Upanishads - The Important Scriptures Of The Hindu Religion
Like the Vedas and Puranas, Upanishads are important scriptures of Hinduism. Hence, they are also known as Shrutigranth. Like other ancient scriptures, Upanishads, too, are written in the Sanskrit language. It is believed that there are around 200 Upanishads; however, there are only approximately 13 prominent ones.
The remarkable thing about Upanishads is that every Upanishad is related to one or the other Vedas. The Upanishads, like other scriptures of the Hindus, are also repositories of knowledge. & wisdom. They describe the nature and relationship of God and soul philosophically.
The Upanishads are an ocean of knowledge & wisdom. One can say this because the Upanishads are the fundamental source of India’s overall philosophical thinking. Moreover, they contain an invaluable heritage of Indian civility.
Table of Content
The Relationship Of Vedas And Upanishads
We already know that every Upanishad has an association with one or the other Veda, and hence it holds a lot of importance. According to the Indian tradition, there are three types of texts in the Vedas: Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads. All three types of texts are directly linked to the Vedas. Now, let us see which of the Upanishads are linked to which of the Vedas:
- Rig Veda – 10 Upanishads
- Shukla Yajurvedi – 19 Upanishads
- Krishna Yajurvedi – 32 Upanishads
- Samvediya – 16 Upanishads
- Atharvavedaaya – 31 Upanishads
There are 108 Upanishads, the principal Upanishads are Narayana, Narsingh, Ramtapani, and Gopal. Other Upanishads are Isha, Aitareya, Kath, Kane, Chandogya, Sankhya, Taittiriya, Brihadaranyak, Mandukya, and Mundak.
The Types Of Upanishads As Per Their Style
Prosaic Upanishads – Aitareya, Kane, Chhandogya, Taittiriya, Brihadaranyaka, and Kaushitaki
Prosaic Upanishads – Ish, Kath, Shvetashvatar, and Narayana
Avantar Prosaic Upanishad – Questions, Maitri (Maitrayani), and Mandukya
Atharvan i.e. Karmakandi Upanishad
The Special Attributes Associated With Various Upanishads
The Upanishads are considered to be important Shruti texts in Hinduism. The primary purpose of the Upanishads is to gain knowledge of Brahma, Jiva, and the world.
The Upanishads are the fundamental source of all Indian philosophies. The Upanishads were composed from 1000 BC to 300 BC.
There are 10 Upanishads on which Shankaracharya has written his commentary. These are considered authentic. Upanishads are only one of the four parts of the Vedas. Vedas have four parts, and the Upanishads are one of them. Talking about the four parts of Vedas, they are Samhita, Brahmin, Aranyaka, and Upanishads. The Upanishads are considered the essence of the Vedic philosophy.
One of the important and popular Upanishads is the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. It is related to Shukla Yajurveda. It is the largest of the Upanishads. It has 6 chapters, 47 Brahmins, and 435 verses of peace recitation. There is also a description of the living universe and God in this Upanishad.
Aitareya Upanishad is a Shukla Rigvedic Upanishad. The fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters of the second Rigvedic Aranyaka mainly mention the theology of Brahmavidya. It is called Aitareopanishad. It has three chapters. It provides information about theology.
Talking about the chapters of Aitareya Upanishad, there are three sections in its first chapter. The first section describes the birth of the universe, the second section describes the origin of the human body, and the third section describes the production of food for the devas.
Now speaking of Taittiriya Upanishad, it belongs to the Krishna Yajurvedic branch. It is very important and comes in 10 ancient texts. It has three sections, Shikshavalli, Brahmanandavalli, and Bhriguvalli. It has a total of 53 mantras.
It falls under the mantra parts of the Atharvaveda. It discusses matter and theology. In this Upanishad, there is a description of the dialogue between the sage Shaunak and his guru, the seer Angira. It has 64 mantras.
Angira taught Shaunak the Brahmavidya, in which he has given the distinction between Vidya’s Para and Apara and named Ved Vedang as Apara and that knowledge as Paravidya.
The 40th chapter of the Yajurveda is the Isophanishad. It has a total of 18 mantras.
It was named Kathopanishad because of its writing by Maharishi Kath. In this scripture, Yama teaches Nachiketa about God and the soul. Therefore, this council of the Krishna Yajurveda branch is considered to be extremely important.
It is called the Upanishad of Questions.
It describes tasks related to God and the soul.
This Upanishad talks about the Holy syllable Aum in particular.
It was composed by Maharshi Aitareya; hence it was named Aitareya Upanishad. It discusses the supreme nature of God.
It belongs to the Taittiriya Aranyaka of the Taittiriya branch of the Yajurveda. For this reason, it was named Taittiriya Upanishad.
In this, the importance of the Supreme God is stated, and He is considered the all-powerful.
This Upanishad is related to the Samaveda. The Brahmin of the Samaveda is called Chhandogya, which consists of 10 chapters. The first two chapters are called the Chhandogya Mantra Brahmana, and the remaining eight chapters are the Chandogyopanishad.
Due to its large size, it is called Brihaopanishad. Since it emerged in the forest, it is called Brihadaranyaka. This scripture describes human qualities, deeds, nature, and soul.
If the Vedas are the crux of Indian spirituality, Upanishads complete, conclude and fructify the Vedic wisdom. Hence, there is immense importance of Upanishads, rightly called Vedant (the end of the Vedas).