Preface to the commentaries on nine principal upanisad.

The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Vedas were composed over a time period ranging from 1200 to 400 B.C.E. The Upanishads were written over a time period ranging from 700 to 400 B.C.E.

While vedas focused on ritualistic details, uses and traditions, upanisads focused on spiritual enlightenment. Vedas means knowledge in Sanskrit. It is known as Apouruseya meaning not of man. Upanisad is derived from the words upa [near] and shad [to sit]. It is derived from the concept of sitting near the teacher.

The tradition of yoga originates from a long line of complex yet potent written teachings. While the Vedas are considered to be the most sacred and treasured spiritual texts of India, it is the Upanishads that transferred the foundational wisdom of the Vedas into practical and personal teachings. The stories and lessons in the Upanishads may seem to be distant and vague, yet they are essential for a dedicated yogi to study and understand the teachings of the veda and sastras. There are four primary teachings that create the framework and foundation of the yogic philosophy.

There are four different vedas – Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajur veda and Atharvaveda. The Upanishads are late arrival of the Vedic Sanskrit texts of religious teachings and ideas still revered in Hinduism. 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.

The Upanishads are an assortment of texts central to Hinduism that are recorded from oral traditions. They contain information regarding the philosophical principles and concepts of Hinduism, including karma (right action), brahman (ultimate reality), the atman (true Self or soul), moksha (liberation from the cycle of reincarnation) and Vedic doctrines that explain Self-realization through yoga and meditation practices.

Upanishad is a Sanskrit word that translates in English to mean “sitting at the feet of” or “sitting down near." This illustrates the position of receiving wisdom and guidance humbly from a teacher or guru. The word Upanishad is usually interpreted as “sitting down beside.”

This Sanskrit word can be broken down into three parts and translated as “upa” meaning near, “ni” as down and “shad” as to sit. Thus, the meaning of the word confers the intent of these texts to directly transfer knowledge and truth from the teacher to the student who is dedicated to study Brahma vidya or Atma vidya. The collection of Sanskrit texts known as the Upanishads are thought to be the direct teachings from Lord Isvara received at the foot of the ancient Indian sages or Rishis.

According to the tradition, there were over two hundred Upanishads, but there are only eleven “principal” Upanishads, as commented on by the ancient sage Shankara. The texts are written in a passionate poetic verse describing mystical states and spiritual concepts or in descriptive short stories and dialogues between the historical figures.

In the above sacred texts, we see an internalization of the sacrifice and worship extolled in the Vedas and a deeper understanding and exploration of the internal world of mind and spirit. Composed over several centuries and in many volumes, the Upanishads reflect a strong need to express and communicate the deep mystical states and spiritual contemplations that the ancient yogis experienced.

There are more than 200 Upanishads that have been recorded from oral traditions and passed down over the centuries. More than 200 Upanishads have been discovered. Each Upanishad is associated with a particular Veda. Each of these Upanishads is associated with a Veda, and caters a school of thought. Some of the Upanisads talk about Karma Marg, some talk about Jnana, some about Bhakti etc.

Of the 200 upanisads, ten are called mukhya upanisad or the principal upanisads because Adi Sankara chose to write commentary on them. these main upanisad are as follows. Isha Upanishad (YajurVeda) Kena Upanishad (SamaVeda). Katha Upanishad (YajurVeda); Prashna Upanishad (AthervaVeda); Mundaka Upanishad (AthervaVeda); Mandukya Upanishad (AthervaVeda); Taittiriya Upanishad (YajurVeda); Aitereya Upanishad (RigVeda); Chandogya Upanishad (SamaVeda); Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (YajurVeda)

The teachings of the Upanishads revolve around four primary spiritual themes of Artha, kama, dharma and moksa. These four philosophical concepts are described in many different ways as they can be difficult to grasp. These main teachings are repeatedly reinforced in the texts of the eleven principal Upanishads.

The upanisadic rishis have dealt with the supreme theme of the God head from their own particular and individual standpoint, circumscribed as they were, by the measure of culture which they had acquired and the time and traditions, geographical conditions and social surroundings in which they lived, they nevertheless, exhibit a remarkable agreement among themselves in regard to the intuition of the Unbounded, the Great first cause, the Infinite, ‘The higher than man’, His relations with humanity and His activities in the world of time and space, His mysterious dealings with us, His transcendental and immanent attributes as manifested in the experiences of the immortal, free willed human soul, the marvellous creation around us and the religious and national dispensations wrought through the loves of Mahatmas.

On the positive side, the upanisads apportioned, personified and glorified as gods or goddesses in the rig veda, from the wayside seed laden with future provision from a folded germ to the clustered systems springing in noiseless motion and perfect poise through the ethereal spheres spaces, testifies to the One, Undivided, Invisible, Supreme Brahman.

Arranging the mind that has marshalled the atomic courses according to well ordered plan and that, in otherwards, the sole cause, source, substance of the universe is one Supreme God, the Eternal, Unsearchable and immutable Author, Regulator and Preserver, our Maker and Master, Mentor and Guide. Parent and Saviour, surpassing our powers of comprehension, above external sense and whose worship in spirit and in truth, is the chief duty of mankind as the soul means of union with Him and attainment of eternal Bliss and Beatitude.

The first and most important is the realization that the ultimate, formless, and inconceivable Brahman (Godhead) is the same as Atman, as our internal soul. Brahman represents the entire universe, and the Atman is a little piece of that divine oneness that we contain inside us. This philosophical idea is summed up in the mantra Tat Tvam Asi (That Art Thou). The idea that the Atman is eternal, and becomes reborn over and over again is central to the concept of reincarnation that is taught in the Upanishads.

The upanisads, in short, are the products of a free and enlightened age, and hence retain a freshness and originally after the lapse of so many centuries after their composition. It is this fact, again which makes them philosophical as well as religious treatises and which makes them the starting point of a philosophy which is as living now as it was in the time of the ancient sages.