Upadhi (उपाधिः)

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उपाधिः ॥ Upadhi means attributes or adjuncts associated with the carnal body. The Puranic Encyclopedia gives a detailed account of Upadhis according to छान्दोग्य-उपनिषद् ॥Chandogya-Upanishad, श्वेताश्वतरोपनिषद् ॥ Shvetasvara Upanishad, भगवद्गीता ॥ Bhagavadgita and भागवतम् ॥ Bhagavatam[1]. By Upadhis are meant the following four things.

  1. Mind and senses
  2. The Five Pranas namely प्राणः ॥ Prana, अपानः ॥ Apana, उदानः ॥ Udana, व्यानः ॥ Vyana, समानः ॥ Samana
  3. The सूक्ष्मशरीरः ॥ Sukshmasharira (subtle body) is the invisible body not associated with the gross elements.
  4. कर्म ॥ Karma (action)

Life is sustained by the life breath called Udana that guides the soul out of the body. Sukshmasharira gives heat to the body while there is life and that is the reason why when the soul leaves the body with the upadhis, the mortal body becomes cold.

मृत्युः ॥ Mrityu (Death) of the mortal body is when the जीवात्मन् ॥ Jivatma (soul) of an individual leaves the gross body with all its above 4 upadhis. All these four things follow the soul even after the death of the body. After leaving the body with the upadhis, the soul becomes active again and its ascent to higher realms depends on the Karma or actions while present in the body (during life). The adhyatmik actions of the individual are classified as,

  • अपरब्रह्मोपासना ॥ Aparabrahmopasana : He who has done all his deeds according to scriptural injunctions is said to be one who has done उपासना ॥ upasana of अपरब्रह्मन् ॥ aparabrahma. When such an individual dies, his soul with all the upadhis attains चन्द्रलोकः ॥ Chandraloka and by the path of पितृयानम् ॥ Pitruyana.
  • अपरविद्योपासना ॥ Aparavidyopasana : Some who meditate on ब्रह्मन् ॥ Brahman with less importance to the performance of religious rites, traverse through the path of देवयानम् ॥ Devayana to attain the परब्रह्मन् ॥ Parabrahma. They do not come back to earth and have no rebirth.
  • पापोपासना ॥ Papopasana : The Jivatma of one who does not follow the शास्त्राणि ॥ shastras and their injunctions does not attain Chandraloka. They are born as pests and insects attaining a place called Trteeya. There is no evidence in the पुराणानि ॥ Puranas of their attaining मोक्षः ॥ moksha.

Moksha is the liberation of Jivatma (soul) from the Upadhis.


  1. Puranic Encyclopedia (Pages 613 and 614)