Upadesasahasri (Upadeśasāhasri), which literally means "a thousand teachings", is an 8th-century CE Sanskrit text of Adi Shankara. Considered a Prakaraṇa grantha, the Upadesasahasri is considered among Shankara's most important non-commentarial works.
Upadesasahasri is divided into two parts – one is in metric verse and another is in prose. There are nineteen chapters (prakarana) in the verse (or Metrical Part (Padyabandha). The manuscript of this work indicates that the two parts (prose and verse) were regarded as independent works and studied or commented upon separately. Manuscript also suggests the possibility that any single chapter could be studied differently – apart from the rest. This means one could/can start reading this work anywhere.
In Chapter 1, it states that teacher is the pilot as the student walks in the journey of knowledge, he is the raft as the student rows. The text describes the need, role and characteristics of a teacher, as follows,
The teacher is one who is endowed with the power of furnishing arguments pro and con, of understanding questions [of the student], and remembers them. The teacher possesses tranquility, self-control, compassion and a desire to help others, who is versed in the Śruti texts (Vedas, Upanishads), and unattached to pleasures here and hereafter, knows the subject and established in that knowledge. He is never a transgressor of the rules of conduct, devoid of weaknesses such as ostentation, pride, deceit, cunning, jugglery, jealousy, falsehood, egotism and attachment. The teacher's sole aim is to help others and a desire to impart the knowledge.— Adi Shankara, Upadesha Sahasri 1.6
When the teacher find from signs that knowledge has not been grasped or has been wrongly grasped by the student, he should remove the causes of non-comprehension in the student. This includes the student's past and present knowledge, want of previous knowledge of what constitutes subjects of discrimination and rules of reasoning, behavior such as unrestrained conduct and speech, courting popularity, vanity of his parentage, ethical flaws that are means contrary to those causes. The teacher must enjoin means in the student that are enjoined by the Śruti and Smrti, such as avoidance of anger, Yamas consisting of Ahimsa and others, also the rules of conduct that are not inconsistent with knowledge. He [teacher] should also thoroughly impress upon the student qualities like humility, which are the means to knowledge.
On Smriti and Self
Adi Shankara states in prose paragraph 1.24 that, "Smriti texts elucidate the same truth [as Sruti], that is all gods are the Self, know the individual Self to be myself, the same in all beings". In the metric verse part of the text (prakarana), chapters 17 and 18 similarly state for example,
आत्मलाभात् परो नान्यो लाभः कश्चन विद्यते ।
यदर्था वेदवादाश्च स्मार्ताश्चापि तु याः क्रियाः ॥
There is no attainment higher than the attainment of the Atman (Self).
For that is the purpose for which the teachings of the Vedas, the Smritis and the Kriya (rites and ritual actions) are there.
स्वसंवेद्यत्वपर्यायः स्वप्रमाणक इष्यताम् ।
निवृत्तावह्मः सिद्धः स्वात्मनोऽनुभवश्च नः ॥
Therefore accept the Self as self-evident, which means the same thing as self-knowable.
The knowledge of the Innermost Self according to us thus becomes possible when the ego vanishes.— Adi Shankara, Upadesha Sahasri 2.18.203
On ritual idol worship
Adi Shankara, in verse 1.25 to 1.26, discourages ritual worship and oblations to Deva (God), because that assumes the Self within is different than Brahman. The "doctrine of difference" is wrong, asserts Shankara, because, "he who knows the Brahman is one and he is another, does not know Brahman". However, prior to this declaration, Shankara asserts that the Self-knowledge is understood and realized when one's mind is purified by observation of Yamas (ethical precepts) such Ahimsa (non-injury, non-violence to others in body, mind and thoughts). Rituals and rites such as yajna (a fire ritual) can help draw and prepare the mind for the journey to Self-knowledge.
On discrimination between people and living beings
In verses 1.26-1.28, Upadesasahasri states that any Bheda (discrimination) based on class or caste or parentage is a mark of inner error and lack of liberating knowledge. In verse 1.29, Shankara states the Sruti text explain all creatures here, whether a tiger or another, are part of One, that one becomes a Brahman when one fully realizes the knowledge of non-difference. Anyone who refers to "classes or orders of life", or treats himself as different from any other creature, lacks that knowledge of "one's identity with supreme self", states verse 1.30.
One, who is eager to realize this right knowledge spoken of in the Sruti, should rise above the desire for a son, for wealth, for this world and the next, which are described in a five-fold manner, and are the outcome of a false reference to the Self of Varna (castes, colors, classes) and orders of life. These references are contradictory to right knowledge, and reasons are given by the Srutis regarding the prohibition of the acceptance of difference. For when the knowledge that the one non-dual Atman (Self) is beyond phenomenal existence is generated by the scriptures and reasoning, there cannot exist a knowledge side by side that is contradictory or contrary to it.— Adi Shankara, Upadesha Sahasri 1.44
On education as discovery between teacher and student
Disciple asked, "Sir, is the mutual superimposition of the body and the Self made by the combination of the body or by the Self?"
The teacher said, "Does it matter if it be made by the one or the other?"— Adi Shankara, Upadesha Sahasri 2.62 - 2.63
Adi Shankara writes, in verse 2.14.40 of Upadeshasahasri, that "the mind is a place of pilgrimage where the gods, all knowledge [Vedas] and all other purifying agencies become one; a bath in that place of pilgrimage makes one immortal".
- Śaṅkarācārya; Sengaku Mayeda (1979). A Thousand Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. SUNY Press. pp. 15–. ISBN 978-0-7914-0944-2. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- Knut A. Jacobsen (1 January 2008). Theory and Practice of Yoga : 'Essays in Honour of Gerald James Larson. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-81-208-3232-9. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- N. V. Isaeva (1993). Shankara and Indian Philosophy. SUNY Press. pp. 220–. ISBN 978-0-7914-1281-7. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion. Routledge. pp. 98–. ISBN 978-1-134-18001-1. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, page 1 verse 1; OCLC 218363449; Sanskrit: अथ मोक्षसाधनोपदेशविधिं व्याख्यास्यामो मुमुक्षूणां श्रद्दधानानामर्थिनामर्थाय ॥ १॥ (Source)
- Śaṅkarācārya; Sengaku Mayeda (2006). A Thousand Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. SUNY Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-8120827714.
- S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, page 5; OCLC 218363449
- Sanskrit: शिष्यस्य ज्ञानग्रहणं च लिन्गैर्बुद्ध्वा तदग्रहणहेतूनधर्म लौकिकप्रमादनित्यानित्य(वस्तु) विवेकविषयासञ्जातदृढपूर्वश्रुतत्व-लोक-चिन्तावेक्षण-जात्याद्यभिमानादींस्तत्प्रतिपक्षैः श्रुतिस्मृतिविहितैरपनयेदक्रोधादिभिरहिंसादिभिश्च यमैर्ज्ञानाविरुद्धैश्च नियमैः ॥ ४॥ अमानित्वादिगुणं च ज्ञानोपायं सम्यग् ग्राहयेत् ॥ ५॥ Source;
English Translation:S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, pages 3-4; OCLC 218363449
- Karl Potter (2008), Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies Vol. III, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120803107, pages 218-219
- Sanskrit:Upadesha sahasri
English Translation: S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, page 16; OCLC 218363449
- S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, page 192; OCLC 218363449; Note: some manuscripts have slightly different numbering, and some different chapter sequencing; this verse appears as 2.18.200 or 1.18.203 in some manuscripts.
- Sengaku Mayeda (Translator) (2006). A Thousand Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 159–160. ISBN 8120827716.
- contextually, this is described in preceding verses as the "doctrine of difference"; that is, when a person sees his own Self, Soul, Atman as different from the Self, Soul, Atman of any other person
- S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, page 278; OCLC 218363449; Note: some manuscripts have slightly different numbering, and some different chapter sequencing; this verse appears as 2.18.200 or 1.18.203 in some manuscripts.
- Sanskrit:Upadesha sahasri
English Translation: S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, page 16-17; OCLC 218363449
- Sanskrit:Upadesha sahasri
English Translation: S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, page 17-19; OCLC 218363449
- See Brihadaranyaka Upanishad chapter 1.4
- English Translation: S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, page 32; OCLC 218363449;
Sanskrit: तच् चैतत् परमार्थदर्शनं प्रतिपत्तुमिच्छता वर्णाश्रमाद्यभिमान-कृतपाञ्क्तरूपपुत्रवित्तलोकैषणादिभ्यो व्युत्थानं कर्तव्यम् । सम्यक्प्रत्ययविरोधात् तदभिमानस्य भेददर्शनप्रतिषेधार्थोपपत्तिश्चोपपद्यते । न ह्येकस्मिन्नात्मन्यसंसारित्वबुद्धौ शास्त्रन्यायोत्पादितायां तद्विपरीता बुद्धिर्भवति । न ह्य् अग्नौ शितत्वबुद्धिः, शरीरे वाजरामरणबुद्धिः । तस्मादविद्याकार्यत्वात् सर्वकर्मणां तत्साधनानां च यज्ञोपवीतादीनां परमार्थदर्शनिष्टेन त्यागः कर्तव्यः ॥ ४४॥ Upadesha sahasri
- Sanskrit: Upadesha sahasri;
English Translation: S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, prose section, page 43; OCLC 218363449
- Sanskrit: Upadesha sahasri;
English Translation: S Jagadananda (Translator, 1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978-8171200597, page 147; OCLC 218363449
- Sengaku Mayeda (Translator) (2006). A Thousand Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 139. ISBN 8120827716.
- Upadesha sahasri (Sanskrit Original)
- Book Review: Liturgy of Liberation: A Christian Commentary on Shankara's Upadesasahasri by Reid B. Locklin, Reviewer: Anantanand Rambachan (2012), Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, Vol. 25, Article 19
- The Authenticity of the Upadesha Sahasri Ascribed to Saṅkara, Sengaku Mayeda (1965), Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 85, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun 1965), pages 178-196