In this paper I shall examine one of the ways that Śāktism endured after its heyday, the “Śaiva Age” magisterially documented by Alexis Sanderson in a recent book-length article. The thirteenth century, the end of Śaivism’s period of dominance, coincided with the rise of yoga, specifically yoga which used the techniques known as ha. tha, to a position of dominance among the soteriological methods employed in India. It is hathayoga’s relationship with Śaivism and its Śākta manifestations that is the subject of this paper.
Scholarship on hathayoga, my own included, unanimously declares it to be a reformation of tantric yoga introduced by the gurus of the Nāth sampradāya, in particular their supposed founder, Goraksa. In much secondary literature the phrases “Nāth yoga” and “hathayoga” are used interchangeably. When other traditions are seen to employ the practices or terminology of hathayoga, they are said to be borrowing from the Nāths. Goraksa, who probably flourished in the twelfth century, and Matsyendra, who according to tradition was Goraksa’s guru but is likely to have lived three centuries before him, were exponents of the Śākta cult of the Paścimāmnāya or western stream of Kaula Śaivism..”