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
According to one version, it can be classified as:
- Laukika - It is a secular method. The wheel and the stick used in preparing a mud-pot are laukika-upāyas.
- Alaukika - It is a non-secular or spiritual method. Performing a sacrifice like the Jyotiṣṭoma to attain heaven is alaukika-upāya.
Upāyas for King
A king has to use one of the four prescribed upāyas in subduing or getting rid of his enemies. They are:
- Sāma - negotiation by peaceful means
- Dāna - a policy of give and take
- Bheda - maneuvering a split in the enemy ranks
- Daṇḍa - warfare, fighting
Upāyas for Creditors
A creditor can get back his money from the debtor by using any of the following upāyas:
- Dharma - by negotiation through mutual friends and well-wishers
- Vyavahāra - by helping the debtor to establish himself in a profitable job and get back his money when he prospers
- Balātkāra - by forcibly taking away the debtor’s property
Upāyas for Spiritual Progress
In certain schools of Śaivism, five upāyas are recommended for spiritual progress. They are:
- Vāsacaryā - leading a pure life
- Japa - repetition of divine name
- Dhyāna - meditation
- Rudrasmaraṇa - remembering Lord Rudra or Siva
- Prapatti - surrender to God
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore