From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Haṃsopaniṣad is a minor Upaniṣad assigned to the Śukla Yajurveda. It has 21 mantras, both in prose and poetry.[1] It begins with a question by sage Gautama to the Sanatkumāra, reputed to be a mānasaputra or mindborn son, of the four faced Brahmā. The question is:

‘By what means can one get the knowledge of (the Supreme) Brahman?’

Sanatkumāra replies that he got this knowledge from Pārvatī, the divine spouse of Lord Śiva. It should be always kept as a secret. However, it can be taught to worthy disciples. Brahman pervades in everything just as fire pervades in fuel or oil in oil seeds. Having known it, one transcends death.

Then the method of raising the prāṇavāyu or the vital air from the mulādhāra[2] to the sahasrāra near the brahmarandhra is described. There the yogi beholds Paramātman (the Supreme Self), resplendent as millions of suns. Entering the jīvātman (the individual soul) into the various petals of the ‘heart-lotus’ (hṛtpadma) and the consequent results are delineated next.

This is followed by instructions regarding the japa of the ajapā-hañsa-mantra[3] with the concomitants. The japa is to be done with every breath, the total number of breathing per day being 21,600.

This japa leads to the mystical experience of various kinds of sounds like those of a bell, a conch, a lute and cymbals. Their results are described in the next section. The Upaniṣad ends with the final result of the knowledge of Brahman, viz., dissolution of the mind and shining in the glory of that Brahman.


  1. Ślokas in the anuṣṭubh meter.
  2. Mulādhāra is the lowest of the six cakras.
  3. This mantra is “so’haih haiṅsah”.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore