Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga
From the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Svatmarama,
translationed by various scholars
(believed to be in the public domain)
Traditional Hatha Yoga
is intended to lead to Raja Yoga, the "Royal
Yoga", the goal of which is the highest state of consciousness
known as Samadhi.
Following are excerpts from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika which
reveal the intimate relationship
between Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga. Please read the whole of the Hatha
Yoga Pradipika for a complete understanding of Raja Yoga and Kundalini
in the context of Hatha Yoga. (complete
translation of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika)
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is a classical text describing Hatha Yoga. It is said to
be the oldest surviving text on Hatha Yoga. Swami Swatmarama, a
disciple of Swami Goraknath, wrote the text in the 15th century CE,
drawing upon previous texts and his own experiences.
Note that the goal of
Hatha Yoga is not merely physical fitness. While the text
describes asanas (postures), purifying practices (shatkarma), mudras
(finger and hand positions), bandhas (locks), and pranayama (breath
exercises), it also explains that the purpose of Hatha Yoga is the
awakening of Kundalini (subtle energy), leading in through Sushumna
(the central energy channel), and advancing through Raja Yoga to the
deep meditative absorption called Samadhi.
Chapter 1: Asana
1.1-1.3. Salutation to adinatha
(Siva) who expounded the knowledge of Hatha Yoga, which like a staircase
leads the aspirant to the high pinnacled Raja Yoga. Yogin Swatmarama, after
saluting his Guru Srinatha explains Hatha Yoga for the attainment of Raja Yoga. Owing to the darkness
arising from the multiplicity of opinions people are unable to know the
Raja Yoga. Compassionate Swatmarama composes the Hatha Yoga Pradipika
like a torch to dispel it.
1.69. Asanas, various Kumbhakas,
and other divine means, all should be practiced in the practice of Hatha
Yoga, till the fruit of Raja Yoga is obtained.
Chapter 2: Shatkarma and Pranayama
2.4-2.6. The breath does not pass
through the middle channel (Susumna), owing to the impurities of the
nadis. How can then success be attained, and how can there be the unmani
avastha. When the whole system of
the nadis which is full of impurities, is cleaned, then the Yogi becomes
able to control the Prana. Therefore, Pranayama
should be performed daily with satwika buddhi (intellect free from raja
and tama or activity and sloth), in order to drive out the impurities of
41. When the system of Nadis
becomes clear of the impurities by properly controlling the prana, then
the air, piercing the entrance of the Susumna, enters it easily.
2.74-2.77. There is nothing in the
three worlds which may be difficult to obtain for him who is able to
keep the air confined according to pleasure, by means of Kevala Kumbhaka. He obtains the position
of Raja Yoga undoubtedly. Kundalini awakens by Kumbhaka, and by its
awakening, Susumna becomes free from impurities. No success in Raja Yoga
without Hatha Yoga, and no success in Hatha Yoga without Raja Yoga. One
should, therefore, practice both of these well, till complete success is
gained. On the completion of
Kumbhaka, the mind should be given rest. By practicing in this way one
is raised to the position of (succeeds in getting) Raja Yoga.
Chapter 3: Mudra and Bandha
3.1-3.5. As the chief of the snakes
is the support of the earth with all the mountains and forests on it, so
all the Tantras (Yoga practices) rest on the Kundalini. When the sleeping
Kundalini awakens by favor of a guru, then all the lotuses (in
the six chakras or centers) and all the knots are pierced through. Susumna (Sunya Padavi)
becomes a main road for the passage of Prana, and the mind then becomes
free from all connections (with its objects of enjoyments) and Death is
then evaded. Susumna, Sunya, Padavi,
Brahma Randhra, Maha Patha, Smasana, Sambhavi, Madhya Marga, are names
of one and the same thing. In order, therefore, to
awaken this goddess, who is sleeping at the entrance of Brahma Dwara
(the great door), mudras should be practiced well.
(crooked-bodied), Kundalini, Bhujangi (a she-serpent) Sakti, Ishwari,
Kuundali, Arunddhati, -- all these words are synonymous. 3.98. As a door is opened with
a key, so the Yogi opens the door of mukti by opening Kundalini by means
of Hatha Yoga.
3.99. The Parameswari (Kundalini)
sleeps, covering the hole of the passage by which one can go to the seat
of Brahma which is free from pains. 3.100. Kundalini Sakti sleeps on
the bulb, for the purpose of giving moksa to Yogis and bondage to the
ignorant. He who knows it, knows Yoga.
3.111. By this Kundalini leaves
the entrance of the Susumna at once, and the Prana enters it of itself.
3.119. Without Raja Yoga, this
earth, the night, and the Mudras, be they howsoever wonderful, do not
Chapter 4: Samadhi
4.1-4.4. Salutation to the Guru,
the dispenser of happiness to all, appearing as Nada, Vindu and Kali.
One who is devoted to him, obtains the highest bliss. Now I will describe a
regular method of attaining to Samadhi, which destroys death, is the
means for obtaining happiness, and gives the Brahmananda. Raja Yoga,
Unmani, Manonmani, Amaratwa, Laya, Tatwa, Sunya, Asunya, Parama Pada,
Amanasska, Adwaitama, Niralamba, Niranjana, Jiwana Mukti, Sahaja, Turya,
are all synonymous.
4.5-4.8. As salt being dissolved in
water becomes one with it, so when Atma and mind become one, it is
called Samadhi. When the Prana becomes
lean (vigourless) and the mind becomes absorbed, then their becoming
equal is called Samadhi. This equality and oneness
of the self and the ultra self, when all Samkalpas cease to exist, is
called Samadhi. Or, who can know the true
greatness of the Raja Yoga. Knowledge, mukti, condition, and Siddhis can
be learnt by instructions from a guru alone.
4.9-10. Indifference to worldly
enjoyments is very difficult to obtain, and equally difficult is the
knowledge of the Realities to obtain. It is very difficult to get the
condition of Samadhi, without the favor of a true guru. By means of various
postures and different Kumbhakas, when the great power (Kundalini)
awakens, then the Prana becomes absorbed in Sunya (Samadhi).
4.11-4.12. The Yogi whose sakti has
awakened, and who has renounced all actions, attains to the condition of
Samadhi, without any effort. When the Prana flows in
the Susumna, and the mind has entered sunya, then the Yogi is free from
the effects of Karmas.
4.16-4.21. Always living in a good
locality and having known the secret of the Susumna, which has a middle
course, and making the Vayu move in it, (the Yogi) should restrain the
Vayu in the Brahma randhra. Time, in the form of
night and day, is made by the sun and the moon. That the Susumna devours
this time (death) even, is a great secret. In this body there are
72,000 openings of Nadis; of these, the Susumna, which has the Sambhavi
Sakti in it, is the only important one, the rest are useless. The Vayu should be made
to enter the Susumna without restraint by him who has practices the
control of breathing and has awakened the Kundalini by the (gastric) fire. The Prana, flowing
through the Susumna, brings about the condition of manonmani; other
practices are simply futile for the Yogi. By whom the breathing has
been controlled, by him the activities of the mind also have been
controlled; and, conversely, by whom the activities of the mind have
been controlled, by him the breathing also has been controlled.
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quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest
Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the
center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is
one and the same with the Absolute Reality.
This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga
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intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which
complement one another like fingers on a hand.
We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti
Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha,
and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer
finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final
stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the