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Tantric Scriptures – Hatha Yoga Pradeepika of Svatmarama
Hatha Yoga Pradeepika of Svatmarama
MIND AND BREATH
mind and prana, so it is said, are one, and thus mind and breath are interdependent. Where there is breath there is thought; without breath the activities of the mind will dry up.
These rather unusual assertions must be investigated further, for they are the core of raja yoga. It is not by accident that the German word Atem (breath), and the Sanskrit term atman (the self) have the same root. In our understanding, to cease breathing means to die. In yoga teaching it may mean death but does not necessarily. Certainly, consciousness in a general sense disappears along with breath, but what really happens after that we do not know. “Unconsciousness” is a meaningless term. Do we really know whether dying and being dead arethe same thing, whether so-called unconsciousness does not encompass innumerable subconscious states? These are just a few problems relating to consciousness. We can become conscious only of events that reflect states, never of states. We are unable to grasp with our conscious mind a state that is not reflected by an event.
We are aware of some of our thought processes, among others those that bring the self into reality: this is “self-consciousness.” Everything that I perceive, recognize and judge is a part of my self, for my already existing relationship to the perceived indicates that the image of the object is already part of my store
of experience, and that I therefore already have that karma-producing element (the previously-experienced object) “within” me. And my relation to the object is karmically conditioned, as well as karma-producing. It is thus an integral part of my personality.
To the Indian mind it means that we are under an illusion so long as we consider the self as a constant unit that which exists in itself and does not result from the sum total of consciousness factors. Thus the total of what I “know” (even subconsciously) is my self.
The illusion about human personality is fundamental. Where do we get our concept of human personality? As long as we do not get to the root of this question, we fall victim to illusion after illusion.
We watch our conversation partner, recognizing “in him” his personality. We consciously look above all at the eyes, presuming that these organs, designed for seeing, arealso the mirror of the personality. But while we are thus watching the eyes in much the same way as we previously observed the sound of our name, they suddenly do not seem so important any more; in fact, they become insignificant in relationship to the whole personality. The same is true when we observe other single components: mouth, nose, checks, or forehead. Only the sum total of all makes up the personality. We realize that by observing the details we miss the essence. It is as though we were watching the glass rather than the image in the mirror. Then we realize that not even the sum total of all these details gives us the living image of the whole. But what is it?
The human personality is not “in-itsdf,” it only becomes, within us. If we look mechanically at the surface we see nothing but the surface. Our inner being alone, not the eye, can see behind the surface. We have no specific name for this subtle inner organ. Heart, intuition, feeling, soul, inner eye–all these are current expressions which are as familiar as they are vague, although they all express the right thing.
So let us look with nonmechanical eyes behind the surface, then we see the image of the object within ourselves inwardly. “Seeing” is only a small fraction of perceiving which essentially means to melt the (outer) image and the (interior) concept into one: simultaneously to see and co feel. And it is the same way with everything that we perceive with our sense organs. In reality it is not only sense perception, for all senses are only tools, organs of communication.
This, our personality-shaping inner world in its sum total, is atman. Yet the thousand little stones that make up a mosaic are, in their multitude, far from being a picture. Decisive is the manner in which they are put together into a pattern. It is this unity alone that creates the complete impression, not analytical observation; it is the inner perception that is based on something higher than the sum total of the individual pieces.
These countless elements of consciousness are united into the living total personality through prana, which has its source in breath. Thus the spirit, the human essence, is born of breath. And so, in a way, we breathe in the world, and breathe it out in the “form” of the personality thus created. The problem that concerns yoga is the creation of a harmonious relationship between the static personality components (the atman, the mosaic picture) and the dynamic personality (the creative artist’s mind). In Indian terms, this means the harmonious marriage between static Purusha and dynamic Prakriti (shakti), between the human personality and its inherent forces,
(14) When the mind it still, united with the atman, and prana flows through the sushumna then [even the extraordinary] amaroli. vayoli and sahojoli can be reached [that is. to voluntarily reverse the flow of semen].
In other words, there is no limit to the extent of accomplishments.
(15) How can one reach perfection of knowledge [jnana] when the breath is still living [in consciousness' and the mind [as a manifesting force separate from it] has not died? He who can cause prana and mind to become suspended, one through the other, reaches liberation.
(16) Once he knows the secret, how to find the way to the sushumna and how to induce the air to enter it, he should settle down in a suitable place [and not rest] until [the kundalini has reached] the crown of the head [brahmarandhra].
We already know why this is necessary. The chakras, these activity centers of karma, have been penetrated, and since the yogi’s karma has thus been eliminated so that his mind is no longer sullied and led astray by blindness and ignorance, this illuminated mind can now melt with the atman into perfect union. This takes place in the brahmarandhra, in the sahashrara chakra.
(17) Sun and moon cause day and night. The sushumna [however] swallows time. This is a secret.
Here is an odd fact: if you observe the flow of breath for a whole day you will observe that you breathe more intensely at times through the right nostril and at other times through the left; now the right nostril seems stopped up and now the left. It seldom occurs that we breathe evenly through both nostrils. There is always a difference, no matter how slight. This is not due to a cold, but to the fact that the supply of breath through the one nostril has a different effect on the prana than that through the other. Breathing through the right nostril furthers extroversion; through the left, introversion. The breathing apparatus regulates itself automatically, so that through the lack of active elements the left nostril closes up slightly from the inside, causing the breath to flow chiefly through the right, and the active side of the body gets the greater supply. Mental fatigue is mostly preceded by a lengthy period of breathing through the left nostril.
One can (and frequently does) even out the imbalance by intensified one-sided pranayama. But the yogi has another method which, though applied externally, has an internal effect: He puts pressure on the side of the body which is overactive by lying on that side with arm strongly pressed to the body. Or he uses a special tool that he carries with him: a short crutch with a cross beam which he clamps into his armpit, while resting the lower end on the ground where he is sitting. After a few minutes the nostril of the side upon which pressure is being exerted will close up, and with this the field of prana changes over to the other side.
Normally the prana flow automatically changes in a regular rhythm, usually every two hours.
The reference here to the sun and the moon is not, as previously implied, to the source of nectar and its opposite pole in the area of the diaphragm, but to the ida nadi (moon) and the pingala nadi (sun). “Day” means prana supply to the pingala nadi (right nostril) and “night” prana to the ida nadi (left nostril). The cleansing of the nostrils (neti) which is part of the shatkarma (sixfold cleansing process) is designed to prevent an unnatural clogging that can block the natural breathing rhythm.
If prana is to enter sushumna then there must be neither “day” nor “night”; breath must flow precisely evenly through both nostrils. This in turn presupposes an exact balance of active and passive elements. In short, only he who has achieved complete inner equilibrium can have success in kundalini.
(18-23) There are 72,000 nadis in this cage [body]. Sushumna is the central nadi which contains the shabhavi shakti. This has the property of bestowing bliss upon the yogi. All others are then useless. –Guide the prana into the sushumna and kindle the gastric fire and awaken the kundalini. Only when prana fiows through the sushumna wilt there be samadhi. All other methods are futile. When breath is suspended then [discursive] thinking also is suspended. He who has power over his mind can also control prana. [For] the two causes that activate the mind are prana [respiration] and the sources of karma [vasanas, latent tendencies]. Death of one [of these] is the death of the other. When mind is absorbed, breathing subsides: when prana is absorbed in the sushumna [not available to the body] then mind also is absorbed.
The deepest sense of this yoga will be understood only by one who is convinced that from physical process to psychological experience and religious phenomena there is one straight (if usually secret) path, and that none of the three can exist and function by itself. He who is prepared to familiarize himself with what naturally seems to be a strange terminology will find not only confirmation of the most modern knowledge, but the possibility of new insights as well, for the problem of relationship between the inner and outer worlds will always be a
topical one as long as the human race exists. The last word on it can never be expected, for each culture, even each phase of individual life presents new perspectives. It is by the great visionary works of antiquity that we are most deeply touched– we who have become so clever.
(24) Mind and prana are related to each other like milk and water. If the one dries up the other one also dries up. In whatever chakra the prana is concentrated mind becomes fixed, and where the mind is fixed prana is conquered.
The fact that men’s cultural levels differ so greatly is not simply a problem of society; nor does it depend on ambition, or even on intelligence. It is really the chakras that cause stratification in culture.
Genius is the product of the highest development potential of that chakra by which it lives. As long as our mind is not nourished by that same chakra we only comprehend the lower levels. At the highest level our understanding is no longer limited. There we need no intellectual hints; we perceive the spirit everywhere, even in silence.
The chakra determines whatever level of development we are on, and this level determines the measure of our consciousness.
(25-27) The one is dependent on the other. They [mind and prana] act in unison. Suspension of one causes suspension of the other. Without intervention the senses [the indriyas] become victorious. If they [mind and prana] are suspended there is liberation [moksha]. The nature of mind is like mercury: in ceaseless motion. When both are made motionless what on earth cannot be accomplished? Oh Parvati! Mercury is held fast and prana steady! Now all diseases are conquered and it is possible to rise into the air.
Alchemy and magic–or only kindred symbols? Mercury is the symbolic square of the earth, the mulandhara chakra. The alchemical process represents the rising to the second chakra, svadhisthana. He who transcends the three lowest centers attains the fourth chakra, anahata, the vibration domain of the air. “He rises into the air.” That is, he ultimately rises above the worldly spheres of earth, water and fire, into higher regions. As long as the spirit is not free from the lower spheres, it is not “held fast.”
(28) When mind is held fast, prana is also held fast, as is the bindu in which the sattva element of the body is established.
In the first sloka of Part Four we translated the word bindu as “sense,” (that is, the principle of intelligence). However, the word is so ambiguous that this translation is just a stopgap. Bindu may stand for: drop, period, zero, seed, the void. These appear to be quite different concepts, and one asks how the translator can add a sixth. Here we get a glimpse of the depth of the Sanskrit language, for each of these concepts has enormous significance.
Period (dot). It does not stand like a tombstone at the end of a Sanskrit sentence, but is the sign for vocal vivification. The dot above the consonant (which is always connected with a vowel) changes a dull ka into a rich kam or kang, a ta into tarn or tang, pa into pam, and so on, through all the consonants. It adds vibration to the dull sound. It is especially significant that it raises o from the chest vibration to the 0m sound in the head, the higher sphere. Thus it raises the physical sound to the chakra of consciousness, the ajna chakra between the eyebrows, and gives it meaning. In this way, the dot becomes the symbol for “sense.”
The zero. Just as the dot is both a “nothing” and the symbol for sense, so is zero. By itself it is a symbol of no-thing. Added to a figure it increases its value tenfold. It gives the figure a value, a value that the figure by itself possesses only potentially. It catalyzes something essential without possessing a tangible value of its own.
The seed. Only when it falls upon fertile ground can it sprout. Like the dot, like the zero. And here the latent value is especially clear.
The void. Here again it is the meaning that makes emptiness purposeful.
Thirty spokes unite around the nave. The void between them makes them useful as a wheel. We shape a pot from day.
Its usefulness depends upon the void that clay surrounds. The house is made of walls, windows and doors. The void between the walls makes it a habitation. We need what is; What-is-not makes it useful. Lao-tzu, Too Te Ching II
Now it should be clear why bindu means “sense.” The sattva principle in which the “sense” is founded is fulfilled purity in the saint, who is all sattva.
(29-30) Dissolution [laya] depends on nada. Laya produces prana. Prana is the lord of the mind [mano]; mind is the lord of the senses [indriyas]. When mind is absorbed in itself it is called moksha [liberation]. Call it this or that; when mind and prana are absorbed in each other the immeasurable joy of samadhi ensues.
We enter a church and feel the sattva element that governs the lofty sacred room. Something like a shiver of enchantment pene-
trates us. It is bindu that (for a moment) transfigures us. We know that it has to do with the divine, to which this place is dedicated. We know it, but the inner concept of this “divine” is more than the word; it is that which speaks within us, nada. Let us recognize this: not the specific term “the divine” exercises its power, but the “inner something” that vibrates with this concept. Then the concept as such, with its thought content, dissolves (laya), and what remains is the experience of the spirit. This phrase, “experience of the spirit,” already contains the duality: prana (experience) and spirit.
So much for our everyday experience. For the yogi approaching samadhi, the process is reversed: he has recognized the meaningful germ, bindu, within himself, and knows that the divine vibrations in him were merely released by the sattva element in the outside stimulation.
Therefore, like the ancient master mystics, he turns inward and finds liberation in detachment from the releasing element. For liberation means “nothing but” freedom from exterior influences
Hatha Yoga Pradeepika of Svatmarama
THE SHAMBHAVI MUDRA AND THE INNER LIGHT
(35) The Vedas, the Shastras and the Puranas are like prostitutes [attainable to all]. The shambhavi mudra, however, is like a chaste woman, carefully guarded.
Wisdom was never secret in the Orient Secret areonly the paths to wisdom.
The intellectually created world of concepts has been dissolved. Now let’s return to the man who created a new world by the two levels of vibration (light and sound), that interior world of a higher life, which requires the stronger flame, the flame which he learned to fan by khecari mudra. Dissolution is samadhi; re-creation is shambhavi mudra, work with the sound symbol (mantra) and the image symbol (yantra), the source of inner light.
(36) Shambhavi mudra consists in fixing the mind inwardly [on any one of the chakras], and fixing the eyes without blinking on an external object. This mudra is left secret by the Vedas and Shastras.
What does the yogi do at this stage of training? How does he practice?
He rises at 4:00 a.m., the hour of Brahma, cleans his breathing organs and sits down on bis tiger skin.6 After the introductory practices (such as the nadi purification) he venerates the three aspects of his sadhana (his personal deity): Keshava, Narayana, and Madhava as the three aspects of Vishnu; or Siva, Ganesh, and Bala as aspects of Siva. Then follows a complicated fivefold introductory ritual which leads him to his main practice, the shambhavi mudra. This takes the following course: First he speaks his mantra, clearly and audibly, in expression and intonation exactly as he has learned it from his guru, and retains the sound in his ear.
We will not analyze the sound in the ear here (sec Chapter 15), but will concern ourselves merely with the question of what happens to this sound. The yogi must imagine that the sound is coming from one of the chakras. (The chakra varies according to his sadhana and his state of development.) And this sound is conceived of as so encompassing that it not only vibrates in the given chakra but is passed on–and this is the roost important process–from chakra to chakra.
The mantra consists of various sound elements, each of which has a different function to fulfill. The introduction usually consists of the pranava 0m, while the core, the shakti mantra, is a sound which influences the kundalini by its vibration struc-ture. The framework of the mantra is tuned in part to the respective chakra; in part it contains other activating vibrations.
At the same time, if the yogi is not fully in possession of the yantra inwardly, he fastens his gaze upon the form symbol, the yantra, and imagines that this is the chakra concerned, the mantra that sounds within. For the deity, the chakra, the mantra, and the yantra, are one as name, image, projection, and
6. Only yogis who lead a strictly celibate life use tiger skin. The others use antelope skin. The reason for this is the difference in the power of the respective skins to isolate earth magnetism.
scat of the deity. The deity reposes in the chakra, the yantra is the expression of the divinity and of the chacra, the mantra synchronizes with the vibration level of the chakra, fashions the name of the deity, and is analogous to the yantra.
Add to this the proscribed color scale of the emanation of divine light and there is little room left for distracting thoughts. Many Indian and Tibetan texts which devote so much space to the description of the divine manifestations serve the yogi solely as means to reach the perfection of shambhavi mudra.
(37) It if rightfully called thambhavi mudra, when mind and prana are absorbed by the object, when the eyes become rigid in the contemplation of the object. Once this state has been reached by the grace of the guru [who gives the binding yantra as object], everything perceived becomes a manifestation of the great Shambu (Siva) and is thus beyond emptiness and not-emptiness.
Everything is Siva: everything is kala (ligfit-waves, form, yantra, manifestation of the divine image in all its forms), nada (sound waves, sound) mantra, divine name in all its forms), and bindu (meaning, the divine) and the logos common to both the other spheres).
Before getting to the central point of this chapter we have to answer a question. The culminating point of Part Three was khecari mudra (the upcurled tongue) whereby the life process was intensified by the fanning of the inner fire, the middle plane of vibration. In what relation does the inner fire stand to shambhavi mudra?
(38) Shambhavi mudra and khecari mudra, although they differ in the position of the eyes and the point of concentration, are one in that they bring about the state of bliss in the concentrated consciousness of the mind absorbed in atman.
The position of the eyes corresponds to the direction of concentration. In khecari roudra the point lies between the eyebrows from where the nectar flows; in shambhavi mudra it is the heart chakra, and therefore the eyes are directed that way, i.e. to the tip of the nose. But this is not the essential difference, although the real difference may be suggested by the direction of the eyes. Decisive, rather, is the fact that khecari mudra acti-vates the middle plane of vibrations, whereas in shambhavi mudra the highest and the lowest planes are affected.
In the region of heat animal life manifests, while there is little influence of the logos (bindu). However, in the region of kala (the upper zone of vibration, light) and nada (the lower zone, sound) there is present “the golden germ,” bindu in its plenitude. Thus the step from khecari mudra to shambhavi mudra means a deepening of meditation and extension of possibilities,
Let us consider the form symbol in all its varied aspects: The cross in Christianity, the half-moon in Islam, the star in Judaism. The yantra has a form that we perceive and encompass with our eyes; this is the coarse aspect. It also contains a “light” that we perceive through our heart; this is the finer aspect, which we will presently discuss; and finally the yantra contains a sense (meaning, logos), the bindu, the point in which yantra, mantra, chakra, and the divine unite.
This light, although it has its subtler aspect, should not be considered mystical. It is first of all something that appears quite naturally. The light that emanates from the cross has more radiance for the Christian than for the Muslim, while the light of the half-moon is considerably more radiant for the Muslim than for the Christian. For these symbols have no radi-
ance in themselves. Radiance only unfolds in the heart of the devotee through his devotion, and even differs-according to the intensity of the devotion.
The “inner light” does not imply an immanent meaning for the image symbol, but has a purely emotional value. It is not the meaning that is essential, but the kind of mood that it spontaneously induces.
(39-40) Direct your [inner] gaze upon “light” by slightly raising the eyebrows. Then perform shambhavi mudra as you have learned it. This induces samadhi. –Some confuse themselves by the alluring promises of the shastras and tantras, others by the Vedic Karmas, and still others by logic. None of them recognizes the real value of this mudra, by the aid of which one can cross the ocean of existence.
One hazard which is more or less inherent in all religions is that they promise more to the devotee than he will be able to experience, unless he pursues his goal with extraordinary zeal. Because the Buddha did not make such exalted promises in regard to the divine. Buddhism has often been accused of being atheistic. But it is perhaps the greatest psycho-religious deed of the Buddha that, rather than promising bliss in the heavenly realms, he gave everything man needs to reach the goal of true religion, without obstructing the path with preconceived fantasies. God cannot be “spoken.” He can only be experienced, and that is very different from anything projected through words. All too often a devotee is said to have “experienced God,” when actually he has only seen the preconceived image of his own fantasy.
Mantra as divine name and yantra as divine form leave no room for fantasy. And thus these active forces of realization, to which even the physical sometimes submit, can be directed without hindrance on their way. For this path demands the whole man and does not permit any one force to deviate. No-body has ever reached a high goal through dreaming alone.
(41) With half-closed eyes focused on the tip of the nose, the mind steadily fastened [on its object], and the active prana current of the ida and pingala nadis suspended [by guiding it into the sushumna], thus the yogi reaches the slate of realization of Truth in the form of a radiating light which is the source of all things, and the highest objective to be reached. What higher state is there that he might expect?
“In the form of radiating light.” does this mean that the divine image here becomes the physically perceptible “radiating light”? Yes, indeed. Experienced mystics have testified that in their deepest concentration a radiating brilliant light appears before their eyes. Here the same phenomena are evidently being described. What is happening?
It is not the object perceived through the senses that radiates, nor is it radiance from the heavenly spheres. A new organ of perception, so to speak, opens up through which the finer nature of the contemplated object is perceived. This organ has nothing to do with the senses. It lies in the heart chakra. It is so extremely subtle that the corporeality of the object is too coarse to be perceived by it, while it reacts directly to the finer nature, the light) which is directly susceptible to emotional values. He who faces this stage of cognition uncritically without
7. Philo fudaeus: “. . . and the divine light precipitated itself like a flood upon the soul, and it is blindcd by its radiance.” Plotinui: “The vision flooded the seeker’s eyes with light, but he sees nothing else, the light is the vision.” Jakob Boehme: “Finally the gates of eternity opened; I penetrated to the inmost being and a wonderful light radiated in my soul. It was a light that did not at all fit the person that I have been.”
recognizing its psycho-physical nature inevitably falls into the error of taking the luminous image as something self-existing. He believes that God has revealed himself to him in light, as it is often said, whereas he himself has only developed the capacity to recognize the divine omnipresence for the perception of which the average man has no developed organ. It is not that God has revealed himself to him, but that be has learned to cognize the Divine. A small but essential difference. The emotional value (light) of the Divine remains the same, but the devotee is now in a position to experience it directly.
At present everything connected with this subtle organ and the “light” is, as far as science is concerned, a matter of faith, just as the theory of the atom put forth by the Vaisheshika school of Indian philosophy was a question of faith until a few decades ago. The “revelation of the atom” was not a work of divine grace but of mathematics and of the electronic microscope; of refined observation. What was at that time divine in the atom still is today. And when some day the subtler organ in the heart chakra is recognized with the aid of a still subtler scientific tool, then the West will be more tolerant of the statements of yogis and mystics and possibly even surpass them. But the divine aspect will in no way be changed. Only one will perhaps accord it a place in the system of fonnulae, perhaps as zero, perhaps as bindu, perhaps as logos. Then one could also gain scientific knowledge from the Bible, for there it says: “In the beginning was the logos (bindu) …. and the logos (bindu) was God” (John I.I). “That was the true light that lighteth every man who cometh into the world” (Jobn 1.9).
(42) Do not worship the lingam, neither by day nor by night. Only when day and night have been transcended should the lingam be worshipped–unceasingly.
This important sloka throws a significant light upon the whole of Hindu religiosity.
The lingam, the much disputed phallic symbol of the Sivaites, stands for this subtler aspect of all things, for the divine light; the primeval lingam consisted of fire. This is what is meant by the previous warning, not to mistake the radiant light for the manifestation of the God.
“Neither by day nor by night.” We remember that ida and pingala stand for sun and moon, thus for day and night. Day and night are overcome as soon as the two prana currents are united in the sushumna, i.e. in samadhi. Only now is devotion real devotion and thus it says in the Kulamava Tantra: “Puja [devotion] lasts only as long as saroadhi lasts.”
Day and night are also the signs of time, which is conquered in samadhi. Everything that occurs in time belongs to worldly consciousness, to the image-forming, concept-bound way of thinking.
A worship that venerates the lingam as a concept is not the kind of devotion that is required for deep results, deep experience. The Indian does not make an image of his God for himself. This statement, which seems so paradoxical in view of the inexhaustible Hindu pantheon, actually finds its confirmation here. For all the images of deides are nothing but representations of various aspects of manifesting divine powers–with the exception of Brahman, who is unrepresentable. Now some technical remarks:
(43-50) When prana flows naturally through the two nadis then there is no obstacle to khecari mudra. This is beyond doubt. –When the prana current enters the sushumna between ida and pingala then khecari mudra begins to become meaningful. –Between ida and pingala there is an unsupplied [i.e., with prana] space. It is there where the tongue performs khecari mudra. –The khechari mudra in which the nectar from the “moon” is collected stands in high esteem with Siva [who is kala, nada and bindu]. The incomparable, divine sushumna is blocked off by the inverted tongue. –The sushumna will also be closed when the prana current is suspended [by entering the sushumna]. This is the perfect khecari mudra that leads to samadhi [unmani, mindlessness]. –Between the eyebrows is the seat of Siva [of higher consciousness]. There conceptional thinking is absorbed. This state is samadhi [turiya] where death has no access. –One should practice khecari mudra until the state of samadhi [Yoga nidra. Yoga sleep] is achieved. He who succeeds in this will conquer death. –After mind has been freed from clinging [withdrawn from conceptualizing objects] it should not produce further thoughts. Then it resembles an empty pot surrounded and filled with space [akasha, ether].
But what has happened to yantra arid mantra? Why are we going back to Part Three?
Once the yogi has reached the fourth stage, he is all too apt to forget the technical requirements, which can lead him into the greatest difficulties. Again and again it must be emphasized: on the highest level of consciousness the inner fire must burn fiercely if the prana flow is not to cease (and with it the yogi’s life). But the fire will only blaze when the flow of nectar is deviated, i.e. through khecari mudra. Thus once again high praise is bestowed on this mudra.
If no mention is made here of the shambhavi mudra, of mantras and yantras, we must not forget that these are inner events, while khecari mudra is a technical process. One cannot mix two fundamentally different concepts. Shambhavi mudra becomes significant only when khecari roudra has prepared the conditions for it and constantly renews them.
(51) When the outer breath ceases, the inner breath [prana production] also ceases. Prana current and mind current become passive when they reach their center of activity.
Human spirit is impelled only as long as it has a goal before its eyes. Once the goal is reached, the spirit remains there for a certain time. This period of abiding is usually the reason for man’s striving at all. An artist often searches for the conflict of suffering in order to bring it into unity by resolving it in his work. To be “desirelessly happy” is possible only when an urgent desire is fulfilled, and relaxation thus induced–usually the calm before the storm of new tensions.
When the mind of the yogi returns to its own Self after its everyday sense-related activities it is relaxed, for with the subsiding breath during practice the active mind which lives from prana subsides as well.
The prana he needs is in the sushumna and is kept active there by the blazing flame of life. All life is concentrated there.
(52) When one thus practices control of breath day and night, the prana becomes more passive in the course of time and mind is naturally compelled to follow the same course.
For as soon as the prana becomes passive it unfolds its highest effectiveness in the sushumna; and as soon as mind is passive the real nature of the world of appearances is recognized.
(53) When the body is thus bathed in the nectar stream of the moon it becomes strong and hardy.
In other words, when the fire is burning fiercely enough there is no danger to life and limb.
(54) Place the mind in the shakti, [the manifesting power of nature, kundalini] and the shakti [as "lighf''] in the mind through meditation; then mind and shakti become one. Awa\en the shakti by listening to the mind “with ear in heart” and thus strive for the highest goal of samadhi.
To listen “with ear in heart” is the most crucial factor in the whole process of meditation. This is the true insight, the prerequisite of all Eastern methods of spiritual training. Nothing else is of as such decisive importance from the first step to self-realization up to the arousing of kundalini, the inner light on the highest level.
(55-56) The I [atman] alt in [empty] space, and empty the I (of conceptual being). When thus everything is empty [without lime and space] then the [dynamic] intellect hoi subsided. [Thus the yogi is] empty within and without like an empty pot in space [akasha, ether], and also filed within and without like a pot in the ocean.
A pertinent simile! An empty pot at the bottom of the ocean. Water inside and out. Is the pot empty or full? Empty yet full; full yet empty. He who has inwardly understood this simile has comprehended the essence of raja yoga. For it is emptiness– though hard to grasp–which is the decisive factor in samadhi. But this is in no way a mortified spirit but a spirit that has been calmed. What this means, only he can understand whose mind has been completely absorbed in a great experience at least once.
(57-58) He should not think of external things; all personal thoughts he should give up also: abandon all subjective and objective thoughts. –The external universe [in its conceptual diversity] is a creation of our mind; so also is the world of imagination. When the idea has been abandoned that these projections of thought are permanent and mind is concentrated on that which is without change, oh Ram, eternal and certain peace has been reached.
(59) Mind concentrated on the atman becomes one with it like camphor with the flame, like salt with the water of the ocean.
Then there is no I of which thought is aware, for I and thought have been absorbed into each other, because thinking is no longer attached to the object or concept but experiences purely the contemplative state. It is the absorbed observer of a great game in which it participates, and which is no longer a strange event to be analyzed and criticized.
(60) Mind and object of contemplation have been absorbed in each other so that there is no longer any duality.
The great symbol of this union is the union in love of man and woman. Therefore the Upanisbads say: “The atman is as great as man and woman in close embrace.” The bliss that ensues is neither I nor you, but the melting together of I and you in the mutual experience of the paramatman, the divine Self that is inherent in all that is created.
(61-64) The animate and the inanimate universe is a creation of the mind. in samadhi there is only oneness. When all sense perceptions are suspended there remains only the Absolute. –The great ancient seers experienced these various paths to samadhi, then taught them to others. –Salutations to the su-shumna, to the nectar-flow of the moon, to samadhi, and to [the great cit Shakti], the power of absolute knowledge.
Hatha Yoga Pradeepika of Svatmarama
NADA, THE INNER SOUND
The concept of prayer is well known. Here, however, we are not concerned with prayer but with mantra, though a certain relationship does exist between the two. Prayer is mostly expressed in the spontaneous, freely-chosen words of the devotee, while the mantra is bound not only in its sound but also in its intonation. In prayer the divinity is importuned; in mantra it is expressed. The prayer goes to the divinity; the mantra is an essential attribute of the divine, its “name.” The prayer is a message bearer; the mantra is itself the message. The prayer is born in the mind; the mantra does not originate in the mind but it goes to the mind. Prayer contains the tendency that becomes clearly expressed in the mantra.
For example: every Christian prayer closes with an “Amen.” “Amen” is in itself completely neutral until it is preceded by a prayer. In that case, “Amen” is the expression of all that the prayer implies. “Amen” is what makes a prayer a prayer; in fact it is the real prayer. The words that preceded it place it mentally and spiritually. “Amen” is the articulate power-potential of the divinity, the mantra. The mantra (in this example “Amen”) is pure sattva principle. Everybody who enters a church, prays, participates in a ritual, or contemplates a sacred symbol experiences this sattva principle. Everything non-sattvic
has a disturbing influence and is immediately conspicuous. Thus we go to church festively dressed so as to attract the full measure of sattvic vibrations.
Just as the inward light is kindled by the image symbol, so also through the sound symbol the inner sound is awakened, the nada, the most subtle aspect of the mantra, the sound in the “ear of the heart.”
(65) I now shall describe the practice of nada, as has been proclaimed by Gorakshanath, and as it is accepted even by those who are unable to realize Truth because they have not studied the shastras.
It is “the dissolution of image and concept” (laya) in a spontaneous experience which has from time immemorial been considered the highest spiritual process. It is also the goal of the highest yoga, and all paths of yoga culminate in laya.
(66) Lord Siva has shown innumerable paths to laya, but it seems to me that the practice of nada is the best of them all.
The reason for this is perhaps the fact that it seems easier to deal with the sound symbol than with the image, and that the inner sound is easier to produce than the inward light. The time has now come for the yogi to practice daily:
(67) He seats himself in siddhasana and assumes shambhavi mudra, listening to the inner sound that rings in his right ear,
And why not in the left car? Dakshina means “right” but also “good, propitious, capable.” So it really says here “in the true ear,” and this is the “car of the heart.”
(68) Close ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, then you will distinctly hear a clear sound in the sushumna, which has been purified by pranayama.
The reader will perhaps feel impelled to make an experiment and to listen inwardly. Futile effort! He will hear nothing like this “sound.” Why?
Would the yogi be compelled to go through three stages of hard practice if he only needs to close up his ears in order to perceive the inner sound? Are our nadis pure, is the flame, the source of higher life, ablaze? Is the symbol of the divine rooted in our being? Do we fulfill even the minimal requisites of deep religious devotion? Answer these questions before trying to listen to that which has from time immemorial been the mystic’s most profound experience of God.
(69) All yoga practices contain four stages: introduction [aram-bha]. transition [ghata], attainment [paricaya], and perfection [nishpatti].
This is valid for yoga in general, for the individual systems as shown by the division of our text, as well as for each specific practice; in fact for all things in life. There is great psychological insight in this sentence. May we learn that the third step, the attainment, is not the last.
(70-71) In the first stage [arambhavastha], when the heart chakra [brahma granthi] is pierced, we hear tinging sounds ti^e jewels in the space of the heart in the center of the body. As soon as these sounds become audible in the [interior] void, the yogi becomes god-like, radiant, healthy and fragrant. His heart becomes the void.
The sound which in the region of the throat was still sound, has now penetrated to the heart and there meets prana. A feeling rises like a deep happy breath and fills the heart, and the inner sound of the mantra falls like a golden dewdrop on this budding happiness. Everything that was beneficial on the technical path of the asanas is achieved in one moment of real experience, for:
(72) In the second stage prana and nada become one, and [this one] enter[s] the middle [heart] chakra. The asanas become effective now and divine wisdom arises.
Union is accomplished and the chalice with its golden pearl– that pearl which will later expand into a whole new world– extends upward toward higher spheres. What does it mean to grow upward? Why should we raise a lower sphere rather than simply go from the lower sphere into the higher?
We remember that the inner sound of the mantra is to emanate from one of the chakras. The sound then takes on the vibration frequency of the respective chakra; it becomes the principle that the chakra represents.
In order not to underestimate the value of this practice, we must remember an earlier practice that related to the physical aspect of sound, the audible sound in bhramari kumbhaka. (Part Two, 67) After the nadis were purified, the sound of a humming bee was produced. This happened, and the sound grew to a rumbling roar that made the world tremble. It was one of the first great experiences of hatha yoga.
At that time we knew no more than what we heard. Now, this impressive sound, created with the aid of the personal mantra, is not projected into space, but directed inward to a chakra; and this is our present situation,
(73) When the vishnu granthi in the throat is pierced [by the vibrations] it is a sign that divine bliss [brahma ananda] will follow. In the sound box of the throat chakra [ati shunyata] there a complex sound arises, like that of a big drum.
This is the subtler aspect of the rumbling and roaring that we came to know in the bhramari kumbhaka, the effect of which is here even more impressive.
(74) On the third stage a sound like that of a mardala [a different kind of drum] is perceived, in the space between the eyebrows. With this the vibrations enter into the great void [maha shunyata, i.e. sushumna], the seat of all the siddhis.
This too we have encountered in its gross physical form in the bhramari kumbhaka, but since now the sound is not produced by the vocal cords it is purely mental and that means more profound. It is not easy to find an example of this in our arsenal of religious experience) as a certain inner devotion and prayer are prerequisites. Still even the sober modern man will be no stranger to experiences under the spell of music.
“Arise!” the angel calls out to Mohammed in the desert, and the sound symbol of the warning angel’s voice is the sound of bells, and thus prayer, or, on a higher level, revelation, becomes passionate joy. The prescient sound of bells is the preliminary to the revelation of the angel; prayer is the ecstatic revelation. Prayer lives in the heart chakra, revelation in the throat chakra.
(75) Having overcome the blissful slate of the mind he experiences the happiness that arises from cognition of the atman. Then he is delivered of all faults, pains, old age, disease, hunger, and tiredness.
Greater than happiness is equanimity. Happiness is the goal of man, equanimity is the divine goal. Immutable are the gods
alone. Humanity swings like a pendulum between desire for happiness and enjoyment of happiness. He who voluntarily renounces his happiness and nevertheless remains happy can no longer be measured by human standards (although not always by divine ones either).
(76) After the vibration has pierced the last k(not [the agna chakra], the forehead’s center [of consciousness], it rises to the divine place. With this the fourth stage sets in, where one hears the sound of the flute and the vina.
Let us stop analyzing. Our experience does not suffice to understand the meaning of the sound of the flute of Krishna, or the vina of the divine messenger, Narada. Those who have experienced this high state have become teachers from whose lips flowed the Vedas, the Eddas, the Avestas, the Sermon of the Mount, the Koran. The sounds now grow ever more subtle, yet more powerful. They are sounds that proclaim the Eternal Wisdom of God, the power of Ultimate Truth undisturbed and unimpeded by the word. Nothing is understood, everything known. The gates of the Kingdom of Heaven fly open, the eternal light is manifest) the music of the spheres rings out.
(77-83) When the mind becomes unified, this is raja yoga. The yogi, now master of creation and destruction, becomes one with God. –Whether or not you call it liberation, here is eternal bliss. The bliss of dissolution [laya] is obtained only through raja yoga. –There are many who are merely hatha yogins, without the k(nowledge of raja yoga. They are simple practi-cers who will never reap the [real] fruits of their efforts. –1 believe that concentration on the space between the eyebrows is the best way to reach samadhi in a short time. For those of small intellect this is the easiest means to attain to raja yoga.
The state of dissolution [laya] arising from the [inner sound] nada creates this spontaneous experience. –[All] yogis who have reached the state of samadhi through this concentration on nada have experienced a bliss in their hearts that surpasses all description and can be known only by a god. –The silent ascetic, having closed his ears, listens [attentively] to the sound in his heart until he attains the state of oneness with all [samadhi]. –The power of inner sound gradually surpasses the external sounds. Thus the yogi can overcome the weakness of the mind and reach his goal in 15 days.
The power of the internal sound, its meaning as an audible designation of our personality, is a thousand times stronger than the logical combination of the sounds of letters which has really no meaning at all. The pronouncing of the name-word is purely inner sound.
Now the mantra is that name which is the common property of both the jivatman and the paramatman (the self and the Self).
At first it is separateness that impinges upon our ears. There is still an I and a Thou, the one who perceives and the one who is perceived: the dynamic mind is active. In the inner sense, however, all separative tendencies, all sound-conditioned differentiations cease according to the degree of their inner refinement, i.e. the degree to which they sink and become one with the static mind. The mantra becomes the true name.
At the beginning of an acquaintance a name only tells us who the person is. Later on it stands for the sum total of what the person is, what we have experienced with that person. The name then does not merely speak of the “Thou,” but equally of the “I” and its relationship to “Thou.”
(84-85) During the initial stage of practice various strong sounds are audible, but as progress is made they become more and more refined. –At first they sound like the roaring of the ocean or like thunder, like kettle drums, or trumpets. Then they become more and more subtle until they sound like flutes and harps, like the humming of bees. In this way one hears them in the center of the body.
In Bhramari kumbhaka the yogi’s ears may ring. In shambhavi mudra his physical ears are deaf, but the ear in the heart hears the fortissimo of inner prayer. So Lao-tzu says:
The multiple colors blind the eyes The multiple sounds deafen the ear
Therefore the sage cultivates his person And does not crave to see.
Too Te Ching. 12
(87-89) Even as the loud sounds [still] ring out, one should concentrate on the subtle sound [in the heart]. –One may well let the attention swing between these two sounds, but the mind should never be allowed to wander to external objects. –The attention turns naturally to the sound that has the strongest attraction.
Do not become impatient! If you are again and again captivated by the roaring sound in the physical car then the watchword is practice and wait. Maturation brings perfection. Tone is outside, the ringing sound is inward. The tone releases the ringing sound, and that sound is fuller and purer than any that the ear can absorb. Consciousness directs itself to where it can expect the ripest fruits. No need here for thought. Who would ever comprehend music with the intellect? The mind resembles the bee, for:
(90) Just as the bee who drinks the flower’s honey is not concerned with its scent, so also the mind, when absorbed in sound, does not care about the pleasure-bound senses.
The scent attracts the bee who forgets it while sucking the honey. The senses attract consciousness which, in nada, the experience beyond the senses, forgets them.
(91-92) The sharp iron prong of nada can effectively curb the [elephant] mind when it wants to gambol in the pleasure garden of the sense-objects. –When the mind has been divested of its fickle nature and has been fettered by the ropes of the inner sound, then it reaches the highest state of concentration and remains still, like a bird that has lost its wings.
(93) He who wishes to reach the mastery of yoga should renounce all his [restless] thoughts and practice with carefully concentrated mind the dissolution [of the world of senses] in nada laya.
In a concert, in the cathedral or in the poet’s word, the “sound” is always there where an immortal spirit has dipped into the deepest sources of life.
(94) The inner sound [the bindu] is like a trap to capture the gazelle [the mind]; like a hunter, it kills the animal [conceptual thought].
Every word of every language has this inner sound. We hear it readily in the words of our own language which are to us more than sheer letter formations. But when we want to learn a foreign language–and the mantra in a sense belongs to a foreign language–then we have to start with the audible sound
until one fine day the inner sound of the new words manifests itself. Conceptual thought then becomes superfluous. As long as one has to think about a foreign word, the inner sound is missing. We have adopted many “foreign words” whose inner sounds we have learned to hear and that have a meaning for us that cannot be expressed in our own language. The Japanese word “harakiri” tells us more than the word “suicide,” the Chinese word “kowtow” more than the words “to bow.” These are not words that stand for something; they have become iden-tical with clearly defined concepts.
(9!-96) The inner sound is like a bolt on the stable door that keeps the horse [conceptual thinking] from roaming about, Therefore the yogi should daily practice concentration on this nada. –Mercury distilled with sulphur becomet solid and divested of its active nature. It becomes capable of rising into the air. Similarly, the mind it made steady by the influence of nada and becomes united with the all-pervading Brahman.
Brahman is 0m (Aurn), and this is kala, nada, and bindu; Siva is the aspect of Brahman as destroyer. He who destroys concepts and liberates the Absolute. Siva, the dark aspect of Brahman, appears terrifying only to those who are afraid they will lose the world of concept, not suspecting that beyond this world there is eternity.
(97) When the mind [free of concepts] comes to know, it does not run toward the ringing sound [in the physical ear] like a [curious] serpent.
This is the famous characteristic of the wise man: lack of curiosity, because he experiences greater things within himself. Only he who is not self-sufficient seeks fulfillment in things. He who is inwardly poor seeks wealth in the relative world.*
(98-99) The fire that burns a piece of wood dies out when the wood has been consumed. So also the mind when it remains concentrated on nadam (and does not search for new fuel) gets absorbed in it. –When the fourfold mind (antakharana) has been attracted by the sound of bells etc., like a gazelle, a skillful archer can hit it with his arrow.
The Upanishad says: “Prana is the bow, atman the arrow, Brahman the target. He who carefully aims at the target becomes one with it.” Atman and Brahman become one.
(100-102) The absolute consciousness [caitanya] cognizes the nada-sound in the heart while the antakharana [mind] becomes one with caitanya. When this has happened in samadhi [para-vairagya] all modifications dissolve and become abstract thought. This is the pure atman, free from all external adjuncts [upadhis]. –Space [akasha] exists only as long as the sound is heard [by the physical ear]. In soundlessness atman and Brahman are one [paramatman]. Whatever is manifested as sound [in the heart or in the ear] is a power of nature [shakti]. The state of dissolution [laya] of conceptual thought is beyond all form. It is divine [paramesvara].
As we have now ascertained, there is no real difference between the “inner light” (kala) as described in the previous chapter and the inner sound (nada) because in essence they are united by
*This is the only case where Ricker’s translation deviates from the literal translation of the text, which reads: “The mind is like a serpent; forget* ting all its unsteadiness by hearing the nada, it does not run away anywhere” (Pancham Sinh, of. dt„ p. 164). –Trans.
bindu, the sense. All three powers (kala, nada and bindu) in absolute form are Siva; in their active power they are shakti. Siva and Shakti are one as the inseparable cosmic lovers: energy and matter are one as source of the world.
Our imaginary human creator now has everything that he needs: energy and matter in all their aspects. The gross material aspect as sound and light; the subtle aspect as inner sound and inner radiance; the causal aspect as the divine experience of samadhi where there is no longer any difference between the three realms, where they once more are what they have eternally been: Siva, the aspect of dissolution of Brahaman.
(103) All hatha yoga practices serve only for the attainment of raja yoga. He who is accomplished in raja yoga overcomes death.
To “overcome death” does not mean to become immortal, for what is the body? It means power over all that which escapes consciousness at the time of death. Samadhi is more closely related to death than sleep. He who has reached the inner vision of samadhi will meet death with clear understanding of what awaits him. He has control over the state after death and the way to rebirth.
(104-114) Mind is the seed, pranayama the soil, dispassion [vairagya] the water. Out of these three grows the tree that fulfills all wishes. –Through assiduous practice of concentration on nada, all sins are destroyed, and mind and prana become dissolved in absolute consciousness [niranjana, the absolutely spotless, devoid of all gunas]. –During samadhi [unmani avastha, the mindless state] the [material] body becomes like a log. The sound of the conch and of the big drum pass by his [physical] ear [for the ear in his heart is tuned to subtler sounds]. –The yogi is free from all states [avasthas, conditioned states], from all thoughts. He is like one dead. And yet he is master of death, of his fate, and his enemies. His senses have died away; he (nows not himself or others. He is one who it liberated in this lifetime [jivanmukta], when his mind is neither awake nor asleep, and when he is free from remembering and forgetting. He does not live, and yet he is not dead. –He is impervious to heat and cold, to pain and bliss, to honor and insult. –He seems to be sleeping, and yet he is awake. inhalation and exhalation have subsided. [He is in jagra avastha.] –Weapons cannot harm him [i.e., his now manifest real being], no human power can overcome him. He is beyond curses [through mantra] and charms [yantra]. –But as long as prana does not enter the sushumna and reach its highest goal at the crown of the head [the bramaradhra], as long as the absolute is not manifested in samadhi, [as long as the bindu does not come under control by restraint of breath,] as long as the I does not become one with the it, so long are those who talk about dissolution in Brahman mere babblers and prevaricators.
End of Hatha Yoga Pradeepika
(My humble salutations to Swamyjis , Philosophic Scholars, Knowledge seekers for the collection)