Search Site

• • • • • • • • • 

Recent stuff

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

• • • • • • • • • 

Our email address is editor @realization.org.

Copyright 2001 Realization.org.



The Upanishads


THE UPANISHADS are philosophical texts that describe the teachings of Hindu sages who lived two to three thousand years ago.

They were the last texts added to the Vedas, the vast collection of writings that constitute Hinduism's most sacred literature.

Tradition recognizes 108 Vedic Upanishads, of which 10 to 13 are usually regarded as major.


The Upanishads differ from earlier Vedic texts in their lack of emphasis on physical sacrifice and ritual. Instead they speculate about the nature of reality and develop the doctrine of Brahman. It is in the Upanishads that the nondualistic equation of atman (self) and Brahman (God) emerges.

The predominant school of Hindu philosophy, Advaita Vedanta, is based on the Upanishads.



Aitareya Upanishad
This is one of the shortest of the major Upanishads. It contains a creation myth.

Isa Upanishad
This is one of the shortest of the major Upanishads. It usually appears first in traditional compilations.

Katha Upanishad

One of the most famous and widely-translated Upanishads. The King of Death explains the nature of the Self and how to realize it.

Kena Upanishad
The theme of this short Upanishad is the paradoxical nature of knowing God. If you consider yourself to be the performer of actions, such knowledge is impossible.

Mandukya Upanishad
Consisting of only twelve verses, this is the shortest Upanishad. According to Sankaracharya, this Upanishad, together with Gaudapada's commentary on it, "contains the epitome of the substance of the import of Vedanta."

Mundaka Upanishad
This short, poetic Upanishad makes the startling assertion that the knowledge contained in the Vedas, the holiest Hindu scriptures, is only a lower kind of knowledge. It prescribes a higher knowledge, the apprehension of Brahman.

Prasna Upanishad
One of the major Upanishads. It describes the five types of prana. Translated by F. Max Müller.

Taittiriya Upanishad
This Upanishad is of special importance to students of Advaita Vedanta and Jnana Yoga because it's the only one that sets forth the doctrine of the five kosas or sheaths that conceal the true Self.



  Upanisads: A New Translation
By Patrick Olivelle

This is the best English translation we've seen of the twelve major Upanishads. It's the only one that's fully informed by modern scholarship, and the style is lucid and pleasant to read. To top it off, the book happens to be dirt-cheap. Patrick Olivelle is professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions at the University of Texas at Austin.


Order from ABE


The Ten Principal Upanishads
Translated by Shree Purohit Swami and W.B. Yeats

There are translations for the heart and for the head; those that recreate the poetic, literary greatness of the original, and those that aim at academic fidelity. This is the best English translation of the first type that has ever been made of the Upanishads. Shree
Purohit Swami was an enormously talented yogi who came to London in 1930, and W.B. Yeats was one of the greatest English poets of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, this book is out of print, so you'll have to buy a used copy. It's worth it.



Sanskrit Documents List
List of links to texts of Upanishads on the Internet, mostly in Sanskrit.

Sanskrit Texts and Stotras
Includes some Upanishads in Sanskrit with English translations. Files are in PDF format.

The Upanishads

Translated by Max Müller.

Upanishad Links
Maintained by the Sanskrit Documents List website.

Upanishad Page
Part of the Global Hindu Electronic Network (HinduNet).

Illustration c. 1680, courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, accession number IS.42-1953.

This page was published on May 30, 2000 and last revised on May 12, 2001.

Copyright 2001 Realization.org. All rights reserved.