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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which argues that some of the innovations in the Upaniṣads grow out of the concerns of individual Vedic schools, and are then later spread to other schools of recitation, and become pan-Hindu. The oldest Upaniṣads are today usually read as religious and philosophical texts whose ultimate concern is attaining the salvific knowledge of ātman and brahman. However, the earliest Upaniṣads are also deeply engaged in issues of textual authority. Knowledge is the ultimate goal in the Upaniṣads; but different forms of knowledge are often pitted against each other, as the knowledge possessed by some is shown to be superior to that of other groups. A large number of wisdom teachers appear as characters in the Upaniṣads. The chapter presents an overview of how other chapters of the book are organised.

Keywords: ātman; brahman; textual authority; upaniṣads

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