An Understanding of the History and Context
Jason Birch & Jacqueline Hargreaves
This article was originally published on the Luminescent blog.
In modern times, yoganidrā is generally understood to be a specific type of guided meditation performed in a supine position. This common interpretation is largely due to the success of the Satyananda Yoga Nidra technique that has been trademarked and taught by the Bihar School of Yoga. In Swāmī Satyānanda Saraswati’s book Yoga Nidra, first published 1976, he claims to have constructed this seven part guided meditation technique from ‘important but little known practices’ (2009 edition: p. 3), which he found in various Tantras.
This article has been prompted by the recent allegations against the late Swami Satyānanda in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse which took place in Sydney, Australia (December 2014). For a discussion on these allegations and the implications for the Yoga community, refer to the post by Matthew Remski, Boycott Satyānanda’s Literature and Methods.
The aim of this article is to examine the term yoganidrā in its historical context so that those practising and teaching Yoga Nidra today may decide whether the modern practice (or components of the modern practice) can be used and appreciated within a broader understanding of South Asian history.
Yoganidrā is a term that has a diverse and ancient history in Sanskrit literature. It has been used with various meanings and can be found in Epic and Purāṇic literature, Śaiva and Buddhist Tantras, medieval Haṭha and Rājayoga texts (including the widely known Haṭhapradīpikā) and it even became the name of a yoga posture (āsana) in the 17th century.
This article draws upon research of various Sanskrit texts, in particular, medieval works on yoga written between the 11-18th centuries. All translations are by Jason Birch unless otherwise indicated.
This article is presented in two sections:
- Historical Meaning
- Precedents to the Modern Practice
Swāmī Satyānanda (2009: 1) correctly states that the term consists of two words yoga and nidrā, the latter meaning ‘sleep’. He defined it as follows:
“During the practice of yoga nidra, one appears to be asleep, but the consciousness is functioning at a deeper level of awareness. For this reason, yoga nidra is often referred to as psychic sleep or deep relaxation with inner awareness.”
As a Sanskrit compound, yoganidrā could be interpreted several ways, including ‘the sleep that is yoga’, ‘the sleep caused by yoga’ and ‘the sleep of yoga’. However, the specific meaning of the term depends on its historical context.
Epics and Purāṇas
It occurs in the first book of the Mahābhārata, an epic tale which is usually dated between 300 BCE and 300 CE. In the Mahābhārata (1.19.13), yoganidrā refers to Viṣṇu’s sleep between the cycles of the universe (yuga). This meaning is also found in later works on Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu (e.g., Bhāgavatapurāṇa 1.3.2; Viṣṇumahāpurāṇa 6.4.6; Jayākhasaṃhitā 2.45; etc.).
Yoganidrā is the name of a goddess in the Devīmāhātmya (1.65-85), which is part of a larger text called the Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa. Brahmā implores the goddess Yoganidrā to wake Viṣṇu so that he can fight the two Asuras, Madhu and Kaiṭabha.
These early references to the term yoganidrā are not defining a practice or a technique in a system of yoga, but are describing a god’s transcendental sleep and the goddess’ manifestation as sleep.
Evidence for the use of the term yoganidrā in the context of meditation can be found in several Śaiva and Buddhist Tantras. For example, in the Śaiva text called Ciñcinīmatasārasamuccaya (7.164), yoganidrā is described as a ‘peace beyond words’ (vācām atītaviśrāntir yoganidrā) that is obtained from the guru’s teachings. Yoganidrā is mentioned in the Buddhist Mahāmāyātantra (2.19ab) as a state in which perfect Buddhas enter to realise secret knowledge. In explaining this passage, a later commentator by the name of Ratnākaraśānti adds that yoganidrā is like sleep because it is absolutely free of distraction, and it is called such because it is both yoga and sleep.
Medieval Yoga Texts
It is not until the 11-12th centuries that the term yoganidrā appears in a yoga text: that is to say, a text in which the practice of yoga is taught as the sole means to liberation (rather than gnosis, ritual, devotion and so on). These examples are found in several texts which taught Haṭha and Rājayoga. Here, the term yoganidrā was used as a synonym for a profound state of meditation known as samādhi, in which the yogin does not think, breath or move. In a 12th-century Rājayoga text called the Amanaska, several verses play on the fact that samādhi is similar to both sleeping and waking but beyond both. Samādhi is a yogic sleep in which the yogin is asleep to the mundane world but awake to a reality beyond sense objects. The Amanaska (2.64) says,
“Just as someone who has suddenly arisen from sleep becomes aware of sense objects, so the yogin wakes up from that [world of sense objects] at the end of his yogic sleep.” (1)
This transcendent state of yogic sleep (i.e., samādhi, yoganidrā) was achieved through the practice of Śāmbhavī Mudrā (in which the eyes are half open, half closed and the gaze internal while sitting completely still) along with complete detachment and devotion to the guru. The yogic sleep of samādhi (yoganidrā) is described more elaborately in the Yogatārāvalī (24-26), a 13-14th century yoga text which teaches both Haṭha and Rājayoga:
“[This] extraordinary sleep of no slothfulness, which removes [any] thought of the world of multiplicity, manifests for people when all their former attachments have vanished because of the superiority of their inward awareness. Yoganidrā, in which extraordinary happiness arises from uninterrupted practice, blossoms in the yogin whose basis of intentional and volitional thought has been cut off and whose network of Karma has been completely uprooted. Having mastered cessation [of the mind while sleeping] in the bed of the fourth state, which is superior to the three states beginning with the mundane, O friend, forever enter that special thoughtless sleep, which consists of [just] consciousness.” (2)
Extending the metaphor of sleep, the yogin in yoganidrā does not sleep in an ordinary bed but the bed of the fourth state (turīya), which is just another synonym for samādhi in Haṭha and Rājayoga texts. Samādhi is the fourth state because it is beyond the usual three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep, which are experienced by ordinary people.
Reference to a fourth state (turīya) beyond waking, dreaming and deep sleep can be found in the Māṇḍūkyopaniṣadand later Advaitavedānta texts such as the Gaudapādakārikā, a commentary (on the Māṇḍūkya) generally ascribed to the 6-7th CE.
In the Advaitavedānta tradition, turīya is a gnostic experience of a non-dual reality beyond the mundane world. Rather than the practice of yoga, listening to and contemplating the teachings of the Upaniṣads is of utmost importance. The term yoganidrā is not found in the early texts of this tradition (in fact, it occurs in only a few relatively recent Yoga Upaniṣads) and it’s doubtful that gnostics would ever aspire to the stone-like state of samādhi/yoganidrā in Haṭha and Rājayoga.
Both the Amanaska and the Yogatārāvalī (mentioned above) were known to the author of the Haṭhapradīpikā, which was written in the 15th century and has become the definitive text on Haṭhayoga. Yoganidrā appears in the fourth chapter of the Haṭhapradīpikā, which describes how Khecarī Mudrā (i.e., turning the tongue back and placing it in the nasopharyngeal cavity) can be used to achieve samādhi. The text (4.49) states:
“One should practice Khecarī Mudrā until one is asleep in yoga. For one who has achieved Yoganidrā, death never occurs.” (3)
The commentator Brahmānanda adds that, in this verse, yoga means cessation of all mental activity (sarvavṛttinirodha). The meaning of yoganidrā as samādhi persisted into the 18th century, as seen in a so-called Yoga Upaniṣad, the Maṇḍalabrāhmanopaniṣad (2.5.2):
“[The yogin] who is capable of moving around the whole world, having deposited his seed in the sky of the supreme self, becomes liberated while alive by pursuing the state of complete bliss in the Yogic sleep (yoganidrā) which is pure, non-dual, without inertia, natural and without mind.” (4)
In his commentary on this passage, Upaniṣadbrahmayogin glosses yoganidrā as nirvikalpasamādhi, which is a term for the highest state of samādhi in some Advaitavedānta texts (e.g., Vedāntasāra 193, etc.).
It’s worth mentioning that yoganidrā was adopted as the name of a yogic posture (āsana) in the 17th century. Yoganidrāsana was described in the Haṭharatnāvalī (3.70) as follows:
“Having wrapped the legs around the [back of the] neck and binding the back with both hands, the yogin should sleep (śayana) in this [posture]. Yoganidrāsana bestows bliss.” (5)
Precedents for Modern Practice
In addition to understanding yoganidrā as a state of meditation to be attained, Swāmī Satyānanda uses it as the name for a unique systemisation of various yoga techniques from different religious traditions, both modern and medieval. In the discussion below, medieval antecedents have been indicated where possible. It is not certain that Satyānanda knew all of these specific precedents when he created his systemised practice of Yoga Nidra. However, the existence and absence of precedents gives some indication of the influence of tradition and innovation.
Swāmī Satyānanda (2009: 69-73) explains the Satyananda Yoga Nidra technique as having seven parts:
- Rotation of Consciousness
- Awareness of Breath
- Feelings and Sensations
- Ending the Practice
Satyānanda instructs that one should assume Śavāsana.
The earliest reference in a yoga text to a practice of lying on the ground like a corpse until the mind dissolves is in a section on Layayoga in the 12th-century Dattātreyayogaśāstra. This Layayoga technique, which was not yet considered to be a yoga posture (āsana), probably derives from earlier Tantras such as the Vijñānabhairavatantra, in which simple meditative techniques (e.g., lying supine on the ground) are taught for dissolving the mind (cittalaya). Therefore, Satyānanda’s choice of lying on the ground as a position in which meditative techniques are practised is not new to Indian yoga traditions.
As a yoga posture (āsana), Śavāsana dates back to the 15th-century Haṭhapradīpikā. In this text, it is described as follows:
“Lying supine like a corpse on the ground is Śavāsana. It remedies fatigue and causes the mind to stop.” (6)
Perhaps, inspired by the Haṭhapradīpikā, modern yoga gurus such as BKS Iyengar have taught that Śavāsana should be practised after other āsana in order to alleviate fatigue. Satyānanda’s book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha also teaches Śavāsana for this purpose.
However, in the case of Satyananda Yoga Nidra, Śavāsana is simply the first of seven stages. The deliberate structure of Yoga Nidra distinguishes it from the practice of Śavāsana as a specific remedy for fatigue.
2. Resolve: Sankalpa
At the beginning of the practice, the practitioner is asked to formulate a personal ‘Sankalpa’ which is described as a short, positive, clear statement such as ‘I will awaken my spiritual potential,’ ‘I will be successful in all that I undertake, etc.
The Sanskrit word saṅkalpa occurs frequently in yoga texts, usually with the meaning of intentional thinking. Quite unlike Satyananda Yoga Nidra, the medieval yogin, whose goal was samādhi, aimed to rid the mind of all saṅkalpa. For example, samādhi is described in the following way in the Amanaska (2.22):
“This extraordinary meditative absorption, in which all saṅkalpas have been cut off and all movement has ceased, is intelligible only to oneself and is beyond the sphere of words.” (7)
Outside of yoga texts, the term saṅkalpa can refer to the desired result of an action, in particular a ritual or ascetic observance. This is explained in an important scripture on Hindu religious duties (dharma) called the Manusmṛti(2.3):
“Desire (kāma) is grounded in intentional thinking (saṅkalpa), and the performance of sacrifices derives from intentional thinking. All ascetic observances [such as bathing] and ascetic restraints [such as non-violence] are considered by tradition to derive from intentional thinking.”
This type of saṅkalpa was also rejected by the Amanaska (2.104):
“The yogin does not abandon [vedic] rituals. For, [in the no-mind state] he is abandoned by rituals, simply because of the cessation of saṅkalpa, which is the root cause of rituals.” (8)
It seems that Swāmī Satyānanda adopted the word saṅkalpa in order to integrate the practice of auto-suggestion, as evinced in his recommended Sankalpas, such as ‘I will be successful in all that I undertake.’ Mark Singleton, in his excellent article called “Salvation through Relaxation: Proprioceptive Therapy and its Relationship to Yoga,” has traced this practice back to 19th-century Western relaxation therapies (see Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2005 pp. 289–304). Singleton also identifies much of the western rhetoric of relaxation (e.g., stress and tension as the cause of illness, relaxation as the cure, etc.) which is in Satyānanda’s discourse on Yoga Nidra. There might be parallels between Satyānanda’s use of saṅkalpa and the meaning of this term in the context of ritual (i.e., the desired result). It is clear that a statement such as ‘I will be successful in all that I undertake’ is the desired result. However, Satyānanda integrated intentional thought in a meditative practice in order to achieve a desired outcome. This contrasts with medieval meditative practices which aimed at annihilating intentional thought and desires. The stage of Resolve (Sankalpa) in Satyananda Yoga Nidra appears to be an innovation that was inspired by Western relaxation therapies.
3. Rotation of Consciousness
Moving the mind from one part of the body to another in a definite sequence.
In the introduction to the book Yoga Nidra, Swāmī Satyānanda (2009:3) reveals that his inspiration for the rotation of consciousness was the practice of nyāsa as described in various Tantras. He gives the example of aṅguṣṭhādiṣaḍaṅganyāsa (i.e., fixing seed mantras into six limbs beginning with the thumbs) and cites Sir John Woodroofe’s edition of the Mahānirvānatantra. The relevant section of Woodroofe’s translation (chapter 3, 39-43) appears to be the following:
“Now listen, dear One, whilst I speak to You of Anga-nyasa and Kara-nyasa (39-40). O great and adorable Devi! the syllable Om, the words Sat, Chit, Ekam, Brahma, should be pronounced over the thumb, the threatening finger, the middle, nameless, and little fingers respectively, followed in each case by the words Namah, Svaha, Vashat, Hung, and Vaushat; and Ong Sachchidekam Brahma should be said over the palm and back of the hand, followed by the Mantra Phat (41, 42). The worshipper disciple should in the like manner, with his mind well under control, perform Anga-nyasa in accordance with the rules thereof, commencing with the heart and ending with the hands (43).”
It seems plausible that Satyānanda could have derived a basic sequence of points in the body from the Tantric practice of nyāsa. He must have elaborated on this basic sequence to arrive at the one seen in his book. Also, there is a clear precedent in medieval yoga for practising pratyāhāra (i.e., withdrawing the senses) by moving the breath sequentially through eighteen vital points (marmasthāna) in the body. The seventh chapter of the 14th-century Yogayājñavalkya describes this variety of pratyāhāra which appears to be an antecedent to the body-scanning techniques of modern relaxation therapy. It is described as follows (7.6-31ab):
“Holding the breath in the eighteen vital points (marmasthāna), having drawn it from point to point, is known as Pratyāhāra. O Gārgi, the two Aśvins, the best physicians of the gods, taught the vital points in the body for the sake of power (siddhi) and for liberation in yoga. Listen, I will tell you all of them in their proper sequence. The two big toes, the ankles, the middle of shanks, the root of the shanks, the middle of the knees and the thighs and the anus. After that, the middle of the body, the penis, the navel, the heart, the pit of the throat, the root of the palate, the root of the nose, the eyeballs, the middle of the eyebrows, the forehead and [top of the] head. These are the vital points.
Now listen to their measure one by one. The measure from the [bottom of the] foot to the ankle is four and a half finger-breadths. From the ankle to the middle of the shank is ten finger-breadths. From the middle of the shank to the root of the shank is eleven finger-breadths. From the root of the shanks to the knee is two finger-breadths. From the knee to the middle of the thighs is nine finger-breadths. From the middle of the thighs to the anus is nine finger-breadths. From the anus to the middle of the body is two and half finger-breadths, from the middle of the body to the penis is two and half finger-breadths, from the penis to the navel is two and half finger-breadths, from the navel to the heart is four finger-breadths, from the heart to the pit of the throat is six finger-breadths, from the pit of the throat to the root of the tongue is four finger-breadths, from the root of the tongue to the root of the nose is four finger-breadths, from the root of the nose to the point in the eye is half a finger-breadth. From that to the centre of the eyebrow, which is the interior of the self, is half a finger-breadth, from the centre of the eyebrow to the forehead is two finger-breadths, from the forehead to [that] known as ‘space’ [at the top of head] is three finger-breadths. Having raised the breath along with the mind through these vital points, the yogin should hold it [in each one.] Having drawn the breath and mind through each point, the yogin performs Pratyāhāra [thus.] All diseases disappear and yoga is accomplished for that yogin.
Some other yogins and men skilled in yoga teach Pratyahāra [as follows.] Listen, O beautiful woman, I will explain it to you. One should hold the breath like a full pot along with the mind from the big toes to the top of the head. The wise teach this as prāṇāyāma. Having drawn the breath from the aperture in the space [at the top of the head,] one should hold it in the forehead. Again, having drawn it from the forehead, one should hold it in the middle of the eyebrows. Having drawn it from the middle of the eyebrows, one should hold it in the eyes. Having drawn the breath from the eyes, one should hold it at the root of the nose. From the root of the nose, one should hold the breath at the root of the tongue. Having drawn it from the root of the tongue, one should hold it in the pit of the throat. From the pit of the throat, hold it in the heart; from the heart, hold it in the navel; from the navel, hold it again in the penis; from the penis, hold it in the middle of the body; from the middle of the body, hold it in the anus; from the anus, hold it at the root of the thigh; from the root of the thigh, hold it in the middle of the knees; from there, hold it at the root of the shank; from there, hold it in the middle of the shank. Having drawn it from the middle of the shank, hold it in the ankles. From the ankles, O Gārgi, one should hold it in the big toes of the feet. Having drawn the breath from point to point, the wise man should hold it thus. He becomes one who is purified of all sin and lives as long as the moon and stars.” (9)
There is no indication in Swāmī Satyānanda’s book on Yoga Nidra that he was aware of the above medieval practice of pratyāhāra, but he does say:
“Yoga nidra is one aspect of pratyahara which leads to the higher states of concentration and samadhi” (2009: 2).
4. Awareness of Breath
Watching the breath in the nostrils, chest or the passage between the navel and throat without forcing or changing it.
As far as we are aware, there is no meditation technique (dhyāna) in a medieval Sanskrit yoga text described as the passive observation (i.e., awareness) of the natural breath. When the breath is the focus of a practice, it is either deliberately changed in some way (i.e., prāṇāyāma) or made to disappear spontaneously through some meditation technique. The spontaneous disappearance of the breath is a requisite for samādhi. A possible exception may the the Ajapā mantra. It is not explicitly described as a passive awareness of the breath, but one might reasonably infer that it required such. It is mentioned in several medieval yoga texts, and described as follows in the 12-13th century Vivekamārtaṇḍa:
“[The breath] goes out with the sound ‘ha’ and enters again with the sound ‘sa’. The Jīva always repeats this mantra ‘haṃsa, haṃsa.’ There are seventy-two thousand, six hundred breaths in a day and night. The Jīva always repeats the [Ajapā] mantra this many times.” (10)
The Vivekamārtaṇḍa goes on to say that the Ajapā mantra, otherwise known as the Gāyatrī Mantra to yogins, raises Kuṇḍalinī. The ascent of Kuṇḍalinī up through the central channel is generally accredited with stopping the breath and dissolving the mind. The Gheraṇḍasaṃhitā (5.86-94) describes how the Ajapā mantra leads to Kevalakumbhaka, the spontaneous retention of the breath. The aim of Satyānanda’s awareness of breath practice is deeper relaxation (2009: 71). However, he adds:
“Awareness of the breath not only promotes relaxation and concentration, but also awakens higher energies and directs them to every cell of the body. It assists pratyahara from the subtle body in the practices that follow.”
One might also cite the Buddhist practice of observing the breath called ānāpānnasati, which is taught in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, and it would be helpful if anyone might comment on whether such a practice as this (or any other ancient or medieval one) inspired Satyānanda’s awareness of breath technique. In an article on the yoga system of a modern Jain sect called the Terāpanthī (see Yoga in Practice, edited by David White, pp. 365-82, 2012), it was found that the Terāpanthī’s use of passive breath awareness in meditation was inspired by Goenka’s Vipassana.
5. Feelings and Sensations
Pairing of opposite feelings (e.g., heat and cold, heaviness and lightness, pain and pleasure, etc.)
In one medieval yoga text, there is a description of samādhi as ‘the union of opposites’ (sarvadvandvayor aikyaṃ – see Nowotny’s edition of the Gorakṣaśataka, verse 185). Elsewhere, the yogin is described as free from opposites (dvandvavinirmukta – see Śivasaṃhitā 3.27, 5.154) and as having a mind in which the opposites have disappeared (naṣṭadvandva – Maṇḍalobrāhmaṇopaniṣat 3.1.4). In fact, in the Yogabīja (90), yoga is defined as the union of the multitude of opposites (dvandvajālasya saṃyogo yoga ucyate).
Whether these sort of expressions inspired Swāmī Satyānanda to work with opposite feelings and sensations in his Yoga Nidra remains unclear, but he does say that this component of the practice:
“harmonizes the opposite hemispheres of the brain” (2009: 72)
The difference seems to be that medieval texts talk of a state that transcends opposites, whereas Satyānanda incorporates them into a meditative practice.
In Satyananda Yoga Nidra, the practitioner visualises images which are named or described by the instructor. Such images include landscapes, oceans, mountains, temples, saints, flowers, etc. as well as cakras, the liṅga, the cross and golden egg. Visualisation practices were the hallmark of Tantric yoga. Meditation (dhyāna) in Tantra was usually the visualisation of some deity. The descriptions can become very complex, often entwining images with doctrine and metaphysics. Unlike Tantric yoga, visualisation practices were largely absent from early Rāja and Haṭhayoga texts, but such practices were incorporated into later yoga texts (i.e., post 16th-century). For example, see the description of the practice of meditation (dhyāna) in the 18th-century Gheraṇḍasaṃhitā. Satyānanda has obviously experimented with some images which would not be found in medieval descriptions of visualisation practices (e.g., the cross, the golden egg, etc.), but his understanding of the practice in terms of concentration (dhāraṇa) and meditation leading to a state in which distractions cease is similar to the way visualisation was integrated into yoga texts (i.e., as the auxiliaries, dhāraṇa or dhyāna leading to samādhi).
7. Ending the practice:
The repetition of the Sankalpa and gradually bringing the mind to the waking state.
For a discussion on saṅkalpa, please see point two above. We would like to thank ELIZABETH DE MICHELIS for her comments on a draft of this article.
Yoga Nidra, Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Yoga Publicatins Trust, Munger, Bihar, India. 2009 (Sixth edition, reprinted).
References to the Mahābhārata, Purāṇas and Tantras can be found in the digital libraries of GRETIL (http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/) and Muktabodha (http://www.muktabodha.org/).
Mahanirvana Tantra (Tantra of the Great Liberation), trans. Arthur Avalon (aka Sir John Woodroffe). Published by the library of Alexandria (no date: ISBN 1465537147).
Quotations from Yoga Texts
The dates and bibliographic details of these medieval Sanskrit yoga texts can be found on the first two pages of the published article: ‘Meaning of haṭha in Early Haṭhayoga’ by Jason Birch (Journal of the American Oriental Society).
1. Amanaska 2.64
yathā suptotthitaḥ kaś cid viṣayān pratipadyate |
jāgraty eva tato yogī yoganidrākṣaye tathā ||
2. Yogatārāvalī 24-26
pratyagvimarśātiśayena puṃsāṃ prācīnasaṅgeṣu palāyiteṣu |
prādur bhavet kā cid ajāḍyanidrā prapañcacintāṃ parivarjayantī ||
vicchinnasaṃkalpavikalpamūle niḥśeṣanirmūlitakarmajāle |
nirantarābhyāsanitāntabhadrā sā jṛmbhate yogini yoganidrā ||
viśrāntim āsādya turīyatalpe viśvādyavasthātritayoparisthe |
saṃvinmayīṃ kām api sarvakālaṃ nidrāṃ sakhe nirviśa nirvikalpām ||
3. Haṭhapradīpikā 4.49
abhyaset khecarīṃ tāvad yāvat syād yoganidritaḥ |
samprāptayoganidrasya kālo nāsti kadā cana ||
4. Maṇḍalabrāhmaṇopaniṣat 2.5.2
sarvalokasaṃcāraśīlaḥ paramātmagagane binduṃ nikṣipya śuddhādvaitājāḍyasahajāmanaskayoganidrākhaṇḍānandapadānuvṛttyā jīvanmukto bhavati ||
5. Haṭharatnāvalī 3.70
atha yoganidrāsanam –
pādābhyāṃ veṣṭayet kaṇṭhaṃ hastābhyāṃ pṛṣṭhabandhanam |
tanmadhye śayanaṃ kuryād yoganidrā sukhapradā ||
6. Haṭhapradīpikā 1.34
uttānaṃ śavavad bhūmau śayanaṃ tac chavāsanam |
śavāsanaṃ śrāntiharaṃ cittaviśrāntikārakam ||
7. Amanaska 2.22
ucchinnasarvasaṅkalpo niḥśeṣāśeṣaceṣṭitaḥ |
svāvagamyo layaḥ ko ‘pi jāyate vāgagocaraḥ ||
8. Amanaska 2.104
na karmāṇi tyajed yogī karmabhis tyajyate hy asau |
karmaṇāṃ mūlabhūtasya saṅkalpasyaiva nāśataḥ ||
9. Yogayājñavalkya 7.6-31ab
A parallel passage to this is found in the Vasiṣṭhasaṃhitā (3.61-74), which was composed sometime (perhaps, a century or two) before the Yogayājñavalkya. Some of the emendations below are based on readings in the Vasiṣṭhasaṃhitā. I wish to thank James Mallinson for informing me that this particular practice of pratyāhāra can be traced back to an earlier Vaiṣṇava text called the Vimānārcanākalpa (97) which might be as old as the 9th century (see Gérard Colas, “Vaiṣṇava Saṃhitās”. Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism, vol. 2, 153-167. Leiden: Brill, 2010).
7.6ab aṣṭādaśasu yad vāyor marmasthāneṣu dhāraṇam
7.6cd sthānāt sthānāt samākṛṣya pratyāhāro nigadyate
7.7ab aśvinau ca tathā brūtāṃ gārgi devabhiṣagvarau
7.7cd marmasthānāni siddhyarthaṃ śarīre yogamokṣayoḥ
7.8ab tāni sarvāṇi vakṣyāmi yathāvac chruṇu (em: chṛnu) suvrate
7.8cd pādāṅguṣṭau ca gulphau ca jaṅghāmadhye tathaiva ca
7.9ab cityor mūlaṃ ca jānvoś ca madhye corudvayasya ca
7.9cd pāyumūlaṃ tataḥ paścād dehamadhyaṃ ca meḍhrakam
7.10ab nābhiś ca hṛdayaṃ gārgi kaṇṭhakūpas tathaiva ca
7.10cd tālumūlaṃ ca nāsāyā mūlaṃ cākṣṇoś ca maṇḍale
7.11ab bhruvor madhyaṃ lalāṭaṃ ca mūrdhā ca munisattame
7.11cd marmasthānāni caitāni mānaṃ teṣāṃ pṛthak śṛṇu
7.12ab pādān mānaṃ tu gulphasya sārdhāṅgulacatuṣṭayam
7.12cd gulphāj jaṅghasya madhyaṃ tu vijñeyaṃ tad daśāṅgulam
7.13ab jaṅghamadhyāc cityor mūlaṃ yat tad ekādaśāṅgulam
7.13cd cityor mūlād varārohe jānuḥ syād aṅgulidvayam
7.14ab jānvor navāṅgulaṃ prāhur ūrumadhyaṃ munīśvarāḥ
7.14cd ūrumadhyāt tathā gārgi pāyumūlaṃ nāvāṅgulam
7.15ab dehamadhyaṃ tathā pāyor mūlād ardhaṅguladvayam
7.15cd dehamadhyāt tathā meḍhraṃ tadvat sārdhāṅguladvayam
7.16ab meḍhrān nābhiś ca vijñeyā gārgi sārdhadaśāṅgulam
7.16cd caturdaśāṅgulaṃ nābher hṛnmadhyaṃ ca varānane
7.17ab ṣaḍaṅgulaṃ tu hṛnmadhyāt kaṇṭhakūpaṃ tathaiva ca
7.17cd kaṇṭhakūpāc ca jihvāyā mūlaṃ syāc caturaṅgulam
7.18ab nāsāmūlaṃ tu jihvāyā mūlāc ca caturaṅgulam
7.18cd netrasthānaṃ tu tanmūlāt ardhāṅgulam itīṣyate
7.19ab tasmād ardhāṅgulaṃ viddhi bhruvor antaram ātmanaḥ
7.19cd lalāṭākhyaṃ bhruvor madhyād ūrdhvaṃ syād aṅguladvayam
7.20ab lalāṭād vyomasaṃjñaṃ syād aṅgulitrayam eva hi
7.20cd sthāneṣv eteṣu manasā vāyum āropya dhārayet
7.21ab sthānāt sthānāt samākṛṣya pratyāhāraṃ prakurvataḥ
7.21cd sarve rogā vinaśyanti yogāḥ siddhyanti (em: yogaḥ siddhyati) tasya vai
7.22ab vadanti yoginaḥ kecid yogeṣu kuśalā narāḥ
7.22cd pratyāhāraṃ varārohe śṛṇu tvaṃ tad vadāmy aham
7.23ab sampūrṇakumbhavad vāyum aṅguṣṭhān mūrdhamadhyataḥ
7.23cd dhārayed anilaṃ (?em:dhārayen manasā) buddhyā prāṇāyāmapracoditaḥ
7.24ab vyomarandhrāt samākṛṣya lalāṭe dhārayet punaḥ
7.24cd lalāṭād vāyum akṛṣya bhruvor madhye nirodhayet
7.25ab bhruvor madhyāt samākṛṣya netramadhye nirodhayet
7.25cd netrāt prāṇaṃ samākṛṣya nāsāmūle nirodhayet
7.26ab nāsāmūlāt tu jihvāyā mūle prāṇaṃ nirodhayet
7.26cd jihvāmūlāt samākṛṣya kaṇṭhamūle (em: -kūpe) nirodhayet
7.27ab kaṇṭhamūlāt (em: -kūpāt) tu hṛnmadhye hṛdayān nābhimadhyame
7.27cd nābhimadhyāt punar meḍhre meḍhrād vahnyālaye tataḥ (em:dehasya madhyame)
7.28ab dehamadhyād gude gārgi gudād evorumūlake
7.28cd ūrumūlāt tayor madhye tasmāj jānvor nirodhayet
7.29ab citimūle tatas tasmāj jaṅghayor madhame tathā
7.29cd jaṅghāmadhyāt samākṛṣya vāyuṃ gulphe nirodhayet
7.30ab gulphād aṅguṣṭhayor gārgi pādayos tan nirodhayet
7.30cd sthānāt sthānāt samākṛṣya yas tv evaṃ dhārayet sudhīḥ
7.31ab sarvapāpaviśuddhātmā jīved ā candratārakam
10. Gorakṣaśataka 42-43 (Nowotny’s edition).
This edited text is a late version of the Vivekamārtaṇḍa. The oldest manuscript of the Vivekamārtaṇḍa contains verses on the ajapā mantra, but not 43 below.
42ab hakāreṇa bahir yāti sakāreṇa viśet punaḥ
42cd haṃsa haṃsety amuṃ mantraṃ jīvo japati sarvadā
43ab ṣaṭśatāni divārātrau sahasrāṇy ekaviṃśatiḥ
43cd etatsaṅkhyānvitaṃ mantraṃ jīvo japati sarvadā