Shakta Upanishads

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Shakta Upanishads are a group of minor Upanishads of Hinduism related to the Shaktism theology of a Goddess (Devi) as the Supreme Being.[1][2] There are 8 Shakta Upanishads in the Muktika anthology of 108 Upanishads.[3] They, along with other minor Upanishads, are generally classified separate from the thirteen major Principal Upanishads considered to be from the ancient Vedic tradition.[4]

The Shakta Upanishads also contrast from other groups of minor Upanishads, such as the Samanya Upanishads which are of a generic nature, the Sannyasa Upanishads which focus on the Hindu renunciation and monastic practice, the Yoga Upanishads related to Yoga, the Shaiva Upanishads which highlight aspects of Shaivism, and the Vaishnava Upanishads which highlight Vaishnavism.[4][5]

Composed in medieval India, the Shakta Upanishads are among the most recent minor Upanishads, and constitute an important source of information on Devi worship and Tantra-related theology.[6][7] Some Shakta Upanishads exist in more than one version.[8][9]

The Shakta Upanishads are notable for declaring and revering the feminine as the Supreme, the primal cause and the metaphysical concepts in Hinduism called Brahman and Atman (soul).[10][11] The philosophical premises in many Shakta Upanishads, states June McDaniel, is syncretism of Samkhya and Advaita Vedanta schools of Hindu philosophy, called Shaktadavaitavada (literally, the path of monistic Shakti).[12]


The composition dates and authors of the Shakta Upanishads are unknown. Patrick Olivelle states that sectarian Upanishads attached to Atharvaveda were likely composed in the second millennium, until about the 16th century.[13] The Shakta Upanishads, states Denise Cush, were composed between the 12th- and 15th-century CE.[14]

List of 8 Shakta Upanishads[edit]

List of the Shakta Upanishads according to Muktikā anthology
Title Muktikā Serial Number Attached Veda Period of creation
Sita Upanishad 45 Atharva Veda At least 10,000 Years Before
Tripuratapini Upanishad 80 Atharva Veda At least 10,000 Years Before
Devi Upanishad 81 Atharva Veda At least 10,000 Years Before
Tripura Upanishad 82 Rigveda At least 10,000 Years Before
Bhavana Upanishad 84 Atharva Veda At least 10,000 Years Before
Saubhagyalakshmi Upanishad 105 Rigveda At least 10,000 Years Before
Sarasvati-rahasya Upanishad 106 Krishna Yajurveda At least 10,000 Years Before
Bahvricha Upanishad 107 Rigveda At least 10,000 Years Before

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brooks 1992, pp. 76–80.
  2. ^ McDaniel 2004, p. 90.
  3. ^ Deussen 1997, p. 556.
  4. ^ a b Mahony 1998, p. 271.
  5. ^ Winternitz & Sarma 1996, p. =217–224 with footnotes.
  6. ^ Brooks 1990, pp. xiii–xiv.
  7. ^ Mahadevan 1975, pp. 235.
  8. ^ Gudrun Buhnemann (1996), Review: The Secret of the Three Cities: An Introduction to Hindu Śakta Tantrism, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 116, Number 3, page 606
  9. ^ Brooks 1990, p. 34.
  10. ^ McDaniel 2004, pp. 89–90.
  11. ^ Brooks 1990, pp. 77–78.
  12. ^ McDaniel 2004, pp. 89–91.
  13. ^ Olivelle 2008, p. xxxiii.
  14. ^ Cush 2007, p. 740.


  • Brooks, Douglas Renfrew (1990). The Secret of the Three Cities. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226075693.
  • Brooks, Douglas Renfrew (1992). Auspicious Wisdom. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791411452.
  • Cush, Denise; et al. (2007). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Routledge. ISBN 978-0700712670.
  • Deussen, Paul (1997). Sixty Upanishads of the Veda. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1467-7.
  • Mahadevan, T. M. P. (1975). Upaniṣads: Selections from 108 Upaniṣads. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1611-4.
  • Mahony, William K. (1998). The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-3579-3.
  • McDaniel, June (2004). Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-534713-5.
  • Olivelle, Patrick (2008). Upanisads. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-954025-9.
  • Winternitz, Moriz; Sarma, V. Srinivasa (1996). A History of Indian Literature. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0264-3.