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The Upanishads

The Upanishads are a collection of Vedic texts which contain the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. They are also known as Vedanta ("the end of the Veda"). They are regarded as the source of Vedanta and Samkhya philosophies. The Upanishads are considered by Hindus to contain revealed truths (Sruti) concerning the nature of ultimate reality (brahman) and describing the character and form of human salvation (moksha). The Upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas and have been passed down in oral tradition. More than 200 Upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main (mukhya) Upanishads. The mukhya Upanishads all predate the Common Era, possibly from the Pre-Buddhist period (6th century BC) down to the Maurya period. The remainder of the Muktika canon was mostly composed during medieval Hinduism, and new Upanishads continued being composed in the early modern and modern era, down to at least the 20th century. With the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra (known collectively as the Prasthanatrayi), the mukhya Upanishads provide a foundation for the several later schools of Vedanta, among them, two influential monistic schools of Hinduism. With the translation of the Upanishads in the early 19th century they also started to attract attention from a western audience. Schopenhauer praised the Upanishads. The 19th century transcendentalists, like Emerson and Thoreau, noted similarities between the doctrine of Upanishads and those of Plato and Kant.
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About the Author

Friedrich Max Muller (6 December 1823 - 28 October 1900), generally known as Max Muller, was a German-born philologist and Orientalist, who lived and studied in Britain for most of his life. He was one of the founders of the western academic field of Indian studies and the discipline of comparative religion. Muller wrote both scholarly and popular works on the subject of Indology and the Sacred Books of the East, a 50-volume set of English translations, was prepared under his direction. He also put forward and promoted the idea of a Turanian family of languages and Turanian people. Friedrich Max Muller was born on 6 December 1823 in Dessau, the son of Wilhelm Muller, a lyric poet whose verse Franz Schubert had set to music in his song-cycles Die schone Mullerin and Winterreise. His mother, Adelheid Muller (nee von Basedow), was the eldest daughter of a prime minister of Anhalt-Dessau. Carl Maria von Weber was a godfather. Muller was named after his mother's elder brother, Friedrich, and after the central character, Max, in Weber's opera Der Freischutz. Later in life, he adopted Max as a part of his surname, believing that the prevalence of Muller as a name made it indistinctive. However, the name is shown as "Maximilian" on several official documents (e.g. university register, marriage certificate), on some of his honours and in some other publications. Muller entered the gymnasium (high school) at Dessau when he was six years old. In 1839, after the death of his grandfather, he was sent to the Nicolai School at Leipzig, where he continued to pursue his studies of music and was also taught classics. It was during his time in Leipzig that he frequently met Felix Mendelssohn. In need of a scholarship to attend Leipzig University, Muller successfully sat his abitur examination at Zerbst, where he found the syllabus differed from what he had been taught previously, necessitating that he rapidly learn mathematics, modern languages and science. He entered Leipzig University in 1841 to study philology, leaving behind his early interest in music and poetry. Muller received his degree in 1843. His final dissertation was on Spinoza's Ethics. He also displayed an aptitude for classical languages, learning Greek, Latin, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit."

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