Upanishads

(ca. 700? BCE–300 CE)

Impact

Around the time that the Chandogya Upanishad was composed, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad was also written. These two bodies of literature would form the basis for the Vedanta ideology and serve as links between the Vedic Age and the reforms to come. The initial impact of the Upanishads was not earth shattering, as there were contemporary movements that were also trying to reform Hinduism. Some modern scholars have even suggested that the Upanishads were ineffective in their own age, as they failed to eradicate or change the caste system and did not efficiently alter the moral order of the day. Part of the Upanishads’ own philosophy was that “change” is merely an illusion. However, the enduring character of nonduality seems to be the text’s strongest feature, a feature that would remain a part of Hindu identity through the centuries.

While interaction between India and Greece was going on long before Alexander the Great’s fourth century BCE invasion, the Hellenization of...

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The god Indra with Krishna (Yale University Art Gallery)

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