Saturday 6 July 2024

Yogopanishads – Varaha Upanishad

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

Varahopanishad (varāhopaniṣad) is part of the Krishna Yajurveda, and it has five chapters. The first chapter contains seventeen mantras, the second one has eighty-three mantras, the third chapter has thirty, the fourth one has forty-four mantras, and the fifth chapter contains seventy-seven mantras. So in total, the entire Upanishad contains two hundred and fifty-one mantras distributed across the five chapters.


The first chapter opens with Ribhu Maharshi performing tapasya for twelve years and blessed with the presence of Sri Mahavishnu in the Varaha avatar. The Varaha avatar Mahavishnu appears to Ribhu Maharshi in Varaha murti, and then Ribhu Maharshi raises questions, asks questions, and Sri Mahavishnu in Varaha pose gives the answers, descriptions, explanations. This is the crux of the entire Upanishad's beginning. The first chapter contains the description of the importance of the entire body and the material world and explains the twenty-four tattvas, then the thirty-six tattvas, and then the sixty tattvas, making about a total of ninety tattvas.


So Chaturvimshati tattvani, Shattrimsha tattvani, and then the last one is the Shan-navati, that is ninety-six. The total comes to ninety-six tattvas. What are the twenty-four tattvas which constitute, which make the body or the materials? Beautifully, Sri Mahavishnu explains, the Upanishad puts it: the five jnanendriyas, the five karmendriyas, the pancha pranas, then the pancha tanmatras, and the mana, buddhi, ahankara, chitta. This is the twenty-four tattvas: the five jnanendriyas, the five karmendriyas, the five pranas (pancha pranas), and the pancha tanmatras (shabda, roopa, rasa, gandha, sparsha), and mana, buddhi, ahankara, chitta. This constitutes the twenty-four.


Then, in addition to this, the pancha bhutas (prithvi, apas, tejo, vayu, akashaha) and the three avasthas (jagrata, swapna, sushupti avasthas) and the sukshma, karana, and sthula shariras. All those put together will be thirty-six.


Then six varieties of existence after the person is born, the changes which happen, that is the jayate, vardhate, then the six urmis, then six sheaths, then the six enemies (shad ripus: kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsarya), then three gunas (sattva guna, rajo guna, tamo guna), then the three karmas (prarabdha karma, sanchita karma, agami karma), and then the five important dimensions of volition, decisions.


Then the importance of the four cardinal points: mudita, karuna, maitri, upeksha, which form the four: sankalpa, abhimana, adhyavasaya, avadharana. Putting all this together completes a list of ninety-six. The Varaha Upanishad, Sri Mahavishnu tells to Ribhu Maharishi, unless one is conversant and aware of all these ninety-six tattvas, their importance and activities, and their fueling force, it will be very difficult to understand the practices of yoga. So, this basic information and knowledge are needed for the practice of yoga.


Then the Upanishad explains, the second chapter describes the sadhana chatustayam: viveka, vairagya, samadhi shakta sampatti, and mumukshutva. Viveka is a discrimination between what is permanent and what is temporary, the temporal (shashvata and ashashvata), what is shashvatam in this world and what is ashashvatam in this world, what is temporary in nature and what is permanent in nature. That discrimination is called viveka, nitya anitya vastu viveka. Then vairagya, then the shama, dama, uparati, titiksha, shraddha, and samadhanaha. Then the mumukshutvam, a desire to be free. These four sadhana chatustayam are described in detail in the Varaha Upanishad. We also find the same description elaborately in the Viveka Chudamani by Adi Shankaracharya.


Then the second chapter also talks about the Atma, Anatma, Jivatma, and Paramatma. The temporariness of this world, the non-importance of this temporal world, the material world—what we feel, what we think is most important in this world, how they are not important. What we feel unknown, not experienced, the underflowing inner contents of ourselves, which we are not exposed to, are important: the Atma, Anatma, Jivatma, and Paramatma. Not knowing the Paramatma and not knowing the Shashvatatvam, and clinging on to these material, temporary things, which the Upanishad says is because of the agnana. Once this agnana is removed, when the jnana rises or when the jnana comes in, the agnana goes. Like when the sun rises, the darkness is gone; when the light is lit, the darkness is gone.


The Upanishad explains beautifully that this can be achieved by Nadanusandhana, the only method, the only path, the only technique, the only method which can make a person jnani or understand what is temporary and what is permanent. That delusion can be removed by the practice of Nadanusandhana. That Nadanusandhana practice with the chanting of the om: akara, ukara, makara, and feeling the stages of akara, stages of makara, stages of the ukara, then the stages of the ardhamatra. The Upanishad compares it with the jagrata, swapna, sushupti, turiya, and turiyatita levels. While chanting each syllable, each sound, when each shabda, the nada, is rising, the para level, pashyanti level, madhyama level, and the vaikari level are to be experienced are to be felt. Then the Nadanusandhana makes a person, takes a person, lifts a person, and stabilizes him in the Samadhi level.


In the entire 75 to 83, about 8 to 9 mantras of the second chapter describe it. The third chapter is completely a beautiful technique explained as bhakti, seeing everything as ishwara svarupam. The whole world is a manifestation, an expression, a symbol of ishwara, and the devotion, worshipping with that feeling, is bhakti. The entire third chapter of the Varaha Upanishad is completely dedicated to bhakti, and bhakti as a tool, and how this bhakti lifts a person and what is the cause for all the difficulties and problems.


The third chapter beautifully describes chitta as the karana for the janma and marana, for birth and death. It is the chitta which is the cause for the birth of any thought, for the birth of any sankalpa, for any decision, any idea, any emotion, for everything which is born. Chitta is the cause, and for everything which dies, eliminates, deletes, vanishes, it is the chitta which is responsible. So chitta niyantrana is an important dimension.


The example is given beautifully: the sun reflects in the water, and if the water is distracted and disturbed, we feel or we see, we experience the sun also disturbed. The image of the sun gets ruffled if the reflective medium, the water, gets ruffled. But we feel the sun's image is ruffled, and we say the sun is ruffled. This ajnana has to go. Whether the image is ruffled, whether the water is ruffled, but the source of the reflection, the source, the basic source which is reflecting the sun, never gets ruffled. This is how the third chapter is described. It further explains the importance of Nadanusandhana and bhakti.


Further, the Upanishad explains the fourth chapter. The fourth chapter has two portions: the Brahmana portion and the Mantra portion. The Brahmana and the Mantra portions explain beautifully about the sapta-jnana-bhumika, the seven stages of knowledge, the seven stages of the experience of knowledge, and the seven stages of the rising of consciousness. We find beautiful descriptions of the sapta bhumikas in the Yoga Vasistha also.


The sapta bhumikas are: Subheccha is the prathamaha, then vicharana is dvitiyaha, Tanumanasi is the third one (tritiya), Sattvapatti is the chaturthaha, Asamsaktihi is the panchamaha, Padarthabhavana is the shasthi, and Turiya is the saptama.


jñānabhūmiḥ śubhecchā syātprathamā samudīritā।

vicāraṇā dvitīyā tu tṛtīyā tanumānasā॥


sattvāpattiścaturthī syāttato'saṃsaktināmikā।

padārthabhāvanā ṣaṣṭhī saptamī turyagā smṛtā॥


That is how all the seven jnana bhumikas have been named and explained. What is Subheccha? A good decision, a good decision which provokes a person to be free from all attachments; that is a good iccha, Subheccha it is. Similarly, Vicharana is a thoughtfulness to change and alter our lifestyles. Tanumanasi means the bondages have to be reduced, reducing the attachments, slowing down the process of deep attachment. Tanumanasi: the mind is slowed down. Sattvapatti: enhancing the sattva guna. Asamsakti: developing a sense of displeasure. Padarthabhavana: feeling the real nature of anything which we see and come in touch with, the reality of every padartha, the reality of every material we come in contact with. The real matter is Padarthabhavana, and having a bhavana on that leads a person to Turiya sthithi. This is how all the sattva bhavikas have been explained.


Omkara makes a person realize, supports, and helps a person attain that state of Turiyasthithi. And this chanting of the Omkara japa, practicing of omkara japa: akara, ukara, makara, and ardhamatra; jagruta swapna, sushupti, turiya, and turiyatita levels. That is how Omkara is the mula mantra. It is the mula for the entire existence. The greatness and grandeur of Omkara japa, the greatness and grandeur of Omkara chanting, is explained beautifully in the fourth chapter and how it enhances a person's knowledge of the Atma, the knowledge of one's real Self, the knowledge of one's own real constituent substance, the knowledge of my real nature. By that, one can detach from the unreal, one can detach from the temporary nature, one can detach from clinging to things with which we continue to hop on.


The fifth chapter is a brilliant explanation of the entire body. In the Varaha Upanishad, Shri Maha Vishnu explains what is the svasa sankhya, what is the sankhya of the svasa, the number of breaths we take. The Varaha Upanishad, the fifth chapter, the third mantra gives a brilliant..


ṣaṭśatānyadhikānyatra sahasrāṇyekaviṃśatiḥ।

ahorātravahiḥ śvāsairvāyumaṇḍalaghātataḥ॥


This means 21,600 is the number of breaths which we take ahoratraha, in a day and night, which we may say 24 hours. In these 24 hours, our breath rate is 21,600 which is very simple and easy. There are 21,600 minutes in a day, 24 hours into 60 minutes. In these 21,600 breaths, when we take, it comes to around 15 breaths in a minute. So this 24 hours multiplied by 60 minutes and divided by 21,600 comes to about 15 breaths in a minute. So normally, a human being inhales and exhales 15 times in a minute.


How beautifully the Varaha Upanishad defines and measures it, and as all of us are aware, the modern science, the modern method of measuring the breath rate, confirms it. If we can reduce this breath rate from 15 to 10 to 5, that is the highest dimension of pranayama practice. The Varaha Upanishad explains beautifully that slowing down the breath speed, the number of breaths in ahoratraha, swasa sankhya reduction, is the path, is the method for the Tiryak level. For that, the Upanishad explains uddiyana bandha and mula bandha practice, practicing of mula bandha and uddiyana bandha and the jalandhara bandha. This practice as vihanga marga and pipilika marga, practicing slowly and practicing at a speed. If it is practiced slowly, the progress is faster. Practicing at the pipilika style, progress will be at the vihanga level. Vihanga is a bird; for a bird to go from one place to another, it can just fly. For a pipilaka, for an ant to move from one place to another place, the time taken by the pipilika, an ant, is longer. A bird can fly quickly, so practicing at a slow level enhances progress. It also means there are two ways of practice, two ways of progress in yoga. Various interpretations and understandings are possible and are there.


The Varaha Upanishad gives ashtanga yoga, and this ashtanga yoga in the vihanga marga and pipilika marga, and the ashtanga yoga of the Varaha Upanishad, fifth chapter, eleventh mantra to the twentieth mantra, tallies with the Patanjala Yoga Sutras' ashtanga yoga. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samdhi, is the same, is repeated. What is there in the Varaha Upanishad synchronizes with Patanjali's ashtanga yoga. Then the Upanishad explains each one brilliantly, and at the end, the Varaha Upanishad presents samputa yoga. Samputa yoga is practically practicing mula bandha and jalandhara bandha at the same time. By practicing mula bandha and jalandhara bandha, all the nadis, the fourteen nadis, are locked up, and then the entire prana pravaha gets directed towards the Sahasrara chakra, rising the energy from the muladhara. This samputa yoga, practicing mula bandha and jalandhara bandha, and holding the breath, kevala kumbhaka, this combination of three: mula bandha, jalandhara amanda, and kevala kumbhaka, is the samputa yoga. Samputa is the combination, the total samputi it is. That is how Varaha Upanishad concludes by saying this is the practice which gives the final result. It explains "viduṣo'pyāsuraścetsyānniṣphalaṃ". The final result comes as the Nishpatti bhumikaha, Nishpattihi, Turiyaha, Jivanmuktaha is the result and experience, and one gets established in the state of Samadhi.


So Varaha Upanishad presents samputa yoga and the practice of these three bandhas, bandhatrayaha. In the bandhatrayaha, prescribing the two, the mula and the jalandhara. Mula bandha is the lowest one, and jalandhara bandha is the top. Practicing both at a time and experiencing freedom from all jiva tattva, from all samsaraha, from all chitta chanchala, one gets an experience of jivanmukta bhavanam. That is how Varaha Upanishad emphasizes the importance of the practice of Nathanusandhana, the practice of pranayama, and the practice of samputa yoga and explaining that the entire essence of the yoga practice is Jivanmuktaha. And that level where we experience our real, true nature or ourself, freeing our feeling, freeing our attachment to what is not important, Ashshvatam. That is how the Varaha Upanishad presented the Sadhana Chatustayam, Sapta Bhumikas, and with these practices, Varaha Upanishad concludes it teaching, Sri Maha Vishnu teaching of this yoga to Ribhu Rishi. Let us conclude 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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