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Hamsa Mantra

Anna Paravai

What is Hamsa?

Hamsa is a Bird

Hamsa is a goose or swan-like bird widely talked in Hindu Mythology of Sanskrit and Tamil. In Tamil mythology, it is called Anna Paravai. Probably it might have derived its root from the Sanskrit word Arayanna, the other name of heavenly Hamsa. It was the bird that had the unique ability to drink milk leaving the water from the mixture of water and milk. The word was used even in Rig Veda (1-65-5; 1-163-10;2-34-5;3-8-9), the earliest of the scriptures.

Hamsa bird is the Vahana (a creature that serves as a vehicle to a deity)  of Lord Brahma, Lordess Saraswati, Lordess Gayatri, and Visvakarma the creator of the universe.

Hamsa is Atman

But in Hindu philosophy, Hamsa indicates Atman or Purusa, the Self or the embodied soul. Paramahamsa is Paramatman or the Universal Self. Brihadaranya Upanishad 4.3.11 says 'hiraṇmayaḥ puruṣa ekahaṃsaḥ' meaning the radiant Purusa is only Hamsa. Hamsa or swan is a migrating bird. Maybe, for this reason, the embodied soul may be called as Hamsa. Or maybe for the reason of the bird's unique ability to get rid of the uncherished (water).  

Hamsa is God

In Advaita sub-school of Indian Philosophy, Hamsa is the combination of two words Aham and Sa meaning I am He. It is a synonym of Aham Brahmasmi: I am Brahman, the ultimate reality.

Paramahamsa Yogi

Paramahamsa yogis are the migrating yogis or wandering yogis. They are not attached to anything, even the place. Paramahamsa literally means the supreme souls. They are enlightened souls. Nothing binds them to this world. Parahamsa Upanishad describes the nature and disciplines of Paramahamsa yogis. They are not affected by the dualities like pleasure and pain, heat and cold, respect and disrespect. They have no traces of besmirching, pride, jealousy, deceit, arrogance, and desire. He constantly merges himself in supreme reality. For him, there is no difference between the embodied soul and the universal soul. 

Hamsa Vidya

Dhyana Bindu Upanishad (61-62) says:

hakāreṇa bahiryāti sakāreṇa viśetpunaḥ
haṃsahaṃsetyamaṃ mantraṃ jīvo japati sarvadā 

It means 'Prana goes out with the sound Ha and comes in with the sound Sa. In this manner, Jiva is constantly repeating the mantra Hamsa Hamsa'. 

Steps in Hamsa Meditation

  1. Assume a convenient posture. Imagine that exhalation starts from the point of the spine where the heart is situated. During exhalation, the breath travels up through the spine and ends in the empty place which is a little above the top of the head. For inhalation, reverse the process. Practice this for a while before adding the subsequent steps.
  2. During exhalation, imagine that the breath goes out with the sound Ha with its meaning I (am).
  3. During inhalation, imagine that the breath comes in with the sound Sa with its meaning He, the supreme reality.
  4. For every breath, the meditation should be upon I am the supreme reality. 
This is one of the series of techniques in Hamsa Vidya. Initially, it may seem a little difficult to get acquainted with. With consistent effort, it will become a routine.

Brahmavidya Upanishad

Brahmavidya Upanishad describes an advanced technique of Hamsa Vidya. After achieving Kevala Kumbhaka (having given up Rechaka and Puraka by advanced Pranayama), the yogi should meditate on Navel Chakra. By drinking the nectar that falls from the head and by bathing the radiant god (Atman) in that nectar in the navel region, he should repeat the words 'Hamsa' 'Hamsa'. He will get rid of all diseases and death. Daily practice leads to the attainment of powers. Constant practice bestows one with immortality and God-hood. There are no other means to attain immortality.

Hamsa Upanishad

Hamsa Upanishad describes Hamsa-Vidya. Sage Gautama asked the sage Sanathkumara to explain  Brahma-Vidya. Sanatkumara described that Brahma-Vidya is obtained by means of Hamsa-Vidya. He described Hamsa-Vidya and its importance. Sanatkumara stated that Hamsa is the embodied soul and Paramahamsa is the Supreme God. Paramahamsa pervades all and the embodied soul. The ultimate aim of Hamsa-Vidya is to understand the oneness of the embodied soul with the universal soul.

Here is the account of Hamsa-Vidya as explained in this Upanishad. The yogi should force the Prana upwards by pressing the Anus in Muladhara Chakra. Having brought-up the Prana, he should circumnavigate the Svadhistansa chakra thrice. Then he should travel through Manipura, Anahata, and Visuddhi to enter Ajna. Then he should meditate upon Paramahamsa to attain Nir-Vikalpa-Samadhi. Then he should drink the nectar generated by the union of the Sun, the moon and Agni. Afterward, he should enter Brahma-randhra and meditate on Tri-Matra Turya (three metered Turya) and Turya-Turya. There ensues Paramahamsa with the radiance of ten millions of Suns. The Yogi becomes devoid of his external form.

Ajapa Gayatri

Yoga Chudamani Upanishad

Yoga Chudamani Upanishad states that Jiva chants the Hamsa-Mantra 21600 times daily by means of breath. This mantra is known as Ajapa Gayatri. The mere resolve of chanting this mantra makes one sinless. There is no equivalent to this mantra. It is also known as Prana-Vidya because it relieves the Jiva from Prana and Apana.

Mahavakya Upanishad

Mahavakya Upanishad says Sun is Brahman and Hamsa pertains to Ajapa Gayatri. Hamsa means I am that Sun. I am that Brahman. It is acquired by means of Prana and Apana going inward and outward from the opposite direction. The yogi should apply this with meditation upon Atman in its three-fold aspects. Having applied it for a very long time, the yogi experiences the manifestation of Paramatman.  

Hamsa Yoga

Yoga Sikha Upanishad

Yoga Sikha Upanishad describes Hamsa-Yoga. Jiva is always controlled by Prana and Apana. Like a ball being repeatedly thrown down by the forearm, Jiva leaps up and down incessantly being attracted by Prana and Apana. It goes out with the mantra Ha and comes in with the mantra Sa. It always recites the mantra 'Hamsa-Hamsa'. This knowledge leads to immortality.

Pashupatabrahma Upanishad

According to Pashupatabrahma Upanishad, the application of mind in Hamsa-nada or the sounds that are generated in Hamsa Yoga, Jiva becomes transformed.

Om Tat Sat



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…