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Ten Principal Upanishads: Preface

Unveiling the Wisdom of the Upanishads: A Journey to Self-Realization


The Upanishads are shining beacons in the sacred annals of ancient Indian philosophy, blazing the way to profound self-realization and spiritual enlightenment. These books are classics because of the deep wisdom they impart about the nature of reality, the nature of awareness, and the interconnection of all things.

The Upanishads are a treasure trove of ancient knowledge.

The Upanishads are the cornerstones of ancient knowledge, and they are regarded as the “Vedanta,” or “final expression,” of Vedic knowledge. These profound books, which have their origins in the rich spiritual fabric of ancient India, explore the ultimate questions of human life, going far beyond the confines of dogma and dogmas. It’s fitting that the name “Upanishad” means “sitting down near,” as the close interaction between teacher and pupil is a reflection of how these teachings are passed on.

A quest for truth that transcends this world is what drives the Upanishads. The wisdom contained in these books is not static; rather, they are dynamic resources for learning about the world, oneself, and the Absolute. They have left an unmistakable impact on the intellectual and spiritual landscape of humanity by illuminating the minds of searchers, thinkers, and spiritual aspirants over the millennia.

Background of My Upanishad Studies: Unearthing Ancient Wisdom

It wasn’t until 2017 that I opened an old book labelled simply “Upanishad,” and I was flooded with the knowledge of centuries past. During a visit to the Calcutta Book Fair in 1989, this treasured volume was purchased and put away, waiting for the right time to be rediscovered. Companions from the same time and place, those four Vedas in Bengali, have since set out on their own voyage, and it is unknown where they are today.

At first, the Upanishad’s profound wisdom appeared beyond my comprehension as I explored it in its original Bengali writing. I obtained guidance from “Swami Sarvapriyananda” of the New York Vedanta Society’s Ramakrishna Mission, which I discovered by accessing the modern oracle of information, YouTube. As he explained things, I felt a stirring in the old knowledge that went beyond words.

After that, I spent a lot of time reading Upanishad interpretations and translations written in English. In addition to W.B. Yeats’s and Shree Purohit Swami’s translations of “THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS,” I had a copy of the original Sanskrit texts. The book “Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of ADVAITA” by Dennis Waite was another invaluable resource that expanded my horizons and shed brilliant light on the fundamental oneness at the heart of all things.

Along the way, I lucked into taking an online course about the Upanishads through the Bhishma School of Indian Knowledge System. The lessons were no longer just words on a page; they were now facts that pulsed through my veins.

Each Upanishad, like a unique diamond, lends its own dimension to the illuminated fabric of spiritual knowledge. They help us make sense of the fundamental reality underneath the world’s many facades through deep conversation and metaphor.

Reading these ancient texts is like setting out on a personal quest for enlightenment with the help of the wise and the curious who have come before us. There are fables, analogies, and philosophical questions that force us to question our assumptions and encourage us to go deeper into the world.

This is more than a compilation of philosophical writings from antiquity; it’s a call to have a contemporary conversation with the accumulated knowledge of the past. It invites readers to ponder the eternal truths contained in these sanctified lines via introspection, meditation, and prayer.

The timeless wisdom of the Upanishads:

The Upanishads are timeless and universal in their wisdom. Their wisdom goes beyond dogma to address issues that are relevant to all people. Concepts about the nature of reality, the Self, and the Absolute (or “Brahman”) are intertwined throughout these books, and they are topics that have intrigued individuals from all walks of life and throughout all of history.

The Upanishads serve as a timely reminder that the pursuit of life’s ultimate truths lies at the heart of our common humanity. Their wisdom may unite people of various backgrounds by helping them see the value in each other’s perspectives. By deciphering the metaphors and symbols, readers from different walks of life can discover shared experiences in their search for meaning.

The Upanishads refer to us as a repository of universal knowledge in an increasingly linked world. Their teachings serve as a guiding light, bringing us towards self-realization and a deeper respect for the interconnection of all life.

There are 20th-century scientists who were influenced by the Upanishads.

Some quotes by notable scientists on the Upanishads:

Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961), Nobel laureate in Physics:

"The multiplicity is only apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not of the Upanishads alone. The mystical experience of the union with God regularly leads to this view, unless strong prejudices stand in the West."

Carl Sagan (1934–1996), American astronomer and science communicator:

"The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long."

J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967), physicist and director of the Manhattan Project:

"The Vedanta and the Sankhya hold the key to the laws of mind and thought process that are co-related to the Quantum Field; with this knowledge, it is possible for an individual to move towards practical realization of the highest truths."

Niels Bohr (1885–1962), Nobel laureate in Physics:

"I go into the Upanishads to ask questions."

Werner Heisenberg (1901–1976), Nobel laureate in Physics:

"After the conversations about Indian philosophy, some of the ideas of Quantum Physics that had seemed so crazy suddenly made much more sense."

My goal in presenting “The Ten Principal Upanishads” is to help people of all backgrounds and levels of knowledge of Indian philosophy appreciate and benefit from this rich spiritual legacy. The purpose of these translations and annotations is to facilitate communication between the ancients’ knowledge and the modern seeker.

The Upanishads’ wisdom should ring true in the minds of anybody reading this book, and they should touch the souls of everybody who takes the time to read it.

Arun Kumar Singha Mahapatra, 04-11-2023,

The Wisdom of the Upanishads: Series-(1)

7 thoughts on “Ten Principal Upanishads: Preface”

  1. “The Upanishads are timeless and universal in their wisdom. Their wisdom goes beyond dogma to address issues that are relevant to all people. . . .”

    Relevant to all people – Does that include woman?

    In what way are women mentioned in those ancient texts?

    1. Respected Uta madam,
      With kind regards, I say that Vedanta is for all, irrespective of gender, caste, creed, creatures, time, and space.
      In the realm of intellect and creativity, there is no distinction between male and female potential. Minds, regardless of gender, harbor the capacity for innovation, wisdom, and the pursuit of knowledge. The ability to envision a better future, to problem-solve, and to contribute to the collective progress of society is a gift bestowed upon all human beings, irrespective of gender.
      To reply to your comments, I have published a post. Please read that post.
      Best regards.

  2. Sir, your contributions on educating us on Advaita philosophy is highly commendable and accept my bow for it. I believe that Vedanta is a serious pursuit of revealing our own true self. Starting with Bagavad Gita texts graduate slowly towards Tatvabodha, Upanishad Saaransh like Manisha Panchakam, Upadesa Saaram, Drk drsya viveka and so on. It is an endless journey of discovering the hidden energy, wisdom that everybody is imbibed and encased with waiting to be awakened. What is the benefit of reading this? vidyananda – joy of knowledge, jignasu nivritti – fulfilling curiosity, dakshala praptihi – improvement in efficiency. What is your opinion of yourself? ‘Prajnanam Brahman’ – consciousness is brahman, ‘Ayam Aatma Brahman’ – this self is brahman, ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ – Thou Art That, ‘Aham Brahmaasmi’ – I am Brahman. Some people wonder how is this possible, let me give an analogy when you dream at night you dream of people, of mountains and sunsets etc. All of these are manifestations of your own mind. Everything that is seen on dream is you. Everything in Jagat is only you. Although seems mind boggling but purely rationale in essence. Thank you for sharing this pure bliss in the form of nidhidhyasanam 🙏

    1. Vishnupriya, you have a deep respect for the Advaita Vedanta theory, which says that reality is one and that each person’s self (Atman) is one with the ultimate reality (Brahman). Since the beginning of our meeting in the world of writing, you have always been there for me.

      Your explanation shows how writings like the Bhagavad Gita led to more complex philosophical works like Tatvabodha and other Prakarana granthas, as well as the Upanishads. All of those are seen as ways to reach self-realization and know what you’re really like.

      You also talk about the benefits of reading these works, such as the joy of knowledge (vidyananda), satisfying one’s curiosity (jignasu nivritti), and becoming more efficient (dakshala praptihi). These benefits have to do with the personal growth and new ideas that can be gained by studying and thinking about Advaita Vedanta lessons.

      Your use of a dream as an example fits well with Advaita theory. What it shows is that everything in the dream, like people, mountains, and sunsets, is just a reflection of the dreamer’s mind.
      Thank you so much for being there.
      Be there for continuous support.
      God bless you.
      Take care.

      1. Sir, your reply means a lot and thank you for being there. Your vast knowledge on Advaita lures me into analysis mode and makes me to present my thoughts. As learning is a continuous process and assimilation is where everything is laid and reflected upon. Your contributions make this happen and happy to be in touch with you. Be safe and take care 🙏

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