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The Shiva Samhita: An Illustrated Guide to the Vital Principle, Knowledge, Practice, Mudras and Meditations for Your Yoga Classes, Yoga Studio, Yoga Center and Yoga Teacher Training Paperback – Apr 15 2007

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  • The Gheranda Samhita: An Illustrated Guide to Purification, Asanas, Mudras, Pratyahara, Pranayama, Dhyana and Samadhi for Your Yoga Classes, Yoga Studio, Yoga Center and Yoga Teacher Training
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher:; Bilingual edition (April 15 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971646651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971646650
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 1.5 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #266,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Publisher

From the Introduction

Composed over five centuries ago, the Shiva Samhita is one of the most celebrated root texts of Hatha Yoga. It includes beautiful teachings found nowhere else. This edition contains the original Sanskrit, properly edited and printed for the first time, and a new, accurate translation thereof. It also features photographs of the asanas and mudras described therein.

Table of Contents

Introduction The Vital Principle Knowledge Practice Mudras Meditation Contributors Index

About the Author

Residing in Oxford, England, James Mallinson is a graduate of Eton and Oxford, holds a master's from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and returned to Oxford University for his doctorate.


"James Mallinson has just produced the most reliable Sanskrit edition and English translation of the Shiva Samhita available. I praise his painstaking and learned work, which is well complemented by a crisp, informative, no-nonsense introduction. The accuracy and readability of this book make it of great interest to anyone working on Yoga and related disciplines."

--Elizabeth De Michelis Oxford University

Inside This Book

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The Lord said, "There is one eternal true knowledge, without beginning or end. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mallinson has done the yoga community a great service by translating this and a number of other yogic texts in a clear and concise manner.

If you're looking for a manual on yoga, this is NOT it, but if you're looking to understand the origins of yoga and read solid translations of authentic original texts, Mallinson really does an excellent job.

For those of us who are also Sanskrit students, the Sanskrit is included which is helpful in working through a translation on one's own.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d45b7b0) out of 5 stars 25 reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b8dc210) out of 5 stars Nice contemporary translation of a famous work April 26 2007
By Dennis Littrell - Published on
Format: Paperback
With this work newly translated into English, the people at YogaVidya have completed the publication of three of the most historically important but seldom published works of yoga. The other two are Akers, Brian Dana, trans., Hatha Yoga Pradipika; and Mallinson, James, trans., The Gheranda Samhita. Mallinson, who also did the translation here, is to be commended for the clear, contemporary feel of the book and for a worthy introduction that points to the many problems facing the translator of this frankly strange and certainly corrupt work from the 14th or 15th century of the current era.

Some years ago I read a text with the standard translation by Chandra Vasu from 1914, but put it aside as something strangely jumbled and confused. The problem with the Shiva Samhita (and to a lesser extent with the Gheranda Samhita) is a bastardization of two of the traditional yogas, raja/hatha yoga and tantric yoga. (The other three traditional yogas are bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, and karma yoga.) Tantric yoga is the yoga of the left-handed path in which the practitioner attempts to find liberation from the pair of opposites and enter into samadhi by embracing desire or pleasure. This method is in most respects diametrically opposed to the "yoga of discipline" which is the raja/hatha yoga path associated with the sutras from Patanjali from two thousand years ago and mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita.

As he explains in the introduction, Mallinson addressed numerous "variant readings" in an attempt to make as coherent as possible the incongruities of the Shiva Samhita. He writes, "Now it may simply be that we are hearing separate instructions for the two traditional types of Tantric aspirant, namely bubhukshus, those desirous of siddhis, and mumukshus, those desirous of liberation, but the unqualified juxtaposition is jarring, particularly in light of the last verses of the text, wherein the householder is said to be able to obtain siddhis and become liberated by means of the techniques of Yoga--and still have fun!" (p. xiii)

"Siddhas," by the way, are psychic powers, such as levitation and being invisible, etc., which brings us to what may be a problem in Mallinson's translation for the general reader. One of the recurring problems for those who would translate yoga texts from the Sanskrit into modern English is that of deciding which terms to find English (more or less) equivalents for and which to leave untranslated. If you read some of the earliest translations of yogic works into English from say a hundred years ago or so, even the very word "yoga" was rendered by some as "discipline." With such words as "nadis," which are subtle channels in the human body, similar to neurons, but clearly not really neurological in a scientific sense, there is no attempt to find English synonyms because frankly there are none. "Prana" is another word that can be troublesome. It can be translated as "breath" and sometimes this is entirely correct. Most often it is best to just use the term "prana." It appears that Mallinson sometimes translates prana as "wind" as winds in the body. I find this unusual and, not being able to read Sanskrit, am at a loss as to how felicitous his usage might be. (Incidentally, as in the other books published by YogaVidya, the Sanskrit verse appears on the same page along with the English translation.)

On the other hand, Mallinson leaves many Sanskrit words untranslated, and this may also present a problem to the general reader. What do words like "linga," "bhoga," "Maya," "samsara," "nada," etc., mean? In some cases, even though I am relatively familiar with yogic terms, I had to consult a dictionary to get the meaning, and in some cases found none.

The real problem confronting most readers are the contradictions and the exaggerations (!). It is claimed again and again that this practice or that practice cures all disease and even better leads the aspirant to eternal life and power over all and sundry and--in the most ludicrous hyperbole--allows the practitioner to be alive even at the dissolution of the cosmos! Also annoying are the incessant "commercials" for the guru system. Again and again we are told that we have to worship the guru, tend to his lotus feet and treat him as a god on earth (and whatever you do, do NOT sleep with the guru's wife!--that is, unless you have also performed the correct mudra or asana or entered into a sufficient meditation, in which case you are absolved of your sins, all of them).

I think it can be seen by the discerning reader that the Shiva Samhita, for all its historical and literary value, is something close to a parody of the scope and intent of yoga. The gurus for whom it was written clearly were, for the most part, not the spiritually advanced men we would hope for, but profane aspirants themselves, looking for ways to further their individual enterprise as gurus and to establish a kind of shaman-like persona. I might add that some of the practices are dangerous (there is a warning to this effect on the copyright page) and some are well nigh impossible, such as drawing up a woman's reproductive fluids with your linga!

Nonetheless I recommend this fine translation and introduction by Mallinson. The book is splendidly presented and carefully edited and proofread. There is an index and some photos of a graceful and lissome woman named Shipra demonstrating some of the asanas and mudras. What is sorely needed is a glossary.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b8dc264) out of 5 stars Fascinating Perspective Aug. 3 2011
By Asbestos - Published on
Format: Paperback
After reading both the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Bhagavad Gita, two other revealing translations from, I was pleased to see yoga described even more in-depth with the Shiva Samhita. Another reviewer noted the fantastical tone of this work, and how it was written to inspire enterprising gurus. For those studying the technicalities of yoga, this work is also illuminating. We hear about kundalini, prana, the chakras, and other concepts, embellished with excitement--if not advertising--and the reader can easily gain a more fluent understanding of these ideas. This is credit to Mallinson's outstanding work of translating both the text and its original intention into a form fit for modernity.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b8dc69c) out of 5 stars The Shiva Samhita June 1 2011
By Anne Marie Allen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well done! This book is very easy to read and provides a great synopsis of Yoga and how it benefits the body and mind. Furthermore, the book illustrates right living in a way that is understandable to the common reader. I am impressed with the authors ability to translate information that is ancient into a format that is palatable to the present time. I will certainly purchase the other two books in the series. I am also impressed with the publisher. Although this is a small company, the response time was very prompt, the books are affordable, and ship very quickly. I would recommend that other consumers check out the website- and explore the merchandise for sale.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b8dc684) out of 5 stars Very nice translation but needs some annotation. May 3 2012
By cutter - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A work of Yoga coming from a tantric tradiction, the Shiva Samhirta deals both with physical yoga and subtle yoga which deals with the Kundalini energy. The text makes mention of winds entering and doing things in several places, without stating it up front this yoga it is making the body ready for the Kundalini energy to rise. It is interesting to see how the original author talked about this aspect of yoga, but line by line translation while helpful, is sometimes too literal which makes some subtle aspects hard to understand. In that respect it would have benefited from some annotation. Another spot where some annotation would have helped is towards the end where the text deals more directly with shakti/Kundalini/and goddeses related to them. I can see how a student not understanding clearly the relevance would glance over this most useful section. However, the author states that he set out to make a literal translation so I cannot fault him for that. The introduction is well written and helps place things in context as well as point out difficult point. The index is comprehensive which makes cross referencing easy. The pictures are clear and usefully placed and the book itself is well made. Over all I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in tantric yoga.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b8dca50) out of 5 stars Great Job June 1 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I received the book a day before I was suppose too. I found the book very easy to read and understand. In fact, I have read half the book since I have received it. This book was recommended from another book I was reading and I am glad that I followed through and ordered it because it is really helping me to understand the information in the other book. It is also providing additional information that I find very informative. I would highly recommend this book. I found the publisher through Amazon.