Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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In 1953, shortly after arriving in Delhi, Nehru sent Freda to Burma as the Indian representative of a UNESCO mission. For the first time in her life Freda found herself in a rich and exclusively Buddhist country. The impact was immediate and galvanic. Surrounded by hundreds of pagodas and thousands of monks roaming the streets in saffron robes, she instantly felt she had come home.

“When I set foot on that soil, the Golden Temple, the monks with their begging bowls, suddenly it was déjà vu. Without understanding anything much about Buddhism, I knew. This is The Way, this is what I have been looking for. I saw the whole thing,” she said. Freda was forty-two years old. Her long, diligent quest to find her true spiritual path was finally over. It had taken thirty-eight years, since her first days of sitting in her local church in Derby before school trying to meditate. Curiously, in spite of her remarkable effort and conscientiousness in searching and trying out the world’s great religious traditions, she had never come across Buddhism before, even though the Buddha had been born, taught, and attained enlightenment in India. His message had thrived there for over seven hundred years, until the Mughals invaded in the thirteenth century. They had swept in from the Middle East, destroying the renowned Nalanda University, hailed as the greatest center of learning in Asia, and setting fire to the largest Buddhist library in the ancient world, which allegedly burned for three months. Thousands of Buddhist monks and scholars fled into obscurity in the Himalayan kingdoms, from where Buddhism spread to the Far East and Southeast Asia. From then on, the Buddha was incorporated into the pantheon of Hindu gods and was regarded as a mythological figure.

Burma now boasted some of the most accomplished Buddhist meditation masters on the planet. Freda wasted no time seeking them out. As usual she went straight to the top.

Sayadaw U Thittila Aggamahapandita was vice president of the World Fellowship of Buddhists and spoke excellent English. He agreed to teach Freda personally for eight weeks. The regime was tough and exceptionally rigorous, demanding she be aware of each detail involved in every activity – walking, eating, brushing teeth, putting on shoes, blinking. Every breath was accompanied by awareness. And then awareness itself was watched by awareness….

“I remember Sayadaw U Pandita telling me, ‘If you get a realization, or a flash, it may not be sitting on your meditation cushion in front of an image of the Buddha. It will probably be somewhere you least expect it.”

That’s precisely what happened. Freda had what she called her enlightenment experience “while I was walking with the Commission through the streets of Kyaukme, in northern Burma. Suddenly I saw the flow of things, the meaning and the connection. It was the first real flash of understanding. I can’t explain exactly what it was because it was beyond words. But it opened so many gates and showed me things I’d been trying to find for a very long time,” she explained. She revealed to a few close friends that her Damascene experience had lasted for hours and was accompanied by great bliss.

A window had been opened, a transcendental window giving a glimpse into another reality. The afterschock was dramatic. “We got a phone call back in Delhi that Mummy had collapsed and we had to bring her home from Burma immediately,” says Ranga. “Of course we had no money, so we went around to Nehru and Indira’s house and they provided the plane fare to fetch her home and an ambulance to meet her at the airport.” Continuing her tour was now out of the question.

“When she arrived, it was shocking. Mummy didn’t recognize anyone. For weeks she stayed in her bed, getting up just to go to the bathroom. That’s as far as she would go. She wouldn’t talk or register anything in the outside world. She’d eat the food put in front of her like an automaton. If you looked at her, it was like looking into a stone wall. She never saw you. It was as though she were catatonic. It was terrifying for all of us – except Papa. He didn’t seem concerned at all. He said it was all happening as it should and that it would work out all right. He was correct. After about six weeks she began to show signs of improvement. Her face became more expressive and she began to interact with us. But it took about three months before she was back to normal.”

Gradually she resumed her work and tried to get back to her old life, but she had irrevocably changed. After Burma she was going in a different direction, and nothing was going to be the same. The first to feel the impact was BPL. Their marriage of twenty years had been founded on love, intellectual compatibility, and their shared vision of an independent India. That last job had been completed. Freda knew with certainty that that phase of her life was over. Her heart and her path now belonged to the Buddha.

She calmly sat her husband down and announced, “I’ve been searching all my life, but it’s the Buddhist monks who have been able to show me what it is that I have been looking for. I am a Buddhist from now on – and I have taken a personal vow of a brahmacharya,” she said, referring to the vow of celibacy said to induce spiritual purity and enhance one’s capacity for divine happiness.

BPL took the news remarkably well....

Another reason that BPL took Freda’s news with such equanimity was that his inner life was running along parallel lines. For some time he had been following his own spiritual quest and was undergoing his own enlightenment experience. It bore all the hallmarks of his originality. “He would sit still for hours without moving. He would babble in voices we didn’t understand. He’d go up onto the roof and stand for hours with his arms outstretched toward a shrine of a Sufi saint,” said Kabir. “We called the doctor, but Papa just smiled at him. ‘What I’m going through is beyond you,’ he told him. The doctor nevertheless insisted on examining him. ‘You won’t find a pulse,’ said Papa. He was right. The astonished doctor left.

“Father started going on walks, discovering the graves of Sufi saints in the area, telling us where they were, both marked and unmarked. He started to do automatic writing. Word got out and people started coming to the house with their problems. Papa would listen, then begin writing, and eventually hand them sheets of paper with answers to their troubles on them. In time he became quite a healer and was known as Baba Bedi, the name given to a holy man.”

Having lost touch with its glorious heritage of classical scholarship, the Muslim world today is divided in squabbles between two opposing camps, who despite their respective deviations, are both attempting to usurp the right to represent orthodox Islam. The Wahhabis and Salafis are the product of a British strategy to undermine Islamic tradition and create fundamentalism. While the Sufis are their most vocal and articulate critics, rightly pointing out their corruptions, they themselves are part of a similar conspiracy, again with close ties to Western intelligence and the occult.

The New Age movement, following the teachings of a leading disciple of H. P. Blavatsky, believes that the coming of the Age of Aquarius will herald the beginning of world peace and one-world government, headed by the Maitreya, who is said to be awaited also by Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, though he is known by these believers respectively as Christ, Messiah, the fifth Buddha, Krishna or Imam Mahdi. The New Age’s expectation of the Mahdi awaited by the Muslims has been nurtured through its relationship with Sufism.

Essentially, the pretext of the occult is that in the future the world will be united in peace by eliminating all sectarianism, when the world will be brought together under a single belief system. The basis of that belief will be the occult tradition, which it is claimed has been the underlying source of all exoteric religions. As such, since at least the middle of the eighteenth century, occultists have marketed Sufism as being the origin of Freemasonry.

According to Idries Shah, the twelfth century Qadiriyya Sufi order was the origin of the Rosicrucians, the most important occult movement after the Renaissance, who later evolved into the Freemasons. As detailed in Black Terror White Soldiers, the Rosicrucians were responsible for orchestrating the advent of Sabbatai Zevi, who took the Jewish world by storm in 1666 when he declared himself their expected messiah. However, Zevi disappointed the vast majority of his followers when he subsequently converted to Islam. Nevertheless, an important segment followed him into Islam as well, and to this day consist of a powerful community of secret Jews known as Dönmeh.

The Dönmeh of Turkey maintained associations with a number of Sufi orders, like Whirling Dervishes founded by Jalal ad-Din Rumi, and the Bektashis. Strongly heretical, the Bektashi venerated Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, repudiated many of the legal rulings of Islam, and combined Kabbalistic ideas with elements of ancient Central Asian shamanism.

Through the influence of Bektashi Sufism, the Dönmeh developed the belief of Pan-Turkism, later adopted by the Young Turks, a Dönmeh and Masonic organization responsible for overthrowing the Ottoman Caliphate in 1908. Pan-Turkism begins with Alexander Csoma de Körös (1784 – 1842), the first in the West to mention mysterious Buddhist realm known as Shambhala, which he regarded as the origin of the Turkish people, and which he situated in the Altai mountains and Xinjiang.

Csoma de Körös’s mention of Shambhala became the basis of the mystical speculations offered by H. P. Blavatsky, which she regarded as the homeland of the Aryan race. Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society, and came to be regarded as an oracle of Freemasonry and the godmother of the occult. Blavatsky became largely responsible for initiating the popularity of Buddhism as a font of the Ancient Wisdom. However, contrary to popular perceptions, Tibetan Buddhism is a strange amalgam of Buddhist ideas, along with Hindu Tantra and Central Asian shamanism, it was for this reason that Blavatsky regarded it as the true preservation of the traditions of magic.

-- The Sufi Conspiracy, by David Livingstone

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, the first of the hippies and the Beat Generation were arriving in India, and many found their way to BPL’s door. “Then the house got full of really strange people. Papa always made it quite clear to all of them, however, that he was not a saint, nor was he going to behave like one. ‘I’ll smoke my cigarettes and drink my whiskey as normal – and not be bound by anyone,’ Papa said. Gradually he stopped writing automatic messages and started speaking words that he begun coming through him. At first his voice and way of talking were strange, but then the style evolved and he talked like himself,” said Kabir.....

The next event to send shock waves through the family was when Freda, for reasons of her own, sent Guli to boarding school miles away in North India. Her daughter was just five years old. It seemed not only cruel but a terrible dereliction of maternal duty, and out of character with her essentially kind, caring nature. In addition, she performed the deed in what appeared a particularly brutal way.

Guli, now a tall, sociable woman who has dedicated her life to teaching children with special needs, lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, outside Boston, Massachusetts. She recalls every detail of the traumatic event. "When Mummy told me her idea, I told her outright, 'I am not going to boarding school!' We children were all strong characters, who had been taught to speak up. She arranged everything extremely well. We often went touring, and this year Mummy took me to visit an old family friend, Auntie Mera (who had adopted thirteen children) in Naina Tal, in the foothills of Uttar Pradesh. When we got there, she asked if I wanted to see All Saints School, which was nearby and run by Christian nuns. I said yes. I remember the oak tree in the garden, which was huge, and I got very animated and chatty with the nuns. I turned around to tell Mummy something and she was gone. I was absolutely devastated. I cried for three days. The nuns, British Anglican missionaries, were so kind. They really cared for me."

Guli grew to love her school. "It turned out to be the best experience. I studied the scriptures and I know everything about the bible. I loved the hymns and the feeling of the chapel, not that I ever felt the need to become a Christian. There was never any talk about conversion!"....

Whenever she could, she traveled to Burma to continue her meditation training under his strict, watchful eye. Sometimes she took Kabir, her "special child" with her, encouraging him to shave his head and don Buddhist robes as a child monk. Secretly she hoped that one day he would be ordained. That destiny was not to be his, however.

-- The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi, by Vicki Mackenzie

Painting of Kabir weaving, c. 1825.
Born: 1398 or 1440, Varanasi, India
Died: 1448 or 1518, Maghar, India
School: Kabir panth
Main interests: Mysticism Theism Syncretism Poetry
Influences: Ramananda, Sufism, Bhakti
Influenced: Sikhism, Rabindranath Tagore

Kabir Das (IAST: Kabīr[1]) was a 15th-century Indian mystic poet and saint, whose writings influenced Hinduism's Bhakti movement and his verses are found in Sikhism's scripture Guru Granth Sahib.[2][3][4] His early life was in a Muslim family, but he was strongly influenced by his teacher, the Hindu bhakti leader Ramananda.[2] Kabir was born in the Indian city of Varanasi.

Kabir is known for being critical of both Hinduism and Islam, stating followers of both were misguided by the Vedas and Quran, and questioning their meaningless rites of initiation such as the sacred thread and circumcision respectively.[2][5] During his lifetime, he was threatened by both Hindus and Muslims for his views.[6]:4 When he died, both Hindus and Muslims he had inspired claimed him as theirs.[3]

Kabir suggested that Truth is with the person who is on the path of righteousness, considered all creatures on earth as his own self, and who is passively detached from the affairs of the world.[3] To know the Truth, suggested Kabir, drop the "I" or the ego.[6]:4 Kabir's legacy survives and continues through the Kabir panth ("Path of Kabir"), a religious community that recognises him as its founder and is one of the Sant Mat sects. Its members are known as Kabir panthis.[7]

Early life and background

The years of Kabir's birth and death are unclear.[8][9] Some historians favour 1398–1448 as the period Kabir lived,[10][11] while others favour 1440–1518.[12][2][13]

Many legends, inconsistent in their details, exist about his birth family and early life. According to one version, Kabir was born to a Brahmin unwed mother in Varanasi, by a seedless conception and delivered through the palm of her hand,[6]:5 who then abandoned him in a basket floating in a pond, and baby Kabir was picked up and then raised by a Muslim family.[6]:4–5[2] However, modern scholarship has abandoned these legends for lack of historical evidence, and Kabir is widely accepted to have been born and brought up in a family of Muslim weavers.[6]:3–5 According to the Indologist Wendy Doniger, Kabir was born into a Muslim family and various birth legends attempt to "drag Kabir back over the line from Muslim to Hindu".[14]

Some scholars state that Kabir's parents may have been recent converts to Islam, they and Kabir were likely unaware of Islamic orthodox tradition, and are likely to have been following the Nath (Shiva Yogi) school of Hinduism. This view, while contested by other scholars, has been summarized by Charlotte Vaudeville as follows:

Circumcised or not, Kabir was officially a musalman, though it appears likely that some form of Nathism was his ancestral tradition. This alone would explain his relative ignorance of Islamic tenets, his remarkable acquaintance with Tantric-yoga practices and his lavish use of its esoteric jargon [in his poems]. He appears far more conversant with Nath-panthi basic attitudes and philosophy than with the Islamic orthodox tradition.

— Charlotte Vaudeville on Kabir (1974), [15]

Kabir is widely believed to have become one of the many disciples of the Bhakti poet-sant Swami Ramananda in Varanasi, known for devotional Vaishnavism with a strong bent to monist Advaita philosophy teaching that God was inside every person, everything.[3][16][17] Early texts about his life place him with Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism as well as the Sufi tradition of Islam.[18] According to Irfan Habib, the two manuscript versions of the Persian text Dabistan-i-Mazahib are the earliest known texts with biographical information about Kabir.[19] The Dabistan-i-Mazahib states Kabir is a "Bairagi" (Vaishnava yogi) and states he is a disciple of Ramanand (the text refers to him repeatedly as "Gang"). In addition, it states that Kabir is a monotheist and his God is "Rama".[19]

Some legends assert that Kabir never married and led a celibate's life. Most scholars conclude from historical literature that this legend is also untrue, that Kabir was likely married, his wife probably was named Loi, they had at least one son named Kamal and a daughter named Kamali.[20]

Kabir's family is believed to have lived in the locality of Kabir Chaura in Varanasi. Kabīr maṭha (कबीरमठ), a maṭha located in the back alleys of Kabir Chaura, celebrates his life and times.[21] Accompanying the property is a house named Nīrūṭīlā (नीरू टीला) which houses Niru and Nima graves.[22]


Indian postage stamp portraying Kabir, 1952

Kabir's poems were in vernacular Hindi, borrowing from various dialects including Braj and Awadhi.[23] They cover various aspects of life and call for a loving devotion for God.[24] Kabir composed his verses with simple Hindi words. Most of his work were concerned with devotion, mysticism and discipline.[25]

Where spring, the lord of seasons reigneth, there the unstruck music sounds of itself,
There the streams of light flow in all directions, few are the men who can cross to that shore!
There, where millions of Krishnas stand with hands folded,
Where millions of Vishnus bow their heads, where millions of Brahmas are reading the Vedas,
Where millions of Shivas are lost in contemplation, where millions of Indras dwell in the sky,
Where the demi-gods and the munis are unnumbered, where millions of Saraswatis, goddess of music play the vina,
There is my Lord self-revealed, and the scent of sandal and flowers dwells in those deeps.

— Kabir, II.57, Translated by Rabindranath Tagore[26]

Kabir and his followers named his verbally composed poems of wisdom as "bāņīs" (utterances). These include songs and couplets, called variously dohe, śalokā (Sanskrit: ślokā), or sākhī (Sanskrit: sākşī). The latter term means "witness", implying the poems to be evidence of the Truth.[27]

Literary works with compositions attributed to Kabir include Kabir Bijak, Kabir Parachai, Sakhi Granth, Adi Granth (Sikh), and Kabir Granthawali (Rajasthan).[28] However, except for Adi Granth, significantly different versions of these texts exist and it is unclear which one is more original; for example, Kabir Bijak exists in two major recensions.[29] The most in depth scholarly analysis of various versions and translations are credited to Charlotte Vaudeville, the 20th century French scholar on Kabir.[29]

Kabir's poems were verbally composed in the 15th century and transmitted viva voce through the 17th century. Kabir Bijak was compiled and written down for the first time in the 17th century.[30] Scholars state that this form of transmission, over geography and across generations bred change, interpolation and corruption of the poems.[30] Furthermore, whole songs were creatively fabricated and new couplets inserted by unknown authors and attributed to Kabir, not because of dishonesty but out of respect for him and the creative exuberance of anonymous oral tradition found in Indian literary works.[30] Scholars have sought to establish poetry that truly came from Kabir and its historicity value.[31]


Numerous poems are attributed to Kabir, but scholars now doubt the authenticity of many songs credited to him.[32]

Rabindranath Tagore's English translation and compilation One Hundred Poems of Kabir was first published in 1915, and has been a classic reprinted and widely circulated particularly in the West.[33][34] Scholars believe only six[35] of its hundred poems are authentic,[36] and they have questioned whether Tagore introduced then prevalent theological perspectives onto Kabir, as he translated poems in early 20th century that he presumed to be of Kabir's.[37] The unauthentic poems nevertheless belong to the Bhakti movement in medieval India, and may have been composed by admirers of Kabir who lived later.[33]


According to Linda Hess, "Some modern commentators have tried to present Kabir as a synthesizer of Hinduism and Islam; but the picture is a false one. While drawing on various traditions as he saw fit, Kabir emphatically declared his independence from both the major religions of his countrymen, vigorously attacked the follies of both, and tried to kindle the fire of a similar autonomy and courage in those who claimed to be his disciples.[38] He adopted their terminology and concepts, but vigorously criticized them both.[39][40] He questioned the need for any holy book, as stated in Kabir Granthavali as follows:

Reading book after book the whole world died,
and none ever became learned!
But understanding the root matter is what made them gain the knowledge!

— Kabir Granthavali, XXXIII.3, Translated by Charlotte Vaudeville[41]

Many scholars interpret Kabir's philosophy to be questioning the need for religion, rather than attempting to propose either Hindu-Muslim unity or an independent synthesis of a new religious tradition.[42] Kabir rejected the hypocrisy and misguided rituals evident in various religious practices of his day, including those in Islam and Hinduism.[42]

Saints I've seen both ways.
Hindus and Muslims don't want discipline, they want tasty food.
The Hindu keeps the eleventh-day fast, eating chestnuts and milk.
He curbs his grain but not his brain, and breaks his fast with meat.
The Turk [Muslim] prays daily, fasts once a year, and crows "God!, God!" like a cock.
What heaven is reserved for people who kill chickens in the dark?
Instead of kindness and compassion, they've cast out all desire.
One kills with a chop, one lets the blood drop, in both houses burns the same fire.
Turks and Hindus have one way, the guru's made it clear.
Don't say Ram, don't say Khuda [Allah], so says Kabir.

— Kabir, Śabda 10, Translated by Linda Hess and Shukdeo Singh[43]

In Bijak, Kabir mocks the practice of praying to avatars such as Buddha of Buddhism, by asserting "don't call the master Buddha, he didn't put down devils".[44][45] Kabir urged people to look within and consider all human beings as manifestation of God's living forms:

If God be within the mosque, then to whom does this world belong?
If Ram be within the image which you find upon your pilgrimage,
then who is there to know what happens without?
Hari is in the East, Allah is in the West.
Look within your heart, for there you will find both Karim and Ram;
All the men and women of the world are His living forms.
Kabir is the child of Allah and of Ram: He is my Guru, He is my Pir.

— Kabir, III.2, Translated by Rabindranath Tagore[46]

Charlotte Vaudeville states that the philosophy of Kabir and other sants of the Bhakti movement is the seeking of the Absolute. The notion of this Absolute is nirguna which, writes Vaudeville, is same as "the Upanishadic concept of the Brahman-Atman and the monistic Advaita interpretation of the Vedantic tradition, which denies any distinction between the soul [within a human being] and God, and urges man to recognize within himself his true divine nature".[47] Vaudeville notes that this philosophy of Kabir and other Bhakti sants is self-contradictory, because if God is within, then that would be a call to abolish all external bhakti. This inconsistency in Kabir's teaching may have been differentiating "union with God" from the concept of "merging into God, or Oneness in all beings". Alternatively, states Vaudeville, the saguna prema-bhakti (tender devotion) may have been prepositioned as the journey towards self-realization of the nirguna Brahman, a universality beyond monotheism.[48]

David N. Lorenzen and Adrián Muñoz trace these ideas of God in Kabir's philosophy as nirguna Brahman to those in Adi Shankara's theories on Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, albeit with some differences.[49]

Influence of Islam

Lorenzen in his review of Kabir's philosophy and poetry writes, "the extent to which Kabir borrowed elements from Islam is controversial. Many recent scholars have argued that he simply rejected Islam and took almost all his ideas and beliefs from the Hindu tradition. Contemporary Kabir Panth sadhus make roughly the same argument. Most of the vocabulary used in his songs and verses are borrowed directly from the Hindu tradition. Nonetheless, it is hard not to see the influence of Islam in his insistence on devotion to a single God, a god Kabir most often calls Ram".[49]

Some scholars state that the sexual imagery in some of Kabir's poems reflect a mystic Sufi Islam influence, wherein Kabir inverts the traditional Sufi representation of a God-woman and devotee-man longing for a union, and instead uses the imagery of Lord-husband and devotee-bride.[50] Other scholars, in contrast, state that it is unclear if Sufi ideas influenced Bhakti sants like Kabir or it was vice versa, suggesting that they probably co-developed through mutual interaction.[51]

Kabir left Islam, states Ronald McGregor, but that does not mean Kabir adopted Hindu beliefs.[4] Kabir, nevertheless, criticized practices such as killing and eating a cow by Muslims, in a manner Hindus criticized those practices:

We have searched the turaki Dharam (Turk's religion, Islam), these teachers throw many thunderbolts,
Recklessly they display boundless pride while explaining their own aims, they kill cows.
How can they kill the mother, whose milk they drink like that of a wet nurse?
The young and the old drink milk pudding, but these fools eat the cow's body.
These morons know nothing, they wander about in ignorance,
Without looking into one's heart, how can one reach paradise?

— Kabir, Ramaini 1, Translated by David Lorenzen[52]

Persecution and social impact

Kabir's couplets suggest he was persecuted for his views, while he was alive. He stated, for example,

Saints I see the world is mad.
If I tell the truth they rush to beat me,
if I lie they trust me.

— Kabir, Shabad - 4, [53]

Kabir response to persecution and slander was to welcome it. He called the slanderer a friend, expressed gratefulness for the slander, for it brought him closer to his god.[54] Winand Callewaert translates a poem attributed to Kabir in the warrior-ascetic Dadupanthi tradition within Hinduism, as follows:[55]

Keep the slanderer near you, build him a hut in your courtyard —
For, without soap or water, he will scrub your character clean.

— Kabir, Sākhī 23.4, [55]

The legends about Kabir describe him as the underdog who nevertheless is victorious in trials by a Sultan, a Brahmin, a Qazi, a merchant, a god or a goddess. The ideological messages in the legends appealed to the poor and oppressed. According to David Lorenzen, legends about Kabir reflect a "protest against social discrimination and economic exploitation", they present the perspective of the poor and powerless, not the rich and powerful.[56] However, many scholars doubt that these legends of persecution are authentic, point to the lack of any corroborating evidence, consider it unlikely that a Muslim Sultan would take orders from Hindu Brahmins or Kabir's own mother demanded that the Sultan punish Kabir, and question the historicity of the legends on Kabir.[57]


Kabir literature legacy was championed by two of his disciples, Bhāgodās and Dharmadās. Songs of Kabir were collected by Kshitimohan Sen from mendicants across India, these were then translated to English by Rabindranath Tagore.[58]

New English translations of Songs of Kabir is done by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. August Kleinzahler writes about this: "It is Mehrotra who has succeeded in capturing the ferocity and improvisational energy of Kabir’s poetry".[59]

Kabir's legacy continues to be carried forward by the Kabir panth ("Path of Kabir"), a religious community that recognises him as its founder and is one of the Sant Mat sects. This community was founded centuries after Kabir died, in various parts of India, over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.[60] Its members, known as Kabir panthis, are estimated to be around 9.6 million.[61] They are spread over north and central India, as well as dispersed with the Indian diaspora across the world, up from 843,171 in the 1901 census.[62]

There are two temples dedicated to Kabir located in Benares. One of them is maintained by Hindus, while the other by Muslims. Both the temples practise similar forms of worship where his songs are sung daily. Other rituals of aarti and distributing prasad are similar to other Hindu temples. The followers of Kabir are vegetarians and abstain from alcohol.[63]

Kabir, Guru Nanak and the Guru Granth Sahib

Further information: Writers of Guru Granth Sahib

Kabir's verses were incorporated into Adi Granth, the scripture of Sikhism, with verses attributed to Kabir constituting the largest non-Sikh contribution.[4]

Some scholars state Kabir's ideas were one of the many influences[64][65] on Guru Nanak, who went on to found Sikhism in the fifteenth century. Other Sikh scholars disagree, stating there are differences between the views and practices of Kabir and Nanak.[60][66][67]

Harpreet Singh, quoting Hew McLeod, states, "In its earliest stage Sikhism was clearly a movement within the Hindu tradition; Nanak was raised a Hindu and eventually belonged to the Sant tradition of northern India, a movement associated with the great poet and mystic Kabir."[68] Surjit Singh Gandhi disagrees, and writes "Guru Nanak in his thought pattern as well as in action model was fundamentally different from Kabir and for that matter other radical Bhaktas or saints (saint has been erroneously used for such Bhaktas by Mcleod). Hence to consider Kabir as an influence on Guru Nanak is wrong, both historically and theologically".[66]

McLeod places Nanak in the Sant tradition that included Kabir, and states that their fundamental doctrines were reproduced by Nanak. JS Grewal contests this view and states that McLeod's approach is limiting in its scope because, "McLeod takes into account only concepts, ignores practices altogether, he concentrates on similarities and ignores all differences".[69]

Kabir's poetry today

There are several allusions to Kabir's poetry in mainstream Indian film music. The title song of the Sufi fusion band Indian Ocean's album Jhini is an energetic rendering of Kabir's famous poem "The intricately woven blanket", with influences from Indian folk, Sufi traditions and progressive rock.

Neeraj Arya's Kabir Cafe marries Kabir's couplets with contemporary music adding elements of rock, carnatic and folk. Popular renderings include Halke Gaadi Haanko, Chadariya Jhini and Chor Awega. Kabir Cafe claims that living their lives just as Kabir suggests has led to them experiencing some of these truths and it reflects in their performances.[70]

Noted classical singer, late Kumar Gandharva, is widely recognized for his wonderful rendering of Kabir's poetry.

Documentary filmmaker Shabnam Virmani, from the Kabir Project, has produced a series of documentaries and books tracing Kabir's philosophy, music and poetry in present-day India and Pakistan. The documentaries feature Indian folk singers such as Prahlad Tipanya, Mukhtiyar Ali and the Pakistani Qawwal Fareed Ayaz. Kabir festival was organized in Mumbai, India in 2017.[71][72]

The album No Stranger Here by Shubha Mudgal, Ursula Rucker draws heavily from Kabir's poetry. Kabir's poetry has appeared prominently in filmmaker Anand Gandhi's films Right Here Right Now (2003) and Continuum. Pakistani Sufi singer Abida Parveen has sung Kabir in a full album.


Kabir has been criticised for his depiction of women. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh states, "Kabir's opinion of women is contemptuous and derogatory".[67] Wendy Doniger concludes Kabir had a misogynist bias.[67] Schomer states that for Kabir, woman is "kali nagini (a black cobra), kunda naraka ka (the pit of hell), juthani jagata ki (the refuse of the world)". According to Kabir, a woman prevents man's spiritual progress.[67]

Woman ruins everything when she comes near man;
Devotion, liberation, and divine knowledge no longer enter his soul.

— Kabir, Translated by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh[67]

In contrast to Singh's interpretation of Kabir's gender views, Dass interprets Rag Asa section of Adi Granth as Kabir asking a young married woman to stop veiling her face, and not to adopt such social habits.[73] Dass adds that Kabir's poetry can be interpreted in two ways, one literally where the woman refers to human female, another allegorically where woman is symbolism for his own soul and Rama is the Lord-husband.[74]

See also

• Films about Kabir:
o Bhakta Kabir, a 1942 Indian film
o Mahatma Kabir (film), a 1947 Indian Kannada-language film
o Mahathma Kabir, a 1962 Indian Kannada film
• Surdas
• Kālidāsa
• Tulsidas
• Poets of India


1. Jaroslav Strnad (2013). Morphology and Syntax of Old Hindī: Edition and Analysis of One Hundred Kabīr vānī Poems from Rājasthān. BRILL Academic. p. 10. ISBN 978-90-04-25489-3.
2. Kabir Encyclopædia Britannica (2015)Accessed: July 27, 2015
3. Hugh Tinker (1990). South Asia: A Short History. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 75–77. ISBN 978-0-8248-1287-4. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
4. Ronald McGregor (1984), Hindi literature from its beginnings to the nineteenth century, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447024136, page 47
5. Carol Henderson Garcia; Carol E. Henderson (2002). Culture and Customs of India. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-0-313-30513-9. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
6. Hess, Linda; Shukdev Singh (2002). The Bijak of Kabir. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-8120802162.
7. David Lorenzen (Editors: Karine Schomer and W. H. McLeod, 1987), The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, ISBN 978-81-208-0277-3, pages 281–302
8. Lorenzen 1991, pp. 12-18.
9. Dass 1991, p. 14.
10. Hess & Singh 2002.
11. Dass 1991, p. 5.
12. Lorenzen, David N. (2006). Who invented Hinduism?: essays on religion in history. New Dehli: Yoda Press. ISBN 8190227262.
13. Dass 1991, p. 106.
14. Wendy Doniger, The Hindus: An Alternative History, Oxford University Press (2010), p. 462
15. Lorenzen & Muñoz 2012, p. 31.
16. Pande, Rekha (2010). Divine Sounds from the Heart-Singing Unfettered in their Own Voices. Cambridge Scholars. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-4438-2525-2. OCLC 827209160.
17. McGregor, Ronald (1984). Hindi literature from its beginnings to the nineteenth century. Harrassowitz. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-3-447-02413-6. OCLC 11445402.
18. Rizvi, Saiyid Athar Abbas (1983). A history of Sufism in India. 2. Manoharlal. p. 412. OCLC 174667236. The author of the Dabistan-i Mazahib placed Kabir against the background of the legends of the Vaishnavite vairagis (mendicants) with whom he was identified, but a contemporary of his, Shaikh 'Abdu'r-Rahman Chisti, combined both the Bairagi and the muwwahidtraditions about Kabir in his Mir'atu'l-asrar and also made him a Firdaussiya Sufi.
19. Irfan Habib (2001). "A Fragmentary Exploration of an Indian Text on Religions and Sects: Notes on the Earlier Version of the Dabistan-i-Mazahib". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 61: 479–480. JSTOR 44148125.
20. Lorenzen, David (1991). Kabir Legends and Ananta-Das's Kabir Parachai. SUNY Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-4384-1127-9.
21. Schomer & McLeod 1987, p. 291.
22. "Jab Mein Tha Tab Hari Nahin‚ Ab". Retrieved 12 July 2012.
23. Scudiere, Todd. "Rare Literary Gems: The Works of Kabir and Premchand at hiCRL". South Asian Studies, Spring 2005 Vol. 24, Num. 3. Center for Research Libraries.
24. Hess & Singh 2002, pp. 4-6.
25. Sastri 2002, p. 24.
26. Tagore & Underhill 1915, p. 15, XV.
27. Kumar, Sehdev (1984). The Vision of Kabir: Love Poems of a 15th Century Weaver-sage. Alpha & Omega. p. 48.
28. Lorenzen 1991, pp. 18-19.
29. Classe, Olive (2000). Encyclopedia of Literary Translation into English. A–L. Routledge. p. 746. doi:10.4324/9780203825501. ISBN 978-0-203-82550-1.
30. Classe, Olive (2000). Encyclopedia of Literary Translation into English. A–L. Routledge. pp. 745–747. doi:10.4324/9780203825501. ISBN 978-0-203-82550-1.
31. Schomer & McLeod 1987, pp. 167-179.
32. Hess & Singh 2002, p. 6.
33. Schomer & McLeod 1987, pp. 167–169.
34. Tagore & Underhill 1915.
35. Schomer & McLeod 1987, p. 173: The authentic poems are poem 15, 32, 34, 35, 69 and 94.
36. Schomer & McLeod 1987, p. 172.
37. Schomer & McLeod 1987, pp. 168, 178–179.
38. Hess & Singh 2002, p. 5.
39. Hess & Singh 2002, pp. 5-6.
40. Lorenzen & Muñoz 2012, pp. 27-28.
41. Schomer & McLeod 1987, p. 23.
42. Lorenzen & Muñoz 2012, p. 35.
43. Hess & Singh 2002, p. 46.
44. Hess & Singh 2002, p. 45.
45. Doniger, Wendy (2010). The Hindus: an alternative history. Oxford University Press. p. 484. ISBN 978-0-19-959334-7. OCLC 698575971.
46. Tagore & Underhill 1915, p. 72, LXIX.
47. Schomer & McLeod 1987, pp. 26.
48. Schomer & McLeod 1987, pp. 27-33with footnotes
49. Lorenzen & Muñoz 2012, p. 48.
50. Schomer & McLeod 1987, pp. 177–178with footnote 26
51. Larson, Gerald James (1995). India's Agony Over Religion. SUNY Press. p. 116. ISBN 0791424111. OCLC 30544951.
52. Lorenzen & Muñoz 2012, p. 27.
53. Hess & Singh 2002, p. 4.
54. Das, G. N. (1996). Mystic songs of Kabir. Songs.English & Hindi.Selections. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. p. 8. ISBN 9788170173380. OCLC 36291947.
55. Callewaert, Winand M. (1978). The Sarvāṅgī of the Dādūpanthī Rajab. Orientalia Lovaniensia analecta. 4. Oriëntalistiek Kathol. Univ. pp. 274–274. ISBN 978-90-70192-01-3. OCLC 1067271731.
56. Lorenzen 1991, pp. 5-6.
57. Lorenzen 1991, pp. 16-35.
58. "Songs of Kabir in Persian : Gutenberg: Songs of Kabir by Rabindranath Tagore".
59. "Rebirth of a Poet". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
60. Grewal, J S (2010). "WH McLeod and Sikh Studies" (PDF). Journal of Punjab Studies. 17: 119.
61. Friedlander, Peter (5 July 2010). "Ritual and reform in the Kabir Panth". Crises and Opportunities: Past, Present and Future. Proceedings of the 18th Biennial Conference of the ASAA. Asian Studies Association of Australia. ISBN 9780725811365.
62. Westcott, G. H. (2006). Kabir and the Kabir Panth. Read Books. p. 2. ISBN 1-4067-1271-X.
63. Sastri 2002, p. 33.
64. WH McLeod (2003), Exploring Sikhism: Aspects of Sikh Identity, Culture, and Thought, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195658569, pages 19–31
65. David Lorenzen (1981), Religious change and cultural domination, Colegio Mexico, ISBN 978-9681201081, pages 173–191
66. Gandhi, Surjit Singh (2008). History of Sikh Gurus Retold: 1469-1606 C.E. English: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors Pvt Ltd. pp. 174 to 176. ISBN 8126908572.
67. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh (24 September 1993). The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent. English: Cambridge University Press. pp. 114–116. ISBN 978-0521432870.
68. Pashaura Singh and Louis E. Fenech (2014), The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199699308, page 205
69. J. S. Grewal (2010), WH McLeod and Sikh Studies, Journal of Punjab Studies, Volume 17, Issue 1–2, page 119
70. [1]
71. "Kabir Festival 2017". Festivals of India.
72. "Kabir Festival Mumbai 2017".
73. Nirmal Dass (1991), Songs of Kabir from the Adi Granth, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791405611, pages 147-148
74. Nirmal Dass (1991), Songs of Kabir from the Adi Granth, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791405611, pages 322-323

Further reading

• Bhagat Kabir Hymns in Guru Granth Sahib
• Bly, Robert (2007, Original: 1977), tr. Kabir: Ecstatic Poems. Beacon Press, ISBN 978-0807063804 (Bly writes, "my version is Rabindranath Tagore's translation rephrased into more contemporary language", see page xix)
• Das, G. N., ed. (1992). Love songs of Kabir. Foreword by K.S. Duggal. Sittingbourne: Asia. ISBN 978-0-948724-33-6.
• Dass, Nirmal (1991). Songs of Kabir from the Adi Granth. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. ISBN 0791405605.
• Dharwadker, Vinay (2003), Kabir: Weaver's Songs, Penguin Classics, ISBN 978-0143029687
• Hess, Linda; Singh, Shukdev (2002). The Bijak of Kabir. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-8120802162.
• Lorenzen, David (1991). Kabir Legends and Ananta-Das's Kabir Parachai. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-1-4384-1127-9.
• Lorenzen, David N; Muñoz, Adrián (2012). Yogi Heroes and Poets: Histories and Legends of the Naths. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-1-4384-3890-0. OCLC 806495567.
• Sastri, Hari Prasad (2002). "Kalidasa". The great authors and poets of India. New Delhi: Crest Publishing House. ISBN 978-8-124-20241-8.
• Schomer, Karine; McLeod, William Hewat (1987). The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India. Berkeley Religious Studies Series. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0277-3. OCLC 925707272.
• Tagore, Rabindranath; Underhill, Evelyn (1915). One hundred poems of Kabir. University of Toronto. OCLC 667616699., (see authenticity discussion above)
• Vaudeville, Charlotte (1957), Kabîr Granthâvalî : (Doha), OCLC 459472759 (French); English: Kabir, Vol. 1, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0198265269, OCLC 32447240
• Vaudeville, Charlotte (1993), A Weaver Named Kabir: Selected Verses with a Biographical and Historical Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195630787

External links

• Works by Kabir at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Kabir at Internet Archive
• Works by Kabir at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• The Bijak of Kabir, Ahmad Shah Translation of the Entire Text (1917)
• The Ocean of Love Anurag Sagar of Kabir
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Vyasa, the sage who, according to tradition, composed the Upanishads.
Religion: Hinduism
Language: Sanskrit

The Upanishads (/uːˈpænɪˌʃædz, uːˈpɑːnɪˌʃɑːdz/;[1] Sanskrit: उपनिषद् Upaniṣad [ˈʊpɐnɪʂɐd]) are late Vedic Sanskrit texts of religious teaching and ideas still revered in Hinduism.[2][3][note 1][note 2] They are the most recent part of the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedas, that deal with meditation, philosophy, and ontological knowledge; other parts of the Vedas deal with mantras, benedictions, rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices.[6][7][8] Among the most important literature in the history of Indian religions and culture, the Upanishads played an important role in the development of spiritual ideas in ancient India, marking a transition from Vedic ritualism to new ideas and institutions.[9] Of all Vedic literature, the Upanishads alone are widely known, and their central ideas are at the spiritual core of Hinduism.[2][10]

The Upanishads are commonly referred to as Vedānta. Vedanta has been interpreted as the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" and alternatively as "object, the highest purpose of the Veda". [11] The concepts of Brahman (ultimate reality) and Ātman (soul, self) are central ideas in all of the Upanishads,[12][13] and "know that you are the Ātman" is their thematic focus.[13][14] Along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra, the mukhya Upanishads (known collectively as the Prasthanatrayi)[15] provide a foundation for the several later schools of Vedanta, among them, two influential monistic schools of Hinduism.[note 3][note 4][note 5]

Around 108 Upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main (mukhya) Upanishads.[18][19] The mukhya Upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas[20] and were, for centuries, memorized by each generation and passed down orally. The early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five[note 6] of them are in all likelihood pre-Buddhist (6th century BCE),[21] stretching down to the Maurya period, which lasted from 322 to 185 BCE.[22] Of the remainder, 95 Upanishads are part of the Muktika canon, composed from about the last centuries of 1st-millennium BCE through about 15th-century CE.[23][24] New Upanishads, beyond the 108 in the Muktika canon, continued to be composed through the early modern and modern era,[25] though often dealing with subjects that are unconnected to the Vedas.[26]

With the translation of the Upanishads in the early 19th century they also started to attract attention from a Western audience. Arthur Schopenhauer was deeply impressed by the Upanishads and called it "the most profitable and elevating reading which... is possible in the world".[27] Modern era Indologists have discussed the similarities between the fundamental concepts in the Upanishads and major Western philosophers.[28][29][30]


The Sanskrit term Upaniṣad (from upa "by" and ni-ṣad "sit down")[31] translates to "sitting down near", referring to the student sitting down near the teacher while receiving spiritual knowledge.(Gurumukh)[32] Other dictionary meanings include "esoteric doctrine" and "secret doctrine". Monier-Williams' Sanskrit Dictionary notes – "According to native authorities, Upanishad means setting to rest ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the supreme spirit."[33]

Adi Shankaracharya explains in his commentary on the Kaṭha and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that the word means Ātmavidyā, that is, "knowledge of the self", or Brahmavidyā "knowledge of Brahma". The word appears in the verses of many Upanishads, such as the fourth verse of the 13th volume in first chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad. Max Müller as well as Paul Deussen translate the word Upanishad in these verses as "secret doctrine",[34][35] Robert Hume translates it as "mystic meaning",[36] while Patrick Olivelle translates it as "hidden connections".[37][38]



The authorship of most Upanishads is uncertain and unknown. Radhakrishnan states, "almost all the early literature of India was anonymous, we do not know the names of the authors of the Upanishads".[39] The ancient Upanishads are embedded in the Vedas, the oldest of Hinduism's religious scriptures, which some traditionally consider to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman"[40] and "impersonal, authorless".[41][42][43] The Vedic texts assert that they were skillfully created by Rishis (sages), after inspired creativity, just as a carpenter builds a chariot.[44]

The various philosophical theories in the early Upanishads have been attributed to famous sages such as Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka Aruni, Shvetaketu, Shandilya, Aitareya, Balaki, Pippalada, and Sanatkumara.[39][45] Women, such as Maitreyi and Gargi participate in the dialogues and are also credited in the early Upanishads.[46] There are some exceptions to the anonymous tradition of the Upanishads. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad, for example, includes closing credits to sage Shvetashvatara, and he is considered the author of the Upanishad.[47]

Many scholars believe that early Upanishads were interpolated[48] and expanded over time. There are differences within manuscripts of the same Upanishad discovered in different parts of South Asia, differences in non-Sanskrit version of the texts that have survived, and differences within each text in terms of meter,[49] style, grammar and structure.[50][51] The existing texts are believed to be the work of many authors.[52]


Scholars are uncertain about when the Upanishads were composed.[53] The chronology of the early Upanishads is difficult to resolve, states philosopher and Sanskritist Stephen Phillips,[18] because all opinions rest on scanty evidence and analysis of archaism, style and repetitions across texts, and are driven by assumptions about likely evolution of ideas, and presumptions about which philosophy might have influenced which other Indian philosophies. Indologist Patrick Olivelle says that "in spite of claims made by some, in reality, any dating of these documents [early Upanishads] that attempts a precision closer than a few centuries is as stable as a house of cards".[21] Some scholars have tried to analyse similarities between Hindu Upanishads and Buddhist literature to establish chronology for the Upanishads.[22]

Patrick Olivelle gives the following chronology for the early Upanishads, also called the Principal Upanishads:[53][21]

• The Brhadaranyaka and the Chandogya are the two earliest Upanishads. They are edited texts, some of whose sources are much older than others. The two texts are pre-Buddhist; they may be placed in the 7th to 6th centuries BCE, give or take a century or so.[54][22]
• The three other early prose Upanisads—Taittiriya, Aitareya, and Kausitaki come next; all are probably pre-Buddhist and can be assigned to the 6th to 5th centuries BCE.[citation needed]
• The Kena is the oldest of the verse Upanisads followed by probably the Katha, Isa, Svetasvatara, and Mundaka. All these Upanisads were composed probably in the last few centuries BCE.[55]
• The two late prose Upanisads, the Prasna and the Mandukya, cannot be much older than the beginning of the common era.[53][21]

Stephen Phillips places the early Upanishads in the 800 to 300 BCE range. He summarizes the current Indological opinion to be that the Brhadaranyaka, Chandogya, Isha, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Kena, Katha, Mundaka, and Prasna Upanishads are all pre-Buddhist and pre-Jain, while Svetasvatara and Mandukya overlap with the earliest Buddhist and Jain literature.[18]

The later Upanishads, numbering about 95, also called minor Upanishads, are dated from the late 1st-millennium BCE to mid 2nd-millennium CE.[23] Gavin Flood dates many of the twenty Yoga Upanishads to be probably from the 100 BCE to 300 CE period.[24] Patrick Olivelle and other scholars date seven of the twenty Sannyasa Upanishads to likely have been complete sometime between the last centuries of the 1st-millennium BCE to 300 CE.[23] About half of the Sannyasa Upanishads were likely composed in 14th- to 15th-century CE.[23]


Geography of the Late Vedic Period

The general area of the composition of the early Upanishads is considered as northern India. The region is bounded on the west by the upper Indus valley, on the east by lower Ganges region, on the north by the Himalayan foothills, and on the south by the Vindhya mountain range.[21] Scholars are reasonably sure that the early Upanishads were produced at the geographical center of ancient Brahmanism, comprising the regions of Kuru-Panchala and Kosala-Videha together with the areas immediately to the south and west of these.[56] This region covers modern Bihar, Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, eastern Rajasthan, and northern Madhya Pradesh.[21]

While significant attempts have been made recently to identify the exact locations of the individual Upanishads, the results are tentative. Witzel identifies the center of activity in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad as the area of Videha, whose king, Janaka, features prominently in the Upanishad.[57] The Chandogya Upanishad was probably composed in a more western than eastern location in the Indian subcontinent, possibly somewhere in the western region of the Kuru-Panchala country.[58]

Compared to the Principal Upanishads, the new Upanishads recorded in the Muktikā belong to an entirely different region, probably southern India, and are considerably relatively recent.[59] In the fourth chapter of the Kaushitaki Upanishad, a location named Kashi (modern Varanasi) is mentioned.[21]


Muktika canon: major and minor Upanishads

There are more than 200 known Upanishads, one of which, the Muktikā Upanishad, predates 1656 CE[60] and contains a list of 108 canonical Upanishads,[61] including itself as the last. These are further divided into Upanishads associated with Shaktism (goddess Shakti), Sannyasa (renunciation, monastic life), Shaivism (god Shiva), Vaishnavism (god Vishnu), Yoga, and Sāmānya (general, sometimes referred to as Samanya-Vedanta).[62][63]

Some of the Upanishads are categorized as "sectarian" since they present their ideas through a particular god or goddess of a specific Hindu tradition such as Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, or a combination of these such as the Skanda Upanishad. These traditions sought to link their texts as Vedic, by asserting their texts to be an Upanishad, thereby a Śruti.[64] Most of these sectarian Upanishads, for example the Rudrahridaya Upanishad and the Mahanarayana Upanishad, assert that all the Hindu gods and goddesses are the same, all an aspect and manifestation of Brahman, the Vedic concept for metaphysical ultimate reality before and after the creation of the Universe.[65][66]

Mukhya Upanishads

Main article: Mukhya Upanishads

The Mukhya Upanishads can be grouped into periods. Of the early periods are the Brihadaranyaka and the Chandogya, the oldest.[67][note 7]

A page of Isha Upanishad manuscript

The Aitareya, Kauṣītaki and Taittirīya Upanishads may date to as early as the mid 1st millennium BCE, while the remnant date from between roughly the 4th to 1st centuries BCE, roughly contemporary with the earliest portions of the Sanskrit epics. One chronology assumes that the Aitareya, Taittiriya, Kausitaki, Mundaka, Prasna, and Katha Upanishads has Buddha's influence, and is consequently placed after the 5th century BCE, while another proposal questions this assumption and dates it independent of Buddha's date of birth. After these Principal Upanishads are typically placed the Kena, Mandukya and Isa Upanishads, but other scholars date these differently.[22] Not much is known about the authors except for those, like Yajnavalkayva and Uddalaka, mentioned in the texts.[20] A few women discussants, such as Gargi and Maitreyi, the wife of Yajnavalkayva,[69] also feature occasionally.

Each of the principal Upanishads can be associated with one of the schools of exegesis of the four Vedas (shakhas).[70] Many Shakhas are said to have existed, of which only a few remain. The new Upanishads often have little relation to the Vedic corpus and have not been cited or commented upon by any great Vedanta philosopher: their language differs from that of the classic Upanishads, being less subtle and more formalized. As a result, they are not difficult to comprehend for the modern reader.[71]

Veda-Shakha-Upanishad association

Veda / Recension / Shakha / Principal Upanishad

Rig Veda / Only one recension / Shakala / Aitareya
Sama Veda / Only one recension / Kauthuma; Jaiminiya; Ranayaniya / Chāndogya; Kena
Yajur Veda / Krishna Yajur Veda / Katha; Taittiriya; Maitrayani; Hiranyakeshi (Kapishthala); Kathaka / Kaṭha; Taittirīya
Yajur Veda / Shukla Yajur Veda / Vajasaneyi Madhyandina; Kanva Shakha; Isha and Bṛhadāraṇyaka
Atharva Veda / Two recensions / Shaunaka; Paippalada / Māṇḍūkya and Muṇḍaka; Prashna Upanishad

New Upanishads

There is no fixed list of the Upanishads as newer ones, beyond the Muktika anthology of 108 Upanishads, have continued to be discovered and composed.[72] In 1908, for example, four previously unknown Upanishads were discovered in newly found manuscripts, and these were named Bashkala, Chhagaleya, Arsheya, and Saunaka, by Friedrich Schrader,[73] who attributed them to the first prose period of the Upanishads.[74] The text of three of them, namely the Chhagaleya, Arsheya, and Saunaka, were incomplete and inconsistent, likely poorly maintained or corrupted.[74]

Ancient Upanishads have long enjoyed a revered position in Hindu traditions, and authors of numerous sectarian texts have tried to benefit from this reputation by naming their texts as Upanishads.[75] These "new Upanishads" number in the hundreds, cover diverse range of topics from physiology[76] to renunciation[77] to sectarian theories.[75] They were composed between the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE through the early modern era (~1600 CE).[75][77] While over two dozen of the minor Upanishads are dated to pre-3rd century CE,[23][24] many of these new texts under the title of "Upanishads" originated in the first half of the 2nd millennium CE,[75] they are not Vedic texts, and some do not deal with themes found in the Vedic Upanishads.[26]

The main Shakta Upanishads, for example, mostly discuss doctrinal and interpretative differences between the two principal sects of a major Tantric form of Shaktism called Shri Vidya upasana. The many extant lists of authentic Shakta Upaniṣads vary, reflecting the sect of their compilers, so that they yield no evidence of their "location" in Tantric tradition, impeding correct interpretation. The Tantra content of these texts also weaken its identity as an Upaniṣad for non-Tantrikas. Sectarian texts such as these do not enjoy status as shruti and thus the authority of the new Upanishads as scripture is not accepted in Hinduism.[78]

Association with Vedas

All Upanishads are associated with one of the four Vedas—Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda (there are two primary versions or Samhitas of the Yajurveda: Shukla Yajurveda, Krishna Yajurveda), and Atharvaveda.[79] During the modern era, the ancient Upanishads that were embedded texts in the Vedas, were detached from the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of Vedic text, compiled into separate texts and these were then gathered into anthologies of the Upanishads.[75] These lists associated each Upanishad with one of the four Vedas, many such lists exist, and these lists are inconsistent across India in terms of which Upanishads are included and how the newer Upanishads are assigned to the ancient Vedas. In south India, the collected list based on Muktika Upanishad,[note 8] and published in Telugu language, became the most common by the 19th-century and this is a list of 108 Upanishads.[75][80] In north India, a list of 52 Upanishads has been most common.[75]

The Muktikā Upanishad's list of 108 Upanishads groups the first 13 as mukhya,[81][note 9] 21 as Sāmānya Vedānta, 20 as Sannyāsa,[85] 14 as Vaishnava, 12 as Shaiva, 8 as Shakta, and 20 as Yoga.[86] The 108 Upanishads as recorded in the Muktikā are shown in the table below.[79] The mukhya Upanishads are the most important and highlighted.[83]


Veda-Upanishad association

Veda / Number[79] / Mukhya[81] / Sāmānya / Sannyāsa[85] / Śākta[87] / Vaiṣṇava[88] / Śaiva[89] / Yoga[86]

Ṛigveda 10 Aitareya, Kauśītāki Ātmabodha, Mudgala Nirvāṇa Tripura, Saubhāgya-lakshmi, Bahvṛca - Akṣamālika Nādabindu
Samaveda 16 Chāndogya, Kena Vajrasūchi, Maha, Sāvitrī Āruṇi, Maitreya, Brhat-Sannyāsa, Kuṇḍika (Laghu-Sannyāsa) - Vāsudeva, Avyakta Rudrākṣa, Jābāli Yogachūḍāmaṇi, Darśana
Krishna Yajurveda 32 Taittiriya, Katha, Śvetāśvatara, Maitrāyaṇi[note 10] Sarvasāra, Śukarahasya, Skanda, Garbha, Śārīraka, Ekākṣara, Akṣi Brahma, (Laghu, Brhad) Avadhūta, Kaṭhasruti Sarasvatī-rahasya Nārāyaṇa, Kali-Saṇṭāraṇa Kaivalya, Kālāgnirudra, Dakṣiṇāmūrti, Rudrahṛdaya, Pañcabrahma Amṛtabindu, Tejobindu, Amṛtanāda, Kṣurika, Dhyānabindu, Brahmavidyā, Yogatattva, Yogaśikhā, Yogakuṇḍalini, Varāha
Shukla Yajurveda 19 Bṛhadāraṇyaka, Īśa Subala, Mantrika, Niralamba, Paingala, Adhyatma, Muktika Jābāla, Bhikṣuka, Turīyātītavadhuta, Yājñavalkya, Śāṭyāyaniya - Tārasāra - Advayatāraka, Haṃsa, Triśikhi, Maṇḍalabrāhmaṇa
Atharvaveda 31 Muṇḍaka, Māṇḍūkya, Praśna Ātmā, Sūrya, Prāṇāgnihotra[91] Āśrama, Nārada-parivrājaka, Paramahamsa, Paramahaṃsa parivrājaka, Parabrahma Sītā, Devī, Tripurātapini, Bhāvana Nṛsiṃhatāpanī, Mahānārāyaṇa (Tripād vibhuti), Rāmarahasya, Rāmatāpaṇi, Gopālatāpani, Kṛṣṇa, Hayagrīva, Dattātreya, Gāruḍa Atharvasiras,[92] Atharvaśikha, Bṛhajjābāla, Śarabha, Bhasma, Gaṇapati Śāṇḍilya, Pāśupata, Mahāvākya
Total Upanishads 108 13[note 9] 21 19 8 14 13 20


Main article: Vedanta

Impact of a drop of water, a common analogy for Brahman and the Ātman

The Upanishadic age was characterized by a pluralism of worldviews. While some Upanishads have been deemed 'monistic', others, including the Katha Upanishad, are dualistic.[93] The Maitri is one of the Upanishads that inclines more toward dualism, thus grounding classical Samkhya and Yoga schools of Hinduism, in contrast to the non-dualistic Upanishads at the foundation of its Vedanta school.[94] They contain a plurality of ideas.[95][note 11]

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan states that the Upanishads have dominated Indian philosophy, religion and life ever since their appearance.[96] The Upanishads are respected not because they are considered revealed (Shruti), but because they present spiritual ideas that are inspiring.[97] The Upanishads are treatises on Brahman-knowledge, that is knowledge of Ultimate Hidden Reality, and their presentation of philosophy presumes, "it is by a strictly personal effort that one can reach the truth".[98] In the Upanishads, states Radhakrishnan, knowledge is a means to freedom, and philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom by a way of life.[99]

The Upanishads include sections on philosophical theories that have been at the foundation of Indian traditions. For example, the Chandogya Upanishad includes one of the earliest known declarations of Ahimsa (non-violence) as an ethical precept.[100][101] Discussion of other ethical premises such as Damah (temperance, self-restraint), Satya (truthfulness), Dāna (charity), Ārjava (non-hypocrisy), Daya (compassion) and others are found in the oldest Upanishads and many later Upanishads.[102][103] Similarly, the Karma doctrine is presented in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, which is the oldest Upanishad.[104]

Development of thought

While the hymns of the Vedas emphasize rituals and the Brahmanas serve as a liturgical manual for those Vedic rituals, the spirit of the Upanishads is inherently opposed to ritual.[105] The older Upanishads launch attacks of increasing intensity on the ritual. Anyone who worships a divinity other than the self is called a domestic animal of the gods in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The Chāndogya Upanishad parodies those who indulge in the acts of sacrifice by comparing them with a procession of dogs chanting Om! Let's eat. Om! Let's drink.[105]

The Kaushitaki Upanishad asserts that "external rituals such as Agnihotram offered in the morning and in the evening, must be replaced with inner Agnihotram, the ritual of introspection", and that "not rituals, but knowledge should be one's pursuit".[106] The Mundaka Upanishad declares how man has been called upon, promised benefits for, scared unto and misled into performing sacrifices, oblations and pious works.[107] Mundaka thereafter asserts this is foolish and frail, by those who encourage it and those who follow it, because it makes no difference to man's current life and after-life, it is like blind men leading the blind, it is a mark of conceit and vain knowledge, ignorant inertia like that of children, a futile useless practice.[107][108] The Maitri Upanishad states,[109]

The performance of all the sacrifices, described in the Maitrayana-Brahmana, is to lead up in the end to a knowledge of Brahman, to prepare a man for meditation. Therefore, let such man, after he has laid those fires,[110] meditate on the Self, to become complete and perfect.

— Maitri Upanishad[111][112]

The opposition to the ritual is not explicit in the oldest Upanishads. On occasions, the Upanishads extend the task of the Aranyakas by making the ritual allegorical and giving it a philosophical meaning. For example, the Brihadaranyaka interprets the practice of horse-sacrifice or ashvamedha allegorically. It states that the over-lordship of the earth may be acquired by sacrificing a horse. It then goes on to say that spiritual autonomy can only be achieved by renouncing the universe which is conceived in the image of a horse.[105]

In similar fashion, Vedic gods such as the Agni, Aditya, Indra, Rudra, Visnu, Brahma, and others become equated in the Upanishads to the supreme, immortal, and incorporeal Brahman-Atman of the Upanishads, god becomes synonymous with self, and is declared to be everywhere, inmost being of each human being and within every living creature.[113][114][115] The one reality or ekam sat of the Vedas becomes the ekam eva advitiyam or "the one and only and sans a second" in the Upanishads.[105] Brahman-Atman and self-realization develops, in the Upanishad, as the means to moksha (liberation; freedom in this life or after-life).[115][116][117]

According to Jayatilleke, the thinkers of Upanishadic texts can be grouped into two categories.[118] One group, which includes early Upanishads along with some middle and late Upanishads, were composed by metaphysicians who used rational arguments and empirical experience to formulate their speculations and philosophical premises. The second group includes many middle and later Upanishads, where their authors professed theories based on yoga and personal experiences.[118] Yoga philosophy and practice, adds Jayatilleke, is "not entirely absent in the Early Upanishads".[118]

The development of thought in these Upanishadic theories contrasted with Buddhism, since the Upanishadic inquiry fails to find an empirical correlate of the assumed Atman, but nevertheless assumes its existence,[119] "[reifying] consciousness as an eternal self."[120] The Buddhist inquiry "is satisfied with the empirical investigation which shows that no such Atman exists because there is no evidence," states Jayatilleke.[119]

Brahman and Atman

Main articles: Ātman (Hinduism) and Brahman

Two concepts that are of paramount importance in the Upanishads are Brahman and Atman.[12] The Brahman is the ultimate reality and the Atman is individual self (soul).[121][122] Brahman is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists.[123][124][125] It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes.[121][126] Brahman is "the infinite source, fabric, core and destiny of all existence, both manifested and unmanifested, the formless infinite substratum and from which the universe has grown". Brahman in Hinduism, states Paul Deussen, as the "creative principle which lies realized in the whole world".[127]

The word Atman means the inner self, the soul, the immortal spirit in an individual, and all living beings including animals and trees.[128][122] Ātman is a central idea in all the Upanishads, and "Know your Ātman" their thematic focus.[13] These texts state that the inmost core of every person is not the body, nor the mind, nor the ego, but Atman – "soul" or "self".[129] Atman is the spiritual essence in all creatures, their real innermost essential being.[130][131] It is eternal, it is ageless. Atman is that which one is at the deepest level of one's existence.

Atman is the predominantly discussed topic in the Upanishads, but they express two distinct, somewhat divergent themes. Younger Upanishads state that Brahman (Highest Reality, Universal Principle, Being-Consciousness-Bliss) is identical with Atman, while older upanishads state Atman is part of Brahman but not identical.[132][133] The Brahmasutra by Badarayana (~ 100 BCE) synthesized and unified these somewhat conflicting theories. According to Nakamura, the Brahman sutras see Atman and Brahman as both different and not-different, a point of view which came to be called bhedabheda in later times.[134] According to Koller, the Brahman sutras state that Atman and Brahman are different in some respects particularly during the state of ignorance, but at the deepest level and in the state of self-realization, Atman and Brahman are identical, non-different.[132] This ancient debate flowered into various dual, non-dual theories in Hinduism.

Reality and Maya

Main article: Maya (illusion)

Two different types of the non-dual Brahman-Atman are presented in the Upanishads, according to Mahadevan. The one in which the non-dual Brahman-Atman is the all-inclusive ground of the universe and another in which empirical, changing reality is an appearance (Maya).[135]

The Upanishads describe the universe, and the human experience, as an interplay of Purusha (the eternal, unchanging principles, consciousness) and Prakṛti (the temporary, changing material world, nature).[136] The former manifests itself as Ātman (soul, self), and the latter as Māyā. The Upanishads refer to the knowledge of Atman as "true knowledge" (Vidya), and the knowledge of Maya as "not true knowledge" (Avidya, Nescience, lack of awareness, lack of true knowledge).[137]

Hendrick Vroom explains, "the term Maya [in the Upanishads] has been translated as 'illusion,' but then it does not concern normal illusion. Here 'illusion' does not mean that the world is not real and simply a figment of the human imagination. Maya means that the world is not as it seems; the world that one experiences is misleading as far as its true nature is concerned."[138] According to Wendy Doniger, "to say that the universe is an illusion (māyā) is not to say that it is unreal; it is to say, instead, that it is not what it seems to be, that it is something constantly being made. Māyā not only deceives people about the things they think they know; more basically, it limits their knowledge."[139]

In the Upanishads, Māyā is the perceived changing reality and it co-exists with Brahman which is the hidden true reality.[140][141] Maya, or "illusion", is an important idea in the Upanishads, because the texts assert that in the human pursuit of blissful and liberating self-knowledge, it is Maya which obscures, confuses and distracts an individual.[142][143]

Schools of Vedanta

Main article: Vedanta

Adi Shankara, expounder of Advaita Vedanta and commentator (bhashya) on the Upanishads

The Upanishads form one of the three main sources for all schools of Vedanta, together with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutras.[144] Due to the wide variety of philosophical teachings contained in the Upanishads, various interpretations could be grounded on the Upanishads. The schools of Vedānta seek to answer questions about the relation between atman and Brahman, and the relation between Brahman and the world.[145] The schools of Vedanta are named after the relation they see between atman and Brahman:[146]

• According to Advaita Vedanta, there is no difference.[146]
• According to Vishishtadvaita the jīvātman is a part of Brahman, and hence is similar, but not identical.
• According to Dvaita, all individual souls (jīvātmans) and matter as eternal and mutually separate entities.

Other schools of Vedanta include Nimbarka's Dvaitadvaita, Vallabha's Suddhadvaita and Chaitanya's Acintya Bhedabheda.[147] The philosopher Adi Sankara has provided commentaries on 11 mukhya Upanishads.[148]

Advaita Vedanta

Advaita literally means non-duality, and it is a monistic system of thought.[149] It deals with the non-dual nature of Brahman and Atman. Advaita is considered the most influential sub-school of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy.[149] Gaudapada was the first person to expound the basic principles of the Advaita philosophy in a commentary on the conflicting statements of the Upanishads.[150] Gaudapada's Advaita ideas were further developed by Shankara (8th century CE).[151][152] King states that Gaudapada's main work, Māṇḍukya Kārikā, is infused with philosophical terminology of Buddhism, and uses Buddhist arguments and analogies.[153] King also suggests that there are clear differences between Shankara's writings and the Brahmasutra,[151][152] and many ideas of Shankara are at odds with those in the Upanishads.[154] Radhakrishnan, on the other hand, suggests that Shankara's views of Advaita were straightforward developments of the Upanishads and the Brahmasutra,[155] and many ideas of Shankara derive from the Upanishads.[156]

Shankara in his discussions of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy referred to the early Upanishads to explain the key difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, stating that Hinduism asserts that Atman (soul, self) exists, whereas Buddhism asserts that there is no soul, no self.[157][158][159]

The Upanishads contain four sentences, the Mahāvākyas (Great Sayings), which were used by Shankara to establish the identity of Atman and Brahman as scriptural truth:

• "Prajñānam brahma" - "Consciousness is Brahman" (Aitareya Upanishad)[160]
• "Aham brahmāsmi" - "I am Brahman" (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad)[161]
• "Tat tvam asi" - "That Thou art" (Chandogya Upanishad)[162]
• "Ayamātmā brahma" - "This Atman is Brahman" (Mandukya Upanishad)[163]

Although there are a wide variety of philosophical positions propounded in the Upanishads, commentators since Adi Shankara have usually followed him in seeing idealist monism as the dominant force.[164][note 12]


The second school of Vedanta is the Vishishtadvaita, which was founded by Sri Ramanuja (1017–1137 CE). Sri Ramanuja disagreed with Adi Shankara and the Advaita school.[165] Visistadvaita is a synthetic philosophy bridging the monistic Advaita and theistic Dvaita systems of Vedanta.[166] Sri Ramanuja frequently cited the Upanishads, and stated that Vishishtadvaita is grounded in the Upanishads.[167][168]

Sri Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita interpretation of the Upanishad is a qualified monism.[169][170] Sri Ramanuja interprets the Upanishadic literature to be teaching a body-soul theory, states Jeaneane Fowler – a professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, where the Brahman is the dweller in all things, yet also distinct and beyond all things, as the soul, the inner controller, the immortal.[168] The Upanishads, according to the Vishishtadvaita school, teach individual souls to be of the same quality as the Brahman, but quantitatively they are distinct.[171][172][173]

In the Vishishtadvaita school, the Upanishads are interpreted to be teaching an Ishwar (Vishnu), which is the seat of all auspicious qualities, with all of the empirically perceived world as the body of God who dwells in everything.[168] The school recommends a devotion to godliness and constant remembrance of the beauty and love of personal god. This ultimately leads one to the oneness with abstract Brahman.[174][175][176] The Brahman in the Upanishads is a living reality, states Fowler, and "the Atman of all things and all beings" in Sri Ramanuja's interpretation.[168]


The third school of Vedanta called the Dvaita school was founded by Madhvacharya (1199–1278 CE).[177] It is regarded as a strongly theistic philosophic exposition of the Upanishads.[166] Madhvacharya, much like Adi Shankara claims for Advaita, and Sri Ramanuja claims for Vishishtadvaita, states that his theistic Dvaita Vedanta is grounded in the Upanishads.[167]

According to the Dvaita school, states Fowler, the "Upanishads that speak of the soul as Brahman, speak of resemblance and not identity".[178] Madhvacharya interprets the Upanishadic teachings of the self becoming one with Brahman, as "entering into Brahman", just like a drop enters an ocean. This to the Dvaita school implies duality and dependence, where Brahman and Atman are different realities. Brahman is a separate, independent and supreme reality in the Upanishads, Atman only resembles the Brahman in limited, inferior, dependent manner according to Madhvacharya.[178][179][180]

Sri Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita school and Shankara's Advaita school are both nondualism Vedanta schools,[174] both are premised on the assumption that all souls can hope for and achieve the state of blissful liberation; in contrast, Madhvacharya believed that some souls are eternally doomed and damned.[181][182]

Similarities with Platonic thought

See also: Proto-Indo-European religion and Ṛta

Several scholars have recognised parallels between the philosophy of Pythagoras and Plato and that of the Upanishads, including their ideas on sources of knowledge, concept of justice and path to salvation, and Plato's allegory of the cave. Platonic psychology with its divisions of reason, spirit and appetite, also bears resemblance to the three gunas in the Indian philosophy of Samkhya.[183][184][note 13]

Various mechanisms for such a transmission of knowledge have been conjectured including Pythagoras traveling as far as India; Indian philosophers visiting Athens and meeting Socrates; Plato encountering the ideas when in exile in Syracuse; or, intermediated through Persia.[183][186]

However, other scholars, such as Arthur Berriedale Keith, J. Burnet and A. R. Wadia, believe that the two systems developed independently. They note that there is no historical evidence of the philosophers of the two schools meeting, and point out significant differences in the stage of development, orientation and goals of the two philosophical systems. Wadia writes that Plato's metaphysics were rooted in this life and his primary aim was to develop an ideal state.[184] In contrast, Upanishadic focus was the individual, the self (atman, soul), self-knowledge, and the means of an individual's moksha (freedom, liberation in this life or after-life).[187][14][188]


The Upanishads have been translated into various languages including Persian, Italian, Urdu, French, Latin, German, English, Dutch, Polish, Japanese, Spanish and Russian.[189] The Mughal Emperor Akbar's reign (1556–1586) saw the first translations of the Upanishads into Persian.[190][191] His great-grandson, Dara Shukoh, produced a collection called Sirr-i-Akbar in 1656, wherein 50 Upanishads were translated from Sanskrit into Persian.[192]

Anquetil Duperron, a French Orientalist received a manuscript of the Oupanekhat and translated the Persian version into French and Latin, publishing the Latin translation in two volumes in 1801–1802 as Oupneck'hat.[192][190] The French translation was never published.[193] The Latin version was the initial introduction of the Upanishadic thought to Western scholars.[194] However, according to Deussen, the Persian translators took great liberties in translating the text and at times changed the meaning.[195]

The first Sanskrit to English translation of the Aitareya Upanishad was made by Colebrooke,[196] in 1805 and the first English translation of the Kena Upanishad was made by Rammohun Roy in 1816.[197][198]

The first German translation appeared in 1832 and Roer's English version appeared in 1853. However, Max Mueller's 1879 and 1884 editions were the first systematic English treatment to include the 12 Principal Upanishads.[189] Other major translations of the Upanishads have been by Robert Ernest Hume (13 Principal Upanishads),[199] Paul Deussen (60 Upanishads),[200] Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (18 Upanishads),[201] Patrick Olivelle (32 Upanishads in two books)[202][164] and Bhānu Swami (13 Upanishads with commentaries of Vaiṣṇava ācāryas). Olivelle's translation won the 1998 A.K. Ramanujan Book Prize for Translation.[203]

Throughout the 1930's, Irish-poet W. B. Yeats worked with the Indian-born mendicant-teacher Shri Purohit Swami on their own translation of the Upanishads, eventually titled The Ten Principal Upanishads and published in 1938. This translation was the final piece of work published by Yeats before his death less than a year later.[204]
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Reception in the West

German 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, impressed by the Upanishads, called the texts "the production of the highest human wisdom".

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer read the Latin translation and praised the Upanishads in his main work, The World as Will and Representation (1819), as well as in his Parerga and Paralipomena (1851).[205] He found his own philosophy was in accord with the Upanishads, which taught that the individual is a manifestation of the one basis of reality. For Schopenhauer, that fundamentally real underlying unity is what we know in ourselves as "will". Schopenhauer used to keep a copy of the Latin Oupnekhet by his side and commented,

It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death.[206]

Another German philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, praised the ideas in the Upanishads,[207] as did others.[208] In the United States, the group known as the Transcendentalists were influenced by the German idealists. Americans, such as Emerson and Thoreau embraced Schelling's interpretation of Kant's Transcendental idealism, as well as his celebration of the romantic, exotic, mystical aspect of the Upanishads. As a result of the influence of these writers, the Upanishads gained renown in Western countries.[209]

The poet T. S. Eliot, inspired by his reading of the Upanishads, based the final portion of his famous poem The Waste Land (1922) upon one of its verses.[210] According to Eknath Easwaran, the Upanishads are snapshots of towering peaks of consciousness.[211]

Juan Mascaró, a professor at the University of Barcelona and a translator of the Upanishads, states that the Upanishads represents for the Hindu approximately what the New Testament represents for the Christian, and that the message of the Upanishads can be summarized in the words, "the kingdom of God is within you".[212]

Paul Deussen in his review of the Upanishads, states that the texts emphasize Brahman-Atman as something that can be experienced, but not defined.[213] This view of the soul and self are similar, states Deussen, to those found in the dialogues of Plato and elsewhere. The Upanishads insisted on oneness of soul, excluded all plurality, and therefore, all proximity in space, all succession in time, all interdependence as cause and effect, and all opposition as subject and object.[213] Max Müller, in his review of the Upanishads, summarizes the lack of systematic philosophy and the central theme in the Upanishads as follows,

There is not what could be called a philosophical system in these Upanishads. They are, in the true sense of the word, guesses at truth, frequently contradicting each other, yet all tending in one direction. The key-note of the old Upanishads is "know thyself," but with a much deeper meaning than that of the γνῶθι σεαυτόν of the Delphic Oracle. The "know thyself" of the Upanishads means, know thy true self, that which underlines thine Ego, and find it and know it in the highest, the eternal Self, the One without a second, which underlies the whole world.

— Max Müller[14]

See also

• Hinduism portal
• 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written
• Bhagavad Gita
• Hinduism
• Prasthanatrayi
• Mukhya Upanishads


1. The shared concepts include rebirth, samsara, karma, meditation, renunciation and moksha.[4]
2. The Upanishadic, Buddhist and Jain renunciation traditions form parallel traditions, which share some common concepts and interests. While Kuru-Panchala, at the central Ganges Plain, formed the center of the early Upanishadic tradition, Kosala-Magadha at the central Ganges Plain formed the center of the other shramanic traditions.[5]
3. Advaita Vedanta, summarized by Shankara (788–820), advances a non-dualistic (a-dvaita) interpretation of the Upanishads."[16]
4. "These Upanishadic ideas are developed into Advaita monism. Brahman's unity comes to be taken to mean that appearances of individualities.[17]
5. "The doctrine of advaita (non dualism) has its origin in the Upanishads."
6. The pre-Buddhist Upanishads are: Brihadaranyaka, Chandogya, Kaushitaki, Aitareya, and Taittiriya Upanishads.[21]
7. These are believed to pre-date Gautam Buddha (c. 500 BCE)[68]
8. The Muktika manuscript found in colonial era Calcutta is the usual default, but other recensions exist.
9. Some scholars list ten as principal, while most consider twelve or thirteen as principal mukhya Upanishads.[82][83][84]
10. Parmeshwaranand classifies Maitrayani with Samaveda, most scholars with Krishna Yajurveda[79][90]
11. Oliville: "In this Introduction I have avoided speaking of 'the philosophy of the upanishads', a common feature of most introductions to their translations. These documents were composed over several centuries and in various regions, and it is futile to try to discover a single doctrine or philosophy in them."[95]
12. According to Collins, the breakdown of the Vedic cults is more obscured by retrospective ideology than any other period in Indian history. It is commonly assumed that the dominant philosophy now became an idealist monism, the identification of atman (self) and Brahman (Spirit), and that this mysticism was believed to provide a way to transcend rebirths on the wheel of karma. This is far from an accurate picture of what we read in the Upanishads. It has become traditional to view the Upanishads through the lens of Shankara's Advaita interpretation. This imposes the philosophical revolution of about 700 C.E. upon a very different situation 1,000 to 1,500 years earlier. Shankara picked out monist and idealist themes from a much wider philosophical lineup.[154]
13. For instances of Platonic pluralism in the early Upanishads see Randall.[185]


1. "Upanishad". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
2. Wendy Doniger (1990), Textual Sources for the Study of Hinduism, 1st Edition, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226618470, pages 2-3; Quote: "The Upanishads supply the basis of later Hindu philosophy; they are widely known and quoted by most well-educated Hindus, and their central ideas have also become a part of the spiritual arsenal of rank-and-file Hindus."
3. Wiman Dissanayake (1993), Self as Body in Asian Theory and Practice (Editors: Thomas P. Kasulis et al), State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791410806, page 39; Quote: "The Upanishads form the foundations of Hindu philosophical thought and the central theme of the Upanishads is the identity of Atman and Brahman, or the inner self and the cosmic self.";
Michael McDowell and Nathan Brown (2009), World Religions, Penguin, ISBN 978-1592578467, pages 208-210
4. Olivelle 1998, pp. xx-xxiv.
5. Samuel 2010.
6. Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521438780, pp. 35–39
7. A Bhattacharya (2006), Hindu Dharma: Introduction to Scriptures and Theology, ISBN 978-0595384556, pp. 8–14; George M. Williams (2003), Handbook of Hindu Mythology, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195332612, p. 285
8. Jan Gonda (1975), Vedic Literature: (Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas), Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447016032
9. Patrick Olivelle 1998, pp. 3-4.
10. Patrick Olivelle (2014), The Early Upanisads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195352429, page 3; Quote: "Even though theoretically the whole of vedic corpus is accepted as revealed truth [shruti], in reality it is the Upanishads that have continued to influence the life and thought of the various religious traditions that we have come to call Hindu. Upanishads are the scriptures par excellence of Hinduism".
11. Max Müller, The Upanishads, Part 1, Oxford University Press, page LXXXVI footnote 1
12. Mahadevan 1956, p. 59.
13. PT Raju (1985), Structural Depths of Indian Thought, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0887061394, pages 35-36
14. WD Strappini, The Upanishads, p. 258, at Google Books, The Month and Catholic Review, Vol. 23, Issue 42
15. Ranade 1926, p. 205.
16. Cornille 1992, p. 12.
17. Phillips 1995, p. 10.
18. Stephen Phillips (2009), Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231144858, pages 25-29 and Chapter 1
19. E Easwaran (2007), The Upanishads, ISBN 978-1586380212, pages 298-299
20. Mahadevan 1956, p. 56.
21. Patrick Olivelle (2014), The Early Upanishads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195124354, pages 12-14
22. King 1995, p. 52.
23. Olivelle 1992, pp. 5, 8–9.
24. Flood 1996, p. 96.
25. Ranade 1926, p. 12.
26. Varghese 2008, p. 101.
27. Clarke, John James (1997). Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-415-13376-0.
28. Deussen 2010, p. 42, Quote: "Here we have to do with the Upanishads, and the world-wide historical significance of these documents cannot, in our judgement, be more clearly indicated than by showing how the deep fundamental conception of Plato and Kant was precisely that which already formed the basis of Upanishad teaching"..
29. Lawrence Hatab (1982). R. Baine Harris (ed.). Neoplatonism and Indian Thought. State University of New York Press. pp. 31–38. ISBN 978-0-87395-546-1.;
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37. Patrick Olivelle (2014), The Early Upanishads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195124354, page 185
38. motivation stories on upanishad
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40. Vaman Shivaram Apte, The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary Archived 15 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine, see apauruSeya
41. D Sharma, Classical Indian Philosophy: A Reader, Columbia University Press, ISBN, pages 196-197
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45. Mahadevan 1956, pp. 59-60.
46. Ellison Findly (1999), Women and the Arahant Issue in Early Pali Literature, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol. 15, No. 1, pages 57-76
47. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 301-304
48. For example, see: Kaushitaki Upanishad Robert Hume (Translator), Oxford University Press, page 306 footnote 2
49. Max Müller, The Upanishads, p. PR72, at Google Books, Oxford University Press, page LXXII
50. Patrick Olivelle (1998), Unfaithful Transmitters, Journal of Indian Philosophy, April 1998, Volume 26, Issue 2, pages 173-187;
Patrick Olivelle (2014), The Early Upanishads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195124354, pages 583-640
51. WD Whitney, The Upanishads and Their Latest Translation, The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 7, No. 1, pages 1-26;
F Rusza (2010), The authorlessness of the philosophical sūtras, Acta Orientalia, Volume 63, Number 4, pages 427-442
52. Mark Juergensmeyer et al. (2011), Encyclopedia of Global Religion, SAGE Publications, ISBN 978-0761927297, page 1122
53. Olivelle 1998, pp. 12-13.
54. Olivelle 1998, p. xxxvi.
55. Patrick Olivelle, Upanishads, Encyclopædia Britannica
56. Olivelle 1998, p. xxxvii.
57. Olivelle 1998, p. xxxviii.
58. Olivelle 1998, p. xxxix.
59. Deussen 1908, pp. 35–36.
60. Tripathy 2010, p. 84.
61. Sen 1937, p. 19.
62. Ayyangar, T. R. Srinivasa (1941). The Samanya-Vedanta Upanisads. Jain Publishing (Reprint 2007). ISBN 978-0895819833. OCLC 27193914.
63. Deussen, Bedekar & Palsule (tr.) 1997, pp. 556-568.
64. Holdrege 1995, pp. 426.
65. Srinivasan, Doris (1997). Many Heads, Arms, and Eyes. BRILL Academic. pp. 112–120. ISBN 978-9004107588.
66. Ayyangar, TRS (1953). Saiva Upanisads. Jain Publishing Co. (Reprint 2007). pp. 194–196. ISBN 978-0895819819.
67. M. Fujii, On the formation and transmission of the JUB, Harvard Oriental Series, Opera Minora 2, 1997
68. Olivelle 1998, pp. 3–4.
69. Ranade 1926, p. 61.
70. Joshi 1994, pp. 90–92.
71. Heehs 2002, p. 85.
72. Rinehart 2004, p. 17.
73. Singh 2002, pp. 3–4.
74. Schrader & Adyar Library 1908, p. v.
75. Olivelle 1998, pp. xxxii-xxxiii.
76. Paul Deussen (1966), The Philosophy of the Upanishads, Dover, ISBN 978-0486216164, pages 283-296; for an example, see Garbha Upanishad
77. Patrick Olivelle (1992), The Samnyasa Upanisads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195070453, pages 1-12, 98-100; for an example, see Bhikshuka Upanishad
78. Brooks 1990, pp. 13–14.
79. Parmeshwaranand 2000, pp. 404–406.
80. Paul Deussen (2010 Reprint), Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 2, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814691, pages 566-568
81. Peter Heehs (2002), Indian Religions, New York University Press, ISBN 978-0814736500, pages 60-88
82. Robert C Neville (2000), Ultimate Realities, SUNY Press, ISBN 978-0791447765, page 319
83. Stephen Phillips (2009), Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231144858, pages 28-29
84. Olivelle 1998, p. xxiii.
85. Patrick Olivelle (1992), The Samnyasa Upanisads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195070453, pages x-xi, 5
86. The Yoga Upanishads TR Srinivasa Ayyangar (Translator), SS Sastri (Editor), Adyar Library
87. AM Sastri, The Śākta Upaniṣads, with the commentary of Śrī Upaniṣad-Brahma-Yogin, Adyar Library, OCLC 7475481
88. AM Sastri, The Vaishnava-upanishads: with the commentary of Sri Upanishad-brahma-yogin, Adyar Library, OCLC 83901261
89. AM Sastri, The Śaiva-Upanishads with the commentary of Sri Upanishad-Brahma-Yogin, Adyar Library, OCLC 863321204
90. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 217-219
91. Prāṇāgnihotra is missing in some anthologies, included by Paul Deussen (2010 Reprint), Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 2, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814691, page 567
92. Atharvasiras is missing in some anthologies, included by Paul Deussen (2010 Reprint), Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 2, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814691, page 568
93. Glucklich 2008, p. 70.
94. Fields 2001, p. 26.
95. Olivelle 1998, p. 4.
96. S Radhakrishnan, The Principal Upanishads George Allen & Co., 1951, pages 17-19, Reprinted as ISBN 978-8172231248
97. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, The Principal Upanishads, Indus / Harper Collins India; 5th edition (1994), ISBN 978-8172231248
98. S Radhakrishnan, The Principal Upanishads George Allen & Co., 1951, pages 19-20, Reprinted as ISBN 978-8172231248
99. S Radhakrishnan, The Principal Upanishads George Allen & Co., 1951, page 24, Reprinted as ISBN 978-8172231248
100. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 114-115 with preface and footnotes;
Robert Hume, Chandogya Upanishad 3.17, The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Oxford University Press, pages 212-213
101. Henk Bodewitz (1999), Hindu Ahimsa, in Violence Denied (Editors: Jan E. M. Houben, et al), Brill, ISBN 978-9004113442, page 40
102. PV Kane, Samanya Dharma, History of Dharmasastra, Vol. 2, Part 1, page 5
103. Chatterjea, Tara. Knowledge and Freedom in Indian Philosophy. Oxford: Lexington Books. p. 148.
104. Tull, Herman W. The Vedic Origins of Karma: Cosmos as Man in Ancient Indian Myth and Ritual. SUNY Series in Hindu Studies. P. 28
105. Mahadevan 1956, p. 57.
106. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 30-42;
107. Max Müller (1962), Manduka Upanishad, in The Upanishads - Part II, Oxford University Press, Reprinted as ISBN 978-0486209937, pages 30-33
108. Eduard Roer, Mundaka Upanishad[permanent dead link] Bibliotheca Indica, Vol. XV, No. 41 and 50, Asiatic Society of Bengal, pages 153-154
109. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 331-333
110. "laid those fires" is a phrase in Vedic literature that implies yajna and related ancient religious rituals; see Maitri Upanishad - Sanskrit Text with English Translation[permanent dead link] EB Cowell (Translator), Cambridge University, Bibliotheca Indica, First Prapathaka
111. Max Müller, The Upanishads, Part 2, Maitrayana-Brahmana Upanishad, Oxford University Press, pages 287-288
112. Hume, Robert Ernest (1921), The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Oxford University Press, pp. 412–414
113. Hume, Robert Ernest (1921), The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Oxford University Press, pp. 428–429
114. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 350-351
115. Paul Deussen, The Philosophy of Upanishads at Google Books, University of Kiel, T&T Clark, pages 342-355, 396-412
116. RC Mishra (2013), Moksha and the Hindu Worldview, Psychology & Developing Societies, Vol. 25, No. 1, pages 21-42
117. Mark B. Woodhouse (1978), Consciousness and Brahman-Atman, The Monist, Vol. 61, No. 1, Conceptions of the Self: East & West (JANUARY, 1978), pages 109-124
118. Jayatilleke 1963, p. 32.
119. Jayatilleke 1963, pp. 39.
120. Mackenzie 2012.
121. James Lochtefeld, Brahman, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-0823931798, page 122
122. [a]Richard King (1995), Early Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791425138, page 64, Quote: "Atman as the innermost essence or soul of man, and Brahman as the innermost essence and support of the universe. (...) Thus we can see in the Upanishads, a tendency towards a convergence of microcosm and macrocosm, culminating in the equating of Atman with Brahman".
[ b] Chad Meister (2010), The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195340136, page 63; Quote: "Even though Buddhism explicitly rejected the Hindu ideas of Atman ("soul") and Brahman, Hinduism treats Sakyamuni Buddha as one of the ten avatars of Vishnu."
[c] David Lorenzen (2004), The Hindu World (Editors: Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby), Routledge, ISBN 0-415215277, pages 208-209, Quote: "Advaita and nirguni movements, on the other hand, stress an interior mysticism in which the devotee seeks to discover the identity of individual soul (atman) with the universal ground of being (brahman) or to find god within himself".
123. PT Raju (2006), Idealistic Thought of India, Routledge, ISBN 978-1406732627, page 426 and Conclusion chapter part XII
124. Mariasusai Dhavamony (2002), Hindu-Christian Dialogue: Theological Soundings and Perspectives, Rodopi Press, ISBN 978-9042015104, pages 43-44
125. For dualism school of Hinduism, see: Francis X. Clooney (2010), Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199738724, pages 51-58, 111-115;
For monist school of Hinduism, see: B Martinez-Bedard (2006), Types of Causes in Aristotle and Sankara, Thesis - Department of Religious Studies (Advisors: Kathryn McClymond and Sandra Dwyer), Georgia State University, pages 18-35
126. Jeffrey Brodd (2009), World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery, Saint Mary's Press, ISBN 978-0884899976, pages 43-47
127. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, page 91
128. [a] Atman, Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press (2012), Quote: "1. real self of the individual; 2. a person's soul";
[ b] John Bowker (2000), The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0192800947, See entry for Atman;
[c] WJ Johnson (2009), A Dictionary of Hinduism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0198610250, See entry for Atman (self).
129. Soul is synonymous with self in translations of ancient texts of Hindu philosophy
130. Alice Bailey (1973), The Soul and Its Mechanism, ISBN 978-0853301158, pages 82-83
131. Eknath Easwaran (2007), The Upanishads, Nilgiri Press, ISBN 978-1586380212, pages 38-39, 318-320
132. John Koller (2012), Shankara, in Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, (Editors: Chad Meister, Paul Copan), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415782944, pages 99-102
133. Paul Deussen, The Philosophy of the Upanishads at Google Books, Dover Publications, pages 86-111, 182-212
134. Nakamura (1990), A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy, p.500. Motilall Banarsidas
135. Mahadevan 1956, pp. 62-63.
136. Paul Deussen, The Philosophy of the Upanishads, p. 161, at Google Books, pages 161, 240-254
137. Ben-Ami Scharfstein (1998), A Comparative History of World Philosophy: From the Upanishads to Kant, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791436844, page 376
138. H.M. Vroom (1996), No Other Gods, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 978-0802840974, page 57
139. Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty (1986), Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226618555, page 119
140. Archibald Edward Gough (2001), The Philosophy of the Upanishads and Ancient Indian Metaphysics, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415245227, pages 47-48
141. Teun Goudriaan (2008), Maya: Divine And Human, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120823891, pages 1-17
142. KN Aiyar (Translator, 1914), Sarvasara Upanishad, in Thirty Minor Upanishads, page 17, OCLC 6347863
143. Adi Shankara, Commentary on Taittiriya Upanishad at Google Books, SS Sastri (Translator), Harvard University Archives, pages 191-198
144. Radhakrishnan 1956, p. 272.
145. Raju 1992, p. 176-177.
146. Raju 1992, p. 177.
147. Ranade 1926, pp. 179–182.
148. Mahadevan 1956, p. 63.
149. Encyclopædia Britannica.
150. Radhakrishnan 1956, p. 273.
151. King 1999, p. 221.
152. Nakamura 2004, p. 31.
153. King 1999, p. 219.
154. Collins 2000, p. 195.
155. Radhakrishnan 1956, p. 284.
156. John Koller (2012), Shankara in Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Editors: Chad Meister, Paul Copan), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415782944, pages 99-108
157. Edward Roer (translator), Shankara's Introduction, p. 3, at Google Books to Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad at pages 3-4; Quote - "(...) Lokayatikas and Bauddhas who assert that the soul does not exist. There are four sects among the followers of Buddha: 1. Madhyamicas who maintain all is void; 2. Yogacharas, who assert except sensation and intelligence all else is void; 3. Sautranticas, who affirm actual existence of external objects no less than of internal sensations; 4. Vaibhashikas, who agree with later (Sautranticas) except that they contend for immediate apprehension of exterior objects through images or forms represented to the intellect."
158. Edward Roer (Translator), Shankara's Introduction, p. 3, at Google Books to Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad at page 3, OCLC 19373677
159. KN Jayatilleke (2010), Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge, ISBN 978-8120806191, pages 246-249, from note 385 onwards;
Steven Collins (1994), Religion and Practical Reason (Editors: Frank Reynolds, David Tracy), State Univ of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791422175, page 64; Quote: "Central to Buddhist soteriology is the doctrine of not-self (Pali: anattā, Sanskrit: anātman, the opposed doctrine of ātman is central to Brahmanical thought). Put very briefly, this is the [Buddhist] doctrine that human beings have no soul, no self, no unchanging essence.";
Edward Roer (Translator), Shankara's Introduction, p. 2, at Google Books, pages 2-4
Katie Javanaud (2013), Is The Buddhist 'No-Self' Doctrine Compatible With Pursuing Nirvana?, Philosophy Now;
John C. Plott et al (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Axial Age, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120801585, page 63, Quote: "The Buddhist schools reject any Ātman concept. As we have already observed, this is the basic and ineradicable distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism".
160. Panikkar 2001, p. 669.
161. Panikkar 2001, pp. 725–727.
162. Panikkar 2001, pp. 747–750.
163. Panikkar 2001, pp. 697–701.
164. Olivelle 1998.
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• Nakamura, Hajime (2004), A history of early Vedānta philosophy, 2, Trevor Leggett, Motilal Banarsidass
• Patrick Olivelle (1998). The Early Upanisads. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195124354.
• Olivelle, Patrick (1992). The Samnyasa Upanisads. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195070453.
• Olivelle, Patrick (1998), Upaniṣads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0192835765
• Panikkar, Raimundo (2001), The Vedic experience: Mantramañjarī : an anthology of the Vedas for modern man and contemporary celebration, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-1280-2
• Parmeshwaranand, Swami (2000), Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Upanisads, Sarup & Sons, ISBN 978-81-7625-148-8
• Phillips, Stephen H. (1995), Classical Indian metaphysics: refutations of realism and the emergence of "new logic", Open Court Publishing, ISBN 978-81-208-1489-9, retrieved 24 October 2010
• Samuel, Geoffrey (2010), The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge University Press
• Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli (1956), Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (ed.), History of Philosophy Eastern and Western, George Allen & Unwin Ltd
• Raghavendrachar, Vidvan H. N (1956), Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (ed.), History of Philosophy Eastern and Western
• Ranade, R. D. (1926), A constructive survey of Upanishadic philosophy, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
• Rinehart, Robin (2004), Robin Rinehart (ed.), Contemporary Hinduism: ritual, culture, and practice, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-1-57607-905-8
• Schopenhauer, Arthur; Payne, E. F.J (2000), E. F. J. Payne (ed.), Parerga and paralipomena: short philosophical essays, Volume 2 of Parerga and Paralipomena, E. F. J. Payne, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-924221-4
• Schrödinger, Erwin (1992). What is life?. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-42708-1.
• Schrader, Friedrich Otto; Adyar Library (1908), A descriptive catalogue of the Sanskrit manuscripts in the Adyar Library, Oriental Pub. Co
• Sen, Sris Chandra (1937), "Vedic literature and Upanishads", The Mystic Philosophy of the Upanishads, General Printers & Publishers
• Sharma, B. N. Krishnamurti (2000). A history of the Dvaita school of Vedānta and its literature: from the earliest beginnings to our own times. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 978-81-208-1575-9.
• Sharma, Shubhra (1985), Life in the Upanishads, Abhinav Publications, ISBN 978-81-7017-202-4
• Singh, N.K (2002), Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, Anmol Publications PVT. LTD, ISBN 978-81-7488-168-7
• Slater, Thomas Ebenezer (1897), Studies in the Upanishads ATLA monograph preservation program, Christian Literature Society for India
• Smith, Huston (1995). The Illustrated World's Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions. New York: Labyrinth Publishing. ISBN 0-06-067453-9.
• Tripathy, Preeti (2010), Indian religions: tradition, history and culture, Axis Publications, ISBN 978-93-80376-17-2
• Urwick, Edward Johns (1920), The message of Plato: a re-interpretation of the "Republic", Methuen & co. ltd, ISBN 9781136231162
• Varghese, Alexander P (2008), India : History, Religion, Vision And Contribution To The World, Volume 1, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, ISBN 978-81-269-0903-2
• Versluis, Arthur (1993), American transcendentalism and Asian religions, Oxford University Press US, ISBN 978-0-19-507658-5
• Wadia, A.R. (1956), "Socrates, Plato and Aristotle", in Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli (ed.), History of Philosophy Eastern and Western, vol. II, George Allen & Unwin Ltd
• Raju, P. T. (1992), The Philosophical Traditions of India, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited

Further reading

• Edgerton, Franklin (1965). The Beginnings of Indian Philosophy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
• Embree, Ainslie T. (1966). The Hindu Tradition. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-71702-3.
• Hume, Robert Ernest. The Thirteen Principal Upanishads. Oxford University Press.
• Johnston, Charles (1898). From the Upanishads. Kshetra Books (Reprinted in 2014). ISBN 9781495946530.
• Müller, Max, translator, The Upaniṣads, Part I, New York: Dover Publications (Reprinted in 1962), ISBN 0-486-20992-X
• Müller, Max, translator, The Upaniṣads, Part II, New York: Dover Publications (Reprinted in 1962), ISBN 0-486-20993-8
• Radhakrishnan, Sarvapalli (1953). The Principal Upanishads. New Delhi: HarperCollins Publishers India (Reprinted in 1994). ISBN 81-7223-124-5.

External links

• Complete set of 108 Upanishads, Manuscripts with the commentary of Brahma-Yogin, Adyar Library
• Upanishads, Sanskrit documents in various formats
• The Upaniṣads article in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
• The Theory of 'Soul' in the Upanishads, T. W. Rhys Davids (1899)
• Spinozistic Substance and Upanishadic Self: A Comparative Study, M. S. Modak (1931)
• W. B. Yeats and the Upanishads, A. Davenport (1952)
• The Concept of Self in the Upanishads: An Alternative Interpretation, D. C. Mathur (1972)
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Krista Purana
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/24/21

Krista Purana
The third edition of the Krista Purana (1654)
Author: Fr. Thomas Stephans (1549-1619)
Country: India
Language: in a mix of Marathi-Konkani
Subject: Christianity
Publisher: College of Rachol, Goa
Publication date: 1616
Media type: manuscript
Preceded by: Krista Purana (first edition) in 1616
Followed by: Doutrina Christam em Lingoa Bramana Canarim

Krista Purana (/ˈkɾist̪ə puˈɾaːɳə/; Devanagari: क्रिस्त पुराण, "The Christian Puranas") is an epic poem on the life of Jesus Christ written in a mix of Marathi and Konkani by Fr.Thomas Stephens, S.J. (1549–1619). Adopting the literary form of the Hindu puranas, it retells the entire story of mankind from the creation days to the time of Jesus, in lyrical verse form. The Christian Puranas – 11,000 stanzas of 4 verses – were very popular in the churches of the area where they were sung on special occasions up to the 1930s. Although no copy of the original edition has yet been discovered, it is believed to have been published at Rachol (Raitur) in 1616 (while the author was still living), 1649, and 1654.


1. Discurso sobre a vinda do Jesu-Christo Nosso Salvador ao mundo, dividido em dous Tratados, pelo Padre Thomaz Estevão, Inglez, da Companhia de Jesu. Impresso em Rachol com licencia da Santa Inquisicão, e Ordinario no Collegio de Todos os Santos da Companhia de Jesu Anno 1616.[1] First edition, Rachol [Raitur], Goa, 1616. [Roman script.] The title with all its details is taken from the ‘Licence,’ which itself is found not in the MS collated by J.L. Saldanha, but in J.H. da Cunha Rivara’s Introduction to his edition of Stephens, Grammatica da Lingua Concani, 1857,[2] Imprimatur 22 June 1615. "From the Censures and Licences annexed it seems to have originally been written in Portuguese and then translated into the vernacular in which we now find it. The translation appears to have been completed in 1614,[3] and printed for the first time, in 1616, as declared in the descriptive title in Portuguese first given to the book."[4] No copy has been traced to date.
2. Puranna. Second edition, 1649. [Roman script.] "A second edition, taken in hand in 1646 under the auspices of the aforementioned Fr[ei] Gaspar de S. Miguel, who, with some other ecclesiastics, completed a revision of the work on 20 February 1649, appears to have been published in the latter year under the title of the Puránna, in place of the original Portuguese designation borne by the first edition…. It is not known where the second edition was printed."[5] The Drago edition, however, indicates (see front matter) that it was printed at Raitur, Goa, 1649. No copy has been traced to date.
3. Puránna. Em Goa com licenca da Santa Inquisicao e Ordinario no Collegio de S. Paolo novo de Companhia de Jesu. Anno de 1654. Third edition, Old Goa [according to Drago], 1654. [Roman script.] Licences by Rev. Fr Lucas da Cruz and another, dt. 2 January 1653 and 22 June 1654. No copy has been traced to date. See, however, the MS preserved in the Central Library, Panjim, listed below, which claims to be a copy of this third, 1654, edition. (The photo alongside is of this MS.)
4. The Christian Puránna of Father Thomas Stephens of the Society of Jesus: A Work of the 17th Century: Reproduced from manuscript copies and edited with a biographical note, an introduction, an English synopsis of contents and vocabulary. [Roman script.] 4th edition, by Joseph L. Saldanha. Bolar, Mangalore: Simon Alvares, 1907. Pp. xci+597. [Copies available at XB; St Pius X Seminary, Goregaon, Mumbai.]
5. Phādara Stīphanskṛta Khristapurāṇa: Paile va Dusare. 5th edition, by Shantaram P. Bandelu. First [printed edition in] Devanagari script. Poona: Prasad Prakashan, 1956. Pp. iv+(15)+(96)+1076. [Copies available at De Nobili College, Pune; United Theological College, Bangalore.]
6. Kristapurāṇa. 6th edition, by Caridade Drago, SJ. Second [printed edition in] Devanagari script. Pp. li+907. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1996. [Copies available at Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr, Alto Porvorim, Goa; Divyadaan: Salesian Institute of Philosophy, Nashik.]
7. Phādara Thomas Stīphanskṛta Khristapurāṇa: Purāṇa 1 va 2: Sudhārita ani vistārita sampurṇa avṛtti hastalikhita Mārsden Marāṭhi padya pratitīla śloka, Marāṭhi bhāṣāntara; vistṛta sandarbha, parisiste va granthasuchi. Ed. and tr. Nelson Falcao, SDB. Bangalore: Kristu Jyoti Publications, 2009.
8. "Christa Purana" (Konkani Translation). Edited and Translated by Suresh G. Amonkar. Goa: Directorate of Art and Culture, 2017.


In Goa

At least five MS of the Khristapurana have been located to date in Goa:

1. The Goa Central Library MS: Discurso sobre a vinda de Jesu Christo Nosso Salvador ao Mundo dividido em dous tratados feito pelo Padre Thomas Estevão Ingrez da Companhia de Jesus. Impresso em Goa com licenca das Inquisicão, e Ordinario no Collegio de S. Paulo novo de Companhia de Jesu. Anno de 1654, Escripto por Manoel Salvador Rebello, Natural de Margão no Anno 1767. (CL)
2. The Pilar MS, at the Museum of the Pilar Monastery, Pilar, Goa. (P)
3. The M.C. Saldanha MS at the Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr, Alto Porvorim, Goa (TSKK-1). Whether this M.C. Saldanha is the same as the well-known professor Mariano Saldanha of Ucassaim, Goa, is yet to be established. But from the fact that the MS has been bound in Kodailbail, Mangalore, it is highly probable that this is one of the 5 MS used by J.L. Saldanha in the preparation of his 1907 edition of the Khristapurana.[6]
4. Another MS at the Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr (TSKK-2).
5. The Bhaugun Kamat Vagh MS in the Pissurlencar Collection at the Goa University Library (BKV).

Apart from CL, the MS are not dated. The chronology will therefore have to be established from internal evidence, taking into account the terminology (Romanized or Sanskritized), the number of cantos and strophes, the interpolations, the Praise of Marathi (missing in the Marsden MS), the chapter on the Miracle at Cana (missing in the Marsden MS), etc. This will also help us move closer to establishing whether or not the Sanskritized M was the ‘original’ text of the Khristapurana.

In the United Kingdom

1. The Adi or First Puran + The Deva Puran. [Devanagari manuscripts.] Marsden Collection Manuscripts. London: School of Oriental and African Studies. N.d.[7]

The manuscripts had belonged to the library of William Marsden who, Abbot says, ‘a century ago’ had made a large collection of coins and Oriental books when in India, many of the latter having been obtained from the Archives in Goa (which Archives, Abbot does not say). The library was given by Marsden to the Kings College, London, in 1853, but in 1916 came into the possession of the School of Oriental Studies. The catalogue contained only a few Marathi items. Abbot reports two, with entries made by Mr Marsden as follows: "The Adi or First Puran, a Christian work in the Mahratta language and Nagari character appearing to contain an exposition of the Old Testament." "The Deva Puran, or Divine History, a Christian work in the Mahratta language and Nagari character appearing to contain an exposition of the New Testament or History of Christ." The manuscript is in two volumes differing in handwriting. The Deva Puran is a copy of an older copy. The MS end in the usual form of an Indian Puran, Iti Mahapurane, or Iti Deva-Purane, which the Mangalore text does not do.[8]

Abbott claims that this is a copy of Thomas Stephens’ original text. Bandelu feels that there is not enough evidence for Abbott’s claim. Falcao follows Abbott without really arguing his case. Strangely, while admitting that the Marsden MS is a MS and not an ‘edition,’ he still lists it as the 7th edition, coming after Drago, without giving any supporting reasons.[9]

Fr H. Staffner obtained a microfilm of M and made 2 copies. One is in the Jaykar Library of the Pune University. The other is in Snehasadan, Pune.[10] It would seem, however, that there is another microfilm of the same in the Mumbai Marathi Sansodhan Mandala, Mumbai, though D does not specify that this is M.[11] Falcao (2003) follows Drago, but specifies that this microfilm is indeed of the Marsden MS.[12]

In Mangalore

1. Manuscript, Kannada script. Carmelite Monastery, Kulshekara, Mangalore. See Fr Santhamayor.
2. St Aloysius College, Mangalore.

Doctoral theses

• Quadra, Benedetta. "Il P. Tommaso Stephens, S.I. e il suo Purana Cristiano". Rome: Università degli Studi di Roma, 1943. [Falcao 2003 215. Untraceable.]
• Malshe, S.G. "Stīphansacyā Kristapurāṇācā Bhāśika āṇi Vāṅmayīna Abhyāsa". Doctoral dissertation. Unpublished. Mumbai: University of Bombay, 1961. [Falcao 2003 215.]
• Falcao, Nelson. "Kristapurana: A Christian-Hindu Encounter: A Study of Inculturation in the Kristapurana of Thomas Stephens, SJ (1549-1619)". Published under the same title at Pune: Snehasadan / Anand: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 2003
• Royson, Annie Rachel. "Texts and Traditions in Seventeenth Century Goa: Reading Cultural Translation, Sacredness, and Transformation in the Kristapurāṇa of Thomas Stephens S.J.". Doctoral Thesis. Gandhinagar: Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, 2018.

See also

• Puranas
• Translations of the Bible in Indian languages


• Falcao, Nelson. Kristapurāṇa, a Christian-Hindu encounter: a study of inculturation in the Kristapurāṇa of Thomas Stephens, S.J. (1549-1619). Anand: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 2003. ISBN 81-87886-72-2.
• Coelho, Ivo. "Thomas Stephens’ Khristapurāṇa: A New Edition and Translation by Nelson Falcao, SDB." Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 20/3 (2009) 473-482.
• Coelho, Ivo. "Review Article: A Significant Publication." [Review of Phādara Thomasa Stīphanskṛta Khristapurāṇa, ed. and tr. Nelson Falcao (Bangalore: Kristu Jyoti Publications, 2009.] Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 74/4 (April 2010) 307-314.
• See also Indian Christian Writings: A Bibliography


1. J.L. Saldanha, The Christian Puránna of Father Thomas Stephens of the Society of Jesus: A Work of the 17th Century: Reproduced from manuscript copies and edited with a biographical note, an introduction, an English synopsis of contents and vocabulary, ed. Joseph L. Saldanha (Bolar, Mangalore: Simon Alvares, 1907) xxxix.
2. [J.L. Saldanha xli, note 2. Cunha Rivara’s "Ensaio" does contain the censures and licences, in Portuguese; however, he states clearly that he was working from MS, and that he had not found any copy of the first three printed editions: see "Ensaio" 1957 cxix.
3. J.L. Saldanha xxxix, note 1: see stanzas 119-120, Canto 59, Dussarem Puránna.
4. J.L. Saldanha xxxix.
5. J.L. Saldanha xxxix.
6. J.L. Saldanha, "Editor's Preface" iii.
7. Falcao 2003, 213.
8. See "Mr. Justin E. Abbot’s Letter to ‘The Times of India’." Parisista 3: B 946-949. See also J.E. Abbott, "The Discovery of the Original Devanagari Text of the Christian Purana of Thomas Stevens," BSOS 2 (1921-23) 679-683.
9. Falcao 2003 20.
10. Drago, "Abhara," ix.
11. See Drago 905.
12. Falcao 2003 213.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:59 am

Part 1 of 2

by Wikipedia
Accessed 2/24/21

Purana Manuscripts from 15th- to 18th-century

The word Purana (/pʊˈrɑːnə/; Sanskrit: पुराण, purāṇa) literally means "ancient, old",[1] and it is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics, particularly legends and other traditional lore.[2] The Puranas are known for the intricate layers of symbolism depicted within their stories. Composed primarily in Sanskrit, but also in Tamil and other Indian languages,[3][4] several of these texts are named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and Shakti.[5][6] The Puranic genre of literature is found in both Hinduism and Jainism.[3]

The Puranic literature is encyclopedic,[1] and it includes diverse topics such as cosmogony, cosmology, genealogies of gods, goddesses, kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, folk tales, pilgrimages, temples, medicine, astronomy, grammar, mineralogy, humor, love stories, as well as theology and philosophy.[2][4][5] The content is highly inconsistent across the Puranas, and each Purana has survived in numerous manuscripts which are themselves inconsistent.[3] The Hindu Puranas are anonymous texts and likely the work of many authors over the centuries; in contrast, most Jaina Puranas can be dated and their authors assigned.[3]

There are 1 Maha Purana, 17 Mukhya Puranas (Major Puranas) and 18 Upa Puranas (Minor Puranas),[7] with over 400,000 verses.[2] The first version of various Puranas were likely to be composed between 3rd- and 10th-century CE.[8] The Puranas do not enjoy the authority of a scripture in Hinduism,[7] but are considered as Smritis.[9]

They have been influential in the Hindu culture, inspiring major national and regional annual festivals of Hinduism.[10] Their role and value as sectarian religious texts and historical texts has been controversial because all Puranas praise many gods and goddesses and "their sectarianism is far less clear cut" than assumed, states Ludo Rocher.[11] The religious practices included in them are considered Vaidika (congruent with Vedic literature), because they do not preach initiation into Tantra.[12] The Bhagavata Purana has been among the most celebrated and popular text in the Puranic genre, and is, in the opinion of some, of non-dualistic tenor.[13][14] But, the dualistic school of Shriman Madhvacharya has a rich and strong tradition of dualistic interpretation of the Bhagavata, starting from the Bhagavata Taatparya Nirnaya of the Acharya himself and later, commentaries on the commentary. The Chaitanya school also rejects outright any monistic interpretation of the purana. The Puranic literature wove with the Bhakti movement in India, and both Dvaita and Advaita scholars have commented on the underlying Vedantic themes in the Maha Puranas.[15]


Douglas Harper states that the etymological origins of Puranas are from Sanskrit Puranah, literally "ancient, former," from pura "formerly, before," cognate with Greek paros "before," pro "before," Avestan paro "before," Old English fore, from Proto-Indo-European *pre-, from *per-."[16]


Vyasa, the narrator of the Mahabharata, is hagiographically credited as the compiler of the Puranas. The ancient tradition suggests that originally there was but one Purana. Vishnu Purana (3.6.15) mentions that Vyasa entrusted his Puranasamhita to his disciple Lomaharshana, who in turn imparted it to his disciples,[note 1] three of whom compiled their own samhitas. These three, together with Lomaharshana's, comprise the Mulasamhita, from which the later eighteen Puranas were derived.[17][18]

The term Purana appears in the Vedic texts. For example, Atharva Veda mentions Purana (in the singular) in XI.7.24 and XV.6.10-11:[19]

"The rk and saman verses, the chandas, the Purana along with the Yajus formulae, all sprang from the remainder of the sacrificial food, (as also) the gods that resort to heaven. He changed his place and went over to great direction, and Itihasa and Purana, gathas, verses in praise of heroes followed in going over."

— Atharva Veda XV.6.10-11, [20]

Similarly, the Shatapatha Brahmana (XI.5.6.8) mentions Itihasapuranam (as one compound word) and recommends that on the 9th day of Pariplava, the hotr priest should narrate some Purana because "the Purana is the Veda, this it is" (XIII.4.3.13). However, states P.V. Kane, it is not certain whether these texts suggested several works or single work with the term Purana.[21] The late Vedic text Taittiriya Aranyaka (II.10) uses the term in the plural. Therefore, states Kane, that in the later Vedic period at least, the Puranas referred to three or more texts, and that they were studied and recited[21] In numerous passages the Mahabharata mentions 'Purana' in both singular and plural forms. Moreover, it is not unlikely that, where the singular 'Puranam' was employed in the texts, a class of works was meant.[21] Further, despite the mention of the term Purana or Puranas in the Vedic texts, there is uncertainty about the contents of them until the composition of the oldest Dharmashastra Apastamba Dharmasutra and Gautama Dharmasutra, that mention Puranas resembling with the extant Puranas.[21]

Another early mention of the term 'Itihas-purana' is found in the Chandogya Upanishad (7.1.2), translated by Patrick Olivelle as "the corpus of histories and ancient tales as the fifth Veda".[22][23][note 2] The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad also refers to purana as the "fifth Veda".[25]

According to Thomas Coburn, Puranas and early extra-puranic texts attest to two traditions regarding their origin, one proclaiming a divine origin as the breath of the Great Being, the other as a human named Vyasa as the arranger of already existing material into eighteen Puranas. In the early references, states Coburn, the term Purana occurs in singular unlike the later era which refers to a plural form presumably because they had assumed their "multifarious form". While both these traditions disagree on the origins of the Puranas, they affirm that extant Puranas are not identical with the original Purana.[18]

According to the Indologists J. A. B. van Buitenen and Cornelia Dimmitt, the Puranas that have survived into the modern era are ancient but represent "an amalgam of two somewhat different but never entirely different separate oral literatures: the Brahmin tradition stemming from the reciters of the Vedas, and the bardic poetry recited by Sutas that was handed down in Kshatriya circles".[26] The original Puranas comes from the priestly roots while the later genealogies have the warrior and epic roots. These texts were collected for the "second time between the fourth and sixth centuries CE under the rule of the Gupta kings", a period of Hindu renaissance.[27] However, the editing and expansion of the Puranas did not stop after the Gupta era, and the texts continued to "grow for another five hundred or a thousand years" and these were preserved by priests who maintained Hindu pilgrimage sites and temples.[27] The core of Itihasa-Puranas, states Klaus Klostermaier, may possibly go back to the seventh century BCE or even earlier.[28]

It is not possible to set a specific date for any Purana as a whole, states Ludo Rocher. He points out that even for the better established and more coherent puranas such as Bhagavata and Vishnu, the dates proposed by scholars continue to vary widely and endlessly.[17] The date of the production of the written texts does not define the date of origin of the Puranas.[29] They existed in an oral form before being written down.[29] In the 19th century, F. E. Pargiter believed the "original Purana" may date to the time of the final redaction of the Vedas.[30] Wendy Doniger, based on her study of indologists, assigns approximate dates to the various Puranas. She dates Markandeya Purana to c. 250 CE (with one portion dated to c. 550 CE), Matsya Purana to c. 250–500 CE, Vayu Purana to c. 350 CE, Harivamsa and Vishnu Purana to c. 450 CE, Brahmanda Purana to c. 350–950 CE, Vamana Purana to c. 450–900 CE, Kurma Purana to c. 550–850 CE, and Linga Purana to c. 600–1000 CE.[8]



Of the many texts designated 'Puranas' the most important are the Mahāpurāṇas or the major Puranas.[7] These are said to be eighteen in number, divided into three groups of six, though they are not always counted in the same way.In the Vishnu Puran Part 3 Section 6(21-24) the list of Mahapuranas is mentioned .The Bhagavat Puran mentions the number of verses in each puran in 12.13(4-9)

S.No. / Purana Name / Verses number / Comments

1 Brahma 10,000 verses Sometimes also called Adi Purana, because many Mahapuranas lists put it first of 18.[31] The text has 245 chapters, shares many passages with Vishnu, Vayu, Markendeya Puranas, and with the Mahabharata. Includes mythology, theory of war, art work in temples, and other cultural topics. Describes holy places in Odisha, and weaves themes of Vishnu and Shiva, but hardly any mention of deity Brahma despite the title.[31]
2 Padma 55,000 verses A large compilation of diverse topics, it escribes cosmology, the world and nature of life from the perspective of Vishnu. It also discusses festivals, numerous legends, geography of rivers and regions from northwest India to Bengal to the kingdom of Tripura, major sages of India, various Avatars of Vishnu and his cooperation with Shiva, a story of Rama-Sita that is different from the Hindu epic Ramayana.[32] The north Indian manuscripts of Padma Purana are very different from south Indian versions, and the various recensions in both groups in different languages (Devanagari and Bengali, for example) show major inconsistencies.[33] Like the Skanda Purana, it is a detailed treatise on travel and pilgrimage centers in India.[32][34]
3 Vishnu 23,000 verses One of the most studied and circulated Puranas, it also contains genealogical details of various dynasties.[35] Better preserved after the 17th century, but exists in inconsistent versions, more ancient pre-15th century versions are very different from modern versions, with some versions discussing Buddhism and Jainism. Some chapters likely composed in Kashmir and Punjab region of South Asia. A Vaishnavism text, focused on Vishnu.[36]
4 Shiva 24,000 verses Discusses Shiva, and stories about him.
5 Bhagavata 18,000 verses The most studied and popular of the Puranas,[13][37] telling of Vishnu's Avatars, and of Vaishnavism. It contains genealogical details of various dynasties.[35] Numerous inconsistent versions of this text and historical manuscripts exist, in many Indian languages.[38] Influential and elaborated during Bhakti movement.[39]
6 Narada 25,000 verses Also called Naradiya Purana. Discusses the four Vedas and the six Vedangas. Dedicates one chapter each, from Chapters 92 to 109, to summarize the other 17 Maha Puranas and itself. Lists major rivers of India and places of pilgrimage, and a short tour guide for each. Includes discussion of various philosophies, soteriology, planets, astronomy, myths and characteristics of major deities including Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi and others.[40]
7 Markandeya 9,000 verses Describes Vindhya Range and western India. Probably composed in the valleys of Narmada and Tapti rivers, in Maharashtra and Gujarat.[41] Named after sage Markandeya, a student of Brahma. Contains chapters on dharma and on Hindu epic Mahabharata.[42] The Purana includes Devi Mahatmyam of Shaktism.
8 Agni 15,400 verses Contains encyclopedic information. Includes geography of Mithila (Bihar and neighboring states), cultural history, politics, education system, iconography, taxation theories, organization of army, theories on proper causes for war, diplomacy, local laws, building public projects, water distribution methods, trees and plants, medicine, Vastu Shastra (architecture), gemology, grammar, metrics, poetry, food, rituals and numerous other topics.[43]
9 Bhavishya 14,500 verses The Bhavishya Purana (Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, lit. "Future Purana") is one of the eighteen major works in the Purana genre of Hinduism, written in Sanskrit.The title Bhavishya means "future" and implies it is a work that contains prophecies regarding the future, however, the "prophecy" parts of the extant manuscripts are a modern era addition and hence not an integral part of the Bhavishya Purana.Those sections of the surviving manuscripts that are dated to be older, are partly borrowed from other Indian texts such as Brihat Samhita and Shamba Purana.
10 Brahmavaivarta 18,000 verses It is related by Savarni to Narada, and centres around the greatness of Krishna and Radha. In this, the story of Brahma-varaha is repeatedly told.[44] Notable for asserting that Krishna is the supreme reality and the gods Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma are incarnations of him.[45] Mentions geography and rivers such as Ganga to Kaveri.
11 Linga 11,000 verses Discusses Lingam, symbol of Shiva, and origin of the universe as per Shaivism. It also contains many stories of Lingam, one of which entails how Agni Lingam solved a dispute between Vishnu and Brahma.
12 Varaha 24,000 verses Primarily Vishnu-related worship manual, with large Mahatmya sections or travel guide to Mathura and Nepal.[46] Presentation focuses on Varaha as incarnation of Narayana, but rarely uses the terms Krishna or Vasudeva.[46] Many illustrations also involve Shiva and Durga.[47]
13 Skanda 81,100 verses Describes the birth of Skanda (or Karthikeya), son of Shiva. The longest Purana, it is an extraordinarily meticulous pilgrimage guide, containing geographical locations of pilgrimage centers in India, with related legends, parables, hymns and stories. Many untraced quotes are attributed to this text.[48]
14 Vamana 10,000 verses Describes North India, particularly Himalayan foothills region.
15 Kurma 17,000 verses Contains a combination of Vishnu and Shiva related legends, mythology, Tirtha (pilgrimage) and theology
16 Matsya 14,000 verses An encyclopedia of diverse topics.[49] Narrates the story of Matsya, the first of ten major Avatars of Vishnu. Likely composed in west India, by people aware of geographical details of the Narmada river. Includes legends about Brahma and Saraswati.[50] It also contains a controversial genealogical details of various dynasties.[35]
17 Garuda 19,000 verses An encyclopedia of diverse topics.[49] Primarily about Vishnu, but praises all gods. Describes how Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma collaborate. Many chapters are a dialogue between Vishnu and the bird-vehicle Garuda. Cosmology, Describes cosmology, relationship between gods. Discusses ethics, what are crimes, good versus evil, various schools of Hindu philosophies, the theory of Yoga, the theory of "heaven and hell" with "karma and rebirth", includes Upanishadic discussion of self-knowledge as a means of moksha.[51] Includes chapters on rivers, geography of Bharat (India) and other nations on earth, types of minerals and stones, testing methods for stones for their quality, various diseases and their symptoms, various medicines, aphrodisiacs, prophylactics, Hindu calendar and its basis, astronomy, moon, planets, astrology, architecture, building home, essential features of a temple, rites of passage, virtues such as compassion, charity and gift making, economy, thrift, duties of a king, politics, state officials and their roles and how to appointment them, genre of literature, rules of grammar, and other topics.[51] The final chapters discuss how to practice Yoga (Samkhya and Advaita types), personal development and the benefits of self-knowledge.[51]
18 Brahmanda 12,000 verses One of the earliest composed Puranas, it contains a controversial genealogical details of various dynasties.[35] Includes Lalita Sahasranamam, law codes, system of governance, administration, diplomacy, trade, ethics. Old manuscripts of Brahmanda Purana have been found in the Hindu literature collections of Bali, Indonesia.[52][49]

The Mahapuranas have also been classified based on a specific deity, although the texts are mixed and revere all gods and goddesses:

Brāhma:[33] Brahma Purana, Padma Purana
Surya:[33] Brahma Vaivarta Purana[note 3]
Agni:[33] Agni Purana[note 4]
Śaiva:[33] Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Skanda Purana, Varaha Purana,[note 5][note 6] Vāmana Purana,[note 5] Kūrma Purana,[note 5] Mārkandeya Purana,[note 7] , Brahmānda Purana
Vaiṣṇava:[33] Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Nāradeya Purana, Garuda Purana, Vayu Purana, Varaha Purana[note 6]Matsya Purana, Bhavishya Purana[note 5]
Śakta: Devi-Bhagavata Purana, Markandeya Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Skanda Purana

All major Puranas contain sections on Devi (goddesses) and Tantra; the six most significant of these are: Markandeya Purana, Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Agni Purana and Padma Purana.[57]


The Goddess Durga Leading the Eight Matrikas in Battle Against the Demon Raktabija, Folio from Devi Mahatmyam, Markandeya Purana.

Main article: Upapurana

The difference between Upapuranas and Mahapuranas has been explained by Rajendra Hazra as, "a Mahapurana is well known, and that what is less well known becomes an Upapurana".[58] Rocher states that the distinction between Mahapurana and Upapurana is ahistorical, there is little corroborating evidence that either were more or less known, and that "the term Mahapurana occurs rarely in Purana literature, and is probably of late origin."[59]

The Upapuranas are eighteen in number, with disagreement as to which canonical titles belong in that list of eighteen. They include among many: Sanat-kumara, Narasimha, Brihan-naradiya, Siva-rahasya, Durvasa, Kapila, Vamana, Bhargava, Varuna, Kalika, Samba, Nandi, Surya, Parasara, Vasishtha, Ganesha, Mudgala, and Hamsa, with only a few having been critically edited.[60][61]

The Ganesha and Mudgala Puranas are devoted to Ganesha.[62][63]

Sthala Puranas

This corpus of texts tells of the origins and traditions of particular Tamil Shiva temples or shrines. There are numerous Sthala Puranas, most written in vernaculars, some with Sanskrit versions as well. The 275 Shiva Sthalams of the continent have puranas for each, famously glorified in the Tamil literature Tevaram. Some appear in Sanskrit versions in the Mahapuranas or Upapuranas. Some Tamil Sthala Puranas have been researched by David Dean Shulman.[64]

Skanda Purana

The Skanda Purana is the largest Purana with 81,000 verses,[65] named after deity Skanda, the son of Shiva and Uma, and brother of deity Ganesha.[66] The mythological part of the text weaves the stories of Shiva and Vishnu, along with Parvati, Rama, Krishna and other major gods in the Hindu pantheon.[65] In Chapter 1.8, it declares,

Vishnu is nobody but Shiva, and he who is called Shiva is but identical with Vishnu.

— Skanda Purana, 1.8.20-21[67][68]

The Skanda Purana has received renewed scholarly interest ever since the late 20th-century discovery of a Nepalese Skanda Purana manuscript dated to be from the early 9th century. This discovery established that Skanda Purana existed by the 9th century. However, a comparison shows that the 9th-century document is entirely different from versions of Skanda Purana that have been circulating in South Asia since the colonial era.[69]


The Puranas include cosmos creation myths such as the Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean). It is represented in the Angkor Wat temple complex of Cambodia, and at Bangkok airport, Thailand (above).

Several Puranas, such as the Matsya Purana,[70] list "five characteristics" or "five signs" of a Purana.[2] These are called the Pancha Lakshana ( pañcalakṣaṇa), and are topics covered by a Purana:[2][71][72]

1. Sarga: cosmogony
2. Pratisarga: cosmogony and cosmology[73]
3. Vamśa: genealogy of the gods, sages and kings[74]
4. Manvañtara: cosmic cycles,[75] history of the world during the time of one patriarch
5. Vamśānucaritam: legends during the times of various kings.

A few Puranas, such as the most popular Bhagavata Purana, add five more characteristics to expand this list to ten:[76]

6. Utaya: karmic links between the deities, sages, kings and the various living beings
7. Ishanukatha: tales about a god
8. Nirodha: finale, cessation
9. Mukti: moksha, spiritual liberation
10. Ashraya: refuge

These five or ten sections weave in biographies, myths, geography, medicine, astronomy, Hindu temples, pilgrimage to distant real places, rites of passage, charity, ethics,[77] duties, rights, dharma, divine intervention in cosmic and human affairs, love stories,[78] festivals, theosophy and philosophy.[2][4][5] The Puranas link gods to men, both generally and in religious bhakti context.[76] Here the Puranic literature follows a general pattern. It starts with introduction, a future devotee is described as ignorant about the god yet curious, the devotee learns about the god and this begins the spiritual realization, the text then describes instances of God's grace which begins to persuade and convert the devotee, the devotee then shows devotion which is rewarded by the god, the reward is appreciated by the devotee and in return performs actions to express further devotion.[76]

The Puranas, states Flood, document the rise of the theistic traditions such as those based on Vishnu, Shiva and the goddess Devi and include respective mythology, pilgrimage to holy places, rituals and genealogies.[79] The bulk of these texts in Flood's view were established by 500 CE, in the Gupta era though amendments were made later. Along with inconsistencies, common ideas are found throughout the corpus but it is not possible to trace the lines of influence of one Purana upon another so the corpus is best viewed as a synchronous whole.[80] An example of similar stories woven across the Puranas, but in different versions, include the lingabhava – the "apparition of the linga". The story features Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the three major deities of Hinduism, who get together, debate, and after various versions of the story, in the end the glory of Shiva is established by the apparition of linga. This story, state Bonnefoy, and Doniger, appears in Vayu Purana 1.55, Brahmanda Purana 1.26, Shiva Purana's Rudra Samhita Sristi Khanda 15, Skanda Purana's chapters 1.3, 1.16 and 3.1, and other Puranas.[81]

The texts are in Sanskrit as well as regional languages,[3][4] and almost entirely in narrative metric couplets.[1]

Symbolism and layers of meaning

The texts use ideas, concepts and even names that are symbolic.[81] The words can interpreted literally, and at an axiological level.[82] The Vishnu Purana, for example, recites a myth where the names of the characters are loaded with symbolism and axiological significance. The myth is as follows,

The progeny of Dharma by the daughters of Daksha were as follows: by Sraddhá (devotion) he had Kama (desire); by Lakshmí (wealth, prosperity), was born Darpa (pride); by Dhriti (courage), the progeny was Niyama (precept); by Tusht́i (inner comfort), Santosha (contentment); by Pusht́i (opulence), the progeny was Lobha (cupidity, greed); by Medhá (wisdom, experience), Sruta (sacred tradition); by Kriyá (hard work, labour), the progeny were Dańd́a, Naya, and Vinaya (justice, politics, and education); by Buddhi (intellect), Bodha (understanding); by Lajjá (shame, humility), Vinaya (good behaviour); by Vapu (body, strength), Vyavasaya (perseverance). Shanti (peace) gave birth to Kshama (forgiveness); Siddhi (excellence) to Sukha (enjoyment); and Kírtti (glorious speech) gave birth to Yasha (reputation). These were the sons of Dharma; one of whom, Kama (love, emotional fulfillment) had baby Hersha (joy) by his wife Nandi (delight).

The wife of Adharma (vice, wrong, evil) was Hinsá (violence), on whom he begot a son Anrita (falsehood), and a daughter Nikriti (immorality): they intermarried, and had two sons, Bhaya (fear) and Naraka (hell); and twins to them, two daughters, Máyá (deceit) and Vedaná (torture), who became their wives. The son of Bhaya (fear) and Máyá (deceit) was the destroyer of living creatures, or Mrityu (death); and Dukha (pain) was the offspring of Naraka (hell) and Vedaná (torture). The children of Mrityu were Vyádhi (disease), Jará (decay), Soka (sorrow), Trishńa (greediness), and Krodha (wrath). These are all called the inflictors of misery, and are characterised as the progeny of Vice (Adharma). They are all without wives, without posterity, without the faculty to procreate; they perpetually operate as causes of the destruction of this world. On the contrary, Daksha and the other Rishis, the elders of mankind, tend perpetually to influence its renovation: whilst the Manus and their sons, the heroes endowed with mighty power, and treading in the path of truth, as constantly contribute to its preservation.

— Vishnu Purana, Chapter 7, Translated by Horace Hayman Wilson[83]

Puranas as a complement to the Vedas

The mythology in the Puranas has inspired many reliefs and sculptures found in Hindu temples.[84] The legend behind the Krishna and Gopis relief above is described in the Bhagavata Purana.[85]

The relation of the Puranas with Vedas has been debated by scholars, some holding that there's no relationship, others contending that they are identical.[86] The Puranic literature, stated Max Muller, is independent, has changed often over its history, and has little relation to the Vedic age or the Vedic literature.[87] In contrast, Purana literature is evidently intended to serve as a complement to the Vedas, states Vans Kennedy.[5]

Some scholars such as Govinda Das suggest that the Puranas claim a link to the Vedas but in name only, not in substance. The link is purely a mechanical one.[87] Scholars such as Viman Chandra Bhattacharya and PV Kane state that the Puranas are a continuation and development of the Vedas.[88] Sudhakar Malaviya and VG Rahurkar state the connection is closer in that the Puranas are companion texts to help understand and interpret the Vedas.[88][89] K.S. Ramaswami Sastri and Manilal N. Dvivedi reflect the third view which states that Puranas enable us to know the "true import of the ethos, philosophy, and religion of the Vedas".[90]

Barbara Holdrege questions the fifth Veda status of Itihasas (the Hindu epics) and Puranas.[91][note 8] The Puranas, states V.S. Agrawala, intend to "explicate, interpret, adapt" the metaphysical truths in the Vedas.[18] In the general opinion, states Rocher, "the Puranas cannot be divorced from the Vedas" though scholars provide different interpretations of the link between the two.[88] Scholars have given the Bhagavata Purana as an example of the links and continuity of the Vedic content such as providing an interpretation of the Gayatri mantra.[88]

Puranas as encyclopedias

The Puranas, states Kees Bolle, are best seen as "vast, often encyclopedic" works from ancient and medieval India.[93] Some of them, such as the Agni Purana and Matsya Purana, cover all sorts of subjects, dealing with – states Rocher – "anything and everything", from fiction to facts, from practical recipes to abstract philosophy, from geographic Mahatmyas (travel guides)[94] to cosmetics, from festivals to astronomy.[4][95] Like encyclopedias, they were updated to remain current with their times, by a process called Upabrimhana.[96] However, some of the 36 major and minor Puranas are more focused handbooks, such as the Skanda Purana, Padma Purana and Bhavishya Purana which deal primarily with Tirtha Mahatmyas (pilgrimage travel guides),[94] while Vayu Purana and Brahmanda Purana focus more on history, mythology and legends.[97]

Puranas as religious texts

The colonial era scholars of Puranas studied them primarily as religious texts, with Vans Kennedy declaring in 1837, that any other use of these documents would be disappointing.[98] John Zephaniah Holwell, who from 1732 onwards spent 30 years in India and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1767, described the Puranas as "18 books of divine words".[99] British officials and researchers such as Holwell, states Urs App, were orientalist scholars who introduced a distorted picture of Indian literature and Puranas as "sacred scriptures of India" in 1767. Holwell, states Urs App, "presented it as the opinion of knowledgeable Indians; But it is abundantly clear that no knowledgeable Indian would ever have said anything remotely similar".[99]

Modern scholarship doubts this 19th-century premise.[100] Ludo Rocher, for example, states,

I want to stress the fact that it would be irresponsible and highly misleading to speak of or pretend to describe the religion of the Puranas.

— Ludo Rocher, The Puranas[98]

The study of Puranas as a religious text remains a controversial subject.[101] Some Indologists, in colonial tradition of scholarship, treat the Puranic texts as scriptures or useful source of religious contents.[102] Other scholars, such as Ronald Inden, consider this approach "essentialist and antihistorical" because the Purana texts changed often over time and over distance, and the underlying presumption of they being religious texts is that those changes are "Hinduism expressed by a religious leader or philosopher", or "expressiveness of Hindu mind", or "society at large", when the texts and passages are literary works and "individual geniuses of their authors".[103]
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The Jaina Puranas are like Hindu Puranas encyclopedic epics in style, and are considered as anuyogas (expositions), but they are not considered Jain Agamas and do not have scripture or quasi-canonical status in Jainism tradition.[3] They are best described, states John Cort, as post-scripture literary corpus based upon themes found in Jain scriptures.[3]

Sectarian, pluralistic or monotheistic theme

Scholars have debated whether the Puranas should be categorized as sectarian, or non-partisan, or monotheistic religious texts.[11][104] Different Puranas describe a number of stories where Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva compete for supremacy.[104] In some Puranas, such as Devi Bhagavata, the Goddess Devi joins the competition and ascends for the position of being Supreme. Further, most Puranas emphasize legends around one who is either Shiva, or Vishnu, or Devi.[11] The texts thus appear to be sectarian. However, states Edwin Bryant, while these legends sometimes appear to be partisan, they are merely acknowledging the obvious question of whether one or the other is more important, more powerful. In the final analysis, all Puranas weave their legends to celebrate pluralism, and accept the other two and all gods in Hindu pantheon as personalized form but equivalent essence of the Ultimate Reality called Brahman.[105][106] The Puranas are not spiritually partisan, states Bryant, but "accept and indeed extol the transcendent and absolute nature of the other, and of the Goddess Devi too".[104]

[The Puranic text] merely affirm that the other deity is to be considered a derivative manifestation of their respective deity, or in the case of Devi, the Shakti, or power of the male divinity. The term monotheism, if applied to the Puranic tradition, needs to be understood in the context of a supreme being, whether understood as Vishnu, Shiva or Devi, who can manifest himself or herself as other supreme beings.

— Edwin Bryant, Krishna: The Beautiful Legend of God: Srimad Bhagavata Purana[104]

Ludo Rocher, in his review of Puranas as sectarian texts, states, "even though the Puranas contain sectarian materials, their sectarianism should not be interpreted as exclusivism in favor of one god to the detriment of all others".[107]

Puranas as historical texts

Despite the diversity and wealth of manuscripts from ancient and medieval India that have survived into the modern times, there is a paucity of historical data in them.[35] Neither the author name nor the year of their composition were recorded or preserved, over the centuries, as the documents were copied from one generation to another. This paucity tempted 19th-century scholars to use the Puranas as a source of chronological and historical information about India or Hinduism.[35] This effort was, after some effort, either summarily rejected by some scholars, or become controversial, because the Puranas include fables and fiction, and the information within and across the Puranas was found to be inconsistent.[35]

In early 20th-century, some regional records were found to be more consistent, such as for the Hindu dynasties in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh. Basham, as well as Kosambi, have questioned whether lack of inconsistency is sufficient proof of reliability and historicity.[35] More recent scholarship has attempted to, with limited success, states Ludo Rocher, use the Puranas for historical information in combination with independent corroborating evidence, such as "epigraphy, archaeology, Buddhist literature, Jaina literature, non-Puranic literature, Islamic records, and records preserved outside India by travelers to or from India in medieval times such as in China, Myanmar and Indonesia".[108][109]


An 11th-century Nepalese palm-leaf manuscript in Sanskrit of Devimahatmya (Markandeya Purana).

The study of Puranas manuscripts has been challenging because they are highly inconsistent.[110][111] This is true for all Mahapuranas and Upapuranas.[110] Most editions of Puranas, in use particularly by Western scholars, are "based on one manuscript or on a few manuscripts selected at random", even though divergent manuscripts with the same title exist. Scholars have long acknowledged the existence of Purana manuscripts that "seem to differ much from printed edition", and it is unclear which one is accurate, and whether conclusions drawn from the randomly or cherrypicked printed version were universal over geography or time.[110] This problem is most severe with Purana manuscripts of the same title, but in regional languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and others which have largely been ignored.[110]

Modern scholarship noticed all these facts. It recognized that the extent of the genuine Agni Purana was not the same at all times and in all places, and that it varied with the difference in time and locality. (...) This shows that the text of the Devi Purana was not the same everywhere but differed considerably in different provinces. Yet, one failed to draw the logical conclusion: besides the version or versions of Puranas that appear in our [surviving] manuscripts, and fewer still in our [printed] editions, there have been numerous other versions, under the same titles, but which either have remained unnoticed or have been irreparably lost.

— Ludo Rocher, The Puranas[58][112]


Newly discovered Puranas manuscripts from the medieval centuries has attracted scholarly attention and the conclusion that the Puranic literature has gone through slow redaction and text corruption over time, as well as sudden deletion of numerous chapters and its replacement with new content to an extent that the currently circulating Puranas are entirely different from those that existed before 11th century, or 16th century.[113]

For example, a newly discovered palm-leaf manuscript of Skanda Purana in Nepal has been dated to be from 810 CE, but is entirely different from versions of Skanda Purana that have been circulating in South Asia since the colonial era.[69][113] Further discoveries of four more manuscripts, each different, suggest that document has gone through major redactions twice, first likely before the 12th century, and the second very large change sometime in the 15th-16th century for unknown reasons.[114] The different versions of manuscripts of Skanda Purana suggest that "minor" redactions, interpolations and corruption of the ideas in the text over time.[114]

Rocher states that the date of the composition of each Purana remains a contested issue.[115][116] Dimmitt and van Buitenen state that each of the Puranas manuscripts is encyclopedic in style, and it is difficult to ascertain when, where, why and by whom these were written:[117]

As they exist today, the Puranas are a stratified literature. Each titled work consists of material that has grown by numerous accretions in successive historical eras. Thus no Purana has a single date of composition. (...) It is as if they were libraries to which new volumes have been continuously added, not necessarily at the end of the shelf, but randomly.

— Cornelia Dimmitt and J.A.B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas[117]

Many of the extant manuscripts were written on palm leaf or copied during the British India colonial era, some in the 19th century.[118][119] The scholarship on various Puranas, has suffered from frequent forgeries, states Ludo Rocher, where liberties in the transmission of Puranas were normal and those who copied older manuscripts replaced words or added new content to fit the theory that the colonial scholars were keen on publishing.[118][119]


Horace Hayman Wilson published one of the earliest English translations of one version of the Vishnu Purana in 1840.[120] The same manuscript, and Wilson's translation, was reinterpreted by Manmatha Nath Dutt, and published in 1896.[121] The All India Kashiraj Trust has published editions of the Puranas.[122]

Maridas Poullé (Mariyadas Pillai) published a French translation from a Tamil version of the Bhagavata Purana in 1788, and this was widely distributed in Europe becoming an introduction to the 18th-century Hindu culture and Hinduism to many Europeans during the colonial era. Poullé republished a different translation of the same text as Le Bhagavata in 1795, from Pondicherry.[123] A copy of Poullé translation is preserved in Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.


The Puranas have had a large cultural impact on Hindus, from festivals to diverse arts. Bharata natyam (above) is inspired in part by Bhagavata Purana.[124]

The most significant influence of the Puranas genre of Indian literature have been state scholars and particularly Indian scholars,[125] in "culture synthesis", in weaving and integrating the diverse beliefs from ritualistic rites of passage to Vedantic philosophy, from fictional legends to factual history, from individual introspective yoga to social celebratory festivals, from temples to pilgrimage, from one god to another, from goddesses to tantra, from the old to the new.[126] These have been dynamic open texts, composed socially, over time. This, states Greg Bailey, may have allowed the Hindu culture to "preserve the old while constantly coming to terms with the new", and "if they are anything, they are records of cultural adaptation and transformation" over the last 2,000 years.[125]

The Puranic literature, suggests Khanna, influenced "acculturation and accommodation" of a diversity of people, with different languages and from different economic classes, across different kingdoms and traditions, catalyzing the syncretic "cultural mosaic of Hinduism".[127] They helped influence cultural pluralism in India, and are a literary record thereof.[127]

Om Prakash states the Puranas served as efficient medium for cultural exchange and popular education in ancient and medieval India.[128] These texts adopted, explained and integrated regional deities such as Pashupata in Vayu Purana, Sattva in Vishnu Purana, Dattatreya in Markendeya Purana, Bhojakas in Bhavishya Purana.[128] Further, states Prakash, they dedicated chapters to "secular subjects such as poetics, dramaturgy, grammar, lexicography, astronomy, war, politics, architecture, geography and medicine as in Agni Purana, perfumery and lapidary arts in Garuda Purana, painting, sculpture and other arts in Vishnudharmottara Purana".[128]

Indian Arts

The cultural influence of the Puranas extended to Indian classical arts, such as songs, dance culture such as Bharata Natyam in south India[124] and Rasa Lila in northeast India,[129] plays and recitations.[130]


The myths, lunar calendar schedule, rituals and celebrations of major Hindu cultural festivities such as Holi, Diwali and Durga Puja are in the Puranic literature.[131][132]


1. Six disciples: Sumati, Agnivarchaha, Mitrayu, Shamshapyana, Akritaverna and Savarni
2. The early Buddhist text (Sutta Nipata 3.7 describes the meeting between the Buddha and Sela. It has been translated by Mills and Sujato as, "(...) the brahmin Sela was visiting Āpaṇa. He was an expert in the three Vedas, with the etymologies, the rituals, the phonology and word analysis, and fifthly the legendary histories".[24]
3. This text underwent a near complete rewrite in or after 15th/16th century CE, and almost all extant manuscripts are Vaishnava (Krishna) bhakti oriented.[53]
4. Like all Puranas, this text underwent extensive revisions and rewrite in its history; the extant manuscripts are predominantly an encyclopedia, and so secular in its discussions of gods and goddesses that scholars have classified as Smartism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Shaivism Purana.[54]
5. This text is named after a Vishnu avatar, but extant manuscripts praise all gods and goddesses equally with some versions focusing more on Shiva.[55]
6. Hazra includes this in Vaishnava category.[46]
7. This text includes the famous Devi-Mahatmya, one of the most important Goddess-related text of the Shaktism tradition in Hinduism.[56]
8. There are only four Vedas in Hinduism. Several texts have been claimed to have the status of the Fifth Veda in the Hindu tradition. For example, the Natya Shastra, a Sanskrit text on the performing arts, is also so claimed.[92]



1. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995 Edition), Article on Puranas, ISBN 0-877790426, page 915
2. Greg Bailey (2001), Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy (Editor: Oliver Leaman), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415172813, pages 437-439
3. John Cort (1993), Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts (Editor: Wendy Doniger), State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791413821, pages 185-204
4. Gregory Bailey (2003), The Study of Hinduism (Editor: Arvind Sharma), The University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 978-1570034497, page 139
5. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, p.16, 12-21
6. Nair, Shantha N. (2008). Echoes of Ancient Indian Wisdom: The Universal Hindu Vision and Its Edifice. Hindology Books. p. 266. ISBN 978-81-223-1020-7.
7. Cornelia Dimmitt (2015), Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas, Temple University Press, ISBN 978-8120839724, page xii, 4
8. Collins, Charles Dillard (1988). The Iconography and Ritual of Śiva at Elephanta. SUNY Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-88706-773-0.
9. Greg Bailey (2001), Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy (Editor: Oliver Leaman), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415172813, page 503
10. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 12-13, 134-156, 203-210
11. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 21-24, 104-113, 115-126
12. Dominic Goodall (1996), Hindu Scriptures, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520207783, page xxxix
13. Thompson, Richard L. (2007). The Cosmology of the Bhagavata Purana 'Mysteries of the Sacred Universe. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 10. ISBN 978-81-208-1919-1.
14. Dominic Goodall (1996), Hindu Scriptures, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520207783, page xli
15. BN Krishnamurti Sharma (2008), A History of the Dvaita School of Vedānta and Its Literature, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120815759, pages 128-131
16. Douglas Harper (2015), Purana, Etymology Dictionary
17. Ludo Rocher (1986). The Purāṇas. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-3-447-02522-5.
18. Thomas B. Coburn (1988). Devī-Māhātmya: The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 23–27. ISBN 978-81-208-0557-6.
19. P. V. Kane. History of Dharmasastra (Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law in India), Vol.5.2, 1st edition, 1962. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. pp. 816–821.
20. Kane, P. V. "History of Dharmasastra (Ancient and mediaeval Religious and Civil Law), v.5.2, 1st edition, 1962 : P. V. Kane". p. 816.
21. P. V. Kane. History of Dharmasastra (Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law in India), Vol.5.2, 1st edition, 1962. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. pp. 816–817.
22. Patrick Olivelle (1998). The Early Upanishads: Annotated Text and Translation. Oxford University Press. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-19-535242-9.
23. Thomas Colburn (2002), Devī-māhātmya: The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120805576, page 24-25
24. Sutta Nipata 3.7, To Sela and his Praise of the Buddha, Laurence Mills and Bhikkhu Sujato
25. Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 2.4.10, 4.1.2, 4.5.11. Satapatha Brahmana (SBE, Vol. 44, pp. 98, 369). Moghe 1997, pp. 160,249
26. Dimmitt & van Buitenen 2012, p. 7.
27. Dimmitt & van Buitenen 2012, pp. 7-8, context: 4-13.
28. Klaus K. Klostermaier (5 July 2007). A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition. SUNY Press. pp. 59–. ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4.
29. Johnson 2009, p. 247
30. Pargiter 1962, pp. 30–54.
31. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 154-156
32. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 209-215
33. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 59-61
34. Klaus Klostermaier (2007), A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791470824, pages 281-283 with footnotes on page 553
35. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 115-121 with footnotes
36. Lochtefeld, James G. (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z, The Rosen Publishing Group, p. 760, ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4
37. Monier-Williams 1899, p. 752, column 3, under the entry Bhagavata.
38. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 139-149
39. Hardy 2001
40. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 202-203
41. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 70-71
42. RC Hazra (1987), Studies in the Puranic Records on Hindu Rites and Customs, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120804227, pages 8-11
43. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 134-137
44. John Dowson (2000). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History and Literature. Psychology Press. pp. 62–. ISBN 978-0-415-24521-0.
45. Rocher, Ludo (1986). The Puranas. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-02522-5.
46. RC Hazra (1940), Studies in the Puranic Records on Hindu Rites and Customs, Motilal Banarsidass (1987 Reprint), ISBN 978-8120804227, pages 96-97
47. Wilson, Horace H. (1864), The Vishṅu Purāṅa: a system of Hindu mythology and tradition Volume 1 of 4, Trübner, p. LXXI
48. Doniger 1993, pp. 59–83
49. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, page 78-79
50. Catherine Ludvik (2007), Sarasvatī, Riverine Goddess of Knowledge, BRILL, ISBN 978-9004158146, pages 139-141
51. MN Dutt, The Garuda Purana Calcutta (1908)
52. H Hinzler (1993), Balinese palm-leaf manuscripts Archived 1 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine, In: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Landen Volkenkunde, Manuscripts of Indonesia 149 (1993), No 3, Leiden: BRILL, page 442
53. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 161-164
54. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 20-22, 134-137
55. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 35, 185, 199, 239-242
56. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 191-192
57. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 113-114, 153-154, 161, 167-169, 171-174, 182-187, 190-194, 210, 225-227, 242
58. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, page 63
59. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, page 68
60. R. C. Hazra, Studies in the Upapuranas, vol. I, Calcutta, Sanskrit College, 1958. Studies in the Upapuranas, vol. II, Calcutta, Sanskrit College, 1979. Studies in Puranic Records on Hindu Rites and Customs, Delhi, Banarsidass, 1975. Ludo Rocher, The Puranas – A History of Indian Literature Vol. II, fasc. 3, Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1986.
61. Verbal Narratives: Performance and Gender of the Padma Purana, by T.N. Sankaranarayana in Kaushal 2001, pp. 225–234
62. Thapan 1997, p. 304
63. "Purana at Gurjari". Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
64. Shulman 1980
65. Stephen Knapp (2005), The Heart of Hinduism, ISBN 978-0595350759, pages 44-45
66. Yves Bonnefoy and Wendy Doniger (1993), Asian Mythologies, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226064567, pages 92-95
67. Gregor Maehle (2009), Ashtanga Yoga, New World, ISBN 978-1577316695, page 17
68. Skanda Purana Shankara Samhita Part 1, Verses 1.8.20-21 (Sanskrit)
69. R Andriaensen et al (1994), Towards a critical edition of the Skandapurana, Indo-Iranian Journal, Vol. 37, pages 325-331
70. Matsya Purana 53.65
71. Rao 1993, pp. 85–100
72. Johnson 2009, p. 248
73. Jonathan Edelmann (2013), The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (Editors: Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey), Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231149983, pages 48-62
74. Vayu Purana 1. 31-2.
75. RC Hazra (1987), Studies in the Puranic Records on Hindu Rites and Customs, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120804227, page 4
76. Greg Bailey (2001), Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy (Editor: Oliver Leaman), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415172813, pages 440-443
77. Gopal Gupta (2013), The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (Editors: Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey), Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231149983, pages 63-75
78. Graham Schweig (2013), The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (Editors: Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey), Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231149983, pages 117-132
79. Flood 1996, pp. 104-110.
80. Flood 1996, pp. 109–112
81. Yves Bonnefoy and Wendy Doniger (1993), Asian Mythologies, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226064567, pages 38-39
82. Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey (2013), The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231149983, pages 130-132
83. Vishnu Purana Chapter 7
84. Sara Schastok (1997), The Śāmalājī Sculptures and 6th Century Art in Western India, BRILL, ISBN 978-9004069411, pages 77-79, 88
85. Edwin Bryant (2007), Krishna : A Sourcebook: A Sourcebook, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195148923, pages 111-119
86. Patton, Laurie L.(1994), Authority, Anxiety, and Canon: Essays in Vedic Interpretation SUNY Series in Hindu Studies, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0585044675, p. 98
87. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 13-16
88. Rocher 1986, pp. 14-15 with footnotes.
89. Barbara Holdrege (1995), Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791416402, pages 95-97
90. Rocher 1986, pp. 15 with footnotes.
91. Barbara Holdrege (2012). Hananya Goodman (ed.). Between Jerusalem and Benares: Comparative Studies in Judaism and Hinduism. State University of New York Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-4384-0437-0.
92. D. Lawrence Kincaid (2013). Communication Theory: Eastern and Western Perspectives. Elsevier. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-4832-8875-8.
93. Kee Bolle (1963), Reflections on a Puranic Passage, History of Religions, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Winter, 1963), pages 286-291
94. Ariel Glucklich 2008, p. 146, Quote: The earliest promotional works aimed at tourists from that era were called mahatmyas.
95. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 1-5, 12-21, 79-80, 96-98; Quote: These are the true encyclopedic Puranas. in which detached chapters or sections, dealing with any imaginable subject, follow one another, without connection or transition. Three Puranas especially belong to this category: Matsya, Garuda and above all Agni.
96. Ronald Inden (2000), Querying the Medieval : Texts and the History of Practices in South Asia, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195124309, pages 94-95
97. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 78-79
98. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 104-106 with footnotes
99. Urs App (2010), The Birth of Orientalism, University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 978-0812242614, pages 331, 323-334
100. Jan Gonda (1975), Selected Studies: Indo-European linguistics, BRILL, ISBN 978-9004042285, pages 51-86
101. Ronald Inden (2000), Querying the Medieval : Texts and the History of Practices in South Asia, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195124309, pages 87-98
102. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 19-20
103. Ronald Inden (2000), Querying the Medieval : Texts and the History of Practices in South Asia, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195124309, pages 95-96
104. Edwin Bryant (2003), Krishna: The Beautiful Legend of God: Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Penguin, ISBN 978-0141913377, pages 10-12
105. EO James (1997), The Tree of Life, BRILL Academic, ISBN 978-9004016125, pages 150-153
106. Barbara Holdrege (2015), Bhakti and Embodiment, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415670708, pages 113-114
107. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, page 23 with footnote 35
108. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 121-127 with footnotes
109. L Srinivasan (2000), Historicity of the Indian mythology : Some observations, Man in India, Vol. 80, No. 1-2, pages 89-106
110. Ludo Rocher (1986), The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447025225, pages 59-67
111. Gregory Bailey (2003), The Study of Hinduism (Editor: Arvind Sharma), The University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 978-1570034497, pages 141-142
112. Rajendra Hazra (1956), Discovery of the genuine Agneya-purana, Journal of the Oriental Institute Baroda, Vol. 4-5, pages 411-416
113. Dominic Goodall (2009), Parākhyatantram, Vol 98, Publications de l'Institut Français d'Indologie, ISBN 978-2855396422, pages xvi-xvii
114. Kengo Harimoto (2004), in Origin and Growth of the Purāṇic Text Corpus (Editor: Hans Bakker), Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120820494, pages 41-64
115. Rocher 1986, p. 249.
116. Gregory Bailey 2003, pp. 139-141, 154-156.
117. Dimmitt & van Buitenen 2012, p. 5.
118. Rocher 1986, pp. 49-53.
119. Avril Ann Powell (2010). Scottish Orientalists and India: The Muir Brothers, Religion, Education and Empire. Boydell & Brewer. pp. 130, 128–134, 87–90. ISBN 978-1-84383-579-0.
120. HH Wilson (1840), Vishnu Purana Trubner and Co., Reprinted in 1864
121. MN Dutt (1896), Vishnupurana Eylsium Press, Calcutta
122. Mittal 2004, p. 657
123. Jean Filliozat (1968), Tamil Studies in French Indology, in Tamil Studies Abroad, Xavier S Thani Nayagam, pages 1-14
124. Katherine Zubko (2013), The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (Editors: Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey), Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231149983, pages 181-201
125. Greg Bailey (2001), Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy (Editor: Oliver Leaman), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415172813, pages 442-443
126. Gregory Bailey (2003), The Study of Hinduism (Editor: Arvind Sharma), The University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 978-1570034497, pages 162-167
127. R Champakalakshmi (2012), Cultural History of Medieval India (Editor: M Khanna), Berghahn, ISBN 978-8187358305, pages 48-50
128. Om Prakash (2004), Cultural History of India, New Age, ISBN 978-8122415872, pages 33-34
129. Guy Beck (2013), The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (Editors: Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey), Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231149983, pages 181-201
130. Ilona Wilczewska (2013), The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (Editors: Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey), Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231149983, pages 202-220
131. A Whitney Sanford (2006), Alternative Krishnas: Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity (Editor: Guy Beck), State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791464168, pages 91-94
132. Tracy Pintchman (2005), Guests at God's Wedding: Celebrating Kartik among the Women of Benares, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791465950, pages 60-63, with notes on 210-211

Cited sources

• Bailey, Gregory (2003). "The Puranas". In Sharma, Arvind (ed.). The Study of Hinduism. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1-57003-449-7.
• Dimmitt, Cornelia; van Buitenen, J. A. B. (2012) [1977]. Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1-4399-0464-0.
• Doniger, Wendy, ed. (1993). Purāṇa Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts. Albany, NY: State University of New York. ISBN 0-7914-1382-9.
• Hardy, Friedhelm (2001). Viraha-Bhakti – The Early History of Krsna Devotion in South India. ISBN 0-19-564916-8.
• Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43304-5.
• Johnson, W.J. (2009). A Dictionary of Hinduism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-861025-0.
• Kaushal, Molly, ed. (2001). Chanted Narratives – The Katha Vachana Tradition. ISBN 81-246-0182-8.
• Glucklich, Ariel (2008). The Strides of Vishnu : Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-971825-2.
• Mackenzie, C Brown (1990). The Triumph of the Goddess – The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the DevI-BhAgavata PuraNa. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-0363-7.
• Mittal, Sushil (2004). The Hindu World. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-21527-5.
• Moghe, S. G., ed. (1997). Professor Kane's contribution to Dharmasastra literature. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd. ISBN 81-246-0075-9.
• Monier-Williams, Monier (1899). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
• Pargiter, F. E. (1962) [1922]. Ancient Indian historical tradition. Original publisher Oxford University Press, London. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass. OCLC 1068416.
• Rao, Velcheru Narayana (1993). "Purana as Brahminic Ideology". In Doniger Wendy (ed.). Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-1381-0.
• Rocher, Ludo (1986). The Puranas. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-02522-5.
• Shulman, David Dean (1980). Tamil Temple Myths: Sacrifice and Divine Marriage in the South Indian Saiva Tradition. ISBN 0-691-06415-6.
• Singh, Nagendra Kumar (1997). Encyclopaedia of Hinduism. ISBN 81-7488-168-9.
• Thapan, Anita Raina (1997). Understanding Gaṇapati: Insights into the Dynamics of a Cult. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. ISBN 81-7304-195-4.

External links

• Agni Purana (in English), Volume 2, MN Dutt (Translator), Hathi Trust Archives
• Vishnu Purana H.H. Wilson
• Vishnu Purana, MN Dutt
• Brahmanda Purana, GV Tagare
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Marquis de Sade
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/28/21

The first Director General for the Company was François de la Faye...

-- French East India Company, by Wikipedia

Donatien Alphonse François
Marquis de Sade
Portrait of Donatien Alphonse François de Sade by Charles Amédée Philippe van Loo.[1] The drawing dates to 1760, when de Sade was 19 years old, and is the only known authentic portrait of him.[2]
Born: 2 June 1740, Paris, Kingdom of France
Died: 2 December 1814 (aged 74), Charenton, Val-de-Marne, France
Philosophy career
Notable work: The 120 Days of Sodom (1785); Justine (1791); Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795); Juliette (1799)
Era: Late 18th century
Region: France
School: Libertine
Main interests: Pornography, eroticism, politics
Notable ideas: Sadism
Influences: Voltaire, Rousseau, Spinoza, Radcliffe, Hobbes,[3] Diderot, Machiavelli,[3] Bernard Mandeville[3]
Spouse(s): Renée-Pélagie Cordier de Launay, ​(m. 1763; died 1810)​
Partner(s): Anne-Prospère de Launay (1772)[2]; Madeleine LeClerc (1810–1814; his death)
Children: Louis Marie de Sade (1767–1809); Donatien Claude Armand de Sade (1769–1847); Madeleine Laure de Sade (1771–1844)
Parents: Jean Baptiste François Joseph, Comte de Sade (father); Marie Eléonore de Maillé de Carman (mother)

Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (French: [dɔnasjɛ̃ alfɔ̃z fʁɑ̃swa, maʁki də sad]; 2 June 1740 – 2 December 1814), was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher and writer famous for his libertine sexuality. His works include novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts. In his lifetime some of these were published under his own name while others, which de Sade denied having written, appeared anonymously. De Sade is best known for his erotic works, which combined philosophical discourse with pornography, depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence, suffering, anal sex (which he calls sodomy), crime, and blasphemy against Christianity. He was a proponent of absolute freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion, or law. The words sadism and sadist are derived in reference to the works of fiction he wrote which portrayed numerous acts of sexual cruelty.[5] While de Sade mentally explored a wide range of sexual deviations, his known behavior includes "only the beating of a housemaid and an orgy with several prostitutes—behavior significantly departing from the clinical definition of sadism".[6][7] De Sade was a proponent of free public brothels provided by the state: In order both to prevent crimes in society that are motivated by lust and to reduce the desire to oppress others using one’s own power, de Sade recommended public brothels where people can satisfy their wishes to command and be obeyed.[8]

With no legal charge brought against him,[6] De Sade was incarcerated in various prisons and an insane asylum for about 32 years of his life (or, after 1778, solely due to lettre de cachet and involuntary commitment): 11 years in Paris (10 of which were spent in the Bastille), a month in the Conciergerie, two years in a fortress, a year in Madelonnettes Convent, three years in Bicêtre Asylum, a year in Sainte-Pélagie Prison, and 12 years in the Charenton Asylum. During the French Revolution, he was an elected delegate to the National Convention. Many of his works were written in prison.

There continues to be a fascination with de Sade among scholars and in popular culture. Prolific French intellectuals such as Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault published studies of him.[9] On the other hand, the French hedonist philosopher Michel Onfray has attacked this interest in de Sade, writing that "It is intellectually bizarre to make Sade a hero."[10] There have also been numerous film adaptions of his work, the most notable being Pasolini's Salò, an adaptation of de Sade's controversial book, The 120 Days of Sodom.


Early life and education

The Château de Lacoste above Lacoste, a residence of Sade; currently the site of theatre festivals

De Sade was born on 2 June 1740, in the Hôtel de Condé, Paris, to Jean Baptiste François Joseph, Count de Sade and Marie Eléonore de Maillé de Carman, distant cousin and lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Condé. He was his parents' only surviving child.[11] He was educated by an uncle, the Abbé de Sade. In Sade's youth, his father abandoned the family; his mother joined a convent.[12] He was raised by servants who indulged "his every whim," which led to his becoming "known as a rebellious and spoiled child with an ever-growing temper."[12]

Later in his childhood, Sade was sent to the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris,[12] a Jesuit college, for four years.[11] While at the school, he was tutored by Abbé Jacques-François Amblet, a priest.[13] Later in life, at one of Sade's trials the Abbé testified, saying that Sade had a "passionate temperament which made him eager in the pursuit of pleasure" but had a "good heart."[13] At the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, he was subjected to "severe corporal punishment," including "flagellation," and he "spent the rest of his adult life obsessed with the violent act."[12]

At age 14, Sade began attending an elite military academy.[11] After twenty months of training, on 14 December 1755, at age 15, Sade was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant, becoming a soldier.[13] After thirteen months as a sub-lieutenant, he was commissioned to the rank of cornet in the Brigade de S. André of the Comte de Provence's Carbine Regiment.[13] He eventually became Colonel of a Dragoon regiment and fought in the Seven Years' War. In 1763, on returning from war, he courted a rich magistrate's daughter, but her father rejected his suitorship and instead arranged a marriage with his elder daughter, Renée-Pélagie de Montreuil; that marriage produced two sons and a daughter.[14] In 1766, he had a private theatre built in his castle, the Château de Lacoste, in Provence. In January 1767, his father died.

Sade's father, Jean-Baptiste François Joseph de Sade

Sade's mother, Marie Eléonore de Maillé de Carman

Title and heirs

The men of the Sade family alternated between using the marquis and comte (count) titles. His grandfather, Gaspard François de Sade, was the first to use marquis;[15] occasionally, he was the Marquis de Sade, but is identified in documents as the Marquis de Mazan. The Sade family were noblesse d'épée, claiming at the time the oldest, Frank-descended nobility, so assuming a noble title without a King's grant, was customarily de rigueur. Alternating title usage indicates that titular hierarchy (below duc et pair) was notional; theoretically, the marquis title was granted to noblemen owning several countships, but its use by men of dubious lineage caused its disrepute. At Court, precedence was by seniority and royal favor, not title. There is father-and-son correspondence, wherein father addresses son as marquis.[citation needed]

For many years, Sade's descendants regarded his life and work as a scandal to be suppressed. This did not change until the mid-twentieth century, when the Comte Xavier de Sade reclaimed the marquis title, long fallen into disuse, on his visiting cards,[16] and took an interest in his ancestor's writings. At that time, the "divine marquis" of legend was so unmentionable in his own family that Xavier de Sade only learned of him in the late 1940s when approached by a journalist.[16] He subsequently discovered a store of Sade's papers in the family château at Condé-en-Brie, and worked with scholars for decades to enable their publication.[2] His youngest son, the Marquis Thibault de Sade, has continued the collaboration. The family have also claimed a trademark on the name.[17] The family sold the Château de Condé in 1983.[18] As well as the manuscripts they retain, others are held in universities and libraries. Many, however, were lost in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A substantial number were destroyed after Sade's death at the instigation of his son, Donatien-Claude-Armand.[19]

Scandals and imprisonment

Sade lived a scandalous libertine existence and repeatedly procured young prostitutes as well as employees of both sexes in his castle in Lacoste. He was also accused of blasphemy, which was considered a serious offense. His behavior also included an affair with his wife's sister, Anne-Prospère, who had come to live at the castle.[2]

Beginning in 1763, Sade lived mainly in or near Paris. Because of his sexual infamy, he was put under surveillance by the police, who made detailed reports of his activities. After several short imprisonments, which included a brief incarceration in the Château de Saumur (then a prison), he was exiled to his château at Lacoste in 1768.[19]

Nine years later, in 1772, Sade committed sexual acts that included sodomy with four prostitutes and his manservant, Latour.[20] The two men were sentenced to death in absentia for sodomy. They fled to Italy, Sade taking his wife's sister with him. Sade and Latour were caught and imprisoned at the Fortress of Miolans in French Savoy in late 1772, but escaped four months later.

Detail of Les 120 Journées de Sodome manuscript

Sade later hid at Lacoste where he rejoined his wife, who became an accomplice in his subsequent endeavors.[2] In 1774, Sade partook in orgies at his home.[2] Authorities learned of his sexual debauchery and Sade was forced to flee to Italy once again. It was during this time he wrote Voyage d'Italie. In 1776, he returned to Lacoste, again hired several women, most of whom soon fled. In 1777, the father of one of those employees went to Lacoste to claim his daughter, and attempted to shoot the Marquis at point-blank range, but the gun misfired.

Later that year, Sade was tricked into going to Paris to visit his supposedly ill mother, who in fact had recently died. He was arrested and imprisoned in the Château de Vincennes. He successfully appealed his death sentence in 1778 but remained imprisoned under the lettre de cachet. He escaped but was soon recaptured. He resumed writing and met fellow prisoner Comte de Mirabeau, who also wrote erotic works. Despite this common interest, the two came to dislike each other intensely.[21]

In 1784, Vincennes was closed, and Sade was transferred to the Bastille. The following year, he wrote the manuscript for his magnum opus Les 120 Journées de Sodome (The 120 Days of Sodom), which he wrote in minuscule handwriting on a continuous roll of paper he rolled tightly and placed in his cell wall to hide. He was unable to finish the work; on 4 July 1789, he was transferred "naked as a worm" to the insane asylum at Charenton near Paris, two days after he reportedly incited unrest outside the prison by shouting to the crowds gathered there, "They are killing the prisoners here!" Sade was unable to retrieve the manuscript before being removed from the prison. The storming of the Bastille, a major event of the French Revolution, occurred ten days after Sade left, on 14 July. To his despair, he believed that the manuscript was destroyed in the storming of the Bastille, though it was actually saved by a man named Arnoux de Saint-Maximin two days before the Bastille was attacked. It is not known why Saint-Maximin chose to bring the manuscript to safety, nor indeed is anything else about him known.[2] In 1790, Sade was released from Charenton after the new National Constituent Assembly abolished the instrument of lettre de cachet. His wife obtained a divorce soon afterwards.

Return to freedom, delegate to the National Convention, and imprisonment

During Sade's time of freedom, beginning in 1790, he published several of his books anonymously. He met Marie-Constance Quesnet, a former actress with a six-year-old son, who had been abandoned by her husband. Constance and Sade stayed together for the rest of his life.

He initially adapted the new political order after the revolution, supported the Republic,[22] called himself "Citizen Sade", and managed to obtain several official positions despite his aristocratic background.

Because of the damage done to his estate in Lacoste, which was sacked in 1789 by an angry mob, he moved to Paris. In 1790, he was elected to the National Convention, where he represented the far left. He was a member of the Piques section, notorious for its radical views. He wrote several political pamphlets, in which he called for the implementation of direct vote. However, there is much evidence suggesting that he suffered abuse from his fellow revolutionaries due to his aristocratic background. Matters were not helped by his son's May 1792 desertion from the military, where he had been serving as a second lieutenant and the aide-de-camp to an important colonel, the Marquis de Toulengeon. Sade was forced to disavow his son's desertion in order to save himself. Later that year, his name was added—whether by error or wilful malice—to the list of émigrés of the Bouches-du-Rhône department.[23]

While claiming he was opposed to the Reign of Terror in 1793, he wrote an admiring eulogy for Jean-Paul Marat.[16] At this stage, he was becoming publicly critical of Maximilien Robespierre and, on 5 December, he was removed from his posts, accused of moderatism, and imprisoned for almost a year. He was released in 1794 after the end of the Reign of Terror.

In 1796, now completely destitute, he had to sell his ruined castle in Lacoste.

Imprisonment for his writings and death

The first page of Sade's Justine, one of the works for which he was imprisoned

In 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the arrest of the anonymous author of Justine and Juliette.[2] Sade was arrested at his publisher's office and imprisoned without trial; first in the Sainte-Pélagie Prison and, following allegations that he had tried to seduce young fellow prisoners there, in the harsh Bicêtre Asylum.

After intervention by his family, he was declared insane in 1803 and transferred once more to the Charenton Asylum. His ex-wife and children had agreed to pay his pension there. Constance, pretending to be his relative, was allowed to live with him at Charenton. The director of the institution, Abbé de Coulmier, allowed and encouraged him to stage several of his plays, with the inmates as actors, to be viewed by the Parisian public.[2] Coulmier's novel approaches to psychotherapy attracted much opposition. In 1809, new police orders put Sade into solitary confinement and deprived him of pens and paper. In 1813, the government ordered Coulmier to suspend all theatrical performances.

Sade began a sexual relationship with 14-year-old Madeleine LeClerc, daughter of an employee at Charenton. This lasted some four years, until his death in 1814.

He had left instructions in his will forbidding that his body be opened for any reason whatsoever, and that it remain untouched for 48 hours in the chamber in which he died, and then placed in a coffin and buried on his property located in Malmaison near Épernon. These instructions were not followed; he was buried at Charenton. His skull was later removed from the grave for phrenological examination.[2] His son had all his remaining unpublished manuscripts burned, including the immense multi-volume work Les Journées de Florbelle.

Appraisal and criticism

Numerous writers and artists, especially those concerned with sexuality, have been both repelled and fascinated by Sade. An article in The Independent, a British online newspaper, gives contrasting views: the French novelist Pierre Guyotat said, "Sade is, in a way, our Shakespeare. He has the same sense of tragedy, the same sweeping grandeur" while public intellectual Michel Onfray said, "it is intellectually bizarre to make Sade a hero... Even according to his most hero-worshipping biographers, this man was a sexual delinquent".[10]

The contemporary rival pornographer Rétif de la Bretonne published an Anti-Justine in 1798.

Geoffrey Gorer, an English anthropologist and author (1905–1985), wrote one of the earliest books on Sade, entitled The Revolutionary Ideas of the Marquis de Sade in 1935. He pointed out that Sade was in complete opposition to contemporary philosophers for both his "complete and continual denial of the right to property" and for viewing the struggle in late 18th century French society as being not between "the Crown, the bourgeoisie, the aristocracy or the clergy, or sectional interests of any of these against one another", but rather all of these "more or less united against the proletariat." By holding these views, he cut himself off entirely from the revolutionary thinkers of his time to join those of the mid-nineteenth century. Thus, Gorer argued, "he can with some justice be called the first reasoned socialist."[24]

Simone de Beauvoir (in her essay Must we burn Sade?, published in Les Temps modernes, December 1951 and January 1952) and other writers have attempted to locate traces of a radical philosophy of freedom in Sade's writings, preceding modern existentialism by some 150 years. He has also been seen as a precursor of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis in his focus on sexuality as a motive force. The surrealists admired him as one of their forerunners, and Guillaume Apollinaire famously called him "the freest spirit that has yet existed".[25]

Pierre Klossowski, in his 1947 book Sade Mon Prochain ("Sade My Neighbour"), analyzes Sade's philosophy as a precursor of nihilism, negating Christian values and the materialism of the Enlightenment.

One of the essays in Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947) is titled "Juliette, or Enlightenment and Morality" and interprets the ruthless and calculating behavior of Juliette as the embodiment of the philosophy of Enlightenment. Similarly, psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan posited in his 1963 essay Kant avec Sade that Sade's ethics was the complementary completion of the categorical imperative originally formulated by Immanuel Kant.

In his 1988 Political Theory and Modernity, William E. Connolly analyzes Sade's Philosophy in the Bedroom as an argument against earlier political philosophers, notably Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes, and their attempts to reconcile nature, reason, and virtue as bases of ordered society. Similarly, Camille Paglia[26] argued that Sade can be best understood as a satirist, responding "point by point" to Rousseau's claims that society inhibits and corrupts mankind's innate goodness: Paglia notes that Sade wrote in the aftermath of the French Revolution, when Rousseauist Jacobins instituted the bloody Reign of Terror and Rousseau's predictions were brutally disproved. "Simply follow nature, Rousseau declares. Sade, laughing grimly, agrees."[27]

In The Sadeian Woman: And the Ideology of Pornography (1979), Angela Carter provides a feminist reading of Sade, seeing him as a "moral pornographer" who creates spaces for women. Similarly, Susan Sontag defended both Sade and Georges Bataille's Histoire de l'œil (Story of the Eye) in her essay "The Pornographic Imagination" (1967) on the basis their works were transgressive texts, and argued that neither should be censored. By contrast, Andrea Dworkin saw Sade as the exemplary woman-hating pornographer, supporting her theory that pornography inevitably leads to violence against women. One chapter of her book Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1979) is devoted to an analysis of Sade. Susie Bright claims that Dworkin's first novel Ice and Fire, which is rife with violence and abuse, can be seen as a modern retelling of Sade's Juliette.[28]


Sexual sadism disorder, a mental condition named after Sade, has been defined as experiencing sexual arousal in response to extreme pain, suffering or humiliation done non-consensually to others (as committed by Sade in his crimes and described in his novels).[29] Other terms have been used to describe the condition, which may overlap with other sexual preferences that also involve inflicting pain. It is distinct from situations where consenting individuals use mild or simulated pain or humiliation for sexual excitement.[30]

Various influential cultural figures have expressed a great interest in Sade's work, including the French philosopher Michel Foucault,[31] the American film maker John Waters[32] and the Spanish filmmaker Jesús Franco. The poet Algernon Charles Swinburne is also said to have been highly influenced by Sade.[33] Nikos Nikolaidis' 1979 film The Wretches Are Still Singing was shot in a surreal way with a predilection for the aesthetics of the Marquis de Sade; Sade is said to have influenced Romantic and Decadent authors such as Charles Baudelaire, Gustave Flaubert, and Rachilde; and to have influenced a growing popularity of nihilism in Western thought.[34] Sade's notions on strength and weakness and good and evil, such as the "equilibrium" of good and evil in the world required by Nature which the monk Clément mentions in Justine,[35] may have also been a considerable influence on Friedrich Nietzsche, particularly concerning the views on good and evil in Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morality (1887). The philosopher of egoist anarchism, Max Stirner, is also speculated to have been influenced by Sade's work.[36]

Serial killer Ian Brady, who with Myra Hindley carried out torture and murder of children known as the Moors murders in England during the 1960s, was fascinated by Sade, and the suggestion was made at their trial and appeals[37] that the tortures of the children (the screams and pleadings of whom they tape-recorded) were influenced by Sade's ideas and fantasies. According to Donald Thomas, who has written a biography on Sade, Brady and Hindley had read very little of Sade's actual work; the only book of his they possessed was an anthology of excerpts that included none of his most extreme writings.[38] In the two suitcases found by the police that contained books that belonged to Brady was The Life and Ideas of the Marquis de Sade.[39] Hindley herself claimed that Brady would send her to obtain books by Sade, and that after reading them he became sexually aroused and beat her.[40]

In Philosophy in the Bedroom Sade proposed the use of induced abortion for social reasons and population control, marking the first time the subject had been discussed in public. It has been suggested that Sade's writing influenced the subsequent medical and social acceptance of abortion in Western society.[41]

Cultural depictions

Depiction of the Marquis de Sade by H. Biberstein in L'Œuvre du marquis de Sade, Guillaume Apollinaire (Edit.), Bibliothèque des Curieux, Paris, 1912

Main article: Marquis de Sade in popular culture

There have been many and varied references to the Marquis de Sade in popular culture, including fictional works and biographies. The eponym of the psychological and subcultural term sadism, his name is used variously to evoke sexual violence, licentiousness, and freedom of speech.[9] In modern culture his works are simultaneously viewed as masterful analyses of how power and economics work, and as erotica.[42] It could be argued that Sade's sexually explicit works were a medium for the articulation but also for the exposure of the corrupt and hypocritical values of the elite in his society, and that it was primarily this inconvenient and embarrassing satire that led to his long-term detention. With this view, he becomes a symbol of the artist's struggle with the censor and that of the moral philosopher with the constraints of conventional morality. Sade's use of pornographic devices to create provocative works that subvert the prevailing moral values of his time inspired many other artists in a variety of media. The cruelties depicted in his works gave rise to the concept of sadism. Sade's works have to this day been kept alive by certain artists and intellectuals because they themselves espouse a philosophy of extreme individualism.[43] But Sade's life was lived in flat contradiction and breach of Kant's injunction to treat others as ends in themselves and never merely as means to an agent's own ends.

In the late 20th century, there was a resurgence of interest in Sade; leading French intellectuals like Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault[44] published studies of the philosopher, and interest in Sade among scholars and artists continued.[9] In the realm of visual arts, many surrealist artists had interest in the "Divine Marquis." Sade was celebrated in surrealist periodicals, and feted by figures such as Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Éluard, and Maurice Heine; Man Ray admired Sade because he and other surrealists viewed him as an ideal of freedom.[43] The first Manifesto of Surrealism (1924) announced that "Sade is surrealist in sadism", and extracts of the original draft of Justine were published in Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution.[45] In literature, Sade is referenced in several stories by horror and science fiction writer (and author of Psycho) Robert Bloch, while Polish science fiction author Stanisław Lem wrote an essay analyzing the game theory arguments appearing in Sade's Justine.[46] The writer Georges Bataille applied Sade's methods of writing about sexual transgression to shock and provoke readers.[43]

Sade's life and works have been the subject of numerous fictional plays, films, pornographic or erotic drawings, etchings, and more. These include Peter Weiss's play Marat/Sade, a fantasia extrapolating from the fact that Sade directed plays performed by his fellow inmates at the Charenton asylum.[47] Yukio Mishima, Barry Yzereef, and Doug Wright also wrote plays about Sade; Weiss's and Wright's plays have been made into films. His work is referenced on film at least as early as Luis Buñuel's L'Âge d'Or (1930), the final segment of which provides a coda to 120 Days of Sodom, with the four debauched noblemen emerging from their mountain retreat. In 1969, American International Films released a German-made production called de Sade, with Keir Dullea in the title role. Pier Paolo Pasolini filmed Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), updating Sade's novel to the brief Salò Republic; in 1989, Henri Xhonneux and Roland Topor made Marquis, which was partially based on the memoirs of de Sade;[48] Benoît Jacquot's Sade and Philip Kaufman's Quills (from the play of the same name by Doug Wright) both hit cinemas in 2000. Quills, inspired by Sade's imprisonment and battles with the censorship in his society,[43] portrays him (Geoffrey Rush) as a literary freedom fighter who is a martyr to the cause of free expression.[49] Sade is a 2000 French film directed by Benoît Jacquot starring Daniel Auteuil as the Marquis de Sade, which was adapted by Jacques Fieschi and Bernard Minoret from the novel La terreur dans le boudoir by Serge Bramly.

Often Sade himself has been depicted in American popular culture less as a revolutionary or even as a libertine and more akin to a sadistic, tyrannical villain. For example, in the final episode of the television series Friday the 13th: The Series, Micki, the female protagonist, travels back in time and ends up being imprisoned and tortured by Sade. Similarly, in the horror film Waxwork, Sade is among the film's wax villains to come alive.

While not personally depicted, Sade's writings feature prominently in the novel Too Like the Lightning, first book in the Terra Ignota sequence written by Ada Palmer. Palmer's depiction of 25th century Earth relies heavily on the philosophies and prominent figureheads of the Enlightenment, such as Voltaire and Denis Diderot in addition to Sade, and in the book the narrator Mycroft, after showing his fictional "reader" a sex scene formulated off of Sade's own, takes this imaginary reader's indignation as an opportunity to delve into Sade's ideas. Additionally, one of the central locations in the novel, a brothel advertising itself as a "bubble of the 18th century", features an inscription over the proprietor's door dedicating the establishment as a temple to Sade, an homage to Voltaire's "Le Temple du goût, par M. de Voltaire."

As Voltaire is said to have replied when the Marquis de Sade invited him to a second orgy, since he'd enjoyed the first one so much: "No thanks. Once is philosophy, twice is perversion.'"


Literary criticism

The Marquis de Sade viewed Gothic fiction as a genre that relied heavily on magic and phantasmagoria. In his literary criticism Sade sought to prevent his fiction from being labeled "Gothic" by emphasizing Gothic's supernatural aspects as the fundamental difference from themes in his own work. But while he sought this separation he believed the Gothic played a necessary role in society and discussed its roots and its uses. He wrote that the Gothic novel was a perfectly natural, predictable consequence of the revolutionary sentiments in Europe. He theorized that the adversity of the period had rightfully caused Gothic writers to "look to hell for help in composing their alluring novels." Sade held the work of writers Matthew Lewis and Ann Radcliffe high above other Gothic authors, praising the brilliant imagination of Radcliffe and pointing to Lewis' The Monk as without question the genre's best achievement. Sade nevertheless believed that the genre was at odds with itself, arguing that the supernatural elements within Gothic fiction created an inescapable dilemma for both its author and its readers. He argued that an author in this genre was forced to choose between elaborate explanations of the supernatural or no explanation at all and that in either case the reader was unavoidably rendered incredulous. Despite his celebration of The Monk, Sade believed that there was not a single Gothic novel that had been able to overcome these problems, and that a Gothic novel that did would be universally regarded for its excellence in fiction.[50]

Many assume that Sade's criticism of the Gothic novel is a reflection of his frustration with sweeping interpretations of works like Justine. Within his objections to the lack of verisimilitude in the Gothic may have been an attempt to present his own work as the better representation of the whole nature of man. Since Sade professed that the ultimate goal of an author should be to deliver an accurate portrayal of man, it is believed that Sade's attempts to separate himself from the Gothic novel highlights this conviction. For Sade, his work was best suited for the accomplishment of this goal in part because he was not chained down by the supernatural silliness that dominated late 18th-century fiction.[51] Moreover, it is believed that Sade praised The Monk (which displays Ambrosio's sacrifice of his humanity to his unrelenting sexual appetite) as the best Gothic novel chiefly because its themes were the closest to those within his own work.[52]

Libertine novels

Sade's fiction has been classified under different genres, including pornography, Gothic, and baroque. Sade's most famous books are often classified not as Gothic but as libertine novels, and include the novels Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue; Juliette; The 120 Days of Sodom; and Philosophy in the Bedroom. These works challenge traditional perceptions of sexuality, religion, law, age, and gender. His fictional portrayals of sexual violence and sadism stunned even those contemporaries of Sade who were quite familiar with the dark themes of the Gothic novel during its popularity in the late 18th century. Suffering is the primary rule, as in these novels one must often decide between sympathizing with the torturer or the victim. While these works focus on the dark side of human nature, the magic and phantasmagoria that dominates the Gothic is noticeably absent and is the primary reason these works are not considered to fit the genre.[53]

Through the unreleased passions of his libertines, Sade wished to shake the world at its core. With 120 Days, for example, Sade wished to present "the most impure tale that has ever been written since the world exists."[54] Despite his literary attempts at evil, his characters and stories often fell into repetition of sexual acts and philosophical justifications. Simone de Beauvoir and Georges Bataille have argued that the repetitive form of his libertine novels, though hindering the artfulness of his prose, ultimately strengthened his individualist arguments.[55][56] The repetitive and obsessive nature of the account of Justine's abuse and frustration in her strivings to be a good Christian living a virtuous and pure life may on a superficial reading seem tediously excessive. Paradoxically, however, Sade checks the reader's instinct to treat them as laughable cheap pornography and obscenity by knowingly and artfully interweaving the tale of her trials with extended reflections on individual and social morality.

Short fiction

In The Crimes of Love, subtitled "Heroic and Tragic Tales", Sade combines romance and horror, employing several Gothic tropes for dramatic purposes. There is blood, banditti, corpses, and of course insatiable lust. Compared to works like Justine, here Sade is relatively tame, as overt eroticism and torture is subtracted for a more psychological approach. It is the impact of sadism instead of acts of sadism itself that emerge in this work, unlike the aggressive and rapacious approach in his libertine works.[52] The modern volume entitled Gothic Tales collects a variety of other short works of fiction intended to be included in Sade's Contes et Fabliaux d'un Troubadour Provencal du XVIII Siecle.

An example is "Eugénie de Franval", a tale of incest and retribution. In its portrayal of conventional moralities it is something of a departure from the erotic cruelties and moral ironies that dominate his libertine works. It opens with a domesticated approach:

To enlighten mankind and improve its morals is the only lesson which we offer in this story. In reading it, may the world discover how great is the peril which follows the footsteps of those who will stop at nothing to satisfy their desires.

Descriptions in Justine seem to anticipate Radcliffe's scenery in The Mysteries of Udolpho and the vaults in The Italian, but, unlike these stories, there is no escape for Sade's virtuous heroine, Justine. Unlike the milder Gothic fiction of Radcliffe, Sade's protagonist is brutalized throughout and dies tragically. To have a character like Justine, who is stripped without ceremony and bound to a wheel for fondling and thrashing, would be unthinkable in the domestic Gothic fiction written for the bourgeoisie. Sade even contrives a kind of affection between Justine and her tormentors, suggesting shades of masochism in his heroine.[57]


Further information: Marquis de Sade bibliography

See also

• France portal
• Biography portal
• Fetish fashion
• La société
• Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
• Sexual fetishism
• Jesus Franco directed films based on the Marquis de Sade's works


1. Sade, Marquis de (1999). Seaver, Richard (ed.). Letters from Prison. New York: Arcade Publishing. ISBN 978-1559704113.
2. Perrottet, Tony (February 2015). "Who Was the Marquis de Sade?". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
3. Airaksinen, Timo (2001). The philosophy of the Marquis de Sade. Taylor & Francis e-Library. p. 20–21. ISBN 0-203-17439-9. Two of Sade’s own intellectual heroes were Niccolò Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes, both of whom he interpreted in the traditional manner to recommend wickedness as an ingredient of virtue. ... Robert (sic) Mandeville is another model mentioned by Sade, and he would have appreciated Malthus as well.
4. "Power Lunch with social critic Lydia Lunch".
5. Marquis de Sade at the Encyclopædia Britannica
6. Marshall, Peter H., 1946- (2010). Demanding the impossible : a history of anarchism. Oakland, CA: PM Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-60486-064-1. OCLC 319501361.
7. Gorer, Geoffrey, 1905-1985. (2011). The life and ideas of the Marquis de Sade. [Breinigsville, Pa.]: [CreateSpace]. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-4455-2563-1. OCLC 793131351.
8. Marshall, Peter H., 1946- (2010). Demanding the impossible : a history of anarchism. Oakland, CA: PM Press. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-1-60486-064-1. OCLC 319501361.
9. Phillips, John, 2005, The Marquis De Sade: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280469-3.
10. "Marquis de Sade: rebel, pervert, rapist...hero?". The Independent. London, England: Independent Print Ltd. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
11. "The Eponymous Sadist". Retrieved 26 April 2016.
12. "Marquis de Sade". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
13. Hayman, Ronald (2003). Marquis de Sade: The Genius of Passion. New York City: Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 978-1860648946.
14. Love, Brenda (2002). The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Abacus. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-349-11535-1.
15. Lêly, Gilbert (1961). Vie du Marquis de Sade (in French) (1982 ed.). Paris: J.-J. Pauvert aux Editions Garnier frères. ISBN 978-2705004552.
16. du Plessix Gray, Francine (1998). At Home with the Marquis de Sade: A Life. New York City: Simon and Schuster. pp. 418–20. ISBN 978-0140286779.
17. de Lucovich, Jean-Pierre (30 July 2001). "Quand le marquis de Sade entre dans l'ère du marketing". (in French). Retrieved 10 November 2018.
18. "Condé Castle – History". Archived from the original on 9 August 2007.
19. Schaeffer, Neil (1999). The Marquis de Sade: a Life. New York City: Knopf Doubleday. ISBN 978-0674003927.
20. "Marquis de Sade". Brittanica. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
21. Mirabeau, Honoré-Gabriel Riqueti; Apollinaire, Guillaume; Pierrugues, P. (1921). L'Œuvre du comte de Mirabeau. Paris, France: Bibliothèque des curieux. p. 9.
22. McLemee, Scott (2002). "Sade, Marquis de". Archived from the original on 23 November 2007.
23. "The Life and Times of the Marquis de Sade". Archived from the original on 25 October 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
24. Gorer, Geoffrey. The Revolutionary Ideas of the Marquis de Sade. Berlin, Ohio: TGS Publishing. p. 197. ISBN 978-1610333924.
25. Queenan, Joe (2004). Malcontents. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Running Press. p. 519. ISBN 978-0-7624-1697-4.
26. Paglia, Camille. (1990) Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. NY: Vintage, ISBN 0-679-73579-8, Chapter 8, "Return of the Great Mother: Rousseau vs. Sade".
27. Paglia (1990), p. 235
28. Andrea Dworkin has Died, from Susie Bright's Journal, 11 April 2005. Retrieved 23 November 2006
29. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
30. Freund, K., & Blanchard, R. (1986). The concept of courtship disorder. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 12, 79–92.
31. Eribon, Didier (1991) [1989]. Michel Foucault. Betsy Wing (translator). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0674572867.
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Dayananda Saraswati
by New World Encyclopedia
Accessed: 3/1/21

A representation of Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Swami Dayananda Saraswati (स्‍वामी दयानन्‍द सरस्‍वती) (1824 - 1883) was an important Hindu religious scholar born in Gujarat, India. He is best known as the founder of the Arya Samaj "Society of Nobles," a great Hindu reform movement, founded in 1875. He was a sanyasi (one who has renounced all worldly possessions and relations) from his boyhood. He was an original scholar, who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas. Dayananda advocated the doctrine of karma, skepticism in dogma, and emphasized the ideals of brahmacharya (celibacy and devotion to God). The Theosophical Society and the Arya Samaj were united for a certain time under the name Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj.

Dayananda was an important Hindu reformist whose views did much to promote gender-equality, democracy, education, as well as a new confidence in India's cultural past and future capabilities. In some respects, he qualifies as an architect of modern India as am emerging scientific and technological power. Aspects of his views impacted negatively on inter-religious relations, however, and contributed to extreme forms of Hindu nationalism which denies non-Hindus their complete civil rights. Yet, in his own day, when he spoke of the superiority of Hindu culture and religion, he was doing so in defense of what Europeans in India had insulted and denigrated. A consequence of assuming racial, cultural, or religious superiority over others is that they retaliate, and reverse what is said about them. The Arya Samaj is now a worldwide movement.


Born in Kathiawi, Gujerat, Dayananda's parents were wealthy members of the priestly class, the Brahmins (or Brahmans). Although raised as an observant Hindu, in his late teens Dayananda turned to a detailed study of the Vedas, convinced that some contemporary practices, such as the veneration of images (murtis) was a corruption of pure, original Hinduism. His inquiries were prompted by a family visit to a temple for overnight worship, when he stayed up waiting for God to appear to accept the offerings made to image of the God Shiva. While everyone else slept, Dayananda saw mice eating the offerings kept for the God. Utterly surprised, he wondered how a God, who cannot even protect his own "offerings," would protect humanity. He later argued with his father that they should not worship such a helpless God. He then started pondering the meaning of life and death, and asking questions that worried his parents.

Quest for liberation

In 1845, he declared that he was starting a quest for enlightenment, or for liberation (moksha), left home and started to denounce image-veneration. His parents had decided to marry him off in his early teens (common in nineteenth century India), so instead Dayananda chose to become a wandering monk. He learned Panini's Grammar to understand Sanskrit texts. After wandering in search of guidance for over two decades, he found Swami Virjananda (1779-1868) near Mathura who became his guru. The guru told him to throw away all his books in the river and focus only on the Vedas. Dayananda stayed under Swami Virjananda's tutelage for two and a half years. After finishing his education, Virjananda asked him to spread the concepts of the Vedas in society as his gurudakshina ("tuition-dues"), predicting that he would revive Hinduism.

Reforming Hinduism

Dayananda set about this difficult task with dedication, despite attempts on his life. He traveled the country challenging religious scholars and priests of the day to discussions and won repeatedly on the strength of his arguments. He believed that Hinduism had been corrupted by divergence from the founding principles of the Vedas and misled by the priesthood for the priests' self-aggrandizement. Hindu priests discouraged common folk from reading Vedic scriptures and encouraged rituals (such as bathing in the Ganges and feeding of priests on anniversaries) which Dayananda pronounced as superstitions or self-serving.

He also considered certain aspects of European civilization to be positive, such as democracy and its emphasis on commerce, although he did not find Christianity at all attractive, or European cultural arrogance, which he disliked intensely. In some respects, his ideas were a reaction to Western criticism of Hinduism as superstitious idolatry. He may also have been influenced by Ram Mohan Roy, whose version of Hinduism also repudiated image-veneration. He knew Roy's leading disciple, Debendranath Tagore and for a while had contemplated joining the Brahmo Samaj but for him the Vedas were too central

In 1869, Dayananda set up his first Vedic School, dedicated to teaching Vedic values to the fifty students who registered during the first year. Two other schools followed by 1873. In 1875, he founded the Arya Samaj in 1875, which spearheaded what later became known as a nationalist movement within Hinduism. The term "fundamentalist" has also been used with reference to this strand of the Hindu religion.

The Arya Samaj

ओ३म् O3m (Aum), considered by the Arya Samaj to be the highest and most proper name of God.

The Arya Samaj unequivocally condemns idol-veneration, animal sacrifices, ancestor worship, pilgrimages, priestcraft, offerings made in temples, the caste system, untouchability, child marriages, and discrimination against women on the grounds that all these lacked Vedic sanction. The Arya Samaj discourages dogma and symbolism and encourages skepticism in beliefs that run contrary to common sense and logic. To many people, the Arya Samaj aims to be a "universal church" based on the authority of the Vedas. Dayananda taught that the Vedas are rational and contain universal principles. Fellow reformer Vivekananda also stressed the universal nature of the principles contained in Hindu thought, but for him the Ultimate was trans-personal, while Dayananda believed in a personal deity.

Among Swami Dayananda's immense contributions is his championing of the equal rights of women—such as their right to education and reading of Indian scriptures—and his translation of the Vedas from Sanskrit to Hindi so that the common person may be able to read the Vedas. The Arya Samaj is rare in Hinduism in its acceptance of women as leaders in prayer meetings and preaching. Dayananda promoted the idea of marriage by choice, strongly supported education, pride in India's past, in her culture as well as in her future capabilities. Indeed, he taught that Hinduism is the most rational religion and that the ancient Vedas are the source not only of spiritual truth but also of scientific knowledge. This stimulated a new interest in India's history and ancient disciples of medicine and science. Dayananda saw Indian civilization as superior, which some later developed into a type of nationalism that looked on non-Hindus as disloyal.

For several years (1879-1881), Dayananda was courted by the Theosophist, Helena Blavatsky, and Henry Steel Olcott, who were interested in a merger which was temporarily in place. However, their idea of the Ultimate Reality as impersonal did not find favor with Dayananda, for whom God is a person, and the organizations parted.

Dayananda's views on other religions

Far from borrowing concepts from other religions, as Raja Ram Mohan Roy had done, Swami Dayananda was quite critical of Islam and Christianity as may be seen in his book, Satyartha Prakash. He was against what he considered to be the corruption of the pure faith in his own country. Unlike many other reform movements within Hinduism, the Arya Samaj's appeal was addressed not only to the educated few in India, but to the world as a whole, as evidenced in the sixth of ten principle of the Arya Samaj.[1]

Arya Samaj, like a number of other modern Hindu movements, allows and encourages converts to Hinduism, since Dayananda held Hinduism to be based on "universal and all-embracing principles" and therefore to be "true." "I hold that the four Vedas," he wrote, "the repository of Knowledge and Religious Truths- are the Word of God …They are absolutely free from error and are an authority unto themselves."[2] In contrast, the Gospels are silly, and "no educated man" could believe in their content, which contradicted nature and reason.

Christians go about saying "Come, embrace my religion, get your sins forgiven and be saved" but "All this is untrue, since had Christ possessed the power of having sins remitted, instilling faith in others and purifying them, why would he not have freed his disciples from sin, made them faithful and pure," citing Matthew 17:17.[3] The claim that Jesus is the only way to God is fraudulent, since "God does not stand in need of any mediator," citing John 14: 6-7. In fact, one of the aims of the Arya Samaj was to re-convert Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. Sikhs were regarded as Hindus with a distinct way of worship. Some Gurdwaras actually fell under the control of the Arya Samaj, which led to the creation of a new Sikh organization to regain control of Sikh institutions. As the political influence of the movement grew, this attitude towards non-Hindu Indian's had a negative impact on their treatment, inciting such an event as the 1992 destruction of the Mosque at Ayodhia. There and elsewhere, Muslims were accused of violating sacred Hindu sites by bulding Mosques where Temples had previously stood. The Samaj has been criticized for aggressive intolerance against other religions.<see>Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Arya Samaj. Retrieved September 13, 2007.

However, given the hostility expressed by many Christian missionaries and colonial officials in India towards the Hindu religion, which they often held in open contempt, what Dayananda did was to reverse their attitude and give such people a taste of their own medicine.

Support for democracy

He was the among the first great Indian stalwarts who popularized the concept of Swaraj—right to self-determination vested in an individual, when India was ruled by the British. His philosophy inspired nationalists in the mutiny of 1857 (a fact that is less known), as well as champions such as Lala Lajpat Rai and Bhagat Singh. Dayananda's Vedic message was to emphasize respect and reverence for other human beings, supported by the Vedic notion of the divine nature of the individual—divine because the body was the temple where the human essence(soul or "Atma") could possibly interface with the creator ("ParamAtma"). In the 10 principles of the Arya Samaj, he enshrined the idea that "All actions should be performed with the prime objective of benefiting mankind" as opposed to following dogmatic rituals or revering idols and symbols. In his own life, he interpreted Moksha to be a lower calling (due to its benefit to one individual) than the calling to emancipate others. The Arya Samaj is itself democratically organized. Local societies send delegates to regional societies, which in turn send them to the all India Samaj.


Dayananda's ideas cost him his life. He was poisoned in 1883, while a guest of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. On his deathbed, he forgave his poisoner, the Maharaja's cook, and actually gave him money to flee the king's anger.


The Arya Samaj remains a vigorous movement in India, where it has links with several other organizations including some political parties. Dayananda and the Arya Samaj provide the ideological underpinnings of the Hindutva movement of the twentieth century. Ruthven regards his "elevation of the Vedas to the sum of human knowledge, along with his myth of the Aryavartic kings" as religious fundamentalism, but considers its consequences as nationalistic, since "Hindutva secularizes Hinduism by sacralizing the nation." Dayananda's back-to-the-Vedas message influenced many thinkers.[4] The Hindutva concept considers that only Hindus can properly be considered India. Organizatuions such as the RSS (the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party]] were influenced by the Arya Samaj.

Sri Aurobindo

Dayananda also influenced Sri Aurobindo, who decided to look for hidden psychological meanings in the Vedas.[5] Dayananda's legacy may have had a negative influence in encouraging Hindu nationalism that denies the full rights of non-Hindus. On the other hand, he was a strong democrat and an advocate of women's rights. His championship of Indian culture, and his confidence in India's future ability to contribute to science, did much to stimulate India's post-colonial development as a leading nation in the area of technology especially.


Dayananda Saraswati wrote more than 60 works in all, including a 14 volume explanation of the six Vedangas, an incomplete commentary on the Ashtadhyayi (Panini's grammar), several small tracts on ethics and morality, Vedic rituals and sacraments and on criticism of rival doctrines (such as Advaita Vedanta). The Paropakarini Sabha located in the Indian city of Ajmer was founded by the Swami himself to publish his works and Vedic texts.
• Satyartha Prakash/Light of Truth. Translated to English, published in 1908; New Delhi: Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, 1975.
• An Introduction to the Commentary on the Vedas. Ed. B. Ghasi Ram, Meerut, 1925; New Delhi : Meharchand lachhmandas Publications, 1981.
• Glorious Thoughts of Swami Dayananda. Ed. Sen, N.B. New Delhi: New Book Society of India.
• Autobiography. Ed. Kripal Chandra Yadav, New Delhi: Manohar, 1978.
• The philosophy of religion in India. Delhi: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, 2005. ISBN 8180900797


1. New Zealand Arya Samaj, Ten Principles of the Arya Samaj. Retrieved September 13, 2007.
2. Griffiths, p. 202-3.
3. Griffiths, p. 200.
4. Ruthven, 108.
5. Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda (Volume 10). Retrieved September 13, 2007


• Griffiths, Paul J. Christianity Through Non-Christian Eyes. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1990. ISBN 0883446618
• Lata, Prem. Swami Dayananda Sarasvati. New Delhi: Sumit Publications, 1990. ISBN 978-8170001140
• Ruthven, Malise. Fundamentalism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0199212705
• Salmond, N.A. Hindu Iconoclasts: Rammohun Roy, Dayananda Sarasvati and Nineteenth Century Polemics Against Idolatry. Waterloo, Ont: Published for the Canadian Corp. for Studies in Religion by Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0889204195
• Sarasvati, Dayananda. Autobiography of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. New Delhi: Manohar Book Service, 1976.

External links

All links retrieved November 9, 2017.
• Satyarth Prakash - THE "LIGHT OF TRUTH" by Swami Dayanand Online book.


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Krishna Varma admired Swami Dayananda Saraswati's cultural nationalism and believed in Herbert Spencer's dictum that "Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative". A graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, he returned to India in the 1880s and served as divan (administrator) of a number of princely states, including Ratlam and Junagadh. He preferred this position to working under what he considered the alien rule of Britain. However, a supposed conspiracy of local British officials at Junagadh, compounded by differences between Crown authority and British Political Residents regarding the states, led to Varma's dismissal. He returned to England, where he found freedom of expression more favourable. Varma's views were staunchly anti-colonial, extending even to support for the Boers during the Second Boer War in 1899.

Krishna Varma co-founded the IHRS [Indian Home Rule Society] in February 1905, with Bhikaji Cama, S.R. Rana, Lala Lajpat Rai and others, as a rival organisation to the British Committee of the Congress. Subsequently, Krishna Varma used his considerable financial resources to offer scholarships to Indian students in memory of leaders of the 1857 uprising, on the condition that the recipients would not accept any paid post or honorary office from the British Raj upon their return home. These scholarships were complemented by three endowments of 2000 Rupees courtesy S.R. Rana, in memory of Rana Pratap Singh. Open to "Indians only", the IHRS garnered significant support from Indians – especially students – living in Britain. Funds received by Indian students as scholarships and bursaries from universities also found their way to the organisation. Following the model of Victorian public institutions, the IHRS adopted a constitution. The aim of the IHRS, clearly articulated in this constitution, was to "secure Home Rule for India, and to carry on a genuine Indian propaganda in this country by all practicable means". It recruited young Indian activists, raised funds, and possibly collected arms and maintained contact with revolutionary movements in India. The group professed support for causes in sympathy with its own, such as Turkish, Egyptian and Irish republican nationalism.

The Paris Indian Society, a branch of the IHRS, was launched in 1905 under the patronage of Bhikaji Cama, Sardar Singh Rana and B.H. Godrej. A number of India House members who later rose to prominence – including V.N. Chatterjee, Har Dayal and Acharya and others – first encountered the IHRS through this Paris Indian Society. Cama herself was at this time deeply involved with the Indian revolutionary cause, and she nurtured close links with both French and exiled Russian socialists. Lenin's views are thought to have influenced Cama's works at this time, and Lenin is believed to have visited India House during one of his stays in London. In 1907, Cama, along with V.N. Chatterjee and S.R. Rana, attended the Socialist Congress of the Second International in Stuttgart. There, supported by Henry Hyndman, she demanded recognition of self-rule for India and in a famous gesture unfurled one of the first Flags of India.

-- India House, by Wikipedia

Shyamji Krishna Varma (4 October 1857 – 30 March 1930) was an Indian revolutionary fighter, an Indian patriot, lawyer and journalist who founded the Indian Home Rule Society, India House and The Indian Sociologist in London. A graduate of Balliol College, Krishna Varma was a noted scholar in Sanskrit and other Indian languages. He pursued a brief legal career in India and served as the Divan of a number of Indian princely states in India. He had, however, differences with Crown authority, was dismissed following a supposed conspiracy of local British officials at Junagadh and chose to return to England. An admirer of Dayanand Saraswati's approach of cultural nationalism, and of Herbert Spencer, Krishna Varma believed in Spencer's dictum: "Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative".

In 1905 he founded the India House and The Indian Sociologist, which rapidly developed as an organised meeting point for radical nationalists among Indian students in Britain at the time and one of the most prominent centres for revolutionary Indian nationalism outside India. Krishna Varma moved to Paris in 1907, avoiding prosecution...

In 1875, Shyamji married Bhanumati, a daughter of a wealthy businessman of the Bhatia community and sister of his school friend Ramdas. Then he got in touch with the nationalist Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a radical reformer and an exponent of the Vedas, who had founded the Arya Samaj. He became his disciple and was soon conducting lectures on Vedic philosophy and religion. In 1877, a public speaking tour secured him a great public recognition. He became the first non-Brahmin to receive the prestigious title of Pandit by the Pandits of Kashi in 1877. He came to the attention of Monier Williams, an Oxford professor of Sanskrit who offered Shyamji a job as his assistant.


Shyamji arrived in England and joined Balliol College, Oxford on 25 April 1879 with the recommendation of Professor Monier Williams. Passing his B.A. in 1883, he presented a lecture on "the origin of writing in India" to the Royal Asiatic Society. The speech was very well received and he was elected a non-resident member of the society. In 1881 he represented India at the Berlin Congress of Orientalists.

Legal career

He returned to India in 1885 and started practice as a lawyer. Then he was appointed as Diwan (chief minister) by the King of Ratlam State; but ill health forced him to retire from this post with a lump sum gratuity of RS 32052 for his service. After a short stay in Mumbai, he settled in Ajmer, headquarters of his Guru Swami Dayananda Saraswati, and continued his practice at the British Court in Ajmer. He invested his income in three cotton presses and secured sufficient permanent income to be independent for the rest of his life. He served for the Maharaja of Udaipur as a council member from 1893 to 1895, followed by the position of Diwan of Junagadh State. He resigned in 1897 after a bitter experience with a British agent that shook his faith in British Rule.

-- Shyamji Krishna Varma, by Wikipedia

Gurukula Kangri [University or Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya] (deemed to be university; 'गुरुकुल कांगड़ी समविश्वविद्यालय') is a public central deemed to be university located in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India. It is fully funded by UGC [University Grants Commission (India)]. It is a NAAC [ National Assessment and Accreditation Council] "A" grade Accredited Deemed to be University u/s 3 of the UGC act 1956. Situated near the bank of the Ganges about 6 km from Haridwar and about 200 km from New Delhi. Gurukula Kangri has 24 academic departments covering Engineering, Applied Sciences, Vedic Sciences, Humanities &nd Social Sciences and Management programs with a strong emphasis on Vedic and Modern Sciences and technological education and research.[2]

Gurukula Kangri (Deemed to be University) was founded on 4 March 1902 by the Arya Samaj sannyasi Swami Shraddhanand, who was a follower of Dayananda Saraswati, with the sole aim to revive the ancient Indian gurukula system of education. This institution was established with the objective of providing an indigenous alternative to Lord Macaulay's education policy by imparting education in the areas of Vedic literature, Indian philosophy, Indian culture, modern sciences, and research...

The impetus for the foundation was found in the teachings and activities of Dayananda Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj.
The first foundation brick was laid down in Gujrawala, Punjab. During India Partition Swami ji searched for a suitable palace in India according to the imagination of Dayananda Saraswati as mentioned in Satyarth Prakash. The site of Kangri village, Bijnor district, was flooded when the river changed course in 1924; the new (present) campus was built subsequently...

The university provides education in modern sciences, technology and management, as well as covers traditional subjects such as Vedic literature, Indian philosophy and culture...

The Vedic Path

The Vedic Path is a peer-reviewed international quarterly journal of English published by the university. It is indexed in the Guide to Indian Periodical Literature. It was originally published as The Vedic Magazine from 1906 to 1935 and thereafter it was named as The Vedic Path.

The journal aims at promoting Indian knowledge tradition, Indian and Western literary theories, and their applications to literature. The research papers dealing with any aspect of these areas are published; preference is given to research papers of a comparative or interdisciplinary nature.

-- Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya University, by Wikipedia

In 1880, Lajpat Rai joined Government College at Lahore to study Law, where he came in contact with patriots and future freedom fighters, such as Lala Hans Raj and Pandit Guru Dutt. While studying at Lahore he was influenced by the Hindu reformist movement of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, became a member of existing Arya Samaj Lahore (founded 1877) and founder editor of Lahore-based Arya Gazette. When studying law, he became a firm believer in the idea that Hinduism, above nationality, was the pivotal point upon which an Indian lifestyle must be based. He believed, Hinduism, led to practices of peace to humanity, and the idea that when nationalist ideas were added to this peaceful belief system, a secular nation could be formed. His involvement with Hindu Mahasabha leaders gathered criticism from the Naujawan Bharat Sabha as the Mahasabhas were non-secular, which did not conform with the system laid out by the Indian National Congress. This focus on Hindu practices in the subcontinent would ultimately lead him to the continuation of peaceful movements to create successful demonstrations for Indian independence.

-- Lala Lajpat Rai, by Wikipedia

The rising star of the Samaj in the 1860s was Keshub Chunder Sen (Keshava Chandra Sen, 1838-1884), a middle-class recipient of a British education, ignorant of Sanskrit and enthralled by Christianity. Keshub was not of the Brahmin caste, so it is not surprising that he called for the discarding of the sacred thread worn by all Brahmins, and broke other taboos, e.g., by bringing his wife into the services. Debendranath was fond of him and for some time tried to keep up with Keshub’s idea of progress. But by 1865 their styles had diverged so far that the Samaj split in two, the greater part following the “Brahmo Samaj of India,” founded by Keshub in 1868.

Keshub was a bhakta -– a follower of the path of love -– who had no sympathy with traditional Hinduism, but was enthralled by the personality of the great bhakta of Galilee. Throughout his life he teetered on the brink of Christianity, but like his predecessors could not stomach its claim of supremacy over every other religion. He soon determined to follow in the steps of Rammohun Roy, and make his synthesis known to the West. His visit to England in 1870 was a triumph: the President of the Brahmo Samaj was received by numerous dignitaries from Queen Victoria downwards, and welcomed by the Unitarians as if he were a reincarnation of Rammohun himself. But for his part, he was appalled to discover what a nation of “Christians” was really like: the British seemed more alienated from Jesus’ teachings than even the Brahmins.

Keshub’s admiration for Jesus had brought him round to a belief that God had actually been revealed in certain men. The next step, perhaps an inevitable one for a charismatic leader lacking in any philosophical subtlety, was to class himself as one such man. This was his first major mistake. Struggling to define the prophetic status of which he had become convinced, Keshub said that he had no creed or doctrine to reveal, but was under a “perennial and perpetual inspiration from heaven.”

Some of the Brahmo Samaj members were dismayed by this kind of claim. But not far away from the headquarters in Calcutta, in the temple precincts of Dakshineswar, there was a man who left most visitors in no doubt that he was a recipient of such inspiration. It is to Keshub’s credit that, towards 1875, he did not hesitate to go and see Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1886). The two bhaktas fell in love with one another, in a spiritual sense, but it was Ramakrishna who was evidently the senior partner. With great delicacy and humility he tried to lead his more famous friend on to the realization that God and the devotee are one and the same, but this was going too far for the church leader. Nor was Keshub happy with Ramakrishna’s easy acceptance of “idols,” or with his seeming indifference to social reform. Enough that Ramakrishna succeeded in bringing Keshub round to worshipping God as Mother as well as Father, and that they spent many hours in ecstatic singing and dancing. More significant historically is the fact that some Brahmo Samajists gravitated permanently to Ramakrishna’s circle, finding there a level of spiritual awareness and presence that their own services lacked. It was they who brought Narendranath Datta [Swami Vivekananda] into the sage’s influence, initiating his transformation into Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), founder of the Ramakrishna Mission and Order and envoy to the Chicago Parliament of Religions in 1893. Mysticism apart, one can say that whereas the Brahmo Samaj was founded on rejection (albeit of social abuses and religious nonsense), Ramakrishna was an accepter. He adored Jesus with the Christians, not worrying that some of them were Trinitarians; worshiped Allah with the Muslims, agreeing that there was One God and that Mohammed was his prophet; and joyfully accepted the whole pantheon of Hindu gods and goddesses in all their idolatrous imagery. Every one of them spoke to him with the voice of his elected deity, the Mother Kali, and he knew that she was ready to speak to everyone who would listen to her.

It is one of the ironies of history that Blavatsky and Olcott failed to make contact with Ramakrishna, their one contemporary in India to whom no one can deny the title of spiritual master. That they did not was probably the fault of Keshub Chunder Sen, whose reputation reached them as one of “personal leadership and reckless egotism” diametrically opposed to the ideals of Rammohun Roy. In 1881 it seemed to Blavatsky that the Brahmo Samaj, fifty years after its foundation, was developing in exactly the same way as Christianity and Buddhism, with “the approach of a pompous ritualism, which in the progress of time will stifle what there is of spirit in the new church and leave only a gorgeous formalism in its place.” She warned her readers that whereas Rammohun had always been humility itself, the Samaj’s new leader, Keshub Chunder Sen, was claiming the church as a new dispensation and himself as an avatar.

In 1870, the same year that Keshub visited England, two other Indians took ship from England to America. They were a Bombay textile magnate called Moolji Thackersey (Seth Damodar Thackersey Mulji, died 1880) and Mr. Tulsidas. Josephine Ransom, an early historian of the Theosophical Society, writes that they were “on a mission to the West to see what could be done to introduce Eastern spiritual and philosophic ideas.” Traveling on the same boat was Henry Olcott, fresh from his experiences in London’s spiritualist circles. Olcott was sufficiently impressed by this shipboard meeting to keep a framed photograph of the two Indians on the wall of the apartment he was sharing with Blavatsky in 1877. It was one evening in that year that a visitor who had traveled in India (sometimes identified as James Peebles) remarked on the photograph. Olcott writes in his memoirs of the consequences of this extraordinary series of coincidences:

I took it down, showed it to him, and asked if he knew either of the two. He did know Moolji Thackersey and had quite recently met him in Bombay. I got the address, and by the next mail wrote to Moolji about our Society, our love for India and what caused it. In due course he replied in quite enthusiastic terms, accepted the offered diploma of membership, and told me about a great Hindu pandit and reformer, who had begun a powerful movement for the resuscitation of pure Vedic religion.

This reformer was Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824-1882). In 1870 he was still an eccentric traveling preacher with no aspirations to international influence: something that grew on him precisely after meeting the Brahmo Samajists. He met Devandranath [Debendranath] Tagore in 1870; in 1873 Keshub Chunder Sen gave him the advice (which he took) to stop wearing only a loincloth and speaking only Sanskrit. Indefatigably stumping round the subcontinent, Dayananda founded his “powerful movement,” the Arya Samaj, in 1875. This chronology suggests that in 1870 Thackersey was probably coming to America as a representative of the Brahmo Samaj, but that by the time Olcott got in touch with him again, he had transferred his allegiance to the Arya Samaj.

The Arya Samaj was more radical than any wing of the Brahmo Samaj, on which it was partially modeled. Dayananda was a monotheist who believed in the Vedas as the sole revealed scripture and the basis for a universal religion. The various gods addressed in the Vedic hymns (Agni, Indra, etc.), he explained as aspects of the One, and he was prepared to demonstrate how these ancient texts contained all possible knowledge of man, nature, and the means of salvation and happiness. Of the quarrels between the various religions, he wrote: “My purpose and aim is to help in putting an end to this mutual wrangling, to preach universal truth, to bring all men under one religion so that they may, by ceasing to hate each other and firmly loving each other, life in peace and work for their common welfare.” He had no respect whatever for Brahmanism: for their scriptures, rituals, polytheism, caste system, and discrimination against women. Unfortunately for his opponents, he was immensely learned and articulate, could out-argue most pundits, and had, in the last resort (which often seems to have occurred) the advantage of being 6’9” tall and broad to match.

From Dayananda’s point of view, the Brahmo Samajists had erred both in their failure to recognize the supremacy of the Vedas, and in their too-ready embrace of the errors of other religions. They were moreover too addicted to Brahmanic customs and privileges. Here is a contemporary summary of his social principles:

He says that no inhabitant of India should be called a Hindu, that an ignorant Brahmin should be made a Shudra, and a Shudra, who is learned, well-behaved and religious should be made a Brahmin. Both men and women should be taught Language, Grammar, Dharmashastras, Vedas, Science and Philosophy. Women should receive special education in Chemistry, Music and Medical Science; they should know what foods promote health, strength and vigour. He condemns child marriage as the root of the most of the evils. A girl should be educated and married at the age of twenty. If a widow wants to remarry, she should be allowed to do so. According to his opinion, there is no particular difference between the householder and the sannyasi.

It is not surprising that the Theosophists in New York took kindly to the Arya Samaj, at first through correspondence with Thackersey, then through the Bombay branch head, Hurrychund Chintamon, and lastly through Dayananda himself. The two societies were united for a time, though the Theosophists were disillusioned as soon as they discovered the strength of Dayananda's Vedic fundamentalism and his hostility to all other religions. On Dayananda's unexpected death, Blavatsky wrote a generous obituary in The Theosophist for December 1883. She appreciated him for defending what he saw as the best of his native heritage against the priestcraft of Brahmins and Christians alike, and for his leadership in an enlightened social policy of which she could only have approved.

As the Arya Samaj continued to flourish after Dayananda's death, it became a rallying point for that movement of Hindu nationalism that wanted neither to turn back the clock to Brahmanic theocracy, nor to embrace Western materialism along with the benefits of science and technology. What Rammohun Roy had set in motion, the Arya Samaj carried forward into the era of the Indian National Congress and the independence movement of the twentieth century. Dayananda himself died -- some said poisoned -- at the time when his mission was beginning to have real success among the North Indian rulers, but he had done enough to be celebrated as a father-figure by leaders of Indian independence such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and Aurobindo Ghose.

This in itself defines the limits of Dayananda's mission, which was, as it turned out, for India alone. Likewise, the mission of the Brahmo Samajists was a one-way street, bringing liberal Christian principles to India but making only the slightest inroads on the West through Emerson and his friends. The purpose of the foregoing survey has been to show how these Indian movements form another link between Enlightenment ideals and the Theosophical Society, which after its move to India took on the role of a mouthpiece for Eastern wisdom to address the West.

Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott were not converts to Hinduism. One cannot convert to a religion which is entered only by birth into one of its castes. Western followers of the liberal, bhaktic Hinduism of the Ramakrishna Mission may well regard themselves as converts (Christopher Isherwood being perhaps the most eminent of these), but they are Vedantists, not Hindus. What Blavatsky and Olcott were was Buddhist.

-- The Theosophical Enlightenment, by Joscelyn Godwin

The Theosophical Society of Aryavarta, also sometimes called Theosophical Society of India, and abbreviated as Theosophical Society was a Theosophical Society from May 22, 1878 until March 1882.

In 1875 Swami Dayanda [Dayananda] Saraswati founded in Mumbai the Hindu reform movement Arya Samaj. In the same year, the Theosophical Society was founded by Madame Blavatsky and Henry Olcott in New York.

Olcott met Moolji Thakurshi (Moolji Thackersey) [Seth Damodar Thackersey Mulji, a Bombay textile magnate] already in 1870, but they lost contact with each other.

In 1877 Olcott wrote to Thakurshi, and described the Theosophical Society and its goals to him. Thakurshi replied to Olcott, and told him about the Arya Samaj. He described its goals and gave Olcott the address of its president in Mumbai Hari Chand Chintamani (Hurrychund Chintamon). In the following exchange of letters, they illustrated the positions of their own societies, and noted the agreements between them. Chintamani then became a member of the Theosophical Society, and Olcott began a correspondence with Dayananda Saraswati.

It was suggested to unite the two societies, and the proposal was accepted at a meeting of the Theosophical Society on May 22, 1878 in New York. A branch of the Theosophical Society was founded in June 27, 1878 by Charles Carleton Massey in London. Its name was the British Theosophical Society of the Aryavart.

In December 1878, Blavatsky and Olcott travelled to Mumbai, where they arrived in February 1879. They met Hari Chand Chintamani, and founded the first theosophical lodge in India. They moved the headquarters of the society to Mumbai.

There were however tensions between the two societies, and on March 26, 1882 Dayananda spoke about the Humbuggery of the Theosophists, Olcott replied to Dayananda's charges in The Theosophist in July 1882 in an article titled Swami Dayanand's Charges.

-- Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj, by Wikipedia
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:33 am

Part 2 of 2

Thomas H. Burgoyne [Thomas Dalton]

Unlike the case of Peter Davidson, there are no descendants or local historians anxious to bear witness to the virtues and achievements of Thomas Henry Dalton (1855?-1895? [Date of birth deduced from prison records; death record searched for, without success, by Mr. Deveney.]), better known as T.H. Burgoyne, whose misdemeanors are amply chronicled in the Theosophical literature [B.6]. The “Church of Light,” a still active Californian group which descended from Burgoyne’s teachings, disposes of his life up to 1886 as follows:

T.H. Burgoyne was the son of a physician in Scotland. He roamed the moors during his boyhood and became conversant with the birds and flowers. He was an amateur naturalist. He also was a natural seer. Through his seership he contacted The Brotherhood of Light on the inner plane, and later contacted M. Theon in person. Still later he came to America, where he taught and wrote on occult subjects. [“The Founders of the Church of Light.”]

While this romanticized view cannot entirely be trusted, there is no doubt that Burgoyne was a medium and that he was developed as such by Max Theon. Burgoyne told Gorham Blake that he “visited [Theon’s] house as a student every day for a long time” [B.8.k], and gave this clue to their relationship in The Light of Egypt:

… those who are psychic, may not know WHEN the birth of an event will occur, but they Feel that it will, hence prophecy.

The primal foundation of all thought is right here, for instance, M. Theon may wish a certain result; if I am receptive, the idea may become incarnated in me, and under an extra spiritual stimulus it may grow and mature and become a material fact.

Burgoyne was making enquiries in occult circles by 1881, when he wrote to [The Rev W. A.] Ayton asking to visit him for a discussion of occultism. The clergyman was shocked when he met this “Dalton,” who (Ayton says) boasted of doing Black Magic [B.6.f], and forthwith sent him packing [B.6.k]. Later Ayton would be appalled to learn that it was this same young man with whom, as “Burgoyne,” he had been corresponding on H.B. of L. business. Having decided that the mysterious Grand Master “Theon” was really Hurrychund Chintamon, Ayton deduced that the young Scotsman must have learned his black magic from this Indian adventurer.


This lovely picture raises as many questions as it answers. Adam McLean tells me in a private e-mail (3-18-08) that the book Philalethes Illustratus is about alchemy. He adds:

The ouroboros is a well know symbol in alchemy, as is the interwoven triangles. These were often brought together in alchemical emblems. There was a particular focus on this image in the early 18th century, through its use as an illustration in the influential 'Golden Chain of Homer', written or edited by Anton Josef Kirchweger, first issued at Frankfurt and Leipzig in four German editions in 1723, 1728, 1738 and 1757. A Latin version was issued at Frankfurt in 1762, and further German editions followed. In the late eighteenth century Sigismund Bacstrom made a rather poor translation of the work into English. Blavatsky was very interested in this work and apparently wanted to write a commentary on it. Part of this was published in the Theosophical Society Journal 'Lucifer' in 1891. The Rev W. A. Ayton, the alchemical enthusiast, and contact of Blavatsky, used a variation of this image as a letterhead on his papers.


This is a copy of the letterhead of Rev W. A. Ayton which Adam McLean sent me. Ayton is mentioned in Blavatsky's diary in 1878 and 1879 (BCW I, p 410, 421 and II, p. 42). Note that where Blavatsky's seal has astrological connotations with for instance the sign of the Leo in the right-bottom corner, Ayton has an actual lion in exactly the same spot as well as a sun and moon. Adam McLean notes (3-18-08) that Ayton was a member of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor and his seal is similar to theirs.

It's clear at this point that the Theosophical Seal has a western esoteric background. Seen through the Eliphas Levi seal the cross was turned into an Egyptian cross, which makes sense as an Egyptian source for the early theosophical adepts was hinted at in their name: the Brotherhood of Luxor (whether a connection with the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor should be assumed is an open question of theosophical history).

The circle on top with the swastika inside is present in Blavatsky’s seal. I have not been able to find any precursors to that. In this respect Blavatsky’s seal was clearly the example for the Theosophical Seal.

-- Early history of the Theosophical Seal, by Katinka Hesselink 2006, 2008

Hurrychund Chintamon had played an important part in the early Theosophical Society and in the move of Blavatsky and Olcott from New York to India. He had been their chief Indian correspondent during 1877-1878, when he was President of the Bombay Arya Samaj (a Vedic revival movement with which the early Theosophical Society was allied). After Blavatsky and Olcott arrived in Bombay in 1879 and met Chintamon in person, they discovered that he was a scoundrel and an embezzler, and expelled him from the Society. Chintamon came to England in 1879 or 1880, and stayed until 1883, when he returned to make further trouble for the Theosophists in India. Perhaps the fact that Chintamon was in England when Burgoyne first met Theon led some to conclude that they were the same person. But this cannot be the whole story. Ayton claimed very clearly and repeatedly that he had proof of Burgoyne’s being in company with Chintamon. In a letter in the private collection, Ayton writes:

I have since discovered that Hurrychund Chintaman the notorious Black Magician was in company with Dalton at Bradford. By means of a Photograph I have traced him to Glasgow & even to Banchory, under the alias of Darushah Chichgur. Friends in London saw him there just before his return to India. This time coincides with that when I noticed a great change in the management. Chintaman had supplied the Oriental knowledge as he was a Sanskrit scholar & knew much. Theon was Chintaman! Friends have lately seen him in India where he is still at his tricks.

Before her disillusion[ment] with Chintamon, Blavatsky had touted him to the London Theosophists as a “great adept.” After the break that followed on her meeting with him in person, Chintamon allied himself to the rising Western opposition to esoteric Buddhism exemplified by Stainton Moses, C.C. Massey, William Oxley, Emma Hardinge Britten, Thomas Lake Harris, and others. From this formidable group, Burgoyne first contracted the hostility towards Blavatsky’s enterprise that would mark all his writings.

Chintamon also appears in connection with “H.B. Corinni,” the otherwise unidentifiable (and variously spelled) “Private Secretary” of Theon, who was thought by the police to be just another of Burgoyne’s aliases. Ayton, however, believed Corinni to be Chintamon’s son, who he said offered Blavatsky’s old letters for sale to the President of the London Branch of the Theosophical Society, Charles Carleton Massey. [Ayton to unnamed American neophyte, 11 June 1886, based on what he had been told by Massey.] The flaw in Ayton’s thesis is of course the existence of a real and independent Max Theon, of whom we, unlike Ayton, have documentary evidence. Nonetheless, after more than a hundred years, the whole tangle of misidentifications involving Chintamon, “Christamon,” and “Metamon” [see B.9.c-3] with the Order cannot be entirely resolved.

By October 1882, Burgoyne was in Leeds, working in the menial trade of a grocer. [This is the trade ascribed to him in the court records. The records of the Leeds Constabulary call him “medium and astrologer.”] Here he tried to bring off an advertising fraud [B.6.d] so timid as to cast serious doubt on his abilities as a black magician! As a consequence, he spent the first seven months of 1883 in jail. He had probably met Theon before his incarceration, and, as we have seen, worked for a time in daily sessions as Theon’s medium. On his release he struck up or resumed relations with Peter Davidson, and became the Private Secretary to the Council of the H.B. of L. when it went public the following year.

Burgoyne contributed many letters and articles to The Occult Magazine, usually writing under the pseudonym “Zanoni.” He also contributed to Thomas Johnson’s Platonist [see B.7.c], showing considerably more literacy than in the letter that so amused the Theosophists [B.7.b]. But he never claimed to be an original writer. In the introduction to the “Mysteries of Eros” [A.3.b] he states his role as that of amanuensis and compiler. The former term reveals what the H.B. of L. regarded as the true source of its teachings – the initiates of the Interior Circle of the Order. The goal of the magical practice taught by the H.B. of L. was the development of the potentialities of the individual so that he or she could communicate directly with the Interior Circle and with the other entities, disembodied and never embodied, that the H.B. of L. believed to populate the universes. If Gorham Blake is to be credited [B.6.k], Davidson and Burgoyne “confessed” to him that Burgoyne was an “inspirational medium” and that the teachings of the Order came through his mediumship. Stripped of the bias inherent in the terms “medium,” and “confess,” there is no reason to doubt the statement of Burgoyne’s role. In the Order’s own terminology, however, his connection with the spiritual hierarchies of the universe was through “Blending” – the taking over of the conscious subject’s mind by the Initiates of the Interior Circle and the Potencies, Powers, and Intelligences of the celestial hierarchies – and through the “Sacred Sleep of Sialam” (see Section 15, below).

Shortly after arriving in Georgia, for all the Theosophists’ efforts to intercept him [B.6.1], Burgoyne parted with Davidson. From then on, the two communicated mainly through their mutual disciples, squabbling over fees for reading the neophytes’ horoscopes and over Burgoyne’s distribution of the Order’s manuscripts, with each man essentially running a separate organization. This split may be reflected in the French version of “Laws of Magic Mirrors” [A.3.a], which was prepared in 1888 and which bears the reference “Peter Davidson, Provincial Grand Mater of the Eastern Section.”

Burgoyne made his way from Georgia first to Kansas, then to Denver, and finally to Monterey, California, staying with H.B. of L. members as he went. According to the Church of Light, Burgoyne now met Normal Astley, a professional surveyor and retired Captain in the British Army. After 1887 Astley and a small group of students engaged Burgoyne to write the basic H.B. of L. teachings as a series of lessons, giving him hospitality and a small stipend. Astley is actually said to have visited England to meet Theon – something which is hardly credible in the light of what is known of Theon’s methods. We do know, however, that Burgoyne advertised widely and took subscriptions for the lessons, and that they were published in book form in 1889 as The Light of Egypt; or The Science of the Soul and the Stars, attributed to Burgoyne’s H.B. of L. sobriquet “Zanoni.”

With The Light of Egypt, the secrecy of the H.B. of L.’s documents was largely broken, and they were revealed – to those who could tell – to be fairly unoriginal compilations from earlier occultists, presented with a strongly anti-Theosophical tone. Only the practical teachings were omitted. The book was translated into French by Rene Philipon, a friend of Rene Guenon’s, and into Russian and Spanish, and a paraphrase of it was published in German. We present [B.8] the most important reactions to this work, which has been reprinted frequently up to the present day.

After the political upheavals in Tibet in the 1950s, Pallis became active in the affairs of the Tibetan [Tibet] Society, the first Western support group created for the Tibetan people. Pallis also was able to house members of the Tibetan diaspora in his London flat. Pallis also formed a relationship with the young Chögyam Trungpa, who had just arrived in England. Trungpa asked Pallis to write the foreword to Trungpa’s first, autobiographical book, Born in Tibet. In his acknowledgment, Trungpa offers Pallis his “grateful thanks” for the “great help” that Pallis provided in bringing the book to completion. He goes on to say that “Mr. Pallis when consenting to write the foreword, devoted many weeks to the work of finally putting the book in order”.

Pallis studied music under Arnold Dolmetsch, the distinguished reviver of early English music, composer, and performer, and was considered “one of Dolmetsch's most devoted protégés”. Pallis soon discovered a love of early music—in particular chamber music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—and for the viola da gamba. Even while climbing in the region of the Satlej-Ganges watershed, he and his musically-minded friends did not fail to bring their instruments.

Viola da gamba

Pallis taught viol at the Royal Academy of Music, and reconstituted The English Consort of Viols, an ensemble he had first formed in the 1930s. It was one of the first professional performing groups dedicated to the preservation of early English music. They released three records and made several concert tours in England and two tours to the United States.

According to the New York Times review, their Town Hall concert of April 1962 “was a solid musical delight”, the players having possessed “a rhythmic fluidity that endowed the music with elegance and dignity”. Pallis also published several compositions, primarily for the viol, and wrote on the viol’s history and its place in early English music.

The Royal Academy of Music, in recognition of a lifetime of contribution to the field of early music, awarded Pallis an Honorary Fellowship. At age eighty-nine his Nocturne de l’Ephemere was performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London; his niece writes that “he was able to go on stage to accept the applause which he did with his customary modesty.” When he died he left unfinished an opera based on the life of Milarepa...


Pallis described "tradition" as being the leitmotif of his writing. He wrote from the perspective of what has come to be called the traditionalist or perennialist school of comparative religion founded by René Guénon, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, and Frithjof Schuon, each of whom he knew personally.

Frithjof Schuon (/ˈʃuːɒn/; German: [ˈfʀiːtˌjoːf ˈʃuː.ɔn]) (18 June, 1907 – 5 May, 1998), also known as ʿĪsā Nūr ad-Dīn ʾAḥmad (عيسیٰ نور الـدّين أحمد),[1] was an author of German ancestry born in Basel, Switzerland. He was a spiritual master, philosopher, and metaphysician inspired by the Hindu philosophy of Advaita Vedanta and Sufism and the author of numerous books on religion and spirituality. He was also a poet and a painter...

Schuon's father was a concert violinist and the household was one in which not only music but literary and spiritual culture were present.


-- Frithjof Schuon, by Wikipedia

As a traditionalist, Pallis assumed the "transcendent unity of religions" (the title of Schuon's landmark 1948 book) and it was in part this understanding that gave Pallis insight into the innermost nature of the spiritual tradition of Tibet, his chosen love. He was a frequent contributor to the journal Studies in Comparative Religion (along with Schuon, Guénon, and Coomaraswamy), writings on both the topics of Tibetan culture and religious practice as well as the Perennialist philosophy.

-- Marco Pallis, by Wikipedia

Burgoyne’s last years were spent in unwonted comfort if, as the Church of Light says, Dr. Henry and Belle M. Wagner – who had been members of the H.B. of L. since 1885 – gave $100,000 to found an organization for the propagation of the Light of Egypt teachings. Out of this grew the Astro-Philosophical Publishing Company of Denver, and the Church of Light itself, reformed in 1932 by Elbert Benjamine (=C.C. Zain, 1882-1951). Beside Burgoyne’s other books The Language of the Stars and Celestial Dynamics, the new company issued in 1900 a second volume of The Light of Egypt. This differs markedly from the first volume, for it is ascribed to Burgoyne’s spirit, speaking through a medium who was his “spiritual successor,” Mrs. Wagner. As the spirit said, with characteristically poor grammar: “Dictated by the author from the subjective plane of life (to which he ascended several years ago) through the law of mental transfer, well known to all Occultists, he is enabled again to speak with those who are still upon the objective plane of life.”

Max Theon wrote to the Wagners in 1909 (the year after his wife’s death), telling them to close their branch of the H.B. of L. [Information given to Mr. Deveney by Henry O. Wagner.] By that time, the Order had virtually ceased to exist as such, while the Wagners continued on their own, channeling doctrinal and fictional works. Their son, Henry O. Wagner, told Mr. Deveney that he, in turn, received books from his parents by the “blending” process, to be described below. In 1963 he issued an enlarged edition of The Light of Egypt, which included several further items from his parents’ records. Some of these are known to have circulated separately to neophytes during the heyday of the H.B. of L. (see Section 10, below), while others were circulated by Burgoyne individually on a subscription basis to his own private students (all of whom were in theory members of the H.B. of L.) from 1887 until his death. These include a large body of astrological materials and also treatises on “Pentralia,” “Soul Knowledge (Atma Bodha)” and other topics. They are perfectly consistent with the H.B. of L. teachings, but appear to have been Burgoyne’s individual production, done after his separation from Peter Davidson, and they are not reproduced here.

-- The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor: Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism, by Joscelyn Godwin

Davidson, Peter (1842-1929)
Accessed: 3/2/21

Peter Davidson, cofounder of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light (HBL), a nineteenth-century British occult order, was born and raised in Forres, Scotland. In 1866 he married Christina Ross. He became a violin maker and in 1871 published a book, The Violin, that surveyed the historical and technical aspects of the instrument.


At the same time, he was a student of the occult and corresponded with various occult notables throughout Britain, including Hargrave Jennings. He may have become an initiate of Pascal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875), whose teachings he would later integrate into those of the brotherhood. Much of this occult interest seems to have been stimulated by occasional visions of angelic beings. He may also have been contacted by an Oriental adept, similar to one of the mahatmas with whom Helena Petrovna Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society (TS) had claimed contact. He would later suggest that the HBL and the TS had been founded by the same order of beings. In 1878, he published The Philosophy of Man, which manifested his interest in both the occult and alternative medicine, and invited contact by readers who shared his ideas.

At some point in the early 1880s, Davidson became acquainted with Thomas Burgoyne, an occult student who had learned to contact clairvoyantly the beings who made up an inner order of adepts whom he would begin to refer to as the Interior Circle. He had learned this ability from one Max Theon, a Polish occult teacher living in London. In 1884, Davidson, Burgoyne, and Theon founded the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light and in February 1885 began issuing The Occult Magazine as a periodical through which the public could learn of its existence.

By this time, Davidson began to harbor a dream of creating a utopian colony in the United States and began to speak of it in The Occult Magazine. His plans to move to America were accelerated in the spring of 1886 when Theosophists discovered that Burgoyne was in fact a man named Thomas Dalton who had been convicted of mail fraud in Leeds in 1883. Davidson and Burgoyne left for America as the scandal grew. Davidson and his family settled on a farm near Loudsville, Georgia. Although the brotherhood was largely destroyed in England, it had a growing membership in France and the United States. Burgoyne soon moved to the West Coast, where he established what was in effect a separate HBL that would eventually give birth to the presently existing Church of Light.

In Georgia, Davidson established himself as a herbalist and practitioner of alternative medicine. He authored several books, including Masonic Mysteries Unveiled and The Book of Light and Life. From 1892 to 1910 he edited The Morning Star, a periodical similar to The Occult Magazine he had published in the 1880s. He also came into contact with the Martinists, who had emerged in France under the leadership of Papus (Gérald Encausse). The Martinists had become the dominant occult group in France and had attracted the interest of Albert Farcheux (also known as F.Ch. Barlet), the HBL leader in Paris.

Through the 1890s, Davidson contended with several problems. He was arrested for practicing medicine without a license, though he was acquitted. He had problems with Edouard Blitz, the Martinist leader in America who attempted to destroy Davidson's relationship with Papus. At the beginning of the new century, he reestablished contact with Max Theon, then living in Algiers, and offered the pages of The Morning Star as an outlet in English for his Cosmic Philosophy, a doctrine he had developed from the channeled teaching coming through his wife.

Davidson died in 1929. His family had become established in White County and his son was the editor of the newspaper in Cleveland, Georgia. His descendants can still be found in the county.


Davidson, Peter. The Mistletoe and Its Philosophy. Loudsville, Ga: The Author, 1892.
——. The Violin. Glagow: Porteous Bros., 1871.
Godwin, Joscelyn. The Theosophical Enlightenment. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.
——, Christian Chanel, and John P. Deveney. The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor: Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1995.

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:33 am

Davidson, Peter (1842-1929)
Accessed: 3/2/21

Peter Davidson, cofounder of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light (HBL), a nineteenth-century British occult order, was born and raised in Forres, Scotland. In 1866 he married Christina Ross. He became a violin maker and in 1871 published a book, The Violin, that surveyed the historical and technical aspects of the instrument.


At the same time, he was a student of the occult and corresponded with various occult notables throughout Britain, including Hargrave Jennings. He may have become an initiate of Pascal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875), whose teachings he would later integrate into those of the brotherhood. Much of this occult interest seems to have been stimulated by occasional visions of angelic beings. He may also have been contacted by an Oriental adept, similar to one of the mahatmas with whom Helena Petrovna Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society (TS) had claimed contact. He would later suggest that the HBL and the TS had been founded by the same order of beings. In 1878, he published The Philosophy of Man, which manifested his interest in both the occult and alternative medicine, and invited contact by readers who shared his ideas.

At some point in the early 1880s, Davidson became acquainted with Thomas Burgoyne, an occult student who had learned to contact clairvoyantly the beings who made up an inner order of adepts whom he would begin to refer to as the Interior Circle. He had learned this ability from one Max Theon, a Polish occult teacher living in London. In 1884, Davidson, Burgoyne, and Theon founded the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light and in February 1885 began issuing The Occult Magazine as a periodical through which the public could learn of its existence.

By this time, Davidson began to harbor a dream of creating a utopian colony in the United States and began to speak of it in The Occult Magazine. His plans to move to America were accelerated in the spring of 1886 when Theosophists discovered that Burgoyne was in fact a man named Thomas Dalton who had been convicted of mail fraud in Leeds in 1883. Davidson and Burgoyne left for America as the scandal grew. Davidson and his family settled on a farm near Loudsville, Georgia. Although the brotherhood was largely destroyed in England, it had a growing membership in France and the United States. Burgoyne soon moved to the West Coast, where he established what was in effect a separate HBL that would eventually give birth to the presently existing Church of Light.

In Georgia, Davidson established himself as a herbalist and practitioner of alternative medicine. He authored several books, including Masonic Mysteries Unveiled and The Book of Light and Life. From 1892 to 1910 he edited The Morning Star, a periodical similar to The Occult Magazine he had published in the 1880s. He also came into contact with the Martinists, who had emerged in France under the leadership of Papus (Gérald Encausse). The Martinists had become the dominant occult group in France and had attracted the interest of Albert Farcheux (also known as F.Ch. Barlet), the HBL leader in Paris.

Through the 1890s, Davidson contended with several problems. He was arrested for practicing medicine without a license, though he was acquitted. He had problems with Edouard Blitz, the Martinist leader in America who attempted to destroy Davidson's relationship with Papus. At the beginning of the new century, he reestablished contact with Max Theon, then living in Algiers, and offered the pages of The Morning Star as an outlet in English for his Cosmic Philosophy, a doctrine he had developed from the channeled teaching coming through his wife.

Davidson died in 1929. His family had become established in White County and his son was the editor of the newspaper in Cleveland, Georgia. His descendants can still be found in the county.


Davidson, Peter. The Mistletoe and Its Philosophy. Loudsville, Ga: The Author, 1892.
——. The Violin. Glagow: Porteous Bros., 1871.
Godwin, Joscelyn. The Theosophical Enlightenment. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.
——, Christian Chanel, and John P. Deveney. The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor: Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1995.

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