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Yoga Taravali of Adi Shankaracharya – English Translation

Yoga Taravali of Adi Shankaracharya is one of the best dissertation on the message of yoga. There are 29 verses in Yoga Taravali that discuss yogic practices  such as bandhas  and advanced spiritual experiences like Samadhi. The English translation of Yoga Taravali is by Swami Narasimhananda.

Yoga Taravali of Adi Shankaracharya

I salute the lotus-feet of my guru that have experienced the knowledge and bliss of Atman, and that serve as a doctor for removing the delusion of people caused by the poison of samsara. (1)

In this world, there are 125,000 laya-yoga — the yoga of absorption in nature – meditations told by Lord Shiva. Of these, I consider the samadhi brought about by the meditation on the anahata sound to be the best. (2)

When by the rechaka, exhalation; puraka, inhalation; and kumbhaka, retention of air, all the nadis, channels for prana’s flow, are purified, then knowledge rises of its own from the lotus of anahata chakra; this knowledge can only be known by oneself. (3)

O’, meditation on the anahata sound, I salute you. I know that you are the ultimate goal among the laya-yogas. By your grace, my prana and mind get merged in the Lord’s feet or the supreme state. (4)

The bandhakas, energy locks, of jalandhara, oddyana, and mula, have to be practised respectively, in the throat, stomach, and the base of the anus. If one knows and practises these three energy locks well, how can the cruel noose of time bind one? (5)

When the energy locks of oddyana, jalandhara, and mula awaken the coiled-up serpent woman, kundalini, then, the carrier of smell, air, moves downwards towards the sushumna nadi, and gives up its going out and coming in. (6)

By the constant compression of apana, the outward-moving energy, a flame of fire comes out of the muladhara chakra. This fire heats the moon of the sahasrara chakra and the other moons or centres of nadi in the body. Blessed in this world is the sadhaka, who drinks the nectar that flows from this heated moon. (7)

I do the one-pointed practice of kevala-kumbhaka that arises out of the practice of the three energy locks mentioned earlier. This kevala-kumbhaka is devoid of rechaka and puraka, and it removes the disturbance in the sense organs caused by their contact with sense objects. (8)

When the mind is fixed on the anahata chakra, then the actions of breathing and the mind are stopped. In this state, the splendour of kevala-kumbhaka is clearly seen. This splendor can be experienced by the alert and adept sadhakas. (9)

Though thousands of kumbhakas are mentioned in the hatha yoga texts, only the kevalakumbhaka has been acknowledged as the greatest, because in this greatest kumbhaka, prana’s rechaka, also called prakrita; and prana’s puraka, also called vainkrita; do not exist. (10)

When the calm inner space called trikuta becomes still by kevala-kumbhaka, then prana leaves the solar nadi, pingala; and the lunar nadi, ida; and gets dissolved. (11)

The prana — which remains after it is consumed by the awakened kundalini—is controlled by kevala-kumbhaka, and leaves by the downward path, and gradually gets merged in the feet of the Lord or in the supreme state. (12)

Various restraints of the unchecked upward-motion of the breath are caused by kevalakumbhaka. This causes a dissolution of air in some wise yogis. Such dissolution is free from all disturbances of the senses. (13)

When raja yoga has properly developed, there is no need to focus upon goals; there is no need to control the mind; there is no need to observe the time and number of breath; there is no need to regulate the breath; and there is no need to put effort to attain concentration or meditation. (14)

Those who are established in raja yoga, are completely discarded by this manifested universe, and become one with Brahman. They have a strange state, without the states of waking and deep sleep; neither are they living nor dead. (15)

Those who have given up the ideas of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and always have a calm mind and are established in the great raja yoga, they do not have the moods of the seer or the seen, and in that state, consciousness alone is manifested. (16)

Let the evolved state of mind, manonmani, be present in me, in which state, there is no opening or closing of the eyes, the exhalation or inhalation of air stops, and the mind also becomes free of resolves and choices. (17)

The inhaling and exhaling of breath stops because of prolonged restraint of the mind and the senses. In this state, the limbs of great yogis become immobile like the flame of a lamp in a windless place. The intellects of such yogis gets merged in the evolved state of mind called manonmani. (18)

O’ learned one! I tell you a method to attain the evolved state of mind, unmani: be indifferent to this universe and uproot all resolves with alertness. (19)

The mind that is constantly alert to forcefully destroy the chain of resolves in the mind, becomes free of distractions and attachment to sense objects due to the destruction of the basis of all thoughts; and gradually attains peace. (20)

When there is a complete absence of breathing, immobility of the body, and the lotus of the eyes are in a half-open state, we see the manifestation of amanaska-mudra, the mindless-pose, in great sages. (21)

The great yogis, whose identification with the body has weakened because of spontaneously attaining the state of amanaska, attain a state beyond the mind that has no disturbances of the prana, and is infinite and limitless like the sky. (22)

When would I give up all the other states and attain that spontaneous state full of consciousness, which quietens all the senses and leads towards the union with the supreme Self ? (23)

Due to excellent reflection on the indwelling Self, the previous attachments of persons go away and they attain a state of conscious sleep, yoga-nidra, which makes them give up all thoughts of this universe. (24)

By constant practice, the ever-benevolent yoga-nidra, appears in those yogis, whose resolves, choices, and the effects of actions have been completely uprooted. (25)

O’ friend, getting convinced of and getting established in the state of turiya—which is beyond the three states of vishva, waking; taijasa, dreaming; and prajna, deep sleep—constantly experience the bliss of yoga-nidra that is full of consciousness, free from doubts, and inexplicable. (26)

Alas! When the sun of the supreme Self rises and the darkness of ignorance is completely dispelled, though the knowers of Self have a pure vision, they are unable to see anything in this entire universe. (27)

Staying in the cave of the Shrishailam mountain [a jyotirlinga temple of Shiva in Andhra Pradesh, India], when would I attain the perfection in samadhi that dissolves the mind, when creepers would entwine my body, and when birds would build their nests in my ears? (28)

When the prana becomes stable at the brahma-randhra, the anterior fontanelle, consciousness flows like the flow from the top of a mountain. One hears the anahata-sound, which is beyond the range of hearing, and there is no doubt that one gets mukti. (29)

Prabuddha Bharata – January 2019 issue page 11 to 19 published by Advaita Ashrama  Uttarakhand, India