A recent article in a reputed French yoga magazine pronounced the death of “Hatha Yoga”. “Hatha is dead. Flow is in.”
Thankfully, they said nothing about Haṭha Yoga!
Did you notice the tiny dot below “t”? It changes everything.
Most westerners, even a lot of Indians, pronounce it as Hatha Yoga. Even I – in an effort to make myself understood while using Sanskrit terms – sometimes pronounce it as Hatha Yoga. Because whenever I use the correct pronunciation (Haṭha Yoga), all I get are blank looks!
But the two words do not mean the same thing. In fact, they do not mean the same thing at all!
Let us look at how these words are written in Devanagari (one of the main scripts in which Sanskritam is written).
Hatha = हथ
Haṭha = हठ
Do you notice the different between थ and ठ? The first one is pronounced as “th” and the second as (ṭh). And it completely changes the meaning of the word!
Hatha (हथ) means a blow, killing, slaughter, or a man who is sad and depressed.
Haṭha (हठ) means by force, obstinately, persistently.
I’m not sure about you guys, but I’m rather glad Hatha Yoga is dead. I really don’t wish to practice the yoga of killing, slaughter or the depths of depression!
Now all that remains is to revive Haṭha Yoga. And no, much to my great regret, it isn’t just the wrong pronunciation that is taught in the classes…