Hatha Yoga Pradipika 17 – The Duration of Sun-Moon Practice

Continuing from chapter one, “The Greatness of Continued Practice.”

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 Term (Duration) of Purifying Action Yoga (vs 69)

Sinh edition:
Asanas (postures), various kumbhakas, and other divine means, all should be practiced in the practice of Hatha Yoga, ’till the fruit—Raja Yoga—is obtained.

Akers edition:
Practice Hatha’s asanas, various kumbhakas, and excellent karanas until the fruit of Raja Yoga is won.

Kripalu edition:
Various postures, different holds [locks], energy seals and other unworldly methods: all these systematic practices of sun-moon yoga should be continued until the fruit consisting of royal yoga is attained.

Kripalu Commentary on The Term (Duration) of Purification Action [Kriya] Yoga

Sun-moon yoga is the tree, and royal yoga is its fruit. The liberation-seeking aspirant does the continued practice of sun-moon yoga only for attaining liberation. By means of it, the mastery of the organs is accomplished. Through it, the vital air is brought under control, so that the stabilization of the mental faculty is facilitated. The stabilization of the mental faculty is called royal yoga. In it, Divine Power, rising up from the root-base energy center, becomes of one form with Kind Dissolver in the thousand-spoked energy center. Until the aspirant attains the fruit consisting of royal yoga, his effort is not completely fruitful; this needs to be borne in mind.

What’s the big deal about Raja Yoga? The big deal begins with samadhi and ends with liberation and the ever new joy of union with the Divine. But how does all this start? Where does one begin?

Things begin when one finds a teacher, a guru, who knows Hatha and Raja Yoga. Many people try to practice yoga on their own, and many make good progress, but until one becomes dedicated to a teacher and a path, progress is slow by comparison. So let’s examine an example of how this process might look:  

Joe Blow, who has been managing his yoga practice on his own, finally decides to shop around for a good teacher. Once having found one, he asks for shaktipat diksha. Permission granted.

Joe Blow has shaktipat and the next thing he knows he’s back at first base, listening to teachings on yama and niyama. Joe has never heard of these teachings before (which is why he’s learning about them now), but being a clever fellow, he realizes that he is actually in yoga kindergarten and determines that he must master these yamas and niyamas if he’s going to get on with things. This frustrates him to no end. Joe feels that with all his past experience and all those kriyas that were happening in his meditation before he even met his teacher (which, by the way, he did without anyone’s help, thank you very much!) that he should be getting on with something more advanced!

But Joe is dead serious about his trek in the land of enlightenment, and sticks with it anyway. His teacher has him doing two consecutive hours a day of the practice he learned at his initiation, and which he likes very much. But where’s the action? Where are the goodies? Even the old kriyas begin to elude him. At least with those, he felt like he was getting somewhere. (He doesn’t realize it yet, but he was.) 

Still, Joe is a serious guy and stays with the practice regardless of his frustration, confusion and niggling doubts, and decides to read some scripture to see if that will help. He picks up a copy of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika only to discover that it’s all gibberish—or so he hopes, because if what he suspects as a result of reading this gibberish is true, he hasn’t even begun Hatha Yoga yet! (He hasn’t.)

Joe sticks with the program. After a few months, some interesting things start to happen in his meditation. Now he’s inspired and excited. But the next thing he knows, he’s downright scared. He finally tells his teacher about the scary stuff (he’s been a little embarrassed about this, you see), and his teacher suggests he read the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, skip the commentaries, and pay attention to what Arjuna is going through to see if he feels that there is any correlation to his own situation. More gibberish and still scared. Teacher says, “Go ahead anyway” (with the practice, that is).

At this point, Joe has gotten a lot of personal garbage out of the way, but, being in unfamiliar territory, he’s not yet at a point where he can see this. Then one day (SURPRISE!) Hatha Yoga begins on its own and, with the guidance of his teacher, he begins to catch on. It was this and all the earlier work that seemed so unrelated to the present practice, and paying attention to the yamas and niyamas and using them (he was pretty good at some of them already; he’ll work on the others), that got him here. 

All in all, Joe got to Hatha Yoga fairly soon after his initiation. Only about six months to a year…or so. Now he will spend some years with Hatha Yoga (if he doesn’t balk at the next hurdle or two) and eventually find himself in completely new territory all over again: Raja Yoga.

Jaya Bhagavan,
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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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. 

__________ ♦ ♦ ♦ __________

Love,
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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.

Love,
Durga Ma
durgama.com