Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Search in posts
Search in pages

Next Article

Upanishads and their importance in the Hinduism and Hindu tradition.

An overview of the Upanishads and their place in the Hindu tradition

The Upanishads are ancient Hindu scriptures that are considered to be some of the foundational texts of Hinduism. They are part of the Vedas, a collection of ancient religious texts that form the basis of Hinduism. The Upanishads are written in Sanskrit and are thought to date back to the 8th century BCE or earlier. They are considered to be among the oldest sacred texts in the world and have had a significant influence on Hindu thought.

The word “Upanishad” means “sitting down near,” and refers to the practice of sitting near a spiritual teacher to receive instruction. The Upanishads are a collection of texts that contain the teachings of various spiritual masters. They are meant to be studied and discussed in the context of a guru-student relationship.

There are many different Upanishads, and they are divided into two categories: the older, “primary” Upanishads, and the later, “secondary” Upanishads.

The primary Upanishads are considered to be more foundational and are thought to contain the essence of the Vedas. There are ten primary Upanishads, and they are:

  1. Isha Upanishad
  2. Kena Upanishad
  3. Katha Upanishad
  4. Prashna Upanishad
  5. Mundaka Upanishad
  6. Mandukya Upanishad
  7. Taittiriya Upanishad
  8. Aitareya Upanishad
  9. Chandogya Upanishad
  10. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

The secondary Upanishads are more diverse in nature and cover a wider range of topics. There are many different secondary Upanishads, and they include texts such as

  1. Hamsa Upanishad
  2. Rudra Upanishad
  3. Mahanarayana Upanishad
  4. Paramahamsa Upanishad
  5. Narasimha Tapaniya Upanishad
  6. Advaya Taraka Upanishad
  7. Jabala Darsana Upanishad
  8. Darshana Upanishad
  9. Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad
  10. Yoga-Tattva Upanishad

These are just a few examples, and there are many other secondary Upanishads

The Upanishads contain philosophical and spiritual teachings that are intended to help people understand the nature of reality and their place in the world. They explore a wide range of topics, including the nature of the self, the nature of the universe, and the nature of the ultimate reality.

One of the key ideas found in the Upanishads is the concept of Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate reality and is seen as the source and sustenance of all things. It is described as being eternal, unchanging, and all-pervading. According to the Upanishads, the ultimate goal of human life is to realize the unity of the individual self (atman) with Brahman. This realization is known as moksha, or liberation.

Here are some examples of Sanskrit text from the Upanishads:

  1. “Aham brahmaasmi.” (From the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad) This phrase translates to “I am Brahman,” and reflects the belief that the individual self is ultimately one with the ultimate reality.
  2. “Tat tvam asi.” (From the Chandogya Upanishad) This phrase translates to “Thou art that,” and is similar in meaning to the above phrase, emphasizing the unity of the individual self with the ultimate reality.
  3. “Ayam atma brahma.” (From the Mandukya Upanishad) This phrase translates to “This self is Brahman,” and reflects the belief that the true nature of the self is the same as the ultimate reality.
  4. “Sarvam khalvidam brahma.” (From the Chandogya Upanishad) This phrase translates to “All this is Brahman,” and reflects the belief that the ultimate reality is present in all things.
  5. “Isha vasyam idam sarvam.” (From the Isha Upanishad) This phrase translates to “All this is pervaded by the Lord,” and reflects the belief that the ultimate reality is the ultimate source and sustainer of all things.

The Upanishads also teach the concept of reincarnation, the belief that the soul is reborn into a new body after death. The form that the soul takes in its next life is believed to be determined by the actions and thoughts of the previous life, a concept known as karma. The goal of the Upanishadic tradition is to break the cycle of reincarnation and achieve liberation.

Yoga and meditation are also important practices in the Upanishadic tradition. These practices are seen as a way to quiet the mind and achieve a state of inner peace and clarity. They are also believed to help the individual realize the unity of the self with the ultimate reality.

The Upanishads have had a significant influence on Hindu thought and have also been widely studied and revered in other religious and philosophical traditions. They are seen as a source of wisdom and insight into the nature of reality and the human condition. The teachings of the Upanishads continue to be studied and practiced by Hindus today and are an important part of the Hindu tradition.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

More from HinduFAQs

The Upanishads are ancient Hindu scriptures that contain philosophical and spiritual teachings on a wide range of topics. They are considered to be some of the foundational texts of Hinduism and have had a significant influence on the religion. In this blog post, we will compare the Upanishads with other ancient spiritual texts.

One way in which the Upanishads can be compared with other ancient spiritual texts is in terms of their historical context. The Upanishads are part of the Vedas, a collection of ancient Hindu scriptures that are thought to date back to the 8th century BCE or earlier. They are considered to be among the oldest sacred texts in the world. Other ancient spiritual texts that are similar in terms of their historical context include the Tao Te Ching and the Analects of Confucius, both of which are ancient Chinese texts that are thought to date back to the 6th century BCE.

The Upanishads are considered to be the crown jewel of the Vedas and are seen as the most important and influential texts of the collection. They contain teachings on the nature of the self, the nature of the universe, and the nature of the ultimate reality. They explore the relationship between the individual self and the ultimate reality, and offer insights into the nature of consciousness and the role of the individual in the cosmos. The Upanishads are meant to be studied and discussed in the context of a guru-student relationship and are seen as a source of wisdom and insight into the nature of reality and the human condition.

Another way to compare the Upanishads with other ancient spiritual texts is in terms of their content and themes. The Upanishads contain philosophical and spiritual teachings that are intended to help people understand the nature of reality and their place in the world. They explore a wide range of topics, including the nature of the self, the nature of the universe, and the nature of the ultimate reality. Other ancient spiritual texts that explore similar themes include the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching. The Bhagavad Gita is a Hindu text that contains teachings on the nature of the self and the ultimate reality, and the Tao Te Ching is a Chinese text that contains teachings on the nature of the universe and the role of the individual in the cosmos.

A third way to compare the Upanishads with other ancient spiritual texts is in terms of their influence and popularity. The Upanishads have had a significant influence on Hindu thought and have also been widely studied and revered in other religious and philosophical traditions. They are seen as a source of wisdom and insight into the nature of reality and the human condition. Other ancient spiritual texts that have had a similar level of influence and popularity include the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching. These texts have also been widely studied and revered in various religious and philosophical traditions and are seen as sources of wisdom and insight.

Overall, the Upanishads are an important and influential ancient spiritual text that can be compared with other ancient spiritual texts in terms of their historical context, content and themes, and influence and popularity. They offer a rich source of spiritual and philosophical teachings that continue to be studied and revered by people around the world.

Introduction

What do we mean by Founder? When we say a founder, we mean to say that someone has brought into existence a new faith or formulated a set of religious beliefs, principles and practices which were not in existence before. That cannot happen with a faith such as Hinduism, which is considered eternal. According to the scriptures, Hinduism is the religion of not just humans. Even gods and demons practice it. Ishwar (Ishwara), the Lord of the universe, is its source. He also practices it. Hence, Hinduism is God’s Dharma, brought down to the earth, just as the sacred River Ganga, for the welfare of the humans.

Who is then the Founder of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma)?

 Hinduism is not founded by a person or a prophet. Its source is God (Brahman) himself. Hence, it is considered an eternal religion (Sanatana dharma). Its first teachers were Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma, the creator God revealed the secret knowledge of the Vedas to gods, humans and demons in the beginning of creation. He also imparted to them the secret knowledge of the Self, but due to their own limitations, they understood it in their own ways.

Vishnu is the preserver. He preserves the knowledge of Hinduism through countless manifestations, associated gods, aspects, saints and seers to ensure the order and regularity of the worlds. Through them, he also restores the lost knowledge of various Yogas or introduces new reforms. Further, whenever the Hindu Dharma declines beyond a point, he incarnates upon earth to restore it and revive its forgotten or lost teachings. Vishnu exemplifies the duties which humans are expected to perform upon earth in their individual capacity as householders within their spheres.

Shiva too plays an important role in upholding Hindu Dharma. As the destroyer, he removes the impurities and confusion that creeps into our sacred knowledge. He is also considered the universal teacher and the source of various art and dance forms (Lalitakalas), Yogas, vocations, sciences, farming, agriculture, alchemy, magic, healing, medicine, Tantra and so on.

Thus, like the mystic Ashvattha Tree which is mentioned in the Vedas, the roots of Hinduism are in heaven, and its branches are spread out on earth. Its core is divine knowledge, which governs the conduct of not only humans but also of the beings in other worlds with God acting as its creator, preserver, concealer, revealer and remover of obstacles. Its core philosophy (the shruti) is eternal, while it changing parts (smriti) keep changing according to the time and circumstances, and the progress of the world. Containing in itself the diversity of God’s creation, it remains open to all possibilities, modifications and future discoveries.

Also Read: Prajapatis – the 10 sons of Lord Brahma

Many other divinities such as Ganesha, Prajapati, Indra, Shakti, Narada, Saraswati and Lakshmi are also credited with the authorship of many scriptures. Apart from this, countless scholars, seers, sages, philosophers, gurus, ascetic movements and teacher traditions enriched Hinduism through their teachings, writings, commentaries, discourses and expositions. Thus, Hinduism is derived from many sources. Many of its beliefs and practices found their way into other religions, that either originated in India or interacted with it.

Since Hinduism has its roots in the eternal knowledge and its aims and purpose are closely aligned to those of God as the Creator of all, it is considered an eternal religion (Sanatana dharma). Hinduism may disappear from the face of the earth due to the impermanent nature of the world, but the sacred knowledge which forms its foundation will remain forever and keep manifesting in each cycle of creation under different names. It is also said that Hinduism has no founder and no missionary goals because people have to come to it either by providence (birth) or personal decision due to their spiritual readiness (past karma).

The name Hinduism, which is derived from the root word, “Sindhu” came into usage due to historical reasons. Hinduism as a conceptual entity did not exist until the British times. The word itself does not appear in literature until the 17th Century A.D. In medieval times, the Indian subcontinent was known as Hindustan or the land of Hindus. They were not all practising same faith, but different ones, which included Buddhism, Jainism, Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Brahmanism and several ascetic traditions, sects and sub sects.

The native traditions and the people who practiced Sanatana Dharma went by different names, but not as Hindus. During the British times, all the native faiths were grouped under the generic name, “Hinduism” to distinguish it from Islam and Christianity and to dispense with justice or settle local disputes, property and tax matters.

Subsequently, after the independence, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were separated from it by enacting laws. Thus, the word Hinduism was born out of historical necessity and entered the constitutional laws of India through legislation.

Hinduism – Core Beliefs: Hinduism is not an organised religion, and its belief system has no single, structured approach to teaching it. Nor do Hindus, like the Ten Commandments, have a simple set of laws to obey. Throughout the Hindu world, local, regional, caste, and community-driven practices affect the understanding and practice of beliefs. Yet belief in a Supreme Being and adherence to certain principles such as Reality, dharma, and karma is a common thread across all these variations. And belief in the power of the Vedas (sacred scriptures) serves, to a large degree, as the very meaning of a Hindu, although it can differ greatly in how the Vedas are interpreted.

The major core beliefs that Hindus share includes the following listed below;

Hinduism Believes that Truth is Eternal.

Hindus are seeking knowledge and comprehension of the facts, the very existence of the world and the only truth. Truth is one, according to the Vedas, but it is expressed in a number of ways by the wise.

Hinduism Believes that Brahman is Truth and Reality.

As the only true God who is formless, infinite, all-inclusive, and eternal, Hindus believe in Brahman. Brahman which  is not an abstract in notion; it is a real entity that encompasses everything in the universe (seen and unseen).

Hinduism Believes that The Vedas are the Ultimate Authorities.

The Vedas are scriptures in Hindus containing revelations that ancient saints and sages have got. Hindus claim that the Vedas are without beginning and without end, the believe is that Vedas will remain until all else is destroyed in the universe (at the end of the period of time).

Hinduism Believes that Everyone Should Work Hard to Achieve Dharma.

The understanding of dharma concept allows one to understand the Hindu religion. No single English word, sadly, adequately covers its context. It is possible to define dharma as right conduct, fairness, moral law, and duty. Everyone who makes dharma central to one’s life seeks to do the right thing at all times, according to one’s duty and skills.

Hinduism Believes that Individual Souls are Immortal.

A Hindu claims that there is neither existence nor destruction of the individual soul (atman); it has been, it is, and it will be. The soul’s actions when living in a body require the same soul in a different body to reap the effects of those actions in the next life. The process of movement of the atman is known as transmigration from one body to another. Karma decides the kind of body the soul next inhabits (actions accumulated in previous lives).

The individual soul’s objective is moksha.

Moksha is liberation: the release of the soul from the death and rebirth period. It happens when, by recognize its true essence, the soul unites with Brahman. To this awareness and unification, many paths will lead: the path of obligation, the path of knowledge, and the path of devotion (unconditionally surrender to God).

Also Read: The Complete Story Of Jayadratha (जयद्रथ) The King Of Sindhu Kingdom

Hinduism – Core Beliefs: Other beliefs of Hinduism are:

  • Hindus believe in a single, all-pervading Supreme Being, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality, who is both immanent and transcendent.
  • Hindus believed in the divinity of the four Vedas, the most ancient scripture in the world, and as equally revealed, venerate the Agamas. These primordial hymns are the word of God and the cornerstone of the eternal faith, Sanatana Dharma.
  • Hindus conclude that infinite cycles of formation, preservation and dissolution are undergone by the universe.
  • Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each human, by his thoughts, words and deeds, creates his own destiny.
  • Hindus conclude that, after all karmas have been resolved, the soul reincarnates, developing over multiple births, and moksha, freedom from the rebirth cycle, is achieved. There will not be a single soul robbed of this destiny.
  • Hindus believe that there are supernatural forces in unknown worlds and that with these devas and gods, temple worship, rites, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion.
  • Hindus believe that understanding the Transcendent Absolute is necessary to an enlightened lord, or satguru, as is personal discipline, good behavior, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation, and surrender to God.
  • In thought, word and deed, Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be cherished and respected, and thus practice ahimsa, nonviolence.
  • Hindus believe that no religion, above all others, teaches the only way to redemption, but that all true paths are facets of the Light of God, worthy of tolerance and understanding.
  • Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world, has no beginning—it is followed by recorded history. It doesn’t have a human creator. It is a spiritual religion that leads the devotee to experience the Reality personally inside, eventually achieving the peak of consciousness where one is man and God.
  • There are four major denominations of Hinduism—Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism.
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x