Hatha Yoga is also called as Hatha-vidya. The basic book of Hatha Yoga is Hatha-yog-pradipika. The book was written by Swatmaramyogi during 15th Century. The Hatha-yoga said to be preparatory stage of Physical and mental Purification which is essential for the body practices for higher meditation.

Hatha-yoga is of two types – 1. As advised by Goraksh-Muni in Six Angas; and 2. As advised by Markandey-Muni in Eight Angas. The purpose of both of these is same.

Hatha-yog-pradipika contains four chapters. First Chapter contains the teachings about Asana (Posures). For the Yogic practices and control the body-diseases asanas are very important. There are said to be thirty-two asana for practice. Main Asanas explained the book are Swastika-asan, Gomukha-asan, Veera-asan, Koorma-asan, Kukuta-asan, Uttankurma-asan, Dhanura-asan, Matsayendra-asan, Paschimatan-asan, Mayura-asan, Shava-asan, Sidha-asan, Padma-asan, Sihna-asan, Bhadra-asan. Apart from the above there are some important asana are Vajra-asan, Chakra-asan, Trikona-asan, Janushirsha-asan, Bhujanga-asan, Shalbha-asan, shashanga-asan, Hala-asan. The basic purpose of these asanas is to keep the body flexible and fit for the further practice of Yoga. But as regard to the higher level of yoga i.e. for Samadhi only Sidha-asan, Ardh-padma-asan and Padma-asan are useful. Apart from the Asans he has also advised for adopting of Yam-Niyama as advised in the Raj-yog by Maharishi Patanjali. With the performance of theses asanas the mind-control is also achieved by the Sadhak (Yogi).

Second Chapter contains the teachings on Pranayama (yogic breathing which creates Energy Control) and Shadkarma. Pranayama is one of the strongest advise in this school of teaching. According to Rajyog there are three parts of Paranayama namely Poorak, Kumbhak and Rechak, Where as in the Hatha-yog main stress is on Kumbhak. Before performing Kumbhak Paranayama, the nerve-purification is to be achieved. There are eight types of Kumbhak, namely – Suryabhedan, Ujjayi, Seetkari, Sheetali, Bhastrika, Bhramari, Moorcha, Plavini. Each one is explained in detail in the second chapter. Apart from the above Shatkarma is also explained and advised for the Yogis. Shatkarma includes :-

1    Dhouti-karma – With the help of Dhouri-Kriya body can be maintained as disease free and health-full. Under this karma Vayu-Dhouti, Agni-Dhouti, Jal-Dhouti and Vastra-Dhouti are commonly performed by the Yogis. With this the chest abdomen is cleaned. But the persons effected by diseases and who are freely enjoying the material world and living sexual life, cannot perform Dhouti-Karma easily.
2    Neti-Karma – Neti is performed through nose. A thread is entered through the nose and brought out from mouth. With the help of this throat and head (specifically nose) is cleaned.
3    Basti-Karma – Yogis are normally performing Jal-Basti and Sthal-Basti to clean the stomach and intestine and clear the waste from the body. Jal-basti is done by intaking the water into intestine through anus.
4    Tratak-Karma – Tratak-Yog is normally performed in three ways. Yogi has to keep on seeing the following objects continuously and without moving the eye-lashes - (a) against the rising sun or moon in the sky; (b) against one’s eyes in the mirror; and (c) against the eyes of other person. With the help of Tratak-yog, yogi achieves a higher level concentration and one’s eye-sight is also improves.
5    Naouli-Karma – Here in this act the yogi bend forward by lowering shoulders, and move its stomach with speed from left to right and right to left. With the Naouli-karma the apetite gets better and digest all the things.
6    Kapalbhanti-Karma – Performing the Rechak and Poorak Pranayam simultaneously with high speed is called Kapalbhanti.

Third chapter explains the Kundalani and Mudras (Poses). According to this theory Kundalani is the base for all type of Yoga. (But in the Rajyog, neither Maharishi Patanjali nor Maharishi Vyas has not even mentioned Kundalani or given any reference to its need for the yogic practices.) Apart from Kundalani, he has explained ten types of Mudras (Poses) namely – Mahamudra, Mahabandh, Mahavedh, Khechari, Udayan, Moolbandh, Jalandharbandh, Vipreetkarni, Vrajoli, and Shaktichalan. According to Hatha-yoga, with the help of this yogi can keep Old-age and Death away, i.e. he can keep himself fit and healthy during the life time and survives longer.

Fourth Chapter contains the Samadhi i.e. the high state of concentration. He shortly stresses following of Pratyahara, which is sense withdrawal; Dharana, which is concentration on an object or subject; Dhyana, which is meditation. He stresses various means and angas which are explained earlier are needed to achieve the Kaivalya. Here it is also stressed the need for performing some poses like Khechari, Shambhavi and Unmani Mudras. With the help of these acts he gives importance to theory of Sound i.e. Nada which is heard by the yogi inside during the Samadhi.

Apart from the above, the following acts are also performed under the Hatha-yoga :
1.    Sun-bath – By taking the sun-bath regularly but for the limited period daily, one gets rid of skin diseases.
2.    Water Bath – by taking the bath the in the flowing river specifically on regular basis, one keeps the body healthy, clean and fit.
3.    Nasa-pan – i.e. drinking water with the nostrils. In the early morning, by keeping the fresh water in a pot, with the wider mouth, near the mouth and nostrils are dipped into the pot. Now with the help of the nostrils one has to suck the water slowly and absorb the same in the body. With this type of water drinking disease creating germs cannot stay in the nostril and upper portion of head and body remains healthy and fit.
4.    Jal-Pan (Water-drinking) – Under this process, one has to drink water only in the morning itself, as per one’s power, after washing the mouth. If you feel thrust then drink water sometime before meal in the afternoon, then after some of meal drink water and also in the night drink water regularly. This process is called water-drinking. This also helps one to keep the body fit and healthy.

Critical analysis of Hatha-yoga

The hatha-yoga as available in Hath-yog-pradipika, is only 4-5 centuries old. The great Yogi Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, founder of Arya Samaj, got the education of all four types of Yoga from various of preachers / teachers. In his learning age, he had performed all types of Yoga and concluded that RajYog as explained in the Yog-sutras of Patanjali is the only best in order to achieve the ultimate goal of one’s life i.e. to achieve oneself and God.

According to him “Hathyog ka prakar ekdam bahut tamasha hai. Usmein ‘Basti’ arthaat guda ke raste se pani chadakar sansodhan karna. Tratak arthaat palak bina jhapke taktaki lagakar dekhna. Neti arthaat nasika mein sutra dalkar mukh se nikalna. Dhoti arthaat lambe se lamba dhoti ka tukra (Mukh ke raste) pet mein dalkar phir nikalna. Is prakar ka tamasha rachne ko khatpat karke kabhi yog sidh hoven to sadho. Prantu in kamon se to rog hi paida hoten hain.” (Poona Pravachan – 11)

-    “Hathyog is a type of play only. In Basti karma, one intake the water into the intestine through the anus and cleans it. Under Tratak one keeps on seeing without moving the eye-limbs. Under Neti-karma one puts in the thread through Nostril and brings out from mouth. In Dhouti-karma one intake the long cotton cloth (small in width) into the stomach from mouth and then bring out. By these type of plays, if one thinks Yog (controlling the business and affairs of mind) can be performed, then let him do. But by these activities normally body gets infected by various diseases.”  (As said in Poona Pravachan – 11).

As he had got full practical knowledge of Hatha-yog and Raj-yog, so he had considered it not useful at all for the performance of Raj-yog.

It is claimed in the Hatha-yog-pradipika that it is essential for the achieving the salvation (=Kaivalya) i.e. detachment of soul from matter. Where as in this book, it is nowhere defined what are the causes of attachment of soul with the matter, i.e. transmigration of soul in the world (=Bandha). Nor it explains how those causes can be stopped / removed to achieve salvation, as are explained in Yog-Darshan by Patanjali and Vyas, and in Sankhya-Darshan by Kapil and other vedic literature. It is very clear by these external activities like postures (asanas), pranayama (breath control), body purification procedure (Shatkarma), poses (Mudras) salvation cannot be achieved. The actual procedure for achieving the salvation is explained by Patanjali in Yog-sutras and Kapil in Sankhya-sutras.

Further the book contains in total 389 verses (Shalokas). About 60% verses are in the nature of self-praising only. Out of remaining concepts in 10% verses are taken from Patanjali’s yog-sutras and about 30% of verses explain the concepts of Hatha-yoga.

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