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About Yoga

Nobody knows when exactly our world came into the existence and more so when human life was evolved on the earth. Before creation of the world and life on it God and Nature must have existed. This can better be understood by assuming total destruction of life on our planet and then what will remain would be the Nature alone and the Force of activities therein could be considered as God. So now we go back to the time when life was evolved on the earth and subsequently the human beings. The man must have lived like wild beasts without any words, language or code of conduct. Human life is uniquely gifted with mind (brain), intellegence & ego etc. through which he could, after long interaction with nature and circumstances, learn and realise his own potentials. Thus over a very long period of generations of many stages the civilizations of various kinds were evolved.

Before the development of civilization man was the part and parcel of nature. They used to undergo the natural processes without any awareness, resistance or desires. The death and birth carried no specific meanings for them but through observations, feelings and thinking with repetitions of various activities they began to realize the differences between death and birth, joys and sorrows, pains and happinesses, and so on.

As the man seperated from the Nature he fell prey to the polarities of joys and sorrows, good and bad, permanent and transient. The basic factor responsible for his separation from nature was his own quest and desire for devising conveniences and comforts. Since man was able to observe, feel and review his actions, simultaneous a class of people namely sages, saints and rishies were busy searching the ways to safeguard human beings from the miseries of life.

Maharishi Patanjali evolved eight fold code of conduct which has later been known as Astang Yoga. Yoga is nothing but the science of total human life Now we must know what is the human life.

Before Maharishi Patanjali’s work the work of “Veda” was completed which is the real treasure of knowledge. The four Vedas cover the entire aspect of human life. As the knowledge without action will never yield the fruits of happiness which is the prime objective of man’s every activity and action.
In Veda’s all kinds of knowledge is stored but for the common masses the code of conduct in concise form is needed. Here came the need and time for a code of conduct for happy human life. This code of conduct was designed by Maharishi Patanjali.

Now, the human life according to Vedantic Philosphy is constituted with twenty five components. The basic elements like earth, water, fire, air and ether are called as Panch Mahabhootas. Then the five counter parts or the qualities associated with these Mahabhootas are sound, taste, smell, form, touch. These are joined with five organs of actions viz hands, legs, mouth, excretory, genitals and five organs of feeling (senses) Nose, eyes, tongue, ear and the skin. For co-ordinated functions of the human body Mind, Intellect and lgo are also involved. Nature is one prime factor in merging of all the above twenty four factors in a systematic manner and even after this life is not there, because for activities motivational-force is needed which is called the param Purusha or the Ishwara the Almighty God which is ever-pervading force. Thus these twenty five constituents when combined together constitute the human life.

In this unique entity the following systems function in a coordinated manner:-

(1) Digestive System.
(2) Respiratory System.
(3) Circulatory System.
(4) Reproductive System.
(5) Excretory System.
(6) Nervous System.

For perfect health one must have all the above six systems perfectly in order. This ideal condition is met with only when one abides and observes certain principles of life and way of life. This ideal health condition is an imaginary concept as there are many external factors which compel the human beings to moderate and modify their life style according to the circumstances and their own tastes and tendencies. So now the question is how to fulfill the objectives of life to the fullest extent with happiest state of mind. The objectives of life are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.

Dharma is the total science of duty or right action. In a particular set of circumstances one has to act in such a manner that his action bears optimum fruits. It is Dharma which upholds, sustains supports and guides mankind to lead and live a higher life irrespective of caste etc. So Dharma is nothing but action or work performed rightly. Any work is done with some physical component for us it is the body. Our body is nothing but an unique instrument given to us to experiment and experience. Through our body only we taste the pain and pleasure. For perfect performance of any job the instrument must be adequately in order. Here comes the importance of our body with all its systems and not merely the physique. The scriptures and texts of vedic philosophy are very rich in respect of providing and guiding us proper following of the Dharma. So one must acquire perfect knowledge by through study and understanding of Dharma and acquiring perfect knowledge thereof. As knowledge without action is useless we must also know its practical implications. Nowadays people want everything in capsule form which is just not possible, no one wants to devote for studies of vedas, scriptures and texts which our great galaxy of Acharyas’ have provided through their work for the noblest welfare of the mankind. For everyone it is not possible to experiment, research and establish the principles to follow, as the life span is very short. So we have to accept and understand with utmost devotion and dedication what our great Rishies and Acharyas have already established. Thus we need external assistance for learning Dharma. The agency through which we learn is called Guru. “Gu” means darkness and “ru” means elimination. In a dark room a hanging rope bears the concept of snake for you and it may frighten you to the extent weeping and crying but when you get the light on, you are enabled to feel and realise the reality of fects that it is a rope and not the snake. Your fear is gone with the addition of knowledge of rope in presence of light.

Artha, If you are doing some action it will result in some outcome. Most of the time man’s actions are directed for achieving some materials. The material outcome of Dharma is Artha. Artha is acquisition of wealth and all sorts of materials for independence and higher pursuits in life. Human physique is also a knid of material and for its support many other materials are needed which all come under the general category of Artha.

Kama means the pleasures of life, which depend largely on the healthy body. This unique apparatus is given to you to taste pleasures and pains of the life. For accurate performance of any apparatus, it must be in order. Thus for efficient tasting of pains and pleasures our physique must be in order. Thus comes the need of healthy body, mind and soul.

Moksha – Liberation of individual spirit from the bonds of body and its merger with the universal spirit is known as Moksha. This process is death for those who merely recognize themselves by the physique but for those who recognize themselves by the soul it is the noble process of liberation or Moksha. The materials die and the life force separates to pervade in the universe. The human life cycle is thus completed. Like end of the zero is the beginning of the zero. this cycle continues through births, deaths and rebirths till such an stage when the individual spirit determines to free itself from the revolutions of births and deaths and tries to merge with the universal spirit finally.

Thus for the welfare of mankind Maharishi Patanjali gave the eight limbed code of conduct which is yoga. The eight limbs are-

YAMA, NIYAMA, ASANAS, PRANAYAMA, PRATYAHARA, DHARNA, DHYANA, SAMADHI.

YAMA-These are universal moral commandments. The class, time and place have no these great rows (Mahavratas). These are non-violence, truth, non-stealing continence (celibacy) and non-covetousness.

NIYAMA- These are rules for self purification. The purity is of two kinds internal and external, and both must be cultivated. Niyamas are five namely Purity, Contentment, Austerity, Study of Scriptures and Surrender to the Lord of all actions. Thus the Niyamas are the virtues which calm the disturbed mind, leading towards peace within and around.

ASANAS- Asanas are postural performances for commanding over our organs and gross body. Asanas purify the body and mind and have preventive and curative effects. The rishies and great acharyas knew that though the body wears out, it serves as an instrument to attain realisation and as such it has to be kept in good condition.

PRANAYAMA- Our body takes life energy from air, water, food and a few more ninety percent life force is derived from the air we breathe. For breathing our respiratory system is solely responsible. In order to increase our life span we must know correct breathing technique and must adopt it. By mastering Pranayama we use of our system in an optimum manner so much so that with least wear and tear our system takes maximum life force and sustains itself for much longer time. Thus Pranayama is an art of breathing and increasing life span.

PRATYAHARA- As explained earlier our MIND has great role in deciding our total personality or individuality. Mind is associated with the individual spirit and simultaneous it has bonds with the senses. Now if it starts gratifying our senses the individual falls in the miseries of the world and most of the time he is busy satisfying his desires which are never ending. So for eternal joys. MIND must be associated with the soul. The practice, through which we withdraw our minds from the senses and direct it to the soul, is called Pratyahara. The duality is to be finished.

DHARNA- DHYANA – SAMADHI – After the practice of Pratyahara the senses are brought under complete control and they arequietened (not suppressed). The aspirant has generated divinity within him. In Dharna the aspirant focuses his total attention in what he is doing. Through this inner awareness is generated and worldly bonds are loosened. And when Dharna is continued for longer time it becomes Dhyana. The joy and peace felt in Dhyana are beyond description as they are the part of experience and it can not be exactly represented by words.
Samadhi is nothing but uninterrupted Dhyana over a very long period where yogi loses consciousness of himself.

Here if we can imagine that how the aspirant has become perfect yogi by mastering each step of yoga starting from Yama-Niyama to Dharna Dhyana Samadhi we will realize it is work of whole life with utmost devotion and total dedication and not mere ambition or wish.

Thus yoga is the noblest way to a truly happy life which is universally applicable to each and every human beings but we walk on this road our-selves. We must love and adopt yoga for realising and getting eternal happiness and not for mere selfish gain of health or getting rid some ailments.

  • Yama Niyama Asana Pranayama are collectively known as “Karma-Yoga” or the yoga of action. Through this Karma-Yoga our body and mind become healthy and fit to perform the duty.

  • Pratyahara and Dharna collectively named as the “Jnana Yoga” or the yoga of knowledge. By mastering this our consciousness is under control and gets a direction.

  • Dhyana and Samadhi form the yoga of devotion and named the “Bhakti Yoga“. Through this the Sadhaka merges his body, mind and intelligence in the ocean of self.