in terms of the subject matter they cover. Thus,we have a large number of upanishads dealing with general topics of vedAnta, in addition tothose that teach yoga, and those that detail the rules of sam.nyAsa. The upanishads that tend toconcentrate on one of the Great Deities of Hinduism are usually classified as Saiva, vaishNavaand SAkta upanishads. A list of 108 upanishads as found in the muktikopanishad is given in the table below. Theyajurveda column has two rows under each heading - kRshNa yajurveda texts are in the upper row, and Sukla yajurveda texts in the lower one.108 upanishadsRg veda (10) yajur veda (51) sAmaveda (16) atharva veda (31)  10 Principal upanishads---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------aitareya kaThapraSnataittirIya kenamANDUkya --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ISAvAsya chAndogyamuNDakabRhadAraNyaka---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------24 sAmAnya vedAnta upanishads----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------akshiekAkshara mahatgarbha maitrAyaNI AtmAprANAgnihotra vajrasUcIAtmabodha SvetASvatara sAvitrIkaushItakI SArIrakaSukarahasyamudgala skandasarvasAraadhyAtmanirAlambapaingalamAntrikasUryamuktikasubAla ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------17 sAm.nyAsa upanishads---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------nirvANa avAdhUtakaTharudra AruNeyanArada-brahma kuNDika  -parivrAjakajAbAla maitreyIparabrahmaturIyAtIta sam.nyAsaparamahamsa-paramaham.sa-parivrAjakabhikshukayAjnavalkyasAtyAyanI-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------20 yoga upanishads-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------nAdabindu amRtanAdaamRtabindukshurikapASupata-tejobindu jAbAladarSanadhyAnabindubrahmavidyAyogacUDAmaNi -brahmayogakuNDalinIyogatattvayogaSikhAmahAvAkyavarAhaadvayatArakatriSikhi-SANDilya-brAhmaNamaNDala--brAhmaNaham.sa-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14 vaishNava upanishads----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- kRshNakaliSAntaraNagAruDa avyakta gopAlatApanI tripAdvibhUti-nArAyaNamahAnArAyaNa   vAsudeva dattAtreya nRsimhatApanItArasArarAmatApanI rAmarahasya hayagrIva------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14 Saiva upanishads------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------akshamAlA kAlAgnirudraatharvaSikhAkaivalya jAbAlI atharvaSiradakshiNAmUrtigaNapatipancabrahmabRhajjAbAlarudrahRdayarudrAkshajAbAla bhasmajAbAla Sarabha--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------9 SAkta upanishads--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------tripurAannapUrNAbahvRcA sarasvatIrahasyatripurAtApanIsaubhAgya-devI-lakshmIbhAvanAsItA-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Comments: The classification of the upanishads on the basis of their subject matter seemsreasonable, and other than the 10 principal ones, most of the upanishads quoted by the earliestcommentators fall under the sAmAnya vedAnta category. However, some upanishads couldpossibly be classified under more than one heading. For example, varAha and pASupatabrahmaupanishads are classified as yoga upanishads and not as vaishNava and Saiva upanishadsrespectively. Similarly, gaNapati upanishad is included as a Saiva upanishad, while skandaupanishad is not. Also, hamsa upanishad is called a yoga upanishad and not a sam.nyAsa
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