A BIRD'S EYE-VIEW OF
YOGA OF EAST
It is a fact, that you can hear the word YOGA in every nook and corner of USA. It is freely used among those lucky ones who gulp gallons of champagne and consume tons of Caviar. But few have detailed clues of it. I am not here to state that YOGA IS REAL or NOT REAL. But to just state the facts regarding it. It is very important to know the whole story.
YOGA has nothing to do with any religion. It is a Sanskrit word but still it covers the goal of every religion and every culture on earth. When some one prays to Krishna, he is following BHAKTI YOGA. If some one pray to Jesus, he is also following BHAKTI YOGA. Yoga is like Physics or Chemistry; It is universal.
So, I firmly believe that every one on earth should give more importance to SPIRITUALITY that is developed through practicing different Yogas and less importance to religious dogmas. We have to do things that will elevate us spiritually. We have to slowly eradicate negative thoughts and pump ourselves with positive thoughts. Eventually we have to even eradicate ìpositive thoughtsî and attain ìthought-less stateî. We have to raise our vibrations to higher levels so that we can deal with day to day problems in a very constructive manner. Slowly and steadily we will reach there. That is what Hindu salvation process is all about.
WHAT IS YOGA?
YOGA means UNION WITH DIVINE or SELF REALIZATION OF DIVINE WITHIN YOU. Of course, it has many other meanings too. The word YOGA came from the root word YUJ to YOKE or JOIN. So YOGA teaches one to JOIN THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL [JEEVATHMAN] WITH ABSOLUTE SOUL [PARAMATHMAN OR GOD].
The word YOGA came from PATHANJALI YOGA SUTRA writ-ten by sage PATHANJALI.
He summarized YOGA as
CHITTA VRITHI NIRODHA.
CHITTA means MIND
VRITTI means VIBRATIONS
NIRODHA means STOPPAGE
So according to him, SELF_REALIZATION means STOPPAGE OF
MENTAL VIBRATIONS WITHIN A MAN
Sage Vasishta told Lord Rama in the Yoga Vasishta:
Chit Chalathi Samsare;
Nichale Moksha Muchayatha
when chit [mind] vibrates;
This whole world come to existence;
When the mind stop vibrating [stoppage of thoughts];
This whole world is destroyed;
And person attains salvation
According Hindu scriptures, all of us have the IMMORTAL SOUL within us and that IMMORTAL SOUL is an exact replica of the ABSOLUTE SOUL or GOD. To attain salvation, a person by various methods TRY TO UNITE THE IMMORTAL SOUL [JEE-VATHMAN OR ATMAN ] within the body with ABSOLUTE SOUL or God.
In Hindu salvation process a person is realizing that he/she is indeed the ATMAN [ the immortal soul within] and not the perishable BODY. In Hindu salvation, a person is merging with the PARAMATHMAN [ or God].
The process of Hindu salvation is exactly like a pinch of salt trying to find the bottom of the ocean. The moment the pinch of salt touches the surface of the ocean, it becomes the part and parcel of the ocean...
Hindu scriptures state that people can attain self realization through four methods
A-- JANANA YOGA [by knowledge ];
BóKARMA YOGA [by selfless, unmotivated actions];
CóBHAKTI YOGA [by devotion to God];
DóRAJA YOGA [by breathing exercise and Pranayama].
HOW THE CONCEPT ORIGINATED?
Hindu scriptures state that man's problem is FALSE KNOWLEDGE that HE IS THE BODY. So through YOGA one try to achieve the TRUE KNOWLEDGE THAT HE IS NOT THE BODY, but THE IMMORTAL SOUL WITHIN. The moment ONE realizes that, HIS SOUL WILL UNITE WITH THE ABSOLUTE SOUL OR GOD. All mystics were and are the people who reached that state of Absolute knowledge. Once some one achieve that state, CONCEPT OF DUALITY like YIN and YANG cease to exist.
WHAT IS THE IMMORTAL SOUL?
All those who come from East believe that THERE IS AN IMMORTAL SOUL WITHIN THE MAN, which is an exact replica of the GOD ALMIGHTY. To give a perfect example, let us take the computer. THE ELECTRIC ENERGY with the computer is its IMMORTAL SOUL. It is constantly connected to the NET WORK ELECTRICITY, which is the GOD ALMIGHTY. Get the picture.
I believe in the Holy Bible, concept of the IMMORTAL SOUL was systematically deleted, for the fear of Gnostics and Greek philosophy taking over the faith. IMMORTAL SOUL IS THE MISSING PUZZLE IN THE HOLY BIBLE. Believe it or not, the word IMMORTAL SOUL is not seen in the Holy Bible, except in I Timothy 1:17 where it is used as a reference to Al-mighty God. Ecclesiastic 9:5 states: FOR THE LIVING KNOW THAT THEY WILL DIE; BUT THE DEAD KNOWS NOTHING. The Hebrew word NE-PHESH which is used in reference to soul in the Genesis actually means A BREATHING CREATURE. Sometimes the word NEPHESH is also used in reference to animals. In King James Version, soul is used as a translation of the Greek word PSUCHE meaning BREATH or LIFE.
HOW MANY TYPES OF YOGAS ARE THERE?
Basically there are four Yogas, or FOUR DIFFERENT WAYS TO ATTAIN SELF_ REALIZATION.
1. JNANA YOGA _ PATH OF KNOWLEDGE
2. BHAKTI YOGA _ PATH OF DEVOTION
3. KARMA YOGA _ PATH OF SELF-LESS ACTION
4. RAJA YOGA _ PATH BASED ON THE PRACTICE OF
PRANAYAMA AND THOUGHT CONTROL
There are other types of Yogas which originated from those four paths. Such as HATHA YOGA _ systematic exercises and body con-trols; KRIYA YOGA _ Psychic Pranayama taught by Self_realization fellowship, Los Angeles; KUNDALINI YOGA _ stressing on serpent power within the body; LAYA YOGA _ stressing self realization through activation of Chakras or psychic centers in the body etc.
T.M. [Transcendel Meditation] is MANTRA YOGA using powerful potent words for self_realization. ISKCON [International Society of Krishna Consciousness ] works on BHAKTI YOGA or Yoga of devo-tion. They believe in TOTAL SURRENDER TO THE WILL OF GOD WITHIN. So too, THE BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS.
Let me first start with RAJA YOGA or KINGLY YOGA in which most are interested in. It is the most scientific path of Hinduism. It is based mainly on one book by name PATHANJALI YOGA SUTRA writ-ten by sage PATHANJALI.
He summarized YOGA as CHITTA VRITHI NIRODHA.
CHITTA means MIND
VRITTI means VIBRATIONS
NIRODHA means STOPPAGE
So according to him, SELF_REALIZATION means STOPPAGE OF
MENTAL VIBRATIONS WITHIN A MAN.
PATHANJALI YOGA SUTRA:
WHO WAS PATHANJALI?
Like all other authors of Hindu scriptures, nobody knows exactly, who was the actual real author of the famous PATHANJALI YOGA SUTRAS. As far as I know there are more than one Pathanjali in Hindu scriptures. One Pathanjali is the commentator of HINDU GRAMMAR book. It is the other Pathanjali who supposed to have written the Pathanjali Yoga Sutra. Hindus believe the book was written between 200 B.C. and 50 A. D. Anyway through out the book the author never states that he is discover-er of the methods but merely an expounder of the ancient system of Yoga. So, I believe that SYSTEM OF YOGA expounded by Pathanja-li existed for thousands years before the book was written.
WHAT DOES PATHANJALI YOGA SUTRA CONSISTS OF?
It consists of 4 sections.
1. SAMADHI PADA
2. SADHANA PADA
3. VIBHUTI PADA
4. KAIVALYA PADA
1. Discusses about 5 forms of modifications of mind such as RIGHT KNOWLEDGE, WRONG KNOWLEDGE, FANCY, SLEEP & MEMORY
2. Those modifications of mind can be suppressed by persistent and lively practice and non_attachment to material things.
3. Many ways to achieve that, one of them BY SURRENDER OF PERSON-AL WILL TO THE GOD WITHIN, also known as OM or WORD.
4. Pain, despair, hard_breathing, nervousness etc are signs of A MIND IN TOTAL DISARRAY.
5. PRANAYAMA is one of the easiest method of SUPPRESSING THE MODIFICATIONS OF MIND.
6. Apart from that the book also discusses about KRIYA YOGA, UNIVERSE, IMPORTANCE OF BRAHMACHARYA, PANCHA BHUTAS [5 ELEMENTS OF MATTER], SIDDIS [ MYSTICAL POWERS] etc.
This book has to be studied in its totality with someone who has in depth knowledge in all Hindu scriptures, starting with Vedas; otherwise this book is difficult to understand. Paramahamsa Yogananda repeats most of the things discussed in this book in his AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI. Most of the books written by SWAMI SIVANANDA SARASWATHI were based on Pathanjali Yogasutra.
Now let us briefly go through other YOGAS or methods of self_ realization in Hinduism. Hinduism never ever say that they in- vented those methods or they have exclusive rights for that methods. Only thing it states that anyone who does any form of spiritual pursuit falls into one of those categories. Even a born_again Christian who worship the deity of Christ, is actually worshiping God, exactly like Hare Krishna devotees worshiping Lord Krishna or Moslems worshiping ALLAH or Jews worshiping God in their synagogues. ONE GOD MANY NAMES. That is all. When ever anyone speaks about Hinduism, they never speak about complex nature of it, with thousands of scriptures written by thousands of saints through centuries. That is why sometimes devotees feel Hinduism is confusing.
WHAT EXACTLY IS JNANA YOGA?
JNANA YOGA means ATTAINING SELF REALIZATION THROUGH KNOWLEDGE. Some total of Hindu philosophies are known as JNANA YOGA. They are also called DARSANAS. All those philosophies are based on Hindu Vedas and Upanishads. All have basis in reincarnation and salvation, even though few of them like Nyaya and Vaiseshika are some what atheistic in nature.
HOW MANY HINDU PHILOSOPHIES ARE THERE?
In Hinduism there are many philosophies, even atheistic philosophies. But the 6 most promi-nent Hindu philosophies are:
1. SAMKHYA PHILOSOPHY _ This philosophy does not with a person-al God. Instead it explains everything as two forces of PURUSHA [SPIRIT] and PRAKRITI [matter]. Lord Krishna started his advice to warrior prince Arjuna, starting with this philosophy in the Bhagavad Gita.
2. YOGA PHILOSOPHY: In a lot of ways this philosophy resembles SAMKHYA PHILOSOPHY, especially since it does not deal with a very personal God. It sees the world in DUALITY like YIN AND YANG. It states that Man has to come out of that DUALITY or DWAITA concept and attain ONENESS WITH UNIVERSE or ADVAIDA. As I explained before RAJA YOGA and HATHA YOGA came out of this philosophy
3. MIMAMSA PHILOSOPHY: This philosophy was started at the begin-ning of Vedic period [ at least before 3000 B. C. ] This is a philosophy of vedic interpretation of proper performance of vedic rituals and ceremonies. Mimasa states that only through proper religious rituals and knowledge, the soul can attain salvation. The MIMASA SYSTEM of philosophy is also called PURVA MIMAMSA or VERY FIRST MIMASA to show that it is different from UTTARA MIMAM-SA or LATER MIMASA system.
4. VAISHESHIKA PHILOSOPHY: This philosophy is based on elemental science. In a way, this philosophy deals with science of matter. It teaches that everything is made of 9 elements: EARTH, WATER, AIR, FIRE, SOUL, MIND, ETHER, WATER, TIME and space.
5. NYAYA SYSTEM: This philosophy also deals with the logical nature of the world just like Vaisheshika philosophy. In fact one can see OPEN DEBATES in this system on all subtle things in the universe as such it is also known as TARKA VIDHYA meaning DEBAT-ING EDUCATION. This philosophy can from the Saivate school of thought.
6. VEDANTA SYSTEM: This philosophy was started at the end of Vedic period. Swami Vivekananda and his master Sri Ramakrishna were the great exponent of this philosophy in modern times. It was started by sage Veda Vyasa. But this philosophy became very important after ADI SANKARA propagated it through out India. This philosophy very clearly states that UNLESS AND UNTIL MAN RECOGNIZE THE FACT HE IS THE GOD WITHIN AND NOT THE PHYSICAL BODY, HIS PROBLEM OF REPEATED BIRTHS AND DEATHS WILL CONTINUE FOREVER.
ADVAIDA & DWAITA:
Two systems of philosophies originated from VEDANTA, which are known as ADVAIDA [ ONE ONLY SYSTEM OF PHILOSOPHY ] and DWAITA [ TWO ONLY ] philosophies. Adi Sankara was the proponent of ADVAIDA philosophy and saints like RAMANUJA, MADHAVA etc are proponent of DWAITA philosophies.
BHAKTI YOGA:WHAT IS BHAKTI YOGA?
Bhakti in Sanskrit [ language in which all Hindu scriptures are written] means devotion. In this method, a devotee attains SELF_REALIZATION BY TOTAL SELF_SURRENDER OF HIS PERSONAL WILL TO HIS PERSONAL DEITY. In fact, almost all the people belonging to all religions will fall under this method of spirituality. Through BHAKTI or devotion one is indirectly dissolving his personal EGO and attaining SUPER EGO THAT HE IS ONE WITH THE UNIVERSE. Instead of feeling that he owns one house or one family, realizing that he owns the whole universe.
WHAT ONE SHOULD CAUTION IN BHAKTI YOGA?
Even though in Bhakti Yoga one is supposed to eradicate his/her personal EGO, chances are that Bhakti Yoga makes many to bolster their ego. That is very dangerous and counter productive. In devotion, one should never feel that his personal God is superior to the neighbor's God or his way of worship is superior to neighbor's method. One should be able to worship in all places in all circumstances. One should be able to see his personal God, in all deities of all religions. A Hindu should be able to see his personal God in those beautiful Christian churches or Moslem Mosques or Buddhist vihars or Jewish synagogues. The God that is present in the Hindu temples is the same God that is present in churches, mosques, vihars, synagogues and million other places. It is utter stupidi-ty to believe that God will only answer if you pray in Sanskrit or Latin. God who came as Christ or as Krishna will answer all prayers whether those prayers make any sense or not literally.
WHAT IS KARMA YOGA?
The word KARMA came from the root word KRI or TO DO. The word KARMA like the word YOGA has many many meanings in Hinduism, like result, causality, product, deeds, destiny, action etc. Karma Yoga was first expounded in SATAPATHA BRAHMA-NA. It is based on the concept of NISKAMA KARMA or UNSELFISH ACTIONS. Hindus believe that BY SELF LESS ACTIONS one can attain self realization. So, Karma Yoga in a nutshell is ATTAINING SELF REALIZATION OR FREEDOM FROM REINCARNATIONS THROUGH SELF_LESS ACTIONS.
Lord Krishna teaches KARMA YOGA in detail in the Bhagavad Gita.
1. According to Krishna, ACTION IS UNAVOIDABLE, WHEN YOU TAKE THE BODY AND AS SUCH ONE HAS TO PRACTICE SELF_LESS ACTIONS TO ATTAIN SALVATION.
2. If one resort to selfish actions, one will be deluded and will be forced to take repeated incarnations.
3. Each person takes a body, according his previous karma in his previous life.
4. Sum total of a man's thoughts and actions become part and part of his KARMA [ fate] and it is that KARMA which decides his day to day life as well as life after death.
5. One of the ways to burn away one's KARMIC DEBT is to SURRENDER ONESELF TO THE GOD WITHIN. You may call that God by name Christ or Krishna or ALLAH or Jehovah.