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The Upanishads represent for the Hindu approximately what the New Testament represents for the Christian. The earliest of these spiritual treaties, which vary greatly in length, were put down in Sanskrit between 800 and 400 BC. This selection from twelve Upanishads, with its illuminating introduction by Juan Mascaro, whose translation of the Bhagavad Gita is also in the Penguin Classics, reveals the paradoxical variety and unity, the great questions and simple answers, the spiritual wisdom and romantic imagination of these "Himalayas of the Soul".
The Upanishads, the earliest of which were composed in Sanskrit between 800 and 400 bce by sages and poets, form part of the Vedas - the sacred and ancient scriptures that are the basis of the Hindu religion. Each Upanishad, or lesson, takes up a theme ranging from the attainment of spiritual bliss to karma and rebirth, and collectively they are meditations on life, death and immortality. The essence of their teachings is that truth can by reached by faith rather than by thought, and that the spirit of God is within each of us - we need not fear death as we carry within us the promise of eternal life.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Juan Mascaro was born in Majorca, and later studied modern and oriental languages, Sanskrit, Pali and English at Cambridge University. He died in 1987, and was lauded as a great translator of our time.