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The real meaning of Yoga

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By Acharya Balkrishna

Independence is our birthright.
The expertise of the science
of Yoga leads us to that sovereignty.
Yogacittavttinirodha.
(Yo.su.-1.2)
To cease the activity of citta (mind) is Yoga. The mana seeks meaning while remaining engaged to untruths, imagination and dreams. The mana is lost in the pain and agony of the past that has already passed, in the memories of past or in the worries about future.
The meaning of Yoga is to live in the present, where there is neither pain nor worry. There in only creativity in the present. Only the person who does not fear about the future can have pleasure in the present. It is the present which forms the past and creates a foundation for the future. Both past and future both do not exist independently without the present. Only by living in the present can pleasure be obtained in life. The nature of conscious tm is experienced after going beyond the mana. Thus, the meaning of Yoga is to be united with one’s own consciousness, the center or one’s existence, to know one’s identity and know the presence of the knower of all – Paramtm within. Yoga brings the realization of the body in the Brahmda (universe) and the universe within the pinda (body), i.e. “Yatha pinde tatha Brahmnde, Yatha Brahmnde tatha pinde.” To extend oneself ubiquitosly from the boundaries of small mindedness of ‘ego’ of self.
Aim of Yoga
Virtually, Yoga commences after going beyond manas (mind). Beyond mana only, the true existence of self cetan (consciousness) begins. When we ascend above the lower level of mana, then only wholeness, extensiveness and divinity descends in our personality. Our mind, by its nature cultivates biases, dwells on the sorrows of a non-existent past, and formulates innumerable fantasies for the future. We want to live in the known, but being fearful of the unknown, which our mind would not let us cognise or experience, we do not act. This creates a state of mental paralysis towards attempting a new action.
With the aid of Yoga, we should motivate ourselves towards the target of building a healthy, prosperous and cultured person, family, society, nation and world.
We should aim to bring a diseased person towards health, to transform a bhog (materialist) into a yog, and mould the healthy towards an useful purpose in life. We should try to reorient humanity towards well-being, efficiency and productivity, positivity, creativity and equip it for experiencing a qualitative change in order to build a progressive, civilized and wealthy society, nation and world.
We gain happiness and fulfillment when we overwhelm the feelings of kma (lust and sexual desires), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), mada (intoxication), moha (attachment) and mtsarya (jealousy). We beget sorrows when one or more of these feelings gain contol over our mind. The path of Yoga teaches us the knowledge with which to tame these states of mind, to control these feelings, and to transform the latent energy that lie in dormant state within us into indomitable power.
The original form of Yoga
Yoga is a practical philosophy. Nowhere in yogic philosophy is a direction that can not be emulated.
‘Dyate jatasadbhavah kyate Pauvasana.’, that is, the procedure which transforms animal instincts into divine sentiments is called Yoga. The sdhakas keep practicising the procedure of emotional purusrtha (effort) to transform their accumulated kusamkra (bad past impressions) into nobler emotions. They are always immersed into these efforts. The unbroken effort results in most parts of their tm to become oriented towards the Paramtm.
After freeing the mind of worldly malformations and excess thoughts helps in the realization of mana (mind) and buddhi (intellect) formed from the elements of prakrti (primordial unmanifest matter) and realization of tm and Paramtm. This is Yoga.
To know the weaknesses of life and to transform them into strengths, thus becoming a person of strength, is ‘sdhan’ (practice). The other name for ‘sdhan’ is Yoga.
Yoga is that which makes a person worthy.
The practise of Yoga helps the sdhaka (practitioner) to realise a sharpness of intelligence, judgement and memory. It increases the concentration levels. Yoga helps to control the indriyas (sense organs) like the mind. Yoga helps destroy the paca-vikra, namely lust, anger, greed, attachment and jealousy and the bad-samskra they beget in a person due to ahamkra(egoism). Yoga creates the clean mental environment and refines the strength of will for good-samskra to take birth. This leads to the realisations of peace, joy, satisfaction, fearlessness, happiness and ultimately the state of moka (liberation).
The non-practitioner of Yoga generates sorrows for the people around him. Such a person becomes the slave of the mind and the indriyas and therefore unable to understand the subtle subjects taught by the Vedas and expounded by the Gurus and Rsis. The person is not strong enough to handle the sorrows and disruptions that occur due to illnesses, separation, disrespect, losses, treachery, and deaths etc. in the normal course of life. Such a non-yogic person while unable to destroy the ku-samskra of desire, anger, greed, attachment, arrogance and jealousy, cannot enhance the wealth of noble samskaras either. The person’s problems remain unsorted and unsolved.
The chief grantha (text) of Yoga is the ‘Yogasutra’ created by Maharhi Patajali. It is the empirical, scientific, practical and unanimously accepted grantha of Yoga. It has the step-by-step explaination of ‘Aga-yoga’. All the eight principles of Aga-yoga have to be faithfully practised in a disciplined manner in order that the yoga-sdhan is fruitful.
Yama (restraints), Niyama (observances), sana (postures), Pranayama (breathing practices), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dhrana (contemplation), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (Absolute emancipation) are the eight steps of Yoga. That is why it is called ‘Aga-yoga’. No person can become a yog without a mastery in ‘Aga-yoga’.
The path of Aga-yoga is not a sectarian or communitarian philosophy. Rather, it is a complete method describing the process one has to follow to lead a life of austere efforts. ‘Aga-yoga’ demonstrates its supremacy in the context of the path of righteousness, spirituality, humanity and science. It is inclusive in its wise consideration of all the states of life a person may find oneself in – from the public dealings in society to the final stages of meditation, the chief purpose of life, which is to realise the immeasurable heights of spirituality culminating in the achievement of samdhi.

(Extracted from the book: “Divine Transformation: Building Blocks for Enlightened Life, Ideal Nation and Peaceful World”. Author: Acharya Balkrishna).