Amritasiddhi

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The Amṛtasiddhi (Sanskrit: अमृतसिद्धि), written in about the 11th century, is the earliest substantial text on what became haṭha yoga, though it does not mention the term.[1]

The yoga scholar James Mallinson suggests that it comes from a Tantric Buddhist environment, not Tantric Shaivism.[2][3]

A verse in a paper manuscript of the Amṛtasiddhi, possibly a later copy, asserts its date as 2 March 1160. It is written in two languages, Sanskrit and Tibetan.[1]

Text[edit]

Chapters 1-10 describe how the yogic body functions. Chapter 7 asserts that bindu, described as a "single seed" and identified with Sadashiva, the moon, and "other exotic substances",[2] is the basic essence of all that exists. Bindu is controlled by the breath, requiring control of the mind. The reference to Sadashiva implies a Saivite Tantric audience, while the text's use of Tantric Buddhist terms implies that the text came from that environment. Chapter 11 describes the use of mahāmudrā, the "great seal", to hold the bindu, and hence to control "body, speech, and mind" and ultimately to prevent death.[2]

New yoga teachings[edit]

The Amṛtasiddhi places sun, moon, and fire inside the body. As in earlier texts, the moon is in the head, dripping amṛta; the text introduces the new idea that the sun/fire is in the belly, consuming the amṛta, leading to death. The bindu is for the first time identified with the dripping amṛta and with semen. Also for the first time, the text states that preserving this fluid is necessary for life: "The nectar of immortality in the moon goes downwards; as a result men die." (4.11)[4] The bindu is of two kinds, the male being bīja, semen, and the female being rajas, the "female generative fluid".[4] The text is the first, too, to link the bindu with the mind and breath, whose movements cause the bindu to move; and the first to state that the yogic practices of mahāmudra, mahābandha and mahāvedha can force the breath to enter and rise along the central channel.[4]

Buddhist features[edit]

The text has several Buddhist features, including a verse praising the goddess Chinnamasta; the Buddhist idea of a chandoha, a gathering place; the existence of four elements (not five as in Shaivite tradition); the term kutagara, a "multi-storeyed palace"; the three vajras (kaya, vak, and citta); trikaya, the Buddhist triple body; and in early versions even the Buddha is associated with bindu, Shiva, and Vishnu. (7.15) In addition the text mentions the Vajrayana notion of svadhisthana yoga, visualising oneself as a god.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Szántó, Péter-Dániel (15 September 2016). "A Brief Introduction to the Amrtasiddhi" (PDF). SOAS. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Burns, Graham (13 October 2017). "Sanskrit Reading Room | Haṭhayoga's Tantric Buddhist source text". SOAS. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  3. ^ Mallinson & Singleton 2017, p. xx.
  4. ^ a b c d Mallinson 2018.

Sources[edit]