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Thread: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

  1. #1

    How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    Namaste,

    Just as I am seeking into Sanatana Dharma, I purchased a copy of the Upanishads to read and study.

    Actually, first of all, should I be reading the Upanishads yet at this point?

    If it is suggested that I do, how much should I read each time?

    Thank you.
    Last edited by UniversalLove; 21 July 2011 at 04:43 AM.

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    Re: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    Namaste ILG,

    It is not important how much read, it is highly important how much you understand. Upanishads contain the highest knowledge for the mankind & they are not so easy to understand. Mandukya Upanishad has only 12 verses but it make take years to completely understand that Upanishad or may be you never understand it as it challenges you to go beyond your mental realm. The same can be said about Isavasya Upanishad.

    I find Quantum Physics easier in comparison. So, have patience & keep reading.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    Vannakkam ILoveGod: Most certainly I agree with Devotee. It is the understanding that counts. But I will take it one step further. After the understanding comes application to daily life. That's really the essential stuff.

    Subramuniyaswami's trilogy is an example of this pace for me. There are three long books, each with 365 daily lessons of about 2 pages fairly large font. So each day the idea is to study that particular lesson or idea, and then reflect on it for the day. That's how this works. Total transformation takes years, even lifetimes. Fortunately we have reincarnation!

    No hurry, no worry.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    Quote Originally Posted by ILoveGod View Post
    Just as I am seeking into Sanatana Dharma, I purchased a copy of the Upanishads to read and study.
    Wow, ILoveGod. From a post which drew a flurry of responses a couple of days ago w.r.t Christianity to this?

    I may have come across rough on that thread. But then again, Hinduism and so many other cultures around the world have been decimated by Christianity/Islam. So, Hindus will be wise to have their guard up against the my-way-or-the-highway-to-eternal-hell type of religions and their practitioners.

    W.r.t. the Upanishads, I have a slightly different view than possibly other members here. Upanishads are called the Vedanta (the ending of the Vedas). They contain within them all the wisdom of the Vedas. The Upanishads themselves are highly philosophical and heavily commented upon. More importantly, there are seeming contradictions within them.

    I suggest a different route that I have found useful. Why dont you supplement your study of the Upanishads along with the simultaneous study of the Brahmasutras? The Brahmasutras are an even more condensed version of the Vedas/Upanishads/Bhagvad Gita, etc.

    The reason for suggesting the Brahmasutras is that many acharyas have explained the different Upanishads resolving the seeming contradictions within them. That way, you are less likely to be confused as you study the Upanishads. The most important commentators on the Brahmasutras are Adi Shankara (Advaita), Ramanuja (Visishtadvaita) and Madhav Acharya (Dvaita). It is always good to have a hard copy of the Upanishads and the Brahmasutras. But there are possibly online versions of these commentaries as well.

    The Brahmasutras are by no means easy. The meanings of the sutras themselves and their commentary and how the commentary of each acharya fits within the overall philosophy developed by them require a lot of contemplation.

    All the best!

  5. #5

    Re: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Wow, ILoveGod. From a post which drew a flurry of responses a couple of days ago w.r.t Christianity to this?

    I may have come across rough on that thread. But then again, Hinduism and so many other cultures around the world have been decimated by Christianity/Islam. So, Hindus will be wise to have their guard up against the my-way-or-the-highway-to-eternal-hell type of religions and their practitioners.

    W.r.t. the Upanishads, I have a slightly different view than possibly other members here. Upanishads are called the Vedanta (the ending of the Vedas). They contain within them all the wisdom of the Vedas. The Upanishads themselves are highly philosophical and heavily commented upon. More importantly, there are seeming contradictions within them.

    I suggest a different route that I have found useful. Why dont you supplement your study of the Upanishads along with the simultaneous study of the Brahmasutras? The Brahmasutras are an even more condensed version of the Vedas/Upanishads/Bhagvad Gita, etc.

    The reason for suggesting the Brahmasutras is that many acharyas have explained the different Upanishads resolving the seeming contradictions within them. That way, you are less likely to be confused as you study the Upanishads. The most important commentators on the Brahmasutras are Adi Shankara (Advaita), Ramanuja (Visishtadvaita) and Madhav Acharya (Dvaita). It is always good to have a hard copy of the Upanishads and the Brahmasutras. But there are possibly online versions of these commentaries as well.

    The Brahmasutras are by no means easy. The meanings of the sutras themselves and their commentary and how the commentary of each acharya fits within the overall philosophy developed by them require a lot of contemplation.

    All the best!

    Namaste wundermonk,

    No problem about the other day, and I totally agree with you. I support Sanatana Dharma keeping itself guarded against the general, overall actions of the more missionary-type religions.

    I think I misrepresented myself the other day. I realized that, more than anything else, I am a spiritual seeker. I seek the Divine and to please Him/Her/It, while seeking the many paths to the Divine. And I found that most of my beliefs and interests are in line with Sanatana Dharma, so I am currently searching into it. I seek into different religions and gain inspiration from them, while at the same time, I keep a strong oath to keep them purely as they are without mixing them, and I owe whatever I gain inspiration from to the faiths themselves. I think that is very important.
    That's a little bit about me, on that note.

    Thank you for your knowledge and suggestion. Next time I am at the bookstore, I will look for a copy of the Brahmasutras to assist my study of the Upanishads.

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    Re: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    My advice is to read, the path of JñAna has been the most fruitful for me. However each has his own nature (svabhava) and consequently you may find bhakti brings you closest to the divine.

    In 'ease' of reading, my experience is as follows:

    1) Puranas, such as Srimad Bhagavatam.
    2) Then the Bhagvad Gita, with commentary by the Archayas. Sri Ramanuja is the one I enjoyed the most.
    3) Upanishads with commentary of Archyas.
    4) Brahmasutras, as Wundermonk prescribes.
    5) Agamas, such as Shiva Sutras and Spandakarikas

    In additon you have 'prayers', bhajan, japa and other resources to bring you closer.

  7. #7

    Re: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    Thank you, Onkara.
    Speaking of Jnana Yoga, I was thinking about the different types of yogas, but I'm sure mine will be revealed in time.

    I will probably ask about that in the yoga section.

    Thanks again for your advice.

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    Re: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkam ILoveGod: Most certainly I agree with Devotee. It is the understanding that counts. But I will take it one step further. After the understanding comes application to daily life. That's really the essential stuff.

    Subramuniyaswami's trilogy is an example of this pace for me. There are three long books, each with 365 daily lessons of about 2 pages fairly large font. So each day the idea is to study that particular lesson or idea, and then reflect on it for the day. That's how this works. Total transformation takes years, even lifetimes.
    Good approach, take it one step at a time.

    Fortunately we have reincarnation!

    No hurry, no worry.

    Aum Namasivaya
    Unfortunately, human life is very rare. Think about it from an evolutionairy standpoint, how fortunate must you have been to be born in a human body. Hinduism teaches this as well.

    bare bhaga manusha tana pava, sura durlabha saba granthanhi gava
    All the scriptures say, with great fortune have we attained this human form, which is even hard to get for the gods (like Indra, Varuna, Agni etc) ~ Rama Charita Manasa

    Hinduism teaches, do not take your human life for granted, this opportunity may not come again for a very long time.
    Last edited by Sahasranama; 21 July 2011 at 08:52 AM.

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    Re: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    Hello Adam,

    The Bhagavad Gita, which I think you say you own/ have read, contains many of the ideas found in the Upanishads but presented in a clearer, more accessible way. Indeed, Krishna even quotes from the Upanishads directly in some cases. The Upanishads are very difficult to get into at first, since they are couched in elaborate ritualistic symbolism and full of metaphorical and obscure references exclusive to the Vedic past whose meanings have been largely lost to us. It's absolutely vital that you read the Upanishads alongside the commentaries of the classical Vedanta teachers, as they provide much of the context for some of the more archaic and nebulous verses. I would recommend that you study the Bhagavad Gita more and become familiar with the central concepts which it reveals, before diving into the Upanishads.

    When you do come around to reading the Upanishads, I recommend reading the Isha or Mandukya Upanishad first; as these two are amongst the shortest of the Upanishads, and contain a relatively small amount of obscure references to ancient Vedic symbolism. As for commentaries, I read Shankaracharya's bhasyas, and could not understand the Upanishads without them. Depending on your philosophical leanings, Shankara's commentaries help cement the Advaita doctrine, Ramanuja's the qualified Advaita, and Madhva for the Dvaita school respectively.

    Later, much later, you will find it helpful to read the Brahma Sutra, which is a series of aphorisms that set out the doctrine of the Upanishads in a logical, consistent manner. For this, also, you will need one of the great commentaries of Shankara et al; as each commentary makes the strongest case for each respective school of Vedanta teaching.

    I spend a few hours each day reading the Upanishads, and more together with the rest of the Vedanta canon ie the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras. You will eventually need to have studied all three of the texts (Upanishads, Gitas, and Brahma Sutra) to understand the full import of the Vedanta teaching, as the study of the three texts constitutes the first step (sravana, or 'hearing') on the path to moksha or self-knowledge, and is followed by mental cogitation on the meaning of the import.

    For you I recommend that you start slowly and keep the Gita as your main focus, or perhaps read the Isha/Mandukya Upanishads alongside the Gita, and perhaps also the Katha Upanishad, whose imagery and metaphor is quoted by Krishna often in the Gita.




  10. #10

    Re: How much of the Upanishads should you read each time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahasranama View Post
    Unfortunately, human life is very rare.
    Hinduism teaches, do not take your human life for granted, this opportunity may not come again for a very long time.
    Well-said, I never thought of it like that.

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