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Yoga is a state of mind, not a fashion statement

Knowledge before International Yoga Day on June 21

Acharya Ajay Tiwari – 

Yoga is a state of mind- Acharya Ajay Tiwari WebControlling the unsettled mind, purification of language and medicine, I bow to Maharishi Patañjali, the sage who wrote the Yoga.

When one mentions the word ‘Yoga’, the response is instant.

For, since it was introduced to the West by Bikram Iyengar more than 50 years ago, it has transformed people’s bodies, lifestyles and even their mental health.

But with the immense popularity of Yoga also comes its commercialisation, and over time, the spiritual significance of this ancient Indian form of exercise by its practitioners is seldom known.

As June 21 marks International Yoga Day, readers of Indian Newslink who wish to introduce Yoga into their lives should be aware of certain principles before undertaking its practice.

Five causes

In this materialistic world, there are five causes for suffering (known as ‘Kleśa’) that is said to affect people. They are Avidyā, (Ignorance), Asmitā, (Ego or Pride), Rāga (Attachment), Dveṣa (Malice) and Abhiniveśa (Fear of death).

Yoga is a state of mind- Wellington PosterUnderstanding the meaning and context behind each of these terms is essential for a true Yoga practitioner as the cause and effect of suffering can be reduced in one’s daily life and activities.

Avidyā (Ignorance):  Most of life’s problems are due to lack of understanding. Lord Shankaracharya said “Avidyā kleśa jananī” – “Ignorance is the mother of sorrows and persecution.” We get harassed by our own persistence and insecurity, and then blame others due to misunderstandings within ourselves.

Asmitā (Ego or Pride): All beings born in this world are known to possess some kind of pride. Some people may be proud of their wealth, knowledge, beauty, name or fame. Animals too have pride for what they are gifted with. Examples such as Peacocks and their feathers, Dogs and their sense of smell, Bulls and their physical force, and Snakes and their poisonous venom. Turning to the great epics of Hindu mythology, one can understand the degree of ego in divine beings, such as the Battle between Sri Ram and the demon king Ravana in Ramayana and the Battle between the Pandavas and Kauravas in Mahabharata.

Rāga (Attachment): The popular saying, “All is fair in love and war” calls for some debate as most of us know what damage can happen when one is deeply attached, resulting in mental instability and anger. Examples include when King Dasharath had to let go of his sons, Ram and Lakshman when Sage Vishwamitra asked for their protection during his ‘Yagna’ ritual, King Dasharath’s death after his beloved Ram had to leave for 14-exile in the forest, and in Mahabharata, Arjun’s initial refusal to fight against his elders which led to Lord Krishna’s reveal of the Bhagwat Gita to him.

Dveṣa (Malice): In addition to people being unhappy due to problems in their lives, many are also unhappy due to seeing others who seem happier than them. Malice can be called competition in modern terms but according to Adi Shankaracharya, happiness is being content with what one already has and not being involved in competition with someone for materialistic items.

Abhiniveśa (Fear of death): Throughout history, people have tried various methods in order to achieve immortality. Many have prayed and performed immense penance but some people forget that Lord Ram and Lord Krishna (incarnations of Lord Vishnu) were mortal beings themselves and had to die after completion of their respective duties on earth. Powerful demons such as Hiranyakashipu, Ravana and Kamsa, no matter how learned or brave they were, could not escape from the reality of dying one day, hence their only weakness was fear of death.

All of us will eventually die one day, but we can revert our fear of death by aligning our lives and principles to that of Lord Ram, Lord Krishna and Lord Buddha. It is only our physical body that deteriorates but never our soul.

Types of existence

According to Acharya Shankara’s philosophy, there are three kinds of existence: Prātibhāsika, Vyavahārika and Pāramārthika. Prātibhāsika means illusion, Vyavahārika is physical existence for a temporary time and Pāramārthika is the ultimate truth which can be described as God.

Since many of us are unaware of Pāramārthika, this becomes the root cause of our disorganised minds (citta vṛtti). The waves of our unsettled minds prompt us to set new goals for ourselves every day.

As we constantly run to achieve our goals throughout our lives and yet never completely achieve them, we are driven more towards citta vṛtti. It was for this reason that Maharishi Patañjali wrote the treatise “Yoga Sutra” 1200 years BC (Bikram Samvat) in order to save us from being drowned by the ocean of citta vṛtti.

Mind control

Maharishi Patañjali says, “Yoga is control over citta vṛtti (unsettled mind). This definition of Yoga is also supported by Lord Krishna in the Bhagwat Gita. He says: “Arjun, perform your duties established in Yoga, renouncing attachment and be even-minded in success and failure. Balance of mind is called Yoga.”

Endowed with equanimity, one sheds in this life both good and evil. Therefore, strive for the practice of this Yoga of equanimity. Skill in action lies in the practice of this Yoga.

When your intellect, confused by hearing conflicting statements, will rest steady and undistracted in meditation/on God, you will then attain Yoga, that is everlasting union with God.

Eight limbs of Yoga

According to the Yoga sutra, there are eight limbs of Yoga: Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyām, Pratyāhāra, Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna and Samādhi.

Those who wish to practice Yoga regularly must eliminate the concept of gender, as the soul is genderless.

The acts of non-killing, non-injuring others and non-stealing are to be practiced by every Yogi. Internal and external purification must also be obtained. Fifteen excuses and just five minutes of practice is not the right discipline of becoming a Yogi. Nowadays, many people associate Yoga with the beautification of the body but as described above, this is far from the ultimate truth.

Acharya Ajay Tiwari is a Priest and Preacher. He is associated with Sanskrit Yoga & Jyotish Trust and can be contacted on (09) 2679980 or 021-0347956. Email: acharyatiwari@gmail.com

Photo

Lord Krishna preaches Yoga to Arjun

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