The real purpose of Yoga

Discussion in 'Yoga Forum' started by Ignorant, May 9, 2015.

  1. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    The real purpose of Yoga by Mataji devi
    Among the various Sanskrit words that have become extremely popular all over the world in the last century or so, we can certainly say that yoga is the most famous of all.
    Today there are innumerable yoga centers in all cities at global level, millions of yoga practitioners and thousands of teachers, both in India and abroad, who are very proficient and expert in asanas or bodily postures, and pranayama or breathing techniques.
    The market is flooded with thousands of books on yoga, and even yoga lessons on TV, DVDs and tapes, including "new forms of yoga" based on a mixture of the externals of asana and pranayama with modern dance, aerobics, and so on.
    Most of these teachers present yoga as a fitness program to lose weight or generally to get a healthier body, to socialize and be trendy, or even to get better sex.
    Meditation, if even it appears in the teaching program, is merely used as a stress-relief technique to support people in their artificial and unfulfilling lifestyle.
    But this is all very misleading. Yoga is not a form of entertainment, a sport, a gymnastic specialty, a fitness program, or a treatment for physical diseases.
    Of course yoga, and especially its angas known as asana and pranayama, can be used for such purposes, but that would be like using a valuable set of volumes of an authoritative and comprehensive encyclopedia merely as a tabletop to eat on or as a bedstead to sleep on. The purpose of Yoga asana is not to have an attractive-looking body or to twist up like a human pretzel for the entertainment of others, and the purpose of Yoga pranayama is not to speed up our metabolism so that we can eat more greasy foods without getting a big belly or a fat body.
    Quite the contrary: traditionally Yoga is expected to take the sadhaka, the practitioner, further away from bodily identification and attachment to sense gratification, and ultimately to reduce breathing and metabolism to such a low level that the sadhaka does not even need air or food at all, as we can easily see in so many examples of great yogis of the past.

    The word yoga literally means ‘union’. It is derived from the root yuj, meaning ‘uniting, connecting, controlling, disciplining’ just like horses or oxen are yoked to a cart to pull it. In this sense, yoga has the same primary meaning of the English word "religion", that comes from the Latin re-ligare, or “connecting, uniting” the human being to God.
    The concept of yoga, however, is wider than the concept of religion, as it also applies to different levels of identification such as body/willpower, senses/mind, mind/intelligence, intelligence/spiritual self, lower self/higher self, individual self/supreme self, where the lower self must be disciplined, controlled, and used by the higher reality in a progressive path.
    Yoga includes the knowledge of the material body and nature, the fields of science that Western terms comprise physics, electro-magnetism, biology, neurology, psychology, medicine, and similar branches of knowledge. Furthermore, the science of Yoga includes aspects that Western science is only now starting to investigate seriously, such as cymetics (or the science of vibrations and their effects especially on water), biomagnetism, the connection between the living beings and the environment, and many others.

    Although expressed in terms that traditionally belong to the Vedic culture, such as chakra, nadi, prana etc, the technical knowledge of Yoga is deeply scientific and enables its students to act on the structure of matter in amazing ways, completely controlling breathing, heartbeat, metabolism, body temperature, hormonal regulation, and in some cases even the aggregation of atoms as for example in the bilocation of one’s body, levitation, and other wonders that generally appear as miraculous.
    But controlling the body is not the highest purpose of yoga: in fact, the control of the body is just a first step on the way to achieve control over the mind and its amazing powers, including the phenomena that Western science usually considers as “parapsychology”, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis, distance healing, and so on.
    Yoga can also be considered the Vedic science of dynamic integrative psychology as it unites the various levels of consciousness – called the waking state, dreams and dreamless sleep, or conscious, subconscious and super-conscious.
    This integration heals all inner conflicts and when the inner conflicts are healed, the external conflicts can also be solved peacefully and to the best advantage of all concerned.

    Sometimes people believe that they are different paths of yoga, in competition or even in opposition to each other. But this is not a fact. True yoga is never divisive.
    The different practices of yoga should be integrated together according to the specific evolutionary journey of the individual being: for example, karma yoga is the science of selfless action, buddhi yoga is the science of intelligence and awareness, jnana yoga is the search for philosophical and scientific knowledge, sankhya yoga is the logical and analytical search for truth, bhakti yoga is the science of love and devotion to the Supreme and hatha yoga is the science of proper utilization of the material body and senses for the realization of the transcendental knowledge and consciousness.
    All these branches of yoga are complementary and are based on the same principles and on the same necessary steps (called asta angas):
    1. yama (abstentions),
    2. niyama (prescriptions),
    3. asana (control of the body),
    4. pranayama (control of breathing),
    5. pratyahara (withdrawing the senses from the sense objects),
    6. dharana (concentration of the mind),
    7. dhyana (active meditation), and
    8. samadhi (constant absorption, where ignorance and illusion are completely vanquished).

    To attain this perfection of yoga one needs the proper guidance from a sadhaka who has already attained that level. A Guru has the duty to guide each disciple personally on the progressive path of liberation, training him in all the principles of religion from the simplest - truthfulness - to the highest - austerity - and he must transmit the proper knowledge through his genuine realization and example.

    The discipline applied by the Guru in the training of the disciple is based on the rules called yama and niyama.
    Yama consists of ahimsa or non violence, satya or truthfulness, asteya or honesty, brahmacharya or purely spiritual attitude in relationships, aparigraha or detachment. Niyama consists of saucha or cleanliness, santosha or contentment, tapas or self-control, svadhyaya or study of spiritual knowledge, and isvara pranidhana or dedication to God. These are the preliminary steps in Yoga. If someone claims to be practicing Yoga but does not observe these basic requirements of abstentions and prescriptions, he is deluded and he is cheating himself and the public.



    YAMA

    Ahimsa
    The literal meaning of ahimsa is "absence of hatred". Non violence is a general rendition, but it is important to understand the wider meaning. Hostility and hatred cause more harm in the hater than in the hated, because negative feelings disrupt the flow of prana, disperse energy and concentration and create bad influences and karma. On the other hand, abstaining from cruelty and violence creates good karma, accumulate good energy, creates peaceful situation in the mind and senses, and attracts good people and events in our lives.
    Baudhika ahimsa (non violence of the intellect) means training oneself to consider all living entities with benevolence, like brothers and sisters, and to avoid confrontation as much as possible.
    Vacika ahimsa (non violence of speech) means abstaining from insulting and giving bad advice to others, while instead practicing soft and kind speech, and loving expressions. It also means avoiding offensive expressions and remarks, mocking, jeering, picking at someone or creating suffering to others in any way through one's words.
    Saririk ahimsa (non violence of body) is obviously abstaining from hurting, beating or killing any living entity, including animals and plants. Of course, in this world it is practically impossible to completely avoid all violence to other living entities (even by walking we may crush little insects, or by eating vegetables we have to cut plants) but all our actions should be trained in compassion, awareness and friendship to all living entities. We must anticipate all the consequences of our actions so that we can evaluate if they should be performed or not. Also allowing violence to go on unchecked is a form of violence. In this case, using force to stop violence is the correct course of action, especially when violence is directed towards innocent and helpless living entities, people or animals or plants.

    Satya
    Truthfulness is a basic principle for anyone who wishes to progress in life. Consistency in precept and behavior is the main and most fundamental aspect of truthfulness.
    Baudhika satya (truthfulness of the intellect) means being honest with oneself, and searching true knowledge and reality.
    Vacika satya (truthfulness of speech) obviously means abstaining from telling lies and things which can harm other people. Another important aspect of truthfulness is keeping promises and vows in spite of personal difficulties.
    Saririk satya (truthfulness of body) means truthfulness in action, acting out our realizations, distributing real knowledge and helping other people to progress in life and self-realization. It also means abstaining from manipulating others and creating difficult situations for others.

    Contd
     
  2. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    Asteya
    "Non stealing" does not simply mean abstaining from stealing money from someone else's pockets or his car or bicycle.
    Baudhika asteya (honesty of the intellect) means not entertaining and not approving a cheating mentality and values based on exploitation of others, of nature and of knowledge. Bluffing, carving out excessive profit from business, making money without working, gambling, borrowing things or money without giving them back, avoiding to pay one's dues, are all symptoms of a cheating mentality.
    Vacika asteya (honesty of speech) means abstaining from getting the credit for things we did not do. It also means abstaining from diminishing other people's dignity, merits, happiness, glory or heritage, out of some selfish consideration of personal gain.
    Saririk asteya (honesty of body) means abstaining from misappropriating valuables or possessions, or taking things which do not belong to us and for which we did not work, including natural resources of the world that belong to everyone. It also means maintaining one's needs to a healthy minimum without amassing excessive money or goods we do not need for our decent maintenance.

    Brahmacarya
    The meaning of brahmacarya is something more than simply controlling or abstaining from sex life. It means acting on the level of Brahman, the position of transcendental spiritual realization, where all living entities are seen equally as eternal spirit souls, and we understand that their bodies are simply an outer temporary covering. Brahmacarya means being able to see persons instead of men or women.
    Baudhika brahmacarya (celibacy of the intellect) is a way of thinking and seeing people, considering them and treating them according to the transcendental Brahman realization. A person who is situated on the level of Brahman realization also understands that matter (including bodies) is a product of Brahman, energy of the Supreme Lord and therefore sacred. The Lord resides in the heart of all living entities, and this makes every body a temple of the Divine.
    Vacika brahmacarya (celibacy of speech) means abstaining from vulgar or sexual expressions, sexual stories, allusive remarks etc.
    Success in saririk brahmacarya (celibacy of body) and control of sexual energy and desire is helped by avoiding to eat foods prepared or cooked by people who are engrossed in sex life or negative thinking or behavior, avoiding rajasic or tamasic foods (i.e. spices, excess sugar, stimulants, onion, garlic etc) avoiding the company of materialistic people, bathing regularly, wearing clean clothes, and practicing some specific yoga asana, pranayama and bandha exercises.

    Aparigraha
    Simplicity means freedom from greed and avarice. It also means detachment from material pleasure and possessions.
    Baudhika aparigraha (simplicity of the intellect) entails considering the priorities in one's life, and understanding that the limited time allotted to each of us must be used in the best way to ensure real happiness. Sense gratification and possession of material objects are not able to give real happiness, rather one always wants more and more, because the satisfaction is only temporary and incomplete.
    Simplicity of the intellect also means renouncing the pride for becoming a great personality -- a great yogi, a great scholar, a great religionist etc.
    Vacika aparigraha (simplicity of speech) mainly is avoiding unnecessary talking (prajalpa), gossiping, criticizing, or expecting glorification of oneself and one's work. The practice of Silent Meditation is very helpful in this regard.
    Saririk aparigraha (simplicity of body) means avoiding excesses in bodily needs -- extravagant and costly clothing, foods, life habits etc. Every individual has specific needs regarding food, clothing, housing etc, but we should always be careful not to try to accumulate more than what we actually need


    NIYAMA

    Sauca
    The first of the practices in a yogic lifestyle is cleanliness -- which is said to be next to godliness.
    Baudhika sauca (cleanliness of the intellect) is internal cleanliness, showing in our way of life, aspirations, interests and values. It means always trying to purify one's life, mind and intentions.
    Vacika sauca (cleanliness of speech) means speaking truthfully and simply, and also purifying the voice through practices like loud singing, chanting of hymns and prayers, and pranayama.
    Saririk sauca (cleanliness of body) obviously means bathing regularly, brushing teeth and hair, keeping all our personal items clean and neat, regularly washing clothes, shoes, bedding, rooms, articles etc. External cleanliness can be helped by specific preparations and applications, like clay, triphala, ubtan, etc.
    Keeping hair and nail trimmed and clean, shaving regularly, removing unwanted hair are also parts of the cleanliness practice. Also keeping our residence or quarters or working places clean and purified by air and light, and avoiding bad habits like unnecessarily putting objects and fingers in the mouth, throwing garbage, spitting everywhere, etc.
    Internally speaking, cleanliness means eating clean food and periodically cleansing the system in various ways, starting from fasting and detoxification, and sometimes including the famous six kriyas (cleaning the stomach, the intestine, the nose and sinus, the eyes, the head etc)

    Santosa
    Baudhika santosa (satisfaction of the intellect) means accepting God's will in a positive way, by searching the positive aspects of all events and trusting the goodness and love of the universe. It means being open to changes and to remain in the same situation with patience and gratefulness, being ready to give up what is not necessary or suitable for progress in life, and considering with detachment profit and loss, honor and dishonor, success or failure, etc, as recommended in Bhagavad Gita.
    Vacika santosa (satisfaction of speech) is also connected with simplicity of speech and with cleanliness of speech, but specifically means cultivating the habit of just saying what is essential, and avoiding controversies. This is helped by the practice of trying to see things from different perspectives, i.e. putting oneself in someone else's place and observing facts and situation from their perspective.
    Saririk santosa (satisfaction of body) means actually enjoying what has been allotted to us by the grace of God, appreciating it and being grateful for all our blessings.

    Tapas
    Austerity or discipline means being able to tolerate hunger, thirst, heat, cold and other difficulties we all have to face in life, without losing our patience.
    Baudhika tapas (austerity of the intellect) means developing the courage and strength to face life and its difficulties, by continuing to behave in a proper way according to truthfulness. It also means practicing meditation and executing one's duties with patience, determination and enthusiasm. Whenever we fall, we should stand up and resume walking, whenever we fail, we should summon courage and strength and try again. On the contrary those austerities which are motivated by pride and egotism, not recommended by the Scriptures and intended to please one's lust and attachment, by torturing the body and the material elements (17.5-6) are demoniac and false austerities.
    Bhagavad Gita (17.16) also recommends as austerity the regular effort of developing peacefulness, simplicity, gravity, self control and purification of one's existence.
    Vacika tapas (austerity of speech) is described in Gita (17.15) as practicing truthfulness, speaking in pleasing way, speaking for the benefit of people, regular recitation of vedic knowledge and hymns; it also means the practice of silence and simplicity of speech.
    Saririk tapas (austerity of body) is described in Gita (17.14) as worship of the Supreme, of the brahmanas, the teachers and elders, and the constant effort to maintain cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy and nonviolence.

    Svadhyaya
    Studying the scriptures (both sruti and smriti) and the transcendental knowledge received from the teachers is necessary in order to improve one's understanding and efficiency in development of human potential and to understand the real purpose of yoga. Although it is not necessary to study a great number of books, one should make a sincere effort to understand scriptural knowledge and verify one's personal realizations and the realizations of other people by comparing them with the teachings of the sastra.
    Baudhika svadhyaya (cultivation of the intellect) means developing a mental attitude of learning and study.
    Vacika svadhyaya (cultivation of speech) means reciting one's lessons, mantras, hymns, writing and commenting on sacred texts, translating and preparing summary studies, articles and study guides.
    Saririk svadhyaya (cultivation of body) entails taking proper care of one's books and papers, and physically practicing study, with exercises according to the need.

    Isvara-pranidhana
    It means dedicating all one's energies and life to the service of the Divine. The ultimate purpose of yoga and meditation is actually reaching the platform of transcendental union with the Supreme Self. This does not mean that we have to give up our jobs, families and normal activities, but simply that we can relate everyone and everything in our life to the transcendental and Divine presence and love.
    This part of the foundation of yoga and meditation is connected with the section Devotional Meditation, Samadhi, etc. Baudhika isvara-pranidhana is the devotion of the intellect, or general divine contemplation of life, vacika isvara-pranidhana is devotion of speech and glorification of the Supreme, saririk isvara-pranidhana is the devotion of body and therefore action in the transcendental service.
     
  3. ajay00

    ajay00 New Member

    Hi,

    Thank you for this informative thread. :)

    May I ask if Mataji devi stands for Nirmala Devi !

    Thanking you,

    Ajay
     
  4. Madhumita Patro

    Madhumita Patro New Member

    The real purpose of Yoga is union of the individual self with the Supreme Self in a loving, harmonious relationship. The aim of the different yoga processes is to ultimately help the individual achieve complete harmony.
     

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