Nine Principal Upanishads

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Yoga Publications Trust

That is full, this is full. From full, the full is taken, the full has come. If you remove the full from the full, the full alone remains.
—Ishavasya Upanishad.

Here in one handy volume are nine important Upanishads (literally: “sitting in proximity to a teacher for instructions”). The nine are: Prashnopanishad, Kenopanishad, Mandukyopanishad, Mundakopanishad, Ishavasya Upanishad, Kathopanishad, Aitareya Upanishad, Shevatashvataroupanishad, and Taittiriya Upanishad. They add meaning to the practices of pranayama, dharana, and dhyana. Like many world classics, the Upanishads expound upon life, death, birth, and beyond. The Nine Principal Upanishads is highly recommended for anyone interested in an in-depth look at Indian classics.

The essence of the nine is distilled in 49 points that flow fluidly and serve as an introduction. Each Upanishad begins with a brief summary. It is followed by the Sanskrit verse, its transliteration, and translation. There is no commentary. This organization works well for multiple needs, those who want a quick five-minute read as well as those who like to savor and chew slowly.

We learn about prana, purusha, the nature of brahman, and knowledge of Self. Mandukyopanishad explains aum. Isha contains the seed of Vedanta philosophy. Kathopanishad is the story of Nachiketa and his quest for transcendental truth.

Whether the reader has an interest in yoga, meditation, spirituality or simply reading beautifully composed writing on the philosophy of life, the Upanishads are worth the time. At the very least, we see how so much meaning can be conveyed in the fewest possible lyrical words, enriching our lives with meaning.

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