By Swami Harshananda
Yogaśikhopaniṣad though classed among the minor Upaniṣads of the Yoga group, this is a fairly long and exhaustive Upanisad. It belongs to the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda. It is in the form of a dialogue between Hiraṇyagarbha and Siva. There are 390 verses in all in the anuṣṭubh metre spread over six adhyāyas or chapters.
It has 178 verses. It deals with a large number of topics. After describing some preliminaries common to Vedāntic scriptures, it deals exhaustively with quite a few topics of Haṭhayoga. The following is a brief list of such topics:
- Purification and refinement of the mind through yoga
- Necessity of approaching a guru or spiritual teacher who is an adept in prāṇāyāma
- Arousing the Kuṇḍalinī power
- Various kinds of prāṇāyāmas and bandhas
- Some yogas like Mantrayoga and Layayoga
- Importance of abhyāsa or continuous practice
- Jīvanmukti or liberation even while living
It has 22 verses. It deals mainly with Praṇava as the mulamantra. It is interesting to note that devotion to the guru and God are stressed as all-important in attaining the knowledge of the Supreme.
It has 24 verses. It puts forward the usual theories of Advaita Vedānta such as:
- The non-existence of the jīva or individual soul as an independent reality
- The world as unreal as the objects seen in a dream
- The body as a superimposition on the soul due to ajñāna or nescience
It has 62 verses. It describes the body as the residence of Viṣṇu, the all-pervading Supreme Lord. Then follows an account of the six cakras like mulādhāra. Other topics portrayed are:
- Rousing of the Kuṇḍalinī power
- Meditation on Nārāyaṇa in the sahasrāracakra
- Method of worshiping one’s guru and indifference towards siddhis or yogic powers
It is the last adhyāya having 79 verses. It deals with a few more topics of Haṭhayoga and Jñānayoga. They are:
- Method of meditation on the Kuṇḍalini power
- Description of the suṣumnānāḍī
- Meditations on the forms of Brahmā in the six cakras
- Bondage and liberation depending on the mind being active or still
- He was the disciple.
- He was the teacher.
- Praṇava means Oṅkāra.
- Mulamantra means fundamental esoteric formula.
- Jñāna means spiritual wisdom as direct experience.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore