Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Retain the Semen

Editor's Note: Hatha Yoga Pradipika is renowned as a classic treatise of Hatha Yoga, written by Swami Swatmarama in the 15th century CE. It is presumed to be the oldest surviving text of the three classic texts of Hatha Yoga, the other two being the Gheranda Samhita and the Shiva Samhita. Interestingly, this portion of the text is nearly identical to the Shiva Samhita. Unfortunately, the commonly available translations are deeply flawed, having been prepared by persons unfamiliar with the secret tradition of Yoga. Here we present the corrected portion of the text that is relevant to this website, and what is clearly the most important section of the scripture.

Salutation to Âdinâtha (Śiva) who expounded the knowledge of Haṭha Yoga, which like a staircase leads the aspirant to the high pinnacled Râja Yoga [meditation] .

Yogin Swâtmârâma, after saluting first his Gurû Srinâtha explains Haṭha Yoga for the attainment of Raja Yoga [meditation] .

Owing to the darkness arising from the multiplicity of opinions people are unable to know the Râja Yoga [meditation] . Compassionate Swâtmârâma composes the Haṭha Yoga Pradipikâ like a torch to dispel it.


Yoga is destroyed by the following six causes:—Over-eating, exertion, talkativeness, adhering to [mechnical] rules, i.e., cold bath in the morning, eating at night, or eating fruits only, company of others, and unsteadiness.

The following six bring speedy success:—Courage, daring, perseverance, discriminative knowledge, faith, aloofness from company.

The ten rules of conduct [yamas] are: ahiṃsâ (non-injuring), truth, non-stealing, chastity, forgiveness, endurance, compassion, meekness, sparing diet and cleanliness.

The ten niyamas mentioned by those proficient in the knowledge of yoga are: austerity, patience, belief in God, charity, adoration of God, hearing discourses on the principles of religion, remorse, study, Tapa and Yajña.


Vajroli Mudra

Even if one lives a worldly [i.e. married] life, without observing any [publicly known] rules of Yoga [i.e. being unmarried], yet performs Vajroli, he deserves success and is a Yogi.

Two things are necessary for this, and these are difficult for ordinary people to acquire: (1) milk [this is symbolic] and (2) a woman behaving as desired [performing the sexual act]. [Anyone can get literal milk and literal sex, thus this passage does not refer to common milk or common sex.]

Whether one be a man or a woman, by restraining the sexual matter [bindu: seed] that others [ordinary people] discharge during cohabitation [via orgasm] , one obtains success in the practice of Vajroli.

By means of a pipe [nadi, energetic channel], one should direct the wind-energy [by pranayama] slowly into the passage of the male organ.

Through practice, the sexual matter that others discharge [via orgasm] is drawn upwards [into the spinal column]. One can restrain and preserve one's own sexual matter.

The Yogi who can preserve his sexual matter thus overcomes death; death comes by discharging sexual matter [via orgasm] , and life is prolonged by its preservation [avoiding orgasm] .

By preserving the sexual seed [within the body], the body of the Yogi emits a pleasing smell. There is no fear of death, so long as the sexual seed is well-controlled in the body.

The sexual seed of men is under control of the mind, and life is dependent on the sexual seed. Hence, mind and sexual seed should be controlled by all means.


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