The treatise is composed by Svatmarama, and was originally written between the 14th and 16th century. Although it is popularly known as Hathayoga Pradipika, Svatmarama preferred referring to it as Hatha Pradipika. In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Svatmarama introduces his system as preparatory stage for physical purification that the body practices for higher meditation or yoga. It is based on asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques). Brahmananda is noted to be the first to comment on Hathayoga Pradipika and his commentary is familiarised as Jyotsna. The treatise significantly embodies four chapters known as the teaching techniques Upadesa Sastra, but a fifth chapter is included in some places wherein it emphasizes on the therapeutic application of Yoga. It include the chapters names as
1. Prathamopadesa – Asanavidhi kathanam (Description of the techniques of the asanas) this chapter deals with Asana, which is known as one of the eight aspects of Ashtanga Yoga.
2. Dvitiyopadesa – Pranayamavidhi kathanam (Description of the techniques of pranayama) – explores Pranayama, referred to as the asta kumbhaka, elaborating on Satkarma to purify the body.
3. Triyopadesa – Mudravidhanam (Description of the techniques of practise of Mudra) – Addressing the techniques of dasa mudra, which are helpful in channeling and awakening the kundalini, the divine energy within.
4. Caturthopadesa– Samadhi laksanam (Signs of Samadhi) – this is the concluding chapter that highlights its relevance in leading the practitioner towards Samadhi, the highest goal.
Svatmarama enlists names of purvacaryas, the earlier teachers and the guru parampara, which is relevant in yoga. He points out that hathayoga vidya and Rajayoga vidya are interdependent on one another. Asana is recognised as the 3rd aspect by patanjali, whereas Svatmarama considers it as prathamanga, the first aspect, dedicating an entire stanza to cite down the names of yogis like Matsyendranatha, munis and risis like Narada, Vasista and Yajnavalkya.
He further lists the asanas, their names and the technical methods and their effects and emphasizes that one should do sadhana until one reaches Samadhi which he names as Rajayoga
The linguistic derivation is discussed further here.
• The term Hatha is composed of two syllables, where Ha means Sun and the means moon.
• Yoga is the amalgamation of these two words. These two syllables have a deeper and a concealed meaning which incorporates the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the Human Being.
• Hatha signifies Pingala and Ida, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves and the acquisition of these is Hathayoga. It symbolizes prana and apana- the energies in the human being. The energy of the whole body is encased in these two. The province of the Prana is the head and the province of the apana is below the navel, in the legs. The prana and apana are responsible for protecting the human energy which exists in the form of heat, electrical, nervous energy, gravitational energy, vigour, power, vitality etc. prana kriya and apana kriya symbolizes the inhalation and exhalation respectively. Balancing these two energies results in the acquisition of Prana.
• Hatha also has another meaning, where ha, the sun signifies the atman, the never fading soul. Tha, the moon, indicates Citta, or Vrtts (modifications) of Citta, which gradually fades and diminishes after the realization of the Atman, takes place. Citta attracts light or the energy from the self and reflects it upon the senses, mind and intelligence. The moon illuminates the earth at night by borrowing the suns light and reflecting it in a way which helps us in perceiving objects during the night time. Similarly, Citta borrows the light from the atman and when this citta gets illumined, we are capable of seeing external objects. In this sense, the moon and the citta are dependent upon the sun and atman respectively. However, during the daytime, the sun directly illuminates the earth. Similarly when the citta sees or faces the sun, it gets illumined and sees its reflection only in the sun. The moon and the sun becomes one.
• Hatha means will as well. To win over one’s will is known as hatha. Hathayoga and Rajayoga cannot be differentiated from one another, one leads to another, and are independent on each other for the attainment of one.