Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Upadesa Mean?

In Hinduism and Buddhism, upadesa is spiritual instruction and guidance that a guru or teacher provides. The term comes from the Sanskrit, upa, meaning “above,” and adesa, meaning “advice,” “instruction” or “command.”

While upadesa can mean imparting knowledge in general, in the context of Hindu and yoga philosophy, it suggests instruction and guidance that goes beyond basic instruction; the guru remains by the student's side and directs him/her along the path to enlightenment. It suggests a spiritual experience.


Yogapedia Explains Upadesa

When the guru transmits upadesa, he/she is not just relaying intellectual knowledge — it is sacred, mystical knowledge that brings wisdom and understanding. Upadesa often refers to the discussion of doctrine in question-and-answer form in Buddhism.

The "Upadesa Sahasri," which means “a thousand teachings,” is a Hindu text authored by 8th century philosopher, Adi Shankara, that describes, among other things, the role of the teacher in guiding the student along his/her journey toward spiritual knowledge.

"Upadesa Saram" is a book of 30 verses written by 20th century guru, Ramana Maharshi, that imparts the knowledge and instruction to achieve liberation.

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