Thursday, 17 May 2012

Balasahib's 'original' 1928 Suya Namaskar , sun salutation

The Ten Point Way to Health by Shrimant Balasahib Rajah of Aundh

Nice website about Aundh here

I'm pretty sure the princely state of Aundh neighbouring Mysore.
I came across reference to the Surya namaskara of Balasahib Rajah of Aundh again yesterday in Elsizabeth's book,

First There is a Mountain: A Yoga Romance [Hardcover]
Elizabeth Kadetsk.

HH Meherban Shrimant Raja BHAVAN RAO SHRINIVAS 'BALA SAHIB', Pant Pratinidhi of Aundh [1868-1951]
Seems the Rajah had tried to introduce the practice of the Sun Salutation into all his schools and promote it as a general way to health, there are descriptions of rows of young boys performing the Surya namaskara as if in a drill. This ties in with something  I was reading earlier in the week in the Mark Singleton Yoga Body book about there being a  'Surya namaskar a'  class introduced at the Mysore palace, separate to Krishnamacharya's asana class and supposedly not taught by him.

Krishnamacharya seems to have been a little suspicious of this practice, it was a criticism of his I believe about later Ashtanga, 'too many Surya namaskaras'. That said the Ten points to health  book also includes the chants to the different stages to the Surya namaskara and this was something he taught to Ramaswami and that he taught to us on the Vinyasa Krama TT course, although we were taught three accompanying mantra's.

The full booklet can be found here, look out for counted vinyasa, drishti, focus on breath, long inhalations and exhalations, breath retention, bandhas and a use of mantras.

The ten point way to health published 1928 (in English in 1938)

Or as a free to download pdf file below and over on the left of the blog along with the other free downloads

The Ten Point Way to Health by Shrimant Balasahib Rajah of Aundh pdf JM Dent Publishers

Some background to the book?

'...most Yoga students and teachers are not aware that the famous Surya Namaskar, and the variations out of the South Indian Schools of Hatha, never existed before the 20th century. In 1937 the Raja of Aundh was studying Law in London and attracted much attention by teaching a family system of exercises. This resulted in a London journalist publishing articles and ultimately a book. As a result, the Surya Namaskar rapid spread rapidly throughout the world, including India. Today, many in both East and West, believe this to be a traditional practice; it is not. No Brahman Hindu, reciting the sacred Gayatri, while facing the sun, has ever been taught to do Surya Namaskar. Surya Namaskar is a very modern innovation or invention in a long history of evolving Yoga practices'. from HERE

and here is the cover, the index, the diagram at the back showing the different stages and the chant.

So what to make of this? The publication of 1928 dates it to around the time Krishnamacharya 'left the mountains' (1922) and first went to teach  at the Mysore palace (he returned to Mysore in 1924 ), there is a two year period when he was traveling through India, giving demonstrations and becoming involved in debates etc. before returning to Mysore. The stages of the Surya Namaskar do seem to form the framework of the vinyasa on which his Asana are performed. Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda was published in 1934 and the Yogasanagalu in 1941. Did Krishnamacharya teach Surya namaskara to the Rajah of Aundh in the early 1920's or was it the other way around. We find the basic structure of the surya namaskara in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda of 1934 and one can assume this is an approach that Krishnamacharya had been teaching for a number of years.

It does say on page 43 of the ten points to health booklet....

"We give the fundamentals to the age-old method of performing Surya namaskaras, and the one followed by our revered father, the late Rajah of Aundh. for fifty-fie years he did these surya namaskaras".

Which would take it back to around 1870-80

Patabhi Jois of course included the surya namaskar pretty much as above in his version of Ashtanga in Yoga Mala 1954 (which included a separate section devoted to Surya namaskar a)and even published his own separate booklet in 2005 which is available from KPJAYI below is the cover and what they have to say about it on the website.

"The Surya Namaskara form the foundation for the entire method of the practice of yoga – and, as we all know, if one’s foundation is firm, then whatever is supported by it will be stable as well. So, if the Surya Namaskara are first learned properly and their inner meaning grasped, then all the various asanas, pranayamas and the like that follow them will be useful and beneficial in their outcomes.

In creating this small booklet, it is Pattabhi Jois’s wish that all practitioners who undertake the practice of Surya Namaskara do so with a proper understanding of their inner significance and of their practical method, so that health, clarity of mind and spiritual elevation may be achieved".

Interestingly he states in the booklet that...
'... no asana practice is complete without sun worship. Without its focussing of mental energies, yoga practice amounts to little more than gymnastics and as such loses meaning and proves fruitless. indeed the surya Namaskara should never be mistaken for mere physical exercise-for something incidental, that is, that that simply precedes the asanas of yoga." p11 Surya namaskara

And finally this from Mark Singleton's response to Ramaswami's newsletter in an earlier post of mine

"What I am interested in is how innovators like the Raja of Aundh
revived suryanamaskar in the context of vyayama, and how it was
initially promoted as an Indian alternative to Sandow bodybuilding. I
am also interested in how (to Sri Yogendra's chagrin) it was
subsequently incorporated by others into physical culture-oriented
yoga practices.
You ask, "Are these physical drills, yoga exercises or devotional
practices? Which came first? God knows, Lord Ganesa knows". Well, the
answer is that it depends entirely on context. In modern times the
context can often be radically different. For example, into which
category should we place a mass drill-type practice of suryanamaskar
for children led by the Raja of Aundh circa 1935? Certainly he did not
categorize it as yoga himself. It would have looked to many like a
standard drill gymnastics of the time, and was to some extent
conceived by the Raja as a replacement for this. And yet he clearly
also recognized the "traditional" meaning of sun prostration." . Response to "Yoga Gymnastique


  1. Eddie Stern sells copies of the Surya Namaskar booklet. They are 7USD, plus shipping. You can send him an email, which is what I did. It's a beautiful publication complete with full mantra, etc.

  2. Thanks Anon for the info on where to get it, nice booklet as you say with those big B&W pictures of the young Pattabhi Jois.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Hi anon 2, would you mind reposting your comment without the last line, bit unnecessary.

  5. Anthony, consider putting up some "Share it" buttons - like Facebook, Google+ etc... it'll help make your information more accessible:)

  6. Thanks saIN I had the box ticked but they weren't showing up, old template designer or something, have added some code and the share widgets seem to be showing up now, thanks again.

  7. This is an authentic book, I enjoyed reading and practicing the same



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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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