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Upanisads

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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  7,442 ratings  ·  169 reviews
In the first major English translation of the ancient Upanisads for over half a century, Olivelle's work incorporates the most recent historical and philological scholarship on these central scriptures of Hinduism. Composed at a time of great social, economic, and religious change, the Upanisads document the transition from the archaic ritualism of the Veda into new religi ...more
Paperback, 446 pages
Published November 19th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published -500)
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J.D. I like the translation: "The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal," translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester. This translation is…moreI like the translation: "The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal," translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester. This translation is approachable, is entirely in English, it flows well, and doesn't include many (if any) words that need to be looked up. It also excludes pieces of the texts that are irrelevant, violent, perverse, etc. I found this out by reading a review of another translation, wherein the text had advocated for beating and assaulting a woman, viciously. I looked up that other translation and saw that it did indeed say such things. There was also a lot of strange sexual preoccupations with virility and the like that seemed completely pointless, considering the whole idea of the universal Self, Brahman. When you identify properly with a universal Self, such things really have no place so the text seemed so off in that respect. Anyway, I'm halfway through the translation I mentioned and I haven't seen any of that stuff in this translation. There are a few Upanishads I don't relate to, but nothing so incredibly offensive or disturbing. I think that a casual reader looking for some spiritual or intellectual stimulation would benefit much more from this translation than others. I hope this helps! :)

P.S. - "The Upanishads" usually refers to a main group of Upanishads, while there are actually many more than presented in that main group. Keep that in mind. (less)
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Girish Kohli
'Upanishad' means 'sit down near me'. That is its true meaning. Isnt it so simple?
Doesnt the meaning of Upanishad remind you of your grandfather or grandmother telling you a story.
That is exactly what the Upanishad is.

The Upanishad is one of the oldest Hindu scriptures (after the vedas) but that doesnt mean only Hindus can read it. The beauty of the Upanishads is that it never talks about Hinduism.

It is a work that explores the metaphysical truths of Human existence. If you read carefully,
you w
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Lotz
I find it interesting how pervasive the mystic idea of unity is. From transcendentalists to scientists to Buddhists to Christians to Hindus, I hear this same thing emphasized repeatedly—everything is one. Physicists wax poetic about how our bodies are made of star-dust. Biologists and naturalists wonder at the unity of life on earth. Christians celebrate the infinite simplicity of God. Spinoza's philosophy proclaims the oneness of all reality. Walt Whitman had this to say:
And I know that the han
...more
Adrian Anderson
This book first exposed me to the deep, Deep, DEEP wellspring of spirituality that is to be found in the Indian tradition. The concept of Atman and Brahman and the interchangeability was so in keeping with my person beliefs that the first reading left me shaken.

I am from the Bible belt where our preachers call Indians (and others) idolaters, polytheists, blasphemers and fuel for hellfire. But on reading the Upanishads one realizes that they are closer to monotheism than is Christianity with it's
...more
Trenton Judson
There is a magic to this text that comes alive inside those warm places in the bottom of your stomach as you read it. The connectivity and the power of the self that this book teaches are invaluable to any person of any ethical, moral, or theological background. I first had a strong desire to read this book after reading Somerset Maugham's "The Razor's Edge" and found myself going back and back to the quote on the first page from The Upanishad's that reads: "The sharp edge of a razor is difficul ...more
Megan Salyer


Right up there w the Bible and Quran, but if I had to choose I'd say Hindu text I've read thus far is my favorite. There's so much love and drama in the text it always leaves me wanting more and I feel more accurately describes reasons our world is so unpredictably crazy
Dennis Littrell
Easwaran, Eknath. The Upanishads (1987) *****
Important volume on one of humanity's greatest religious works

In the Upanishads there are two selves. They are symbolized by two birds sitting on a tree branch. The one bird, the self with a small "s" eats. The other bird, the Self with a capital "S" observes. The first self is the self that is part of this world. The second Self is merely an observer that doesn't take part and is in fact beyond the pairs of opposites such as pleasure and pain that do
...more
Richard
I thought this would be another primary source to understand the history of Hindu thought, and while it did that, it was so much more. It was a fundamental tool in changing the way I look at God, the world, and my place in it. One of the most important reads I've ever had.
K.D. Rose
One of the most beautiful books of religious text that reads like poetry. The only book I rate comparable from ancient religious texts anyway, is The Song of Songs.
Oakshaman
The essence of the twelve principle Upanishads

_If you have ever been intimidated by the multi-volume scholarly translations of the Upanishads, then this book is for you. I still marvel at how Prabhavananda and Manchester managed to encapsulate so much of the core content and meaning of the twelve principle Upanishads in such a slim volume. Yet they did- and it works. This translation was originally produced in 1948 for the Vedanta Society of Southern California but it still holds up as one of
...more
Alex
There is some truth in the Upanishads, a word in Sanskrit which means, "a sitting, an instruction, the sitting at the feet of a master," but there is so much which is fluff and simply not true.

Truths:
"the wise man chooses the path of joy; the fool takes the path of pleasure." p. 58
"What lies beyond life shines not to those who are childish, or careless, or deluded by wealth." p. 58
"the foolish run after outward pleasures and fall into the snares." p. 62
"There is the path of wisdom and the path
...more
Ben
At an earlier point in my studies of Eastern religion and philosophy, I would easily have awarded this work 5 stars and would likely have placed it on my "favorites" shelf. When I first began my journey into Eastern religion with the Bhagavad Gita many years ago I was mesmerized by the ideas and was drawn in by the oneness with the universe that such works promoted. Since then and before reading The Upanishads, my understanding of Eastern religions and ideas has been influenced by the likes of ( ...more
Kevin
"Om. Poornamatha Poornamitham Poornatpoornamudachyathe
Poornasya Poornamathaya Poornamevavasishyathe
Om Shaanthi! Shaanthi! Shaanthihi!"
-(The peace chant from Brahadaranyaka)

Translated by Sankaracharya as:-
"Om. That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (Universe) is infinite. The infinite proceeds from the infinite.
(Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe), it remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone."

The author's translation:-
"All this is full, all that is full.
From fullness, fullness com
...more
Philip
Just discovering these early Hindu texts. Compared to the thinking of many today's mainsteram religions, the concepts put forth here are progressive, if not outright radical.

An expansive god-view/understanding is presented that is accessible. Also, a nice introduction to was what once simply my ignorance and chaotic undertanding of the complexity of Hinduism.

As far as the translation goes, since this is my first reading so nothing to compare it to...but it's certainly understandable and as acces
...more
Sue
I'm such a nerd. I read this during the Packer game.
David Withun
The Upanishads are some of the most fascinating writings in world literature. They are a record of several hundred years of experience and wisdom in one of the world's great mystical traditions. As such, they act as a powerful witness to the universality of the desire for eternity and transcendence, for the innate humanity of the longing for God.

This translation is an interesting one and may be useful for someone who is new to the Upanishads. Nearly all of the technical language is trimmed out a
...more
Erin
I highly recommend this translation of the Upanishads. The translator was both a Master of English as well as Hindu himself and a religious scholar. When reading, keep in mind that every world was chosen with you in mind to convey as much as possible of the original meaning. To me, this book is full of wisdom that anybody can appreciate. It's the furthest thing from outdated or antiquated, and hints at a kind of spiritual existence and life that is 'just beyond the curtains', so to speak, and th ...more
Elizabeth
A wonderful translation of what may be one of India's greatest philophical treasures. The language in Easwaran's translation is simple, clear and understandable. It manages to convey perfectly the poetic beauty of the Upanishadic texts, without adding any unnecessary confusion to some of the intense philosophical points. As this is the first edition of the Upanishads I have read, I have no other copy to recommend or to compare it by. However, Easwaran's edition also comes with a very useful glos ...more
Philip Cartwright
A fascinating, sometimes haunting, sometimes baffling read. Of course, these sacred scriptures don't give a full picture of Hinduism by themselves - for that I'd need greater familiarity with the numerous ceremonies, chants, rituals and stories that go with them. Nevertheless, the Upanishads provide a mesmerising window onto what is (for me) a very foreign world.

I hesitate to attempt much analysis of such a venerable text - especially after just a first read-through. But I will offer this: on on
...more
Jeff
Book #3 in 2012's survey of holy shit (#2 was Confucius's Analects etc.).

Overall this collection of disparate mystical writings by long-dead Hindus is the early frontrunner for my Most Philosophically Stimulating Sacred Text award. I almost wrote Theosophically, but their ideas exercised my love of wisdom more than they conveyed to me any wisdom about god. (Screw you, too, Blavatsky! i know you're listening.)

I disagreed with most of the metaphysical claims. I quibbled frequently. I pooh-poohed a
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Roxanne
The Upanishads, translated by Eknath EaswaranThe Upanishads are a group of ancient wisdom texts. Each individual upanishad is named for the sage who delivered its teaching, long ago; each one describes in flashes of insight how to explore your own consciousness, how to come closer to the Divine. Some of the upanishads take the form of a story: a student (or a wife, or even a king) implores a great sage (or even Death itself) to share holy secrets. Most of the upanishads rely on classic natural i ...more
Mohamed
That which speech does not illumine, but which illumines speech: know that alone to be the Brahman (the Supreme Being), not this which people worship here.

That which cannot be thought by mind, but by which, they say, mind is able to think: know that alone to be the Brahman, not this which people worship here.

That which is not seen by the eye, but by which the eye is able to see: know that alone to be the Brahman, not this which people worship here.
Kevin
Mar 07, 2009 Kevin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I actually read the Project Gutenberg release of this classic Indian text on Hinduism. It's a short 17,000 word translation by a Hindu mystic that visited Boston in 1909. Even though the translation is 90 years old it brought the message of the text to life for me, and the insightful commentary by the translator helped to get the message across of the book.
Julie Kelly
The Upanishads is an amazing book about spirituality in India. It takes you on a jorney of the self and allows you to realize and understand that the mind is what dominates the life for example what you desire is what you basically get. The Unipanishads as a book is sometimes hard to grasp but well worth persevereing with just as its sister book the Bhagavadgita
Daniel Prasetyo
This is the best translation of The Upanishads that I found, the author, like other great teachers, is experiencing the wisdom so deeply that he can translate the sacred text with the way that you can really understand and experiencing it's meaning. It contains a chapter introduction, and a notes. The Upanishads is the true treasure of India.
Yasmina Elhayane
If you're open to it, I think, the sublime poetry of the Upanishads will change the way you view life in the world. No more "poor little me," lost and afraid in a mechanical and unsympathetic universe, but rather "Thou art that!" You are what the entire cosmos is doing, the whole works! This really is good news.
Yileen
Finished this book in a long sit down! I've given this book a four star instead of a solid five just because I have read the Bhagavad Gita which offered a more well-explained background and foundation of Krshna.

This book does a great summary of the Upanishads but lack organisation. Some verses were repeated (some more than twice) and the one-liners especially from the Taittiriya Upanishad chapter although made me feel like I'm making quick progress with the book, also left me a little hanging.
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Jimmy
While often referred to as Hindu scripture that constitute the core teachings of Vedanta, The Upanishads is really more of a collection of meditations. It is not a theology. They are the kind of meditations that are relevant in any age: what is the nature of love, of the spirit, of the unseen but always felt forces in our universe. But they are not "thoughts" about these things. If you are looking for philosophy, go elsewhere.

One does see the glimmer of the Buddhism that Hindu inspires. The onen
...more
Tso William
OM " 'Place this salt in water and come to me tomorrow morning.'
Svetaketu did as he was commanded, and in the morning his father said to him: 'Bring me the salt you put into the water last night.'
Svetaketu looked into the water, but could not find it, for it had dissolved.
His father then said: 'Taste the water from this side. How is it?'
'It is salt'
'Taste it from the middle. How is it?'
'It is salt'
'Taste it from that that side. How is it?
'It is salt'
'Look for the salt again and come again
...more
Jesse
The realization that one is not separate from this world and that beyond this world there is no consciousness is difficult to understand as a religious insight to the Westerner. The Upanishads make this a simple process by the inclusion of that ponderous method called faith. Of course, one does not need faith to realize this, but I am, according to this book, on a lower plane of consciousness for thinking so, and, as a result, I have no wisdom and therefore no right to tell you this. However, I ...more
Elif Yenigun
Un livre sans qu'on prenne part en tant que son lecteur. Aucune ideé qui s'impose. Liser sans qu'une ideé s'y oblige. Sacré mais de l'humour humaine, il est absolument conseillé a ceux qui n'a pas l'habitude de lire une dizaine de phrases qui précede du moment de plonger dans des pensées innombrables, qui sont pas forcement liées l'une a l'autre.
-- -- --
For those who think that there was a time in oblivion when everyone was aware of the words of conscious will cause either creation or destructio
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“The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe.
The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightening and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not.”
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“Fire is His head, the sun and moon His eyes, space His ears, the Vedas His speech, the wind His breath, the universe His heart. From His feet the Earth has originated. Verily, He is the inner self of all beings.” 6 likes
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