M. L. Gharote, Parimal Devnath and Vijaykant Jha, eds.Hathatatvakaumudi: A Treatise on Hathayoga by Sundaradeva. Lonavla Yoga Institute, A-7 Gulmohar Apartment, Bhangarwadi, Lonavla, India 410401, 2007. Hardcover, 797 pages.
The Hathatatvakaumudi is a little known major work on Hatha-Yoga, which was composed by Sundaradeva whom the editors place between 1700 and 1800 A.D. The learned author also wrote various literary works, a book on dietetics, and several other Yoga texts in the Sanskrit language. The present publication is the first critical edition and translation of the Hathatatvakaumudi, and the editors deserve praise for having undertaken such a challenging task and for producing an essentially correct rendering of the text suitable both for indologists and general Yoga-practitioners.
The Hathatattvakaumudi (Hatha-Tatva-Kaumudi, “Moonlight on the Principles of [Hatha-]Yoga”) is a substantial Sanskrit work comprising 56 chapters. As the editors have ably pointed out, this text has many interesting and unique features. Of particular interest and merit are Sundaradeva’s comments on diet, which include prescriptions for monastics and renouncers. Sundaradeva, who had a background in Ayurveda, pays detailed attention to the appropriate diet especially in the cultivation of breath control.
Of the two traditions of purificatory techniques—known as shat-karma (“six acts”) and ashta-karma (“eight acts”)—the author follows the latter. He made the point that the eight purificatory techniques help remove kapha (“phlegm”) from the physical body and that this should precede the well-known practice of purifying the subtle channels (nadi).
The author’s medical knowledge also shaped his treatment of postures, which he classifies according to their relevance to diseases (based on the Ayurvedic principles). Another fascinating section deals with diverse omens indicating approaching death.
The present publication includes the Sanskrit text in devanagari script (with variant readings) and in transliteration. I can highly recommend this work to all students of traditional Hatha-Yoga. Sundaradeva’s exposition will be particularly meaningful for those who have thus far studied only the Hatha-Yoga-Pradipika.
Copyright ©2007 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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