The philosophical portion of the Vedas is called the Upanishads. The Upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the Vedas and are also called Vedānta (added at the end of the Vedas). They are found appended to all the four Vedas, and thus we have Upanishads belonging to all four Vedas: Rig, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva. Each Vedas reveals its contents under four sections: (1) The Samhitās, containing beautiful lyrical poems or mantras describing and adoring the beauty of nature and the power of the extraordinary forces. (2) The Brahmana section containing the ritualistic injunctions and prescriptions for various ceremonies. (3) The Aranyakas, containing various methods of meditation or Upāsanās and (4) The Upanishads, containing the philosophical discussions and sermons that had taken place at various periods of time between different teachers (Rishis) and their students, regarding Brahman, Eternal Purpose of creation and the goal of human life. While the hymns of the Vedas emphasize rituals and the Brahmanas serve as a manual for those Vedic rituals. The Upanishads are inherently opposed to rituals.
The name ‘Upanishad’ has a very purposeful meaning and deep significance. The Sanskrit word Upanishad translates to: “Upa (near) ni (down) shad (sit), sitting down near a teacher”. The term ‘Upanishad’ literally means sitting near the enlightened Master and listening closely to the mystic doctrines of the spiritual teacher, who has grasped the fundamental truths of the universe. To Indian scholars ‘Upanishad’ also means a literature that destroys our present ignorance of Reality and helps the student to attain the Supreme Knowledge.
There are more than 200 known Upanishads, one of which, Muktikā Upanishad, predates 1656 and contains a list of 108 authorized Upanishads, including itself as the last. The first dozen out of 108 Upanishads are the oldest and most important known as the principal Upanishads. They all predate 6th century BCE. Nine Principal Upanishads are translated in simple, easy to understand English. Read and download FREE from: