Definition - What does Upanshu mean?

Upanshu is a practice that involves quietly repeating a mantra or a deity's name. It is one of three types of japa, a Sanskrit word that means “muttering.” Upanshu is also a Sanskrit word and means “in a low voice” or “in a whisper.” In upanshu japa, the mantra is murmured so softly that only the yogi him/herself can hear it or distinguish what is being repeated.

Upanshu, in particular, and japa, in general, are practiced to focus the mind spiritually and lead to a deeper state of consciousness. Such practice is an essential aspect of many yoga practices. Japa yoga is a practice that specifically combines yoga with japa as a means to remove mental impurities.

Yogapedia explains Upanshu

The other two types of japa are:

  • Baikhari, or vachika, which is chanting of a mantra aloud. This type of japa is the most common and is suitable for beginners as well as experienced yogis.
  • Manasik, which is the silent chanting of a mantra only in the mind. It is also known as mental japa and is the most advanced form of japa.

Upanshu is an intermediary stage between the more basic baikhari/vachika and manasik japa. The yogi should practice upanshu only after mastering baikhari/vachika japa. The audible japa calms the mind, while upanshu further stills the mind to allow the level of concentration necessary to reach deeper levels. Upanshu is also appropriate when chanting aloud is not, as when other people are around or in an otherwise public area.

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