M. L. Gharote and G. K. Pai, eds. Siddhasiddhāntapaddhati: A Treatise on the Nātha Philosophy by Goraksanātha. Lonavla, India: Lonavla Yoga Institute, 2005. Paperback, xxxix + 205 pages.
This is a critical edition (based on five manuscripts and four printed versions) and first-time English translation of a twelfth-century Sanskrit text ascribed to Goraksha, the semi-legendary founder of Hatha-Yoga. Goraksha is counted among the great adepts ( mahā-siddha) of India, and his name is associated with an innovative teaching, Hatha-Yoga, that has at its core the creation of a transubstantiated body, or “divine body.” This work, which is one of numerous tracts ascribed to Goraksha, is a likely candidate for actually having been authored by this celebrated master. Nearly twenty years ago, I translated a section of this work dealing with the crazy-wisdom adept ( avadhūta), and it is good to finally see the whole text competently translated.
This text gives us the oldest extant version of Hatha-Yoga philosophy, which differs in significant ways from the metaphysical edifices referred to in later manuals like the Hatha-Yoga-Pradīpikā and Gheranda-Samhitā. It is clearly Tantric in nature and seems to stem from a yogic environment that is close to that of Kashmir’s Shaivism.
The principal editor/translator, the late Dr. M. L. Gharote, was renowned for his fine scholarship in the area of Yoga, and this posthumously published work is yet another gift from him. The staff of Lonavla Yoga Institute founded by him is to be congratulated for completing this work and issuing it in a timely fashion despite the difficulties arising from Dr. Gharote’s sudden death. This is in fact the Institute’s eleventh publication, and it is reassuring to note that further editions and translations are in progress. Hopefully the Institute’s wonderful efforts will receive adequate financial support in the future.
Books published in India are typically of poor typesetting quality and often are marred by numerous printing errors. The present work stands out for its excellent overall quality. I have found very few typos in the devanagari text, the transliterated text, and the English rendering. The translation itself is essentially faithful to the original. On a few occasions, I would have preferred a more literal rendering. Thus in stanza 6.64 siddhayogirāt is simply translated as siddhayogī and in stanza 5.59 siddhapurusaih is translated as siddhayogīs, while in 6.88 the phrase kula-purusa-mata is very loosely translated as “those who adhere to the scriptures,” making no mention of the key word kula. One feature of the typesetting I found odd and distracting, and which I strongly recommend should be corrected with a second edition, is the use of lower case initials in Sanskrit words at the beginning of sentences.
Anyone studying the theoretical basis of Hatha-Yoga or interested in the development of Yoga will find the Siddha-Siddhānta-Paddhati a fascinating text. The present publication will greatly aid our understanding of the philosophical foundations of Hatha-Yoga without which the authentic practice of this tradition must remain elusive.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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