From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Upāya literally means ‘means or method’.

This is a general term with several shades of meaning. It can mean any method by which we can attain what we want.

Classification of Upāya[edit]

According to one version, it can be classified as:

  1. Laukika - It is a secular method. The wheel and the stick used in preparing a mud-pot are laukika-upāyas.
  2. Alaukika - It is a non-secular or spiritual method. Performing a sacrifice like the Jyotiṣṭoma to attain heaven is alaukika-upāya.

Upāyas for King[edit]

A king has to use one of the four prescribed upāyas in subduing or getting rid of his enemies. They are:

  1. Sāma - negotiation by peaceful means
  2. Dāna - a policy of give and take
  3. Bheda - maneuvering a split in the enemy ranks
  4. Daṇḍa - warfare, fighting

Upāyas for Creditors[edit]

A creditor can get back his money from the debtor by using any of the following upāyas:

  1. Dharma - by negotiation through mutual friends and well-wishers
  2. Vyavahāra - by helping the debtor to establish himself in a profitable job and get back his money when he prospers
  3. Balātkāra - by forcibly taking away the debtor’s property

Upāyas for Spiritual Progress[edit]

In certain schools of Śaivism, five upāyas are recommended for spiritual progress. They are:

  1. Vāsacaryā - leading a pure life
  2. Japa - repetition of divine name
  3. Dhyāna - meditation
  4. Rudrasmaraṇa - remembering Lord Rudra or Siva
  5. Prapatti - surrender to God


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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