Major Upanishads

Major Upanishads
The ten major Upanishads which contain great philosophical discussions and knowledge are:

Ishavasya Upanishad
It is a very succint summary of Indian philosophy that explains life itself.

Kena Upanishad
Kenopanishad derives its name from the word Kena, meaning 'by whom'. It belongs to the Talavakara Bahmana of Sama Veda and is therefore also referred to as Talavakara Upanishad. In short, it says that "The One power that illumines everything and every one is indivisible. It is the Ear behind the ears, Mind behind the mind, Speech behind speech, the Vital Life behind life. The ears cannot hear it; it is what makes the ears hear. The eyes cannot see it; it is what makes the eyes see. You cannot speak about it; it is what makes you speak. The mind cannot imagine it; it is what makes the mind think. It is different from what all we know; yet it is not known either. Those who feel they know Him, know Him not. Those who know that anything amenable to the senses is not Brahman, they know it best. When it is known as the innermost witness of all cognitions, whether sensation, perception or thought, then it is known. One who knows thus reaches immortality.

The Kathopanishad is divided into six Vallis. Valli literally means a creeper. A Valli, like a creeper, is attached to the Sakhas or Branches of the Veda. This Upanishad is also divided into two Adhyayas (chapters) of three Vallis each. This is one of the most beautiful Upanishads, in which the eternal truths are given in the form of a narrative. The narrative is taken from Taittiriya Brahmana (3-11-8), with some variations. The same story is told in the Taittiriya Brahmana, the only difference being that in the Brahmana, freedom from death and birth is obtained by a peculiar performance of a sacrifice, while in the Upanishad, it is obtained by knowledge only.

Aitareya Upanishad
The Aitareya Upanishad is one of the oldest of the Upanishads. It belongs to the Aitareya Aranyaka of the Rig Veda. It is divided into three chapters and contains thirty three verses. This Upanishad deals with the process of creation.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad means the "great forest-book". This Upanishad is one of the oldest of all the Upanishads. It consists of three sections or kandas: the Madhu kanda, the Yajnavalkya or the Muni kanda and the Khila kanda. Here the Brahman is portrayed as universal and undifferentiated consciousness. The doctrine of the indescribability of the absolute and the doctrine of 'Neti, Neti' are explained. This Upanishad concludes by stating the three virtues that one should practice, i.e. self-restraint, giving, and compassion.

Prashna Upanishad
In Sanskrit, Prashna means 'question'. This book consists of six questions and their answers, hence the name. It is in a question-answer format. Except the first and last questions, all other questions are actually a group of smaller sub-questions. As narrated in the beginning of this Upanishad, six pupils interested in knowing divinity or Brahman come to the sage Pippalada and ask questions of great spiritual importance. Pippalada asks them to take up a penance of one year. Upon completion of the penance, they again come to the sage and ask questions, and then the sage answers their questions.

Mandukya Upanishad
For the very reason that it explains the esoteric meaning of the fundamental syllable Aum of Hindu spiritual tradition, the Upanishad has been extolled greatly. The Muktikopanishad, which talks about all other Upanishads, says that if a person cannot afford to study all the hundred and more Upanishads, it will be enough to read just the Māndūkya Upanishad. According to Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, in this Upanishad, we find the fundamental approach to the attainment of reality by the road of introversion and ascent from the sensible and changing, through the mind which dreams, through the soul which thinks, to the divine within but above the soul.

Taittireeya Upanishad
The Taittireeya Upanishad belongs to the Taittireeya school of the Yajur Veda. It is divided into three sections called Vallis. The first is the Siksa Valli. Siksa is the first of the six Vedangas (limbs or auxiliaries of the Veda); it is the science of phonetics and pronunciation. The second is the Brahmananda Valli and the third is the Bhrugu Valli. These two deal with the knowledge of the Supreme Self, or 'paramatma-jnana'.

Chandogya Upanishad
Along with Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, the Chandogyopanishad is an ancient source of principal fundamentals for Vedanta philosophy. Considering the number of references made to this Upanishad in Brahma sutras, this Upanishad is given special importance in Vedanta philosophy. Important spiritual practices like Dahara Vidya and Shandilya Vidya are its speciality.

This Upanishad begins with an Invocation that the eye may see auspicious things, the ear may hear auspicious sounds, and that life may be spent in the contemplation of the Lord. The teaching of this Upanishad is referred to as Brahmavidya, either because it describes first the message of Hiranyagarbha, the casual Brahma, or because the message relates the glory of Brahmam. This Upanishad speaks of Brahmavidya as the mystery which only those with shaven heads and those who go through a rite of having Fire on the shaven head can understand. So, it is called Mundaka, or shaven Head. Apart from this, this Upanishad is honoured as the crest of all, since it expounds the very essence of Brahma Jnana. It is assigned to the Fourth Veda, the Atharvana.
Remaining Upanishads
The other 98 Upanishads are again classified according to their content as follows. They are General (of common interest), Saiva (dealing with Lord Shiva), Saktha (dealing with the divine mother Shakthi), Vaishnava (dealing with Lord Vishnu), Sanyasa (dealing with renunciation) and Yoga (dealing with Yogic practices) Upanishads.

Although this classification is made, there are still some subjects discussed in them that overlap. Short notes on each of these Upanishads given below, based on the categories mentioned above:

General Upanishads (27)

Svetasvatara Upanishad
This Upanishad is taught by a sage called Svetasvatara. Its main emphasis is on the teaching of Sankhya Yoga and the philosophy of illusion (Maya).

Garbho Upanishad
This Upanishad is taught by sage Pippalada and deals with the growth of foetus in the womb. It also gives the number of different parts of the body, like the bones, nerves, flesh etc.

Maitrayani Upanishad
This Upanishad tells us about the penance of a king called Brahadratha. The king asked the sage Sakanya about the feeling of desire in this meaningless world. Sage Sakanya relates to him what had been told to him by Sage Maithreya. He teaches him the great science of Brahma Vidya. Finally he tells him that the mind and illusion are responsible for this contradiction.

Kaushitaki Upanishad
This Upanishad is taught by Sage Chithra to Sage Udhalaka and his son, Shwethakethu. It deals with the science of the soul. The temporary nature of rituals and good deeds and permanent nature of doing everything without desire is emphasized. It also tells the need for a father to give up all his personality and knowledge to his son and enter Sanyasa.

Subala Upanishad
This is the teaching of Sage Angiras to Sage Raikwa. It tries to answer the question of the time and method of creation of the world. It also tries to find out the properties of the soul of beings and discusses several aspects of philosophy.

Mantrika Upanishad
It deals with the properties of Brahmam. It explains that whatever is produced, vanishes, and then is reproduced. It concludes that the one who knows it well is the Brahman.

Sarvasara Upanishad
Defines and explains several words like Katha, Bandha, Annamaya etc, which occur constantly in Upanishadic philosophy.

Niralamba Upanishad
It is an independent text of Hindu philosophy. It tries to investigate what is Brahmam and concludes that the Sanyasi has a better chance of attaining salvation by following the proper methods.

Sukarahasya Upanishad
This Upanishad is supposed to have been taught to Sage Suka, so that he would understand the philosophy of salvation. It contains and extensive explanation of the words and ideas that describe this philosophy.

Vajrasuchika Upanishad
This Upanishad investigates and tries to answer the question, "Who is a Brahmin?" It also says that caste does not come by birth.

Atmaprabodha Upanishad
Expounds about meditation on Pranava and the great Vaishnava Mantra, "Om Narayanaya Nama." It also defines and discusses the identities of an evolved soul.

Skanda Upanishad
Takes a conciliatory stand between Shaiva and Vaishnava and concludes that both are the same.

Mudgala Upanishad
This Upanishad aims at explaining the mantras of the great Purusha suktham.

Paingala Upanishad
This is taught by Sage Yagnavalkya to Sage Paingala. It gives an explanation of the term 'Kaivalya'. It also attempts to explain the Maha Vakyas of the Vedas like 'Aham Brahmasmi', as well the duties of Jnanis.

Mahat Upanishad
Describes the initial creation of the universe, starting From Lord Narayana to Lord Brahma. After this, there is a discussion between Sage Suka and King Janaka regarding the creation of the Samsara. This is followed by a discussion of several aspects of philosophy between Sage Nidhaka and his guru, Sage Ripu. It explains that the Sastras are burden for a Jnani, Jnana is a burden to those who are attached, and so on.

Sariraka Upanishad
Talks about the different aspects of the human body, including states of knowledge.

Akshamalika Upanishad
This Upanishad is taught by Guha to Lord Brahma. It discusses in detail about how to choose the mala (rosary) for use in meditation.

Ekakshara Upanishad
This is an Upanishad which deals with the letter, 'Om.' This is more of a prayer towards 'Om.'

Surya Upanishad
Tells about Surya Angirasa Mantra and Gayatri, which is a prayer to the Sun, and further goes on to illustrate the ashtakshara to worship Lord Surya.

Akshi Upanishad
Contains the prayer of sage Sankruthi to Lord Surya which contains the Chakshushmathi Mantra. This is followed by the teaching of Brahma Vidya by Surya.

Adhyatma Upanishad
This is initially taught by Sadashiva to Sage Apantharathamas. It says that there is nothing but Atma and the feeling of existence of others is only illusion.

Savitri Upanishad
Explains who is Savithri and the difference between Savitha and Savithri. It also recites the Savithri Mantra.

Atma Upanishad
Deals with various aspects of Atma and how a Brahma Jnani does not see anything except Atma.

Katarudra Upanishad
This is the teaching of Brahma Vidya by Lord Brahma himself to the Devas. The treatment is philosophical.

Panchabrahma Upanishad
Details the five stages by which Para Brahmam was evolved.

Pranaagnihotra Upanishad
This Upanishad deals with the Sarrera Yagna, or the sacrifice to the body. It lists out all the mantras that are to be chanted before eating food. The usual mantras that a Brahmin chants before eating are contained in this Upanishad.

Muktika Upanishad
This Upanishad is the Teaching of Lord Rama to Hanuman. It tells about the Vedas, Vedangas and Kaivalya, and also summarizes the Hindu Vedanta. The list of 108 Upanishads is also given in this Upanishad.

Saiva Upanishads(13)

Kaivalya Upanishad
In this Upanishad, Brahma teaches the knowledge of Brahmam to sage Aswalayana. Though Adi Sankara wrote commentaries only for ten Upanishads, he also considered this to be an important Upanishad. It deals with the state where the person is himself. The path shown is through meditation and devotion, keeping the person as the plank and considering Om as the stick which rotates on the plank and gives out the light of fire.

Atharvasira Upanishad
It emphasizes the greatness of the holy letter "Om." It also explains that the form of Lord Rudhra is the form of Pranava.

Atharvasikha Upanishad
This is taught by Sage Adharva to great sages like Pippaladha, Angiras and Sanathkumara. It emphasizes the need and benefits of the meditation of the Pranava.

Brahajjabala Upanishad
This Upanishad was told by Kalagni Rudra to Sage Busundi. It deals in detail with the method of preparation of holy ash (Vibhuthi) and the method of wearing it.

Kaalagnirudra Upanishad
It talks in detail about the method of wearing holy ash (Vibhuthi) along with mantras for wearing the same. This was taught by Kalagni Rudra to the great sage, Sanathkumara.

Dakshinamurthi Upanishad
Dakshinamurthi is the 'teacher form' of Shiva in which he teaches without talking. This Upanishad gives the Dakshinamurthi Mantra and the method of practicing it.

Sarabha Upanishad
Sarabha is the animal, man and bird form of Lord Shiva. It is believed that he took this form to control the anger of Vishnu when he took the form of Narasimha. This Upanishad talks about Lord Sarabha.

Talks about Lord Shiva's aspect of Pasupathi (the Lord of all living things). Discusses how the entire universe is really one and there is no differentiation.

Rudrahrudaya Upanishad
Shuka asks his father which God exists in all devas and in which God all devas exist. The answer, Rudra, is this Upanishad.

Bhasmajabala Upanishad
Expresses how Vibhuthi has to be prepared and also the daily duties of a Brahmana. This is the teaching Lord Shiva to Jabala Busunda.

Rudrakshajabala Upanishad
This is the teaching of Kalagni Rudra to Sage Busunda, and deals exclusively with Rudraksha.

Ganapati Upanishad
Starts with a prayer to Lord Ganapathi and gives the Ganapathi Mantra. It describes how the worship of Ganapathi is to be performed.

Jabali Upanishad
Sage Jabali tells Sage Pippalada about Lord Pasupathi. The need and method of wearing Vibhuti (holy ash) is given in detail.

Saktha Upanishads(9)

Sita Upanishad
Brahma tells the Devas about who is Sita. He tells them that she is the Adhara Shakthi (the basis which is the foundation) in the feminine form. He also tells about her different forms.

Tripuratapini Upanishad
Explains the Sathakshari Mantra for meditating on Tripura, the Goddess Parvathy. Several great manthras like Gayatri, and Panchadasakshari are a part of this. It also discusses Srividya Upasana.

Annapurna Upanishad
Sage Rupu tells Sage Nidhaka about Devi Annapurna. He also teaches him the Annapurna Mantra. This is followed by teaching of philosophical aspects like Maya, Yoga and Mukthi.

Devi Upanishad
The Devi tells the Devas who she is in this Upanishad. It lists the Panchadasakshari and Navakshari mantras to worship her.

Tripura Upanishad
Talks about Sri Chakra and the worship of the devi through the right and left methods.

Bhavana Upanishad
Discusses one important aspect of Sri Vidya Upasana.

Saubhagyalakshmi Upanishad
Bhagawan Narayana tells about the Shakthi from whom every God originated and teaches the devas the worship of Saubhagyalakshmi.

Sarasvatirahasya Upanishad
This Upanishad is taught by Sage Asvalayana to the other sages. He teaches them the ten Saraswathi mantras and methods of worshipping her.

Bahuvracha Upanishad
Talks in detail about the existence of Shakthi from whom all gods and knowledge originated. Gives hints of worship of Sri Vidhya.

Vaishnava Upanishads(14)

Narayana Upanishad
Describes the principle of Tripath Narayana. It also introduces the Narayana ashtakshara Mantra and describes the benefits of chanting it.

Nrsimhatapini Upanishad
It has two parts. In the Poorva (first) part, it speaks in detail about the greatness of Lord Narasimha. It also has the great king of mantras, called the Narasimha Mantra, and depicts in detail how to meditate on it. In the Uthara part, it talks about the greatness of Pranava and the Narsimha Raja Mantra. It gives a detailed method of meditating on Lord Narasimha.

Tripadvibhutimahanarayana Upanishad
Brahma did tapas for one thousand years to know about Brahmam from Lord Vishnu. This upanishad contains what Lord Vishnu told him. He also clears his doubts, such as whether Brahmam has a form or not and also gives the shapes of several yantras.

Ramarahasya Upanishad
Explains that Lord Rama is Brahma Taraka and expounds various mantras for worshipping him. Also gives yantras for worshipping Lord Rama.

Ramatapini Upanishad
There are two parts, the Poorva Thapini and the second Uthara Thapini. It talks about the greatness of the word, "Rama", as well as Rama Yantra, which is similar to the Sri Chakra. It also discusses the belief that Lord Shiva tells the Tharaka Mantra in the ears of all people dying in Varanasi and the method of worship of Rama.

Vasudeva Upanishad
Explains what Urdhwa Pundra (the sign worn by Vaishnavites) is and the rules for wearing it.

Avyakta Upanishad
Deals with the creation of clearly defined things from that unclear past. Tells how Parajapati came from Avayaktha and went on to create the world. It also gives a mantra to worship Lord Vishnu.

Tarasara Upanishad
Narrates about the holiness of Kurukshethra, Tharaka Mantra and Pranava and illustrates the method of worship of Lord Narayana.

Gopalatapini Upanishad
Sages approach Lord Brahma to know the procedure to worship Krishna. What he tells them is contained in this Upanishad. The Upasana Mantra of Govinda is also given here.

Krishna Upanishad
The sages, when they meet Rama, wanted to embrace him. He caused them to be born as Gopis and himself took the avatara of Krishna, so that they could embrace him. This book discusses who were born as what in Krishnavatara.

Hayagreeva Upanishad
Brahma tells Narada that whoever meditates and worships Lord Hayagreeva gets to know the Brahma vidya. The mantra for worship of Lord Hayagreeva is given here.

Dathathreya Upanishad
Depicts the method of meditation and worship of Dathathreya through the Dathathreya Mantra.

Garuda Upanishad
The method of meditation and worship of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu is given here.

Kali santarana Upanishad
Talks about how the evils of the Kali age are to be crossed. The sixteen letter prayer on Rama would help one in doing this.

Sanyasa Upanishads (16)

Brahmo Upanishad
Tells us about how the great sage of wisdom comes out of all mundane things and lives a life where there is no need for rituals and no differences exist. The Mantra for changing Yagnopavita occurs in this Upanishad.

Jabala Upanishad
This is compiled by Sage Jabala. This gives more emphasis on mediation and the chanting of Rudra. The importance of concentrating between the centres of eyes is stressed here.

Arunya Upanishad
This Upanishad deals with the teaching of Prajapathi to sage Aaruni. It gives in detail the rules of life that are to be followed by a Brahmachari and a Sanyasi.

Paramahamsa Upanishad
It deals with the discussion between Sage Narada and God on who is a paramahamsa (sanyasi at an advanced stage) and methods to identify him.

Maitreyi Upanishad
It is the teaching of Lord Parameshwara to sage Maithreya. To a large extent, what is given in Maithrayani Upanishad is repeated. In addition, God describes to him in detail about his formless form.

Nirvana Upanishad
Describes the Sanyasa marga involving Nirvana (nudity) and how the people follow it.

Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad
This is the teaching of Narada to the Souunaka Sages. It discusses the methods to attain salvation, the rules to be followed by a Sanyasi, and the time when a person should enter Sanyasa. It also talks about Karma Sanyasa.

Bhikshuka Upanishad
It defines the different types of Sanyasis like Kuttesaka, Bahoodhaka, Hamsa and Parama Hamsa.

Turiyatita Upanishad
It is taught by Lord Narayana to Lord Brahma and talks about the rules of the life of an Avadhootha.

Sanyasa Upanishad
Elucidates who can take Sanyasa and what is the procedure.

Paramahamsaparivrajaka Upanishad
This is taught by Lord Narayana to Lord Brahma. It deals mainly with the procedure of taking sanyasa.

Kundika Upanishad
Explains all the things a Sanyasi should posses and how he should behave.

Parabrahma Upanishad
Explains what is Yagnopavitha as well as Shika, for the sanyasis as well as people of the world. It also gives clearly the total length of the Upavitha. For the sanyasi, it is the pranava which acts as Yagnopavitha and Shika.

Avadhuta Upanishad
Dathathreya teaches sage Sankrithi as to who is Avadhootha and how he should behave.

Yajnavalkya Upanishad
The Upanishad reveals when to assume sanyasa and also the properties of a sanyasi.

Saatyayani Upanishad
The mind becomes the reason for attachment and salvation. The Saatyayani Upanishad relates that a real Brahmin should search for Brahmam. It also explains that one taking sanyasa gives redemption for three generation of manes.

Yoga Upanishads(19)

Shwethaswadhara Upanishad
This Upanishad is taught by a sage called Swethaswadhara. More emphasis is given in teaching Sankhya Yoga and the philosophy of illusion (Maya)

This talks about meditation on Hamsa Mantra and is being taught by Sage Gauthama to Sage Sanathkumara. The method of meditating on the Hamsa Mantra is fully described here.

Amrutha bindu Upanishad
It gives the knowledge of athma in the tasty form of nectar and gives it as briefly as a dot. It talks about what is Brahmam, and other concepts of Hindu Philosophy.

This describes the way to chant the holy letter 'Om' in great detail. It is referred to as a nectar-like letter in this text.

Kshrika means knife. It is so called because it cuts ignorance using the knife of wisdom. This is an Upanishad which in detail describes Yoga and its practice.

Thejo Bindupanishad
This Upanishad is the teaching of Lord Paramashiva to his son, Subrahmanya. It talks in detail about Yogic practices, defines Chinmathra Swaroopa, Athmanubhava, Jeevan Muktha etc.

Nada Bindu Upanishad
Discusses in detail the meditation on Omkara (pranava). The correct method of meditation and some problems, which may occur, are pointed out.

Dhyana Bindu Upanishad
The meditation on Pranava and Ajabha Gayathri is dealt in detail along with the method involved.

Brahma Vidhyoupanishad
Teaches methods of attaining Brahma through meditation. Emphasizes the role of a guru and explains why Sruthi is more important than Pramana.

Yoga Thathwopanishad
This is the teaching of Lord Vishnu to Lord Brahma. It details out the yogic practice. It also enumerates the stages in Yoga, defines them and how to recognize them.

Trisiki Brahmanopanishad
This is the teaching of Lord Soorya to a Brahmin called Trishiki Brahmana. He clears his doubts about the definition of the body, soul, Karana and yogic practice.

Yoga Choodamani Upanishad
Tells about Yogic practice involving Ajaba Gayatri. Describes the seats of Yoga, how to wake up the Kundalani and reach her up to Brahma Randra.

Mandala Brahmanoupanishad
This is the teaching of Sun God to his disciple, Yagna Valkya. This deals with the principle of the soul through yogic practice. Definitions of various terms used in Yoga is also given. Tells in detail about Yogic practice and tells us about what is Sambhavi Mudhra.

This is taught by Sage Atharvana to sage Sandilya. It deals with Ashtangayoga and Brahma Vidhya.

This is the teaching of Lord Maheswara to Lord Brahma. It deals with subjects like Mukthi, Shakthi, Nadha, Chaithanya and Yoga.

Yoga kudalinyupanishad
Talks about Kundalani and yogic practice.

Sri Jabaladarsanopanishad
This is the teaching of Lord Dathathreya to his disciple sage Sankriti about how the Yoga should be done, in great detail.

Confirms that the knowledge "That this Sun is Brahma" would be realized by chanting of Ajapa Gayathri. Explains the merger of mind with Brhama.

Talks about the Brahma Vidya of the body of Varaha. Lord Vishnu as Varaha tells how he should be meditated upon and worshipped. Also deals in detail about the stages of Yoga.

Also See;
 Explanation of Sacred Scriptures
 108 Upanishads


#buttons=(Accept !) #days=(1)

Our website uses cookies Learn..
Accept !