What is Yoga as per Markandeya Purana

7.7.4 Yogadhyaya

Dattatreya says- O king! With the attainment of knowledge, people come to conjugate with the Supreme Almighty and which results into dispersion of their ignorance. To attain Moksha, it is necessary for a man to shun attachment first of all. Only after that, he will become free from sorrows.

When he becomes free from sorrow, he unites with the supreme almighty. This phenomenon is known as Yoga. Unification with the supreme almighty enables a man to attain knowledge and finally Moksha (salvation). It is therefore essential for the all those seeking salvation that first of all they should renounce affection and attachment for the worldly objects including their near and dear ones.

Knowledge and renunciation are nothing but two sides of the same coin and one is necessary to give rise to the other. Home is nothing but the place for staying, food is nothing but the energy required sustaining our body and knowledge is nothing but an aid to attain salvation. Anything that caused obstacles in the way of salvation is ignorance. A living being is bound to receive the fruits of action no matter whether they are good or bad. Hence one should carry out his duties without bothering for the results. With the attenuation of the results of the action performed in the previous births, a living being becomes free from the cycles of life and death. With the attainment of Yoga, Yogis take refuge in none other than Brahma. But the path of attaining Yoga is indeed difficult, if not impossible. One has to conquer his soul first of all because the soul itself is regarded as invincible. Control of physical impurities with the help of Pranayama, sins by determination, lust by self-restrains and contemplation on God are the ways to conquer the soul.

7.7.5 Perfection in Yoga

Dattatreya says-During the process of conquering the soul, different kinds of allurements begins to divert the mind of the Yogis. It is imperative for the Yogi to keep his mind busy by observing fast, worshipping and contemplating in God. It is the duty of the Yogi to always contemplate on God, only then he can seek solace in Him. Thus, after controlling his senses, a Yogi ought to eat and sleep less, attain unification with the Supreme Being. O king! A Yogi unifies with Brahma once his physical and mental faults are removed. Then, he never separates from the Supreme Being.

7.7.6 Daily Routine of a Yogi

Alark says- O lord, now kindly narrate about the daily routine, a Yogi should abide by in order to preserve his piousness.

Dattatreya says- O king! Respect and insult are the two reasons for love and hatred. Yogis attain perfection by understanding insult as respect and vice versa. A Yogi should therefore never attend social functions like Shradha, marriage ceremonies or other festivities. He should not accept the hospitality of others and should shun unnecessary journeys. A Yogi should seek alms only after the householder and his family has dined. A Yogi should accept alms only from those households whose inmates are gentle, religious and free from blemishes and should accept things like whey, milk, fruits, edible roots, gram flour etc. Before going to dine, a Yogi should offer his food to the deities reciting he following mantras-

PRANANYAYE SWAHA

AAPANAYE SWAHA

SAMANAYE SWAHA

UDANAYE SWAHA

VYANAYE SWAHA

After reciting these mantras one by one and offering food to the deities who are present in his body as different forms of air, the Yogi may now proceed to dine. Control of senses and greed, celibacy, renunciation and non-violence are the five resolutions of a Yogi. Control of anger, service to the Guru, sanctity, eating less and studying Vedas regularly are the five norms for a Yogi. A Yogi must practice meditation at a desolate place, forest, cave or peak of a mountain. A true celibate has full control over his speech, mind and action. Iron and gold have equal worth in his eye; he loves no one and hates no one.

7.7.7 Description of Omkar

Dattatreya says- Those Yogis who abide by their resolution are never degraded from their supreme position. Such Yogis always recite Om while contemplating on the eternal God. ‘A’, ‘U’ and ‘M’, these three syllables constitute the body OM or AUM. These three syllables represent the virtues (gunas) of Satva, Tama and Raja respectively. Thus, by contemplating on God and reciting Om, a Yogi ultimately achieves unification with that eternal spirit. But there are still some disastrous traps that a Yogi should guard himself against, otherwise his entire penance might turn futile at the time of death. Hence every Yogi must be aware of these disastrous traps.

7.7.8 Description of Disastrous Traps

Dattatreya says- A person who is unable to see the path of the deities, or the heavenly bodies like- Dhruv, Shukra (Venus), Soma (Moon), or his own shadow or Goddess Arundhati, must understand that his death is near. For those people to whom, the Sun appears without radiance but fire appears as the Sun, die within eleven months. Sighting of gold and silver in urine or stools signifies death within ten months. Those who see ghosts, Gandharvas and gold tree in the dreams live for nine months only. Those who become fat or thin suddenly live for eight months more. Those Yogis whose heels appear cracked while walking on sand or mud die within seven months. Getting perched on the body by volatile birds like vulture, pigeon, owl, crow etc. indicates that the concerned person will live for only six months. Those who see their shadow in opposite direction live for four or five months more only. Those who sight lightning without clouds or rainbow during the night time, in their dream live for two or three months more. Those who cannot see their reflection in ghee, oil, water and mirror die within a month. A person whose body smells like a cadaver die within fifteen days. Those whose hands and feet remain dry even after taking bath and dry even after taking light refreshments live only for ten days. Those who sight hair, cinders, ash, snakes and dried rivers in the dream, die on the eleventh day. Those who feel hungry even after eating to their fill also die soon.

O king! There are many more disastrous symptoms that indicate death. A Yogi must always be alert regarding these signs. Whenever a Yogi perceives the appearance of all or some of these disastrous symptoms, he must at once take to Yoga to minimise the effects. Brahmagyan- A Yogi experiences extreme joy when he meditates while doing Yoga. Only then can he experience Brahma. Physical body is ephemeral; hence a true Yogi does not mourn over the loss of physical body. Hence, a Yogi must train his mind in Yoga ignoring sorrow or affection. This is indeed a difficult task to achieve. Alark says- O Brahmin! By your blessings, my ignorance has ended. Now I will do everything so that ignorance does not grip me once again. Then taking Dattatreya’s permission, Alark went back to the king of Kashi and said- ‘O king! You have a desire for the kingdom, so take this kingdom and enjoy its luxuries yourself or give it to Subahu.’ The king of Kashi asked Alark as to why he was renouncing the kingdom without fighting a war. He also tried to instigate Alark by saying that his conduct did not suit the Kshatriyas. Alark said- ‘Only Brahma is truth, all the other things are false. Now controlling my senses, I will attain perfection in Yoga.’

What is yoga? Is it what you think it is?

What is yoga? Today, in the modern world it is a fashion only. It is an exercise class where you twist yourself into pretzel type postures that are supposed to be linked with being spiritual somehow, yet the entire thing is based upon western exercise, physiology, and anatomy and not anything of what yoga physiology is nor what yoga itself is.

Over the next month I will be posting posts like this one with the actual Puranic textual references of what yoga is. Lets see how much it has to do with an sweaty exercise class or tattoos of hindu deities all over the body.

So you think the class you go to that has the handsome guy in small shorts dancing around playing a harmonium and singing/slaughtering the pronunciation of mantras (but you and 99.999% of everyone else wouldn’t know the difference anyway) is yoga? Then we proceed to him putting you through a grueling sweat your butt off workout in his “flow” class (to whatever sequencing of postures he thinks is cool to throw together) while jamming out the newest yoga grooves, loudly. What has this insane world come to. Marketing, sales, and competition of spirituality…….. really? What papa karma is being created is mind boggling.

What do the ancient texts think yoga is. They couldn’t be any source for anything authentic could they?

To give you some kind of idea of dates of this literature here is a clipit from Wikipedia, who knows how accurate it is since it is from an American historical perspective. Interesting truth comes out when things are taken from their source though instead of a foreign view.

  • Rigveda, 4000 – 1500 BCE
  • Samaveda, 1500 – 500 BCE
  • Yajurveda, 1500 – 500 BCE
  • Atharvaveda, 1500 – 500 BCE
  • Upanishads, 1200 – 500 BCE
  • Bhagavad Gita, 500 BCE – 200 BCE
  • Ramayana, 400 BCE – 400 CE
  • Mahabharata, 400 BCE – 400 CE
  • Samkhya Sutra
  • Mimamsa Sutra, 300-200 BCE
  • Arthashastra, 400 BCE – 200 CE
  • Nyaya Sutra, 2nd century BCE
  • Vaiseshika Sutra, 2nd century BCE
  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 100 BCE – 500 CE
  • Brahma Sutra
  • Puranas, 3 CE
  • Shiva Sutras, 8 CE
  • Abhinavabharati, 9 – 10 CE (this is also Tantraloka, Tantrasara, and Kashmir Shavism)
  • Yoga Vasistha, 10 – 14 CE
  • The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, 15 CE
  • Shiva Samhita, 17 CE
  • Gheranda Samhita, 18 CE
  • Christy Turlington’s Book on Yoga 2008

All of the following below is taken from rough Western translations of the main 18 Puranas, without any deeper knowledge to the wisdom held in them. Pretty much anywhere that the definition or any understanding of what yoga is can be had is what you have here. Then after reading this, go online to http://www.elephantjournal.com and see what you have there for modern day – what is considered yoga. Better yet, check out these… http://shivarea.com/pranadandayoga_home ….. or http://paddleboardbliss.com/ . I show this to people in India, their jaws drop and they are completely baffled at what we in the West think yoga is, not to mention the circus we make out of spirituality and I can’t tell you how much of a chuckle comes at our soft and heavenly “spiritual yoga teacher voices” and flowery language that we use. This is what happens when the foundation and context is not taught or understood and a focus is maintained upon a physical and self help context. Lots of money to be made on products and teacher trainings for styles though.

“That may be,” said Dadhichi. “But the weapons are no longer there. I have swallowed up their energy. Let me tell you what can be done. I will use the powers of meditation (yoga) to give up my life. Then excellent weapons can be made out of my bones.

 

The word yoga means union. Yoga is thus a form of meditation that unites the human soul (atman) with the divine soul (Paramatman), or equivalently, with the divine essence (Brahman).

A practitioner of yoga has to study the Puranas, the Vedas and history He has to exercise restraint regarding the sort of food he eats. The best forms of food are yogurt,  fruits, roots, and milk. Yoga should be practiced in a place that is pleasant. It should not be too hot or too cold there. Nor should there be any noise to distract the practitioner.

Yoga has to be performed in a proper posture (asana). The practitioner concentrates the entire focus of his mind on the tip of his nose. He contemplates the form of brahmana. This can only be successful if one is detached and controls one’s senses completely.

If yoga is performed properly, there comes the knowledge that the same Paramatman is in all living beings. To think that living beings are distinct from one another is only to fall prey to one’s illusions. All the elements have the same Paramatman in them.

 

 

In the absence of mind, even the soul is rendered motionless. When one accepts the dictates of the mind and indulges in sensual pleasures, soul too comes to be bound with them. The ultimate outcome of all the spiritual efforts like celibacy, study of Vedas etc. and abidance to pious actions is the concentration of mind. Concentration of mind and is abstaintation from sensual pleasures are the primary conditions for attainment of Paramayoga (supreme meditation). Thus Lord Krishna preached Uddhava about Jnana Gita. Uddhava too took Bhagvat (which is a form of the Lord) with honor and departed for Badrikashrama.

 

Describing about the various types of Yoga, Suta told the sages that there were three types of Yoga – Gyan Yoga, Kriya Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. “Each of them is capable of giving salvation to a man. When the mind or intellect unites with the soul it is called Gyana Yoga. When the soul gets attached with external objects, it is called Kriya yoga. The unification of one’s whole being with goddess Bhagavati is called Bhakti Yoga. All these three yogas combinedly are capable of giving salvation to a man. A man becomes a devotee by his actions or Karmas. Devotion or Bhakti helps a man to attain Jnana or knowledge. Jnana or Knowledge gives salvation. Yoga is the path through which a man can attain liberation whereas Kriya-yoga is the chief means to attain it.

 

A Sanyasi wakes up early in the morning before the sun rises. After getting up he should remember his preceptor or Guru and then he should pray to express his gratitude towards his Guru.

After that he should practice Pranayama and try to concentrate his mind on the six chakras present in his bodies.

After the completion of Pranayama and concentration on the six chakras he should finish his daily routines. After applying ‘ashes’ on his body he should chant the sacred mantras and perform ‘tarpana’. Subsequently he should perform Achaman and then practice Pranayama for three times. After that he should remember the sages or rishis. While going to do worship, he should maintain silence all along the way. He should do worship only after washing his feet and performing Achaman.

A Sanyasi should paste the ground with cow dung and construct a quadrangular ‘Mandapa’. He should then keep a broad leaf of Palm tree at its center. He should then fence the area with coloured threads from all the four directions. After that he should draw a eight petalled flower in the center of the Mandap, upon which he should draw a Shiva Yantra. At last he can commence his worship of the Sun god.

 

 

Kartikey told Sage Vamadev that an ascetic does not die but takes a Samadhi, therefore instead of being cremated he is buried. Therefore an ascetic must practice the art of Samadhi to perfection. If he has not yet perfected the art of Samadhi, then he should keep on practicing yoga till he attains mastery over the art of Samadhi. He should try to concentrate his mind on the Omkar mantra, which is eternal. If his body has become weak and feeble and incapable of doing physical exercises like Pranayama then he should indulge himself in Shiva remembrance. This way an ascetic can attain to heaven. After his death the rest of the ascetics should perform the rituals at his place of death for ten days.

 

 

The whole Pashupata Vrata is divided into five parts – Kriya, Taipei, Tapa, Dhyana and Gyana. The Shaiva-dharma is the supreme religion and the rituals pertaining to it are based on the Shruits and the Smritis. Pashupat Vrata has been mentioned in the Vedas as the bestower of Supreme knowledge. It also contains all the eight organs of yoga, which were created by lord Shiva himself. Lord Shiva is easily pleased if worship is done by this method. The devotee attains supreme knowledge and becomes liberated from all the bondage’s of this world.

 This ritual should be repeated on the following day but the fast should not be broken in the night. On the final day, that is full moon day he should repeat all the rituals and after putting off the fire of the Havana Kunda, he should smear his body with the ashes. He should then take his bath and put on deer skin or bark of the tree. He should also hold a stick and put on a waist band (Mekhala). After that he should again rinse (Achaman) his mouth and smear ashes on his body. He should perform the exercise of Ashtanga yoga. Three times in a day as per the instructions of his guru. This way a man is freed from the beastly qualities present in him.

 A brahmin should also have the following qualities:- a) To see god in each soul b)Compassion c) Virtuous conducts d) Satisfaction e) Belief in God f) Non violence g)Devotion h) Regular Vedas study i) Practicing Yoga j) Preaching teachings of Vedas k)Giving lectures on the religious scriptures. l) Being a celibate m) Penance n)Having a Shikha and a scared thread etc.

 

Yoga means such actions, which after pacifying all the human tendencies helps a man to unite with Shiva. Following are the five divisions of yoga- 1) Mantra Yoga, 2) Sparsh Yoga (union of touch), 3) Bhava Yoga (union by devotion), 4) Abhava yoga (Union without being emotionally attached), 5) Mahayoga (The great union).

Mantra yoga helps a man to understand the meaning of mantras and uniting with Shiva by the concentration of mind. When Mantra yoga is perfected by the practice of Pranayama it is called ‘Sparshyoga’. Bhavayoga means meditating and chanting without uttering a word. Abhava yoga means such a union when the devotee contemplates on the final annihilation, without being emotionally attached with the world.

A man whose mind is preoccupied with the thoughts of Shiva is supposed to have attained the state of Mahayoga. A yogi can unite with Shiva after purifying his body with the help of Pranayama etc.

 

There are possibilities of numerous obstacles being faced by a man who practices yoga like laziness, disease, carelessness, lack of concentration, confusion and sorrow etc. While practicing yoga, one must try to keep himself free from such demerits.

After becoming liberated from these flaws a man can easily attain six types of accomplishment – talent (Pratibha), super power of hearing (Shravana), excellent conversational power and power of speech (Vrata), Divine sight (Darshan), Divine power of taste (Aswad), Divine power of touch (Vedana). The capability of seeing things situated at distant places is called ‘Pratibha’. The ability to listen without making any effort is called ‘Shravana’. The ability to decipher the meaning of animal’s language is called ‘Vrata’. Being able to see divine things without making any effort is called ‘Darshan’. The power, which enables a man to know about the taste of a thing without actually tasting it, is called ‘Aswad’. ‘Vedana’ means the knowledge of all types of touch.

A devotee can attain all types of accomplishment merely by having devotion towards lord Shiva and by meditating on him. In the beginning, a yogi should try to meditate on the form of Shiva (Saguna), but later on the switch over to Shiva’s formless (nirguna) quality. Meditating on nirguna form of Shiva is not easy. It can be mastered only by constant and steady practice. When mastered it bestows all kinds of accomplishment. Meditation combined with Pranayama gives four types of accomplishments peace (Shanti), tranquility (Prashanti), luster (Dipti) and boon (Prasad). A devotee can have a darshan of lord Shiva if he does meditation with non attachment.

 

Once, he had gone into the Magadh forest where he found numerous sages engrossed in meditation. After introducing himself to the sages, he expressed his desire to know about the path that led to benediction. He also wanted to know how a man could achieve respectability and contentment in his life. The sages told him that a man could achieve benediction only by following the path of Dharma. “A religious man achieves both respectability and contentment”, said the sages. Sukeshi then asked them about the characteristics of Dharma. The sages revealed to him that the deities engage themselves in religious activities like Yagya, self-study, study of Vedas and worship of Lord Vishnu. So, all these activities are the Dharma of the deities. “The Dharma of the demons consists of negative qualities like jealousy etc. But they have profound knowledge in policy matters and have great devotion towards Shiva”, said the sages. “The Siddha’s Dharma is to engage himself in activities like practice of Yoga, study of Vedas, self-realisation and devotion to both Lord Vishnu and Shiva”, said the sages. In this way, the sages enlightened Sukeshi on the Dharma of different sections of divine entities.

 

Sage Pulastya says- “Dharma, the possessor of divine body and who manifested from the heart of Lord Brahma married Murti, the daughter of Daksha. Four sons were born to them- Hari, Krishna, Nara and Narayan. Hari and Krishna engaged themselves in the practice of Yoga while Nar and Narayan went to the Himalaya Mountain and started doing penance for the welfare of humans.

 

One day, Bali called his father- Prahlada to heaven and requested him to become the ruler of heaven but Prahlada refused by saying- “As I have chosen the path of Yoga after relinquishing everything, it would not be proper for me to get attached to worldly matters once again. Since you have snatched heaven from the deities on account of your valiance, hence the heaven belongs to you.” Bali requested Prahlada to enlighten him on the duties of a king and on the virtuous deeds which would enable him in attaining Dharma, Arth, Kama and Moksha.

 

 

Sumati says- Now, you should become a Vanprasthi and lead a life of a Bhikshu by having control over your senses. You will attain that rare Yoga, which helps a man to unite with the almighty after freeing him from the cycles of birth, death and rebirth.

Brahmin says- O son! Now explain to me about this Yoga, which bestows liberation to a man.

 Sumati says- I am now describing to you, the same text related with Yoga that was once narrated by Dattatreya to Alarka.

 The Brahmin asked Sumati- Who was Dattatreya’s father? How did he acquire the knowledge of Yoga? Who was Alarka?

Dattatreya says- O king! With the attainment of knowledge, people come to conjugate with the Supreme Almighty and which results into dispersion of their ignorance. To attain Moksha, it is necessary for a man to shun attachment first of all. Only after that, he will become free from sorrows. When he becomes free from sorrow, he unites with the supreme almighty. This phenomenon is known as Yoga. Unification with the supreme almighty enables a man to attain knowledge and finally Moksha (salvation). It is therefore essential for the all those seeking salvation that first of all they should renounce affection and attachment for the worldly objects including their near and dear ones.

Knowledge and renunciation are nothing but two sides of the same coin and one is necessary to give rise to the other. Home is nothing but the place for staying, food is nothing but the energy required sustaining our body and knowledge is nothing but an aid to attain salvation. Anything that caused obstacles in the way of salvation is ignorance. A living being is bound to receive the fruits of action no matter whether they are good or bad. Hence one should carry out his duties without bothering for the results. With the attenuation of the results of the action performed in the previous births, a living being becomes free from the cycles of life and death. With the attainment of Yoga, Yogis take refuge in none other than Brahma. But the path of attaining Yoga is indeed difficult, if not impossible. One has to conquer his soul first of all because the soul itself is regarded as invincible. Control of physical impurities with the help of Pranayama, sins by determination, lust by self-restrains and contemplation on God are the ways to conquer the soul.

 Dattatreya says-During the process of conquering the soul, different kinds of allurements begins to divert the mind of the Yogis. It is imperative for the Yogi to keep his mind busy by observing fast, worshipping and contemplating in God. It is the duty of the Yogi to always contemplate on God, only then he can seek solace in Him. Thus, after controlling his senses, a Yogi ought to eat and sleep less, attain unification with the Supreme Being. O king! A Yogi unifies with Brahma once his physical and mental faults are removed. Then, he never separates from the Supreme Being.

 Alarka says- O lord, now kindly narrate about the daily routine, a Yogi should abide by in order to preserve his piousness.

 Dattatreya says- O king! Respect and insult are the two reasons for love and hatred. Yogis attain perfection by understanding insult as respect and vice versa. A Yogi should therefore never attend social functions like Shradha, marriage ceremonies or other festivities. He should not accept the hospitality of others and should shun unnecessary journeys. A Yogi should seek alms only after the householder and his family has dined. A Yogi should accept alms only from those households whose inmates are gentle, religious and free from blemishes and should accept things like whey, milk, fruits, edible roots, gram flour etc.

After reciting mantras one by one and offering food to the deities who are present in his body as different forms of air, the Yogi may now proceed to dine.

 

Control of senses and greed, celibacy, renunciation and non-violence are the five resolutions of a Yogi. Control of anger, service to the Guru, sanctity, eating less and studying Vedas regularly are the five norms for a Yogi. A Yogi must practice meditation at a desolate place, forest, cave or peak of a mountain. A true celibate has full control over his speech, mind and action. Iron and gold have equal worth in his eye; he loves no one and hates no one.

 

Dattatreya says- Those Yogis who abide by their resolution are never degraded from their supreme position. Such Yogis always recite Om while contemplating on the eternal God. ‘A’, ‘U’ and ‘M’, these three syllables constitute the body OM or AUM. These three syllables represent the virtues (gunas) of Satva, Tamas and Rajas respectively. Thus, by contemplating on God and reciting Om, a Yogi ultimately achieves unification with that eternal spirit. But there are still some disastrous traps that a Yogi should guard himself against, otherwise his entire penance might turn futile at the time of death. Hence every Yogi must be aware of these disastrous traps.

Dattatreya says- A person who is unable to see the path of the deities, or the heavenly bodies like- Dhruva, Shukra (Venus), Soma (Moon), or his own shadow or Goddess Arundhati, must understand that his death is near. For those people to whom, the Sun appears without radiance but fire appears as the Sun, die within eleven months. Sighting of gold and silver in urine or stools signifies death within ten months. Those who see ghosts, Gandharvas and gold tree in the dreams live for nine months only. Those who become fat or thin suddenly live for eight months more. Those Yogis whose heels appear cracked while walking on sand or mud die within seven months. Getting perched on the body by volatile birds like vulture, pigeon, owl, crow etc. indicates that the concerned person will live for only six months. Those who see their shadow in opposite direction live for four or five months more only. Those who sight lightning without clouds or rainbow during the night time, in their dream live for two or three months more. Those who cannot see their reflection in ghee, oil, water and mirror die within a month. A person whose body smells like a cadaver die within fifteen days. Those whose hands and feet remain dry even after taking bath and dry even after taking light refreshments live only for ten days. Those who sight hair, cinders, ash, snakes and dried rivers in the dream, die on the eleventh day. Those who feel hungry even after eating to their fill also die soon.

 

Yoga means union with God. The state of yoga is impossible to attain without the blessings of Lord Shiva. It needs a concentrated and focussed mind. There are some specific spots in the human body concentrating upon which, enables a man to attain the state of yoga-spot between the eyebrows, lower part of the throat, navel and six inches above it etc.

The state of yoga can never be attained until and unless a person has fully controlled the tendencies of sense organs. It can be achieved with the help of eight means- Yama (penance), Niyam (discipline), Asan (posture), Pranayama (breath-control), Pratyahar (restraint of passion), Dharan (retention), Dhyan (concentration) and Samadhi (deep meditation). Each of them holds an important position in the path of yoga.

Describing about the methods of performing yoga, Suta says— A person should sit with his legs crossed in Padmasan and try to concentrate his mind by fixing his gaze between his eyebrows. He should keep his spine erect. He should meditate either on the form of Omkar or on the form of lord Shiva. Breath control is an important aspect of yogic exercise. A man should exhale deeply for 32 times and then breathe in deeply. He should then retain his breath as long as possible and visualize lord Shiva within his body. By constant practice he will achieve mastery over this art and a time will come when he will experience divine bliss. This divine bliss can not be experienced unless one has attained a deep state of meditation (Samadhi).

A man experiences numerous obstacles in the path of Yoga-laziness, restlessness confusion, a diseased body etc. The main reason for being lazy is a bulky physique and one’s inability to concentrate his mind. Lack of concentration results in restlessness, which is a major obstacle in the path of yoga. If a person in unsure about the results he becomes confused. It is impossible for a person suffering from any disease to concentrate his mind.

All the above mentioned hurdles can be overcome by firm resolution. A man who has successfully overcome all these obstacles might experience other obstacles in the form of siddhis (divine powers). There is a real danger of getting lured by these divine powers. As a result his mind may get distracted from his original goal and he may deviate from his path. The names of these siddhis or divine powers are-Pratibha (having knowledge of past present and future incident), Shravana (being capable of listening to abnormal sounds), Varta (whatever is said becomes true), Darshana (capable of seeing things which can mot be seen by the mortal eyes), Aswada (being capable of experiencing divine (tastes), Vedana (being capable of relieving other’s pain by a mere touch). If a person successfully overcomes all these allurements then he becomes a siddha- or man of accomplishment and divine powers.

 

The sages asked Suta as to how should a devotee meditate on Lord Triyambak following the path of Yoga. Suta then retold the tale which Mandishwar had once narrated to Sanatkumar–

The first type of Yoga is called Mantra Yoga. In this type of yoga a devotee tries to attain deep state of meditation by chanting mantras. The chanting of mantras helps a man to concentrate his mind.

The second type of Yoga is known as Sparsh Yoga. In this type of yoga, a man acquires perfection in breath-control by constantly practicing various exercises like Rechak (exhalation), Kumbhak (retention), etc. These exercises help to purify the nerves and blood vessels

The third type of yoga is known as Bhava Yoga. This is the state in which a person’s mind is totally engrossed in the thoughts of Lord Mahadeva. This state of mind can not be attained unless the two former types of yoga have been mastered.

The fourth type of Yoga is called Abhava-yoga. When a man has mastered this particular yoga his ego is subdued in totality

The fifth type of yoga is called Maha yoga. It helps a man to understand his real self and get united with the supreme Almighty. The secret of Yoga should be revealed to worthy disciples–who are virtuous and religious.”

This way, Suta described the divine tales of Linga Purana and blessed the sages. The Linga Purana contains eleven thousand shlokas in it. The study of Linga Purana fulfills all the four worldly aspirations of a man- Dharma, Artha, Kam and Moksha.It also helps a man to attain salvation.

 

Once, Sage Shaunak asked Sutji about the reasons behind man’s sorrow. Sutji told him that man’s ego and his attachments to this mortal world were the two most important causes for his sorrow and until he gets rid of them he will continue to suffer. Sutji said-‘ The ‘tree of ignorance’ sprouts from the seed of ‘egotism’ and it receives its nutrition from sensual pleasures. Only those who possess the ‘axe of knowledge’ are successful in felling this ‘tree of ignorance’ and experience the ecstasy of Divine bliss. Once a man has experienced this divine bliss he not only becomes free from all kinds of sorrow but is also freed from the cycles of birth, death and rebirth. This divine link which a man establishes with the Almighty is called ‘Mahayoga’ (the supreme Yoga). But, those unfortunate people who have not experienced this divine bliss continue to get trapped by the worldly illusions leading to their countless births and deaths.’

Sutji then went on to describe the means by which a man can have a pure heart and said-‘ Austerities like meditation, worship, fasts, oblations, charity, etc., certainly helps a man in getting rid of all kinds of impurities.’

 

Sutji told Sage Shaunak that the ultimate aim of a man’s life was to attain salvation. A man can not attain salvation until and unless he has seen through the trappings of the worldly illusions. Sutji said–‘Practice of Yoga helps a man to live in this world with a sense of detachment and to successfully avoid the allurements of this mortal world. Yoga comprises of six organs:

Pranayamaa (Breathing exercises), Japa (chanting), Pratyahara (restraining sense organs), Dharana (resolution), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (deep meditation).

Not running after sensual pleasures by having self control helps a man in diminishing his sins and diminishment of sins pleases the deities who give blessings. Blessings of deities help a man to attain salvation. Pranayama, an important part of Yoga is of two types-‘Garbha’ and ‘Agarbha’. Pranayama, done with simultaneous chanting of a mantra is called ‘Garbha’ whereas in ‘Agarbha’ Pranayama mantras are not chanted.

It is natural for a man to get attracted by worldly pleasures and checking this tendency of the mind is called ‘Pratyahara’. It is not easy to control the mind and concentrate on anything for a long time but ‘Dharana’ helps a man to do that. When a man has successfully controlled his sensual desires, then it becomes very easy for him to concentrate his mind. A concentrated mind finds it easy to meditate. When he has mastered meditation it is not much difficult for him to enter into the deep state of meditation i.e. ‘Samadhi’. In the state of ‘Samadhi’, all sense of dualism cease to exist as one establishes divine link with the Almighty, which helps him in experiencing indescribable divine bliss.

 

 

Shiva taught the world the technique of yoga. Yoga literally means union and is a form of meditation that teaches about the union between the individual human soul (atman) and the divine soul (paramatman). It is this knowledge that is strived for by those who meditate. And one who does not appreciate this union suffers from illusions. Yoga has five components. These are pranayama, dhyana, pratyahara, dharana and smarana.

Pranayama signifies control over the breath of life. A lion or an elephant is a wild animal. But if lions or elephants are caught and tamed, they can be made to serve man‘s purpose. Exactly similarly, when the breath of life is controlled and mastered, an individual can use it to serve his own will. Pranayama must always be practised in a proper posture (asana).

Pratyahara signifies the withdrawal of the senses from material attachments. The next step is dharana. One chooses the image that one is contemplating and fixes it in one‘s mind. In the process, it is best to concentrate on the tip of one‘s nose or at the centre of one‘s brows. When the image has been thus fixed, one can begin the actual process of meditation (dhyana). Yoga must however always be practised in a proper place and at a proper time. It must not be practised in the middle of the forest, near a fire, or at a place frequented by wild animals and insects. There must not be any noise to distract the practitioner. Nor must yoga be practised when one is hungry or thirsty, or in an unhappy state of mind. If these injuctions are not adhered to, yoga can bring great harm. It can lead to illness, dumbness, deafness, blindness and old age before the appointed time. But practised properly, yoga is a cure for various illnesses.

When one is practising yoga, there are various disturbances and distractions that impede the progress towards the desired goals. These are known as upasargas. For example, one might become overly attached to relations, to becoming wealthy or to attaining heaven. Noises are heard, although there are no real noises at all. Demons, gods and gandharvas are seen. All of these are illusions and have to be conquered. When the upasargas are successfully conquered, a practitioner of yoga attains various powers. These are known as aishvarya (wealth). There are eight of these powers. The first is known as anima. This enables the individual to obtain whatever object he desires from anywhere in the universe instantly. The second is known as laghima. This enables one to travel through the sky. The third power is prapti. By means of this, any object in the three worlds can be attained. The fourth power is called prakamya. This gives the individual the power to obtain all the wealth of the universe. The fifth power is called mahima. Through this power, one can be connected to any place or any object in the universe. The sixth power of ishitva gives one the capability to cause happiness or unhappiness anywhere in the three worlds. The seventh power is vashitva. This grants the power to control other living beings and all objects. The final power is known as kamavasayita. By means of this, the individual can travel freely at will. A person who attains these powers knows no birth, death, old age, illnesss, happiness or unhappiness. The senses mean nothing to him. Nor do material objects. His mind is fixed only on the brahman. Everything else is unreal.

 

 

 

 

O king! There are many more disastrous symptoms that indicate death. A Yogi must always be alert regarding these signs. Whenever a Yogi perceives the appearance of all or some of these disastrous symptoms, he must at once take to Yoga to minimise the effects.

Brahmagyana- A Yogi experiences extreme joy when he meditates while doing Yoga. Only then can he experience Brahma. Physical body is ephemeral; hence a true Yogi does not mourn over the loss of physical body nor is there any focus on it. Hence, a Yogi does not suffer the affliction of vanity. 

Alarka says- O Brahmin! By your blessings, my ignorance has ended. Now I will do everything so that ignorance does not grip me once again.

Then taking Dattatreya’s permission, Alarka went back to the king of Kashi and said- ‘O king! You have a desire for the kingdom, so take this kingdom and enjoy its luxuries yourself or give it to Subahu.’ The king of Kashi asked Alarka as to why he was renouncing the kingdom without fighting a war. He also tried to instigate Alarka by saying that his conduct did not suit the Kshatriyas. Alarka said- ‘Only Brahma is truth, all the other things are false. Now controlling my senses, I will attain perfection in Yoga.’

Subahu said- “O king! My younger brother Alarka had been so far indulging in luxuries despite having metaphysical knowledge. He was in fact experiencing miseries in his household. When the miseries cross all limits, only then renunciation arises in the mind, as is the case with Alarka. That was why I had taken your refuge. My job is finished now. So I am leaving to attain perfection in Yoga. O king, I regard those people who ignore their near and dear ones in their miseries as heartless.

Such people are degraded from their position of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha and are criticised everywhere.”

 The king of Kashi too returned to his kingdom. Alarka crowned his elder son as the new king and he began to practice Yoga in a forest. After many years of rigorous practice, Alarka attained salvation and his abode in Brahma loka.

 The Brahmin’s son said- “O father! Now you too must take refuge in Yoga in order to attain Brahma. I too will try to attain salvation.”

 

 

 

 

Yoga is the way to circumvent the miseries of life. True knowledge is that which informs one about the true nature of Brahman or Paramatman. The atman or jivatman is that which characterises an individual. Yoga means union, it is the union of the jivatman with the Paramatman. Yoga concentrates one’s mind on the Paramatman.

The first prerequisites of yoga is non-violence. A non-violent person is always righteous. The second requirement of yoga is truthfulness. The third prerequisite is celibacy. The fourth is controlling one’s senses and the last is the worship of god. One who practices yoga should not go around collecting material possessions. A piece of cloth, a covering against the cold, and a pair of sandals are possessions enough for him.

Before meditating on the true nature of the Paramatman, one has to seat oneself in a proper asana (posture). The piece of cloth on which one is to sit should be placed in a clean place. One sits on such a seat and tries to purify one’s atman by controlling one’s mind and senses through yoga. The head and the neck should be held straight up, motionless. The point of vision should be directed towards the tip of one’s nose. One should not look in any direction. The arms should lightly rest on the folded thighs and the right hand should be placed, palm upwards, on the left palm. Padmasana (lotus position) is one such recommended posture.

The breath of life (prana vayu) has to be controlled. This process of control is known as Pranayama. A finger is placed on the nose when the breath is being exhaled. The entire breath should be exhaled from the body. Since rechana means exhalation, this process of control is known as rechaka. When the breath is inhaled, the inhalation should be such that it fills the entire body. Since puraka literally means ‘that which fills’, this process of control is known as puraka. When the breath is neither being exhaled nor inhaled, one sits completely still like a kumbha (pot) and this is known as kumbhaka. Pranayama makes one healthy, swift, enthusiastic, strong and collected. Since the senses are controlled, one goes to heaven and avoids going to hell. Material pursuits are like the strong current of a river. The atman drowns in it.

Pranayama alone is not enough. It has to be supplemented with dhyana of japa (meditation and contemplation). One contemplates the true nature of the Paramatman. The body is like a chariot. The senses are its horses, the mind is the charioteer and Pranayama is the bridle. An individual who dies while performing dhyana is immediately assimilated with Vishnu.

Dhyana involve four different things, all of which must be in complete harmony. The first is the meditator, the second is the act of meditating, the third is the object that one is meditating upon and the fourth is the reason why one is performing the mediation. One does not have to; sit in a rigid posture for dhyana to be possible. It can be done while one is walking, sitting or even sleeping. The important aspect is to establish the object of one’s meditation in one’s heart.

There are different ways of establishing one’s concentration. As an object of meditation, one can meditate on three concentric circles which are black, red and white. In the center of the circles is a divine lotus. The lotus has eight petals. One thinks that detachment is the stem of the lotus and praying to Vishnu its stamen. Right in the center of the lotus is a pure spark of fire and that is the Paramatman. Alternatively, one can visualise the Paramatman in a blaze of light, in the center of the lotus. Dhyana is far far superior to any yajna that one might perform.

One particular form of deep and intense meditation is known as samadhi. The meditator is then completely still, as calm as the ocean. He loses all track of the outside world. He does not hear, smell, see or touch. His mind has no wishes and feels nothing. He is completely united with god. Such a meditator automatically gets to know all the knowledge that can be gleaned from the Vedas or the shastras. He can obtain all the material possessions that he wants, but he regards them all as no more important than a blade of grass.

Such a meditator attains supreme knowledge. If you look at various pots full of water, you will find that the same sky is reflected in them all. Supreme knowledge tells one that, exactly similarly, it is the same atman that is everywhere. It is the atman which is the same as the Paramatman, it is this atman that is in the water, in energy, in water, in the earth and in metals. The atman is everywhere.

 

 

Yoga literally, union or combination, is a technique of meditation that helps to bring about this sense of identity between the jivatman and the Paramatman. Yoga has eight components. The first is Pranayama. This means the control of one’s breath. The breath of life is known as prana and ayama means control. There are three parts to any Pranayama exercise. When the breath is being exhaled, that is known as rechaka; and the process of inhalation is known as puraka. When the breath is neither being inhaled nor exhaled, that is kumbhaka.

The second component of yoga is pratyahara. This connotes the control of one’s senses. Yoga must always be performed in a proper posture and this is the third component of asana. The fourth component is called yama. This means the practice of non-violence, truthfulness and pity. The fifth component is known as niyama. This encompasses worship, studying the Vedas, cleanliness and meditation.

Yoga has a sixth component named dhyana. In this process, one conjures up an image of the Paramatman and meditates continuously on it. The process of fixing this image in one’s heart is the seventh component, dharana. And the final component, samadhi, is a situation where the individual realizes the complete identity between the jivatman and the Paramatman.

Notice that none of the quotes above have anything to do with turning oneself into a pretzel or getting a workout. Surprised? Asana is a stable seat (not moving, Stirah = stable – still) of which it was meant and not different postures. How times have changed. Still think you are doing anything that is actually close to being considered yoga or maybe it is just ego and identification. 

“Perhaps at no other time have men been so knowing and yet so unaware, so burdened with purposes and yet so purposeless, so disillusioned and yet so completely the victims of illusion. This strange contradiction pervades our entire modern culture, our science and our philosophy, our literature and our art.

WM Urban

1929

So it is not just an era thing, this is how the West is.

What is Yoga as per Shiva Maha Purana

Shiva Knows Yoga

5.6.1 Classifications of Yoga

Describing about the various types of Yoga, Sutji told the sages that there were three types of Yoga – Gyan Yoga, Kriya Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. “Each of them is capable of giving salvation to a man. When the mind or intellect unites with the soul it is called Gyan Yoga. When the soul gets attached with external objects, it is called Kriya yoga. The unification of one’s whole being with goddess Bhagawati is called Bhakti Yoga. All these three yogas combinedly are capable of giving salvation to a man. A man becomes a devotee by his actions or Karmas.

Devotion or Bhakti helps a man to attain Gyana or knowledge. Gyan or Knowledge gives salvation. Yoga is the path through which a man can attain liberation whereas Kriya-yoga is the chief means to attain it.

5.6.2 Conduct of a Sanyasi

A Sanyasi should wake up early in the morning. After getting up he should remember his preceptor or Guru and then he should pray to express his gratitude towards his Guru. After that he should practice Pranayama and try to concentrate his mind on the six chakras present in his bodies. After the completion of Pranayama and concentration on the six chakras he should finish his daily routines. After applying ‘ashes’ on his body he should chant the sacred mantras and perform ‘tarpana’. Subsequently he should perform Aachaman and then practice Pranayama for three times. After that he should remember the sages or rishis. While going to do worship, he should maintain silence all along the way. He should do worship only after washing his feet and performing Aachaman.

5.6.3 Methods of Shiva Worship

A Sanyasi should paste the ground with cow dung and construct a quadrangular ‘Mandap’. He should then keep a broad leaf of Palm tree at its centre. He should then fence the area with coloured threads from all the four directions. After that he should draw a eight petalled flower in the centre of the Mandap, upon which he should draw a Shiva Yantra. At last he can commence his worship of the Sun god.

5.6.4 The Greatness of Pranaya Mantra

Sage Vamadev was a great devotee of lord Shiva from his birth. He never used to remain at a place for long. One day he had gone to a mountain peak named Kumar, which was situated towards the south of Sumeru Mountain. He met Kartikeya who revealed to him that Pranam Mantra directly signifies the almighty God. Kartikeya also told him that with the help of that mantra a person can attain lord Shiva – who liberates from all the bondage of life. Though, Vamadeva himself knew about the power of Pranav mantra yet he requested Kartikeya to shed some more light on it. Kartikeya told him that any one could have the proximity of lord Shiva, by the help of the means prescribed in the Shrutis and the Samritis. Regarding the methods of Shiva’s worship, Kartikeya told Vamadeva that though Sadashiva was one, yet he was known by various names like Maheshwar, Rudra, Brahma and Vishnu. Mahesh was created from the thousandth part of Sadashiva. The goddess of all illusions – Bhagawati dwells in the left side of Sadashiva, therefore he is the lord of all the actions of the universe. Sadashiva plays his desire acts by indulging in creation, nurturement and annihilation of this world.

5.6.5 Initiation of a Sanyasi

Vamadeva requested Kartikeya to enlighten his mind with that knowledge, without which a Sanyasi can never attain liberation. Kartikeya then told him about the methods how a Sanyasi should get initiation from his guru. A disciple should worship his guru in any of the following months – Shravan, Ashwin, Kartika, Agahana and Magha. He should then establish a Kalasha and worship it. He should again worship his guru considering him as the form of Shiva. The guru should then initiate him with the Shiva mantra. After getting the Mantra, the disciple should chant it considering himself as Shiva-Shivoham. After this the disciple should get his head tonsured. The barber who is supposed to shave off the hairs should be given pure clothes to wear. The barber should also wash his hands with mud and water. The instruments and apparatus, which he is supposed to use, should be made pure by the ‘Astra’ mantras. First of all the front portion of the head should be shaved off after that the back portion of the head should be shaved off. The disciple should then get his beards and moustache shaved off. After this the disciple should massage his body with mud and take bath by taking twelve dips in a pond. After taking his bath he should worship his Guru and meditate on lord Shiva.

5.6.6 Last Rites of an Ascetic (Sanyasi)

Kartikey told Sage Vamadev that an ascetic does not die but takes a Samadhi, therefore instead of being cremated he is buried. Therefore an ascetic must practice the art of Samadhi to perfection. If he has not yet perfected the art of Samadhi, then he should keep on practicing yoga till he attains mastery over the art of Samadhi. He should try to concentrate his mind on the Omkar mantra, which is eternal. If his body has become weak and feeble and incapable of doing physical exercises like Pranayama then he should indulge himself in Shiva remembrance. This way an ascetic can attain to heaven. After his death the rest of the ascetics should perform the rituals at his place of death for ten days. An alter should be constructed on the eleventh day. Five quadrangular mandals should be made facing towards the northern direction. In each of these mandas, deities like Deveshwari, Atiwahak etc. should be established first and then worshipped. The worship should be done as per the instruction of Guru by offering ‘Prasada’. This Prasada should be, given to a virgin girl or cow, later on. The articles used in the process of worship should be immersed in the river or pond. In this way, the Parvan shraddha ceremony of the deceased ascetic is accomplished. It is worth nothing that ‘Ekodishta’ Shraddh is not performed after an ascetic death.

After the completion of ‘Parvana Shraddha’ the ascetic should perform the Ekadashah Shraddha as per the instructions of their Guru. On the twelfth day, the ascetics should invite the brahmins, after getting up in the morning and taking their bath. These brahmins should be feeded. The ascetics should then take a vow to worship their Guru by holding a ‘Kusha’ grass in their hands. After that, they should wash the lotus feets of their Guru and worship him. Even the worship of Guru’s teacher should be done. After the worship is over, the Guru should get up by saying ‘Shubhamastu’- benediction to all. He should then sprinkle the purified rice by chanting mantras. At last donations should be made to the invited brahmins.

5.7.19 Classification of Yoga

Yoga means such actions, which after purifying all the human tendencies helps a man to unite with Shiva. Following are the five divisions of yoga-

1) Mantra Yoga,

2) Sparsha Yoga (union of touch),

3) Bhava Yoga (union by devotion),

4) Abhava yoga (Union without being emotionally attached),

5) Mahayoga (The great union).

Mantra yoga helps a man to understand the meaning of mantras and uniting with Shiva by the concentration of mind.

When Mantra yoga is perfected by the practice of Pranayama it is called ‘Sparshyoga’.

Bhavayoga means meditating and chanting without uttering a word.

Abhava yoga means such a union when the devotee contemplates on the final annihilation, without being emotionally attached with the world.

A man whose mind is preoccupied with the thoughts of Shiva is supposed to have attained the state of Mahayoga. A yogi can unite with Shiva after purifying his body with the help of Pranayama etc.

5.7.20 Hurdle in the Path of Yoga

There are possibilities of numerous hurdles being faced by a man who practices yoga like laziness, disease, carelessness, lack of concentration, confusion and sorrow etc. While practicing yoga, one must try to keep himself free from such demerits. After becoming liberated from these flaws a man can easily attain six types of accomplishment – talent (Pratibha), super power of hearing (Shravana), excellent conversational power and power of speech (Vrata), Divine sight (Darshana), Divine power of taste (Aswada), Divine power of touch (Vedana).

The capability of seeing things situated at distant places is called ‘Pratibha’.

The ability to listen without making any effort is called ‘Shravana’.

The ability to decipher the meaning of animal’s language is called ‘Vrata’.

Being able to see divine things without making any effort is called ‘Darshana’.

The power, which enables a man to know about the taste of a thing without actually tasting it, is called ‘Aswada’.

‘Vedana’ means the knowledge of all types of touch.

5.7.21 Shiva Yoga

A devotee can attain all types of accomplishment merely by having devotion towards lord Shiva and by meditating on him. In the beginning, a yogi should try to meditate on the form of Shiva (Saguna), but later on the switch over to Shiva’s formless (nirguna) quality. Meditating on nirguna form of Shiva is not easy. It can be mastered only by constant and steady practice, When mastered it bestows all kinds of accomplishment. Meditation combined with Pranayama gives four types of accomplishments peace (Shanti), tranquility (Prashanti), luster (Dipti) and boon (Prasada). A devotee can have a darshan of lord Shiva if he does meditation with non attachment.

What is Yoga as per Srimad Devi Bhagavatam

1. Himâlayâ said :– “O Mahes’varî! Now tell me the Yoga with all its Amgas (limbs) giving the knowledge of the Supreme Consciousness so that, I may realise my Self, when I practise according to those instructions.

2-10. S’rî Devî said :– “The Yoga does not exist in the Heavens; nor does it exist on earth or in the nether regions (Pâtâla). Those who are skilled in the Yogas say that the realisation of the identity between the Jivâtma and the Paramâtmâ is “Yoga.” O Sinless One! The enemies to this Yoga are six; and they are lust, anger, greed, ignorance, vanity and jealousy. The Yogis attain the Yoga when they become able to destroy these six enemies by practising the accompaniments to Yoga. Yama, Niyama, Âsana, Prânâyâma, Pratyâhâra, Dhâranâ, Dhyâna, and Samâdhi, these are the eight limbs of Yoga. Yama includes Ahimsâ (non-injuring; non- killing); truthfulness; Asteyam (non-stealing by mind or deed); Brahmacharya (continence); Dayâ (mercy to all beings); Uprightness; forgiveness, steadiness; eating frugally, restrictedly and cleanliness (external and internal). These are ten in number. Niyama includes also ten qualities :– (1) Tapasyâ (austerities and penances); (2) contentment; (3) Âstikya (faith in the God and the Vedas, Devas, Dharma and Adharma); (4) Charity (in good causes); worship of God; hearing the Siddhântas (established sayings) of the Vedas; Hrî or modesty (not to do any irreligious or blameable acts); S’raddhâ (faith to go do good works that are sanctioned); (9) Japam (uttering silently the mantrams, Gâyatrîs or sayings of Purânas) and (10) Homam (offering oblations daily to the Sacred Fire). There are five kinds of Asanas (Postures) that are commendable: Padmâsana, Svastikâsana, Bhadrâsana, Vajrâsana and Vîrâsana. Padmâsana consists in crossing the legs and placing the feet on the opposite thighs (the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh) and catching by the right hand brought round the back, the toes of the right foot and catching by the left hand brought round the back the toes of the left foot; sitting then straight and with ease. This is recommended by the Yogis (and by this one can raise oneself in the air).

 

11-20. Place the soles of the feet completely under the thighs, keep the body straight, and sit at ease. This is called the Svastikâsana. Bhadrâsana consists in placing well the two heels on the two sides of the two nerves of the testicle, near the anus and catching by the two hands the two heels at the lower part of the testicles and then sitting at ease. This is very much liked by the Yogis. Vajrâsana (diamond seat) consists in placing the feet on the two thighs respectively and placing the fingers below the thighs with the hands also there, and then sitting at ease. Vîrasana consists in sitting cross on the hams in placing the right foot under the right thigh and the left foot under the left thigh and sitting at ease with body straight.

Taking in the breath by the Idâ (the left nostril) so long as we count “Om” sixteen, retaining it in the Susumnâ so long as we count “Om” sixty-four times and then exhaling it slowly by the Pingalâ nâdi (the right nostril) as long as we count “Om” thirty-two times. (The first process is called Pûraka, the second is called Kumbhaka, and the third is called Rechaka). This is called one Prânâyâma by those versed in the Yogas. Thus one should go on again and again with his Prânâyâma. At the very beginning, try with the number twelve, i. e., as we count “Om” twelve times and then increase the number gradually to sixteen and so on. Prânâyâma is of two kinds :– Sagarbha and Vigarbha. It is called Sagarbha when Prânâyâma is performed with repeating the Ista Mantra and Japam and meditation. It is called Vigarbha Prânâyâma when “Om” is simply counted and no other Mantram. When this Prânâyâma is practised repeatedly, perspiration comes first when it is called of the lowest order; when the body begins to tremble, it is called middling; and when one rises up in the air, leaving the ground, it is called the best Prânâyâma. (Therefore one who practises Prânâyâma ought to continue it till he becomes able to rise in the air).

21-30. Now comes Pratyâhâra. The senses travel spontaneously towards their objects, as if they are without anyone to check. To curb them perforce and to make them turn backwards from those objects is called “Pratyâhâra,” To hold the Prâna Vâyu on toes, heels, knees, thighs, sacrum genital organs, navel, heart, neck, throat, the soft palate, nose, between the eyebrows, and on the top of the head, at these twelve places respectively is called the “Dhâranâ.” Concentrate the mind on the consciousness inside and then meditate the Ista Devatâ within the Jîvâtmâ. This is the Dhyâna. Samâdhi is identifying always the Jîvâtmâ and Paramâtmâ. Thus the sages say. (Samâdhi is of two kinds (1) Samprajñâta, or Savikalpaka and (2) Nirvikalpaka. When the ideas the Knower, Knowledge and the Thing Known, rernain separate in the consciousness and yet the mind feels the one Akhanda Sachchidânanda Brahma and his heart remains, there, that is called Samprajñâta Samâdhi; and when those three vanish away and the one Brahma remains, it is called Asamprajñâta Samâdhi). Thus I have described to you the Yoga with its eight limbs. O Mountain! This body composed of the five elements, and with Jîva endowed with the essence of the Sun, the Moon, and the Fire and Brahma in it as one and the same, is denominated by the term “Vis’va.” There are the 350,000 nâdis in this body of man; of these, the principal are ten. Out of the ten again, the three are most prominent. The foremost and first of these three is Susumnâ, of the nature of the Moon, Sun, and Fire, situated in the centre of the spinal cord (it extends from the sacral plexus below to the Brahmaradhra in the head at the top where it looks like a blown Dhustûra flower). On the left of this Susumnâ is the Idâ Nâdî, white and looking like Moon; this Nâdî is of the nature of Force, nectar-like. On the right side of the Susumnâ is the Pingalâ Nâdî of the nature of a male; it represents the Sun. The Susumnâ comprises the nature of the all the Tejas (fires) and it represents Fire.

31-41. The inmost of Susumnâ is Vichtrâ or Chitrinî Bhûlingam nâdî (of the form of a cobweb) in the middle of which resides the Ichchâ (will), Jñâna (knowledge) and Kriyâ (action) S’aktîs, and resplendent like the Millions of Suns. Above Him is situated Hrîm, the Mâyâ Vîja Harâtmâ with “Ha” and Chandravindu repesenting the Sound (Nâda). Above this is the Flame, Kula Kundalinî (the Serpent Fire) of a red colour, and as it were, intoxicated. Outside Her is the Âdhâra Lotus of a yellow colour having a dimension of four digits and Comprising the four letters “va”, “s’a”, “sa”, and “sa”. The Yogis meditate on this. In its centre is the hexagonal space (Pîtham). This is called the Mûlâdhâra for it is the base and it supports all the six lotuses. Above it is the Svâdhisthâna Chakra, fiery and emitting lustre like diamond and with six petals representing the six letters “ba”, “bha”, “ma”, “ya”, “ra”, “la”. The word “Sva” means “Parama Lingam” (superior Male Symbol). Therefore the sages call this “Svâdhisthân Chakram. Above it is situated the “Manipura Chakram” of the colour of lightning in clouds and very fiery; it comprises the ten Petals, comprising the 10 letters da, dha, na, ta, tha, da, dha, na, pa, pha. The lotus resembles a full blown pearl; hence it is “Manipadma.” Visnu dwells here. Meditation here leads to the sight of Visnu, Above it is “Anâhata” Padma with the twelve petals representing, the twelve letters Ka, Kha, Gha, m###, (cha), (chha), (Ja), (Jha,) Îya, ta, and tha. In the middle is Bânalingam, resplendent like the Sun. This lotus emits the sound S’abda Brabma, without being struck; therefore it is called the Anâhata Lotus. This is the source of joy. Here dwalls Rudra, the Highest Person.”

42-43. Above it is situated the Vis’uddha Chakra of the sixteen petals, comprising the sixteen letters a, â, i, î, u, û, ri, ri, li, lri, e, ai, o, ar, am, ah. This is of a smoky colour, highly lustrous, and is situated in the throat. The Jîvâtmâ sees the Paramâtmâ (the Highest Self) here and it is purified; hence it is called Vis’uddha. This wonderful lotus is termed Âkâs’a.

44-45. Above that is situated betwixt the eyebrows the exceedingly beautiful Ajñâ Chakra with two petals comprising the two letters “Ha,” and Ksa. The Self resides in this lotus. When persons are stationed here, they can see everything and know of the present, past and future. There one gets the commands from the Highest Deity (e. g. now this is for you to do and so on); therefore it is called the Ajñâ Chakra.

46-47. Above that is the Kailâs’a Chakra; over it is the Rodhinî Chikra. O One of good vows! Thus I have described to you all about the Âdhâra Chakras. The prominent Yogis say that above that again, is the Vindu Sthân, the seat of the Supreme Deity with thousand petals. O Best of Mountains! Thus I declare the best of the paths leading to Yoga.

48. Now hear what is the next thing to do. First by the “Pûraka”, Prânâyâma, fix the mind on the Mulâdhâra Lotus. Then contract and arouse the Kula Kundalinî S’aktî there, between the anus and the genital organs, by that Vâyu.

49. Pierce, then, the Lingams (the lustrous Svayambhu Âdi Lingam) in the several Chakras above-mentioned and transfer along with it the heart united with the S’akti to the Sahasrâra (the Thousand petalled Lotus). Then meditate the S’aktî united with S’ambhu there.

50-51. There is produced in the Vindu Chakra, out of the intercourse of S’iva and S’aktî, a kind of nectar-juice, resembling a sort of red-dye (lac). With that Nectar of Joy, the wise Yogis make the Mâyâ S’aktî, yielding successes in Yoga, drink; then pleasing all the Devas in the six Chakras with the offerings of that Nectar, the Yogi brings the S’aktî down again on the Mûlâdhâra Lotus.

52. Thus by daily practising this, all the above mantras will no doubt, be made to come to complete success.

53-54. And one will be free from this Samsâra, filled with old age and death, etc. O Lord of Mountains! I am the World Mother; My devotee will get all My qualities; there is no doubt in this. O Child! I have thus described to you the excellent Yoga, holding the Vâyu (Pavana Dhârana Yoga).

55. Now hear from Me the Dhârânâ Yoga. To fix thoroughly one’s heart on the Supremely Lustrous Force of Mine, pervading all the quarters, countries, and all time leads soon to the union of the Jîva and the Brahma.

56-58. If one does not quickly do this, owing to impurities of heart, then the Yogi ought to adopt what is called the “Avayava Yoga.” O Chief of Mountains! The Sâdhaka should fix his heart on my gentle hands, feet and other limbs one by one and try to conquer each of these places. Thereby his heart would be purified. Then he should fix that purified heart on My Whole Body.

59-62. The practiser must practise with Japam and Homam the Mantram till his mind be not dissolved in Me, My Consciousness. By the practice of meditating on the Mantra, the thing to be known (Brahma) is transformed into knowledge. Know this as certain, that the Mantra is futile without Yoga and the Yoga is futile without the Mantra. The Mantra and the Yoga are the two infallible means to realise Brahma. As the jar in a dark room is visible by a lamp, so this Jîvâtmâ, surrounded by Mâyâ is visible by means of Mantra to the Paramâtmâ (the Highest Self). O Best of Mountains! Thus I have described to you the Yogas with their Angas (limbs). You should receive instructions about them from the mouth of a Guru; else millions of S’âstras will never be able to give you a true realisation of the meanings of the yogas.

 

 

An ascetic: As per The Satapatha Brahmana

1. After having passed through the first three orders and annihilated passion, he must offer an oblation to Prajâpati, in which he bestows all his wealth (upon priests) as fee for the performance of the sacrifice, and enter the order of ascetics.

2. Having reposited the fires in his own mind, he must enter the village, in order to collect alms, (but never for any other purpose).

3. He must beg food at seven houses.

4. If he does not get food (at one house), he must not grieve.

5, He must not beg of another ascetic.

6. When the servants have had their meal, when the dishes have been removed, let him beg food consisting of the leavings.

7. He must receive the food in an earthen vessel, or in a wooden bowl, or in a vessel made of the bottle-gourd.

8. He must cleanse those vessels with water.

9. He must shun food obtained by humble salutation.

4. ‘This implies that he must not rejoice if he does get it, as Manu says.

10. He must live in an empty house.

11. Or (he must) live at the root of a tree.

12. He must not stay for more than one night in one village (except during the rainy season).

13. His only dress must be a small piece of cloth worn over the privities.

14. He must set down his feet purified by looking down.

15. He must drink water purified (by straining it) with a cloth.

16. He must utter speeches purified by truth.

17. He must perform acts purified by his mind.

18. He must neither wish for death nor for (a long) life.

19. He must bear abuse patiently.

20. He must treat no one with contempt.

21. He must not pronounce a benediction.

22. He must not salute any one reverentially.

[10. ‘Empty’ means ‘inhabited by no one else,’ and implies that the house in question should be situated in a dark place, difficult of access.

11. ‘The article vâ implies that he must live there alone.’

14, 15.  Reason of both these rules, ‘lest he should not kill some insect.’ Kullûka  gives the same reason for the second rule, but the looking down, according to him, is ordained in. order that be may not accidentally tread upon a hair or other impure substance.

17. The sense of this Sûtra is, that in doubtful cases he must act as his mind prompts him to do.

21. ‘The meaning is, that he must not utter a benediction when he has been reverentially saluted by any one. He must confine himself to saying, “O Nârâyana.” Others explain, that he must not utter a benediction in begging food.’

22. ‘The sense is, that he must not salute any one reverentially who has reverentially saluted him, nor return his greeting otherwise than by saying, “O Nârâyana.” Others explain, that he must not make an obeisance in begging food.’

23. Should one man chop his one arm with an axe, and another sprinkle his other arm with sandal, he must neither curse the one in his mind, nor bless the other.

24. He must constantly be intent upon stopping his breath, upon retention of the image formed in his mind, and upon meditation.

25. He must reflect upon the transitoriness of the passage through mundane existence;

26. And upon the impure nature of the body;

27. And upon the destruction of beauty by old age;

28. And upon the pain arising from diseases bodily, mental, or due to an excess (of the bile, &c.)

29. And upon (the pain arising from) the (five) naturally inherent (affections).

30. On his having to dwell in an embryo, covered with everlasting darkness;

[24. Passage of the Yogasâstra, which states that one Dhâranâ = three Prânâyâmas or stoppings or regulations of the breath). A passage of the Gâruda-purana states that one Dhâranâ = sixteen Prânâyâmas. I have taken the term dhâranâ in its ordinary acceptation of 'retention of an idea' with regard to an analogous passage of Yâgñavalkya]

28. According to Nand,, the particle ka is used to include other diseases, love, anxiety or wrath, caused by enemies, and other mental pangs.

29. They are, ignorance, egotism, love, wrath, and dread of temporal suffering ( according to Patañjali). The particle ka, is used in order to imply meditation upon the thousand births which man has to pass through, as stated by Yâgñavalkya]

31. And on (his having to dwell) between urine and fæces;

32. On his having to suffer, (as an embryo,) pain from the cold and hot. (food and drink, which his mother happens to have taken);

33, On the dreadful pain which he has to suffer, at the time of his birth, while the embryo is coming forth from the narrowness of the womb;

34. On his ignorance and his dependency upon his (parents and other) Gurus in childhood;

35. On the manifold anxieties arising from the study of the Veda (and from the other obligations of a student);

36. And (on the anxieties arising) in youth from not obtaining the objects of pleasure, and upon the abode in bell (ordained as punishment) for enjoying them, after they have been obtained unlawfully;

37. On the union with those whom we hate, and the separation from those whom we love;

38. On the fearful agonies of hell;

39. And (on the agonies) that have to be suffered in the passage of the soul through the bodies of animals (and of plants).

40. (And let him reflect thus that) there is no pleasure to be met with in this never-ceasing passage of the soul through mundane existence;

41. ‘(And that) even what is called pleasure, on account of the absence of pain, is of a transient nature;

42. (And that) he who is unable to enjoy such pleasures (from sickness or some such cause), or who is unable to procure them (from poverty), suffers severe pangs.

43. He must recognise this human frame to consist of seven elements. blood, flesh,

44. Those elements are, adeps, scrum of flesh, bone, marrow, and semen.

45. It is covered with skin.

46. And it has a nasty smell.

47. It is the receptacle of (the above-named) impure substances (adeps and the rest).

48. Though surrounded by a hundred pleasures, it is subject to change.

49. Though carefully supported (by elixirs and the like), it is subject to destruction.

50. It is the stay of carnal desire, wrath, greed, folly, pride, and selfishness.

51. It consists of earth, water, fire, air, and ether.

52. it is provided with bone, tubular vessels (carrying bile and phlegm through the body), tubes (conducting the vital airs), and sinews.

53. It is endowed with the quality of ragas (passion).

54. It is covered with six skins.

55. It is kept together by three hundred and sixty bones.

56. They are distributed (as follows):

57. The teeth together with their receptacles are sixty-four in number.

[46. The particle ka refers to the fact that the human body is defiled by the touch of impure objects.

48. ‘The meaning is that, though food and drink and other sensual enjoyments abound, they may cause pain as well as pleasure by producing phlegm.

51. ‘Earth,’ i.e. the flesh and bone, &c.; ‘water,’ i.e. the blood; ‘fire,’ i. e. the digestive faculty, the eyesight, ‘air,’ i. e. the five vital airs; ‘ether,’ i. e. the space enclosed by the airs, in the mouth, in the belly.

58. There are twenty nails.

59. There are as many bones to the hands and feet (one at the root of each finger and toe).

60. There are sixty joints to the fingers and toes.

61. There are two (bones) to the two heels.

62. There are four to the ankles.

63. There are four to the elbows.

64. There are two to the shanks.

65. There are two to the knees and two to the cheeks.

66. (There are two) to the thighs and (two) to the shoulders.

67. (There are two) to the lower part of the temples, (two) to the palate, and (two) to the hips.

68. There is one bone to the organs of generation.

69. The backbone consists of forty-five (bones).

70. The neck consists of fifteen (bones).

71. The collar-bone consists of one (bone on each side).

72. The jaw likewise.

73. There are two (bones) at its root.

74. There are two (bones) to the forehead, (two) to the eyes, and (two) to the cheeks.,

75. The nose has one bone, the nose-bone.

76. The ribs together with the joints called ‘arbuda,’ and with the joints called ‘sthânaka,’ consist of seventy-two (bones).

77. The breast contains seventeen bones.

[76. 'There are thirteen ribs to each flank, which makes in all twenty-six ribs. There are twenty joints to them in the breast, called "arbuda," and twenty-six joints in the back, called "sthânaka." which makes a total of seventy-two bones.']

78. There are two temporal bones.

79. The head has four skull-bones. Thus (the bones have been enumerated).

80. There are in this human frame seven hundred tubular vessels (carrying bile and phlegm through the body, or arteries).

81. Of sinews, there are nine hundred.

82. Of tubes (conducting the vital airs, or nerves), there are two hundred.

83. Of muscles, there are five hundred.

84. Of tubular vessels (or arteries), the branches of the smaller tubular vessels, there are twenty-nine Lakshas (two millions nine hundred thousand) and nine hundred and fifty-six.

85. Of hair-holes, of the hair of the beard and of the head, there are three hundred thousand.

86. Of sensitive parts of the body, there are one hundred and seven.

87. Of joints, there are two hundred.

89. Of (atoms of) hairs (of the body), there are fifty-four Kotis (or five hundred and forty millions) and sixty-seven Lakshas (making in all five hundred and forty-six millions and seven hundred thousand).

89. The navel, the principle of vital action (which dwells in the heart), the anus, semen, blood, the temples, the head, the throat, and the heart are the seats of the vital airs.

90. The two arms, the two legs, the belly, and the bead are the six limbs.

91. Adeps, marrow, the left lung, the navel, the right lung, the liver, the spleen, the small cavity of the heart, the kidneys, the bladder, the rectum, the stomach, the heart, the large cavity (intestine), the anus, the belly, and the two bowels in it (are the inner parts of the body).

92. The pupils of the eye, the eyelashes, the outer parts of the cars, the ears themselves, the tragus of each ear, the cheeks, the eyebrows, the temples, the gums, the lips, the cavities of the loins, the two groins, the scrotum, the two kidneys and breasts of females, which are composed of phlegm, the uvula, the hind parts, the arms, the shanks, the thighs, the fleshy parts of the shanks and thighs, the palate, the two bones (or muscles) at the upper end of the bladder, the chin, the soft palate, and the nape of the neck: these are the ‘places’ (of vital energy) in the body.

93. Sound, tangibility, form or colour, savour, and odour are the (five) objects of sense.

94. Nose, eye, skin, tongue, and ear are the (five) organs of perception.

95. Hands, feet, anus, parts of generation, and tongue are the (five) organs of action.

96. Mind, intellect, the individual Self, and the indiscrete’ are ‘that which exceeds the senses.’

97. This human frame, O Earth, is called ‘field.’ He who knows (how to enter and how to leave) it is denominated, by those conversant with the

[92. Others interpret akshikûte, 'the eyelashes,' by 'the joints between the eyes and the nose.' The use of the particle ka implies that the feet, hands, and other limbs mentioned in an analogous passage of Yâgñavalkya have also to be included in this enumeration.

96. Avyaktam, 'the indiscrete,' by pradhânam, 'the chief one.' Both terms are in the. Sânkhya system of philosophy synonyms of prakriti, 'that which evolves or produces everything else.'] subject, ‘the knower of the field’ (i.e. Self or Soul).

98. Know me, O illustrious one, to be the Self of all fields (whether born from the womb, or arisen from an egg, or from sweat, or from a germ or shoot). Those striving after final emancipation must constantly seek to understand the ‘field’ and to obtain a knowledge of the knower of the field.

Once again your being duped. Real ghee. It is NOT what you are buying in the store.

Ghee
With the growth of ayurveda, ghee is getting more and more popular these days. Lets look at ghee and milk and how it is made to see what “real” ghee is as well as learn bigger concepts of ayurveda.

In the “americanized” version of what is being called ayurveda, what they are calling ghee is only clarified butter. You take a stick of butter, throw it in a pan, cook out the water and the milk solids and wallah, you have what “they” are calling ghee. It is then found in the refrigerator in the dairy section at most whole foods and of lately there are three or so brands of it now available.

This is not ghee my friends. It is only clarified butter. Not at all the same thing. It will not have the same properties of ghee and will not have the effects on the body as it is missing essential qualities that are created in the correct process of making it. Real ghee is made with cultured butter, lets look at what is the difference and why.

Milk and qualities (gunas)
We need to start from the beginning of the process to realize the depth of why inherent properties of substances are and then why those qualities change. This is what real ayurveda is truly about.

Regular butter is usually made from cow milk. Cows milk is especially sweet (earth and water elements) so it is heavy and hard to digest. After digestion it creates a little moisture in the channels (srotas), the doshas, in the formation of tissues (dhatus) and also in the waste products of excretion (malas). Its energy (virya or over all potency of hot or cold) is cold. It mitigates diseases of vata and pitta.

Cows milk is further broken down into it’s traits dependent upon other factors. The color of the cow: Black cows milk is superior in qualities and mitigates vata. Yellow cows milk is mitigates pitta and vata. White cows milk is increasing to kapha and Red and varied colors cow’s milk mitigates vata.

The land a cow is raised in effects the qualities of the milk as well. A marshy land creates a cow’s milk that is harder to digest and is even more unctuous (oily and greasy). An arid and drier climate will produce a milk that is lighter and easier to digest in comparison and have less of those qualities of the marshy land raised cow’s milk.

The food a cow intakes will have an effect of the milk as well, obviously. Now we are starting to see the depth of the whole picture.

Other animals milk such as water buffalo, goat, deer, mare, camel, elephant and woman’s milk is all expounded upon in the ayurvedic texts, each with its own qualities then also the sub qualities like the examples used in the above paragraph and more delineation.

Other changes in qualities are the processes done to the milk ie. fresh from the utter that is warm or cold, raw milk vs cooking the milk and the varieties of cooking to the milk. Raw milk that is cold increases moisture inside the channels (srotas) and increases kapha (earth and water elements) as well as increases ama (undigested toxic morbid metabolic waste) in the system. Flash boiling the milk makes it easier to digest as well as mitigates kapha and vata whereas boiled and cooked milk mitigates pitta. When milk is over cooked or burned it is once again heavy for digestion.

Oh my, there is even more details. When the cow is milked has an effect on the milk as well. Milk drawn in the AM is heavier and harder for digestion whereas milk drawn in the PM is lighter and easier to digest.

The best milk is when it is warm straight from the utter of the cow and just incase you really wanted to know… woman’s milk is not cooked. :)

Yogurt and action (karma)
Real ghee is made from yogurt. Yogurt is sour and the sour taste is the earth and fire elements. The taste of sour has an oily and hot quality and has a post digestive effect on the tissues that creates more excretion and facilitates processes of the system. You can see this in the fire component of the elements and how fire is a transformative element. Sour is good for digestion, the heart, increases appetite and increases moistures in the system after digestion. As per its effects on the doshas (the humours or buffers of the system that go out of balance and create disease), it reduces vata (air and ether elements), raises pitta (fire and water elements) and raises kapha (water and earth elements). (more description of the doshas in another blog.) Yogurt itself is extremely nourishing to the body but has a thick slimy quality that can easily clog the system. Remember every thing is poison and everything is medicine dependent upon the knowledge of the person of the use of the substance. Even the most incredible medicine is poison when made/handled/consumed wrong.

Yogurt that is bought in the stores is extremely sour and old. The older the yogurt the more sour it gets. Fresh yogurt has a sweet taste to it and very unctuous in comparison and doesn’t taste anything like the store bought brands. Fresh yogurt has much different qualities and is the ideal yogurt to be using. The yogurt that sits in a refrigerator after being made becomes more sour everyday. This is the qualities changing with time. The refrigeration creates a cold quality that make the yogurt even more difficult to digest.

 

Buttermilk and action (karma)
Here is more the bigger picture concepts. By putting action into a substance you can change the traits of that substance but it will keep its base quality. We take yogurt and churn it with water. After churning for some time, the oil becomes thicker and finally clumps together in what we know as cultured butter. By the way, what we have done by churning the yogurt in water is create what is known as buttermilk or takra. (can be found on another post on this blog)

The action of the churning creates more lightness and heating qualities to the yogurt and adds the quality of astringent taste to the butter as well. Astringent taste has the elements of earth and air and adds a rough and dry quality. This is why takra has a constipating quality (grahi) or how it pulls the moisture out of the fecal matter and brings it together.

 

Cultured butter
Cultured butter is made from yogurt and has the qualities of the fermentation (fire). This action lightens up the butter and this is the process that defines what “ghee” is. The fire element creates a digestive quality to the butter. Fire is transformative and light in quality and this remains in the butter. This butter has a light taste, is more sour in taste and is so much better for digestion and easier to digest than regular butter. You can see how the qualities of the yogurt have now been introduced into the butter.

 

Making Ghee
Now that you have the understanding, here is the process:

Step 1: Making Yogurt from Cream:
This step is good to start the evening before you plan to make ghee. Start with fresh, organic cream.
Two or three pints of heavy whipping cream should make enough ghee for a family of three or four people for a week.
The first step is to heat the cream. Use a large pot, with high sides to prevent the cream from boiling over.
As soon as the cream boils, remove it from the heat to cool.
When it is luke-warm, or wrist-temperature (body temperature), add yogurt to the cream.
Put all of them in the oven to sit overnight. You can also use a large glass or metal bowl instead of small glasses, if you prefer.
Don’t turn the oven on, but turn the light on if it is an electric oven.
OR
Step 1.5: 2nd Version of getting the cream
In India, milk is not anything like what it is in America. There are not refrigerators everywhere. Think about this. So there for milk is generally very fresh. Either delivered to you in a metal container daily or bought in a small liter package first thing in the morning from the corner where the milk guy comes to sell at 5 AM. The milk is taken home and brought to a boil. It is then set aside or kept on a very low heat. Cream accumulates on the top after time. This cream is skimmed off and collected. It is placed with yogurt and left to culture. Then….
Step 2: Making Cultured Butter:
When you get up in the morning, remove the cream yogurt from the oven.
Put all the jars or your large bowl of yogurt cream in the refrigerator for one and a half to two hours. The temperature of the yogurt will make a difference when you are churning the butter.
If the temperature of the cream yogurt is too warm, the butter will be very soft and it can be difficult to separate the buttermilk from the butter.
If the temperature is too cold (if you leave it in the refrigerator for many hours) the fat molecules will be very solid and won’t stick to each other very well when you churn.
When the yogurt is at the ideal temperature, the churning should be complete in 5 to 10 minutes.
First the cream will whip, as you keep whipping, it will start turning a more yellow color. This is the butter starting to emerge.
At the end, the butter will separate completely from the buttermilk and will start sloshing around in the bowl.
When the butter and the buttermilk (takra) have completely separated, stop the mixer, clean the paddle and use a heavy duty wooden or other spatula to push the butter into a large mass.
or
Step 2.2 2nd Version of getting butter for ghee
This is actually the only real classical way of making ghee. When you make buttermilk or what is known as takra  on this blog, you skim off the butter that is made from the churning. This is then melted down following the rest of this article.

Step 3: Making Ghee:

Put the butter into a pot and heat on low heat until all the water has boiled off and the protein has fallen out of the oil to the bottom of the pan.
Slow heat is better than fast heat because the protein (or milk solids) tend to stick to the bottom of the pan and can easily burn.
The bubbling will change speed and change in the song of the bubbling. This is one indicator that it is done.
You will notice that the ghee is now clear (which is why it is called clarified butter). If you stick a spoon into the ghee, you can see the bottom of it clearly. The color should be a rich golden color.

Be careful at this stage because it is very easy to burn the ghee. Basically, all of the water has boiled off at this stage and the heat from the stove no longer is being used to evaporate the water (which takes a lot of energy) and maintains the temperature at 100° C or 212° F.

Once the water has all evaporated, the temperature begins to climb very rapidly because all of the heat from the burner goes to increase the temperature instead of evaporate the water.
Keep the stove on the lowest possible setting at this point and watch it like a hawk. Transfer the ghee to a non-toxic ceramic pot (you may need to let it cool a bit to avoid breaking the ceramic).
Use a clean cheesecloth (non-bleached, organic cotton is best) to filter the ghee from the milk solids.
Fresh ghee made with this method described here and prescribed by the shastras should be golden in color and deliciously nutty in aroma. There should not be a burned smell either. There is a variety of ghee due to how long it has been cooked. The best for consumption in general is the first stage of the cooked process where the solids have cooked out but not cooked or browned on the bottom of the pot.

A last note on qualities. Ghee is never refrigerated. It does not go bad unless the moisture is not completely cooked out of it. In fact, 100 year old ghee is extremely medicinal and touted in the texts for its usage. Ghee that is refrigerated takes on the qualities of the refrigerator. Cold, dry and heavy are the main qualities that are created by refrigeration. This remains in the substance refrigerated and does not cook out. For an example, take some ghee that you have freshly made, pour some of it into two jars. Place one in the refrigerator and the other leave at room temperature. After a day or two take the ghee out of the refrigerator and place it next to the other jar of ghee. Give it a week, then inspect them, taste them. The ghee that has been refrigerated has different qualities. It will remain more solid at the same temperatures, it will be harder for digestion and it will taste very different. Try this for yourself. This is the best way to learn, experientially. There is much much more to all of this as well, this is but the start.

Through this process of understanding what makes real ghee we have also seen a big part of real Ayurveda is……. qualities and actions. Ayurvedic dietetics is to be able to see what are the qualities and the actions of all substances and then the individual; who are they and what is their individual situation of health. This is why what is medicine to one is poison to another. This is also why ayurveda is much more detailed and beautiful than Vata, Pitta and Kapha diet plans.

I hope you have enjoyed this journey, hope it has left you at a much deeper and higher state of confusion which only means you are learning and growing. The process of learning the details is such a beautiful journey of insight. May patients be your virtue, May your ghee be golden and your digestion be strong.

 

References:
Bhavapraksha of Bhavamishra
Charaka Samhita

Whats the results of modern day yoga?

If we consider that hardly anything of what is called “modern yoga” or “western yoga” has anything to do with what is now being called traditional or classical yoga, the results are exactly as expected.

The list of so called yogis that violate their students in so many ways continues to grow with the the likes of Bikram Choudary.

If you haven’t been up on the latest about how many women he has raped…..

http://www.law360.com/articles/573088/sex-assault-suit-against-bikram-yoga-guru-goes-forward

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=bikram%20lawsuits

And he is a yogi right????

and then Shiva Rea and Gurmukh really have hit it off when they went to India…..

http://www.spiritvoyage.com/blog/index.php/shiva-rea-and-gurmukh-find-controversy-at-international-yoga-festival-rishikesh/

So what does it take to be a celeb yoga teacher?

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