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Amanaska-yoga 24.12.2020


«44. Guru is Brahma, Vishnu and God Maheshvara. There is no one higher than Gurudev, therefore one should always serve Him.»

Purva-yoga (Purva-taraka) is a synonym for Hatha-yoga, and Amanaska-yoga (or Uttara-taraka) is a synonym for Raja-yoga, the purpose of which is Unmani (dissolving of mind in its source, Parasamvit). Unmani-avastha (state of unmani) is somewhat different in the definition of tantrikas and nathas from Patanjali's definition of «citta-vritti nirodhah». 

In Nathas tradition Amanaska is a part of taraka-yoga (prana-yoga, shakti-yoga), in the practice of which the light of consciousness is amplified through Kundalini-shakti as Vimarsha (the aspect of self-observation of Supreme Reality, which is also responsible for all processes in the manifested Universe). This intensification of the light of consciousness leads to unmani-mudra, or the state of Shiva as superconsciousness. These two practices – Purva and Amanaska yoga, are the main ones. In Purva-taraka there is your ego, and there is a process of being aware of all that you are able to be aware of, in this process your consciousness and subconsciousness are involved. In Uttara-taraka, superconsciousness is involved, while you don’t even make an effort to sustain awareness, Shiva himself through you is aware of his game. In the second state, there is no ego, you don’t think or plan anything, and at the same time everything always develops in all respects in the most ideal way, this is the path of sahaja.  

Amanaska yoga includes preparatory practices in the form of concentration on sthula, sukshma and jyotir objects, meditation on lakshyas and vyomas; then the level of the temporary trance state (savikalpa-samadhi) is reached, and at the highest level – nirvikalpa. Although nirvikalpa-savikalpa, videha-sadeha (jivan-mukti) are all very relative on the conceptual level. The space of Nirvikalpa-samadhi is present everywhere, and when it is said that it is like pralaya or death, this doesn’t necessarily mean what it may seem to us, i.e. it is the truth in experience, not in theory. 


What are the techniques of Raja-yoga in the Nathas Tradition?

Of the main ones, it is meditation on emptiness, usually it is preceded by the practice of dharana on 5 elements, on the sounds of nada (nadanusandhana), concentration on the chakras. There are three levels in nadanusandhana: meditation on the gross sound (for example, mantras or bhramari pranayama), then meditation on the subtle sound of prana, and the third level – meditation on emptiness. Often, the practice of laya-yoga, the higher sections of hatha-yoga, spontaneously turn into the practice of raja-yoga. If you don’t get carried away excessively by gross, worldly forms of hatha-yoga practice, then hatha-yoga should certainly flow into the practice of raja-yoga. This is achieved through mudras, bandhas, drishti, nadanusandhana etc. 


The text «Amanaska-yoga», which consists of two parts – Amanaska-khanda and Uttarardha, is interesting for the description of two types of yoga: Purva or Taraka, and Apurva or Amanaska. Taraka means «that which leads to liberation», i.e. Taraka is the method of yoga (upaya), and Amanaska is the result of the method, that which leads to the abandonment of mental disturbances (vikara). It is difficult to say where this category of practices came from, because the prerequisites for it are found in the literature related to Upanishads, tantra-agamic literature. Amanaska is, first of all, the state of Unmani, or state of Shiva as superconsciousness. According to the agamas, Shiva, in order to make it easier to comprehended, placed himself in different «lakshyas» (objects to which consciousness must be directed), in different traditions they are different.

Therefore, the method is Shiva and Shiva is the method; in the same way, there is actually no difference between the level of practice of Taraka and Amanaska, they are one. Taraka-yoga is also mentioned in such texts as Brahman Mandala Upanishad and Advaya Taraka Upanishad, which are famous for describing shambhavi-mudra, meditation on three lakshyas and vyomas. 

Chakras, adharas, lakshyas and vyomas can be found in Kaulic texts, in Kashmir Shaivism (KSh), Kubjika, some archetypes in Sri Vidya. The fact is that in those Tantras, unlike in Gorakshanath's teaching, such practices were associated with yantra, in the center of which there was a triangle, around it – shatkona (hexagon), the next chakra of the yantra consisted of sixteen petals. So, the three lakshyas were Yoginis and Bhairavas (in a triangle), in a hexagon, in sixteen-petal lotus too. This yantra was used for worshiping, and then it was projected onto the body, resulting in all these chakras, lakshyas, adharas, vyomas. In Kubjika, these practices are projected onto the body, and Puja is done for the body in the form of worshiping Yoginis and Bhairavas in it.

It is quite obvious that Gorakshanath borrowed a lot from there, although from other sources too. But Gorakshanath connected these elements with Hatha-yoga and its fruit (Raja-yoga or Amanaska). Gorakshanath has no mantras for body parts, but mudras, bandhas, the direction of consciousness. In Kubjika tantras and KSh, initially 5 chakras are found, the Kubjika’s mantra consists of five syllables symbolizing different panchakas (five-folds), as the sources of creation of all mantras and Existence. Therefore, the five vyomas initially corresponded to chakras, different Goddesses, which correspond to different gradations of tantric knowledge and are represented by Vidya Goddesses, personifying the tantric sections of knowledge (amnaya). Five vyomas are symbols of different five-folds manifested by tantric knowledge (amnaya). These five-folds are now inscribed in Nevar Tantra in the shatkona, i.e. they are contained in the chakras themselves. All these elements are directly related to Taraka-yoga, they are pillars for realizing oneself as Eternal, beyond all qualities, Atman. Higher awareness is called «Amanaska», and the basic section of the practice (to achieve Amanaska) is called «Taraka».

All these practices are related to the higher sections of Hatha-yoga and the practices to control prana. In Amanaska-yoga it is said that raja-yoga is already contained in the taraka-yoga itself, and it is obvious that work with prana and consciousness is carried out simultaneously, through dissolution (laya). First, the difference between taraka-yoga and amanaska-yoga is explained. It is said that taraka is associated with meditation on the light through shambhavi-mudra, and that yogi is able to see akasha in the head space (gagana-mandala).

Akasha. Many texts describe it with the term vyoma and divide it into five states: akasha, parakasha, mahakasha, tattvakasha and suryakasha. These akashas are associated with the state of prana, because taraka-yoga is focused on subduing prana through the mind, and vice versa. There is one akasha – Atman, the rest are his svarupas, they are needed for the practice of realizing Atman.

A very important detail about shambhavi-mudra and the practice of taraka-yoga is explained, it talks about Unmesha. According to KSh tantras, Shiva has three eyes: solar, lunar and fiery. When He opens his eyes, the creation of the world takes place by means of a glance, when He closes his eyes, then he absorbs the creation back into himself. He is constantly present in his creation, remaining transcendental. Yogi himself is like Shiva, and when he opens his eyes, practicing shambhavi-mudra, and brings them to the eyebrows, he accomplishes the process of manifestation (Unmesha) in his microcosm. Since prana is associated with life and creation, then taraka-yoga is precisely yoga of «dissolving the vibration of prana». When gunas are out of balance, Prakriti begins to create the universe. Yogi sees different types of vyomas during practice. Through these five akashas and shambhavi-mudras, Natha Yogi knows himself as Shiva and Atma-svarupa (his true form as Atman).

It is not a coincidence that text refers to dissolution (laya), since both yogas, taraka and amanaska, are associated with dissolution. Taraka is associated with the dissolution of prana, which occurs during inhalation and exhalation, or extraverted and introverted consciousness, as well as the dissolution of various objects and forms of all tattvas.

This dissolution is called pranayama, and the text describes various levels of dissolution that must be explained in details directly by Guru. Amanaska is the dissolution of the mind in the transcendental consciousness – Parasamvit.

In the second part of the text, from the very beginning it is explained that yoga is divided into external (bahir-yoga) and internal (antar-yoga). External yoga consists of practices of pranayama and external hatha-yogic mudras (shambhavi-mudra). Internal yoga or raja-yoga implies mudra at the level of consciousness, mudra (reflection) of the light of Shiva, Prakasha or Parasamvit (superconsciousness), in various forms of Shakti (Shambhavi). Mudra is the union of emptiness and form. With such a union, the highest transcendence of consciousness (unmani) is achieved. Unmani is the goal of raja-yoga. The connection with the inner and outer lakshya is especially emphasized.

The practice of pranayama is extremely difficult, by practicing control of mind one can achieve the same results as when practicing pranayama, but only by the grace of Guru. According to tantric path, oriented on the work with consciousness (anupaya), the realization of one's inner, original, divine perfection is possible by the grace of Guru. In fact, the second part of Amanaska-yoga describes Raja-yoga approach such as a natural process similar to the practice of sahaja.

«113. Knowledge of the true nature is manifested through the purity of abhyasa, tranquility, service to Guru – [and it takes place] by the grace of Guru.»

Based on materials:
«Sidha-siddhanta padhati and other texts of Natha Yogis» / translated from Sanskrit by and with the comments of Guru Sri Yogi Matsyendranath Maharaj. - M :, International Natha Yoga Center, 2009 .-- 278 p.

Tags:  yoga amanaska-yoga raja-yoga
Author: Yogi Matsyendranath Maharaj

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