By Swami Harshananda
Asparśa-yoga literally means ‘yoga of non-contact’.
The ten Upaniṣads on which Śaṅkara (A.D. 788-820) wrote commentaries have been accepted as more ancient and authoritative. Māndukyopanisad, the smallest of these, is uniquely distinct because of the comments of Gauḍapāda (7th cent. A. D.). This commentary is well-known as Māndukya Kārikā.
The Māndukya Kārikā which advocates an extreme form of Advaita Vedānta, has used the term ‘asparśa-yoga’ twice. The word ‘sparśa’ is generally used to signify contact of the sense-organs with the sense-objects. Hence any yoga or super-conscious experience which has no contact of the senses with the sense-objects may be called as asparśa-yoga.
In this work, this epithet has been especially used to denote the direct experience of the Ātman or the Self which is beyond the ken of all sense-organs and sense-experience. In this experience the lower self and the consequent ego-sense gets into one leaving unalloyed bliss only. This is the same as ‘jñāna.’
The prospect of dissolution of the ego-sense often frightens the ordinary yogis and spiritual aspirants who therefore try to avoid it. Those who obtain the greatest happiness, the highest good and the absolute freedom is enjoyed by him free from all the doubts and misgivings.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore