Upanishad, Upaniṣad: 12 definitions

Introduction

Upanishad means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit term Upaniṣad can be transliterated into English as Upanisad or Upanishad, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Mīmāṃsā (school of philosophy)

[«previous (U) next»] — Upanishad in Mimamsa glossary
Source: Srimatham: Mīmāṃsa: The Study of Hindu Exegesis

Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्) refers to the fourth section of Vedic literature.—The Upaniṣads are the philosophical texts which concern us the most.

context information

Mimamsa (मीमांसा, mīmāṃsā) refers to one of the six orthodox Hindu schools of philosophy, emphasizing the nature of dharma and the philosophy of language. The literature in this school is also known for its in-depth study of ritual actions and social duties.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

[«previous (U) next»] — Upanishad in Purana glossary
Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopedia

Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्).—The four Vedas are Ṛk, Yajus, Sāma and Atharva. Each of these four has a Brāhmaṇa (a treatise relating to prayer and sacrificial ceremony). Next come the Āraṇyakas (forest texts—writings meant for the forest-dwelling hermit) as appendices to the Brāhmaṇas. Then come the Upaniṣads as appendices to the Āraṇyakas. These four classes of literary works (the Vedas, the Brāhmaṇas, the Āraṇyakas and the Upaniṣads) constitute the Vedic literature proper. The Āraṇyakas and the Upaniṣads are inseparably connected with each other. The Upaniṣads are called Vedāntas (the end of the Vedas). The bulk of these Vedāntas belong to different periods anterior to the Later Vedic Period. The students begin the study of Upaniṣads only after having completed the study of the Mantras (Vedic hymns) and the Brāhmaṇas (the ritual).

The meaning of the word 'Upaniṣad' is that which is most near. Upa = near. ni = most. sad = exist. (or sit). The Upaniṣads can be called the Jñānakāṇḍa of the Vedas. They describe the nature of Brahman. The figure of the supreme Spirit (Brahman) exists in the Upaniṣads. Apparently the Upaniṣads are explanations of the mantras, but they are concerned more with the allegorical significations and the mystic meanings of the tattvas or essence, of the origin of life, the world, the soul, God etc. The Upaniṣads are the basis of the Ṣaḍ-darśanas, the six systems of philosophy. There are a large number of Upaniṣads. The most important among them are 108 in number.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्).—Essence of: in śrutigītā.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 8. 45; 45. 33; 87. 43; XII. 6. 41; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa I. 1. 170; IV. 4. 72; Vāyu-purāṇa 1. 200; 6. 22; 20. 25; 30. 231; 97. 158.
Purana book cover
context information

The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Vaishnavism (Vaishava dharma)

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhajana-rahasya - 2nd Edition

Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्) refers to:—108 principal philosophical treatises that appear within the Vedas. (cf. Glossary page from Bhajana-Rahasya).

Vaishnavism book cover
context information

Vaishnava (वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) or vaishnavism (vaiṣṇavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Vishnu as the supreme Lord. Similar to the Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, Vaishnavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the dashavatara (‘ten avatars of Vishnu’).

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General definition (in Hinduism)

[«previous (U) next»] — Upanishad in Hinduism glossary
Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

Upanishad (उपनिषद्): Part of the Hindu Śruti scriptures which primarily discuss meditation and philosophy, seen as religious instructions by most schools of Hinduism.

Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

[«previous (U) next»] — Upanishad in Sanskrit glossary
Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्).—f. [said to be from upani-sad 'knowledge derived from sitting at the feet of the preceptor'; but, according to Indian authorities, it means 'to destroy ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the Supreme Spirit and cutting off the bonds of worldly existence'; yathā ya imāṃ brahmavidyāmupayantyātmabhāvena śraddhābhaktipuraḥsarāḥ santasteṣāṃ garbhajanmajarārogādyanarthapūgaṃ niśātayati paraṃ vā brahma gamayati avidyādi- saṃsārakāraṇaṃ cātyantamavasādayati vināśayatītyupaniṣad | upanipūrvasya saderevamarthasmaraṇāt; Śaṅkara]

1) Name of certain mystical writings attached to the Brāhmaṇas, the chief aim of which is to ascertain the secret meaning of the Vedas; Bv.2.4; Māl 1.7; (other etymologies also are given to explain the name:(1) उपनीय तमात्मानं ब्रह्मापास्तद्वयं यतः । निहन्त्यविद्यां तज्जं च तस्मादुपनिषद्भवेत् (upanīya tamātmānaṃ brahmāpāstadvayaṃ yataḥ | nihantyavidyāṃ tajjaṃ ca tasmādupaniṣadbhavet) || or (2) निहत्यानर्थमूलं स्वाविद्यां प्रत्यक्तया परम् । नयत्यपास्तसंभेदमतो वोपनिषद्भवेत् (nihatyānarthamūlaṃ svāvidyāṃ pratyaktayā param | nayatyapāstasaṃbhedamato vopaniṣadbhavet) || or (3) प्रवृत्तिहेतून्निःशेषास्तन्मूलोच्छेदकत्वतः । यतोवसादयेद्विद्या तस्मा- दुपनिषद्भवेत् (pravṛttihetūnniḥśeṣāstanmūlocchedakatvataḥ | yatovasādayedvidyā tasmā- dupaniṣadbhavet) || In the मुक्तकोपनिषद् (muktakopaniṣad) 18 Upaniṣads are mentioned, but some more have been added to this number. They are said to have been the source of the six Darśanas or systems of philosophy, particularly of the Vedānta Philosophy. The more important Upani- ṣads are:ईशकेनकठप्रश्नमुण्डमाण्डूक्यतित्तिरः । ऐतरेयं च छान्दोग्यं बृहदारण्यकं तथा (īśakenakaṭhapraśnamuṇḍamāṇḍūkyatittiraḥ | aitareyaṃ ca chāndogyaṃ bṛhadāraṇyakaṃ tathā) ||.

2) (a) An esoteric or secret doctrine, mystical meaning, words of mystery; साङ्गोपाङ्गोपनिषदः सरहस्यः प्रदीयताम् (sāṅgopāṅgopaniṣadaḥ sarahasyaḥ pradīyatām) Rām.1.55.16. (b) Mystical knowledge or instruction; मन्त्रपारायण° (mantrapārāyaṇa°) U.6; दिव्यामस्त्रोपनिषदमृषेर्यः कृशाश्वस्य शिष्यात् (divyāmastropaniṣadamṛṣeryaḥ kṛśāśvasya śiṣyāt) Mv.2.2.

3) True knowledge regarding the Supreme Spirit.

4) Sacred or religious lore.

5) Secrecy, seclusion.

6) A neighbouring mansion.

7) A lonely place.

8) A religious observance.

9) Meditation, यदेव विद्यया करोति श्रद्धयोपनिषदा तदेव वीर्यवत्तरं भवति (yadeva vidyayā karoti śraddhayopaniṣadā tadeva vīryavattaraṃ bhavati) Ch. Up.1.1.1.

1) One that takes to (like a boat); तस्योपनिषत्सत्यस्य सत्यमिति (tasyopaniṣatsatyasya satyamiti) Bṛ. Up.2.1.2.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्).—f., upaniṣā, also written °śā, °sā, °sad (= Pali upanisā, in mgs. 1 and 2; on relation to Sanskrit upaniṣad see Schayer, RO 3.57 (1926), magic correspon- dence; Renou, in C. Kunhan Raja Presentation Volume, orig. connexion, from upa-ni-sad- approcher…être ou mettre en regard, confronter), (1) cause, basis: AbhidhK ii.106 duḥkhopaniṣac chraddhā, la foi nait de la souffrance (LaV-P.); ii.245 hetu, pratyaya, nidāna, kāraṇa, nimitta, liṅga, upaniṣad are synonyms (Vyākhyā); ib. Index, referring to v.40, mokṣadharmopaniṣad ucchedaḥ; Asaṅga (Mahāyāna-sūtrālaṃkāra) xi.9 (base causale, Lévi); Bodhisattvabhūmi 2.26 (ādhāra ity ucyate,) upastambho hetur niśraya upaniṣat pūrvaṃgamo nilaya (compare the synonym-list above, Abhidharmakośa Vy.) ity ucyate; Udānavarga xiii.5 anyā hi lābhopaniṣad anyā nirvāṇagāminī, for the cause (basis) of gain is one thing, that which leads to nirvāṇa is another (same verse in Dhammapada (Pali) 75, with lābhūpanisā); see also under (3) below, and s.v. candropaniṣad; (2) like- ness, comparison (so Pāṇ.1.4.79), chiefly in a frequent cliché, found Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 333.7; 349.3; Mahāvyutpatti 5087; Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā 59.16; Kāśyapa Parivarta 159.17; Sukhāvatīvyūha 31.9; Vajracchedikā 35.10; 42.7; Gaṇḍavyūha 542.3; Aṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā 72.4; 98.11; Śikṣāsamuccaya 187.1; 312.12, 21; Daśabhūmikasūtra 66.26; Bodhisattvabhūmi 104.9; 236.22; usually a long formula, ending kalām api gaṇanām apy upamām apy upaniṣadam (or °ṣām, etc.) api na kṣamate (or, nopaiti); sometimes abbreviated by yāvad (e.g. Vajracchedikā 42.7; Śikṣāsamuccaya, all 3 times) or vistareṇa yāvad (Bodhisattvabhūmi 236.22) or without any such phrase indicating abbreviation (e.g. Bodhisattvabhūmi 104.9); on the other hand, additional terms may be added, especially at the end (before na…), as dhṛtipadam (q.v.) api Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā, aupamyam api Vajracchedikā 35.10; Aṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā (both times but before upani°); Daśabhūmikasūtra. The forms of our word, besides the regular upaniṣadam, are: upaniṣām Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 333.7 (ed., but most mss. °ṣadam; one °sām api °ṣadam api); Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā; Kāśyapa Parivarta; °sām Aṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā both times, and see Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 333.7 above; °śām Sukhāvatīvyūha; Gaṇḍavyūha; Daśabhūmikasūtra; in Aṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā (both times), as in one ms. of Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 333.7 (above), the item is duplicated, reading upaniśām apy upaniṣadam (72.4 °sadam) api; for the verb, na kṣamate (or pl. °nte) and nopaiti are equally common, while Sukhāvatīvyūha has the isolated na gaṇito bhavet. Tibetan (on Mahāvyutpatti, and according to Bendall on Śikṣāsamuccaya 187.1) renders upaniṣad in this passage by rgyu, cause, but this clearly makes no sense. A sort of modulation of this cliché, with nom. sg. forms, in Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 299.13 na teṣāṃ saṃkhyā vā gaṇanā vopamā vopaniṣad vopalabhyate; also Daśabhūmikasūtra 66.8 (yeṣāṃ saṃkhyā nāsti) gaṇanā pramāṇam upaniṣad aupamyaṃ nāsti. [(3) according to Wogihāra, ZDMG 58.454, and Index to Bodhisattvabhūmi s.v., where [Page138-b+ 71] Dharmarakṣa is cited as authority, the word also means step, degree (Grad, Stufe), and W. finds this meaning in Bodhisattvabhūmi 144.21 f. This passage reads (18—23) tasyaibhir daśabhir ākāraiḥ kuśaladharmasaṃgrāhakaśīlavyavasthitasya kṣi- pram eva kuśalasaṃgraho bhavati, sarvākārasaṃgrahaś ca: yad uta, dānopaniṣadā śīlopaniṣadā kṣāntyupaniṣadā vīryopaniṣadā dhyānopaniṣadā pañcākārayā ca prajñayā. Clearly the 10 ākāra = the 10 pāramitā (Mahāvyutpatti 913 ff.), the last five being ‘forms’ of prajñā. But I doubt that upaniṣad here means degree, step, or stage; rather as in 1 above, by the cause of dāna etc., on the basis of…, by means of… (4) In Divyāvadāna 530.21 for (tayā) svopanisad (uktā) read probably svā pariṣad, her retinue, with note.]

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्).—f. (-ṣad or -ṣat) 1. A portion of the religious writings of the Hindus; the theological part, and the Vedanta or argumentative part of the Vedas, either detached from or comprised in the principal work. 2. Virtue, moral merit. 3. Truth as the principle of divine being. 4. A neighbouring mansion. 5. A lonely place. E. upa and ni prefixed to ṣad to go, affix kvip; in which abide the essential parts of religion, &c.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Benfey Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्).—i. e. upa-ni-sad, f. A portion of the religious writings of the Hindus, [Vedāntasāra, (in my Chrestomathy.)] in Chr. 202, 7.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्).—[feminine] secret doctrine (lit. sitting down, sc. to listen); an Upaniṣad, i.e. a class of writings intended to ascertain the secret meaning of the Veda.

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Upanisad (उपनिसद्).—approach, set about ([accusative]).

Upanisad is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms upani and sad (सद्).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्):—[=upa-ni-ṣad] 1. upa-ni-ṣad (upa-ni-√sad) [Parasmaipada] ([perfect tense] -ni-ṣedus) to sit down near to;

—to approach, set about, [Atharva-veda xix, 41, 1; Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa; Kauśika-sūtra]

2) [=upa-niṣad] [from upani-ṣad] 2. upa-niṣad f. (according to some) the sitting down at the feet of another to listen to his words (and hence, secret knowledge given in this manner; but according to native authorities upaniṣad means ‘setting at rest ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the supreme spirit’)

3) [v.s. ...] the mystery which underlies or rests underneath the external system of things (cf. [Indian Wisdom, by Sir M. Monier-Williams p.35seqq.])

4) [v.s. ...] esoteric doctrine, secret doctrine, mysterious or mystical meaning, words of mystery etc., [Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa; Chāndogya-upaniṣad] etc.

5) [v.s. ...] a class of philosophical writings (more than a hundred in number, attached to the Brāhmaṇas [but See Īśopaniṣad]; their aim is the exposition of the secret meaning of the Veda, and they are regarded as the source of the Vedānta and Sāṃkhya philosophies; for the most important of the Upaniṣads See, [Indian Wisdom, by Sir M. Monier-Williams p.37seq.])

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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