Yoga-kundalini Upanishad of Krishna-Yajurveda

by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1914 | 4,927 words

This is the English translation of the Yoga-kundalini Upanishad (belonging to the Krishna-Yajurveda): a minor Sanskrit treatise selected amongst a collection 108 extant upanishads, dating to at least the 1st millennium BC. The Yoga-kundalini-upanishad expounds the theory of Kundalini Yoga and describes the systems of Hatha and Lambika yoga. Kundal...

Chapter I

[note: In this Upaniṣad are stated the ways by which the Kuṇḍalinī 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.]

Citta[1] has two causes, vāsanās and (prāṇa) vāyu. If-one of them is controlled, then both are controlled. Of these two, a person should control (prāṇa) vāyu always through moderate food, postures, and thirdly śakti-cāla.[2] I shall explain the nature of these. Listen to it, O Gautama. One should take a sweet and nutritious food,[3] 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 mūlakanda[4] 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-cāla. In practising it, two things are necessary, Sarasvatīcālana[5] and the restraint of prāṇa (breath). Then through practice, kundalinī (which is spiral) becomes straightened. Of these two, I shall explain to you first Sarasvatī-cālaṇa. It is said by the wise of old that Sarasvatī is no other than Arundhatī.[6] It is only by rousing her up that kundalinī is roused. When prāṇa (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.[7] 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 suṣumnā. By this means, kundalinī enters the mouth of suṣumnā. Prāṇa (also) having left (that place) enters of itself the suṣumnā (along with kundalinī). By compressing the neck, one should also expand the navel. Then by shaking sarasvatī, prāṇa 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 prāṇāyāma. Prāṇa is the vāyu that moves in the body and its restraint within is known as kumbhaka. It is of two kinds, sahita and kevala.[8] 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) स 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., suṣumnā). It pierces also the three granthis[9] (or knots) differentiated through the three guṇas. 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.[10] The first is called mūlabandha. The second is called uddiyāṇa, 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) prāṇa 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 (suṣumnā). Therefore yogins should daily practise mūlabandha often. Uddiyāṇa should be performed at the end of kumbhaka and at the beginning of expiration. Because prāṇa uddīyatē (viz., goes up) the suṣumnā in this bandha, therefore it called uddiyāṇa 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 tāna 3 (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 prāṇa 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), prāṇa goes through brahmanādi on the western tāna in the middle. Assuming the seat as mentioned before, one should stir up sarasvatī and control prāṇa. 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 prāṇa. 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;[11] 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 prāṇāyāma should be performed daily with the mind firmly fixed on Truth. Then citta is absorbed in suṣumnā, and prāṇa (therefore) never moves. When the impurities (of citta) are thus removed and prāṇa is absorbed in suṣumnā, 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 prāṇa. Then prāṇa and apāna uniting with one another go to kundalinī, which is coiled up and asleep. Kuṇḍalinī being heated by agni and stirred up by vāyu, extends her body in the mouth of suṣumnā, pierces the brahmagranthi formed of rajas, and flashes at once like lightning at the mouth of suṣumnā. Then it goes up at once through viṣṇūgranthi 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 maṇḍala (sphere) of the moon. It dries up the moisture produced by the moon in the anāhatachakra having sixteen petals.[12] When the blood is agitated through the speed of prāṇa, 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.[13] Then being agitated, it goes up. Through taking in this, citta which was moving amidst sensual objects externally, is restrained there. The novice enjoying this high state attains peace and becomes devoted to Ātmā. Kuṇḍalinī assumes the eight[14] forms of prakṛti (matter) and attains Śiva by encircling him and dissolves itself in Śiva. Thus rajas-śukla[15] (seminal fluid) which rises up goes to Śiva along with marut (vāyu); prāṇa and apāna which are always produced become equal. Prāṇas 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.[16] 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 saṃsāra 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 Cidātmā.

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 suṣumnā). 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 svādhiṣṭhāna flaming, owing to the blowing of vāyu. From the blowing of vāyu and agni, the chief (kundalinī) pierces open the brahmagranthi and then viṣṇugranthi. 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.

Footnotes and references:


Chitta is the flitting aspect of Antaḥkaraṇa.


Lit., the moving of śakti which is Kuṇdalinī.


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.


Mūlakaṇḍa is the root of kaṇḍa, the genital organ.


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


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


In exhalation, prāṇa 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.


Lit., associated with and alone. Vide Śāṇḍilya-Upaniṣad.


They are Brahmagranthi, Viṣṇugranthi, and Rudragranthi.


Bandhas are certain kinds of position of the body.


This probably refers to Sarasvatī Nādi.


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


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


The passages here are obscure.


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


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.

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