“One of my goals in life is to do the slowest Primary Series anywhere… rather than the quickest”. Richard Freeman

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Did Krishnamacharya teach Ashtanga Primary Series? Matthew Sweeney and the Origin of Ashtanga, Yoga Korunta and Vinyasa

Anyone new to the practice who finds their way to this post let me say at the outset that this is very much amateur speculation, we're all in the dark here as to the origin of the practice and should probably be spending more time on the mat, cushion and buried in the Upanishads and Gita.
Yoga Makaranda

This post got pretty long and complicated so I turned it into a Scribd document for ease of reading
PART I
'Below is my comment posted on the spin off post to Matthew Sweeney's Evolution of Ashtanga article at Love Yoga Anatomy, 'Ashtanga Yoga 70 years or 2000'? 

We were discussing your article Mathew as well as yours and Tim's comments here on my blog and in response to this particular thread regarding the origin of the sequence, the question came up as to why Krishnamacharya 'stopped' teaching Primary. I often wondered this myself having started my practice with Ashtanga but then later studying the Vinyasa Krama that Krishnamacharya taught Ramaswami ( I currently practice both). There always seemed to be an early and late period Krishnamachrya and the assumption that it was Krishnamacharya who had changed his teaching, I think many hold this view.

Since working with the translation of Yogasanagalu however my thinking has changed somewhat.

We've been working on a translation of Krishnamacharya's 1941 book Yogasanagalu on my blog (one more chapter to go). In that book Krishnamacharya presents a table of asana divided into three groups, Primary, Middle and Higher or proficient) asana. I just checked with Satya, a native Kanada speaker, who has been working on the translation and he confirms that  the translation is indeed 'groups' rather than 'sequences'. 









My current thinking is that Krishnamacharya NEVER taught Primary SERIES. What he did seem to teach I think is a Primary GROUP of postures. He calls them groups in Yogasanagalu. Now they are very very close to Patabhi Jois Primary sequences but I think that's the big difference. K's teaching was flexible, PJ's more fixed. Eddie Stern says that Pattabhi Jois complained that K. taught a 'Mountain of asana' and when he went to teach himself at the Sanskrit college he went to K. with a rearrangement of the postures (I'm assuming a rearrangement of the groups we find in Yogasangalau no doubt closer to what he typed out for Nancy Gilgoff  (original 1974 syllabus also on my blog).









If we go back as far as Yoga Makaranda ( 1934 ) we're still finding groups, variations of asana (even hatha and raja versions)...K was in a sense always teaching Vinyasa Krama. I think in the beginning Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga were quite close but as Ashtanga became seemingly ever more simplified and fixed they began to seem further apart. Thus it's not perhaps Krishnamacharya who changed so much but the teaching of his approach that changed, Pattabhi Jois effectively changed what he seems to have been taught by Krishnamacharya.

Yoga Makaranda

It should be noted that Krishnamacharya supposedly tended to teach for one hour in Mysore. Given his approach in Yoga Makaranda suggesting slow breathing and long stays one questions how many asana one could get through in an hour, certainly not a full sequence, flexible groups of asana following a general intuitive frameworks seems to be more likely.

The problem with a fixed sequence is that you have to get through the sequence, so the stays get shorter, ten then eight then five breaths, the breaths get shorter too and you do away with the kumbhakas, found on the most basic asana in Yoga Makaranda, discarded altogether (except perhaps yoga mudra and baddha padmasana). And of course you do away with many of the variations, it becomes simplified. Also of course there's no time for the other limbs.

As for the Yoga Korunta, if there ever was such a book in written form (Desikachar suggests it was more related to yoga philosophy than asana practice) then surely have been closer to Yoga Makaranda than Yoga Mala or at least the current approach to teaching Ashtanga. My guess is that it was all about the breath, K's interpretation of asana in yoga Sutras as being focused on the breath and then that coming through practice, linking breath and movement, exploring the breath in postures all those things Krishnamacharya kept throughout his life. If he dropped the actual vinyasa count (although kept the vinyasa krama between subroutines) then no doubt that was because it was just useful for the boys of Mysore by showing up the breath focus clearly and keeping discipline. If the vinyasa count was indeed in Yoga Korunta then perhaps it was more a detail of practice than an essential element.

One more thing on Yoga Makaranda and Mark Singleton's work. Krishnamacharya is in a sense responding to Mark back in 1934

"But we cannot say that people outside India are practising yogabhyasa and not just some form of physical exercise. I don’t know about their practice earlier, but their practice nowadays may resemble or be based on yogabhayasa as noted by people who go abroad".p16

Yoga Makaranda

But I'm with Matthew on this, whether there was or wasn't a Yoga Korunta or whether it does or doesn't support the practice we have now, what's important surely is whether our practice works for us individually. The problem is perhaps when Krishnamacharya and/or the Yoga Korunta are used to keep us in an illusion of an authentic, authoritative ground to the practice that frowns upon us following the self practice our intuition leads us to.

Sorry that was longer than I intended but there have been so many good points and questions raised by Tim, Matthew and others here and on the original post'.

End of comment.

Update
Thank you to Anon for this link to an interview with Guy Donahaye in the comments section to this post. Anon manages to squeeze most of the interview into the cooment but here's a link to the original layout at Guy's excellent site Ashtanga Yoga Shala NYC 

here's the link to the interview.
http://aysnyc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=137&Itemid=161


from the interview
GUY: Could you describe what it was like seeing your father practicing?

MJ: Well for us it was fun to see my father doing yoga, putting himself in all these postures. You know it was really amazing. He used to pick a posture sometimes and he would like to stay in that posture for a long time. And that’s how he used to practice.  And that’s how he started telling us to do that. There’s no need to do millions of postures, just try to master one at a time then you can go to the next one. I really enjoyed watching my father doing yoga. Sometimes we all used do it together too: me and my sister and my father.

GUY: What is your impression about where the asanas come from, did Krishnamacharya make it up? Did Brahmachari teach it to Krishnamacharya?

MJ: You mean the asanas?

GUY: The specific asana sequence.

MJ: Well, actually it’s all taken from the books, actually you know. If you take the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it teaches a few postures, talks about it. Then Yoga Korunta it teaches, and Siva Samhita, all these books, you see they have it. So what they did was pick all the postures and then they sat down and kind of researching, you know. Ok so to put it in a sequence to do yoga, these are the postures, you know, we have to start with, you know. That’s how they created the whole thing.

GUY: When you say “they” you mean?

MJ: Krishnamacharya in his Yoga Makaranda, he wrote the book.  It’s all the same, like my father teaches and then ah, that’s the same thing. Then when B.K.S. Iyengar took it he just picked here and there, here and there. It’s more like a therapy, you know. It’s like everybody has their own ideas of what to do. Um, so strict Ashtanga Yoga is how my father teaches: vinyasas, breathing and then, you know, so that’s the real Ashtanga Yoga.

GUY: But this was created, you think by Krishnamacharya, he put it together? He put the sequences together?

MJ: I think so, yes, yes.


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PART II
This is another approach to the above question I was working on last week, it covers much of the same ground, I don't expect anyone to read it necessarily, think of it as notes.  I just want to post it and be done with it, move on as it were.. Rather than read it closely you may want to skim through some of the quotes.

The focus on this , Part II, is the Yoga Korunta itself as ground for the Ashtanga practice, and particularly the question of 'Vinyasa'

In addition I heard this week that supposedly there's a copy of Krishnamacharya's supposed transcription of Yoga Korunta in a vault in Mysore, make of that what you will.


"I began to worry that we Westerners have misunderstood and exaggerated the entire physical process. How will I ever trace the path back to savasana?
When I was still a child, my mother returned to me in dreams. She was always horrid in my dream world, dressed in dark capes or carrying small knives, and always with an angry glint in her eyes and a shaking fist. In my dreams I'd beg her to return to the world of the dead.
Finally I received the first response to my inquiry. Godfrey Devereux, in a thoughtful message, reminded me of what makes yoga so rich:
"Most of the transmission of yoga, like that of all esoteric practices, was oral and personal. The criterion of historical validation is therefore hardly applicable. Besides, many materials are kept hidden from non-Brahmins in special vaults. The Yoga Korunta, which contains over 250 postures, is over 5,000 years old; a copy made by Krishnamacharya is, according to B.K.S Iyengar, in an exclusive vault in Mysore, India-access restricted. It is for them a historical treasure, which they fear would be commercially exploited by mercenary Westerners. I agree. I am willing to accept the authenticity of the transmission from Krishnamacharya via Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, on the basis of my experience of their potency and more."
Mystery. Perhaps that's the answer. Faith in what has traveled from mouth to mouth. Belief in what can't be written down. Trust in what cannot be completely known. Mystery. Savasana. Death". Tara Bray.

The Yoga Korunta, which contains over 250 postures, is over 5,000 years old; a copy made by Krishnamacharya is, according to B.K.S Iyengar, in an exclusive vault in Mysore, India-access restricted. It is for them a historical treasure, which they fear would be commercially exploited by mercenary Westerners.

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The supposed quote from Vamana Rishi's Yoga Korunta is doing the rounds again

"Vina Vinyasa Yogena asanadih na karayet"
'Oh Yogi, do not practice asana without vinyasa'. Vamana Rishi Yoga Korunta (?)

Does Sharath quote it in his book, seems like he might

"Sharath's book is terrific because both seasoned practitioners and newbies alike can "get benefit". It's clear and to the point! Also speaks about how doing asana without vinyasa is a complete waste of time".

I wouldn't be surprised if he does as it's mentioned there on both the old AYRI (Ashtanga yoga Research institute ) and current KPJAYI. Here are two long quotes that employ Vamana Rishi to ground and authenticate the method.


"Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of Yoga that was taught by Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900's by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passed down to Pattabhi Jois during the duration of his studies with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927.
The following are aspects that Pattabhi Jois emphasizes as the main components of Ashtanga Yoga.
Vinyasa: Vinyasa means breathing and movement system. For each movement, there is one breath. For example, in Surya Namskar there are nine vinyasas. The first vinyasa is inhaling while raising your arms over your head, and putting your hands together; the second is exhaling while bending forward, placing your hands next to your feet, etc. In this way all asanas are assigned a certain number of vinyasas.
The purpose of vinyasa is for internal cleansing. Breathing and moving together while performing asanas makes the blood hot, or as Pattabhi Jois says, boils the blood. Thick blood is dirty and causes disease in the body. The heat created from yoga cleans the blood and makes it thin, so that it may circulate freely. The combination of the asanas with movement and breath make the blood circulate freely around all the joints, taking away body pains. When there is a lack of circulation, pain occurs. The heated blood also moves through all the internal organs removing impurities and disease, which are brought out of the body by the sweat that occurs during practice.
Sweat is an important by product of vinyasa, because it is only through sweat that disease leaves the body and purification occurs. In the same way that gold is melted in a pot to remove its impurities, by the virtue of the dirt rising to the surface as the gold boils, and the dirt then being removed, yoga boils the blood and brings all our toxins to the surface, which are removed through sweat. If the method of vinyasa is followed, the body becomes healthy and strong, and pure like gold.
After the body is purified, it is possible to purify the nervous system, and then the sense organs. These first steps are very difficult and require many years of practice. The sense organs are always looking outside, and the body is always giving into laziness. However, through determination and diligent practice, these can be controlled. After this is accomplished, mind control comes automatically. Vinyasa creates the foundation for this to occur". 
AYRI JUNE 2003

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"Vinyasa means careful linking of breath and movement. The Surya Namaskar and each of the successive asanas are comprised of a particular number of vinyasas. Vinyasa creates heat in the body, which warms the blood. The warmed blood passes through the muscles, nerves, internal organs and glands, removes toxins from them, and carries them out through the sweat. This is how the process of purification begins. It is important that the student does not rush ahead doing too many asanas, and allows the body to be gradually purified. If one rushes ahead quickly, it is possible for sickness to occur, rather than purification. It is important that the teacher checks to ensure that the position of the body and the movement of breath are correct in each asana before moving the student forward so that one may reap the proper benefit of Ashtanga Yoga.
Because of the difficult nature of remembering and mastering the various vinyasas, on Fridays and Sundays, group guided classes are taught, in which all the vinyasas are counted out loud and all students follow along together accordingly.
The method of Yoga taught at KPJAYI is that which has been told by the ancient Sage Vamana in his text called “Yoga Korunta.” Although many books on Yoga have been written, Vamana is the only one who has delineated a complete practical method. In the 1920’s, the Yogi and Sanskrit Scholar, T. Krishnamacharya traveled to Calcutta where he transcribed and recorded the Yoga Korunta, which was written on palm leaves and was in a bad state of decay, having been partially eaten by ants. Later, Krishnamacharya passed on these teachings to the late Pattabhi Jois, whose school continues to teach this method today.
Vamana Rishi taught “Vina Vinyasa Yogena asanadih na karayet” – do not do yoga without Vinyasa. Vamana is telling one by one, and vinyasa, no problem.
http://kpjayi.org (currrent)

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And it's influential of course, I found the quote below on a Ashtanga shala website.

"It is claimed however that the set sequence of elaborate standing, inverted and athletic asanas comprising Ashtanga Yoga is exactly what is referred to by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra’s. The evidence for this historical anomaly comes to us from a very old and extremely rare document entitled the Yoga Korunta. The Korunta is attributed to an ancient sage called Vamana Rishi. The Korunta was said to have contained the exact listing and sequences of all six series of Ashtanga Yoga plus the inclusion of bandha, pranayama, drishti and vinyasa. Vamana Rishi is also remembered for the revolutionary statement ‘Oh Yogi, do not practice asana without vinyasa.’ In other words, yogic postures are intended to be connected by a systematic and succinct series of movements known as vinyasa. In historical context this was a radical statement and potentially alters our current definition and understanding of yoga in ancient history".

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And we find it too, a more detailed treatment on senior Ashtanga teacher Guy Donahaye excellent Ashtanga Yoga Sangha website http://www.ashtangayogashala.net

The Origins of the Ashtanga Yoga System 
"Western scholars generally think that the yoga sutras were composed somewhere around the birth of Christ.
They also argue that the practice of asanas is a recent invention because no mention of these various asanas is found in any writings prior to medieval times.
However it has to be remembered that asanas are taught individually (one on one from teacher to student).
The fact that asanas do not appear in literature, does not mean they were not practiced. It is likely that these practices were the experiments of isolated yogis and it seems understandable that little written record would have been of interest to these renuncients.
However, there was at least one record of these practices, called the Yoga Korunta, which was attributed to the rishi Vamana that almost made it into the 20th century in written form. This text is a commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali along with an expanded explanation of how to perform the asanas with vinyasa, bandhas and pranayamas.
Luckily we have access to a lineage of teachers who have been exposed to these teachings, even though, it seems, the text has not survived.
home

In 1919 Krishnamacharya began his studies of the Yoga Korunta with his Guru in Tibet,
a period of study which lasted seven years. During this time he was able to master over one thousand asanas and had learned the Yoga Korunta in the Nepalese Gukha language.
At some point years later Krishnamacharya discovered a written copy of the text in a Calcutta library. He started to transcribe the text from the nepalese Gurkha language. Unfortunately the verses were written on palm leaves and had been damaged by ants so the text was not complete.
It has been suggested by some that Krishnamacharya created the six Ashtanga sequences and fabricated the story of the Yoga Korunta to add mystical authority to his system.
But why would a man of Krishnamacharya's spiritual evolution, for whom to lie would be a sin, intentionally misrepresent the truth?
No one can say how old the text is, or how old the teachings are which must have preceded the creation of the record. Those who say these are creations of Krishnamacharya must be mistaken, certainly he was a genius and made some adaptations, as can be seen in his later teachings.
The text is attributed to Risi Vamana. Vamana was an avatara of Vishnu and the first incarnation of the Treta Yuga (the 2nd Yuga) which places him at the same time in history as the battle of Kuruksetra (in the Gita/Mahabharata)".
Ashtanga Yoga Sangha - The Origins of the Ashtanga Yoga System 

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And this nice story/legend concerning the rishi Vamana  from Karen Breneman


"Yoga Korunta
The “Yoga Korunta” is attributed to the sage Vamana Rishi. It is said that he was born when Ashtanga yoga was almost forgotten, and a wise man was needed to bring it back to mankind. Vamana Rishi incarnated himself specifically for this task. Since he was already in the womb, he himself had no idea of Ashtanga Yoga. Thus he meditated on Vishnu, so that he could help him. So it happened that Vishnu taught the Ashtanga Yoga system to him in the womb. After nine months had passed, Vamana had not yet been through the entire curriculum. According to legend, he refused to be born until he had finished his studies of Ashtanga yoga".

Ok, so Krishnamacharya supposedly studied the Yoga Korunta with his teacher in the mountains. Desikachar writes that krishnamacharya began his studies by being made to memorise the whole text for the first year of his studies.

And then we have the story above that he found a copy in Calcuta and transcribed much of it.

If that's the case, we have to ask, why do we only have one line? Krishnamacharya was constantly quoting his Yoga Rhyassa as well as countless other teaxts, he supposedly had a phenomenal memory and yet we only have the ONE line from the yoga Korunta, One line.

'Oh Yogi, do not practice asana without vinyasa'.

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What to make of this, and why does Krishnamacharya not mention Yoga Korunta in the bibliography for Yoga Makaranda (1934) Perhaps it was an oversight.

But then there's this from AG Mohan today, surely K. would have mentioned Yoga Korunta


"QUESTION: Why did Krishnamacharya call his book “Yoga Makaranda”?

RESPONSE: Krishnamacharya explained the reason behind the title in one of my classes with him. In fact, the title of the book is “Yoga Makaranda [the Honey of Yoga] or Yoga Saram [the Essence of Yoga].” Makaranda has two meanings: bee and honey. Saram means essence.

In the introduction to “Yoga Makaranda,” Krishanamcharya lists twenty-seven yoga texts, apart from his own personal study and experience, as references.

Just as the bee collects the nectar from various flowers to produce honey, Krishnamacharya has compiled the essence of yoga from various texts in his book, and hence the title “The Honey of Yoga or the Essence of Yoga.”

Part one of this book was originally published in 1934. I have made available the English translation of the unpublished manuscript of the second part of the book. It can be downloaded from www.svastha.net/resources.

A. G. Mohan

Photo: Cover of "Yoga Makaranda" — 1938 Tamil Edition"




Update.
AG Mohan just updated his fb status this morning with this regarding Yoga Korunta

"From time to time, Krishnamacharya quoted from texts that were not available in print. They must have existed as manuscripts in libraries many decades ago, or he had memorized them entirely, learning by verbal repetition from one of his teachers. For instance, he mentioned the Yoga Kuranta on occasion during my studies. The Yoga Kuranta was apparently authored by the yogi named Korantaka, who is mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (1.6)."

A. G. Mohan, "Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings" (p. 45)


But lets move on. Some of the stories suggest that Yoga Korunta described the Vinyasa count that we find in Ashtnga, the linking of breath to movement. We do find this in Krishnamacharya's yoga Makaranda. Is this then from the Yoga Korunta transcription? If so wouldn't we might expect Krishnamacharya to stick with the count throughout his life and yet after the Mysore years we don't seem to see it again. The breath is still linked to the movement, the long slow breathing, the kumbhaka's. Only certain elements of Krishnamacharya's presentation of vinyasa have made it into current Ashtanga, however. Surely if we were grounding a system on this teaching, and supposedly Vamana rishi's, we would keep everything intact. Problematic?

We don't find the current six sequences of asana in Krishnamacharya's early writing although we do find three groups in Yogasanagalu (1941), Primary, Intermediate and Proficient. primary and Intermediate are very close to the Primary and Intermediate series of current Ashtanga.

According to Eddie Stern Pattabhi jois said that Krishnamacharya taught a 'Mountain of asana' and went to him with a new ordering of asana when he began teaching at the Sanskrit college.

"Also - what Guruji told Sharath and I one day was that Krishnamacharya taught him (and the other boys) a mountain of asanas, he kept adding and adding, and eventually, after Guruji went to teach at the College, he divided them up, and went to Krishnamacharya to seek his approval for the divisions, and Krishnam. agreed that they were good int that order". Eddie Stern

'Mountain of asana'
I've been thinking a lot about this recently, 'Mountain of asana', makes me wonder if pattabhi Jois really 'got it'. If you look at the presentation of the asana in Yoga Makaranda we find each asana carefully described, breath by breath, vinyasa by vinyasa, count by count. We also find related variations of asana together much as we might find in Ramaswami's vinyasa krama although on a more limited scale due to the scope of the book. Krishnamacharyaeven goes so far as to draw distinctions between the hatha and raja yoga variations of some of the asana. he tells us too to look carefully at the picture of the asanas as examples.

This doesn't strike me as a random pile of postures, a mountain of asana. It's organised. In yogasanagalu we find Krishnamacharya has divided many of the key asana into groups, notice I said groups not sequences. We have a Primary group and Intermediate group and the rest of the postures coming under a Proficient group.

These do correspond quite closely to the Primary and Intermediate series of Ashtanga, less so with the Proficient and Advanced series.

I don't get the feeling that Krishnamacharya ever intended the asana to be practiced in a fixed sequence, he always seemed to have stressed flexibility, fitting the asana, the practice to the individual needs. And yet it stands to reason that there would always be a certain basic rough structure to the classes he most likely taught at the Mysore palace, probably corresponding somewhat to the layout we find in Yogasanagalu but with variations day to day, an extra asana here, variations of this one there, that kind of thing.

That's my guess.

Pattabhi Jois it seems, without Krishnamacharya depth of knowledge and experience on his first teaching gig, wanted something more structured, something he could take into his classes. No doubt he started with Krishnamachrya's groupings and then tweaked them, thinking all the time about a more fixed order he could teach/present in his classes.

We know from Manju Jois that his father would at times offer variations, prep postures for example for somebody struggling with a posture but in general he seems to have stuck with a relatively fixed sequence.

And that/those sequences have become more fixed as time as gone on.

So he seems to have simplified Krishnamacharya's teaching. A fixed sequence, a fixed count, a fixed number of breaths in each posture, a fixed length of breath(?), Fixed drishti. The kumbhaka's Krishnamacharya presents for different stages of different asana have been cut out altogether.

But if Pattabhi Jois was simplifying Krishnamacharya's teaching was he not also then simplifying Vamana Rishi's Yoga korunta as supposedly transmitted through Krishnamacharya, the very same text Ashtanga continues to use to ground and authenticate the practice.

What was the most important element of the teaching, the vinyasa count, which Krishnamacharya later dropped or the treatment of the breath.

We need to look more closely perhaps at this word Vinyasa.. When Vamana Rishi supposedly writes

Oh Yogi, do not practice asana without vinyasa'

What does he mean by Vinyasa, what did Krishnamacharya and his teacher think he meant by Vinyasa.

Lets look again at Vinyasa as described and introduced in Krishnamacharya first book, Yoga Makaranda.

2.4 Important Observations
From ancient times, while doing veda adhyayanam, the svaras (the notes udatta (elevated), anudatta (grave) and svarita (middle/articulated)) in the aksharas (syllables) of the vedas are observed and mastered without fail; in music, the rules of sruti (division of octave), layam (metre or time), thrtam and anuthrtam are followed; in pathyatmaha (verses of 4 lines each) poems the rules for chandas, yati, and parasam have been established and are carefully followed; in mantra upasana, the anganyasa, karanyasa, sariranyasa, kalaanyasa, matrukanyasa, ji- vanyasa, tattvanyasa are experienced and understood. Similarly in yogasana, pranayama and the mudras, the vinyasas handed down from ancient times should be followed.
But nowadays, in many places, these great practitioners of yogabhyasa ignore vinyasa krama and just move and bend and shake their arms and legs and claim that they are practising asana abhyasa. This is being done not only in yogabhyasa but also in veda adhyayanam and in mantra upasanas where the rules are being ignored and people shamefully practise this as though it were part of their worldly affairs. If this behaviour continues for some time, even the vedas will be ruined.
Everybody knows that anything that is done without following the prescribed rules will not give any benefits. When we know that this is true, is there any need to reiterate this for the great traditions of yogabhyasa, veda adhyayanam and mantra upasana which provide the best benefits? Some people, who are involved in sahavasa dosha and interested only in worldly benefits, say that they do not see any point in following sanatana dharma or karma yoga. There are reasons for their saying this. I would like to briefly mention one or two points addressing
2.4. IMPORTANT OBSERVATIONS 27
this.
1. They are not following the rules such as vinyasa.
2. Their guru is not teaching them using the secrets and techniques that are
in his experience.
3. The guru has not instructed them properly about the place and time of
practice, the appropriate diet and drink and activities for the practitioner. As a result of many people teaching yogabhyasa in this fashion, many leave the path of yoga saying that they do not see the benefits in yogabhyasa and fall into the traps of various diseases. They do not exercise the body properly and spend money unnecessarily. Instead of following the system properly, they lose their way and waste time on unnecessary pursuits and have started saying that these times are not appropriate for sanatana dharma and karma. Some others, in order to hide the mistakes and bad actions that they have committed, keep saying that doing yogabhyasa makes one go mad and intentionally deceive great people in this manner. In spite of this terrible situation, some young men and women collect some yoga texts from here and there and eagerly begin to practise in either a correct or incorrect way. For these people, god will reveal the secrets of yoga without fail. The modern age belongs to the youth. Let the god of yoga bless them to have good health, long life and body strength.
Following the path that my guru has recommended for me, I am writing down the secrets of yoga.
Yogasana and pranayama are of two types: samantraka and amantraka. Only those who have the right to study the vedas have the authority to practise the yoga that is samantraka. All people have the right to practise the amantraka type. For each asana, there are 3 to 48 vinyasas. None has fewer than 3 vinyasas.
When practising asana, the breath that is inhaled into the body and the breath that is exhaled out must be kept equal. Moreover, practise the asana with their vinyasas by breathing only through the nose.
Just as music without sruti and laya will not give any pleasure, similarly asana practice done without vinyasa krama will not give good health. When that is so, what more is there to say about long life and strength in this context?
In yogabhyasa, there are two types of kriyas — langhana kriya and brah- mana kriya. One who is obese should practise langhana kriya. One who is thin should practise brahmana kriya and one who is neither fat nor thin should practise yogabhyasa in both.
Brahmana kriya means to take in the outside air through the nose, pull it inside, and hold it in firmly. This is called puraka kumbhaka.
Langhana kriya means to exhale the air that is inside the body out through
28 CHAPTER 2. INVESTIGATIONS OF THE YOGANGA
the nose and to hold the breath firmly without allowing any air from outside into the body. This is called recaka kumbhaka.
In vaidya sastra, they describe brahmana kriya as meaning a prescribed diet and langhana kriya as meaning to fast. But in yoga sastra it does not have this meaning. Without understanding these intricacies and secrets of yoga, some people look at the books and try to do yogabhyasa (like looking for Ganesa and ending up with a monkey). They get disastrous results and bring a bad name for yoga sastra. We need not pay any attention to their words.
If one practises yogabhyasa in the presence of a guru for a few years, following vinyasa and associated kriyas, the different aspects and qualities of yoga will be revealed. Instead, for those who practise an asana for only one day, and then ridicule it the next day asking what has been gained by this, the correct answer can be given by a farmer. If a person sows some seeds and then complains the next day that no seedlings have grown, no farmer will tolerate such a ridiculous statement. 

In each section for each particular asana, we have included a description and an enumeration of its vinyasas. The vinyasas in which the head is raised are to be done with puraka kumbhaka and the ones in which the head is lowered must be done with recaka kumbhaka. Uthpluthi (raising the body from the floor with only the support of both hands on the floor is called uthpluthi) should be done on recaka kumbhaka for a fat person and on puraka kumbhaka for a thin person.
Those who ignore these rules and only do yogabhyasa according to their wishes, by following picture books, will be unhappy as a result because they will obtain absolutely no benefits from this. These people then ridicule yogavidya and their sanatana dharma, and start doing physical exercises that are contrary to our country’s ahara guna (diet), jala guna (water) and vayu guna (climate) and waste a lot of money on this. Who is at fault?
Yoga Makaranda 34-36

Examples of Vinyasa from Asana/vinyasa descriptions in Yoga makaranda
5 Caturanga Dandasana (Figure 4.15, 4.16)
For this, there are 4 vinyasas. Vinyasas 1, 2, and 3 are as for uttanasana. The 4th vinyasa alone is different. Press both palms down firmly while doing the 4th vinyasa from the 3rd vinyasa of uttanasana. Do only recaka and firmly hold the breath out without doing puraka. Keeping the weight balanced equally on both legs, jump backwards (keeping both legs parallel to each other) and holding the body straight like a rod, lie down facing downwards. At this time, only the palms and toes touch the ground. No other parts of the body touch the ground. That is, there must be 4 angulas of space between the body and the ground. In this position, if you keep a stick or rod on top of the body, the rod must touch the body completely. We need to keep our body this straight. But make sure to check gaps formed by the muscles and mounds of flesh to determine if all the adjustments are correct. p73

6 Urdhvamukhasvanasana (Figure 4.17)
This has 4 vinyasas. Vinyasas 1, 2, and 3 are exactly as for uttanasana. The 4th vinyasa is to be done following the same method as for caturanga dandasana. But in caturanga dandasana, there are 4 angulas of space between the body and the floor everywhere. In this asana, the palms and toes are as in caturanga dandasana. However even while keeping the lower part of the body from the toes to the thighs just as in caturanga dandasana, raise the upper part of the body. Make sure that the navel rests between the hands and do puraka kumbhaka. Try to push the chest as far forward as possible, lift the face up and keep gazing at the tip of the nose. Make the effort to practise until it becomes possible to remain in this posture for fifteen minutes.
Benefit: There will be no slouching in the body. The apana vayu in the lower abdomen is cleaned and the digestive power is strengthened. The 4th vinyasa itself is the asana sthiti. Afterward, return to samasthiti. Study the picture given here carefully. p73

25 Marichasana (Figure 4.66, 4.67, 4.68, 4.69)
This has 22 vinyasas. This needs to be done on both the left and the right sides. Study the sannaha sthiti (the preparatory state) of marichasana in the picture. This sthiti is the 7th vinyasa.
The right-side marichasana paristhiti is shown in the second picture. Maricha Maharishi was known for bringing this asana to public knowledge and hence it is named for him.
Stay in the 7th vinyasa for some time doing puraka kumbhaka. After this, do recaka and come to the 8th vinyasa. Stay in this position for as long as possible. In case your head starts reeling (you get dizzy), come back to the 7th vinyasa, do puraka kumbhaka, close the eyes and remain here for some time. The dizziness will stop.
The 9th vinyasa is like the 7th vinyasa. The 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th vinyasas are like the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th vinyasas of janusirsasana.
The 14th vinyasa is marichasana sannaha sthiti on the left side. This is demonstrated in the 3rd picture. The 15th vinyasa is the left-side marichasana paristhiti. This is demonstrated in the 4th picture. In the 14th vinyasa do puraka kumbhaka and in the 15th vinyasa do only recaka. The 16th vinyasa is like the 14th. The 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd vinyasas are like the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd vinyasas of janusirsasana. p123

Vinyasa asana description in Yoga makaranda part 2
33. MARICASANA
It is said that Marichi, one of the sons of Brahma discovered this asanas in the treatment of
33
one of his wives. This asana has a number of sections. These are described below. The asanas are of special benefit in the cases of diseases peculiar to women. These asanas are described in Yoga Ragasya and Nadha Bindu Upanishad. These asanas should be done with advantage on an empty stomach. In any case there should be an interval of at least 4 hours after the last meal.
Section A
Technique:
1. Sit erect, with both legs stretched in front, bend one leg, say the left, at the knee and place the foot firmly on the ground near the buttocks. The foreleg should be kept upright to the ground. (See the illustrations)
2. Take the left arm round the left knee and toward the back. Take the right arm behind the back and catch hold of the left wrist with the right hand. A point to be carefully noted, is that the left thigh should be closely pressing the body. The spine should be kept as straight as possible. The right leg should be kept stretched with the toes pointed and the calf and the thighs should be touching the ground.
3. While exhaling, bend the trunk at the hips, and touch the right knee by the top of the head. The knee should not be raised when the body is bent.
4. While inhaling, lift trunk.
5. Repeat on the other side.
6. The trunk may be lowered and lifted a few times, as may be possible without undue
strain.
Benefits: This reduces the fat round the waist. In the case of ladies it acts as a corrective in regulating their periods, and the flow. p33

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Vinyasa in yogasanagalu
“Vinayasas” many people are curious about its secret.  Some others want to know its basis.  I agree.

“प्रायत्नशैथिल्यानन्तसमापत्तिभ्याम्”

“prayatnashithilyanantasamapattibhyam”

By making the breath smooth (and long), and by concentration or focussing the mind on the breath, the perfection of the posture is obtained


Both type of people (practitioners), be happy (enjoy).


Vachaspathi Mitra in that commentary 


 “सांसिद्धिकोहिप्रयत्न​ः शरीरधारको न योगांगस्योपदेश्टव्यासनस्य कारनम्।  तस्मात् उपदेश्टव्यासनस्यायमसाधकः विरोधीच स्वाभाविकः प्रयत्नः। तस्य च याध्रुच्छिकासनहेतुतया सननियमोपहंत्यत्वात्॥”“Saamsiddhiko hi prayatnah shariradharako na yogangasyopadeshtavyasanasya kaaranam.  Tasmat upadeshtavyasanasyayamashadhakah virodhi cha swabhavikah prayatnah.  Tasya cha yadruchhikasanahetutayaa sananiyamopahamtyatvat.”

“तसात् उपधिश्टनियमासनम् अभ्यस्यता स्वाभाविकप्रयत्नशैथिल्यात्मा प्रयत्न अस्तेयः नान्यथा उपदिश्टं आसनं सिध्यतीति स्वाभाविकप्रयत्नशैथिल्यं आसनसिद्धिहेतुः।”
“tasmat upadishtaniyamaasanam abhyasyataa svaabhaavikaprayatnashaithilyaatmaa prayatna asteyah naanyatha upadishtam asnam sidhyateeti svaabhavikaprayatnashaithilyam asanasiddhihetuh”

“अनन्ते व्या-नागनायके स्थिरतरपणासहस्रविध्रुतविश्वंबरामंढले समापन्नं चित्तं आसनं निर्वर्तयतीति”“Anante vya-naganayake sthiratarapanasahasravidhrutavishwambaramandale samapannam chittam asanam nirvartayateeti” 

Translation:

 II- 47. By relaxation of effort or by a [mental] state-of-balance with reference to Ananta
[A posture] results. With these words the sentence is completed. When efforts cease the posture is completed,so that there is no agitation of the body. Or the mind-stuff comes into a balanced-state with reference to Ananta and produces the posture. (Vyasa) 

Having stated what the postures are, he tells what are the means of attaining them. 47.By relaxation of effort or by a [mental] state-of-balance with reference to Ananta. A natural effort sustaining the body is not the cause of this kind of posture which is to be taught as an aid to yoga. For if its cause were such, the preaching of it would be purposeless in that it could be naturally perfected. Therefore this natural effort does not accomplish this kind of posture which is to be taught and is contrary [to it]. For in so far as this [natural posture] is the cause of an arbitrarily chosen posture it is the destroyer of the specific kind of posture. Consequently a man, practising the specific posture as taught, should resort to an effort which consists in the relaxation of the natural effort. Otherwise the posture taught cannot be accomplished. Or . . . with Ananta,^ the Chief of Serpents, who upholds the globe of the earth upon his thousand very steadfast hoods, [with him] the mind-stuff comes into a balanced state and produces the posture". (Vachaspati Micra) 
http://archive.org/details/yogasystemofpata00wooduoft
*see notes on translation below

 Therefore, how many breathings for which asana?  When is inhalation?  When is exhalation? In what way? When body is stretched forward, inhalation or exhalation? What about when you raise your head? To know this mystery and practice in order is called Vinayasa.  These along with the significance of each asana will be discussed in 1 to 32 
p26-27

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Ramaswami wild yogi interview
What was your first impression of him (Krishnamacharya)?

First impression was that he appeared to be a bit stern. But once he started to teach - the first thing he said was "Inhale, raise your arms. Breath with hissing sound, rubbing sensation in the throat." - I had never seen a yoga teacher doing it with breathing. I used to have a few teachers, seen a few books. I was young - just 15 at the time. Like all Indians, I had some exposure to yoga. First thing that struck me was the use of breath, the way he was teaching vinyasas. He was very clear with his instructions. And then also types and number of vinyasas he was able to teach - that was also very impressive. Even with the first few classes I can see that yoga was much different than how we were practicing in India at that time.

==
Can you describe the Vinyasa Krama, the method you are teaching? It's uniqueness?

Vinyasa Krama is a method, by which you do asanas, with a number of movements leading to asanas, movements in the asanas, counterposes to the asanas. And then all the asanas are done with a proper breathing. There is an appropriate breathing for each of these movements. And then the mind is focused on the breath. These are the main differences between Vinyasa Krama and other methods. The term Vinyasa means Art. Vinyasa Krama is practicing yoga as an Art. 
==
How particular was Krishnamacharya in Vinyasa sequences? Did he required to stick to a particular sequence, or did he encouraged variations?

Yes, he would teach you the way I go about teaching this class. Once you learned these vinyasas, then in your own practice you will pick and choose on a daily basis. That is your responsibility. But, on the other hand, if you come to me for a treatment, then I will pick and choose the vinyasas and give it to you. But if you are doing it for yourself, and you had learned these vinyasas, then you have to design your program on a daily basis. You don't need a teacher to come and tell you. I've done this, tomorrow I think I should do something for my neck and shoulders, or sometimes I feel heavy in my legs, so I probably spend more time doing vinyasas in my shoulderstand, or headstand. I vary my procedures from day to day.


In your opinion, why Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga follows strict sequences, no variations allowed? Pattabhi Jois was stating that he was teaching strictly according with Krishnamacharya tradition. 

Right. I can only speculate. One is that Krishnamacharya taught only those vinyasas at that particular time. They belong to much earlier group, 1940s maybe. And another thing, it is all depends on how long they studied. I studied with Krishnamacharya for a long, long period of time. I specifically asked him for more vinyasas, when I started teaching. I realized that that I was not able to teach much more, so I went and asked him, are there more vinyasas? I said, I am not able to teach my students, is there something more? Yes, then he started, “did you teach this vinyasa, this other vinyasa”. Like that, he kept on teaching more and more... I used to practice, and then go and teach.

====
Vinyasa means art. In Vinyasa Krama the body, breath and mind are integrated to attain a unified state of harmony and attention. Vinyasa also means variation. Vinyasa Krama uses numerous variations of each posture to fully explore the possibilities of the body and attain the classical goals of Yoga, steadiness and comfort.

Krama means order or method. In Vinyasa Krama, postures are organised in a logical sequence. Each variation is linked to the next with transitional movements, the whole practice synchronised with deep ujjayi breathing. Each posture can be gradually accessed through the easier vinyasas and then slowly mastered by moving through all the variations. In this way the body is taken to health and freedom in a gentle process, without force or strain. In the process the breath and mind also undergo a transformation. The parameters of Yoga indicated in the Yoga Sutras are faithfully respected to maintain an effective, authentic practice.
Ramaswami?

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VINYASA KRAMA

The term Vinyasa Krama, otherwise known as ‘moving by numbers’, is the tradition of practicing asana in a flowing sequence connected harmoniously by the breath. Krama means ‘a step’ or ‘in stages.’ It also means to learn the postures one by one, observing the correct order.

Vinyasa Krama was also a phrase used by Professor T. Krishnamacharya to convey two different, though complementary approaches. The first he called Vinyasa Chikitsa, a therapeutic method of movement providing the steps needed to accomplish an Asana - as dictated by your individual constitution. The second he called Vinyasa Shakti, a method by which he counted numbers to a group so they could follow the movement patterns precisely and consistently. The first method is about tailoring the practice to suit the individual. The second is about fitting the individual to the practice. Both have possible drawbacks and advantages. 
Sweeney

---------

Vinyasa (Sanskrit: विन्यास; IAST:vinyāsa; vi-nyaah-sa[needs IPA]) is a Sanskrit term often employed in relation to certain styles of yoga. The term vinyasa may be broken down into its Sanskritic roots to assist in decoding its meaning. Nyasa denotes "to place" and vi denotes "in a special way." Like many Sanskrit words, vinyasa is a term that has many meanings

Lori Gaspar (2003) [1] states:
There are four basic definitions of vinyasa: 1) the linking of body movement with breath; 2) a specific sequence of breath-synchronized movements used to transition between sustained postures; 3) setting an intention for one's personal yoga practice and taking the necessary steps toward reaching that goal; and 4) a type of yoga class.

Maehle (2007: p.294) defines vinyasa as:
Sequential movement that interlinks postures to form a continuous flow. It creates a movement meditation that reveals all forms as being impermanent and for this reason are not held on to.[2]
d It denotes a flowing, dynamic form of yoga, connected to breath or pranayama in which yoga and mudra transitions are embodied as linkages within and between asana.

Vinyasa is also employed as a noun to describe the sequence of poses that are performed between Adho Mukha Svanasanas or Downward Facing Dogs as part of a Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation sequence. Though this is more correctly termed half-vinyasa as full-vinyasa returns to complete standing asana or positions.

Srivasta Ramaswami, author of The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga and a direct disciple of the legendary Yoga teacher Krishnamacharya, brings forth the essence of Vinyasa in asana practice in the following way,
"My guru believed that the correct vinyasa method is essential in order to receive the full benefits from yoga practice. The following quote, which I translated from Yoga Makaranda, perfectly captures this sentiment."From time immemorial the Vedic syllables...are chanted with the correct (high, low, and level) notes. Likewise, sruti (pitch) and laya(rhythm) govern Indian classical music. Classical Sanskrit poetry follows strict rules of chandas (meter), yati(caesura), and prasa (assemblage). Further, in mantra worship, nyasas (usually the assignment of different parts of the body to various deities, with mantras and gestures) - such as Kala nyasa, Matruka nyasa, Tatwa nyasa - are integral parts. Likewise yogasana (yogic poses), pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), and mudras (seals, locks, gestures) have been practiced with vinyasas from time immemorial. However, these days, in many places, many great souls who teach yoga do so without the vinyasas. They merely stretch or contract the limbs and proclaim that they are practicing yoga...""

Ramaswami further goes on to add, "Just as music without proper pitch (sruti) and rhythm (laya) will not give happiness, yogasana practice without the observance of vinyasas will not give health. That being the case what can I say about the long life, strength and other benefits?"[3] Wikipedia

9 comments:

  1. Interesting. Is it possible that Patthabi Jois used Krishnamacharya's method in the sense he kept changing to suit Western needs. Many of the WEstern students that studied early on with PJ seemed to advance very quickly through all the series. As time went on he kept making it more and more demanding until it hit a ceiling. Maybe PJ used the original method of K and just kept giving what could be taken. It seems to have kept evolving from Nancy Gilgoffs day rapidly as more and more Westerners arrived. Maybe this is in direct relation to how healthy and strong in both mind and body westerners were to receive this teaching? Maybe PJ is as flexible in his method as K in the sense that he did change the system to suit his students needs even within the confines of the ashtanga system. I personally think that K's method would certainly advance a student more quickly in both the physical (focusing on the individuals needs), spiritually and in pranayama as this is all part of the practice. Just thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Maybe PJ is as flexible in his method as K in the sense that he did change the system to suit his students needs even within the confines of the ashtanga system".

    Good point

    Actually I had the best straight Ashtanga practice yesterday. These days I tend practice my Ashtanga Yoga Makaranda style but for some reason I did a straight ( although breath still a little slower than I used to) full on version, think because the room was nice and hot and it felt like old times. Sweated a kilo and a half and felt magnificent afterwards. Whether by intention of by accident of time and place , SKPJ's Ahtanga is a wonderful practice, not for everyone perhaps but rather special.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder what Krishnamacharya's daily life and routine was like when he was studying with his guru in the Himalayas?

      Delete
  3. Do you remember seeing his father practice yoga? MJ: Yes, yes. GUY: Can you describe what it was like to see his father practicing? MJ: Well, for us it was fun to see my father doing yoga, putting himself in all these positions. You know it was really amazing. I used to sometimes choose a position and would like to stay in that position for long. And that's how he used to practice. And so he began to tell us to do that. No need to make millions of positions, just trying to master one at a time then you can go to the next. I enjoyed seeing my father doing yoga. Sometimes we used to do together too:. Me and my sister and my father GUY: That's interesting. He teaches a lot of positions for people, but you will be advising how he was practicing. MJ: Well, yes. What he practiced was that he liked to dominate the thing, you see. So that's why he is always telling us: "Master, master it." You know, then you can go to the next. But we are like little children, we want to know more, you know what I mean? "Oh, I can do this? If I can do this I can skip this Or I can go to that?" Sometimes we do that, but at the same time always had an eye on us to return to finish what you know. So that's what he did

    What is your impression about where you come from the asanas, it Krishnamacharya make peace? Did Krishnamacharya Brahmachari to teach? MJ: You mean the asanas? GUY: The specific sequence of asanas. MJ: Well, actually everything is taken from the books, actually you know. If you take the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, teaches a few positions, speaks of him. Then Korunta who teaches Yoga and Siva Samhita, all these books, is that they do. So what I did was collect all the positions and then sat down and kind of research, you know. Ok, so I put it in a sequence for yoga, these are the positions, you know, we have to start, you know. That's how the whole thing was created. GUY: When you say "they" refer to? MJ: Krishnamacharya Yoga in Makaranda wrote the book. Everything is the same, as my father taught and then ah, that's the same thing. Then when BKS Iyengar had to just pick up here and there, here and there. It's more like a therapy, you know. It's as if everyone has their own ideas of what to do. Um, Ashtanga Yoga is as strict as my father teaches vinyasa, breath and then, you know, what is the true Ashtanga Yoga. GUY: But this has been created, you think by Krishnamacharya, put it together? Sequences put together? MJ: I think so, yes, yes. GUY: I think it's interesting that this lineage of Ashtanga Yoga comes through a series of teachers householder. We usually think of a yogi as someone sitting in a cave renouncing the world, at least that's the impression West. MJ: Well, actually that's a very good question because in India is like you are learning music or something. The family knows that music and become teachers. So for us, it's that easy. There has to be a guru or have to hide in a cave or something. It's just one of those professions, you know we learn. The priest taught to sing to their children, their children become the priests of the second. And then every day sing at home everyone learns that just listen. The wife can sing, she does not have to sit and read a book or anything because every day you hear the same thing and, of course, children will learn the same way - they know how to teach and how.

    http://aysnyc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=137&Itemid=161

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for this Anon. i remember reading this interview several years back but couldn't remember where I read it. Thanks for cramming it into a comment, I've added a section to the actual post as well as the link to the original interview.

      Nice to read that about KPJ practicing long stays in his own practice. Guy site is such an excellent resource

      Delete
  4. the asana series like the scales.once your learned the scales you can play music

    bns inyegar

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLul0Q6iCuM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for this one too, liked the bit 8 minutes in where he talks about dedication and regular practice leading to heaven, peace of mind.

      2 minutes in he talks briefly about his studies with Krishnamacharya and jois.

      Delete
  5. "The problem is perhaps when Krishnamacharya and/or the Yoga Korunta are used to keep us in an illusion of an authentic, authoritative ground to the practice that frowns upon us following the self practice our intuition leads us to."

    Exactly, yes.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Did Rama Brahman Mohachari exist?
    Doug

    ReplyDelete

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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