4. Hide and Seek: The Upanisads

Posted on

The ancient texts known as the Upaniṣads claim to expose the hidden connections between things, including the self and the world.



Further Reading

• P. Olivelle (trans.), Upaniṣads (Oxford: 1996).


• B. Black, “The Upaniṣads,” in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

• J. Brereton, “The Upaniṣads,” in W.T. de Bary and I. Bloom (eds), Approaches to the Asian Classics (New York: 1990), 115–35.

• S. Cohen, Text and Authority in the Older Upaniads (Leiden: 2008).

• B. Smith, Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual and Religion (New York: 1989).


Thomas Mirus on 1 November 2015

I'm more and more struck by

I'm more and more struck by the universality of asceticism in the world's wisdom traditions, a sense of the disintegration of the self when we allow ourselves to be dragged off in every direction by our passions. Unfortunately it seems like in the modern West, asceticism for spiritual purposes has been largely replaced by asceticism as worship of bodily health (or appearance). Reminds me of this line in Miles Davis's autobiography, which still makes me facepalm: "Both of them were real spiritual women, into health food and things like that."

In reply to by Thomas Mirus

Paulo on 2 November 2015

Spiritually and biology

@Thomas Mirus: I do understand and sympathize with your point of view; but we are animals, evolved by natural selection (which includes sexual selection), and hey, health and good looks still count more on attracting mates and having healthy children than spiritually alone...

Mukesh on 10 November 2015


I started listening to this series very recently and must say I am well hooked. Really looking forward to further episodes and especially the ones dealing with the Charvaka and other materialists.
Would be also useful if you could highlight any parallels with the western philosophical traditions too, if the connections seem more than tenuous. :)

In reply to by Mukesh

Peter Adamson on 11 November 2015


Great, glad you like it! We will actually have a future episode on the possible historical connections between European and Indian thought.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Mukesh on 11 November 2015


Great! Awaiting future episodes, impatiently :)

Jan on 3 August 2019

Sanskrit pronunciation

Good intro. Please improve on your pronunciation of Sanskrit. Eg. c is pronounced as English ch.

In reply to by Jan

Peter Adamson on 4 August 2019


Well, sadly the episodes were recorded a long time ago, but the good news is that I think I start pronouncing at least some of the sounds better as the series goes along; e.g. I know that I got that "c" is "ch" pretty early in the series. I never studied Sanskrit so this was a bit of a challenge but I did my best, with Jonardon's help!

Mirza Beglerov… on 14 April 2021

Breath in Upaniṣads

I read somewhere that among ancient Greeks there was a belief that western wind causes pregnancy, but now I can't find the source.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.