Hatha Yoga – The Misconceived High Road of Tantric Science
It is well established that Matsyendranath, Gorakshanath and the rest of the eighty four great Siddhas (Adepts) were all Tantrika Gurus. They practiced a Hatha Yoga interwoven with the process of worship, a dimension almost completely absent from the contemporary practice of yoga in both India and the West.
This integrated path outlined by the ancients is no longer utilised and the ignorance of this path and its requirements renders the efforts at least 98% of modern day practitioners fruitless from the very beginning. As Guru Gorakshanath states in his Text of Eternal Speech;
‘Where there is hope, there is disappointment. Where there is doubt there is sorrow. These cannot be avoided without initiation. Both are great ills.’
This description captures the mindset of the vast majority of present day practitioners who are driven by all kinds of aversions and desires. The pursuit of flexibility, power, health, or alternative lifestyles leads nowhere and is as far removed from the true state of Yoga as Mars is from Mecca.
The ancient Gurus outlined procedures designed to help each individual clear their own path towards the wisdom of enlightenment. This is a world away from blindly following the institutional formulas of fools who render lip service to a wisdom they have never lived. The procedures of Tantric Hatha Yoga outlined by the ancient Gurus are the Bahiranga, Antaranga and Paramantaranga Sadhanas. Each of these three fields of activities has a particular set of tools and skills necessary for success. If an honest seeker reflects carefully on this threefold system they will realise how far modern understanding has strayed from the source and how the impoverished schools of this age utilise barely one third of the first limb (Bhairanga Sadhana).
The skills set out in these three fields require a full knowledge of Yogic anatomy and physiology, including the map of the 16 subtle corridors of the life wind, a good understanding of the 107 vital junctions of the body and an apprehension of the daily changes impelled by the constant waning and waxing of the moon. This knowledge was imparted to the novice at the time of initiation and it is this knowledge which Gorakshanath refers to in the first verse of his Initiation Sermon (which follows on from the text above).
‘Study yourself! Distinguish between proper and improper law! Know the mystery of mysteries! Fulfill needs and expectations! (Duty)’.
Self study is only possible if one has been initiated into this knowledge of the maps and procedures of the fields of action. To distinguish the proper from the improper refers to the discriminating faculty within. The gaining of knowledge of the influences of the moon is the beginning of the unfolding of wisdom and comes through the revealing intelligence that manifests during practice. This faculty takes a long time to surface and one must not try to force the process but learn step by step, each of the required layers of the Sadhana.
When one understands the nature of these requirements one will see that the path is not about any particular ability (which can help or hinder progress) nor is it about a particular lifestyle. The process of wisdom requires that one goes beyond all the notions that have arisen from likes and dislikes and which have bred the underlying fear that in turn breeds anger, lust, violence and greed, that all lead only to exhaustion and illness.
Bahiranga Sadhana (the external practices) are comprised of Asana – both dynamic and static, the Shatkriyas (six cleansing processes) and Nadi Suddhi. The mastery of these allows progress in the internal practices of the Antaranga Sadhana – Pranayama, Mudras and Karanas. The Paramantaranga Sadhana (beyond form or formless) is comprised of Khecari Vidya (the science of roaming), Khecari Mudra, Vajroli, Amaroli and Sahajoli Mudras and the crowning process of Shambavi mudra. These are the outlined forms of the activities that pave the path of wisdom so one can serve at the feet of the formless one.
Due to ignorance of these practices, their requirements, relationship and appropriate applications modern day Hatha Yoga has become an impoverished make-believe exercise system that leads only to the grave. So what is changed by a recognition of this situation? Nothing! unless one is prepared to tread the suggested path with patience, endurance and full faith in one’s own undertaking leaving hope and doubt to those who lack vigorous bearing and prefer to be followers.
Shadow Yoga © Sundernath (Shandor Remete)
Editor, John Evans