Varāhopaniṣad

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Varahopanisad, VarAhopaniSad, Varaahopanishad


Varāhopaniṣad is one of the minor Upaniṣads belonging to the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda and assigned to the group of Yoga Upaniṣads. It has 263 mantras, mostly in anuṣṭubh verses, spread over five chapters. It was taught by Lord Varāha to the sage Bhṛgu. The last two chapters were taught by the sage Rbhu to Nidāgha. It can be delineated as follows:

First Chapter

It has 17 verses. Pleased by the tapas[1] of the sage Bhṛgu, Lord Varāha[2] appears before him and offers any boon he likes. Bhṛgu asks only for brahmavidyā or knowledge of Brahman that liberates. The Lord, after narrating a long list of tattvas[3] advocates that bhakti or devotion to God alone can give mukti or liberation.

Second Chapter

It has 83 verses. The topics discussed in this chapter are:

  • Sādhanacatuṣṭaya - four preliminary disciplines
  • True nature of the ātman as consciousness and bliss
  • Realized soul becoming one with Brahman
  • He is free from the bondages of karma
  • Meditation on God Varāha leads to dissolution of thoughts
  • Other sādhanas leading to brahmabhāva or becoming Brahman

Third Chapter

It has 30 verses. While declaring that Paramātman is Sat-cit-ānanda,[4] the means of attaining him is bhakti or devotion to him and nothing else.

Fourth Chapter

It has 12 paras and 44 verses. This is divided into two sections, the Brāhmaṇa and the Mantra. It has been taught by the sage Rbhu to the enquirer Nidāgha. The Brāhmaṇa has 12 sections in prose and the Mantra, 44 verses. The first section describes seven bhumikās or stages of development of wisdom such as śubhecchā[5] vicāraṇā[6] and so on. The first three stages are associated with the mumukṣu.[7] The yogis associated with the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh are called brahmavid, brahmavidvara, brahmavidvarīyān and brahmavidvariṣṭha respectively. They are the four kinds of jīvanmuktas.[8] The second section gives a detailed description of all the stages. It also describes the characteristics of the jīvanmukta. The sages Suka and Vāmadeva are projected as jīvanmuktas of two types.

Fifth Chapter

It has 77 verses. This chapter deals with various aspects of the practice of yoga. Some of them are:

  • The eight aṅgas or steps of Yoga
  • Bandhas - methods of controlling the prāṇic energy
  • Cakras - psychic centres
  • Nāḍis - nerve current passages
  • Japa of praṇava or oṅkāra to remove obstacles and quite a few other technical details.

Conclusion

It ends with a phalaśruti, eulogy of the Upaniṣad, the study and practice of which results in jīvanmukti.


References

  1. Tapas means austerities.
  2. He is an incarnation of Viṣṇu.
  3. Tattvas means fundamental principles of creation.
  4. Sat-citnanda means existence-consciousness- bliss.
  5. Śubhecchā means good desire.
  6. Vicāraṇā means inquiry.
  7. Mumukṣu means the seeker.
  8. Jīvanmuktas means liberated even while living.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore