What do you understand by the term “Upanishads”?
In support of this contention they say that the last part of Ved is Gyan Kand (Avanyak) which is altogether different from Karma Kand.
1. The Meaning of Upanishad:
The syllable UP means SAMP, i.e., near, and ‘NI’ stands for definteness (Nishachayatmak). Upanishad means that knowledge (Vidya) which nullifies or undoes (destroys) ignorance (Avidya) and takes the desirous of salvation (Moksha) to Brahma or God and helps him to understand Him in the true sense and thus cut the bondage of this world (that is the freedom from the cycle of birth and death).
In other words, Upanishad refers to that knowledge (Vidya) which removes one’s ignorance, makes him free from the worldly bondage and leads him to attain the ultimate stage of bliss (Parampad).
2. Classification of Upanishads:
Traditionally 108 Upanishads have been recognised. But only the following ones are considered as the main ones: — they are Ishwasya, Ken, Kath, Prasna, Aitareya, Mundak, Mandukya, Taittariya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyak, Swetashwatar, Kwishi Taki, Maiirayani, Mahanarayana.
3. The Period of Upanishads:
It is difficult to say definitely about the periods of the various Upanishads. It is believed that some of the oldest Upanishads, such as Chhandogya, Bihhadranyak, Ken, Aitreya, Taittiriya, Kaushaitaki and Kath have been written before 600 B.C. and the other ones might have been written at any time before 300 B.C. that is after Lord Buddha.
4. Upanishads as Chief Source of all Indian Philosophies:
Various schools of Indian philosophies have been very much influenced by various Upanishads. All the theist schools quote from Upanishads in support of their contentions. Even many atheist schools also appear to have impact of Upanishads.
5. The Subject of the Upanishads:
According to Shankaracharya Brahma Gyan (knowledge about God) is the subject of Upanishads. Through this Brahma Gyan a person attains salvation by knowing about birth and death.
The knowledge of salvation (Moksha Gyan) is Brahma Gyan. This has been called Gupt Vidya, i.e., secret knowledge (or light). Paul Diason also supports this viewpoint. To some Upanishads are expositions of Vedic philosophy.
As we have already stated above, probably due to this, Upanishads have also been called Vedant, i.e., the end of Ved In fact, Vedant, as the meaning of Upanishads appears to be more appropriate. In short, as said above, Upanishads tell us about Moksha Vidya or Brahma Vidya (the knowledge about salvation or God).