What is yoga? pt 3

Today we hear about different kinds of Yoga styles, which in the west are not even any sort of yoga but just a form of western exercise place over a facade of spirituality or somehow your are a better person for doing a western exercise, physiology, and anatomy based exercise class. The predecessors to these western/modern day made styles were made popular by Vivekananda and other Yogis that traveled to the West. These styles were only known to be RajaYoga, HathaYoga, JnanaYoga, KarmaYoga, BhaktiYoga, LayaYoga, and KriyaYoga. And these too were all modern terms at that time. They were not known to ancient Yogis and if some of them occur at all in ancient texts their use is purely incidental and not indicative of a separate and exclusive technique. The standardized textbook on Yoga has been Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and it makes no mention of them. Nor does much of what is being taught or practiced today have much to do with what is in Yoga Sutras.

Certain aspects of the practice of Yoga have been elevated to the false dignity of separate sciences without discernment their interrelations. The object of the practice of Yoga as defined by Patanjali is  Citta-vritti-nirodha which automatically result in svarupe-avasthanam of the seer. The Ego having realised itself becomes established in its own true nature, when the cessation of that ceaseless flux of stages of consciousness is brought about. Any technique, any spiritual discipline, which aims at any other objective, is not Yoga, period.

Goraksha, any of the other Naths, Patanjali or any other of the ancient literature didn’t put forth any other objectives. The only aim of what they practised was Moksha, release from nescience, realisation by the Self of its true nature. They knew could come only by passing through the three highest stages of Yogic practice namely Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. These are purely higher (mental) stages and after all it is the mind that has to be controlled. But they realised the absolute correctness of  the procedure laid down by Patanjali. A healthy body is necessary, so is the control of the psychic and nervous currents and the emotions. Chasing after the modern world’s paradigm/living of money, fame, and the pleasures of the flesh are not conducive to concentration and energetic health and mental peace.

Everything classed by Patanjali under Asana are generally associated with by the modern term of what is thought to be Yoga, just exercise. The Nath Sect did not have yama and niyama, nor asana.

Neither Goraksha nor Patanjali believed that the practice of bodily contortions or the control of bodily functions was anything close to a final goal of Yoga nor were they under any delusion that those contortions of the body would produce any result of Samadhi and self realisation.



2 thoughts on “What is yoga? pt 3

  1. Great stuff. You mentioned Gorahknath, whom I’ve read a little bit about. From what I’ve read it’s based on Tantra, and the methods of yoga are different from Patanjali. What’s the difference between the “mental” yoga and tantric style with Kundalini up to the Sahasrara? Or say, Patanjali or Vedanta vs. Kashmiri Saivism?

    • great question. Too much to write about, could be a book.
      Bottom line about all of them is that hatha yoga or tantrik as well as vaishnava yoga if we were to call it like this can be in the container of patanjali and not the other way around. Patanjali and the eight limbs are vast spreading.
      While patanjali is a direct darshan the others are not.
      You could see the others connecting with patanjali on the level of seeing that the vessel needs to be purified to be the height of a temple for the divine.
      Just a quick answer, hopefully satisfying. I am sure someone has written a book or two on the differences and the paths but really it is all encompassed in Patanjali which is why it is looked at as the bible of yoga.

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