Vedanta – the end of the Vedas

School of Yoga explains Vendanta and Upanishad


Vedanta – end of the Vedas

Upanishad means “sitting at the feet of”. Upanishads are considered to be texts which philosophically follow the Vedas, hence are also called Vedanta (end of the Vedas).

School of Yoga explains features of the Upanishads:

  • Upanishads are part of a collection of material called Vedanta (Veda + anta = end), meaning end of the Vedas.
  • All Upanishads deal more or less with the same subject. In fact, they explain the nature of the Brahman, the atman (soul), moksha (salvation) and the method of reaching it.
  • They are all generally believed to have been composed between 1000 BC and 1000 AD. Since, written scriptures were not common at the time, the Upanishads rely heavily on Sruti (speech/ verse).
  • Since, the most important Upanishads or mukhya Upanishads can be traced to the same period (1000 BC to 500 BC). Consequently, it is possible to assume that most of the authors were contemporaries and found different methods to reach the same goal.
  • Also, Buddhism was founded around the same period (Gautama Buddha – between 580 BC and 400 BC) as was Jainism as founded by Mahavira (between 480 BC and 408 BC). Hence, there is likely overlap of concepts and practices between the three major philosophical schools.

School of Yoga explains types of Upanishad:

Though more than 108 Upanishads are known to exist, 12 are considered important of principal Upanishads (Mukhya Upanishad). These are:

  1. Isa Upanishad, part of Shukla (White) Yajurveda – approximately 17-18 verses.
  2. Kena Upanishad, part of Talavakara Brahmana of Samaveda – 28 main + 6 epilogue = 34 verses
  3. Katha Upanishad, part of Krishna (Black) Yajurveda – divided into two chapters, each with three subdivisions.
  4. Prashna Upanishad, part of Atharvaveda. It answers 6 questions and is set in three chapters and six sections.
  5. Mundaka Upanishad, part of Atharvaveda contains 64 verses divided into 3 parts (mundakams), each having two sections.
  6. Mandukya Upanishad, part of Atharvaveda contains 12 short verses and discusses the nature of “Om” and 4 states of consciousness.
  7. Taittriya Upanishad, part of Krishna (Black) Yajurveda is structured into 3 chapters, SikshaValli having 12 lessons, AnandaValli having 9 lessons and BrighuValli having 10 lessons, totaling to 31 lessons.
  8. Aitareya Upanishad, part of Rig Veda comprises the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of the second book of Aitareya Aranyaka which is one of the four layers of Rig Veda.
  9. Chandogyopanishad is a part of Samaveda contains eight Prapathakas or chapters with many volumes and verses. It is one of the oldest Upanishads.
  10. Brhadaranyaka Upanishad is a part of Shukla (White) Yajurveda. It contains 6 chapters Shvetashvatara Upanishad is a part of Krishna (dark) Yajurveda, arranged in 6 chapters containing 113 verses.
  11. Kaushitaki Upanishad is a common Upanishad, originally part of Rig Veda. It is arranged in 4 chapters containing 5,15, 9 and 20 verses respectively.
  12. Maitri Upanishad is a part of Krishna Yajurveda arranged in seven lessons

The following two ideas dominate the teaching of all the Upanishads:

  • Final emancipation can be attained only by knowledge of the Ultimate Reality, or Brahman (Brahmajnana).
  • He who is equipped with the four means of salvation, viz. Vivekam (discrimination), Vairagyam (dispassion), Shad Sampatha (the six-fold treasure; self-control, etc.) and Mumukshutvam (yearning for liberation), can attain Brahman.

What you should know after reading this blog on Vedanta;

  1. What is Vedanta? What are Upanishads?
  2. How are they related to the Vedas?
  3. What is the central theme of the Upanishads?
  4. How many Upanishads exist? Which are important?
  5. How are the various Upanishads attached to Vedas?
  6. What is the central theme of the Upanishads?
Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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