Schools of Yoga
Types of yoga
Lord Shiva - Maha Yogi
Yoga: Taming the Body, Dissolving the Mind
Lord Krsna - Master of Yoga
Yoga: The Royal Path to Freedom
Kundalini - The Power of the
Goal of Yoga
Yoga in the Modern World
TEN Mudra for Amazing Health Benefits
Introduction of Yoga
souls are prisoners of the joys and woes of existence
to liberate them from nature's magic the knowledge of the brahman is
It is hard to acquire, this knowledge, but it is the only boat,
to carry one over the river of Samsara. A thousand are the paths that lead
Yet it is one, in truth, knowledge, the supreme refuge!
- Yoga Upanishad
times immemorial India has made creative efforts to explore the higher
dimensions of Existence and Consciousness for enrichment of human knowledge
and personality. In India, philosophy has been more than a sheer speculative
quest, linked as it is with a living, creative and illuminating discipline
which is known as Yoga. Yoga is a unique scientific discipline that leads to
inner transformation and a definite psychological state of conscious
enlightenment. The secret lies in the awakening and development of Yogic
vision or higher perception through a sound and clean methodology that
brings a luminous, intuitive perception into the truth of things. Divya
Chakshu is the divine prophetic eye, the power of seeing, what is not
visible to the naked eye.
"To thee, I grant the Eye
Behold my Cosmic Splendor Line.
- Bhagavad Gita
yoga derives from a Sanskrit root meaning 'to join' suggesting the
fusion of the two principles atman and brahman, self and totality. It is
interpreted to mean the union of individual consciousness or 'Jiva-atman'
with Parmatma - Universal Being or Over-Soul. It has been practiced since
very early times in India and is supported by engraved seals discovered at
Indus-Saraswati civilization. Its association with India is beyond doubt,
and it is certainly central to Hinduism.
derived from the root yuj (to yoke, to unite). A man who seeks after this
union is called a yogin or yogi. There are four manin division of yoga:
Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga. Panini, the
grammarian, explains the meaning of yoga as union with the Supreme. Patanjali,
in his Yoga Sutra, defines yoga as 'cessation of all changes in
consciousness.' Yoga is the science and praxis of obtaining liberation (moksha)
from the material world. It not only points the way to release, but offers a
practical means of arriving there. Yoga is a practical path to
self-realization, a means of attaining enlightenment by purifying the entire
being, so that the mind-body can experience the absolute reality underlying
the illusions of everyday life. It is one of the most famous of Hinduism's
philosophical traditions, now practiced by Hindus, Christians, agnostics and
atheists alike. Yoga has many meanings and comes in many forms. It is also
based on an underlying philosophy that is linked to other schools of Hindu
thought. Vedantins interpret Yoga as return of the individual atman to the
Supreme. The Yoga with which most Westerners are familiar is Hatha Yoga,
consisting of bodily exercises. The Philosophy of Yoga is called Raja Yoga,
(the royal path), or Patanjala Yoga, referring to Patanjali, the reputed
author of the Yogasutras, the basic Yoga manual. Because of its close
connection with the philosophical system of Sankhya, it is also known as
literally means "junction". In the Upanishads the term Yoga signifies the
union of the personal soul with the soul of the universe. As a system of
philosophy is codified in the Yogasutras of Patanjali where Yoga is defined
as the "cessation of movements of the mind." Swami Kuvalnanada and Dr. V.
Vinekar have compared yoga to a Vina "which gives heavenly music only when
its strings are attuned adequately and played upon harmoniously. One of the
principal meanings of yoga is sangati - harmony. Joy of positive health
depends on harmony between all bodily and mental functions. True Yoga is in
all things wise and calm.
Ordinarily a man is lost in his own confused thought and feeling, but when
Yoga is attained the personal consciousness becomes stilled 'like a lamp in
a windless place' and it is then possible for the embodied spirit to know
itself as apart from the manifestations to which it is accustomed, and to
become aware of its own nature.
is the union of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. Just as
camphor melts and becomes one with the fire; just as a drop of water when it
is thrown into the ocean, becomes one with the ocean, the individual soul,
when it is purified, when it is freed from lust, greed, hatred and egoism,
when it becomes Satvic, becomes one with the Supreme Soul.
a long history. It is an integral subjective science. The very earliest
indication of the existence of some form of Yoga practices in India comes
from the Harappan culture which can be dated at least as far back as 3000
B.C. A number of excavated seals show a figure seated in a Yoga position
that has been used by the Indian Yogis for meditation till the present day.
One of the depicted figures bears signs of divinity worshipped as the Lord
of Yoga. At the time of excavations at Mohenjadaro, Stuart Piggot wrote:
"There can be little doubt that we have the prototype of the great god Shiva
as the Lord of the Beast (Pashupati) and prince of Yogis."
seeds of the yoga system may be discovered in the Vedic Samhita because the
Vedas are the foundation of Indian culture philosophy and religion.
Hiranyagarbha of the earliest Vedic and Upanishadic lore is spoken of as the
first Being to reveal Yoga: hiranyagarbha yogasya vakta nanyah puratanoh. It
indicates that mental Yoga exercises were known and played a substantial
part in the religious and philosophical outlook of the epoch. The philosophy
of Yoga was ancient and was based on the Upanishads. The Svetasvatara
Upanishad says: "Where fire is churned or produced by rubbing (for
sacrifice), where air is controlled (by Yoga practices), then the mind
attains perfection. In the Katha Upanishad, yoga is likened to a chariot in
which the reasoning consciousness is the driver, and the body is the cart.
Mastery of the body is thus achieved by control of the senses. This text is
an early example of the basic yogic belief that the mind and body are not
inherently separate but linked. The Upanishads accept the Yoga practice in
the sense of a conscious inward search for the true knowledge of Reality.
One if the most famous Upanishads, the Katha, speaks of the highest
condition of Yoga as a state where the senses together with the mind and
intellect are fettered into immobility.
scholars have generally underestimated the antiquity of Yoga. However,
examining the Rig Veda from the point of view of spiritual practice, the
British vedicist Jeannie Miller has concluded that the practice of
meditation (dhyana) as the fulcrum of Yoga goes back to the Rig Vedic
period. She observes: "The Vedic bards were seers who saw the Veda and sang
what they saw. With them vision and sound, seership and singing are
intimately connected and this linking of the two sense functions forms the
basis of Vedic prayer." Vedic Indians knew how to celebrate life, but they
also had a penchant for deep thought, solitary concentration, and penance.
Dating from a period of the Aryans in India, Yoga has had an enormous
influence on all forms of Indian spirituality, including Hinduism, Buddhist,
and Jain and later on the Sufi and Christian. The teaching of Buddhism which
arose in India are similar to those of yoga: striving toward nirvana and
renouncing the world. Indeed, some kind of meeting between yoga and early
Buddhism certainly took place, and one of the Buddhist schools is actually
called Yogachara (practice of Yoga). Indian Buddhism spread throughout Asia,
some ideas from Yoga were carried into Tibet, Mongolia, China, and from
there on into Japan. Indeed, Zen is a specific form of Yoga's dhyana or
'transcendental meditation' and the word Zen (like the Chinese tchan) is a
simple phonetic development from Sanskrit dhyana.
be said to constitute the very essence of the spirituality of India. Yoga,
the science and the art of perfect health, has come down to us from time
the broad spectrum of Hindu philosophy, Bharatiya Darsana, there are
generally considered to be six schools, the Sadarsanas or systems of
opinion. The six systems are the Vedic schools of Mimamsa, Vedanta, Nyaya,
Vaiseshika, Sankhya, and Yoga. All of these are of classical Hindu origin
and expounded by the finest minds.
Aurobindo said: "All life is Yoga." It means human life itself is yoga
because many things are united in human organism.
Berry has observed: "As a spirituality, Yoga is intensely concerned with
the human condition, how man is to manage the human condition, to sustain
his spiritual reality in the midst of life's turmoil and to discipline his
inner awareness until he attains liberation. Yoga can be considered among
the most intensely felt and highly developed of those spiritual disciplines
that enable man to cope with the tragic aspects of life. The native
traditions of India are all highly sensitized to the sorrows inherent in the
world of time and the need to pass beyond these sorrows. Hinduism sought
relief in the experience of an absolute reality beyond the phenomenal order.
Buddhism is particularly indebted to Yoga tradition for its basic mental
Adams Beck has observed:
yogin is really the exponent of a wonderful and ancient system of
psychology, one far more highly developed than any known in the West. He is
the man who in mastering the secrets of the phenomenal life of the senses
prepares us for the approach through death to Reality. In this matter,
India took her straight and fearless flight to the innermost and outermost
confines of thoughts and experience. "
The aim of Yoga is the
transformation of human beings from their natural form to a perfected form.
Yoga is a precise practical method of spiritual training which goes back to
very ancient times. These methods have, of course, been progressively
developed and thoroughly tried over the centuries, and are collectively
known as Yoga. Yoga is one of the many paths leading to release. It adopts
numerous guises and techniques. Perhaps it is more of a praxis for salvation
than a philosophy.
Certain elements of Yoga
are found in Vedic texts but an even greater antiquity than that has been
attributed to the system. The various ascetic and practical theories were
drawn up into a darsana, which became orthodox in the Vedantic period,
called Yoga. It is the complimentary darsana to the Sankhya and has special
application to the Hatha Yoga. But the Yoga is theistic whereas the Sankhya
mention Yoga, for example the Taittiriya Upanishad and especially the Katha
which defines it as “the firm restraint of the senses.” The purpose stated
in the Yogasutras is the same for all the Yogas, namely, to free oneself
from the determinism of transmigration. The final aim of Yoga is
identification by means of knowledge, with the Absolute.
By suppression of the
passions and detachment from all that is exterior to him, the ascetic
attains superior states of unshakeable stability which eventually end in
mystical communion, in a state of Samadhi, with the essence of his soul. The
state of Samadhi is the culmination of Yoga and beyond it lies release. It
is a suspension of all intellectual processes that lead to instability.
Samadhi, then, is a “state without apprehension”. The life of the soul is
not destroyed but is reduced to its “unconscious and permanent” essence.
Yoga is, properly speaking, union with the self. When thus
“isolated”, mind is the same as purusa when it is freed from mental
impressions “like a precious stone isolated from its veinstone.”
The aim of Yoga is to
tear the veil that keeps man confined within the human dimension of
consciousness. Yoga is radically different from the normal consciousness
of human beings. This is a point of paramount importance of every seeker of
Yoga to bear in mind. The various aspects of this alteration have been
clearly brought out by the Indian adepts. "I have realized this great Being
who shines effulgent, like the sun, beyond all darkness," says the author of
Svetasvatara Upanishad (3-8). "One passes beyond death only on realizing
Him. There is no other way of escape from the circle of births and deaths."
Here is one of the most prominent signs of genuine experience of the Self.
The fear of death and uncertainly about the Beyond is over. "O Goddess, this
embodied conscious being (the average mortal) cognizant of his body,
composed of earth, water and other elements, experiencing pleasure and
pain," says Panchastavi (5.26) "even though well-informed (in worldly
matters ), yet not versed in thy disciplines, is never able to rise above
his egoistic body-consciousness. This another noteworthy sign. Close
association of consciousness with the body leads to the fear of death, as it
precludes the possibility of the self-awareness, as an incorporate Infinity,
beyond the pale of time, space, birth and deaths.
Yoking the Horses of
restraining the mind-stuff from taking different forms," says Swami
Vivekananda. The mind-stuff may be imagined as a calm, translucent lake
with waves or ripples running over the surface when external thoughts or
causes effect it. These ripples form our phenomenal universe - i.e. the
universe as it is presented to us by our senses. If we can make these
ripples cease, we can pass beyond thought or reason and attain the Absolute
represents a central and pivotal concept in Indian culture and some
understanding of this is essential for those who wish to grasp the deeper
significance behind Hinduism. The relationship between the Brahman and
Atman, between the all-pervasive divinity and its reflection within
individual consciousness, is the main concept behind Vedantic philosophy.
Spiritual realization involves in some way a joining of the Atman and the
Brahman in its broadest sense. Yoga represents both the process as well as
the goal of this union.
Yoga fall into
categories as according to the spiritual path one chooses at the outset but
the end remains the same. The thousand years old experience of the Hindus
lead them to classify Yoga adepts into several kinds.
The upward progress of
the Yogin towards the supreme end is made up of eight stages, known in the
Sutras as Yogangas. They are as follows:
virtue); 2. Niyama (rules and observances); 3. Asana (bodily
postures); 4. Pranayama (control of the life force); 5. Pratyahara
(withdrawal of the senses far from the external world); 6. Dharana
(memory); 7. Dhyana (meditation); 8. Samadhi (total concentration).
The other Yogangas
Yogin withdraws his senses from the temptations of the outside world. Dharana:
a true conception of things.Dhyana: meditation in one of the asanas. Without
meditation nothing is possible.
Samadhi: this is the
final stage which the Yogin reaches when he has attained complete spiritual
fulfillment. Without Samadhi it is impossible to know Truth.
The ancient doctrines of
Yoga are broken up into the Hatha Yoga (the asanas and pranayama are
its chief elements), Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and
Only when he has
practiced the different disciplines common to all the Yogas does the Yogin
begin to reap the fruit of dhyana or “meditation” in the form of absolute
concentration. Scholars trace the origins of Laya Yoga in the Samaveda but
its full explanation is to be found in the Chandogya Upanishad.
In the Bhagavad Gita
the Lord says:
“”This unfaltering Rule
I declared to Vivasvat; Vivasvat declared it to Manu, and Manu told it to
“Thus was this Rule passed down in order, and kingly sages learned it; but
by length of time, O affrighter of the foe, it has been lost here.
“Now is this ancient Rule declared by Me to thee, for that thou are devoted
to Me, and friend to Me; for it is a most high mystery.”
and Yoga are regarded as twins, the two aspects of a single discipline.
Sankhya provides a basic theoretical exposition of human nature, enumerating
and defining its elements, analyzing their manner of co-operation in the
state of bondage (bandha), and describing their state of disentanglement or
separation in release (moksha), while Yoga treats specifically of the
dynamics of the process of disentanglement, and outlines practical
techniques for the gaining of release, or "isolation-integration" (kaivalya).
The two systems in other words supplement each other and conduce to the
by the rishi or Sage Kapila, Sankhya offers freedom from the pain and
misery of samsara. Sankhya philosophy is scientific in treatment and,
perhaps, the most appealing to the mind of our technological age. Sankhya
also falls under two groups marshalled behind the two great exponents of the
school of thought, Kapila and Patanjali. Kapila's philosophy does not take
into consideration the God-principle, while Patanjali adds to the
fundamental factor of his doctrine the concept of Isvara. On this bases
these philosophies are termed Nirisvara (without God principles) Sankhya and
Saisvara (belief in God principle) Sankhya.
is derived from the word "Sankhya" which means numbers.
is possibly the oldest among the Indian systems. It has become, in one form
of another, part and parcel of most major religions of India: hence we find
Samkhya-Yoga combined with Vaisnavism, Saivism, and Saktism, and most of the
Puranas contain numerous chapters on Sankhya-Yoga as a path to salvation.
Sankhya ideas may be found already in the cosmogonic hymns of the Rig Veda,
in sections of the Atharvaveda, in the idea of the evolution of all things
from one principle, dividing itself, in the Upanishads and also in the
Upanishadic attempts to arrange all phenomena under a limited number of
categories. The oldest traditional textbook of the school is the
Sankhya-karika of Isvara Krsna. The Sankhya Karikas begins with the
aphorism: "From torment by three-fold misery the inquiry into the means of
philosophy has had greater influence on Ayurveda than Sankhya’s philosophy
of creation, or manifestation. According to Sankhya, behind creation there
is a state of pure existence or awareness, which is beyond time and space,
has no beginning or end, and no qualities. Within pure existence there
arises a desire to experience itself, which results in disequilibrium and
causes the manifestation of primordial physical energy.
energy is the creative force of action, a source of form that has qualities.
Matter and energy are closely related: when energy takes form, we tend to
think of it in terms of matter rather than energy. The primordial physical
energy is imponderable and cannot be described in words. The most subtle of
all energies, it is modified until ultimately our familiar mental and
physical energy unite for the dance.
existence and primordial energy unite for the dance of creation to happen.
Pure existence is simply “observing” this dance. Primordial energy and all
that flows from it cannot exist except in pure existence or awareness. These
concepts of awareness are central to the ancient philosophy of Ayurveda and,
ultimately, to maintaining health in human beings.
like all other Indian philosophical systems, aims to offer help in gaining
freedom from suffering. In order to do so, it has to analyse the nature of
the world in which we live and identify the causes of suffering. Sankhya
postulates a fundamental dualism of spirit (purusa) and matter (prakrti),
and locates the cause of suffering in a process of evolution that involves
spirit in matter. Kapila's philosophy is entirely dualistic, admitting only
two things. Purusa (the spirit) and Prakrti (inert matter) as pradhanam, the
main factor of the creation of the world. Purusa, energy, is eternal,
caitanya or pure intelligence is the cause of the world; while Prakrti is
the subject of existence. Prakrti is constituted by three principles (gunas)
which are in an unstable equilibrium:
b. rajas, or impetus
c. tamas, or inertia
state of dissolution (pralaya) these three qualities are quiescent, evenly
balanced, and there is no creation. But, once the equilibrium is disturbed,
creation takes place.
Philosophy of ancient India, Richard Garbe (1857-1927) expresses
great admiration for Kapila, saying, “In Kapila’s doctrine, for the first
time in the history of the world, the complete independence and freedom of
the human mind, its full confidence in its own powers were exhibited.”
Arthur Anthony Macdonell (1854-1830) asserts that for the first time in
the history of the world it “asserted the complete independence of the human
mind and attempted to solve its problems solely by the aid of reason. Dr.
S Radhakrishnan (1888-1975) wrote: "When the self realizes that it is
free from all contacts from nature, it is released." As per Will Durant
(1885-1981) the last word of Hindu religious thought is moksha, release -
from first desire, then from life."
Yoga Sutra of Patanjali
Patanjali defines Yoga
as the “cessation of movements of the mind.”
- "Yoga Citta Vritti
Ignorance consists in
Subjectivity, homogeneity and pleasurability to
What is impermanent, non-substantial, non-
homogenous and painful.
- Yoga Sutra
The other part of the
Sankhya darsana is Patanjali's yoga. The sutras on yoga are propounded by
Patanjali and Maharishi Vyasa is known to be its main commentator. Here they
have introduced the principle of God (Isvara) as Pranidhanam and that is why
it is also known as Sa-Isvara Sankhya.
yoga, according to Patanjali's definition, means the final annihilation (nirodha)
of all the mental states (cittavrtii) involving the preparatory stages in
which the mind has to be habituated to being steadied into particular types
of graduated mental states. This was actually practiced in India for a long
time before Patanjali lived; and it is very probable that certain
philosophical, psychological, and practical doctrines associated with it
were also current long before Patanjali. Patajali's work is, however, the
earliest systematic compilation on the subject that is known to us.
Patanjali Yogasutra explains more fully how the subtler senses and organs
can be developed by men who seek God who is none other than their own true
innermost spirit. To achieve this end, a whole science of yoga has been
developed, and the Yoga Darsana is the most useful 'darsana' for a sadhaka
the second of the systematic or integral expositions of the Yoga technique
that have been preserved from ancient times. The term Yoga, according to
Sage Patanjali's definition, means the final annihilation (nirodha) of
all the mental states (cittavrtti) involving the preparatory stages in which
the mind has to be habituated to being steadied into particular types of
graduated mental states. The Yoga doctrine taught by Patanjali are regarded
as the highest of all Yoga (Rajayoga), as distinguished from other types of
Yoga practices, such as Hatha yoga or Mantrayoga.
Sankhya describes the evolution of matter, its diversification into a
manifold, Yoga describes the process of reducing multiplicity to Oneness.
Yoga is not mere theory, although it is one of the philosophical systems. It
also implies physical training, will power and decisions. It deals with the
human condition as a whole and aims at providing real freedom, not just a
theory of liberation. The Yogasutras are a short work containing 194 brief
aphorims arranged in four parts entitled: a. samadhi (concentration) b.
sadhana (practice) c. vibhuti (extraordinary faculties) d. kaivalya
(ultimate freedom. The Yoga described in the Yogasutras has also been
described as astanga yoga, 'eight-limbed Yoga.'
"Hinduism has taken into
consideration the fact that people are of different tastes, temperaments,
predilections, and bent of mind, and therefore has accepted the need for
different paths for different individuals to suit their requirements. Thus
four different paths have been laid down: Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma
Yoga and Raja Yoga. Followers of all the four paths have the common goal of
merging with the Supreme Reality. While the Jnana Yogin aims at reaching his
goal by the realization of his identity with the Supreme Reality, the Bhakti
Yogin surrenders his individuality at the feet of the Lord, his beloved; the
Karma Yogin realizes his goal by work unattached to the fruits thereof and
the Raja Yogin soars ahead by physical and psychic control culminating in
'merging' through Samadhi.
Jnana Yoga - is the way of
Yoga is monist. The aim of asceticism is to reach Knowledge and gain access
to noumenal truth. The word jnana means "knowledge", "insight," or "wisdom".
Jnana-Yoga is virtually identical with the spiritual path of Vedanta, the
tradition of nondualism. Jnana Yoga is the path Self-realization through the
exercise of understanding, or, to be more precise, the wisdom associated
with discerning the Real from the unreal.
jnana-yoga is first mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, where Lord Krishna
declares to his pupil Prince Arjuna: "Of yore I proclaimed a twofold way of
life in this world, o guileless Arjuna - Jnana Yoga for the samkhyas and
Karma Yoga for the yogins." (III.3). Jnana Yoga represents the knowledge of
the self in general. Self is present everywhere and all bodies are
perishable. The self never perishes. It never dies even though body is
killed. The Yoga of knowledge represents the knowledge of the self, and the
self is eternal, omnipresent, imperishable and omniscient.
Yoga is the most arduous way, reserved for an elite and in it the Yogin must
go beyond the plane of Maya. Jnana Yoga leads to an integration through
knowledge, gnosis. Also, there is dhyana yoga. The Sanskrit dhyana
becomes Ch'an in Chinese which becomes Thom in Vietnamese, Son in Korean,
Zen in Japanese. This yoga is specifically what gets called the yoga of
meditation. All these constitute
the Buddhi yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, that is, the yoga of integrated
intelligence and will.
Bhakti Yoga - is the way of exclusive devotion to God.
Yoga is the supreme devotion to the Lord. Bhakti is intense attachment to
God who is the Indweller in all beings, who is the support, solace for all
beings. Bhakti yoga is integration through love or devotion. It teaches the
rules of love, for it is the science of the higher love; it teaches how to
direct and use love and how to give it a new object, how to obtain from it
the highest and most glorious result, which is the acquisition of spiritual
felicity. The Bhakti Yoga, does not say "abandon" but only love, love the
Karma Yoga - is the way of selfless work.
is to act. Karma yoga means the discipline of action or integration through
activity. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of self-surrendered action. Even an
inanimate object such as a rock has movement. And the building blocks of
matter, the atoms, are in fact not building blocks at all but incredibly
complex patterns of energy in constant motion. Thus, the universe is a vast
vibratory expanse. Karma Yoga is selfless service unto humanity. Karma Yoga
is the Yoga of action which purifies the heart and prepares the heart and
mind for the reception of Divine Light or the attainment of Knowledge of the
Self. But this has to be done without attachment or egoism. The karma yoga
of The Gita is a unique philosophy of action and it declares that nature has
given the right of action to man only and the right of the result of action
is under the authority of nature. But the action is a duty of man; therefore
he should perform actions without the desire of fruit. Lord Krishna says:
"Not by abstention from actions does a man enjoy action-transcendence, nor
by renunciation alone does he approach perfection." (III, 4). Then God
Krishna, who communicates these teachings to his pupil Arjuna, points to
himself, as the archetypal model of the active person: "For Me, O son of
Pritha, there is nothing to be done in the three worlds, nothing ungained to
be gained - and yet I engage in action." (III.22).
Raja Yoga - The Respelendent
Yoga of Spiritual Kings
refers to the Yoga system of Patanjali, is commonly used to distinguish
Patanjali's eight-fold path of meditative introversion from Hatha Yoga.
Psycho-physical practices for mind and cure have been part of Hindu medical
science in the ancient times and no wonder Dr. freud and other modern
psychologists are just the beginners in the field discovering the age-old
science. Sri Aurobindo observed: "Indian yoga is experimental
psychology. Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, the Upanishads - these and the Saiva
Siddhanta treatises - furnish pioneering examples of experimental
psychology." "In Indian psychology they proceed from the basis of the
supremacy of mind over matter and postulate Atman as the ultimate Reality of
the universe unification with which is the basic purpose of this yoga."
Rolland 1866-1944) French Nobel laureate, professor of the history of
music at the Sorbonne and thinker. He authored a book Life and Gospel of
Vivekananda, calls this yoga as the experimental psycho-physiological
method for the direct attainment of Reality which is Brahman. Many serious
seekers have successfully tried direct realization of the Supreme through
the mind control without waiting for indefinite births to take place. This
great methodology was developed by the great classical theorist Rishi
Patanjali who sought to attain ultimate knowledge through the control and
absolute mastery of the mind thus cutting down the endless path of the soul
for perfection through future births. The whole thrust is on the
concentration and control of mind after shutting it out of all worldly
objects to reach the Ultimate Reality.
powers of the mind are like rays of dissipated light; when they are
concentrated they illumine. This is the only means of Knowledge. The
originality of Indian Raja Yoga lies in the fact that it has been the
subject for centuries past of a minutely elaborated experimental science for
the conquest of concentration and mastery of the mind. By mind, the Hindu
Yogi understands the instrument as well as the object of knowledge, and in
what concerns the object, he goes very far, farther than I can follow him."
Vivekananda (1863-1902) was the foremost disciple
of Ramakrishna and a world spokesperson for Vedanta. India's first spiritual
and cultural ambassador to the West, said: "The science of Raja Yoga
proposes to lay down before humanity a practical and scientifically worked
out method for reaching the truth."
Forms of Yoga
several other forms of yoga, such as Hatha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, and
Laya Yoga. The purpose of Hatha Yoga is to destroy or transform all that
which, in man, interferes with his union with the universal Being. It is a
"Yoga of strength" which lays particular stress on physical exercises that
even permit the adept to perform physiological feats that are normally
beyond human capacity.
Yogin has obtained purification by the different disciplines of the Hatha
Yoga the Yogin must recite a series of mantras or "prayers" which make up
the Mantra Yoga. The aim of Laya Yoga is to direct the mind upon the object
are branches or subdivisions of the four main divisions of yoga stated
above. All branches of yoga have one thing in common, they are concerned
with a state of being, or consciousness. "Yoga is ecstasy" says Vyasa's
Yoga is a
supra-human (apaurusheya) revelation, from the realm of the gods;
mythologicaly, it is said that the great God Shiva himself taught Yoga to
his beloved Parvati for the sake of humanity. Shiva (the Benign one), is
mentioned as early as in the Rig Veda. He is the focal point of Shaivism,
that is, the Shiva tradition of worship and theology. He is the deity of
yogins par excellence and is often depicted as a yogin, with long, matted
hair, a body besmeared with ashes, and a garland of skulls - all signs of
his utter renunciation. In his hair is the crescent moon symbolizing
mystical vision and knowledge. His three eyes symbolize sun, moon, and fire,
and a single glance from this eye can incinerate the entire universe. The
serpent coiled around his neck symbolizes the mysterious spiritual energy of
kundalini. The Ganga River that cascades from the crown of Shiva's head is a
symbol of perpetual purification, which is the mechanism underlying his gift
of spiritual liberation bestowed upon devotees. The tiger skin on which he
is seated represents power (shakti), and his four arms are a sign of his
perfect control over the four cardinal directions. His trident represents
the three primary qualities (gunas) of Nature, namely tamas, rajas, and
The Lord of Yoga is typically pictured as meditating on Mount Kailasa in the
Himalayas with his divine spouse Parvati (she who dwells on the mountain).
In many Tantras, he figures as the first teacher of esoteric knownledge. As
the ultimate Reality, the Shaivas invoke him as Maheshvara (Great Lord). As
the giver of joy or serenity he is called Shanakara and as the abode of
delight he is given the name Shambhu. Other names are Pashupati (Lord of the
beasts), and Mahadevea (Great God). He is iconographically portrayed as
covered in ashes, with a third eye with which he burned Desire (Kama) and
his matted hair, a crescent moon in his hair, the Ganges pouring down from
his locks, garlanded by a snake, and sacred rudra beads, seated upon a tiger
skin and holding a trident. The ashes on the body symbolizes him as a Yogi,
who has burnt all his evil desires and rubbed himself with the ashes of the
Sutra - The Yoga of Supreme Identity
has been the most remarkable contribution of Kashmir to Indian philosophy.
It existed in Kashmir in the prehistoric period of the Indus Valley
Civilization. There are two schools of Saivism which exist in India today.
One is the dualistic school of South India and the other is the monistic
school of Kashmir. The monistic school of Kashmir is also known as
Trika-Sastra or Rahasya-Sampradaya. Recent excavations in the Indus Valley
and the Middle East reveal that Saivism has been one of the oldest sect of
philosophy of Saivism had basically originated in the Himalayan area near
Kailasa. Tryambakaditya, a disciple of Sage Durvasas, was the first teacher
of this school. The Shiva philosophy and Yoga is known as Agama. According
to Siva-Sutras, One who experiences the delight of Supreme I-consciousness
in all the states of consciousness becomes the master of his senses.
Saivism stresses the possibility of realizing the nature of self through
opening of the third eye or inward eye in meditative trance.
Yoga: Taming the Body,
Dissolving the Mind
Svetasvatara Upanishad say:
yogi has full power over his body then he obtains a new body of spiritual
fire that is beyond illness, old age and death."
Patanjali's Yoga sutra defines:
controlling the ripples of the mind."
Vivekanada (1863-1902) was the foremost disciple
of Ramakrishna and a world spokesperson for Vedanta. India's first spiritual
and cultural ambassador to the West, came to represent the religions of
India at the World Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago in connection
with the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893. He said:
a science which teaches how to awake our latent powers and hasten the
process of human evolution." "It is restraining the mind-stuff from taking
(source: Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita
(1872-1950) most original philosopher of modern India. He has
we practice, is not for ourselves alone, but for the Divine; its aim is to
work out the will of the Divine in the world, to effect a spiritual
transformation and to bring down a divine nature and a divine life into the
mental, vital and physical nature and life of humanity. Its object is not
personal mukti, although mukti is a necessary condition of the yoga, but the
liberation and transformation of the human being."
The Yoga and Its Objects )
Lord Krishna - Master of Yoga
supreme bliss is found only by the tranquil yogi, whose passions have been
stilled. His desires washed away, the yogi easily achieves union with the
Eternal. He sees his Self in all beings, and all beings in his Self, for his
heart is steady in Yoga."
~ The Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita, the most popular and authoritative work on
of transcendence in India. Most of the principles of Hindu philosophy are
summed up in the Bhagavad Gita as the
sermon of Lord Krishna to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The Gita,
as it is commonly known, is a poem of seven hundred verses spread over 18
chapters in the great Hindu epic of the Mahabharata which narrates the story
of the descendants of King Bharata, popularly known as Kauravas and Pandavas,
who fought a destructive civil war about five thousand years ago.
greatest book on Yoga, the Bhagavad Gita was delivered by Lord Krishna on
the eve of one of the fiercest battles fought on Indian soil. The Gita is
held to be the textbook of theistic Yoga par excellence. Each chapter
propounds a different type of Yoga. Lord Krishna has been addressed as
Mahayogi in the Mahabharata. Lord Krishna's teaching in the Bhagavad Gita
have inspired some of the greatest mystics of the Hindu tradition. Simply
stated, the human being only achieves union with God in all of His aspects
through a fusion of contemplation and action. God
is after all both Eternal Being and Eternal Becoming; in contemplative
knowledge of our eternal identity with Brahman, we rest in God's Being, like
a drop of water in the all-surrounding ocean; in enacting the divine will
selflessly, we participate in the transforming activity of God.
Bhagavad Gita is sometimes described as being in some sense a book of yoga.
It emphasizes self-discipline and control over the senses as essential
techniques of a yoga that it defines as the "balance" of the individual and
universal consciousness. "The wavering, restless mind goes wandering on",
Krishna advises the despondent Arjuna: "you must draw it back and have it
focused every time on the soul...Yoga is a harmony, he later continues, "a
harmony in eating and resting, in sleeping and keeping awake: a perfection
in whatever one does." The yoga that Lord Krishna expounds in the Gita is
the karma (action) yoga of self control, and bhakti yoga - the way of
"devotion". In the Bhagavad Gita, Krsna explains to Arjuna the various
routes by which to achieve full consciousness of Atman and therefore perfect
unity with Brahman. Lord Krishna was called Yogesvara because he was
able to think of Yoga as means of achieving the goal by way of self
immutable Yoga I proclaimed to Vivasvat. Vivasvat imparted it to Manu, and
Manu declared it to Ikshvaku. Thus handed down from one to another, the
royal seers learned it."
suggests four important ways to attain moksha - salvation. These four ways
are four yogas: Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Jnana is
the ultimate state, but it has to be reached with the help of other yogas
such as Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, the latter two being more
popular. Even each of these yogas are independently capable of getting
moksha to the practicant; but as the aspirant proceeds in his yogic
experience, he necessarily tends to acquire elements of the other yogas and
attains perfection because perfection is the ultimate goal of all the yogas.
mind on me, Arjuna, practice this yoga, and trust me. Listen, and you'll
start to realize just what I am."
"Of all the endless thousands of men, only one here and there seeks
enlightenment, and among those few there are even fewer who know me as I
are three states in nature, three strands, three gunas - and they come from
me. They are the virtuous sattva, the passionate rajas and the dark and
heavy tamas. They are in me, but I am not in them. They serve to snare and
delude the whole world, which can't perceive that I lie beyond them,
unchanging and undying. Out of these gunas is woven my maya, a power that is
hard to escape. Only those that trust me can get beyond that uncanny force."
The Bhagavad Gita speaks
about very high level of reality. The basic setting of the Gita is a battle
ground. In the middle of the most significant battle of his life, on the
field of dharma (responsible action), Arjuna, who is by type and deep
inclination a warrior, is confused about right action and about his
responsibility in the face of the conflicting demands of the different
levels of dharma. He turns to Krishna, now acting as his charioteer, for
help and instruction. The Bhagavad Gita, which means song of the Blessed
One, contains the teaching given by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in his hour of
crisis of conscience.
your mind on me, Arjuna, practice this Yoga, and trust me. Listen, and
you'll start to realize just what I am"
It is clear right from
the very beginning of the book that the teaching is about dharma. Dharma is
essentially at all scales; at the scale of the entire cosmos, of society, of
the family, and of the individual. The central subject of the Gita is dharma
and the part we have in maintaining order – at all scales! Thus the Gita is
a dialogue between the Dark Lord and the white pupil, between the Infinite
and the finite, between the Unknown Mystery of the other shore and a
wayfarer setting out from this shore, apprehensive and unsure. It is an
exchange between different levels, within ourselves as well as outside.
Krishna himself says ‘From me is all this world (BG 7:7), or ‘This whole
cosmos is strung on me like pearls on a string’, and ‘I reside in the heart
of every being’ (BG 13:2). In these and in similar expressions, Krishna
indicates that he operates at the largest scale and at the highest level.
Arjuna, on the other hand, is confused about action in a particular
situation, at a very different scale and level.
The general outlook of
the Gita is that every action, even the smallest, has a cosmic background,
even though we may not be aware of it. The idea that a human being has the
possibility - not the actuality but the possibility of being a microcosmic
image of the whole cosmos is an idea which is central to Indian thought. A
human being is called a Kshudra Brahmanda, a small Brahmanda, the little egg
of the Vastness. The whole universe is Brahmanda (the egg of Brahman, the
Vastness) and a human being is a small Brahmanda. Arjuna must do on his
human scale what Krishna does on a cosmic scale namely, he must assume
responsibility for the maintenance of order.
The Bhagavad Gita
preaches reintegration through the way of action (karma yoga). Having
removed all attachment and established oneself in the path of realization,
one should remain in action, keeping an even mind, whether, one's actions
bear fruit or not. It is this equanimity of mind which is named yoga.
The Blessed Lord said: "Fearlessness,
cleanness of life, steadfastness in the Yoga of wisdom, alms-giving,
self-restraint, sacrifice and study of the Scriptures, austerity and
straightforwardness; Harmlessness, truth, absence of wrath, absence of
crookedness, compassion to living beings, uncovetousness, mildness, modesty,
vigor, forgiveness, purity, absence of envy or pride..."
Bhagavad Gita Yoga may be called 'Anasakti-Yoga' - the Yoga of
non-attachment. Lord Krishna speaks again and again of the evil of
contact with externals and exhorts all to cut down the tree of worldliness
with the axe of non-attachment. The world is sustained by desire and
affection for things perishable. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, three primordial
properties of Prakriti, constitute the stuff of the world of the senses.
Lord Krishna is the Supreme Self, and everyone should seek shelter under
Him, this is the path to Perfection, to Immortality.
of Krishna's teaching is given in the following stanza: "Steadfast in Yoga
perform actions, abandoning attachment and remaining the same in success and
failure, O Dhananjaya. Yoga is called 'even-ness' (samatva) (BG II.48).0.
The advice of Krishna is designed to draw the attention of the devotee from
the external to the inner world, for the Lord, the intangible and ineffable
"Knower", the wonder of creation, resides in us. The crude material
instruments of science, however delicate, precise, and sensitive they might
me, cannot reach this holy of holies, this Knowing principle which, lying
disguised in the savants, is himself their inventor, designer and architect.
It is no material science, but a loftier discipline that alone can hope to
explore this most mysterious inner universe.
a modern teacher, Krishna, the God incarnate, does not impose this doctrine
on his disciple or on his audience, for that matter. He only counsels Arjuna,
and after giving all his lecture, in the end, He tells that "It is my
opinion; you are at liberty to do whatever you think is right for you."
is the greatest example of the freedom in God worship in Hinduism when the
Lord God Himself does not compel people to have faith in only Him or incite
in them fears of doom and damnation as punishment for disbelieving.
Royal Path of Devotion
I am offered in devotion with a pure heart - a leaf, a flower, or water - I
partake of that love offering. Whatever you do, make it an offering to me -
the food you eat, the sacrifice you make, the help you give, even your
suffering. In this way you will be freed from the bondage of karma, and from
its results both pleasant and painful. Then, firm in renunciation and yoga,
with your heart free, you will come to me."
Yoga - Royal Path of Freedom
means control of the contents of your mind. When your thoughts are stilled,
your consciousness experiences only itself. But when thoughts begin to flow,
you get caught up in them and the images they place before you."
Patanjali's Yoga Sutra says" Yoga consists in the intentional stopping of
the spontaneous activities of the mind-stuff. The mind, by nature, is in
constant agitation. According to Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, the classical text
on yoga, the purpose of yoga is to lead to a silence of the mind. This
silence is the prerequisite for the mind to be able to accurately reflect
objective reality without introducing its own subjective distortions. Yoga
does not create this reality, which is above the mind, but only prepares the
mind to apprehend it, by assisting in the transformation of the mind - from
an ordinary mind full of noise, like a whole army of frenzied and drunken
monkeys - to a still mind.
to the Hindu theory, it is continually transforming itself into the shapes
of the objects of which it becomes aware. Its subtle substance assumes the
forms and colors of everything offered to it by the senses, imagination,
memory, and emotions. It is endowed, in other words, with a power of
transformation, or metamorphosis, which is boundless and never put at rest.
The protean, ever-moving character of the mind, as described both in Sankhya
and in Yoga, is comparable to Emanuel Swedenborg's (1688-1772) idea that
"recipients are images," ie. that the receptive organs assume on the
spiritual plane the form and nature of whatever objects they receive and
contain. (refer to Divine Love and Wisdom - by E. Swedenborg p. 288).
is thus in a continuous ripple, like the surface of a pond beneath a breeze,
shimmering with broken, ever-changing, self-scattering reflections. Left to
itself it would never stand like a perfect mirror, crystal clear, in its
"own state," unruffled and reflecting the inner man; for in order that this
should take place, all the sense impressions coming from without would have
to be stopped, as well as the impulses from within; memories, emotional
pressures, and the incitements of the imaginations. Yoga, however, stills
the mind. And the moment this quieting is accomplished, the inner man,
the life-monad stands revealed - like a jewel at the bottom of a quieted
of yoga is the transformation of human beings from their natural form to a
perfected form. Through yoga a person can become samskrita (literally, well
made, well put together) and thus no longer be wholly at the mercy of
natural forces and inclinations. The undertaking of yoga concerns the entire
person, resulting in a reshaping of mind, body and emotions.
of the royal or Raja Yoga, as it is called, are high and noble even from the
physical side; and they are wide and high. The body and mind must be brought
to heel as an obedient dog, the reasoning and logical mind the same.
Kundalini Yoga - The
Power of the Serpent
Sanskrit, the coiled serpent is used to represent Kundalini, the energy that
rises from the sacrum -- the bone at the base of the spine -- and results in
enlightenment when it properly reaches the crown of the head through the
practice of Kundalini yoga, which channels the energy along the six chakras,
or energy centers, that correspond to the number of intersections of the
serpent on the caduceus. Literally, Kundalini means "The Serpent Power." In
the Caduceus - The Winged Staff, the serpents intersect each other at six
points. i.e. the six Chakras. The term Kundalini means "she who is coiled".
This symbolism simply suggests that the Kundalini is normally in a state of
dormancy or latency.
significant aspect of the subtle body is the psycho-spiritual force known as
the Kundalini-Shakti. What is this mysterious presence in the human body?
The Kundalini in course of its ascension unfolds a perceptual flash of
revelation. According to Kundalini Yoga, inner perception is possible by
stimulating an eye center (ajna-chakra) in which the latest conscious energy
is locked. It is located between the eye-brows, in the middle of the
forehead. By unlocking this energy the inward eye is opened and the Yogi
has a vision of Shiva and Shakti and also of the truth of things.
to Indian tradition, Kundalini is not merely the energy system in the human
body designed for the evolution of the brain and the rise to a higher
dimension of consciousness, but also as the instrument of cosmic life
energy, the stupendous power behind the ceaseless drama of life and the
eternal motion of the stellar universe. The secret of the Serpent Power was
known in Mesopotamia and to the Native Americans. Frank Walters author of
Mexico Mystique, says: "The now famous Hopi Snake Dance in which the priests
dance with snakes in their mouths is the most dramatic ritual still
emphasizing the serpent." Considering the complex and rare nature of the
phenomenon of Kundalini it is unlikely that its knowledge could have
developed independently in different parts of the world. The more likely
position is that it must have travelled from one original source, where it
was initially developed for centuries by a growing civilization, to other
places on the earth. It is reasonable to conclude that the practices
connected with this hidden force must have penetrated to America from India
during the Vedic or pre-Vedic periods.
(For more information, refer to chapter India on Pacific Waves?). From very
early times we see the portrait of the Lord of Serpents or Kundalini with
Shesha-Nag, forming the couch of Lord Vishnu on the Ocean of Milk. The
picture has come unaltered from the remote past, perhaps from the time of
the Vedas, and is a superb allegoric representation of the Serpent Power and
the state of consciousness to which it leads. The word Patanjali in Sanskrit
literally means "one fallen in the palm of the hand." There is another
legend that he fell as a small snake in the palm of Panini. Lord Shiva has
the crescent moon and serpent symbol on the head and so did the Pharaoh
Ramses II with serpent symbol on the headress.
The majority of practitioners of yoga outside India are
primarily interested in improving health and fitness. The ultimate goals may
range from reaching Moksha to physical immortality.
Within the monist schools of Advaita Vedanta and
Shaivism this perfection takes the form of Moksha,
which is liberation from all worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and
death (Samsara) at which point there is a realisation of identity
with the Supreme Brahman. For the Bhakti schools of
Vaishnavism, bhakti or service to Svayam bhagavan
itself is the ultimate goal of the yoga process, wherein perfection
culminates in an eternal relationship with Vishnu, Rama or
Krsna, depending on the affiliation.
Yoga in the Modern
World - The Truth about Yoga
In Hinduism, God is about
experience, not just belief. Yoga is a means through which one can
experience God. Yoga is a very ancient system that originated in India. Yoga
comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, meaning to join together, i.e. become
one with God. Ultimately, Yoga is a system of meditation devised by Rushi’s
many thousands of years ago, but based on the teachings of the Puranas,
Upanishads and Vedas with the aim of finding God. Yogic traditions go back
to The Bhagavad Gita, Vedic sages such as Yajnavalkya and Swaminarayan
Bhagwan himself, who learnt Yoga whilst on Pilgrimage (van vichran). There
are many levels and stages of Yoga and it is an exact science like
mathematics or physics, but one of the most complex. Many of you may have
heard the word ‘SAMADHI’, which is like achieving the ‘black-belt’ in Yoga,
i.e. the highest Yoga level. When you are in SAMADHI it is believed that
your heart rate falls and your body almost switches off, i.e. you may appear
externally to be ‘dead like’, but your mind is in full focus of Maharaj and
Unfortunately, today many have simplified Yoga as consisting of physical and
mental disciplines that make us healthy, alert and happy. It is popularly
assumed that Britain’s Yoga community is dominated by trendy West London
types with more time and money than sense. The reality is that in its truest
form, even before practicing physical Yoga (in the form of asanas) you need
to observe certain basic Disciplines (‘Yam’) and Observances (‘Neam’) in
your daily life. This includes things like ‘Satya’ upholding the truth,
celibacy, non-violence (ahimsa) and not accepting gifts.
Don’t get me wrong, Yoga is not just for the few. The beauty of Yoga is that
you can dip as far as you like into the pond and still receive some
benefits. However, the deeper you go, the more profound the changes. Anyone
can practice the outer or physical aspects of Yoga regardless of religious
orientation. However, one who does not accept the basics of Sanatan Dharma,
i.e. karma, rebirth, bhakti etc. cannot practice the higher levels of Yoga,
which assumes this knowledge. We must be wary of the overuse and
westernisation of the word ‘Yoga’. The West, due to lack of understanding,
have a tendency to corrupt our words (both in definition and usage), with
‘Guru’ being such an example over the last 5 to 10 years. Some westerners
have started creating their own Yoga paths, cults and schools without full
knowledge of the Yoga System, whilst others have commercialised Yoga in
order to make it profitable! Watch out for western variations of Yoga under
names like ‘Pilates’.
Ashtang Yoga is one approach. Others include Jnana Yoga – the Yoga of
Wisdom, consisting of four steps to become liberated from Maya, and Bhakti
Yoga – the Yoga of Devotion, consists of nine steps and is widely considered
to be the easiest yogic path to Maharaj. In brief the nine steps include;
listening, singing, remembering, service to God, rituals (i.e. puja),
prostration, devotion, friendship and self-offering.
“Of all the Yogas, he who always abides on Me with greatest faith, is the
highest Yoga of all” i.e. Bhakti Yoga (Bhagavad Gita Ch. 6.47). ‘In the age
of Kali, people will worship God by performance of “Sankirtana-Yajna” –
chanting of names of Bhagwan. (Bhagavad Gita Ch. 11.5.29).