As per Muktika Canon, there are 108 upanishads. Is it the exact number or this is just 108 important upanishads. I read elsewhere that each branch of 4 Vedas have one upanishad each. Traditionally, what is the upper limit on number of upanishads?

Refer this link to know what exactly I am asking about.


Kurma Purana, Purva Bhaga 52.19,20

eka-vimsati-bhedena rg-vedam kravān purā sākhânāṁ tu satenaiva yajur-vedam athākarot. 19

sama-vedam sahasrena śākhānāṁ prabibheda saḥ atharvánam atho vedam vibheda navakena tu. 20

"𝐅𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐠 𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐚 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝟐𝟏 𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐚𝐣𝐮𝐫 𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐚 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝟏𝟎𝟎 𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐚𝐦𝐚 𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐚 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝟏,𝟎𝟎𝟎 𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐯𝐚 𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐚 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝟗 𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬."

Each branch has 4 subdivisions called Samhitā, Brāhmana, Aranyaka, and Upanisad. So all together the Vedas consist of 1,130 Samhitās, 1,130 Brāhmaṇas, 1,130 Aranyakas, and 1,130 Upanişads-a total of 4,520 .

At the present only about 11 Samhitas, 18 Brahmanas, 7 Aranyakas, and 220 Upanisads are available.


There are only a handful of texts that can be termed classical Vedic Upanishads, as they form part of a Vedic text such as a Samhita, a Brahmana or an Aranyaka. Some of these are recognized as having been part of a Veda shakha that is lost now, and only the Upanishad has survived. This can be deduced from the linguistic elements and the subject matter of them.

Accordingly, the Vedic Upanishads that at least Adi Shankara has written commentaries on are enumerated in this shloka:

ईश केन कठा प्रश्न मुण्ड माण्डूक्य तैत्तिरी । ऐतरेयं च छान्दोग्यं बृहदारण्यकं दशम् ॥

Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brhadaranyaka.

In addition, Kaushitaki, Mahanarayana, and Shvetashvatara are also Vedic Upanishads.

The above texts are distinguishable not only because of their location within a Vedic text, but also by their archaic and ancient Vedic language style, and also by the fact that their subject matter and discussion are classical Vedic in character. The key factor is that they don't stress sannyasa.

All other texts that go under the title of "Upanishad" are just copying the format of the classical texts due to the prestige and renown for the term "Upanishad".

Just as Bhagavad Gita is the original "Gita", but later texts such as Ashtavakra Gita, Uddhava Gita, Manki Gita, Rama Gita, Hanuman Gita, etc. all copied the format of Bhagavad Gita because of the prestige and renown for the term "Gita".

  • I dont think uddhava gita is a fabrication. It was a discourse between krishna and uddhava mentioned in bhagavata purana. – Ikshvaku Dec 9 '20 at 4:01

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