The Upanishads (Devanagari: उपनिषद्, IAST: upaniṣad) are regarded as part of the Vedas and as such form part of the Hindu scriptures. They primarily discuss philosophy, meditation, and the nature of God; they form the core spiritual thought of Vedantic Hinduism. Considered as mystic or spiritual contemplations of the Vedas, their putative end and essence, the Upanishads are known as Vedānta ("the end/culmination of the Vedas").
The Upanishads do not belong to a particular period of Sanskrit literature. The oldest, such as the Brhadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, may date to the Brahmana period (roughly before the 7th century BCE; before Gita was constructed), while the youngest, depending on the canon used, may date to the medieval or early modern period.
Relationship to Yoga
The Maitrayaniya Upanishad (2nd or 3rd century BC) defines Yoga as "The oneness of the breath and mind, and likewise of the senses, and the relinquishment of all conditions of existence" for the purpose of uniting Atman with Brahman". It presents a six-fold path including:
- (1) pranayama ("breath control")
- (2) pratyahara ("withdrawal of the senses from objects")
- (3) dhyana ("meditation")
- (4) dharama ("concentration")
- (5) tarka ("contemplation")
- (6) samadhi ("absorption")