If Hatha Pradipika and Hatha Yoga are said to be synonymous with each other, then there will be no exaggeration. No discussion of Hatha Yoga is complete without Hatha Pradipika. Its place in yogic texts is incomparable.
Swami Swatmaram is the composer of this unique book of Hatha Yoga. The usefulness of Hatha Pradipika can be estimated only from the fact that there is no certificate, diploma, graduation or post-graduation course of Yoga which is complete without Hatha Pradipika.
“Pradipika" means "to illuminate". With this, it can be interpreted that Hatha Yoga Pradipika is the light which guides the mystic and superior world of yoga.
Time Period of Hatha Pradipika
Not all scholars are unanimous about the period of Hathapradipika. Everyone has given their own opinion regarding the time of its creation.
The period from the thirteenth (13th) century to the eighteenth (18th) century is believed to be the period when Hatha Pradipika was introduced.
Yoga in Hatha Pradipika
The Hatha Pradipika is a book on the method of Hatha Yoga, whose originator or the first speaker is Lord Shiva himself. Lord Shiva is also called Adinath. It is because of Adinath that it is also called Nath Yoga or Yoga of Nath Sampradaya. Swami Swatmaram himself was also a follower of this Nath tradition. The book begins with the gratitude that Swami Swatmaram has expressed towards the Sages and Masters of Hatha Yoga Tradition.
Goals of Hatha Yoga Practice
Behind every action in our life, there is a purpose and aim behind it. In this book, Swami Swatmaram explains the goal of Hatha Yoga Sadhana, "Hatha Yoga Sadhana is being preached only for the attainment of Raja Yoga".
Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga are two sides of the same coin. That is, Hatha Yoga has been considered the medium or means of attaining Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga can be achieved only by following Hatha Yoga practice. Apart from this, there are no other means of attaining Raja Yoga. Therefore both of them are completely dependent on each other.
The Four Sections of Yoga in Hatha Pradipika
All the teachers of yoga have discussed different parts of yoga in their texts. Swami Swatmaram has described the four parts of yoga through the five teachings of Hatha Pradipika.
- Asanas (Postures)
- Samadhi (Enlightenment)
Asanas: In the very first sermon of Hatha Pradipika, Swami Swatmaram talks about the first part of yoga, i.e. asanas, preaching fifteen asanas. Out of all these asanas, Siddhasana is considered to be the best asana.
Kumbhaka (Pranayama): In the second sermon, eight Kumbhakas have been described while discussing Pranayama. Here Pranayama is addressed as Kumbhak.
Mudras: In the third sermon of Hatha Pradipika, describing the third limb of yoga i.e. mudras, a total of ten postures have been discussed, of which Khechari Mudra is considered the best.
Nadanusandhana: The last part of Yoga i.e. Nadanusandhana is described in the fourth sermon of Hatha Pradipika. A total of four stages of Enlightenment have been said. In which different types of sounds are heard by the seeker.
A brief introduction to the chapters of Hatha Pradipika
We will give a brief overview of all the five chapters of Hatha Pradipika. The first four chapters explain each part of yoga and the last chapter describes the right practice of yoga.
In the first chapter, Swami Swatmaram has started the teaching of Hatha Yoga by paying homage to Adinath Shiva and all the yogis after him. In which the names of some are as follows – Guru Matsyendranath, Shabar Nath, Anand Bhairav Nath, Chowringhee Nath, Meen Nath, Guru Goraksha Nath, and Charpati Nath.
The Right Place to Practice Hatha Yoga
The Hatha Pradipika describes a suitable place for a yogi before starting a yoga practice. The place of yoga practice is called 'Mathika' i.e. hut. A Hatha yogi should live in a secluded place, where the environment is favourable, religious, and blessed, where there is no disturbance of any kind, at such a place the seeker should make a hut. Further, while telling about that hut, it has been said that there should not be stones, fire and water etc. around that hut till four hands proof (up to about 25 feet). Its door should be small, there should be no holes or burrows, the ground should not be high or low, there should not be a large space, it should be covered with cow dung, free from insects etc; outside it there should be well, fire alter, etc. Also, a wall should be built around the hut. So that no wild animal can come in.
Sadhaka and Badhaka Tattva
In Hatha Pradipika, the Sadhaka and Badhaka Tattva in yoga practice have been described. Sadhaka Tattva is to be followed while Badhaka Tattva is to be abandoned.
Swami Swatmaram has described the six (6) obstructive elements that create obstacles in the practice of yoga. All these hindrance elements which hinder a yogi should be avoided. The following elements have been considered obstructive elements or Badhaka Tattva-
- Atyahara (excessive eating)
- Prajalpa (to speak excessively)
- Prayas (to work excessively)
- Niyamgraha (Strictness)
- Jansang (contact with a lot of people)
- Chanchalta (excessive restlessness of the mind)
Swami Swatmaram has also considered six (6) Sadhak Tattvas for the seekers which help in the practice of yoga. By following these sadhak principles by the yogi, it becomes easy to get success in sadhana.
- Public abandonment
Description of Yamas and Niyama
Yamas are the habits or activities that are required for healthy living while Niyamas are the duties for better well-being.
- Public abandonment
- Tapa (Tenacity)
- Santosha (Contentment)
- Astikya (Faith)
- Dana (Charity)
- Ishvarapujana (God Worship)
- Siddhanta Sravana (Theory of Hearing)
- Hri (Modesty)
- Mati (Cognition)
- Japa (Incantation)
- Vrata (Sacred Vows)
Description of Postures
Hatha Pradipika has considered four parts of yoga. Out of which Asana is placed in the first place. First of all, describing the benefits of asanas, fifteen (15) asanas have been described. Whose names are as follows –
The Best Asanas
Keeping Siddhasana, Padmasana, Sinhasana and Bhadrasana in the category of four major asanas, Siddhasana has been described as the best asana.
Importance of Diet
Keeping in mind the importance of diet, it is divided into several parts.
- Mitahara – Diet of Yogis
- Apathya (Regimen or Taboo Diet) – Taboo diet for yogis
- Pathya (Healthy Diet) - Acceptable diet to the yogi
In the second chapter, mainly Pranayama and Shatkarma have been discussed. First of all, while describing Nadi Shodhana, it has been advised to do it before Pranayama. By Nadi Shodhana, the aspirant should purify the faeces accumulated in his nadis, only then he is able to do the rest of the Pranayama.
It is described that those whose body is troubled by the increased amount of fat and cough should practice Shatkarma before Pranayama. The six types of Shatkarma in Hatha Yoga Pradipika are -
Eight types of Kumbhakas (Pranayamas) have been discussed in Hatha Pradipika.
- Surya Bhedi
In the third chapter, the information on mudras has been given. The practice of mudras is considered very useful to awaken Kundalini power. A total of ten (10) mudras have been described –
- Maha Mudra
- Maha Bandha
- Maha Vedha
- Uddiyana Bandha
- Mula Bandha
- Jalandhara Bandha
- Viparita Karani
- Sakti Chalana
In all these, Khechari Mudra is considered to be the best.
Samadhi is discussed in the fourth chapter. In Hatha Pradipika, Samadhi or Salvation is considered the last part of yoga. It has four stages –
Arambha Avastha: Arambha means Starting. In this, the body of a yogi becomes divine, healthy and glowing.
Ghata Avastha: In this, the Yogi's posture becomes firm and fine.
Parichaya Avastha: In this, the pleasure of the mind and ecstasy are achieved by a yogi.
Nishpatti Avastha: This is the last stage, also known as the state of consummation
In this chapter, various definitions of samadhi or yoga have also been mainly described, as well as sixteen (16) synonyms of samadhi have also been mentioned prominently. Seventy-two thousand (72000) Nadis located in the body are also described here.
This is the shortest chapter of Hatha Pradipika. Its main subject is yogic medicine.
In this fifth chapter, Swami Swatmaram has preached the treatment of diseases that arise due to the wrong practice of yoga. In this mainly the place of Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the body and their functions have been described. After this, while stating the number of diseases caused by Vata, Pitta and Kapha, it is said that eighty (80) types are caused by the imbalance of Vata, forty (40) types due to the imbalance of Pitta and twenty (two) types due to the imbalance of Kapha. In the following verses, remedies for pacifying all those doshas and yogic therapy of diseases have been described.