The Linga Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1951 | 265,005 words | ISBN-10: 812080340X | ISBN-13: 9788120803404

This page describes Yogic zones (ashtangayoga-nirupana) which is chapter 8 of the English translation of the Linga Purana, traditionally authored by Vyasa in roughly 11,000 Sanskrit verses. It deals with Shaiva pilosophy, the Linga (symbol of Shiva), Cosmology, Yugas, Manvantaras, Creation theories, mythology, Astronomy, Yoga, Geography, Sacred pilgrimage guides (i.e., Tirthas) and Ethics. The Lingapurana is an important text in Shaivism but also contains stories on Vishnu and Brahma.

Chapter 8 - Yogic zones (aṣṭāṅgayoga-nirūpaṇa)

Sūta said:

1. I shall succinctly mention the yogic zones [yogasthāna] now. They have been established by Śiva himself, O brahmins, for the welfare of men.

2. The portion covered by a vitasti beneath the throat and above the umbilicus is the excellent zone of yoga [yogasthāna]; so also the curling lock of hair below the umbilicus and middle portion between the eye-brows.

3. The knowledge of all topics that arises in the soul is called yoga.[1] The concentration of the mind is possible only through his grace.

4. O excellent brahmins, the form of his grace can be realized by the individual alone. It cannot be imported by Brahmā or any other. It arises itself in the individual gradually.

5. Yoga indicates the region where the Supreme Lord dwells.[2] For the attainment of that region, knowledge is the cause, and this knowledge comes through his grace alone.

6. One should abstain from sensual activities and burn sins by means of perfect knowledge. The achievement of yoga shall be possible only to one who has restrained the activities of his sense-organs.

7. O excellent brahmins, yoga is restraining the functioning of the mind.[3] Eight means have been mentioned for the achievement of yoga.

8-9. They are (l) yama (restraint), (2) niyama (observances), (3) āsana (a particular posture), (4). prāṇāyāma (restraint of breath) (5) pratyāhāra (withdrawal of the senses), (6) dhāraṇā (retention), (7) dhyāna (meditation) and (8) samadhi (ecstatic trance).

10-11. Abstention, by way of austerity is called restraint (yama); O foremost among those who have restraint, the first contributory cause of restraint is non-violence (ahiṃsā), truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy and non-acceptance of gifts are the other causes The root of niyama (observances of vows) is undoubtedly yama alone.

12. Considering all living beings as one’s own self and working for the welfare of all living beings is called non-violence. It helps in achieving the knowledge of self.

13. Retelling precisely what has been seen, heard, inferred or experienced is called truthfulness (satya). It is devoid of injury or infliction of pain on others.

14. The Vedas declare. “One should not utter what is obscene in the presence of the brahmins”. “Even after knowing the defects of others one should not proclaim them to others”—this is another passage in the śruti.

15. Not stealing the possessions of others purposefully, even in emergency, mentally, physically and verbally is non-stealing in brief.

16. Not indulging is sexual intercouse,[4] mentally, verbally or physically is the vow of celibacy, with reference to the ascetics and the religious students.

17. This holds good in regard to the anchorites, forestdwellers and widowers. I shall now tell you about the vow of celibacy of the householders who live with their wives.

18. In their case, as prescribed, indulgence in sexual intercourse with their own wives and abstention from it with other women mentally, physically and verbally should be understood as brahmacarya.

19. The householder shall take ablution after indulging in sexual intercourse with his own wife. If he is in yogic communion with his self he is undoubtedly a celibate.

20. In the case of non-violence (ahiṃsā) too, the same rule is applicable. Violence sanctioned by Śruti, in regard to the brāhmaṇas, preceptors and sacrifice comes under ahiṃsā.

21. Women are always to be avoided. One should stay far off from them. A shrewd person views them as he views the corpses.

22. He should have the same attitude in the sexual intercourse with his own wife, as when discharging the faeces and urine on the ground. There should be no attitude other than this.

23. Woman is like a burning coal; man is like a vessel of ghee. He should always avoid contact with women therefore.

24. If we ponder over this, we shall know that there is no satiety in sexual pleasures. Hence, one should practise detached attitude mentally, physically and verbally.

25. Lust is never suppressed by indulging in sexual pleasures. Just as fire burns vigorously if ghee is poured in, so also lust is increased by means of indulgence.[5]

26. Hence the yogin should always practise renunciation for achieving immortality, since he who is not detached is born and re-born in different wombs.

27. The Vedas[6] declare that it is only through renunciation that immortality is attained. O brahmins, the most excellent among the knowers of Śruti and Smṛti, it is not possible through rites, through progeny or through offerings of materials of worship.

28. Hence one should practise detachment, mentally, verbally and physically. Abstention from sexual intercourse, except during the prescribed period, after menstruation is stated as celibacy in the case of householders.

29-31. Thus the restraints (yamas) are succinctly mentioned. I shall now tell you the observances (niyamas). They are ten in number: (1) cleanliness (śauca), (2) sacrifice (ijyā), (3) penance (tapas), (4) charitable gift (dāna), (5) study of the Vedas (svādhyāya) (6) restraint on the organs of generation (upasthanigraha), (7) holy rites (vrata), (8) fast (upavāsa), silence (mauna), and holy bath (snāna). According to some, observances (niyama) mean (1) absence of craving (anīhā), (2) cleanliness (śauca), (3) satisfaction (tuṣṭi), (4) penance (tapas), (5) muttering of Śiva’s mantra (japa), (6) meditation on Śiva and (7) postures such as padmaka. Of these cleanliness is twofold: (1) external and (2) internal. Of the two the internal is superior to the external.

32-35. One who has external cleanliness should practise internal cleanliness too. The holy bath should be conducted in accordance with the injunctions. It is threefold: (1) Agneya (fiery), (2) Vāruṇa (watery) and (3) Brāhma (consisting of Brahman). It is only after he has practised the external bath that he should practise the internal. If he is devoid of internal purity, he is still dirty even if he applies clay over his body and plunges into the waters of the tīrthas. O excellent brahmins, the moss, the fishes, the sharks and the animals that prey upon fishes remain ever in water. But are they pure? Internal cleanliness should always be pursued in accordance with the injunctions.

36. Internal cleanliness is mentioned as follows. One should apply the holy ashes of detachment with a feeling of devotion. One should take a holy dip into the waters of knowledge of the soul. This is how one can attain purification.

37-39. Siddhis are accomplished only in a pure and not in an impure person. A person of holy rites who is satisfied with the sustenance he gets by justifiable means has the characteristics of satiety (tuṣṭi). He is not worried about his needs. Austerity is the right observance of the holy rites Cāndrāyaṇa, etc, Svādhyāya is the threefold repetition of Oṃkāra mantra, i.e. (1) Vācika—oral utterance which is the basest of the three; (2) Upāṃśuslow muttering which is better than Vācika; (3) Manasa—when the sound does not come out of the throat which is the best of all. This is stated in detail in the ritualistic text on the five-syllabled mantra.

40-43. Śiva-praṇidhāna (contemplation of Śiva) mentally, physically and verbally, unflinching devotion to the preceptor, withdrawal of the organs of sense from the objects of worldly pleasures—this in brief is called pratyāhāra (withdrawal). Dhāraṇā (retention) is the fixation of the mind in the proper place. Dhyāna (meditation) comes through the normalcy of Dhāraṇā (retention). If it is coupled with thought, it is samadhi (ecstatic trance). In samadhi there is concentration of the mind and meditation; here in the perception of object is entirely excluded.

44. In samādhi[7] the supreme consciousness alone shines, as though it were devoid of physical body. Prāṇāyāma (control of breath) is the root of dhyāna, samādhi, etc.

45. The wind within the body is prāṇa. Its restraint is yama. As stated by the brahmins it is threefold: (1) slow (manda), (2) middling (madhya) and (3) uttama (superior).

46. The restraint of the prāṇa and apāna is called prāṇāyāma. The magnitude of the restraint of breath is stated to be twelve moments.

47-50. The slow (manda)[8] consists of twelve moments which form one stroke or blow (udghāta). The middling consists of two strokes. The superior has three strokes, i.e. thirty moments. The three respectively generate sweating, shivering and rising up. When the following symptoms are seen the prāṇāyāma[9] is excellent, for it denotes the onset of bliss. The symptoms are: reeling due to drowsiness, horripilation, sensation of hearing some sound, pressing of one’s own limbs, shivering, vertigo born of sweating, fixation, absence of knowledge and unconsciousness.

51-54. Prāṇāyāma is of two types: sagarbha and agarbha.[10] If it is pursued with japa, it is sagarbha; if without japa, it is agarbha. It is like an elephant, or an eight-footed animal śarabha or a formidable lion. When caught and tamed properly it becomes submissive. Similarly, for the yogins, the wind which is by nature unstable and uncontrollable becomes normal and subservient by proper practice. Just as the lion or the elephant or the Śarabha, though ferocious, is tamed after a while with a proper training, so also the wind attains normalcy and equanimity due to constant acquaintance and practice.

55-57. He who practises yoga never suffers calamity. When the prāṇa is properly trained it turns the defects of the mind, speech or body, preserving the body of the practIser. Thus, if the devotee perfects himself by taking recourse to the prāṇāyāma his defects perish; the very breath is conquered by him, and the divine quiescence etc. are achieved.

58-62. The attributes of the prāṇāyāma are four, viz, śānti, praśānti, dīpti and prasāda. They are explained in order: O brahmins, the first of these four is śānti. It means the suppression of sins congenital or adventitious. Praśānti is a perfect restraint in speech.[11] All round, all time brilliance, O brahmins, is called dīpti. Prasāda is the clarity of the mind which is of four types. It is the clarity of the sense-organs, of the intellect and the organic winds. The organic winds—prāṇa, apāna, samāna, udāna and vyāna have their functional names: Nāga, Kūrma, Kṛkala, Devadatta and Dhanañjaya respectively. The clarity of these winds is called prasāda.

63-67. The wind which traverses through the body is called prāṇa; that which brings down food and drink is called apāna; that which enables the limbs of the body to bend is called vyāna which incites the ailments too; that which excites and afflicts the vulnerable points (in the body) is called udāna. That which normalizes the functions of the organs is called samāna. Thus the first set of five winds has been explained to you. The wind Nāga functions in the act of belching; the Kūrma in the opening of eyes; Kṛkala in sneezing; Devadatta in yawning and Dhanañjaya in making a loud report. It is present even in the dead body. By restraining these winds, one can attain prasāda. O brahmins, in the fourfold set of attributes, prasāda figures as the fourth.

68-69. O brahmins, the intellect has these synonyms—viz., visvara, mahat, prajñā, manas, brahmā, citi, smṛti, khyāti, saṃvit, Īśvara and mati. It is through prāṇāyāma that the clarity of intellect is achieved.

70-74. O excellent sages, Visvara is so called because it compromises between, two conflicting opposites. Since it is the first and the greatest of all the tattvas arising out of Prakṛti it is called mahat. It is called prajñā because it is the repository of all means of knowledge. It is manas because it thinks. It is Brahmā because it is big and swells up. O most excellent among the knowers of Brahman, it is called citi because it gathers together all activities for the sake of enjoyment. It is called smṛti because it enables one to remember things. Since it obtains everything it is called Saṃvit. Because it is known everywhere by means of knowledge it is called khyāti.[12] It is called Īśvara because it is the overlord of all elements and comprehends everything. O sages, most excellent among the intelligent, it is called Mati because it is the instrument of thought subjectively and objectively. It is called Buddhi because it enlightens things and is itself the instrument of enlightenment.

75. The perspicuity of this Buddhi is achieved through Prāṇāyāma. By restraining himself one shall burn all defects by taking recourse to prāṇāyāma.

76. By means of pratyāhāra (withdrawal of sense-organs) and Dhāraṇās (retentions) one shall destroy sins. By meditating on the mundane objects as if they were poisonous one destroys all ungodly qualities.

77. O excellent ascetics, one should increase the power of intellect by means of samadhi. The eight ancillaries of yoga should be practised only after securing the proper place for yogic practice.

78. The knower of the Atman shall then duly secure Asanas (correct postures) for achieving yogic results. If the place and time are not suitable he cannot have even a glimpse of yoga.

79-86, The yogic exercises should not be practised in the the following places or circumstances—near the fire, within water, on a heap of dry leaves, in a place infested with creatures, in the cremation ground, in a dilapidated cowpen, in the four crossroads, in a place full of noises in a place generating fear, in a monastery, or the anthill, in an inauspicious place, in a place inhabited by wicked men and in a place infested with mosquitoes. One should not practise yogic exercises when there is some, ailment in the body or when the mind is in dejection.

The devotee shall delightedly practise the ancillaries of yoga in the following places. It should be a well protected place, auspicious and pleasing; or a cave in a mountain or shrine of Siva, or a well-guarded park or a forest, or a corner in one’s own house devoid of people and animals. It should be scrupulously clean, well scrubbed, smeared with cowdung and rendered beautiful in diverse ways. It shall be spotlessly clean like the surface of a mirror. It shall be fumigated with black agallocum. Different kinds of flowers should be strewn all round. A canopy should adorn the whole place. It should be endowed with roots, fruits, tender sprouts, kuśa grass and variegated flowers. The practitioner of yoga should sit in a balanced posture. He should practise the ancillaries of the yogic exercises with delight in his mind. He should pay reverence to the preceptor Lord Śiva, Goddess Umā, Vināyaka, the leading yogins and their disciples. He should practise the posture of svastika[13] padma[14] or ardhāsana.[15]

87-90. He should sit with the knees on a level or kneel on one of the knees. Whatever the posture may be he shall sit steadily withdrawing his feet. He shall keep his mouth shut, eyes closed, chest projected in front. With his heels he should cover the testicles and the penis. With his head somewhat lifted up and the rows of teeth not touching each other, he should observe the tip of his nose. He shall not look at the quarters. He shall cover up his tamas by means of rajas and the rajas by means of sattva. Then stationing himself in the sattva he shall practise meditation of Śiva.

91. With great concentration, he shall meditate in the pericarp of the lotus, on the Supreme Being which is symbolised by Oṃkāra and is as pure as the candle flame.

92-95. He should meditate within three aṅgulas below the umbilicus, on the excellent lotus having (at its centre) an octagon, a pentagon or a triangle. He should also meditate on the fire, moon and sun together with their consorts; or the order may be: first the sun, then the moon, and then the fire. Or the order may be first the fire, then the sun and then the moon as prescribed in the Śāstras. He should conceive the four[16] aims—Virtue etc. beneath the fire and ponder over the three guṇas over the zone. He should then think of Rudra stationed in sattva and adorned by Umā.

96. He should perform the rite of meditation in the umbilicus or the throat, or the middle of the eye-brows or on the forehead or on the crest of the head in accordance with the injunctions.

97. He should meditate on Śiva (sitting in the lotus with two, sixteen, twelve, ten, six or four petals in due order).

98-100. He should meditate on Him in a spot as lustrous as gold or as splendid as burning coal or very white or as refulgent as twelve suns or as brilliant as the disc of the moon or as flashing as millions of lightning streaks or as lustrous as fire or as glittering as a circle of lightning or as refulgent as a crore of diamond pieces or as brilliant as a ruby. He should practise meditation on the image of blue and red coloured lord (Śiva).

101. He shall meditate on Maheśvara in the heart; on Sadāśiva in the lotus-like umbilicus; on Candracūḍa on the forehead and on Śaṅkara in the middle of eyebrows.

102-108. He shall meditate on Śiva on his forehead; on Mahādeva (the great lord) in his lotus-like heart and in. the mind. The great lord is of the following description: He is devoid of impurities. He is unsullied. He is the quiescent Brahman in the form of knowledge. He has no specific characteristics. He cannot be particularly pointed out. He is minuter than the atom. He is splendid and supportless. He cannot be reflected upon. He is devoid of death and birth. He is liberation itself. He is ambrosial, imperishable and unborn. He is miraculous, the greatest and the largest bliss- He is devoid of defects and qualities. He is subtler than the subtlest, auspicious, self-cognizable, incomprehensible. He is the greatest lord identical with perfect knowledge. He is beyond the scope of sense-organs. He has no semblance. He is the greatest principle, greater than the greatest, devoid of conditioning adjuncts, comprehensible through meditation, non-dualistic, beyond all darkness and the greatest Being. The devotee should meditate in the umbilicus on Sadāśiva, the lord identical with devas.

109-111. He shall meditate on lord Śiva identical with pure knowledge, in the middle of the body through suṣumnā[17] pass or through the Kumbhaka. He shall then perform thirty two recakas (respirations) concentrating on the heart and umbilicus. O excellent brahmins, then eschewing Recaka and Pūraka[18] respirations and taking recourse only to Kumbhaka he shall meditate on Siva in the middle of the body with normal elegance.

112-116. After identifying with the lord he will comprehend the bliss of Brahman emerging from elegance and the state of perfect equanimity.

Twelve prāṇāyāmas make one dhāraṇā; twelve dhāraṇās make one meditation and twelve meditations make one Samādhi. O brahmins, one may attain yogic realization by contact with wise men. or by his own efforts, gradually. Of course, even as he practises yoga, there may be obstacles in this path. But they perish through constant practice by the direction of the preceptor.

Footnotes and references:


Yoga is defined as the achievement of knowledge of all objects by the personal soul (jīva).


K. reads [nirvāṇaṃ] for [nirmāṇam]


Cf. Pātañjala Yogasūtra [yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ |] 1.1


For eight kinds of maithuna, cf. Śivatoṣiṇī (a commentary on the Liṅgapurāṇa). [smaraṇa kīrtanaṃ keliḥ prekṣaṇaṃ guhyabhāṣaṇam | saṃkalpo'dhyavasāyaśca kriyānirvṛtireva ca | etanmaithunamaṣṭāṅgaṃ pravadantri manīṣiṇaḥ || viparītaṃ brahmacaryametadevāṣṭalakṣaṇam ||] Brahmacarya (celibacy) is defined as the reverse of māithuna (sexual indulgence) and it imparts vigour and force: Cf. Yogasūtra: [brahmacaryapratiṣṭhāyāṃ vīryalābhaḥ |]


Pañcadaśī. 7.47.


Na karmaṇā na prajayā dhanena, Taittirīya Āraṇyaka. 10.10.3; Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad. 10.5


Samādhī is a fixation of the mind on the personal soul (jīva), and further, of the personal soul on the supreme soul, so as to identify the contemplator with the object meditated upon. This is the eighth and last stage of yoga.—Cf. Haṭhayogapradīpikā:—salile saindhavaṃ yadvatsāmyaṃ bhajati yogataḥ | tathātmamanasoraikyaṃ samādhirabhidhīyate || tatsamañca dvayoraikyaṃ jīvātmaparamātmanoḥ | praṇaṣṭasarvasaṃkalpaḥ samādhiḥ so'bhidhīyate ||]—With Buddhists it is the fourth and last stage of dhyāna.


The time of mātrā is that of a winking and opening the eye-lids once, or that of a prosodial instant. The udghāta prāṇāyāma extends during twelve mātrās or twelve prosodial instants.—It is defined in the Mārkaṇḍeya thus:—[nimiṣonmeṣaṇe mātrā tato laghvakṣare tathā | prāṇāyāmasya saṃkhyārthaḥ dvādaśamātrakaḥ ||]—Śiva-Purāṇa. defines mātrā as a unit of time required for the snapping of the fingers after moving them round the knees neither speedily nor slowly. (Vāyavīya 37.31).


For the kinds and characteristics of Kumbhaka prānāyāma, see Haṭhayogapradīpikā.


According to Śivatoṣiṇī (a commentary on the Liṅgapurāṇa). sagarbha is a variety of Kumbhaka that includes pūraka (inhaling) and recaka (exhaling) varieties of prāṇāyāma.—[sagarbhaḥ pūrakarecakasahitaḥ, agarbhaḥ kevalaḥ |] Śiva-Purāṇa. defines agarbha as the kind of Prāṇāyāma wherein the breath is restrained without meditation and japa, and sagarbha as that wherein meditation and japa are allowed. (Vāyavīya 37.33, 34).


Praśānti [praśāntiḥ]—restrained or restricted speech. Śivatoṣiṇī (a commentary on the Liṅgapurāṇa). quotes from the Mahabharata:—[avyāhṛtaṃ vyāhṛtācchreṣṭhamāhuḥ satya vaded vyāhṛtaṃ taddvitīyam | dharmaṃ vaded vyāhṛtaṃ tattṛtīyaṃ priya vaded vyāhṛta taccaturtham ||][?]


khyāti—a category of intellect (Matsyapurāṇa. 3.17). It is so called because it is the source of the perceived creation or the cosmos which becomes visible or the object of perception by the mind and the senses.


svastika—a posture of sitting practised by a yogin in which the toes are placed in the inner hollow of the knees. Śiva-Purāṇa. lists eight types of the yogic pose: (1) svastika, (ii) padma, (iii) ardhendu (iv) vīra, (v) yoga, (vi) prasādhita, (vii) paryaṅka, (viii) yatheṣṭa.


padmāsana—a particular posture of the body in religious meditation. Cf.—[ūrumūle vāmapāda punastu dakṣiṇaṃ padam | vāmorau sthāpayitvā tu padmāsanamiti smṛtam]—Śivatoṣiṇī (a commentary on the Liṅgapurāṇa). quotes from HYP. pp. 25-26:—[ūrumadhye tathottānau pāṇī kṛtvā tato dṛśau | nāsāgre vinyasedrājadantamūle tu jihvayā || uttambhya cubukaṃ vakṣasyutthāpya pavanaṃ śanaiḥ | idaṃ padmāsanaṃ proktaṃ sarvavyādhivināśanam ||]


Construe ‘ardhāsanam’ with ‘padmam’ i.e. the lotus half seat. It is also called siddhāsana.


This group of four consists of (i) dharma, (ii) jñāna, (iii) vairāgya and (iv) aiśvarya.


[kanyasamārgaḥ=suṣumnānāhīrūpo mārgaḥ |]—Cf. Śivagitā as quoted in st.—[anantaikordhvagā nāhī mūrdhaparyantamañjasā | suṣumneti samādiṣṭā tayā gacchan vimucyate ||]—It is a vein, of the body lying between those called iḍā and piṅgalā and supposed to be one of the passages for the breath or spirit.


[recakam pūrakaṃ tyaktvā].—Kumbhaka alone is recommended for the attainment of spiritual goal; recaka and pūraka are excluded. Cf. Haṭhayogapradīpikā p. 70—[kumbhake kevale siddhe recapūrakavarjite | na tasya mānuṣa kiñcit triṣu lokeṣu vidyate ||]

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