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Upanishads

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Upanishads

The Upanishads are regarded as part of the Vedas and as such form part of the Hindu scriptures. They primarily discuss philosophy, meditation, and the nature of God; they form the core spiritual thought of Vedantic Hinduism. Considered as mystic or spiritual contemplations of the Vedas, their putative end and essence, the Upanishads are known as Veda-nta ("the end/culmination of the Vedas"). The Upanishads do not belong to a particular period of Sanskrit literature. The oldest, such as the Brhadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, may date to the Brahmana period (roughly before the 7th century BCE; before Gita was constructed), while the youngest, depending on the canon used, may date to the medieval or early modern period.

Etymology

upanis.ad literally means "sitting down beside".

Monier-Williams notes that "according to some the sitting down at the feet of another to listen to his words (and hence, secret knowledge given in this manner; but according to native authorities upanishad means 'setting at rest ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the supreme spirit..." It derives from upa- (near), ni- (down) and sad (to sit), referring to the "sitting down near" a spiritual teacher (guru) in order to receive instruction in the Guru-shishya tradition.

Other dictionary meanings include "esoteric doctrine" and "secret doctrine".

A gloss of the term upanis.ad based on Shankara's commentary on the Kat.ha and Br.hada-ran.yaka Upanishads equates it with A-tmavidya-, that is "knowledge of the Self", or Brahmavidya- "knowledge of Brahma"



 

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