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Old 07-20-2008, 01:14 PM
 
Location: The world, where will fate take me this time?
3,162 posts, read 10,299,768 times
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A lot of people has heard about Yoga in one way or another, but has really no idea of what Yoga means.

For many people Yoga is just a method for health and fitness but it goes much deeper than that.

That's why I thought it'd be nice to write a comprehensive explanation of what Yoga really is.

"Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodha"

Yoga is the supression of the perturbations in the mind
Patanjali

Yoga is an spiritual path aimed at achieving the union with the Supreme Consciousness. (Samadhi)

It is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, "to control", "to yoke", or "to unite" in the context of Hindu philosophy, is one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of thought.

Let's take a brief glance into these schools of Hindu phillosophy to see how Yoga originated.

In the history of the Indian subcontinent, following the establishment of Vedic culture, the development of philosophical and religious thought over a period of two millennia gave rise to what came to be called the six schools of astika, or orthodox, Indian philosophy or Hindu philosophy. These schools have come to be synonymous with the greater religion of Hinduism, which was a development of the early Vedic Religion.

The six schools are.

Vaisheshika
This school was founded by Kanada and postulates an atomic pluralism. All objects in the physical universe are reducible to certain types of atoms, and Brahman is regarded as the fundamental force that causes consciousness in these atoms.

Although the Vaisheshika school developed independently from the Nyaya, the two eventually merged because of their closely related metaphysical theories. In its classical form, however, the Vaisheshika school differed from the Nyaya in one crucial respect: where Nyaya accepted four sources of valid knowledge, the Vaisheshika accepted only two—–perception and inference.

Nyaya
This school is based on the Nyaya Sutras. They were written by Aksapada Gautama, probably in the second century B.C.E. The most important contribution made by this school is its methodology. This methodology is based on a system of logic that has subsequently been adopted by the majority of the Indian schools. This is comparable to the relationship between Western science and philosophy, which was derived largely from Aristotelian logic.

Nevertheless, Nyaya was seen by its followers as more than logical in its own right. They believed that obtaining valid knowledge was the only way to gain release from suffering, and they took great pains to identify valid sources of knowledge and distinguish these from mere false opinions.

According to Nyaya, there are exactly four sources of knowledge: perception, inference, comparison, and testimony. Knowledge obtained through each of these is either valid or invalid. Nyaya developed several criteria of validity. In this sense, Nyaya is probably the closest Indian equivalent to analytic philosophy. The later Naiyanikas gave logical proofs for the existence and uniqueness of Ishvara in response to Buddhism, which, at that time, was fundamentally non-theistic. An important later development in Nyaya was the system of Navya-Nyāya.

Sankhya
Samkhya postulates that everything in reality stems from purusha (sanskrit: पुरुष,Self or soul) and prakriti (Matter, creative agency, energy). There are many souls and they possess consciousness, but they are devoid of all qualities. Prakriti/Matter consists of three dispositions: steadiness (sattva), activity (rajas), and dullness (tamas), known as the three gunas, or qualities.

Because of the intertwined relationship between the soul and these dispositions, an imbalance in disposition causes the world to evolve.

Liberation occurs with the realization that the soul and the dispositions are different. Samkhya is a dualistic philosophy, but there are differences between Samkhya and other forms of dualism.

In the West, dualism is between the mind and the body, whereas in Samkhya it is between the self and matter. The concept of the self is roughly equivalent to the Western concept of the mind. Samkhya was originally not theistic, but in confluence with Yoga it developed a theistic variant.

Yoga
The Yoga philosophical system is closely allied with the Samkhya school. The Yoga school as expounded by Patanjali accepts the Samkhya psychology and metaphysics, but is more theistic than the Samkhya, as evidenced by the addition of a divine entity to the Samkhya's twenty-five elements of reality.The parallels between Yoga and Samkhya were so close that Max Müller says that "the two philosophies were in popular parlance distinguished from each other as Samkhya with and Samkhya without a Lord...." The intimate relationship between Samkhya and Yoga is explained by Heinrich Zimmer:
"These two are regarded in India as twins, the two aspects of a single discipline. Sāṅkhya provides a basic theoretical exposition of human nature, enumerating and defining its elements, analyzing their manner of co-operation in a state of bondage (bandha), and describing their state of disentanglement or separation in release (mokṣa), while Yoga treats specifically of the dynamics of the process for the disentanglement, out outlines practical techniques for the gaining of release, or 'isolation-integration' (kaivalya)."
The foundational text of the Yoga school is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, who is regarded as the founder of the formal Yoga philosophy. The Sutras of the Yoga philosophy are ascribed to Patanjali, who may have been, as Max Müller explains, "the author or representative of the Yoga-philosophy without being necessarily the author of the Sutras."
Purva Mimamsa
The main objective of the Purva Mimansa school was to establish the authority of the Vedas. Consequently, this school's most valuable contribution to Hinduism was its formulation of the rules of Vedic interpretation. Its adherents believe that one must have unquestionable faith in the Vedas and perform the yajñas, or fire-sacrifices, regularly.

They believe in the power of the mantras and yajñas to sustain all the activity of the universe. In keeping with this belief, they place great emphasis on dharma, which consists of the performance of Vedic rituals.
The Mimamsa accepted the logical and philosophical teachings of the other schools, but felt they did not sufficiently emphasize attention to right action. They believed that the other schools of thought that aimed for release (moksha) did not allow for complete freedom from desire and selfishness, because the very striving for liberation stemmed from a simple desire to be free. According to Mimamsa thought, only by acting in accordance with the prescriptions of the Vedas may one attain salvation.

The Mimamsa school later shifted its views and began to teach the doctrines of Brahman and freedom. Its adherents then advocated the release or escape of the soul from its constraints through enlightened activity. Although Mimamsa does not receive much scholarly attention, its influence can be felt in the life of the practising Hindu, because all Hindu ritual, ceremony, and law is influenced by this school.

Vedanta
Vedanta or later Mimamsa school, concentrates on the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads rather than the ritualistic injunctions of the Brahmanas. rather than the ritualistic injunctions of the Brahmanas.
While the traditional Vedic rituals continued to be practised as meditative and propitiatory rites, a more knowledge-centered understanding began to emerge. These were mystical aspects of Vedic religion that focused on meditation, self-discipline, and spiritual connectivity, more than traditional ritualism.
The more abstruse Vedanta is the essence of the Vedas, as encapsulated in the Upanishads. Vedantic thought drew on Vedic cosmology, hymns and philosophy. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is believed to have appeared as far back as 3,000 years ago. While thirteen or so Upanishads are accepted as principal, over a hundred exist. The most significant contribution of Vedantic thought is the idea that self-consciousness is continuous with and indistinguishable from consciousness of Brahman.
The aphorisms of the Vedanta sutras are presented in a cryptic, poetic style, which allows for a variety of interpretations. Consequently, the Vedanta separated into six sub-schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own series of sub-commentaries.

On the next Part. Paths of Yoga, Hope you enjoyed this post and some interesting dialogues come from it.

Sources
http://www.en.wikipedia.org
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Yoga_Sutras
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatha_Yoga_Pradipika

Peace, Love, Light, Harmony

Last edited by Travelling fella; 07-20-2008 at 01:26 PM..
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