Gheranda Samhita (Commentary on The Yoga Teachings of Maharshi Gheranda): Sanskrit Text with Transliteration and English Translation

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Item Code: NAG497
Author: Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati
Publisher: Yoga Publications Trust
Language: Sanskrit Text withTransliteration and English Translation
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9789381620199
Pages: 630 (70 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 770 gm
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About the Book


Gheranda Samhita is a classical text describing seven limbs of yoga as taught by Sage Gheranda to his disciple, King Chandakapali. Sage Gheranda outlines a system which can take the serious aspirant from purification of the body to the highest states of samadhi and knowledge of the soul.


Distinguishing it from other hatha yoga systems, Sage Gheranda's seven limbs includes the tattwa dharanas (concentrations on the elements) and the seamless merging of hatha yoga and tantra by combining mudras, bandhas and pranayamas with mantra, yantra and mandala. The natural flow of this potent process into dhyana and samadhi is beautifully discussed, bringing the teachings to a sublime conclusion.


The commentary by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati guides the modern reader through the details of the practices, many of which are complex, rarely described and cryptically expressed by the sage. Comprehensive instructions are given for all the techniques, while subtle understandings and insights into the underlying philosophy and purpose are presented with beauty and simplicity.


The original Sanskrit verses, with transliteration and translation are included.




Gheranda Samhita is a text on practical yoga by Sage Gheranda. In this work he describes Lord Vishnu: Jale Vishnu thale Vishnu, which means Vishnu is in water and Vishnu is on land (6: 18). In one or two places Lord Narayana is also described, implying that the sage adopted Vaishnava philosophy in his life as well as being an accomplished hatha yogi. His form of yoga brings out knowledge by beginning with the body and progressing all the way to the essence of the soul. An outline of practices is given within this framework.


From the oldest surviving copies of Gheranda Samhita, it can be inferred that as a literary work it began in the seventeenth century. Of fourteen available manuscripts found in northern and eastern India and used for critical editions of Gheranda Samhita, the earliest copy dates back to 1802. As an oral tradition, passed from guru to disciple, these secret teachings would probably have survived for at least several centuries before being written down. No one knows where or when Sage Gheranda was born, but his teachings were propagated in the north-eastern region of India and seem to have been unknown in the south.


The yoga taught in Gheranda Samhita is known as saptanga yoga, seven limbs of yoga. There is no rule that yoga must have a certain number of limbs. In other yogic texts ashtanga yoga, eightfold yoga or eight-limbed yoga, is described. In both Hatharatnavali, authored by the great yoga exponent Srinivasa Bhatta, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika of Yogi Swatmarama, four limbs of yoga are given. In Goraksha Ashtakam, written by Sage Gorakhnath, shashtanga yoga, six limbs of yoga, are described.


According to the needs of an age and its society, varying traditions of yoga come into vogue. Another possible reason for these variances is that in earlier times it was thought that the practices of yoga were meant only for saints, sages, great souls, renunciates and those who were not attached to worldly desires. In that exalted state they may not have been required to perfect the preliminary yamas, self-restraints, and niyamas, self-observances, of yoga. Therefore, yama and niyama were not included in many of the texts. However, at a later stage sages added the yamas and niyamas to the definition of yoga, as with the changing times ordinary people had started displaying an interest in yoga.


In Gheranda Samhita, the cleansing practices for the body, called shatkarma, are discussed first. The main ones are: neti, nasal cleansing, dhauti, cleansing of the head and the entire alimentary canal from the mouth to the anus, basti, cleansing the large intestine, nauli, massaging and strengthening the abdominal muscles and organs, kapalbhati, a type of pranayama, and trataka, a method of concentrating the mind. These are considered to be the six purificatory techniques of hatha yoga. Sage Gheranda considered these practices for cleansing the body to be the first dimension of yoga.


ext, asanas are discussed; Sage Gheranda mainly describes postures which make the body strong and stable. The aim, after ensuring complete control over the body, is to attain a stage in which there is no physical discomfort or pam.


In the third dimension Sage Gheranda discusses twenty- five mudras with which the flow of prana inside the body can be controlled. He believes that prana, energy, produces heat and energy inside the body. In higher sadhana, when a person sits in an asana for long durations, the body generates heat; the body temperature only drops if the prana shakti is not controlled inside the body, so that the energy is lost. With the practice of mudras, however, the prana shakti or energy is withdrawn inside the body and not allowed to dissipate. Sage Gheranda describes the mudras so that one can retain the prana inside the body.


After mudras, pratyahara is described as the fourth dimension. First the body is purified and disorders removed. Next, stability in asana is achieved. The prana is then balanced and controlled through mudras. In pratyahara, the senses are controlled and the mind becomes internalized in a natural way. Sage Gheranda believes that in the state of pratyahara, when the mind is becoming internalized and one-pointed, it is easy to awaken the pranas. In that subtle state no effort is required to awaken the pranas and internalize the mind. After pratyahara, experiences at the subtle level, perception of the subtle universe, come in a natural way and one is able to awaken the prana.


Sage Gheranda includes pranayama as the fifth dimension. Generally in the practice of pranayama, the incoming and outgoing breaths are counted and the duration of inhalation and exhalation is equalized. Sage Gheranda follows this tradition, but mantras are used instead of counting. All the pranayama practices mentioned in Gheranda Samhita are practised with mantra. By including mantras, Sage Gheranda makes the practice of pranayama more powerful. When the mantra is chanted with the breath, the effect of its vibrations is felt, increasing concentration and producing pranic energy. Through the combined effect of pratyahara and pranayama one has control of this awakened energy; it does not become uncontrolled.


Thereafter, dhyana, meditation, is included as the sixth dimension. When the prana is awakened and the mind is internalized, meditation arises by itself. Sage Gheranda mentions three types of meditation: bahiranga dhyana, external meditation, antaranga dhyana, inner meditation, and ekachitta dhyana, one-pointed meditation. In external meditation there is awareness of the experiences created by the universe and senses, in inner meditation of the experiences created in the subtle mental levels, and in one- pointed meditation inner realization is awakened.


In the seventh dimension, samadhi, deep meditation, is described, and vital hints are given on how to enter that dimension.


Sage Gheranda gives his seven limbs of yoga another name: ghatastha yoga. Ghatastha yoga means yoga based on the body. Ghata means sharira, body; it also means pot or pitcher. He has observed the body in the form of a mud pot, which is given a shape with the help of matter and contains whatever God has filled it with: senses, mind, knowledge, wisdom, ego - all of which makes it one's pitcher.


For self-realization, therefore, Sage Gheranda's ghatastha yoga begins with the body, and through the medium of the body, by controlling the mental and emotional levels, spiritual realization is awakened. This is his belief.






Chapter One: Prologue & Shatkarma




Introduction to Shatkarma








Lauliki (Nauli)




Kapalbhati (Bhalbhati)


Chapter Two: Asana


Introduction to Asana


The Asana


Chapter Three: Mudra and Bandha


Introduction to Mudra and Bandha


Bandha: Four Locks


Pancha Dharana




Chapter Four: Pratyahara




Chapter Five: Pranayama




Chapter Six: Dhyana




Chapter Seven: Samadhi


Samadhi: Highest State of Consciousness




A: Psychic Physiology of Yoga


B: Sanskrit Text


C: Translation




Index of Practices


General Index



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