112 ways of Yoga

Shiva image

The word rava in sanskrit means sound. bhairava is that which is beyond sound. vijnAna bhairava tantra, is so named, because it is a tantra, which is a set of techniques, in this case, one hundred and twelve such techniques. The purpose of which, is to gain knowledge, or vijnAna, of the nature of what is beyond sound, bhairava.

In this article, let's do an in-depth exploration, of vijnAna bhairava tantra, a compilation of one hundred and sixty two beautiful shlokas, which capture a conversation between Lord Shiva, and devi pArvatI.

dEvI pArvatI once asked Lord Shiva,

किं रूपं तत्त्वतो देव शब्दराशिकलामयम्
kim rUpam tattvatO dEva, shabda rAshi kalAmayam.

O Lord, what is the nature of your true form,which is manifest as sound=shabda, forms=rAshi, and attributes=kala. parAparAyAH sakalam, aparAyAshcha vA punaH. Is it constantly changing, and transforming or is it unchanging and transcendental.

Lord Shiva, in response tells her that his
true nature is not sound=rava. It is infact beyond sound, or bhai-rava.

He then goes on to give her one hundred and twelve methods, in which she can know this as an experiential reality within her own self. These 112 methods seem extremely simple at a first look, but they hold deepest secrets of yoga within them.

These practices are most fruitful, when practiced under the guidance of a capable guru. It is also important to note the context in which these methods were delivered. This kind of a transmission can happen when there is utmost intimacy, and trust between the provider and the receiver. That is why the narration is set in the background of an intimate conversation between dEvi pArvatI and Lord Shiva. These practices can be quite impractical if they are just read as an intellectual exercise. They can however be the gateway to profound realization if practiced under the right situations and the right kind of approach.

yoga method image
methods of yoga

This is one of the main reasons why many gurus, while mentioning the 112 ways, never really teach them fully, except in intimate gatherings. For a general understanding of how these techniques are, we can look at them as multiple categories.

Out of these 112 methods,

9 are centred around the breath. Among these are the techniques like shloka 64 which says,

वायुद्वयस्य सङ्घट्टाद् अन्तर् वा बहिर् अन्ततः।
योगी समत्वविज्ञानसमुद्गमनभाजनम्॥ ६४॥
vAyudvayasya saMghaTTAdantarvA bahirantataH
yOgI samatvavijnAna-samudgamana-bhAjanam || 64||

this means, by balancing the inhalation and exhalation, both outside and inside the body, a yogi attains equilibrium.

11 methods are centered around the utterance of syllables and sounds. These fall under the science of mantra yOga.

Among these are shlokas like shloka39, which says,
प्रणवादिसमुच्चारात्प्लुतान्ते शून्यभावानात्।
शून्यया परया शक्त्या शून्यताम् एति भैरवि॥ ३९॥
praNavAdisamucchArAtplutAntE shUnyabhAvanAt
shUnyayA parayA shaktyA shUnyatAmEti bhairavi || 39 ||

this means by repeated chant of the pranava, the sound which is a combination of the syllables aa, uu and mm, making it long and drawn out, and by focusing on the silence at the end, one experiences the transcendental void.

22 methods work with one's desires and feelings.

These are the ones like shloka74 which says,

यत्र यत्र मनस् तुष्टिर् मनस् तत्रैव धारयेत्।
तत्र तत्र परानन्दस्वारूपं सम्प्रवर्तते॥ ७४॥
yatra yatra manastuShTirmanastatraiva dhArayEt
tatra tatra parAnandasvarUpam sampravartatE
|| 74 ||

this means, wherever the mind feels fully content, that is where it should be focused upon. There alone, the nature of supreme bliss manifests.

12 methods make use of focus or concentration, which is what is generally referred to as meditation today. There are 3 ways of relaxation and easing oneself into an experiential state.

7 techniques make use of the practise of focused looking. Among these are techniques like shloka 84 which says,

आकाशं विमलम् पश्यन् कृत्वा दृष्टिं निरन्तराम्।
स्तब्धात्मा तत्क्षणाद् देवि भैरवं वपुर् आप्नुयात्॥ ८४॥ AkAsham vimalam pashyan kRtvA dRShTim nirantaram
stabdhAtmA tatkShaNAddevi bhairavam vapurApnuyAt|| 84 ||

this means, By fixing uninterupted gaze at
a clear sky, with steady unwavering attention, one becomes the very embodiment of bhairava.

10 methods mention the visualisation of light.

5 methods make use of sudden cessation of

12 methods make use of the all pervasiveness nature the universe.

11 methods make use of rational thought to
identify the self.

7 techniques emphasise being one with the

and 3 methods deal with the emptiness or the void of the universe. In this, are techniques like shloka87 which says,

एवम् एव दुर्निशायां कृष्णपक्षागमे चिरम्।
तैमिरम् भावयन् रूपम् भैरवं रूपम् एष्यति॥ ८७॥
EvamEva durnishAyAm kRShNapakShAgamE chiram
taimiram bhAvayan rUpam bhairavam rUpamEShyati|| 87 ||

this means, in a darkest night of the new
moon, by contemplating on the darkness and the void of existence, a sAdhaka attains the nature of bhairava.

vijnAna bhairava tantra also gives instruction on how to use sexual intercourse and the energy that propels sexual desire, as a stepping stone towards profound meditative states.

But as i said before, all of this study, while it satisfies our curiosity, doesn't take us towards any state of experience unless handled properly under right care and guidance.

I hope this article gave you a deeper insight into vijnAna bhairava tantra.


112 ways of Yoga 112 ways of Yoga Reviewed by Niranjan Yamgar on July 24, 2019 Rating: 5

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