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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 47  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 30-36

Yoga in the works of Ādi Śaṅkāracārya

Department of Moral and Social Sciences, Tilak Maharashtra University, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication9-Dec-2016

Correspondence Address:
Niranjana H Bhate
A/502, Nisarg Kiran Society, Krishna nagari, Nakhate vasti, Rahatani, Pune, Maharashtra
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DOI: 10.4103/0044-0507.195457

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Context: Ādi Śaṅkāracārya was an exponent of Advaita Vedānta philosophy. It is well-known that he preached Jñāna Yoga or the path of knowledge for attainment of liberation. However, very few people are aware of the fact that Ādi Śaṅkāracārya has mentioned various methods or types of yoga for liberation depending on the dispositions of the aspirants. Study of his unpopular works reveal this fact.
Aim: The aim of this paper is to present various types of yoga discussed in the works of Ādi Śaṅkāracārya.
Method: A descriptive method of analyzing arguments is used because of the philosophico-literary nature of the study.
Result: Ādi Śaṅkāracārya has stated various types of yoga such as Bhakti Yoga, Rāja Yoga, Haṭha Yoga, and Tantra Yoga as a means to Jñāna Yoga.
Conclusion: Study of Ādi Śaṅkāracārya's work reveals that Bhakti Yoga, Rāja Yoga Haṭha Yoga, and Tantra Yoga are a means to knowledge or Jñāna Yoga for the attainment of emancipation.

Keywords: Advaita Ved, Śaṅkāracārya, yoga

How to cite this article:
Bhate NH. Yoga in the works of Ādi Śaṅkāracārya. Yoga Mimamsa 2015;47:30-6

How to cite this URL:
Bhate NH. Yoga in the works of Ādi Śaṅkāracārya. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jul 3];47:30-6. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Ādi Śaṅkarācārya (788-820 AD) was an exponent of Advaita Vedānta philosophy. It is well-known that he presented Jñāna Yoga or the path of knowledge for attainment of liberation. A study of his unpopular works reveals the fact that he also mentioned Bhakti Yoga, Rāja Yoga, Haṭha Yoga and Tantra Yoga as a means to this knowledge. Very few people are aware about these types of yoga mentioned by him. Thus, it was necessary to present this fact to the lovers of Advaita Vedānta philosophy and of yoga.

  Aim Top

The aim of this paper is to present the various types of yoga discussed in the works of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya.

  Method Top

A descriptive method of analyzing arguments is used because of the philosophico- literary nature of the study. Primary sources include the original texts such as Prapañca sāra tantra and others, whereas the secondary sources include the English translations of texts such as Aparokşānubhūti, Vivekacūdāmaṇi, Sarva Vedānta Siddhānta Sārasańgraha, Ātmabodha, Dŗkdŗşyaviveka, Sādhana Pañcakam, Bhagavad Gītā bhāṣya, Yogatārāvali, Nārada Bhakti Sūtra, Haṭhapradīpīkā, The Yoga of Patañjali, Saundaryalahari; Marathi translations of Sadācāra and Harīmiḍe and Hindi translation of Prabodha Sudhākara. Aparokşānubhūti, Vivekacūdāmaṇi, Sarva Vedānta Siddhānta Sārasańgraha, and Sādhana Pañcakam are referred for the discussion of the ethical base of yoga. Bhakti Yoga is discussed by referring to Prabodha Sudhākara. Under the discussion of Rāja Yoga, fifteen-fold yoga is described by referring to Aparokşānubhūti, whereas Samādhi part is stated by referring to Sarva Vedānta Siddhānta Sārasańgraha and Dŗkdŗşyaviveka. Yogatārāvali is referred for the discussion of Hatha Yoga. Saundaryalahari and Prapañca sāra tantra are referred only to mention Tantra Yoga. Detailed discussion of Tantra Yoga is not done. Remaining sources are referred occasionally in the article.

  Result Top

Ādi Śaṅkarācārya has stated various types of yoga such as Bhakti Yoga, Rāja Yoga, Haṭha Yoga and Tantra Yoga as a means to Jñāna Yoga.

  Discussion Top

Ādi Śaṅkarācārya did not preach a single method of liberation but provided different means of emancipation to satisfy different tendencies of the human mind. The present article includes a discussion of all these types of yoga, as given in the works of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya.

Ādi Śaṅkarācārya's philosophy of Advaita Vedānta considers Brahman as the ultimate reality. Its nature is sat (real), cit (consciousness), and ānanda (bliss). Jīva, the empirical self, is ātman in association with ignorance. Jīva is the Brahman (Radhakrishnan, 2008). According to Radhakrishnan (2008), Śaṅkarācārya declares in many passages that the nature of liberation is a state of oneness with Brahman. Realization of the identity with the infinite reality, Brahman is the final end of life; it is the supreme state of joy and peace and the perfection of individual development (Radhakrishnan, 2008).

Ādi Śaṅkarācārya has mentioned various ways to attain liberation. They are as follows:

Path of liberation: In Vivekacūdāmaṇi (VC) (Shankaracharya, 1973), verse (v.) 48, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya states that according to the śruti (the Veda);, faith, devotion, meditation, and yoga are the direct means to liberation. In Harīmiḍe (HM) (Shankaracharya, 1942), v. 24, it is mentioned that knowledge of God can be attained by the practice of faith, devotion, meditation, and śama or control of mind. Prabodha Sudhākara (PBS) (Shankaracharya, 1993), v. 5 states that vairāgya (detachment), self-knowledge and devotion are the means to liberation. Sarva Vedānta Siddhānta Sārasańgraha (SVD) v. 845, 170, and Ātmabodha (AB) v. 2 (Shankaracharya, 1970, 1947), mention that liberation can be attained only by knowledge. From these statements, it is clear that he mentions various methods for liberation. They are vairāgya or detachment, faith, control of mind i.e. practice of virtues, devotion i.e., Bhakti Yoga, dhyāna or meditation, and yoga i.e. Rāja Yoga and knowledge. In addition to this, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya has also mentioned a sequence to attain liberation in his commentary of Chapter XII, verse 10 of the Bhagavad Gītā (Sastry, 1977). He states “Even if thou doest mere actions for My sake without practicing yoga, thou shalt attain perfection;- thou shalt first attain purity of mind, then yoga or steadfastness, then knowledge, and then perfection (mokṣa).” Thus, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya gives us the various methods of liberation along with its sequence. Before discussing these methods of yoga in detail, it is necessary to mention the ethical base as prescribed by him. According to Radhakrishnan (2008), Ādi Śaṅkarācārya attaches great importance to philosophical wisdom, which can be attained only through a practice of virtues that brings about the rise of knowledge. They are as follows:

Practice of virtues: Ādi Śaṅkarācārya developed a system with a strong ethical foundation. He introduced the practice of Sādhana catuṣṭya, the four preliminary qualifications as a means to attain knowledge. They are Vairāgya (detachment), Viveka (discrimination), Śamādiṣaṭsampatti (six treasures such as control of mind and the like) and Mumukṣutva (yearning for liberation from the bondage of ignorance). They are discussed in his work Aparokşānubhūti (AP) (Shankaracharya, 1938) as follows:

1. Vairāgya: Indifference to the worldly objects of pleasure from the realm of Brahman to this world like the indifference toward the excreta of a crow is called as vairāgya. In SVD (Shankaracharya, 1970) vs. 796-797, it is mentioned that the person who has faith, devotion, has acted as per the order of the scriptures in the previous births, and also has preliminary qualifications like discrimination, non-attachment etc., such a person with intense detachment or dispassion attains the knowledge of the Brahman immediately after mere listening to the preaching of brahmavidyā from the right teacher.

2. Viveka: It is having a firm conviction that all worldly things are transient and nothing is permanent except ātman.

3. Śamādiṣaṭsampatti:

Śama: It means control and one-pointedness (concentration) of mind so that it becomes calm and steady.

Dama: It means control of sense organs.

Titikṣā: It means endurance of all types of suffering.

Uparati: It means renunciation of all karmas or turning away from all sense objects.

Śraddhā: It is faith in the teachings of the Vedas and the teacher.

Samādhāna: One pointedness or concentration of mind on the Brahman is called as Samādhāna.

4. Mumukṣutva: It is the burning desire to be free from the bonds of the cycle of birth and death.

Vivekacūdāmaṇi (VC) (Shankaracharya, 1973) v. 33 mentions that the person endowed with these qualifications should humbly approach the teacher who has attained the self-knowledge and from whom alone release from bondage is sure to be attained. Arising of the supreme wisdom and destruction of saṃsāra (cycle of worldly existence) is possible only from the inquiry into the meaning of Vedānta texts. V. 11 and 12 of AP (Shankaracharya, 1938) state that the nature of the inquiry should be such as, “Who am I?, How is this world created?, Who is its creator?, Of what material is this world made?”

Sarva Vedānta Siddhānta Sārasańgraha (SVD) (Shankaracharya, 1970) verses (vs.) 811-814 describe further steps. They are Śravaṇa, Manana, and Nididhyāsana. Śravaṇa means to listen and study Vedānta statements. Manana means reflecting on the teachings of the right teacher. Nididhyāsana means a continuous flow of similar mental states, united with self; like that of the continuous stream of oil.

Other virtues mentioned in VC (Shankaracharya, 1973) vs. 84, 298, 314, 318, 322, are contentment, compassion, forbearance, truth, straight-forwardness, calmness, and self-control. One should get rid of ego, desires, vāsanās (lustful tendencies), slackness, pramāda (carelessness), and worries.

Sādhana Pañcakam (Shankaracharya, 2005) also describes some rules of conduct such as regular study of the Vedas, performing the duties diligently, firm devotion to the higher power, renunciation of karmas and leaving home, company of wise and virtuous people, surrender and service to the right teacher, worship of “Om,” taking alms' food, avoiding unnecessary arguments, maintaining cheerful attitude, living in solitude, observing silence, and meditating on all-pervading Self.

After the discussion of the ethical base, the various methods of yoga are described as follows:

Bhakti Yoga: Devarşhi Nārada in his Bhakti Sūtras (Swami Chinmayanand, 2000) defines bhakti to be of the nature of supreme love towards the higher power. He also states that bhakti is an end in itself and is superior to liberation. Ādi Śaṅkarācārya defines bhakti as contemplation of one's own nature in VC (Shankaracharya, 1973) in v. 32. Prabodha Sudhākara (PBS) (Shankaracharya, 1993) is one of his most beautiful works that states that the mind becomes pure by devotion to the higher power. In PBS (Shankaracharya, 1993), he describes devotion to the higher power in detail. Devotion is of two types. They are sṭhūla (gross) and sūkśma (subtle). The devotee has to practice the sṭhūla devotion first so that it further results into the sūkśma one. Gross devotion includes performing one's duties, devotion to the higher power, association with devotees, visiting holy places, practicing truthfulness, non-slandering, non-stealing, and celibacy. Practice of sṭhūla bhakti results into subtle bhakti. It constitutes devotion to the higher power by mental imagination, living in solitude, truthfulness, seeing divinity in all beings, and non-hatred which results in compassion. Further, it includes contentment, non-attachment toward family, lack of ego and anger, sweet speech, happy disposition, equanimity, fearlessness, not giving much importance to sleep and food, avoiding meaningless talk, always remaining quiet by reflecting on divinity, and experiencing bliss while listening to divine music. The divine power or the Paramātmā resides in the heart of all beings, and is of the nature of existence, consciousness, and bliss. It is sākār (with form) and also nirākāra (formless). PBS (Shankaracharya, 1993) mentions meditation on the image of Kriṣṇā, a form of divine power in Hindu mythology, in the following manner:

One should visualize Kriṣṇā sitting with legs crossed under the Kalpataru (wish yielding tree) in the Vrundāvana (a place), near the banks of the river Yamunā. He is with dark complexion like a rain cloud and is dressed in yellow silky garment. His body is anointed with the paste of sandalwood and camphor. He is with large eyes and smiling lotus face and is adorned with divine ornaments. One should contemplate on Kriṣṇā, who is having his midday meal with his cowherd playmates in the garden. One should also meditate on Kriṣṇā, who is the giver of the highest bliss. His lotus feet are attended by the sacred river, Ganges. He is encircled by hundreds of Kāmadhenus (wish-fulfilling cows). He is the most beautiful wish-fulfiller, and the ocean of compassion. By meditating in this manner the mind becomes pure and calm. Thus, according to Ādi Śaṅkāracārya, Bhakti Yoga helps in the purification of mind.

Rāja Yoga: Sage Patañjali defines yoga as a restraint of mental states (Yardi, 1979). Ādi Śaṅkarācārya defines yoga in SVD (Shankaracharya, 1970) v. 909 as the state of Nirvikalpa Samādhi, in which all the mental states are stilled and there is complete tranquility. Then, one has to renounce all actions to attain perfection or liberation; a state of oneness with the Brahman. He has defined the eight-fold Yoga of Patañjali in Advaita style and presented fifteen-fold yoga in SVD (Shankaracharya, 1970). In AP (Shankaracharya, 1938) v. 144, he states that the fifteen-step Rāja Yoga is for those aspirants who are with very pure and mature mind. He also had described six types of samādhi, obstacles in the samādhi, and stages of spiritual development. These are described in this section. He discusses fifteen-fold yoga in Aparokşānubhūti (AP) (Shankaracharya, 1938) also. Swami Vimuktananda (Shankaracharya, 1938) mentions that verses 89–98 in AP also occur with slight variation in Nādbindu Upaniṣad and verses 102–126 in AP occur in Tejobindu Upaniṣad that describes fifteen steps of yoga. They are as follows:

Yama (Restraint): It is the restraint of all senses with the knowledge that “All this is Brahman.”

Niyama (Observances): It is a continuous flow of similar kind of mental states. It results into the supreme bliss.

Tyāga (Renunciation): It means the realization that the external world is illusory and not real, ātman is the real, and all is Brahman.

Mauna (Silence): It does not mean restraint of speech. It is the state in which the aspirant is always one with the silence of the ātman from where words in the mind turn back. This state is indescribable.

Deśa (Secluded place): It is not the place where human beings do not exist. It is the secluded space pervaded by non-dual Brahman.

Kāla (Time): It is the non-dual, blissful Brahman denoted by the term “time,” because it brings into existence all beings from Brahmā onward within the twinkling of an eye.

Āsana (Posture): It is the easy and comfortable posture in which continuous meditation on the Brahman is attained.

Mūlabandha: It is the posture fit for the Rājayogi. He should adopt restraint of the mind in the Brahman, which is the root of all the existences.

Dehasāmya (Equipoise of limbs): It is the absorption in the uniform Brahman. It is not mere straightening of the body like a dried-up tree.

Dṛkasṭhiti (Noble vision): Looking at the tip of the nose is not the supreme vision. The vision full of the knowledge that the world is Brahman itself or the vision in which there is no distinction between the seer, seen, and the sight.

Prāṇasaṃyamana (Breath control): Reflecting that the citta and related modifications are Brahman and restraining of the mental states is known as prāṇasaṃyamana. Recaka or exhalation means negation of the phenomenal world. Pūraka or inhalation means “I am Brahman” mental state. Kumbhaka or retention of breath means steady “I am Brahman” mental state. This is the real cause of enlightenment. Otherwise, the ignorant tortures the nose.

Pratyāhāra: The absorption of the mind in the supreme consciousness by realizing ātman in all objects is called as pratyāhāra.

Dhāraṇā (Concentration): It is realization of the Brahman by the mind wherever the mind goes. It is known as parādhāraṇā or the supreme dhāraṇā.

Ātmadhyāna (Meditation): It is remaining in the unassailable mental state of “I am Brahman,” and is without any supporting object of meditation.

Samādhi (Contemplation): It is the mental state free from all thoughts and modifications, and there is identification with the Brahman. The aspirant should practice such blissful samādhi until he attains perfection in it so that he can come out of it whenever he wants. Such Yogirāṭ, or the best yogi who has attained perfection, is free from any further practice.

Ādi Śaṅkarācārya mentions six types of samādhi and discusses them in detail in SVD (Shankaracharya, 1970) and Dŗkdŗşyaviveka (DDV) (Shankaracharya, 1931). Bhave (2004) also explains them very beautifully. In SVD and DDV (Shankaracharya, 1970, 1931), he begins with the description of the two types of samādhi. They are Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa, that is, conscious and super conscious contemplation, respectively. In the Savikalpa samādhi, there is knowledge of the Brahman. It is subject to modification because there is distinction of the knower, knowledge, and the known. In it one has yet to establish complete identification with the Brahman which one contemplates. In the Nirvikalpa samādhi, there is no distinction of the knower, knowledge, and the known. The idea of the knower is completely cast off. One is completely established in that which one contemplates. The aspirant should practice both the types of samādhi until all vikalpa or wrong ideas are removed and the highest knowledge is attained.

Savikalpa samādhi is again of two types. They are Dṛśyānuviddha samādhi (associated with the cognizable objects) and Śabdānuviddha samādhi (associated with sound). Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa samādhi are practiced within the heart or internally as well as externally. Thus, in all there are six types of samādhi (Shankaracharya, 1970, 1931). The six types of samādhi are discussed in detail.

The three samādhi practiced in the heart (internally) are:

Dṛśyānuviddha Savikalpa Samādhi: Kāma (desire), krodha (anger), etc., are the mental states arising in the mind. One should remain witness to these mental states.

Śabdānuviddha Savikalpa Samādhi: One begins with the concept “I am the witness of the desires that arise in me.” Then, step by step one realizes as pointed out by the śruti (the Veda), “I am existence, consciousness, bliss, unattached, self-luminous and free from duality.” In this way, one should meditate upon the ātman with entire devotion so that one attains Śabdānuviddha Savikalpa Samādhi associated with the words of the śruti. One who practices Savikalpa Samādhi for a long time is fit to attain Nirvikalpa Samādhi.

Nirvikalpa Samādhi: In this Samādhi, the mind becomes steady like a non-flickering flame of the lamp kept in a place free from the wind. The aspirant becomes indifferent to the objects and sounds. He is completely absorbed in the silence and bliss of the realization of the self.

The three samādhi practiced externally are:

Dṛśyānuviddha Savikalpa Samādhi: The supreme Brahman is of the nature of existence, knowledge, and bliss. The name and form are superimposed upon it by the ignorant. This superimposition causes duality and the ignorant experiences the universe. Thus, there are five entities viz., existence, knowledge, bliss, name, and form. A man of renunciation should practice Dṛśyānuviddha Savikalpa Samādhi by separating name and form from the Brahman in order to realize the Brahman, which is of the nature of existence, consciousness, and bliss. One should concentrate on the external objects such as the Sun.

Śabdānuviddha Savikalpa Samādhi: One should reflect uninterruptedly that the Brahman is always of the same nature of existence, consciousness, and bliss and unlimited by space and time The wise man who constantly practices this samādhi, knows all the time, whether he is walking, standing or lying down, that the universe of name and form is none other than the Brahman, who is the substratum of all. One should meditate reflecting as “I am Brahman, the non-dual supreme bliss, whose nature is subtle and is pure existence.” This is Śabdānuviddha Savikalpa Samādhi. When one meditates in this manner, his mind is established in the Brahman.

Nirvikalpa Samādhi: That firm state in which the intellect is absorbed in the bliss of the Brahman and is identified with the nature of the Brahman is known as Nirvikalpa Samādhi. In this state, because of the experience of the bliss, one's mind is not conscious of the external world. He further describes obstacles in the samādhi in SVD (Shankaracharya, 1970) vs. 922–923. They are anusandhāna rāhitya (lack of inquiry), ālasya (idleness), bhogalālasā (lust), bhaya (fear), tamasa (ignorance), vikśepa (distraction), tejaspandana (tremor of body), and feeling of voidness. In the Aparokshanubhuti (AP) (Shankaracharya, 1938) vs. 127–128, the list is little different. It includes lack of inquiry, idleness, lust, laya (sleep), tama (ignorance), vikśep a, rasāsvāda (joy), and śūnyatā (voidness). One who desires the knowledge of the Brahman should avoid these obstacles by being alert, sincere, and restraining the senses.

SVD and DDV (Shankaracharya, 1970, 1931) vs. 901–905 and vs. 30–31, respectively, mention that one should constantly practice all these types of samādhi while standing, walking, or lying down until all the vikalpa or wrong ideas and attachment to the body are completely removed. Then, there is the uninterrupted realization of the supreme self. All doubts are removed, all the karma and afflictions are destroyed, and one is Jīvanamukta or liberated. By constant meditation, the flame of knowledge is kindled. It completely burns up the fuel of ignorance. The yogi, who is completely enlightened, sees through the eyes of knowledge the entire universe in his own self and regards everything as self and nothing else. VC (Shankaracharya, 1973) vs. 361 mentions that the knowledge of the Brahman is possible by very subtle mental states of samādhi. Thus, Rāja Yoga is a means to attain knowledge.

Planes of consciousness

Ādi Śaṅkarācārya describes seven planes of consciousness or stages of spiritual development in SVD (Shankaracharya, 1970) vs. 938–948. They are as follows:

Śubhecchā (Goodwill): It is the will or the desire to learn the scriptures.

Vicāraṇā (Inquiry): It constitutes the company of virtuous people or sages, practice of virtues, and non-attachment.

Tanumānasi: As a result of the practice of first two stages, one develops non-attachment towards the sense objects.

Sattvāpatti: In this stage, all attachment towards the sense objects is completely removed. So, cittā becomes pure and attains oneness with the sattvā or ātman.

Asaṃsakti: In this stage, because of illumined sattvā, the yogi does not wish to associate with any one and remains aloof.

Padārthābhāvanā: When one practices the above-mentioned five stages constantly for a longer time, one remains absorbed in the self and is not conscious of the external or internal objects.

Tūryagā: As a result of prolonged practice of the above-mentioned six stages, all duality is lost and one is established in one's own ultimate true nature.

The above-mentioned stages exist in different planes of knowledge. The first three stages viz. Śubhecchā, Vicāraṇā, and Tanumānasi can be compared with the waking state of consciousness. The yogi in these stages is aware of the duality of the phenomenal world. When the yogi rises in the fourth stage known as Sattvāpatti, all duality comes to an end. This stage is like the dream state. The yogi who rises in the fifth stage of Asaṃsakti remains absorbed in non-duality. It is as if he enters into a deep sleep state. In the sixth stage Padārthābhāvanā, because of the constant practice of inwardness, the yogi appears to remain in the state of deep sleep. Because of the constant practice of the sixth stage, the best among the yogis (Yogirāj a) rightly gets rid of all desires and gradually ascends to the seventh stage of consciousness known as Tūryagā. Beyond this is the state of Videhamukti. There is neither ego nor non-ego. The yogi is free from fear and all intellectual ideation. He/She remains in the absolute non-duality.

Other methods of concentration

PBS (Shankaracharya, 1993) v. 160 states that one attains the bliss of non-duality when the mind becomes steady in the pure consciousness that exists in the interval between the end of the waking state and beginning of the deep sleep state. Similar practice is mentioned in Sadācāra (SD) (Shankaracharya, 2010) vs. 8–10. It suggests that one should practice the restraint of prāṇa and apāna vāyu or vital air and keep the mind steady in the Brahman. The interval between the arising mental state and dissolving mental state is of the nature of Brahman. One should meditate on this Brahman or interval. It also explains that, in the bodies of all beings, continuously arises the sound, “So-ham.” One, who experiences it, is liberated. Thus, concentration on self, vital air, Brahman, and internal sound is suggested.

Haṭha Yoga: Digambar & Kokaje (1998) in Haṭhapradīpīkā state, “The term Haṭha is composed of the two syllables 'Ha' and 'ṭha,' of which the former means the sun and the latter the moon. Svātmārāma does not seem to draw a hard and fast line between Haṭha Yoga and Rāja Yoga. Rāja Yoga is the mental and Haṭha Yoga is the bodily side of one and the same discipline called yoga, here Haṭha Yoga.” They also state in Haṭhapradīpīkā (Digambar & Kokaje, 1998, p. xxiv) that, “Haṭha Yoga is practiced for attainment of Rāja Yoga.” Āsana, Kumbhaka, Mudrā and Nādānusandhāna are the four components and correct sequence in the practice of Haṭha Yoga (Digambar & Kokaje, 1998). Ādi Śaṅkarācārya mentions in AP (Shankaracharya, 1938) v. 144, that the fifteen-step Rāja Yoga is for those aspirants who are with very pure and mature mind. However, the aspirants without very pure and mature mind and who are with worldly desires have to practice this Rāja Yoga along with the Haṭha Yoga. He discusses the Haṭha Yoga and Rāja Yoga in the Yogatārāvali (YT) (Shankaracharya, 2004). In it, he explains the practice of nādānusandhāna or contemplation associated with the nāda or sound. When there is kumbhaka or retention of breath accompanied by the inhalation and exhalation, all nāḍīs or channels of prāṇa or vital are purified and anāhata, the internal sound, is experienced. This process is further described in detail. When three types of bandhas, viz., jālandhara, uḍḍiyāna, and mūlabandha in the throat, abdomen, and anus, respectively, are practiced, the kuṇḍalīni or serpent power is awakened, the vital air enters through suṣumnā nāḍī or the central nerve upwards, and there after the ambrosia flows from the moon in the brahmarandhra (an aperture in the crown of the head) due to the constant compression of air called as apāna. Prolonged practice of three bandhas results in the keval kumbhaka state, in which all activities of mind and prāṇa completely stop and is bereft of exhalation and inhalation. In the keval kumbhaka state, the mind remains steady in the space of trikuṭa (space between the eye brows) and prāṇa abandons the īḍā

or lunar and piṅgalā or solar nāḍīs. Part of this prāṇa withdrawn by the keval kumbhaka is consumed up by awakened kuṇḍalīni and then gradually dissolves in the supreme state known as Viṣṇupada. Continuous practice of keval kumbhaka results into nonfunctioning of the senses and dissolution of prāṇa. It is known as marullaya.

When the muni (sage) is unattached to the phenomenal world and uproots the sequence of saṅkalpas (conceptions), his mind gradually attains peace and he attains unmanī or Manonmanī state. In this state, the muni's body becomes motionless, eyes are half opened, is without breath, and his mind is free of all conceptions and resolves. Then he attains Amanaska mudrā. Because of the complete destruction of the root of resolves, conceptions, and karmas, the yogi experiences Yoganidrā. There are three states of existence. They are Jāgṛta (waking), Svapna (dream) and Suṣupti (deep sleep). This Yoganidrā is beyond all three states of existence (waking, dream, and deep sleep). It is the tūrīya (pure consciousness) or the fourth state in which the supreme self shines forth and ignorance is completely destroyed. Such yogi with pure vision never experiences the phenomenal world at all. Ādi Śaṅkarācārya also mentions about nādānusandhāna in the PBS (Shankaracharya, 1993) vs. 148, 149, and 144. He states that when one reflects on the self even for half of a moment, he hears the sound known as anāhata. When the mind is permanently absorbed in the light, that is, in the anāhata sound, one is liberated. This nādānusandhāna is the best means to attain dissolution of mind.

Tantra and Mantra Yoga: The word “Tantra” is derived from the root “Tana,” meaning “to spread” and “Tra” means “To save.” Thus, “Tantra” means the technique which saves or serves us by spreading and or expanding our consciousness or knowledge. When the word “Tantra” is used in the sense of a śāstra or science including principles and techniques, it indicates a sort of worship using mysticism and ritual for the attainment of supernatural powers. Tantra, like other śāstras in the spiritual field, leads to liberation through its peculiar ritualistic sādhanā (Ganesh, 2002). Ādi Śaṅkarācārya composed works such as Saundaryalahari (Shankaracharya, 1977) and Prapañca sāra tantra (Shankaracharya, 2002) for those belonging to the Śākta tradition. His work “Saundaryalahari” is not only a beautiful poem but also a Śākta, tantra text. It begins with the verse stating that Śīva gains power to create only after union with the Śakti; otherwise, Śīva cannot even move. Verses1–41 describe Śrividyā, seven cakras, tantra, yantra, and many powerful mantras. They describe the mystical experiences of the union of Śīva and Śakti. The remaining verses deal with the divine beauty of the universal Mother (Shankaracharya, 1977). “Prapañca sāra tantra” of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya (Shankaracharya, 2002) is not a popular work. In its introduction, Arthur Avalon states that the Prapañca is the extended universe composed of the five elements (Mahābhūta) or Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth. The title of the work, therefore, means the essence, or the account of the Prapañca (Shankaracharya, 2002). This work describes the practice of Śrividyā. It discusses nature of the Prakriti, process of initiation, tantra, mantra, yantra, and Śaktisādhanā in detail. Thus, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya describes the practice of Tantra and Mantra in above mentioned works.

  Conclusion Top

Above discussion reveals that Ādi Śaṅkarācārya presented not a single method of liberation but provided with different means of emancipation. They are practice of virtues, Bhakti Yoga, meditation, Rāja Yoga, Haṭha Yoga and Jñāna Yoga. He declared that knowledge is the only way of liberation, but in order to attain this knowledge, practice of virtues and purification of the mind is considered essential. Practice of Bhakti Yoga is suggested as the means to yoga of knowledge for bringing about purification of the mind. Rāja Yoga is suggested for those with very pure and mature mind. However, others without very pure and mature mind and with worldly desires have to practice both Haṭha Yoga and Rāja Yoga. Tantra Yoga is suggested for those belonging to the Śākta tradition. While describing Ādi Śaṅkarācārya's philosophy, Radhakrishnan (2008) states, “Devout meditation is a means to knowledge…Bhakti aids jñāna…Śaṅkarā attaches great importance to philosophical wisdom, which can be attained only through the practice of virtues that brings about the rise of knowledge…While jñāna leads to release; other means help its attainment indirectly.” Study of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya's works reveals that he stated Bhakti Yoga, Rāja Yoga, Haṭha Yoga, and Tantra Yoga as a means to knowledge or Jñāna Yoga for the attainment of emancipation. Thus, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya has given various methods of yoga for liberation in a very systematic and intelligent manner. [19]

  References Top

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