Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Yoga Swami Svatmarama
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Pages (PDF): 122
Publication Date: 1914
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The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā is a classic Sanskrit manual on hatha yoga, written by Svāmi Svātmārāma, a disciple of Swami Gorakhnath. Said to be the oldest surviving text on the hatha yoga, it is one of the three classic texts of hatha yoga, the other two being the Gheranda Samhita and the Shiva Samhita.
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There exists at present a good deal of misconception with regard to the practices of the Haṭha Yoga. People easily believe in the stories told by those who themselves heard them second hand, and no attempt is made to find out the truth by a direct reference to any good treatise. It is generally believed that the six practices, ( ) in Haṭha Yoga are compulsory on the student and that besides being dirty, they are fraught with danger to the practiser. This is not true, for these practices are necessary only in the existence of impurities in the Nâdis, and not otherwise.
There is the same amount of misunderstanding with regard to the Prâṇâyâma. People put their faith implicitly in the stories told them about the dangers attending the practice, without ever taking the trouble of ascertaining the fact themselves. We have been inspiring and expiring air from our birth, and will continue to do so till death; and this is done without the help of any teacher. Prâṇâyâma is nothing but a properly regulated form of the otherwise irregular and hurried flow of air, without using much force or undue restraint; and if this is accomplished by patiently keeping the flow slow and steady, there can be no danger. It is the impatience for the Siddhis which cause undue pressure on the organs and thereby causes pains in the ears, the eyes, the chest, etc. If the three bandhas ( ) be carefully performed while practising the Prâṇâyâma, there is no possibility of any danger. There are two classes of students of Yoga: (1) those who study it theoretically; (2) those who combine the theory with practice.
Yoga is of very little use, if studied theoretically. It was never meant for such a study. In its practical form, however, the path of the student is beset with difficulties. The books on Yoga give instructions so far as it is possible to express the methods in words, but all persons, not being careful enough to follow these instructions to the very letter, fail in their object. Such persons require a teacher versed in the practice of Yoga. It is easy to find a teacher who will explain the language of the books, but this is far from being satisfactory. For instance, a Pandit without any knowledge of the science of Materia Medica will explain as or an enemy of thorns, i.e., shoes, while it is in reality the name of a medicinal plant,
The importance of a practical Yogî as a guide to a student of Yoga cannot be overestimated; and without such a teacher it is next to impossible for him to achieve anything. The methods followed by the founders of the system and followed ever afterwards by their followers, have been wisely and advisedly kept secret; and this is not without a deep meaning. Looking to the gravity of the subject and the practices which have a very close relation with the vital organs of the human body, it is of paramount importance that the instructions should be received by students of ordinary capacity, through a practical teacher only, in order to avoid any possibility of mistake in practice. Speaking broadly, all men are not equally fitted to receive the instructions on equal terms. Man inherits on birth his mental and physical capitals, according to his actions in past births, and has to increase them by manipulation, but there are, even among such, different grades. Hence, one cannot become a Yogî in one incarnation, as says Śri Kṛiṣṇa and again There are men who, impelled by the force of their actions of previous births, go headlong and accomplish their liberation in a single attempt; but others have to earn it in their successive births. If the student belongs to one of such souls and being earnest, desires from his heart to get rid of the pains of birth and death, he will find the means too.
It is well-known that a true Yogî is above temptations and so to think that he keeps his knowledge secret for selling it to the highest bidder is simply absurd. Yoga is meant for the good of all creatures, and a true Yogî is always desirous of benefitting as many men as possible. But he is not to throw away this precious treasure indiscriminately. He carefully chooses its recipients, and when he finds a true and earnest student, who will not trifle with this knowledge, he never hesitates in placing his valuable treasure at the disposal of the man. What is essential in him is that he should have a real thirst for such knowledge—a thirst which will make him restless till satisfied; the thirst that will make him blind to the world and its enjoyments. He should be, in short, fired with or desire for emancipation. To such a one, there is nothing dearer than the accomplishment of this object. A true lover will risk his very life to gain union with his beloved like Tulasîdâs. A true lover will see everywhere, in every direction, in every tree and leaf, in every blade of grass his own beloved. The whole of the world, with all its beauties, is a dreary waste in his eyes, without his beloved. And he will court death, fall into the mouth of a gaping grave, for the sake of his beloved. The student whose heart burns with such intense desire for union with Paraṃâtmâ, is sure to find a teacher, and through him he will surely find Him It is a tried experience that Paraṃâtmâ will try to meet you half way, with the degree of intensity with which you will go to meet Him. Even He Himself will become your guide, direct you on to the road to success, or put you on the track to find a teacher, or lead him to you.
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