The Upanishads

The Upanishads by Sri Aurobindo

The Upanishads

Book The Upanishads by Sri Aurobindo contains his final translations of and commentaries on the Isha and Kena, his final translations of the Mundaka and Katha Upanishads, and a commentary on part of the Taittiriya Upanishad. Upanishads are the ancient treatises on spiritual truths as envisioned by the seers, sages and rishis of the civilization of India.

They are preceded by a chapter on the Upanishads from A Defence of Indian Culture. These works represent Sri Aurobindo‘s Upanishadic interpretation in its most mature and finished form. All were written after he settled in Pondicherry in 1910. Translations and commentaries written before that year, or left incomplete by the author, have not been included in this volume. They are available in other publications.

Book Details

Author: Sri Aurobindo

Print Length: 236 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Contributor: Krishna

Book format: PDFePubKindle

Language: English

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  • Analysis
  • Prefatory. Plan of the Upanishad
  • First Movement. The Inhabiting Godhead: Life And Action
  • Second Movement. 1. Brahman: Oneness Of God And The World
  • Second Movement. 2. Self-Realisation
  • Third Movement. 1. The Lord
  • Third Movement. 2. Knowledge And Ignorance
  • Third Movement. 3. Birth And Non-Birth
  • Fourth Movement. 1. The Worlds — Surya
  • Fourth Movement. 2. Action And The Divine Will
  • Conclusion and Summary


  • Commentary
  • The Subject of the Upanishad
  • The Question. What Godhead?
  • The Supramental Godhead
  • The Eternal Beyond the Mind
  • The Supreme Word
  • The Necessity of Supermind
  • Mind and Supermind
  • The Superlife — Life of Our Life
  • The Great Transition
  • The Parable of the Gods
  • The Transfiguration of the Self and the Gods
  • A Last Word


  • First Mundaka
  • Second Mundaka
  • Third Mundaka


  • First Cycle. First Chapter
  • First Cycle. Second Chapter
  • First Cycle. Third Chapter
  • Second Cycle. First Chapter
  • Second Cycle. Second Chapter
  • Second Cycle. Third Chapter


  • The Knowledge of Brahman
  • Truth, Knowledge, Infinity


The Upanishads


The Upanishads are the supreme work of the Indian mind, and that it should be so, that the highest self-expression of its genius, its sublimest poetry, its greatest creation of the thought and word should be not a literary or poetical masterpiece of the ordinary kind, but a large flood of spiritual revelation of this direct and profound character, is a significant fact, evidence of a unique mentality and unusual turn of spirit. The Upanishads are at once profound religious scriptures, — for they are a record of the deepest spiritual experiences, — documents of revelatory and intuitive philosophy of an inexhaustible light, power and largeness and, whether written in verse or cadenced prose, spiritual poems of an absolute, an unfailing inspiration inevitable in phrase, wonderful in rhythm and expression. It is the expression of a mind in which philosophy and religion and poetry are made one, because this religion does not end with a cult nor is limited to a religio-ethical aspiration, but rises to an infinite discovery of God, of Self, of our highest and whole reality of spirit and being and speaks out of an ecstasy of luminous knowledge and an ecstasy of moved and fulfilled experience, this philosophy is not an abstract intellectual speculation about Truth or a structure of the logical intelligence, but Truth seen, felt, lived, held by the inmost mind and soul in the joy of utterance of an assured discovery and possession, and this poetry is the work of the aesthetic mind lifted up beyond its ordinary field to express the wonder and beauty of the rarest spiritual self-vision and the profoundest illumined truth of self and God and universe. Here the intuitive mind and intimate psychological experience of the Vedic seers passes into a supreme culmination in which the Spirit, as is said in a phrase of the Katha Upanishad, discloses its own very body, reveals the very word of its self-expression and discovers to the mind the vibration of rhythms which repeating themselves within in the spiritual hearing seem to build up the soul and set it satisfied and complete on the heights of self-knowledge.

This character of the Upanishads needs to be insisted upon with a strong emphasis, because it is ignored by foreign translators who seek to bring out the intellectual sense without feeling the life of thought vision and the ecstasy of spiritual experience which made the ancient verses appear then and still make them to those who can enter into the element in which these utterances move, a revelation not to the intellect alone, but to the soul and the whole being, make of them in the old expressive word not intellectual thought and phrase, but sruti, spiritual audience, an inspired Scripture. The philosophical substance of the Upanishads demands at this day no farther stress of appreciation of its value; for even if the amplest acknowledgement by the greatest minds were wanting, the whole history of philosophy would be there to offer its evidence. The Upanishads have been the acknowledged source of numerous profound philosophies and religions that flowed from it in India like her great rivers from their Himalayan cradle fertilising the mind and life of the people and kept its soul alive through the long procession of the centuries, constantly returned to for light, never failing to give fresh illumination, a fountain of inexhaustible life-giving waters. Buddhism with all its developments was only a restatement, although from a new standpoint and with fresh terms of intellectual definition and reasoning, of one side of its experience and it carried it thus changed in form but hardly in substance over all Asia and westward towards Europe. The ideas of the Upanishads can be rediscovered in much of the thought of Pythagoras and Plato and form the profoundest part of Neo-platonism and Gnosticism with all their considerable consequences to the philosophical thinking of the West, and Sufism only repeats them in another religious language. The larger part of German metaphysics is little more in substance than an intellectual development of great realities more spiritually seen in this ancient teaching, and modern thought is rapidly absorbing them with a closer, more living and intense receptiveness which promises a revolution both in philosophical and in religious thinking; here they are filtering in through many indirect influences, there slowly pouring through direct and open channels. There is hardly a main philosophical idea which cannot find an authority or a seed or indication in these antique writings — the speculations, according to a certain view, of thinkers who had no better past or background to their thought than a crude, barbaric, naturalistic and animistic ignorance. And even the larger generalisations of Science are constantly found to apply to the truth of physical Nature formulas already discovered by the Indian sages in their original, their largest meaning in the deeper truth of the spirit.