Haṭhayogapradīpikā – A Compact Treatise on Haṭhayoga

Jayaraman Mahadevan

An overview



Pradīpikā means a bright light. Haṭhayogapradīpikā means a bright light on Haṭhayoga. Among the various treatises Haṭhayoga – Haṭhayogapradīpika by Svātmārāma is respected, accepted and studied widely for its compact and the same time comprehensive approach to all aspects of Haṭhayoga. A popular Sanskrit commentary that throws light on subtle aspects of Haṭhayogapradīpika is  Jyotsnā commentary by Brahmānanda (19th Cent CE).

The author of Haṭhayogapradīpikā is variously called as Svātmārāma or cintāmaṇi or ātmārāma. He is known to be the Son of sahajānanda yogīndra

There are Four chapter in the text – Haṭhayogapradīpikā. There are about 389 verses in the entire treatise. The chapters and the distribution of the verses are as follows – 

  1. Āsanas and other prerequisites for Yoga – 67
  2. Prāṇāyāma – 78
  3. Mudrās  – 130
  4. Samādhi- Nādānusandhāna – 114

As can be seen above the four chapters indicated the four limbs of the Haṭhayoga – namely Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Mudrās and Nādānusandhāna. It is to be noted that the first three are the means that facilitate the practice of the last limb – Samādhi – that is also termed as Rājayoga in this treatise. There too, the practice of Nādānusandhāna has been preferred in this text towards attainment of Samādhi.

Chapter – 1

The first chapter of Haṭhayogapradīpikā can be seen in the three parts –

  1. Part 1 – 1-16      =  16 Verses – invocation, prerequisites for Yoga
  2. Part 2  – 17-54    =  38 Verses – āsanas – definitions and benefits (15)
  3. Part 3  – 55-67    =  13 Verses – dietary and other lifestyle prescriptions

Fifteen Āsanas are presented herein. The Āsanas and the respective verse numbers in which they are enumerated are given below – 

  1. Svastikāsana (19)
  2. Gomukhāsana (20)
  3. Vīrāsana  (21)
  4. Kūrmāsana (22)
  5. Kukkuṭāsana ( 23)                                       
  6. Uttānakūrmakāsana (24)
  7. Dhanurāsana (25)
  8. Matsyendrāsana (26,27)
  9. Paścimatānāsana (28,29)
  10. Mayūrāsana (Hand balance) (30,31)
  11. Śavāsana (32)                                   
  12. Siddhāsana – 5 Variations  (35-43)
  13. Padmāsana – 3 Variations (44-49)
  14. Siṃhāsana (50-52)  
  15. Bhadrāsana     (53,54)

Āsanas 1-11 are presented as one set and Āsanas 12-15 are presented as another set in the text. The second set is stated to be very important.(1.33) Even among the second set of Āsanas – 12th Āsanas – Siddhāsana is glorified as the greatest among the Āsanas(1.34). It is to be noted that – nomenclature and method of performing of Āsanas 1-7 is given. Nomenclature method of performing and also benefits are given for Āsanas 8-15.  The types of Āsanas given here in are – seated postures (1-9, 12-15), Āsanas that are Commenced from a kneeling postion (10) and Lying postures (11). It is also to be noted that, five variations of Siddhāsana and three variations of Padamāsana can be seen from the text and commentary.

Chapter – 2

The contents of the second chapter can be seen in five parts. They are as follows –  

  1. Need  of prāṇāyāma –  verses 1-3
  2. nāḍīśodhana  – verses 4-20
  3. Ṣaṭkarmas (neti, vasti, dhauti, nauli, kapālabhāti, trāṭaka) and Gajakarani – verses 21- 38
  4. Importance of Prāṇāyāma and Aṣṭakumbhakas – verses 39-70
  5. Classification of Prāṇāyāma and  Indicators of  Success in haṭha  – verses 71-78

The eight Prāṇāyāma practices that are called as Aṣṭakumbhakas, which are core to this chapter, are stated, with their nomenclature, technique of practice and benefits (44- 70). This can be called as the core part of this chapter[1].  The eight Kumbhaka practices are –

  1. sūryabhedana,
  2. ujjāyī,
  3. sītkārī,
  4. śītalī,
  5. bhastrikā,
  6. bhrāmarī,
  7. mūrchā,
  8. plāvinī

Chapter – 3

The chapter can be seen in two divisions –

1) About awakening of Kuṇḍalinī – verses 1-5

2) Ten Mudrā-s – verses 6-130 (the list, details and benefits)

The Ten Mudrās are enlisted and elaborated with their benefits in this section. The ten Mudrās are prescribed for the awakening of the Kuṇḍalinī. When Kuṇḍalinī awakens, the path of Suṣumnā that It was blocking thus far, is unblocked. This facilitates the flow of Prāṇa into Suṣumnā. It is also stated that these practices are directly given by Ādinātha and are to be protected secretly (6-9). The ten Mudrās that are elaborated systematically in the treatise are – 

  1. Mahāmudrā (10-18)
  2. Mahābandha (19-25)
  3. Mahāvedha (26- 31)
  4. Khecarī (32-54)
  5. uḍyāna-bandha (55-60)
  6. mūlabandha (61-69)
  7. jālandharabandha (70-76)
  8. viparīta-karaṇī (77-82)
  9. vajorlī/sahajoil/amaroli (83-103)
  10. śakticālana (104-126)

Chapter – 4

The fourth chapter can be seen in four divisions. They are as follows –

  1. samādhi – 1 – 33
  2. Laya practices 29-64
  3. Nādānusandhāna (NAS) Laya Yoga – verses 65 – 102
  4. Concluding verses and advice-  verses 103-114 

As can be seen, the Haṭhayoga practices that lead to the state of Rājayoga (Samādhi) have been stated in three prior chapters. Method to attain Rājayoga is stated in this chapter in the form of Nādānusandhāna – a Laya practice.

The central portion of the chapter elaborates upon Nādānusandhāna, the chief and best among the laya practices. This is a Manolaya practice (a state where the mind gets absorbed into the object of meditation). It is stated, that even those aspirants who cannot attain philosophical clarity intellectually (aśakyatattvabodha), can practice Nādānusandhāna. (65-67). Two types of Nādānusandhāna practices are presented in this text. The first type is in four stages  Arambha (commence), Ghata (consolidate), Paricaya (intro to higher stages), Nishpatti (reaching the goal). Here a Yogin is expected to sit in Muktāsana assuming the śāmbhavīmudrā and start focusing on the Nāda manifesting in the right ear with a focused mind.  As the mind is focused, the Yogin experiences the aforementioned four stages where sounds of varying nature is heard at four various beginning from Anāhatacakra to Brahmarandhra.(68-81).

The second type of Nādānusandhāna, according to Jyotnsā commentary is stated through the principle of Pratyāhāra – implying moving from grosser sounds to subtler and refined sounds. Three stages of focusing on Nādas are presented. No specific place of focus is mentioned. The three stages are –

a) Ocean, cloud, kettle drum – Initially,

b) then – conch, bell and horn

c) And finally,  Flute, vina and buzzing sound of the bees.(82- 89).

The next set of verses speak about how the mind is captivated by this practice of Nādānusandhāna using examples from the nature like – bee, elephant, deer, horse and serpent. Finally it is stated that as the fire gets extinguished when the fuel is exhausted, similarly the mind that is captivated in Nāda gets dissolved when Nāda dies down by Paravairagya (90-102)

This in short is the overview of Haṭhayogapradīpikā which is an integral part of Yoga teaching and learning in contemporary times.


  1. Raja, Kunjunni,k, Ed. (2000), Reprint, Haṭhayogapradīpikā of svātmārāma with commentary Jyotsnā of Brahmānanda and English Translation, The Adyar Library and Research Centre, Chennai
  2.  Larson, Gerald James & Bhattacharya, Ramshankar, Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume XII, Yoga: India’s Philosophy of Meditation, Motilal Banarsidas Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, Reprint 2016.
  3. https://kymyogavaisharadi.org/ A searchable web repository of Classical Yoga Literature (includes Haṭhayogapradīpikā and jyotsnā commentary)
  4. Jayaraman Mahadevan, (2018) Nādānusandhāna – An overview of a Haṭhayogic Practice, , Darsanam Journal, pp.23-28

[1] In the Jyotsna Commentary to Verse 48, the ideal/beneficial daily routine for the practitioner of Hatha is described

Yogasūtras & its Saṃskṛta Commentaries – An Overview

Jayaraman Mahadevan

The Yogasūtras

The Yogasūtras are the foundational text on Yoga, Vedic mind science, written by Sage Patañjali. It is placed around 4th century CE.  Tradition has it that, Sage Patañjali also has contributed to refinement of speech through a work on Grammar (Mahābhāṣya), a work on Āyurveda (not identified with certainty) to refine and heal the body.

The text is in the form of Sūtras or short insightful statements that have various shades of meanings but convey thoughts in a very organized and compact manner. There are 195 Sūtras in this text.(The number of Sūtras may slightly vary depending upon splitting of certain Sūtras)

The definition of Yoga in this text appears in the second Sūtra of the text – yogaḥ cittavṛttinirodhaḥ – Yoga is the restraint of activities of the mind. According to this Sūtra, to be established in one’s true conscious nature it is essential that the activities of the mind are regulated/restrained initially and gradually completely made to cease. All the practices of Yoga in this text are prescribed towards this end. 

There are four chapters which are called as Padas (one fourth). The four Padas are – Samādhi-pāda , Sādhana-pāda , Vibhūti-pāda  and Kaivalya-pāda.


This chapter has 51 Sūtras. As the very nomenclature suggests, the major content of the chapter is about the States of Samadhi. The content of the chapter can be seen in seven parts –

  1. Commencement of the text, definition of Yoga (citta-vrtti-nirodha/Samadhi) – Sūtras 1-4
  2. 5 Citta-Vṛttis (activities of the mind) & Abhyasa (effort) and Vairagya (detachment) for citta-vrtti-nirodha – Sūtras 5-16
  3. Samprajnata &  Asamprajnata divisions of Samadhi (vritti-nirodha) – Sūtras 17-22
  4. īśvarapraṇidhāna (devotion to divinity), 9 obstacles in the path of Yoga, Ekatattvabhyasa (single pointed effort) – Sūtras 23-32
  5. 7 Methods for ekagrata (one-pointedness) for samprajñāta-sāmadhi – Sūtras 33-40
  6. Sabīja-samādhi(includes the states of manifestation of world based on Gunas)  – Sūtras 41-46
  7. Nirbīja-samādhi – Sūtras 47-51


The second chapter has 55 Sūtras. As the very name suggests – this chapter predominantly describes about the Sadhanas – the methods to realize the goal of Yoga – Citta-vritti-nirodha. The content of this chapter can be seen in six units –

  1. Kriyā-yoga and its outcome (weakening of Kleśas/afflictions) – Sūtras 1-2
  2. Five Kleśas  and methods to overcome them – Sūtras 3-11
  3. Concepts connected to Kleśas – Karmāśaya  (store of Kārmic effects), Vipāka (manifestation of effects of Karma),  duḥkha (suffering) – Sūtras 12-15
  4. Caturvyūha to overcome duḥkha (four fold arrangement – Heya (suffering), Heyahetu (cause of suffering), Hāna (state of freedom from suffering) and Upāya(methods to overcome suffering) – also discussed are draṣṭā (consciousness), dṛśya (matter)  – Sūtras 16 -26
  5. Vivekakhyāti (clarity of distinctness of Matter and consciousness -hānopāya) and Aṣṭāṅgayoga for Vivekakhyāti – Sūtras 27-28
  6. The first Five limbs (bahiraṅga – external/preparatory steps to attain goal of Yoga) – Yama, Niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma and pratyāhāra (definition, technique of practice and intermediate outcomes) – Sūtras 29-55


This chapter contains 55 Sūtras. Vibhūti or Siddhis refers to powers. This chapter details about the attainment of attainment of extrasensory powers and knowledge resulting out of practice of Yoga.  The chapter can be seen in six units

  1. Definition of last three limbs of Aṣṭāṅgayoga – dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi – Sūtras 1-3
  2. Template for Siddhis – Saṃyama, Clarity and Application – Sūtras 4-6,
  3. Relative position of the Eight limbs – Sūtras 7-8
  4. 3 citta-pariṇāma-s (changes in the citta) and 3 bhūtendriyapariṇāma-s (Changes in the five elements and the Senses) – Sūtras 9  –13
  5. Abiding substratum-Dharmī (among the changing entities), process (Krama) – 14-15
  6. Siddhis – 16 –48  – Warning about siddhis (37)
  7. Jñāna-śakti –Supra-mental-sensory /knowledge powers – Sūtras [16 -20], [22], [25-29] [32 -36], [41]
  8. Kriyā-śakti –Supra-physiological/action powers (body) – Sūtras [21],[23,24], [30-31], [38 -40], [42-48]
  9. Kaivalya (Liberation) and associated Siddhis – Sūtras [49-55]


 This chapter contains 34 Sūtras. Kaivalya is the ultimate state described in the Yoga system of philosophy. This is an eternal state where the Puruṣa (pure consciousness) is alone – free from the influences Prakṛti (matter). This chapter can be seen in four divisions –

  1. Five ways to attain Powers-siddhi-pañcakam –1-7 (certain clarifications)
  2. About -vāsanās –8 -11
  3. Refutation of Buddhist views on Mind, Consciousness and world, clarification on Nature of citta and puruṣa 12 -24
  4. Description of a Mind heading towards kaivalya and attainment of Kaivalya, Dharmamegha Samādhi (highest state of Samādhi), Pratiprasava (rolling back of the material world and the citta into Prakṛti) –25-34

The commentaries of Yogasūtras

The commentary literature lore of Yogasūtras is very rich. There is an unbroken succession of commentaries till date since it is composition of Yogasūtras. About 28 Saṃskṛta commentaries have thus far been documented. The commentary literature of Yogasūtras can be seen in two divisions

1) Vyāsa-bhāṣya , its sub-commentaries

2) independent/Direct commentaries

Vyāsa-bhāṣya , its sub commentaries & glosses

Vyāsa’s commentary is considered the closest to the period of Yogasūtras (3rd or 4th Century CE) and hence it is respected as primary commentary. There are four known sub-commentaries to Vyāsa’s commentary to Yogasūtra.

  1. Tattvavaiśāradī of Vācaspati Miśra (9th or 10th century)
  2. Vivaraṇa of Śaṅkara (13th Century – not settled with finality)
  3. Vārttika of Vijñānabhikṣu (15th Century)
  4. Bhāsvatī of Hariharānanda Āraṇya (19th century) (Apart from this work (Hariharānanda Araṇya also has written a text called Yoga Kārikā – which is a versified presentation of Patañjali Yogasūtras)

Apart from this, two commentaries to the Tattvavaiśāradī exist –

  • Pātañjalarahasya by Rāghavānanda sarasvatī (1550-1600 CE)  and
  • A vritti by Balarāma Udāsīna (1890).

Independent/Direct Commentaries:

The second category of Commentaries to Yogasūtras in Saṃskṛta is direct commentaries on Yogasūtras. They are as follows – 

  1. Rājamārtāṇḍa by Bhojadeva (1000 CE)
  2. Maṇiprabhā by Rāmānanda yati (1550-1600 CE)
  3. Pradīpikā by Bhāvagaṇeśa (1600 – 1700 CE)
  4. Yogasiddhāntacandrikā and Sutrārthabodhinī by Nārāyaṇatīrtha (1700-1750 CE) (2)
  5. Brhad Vṛtti and Laghu Vritti by Nāgojibhaṭṭa (1700 – 1750 CE) (2)
  6. Yogasudhākara by sadaśivendra sarasvatī (1700-1800 CE)
  7. Yogacandrikā anantadevapaṇḍita (1800 – 1900 CE)

In the 20th Century alone many Saṃskṛta commentaries were written. They include –

1. Vaidika Vritti  of Swamin Hariprasada

2. Yoga Pradipika of Baladeva Mishra

3. Kirana of Vallabhacharya (this largely follows Bhojas Rajamartanda)

4. Jnanananda Bhashya of Jnanananda

5. Yogavallī  by Sri T Krishnamacharya

Apart from these Saṃskṛta commentaries that span nearly two millennia, commentaries and translations of Yogasūtras and a few of these Saṃskṛta commentaries  in various other Indian languages and languages of the world have emerged . The oldest foreign language translation of Yogasūtras is the Persian translation of Yogasūtras of Patañjali: Kitab Patañjali, by  Alberuini, 10th Century. 

This indicates the popularity of the text and also the foundational nature of contribution of this text to the field of Yoga. A study of the text with one or more of the Saṃskṛta commentaries will give a very good footing in the philosophy and practice of Yoga.

Select Bibliography (for further reading and referencing):

1.  Larson, Gerald James & Bhattacharya, Ramshankar, Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume XII, Yoga: India’s Philosophy of Meditation, Motilal Banarsidas Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, Reprint 2016.

2. Karṇāṭaka, Vimalā, vyākhyākaroṃ ke dṛṣṭi se pātañjala-yogasūtra kā samīkṣātmaka adhyayana Varanasi: The Benares Hindu University Saṃskṛta Series, 1974

3. Śāṡtrī GD, editor. Sāṃga Yogadarśana or Yoga Darśana of Patañjali, with the Scholium of Vyāsa and the Commentaries Tattvavaiśāradī, Pātañjalarahasya, Yogavārṭīkā and Bhāsvatī of Vācaspati Miṡra, Rāghavānanda Sarasvatī, Vijñānabhikṡu and Hariharānanda Āraṇya Varanasi: Chaukhamba Saṃskṛta Bhavan; 2007

4. śāstrī,  paṇḍita ḍhuṇḍhirāja (Edited with Notes by), Yogasūtram by Maharṣi patañjali,  with Six commentaries, Rāja-mārtāṇḍa of Bhoja, pradīpikā  of Bhāva-gaṇeśa, vṛttiḥ  of Nāgojī-bhaṭṭa, maṇi-prabhā  of Rāmānanda-yati, candrikā  of Ananta-deva-paṇḍita, yoga-sudhākaraḥ  of Sadāśivendra-sarasvatī, Varanasi: Chaukhamba Saṃskṛta Sansthan, Reprint 2009.

5. Rukmani, T S, English Translation and Critical Notes, Yogavārttika Vijñānabhikṣu , Vol.1-4,  Munshiram New Delhi: Manoharlal Publishers Private Limited, 2001

6. Yogavaisharadi: A searchable web-repository of classical Yoga literature: https://kymyogavaisharadi.org/