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"NOW I will describe a regular method of attaining to Samãdhi, which destroys death, is the means of obtaining happiness, and gives the Brahmãnanda (Brahmanbliss)."[1]  

[1] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 2

All who adhere to the way of life prescribed by Yoga aspire to achieve this ultimate state of consciousness, which is referred to by many different names. "Rãja Yoga, Samãdhi, Unmanî, Manonmani, Amaratva, Laya, Tattva, Sunya, Asunder, Parama Pada, Amanaska, Advaita, Nirãbamba, Niranjana, Jivan Mukti, Sahajã, Turyã, are all synonymous."[2]  

[2] Ibid., 3-4.


Various figures of speech are employed to suggests its content.

As salt being dissolved in water becomes one with it, so when Atmã and mind become one, it is called Samãdhi. When the Prãna becomes lean (vigourless) and the mind becomes absorbed, then their becoming equal is called Samãdhi. This equality of the self and the ultra self, when all Samkalpas [mental processes, ideation] cease to exist, is called Samãdhi. Who can know the true greatness of the Raja Yoga? Knowledge, Mukti, Steadiness, and Siddhis can be learnt by instructions from a Guru alone. Indifference to worldly enjoyments is very difficult to obtain. It is very difficult to get the condition of Samãdhi without the favour of a true Guru.[3]

[3] Ibid., 5-9.

The fruit appears after the static force called Kundalinî is made dynamic.

By means of various postures and different Kumbhakas, when the great power (Kundali) awakens, then the Prãna becomes absorbed in Sunya (Samãdhi). The Yogi whose sakti has awakened, and who has renounced all actions, attains to the condition of Samãdhi without any effort. When the Prãna flows in the Susumnã and the mind has entered Sunya, then the Yogi is free from the effects of Karmas.[4]

[4] Ibid., 10-12.

The way to accomplish this end is told.

Always living in a good locality and having known the secret of Susumnã, which has a middle course, and making the Vãyu move in it, (the Yogi) should restrain the Vãyu in the Brahmarandhra [fontanel]. Time, in the form of night and day, is made by the sun and the moon. That the Susumnã devours this time (death) even, is a great secret. In this body there are 72,000 openings of Nãdis; of these, the Susumnã which has the Sãmbhavî Sakti [the Divine Energy (Sakti) of the Peaceful One (Sambhu) i.e. Siva] in it, is the only important one, the rest are useless. By this Sakti Vãyu enters the Susumnã without restraint in him who has awakened the Kundali by the (gastric) fire. The Prãna, flowing through the Susumnã, brings about the condition of Manonmani (mindlessness); other practices are simply futile for the Yogi. By whom the breathing has been controlled, by him the activities of the mind also have been controlled; and conversely, by whom the activities of the mind have been controlled, by him the breathing also has been controlled.[5]

[5] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 16-21.

Mind is the master of the senses, and the breath is the master of the mind. The breath in its turn is subordinate to the laya (absorption), and that laya depends on the nãda [sound]. This very laya is what is called moksa, or, being a sectarian, you may not call it moksa, but when the mind becomes absorbed, a sort of ecstasy is experienced. By the suspension of respiration and the annihilation of the enjoyments of the senses, when the mind becomes devoid of all the activities and remains changeless, then the Yogi attains to the Laya stage. When all the thoughts and activities are destroyed, then the Laya stage is produced, to describe which is beyond the power of speech, being known by self-experience alone. They often speak of Laya, Laya; but what is meant by it? Laya is simply the forgetting of the objects of senses when the Vãsanãs (desires) [innate propensities] do not rise into existence again.[6]

[6] Ibid., 29-33.


The whole of this world and all the schemes of the mind are but the creations of thought. Discarding these thoughts and taking leave of all conjectures, O Rãma! obtain peace. As camphor disappears in fire, and rock salt in water, so the mind united with the ãtmã loses its identity. All that appears is the knowable, the mind is called knowledge. When the knowable and the knowledge, are both destroyed equally, then there is no second way (i.e., Duality is destroyed). All this movable and immovable world is the vision of the mind. When the mind has attained to the unmanî avasthã, there is no dvaita (from the absence of the working of the mind). Mind disappears by removing the knowable, and, on its disappearance, ãtmã only remains behind.[7]

[7] Ibid., 57-61.

Samãdhi cannot be experienced until a condition of mindlessness has been created. All modifications of the thinking principle must cease; all thought forms must be removed, yet some form of awareness must remain. Without Yoga experience it is difficult to imagine what is meant; that is why teachers do not even try to explain. Therefore, I, too, pass by the theory of samãdhi arid describe the more practical aspects of Yoga.

The method used to absorb the mind and induce the mental condition called samãdhi,[8]  


[8] There are several methods given in Gheranda Samhitã, vii, 12-3: "The Samãdhi is a great Yoga; it is acquired by great good fortune. It is obtained through the grace and kindness of the Guru, and by intense devotion to him. That Yogin quickly attains this beautiful practice of Samãdhi, who has confidence (or faith) in knowledge, faith in his own Guru, faith in his own Self and whose mind (manas) awakens to intelligence from day to day. Separate the Manas from the body, and unite it with the Paramãtman. This is known as Samãdhi or Mukti, liberation from all states of consciousness. I am Brahman, I am nothing else, verily am I Brahman. I am not participator of sorrow, I am Existence, Intelligence, and Bliss; always free and one with Brahman. The Samãdhi is four-fold, i.e. Dhyãna, Nãda, Rasãnãnda, and Laya respectively accomplished by Sambhavi Mudrã, Khecarî Mudrã, Bhrãmari Mudrã, and Yoni-Mudrã. The Bhakti-Yoga Samãdhi is fifth, and Rãja-Yoga Samãdhi, attained through Mano-Murcchã Kumbhaka, is the sixth form of Samãdhi.

"DHYANA-YOGA SAMADHI: Performing the Sãmbhavî Mudrã perceive the Atman. Having seen once the Brahman in a Bindu (point of light), fix the mind on that point. Bring the Atman in Kha (Ether), bring the Kha (Ether or Space) in the Atman. Thus seeing the Atman full of Kha (Space or Brahman), nothing will obstruct him. Being full of perpetual bliss, the man enters Samãdhi (Trance or Ecstasy).

"NADA-YOGA SAMADHI: Turn the tongue upwards (closing the wind-passages), by performing the Khecarî Mudrã by so doing, Samãdhi (trance asphyxiation) will be induced; there is no necessity of performing anything else.

"RASANANDA-YOGA SAMADHI: Let him perform the Bhrãmari Kumbhaka, drawing in the air slowly: expel the air slowly and slowly, when a buzzing sound like that of a beetle arises. Let him carry the Manas and place it in the centre of this sound of beetle-humming. By so doing, there will be Samãdhi and by this, knowledge of soham (I am He) arises, and a great happiness takes place.

"LAYA-SIDDHI-YOGA SAMADHI: Performing the Yoni-Mudrã let him imagine that he is Sakti, and with this feeling enjoy the bliss of Paramãtman (and that both have been united in one). By this he becomes full of bliss, and realises Aham Brahma I am Brahman. This conduces to Advaita Samãdhi.

"BHAKTI-YOGA SAMADHI: Let him contemplate within his heart his special Deity; let him be full of ecstasy by such contemplation; let him, with thrill, shed tears of happiness, and by so doing he will become entranced. This leads to Samãdhi and Manonmani.

"RAJA-YOGA SAMADHI: Performing Manomurcchã Kumbhaka, unite the Manas with the Atman. By this Union is obtained Raja-Yoga Samãdhi.

"PRAISE OF SAMADHI: O Canda! thus have I told thee about Samãdhi which leads to emancipation. Rãja-Yoga Samãdhi, Unmanî, Sahajãvasthã are all synonyms, and mean the Union of Manas with Atman. Visñu is in water, Visñu is in the earth, Visñu is on the peak of the mountain; Visñu is in the midst of the volcanic fires and flames; the whole universe is full of Visñu. All those that walk on land or move in the air, all living and animate creation, trees, shrubs, roots, creepers and grass, etc., oceans and mountains-all, know ye to be Brahman. See them all in Atman. The Atman confined in the body is Caitanya or Consciousness, it is without a second, the Eternal, the Highest; knowing it separate from body, let him be free from desires and passions. Thus is Samãdhi obtained free from all desires. Free from attachment to his own body, to son, wife, friends, kinsmen, or riches; being free from all let him obtain fully the Samãdhi. Siva has revealed many Tattvas, such as Laya Amrta, etc., of them, I have told thee an abstract, leading to emancipation. O Canda! thus have I told thee of Samãdhi, difficult of attainment. By knowing this, there is no rebirth in this Sphere."

described in the text, is commonly known as the practice of nãda, or listening to the internal sound. It was highly recommended to me by various teachers in all parts of India. For the benefit of the reader I will include the full statement given in the text.

I will now describe the practice of anãhata nãda (heart sound), as propounded by Goraksa Nãtha for the benefit of those who are unable to understand the principles of knowledge- a method which is liked by the ignorant also. Adinãtha propounded 1.25 crore [ten million] methods of trance and they are all extant. Of these, the hearing of the anãhata nãda (heart sound) is the only one, which is the chief, in my opinion. Sitting with Mukta Asana and with the Sãmbhavî Mudrã, the Yogi should hear the sound inside his right ear, with collected mind. The ears, the eyes, the nose, and the mouth should be closed[9]  

[9] This is called yoni-mudrã. See Gheranda Samhitã, iii, 37-44: "Sitting in Siddhãsana, close the ears with the thumbs, the eyes with the index fingers, the nostrils with the middle fingers, the upper lip with the ring-fingers, and the lower lip with the little fingers. Draw in the Prãna-Vãyu by Kãkî-mudrã and join it with the Apãna-Vãyu; contemplating the six chakras in their orders, let the wise one awaken the sleeping serpent-goddess Kundalinî, by repeating the mantra Hum and Hamsa, and raising the Sakti (Force-kundalinî) with the jiva, place her at the thousand-petalled lotus. Being himself full of Sakti, being joined with the great Siva, let him think of the Supreme Bliss. Let him contemplate on the union of Siva (spirit) and Sakti (force or energy) in this world. Being himself all bliss, let him realise that he is the Brahman. This Yoni mudrã is a great secret, difficult to be obtained even by the Devas. By once obtaining perfection in its practice, one enters verily into Samãdhi. By the practice of this Mudrã, one is never polluted by the sins of killing a Brãhmana, killing a foetus, drinking liquor, or polluting the bed of the Preceptor. All the mortal sins and the venal sins are completely destroyed by the practice of this Mudrã. Let him therefore practise it, if he wishes for emancipation."

Compare Siva Samhitã, iv, 1-11: "First with a strong inspiration fix the mind in the Adhãra lotus (Mulãdhãra). Then engage in contracting the Yoni, which is situated in the perennial space. There let him contemplate that the God of Love resides in that Brahma Yoni and that he is beautiful like Bandhuk flower (Pentapetes Phoenicia)-brilliant as tens of millions of suns, and cool as tens of millions of moons. Above this (Yoni) is a very small and subtle flame, whose form is intelligence. Then let him imagine that a union takes place there between himself and that flame (the Siva and Sakti). (Then imagine that)-There go up through the Susumnã vessel, the three bodies in their due order (i.e. the etheric, the astral, and the mental bodies). There is emitted in every chakra the nectar, the characteristic of which is great bliss. Its colour is whitish rosy (pink), full of splendour, showering down in jets the immortal fluid.

 Let him drink this wine of immortality which is divine, and then again enter the Kulã (i.e. perennial space). Then let him go again to the Kulã through the practice of mãtrã Yoga (i.e. prãnãyãma). 

This Yoni has been called by me in the Tantras as equal to life. Again let him be absorbed in that Yoni, where dwells the fire of death-the nature of Siva etc. Thus has been described by me the method of practising the great Yoni Mudrã. From success in its practice, there is nothing which cannot be accomplished. Even those mantras which are deformed (chinna) or paralysed (Kilita), scorched (stambhita) by fire, or whose flame has become attenuated, or which are dark, and ought to be abandoned, or which are evil, or too old, or which are proud of their budding youth, or have gone over to the side of the enemy, or weak and essenceless without vitality; or which have been divided into hundreds of parts, even they become fertile through time and method. All these can give powers and emancipation when properly given to the disciple by the Guru, after having initiated him according to proper rites, and bathed him a thousand times. This Yoni Mudrã has been described, in order that the student may deserve (to be initiated into the mysteries of) and receive the mantras.

"He who practises Yoni Mudrã is not polluted by sin were he to murder a thousand Brãhmanas or kill all the inhabitants of the three worlds :-Were he to kill his teacher or drink wine or commit theft, or violate the bed of his preceptor, he is not stained by these sins also, by virtue of this mudrã. Therefore, those who wish for emancipation should practise this daily. Through practice (abhyãsa), success is obtained, through practice one gains liberation. Perfect consciousness is gained through practice. Yoga is attained through practice; success in Mudrãs comes by practice; through practice is gained success in prãnãyãma. Death can be cheated of its prey through practice and man becomes the conqueror of death by practice. Through practice one gets the power of vãh (prophecy), and the power of going everywhere, through mere exertion of will. This Yoni Mudrã should be kept in great secrecy, and not be given to everybody. Even when threatened with death, it should not be revealed or given to others."

and then the clear sound is heard in the passage of the Susumnã which has been cleansed of all its impurities.[10]

[10] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 64-7.

The different stages of developments are determined according to the sounds which appear.

In all the Yogas, there are four states: (1) Arambha or the preliminary, (2) Ghata, or the state of a jar, (3) Parichaya (knowledge), (4) Nispatti (consummation).[11]

[11] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 68. Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 29: "In all kinds of Yoga, there are four stages of Prãnãyãma:- u. Arambha-avasthã (the state of beginning); 2. Ghata-avasthã (the state of co-operation of Self and Higher Self); 3. Parichaya-avasthã (knowledge); 4. Nispatti-avasthã (the final consummation)."

[The first stage], Arambha Avasthã, [is reached] when the Brahma granthi (in the heart) is pierced through by Prãnãyãma, then a sort of happiness is experienced in the vacuum of the heart, and the anãhata [the heart chakra] sounds, like various tinkling sounds of ornaments, are heard in the body. In the Arambha, a Yogis body becomes divine, glowing, healthy, and emits a divine smell. The whole of his heart becomes void.[12]

[12] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 69-70. Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 27-9: "When thus the nãdis of the truth perceiving Yogi are purified, then his defects being all destroyed, he enters the first stage in the practice of Yoga called Arambha. Certain signs are perceived in the body of the Yogi whose nãdi have been purified. I shall describe, in brief, all these various signs. The body of the person practising the regulation of breath becomes harmoniously developed, emits sweet scent, and looks beautiful and lovely.


In the second stage, [Ghata Avasthã], the airs are united into one and begin moving in the middle channel. The Yogis posture becomes firm, and he becomes wise like a god. By this means the Visñu knot (in the throat) is pierced which is indicated by the highest pleasure experienced, and then the Bheri sound (like the beating of a kettle drum) is evolved in the vacuum in the throat.[13]

[13] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 71-2. Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 55-9: "When by the practice of Prãnãyãma, the Yogi reaches the state of Ghata (water-jar), then for him there is nothing in this circle of universe which he cannot accomplish. The Ghata is said to be that state in which the Prãna and the Apãna Vãyus, the Nãda and the Bindu, the Jivãtmã (the Human Spirit) and the Paramãtmã (the Universal Spirit) combine and co-operate. When he gets the power of holding breath (i.e. to be in trance) or three hours, then certainly the wonderful state of Pratyãhãra is reached without fail. Whatever object the Yogi perceives, let him consider it to be the spirit. When the modes of action of various senses are known, then they can be conquered. When, through great practice, the Yogi can perform one Kumbhaka for full three hours, when for eight Dandas (3 hours) the breathing of the Yogi is suspended, then that wise one can balance himself on his thumb; but he appears to others as insane.


In the third stage [Parichaya Avasthã], the sound of a drum is known to arise in the Sunya between the eyebrows, and then the Vãyu goes to the Mahãsunya [Great Void], which is the home of all the siddhis. Conquering, then, the pleasures of the mind, ecstasy is spontaneously produced which is devoid of evils, pains, old age, disease, hunger and sleep.[14]

[14] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 73-4. Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 60-5: "After this, through exercise, the Yogi reaches the Parichaya Avasthã. When the air leaving the sun and the moon (the right and the left nostrils), remains unmoved and steady in the ether of the tube Susumnã, then it is in the Parichaya state. When he, by the practice of Yoga, acquires power of action (Kriyã Sakti) and pierces through the six Chakras, and reaches the sure condition of Parichaya then the Yogi, verily, sees the three-fold effects of Karma. Then, let the Yogi destroy the multitude of Karmas by the Pranava (OM): let him accomplish Kãyavyúha (mystical process of arranging the various Skandhas [constituents] of the body), in order to enjoy or suffer the consequences of all his actions in one life, without the necessity of rebirth. At that time the great Yogi practise the five-fold Dhãranã forms of concentration on Visnu, by which command over the five elements is obtained, and fear of injuries from any one of them is removed (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether cannot harm him). Let the wise Yogi practise Dhãranã thus:- five Ghatis (2.5 hours) in the ãdhãra lotus (Múlãdhãra); five Ghatis in the seat of the Lînga (Svãdisthãna), five Ghatis in the region above it, (in the navel, Manipura), and the same in the heart (Anãhata); five Ghatis in the throat (Visuddha) and, lastly let him hold Dhãranã for five Ghatis in the space between the eyebrows (Ajnãpur). By this practice the elements cease to cause harm to the great Yogi. The wise Yogi, who thus continually practises concentration (Dhãranã), never dies through hundreds of cycles of the great Brahmã."


[The last stage, Nispatti Avasthã, is reached] when the Rudra granthi is pierced and the air enters the seat of the Lord (the space between the eyebrows), then the perfect sound like that of a flute is produced. The union of the mind and the sound is called the Raja-Yoga. The (real) Yogi becomes the creator and destroyer of the universe, like God. Perceptual happiness, resulting from absorption (in Brahman), is obtained by means of Raja-Yoga. Those who are ignorant of the Raja-Yoga and practise only the Hatha-Yoga, will in my opinion, waste their energy fruitlessly.[15]

[15] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 75-8. Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 66-83: "After this, through gradual exercise, the Yogi reaches the Nispatti Avasthã (the condition of consummation). The Yogi, having destroyed all the seeds of Karma which existed from the beginning, drinks the waters of immortality. When the Jîvan-mukta (delivered in the present life), tranquil Yoga has obtained, through practice, the consummation of Samãdhi (meditation), and when this state of consummated Samãdhi can be voluntarily evoked, then let the Yogi take hold of the Chetanã (conscious intelligence) together with the air, and with the force of (Kriyãsakti) conquer the six wheels, absorb it in the force called Jnãna-sakti. Now we have described the management of the air in order to remove the troubles (which await the Yogi); through the knowledge of Vãyusãdhanã vanish all sufferings and enjoyments in the circle of this universe. When the skilful Yogi, by placing the tongue at the root of the palate, can drink the Prãna Vãyu, then there occurs complete dissolution of all Yogas (i.e. he is no longer in the need of Yoga). When the skilful Yogi, knowing the laws of the action of Prãna and Apãna, can drink the cold air through the contraction of the mouth, in the form of a crowbill, then he becomes entitled to liberation. That wise Yogi, who daily drinks the ambrosial air, according to proper rules, destroys fatigue, burning (fever), decay, and old age, and injuries. Pointing the tongue upwards when the Yogi can drink the nectar flowing from the moon (situated between the two eyebrows) within a month he certainly would conquer death. When having firmly closed the glottis by the proper yogi method, and contemplating on the goddess Kundalinî, he drinks (the moon fluid of immortality), he becomes a sage or poet within six months. When he drinks the air through the crow-bill, both in the morning and evening twilight, contemplating that it goes to the mouth of the Kundalinî, consumption of the lungs (phthisis) is cured. When the wise Yogi drinks fluid day and night through the crow-beak, his diseases are destroyed; he acquires certainly the powers of clairaudience and clairvoyance. When firmly closing the teeth (by pressing the upper and lower jaw), and placing the tongue upwards, the wise Yogi drinks the fluid very slowly, within a short period he conquers death. One, who daily continues this exercise for six months only, is freed from all sins, and destroys all diseases. If he continues this exercise for a year, he becomes a Bhairava; he obtains the powers of animã etc., and conquers all elements and the elementals. If the Yogi can remain for half a second with the tongue drawn upwards, he becomes free from disease, death and old age. Verily, verily, I tell you the truth that the person never dies who contemplates by pressing the tongue, combined with the vital fluid or Prãna. Through this exercise and Yoga, he becomes like a Kãmadeva, without a rival. He feels neither hunger, nor thirst, nor sleep, nor swoon. Acting upon these methods the great Yogi becomes in the world perfectly independent; and freed from the obstacles, he can go everywhere. By practising thus, he is never reborn, nor is tainted by virtue and vice but enjoys (for ages) with the gods."

Contemplation on the space between the eyebrows is, in my opinion, best for accomplishing soon the Unmanî state. For people of small intellect, it is a very easy method for obtaining perfection in the Rãja-Yoga. The Laya produced by nãda (sound), at once gives experience (of spiritual powers). The happiness which increases in the hearts of Yogisvaras who have gained success in Samãdhi by means of attention to the nãda, is beyond description, and is known to Sri Guru Nãtha alone.

The sound which a muni [sage, ascetic] hears by closing his ears with his fingers, should be heard attentively, till the mind becomes steady in it. By practising with this nãda, all other external sounds are stopped. The Yogi becomes happy by overcoming all distractions within fifteen days. In the beginning, the sounds heard are of a great variety and very loud; but as the practice increases, they become more and more subtle. In the first stage, the sounds are surging, thundering like the beating of kettle-drums, and jingling ones. In the intermediate stage, they are like those produced by conch, mrdanga, bells, etc. In the last stage, the sounds resemble those from tinklets, flute, Vinã, bee, etc. These various kinds of sounds are heard as being produced in the body. Though hearing loud sounds like those of thunder, kettle-drums, etc., one should try to get in touch with subtle sounds only. Leaving the loudest, taking up the subtle one, and leaving the subtle one, taking up the loudest, thus practising, the distracted mind does not wander elsewhere.[16]

[16] Compare Siva Samhitã, v, 22-30: "Let him close the ears with his thumbs, the eves with index fingers, the nostrils with the middle fingers, and with the remaining four fingers let him press together the upper and lower lips. The Yogi, by having thus firmly confined the air, sees his soul in the shape of light. When one sees, without obstruction, this light for even a moment, becoming free from sin, he reaches the highest end. The Yogi, free from sin, and practising this continually, forgets his physical, subtle and causal bodies, and becomes one with that soul. He who practises this in secrecy, is absorbed in the Brahman, though he had been engaged in sinful works. This should be kept secret; it at once produces conviction; gives Nirvãna to mankind. This is my most beloved Yoga. From practising this gradually, the Yogi begins to hear the mystic sounds (nãdas). The first sound is like the hum of the honey-intoxicated bee, next that of a flute, then of a harp; after this, by the gradual practice of Yoga, the destroyer of the darkness of the world, he hears the sounds of ringing bells; then sounds like roar of thunder. When one fixes his full attention on this sound, being free from fear he gets absorption. O my beloved! When the mind of the Yogi is exceedingly engaged in this sound, he forgets all external things, and is absorbed in this sound. By this practice of Yoga he conquers all the three qualities (i.e. good, bad and indifferent); and being free from all states he is absorbed in Chidakãsa (the ether of intelligence). There is no posture like that of Siddhãsana, no power like that of Kumbha, no Mudrã like the Khecarî, and no absorption like that of Nãda (the mystic sound)."

Wherever the mind attaches itself first, it becomes steady there; and then it becomes absorbed in it. Just as a bee, drinking sweet juice, does not care for the smell of the flower; so the mind, absorbed in the nãda, does not desire the object of enjoyment. The mind, like an elephant, habituated to wander in the garden of enjoyments, is capable of being controlled by the sharp goad of anãhata nãda. The mind, captivated in the snare of nãda, gives up all its activity; and, like a bird with clipped wings, becomes calm at once. Those desirous of the kingdom of Yoga, should take up the practice of hearing the anãhata nãda, with mind collected and free from all cares. Nãda is the snare for catching the mind; and, when it is caught like a deer, it can be killed also like it. Nãda is the bolt of the stable door for the horse (the mind of the Yogis). A Yogi should determine to practise constantly in the hearing of the nãda sounds. The mercury of the Mind is deprived of its unsteadiness by being calcined with the sulphur of nãda, and then it roams supportless in the akãsa of Brahman. The mind is like a serpent; forgetting all its unsteadiness by hearing the nãda, it does not run away anywhere. The fire, catching firewood, is extinguished along with it (after burning it up); and so the mind also, working with the nãda, becomes latent along with it. The antahkaranu (mind), like a deer, becomes absorbed and motionless on hearing the sound of bells, etc.; and then it is very easy for an expert archer to kill it.

The knowable interpenetrates the anãhata should which is heard, and the mind interpenetrates the knowable. The mind becomes absorbed there, which is the seat of all the- pervading, almighty Lord. So long as the sounds continue, there is the idea of akãsa. When they disappear, then it is called Para Brahman, Paramãtman. Whatever is heard in the form of nãda, is the sakti (power). That which is formless, the final state of the Tattvas, is the Paramesvara.[17]

[17] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv. 79-101. Compare what is said about Rãja Yoga in Siva Samhitã, v, 158-82: "The Rãja Yoga-By this knowledge the modifications of the mind are suspended, however active they may be: therefore, let the Yogi untiringly and unselfishly try to obtain this knowledge. When the modifications of the thinking principle are suspended, then one certainly becomes a Yogi; then is known the Indivisible, holy, pure Gnosis. Let him contemplate on his own reflection in the sky as beyond the Cosmic Egg: in the manner previously described. Through that let him think on the Great Void unceasingly. The Great Void, whose beginning is void, whose middle is void, whose end is void, has brilliancy of tens of millions of suns, and the coolness of tens of millions of moons. By contemplating continually on this, one obtains success. Let him practise with energy daily this dhyãna, within a year he shall obtain all success undoubtedly. He whose mind is absorbed in that place even for a second, is certainly a Yogi, and a good devotee, and is revered in all worlds. All his stores of sins are at once verily destroyed. By seeing it one never returns to the path of this moral universe; let the Yogi, therefore, practise this with great care by the path of Svãdhisthãna. I cannot describe the grandeur of this contemplation. He who practises, knows. He becomes respected by me. By meditation one at once knows the wonderful effects of this Yoga (i.e. of the contemplation of the void); undoubtedly he attains the physic powers, called animã and laghimã, etc. Thus have I described the Rãja Yoga, it is kept secret in all the Tantras; now I shall describe to you briefly the Rãjãdhirãja Yoga.

"The Rãjãdhirãja Yoga :-Sitting in the Svastikãsana, in a beautiful monastery, free from al men and animals having paid respect to his Guru, let the Yogi practise this contemplation. Knowing through the arguments of the Vedanta that the Jiva is independent and self-supported, let him make his mind also self-supported; and let him not contemplate on anything else. Undoubtedly, by this contemplation the highest success (Mahã-siddhi) is obtained, by making the mind functionless; he himself becomes perfectly Full. He who practises this always, is the real passionless Yogi, he never uses the word I, but always finds himself full of ãtman. What is bondage, what is emancipation? To him ever all is One; undoubtedly, he who practises this always, is the really emancipated. He is the Yogi, he is the true devotee, he is worshipped in all the worlds, who contemplates the Jivãtmã and the Paramãtmã as related to each other as I, and I Am, who renounces I, and thou and contemplates on the indivisible; the Yogi free from all attachments takes shelter in that contemplation in which, through the knowledge of superimposition and negation, all is dissolved. Leaving that Brahma, who is manifest, who is knowledge, who is bliss, and who is absolute consciousness, the deluded wander about, vainly discussing the manifested and the unmanifested. He who meditates on this movable and immovable universe, that is really unmanifest, but abandons the supreme Brahman- directly manifest-is verily absorbed in this universe. The Yogi, free from all attachment, constantly exerts himself in keeping up this practice that leads to Gnosis, so that there may not be again the upheaval of Ignorance. The wise one, by restraining all his senses from their objects, and being free from all company, remains in the midst of these objects, as if in deep sleep, i.e. does not perceive them. Thus constantly practising the Self-luminous becomes manifest; here end all the teachings of the Guru, (they can help the student no further). Henceforth he must help himself, they can no more increase his reason or power, henceforth by the mere force of his own practice he must gain the Gnosis. That Gnosis from which the speech and mind turn back baffled, is only to be obtained through practice; for then this pure Gnosis bursts forth itself. The Hatha Yoga cannot be obtained without the Rãja Yoga, nor can the Raja Yoga be attained without the Hatha Yoga. Therefore, let the Yogi first learn the Hatha Yoga from the instructions of the wise Guru. He who, while living in this physical body, does not practise Yoga is living merely for the sake of sensual enjoyment."

When I first learned of this particular technique, I tried it. By that time I had learned and practised all the physical techniques of Hatha Yoga and was well aware of the fact that no miracles had transpired. On closing ears, eyes, nose, and lips, sounds were heard, but not as described in the text, and the mind did not become absorbed. Aside from a high standard of physical well-being and the mental alertness and enthusiasm that attends such a condition, there was little perceptible change.

I had been told that the practices in and of themselves did not bestow any supernatural results. It was only when they were used in the proper sequence as prescribed by a guru that it would be possible to experience the psychological phenomena attributed to them. No amount of theorizing or study would help in this case. If I wanted to verify these claims, I would have to practise. The text says:

Whether young, old or too old, sick or lean, one who discards laziness, gets success if he practises Yoga. Success comes to him who is engaged in the practice; for by merely reading books on Yoga, one can never get success. Success cannot be attained by adopting a particular dress (Vesa). It cannot be gained by telling tales. Practice alone is the means of success. This is true, there is no doubt. Asanas (postures), various Kumbhakas, and other divine means, all should be practised in the practice of Hatha Yoga, till the fruit-Raja Yoga-is obtained.[18]

[18] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 66-9. Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 19: "Having received instructions in Yoga, and obtained a Guru who knows Yoga, let him practise with earnestness and faith, according to the method taught by the teachers."

In order personally to experience the mental effects produced by the practice of Yoga, I underwent a three-month retreat, or intensified discipline. My training was directed and supervised by a well-trained Yogi at his hermitage. Such a discipline is of a highly personal nature and does not affect all alike; however, to enable others to learn what is required during a retreat and what the results were in my case, I shall briefly relate the general pattern. The reader will note that for the nãda technique described in the text, my instructor substituted an analogous technique based on the theory of an inner light, instead of an. inner sound. Otherwise the two techniques are similar in aim and structure.

The hermitage of my guru was surrounded by an extremely picturesque country-side; his dwelling was small, modest, and clean. Here he enjoyed the necessary isolation, yet the needs of life were readily accessible. I arrived in the early fall, which is considered one of the favourable periods of the year to practise Yoga.[19]  

[19] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 12-14: "The Yogi should practise Hatha Yoga in a small room, four cubits square, situated in a solitary place, and free from stones, fire, water, and disturbances of all kinds, and in a country where justice is properly administered, where good people live, and food can be obtained easily and plentifully. The room should have a small door, be free from holes, hollows, and burrows, neither too high nor too low, well plastered with cow-dung and completely free from dirt and insects. The outside should be pleasant with bowers, a raised platform and a well, and surrounded with a wall. These characteristics of a room for Hatha Yoga have been described by adepts in the practice of Hatha. Having seated in such a room and free from all anxieties, he should only practise Yoga, as instructed by his Guru."

Compare Gheranda Samhitã, v, 1-15: "Now I shall tell these the rules of Prãnãyãma or regulation of breath. By its practice a man becomes godlike. (Four things are necessary in practising Prãnãyãma). First, a good place; second, a suitable time; third, moderate food; and lastly, the purification of the nãdis (Nerve vessels of the body).

"1. PLACE: The practice of Yoga should not be attempted in a far-off country (from home), nor in a forest, nor in a capital city, nor in the midst of a crowd. If one does so he does not achieve success. In a distant country one loses faith (because of the Yoga not being known there); in a forest one is without protection; and in the midst of a thick population, there is danger of exposure (for then the curious will trouble him). Therefore, let one avoid these three. In a good country whose king is just, where food is easily and abundantly procurable, where there are no disturbances, let one erect there a small hut, around it let him raise walls. And in the centre of the enclosure, let him sink a well and dig a tank. Let the hut be neither very high nor very low; let it be free from insects. It should be completely smeared over with cow dung. In a hut thus built and situated in such a hidden place, let him practice Prãnãyãma.

"2. TIME: The practice of Yoga should not be commenced in these four seasons out of six: hemanta (winter), sisira (cold), grisma (hot), varsa (rainy). If one begins in these seasons, one will contract diseases. The practice of Yoga should be commenced by a beginner in spring (vasanta); and autumn (sarad). By so doing, he attains success; and verily he does not become liable to diseases. The six seasons occur in their order in the twelve months beginning with Caitra and ending with Phãlguna: two months being occupied by each season. But each season is experienced for four months, beginning with Mãgha and ending with Phãlguna. The six seasons are as follows:

Vasanta or Spring Caitra and Vaisakha Mar., Apr.
Grisma or Summer Jyestha and Asãdha May, June
Varsã or Rainy Srãvana and Bhãdra July, Aug.
Sarad or Autumn Asvina and Kãrttika Sept., Oct.
Hemanta or Winter Agrahãyamma and Pausa Nov., Dec.
Sifira or Cold Mãgha and Phãlguna Jan., Feb.
"Now I shall tell thee the experiencing of seasons. They are as follows:"
Mãgha to Vaisãkha Vasantãnubhava Jan. to Apr.
Caitra to Asãdha Grismãnubhava Mar. to June
Asãdha to Asvina Varsãnubhava June to Sept.
Bhadra to Agrahãyana Saradnubhava Aug. to Nov.
Kãrttika to Mãgha Hemantãnubhava Oct. to Jan.
Agrahãyana to Phãlguna Sisirãnubhava Nov. to Feb.

"The practice of Yoga should be commenced either in Vasanta (spring) or Sarad (autumn). For in these seasons success is attained without much trouble."


A small room had been set aside for me near the family compound of his patron. My teacher lived a regulated life, so I was obliged to wait for the appointed hour in the afternoon which he had set aside for receiving visits in order to pay my first respects. The formalities were simple, but fitting. He was seated on a raised wooden bench covered with a tiger skin.. This is where he practised and slept. There was a small grass mat on the earthen floor where I sat. He could speak no English, so it was necessary to have an interpreter. A young Brahmin student who was studying with him served in this capacity. There was no mystical laying on of hands or other religious ceremony. Aside from his interest in my well-being, he confined this visit as well as others that followed to training and to philosophical conversation. He expressed willingness to answer all my questions and was ever ready to help me with problems as they arose.

The members of the family living in the compound knew that I had come to practise Yoga; every consideration was given me. I was not to be disturbed for any reason. Certain hours were established when they could come to the quarters I was using, and certain individuals were appointed to look after me. Most important was the man who was to prepare my food. In this respect, also, I was extremely fortunate in having the young Brahmin student of my guru take care of me. He was familiar with all the restrictions in diet and knew what was needed.[20]

[20] Injurious and recommended foods and conduct for the practice of Yoga are given. Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 61-5: "Food Injurious to a Yogi; Bitter, sour, saltish, hot, green vegetables, fermented, oily, mixed with til seed, rape seed, intoxicating liquors, fish, meat, curds, chhaasa pulses, plums, oil cake, asafoetida (hingu), garlic, onion, etc. should not be eaten. Food heated again, dry, having too much salt, sour, minor grains, and vegetables that cause burning sensation, should not be eaten.

"Fire, women, travelling, etc. should be avoided. As said by Goraksa, one should keep aloof from the society of the evil-minded, fire, women, travelling, early morning bath, fasting and all kinds of bodily exertion.

"Wheat, rice, barley, sãstika (a kind of rice), good corns, milk, ghee, sugar, butter, sugar candy, honey, dried ginger, Parwal (a vegetable), the five vegetables, moong, pure water, these are very beneficial to those who practise Yoga. A Yogi should eat tonics (things giving strength), well sweetened, greasy (made with ghee), milk, butter, etc., which may increase humours of the body, according to his desires." To understand these requirements it is necessary to study the Indian medical work Susruta.

Compare Gheranda Samhitã, v, 16-32: "He who practices Yoga without moderation of diet, incurs various diseases, and obtains no success. A Yogin should eat rice, barley (bread), or wheaten bread. He may eat Mudga beans (Phaseolus mungo), Mãsa beans (Phaseolus radiatus), gram, etc. These should be dean, white, and free from chaff. A Yogin may eat payola (a kind of cucumber), jack-fruit, mãnakacu (Arum Colocasia), kakkola (a kind of berry), the jujube, the bonduc nut (Bonducella guilandine), cucumber, plantain, fig; the unripe plantain, the small plantain, the plantain stem, and roots, brinjal, and medicinal roots and fruits (e.g. rhhi, etc.). He may eat green, fresh vegetables, black vegetables, the leaves of payola, and Vãstuka, the hima-locikã. These are the five sãkas (vegetable leaves) praised as fit food for Yogins. Pure, sweet and cooling food should be eaten to fill half the stomach; eating thus sweet juices with pleasure, and leaving the other half of the stomach empty is called moderation in diet. Half the stomach should be filled with food, one quarter with water; and one quarter should be kept empty for practising prãnãyãma.

"Prohibited Foods: In the beginning of Yoga practice one should discard bitter, acid, salt, pungent and roasted things, curd, whey, heavy vegetables, wine, palm nuts, and overripe jack-fruit. So also kulattha and masur beans, pãndu fruit, pumpkins and vegetable stems, gourds, berries, katha-bel, (feronis elephantum), kanda-bilva and palãsa (Butea frondosa). So also kadamba (Naucles cadamba), jambira (citron), bimba, lakuca (a kind of bread fruit tree), onions, lotus, Kãmaranga, piyãla (Buchananis latifolia), hingu (asafoetida), sãlmali, kemuka.

"A beginner should avoid much travelling, company of women, and warming himself by fire. So also he should avoid fresh butter, ghee, thickened milk, sugar, and date-sugar, etc., as well as ripe plantain, coco-nut, pomegranate, dates, lavani fruit, amlaki (myrobalans), and everything containing acid juices. But cardamom, jaiphal, cloves, aphrodisiacs, or stimulants, the rose-apple, haritaki, and palm dates, a Yogin may eat while practising Yoga. Easily digestible, agreeable and cooling foods which nourish the elements of the body, a Yogin may eat according to his desire. But a Yogin should avoid hard (not easily digestible), sinful, or putrid, very hot, or very stale, as well as very cooling or very much exciting food. He should avoid early morning (before sunrise) baths, fasting, etc., or any-thing giving pain to the body; so also is prohibited to him eating only once a day, or not eating at all. But he may remain without food for three hours. Regulating his life in this way, let him practise Prãnãyãma. In the beginning before commencing it, he should take a little milk and ghee daily, and take his food twice daily, once at noon and once in the evening."

Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 33-8: "The Yogi should renounce, the following:- 1. Acids; 2. astringents; 3. pungent substances; 4. salt; 5. mustard; 6. bitter things; 7. much walking; 8. early bathing (before sunrise); and 9. things roasted in oil; 10. theft; 11. killing (of animals); 12. enmity towards any person; 13. pride; 14. duplicity; and 15. crookedness; 16. fasting; 17. untruth; 18. thoughts other than those of moksa; 19. cruelty towards animals; 20. companionship of women; 21. worship of(or handling or sitting near) fire; and 22. much talking without regard to pleasantness or unpleasantness of speech; and lastly, 23. much eating.

"Now I will tell you the means by which success in Yoga is quickly obtained; it must be kept secret by the practitioner so that success may come with certainty. The great Yogi should observe always the following observances:- He should use 1. clarified butter; 2. milk; 3. sweet food; and 4. betel without lime; 5. camphor; 6. kind words; 7. pleasant monastery or retired cell, having a small door; 8. hear discourses on truth; and 9. always discharge his household duties with Vairãgya (without attachment); 10. sing the name of Visñu; 11. and hear sweet music; 12. patience, 13. constancy; 14. forgiveness; 15. austerities; 16. purifications; 17. modesty; 18. devotion; and 19. service of the Guru.

"When the air enters the sun, it is the proper time for the Yogi to take his food (i.e. when the breath flows through the Pingalã); when the air enters the moon, he should go to sleep (i.e. when the breath flows through the left nostril or the Idã). Yoga Prãnãyãma) should not be practiced just after the meals, nor when one is very hungry; before beginning the practice, some milk and butter should be taken. When one is well established in his practice, then he need not observe these restrictions. The practitioner should eat in small quantities at a time though frequently; and should practice Kumbhaka daily at the stated times."

I did not have to give my diet a thought, but could devote all my time to my discipline, taking whatever was provided at the fixed hour.

The first three weeks were given to purifying and strengthening my system so that I could carry the practice of prãnãyãma to a point where I could experience some of its effects. Each morning I arose at 4 a.m. and thoroughly cleansed the system by doing dhauti,[21]  

[21] See above, pp. 34-37.



[22] Ibid., p. 39 ff.


and basti.[23]  

[23] Ibid., p. 37.

After which I did uddiyãna[24]  

[24] Ibid., pp. 41-44.

and nauli.[25]  

[25] Ibid., p. 43.

These two practices I had been doing daily for purposes of general health, and it was therefore no problem to bring them up to the maximum number of repetitions. Then followed the head stand,[26]  

[26] See above, p. 29.

starting with half an hour. The next practice was bhastrikã.[27]  

[27] Ibid., pp. 44-45.

I started with one minute at the rate of about one hundred strokes per minute and then suspended for one minute, after which I exhaled slowly and rested for thirty seconds before starting the next round. Each week I increased the suspension one minute. Ten rounds of this concluded my morning practice.

Before my food arrived I usually took a short stroll. Until it was time to resume my practice again at ten-thirty, I devoted my energies to the many studies that had been assigned to me. I began the midday routine with the head stand for another thirty-minute period, and then I performed ten routines of bhastrikã, as I have already described. The rest of the period was devoted to developing the ãsanas.[28]  

[28] Ibid., pp. 21-25.

This is common practice of Yogis in order to introduce a little variety into their regime. My principal meal was brought after this period.

Until four oclock I rested and read. The afternoon routine started with uddiyãna and nauli; then the head stand for thirty minutes and another ten rounds of bhastrikã. I added more time to the head stand each week, until I finally brought it up to one hour for each practice period. In addition I increased the bhastrikã one minute each week, until I could do it at the rate of 120 strokes per minute for three continuous minutes. This was my limit. The suspension I continued to increase until I could continue it for five minutes and dispense with the rest of a few seconds between rounds.

In preparation for practicing contemplation, my teacher recommended what is commonly known as the candle exercise, which I was to use every evening before retiring.[29]  

[29] Three different forms of contemplation are discussed in Gheranda Samhitã, vi, 1-22: "The Dhyãna or contemplation is of three sorts: gross, luminous and subtle. When a particular figure (such as ones Guru or Deity), is contemplated on, it is Sthula or gross contemplation. When Brahman or Prakriti is contemplated on as a mass of light, it is called Jyotis-contemplation. When Brahman as Bindu (pont) and Kundali force is contemplated on, it is Suksma or Subtle contemplation."

"1. Sthula Dhyãna: (Having closed the eyes), let him contemplate that there is a sea of nectar in the region of his heart: that in the midst of that sea an island of precious stones, the very sand of which is pulverized diamonds and rubies. That on all sides of it, Kadamba trees, laden with sweet flowers; that, next to those trees, like a rampart, a row of flowering trees, such as mãlati, mallika, jãti, kesara, campaka, pãrijãta and Padma, and that the fragrance of these flowers is spread all round, in every quarter. In the middle of this garden, let the Yogi. imagine that there stands a beautiful Kalpa tree, having four branches, representing the four Vedas, and that it is full of flowers and fruits. Beatles are humming there and cuckoos singing. Beneath that tree let him imagine a rich platform of precious gems, and on that a costly throne inlaid with jewels, and that on that throne sits his particular Deity as taught to him by his Guru. Let him contemplate on the appropriate form, ornaments and vehicle of that Deity. The constant contemplation of such a form is Sthula Dhyãna.

"Another Process :-Let the Yogin imagine that in the pericarp of the great thousand-petalled Lotus (Brain) there is a smaller lotus having twelve petals. Its colour is white, highly luminous, having twelve Bija letters, named ha, sa, ksa, ma, la, va, ra, yum, ha, sa, kha, phrem. In the pericarp of this smaller lotus there are three lines forming a triangle, a, ka, tha; having three angles called ha, la, ksa: and in the middle of this triangle, there is the Pranava Om. Then let him contemplate that in that there is a beautiful seat having Nãda and Bindu. On that seat there are two swans, and a pair of wooden sandals. There let him contemplate his Guru Deva, having two arms and three eyes, and dressed in pure white, anointed with white sandal-paste, wearing garlands of white flowers; to the left of whom stands Sakti of blood-red colour. By thus contemplating the Guru, the Sthula Dhyãna is attained.

"2. Jyotir-dhyãna: I have told thee of the Sthula Dhyãna; listen now to the contemplation of Light, by which the Yogin attains success and sees his Self. In the Mulãdhãra is Kundalinî of the form of a serpent. The Jivãtman is there like the flame of a lamp. Contemplate on this flame as the Luminous Brahman. This is the Tejo-dhyãna or Jyotir-dhyãna.

"Another Process: In the middle of the eyebrows, above the Manas, there is the Light of Om. Let him contemplate on this flame. This is another method of contemplation of Light.

"3. Suksma Dhyãna: O Canda! thou hast heard the Tejo-dhyãna, listen now to the Suksma Dhyãna. When by a great good fortune, the Kundali is awakened, it joins with the Atman and leaves the body through the portals of the eyes; and enjoys itself by walking in the royal road. It cannot be seen on account of its subtleness and great changeability. The Yogi, however, attains this success by performing Sãmbhavî Mudrã, i.e. by gazing fixedly at space without winking. (Then he will see his Suksma Sarira.) This is called Suksma Dhyãna, difficult to be attained even by the Devas, as it is a great mystery.

"The contemplation on Light is a hundred times superior to contemplation on Form; and a hundred thousand tunes superior to Tejo-dhyãna is the contemplation of the Suksma. O Canda! thus have I told thee Dhyãna Yoga-a most precious knowledge; for, by it, there is direct perception of the Self. Hence Dhyãna is belauded."

It is a simple technique for establishing an. afterimage on the retina, which you are supposed to watch with fixed attention until it disappears. Place a lighted candle some eighteen inches in front of you on a level with your eyes and stare at the flame until tears begin to flow. Then close your eyes with cupped hands and watch the mental image. The problem is to try to hold the image still. It is permissible to move it backward and forward, but it must not be allowed to move sideways or up and down. The reason for using this practice is due to the similarity between the afterimage thus produced and the light of the body in Yogic theory. Eventually a similar light is supposed to appear without the aid of the candle. Instead of working with the sounds in the body, as the text advocated, my teacher preferred to concentrate the mind on the lights within the body.[30]

[30] Siva Samhitã, v, 22-6: "Let him close the ears with his thumbs, the eyes with index fingers, the nostrils with the middle fingers, and with the remaining four fingers let him press together the upper and lower lips. The Yogi, by having thus firmly confined the air, sees his soul in the shape of light. When one sees, without obstruction, this light even a moment, becoming free from sin, he reaches the highest end. The Yogi, free from sin, and practising this continually, forgets his physical, subtle, and causal bodies, and becomes one with that soul. He who practises this in secrecy, is absorbed in the Brahman, though he had been engaged in sinful works. This should be kept secret; it at once produces conviction; it gives Nirvana to mankind. This is my most beloved Yoga. From practising this gradually, the Yogi begins to hear the mystic sounds (nãdas)."

During the first month the emphasis was placed on the physical aspect of the training, without concern about the mind. I was told that until the breath suspension had been developed to at least three minutes nothing of any significance could be done. The ultimate aim is to make the mind a blank so that the bodily lights will appear. To prepare for this I was taught simple technique. The eyes are rolled back in the head, letting the lids find a restful position, usually slightly open and showing a little of the whites of the eyes. The mind is concentrated on the space between the eyebrows.[31]  

[31] Compare Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 38: "Fix the gaze on the light (seen on the tip of the nose) and raise the eyebrows a little, with the mind contemplating as before (in the Sãmbhavî Mudrã, that is, inwardly thinking of Brahman, but apparently looking outside). This will create the Unman-Avasthã at once." See also 39-40: "Some are devoted to the Vedas, some to a Nigama, while others are enwrapt in Logic, but none knows the value of the Tãraka Mudrã, which enables one to cross the ocean of existence. With steady calm mind and half closed eyes, fixed on the tip of the nose, stopping the Idã and the Pingalã without blinking, he who can see the light which is the all, the seed, the entire, brilliant, great Tattvam, approaches Him, who is the great object. What is the use of more talk?"

After a time this became a simple and comfortable position for the eyes and the mind.

In the second month the lights made their appearance. In the beginning it was not unlike looking into a kaleidoscope; but this condition soon passed, and single colours, brilliant and radiant, remained.[32]  

[32] The colours of the lights that appeared were blue, yellow, red, and white.


Then came the white light that is referred to so frequently. This was an interesting phenomenon. At times it became almost blinding; however, it never lasted long. This was the first step. I was taught to work with this light by watching it and trying to hold it, but it would vanish as mysteriously as it appeared. This was not the Kundalinî light, I was told. Taking an analogy from nature, my teacher told me that this light was comparable to the flare of soft light of static electricity seen during thunderstorms on the desert, while Kundalinî light was equivalent to the lightning itself and would appear in a similar fashion.

A technique for inducing these lights to appear at will was given to me. It is called Sãmbhavî mudrã. This method is described in the text.

The Vedas and the Sãstras are like ordinary public women. Sãmbhavî Mudrã is the one, which is secluded like a respectable lady. Aiming at Brahman inwardly, while keeping the sight directed to the external objects, without blinking the eyes, is called the Sãmbhavî Mudrã, hidden in the Vedas and the Sãstras. When the Yogi remains inwardly attentive to Brahman, keeping the mind and the Prãna absorbed, and the sight steady, as if seeing everything while in reality seeing nothing outside, below, or above, verily then it is called Sãmbhavî Mudrã, which is learnt by the favour of a Guru. In this condition takes place the manifestation of that great Sambhu (Siva) tattva [essence] which is neither Sunya nor Asunya [void nor non-void].[33]

[33] Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, iv, 34-6. Compare Gheranda Samhitã, iii, 64-7: "Fixing the gaze between the eyebrows, behold the Self-existent. This is Sãmbhavî, secret in all the Tantras. The Vedas, the scriptures, the Purãnas are like public women, but this Sãmbhavî should be guarded as if it were a lady of a respectable family. He, who knows this Sãmbhavî, is like the Adinãtha, he is Nãrãyana, he is Brahmã, the Creator. Mahesvara has said, Truly, truly, and again truly, he who knows, the Sãmbhavî, is Brahman. There is no doubt of this."

By using this technique I was eventually able to see this white light with my eyes wide open in the daylight. The mind seemed to be wiped out completely and nothing existed but this brilliant light. After a time it became no problem to make it appear at will, whether sitting or walking about. I frequently did so when on my morning stroll.[34]  

[34] See Siva Samhitã, v, 15-21: "The invocation of Pratika (shadow) gives to the devotee the objects seen as well as unseen; undoubtedly, by its very sight, a man becomes pure. In a clear sun-lit sky, behold with a steady gaze your own divine reflection; whenever this is seen even for a single second in the sky, you behold God at once in the sky. He who daily sees his shadow i. the sky will get his years increased and will never die an accidental death. When the shadow is seen fully reflected in the field of the sky, then he obtains victory; and conquering the vãyu, he goes everywhere.

"How to invoke: At the time of the rising sun, or by moon, let him steadily fix his gaze on the neck of the shadow he throws; then after some time, let him look into the sky; if he sees a full grey shadow in the sky, it is auspicious. He who always practises this and knows the Paramãtmã, becomes fully happy, through the grace of his shadow. At the time of commencing travel, marriage, or auspicious work, or when in trouble, it is of great use. This invocation of the shadow destroys sins and increases virtue. By practising it always, he begins at last to see it in his heart, and the persevering Yogi gets liberation."

Another practice recommended for producing this effect which I have found successful is known as the Shadow Man.

These lights are called tattvic lights and are said to represent the energies flowing through their respective nerve centres, which are known as chakras.[35]  

[35] See Serpent Power, by Arthur Avalon, for full treatment of this subject-the chapter on the Centres.


In time, they say, it is possible to gain such control over the nervous system that any desired light can be made to appear and remain for a definite length of time. Control is established by making first one and then another stay for not less than an hour. Eventually, one works only with the white light, and in this way the Kundalinî light is made to appear. To help bring about the manifestation of the Kundalinî light the various mudrãs I have described are used.

At this stage the mental aspect of Yoga is stressed and the different techniques for enabling the mind to become absorbed in the light are used. One method is a series of mental mudrãs known as dhãranãs,[36]  

[36] They are described in Gheranda Samhitã, iii, 68-81: "The Sãmbhavî has been explained: hear now the five Dhãranãs. Learning these five Dhãranãs, what cannot be accomplished in this world? By this human body one can visit and revisit Svargaloka, he can go wherever he likes, as swiftly as mind, he acquires the faculty of moving in the air. [These five Dhãranãs are: Pãrthivi (Earthy), Ambhasi (Watery), Vãyavi (Aerial), Agneyi (Fiery) and Akãsi (Ethereal).]

"PARTHIVI: The Pãrthivi-Tattva has the colour of orpiment (yellow), the letter la is its secret symbol or seed, its form is four-sided, and Brahmã, its presiding deity. Place this Tattva in the heart, and fix by Kumbhaka the Prãna-Vãyus and the Citta there for the period of five ghatikas (2.5 hours). This is called Adho-dhãranã. By this, one conquers the Earth, and no earthy-elements can injure him; and it causes steadiness. He who practises daily this dhãranã becomes like the conqueror of Death; as an Adept he walks this earth.

"AMBHASI: The Water-Tattva is white like the Kunda-flower or a conch or the moon, its form is circular like the moon, the letter va is the seed of this ambrosial element, and Visñu is its presiding deity. By Yoga, produce the water-tattva in the heart, and fix there the Prãna with the Citta (consciousness), for five ghatikas, practising kumbhaka. This is Watery Dhãranã; it is the destroyer of all sorrows. Water cannot injure him who practises this. The Ambhasi is a great mudrã; the Yogin who knows it never meets death even in the deepest water. This should be kept carefully concealed. By revealing it success is lost, verily I tell you the truth.

"AGNEYI: The Fire-tattva is situated at the navel, its colour is red like the Indra-gopa insect, its form is triangular, its seed is ra, its presiding deity is Rudra. It is refulgent like the sun, and the giver of success. Fix the Prãna along with the Citta on this Tattva for five ghatikas. This is called Fire-dhãranã, destroyer of the fear of dreadful death, and fire cannot injure him. Even if the practitioner is thrown into burning fire, by virtue of this Mudrã he remains alive, without fear of death.

"VAYAVI: The Air-tattva is black as unguent for the eyes (collirium), the letter ya is its seed, and Isvara its presiding deity. This Tattva is full of Sattva quality. Fix the Prãna and the Citta for five ghatikas on this Tattva. This is Vãyavi-dhãranã. By this, the practitioner walks in the air. This should not be taught to the wicked or to those devoid of faith. By so doing success is lost. O Canda! this is verily the truth.

"AKASI DHARANA: The Akãsa-tattva has the colour of pure sea-water, ha is its seed, its presiding deity is Sadãsiva. Fix the Prãna along with Citta for five ghatikas in this tattva. This is Ether-dhãranã. It opens the gates of emancipation. He who knows this Dhãranã is the real Yogin. Death and old age do not approach him, nor does he perish at the Pralaya [dissolution of the Universe at the end of a world period]."

Compare Siva Samhitã, v, 43-51: "(Various kinds of Dhãranã.) Let the Yogi seat himself in the Padmãsana and fix his attention on the cavity of the throat, let him place his tongue at the base of the palate; by this he will extinguish hunger and thirst. Below the cavity of the throat, there is a beautiful Nãdi (vessel) called Kurma; when the Yogi fixes his attention on it, he acquires great concentration of the thinking principle (citta). When the Yogi constantly thinks that he has got a third eye-the eye of Siva-in the middle of his forehead, he then perceives a fire brilliant like lightning. By contemplating on this light, all sins are destroyed, and even the most wicked person obtains the highest end. If the experienced Yogi thinks of this light day and night he sees Siddhas (adepts), and can certainly converse with them. He who contemplates on Sunya (void or vacuum or space), while walking or standing, dreaming or waking, becomes altogether ethereal and is absorbed in the Chid Akãsa. The Yogi, desirous of success, should always obtain this knowledge; by habitual exercise he becomes equal to me; through the force of this knowledge he becomes the beloved of all. Having conquered all the elements and being void of all hopes and worldly connections, when the Yogi sitting in the Padmãsana, fixes his gaze on the tip of his nose, his mind becomes dead and he obtains the spiritual power called Khecarî. The great Yogi beholds light, pure as holy mountain (Kailãs), and through the force of his exercise in it, he becomes the lord and guardian of the light. Stretching himself on the ground, let him contemplate on this light; by so doing all his weariness and fatigue are destroyed. By contemplating on the back part of his head, he becomes the conqueror of death."

which are ways of concentrating the mind, frequently used in conjunction with rites and rituals in order to help produce the highest possible degree of mental abstraction.

My retreat concluded with a ceremony that occasionally is employed to establish fully the inner experience of absorbing the mind in these lights, a ceremony which therefore bears some relation to the dhãranãs. The particulars of this ceremony, though not important for the Yogi, may be of interest to the occidental reader. I was interested in. this particular rite, for I had heard about it. My teacher was well trained in the techniques of putting on various rituals and was gracious enough to give me the opportunity of undergoing the experience. Generally Yogis do not advocate such measures; however, they say that they are all right for those who do not have the capacity to practice Yoga. During the early years of my teachers training he had passed through a period when he was a devoted follower of rites and rituals, but later he found a teacher who led him out of this spiritual cul-de-sac. Since then he has had no use for them except to conduct them for a student from time to time. But he made it clear that no amount of ceremony can awaken Kundalinî. All experiences resulting from such practices are purely mental, not actual, while the arousing of Kundalinî is believed to bring about an actual physiological change in the body.

In preparation for the ceremony I fasted for twenty-four hours and directed my meditations toward preparing my mind. At 10 p.m. I began the preliminary worship intended fully to awaken the heart. Before entering the shrine I took a bath as part of the purification rites. Just outside the entrance I made my oblation of humility and drew on the ground a triangle, a circle, and a square, one inside the other. In the centre I placed my vessel of consecrated water and worshipped the fire, the sun, and the moon by throwing perfume and scented flowers into the water while repeating the mantras that had been given to me and making various gestures with my hands. These formations of the hands are called mudrãs and are symbolic of various attitudes of mind, not to be confused with the practices known by this name. All ritual details had been given to me on previous occasions.

Stepping across the sacred threshold with my left foot, I lightly struck the doorway with my left shoulder. First I worshipped before the presiding deity. At the place reserved for me I sprinkled the ground with water and did trãtaka[37] [37] See above, p. 33 n.while repeating mantras. Before taking my seat I sprinkled water to remove all celestial obstacles and struck the ground three times with my heel to remove the obstacles of the earth. Burning incense of sandal wood, saffron, and camphor, I marked off a rectangular space for my seat within which I drew a triangle and then covered it with my mat. Assuming the padmãsana posture, I sat facing north. Throughout these preliminary rites my guru sat motionless, repeating mantras.[38]

[38] The emphasis placed on mantras by some schools of thought is expressed in Siva Samhitã, v, 188-204: "Now shall I tell you the best of practices, the Japa [repetition] of Mantra: from this one gains happiness in this as well in the world beyond this. By knowing this highest of the Mantras, the Yogi certainly attains success (Siddhi): this gives all power and pleasure to the one-pointed Yogi. I. the four-petalled Mulãdhãra lotus is the bija [seed] of speech, brilliant as lightning (i.e. the syllable Aim). In the heart is the bija of love, beautiful as the Bandhuka ower (klim). In the space between the two eyebrows (i.e. in the Ajña lotus), is the bija of Sakti (strim), brilliant as tens of millions of moons. These three seeds should be kept secret-they give enjoyment and emancipation. Let the Yogi repeat these three Mantras and try to attain success. Let him learn this Mantra from his Guru, let him repeat it neither too fast nor too slowly, keeping the mind free from all doubts, and understanding the mystic relation between the letters of the Mantra. The wise Yogi, intently fixing his attention on this Mantra, performing all the duties peculiar to his caste, should perform one hundred thousand Homas (fire sacrifices), and then repeat this Mantra three hundred thousand times in the presence of the Goddess Tripura. At the end of this sacred repetition (Japa) let the wise Yogi again perform Homa, in a triangular hollow, with sugar, milk, butter and the flower of Karavi (oleander). By this performance of Homa-Japa-Homa, the Goddess Tripura Bhairava, who has been propitiated by the above Mantra, becomes pleased, and grants all the desires of the Yogi. Having satisfied the Guru and having received this highest of Mantra, in the proper way, and performing its repetition in the way laid down, with mind concentrated, even the most heavy-burdened with past Karmas attains success. The Yogi, who having controlled his senses, repeats this Mantra one hundred thousand times, gains the power of attracting others. By repeating it two lacs [two hundred thousand] of times he can control all persons-they come to him as freely as women go to a pilgrimage. They give him all that they possess, and remain always under his control. By repeating this Mantra three lacs of times, all the deities presiding over the spheres as well as the sphere are brought under his dominion. By repeating it six lacs of times, he becomes the vehicle of power-yea, the protector of the world-surrounded by servants. By repeating this twelve lacs of times, the lords of Yaksas, Rãksas and the Nãgas come under his control; all obey his command constantly. By repeating this fifteen lacs of times, the Siddhas, the Vidyãdharãs, the Gandharvas, the Apsarãs come under the control of the Yogi. There is no doubt of it. He attains immediately the knowledge of all audition and thus all-knowing hood. By repeating this eighteen lacs of times, he, in this body, can rise from the ground; he attains verily the luminous body; he goes all over the universe, wherever he likes; he sees the pores of the earth, i.e., he sees the interspaces and the molecules of this solid earth. By repeating this twenty-eight lacs of times, he becomes the lord of the Vidyãdharãs, the wise Yogi becomes Kãmarupi (i.e., can assume whatever form he desires). By repeating these thirty lacs of times, he becomes equal to Brahmã and Visñu. He becomes a Rudra, by sixty lac repetitions, by eighty lac repetitions, he becomes all-enjoyer, by repeating one ten of millions of times, the great Yogi is absorbed in the Parama Brahman. Such a practitioner is hardly to be found throughout the three worlds."


The offering which I was to make to the deity symbolically residing within my heart had to be purified. This was done by reciting mantras over it seven times, while making various gestures with my hands. Before drinking it, I had to recite mantras in praise of Kundalinî. After drinking it, I bowed to my guru by placing my folded hands first on my left ear, then on my right ear, and finally on the middle of my forehead, after which I sat for a few minutes in silent meditation. Placing the articles of worship on my right side and the wine on my left, I encircled myself with water. For further protection from malignant spirits, I mentally surrounded myself with a wall of symbolic fire. Then I purified the palms of my hands by rubbing between them a flower that had been dipped in sandal paste. To dispose of it, I threw it over my left shoulder. The last act of protection against evil spirits was to snap the fingers of my right hand in the palm of my left hand toward each of the four directions.

The principal object of this ceremony is to follow mentally the cosmic pattern for the dissolution[39]  

[39] The absorption of the different elements is treated in Siva Samhitã, i, 78-88: "The earth becomes subtle and is dissolved in water; water is resolved into fire; fire similarly merges in air; [sic] gets absorption in ether, and ether is resolved in Avidyã (Ignorance), air which merges into the Great Brahma. There are two forces-Viksepa (the out-going energy), and Avarana (the transforming energy) which are of great potentiality and power, and whose form is happiness. The great ~ when non-intelligent and material, has three attributes Sattva (rhythm) Rajas (energy) and Tamas (inertia). The non-intelligent form of Mãyã covered by the Avarana force (concealment), manifests itself as the universe, owing to the nature of Viksepa force. When the Avidyã has an excess of Tamas, then it manifests itself as Durga; the intelligence which presides over her is called Isvara. When the Avidyã has an excess of Sattva, it manifests itself as the beautiful Lakshmi; the Intelligence which presides over her is called Visñu. V/hen the Avidyã has an excess of Rajas, it manifests itself as the wise Sarasvati; the intelligence which presides over her is known as Brahmã. Gods like Siva, Brahmã, Visñu, etc., are all seen in the great Spirit; bodies and all material objects are the various products of Avidyã. The wise have thus explained the creation of the wor1d-Tattvas (elements) and Not-Tattvas (non-elements) are thus produced-not otherwise. All things are seen as finite, etc. (endowed with qualities, etc.), and there arise various distinctions merely through words and names; but there is no real difference. Therefore, the things do not exist; the great and glorious One that manifests them, alone exists; though things are false and unreal, yet, as the reflection of the real, they, for the time being, appear real. The One Entity, blissful, entire and all-pervading, alone exists, and nothing else; be who constantly realises this knowledge is freed from death and the sorrow of the world-wheel. When, through the knowledge that all is illusory perception (Aropa) and by intellectual refutation (Apavãda) of other doctrines, this universe is resolved into the one, the, there exists that One and nothing else; then this is clearly perceived by the mind."


of the elements of the human constituent until the mind becomes absorbed in what is known to them as the universal principle of intelligence. This is supposed to simulate the process that takes place at death. It is believed that if an individual can gain sufficient control over the subtle forces of his nature to enable him actually to regulate the movement of these elements revealed by the different lights that appear before the mind when the eyes are closed that he can conquer death.

In order to aid this process of cosmic dissolution, I had been instructed mentally to awaken the Kundalinî force by practising prãnãyãma while my teacher was reciting mantras designed to aid my imagination. During each suspension I mentally went through the process of awakening this latent force and leading it through the respective centres until it became united with the universal consciousness. At each stage the emotional experience became more intensified, until finally I completely lost awareness of all external surroundings and with my eyes wide open could see nothing but a brilliant light. An ecstatic condition ensued that is difficult to describe. Finally a climax was reached, and the trance began to subside slowly, and ordinary consciousness returned. The last stage was to reverse the process-mentally to unfold the individual entity along the lines of cosmic creation[40]  

[40] The order of cosmic creation is discussed in Siva Samhitã, i, 69-77: "The Lord willed to create his creatures; from His will came out Avidyã (Ignorance), the mother of this false universe. There takes place the conjunction between the Pure Brahma and Avidyã, from which arises Brahms, from which comes out the Akãsa. From the Akãsa emanated the air; from air came the fire; from fire-water; and from water came the earth. This is the order of subtle emanation. From ether, air; from the air and ether combined came fire; from the triple compound of ether, air and fire came water; and from the combination of ether, air, fire, and water was produced the (gross) earth The quality of ether is sound; of air motion and touch. Form is the quality of fire, and taste of water. And smell is the quality of the earth. There is no gainsaying this. Akãsa has one quality; air two, fire three, water four, and earth five qualities, viz.-sound, touch, taste, form and smell. This has been declared by the wise. Form is perceived through the eyes, smell through the nose, taste through the tongue, touch through the skin and sound through the ear. These are verily the organs of perception. From Intelligence has come out all this universe, movable and immovable; whether or not its existence can be inferred, the All Intelligence One does exist.


and return the Kundalinî force to its seat at the base of the spine. The entire experience was mental and had nothing to do with samãdhi which is the phenomenon that occurs when Kundalinî is actually awakened. It was a state of mind created by ceremony;[41]  

[41] For, a more comprehensive discussion of tãntrik rituals see the works of Sir John Woodroffe (Arthur Avalon), The Principles of Tantra, Vols. I-II, "The Great Liberation," "Shakti and Shakta," and "The Garland of Letters."


I was told that to attain the ultimate goal of samãdhi I should have to continue my Yoga practices.

It is a popular misconception that in order to practise Yoga one must leave the world and live in a hidden sanctuary, isolated from all human intercourse. The Siva Samhitã concludes with the following statement.

Therefore, the Yogis should perform Yoga according to the rules of practice. He who is contented with what he gets, who restrains his senses, being a householder, who is not absorbed in the household duties, certainly attains emancipation by the practice of Yoga. Even the lordly householders obtain success by Japa, if they perform the duties of Yoga properly. Let, therefore, a householder also exert in Yoga (his wealth and conditions of life are no obstacles in this). Living in the house amidst wife and children, but being free from attachment to them, practising Yoga in secrecy, a householder even finds marks of success (slowly crowning his efforts), and thus following this teaching of mine, he ever lives in blissful happiness.[42]

[42] Siva Samhitã, v, 210-12. A similar comment is made in another section, 185-7. "Let him practise this in secrecy, free from the company of men, in a retired place. For the sake of appearance he should remain in society, but should not have his heart in it. He should not renounce the duties of his profession, caste or rank; but let him perform these merely as an instrument of the Lord, without any thought of the event. By thus doing there is no sin. Even the householder (Grihastha) by wisely following this method may obtain success, there is no doubt of it. Remaining in the midst of the family, always doing the duties of the householder, he who is free from merits and demerits, and has restrained his senses, attains salvation. The householder practicing Yoga is not touched by sins, if to protect mankind he does any sin, he is not polluted by it."

The text, however, points out the desirability of keeping ones effort a private matter, for Yoga was never intended for the parlour. "The Yogi desirous of success, should keep the Hatha Yoga as a great secret. It becomes fruitful while kept secret, revealed it loses its power."[43]

[43] Siva Samhitã, v, 207. Compare Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 11; for description see p. 17.

Any conclusions that I might draw from my experiences would necessarily be tentative, but they are, in any case, no legitimate part of this report. However, I must say again that during my studies of the science of Yoga I found that it holds no magic, performs no miracles, and reveals nothing supernatural. I was directed at every stage to practice if I wanted to know its secrets; so I can do no better, in closing, than to repeat again the words of the text. "As by learning the alphabets one can, through practice, master all the sciences, so by thoroughly practising first the (physical) training, one acquires the Knowledge of the True." The training I have here communicated faithfully; but the "Knowledge of the True," because of its very nature, must remain a mystery.