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Yoga Scriptures or Yoga Sastras


Sage teaching students



Rig veda is the oldest spiritual scripture that is available today. Nada Bindhu Upanishad of Rig veda, gives details of Yoga practised at that time. Hence the age of yoga can no be determined, because the oldest of the records available tell about the prevalence of yoga practised in those days.

Of the 108 Upanishads available today, 20 Upanishads speaks of yoga. These 20 Upanishads are called Yoga Upanishads. They are


  1. Adavaya Taraka Upanishad
  2. Amirtha Nada Upanishad
  3. Amirtha Bindhu Upanishad
  4. Ksurika Upanishad
  5. Tejo Bindhu Upanishad
  6. Tri Sikhi Brahmana Upanishad
  7. Dharsana Upanishad
  8. Dhyana Bindhu Upanishad
  9. Nada Bindhu Upanishad
  10. Pasupatha Brahmana Upanishad
  11. Brahma Vidya Upanishad
  12. Mandala Brahmana Upanishad
  13. Maha Vakya Upanishad
  14. Yoga Kundali Upanishad
  15. Yoga Sudamani Upanishad
  16. Yoga Tattva Upanishad
  17. Yoga Sikha Upanishad
  18. Varaka Upanishad
  19. Sandilya Upanishad
  20. Hamsa Upanishad
The following yoga scriptures belongs to post vedic period.
  1. Bhagavat Gita
  2. Yoga Sutra of Patanjali
  3. Thirumanthiram by Thirumoolar
  4. Hatha Yoga Pradeepika
  5. Gheranda Samhitha
  6. Siva Samhitha
These are only the important treatises. There are more classical works available. One should dedicate whole of his life to grasp everything that are mentioned in these books. It is not possible for everybody to set aside such a time to learn about them. Hence I make an attempt here to abstract or generalise important concepts and techniques explained in every one of them in such a way by not missing the core ideas.
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Dhyana Bindu Upanishad

Dhyana Bindu Upanishad is the 39th of 108 Upanishads. It contains 106 verses and is attached to Krishna Yajur Veda whereas a smaller version of 26 verses was found attached to Atharva Veda. This Upanishad and Yoga Tattva Upanishad contains some common verses.

The mountainous sins accumulated over many births can be destroyed by Dhyana Yoga (Meditation). Nobody is found to have destroyed the sins by any other means except Meditation. Meditation is the only way to annihilate the sins.

Pranava (Om) is the Supreme Bijakshara (seed letter) with Nada (sound) and Bindu (dot). When the Nada dissolves, the soundless residuum (Brahman) remains. In other words, Pranava (Om) is eternal and Brahman is transcending the Pranava. One who knows the transcending Brahman knows everything without a doubt.

A hundred thousandth part of awn of a grain of paddy is the Jiva-Chaitanya (Consciousness of Atman). A hundred thousandth part of Jiva-Chaitanya is Eswara-Chaitanya (Consciousness of Brahman).  A fifty-tho…

Yoga Tattva Upanishad

Yoga Tattva Upanishad is the Upanishad of yoga philosophy. It is the forty-first Upanishad among the 108 Upanishads and forms part of Krishna Yajur Veda. It contains 142 verses.

I (says the author of the Upanishad) hereby present the philosophy of yoga (yoga tattva) for the benefit of yogis. By hearing and learning this yoga, the yogi will get released himself from all the sins.

The great yogi by name Vishnu, the Supreme Being who is known for his spiritual austerities, stands as the beacon of light in the path of yoga tattva. The Pitamaha (Pitamaha means grandfather. It here refers to Lord Brahman, the deity) approached Lord Jagannath (the other name for Lord Vishnu. Jagannath means the Lord of the universe) paid him respects and asked him to explain the philosophy of Astanga Yoga (yoga of eight limbs or stages).

“Let me explain the philosophy,” said Lord Hrisikesha (the other name of Lord Vishnu. It means the Lord of senses). All people are ensnared in the trap of worldly pains and pl…

Brahma Vidya Upanishad

Brahma Vidya Upanishad is the 40th among the 108 Upanishads. It contains 110 verses and found attached in Krishna Yajur Veda. Yet another version of this Upanishad containing 14 verses is found attached in Atharva Veda.
Brahma Vidya is the knowledge of Brahman. Hence this Upanishad deals with the knowledge of Brahman.
I declare the secret of Brahma Vidya, in the name Vishnu who commands over the marvelous deeds. The supreme science of Brahman is the monosyllable Om, as declared by the expounders of Vedanta.
I declare the body, seat, and durations of Om.  It includes the three Gods (Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheswara), the three worlds (Bhur, Bhuvar, and Suvar), the three Vedas (Rig, Yajur, and Sama), the three Fires (Garha-patya, Dakshina, and Ahavaniya), the three Matras (A, U, and M), and the Ardha Matra.
The body of Pranava The body of the first Matra “A” is Rig Veda, Garha-patya (Fire), Prithvi (Earth), and Lord Brahman, the deity. (In Sanskrit, the word Brahman has two connotations. One is…