Differentiating the concepts of "yoga" and "tantra" in Sanskrit literary history.
P. V. Kane in his massive History of Dharmasastra makes the following observation:
... (t)here are really only two main systems of Yoga, viz., the one expounded in the Yogasutra and its Bhasya by Vyasa and the other dealt with in such works as the Goraksasataka, the Hathayogapradipika of Svatmaramayogin with the commentary called Jyotsna by Brahmananda. Briefly, the difference between the two is that the Yoga of Patanjali concentrates all effort on the discipline of the mind, while Hathayoga mainly concerns itself with the body, its health, its purity and freedom from diseases. (History of Dharmasastra, vol. V [Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1977], 1427
Patanjala Yoga appears in the first centuries of the Common Era in a sutra-compilation known simply as the Yogasutra. It is presented, at least in its principal bhasya (attributed to a certain Vyasa)--a bhasya that in nearly all manuscripts, printed or handwritten, appears with the sutrapatha--as a samana-tantra ('common tradition'), or, perhaps better, as a samkhya-pravacana (an 'explanation of Samkhya'), in other words, a classical system of Indian philosophy (darsana). Tradition links the compiler of the sutra-patha, Patanjali, with the famous grammarian, Patanjali, of the Mahabhasya. Tradition likewise links the study of the self (atman) or mind (citta) in Patanjala Yoga with the two other principal "sciences" (tantras or sastras) of the classical period (ca. third through the fifth century C.E.) in north Indian intellectual history. The two other sciences (or tantras) are, of course, the science of medicine (ayurveda) and the science of grammar (Vyakarana), both of which are also associated with the name Patanjali, and both of which were becoming mature sastras in the early centuries C.E.
In addition to the association with the name Patanjali, all three tantras or 'sciences' likewise share three important features, namely, (1) an empirical evidentiary database, (2) systematic pragmatic experimentation, and (3) independence from religious authority. Regarding the latter feature, I mean that the focus of the subject matter in each instance is not dependent upon any particular sectarian orientation (Saiva, Vaisnava, Sakta, Buddhist, or Jaina), although, of course, the practitioners in each of the three tantras are often associated with various sectarian orientations. Sectarian orientation, however, is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for the work in these tantras.
My own view is that the traditional linkage of Patanjala Yoga, ayurveda, and Vyakarana is essentially correct both historically and intellectually, so long as one updates the historical data in the light of recent research. In this regard, the major issue has to do with the name Patanjali. The grammarian Patanjali, according to most researchers, worked in the second century B.C.E.; but the date of the Yogasutrapatha attributed to Patanjali is apparently a good deal later. The Yogasutrapatha is probably to be dated no earlier than the fourth century C.E. The principal reason for the later date of the sutrapatha is the extensive incorporation of Buddhist notions and terms in all four books of the Yogasutrapatha, notions and terms that can be traced plausibly only to the first centuries of the Common Era. In this regard, Louis de la Vallee Poussin's "Le Bouddhisme et le Yoga de Patanjali" (Melanges chinois et bouddhiques 5 [1936-37]: 223-42), in which he traces some fifty terms and notions in all four Padas of the Yogasutra to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosa and Bhasya, is still very much to the point in attempting to date the Yogasutrapatha.
The obvious anachronism can be explained in either of two ways. Either there were two Patanjalis, one the grammarian and the other the compiler of the Yogasutrapatha. Most scholars tend to accept this explanation, but not all. Or a portion or some of the sutras, for example, the Yoganga "section" (YS II.28-III.5, or, according to J. W. Hauer, YS II.28-III.55), the so-called "eight-limbed Yoga section," can be traced to the grammarian Patanjali. Other sutras were then collected by an unknown compiler (for example, someone such as Vindhyavasin, the Samkhya teacher) with the whole being attributed to Patanjali, both for the sake of legitimating the new learned Yogasastra and for the sake of highlighting the obvious intellectual affinity of the three tantras. The latter explanation, I suspect, will eventually be shown to be correct when sufficient evidence emerges, but currently either explanation is plausible. For a full discussion see Gerald James Larson and Ram Shankar Bhattacharya, eds., Yoga; India's Philosophy of Meditation, Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, vol. 12 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2008), 54-70.
In any case, as mentioned earlier, there is a natural affinity among the three tantras in terms of an empirical evidentiary base, systematic pragmatic experimentation, and independence from religious authority. In the case of Yoga, the database includes the study of bodily postures, breathing mechanisms, sensing and motor functioning, the analysis of mental states, ego awareness, and general cognitive performance. The experimental component includes careful daily practice of physical exercises and cognitive meditations under the guidance of a recognized expert or experts. Yoga in this sense of Patanjala Yoga lends itself to any number of sectarian orientations, but most often its primary affiliation is with Samkhya philosophy, as clearly indicated in the colophons of all four sections of the Yogasutra. In this regard, as will be discussed below, the evidence is overwhelming in all printed texts and handwritten manuscripts, where the colophons read, "iti patanjale yogasastre samkhyapravacane ..."
In the case of ayurveda, the database includes detailed classifications of symptoms, detailed categorization of materia medica (herbal medications or "pharmaceuticals" of all sorts), and the use of yukti or pragmatic reasoning in the identification and treatment of disease. The experimental component includes the extensive and ongoing seminars or symposia having to do with the application of the materia medica to various diseases in a trial-and-error or pragmatic manner, as evidenced in the Carakasamhita and Susrutasamhita. Here again, as in Patanjala Yoga, ayurveda is employed widely in sectarian and "secular" contexts quite independently of religious or sectarian authority. I have discussed this in detail in my "ayurveda and the Hindu Philosophical Systems," Philosophy East and West 37 (1987): 245-59.
In the case of Vyakarana, the database and systematic experimental component include the systematic description of the phonetic system of Sanskrit, the elaborate analyses of word formation, detailed citations of standard usage, the extensive meta-rules devised to describe all aspects of Sanskrit in a comprehensive manner, and the detailed and painstaking lists of verbal roots and derivatives, all of which were derived from empirical observation and listening, together with the construction of a theoretical framework that would exhibit the structure of the language. Again, as with Patanjala Yoga and ayurveda, sectarian affiliations, while certainly pertinent in terms of analyzing the formation and meaning of words as these may appear in sectarian contexts, in no way shape or determine either the method or substance of what is being studied.
The terms yoga and tantra in these environments are clearly products of an elite intellectual milieu, made up of literate pandita communities, most likely in north and northwestern South Asia, that is, the Gangetic plain region (in and around present-day Varanasi) and the Gandhara, Kashmir, and Punjab regions, in the early centuries of the Common Era. Learned traditions were already taking shape, of course, a good deal earlier, in the time of the Vedas and Upanisads, and early Buddhist and Jaina traditions, and in the early epic period up through the Mauryan period and the reign of Asoka. The Moksadharma portion of the Mahabharata is symptomatic of the levels of intellectual sophistication achieved in these last centuries before the beginning of the Common Era, as is the grammatical theorizing found in such works as Patanjali's Mahabhasya.
With the consolidation established in the northwestern region of the subcontinent under Kaniska (ca. 100 C.E.), together with the imperial Gupta consolidation fashioned on the Ganges River basin and the Gangetic plain (ca. 320-550), an even more prolific cultural and intellectual creativity emerged. The various technical traditions of Indian philosophy (Hindu, Buddhist, and Jaina) all begin to take shape in this period, each one centering around a "founding" figure and a collection of utterances (sutra) or verses (karika). Vaisesika, Nyaya, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Jaina, and Yoga traditions all develop sutra-collections associated with the respective lineage figures of Kanada, Gautama, Jaimini, Badarayana, Umasvati, and Patanjali. Samkhya, Madhyamika, and Vedanta have primarily karika-collections with the lineage figures of isvarakrsna, Nagarjuna, and Gaudapada. Systematic and comprehensive treatments in a variety of other areas of intellectual endeavor are developing, including grammar, medicine, poetry, astronomy, and law.
It is precisely in this creative and systematic era that the terms yoga and tantra (and the term samkhya as well) begin to be widely used. The terms were used earlier, of course, but for the most part they are late in appearing in classical Sanskrit literature. The term yoga first appears only in the Taittiriya Upanisad (II.4.1) and then in the Katha and Svetasvatara Upanisads (II.3.11 and II. 11 respectively). Thereafter, of course, it appears widely in the epic and puranic literature. The term tantra appears only once in the Rg Veda in the sense of a 'loom' and the fabric on a loom (cf. Grassman's Worterbuch zum Rig Veda) and nowhere, so far as I can find, in the early or "principal" Upanisadic literature (cf. Jacob's Concordance).
Panini notes two roots yuj in his Dhatupatha, the first in IV.68 as yuj samadhau (root yuj in regard to concentration) and the second in VII.7 as yujir yoge (root yuj in regard to yoking or harnessing or uniting). Vacaspatimisra points out that both he and Vyasa understand the word yoga in the former sense and not the latter sense in Patanjali's Yogasutra. In other words, in Patanjala Yoga yoga does not mean 'union'; it means, rather, samadhi. Panini likewise notes the term tantra in two places, first under Astadhyayi VII.2.9 in regard to the suffix tra, meaning a 'vehicle for something', and then also in V.2.70 in regard to tantra as a cloth just removed from a loom (which presumably derives from the old Vedic reference). The root tan originally meant 'spread' or 'stretch', in part in the sense of spreading or stretching cloth on a loom.
In terms of Sanskrit intellectual history, it would appear that the term tantra is first a means for 'extending' or 'stretching'. In its usage in learned, scientific environments, it is a learned system or sastra in which all of the component parts are placed in their proper systematic place. M. Monier-Williams offers the following entries for the term tantra in this sense:
... a loom [the original Vedic references]; the warp ...; the leading or principal or essential part, main point, characteristic feature, model, type, system, framework; ... doctrine, rule, theory, scientific work, chapter of such a work (esp. the 1st section of a treatise on astron. ...)
The old Samkhya philosophy is, in this sense, called a tantra, namely, Sastitantra (that is, a learned system having sixty components, possibly referring to a text by that title or simply a name for the old Samkhya). It is not only philosophical systems such as Samkhya that are tantras in this sense. There are also tantras or learned traditions for many other intellectual inquiries. There are, for example, the learned traditions of ayurveda, Dhanurveda, Darsana, Vyakarana, Jyotisa, Ganita, Dharma, Rajaniti, Nrtya, Natya, Kavya, and a host of others. Generally speaking, in Indian intellectual history, tantra is a category or classification
notion, and as has been mentioned above, three learned traditions are characteristically referred to as salient examples of tantra in this sense, namely, Paninian grammar or Vyakarana, classical Indian ayurveda of Caraka and Susruta, and, of course, the classical Samkhya (the Sastitantra) and Patanjala Yoga, described as samkhya-pravacana.
Furthermore, a tantra has certain essential components called tantra-yuktis, involving the various methodological devices that are to be used in composing or devising a tantra or learned tradition or science. Such yuktis are found already in the Paninian system of grammar and are discussed in detail in Kautilya's Arthasastra, the medical treatises, Carakasamhita and Susrutasamhita, and Vagbhata's Astangasamgraha and Astangahrdaya, and the introduction to the Yuktidipika commentary on the Samkhyakarika. Altogether thirty-two, thirty-four, or thirty-six such yuktis are cited as "devices" to be used in constructing a tantra. These include, for example, "reference to past authority" (atikrantaveksana), "use of analogy" (atidesa), "clarifying the topic of discussion" (adhikarana), "citing exceptions to general rules" (apavarga), "mention in brief" (uddesa), "mention in detail" (nirdesa), "completing an expression or ellipse" (vakyasesa), and perhaps most notably "coherence and consistency in presenting a subject matter" (yoga). A useful survey account of the various lists of tantrayuktis in this sense, together with detailed references from the classical Sanskrit texts, may be found W. K. Lele's The Doctrine of the Tantrayuktis: Methodology of Theoretico-Scientific Treatises in Sanskrit (Varanasi: Chaukhamba Surabharati Prakashan, 1981), 19-32.
Thus far, it is quite clear what yoga and tantra mean in classical Sanskrit literature up through the fourth and fifth centuries of the Common Era, and the social reality in which the terms are used is reasonably clear, namely, learned pandita communities in north and northwestern South Asia in the time of the Kusana and the Gupta imperia. Then, however, what appears to be a sectarian turn occurs, especially in certain Buddhist and Saiva (and to a lesser degree, Vaisnava) environments in which the terms yoga and tantra come to have dramatically different meanings. Quite possibly, of course, these sectarian traditions were prevalent in various incipient forms prior to the fifth or sixth century, but there is not much textual evidence in Sanskrit prior to the middle of the first millennium C.E. Again, M. Monier-Williams' entry under tantra is interesting. Immediately following the first citation of the meaning of tantra as mentioned above, Monier-Williams continues as follows:
... a class of works teaching magical and mystical formularies (mostly in the form of dialogues between Siva and Durga and said to treat of five subjects, 1. the creation, 2. the destruction, 3. the worship of the gods, 4. the attainment of all objects, esp. of 6 superhuman faculties, 5. the four modes of union with the supreme spirit by meditation ...).
Beginning in the sixth century of the Common Era and thereafter, there is an explosion of literature known as tantra in this new sense of "magical and mystical formularies." As Mark Dyczkowski has commented.
Although it is not possible to say exactly when the first Agamas were written, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that any existed much before the sixth century. ... If our dates are correct, it seems that the Saivagama proliferated to an astonishing degree at an extremely rapid rate so that by the time we reach Abhinavagupta [975-1025] and his immediate predecessors who lived in ninth-century Kashmir we discover in their works references drawn from a vast corpus of Saivagamic literature. (Mark S. G. Dyczkowski, The Canon of the Saivagama and the Kubjika Tantras of the Western Kaula Tradition [Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1988], 5.)
Dyczkowski's comment applies primarily to the Saivagama and its so-called "Kulamnaya" (or the Western Kaula Tradition) branch, but the texts of other traditions of tantra in this new sense--for example, the Pancaratra Vaisnava materials, the southern Siddhantagama and Sri Vidya traditions, the Buddhist tantra traditions and the Jaina tantra--are also evidently not much earlier than the sixth century, and in many instances are considerably later. Much work is now becoming available regarding the history and development of these various traditions of tantra in north and south India, for example, in the work of David G. White (Kiss of the Yogini [Univ. of Chicago Press, 2003]), Alexis Sanderson ("Saivism: Krama Saivism," "Saivism: Saivism in Kashmir," and "Saivism: Trika Saivism," in Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. M. Eliade [Univ. of Chicago Press, 1986], 13: 14-17), and Geoffrey Samuel (The Origins of Yoga and Tantra [Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008]).
"Tantrika" in this new sense is usually contrasted with "Vaidika" (which latter term here is not so much "Vedic" as something like "conventional" or "traditional"). Just as tantra in the older sense, as we have seen, has certain characteristics, known as tantra-yuktis, so it appears that tantra in this new sense has some distinctive features, some of which are the following: (a) bubhuksu (desire for worldly experience) rather than mumuksu (desire for release); (b) focus on the modalities of "desire" (kama); (c) liberation while living (jivan-mukti); (d) quest for extraordinary "powers" (siddhis); (e) transgressive or antinomian ritual practices (either in fantasy or literally) involving onanism, coitus, cunnilingus, and fellatio together with the exchange of sexual fluids; (f) what Andre Padoux has called a "swarming pantheon with its fearsome deities" (both fearsome and benevolent, and both male and female); (g) meditation practices that link the body of the practitioner (microcosm) with the body of the cosmos (macrocosm); and (h) the use of sacred sounds, that is to say, phonemes, syllables, mantras, and other ritual utterances in the context of prayer and/or magic. Perhaps the best summary characterization of the "Tantrika" Weltanschauung is the following comment by Andre Padoux:
[Tantra is] ... an attempt to place kama, desire, in every sense of the word, in the service of liberation ... not to sacrifice this world for liberation's sake, but to reinstate it, in varying ways, within the perspective of salvation. This use of kama and of all aspects of this word to gain both worldly and supernatural enjoyments (bhukti) and capacities, and to obtain liberation in this life (jivan-mukti), implies a particular attitude on the part of the Tantric adept toward the cosmos, whereby he feels integrated within an all-embracing system of micro-macrocosmic correlations. (A. Padoux, "Tantrism," in Encyclopedia of Religions, ed. M. Eliade, 14: 273; cited in D. G. White, Kiss of the Yogini, p. 15. See also Padoux's excellent discussion of "Tantrism" in his Vac: The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras [Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1990], esp. 30-85.)
Closely related to these new Tantra traditions, at least in their Saiva and Sakti-Saiva formulations, is a new kind of Yoga, namely, Hatha Yoga (literally 'Exertion-Yoga'), attributed by and large to the work of two mahasiddhas, who worked somewhere between the ninth and twelfth centuries either in the northwestern or northeastern margins of South Asia: Matsyendranatha and his near-disciple Goraksanatha, said to be the founder of the Natha Yoga order. Some have maintained that both Matsyendranatha and Goraksanatha are only legendary or mythical figures, but there seems to be a growing consensus that they were historical figures even though, of course, much hyperbole has come to surround their exploits.
The nature of this new Hatha Yoga is spelled out in summary form in the Yogatattva Upanisad, oddly enough a Vaisnava text but containing an account of Hatha Yoga that is equally relevant for other sectarian groups. Four types of Yoga are listed in the Yogatattva; Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga, and Mantra Yoga. Hatha Yoga is briefly characterized as having twenty components, eight of which derive from the "Yoganga" portion of the YS and an additional twelve:
Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranasamyama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana of Hari in the middle of the eyebrows, and Samadhi. ... (Thus) is Yoga said to be of eight stages. [These, of course, are the well-known "eight limbs" of Yogasutra II.29-III.3.] Mahamudra ['great seal'--a particular posture], Mahabandha ['great lock'--another posture], Mahavedha ['great penetration'--opening of the central channel], and Khecari ['going in the air'--turning the tongue back into the cranial area having cut the frenum); Jalamdhara ['throat restriction' or lock], Uddiyana ['upward stomach restriction' or lock], and similarly Mulabandha ['root lock', restricting or controlling the breath]; Dirgha-pranava-samdhana ['prolonged recitation of the sacred syllable'], also Siddhanta- sravana ['listening to the doctrines']; Vajroli [re-absorption of semen after ejaculation, mixed with the female discharge], Amaroli [drinking one's urine and using the urine as a nasal douche], and Sahajoli [collecting urine but not drinking it or using it as a douche], considered as three aspects; these constitute the twelve divisions of Hatha-yoga. (Yogatattva Upanisad, vss. 24-27, in The Yoga Upanisads, ed. G. Srinivasa Murti, tr. T. R. S. Ayyangar [Adyar. Adyar Library, 1938], 306.)
Hatha Yoga, thus, has twenty components, the "eight-limbed" practices from the Yogasutra, and the twelve additional practices, plus, of course, the physiology of the cakras and/or mandalas, the theory of nadis, and the notion of the kundala (or kundalini).
Even though Patanjala Yoga differs dramatically from Hatha Yoga, it is possible to trace the latter from the former, at least to some degree. The locus appears to be in Book III (the Vibhuti Pada) of the Yogasutrapatha, and specifically III.29, "When the circle of the navel (becomes the focus for comprehensive reflection or samyama), knowledge (jnana) of the orderly arrangement of the body becomes possible (nabhicakre kaya-vyuha-jnanam)." If one combines the reference to the "circle of the navel" with the preceding three sutras (YS III.26, 27, and 28), that is, the solar entrance, the lunar entrance, and the pole-star correlations between the cosmos (bhuvana) and the Yogin's body, and puts these together with the following sutras, that is, the region of the throat (kantha-kupa) (III.30), the tortoise-channel (kurma-nadi) (III.31), and "the light at the top of the head" (murdha-jyotis), and the region of the "heart" (hrdaya) (III.34), it could well be the case that this very sequence of sutras (III.26-34) represents an early, if not the earliest, evidence for what will later come to be known as the system of Hatha Yoga. This is perhaps especially the case if one then combines these references with the list of 'postures' (asana) enumerated in the Vyasa bhasya under YS II.46 and the breath exercises of YS II.49-51. The basic components for Hatha Yoga are all largely in place. There is an implicit "vital center" (cakra) theory. The notions of a solar entrance (surya-dvara) (also called susumma-dvara by Vacaspatimisra) and a lunar entrance (candra-dvara) are in place. There appears to be a theory of channels or veins (nadi). The notion of the "lotus of the heart" (hrdaya-pundarika) and the idea of an illumination at the top of the head or skull (murdha-jyotis) are present. These components, when combined with a focus on a variety of body postures and an intensive concern for breathing exercises, appear to be the basic skeletal structure for later Hatha Yoga. Whereas in Patanjala Yoga these components are for the most part tangential or auxiliary to the main parameters of Yogic cosmology, psychology, physiology, epistemology, and rigorous philosophical dualism, in Hatha Yoga, of course, they become the primary focus.
By the middle of the first millennium of the Common Era, then, there appear to be two notions of Yoga--on the one hand, an older Patanjala Yoga as a samkhya pravacana, and, on the other, an incipient Hatha Yoga as an adjunct of a new sectarian tantra. Moreover, there appear to be two distinct notions of tantra: on the one hand, tantra as a class of works dealing with scientific subject-areas (grammar, medicine, psychology, and so forth), and, on the other, tantra as a class of works dealing with sectarian ritual systems, or, to use MonierWilliams' idiom," ... magical and mystical formularies." Precisely why these divisions developed when and how they did remains something of a mystery. It could well be the case that both tendencies developed in a parallel fashion for some period of time, one set of usages operating on a learned, elite level and another set operating on a popular, sectarian level.
Regarding this popular, sectarian level that becomes prominent in the later centuries of the first millennium of the Common Era, it must also be remembered that this is also the period in which popular bhakti spirituality becomes prominent. Thus, just as it is important to make distinctions between two kinds of Yoga and two kinds of tantra, so it is equally important to distinguish the newly prominent sectarian tantra from bhakti. As is the case with yoga and tantra, so it is the case with tantra and bhakti, but there has been an unfortunate tendency in popular as well as scholarly treatments to fail to make relevant distinctions.
In some respects, of course, both sectarian tantra and bhakti spirituality arise out of dissatisfaction with older elite religious traditions. Implicit as well seems to be an alienation from the hierarchies of ordinary conventional social life, a sense of the loss of empowerment on the level of ordinary social interaction (adhibhautika) and, hence, a search for empowerment internally (adhyatmika) and cosmically (adhidaivika). Both types likewise turn away from philosophical conceptualizations or doctrinal formulations in their respective traditions in search of more immediate and easier techniques. Both types, moreover, are much more oriented towards the body and towards involvement with the physical world. Both types of spirituality incorporate gender symbolism of male and female in contrast to older traditions of spirituality that focus more on some sort of neuter Absolute or Ultimate. Finally, both types of spirituality take seriously the aesthetic or feeling-components in human experience in contrast to older predilections for ascetic abstractions.
The two types of spirituality differ fundamentally, however, in their behavioral attitudes regarding the experience of the divine. For bhakti spirituality, God is a loving person, and the devotee experiences God as a trustworthy friend, a beneficent parent, an aroused lover, or as a servant in the presence of a kindly master (to use some of the common metaphors in Krsna bhakti spirituality). Personal love is central in this sort of spirituality, and finally the experience of God as loving person is greater even than the old Atman or Brahman of the Upanisads. Moreover, the personal relationship that the believer has with the person of Krsna or Rama overcomes or sets aside all prescribed patterns of behavior or hierarchy. The believer encounters Krsna or Rama directly and immediately, and the outpouring of spontaneous emotion through singing and dance cuts through all conventional behavior. The believer in Krsna bhakti, for example, is ravished by the personal love of Lord Krsna.
Tantrika spirituality, on the other hand, has a very different tonality. For the Tantrika, ritual is much more important, and Siva (in Saiva Tantrika practice) or Visnu (in more moderate Pancaratra Tantrika practice) or the Diamond Body of the Buddha (in Buddhist Vajrayana) are never personal in the sense that Krsna is personal. Siva is utterly transcendent (visvottirna or anuttara), and there are carefully prescribed ritual hierarchies both micro-cosmically (in terms of the body) and macrocosmically (in terms of cosmic emanation) that one must follow under the careful guidance of a Guru or spiritual lineage. The characters in the "swarming pantheon" of Tantrika spirituality are hardly affectionate or loving companions. They are often, rather, fearsome and terrifying apparitions, especially perhaps the threatening female yoginis, who must be propitiated and whose fluids must be imbibed for the sake of attaining immortality and mystical powers (siddhi). Spontaneity of the believer is increasingly ruled out in favor of the spontaneity (svatantr yasakti) of the transcendent Siva with his Sakti, or the Cosmic Buddha with the Prajnaparamita ('perfection of wisdom'). System and structure are fundamental in Tantrika spirituality, and ritual performance, whether literal in erotico-ritual practice or symbolic in sublimated fantasy, becomes all encompassing, even perhaps obsessive on occasion. To be sure, in Tantrika spirituality the purely philosophical abstractions of the older systems of Indian philosophy are set aside, but the systems return with a vengeance in the uncompromising rigor of hierarchical ritual performance.
With these important distinctions in mind, that is, the two varieties of Yoga (Palanjala Yoga and Hatha Yoga), the two varieties of tantra (learned tantra and sectarian tantra), the distinction between "Vaidika" and "Tantrika," and, finally, the distinction between sectarian tantra and bhakti, let me turn now to focus specifically on the two volumes under review, Maas's Samadhipada and Mallinson's The Khecarividya of Adinatha. I shall comment on these two works from three points of view: first (I), some brief summary remarks about the contents of the two works; second (II), one or two critical questions about each of the books; and third (III), some brief remarks about philological work in general.
(I) First, then, regarding the content of the two works. Maas nicely summarizes the scope of his work in appendix II: English section (p. 165) as follows:
The present edition of the first chapter (Samadhipada) in the Patanjalayogasastra (PYS)--i.e., the Yogasutra of Patanjali with its oldest commentary, the so called Yogabhasya--is based upon the collation of 21 printed editions, and of 25 MSS in 8 scripts and from different regions of the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, a reconstruction of the basic text as commented upon in the first chapter of the Patanjalayogasastravivarana (YVi) has been used throughout as a further source. The textual witnesses are at variance in ca. 2600 cases of which about 1000 are substantial. The vast majority of readings has not been recorded in any previous edition
The first eighty-three (i-lxxxiii) pages of Maas's work include (a) a brief discussion of the authorship, title, and date of the Patanjalayogasastra, (b) a detailed description of the printed editions of the text and the handwritten MSS together with an attempt to construct stemmatic diagrams of both the printed editions (p. xxxiv) and the MSS (p. lxxii), and (c) a listing of symbols and abbreviations used in setting forth the variant readings and some introductory comments on how to interpret the critical apparatus. Thereafter follows the critical edition itself (pp. 1-87), followed by critical notes (pp. 89-112) and a bibliography. The book concludes with appendix I, a reconstruction of the basic text of the Samadhipada of the Patanjalayogasastravivarana based upon the work of Kengo Harimoto in collaboration with Maas, and appendix II: English section (primarily a brief summary in English on how to use the critical apparatus). Regarding authorship and date, Maas suggests that a certain Patanjali (not Patanjali the grammarian) is the compiler of a text entitled Patanjalayogasastra and that the best date for the original is somewhere between 325 and 425 C.E. He argues that the sutras and the bhasya make up a single text, or, in other words, that the bhasya is a svopajna-commentary (a self-commentary), and that the sutras with the bhasya were composed by a certain Patanjali. Regarding stemmatic analysis, the results are inconclusive other than to say that there is a quite old northern "Vulgate" version, which is the basis for most of the printed works of the text, which differs significantly from a southern transmission, and that the Patanjalayogasastravivarana is clearly in the southern tradition and probably, in Maas's view, represents more original readings. In constructing the critical edition, Maas clearly favors the Vivarana readings over the Vulgate readings.
Mallinson likewise nicely summarizes the scope of his work (p. 3):
The Khecarividya is a dialogue between Siva and his consort, Devi. It calls itself a tantra and consists of 284 verses divided into four patalas. In the colophons of its manuscripts its authorship is ascribed to Adinatha, the first of the gurus of the Natha order, who is usually identified with Siva. The first patala (11 verses) starts with praise of the text itself, followed by a coded description of the khecarimantra and detailed instructions for the key physical practice of the text. This practice is called khecarimudra, and involves the freeing and lengthening of the tongue of the yogin in order that it might be turned back and inserted above the soft palate to break through the brahmadvara, the door of Brahma, so that the yogin can drink the amrta, the nectar of immortality, which is stored behind it. The second patala (124 verses) describes the different kalas in the body where amrta is stored. ... The third patala (69 verses) describes practices involving the insertion of the tongue into the abode of Brahma and the raising of Kundalini in order to flood the body with amrta and defeat death by temporarily or permanently leaving the body. The short fourth patala (14 verses) describes herbal preparations which can effect various magical results (siddhis) for the yogin.
Mallinson's work overall contains five basic sections: (a) an introductory section (pp. 3-16) that discusses the date of the text (1400 C.E. or earlier) and the manuscript "witnesses," namely, some twenty-two Khecarividya MSS, three MSS of the Matsyendrasamhita, a MS in Grantha script from Pondicherry, a paper MS from the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and MSS of the Yogakundalyupanisad, together with a stemmatic diagram (p. II); (b) a short section (pp. 17-33) giving a brief history of the khecarimudra in the Pali Canon, early Sanskrit texts, and the later texts of tantric Saivism; (c) a longer section (pp. 35-64) describing in detail the various MSS; (d) the critical edition of the text in Devanagari script (pp. 67-113); and (e) an English translation of the Khecarividya (pp. 117-36). Three appendices provide verses from other works and citations to works mentioned in the commentary on Khecarividya, the Brhatkhecariprakasa by Ballala. The book concludes with just under eighty pages of detailed and highly informative notations, a short bibliography, a pada index to the text, and an index. Mallinson points out that the Khecarividya is cited in part or extensively in other Hatha Yoga texts. For example, the second adhyaya of the Yogakundaly-upanisad is nearly identical with the first patala of the Khecarividya, and all four patalas of the Khecarividya are included in the Matsyendrasamhita. It would appear, then, according to Mallinson, that the Khecarividya was not originally a separate text. It was extracted from various other Hatha Yoga texts for the sake of having a single text focusing on khecarimudra, a text that later becomes an authoritative text of the Natha Yoga tradition.
(II) Second, let me raise a couple of brief critical questions or concerns about each of these works. Regarding the work of Maas, I am inclined to ask two critical questions. The first has to do with the lack of any discussion of the other three padas of the Yogasutrapatha and the Vyasa bhasya. Surely a critical reading of the Samadhipada cannot be persuasively established without some reference to the composition of the Patanjalayogasastra as a whole. To be sure, one cannot do everything, but there should have been at least some discussion about the totality of the text.
Let me cite one puzzling example. Maas wants to argue that the Patanjalayogasastravivarana commentary is an old, perhaps the oldest commentary, on the Yogasastra, but there is an anomaly that appears at the outset of the Vivarana text itself. The Vivaranakara begins his commentary with a discussion of the utility (prayojana) of the Yogasastra in terms of medical science (cikitsa-sastra), but there is no apparent reference either in the first sutra or the first prose portion of the commentary (that is, the so-called Vyasa bhasya) to medical science or to the usual conventional openings of sastras. As Vacaspatimisra noted in his opening comment on YS 1.1 and the so-called Vyasa bhasya in his Tattvavaisaradi, the conventional matters that appear at the outset in sastras are specifically not mentioned in the Yogasastra. In pada II, however, and specifically under YS 11.15 (and see p. 168 of the P. S. R. Sastri and S. R. Sastri edition of the Vivarana [1952, Madras Government Oriental Series, no. 94]) not only is there a reference in the Vyasa bhasya to medical science, but the reference is almost a word-for-word repeat of the opening comment of the Vivarana. However one might wish to resolve this sort of puzzle, the matter cannot be solved without going beyond the first book of the Yogasastra. Of somewhat greater concern, however, is the lack of mention of T. S. Rukmani's arguments that the Vivarana commentary is neither a commentary by the great Samkara nor is it very old (T. S. Rukmani, tr., Yogasutrabhasyavivarana of Samkara, 2 vols. [New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2001]; see vol. 1, ix-xxx and vol. 2, 212-22 for discussions of the problem of authorship). Rukmani has written extensively regarding what she considers to be the Vivarana's dependence on Vacaspatimisra's Tattvavaisaradi. Whether one agrees with Rukmani or not, the matter requires careful discussion. Maas does in passing mention Gelblum's work (Tuvia Gelblum, "Notes on an English Translation of the Yogasutrabhasyavivarana," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 55 (1992): 76-89), which also does not accept the Vivarana as an original work of Samkara. In addition to Rukmani and Gelblum, A. Wezler and W. Halbfass have likewise expressed considerable skepticism about the authorship and date of the Vivarana. (See Larson and Bhattacharya, Yoga, pp. 53-54 and p. 71 for summary accounts of the various views.) The matter has clearly not been satisfactorily resolved.
I am puzzled as to why Maas has not taken up this important scholarly debate, especially since the matters of authorship and date of the Vivarana are clearly important if the Vivarana's readings are to be taken seriously in establishing a critical edition. Thus, to cite just two quick examples, on YS I.45 suksma-visayatvam calingparyavasanam, the Vyasa text in the Vulgate that reads parthivasyanor gandhatanmatram suksmo visayah. ... is a much more plausible reading than parthivasyanor gandhamatram suksmo visayah. ... in the Vivarana reading accepted by Maas in his critical edition, given the obviously classical Samkhya orientation of the text. Similarly at YS 1.2 yogas cittavrttinirodhah, the Vyasa text in the Vulgate concludes citisaktir aparinaminy apratisamkrama darsitavisaya suddha ca ananta ca, sattvagunatmika ca iyam ato viparita vivekakhyatir iti ..., meaning something like "on the one hand, there is consciousness (citisakti), which does not change, which has no intermixture, to which objects are presented, and which is pure and eternal, and, on the other hand, there is the realization of discrimination, constituted by the guna, sattva, that is opposite from that." In other words, the passage clearly stresses the thoroughgoing dualism between citi-sakti and vivekakhyati. Maas's critical edition reading, which for the most part follows the Vivarana, however, reads cicchaktir aparinaminy, apratisamkrama, darsitavisaya, suddhdnantasattva, purussatmika seyam, ato viparita vivekakhyatih. ..." I am not quite sure how Maas would construe this, since, of course, he does not provide a translation of the text, but clearly his reading of the Sanskrit appears to undercut the clear dualist understanding in the Vulgate in favor of a possible non-dualist (Vedanta-tending) reading of the passage.
Regarding the work of Mallinson, I would likewise raise a few critical questions. I find myself wondering, first of all, why this text is important as a distinct text in Hatha Yoga or in tantric Saivism. Since most of its verses are extracted from other works and since discussions of khecarimudra are generally well known in other Hatha Yoga works, one wonders why this particular extract is significant. Admittedly it is accepted as an authoritative work of the Natha Yoga tradition, and I suppose that one might make the case for the importance of the text in terms of writing the history of the Natha sect. I also wonder why the Khecarividya makes no reference to "flying," which is often considered to be a salient feature of "khe-cari-vidya," which David Gordon White actually translates (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) as "The Aviator's Science; or The Arcane Science of Flight" (in The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India [Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1996], 169). To be sure, Mallinson has a lengthy note (pp. 183-84, n. 113) about the absence of flying in his edition of Khecarividya, but finally simply notes that the text does not mention flying. One possible explanation might be that the so-called "void" in the cranium that is supposedly experienced when the bent-back tongue releases the amrta (or transformed semen) as a result of practicing the khecarimudra may give rise to the fantasy of flying, but I do not recall seeing any discussion along these lines in Mallinson's work. I also have many questions about the use of terms in Mallinson's work, including "tantric Saivism," tantra, hathayoga, mudra, mantra, and, of course, the simple term yoga itself. Terms are not sufficiently defined, either conceptually or historically; hence, many traditions and notions are run together. Typical is his comment (p. 184, n. 116): "Although I distinguish between tantric Saivism and hathayoga, and between the texts of both, it should be stressed that there is no clear-cut division between the two." In my view, there are clear-cut distinctions among many of these notions, as I have tried to indicate in the earlier portion of this review. Hatha Yoga is clearly distinct from tantric Saivism and is found in Vaisnava, Sakta, Buddhist, and even Jaina contexts. Likewise Hatha Yoga is dramatically distinct from Patanjala Yoga. Finally, Mallinson's presentation of the English translation of the Khecarividya would be much more useful, at least to Sanskritists, who after all are the prime audience for this work, if he had either had the Sanskrit and English on facing pages throughout or, at least, had numbered the lines of the English rendering to match the numbering of the Sanskrit verses.
(III) Let me conclude this review with a comment about a possible problem I see with this sort of philological work. Both Maas and Mallinson present detailed philological analyses of two important Sanskrit texts, but unfortunately both texts float in an intellectual vacuum in which philology so dominates the discourse that the intellectual significance or lack thereof of the texts being critically edited is dealt with in a completely perfunctory manner or, indeed, is nearly overlooked. To be sure, each work has a short section regarding the meaning of their respective texts, pp. xii-xix in the case of Maas's book, and pp. 17-33 in Mallinson's book, but the overwhelming bulk of their work, some 180 printed pages in the case of Maas and some 300 pages in the case of Mallinson, is given over to establishing the proposed critical reading of the Sanskrit (in the case of Maas's work) and the proposed critical reading of the Sanskrit together with an annotated English translation (in the case of Mallinson's work) along with detailed notations of variants, elaborate descriptions of printed and handwritten manuscripts, stemmatic diagrams of the relations among the various printed texts and manuscripts, and extensive philological notations.
Let me be clear regarding my concern here. Both Maas and Mallinson are to be highly commended for their incredibly detailed and precise research. As we all know, serious philological research is the beginning of most of the important research in South Asian studies. When all of this detailed work has been accomplished, however, one would think that Maas and Mallinson would be in a position to discuss at length the significance of what they have accomplished, but evidently they have decided to stay within the confines of philology and not to venture into the broader area of interpreting the philosophical, historical, anthropological, and religious significance of what they have critically edited. This, in my view, is a great pity. They could not have critically edited what they have studied without knowing a great deal about the larger framework in which their texts have flourished. The extensive bibliographies in their respective works give clear evidence of extensive reading in South Asian studies. One would expect, then, that some of the major questions about their texts would receive definitive answers. Both clearly have the expertise to offer authoritative interpretations regarding the history of the traditions in which they work, and more than that, the intellectual significance of the texts that they have critically edited. I am inclined to suggest that publication of this sort of philological work would have a more meaningful impact if it were reconfigured. In other words, the books might begin with a detailed original essay setting forth the historical, conceptual, social, and religious significance of the texts that have been critically edited, followed by two appendices that document the introductory essay--the first, the actual critical edition and accompanying translation, and the second, the various MS descriptions, stemmatic diagrams, and philological notations.
This is a review article of: Samadhipada: Das erste Kapitel des Patanjalayogasastra zum ersten Mat kritisch ediert. The First Chapter of the Patanjalayogasastra for the First Time Critically Edited. By PHILIPP ANDRE MAAS. Geisteskultur Indiens. Texte und Studien, vol. 9. Aachen: SHAKER VERLAG, 2006. Pp. lxxxiii + 179. [euro] 42.80; and The Khecarividya of Adinatha: A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of an Early Text of Hathayoga. By JAMES MALLINSON. Routledge Studies in Tantric Traditions. London: ROUTLEDGE, 2007. Pp. viii + 299. $125.
GERALD JAMES LARSON
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA
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|Author:||Larson, Gerald James|
|Publication:||The Journal of the American Oriental Society|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2009|
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