The Nirvana Upanishad is one of the ancient texts of Hinduism that belongs to the category of Sannyasa Upanishads. These are the texts that deal with the topic of renunciation, or the state of giving up worldly attachments and seeking spiritual liberation. The Nirvana Upanishad is a short text, consisting of only 82 sutras or aphorisms, that describe the characteristics and qualities of a sannyasi, or a renunciant. The text is also known as Nirvanopanishad in some manuscripts, and it is attached to the Rig Veda, one of the four Vedas that are considered the most authoritative scriptures in Hinduism.

What is Nirvana?

The word nirvana means “extinction” or “blowing out” in Sanskrit. It refers to the state of liberation from the cycle of birth and death, or samsara, which is caused by ignorance and desire. In Hinduism, nirvana is also called moksha, which means “release” or “emancipation”. Nirvana is the ultimate goal of all spiritual seekers, who aspire to attain self-knowledge and realize their true nature as Brahman, or the supreme reality. Nirvana is not a place or a condition, but a state of consciousness that transcends all dualities and limitations.

How to Achieve Nirvana?

The Nirvana Upanishad does not prescribe any specific method or practice to achieve nirvana. Rather, it describes the qualities and attributes of a sannyasi, who has already renounced the world and dedicated his life to the pursuit of self-knowledge. The text implies that renunciation is not merely an external act of giving up possessions and relationships, but an internal attitude of detachment and dispassion. The sannyasi is not bound by any doctrine or dogma but follows his own intuition and experience. He is not interested in rituals or ceremonies but in the essence of the Vedas, which is Vedanta, or the end of knowledge. He is not attached to any form or name but sees everything as a manifestation of Brahman.

What are the Characteristics of a Sannyasi?

The Nirvana Upanishad uses various metaphors and allegories to describe the characteristics of a sannyasi. Some of them are:

  • The sky is his belief: This means that he has a universal outlook and does not confine himself to any sectarian view. He also has a clear and expansive awareness that encompasses everything without distinction.
  • His knowledge is of the absolute: This means that he has realized his identity with Brahman, which is the absolute reality beyond all names and forms. He does not depend on any external source of knowledge but relies on his own direct experience.
  • Union is his initiation: This means that he has attained union with Brahman, which is his true nature. He does not need any formal initiation or ceremony to become a sannyasi, but his own realization is enough.
  • Compassion alone is his pastime: This means that he has a compassionate attitude towards all beings, as he sees them as his own self. He does not engage in any worldly activities for pleasure or profit, but only for the welfare of others.
  • Bliss is his garland: This means that he enjoys an unbroken state of bliss, which is his natural state. He does not seek happiness from external objects or situations but finds it within himself.
  • The cave of solitude is his fellowship: This means that he prefers solitude over the company, as he finds peace and joy in his own self. He does not depend on anyone for support or companionship but is self-sufficient.
  • His teaching: Hamsa abides in the heart of every being: This means that he teaches that Hamsa, which means “I am He”, or “I am Brahman”, abides in the heart of every being. He does not teach any doctrine or dogma but only points to the innermost essence of every being.
What are the Benefits of Nirvana?

The Nirvana Upanishad states that nirvana is the highest bliss and the ultimate goal of human life. By attaining nirvana, one becomes free from all bondage and suffering caused by ignorance and desire. One also becomes free from all fear and anxiety caused by death and rebirth. One realizes one’s true nature as Brahman, which is eternal, pure, conscious, and blissful. One also realizes the unity of all existence and sees everything as one’s own self. One becomes a source of peace and joy for oneself and others.


The Nirvana Upanishad is a text that reveals the nature and means of liberation in Hinduism. It describes the qualities and attributes of a sannyasi, who has renounced the world and attained self-knowledge. It also describes the state of nirvana, which is the ultimate bliss and the supreme reality. The text is a valuable guide for anyone who wishes to follow the path of renunciation and seek spiritual liberation.

Works Cited:
(1) Nirvana Upanishad – Wikipedia.
(2) Nirvana Upanishad – Vyasa Mahabharata.