praa.naayaama again

Dominic Goodall dominic.goodall at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jul 30 09:05:13 UTC 2011

Dear list,

After the interesting responses I received on and off list to my query about recaka, pūraka and kumbhaka in March, I am returning with another question about prāṇāyāma.

Although it is commonly divided into three parts, recaka, pūraka and kumbhaka, the Nayasūtra of the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā divides prāṇāyāma into four, the fourth being something it calls supraśānta.

nābhyāṃ hṛdayasaṃcārān manaś cendriyagocarāt|
prāṇāyāmaś caturthas tu supraśāntas tu viśrutaḥ|| 4:113||

“There is a fourth breath-exercise which is called Supraśānta [achieved] by moving [the vital energy] from the heart into the navel and [by moving] the mind away from the sense-objects.”

This fourth part of prāṇāyāma is found also in the Svacchandatantra, which has drawn a great deal upon the Niśvāsa, and in the Tantrasadbhāvatantra, which has drawn in turn upon the Svacchanda.  And Nirajan Kafle has pointed out to me that the fourth division is to be found also in the Dharmaputrikā, a text of the Śivadharma corpus (Dharmaputrikā 1:19):

pūrakaḥ kumbhakaś caiva recakas tadanantaram
praśāntaś caiva vijñeyaḥ prāṇāyāmaś caturvidhaḥ.

Is such a fourth prāṇāyāma to be found in any other traditions of yoga ?

Dominic Goodall
École française d’Extrême-Orient,

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