Dhyana Bindu Upanishad of Samaveda

by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1914 | 3,543 words

This is the English translation of the Dhyana Bindu Upanishad (belonging to the Samaveda): a minor Sanskrit treatise selected amongst a collection 108 extant upanishads, dating to at least the 1st millennium BC. The Dhyana-bindu-upanishad discusses the meditation practices of Yoga. It further states that Atman (soul) is in every living being and t...

Contents of the Dhyānabindu Upaniṣad

Even if sin should accumulate to a mountain extending over many yojanas (distance), it is destroyed by dhyānayoga. At no time has been found a destroyer of sins like this. Bījākṣara (seed-letter) is the supreme bindu. Nāda (spiritual sound) is above it. When that nāda ceases along with letter, than the nāda-less is supreme state. That yogin who considers as the highest that which is above nāda, which is anāhata,[1] has all his doubts destroyed. If the point of a hair be divided into one-hundred thousand parts, this (nāda) is one-half of that still further divided; and when (even) this is absorbed, the yogin attains to the stainless Brahman. One who is of a firm mind and without the delusion (of sensual pleasures) and ever resting in Brahman, should see like the string (in a rosary of beads) all creatures (as existing) in Ātmā like odour in flowers, ghee in milk, oil in gingelly seeds and gold in quartz. Again just as the oil depends for its manifestation upon gingelly seeds and odour upon flowers, so does the Puruṣa depend for its existence upon the body, both external and internal. The tree is with parts and its shadow is without parts but with and without parts, Ātmā exists everywhere.

The one akṣara (letter Om) should be contemplated upon as Brahman by all who aspire for emancipation. Pṛthivī, agni, ṛgveda, bhūḥ and Brahmā—all these (are absorbed) when Akāra (A), the first amśa (part) of praṇava (Om) becomes absorbed. Antarikṣa, yajurveda, vāyu, bhuvaḥ and Viṣṇu, the Janārdana—all these (are absorbed) when Ukāra (U), the second amśa of praṇava becomes absorbed. Dyur, sun, sāmaveda, suvaḥ and Maheśvara—all these (are absorbed) when Makāra (M), the third amśa of praṇava becomes absorbed. Akāra is of (pīta) yellow colour and is said to be of rajoguṇa; Ukāra is of white colour and of sattvaguṇa; Makāra is of dark colour and of tamoguṇa. He who does not know Omkāra as having eight aṅgas (parts), four pādas (feet), three sthānas (seats) and five devatās (presiding deities) is not a Brāhmaṇa. Praṇava is the bow. Ātmā is the arrow and Brahman is said to be the aim. One should aim at it with great care and then he, like the arrow, becomes one with It. When that Highest is cognised, all karmas return (from him, viz., do not affect him). The Vedas have Omkāra as their cause. The svaras (sounds) have Omkāra as their cause. The three worlds with (all) the locomotive and the fixed (ones in them) have Omkāra as their cause. The short (accent of Om) burns all sins, the long one is decayless and the bestower of prosperity. United with ardhamātrā (half-metre of Om), the praṇava becomes the bestower of salvation. That man is the knower of the Vedas who knows that the end (viz., ardhamātrā) of praṇava should be worshipped (or recited) as uninterrupted as the flow of oil and (resounding) as long as the sound of a bell. One should contemplate upon Omkāra as Īśvara resembling an unshaken light, as of the size of a thumb and as motionless in the middle of the pericarp of the lotus of the heart. Taking in vāyu through the left nostril and filling the stomach with it, one should contemplate upon Omkāra as being in the middle of the body and as surrounded by circling flames. Brahma is said to be inspiration; Viṣṇu is said to be cessation (of breath), and Rudra is said to be expiration. These are the devatās of prāṇāyāma. Having made Ātmā as the (lower) araṇi (sacrificial wood) and praṇava as the upper araṇi, one should see the God in secret through the practice of churning which is dhyāna. One should practise restraint of breath as much as it lies in his power along with (the uttering of) Omkāra sound, until it ceases completely. Those who look upon Om as of the form of Haṃsa staying in all, shining like crores of suns, being alone, staying in gamāgama (ever going and coming) and being devoid of motion—at last such persons are freed from sin. That manas which is the author of the actions (viz.), creation, preservation and destruction of the three worlds, is (then) absorbed (in the supreme One). That is the highest state of Viṣṇu.

The lotus of the heart has eight petals and thirty-two filaments. The sun is in its midst: the moon is in the middle of the sun. Agni is in the middle of the moon: the prabhā (spiritual light) is in the middle of agni. Pītha (seat or centre) is in the midst of prabhā, being set in diverse gems. One should meditate upon the stainless Lord Vāsudeva as being (seated) upon the centre of Pītha, as having Śrīvatsa[2] (black mark) and Kaustubha (garland of gems) on his chest and as adorned with gems and pearls resembling pure crystal in lustre and as resembling crores of moons in brightness. He should meditate upon Mahā-Viṣṇu as above or in the following manner. (That is) he should meditate with inspiration (of breath) upon Mahā-Viṣṇu as resembling the atasī flower and as staying in the seat of navel with four hands; then with restraint of breath, he should meditate in the heart upon Brahma, the Grandfather as being on the lotus with the gaura (pale-red) colour of gems and having four faces: then through expiration, he should meditate upon the three-eyed Śiva between the two eyebrows shining like the pure crystal, being stainless, destroying all sins, being in that which is like the lotus facing down with its flower (or face) below and the stalk above or like the flower of a plantain tree, being of the form of all Vedas, containing one hundred petals and one hundred leaves and having the pericarp full-expanded. There he should meditate upon the sun, the moon and the agni, one above another. Passing above through the lotus which has the brightness of the sun, moon and agni, and taking its Hrīm bīja (letter), one leads his Ātmā firmly. He is the knower of Vedas who knows the three seats, the three mātrās, the three Brahmās, the three akṣaras (letters) and the three mātrās associated with the ardhamātrā. He who knows that which is above bindu, nāda and kalā as uninterrupted as the flow of oil and (resounding) as long as the sound of a bell—that man is a knower of the Vedas. Just as a man would draw up (with his mouth) the water through the (pores of the) lotus-stalk, so the yogin treading the path of yoga should draw up the breath. Having made the lotus-sheath of the form of ardhamātrā, one should draw up the breath through the stalk (of the nādis Suṣumnā, Idā and Piṅgalā) and absorb it in the middle of the eyebrows. He should know that the middle of the eyebrows in the forehead which is also the root of the nose is the seat of nectar. That is the great place of Brahman.

Postures, restraint of breath, subjugation of the senses dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi are the six parts of yoga. There are as many postures as there are living creatures; and Maheśvara (the great Lord) knows their distinguishing features. Siddha, bhadra, simha and padma are the four (chief) postures. Mūlādhāra is the first chakra. Svādhiṣṭhāna is the second. Between these two is said to be the seat of yoni (perineum), having the form of Kāma (God of love). In the Ādhāra of the anus, there is the lotus of four petals. In its midst is said to be the yoni called Kāma and worshipped by the siddhas. In the midst of the yoni is the Liṅga facing the west and split at its head like the gem. He who knows this, is a knower of the Vedas. A four-sided figure is situated above agni and below the genital organ, of the form of molten gold and shining like streaks of lightning. Prāṇa is with its sva (own) sound, having Svādhiṣṭhāna as its adhiṣṭhāna (seat), (or since sva or prāṇa arises from it). The chakra Svādhiṣṭhāna is spoken of as the genital organ itself. The chakra in the sphere of the navel is called Maṇipūraka, since the body is pierced through by vāyu like maṇis (gems) by string. The jīva (ego) urged to actions by its past virtuous and sinful karmas whirls about in this great chakra of twelve[3] spokes, so long as it does not grasp the truth. Above the genital organ and below the navel is kanda of the shape of a bird's egg. There arise (from it) nādis seventy-two thousand in number. Of these seventy-two are generally known. Of these, the chief ones are ten and carry the prāṇas. Idā, Piṅgalā, Suṣumnā, Gāndhārī, Hastijihvā, Pasha, Yaśasvinī, Alambusā, Kuhūḥ and Śāṅkhinī are said to be the ten. This chakra of the midis should ever be known by the yogins. The three nādis Ida, Piṅgalā and Suṣumnā are said to carry prāṇa always and have as their devatās, moon, sun and agni. Idā is on the left side and Piṅgalā on the right side, while the Suṣumnā is in the middle. These three are known to be the paths of prāṇa. Prāṇa, Apāna, Samāna, Udāna, and Vyāna; Naga, Karma, Kṛkara, Devadatta and Dhanañjaya; of these, the first five are called prāṇas, etc., and last five Naga, etc. are called vāyus (or sub-prāṇas). All these are situated (or run along) the one thousand nādis, (being) in the form of (or producing) life. Jīva which is under the influence of prāṇa and apāna goes up and down. Jīva on account of its ever moving by the left and right paths is not visible. Just as a ball struck down (on the earth) with the bat of the hand springs up, so jīva ever tossed by prāṇa and apāna is never at rest. He is knower of yoga who knows that prāṇa always draws itself from apāna and apāna draws itself from prāṇa, like a bird (drawing itself from and yet not freeing itself) from the string (to which it is tied).

The jīva comes out with the letter Ha and gets in again with the letter Sa. Thus jīva always utters the mantra 'Ham-sa,' 'Haṃsa'. The jīva always utters the mantra twenty-one thousand and six hundred times in one day and night. This is called Ajapā Gāyatrī and is ever the bestower of nirvāṇa to the yogins. Through its very thought, man is freed from sins. Neither in the past nor in the future is there a science equal to this, a japa equal to this or a meritorious action equal to this. Parameśvarī (viz., kundalinī śakti) sleeps shutting with her mouth that door which leads to the decayless Brahma-hole. Being aroused by the contact of agni with manas and prāṇa, she takes the form of a needle and pierces up through Suṣumnā. The yogin should open with great effort this door which is shut. Then he will pierce the door to salvation by means of kundalinī. Folding firmly the fingers of the hands, assuming firmly the Padma posture, placing the chin firmly on the breast and fixing the mind in dhyāṇa, one should frequently raise up the apāna, fill up with air and then leave the prāṇa. Then the wise man gets matchless wisdom through (this) śakti. That yogin who assuming Padma posture worships (i.e., controls) vāyu at the door of the nādis and then performs restraint of breath is released without doubt. Rubbing off the limbs the sweat arising from fatigue, abandoning all acid, bitter and saltish (food), taking delight in the drinking of milk and rasa, practising celibacy, being moderate in eating and ever bent on yoga, the yogin becomes a siddha in little more than a year. No inquiry need be made concerning the result. Kuṇḍalinī śakti, when it is up in the throat, makes the yogi get siddhi. The union of prāṇa and apāna has the extinction of urine and fæces.

One becomes young even when old through performing mūlabandha always. Pressing the yoni by means of the heels and contracting the anus and drawing up the apāna—this is called mūlabandha. Uddiyāṇa bandha is so called because it is (like) a great bird that flies up always without rest. One should bring the western part of the stomach above the navel. This Uddiyāṇa bandha is a lion to the elephant of death, since it binds the water (or nectar) of the ākāś which arises in the head and flows down. The Jālandhara bandha is the destroyer of all the pains of the throat. When this Jālandhara bandha which is destroyer of the pains of the throat is performed, then nectar does not fall on agni nor does the vāyu move. When the tongue enters backwards into the hole of the skull, then there is the mudrā of vision latent in the eyebrow called khecarī. He who knows the mudrā, khecarī has not disease, death, sleep, hunger, thirst, or swoon. He who practises this mudrā is not affected by illness or karma; nor is he bound by the limitations of time. Since citta moves in the kha (ākāś) and since the tongue has entered (in the mudrā) kha (viz., the hole in the mouth), therefore the mudrā is called khecarī and worshipped by the siddhas. He whose hole (or passage) above the uvula is closed (with the tongue backwards) by means of khecarīmudrā never loses his virility, even when embraced by a lovely woman. Where is the fear of death, so long as the bindu (virility) stays in the body. Bindu does not go out of the body, so long as the khecarīmudrā is practised. (Even) when bindu comes down to the sphere of the perineum, it goes up, being prevented and forced up by violent effort through yonimudrā. This bindu is twofold, white and red. The white one is called śukla and the red one is said to contain much rajas. The rajas which stays in yoni is like the colour of a coral. The bindu stays in the seat of the genital organs. The union of these two is very rare. Bindu is Śiva and rajas is śakti. Bindu is the moon and rajas is the sun. Through the union of these two is attained the highest body; when rajas is roused up by agitating the śakti through vāyu which unites with the sun, thence is produced the divine form. Śukla being united with the moon and rajas with the sun, he is a knower of yoga who knows the proper mixture of these two. The cleansing of the accumulated refuse, the unification of the sun and the moon and the complete drying of the rasas (essences), this is called mahāmudrā. Placing the chin on the breast, pressing the anus by means of the left heel, and seizing (the toe of) the extended right leg by the two hands, one should fill his belly (with air) and should slowly exhale. This is called mahāmudrā, the destroyer of the sins of men.

Now I shall give a description of Ātmā. In the seat of the heart is a lotus of eight petals. In its centre is jīvātmā of the form of jyotis and atomic in size, moving in a circular line. In it is located everything. It knows everything. It does everything. It does all these actions attributing everything to its own power, (thinking) I do, I enjoy, I am happy, I am miserable, I am blind, I am lame, I am deaf, I am mute, I am lean, I am stout, etc. When it rests on the eastern petal which is of śveta (white) colour, then it has a mind (or is inclined) to dharma with bhakti (devotion). When it rests on the southeastern petal, which is of rakta (blood colour), then it is inclined to sleep and laziness. When it rests on the southern petal, which is of kṛṣṇa (black) colour, then it is inclined to hate and anger. When it rests on the south-western petal which is of nīla (blue) colour, then it gets desire for sinful or harmful actions. When it rests on the western petal which is of crystal colour, then it is inclined to flirt and amuse. When it rests on the north-western petal which is of ruby colour, then it has a mind to walk, rove and have vairāgya (or be indifferent). When it rests on, the northern petal which is pita (yellow) colour, then it is inclined to be happy and to be loving. When it rests on the north-eastern petal which is of vaidūrya (lapis lazuli) colour, then it is inclined to amassing money, charity and passion. When it stays in the interspace between any two petals, then it gets the wrath arising from diseases generated through (the disturbance of the equilibrium of) vāyu, bile and phlegm (in the body). When it stays in the middle, then it knows everything, sings, dances, speaks and is blissful. When the eye is pained (after a day's work), then in order to remove (its) pain, it makes first a circular line and sinks in the middle. The first line is of the colour of bandhūka flower (Bassia). Then is the state of sleep. In the middle of the state of sleep is the state of dream. In the middle of the state of dream, it experiences the ideas of perception, Vedas, inference, possibility, (sacred) words, etc. Then there arises much fatigue. In order to remove this fatigue, it circles the second line and sinks in the middle. The second is of the colour of (the insect) Indragopa (of red or white colour). Then comes the state of dreamless sleep.

During the dreamless sleep, it has only the thought connected with Parameśvara (the highest Lord) alone. This state is of the nature of eternal wisdom. Afterwards it attains the nature of the highest Lord (Parameśvara). Then it makes a round of the third circle and sinks in the middle. The third circle is of the colour of padmarāga (ruby). Then comes the state of turya (the fourth). In turya, there is only the connection of Paramātmā. It attains the nature of eternal wisdom. Then one should gradually attain the quiescence of buddhi with self-control. Placing the manas in Ātmā, one should think of nothing else. Then causing the union of prāṇa and apāna, he concentrates his aim upon the whole universe being of the nature of Ātma. Then comes the state of turyātīta (viz., that state beyond the fourth). Then everything appears as bliss. He is beyond the pairs (of happiness and pains, etc.). He stays here as long as he should wear his body. Then he attains the nature of Paramātmā and attains emancipation through this means. This alone is the means of knowing Ātmā.

When vāyu (breath) which enters the great hole associated with a hall where four roads meet gets into the half of the well-placed triangle,[4] then is Achyuta (the indestructible) seen. Above the aforesaid triangle, one should meditate on the five bīja (seed) letters of (the elements) pṛthivī, etc., as also on the five prāṇas, the colour of the bījas and their position. The letter य[5] is the bīja of prāṇa and resembles the blue cloud. The letter र is the bīja of agni, is of apāna and resembles the sun. The letter ल is the bīja of pṛthivī, is of vyāna and resembles bandhūka flower. The letter व is the bīja of jīva (or vayu), is of udāna and is of the colour of the conch. The letter ह is the bīja of ākāś, is of samāna, and is of the colour of crystal. Prāṇa stays in the heart, navel, nose, ear, foot, finger, and other places, travels through the seventy-two thousand nādis, stays in the twenty-eight crores of hair-pores and is yet the same everywhere. It is that which is called jīva. One should perform the three, expiration, etc., with a firm will and great control: and drawing in everything (with the breath) in slow degrees, he should bind prāṇa and apāna in the cave of the lotus of the heart and utter praṇava, having contracted his throat and the genital organ. From the Mūlādhāra (to the head) is the Suṣumnā resembling the shining thread of the lotus. The nāda is located in the Vīṇādaṇḍa, (spinal column); that sound from its middle resembles (that of) the conch, etc. When it goes to the hole of the ākāś, it resembles that of the peacock. In the middle of the cave of the skull between the four doors shines Ātmā, like the sun in the sky. Between the two bows in the Brahma-hole, one should see Puruṣa with śakti as his own Ātmā. Then his manas is absorbed there. That man attains kaivalya who understands the gems, moonlight, nāda, bindu, and the seat of Maheśvara (the great Lord).

Thus is the Upaniṣad.

Footnotes and references:


Of the heart.


The black mark on the breast standing for mūlaprakṛti and the garland for the five elements.


In other places, it is ten.


Probably it refers to the triangle of the initiates.


There seems to be some mistake in the original.


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