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Upanishads are the most significant scriptures in the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma. They constitute the essence of Vedas and also known as Vedanta. We know that there are many Upanishads but 108 are recognized in Muktika Upanishad. Among them, 11 Upanishads are considered the Mukhya (principal) Upanishads on which Adi Shankaracharya has written Bhashya (commentary).

Now, among Mukhya Upanishads, I found that Mandukya Upanishad is considered to be most important. According to Muktika Upanishad:

इयं कैवल्यमुक्तिस्तु केनोपायेन सिद्ध्यति ।
माण्डूक्यमेकमेवालं मुमुक्षूणां विमुक्तये ॥ २६॥

I-i-26-29. But by what means is the Kaivalya kind of Moksha got? The Mandukya is enough.

Gaudapadacharya, the grandguru of Adi Shankaracharya has written a work on this Mandukya Upanishad, called Gaudapada Karika or Mandukya Karika which is the most important and ancient philosophical work in Advaita Vedanta, establishing the doctrine of Ajatavada.

As Muktika upanishad says Mandukya is enough for kaivalya, I want to know what makes Mandukya Upanishad so important or why it is considered most important among Upanishads? Acharya's work explaining this would be useful.

  • May be because Shankara is treating this Upanishad as Prakarana (treatise) ,which unlike Shastras do not discuss any other topics , but only the essential things of Shastra. And the upanishad and Karika is establishing the point of attributeless Brahman ultimately in few mantras and non other things , precisely conveying the message. – SwiftPushkar Jul 16 '18 at 7:31
  • Also see Anandagiri Tika - "Quintessence—It is because the Māṇḍūkya Śruti confines itself only to the establishment of non-duality without controverting the doctrines of the other systems. Muktikopaniṣad aptly describes that Māṇḍūkya alone, among the Upaniṣads, is sufficient for liberation (the attainment of truth)."- wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/mandukya-upanishad-karika-bhashya/d/… – SwiftPushkar Jul 16 '18 at 7:34
  • to say it is the most important is an opinion. your question is asking for opinions. – Swami Vishwananda Jul 16 '18 at 9:47
  • @SwamiVishwananda Oh, I may have not asked the question if it's not recommended in Muktika. – Paṇḍyā Jul 16 '18 at 11:01
  • This must be opinion based...if we can consider Qs like which God is most important/powerful..which Purana is best/important among 18 ( why Shiva Puran or Vishnu Puran or Bhagvatam most important among 18 Puranas) as opinion based then why not this Q...and of course references can be found which claim a particular god, text the most important among all... – YDS Jul 16 '18 at 14:05
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Mandukya Upanishad follows a prakriya (method) establishing the non-dual self through the analysis of the three states of experience i.e. waking dream and deep sleep. Not only does it cover the entire spectrum of experiences, it also establishes that all these three states of experience is ultimately imagined on the Non dual Self. Since getting established in the knowledge of the substratum of all experiences is itself moksha, Mandukya is considered so potent for this purpose. Moreover, unlike other Upanishads it does not discuss karma and upasana related siddhantas, which are only indirect means of moksha. It directly starts with Omkara which is the pointer towards Nirguna Brahman and thus Gaudapadacharya discusses Ajatvada using this text.

Mandukya Upanishad

  • Do you have reference for the same ? Because similar concept exists in Shiva Sutra as well. However Shiva Sutra has one more state which is called Turiya state which is the state of pure consciousness. – TheLittleNaruto Jul 23 '18 at 5:26
  • Mandukya upanishad also speaks about Turiya which apparently is the fourth state of conciousness. However in the methodology of Advaita Vedanta all the three states are imagined through ignorance on Turiya, which itself is the substratum (locus) of all the other states of experience. In Kashmir Shaivism, the philosophy expounded in Shiva Sutras, the world is not accepted to be unreal (mithya) in the sense of Gaudapada-Shankaracharya tradition. There are some differences in the two concepts of advaita. The former is often called Kevaladvaita while the latter is Shivadvaita. – Rajit Biswas Jul 24 '18 at 6:17

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