-Ms. V.Durgalakshmi & Dr Meera Baindur
Upanishads are some of the oldest texts in Indian intellectual traditions. A part of the Vedic literature, Upaniṣads are distinguished from the rest of the Veda-sections because of their emphasising the path of knowledge called Jñana kānda as opposed to the rest of the Vedic sections that focus on ritual or karma kānda.
The term Upaniṣad is formed from the root word śad which means ‘to sit’ and the two prefixes, ni that means ‘down’ and upa which means ‘near.’ The term therefore refers to the act of ‘sitting down near’ or in another sense it also means ‘to draw close to’. The word represents both the context and the content of the Upanishads. The context is that of a close conversation between the teacher and the taught and the content of teaching of these texts is the revelation of a secret knowledge that leads the student closer to a supreme spiritual state. The Upaniṣad-s are also called Vedanta, a culmination of Vedic enquiry into the nature of the truth (Dasgupta, 1922, p.30-31).
One can say that with the requisite physical, mental and intellectual temperaments, an entire generation of seekers exhausted enquiry into all possibilities of material sciences. Having done so, they turned inward and continued their seeking in the depths of their own personality. Having observed, analyzed and experienced “life”, they generously imparted their wisdom to deserving students, the next generation of sincere seekers. These experiences and teachings were crystallized into what is available to us as the Upaniṣad-s.
This article come to our forthcoming book entitled: Reconsidering Classical Indian Thoughts.