Hatha Yoga Pradipika 16 — The Greatness of Continued Practice

Continuing from chapter one on Suitable Food

The first translation is from the Pancham Sinh edition
The second translation is from the Akers edition from yogavidya.com
The third translation 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.

The Greatness of Continued Practice (vs 66-68)

Sinh edition:
Whether young, old or too old, sick or lean, one who discards laziness, gets success if he practices Yoga. Success comes to him who is engaged in the practice. How can one get success without practice; for by merely reading books on Yoga, one can never get success. Success cannot be attained by adopting a particular dress (Vesha). It cannot be gained by telling tales. Practice alone is the means to success. This is true, there is no doubt.

Akers edition:
One succeeds in all Yogas through energetic practice—even if one is young, old, very old, sick, or weak. The practitioner will succeed; the nonpractitioner will not. Success in Yoga is not achieved by merely reading books. Success is achieved neither by wearing the right clothes nor by talking aout it. Practice alone brings success. This is the truth, without a doubt.

Kripalu edition:
Even a young, old, very old, ailing, or weak aspirant attains accomplishment if he performs the continued practice of the steps of yoga without slacking. The aspirant who has purifying action attains accomplishment; how could an individual who does not have purifying action attain accomplishment? The accomplishment of yoga is not achieved by merely studying scripture. Nor is wearing the clothing (of a yogi) or hearing tales from the yogic scriptures the way to accomplish yoga. Continually practiced yogic purifying action is the way to accomplish yoga; in this there is not the least doubt.

Kripalu Commentary on the Greatness of Continued Practice

Everyone has the same right to yoga, so each person can benefit from it to the degree that he is suited to it (which increases as yoga progresses). Of course, in yoga one must observe one main rule: to perform the continued practice of yoga without slacking. Without continued practice, even an ordinary task cannot be accomplished, so how can yoga be accomplished [without it]? By studying the scriptures, guidance is certainly received; but accomplishment is not received. By changing one’s dress or by hearing tales from yogic scriptures, there is certainly some ordinary benefit, but accomplishment is only attained through the continued practice of yoga.

Just because someone dresses like a yogi, calls himself a yogi, or can quote yogic scripture, does not mean that he is a yogi. A yogi is one who has attained yoga, union. The wearing of a uniform is irrelevant to the attainment of yoga

One has three sources of learning and guidance: the oral teachings of guru, scripture, and experience.  If you study scripture, this is good.  If guru lives nearby, this is good.  But experience can only be gained by you through repeated practice. All three are needed. Reading and listening are not enough.  What is read in scriptures and what is heard from one’s guru must be applied repeatedly in order to experience these teachings for yourself, and to quickly avail yourself of direct experience—perception without the aid of the senses or the mind. 

A teaching of my lineage is that one who studies and contemplates scripture progresses a thousand times faster than one who does not.  So Kripalu is not saying that this is not important, or that guru’s teachings are not important, but that it is only through your own experience of these teachings through repeated practice, that they all come together for you. This takes place two ways: (1) You receive teachings from guru and scripture. Through repeated practice you gain greater depth of understanding of these teachings, as well as your own experiences. (2) You have an experience. The teachings of scripture and guru provide understanding and validation of the experience, and give you some sense of where you are in the process of yoga.  By these two, you come to see where you’ve been and what is coming. 

__________ ♦ ♦ ♦ __________

Durga Ma

One thought on “Hatha Yoga Pradipika 16 — The Greatness of Continued Practice

  1. Pingback: Hatha Yoga Pradipika 17 – The Duration of Sun-Moon Practice | Mystical Tidbits

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