From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

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[1] and Siva.[2] There are 390 verses in all in the anuṣṭubh metre spread over six adhyāyas or chapters.

First Adhyāya[edit]

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

Second Adhyāya[edit]

It has 22 verses. It deals mainly with Praṇava[3] as the mulamantra.[4] It is interesting to note that devotion to the guru and God are stressed as all-important in attaining the knowledge of the Supreme.

Third Adhyāya[edit]

It has 25 verses. It describes Nādabrahman or Brahman as sound and its four forms. They are:

  1. Parā
  2. Paśyanti
  3. Madhyamā
  4. Vaikharī

Fourth Adhyāya[edit]

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

Fifth Adhyāya[edit]

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
  • Khecarimudrā
  • Meditation on Nārāyaṇa in the sahasrāracakra
  • Method of worshiping one’s guru and indifference towards siddhis or yogic powers

Sixth Adhyāya[edit]

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


The Upaniṣad ends with the warning that jñāna[5] can arise only by practice done according to the instructions of a qualified guru.


  1. He was the disciple.
  2. He was the teacher.
  3. Praṇava means Oṅkāra.
  4. Mulamantra means fundamental esoteric formula.
  5. Jñāna means spiritual wisdom as direct experience.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore