From the Back of the Book:
Yoga Chudamani Upanishad is a manual of higher sadhana for advanced and initated aspirants. It delineates the ancient path of kundalini awakening in its original and pure form before the proliferation of modern yogic literature. The text elucidates a unique combination of kundalini yoga and vedantic upasana. It discusses the nadis, prana vayus, chakras and kundalini Shakti, and also provides detailed descriptions of ajapa gayatri and pranava, which are older vedic and upanishadic meditative disciplines.
The text includes the original Sanskrit verses, along with transliteration, anvay, translation and a comprehensive commentary by Swami Satyadharma Saraswati under the guidance of Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati. For students of Indian philosophy, it provides a valuable study of the compatibility of Yoga and Vedanta, or the tantric and vedic systems of philosophy and practice.
Details from the Book:
The Yoga Upanishads represent an important cultural merging of the vedantic and tantric traditions, which were earlier conceived as opposed to one another, but are here shown to be complementary systems. Yoga has its ancient origins in Tantra, and the yogic practices and physiology are all based in this tradition. The Yoga Upanishads deal with the major yogic aspects of Tantra, such as: kundalini, laya, nada, mantra and hatha. These texts further detail and describe how the yogic practices culminate in the vedantic realization of the Self as Atma/Brahman, or one with the absolute reality.
The Yoga Upanishads were composed after the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and form an important part of the classical yoga literature. Their number varies between twenty and twenty-two. The following texts are generally listed among this group: 1. Advayataraka, 2. Amritanada, 3. Amritabindu, 4. Brahmavidya, 5. Darshana, 6. Dhyanabindu, 7. Hamsa, 8. Kshurika, 9. Maha Vakya, 10. Mandalabrahmana, 11. Nadabindu, 12. Pashupatabrahmana, 13. Shandilya, 14. Tejobindu, 15. Trjshjkhjbrahmana, 16. Va ra ha, 17. Yoga Chudamani, 18. Yogakundali, 19. Yogaraja, 20. Yogashikha, 21. Yogatattwa.
An exact time line for the upanishadic body of yogic literature is difficult to assign. The earliest Upanishads are certainly pre-Patanjali and were probably composed between the completion of the vedic hymns around 1000 BC and the Classical Yoga period which arose around 300 BC. There is no doubt that the Yoga Upanishads were composed later and belong to the post-Patanjali era because of the term ashtanga yoga, which is used in all of these texts. However, no references to Patanjali or his Yoga Sutras are found in any of these Upanishads. In the early Upanishads, like Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya, different vidyas or meditative disciplines are described, but nowhere were they codified as in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
Therefore, when inter-rivalries arose between the different philosophical systems, including the Classical Yoga system, the Vedantic thinkers must have felt the need to reveal these secret yogic doctrines in book form. This marks the emergence of the Yoga Upanishads. Although the time of compilation of these Upanishads is post-Patanjali, the vidyas or meditative disciplines contained within them are pre-Patanjali. The Yoga Upanishads were written by Vedantic scholars in order to show that these vidyas and related practices were not borrowed from Patanjali but were known and practiced from the ancient period.
Yoga Chudamani is the ‘Crown jewel of Yoga’. Chudamani is comprised of two words: chuda and mani. The word chuda means ‘crown’ and also refers to the tuft of hair which is worn at the top back of the head by the Brahmin priests. The word mani means jewel’. Yoga Chudamani is a unique and concise text comprised of one hundred and twenty-one mantras which deal with the practices of kundalini yoga as a means to attain the heights of Vedanta philosophy. The author and origins of this text are unknown, but it is connected with Sama Veda and probably dates back to the period between 700 and 1000 AD, when the ancient tantric tradition had regained popularity and was undergoing a period of revival. Yoga Chudamani is an ancient text in which no clear demarcation between the early systems of hatha yoga and kundalini yoga is found. Some scholars have, therefore, related the practical contents of this text with hatha yoga, whereas in context these practices are actually part of kundalini yoga, as they deal directly with the awakening of the pranas, nadis, chakras and kundalini. In early times, when the seers of the Upanishads were exposed to tantric theories and practice, kundalini yoga comprised all the practices of hatha yoga, except for the original six purifying practices, which were known as Shatkarma.
Hatha yoga was regarded as a physical and pranic purification system, whereas kundalini yoga was an esoteric system which involved the awakening of latent psychic energies only known and practiced by adepts. Gradually, over time, all the asana, pranayama, mudra and bandha components of kundalini yoga were absorbed into the system of hatha yoga, because of their physical nature. The relationship between hatha and kundalini yoga was often not recognized by later scholars and, therefore, the pranic and psychic emphasis of the practices was gradually lost. The Yoga Chudamani is, therefore, an important source of yogic literature which reminds us of the esoteric purpose of many kundalini yoga practices that have come to be regarded as hatha yoga.
The text begins with the six limbs of yoga: asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi, and then goes on to describe the six chakras, sixteen adharas (bases), three lakshyas (aims) and five vyomas (spaces) of yoga. This part of the text has a strong affinity with the science of Tantra and deals in depth with the lower chakras — mooladhara, swadhisthana and manipura, which are often not mentioned in other upanishadic or classical yogic text because of their relation with the instinctive nature. Special emphasis is given to the origin, location and function of the ten major nadis, or energy channels, including ida, pingala and sushumna. The prana vayus are also discussed in detail and in relation to jiva, the soul, and guna, the constituents of Prakriti. Next the text provides a description of ajapa gayatri, which is an older vedic and upanishadic vidya showing the harmonious integration of these two ancient systems.
Following these detailed discussions on yogic physiology and ajapa gayatri, the kundalini shakti is described along with its pathway, method of awakening and the necessary dietary and disciplinary observances. The text further deals with the theory of the red and white bindus, rajas and shukla, which represent the vital and conscious as well as the female and male forces. This is an important tantric concept which actually completes the theory of kundalini, but has been omitted from many of the later yogic texts due to its association with the sexual aspects of Tantra. The processes of retention and reversal of the bindus are clearly described here along with the relevant practices utilized in the different stages of this process. In this context several important mudras and bandhas, such as khechari, vajroli, maha mudra, jalandhara, moola and uddiyana, are described in detail.
At this point the text takes a more Vedantic turn and discusses the states of consciousness in relation to Pranava or Aum and how Brahman manifests in the form of Pranava. The meaning and symbology of Pranava are described in elaborate detail in accordance with the Vedantic system of philosophy and practice. This discussion further points out the relation between the three major deities, the three shaktis or powers, and the three lokas or dimensions of existence, with the three letters, ‘A’, ‘U’ and ‘M’, comprising the Aum mantra. The importance of Pranava as an uasana, or meditative discipline, which leads the practitioner into the subtle sphere of nada yoga, is further explained along with its benefits.
After this, the text again takes a different turn. Pranava is followed by discussions on the importance of the control and retention of Prana which result in longevity. In order to control and retain prana the practice of Pranayama is a necessity. Here the methods of Pranava Pranayama Chandra bheda surya bheda, nadi shodhana and kumbhaka are described along with their particular esoteric significance and forms of concentration which are not found in other yogic or upanishadic texts. Finally the text draws to a close with further discussion on the limbs of yoga their benefits and progression bringing it back again to the topic on which it had begun. Bu this time however the reader has become a participator in the yogic process and not just an intellectual observer.
Yoga Chudamani is a manual of higher sadhana which is meant for advanced and initiated aspirants. It delineates the ancient path of kundalini awakening in its original and pure form before the proliferation of more modern yogic literature. Mantra by mantra the texts points out the necessary means of transformation which lead to an experience of the deeper aspects of Yoga sadhana and its culmination in the expansion of consciousness and self realization. Thereby the text becomes a practical and experiential proof of the compatibility of Yoga and Vedanta or the tantric and Vedic systems of philosophy and practice.
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