Tuesday 2 July 2024

Yogopanishads – Yogatattva Upanishad

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

Yoga Tattva Upanishad (yogatattvopaniṣad) belongs to the Krishna Yajur Veda and it has 142 mantras. The Upanishad opens with a question of Brahmadeva asking Shri Mahavishnu and Lord Vishnu replies to the questions of the Brahmadeva. The entire Upanishad is an elaboration of the answers given by Shri Mahavishnu. The Upanishad begins by saying the difference between Paramatma and Jivatma, the Saguna and the Nirgunas, what we are, how a human being is defective and what are the defects of the human being and if the defects have been removed, the same person becomes the Paramatma. So the Jivatma becomes Paramatma, the Jivatma transforms into Paramatma by removing the defects. And how the defects have to be removed? The Upanishad presents four yogas Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Hatha Yoga and the Raja Yoga and explains each one. And while explaining the Upanishad goes in detail in the practice of Pranayama. What should be the posture, asana for the Pranayama and how it is to be practiced with matras, the counts the matras for inhalation, exhalation and the Kevalakumbhaka and what are the rules to be practiced for food and bath Anna and the Snana for the Pranayama practice to be very effective. Then the Upanishad gives a description of the famous Kevalakumbhaka and after describing the asana and the Pranayama to remove the defects of the Jivatma Omkara Dhyana has been introduced in the levels for the beginners and for the best, highest practitioners. Then there is a Parichayavastha, Ghatavastha, then the Dharana of the Panchabhutas, Panchadevas; then finally a Dhyana on the Saguna and the Nirguna Dhyana. Then the Upanishad talks about the higher practices like Mahamandha, Mahaveda, Kechari, Bandhadraya, Viparitakarni Vajroli, Amaroli. Finally the Upanishad explains the Yoga Tattva is to remove the cover of the body on the Atman, the light of the Atman. The Paramatma shines brightly if the cover, the Jivatma is removed or Jivatma Tattvam, Jivatma Bhavana if it is eliminated, what remains is the Paramatma. This is the essence of the Yoga Tattva Upanishad.


And that is how the Yoga Tattva Upanishad begins the Ashtanga Yoga Jignasaha. One has to understand the important practices of the Ashtanga Yoga


niṣkalaṃ nirmalaṃ śāntaṃ sarvātītaṃ nirāmayam।

tadeva jīvarūpeṇa puṇyapāpaphalairvṛtam॥


That is, the Paramatma Swarupam, the pure consciousness in all of us. In fact we are the Paramatman. What makes us the Jivatma what makes us to feel that we are not Paramatman but we are the Jivatman? That is the crux of the Upanishad. Sri Mahavishnu explains


kāmakrodhabhayaṃ cāpi mohalobhamado rajaḥ।

janma mṛtyuśca kārpaṇyaṃ śokastandrā kṣudhā tṛṣā।।


tṛṣṇā lajjā bhayaṃ duḥkhaṃ viṣādo harṣa eva ca।

ebhirdoṣairvinirmuktaḥ sa jīvaḥ kevalo mataḥ॥


These are the defects, qualities which make a Jivatma, a Jivatma, or we have to say our inability to recognize we as Paramatman and these are the inabilities or the defects: lust, anger, fear, delusion, greed, infatuation, passion, birth, nearness, sorrow, sloth, hunger, thirst covetousness, shame, trepidation, misery, depression, joy. All these qualities if they have been removed, purified then the Jivatma stands as the Paramatman. This is a beautiful suggestion that Yoga or Yoga Sadhana is not that something is made out of nothing or is to become something. It is to expose or experience what is the real already existed.


Then the Upanishad presents the methods of removing these defects from the Jivatma that is the four Yogas: Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Hata Yoga and the Raja Yoga.


yogo hi bahudhā brahmanbhidyate vyavahārataḥ।

mantrayogo layaścaiva haṭho'sau rājayogataḥ॥


Then the Upanishad speaks about the beginning stages, the Arambha stages. Then the advanced stages Ghata stage, Parichaya stage and the last is the Nishpati the final stage. So these are the Avasthas, the stages in these practices. In Mantra Yoga we have all these stages Arambha, Ghata, Parichaya and Nishpati. Similarly in the Laya Yoga. Similarly in the Hata Yoga. Similarly in the Raja Yoga. So in each practice of the Yoga, the practitioner undergoes all these four stages. Even if we take Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, even in Yama: Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha, Niyama: Saucha, Santhosha, Tapa, Swadhyaya, Ishvara Pranidhana, in all these, in entire constituents and the sub-constituents of all the practices, these four Avasthas the four stages are there - Arambha, Ghata, Parichaya and the Nishpati levels.


Then it talks about the Mantra Yoga. What is Mantra Yoga? listening and uttering the Japa and listening and uttering a particular mantra. "Mananāt trāyatē iti mantrah" that which frees a person's mind that which cuts the bondages of the mind and that makes the mind free from all the bondages and that is Mantra, a specific sound arranged in a specific manner with a specific letters. Aksharas, Bijaksharas forming into a sound and these sounds and Aksharas and Bijaksharas forming into a sentence. So a sentence comprises of various alphabets, various sounds and these alphabets and the sounds arranged in a particular form that makes the mind gets elevated from its bondages. And that sentence, syllables, alphabets are the mantra. "Mananāt trāyatē iti mantrah". So there are eight syllable mantras, there are astakshari, panchakshari, saptakshari, shadakshari, ekadashakshari - so various mantras are there. Overall the best is the Pranava Mantra Upasana.


Then we come to the Laya Yoga. Laya Yoga is merging oneself into a state of higher level. It is a dissolution of the mind and this dissolution of the mind is to be practiced while walking, while standing, sleeping, eating, in all our activities. A constant feeling awareness and remembering of the Ishwara, one's mind merges in that and that is called as the Laya Yoga.


Then we have the practice of the Hatha Yoga. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Samyama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and of course the Samadhi and the Upanishad describes the Yama, Niyamas and the various practices and the Yoga Tattva Upanishad gives 10 Yamas and 10 Niyamas. Some are very common, some are slightly different. And that is how after explaining the Yama Niyamas the Upanishad talks about the Asana and the Pranayama.


The practice of the Pranayama, how Pranayama is to be practiced, beautifully the Upanishad explains: it has to be practiced in Padmasana posture resorting into a place a lonely place a secluded place names it as the 'Mataha'.


prāṇāyāmaṃ tataḥ kuryātpadmāsanagataḥ svayam।

suśobhanaṃ maṭhaṃ kuryātsūkṣmadvāraṃ tu nirvraṇam॥


That is cut off from every external temptations and attractions and then then practicing the Pranayama inhalations and exhalations. And these inhalations and exhalations are to be practiced with a specific counting, matras.


jānu pradakṣiṇīkṛtya na drutaṃ na vilambitam।

aṅgulisphoṭanaṃ kuryātsā mātrā parigīyate।।


Yogatattva Upanishad specifies what is a matra. It defines what is matra. It gives a time scale of matra. When we say 2 matras, 10 matras, 5 matras, what is 1 matra? It gives the time taken by one. When we snap the fingers after circling, neither too quickly nor too slowly, the knee. That is called 1 matra. There is no confusion in this. Just move the palm round the knee and make a snap. That is the 1 matra. How much time it takes, that is 1 matra. We should all remember, it is not 1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds, 10 seconds, like that. A matra means, this is the 1 matra. Moving the palm just round the knee in a circle and snapping the fingers. This is 1 matra. Is it 2 seconds, is it 5 seconds, that does not matter. This is the matra. For some people it may take 2 seconds, some people it may take 5 seconds. So for them that is 1 matra. This is how the Yogatattva Upanishad defines. Then talks about the inhalation and exhalation timing. That is why when we practice pranayama, we should always remember, when we use matra definition as a time, for everybody it should be 2 seconds, 5 seconds, 10 seconds. We cannot standardize the inhalation, exhalation and kumbakas based on presently used seconds keeping a watch or a clock in front of us. The Upanishad specifies the matra, timing of the matra. So it means every sadhaka's time for the matra is different from every other sadhaka. So we cannot specify and fix inhalation should be 10 seconds, exhalation should be 20 seconds, kumbaka should be 25 seconds or 30 seconds, seeing a clock or a watch, that is not the timing. The timing is matra. And matra is that person's individual measurement. This is how the Upanishad beautifully explains.


tataḥ paraṃ yatheṣṭaṃ tu śaktaḥ syādvāyudhāraṇe।।


yatheṣṭadhāraṇādvāyoḥ sidhyetkevalakumbhakaḥ।

kevale kumbhake siddhe recapūravivarjite॥


na tasya durlabhaṃ kiṃcittriṣu lokeṣu vidyate।

prasvedo jāyate pūrvaṃ mardanaṃ tena kārayet॥


Kevala kumbhaka never specifies or in pranayama it never specifies one should hold the breath this much time. As per one's capacity. Inhale as per one's capacity. Exhale as per one's capacity. Hold the breath as per the capacity. It also never talks of inhalation increasing the time or increasing the exhalation. It always says slow down the process. Slowing down the process, that is an important dimension which we should all learn from the Yoga Tattva Upanishad.


Then what are the practices involved while practicing the pranayama practices? What are the food? What are the rules to be taken for the practice of the food? How much food one should take? And how much time one should spend? This kala parimiti has been described in the Yoga Tattva Upanishad and even the food timings have been mentioned in the matras.


And that is how after explaining the Kevala kumbhaka, the Yoga Tattva Upanishad speaks about the Omkaraha. And Omkar Dhyanaha also is given in the Arambha Avastha, Ghata Avastha i.e. the stages, the beginning stage, middle stage and the advanced stages. The beginning stage is the Arambha Avastha. That means practicing the Omkaraha chanting in a specific time. The highest pitch of the three Matras. That is the Arambha Avastha. And Ghata Avastha is feeling the inhalations and exhalations and chanting. Not producing the sound outside. And the advanced stage, the Parichaya Avastha is the state where it is only an awareness of Omkaraha and the breathing are felt. Only the awareness.


vāyunā saha cittaṃ ca praviśecca mahāpatham।

yasya cittaṃ svapavanaṃ suṣumnāṃ praviśediha॥


It is Chitta. It is a mental and psychological inhalations and exhalations. It is not that mentally we are inhaling and mentally we are exhaling. It is not that way. You are aware of the inhalations and exhalations without making any external rigorous effort of the inhalations and exhalations. This is the practice of the Parichaya Avastha.


Then after the Dharana and the Dhyana, the Upanishad gives a wonderful practice of the Saguna and the Nirguna Dhyana. Saguna Dhyana is the practice of the meditation on all the available things. It can be any object, any image, anything which is external. That is the practice of the Saguna Dhyana.

samabhyasettathā dhyānaṃ ghaṭikāṣaṣṭimeva ca।

vāyuṃ nirudhya cākāśe devatāmiṣṭadāmiti॥


saguṇaṃ dhyānametatsyādaṇimādiguṇapradam।


Upanishad puts it that 60 Ghatikas. If a person can hold the mind on one single object, one single thought, one single idea, when the mind is not wavering from any one particular thought, idea or feeling for 60 Ghatikas, say 60 seconds, it is a very good practice, the Upanishad puts it. If the same is done, if the same is achieved without any external object or the image and even without creating, without imagining, without bringing any object and idea within the mind, but holding the mind absolutely on one single awareness, without any Rupa and Nama, Nama rahita, Rupa rahita, state of the mind for 60 Ghatikas, that is the Nirgunaha.


And how does Saguna to Nirguna level one can progress? The Yoga Tattva Upanishad prescribes higher practices like Mahabandaha, Mahaveda, Kechari, Bandhatraya and first time Yoga Tattva Upanishad brings in the Viparita Karani, Vajroli and the Amaroli practices from the 112 mantra to the next 30 mantras, that is up to 142, this description of the entire Mahabandha, Mahavedha, Kechari, Bandhatraya. As you all know, these are all the practices combined with inhalation Kumbhaka, exhalation Kumbhaka, Antara Kumbhaka or Bahya Kumbhaka and ultimately it is the Kevala Kumbhaka coupled with the Bandhas. Mabavanda, Mahaveda, Kechari, Bandhatraya and even in the Viparita Karani, Vajroli practices and this is how Yoga Tattva Upanishad finally explains Pranava Upasana has to be done in the Hridayam, in the heart and that is how establishing and feeling the practice of the Omkara, experiencing the Omkara vibrations without chanting but only feeling at the root level, that is the Pranava Upasana, the Upanishad puts it. That is how the Upanishad in each practices, the Yoga Tattva Upanishad specifies rules, for example, for a practitioner for the Viparita Karani, how Viparita Karani has to be practiced:


nityamabhyāsayuktasya jāṭharāgnivivardhanī।

āhāro bahulastasya saṃpādyaḥ sādhakasya ca॥

 alpāhāro yadi bhavedagnirdehaṃ haretkṣaṇāt।


If you take very little food or no food, then start practicing Viparita Karani, it says it will burn the body, body becomes a shishtaha. And that is how Viparita Karani should not be practiced with taking less food or no food, it doesn't mean one has to take more food, Yuktahara Viharasya has been suggested. That is how Viparita Karani practice is an important practice which enhances Jataragni of the practitioner, Viparita Karani, it is just reversing our posture, the head is down, legs are up. And in that posture practicing a specific breathing method and that is the importance of the Viparita Karani and Yoga Tattva Upanishad concludes itself by explaining Atma Sakshatkaraha and that is how "kūrmaḥ svapāṇipādādiśiraścātmani dhārayet॥" Just like a tortoise withdraws everything of that which is projected from it to the outside, the same tortoise withdraws it, collects it that was pushed out towards inside. Similarly a yoga sadhaka must and should withdraw, bring back all his external projections, then the light within enlightens, this is the Yoga Tattva Upanishad. Let us conclude here. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti:

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मुक्तसंग्ङोऽनहंवादी धृत्युत्साहसमन्वित:।
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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