Nadabindu Upanishad

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Nadabindu Upanishad
Flying high (12384944473).jpg
Opening verses of the Upanishad metaphorically describe soul as a migrant bird
Devanagari नादबिन्दू
IAST Nādabindu
Title means Nasal-point which Om ends in[1]
Date ~100 BCE to 300 CE[2]
Type Yoga[3]
Linked Veda Rigveda or Atharvaveda
Chapters 1
Verses 20,[4] 56[5]
Philosophy Yoga, Vedanta

The Nadabindu Upanishad (Sanskrit: नादबिन्दु उपनिषत्, IAST: Nādabindu Upaniṣad) is an ancient Sanskrit text and one of the minor Upanishads of Hinduism.[6][7][8] It is one of twenty Yoga Upanishads in the four Vedas.[9] It also known as Amitra Nada Bindu Upanishad.[10]

The text exists in two significantly different versions, the North Indian and the South Indian. These manuscripts are respectively attached to the Atharvaveda,[11] or to the Rigveda.[12][7]


The word Nada, according to Deussen, refers to the buzzing nasal sound or tone that Om sound fades into,[1] while 'bindu' means "point", "drop", or "dot", both in physical and metaphyical sense.[13] The title implies "seed point or point of concentration of power".[13]


The relative chronology of the text is placed by Mircea Eliade with the ancient Yoga Upanishads. He suggests that it was composed in the same period when the following texts were composed – Maitri Upanishad, the didactic parts of the Mahabharata, the chief Sannyasa Upanishads and along with other early Yoga Upanishads such as Brahmabindu, Brahmavidya, Tejobindu, Yogatattva, Kshurika, Yogashikha, Dhyanabindu and Amritabindu.[8] These and the Nadabindu text, adds Eliade, were composed earlier than the ten or eleven later yogic Upanishads such as the Yoga-kundali, Varaha and Pashupatabrahma Upanishads.[8]

Gavin Flood dates this text, along with other Yoga Upanishads, to be probably from the 100 BCE to 300 CE period.[2] Guy Beck dates it to be probably from the pre-Christian era and the earliest document on the Yoga of sacred sound,[14] while Georg Feuerstein suggests that the text is likely from a period in early 1st millennium CE.[15] Mikel Burley states that this text does not provide techniques of Hatha Yoga, but probably influenced the later Hatha yoga texts.[16]

The Upanishad is also referred to as Nadabindu Upanishad or Nadabindupanisad (नादबिन्दूपनिषत).[12][17] It is listed at number 38 in the serial order of the Muktika enumerated by Rama to Hanuman in the modern era anthology of 108 Upanishads.[18] In the Colebrooke's version of 52 Upanishads, popular in north India, it is listed at number 17 [19] The Narayana anthology also includes this Upanishad at number 17 in Bibliothica Indica.[20] In the collection of Upanishads under the title "Oupanekhat", put together by Sultan Mohammed Dara Shikhoh in 1656, consisting of a Persian translation of 50 Upanishads and who prefaced it as the best book on religion, the Amratanada is listed at number 43 and is named anbratnad.[21]


Know the Atman as one,
Then, waking, dream and deep sleep,
Throwing off these three states,
You will never be born again.

A single being-self there is,
It dwells in each and every being,
Uniform and yet multiform,
It appears like the moon in pond.

Brahmabindu Upanishad 11–12 [22]

The text is composed in poetic verse style.[23] The text, in both versions of the manuscripts, opens with a metaphorical comparison of Atman (soul, self) as a Hamsa bird (swan, goose), comparing both to the Om symbol and the Samkhya theory of three Gunas.[4][24] It asserts that true Yoga involves meditation and renunciation from all attachments to the worldly cravings.[4][24][25]

Dharma (ethics), states the text, is a requirement for a Yogi life, and it is notable for describing Om symbol with twelve moras instead of three and half moras commonly found in ancient Indian literature.[4][25]

The yogin contemplates on Omkara, asserts the text, as Hamsa, in twelve Kalas or variations of the four matras (intonations).[26] The variation is produced by the three svara (note on the musical scale), namely Udatta, Anudatta and Svarita.[26] The twelve Kalas, according to Nadabindu text, are Ghosini, Vidyunmali, Patangini, Vayuvegini, Namadheya, Aindri, Vaishnavi, Sankari, Mahati, Dhriti, Nari and Brahmi.[26] The manuscripts of Nadabindu discovered in different parts of India, partially vary in this list. For example, the Calcutta version differs from Poona edition by replacing Dhriti with Dhruva, and Mauni for Nari.[26] The text suggests that a yogin should contemplate and be absorbed in the Om with these Kalas, as it leads one to knowledge of Atman or Self, helps him overcome three types of Karma.[5][27][28] The text refers to the Vedanta theory of Ajnana (ignorance) as the cause of bondage, suggesting that a yogin should listen to his inner voice in Siddhasana.[29][5]

A yogin, at the start of his practice, hears many sounds proceeding from those like an ocean and clouds.[30][5] These filter out, and over time, he can hear more subtle sounds such as single note of musical instruments at his will, and get absorbed in whichever sound note it wants to, asserts the text.[31][5] This focus on sound notes help the yogi destroy distractions from other senses and fluctuations of his mind, just like a bee focussed on honey does not care about the odour that surrounds it.[24][5] Such a yogi does not care about fame or disgrace from others, he does not feel heat or cold, neither joy nor sorrow, he is lost within, in his self, in Brahman-Pranava (Om).[5][32]

The goal of Yoga, asserts the text, is to realize the transcendent Atman, its existence in everyone, and its oneness with Brahman through meditation and absorption into Nada (sound Om).[33][34][35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Deussen 1997, p. 683.
  2. ^ a b Flood 1996, p. 96.
  3. ^ Deussen 1997, p. 567.
  4. ^ a b c d Deussen 1997, pp. 683–686.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Hattangadi 1999.
  6. ^ Deussen 1997, pp. 557, 683.
  7. ^ a b Aiyar 1914, p. ix.
  8. ^ a b c Mircea Eliade (1970), Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691017646, pages 128–129
  9. ^ Ayyangar 1938, p. vii.
  10. ^ Hersey 2013, p. 155.
  11. ^ Deussen 1997, pp. 567–568.
  12. ^ a b Ayyangar 1938, p. 172.
  13. ^ a b Hersey 2013, p. 31.
  14. ^ Beck 1995, p. 93.
  15. ^ Georg Feuerstein (1990), Encyclopedia Dictionary of Yoga, Shambala, ISBN 978-1557782458, page 418
  16. ^ Burley 2000, pp. 31–32.
  17. ^ Vedic Literature, Volume 1, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts, p. PA429, at Google Books, Government of Tamil Nadu, Madras, India, page 429
  18. ^ Deussen 1997, pp. 556–557.
  19. ^ Deussen 1997, p. 561.
  20. ^ Deussen 1997, p. 562.
  21. ^ Deussen 1997, pp. 558–59.
  22. ^ Deussen 1997, p. 689.
  23. ^ Deussen 2010, p. 26.
  24. ^ a b c Ayyangar 1938, pp. 172–180.
  25. ^ a b Larson & Bhattacharya 2008, pp. 604–605.
  26. ^ a b c d Aiyar 1914, p. 255 with footnote 1.
  27. ^ Aiyar 1914, p. 256.
  28. ^ Mahadevan 1975, p. 194.
  29. ^ Aiyar 1914, pp. 256–257.
  30. ^ Aiyar 1914, p. 257.
  31. ^ Aiyar 1914, pp. 257–258.
  32. ^ Aiyar 1914, p. 259.
  33. ^ Ayyangar 1938, pp. 179–180.
  34. ^ Beck 1995, pp. 93–94.
  35. ^ Ellen Goldberg (2002), The Lord Who Is Half Woman: Ardhanarisvara in Indian and Feminist Perspective, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791453261, pages 84–87


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