Major Vaishnav Upanishads

Categories : Spirituality

Vaishnav Upanishads are associated with the two major epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The avatars of Vishnu particularly Rama, Krishna and Narsinha are subjects for such Upanishads. There are also separate Upanishads for Narayan, an alternative name for Vishnu.

These Upanishads are also old because they might have been composed during the early Puranic period. Their composition might have begun from the Gupta period (300 to 600 CE). Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Tantrism were marching together during this period. Therefore, tantric methods have crept into Vaishnav Upanishads also. A group of 14 Vaishnav Upanishads was published by Theosophical Society Adiyar (Madras now Chennai). Some of them are major Upanishads and a brief introduction to them appears below.

Tripad Vibhuti Mahanarayana Upanishad:

This is an Atharva Vediya Upanishad and is the largest among the Vaishnav Upanishads. It is held in high esteem. It begins with an enquiry of Bramha from Vishnu about the ultimate truth. The Upanishad covers the teachings of Vishnu provided to Bramha which extends over eight chapters.

The first chapter is a description of char pada (four stages) of the Sarveshwar (Super God, Brahman) Known as Avidyapad, Vidyapada, Ananda Pada and Turiyapad. Vishnu as the supreme power resides in its full glory in the last stage i.e., the Turiya or beyond the Turiya stage. The second chapter describes the forms of Nirakar (attributeless) and Saakar (with attributes) Sarveshvar. The third chapter shows concern with Mulavidya and the form of Pralaya (dissolution).

The fourth chapter describes the full potency of indivisible, advait and eternal bliss of the ultimate. The fifth chapter includes instructions for salvation and complete freedom from the cyclic miseries of birth and death. The sixth chapter shows the way to attaining salvation and details about the different parts of the abode of the ultimate (the Vaikuntha).

The seventh chapter is an important part of the Upanishad because it provides complete details with a large number of potent mantras for constructing Maha Narayana Yantra. Many want such a yantra for happiness and success in life. The construction of the yantra shows the Tantric method adopted for the purpose.

The concluding eighth chapter closes with the discourse on purush tatva (as described in Vedas).

Gopal Tapaniya Upanishad:

This Upanishad has two separate parts: A) Gopal Purvatapaniyopanishad and B) Gopaluttartapaniyopanishad.


This is an Atharvavediya Upanishad which identifies Krishna as Parabrahma – the ultimate power. The first chapter contains the details of the Ashtadashakar Mantra “Kling Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijanvalabbhaya Swaha”. In the second chapter, Gopal Chakra has been shown and described. There are appendices for worshipping and wearing Gopal Chakra (in great detail) in the chapter.

The third chapter describes the significance of chanting the Ashtadashaksar Mantra and the fourth chapter describes the significance of the Gopal Chakra. The fifth chapter contains a beautifully composed prayer of Sri Krishna beginning with “Namo Vigyan Rupaya Paramanananda Rupine”. The fifth and the last chapter of the Upanishad closes with explanations relating to the prayer.


This is a small Upanishad. It also belongs to Atharvaveda. It contains only one chapter in which a description of the conversation between Maharishi Durbasa and Radha/Gopikas is available. Maharishi Durbasa describes the full glory of Krishna which is found in this Upanishad.

Ram Tapaniya Upanishad:

This Upanishad is also in two parts. A) Ramapurvatapaniyopanishad B) Ramuttartapiniopanishad.


This is an Atharvavediya Upanishad which identifies Ram as the Supreme Brahma. It extends over 10 chapters. The first chapter explains the various meanings of the word Ram and also includes the analysis of the Sagun form of the ultimate. The significance of Ram Yantra and mantra has also been mentioned.

The second chapter describes the divine form of Ram and interprets the Beej Mantra of Ram. The third chapter analyses the Ram Mantra and provides instructions about the method of Nam-Japa and meditation. The fourth chapter describes the significance of Shadakshar Mantra “Kling Ramaya Namah: Hring Ramaya Namah” The fifth chapter provides a short account from Khar vadha to Bali vadha.

The sixth chapter provides a short account of the remaining story and introduces gods associated with the Ram Yantra. The seventh chapter describes the construction of the Ram Yantra in detail with a picture and the eighth chapter provides further details about the yantra. The ninth chapter completes the process of yantra puja and mala-mantra puja. The Upanishad in this section has become completely tantric. The tenth and the last chapters describe the process of Puja in detail.


This is also Atharvavediya’s one-chapter Upanishad. The holiness of Kashi and Tarak Mantra (mantra providing salvation) have been described. Omkar has been analyzed in this Upanishad also. The four stages of Purushottam Ram have been illustrated. These four stages have a similarity to the four stages described in the Mandukya Upanishad. However, there are further details added to each stage.

Nrisinha Tapaniya Upanishad:

This Upanishad is also Atharva Vediya and has two parts. A) Nrisinhapurvatapaniopanishad B) Nrisinhaottartapaniopanishad.


This Upanishad has five chapters and describes the mantra and yantra relating to the Nrisinha avatar of Vishnu. The first chapter describes the glory of Mantra Raj and details of its limbs. The mantra Raj is

“Aum Ugram Viram Mahavishnum Jwalantam Sarvatomukham”

Nrisinham Bhishanam Bhadram Mrityumrityum Namamyaham.”

The second chapter describes the significance of the Mantra, its piousness and its auspicious results. The third chapter describes the Anushtuva Mantra and its powers. The fourth chapter describes the mantras of Anushtuva, the significance of Onkar and the four stages of Nrisinhadeva. It also includes a tantric prayer for the deity.

The fifth chapter describes the construction of Sudarshan Mahachakra in great detail and its method of worship.


The second part of this Atharvavediya Upanishad is comparatively larger with nine chapters. The first chapter identifies Omkar with Paramatma and describes its four stages. The second chapter relates the parts of Omkar with four stages and the knowledge of Turiya.

The third chapter describes the various stages of Anushtuva and methods of nam-jap and meditation in great detail with appendices.

The fourth chapter describes the unity between Brahma (Nrisinha) and the Turiya stage. The fifth chapter describes the processes of interlinking the Omkar with Anushtuva. The sixth chapter illustrates the process of dissolving oneself into Omkar. The seventh chapter is concerned with the unity between Parmamtma and Atma.

The eighth chapter describes the method of becoming fearless by dissolving one’s self into Brahma. The last and ninth chapter shows the way for dissolving one’s Atma into Omkar to remain concentrated at a point, the Brahma.


This is Shukla Yajurvediya Upanishad having two chapters. The Upanishad is in the form of a discourse between Ram and Hanuman in which the teacher is Ram and his disciple is Hanuman.

The Upanishad describes the names of 108 Upanishads in the first chapter and the second chapter describes the methods for attaining Jeevan Mukti (freedom from life and death)