Chapter I

Om. Śāndilya questioned Atharvan thus: “Please tell me about the eight aṅgas (parts) of Yoga which is the means of attaining to Ātmā.”

Atharvan replied: “The eight aṅgas of yoga are yama, niyama, āsana, prānāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhāranā, dhyāna, and samādhi. Of these, yama is of ten kinds: and so is niyama. There are eight āsanas. Prānāyāma is of three kinds; pratyāhāra is of five kinds: so also is dhāranā. Dhyāna is of two kinds, and samādhi is of one kind only.

“Under yama (forbearance) are ten:1 ahimsā, satya, asteya brahmacharya, dayā, ārjava, kshamā, dhṛti, mitāhāra, and śaucha. Of these, ahimsā is the not causing of any pain to any living being at any time through the actions of one’s mind, speech, or body. Satya is the speaking of the truth that conduces to the well-being of creatures, through the actions of one’s mind, speech, or body. Asteya is not coveting of another’s property through the actions of one’s mind, speech, or body. Brahmacharya is the refraining from sexual intercourse in all places and in all states in mind, speech or body. Dayā is kindliness towards all creatures in all places. Ārjava is the preserving of equanimity of mind, speech, or body in the performance or non-performance of the actions ordained or forbidden to be done. Kshamā is the bearing patiently of all pleasant or unpleasant things, such as praise or blow. Dhṛti is the preserving of firmness of mind during the period of gain or loss of wealth or relatives. Mitāhāra is the taking of oily and sweet food, leaving one-fourth of the stomach empty. Śaucha is of two kinds, external and internal. Of these, the external is the cleansing of the body by earth and water; the internal is the cleansing of the mind. This (the latter) is to be obtained by means of the adhyātma-vidyā (science of Self).

“Under niyama (religious observances), are ten, viz., tapas, santosha, āstikya, dāna, Īśvarapūjana, siddhānta-śravana, hrīḥ, mati, japa, and vrata. Of these tapas, is the emancipation of the body through the observances of such penances as kṛchchhra, chāndrāyana, etc., according to rules. Santosha is being satisfied with whatever comes to us of its own accord. Āstikya is the belief in the merits or demerits of actions as stated in the Vedas. Dāna is the giving with faith to deserving persons, money, grains, etc., earned lawfully. Īśvarapūjana is the worshipping of Vishnu, Rudra, etc., with pure mind according to one’s power. Siddhānta-śravana is the inquiry into the significance of Vedānta. Hrīḥ is the shame felt in the performance of things contrary to the rules of the Vedas and of society. Mati is the faith in the paths laid down by the Vedas. Japa is the practising of the mantras into which one is duly initiated by his spiritual instructor, and which is not against (the rules of) the Vedas. It is of two kinds—the spoken and the mental. The mental is associated with contemplation by the mind. The spoken is of two kinds—the loud and the low. The loud pronunciation gives the reward as stated (in the Vedas): (while) the low one (gives) a reward thousand times (that). The mental (gives) a reward a crore (of times that). Vrata is the regular observance of or the refraining from the actions enjoined or prohibited by the Vedas.

“Āsanas (the postures) are (chiefly) eight, viz., svastika, gomukha, padma, vīra, simha, bhadra, mukta, and mayūra.

“Svastika is the sitting at ease with the body erect, placing each foot between the thighs and knees of the other. Gomukha is (the sitting at ease with the body erect,) placing the hollow of the left foot under the side of the right posteriors and the hollow of the right foot under the side of the left posteriors, resembling Gomukha (cow’s face). Padma is (the sitting at ease with the body erect) placing the back of each foot in the thigh of the other, the right hand grasping the right toe and the left hand the left toe. This, O Śāndilya, is praised by all. Vīra is the sitting at ease (with the body erect), placing one foot (on the thigh of the other and the other foot underneath the corresponding (opposite thigh.) Simha is (the sitting at ease with the body erect,) pressing the right side (of the thigh) with the hollow of left heel and vice versa. Rest your hands on the knees, spread out the fingers, open your mouth and carefully fix your gaze on the tip of your nose. This is always praised by the yogins. Siddha2 is (the sitting at ease with the body erect), pressing the perineum with the left heel and placing the heel of the right foot above the genital organ, concentrating the mind between the two eyebrows. Bhadra is (the sitting at ease with the body erect,)pressing the two ankles of the two feet firmly together against the Sīvinī (viz., lower part of the seed) and binding the knees firmly with the hands. This is the bhadra which destroys all diseases and poisons. Mukta is (the sitting at ease with the body erect,) pressing with the left heel the right side of the tender part of the Sīvinī, and with the right heel the left side of the tender part of the Sīvinī. Mayūra—(lit., peacock). Rest your body upon the ground with both palms and place your elbows on the sides of the navel, lift up the head and feet and remain like a stick in the air, (like the plant balance in gymnastics). This is the mayūra posture which destroys all sins. By these, all the diseases within the body are destroyed; all the poisons are digested. Let the person who is unable to practise all these postures betake himself to any one (of these) which he may find easy and pleasant. He who conquers (or gets mastery over) the postures—he conquers the three worlds. A person who has the practice of yama and niyama should practise prānāyāma; by that the nādis become purified.”

Then Śāndilya questioned Atharvan thus: “By what means are the nādis purified? How many are they in number? How do they arise? What vāyus (vital airs) are located in them? What are their seats? What are their functions? Whatever is worthy of being known in the body, please tell me.” To that Atharvan replied (thus): “This body is ninety-six digits in length. Prāna extends twelve digits beyond the body. He who through the practice of yoga reduces his prāna within his body to make it equal to or not less than the fire in it becomes the greatest of the yogins. In men, the region of fire which is triangular in form and brilliant as the molten gold is situated in the middle of the body. In four-footed animals, it (fire) is quadrangular. In birds, it is round. In its (the region of fire’s) centre, the purifying, beneficial, and subtle flame is situate. Two digits above the anus and two digits below the sexual organ is the centre of the body for men. For four-footed animals, it is the middle of the heart. For birds, it is the middle of the body. Nine digits from (or above) the centre of the body and four digits in length and breadth is situated an oval form. In its midst is the navel. In it, is situated the chakra (viz., wheel) with twelve spokes. In the middle of the chakra, the jīva (Ātmā) wanders, driven by its good and bad deeds. As a spider flies to and fro within a web of fine threads, so prāna moves about here. In this body, the jīva rides upon prāna. Lying in the middle of the navel and above it, is the seat of kundalinī. The kundalinī śakti is of the form of eight prakṛtis (matter) and coils itself eight ways or (times). The movement of vāyus (vital airs) checks duly the food and drink all round by the side of skandha.3 It closes by its head (the opening of) the brahmarandhra, and during the time of (the practice of) yoga is awakened by the fire (in the apāna); then it shines with great brilliancy in the ākāś of the heart in the shape of wisdom. Depending upon kundalinī which is situated in the centre, there are fourteen principal nādis (viz.,) Idā, Piṅgalā, Sushumnā, Sarasvatī, Vārunī, Pūshā, Hastijihvā, Yaśasvinī, Viśvodharī, Kuhūḥ, Śāṅkhinī, Payasvinī, Alambusā, and Gāndhārī. Of them, Sushumnā is said to be the sustainer of the universe and the path of salvation. Situated at the back of the anus, it is attached to the spinal column and extends to the brahmarandhra of the head and is invisible and subtle and is vaishnavī (or has the śakti force of Vishnu). On the left of Sushumnā is situated Idā, and on the right is Piṅgalā. The moon moves in Idā and the sun in Piṅgalā. The moon is of the nature of tamas and the sun of rajas. The poison share is of the sun and the nectar of the moon. They both direct (or indicate) time and Sushumnā is the enjoyer (or consumer) of time. To the back and on the side of Sushumnā are situate Sarasvatī and Kuhūḥ respectively. Between Yaśasvinī and Kuhūḥ stands Vārunī. Between Pasha and Sarasvatī lies Payasvinī.4 Between Gāndhārī and Sarasvatī is situated Yaśasvinī.5 In the centre of the navel is Alambusā. In front of Sushumnā there is Kuhūḥ, which proceeds as far as the genital organ. Above and below kundalinī is situated Vārunī, which proceeds everywhere. Yaśasvinī which is beautiful (or belonging to the moon), proceeds to the great toes. Piṅgalā goes upwards to the right nostril. Payasvinī goes to right ear. Sarasvatī goes to the upper part or the tongue and Śāṅkhinī to the left ear, (while) Gāndhārī goes from the back of Idā to the left eye. Alambusā goes upwards and downwards from the root of the anus. From these fourteen nādis, other (minor) nādis spring; from them springing others, and from them springing others; so it should be known. As the leaf of the aśvattha tree (ficus religiosa) etc., is covered with minute fibres so also is this body permeated with nādis.

“Prāna, Apāna, Samāna, Udāna, Vyāna, Naga, Karma, Kṛkara, Devadatta, and Dhanañjaya—these ten vāyus (vital airs) move in all the nādis. Prāna moves in the nostrils, the throat, the navel, the two great toes and the lower and the upper parts of kundalinī. Vyāna moves in the ear, the eye, the loins, the ankles, the nose, the throat and the buttocks. Apāna moves in the anus, the genitals, the thighs, the knees. the stomach, the seeds, the loins, the calves, the navel, and the seat of the anus of fire. Udāna lives in all the joints and also in the hands and legs. Samāna lives, permeating in all parts of the body. Along with the fire in the body, it causes the food and drink taken in, to spread in the body. It moves in the seventy-two thousand nādis and pervades all over the body along with the fire. The five vāyus beginning with Naga go towards the skin, the bones, etc. The Prāna which is in the navel separates the food and drink which is there and brings about the rasas (juices) and others.6 Placing the water above the fire and the food above (or in) the water, it goes to the Apāna and along with it, fans up the fire in the centre of the body. The fire thus fanned up by the Apāna gradually increases in brightness in the middle of the body. Then it causes through its flames the water which is brought in the bowels by the Prāna to grow hot. The fire with the water causes the food and condiments, which are placed above, to be boiled to a proper degree. Then Prāna separates these into sweat, urine, water, blood, semen, the fæces and the like. And along with the Samaria, it takes the juice (or essence) to all the nādis and moves in the body in the shape of breath. The vāyus excrete the urine, the fæces, etc., through the nine openings in the body which are connected with the outside air. The functions of Prāna are inspiration, expiration, and cough. Those of Apāna are the excretion of the fæces and the urine. Those of Vyāna are (such actions as) giving and taking. Those of Udāna are keeping the body straight, etc. Those of Samāna are nourishing the body. Those of Nāga are vomiting, etc.; of Kūrma, the movement of the eyelids; of Kṛkara, the causing of hunger, etc., of Devadatta, idleness, etc., and Dhanañjaya, phlegm.

“Having thus acquired a thorough knowledge of the seat of the nādis and of the vāyus with their functions, one should begin with the purification of the nādis. A person possessed of yama and niyama, avoiding all company, having finished his course of study, delighting in truth and virtue, having conquered (his) anger, being engaged in the service of his spiritual instructor and having been obedient to his parents and well instructed in all the religious practices and the knowledge of his order of life, should go to a sacred grove abounding in fruits, roots, and water. There he should select a pleasant spot always resounding with the chanting of the Vedas, frequented by the knowers of Brahman that persevere in the duties of their orders of life and filled with fruits, roots, flowers, and water. (Else) either in a temple or on the banks of a river or in a village or in a town, he should build a beautiful monastery. It should be neither too long nor too high, should have a small door, should be besmeared well with cow-dung and should have every sort of protection.7 There listening to the exposition of vedānta, he should begin to practise yoga, In the beginning having worshipped Vināyaka8 (Ganeśa), he should salute his Ishta-Devatā (tutelary deity) and sitting in any of the above-mentioned postures on a soft seat, facing either the east or the north and having conquered them, the learned man keeping his head and neck erect and fixing his gaze on the tip of his nose, should see the sphere of the moon between his eyebrows and drink the nectar (flowing therefrom through his eyes). Inhaling the air through Idā9 for the space of twelve mātrās,10 he should contemplate on the sphere of fire11 situated in the belly as surrounded with flames and having as its seed (ra); then he should exhale it through Piṅgalā. Again inhaling it through Piṅgalā12 and retaining it (within), he should exhale it through Idā. For the period of twenty-eight months,13 he should practise six times at every sitting through the three sandhyās (morning, noon, and evening) and during the intervals. By this, the nādis become purified. Then the body becomes light and bright, the (gastric) fire is increased (within) and there is the manifestation of nāda (internal sound).

“Prānāyāma is said to be the union of Prāna and Apāna. It is of three kinds—expiration, inspiration, and cessation. They are associated with the letters of the (Samskṛt) alphabet14 (for the right performance of prānāyāma). Therefore Pranava (Om) only is said to be Prānāyāma. Sitting in the padma posture, the person should meditate that there is at the tip of his nose Gāyatrī,15 a girl of red complexion surrounded by the numberless rays of the image of the moon and mounted on a hamsa (swan) and having a mace in her hand. She is the visible symbol of the letter A. The letter U has as its visible symbol Sāvitrī,16 a young woman of white colour having a disk in her hand and riding on a garuda (eagle). The letter M has as its visible symbol Sarasvatī,17 an aged woman of black colour riding on a bull, having a trident in her hand. He should meditate that the single letter—the supreme light—the pranava (Om)—is the origin or source of these three letters A, U, and M. Drawing up the air through Idā for the space of sixteen mātrās, he should meditate on the letter A during that time; retaining the inspired air for the space of sixty-four mātrās, he should meditate on the letter U during the time; he should then exhale the inspired air for the space of thirty-two mātrās, meditating on the letter M during that time. He should practise this in the above order over and over again.

“Then having become firm in the posture and preserved perfect self-control, the yogin should, in order to clear away the impurities of the Sushumnā, sit in the padmāsana (padma posture), and having inhaled the air through the left nostril, should retain it as long as he can and should exhale it through the right. Then drawing it again through the right and having retained it, he should exhale it through the left in the order that he should draw it through the same nostril by which he exhaled it before and retained it. In this context, occur (to memory) the following verses: “In the beginning having inhaled the breath (Prāna) through the left nostril, according to the rule, he should exhale it through the other; then having inhaled the air through the right nostril, should retain it and exhale it through the other.” To those who practise according to these rules through the right and left nostrils, the nādis become purified within three months. He should practise cessation of breath at sunrise, in the midday, at sunset and at midnight slowly till eighty (times a day) for four weeks. In the early stages, perspiration is produced; in the middle stage the tremor of the body, and in the last stage levitation in the air. These (results) ensue out of the repression of the breath, while sitting in the padma posture. When perspiration arises with effort, he should rub his body well. By this, the body becomes firm and light. In the early course of his practice, food with milk and ghee is excellent. One sticking to this rule becomes firm in his practice and gets no tāpa (or burning sensation in the body). As lions, elephants and tigers are gradually tamed, so also the breath, when rightly managed (comes under control); else it kills the practitioner.18

“He should (as far as is consistent with his health and safety) properly exhale it, properly inhale it or retain it properly. Thus (only) will he attain success. By thus retaining the breath in an approved manner and by the purification of the nādis, the brightening of the (gastric) fire, the hearing distinctly of (spiritual) sounds and (good) health result. When the nervous centres have become purified through the regular practice of Prānāyāma, the air easily forces its way up through the mouth of the Sushumnā which is in the middle. By the contraction of the muscles of the neck and by the contraction of the one below (viz.,) Apāna, the Prāna (breath) goes into the Sushumnā which is in the middle from the west nādi.19 Drawing up the Apāna and forcing down the Prāna from the throat, the yogin free from old age becomes a youth of sixteen.

“Seated in a pleasant posture and drawing up the air through the right nostril and retaining it inside from the top of the hair to the toe nails, he should exhale it through the same nostril. Through it, the brain becomes purified and the diseases in the air nādis are destroyed. Drawing up the air through the nostrils with noise (so as to fill the space) from the heart to the neck, and having retained it (within) as long as possible, he should exhale it through the nose. Through this, hunger, thirst, idleness and sleep do not arise.

“Taking in the air through the mouth (wide open) and having retained it as long as possible, he should expel it through the nose. Through this, (such diseases as) gulma, pleeha (both being splenetic diseases), bile and fever as also hunger, etc., are destroyed.

“Now we shall proceed to kumbhaka (restraint of breath). It is of two kinds—sahita and kevala. That which is coupled with expiration and inspiration is called sahita. That which is devoid of these is called kevala (alone). Until you become perfect in kevala, practise sahita. To one who has mastered kevala, there is nothing unattainable in the three worlds. By kevala-restraint of breath, the knowledge of kundalinī arises. Then he becomes lean in body, serene in face and clear-eyed, hears the (spiritual) sounds distinctly, becomes free from all diseases and conquers his (bindu) seminal fluid,20 his gastric fire being increased.21

“Centring one’s mind on an inward object whilst his eyes are looking outside without the shutting and opening of his eyelids, has been called Vaishnavīmudrā. This is kept hidden in all the tāntric works. With his mind and breath absorbed in an internal object, the yogin, though he does not really see the objects outside and under him, still (appears to) see them with eyes in which the pupils are motionless. This is called Khecharīmudrā. It has as its sphere of extension one object and is very beneficial. (Then) the real seat of Vishnu, which is void and non-void, dawns on him. With eyes half closed and with a firm mind, fixing his eyes on the tip of his nose and becoming absorbed in the sun and moon, he after remaining thus unshaken (becomes conscious of) the thing which is of the form of light, which is free from all externals, which is resplendent, which is the supreme truth and which is beyond. O Śāndilya, know this to be Tat (That). Merging the sound in the light and elevating the brows a little, this is of the way of (or is a part of) the former practice. This brings about the state of Unmani which causes the destruction of the mind. Therefore he should practise the Khecharīmudrā. Then he attains to the state of Unmanī and falls into the yoga sleep (trance). To one who obtains this yoga sleep, time does not exist. Placing the mind in the midst of śakti and śakti22 in the midst of the mind and looking on the mind with the mind, O Śāndilya be happy. Place the Ātma in the midst of ākāś and ākāś in the midst of Ātmā, and having reduced everything to ākāś, do not think of anything else. You should not (then) entertain thoughts, either external or internal. Abandoning all thoughts, become abstract thought itself. As camphor in fire and salt in water become absorbed, so also the mind becomes absorbed in the Tattva (Truth). What is termed manas (mind) is the knowledge of everything that is known and its clear apprehension. When the knowledge and the object cognised are lost alike, there is no second path (or that is the only path). By its giving up all cognition of objects, it (the mind) is absorbed and when the mind is absorbed, kaivalya (isolation) alone remains.

“For the destruction of the chitta, there are two ways—yoga and jñāna. O prince of sages! yoga is the (forcible) repression of the modifications of the mind, and jñāna is the thorough inquiry into them. When the modifications of the mind are repressed, it (the mind) verily obtains peace. Just as the actions of the people cease with the stopping of the fluctuations of the sun (viz., with sunset), so when the fluctuations of the mind cease, this cycle of births and deaths comes to an end. (Then) the fluctuations of prāna are prevented, when one has no longing for this mundane existence or when he has gratified his desires therein—through the study of religious books, the company of good men, indifference (to enjoyments), practice and yoga or long contemplation with intentness on any desired (higher) object or through practising one truth firmly.

“By the repression of the breath through inhalation, etc., by continual practice therein which does not cause fatigue, and by meditating in a secluded place, the fluctuations of the mind are arrested. Through the right realisation of the true nature of the sound which is at the extreme end of the pronunciation of the syllable Om (viz., Ardhamātrā), and when sushupti (dreamless sleeping state) is rightly cognised through consciousness, the fluctuations of prāna are repressed. When the passage at the root of the palate which is like the bell, viz., uvula, is closed by the tongue with effort and when the breath goes up through (the upper hole), then the fluctuations of prāna are stopped. When the consciousness (samvit) is merged in prāna, and when through practice the prāna goes through the upper hole into the dvādasānta23 (the twelfth centre) above the palate, then the fluctuations of prāna are stopped. When the eye of consciousness (viz., the spiritual or third eye) becomes calm and clear so as to be able to distinctly see in the transparent ākāś at a distance of twelve digits from the tip of his nose, then the fluctuations of prāna are stopped. When the thoughts arising in the mind are bound up in the calm contemplation of the world of tāraka (star or eye) between one’s eyebrows and are (thus) destroyed, then the fluctuations cease. When the knowledge which is of the form of the knowable, which is beneficent and which is untouched by any modifications arises in one and is known as OM only and no other, then the fluctuations of prāna cease. By the contemplation for a long time of the ākāś which is in the heart, and by the contemplation of the mind free from vāsānās, then the fluctuations of prāna cease. By these methods and various others suggested by (one’s) thought and by means of the contact of the many (spiritual) guides, the fluctuations cease.

“Having by contraction opened the door of kundalinī, one should force open the door of moksha. Closing with her mouth the door through which one ought to go, the kundalinī sleeps spiral in form and coiled up like a serpent. He who causes this kundalinī to move—he is an emancipated person. If this kundalinī were to sleep in the upper part of the neck of any yogin, it goes towards his emancipation. (If it were to sleep) in the lower part (of the body), it is for the bondage of the ignorant. Leaving the two nādis, Idā and the other (Piṅgalā), it (prāna) should move in the Sushumnā. That is the supreme seat of Vishnu. One should practise control of breath with the concentration of the mind. The mind should not be allowed by a clever man to rest on any other thing. One should not worship Vishnu during the day alone. One should not worship Vishnu during the night alone; but should always worship Him, and should not worship Him merely during day and night. The wisdom-producing opening (near uvula) has five passages. O Śāndilya this is the khecharīmudrā; practise it. With one who sits in the khecharīmudrā, the vāyu which was flowing before through the left and right nādis now flows through the middle one (Sushumnā). There is no doubt about it. You should swallow the air through the void (Sushumnā) between Idā and Piṅgalā. In that place is khecharīmudrā situated, and that is the seat of Truth. Again that is khecharīmudrā which is situated in the ākāśa-chakra (in the head) in the nirālamba (supportless) seat between the sun and moon (viz., Idā and Piṅgalā). When the tongue has been lengthened to the length of a kalā (digit) by the incision (of the frænum lingum) and by rubbing and milking it (viz., the tongue), fix the gaze between the two eyebrows and close the hole in the skull with the tongue reversed. This is khecharīmudrā. When the tongue and the chitta (mind) both move in the ākāś (khecharī), then the person with his tongue raised up becomes immortal. Firmly pressing the yoni (perineum) by the left heel, stretching out the right leg, grasping the feet with both hands and inhaling the air through the nostrils, practise kantha-bandha,24 retaining the air upwards. By that, all afflictions are destroyed; then poison is digested as if it were nectar. Asthma, splenetic disease, the turning up of the anus and the numbness of the skin are removed. This is the means of conquering prāna and destroying death. Pressing the yoni by the left heel, place the other foot over the left thigh: inhale the air, rest the chin on the chest, contract the yoni and contemplate, (as far as possible), your Ātmā as situated within your mind. Thus is the direct perception (of truth) attained.

“Inhaling the prāna from outside and filling the stomach with it, centre the prāna with the mind in the middle of the navel, at the tip of the nose and at the toes during the sandhyās (sunset and sunrise) or at all times. (Thus) the yogin is freed from all diseases and fatigue. By centring his prāna at the tip of his nose, he obtains mastery over the element of air; by centring it at the middle of his navel, all diseases are destroyed; by centring it at the toes, his body becomes light. He who drinks the air (drawn) through the tongue destroys fatigue, thirst and diseases. He who drinks the air with his mouth during the two sandhyās and the last two hours of the night, within three months the auspicious Sarasvatī (goddess of speech) is present in his vāk (speech) viz., (he becomes eloquent and learned in his speech). In six months, he is free from all diseases. Drawing the air by the tongue, retain the air at the root of the tongue. The wise man thus drinking nectar enjoys all prosperity. Fixing the Ātmā in the Ātmā itself in the middle of the eyebrows, (having inhaled) through Idā and breaking through that (centre) thirty times, even a sick man is freed from disease. He who draws the air through the nādis and retains it for twenty-four minutes in the navel and in the sides of the stomach becomes freed from disease. He who for the space of a month during the three sandhyās (sunset, sunrise, and midnight or noon) draws the air through the tongue, pierces thirty times and retains his breath in the middle of his navel, becomes freed from all fevers and poisons. He who retains the prāna together with the mind at the tip of his nose even for the space of a muhūrta (forty-eight minutes), destroys all sins that were committed by him during one hundred births.

“Through the samyama of tāra (Om), he knows all things. By retaining the mind at the tip of his nose, he acquires a knowledge of Indra-world;25 below that, he acquires a knowledge of Agni-(fire) world.26 Through the samyama of chitta in the eye, he gets a knowledge of all worlds: in the ear, a knowledge of Yama-(the god of death) world:27 in the sides of the ear, a knowledge of Nṛṛti-world:28 in the back of it (the ear), a knowledge of Varuna-world:29 in the left ear, a knowledge of Vāyu-world:30 in the throat, a knowledge of Soma-(moon) world:31 in the left eye, a knowledge of Śiva-world:32 in the head, a knowledge of Brahmā-world:33 in the soles of the feet, a knowledge of Atala world:34 in the feet, a knowledge of Vitala world: in the ankles, a knowledge of Nitala (rather Sutala) world: in the calves, a knowledge of Sutala (rather Talātāla world): in the knees, a knowledge of Mahātala world: in the thighs, a knowledge of Rasātala world: in the loins, a knowledge of Talātala (rather Pātāla) world: in the navel, a knowledge of Bhūrloka (earth-world): in the stomach, a knowledge of Bhuvar (world): in the heart, a knowledge of Suvar (world): in the place above the heart, a knowledge of Mahar world: in the throat, a knowledge of Jana world: in the middle of the brows, a knowledge of Tapa world: in the head, a knowledge of Satya world.

“By conquering dharma and adharma, one knows the past and the future. By centring it on the sound of every creature, a knowledge of the cry (or language) of the animal is produced. By centring it on the sañchita-karma (past karma yet to be enjoyed), a knowledge of one’s previous births arises in him. By centring it on the mind of another, a knowledge of the mind (or thoughts) of others is induced. By centring it on the kāya-rūpa (or form of the body), other forms are seen. By fixing it on the bala (strength), the strength of persons like Hanūmān is obtained. By fixing it on the sun, a knowledge of the worlds arises. By fixing it on the moon, a knowledge of the constellation is produced. By fixing it on the Dhruva (Polar star) a perception of its motion is induced. By fixing it on his own (Self), one acquires the knowledge of Purusha; on the navel, he attains a knowledge of the kāya-vyūha (mystical arrangement of all the particles of the body so as to enable a person to wear out his whole karma in one life): on the well of the throat, freedom from hunger and thirst arises: on the Kūrma nādi (which is situated in the well of the throat), a firmness (of concentration) takes place. By fixing it on the tārā (pupil of the eye), he obtains the sight of the siddhas (spiritual personages). By conquering the ākāś in the body, he is able to soar in the ākāś: (in short) by centring the mind in any place, he conquers the siddhis appertaining to that place.

“Then comes pratyāhāra, which is of five kinds. It is the drawing away of the organs from attaching themselves to the objects of senses. Contemplating upon everything that one sees as Ātmā is pratyāhāra. Renouncing the fruits of one’s daily actions is pratyāhāra. Turning away from all objects of sense is pratyāhāra. Dhāranā in the eighteen important places (mentioned below) is pratyāhāra, (viz.,) the feet, the toes, the ankles, the calves, the knees, the thighs, the anus, the penis, the navel, the heart, the well of the throat, the palate, the nose, the eyes, the middle of the brows, the forehead, and the head in ascending and descending orders.

“Then (comes) dhāranā. It is of three kinds, (viz.,) fixing the mind in the Ātmā, bringing the external ākāś into the ākaś of the heart, and contemplating the five mūrtis (forms of devatās) in the five elements—earth, āpas, fire, vāyu, and ākaś.

“Then comes dhyāna. It is of two kinds, saguna (with gunas or quality) and nirguna (without quality). Saguna is the meditation of a mūrti. Nirguna is on the reality of Self.

“Samādhi is the union of the Jīvātmā (individual self) and the Paramātmā (higher self) without the threefold state, (viz., the knower, the known, and the knowledge). It is of the nature of extreme bliss and pure consciousness.

“Thus ends the first chapter of Śāndilya Upanishad.”

Chapter II

Then the Bṛahmarshi Śāndilya not obtaining the knowledge of Brahman in the four Vedas, approached the Lord Atharvan and asked him: “What is it? Teach me the science of Brahman by which I shall obtain that which is most excellent.”

Atharvan replied: “O Śāndilya, Brahman is satya, vijñāna and ananta in which all this (world) is interwoven, warp-wise and woof-wise, from which all originated and into which all are absorbed, and which being known makes everything else known. It is without hands and feet, without eyes and ears, without tongue or without body, and is unreachable and undefinable. From which, vāk (speech) and mind return, being unable to obtain (or reach) It. It is to be cognised by jñāna and yoga.35 From which, prajñā of old sprang. That which is one and non-dual, that which pervades everything like ākāś, which is extremely subtle, without a blemish, actionless, sat (be-ness) only, the essence of the bliss of consciousness, beneficent, calm and immortal and which is beyond. That is Brahman. Thou art That. Know That by wisdom. He who is the one, the shining, the giver of the power of Ātmā, the omniscient, the lord of all, and the inner soul of all beings, who lives in all beings, who is hidden in all beings and the source of all beings, who is reachable only through yoga and who creates, supports and destroys everything—He is Ātmā. Know the several worlds in the Ātma. Do not grieve, O knower of Ātmā, thou shalt reach the end of pains.”

Chapter III

Then Śāndilya questioned Atharvan thus: “From the Brahman that is Om, imperishable, actionless, beneficial, sat (be-ness) only and supreme, how did this universe arise? How does it exist in It? And how is it absorbed in It? Please solve me this doubt.”

Atharvan replied: The Supreme Brahman, the Truth, is the imperishable and the actionless. Then from the formless Brahman, three forms (or aspects) arose, (viz.,) nishkalā (partless,) sakalā (with parts), and sakalā-nishkalā (with and without parts). That which is satya, vijñāna and ānanda, That which is actionless, without any impurity, omnipresent, extremely subtle, having faces in every direction, undefinable and immortal—that is His nishkalā aspect. Maheśvara (the great Lord) who is black and yellow rules, with avidyā, mūlaprakṛti or māyā that is red, white, and black, and that is co-existent with Him. This is his sakalā-nishkalā aspect. Then the Lord desired (or willed) by his spiritual wisdom (thus): May I become many?; may I bring forth? Then from this Person who was contemplating and whose desires are fulfilled, three letters sprang up. Three vyāhṛtis,36 the three-footed Gāyatrī,37 the three Vedas, the three devas, the three varnas (colours or castes) and the three fires sprang. That Supreme Lord who is endowed with all kinds of wealth, who is all pervading, who is situated in the hearts of all beings, who is the Lord of māyā and whose form is māyā—He is Brahma. He is Vishnu: He is Rudra: He is Indra: He is all the devas: He is all the bhūtas (elements or beings): He only is before: He only is behind: He only is on our left: He only is on our right: He only is below: He only is above: He only is the all. That form of him as Dattātreya,38 who sports with his Śakti, who is kind to his devotees, who is brilliant as fire, resembling the petals or a red lotus and is of four hands, who is mild and shines sinlessly—this is His sakalā form.”

Then Śāndilya questioned Atharvan, “O Lord, that which is Sat only and the essence of the bliss of consciousness—why is He called Parabrahman?”

Atharvan replied: “Because He increases bṛhati and causes to increase everything (bṛhanti); so he is called Parabrahman. Why is He called Ātmā? Since He obtains (āpnoti) everything, since He takes back everything and since He is everything, so he is called Ātmā. Why is He called Maheśvara (the great Lord)? Since by the sound of the words Mahat-Īśa (the great Lord) and by His own power, the great Lord governs everything. Why is He called Dattātreya? Because the Lord being extremely pleased with Atri (Ṛshi) who was performing a most difficult penance and who had expressed his desire to see Him who is light itself, offered Himself (datta) as their son, and because the woman Anasūyā was his mother and Atri was his father. Therefore he who knows the (secret) meaning knows everything. He who always contemplates on the supreme that It is himself becomes a knower of Brahman. Here these ślokas (stanzas) occur (to memory). ‘He who contemplates always the Lord of Lords and the ancient thus—as Dattātreya, the beneficent, the calm, of the colour of sapphire, one who delights in his own māyā and the Lord who has shaken off everything, as naked and as one whose whole body is besmeared with the holy ashes, who has matted hair, who is the Lord of all, who has four arms, who is bliss in appearance, whose eyes are like full-blown lotus, who is the store of jñāna and yoga, who is the spiritual instructor of all the worlds and who is dear to all the yogins, and one who is merciful towards His devotees, who is the witness of all and who is worshipped by all the siddhas is freed from all sins and will attain (the Spirit).’

“Om Satyam (truth). Thus ends the Upanishad.”


1. Under yama and niyama Patañjali has five kinds only.

2. In the explanation one more posture is introduced.

3. In Varāha Upanishad and later on, this is named “Kandha”. Herein is described the web of life.

4. This should be perhaps—between Piṅgalā and Payasvinī is Pūshā.

5. Yaśasvinī should be “Śāṅkhinī.”

6. Here the process of digestion of food is described.

7. Both by physical protection and that of mantras to scare away evil spirits.

8. He is the son of Śiva, having an elephant’s face symbolical of wisdom. He is considered as the remover of all obstacles, and as such is he invoked and worshipped in the beginning of every religious rite.

9. Idā and Piṅgalā are the two nādis upon which our breaths alternate from the left nostril to the right and vice versa and between which is Sushumnā. Hence these two terms are applied to and mean the left and right nostrils.

10. According to Yogatattva-Upanishad, a mātrā is the time occupied in circling the knee once with the palm of the hand and filliping the fingers.

11. According to Varāha-Upanishad the seat of fire is the mūlādhāra (sacral plexus).

12. [See note 9.]

13. The original is not clear. It says, “For the space of 3, 4, 3, 4, 7, 3 and 4 months” which when added becomes 28.

14. According to the Mantra Sāstra, Prānāyāma is performed through the letters of Samskṛt alphabet, the vowels corresponding to inspiration, etc.

15. These are the Goddesses representing Śakti and being the wives of Brahmā, Vishnu, and Rudra.

16. [See note 15]

17. [See note 15.]

18. This passage clearly indicates the dreadful consequences of the performance of Prānāyāma rashly and without a guru.

19. As already pointed out, the Sushumnā nādi is between Idā and Piṅgalā. If Prāna which alternates ordinarily between Idā and Piṅgalā is restrained by long kumbhaka, then it along with the soul, its attendant will enter the Sushumnā (central nādi) at one of the three places where it yields space for entrance through such restraint of breath and in the navel, from the Sarasvatī nādi on the west. After such entry it is that the yogin becomes dead to the world, being in the state called trance.

20. Through such and other methods of Prānāyāma prescribed in this passage and the subsequent ones, chronic diseases that defy European doctors will be rooted out.

21. He becomes an Ūrdhva-rētas—his vital energy goes up.

22. There are six centres of energy in the body (mūlādhāra, sacral plexus, etc.), which are presided over by six saktis (goddesses of energy).

23. This twelfth centre is identified by some with the pituitary body in the head, there being six centres in the brain besides the six below the brain.

24. Lit., binding the air up the throat.

25. These correspond severally to the several directions and the devatās presiding over them, corresponding respectively to east, south-east, south, southwest, west, north-west, north, and north-east.

26. [See note 25.]

27. [See note 25.]

28. [See note 25.]

29. [See note 25.]

30. [See note 25.]

31. [See note 25.]

32. [See note 25.]

33. [See note 25.]

34. The fourteen worlds, lokas and talas are referred to; the order in talas seems to be wrong, Talatala should be in the middle.

35. Some texts leave the words “and yoga”.

36. These relate to the Gāyatrī mantras depending upon sound.

37. [See note 36.]

38. According to Bhāgavata, he is one of the minor incarnations of Vishnu.