About the Author:
Dr. G.P. Bhatt, M.A. Ph.D. has specialized in the epistemology of the school of the great Mimamsaka Kumarila Bhatta and is the author of The Basic Ways of Knowing, a revised edition of the much earlier published Epistemology of the Bhatta School of Purva Mimamsa on the subject. He is currently Academic Consultant to the Publishing House of Motilal Banarsidass.
From the Jacket:
This book, which is the collection of three principal sources on the Hathayoga, namely the Hathayoga Pradipika, the Gheranda Samhita and the Siva Samhita, written in the medieval period, is rather the reproduction of the three Sanskrit texts and their revised English translations, originally published by Panini office, Allahabad (1914-15).
The Hathayoga or 'Forceful Yoga', which was particularly popularized by Gorakhanatha, a noted thirteenth century yogi, still has many followers in Indian and abroad. The most distinctive element of the Hathayoga is its theory, that the prescribed purifications of the body and physical exercises and practices related with the cakras, nadis, kundalini and so on, eventually, lead to the samadhi or supreme concentration of the mind. Further more, the practitioner may develop supernormal powers to realize the summum bonum of life. This collection of the three texts makes a brilliant exposition of the above theory to compensate the loss of the Gorakhanatha's original text on the Hathayoga.
We herewith offer a combined edition of three most popular Sanskrit texts (Romanized) with English translation, on Hathyoga, of the post-classical, that is, Post-Patanjali period, namely, Hatha yoga-Pradipika or Hatha-Pradipika, Gheranda-Samhita and Siva-Samhita of 14th-18th centuries C.E., being a completely revised and edited version of the editions of the three works published by the Panini Office, Allahabad long ago in 1914-15.
Out of the three, Hathayoga-Pradipika is the best known manual. The text gives the name of the author as Svatmarama Yogin. Georg Feuerstein, an eminent contemporary authority and propounder of Yoga assigns fourteenth century C.E. as the date of the work. It contains (in the present version) a total of 383 slokas divided into four Upadesas (instructions or lessons) including 69 of the first, 78 of the second, 123 of the third and 113 of the fourth lesson. The first lesson discusses mainly the Yogic Postures (Asanas), the second Pranayama, the third Mudra and the fourth Samadhi, the final goal of Yoga-sadhana. Incidentally the proper environment for the practice of Yoga, the exercises for the purification of the Nadis (satkarmani), certain moral requirements as preliminaries and the line of teachers of the system are also discussed. The work appears to be a compilation of passages from prior works, notably those attributed to Goraksanatha, rather than an original work.
The second, Gheranda-Samhita-is a work of 351 Slokas (in the present version) divided into Seven Upadesas or lessons each dealing with the stage of the seven-stage system of Hathayoga comprising: (1) six purificatory acts, (2) postures, (3) Mudras, (4) Pratyahara or withdrawal of senses, (5) Pranayama, (6) Dhyana or meditation and (7) Samadhi. The date assigned to the work by Feuerstein is late seventeenth century, being later then Hathayoga-Pradipika from which several slokas have been borrowed. The work is in the form of a dialogue between a teacher, Gheranda, and a disciple, Candakapali.
The third text, Sivasamhita or the collection of the teachings of god Siva, contains (in the version included here) 517 Slokas (96+54+97+58+212) in five chapters called Patalas. It contains Advaita ideas and Tantrika material also and is supposed to have been compiled in late seventeenth or early eighteenth century C.E. The first chapter exhorts one to realize the unity of the individual with the universal soul and realize the true nature of reality by piercing the veil of Maya. The second chapter discusses the human subtle bodily matrix. The third one deals with Asana and Pranayama. The fourth one is concerned with Mudra. The last chapter, which is the largest, includes discussion of six major Cakras and four varieties of Yogas viz. Mantra, Hatha, Laya and Raja Yoga.
Now Hathayoga being a variety of Yoga, it is natural for one to ask how it differs from other varieties, especially from Rajayoga, and still more to know what Yoga is and what its origin is. In view of the wise popularity and currency that Yoga has gained internationally today we can proudly say that Yoga is a unique contribution of India in the field of spirituality and is on a par with other Indic contributions like zero in mathematics. Yoga has its origin far back in the pre-historic times, as recent archaeological evidence has shown. It was quite in vogue in the ancient Indus-Sarasvati Culture formerly designated as Indus Valley Civilization going back to 3000 B.C.E. It aimed at transcending the human condition. In the words of Georg Feuerstein, "Yoga is indeed the technology of ecstatic transcendence."
The word Rajayoga is a late coinage used for Patanjali's Classical Yoga System of eight limbs in 16th century C.E. Several explanations are possible, e.g., that it was practiced by king like the 10th century King Bhoja or as referring to the transcendental self which is the ruler or King of the body-mind complex or which in 'luminous' or 'resplendent' (rajate) or that it refers to the Lord or God recognized by Patanjali as a special Self in contrast to the Samkhya system of Kapila with which Patanjali's system has a special affinity.
As contrasted with Rajayoga which has Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi as the eight limbs, Hathayoga as seven limbs, viz, Satkarmani or six purificatory exercises, e.g., Neti, Dhauti etc., Asana, Mudra and Bandha, Pratyahara, Pranayama, Dhyana and Samadhi.
Hathayoga or "forceful yoga" is a post-classical or medieval development of Yoga under the influence of Tantra and Nathism involving belief in practices relating to mystic entities like subtle body, Cakras, Nadis, Kundalini, etc. and aiming at Siddhis or paranormal powers. While ignoring the moral requirements implied by the practice of Yama, Niyama etc., Hathayoga involves a shift of focus from spirit to body, to mastery over the physical nature. The body had traditionally been despised as an inflated bladder of skin full of filth like urine, faeces, pus, blood, bones, marrow etc. Hathayoga rejecting this model which was more a strategy to wean people, especially spiritual seekers, from materialistic inclinations than a statement of truth, aims to transmute the body into a "divine body", or "adamantine body" which would guarantee "immortality in the manifest realms." As Feuerstein states, "The psycho-spiritual technology of Hathayoga is particularly focused on developing the body's potential so that the body can withstand the onslaught of transcendental realization."
For a fuller and excellent treatment of the subject the reader is advised to read profitably:
1. Georg Feuerstein, The Yoga Tradition, Hohm Press Prescot, Arizona 86302.
2. Mikel Burley, Hatha Yoga, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi.
No. 1 is the most authoritative and exhaustive work that has appeared in print so far on the complete subject of Yoga and is a must. No. 2 has a limited scope as it treats of Hathayoga only, yet its quality is excellent.
There exists at present a good deal of misconception with regard to the practices of the Hatha Yoga. People easily believe in the stories told by those who themselves heard them second-hand, and no attempt is made to find out the truth by a direct reference to some good treatise. It is generally believed that the six practices, (Satkarma) in Hatha Yoga are compulsory for the student and that besides being dirty, they are fraught with danger to the practitioner. This is not true, for these practices are necessary only in case there exist impurities in the Nadis, and not otherwise.
There is also a lot of misunderstanding with regard to Pranayama. People put their faith implicitly in the stories told about the dangers attending the practice without ever taking the trouble of ascertaining the facts themselves. We have been breathing in and breathing out air since our birth, and will continue to do so till death; and this is done without the help of any teacher. Pranayama is nothing but a properly regulated form of the otherwise irregular and hurried flow of air, without using much force or undue restraint; and if this is accomplished by patiently keeping the flow slow and steady, there can be no danger. It is the impatience for the Siddhis which causes undue pressure on the organs and thereby causes pain in the ears, eyes, chest, etc. if the three Bandhas be carefully performed while practicing Pranayama, there is no possibility of any risk
There are two classes of students of Yoga: (1) those who study it theoretically; (2) those who combine the theory with practice.
Yoga is of very little use, if studied theoretically. It was never meant for such a study. In its practical form, however, the path of the student is best with difficulties. The books on Yoga give instructions so far as it is possible to express the methods in word, but all persons, not being careful enough to follow these instructions to the very letter, fail in their object. Such persons require a teacher versed in the practice of Yoga. It is easy to find a teacher who will explain the language of the books, but this is far from satisfactory. For instance, a Pandita without any knowledge of the science of Materia Medica will explain kantakarih as kantakasya arih or an enemy of thorns, i.e., shoes, while it is in reality the name of a medicinal plant.
The importance of a practical Yogi as a guide to a student of Yoga cannot be overestimated; and without such a teacher it is next to impossible for him to achieve anything. The methods followed by the founders of the system and followed ever afterwards by their followers, have been wisely and advisedly kept secret; and this is not without a deep meaning. Looking to the gravity of the subject and the practices which have a very close relation with the vital organs of the human body, it is of paramount importance that the instructions should be received by students of ordinary capacity through a practical teacher only, in order to avoid any possibility of mistake in practice. Speaking broadly, all men are not equally fitted to receive the instructions on equal terms. Man inherits at birth his mental and physical capacities, according to his actions in past births, and has to develop them by practice, but there are, even among such, different grades. Hence, one cannot become a Yogi in one birth, as says Sri Krsna.
There are men who, impelled by the force of their actions of previous births, go headlong and accomplish their liberation in a single attempt; but others have to earn it in their successive births. If the student belongs to one of such souls and begin earnest, desires from his heart to get rid of the pains of birth and death, he will find the means too. It is well-known that a true Yogi is above temptations and so to think that he keeps his knowledge secret for selling it to the highest bidder is simply absurd. Yoga is meant for the good of all creatures, and a true Yogi is always desirous of benefiting as many men as possible. But he is not to throw away this precious treasure indiscriminately. He carefully chooses its recipients, and when he finds a true and earnest student who will not trifle with this knowledge, he never hesitates in placing his valuable treasure at the disposal of the man. What is essential in him is that he should have a real thirst for such knowledge-a thirst which will make him restless till satisfied, the thirst that will make him blind to the world and its enjoyments. He should be, in short, fired with Mumuksutva or desire for emancipation. To such a one there is nothing dearer than the accomplishment of this object. A true lover will risk his very life to gain union with his beloved like Tulasidasa. A true lover will see everywhere, in every direction, in every tree and leaf, in every blade of grass his own beloved. The whole of the world, with all its beauties, is a dreary waste in his eyes, without his beloved. And he will court death, fall into the mouth of a gaping grave, for the sake of his beloved. The student whose heart burns with such intense desire for union with Paramatma, is sure to find a teacher, and through him he will surely find Him. It is a tried experience that Paramatma will try to meet you halfway, with the degree of intensity with which you go to meet him. Even He Himself will become your guide, direct you on to the road to success, or put you on the track to find a teacher, or lead him to you.
Well has it been said:
It is the half-hearted who fail. They hold their worldly pleasures dearer to their hearts than their God, and therefore He in His turn does not consider them worthy of His favours. Says Mundaka Upanisad (III.2.3).
The Atma will choose you as its abode only if it considers you worthy of such a favour, and not otherwise. It is therefore necessary that one should first make oneself worthy of His acceptance. Having prepared the temple (your heart) well fitted for His installation there, having cleared it of all the impurities which stink and make the place unsuitable for the highest personage to live in, and having decorated it beautifully with objects as befit that Lord of the creation, you need not wait long for Him to adorn this temple of yours which you have taken pains to make worthy of Him. If you have done all this, He will shine in you in all His glory. In your difficult moments, when you are embarrassed, sit in a contemplative mood, and approach your Parama Guru submissively and refer your difficulties to Him, you are sure to get the proper advice from Him. He is the Guru of the ancients, for He is not limited by Time. He instructed the ancients in bygone times, like a Guru, and if you have been unable to find a teacher in human form, enter your inner temple and consult this Great Guru who accompanies you everywhere, and ask Him to show you the way. He knows best what is best for you. Unlike mortal beings, He is beyond the past and the future, will either send one of His agents to guide you or lead you to one and put you on the right track. He is always anxious to teach earnest seekers, and waits for you to offer Him an opportunity to do so. But if you have not done your duty and prepared yourself as worthy of entering His door, and try to gain access to His presence, laden with your unclean burden, stinking with Kama, Krodha, Lobha, and Moha, be sure He will keep you off from Him.
The Asanas are a means of gaining steadiness of position and help to gain success in contemplation, without any distraction of the mind. If the position be not comfortable, the slightest inconvenience will draw the mind away from the laksya (aim), and so no peace of mind will be possible till the posture has ceased to cause pain by regular practice.
Of all the various methods for concentrating the mind, repetition of Pranava or Ajapa japa and contemplation on its meaning is the best. It is impossible for the mind to remain idle even for a single moment, and, therefore, in order to keep it well occupied and to keep other antagonistic thoughts from entering it, repetition of Pranava should be practiced. It should be repeated till Yoga Nidra is induced which, when experienced, should be encouraged by slackening all the muscles of the body. This will fill the mind with sacred and divine thoughts and will bring about its one-pointedness without much effort.
Anahata Nada is awakened by the exercise of Pranayama. A couple of weeks' practice with 80 Pranayamas in the morning and the same number in the evening will cause distinct sounds to be heard; and, as the practice will go on increasing, varied sounds become audible to the practitioner. By hearing these sounds attentively one gets concentration of the mind and there Sahaja Samadhi. When yoga sleep is experienced the student should give himself up to it and make no effort to check it. By and by these sounds become subtle and they become less and less intense, so the mind loses its waywardness and becomes calm and docile; and, on this practice becoming well-established, Samadhi becomes a voluntary act. This is, however, the highest stage and is the lot of the favoured and fortunate few only.
During contemplation one sees, not with his eyes as he does the objects of the world, various colours, which the writers on Yoga call the colours of the five elements. Sometimes stars are seen glittering, and lightning flashes in the sky. But these are all fleeting in their nature.
At first these colours are seen in greatly agitated waves which show the unsteady condition of the mind; and as the practice increases and the mind becomes calm, these colour-waves become steady and motionless and appear as one deep ocean of light. This is the ocean in which one should dive and forget the world and become one with his Lord-which is the condition of highest bliss.
Faith in the practice of Yoga, and in one's own powers to accomplish what others have done before, is of great importance to insure speedy success. I mean "faith that will move mountains," will accomplish anything, be it howsoever difficult. There is nothing which cannot be accomplished by practice. Says Siva in Siva-Samhita (IV. 9-11).
Through practice success is obtained; through practice one gains liberation. Perfect consciousness is gained through practice; Yoga is attained through practice; success in Mudras comes by practice. Through practice is gained success in Pranayama. Death can be evaded through practice, and manbecomes the conqueror of death by practice. And then let us gird up our loins, and with a firm resolution engage in the practice, having faith in karmanyevadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana, and the success must be ours. May the Almighty Father be pleased to shower His blessings on those who thus engage in the performance of their duties.
Faith in the practice of Yoga, and in one's own powers to accomplish what others have done before, is of great importance to insure speedy success. I mean "faith that will move mountains," will accomplish anything, be it howsoever difficult. There is nothing which cannot be accomplished by practice. Says Siva in Siva-Samhita (IV 9-11);
Through practice success is obtained; through practice one gains liberation. Perfect consciousness is gained through practice; Yoga is attained through practice; success in Mudras comes by practice. Through practice is gained success in Pranayama. Death can be evaded through practice, and man becomes the conqueror of death by practice. And then let us gird up our loins, and with a firm resolution engage in the practice, having faith in karmanyevadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana, and the success must be ours. May the Almighty Father be pleased to shower His blessings on those who thus engage in the performance of their duties.
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