Gopala Tapani Upanishad

"IAST|Gopāla-tāpanī" Upanishad is an Upanishad, associated with the Atharvaveda. It figures in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads (as number 95).


As with most of the late Upanishads, the Gopāla-tāpanī is said to be attached to the Atharva-veda.In the Muktikā, the distribution of the Upanishads between the Ṛg, Śukla-yajus, Kṛṣṇa-yajus, Sāma and Atharvan is rather complicated. Nevertheless, all four "Tāpinī" Upanishads ("Nṛsiṁha", "Rāma", "Tripurā" and "Gopāla") are also listed there as belonging to the AtharvavedaOf the 108 Upanishads commented on by Upanishad Brahmayogin, eight are Śākta, fifteen Śaiva, and fourteen Vaiṣṇava. The Vaishnava Upanishads are IAST|Kṛṣṇopaniṣad, Mahā-nārāyaṇa, Rāma-tāpanī (Pūrva and Uttara), Nṛsiṁha-tāpanī (Pūrva and Uttara), and Gopāla-tāpanī (Pūrva and Uttara), Ātma-bodha, Nārāyaṇa, Rāma-rahasya, Vāsudeva, Hayagrīva, Kali-santarana, Garuḍa and Dattatreya. Although the "IAST|Nṛsiṁha-tāpanī" appears to be one of the earliest of the Vaishnava Upanishads, neither it nor any of the others has achieved the kind of special status amongst later Vaiṣṇava schools that the Gopāla-tāpanī has.

Dating the tāpanīya Upanishads

There are many problems in trying to date the Gopāla-tāpanī, as none of the reference points that we have are very solid. The "Muktikopaniṣad", which lists Gopāla-tāpanī as one of the 108 Upanishads, is itself undated and is thus not of much help. The Gaudiya Vaishnavas also quote the "Gautamīya-tantra" at the beginning of the Gopāla-tāpanī in order to establish that this Upanishad is "śruteḥ śiraḥ", the topmost text of the Shruti literature, as view that can be disputed. The quote does indeed seem to be a reference to Gopāla-tāpanī, but unfortunately we have no firm dates for the "Gautamīya-tantra", so this too is of little help. Early book by Keśava Bhaṭṭa - "Krama-dīpikā" may or may not have borrowed elements from Gopāla-tāpanī, but it is more likely that they have a common source as Keśava does not quote or refer to Gopāla-tāpanī anywhere. Gopāla-tāpanī, Gautamīya-tantra and Krama-dīpikā all show the influence of a Kṛṣṇa-centred Pancaratric or according to others Bhagavata tradition,cite book
author = Flood, Gavin D.
authorlink =
title = An introduction to Hinduism
language = Engl.
publisher = Cambridge University Press
location = Cambridge, UK
year = 1996
pages = 341
isbn = 0-521-43878-0
url =,M1
accessdate = 2008-04-21
"Early Vaishnava worship focuses on three deities who become fused together, namely Vasudeva-Krishna, Krishna-Gopala and Narayana, who in turn all become identified with Vishnu. Put simply, Vasudeva-Krishna and Krishna-Gopala were worshiped by groups generally referred to as Bhagavatas, while Narayana was worshipped by the Pancaratra sect."] which may also have produced the Nārada-pañcarātra.

The first of the Tāpanīya Upanishads is believed to be the Nṛsiṁha, which served as the model for the others which took this name. The "IAST|Nṛsiṁha-tāpanī" has a commentary attributed to either Gauḍapada or Śaṅkara. Other than these, the earliest reference to this work is the 14th c. Madhva scholar Vidyāraṇya's "Anubhūti-prakāśa", in which there is a chapter on the "Nṛsiṁha Uttara-tāpanī Upanishad". It is thus concluded that "Nṛsiṁha-tāpanī Upanishad" must at least be older than the 14th c. Since there are no earlier references to the work, however, it is not likely that it is much older. Taking all these things into consideration, the earliest possible date for Gopāla-tāpanī would appear to be somewhere in the 13th or 14th c. This concords with the opinions of other scholars. cite book
author = Farquhar, J.N.
year = 1920
title = An Outline of the Religious Literature of India
publisher = Oxford University Press
isbn =
p. 266.]

The meaning of the series name

The Sanskrit word "tāpanīya" in the context of these Upanishads is not clear. The word is found in four different forms: "IAST|tapanīya, tāpanīya, tāpinī, tāpanī". Tāpanī is the most common form used in titles and references, but this appears to be an abbreviated form of the more correct tāpanīya, which appears in the texts themselves. According to Monier-Williams verdict we should assume "tāpanīya" ("gold") to be the name of a school of the "Vājaseyani Saṁhitā" that produced the four Upanishads bearing this name. This assumes that they come from a common source something disputed by others, who believe that the three other works were written on the model of the "IAST|Nṛsiṁha-tāpanī" as a result of the success enjoyed by that work in bringing legitimation a particular ancient tradition containing Nṛsiṁha mantra.cite book
author = Deussen, P.
year = 1980
title = Sixty Upanishads of The Veda, trans
publisher = VM Bedekar and GB Palsule. Delhi
isbn = 0842616454
Vol II, pp. 809-888. He has translated the Rāma Pūrva and Uttara-tāpinī and the Nṛsiṁha Pūrva and Uttara-tāpinī Upanishads.] Deussen reads "tapanīya", which means "that which must be heated" or "gold". It also has the meaning of "self-mortification".

The process of self-purification is often compared to smelting gold, which is heated repeatedly in fire to remove any impurities. Deussen thus explains the term is as follows: "Tapanam (austerity) is burning pain-suffering or ascetic self-sacrifice; "Nṛsiṁha-tapanam" thus means ascetic self-surrender to Nṛsiṁha. Therefore "Nṛsiṁha-tapanīya Upanishad" is "the esoteric doctrine concerning the ascetic surrender to Nṛsiṁha."

Editions and early commentaries

* Prabodhānanda Sarasvati [Tripurari, Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī: From Benares to Braj" in the "Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies". Vol LV, Part 1, 1992, pages 52-75]

* Kusuma Sarovaravala Kṛṣṇadāsa’s edition (Kusuma Sarovarawala is only used for commenting on the text of the Upanishaad itself) [ Kṛṣṇadāsa Bābājī, Kusumasarovara, Radha Kund: Gaurahari Press, 1955]

* Kuśakratha dāsa’s English translation

* Jīva Goswami commentary

* Viśvanātha Cakravarti commentary

* Siddhāntī Mahārāja edition and comments

* B.V. Tripurari edition and comments

Also found quoted

Verses as reference: used in Krishna sandarbha by Jiva Goswami

Verses as reference: used in Hari Bhakti vilasa by Gopala Bhatta Goswami

Concordance of different editions and commentaries




: "eko 'pi san bahudhā yo 'vabhāti". Although the Lord is one, He is present in innumerable hearts as many. 1.15: "eko vaśī sarva-gaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ". In that abode there is only one Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose name is Kṛṣṇa.1.21: "tam ekaṁ govindam": "You are Govinda, the pleasure of the senses and the cows." "sac-cid-ānanda-vigraham": "And Your form is transcendental, full of knowledge, bliss and eternality."1.35: "yo brahmāṇaṁ vidadhāti pūrvaṁ yo vai vedāṁś ca gāpayati sma kṛṣṇaḥ": "It was Kṛṣṇa who in the beginning instructed Brahmā in Vedic knowledge and who disseminated Vedic knowledge in the past." 1.24: "kṛṣṇo vai paramaṁ daivatam": "Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." 1.3


*cite book |author=B. V. Tripurari |title=Gopala-tapani Upanisad |publisher=Audarya Press |location= |year=2004 |pages= |isbn=1-932771-12-3 |oclc= |doi=
*cite book
author = Farquhar, J.N.
year = 1920
title = An Outline of the Religious Literature of India
publisher = Oxford University Press
isbn =

*cite book
author = Deussen, P.
year = 1980
title = Sixty Upanishads of The Veda, trans
publisher = VM Bedekar and GB Palsule. Delhi
isbn = 0842616454

Further reading

*cite book
author = Narang, S.
year = 1984
title = The Vaisnava Philosophy According to Baladeva Vidyabhusana
publisher = Nag Publishers
isbn =

External links

* [ Gopala-tapani Upanisad] (full text)

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