Śvetāśvatara Upanisad

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Era of Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad[edit]

Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad, though not included within the group of the ten Cardinal Upaniṣads, is deemed so important that it is always placed in the eleventh position. It must be considered as ancient as the Mundaka and the Kathā Upaniṣads. It belongs to the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda. It has 113 mantras included in six chapters.

Author of Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad[edit]

Śvetāśvatara is the sage who propagated or transmitted this Upaniṣad. Three of its mantras[1] have been discussed in the Brahmasutras.[2][3][4]

Significance of Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad[edit]

It has some special features.

  • It has addressed Paramātman[5] as Hara,[6] Rudra[7] and Śiva.[8] However scholars consider them as general names of God and hence do not concede that it is a Śaiva Upaniṣad.
  • The second specialty is its advocacy of bhakti or devotion to God as an important aspect of sādhana.
  • The third is giving a definite form to God and consider him as a Person. Use of the words Sāñkhya, Yoga and Kapila is the next. However, these do not propagate the Sāñkhya philosophy as described in later philosophical literature. The general ideas found in the other Upaniṣads are reflected here also.

Commentaries on Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad[edit]

This Upaniṣad has five commentaries written by:

  1. Saṅkara in A. D. 788-820
  2. Vijñānātman in 13th century
  3. Saṅkarānanda in 14th century
  4. Nārāyaṇatīrtha in 18th century
  5. Upaniṣad Brahmayogin in 18th century


  1. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.9; 4.5 and 5.8
  2. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 1.4.11
  3. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 1.4.8
  4. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 2.3.22
  5. Paramātman means Supreme Self.
  6. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 1.10
  7. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 3.2; 3.4; 4.12; 4.21 and 22
  8. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 3.14; 4.10
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore