Hatha-Pradîpikâ by Gharote and Devnath

M. L. Gharote and Parimal Devnath, eds. Hathapradîpikâ of Svâtmârâma (10 Chapters), With Yogaprakâsikâ Commentary by Balakrsna. Lonavla, India: The Lonavla Yoga Institute, 2001. Paperback. xxxiv + 364 pages.

The Hatha-Yoga-Pradîpikâ—or more precisely the Hatha-Pradîpikâ—is an influential fourteenth-century manual on Hatha-Yoga. Until now, the full text of this important work was not available. Most editions contain four or five chapters only, though it was known that the original The Hatha-Yoga-Pradîpikâ—or more precisely the Hatha-Pradîpikâ contained ten chapters. Dr. Gharote and P. Devnath succeeded in identifying a manuscript in the Maharaja Mansingh Library of Jodhpur that has all ten chapters, as well as a commentary entitled Yoga- Prakâshikâ by Bâlakrishna.

Dr. Gharote was a disciple of Swami Kuvalayananda, who founded Kaivalyadhama in Lonavla in 1924. After the venerable swami’s death, Dr. Gharote served in various capacities at Kaivalyadhama, including principal of the G. S. College of Yoga. Uuntil his death in 2005, Dr. Gharote served as the director of the Lonavla Yoga Institute.

Parimal Devnath, M.A., worked as a researcher at Kaivalyadhama for seventeen years before joining Dr. Gharote’s institute.

The text edited and translated by this team contains a total of 643 stanzas as opposed to the 389 stanzas found in the edition published by the Adyar Library in Madras in 1972, which is the most widely available at this point. Two years earlier, Kaivalyadhama published a critical edition containing 409 stanzas; the second edition of this work was issued in 1998.

The present text, therefore, gives us a far more complete picture of Svâtmârâma Yogendra’s teachings on Hatha-Yoga. The more extensive text does not really tell us much more about Svâtmârâma Yogendra, the author, though in the commentary by Bâlakrishna he is referred to as Râmanâtha. The colophon of the The Hatha-Yoga-Pradîpikâ—or more precisely the Hatha-Pradîpikâ itself mentions that he belongs to the tradition of a certain Sahajânanda, who apparently wrote a Sanskrit commentary on Jnâneshvara’s famous Amrita- Anubhava.

Bâlakrishna, the author of the commentary published but not translated by the team, seems to hail from the Karnataka region and later lived in Rajasthan during the reign of Mânasimha ( Maan Singh, 16th century), a patron of Yoga, especially in the form of the teachings of the Nâtha lineage in which Hatha-Yoga was prominent.

The ten chapters of the The Hatha-Yoga-Pradîpikâ—or more precisely the Hatha-Pradîpikâ cover the following topics:

Chapter 1 (59 stanzas): the elemental body ( bhûta-âtmaka-sharîra), six-limbed Yoga, moderate eating, the moral disciplines ( yama), and the practices of self-restraint ( niyama).

Chapter 2 (39 stanzas): fifteen postures

Chapter 3 (25 stanzas): the six purificatory acts (shat-karma)

Chapter 4 (70 stanzas): the eight types of breath control ( kumbhaka)

Chapter 5 (188 stanzas): the locks ( bandha) and seals ( mudrâ)-ten in all

Chapter 6 (42 stanzas): sensory inhibition, concentration, and meditation

Chapter 7 (67 stanzas): Raja-Yoga, khecârî-mudrâ, and the ecstatic process ( samâdhi-krama)

Chapter 8 (51 stanzas): cultivation of the inner sound ( nâda-anusandhâna)

Chapter 9 (42 stanzas): omens ( arishta) of imminent death

Chapter 10 (43 stanzas): the sacred syllable om, conscious dying

The English rendering of the Hatha-Pradîpikâ is essentially clear and correct, though in some places improvements are possible. Stanza 3.1 is a case in point. The Sanskrit text has:

evam âsana-bandha-stho yogîndro vigata-shramah, atha abhyasen nâdî-shuddhim mudrâ-âdi-pavana-kriyâm.

The editors’ translation reads:

A yogî, having established in âsana and is free from fatigue, should practise purification of nâdîs, mudrâs and prânâyâma.

I would like to propose the following more literal rendering:

A master yogin ( yogîndra) who is thus firmly ( bandha) established in posture and free from effort should practice purification of the channels and the various ( âdi) seals and breathing techniques ( kriyâ).

The phrase vigata-shramah, which the editors translated as “free from fatigue,” is better rendered as “free from effort.” The implied idea is that the postures must be practiced to the point of mastery when they no longer require effort.

Yoga researchers and practitioners everywhere are greatly indebted to Dr. Gharote and Parimal Devnath for making this seminal text available in its most complete form both in Sanskrit and in English. From an announcement in their book, we can expect further great Hatha-Yoga works to be published soon, including the Yukta-Bhavadeva by Bhavadeva Mishra, Hatha-Ratna-Avalî by Shrînivâsa Bhatta, and Hatha-Tattva-Kaumudî by Sundaradeva. This whets the appetite of all eager students of Yoga. May their work be blessed with great success.

Originally reviewed © Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in any form requires prior permission from Traditional Yoga Studies.

This entry was posted in Yoga. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.