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Jābāli Upanisad

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

bāli Upanisad is a short Upaniṣad belonging to the Sāmaveda and classed among the Śaiva Upaniṣads. It is in the form of a dialogue between the sages Paippalādi and Jābāli.


It contains 23 mantras in prose. The questions asked here majorly concerns four topics:

  1. Jīva
  2. Paśu
  3. Iśa
  4. Modes of attaining mokṣa


Jābāli, the teacher, got the knowledge about them from Saḍānana.[1] Saḍānana acquired this knowledge from his father Iśāna[2] by worshiping him. Īśvara is Paśupati.[3] Due to the association with ahaṅkāra or egoism, he himself become the paśus.[4] The jīvas, like animals, lack discrimination and are driven to do things by others. Hence they are called paśus. Being the lord of these jīvas and having universal knowledge, īśvara has been called as ‘Paśupati’.

Jābāli was asked as to how does one get the knowledge of the īśa. He replied that one can attain the god by wearing the bhasma or holy ash at the appropriate places like the head, the forehead, chest and so on. One should use the pañca-brahmamantras.[5] Drawing the three lines known as tripuṇdra is called ‘śāmbhavavrata’. These three lines represent the following:

  • Three Vedic fires
  • Three worlds
  • Three times extractions of the soma juice
  • Three syllables of Oṅkāra i.e. a, u, and m


The Upaniṣad concludes with the eulogy that one who wears the three lines of vibhuti or bhasma will be liberated from all the sins. He is as good as having studied the Vedas, as having perfect meditation, as having bathed in all the sacred rivers and having repeated all the mantras of God Rudra. He will not return to mundane existence again.


  1. Saḍānana means the six faced Subrahmaṇya.
  2. Iśāna is iśvara or Śiva.
  3. Paśupati literally means ‘the lord of animals or living beings’.
  4. Here paśus refer to the animals or the bound souls.
  5. These are the mantras containing the names of the five aspects of Śiva or īśvara, viz., Sadyojāta, Vāmadeva, Aghora, Tatpuruṣa, and īśāna.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore