Upanishads :

Upanishad means the inner or mystic teaching. The term Upanishad is derived from upa (near), ni (down) and s(h)ad (to sit), that is, sitting down near. Groups of pupils sit near the teacher to learn from him the secret doctrine. Typically in the quietude of the forest hermitages the Upanishad thinkers pondered on life’s profound problems and deep concerns and communicated their insights to pupils, sitting down near them. Shankara derives the word Upanishad as derived from the root sad, which has three meanings: to destroy, to reach and to loosen. With upa and ni as prefixes and kvip as termination, the whole word then means the wisdom of Brahma (the ultimate reality) that destroys the seeds of ignorance, helps us reach the supreme truth, and loosens the (grip of) worldly ways of living. The treatises in the Vedas that deal with brahma-vidya (wisdom of the ultimate) are called the Upanishads. Since they are the final (anta) teachings of the Vedas, they are famous as Vedanta (Veda + anta).

   The Upanishads throw light on high themes like Self-realization. They also cover yoga, meditation, karma, reincarnation and eternal values like truth and righteous living. They are considered to belong to a time that is much before The Buddha (600 BC). Many sages (rishis) like Yajnavalkya are the teachers in the dialogues of Upanishads. Other names are Uddalaka Aruni, Pippalada, Sanat Kumara, Angiras and Lord Yama. Several ladies figure in the discussions. Maitreyi, Gargi and Jabala may be mentioned here. {See FAQ under HELP for more information.}