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Yoga and the Bhaghavad Gita

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Students Stretch thier way to inner peace

Yoga is a nonsectarian spiritual science and being universal in its approach and application with no geographical boundaries, it is practiced by billions of people all around the globe irrespective of caste color, creed, community and nationality. The benefits of yoga are multifarious but its real and ultimate purpose is to raise our consciousness to directly perceive the spiritual dimension. It’s the holistic approach to all aspects of life: physical, moral, mental and spiritual, it views the person as a whole. With regular practice of a balanced series of techniques, the energy of the body and mind can be liberated and the quality of consciousness can be expanded.


Yoga is an incredible way to allay stress and to keep up physical strength and stamina. As the sun opens the flow ers delicately, unfolding them little by little, so yoga exercises and breathing open the body during a slow careful training. Yoga is also used as a therapy, which consists of application of yogic principles, methods, and techniques to specific human ailments. In its ideal application, Yoga therapy is preventive in nature, as is Yoga itself, but it is also restorative in many instances, palliative in others, and curative in many others.


To give up the sense of attachment and free from dualities like success and failure, happiness and distress is a part of yoga and to achieve bodily benefits is not the aim but the byproduct of yoga. In fact the word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj”, meaning “to yoke” or “to unite” so the process of yoga is to connect to the higher energy or god. The real aim of yoga is to restrain ones senses and fix our consciousness on super soul. Yoga means to concentrate the mind upon the Supreme by controlling the ever-disturbing senses.


Many references of yoga can be found in ancient vedic texts: vedas, upanisads, puranas etc. Patanjali wrote around 200 terse verses or aphorisms which are called Patanjali Yoga Sutras that later became the law codes of yoga. In the second aphorism of the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras Patanjali described yoga as a process to still one’s mind “citta-vritti-nirodha” and focus it upon a higher spiritual object. The yoga system that is counted as one of the six systems of ancient Vedic philosophy is the patanjali-yoga system. Patanjali enumerates eight stages or limbs of yoga, they are : 1) Yama (universal ethics) 2) Niyama (self purification by discipline) 3) Asana(posture) 4) Pranayama(rhythmic control of the breath) 5) Pratyahara(withdrawal of senses from sense objects) 6) Dharana (Concentration) 7) Dhyana (Meditation) and 8) Samadhi (Liberation,trance,transcendental perfection). The first three stages are the outward quests (bahiranga sadhana). The next two stages are known as inner quests (antaranga sadhana). The last three stages are called antaratma sadhana, the quest of the soul. Even if one doesn’t believe in the spiritual aspect of yoga, they can still practice yoga for its psycho-physiological benefits by just following the two stages of yoga, asana & pranayama.


Yogi Swatmarama expounded Hatha Yoga in his masterpiece Hatha Yoga Pradipika, but the yoga and its evolving concept is elucidated at length in Bhagavad Gita. It describes different types of yoga and compares yoga with a ladder to rise up to perfect self-realization in pure spiritual life.


The purpose of practicing eight-fold yoga is to control the mind in order to make it a friend in discharging the human mission. Unless the mind is controlled, the practice of yoga is simply a waste of time. The Bhagavad Gita places great emphasis on the preeminent principle of yoga system, mind control.


For a man in the practical world who has to fight so many opposing elements, it is certainly very difficult to control the mind. Artificially, one may establish a mental equilibrium toward both friend and enemy, but ultimately no worldly man can do so, for this is more difficult than controlling the raging wind. Krsna comes up with a timeless solution to common found problem represented by Arjuna. Bhagavad Gita speaks about yoga system alongside its principle subject matter. Primarily, the contents deal with the isvara (the supreme controller), the jivas (the controlled living entities), Prakrti (material nature), kaal (the duration of existence of the whole universe or the manifestation of material nature) and karma (activity). Bhagavad Gita is regarded by many as a manual to humankind instructing the principles of happy, peaceful and successful life. One can find its application in multitude of fields especially in management, psychology, sociology and politics.


Vanamali Pandit Dasa is the head of Bhakti Yoga Club here at UMass Boston. Along with being a graduate student, he leads a free evening yoga class every week. Last year they were notorious for free food, live music performances, and communal dancing. This article is the first of a series. If you would like more information Mr. Dasa can be reached through the Bhakti Yoga Club at [email protected]



Bhagavad Gita Excertps

TEXTS 5.27-28

Shutting out all external sense objects, keeping the eyes and vision concentrated between the two eyebrows, suspending the inward and outward breaths within the nostrils–thus controlling the mind, senses and intelligence, the transcendentalist becomes free from desire, fear and anger. One who is always in this state is certainly liberated.


TEXT 4.27

Those who are interested in self-realization, in terms of mind and sense control, offer the functions of all the senses, as well as the vital force [breath], as oblations into the fire of the controlled


[TEXT 6.6

For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy.]


TEXT 6.34

For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krsna and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.


TEXT 6.35

The Blessed Lord said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment.