The Upaniṣads are rich and complex Sanskrit Hindu scriptures dating back to the 8th century BCE and are a staple of world religion courses across the globe. In this volume, Signe Cohen guide readers through on the thirteen "Classical Upaniṣads," those generally regarded as the oldest: Bhadrayaka, Chandogya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Isa, Kena, Katha, Mundaka, Svetasvatara, Mandukya, Prasna, Kausitaki, and Maitri Upaniṣads. Where most survey textbooks present a cursory overview of these texts, The Classical Upaniṣads: A Guide provides a nuanced but accessible exploration of the Upaniṣads that will benefit both scholars, students, and general readers alike.
This volume explores the historical, geographical, and social context of the Classical Upaniṣads and discusses issues of dating, authorship, and transmission of the texts. Cohen also breaks down central ideas in the Upaniṣads, such as atman, brahman, karma, reincarnation, moksa, knowledge, and sacred sounds (mantras). The text also discusses the importance of the Upaniṣads for Hinduism and Indian culture, as well as the reception of the Upaniṣads in the West.
Through exploring these works, their key characters and ideas, and their impact on Hinduism's core beliefs, Cohen provides the reader a thorough but approachable entry into these seminal texts.
Signe Cohen is an Associate Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Missouri. She received her MA in Sanskrit from the University of Oslo and her PhD in Sanskrit from the University of Pennsylvania. Her publications include Text and Authority in the Older Upaniṣads (2008), the award-winning edited volume The Upaniṣads: A Complete Guide (2018), and Textual Criticism and Sacred Texts: A Comparative Method (2023).
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