Varahi Tantra (English Study)

by Roberta Pamio | 2014 | 29,726 words

This English essay studies the Varahi Tantra and introduces the reader to the literature and philosophy of the Shakta Tradition to which this text belongs. These Shakta Tantras are doctrines where the Mother Goddess is conceived as the Supreme deity who is immanent and transcendental at the same time. The Varahitantra (lit. the "Doctrine of th...

Chapter 26 - Haṭhayoga (according to the Haṭhayogapradīpikā)

This chapter explains Haṭhayoga, as it is exposed by Svātmarāmayogi in his Haṭhayogapradīpikā.[1]

Bhairava describes a few āsanas, i.e. "postures" of the body, which have been accepted by sages such as Vasiṣṭha and by ascetics like Matsyendranātha, the practice of which grants health and lightness of the limbs. Then he speaks about svastikāsana, gomukhāsana, vīrāsana, kūrmāsana, kukkuṭāsana, uttānakurmāsana, dhanurāsana, matsyendrāsana, śavāsana, siddhāsana, padmāsana, siṃhāsana and bhadrāsana (vv.1-33).

It is then said that the best of yogis, who without fatigue practices āsanas and bandhas, should practice purification of the nāḍīs, mudrās and prāṇāyāma. Perfection comes from practical application, not by merely reading śāstras or wearing the garb of a siddha. The cause (karaṇa) of enlightenment is practice (kriyā). The sequence of Haṭhayoga comprehends āsana, kumbhaka, mudrā and concentration on the inner sound. A person who is brahmacārī (celibate), eats moderate food and is engaged in yoga will become a siddha in a year (vv.34-40’). Verses 40"-43 and 45-46 speak about the diet which the yogi should follow, and the food which is prohibited. In verse 44 it is said that a yogi should avoid bad company, fire, women and rules which cause pain to the body, such as bathing early in the morning, fasting and so on.

When one becomes steady in āsana and moderate in diet, one should practice prāṇāyāma by following the instructions of the Guru (v. 49); by practicing prāṇāyāma one attains steadiness of the mind and purifies all the nāḍīs and cakras from impurities (vv.50-54). The practice of prāṇāyāma is explained in verses 55-68. In verses 69-71 it is said that when fat or mucus is excessive, except if the doṣas are balanced, before prāṇāyāma one should practice the ṣaṭkarmas, i.e. the six cleansing techniques, which are dhauti, basti, neti, trāṭaka, naulika and kapālabhāti; these ṣaṭkarmas are described in verses 72-86.

The importance of prāṇāyāma is given in verses 87-90’.

In verses 90"-91’ it is said that the state where the mind is without thoughts is called manonmanī.

Verses 91"-128 speak about the eight kinds of kumbhaka, which are sūryabheda, ujjāyī, sītkārī, śītalī, bhastrikā, bhrāmarī, mūrccha and plāvinī.

In verse 129 it is said that the signs of perfection of haṭhayoga are leanness of the body, a tranquil appearance, manifestation of the nāda, (the inner sound), clear eyes, health, control of bindu (semen), an active digestive fire and the purification of nāḍīs.

Then it is explained that Kuṇḍalinī is the support of yoga: when by the Guru’s grace Kuṇḍalinī is awakened, then all the cakras and granthis (knots) are opened and suṣumnā becomes the pathway of prāṇa. Therefore, one should constantly raise Kuṇḍalinī with effort, by performing mudrās (vv.130-134). Mahāmudrā, mahābandha, mahāvedha and khecarīmudrā are then described (vv.135-180).

Footnotes and references:


See Chapters 1, 2 and 3 (vv.1-52) of the Haṭhayogapradīpikā (New Delhi: 1998).

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