About the Book :
The Upanishads are the central scriptures of Hinduism. They represent some of the most important literary products in the history of Indian culture and religion, both because they played a critical role in the development of religious ideas in India and because they are our greatest source for the religious, social, and intellectual history of ancient India. Composed at a time of great social, economic, and religious change, the Upanisads document the transition from the archaic ritualism of the Veda into new religious ideas and institutions. In the Introduction Olivelle provides a solid background for understanding these ancient documents. He examines both the social background of the Upanisads and their literary history: authorship, chronology, and geographical provenance. He describes the ritual practices and terminology, Vedic conceptions of the cosmos and of human physiology and psychology. Finally, Olivelle examines the central Upanisadic preoccupation of finding interconnections among the diverse elements of the universe. The copious notes present some of the most present philological and historical research on this material and give the reader detailed explanations of difficult passages. The list of names identifies all the major individuals and geographical names occurring in the Upanisads. Two charts present the texts of the Vedic corpus and the plan of the Vedic sacrificial arena. A map shows the geographical areas mentioned in the Upanisads and the places where the different Upanisads may have been composed. A detailed index of subjects is also provided. The first major English translation of the ancient Upanisads for over half a century, Olivelle's work incorporates the most recent historical and philological scholarship and presents the Sanskrit text and translation on facing pages. All major variant readings and emendations suggested by scholars are given in the notes, which, together with an informative introduction and detailed explanatory notes, make this edition ideal for both specialists and students of Indian religion and culture.