Shiva Samhita

The Shiva Samhita is one of the highly regarded texts on Hath Yoga; the other two being the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gherand Samhita. The Sanskrit verses are a conversation between Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. The Shiva Samhita was believed to be written sometime between 15th-17th centuries. The author of this text is unknown.

Below is an overview of each of the five chapters, based on the translation by Srisa Chanra Vasu. In its five chapters the Shiva Samhita covers information regarding the following:

• Nadis, sushumna, ida, pingala

• Prana, 10 types of prana

• How one can attain success in yoga

• Who is worthy of doing yoga

• The signs of someone who is worthy of doing yoga

• The signs of someone whose nadis (energy channels in the astral body) have been purified by nadi shodhana (alternate nostril pranayam)

• The obstacles in yoga

• How to attain success in yoga

• Mentions 84 asanas (poses) of which only 4 are described and mentioned as the most important

• mentions only one pranayam which is nadi shodhana and the method of doing it, and how long it takes for the nadis to get purified

• Mantra yoga, shadow gazing, anahat sounds

Chapter 1

Talks about the means of liberation and the different methods for example-karma, vairagya (dispassion), charity, truth, ascetism, forgiveness, household duties, mantra yoga, visiting places of pilgrimage, that people believe will lead to emancipation, but Yoga shastra is considered to be the only true means for liberation. As long as one is attached to the fruits of his action he will continue to take rebirth. The very fact that you are born in a human body is because of your past life karmas. Spiritual knowledge is regarded as the only thing that will release people form the bondage of rebirths. The spirit is eternal and never dies but is reincarnated over and over again. The world is an illusion.

Chapter 2

Talks about the spinal column and the nadis of which 14 are important out of which arise numerous networks, branches an dsub branches of nadis that result in (350,000) nadis that supply various parts of the body and regulate the functions of the body. Of the 14 nadis, 3 are more important. These are ida, pingala, sushumna. Of the 3, sushumna is most important.

Sushumna, ida and pingala have been identified as the important nadis with sushumna being the most important. Inside the sushumna is the chitra nadi and inside it is the barahmarandra (the most subtle of all nadis). Chitra is the favorite of lord Shiva. By contemplating ont eh purest chitra nadi, the yogi can destroy all sins. Talks about location of kundalini at the base of the sushumna. Kundalini has 3 and ½ coils. The ida (representing moon)on the left side coils around sushumna (representing fire) and goes to the right nostril (representing sun) and the pingala coils around sushumna and goes to the left nostril. The sushumna has six energy centers, six lotuses known to yogis. It touches upon the fire in the abdomen that helps in the digestion of food, that nourishes the food, increases life, gives energy and destroys diseases.

The jivah (being) residing in the human body, experiences the result of past karmas. All pleasures and sufferings are a result of karma. The person who has accumulated good karma enjoys happiness. From desires arise delusions, but that can be removed through knowledge that gives salvation or moksha. It then becomes clear that the world is just an illusion. One is in the body as a result of past karmas, but the burden of living in this body is considered worthwhile only if it is used to obtain Nirvana (enlightenment). The desires that bind a jivah (living being) cling to the person in each lifetime, it suffers similar misery. Practitioners of yoga should renounce fruits of all actions in order to rise above the illusory world. All desires can be dissolved through spiritual knowledge.

Chapter 3

Heart Chakra or Anahat Chakra

Heart chakra is described as a divine lotus with 12 petals that have Sanskrit letters. Prana lives in the heart along with past desires and egoism. The different modifications of this prana, results in ten principle types of pranas. These are pran, apan, saman, udana, vyan, naga, kurma, krikara, devadatta, and dhananjay. Of these the first 5 are important ones and of them the first two-pran and apan are the most important. The heart is the seat of pran, the anus is the seat of apan, the navel region is the seat of samana, the throat is the seat of udana and vyan moves throughout the body. The remainder vayus, are incharge of functions like eructation (naga), opening eyes (kurma), hunger and thirst (krikira), yawning(devadatta) and hiccups ) dhananjaya).

How to attain success in yoga? Who is worthy of doing yoga?

It stresses the importance of having a guru. Walking around the guru 3 times and touching his feet, serving him in thought, word and deed is considered auspicious. Yoga should be practiced with faith and perseverance. Yoga is for one who is sincerely devoted to attaining any knowledge. Those individuals who are slaves to sensual pleasures, lie, are hurtful in words, disrespectful of guru, keep bad company, and are skeptics, never attain success.

The six signs of someone who would achieve success in yoga are:

1. Confidence

2. Faith

3. Respect towards guru

4. The spirit of equality

5. Control of senses

6. Moderate consumption of food

The yogi should begin by first paying respects to Guru on left, Ganesha on right and then again to goddess Ambika on left. The yogi should practice breath regulating procedures while seated in padmasan on a seat in a clean location. He should inhale through his left nostril while closing the right nostril with his thumb. He should hold the breath as per his capacity and then release it through the right nostril without force. Then he should inhale through the right nostril, retain per his capacity and exhale without force through the left nostril. He should practice twenty kubhakas, (breath retentions), that would make 10 rounds of this cycle, 4 times a day early morning, mid-day, sunset and midnight. The nadis (energy channels in the astral body) will be purified if practiced this way for 3 months. Upon purification of the nadis, the yogi becomes purified and enters the first stage of Pranayam called Aarambavastha (beginning stage). The other 3 stages are: ghatavastha, parichay avastha, nishpatti avastha. They destroy all sorrow.

What are the signs of someone whose nadis have been purified through nadi shuddhi pranayam?

The body of such a person smells good, appears balanced, poised and beautiful. Other qualities found are good digestion, courage, strength etc.

What are the obstacles in Yoga?

Consuming foods that are acidic, astringent, salty, mustard, pungent items, wandering around/travelling too much, bathing before sunrise, fasting, oily foods, eating too much, violence, anger/hate towards others, company of women, talking excessively, agni seva (worshipping fire), unnecessary thoughts of anything besides salvation.

How to obtain success in yoga?

The practioner of yoga should consume ghee (clarified butter), milk, sweet foods, betel without lime, camphor, pleasant speech, a simple residence, listen to good talks, perform duties without attachment, take the name of Vishnu, listen to pleasant sounds (avoidance of debates, arguments, controversial talks, instigating talks), patience, forgiveness, austerity, cleanliness, devotion to guru.

The yoga practitioner should consume food when the breath flows through the pingala nadi (right nostril) and should sleep when it flows through the ida nadi (left nostril).

Pranayam should not be practiced when one is very hungry or immediately after a meal. If very hungry, one should consume a small amount of food like milk.

Food consumption should be in small quantities, but more frequently and kumbhaka (breath retention) should be practiced at the recommended times.

Once the yogi has full command over his breath (the final stage), nothing is impossible and he need not follow all these restrictions. In the first stage of pranayam, the yogi perspires. The sweat should be rubbed onto the body to prevent loss of dhatu (important elements). In the second stage the body trembles. In the third it is able to leap like a frog and in the final stage the yogi attains vayu siddhi (will be able to walk on air). The yogi becomes disease free. Once the body of this yogi becomes free from vayu (wind element), pitta (fire element-bile) and kapha (water element-phlegm), he can revert to regular diet. There would be no bad effects of consuming food in greater amount or small amount or even no food at all. He gains bhuchari siddhi (ability to jump like a frog). A yoga practitioner should not let obstacles prevent them from continuing on this path. He should chant Aum, while restraining hi senses. He destroys all his karma both present and past through the practice of this pranayam. He should practice kumbhaka for 1 and ½ hours. The accomplished yogi, through the practice of pranayam attains the 8 major psychic powers viz., vakya siddhi (prophecy powers), khechari siddhi (ability to transport himself anywhere), clairvoyance, subtle sight, power of entering another body, changing metal to gold, becoming invisible and flying in the air.When the advanced yogi can hold his breath for 3 hrs, he can balance himself on his thumb.

The next stage is parichaya which is achieved after all 6 chakras have been pierced. He has control over the five elements (ether, air, water, fire, earth). Meditating for 2 ½ hours on each chakra bestows tremendous powers. After this the yogi reaches the stage of nishpatti avastha. Having dissolved all the karmas, he drinks the nectar of immortality. He is now jivan mukta-individual liberated in the present life. When the yogi can drink nectar just by placing the tip of his tongue on his palate he is freed from the practice of all yoga. He is freed from disease, old age, death and obtains several powers. He does not feel hunger, thirst, fatigue or sleepiness. He is never reborn.

There are 84 postures of which 4 are most important. These are siddhasan, padmasan, ugrasan (pashimottanasan) and swastikasan (sukhasan). Through paschimottanasan, vayu siddhi is attained and miseries are destroyed.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 deals with 11 of the many mudras (positions). These mudras are Yoni mudra, Mahamudra, Mahabandha, Mahavedha, Khechari, Jalandhar, Mulabandha, Viparitkarana, Uddana, Vajroni, and Shaktichalan. For one who is seriously interested in pursuing this should practice with care, perseverance and faith only under the guidance of an experienced guru. The successful practice of these mudras per instructions can bestow upon the practitioner several supernatural powers like clairvoyance, ability to fly, become invisible, and walk on water, the ability to make prophecies. One is cured of all disease and decay, one’s sins are destroyed.

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 mentions the four types of yoga- Mantra yoga, Hatha yoga, Laya yoga and Raja yoga. These different styles are appropriate for people with different personalities, traits, and temperaments.

Mantra yoga is recommended for mild aspirants who are fickle, timid, cruel, greedy, cynical, diseased etc. The efforts of such aspirants will bear success in yoga after 12 years.

Laya yoga is for the average aspirant. Such aspirants are kind, merciful, desirous of virtue, sweet in speech, and who do not go through extremes in achieving anything.

Hatha yoga is for the above average aspirants who are mentally stable, energetic, sympathetic, forgiving, truthful, brave, and full of faith, devoted to their gurus, always engaged in the practice of yoga. Their efforts bear fruit in 6 years.

Raja Yogas is for superior aspirants who are in the prime of their youth, are moderate in their eating habits, in control of their senses, bold, energetic, knowledgeable, content, forgiving, religious, charitable, healthy, don’t waste time etc. The efforts of such aspirants bear fruit in 3 years. They are also qualified to engage in the other forms of yoga.

The chapter also talks about Prateek upasana- worshipping the shadow. It also talks about attaining nirvan through the practice of the following:

Closing eyes, nose, lips and ears with the fingers by placing the index fingers on the eyes, the middle fingers on nose, the remaining fingers on the upper and lower lips and the thumb on ears, the person can see his soul in the form of light. From the practice of this the yogi can hear mystic sounds. The anahat sounds in order are:

• the sound of a buzzing bee,

• flute

• harp

• ringing bells

• thunder

Lord Shiva praises as the superior most the following:

siddhasan, , kumbha, khechari mudra, and nada (mystic sounds). If a yogi constantly meditates on the third eye chakra, he senses a brilliant fire like lightning. By meditating on this light, all sins can be destroyed and one can attain the highest end. Upon experience, he can see and converse with the other accomplished siddhas.

Food consumed is of 4 types. Food that is chewed, licked, sucked and drank. The finest portion of food nourishes the subtle body. The second best part made of 7 elements nourishes the gross body. The most inferior portion of food is excreted from the body. Hence the first two by products of digested food are considered the best as they nourish the body. Vayu (air element) flows through the nadis (energy channels in the astral body). These nadis can be weak or strong and prana (life force) flows through them. It is clearly stated that one need not go searching for God outside of them. God is within you.

A Summary of the effects of meditation on the chakras as described in the Shiva Samhita.

Muladhar Chakra or Root Chakra: Meditate on the svayambhu linga. The one who meditates on this chakra (the svaaymbhu linga in the muladhar chakra) attains darduri siddhi (power to jump like a frog and ultimately rise into the air). He becomes free from disease and old age. He can see the past, present and future. He becomes master of all esoteric sciences. He can attain mantra siddhi by mere repetition. He is freed from all sins and attains whatever the mind desires. By constant practice he sees results in 6 months and air element enters the sushumna (spinal column). He conquers his mind

Swadishthan Chakra or Sacral Chakra: One who contemplates on this chakra, attains knowledge of all the sciences even though he may have never known about them before. He becomes disease free and can roam the universe fearlessly. He attains the powers of anima (ability to become small), laghima (ability to become huge).

Manipura Chakra or Solar Plexus Chakra: One who meditates on this chakra located in the navel region attains everything that he desires. He gets the power to convert base metals to gold, clairvoyance, the ability to find cures for diseases, and can see hidden treasure.

Anahat Chakra or heart chakra: If one contemplates on the flame called vanlinga that resides in the heart chakra (anahat chakra), attains knowledge beyond measure. He attains clairvoyance and can see the past, present and future. He can walk in air (khechari siddhi) and travel anywhere (Bhuchari siddhi). Through his clairvoyance he can perceive the yogins.

Vishhuddhi Chakra or the throat chakra: One who contemplates on this chakra attains the knowledge of the secrets of the Vedas (sacred Hindu tests). He never experiences and weakness of body.

Ajna chakra or the third eye chakra: By contemplating on this chakra, one attains the highest success. One attains the all the fruits as attained by contemplating on the above 5 chakras. One who meditates on this chakra while standing, walking, sleeping, or while awake, is free of sin.

Sahasrara or crown chakra: By contemplating on this chakra, one becomes god like. His mind becomes pure and he can see the future. All his sins get destroyed. All accidents are warded off.

Raja Yoga

The person who meditates on the void and shadow, attains numerous powers. Such a yogi doesn not identify with “I”. Hatha yoga and Raja yoga go hand in hand. One should learn Hatha yoga before moving on to Raja yoga. One who lives in the human body and does not practice yoga is living merely for the senses. One engaged in this yoga should not give up his household duties or professional responsibilities, but should not be attached to them. He should continue to perform them.

Mantra Yoga

The highest mantra is revealed and proper method of chanting of mantras and their benefits is explained.

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