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Upasana In Hinduism – Intense Meditation

Upasana in Hinduism is intense meditation and it is meant for obtaining freedom from ignorance and delusion, and is regarded as one of the means of purging oneself of the sinful acts which might have been committed independently or otherwise. In a way, it represents a mental attitude (bhava) which takes the aspirant towards self realization.
Upasana is formed of the word ‘asana’ (sit) with the preposition ‘upa’ (near). The word, as a whole, signifies a spiritual act performed in prayerful proximity to God. It serves as a vehicle for an aspirant to climb up the spiritual ladder.

The more one thinks of God, the more God-like one can hope to become. Very similarly, the more one thinks of worldly objects, the worldlier one would become. Upasana is the union of the spiritual aspirant (upasaka) with the one meditated upon.

Upasana is either divine, courageous, or of lower nature.

Three Types Of Upasana

The three types of Upasana are sattvika (pious), rajasika (active) and tamasika (ignorant), depending upon the aspirant’s inclination towards renunciation, towards personal enjoyment and happiness, or to hurt others.

The first sattvika upasana goes by the name of swarupa upasana, in which a upasaka tries to elevate by practicing truthfulness, forgiveness, compassion and contentment. The aspirant has to get over all objects of temptation. Discrimination and renunciation are the watchwords here.

The second one is called sampad upasana, meant for persons not endowed with sufficient steadiness of mind but with a craving for the procurement of desirable and agreeable objects. Here, devotion is expected to supersede the cravings of the senses and the devotee meditates on the chosen deity unshaken by the jarring elements of the world in which the upasaka lives.

The third one pratika upasana, meant for worldly or householder upasakas. Herein there is superimposition of the attributes of God upon a thing, such as kalasha (pot), and it is worshipped, though there may not be any resemblance between the deity and the pratika (image). This is based the principle that the whole cosmos is Brahman and that any part of the whole is but a part of That and hence is worthy of worship.