Chapter 19 Haṭhayoga’s Floruit on the Eve of Colonialism

In: Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions
Author: Jason Birch
Open Access

My doctoral thesis (Birch 2013), which was supervised by Alexis Sanderson at the University of Oxford, contained a survey of texts on Haṭha- and Rājayoga. One of the challenges of completing such a survey was that very few of the texts composed from the sixteenth to eighteenth century had been critically edited or studied academically. Inspired by several exemplary surveys of Śaiva literature in Sanderson’s articles (e.g. 2001, 2007 and 2014), I visited a large number of libraries in India in an effort to consult manuscripts of unpublished yoga texts. By the end of my doctorate, it was apparent to me that yoga texts composed on the eve of colonialism provided new insights into the history of yoga and, more specifically, are crucial for understanding how Haṭhayoga changed after it had been codified by Svātmārāma in the Haṭhapradīpikā (circa mid-fifteenth century). In fact, after Svātmārāma had successfully transformed Haṭhayoga from an auxiliary practice into a complete soteriological system, there began what might be considered the floruit of Haṭhayoga, insofar as its literature flourished, its systems of practice accumulated more techniques and it became, particularly in scholarly compendiums on yoga, almost synonymous with the auxiliaries of āsana and prāṇāyāma.

Building on my doctoral research, this article aims to provide a framework for examining the textual sources of Haṭhayoga that were composed from the sixteenth to eighteenth century. After a brief summary of the early literature of Haṭhayoga, I shall discuss some of the salient features of the late literature by dividing the texts into two etic categories; ‘extended works’ and ‘compendiums.’ The extended works expatiate on Haṭhayoga as it was formulated in the Haṭhapradīpikā, whereas the compendiums integrate teachings of Haṭhayoga within a discourse on yoga more broadly conceived. Both categories include scholarly and practical works which, when read together in this way, reveal significant changes to both practical and theoretical conceptions of Haṭhayoga. Such a reading also illuminates several developments of this time that foreshadowed, and in some cases inspired, the transnational yogas of the twentieth century. The article concludes with a brief discussion on the regional extent of the literature on Haṭhayoga during this period and how the codification of its praxis and theory appears to have diverged in different regions.

1 Conceptions of Haṭhayoga before the Haṭhapradīpikā

The earliest references to the term haṭhayoga are found in some Buddhist Tantras, most notably the Guhyasamājatantra and the Kālacakratantra, which date to the eighth and eleventh centuries, respectively, and mention it as a method of last resort when the primary techniques of these traditions had failed (Birch 2011, 541–542). An eleventh-century commentary on the Kālacakratantra, called the Vimalaprabhā, explains the term haṭhayoga as the name of a type of yoga that forces prāṇa (‘vitality’) into the central channel through a practice involving nāda (‘internal resonance’) and retention of bindu (‘generative fluids’). The earliest known Śaiva work to teach Haṭhayoga is the circa twelfth-century Amaraughaprabodha (Birch 2019). Its Haṭhayoga is somewhat consistent with that of the Kālacakra tradition insofar as both are auxiliary practices that induce nāda. Nonetheless, a much closer counterpart to the Amaraughaprabodha’s Haṭhayoga exists in an eleventh-century Vajrayāna work called the Amṛtasiddhi (Mallinson 2020). Both have similar accounts of three complex mudrās and a system of sounds (nāda), blisses (ānanda) and voids (śūnya). It is important to note that the author of the Amṛtasiddhi does not identify its yoga as Haṭhayoga. The reason for this is not stated in the text, but Haṭhayoga appears to have been a controversial practice among some Buddhist exegetes,1 and it is also possible that Haṭhayoga, or at the very least some of its techniques of that time, had older associations with other religious traditions.2

Unlike earlier Buddhist works, Haṭhayoga in the Amaraughaprabodha is embedded in a fourfold hierarchy in which Rājayoga is the principal yoga. Rājayoga is defined as the absence of mental activity,3 a meditative state that was known by this name in other Śaiva yoga texts of the same era.4 In this hierarchy, Haṭhayoga was not the sole means to Rājayoga, because the latter could also be achieved by Mantra- and Layayoga. Judging by later works, such as the Śivasaṃhitā (5.13–28), which explain the rationale behind this hierarchy, it appears that the characteristics of the student were the basis for determining which yoga was taught to an individual, and it seems likely that Mantra-, Laya- and Haṭhayoga were superfluous to students of extraordinary capability who could achieve Rājayoga without an auxiliary practice.5

The praxis common to both the yoga of the Amṛtasiddhi and the Haṭhayoga of the Amaraughaprabodha is three techniques called mahāmudrā, mahābandha and mahāvedha. A repertoire larger than this rudimentary one appears in all systems of Haṭhayoga that followed, such as that of the Dattātreyayogaśāstra (circa 13th-century), a Vaiṣṇava work in which a collection of ten mudrās, referred to as the Haṭhayoga of Kapila, was integrated with a Vaiṣṇava form of aṣṭāṅgayoga attributed to Yājñavalkya.6 Kapila’s collection of mudrās consists of khecarī, viparītakaraṇī, the three bandha (“locks”), and three variations of vajrolimudrā, in addition to mahāmudrā, mahābandha and mahāvedha. Combinations of some of these mudrās appear in contemporary Śaiva works, such as the Yogatārāvalī and the Yogabīja,7 which teach basic systems of Haṭhayoga. The latter text is known for its definition of Haṭhayoga as the union of the sun and moon, which are represented by the syllables ha and ṭha, respectively. This definition is absent from the earliest recension of the Yogabīja, which simply defined Haṭhayoga as forcefully consuming the gross elements of the body.8

Some of the mudrās in the Dattātreyayogaśāstra also appear in systems of yoga of the same era that were not called Haṭhayoga as evinced, for example, by two Śaiva works, the Vivekamārtaṇḍa and the Gorakṣaśataka.9 This suggests that from the twelfth to the fifteenth century the practice of these particular mudrās was more widespread than the use of the term haṭhayoga for designating a system of praxis. In fact, according to the available evidence, haṭhayoga is used in this sense in only four non-Buddhist Sanskrit yoga texts that are likely to predate the Haṭhapradīpikā, and two others whose dating is less certain.10

Unlike the asceticism and yoga of esoteric traditions, the texts of Haṭhayoga do not mention the need for initiation (dīkṣā) for its practice, a characteristic that appears to reflect haṭhayoga’s role as an auxiliary practice for people of various religions and social status, including householders (Birch 2015, 8–10). Although some of the distinguishing mudrās of Haṭhayoga, such as inverting the body, may be similar to techniques of older traditions of asceticism (tapas), the mudrās had been adapted and repurposed by tantric Buddhist and Śaiva sects by the time texts such as the Amṛtasiddhi and the Amaraughaprabodha were composed. None of the early teachings on Haṭhayoga refer to tapas and, in contrast to the mortifying effects of extreme methods of tapas, the proponents of Haṭhayoga claimed that this type of yoga would not afflict the body and would, in fact, bring about health and jīvanmukti (“liberation-in-life”) relatively quickly. Nonetheless, in this period there were opponents to Haṭhayoga who considered it to be like hard asceticism insofar as it was a cause of suffering and unnecessary exertion. These opponents usually favoured effortless gnostic methods for attaining liberation.11

The conception of Haṭhayoga in the Haṭhapradīpikā represents a turning point in its history. The author of this work Svātmārāma incorporated a larger repertoire of techniques than earlier works and synthesized diverse teachings of various yoga traditions into a cohesive system, which he called Haṭhayoga. Before Svātmārāma’s efforts, Haṭhayoga had been conceived as one of several auxiliaries in hierarchical models of yoga. In the Haṭhapradīpikā, Haṭhayoga is the sole means to Rājayoga and a complete soteriological system. The success of Svātmārāma’s interpretation is attested by the fact that subsequent authors borrowed much of the structure and content of the Haṭhapradīpikā in creating more extensive works on Haṭhayoga. Also, the Haṭhapradīpikā was widely quoted as an authority on its subject, in particular by erudite authors of compendiums on yoga that were composed after the fifteenth century, and it appears to have spread throughout most of India. Recently published catalogues indicate that nearly two hundred manuscripts of the Haṭhapradīpikā are held in libraries throughout India, from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu and Gujarat to West Bengal in various scripts, as well as a few vernacular commentaries.

The Haṭhapradīpikā might be considered the culmination of a formative period in the development of Haṭhayoga as a system of praxis. In this sense, it marks the beginning of Haṭhayoga as a distinct method that combined both seated and non-seated āsanas, the eight kumbhakas and the ten mudrās. In keeping with the earlier literature, the main goal of these techniques was Rājayoga. However, in addition to the mudrās of Haṭhayoga, Svātmārāma also stipulated the practice of three other mudrās for Rājayoga, namely, śāmbhavī mudrā, khecarīmudrā12 and a simplified form of ṣaṇmukhīmudrā, which is not named as such, but is prescribed for “fusing the mind with the internal resonance” (nādānusandhāna).13 These “meditational” mudrās probably derive from older traditions of Rājayoga, one of which explicitly rejects the mudrās of Haṭhayoga.14 Their inclusion in the Haṭhapradīpikā reflects Svātmārāma’s efforts to bring together techniques of diverse traditions under the umbrella term haṭhayoga.

After the fifteenth century, the composition of yoga texts which teach or integrate Haṭhayoga flourished. Although these texts reveal significant efforts at augmenting Haṭhayoga’s repertoire of techniques and synthesising it with other yogas, religions and philosophies, the schema of the Haṭhapradīpikā was most often the starting point and, in many cases, the prevailing paradigm for Haṭhayoga in both the scholarly and more praxis-orientated works that will be discussed below.

2 Post Fifteenth-Century Literature of Haṭhayoga

A notable change in the literature that followed the Haṭhapradīpikā was the composition of more comprehensive works on Haṭhayoga and large compendiums on yoga that integrated Haṭhayoga. The early literature on Haṭhayoga consists mainly of short pithy texts that provide skeletal systems of practice and rudimentary theoretical details. The later literature incorporates more techniques and theory, as well as more elaborate systems of practice. The considerable growth in the length of the later works can be seen in Table 19.1.

Table 19.1

A comparison of the number of verses in early and late texts on Haṭhayoga

Texts on Haṭhayoga

No. of verses

Pre-16th c. texts

Yogatārāvalī (14th c.)


Amaraughaprabodha (12th c.)


Dattātreyayogaśāstra (13th c.)


Yogabīja (14th c.)


Haṭhapradīpikā (15th c.)


Post-16th c. texts

Haṭharatnāvalī (17th c.)


Haṭhapradīpikā, 10 chs (18th c.)


Siddhāntamuktāvalī (18th c.)


Haṭhatattvakaumudī (18th c.)


Yogacintāmaṇi (17th c.)


It should be noted that, on the whole, the early works were composed in a low register of Sanskrit and anuṣṭubh metre.19 They are prescriptive and elementary, which suggests that they were probably written for practitioners. In contrast to this, many of the later works, such as the Haṭhatattvakaumudī and the Yogacintāmaṇi, are more scholarly and tend to be written in higher registers of Sanskrit. Their authors utilize more complex metres, compile their material from a wider range of sources and often include commentary on the older sources, which are frequently cited with attribution.

In order to discuss the salient characteristics of the late literature on Haṭhayoga, I shall divide the texts into two categories. The first consists of “extended works” on the topic of Haṭhayoga and the second, “compendiums” that borrow from Haṭha- and Rājayoga texts. There are some texts, such as the Haṭhasaṅketacandrikā, which could be placed in either category. Nonetheless, the purpose of introducing these etic categories is to reveal particular stylistic features and content that are characteristic of the works in each group.

2.1 Extended Works

The extended works expatiate on the type of Haṭhayoga that was outlined in the Haṭhapradīpikā. Many of these works borrow verses from the Haṭhapradīpikā and their discourse centres on the praxis and theory of Haṭhayoga. Examples include:

Haṭharatnāvalī (17th c.)20
Haṭhayogasaṃhitā (17th c.)21
Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati (18th c.)22
Haṭhayogamañjarī (18th c.?)23
Haṭhapradīpikā with ten chapters (18th c.)24
Siddhāntamuktāvalī (18th c.),25 etc.

In particular, the last two texts are literally extended versions of the Haṭhapradīpikā because their authors simply added more verses to the original work and created additional chapters on related topics. In fact, these “extended texts” enlarge on the Haṭhapradīpikā in two ways. Firstly, they integrate other types of yoga and various related topics. For example, the Haṭharatnāvalī combines the fourfold system of yoga (i.e., Mantra-, Laya-, Haṭha- and Rājayoga) of earlier works, such as the Amaraughaprabodha, with the aṣṭāṅga format. The author of the Haṭharatnāvalī borrowed over one hundred and thirty verses from the Haṭhapradīpikā and mentions Svātmārāma’s views on several specific matters (Gharote et al. 2002, xx). The Siddhāntamuktāvalī significantly extends the original Haṭhapradīpikā by adding sections on the purification of the channels (nāḍīśuddhi), meditation (dhyāna), cheating death (kālavañcana) and indifference (audāsīnya). A similar array of topics is seen in the Yogamārgaprakāśikā (16–18th c.26), which adopts the fourfold system of yoga noted above. Its teachings on Haṭhayoga follow for the most part the Haṭhapradīpikā.

Secondly, the repertoire of techniques in most of the texts which follow the Haṭhapradīpikā became larger. As shown in Table 19.2, the number of āsanas increases most significantly.27 However, it is also the case that techniques were added to the standard collections of the ṣaṭkarmas and mudrās. The original six therapeutic interventions known as the ṣaṭkarma form the basis of a repertoire of twenty-one techniques in the Haṭhayogasaṃhitā. This work also adds fifteen mudrās to the usual ten that are taught in Haṭhayoga. Furthermore, these texts provide greater detail on many of the mudrās. For example, the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati contains the most elaborate teachings on vajroli, which is taught in great detail along with its preliminary practices and medical applications. In table 19.2 the number of kumbhakas remains almost the same but, generally speaking, these texts contain many more verses on prāṇāyāma.28

Table 19.2

The proliferation of post-fifteenth Haṭhayogic techniques


Number of techniques





Haṭhapradīpikā (15th c.)





Haṭharatnāvālī (17th c.)





Haṭhayogasaṃhitā (17th c.)





Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati (18th c.)





The period in which these extended works arose was one in which physical practices were documented on an unprecedented scale. Monographic works were composed on particular techniques that had become, by this time, closely associated with Haṭhayoga. Examples include the following:

Kumbhakapaddhati (17th c.)29
Satkarmasaṅgraha (18th c.)30
Yogāsanamālā (18th century)31
Yogāsana (19th century),32 etc.

The composition of such works indicates ongoing innovation and syncretisation in the practice of āsana, prāṇāyāma and the ṣaṭkarma that is also reflected in the extended Haṭhayoga texts mentioned above. The Kumbhakapaddhati describes over seventy varieties of breath retention (kumbhaka) and the Satkarmasaṅgraha borrowed many of its additional therapeutic interventions from Āyurveda.33 All of these works build on the content of the Haṭhapradīpikā that was relevant to their respective topics.

2.2 Extended Works: Scholarly vs Praxis-Orientated

Some of the extended works are the result of scholarly efforts to synthesise and elaborate on material from earlier works, whereas others appear to document, perhaps for the first time, a practice that was in use at the time of writing. A good example of a more scholarly extended work is the Haṭharatnāvalī, which was composed by Śrīnivāsa. At the beginning of the first chapter, he presents himself as a learned writer by informing the reader that he is an eminent astrologer who excels in the Vedas, Vedānta, the works of Patañjali, Vyākaraṇa, Tantra, Sāṅkhya, Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, as well as various other texts and philosophies.34 His remarks on the Haṭhapradīpikā indicate that he was responding to deficiencies which he perceived in that work.35 In particular, his list of eighty-four āsanas appears to have been the creation of a scholar who felt compelled to elaborate on references to this canonical number of postures in early works, such as the Dattātreyayogaśāstra and the Vivekamārtaṇḍa.36 In fact, Śrīnivāsa’s list of eighty-four names of postures is preceded and followed by verses of the Vivekamārtaṇḍa and the Haṭhapradīpikā, which state that Śiva taught eighty-four āsanas.37 The compilatory nature of his collection is revealed by explicit references to and tacit borrowings from the Haṭhapradīpikā, the Yogayājñavalkya, and the Dattātreyayogaśāstra in his descriptions of thirty-six āsanas.38 Also, Śrīnivāsa incorporated into the list at least twelve variations of certain basic postures, which further suggests that this list was a scholarly contrivance arising from his intention to expatiate on earlier textual references to eighty-four āsanas.39

The scholarly efforts of Śrīnivāsa in compiling a list of āsanas can be contrasted with what one might call “praxis-orientated works” in this category, such as the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati and the chapter on āsana in the Siddhāntamuktāvalī. These works are composed in the same style as the early Haṭhayoga texts; they are prescriptive and focus on praxis rather than theory. Their collections of āsanas do not appear to be a synthesis of earlier textual sources because their authors do not cite or allude to any sources, and a large proportion of their āsanas is not attested in earlier texts. In the case of the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, innovations seem apparent in the use of moving āsanas, sequencing, linking postures, counterposing and the use of props, such as ropes and walls (Birch 2018, 134–135). Therefore, it is likely that innovation played a significant role in the proliferation of techniques seen in these praxis-orientated extended works which postdate the Haṭhapradīpikā. Although some of these complex postures may predate the fifteenth century, as revealed by iconography, the codification of large numbers of complex postures in texts specifically on Haṭhayoga, as well as works on yoga broadly conceived, such as the Jogapradīpyakā, appears to have emerged from the seventeenth century onwards. In fact, only a small portion of the aggregate number of these āsanas are anticipated by the earlier sculptural collections of the Mehudi gate, Brahmanath temple and Hampi,40 which further suggests that a certain degree of innovation was probably at play during Haṭhayoga’s floruit.

There is little evidence to indicate that scholarly extended works, such as the Haṭharatnāvalī, and the compendiums mentioned below were sources of information for Kṛṣṇamācārya, Swāmī Śivānanda and other gurus who popularized physical yoga in the early twentieth century. These gurus deferred to the Pātañjalayogaśāstra and the Haṭhapradīpikā in their publications. Nonetheless, there is significant evidence that they surreptitiously adopted postures from traditions of āsana practice that were prevalent in certain regions of India in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The traces of these traditions are discernible through texts such as the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, the Jogapradīpyakā and the Yogāsana,41 which preserve teachings on large distinct collections of complex āsanas (Birch, forthcoming). The growing emphasis on complex āsanas and mudrās in practical works such as the Siddhāntamuktāvalī also occurs for the first time in the literature of erudite Brahmins of the same era. I shall now turn my attention to these more scholarly works which integrated Haṭha- and Rājayoga into more orthodox conceptions of yoga.

2.3 Yoga Compendiums

A century or so after the Haṭhapradīpikā, a number of lengthy compendiums on yoga were composed. Most of these compendiums do not focus on any particular type of yoga, but treat the subject more generally by combining many sources, including texts on Haṭhayoga. Generally speaking, these compendiums are scholarly works of literature, which incorporate philosophy and metaphysics on a more ambitious scale than earlier texts, such as the Haṭhapradīpikā. In a sense, their authors produced a new discourse on yoga by combining the teachings of Haṭha- and Rājayoga with those of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra and various Brahmanical texts, including the Bhagavadgītā, the Mahābhārata, early Upaniṣads, Purāṇas and Dharmaśāstras. In the early-twentieth century, a synthesis of the same genres was favoured by Brahmin gurus such as Kṛṣṇamācārya, Swāmī Śivānanda and Swāmī Kuvalayānanda, who combined physical yoga techniques with concepts from Pātañjalayoga and Advaitavedānta, as well as metaphysics from tantric traditions, to teach yoga to an international audience.42

The compendiums to which I am primarily referring are:43

Yogacintāmaṇi of Godāvaramiśra (16th c.)
Yogapañcāśikā (early 16th c.)44
Upāsanāsārasaṅgraha (16th c.)45
Yogacintāmaṇi of Śivānandasarasvatī (17th c.)
Yuktabhavadeva (17th c.)
Tattvabinduyoga of Rāmacandra (17–18th c.)46
Haṭhasaṅketacandrikā (18th c.)
Haṭhatattvakaumudī (18th c.)
Yogasārasaṅgraha (18th c.)47
Yoga Upaniṣads (18th c.)48
Rājatarala (late 18th–19th c.)49
Yogasandhyā (early 19th c.)50
Gorakṣasiddhāntasaṅgraha (19th c.)51

The authors of these compendiums often combined yoga teachings from different traditions seamlessly. For example, in the Yogacintāmaṇi, Godāvaramiśra integrated the physical methods of Haṭhayoga with the auxiliaries of āsana and prāṇāyāma in Patañjali’s aṣṭāṅga system (see below). Similarly, in Śivānanda’s Yogacintāmaṇi and Bhavadeva’s Yuktabhavadeva, the meditative state of Rājayoga became the equivalent of Patañjali’s highest stage of samādhi, called asaṃprajñātasamādhi.52 Most authors of these works were inclined towards Vedānta. They cited the teachings of the Upaniṣads to express the gnostic insights that arise from samādhi. Also, they incorporated theistic teachings on yoga from the Purāṇas and Tantras, and were comfortable with defining yoga as meditation (i.e., cittavṛttinirodha), on the one hand, and then as the union of the self with a deity, on the other hand. Likewise, their descriptions of dhāraṇā and dhyāna juxtapose Patañjali’s definition of “binding the mind to one place, etc.,” with tantric visualizations of the five elements and deities.

2.4 Godāvaramiśra’s and Śivānanda’s Thought Gems on Yoga

In the Yogacintāmaṇi, Godāvaramiśra’s method of synthesising Haṭhayoga with other yogas is typical of this genre.53 Godāvaramiśra was a chief minister (mantrivara) and preceptor (rājaguru) to the Orissan king Pratāparudradeva, who ruled in the early sixteenth century. In addition to yoga, Godāvaramiśra wrote works on various topics, including Advaitavedānta (the Advaitadarpaṇa54), Tantra (the Tantracintāmaṇi) and an extensive treatise on politics and warfare (the Hariharacaturaṅga).55 His view of yoga was mainly shaped by the Pātañjalayogaśāstra. He acknowledges this at the beginning of his work:

In this text, I summarise and examine Patañjali’s doctrine, which was explained by Vyāsa, Vācaspati and Bhojadeva and which is validated and [yet] overlooked elsewhere.56

Although Godāvaramiśra discusses only some of the sūtras of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra in an order that fits the design of his work, he begins with the first one (atha yogānuśāsanam) and, in his discussion of it, cites with attribution passages from the Gāruḍapurāṇa (sic), the Bhagavadgītā, the Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa and the Kūrmapurāṇa, as well as the sages Yājñavalkya (i.e., the Yājñavalkyasmṛti) and Maharṣimataṅga.57 The first half of the Yogacintāmaṇi is concerned with general topics, such as definitions of yoga, the types of samādhi and so on. The latter half is structured on the eight auxiliaries (aṣṭāṅga) of Pātañjalayoga, and it is in his discussions of āsana, diet and prāṇāyāma that he cites two works on Haṭhayoga: the Haṭhapradīpikā (haṭhayoge—f. 39v, l. 8) and the Dattātreyayogaśāstra (dattātreyaḥ—f. 36r, line 1; f. 40v, line 3). He also cites the Yogayājñavalkya (yājñavalkyaḥ—f. 36r, line 6; f. 36v, line 6; f. 37v, line 7; f. 38v, line 7), which was a source text for the Haṭhapradīpikā. The other sources on these topics are the Dharmaputrikā, the Pavanayogasaṅgraha, the Āgneyapurāṇa and the Mataṅgapārameśvaratantra. Therefore, on the topic of āsana, Godāvaramiśra created a seamless synthesis of haṭhayogic teachings with those of tantric and brahmanical sources.

Godāvaramiśra’s work became the basis of an ambitious attempt by Śivānandasarasvatī to integrate a more extensive and diverse array of Haṭhayoga texts with Pātañjalayoga and Brahmanical works. Śivānanda also named his compilation the Yogacintāmaṇi. He probably lived in the early-seventeenth century in Varanasi.58 At the end of this text, Śivānanda informs the reader of the material he has included and excluded. He says:

Meditation along with the practices [ancillary to it] have been explained briefly by me according to scripture and my understanding. Listening to and contemplating [the teachings] which are seen in detail and at length only in the Upaniṣads, have not been discussed for fear of prolixity. I have revealed here all that which is secret in Haṭha- and Rājayoga for the delight of yogins. However, that Haṭhayoga which was practised by Uddālaka, Bhuśuṇḍa and others has not been mentioned by me, because it cannot be accomplished by contemporary [practitioners. Also], the procedures and so forth promoted by the kāpālikas have not been mentioned [because] they contravene the Vedas, Dharmaśāstras and Purāṇas.59

Both Godāvaramiśra and Śivānanda excluded the Haṭha techniques of vajrolī, amarolī and sahajolī, presumably because these are the kāpālika practices which would be unacceptable to his brahmanical audience.60 The main difference between Godāvaramiśra’s and Śivananda’s compilations is that the former focused on Pātañjalayoga and cited Haṭhayoga texts sparingly, whereas the latter discussed Haṭhayoga as forthrightly and comprehensively as the yogas of other traditions, and cited its texts profusely. This is also the case for similar compilations of the time, such as Bhavadevamiśra’s Yuktabhavadeva and Sundaradeva’s Haṭhasaṅketacandrikā.

2.5 The Polymathy of Bhavadevamiśra

The synthesis of various philosophies and genres of literature in the yoga compendiums under consideration was created by well-educated Brahmins who were knowledgeable in a wide range of scholarly subjects. A good example of this is the seventeenth-century Bhavadevamiśra, whose Yuktabhavadeva is a digest (nibandha) that integrated teachings of Haṭha- and Rājayoga with those of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra and various Upaniṣads, Purāṇas, Tantras, Dharmaśāstras and the Epics. Apart from the fact that Bhavadeva cited a wide range of Sanskrit works, the breadth of his learning is attested by the commentaries attributed to him on various śāstras. Manuscript colophons state that he was a Brahmin from Mithila and that his father was Kṛṣṇadevamiśra, his elder brother Baladevamiśra and his teacher Bhavadeva Ṭhakkura. Based on this information, the Bhavadeva who wrote the Yuktabhavadeva also wrote commentaries on the Pātañjalayogaśāstra,61 the Brahmasūtra,62 the Kāvyaprakāśa63 and the Vājasaneyīsaṃhitā64 as well as a work on Dharmaśāstra called the Dānadharmaprakriyā65 and another on what appears to be Vaiśeṣika philosophy, the Vaiśeṣikaratnamālā.66 Some manuscript catalogues also attribute to a “Bhavadeva” a commentary called the Abhinavabhāṣya on the Śāṇḍilyasūtra, also known as the Bhaktimīmāṃsāsūtra,67 and some other works,68 but the catalogues I have consulted do not provide enough biographic information to prove that this was the same Bhavadeva who composed the Yuktabhavadeva. Nonetheless, it is clear that Bhavadeva was a scholar whose knowledge extended far beyond the theory and practice of yoga traditions.

3 The Regional Extent of Haṭhayoga’s Literature on the Eve of Colonialism

The compendiums of Godāvaramiśra, Śivānanda, Bhavadevamiśra and Sundaradeva endorsed the teachings of Haṭhayoga.69 These works were part of a concerted effort among some erudite Brahmins to make Haṭhayoga’s physical practices an integral part of the Brahmanical view of yoga, much like the so-called “Yoga Upaniṣads” that were compiled in South India in the first half of the eighteenth century. Christian Bouy’s work (1994) on these Upaniṣads informs us that the compiler liberally borrowed material from earlier Haṭha- and Rājayoga texts, often presenting the physical practice as a way of purifying the mind that would then lead to the realization of vedantic truths. As Bouy (1994, 72) notes, the prominence of Haṭhayoga teachings in these Upaniṣads indicates that this type of yoga had come into vogue in vedāntic milieus. He says that the interest of vedāntists in Haṭhayoga may have started in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and then flourished in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

In addition to the Yoga Upaniṣads and the Upāsanāsārasaṅgraha, which were examined by Bouy, the Yogasandhyā and the Rājatarala are large exegetical works composed in South India that weave together Pātañjalayoga and Haṭhayoga within a vedāntic framework. The other compendiums discussed in this article support Bouy’s observations and extend his hypothesis to the region of Northeast India. Godāvaramiśra lived in what is now Orissa, Bhavadeva in Mithila and both Śivānanda and Sundaradeva in Varanasi. The vedāntic overtones in the works of these authors include references to the Upaniṣads and an emphasis on achieving the liberating gnosis of Brahman. Also, various prosopographic details associate them with Advaitavedānta. Godāvaramiśra’s father Balabhadra wrote a text called the Advaitacintāmaṇi and he himself the Advaitadarpaṇa,70 Śivānanda mentions Ādiśaṅkara in his lineage71 and, according to manuscript catalogues, Bhavadeva wrote a commentary on the Brahmasūtra. Unlike the Yoga Upaniṣads, their works explicitly cite Haṭhayoga texts.

In contrast to this, I am yet to locate any such compendium in Northwest India. However, some of the extended works on Haṭhayoga can be traced to this region, such as the Siddhāntamuktāvalī, the Haṭhapradīpikā with ten chapters and the Haṭhayogamañjarī. These works, along with the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati in Maharashtra and Karnataka, are less scholarly and more likely influenced by practitioners of the time in which they were composed.

4 Conclusion

The flourishing of literature on Haṭhayoga in both North and South India from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries was concomitant with a growing pervasiveness of references, over the same period, to Haṭhayoga in Sanskrit literature of various religions and philosophies.72 The findings of this paper suggest that Haṭhayoga became more prevalent in literature composed during this period and that the Haṭhapradīpikā was instrumental in defining the techniques and structure of practice for this type of yoga. Moreover, distinct physical techniques that became closely associated with Haṭhayoga, such as non-seated āsanas and mudrās, had become integral to broader conceptions of yoga on the eve of colonialism.

In the period following the Haṭhapradīpikā, it is possible to discern that the praxis and theory of Haṭhayoga developed in different ways as it became more widely disseminated. In scholarly circles of Northeast India, its codification took on some of the characteristics of the philosophical yogas, as it was integrated with the Pātañjalayogaśāstra and Brahmanical sources. This development resulted in a more syncretic and sophisticated discourse around the physical techniques. The social background of the authors of these compendiums was diverse. Some were sannyāsins, such as Śivānandasarasvatī and Śrīsadāśivanārāyaṇabrahmacāri, whereas others identified themselves according to their professions, which included medicine, politics and astronomy (i.e., Sundaradeva, Godāvaramiśra and Śrīnivāsa, respectively).

In contrast to the scholarly compendiums of the northeast, the extended works on Haṭhayoga that arose in the northwest of India retained the more praxis-orientated focus of the Haṭhapradīpikā, which they enlarged upon by adding more techniques and other auxiliaries, such as yama and niyama. Although not much is known of the authors of these works, renunciant traditions in this region seemed reasonably active in producing manuals on yoga, such as the Haṭhayogamañjarī and the Jogapradīpyakā, and monographic works, such as the Yogāsanamālā and the Yogāsana, whose content is related to the Haṭhapradīpikā and its extended texts.

From the Amaraughaprabodha to the current day, Haṭhayoga has been distinguished by physical methods of practice. In the early period the practice centred on breath retentions with physical locks (mudrā), and it burgeoned over the centuries to include an array of complex postures, ṣaṭkarma and mudrās. Although these physical techniques were never particular to Haṭhayoga, the textual evidence suggests that after the sixteenth century Haṭhayoga became a dominant paradigm for the practice of physical yoga across most of the Indian subcontinent, and this paradigm was significantly shaped by the content of the Haṭhapradīpikā. As outlined in this article, the floruit of Haṭhayoga was a period in which its techniques proliferated, particularly in praxis-orientated manuals, and its literature diversified as authors of various backgrounds, most notably erudite Brahmins, attempted to expand and integrate it with other yogas and different religions. By the eighteenth century, this extensive literary activity appears to have peaked, but the momentum behind it carried the notion of Haṭhayoga into the royal courts of Mysore and Jodhpur in the nineteenth century,73 and placed it firmly at the centre of the revival of postural practice in the twentieth century.74


I would like to thank Jacqueline Hargreaves for her comments on numerous drafts, and also Gudrun Bühnemann, Elizabeth de Michelis, Dominic Goodall, Shaman Hatley and Mark Singleton, who commented on earlier drafts. I’m particularly grateful to James Mallinson for his detailed comments and for sharing unpublished research. My research for this paper was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 647963).



New Catalogus Catalogorum: An Alphabetical Register of Sanskrit and Allied Works and Authors. All Volumes. Madras: University of Madras, 1968 onwards.


On Maitreyanātha’s and Rāmapāla’s rejection of Haṭhayoga, see Isaacson and Sferra 2014, and Mallinson, forthcoming 2020.


On the prehistory of certain techniques which were integrated into Haṭhayoga, see Mallinson 2016, 120–122. In the case of the three physical techniques taught in the Amṛtasiddhi and the Amaraughaprabodha, it seems possible to me that the Amaraughaprabodha may have borrowed from a source that was older than the Amṛtasiddhi (Birch 2019, 964–966) and that the physical practices themselves were not the preserve of esoteric Buddhists.


Amaraughaprabodha 3d (yaś cittavṛttirahitaḥ sa tu rājayogaḥ).


The earliest work to teach Rājayoga by name is the Amanaska, which can be dated to the eleventh or early twelfth century (Birch 2014, 406–409). In nearly all texts that teach Haṭhayoga, Rājayoga is mentioned as the goal of Haṭhayoga.


The Dattātreyayogaśāstra (14) states that Mantrayoga is for the lowest type of practitioner, who has a weak intellect. This is why it is the lowest yoga of the hierarchy (alpabuddhir imaṃ yogaṃ sevate sādhakādhamaḥ | mantrayogo hy ayaṃ prokto yogānām adhamas smṛtaḥ ||). A passage in the long recension of the Amaraughaprabodha (17cd–24), which might postdate the Haṭhapradīpikā, explicitly connects each of the four types of student to one of these four yogas. Both this passage and the similar one in the Śivasaṃhitā, mentioned above, appear to have been inspired by the Amṛtasiddhi’s discourse (chapters 15–18) on the four types of student in relation to the four stages of yoga.


This Vaiṣṇava form of aṣṭāṅgayoga is taught (without the Haṭhayogic mudrās) in the Vasiṣṭhasaṃhitā and Yogayājñavalkya, which were probably composed in the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, respectively.


Recent work on nineteen manuscripts of the Yogabīja by the Haṭha Yoga Project has revealed an early recension that does not teach these bandhas and mudrās. Nonetheless, it is likely that a section on four kumbhakas and the three bandhas was added to the text before the time of the Haṭhapradīpikā, in an attempt to explain the practice of śakticālana and Haṭhayoga.


Yogabīja, ms. no. 29917, f. 11v, line 5 (haṭhena grasyate jāḍyaṃ haṭhayogaḥ sa ucyate). The “union of the sun and moon” definition was added to later recensions of the Yogabīja, one of which may still predate the Haṭhapradīpikā.


One might also include the Śivasaṃhitā as an example here. The fourth chapter of this work teaches āsanas, prāṇāyāma and ten mudrās, as well as yonimudrā, which became an integral part of the typology of the Haṭhapradīpikā. Chapters 1–4 of the Śivasaṃhitā, in which these techniques are taught, do not refer to Haṭhayoga, which is mentioned only briefly in the fifth chapter. The first four chapters may have been an original text that was combined with the fifth sometime before the seventeenth century (Birch 2018, 107 note 13).


These are the Amaraughaprabodha, the Dattātreyayogaśāstra, the Yogabīja and the Yogatārāvalī. The other two are the Śivasaṃhitā and the Aparokṣānubhūti, whose verses on Haṭhayoga may not predate the Haṭhapradīpikā. On the dating of the Śivasaṃhitā, see Birch 2018, 107, note 13. As far as I know, the date of the Aparokṣānubhūti is uncertain and it is possible that its verses on Haṭhayoga were added more recently (Birch 2011, 540, notes 98–100). A Sanskrit Vīraśaiva work called the Śaivaratnākara by Jyotirnātha mentions in passing the four yogas in the same order as the Yogabīja (i.e., Mantra, Haṭha-, Laya and Rājayoga). According to Elaine Fisher (personal communication, 10 March 2019), the Śaivaratnākara may have been composed in the late-thirteenth or early-fourteenth century, which so happens to be the likely date of the early recension of the Yogabīja. A large Sanskrit compendium called the Śārṅgadharapaddhati, probably dated to 1363 CE, mentions Haṭhayoga in a syncretic section on yoga that borrows from earlier yoga texts. I am also aware of a Marathi text on yoga that may predate the fifteenth century, namely, the Vivekadarpaṇa. This work defines but rejects Haṭhayoga in favour of a gnostic type of Rājayoga. I would like to thank James Mallinson for drawing my attention to the Vivekadarpaṇa and Elaine Fisher for the Śaivaratnākara.


Early examples of texts that critique and reject Haṭhayoga and its methods include the Mokṣopāya/Laghuyogavāsiṣṭha and the Amanaska (Birch 2011, 531, 544–545).


Khecarīmudrā is taught in chapters three and four of the Haṭhapradīpikā. In the fourth chapter, the practice of this mudrā consists of focusing the mind between the eyebrows, rather than the Haṭhayogic khecarīmudrā of inserting the tongue into the nasopharyngeal cavity, which is taught in the third chapter.


The Haṭhapradīpikā (4.68) states that the ears, eyes, nostrils and mouth should be blocked in order to hear the internal resonance (nāda) in the suṣumnā channel. Brahmānanda’s Jyotsnā commentary on this verse adds that the senses are blocked by the fingers, and he calls this practice ṣaṇmukhīmudrā. A simpler technique is also mentioned at Haṭhapradīpikā 4.82ab, in which the yogin presses the ears with the hands to initiate nādānusandhāna (karṇau pidhāya hastābhyāṃ yaḥ śṛṇoti dhvaniṃ muniḥ). A similar technique is described in the Śivasvarodaya (383), the Rājayogāmṛtasāra of Ānandānandanātha (1.17–18, f. 9r–9v), the Maṇḍalabrāhmaṇopaniṣat (2.2.2) and the Jogapradīpyakā (685–688), and it is depicted in an illustrated manuscript called “seven āsanas of yoga” at the National Museum of New Delhi, PCWA gallery.


For example, one of the earliest yoga texts to teach a mudrā called śāmbhavī is the Amanaska, a text on Rājayoga that explicitly rejects prāṇāyāma and the mudrās and karaṇas associated with it (Birch 2014, 406–408).


This number of verses is based on a short recension of the Amaraughaprabodha, which is older than the recension published by Mallik (1954). The short recension is preserved by two manuscripts (Ms. No. 1448 at the Government Oriental Manuscript Library, University of Madras, Chennai, and Ms. No. 70528 at the Adyar Library and Research Centre, Chennai). For more information on this short recension, see Birch 2019.


This estimate is given by Gharote, et al. 2006, xvi.


This is an approximate number of ślokas for the Haṭhatattvakaumudī, which has fifty-six chapters, ranging from 5 to 150 ślokas each. Most are around 20. So, I have taken an average of 30. The Haṭhatattvakaumudī is undoubtedly a large yoga text, and I have felt no the need to add up all of its ślokas to prove this point.


This estimate is given in a scribal comment at the end of a manuscript of the Yogacintāmaṇi held at the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute (ms. No. 9785 p. 257, line 14).


The exception is the Yogatārāvalī, which is composed in triṣṭubh and incorporates poetic images, etc.


On the date of the Haṭharatnāvalī, see Birch 2018, 109 note 24.


The Haṭhayogasaṃhitā is a compilation that borrows extensively from the Haṭhapradīpikā. The opening verses (1.2–3) acknowledge the seven sages, namely Mārkaṇḍeya, Bharadvāja, Marīci, Jaimini, Parāśara, Bhṛgu and Viśvāmitra, for spreading Haṭhayoga in the world. The stated aim of Haṭhayoga is to achieve purification (śodhanaṃ), firmness (dṛḍhatā), steadiness (sthairya), constancy (dhairya), lightness (lāghava), direct perception (pratyakṣa) and liberation (nirlipta) of the body (ghaṭa). Its Haṭhayoga has seven auxiliaries: the ṣaṭkarma, āsana, mudrā, pratyāhāra, prāṇasaṃyāma, dhyāna and samādhi. The Haṭhayogasaṃhitā appears to have been the basis of the Gheraṇḍasaṃhitā (eighteenth century), which adds a new frame story (viz., a dialogue between the teacher Gheraṇḍa and a student Caṇḍakāpāli), several elaborate visualization practices and a six-fold Rājayoga. The Gheraṇḍasaṃhitā calls its yoga ghaṭasthayoga, omits the Haṭhayogasaṃhitā’s teachings on vajrolī and redefines this mudrā as a handstand, thus revealing a reluctance to adopt the transgressive practices of Haṭhayoga.


The terminus ad quem of the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati is the Śrītattvanidhi, which was a compendium composed by Kṛṣṇarāja Waḍiyar III, the Mahārāja of Mysore, who was active in the mid-nineteenth century (Sjoman 1996, 40). The Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati was a source text of the Śrītattvanidhi (see Birch 2018, 131–134), and probably predates it by a hundred years or so (Birch and Singleton 2019, 14–16).


Not much scholarly attention has been given to this work. Its name in the published edition is not entirely certain according to the colophons. The text begins with the heading Haṭhayogamañjarī. However, the second chapter’s colophon refers to the Jogī-cintāmaṇi of Śrīsahajānandanātha, the third chapter’s colophon to the Śrīsarvopaniṣat, and the final colophon to the Gorakhajogamañjarī. The text could be a composite work consisting of summaries or extracts of different texts. Nonetheless, the Haṭhayogamañjarī styles itself as a work on Haṭhayoga. The terms haṭhayoga and haṭhavidyā are used in each chapter and it contains a description of the haṭhayogī (p. 32). Its opening verses (2–5) state that it is an explanation of the Haṭhapradīpikā in a vernacular language (bhāṣā). It certainly covers most of the content of the Haṭhapradīpikā, but also includes additional material on yama, niyama, pratyāhāra, dhyāna, etc. A significant difference is that much of the Haṭhapradīpikā’s discourse on Rājayoga has been omitted. Like other Brajbhāṣā texts, such as the Jogapradīpyakā (1737 CE), the author of the Haṭhayogamañjarī equates vajrolīmudrā with Rājayoga. I am yet to consult a manuscript of this work or even find a reference to it in a manuscript catalogue or another yoga text. It may be the work referred to as the Jogamañjarī (acc. no. 6543, Rajasthan Pracya Vidya Pratisthan, Bikaner, Rajasthan) by Gharote et al. (2006a, lxvii). However, the librarian at this library in Bikaner was unable to locate this manuscript when James Mallinson and I visited on separate occasions in 2018. The Haṭhayogamañjarī mentions devotion to Rāma (e.g., p. 10, v. 33 and p. 18, v. 25 and the last line) and was probably compiled in the same period and milieu as the Jogapradīpyakā.


On the date of the Haṭhapradīpikā with ten chapters, see Birch 2018a, 8 note 32.


On the date of the Siddhāntamuktāvalī, see Birch 2018, 127.


On the date of the Yogamārgaprakāśikā, see Birch 2018a, 8 note 29.


The Haṭharatnāvalī lists eighty-four āsanas but describes only thirty-six of them. Other examples from this period of yoga texts with the names and descriptions of large numbers of āsanas include the Siddhāntamuktāvalī (96 āsanas), the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati (112 āsanas), the Yogāsana (108 āsanas), the Yogāsanamālā (110 āsanas) and the Ujjain manuscript (No. 3537) of the Yogacintāmaṇi (54 āsanas described and two lists of over eighty names of āsanas). For further information on this, see Birch 2018.


For example, the Haṭharatnāvalī has 97 verses in its chapter on prāṇāyāma whereas the Haṭhapradīpikā has 78. The Haṭhatattvakaumudī has five chapters on prāṇāyāma (9, 10, 12, 37–38), namely, the preliminary auxiliaries and rules of practice for prāṇāyāma (prāṇāyāmapūrvāṅgasādhanavidhi), an explanation of the names, nature and characteristics of kumbhakas (kumbhakanāmasvarūpaguṇa), breathing methods for quelling suffering (kleśaghnavāyusādhana), necessary rules for prāṇāyāma (prāṇāyāmakartavyavidhi) and an explanation of prāṇāyāma (prāṇāyāmavivecana), which total more than 240 verses. The Siddhāntamuktāvalī (ff. 53r–86v), the Yogacintāmaṇi (pp. 161–220) and the Yuktabhavadeva (pp. 107–143) have large sections on prāṇāyāma as well.


On the date of the Kumbhakapaddhati, see Birch 2018a, 9 note 41.


On the date of the Satkarmasaṅgraha, see Birch 2018a, 50.


The one available manuscript of the Yogāsanamālā was completed on Wednesday, 20 January 1790 CE (miti mahīṣa sudī 5 budhavasare saṃvat 1846).


See below for information on the date of this text.


For further details on this, see Birch 2018a, 49–56.


Haṭharatnāvalī 1.2 (vede vedāntaśāstre phaṇipatiracite śabdaśāstre svaśāstre tantre prābhākarīye kaṇabhugabhihite nyāyaratnārṇavenduḥ | sāṅkhye sārasvatīye vividhamatimate tattvacintāmaṇijñaḥ śrīmajjyotirvid agre saravaratanujo rājate śrīnivāsaḥ ||).


For example, see Śrīnivāsa’s commentary to Haṭharatnāvalī 1.27 and 2.86.


For references and translations of the relevant verses, see Birch 2018, 107–108.


Haṭharatnāvalī 3.7 (~ Vivekamārtaṇḍa 8–10) and 3.23 (= Haṭhapradīpikā 1.35).


In the Haṭharatnāvalī’s section on āsana, the Haṭhapradīpikā, the Yogayājñavalkya, and the Dattātreyayogaśāstra are cited by name at 3.23, 3.35 and 3.36, respectively. Haṭharatnāvalī 3.42–43, 51–54, 57–58, etc., are tacitly borrowed from the Haṭhapradīpikā. Also, Haṭharatñāvalī 3.77 is a rewriting of Vivekamārtaṇḍa 92.


Six types of mayūrāsana are mentioned in Haṭharatnāvalī 3.10 and five are described at 3.42–47; three of matsyendrāsana are mentioned in 3.12 and described at 3.58–60; two of paścimatānāsana are mentioned in 3.13, and both are described at 3.66–68; and possibly five of kukkuṭāsana are mentioned in 3.17 (if one assumes that ākārita and bandhacūlī, which are included among kukkuṭa, ekapādakakukkuṭa and pārśvakukkuṭa, are variations of the same posture).


On large collections of āsanas at these locations, see Vijaya Sarde 2015 and 2017, and Seth Powell 2018.


The āsanas of the Yogāsana, most of which correspond to untraced Sanskrit descriptions quoted in a commentary on the Yogasūtra by Śrīkṛṣṇavallabhācārya (1939), were reproduced in several early twentieth-century publications, one of which was Swāmī Śivānanda’s book Yoga Asanas. This will be discussed at length in a forthcoming publication.


One should consult the work of Elizabeth de Michelis (2004) and Mark Singleton (2010) for the modern elements, such as neo-Vedānta and physical culture, that also shaped the teachings of these gurus. Some significant similarities in their teachings with the sources I am discussing include the use of the aṣṭāṅga format, the integration of bandhas and mudrās with āsana and prāṇāyāma, the importance of inverted āsanas, the identification of samādhi with Advaitavedānta concepts and, above all, the trans-sectarian approach to compiling their teachings.


For dating, please refer to Birch 2018a, unless otherwise indicated.


The Yogapañcāśikā might be the earliest attempt to integrate Haṭha- and Rājayoga with Pātañjalayoga. The text is cited by name in a Sanskrit work called the Vivekamukura, which was composed by Nṛsimha Bhāratīya, according to its last verse (97). If this is the same author who wrote the commentary called the Subodhinī on the Vedāntasāra, as stated by Thangaswami (1980, 360–361), then Nṛsimha Bhāratī of Varanasi was active in the late sixteenth century. Unlike other compilations in this list, the Yogapañcāśikā is a short work of merely fifty verses that cites only the Pātañjalayogaśāstra. It teaches an aṣṭāṅgayoga. The first four auxiliaries are Haṭhayoga, and the second four, Rājayoga. It is a Śaiva work that aims at raising kuṇḍalinī, uniting Śakti with Śiva and attaining jīvanmukti, followed by videhamukti when all prārabdakarma is extinguished. Its yoga is not intended for those who deny the validity of scripture (nāstika), but for male life-long brahmacārins (nṛnaiṣṭhika). This text is unpublished and, as far as I am aware, preserved by only one manuscript, which has several small lacunae.


Bouy 1994, 89–92.


Birch 2014, 415, 434 note 71.


The Yogasārasaṅgraha undoubtedly postdates the Haṭhapradīpikā and the Śivayogapradīpikā. The latter was probably composed in the late fifteenth century. However, the Yogasārasaṅgraha may post-date the Haṭharatnāvalī (seventeenth century), as it shares a verse on bhujaṅgīkaraṇa, a technique that is only taught in the Haṭharatnāvalī (2.31), as far as I am aware (cf. Yogasārasaṅgraha p. 28, lines 4–5). Also, there are other verses on Haṭhayoga that seem to follow the Haṭharatnāvalī rather than the Haṭhapradīpikā (e.g., Yogasārasaṅgraha p. 55, lines 8–14 ≈ Haṭharatnāvalī 2.32–35). The Yogasārasaṅgraha’s terminus ad quem would probably be one of its manuscripts. Several appear to be reported in the New Catalogus Catalogorum (hereafter NCC), but I have not had the opportunity to consult any of them.


These so-called Yoga Upaniṣads are part of a recent recension compiled in South India in the first half of the eighteenth century and commented on by Upaniṣadbrahmayogin (See Bouy 1994). They include the Yogatattvopaniṣat, the Dhyānabindūpaniṣat, the Nādabindūpaniṣat, the Śāṇḍilyopaniṣat, the Yogacūḍāmaṇyupaniṣat, the Yogakuṇḍalinyupaniṣat, the Yogaśikhopaniṣat, the Darśanopaniṣat, the Maṇḍalabrāhmanopaniṣat, the Saubhāgyalakṣmyupaniṣat and the Varāhopaniṣat.


The Rājatarala is a lengthy commentary on the Yogatārāvalī (circa 14th c.) that was composed by Rāmasvāmipaṇḍita, who is described as a worshipper of Śaṅkarācārya’s feet (śrīśaṃkarācāryapādakiṃkara). He cites the Maṇḍalabrāhmaṇopaniṣat (ms. no. 72330, f. 29v), which means that the Rājatarala was composed after the corpus of one hundred and eight Upaniṣads, that is, the mid-eighteenth century (Bouy 1994, 6, 34, etc.). Also, a verse pays homage to a Dakṣiṇāmūrti in the city of Śrīśaila, near Kadalī, which appears to locate the work in Andhra Pradesh (Mahadevan 2018, 68). It is preserved by one undated palm-leaf manuscript (No. 72330) in Telugu script at the Adyar Library and Research Centre, Chennai, and an undated transcript (No. B378) in Devanagari (circa 20th century) at the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore.


According to the final colophon, the Yogasandhyā was composed by Śrīsadāśivanārāyaṇabrahmacāri, whose guru was Śrīmajjagannāthacaitanyabrahmacāri. They belonged to the tradition of the Śṛṅgerīmaṭha. The final verse mentions the date of composition in the bhūtasaṅkhyā system. If the term dharma represents the number eight, it would have been completed in VS 1861 (= 1804 CE), when the sun was in the ninth nakṣatra (tapas) and the moon full. See Yogasandhyā, p. 203 (rākeśarasadharmorvvīsammite vaikrame ’bdake | tapasīne ca rākāyāṃ satkṛtiḥ pūrṇatāmitā). I would like to thank for their comments on this verse Somadeva Vasudeva, Péter Szántó, James Mallinson and, in particular, Chris Minkowski, who suggested that dharma could mean 4, 6 or 8.


The date of the Gorakṣasiddhāntasaṅgraha is not certain, although it post-dates the Siddhasiddhāntapaddhati, which might be as late as the eighteenth century (Mallinson 2014, 170–171).


Śivānanda’s Yogacintāmaṇi, p. 9 (na tatra kiñ cid vedyaṃ saṃprajñāyata ity asaṃprajñātaḥ samādhiḥ | ayaṃ nirbīja iti nirvikalpa iti nirālamba iti rājayogaiti cocyate) and Yuktabhavadeva 1.33 ([…] sa eva nirvikalpaḥ samādhiḥ sadā savikalpakajñānābhāvāt || sa eva ca rājayogaḥ).


This work survives in a single, incomplete manuscript, which is dated Wednesday, 16th November 1715 CE. Yogacintāmaṇi (f. 132v, lines 7–8): saṃvat 1772 varṣe kārttika vadi māvāsyā budhavāsare likhitaṃ.


The Yogacintāmaṇi (f. 131v lines 7–8) of Godāvaramiśra states that he wrote the dvaitadarpaṇa: “Now, they have been explained together by me in the Dvaitadarpaṇa” ([…] asmābhir atha dvaitadarpaṇe yugapadanuvarṇitāḥ […]). However, it seems that atha dvaitadarpaṇe is a scribal error for athādvaitadarpaṇe, because yugapadanuvarṇitāḥ refers back to two works: the Saṅkṣepaśārīrakavārttika, which was composed by his paternal grandfather (pitāmahacaraṇa) and the Advaitacintāmaṇi by his father (pitṛcaraṇa). The NCC (vol. 6, 126) reports that Godāvaramiśra wrote the Advaitadarpaṇa because it is quoted in his Hariharacaturaṅga (p. 178, v. 22; p. 196, v. 502). This is affirmed in a summary of the Hariharacaturaṅga (Meulenbeld 2000, 562–563).


For more information on Godāvaramiśra’s family and works, see the NCC vol. 6, 1971, 126 and Meulenbeld 2000, 562–563.


Yogacintāmaṇi, f. 1v, lines 4–5 (yad vyāsavācaspatibhojadevaiḥ pātañjalīyaṃ niraṇāyi tattvaṃ | anyatra siddhaṃ yad upekṣitaṃ ca tad atra saṅkṣipya nirūpayāmi ||3||) The codex reads upekṣitaṃ, but Gode (1953, 474) transcribes it as apekṣitaṃ. Whether he was tacitly emending upekṣitaṃ to apekṣitaṃ is not clear. He may have emended because the meaning of apekṣita is more consistent with siddha, but it seems possible that upekṣita was intended to contrast with siddha, as I have translated.


One would expect that the Mataṅgapārameśvaratantra is meant by this attribution. However, I have not found the cited verse in the published edition of this tantra. The verse in the Yogacintāmaṇi (f. 3v, lines 5–7) is agniṣṭomādikān yajñān vihāya dvijasattamaḥ yogābhyāsarataḥ śāntaḥ paraṃ brahmādhigacchati || brāhmaṇakṣatriyaviśāṃ strīśūdrāṇāṃ ca pāvanaṃ śāntaye karmaṇām anyad yogān nāsti vimuktaye ||. This verse is found in the Viṣṇudharma (98.016).


The terminus a quo of Śivānanda’s Yogacintāmaṇi is Godāvaramiśra’s Yogacintāmaṇi (see above). The terminus ad quem is 1630 CE, based on two dated manuscripts of the Yogacintāmaṇi. The first is reported in the catalogue of yoga manuscripts by Kaivalyadhama (2005, 226–227), which gives the author (Śivānandasarasvatī), the library (the Asiatic Society in Mumbai), the manuscript number (1083) and the date (VS 1687 = 1630 CE). The second manuscript is held at the Panjab University Library and has been catalogued by the Woolner Project (Ms. no. 6922). After this manuscript’s final colophon, a scribal comment indicates that it was copied by Rāma on the 13th of the month, Kārttika, in Śāka 1552 (i.e., Sunday, 17 November 1630 CE). The possibility that Śivānanda was a resident of Varanasi is supported by a reference to his devotion to Viśveśvara, a standard claim of Śaivas who resided there. I would like to thank Alexis Sanderson for pointing this out to me, and he also noted that similar references to Viśveśvara in works of Śaivas who resided in Varanasi can be found in Jñānaśiva’s Jñānaratnāvalī and Viśvanātha’s Siddhāntaśekhara, which are both Saiddhāntika Paddhatis (personal communication, 24 April 2013).


The Yogacintāmaṇi pp. 281–282 (with verse numbers added for the clarity of the critical apparatus): nididhyāsanam etat tu mayā sādhanasaṃyutam | yathāśāstraṃ yathābodhaṃ saṅkṣepeṇa nirūpitam ||1|| śravaṇaṃ mananaṃ caiva saviśeṣaṃ savistaram | vedānteṣv eva draṣṭavyaṃ noktaṃ vistarabhītitaḥ ||2||| rahasyaṃ rājayogasya haṭhayogasya yat sthitam | prakāśitaṃ mayā sarvaṃ prītaye yoginām iha ||3|| arvācīnair asādhyatvāl likhito na mayā hi saḥ | uddālakabhuśuṇḍādyair haṭhayogas tu yaḥ kṛtaḥ ||4|| kāpālikapraṇītās tu itikartavyatādayaḥ | likhitā na mayā te tu śrutismṛtivirodhinaḥ ||5||

2b saviśeṣaṃ savistaram ] 6922, Ed.; savistaraviśeṣakam 3537. 4a arvācīnair ] 3537, 6922; sadhrīcīnair Ed. 4b asādhyatvāl ] 3537; asādhyatvāt Ed.; asādhyatvān 6922. 4b likhito na mayā hi saḥ ] Ed.; likhitvo na mayā hi saḥ 3537; na likhito hi mayā tu saḥ 6922 (hypermetrical). 5d virodhinaḥ ] 3537, 6922; virodhanāḥ Ed.


The Haṭhapradīpikā (3.96d) contains a verse that points to the Kāpālika origins of amarolī (… kāpālike khaṇḍamate ’marolī). Amarolī and sahajolī are generally considered to be variations of vajrolī (e.g., Dattātreyogayogaśāstra 31 and 158, Haṭhapradīpikā 3.92, etc.).


This commentary is called the Pātañjalīyābhinavabhāṣya and several manuscripts of it are held in the Kathmandu National Archives. The chapter colophons of E 1819-9 and A 554-522 affirm that Bhavadeva was the son of Kṛṣṇadeva and the favourite student (priyaśiṣya) of Ṭhakkuraśrībhavadeva.


This commentary is called the Candrikā, and the NCC (vol. 15, 12) reports that it is by Bhavadeva, who was the son of Sanmiśrasrīkṛṣṇadeva and the disciple of Ṭhakkurabhavadeva.


This commentary is called the Līlā. The NCC (vol. 4, 98) reports that it is by Bhavadeva, son of Kṛṣṇadeva of Mithila and pupil of Bhavadeva Ṭhakkura.


This commentary is called the Vyākhyānaratnamālā. The NCC (vol. 28, 60) reports that it is by Bhavadeva of Mithila, son of Kṛṣṇadeva and disciple of Bhavadeva Ṭhakkura.


Dānadharmaprakriyā was composed by Bhavadevabhaṭṭa, son of Kṛṣṇadevamiśra (NCC vol. 9, 6) at the request of Rudradāsaśreṣṭhin in 1636–1637 CE (NCC, vol. 16, 172). Kane (1930 vol. 1, 560) points out that this work was by Bhavadeva, son of Kṛṣṇadeva of Mithila. In a latter volume (1962, vol. 5, part ii, 28), he attributes the Prāyaścittaprakaraṇa to Bhavadevabhaṭṭa.


The NCC (vol. 32, 64) reports that the Vaiśeṣikaratnamālā was written by Bhavadeva Paṇḍita, son of Kṛṣṇadevamiśra and disciple of Bhavadeva Ṭhakkura. This appears to be based on a sole manuscript at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (123 of 1881–1882).


In its entry on the commentary called the Abhinavabhāṣya on the Śāṇḍilyasūtra or Bhaktimīmāṃsāsūtra (also called the Śatasūtī or Bhaktisūtra), the NCC (vol. 15, 152) reports that this work is found in the manuscript libraries of the Oriental Institute in Baroda, the Prajñā Pāṭhaśālā Maṇḍala at Wai and the Sampūrṇānanda library in Varanasi. The catalogues of the first two do not give any biographic information for Bhavadeva and I have not been able to consult catalogues of the Sampūrṇānanda library (SB New DC XII 44408, 44416. ii. 107900. 107911).


Other works attributed to a Bhavadeva in the NCC (vol. 16, 172) include the Yogasaṅgraha, the Vyāptivāda and commentaries on the Yogadarpaṇa, the Yogabindu, the Raghuvaṃśa (called the Subodhinī) and the Ṣaḍaṅgarudra. Karl Potter’s Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies Bibliography (1983, vol. 1, 475) adds commentaries by a Bhavadeva (dated to 1650) on Bhavānanda’s Kārakacakra, Īśvarakṛṣṇa’s Sāṅkhyakārikā and the Pañcalakṣaṇa section of Gaṅgeśa’s Tattvacintāmaṇi, as well as a work on Nyāya called the Anumānaprakaraṇavyākhyā.


For information on Sundaradeva and his works, see Birch 2018a, 58–61.


Yogacintāmaṇi (ms. no. 220 of 1882–1883) f. 131v.


Yogacintāmaṇi p. 2: “Having bowed to Śrīvyāsa, the ascetic Śaṅkara, the teacher of the world, [my] teacher Śrīrāmacandra, whose lotus feet are intense bliss, and all of the gods of yogins, the ascetic Śivānanda has written clearly the great Yogacintāmaṇi, which had fallen into an ocean of various texts and has the power to explain everything” (śrīvyāsaṃ yatiśaṅkaraṃ bhavaguruṃ śrīrāmacandraṃ guruṃ sāndrānandapadāmbujañ ca nikhilān natvā hi yogīśvarān | nānāgranthapayodhimadhyapatitaṃ śrīyogacintāmaṇiṃ niḥśeṣārthasamarthakaṃ yatiśivānandaḥ karoti sphuṭam ||).


Beyond the texts I have mentioned above, the following literature of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries also integrated haṭhayogic teachings. I mention here only a few examples without detailed references, which will appear in a forthcoming publication. Examples include the Puraścaraṇacandrikā (late-fifteenth century) and the Puraścaraṇārṇava (eighteenth century), two Śaiva ritual compilations that incorporated verses on āsanas, some of which occur only in the Haṭhapradīpikā; the Merutantra, a relatively recent Śaiva work, which mentions Haṭhayoga in relation to prāṇāyāma; Rāmatoṣaṇa Bhaṭṭācārya’s Prāṇatoṣiṇī (1820 CE), which has numerous references to Haṭhayoga; Narāyānatīrtha’s Yogasiddhāntacandrikā, a commentary on the Pātañjala Yogasūtra, which integrates fifteen yogas with Patañjali’s aṣṭāṅga format and defines Haṭhayoga as the auxiliaries of āsana and prāṇāyama; Vijñānabhikṣu’s Sāṅkhyasāra, a philosophical treatise that mentions both Haṭha- and Rājayoga; Narahari’s Bodhasāra, a philosophical compendium that has sections on Mantra-, Laya-, Haṭha- and Rājayoga; the Bhāvanāpuruṣottama, a Sanskrit drama in which a Kāpālika mentions haṭhavidyā as a ladder ascending to Rājayoga (in terms similar to those of the Haṭhapradīpikā); and the Vāsiṣṭhamahārāmāyaṇatātparyaprakāśa, a commentary on the Yogavāsiṣṭha, which mentions both Haṭha- and Rājayoga, etc.


In the mid-nineteenth century, the Mahārāja of Mysore, Mummaḍi Kṛṣṇarāja Woḍeyar III, commissioned a royal compendium called the Śrītattvanidhi, which had a chapter on āsanas that was based on the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati (Birch 2018, 131–132). In the early nineteenth century, the Mahārāja of Marwar had built two temples in Jodhpur (the Mahāmandir and the Udai Mandir) with murals of eighty-four Siddhas in complex āsanas, many of which correspond to those in the Jogapradīpyakā (Bühnemann 2007, 102).


Recent research is starting to reveal more premodern sources of the āsanas adopted by gurus who led the revival of physical yoga in the early twentieth century. For example, Kṛṣṇamācārya was inspired by the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati (Birch and Singleton 2019, 49–64) and Swāmī Śivānanda of Rishikesh borrowed the majority of the āsanas in his book Yoga Asanas (1934) from earlier sources, one of which dates to the mid-nineteenth century (Birch forthcoming).


Verse numbers are cited from this edition.


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Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions

Essays in Honour of Alexis G.J.S. Sanderson



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