Few years back when i asked for unabridged editions of the major upanishads with an explanation or commentary in simple English, someone recommended me Muni Narayana Prasad's translation. 

I went to the library and found only the Chandogya upanishad which is a fat volumous book. I think it was unabridged. Not sure. The explanation too was simple and easy to grasp. I was very happy with his recommendation. But i didn't find the rest of the upanishads by that same author in the library. 

Later, back at home when i looked online, i found a couple more upanishads by Muni Narayana Prasad, but they were all thin books, and seemed to me that they were brief, abridged editions.

I checked a few sample pages online of The Principal Upanishads by Radhakrishnan, but it speaks of things that i'm not familiar with, like sexual intercourse as a kind of sacrifice and adding one's semen into the fire of sacrifice. The author Radhakrishnan doesn't explain in detail how those sacrifices should be carried out and for what purpose. He doesn't say whether the adding of the semen in the fire is a kind of metaphor or should it be taken literally. His translation of the upanishads also speaks of many other things like, water is also called fire (but he doesn't explain why it is called such) and fails to introduce the novice or western reader about such things. :(

Are there any good unabridged upanishads in simple English that you guys know of?


2 Answers 2


The Upanishads translated to English by Ramakrishna Ashrama are among the best books on the subject. There are two sets of books one by Swami Gambhirananda and another by Swami Nikhilananda.

Swami Gambhirananda's books have Sanskrit verse of the Upanishad followed by an English translation of the verse along with English translation of Shri Adi Shankaracharya's commentary.

Swami Nikhilananda's books do not have the Sanskrit verse, it has the direct English translation along with Shri Adi Shankaracharya's commentary.

Both the books have a section of Introduction for every Upanishad.

Translated by Swami Gambhirananda

Eight Upanishads, With the Commentary of Shankaracharya, Vol. I - Isa, Kena, Katha and Taittiriya
Eight Upanishads, With the Commentary of Shankaracharya, Vol. II - Aitareya, Mundaka, Mandukya and Prasna


Eight Upanishads both Volume 1 and Volume 2

Translated by Swami Nikhilananda

The Upanishads - Volume 1 - Katha, Isa, Kena and Mundaka
The Upanishads - Volume 2 - Svetasvatara, Prasna and Mandukya
The Upanishads - Volume 3 - Aitareya and Brihadaranyaka
The Upanishads - Volume 4 - Taittiriya and Chandogya


You could try 'The Upanishads' by Swami Nikhilananda. You could also try 'Eight Upanishads' by Swami Gambhirananda.

  • Is the language used in Nikhilananda's edition, lucid / easy to understand? And does it include commentaries, explaining why fire is called water or why in the upanishadic times semen was added in fire sacrifice and all such things? Thanks. Nov 21, 2021 at 8:10
  • 1
    The language is lucid and there is lot of commentary. However, I am not sure if you will find it satisfactory. Nov 21, 2021 at 11:17

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