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What are Upanishad

Hindu Scriptures can be broadly classified into two categories Shruti and Smriti. Shruti is “that which has been occurred to Rishis in deep meditative state” and is considered eternal. It refers mainly to the Vedas themselves. Smriti is “that which has been remembered and supplementary to the Shrutis”. Smriti may change over time.

The Upanishad are the highest knowledge text of Hinduism. The Upanishads constitute the end part of the four Vedas, namely the Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda. Hence, they are also known as Vedanta, meaning the end of the Vedas (Veda + Anta). Upanishad contains the highest knowledge of Hinduism and Science. The term “Upanishad' literally means”, "sitting down near" or "sitting close to“ or knowledge that destroys ignorance.


The Upanishads are the Shruti Prasthana, the revealed texts (Shruti  - that which is occurred). There are over 200 Upanishads. One of the Upanishad called Muktika Upanishad contains a list of 108 canonical Upanishad.


Upanishads contain the fundamental teachings that are central to Hinduism — the concepts of “Karma” (Action), “Samsara” (Reincarnation), “Moksha” (Nirvana), the “Atman” (Soul), and the “Brahman” (Absolute Almighty or Consciousness). They also set forth the prime Vedic doctrines of Self-Realization, Yoga, and Meditation.

How Many Upanishad are there?

As per the Muktika Upanishad, there are 108 Upanishad considered as the primary Upanishads. However, there are more than 108 Upanishads. Over 200 have been counted by the scholars.

Muktika Upanishad  Slokas 26-29 explain which Upanishads should be learnt from.

इयं कैवल्यमुक्तिस्तु केनोपायेन सिद्ध्यति । माण्डूक्यमेकमेवालं मुमुक्षूणां विमुक्तये ॥ २६॥  (26)

तथाप्यसिद्धं चेज्ज्ञानं दशोपनिषदं पठ । ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा चिरादेव मामकं धाम यास्यसि ॥ २७॥ (27)

तथापि दृढता न चेद्विद्ज्ञानस्याञ्जनासुत । द्वात्रिंशाख्योपनिषदं समभ्यस्य निवर्तय ॥ २८॥ (28)

विदेहमुक्ताविच्छा चेदष्टोत्तरशतं पठ । तासां क्रम सशान्तिं च श्रुणु वक्ष्यामि तत्त्वतः ॥ २९॥ (29)

Muktika Upanishad Sloka Reference:

26.By what means is the Kaivalya (Ultimate realization) kind of Moksha (Liberation) got? The Mandukya Upanishad alone is enough.

27.If knowledge is not got from it, then study the 10 Upanishads. Getting knowledge very soon, you will reach my abode.

28.If certainty is not got even then, study the 32 Upanishads.

29.If desiring Moksha without the body, read the 108 Upanishads. Muktika Upanishad gives the list of 108 Upanishads.

10 Main Upanishad

1.Isa (from Yajurveda)

2.Kena (from Samaveda)

3.Katha (from Yajurveda)

4.Prasna (from Atharvaveda)

5.Mundaka (from Atharvaveda)

6.Mandukya (from Atharvaveda)

7.Taittiriya (from Yajurveda)

8.Aitareya, (from Rigveda)

9.Chandogya (from Samaveda)

10.Brhadaranyaka (from, Yajurveda)

Classification based on Vedas

Each Veda contains the following number of Upanishad. 

1.Rigveda          (10)

2.SamaVeda     (16)

3.Yajurveda      (50)

4.Atharvaveda (32)

List of 108 Upanishad by each Veda

List of Upanisahd.png

eYogi’s recommendation

Upanishads are the highest knowledge of Hinduism. If you want to pick one Upanishad then learn :

  • Mandukya Upanishad

  • All Hindus should read and understand following  10 Upanishads:

  • Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka




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