Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Definition - What does Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mean?

"Brihadaranyaka Upanishad" is one of the oldest of the Upanishads, the ancient Hindu spiritual texts that contain the central philosophical concepts of Hinduism. From Sanskrit, "Brihadaranyaka Upanishad" translates as “Great Forest Book.”

The age of the text is difficult to determine, but most scholars estimate that it was written between 1000 and 700 B.C.E. Composed in prose form, the "Brihadaranyaka Upanishad" is the largest of the Upanishads, and focuses on the nature of reality and the identity of the Self, or Atman.

Yogapedia explains Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Much of the "Brihadaranyaka Upanishad" follows the sage, Yajnavalkya, and his wife. In these stories, Yajnavalkya expounds upon philosophical issues such as consciousness, creation, the Self and karma. It also includes passages on ethics, psychology and metaphysics.

Regarding the Self, the "Brihadaranyaka" states that only experiential knowledge of Atman and Brahman (the universal Self) can lead to samadhi, or enlightenment. The text describes specific methods of meditation, rites and rituals, as well as three virtues yogis should practice. These virtues are generosity, compassion and self-restraint. They are the foundation of the yamas (or ethical rules) in Hinduism and yoga, and are described by the sage, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras.

Email Newsletter

Join thousands of others with our weekly newsletter