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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who wrote the Upanishads?

Michael Beloved wrote:

One thing that seems to be missing in your report on the Upanishads, is the names of the people involved in writing and also those who are mentioned by the writers. Unless those names are irrelevant or if you feel it just has no place in the report. Or perhaps those books were written by just energy in mid-space and no human agency was involved. Thatis interesting because some people in India say that the Vedas were no written by anyone. It just is. Is this the case with the Upanishads?

The Upanishads are part of the Vedas and the Vedas are regarded by the orthodox Hindus as the highest authority of all scriptures. They consider the Vedas the ultimate expression of divine truth. The Vedas consist of a large body of texts handed down generation after generation and are considered infinite and eternal and the word of God.

However, having said that, no one knows who wrote the Vedas or exactly how old they really are. The lives and the names of the individuals who actually wrote the Vedas have been lost after having been passed down and shuffled around for thousands of years. I think that humans were indeed involved in writing the texts; they just happen to change, get lost and authors forgotten as time went on. Also, no one knows exactly how many were written. Out of the 108 extant Upanishads, only 16 are recognized as authentic and authoritative by Shankara. Shankara was an Indian scholar during the 7th century and was an authority of Sanskrit. He basically established the doctrine of nondualism and the importance of living a monastic life that is encouraged in the Upanishads. So, he is looked upon by many Hindus as the major authority when it comes to the Upanishads.

I think one of the most interesting things about the Upanishads is they are considered to be the works of ancient saints and seers who were concerned with reporting insights and experieances which came to them though thoughts and visions. I also find it interesting that after all these years humans haven't changed much when it comes to wanting to believe that immortality, in one way or another, is possible. Reincarnation, soul ascending to heaven, Self transformation, etc. are all beliefs that keep us hoping for something better and something ever lasting.

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