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Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

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Part of a series on
Hindu scriptures

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Yoga Vasistha


The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad (Sanskrit: बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद्) is one of the older, "primary" (mukhya) Upanishads. It is contained within the Shatapatha Brahmana, and its status as an independent Upanishad may be considered a secondary extraction of a portion of the Brahmana text. This makes it one of the old texts of the Upanishad corpus, dating to roughly the 8th to 5th centuries BCE. It is largely the oldest Upanishad, excluding some parts which were composed after the Chandogya.[1] It is associated with the Shukla Yajurveda. It figures as number 10 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads and was notably commented upon by Adi Shankara.

Content

It is widely known for its philosophical statements, and is ascribed to Yajnavalkya. Its name is literally translated as "great-forest-teaching".[2] It includes three sections, namely, Madhu Kanda, Muni Kanda (or Yajnavalkya Kanda) and Khila Kanda. The Madhu Kanda explains the teachings of the basic identity of the individual or jiva and the Atman. Muni Kanda includes the conversations between the sage Yajnavalkya and his wife, Maitreyi. Various methods of worship and meditation are dealt in the Khila Kanda. The doctrine of "neti neti" ("neither this, nor that") and a often quoted verse, "Asato Maa" is found in this Upanishad.

Popular Shlokas

असतो मा सद्गमय
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय
मृत्योर् मा अमृतं गमय
ॐ शांति शांति शांति - बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद् 1.3.28.

Transliteration:

Asato Ma Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

Translation:

Lead Us From the Unreal To Real,
Lead Us From Darkness To Light,
Lead Us From Death To Immortality,
Aum (the universal sound of God)
Let There Be Peace Peace Peace. - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28.

Editions

  • Albrecht Weber, The Çatapatha-Brāhmaṇa in the Mādhyandina-Çākhā, with extracts from the commentaries of Sāyaṇa, Harisvāmin and Dvivedānga, Berlin 1849, reprint Chowkhamba Sanskrit Ser., 96, Varanasi 1964.
  • Willem Caland, The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa in the Kāṇvīya Recension, rev. ed. by Raghu Vira, Lahore 1926, repr. Delhi (1983)
  • Emile Senart , Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad, Belles Lettres (1967) ISBN 2-251-35301-1
  • TITUS online edition (based on both Weber and Caland)

Translations

In Literature

Poet T. S. Eliot makes use of the story "The Voice of the Thunder", found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Sections of the story appear in his poem The Waste Land under part V What The Thunder Said.

Notes

  1. Patrick Olivelle, Upaniṣads. Oxford University Press, 1998, pages 3-4.
  2. "Aranyaka" can be translated as "forest" or "wilderness" but it also refers to a type of Vedic literature associated with sacrifices. Cf. "Aranyaka."

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