By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Varahopanisad, VarAhopaniSad, Varaahopanishad
Varāhopaniṣad is one of the minor Upaniṣads belonging to the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda and assigned to the group of Yoga Upaniṣads. It has 263 mantras, mostly in anuṣṭubh verses, spread over five chapters. It was taught by Lord Varāha to the sage Bhṛgu. The last two chapters were taught by the sage Rbhu to Nidāgha. It can be delineated as follows:
It has 17 verses. Pleased by the tapas of the sage Bhṛgu, Lord Varāha appears before him and offers any boon he likes. Bhṛgu asks only for brahmavidyā or knowledge of Brahman that liberates. The Lord, after narrating a long list of tattvas advocates that bhakti or devotion to God alone can give mukti or liberation.
It has 83 verses. The topics discussed in this chapter are:
- Sādhanacatuṣṭaya - four preliminary disciplines
- True nature of the ātman as consciousness and bliss
- Realized soul becoming one with Brahman
- He is free from the bondages of karma
- Meditation on God Varāha leads to dissolution of thoughts
- Other sādhanas leading to brahmabhāva or becoming Brahman
It has 12 paras and 44 verses. This is divided into two sections, the Brāhmaṇa and the Mantra. It has been taught by the sage Rbhu to the enquirer Nidāgha. The Brāhmaṇa has 12 sections in prose and the Mantra, 44 verses. The first section describes seven bhumikās or stages of development of wisdom such as śubhecchā vicāraṇā and so on. The first three stages are associated with the mumukṣu. The yogis associated with the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh are called brahmavid, brahmavidvara, brahmavidvarīyān and brahmavidvariṣṭha respectively. They are the four kinds of jīvanmuktas. The second section gives a detailed description of all the stages. It also describes the characteristics of the jīvanmukta. The sages Suka and Vāmadeva are projected as jīvanmuktas of two types.
It has 77 verses. This chapter deals with various aspects of the practice of yoga. Some of them are:
- The eight aṅgas or steps of Yoga
- Bandhas - methods of controlling the prāṇic energy
- Cakras - psychic centres
- Nāḍis - nerve current passages
- Japa of praṇava or oṅkāra to remove obstacles and quite a few other technical details.
It ends with a phalaśruti, eulogy of the Upaniṣad, the study and practice of which results in jīvanmukti.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore