Many people today (falsely) claim to be “Hatha-Yoga” teachers, however, the original Hatha-Yoga system belongs to the Saivite and Sakta sects of yoga and predominantly under the natha lineages that include Gorakshanatha, one of the main reformers of the system who used it for military purpose.
Unlike Patanjali’s diminutive ashtanga system, the original Hatha-Yoga (even that taught by BKS Iyengar’s Guru and brother in-law, Krishnamacharya), teaches that there are ten yamas and ten niyamas each, not simply five each. However, the number of so-called “Hatha Yoga” teachers that claim to be such, that remain either amazed by this or ignorant of it, just goes to show how far the abuse of name alone has gone today and even been appropriated within yoga circles itself!
True Hatha-Yoga, as it’s texts itself reveal, is the path of transforming the body via purification and was originally aimed at the yoga systems of Dattatreya and his student Parashurama for Dhanurveda or martial-arts training for kshatriya-yogis – predominant muscular, rajasic pitta type people, with strong digestions and a fiery nature to handle such practices as the shad kriyas and also yogic diets which aimed at heavier dairy-based and raw foods, today deemed as sattvic, but what was really the best for such phenotypes alone historically – not one and all and certainly not hormonal females, much less the vata-whacked and frail western body, outside of martial arts and basic bodily toning and exercise regimes as we see today!
While certain asanas and pranayamas can be useful for anyone, they must be tailored as per the individual’s psychology, biology and also disease, climate etc. – factors we have to take into consideration also before prescribing any Ayurvedic remedies – which cannot be done in a class, or even one to one, unless one is trained in Ayurveda. The classical example of Hatha-Yogis who were Vaidyas and Yogis such as Krishnamacharya, Vasishtha Ganapati Muni, Narayana Guru etc. reflecting these paths are to be noted here over the modern-day gym-style yoga studio, that often resembles more a BDSM dungeon than anything else! Ironically, while espousing “sattvas“, as if some medieval Christian puritian stance, these western incarnations of Hatha-Yogis (or rather, frauds) – their yoga, from their rooms, straps and equipment, right down to their advertising is wholly rajasic!
Another modern misconception is that there is a difference between the Siddha Yoga, Hatha-Yoga of nathas and Vedic systems. For a start, Rishis such as Agastya that were historical yogis in the south were also Vedic Rishis connected to Saivism in the Vedas and included others such as Jamadagni and his son Rama Bhargava (Parashurama) as also Atri Rishi and his sons Datta Atreya (founder of many Hatha-Yoga systems), Durvasa and Soma Atreya. There were simply numerous Vedic lineages, but the yoga remained one science – the so-called siddhas were a part of yoga movements across India from the Tantrics of Bengal and Kashmir to the variant systems in the south. The only difference is that the south via Agastya and Parashurama via the Dattatreya lineage became the older version and the Matsyendra-Gorakshanatha to the north became a reformed movement later to counteract Muslim invasions – yet both originated from Lord Shiva.
In the Vedas, the Rudras / Maruts had mystical powers and roamed the hills as well and were the original yogis that possessed the divine shakti as vidyut (lightening). Their master was Indra (master of the sense organs) – the archetype yogi, whose spouse was power personified (Shachi). There is hence no difference – “siddha” anywhere in India simply means ‘one who possesses the (or one of the) eight yogic powers (siddhis)’. It isn’t a case of a pre-Vedic system, which is simply a Tamil invention of recent times, generated by Tamil Nationalism under British rule!
Original Hatha-Yogis from Dattatreya who taught Parashurama – the great saint who avenged the death of his father by eliminating all kshatriyas from the globe to restore society to a non-violent (ahimsa) culture, so it wouldn’t be compromised to the later movement of Gorakshanatha who took Bappa Rawal’s warriors and made them Gurkha yogi-soldiers that went forth into the North-West, into Central-Asia, Baghdad etc. and fought off Muslim attacks and threats to Hindu dharma are hence examples of the true spirit of what Hatha-Yoga was and stood for. It was about defense of a culture that allowed freedom and was based on the doctrine of ahimsa ot not doing injury – however, in order to uphold ahimsa-dharma, we must sometimes take up arms to eliminate the threats that may otherwise annihilate it’s foundations.
We see that these facts are quite different to the gibberish espoused by modern Hindu Gurus and Swamis, who have learnt only one or two siddhis or manipulation via mohana (attraction) of followers, wealth etc. and use such as a facade for their own ignorance and thus, use such to indoctrinate the masses against the true history and meaning, as also teachings of real Hatha-Yoga itself.
May the inner kshatriya awaken within you!
Jai Datta Guru!
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