From the back of the Book
This extraordinary introduction to the philosophy of hatha yoga is indispensable. Clear and easy to follow, Philosophy of Hatha Yoga views hatha within the framework of raja yoga, as promulgated by Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutra, the most authoritative text on the science of yoga.
Because hatha is not merely a system of physical experience, this book emphasizes the paramount role that the mind plays in the posture; it demonstrates how to elevate the practices of hatha to an inner spiritual experience and explain how the practice of hatha yoga can serve as a means to prepare for meditation and the awakening of the kundalini force.
Pandit Usharbudh Arya, D. Litt., is the director of the Meditation Center in Minneapolis, and President of the sadhana Mandir trust ashram in Rishikesh, India, where he makes his home. A prolific writer and speaker, he is the author of numerous books, including Super conscious Meditation, Mantra and Meditation, Meditation and the Art of Dying, and Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali, Volume I, as well as two thousand hours of recorded cassette courses on all aspects of the practice and philosophy of meditation. Ordained as a swami in the early 1990s, he is now known as Swami Veda Bharati.
A newly revised and expanded version of a popular and unique work, this extraordinarily valuable introductory discussion of the philosophy of hath a yoga is indispensable to any student of yoga. This clear and easy to follow exposition views hatha within the framework of raja yoga, the yoga of eight complements, as promul- gated by Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, the most authorita- tive text on the science of yoga.
Hatha should not be merely a system of physical exercise: this work emphasized the paramount role that the mind plays in hatha yoga, and demonstrates how to elevate the practices of hatha to an inner spiritual experience.
This study outlines how the practice of hath a yoga can serve as a means to understand the subtler essence of mind and prana and to prepare for meditation and the awakening of the kundalini force.
Swami Veda Bharati was born in 1933 in Dehradun, India, and raised in the centuries-old Sanskrit tradition. Holding a BA and MA (London) and DLitt (Holland), Swami Veda Bharati has been a world-renown teacher for over 60 years. Initiated into sanyasa in 1992 by his master, Sri Swami Rama, Swami Veda Bharati is the spiritual director of Sadhana Mandir and Swami Rama Sad- haka Grama, both in Rishikesh. A prolific writer and speaker, he is author to numerous books, including Yoga-sutras of Patanjali, Philosophy of Hatha Yoga, and God.
The yoga science is one. Just as various specialties in one medical science do not separate medical sciences, so the various specialties within yoga do not make many yogas. Hatha yoga, laya yoga, nada yoga, mantra yoga, kundalini yoga, and so forth are simply various emphases to help perfect different areas of human personality, in different stages of an aspirant's development. All these should be seen within the single framework of raja yoga, which is the yoga of eight complements, as promulgated by Patanjali. Of these, hatha yoga has become the most popular and practically synonymous with the totality of yoga. The reason for this is that most human beings identify the self with the physical body, and for this reason the majority have to begin their journey to the spiritual self in the vehicle called the body. To make the vehicle the goal of the journey is obviously erroneous. The vehicle is run through the infusion and interaction of subtler forces and essences. The practice of hatha yoga is incomplete unless some of these subtler forces and essences such as mind and prana are understood. The moment these forces are understood, the practice of hatha yoga unblocks the channels through which these essences are infused into the body during the practice of hatha. Without this, hatha merely becomes another system of physical exercise.
For those teaching within the lineage of succession from and the tradition of the Himalayan masters-the only living authorities on yoga-it is imperative that yoga should not be reduced merely to another set of physical exercises. The science of yoga should remain a method for gaining the higher ground of awareness. It must also be understood that without this awareness of subtler essences the exercise itself will be incomplete and the practitioner will gain neither the sole mastery nor full benefits from its practice.
The most authentic text of hatha yoga-s-Iike Patan- jali's work is for raja yoga-is Hatha-yoga-pradipika of Svatmarama. Like all other Sanskrit texts of hatha yoga, Hatha-yoga-pradipika emphatically supports our view. We read the following statements of Svatmarama:
This science of hatha yoga shines brilliant and serves like a ladder for a seeker aspiring to climb to the highest in raja yoga. (1.1)
The science of hatha is taught only for the sake of raja yoga. (1.2)
All the practices of hatha should be observed only till their fruit, raja yoga, is gained. (1.67)
Hatha without raja yoga and raja yoga without hatha cannot be accomplished, therefore one should practice them together until perfection is reached. (II. 76)
Those who practice only hatha and do not know raja yoga-I consider such practitioners to be depriving themselves of the fruit of their endeavor. (IV.79)
All the systems of hatha yoga and laya yoga help the achievement of raja yoga. He who has climbed to raja yoga can deceive time and master death. (I V .103)
A careful reader of the texts of hatha yoga including the one by Svatmarama cannot fail to be impressed by the references to the role the mind plays in hatha yoga and yet it is strange that nowadays much of hath a is taught without the mental exercises that alone can make the body of a hatha yogi vibrant as does an electric current the copper wire. Just as Svatmarama's work begins with the statement quoted above that the purpose of hatha yoga is to lead to the heights of raja yoga, it ends as follows:
Until the prana enters the middle path [of the sushumna stream],
Until the point [of concentration] becomes firm through the control of prana,
Until one's essence flows naturally and evenly in meditation,
Till then all your knowledge [of hatha] is myth, hypocrisy, and words.
In my study of the Sanskrit texts of hatha yoga, I was puzzled as to why the masters composing these texts were using what is known in grammar as the optative mood in the construction of their verb forms, which can be translated both as one should do it this way or one habitually does so. It was only through the grace of Gurudev that the puzzle was solved. The science of hatha yoga first appeared as records of physical experiences that occurred naturally when mind and prana have entered the sushumna stream of the kundalini in the practice of meditation. The yogi's body does habitually and naturally what a beginner in hatha yoga is advised to do by way of an endeavor. It is from this experience that our hatha- kundalini sutras in chapter 6 of the present volume first came forth. The first five chapters may be read both as an introduction to and as a commentary on these sutras. It is hoped that by this effort even the easiest practices of hatha yoga will be elevated to an inner spiritual experience and the subtler essences of the practitioner's personality will suffuse the body of the practitioner with immortal energy, that is, amrita.
I am most grateful to Michael Smith of the Center for Higher Consciousness, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for edit- ing this volume and to Lalita Devi, my wife, for further refining the work. My gratitude flows to the staff of the Himalayan Institute, whose anonymous service makes the Gurudev's work possible.
In this work all that is beneficial proceeds from the Guru lineage and all that is erroneous is mine.
|1||Watching the Mind Watching the Body||1|
|4||The Whole Body Language||57|
|5||Kundalini - The Coiled-Up Energy||71|
|6||Hatha Yoga: Gateway to the Subtle Body||85|