About the perfect consciousness of yogis through quotations of the Amanaska-yoga, the Caraka-saṃhitā and the Akulavīra-tantra

Gorakṣanātha in his Amanaska-yoga talks about four states (levels) of mind, two of which are associated with tamas and rajas, fluctuations of the mind. The other two are the state of mind in sattvaguṇa and the state of mind beyond any qualities or complete dissolution of the mind.

1) विश्लिष्टं viśliṣṭa – mind in the state of tamas
2) गतागत gatāgata – mind in the state of rajas
3) सुश्लिष्ट suśliṣṭa – mind in the state of sattva
4) सुलीन sulīna – mind beyond qualities, dissolved into Ātman

In the Caraka-saṃhitā, in the section dedicated to yoga, also emphasised that for yoga it is important to overcome the obscurations associated with guṇas of tamas and rajas:

मोक्षो रजस्तमोऽभावात् बलवत्कर्मसङ्क्षयात् ।
वियोगः सर्वसंयोगैरपुनर्भव उच्यते ॥१।१४२॥

In the liberated state, all desires are destroyed due to the absence of rajas and tamas. Thus, a person is finally and irrevocably freed from the bonds of the phenomenal world, from rebirth.

Below are excerpts from my translation of the Amanaska-yoga by Gorakṣanātha:

चतुर्विधा मनोऽवस्था विज्ञातव्या मनीषिभिः।
विश्लिष्टं च गतायातं सुश्लिष्टं च सुलीनकम् ॥ ९४ ॥

The wise know four states of mind: viśliṣṭa, gatāgata (gatāyata), suśliṣṭa and sulīna.

​​विश्लिष्टं तामसं प्रोक्तं राजसं च गतागतम्।
सुश्लिष्टं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तं सुलीनं गुणवर्जितम् ॥ ९५॥

Viśliṣṭa – tamasic, gatāgata – rajasic, suśliṣṭa – sattvic, sulīna – devoid of qualities.

विश्लिष्टं च गतायातं विकल्पविषयग्रहम् ।
सुश्लिष्टं च सुलीनं च विकल्पविषनाशनम् ॥ ९६ ॥

In viśliṣṭa and gatāgata there is the perception of fictitious objects (vikalpa-viṣaya), in suśliṣṭa and sulīna there is the destruction of the poison of vikalpas.

​ततोऽभ्यासनियोगेन निरालम्बो भवेद यदि।
तदा सरिसभूतानि (समरसभूतः ?) परमानन्द एव सः॥९७ ॥

If through the practice of yoga [a person] becomes independent, then he acquires naturalness and supreme bliss.

​अभ्यस्यतो मनः पूर्व विश्लिष्टं चलमुच्यते।
ततश्च निश्चलं किञ्चित् सानन्दं च गतागतम् ॥ ९८ ॥

During practice, the mind first moves, this state is called viśliṣṭa. Then the mind becomes still at times and filled with bliss – this is gatāgata.

​सानन्दं निश्चलं चेतः ततः सुश्लिष्टमुच्यते।
अतीव निश्चलीभूतं सानन्दं च सुलीनकम् ।। ९९ ॥

When the mind is in blissful stillness, this is suśliṣṭa. When it reaches final stillness and bliss, it is sulīna.

बभूव तस्य कर्माणि पापपुण्यस्य संक्षयः।
प्रयान्ति नैव लिम्पन्ति क्रियमाणानि सानुना ॥ १० ॥

The sinful and good karmas of a righteous ascetic disappear, and no matter what he does, the karmas pass by without staining him.

उत्तुङ्गः सहजानन्दः सदाभ्यासरतः स्वयम्।
सर्वसंकल्पसंत्यक्तः स विद्वान् कर्म संत्यजेत् ॥ १०१ ॥

The sage, permanently immersed in abhyāsa, abiding in the sublime bliss of naturalness and detached from all saṃkalpas, is freed from karma.

The last śloka says that this highest state is called sahajānanda, as it was previously spoken about in the ślokas 20 and 92. The same term is also used by Matsyendranāth in the Akulavīra-tantra, which indicates the importance of sahaja-avasthā among the Nāthas. The Akulavīra-tantra begins as following:

श्रीमच्छन्दपादकेभ्यो नमः ।
श्रीमीनसहजनन्दं स्वकीयाङ्गसमुद्भवम् ।
सर्वमाधारगम्भीरमचलं व्यपकं परम् ।

Salutations to the feet of Śrī Macchanda!
[Bow to] Śrī Mīna [nāth], the Bliss of the sahaja, born from his own body, the Whole, the Deepest Root, the Immovable, the All-pervading, the Supreme!

The fifth makara in tantra practice

I translated a small part of the Experience in Spiritual Practice (साधना के अनुभव), the book by Rameshchandra Sharma. I think this information will be useful for many practitioners to understand the maithuna topic in Tantrism. It is necessary to practice the maithuna ritual when the sexual energy stagnates in the area of the mūlādhāra and svādhiṣṭhāna cakras. When the kuṇḍalinī ascends, the practice with it becomes a form of yoga, which is mainly contemplative. Of course, these boundaries are very relative, however, there is a general principle of connecting the two poles in order to sublimate our vision and energy. Here is the text:

The Fifth of the Five Makaras

In tantric sādhanā, the practice of pañcamakāra is found. Practice with madya (wine), māmsa (meat), etc., it can also be done with their substitutes. In the pañcamakāra, the fifth is associated with the sense-oriented pūjā, which is known as maithuna. In essence it leads to the regulation of the semen. Maithuna is also called “latasādhanā“, it is a special practice for awakening the svādhiṣṭhānacakra.

Often after the awakening of the kuṇḍalinī, when vāyu (energy) rises to the svādhiṣṭhānacakra, kāma (passion), ascending there, begins to transform into what we know as yogasādhanā. Through the identification of a woman with Devī (Goddess) and himself with Śiva, the practitioner leaves the gross states of the physical body, and his spirit and consciousness are directed to the sphere of spiritual consciousness. This often happens when practicing a mantra with prāṇāyāma. The power in the svādhiṣṭhāna or maṇipūracakra begins to intensify and the practitioner through asceticism becomes an ūrdhvareta – one, whose ascending sexual power is sublimated. Near the maṇipūracakra (just below it) in a woman is the womb (garbhāśaya), which is the most important area in their body. 

So, from the svādhiṣṭhānacakra to the maṇipūracakra there is a point of two poles, the connection of the spiritual and the physical. and through the practice of japa you connect these centers in a pure sāttvic state. In a state of full bloom of power, at the beginning of the practice, you use a special method, thanks to which the power increases and moves further in the direction of the anāhatacakra. Mental worship is the essence, thanks to which everything basic happens there.

In the daily pūjā you can invoke the Goddess into a red flower (yellow in the case of Bagalāmukhī), and invoke Śiva in a white flower. Place the flower where the Goddess is on top of the white flower of Śiva, that will be the symbol of viparīta-rati, symbolically connecting Śiva and Śakti.

Aṣṭa mudrā (the Eight Mudras)

This part is an appendix to the Gorakhbani, a text published by the Gorakshanath Mandir, Gorakhpur. The mudras, especially the five of them in the head area, are described in many Nathā texts, their practices are interpreted there in different ways. The ideal option is when the Guru in a live presentation transfers them to his disciple. For example, khecarī here is associated with taste, someone understands this as control of taste, but others understand taste as Śakti and lack of taste as Śiva, their union is khecarī-mudrā. The same applies to other mudrās, because they all require oral transmission, where the Guru (who is, of course, an experienced practitioner and has achieved high success in the practice of “siddhi“) can convey the essence to a worthy student.

अष्ट मुद्रा स्वामीजी अष्ट मुद्रा बोलिए घट भीतरी, ते कौंण कौंण ।
Tell me, Swamiji, what are the eight mudrās inside the body?

अवधू यंद्री मध्ये मूलनी मुद्रा, काम त्रिष्णा ले उतपनी काम । काम त्रिष्णा समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तो भई मूलनी ।।
O avadhu, in the middle of the perineum is the mulanī-mudrā associated with sex (kāma) and greed (tṛṣṇā). The control of kāma and tṛṣṇā is mūlanī-mudrā.

नाभी मधे जलश्री मुद्रा, काल क्रोध ले उतपनी । काल क्रोध समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तौ भई जलश्री॥
There is jalśrī-mudrā in the umbilical centre, time and anger rise there (Kālabhairava or Kālāgnirudra symbol). The control of time and anger is jalśrī-mudrā.

हुदा मधे षिरनी  मुद्रा, ग्यांन दीप ले उतपनी। ग्यांन दीप समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तो भई पोरनी॥
There is ṣirnī  (or kṣīriṇī) in the centre of the heart, there is the perception of the rising light of wisdom. When one’s knowledge shines there, then this wisdom is realised.

मुष मध्ये षेचरी  मुद्रा, स्वाद विस्वाद ले उतपनी। स्वाद विस्वाद समोकृतवा, मुद्रा तो भई षेचरी ।।
In the centre of the mouth is khecarī-mudrā, the manifestation of taste and its absence is perceived there. If there is harmony there between taste and absence (also between pleasant and unpleasant taste), it is khecarī-mudrā.

नासिका मध्ये भूचरी मुद्रा, गंध विगंध ले उतपनी। गन्ध विगन्ध समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तौ भई भूचरी ।।
In the centre of the nose is bhūcarī-mudrā, there we get odour or lack thereof (also pleasant and unpleasant smells). If there is odour control or lack thereof (also pleasant and unpleasant smells), it is bhūcarī-mudrā.

चषि मध्ये चाचरी मुद्रा, दिष्टि विदिष्टि ले उतपनी । दिष्टि विदिष्ट समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तौ भई चाचरी।।
At the centre of the eye is cācārī-mudrā, the perception of what is visible and invisible rises there. If there is harmony and control of the visible and invisible, that is cācārī-mudrā.

करण मध्ये अगोचरी मुद्रा, सबद कुसवद ले उतपनी। सवद कुसबद समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तौ भई अगोचरी।।
There is agocarī-mudrā in the centre of the ears, pleasant and unpleasant speech is manifested there. If there is evenness with regard to pleasant and unpleasant speech, it is agocarī-mudrā.

ब्रहमंड असथांनि उनमनी मुद्रा, परम जोति लै उतपनी। परम जोति समो कुतचा, मुद्रा तो भई उनमनी ।।
In the universe there is unmanī-mudrā (the symbol of the unfolding mind), the Supreme light is manifested there. If this supreme light (consciousness) is evenly distributed everywhere, then it is unmanī-mudrā.

यती अष्ट मुद्रा का जाणै भेव । सौ आपै  करता भेवे ।। इती अष्ट मुद्रा कर्थत श्री  गोरषनाथ  जती संपूर्ण समापत सिवाय ।
One who knows these various mudrās has a higher nature. Thus ends the complete explanation of the eight mudrās by Gorakṣanāth.

Romāvalī (Hairline)

This is one of the texts of Gorakshanath, written in a mixture of Hindi and dialects. For this version I used translations from Hindi. Of course, the text requires special verbal explanations of the meaning of the terms and how they all relate to each other. In such texts there are always a lot of symbolic images often used in meditation – the key focus of yoga. I want to draw your attention to the fact that the terms khecarī, bhūcarī, mahāmudrā are found in a variety of sources and in different contexts. Contrary to popular belief that among the Nāthas khecarī-mudrā is the practice of rolling the tongue back, this text confirms that, as in some tantric systems, in Nātha’s practice it may simply be a form of awareness. The same accounts to mahāmudrā, which isn’t described here as Haṭha-yoga technique of stretching one leg, regulating breathing, etc. The mahāmudrā in Buddhism is one of the highest states of consciousness, in this text the term is used in a very similar context. I used for translation a collection of texts published in the Gorakshanath Mandir in Gorakhpur, in addition to this, there are many other texts where you will find the names of mudrās similar to those found in various tantric traditions and their practices. But this is one of the illustrative examples that helps to expand the idea of ​​seemingly “known practices” among “yoga teachers” in the West. Although in India there is a trend to limit variations of practices because of consumerism. But, the true seekers of the authentic state of yoga avoid the limited state and therefor modern artificial paths. For people who are curios and enthusiastic to expand their knowledge, I have translated this text into English.

रोमावली
Romavali (Hairline)

सत पिता रज मात्ता तम करि गाड़ी पाई,
Sattva is the father, rajas is the mother, tamas – decay.

लोह मास तुचा नाड़ी ये चारि धात माता की वोलिये,
Blood, muscles, skin, and veins are said to belong to the mother.

चीरज हाड गृद्र ये तीनि धात पिता की बोलिये,
Semen, bones, bone marrow, these three are said to belong to the father.

ए सप्त घात का शरीर बोलिये ।
These seven joined together are said to be the body.

द्वै हाथ द्वौ पैर छाती लिलाट घाट अष्टांग जोग बोलिये।
Two arms, two legs, two breasts, a torso, and a head, they are said to be the eightfold yoga.

बंद भेद मुद्रा तीन्यू  साधंति ते सिधा बोलिये ।
Bandha, bhedana (piercing), mudrā (symbol of union), it is said that those who know these three are perfect (siddha).

कौंण बंधि बांधिये, कौंण भेद भेदिये, कौंण मुंद्रा मुंदिये ये बोलिये घट भीतरि । ते कौंण कौंण ।
What bandha (connection) should be connected? What bheda (penetration into the hidden) should be pierced? What mudrā (symbol of the Supreme) should be made a symbol of the Supreme?

मन बन्धि बांदिये पवन भेद भेदिये चिंद मुंद्रा सुंदिये।
The mind is a bandha (connecting), it must be bound (by the Supreme); pavan – the life force penetrating within – must be penetrated (by the Supreme); bindu (the essence of creation) is a symbol of the union mudrā, it must be in a symbolic union.

कौंण विमल बिचारै कौंण षिरे कौंण झरै।
Who is pure, who thinks? Who destroys? Who makes it rain?

मन विमल बिचारै सूरज षिरै चंद्र झरै ।
The mind is that pure one who is the basis of thinking, the Sun – who destroys, and the Moon – who sends rain.

हिंद पीर जिंद पीर ए बोलिये घट भीतरि | ते कौंण कौंण ।
Hindu pir (spiritual father), Muslim pir, they are said to be hidden within the body. Who are they?

हिंद पीर बोलिये मन, जिंद पीर बोलिये पवन ।
The Hindu pir (spiritual father) is said to be the mind, the Muslim spiritual father is said to be the pavan (vital force).

षेचरी भूचरी गुपत प्रगट ।  ते कौंण कौंण  ।
Khecarī (moving in the sky) and Bhūcarī (moving on the earth) are hidden and manifested. Who are they?

षेचरी बोलिये मन, भूचरी बोलिये पवन ।
The mind, it must be said, is Khecarī, and the vital wind is Bhūcarī.

गुपत  बोलिये ग्यांन, प्रगट बोलिये सरीर ।
Knowledge, let’s say, is that which is hidden, and the body is that which is manifested.

सरीरारथ परमारथ, गूढारथ । ते कौंण कौंण ।
The truth of the body, the highest truth of the body, the hidden truth, who are they?

सरीरारथ बोलिये सरीर भेद, परमारथ बोलिये प्रांण भेद, गूढारथ बोलिजै विचार ।
The truth of the body, it must be said, – what is realised within the body. The highest truth – what is realised within prāṇa. The hidden truth – what is in the investigation or vicāra.

चारी पीर बोलिजै घट भीतरि । ते कौंण कौंण ।
Please tell about the four masters within the body. Who are they?

मन मच्छिंद्र नाथ, पवन ईश्वर नाथ, चेतना चौरंगी नाथ, ग्यांन  श्री गोरष नाथ,
Mind is Macchindranāth, vital force is Īśvaranāth, intellect is Caurangīnāth, and wisdom is Gorakṣanāth.

चारी तकबीर बोलिजै घट भीतरि। ते कौंण कौंण ।
Tell about four functions within our psychophysics. What are they?

 दृष्टि कहै क्यूं लीजै दीजै, सुरति कहै क्यूं, बोलिये सुणिये, नासका कहै क्यूं सुगन्ध बास परमालादि लीजै, जिभ्या कहै क्यूं  षाटी मीठी षाइये ।
Vision – which receives and projects; memory – which perceives speech and which allows to speak; nose – which catches aromas; tongue – which takes on pleasant tastes.

चारी दिसा बोलिये धन भीतरी । ते कौंण कौंण ।
Please tell about four sides within the body. What are they?

सबद बोलिये उत्तर, पवन बोलिये पछिम I दृष्टि बोलिये दषिण सुरति बोलिये पूरब ।
Speech “sabad”, I must say – the north; life force – west; south is sight, remembrance is east.

चारि आप कला बोलिये घट मीतरि |  ते कौंण कौंण ।
Please tell about the four manifestations within the body. What are they?

ऊरम धूरम जोति ज्वाला |
This is a wave (of vibrations), smoky or atmospheric substance, light and fire.

ऊरम बोलिये मन, धूरम बोलिये पवन, जोति बोलिये नेत्र, ज्वाला बोलिये श्रवन |
The mind, it must be said, is the wave, the atmospheric substance is the life force,
the light is the eyes, hearing is the fire.

चारि षांणी बोलिजै घट मीतरि । ते कौंण कौंण ।
Tell about four forms within the body (evolutionary memory). What are they?

स्वेतरज अंडरज जेरज उदबीरज।
These are birth from sweat, birth from an egg, birth from a womb, and birth from a seed.

सेतरज बोलिये हाड़, जेरज वोलिये बीरज, अंडरज बोलिये नेत्र, उदबीरज बोलिये रोमावाली ।
Bones, it is said, are born from sweat, semen – from the womb,
eyes – from the egg, and hair – from seed.

चारि बांणीं बोलिये घट मीतरि ।ते कौंण कौंण ।
What are the four kinds of speech within the body?

सहज संजम सुपाइ अतीथ |
This is the one that is innate – “sahaja”; the one that is fully assembled – “saṃyama” (often interpreted as control); the speech that is “svayambhū” – manifested itself (anāhata), and transcendental.

सहज बोलिये सरीर, संजम बोलिये पवन, अतीत बोलिये परम पद ।
महा मुद्रा महां अजाच नग्री महां जोगणी स्वयंभू बोलिये ।
The body should be called “sahaja” (innate), the life force should be called “saṃyama”, the Supreme state should be called transcendental. The great symbol is “mahāmudrā”, the great abode without poverty, the great yogini – “svayambhū”.

जे बांणीं षांणी कौ  बिचारैं  ते निराकार बोलिये, ऊँकार  मधे जोति जांणियै
ऊरम धूरम जोति ज्वाला । भेदौ रवि  का चारयूं  कला ।
Those who meditate on these categories of speech should be called unmanifested. You must know that there is light within Omkara. There is a wave (of vibration), atmosphere, light, and fire. Penetrate the four manifestations of the Sun.

मन करि हस्ती बिमल जल पीवै । द्वै  पष चीन्है  तौ सोलह कला जीवै।
बारह कला सूरज, सोलह कला चंद।
The elephant of mind drinks pure water. Comprehend both poles of life in sixteen manifestations (it is likely said about tithi and two pakṣas). Sun has twelve manifestations and Moon has sixteen.

गुरू जिसका लषावै नहीं चेला तिसका अंध ।
बारह  कला सूरज की, ताकौ  गुण घट भीतरि  ब्यापै । ते कौंण कौंण ।
If the Guru shows nothing, then the disciple is blind. Sun has twelve manifestations and they permeate the body. What are they?

चिंता, तरंग , डयम, माया, परग्रहणै, परपंच , हेत , बुधि ।
काम, क्रोध, लोभ; दृष्टि ये बारह कला सूरज की बोलिये ।
Anxiety (various thoughts), fluctuation, involvement in manifestations, capture by the external, phenomenality, motivation, wakefulness, passion, anger, greed, perception of the visible. These are the twelve aspects of Surya.

सोलह कला चंद्रमा की ताकै  गुण घट भीतरी राषैं | ते कौंण कौंण ।
There are also sixteen manifestations of the Moon, permeating the whole body within. What are they?

सांति, नृवर्त, क्षिमा, नृमल, निहचल, ग्यांन, सरूप, पद,
नृबांण, नृबिष, निरंजन, अहार , निद्रा, मैथुन, बाई, अमृंत 
ये सोलह  कला चन्द्रमा  की बोलिये। 
Peace, detachment from mundane, patience, purity, stability, wisdom, perfect form, perfect state, nirvāṇa (silence of worldly aspirations), fearlessness, spotlessness, satiety, rest (sleep), intercourse, breath, elixir. These are the sixteen aspects of Moon.

ए चारि कला सूरज की साधै तो सोलह कला चंद्रमा की पावै।
Those who are masters of the manifestations of Sun, they will attain the sixteen manifestations of Moon.

एती एक रोमावली ग्रंथ जोग कथितं श्री गोरषनाथ ।
Gorakshanath explained the book on yoga called “Romāvalī” (Hairline).

The Amṛtasiddhi as a Nātha text

Not long ago student of mine sent me a curious article by Kurtis R. Schaeffer The Attainment of immortality: from Nāthas in India to buddhists in Tibet. It is dedicated to a text, which James Mallinson identified as ‘buddhist one’, which is, in my opinion, not quite correct. I also find his another claim, when during an online interview he said that the Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā is the Vīraśaiva text only because Allama Prabhudeva is mentioned there, to be also incorrect. An attempt to take only one name related to Vīraśaivism from a huge number of listed names, ignoring all the others, and attribute the whole text to Vīraśaiva, seems very strange to me. Especially when the text itself is quite distant from the main doctrine of Vīraśaivism and its goals. The same thing is with the text Amṛtasiddhi, a conclusion that this is a Buddhist text is based on the fact that it contains several Buddhist elements, at the same time completely ignoring the huge number of Śaiva elements. This text is more Nātha related, and Virūpakṣanāth (one of the famous Nāthas) could add some elements from Buddhism there. I believe that texts of this kind should be judged primarily by the number of prevailing elements of a particular tradition. And it is obvious there, that the elements of Nāthism are dominant. But for me, even without reading the article, it is clear that the text is not Buddhist, not least because there was the Mahāmudrā practice in Buddhism in those times and it was not in the form of haṭha-yoga practice. All Vajrayāna Buddhists perfectly understand what it is. So what was the point in calling completely different levels of practice in Vajrayāna with the same term? Here is another example from the Amṛtasiddhi:

म्रियन्ते मेरुवेधेन  ब्रह्माद्या देवता ध्रुवम्
आदौ संजायते क्षिप्रं वेधो ऽयं ब्रह्मग्रन्थितः॥

mriyante meruvedhena  brahmādyā devatā dhruvam 
ādau saṃjāyate kṣipraṃ vedho ‘yaṃ brahmagranthitaḥ॥

By piercing Meru (suṣumnā with prāṇa), Brahma and other Gods are getting killed.
First, this (prāṇa) quickly pierces the Brahma-granthi (Brahma knot).

ब्रह्मग्रन्थिं ततो भित्त्वा विष्णुग्रन्थिं भिनत्यसौ
विष्णुग्रन्थिं ततो भित्त्वा रुद्रग्रन्थिं भिनत्यसौ ॥

brahmagranthiṃ tato bhittvā viṣṇugranthiṃ bhinatyasau
viṣṇugranthiṃ tato bhittvā rudragranthiṃ bhinatyasau॥

Thus, when the Brahma-granthi is pierced, the Viṣṇu-granthi (Viṣṇu knot) is pierced.
When the Viṣṇu-granthi is pierced, the Rudra-granthi (Rudra knot) is pierced.

रुद्रग्रन्थिं ततो भित्त्वा छित्वा मोहमयीं लताम्
उद् घाटयत्ययं  वायुर्ब्रह्मद्वारं सुगोपितम् ॥

rudragranthiṃ tato bhittvā chitvā mohamayīṃ latām 
ud ghāṭayatyayaṃ  vāyurbrahmadvāraṃ sugopitam ॥

Thus, piercing the Rudra-granthi, the “vines of illusion” (the intricacies of Māyā) are getting cut off. Further, ascending upward, Vāyu (air) penetrates into the super secret, Brahmadvāra (the door of Brahma).

The question is, what is so ‘Buddhist’ in these images of Purāṇic Devatās, and where in Buddhism such names of granthas are being mentioned?

There are also many other arguments in the article, for example, mentions of jīvanmukti, when a practitioner is likened to Śiva in yogic realisation etc. That is why I consider the statement of attribution of the text to Buddhism to be incorrect. Of course, some borrowings could come to Indian yoga or tantra from Buddhism, but we also have to consider the main goals of different sampradāyas. For instance, we cannot call Pancharātra ‘a yogic tradition’, if it is in fact a Vaiṣṇava bhakti oriented sect full of its specific karmakāṇḍa etc. If I take, let’s say, Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini-yoga and claim that it belongs to a Sikh tradition, it will be an incorrect statement. Even if you find a Sikh lineage Sant Mat, where meditation on light and sound is practiced, it doesn’t make it the main practice of the whole tradition. And again, we cannot conclude from this that it is the rationale for what Yogi Bhajan developed while living in California. Just as it is not entirely accurate to say that the Ashtanga Vinyasa style is a ‘tradition’, it is more correct to say that it is rather a modern yoga style. It could be called a tradition being spread in the West on the condition Iyengar or Pattabhi Jois would have transmitted the same sacred threads (janeū), which they had from their Gurus – to their students. Which didn’t happen, and most likely couldn’t have happened. But, if this did happen, I doubt that such disciples would have the same discipline and practice that they exercise on masse today. And although these teachers were good innovators, we should not confuse a style and gymnastic exercises with dīkṣā, discipleship, nitya sādhanā and etc. For those who want to seriously understand these things, I highly recommend taking these factors into account, although there are actually a lot of them.

The role of suṣumṇā in the mantra realisation

Looking through the Bengali text, the Bṛhattantrasāra, written by Guru Kṛṣṇānandāgamavāgīśa, I found an interesting point regarding the mantra practice, where the Gautamīya-tantra is quoted. We know that there is a classical practice of puraścaraṇa in the form of japa, homatarpaṇamārjana and brāhmaṇa bhojana. However, it speaks of a certain “exception”, which, in my opinion, is a transitional moment of sādhanā, “joining” in itself the goals of vāmācāra and yoga of the Nāthas (vajrolī). I decided to share this piece of text with you, maybe it will give someone an additional understanding of the tantra and Nātha yoga practice.

गौतमीये
पशुभावे स्थिता मन्त्राः प्रोक्ता वर्णास्तु  केवलाः 
सौषुम्ने  ध्वन्युच्चरिता  प्रभुत्वं प्राप्नुवन्ति ते
मन्त्राक्षराणि चिच्छक्तौ प्रोतानि परिभावयेत्
तामेव परमव्योम्नि परमामृतबृंहिते
दर्शयत्यात्मसद्भावं पूजाहोमादिभिर्व्विनेति
मूलमन्त्रं प्राणबुद्ध्या सुषुम्नामूलदेशके
मन्त्रार्थं तस्य चैतन्यं जीवं ध्यात्वा पुनः पुनः

In the Gautamīya Tantra:

The mantras practiced in the paśu bhava are recited only at the letter level. The Suṣumṇā-related, practiced sounds are overflowing with power. During jāpa, the mantrāksharas should be fully connected to the power of consciousness. That (mantra) in the highest space is nourished by the highest bliss. Pūjā, homa and etc. are not required for this type of practice, practice the main mantra* through the power of consciousness in the root area (the base) of suṣumṇā (genitals). Practice meditation over and over again with that mantra essence, the consciousness of a living being.

Mūlamantra (the root mantra) is the main mantra of a Deity. For example, Śiva’s mantra is oṃ namaḥ śivāya, Gaṇeśa’s mantra is oṃ gaṃ gaṇapataye namaḥ, etc.

Why do the texts say that paścimottānāsana activates suṣumṇā and awakens the kuṇḍalinī?

It so happened in India, that spiritual practices are most often performed facing east. Accordingly, the west (conditionally) is our back, the south is the right and hot side and the north is left and cold. The Sun is associated with vital power, it rises in the east and sets (i.e. disappears) in the west. We fall asleep at sunset and our senses become silent, and they turn on at sunrise. We can see basically everything that is in front of us, on the sides, below and even sometimes from above, but we cannot see our back. We can only feel it, while there should be an inversion element, i.e. direction inward, listening to our sensations inside. The west is a symbol of the extinction of activities, the completeness of them, so it is suṣumṇā. It is also no coincidence that one of the well-known traditions, where kuṇḍalinī is worshiped in the form of the Goddess Kubjikā, is called paśchimāmnayā – the Western Doctrine. Paśchima – from paścāt (behind, the last, completed, western), therefore it is a symbol of suṣumṇā, self-absorption. Thus, paścimottānāsana is focused specifically on the direction of attention and the prāṇa in suṣumṇā along with it. This āsana is also focused on the conscious activation of suṣumṇā with pratyāhāra and the awakening of the kuṇḍalinī power.

Vajrolī in Buddhism and Indian traditions

Recently, one of my students asked me a question, “Is it true that there is semen retention in Vajrayana (in the practice of karmamudrā of the Completion stage), but is it not so in Indian tantras?”

First of all, I think that it is wrong to sacrifice a human nature to religious corporations, dividing it into Tibetan and Indian one. There is a tendency to think that if you are a Tibetan, you can retain semen, and if you are an Indian, the practice must necessarily be different. The  retention  of ejaculation in the practice of maithuna or karmamudrā is an allegory. In Indian kaulācāra, this kind of practices implies ejaculation, as an analogue of pūrṇāhuti in agnihotra. After which, this substance is mixed with wine and then used in pūjā. There is a lot of evidences of that fact, for example, in the Guhyasamāja-tantra:

विण्मूत्रशुक्ररक्तादीन् देवतानां निवेदयेत्।
एवं तुष्यन्ति सम्बुद्धाः बोधिसत्त्वा महाशयाः॥२१॥

viṇmūtraśukraraktādīn devatānāṃ nivedayet।
evaṃ tuṣyanti sambuddhāḥ bodhisattvā mahāśayāḥ ॥21॥

It is necessary to offer the secretion: urine, semen, female bodily fluids and offer them to the Deities. Thus, it will satisfy the great awakened ones, buddhas and bodhisattvas.

Prior to that, there is a recommendation to practice intercourse with a beautiful young woman. In order, for example, to offer semen in pūjā, it is obvious that there must be present a finalised ritual of maithuna. And there is quite a bit of such recommendations in Vajrayana. These kinds of transgressions in Vajrayana, which seems to be full of  savagery to the common man, in fact, are not much different from saptamakaras in aghora, which took a lot from traditions like kāpālikas.

If you read a description of vajrolī or amarolī in the Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā, you will see that there is a recommendation to mix the released semen with ash and apply it as a tilaka. That is, it means that ash is a symbol of amṛta, as well as semen. It says of the same principles as in the description from the Guhyasamāja-tantra and other Buddhist texts. Here is a very similar fragment from the Yoni-tantra:

भक्त्या द्रव्यं जपेन्मन्त्रं जप्त्वा मैथुनमाचरेत् शु्क्तोत्सरणकाले च शृ्णु पार्वति सुन्दरि
योनितत्त्वं समादाय तिलकं क्रियते यदि शतजन्मावर्ज्जितं पापं तत्क्षणादेव नश्यति ॥20-21॥

bhaktyā dravyaṃ japenmantraṃ japtvā maithunamācaret 
śuktotsaraṇakāle ca śṛṇu pārvati sundari
yonitattvaṃ samādāya tilakaṃ kriyate yadi
śatajanmāvarjjitaṃ pāpaṃ tatkṣaṇādeva naśyati ॥20-21॥

The sādhaka should chant the mantra and enjoy the ‘substances’ during the practice of maithuna. Listen, beautiful Parvatī, if a sādhaka makes himself a tilaka with ‘yoni fluids’ after an orgasm, then he will instantly forsake all the sins associated with a hundred births. (20-21)

The requirement given here is very similar to the one from the Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā. Probably, the goal here is not to retain semen so that there is no ejaculation at all. If the process is contemplative, then such a suspension or extension of the act occurs naturally. And the practitioner accomplishes that not by themselves and not because their ego wants it, like they can feed it by being ‘good technicians’. Here, the Goddess also controls the process through you. And the prolongation of the act is needed more in order to satisfy the Goddess in a woman, so she will bestow siddhi through her satisfaction. And at the end of the ritual, pūrṇāhuti is being done in the form of an orgasm. A prolongation of the act may occur due to the desire to satisfy the Divine. But not at all in order to demonstrate some kind of  ‘athletic abilities’ to stretch time, in which many people mistakenly believe. Each practice has a main task that must not be forgotten, otherwise it loses its true purpose and value, no matter how exclusive the technique may look. As we can see, ūrdhvaretā could be understood as  retracting substances back, but that is not by drawing them back into the genitals. That could be, for instance, the communion in the form of tilaka (as ūrdhva is the head area), and so on. And the most important thing is what happens on a psychic level, psychic vibes are significant. For a yogin who understands the essence of this practice, the physical side may be less relevant. They can perceive the sexual energy of life and flowering in their essence. Therefore, for some, a yogic practice is simply the essence of such ceremonies, even without their external implementation.

Four aspects of the Laya process

इन्द्रियाणां मनो नाथो मनोनाथस्तु मारुत:।
मारुतस्य लयो नाथ: स लयो नादमाश्रित: ।। ॥ २ ९॥

indriyāṇāṁ mano nātho manonāthastu mārutaḥ |
mārutasya layo nāthaḥ sa layo nādamāśritaḥ || 29 ||

1) The mind (manaḥ) is the lord (nāthaḥ) of the senses (indriyāṇām).
2) Also (tu) vital force (mārutaḥ) is the lord (nāthaḥ) of the mind (manaḥ).
3) Dissolution (layaḥ) is the lord (nāthaḥ) of air (mārutasya).
4) And that (sa) depends (āśritaḥ) on resonance (nādam). (Haṭhayogapradīpikā 4.29)

Elements of yoga in Tantras

Despite the fact that some traditions criticise methods of other sampradāya, sometimes it happens, however, that they themselves utilise them. For example, Abhinavagupta and others criticised Patañjali’s methods. Even though you can often come across the usage of methods of yoga in Kaśmir Śaivism and other tantric traditions, they are actually considered there as an integral part of tantra. In the same way as tantra, they are supporting elements on the path of yoga. I can cite a simple example of such quotations from the description of several techniques from Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra (VBT), which were commented by Śivopadhyaya. In one part, he explains a method from VBT quoting Patañjali, and in another he quotes Viveka-mārtaṇḍa of Gorakśanāth.

सर्वस्रोतोनिबन्धेन प्राणशक्त्योर्ध्वया शनैः |
पिपीलस्पर्शवेलायाम् प्रथते परमं सुखम् || ६७ ||

sarvasrotonibandhena prāṇaśaktyordhvayā śanaiḥ |
pipīlasparśavelāyām prathate paramaṁ sukham || 67 ||

By blocking all channels (jñānendriyas), the force of prāṇa slowly goes upwards. Then there is a sensation like the motion of an ant, and it comes the highest state of euphoria.

First of all, it is clear that it is a description of yoni-mudrā (or ṣaṇmukhi-mudrā). Also, there is an interesting description of kuṇḍalinī movement, which is characterised as pipīlikā-calana (like the motion of an ant) in Nātha texts. That could often be found in Nātha texts in the description of Śakti uprising, in addition to some other motions like vihaṅgama (bird), sarpa (snake) etc. Furthermore, Śivopadhyaya, in his comments to this technique quotes Patañjali, where he defines prāṇāyāma.

.बाह्याभ्यन्तरस्तम्भवृित्तः देशकालसङ्ख्यािभः पिरदृष्टो दीघर्सूक्ष्मः॥५०॥

bāhyābhyantarastambhavṛttirdeśakālasaṅkhyābhiḥ paridṛṣṭo dīrghasūkṣmaḥ 50

The fluctuations of prāṇa could be outward and inward (exhales and inhales), it could also come to a standstill (of breathing). It should be observed, that this process would be elongating, subtle, happens according to time, place and quantity.

Also, Śivopadhyaya cites sutra 49, where Patañjali defines prāṇāyāma as a cessation (vicchedaḥ) of inhales and exhales (śvāsapraśvāsa). Although the term ‘viccheda’ could indeed be translated like that, I would define it in other way. It could also mean ‘cutting off’, like something that is no longer needed ‘comes off’. If the goal of prāṇāyāma is calming of consciousness and prāṇa (with which it’s connected), than it is exactly ‘cutting off’ prāṇavṛtti and cittavṛtti. But, it is actually happening in a natural way with the involvement in the process of proper contemplation. Consciousness, being agitated by the sensual experience is unable to calm down, it is fragmented. Only when the practise enables an involvement in higher orientations and higher dimension, it subsides and everything in excess ‘comes off’, ‘cuts off’ by itself. It happens as at the level of sensual perception, as well as of prāṇa and mind.

Equally interesting explanation of the quotation from the Viveka-mārtaṇḍa, also the Bhagavadgītā appears in the description of a technique from VBT in the other part of the text:

मध्यजिह्वे स्फारितास्ये मध्ये निक्षिप्य चेतनाम् |
होच्चारं मनसा कुर्वंस् ततः शान्ते प्रलीयते || ८१ ||

madhyajihve sphāritāsye madhye nikṣipya cetanām |
hoccāraṁ manasā kurvaṁs tataḥ śānte pralīyate || 81 ||

With the middle of the tongue (it is the tip, if you look at it from the particular angle), pointed in the centre of something that is widely open (the head area – ‘ākāśa’), you should mentally recite the uprising sound ‘ha’, dissolving your mind in calm.

Śivopadhyaya quotes this śloka:

कपालकुहरे जिह्वा प्रविष्टा विपरीतगा|भ्रुवोरन्तर्गता दृष्टिर्मुद्रा भवति खेचरी ॥

kapālakuhare jihvā praviṣṭā viparītagā|bhruvorantargatā dṛṣṭirmudrā bhavati khecarī

When the tongue points backwards and enters the cavity of skull, and the look is directed between the eyebrows – it is khecarī-mudrā.

Śivopadhyaya points out that it is from the Viveka-mārtaṇḍa (68), although you can come across it in many texts – it seems that many authors have copied it from Gorakśanāth. You can see it in the Dhyānabindu Upaniṣad, the Yogacūḍāmaṇi Upaniṣad, in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, the Gheraṇḍa Saṁhitā etc. It’s quite obvious that Śivopadhyaya implies khecarī-mudrā, which is known in haṭhayoga in particular, in spite of the fact that in Kaśmir Śaivism it is also known as the practise performed inside consciousness. It is clear, that in India, some masters could claim that practises from different traditions cannot be mixed, but other gurus boldly mixes them and see their interconnection. I incline towards the latter approach. It is interesting that Śivopadhyaya quotes śloka from the Bhagavadgītā while commenting this śloka from VBT:

स्पशार्न्कृत्वा बिहबार्ह्यांश्चक्षुश्चैवान्तरे भ्रुवोः।
प्राणापानौ समौ कृत्वा नासाभ्यन्तरचािरणौ ।।५.२७।।

sparśānkṛtvā bahirbāhyāṃścakṣuścaivāntare bhruvoḥ
prāṇāpānau samau kṛtvā nāsābhyantaracāriṇau ।। 5.27।।

Leaving with external (world) the tangency (of consciousness), concentrating the look between the eyebrows, a yogin balances prāṇa and apāna.

This technique is known in haṭhayoga as bhrūmadhyadṛṣṭi or śāmbhavī-mudrā. It is for a reason, that it is often associated with sādhana of khecarīmudrā. However, in Kaśmir Śaivism, this practise means the way to achieve pratimilanasamādhi, or bhairavīmudrā (the union of internal and external spaces), that is often acquired through the practise of maithuna in kaula ritual. Then in accord with the Tantrāloka and the Mahārtha Mañjarī (the text which is connected with Gorakśanāth according to nāthas), the sound ‘ha’, which is made during mahākśobha (orgasm) – is the sound of anāhata, which dissolves (laya) the mind. However, it is more likely that in this practise it is implied ‘the internal coition’ of Kuṇḍalinī Śakti, upraised to Śiva in sahasrāra cakra, where Śakti was released in the space above the crown of the head.

All these methods, actually, could become the one unified process for those who don’t stuck in modern yoga, where everything is being ‘divided’,everyone ‘comes up with something new’ because of the obsession with markets and trade concepts.