The annals of world spiritual literature will long remain embellished by this truly unique and extraordinary book. Meticulously and methodically written during 1978-81, when the Author was pursuing secluded yoga sadhana, it speaks volumes for his stature and authority that he was in a position to traverse the territory covered in this work within barely a decade of his receiving yoga initiation. One such as this comes but once in ages, for this book attests to the fact that the author had clearly crossed yogic frontiers that it takes many lifetimes of arduous spiritual practice to attain. The roster of such yogis is small.
This is the work of one who knew kundalini in just the third sitting and had reached the domain of the khechari mudra in just the third month of his sadhana. For one who knows the khechari mudra there is not much left to be known of time past, present or future. So it should not come as a surprise that this book has so much that is both so rare and so vastly illuminating. It goes farther than any yoga text has gone since centuries and delineates the full vast canvas of this secret spiritual science with a familiarity born of experience-based personal knowledge. Time alone will help comprehend the awesome import of this document that after passage of much time the world is once again gifted with a perfected yogi.
Swami Rajarshi Muni was born on 11th February 1931 in Porbandar in western Gujarat in the lineage of the Jadeja rulers of the former Princely State of Kutch. He received sannyas initiation on 19th February 1971 when he thus permanently renounced the world for the exclusive pursuit of yoga sadhana. His daily practice spanned at least eight to ten hours. He also read and wrote extensively. The fourteen hundred page manuscript underlying this extraordinary book was penned during 1978-81. In 1993, in response to a spiritual calling, he temporarily gave up his self-imposed seclusion to undertake a worldwide campaign to spread the knowledge of yoga and the moral and cultural values of the sanatan Indian heritage. He founded the Lakulish International Fellowship's Enlightenment Mission and has been fully engaged since 1995 in the furtherance of its aims and Objects in addition to his sadhana. He will shortly resume secluded sadhana to complete his yoga and establish the authenticity of the principle of the indestructible Divine Body, expounded and practiced in the spiritual tradition in which he is the present spiritual head. He is an advanced yogi, a realized Master in the classic maid of Indian adepts, knower of the kundalini and master of the khechari mudra. The attainments of his spiritual practice, of which this book is irrefutable evidence, establish him firmly as the latest addition to the lineage of siddhas (adepts) which has long embellished the Indian spiritual tradition. He is presently engaged in converting the body into the exquisite Divine Body, the final goal of all yoga sadhana and the ultimate spiritual attainment.
I am happy to know that a book titled "Classical Hatha Yoga" has been written by Swami Rajarshi Muni, an eminent spiritual personality and a distinguished scholar in Yoga.
Yoga is the most valuable and precious offering of the Indian civilization to the world. It represents the finest elements of India's unique and priceless spiritual and philosophical heritage. As a science of life and an art of living, Yoga goes into the deepest profundities of existence and helps realise the true purpose of human life by exploring the world within one's own self. The quintessence of Yoga is its timelessness and its ever contemporary relevance to secure a healthier and happier human society. If today Yoga is alive and mankind is rediscovering its virtues, it is due to the sustained interest of scholars in Yoga and the practice of our Yogacharyas. The inherent strengths of Yoga need to be recognised across the globe. This book, I hope, will present to the world the true Yoga of India in the ancient tradition. The textual and the pictorial presentation of this book will, no doubt, provide an authentic source of information on varied aspects of Yoga to its followers and practitioners.
The human being consists of the body, the mind and the soul. He brings within his purview physical development, psychological unfoldment and spiritual realization. Generally the body is treated as a material reality, while the mind is considered as a non-material reality. Indian Vedic Philosophy conceives of the soul as the subtle and ultimate reality. The system of yoga has been brought into existence by the ancient sages of India in order to ensure proper functioning of the triple constituents of the human being, that is, body, mind and soul. The principal objective of Yoga is to make the individual understand and experience that the mind and the body are destructible entities whereas he himself is in reality the Soul, which is eternal and independent from the mind and the body.
The main constituents of yoga are Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga and Raja Yoga. Of these Hatha Yoga deals with the purification of the body, Laya Yoga deals with controlling thought and emotions, and Raja Yoga brings about the realization of the soul. All these three Yogas are not isolated from one another. Each one remains incomplete in the absence of the other two. However, it is true that in the initial stage of the spiritual practice, Hatha Yoga plays an important role, while in the intermediate stage Laya Yoga plays an important role. In the final stage, Raja Yoga plays an important role and that is why it is designated as the King of Yoga. In short, a yoga practitioner has to begin with Hatha Yoga and then, passing through the stage of Laya Yoga, he has to reach the stage of Raja Yoga. Keeping this in view, the author of Hatha Yoga Pradeepika has rightly said, "All the methods of Hatha Yoga are meant for gaining success in Raja Yoga." (4:102) He says further, "There is no success in Raja Yoga without Hatha Yoga and hence on e should practice both till complete success is gained." (2:76). Asan (posture) being the first accessory of Hatha Yoga, a yoga aspirant should begin with the practice of asans. That bestows health, lightness, suppleness and steadiness of the body. After being firmly established in asan, he should practice Pranayams (breath control) while also exercising moderation diet. That removes impurities from the channels of the gross as well as the subtle body. When these channels are purified the practitioner becomes lean, but free from disease. He masters celibacy, retains breath according to wish and listens to the subtle sound (anahat naad, unstruck sound) from within. This stage is the culmination of Hatha Yoga. After that the practice of Laya Yoga begins wherein the objects of the senses are forgotten and desires do not arise. In Hath Yoga Pradeepika it is said: "Mind is the master of the senses, Prana (vital air or breath) is the master of Mind and Laya is the master of Prana. That Laya is dependent on the Subtle Sound (naad)."
While listening to the inner Subtle Sound the mind becomes fully absorbed and the breathing is successfully stopped without involving inhalation or exhalation (that is known as keval kumbhak). At that time the practitioner reaches the culmination of Laya Yoga and enters the stage of Raja Yoga. A yogi engaged in Raja Yoga samadhi becomes free from all bondages and transcends all states such as waking, dreaming and sleeping. He becomes a liberated soul.
Some people wrongly translate the word 'Hatha Yoga' as 'a harsh method of self-discipline including the infliction of various tortures 0 one's body.' They advocate self-mortification through scourges. But this is not true. As a matter of fact, Hatha Yoga is a carefully designed discipline for physical culture which makes an aspirant's body a fit equipment for achieving spiritual prowess. For cleaning the body of its impurities the Hath Yoga discipline employs, apart from asan and Pranayam, other methods such as bandhs, (Locks), shat kriyas (six cleansing processes) and mudras (seals). It also leads to an occult phenomenon of kundalini awakening. This is a mystical experience establishing the aspirant's contact with the subtle. Thus it is only with the help of Hatha Yoga that the aspirant reaches the subtle body and the door to the higher yoga or Laya Yoga is opened.
After the kundalini is aroused, she moves upwards through the passage of the Sushumna Nadi (a central and important channel in the subtle body) and during its course passes through various chakras (psychic centers) and develops them, yielding higher mystical experiences and unalloyed spiritual bliss. These are the essentials of the Hatha Yoga discipline. This shows that Hatha Yoga is a very important discipline which must be followed by anyone who aspires to attain transcendental experience. Properly speaking, Hatha Yoga is a system of physical exercises for the cultivation of perfect health and the higher modes of experience. It is timeless and practical wisdom coming down to the people through the millenniums. India indeed is its homeland.
This book bears the title I Classical Hatha Yoga'. It describes the theoretical aspects of Haiha Yoga and also enumerates various important practices along with the correct techniques for doing them. The text contains the benefits derived from these practices and also their therapeutic as well as subtle spiritual effects. The book carries nearly eight hundred illustrations (color photographs) adding to the value of the treatise. I hope this work will be of immense importance to students as well as teachers of Yoga since it can ideally serve as a comprehensive manual of instructions.
May the almighty shower His blessings on those who engage themselves in learning and performing yoga.
My profound thanks and blessings go to the following persons:
N.B. Amin for prompting me to write such an exhaustive treatise and for arranging to take the color photographs during 1978-79 A.D. when color photography was yet a rarity in India.
A.H. Amin, for arranging and establishing a temporary studio in one of his vacant bungalows for carrying out the task of photography which lasted over a period of several months.
A.T. Jhala, for getting the enormous hand- written manuscript typed initially. S. Trinity, (U.5.A.), for taking the typed manuscript on computer and carefully editing the voluminous text and presenting it in a better format.
Kr. Fateh Singh Jasol and his wife Smt. Sit a Jasol for the final checking of the manuscript, meticulous proof reading, preparing the index and glossary and rendering the work ready for publication.
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