Every epoch goes through myriad changes. Sometimes positive, while at other moments, negative. In conventional Indian thinking, there exists a belief that whenever a dark period dominates, it heralds the time for a shining light to emerge.
The beginning of the twentieth century saw such a light in Yogacarya Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Born at a time when traditional knowledge systems were becoming obsolete, he restored Yoga to its former glory, through his dedication, hard work and creativity. His innovations in the domains of health, healing and spirituality have pioneered the entry of Yoga, once an exclusive practice of the mystics, into every household of our time. A prolific writer, he wrote numerous books and articles on various topics of classical Indian Philosophy.
Yoga Makaranda was Krishnamacharya's first book on the topic of Yoga, published originally in the Kannada language in 1934. This book was one of the very few available at that time, and also the first one to present the practice of Asana-s in a sequential manner (Vinyasa-krama), a method unknown at that time to the general public. It brought a sense of wonder to the people of that generation, and became the main inspiration for many styles of Yoga, that have sustained to the current day.
This English version, translated by TKV Desikachar, son and longtime pupil of Krishnamacharya, opens the doors to international readers to access some of the earliest teachings of Krishnamacharya. It features ninety nine archival images of the master himself, and some of his students at that time, as well as beautifully illustrated sequences of the postures listed. It also includes expository notes, that provide a profound and erudite understanding of the text.
Yoga Makaranda will be a jewel in the personal library of every Yoga practitioner, and an invaluable asset to researchers interested in a more accurate understanding of a vital aspect of Krishnamacharya's teaching.
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is widely regarded as the most significant Yoga master of the modern era. Not only did he elevate the profile of Yoga, which was facing oblivion in the early part of the twentieth century, but also created a renaissance in its method of practice, that propelled it into its current day popularity.
Despite being an authority on many traditional disciplines from India, he chose to dedicate his life to spreading the message of Yoga, following the wishes of his teacher.
Although he drew on the authority of classical texts for his teachings, Krishnamacharya's greatest strength was the ability to take the ancient principles and integrate them within a modern day framework.
Supreme among the many innovations that he made in the field of Yoga practice was the key aspect of his teaching methodology: the respect he gave to every individual as a unique person with different abilities, potential and paths. Thus he would remind every teacher to teach Yoga as it applies to the student, and not the other way around, trying to make the pupil fit the teaching.
The silent revolution that he created has touched the hearts of millions around the world.
It is a great honour to write a foreword for my Guruji Sriman Tirumalai Krishnamacharya's book, Yoga-makaranda which is expected to be published in English by Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation.
It is embarrassing for a disciple of Guruji to review his work. He was not only a Pandita of the Darsana-s, but an ardent Yoga practitioner. Being his cela' (disciple) with average intelligence, readers have to excuse me, for my shortcomings in estimating his work on Yoga.
For an ardent student of Yoga, Yoga-makaranda published in 1934, in [the] Kannada language, was the only leading practical book available at that time with so many Asana-s. Today, its thoughts, works and method of practice have reached directly or indirectly millions of lovers of Yoga to practice with lively rejoice.
Guruji, in his introduction, quotes twenty seven reference books which, are not easy to trace. He starts with what Yoga is and why Yoga has to be practiced and then proceeds to explain Kriya-s, Bandha-s and Mudra-s with their effects.
Then, he explains Astanga-yoga in brief, emphasizing the importance of the principles of Yama and Niyama as well as the ways of involving the five main Vayu-s along with the five upa-uayu-s, in one's Sadhana. Finally, he speaks of Nadi-s and Cakra-s to earn snayu-vrtti-stambhana (control over the nervous system) through the two important perceptible aspects of Yoga, namely Asana-s and Pranayama-s. He explains in detail the techniques in the form of Vinyasa or sequential ways of movements to reach the final position of the Asana-s with their effects. This Vinyasa- krama is termed as "Power Yoga" today.
Asana-s and Pranayama-s are meant to evolve the soul to come out of its hidden abode to travel in its frontier, wholly and totally mingling with each and every cell. Guruji explains that the body is the gross Self, mind is the subtle Self and the real Self is the cause, and he wants all of us to savor the flavor of the presence of the soul as if it is spreading everywhere on the spreaded carpet - the body in their Sadhanta.
Knowledge is infinite. It has a beginning but has no end. Practitioners of today are grateful to him for making this knowledge reachable to the commoners and the credit and merit of its impressive and progressive presentation by today's Yoga practitioners goes to him.
I hope Yoga-makaranda in English may help readers to know the source and help for a comparative study of [the] transformation of Yoga that has taken place from the 20th century to the 21st century.
A humble dedication, with palms placed in a prayerful gesture
I embark upon dedicating this book by following the divine order of His Holiness Sri Krishna Rajendra [Wadiyar] IV, the benevolent and brilliant Emperor of the sacred Karnataka Throne, who adorns many titles like The Peerless, King of Kings, Auspicious King etc., who rules us with utmost sincerity and affection. With great humility, I also dedicate this book to him as a token of gratitude.
Important concepts from ancient reference texts are included in this book. I have explained the essence of these texts, after studying them thoroughly with learned Acarya-s, and through their blessings, [personally] experiencing the truths mentioned therein.
May the Emperor, His Holiness Sri Krishna Rajendra [Wadiyar] IV, accept, bless and support me to succeed in this endeavor.
Why should Yoga be practiced? What are its benefits? How long should one practice Yoga and how much time should be spent daily during practice? What is its ultimate gain? These are some of the questions I am asked. Others ask somewhat similar or more detailed questions. Hence, I am trying to answer these queries by means of this book.
Before taking up the subject in detail, I would like to say a few words [about our prevailing mental attitudes]. Generally, there is a growing tendency in all segments of society to assess all our problems on the business yardstick of profit and loss. This attitude happens to be a big obstacle to our progress in higher spiritual life. The common man, when in need of certain necessities of life, goes to the shop and buys things from the shopkeeper by paying cash. It is regrettable that this cash and carry attitude is being introduced in pursuit of the higher ideals of our ancient moral codes (Sanatana-dharma) and spiritual matters.
We should not expect immediate beneficial results when practicing Yoga, worshipping God (Deva-puja), performing evening and morning rituals (Sandhya-vandana), repeating the Lord's name (mantra-japa) etc., in the manner of an hourly paid worker who expects his wages at the end of each hour of his work. We should not worry about the time spent [on these matters], nor assess it on a monetary basis. Once such thoughts are entertained, we sink low [in moral and spiritual standards].
Yoga and spiritual practices (sad-visaya) should not be equated with shopping in a supermarket. Readers should appreciate this important aspect. We should also ponder whether we get any monetary benefits for the hours we waste needlessly every day. For example, we should think of how much time we waste on gossip etc. All beings, including man, spend not less than seven or six hours in sleep. Is there any human being, who renounces sleep because much time is wasted daily in sleep without any useful [monetary] gain? By all accounts, no. The reason is that, if we do not spend certain stipulated hours in sleep, without expecting any material gain for the period spent in sleep, then our physical and psychological nature (svarupa) will totally be destroyed. Possibly, a person may succeed in avoiding sleep for five or six days. Then, he begins to get dizzy. Thereafter, he is unable to do any work. Hence, it is clear that not only human beings, but also other living beings do require a certain amount of sleep, even though there is no monetary gain in the time spent on sleep. From sleep, one gets physical health and agility. Further, it is not an exaggeration to say that both the body and mind get rejuvenated by sleep.
How does sleep get the power to do so much good?" From where does this strength spring up? If we lack sufficient sleep, why do we experience a dullness in intellect, a lack of enthusiasm, feebleness in strength, a slight increase in body temperature etc.? It is necessary that these matters be explained fully to the readers. By commenting on these matters, answers to the questions asked before are obtained.
Once the mental activities (mano-vyavahara) cease, sleep automatically follows. Or else [if mental activities do not stop], there is no sleep. No one has experienced deep sleep with one part of the mind having worries and the other part going to sleep. When the random wandering of the movements of the mind (citta-vrtti) are reduced, the ego-centric stances (aham-parinama) such as "Me" and "Mine" are subdued and all mental activities (mano-vyavahara) are stopped, only at that moment is real sleep possible. Only such a deep and sound sleep can give the body and mind a feeling of well-being and comfort (sukha).
If there is even the slightest mental activity (mano-vyavahara), then a fitful sleep filled with dreams (svapna) results. This dreamful sleep is not conducive to the health of the body (saukhya). It is a well-known fact that when the mind is quietened and its mental activities (mano-vyavahara) like decision to act (samkalpa), fantasies (vikalpa), imaginary objective thoughts (savikalpa) etc., are stopped, thereby, merging (laya) the mind with the Consciousness, only then does sound sleep follow. Therefore, it appears that the total merging (laya) of the mind with the Consciousness constitutes sleep. Whatever benefits one gets from sleep, are due to mental stability (sthairya) without the wandering of the mind. Sleep does not occur when the mind wanders hither and thither. At such restless moments, one may even appear to be mad.
In the wakeful state (jagrat-avastha), every individual spirit (Jiva) gets entangled in all perceivable objects, due to the mind running after them, not only experiencing pleasure and pain, but also getting tired and exhausted in the process. Therefore, the spirit (Jiva) lies down somewhere, now and then, in order to give the mind some peace (visranti), and to give the body also a rest (srama-parihara), to relieve fatigue. Knowing from our past experiences that rest and sleep relieve fatigue, we take to such sleep. It is, therefore, crystal clear that sound sleep wipes out any type of fatigue. From this, we understand that when the mind has no fluctuations (cancala), only then does the spirit (Jiva) develop good qualities like enthusiasm (utsaha), strength (bala), health (arogya), knowledge (jnana), retentive memory (smrti), physical agility (saririka-sakriyata), comfort and joy (sukha) and compassion and kindness toward all (karuna). On the other hand, it is our daily experience, that if the mind is worried (cancala), undesirable qualities like weakness, laziness, lack of enthusiasm etc., gather around the spirit (Jiva) and make it sorrowful. Therefore, the spirit (Jiva) after sleeping every day, gets up afresh [as if newly born]. Moreover, it gets rid off bodily weakness and fatigue. As a general rule, it can be stated with certainty, that he who does not continuously for some time, get sound sleep, is nearing his end. It is absolutely necessary that mental wanderings (mano-vrtti) be subdued in order to get sound sleep.
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