Monday 1 July 2024

Yogopanishads – Shandilya Upanishad

Transcription of the lecture given by Mananeeya Sri Hanumantaraoji, All India Vice President of VRM & VK

Shandilyopanishad (śāṇḍilyopaniṣad) - Shandilya Upanishad. This is a Upanishad from the Atharvana Veda and it has three chapters. Majority of the mantras are in the first chapter. Prathamadhyaya, the first chapter contains 132 mantras, the second chapter is the smallest one with 6 mantras, and the third chapter which is the last one contains 21 mantras. So in all 159 mantras which speak about in detail various practices of the yoga sadhana, yoga techniques, the philosophy, the methodology, and finally the ultimate aim and goal, and the destiny of the yoga. Shandilya Upanishad also discusses various requirements, qualities, eligibilities of the disciple and also the guru, the teacher.


The Upanishad is a discussion between Shandilya Maharishi and Atharvanaha and the discussion begins with the question by the Shandilya Maharishi about the ultimate aim of the life and the quality of the consciousness. Then Atharvan, Atharvanaha explains what are all the various qualities gunas: saguna, nirguna of the consciousness and how to attain, and what are the various methods and techniques of the yoga. He begins with saying that the Ashtanga Yogaha, explains to Shandilya the Ashtanga Yogaha. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi, as you are aware Patanjali Yoga Sutra also talks the same and this 8 Angas. Yama has 10 constituents, Niyama has 10 constituents means Dashavidha Yama, Dashavidha Niyama; and Asanas are 8 - Ashta Asanas, 3 Pranayamas, Pratyahara has 5 - Panchavidha Pratyahara, then 5 Dharana techniques, 2 Dhyana techniques, of course Samadhi is the one.


And this Dasha, the 10 yamas are beautifully explained by Atharvanaha he says wondrously: Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Daya, Arjavam, Kshama, Dhrutihi, Mitahara, Shaucha  i.e. Nonviolence, Truthfulness, Nonstealing, Brahmacharya - Celebacy, then Daya that is the compassion, then Arjavam  - ability to pursue, ability to continue, maintain, then Kshama - forbearance, then Dhruti - tremendous stability, not going to give up, then Mitaharaha, then Shaucham - Cleanliness - all these are put as the 10 Yamas. Atharvan explains each one in detail what is Ahimsa, what is Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya Daya, Arjavam Kshama, Dhruti, what is Mitaharaha, what is Shaucham explains each one in detail. For example Brahmacharya he says it's not just giving up the sexual activity. It is not even having a thought at any stages Jagrata, Swapna, Shushupti Avasthas not even having a thought, not even having a word, and not even having an act. Manasa, Vacha, Karmanaha in all the Jagrata, Swapna and Shushupti avasthas that is the Brahmacharya, and or having the thought of Brahman in all these states and not having the thought of sexual thought in all these states both dimensions have been beautifully explained.


Then Atharvan explains to Shandilya the 10 Niyamas: Tapa, Santosha, Astikya Buddhi, Danam, Ishwara Pujanam, Siddhanta Shravanam, Hrihi, Mati, Japa Vrata - these are the beautiful descriptions given in the all the 10 Niyamas are in detail explained by the Rishi. Discussion is very detailed.


Then Ashtavidha Asana Nirupanam, the 8 asanas have been beautifully mentioned: Swastikasana, Gomukhasana, Padmasana, Veerasana, Simhasana, Bhadrasana, Muktasana, and Mayurasana. And what is each asana? What is swastikasana? Placing the soles of the two feet between the knees and the thighs and sitting erect and in balanced posture that is Swastikasana. Then what is the Gomukhasana? The right ankle on the left ankle and the left ankle on the right one both the sides that is the Gomukhasana; and the left ankle of the leg on the right and the right ankle on the left. So both types, this is the Gomukhasana and that resembles the cow the placement of the ankles resembles the face of the cow Gomukha.


Then the explanation of the Padmasana - the two thighs the feet are placed on the two thighs and holding the toes that is Padmasana. Like this, Veerasana, Simhasana, Muktasana, Siddhasana, Mayurasana, the discussion is very beautifully explained and very interesting to know that what is the benefit of asanas. Asana Jaya Phalam beautifully describes…


yenāsanaṃ vijitaṃ jagattrayaṃ tena vijitaṃ bhavati॥

yamaniyamāsanābhyāsayuktaḥ puruṣaḥ prāṇāyāmaṃ caret। tena nāḍyaḥ śuddhā bhavanti॥


By mastery over the practice of asana one can master the entire world, Jagathrayam that is all the activities of the mind and the body in these three states of existence can be mastered, controlled, monitored, can be won over by the practice of the asanas. And that sets for the Pranayama. When the Pranayama has been described, Maharishi talks about the Sharira Pravanaha very beautiful it is. To understand the biological and the physiological features as per the Yoga philosophy, and the biological and the physiological features of the human body in the Yoga Shastra it puts it that: the the body length of the body is 96 Angulas. This many times we get confused Angula means one inch. But if you understand one Angula is the length of one's thumb finger. It will differ from person to person and 96 of one's thumb finger's length is the length of the body length of the body doesn't mean only from the soul to the tip of the head, it also includes the length of both the hands. So length of both the hands and also from the soul to the tip of the head that is the 96 Angulas.


Then the Upanishad talks beautifully about the Kumbhakas, the Pranayama methods. As we see there are three Pranayama methods are given and beautifully the names have been beautifully mentioned by the Shandilya Upanishad. Before mentioning it, it talks about the various Nadis and Nadi Chakras. The 14 important Nadis have been mentioned by the Shandilya Upanishad the Nadis present in our body: Ida, Pingala, Susumna, Varani, Alambusa, Kuhu, Visvodara, Hastijihva, Yasovati, Payasvini, Pusa, Sankhini, Sarasvati, and Gandhari Nadis and where are the position of these Nadis. And it beautifully mentions Sushumna is the center of the one and the Ida is the left one toward the Sushumna; the right side of it is the Pingala; and the cooling the moon, the Chandraha flows through the Ida; the warming that the sun flows through the Pingalaha it is. The Moon is in the form of a Tamas and the Sun is in the form of a Rajas - Rajasika and Tamasika it is. It is relaxing but it can also take us to the Tamasika level.


The Sushumna is always very very balanced and equanimity is maintained, the flow of the Prana is balanced in the Sushumna. The balance of flow of Prana in the Sushumna is maintained by the flow of the Pranas in all these 14 Nadis especially between the Ida and the Pingala Nadis. The Sushumna enjoys the center, center balancing force. The back and the side of the Sushumna are the Saraswati and the Kuhu Nadi. Between Yashaswini and the Kuhu is the Varuni Nadi, between Pusha and Saraswati is the Payaswini Nadi, between Gandhari and Saraswati is the Yashaswini Nadi and in the middle of the center of the navel region is the Alambusa and in front of the Sushumna to the end of the lowest portion of the genitals that is the Kuhu Nadi and below and above is the Varuni Nadi flows behind it. This is how the gentle Yashaswini courses Aswanas big toes to the feet of the region, Pingala going upwards reaches as far as the right nostril and to the left nostril it ends. This is how various places Nadi sthanas and Nadi chakras wonderfully described by the Chandilya Upanishad and it is also mentioned in other Upanishads. Almost in the same fashion we should see we should feel that the flow of bio psychological energy in us, bio psychological neuro electrical energies in our body, the bio psycho neuro electrical energies within our body their directions and flows which are controlled and monitored by the essential vital energy which is the Prana even which has various components, balances the entire energy in our system. That is how the Upanishad speaks beautifully. This purification of these Nadis are an important dimension. And that is how the Upanishad talks about Nadi Shuddhi, Shushumna Nadi Shuddhi, and for that food is an important factor and practice is an important factor. What food we take affects our pranic flow and the purity of the Prana in our system.


Then the various dimensions of the Pranayama as mentioned Kapala Shodhana Pranayama - Ujjayi Pranayama, and Sitkara Pranayama, and Sheetala Pranayama have been mentioned. Ujjayi Pranayama, Sitkara Pranayama, Sheetala Pranayama these are the three Pranayama methods described beautifully in the Shandilya Upanishad. Similarly the Upanishad talks about the Kesari Mudra.


And the Upanishad brilliantly talks, explains wonderfully the five important Pratyaharas, five types of Pratyaharas. Generally we are aware of Pratyahara means just one simple Pratyahara but Panchavidha Pratyahara, that is how the Shandilya Upanishad gives. Panchavidha Pratyahara doesn't mean five types of Pratyaharas, five stages of Pratyahara. It is not five types but five stages of Pratyahara. Then it means when we have to withdraw the mind from the attachment of the senses to their sense objectives from the objects, what are the different stages involved in that those stages have been beautifully explained, that is the five important stages. The Panchavidha Pratyahara it is.


In that then the Panchavidha Dharana five types of Dharanas have been beautifully explained that is the mind stabilizing in the Akashaka, Dharakashaka. Then we find it is the three tattvas that is how the Upanishad describes the five types of the Dharanas. Panchavidha Dharana:


artha dhāraṇā। sā trividhā ātmani manodhāraṇaṃ daharākāśe bāhyākāśadhāraṇaṃ pṛthivyaptejovāyvākāśeṣu pañcamūrtidhāraṇaṃ ceti॥


Means the mind withdrawn from the external objects and the external stimulations and temptations brought down forced, focused into our own inner side, even from the Prithvi Aapas Tejo Vayur Aakashaha that is from the sensations and temptations of the Panchabhutas that is the Panchavidha Dharana.


Then the meditation is talked about the two important Dhyana methods two techniques of Dhyana is given: Saguna Dhyana and the Nirguna Dhyana. Saguna Dhyana is the Dhyana meditation on any object. An object means it has a shape and it has a name. It is the Saguna every object which has a shape and a name has a quality and every quality has a shape and a name that is how the Saguna Dhyana is mentioned. The normal meditation which we are all aware of meditating on the Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Ganapati and Vishnu and Shakti and any on the object even of any flowers, mountains rivers, anything, even if the object is a psychological, mentally you have an object you projected an object in the mind you threw an object from the mind onto the mental screen that is also a Saguna Dhyana.


Second is the Nirguna Dhyana holding the mind without any dependence then the last one is the Samadhi. The second chapter talks about the Paramatma Tatva of the whole world. Everything in this world everything which is seen which is felt by touch Shabda, Sparsha, Rasa, Roopa, Gandha Tanmatras. The entire world is nothing but the Paramatman. That's why the Upanishad says everything in the world is fit for meditation and everything has a sense of godliness seeing that godliness in everything is the important dimension of Yoga. The entire second chapter is devoted to that and for that, for achieving that vision of seeing oneness for having that vision of seeing oneness and achieving it, Guru, a teacher, an instructor and instruction is an important dimension.


And the last chapter is the third chapter where it talks about the three types of the Brahman: Sakala Brahmaha, Nishkala Brahmaha, Sakala Nishkala Brahma. The Upanishad beautifully describes

athāpyasyārūpasya brahmaṇastrīṇi rūpāṇi bhavanti sakalaṃ niṣkalaṃ sakalaniṣkalaṃ ceti॥


yatsatyaṃ vijñānamānandaṃ niṣkriyaṃ nirañjanaṃ sarvagataṃ susūkṣmaṃ sarvatomukhamanirdeśya-mamṛtamasti tadidaṃ niṣkalaṃ rūpam॥


Nishkala Brahma is Niranjanam, Nishkriyam, Sarvam, Susukshumam, that is the Nishkala Brahma. And what is Sakala Brahma? What we experience in the world all experiences. How wonderfully the Upanishad says, wonderfully all experiences are godly. This unable to recognize that is the problem in our entire communications.


Then the third chapter beautifully describes the Dattatreya Tatvam and the importance of the Dattatreya Maharishi, who was born to the Atri Maharishi. The lord, the Bhagawan the Parameshwara offers himself to Atri Maharishi. That offering is Dattaha, Parameshwara offering himself to the Atri Maharishi. That's how we say Datta, Datta means offering and he is the son of Atri we say because Parameshwara offered himself to Atri Maharishi. So Dattatreya is the son of Atri Maharishi. This is how symbolically we call it and we know it and we recognize like that. The entire Upanishad concludes with the Dattatreya Prarthana. Nirukta Veda Nirubhalam:


dattātreyaṃ śivaṃ śāntamindranīlanibhaṃ prabhum।

ātmamāyārataṃ devamavadhūtaṃ digambaram॥


bhasmoddhūlitasarvāṅgaṃ jaṭājūṭadharaṃ vibhum।

caturbāhumudārāṅga praphullakamalekṣaṇam॥


evaṃ yaḥ satataṃ dhyāyeddevadevaṃ sanātanam।

sa muktaḥ sarpapāpebhyo niḥśreyasamavāpnuyāt॥


This is how beautifully the entire Shondilya Upanishad concludes with the invocation and prayer of Maharishi Dattatreya. And that is how the Upanishad explains from the beginning the Ashtangas in detail each Anga, the ten Yamas, the ten Niyamas, eight Asanas, the three Pranayamas, five stages of the Pratyahara, five Dharanas, the Akashas, the two Dhyanas - the Saguna Dhyana and the Nirguna Dhyana, and the ultimate the Samadhi. Then it talks about the various breathing techniques, the Pranayama it talks. Then the Ujjayi Pranayama, Sikari Pranayama, Seetala Pranayama that is how the Upanishad trains, explains presents a beautiful knowledge of invoking ourself into a state of higher consciousness. And that is how the Shandilya Upanishad concludes by saying that Dattatreya is the Maharishi and who has to be recognized, realized and prayed for as a Guru for the ultimate aim and goal of our life.


Another beautiful contribution of the Shandilya Upanishad to the Yoga is the Vaishnavi Mudra which is an important dimension it presents to entire Yoga Sadhakas. Then the Upanishad also has a dimension, a description on the Omkaraha and it talks about the Pranaspandana. The Upanishad says if Pranaspandana is reduced Manospandana is reduced. Manaspandana and Pranaspandana are interrelated. If the Pranaspandana is reduced Manospandana is also reduced. If Pranaspandana is controlled, Manospandana is also controlled means the mind and Prana are interrelated, interdependent and interconnected and that is how each one has an effect on the other. If mind is disturbed Prana gets disturbed. If Prana gets disturbed, mind is disturbed. To control then we can say to control the Prana we should control the mind. Controlling the mind is difficult, controlling the Prana is easier. That is why Pranayama was given a major important role in all the Yoga techniques and the Yoga methods so that we can handle the Prana indirectly we can handle our own mind. This is how Shandilya Upanishad teaches presence in the form of a beautiful discussion between Maharishi Shandilya and Atharvanaha. And with this the Shandilya Upanishad's presentation on the Yoga Sadhana, Yoga Siddhanta, Yoga Tattva and the Yoga Shastra is incomparable and unparalleled contribution. Let us conclude Shandilya Upanishad here. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti:

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सिद्ध‌‌यसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥

Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26

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