[Yogakundalī Upanishad]1

Chapter I

Chitta2 has two causes, vāsanās and (prāna) vāyu. If-one of them is controlled, then both are controlled. Of these two, a person should control (prāna) vāyu always through moderate food, postures, and thirdly śakti-chāla.3 I shall explain the nature of these. Listen to it, O Gautama. One should take a sweet and nutritious food,4 leaving a fourth (of his stomach) unfilled) in order to please Śiva (the patron of yogins). This is called moderate food. Posture herein required is of two kinds, padma and vajra. Placing the two heels over the two opposite thighs (respectively) is the padma (posture) which is the destroyer of all sins. Placing one heel below the mūlakanda5 and the other over it and sitting with the neck, body and head erect is the vajra posture. The śakti (mentioned above) is only kundalinī. A wise man should take it up from its place (viz., the navel, upwards) to the middle of the eyebrows. This is called śakti-chāla. In practising it, two things are necessary, Sarasvatīchālana6 and the restraint of prāna (breath). Then through practice, kundalinī (which is spiral) becomes straightened. Of these two, I shall explain to you first Sarasvatī-chālana. It is said by the wise of old that Sarasvatī is no other than Arundhatī.7 It is only by rousing her up that kundalinī is roused. When prāna (breath) is passing through (one’s) Idā (left nostril), he should assume firmly padma-posture and should lengthen (inwards) 4 digits the ākāś of 12 digits.8 Then the wise man should bind the (sarasvatī) nādi by means of this lengthened (breath) and holding firmly together(both his ribs near the navel) by means of the forefingers and thumbs of both hands, (one hand on each side) should stir up kundalinī with all his might from right to left often and often; for a period of two muhūrtas (48 minutes), he should be stirring it up fearlessly. Then he should draw up a little when kundalinī enters sushumnā. By this means, kundalinī enters the mouth of sushumnā. Prāna (also) having left (that place) enters of itself the sushumnā (along with kundalinī). By compressing the neck, one should also expand the navel. Then by shaking sarasvatī, prāna goes above (to) the chest. Through the contraction of the neck, prays, goes above from the chest. Sarasvatī who has sound in her womb should be shaken (or thrown into vibration) each day. Therefore by merely shaking it, one is cured of diseases. Gulma (a splenetic disease), jalodara (dropsy), plīha (a splenetic disease) and all other diseases arising within the belly, are undoubtedly destroyed by shaking this Śakti.

I shall now briefly describe to you prānāyāma. Prāna is the vāyu that moves in the body and its restraint within is known as kumbhaka. It is of two kinds, sahita and kevala.9 One should practise sahita till he gets kevala. There are four bhedas (lit., piercings or divisions) viz., sūrya, ujjāyī, śitalī, and bhastrī. The kumbhaka associated with these four is called sahita kumbhaka.

Being seated in the padma posture upon a pure and pleasant seat which gives ease and is neither too high nor too low, and in a place which is pure, lovely and free from pebbles, etc., and which for the length of a bow is free from cold, fire, and water, one should shake (or throw into vibration) Sarasvatī; slowly inhaling the breath from outside, as long as he desires, through the right nostril, he should exhale it through the left nostril. He should exhale it after purifying his skull (by forcing the breath up). This destroys the four kinds of evils caused by vāyu as also by intestinal worms. This should be done often and it is this which is spoken of as sūryabheda.

Closing the mouth and drawing up slowly the breath as before with the nose through both the nādis (or nostrils) and retaining it in the space between the heart and the neck, one should exhale it through the left nostril. This destroys the heat caused in the head as well as the phlegm in the throat. It removes all diseases, purifies his body and increases the (gastric) fire within. It removes also the evils arising in the nādis, jalodara (water-belly or dropsy) and dhātus. This kumbhaka is called ujjāyī and may be practised (even) when walking or standing.

Drawing up the breath as before through the tongue with (the hissing sound of) and retaining it as before, the wise man should slowly exhale it through (both) the nostrils. This is called śītalī kumbhaka and destroys diseases, such as gulma, plīha, consumption, bile, fever, thirst, and poison.

Seated in the padma posture with belly and neck erect, the wise man should close the mouth and exhale with care through the nostrils. Then he should inhale a little with speed up to the heart, so that the breath may fill the space with noise between the neck and skull. Then he should exhale in the same way and inhale often and often. Just as the bellows of a smith are moved (viz., stuffed with air within and then the air is let out), so he should move the air within his body. If the body gets tired, then he should inhale through the right nostril. If his belly is full of vāyu, then he should press well his nostrils with all his fingers except his forefinger, and performing kumbhaka as before, should exhale through the left nostril. This frees one from diseases of fire in (or inflammation of) the throat, increases the gastric fire within, enables one to know the kundalinī, produces purity removing sins, gives happiness and pleasure and destroys phlegm which is the bolt (or obstacle) to the door at the mouth of brahmanādi (viz., sushumnā). It pierces also the three granthis10 (or knots) differentiated through the three gunas. This kumbhaka is known as bhastrī and should especially be performed.

Through these four ways when kumbhaka is near (or is about to be performed.), the sinless yogin should practise the three bandhas.11 The first is called mūlabandha. The second is called uddiyāna, and the third is jālandhara. Their nature will be thus described. Apāna (breath) which has a downward tendency is forced up by one bending down. This process is called mūlabandha. When apāna is raised up and reaches the sphere of agni (fire), then the flame of agni grows long, being blown about by vāyu. Then agni and apāna come to (or commingle with) prāna in a heated state. Through this agni which is very fiery, there arises in the body the flaming (or the fire) which rouses the sleeping kundalinī through its heat. Then this kundalinī makes a hissing noise, becomes erect like a serpent beaten with stick and enters the hole of brahmanādi (sushumnā). Therefore yogins should daily practise mūlabandha often. Uddiyāna should be performed at the end of kumbhaka and at the beginning of expiration. Because prāna uddīyatē (viz., goes up) the sushumnā in this bandha, therefore it called uddiyāna by the yogins. Being seated in the vajra posture, and holding firmly the two toes by the two hands, he should press at the kanda and at the place near the two ankles. Then he should gradually upbear the tāna12 (thread or nādi) which is on the western side first to udara (the upper part of the abdomen above the navel), then to the heart and then to the neck. When prāna reaches the sandhi (junction) of navel, slowly it removes the impurities (or diseases) in the navel. Therefore this should be frequently practised. The bandha called jālandhara should be practised at the end of kumbhaka. This jālandhara is of the form of the contraction of the neck and is an impediment to the passage of vāyu (upwards). When the neck is contracted at once by bending downwards (so that the chin may touch the breast), prāna goes through brahmanādi on the western tāna in the middle. Assuming the seat as mentioned before, one should stir up sarasvatī and control prāna. On the first day kumbhaka should be done four times; on the second day it should be done ten times, and then five times separately; on the third day, twenty times will do, and afterwards kumbhaka should be performed with the three bandhas and with an increase of five times each day.

Diseases are generated in one’s body through the following causes, viz., sleeping in daytime, late vigils over night, excess of sexual intercourse, moving in crowd, the checking of the discharge of urine and fæces, the evil of unwholesome food and laborious mental operation with prāna. If a yogin is afraid of such diseases (when attacked by them), he says, “my diseases have arisen from my practice of yoga.” Then he will discontinue this practice. This is said to be the first obstacle to yoga The second (obstacle) is doubt; the third is carelessness; the fourth, laziness; the fifth, sleep; the sixth, the not leaving of objects (of sense); the seventh, erroneous perception; the eighth, sensual objects; the ninth, want of faith;13 and the tenth, the failure to attain the truth of yoga. A wise man should abandon these ten obstacles after great deliberation. The practice of prānāyāma should be performed daily with the mind firmly fixed on Truth. Then chitta is absorbed in sushumnā, and prāna (therefore) never moves. When the impurities (of chitta) are thus removed and prāna is absorbed in sushumnā, he becomes a (true) yogin. Apāna, which has a downward tendency should be raised up with effort by the contraction (of the anus), and this is spoken of as mūlabandhā. Apāna thus raised up mixes with agni and then they go up quickly to the seat of prāna. Then prāna and apāna uniting with one another go to kundalinī, which is coiled up and asleep. Kundalinī being heated by agni and stirred up by vāyu, extends her body in the mouth of sushumnā, pierces the brahmagranthi formed of rajas, and flashes at once like lightning at the mouth of sushumnā. Then it goes up at once through vishnūgranthi to the heart. Then it goes up through rudragranthi and above it to the middle of the eyebrows; having pierced this place, it goes up to the mandala (sphere) of the moon. It dries up the moisture produced by the moon in the anāhatachakra having sixteen petals.14 When the blood is agitated through the speed of prāna, it becomes bile from its contact with the sun, after which it goes to the sphere of the moon where it becomes of the nature of the flow of pure phlegm. How does it (blood) which is very cold become hot when it flows there? (Since) at the same time the intense white form of moon is speedily heated.15 Then being agitated, it goes up. Through taking in this, chitta which was moving amidst sensual objects externally, is restrained there. The novice enjoying this high state attains peace and becomes devoted to Ātmā. Kundalinī assumes the eight16 forms of prakṛti (matter) and attains Śiva by encircling him and dissolves itself in Śiva. Thus rajas-śukla17 (seminal fluid) which rises up goes to Śiva along with marut (vāyu); prāna and apāna which are always produced become equal. Prānas flow in all things, great and small, describable or indescribable, as fire in gold. Then this body which is ādhibhautika (composed of elements) becomes ādhidaivata (relating to a tutelar deity) and is thus purified. Then it attains the stage of ativāhika.18 Then the body being freed from the inert state becomes stainless and of the nature of Chit. In it, the ativāhika becomes the chief of all, being of the nature of That. Like the conception of the snake in a rope, so the idea of the release from wife and samsāra is the delusion of time. Whatever appears is unreal. Whatever is absorbed is unreal. Like the illusory conception of silver in the mother-of-pearl, so is the idea of man and woman. The microcosm and the macrocosm are one and the same; so also the liṅga and sūtrātma, svabhāva (substance) and form and the self-resplendent light and Chidātmā.

The Śakti named kundalinī, which is like a thread in the lotus and is resplendent, is biting with the upper end of its hood (namely, mouth) at the root of the lotus the mūlakanda. Taking hold of its tail with its mouth, it is in contact with the hole of brahmarandhra (of sushumnā). If a person seated in the pad ma posture and having accustomed himself to the contraction of his anus makes his vāyu go upward with the mind intent on kumbhaka, then agni comes to svādhishthāna flaming, owing to the blowing of vāyu. From the blowing of vāyu and agni, the chief (kundalinī) pierces open the brahmagranthi and then vishnugranthi. Then it pierces rudragranthi, after that, (all) the six lotuses (or plexuses). Then Śakti is happy with Śiva in sahasrāra kamala (1,000 lotuses’ seat or pineal gland). This should be known as the highest avasthā (state) and it alone is the giver of final beatitude. Thus ends the first chapter.

Chapter II

I shall hereafter describe the science called khecharī which is such that one who knows it is freed from old age and death in this world. One who is subject to the pains of death, disease and old age should, O sage, on knowing this science make his mind firm and practise khecharī. One should regard that person as his guru on earth who knows khecharī, the destroyer of old age and death, both from knowing the meaning of books and practice, and should perform it with all his heart. The science of khecharī is not easily attainable, as also its practice. Its practice and melana19 are not accomplished simultaneously. Those that are bent upon practice alone do not get melana. Only some get the practice, O Brahman, after several births, but melana is not obtained even after a hundred births. Having undergone the practice after several births, some (solitary) yogin gets the melana in some future birth as the result of his practice. When a yogin gets this melana from the mouth of his guru, then he obtains the siddhis mentioned in the several books. When a man gets this melana through books and the significance, then he attains the state of Śiva freed from all rebirth. Even gurus may not be able to know this without books. Therefore this science is very difficult to master. An ascetic should wander over the earth so long as he fails to get this science, and when this science is obtained, then he has got the siddhi in his hand (viz., mastered the psychical powers). Therefore one should regard as Achyuta (Vishnu) the person who imparts the melana, as also him who gives out the science. He should regard as Śiva him who teaches the practice. Having got this science from me, you should not reveal it to others. Therefore one who knows this should protect it with all his efforts (viz., should never give it out except to persons who deserve it). O Brahman, one should go to the place where lives the guru, who is able to teach the divine yoga and there learn from him the science khecharī, and being then taught well by him, should at first practise it carefully. By means of this science, a person will attain the siddhi of khecharī. Joining with khecharī śakti (viz., kundalinī śakti) by means of the (science) of khecharī which contains the bīja (seed of letter) of khecharī, one becomes the lord of khecharas (Devas) and lives always amongst them. Khecharī bīja (seed-letter) is spoken of as agni encircled with water and as the abode of khecharas (Devas). Through this yoga, siddhi is mastered. The ninth (bīja) letter of somāmśa (soma or moon part) should also be pronounced in the reverse order. Then a letter composed of three amśas of the form of moon has been described; and after that, the eighth letter should be pronounced in the reverse order; then consider it as the supreme and its beginning as the fifth, and this is said to the kūta (horns) of the several bhinnas (or parts) of the moon.20 This which tends to the accomplishment of all yogas, should be learnt through the initiation of a guru. He who recites this twelve times every day, will not get even in sleep that māyā (illusion) which is born in his body and which is the source of all vicious deeds. He who recites this five lakhs of times with very great care—to him the science of khecharī will reveal itself. All obstacles vanish and the devas are pleased. The destruction of valīpalita (viz., wrinkle and greyness of hair) will take place without doubt. Having acquired this great science, one should practise it afterwards. If not, O Brahman, he will suffer without getting any siddhi in the path of khecharī. If one does not get this nectarlike science in this practice, he should get it in the beginning of melana and recite it always; (else) one who is without it never gets siddhi. As soon as he gets this science, he should practise it; and then the sage will soon get the siddhi. Having drawn out the tongue from the root of the palate, a knower of Ātmā should clear the impurity (of the tongue) for seven days according to the advice of his guru. He should take a sharp knife which is oiled and cleaned and which resembles the leaf of the plant snuhī (“Euphorbia antiquorum”) and should cut for the space of a hair (the frænum Lingui). Having powdered saindhava (rock-salt) and pathya (sea-salt), he should apply it to the place. On the seventh day, he should again cut for the space of a hair. Thus for the space of six months, he should continue it always gradually with great care. In six months, Śiro-bandha (bandha at the head),21 which is at the root of the tongue is destroyed. Then the yogin who knows timely action should encircle with Śiro-vastra (lit., the cloth of the head) the Vāk-Īśvarī (the deity presiding over speech) and should draw (it) up. Again by daily drawing it up for six months, it comes, O sage, as far as the middle of the eyebrows and obliquely up to the opening of the ears; having gradually practised, it goes to the root of the chin. Then in three years, it goes up easily to the end of the hair (of the head) It goes up obliquely to Śākha22 and downwards to the well of the throat. In another three years, it occupies brahmarandhra and stops there without doubt. Crosswise it goes up to the top of the head and downwards to the well of the throat. Gradually it opens the great adamantine door in the head. The rare science (of khecharī) bīja has been explained before. One should perform the six aṅgas (parts) of this mantra by pronouncing it in six different intonations. One should do this in order to attain all the siddhis; and this karanyāsam23 should be done gradually and not all at a time, since the body of one who does it all at once will soon decay. Therefore it should be practised, O best of sages, little by little. When the tongue goes to the brahmarandhra through the outer path, then one should place the tongue after moving the bolt of Brahma which cannot be mastered by the devas. On doing this for three years with the point of the finger, he should make the tongue enter within: then it enters brahmadvāra (or hole). On entering the brahmadvāra, one should practise mathana (churning) well. Some intelligent men attain siddhi even without mathana. One who is versed in khecharī mantra accomplishes it without mathana. By doing the japa and mathana, one reaps the fruits soon. By connecting a wire made of gold, silver or iron with the nostrils by means of a thread soaked in milk, one should restrain his breath in his heart and seated in a convenient posture with his eyes concentrated between his eyebrows, he should perform mathana slowly. In six months, the state of mathana becomes natural like sleep in children. And it is not advisable to do mathana always. It should be done (once) only in every month. A yogin should not revolve his tongue in the path. After doing this for twelve years, siddhi is surely obtained. Then he sees the whole universe in his body as not being different from Ātmā. This path of the ūrdhvakundalinī (higher kundalinī), O chief of kings, conquers the macrocosm. Thus ends the second chapter.

Chapter III

Melanamantra.—ह्रीं (Hrīṃ), भं (bhaṃ), सं (saṃ), षं (shaṃ), फं (phaṃ), सं (saṃ), and क्षं (kshaṃ).

The lotus-born (Brahma) said:

O Śaṅkara, (among) new moon (the first day of the lunar fortnight) and full moon, which is spoken of as its (mantra’s) sign? In the first day of lunar fortnight and during new moon and full moon (days), it should be made firm and there is no other way (or time). A man longs for an object through passion and is infatuated with passion for objects. One should always leave these two and seek the Nirañjana (stainless). He should abandon everything else which he thinks is favourable to himself. Keeping the manas in the midst of śakti, and śakti in the midst of manas, one should look into manas by means of manas. Then he leaves even the highest stage. Manas alone is the bindu, the cause of creation and preservation. It is only through manas that bindu is produced, like the curd from milk. The organs of manas is not that which is situated in the middle of bandhana. Bandhana is there where Śakti is between the sun and moon. Having known sushumnā and its bheda (piercing) and making the vāyu go in the middle, one should stand in the seat of bindu, and close the nostrils. Having known vāyu, the above-mentioned bindu and the sattva-prakṛti as well as the six chakras, one should enter the sukha-mandala (viz., the sahasrāra or pineal gland, the sphere of happiness). There are six chakras. Mūlādhāra is in the anus; svādhishthāna is near the genital organ; manipūraka is in the navel; anāhata is in the heart; viśuddhi is at the root of the neck and ājñā is in the head (between the two eyebrows). Having known these six mandalas (spheres), one should enter the sukhamandala (pineal gland), drawing up the vāyu and should send it (vāyu) upwards. He who practises thus (the control of) vāyu becomes one with brahmānda (the macrocosm). He should practise (or master) vāyu, bindu, chitta, and chakra.

Yogins attain the nectar of equality through samādhi alone. Just as the fire latent in (sacrificial) wood does not appear without churning, so the lamp of wisdom does not arise without the abhyāsa yoga (or practice of yoga). The fire placed in a vessel does not give light outside. When the vessel is broken, its light appears without. One’s body is spoken of as the vessel, and the seat of “That” is the fire (or light) within; and when it (the body) is broken through the words of a guru, the light of brahmajñāna becomes resplendent. With the guru as the helmsman, one crosses the subtle body and the ocean of samsāra through the affinities of practice. That vāk24 (power of speech) which sprouts in parā, gives forth two leaves in paśyantī, buds forth in madhyamā and blossoms in vaikharī—that vāk which has before been described, reaches the stage of the absorption of sound, reversing the above order (viz., beginning with vaikharī, etc). Whoever thinks that He who is the great lord of that vāk, who is the undifferentiated and who is the illuminator of that vāk is Self; whoever thinks over thus, is never affected by words, high or low (or good or bad). The three (aspects25 of consciousness), viśva, taijasa, and prājña (in man), the three Virat, Hiranyagarbha, and Īśvara in the universe, the egg of the universe, the egg of man26 and the seven worlds—all these in turn are absorbed in Pratyagātma through the absorption of their respective upādhis (vehicles). The egg being heated by the fire of jñāna is absorbed with its kārana (cause) into Paramātmā (Universal Self). Then it becomes one with Parabrahman. It is then neither steadiness nor depth, neither light nor darkness, neither describable nor distinguishable. Sat (Be-ness) alone remains. One should think of Ātmā as being within the body like a light in a vessel. Ātmā is of the dimensions of a thumb, is a light without smoke and without form, is shining within (the body) and is undifferentiated and immutable.

The Vijñāna Ātmā that dwells in this body is deluded by māyā during the states of waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep; but after many births, owing to the effect of good karma, it wishes to attain its own state. Who am I? How has this stain of mundane existence accrued to me? What becomes in the dreamless sleep of me who am engaged in business in the waking and dreaming states? Just as a bale of cotton is burnt by fire, so the Chidābhāsa27 which is the result of non-wisdom, is burnt by the (wise) thoughts like the above and by its own supreme illumination. The outer burning (of body as done in the world) is no burning at all. When the wordly wisdom is destroyed, Pratyagātma that is in the dahara (ākāś or ether of the heart) obtains vijñāna, diffusing itself everywhere and burns in an instant jñānamaya and manomaya (sheaths). After this, He himself shines always within, like a light within a vessel.

That muni who contemplates thus till sleep and till death is to be known as a jīvanmukta. Having done what ought to be done, he is a fortunate person. And having given up (even) the state of a jīvanmukta, he attains videhamu.kti (emancipation in a disembodied state), after his body wears off. He attains the state, as if of moving in the air. Then That alone remains which is soundless, touchless, formless, and deathless, which is the rasa (essence), eternal, and odourless, which has neither beginning nor end, which is greater than the great, and which is permanent, stainless, and decayless.

Thus ends the Upanishad.


1. In this Upanishad are stated the ways by which the Kundalinī power is roused from the navel upwards to the middle of the eyebrows and then up to sahasrāra in the head: this being one of the important works of an adept to master the forces of nature.

2. Chitta is the flitting aspect of Antaḥkarana.

3. Lit., the moving of śakti which is Kundalinī.

4. Regarding the quantity to be taken, one should take of solid food half of his stomach: of liquid food, one quarter, leaving the remaining quarter empty for the air to percolate.

5. Mūlakanda is the root of kanda, the genital organ.

6. The moving of sarasvatī nādi situated on the west of the navel among the 14 nādis (Vide Vāraha and other Upanishads).

7. Sarasvatī is called also Arundhatī who is literally one that helps good actions being done and the wife of Ṛshi Vasishtha—also the star that is shown to the bride on marriage occasions.

8. In exhalation, prāna goes out 16 digits and in inhalation, goes in only for 12, thus losing 4. But if inhaled for 16, then the power is aroused.

9. Lit., associated with and alone. Vide Śāndilya-Upanishad.

10. They are Brahmagranthi, Vishnugranthi, and Rudragranthi.

11. Bandhas are certain kinds of position of the body.

12. This probably refers to Sarasvatī Nādi.

13. The text is Anākhiam which has no sense. It has been translated as Anāstha.

14. Twelve seems to be the right number of petals in the anāhata-chakra of the heart; but the moon is probably meant having sixteen rays.

15. The passages here are obscure.

16. They are Mūlaprakṛti, Mahat, Ahaṅkāra and the five elements.

17. Here it is the astral seminal fluid which, in the case of a neophyte, not having descended to a gross fluid through the absence of sexual desire, rises up being conserved as a spiritual energy.

18. A stage of being able to convey to other bodies the deity appointed by God to help in the conveying of sūkshma (subtle) body to other bodies at the expiry of good actions which contribute to the enjoyment of material pleasures (vide Apte’s Dictionary).

19. Melana is lit., joining. This is the key to this science which seems to be kept profoundly secret and revealed by adepts only at initiation, as will appear from the subsequent passages in this Upanishad.

20. All these are very mystic.

21. [See note 20.]

22. Probably it here means some part below the skull.

23. Certain motions of the fingers and hands in the pronunciation of mantras.

24. Vāk is of four kinds (as said here) parā, pasyantī, madhyamā, and vaikharī. Vaikharī being the lowest and the grossest of sounds, and part being the highest. In evolution vāk begins from the highest to the lowest and in involution it takes a reverse order, to merge into the highest subtle sound (Parā).

25. The first three aspects of consciousness refer to the gross, subtle, and kārana bodies of men, while the second three aspects refer to the three bodies of the universe. This is from the standpoint of the three bodies.

26. The egg of man—this shows that man in his formation is and appears as an egg, just as the universe is, and appears as an egg.

27. It is the consciousness that becomes distorted and is unable to cognise itself through the bodies.