Vidyā’ or Upāsanā

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

An important aspect of sādhana as enunciated in the Upaniṣads is ‘vidyā’ or upāsanā. A man deeply devoted to or addicted to the religion of yajñas or Vedic sacrifices, has to be led gradually, first to contemplation and then to jñāna[1] of the ātman in course of time, because that is the ultimate goal of life. That is the only way to mokṣa. These upāsanās have taken two forms. They are:

  1. In the first group, the sādhaka is advised to imagine the various parts of a ritual and then superimpose certain ideas on them. For instance, the Brhadāranyaka Upaniṣad[2] advises one to meditate upon the horse to be offered in the Aśvamedha sacrifice, by thinking that it is Prajāpati, the Lord of beings. This upāsanā, which can be practiced even by those who are not competent to perform the Aśvamedha sacrifice, gives the same fruits as the real Aśvamedha itself.
  2. In the second group of upāsanās certain known objects like nāma,[3] vāk[4] bala[5] or manas[6] are recommended to be meditated upon as Brāhman.


  1. Jñāna means knowledge or direct experience.
  2. Brhadāranyaka Upaniṣad 1.1.1, 2
  3. Nāma means name.
  4. Vāk means speech.
  5. Bala means strength.
  6. Manas means mind.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore