The Book of
Knowledge : Upanishads
Upanishad means the inner or mystic
teaching. The Upanishads more clearly set forth the prime Vedic
doctrines like Self-realization, yoga and meditation, karma and
reincarnation, which were hidden or kept veiled under the symbols of
the older mystery religion. The older Upanishads are usually affixed
to a particularly Veda, through a Brahmana or Aranyaka (see below).
The more recent ones are not. The Upanishads became prevalent some
centuries before the time of Krishna and Buddha. The classical
Upanishadic age was in the reign of the Kuru kings of north India,
of which the Puranas list twenty kings before the time of Krishna
(c. 1500 B.C.).
The main figure in the Upanishads,
though not present in many of them, is the sage Yajnavalkya. Most of
the great teachings of later Hindu and Buddhist philosophy derive
from him. He taught the great doctrine of "neti-neti", the
view that truth can be found only through the negation of all
thoughts about it. He looks back some generations to Tura Kavasheya,
the main priest of Janamejaya, the second of the Kuru kings (not to
be confused with the later Janamejaya who followed a few generations
after Krishna). Other important Upanishadic sages are Uddalaka
Aruni, Shwetaketu, Shandilya, Aitareya, Pippalada, Sanat Kumara.
Many earlier Vedic teachers like Manu,
Brihaspati, Ayasya and Narada are also found in the Upanishads.