UPANISHAD - THE UPANISHADS Professor Russell Kirkland...

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THE UPANISHADS Professor Russell Kirkland Department of Religion University of Georgia 1. The Term " Upanishad " Literally, "to sit down close around." Hence: "a teaching session," "a circle of initiated students," and finally the "secret doctrine" that was taught to them. The word was first used to refer to short statements and secret formulae that contained the essence of the doctrine. Later it came to refer to entire texts that dealt with esoteric knowledge. Eventually, this tradition came to be called Vedanta, which means "the end or conclusion of the Vedas." The texts called Upanishads came to be regarded as forming the concluding section of the Vedic corpus. Though today they are in the public domain, remember that they were originally secret. 2. Number and Chronology of the Upanishads The earliest Upanishads were pre-Buddhist, i.e., circa 800-600 BCE. Texts called Upanishads continued to be composed long into the Common Era, resulting in a total of over 200, but the traditional number is 108. Only 13 of the Upanishads are regarded as " classical ." These (sometimes called the Vedic Upanishads) were composed during three periods: 1. The Ancient Prose Upanishads (before sixth century BCE) Brhadaranyaka Chandogya Taittir a ya Aitareya Kaus a taki Kena 2. The Metrical Upanishads (sixth-fifth centuries BCE) Katha aaa avetaavatara Mundaka Mahanarayana 3. The Later Prose Upanishads (late fifth to early fourth centuries BCE) Praana Maitri Mandukya
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3. Fundamental Points The Upanishads do not all teach the same doctrine. Various views, some obsolete and contradictory, are recorded side by side with the more famous doctrines. None of the
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course EDUCATION 190 taught by Professor Hull during the Winter '10 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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UPANISHAD - THE UPANISHADS Professor Russell Kirkland...

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