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