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Swarupananda Saraswati and Shirdi Sai Baba

By Dashanami Sannyasins, Naga Sadhus, Shankara, Shirdi Sai Baba, Upasani Maharaj
Swami Swarupananda Saraswati
In June 2014, Swami Swarupananda Saraswati  commenced an ideological campaign against the deceased Shirdi Sai Baba (d.1918) and his living devotees. Many television newsreels and national newspapers profiled the relevant events.  
The Swami is a figurehead of the monastic Shankara Order, whose leaders are known as Shankaracharyas and jagadgurus (Cenkner 1983). In 1973, he became Shankaracharya of the monastery known as Jyotir Math, at Badrinath. In 1982, he also became the Shankaracharya of Dwaraka Math, located in Gujarat. These two monasteries have a high repute, being amongst the five major mathas of the Shankara (or Dashanami) Order. That organisation has strong traditional ballast, reputedly being a continuation of the activity of Shankara, the famous exponent of Advaita Vedanta who lived over a thousand years ago (Pande 1994).
Shirdi Sai Baba
Shirdi Sai Baba was a faqir living at a rural mosque in Maharashtra. He gained an inter-religious following of Hindus, Muslims, and Zoroastrians. This saint often resorted to allusive speech; he was not in any way doctrinaire. Some hagiology does attend his profile; careful investigation of background details is important in such instances. Sai Baba of Shirdi  is sometimes confused with Sathya Sai Baba (d.2011), a very different entity who lived in Andhra, claiming to be a reincarnation of the Shirdi mystic
After the death of Shirdi Sai, temple worship of his image was introduced at Shirdi. Other Shirdi Sai temples also appeared. Swami Swarupananda insisted that Shirdi Sai was a Muslim faqir, not a god or a guru, and therefore could not be worshipped in the manner of a Hindu deity. He declared that images of Shirdi Sai were to be removed from temples. Swarupananda described his campaign in terms of protecting Hindu religion. He urged that Shirdi Sai temples should not be constructed. The critic also described the worship of Shirdi Sai in terms of a conspiracy to divide Hindus. The assertions of this Swami were strongly repudiated by Shirdi Sai devotees. Complaints were already being made against him, in June 2014, at Shirdi, Indore, and Hyderabad.
The disapproving Swami enjoined Shirdi Sai devotees to ensure their purification by fasting on Ekadashi day and bathing in the Ganges. He condemned the government minister Uma Bharti, alleging that she was not a true Rama bhakta after Bharti spoke publicly in support of Shirdi Sai. Swarupananda demanded an apology from Bharti, on the grounds that Shirdi Sai was a meat-eater and did not bathe in the Ganges. He also urged that Shirdi Sai devotees should not worship Rama.
In July 2014, a law court at Indore issued a summons to the Swami, requesting him to appear before the judge, because of a complaint filed against him for making controversial statements. The Swami was able to postpone a legal confrontation for some time thereafter. He meanwhile urged the government to probe an alleged flow of foreign funding into the bank accounts of Sai devotees. Swarupanand insinuated that a foreign power was attempting, in this manner, to distort the sanatana dharma (true religion, i,e, Hinduism). There was no proof or confirmation for that extremist theory.
A degree of conflict occurred between followers of the Swami and devotees of Shirdi Sai. Supporters of Swami Swarupananda notably included Dashanami ascetics or sannyasins, strongly associated with the Shankara monasteries (Clark 2006). The Dashanamis are divided into ten sub-groupings, including the Giris, the Puris, the Bharatis, and Saraswatis. The format has proved complicated for many Westerners to understand, involving different historical phases, and various other ascetic identities. For instance, the Naga (naked) sannyasins, or sadhus, gained a strong militant complexion in former centuries, becoming organised into akharas or “regiments.” They fought in diverse battles, a military scenario which often astonishes readers (Pinch 2006). “The Nagas were also involved in warfare between rival princely states, usually fighting on opposite sides. Moreover, they fought for control of religious centres, since these constituted ever-flowing sources of revenue and solid bases of power” (Hartsuiker 1993:35).
Many of the Nagas cultivated ascetic feats and Yogic practices. Nagas still display weapons, especially the trident (trishul), at religious festivals such as the famous Kumbh Mela. “The Akharas attribute their origin to the great Shankara, an attempt no doubt to gain more respect and credibility” (Hartsuiker 1993:33). 
The Baghambari monastery (matha) was strongly influenced by Swami Swarupananda. The leader (mahant) of that monastery was Swami Narendra Giri, who “vowed to deface Shirdi Sai Baba’s temples, and let loose Naga Sadhus on the sect’s followers” (Chandan Nandy, Let Dialogue Prevail, 2014). Many observers in North India feared that the conflict between Nagas and Shirdi Sai devotees could get out of control. Fortunately, this did not happen. However, the tensions were dramatic enough. Indignant Shirdi Sai devotees responded to the threats by burning effigies of Swarupananda in the holy city of Varanasi (Benares).
Swami Swarupananda verbally attacked the Shirdi Sai Baba Trust, based in Shirdi. He accused this body of regarding the Shirdi saint as superior to Hindu deities like Hanuman. In October 2015, the Hindustan Times reported that Swarupananda “also claimed that there were no followers of Sai Baba in the country,” a theme which blatantly contradicted facts. The critic is reported to have described visitors to Shirdi as “mean, selfish and only want their wishes to come true.” The Swami expressed his belief that Hanuman had instructed his followers to build a Hanuman temple near every Shirdi Sai temple, with the intention of driving “the spirit of Sai” out of India.
Shirdi Sai devotees countered the opponent with legal petitions, emphasising his “deliberate intent to hurt religious sentiments.” As a consequence, in September 2015, Swami Swarupananda prudently tendered an apology for controversial statements he had made. He requested Madhya Pradesh High Court to dispose of a petition made against him. 
While staying in Bhopal during 2015, the Swami created a poster portraying Lord Hanuman attacking Shirdi Sai with a tree trunk. This pictorial gesture was considered extremist by some Hindu observers. A disciple of Swarupananda was reported, on the media, as saying that the influence of Shirdi Sai would be driven out of India in the next three years by the grace of Hanuman.
In April 2016, The Hindu reported reactions of Shirdi Sai devotees to the orthodox critique. Swarupananda had interpreted the temple worship of Shirdi Sai in terms of creating a drought in Maharashtra. Officials of the Shirdi Sai Baba Trust countered that the Shankaracharya appeared to be suffering from a feeling of insecurity. This was because so many devotees were visiting Shirdi, instead of seeking the darshan of Swami Swarupananda. 
The Swami is reported to have said, while staying at Hardwar: “The unworthy Sai is being worshipped while the real Gods are ignored. This is happening in Maharashtra, and particularly in Shirdi. Hence, Maharashtra is facing drought.” Shirdi Sai devotees responded that Swarupananda only wanted publicity. They pointed out that drought was also prevalent in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and the Punjab. A social worker, active at Shirdi, informed the press that the Sai Baba Trust had donated crores of rupees as charity aid whenever floods, earthquakes, and other calamities had struck Maharashtra and surrounding regions (The Hindu, “Sai Baba devotees fume over Shankaracharya’s remarks,” 2016).
Another pronouncement of the Swami, not relating to Shirdi Sai, was strongly resisted. In April 2016, he complained against the termination of a four hundred year ban on the entry of women to the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra. Feminists were very indignant at his verdict. A human rights lawyer said that Swami Swarupananda should be charged with contempt of court (Shriya Mohan, “Shankaracharya is a misogynist,” 2016). Swarupananda was contradicting a judgement of the Bombay High Court. 
The depiction of Shirdi Sai Baba, as a Muslim outsider to Hinduism, neglects due context of a very liberal attitude on the part of this faqir towards Hindus, and also to the members of other religions (Shepherd 2015). Shirdi Sai was not a preacher or political agitator. He lacked any sectarian bias. In this respect, his eccentricities may be considered refreshing. Shirdi Sai is described by a Western scholar as a Sufi mystic (Warren 1999). However, he did not project any separatist attitude in his predominant encounters with Hindus. His origins are obscure. An influential theory of his Hindu birth at Pathri remains unconfirmed (Kher 2001:1-14).
An account of Shirdi Sai’s devotional following, during the past century since his death, relays that the pilgrims to Shirdi are primarily Hindus, while also including Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians (McLain 2016). 
Very much neglected, in Swarupananda’s version of events, is the instance of Upasani Maharaj (d.1941). This entity was a major disciple of Shirdi Sai, subsequently establishing an ashram at nearby Sakori. The brahman saint Upasani is still largely obscure, as a consequence of abbreviated and distorted reports commonly known. A paradigmatic Hindu ascetic, he was completely unwesternised. 
During an evocative episode occurring at Benares in 1920, Upasani strongly defended Shirdi Sai, while in bold confrontation with an assembly of orthodox brahman priests and pundits. “He did not deny that Sai Baba was a Muslim, but maintained that the deceased saint was above religious distinctions, existing as much for brahmans as for Muslims” (Shepherd 2005:79). Upasani would not defer to the biases of that prestigious assembly, who were sustaining habitual religious discrimination against Muslims.
Moving to more general matters, some Indian intellectuals have expressed concern at national trends. For instance, the British-Indian sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor referred to a recent development in which “dozens of Indian writers handed back their literary awards in protest, following communal violence against Muslims and attacks on intellectuals” (Anish Kapoor, India is being ruled by a Hindu Taliban, 2015). The “militant Hinduism” of the nationalist Indian government, led by Narendra Modi, was here seen to be at risk of “marginalising other faiths” (ibid). The population statistics in India comprise about 965 million Hindus and 170 million Muslims.
Some Indian writers emphasise the extremely shocking 2002 attack on Muslims (by Hindus) in Gujarat, a tragedy in which “more than 2,000 Muslims were murdered, and tens of thousands rendered homeless in carefully planned and coordinated attacks of unprecedented savagery” (Pankaj Mishra, Gujarat Massacre, 2012).
The long-standing friction between Hinduism and Islam is a disconcerting drawback to Indian cultural unity and the history of religions.
Cenkner, William, A Tradition of Teachers: Sankara and the Jagadgurus Today (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1983). 
Clark, Matthew, The Dasanami Samnyasis: The Integration of Ascetic Lineages into an Order (Leiden: Brill, 2006). 
Hartsuiker, Dolf, Sadhus: Holy Men of India (London: Thames and Hudson, 1993). 
Kher, V. B., Sai Baba: His Divine Glimpses (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2001).
McLain, Karline, The Afterlife of Sai Baba: Competing Visions of a Global Saint (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2016). 
Pande, G. C., Life and Thought of Sankaracarya (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1994). 
Pinch, William R., Warrior Ascetics and Indian Empires (Cambridge University Press, 2006). 
Shepherd, Kevin R. D., Investigating the Sai Baba Movement (Dorchester: Citizen Initiative, 2005). 
——–Sai Baba of Shirdi: A Biographical Investigation (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2015). 
Warren, Marianne, Unravelling the Enigma: Shirdi Sai Baba in the Light of Sufism (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1999; revised edn, 2004).

Kevin R. D. Shepherd 

ENTRY no. 71 

Copyright © 2017 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Shankara and Advaita

By Advaita Vedanta, Brahma Sutra Bhashya, Dashanami Sannyasins, Gaudapada, Shankara, Upanishads
Shankara with disciples, by Raja Ravi Varma (1904)
Advaita Vedanta signifies an Indian philosophy of “non-dualism.” A major exponent was Shankara, of whom very little is reliably known. The investigator has to negotiate hagiographies composed many centuries after the death of this figure. His life is not easy to chart, to say the least, despite conventional depictions that do not question details. The dates of Shankara are sometimes given as 788-820 CE, but this is not definitive. One alternative has been suggested in terms of ranging between 650 and 775 CE (Pande 1994:52). A member of the brahman caste, Shankara was reputedly born at a village in Kerala.
We may believe that he became a renunciate at an early age. Tradition credits Shankara with establishing a monastic organisation.  This is known as the Shankara Order. Over the centuries,  major monasteries featured abbots bearing the title of Shankaracharya. The Shringeri monastery (in Karnataka) is one of these far-flung centres, gaining the repute of being the first monastery founded by Shankara. This claim has been contradicted by the historical evidence for Shringeri as a centre of Jainism until the fourteenth century (Kulke 1985). At this juncture, Hindu patronage from the kingdom of Vijayanagara was influential. Shringeri emerged as a centre of Shaivism. Land was donated by Hindu monarchs for the purpose of  attracting brahmans to that location. 
In the traditional version of his life, Shankara is said to have established the group of Shaiva renouncers known as Dashanami sannyasins (and nagas). This contingent, strongly associated with the Shankara Order, gained a militant complexion. A counter-suggestion argues for the late sixteenth/early seventeenth century as a much more probable date of their formation (Clark 2006 and 2016). Mercenary armies of naga (naked) sannyasins  were generally recruited from the lower castes.
Traditional ascriptions are reflected in such coverages as: “During his lifetime he [Shankara] managed to compose more than 400 works of various genres and to travel throughout nearly all of South India, edifying disciples and disputing opponents. It is Shankara’s preaching and philosophic activity that, in the eyes of orthodox tradition, accounts for the ultimate ousting of Buddhism from India” (Isayeva 1993:2).
Legendary biographies of Shankara date from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. “Although they have certain broad similarities, they have numerous contradictions in detail, and they are full of miracles and exaggerations” (Pande 1994:4). The accounts vary markedly in relation to diverse journeys, pilgrimages, debates, and the founding of monastic centres (ibid:32). Shankara became celebrated as an incarnation of Shiva, a development of uncertain date. Shankara hagiography involved “the mythical pattern of divine incarnation, disputation with rival sects and schools, the establishment of new temples and monastic centres of worship, and the synthesis of Smarta-Puranic cults under the aegis of Advaita” (ibid:19-20).
Hundreds of works are attributed to Shankara. However, most of these are now thought to have been composed by much later monastic leaders bearing the title of Shankaracharya. Paul Hacker and other scholars have taken a duly critical approach. The fact is that only a small number of Advaita texts can safely be regarded as the output of Shankara himself. In this respect, the basic work is a lengthy commentary (bhashya) on the Vedantic Brahma Sutra. Famous later compositions (even Vivekachudamani) are rejected by some analysts as spurious. Such popular texts were influential in shaping the Advaita doctrine, which developed over a long period of time. 
In his commentary known as Brahma Sutra Bhashya, Shankara was in strong opposition to Buddhism and the Purva Mimamsa tradition of Hinduism. He was concerned with the correct interpretation of Vedic scripture, in which direction he sought to reveal opposing views as errors.
Shankara argued against the ritualism of Mimamsaka exponents. He supported a version of religion associated with the Upanishads or jnana-kanda. An Advaita priority was discrimination (viveka) between the real and the false. Whereas ritual priests elaborated a belief system based on merits derived from Vedic ceremonies, which supposedly led to heaven. Shankara emphasised the attainment of self-knowledge, meaning knowledge (jnana) of the atman.
The Vedantic doctrine of maya (illusion) has excited varying responses, including denial. Renouncers or sannyasins viewed the householder ritualist lifestyle as being bound by maya. The sannyasin sought freedom through knowledge of the atman (a term variously translated). The various texts do not satisfactorily explain how the self-knowledge is achieved. The mere affirmation of Upanishadic slogans like Tat tvam asi (You are That) is not the most convincing rationale. This famous phrase is found in some Shankara texts, along with modifications.
Absolute liberation does not arise when one is told, ‘Thou art That.’ One should, therefore, have recourse to the reiteration (of the idea, ‘I am Brahman’) and support it with reasoning. (Upadeshasahasri, trans. Jagadananda 1961:207)
“The Brahma Sutra has actually become the basis upon which we learn the philosophical thought of the early Vedanta school. Since, however, the style of this work is concise to a fault, omissions in it are many and to interpret the text is not at all easy” (Nakamura 1983:425). The brevity is pronounced. “Each sutra usually consists of two to ten words at the most, and it is rare to find one that is longer” (ibid:440).
Shankara contributed an Advaitic interpretation of the Brahma Sutra. A discrepancy requires attention. “The theory of absolute identity of the individual self and Brahman, taught by Shankara, is contrary to the thought of the Brahma-sutra itself” (ibid:427). Paul Deussen and other scholars tended to conflate the two interpretations, leading to some confusion (e.g., Deussen 1912).
The early Vedanta was not a unified tradition of exegesis. “Scholars have frequently asserted that the thought of Shankara has the closest connection with the atman theory of Yajnavalkya in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad” (Nakamura 1983:430). The Brihadaranyaka is one of the earliest Upanishads, substantially antedating the Brahma Sutra, which may date to the fifth century CE in the extant form of that terse treatise.
The obscure author, or authors, of the Brahma Sutra, were defending the old Vedic religion against the Buddhists, Jainas, Sankhya rationalists, and others. “The evident preference of the authors of the Brahma Sutra was for the daily performance of the Vedic ritual to be maintained along with the meditations on more symbolic aspects of etiquette” (Shepherd 1995:642).
Shankara likewise sustained a contest with rival religious doctrines. However, he differed from the Brahma Sutra by contesting the ritualist mentality evident in that version of early Vedanta. He awarded a secondary status to Vedic texts depicting meditation on rituals (those texts referred to deities presiding over specific ceremonies).
Shankara’s classic Brahma Sutra Bhashya includes a critique of the Yoga and Sankhya systems of philosophy. However, Shankara is traditionally credited with a commentary on the Yoga Sutra. The anomaly has aroused differing explanations, including one which suggests that Shankara transited from the standpoint of a Yoga expositor to Advaita comprehension. Another interpretation denies the authorship of Shankara in relation to that commentary (Rukmani 2001).
“In his commentary on the Chandogya Upanishad (8.12.1), he [Shankara] refers to the Paramahamsa monks who transcended caste and ashrama in their pursuit of the non-dual knowledge. These ascetics are identified with the ‘true tradition’ which he says Gaudapada followed. For Shankara, they alone represented the ultimate level of truth” (Shepherd 1995:666). Shankara’s monastic ideal of the Paramahamsa involved criteria of “actual spiritual attainment, not his formal membership of a social group” (Pande 1994:247).
The name of Gaudapada is inseparably associated with Shankara, as a predecessor. A distinctive early Advaitin,  Gaudapada may have lived during the sixth century CE. He composed an unusual commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad, exhibiting a familiarity with Mahayana thought associated with exponents like Nagarjuna and Asanga (Nakamura 1983:51). The fourth chapter is rich in Madhyamaka and Yogachara terminology, prompting a suggestion of authorship by another writer (King 1995).
Unlike the authors of the Brahma Sutras, Gaudapada insists very strongly on the illusory or phenomenal character of the world, and claims that in this he is only following an earlier tradition for the interpretation of the Upanishadic texts. The existence of earlier followers of the Upanishads who held this view is confirmed by Bhartrhari, late fifth century…. Gaudapada says: ‘Those who are experts in the Upanishadic wisdom look upon this world as if it were a cloud-city seen in a dream.’ The sages who have gone beyond fear, attachment and anger have the direct experience of the truth of non-duality, in which all plurality and illusion vanishes. (Alston 1980:24-25) 


Alston, A. J., Samkara on the Absolute (London: Shanti Sadan, 1980).
Cenkner, William, A Tradition of Teachers: Shankara and the Jagadgurus Today (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1983). 
Clark, Matthew, The Dasanami Samnyasis: The Integration of Ascetic Lineages into an Order (Leiden: Brill, 2006).
——–“Religious Sects, Syncretism, and Claims of Antiquity: The Dashanami-Sannyasis and South Asian Sufis” in Raziuddin Aquil and David L. Curley, eds., Literary and Religious Practices in Medieval and Early Modern India (New York: Routledge 2016).
Cole, Colin A., Asparsa Yoga: A Study of Gaudapada’s mandukya karika (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2004).
Deussen, Paul, Das System des Vedanta, 1883; The System of the Vedanta, trans. Charles Johnston (Chicago: Open Court, 1912).
Gambhirananda, Swami, trans., Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Shankaracharya (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1965).
Halbfass, Wilhelm, ed., Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedanta (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995). 
Isayeva, Natalia, Shankara and Indian Philosophy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993). 
Jagadananda, Swami, trans., Upadeshasahasri of Sri Sankaracharya (third edn, Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1961).
King, Richard, Early Advaita Vedanta: The Mahayana Context of the Gaudapadiya Karikas (State University of New York Press, 1995).
Kulke, Hermann, “Maharajas, Mahants and Historians: Reflections on the Historiography of Early Vijayanagara and Sringeri” (120-143) in A. L. Dallapiccola and S. Zingel-Ave Lallemant, eds., Vijayanagara, City and Empire: New Currents of Research (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1985). 
Nakamura, Hajime, A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy, Parts 1 and 2 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1983-2004).
Nikhilananda, Swami, trans., The Mandukyopanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika and Sankara’s Commentary (third edn, Mysore: Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, 1949).
Pande, G. C., Life and Thought of Sankaracarya (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1994).
Potter, K. H., ed., Advaita Vedanta Up to Samkara and his Pupils (Princeton University Press, 1981).
Rukmani, T. S., text and trans., Yogasutrabhasyavivarana of Sankara (2 vols, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2001).
Shepherd, Kevin R. D., Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One: Zoroastrianism and the Indian Religions (Cambridge: Philosophical Press, 1995).

Kevin R. D. Shepherd

ENTRY no. 70

Copyright © 2016 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Upanishads and Vedanta

By Jnana-Marga, Katha Upanishad, Maha-Narayana Upanishad, Sannyasa Upanishads, Shankara
The texts known as Upanishads are traditionally described in terms of jnana-marga, the path of knowledge. Jnana is strongly associated with the ongoing tradition of Vedanta, one of the celebrated six schools of Indian philosophy. The classical Upanishads became known as Vedanta, meaning the end of the Veda. The word Vedanta “was understood to mean not just the end but also the summit and crown of the Veda” (Olivelle 1992:3). These books received later commentaries from medieval exponents like Shankara
The classical Upanishads number 12 or 13, with many others of a minor rating. The classical or principal texts are much earlier than the monastic organisations created by medieval Vedanta. Those texts are difficult to date; assessments of chronology have varied markedly. The oldest Upanishads were apparently pre-Buddhist, but many others were later in time. Radhakrishnan favoured a date of 900-600 BC for the earliest of these texts, with Western scholarship tending to reduce the time scale to circa 700-500 BC. Some experts emphasise that all such datings are provisional.
Jnana-marga is often distinguished from karma-marga, meaning the path of ritual action, represented by earlier Vedic works of the Sanskrit corpus. All these texts, composed in North India, were preserved by the brahmanical caste. However, different influences and temperaments are represented. The early Upanishads feature monism, and also refer to transmigration. 
According to the Sanskrit scholar Jan Gonda (1905-1991), the Rig Veda, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the earliest Upanishads must have existed (at least for the greater part) in their present form prior to the rise of Buddhism (Gonda 1975:20). 
The Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya are prose Upanishads, thought to be the earliest in the series. These texts were compiled and edited; some components employed may be considerably older. As with later Upanishads, they are not books presenting any philosophical system, such as the retrospective Vedanta schools developed. A flexibility in approach to the materials is necessary.
The lengthy Brihadaranyaka is the oldest Upanishad. Various translations exist, one of the clearest being Olivelle 1996:3-94. The Upanishads are not always transparent to the modern reader. “Give me a real explanation of the brahman that is plain and not cryptic, of the self [atman] that is within all” (Olivelle 1996:39). The atman-brahman teachings are now widely celebrated, with many simplistic explanations created by  commercial interests. 
“The Upanishads present several different, and sometimes conflicting, teachings about the nature of the self [atman]” (Black 2007:1). This factor is significant, prompting a more critical discussion than is often the case. Mere familiarity with texts is discounted. In the Chandogya, Narada approaches Sanatkumara for instruction. The intending pupil says that he is familiar with the Vedas. Narada also discloses that he is “a knower of the mantras, but not a knower of the self (atman)” (ibid). Exactly how the atman becomes known is elusive. The saying tat vam asi (you are that) traditionally signifies knowledge of atman. Strongly associated with the Chandogya, this simple phrase has achieved widespread fluency. Western enthusiasts have been known to repeat the favoured phrase and imagine they have “realised the atman.”
The earliest Upanishads appear to be the source of a transmigration theme, regarded by some scholars as a notable Upanishadic breakthrough from Vedic ritualism. The key concepts of karman (karma), moksha (liberation), and rebirth (reincarnation) are here in profile. Terms like karman and moksha also appear in Vedic texts prior to the Upanishads. Indeed, some scholars have supported a theory of Vedic origins in this respect. However, the “return on earth” is only found in the Upanishads (Bodewitz 2019). As a broad denominator, one seems justified in separating the “ritualistic” Brahmana texts from the “philosophical” Upanishads. The format of Upanishads has been compared to Pre-Socratic philosophy (Black 2007:4). 
The Aranyakas and Upanishads are also firmly rooted in ritual, but with both groups of texts there is an increasing emphasis on understanding the meaning of ritual, while some sections of the Upanishads seem to move completely away from the ritual setting into naturalistic and philosophical enquiry. (Brian Black, “The Upanishads,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
While some Western scholars discerned in the Upanishads a spirit of revolt against priestly ritualism, other Indologists (notably Renou) muted this factor in a context of priestly supplements to the earlier Brahmana literature (perhaps commencing circa 900 BC). Different angles can be followed here. According to Louis Renou (1896-1966), “Vedism became debased to the level of crude witchcraft owing to magical ideas which left their mark on the Brahmanas, to the extent that one of these texts is given up to magic, as with part of the Atharva Veda” (Shepherd 1995:552). 
Rig Veda
The Vedic samhitas are collections of verses, including the famous Rig Veda corpus of over a thousand hymns (Gonda 1963). Dating for the formation of Rig components has varied considerably. A sober estimate is 1400-1000 BC, the attendant poetic conventions being very much older (Brereton and Jamison 2014, 1:5). Rig poets are variously described as brahman, kavi, vipra, and rishi (ibid:24). The most well known of these role names is rishi, liable to be confusing in that the same term is also employed for Upanishadic sages of a later era. In a more sacerdotal context, the Rig Veda “belongs to the Hotar priest, who recites or chants the poetry” (ibid:4). The Rig contents are “primarily hymns praising various gods and ritual elements and procedures, designed to be recited during ritual performance” (ibid:3). The Upanishadic milieu was different, increasingly more removed from the rites. 
“The Rgveda is first of all a liturgical text” (ibid:25). Many Rig hymns were composed for rituals, especially the soma ceremony. The identity of the soma plant is still debated. The Iranian counterpart was haoma, discussed in relation to archaic Zoroastrianism. Alcohol has been dismissed. The basic alternatives are (a) soma as stimulant, and (b) soma as hallucinogen. If a stimulant, then ephedra is likely (this plant was used in Zoroastrian ritual of recent times). The theories about soma as hallucinogen vary from suggestions of fly agaric mushroom to mountain rue (peganum harmala), likewise exercising psychoactive properties. “Neither the imagery of the poems nor the vision of the poets requires a hallucinogen to explain them” (ibid:32).

“There is no evidence in the Rgveda for an elaborate, much-subdivided, and over-arching caste system such as pertains in classical Hinduism” (ibid:57). Generally considered a late addition is Rig X.90, the Purushasukta (Hymn of the Man), referring to a fourfold system of class (varna) that subsequently dominated Hinduism (Sharma 1978).

Ashvamedha Horse Sacrifice

A form of state religion developed after the Rig era, during centuries when the Vedas were collected and codified. Animal sacrifice, though not prominent in the Rig, now emerged as a major feature of Hinduism. Vast numbers of animals were killed in royal and priestly rites attending the shrauta system. Particularly notorious is the royal ashvamedha, a horse sacrifice “performed by a king to consolidate or display his power” (Brereton and Jamison 2014, 1:33). A stallion roamed at will for a year, accompanied by warriors intending to attack the rulers of any land entered by the horse. When the stallion returned home, this animal was sacrificed alongside numerous other victims, “with almost unimaginably outlandish accompanying actions” (ibid).

The ashvamedha was one of the four most important Vedic rites (Gonda 1966:110-14), alongside the soma sacrifice, construction of the fire altar, and royal inauguration (rajasuya). The major source is the Shatapatha Brahmana (Zaroff 2005:75). In the Rig, only two animals are to be sacrificed, whereas in Shatapatha, “as many as fifteen different creatures are involved” (ibid:84). Ritual dismembering of the horse was supervised by the Hotar priest, who invoked many deities. Proper performance of the ritual was believed to ensure stability and continuity of the kingdom (ibid:78). “Ashvamedha was an important element in legitimising territorial expansion and maintaining the monarch’s prestige” (ibid:79). Both the Roman and Indian variants of this sacrifice are thought to have preserved older Indo-European concepts (an Irish parallel is also on record in twelfth century CE Ulster). 

To some extent interpretable as a bizarre excuse to conquer rival kingdoms, the ashvamedha typifies the growth of caste society and bloodthirsty ritualism detested by dissident shramana philosophers like Gautama Buddha. Somewhere in between were the Hindu forest rishis commemorated by the Buddhist era Upanishads.

Some of the Upanishads imply what Shankara later emphasises so strongly: all Vedic rituals, including the ashvamedha, amount to ignorance (avidya), while even the priestly heaven or brahma-loka is but a pocket of samsara, the vast cycle of existence and transmigration.

Brahmanas and Aranyakas

Meanwhile, the more orthodox Brahmanas were composed, these being  prose texts featuring diverse explanations of Vedic rituals. The Jaiminiya Brahmana, dating to circa 800 BC, is “an almost untapped treasure trove of a variety of information” (Schwerda 2017:5). During a period of extensive social and political transition, the priestly ritualism is revealed as a stridently dominant programme including sinister elements. In the Jaiminiya rationale: “Brahmins claim the first place in society for themselves, arguing that they are the only ones who possess the necessary knowledge to perform [ritual] sacrifices” (ibid:2). Those ceremonies were the means “to fulfil personal desires for more cattle or sons” (ibid). Moreover, the priests exercised a ritual cursing of opponents that was believed to be deadly.

Cursing rivals, priests, or even the sacrificer himself does not seem to have carried any stigma. Rituals are routinely modified to achieve negative outcomes for the persons cursed…. Numerous different rituals could be changed to become malevolent. Instead of long life, wealth, or offspring, the modified rituals could be performed to harm or kill an opponent, or to bereave him of his descendants. If the frequency and the distribution of these actions throughout the Jaiminiya Brahmana are anything to go by, the practice must have been rather widespread. (Schwerda 2017:121)

Any conscientious objector might have encountered strong resistance from ritualists. The lucrative arrangement between priests and kings was cemented by ritual. The façade of elitist propaganda tended to conceal a situation causing shock to some modern readers steeped in mythology, mantras, and meditation:

There were no less than seventeen types of priest officiating at royal sacrifices, though the brahman gradually gained dominance, and towards the end of the Vedic era, was able to claim half the sacrificial fee accruing to the priesthood. This fee had now become richer in content. In earlier times cattle had been the common gift, but agricultural advances meant that surplus grain was made available for payment as tax to the king, who transferred a substantial share of his wealth to the brahmans in accord with the growing etiquette in such matters. In addition to the gifts comprising cattle, horses, and women slaves, the priests were now able to acquire grain, cloth, elephants, gold, and silver. In the Aitareya Brahmana, one sacerdotal expert is reported to have received a royal coronation gift including many thousands of maidservants wearing gold necklaces. (Shepherd 1995:524)

Explanatory texts related to the Brahmanas came to be called Aranyakas (i.e., to be recited in the wilderness outside the village). These texts were apparently considered unorthodox or speculative, not strictly related to the Veda. “Cosmological and metaphysical topics generally occupy a more central position in the Upanishads, however, than in the Aranyakas, and the Upanishads are, by and large, later than the Aranyakas” (Olivelle 1996:xxxii). The Upanishads were not written down “for perhaps a thousand years” (ibid). During the oral interim, many cultural and social transitions occurred, including an increased rigidity of the caste system (Jha 1975). The competition between Hinduism and Buddhism became pronounced, with the additional complexity of Jainism. 

A Kshatriya Issue

The dialogues found in the Upanishads feature members of both the brahman and kshatriya classes, meaning priests and aristocrats. In some passages, priests are worsted in debate by the royal class. This textual feature led to modern scholarly arguments about the two rival power groups. On one side, the royal class is viewed as the origin of daring new teachings. On the other, a conclusion of fictitious casting is urged.   

It is naïve, therefore, to accept the literary evidence of the Upanishads regarding their Kshatriya authorship at face value and as historical fact…. There must have been political, religious, economic, and even literary reasons for including or creating these episodes…. The most we can say is that some segments of the Brahmanical community must have perceived it as advantageous to present doctrines they favoured as coming from the royal elite. (Olivelle 1996:xxxv)

Such contrasting specialist approaches encourage a critical view. What are the facts? Many priests apparently desired a successful career by means of royal patronage conferring benefits. This does not mean that they achieved enlightenment or brahmavidya. The court priests were doubtless skilled in debate. However, evocation of the atman may often have amounted to a convenient rhetorical exercise.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

The Brihadaranayaka is actually the last section of the Shatapatha Brahmana. Preserved in two recensions, this Upanishad locates to North India, more specifically, the land of Videha, north of the Ganges (today in Bihar). Dialogues present the priestly sage Yajnavalkya in conversation with his patron, the monarch Janaka, a legendary figure eventually gaining repute as a “knower of Brahman.”  The priest  is gifted with a large number of cows for his services in brahmodya (debate). This role of court priest was apparently a new occupation superseding the Vedic routine of ritual sacrifice. Yajnavalkya defeats in theological debate visiting brahmans from the Kuru-Panchala region (Black 2007:67-100). Yajnavalkya also instructs his wife Maitreyi (he had two wives).

There was no doubt more education potential in court debates than in the ritual compound. Nevertheless, drawbacks evidently prompted the compiler of Brihadaranyaka to include the story of “proud Balaki,” alias Gargya. This priest was keen to petition the king of Kashi (Varanasi), gaining the prospect of a thousand cows for his tuition. “Now I will tell you all about Brahman.” His verbal performance did not prove convincing. As a consequence, Balaki asked the monarch to teach him (Olivelle 1996:23-5; cf. Shepherd 1995:537).

The low status of women was relieved by the instance of Gargi, daughter of Vachaknu (Black 2007:150-155). This learned lady is profiled in the Brihadaranyaka as a disputant with Yajnavalkya at Videha. She is persistent in her questioning. The male contestant is nevertheless depicted as the superior exponent. Gargi becomes silent after telling the assembly: “None of you will ever defeat him [Yajnavalkya] in a theological debate” (Olivelle 1996:46). There is no doubt of the winner in this weighted cameo. Gargi evidently came from the brahman class, unlike the maidservants and female slaves glimpsed more amorphously in the sources.

Like Yajnavalkya and other brahmodya contestants described, Gargi was also competing for the royal gift of cattle, their horns reputedly bedecked with “pieces of gold.” These debating events were recounted in a format appealing to a high class audience, meaning brahmans on the oral transmission circuit. The professed knowledge of atman obtained a lavish royal endowment. The Upanishads do not describe how the contrasting trend of renunciation occurred outside court circles. The priestly texts do not provide history, only doctrine, lore, anecdotes, and metaphor. 

The “other side of the argument” is missing. One can invoke a much later instance of disparity. The two major European philosophers of the seventeenth century were very different in their orientation. Even a yokel might ask: “We know what happened to Leibniz, a polymathic genius at a baroque royal court, well paid for his services. What about Spinoza in his more remote and independent tangent?”

Many priests were typical exemplars of the householder lifestyle, accumulating wealth as ritualists, while emphasising continuation of the male line in their family. Male progeny were considered very desirable. Yajnavalkya “represents a challenge to this ideal as the priest who debates in the court and leaves his household without any male heirs” (Black 2007:173).

The Brihadaranyaka contradicts an orthodox belief that only married priests with sons can achieve salvation or  knowledge of atman. This foil anticipated the Buddhist critique of Brahmanism (Black 2007:173). Moreover, both Gautama Buddha and Yajnavalkya abandoned a career of riches at court for a life of renunciation (ibid:174). Yajnavalkya employs a distinctive phraseology of atman before his reputed transition to the role of sannyasin or renouncer. His renunciate role escapes description; only court events figure in the dialogues. The atman teaching is highlighted in figurative passages of Brihadaranayaka, for example:

This very self (atman) is the lord and king of all beings. As all the spokes are fastened to the hub and the rim of a wheel, so to one’s self (atman) are fastened all beings, all the gods, all the worlds, all the breaths, and all these bodies. (Olivelle 1996:32)

In the same text are very mundane injunctions for sexual intercourse in the case of those desiring progeny. The directions include a ritual procedure designed to curse a man “whom he hates,” meaning a transgressor who flirts with the wife of a priest. The curse was intended to afflict, the recipient of the curse being “sure to depart from this world bereft of his virility and stripped of his good works” (ibid:89-90). The compromising passage is missing from an abridgment of the same Upanishad, found in a well known translation conveying the impression of a celibate vocation. “No longer desiring progeny, nor wealth, nor life in other worlds, they entered upon the path of complete renunciation” (Prabhavananda 1957:111).

The earliest Upanishads are anthologies, to some extent probably reflecting the personal taste of compilers. Householder priests desiring progeny were maintaining the caste system and gender bias. They may have been partial to the idea of an effulgent atman associated with liberation (moksha), their commitment nevertheless being in question. The Kaushitaki Upanishad is another very early text, part of the Kaushitaki Brahmana (Bodewitz 2002). This compilation includes rituals to secure the welfare of progeny, a rite to secure personal welfare, and another rite to make the subject a favourite of others (Olivelle 1996:208, 209-211). Some modern scholars have lamented such semi-magical preoccupations.

Even though the Upanishadic authors sometimes speak vehemently against the Vedic ritual, these documents are so closely connected with it [the ritual] that it is impossible to understand them without some knowledge of Vedic ritual practice and vocabulary. Just like the Brahmanas, the Upanishads seek to explain the hidden meanings and connections of ritual actions and words. (Olivelle 1996:xli)

The Brihadaranyaka commences with a description of the anatomical parts of a sacrificial horse. The text is closely related to the Yajur Veda. The horse passage is “consistent again with the fact that the Adhvaryu, the Yajurvedic priest, is in charge of butchering the sacrificial animal” (ibid:95).

Long term Plight of Dalits

While ritual priests maintained their elaborate sacrificial lifestyle, the caste system was forming over centuries. Eventually, there were vast numbers of “untouchables” (Dalits), a sector so depressed that for brahmans to encounter their shadow was a criminal offence. The celebrated pro-atman phrase tat tvam asi (You are That) did not apply to Dalits, who had no existence for the social elite. The sacred scriptures were not available to women and shudras (servants), let alone untouchables. “You are consigned to oblivion” was the effective message for a severely marginalised population.

Katha Upanishad

A group of early verse Upanishads date to the late first millennium BC. These classical works are noted for featuring strong theistic tendencies, thus anticipating the Bhagavad Gita, claimed by the Vedanta as a basic scripture (Buitenen 1981). These texts are the Kena, Katha, Isha, Shvetashvatara, and Mundaka Upanishads. Shvetashvatara is an eclectic work utilising Sankhya-Yoga and other themes in the compass of 113 verses (or mantras), one of which states: “Those who know Him through the faculty of intuition as thus seated in their heart, become immortal” (Tyagishananda 1971:101).
The Katha includes a dialogue between the young brahman Nachiketas and Yama, the god of death. The former asks to be told the secret of death, in a spirit of renouncing the distractions of mortal life. Yama then gives advice concerning knowledge of the atman and Brahman. One verse is translated as: “The truth of the Self cannot be fully understood when taught by an ignorant man, for opinions regarding it, not founded in knowledge, vary one from another. Subtler than the subtlest is this Self [atman], and beyond all logic. Taught by a teacher who knows the Self and Brahman as one, a man leaves vain theory behind and attains to truth” (Prabhavananda 1957:17).
The same text emphasises the difficulty of the achievement involved. “Like the sharp edge of a razor, the sages say, is the path” (ibid:20). Numerous commercial attempts to simplify these matters have occurred during recent decades, resulting in many blunt razors and dead end paths, one may suppose. 
Sannyasa or Renunciation
Many Upanishads include reference to renunciation (sannyasa). This extension included the lifestyle of a wandering mendicant (pravrajika). A forest hermit role was another option. Renunciation practices ran counter to Vedic ritualism and curses. Two key ideals were celibacy (brahmacharya) and non-violence (ahimsa). The sannyasa code may have been influenced by the earlier figure of the muni, denoting a mendicant category reported in the Rig Veda. The muni wore his hair long, one of the identifying features found long after amongst Hindu holy men. Sannyasa was eventually codified in the law books, becoming a rigid convention.
The proliferating literature of dharmashastra includes legal administration. This corpus was created during the lengthy period circa 600 BC to circa 200 AC. Some draconian punishments are imposed, remote from ahimsa. Stealing the gold of a brahman priest was a dire crime meriting death. Women were rendered strictly subservient to men. The age-based ashrama system, or “four stages of life,” was a component of some texts. The Laws of Manu decree that after grandchildren are born, the family man should retire to the forest. Then, as a sannyasin, he should walk without food or water until he dies. The horizons of high caste lawgivers leave much to be desired. Originally, the four stages were simply alternative lifestyles, not sequential stages based upon age (e.g., a 70 year old grandparent for the stage of  sannyasa).
Some Westerners were subject to a mirage created by traditional Indian beliefs. The popular idea that India was unchanging does not fit the reality discernible. “Even an institution seemingly as immutable as the ashrama system has undergone drastic change over time” (Olivelle 1993:244). 
The Maha-Narayana Upanishad is thought to have been composed during the third or fourth centuries BC. This is a manual for ascetics employing many quotations from older works (Varenne 1960). The text is sometimes classified as Vaishnava (denoting affiliation with the deity Vishnu). This minor but early Upanishad can be interpreted as a brahmanical attempt to harmonise the ascetic and ritual lifestyles, thereby facilitating a tendency in Hindu society to assimilate the numerous ascetics and hermits (Gonda 1970:29). Very little is known of this trend in any reliable detail. The developing Hindu ashrama system (stages of life) incorporated the sannyasin vocation in a manner that might be compared to a straitjacket. This brahmanical acceptance of renunciation does not appear to have occurred until about the second century BC (Olivelle 1993:94). 
These ascetics, whose way of life may be assumed to have, at least originally, been distinctly different from the habits and practices of the sacrificial priests, prefer the mental and internal “fire-sacrifice with breath,” the so-called pranagnihotra, instead of the real [external] fire-sacrifice. (Jan Gonda, review of Varenne 1960, in Indo-Iranian Journal (1963) 6(3/4):298-301, p. 298)
“The utter reduction of sacrifice in the pranagnihotra is the end station of Vedic ritualism” (Heestermann 1985:94). The ascetic renunciates withdrew from society, shunning the daily agnihotra, a pervasive Vedic fire sacrifice, which they replaced with a meal. The substitute was dubbed the “internal fires of the breaths.” The agnihotra oblation of milk on a sacred fire was a simple rite, performed twice daily. The Hindu ascetic desire for a different lifestyle was commemorated in a minor Upanishad named Pranagnihotra (Deussen 1980, 2:645-51).  The compact text urges that all the gods are within the human body via the internalised ritual. The more radical Buddhist monks argued for anatman, meaning the denial of atman.
The aphoristic nature of Upanishadic composition has caused Western analysts to complain of the lack of any systematic philosophy…. The classical Upanishads… are fond of riddles and enigmatic expressions, and the doctrines of various sages are apt to be condensed into a single sentence. Brahmavidya (knowledge of Brahman) or jnana is depicted as being vastly superior to sacrificial etiquette, and realisation of that knowledge is duly stressed. This objective is inseparable from the aid of a teacher, and is related to tapasya or ascetic discipline. A strict discipline was clearly envisaged, and in some texts it is stated that only brahmans are eligible. The prerequisite for discipleship was evidently a high moral standard, one necessary to maintain a rigorous self-discipline. Meditation is emphasised, but there are many different formats referred to…. The end product of the discipline was the jivanmukta (a standard term in the later Upanishads), i.e., the soul gaining spiritual liberation while still living in the body. (Shepherd 1995:547-548) 
A number of texts are known as Sannyasa Upanishads, indicative of their background context in renunciation. Some of these works were apparently composed  before the third century CE, while others are many centuries later. The term paramahamsa is employed to describe an advanced grade of renouncer. The various classifications indicate an original diversity of ascetic lifestyles, subsequently conflated into the institution of sannyasa by brahmanical theology and legalism (Olivelle 1992:98,100).
The Sannyasa Upanishads convey a graphic picture of ascetic tendencies from an early period. Existence in the forest and wilderness contrasted strongly with lifestyles of court priests and more rural ritualist householders. Ascetics spent their nights in deserted houses, in temples, on haystacks, near anthills, under trees, in the humble sheds of potters, in mountain caves, in open fields, and yet other places. Mendicancy was a basic facet of lifestyle, with nudity being highly regarded by some as a sign of renunciation. However, other ascetics preferred to wear a loincloth or an ochre garment (ibid:103,106). The outlook in this sector included a desire to be despised rather than praised; the purpose was to overcome pride (ibid:108). Some texts advocate disguise, so that the ascetic would not be recognised as a holy man (ibid:107). 
In a basically copyist idiom, many texts appeared in later centuries with the title of Upanishad. Sectarian commitments are frequently in evidence, meaning primarily the division between followers of Vishnu and Shiva. “Such Upanishads continued to be produced possibly as late as the sixteenth century CE and number in the hundreds” (Olivelle 1996:xxxiii). 
During the medieval period, a trend developed of forming into collections both the earlier and later Upanishads. This meant that the early Upanishads were detached from the Brahmana literature. European analysts subsequently complained that scholarly distinctions were lost in the tendency to conflation. A favoured number for collections in North India was 52 texts (although many more are extant). A similar corpus was translated into Persian as Sirr-i-Akbar, at the instruction of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh during the seventeenth century (Hasrat 1982:254ff). That collection underwent exegetical changes in the interpretation of Schopenhauer (d.1860).
From the 1960s onward, many Hindu gurus catered for a Western consumer market, bringing notoriety to their role. The blatantly commercial approach to meditation, “renunciation,” and “self-realisation” was frequently transparent. In some cases, accusations followed of deception, economic exploitation, and even sexual abuse. The overseas problem was aggravated by Western gurus, whose pseudo-atman profile became notorious in well known instances (American Guru). There were other drawbacks in India.  For instance, the Indian Rationalists proved that many “miracles” of presumed holy men were mere tricks to gain attention and funding. Now a well known deceit is sleight of hand. 
Black, Brian, The Character of the Self in Ancient India: Priests, Kings, and Women in the Early Upanishads (State University of New York Press, 2007).
Bodewitz, Henk, trans.,  Kaushitaki Upanishad (Groningen: Forsten, 2002).
——–“The Hindu Doctrine of Transmigration: Its Origin and Background” (3-19) in Bodewitz, Vedic Cosmology and Ethics, eds., Dory Heilijgers et al (Leiden: Brill, 2019).
Brereton, Joel P., and Stephanie W. Jamison, trans., The Rigveda: The Earliest Religious Poetry of India (3 vols, Oxford University Press, 2014).
Buitenen, J. A. B. van, trans., The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata: A Bilingual Edition (University of Chicago Press, 1981).
Deussen, Paul, trans., Sechzig Upanishads des Veda (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1897), translated as Sixty Upanishads of the Veda by V. M. Bedekar and G. B. Palsule (2 vols, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1980). 
Gambhirananda, Swami, trans., Eight Upanishads, with the commentary of Sankaracharya (2 vols, 1957; second edn, Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1989). 
Gonda, Jan, The Vision of the Vedic Poets (The Hague: Mouton, 1963). 
——–Ancient Indian Kingship from the Religious Point of View (Leiden: Brill, 1966).
——–Visnuism and Sivaism (London: Athlone Press, 1970). 
——–Vedic Literature (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1975).  
Hasrat, Bikrama Jit, Dara Shikuh: Life and Works (second edn, New Delhi: Manoharlal, 1982).
Heestermann, J. C., The Inner Conflict of Tradition: Essays in Indian Ritual, Kinship, and Society (University of Chicago Press, 1985). 
Hume, Robert E., trans., Thirteen Principal Upanishads (Oxford University Press, 1921).
Jha, V., “Stages in the History of Untouchables,” Indian Historical Review (1975) 2:14-31. 
Olivelle, Patrick, Samnyasa Upanishads: Hindu Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation (Oxford University Press, 1992).
——–The Ashrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution (Oxford University Press, 1993).
——–trans., Upanishads (Oxford University Press, 1996). 
——–The Early Upanishads: Text and Translation (Oxford University Press, 1998).
Prabhavananda, Swami, and Manchester, Frederick, trans., The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal (Vedanta Society of Southern California, 1957).
Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, The Principal Upanishads (London: Allen and Unwin, 1953). 
Renou, Louis, Religions of Ancient India (London: Athlone Press, 1953). 
——–Vedic India, trans. P. Spratt (Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1957). 
Roebuck, Valerie J., trans., Upanishads (2000, revised edn, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003).
Schwerda, Paul Fabian, Ordering the Cosmos: An Analysis of Religion and Society According to the Jaiminiya Brahmana (Harvard University Dissertation, 2017, online PDF).
Sharma, Arvind, “The Purushasukta: Its Relation to the Caste System,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (1978) 21(3):294-303.
Shepherd, Kevin R. D., Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One: Zoroastrianism and the Indian Religions (Cambridge: Philosophical Press, 1995). 
Tyagishananda, Swami, trans., Svetasvataropanisad (Mylapore, Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1971). 
Varenne, Jean, trans., La Maha Narayana Upanishad (2 vols, Paris: Publications de l’Institut de civilisation indienne, 1960). 
Zaroff, Roman, “Ashvamedha – A Vedic Horse Sacrifice,” Studia Mythologica Slavica (2005) 8:75-86 (online).
Kevin R. D. Shepherd 
August 2016 (modified 2021)

ENTRY no. 69 

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