Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Kabir
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/20/21



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


Image
Kabir
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]

Poetry

Image
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]

Authenticity

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]

Philosophy

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]

Legacy

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.

Criticism

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

References

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". Kabirchaura.com. 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". Sahapedia.org.
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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Upanishads
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Upanishads
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]

Etymology

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]

Development

Authorship


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]

Chronology

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

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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]

Classification

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]

Image
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]

Image

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


Philosophy

Main article: Vedanta

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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

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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]

Vishishtadvaita

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]

Dvaita

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]

Translations

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

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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

Notes

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]

References

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.
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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
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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
42. Jan Westerhoff (2009), Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195384963, page 290
43. Warren Lee Todd (2013), The Ethics of Śaṅkara and Śāntideva: A Selfless Response to an Illusory World, ISBN 978-1409466819, page 128
44. Hartmut Scharfe (2002), Handbook of Oriental Studies, BRILL Academic, ISBN 978-9004125568, pages 13-14
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".
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161. Panikkar 2001, pp. 725–727.
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• Müller, Friedrich Max (1900), The Upanishads Sacred books of the East The Upanishads, Friedrich Max Müller, Oxford University Press
• 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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Krista Purana
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/24/21

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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.

Editions

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.

Manuscripts

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

Bibliography

• 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

References

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)

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Part 1 of 2

Puranas
by Wikipedia
Accessed 2/24/21

[x]
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]

Etymology

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]

Origin

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]

Texts

Mahapuranas


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]

Upapurana

[x]
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]

Content

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

[x]
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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Jainism

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]

Manuscripts

[x]
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]


Chronology

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]
Forgeries


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]

Translations

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.

Influence

[x]
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]

Festivals

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]

Notes

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]

References

Citations


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
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80. Flood 1996, pp. 109–112
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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
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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.
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Cited sources

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External links

• GRETIL (uni-goettingen.de)
Translations[edit]
• 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
Narsingh Purana
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