Authenticity of the Upanishads.

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Jun 16 16:01:17 CDT 1998

On Mon, 1 Jun 1998, Vivek Anand Ganesan wrote:

> NamashkAr,
>    I have seen some dissenting views about the antiquity of some of
> the upanishads.  Are all 108 of them accepted in the Advaitic
> tradition?

Although the traditional number is 108 there are considerably more texts
with that name floating around.

>  Why did SrI ShankarAcharya choose only a handful of them
> to comment on?

They are ones mentioned in the Brahmasutras.  But he does also quote from
others such as kaivalya and jabalopanishad.

>  Are there any later additions to this corpus?  Swami
> Nikhilanada has mentioned of atleast one - AllahOpanishad, written
> during Mughal times.  What criterion, if any, is used in determining
> the authenticity?

This business of dating is very unsystematic and mostly guesswork really
but there are some commonsense methods we can use to get at least some

First the Upanishads which are attached to a specific Vedic shakha are
undoubtedly real.  For instance the Ishopanishad is the 40th adhyaya of
the Vajasaneyi Samhita of the Shuklayajurveda.

We can look at the language and structure.  The language of Vedic texts
differs in some ways from Sanskrit and different phrasing and verses are
used.  If the upanishad has that style it is more likely to be genuine.

Subject matter can also help though this is more controversial as the
astika community themselves are divided as to whether the "real" meaning
of the upanishads is Advaita, Dvaita or something else.  But there are
certain themes common to all the main upanishads like vairagya, jnana etc.
and if a text diverges greatly from these topics we can conclude it is

I think the best criteria is to see what the great cholars of the past
have thought about it.  If they are inclined to accept its genuineness
then it probably is.  If many people quote it especially from different
time periods, it is stronger evidence than if it is only mentioned in one

But as I said, it's all guesswork.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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