Atiyog is one of the highest forms of yoga. It is the yoga that is kept hidden by great Mahasiddhas because this form of yoga is not assessable easily to the public. This form of yoga is only practiced after having learned other forms of yogas like Gherand Yoga, Mahayoga, Saptarishi Yoga, Astanga Yoga, Patanjali Yoga, Hath Yoga, etc. This form of yoga demands a high level of mastery over other yogas. It also demands perfection over mind and body through different yoga because it doesn’t deal with the basic forms of Yoga. The practitioner of Atiyog is assumed to have known all forms of yoga before starting the practice.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Brief Introduction
- 3 Origin story of Atiyog
- 4 The three patala of Atiyog
- 5 Twelve limbs of Atiyog
- 6 The difference with Patanjali Yoga
- 7 The difference with Gherand Yoga
- 8 The difference with Vrata Astanga Yoga (Astanga Yoga)
- 9 The difference with Kundalini Yoga
- 10 Similarity with Tantra Yoga
- 11 The difference with Buddhist Atiyog (Dzogchen)
- 12 Astika and Nastika forms of Atiyog
- 13 Mahasiddha Ishaputra and the perfection of Atiyog
- 14 Shesh Naga, the great Acharya of Atiyog
- 15 Tradition of Atiyog
As per “Siddha Dharma”, the Atiyog is composed of two words, Ati + Yoga, where ati implies extreme or ultimate and yoga implies the yoga wisdom. Therefore, the amalgamation of these words gives the meaning that Atiyog is the extreme form of yoga, more extreme than the Hath and Pashupata Yoga. Alternatively, it also means that it is the ultimate form of yoga which surpasses all other forms of yoga when it comes to height and depth. After having finished all forms of yoga, a tapaswi then chooses the atiyog.
As per “Siddha Dharma”, Atiyog is all about the path of tapas or austerity and penance. The penance performing yogis or tapaswi practices Atiyog. In brief, it is safe to say that the yoga of the penance or the yoga of the tapaswi is called Atiyog because it is the nature of tapaswi to go the extreme form of practice to reach the ultimate form of yoga and that is complete yoga. Atiyog in short can be called complete yoga.
As per “Siddha Dharma”, the starting point of Atiyog is Bandh or bondages. The very first step of this holistic yoga is to transcend all forms of inner and outer attachments and bondages. Without the severing all the inner and outer ties, a yogi cannot make it to Atiyog. Gradually after conquering all forms of the bandh, the yogi goes on to conquer and transcend all forms of identification and attachments, like the identification of oneself as purusha/stri, male or female. The yogi then transcends oneself from Maya. The yogi then works upon the mind and intellect through the medium of tapas and the extreme practice leads to the mastery of one’s self and is called Atiyog.
Origin story of Atiyog
As per “Kaula Siddha Dharma”, once Bhagawan Shiva and Ma Parvati were seated on Kailasha and they were engrossed in their deep conversation in the form of agama-nigama. She then asks him that he is the lord of all forms of wisdom forms and he knows everything. She then proceeds to ask him that a jiva is indulged in Maya and is trapped in the cycles of birth and reincarnation. A jiva even after knowing the technique to free oneself from maya and is not successful in it, should maya be blamed for it?
Having heard her queries, Bhagawan Shiva replies that it is not maya alone to be blamed. It is the default nature of maya to run this universe and all the natural system of it. Jiva are bound by the laws of maya but humans have some privilege endowed to free them from maya. When a human person wants to attain the supreme freedom and is yet not successful because the person has failed in their first stage and that is the perfection of the body. When a person perfects their body, the person then unlocks the first door to the universal wisdom that which leads the person to ultimate freedom. They who perfect their body then free themselves from maya because the body is connected with maya. The body is the key to ultimate freedom.
Ma Parvati then enquires the technique to invoke that shakti in them that shall unlock the first door as explained by the Lord himself and then free themselves from this bhavasagar. The Lord replies that there are numerous yogas propounded by him before. When a yogi perfects all those yoga, they reach a state of yoga but even having attained that state, they still might not be able to free themselves from different forms of bondages and attachment. After those bondages and attachments are destroyed, the yogi then attains ultimate perfection. He then concludes that the yoga that destroys all forms of attachments and bonds is called Atiyog.
Bhagawan Shiva continues that jiwa has two worlds one is the inner and the other is the outer. When the jiva churns both worlds to an extreme and then perfects both worlds. After the perfection, the jiva then reaches the state of “Shivatva” and becomes Shiva like, free from maya completely. That is only possible through Atiyog.
Bhagawan Shiva then initiated Ma Parvati into the wisdom of Atiyog.
The three patala of Atiyog
As per “Kaula Siddha Dharma”, there are three patala of Atiyoga through which it moves forwards,
– Vidhya/Siksha Patala (explains the why and how to perform the Atiyog)
– Prayoga Patala (practices and performs the Atiyoga as per the Guru’s guidance)
– Brahma Patala (practices divya bhava and its perfection)
Twelve limbs of Atiyog
As per “Siddha Dharma”, Atiyog has twelve limbs or twelve stages to perfection. The first is the severing of all attachment while the end is the attainment of atisthiti or the ultimate state. Below are the given stages,
1) Bandh Mukti (Freedom from Attachments)
2) Purusha Mukti (Freedom from Identification)
3) Maya Mukti (Freedom from Maya)
4) Ekatva (Embracement of non-dualism)
5) Prana Vidhi (The mastery over Prana)
6) Jada Hridaya Vidhi (The mastery over untamed spiritual heart)
7) Jada Buddhi Vidhi (The mastery over untamed intellect)
8) Jada Deha Vidhi (The mastery over the untamed body)
9) Ati Gati (The start to ultimate yoga)
10) Ati Siddhi (The perfection of the ultimate)
11) Ati Bhav (Attainment of the ultimate mental state)
12) Ati Sthiti (Permanence of Ati Sthiti)
The difference with Patanjali Yoga
As per “Siddha Yoga”, the Patanjali Yoga is the dominant yoga system in the whole world because of its embracement by the society while the Siddha’s “Atiyog” is relatively unknown to the mass because it went hibernation long time back. The former has eight stages while the later has twelve stages. The former starts with Yama, Niyama also known as vows and precepts. The former emphasizes mental and inner reframing to start the yoga journey. Patanjali Yoga can be undertaken by any novices because the Yama and Niyama stage can be followed by any novices.
The same cannot be said about “Atiyog”. It starts with being free from all forms of attachment, the attachment of name, fame, identification, prior recognition, belief system. The Atiyogi then gradually starts transcending other forms of attachment. In Patanjali Yoga, the most focused aspect is the asana and pranayama while in Atiyog, the most focused aspect of the work is in the inner body. Atiyog lays much importance on inner practices because Atiyogi is believed to have practiced all other forms of yoga before pursuing Atiyog.
Lastly as per “Siddha Dharma”, the difference between Patanjali Yoga and Atiyog can be known through “Pratyahara”. In the former system, after the completion of yama, niyama, asana and pranayama, the yogi then withdraws the sense from “vishaya and vastu” and starts observing and taming the inner phenomenon for the perfection of dhyana, dharana, and Samadhi. In Patanjali Yoga, the “Pratyahara” stage is the bridge between inner and outer practice while in Atiyog, the yogi directly starts from the equivalent state of “Pratyahara” because the yogi is believed to have performed tapas before. Therefore, the first three are not included because Atiyog is an advanced form of yoga. Asana and Pranayama are dealt in the upper stages of Yoga but for a different purpose.
The difference with Gherand Yoga
As per “Siddha Dharma”, Gherand Yoga is de-facto based on Tantra Yoga because the Gherand Yoga is based on the conversation between Mahasiddha Gherand and Kapalika Bhairava. The Kapalika Bhairava implies that a person is well versed in Tantra Yoga before undertaking Gherand Yoga. The Gherand Yoga starts with “Yoga Shatkarma” i.e. different kriyas to purify the body and the slowly transcending to dharana, dhyana, and Samadhi. In Gherand Yoga, utmost priority is given on body cleansing or deha suddhi.
While in the “Atiyog”, the traces of yoga shatkarma are found in “Jada Deha Vidhi” but are not compulsory like in the Gherand Yoga. Atiyog doesn’t lay much emphasis on a person’s prior knowledge of tantra or not because atiyog is only practiced by Siddhas and Siddhas are default tantric. Atiyog is an advanced form of yoga which sole pre-requisite is that the person undertaking the yoga should be a performer of penance or tapaswi.
The difference with Vrata Astanga Yoga (Astanga Yoga)
As per “Siddha Dharma”, the modern-day Ashtanga Yoga didn’t have its proper origin anywhere. The modern-day “Ashtanga Yoga” is the hybrid between Vrata Yoga of Siddha tradition and the Ashtanga yoga of Patanjali. The modern Ashtanga Yoga was restructured by Mahasiddha Shring Nath or Shring Rishi. He took the initiative of separating the Vrata Yoga of Siddhas with Patanjali Yoga. He then merged both the system to give it a new name, “Vrata Ashtanga Yoga”.
As per “Siddha Dharma”, the yama, niyama, pratyahara is taken from the Vrata Yoga. Vrata Yoga means the yoga of vows. The sankalpa or vows is taken and the yoga is performed to fulfill that vows. In Vrata Yoga, the most important limb is the dharana because dharana is undertaken as per the vows taken. For instance, if a person takes the vows of standing at one position for like weeks, the practitioner performs dharana similar to that of the vows. The Vrata Yoga runs on vows.
The Atiyog is similar to Vrata Yoga because both are based on penance. Vrata Yoga means to take vows and that vows undertaken becomes a lifestyle. The sustenance of that lifestyle itself is called penance. The starting point of Vrata Yoga and Atiyog is the same because both are the yogas of tapaswis. Therefore, they have similar starting points and similar modus operandis and methodologies. Furthermore, both yogas are the yogas of the Siddhas. Therefore, both are similar but Atiyog is more comprehensive or it can be said in clear terms that Atiyog is the extension of Vrata Yoga.
The difference with Kundalini Yoga
As per “Siddha Dharma”, the Kundalini Yoga is based on the seven chakras of the body and activating the Kundalini Shakti, in the mooladhar chakra to merge it with Shiva in the sahastrahar chakra. So, Kundalini Yoga is yoga infused with tantra because the chakras are represented in terms of lotus petals and corresponding deities. Kundalini Yoga is therefore incomplete without tantra.
In the “Atiyog”, there is no involvement of Kundalini and chakras. Kundalini and Chakras even though if used are only for reference purposes. Atiyog is pure tapaswi yoga and nothing else. The Kundalini Shakti is taken as Sancharini Shakti in Atiyoga. That Sancharini Shakti is the basis for Atiyoga.
Similarity with Tantra Yoga
As per “Siddha Dharma”, Atiyog is primarily yoga wisdom but it is imparted and initiated from tantra. It uses the medium of tantra and mantra for initiation. It resembles with tantra yoga in the use of yantra and mantra in the initiation process because it is the Siddha’s way. Siddhas prefer tantra in everything.
The difference with Buddhist Atiyog (Dzogchen)
As per “Kaula Siddha Dharma”, the Atiyog of Kaula Siddha Dharma predates Vajrayana Dzogchen or atiyog because their Rinpoche Guru Padmasambhava first taught this wisdom to his Tibetan followers. It’s also no secret that he was an Indian master who started the Vajrayana tradition. In his era, Atiyog was the dominant yoga in the Indian sub-continent of the Siddhas. The Siddha’s Atiyog is very different than that of Dzogchen. Some of them are as mentioned below.
The Atiyog of Buddhism lays much emphasis on mind and awareness. The mind is the center of all phenomena for them while in Atiyog of Siddhas, one transcends mind in the middle stages. When a person transcends the mind, the practitioner then moves towards perfecting the intellect. Along with mind and intellect, the body is also perfected. After all forms of perfections, the Siddha perfects Atiyog. After the perfection of Atiyog, the Siddhas then stays in the state of Atiyog and becomes a full Atiyogi.
As per “Siddha Dharma”, the goal of Atiyog of Siddha Dharma is not about attaining a rainbow body. The subtle body is reached by the Atiyogi when they perfect their minds. The highest or the ultimate form of perfection is the perfection of one’s existence.
Astika and Nastika forms of Atiyog
As per “Kaula Siddha Dharma”, Atiyog of the Siddhas is both astika as well as nastika in nature. Like every yoga, it starts from the nastika platform because the body is the subject of the yoga in almost all the phases. But gradually when the Atiyog is perfected then the Atiyog turns into astika because to sustain the Atiyog for eternity, the yogi needs the help of Lord Shiva. At the final stages of Atiyog, the yogi then worships Shiva to become one with the eternal Shiva and to be situated in the state of Shiva for eternity.
Atiyog, therefore, starts from nastika premises and ends in the astika. It is a two-tier form of the yoga of the perfection of the self.
Mahasiddha Ishaputra and the perfection of Atiyog
As per “Siddha” Dharma’s record, His Holiness Mahasiddha Ishaputra started his spiritual journey through yoga. Yoga was his favorite wisdom while in his early years. He pursued tantra quite later in his life, especially after the perfection of Atiyog.
Mahasiddha Ishaputra was initiated into 108 forms of yoga by the great Mahasiddha Siddhant Nath Ji. After having perfected much yoga, he was then initiated into hath yoga. He then perfected hath yoga and then proceeded to perfect Atiyog. As per him, the Siddhas believe that hath yoga is not complete in itself as it is believed to be the first stage of Atiyog. Mahasiddha Ishaputra gradually perfected Atiyog through hath yoga.
There is a photo in the public domain of His Holiness Mahasiddha Ishaputra where he is meditating in the jungle. In the picture, insects are crawling on his body. Through the practice of Atiyog, he had managed to attain the state of Samadhi. That picture is about His Holiness Mahasiddha in Samadhi. He had been in the Samadhi state for months. He became so lean because of months of Samadhi that the skeleton framework of his body could be directly visible. It was a picture taken by one of his disciples.
Because he perfected Mahayoga, His Holiness Mahasiddha Ishaputra was bestowed the title of Mahayogi by his guru and after the perfection of Samadhi, his guru bestowed him the title of Atiyogi.
Shesh Naga, the great Acharya of Atiyog
As per “Siddha Dharma”, after Bhagawan Shiva initiated Ma Parvati into the wisdom of Atiyog. It became available to the Rishi/Munis and Siddhas. The sutras of Bhagawan Shiva were so complex that the Rishi/Munis couldn’t unlock it. They collectively went to Ma Parvati and pleaded that they have a very hard time deciphering the meaning of those sutras so Ma Parvati should clarify it to them. Ma Parvati replied that the sutras could be simplified easily by the great Naga King Shesh Naga with a thousand head and tongue. So, they should pursue the tutelage of Shesh Naga.
The “Siddha Dharma” mentions that after the advice of Ma Parvati, the Rishi/Munis along with Mahasiddha and Maha Matsyendra Nath Ji approaches Shesh Naga for the simplification of the sutras. Shesh Naga being pleased with their devotion simplifies the Atiyog sutras to the world.
Tradition of Atiyog
As per “Kaula Siddha Dharma”, the Atiyog originated from Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva first propounded the wisdom and then initiated Ma Parvati into it. From Ma Parvati, the wisdom reached to the Maharishis and the Siddhas. It was then infused into the Kaulantak Peeth with the help of the Siddhas. Atiyoga was infused in Kaulantak Peeth through Kaula Siddha lineage of Mahasiddha Matsyendra Nath, through Rishi/Muni, and through Shesh Naga tradition.
The Atiyoga has many acharyas. Maharishi Parshurama, Maharishi Markandeya, Maharishi Dadhich, Maha Matsyendra Nath, and his disciples are believed to be the main acharyas of Atiyog.
The Atiyog wisdom also went into hibernation. It was revived in the modern-day by Mahasiddha Matsyendra Nath Ji. He revived the Atiyog wisdom and initiated his various secret disciples like Nidhi Nath and others as well as the famous personalities like Goraksh Nath. Mahasiddha Matsyendra Nath is credited to have coined the word, “Alakh Niranjan” because of the perfection of Atiyog. The constant repetition of “Aadesh” and “Alakh Niranjan” in a way is the mastery over Atiyog as Aadesh means Adi + Isha or the Primal or the only Ishwara i.e. Shiva. Alakh Niranjan meanwhile is his description of Shiva meaning that which cannot be attained at all because it was never lost in the first place and is always effulgent and dirt free.