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Upanishads Associated With Shiva – Shaiva Upanishads

Upanishad is the philosophical treatise dealing with purely metaphysical topics, such as the creator the creation, his relation with the world and human beings. It seldom discusses a personal God and His powers and nature. Therefore the names ‘Shaiva Upanishad’ appears to be an illustration of antithesis, because a personal God and Upanishad are two contradictory concepts.

However, Svetasvatara Upanishad is an illustration of such an Upanishad. This is the foremost of the several Shaiva Upanishads, and although it is a major Upanishad, it is not one of the ten Upanishads which are normally counted as standard. It speaks of Shiva/Hara/Rudra as the very Brahman itself.

Svetasvatara Upanishad propounds that the power of Brahman is covered by its own qualities. The quality-less is said to have qualities. Along with devotion to Shiva, this Upanishad is a fine blend of the Yoga, samkhya and Vedanta systems. In fact, by the names Shiva, Rudra, etc., it refers to Brahman Himself and not any personal God.

Svetasvatara Upanishad is a product of inspiration caused by the penance and grace of God (tapahprabhavadeva prasadacca – Svetasvatara Upanishad VI.20). Its author is Sage svetasvatara. It belongs to Krishna Yajurveda and has six chapters and 113 mantras. It is believed that the text must have originally ended with the first chapter, as is indicated by the repetition of the last few lines of the last mantra (I.16).

In the first chapter, we get the contemporary belief of the identity of Shiva (Hara 1.10) and Brahman in its threefold nature, the Absolute, the world and the individual being.
The second chapter describes Yoga as a path of attainment of the final goal. In the first seven verses it praises the Sun and then describes Yoga. The next three chapters are devoted to a discussion on Samkhya and Shaivite philosophies.

The last chapter yield the aim of all the four paths: Vedanta, Samkhya, Yoga and Bhakti together. At the end of the second chapter, the sage bows down to God again and again (II.17).

The third chapter presents Rudra as the only God and says there is nothing to be known other than him.

The Shaiva upanishads are more than a dozen. Apart from Svetasvatara Upanishad, there are at least twelve Shaiva Upanishads included in Vimsottari Satopanishad. They are Kaivalya Upanishad, Atharvanasira Upanishad, Brahajjabalopa, Kalagnirudropa, Sarabhopa, Dakshinamurtyupa, Askamalikopa, Rudrahrdayopa, Bhasmajabalop, Rudraksajabalopa, Panchabrahmopa and Jabalopa. They all describe and praise Rudra/Shiva in all his possible aspects.