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Gheranda Samhita - A Contemplation

Gheranda Samhita is considered as one of the important traditional texts representing Hathayoga. This text is based on the teachings of Gheranda Muni. Gheranda Samhita is a part of Prasthanatraya, the 3 classical texts of Hatha Yoga - the other two being Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Siva Samhita. Gheranda Samhita holds a special position in Hathayoga texts, though Gheranda Muni has not preferred to call it Hathayoga and opted to call it the Ghata Yoga or Ghatasta yoga. “Ghata” means earthern pot which has been equated with present condition of our body and “Stha” means residing in. He has compared the human body to an unbaked earthen pot and for attaining the highest state of yoga it is imperative that this unbaked body is seasoned through various practices of Yoga. Therefore, Ghatasta Yoga means Yoga for Jiva residing in the body.

Gheranda has enumerated seven limbs of Ghata Yoga. They are:

  1. Shodhana Kriya- Cleansing processes

  2. Asana - Posture

  3. Mudra - Psychic gestures

  4. Pratyahara - Withdrawal of senses

  5. Pranayama - Breathing practice

  6. Dhyana - Meditation

  7. Samadhi - Equanimity

These practices sequentially bestow purification, strength, steadiness, patience, lightness, realization & isolation.

Gheranda Samhita is an extraordinary practice manual, and the total practices present in the text include:

  • 21 Cleansing process

  • 32 Asanas

  • 25 Mudras

  • 5 Pratyahara practices

  • 11 Pranayama techniques

  • 3 Dhyana methods

  • 6 Techniques of attaining Samadhi

After elaborating on the cleansing processes and the asanas, in the third chapter, Gheranda muni explains about Mudras. Mudras result into stability. However other Yogic texts have indicated that Mudras are meant for the arousal of Kundalini.

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