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Upanishads (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature)

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Upanishads are mankind's oldest works of philosophy, predating the earliest Greek philosophy. They are the concluding part of the Vedas, the ancient Indian sacred literature, and mark the culmination of a tradition of speculative thought first expressed in the Rig-Veda more than 4000 years ago. Remarkable for their meditative depth, spirit of doubt and intellectual honesty Upanishads are mankind's oldest works of philosophy, predating the earliest Greek philosophy. They are the concluding part of the Vedas, the ancient Indian sacred literature, and mark the culmination of a tradition of speculative thought first expressed in the Rig-Veda more than 4000 years ago. Remarkable for their meditative depth, spirit of doubt and intellectual honesty, the Upanishads are concerned with the knowledge of the Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, and Man's relationship with it. The name Upanishad is derived from the face-to-face mode of imparting knowledge - in the utmost sanctity and secrecy, to prevent its trivialisation or perversion. Composed in Sanskrit between 900 and 600 BC, the Upanishads presented here are by far the oldest and most important of those that exist. Twelve were first translated more than a hundred years ago, and have been extensively revised and edited. The thirteenth is an entirely new translation by Suren Navlakha.


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Upanishads are mankind's oldest works of philosophy, predating the earliest Greek philosophy. They are the concluding part of the Vedas, the ancient Indian sacred literature, and mark the culmination of a tradition of speculative thought first expressed in the Rig-Veda more than 4000 years ago. Remarkable for their meditative depth, spirit of doubt and intellectual honesty Upanishads are mankind's oldest works of philosophy, predating the earliest Greek philosophy. They are the concluding part of the Vedas, the ancient Indian sacred literature, and mark the culmination of a tradition of speculative thought first expressed in the Rig-Veda more than 4000 years ago. Remarkable for their meditative depth, spirit of doubt and intellectual honesty, the Upanishads are concerned with the knowledge of the Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, and Man's relationship with it. The name Upanishad is derived from the face-to-face mode of imparting knowledge - in the utmost sanctity and secrecy, to prevent its trivialisation or perversion. Composed in Sanskrit between 900 and 600 BC, the Upanishads presented here are by far the oldest and most important of those that exist. Twelve were first translated more than a hundred years ago, and have been extensively revised and edited. The thirteenth is an entirely new translation by Suren Navlakha.

30 review for Upanishads (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark Noce

    Easily one of the most important books ever written. Unlike more linear Western philosophy/religion, the Upanishads is much more cyclical and requires meditation to really grasp even a few of the endless concepts tightly packed within these pages. What I found particularly interesting is how positive and upbeat the entire work is. The statements throughout are applicable to any person's life regardless of religion or condition. The openness of the Upanishad's philosophy makes it compatible with Easily one of the most important books ever written. Unlike more linear Western philosophy/religion, the Upanishads is much more cyclical and requires meditation to really grasp even a few of the endless concepts tightly packed within these pages. What I found particularly interesting is how positive and upbeat the entire work is. The statements throughout are applicable to any person's life regardless of religion or condition. The openness of the Upanishad's philosophy makes it compatible with many other belief systems because it is not exclusionist. How can you not enjoy a book that quite succinctly states "You are immortal, you are unchangeable, you are imperishable."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scribe

    Finished last night after a few months. Not quite sure how to review this one. I've read taoist books over the years, and grew up with the bible. The Upanishads kind of fits in somewhere alongside these, but also not. The Tao te Ching raises questions. The Upanishads is full of something closer to answers - in terms of how it communicates its ideas. Which is to say, I found the overlap with the taoist texts interesting - mainly snippets about paths, but more around the role that dreaming and dream Finished last night after a few months. Not quite sure how to review this one. I've read taoist books over the years, and grew up with the bible. The Upanishads kind of fits in somewhere alongside these, but also not. The Tao te Ching raises questions. The Upanishads is full of something closer to answers - in terms of how it communicates its ideas. Which is to say, I found the overlap with the taoist texts interesting - mainly snippets about paths, but more around the role that dreaming and dreamless sleep play (which Chuang Tzu and Liu I-ming mention a few times). The true meaning of "aum/om" is massive, in this sense. Overall, a dense and often repetitive text but with sound reason and a lot to take in and understand. I'll keep this and refer back to all the sticky bookmarks I've put in place, until such time that I can burn it and escape this body.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter J.

    I greatly enjoyed the first volume of this two part translation by Max Mueller. It is challenging to know how to describe it though. Mr. Mueller is correct in his introduction where he describes how readers of ancient oriental texts should prepare themselves to be both lifted to shockingly brilliant thoughts and just as frequently, or perhaps more so, left disappointed after reading something either childish or cruel. This work did just that to me. I was stunned at the introspection and depth at I greatly enjoyed the first volume of this two part translation by Max Mueller. It is challenging to know how to describe it though. Mr. Mueller is correct in his introduction where he describes how readers of ancient oriental texts should prepare themselves to be both lifted to shockingly brilliant thoughts and just as frequently, or perhaps more so, left disappointed after reading something either childish or cruel. This work did just that to me. I was stunned at the introspection and depth at times (e.g. Discussion on the highest Brahma residing within everything) and sadly disappointed at others (e.g. Souls going to the moon). I can only assume that this is because this work was a living document whose parts ranged from ~600bc-~1400ad. Some of the authors during this massive length of time were bound to be less insightful than others. Considering how impressed Apollonius of Tyana was with the wisdom of the ancient Brahman sages, I wonder if the older parts are the more insightful ones.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Natacha Pavlov

    Although I’ve briefly explored some concepts of Hinduism through a college religion course I took years ago, The Upanishads was my first actual Vedic read. The text focuses on man’s relation with the Self and the importance of making this his priority. Some of the themes include the concept of the ultimate reality known as 'brahman', salvation, attachment vs. detachment (freedom from want), the importance of thoughts, and the divine nature of the incantation 'Om'. Some of the concepts were unfam Although I’ve briefly explored some concepts of Hinduism through a college religion course I took years ago, The Upanishads was my first actual Vedic read. The text focuses on man’s relation with the Self and the importance of making this his priority. Some of the themes include the concept of the ultimate reality known as 'brahman', salvation, attachment vs. detachment (freedom from want), the importance of thoughts, and the divine nature of the incantation 'Om'. Some of the concepts were unfamiliar and thought-provoking (namely the ones dealing with moral issues). While it’s a fairly easy read, I did sometimes feel confused which is likely the result of my limited background on Vedic literature.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachna Dhand

    Read Isa Upanishads from 416 onwards. Mesmerizing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lenny

    AUM, Atman-Brahman, tat tvam asi.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kafkasfriend

    By far the most important and best interpretation

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ghida Mouazen

    Similar to any other religious bullshit.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie Anderson

    So good. Will find more sacred texts!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    This is good stuff.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Prateeksha S

    Pinnacle of Indian verse

  12. 5 out of 5

    Evo

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hannibal Wolong

  14. 5 out of 5

    Burke PETERSON

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lloyd-Billington

  16. 4 out of 5

    L.A. Adolf

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

  19. 5 out of 5

    aldo zirsov

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sadda Reddy

  21. 5 out of 5

    A.J. Lanae

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Sluis

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Thickett

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alford Wayman

  25. 5 out of 5

    Greeshma

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Seiler

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sunil

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karthick

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sondra Faye

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lloyd-Billington

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