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 the Paramatman and the other one is the deity, Brahman. Whenever I mention the latter one, I always suffix it with the catchphrase ‘the deity’).
The body of the second Matra “U” is Yajur Veda, Dakshina (the Fire), Bhuvar (Antariksa or intermediate etherial region), and Lord Vishnu.
The body of the third Matra “M” is Sama Veda, Ahavaniya, Suvar (Upper etherial region), and Lord Parameswara.
The Location of Pranava
The seat of “A” is in the middle of the region of the Sun (Surya Mandala) located in the middle of the forehead.
The seat of “U” is in the middle of the region of the Moon (Chandra Mandala) located in the middle of the forehead. It appears and resembles the moon.
The seat of “M” is in the middle of the region of the Fire (Agni Mandala) located in the middle of the forehead. It appears as smoke-less and lightening.
The Ardha Matra stands over them as the flame of a lamp.
Beyond Ardha Matra, yet another subtle flame is seen there like the fibre of the lotus and shines the Nadi which resembles the Sun. The flame transcends and penetrates the Surya Nadi and the seventy-two thousand Nadis asunder and stands in the head as the bestower of all boons. This is the Kala of Pranava. Kala is the terminal vanishing sound of Om, fading away very slowly (like the sound of an empty metal vessel fades away slowly) and making the laya of merging the Atman with Brahman. This laya yoga gives immortality.
Jiva is of three kinds, Prana, Radiance, and Akash (ether). The Jiva of Prana is found in the innermost part of Atman in the region of the heart. The Jiva of Fire is found in the region of the navel. The Jiva of Akash is found exist as Brahman transcending all existence like the Sun with its rays.
Sahaaram sa Hahaaram sa Jivo japati sarvataa. Jiva always chants the mantra of letter Sa and Ha. So’ham is the mantra. It starts from the region of navel along with breath, devoid of the worldly matters. Though Milk and Ghee have different appearances, milk is the source of ghee. Likewise, Jiva merges with the source Brahman by the five limbs of yoga starting from Pranayama.(Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi). Jiva takes the seat of the heart with four modifications. If the sphere of the body (Kanda: Perineum) is not pierced by Susumna, the great bird Hamsa takes its abode. The Jiva will wander restlessly until the knowledge of Atman is attained. If the knowledge of Atman is attained, the Prana goes out of the body, the Jiva attains the cessation of aspects of modifications and is released from the worldly bondage. He sings as Hamsa bird which is the heart with the sound of Anahata ether. It is self-luminous.
After giving up Rechaka and Puraka, the yogi should stand on Kumbhaka alone. By controlling Prana and Apana by Kumbhaka, One should balance the region of the navel. By drinking the nectar dripping down from the head and bathing the luminous god with that nectar at the region of the navel, one should chant “Hamsa”, “Hamsa”. One who chants like this will neither have disease nor death. He should practice daily for the attainment of powers. The constant practice of Hamsa Vidya will bestow immortality and the state of Iswara. If the Hamsa Vidya ceases to exist, there will be no other means to attain immortality.
One should serve the person who grants the knowledge of Hamsa Vidya. The disciple should take command of the Guru irrespective of the outcome. Whether the command gives pleasure or pain to him, the disciple should execute the mandate without any hesitation. By constant attendance to his Guru, the disciple should acquire the knowledge of Hamsa vidya from him. Having thus obtained the knowledge, he should renounce the world, as he gets rid of the dust of his feet. He should renounce all the relationships with his body, his kith and kin, Varnas (caste), ashram (life discipline), Vedas, Sastras (Scriptures) and everything. He should develop the devotion to Guru who is Lord Hari himself.
The Vedas are the supreme authority and there is no doubt about this. Anything which is not in agreement with Vedas will lead to destruction. The body has limbs or parts whereas the Brahman is indivisible. Brahman is attainable only through perception. Why, then, there are so many ways? Whenever the mantra “Hamsa”, “Hamsa” is chanted, Hamsa denotes Lord Brahma, Lord Hari, and Lord Siva. One should obtain this knowledge directly from the preceptor who knows that Hamsa is perceived in all the paths leading to different directions. Hamsa stands in our body and everywhere like oil in sesame seeds and fragrance in the flower. Hamsa pervades all.
After obtaining the knowledge, the yogi should renounce all the knowledge along with the quest for knowledge, as the torch bearer renounces the torch subsequent upon finding the treasure or target. The flower is finite whereas its fragrance is infinite. The tree has a finite number of branches whereas we cannot determine the number of branches a shadow of the tree has. This finite and infinite nature prevails everywhere. The seeker is finite whereas the sought cannot be determined. Jiva can be determined whereas Brahman cannot be determined. The first Matra (‘A’), the second Matra (‘U’), and the third Matra (‘M’) are finite whereas the Ardha Matra is infinite. The finite Atman has five different abodes in the body. In the heart, Atman is Brahman, the deity. In the throat, Atman is Vishnu. Rudra is in Palate. Maheswara is in the forehead. Sada-Siva is at the tip of the nose. Twelve Angluas (inches) from the tip of the nose, is the seat of innermost Atman. At the end of that place is the seat of Paramatman.
The secret doctrine
Let the mind be fixed on one thing whereas the eyes are directed elsewhere. (This doctrine is only hinted here, not explained, by the Upanishad). This is the secret doctrine that should be passed on only to the deserved pupil who worships his Guru as God incarnate. There is no other yoga equal to this. If this knowledge is passed to the undeserved, the person who does so will go to the hell and he could not succeed in any of his endeavors thereafter.
He who knows this doctrine, irrespective of the stage or type of life he leads (Bachelor, family man, a renouncer of the world or old-ager) and the place he is in, is blessed with never-ending happiness even at the verge of entering into a new body. He is not touched by the karma of good or bad actions whether it is begotten by performing Asvamedha Yajna (a religious ceremony performed to achieve high results by horse) or by Brahma hathya (killing of a Brahmin).
The Guru plays the roles of a practitioner, awakener, and bestower of liberation. As a practitioner, he shows the pupil the path of practicing meditation. As an awakener, he awakens the Atman of the pupil towards the realisation. A Guru becomes the bestower of liberation by making the pupil liberated by imparting to him the reality of the existence of Brahman in everything.
Self Sacrificing Yajna
A brief account of practice is mentioned here. The yogi should perform Pranayama with Rechaka, Puraka, and Kumbhaka for 3 hours daily. Thereupon he should perform the two techniques mentioned earlier (Omkara and Hamsa mantra). He should meditate on the Nadis, Ida, Pingala, and the tri-junction. He should see the Bindu and worship Brahman by assuming Chin-Mudra. In this meditation of Brahman, Atman is lost in merging with Brahman. This practice of solar eclipse is the direct sacrifice of self or Atman, the self-sacrificing Yajna.
By this yoga, the oneness of Atman and Brahman is attained as water is water even when added with water. By the persistent practice of this yoga, the yogi is free from all pains and sufferings of any nature. He attains the supreme wisdom by which the merger of Atman and Brahman happens. By Hamsa mantra, he becomes the Hamsa, the transcendent Brahman.
Nature of Hamsa
Hamsa has its abode in the (heart) middle of the body of all living creatures.
It is the supreme truth and real existence. It is the Maha Vakya (supreme text) sanctioned by Vedas. Hamsa alone transcends the transcendent Brahman. Hamsa is Rudra Himself. Hamsa alone is Maheswara standing amidst all the gods. Hamsa alone is the Varna (type or class) from Prithvi (earth) to Siva. Hamsa alone is the fifty-one alphabets of Sanskrit.
People could not recognize a Mantra which could not be articulated with Alphabets. One should take resort to the protection of matchless Hamsa, God Dakshinamurthy who is located among gods, facing south and assuming Jnana Mudra. Memorizing the Hamsa mantra, he should concentrate on that clear crystal form of Jnana Mudra, which occupies the middle region (heart).
The primary vital airs (Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana, and Vyana) along with Panchakarma Indirya (five organs of action) are stimulated by the strength of Kriya Sakthi (power of action). The Panchakarma Indirya are
1. Pada (Feet)
2. Pani (Hands)
3. Payu (Rectum)
4. Upasta (Genitals)
5. Vak (Mouth)
The secondary vital airs (Naga, Kurma, Kirkara, Devadatta, and Dhananjaya) along with Pancha Jnana Indirya are stimulated by the strength of Jnana Sakthi (Power of wisdom). The Pancha Jnana Indirya are
1. Shotra (ear)
2. Chaksu (eyes)
3. Grahna (nose)
4. Jivha (tongue)
5. Tvak (skin)
Midway between Kriya Sakthi and Jnana Sakthi, Hamsa stands in the form of fire in Muladhara. Hamsa, by whom the Kechari mudra is assumed, having taken the form of the Sun, takes his stand at Manipura Chakra, at the tip of the nose and between the two eyes.
The Agni (Fire) stands in “A” in Muladhara, “U” in Anahata and “M” in Ajna. One should kindle the Fire with Prana. There are three blockages for the movement of Agni along the passage. They are
1. Brahma Granthi ( the knot of Brahma) in “A”
2. Vishnu Granthi (the knot of Vishnu) in “U”
3. Rudra Granthi (the knot of Rudra) in “M”
How to Practice Hamsa Vidya?
With the knowledge of Hamsa, one should burst open the three Grantis on the passage by AUM with Ardha Matra. “A” is Lord Brahma (the deity), “U” is Lord Vishnu, “M” is Lord Rudra and Ardha Matra is transcending Brahman, the Supreme Being.
1. Assume Siddhasana
2. Perform Jalandhara Bandha
3. Perform Mulabandha
4. Assume Kechari Mudra by entering Tri-Kuta, the junction of three Nadis, leading to the Tri-sandhi (three-fold directions) of Golaka, Nikhara, and Tri-Sanka. Enter the orifice between the eyebrows with the duct leading upwards by forcing the Kundalini and Prana and pierce open the lunar region by performing Vajra Kumbhaka (Surya Ujjayi, Sitali)
5. Bind the Nava tvara (nine orifices) of the body with Prana and Pure mind.
6. The Nada (sound) will manifest at the seat of the Brahman. The Chandra-Kala (the Sankini Nadi) will start showering the nectar. The lamp of wisdom will start radiating. One should always worship that form of God and mutter Hamsa Mantra (“Hamsa”, “Hamsa”). Hamsa chants the mantra 21600 times a day along with the breath, known as “So’ham”. The Yogi should always meditate on Adho-linga at Muladhara, Atma Linga at Anahata and Jyotir Linga at Ajna with the realisation of Hamsa (I am He).
The yogi should meditate like this.
I am constant, unthinkable, non-conjecturable, originless, invulnerable, limbless, soundless, formless, second-less, tasteless, flavorless, beginningless, immortal, imperishable, sexless, partless, lifeless, incomprehensible, inartificial, not graspable, not demonstrable, bodiless, eyeless, invisible, speechless, casteless, indivisible, lightless, unborn, changeless, subtle, motionless, unqualified, illusionless, unseen, unheard, airless, ether-less, unborn, non-functioning, non-dual, not-affected, inertia-less, length-less, non-ailing, indistinct, bliss, desire-less, non-doer, peerless, unalterable, beyond the range of speech and mind, devoid of ignorance, sorrow-less, doubt-less, anger-less, Atma-Chaitanya (self-consciousness).
I am the form of nectar of Bliss. I take the seat in Atman. I am the Iswara. I am the Isana. I am the adorable Supreme Being. I am the Supreme Will. I am the Supreme Consciousness. I am higher than any other thing. I am the controller of all actions and senses. I am the absolute, I am the rescuer. I am radiant. I am beyond the reach of darkness. I am ancient. I am a celebrity of celebrities. I am the witness of lethargy. I am divine. I am God. I am inactive. I am obscure. I am devoid of greed, sense organs, desire, parts, and qualities.
I am the Purusha, Paramatman, awakened, enlightened. I am the nectar, enticer of the material world and the inner-most one essence. I am well-known. I am the protector of all. I am Maheswara. I am Omnipotent. I am pervading all. I am Vasudeva. I am Visnu, I am Siva. I am eternal and ever-existing. I dwell as Atman in every being. I am the witness of all. I am the manifestation of all senses and their qualities, yet devoid of the senses.
I am the existence. I am the breaker of all bonds. I am an Omniscient. I am the enjoyer of everything. He who knows this is the Purusha.
Reference: Sanskrit Text Reference