[Advaita-l] Etymology of names of upanishad-s

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Sat Mar 22 19:27:35 CDT 2008

Interesting topic - would like to add the following
(as per notes from Swami Chinmayananada):

Mandukya Upanishad derives its name from its Seer Rshi
Manduka and belongs to the Atherva Veda.

There is a interesting theory about how the Mandukya
Mandukya lit means "frog" Frog is one animal that
remains in hibernation for nine to ten months a year
in the mud - in seclusion and quietude - they come out
in the rainy season and croak their message.
A true Sannyasin also lives for most of the year in
quiet seclusion in the HimalayAs and during the
ChaturMAsyA rainy season they come down to the plains
and preach the message of VedAnta to the world - and
their message is too is not that of a soft sentimental
dvaita, but a harsh uncut one of advaita.

Aitreya Up derives its name from the a seer mahidAsA -
son of a Brahmin born to his mother ItAra (meaning the
An interesting story in connection with this Up is of
this boy MahidAsa (servant of the soil) when he was
just 5 and his Brahmin father was conducting a Homa.
The boy wanted to go sit in the lap of his father -
but being the son of the "other" woman was denied this
privilege. The dejected child came sobbing to his
mother who gre enraged at this and fell to the ground
embracing her Ishta Devata - BhUmi-Devi.
At this point BhUmi Devi manifested herself and
initiated MahidAsA into BrahmavidyA.

Katha Up derives its name from Rshi Kathaka.

Also Upanishads can be classified into either Mantra
Upanshads and Brahmana Upanishads  - the former (e.g.
Isha Up) are terse and more authorative than the
latter which are more in the nature of a discursive
thesis (e.g. Brihad Up) - the Prashnopanishad is a
thus a Brahmana Upanishad - an explanatory secondary
scripture commenting upon the Mantra Up - the Mundaka
Up. -as has been already stated by Jaldhar-ji.

Pranams to all advaitins and Greetings on the festive
occasion of Holi.

Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyoh namah

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:

> On Fri, 21 Mar 2008, Ananta Bhagwat wrote:
> > Namaste,
> >
> > I was trying to trace etymology of names of
> pramANa upanishad-s:
> Interesting topic.
> >
> > (1) bRhadAraNyaka (bRhat = great upanishad)
> The last kanda of the Shatapatha Brahmana of the
> Shuklayajurveda is called 
> Brhadaranyaka.  Some sections of this are called
> Upanishad while the rest 
> are Aranyaka.
> > (2) chAndogya (chAndoga is the singer of sAma)
> Right, because this upanishad belongs to the
> kauthuma shakha of 
> the samaveda.
> > (3) taittirIya (sage tittira, the disciple of sage
> vaiSaMpAyana)
> Tittira means a kind of bird (I have seen sparrow or
> partridge as English 
> translations.)  When Yajnavalkya quarreled with
> Vaishampayana who 
> originally learned Yajurveda from Vedavyasa, he
> vommited up the mantras he 
> had learned and went away.  The other shishyas took
> the form of Tittiras 
> and took it up again founding the taittirIya shakha
> of krshnayajurveda.
> > (4) aitareya (sage aitareya mahidAsa)
> Yes.  It is part of the aitereya brahmana of the
> bashkala shakha of the 
> rgveda.
> > (5) kaTha (or kaThaka, etymology could not be
> traced)
> Katha is a shakha of krshnayajurveda that this
> upanishad belongs to.
> > (6) ISa (ISAvAsya the first word of the upanishad)
> Yes.  It is the last chapter of the Vajasaneyi
> samhita of the 
> Shuklayajurveda.
> > (7) kena (kena, the first word, by whom)
> Yes.  This upanishad is also called talavakara
> upanishad after the shakha 
> of samaveda it belongs to.
> > (8) muNDaka (root muND = to shave of (Ignorance))
> The upanishad of the shaven ones.  This upanishad
> belongs to 
> atharvaveda.  According to Shankaracharya, the
> atharvavedis had a vrata 
> which involved shaving their heads.
> > (9) praSna (questions)
> Yes.  Six questions are asked to Pippalada the
> shishya of Vedavyas who was 
> taught atharvaveda.  According to Shankaracharya,
> this upanishad is also a 
> sort of commentary on the mundaka which also belongs
> to atharvaveda as we 
> have noted.
> > (10) mANDUkya (maNDUka = toad, no further
> clarifications)
> This upanishad belongs to mandukya shakha of the
> atharvaveda.
> > (11) SvetASvetara (sage of the same name)
> And the shakha of krshnayajurveda he founded.
> > (12) kaushitaki (saMsArikam sukham yasya kushitaH
> eva kushitakaH...)
> It is part of the kaushitaki the kaushitaki brahmana
> of the sakala shakha 
> of rgveda.
> -- 
> Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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