What is the difference between hatha-yoga, dhyana yoga and ashtanga yoga?

by Chaitanya Charan dasMay 14, 2014

Answer Podcast

Transcription by- Keshav Gopal Das & Ambuj Gupta

Question: What is the difference between hatha yoga, ashtanga yoga and dhyana yoga?

Answer: Essentially they are the same but Bhakti Vinod Thakur has writeen a book called “ prema pradeep” where he analysis various terminologies and Prabhupada also echos that at few places.

Ashtanga yoga essentially refers to the yoga which has eight legs. So it starts from yam-yam and goes to samadhi. The initial stages of this yoga concern more with the body and they are called hatha yoga. The later stages concern more with inner meditation and they are called as dhyana yoga. This is the way Prabhupada uses it, although Prabhupada sometimes uses it interchangeably. Prabhupada follow Bhakti Vinod Thakur. Bhakti Vinod Thakur says that when in the yogic progression, if you have eight stages, the first four stages are referred to as hatha yoga, the next four stages referred to as dhyana yoga and the whole combined referred to as ashtanga yoga. But this is a technical separation. If you look at the actual usage there is not much difference. Sometimes the words may be used interchangeably. This often happens when the usage is non technical. For example, in bhakti yoga there is in chanting, and in chanting there is namabhas, shudha nama, and there is nama apradha. Generally we refer it to as by chanting. Like that in general sense any of the names can used but if you want more technical differentiation then the more bodily aspects of the yoga are called hatha yoga and the more inner meditation aspects are called as dhyana yoga and the whole process involved is called as ashtanga yoga. Thank you.

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Chaitanya Charan das

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