Vijnanabhairava is a very ancient book on Yoga. It studiously eschews mechanical worship, external rites and ceremonies and goes directly to the heart of the problem of the union of human consciousness with the Divine. There is no theoretical discussion in the book. It describes 112 types of yoga each of which is a precious gem delineating the mystic approach to the Divine. For this purpose, it makes full use of all the aspects of human life-prana, manas, imagination and intuition.
The book has for the first time been translated into English. The translation of each verse is followed by copious expository notes which contain not only all that is of any value in the Sanskrit commentaries but also many practical suggestions made by Svami Laksmana Joo on the basis of his personal experience of these Yogas.
In order to understand the philosophical background of these Yogas, the reader is advised to go through the introductory portion of the author's Pratyabhijnahrdayam or the Siva-sutras.
Dr. Jaideva Singh has an admirable command over both Sanskrit and English and has presented an exposition of this book with remarkable success.
JAIDEVA SINGH (1893-1986) was a great scholar in musiocology, philosophy and Sanskrit. A former principal of Y.D. College. Lakhimpur-Kheri, he served as Chief Producer in All-India Radio and among other posts acted as Chairman of U.P. Sangit Natak Academi. He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1974. After his retirement he settled in Varanasi to study with M.M. Gopinath Kaviraj. He dedicated the later part of his life to the study of Kashmir Saivism. He published several books in Hindi and English translations of Kashmir Saiva texts, such as Siva-Sutras, Spanda krika, Pratyabhijnahrdayam, and Vijnanabhairava.
Vijnanabhairava is a very ancient book on Yoga. It closely follows the basic principles of Saivagama. It contains 112 types of yoga. There is hardly any other book on yoga which has described so many ways of approach to Central Reality that is present in each man as his essential Self. It is both extensive, and intensive in the treatment of the subject of yoga.
An English translation of this excellent work is being provided for the first time. The text that has been adopted is mainly the one that is published in the Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies. At a few places, however, slightly different readings yielding better sense have been incorporated as suggested by Svami Laksmana Joo.
Each verse of the Sanskrit text has been printed in both Devanagari and Roman script. This is followed by an English translation and a number of expository notes which will go a long way in elucidating the main idea of the verse.
A long Introduction explaining the basic principles of the yogas described in the text has been provided in the beginning. A glossary of technical terms has also been added at the end.
Since the yogas recommended in the book are based on the tenets of the non-dualistic Saiva Philosophy, the reader will do well to read the author's Introductory Portion of either the Pratyabhijnahrdayam or the Siva-sutras before taking up the study of the present book.
I express my sincerest gratitude to Svami Laksmana Joo who has kindly taught this book to me word by word. My thanks are also due to Shri Dinanath Ganj who has kindly helped me in the preparation of the index to important Sanskrit words and the alphabetical index to the verses.
IMPORTANCE OF VIJNANABHAIRAVA
There have been, in India, two main ways of approach to Reality or the Essential Nature of Self, viz., Vivekaja marga and Yogaja marga-the path of distinction or discrimination and the path of union or integration. Patanjala yoga and Sankara Vedanta have adopted the Vivekaja marga by which the Purusa or Atma (the Self) is isolated from Prakrti (in the case of Patanjala Yoga) or from Maya (in the case of Vedanta). The word Yoga does not mean union in Patanjali's system; it means commentary, 'yuji samadhau'). Saivagama has adopted the Yogaja marga in which the goal is not isolation of the Self to the Universal Self or Bhairava and the realization of the universe as the expression of His Sakti or spiritual Energy. The ideal of Saivagama is not the rejection of the universe but its assimilation to its Source.
Vijnanabhairava is an excellent exposition of the yogaja marga. Hence its importance. It has been referred to as Agama, Sivavijnanopanisad, and Rudrayamalasara by Abhinavagupta. Yogaraja has referred to it as Saivopanisad. Ksemaraja has referred to it at many places in his commentary on Siva-sutras.
It is clear that it has been acknowledged by the great exponents of Saivagama as a very authentic work on yoga.