praa.naayaama again

Ulrich T. Kragh utkragh at HUM.KU.DK
Sat Jul 30 20:23:40 UTC 2011

Dominic Goodall wrote:
>Is such a fourth prāṇāyāma [i.e., supraśānta] to be found in any other traditions of yoga ?

The Tibetan system of pranayama linked with the Candali practice (Tib. gtum mo), which originates from the Hevajra and other Tantras, likewise has four steps, which are standard in more or less all Tibetan sources on the topic. The terms for two of them seem to correspond with two of the terms you mention, but the fourth term does certainly not correspond to suprazanta. So, this posting may be of very little use to you, but for curiosity's sake I shall list them here nevertheless. The relevant verse from the Bka'-dpe, being the earliest root-text for the N'a-ro Chos-drug system in Tibet (i.e., "the six doctrines of N'a ro pa") says:

rngub dang dgang dang gzhil ba dang/ /mda' ltar 'phang dang rnam pa bzhi/ / 

"There are four steps (rnam pa bzhi - *cathurvidha): inhaling (rngub), filling (dgang), expelling (gzhil ba), and ejecting like an arrow (mda' ltar 'phang)."

Concerning the centrality of the Bka'-dpe text as a source for the early Tibetan yoga tradition (ca. 12th century onwards), see my recent article "Prolegomenon to the Six Doctrines of Na ro pa: Authority and Tradition", which I can send you off-list, if needed. 

The Hevajratantra I.xi.3, speaking of one of the "four gazes", attests Sanskrit equivalents for some of these Tibetan terms, and indeed also has the word prazAntaka, which is reminiscient of your suprazAnta, in the same context (Snellgrove, 1959.2:40):

pAtanA recakanaiva kuMbhakena vazIkaret//
pUrakeNaiva tv AkRSTiH prazAntakena stambhanA// (3) 

Tibetan version:
'byung ba nyid kyis ltung bar byed// rnub pa yis ni dbang du byed//
dgang ba yis ni dgug pa nyid// zhi ba yis ni rengs par byed// (3)

Snellgrove's translation:
"Overthrowing is accompanied by exhaling, subduing by inhaling, conjuring forth by holding the breath and petrifying by the tranquilized pose. 

Happy hunting for further attestations and parallels!


Dr. Ulrich Timme Kragh
Gonda Fellow, IIAS, Leiden

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