"Without the practice of yoga, How could knowledge Set the atman (soul) free? asks the Yogatatva Upanishad. Yoga: union with the ultimate. Carl G. Jung the eminent Swiss psychologist, described yoga as 'one of the greatest things the human mind has ever created.'  Yoga sutra consists of two words only: yogash chitta-critti-nirodah, which may be translated: “Yoga is the cessation of agitation of the consciousness.”

The word yoga is derived from the root yuj, which means to unite or to join together. The practice of yoga may lead to the union of the human with the divine - all within the self. The aim of yoga is the transformation of human beings from their natural form to a perfected form. The Yogic practices originated in the primordial depths of India's past. From this early period the inner attitudes and disciplines which were later identified and given orderly expression by Patanjali. 

According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the classical text on yoga, the purpose of yoga is to lead to a silence of the mind (1.2). This silence is the prerequisite for the mind to be able to accurately reflect objective reality without 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. 

Jean Varenne author of Yoga and Indian Philosophy, observes: “The only remaining testimony to the prestigious civilization of ancient Egypt lies buried in archaeological remains; which meant that the inhabitants of the Nile valley, converted to Islam thirteen centuries ago, had to wait for Champollion to decipher the hieroglyphics before they could know anything of the beliefs of their distant ancestors. Yet during all this time Hindu families continued, and still continue today, to venerate the selfsame Vishnu who is celebrated in the archaic hymns of the Rig Veda…”

Yoga is an integral part of the Hindu religion. There is a saying: “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga." The country of origin of Yoga is undoubtedly India, where for many hundreds of years it has been a part of man's activities directed towards higher spiritual achievements. The Yoga Philosophy is peculiar to the Hindus, and no trace of it is found in any other nation, ancient or modern. It was the fruit of the highest intellectual and spiritual development. The history of Yoga is long and ancient. The earliest Vedic texts, the Brahmanas, bear witness to the existence of ascetic practices (tapas) and the vedic Samhitas contain some references, to ascetics, namely the Munis or Kesins and the Vratyas.  

Historical Survey
Yoga Basics

Schools 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 Serpent
World wide popularity to Yoga
Hostility to Yoga in Church
Yoga in the Modern World



"Living souls are prisoners
of the joys and woes of existence
to liberate them from nature's magic
the knowledge of the brahman is necessary.
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 there,
Yet it is one, in truth,
knowledge, the supreme refuge!

      - Yoga Upanishad


From 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 Divine,
Behold my Cosmic Splendor Line.

       - Bhagavad Gita xl.8.

The word 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. 


An ascetic, in the Yogasana pose. dated from 8th century. 

(image source; Museum of Trivandrum, Kerala). 


Yoga, 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 Sankhya-Yoga. 

"This they consider Yoga: the steady holding of the senses." - Katha-Upanishad

"Yoga is said to be the oneness of breath, mind, and senses, and the abandonment of all states of existence."

"Yoga is known as the disconnection (viyoga) of the connection (samyoga) with suffering." - The Bhagavad Gita

"Yoga is ecstasy (samâdhi)." - Yoga-Bhâshya

"Yoga is said to be control." - Brahmânda-Purâna

"Yoga is the control of the whirls of the mind." - Yoga Sutra

Yoga 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. Yoga is an ancient technique originating from India and produces a union of body and soul. It is not only a good exercise technique to cure the ills of the body and to keep in good shape but it is also excellent for mental and spiritual health. Practiced from time immemorial, different techniques of yoga have evolved. The Kriya yoga is a system consisting of yogic techniques that accelerate spiritual development and bring on a deep state of serenity and ultimately, communion with God and nature. In the yoga sutra of Patanjali, as long as the soul is attached to sense enjoyment, it is called pratyag-atma.

The traditional yoga lifestyle strives toward the goals of asceticism, which seeks to zero-out all desires, attachments, emotions, and ego clinging. The goal of yoga is essentially to cause the mind to become like zero. In fact, the goal of meditation (the central feature of the yoga lifestyle) is to zero-out thoughts, to zero-out the mind and realize the true condition of reality... zero. To know the supreme become like the supreme... zero.  

“He who contemplates on sunya...is absorbed into space...
think on the Great Void unceasingly. The Great Void,
whose beginning is void, whose middle is void,
whose end is void. . . By contemplating continually
on this, one obtains success [enlightenment].” 
- The Siva Samhita [9].

The next step is to discover and see the localized form of Vishnu, the plenary representation of Krishna, dwelling within one's heart. One who seeks an improvement in health or aspires after material perfection is no yogi. In fact, by practice of yoga one becomes gradually detached from material concepts. This is the primary characteristic of the yoga principle. The next principle is that one becomes situated in trance or samadhi which means that the yogi realises the Supersoul through transcendental mind and intelligence, without any misgivings of identifying the self with the Supersoul. Purusartha sunyam means devoid of pursuits of religiousity, economic development, sense gratification and the attempt to become one with the Supreme in liberation. After the chitta-vritti-nirodha, or material cessation, the pratyag atma manifests spiritual activities or devotional service to the Supreme Lord.

Yoga, 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. 

Top of Page

Historical Survey

Yoga has 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."  

The 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. 

Western 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. 

Yoga can 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 immemorial.


Ancient seal: A pose of a yogi.


Within 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.

Sri Aurobindo said: "All life is Yoga." It means human life itself is yoga because many things are united in human organism.

Thomas 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 discipline."

L Adams Beck has observed:

"The true 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. "

Top of Page

Yoga Basics

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 is not. 

Several Upanishads 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 the Mind

"Yoga is 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 State.

Yoga 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 Stages of Yoga 

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: 1.Yama (moral 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  

Pratyahara: the 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 Jnana Yoga. 

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 Ikshvaku.    
“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.”

Top of Page

Schools of Yoga

Sankhya 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 identical goal.

The Sankhya System

Founded 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.

Sankhya is derived from the word "Sankhya" which means numbers. 

Sankhya-Yoga 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 terminating it."

(image source: Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America. Inc - 2002 calendar).

No 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.

This 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. 

Pure 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.

Sankhya, 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:

a. sattva, or lightness
b. rajas, or impetus
c. tamas, or inertia

In the 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.

In The 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."

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

Patanjali defines Yoga as the “cessation of movements of the mind.”  - "Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodha"

Ignorance consists in attributing permanence,
Subjectivity, homogeneity and pleasurability to
What is impermanent, non-substantial, non-
homogenous and painful. 

   - Yoga Sutra 2,5).

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.

Patanjali's introductory aphorism (sutra) defining Yoga

The term 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. 

(image source: Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America. Inc - 2002 calendar).

The 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 (spiritual aspirant). 

This is 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. 

If 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.' 

Top of Page

The Wheel of Yoga

The heritage of Yoga was handed down from teacher to pupil by word of mouth. The Sanskrit term for this transmission of esoteric knowledge is parampara, which means literally "come after another" or "succession." The Indian Yoga tradition has not ceased to change and grow, adapting to new sociocultural conditions. This is borne out by Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga, a unique modern approach that is based on traditional Yoga but goes beyond it by incorporating our contemporary understanding of biological evolution. 


The Wheel of Yoga: Different approaches to God-realization in Hinduism.

(image source: Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy - By Georg Feuerstein).


Types of Yoga

R. S. Nathan in his book, Hinduism That is Sanatana Dharma p. 57, writes: "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. 

1. Jnana Yoga - is the way of wisdom. 

The Jnana 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. 

The term 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. 

Jnana 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. 

2. Bhakti Yoga - is the way of exclusive devotion to God. 

Bhakti 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 Most High". 

3. Karma Yoga - is the way of selfless work. 

To exist 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). 

4. Raja Yoga  - The Respelendent Yoga of Spiritual Kings    

This 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."

Romain 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. 

"The 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."

Swami 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." 

Other Forms of Yoga

There are 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.

Once a 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 of meditation. 

All these 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-bhashya (1.1). (image source: Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy - By Georg Feuerstein).

Top of Page

Lord Shiva - Lord of Yoga

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 sattva. 


Shiva: The Lord of Yoga meditating on Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas.

(image source: The Elements of Hinduism - By Stephen Cross p. 77).


Shiva - 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 ritual fire. 

Shiva Sutra - The Yoga of Supreme Identity

Saivism 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 India. 

The 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.

Top of Page

Yoga: Taming the Body, Dissolving the Mind

Svetasvatara Upanishad say:

"When the 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:

"Yoga is controlling the ripples of the mind."

Swami 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:

"Yoga is 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 different forms."

(source: Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita - By Tom McArthur p. 12-14).

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) most original philosopher of modern India. He has observed:

"The yoga 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."

(source: The Yoga and Its Objects - by Sri Aurobindo p. 1).

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)  American Philosopher, Unitarian, social critic, transcendentalist and writer. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who aroused in him a true enthusiasm for India. He was dazzled by Indian spiritual texts, especially the Bhagavad-Gita. He kept a well-thumbed copy of the Gita in his cabin at Walden Pond, and claimed wistfully that “at rare intervals, even I am a yogi.”

(source: Fear of Yoga - By Robert Love - Columbia Journalism Review- December 2006).

Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) had one of the longest and most distinguished careers of any violinist of the twentieth century. He was among the first in the West to espouse yoga and the principles of organic food.

"The practice of yoga induces a primary sense of measure and proportion. Reduced to our own body, our first instrument, we learn to play it, drawing from it maximum resonance and harmony."

(source: Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita - By Tom McArthur p. 12-14).

"Yoga" means "union."  Its goal is union with the infinite, a goal which can be reached by any number of routes; but just as there is one ending, so there is one beginning, the asanas of Hatha Yoga, which are the precondition of every advance. It would be possible to make yoga a life's occupation, giving up more and more of one's time to its refinement. For me yoga is primarily a yardstick to inner peace. In my life yoga is an aid to well-being, permitting me to do more and to do better."

(source: Unfinished Journey - By Yehudi Menuhin p.  250 - 268).

Yoga touched every dimension of Yehudi Menuhin’s life. He wrote about Yoga: 

“Yoga made its contribution to my quest to understand consciously the mechanics of violin playing.” “Yoga taught me lessons it would have taken me years to learn by other means. Yoga was my compass.” He was a genius at peace - a peace, he said, that came from yoga. 

(source: Hinduism Today July/August/September 2003 p. 40-41).

Sir John Woodroffe (1865-1936) the well known a Hindu scholar, Advocate-General of Bengal and sometime Legal Member of the Government of India. author of several books including The Serpent Power. He had a a prolific output as a scholar of Tantra. Had it not been for him, we might still share that general prejudice regarding Tantra. Woodroffe boldly disregarded the hostile attitude towards Tantra. He wrote:

"That which is the general characteristic of the Indian systems, and that which constitutes their real profundity, is the paramount importance attached to Consciousness and its states.. And whatever be the means employed, it is the transformation of the 'lower' into 'higher' states of consciousness which is the process and fruit of Yoga."

Heinrich Zimmer (1890-1943), the great German Indologist, a man of penetrating intellect, the keenest esthetic sensibility. He describes:

"The aim of the doctrine of Hindu philosophy and of training in yoga is to transcend the limits of individualized consciousness."

(source: Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita - By Tom McArthur p. 12-14).

Alain Danielou (1907-1994) founded the Institute for Comparative Music Studies in Berlin and Venice, author of several books on the religion, history, and art of India, defines:

"Yoga is to silence the mind, leaving all mental activity is Yoga." 

Justin O’Brien a well-known writer, author of Walking With The Himalayan Master, theologian, philosopher and a long time explorer in ‘wellness’ and human consciousness. A former Catholic monk, he is also an ordained Pandit in the Himalayan tradition. He lived with Swami Rama - the master of yoga, spirituality, meditation and Ayurveda for over 20 years. He says:

"Yoga is an experience of life and it is a path which offers dignity and sacredness.'

Max Muller (1823-1900) German philologist and Orientalist. He speaks of Yoga as of "the feeling of wonderment." "I do not say that the evidence here adduced would pass muster in a court of law. All that strikes me is the simplicity on the part of those who relate this. Of course we know that such things as the miracle related here are impossible, but it seems almost as great a miracle that such things should ever have been believed and should still continue to be believed. Apart from that, however, we must also remember that the influence of the mind of the body and of the body on the mind is as yet but half explored; and in India and among the yogins we certainly meet, particularly in more modern times, with many indications that hypnotic states are produced by aritificial means and interpreted as due to an inferference of supernatural powers in the event of ordinary life."

(source: The Story of Oriental Philosophy - By L Adams Beck p. 100 - 101).

Howard Kent author of several books on yoga, including Yoga: An Introductory Guide to Optimum Health for Mind, Body and Spirit says:

"It is the most complete synthesis of the realities of life and living."

Mircea Ellade (1907-1986) a native of Romania, lectured in the Ecole des Hautes-Etudes of the Sorbonne. He observes:

"Yoga constitutes a characteristic dimension of the Indian mind, to such a point that whatever Indian religion and culture have made their way, we also find a more or less pure form of Yoga. In India, Yoga was adopted and valorized by all religious movements, whether Hinduist or 'heretical.' The various Christian or syncretistic Yogas of modern India constitutes another proof  that Indian religious experience finds the yogic methods of "meditation" and "concentration" a necessity. 

"Yoga had to meet all the deepest needs of the Indian soul. In the universal history of mysticism, Yoga occupies a place of its own, and one that is difficult to define. It represents a living fossil, a modality of archaic spirituality that has survived nowhere else. Yoga takes over and continues the immemorial symbolism of initiation; in other words, it finds its place in a universal tradition of the religious history of mankind." "From the Upanishads onward, India has been seriously preoccupied with but one great problem - the structure of the human condition. With a rigor unknown elsewhere, India has applied itself to analyzing the various conditionings of the human being."

"The conquest of this absolute freedom, or perfect spontaneity, is the goal of all Indian philosophies and mystical techniques; but it is above all through Yoga, through one of the many forms of Yoga, that India has held that it can be assured."

"Yoga is present everywhere - no less in the oral tradition of India than in the Sanskrit and vernacular literature....To such a degree is this true that Yoga has ended by becoming a characteristic dimension of Indian spirituality."

(source:  Yoga: Immortality and Freedom - By Mircea Ellade p. xvi - xx and 101 and 359-364).

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was one of the foremost interpreters of myth in our time and a prolific writer.

' Yoga, in the broadest sense of the word, is any technique serving to link consciousness to the ultimate truth. One type of yoga I have already mentioned: that of stopping the spontaneous activity of the mind stuff. This type of mental discipline is called Råja Yoga, the Kingly, or Great Yoga. But there is another called Bhakti Yoga, Devotional Yoga; and this is the yoga generally recommended for those who have duties in the world , tasks to perform, and who cannot, therefore, turn away to the practice of that other, very much sterner mode of psychological training. This much simpler, much more popular, yoga of worship consists in being selflessly devoted to the divine principle made manifest in some beloved form.  Bhakti Yoga will then consist in having one's mind continually turned toward, or linked to, that chosen deity through all of one's daily tasks."

(source: Joseph Campbell Foundation For more on Joseph Campbell refer to Quotes1-20).

"Verily, this entire (world) is the Absolute (brahm). Tranquil, one should worship It (through), for one comes forth from It."


Thomas Berry

"Yoga is a spirituality rather than a religion. As a spirituality it has influenced the entire range of Indian religion and spiritual development. In a specific and technical sense, Yoga is counted as one of the six thought systems of Hinduism."

(source: Religions of India - By Thomas Berry p. 75).

Alan Watts (1915-1973) a professor, graduate school dean and research fellow of Harvard University. 

"In the beginning of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali described yoga which means union as spontaneously stopping the agitation of thinking."

For the intellectual type there is the Gnana Yoga, the way of thought; for the feeling type there is Bhakti Yoga, the way of love; for the worker there is Karma Yoga, the way of service. But for those exceptionally gifted, there is a fourth which comprises the other three – Raja Yoga, the royal way, and this contains not only the trinity of thought, love and service, but also that mainly psychic form of yoga known as Hatha…..so great are the powers which it develops that they are only safe in the hands of those of the highest moral discipline, those who can be trusted to use them without thought of personal gain. 

(source: The Wisdom of Asia – by Alan Watts p. 27-28)

"It is almost certain, however, that Taoist Yoga was derived in great measure from India, and it is here that we must look for the greater wealth of information."

(source: The Legacy of Asia and Western Man - By Allan Watts  p.1-2 and 28-29 and 85).

Richard Hittleman (1927 -1991) founded his first school in Florida and pioneered Yoga instruction via television with the "Yoga For Health" series, which premiered in Los Angeles. These programs, televised throughout the United States and in many foreign countries, have been instrumental in generating the significant growth of Yoga practice in the western world.

"For many thousands of people dreams of new life, a return to second youth, a beautiful, strong and trim body, through which radiates health and vitality, a wonderful peace of mind, have come true through my yoga instruction."

(source: Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita - By Tom McArthur p. 12-14).

Usha Chatterji has written:

"Yoga prepares the way which leads to spiritual enlightenment and ultimately to salvation. This is, Yoga undertakes to give to the spirit the supreme good, whereby material obstacles become auxiliaries to such an extent that Nature herself is shorn of her light and retires beaten from the field."

(source: Comprendre La Religion Hindoue - By Usha Chatterji Paris 1954 p. 88).

Tom MacArthur who ran courses on yoga for the University of Edinburgh, says:

"Many people look to yoga as a kind of Eastern promise, but there are in fact a variety of good reasons, apart from an interest in health or mysticism, for studying yoga and its background. For example, the very antiquity of the subject. There are precious few human traditions that extend in an unbroken line through thirty centuries or more  - effectively from the Bronze Age to the Space Age - without losing their ability to attract, alter..."

"There are no Egyptian pharaohs now, but when Cleopatra lived there were yogis, and there are yogis still. The Greek philosophers and the Roman legions are no more, the Arab-Muslim expansion has come and gone, and the European maritime empires on which the sun wasn't supposed to set have all been dismantled. Some kind of yoga was there when all that was happening, and many kinds of yoga are here now - some even being considered for use abroad starships. That is continuity and it is worth a little thought. Yoga is embedded in the literature of the Hindus as well as in their age old practices, and that literature is in turn one of the richest seams of recorded language anywhere on the planet. The sheer volume of stories, treatises, and commentaries challenges the imagination. "

(source: Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita - By Tom McArthur p. 12-14).

Har Bilas Sarda states:

"The Yoga Philosophy is peculiar to the Hindus, and no trace of it is found in any other nation, ancient or modern. It was the fruit of the highest intellectual and spiritual development. The existence of this system is another proof of the intellectual superiority of the ancient Hindus over all other peoples."

(source: Hindu Superiority - By Har Bilas Sarda p. 294).

Carl G. Jung (1875-1961) the eminent Swiss psychologist in 1935, described yoga as 'one of the greatest things the human mind has ever created.' Harold Coward says that the main basis of Jung's understanding of karma came from his study of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Jung formulated his archetypes in terms of the karma theory. Says Jung: "We may accept the idea of karma only if we understand it as 'psychic heredity' in the very widest sense of the word." In his later thought Jung saw karma as the motivation for knowledge that leads from past life into this life and onto future lives.

Michael Pym author has observed:

"Yoga is a deadly serious business, requiring more courage, more intelligence, more will-power, and even more solid common sense than most of us possess. There is more to it than vague speculation or iridescent dreams. Not less but more, hard, daily grind; not less but, at times, more discouragement and flatness; not less but more, study, more patience, more self-control. Modesty, purity, complete and unostentatious sincerity, that inward loveliness which perfumes the whole being – that is something of yoga. Nothing is more quickly felt, more remarkable, than the intense sweetness, the touching simplicity of the true yogi."

(source: The Power of India - By Michael Pym p. 168-169).  

Brahaspati, the God of the Planet Jupiter. Orissa. 12th century.

(image source: The Wonder that was India - By A L Basham p. 199).


Georg Feuerstein founder-director of the Yoga Research and Education Center in Northern California, has describes:

Yoga as a "spectacularly multifaceted phenomena". Yoga is thus the generic name for the various Indian paths of ecstatic self-transcendence, or the methodical transmutation of consciousness to the point of liberation from the spell of the ego-personality. It is the psycho-spiritual technology specific to the great civilization of India."

"The desire to transcend the human condition, to go beyond our ordinary consciousness and personality, is a deeply rooted impulse that is as old as self-aware humanity. But nowhere on Earth has the impulse toward transcendence found more consistent and creative expression than on the Indian peninsula. The civilization of India has spawned an almost over whelming variety of spiritual beliefs, practices, and approaches. These are all targeted at a dimension of reality that far eclipses our individual human lives and the orderly cosmos of our human perception and imagination. That dimension has variously been called God, the Supreme Being, the Absolute, the (transcendental) Self, the Spirit, the Unconditional and the Eternal."

(source: The Yoga Tradition: History, Religion, Philosophy and Practice - by Georg Feuerstein p xxv - 3 and Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy - By Georg Feuerstein p. 15). For more on Georg Feuerstein refer to Quotes121-140).

David Frawley also known as Pandit Vamadeva Shastri, the eminent teacher and practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine and Vedic astrology, founder of American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico writes:

"Ayurveda and Yoga can be called sister sciences of 'self-healing and self-realisation'. Both evolved from a Vedic background in ancient India, based on the same philosophy, sharing many practices. Ayurveda, the 'yogic form of healing', is aimed at bringing us back into harmony with our true Self or Atman. The great Ayurvedic teacher Charaka defines Ayurveda as the harmony of body, prana, mind and soul. Patanjali defines yoga as controlling the mind in order to realise the Purusha." 

"Yoga is the spiritual aspect of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the therapeutic branch of Yoga."

(source: Ayurveda & Yoga: Healing Touch - by David Frawley and  Ayurveda and the Mind - by David Frawley p.5).

Emma Hawkridge states: "Yoga is a philosophy, and a stern and relentless one. The word yoga means yoke - to yoke or harness the wild horses of the senses or to join the individual to the All. Yoga intends not merely to expound a theory, but to practice it to the extreme conclusion. It is a philosophy plus a technique believed to give intuitive realization. Yoga follows more nearly the Sankhya which saw Creator and Creation as separate realities, like a dancer and his audience. Yoga believed that matter - which is real - and mind stuff - which is also real though changeful and sorrowing - enmesh the unchanging soul."

(source : Indian Gods and Kings - by Emma Hawkridge p. 5-53).

Stefano De Santis (1957 -  ) author of Nature and Man, writes:

The system of Yoga, which follows the main Sankhyan views, the real being of man is the spirit, and that the spirit is free. The system of Yoga, which follows the main Sankhyan ontological principles, is a discipline meant to help man realize his spiritual nature and discover his own freedom. The living conditions of the man-in-the-world are seen by Yoga, man gets lost in the effort to acquire more and more things, in becoming more powerful, in gaining more appreciation and love. So he alienates his freedom in exchange for objects of gratification. In this way he gets entangled in the world nexus. Yoga says that discipline is the path to freedom. It does not propose a discipline that leads man away from nature, but a discipline leading man away from the alienating attachments to false natures, i.e., away from his mental projections falsely imposed over reality. This means that yoga is a discipline which enables man to discover his true Nature. Because, according to Yoga, man’s essence is spiritual; and his true nature may be described as freedom. 

Yoga literally means “junction”. As is the case with Sankhya, Yoga concepts are present in the Upanishads, where the term Yoga signifies the union of the personal soul with the soul of the universe. Among all the different formulations of Yoga, Patanjali’s system is the closet to Sankhya’s doctrines, and his Yoga Sutras are universally acknowledged as the highest authority on Yoga as a darsana.

When Yoga was already well established in the Indian subcontinent, the “humanistic” and “rationalist” Greeks had not yet arrived at a solution to their problem of whether to consider the psyche as being made of air or of water, or if it were a kind of “shadow” present inside the bodies. 

(source: Nature and Man: The Hindu Perspective - by Stefano De Santis  volume I  p 73 - 85). Also Refer to Yogaunveiled.com

Top of Page

Lord Krsna - Master of Yoga

"The 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

The Bhagavad Gita, the most popular and authoritative work on the subject 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. 

The 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. 

The 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 realization. 

"This 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." 

The Gita 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.


Lord Krishna - The Master of Yoga

Refer to Deva Premal music - Dakshina


Lord Krsna says:

"Fix your 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 really am."

"There 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.   

"Fix your mind on me, Arjuna, practice this Yoga, and trust me. Listen, and you'll start to realize just what I am" 

The Bhagavad Gita, a world beloved, timeless classic was treasured by American writers from Emerson to T S Eliot.

(image source: Philosophy of Hinduism - By Galav p. 94).


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..."

The 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.

The gist 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.

Yet, like 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." 

This 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.

The Royal Path of Devotion

Sri Krishna said:

"Whatever 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."

Top of Page

Yoga: The Royal Path to Freedom

Ascetic - yogic exercises having attained a detachment of senses which makes him impervious to the surrounding snow and ice in the Himalayas.

(source: India - By Adrian Mayer  p. 40).


"Yoga 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.

According 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).

The mind 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 pond.

The aim 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. 

The aims 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. 

Top of Page

Kundalini - The Power of the Serpent

In 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.

The most 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. 

According 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. 

Traditions of Saints

Gorakhnath, (10-11th century C.E.) the great siddha of medieval age, holds that an individual can have an access to higher planes of consciousness through awakening of kundalini. 

Bhartrihari, the royal saint in Vakyapadiya (I.38) states: "The words of those who, with their divine vision see things which are beyond the senses and unknowable, cannot be set aside by reasoning." "The knowledge of the past and the future of those whose insight has manifested itself and whose mind stuff is not tainted, differs in no way from perception."

Kabir (1398-1518) Indian Mystic Philosopher  declares:

Sufism insists on quest of the One Supreme Eternal through "inner perception" and good conduct. Imam Ghazali the great Persian scholar refers to the pure eye of the heart without which the spiritual world cannot be seen. He makes a specific reference to it: "An eye is created within the mind of every man but it is covered by him with passions and earthly desires and nothing of the spiritual world can be seen with that eye of heart unless the screen over it is removed."

Intuition as integral insight in its essence is attributed to the Divine Mind. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) scientist, condemned of heresy by the Church for his belief that the Earth rotates round the sun, says: "We proceed in step-by-step discussion from inference to inference, whereas He conceives through mere intuition."

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) philosopher was excommunicated and suffered a cruel death for his dangerous ideas. He was kept in a dark dungeon for eight years by the Church and roasted to death by fire. He observes: "The divine mind contemplates everything in one simple act at once and without succession, that is, without the difference between the past, present and future; To Him all things are present."

However, the Divine is not alien to man but in a sense identical to man. Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) Christian mystics declares:

"The eye with which we see God is the same as the eye with which God sees us."

Joseph Leeming (1897-1968) - In a recent publication, Yoga and the Bible: the yoga of the Divine word, has endeavored to show that the basic teachings of the New Testament and some parts of the Bible are essentially similar to the fundamental truths taught for ages by the teachers of Shabad Yoga; Shabad, meaning divine or inner sound, refers to the power which in the Bible is called the Word or Logos. The Yoga of the divine word, or Shabad Yoga, is a system of meditation and other spiritual practices, which takes its followers to the highest attainable states of spiritual consciousness. 

Jacob Boehme
(1575-1624) Christian Gnostics says:

"When both the intellect and the will are quiet and passive, the eternal hearing, seeing and speaking shall be revealed in thee."

Evelyn Underhill (1850- 1941) mystic states:

"Superhuman knowledge is obtainable by illumination."

Samuel Coleridge (1772-1834) the well known British poet and critic says:

"The soul in man is his proper being, his truest self, the man in the man...Nothing is wanted but the eye which is the eye of this soul."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) the eminent American transcendentalist, and writer states:

""Standing on the bare ground - my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, - all means egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball. I am nothing: I see all; the currents of the Universal Being Circulate through me; I am part or particle of God."

For more on Emerson, refer to chapter Quotes 1-20).

The inner perception or the divine eye - Divya Chakskhu is a vehicle of poise and perfection, prophecy and power, bliss and benevolence and of tremendous self-development and supreme fulfillment. Modern science, by narrowing the vision and attitude of man to the sensible domain and by neglecting the claims of the innermost being, has released only a lop-sided view of life and the universe. This has stopped man's evolution from instinctual-intellectual to intuitional-psychic level. Yoga brings about inner discipline and inner equilibrium. 

(source: Divya Chakshu Yoga: Exploring the Divine Eye - By Bhim Sen Gupta Ajit Publication. Chandigarh 1991 p. 61-65 and Hinduism - By Linda Johnsen p. 42 and India and World Civilization - By D P. Singhal  chapter III p. 291).


Center or Lotuses

(image source: The Serpent Power - By Sir John Woodroffe).



In Yoga there are Chakras or certain psychic centers in our body which are connected with certain paranormal powers latent in Man. These powers or "Miraculous faculties" are called Siddhies, in a perfected Yogi or a Master known as "Siddha."

The yogi who has attained complete mastery over the technique of breathing, and who has been able by this means to isolate himself totally from the external world, succeeds in "seeing" the interior of his body or, in other words acquires intuitive knowledge of the secret mandala that his subtle body forms. Rather like electricity, the life force (prana) condensed in the subtle body travels along pathways called nadi, in Sanskrit. The nadis are energy currents. Commonly, the Yoga scripture mention 72,000 nadis in all.  Having unraveled the tangled web of the nadis (currents/pathways), he reaches the end of his journey of initiation and penetrates to the most inward part of himself, at the base of the trunk, where there is a cave located at the foot of the cosmic mountain. In this cave the yogi perceives three things: a fire of glowing embers, a sleeping serpent, and the threefold orifice of the three principal channels, the ida, the pingala, and the sushumna:

"The divine power,
like Kundalini shines
like the stem of a young lotus;
like a snake, coiled around upon herself,
she holds her tail in her mouth
and lies resting half asleep
at the base of the body."

The great task is to awaken this serpent, which means, in symbolic terms, to achieve conscious awareness of the presence within us of shakti or "cosmic power" and begin to use it in the service of spiritual progress. 

Seven Chakras are located within the subtle body. They are arranged vertically along the axial channel. 

  1. Muladhara - situated at the base (mula, root) of the trunk

  2. Svadhisthana - located at the level of the sexual organs

  3. Manipura - located on the latitude of the navel

  4. Anahata - at the level of the heart

  5. Vishuddha - level of the throat

  6. Ajna - located at the level of the forehead

  7. Sahasrara - or thousand rayed. it is a simple circle of which we are told only that it radiates splendor.

By forcing the life energy (prana) along the axial energy until it rushes upward like a volcanic eruption, flooding the crown center and thereby leading to the desired condition of blissful ecstasy (samadhi). The life force which is responsible for the functioning of the body-mind, and the Kundalini-shakti are both an aspect of the Divine Power or Shakti. It we compare the life force to electricity, the Kundalini can be likened to a high voltage electric charge. Or if we regard the life force as a pleasant breeze, the Kundalini is comparable to a hurricane. 

Sir John Woodroffe (1865-1936) the well known British scholar and author of several books including The Serpent Power has noted that Shakti is Power, or cosmic Capacity, and as such is Bliss (ananda), Supraconsciousness (cit), and Love (prema). Some authorities call it "Divine Intelligence." 

For more on Sir John Woodroffe refer to chapter on Quotes 251-270). Also Refer to Yogaunveiled.com

Top of Page

World wide popularity of Yoga

As many as 20 million Americans practice yoga in pursuit of physical or mental fitness, with a little Om along the way.  

Recent surveys reveal that more than eleven million Americans currently do yoga on a regular basis - in YMCAs, health clubs, private studios, senior centers, living room floors, and retreat centers around the country. The Miami Dolphins and the Chicago Bulls are doing it. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are doing it. Sting, Madonna, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raquel Welch, Woody Harrelson, Jane Fonda, and Ali McGraw are doing it. With almost alarming rapidity, practices whose secrets have been handed down for thousands of years from adept to student, have landed on Main Street USA. 

(source: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self - By Stephen Cope p. xi).

Sachin Tendulkar, football's Eddie George, Shannon Sharpe and Amani Toomer; baseball pitchers Barry Zito and Al Leiter, star hockey goalie Sean Burke and NBA superstar Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O'Neal, as well as pro golfers and tennis player, Pete Sampras, Leander Paes, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, John McEnroe, Madonna, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Lee Curtis and Raquel Welch of whom are enthusiastic yoga practitioners. 

(Refer to Sachin Tendulkar takes up Yoga - BBC and  Athletes Practicing Yoga).

Yoga makes headway in business schools

Walk through the halls of the University of Chicago 's Graduate School of Business during the school year, and along with students cramming facts for macroeconomics and operating strategy you may encounter some students stretching their bodies and doing something really unusual for business school students: relaxing. They're members of Chicago 's yoga club, a student group founded earlier this year by two GSB students and which last term attracted 15 to 35 regular attendees to classes in the school's Harper Center . The classes are "time to shut your brain off," says Jody Kirchner, one of the group's founders.

Yoga is also on the radar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, where Matthew McGarvey, a rising second-year student, wants to start a yoga class during Sloan's Innovation Period, a week in the middle of each semester that allows students to explore outside interests. 

At Harvard Business School, restorative yoga, a form of yoga designed to promote relaxation and stress relief, has become more popular among MBA students, according to Carolyn Gould, the program manager for Shad Hall, the gym for HBS students and faculty. "We live such fast-paced lives," Gould says. "It's something everyone wants and needs everywhere. It's not specific to Harvard." At Northwestern University 's Kellogg School of Management, rising second-year MBA student Priti Mody is the president of the Yoga at Kellogg, which has more than 200 subscribers on its listserv.

(source: Yoga makes headway in business schools - By Andrea Castillo The Economic Times July 17, 2008).


Yoga Asanas

(image source: Living Yoga - By Christy Turlington).

Notable Western students of Yoga have included the British writers Major Francis Yeats-Brown (1886–1944), Aldous Huxley, and Christopher Isherwood; the Romanian-born writer on religion Mircea Eliade, and the British violinist Yehudi Menuhin .


According to BBC News, "Madonna is a big fan. So is Gwyneth Paltrow, Sting, Mariel Hemingway, Uma Thurman and Christy Turlington.  Aldous Huxley (philosopher), J. Krishnamurthy (philosopher), Queen Mother of Belgium, Clifford Curzon (pianist) were all famous pupils of B.K.S. Iyengar - the famous yoga teacher and author of Light on Yoga (1964). An increasing number of people have taken up the ancient eastern health and fitness practice." Kristin Davis gives youth yoga high marks. "Yoga has been around 5,000 years. It doesn't matter if actresses are doing it. People are responding to yoga on a deeper level. It's not a fad." Actor-turned-Health Minister Shatrughan Sinha was today all praise for Yoga and said his practicing of the physical exercise for nearly two decades has kept him fit. 

Pregnant Women in Los Angeles are turning to Yoga for Exercise and Comfort, according to LA Times. Washington Times says that from suburban recreation rooms to the halls of justice, people in the Washington area are experiencing the benefits of a full-body workout with yoga while calming their minds. Even Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, according to this report, asked that yoga be taught at the court. 

Doctors study the health benefits of yoga - Physicians in the U.S. and abroad are conducting a variety of studies gauging whether yoga offers health benefits beyond general fitness and can relieve symptoms associated with serious medical problems. Early results suggest that a regular yoga regimen -- involving a variety of postures, deep breathing and meditation exercises -- can offer relief for patients suffering from asthma, chronic back pain, arthritis and obsessive compulsive disorder, among other problems. Most of the research has taken place in India where yoga originated 5,000 years ago. But today, several reputable American doctors are pursuing randomized yoga studies, and the National Institutes of Health is funding clinical trials of yoga for treating insomnia and multiple sclerosis. Mental health: Doctors and researchers are increasingly intrigued by yoga's potential to treat mental-health problems. One study, published in CNS Spectrums, a peer-reviewed psychiatric medical journal, examined 22 adults who suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, an often-disabling condition that causes odd compulsions, such as excessive counting. Half the group used standard meditation, while the other half used "Kundalini yoga," which requires patients to focus both eyes on the tip of their nose, press their tongues to the roof of their mouths, open their jaws and breathe through their noses for at least six minutes. After three months, the yoga group posted a 40 percent improvement, compared with 14 percent in the non- yoga group. Later both groups received the yoga treatment, and after a year posted an average improvement of 70 percent.

Yoga gives immune boost to breast cancer survivors

In breast cancer survivors, the Iyengar method of yoga not only promotes psychological well-being, but seems to offer immune system benefits as well, according to research reported Monday at the American Physiological Society meeting in Washington , DC

The Iyengar method, created by B. K. S. Iyengar, "is considered to be one of the more active forms of yoga," lead researcher and presenter Pamela E. Schultz from Washington State University, Spokane, told Reuters Health. "It still has the meditative component, but it's been shown to have a physical output equivalent to a moderate-intensity exercise," she explained. Psychosocial tests showed that the "demands of illness," which reflects the burden of hardship of being a breast cancer survivor, fell in the yoga participants. "Psychosocial variables indicated improved quality of life with Iyengar yoga," Schultz said. Importantly, these improvements correlated with decreased activation of an important immune system protein called NF-kB, which is a marker of stress in the body. "So it's possible," Schultz said, "that decreased activation of NF-kB indicates decreased stress in the body, which would be a positive thing. NF-kB can be activated by any type of stress in the body, like physical stress and mental stress. "Schultz plans to continue her research by looking at different immune system proteins to see if they too show changes for the better, "which would confirm immune and psychosocial benefits of Iyengar yoga."

(source: Yoga gives immune boost to breast cancer survivors - yahoonews.com).

Indian Military gurus turn to yoga - India's military research industry is to launch experiments with yoga to sharpen the skills of troops in modern warfare and help cope with the stress of battling domestic insurgencies. "Yoga reduces wear and tear of the heart and on our objective scientific scales we have seen it produce mental tranquility, greater alertness, flexibility and enhanced tolerance to cold."

From Crime to Divine - Prison Yoga an alternative solution to anger, fear and violence - South Indian Yoga Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is conducting yoga programs in prisons in the United States and India that transforms hardened criminals into beings becoming aware of their divine nature.Even the country credited with the development of the ancient science of yoga resisted opening its prison doors to the practice – at first. But the longing to offer himself to an often forgotten segment of humanity propelled Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a yogi, realized master and mystic from South India, to persist in an eight-month vigil in 1992 to obtain the opportunity to conduct his first yoga program in the Coimbatore Central Prison. From the amazing results of his initial contact with 67 life-term criminals grew the successful yoga programs that are currently offered in all prisons in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu at the request of prison authorities. 

(source: PRWeb). 

Cambodia Rediscovers Yoga

Cambodia was home to one of the greatest Hindu empires, until the fall of the Khmer empire in 1431. Ancient carvings in local temples show yogis in deep meditation. The art is long forgotten, but today, yoga studios in the capital are increasingly reaching out to disadvantaged communities to share the health benefits of this healing practice. (Refer to chapter on Sacred Angkor).

"Yoga Cambodia " started a training initiative in January 2007 to help remedy the lack of yoga studios here. Their objective is to train Cambodians in the meditation techniques and exercises of yoga, enabling them in turn to teach others, particularly through outreach activities to poor communities who might not otherwise have access to yoga and meditation-based support. Their students are feeling the benefits of this ancient practice which is so popular abroad.

(source: Helping the Needy, Cambodia Rediscovers Yoga - hinduismtoday.com).

Yoga and meditation in Tihar Jail in India - India has seen how humane means cut through better than the crack of a whip. 

Yoga new ‘mantra’ for pilots - Yoga may soon become the new “mantra” for Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots to cope with the stress of flying fighter planes. The proposal for introducing yoga in the IAF has been mooted by none other than the IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy himself. Addressing the International Conference on Aerospace Medicine in Delhi recently, the Air Chief, noting that yoga is a great stress reliever, lamented the fact that it was not being used as extensively as it should be in India to grapple with various mental and psychological problems. Quoting examples from some Western Air Forces manuals, the Air Chief said they had included yoga as a stress buster. “India, which gave this scientific art to the world, is unfortunately neglecting it" he added. Air Chief Marshal Krishnaswamy felt it was high time that the IAF pilots practiced the “asanas” to combat gravitational pull related problems.

(source: Yoga new ‘mantra’ for pilots - Tribuneindia.com).

Exercise, yoga can help multiple sclerosis patients: Study

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University(OHSU) have found that yoga or exercise assists multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with fatigue. The study was conducted and funded within the Oregon Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders (ORCCAMIND) at OHSU.

(source: Times of India April 4. 2003).

Thoppu Karanam - Super brain Yoga

The mental and physical health benefits of the ancient Hindu practice of “Thopukarranams”  

Thopukkaranams (in Tamil) and Sanskrit “Dvau-bhuja-karnam were traditionally performed by Hindus in front of  the deity of Lord Ganesha, as part of the worship ritual. This practice involved crossing the arms in the front of the chest, and holding the right ear lobe with the left hand and the left ear lobe with the right hand, and performing a series of squats in front of Lord Ganesha, in the temple or the puja room at home.  

It was also widely used in Hindu schools, especially in the old times, as form of punishment for a erring child. The misbehaving child, or one who has neglected to do his or her homework, would be asked by the teacher to stand in the corner and do series of Thopukkaranams.  


Doing Thopukarranams in the front of Lord Ganesha (Lord of Wisdom).

Super Brain Yoga - Now, the western scientists have found that this practice stimulates the brain, and increases and improves intelligence, reduces behavioral problems in children, and minimizes the risks of age-related Alzheimer's disease and Dementia. 

Refer to The theft of yoga - By Dr. Aseem Shukla - Hindu American Foundation


Now, the western scientists have found that this practice stimulates the brain, and increases and improves intelligence, reduces behavioral problems in children, and minimizes the risks of age-related Alzheimer's disease and Dementia. The scientific findings were reported in the CBS news in the US , and can be watched at youtube. Most of our Indian/Hindu kids have done (and still continue to do) this exercise (or prayer) before Lord Ganesha (especially in our younger days -- just before important occasions or final exams). If an American does the same thing, we say "It is Super Brain Yoga".

The mental and physical health benefits of the ancient Hindu practice of “Thopukarranams” ).

Yoga craze in UK offers new avenues for Indian designers

Yoga has been in vogue for some time among the likes of pop queen Madonna and celebrities like Sadie Frost but this month, it officially goes mainstream in Britain. It's a come-on cue for yoga instructors in India and fashion designers like Rohit Bal, Adarsh Gill and Ritu Beri. Yoga expert Aina Wethal attracts at her Pineapple Fitness centre at Covent Garden in London, disciples who are as keen on fashion as much as they are on yoga. She believes that clothes must flow when one is doing yoga, so they must be light and breathable. High Street chains led by Marks and Spencer (M&S) have apparently realised not only the craze for yoga in the celebrities for "inner strength and realisation of peace"...M&S are about to launch a Yoga and Pilates range of nifty clothes, called Mind and Body, in stores throughout Britain. Apart from M&S, other chains from French Connection to Gap and even family friendly brands like Boden, are featuring clothes in their ranges that are apt for yoga. They now join the sportswear brands like Nike's and Adidas. 

(source: Yoga craze in UK offers new avenues for Indian designers - The Hindustan Times Date: May 28, 2003).

Got Stress? Try Yoga, Study Suggests

Many people turn to yoga to relieve stress, and new study findings suggest they're doing the right thing. U.S. researchers discovered that after a single session of yoga, levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped, even in people who were trying yoga for the first time. During the study, Dr. George Brainard of the Center of Integrative Medicine of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and colleagues measured levels of cortisol in the blood of 16 healthy yoga novices before and after a 50-minute period of rest.

(source: Got Stress? Try Yoga, Study Suggests - newsyahoo.com - June 19 2003).

Yoga festival attracts 1,500 at Loire Valley in France

An estimated 1,500 people from twenty countries are currently participating in a nine-day 26th Annual Yoga Festival here with its main theme "the spirit of India." The Festival began with the display of Kundalini Yoga, a healing meditation and introductory classes for first-time participants.

(source: Yoga festival attracts 1,500 at Loire Valley in France - hindustantimes.com)

Yoga Festival in Egypt - http://www.egyptyogafestival.com/ 

For the first time in Egypt and the Middle East, T.E.N Tours Egypt is organizing Egypt's First International Yoga Festival during the time between March 1 to 7 2006. With an early start for Yoga and Meditation, and with healthy, delicious vegetarian foods, we will offer you a perfect chance for a life giving and renewing break in one of the magical cities on the Red Sea, Hurghada.

Top of Page

Yoga's real threat to the prophetic monolatrous revelatory religions


Hostility to Yoga in Church

Prophetic monotheism and Sanatana Dharma

Dr. Koenraad Elst (1959 - ) Dutch historian, born in Leuven, Belgium, on 7 August 1959, into a Flemish (i.e. Dutch-speaking Belgian) Catholic family. He graduated in Philosophy, Chinese Studies and Indo-Iranian Studies at the Catholic University of Leuven. He is the author of several books including The Saffron Swastika, Decolonising The Hindu Mind - Ideological Development of Hindu Revivalism and Negationism in India: Concealilng the Record of Islam.

He has written about the threat of yoga to prophetic religions thus:

"In fact, prophecy is radically different from yoga: it means allowing an outside entity, which in the case of monotheism is called Yahweh/God/Allah, to blow certain consciousness contents into your mind. Consciousness is not turned inward, but is (or believes it is) communicating with another Being.  Moreover, the mind is not being emptied of its contents and made to rest in itself, as it is in yoga; on the contrary, it is being filled with a message beyond one's control. The prophet receives a certain information: prophecy is like talking, though with an unusual partner via an unusual channel; but yoga is silence.  Lastly, if it is correct that prophethood is a mental aberration and a delusion, then that makes it the very antithesis of yoga, which is an undisturbed and realistic awareness of pure consciousness. "

Yoga is not an erratic and disturbing experience, which befalls you and drives you to tirades of doom and to outbursts against your fellow men.  It is a systematic discipline and makes the practitioner calm and serene.  The word yoga means discipline, control (it is also translated as "uniting": not the soul with an outsider called God, but the mind with its object, (i.e. concentration).  Since its field of working is consciousness, it is not interested in outward experiences such as recognition and glorification, or martyrdom. There is nothing dramatic about yoga, in stark contrast to the dramas enacted and encountered by the prophets.

The most remarkable difference between the prophets' discourse and that of the rishis, is certainly this. The prophets all talk about themselves a lot. They think they are very special, this one person in this one body is different from the rest and has an exclusive relationship with the Creator. But the rishis talked about a universal way, a world order in which we all participate, a state of consciousness we can all achieve.  If God is defined as that which transcends all worldly differences, the One above the Many, then this universalism is far more divine than the prophets' exclusivism."

(source: Psychology of Prophetism: A Secular Look at the Bible - By Koenraad Elst - voiceofdharma.org).

Dr. Koenraad Elst writes: 

"It is Christian fundamentalists who warn people of the Satanic Hindu character of these seemingly innocuous breathing and mental exercises."

(source: Bharatiya Janata Party vis-a-vis Hindu Resurgence - By Koenraad Elst p. 15).

David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) has observed that: 

A few years ago the Pope issued a proclamation telling Catholics, particularly monks and priests, to avoid yogic practices and mixing Catholicism with Eastern traditions like the Hindu and Buddhist. 

(source: Hinduism: The Eternal Tradition (Sanatana Dharma) - By David Frawley Voice of India. ISBN 81-85990-29-8 p. 233-234).

In the book Pope John-Paul II on Eastern Religions and Yoga: a Hindu-Buddhist Rejoinder (1995) was occasioned precisely by one of the Pope's statements (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, 1994) condemning the incorporation of yogic practices in the spiritual discipline of Christian clerics and laymen.

(source: Decolonising The Hindu Mind - Ideological Development of Hindu Revivalism - By Koenraad Elst Rupa & Co. January 2001 ISBN 8171675190  p. 282).

The Theft of Yoga

Delinking Yoga from Hinduism

Western World's Churlish and petty behavior in not recognizing Yoga's Hindu Roots?

Yoga is Hinduism's gift to humanity


Christians Trying to Hijacking Yoga

Dr. Subhash Kak has written:  

"For example, in the US, almost every YMCA teaches yoga, although it is a different story that some Churches are speaking of Christian yoga, without mentioning the origins of this tradition. 

This yearning for wisdom was expressed by Zimmer over fifty years ago when he said, 'We of the Occident are about to arrive at a crossroads that was reached by the thinkers of India some seven hundred years before Christ. This is the real reason, why we become both vexed and stimulated, uneasy and yet interested, when confronted with the concepts and images of Indian wisdom.'

(source: Globalization and the Knowledge Industry - By Subhash Kak - rediff.com).

Refer to Shamefully Stealing Yoga from Hindus No OM Zone: A No-Chanting, No-Granola, No-Sanskrit Practical Guide to Yoga - By Kimberly Fowler

Note: This tendency of Christianity to absorb spiritually ‘dangerous’ practices is an old trick of theirs. To speed the assimilation of the European pagan religions in the Middle Ages, the church specifically chose dates for Christian holidays that coincided closely with pagan holidays. Why do you think we celebrate Christmas so close to the winter solstice every year? You got to love the hypocrisy of Christians. They deny the knowledge, wisdom and mere existence of pre-Christian practices, but as we’ve seen throughout history that doesn’t stop them from completely ripping them off. “Yule tide?”. Yule is a Germanic pagan holiday.

Acknowledgement of yoga as one of Hinduism's great gifts to the World

Folks still don't get that it's not at all about ownership, but about origins. It's not about branding, but about acknowledgement. It's not about conversion, but about self realization. It's about understanding that yoga is but one of Hinduism's great contributions to humanity.

Perhaps some of the confusion is a result of the many ingredients of our modern lives -- mass marketing, crass consumerism, the worldwide Web and a Twitter-soundbite culture. It's a toxic cocktail that can lead to quick and faulty conclusions.

It started back in 2008, with the Yoga Journal. The summer issue was not particularly different from any other -- the mantra of the month, the sacred Hindu symbol, Om, sprinkled throughout the magazine, advertisements for products like bottom-shaping yoga pants and sticky yoga toe socks, and, of course, feature articles offering advice, insight and wisdom on yoga. What we did not find, however, was any reference to Hinduism. In fact, Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism were more overtly associated with the discipline.

It was as if the Yoga Journal, as well as much of the $6 billion yoga industry, had agreed to some sort of unwritten covenant to use code words rather than what they deemed the unmarketable "H-word." Vedic, yogic, Sanskritic, ancient Indian and Eastern were the pseudonyms of choice to source key elements of Hindu teachings: bhakti, karma and moksha, even the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism's most revered scriptures.

After writing a letter to the editor, HAF's suspicions were confirmed when, during a follow up phone call, the young woman answering said, "Yeah, they [the editors] probably avoid it [Hinduism]. Hinduism does, like, you know, have a lot of baggage." Really? Hinduism has baggage and the world's other religions don't?

As an advocacy group seeking to provide a progressive Hindu American voice and to promote a better understanding of Hinduism, we were compelled to act. And so started a quest to bring awareness to the Hindu roots of yoga and, in turn, gain acknowledgement of yoga as one of Hinduism's great gifts. Hindus across America, including my school-aged boys, face ridicule, discrimination and uninvited proseltyization as a result of caricature, misinformation and false judgment about our "religion." Idol worshipper, cows, caste, dowry, many gods (lower case "g") -- these are the terms that more commonly define Hinduism in Western popular culture. Thanks to Deepak Chopra, we can add "one-eyed" and "tribal" to the list too. At the same time, 15 million Americans, from all religions and no religion, are turning to the power and healing benefits of yoga; some are even going beyond the physical to study Vedanta and the Gita or other "yogic" texts.

(source: The origins and ownership of yoga – by Suhag A Shukla - huffingtonpost.com).

Refer to In U.S. Schools, Yoga Without The Spiritual - hinduismtoday.com

The rape of Yoga

Apart from distorting it beyond recognition, the proponents of America's $ 6 billion Yoga industry deny Yoga's inseparability with the Hindu way of life. The philosophy behind Yoga must be extolled

The burgeoning the Yoga industry, built off of $108 Yoga pants contoured to bind and sculpt the body, $185 Yoga studio membership fees and $100 yoga mats custom designed to decrease slippage from sweaty palms, continues to skyrocket in popularity. The latest fad at a spinning studio round the corner: "combination spin and Yoga", where the goal is to burn fat and loosen thigh muscles - ostensibly to decrease that pesky sore hamstring. But that shouldn't be surprising when there already exists Yoga in the nude, yoga and food, and even "Doga" - i.e. yoga with one's pet dog.

Welcome to Yoga 2010 sweeping the United States @ $ 6 billion per year, where it is legit to pair Yoga with just about anything, including faith. Apart from the aforementioned distortions of a 5,000-year-old science, we now see the rise of "Christian Yoga", "Muslim Yoga", "Kabbalah Yoga" and what have you.

Each of these "nuanced faith-yogas" have appropriated the knowledge of countless yogis without so much as a nod of gratitude towards Hinduism, the faith that gifted them this treasure.

Hinduism today is identified overseas more with holy cows than Gomukhasana, the arduous twisting posture and exotic and erotic gods rather than the unity of divinity of Hindu tradition - that God may manifest and be worshiped in infinite ways; as a religion of incomprehensible ritual rather than the spiritual inspiration of Patanjali, the second century BC commentator and composer of the Yoga Sutras, that has formed the philosophical basis of practical Yoga for millennium.

As Yoga becomes more "mainstream", its Hindu roots continue to be buried further and further by studios, practitioners and the media. While magazines such as Yoga Journal are replete with references to ancient India, new age blather and even Buddhism, it is only logical to ask why is there so much resistance to openly acknowledging Yoga's inextricable links with Hinduism.

Firstly, perhaps because not all of the great Hindu Yogis who introduced the West to this ancient philosophy took the uncompromising path of a Swami Vivekananda in his open assertion and embrace of his Hindu faith

From Ayurveda to meditation and Yoga to pranayama and riya, the path of least resistance for acceptance in the West is seen to simply indulge the consumer with homilies to wellness, holistic healing and rewiring the mental hard drive without eliciting the baggage of that pariah term: "Hinduism."

As these gurus highlight only the universal nature of Yoga while discarding overt references to Hinduism. They end up grabbing the transcendent philosophical fruits of the ancients, leaving Hinduism with stereotyped detritus of incomprehensible ritual and the cliched "caste, cows and curry." As the popularity of Yoga has skyrocketed and spiritual practice has morphed into a $6 billion industry, this delinking has become so prevalent and commonplace that many in the western yoga community are outraged that any faith, particularly one that is now largely associated with colorful rituals and multi-headed gods, could dare claim to be the mother of Yoga.

Even more baffling are the practitioners who learn to master asanas such as Hanumanasana or Natarajasana while simultaneously denying the Hindu roots of Yoga. Lord Nataraja's eternal dance precedes creation of this universe itself, but when will the Deepak Chopras of the world concede that the spiritual tradition moving to His divine rhythms is what we all accept as Hinduism?

(source: The Rape of Yoga - By Dr. Aseem Shukla and Sheetal Shah - dailypioneer.com).

If you have the root of Hinduism, then the stem is Hinduism, and the flower is Hinduism.

Yoga uncoupled with a moral construct leads nowhere, except towards being more physically fit. Hinduism provides that moral construct.

It is wrong to deny that yoga's Hindu origin

Dr. Ramesh Nagraj Rao (   )  is Human Rights Coordinator for the Hindu American Foundation, and professor and chair, Department of Communication Studies and Theatre, Longwood University, US. He has expressed his views on the theft of yoga thus:

"Yoga has been shamelessly rebranded to make it more acceptable to western culture, but this is based on a lie

But as yoga became more popular, and as the industry grew to be worth nearly six billion dollars, and as a variety of savvy marketers begin branding their "special" yoga techniques, it was hard not to notice that few yoga teachers and journals mentioned the origins of the practice and its connection to Hinduism. Yoga was "secularised" to rid it of any taint of a "pagan" tradition. The practice, the savvy marketers claimed, was "a spiritual path, but not a religious one", to calm the committed Christian who wanted to hang on to Jesus while doing the "surya namaskara" (obeisance to the Sun).

Hindus are an accepting lot, and they believe that each should be able to follow whatever spiritual path they chose, according to one's "ishta" (desire) and "adhikara" (qualifications). And as one scholar elegantly put it, Hinduism itself was "a rolling conference of conceptual spaces, all of them facing all, and all of them requiring all", enabling it to accommodate everyone in this grand cosmic munificence, label or no label. Hinduism which is a "rolling conference of conceptual spaces" got neatly pigeon-holed as a religion – a religion, very soon marked and demonised as "heathen", "pagan", "kafr", and so on.

Thus, when a neophyte yoga student, hanging on to Jesus, anxiously queried, "Is yoga part of Hinduism?", the savvy marketer claimed that the origins of yoga were lost in myth and mystery and that there "was no indication that it was ever part of an organised religion", accomplishing two things simultaneously – reifying Hinduism as a "religion" in the sense of "Abrahamic religions", and denying it as the fount and foundation of yoga.

Joining these local marketers were the Indian-origin marketers, with the lead being taken by the savvy Deepak Chopra – the glib, red-sneakers-and-red-designer-glasses-wearing Hollywood guru who would make PT Barnum proud. Thus, when Aseem Shukla of the Hindu American Foundation wrote an essay in The Washington Post in April this year arguing that there had been a deliberate attempt to represent yoga as separate from its origins in Hinduism, Chopra came pouncing. Ironically, he was joining hands with those demonising Hinduism and disemboweling it of its grand traditions. And when The New York Times, in a front-page article, recently commended the Hindu American Foundation for its intelligent activism, the nay-sayers screamed: "Hindu fundamentalists!"

But what do Hindus, not the deracinated variety, actually want? It is simply to urge the world to acknowledge that yoga has its roots in the millennia-old Indian traditions now known as Hinduism. There is no demand that those who do yoga profess any attachment to Hinduism, let alone become Hindus! There is no tithe to be paid, no conversion sought, no allegiance to a land and its people demanded. Great teachers like T Krishnamacharya, K Pattabhi Jois, and BKS Iyengar – all doing their morning and evening prayers to their chosen Hindu deities, and proudly wearing their Hindu identity on their foreheads.

What should also be acknowledged is that most of the yoga that is taught and practiced in the West is "hatha yoga", and that the focus on the body was only a very minor aspect of yoga delineated by the great compiler of the yoga aphorisms, Patanjali. In fact, of the 196 sutras in Patanjali's Yogasutras, only three focus on the body. The primary aim of yoga, Patanjali stressed in the second sutra, is to still the mind for a transformation of consciousness. Yoga is a complete psychological system, with clear and definite answers to explain the human condition and relieve us of our psychological burdens.

Alas, in the modern, westernised, noise-making world, the argument presented by Hindus is under attack from the professional anti-Hindu brigades, homegrown and foreign, whose aim is to proclaim yoga as "anaatha" – an orphan."

(source: It is wrong to deny that yoga has its origins in Hinduism - By Ramesh Rao - guardian.co.uk).

Allergic to the H-word?  Hinduism


(Note: It was as if the Yoga Journal, as well as much of the $6 billion yoga industry, had agreed to some sort of unwritten covenant to use code words rather than what they deemed the unmarketable "H-word." Vedic, yogic, Sanskritic, ancient Indian and Eastern were the pseudonyms of choice to source key elements of Hindu teachings: bhakti, karma and moksha, even the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism's most revered scriptures.  After writing a letter to the editor, HAF's suspicions were confirmed when, during a follow up phone call, the young woman answering said, "Yeah, they [the editors] probably avoid it [Hinduism]. Hinduism does, like, you know, have a lot of baggage." Really?

Hinduism has baggage and the world's other religions don't? - Try thinking of Dark Ages, Crusades, The Inquisition, Witch Hunt, Slavery, Colonization of Africa, Asia, America and Australia, Imperialism, World Wars, Holocaust, Bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, destruction and conversion of Native cultures to Christianity, Drugs, School shootings in American schools, Gun violence, Racism, Clergy sex Abuse, Jehad and terrorism... ).

Honor Thy Heritage - Dr. Deepak Chopra

Chopra claims that anyone who says that Yoga is a part of Hinduism is a Hindu fundamentalist and Yoga did not originate from Hinduism but “pure consciousness.”

Chopra is perhaps the most prominent exponent of the art of "How to Deconstruct, Repackage and Sell Hindu Philosophy Without Calling it Hindu!" To Larry King, he has described himself as an "Advaita Vedantin"--one of the major philosophical schools of Hinduism. Yet none of the plethora of his book titles, that include several devoted to Jesus and one entire book devoted to the Buddha, even skirt the word "Hindu."

The rishis did not call themselves Hindu. The moniker "Hinduism" is of relatively recent origin, but it is accepted today as a handy substitute for the perhaps more accurate but difficult to pronounce name, Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.

(source: Honor Thy Heritage - Dr. Deepak Chopra - By Dr Aseem Shukla - hinduismtoday.com and Snake-oil salesman Deepak Chopra - indianrealist.com and  Deepak Chopra does it again - sandeepweb.com.  Refer to Al Jazeera reports on Hijacking of Yoga

Christian Yoga is an Oxymoron? 

“There is no physical yoga and spiritual yoga.  If it is exclusively physical, it won’t be yoga.  Yoga is dealing with the entirety; it is a union.”  – Prashant Iyengar, son of B.K.S Iyengar


A Hindu Yogi Speaks: "There is no Christian Yoga."

Yogi Baba Prem, who is a Hindu Yogi, a Vedavisharada trained in the traditional gurukural system. 

"It was quite astonishing to see on the flyer 'Christian Yoga!" I could feel the wheels spinning in my brain. 'Christian Yoga,' I thought. Now while Christians can practice yoga, I am not aware of any Christian teachings about yoga.

Yoga is not a Judeo/Christian word!

It is not a part of the Roman Catholic teachings and certainly not a part of protestant teachings. It is not found within the King James Version of the bible. 

It is a Hindu word, or more correctly a Sanskrit word from the Vedic civilization. 

So how did we get 'Christian Yoga'? From this I could conclude that “Christian Yoga” could only indicate one of two possibilities: 

1)  Christianity is threatened by yoga and is attempting to take over this system that “invaded their turf” pertaining to spiritual teachings and techniques.
  Christianity is subconsciously attempting to return to the spiritual roots of civilization—the Vedic civilization. 

I thought to myself, “why would they want to take over yoga?”  

Could it be due to the decline of members within the Christian church within the last 60 years?  Is this an extensive marketing plan cooked up in some New York marketing guru’s head?  Is it an attempt to water down the teachings of yoga and import their own teaching. I think the best reason might be that yoga, and eastern spirituality, offered answers to the spiritual questions that the spiritually hungry masses had.  It offered a practical, rational, logical, and truthful approach to spirituality.  It did not contain any form of  self-righteous condemnation, but offered love and acceptance to all.   It did not prey upon victims with terms such as “Sin” and “eternal damnation”.  But most importantly, it had answers!  It offered a practical approach to cultivating a relationship with divinity.  It offered a systematic approach and an abstract approach to meet the varying temperaments of the spirituality hungry.  

The second possibility was that Christianity was itself looking for answers.  A small book filled with judgment, inflexibility, and condemnation was no longer fulfilling the needs of the masses or the leaders of the church.  Offering yoga classes allowed the Christian to secretly practice Hinduism without having to renounce their Christian tradition. Possibly by embracing the technology of yoga and meditation, the Christian church could finally return to the idea of love and acceptance that it believed it was founded upon.  It is ironic that one religion would need to look to another religion to teach them about love, peace, harmony, and forgiveness. If successful, it could embrace these ancient teachings and save itself from the fate it planted over the last few thousand years.  

But possibly in their wisdom, the current fathers of the church realized that their time was coming to a close.  So within America they must absorb yoga before they are absorbed by it. This is a common religious view that has appeared numerous times within world history. Then they would immediately move their resources to India.  Taking over the country would allow them to own all the spirituality, and then ‘pick and chose’ which tasty spiritual treats they would share.  After all they have 2000 years practice with this. Indians being a loving, peaceful people, openly embraced their brothers from the west.  They looked the other way as their temples were torn down.  They accepted it as karma as their families were torn apart over differing religious beliefs.  The Indians thought it was thoughtful of the missionaries to dress up just like swami’s, to be “just like them” and to share in their kindred spirit.  

Modern day scholars from India frequently present the attitude of “let them have yoga, I am interested in protecting Hinduism.”  I have heard this sentiment on numerous occasions, but the reality is that yoga is a part of Hinduism.  Allowing one part to be taken from Hinduism opens a door for the distortion of the teachings.  We must remember that the roots to modern day yoga comes from Vedic Yoga.  The same Vedic Yoga that is the authority of Hinduism.  Allowing one branch to be severed from the tree of knowledge will not necessarily kill that tree, but it can produce strain and have an unbalancing effect upon the tree.   

Hinduism should reclaim its full heritage and not allow other groups to rename its sacred teachings under their banner, especially when they have no history of those teaching within their own system.  If they wish to ‘borrow’ and say this comes from our brothers and sisters in Hinduism, then that is another thing.  But frequently groups attempt to privatize the information and present themselves as the original authority.  Hinduism should guard against its sacred traditions becoming distorted and taken away.  Scholars at universities should take the stand that yoga is part of Hinduism, though one is one required to be a Hindu to practice yoga. It is important to acknowledge the roots of the tradition; after all we are expected to give credit to the orginial sources within books and research papers, but yet Hindu scholars have ignored this fundamental western view when it comes to their own heritage. 

(source: A Hindu Yogi Speaks: "There is no Christian Yoga."). We hope that Thomas Nelson, who publishes Yoga for Christians, American Family Association, who sells Holy Yoga, and emerging leader, Doug Pagitt, who offers it at his church, will all read this article by Yogi Baba Prem.

Vatican sounds New Age alert: The Roman Catholic Church has warned Christians against resorting to New Age therapies to satisfy their spiritual needs. Publishing the results of a six-year study of practices such as yoga, feng shui and shamanism, the Vatican said that whatever the individual merits of such therapies, none provided a true answer to the human thirst for happiness. "I want to say simply that the New Age presents itself as a false utopia in answer to the profound thirst for happiness in the human heart," Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said at the news conference. Many people, the report acknowledges, have rejected organised religion because they feel it fails to answer their needs. Our correspondent says that the report makes clear that the Vatican basically dislikes fuzzy spirituality.

(source: Vatican sounds New Age alert - BBC news.com - Feb 4' 2003). Watch An Invasion through Conversion - videoyahoo.com

Refer to Al Jazeera reports on Hijacking of Yoga. Refer to Another Indian “intellectual” (Meera Nanda) prostituting herself in White Man’s flesh market - indianrealist.com and Meera Nanda’s Ignorance Revisited - sandeepweb.com

New age yoga: Old age theft and surrender - By Swami Param

New Age Yoga (NAY) is: Hot Yoga, Power Yoga and Gentle Yoga, to name few. There are especially arrogant individuals who even attach their own names to these Hindu disciplines. There are so-called 200 hour Certified Yoga Teachers and Yoga Therapists.

Imagine treating Baptism and Communion as an Underwater Therapy and Wine Tasting business! Envision a Fitness Rabbi, Diet Pope and Gaming Imam! Picture Hot Baptism (at your local gym), Power Mass and Gentle Genuflecting! How about a 200 hour Certified Communion Teacher greeting students with Hallelujah and denying any Christian connection? How about marketing Baptism pants to display one’s physical accomplishments! As ridiculous as this seems, this is exactly how callous, absurd and insulting is the NAY crusade.

How many also realize that, factually, the following are sacred Sanskrit/Hindu terms: Namaste, Karma, Mantra, Guru, Swastika and Chakras? How many are aware that Hindus invented the all-important zero? Along with Yoga, these Hindu terms have been co-opted and distorted beyond recognition. Unfortunately, not a week goes by that the press and Madison Avenue do not aid in reinforcing the abuse of these religious terms. NAY is bringing in big money.

In the “NAYsayers” dogma, Yoga is everything but religion. To them, Yoga is a physical exercise and, perhaps, an elite universal spiritual practice. The thoughtless cliché: “I am spiritual but not religious,” is a common deception. It is in this pseudo-spirituality that NAY gets very bizarre.

Covertly indoctrinating one into any religion is abusive. Scattering Hindu terms and displaying Hindu images into a so-called Yoga class should be cause for not only questioning the religion of the teacher but also the intent. And, “naturally,” it costs money for these “spiritual teachings.” Those who feel superior to the more religious should remember everyone is free to go into any religious service.

There are many established religions. Of course, a truly creative individual may come up with something new. However, stealing from an existing religion (and/or culture), then denying it, and profiting from it is the M.O. of the usurper. Repeated invasions of India have left many Hindus in a state of confusion, at best. Hindus have historically been “an easy mark” and are at fault for not learning and protecting their religion. Some Hindus simply give up: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Divorcing any aspect of Yoga from its Hindu roots is dishonest and a grave insult to a great world religion and it adherents. Presently, the Yino flock to their studios and completely shun Hindu Temples/Ashrams and teachers. Ironically, qualified Hindu teachers have been denied teaching Hatha Yoga in a public setting not only because it is religion but also because they did not have a Western Yoga Certification! The “Certified Yogis/Yoginis” are, actually, clueless not only to the facts of Yoga but also to the austere and devoted lifestyle of the true Yogi.

If one wants to learn Hinduism/Yoga (and perhaps become a Hindu), do that. If one wants to stretch and relax, be thoughtful and considerate and don’t call it Yoga.

(source:  New age yoga: Old age theft and surrender - By Swami Param - thecoastnews.com).

The Audacity of Ignorance?


What is Take Back Yoga?

Nanda concedes that American yogis say “Namaste,” quote from the Gita and play Kirtan music. Why then is she so bothered by TBY? TBY makes three key contentions:

1. Yoga is more than just asana

2. Yoga is rooted in Hinduism

3. The asana-based practice of yoga found in many Western yoga studios is inspired by the Hindu Hatha yoga tradition

Meera Nanda's (of the Jawaharlal Nehru University - JNU) Open story alleging that Hindu texts have few asanas and that the yoga master Krishnamacharya borrowed most from European gymnastics is the latest salvo against HAF’s position, and mimics a similar rebuttal by Wendy Doniger. Nanda’s criticism of HAF’s ‘Take Back Yoga’ (TBY) campaign as being based on a false, non-existent history misrepresents TBY and maligns HAF as a casteist, sleazy political operation (Indo-American Lobby? HAF is neither Indian nor a political lobby). Perhaps, as William Dalrymple said, Nanda is “overtly hostile to many expressions of religiosity.” Whatever her agenda, her audacious and flippant claims are both stunning and flawed.

Obfuscate, Confuse and Create a Strawman

Nanda repeatedly fails to acknowledge that “Take Back Yoga” (TBY) is all about the willful blindness in the West to the Hindu roots of Yoga, even the spiritual side of it.

Disguised Hinduphobia

'Scholars' of Nanda’s ilk have always disliked Swami Vivekananda. Being profoundly alienated from their heritage and considering anything traditional as mere superstition, they are no doubt discomfited that a Sanyasi who proudly called himself Hindu was able to convey Vedanta in a manner that the West loved, and in immaculate English to boot.

Nanda gratuitously advises Hindu Americans to, “take a deep breath and get over it.” So, in the same spirit, here is mine: Nanda should learn to get her facts about the Hindu tradition straight, and from original sources. And learn to accord the same respect to Hinduism as to other religions. The days of the Hindu community cowering before self-appointed pseudo-scholars are over.

(source:  Rebuttals to Take Back Yoga Attacks - Hindu American Foundation). Refer to Another Indian “intellectual” (Meera Nanda) prostituting herself in White Man’s flesh market - indianrealist.com and Meera Nanda’s Ignorance Revisited - sandeepweb.com

Modern Yoga Migrates to China  

Google “Beijing Yoga” and, surprise – dozens of links to Yoga retreats and events in Beijing! Next, go to www.yogafinder.com, click on “Find Yoga classes” and city “Shanghai.” From the way the list reads you might think you were in California. What is compelling is not only the array of options but the degree of cross-national integration: Yoga teachers in California are holding programs in China in cooperation with Chinese yogis. China’s 1980’s policy to teach English in elementary schools, is paying off big time today. Political tensions still bristle between nations, but China’s youth are all open arms. 

While US-style holistic health jargon dominates the website blurbs, we were happy to note in one article from Beijing’s www.cityweekend.com.cn a “full disclosure” that the “Vedas of Hinduism are the source of other teachings, including Upanishads and Karma. Modern Yoga is based on the four Vedic texts, the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Arthava Veda.” 

(source: Hinduism Today - July/August/September 2005  p. 6).

According to Father Jeremy Davies, exorcist for the leader of Catholics in the UK, yoga puts people at risk from devils and the occult is closely associated with the scourges of “drugs, demonic music and pornography” which’re “destroying millions of young people in our time”. Father Davies has argued in his new book ‘In Exorcism: Understanding Exorcism In Scripture And Practice’ published by the Catholic Truth Society, that people who practice yoga may end up afflicting themselves by demons, British newspaper the ‘Daily Mail’ has reported.

(source:  Yoga leads to possession by devils? - expressindia.com).  

Chanting Om can cause Moral Deviations? says Vatican

The Vatican, in a letter approved by Pope John Paul II, warned Christians Thursday against spiritual dangers deriving from Eastern methods of contemplative meditation used in Yoga and Zen Buddhism.

It said the symbolism and body postures in such meditation ''can even become an idol and thus an obstacle to the raising up of the spirit of God.'' It warned that to give ''a symbolic significance typical of the mystical experience'' to sensations of well-being from meditation can lead to ''a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations.''

(source:  Pope in 1989 - Eastern Religions are Moral Deviations). Watch An Invasion through Conversion - videoyahoo.com  

According to the Rev. Peter E. Prosser, who is both a priest at Galilee Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach and a Christian history professor at Regent University’s divinity school says,

“Yoga is designed to bring you into a spiritual realm of demonic powers.”

(source: Christians try to Hijack Yoga). Refer to The theft of yoga - By Dr. Aseem Shukla - Hindu American Foundation

Yoga is Evil - says the Vatican

Vatican’s chief exorcist has claimed that practicing yoga and reading ‘Harry Potter’ brings evil. Father Gabriel Amorth, who has carried out more than 70,000 exorcisms in the past 25 years after being appointed by the late Pope John Paul II, surprised delegates at a conference by revealing his dislike for yoga and ‘Harry Potter’.

“Yoga is the Devil’s work. You thing you are doing it for stretching your mind and body but it leads to Hinduism. All these oriental religions are based on the false belief of reincarnation,” he said.

Yoga is evil - says Vatican - telegraph.co.uk and foxnews.com). Watch Mark Driscoll on Yoga and refer to SNAP

Yoga effective in treating psychiatric disorders

Yoga, whose all-round benefits are increasingly being accepted across the world, has now been found useful in treating mental and psychiatric disorders, a number of scientific studies have found.

'Some believe that yoga should be used only for prevention and health promotion and not as a therapy for illnesses,' said B.N. Gangadhar, who heads the psychiatry department at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) here.

'The reality is that it is being increasingly used as a method for treating various disorders, either alone or as in addition to other therapies, including psychiatric ones,' Gangadhar, also director, Advanced Centre for Yoga at NIMHANS, told IANS.

(source:  Yoga effective in treating psychiatric disorders - samachar.com).

Yoga gives immune boost to breast cancer survivors

In breast cancer survivors, the Iyengar method of yoga not only promotes psychological well-being, but seems to offer immune system benefits as well, according to research reported Monday at the American Physiological Society meeting in Washington, DC.

The Iyengar method, created by B. K. S. Iyengar, "is considered to be one of the more active forms of yoga," lead researcher and presenter Pamela E. Schultz from Washington State University, Spokane, told Reuters Health. "It still has the meditative component, but it's been shown to have a physical output equivalent to a moderate-intensity exercise," she explained.

(source: Yoga gives immune boost to breast cancer survivors - newsyahoo.com). 

Doctors study the health benefits of yoga

Yoga is one of the hottest fitness trends sweeping the country. Now many doctors think it can also cure what ails you. Physicians in the U.S. and abroad are conducting a variety of studies gauging whether yoga offers health benefits beyond general fitness and can relieve symptoms associated with serious medical problems. Early results suggest that a regular yoga regimen -- involving a variety of postures, deep breathing and meditation exercises -- can offer relief for patients suffering from asthma, chronic back pain, arthritis and obsessive compulsive disorder, among other problems.

(source: Doctors study the health benefits of yoga - By Tara Parker-Pope, The Wall Street Journal).

Is yoga bad for you?
The Islamic Fatwa council are in good company with the Christian fundamentalists in the United States.

Several years ago, I developed something called arthrosis in my knees. This is a first cousin to arthritis, and is extremely painful. After a few months on painkillers, I enrolled in a yoga class out of desperation. Initially, contorting my out-of-shape body into the positions required by our teacher was very difficult, but soon I managed to bully my joints into approximating the postures our elegant instructor assumed so effortlessly. A few months into this routine, I began to look forward to the thrice-weekly yoga classes. In our darkened room, soft music would play, while we were encouraged to empty our minds and hold the positions for just a little longer each time. My body became suppler, and crucially the pain in my knees disappeared. Unfortunately, the timings of our class were changed, and I could no longer pursue my new interest. Nevertheless, I have nothing but pleasant memories of the year-long experience. Now, as my creaking body protests each time I lower myself to pick up something from the floor, I wish I could have continued my yoga lessons. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that Malaysia 's top Islamic body recently issued a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from practising yoga due to elements of Hinduism the ancient system is supposed to contain.

According to The Island, a Sri Lankan daily, the Malaysian National Fatwa Council's chairman, Shukor Husin, has said that "many Muslims fail to understand that yoga's ultimate aim is to be one with a god of a different religion". I had no idea that when our yoga teacher told us to empty our minds, she was doing so with the aim of making space in that limited cavity for a foreign god.

But the members of the fatwa council are in good company, for Christian fundamentalists in the United States have long opposed yoga classes in schools, arguing that it violates the secular principle of separating church from state. According to them, yoga's Hindu roots conflict with Christian teachings. And apparently, Egypt 's highest theological body banned yoga for Muslims in 2004. So what planet are these fundamentalists on? And what century do they live in? Surely everything that's good for us, or is fun, cannot be declared un-Islamic on a whim?

And if this kind of retrogressive mindset can hold sway in a relatively modern Muslim country like Malaysia , just think what is going on in nations like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

Whatever the reason, such desperate and ultimately futile measures only serve to further marginalise Muslims. Already viewed as a backward community by much of the world, Muslims risk withdrawing from the rest of mankind at a time when globalisation is breaking down barriers at a frenzied pace.  Where will this madness end? It will end if and when Muslims decide that enough is enough, and that they do not want to live in the sixth century. Unfortunately, there is much confusion in the Islamic world, with the result that uneducated mullahs issue half-baked edicts on everything under the sun, and ordinary people, unsure of themselves, pay lip service to these teachings. How long will it take to yank fundamentalist Muslims like Abdul Shukor Husin into the 21st century?

(source: Is yoga bad for you? - By Irfan Husain - dawn.com). Refer to Is Yoga a Religion - By Georg Feuerstein. 

Beware the Yoga Demon! The Christian Right’s fear of self-realization and spirituality

They’re still at it. Those paranoid Christian fundamentalists are again attacking yoga.  

On On June 15, 2006, Agape Press carried this article: Author Wants to Enlighten Christians About Yoga's Demonic Influence Christian author Dave Hunt, co-founder of the Oregon-based ministry, The Berean Call, has written a new book called Yoga and the Body of Christ. In it, he contends that yoga is a spiritually dangerous practice designed to expose people to demonic influences.

Why would Mr. Hunt fear “self-realization”? Why would he advise “Christians” to avoid it? 

Could it be that if people achieve self-realization they will recognize the sinister mind-control techniques of “ministries” such as The Berean Call? Could it be that they would also realize that if they develop a “personal relationship with God,” there is no need for ministries? The clergy would become little more than “middlemen” who, like all middlemen, leech off others for their own self-aggrandizement. In fact, the clergy would become “demonic influences” interrupting, twisting and poisoning one’s personal relationship with Divinity for their own power and profit. It must be noted, however, that the Eastern spiritual philosophies that spawn yoga do not advocate hatred toward or the murder of gays, or anyone else. Fanatical Rev. Fred Phelps has much in common with other dogmatic monotheists, such as Muslim cleric Yusuf Qaradawi who couldn’t decide whether gay people should be “throw[n] from a high place” or whether “we should burn them.” Not surprisingly, Yusuf Qaradawi is also a vocal supporter of suicide bombers.

So feel free to join the estimated 30 million Americans who practice yoga, and beware those who argue against self-realization and thinking for yourself.

(source: Beware the Yoga Demon! The Christian Right’s fear of self-realization and spirituality - By By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D. - onlinejournal.com).

Yoga violates Islamic Law: Cleric - The growing enthusiasm for yoga in Egypt has received a setback with a mufti reportedly issuing an edict declaring it un-Islamic. The edict signed by mufti Ali Gomoa, considered the highest theological authority, says: "Yoga is an ascetic Hindu practice that is forbidden for use in any manner - neither for exercise or for worship", local media reported quoting an Al-Hayat report. "It is an aberration" whose practice in any form is "forbidden under Islamic law", the edict says. Yoga centres are said to have sprung up at all the tourist resorts in Egypt and is said to be very popular among western tourists. 

(source: Yoga violates Islamic Law: Cleric - sify.com).

Indian Christians Protest Yoga in Schools

The practices of a majority religion should not be imposed on other minority religions, said an Indian archbishop, reacting sharply to a decision of an Indian state government. A Jan. 15 interview with the Indian Catholic, the Internet news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Archbishop Pascal Topno of Bhopal said that he had nothing against “Surya Namaskar or other Hindu rituals, but questioned the Madhya Pradesh government's decision to make the practice compulsory in all government schools and colleges.

(source: Don’t impose religious practices, Indian archbishop says of yoga measure - catholic.org).  

US pastor says yoga 'demonic', sparks row

Ever seen a demon in padmasana? A pastor in Seattle, US, is seeing millions of them. Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll's statement that yoga is an agent of Hinduism, and hence demonic, has many yoga gurus seething and practitioners confused.

Adding fuel to the fire, The
Seattle Times newspaper last week quoted R Albert Mohler Jr, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, as saying that yoga was against Christianity. Some see the statements as acknowledgement of the popularity of yoga, which has been growing as rapidly as religions once did.

A system of meditation and exercise passed down generations in
India, yoga has been found to give physiological, psychological and therapeutic benefits. An estimated 15.8 million people practice yoga in the US, where yoga studios are proliferating in every city. Contesting the pastor relating yoga with Hinduism because of use of Sanskrit words, Brenin said: "I suspect that there's a bit of racism and nationalism coming from church leaders, who harp on language issues and images of Hindu deities which for many studios are mere decorations or at most stories that inspire and challenge. There is no worship in a US yoga studio."

While many Indians in the US see in Driscoll's sermon a conspiracy against Indian culture, Hari Gopinathan, an
Oracle employee in San Francisco, finds streaks of rebellion in Christian yoga practitioners, especially women.

"With an increasingly nuclearised society, women, at the first chance of a free choice, rebel. Yoga started off as one such sub-culture avenue for rebelling. It cuts out middle-men when it comes to spiritualism and offers freedom of expression and minimal diktats on things like sex and gender equality. Add to this the health benefits, and you have a potent adversary to organised religion," says Gopinathan.

(source:  US pastor says yoga 'demonic', sparks row - timesofindia.com).

A Hindu view of 'Christian Yoga'
Christian Yoga - an oxymoron

While yoga is not a "religion" in the sense that the Abrahamic religions are, it is a well-established spiritual path. Its physical postures are only the tip of an iceberg, beneath which is a distinct metaphysics with profound depth and breadth. Its spiritual benefits are undoubtedly available to anyone regardless of religion. However, the assumptions and consequences of yoga do run counter to much of Christianity as understood today. This is why, as a Hindu yoga practitioner and scholar, I agree with the Southern Baptist Seminary President, Albert Mohler, when he speaks of the incompatibility between Christianity and yoga, arguing that "the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine" is fundamentally at odds with Christian teaching. This incompatibility runs much deeper.

Yoga's metaphysics center around the quest to attain liberation from one's conditioning caused by past karma. Karma includes the baggage from prior lives, underscoring the importance of reincarnation. While it is fashionable for many Westerners to say they believe in karma and reincarnation, they have seldom worked out the contradictions with core Biblical doctrines. For instance, according to karma theory, Adam and Eve's deeds would produce effects only on their individual future lives, but not on all their progeny ad infinitum.

Karma is not a sexually transmitted problem flowing from ancestors. This view obviates the doctrine of original sin and eternal damnation. An individual's karmic debts accrue by personal action alone, in a separate and self-contained account. The view of an individual having multiple births also contradicts Christian ideas of eternal heaven and hell seen as a system of rewards and punishments in an afterlife. Yogic liberation is here and now, in the bodily state referred to and celebrated as jivanmukti, a concept unavailable in Christianity and in an afterlife somewhere else. Ironically, the very same Christians who espouse reincarnation also long to have family reunions in heaven.

Yogic liberation is therefore not contingent upon any unique historical event or intervention. 

The Abrahamic religions posit an infinite gap between God and the cosmos, bridged only in the distant past through unique prophetic revelations, making the exclusive lineage of prophets indispensable. (I refer to this doctrine elsewhere in my work as history-centrism.) Yoga, by contrast, has a non-dual cosmology, in which God is everything and permeates everything, and is at the same time also transcendent.

The yogic path of embodied-knowing seeks to dissolve the historical ego, both individual and collective, as false. It sees the Christian fixations on history and the associated guilt, as bondage and illusions to be erased through spiritual practice. Yoga is a do-it-yourself path that eliminates the need for intermediaries such as a priesthood or other institutional authority. Most of the 20 million American yoga practitioners encounter these issues and find them troubling. Some have responded by distorting yogic principles in order to domesticate it into a Christian framework, i.e. the oxymoron, 'Christian Yoga.'

(source: A Hindu view of Christian Yoga - By Rajiv Malhotra - huffingtonpost.com).

Yogi Astounds Indian Scientists

Gujarat, India: An 83-year-old Indian holy man who says he has spent seven decades without food or water has astounded a team of military doctors who studied him during a two-week observation period. Prahlad Jani spent a fortnight in a hospital in the western India state of Gujarat under constant surveillance from a team of 30 medics equipped with cameras and closed circuit television. During the period, he neither ate nor drank and did not go to the toilet.

The long-haired and bearded yogi was sealed in a hospital in the city of Ahmedabad in a study initiated by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the state defense and military research institute. The DRDO hopes that the findings, set to be released in greater detail in several months, could help soldiers survive without food and drink, assist astronauts or even save the lives of people trapped in natural disasters.

“We still do not know how he survives,” neurologist Sudhir Shah told reporters after the end of the experiment. “It is still a mystery what kind of phenomenon this is.” “If Jani does not derive energy from food and water, he must be doing that from energy sources around him, sunlight being one,” said Shah. “As medical practitioners we cannot shut our eyes to possibilities, to a source of energy other than calories.”

Jani has since returned to his village near Ambaji in northern Gujarat where he will resume his routine of yoga and meditation. He says that he was blessed by a goddess at a young age, which gave him special powers.

(source:  Yogi Astounds Indian Scientists - hinduismtoday.com).

India Will Patent Yoga Asanas

New Delhi, India. June 7, 2010: The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has prepared patent formats of nearly 900 yoga asanas (postures), to prevent European and American companies involved in fitness-related activities from claiming them as their own. The asanas have been collected from Patanjali’s classic work on yoga, as well as other ancient classics like the Bhagwat Gita.

These asanas will all be included in the digitalised Traditional Knowledge Library, set up by the council to collect and record traditional treatment therapy knowledge. Medicines and yoga asanas registered with it enjoy the status of being patented. “Video recordings of the asanas are also being made and recorded to prevent them from being stolen,” said TKDL director Dr. V.K. Gupta. A number of countries have already laid claim to around 250 of these postures. some foreign companies have even patented some of them, says Gupta.

(source:  India Will Patent Yoga Asanas - hindustantimes.com).

There is no Christian Yoga - Not found in the bible

It was quite astonishing to see on the flyer “Christian Yoga! This Thursday night….” I could feel the wheels spinning in my brain. “Christian Yoga”, I thought. Now while Christians can practice yoga, I am not aware of any Christian teachings about yoga. Yoga is not a Judeo/Christian word! It is not a part of the Roman Catholic teachings and certainly not a part of protestant teachings. It is not found within the King James Version of the bible. It is a Hindu word, or more correctly a Sanskrit word from the Vedic civilization. So how did we get “Christian Yoga”? 

From this I could conclude that “Christian Yoga” could only indicate one of two possibilities:

1) Christianity is threatened by yoga and is attempting to take over this system that
“invaded their turf” pertaining to spiritual teachings and techniques.

2) Christianity is subconsciously attempting to return to the spiritual roots of civilization—the Vedic civilization.

I thought to myself, “why would they want to take over yoga?” Could it be due to the decline of members within the Christian church within the last 60 years? Is this an extensive marketing plan cooked up in some New York marketing guru’s head? Is it an attempt to water down the teachings of yoga and import their own teachings into the system? Or is it that they cannot stand not to own everything spiritual?

I think the best reason might be that yoga, and eastern spirituality, offered answers to the spiritual questions that the spiritually hungry masses had. It offered a practical, rational, logical, and truthful approach to spirituality. It did not contain any form of self-righteous condemnation, but offered love and acceptance to all. It did not prey upon victims with terms such as “Sin” and “eternal damnation”. But most importantly, it had answers! It offered a practical approach to cultivating a relationship with divinity. It offered a systematic approach and an abstract approach to meet the varying temperaments of the spirituality hungry.

There is no Christian Yoga - conversionagenda.blogspot.com).  

Church protests, Croatia dumps yoga: Croatia’s education ministry has withdrawn its recommendation that teachers take yoga classes after the Roman Catholic Church accused it of trying to sneak Hinduism into schools. Croatia’s bishops issued a fierce protest of the planned yoga classes, calling it “unacceptable to introduce into the schools topics that are in contradiction with the generally accepted system of values and the European cultural tradition.” “Hindu religious practice will be brought into the schools under the guise of exercises,” the bishops said. 

(source: Church protests, Croatia dumps yoga - timesofindia.com). Watch An Invasion through Conversion - videoyahoo.com

Yoga for Teachers Rouses Ire of Croatian Bishops - The Croatian Bishops' Conference said the program would "make an unacceptable favor to an organization and its founder who wants to introduce Hinduistic religious practice in Croatian schools." It said everything was being done under the guise of exercise. A Croatian yoga activist, who asked not to be named, said the bishops were "irritated by anything related to disciplines of oriental origin." 

(source: Yoga for Teachers Rouses Ire of Croatian Bishops - reuters.com).

Fundamentalist Christians in Georgia stopped the Toccoa-Stephens County Recreation Department from offering a Yoga class. They claim that Yoga could lead to devil worship. Christian conservatives and other rigid and dogmatic religious sects have some serious issues with Yoga. 

An English (Reverend Derek Smith) vicar who is in charge of St Michael's Church in the parish of Melksham in Wiltshire, decision to ban yoga classes from his church hall has underlined the fragility of Britain's continuing experiment with a multi-cultural society.  Yoga is one of the fastest growing extra-curricular activities in the United Kingdom with a following among all sections of society. 

A decade ago, it was actively promoted by one of India's most popular diplomats in Britain, High Commissioner H C Apa Pant, who delighted his friends by balancing on his head. In London a spokesman for Britain's Anglican Church backed the right of clergymen to take a stand against any practices which "do not square with Christian teachings". "Yoga is used as a kind of generic term for exercise and stretching, but there are many different types of yoga. Some have a more spiritual basis as handed down from Eastern religions. Last November another vicar in a different part of the country in Henham, Essex, took the same step. The British Wheel of Yoga, the governing body recognized by Sport England, condemned Rev Smith's action as "ignorant". "We Hindus are broadminded and it is surprising for us to hear a Christian vicar say he will ban yoga classes. "Most people practice yoga for health benefits, but even if they were aware of the links with Hinduism, what is the harm? There are many paths to God." The 50-year-old vicar said he had no regrets about his church hall's ban on the weekly yoga classes, which were incompatible with Christianity. Rev Smith said that even if followers in the West used it just for fitness, spiritual leaders in the East insisted it was inseparable from Hindu devotional practice.

(source: rediff.com). 

Gods in New Age film: The seemingly innocuous devices used range from Yoga meditation to a belief in reincarnation. We are given an extraordinary inside glimpse into an eerie world of cult mentality and mindless obedience, and we see how an outright attack against traditional American beliefs has been successfully launched, not only from Hindu missionaries, but from unsuspecting Americans who have accepted the surface manifestations of this religion as trendy and fun. Many of these concepts, amazingly. have found their way into American churches which, themselves, are the very target of the attack. The film covers the chilling parallels between the belief structure in today's New Age subculture and that in Hitler's Third Reich two generations ago.

(source: Gods in New Age - http://www.marianland.com/newage01.html). 

Yoga in Aspen Public Schools Draws Opposition - Yoga has become as trendy as this glamorous ski hamlet, so it would not seem surprising that some local schools have added it to the students' day. But some parents and religious leaders here are objecting, saying that teaching yoga in school violates the separation of church and state. "We anticipate that the yoga classes will provide them with some skills to learn how to better focus and be more attentive," said the Aspen Elementary School principal, Barb Pitchford. "More and more kids seem to have trouble with their attention spans — which is about as long as TV commercials." Leah Kalish, an author of the curriculum being used in Aspen, said opponents took issue with any Sanskrit words. One was "namaste," a word that she said was used in yoga classes to say, "The light in you is the light in me," or more generally, "to acknowledge our common humanity." The students end class here by saying "peace" rather than "namaste." Mr. Grant said yoga had become so commercialized that it no longer was truly yoga. "Yoga has become an enormous fad and is completely adrift from its mooring as an ancient and classical tradition that has always been taught face to face with a master," he said. A Roman Catholic priest in Aspen also objected to yoga in the schools. "The ultimate goal of the yoga is to balance the body, the mind, the soul and the spirit," said the priest, the Rev. Michael O'Brien of St. Mary's Catholic Church. "When you are talking about the soul and the spirit, then aren't you in the realm of religion? And if so, which religion?" Mr. Woodrow, a father of four, said that even watered-down yoga incorporated aspects of Eastern religions that believe in reincarnation and pluralism, which conflict with his beliefs. "It's not fine, it's Hinduism, and it's a completely different value system," he said.

(source: Yoga in Aspen Public Schools Draws Opposition - by Mindy Sink - NewYorkTimes.com).

Shal-ohm! Jews who yoga in Kansas City

Despite its deep roots in Hinduism and Buddhism, yoga is popping up as a trend not just among Jews in greater Kansas City, but among people of many different religions all over the world as a form of physical fitness and a means of finding balance in life. So how do the traditionally Hindu beliefs of yoga and the Jewish belief system fit together? According to Colbert, Jaffe and Kahn, Judaism and yoga fit hand and hand with each other. In fact, yoga can fit with just about any religion. In her book, "Anatomy of the Spirit," Caroline Myss explores how the seven chakras, or energy centers that Hindus believe exist as an ethereal part of the body, connect to basic principles of Judaism and Christianity.

BKS Iyengar, one of the greatest yoga masters, said that yoga was given to the human race, not just to Hinduism. After the meditation, Kahn and Colbert both end with a gentle, "Namaste," a traditional Sanskrit greeting meaning "I honor the divine within you."

(source: Shal-ohm! Jews who yoga in Kansas City - Kansas City Jewish Chronicle - February 4 2005).

Christian Yoga - The new appropriation Strategy of delinking Yoga from Hinduism

Jan Markell wrote an article titled 'Eastern Mysticism and Christianity are Incompatible' to counter the increasing interest Christians are taking in 'Yoga'. Christian Strategists are worried that Christians who benefited from Yoga may further explore Hinduism and start appreciating that. This sense of respect for other religions would play doom to the evangelical Christianity which survives on generating ill will and hatredness towards the 'lost people', i.e., the term used for non-Christians.

Christian Yoga - The new appropriation Strategy of delinking Yoga from Hinduism - christianaggression.com).  Also Refer to Yogaunveiled.com

Let's Take Yoga Back

I have become keenly aware of an alarming trend that disassociates yoga from its Hindu origins. 

I regularly read Yoga Journal at my gym and am continuously amazed at how many times its editors blatantly avoid using the word "Hindu." As I perused the April 09 issue, I found the Upanishads described as "Tantric yoga texts." Exactly one year ago, HAF Hindu American Foundation wrote to the editors of Yoga Journal about the clear disregard for Hinduism. Our letter was never published, and upon following up with them, HAF was informed that the journal does intentionally avoid using the word "Hindu" because it carries too much baggage, and ultimately, their goal is to sell magazines! I immediately requested my parents to discontinue their subscription.

These issues plagued me, but it wasn't until I began furthering my own yoga practice that I found this disassociation so stark. When I look around the yoga studios I frequent, I am almost always the only Indian Hindu in the room. If I lived in a small mid-Western town, this observation may not be so surprising. But I reside in Manhattan, one of the most diverse cities in the US, where Hindus abound and yet, I can't seem to find any in my yoga classes.

So, perhaps it's time for the Hindu community to look inward and accept our share of the blame in losing the affiliation between Hinduism and yoga. How can we maintain and promote the Hindu origin of yoga if the majority of yoga studios don't have Hindu students, forget the idea of Hindu yoga teachers? Our Hindu forefathers understood the unique benefits of yoga and shared yoga with the Western world. The West understood, fell in love with yoga, morphed it into a physical and "spiritual" practice - thereby removing any religious association - and proclaimed their expertise.

In an effort to avoid such a catastrophe, I urge you, as a Hindu American, to reclaim yoga by once again becoming an expert in its practice. We cannot lay claim to a practice if we as a community don't follow it ourselves. As a proud Hindu, it is a humbling experience to learn a practice originating in Hinduism from so many non-Hindus.

(source: Let's Take Yoga Back - By Sheetal Shah - hinducurrents.com).

The Theft of Yoga - Delinking yoga from Hinduism

The Los Angeles Times last week chronicled this steady disembodying of yoga from Hinduism. "Christ is my guru. Yoga is a spiritual discipline much like prayer, meditation and fasting [and] no one religion can claim ownership," says a vocal proponent of "Christian themed" yoga practices. Some Jews practice Torah yoga, Kabbalah yoga and aleph bet yoga, and even some Muslims are joining the act. They are appropriating the collective wisdom of millenia of yogis without a whisper of acknowledgment of yoga's spiritual roots.

Not surprisingly, the most popular yoga journals and magazines are also in the act. Once yoga was no longer intertwined with its Hindu roots, it became up for grabs and easy to sell. These journals abundantly refer to yoga as "ancient Indian," "Eastern" or "Sanskritic," but seem to assiduously avoid the term "Hindu" out of fear, we can only assume, that ascribing honestly the origins of their passion would spell disaster for what has become a lucrative commercial enterprise. The American Yoga Association, on its Web site, completes this delinking of yoga from Hinduism thusly:

"The common belief that Yoga derives from Hinduism is a misconception. Yoga actually predates Hinduism by many centuries...The techniques of Yoga have been adopted by Hinduism as well as by other world religions."

(source:  The theft of yoga - By Dr. Aseem Shukla - Hindu American Foundation).

Refer to Take Yoga Back - Bringing to Light Yoga's Hindu Roots - Hindu American Foundation

Top of Page

Yoga in the Modern World

The ground for its introduction to the West was laid in 1893, with the arrival from India of Swami Vivekananda, who gained notoriety when he represented Hinduism at the world Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Soon after, the West's awareness of Indian philosophy grew, through the work of such groups as the Theosophical Society, founded in the US by Madame Blavatsky. The Society translated most of the ancient Indian philosophical texts available at the time, including an interpretation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by the English novelist and playwright Christopher Isherwood, a member of the Society. Other members of the Society included some of the most prominent intellectuals of the day such as Aldous Huxley, Frank Lloyd Wright and W. B. Yeats. For the next few decades, the West's interest in Indian philosophy continued to grow. An important voice for the universality of these teachings was the great philosopher and teacher J. Krishnamurti. With awareness of the philosophy grew an interest in the practice with which it was so closely linked – yoga. In 1935, the eminent Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung even described yoga as 'one of the greatest things the human mind has ever created.'

One of his most distinguished pupils was the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who wrote the foreword for Iyengar's book Light on Yoga, published in 1966. It wasn't long before people from all over the world were travelling to India to discover yoga and the Vedic philosophy from which it emerged. Then with the Beatles' journey to India in 1968, to study Transcendental Meditation with their Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that was Indian became firmly part of the hippy culture. In his memoirs, Unfinished Journey, he wrote: "On our first evening in Delhi, challenged by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to show what I could do, I stood on my head in a somewhat rickety fashion, under the critical gaze of his daughter Indira, his sister "Nan" Pandit, and a few members of the government. "Oh, that's no good!" said Nehru in his sharp way. "I'll show you." He took off his little Gandhi hat and very elegantly - although not more elegantly than I can manage it now - upended himself on the drawing room carpet. Dutifully I did my best to emulate my first guru, and we were both on our heads when the splendid turbaned and sashed butler threw open the door to announce that dinner was served."

(source: Unfinished Journey - By Yehudi Menuhin  p. 250 - 268).

According to Alan Watts:(1915-1973) a professor, graduate school dean and research fellow of Harvard University, drew heavily on the insights of Vedanta. He well known in the 1960s as a pioneer in bringing Eastern philosophy to the West.

"For the intellectual type there is the Gnana Yoga, the way of thought; for the feeling type there is Bhakti Yoga, the way of love; for the worker there is Karma Yoga, the way of service. But for those exceptionally gifted, there is a fourth which comprises the other three – Raja Yoga, the royal way, and this contains not only the trinity of thought, love and service, but also that mainly psychic form of yoga known as Hatha…..so great are the powers which it develops that they are only safe in the hands of those of the highest moral discipline, those who can be trusted to use them without thought of personal gain."

(source: The Wisdom of Asia – by Alan Watts p. 27-28).


Sage Patanjali. North facade garbhagraha - Melakkadormbur. South Arcot. Sri. Amrtakatesvam temple. 

(image source: French Institute of Indology. Pondicherry. India).


In a moving letter written to Yoga Journal magazine Ukrainian yogi Andrey V. Sidersky tells how yoga is ameliorating the effects from radiation exposure when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant melted down. Sidersky writes, "Everything is soaked with radiation. The immune system is undermined. One who practices yoga can fight it. That is why yoga is so important here. My blood is still impure, due to radiation, but not as much as it could be. We are approaching death much more quickly than the rest of humanity. Those who practice yoga have a much better chance to get ready."  

In recent times, Sri Aurobindo saw a new vision and possibility of advance in spiritual life. He realized that it should and could be possible for a human race as such to rise to a new and higher status of living, a supramental in place of the mental which it now commands, but which is subject to partiality, fragmentaries and division. A supramental status of wholeness, sure of truth, is the development called for and needed in the present situation of human life. This, Aurobindo called "The Integral Yoga", the yoga which should lift the integral nature of man, by a wide integral process of growth to a new integral consciousness. Integral Yoga was Aurobindo's answer to the fragmentation of Yoga that it has suffered since its classical period. 

(source: Yoga in Hindu Scriptures - By H. Kumar Kaul p. 6).

Yoga and Science

The one central insight into Truth to which all Indian wisdom points is the oneness of all that exists. This truth has been stated in myriad ways in the long history of India. In the Rig Veda, the earliest text we find this in a cosmlogoical-theological form as the various gods and natural forces transform themselves into each other. In the Upanishads, the supreme identity of Atman and Brahman discovered in meditation indicates the oneness of the deepest level in a person with the subtlest level of the cosmos. From Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita one hears that those who truly know realize that all there is is Krishna. It is one and the same Divine Energy that manifests itself in the various forms engaged in the various forms engaged in the wonderful dance of Prakriti (Nature, both manifest as well as un-manifest).

Ravi Ravindra observes: "Over a period of at least four thousand years - as reckoned by western chronology - the sages in India have repeatedly said that there is an underlying unity of all that exists, including everything we call animate or un-animate, and that the cultivation of wisdom consists of realization of this truth. Modern science is not the only avenue to truth. The great spiritual traditions have perspectives on reality, based on more direct and and intuitive perception in purified states of consciousness, which are either ignored or denied by science. Among the examples of such insights in the spiritual traditions is an acknowledgment of levels of being higher than the mind which can be experienced but cannot be known by any mode of knowledge that separates object and subject. The state of consciousness in which the unitive insight is possible requires a radical transformation of being brought about by spiritual disciplines such as Yoga."

"Yoga is as much religion, as science, and art since it is concerned with being (sat), knowing (jnana) and doing (karma). The aim of Yoga, however, is beyond all these three, and beyond any opposites that they imply. Yoga aims at moksha, which is unconditional and uncaused freedom, by its very nature this state of freedom is beyond the dualities of being-nonbeing, knowledge-ignorance, and activity-passivity. The way to moksha is Yoga, which serves as the path or a discipline for integration."

(source: Yoga and The Teachings of Krishna - By Ravi Ravindra p. 157-165). Also Refer to Yogaunveiled.com

Top of Page


Yoga, as a 'science' of achieving this transformation of finite man into the infinite One, has to be recognized as something intrinsically Indian.  Yoga has been called a living fossil. It has had five thousand years of glorious history. It belongs to the earliest heritage of India's humanity. The Indian liberation teachings - the great Yogas of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism - clearly represent an invaluable resource for contemporary humankind. 

The path ahead is difficult and dangerous, but that is inevitable in any great undertaking. The goal of individual salvation and collective transformation may be far away, and may need man generations to arrive. Let us recall that immortal verse from the Katha Upanishad which exhorts us to arise, awake and move onwards across the sharp and difficult razor-edged path laid out by the great spiritual beings of the past ages: 

Uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata,
Ksursya dhara nisita duratyaya
Durgam pathas tat kavayo vadanti.

Karel Werner writes: "The uniqueness of Yoga and its great value for our time lie in the fact that it is based on a living tradition that has remained efficient since ancient times; that it has developed systematic methods for pursuing and reaching its aim; and that these method can be applied and studied today both on the popular level by people with personal inclinations towards following a spiritual path and on the academic level by research workers in various fields such as comparative religion, philosophy, psychology, psychotherapy, and physiology. All other forms of mystical practice are, by contrast, largely a matter of the more or less distant past (eg. the ancient Greek mysteries, Egyptian magic practices, Gnosticism, various forms of shamanism, and medieval Christian mysticism) or if they are partly alive, which some might claim to be, they are closed systems accessible only to believers."

(source: Yoga and Indian Philosophy - by Karel Werner p. 98-99 ). 

George Feuerstein remarks: "But nowhere on Earth ahs the impulse toward transcendence found more consistent and creative expression than on the Indian peninsula. The civilization of India has spawned an almost overwhelming variety of spiritual beliefs, practices, and approaches."

(source: The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice - By Georg Feuerstein p. xxv).

Karel Werner has observed:   

"Unlike in Europe, philosophy in India has always been concerned with the individual, his existential situation, his destiny and salvation, i.e. with the final solution to the riddle of man's existence. The world or the universe - although the question of its origin is the theme of one of the earliest Indian philosophical texts (the hymn of Creation, RV 10, 129) - soon appears to be viewed mainly as the stage on which the drama of life is going on. The important and central problem of philosophical investigation is the nature of man and the means of transcending his present limited situation."

“According to the Indian tradition, the ancient Vedic religion is not a product of the imagination of primitive minds reacting to natural phenomena by personifying, worshipping, and dreading them, but on the contrary, is the creation of exceptional individuals who had reached the fullness of mystical vision, which gave them an understanding of and insight into the problems of life and existence that may have amounted to the final knowledge of the truth itself.” And some hymns of the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda, if studied carefully, lead us to admit that only deep experience based on efficient Yoga technique could have produced the profound insights that we find in them.”

"There is a spirit of discovery about Yoga that is similar to that often found in modern scientific research. In this field of activity of the human mind Yoga also shares with science the characteristic of a methodical and systematic approach to its task."

Yoga and Indian Philosophy - by Karel Werner p.97 and 101 - 103).

L Adams Beck has written: "This subject of Yoga is a high and difficult one. At points there is symbolism that only the instructed can piece and reach the truth behind. Remember also that Yoga is in many respects a key to the highest teachings of the Indian philosophies, including that of the Buddha." He has endorsed Yoga as a gift to the West. We are only beginning to realize what great gifts India brings us, gifts not to be feared but welcomed.."

"The philosophy of Yoga, though inchoate, was ancient when the Upanishads were comparatively young. The Svetasvatara Upanishad says: "Where fire is churned or produced by rubbing sacrifice, where air is controlled (by Yoga practices) then the mind attains perfection."

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan who had a great respect for Yoga wrote: "It is good to know that the ancient thinkers required of us to realize the possibilities of the soul in solitude and silence, and to transform the flashing and fading moments of vision into a steady light which could illumine the long years of life."

(source: The Story of Oriental Philosophy - By L Adams Beck p. 10w -107).

Yoga is to transform the whole man, to discipline his body, to purify his mind, to touch the very foundations of his being. 


Books used for this chapter:

1. Yoga and The Teaching of Krishna - by Ravi Ravindra
2. Yoga As Philosophy  And Religion - By Surendranath Dasgupta
3. Yoga and Indian Philosophy - by Karel Werner
4. Essays on Hinduism - by Karan Singh
5. Yoga and The Bhagavad Gita - By Tom McArthur
6. Philosophy of Hinduism - By Galav
7. Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy - By Georg Feuerstein
8. The Hindu Mind - By Bansi Pandit
9 Yoga and the Hindu Tradition - By Jean Varenne
10. Divya Chakshu Yoga - By Bhim Sen Gupta
11. Yoga and Ayurveda - By Satyendra Prasad Mishra
12. The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice - By Georg Feuerstein
13. Yoga: A Vision of its Future - By Gopi Krishna
14. Yoga Samhita - by Swami Sivananda
15. The serpent power: being the Sat-cakra-nir¯upana and P¯aduk¯a-pañcaka, two works on Laya yoga, translated from the Sanskrit, with introd. and commentary by Sir John Woodroffe aka Arthur Avalon 
16. The Yoga and Its Objects - By Sri Aurobindo

For more refer to The Magic of Yoga - By Jahnavi Sheriff - rediff.com).  Also Refer to Yogaunveiled.com and Kayayoga.net




Top of Page

Did You Know?

Shiva Temple: The Only Hindu Temple Built by an Englishman in India
Lord Shiva rescued Lady Martin’s husband in Afghanistan

In 1879, when there was British were ruling in India, Lt. Col. Martin of Agar Malva was leading the army in the war against Afghanistan.

Col. Martin used to regularly send messages of his well-being to his wife. The war continued for long & Lady Martin stopped getting messages. She was very upset. 

Once riding on her horse, she passed by the temple of Baijnath Mahadev. She was attracted to the sound of Conch & Mantra. She went inside and came to know that the Brahmanas were worshipping Lord Shiva. They saw her sad face and asked her problem. She explained everything to them. They told her that Lord Shiva listens to the prayers of devotees and takes them out of difficult situations in no time. With the advice of the Brahmanas she started the “Laghurudri Anushtthan” of the Mantra: “Om Namah Shivaya” for 11 days. She prayed to Lord Shiva that if her husband reaches home safely, then she would get the temple renovated.

On the last of the “Laghurudri” a messenger came and gave a letter to her. Her husband had written: “I was regularly sending messages to you from the battle grounds but suddenly the Pathans surrounded us from all sides. We were entrapped in a situation where there was no scope of escaping death. Suddenly I saw a Yogi of India with long hair, carrying a weapon with three pointers (Trishul). His personality was amazing and he was maneuvering his weapon with a magnificent style. Seeing this great man, the Pathans started running back. With his grace our bad times turned into moments of victory. This was possible only because of that man of India wearing a lion skin & carrying a three-pointer weapon (Trishul). That great Yogi told me that I should not worry and that he had come to rescue me because he was very pleased with my wife’s prayers.”

Tears of joy were falling down the eyes of Lady Martin’s eyes while reading the letter. Her heart was overwhelmed. She fell into the feet of Lord Shiva’s statue and burst in tears.

After a few weeks Col. Martin returned. Lady Martin narrated the whole incident to him. Now both husband & wife became devotees of Lord Shiva. In 1883 they donated Rs. 15,000 for renovating the temple. The information engraved slab for the same is still there in the Baijnath Mahadev Temple of Agar Malva. This is the only Hindu temple built by the British.

When Lady Martin left for Europe she said that they would make Shiva Temple at their home and pray to Him till the end of life.  
The same Supreme Power is present in Lord Shiva… Lord Krishna… Mother Durga… One only needs strong faith....

Yog-Yatra 4 of Sant Shri Asaramji Ashram - http://www.ashram.org/satsang_eng/ladymartin.html).    

Top of Page






h o m e

y o g a    a n d    h i n d u    p h i l o s o p h y

c o n t e n t s

Copyright © 2006 - All Rights Reserved.

Guest Book

Updated - October 28, 2008