Hatha Yoga Pradipika 15 – Suitable Food

Now that you have had a sampling of chapter one on Asana, I will skip to the last few verses of that chapter.

This installment answers a question I am often asked: “Is there a specific diet I should adhere to?” Some of what you read will probably come as a surprise.

The first translation is from the Pancham Sinh edition
The second translation is from the Akers edition from yogavidya.com
The third edition is from Swami Kripalu‘s Revealing the Secret, and is followed by his commentary.

Things in (parentheses) are from the edition concerned.
My own input amidst verses is in [brackets] and in color when commenting.

Suitable Food (vs 64-65)

Sinh edition:
Wheat, rice, barley, shastik (a kid of rice), good corns, milk, ghee, sugar, butter, sugarcandy, honey, dried ginger, Parwal (a vegetable) the five vegetables, moong, pure water, these are very beneficial to those who practice Yoga. A Yogi should eat tonics (things giving strength), well sweetened, greasy (made with ghee), milk, butter, etc., which may increase humors of the body, according to his desire.

Akers edition:
These are wholesome for the best yogis: wheat, rice, barley, shashtika rice, auspicious food, milk, ghee, sugar, butter, sugar candy, honey, dry ginger, cucumbers, etc., the five potherbs, mung dahl, etc., and pure water. The yogi should eat food that is desirable, suitable, nutritious, pleasantly sweet, juicy, contains dairy products, and strengthens the bodily elements.

Kripalu edition:
Wheat, rice, barley, quick-growing rice, the best food, milk, clarified butter, unrefined cane sugar, fresh butter, sugar candy, honey (nectar), dry ginger, cucumber and other fruit, the five green leafy vegetables (potherbs, cooked greens) (those potherbs that are good for the eyes), and crystal clear water are suitable for kings among yogis. The yogi should ingest food that is nourishing, sweet, agreeable, combined with milk, supportive of the constituent essences of the body (chyle*, flesh, blood, bone, marrow, fat, and sexual fluid), wished for in the heart, and appropriate.

* Chyle – A milky fluid consisting of fat droplets and lymph. It drains from the lacteals of the small intestine into the lymphatic system during digestion.

Kripalu Commentary on Suitable Food 

There are three kinds of food: tranquil [sattvik]-powerful, passionate [rajasic], and dark [tamasic]. Tranquil-powerful food is the most appropriate for the yogi. In The Chandogya Upanishad it says, “From pure food comes purity of being; from purity of being comes a stable memory.” This is indeed true. But we ordinarily think of food (ingesta) as food and water only; this is incorrect. We forget that all the objects of sense perception of the (various) organs are encompassed by ‘food’! That is to say each organ has its own type of food. We think that only one tongue ingests food – the other organs fast; this is not so. Therefore, it also becomes unavoidable for the aspirant to take in tranquil-powerful visual phenomena (sights), tranquil-powerful sounds, tranquil-powerful odors, tranquil-powerful tactile phenomena, etcetera. Thus, when there comes to be tranquil-powerfulness in thought, speech, faith, feelings, conduct, etcetera, real tranquil-powerfulness is attained.

Tranquil Power

In Hatha Yoga Pradipika 10 – Asanain the section beginning, “There are many levels of yoga” we read about three qualities—lethargy, passion and tranquillity—in the context of the three main levels of yoga. Now we are to understand that one of these, “tranquil-power,” will guide what we put in front of our senses for them to ingest during the stages of Hatha Yoga. But what is “tranquil-power”?

Tranquil-power is how someone has translated the Sanskrit word, sattvas. Sattvas is the quality of something that is easy-going, smooth-flowing. It is also interpreted as clarity and goodness. So to get there, we are to take care about what we take in, i.e., our food, the company we keep, what our eyes behold, our ears hear, and so forth. During Hatha Yoga, our intake should be sattvic. The short list of foods in this verse are sattvic foods.

We go through Hatha Yoga in order to get to Raja Yoga.  At the highest level of yoga, as stated in Kripalu’s commentary in Hatha Yoga Pradipika 10 – Asanasattvas is predominant. But even this is going to change, get destroyed, and ultimately disappear altogether, along with the other gunas.

The Three Gunas (Qualities of Nature)

Guna: Property or characteristic of all created things.
Tamas: The quality of inertia.
Rajas: The quality of passion.
Sattvas: The quality of tranquillity.

________ ♦ ♦ ♦ ________

I discovered a very good resource in yogavidya.com and ordered all of their books. They carry the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Bhagavad Gita, Shiva Samhita and Gheranda Samhita, all of which are relevant to our practice, and are reasonably priced.  There is no commentary and the translations are sweet and simple.  Their books are so clearly printed that I can actually read the Devanagari without a microscope.  Please pay them a visit.

Durga Ma

2 thoughts on “Hatha Yoga Pradipika 15 – Suitable Food

  1. Pingback: Hatha Yoga Pradipika 18 — Things to Avoid | Mystical Tidbits

  2. Pingback: Hatha Yoga Pradipika 16 — The Greatness of Continued Practice | Mystical Tidbits

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s