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Thread: In Defense Of Hatha Yoga

  1. #1

    In Defense Of Hatha Yoga

    Ha (Sun) and Tha (Moon) yoga are the third (Asana) and fourth (Pranayama breathing) of Patanjali's Eight Limbs. It's just as Hindu as the other forms of yoga; yet it doesn't get the respect it deserves. It's much more than the asanas. Is it because of its popularity in the West? I'd like to know what Hindus here think.
    Om Shanti.

    Indrajaya

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    Namaste,

    The ashtanga system of Patanjali is very different from hatha-yoga, which is a part of Natha system (especially in its later form promoted by Gorakhnath).

    Ha and Tha are Shiva and Shakti, their union is Samarasa. This is a Natha teaching, and has no relation at all to Patanjali.

  3. #3
    Sorry. I should have said Patanjali's teachings as adapted by Gurujis T Krishnamacharya, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, and BKS Iyengar. Asanas are important in Ashtanga and Iyengar--which makes them Hatha as far as I'm concerned.

    Okay, I admit it. My real agenda is the lack of respect for Ashtanga. I've met yogin from other traditions who act as if it's one step above "power" yoga.
    Om Shanti.

    Indrajaya

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    Quote Originally Posted by Indrajaya
    Sorry. I should have said Patanjali's teachings as adapted by Gurujis T Krishnamacharya, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, and BKS Iyengar. Asanas are important in Ashtanga and Iyengar--which makes them Hatha as far as I'm concerned.

    Okay, I admit it. My real agenda is the lack of respect for Ashtanga. I've met yogin from other traditions who act as if it's one step above "power" yoga.
    In fact both Iyengar and P. Jois are teaching something very different from Shri Krishnamacharya's system. Which is again very different from ashtanga of Patanjali. Krishnamacharya was a Shrivaishnava Guru and not a gymnast like these two.

    The whole thing of Yoga is very confused nowadays. Practically modern "yoga-fitness" is a commercial product made from pieces of Natha and Patanjala systems plus new developments such as Surya-namaskara etc. This is not Yoga and not an integral system, but a sad fabrication and money-intended fraud.

    True Yoga is always a religious and philosophical doctrine (darshana) and never a fitness system for good health and stuff.
    If we speak of "yoga" as a part of Ayurveda, then such yoga is never ashtanga one, but a mere method of treatment.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Indrajaya
    Ha (Sun) and Tha (Moon) yoga are the third (Asana) and fourth (Pranayama breathing) of Patanjali's Eight Limbs. It's just as Hindu as the other forms of yoga; yet it doesn't get the respect it deserves. It's much more than the asanas. Is it because of its popularity in the West? I'd like to know what Hindus here think.
    The word Yoga itself is the central theme of all hindu traditions~to connect to god head. The commercial system you are referring to is surely taken from various hindu systems of hatha yoga. But whether it is hindu or not will depend on how much such systems actually focus on the real aim of yoga vis-a-vis just the physical practice. I'm not aware of how it is practiced in the west~some systems like power yoga looks like totally alienated from the original system. My understanding is that, these teachers in the west themselves shaver the link of their system from the sanatana dharma. I haven't heard many 'pure yoga' teachers ever bringing dharma into the practice. Without dharma the word yoga becomes meaningless in it's true sense. I'm not aware of the particular system you are referring to, so I can't get judgmental there.


    Patanjali didn't create a system of yoga~only formalized and theorized the existing systems. I had the idea that all yoga is patanjalistic in that sense but at the same time none (or very few?) of the yoga systems are patanjalistic in terms of lineage and actual practice.

    --------------------------

    *coupled with the fact that I'm feeling apolitical today and have nothing much to do at the moment, made me to post here.
    Last edited by Singhi Kaya; 30 April 2006 at 06:33 AM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Indrajaya
    Ha (Sun) and Tha (Moon) yoga are the third (Asana) and fourth (Pranayama breathing) of Patanjali's Eight Limbs. It's just as Hindu as the other forms of yoga; yet it doesn't get the respect it deserves. It's much more than the asanas. Is it because of its popularity in the West? I'd like to know what Hindus here think.
    Hatha Yoga is roughly equal to Karma Yoga of vedantic philosophy. Raja Yoga is roughly equal to Jnana/Bhakti Yoga of vedanta. Karma Yoga presupposes Pranayama and Pratyahara in its sadhana. The ultimate goal of Karma yoga is achieve a high level of mental purity and realize Taijasa, and there may be several ways to achieve that....

    Different types of Yoga converge towards the final goal, though they might differ in specifics and external disciplines. One way to compare different Yogas is to check what tattvas are covered in various stages. In Kundalini Yoga, the first six chakras upto Agnya Chakra is an equivalent of Karma Yoga. Kurukshetra Yuddha is nothing but conquest of the Agnya Chakra.

  7. #7
    Namaste truthseeker,

    Can substanciate the first para of your post with some pointers?

    I thought bhakti is closer to karma than jnana. Without devotion desireless work and sacrifice is quite impossible. Infact till now I have mostly seen karma/bhakati to be used often synonomously. Jnana on the other hand involves self-introspection. Jnana by itself has little to do with devotion to a god. Finally the term yoga when used to refer to a system points to practices of a purely technical natureand is not directly related to karma/bhakti or jnana. A yogi or any aspirant must follow and use one or more or all of karma/bhakti/jnana to describe his philosophic view point of his practice. But the actual yogic practice is not karma or bhakti or jnana. He may perform them as an act of devotion or act of work etc. But yoga (in the current context, like when we say raja yoga etc.) refers to the actual techniques being used and not the bhava or the philosophic aspect of the practice.

    I believe that an aspirant is a karmi and a bhakta and aspires to be a jnani. Of course some yogic practices are more related to one of the three views.

    These are oviously my understanding and I want to know where they may be wrong ...
    Last edited by Singhi Kaya; 30 April 2006 at 10:41 AM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Singhi Kaya
    Can substanciate the first para of your post with some pointers?
    Very broadly speaking, different Yogas are not different from each other. They are either independent equivalents of each other, or continuation of each other. The goal of Yoga is tattva jnanam, cultimating in the knowledge of Purusha, through the knowledge of 24 tattvams.

    Hatha/Raja
    Kriya/Kundalini ( or simply Kundalini)
    Karma/Jnana

    are the three major systems

    Bhakti Yoga is just another name of Jnana Yoga.

    I thought bhakti is closer to karma than jnana.
    There are two kinds of bhakti - kevala bhakti, which is ordinary devotion, also called faith. There is a higher bhakti, called the Karma Bhakti, and Jnana Bhakti that results from an actual vision of God. Various texts like Narada sutras elaborate this form of Bhakti.


    Without devotion desireless work and sacrifice is quite impossible. Infact till now I have mostly seen karma/bhakati to be used often synonomously. Jnana on the other hand involves self-introspection. Jnana by itself has little to do with devotion to a god. Finally the term yoga when used to refer to a system points to practices of a purely technical natureand is not directly related to karma/bhakti or jnana. A yogi or any aspirant must follow and use one or more or all of karma/bhakti/jnana to describe his philosophic view point of his practice. But the actual yogic practice is not karma or bhakti or jnana. He may perform them as an act of devotion or act of work etc. But yoga (in the current context, like when we say raja yoga etc.) refers to the actual techniques being used and not the bhava or the philosophic aspect of the practice.

    I believe that an aspirant is a karmi and a bhakta and aspires to be a jnani. Of course some yogic practices are more related to one of the three views.

    These are oviously my understanding and I want to know where they may be wrong ...
    There are no distinctions between any of the systems of Yogas except in the minds of people. I can elaborate how various tattvams are realized in various Yogas at various stages, in a later posting.

    Karma Yoga is not just related to works or sacrifice of the fruits of works. Karma Yoga is tightly bound to Jnana Yoga, and will actually lead to a vision of God on its own. A perfected Karma Yogi will never be born in this world of misery, but will incarnate only in the higher spheres and will finally attain absolute liberation.

  9. #9
    Thanks,

    That all three of karma/bhakti/jnana go together is what I believe too. sepration is superficial and for the mind. Also higher karma and bhakti is not possible without jnana is true. In reality yoga is about realizaing the tattvas as laid down by kapil muni. This is rendered in a different language in tantra in terms of sat-chakras. So I agree with you, but your linking of various yogas with the corresponding tattvas will be helpful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Singhi Kaya
    The word Yoga itself is the central theme of all hindu traditions~to connect to god head.
    I believe the initial question wasn't about this.
    Of course, the word "yoga" is very common to all Hindu traditions and generally refer to religious practice (the very word "religion" is a synonim of "yoga").

    Quote Originally Posted by Singhi Kaya
    Patanjali didn't create a system of yoga~only formalized and theorized the existing systems. I had the idea that all yoga is patanjalistic in that sense but at the same time none (or very few?) of the yoga systems are patanjalistic in terms of lineage and actual practice.
    This is not accurate. Historically Gita was written approximately at the same time as Yoga-sutras or even earlier (Gita is dated by 5th century B.C.E., Yoga-sutras as i remember are post-buddhist). But Patanjali's system is very different from Gita's teaching.
    Yoga of early Upanishads is similar to Gita's one.

    Shaiva-siddhanta system of Yoga is again different from these both, as reflected in Tirumantiram (6th century C.E.).

    Tantric Shaiva Yoga can be dated by approximately 69th centuries C.E., and is reflected in Bhairava-agamas (for example, in Netra-tantra and Vijnana-bhairava). Though it has also eight angas, it is very defferent from Patanjali's system, but is well compatible with Gita's teaching.

    Then, both these ancient systems are different from hatha-yoga propogated by followers of Gorakhnath (12th century and later). Here we have Hathayoga-pradipika, Gheranda-samhita etc. But this hatha-yoga is still a religious system, based upon Natha-shaivism.

    I assume Ghata-yoga of Jagannatha cult is of the same period.

    Modern fitness-yoga is neither Patanjala-ashtanga nor Natha's hatha-yoga. It is a commercial product and not a religious system at all. Speculations around Moksha and spirituality usually are simply a part of brand-name and image of "yoga".

    There cannot be any Yoga without Bhagavan and without darshana.

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