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Hamsa Bird Image

What is Hamsa?

Hamsa is a Bird

In Hamsa Mantra, What is Hamsa?

Hamsa is a goose or swan-like bird widely talked about in the Hindu Mythology of Sanskrit and Tamil. In Tamil mythology, it gets the name 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

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 Hamsa. Or maybe for the reason of the bird’s unique ability to get rid of the uncherished (water).  

Hamsa is God

In the 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 won’t attach themselves to anything, even to a permanent place. Paramahamsa means the supreme souls.

They are enlightened souls. Nothing binds them to this world. Paramahamsa Upanishad describes the nature and disciplines of Paramahamsa yogis.

Dual qualities like pleasure and pain, heat and cold, respect and disrespect won’t affect them. They have no traces of besmirching, pride, jealousy, deceit, arrogance, and desire. He constantly merges himself into 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 or Hamsa Mantra.

Steps in Hamsa Mantra Meditation

  1. Assume a convenient posture. Imagine that exhalation starts from the point of the spine Adjacent to the heart. 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 consistent effort, it will become a routine.

Hamsa Mantra in 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’ and ‘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 Godhood.

There are no other means to attain immortality.

Hamsa Mantra in Hamsa Upanishad

Hamsa Upanishad describes Hamsa-Vidya. Sage Gautama asked the sage Sanathkumara to explain  Brahma-Vidya. Sanatkumara described that One can obtain Brahma-Vidya by employing 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 Nirvikalpa Samadhi. And 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 TriMatra Turya (three-metered Turya) and Turya-Turya. There ensues Paramahamsa with the radiance of ten million Suns. The Yogi becomes devoid of his external form.

Ajapa Gayatri

Ajapa Gayatri in Yoga Chudamani Upanishad

Yoga Chudamani Upanishad states that Jiva chants the Hamsa-Mantra 21600 times daily using 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.

Also, It is Prana-Vidya because it relieves the Jiva from Prana and Apana.

Ajapa Gayatri in Mahavakya Upanishad

Mahavakya Upanishad says the Sun is Brahman and Hamsa pertains to Ajapa Gayatri. Hamsa means I am that Sun. I am that Brahman.

It is acquired utilizing 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

Hamsa Yoga in 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.

Hamsa Yoga in Pashupatabrahma Upanishad

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

Om Tat Sat

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