|by Paul Brunton|
Hariharanananda Aranya. YS III-1. Yoga philosophy of Patanjali.
Asana is perhaps another step further removed from Dharana than Pranayma.
However, Aranya goes on to say that,
"... On maintaining certain maturity and refinement such Bhavana develops into Darana and Dhyana properly so called."
Swami Hariharananda Aranya (1869-1947) was a yogi, author, and founder of Kapil Math in Madhupur, India, which is the only monastery in the world that actively teaches and practices Samkhya philosophy. His book, Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali with Bhasvati, is considered to be one of the most authentic and authoritative classical Sanskrit commentaries on the Yoga Sutras. Hariharananda is also considered by some as one of the most important thinkers of early twentieth-century Bengal.
Hariharananda came from a wealthy Bengali family and after his scholastic education renounced wealth, position, and comfort in search of truth in his early life. The first part of his monastic life was spent in the Barabar Caves in Bihar, hollowed out of single granite boulders bearing the inscriptions of Emperor Ashoka and very far removed from human habitation. He then spent some years at Tribeni, in Bengal, at a small hermitage on the bank of the Ganges and several years at Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Kurseong.
His last years were spent at Madhupur in Bihar, where according to tradition, Hariharananda entered an artificial cave at Kapil Math on May 14, 1926 and remained there in study and meditation for last twenty-one years of his life. The only means of contact between him and his disciples was through a window opening. While living as a hermit, Hariharananda wrote numerous philosophical treatises.
According to Hariharananda, yoga is mental concentration, samadhi, and is one of the schools of Samkhya philosophy.
books available from http://www.samkhyayoga-darshana.com
Here's Krishanacharya outlining instruction for the gaze back in 1934
"When I explain the rules of yogasana, if the position of the head has not been specified, then keep the head in jalandara bandha. Similarly, if it does not specify where to place the gaze, then the gaze should be directed towards the midbrow. If the position of the hands has not been specified, then the hands should be kept as in siddhasana. Whenever there is a krama where some part of the body has to be held with the hand, and the placement of the hand has not been described, hold the relevant part of the body with the first three fingers of the hand (including the thumb). Make sure to remember this."
Krishnamacharya: Yoga Makaranda
and an example
|Baddha padmasana in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda note the gaze.|
Curiously, in Ramaswami's presentation of his studies with Krishnamacharya, Vinyasa Krama, little reference is made of the gaze, the eyes tending to be closed or looking down at the feet,
|Yoga Beneath the Surface: An American Student and His Indian Teacher Discuss ...|| By Srivatsa Ramaswami, David Hurwitz|
SRI T K SRIBHASHYAM'S Emergence of Yoga gives several examples of what he claims to be Krishnamacharya own practice, the other fifty odd suggestions for practice in the book follow a similar format, pranayama, around 10 asana, usually including Sarvangasana, sirsasana and some mudra and followed by more pranayama. Most of the asana and mudra have a focal point.
I've found it to be quite a profound, deeply focused practice.
This example of Krishnamacharya's practice featured in the movie Breath of the Gods, note the focal points.
I'm struck by the section highlighted.
"DHYANA or MEDITATION
This forms the seventh step in ASHTANGAYOGA. It has advisedly been placed thus, as a proper practice. Progress and benefit in this step is ensured only by systematically following the previous steps: YAMA, NIYAMA, ASANA, PRANAYAMA, etc.
It is futile to attempt the practice of DHYANA without first strengthening the JNANA- INDRIYAS or higher organs of perception which are to be used in this practice. In its turn the strengthening of the higher organs of perception requires a healthy body capable of proper circulation of rich blood and pure air in these organs and of healthy nerves. This can be achieved only by the regular and systematic practice of asana, PRANAYAMA, wholesome and bland food (SATVIC FOOD) taken in moderation, proper frame of mind (NIYAMA), proper practices in physical cleanliness (YAMA), and preservation of vitality (BRAHMACARYA).
When once a fair proficiency has been attained in asana and pranayama, the aspirant to dhyana has to regulate the time to be spent on each and choose the particular asanas and pranayama which will have the most effect in strengthening the higher organs and centres of perception and thus aid him in attaining dhyana.
The best asanas to choose for this purpose are SIRSHASANA and SARVANGASANA. These are to be done with proper regulated breathing and with bandhas. The eyes should be kept closed and the eye balls rolled as if they are gazing at the space between the eyebrows. It is enough if 16 to 24 rounds of each are done at each sitting.
As DHYANA is practiced in one of the following sitting postures, these asanas should also be practiced, to strengthen the muscles that come into play in keeping these postures steady. The eyes are kept closed and the eyeballs turned internally to gaze at the space between the eyebrows. If the eyes are kept open, the gaze is directed to the tip of the nose. It is enough if 12 rounds of each asana is done.Asana and Dharana."
Krtishnamacharya: Salutations to the teacher and to the eternal one
Is this why we find the focal points having such a dominant role in the asana and mudra that made up Krishnamacharya's own practice, as presented by his son.
|From the back cover of Ramaswami's Yoga for the three stages of life|