Principal Upanishads

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Principal Upanishads, also known as Mukhya Upanishads, are the most ancient and widely studied Upanishads of Hinduism. Composed between 800 BCE to the start of common era, these texts are connected to the Vedic tradition.[1]


The Principal Upanishads, which were composed probably between 600 and 300 BCE, constitute the concluding portion of the Veda.[2] According to most Hinduism traditions, ten Upanishads are considered as Principal Upanishads, but some scholars now are including Śvetāśvatara, Kauṣītaki and Maitrāyaṇīya into the list.[3][4][5] The founders of the major schools of Vedanta, viz, Adi Shankara and Madhvacharya wrote bhāṣyas (commentaries) on these ten Principal Upanishads. Even though Ramanuja did not write individual commentaries on Principal Upanishads, he quoted many hundreds of quotations from Upanishads in his Sri Bhasya. In the Ramanuja lineage, one of his followers, Rangaramanuja, wrote commentaries on almost all of the Principal Upanishads around the 1600s.[6][7]

The ten Principal Upanishads are:

  1. Īśā (IsUp), Yajurveda
  2. Kena (KeUp), Samaveda
  3. Kaṭha (KaUp), Yajurveda
  4. Praśna (PrUp), Atharvaveda
  5. Muṇḍaka (MuUp), Atharvaveda
  6. Māṇḍūkya (MaUp), Atharvaveda
  7. Taittirīya (TaiUp), Yajurveda
  8. Aitareya, (AiUp), Rigveda
  9. Chāndogya (ChhUp), Samaveda
  10. Bṛhadāraṇyaka (BṛUp), Yajurveda

The Principal Upanishads are accepted as śruti by all Hindus, or the most important scriptures of Hinduism.[8] The Principal Upanishads are separated into three categories: prose (Taittirīya, Aitareya, Chāndogya, Bṛhadāraṇyaka), verse (Īśā, Kaṭha, Muṇḍaka), and prose (classical Sanskrit) (Māṇḍūkya).[2]

Translations and works[edit]

Here is a list of works on the Upanishads:

  • Deussen, Paul (1897). Sixty Upanishads of the Veda. Motilal Banarsidass Publications. ISBN 9788120814684.
  • Edgerton, Franklin (1965). The Beginnings of Indian Philosophy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674064003.
  • Hume, Robert Ernest (1921). The Thirteen Principal Upanishads. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195637434.
  • Johnston, Charles (2014) [1920-1931]. The Mukhya Upanishads. Kshetra Books. ISBN 9780195637434.
  • Radhakrishnan, Sarvapalli (1994) [1953]. The Principal Upanishads. New Delhi: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9788172231248.
  • Swami Gambhirananda (1957). Eight Upanishads With the Commentary of Shankaracharya. Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata. ISBN 8175050152.
  • Yeats, William Butler; Shri Purohit Swami (1938). The Ten Principal Upanishads. Repro Books Limited. ISBN 9788129100740.


  1. ^ William K. Mahony (1998). The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination. State University of New York Press. p. 271. ISBN 978-0-7914-3579-3.
  2. ^ a b Brereton, Joel (1990). de Bary, William Theodore; Bloom, Irene (eds.). The Upanishads. Approaches to the Asian Classics. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 115–135. ISBN 0231070047.
  3. ^ John G. Arapura (2012). Gnosis and the Question of Thought in Vedānta: Dialogue with the Foundations. Springer. p. 57. ISBN 978-94-009-4339-1.; Quote: "These are the Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Aitareya, Taittiriya, Brhadaranyaka, Chandogya and Svetasvatara. To this list is usually added the Kausitaki and Maitrayaniya (or Maitri) to make the thirteen Principal Upanishads, a canon which has found favour with most scholars of the present day."
  4. ^ Hume, Robert Ernest (1921), The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Oxford University Press
  5. ^ Edward Fitzpatrick Crangle (1994). The Origin and Development of Early Indian Contemplative Practices. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 8, 12. ISBN 978-3-447-03479-1.
  6. ^ Madabhushini Narasimhacharya (2004). Sri Ramanuja. Sahitya Akademi. p. 32. ISBN 9788126018338. As for Ramanuja, his commentary on the Gita and the Brahmasutra are quite well known as conforming to this practice . But he did not write any regular commentary on the Upanishads as other philosophers like, say, Sankara and Anandatirtha (Madhva) did.
  7. ^ Stephen Phillips (26 June 2009). Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy. Columbia University Press. p. 309. ISBN 9780231144858.
  8. ^ Kim Knott (2016). Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-0-19-874554-9.

External links[edit]