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Paramahamsa Upanishad

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Title: Paramahamsa Upanishad  
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Paramahamsa Upanishad

Brahma on his mount the swan
Devanagari परमहम्स
Meaning of name Paramahamsa Yogi, the “illumined one"
Stated authors Brahma and Narada
Type of Upanishad Sannyasa
Associated Veda Atharvaveda
Number of chapters 1
Number of verses 4

Paramahamsa Upanishad (Sanskrit: परमहम्स उपनिस्हद्), is one of the 108 Upanishadic Hindu scriptures, written in Sanskrit and is one of the 31 Upanishads under the Atharvaveda.[1] It is classified as one the 17 Samanya Upanishads.[2] In this Upanishad Brahma, the creator is the teacher and his disciple is Narada, the Devarisihi. Their conversation is centered around the characteristics of Paramahamsa Yogi. It is said that Hamsa, the heavenly swan, has the special skill to separate water from milk. The word 'parama' denotes the extraordinary level of character to discriminate dispassionately. In the ultimate analysis, he is described as a jivan mukta, a liberated soul while alive, and videha mukta while his body is dead.[3]


The Upanishad, in its opening and concluding hymns, emphasizes the primacy of infiniteness of the Brahman and the Universe, with the farmer representing the most infinite. The Upanishad’s theme is presented in four hymns as an explanation by Lord Brahma to Narada’s query on the aspect of the path of the Paramahamsa Yogis.[4]

Hamsa or divine swan, which is used to highlight the supremacy of the Paramahamsa Yogi, meaning the "illumined one", metaphorically represents the quality of the swan to separate milk from water.[4]

Brahma explains that attaining the stage of Paramahamsa Yogi is an arduous task and such yogi’s are a rarity. The yogi represents the spirit of the Brahman defined in the Vedas. He is a renouncer of all his family ties, who has dispensed with his head tuft (shika), the sacred thread, all wordly actions, wears only a loin cloth and carries a walking staff, needs the bare minimum to exist and has devoted himself to the learning of Vedas.[4]

Paramahamsa Yogi is beyond feeling the vicissitudes of weather, nor is he affected by misery or happiness nor contempt; six "billows" of the world are beyond him. He is neither opinionated or affected by defamation, or is jealous, not a show off, is humble, and is oblivious to all the human frailties. He is immune to the existence of his body, which he treats as a corpse. He is beyond false pretensions and lives realizing the Omnipotent Brahman. His tuft represents his knowledge, his sacred thread denotes his perceptions and he becomes aware of suffusion of the Jivatman (the immortal essence) with the Paramatman (the Supreme Soul).[4]

The Upanished states that carrying the staff of knowledge gives him the epithet "Ekadandi", as he is a renouncer of all pleasures of the world; but a person who carries a staff simply as a piece of wood goes through the stages of Maharaurav meaning "several hells", prone to worldly comforts and without any knowledge. By understanding the difference, one becomes a paramahamsa.[4]

Where Paramahamsa lives his entirety, he does not offer oblations to god, nor he pays obeisance to any one. There is no beginning and no end, no invocations or meditation and worship for him. He is unaware of duality or unity. He does not accept any valuable gifts and riches as such acts would result in his degrading himself from the stage of a sanyasi. He neither feels sorrow or is disturbed by human failings and is totally detached from good or evil deeds and is ultimately a realizer of Atman, the Brahman.[4]


  1. ^ Prasoon 2008, p. 82.
  2. ^ Tinoco 1997, p. 87.
  3. ^ Prasad 2003, p. 103-04.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Madhavananda, Swami. "Paramahamsa Upanishad". Vedanta Spiritual Library - Spiritual Devotional Religious Sanatana Dharama. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 


  • Prasad, Ramanuj (1 January 2003). Know the Upanishads. V&S Publishers.  
  • Prasoon, Prof.S.K. (1 January 2008). Indian Scriptures. Pustak Mahal.  
  • Tinoco, Carlos Alberto (1997). Upanishads. IBRASA.  
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