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The Amaraughaprabodha: New Evidence on the Manuscript Transmission of an Early Work on Haṭha- and Rājayoga

  • Jason BirchEmail author
Open Access
Article

Abstract

The Amaraughaprabodha is a Sanskrit Śaiva yoga text attributed by its colophons to Gorakṣanātha. It was first published by Kalyani Devi Mallik in 1954 and has been discussed in various secondary sources. Most notably, Christian Bouy (1994, pp. 18–19) identified this work as a source text for the Haṭhapradīpikā of Svātmārāma (mid-fifteenth century). This article presents new manuscript evidence for a shorter recension of the Amaraughaprabodha than the one published by Mallik. Comparing the differences between the short and long recensions reveals that the structure of the shorter one is more cohesive and closer to the original design of the work. The close relationship of the Amaraughaprabodha's short recension with an eleventh-century Vajrayāna work on yoga called the Amṛtasiddhi provides unique insights into how early teachings on Haṭhayoga were formulated. Although the practice of the physical techniques is largely the same in both texts, the author of the Amaraughaprabodha removed or obscured Vajrayāna terminology, added Śaiva metaphysics and framed Haṭhayoga as subordinate to a Śaiva yoga known as Rājayoga. This article proposes that the Amaraughaprabodha's short recension is probably the earliest known work to combine Haṭha- with Rājayoga, on the basis of this recension’s close relationship with the Amṛtasiddhi, its rudimentary nature and the likelihood that Svātmārāma used it, and not the long recension, for composing the Haṭhapradīpikā.

Keywords

Yoga South Asia Indology Manuscripts Hatha Raja Vajrayana Hinduism Buddhism 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank (in alphabetical order) Jacqueline Hargreaves, James Mallinson and Mark Singleton for their incisive comments on earlier drafts of this article. Also, lengthy private discussions that I have had with Dominic Goodall, James Mallinson and Somadeva Vasudeva have greatly helped me to understand the content of the Amaraughaprabodha and the differences between its two recensions. Reading both recensions at a Haṭha Yoga Project workshop (15–18.1.2018) at the École française d’Extrême-Orient in Pondicherry with Christèle Barois, Alberta Ferrario, Dominic Goodall, Viswanatha Gupta, Jacqueline Hargreaves, Shaman Hatley, Nirajan Kafle, Murali Krishnan, James Mallinson, SAS Sarma, Mark Singleton and Somdev Vasudeva deepened my understanding of the text and enabled me to solve many problems in my critical editions and translations of both recensions. Also, thanks to James Mallinson and Péter-Dániel Szántó for sharing with me a draft of their critical edition of the Amṛtasiddhi. My work on this article has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 647963). My critical edition and translation of the Amaraughaprabodha will be published as one of the outputs of the Haṭha Yoga Project in 2020.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SOAS University of LondonLondonUK

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