By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Bhavanopanisad, BhAvanopanisad, Bhaavanopanisad
This is a minor upaniṣad belonging to the Śākta school, dealing with Śakti or the Divine Mother. It has been classed under the Atharvaṇaveda. The Śākta school holds that Brahman the Absolute, the ultimate cause and substratum of this universe, is also the Śakti or the primordial power. It is also called ‘prakāśa’ or the Supreme Light.
When it deliberates to manifest the creation out of itself, the deliberation itself is called as ‘vimarśa'. It results in a movement or vibration known as ‘spanda.’ The interplay of prakāśa and vimarśa increases the spanda gradually resulting in a graded manifestation of this world of name and form. The rays emerging from the supreme light in the course of various stages of manifestation array themselves in a form pattern which is now well-known as Śrīcakra. It is a master-plan of the universe which is a symbol image and abode of Śakti or the Divine Mother. They are variously called as
- Lalitā - The Mother of grace
- Rāja-Rājeśvarī - Her most Imperial Majesty
- Kāmeśvarī - The Mother of love
The purāṇas describe the Śrīcakra as the central place of the city of the great Goddess. However this Śrīcakra is within oneself. This upaniṣad teaches us the ‘bhāvanā’ or the right attitude or mode of meditation to rediscover the Śrīcakra within oneself. Hence it is called Bhāvanopaniṣad.
Since whatever is in the macrocosm is also in the microcosm. If one wants to know microcosm one can know it from the macrocosm. The bhāvanā or meditation taught here starts from the outermost cakra or diagram of the Śrīcakra and traverses step by step from the whole gamut of the nine cakras to the innermost cakra.
In this process the aspirant identity is established part by part, limb by limb, from the outermost being to the innermost being, the very soul. As a culmination everything is experienced as pure consciousness and one’s own body becomes full of bliss. The aspirant thus realizes the light or becomes one with it.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore