Hatha Yoga Pradipika 19 — The Order of Things

This entry follows “Things to Avoid” from chapter one.

My input amidst verses is in [brackets] and in color when commenting. Kripalu commentary is in plain text.

The following is a rendering of verses 57 to 58 approximately (in bold black Italics)—verses are numbered differently in different editions:

The best of yogis who has no fatigue from practicing postures [asana] should perform the continued practices of the purification of the energy channels , the energy seals, the purifying action of the suspension of the life energy, etc.

Energy channels (nadis). There are 72,000 nadis in the body. The three main nadis are the ida (eeda), the cooling moon channel, the pingala (ping’-gala), the warming sun channel, and the sushumna, the central channel through which the united sun and moon, apana and prana, try to travel upward as a single evolutionary force, kundalini. Or you could say that the commotion caused by their union “awakens” Kundalini.  This all begins with asana (called “postures” in this translation).

Energy seals (mudras). Mudras are for the purpose of sealing in energy when a nadi has been purified. Mudras occur of their own volition, at exactly the right time.

Suspension of the life energy (pranayama). Pranayama is most often taught as breathing techniques and exercises, but the translator has given us its real meaning: the suspension, or the stopping of the movement, of prana, the life energy. So pranayama is to be take literally here: prana (life energy) yama (restrained, not moving, suspended). When the prana is not moving, the mind is not moving, and vise versa.

Purifying actions (kriyas). Kriyas are actions produced by prana, the life energy, for the purpose of purification. All the various kriyas, pranayamas and mudras are associated with purification. Divine-sound uniting is the next step, and is included in Royal Yoga.

The continued practice of sun-moon yoga occurs in this order: posture, various kinds of holds, the method called energy seal, and divine-sound uniting.

1. Posture (asana)
2. Holds (bandha)
3. Energy Seal (mudra)
4. Divine-Sound Uniting (nada yoga)

Posture (asana). (Asana has been discussed previously.)

Holds (bandhas). Locks. Energy is locked (held) at a certain place in the body in order to concentrate the energy there and to retain what has been purified rather than letting it get away. Locks, or holds, are also used by the purifying actions of prana to prevent impurities from rising beyond a certain point (where the lock is), taking impurities with it and causing uncomfortable symptoms.

Divine-sound uniting (nada yoga).  There are two kinds of divine sound: struck divine sound (divine sound produced by striking something) and unstruck divine sound (sound that occurs without any means). Struck divine sound is caused by desire, and unstruck divine sound occurs of its own accord. Only the yogi knows it.

There are many kinds of unstruck divine sounds which are either gross or subtle. In meditation, the mind exists, one hears subtle divine sounds, and one has divine visions. The mind, divine light and divine sounds ultimately cease to exist and divine-sound-uniting eventually becomes no-mind union—even though no mind or divine sounds remain in this state, it is not unconsciousness, it is union with the Absolute. Thus, nada yoga is the beginning of Royal Yoga.

Kripalu Commentary:
The journey of sun-moon yoga is very difficult and quite long. After it is accomplished, the journey of royal yoga is easy, because at that time the yogi is endowed with omniscience and detachment. It does not matter at all whether that journey is completed in one year or in ten years, because in it he receives the support of knowledge and detachment. The difficulty is in the hard-to-complete journey of sun-moon yoga. In it, the firm steadfastness of a year seems like that of a millennium.

Omniscience and detachment. These two words give us an idea of how to know when Hatha Yoga is complete.
Omniscience — All-knowingness
— Neutrality, impartiality

_______________ ♦ ♦ ♦ _______________

This concludes my entries on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika for the time being. I find the HYP to be especially qualified as a “mystical” writing, but I haven’t seen evidence of much interest in these entries. I can only discern interest when there are Replies—comments or questions or sharing of related experiences—and there have been only two of these.

So next week, it’s on to something new. Any suggestions?

Durga Ma

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Hatha Yoga Pradipika 11 — Asana, Continued

Chapter One — Primary Asanas

Continuing with one more verse from Hatha Yoga Pradipika — Asana using titles instead of numbers.

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.

For persons using other editions, in this blog we are taking up at 18 in the Kripalu translation, which is 20 in the Sinh translation.

Remarks of Earlier Teachers

Vasishtha (Most Excellent) and other sages, and Matsyendra Master and other yogis have accepted certain postures. I, too, having accepted certain postures, describe them.

I am going to describe certain asanas which have been adopted by Munis like Vasishtha, etc., and Yogis like Matsyendra, etc.

Kripalu Commentary — Revealing the Secret

For attainment of the Absolute teaching, there is only one means: yoga. Sun-moon yoga is the first part of it. By means of sun-moon yoga, bodily purity occurs. It involves the organs of action. The second part of yoga is royal yoga. By means of it, mental purity occurs. It involves the organs of sense (the organs of knowledge). Vasishtha and other great seers resorted to yoga.

Bodily Purification – Hatha Yoga: Organs of Action
Hands, feet, tongue (speech), sex organs, and anus.

Mental Purification – Raja Yoga: Organs and Faculties of Sense
Organs: Ears, eyes, skin, tongue (taste), and nose.

Faculties: Hearing, seeing, feeling (touch), tasting, and smelling.

I have included the sense faculties in royal yoga (raja yoga), because Swami Kripalu has called the organs of sense, “the organs of knowledge.” This implies that the perception to which he refers is not limited to the actual organs. The faculties (abilities or powers) can operate without the organs by means of imagination, dreams, and thoughts, and do operate without them entirely in meditation. When this occurs in one’s meditation, perception is direct and knowledge is acquired without the use of the corresponding organs.

How can there be any association between sun-moon yoga and Great-Seer Sage Vasishtha? The revered great seer is a knowledge yogi; he has no allegiance to action – why should he take up action worship? “With the fire of knowledge he can make action into ashes!” This is only the reasoning of some learned men; there is not much fact in it. Great-Seer Sage Vasishtha Muni, is a supreme worshipper of the life energy [prana]. The worship of the life energy is called sun-moon yoga. He is the author of the jewel-like book, The Yoga Vasishtha. In many places in it he has explained the importance of the worship of the life energy. In the fourth section, entitled “Peace of Mind”, he has said, “O Delightful One! Even after hundreds of births, this is the practice provided for the worldly condition. Without practice for a long time, how can the worldly condition be broken?” So the knower of the essence, along with abandonment of mental attachments, also tells about the systematic practice of the stabilization of the life energy. It also should be done.

See Hatha Yoga Pradipika 1:12-14 – Sanctuary for discussion on the use of the word, “worship” in Swami Kripalu’s commentary.

Beloved King-Among-Yogis Atmarama says, “In ancient times, Vasishtha and other sages, gave forest-dwelling, unattached, liberation-seeking aspirants knowledge of scripture first, and in the end, giving them instruction in renunciation-of-action yoga, made them pilgrims of yoga.” To presume that these sages were followers of the path of knowledge, and therefore expounded only knowledge yoga, is to make a mistake. They were all-knowing; they knew all paths. They taught devotion yoga to the devotee, action yoga to the yogi, and knowledge yoga to the knower. The reason they expounded knowledge yoga was that their group of students was knowledge-oriented. They usually taught the continued practice of scripture and the continued practice of yoga to inquirers following both paths – the path of engagement and the path of cessation – but they were in different study groups. They also favored certain postures.

It is my opinion that one might as well take up knowledge, action and devotion from the very start since these three personal orientations are ultimately going to merge anyway. At the start, most of us are stronger in one of these orientations, so how would this work?  Contrary to popular teaching methodologies, rather than focusing on trying to improve the weakest orientation, I would recommend that you do what you do best first, and gradually add the others to it. By doing this, you will not become discouraged or disinterested and your weakest orientation will automatically rise in strength due to its association with your naturally strongest orientation.      

Matsyendra Master and others (other yogis who taught) were called teacher yogis. They taught town-dwelling, desirous, ethical-action-seeking aspirants action yoga first, and in the end, instructing them in necessary scriptural knowledge, made them pilgrims of yoga. They too were followers of the path of knowledge. Matsyendra and other yogis were also situated on the level of yoga on which Vasishtha and other sages were situated. The reason they came to expound action yoga was that their group of students was action-oriented; it was of the intermediate class. Alternatively, they gave knowledge of scripture to unattached and learned liberation-seeking aspirants first, and in the end, engaged them in renunciation-of-action yoga. They were truly all-knowing. Seeing the eligibility and class of the aspirant, they would give instruction accordingly.

“Town-dwelling, desirous, ethical-action-seeking aspirants” describes what Swami Kripalu quoted earlier as, “the worldly condition” (though perhaps without the complementary appellations of “ethical” and “aspirant”). If you are attempting yoga sadhana and are bound up in worldly concerns, this is your Good News, your medicine for the cure: action yoga, then, the necessary scriptural knowledge to make you a pilgrim of yoga (walking a path to the shrine of Union). But what is “action yoga”?

Beyond the usual selfless service to the guru, action yoga is Hatha Yoga, sun-moon union, which can only be completely successful with the “necessary scriptural knowledge.” So it’s a sequence: start with action and then go forward well informed. “Unattached and learned liberation-seeking aspirants” would naturally proceed beginning with knowledge of the truth about action leading them to renunciation-of-action yoga (through action, of course). Confused yet?  Well, this is just one of those esoteric places. What can I say!

Now Beloved-Yogi Svatmarama will describe the good luck posture and other postures.

Coming up next time.

Durga Ma

Hatha Yoga Pradipika 8 – Restraints & Observances

Chapter One — Asana
Continued from Hatha Yoga Pradipika, I:1-16

The first translation and Title of a verse is from Swami Kripalu’s, Revealing the Secret, a commentary on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

The second translation is from the Pancham Sinh edition.

The following verses were added by a later author at which point the numbering of verses changes in the two translations, so I am not using numbers at all here.

Anything in (parentheses) is in the text of the translation or commentary. As always, my own input is in [brackets].

The Restraints and Observances

[Those of you who have studied with me will recognize “The Restraints and Observances” as the yamas and niyamas of the Ten Keys to Success course. However, In this interpolation there are ten yamas and ten niyamas.  You will also notice a difference in the translations of some of these.]

[Restraints, Yamas]

Experts in yogic scripture mention these ten restraints: non-violence, truthfulness, non-theft, chastity, calm resolution, acceptance, compassion, honesty, regulating food, and cleanliness,

The ten rules of conduct are: ahimsa (non-injuring), truth, non-stealing, continence, forgiveness, endurance, compassion, meekness, sparing diet and cleanliness.

[Observances, Niyamas]

And these ten observances: burning austerity, contentment, faith, proper making of gifts, worship of God, listening to statements containing true principles, shame, judgement, burning austerity, and fire sacrifice. (verses 1 and 2.)

The ten niyamas mentioned by those proficient in the knowledge of yoga are: Tapa, patience, belief in God, charity, adoration of God, hearing discourses on the principles of religion, shame, intellect, Tapa [to burn, warm or melt down] and Yajna [sacrifice].

Kripalu’s Commentary

Then, does sun-moon yoga disparage the restraints and observances? [Kripalu refers here to the fact that yama-niyama were added to the text later and were not part of the original HYP of Svatmarama.]

No, it does not disparage them, because the restraints and observances are great vows of the entire earth. They are indispensable for all.

To disparage them is to disparage truth. The teachers of sun-moon yoga think that the aspirant who wishes to attain liberation already belongs to a high class: [in other words,] he must already be practicing them. Having this viewpoint, they have not mentioned the restraints and observances [in the original].

There is also a special reason for this lack of mention: one name of sun-moon yoga is ‘natural yoga’ or ‘accomplishment yoga’. The systematic practices which are included in it are all natural systematic practices. That is to say, they happen effortlessly, without desire (will), by themselves. Restraint and observance do not happen effortlessly by themselves; they have to be practiced laboriously (willfully). Therefore, they have not been numbered among the natural systematic practices.

But this is only one side of the question; there is another side, which is that through the systematic practice of natural yoga, bit by bit, in the body and mind, a rearrangement in the conditions of nature occurs, so that after the aspirant makes enough progress, he naturally begins to practice the restraints and observances. It is worth remembering that practicing the observances results in purity of nature and abandoning the observances results in impurity of nature.

The restraints and observances are the unfailing fort of systematic practice. Prohibited actions must not be allowed to enter into life, so the aspirant must build up the fort of the restraints and observances.

• • •

See which of the yamas and the niyamas of both translations match the ones that you already know. Note and compare any differing translations of these. Then, note the different translations of the ones with which you are not familiar. Contemplate what you come up with.

Jaya Bhagavan (Victory to God),
Durga Ma