Hatha Yoga Pradipika 10 – Asana

Chapter One — Asana
Continuing from Hatha Yoga Pradipika — Restraints and Observances.

The first translation and the Titles are from Swami Kripalu’s, Revealing the Secret, a commentary on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika [HYP].

The second translation is from the Pancham Sinh edition.

Anything in (parentheses) is from the edition concerned.
As always, my own input amidst verses is in [brackets], in color when commenting.

The numbering of the verses is different in the two translations after verse 16 so I am not using numbers, only Kripalu’s titles.  If you are following these blogs on the HYP using other editions, in this blog we are taking up at 17 in the Kripalu translation, which is 19 in the Sinh translation.

In this entry, I am only giving one verse in order to include Kripalu’s entire commentary so that those of my initiates who are arriving at a turning point in their sadhana can derive useful information in Kripalu’s words.

Posture [Asana]

The first limb of the sun-moon teaching is posture (position, stance), so it is mentioned first. By means of its continued practice, the practitioner acquires stability, freedom from disease, and lightness of limbs.

Being the first accessory of Hatha Yoga, asana is described first.  It should be practiced for gaining steady posture, health and lightness of body.

Kripalu Commentary — Revealing the Secret

In the Gheranda Samhita, Great-Seer Sage Gheranda (Confining the Egg), says, “In the world there are as many postures as there are living beings (living souls and lower life forms). In the beginning, Lord Eternal Kind Dissolver set forth 8,400,000 postures.” Through natural [sahaja] yoga [Surrender Meditation], countless postures are manifested. In The Shandilya Upanishad, Great-Seer Sage Shandilya (Milk Curds) says, “He who is victorious in posture is victorious in all the three worlds.” Through the continued practice of posture, the passionate condition and the dark condition cease to exist.

You may think of the “three worlds” as Brahma Loka, Vishnu Loka and Rudra Loka (see Intensive book); body (physical), feelings (emotional, astral, or subtle body) and mind (mental, etheric, or subtler body); humankind, ancestors and gods; etc.

The “passionate condition” is rajas, and the “dark condition” is tamas in its negative aspect which causes lethargy (see Intensive book).

Posture first occurs in the very beginning of yoga, but its special characteristic is that it is present up to the state of equanimity [samadhi]. That is to say, it holds first place in the center of any systematic practice.

Don’t miss this one:  Hatha Yoga isn’t over until samadhi is reached, even though samadhi is associated with Raja Yoga which involves concentration (dharana) and the meditative state (dhyana).

Ordinarily, along with the arousal of the life energy [pranotthana], postures, suspensions of the life energy, energy seals, etcetera, begin of their own accord; nevertheless, the expert teachers of yoga consider posture to be the first limb (stage); this is quite correct. Great-Seer Sage Patañjali (Flying-Up-Anointing), says that there are eight limbs of yoga: restraint [yama], observance [niyama], posture [asana], the suspension of the life energy [pranayama], the withdrawal of the senses [pratyahara] (the withdrawal of the organs of sense/knowledge gained through the objects of sense perception: sound, tactility, visibility, savor and odor), concentration [dharana] (focusing the attention), meditation [dhyana] (keeping the attention focused), and equanimity [samadhi] (divine union).

Sun-moon yoga is not different from eight-limbed yoga, but different points of view make them appear different. In sun-moon yoga, apart from restraint [yama] and observance [niyama], there are four limbs: posture [asana], the suspension of the life energy [pranayama], energy seal [mudra] (locking in the life energy), and divine-sound uniting [samadhi] (reaching divine union through the divine vibration, or the music of God). Concentration, meditation, and equanimity are included in divine sound (uniting). It can be said that “sun-moon yoga” consists of posture, the suspension of the life energy, energy seal, and the withdrawal of the senses, and “royal yoga” consists of divine sound uniting – concentration, meditation, and equanimity [refer to Intensive book].

There are many levels of yoga. Among them are three main levels: beginning, middle, and last. In the beginning level, the fourteen main energy channels [nadis], nine energy centers [chakras], and three plexuses [granthis] are still totally unpurified, that is, darkness (lethargy) (the dark condition) is predominant in them. In the middle level, passion is predominant, and in the last level, tranquil power is predominant in the beginning and is being destroyed in the middle, and in the end the yogi is beyond the three conditions of nature. The power of a given posture does not remain the same in each level; it increases step by step. (When the word ‘level’ is used, it usually refers to one of these three levels. The word ‘stage’ is used more generally; it usually means ‘the state of a stage’, and is sometimes translated as ‘state’.)

Level 1:  Lethargy is predominant
Level 2:  Passion is predominant
Level 3:  Tranquil power is predominant

Note that Level Three, the “last” level, has three levels:
Level 3.1:  Tranquil power is predominant
Level 3.2:  Tranquil power is being destroyed
Level 3.3:  One is beyond the influence of the 3 gunas (see Intensive notes), trigunatita.

When all the energy channels become free of impurity, the body, becoming stable (firm) of its own accord, becomes whole (homogeneous, in perfect equilibrium). Along with this, the head and the neck also become rigid and unwavering. Because of purity of the energy channels, the aspirant also attains freedom from disease. Through the destruction of corpulence, the body becomes quick and lean. The inner heart is filled with bliss. This is the extent of with-seed [sabija] equanimity [samadhi]. In it, the dark condition and the passionate condition fade away, and the tranquil powerful condition thrives.

Consider that kundalini said to be coiled three and a half times at the base of the spine (eight, according to Goraksha) which indicates more than one go-round, that She doesn’t just wake up, hit the bell at the top and it’s all over, you’re enlightened, brimming with wisdom and have completed your sadhana. There is definitely MORE to come.

♦  ♦  ♦

In presenting you with verses of sacred texts, I tend to either write several in one entry without much in the way of comments, write a summary of several, or write one to three verses and include commentaries of others as well as my own as in this entry.  I would be interested to know which you prefer and find most useful.  Please “Reply” to let me know.

Durga Ma

The Code of Pashupati – Part 2

Pashupat Sutras — Chapter 3, Sutras 1-11

There is a teaching in Pashupat Shaivism about trying to attract abuse in order to seize the merit of the abuser and give him your demerit, thus putting yourself in the position of gaining “power” over him and seizing his spiritual “merit.” This has always smacked as thievery to me, a violation of both ahimsa and asteya, but I guess it could be understood as a simple play of cause and effect: karma. However, the way it is translated sits awfully close to the line where abuse could easily become rationalized and carried out on others in the name of sadhana. This is the kind of thing that gets misinterpreted in scripture so often and so easily.

I have been over the Sanskrit of this text many times. I am not an expert in Sanskrit, but for the life of me, I cannot see where this attracting of abuse and assault is an absolute as a teaching, for there are often many definitions to one word in Sanskrit. In one case, where a translator has used the word “abuse” it does not actually appear to be defined as such in Sanskrit. In another case, the word “sin” is used for a Sanskrit word that seems to have more to do with things not going smoothing.

To give you an idea of what I mean, beneath my own (current) translations of each of the eleven sutras below, I have added two other translations (labeled A and B).  After looking these over, you will see why I tell you to get as many editions of a text as possible, and why a teaching lineage is such a better idea than an organized religion where, once a “belief” is settled upon, everyone in that religion goes into agreement with it and acts on it. (An eye for and eye, comes to mind as another problematic teaching for the same reasons.)

Remember the Ten Keys (yamas and niyamas) and assume that they are not being disregarded in these teachings. With this in mind, how do you understand these sutras?  At this point we are, of course, out of context and are looking at only a few sutras, so don’t settle on any permanent interpretations, but do let us hear what you think.

Durga Ma

♦  ♦  ♦

1  Injunction of secrecy.

A — He will be of unmanifested marks.

B — Of nature and characteristics unrevealed.

2  Evolved practices as by injunction of the teacher.

A — He is of manifested practices.

B — With conduct or action revealed or expressed.

3  [One] will not be taken seriously [or, he will be disregarded or scorned]

A — Insulted.

B — Disregarded

4  Among all the people.

A — Among all created beings.

B — In all living beings

5  One should go on anyway, disregarding [such] opinions.

A — He should wander while being assaulted.

B — One should go on with his duty even if ignored or disregarded

6  [By this practice] harm, misfortune and sorrow* [get] destroyed

A — He gets all sins destroyed.

B — With sins removed or destroyed.

7  Quickly, because of their slander and blaming,

A — Because of the abuse made by others.

B — From blaming or finding faults with others.

8  And thus, overcoming harm, misfortune and sorrow in this way [is] a gift,

A — He gives them sin.

B — He hands over his sins.

9  And merit** [good fortune] [is] acquired.

A — And he receives their merit (born of [their] good deeds).

B — He snatches their pious acts.

10 Therefore, on account of that, 

A — On account of that

B — Therefore.

11 Go about like a ghost° [vocalizing like a ghost] 

A — He should wander like a Preta [ghost].

B — One should move about like a departed spirit or a ghost.

[Presumably, this is in order to attract more abuse and assault to acquire more merit.]


* Harm, misfortune and sorrow. This comes from a Sanskrit word (papam) that encompasses everything from pain to difficulties of all kinds.

** Merit.  This comes from from a Sanskrit word (sukam) that translates as “having a well-oiled axel wheel” and refers to all kinds of good things from ease and comfort to happiness, good fortune and religious merit (which is meant as money in the bank for doing sadhana successfully).

° Ghost (preta):  Departed, deceased, dead, a dead person, the spirit of a dead person (especially before obsequial rites are performed), a ghost, an evil being.

Teaching Authentic Meditation

Excerpts from the first chapter of the training manual for Durga Ma’s Natural Meditation, for personal or online Teacher Training and Certification:

Why Do I Want You To Teach?

I want to get these courses out to everyone. I have two primary reasons for this:

1. Everyone has inherent power to the exact same degree. This power comes with the same degree of personal potential for each and every one of us. It is astronomical. Most people are unaware of this amazing truth about themselves. I want them to become aware of it. This alone is reason enough, for arriving at this awareness will end the feeling of needing to control other people and things, and peace could finally begin to prevail.

2. Meditation gives people the opportunity to become aware of this truth about themselves through their own experience. Hearing it, thinking about it, and even believing it, is not enough. Some degree of personal experience is crucial. Meditation provides this experience. Everyone has the ability to meditate successfully and reap a harvest of benefits beyond the mind’s ability to even come close to imagining. Very few people actually do meditate, even though they have practiced the rudiments of meditation unknowingly since childhood. Many people do not realize that there is anything to know about meditation. There is. I want people to have at least the nuts and bolts of authentic meditation and be able to use them. . . .

Teaching Authentic Meditation

For meditation to be effective it must be authentic. What you are going to be doing is disseminating real, authentic meditation in a non-intimidating manner to anyone who wants it, regardless of their spiritual leanings or the lack thereof. There is nothing floaty-woaty about authentic meditation, but anyone can do it.

There is also a less altruistic reason for why I want you to teach. Simply put, it is this: My cup runneth over. It is full. If I am to move onward to the ultimate end of walking a spiritual path in this lifetime, I must teach, I must pass along to others what has been given to me. I learned a long time ago, before I started meditating, that the best and most effective form of teaching is to teach others to teach, in other words, to teach teaching. . . .

. . . I am not by nature a cause-oriented person. These courses just began writing themselves around 1992 and continued developing over time. They just happened, just as this online Meditation Teacher Training program is on automatic pilot at this very moment. The blossoming of these courses and trainings are a part of my own sadhana, or they wouldn’t be getting written and taught.

If all you ever do is the three New Dawn courses [the first three in the series], I will be pleased and you will be very well equipped to feed others what they are starving for. . . . .

© Copyright 2012, Durga Ma, Phoenix, Arizona

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

The Shakti Jet

What you have read above refers to the teaching of three to nine courses written for the masses. The real fruit, however, lies with Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, which I often call Surrender Meditation and which is also known in my lineage as sahaja yoga or Natural Meditation because of its spontaneous and experiential nature through shaktipat. Although the nine courses lay essential groundwork for this sadhana (spiritual practice), or any other path or lifestyle for that matter, Surrender Meditation is a is a different thing altogether — it’s the difference between walking from one coast of the continent to the other or taking a jet liner to get there. I think of this sadhana as the Shakti Jet.

Not only am I putting these nine courses out for others to teach, but I am also considering to whom I will pass the torch of Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, Surrender Meditation. I would hope that whoever this may turn out to be has these courses under their belt and teaches them. What a wonderful pool this would make from which the hungry (translate “sincere”) would leap at the opportunity to take the Shakti Jet. Having just reached the age of 70, this consideration has begun to take a front seat. Regardless of age, one rarely knows how much time they have left, and there is so much more beyond these nine courses and a Shaktipat Intensive that a new torch-bearer would need to learn that cannot be written.

I hope this message inspires some action on your part, and leads to more Teachers-in-training, and to the preservation of the teachings with which I have been blessed by the Grace of God and Guru.

Divine Mother sends Her Love.

Durga Ma