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Suman Chiplunkar – Mudras and health perspective
Suman Chiplunkar – Mudras and health perspectiveReview of “Mudras and health perspective – An Indian Approach” by Suman K. Chiplunkar MA. MEd. MA (published by Abhijit Prakashan, Mumbai). School of Yoga explains Suman Chiplunkar – Mudras: Mrs. Suman K. Chiplunkar was born to D. Venkatesh Bhat Marathe and Padmakshi V. Marathe at Karkala (Udipi Dist., Karnataka, India), but moved to Mumbai early in life. She has completed MA (History and Sociology), MEd and MA (Kannada) and served as a Teacher, then Inspector of Schools, and finally as Superintendent of Schools in the Education department of Mumbai Municipal Corporation. She was introduced to Mudras by Dr. Lalita Rao, a former Health Minister in the Government of Maharashtra in 2000 AD. After this, she developed her skills on the subject and conducted over 220 workshops on the subject of Mudra. Her first edition on the book of Mudras was in 2008 and this review is on the twenty-fifth edition.   School of Yoga reviews Suman Chiplunkar – Mudras: The book may be split into 7 sections, covering a vast number of subjects; Mudras – without doubt, this is the best section. It is put together very well and covers the subject in depth. It is obvious that Suman Chiplunkar has enormous competence, passion and knowledge on the subject. This section also has a comprehensive chapter on therapeutic Mudras which makes this section, a “must read” for anyone interested in Yoga! Ayurveda and health – This section is a good primer on Ayurveda, taking the reader through the basics of Ayuveda, diet and lifestyle control. Nature and nutrition – This seems to be a mix of western and Indian concepts on natural healing, health and lifestyle. There seems to be some overlap with the section on Ayurveda. Yoga – This section is a good primer on Yoga, touching on various subjects which form to become Yoga. The section then concentrates on Raja Yoga, but skips the asana aspect while laying enormous emphasis on pranayama and nadis. The philosophy of life and health – in this section, the book moves away from material underpinnings of Mudra, Ayurveda and Yoga and takes a more moralistic or religious turn, focusing on behaviour and character development. Sun worship and (7) Gayatri Upasana – these two sections move out of the realm of spirituality and health, into the space of religion and worship. Surya Namaskar is well explained. This is an excellent book on Mudras and covers other related aspects well. However, there are some repetitions and some of the cataloguing of topics can be confusion and make reading of the book tedious. This book is obviously directed at the modern Hindu. School of Yoga concludes review: “Mudras and health perspective – An Indian Approach” by Suman K. Chiplunkar is a “Must Read” for anyone interested in the Indian approach to health, spirituality and Yoga. Review by Vishwanath R. Iyer [...] Read more...
Guru and the ancient South Asian gurukul system
Guru and the ancient South Asian gurukul systemGuru and the ancient South Asian gurukul system. School of Yoga explains – introduction to the gurukul system. Gurukul is a combination word – gu = darkness + ru = light + kul = residence and flock. So, this means a residence where a group of people are taken from darkness to light and the person is called “guru”. The gurukul was an important aspect of life in ancient South Asia and finds place in the saṃskāra (refining or gateways) process as explained in the gṛhyasūtra (rules of family life). This refining process in ancient India was designed to prepare a person to live life in accordance with his or her stage in life or āśrama – initiate (brahmacharya-āśrama), family (gṛhasthāśrama), retired (vāṇaprasthāśrama) and renunciate (sannyāsāśrama) and the measure of success was the ability to live it according to the puruṣārtha (aim of human existence). In fact, every aspect of the saṃskāra was designed to instil discipline and awareness (prajñā) of the Self in the person. The saṃskāra assumed that all individuals were born ignorant, but became perfect through a systematic application of knowledge. School of Yoga explains brahmacharya-samskaras. The brahmacharya-saṃskāra follow the childhood saṃskāra (until karṇavedha or ear piercing). The first of these is vidhyārambha (starting of knowledge or learning of the alphabet). It is called by different names by different texts, such as aksharārambha in saṃskāra-ratnamāla or aksharavikarana in mārkandeya-purāṇa. Importantly, these texts are dated around seventh and eight centuries AD. The timing of introduction of education (vidyārambha-saṃskāra) into the formal socio-cultural list of essential samskaras is significant and follows the evolution of Sanskrit from an oral to a written language. In fact, this evolution of Sanskrit from an oral to written system occurred around 500 BCE with the seminal works on grammar by Panini (aṣṭādhyāyī – eight-chapter grammar), Patanjali (mahābhāshya) and Kātyāyana’s commentary. Indeed, aṣṭādhyāyī became the foundation of vyākarana, an element of the vedānga. It also seems significant that this knowledge of Sanskrit alphabet and grammar took approximately 1000 years to get formalised into formal education system (vidyārambha-saṃskāra). This saṃskāra is done before the initiation ritual (upanayana) and represents the start of formal learning of Saṃskritam as a medium of knowledge. School of Yoga explains brahmacharya-saṃskāra. An important saṃskāra was the upanayana-saṃskāra. Here, the student became “dvija” (twice born) and graduated from a “śūdra” to a “vipra” or “an initiate / student”. This ceremony is a very old saṃskāra as it is mentioned in the rig-veda. Initially, this saṃskāra initiated formal learning of bhrahma-vidya (knowledge of the Self), rites and rituals, but later metamorphosed to cover all knowledge. Upanayana means “taking charge of a student” and can also mean sāvitriya-vandanam (savitri-salutation). So, upanayana was the rite by which a teacher accepted a student and was performed every time the student went to another teacher to learn something new. Hence, it is a sacred and formal bond between the student and the teacher for imparting knowledge. During the period of learning, the student lived with the teacher as a part of his family, performing such tasks as demanded by the teacher, living a vow of poverty. The intent was that in a boarding environment, the relationship becomes one of intimacy and family. Consequently, this allows the teacher to observe the pupil closely and regulate the lessons to ensure greater understanding (vijñāna), while this allows the pupil to absorb the non-verbal and subconscious aspects of living from the teacher. In fact, when the devotion (upāsana) of the pupil is complete, he begins to mirror the teacher. Interestingly, this form of learning is not exclusive to India, but almost of all of Asia. In fact, when Deming and Juran, the great teachers of Quality Control, visited Japan for lectures, they were surprised to notice many of the Japanese students mimicking the way they walked, talked and ate. This is upāsana, extreme dedication to the guru. However, it is possible that with increased streams of knowledge and increased population, the demand for varied forms of knowledge increased beyond supply. Consequently, all teaching was not residential but also included day scholars. School of Yoga explains the classification of guru’s. (Excerpts from Prof. Mahadevan’s, IIM-B Speech “On Re-engineering Higher Education in India”) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhKNwkfiD80 Categories of teachers as per Sanskrit scriptures: शिक्षकः (śikṣakaha) – a simple teacher of syllabus or a tutor. This might be a senior student under a guru. अध्यापकः (adhyāpakah) – somebody who can explain the lessons better. Somebody who does adhyayana (अध्ययन), little thinking before talking, knows how to reflect a little. प्रॉध्यापकः (prādhyapakah) – somebody who can explain things even better. They will prepare before going to class. In fact, even though they are subject matter experts, they keep reading all the time and upgrading their knowledge. उपाध्यायः (upādhyāyah) – somebody who can take student closer to the issue being taught. They will develop an interest in the student on the subject regardless of the difficulty of the subject. महामहोपाध्यायः (mahāmahopādhyāyah) – somebody who is a veteran in the above skill, and can inculcate a lifelong interest in the subject in the student. देशिकोत्तम्: (deśīkottamah) – a teacher who is more than the subject matter. In fact, they are role models and imbibe values in their students. Students love them, not only for their expertise on the subject but also for the values they hold. आचार्यः (āchāryah) – an āchārya is one who has not only mastered all śāstra (sciences), but is able to put the concepts into practice. Additionally, an āchārya enables his students to practice these concepts. Guru – a person who can lead people who come into their influence out of darkness into brightness. School of Yoga explains the role of a guru. Gu means darkness, ru means annulment that removes darkness. The ultimate role of teacher is to remove the darkness from the minds of the students, i.e. show them the light and not just train them to get marks. They are a lifetime inspiration to their students. Guru/ acharya don’t take the horse to the pond, they create so much thirst, that the horse will go and look for the pond to drink water. This type of learning is far more lasting and eternal because the the focus is on increasing awareness (prajñā). So, the role of teachers is not to manage a syllabus, but to show the way of learning. Teaching too much and not making the student learn, is not the intent. The difference between teaching and learning is; teaching is downloading information with no encouragement of feedback. Learning is a symbiotic process where students expand their knowledge by interactive understanding of the subject (vijñāna). There is no a word for teach or teacher in Saṁskṛtam. All the above words (śikṣakaha to guru) having the suffix kah. In sanskrit putting suffix kah in the end of the word is actually means causing some body to do something. For example, śikṣa is learning, śikṣakaha is somebody who is causing you to learn. School of Yoga explains stages in learning. SWAMI GURUBHAKTANANDA – Reflections on Chandogya Upanishad All education is imparted by communication. First, let us consider what actually happens at the subtlest level prior to uttering the actual gross speech: Parā-vāṇi – this is when speech is still in its unmanifest or dormant form. For example, all the information of our school would be in our mind in an unmanifest form most of the time. Pashyanti – as soon as someone mentions the name of our school, the picture of the school pops up in the consciousness. Here, we see the building and other aspects associated with the school. Madhyamā – the way we give expression to the thoughts when we wish to speak about our school. Vaikhāri – the actual articulation of expression. Acquisition of knowledge has 3 stages. First, concentration is practice of focusing the consciousness (citta) on a given theme or idea, a picture or a sound. Next, contemplation is a form of concentration, but done in silence, in a meditation posture (dhyāna). Finally, meditation is the advanced form of contemplation on the Self. Here, the consciousness is completely stilled (samādhi).  Contemplation (achieving an internal peace) is explained in the Chandogya Upanishad (6.1). Ch Up (6.1) dhyāyati-iva-prithivī-dhyāyati-iva-antariksham-dhyāyati-iva-dyauh-dhyāyanti-iva-āpah-dhyāyanti-iva-parvatā-dhyāyanti-iva-deva-manushyāh. The earth contemplates as it were. The sky contemplates as it were. Heaven contemplates as it were. Water contemplates as it were. The mountains contemplate as it were. Divine beings and men contemplate as it were. Ch Up (7.1) explains the importance of vijñāna (conceptual understanding of any subject) as the core of all knowledge acquisition. • vijñena-vā-rig-vedam-vijñānāti – by cognition alone can rig-veda be understood;  • yajur-vedam-sāma-vedam-atharvanam-chaturtham – yajur and sama vedas; the atharvana as the fourth; • itihāsa-purāṇām-panchamam-vedānām-vedam-pitryam-rāshim-daivam – the itihasas and puranas as the fifth veda of vedas – grammar, rules for the worship of ancestors; mathematics; the science of portents and deities; • nidhim-vāko-vākyam-ekāyanam-devavidyām-brahmavidyām – the science of treasures – logic; the science of ethics; the science of gods; the ancillary knowledge of the Vedas; • bhūtavidyām-kshatravidyām-nakshatravidyām-sarpa-vidyām-devajana-vidyām – physical science; the science of war; science of stars; the science related to serpents; to the celestials, i.e. the fine arts; • divam-cha-prithivīm-cha-vāyu-cha-ākāsha-cha-āpa-cha-teja-cha – also, heaven and earth; air and space; water and fire; • devān-cha-manushyān-cha-pashūn-cha-vayāmsi-cha – gods and men; animals and birds; • trina-vanaspatīn-shvāpadāni-ākeeta-patanga-pipīlikam – grasses and trees; beasts down to worms; flying insects and ants; School of Yoga explains Shankaracharya’s advice for knowledge acquisition. All knowledge acquisition is based on sankalpa. In fact, sankalpa is defines by Sri Shankaracharya as “the ability to discriminate between what is done and what is not”. Thus, knowledge acquisition is a gap analysis and its closure. Sri Shankara delineates 6 qualities of a student for spiritual progress in Vivekachudamani, but these qualities are equally applicable for any form of knowledge acquisition – sama (treating everything equally), dama (rigid self-control), uparathi (control over the senses), titiksha (forbearance), śraddhā (sincerity in effort), (read what Sri Krishna says about śraddhā in the Bhagavad-geeta) samādhana (flexibility in solution). Additionally, Sri Shankara adds mumukṣutvam (burning drive for knowledge) as a critical requirement. Sri Sankara says, that for knowledge transfer, an attitude of complete surrender to the Guru is required. Literally, this means that the student must unlearn everything that he knows on the subject to relearn from the guru. However, this does not mean that the pupil accepts everything that the guru says. In fact, the student is expected to question the guru and learn to discriminate real from unreal (vivekam). He must not get sentimental about the truth, but step back and view knowledge dispassionately (vairāgyam). Thus, there is transfer of knowledge. This is the ancient South Asian gurukula system. [...] Read more...
Review – Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda
Review – Jnana Yoga by Swami VivekanandaReview of “Jnana Yoga” by Swami Vivekananda Printed by Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta). Review by Vishwanath Iyer. Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902) was born as Narendranath Datta in Kolkatta, West Bengal, India into an aristocratic family. He came from a family of ascetics. In fact, his grandfather, Durgacharan Duttta had become a monk at 25. Initially, as a child, Swami Vivakananda was interested in spirituality, often meditating on Indian deities. He was a brilliant student, with terrific speed reading capabilities and a photographic memory. As a result, he won tremendous praise from all his teachers in Christian College, Calcutta. Swami Vivekananda’s initial exposure to spirituality was as an apprentice of Nava Vidhan, an offshoot of Brahmo Samaj. Here, he was exposed to many types of cultural, religious, social and spiritual ideas. Later, in 1881, he met his Guru, Ramakrishna Paramahansa and slowly began to gravitate towards Ramakrishna Paramahansa, especially after his father’s death in 1884. Finally, he experienced nirvikalpa Samadhi in 1885. Evolution at a Monk In 1886, Ramakrishna Paramahansa died, anointing Swami Vivekananda as the head of his disciples. Therafter, on Christmas Eve, Swami Vivekananda and 8 fellow disciples become monks. In 1888, Swami Vivekananda left his monastery as a wondering monk, moving around India with no possessions. Then, reaching Mumbai in 1893, he departed for the West, passing Japan, China and Canada before reaching USA where he spoke at the Parliament of Religions. In fact, his opening words, “Sisters and brothers of America!” made him famous. Over the next few years he spread the understanding of Vedanta, accepting disciples and established ashrams all over the world. Finally, on 4th July 1902, he passed away. About Jnana Yoga Jnana Yoga was published posthumously, sometime around 1905. It is based on a series of lectures given by Swami Vivekananda in New York and London. These lectures were transcribed by a professional stenographer Joseph Josiah Goodwin in 1896. However, there have been additions and deletions to the book by the publishers. The important aspect of this book is that it is the first attempt to explain some concepts which underpin Yoga. The book starts with the importance of Religion and its relationship with Man. It then explains an important and often misunderstood concept of Maya (Illusion). However, Swami Vivekananda’s own explanation falls short of bringing complete lucidity, though the attempt is sincere and complete. Next, the book speaks about the nature of Man. The great thing about Swami Vivekananda’s lectures is the effort to help people understand that the Vedanta a complete source of all knowledge of the Absolute and way to reach it. Swami Vivekananda’s explanations of the Absolute and Relativity are brilliant. Swami Vivekananda speaks about Realisation and God through an abridged version of the Katha Upanishad. In fact, this chapter is explained in a simple and easy to understand manner. Next, Swami Vivekananda explains the nature of the Soul by explaining the Chandogya Upanishad. The Cosmos, micro and macrocosm are explained, followed by the nature of the soul and immortality. Review of Jnana Yoga There is no doubt that the book is superbly put together. However, some of the features which a reader will need to take into cognisance are; The book is a summation of lectures, so there is overlap of concepts. This can make reading slightly tiresome. Since the book is a series of lectures, the reader is reading what should ideally be heard. This makes understanding of the book difficult. The lectures were given at the turn of the 19th century to people who knew very little of Hinduism and India. Hence, there is a lot of cross-referencing with other faiths. This aspect may confuse the reader. There is no doubt that the book is a milestone in the History of Yoga. It was brought out at a time of ignorance and did yeoman service in educating Indians and others on the aspects of Yoga and Indian philosophy. This book must be read, at least once. [...] Read more...
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa YoganandaAutobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda (printed by Jaico Books). Autobiography of a Yogi – Review by Vishwanath Iyer. Paramahansa Yogananda (5 January 1893 – 7 March 1952) was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. After seeking various saints, he met his Guru, Swami Yukteswar Giri. Next, at the instruction of his Guru, he passed his Intermediate Examination in Arts from the Scottish Church College, Kolkata, in June 1915. Following this, he graduated with a degree similar to a current day Bachelor of Arts or B.A. (which at the time was referred to as an A.B.), from Serampore College. The same year, he took formal vows into the Swami order as Swami Yogananda Giri. In 1920, he moved to the United States of America, where he established his ashram and spent most of his life. The Book: The book is like any autobiography. Initially, it starts off with a wholesome childhood, spent with loving and caring parents in a deeply spiritual home. The central theme of the early chapters is the constant quest for a Guru, and greater understanding of the permanent. There are many miracles and personal experiences, including the traumatic demise of his mother. Next, the book touches upon his meeting of many masters such as Maharishi Mahasaya, a disciple off Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. The meeting with his Guru Swami Yukteswar Giri is explained in vivid detail. Following this, are carefree and lyrical years at the Swami’s ashram and days as a college student. Slowly, Swami Yogananda begins to delve into his ascent into spiritual heights, explaining many nuances on the subject. Finally, this section ends in Swami Yogananda taking monastic vows. Next, the book covers Kriya Yoga, founding a school at Ranchi and other achievements in social and spiritual life. Following this is a deep dive into the ethos of his Guru lineage and its development. Also, this section dwells on his travel abroad to speak and propagate Spirituality, ending with his establishment of his Ashram and Self Realisation Foundation in California, USA. Conclusion: The book is a fascinating read for two reasons. First, it shines a light on the spiritual base of India, as it existed at the turn of the century. Tragically, this base has been deeply eroded and exists in very few placed. Secondly, the book is able to motivate one to delve into spirituality and Yoga. Despite its age, the principles of spirituality are still relevant and this book exemplifies this eternal message of the soul. The book is crisp, with very little meandering. In fact, as a personal autobiography, it is an engaging, absorbing and delightful book to read. [...] Read more...
Review of Patanjali Yoga Sutra by Swami Prabhavananda
Review of Patanjali Yoga Sutra by Swami PrabhavanandaReview of Patanjali Yoga Sutra by Swami Prabhavananda Patanjali (around 400 BCE) – Author of Patanjali Yoga Sutra Patanjali Yoga Sutra by Swami Prabhavananda is a translation of a seminal work on Raja Yoga of Guru Patanjali. However, Swami Patanjali is a source of much speculation. Some say that he is also the author of a very respected book on Sanskrit grammar while others dispute this. Thus, it is possible that the Patanjali who wrote the book on grammar is different from the one who wrote on Yoga.  This book or sutra (strand of verses) on Raja Yoga is split into 4 major chapters – first on liberation, second on practice, third on manifestation and fourth on isolation. The old Sanskrit of the book makes translation and understanding difficult. Also, the numerous translations have  added to the confusion, so one should be careful during interpretation of the verses. However, Patanjali Yoga Sutras are a “Must Read”for anyone seriously interested in progressing on RajaYoga. Swami Prabhavananda (December 26, 1893 – July 4, 1976) Swami Prabhavananda was born in India and joined the Ramakrishna Mutt after completing his graduation from Kolkatta University. After initiation, he moved to USA in 1923 to set up ashrams there. Under his administration, the Vedanta Society grew to be the largest such society in the West. His translation of the Yoga sutras can be described as expansive. Swami Prabhavananda tends to expand the translation of the verses into related aspects of philosophy, sometimes not a directly related to the verse. So, one ends up reading the Sutras as an extension of Swami Prabhavananda’s own experiences with the truth; not necessarily as a direct translation of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. However, the commentaries are earthy and simple. So whether the book can be termed an accurate representation of the Patanjali Yoga Sutra or not, it a short, simple and effective primer on Yoga. Review by Vishwanath Iyer [...] Read more...
Review of Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Svatmarama
Review of Hatha Yoga Pradipika by SvatmaramaReview of Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Svatmarama (printed by The Adyar Library and Research Center). Svatmarama was 15th or 16th Century Yoga master. Hatha Yoga Pradipika was written by Svatmarama, a disciple of Gorakshanath, in turn a disciple of Matsendranath. The basis of the lineage is the Siddha tradition which is an esoteric and ancient branch of Shaivism. The Hatha Yoga Pradeepika is a very lucid text book on Hatha Yoga. It is split into 4 chapters; the first is on asana, second on pranayama, third on mudras and fourth on samadhi. The reader is immediately struck by the clarity of approach in dealing with the subject. The document is very clear on its objectives and the path a practitioner should take to reach liberation. One will conclude after reading the Hatha Yoga Pradipika is that liberation is a straightforward action. For example, one does not need to know many asanas and pranayama etc, to attain liberation. It only requires focus, discipline and regular effort. Additionally, Svatmarama constantly espouses the precedence of practice and experience over theory or discussion. Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Adyar Library Adyar Library and research centre has done the translation of Hatha Yoga Pradipika in a very interesting manner. The book is a collaboration by many, there is a Jyotsna (Sanskrit explanation) by Brahmananda and an English translation of Srinivasa Iyengar by Tookaram Tatya. Despite the multiple collaboration, the book is excellently compiled and integrated. However, the lack of translation of individual words make it difficult for a reader to arrive at his own conclusions.  For anyone with an interest in Yoga, this book is mandatory. Indeed, it is well written. Additionally, where required and in certain places, the book explains the socio-cultural background of India which makes understanding easy. Conclusion – This book is a “Must Read” for all Yoga enthusiasts. However, the book also highlights the deep divide between the ideals of Hatha Yoga and current yoga practices. [...] Read more...
The Bhagavad Gita by Swami Chidbhavananda
The Bhagavad Gita by Swami ChidbhavanandaThe Bhagavad Gita by Swami Chidbhavananda Swami Chidbhavananda (11 March 1898 – 16 November 1985)  The Bhagavad Gita by Swami Chidbhavananda is a scholarly work on the Bhagavad Gita. Swami Chidbhavananda was born as Chinnu near Coimbatore, India. Influenced by Swami Vivekananda at an early age, he joined Ramakrishna Mission at Belur, Kolkatta. His Guru was Swami Shivananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Obeying his Guru, he established an ashram and educational institution at Ooty, in South India . Swami Chidbhavanada was also an author, writing in English and Tamil. The Bhagavad Gita by Chidbhavananda is possibly the most secular translation of this book available so far. It is certainly, one of the most comprehensive books on the subject. The book’s index is very complete, detailing the topics that follow in each chapter. Additionally, the index also provides cross-referencing to various parts of the book. 1- Introduction to The Bhagavad Gita by Chidbhavananda: In this section, Swami Chidbhavananda introduces the reader to the Bhagavad Gita in a unique way. He cross-references the Gita with other sacred texts so as to make the reading appeal to a wider, secular audience. He then brings the reader’s attention to the relevance of the Bhagavad Gita in the Hindu frame of existence, as prasthaanatrayam (that which answers 3 questions). The setting of Bhagavad Gita is the battlefield at Kurukshetra as depicted in the epic, Mahabharata. The Bhagawat Gita is a dialogue between Sri Krishna, the charioteer and Arjuna, the warrior. Sri Krishna, using a question and answer method explains the difficult logic of yoga and this has been enunciated out by Swami Chidbhavananda. In fact, Swami Chidbhavananda tries to retain the divinity in the existence and message of Sri Krishna in his translation.   This is followed by the relevance of the workbook to normal living and problem solving. Most noteworthy is the effort to link the various concepts that make Sanatana Dharma a cohesive platform for spiritual development. 2- The Bhagavad Gita by Swami Chidbhavananda The Bhagawad Gita may be described as a book of intertwined dialogues – there are 2 dialogues; one between Sanjaya and Dhritrashtra, the blind Kaurava king and the other, a subset of the first dialogue, between Sri Krishna and Arjuna. So, the Bhagavad Geeta is a dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna recounted to the blind king Drithrashtra by Sanjaya. The book is divided into 18 chapters, each is a form of Yoga. Swami Chidbhavananda has structured his work with the Shloka or verse coming first, followed by the literal translation, then his interpretation of the verse along with a commentary followed finally by a recount of Swami Ramakrishna or Vivekananda views on the subject. This makes the translation very comprehensive. Finally, the book ends with the greatness of the Gita and an index. The book is voluminous. Reading this book will require patience, persistence and time. Also, the text is slightly old fashioned and there are repetitions of concepts and practices. However, the book is clear in its translation and allows the reader to flex in his thinking to suit current thinking and practices. Therefore, anyone wishing to develop spiritually will find this book useful as it is universal in approach and simple to understand . Conclusion: This book is recommended for anyone who has passed the first flush of youth and now wishes to find direction in life. [...] Read more...
Performance code of India – the ancient law of “Ṛtā”
Performance code of India – the ancient law of “Ṛtā”School of Yoga explains performance code (ṛtā) of Bhārat. Who is a perfect / supreme person, also known as puruṣottama? The performance code of ancient Bhārat was a simple but complete system which conditioned society and the individual into a cohesive lifestyle system called “dharma”. The concept is centered around the hypothesis that excellence occurs when a society and individual perform close to their natural state of conditioning or dharma.   This performance code was called ṛtā and a person who embodied this code was called a perfect or supreme person (puruṣottama). As a result, ancient Bhārat succeeded in becoming a high performing society and a center of development and progress.  Management and the performance code of Bhārat or ṛtā. Modern management science today is a derivation of western society. This is based on west’s perception of society, the individual, it’s industrial revolution, colonial experience, wars and religion. Consequently, in the ascendant narrative of this western philosophy, the ancient and successful management concept performance code (ṛtā) of Bhārat, which had been practiced for centuries by the ancient Bhārat was lost. Introduction to the performance code of Bhārat or ṛtā. During the Trojan wars (around 1000 BC), the hero Achilles refused to fight in the early days on account of wrongdoing by King Agamemnon, saying that he faulted the Law of arête. The ancient Greeks called this their Law of excellence; the definition being that a man or woman of Arête was a person of the highest effectiveness, using all their capabilities to achieve tangible results. Arête is a cognate of Sanskrit “ṛtā”, a cognate of the Greek word “arête”, Persian word “asa” which, in Avestan means righteousness and the Latin word “ariete” which means battering ram – which breaks down obstacles and ensures effectiveness of purpose, which can translate to the yoga word, single-pointed focus (ekāgratā). Obviously, the old world lived by a common, well-defined and codified ideal of performance, which modern civilisation has found unfashionable. When the Aryans entered Bhārat around 4000 BC, they codified the performance concept or ṛtā. Over the next 2000 years, they honed and integrated the concept into a system and practice which defined their existence or dharma. As a result, ṛtā was woven into the fabric of ancient Bhārat’s society at a societal as well as personal level. Concept of ṛtā. The basis of ṛtā comes from the assumption that performance is generated only from sacrifice or yajñá.  Yajñá was considered to have three components; Truth or satya – the objective of the sacrifice, the focus. The sacrifice itself or homā Communication or vāc – that critical component, which kept the sacrifice together and enabled achievement of the objective. Elements of the performance code of Bhārat or ṛtā 1-     Truth, vision, or objective (satya) The first component of ṛtā is determining the goal, recognising what needs to be done and why. Once a person is able to discriminate between truth and perception, clarity of goal is achieved and effort is maximised to achieve the goal. First and foremost, all projects need a sponsor. A sponsor is one who determines the need, provides the resources and defines the system.  The sponsor is called yajamān (the sponsor of the sacrifice) in ṛtā.  Example: In the case of a football team, the yajamān or sponsor is one who pays the bills and under whose colours the team plays. The yajamān decides where league the team shall play. Obviously, if the estimation is incorrect, the team will either lose or not play to its full potential. 2-      The sacrifice itself (homā) Once the yajamān decides on the activity to be performed, the execution of the sacrifice can start… Appointment of a manager (guru):  Often, the sponsor or yajamān would not have the capability or capacity to manage the activity directly. The sensible thing to do would be to appoint someone who has the requisite experience and expertise – a guru. A guru can be defined as “the weighty one or anchor” or “he that sheds light on darkness”. Today, such an individual might be called SME (Subject Matter Expert). Clearly, the quality of outcome would depend on the competence of the guru who would need to know how to manage a project or sacrifice (ṛtā). Example: Continuing with the above example, once the sponsor or yajamān forms a football team, the key to its success of the team would be the quality and capability of the Team Manager or Coach. The homa process. Making a commitment (saṅkalpa) – taking the vow. Firstly, the sponsor (yajamān) and guru would need to bring the members together and explain to them, the objectives of the activity (yajñá). This will bring the team members into alignment with the goal and enable focus for a successful completion of the activity. Conversion from intent to outcome (āgama)– conversion technique. Once the team has been selected and aligned to the goal, the conversion of intent to outcome requires the following inputs; Methodology, process or skill-sets or śāstra (process manual) – The coach of any football team should know football rules, strategy, competitive assessment, weather, health and fitness etc. Obviously, all these skill-sets, including specialist skills, training and development should also be resident in the team to make it effective. Resources or (dravyam) – No activity can be completed without adequate resources, these are called dravyam (components) – right resource, tools and capital required to perform the sacrifice. For a football team, this is – right players for each position, a practice location, administration facilities, technology support etc. The activity itself or (agni),  fire or thermodynamic transformation – the moment of truth occurs when the activity is performing and the outcomes become visible. In the case of football, this is the match! The match decides if the integration of all the elements has worked. For instance, whether the sponsor has set the correct goals and provided proper resources as requested by the coach. Similarly, whether the coach has recruited and trained the correct team, estimated the opposition or set the correct strategy. Most importantly, whether the assumptions and hard work lead to victory or achievement of the goals. Sharing the prize or prasāda (fruits of the sacrifice) – the successful team shares the fruits of a successful completion of the activity. This could be credits, profits etc. In the case of the football match, this could mean bonuses, advertising contracts etc. Thanksgiving or kāyenavacha – The activity is completed by the sponsor bringing the team together and thanking them for supporting the successful completion of the activity. 3-     Communication or vac. Communication is the lifeblood of any activity. Instructions cannot be passed and feedback cannot be received without communication. Clearly, no activity can be successful if there is a breakdown in communication between the team members. This consists of; Communication between the sponsor or yajamān and the officiating manager or guru (the officiator of the sacrifice) on the intent of the sacrifice and periodic appraisal of progress. Communication between the manager or guru and the various participants of the activity. This includes recruitment, training, performance monitoring and remuneration of team members. Ṛtā acts at many levels. Firstly, between the yajamān engaged a guru. Next, the guru became the yejaman for the next level and this continued until finally, there was no one left to instruct. This is very similar to today’s organisational structure.  Integration of ṛtā into society. The Aryans realised that quality and motivation had to be conditioned into every activity and individual for ensuring performance. These elements had to be made the highest ideals worth aspiring for, the existential lifeblood or dharma of their society. Accordingly, they gave ṛtā a mythical status and equated it with a role model of impeccable standing – the Sun. Ṛtā was equated with the Sun’s rays or uṣas to make it the part of their existence dharma (existential conditioning). Ṛtā made mythical. Ṛtā is derived from the syllable “hr” which means dynamism, vibrancy, seasoning and ownership. The derived noun “hrtam” means order, rule or divine law. To make ṛtā an unassailable concept, the aryas equated it with divinity. The deity – deva is Savitā Savitā is the life-giving attributes of the Sun, its excellence – light, heat etc. Since this is so central to life, alignment of all activities to this deity ensured ṛtā was considered sacred and performed with adequate quality and attention to detail.  Example: A country is a mythical concept, and the deity of many countries is an individual or saint – like Saint George for England, Uncle Sam for USA etc. As a matter of fact, all countries universally worship their flag, and this can be called a deity. The prayer – sandhyāvandana Sandhyāvandana meaning veneration of twilight (daybreak, noon – when the sun crossed overhead and dusk).  Example: In the case of the country, this might be the National Anthem. The sandhyāvandana performs many roles; at a personal level, it enforces an element of discipline in the individual. sandhyāvandana includes prāṇāyāma and meditation; prāṇāyāma ensures equalisation of left-right brain thinking and control over emotions (vairāgyam), while meditation reduces stress and improves the individual’s situational awareness (prajñā). This ensures that the person is consistently operating at peak performance. The mantra or meter – gāyatrī-mantra.    The gāyatrī-mantra is a eulogy to the Sun. The meter requires focus to be chanted correctly. This ensures filtering out of extraneous sounds and increases concentration, ability to handle stress and enhances situational awareness. For this reason, the gāyatrī-mantra is embedded into the sandhyāvandana, so when sandhyāvandana is practiced every day, the person’s ṛtā automatically increases. The exercise – sūryanamaskāra (Sun-salutation). This is an all-round exercise which ensures overall physical fitness and agility of the practitioner.  Example: In any consultancy, the customer is the sponsor. He sets the objective, brings the resources and appoints the Project Manager who is the expert in the subject. The consultant defines the parameters of the activity, team skills & composition, training, resources, time lines etc. and gets the approval of the sponsor. The team then comes together and the manager, along with the sponsor explain the activity objectives and methodology for completion. As a result, everybody is aligned to the outcome. Consequently, the manager and sponsor supervise the completion of the activity. Afterwards, the team is rewarded with bonuses and appreciation on successful completion of the project. Finally, the team finally assembles for thanksgiving by the sponsor and project manager. The above example is a classic everyday occurrence and demonstrates how ṛtā can be an effective management tool to tackle normal management or personal development activity. Conclusion: In conclusion, by codifying ṛtā, the ancient Indians institutionalised and integrated purpose, quality and commitment to every activity. Even today, 6000 years on, the principle of ṛtā is still the foundation of all human activity, reinforcing the sagacity of the ancient ancestors of India.  School of Yoga thanks Pijus Kanti Pal and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their contribution, given below, The root word or dhātu of ṛtā is ऋत. When ऋत is used as the adjective of a noun, in that case, it takes the gender of that particular noun. नोक्तपूर्वं मया क्षुद्रमश्लीलं वा कदाचन ।  ऋता ब्रह्मसुता सा मे सत्या देवी सरस्वती ॥१०॥ महाभारतम्-12-शांतिपर्व-352  जयस्तु सुश्रुताज्जज्ञे जयात्तु विजयोऽभवत् । विजयस्य ऋतः पुत्रः ऋतस्य सुनयः सुतः ॥ ५८ ॥ गरुडपुराणम्/आचारकाण्डः/अध्यायः १३८ यथा, शतपथब्राह्मणे । “ब्रह्म वा ऋतं ब्रह्म हि मित्रो ब्रह्म ऋतं ब्रह्म एवायुः” ॥ परब्रह्म । यथा, श्रुतिः । “ऋतमेकाक्षरं ब्रह्म” ॥ सत्याचारः । यथा, ऋग्वेदे । १ । १३७ । २ । But when we want to use ऋत as a noun for a particular concept of excellence or right or truth, in that case, that is neuter gender. In Sanskrit, ऋतम् and in English, only the root word ऋत are used. In addition, some texts refer ऋतः as the Sun. So, in that case, it is noun and the root word is ऋत (ṛta and not ṛtā).  Encyclopedia (Śabdakalpadrumaḥ)  Derivation and some relevant connotations of the word ऋत from the Encyclopedia Śabdakalpadrumaḥ Derivation – ऋ (धातु/verb) + क्त (प्रत्यय/suffix) = ऋत उञ्छशिलम्। यथा– “ऋतामृताभ्यां जीवेत्तु मृतेन प्रमृतेन वा ।  सत्यानृताभ्यामपि वा न श्ववृत्त्या कदाचन ॥  ऋतमुञ्छशिलं ज्ञेयममृतं स्यादयाचितम् । मृतन्तु याचितं भैक्षं प्रमृतं कर्षणं स्मृतम्” ॥ मनुः ।  ४ । ४ — ५ ॥     जलम्। यथा–  “तन्म  ऋतं पातु शतशारदाय” । ऋग्वेदे । ७ । १०१ । ६ । “ऋतमुदकम्” । इति  भाष्यम् ॥ सत्यं। यथा–  “साक्ष्येऽनृतं वदन् पाशैर्बध्यते वारुणैर्भृशम् ।  “विवशः शतमाजातीस्तस्मात् साक्ष्यं वदेदृतम्” ॥ मनुः ।  ८ । ८२ ।   कर्म्मफलं। यथा–  “ऋतं पिवन्तौ सुकृतस्य लोके” । इति श्रुतिः ॥ पुं सूर्य्यः । यथा–  “त्वेति सादयति स यदाहऽर्तायुभ्यां त्वेति ब्रह्म वा ऋतं ब्रह्म हि मित्रो ब्रह्मो ह्यृतं वरुण एवायुः संवत्सरो हि वरुणः संवत्सर आयुस्तस्मादाहैष ते योनिर्ऋतायुभ्यां त्वेति -” ॥  शतपथब्राह्मणे ४.१.४.१० परब्रह्म। यथा– श्रुतिः । “ऋतमेकाक्षरं ब्रह्म” ॥  सत्याचारः। यथा–  “सुतो मित्राय वरुणाय पीतये चारूरृताय  पीतये” ॥ ऋग्वेदे । १ । १३७ । २ ।   “ऋताय सत्याचाराय” । इति दयानन्दभाष्यम् ॥ यज्ञः। यथा–  “ऋतचिद्धि सत्यम्” । ऋग्वेदे । १ । १४५ । ५ । Dictionary from Vaman Apte: ऋत r̥ta a.  1 Proper, right. -2 Honest, true; सर्वमेतदृतं मन्ये यन्मां वदसि केशव Bg.10.14; Ms.8.82. -3 Worshipped, respected. -4 Bright, luminous (दीप्त) -5 Gone, risen, moved, affected by; सुखेन ऋतः = सुखार्तः ऋते च तृतीयासमासे Vārt. on P.VI.1.89; so दुःखः˚, काम˚. -तम् ind. Rightly, properly. -तः 1 A sacrifice. -2 The sun (n. also). -तम् (Not usually found in classical literature) 1 A fixed or settled rule, law (religious). -2 Sacred custom, pious action. यस्तनोति सतां सेतुमृतेनामृतयोनिना Mb.12.47.49. -3 Divine law, divine truth. -4 Absolution. मर्त्यानामृतमिच्छताम् Bhāg.1.16.7. -5 Water; सत्यं त्वा ऋतेन परिषिञ्चामि. -6 Truth (in general), right; ऋतं वदिष्यामि T. Up.1.1.1. ऋतानृते Ms.1.29, 2.52,8.61,104. -7 Truth (personified as an object of worship; in later Sanskrit regarded as a child of Dharma). -8 Livelihood by picking or gleaning grains in a field (as opposed to the cultivation of ground); ऋतमुञ्च्छशिलं वृत्तम् Ms.4.4. -9 The fruit of an action; एकं चक्रं वर्तते द्वादशारं षण्णाभिमेकाक्षमृतस्य धारणम् Mb.1.3.62. -10 Agreeable speech; ऋतं च सूनृता वाणी कविभिः परिकीर्तिता Bhāg.11.19.38. -11 N. of an Āditya. -12 The Supreme Spirit. (In the Vedas ऋत is usually interpreted by Sāyaṇa to mean ‘water’, ‘sun’ or ‘sacrifice’, where European scholars take it in the sense of ‘divine truth’, ‘faith’ &c.). -Comp. -जा, -जात a. Ved. 1 of a true nature, sprung from sacred truth; अब्जा गोजा ऋतजा अद्रिजा ऋतम् Rv.4.40.5. -2 Well-made, excellent; Rv.3.58.8. [...] Read more...
Concentration and Meditation by Swami Sivananda
Concentration and Meditation by Swami SivanandaReview of Concentration and Meditation by Swami Sivananda Swami Sivananda (8 September 1887 – 14 July 1963) or Swami Sivananda Saraswati, the author of Concentration and Meditation, was a doctor turned spiritual teacher and yogi. He founded “The Divine Life Society” and “The Sivananda Ashram”. He has written many books, but one of his best books is Concentration and Meditation.  This is a simple manual on how to achieve success in “Dhyana” and “Dharana”. First, the book starts with the need for control of behaviour. Then, it goes straight into the theory and practice of concentration. Next, Swami Sivananda also explains some philosohical and spiritual concepts which he intersperses with practical lessons for implementation. Additionally, there is special emphasis on integrating the science of meditation with ancient Indian spiritual ethos. This automatically gives depth to the book and an and assured entry into the body of books on Yoga. Swami Sivananda next addresses similarities ad differences concentration and meditation. Concentration is the ability to bring focus of attention to a single point while meditation is the ability to mold awareness to ones sense of Identity. So, this means that while concentration is a skill which does not require spiritual maturity, meditation is a spiritual activity which requires increased awareness. The book goes into many small details on the practice and requirements of meditation. Often, it integrates various elements of Yoga and Indian spiritual scriptures with practices for a cohesive outcome. Next, Swami Sivananda moves from practice to various experiences, dangers, and precautions which a practitioner should confront when practicing meditation. Finally, there is a question-answer section which addresses the most common doubts on the subject. Lastly, the final chapters are devoted to the mystical evolution and experience of Samadhi. Conclusion There is no doubt that Swami Sivananda could not have written with such accuracy without personal experience. There is also ample evidence that many students benefited from Swami Sivananda and reached great mystical levels. Unfortunately, Swami Sivananda sometimes repeats concepts and practices. Also, the english is written in the style of the 1950’s. This could make the book a little tedious, boring or pedantic. However, at no time is there any confusion on the path to be taken – collect the scattered thoughts, remove distraction, inertia or laziness, practice attention and single pointed attention, live an ethical life, do not be afraid at the various experience during practice and you will reach Samadhi. This book is sure to motivate one to reach the realm of the mystics. [...] Read more...
A Search in Secret India by Paul Brunton
A Search in Secret India by Paul BruntonReview of A Search in Secret India by Paul Brunton Paul Brunton (21 October 1898 – 27 July 1981) wrote A Search in Secret India about his search for a Spiritual Guru, Yogi or guide in India. Paul Brunton was a theosophist, spiritualist and writer. He was educated at St. George’s College and got his doctorate in Philosophy from Mc.Kinley – Roosevelt College, USA. He fought the World War 1 in the Tank Corps. Post war, after a brief stint as a bookseller and journalist, he came to India in 1931 in search of a Guru or Master. This brought him in contact with many Yogi’s and the book is about that experience. The book – Search in Secret India… A Search in Secret India is about his search for a meaning to life. It was published in 1934. The book can be broadly divided into four sections. The first section deals with Brunton’s early encounter with Yoga in the UK. Following this is a section on the circumstances which increased his interest in the subject and the esoteric world of yoga and spiritualism. The book then moves into the search, starting with an encounter with an Egyptian, Mahmoud Bey in Mumbai. This is followed by a meeting with Meher Baba, followed by many yogi’s, Guru’s, teachers and spiritual leaders. The book then touches his meetings with some of India’s most significant spiritual leaders – Shankaracharya of Kanchi – Paramacharya Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, Ramana Maharishi, Mahendranath Gupta – a disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vishuddhananda and Sahabji Maharaj. Subsequently, there is the frustration and helplessness at having spent so much time and money without achieving anything. Finally, there is deliverance. Brunton has presented his experience dramatically. He leaves the reader with a feeling that maybe, he was to find his solution in India. Conclusion: For people wishing to understand the ancient Indian yoga and spiritual environment until the mid 1930’s, this book is a precious gift. Additionally, the faint colonial haughtier and old fashioned English would only add to the exotic appeal of the book. At the end, as one comes back to reality, there is a nagging feeling that India has lost a valuable heritage.  [...] Read more...
Yogic Physical Culture by Yogacharya Sundaram
Yogic Physical Culture by Yogacharya SundaramYogic Physical Culture by Yogacharya S. Sundaram Review of Yogic Physical Culture (The secret of Happiness) by Yogacharya S. Sundaram by Vishwanath Iyer. Published by The Yoga Publishing House, (A Unit of GIRINATH ABR CHARITABLE TRUST) “Girikripa” 462 Cross-cut Road, Coimbatore – 641 012. This is the first manual on Yoga and asana ever published, first published in 1928. This comprehensive manual explains, not just asana but also the background of Yoga and its relevance to Indian culture and ethos. The book highlights issues and concerns of Indian society of the 1920 and how practice of yoga can impact health and well-being.  The book – Yogic Physical Culture… First, the book covers the basics of the practice of asana and pranayama, including aspects such as location dress, food etc. Next, it provides detailed instructions for some 17 asanas which Yogacharya Sundaram considers critical and adequate for daily usage.  Each asana is explained in detail, covering its impact on the body’s muscular, digestive, circulatory, nervous and endocrine system. Also, the detailing includes instruction for practice of the asana, health benefits and precautions to be taken, all this supported by photographs. The use of appropriate terminology shows that Sundaram must have conducted enormous research to align medicine, anatomy and physiology with practice of asana. Sundaram has presented intermediate poses in addition to the final poses and this makes the manual easy to use. So, the practitioner can comprehend the process and final aspiration pose. The level of proficiency exhibited in the photos is very high. In fact, one is struck by a sense of inferiority complex at the perfection of the poses. Significantly, Sundaram has devoted an entire chapter to women, including photos of ladies performing asana’s in Indian sarees. This demonstrates his sagacity and determination to make this practice universally applicable in a conservative society struggling under colonial rule. Finally, Sundaram has not confined the book to asana alone. He has paid adequate attention to bandhas (holding postures), Kriyas (moving poses) and other tertiary asanas. Conclusion This book explains everything that one needs to know in order to become proficient in yoga. Undoubtedly, anyone interested in serious asana practice must have this book in their library. The only aspect which may turn the reader away is the old fashioned style of writing which was the vogue in 1920’s. Finally, the level of proficiency exhibited in the book on the subject of Yoga, asana and pranayama speaks highly of the authors interest, sagacity, effort and commitment to the subject. This is commendable as Sundaram was only 27 when he published the book. [...] Read more...
The Path of Modern Yoga by Elliot Goldberg
The Path of Modern Yoga by Elliot GoldbergThe Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice  The path of Modern Yoga by Elliott Goldberg © 2016 Inner Traditions. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com  In The Path of Modern Yoga, Elliott Goldberg shows how the sacred discipline of yoga was transformed in the early 20th century into a health and fitness regimen for middle-class Indians by giving prominence to the yogic postures traditionally used only as preparatory exercises for seated meditation. Goldberg tells this sweeping story of modern yoga through the remarkable lives and accomplishments of 11 key figures: six Indian yogis (Sri Yogendra, Swami Kuvalayananda, S. Sundaram, T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, and B. K. S. Iyengar). Additionally, there is an Indian bodybuilder (K. V. Iyer), a rajah (Bhavanarao Pant Pratinidhi) and an American-born British journalist (Louise Morgan). Finally, an Indian diplomat (Apa Pant), and a Russian-born yogi trained in India (Indra Devi) are mentioned. Analysis of Modern Yoga (the book) The author places their achievements within the context of the pre–independence Hindu nationalism movement in India. He also takes into cognisance Western trends as the physical culture movement and the commodification of exercise. Additionally, factors include, 19th-century New Age religion, jazz age popular entertainment, and the quest for youth and beauty. This exploration of influence reveals the multitude of diverse aspects that have shaped yoga today. Goldberg’s book is a result of more than 10 years of research from rare primary sources as well as engaging with contemporary yoga scholarship. Undoubtedly, Goldberg presents an original, authoritative, provocative, and illuminating interpretation of the history of modern yoga. The only criticism which one might offer are; 1- The author makes personal observations about the heroes of Yoga which may be erroneous. These people lived in the early 1900’s when India was groaning under the yoke of colonial British rule. Also, they were mired in poverty, illiteracy and social stagnation. Hence, Goldberg’s assumptions have a great chance of being erroneous. 2- Goldberg mixes yoga with western form of physical fitness which is mostly centered around body building. That’s like mixing oil and water. Though the intent is clean, the outcome is often confusing.  3- Finally, Goldberg tries to establishes that far from corrupting the sacred tradition, the emphasis on the moving body in yoga allows for the creation of an embodied spiritual practice. This is unfortunate because, in the end, spiritual progress in Yoga requires Samadhi. So, while the arguments may appeal to Western readers, they actually are erroneous. All of the above writing strategies could have been avoided without reducing the impact of the book.  Conclusion: One can safely say that those interested in understanding how this ancient spiritual practice got its modern form will find this book an interersting read. [...] Read more...
Breath Control – Prāṇāyāma physiology
Breath Control – Prāṇāyāma physiologySchool of Yoga explains Breath Control – prāṇāyāma physiology Breathing is not just the source of life; it is also the source of health and happiness; The incoming breath is the source of oxygen which is carried by the blood to all organs. This rejuvenates tissues and optimises the oxidation process within the body. The outgoing breath removes carbon dioxide and water vapour, removing toxins and keeping the mucous balance in the lungs.  The pace of breathing changes with stress levels. When confronted with danger, our breathing becomes rapid and shallow to compensate for enhanced awareness and increased demand for oxygen from muscles involved in the response.  Finally, the balance in breathing between left and right nostrils determines the balance between left and right brain activity which affects analytical and creativity capability and output of the person.  Yes, breathing is a critical aspect of life and living and prāṇāyāma is the science of regulating it. School of Yoga explains – Breathing action… We breathe without noticing it. It is an involuntary action, performed without us being conscious of it. During breathing-in, we expand the chest so that the lungs admit air from the atmosphere. The diaphragm which forms the base of the thoracic cavity moves down. Consequently, this causes negative pressure within the lungs, leading to air being drawn through the mouth and nostrils into the wind pipe to reach the lungs. Similarly, during exhalation, the abdominal muscles contract, squeezing the abdominal viscera against the diaphragm. When the diaphragm is pushed up, lungs get compressed which forces air which is now filled with carbon dioxide and water vapour out of the body through the nostrils. School of Yoga explains – Lung Capacity In normal sedentary breathing, lungs do not get completely filled or emptied in each respiratory cycle. In fact, lungs have enormous reserve capacity and some of these aspects are; In each normal cycle of inhalation and exhalation, about 500 ml. of air is moved. During exhalation, a further measure of one litre (1000 ml) of air can be forced out. The lungs are not fully emptied even at this stage and still hold about 1200 ml. of air. This is called residual volume and this is air that cannot be forced out of the lungs. The greatest volume of air that can be taken in is called aspiratory capacity and this is about 3500 ml. After such an inhalation, the lungs hold nearly five litres (5000 ml) of air, and this is called total lung capacity. It is the addition of residual volume (1200 mi) and aspiratory volume (3500 ml). The maximum amount of air that a person can draw out after taking a deep breath is called vital capacity and it gives information about the strength of the respiratory muscles, the ability of the lungs and size of the thoracic cage. School of Yoga explains – Breathing physiology: Atmospheric air entering the lungs contains roughly 79% nitrogen, 20% oxygen, and traces of carbon dioxide. Out of these, only oxygen is used by the body. In exchange, the body gives up carbon dioxide and water vapour.  The wind pipe (trachea) divides into two bronchi. Each bronchus enters the lung on its side and divides itself into several branches called bronchioles. The bronchioles further divide and sub-divide themselves into fine terminal branches, and these terminate into respiratory bronchioles that hold minute air sacks called alveoli. Alveoli have a very thin lining surrounded by thin-walled capillaries that facilitate exchange of gases. Though each alveolus is a very small microscopic structure, the number of alveoli in the lungs is enormous, providing an area of almost 50 square meters for exchange of gases. The process of exchange of gases in the alveoli to and from the blood surrounding it is called diffusion. Oxygen moves from the air to the blood and is absorbed by the haemoglobin in the blood while carbon dioxide and water vapor diffuse from the blood to the alveolar air. Absorption of oxygen and elimination of carbon dioxide and water vapor is the essence of respiration. This process goes on continuously in us as long as we live, without requiring our attention. The body changes various elements of respiration to suit the requirements of the body and these changes are governed by the nervous system. School of Yoga explains – need for breathing! Every living tissue and cell requires a constant supply of energy to live. This energy is stored in the molecules of substances such as glucose, fructose, fatty acids, and amino acids which are the end products of the process of digestion of food which we eat. Energy is released by the body through a process called oxidation a process that uses oxygen. So, when there is no oxygen, the process of release of energy comes to a halt and results in the death of that tissue. It will be observed that in any fight/flight situation, such as while taking a long or high jump, or lifting a heavy weight etc., we automatically stop the breath. Breathing is also stopped when there is a sudden shock and when there is complete absorption of the mind in something interesting. This occurs because of intensity of focus. Also, while we are resting, breathing automatically slows down, but when there is physical activity and increased need of oxygen, breathing automatically becomes faster and deeper. Therefore, there is a definite linkage between breathing and the psychosomatic functioning of the body. Disciplining the breathing process means increased absorption of oxygen & greater efficiency of the lungs. Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, respiration Points to Ponder on breathing: Do you practice any form of aerobic breathing? What is your experience? Do you prepare yourself before starting exercises? What are the benefits you have experienced? Comment on breathing and health. Breathing and balanced thinking. What changes to your breathing have you have observed when you are stressed. 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Respiration dynamics – Converting reflex into conscious
Respiration dynamics – Converting reflex into consciousSchool of Yoga explains respiration dynamics – Converting a reflex action into a conscious one Prāṇāyāma (prāṇa = motility or breath + ayāma = stretching/ restraint) is that aspect of respiration dynamics which focuses on converting breathing from a reflex action to conscious action. The movement of breath is kinaesthetic and can be traced as it moves in and out of the body. Therefore, awareness can be enhanced by following the course of breath at various points, such as nostril, nasal cavity, tongue, throat, chest, stomach, pubis or anus. When this is done, there is increased awareness and control over the breath (pranayama). Also, this focus activates the relevant cakras and result in improved functioning of the organs in that area. Respiration dynamics explores the nuances of the practice; School of Yoga explains – Physiology (parts of the body associated with prāṇāyāma); Nostril – The focus is on awareness of incoming and outgoing breath at the tip of the nostril. Roof of the nasal cavity – The olfactory bulb at the roof of the nasal cavity is closest to the amygdale, pineal, pituitary, hypothalamus glands and brain stem. Awareness of the breath at this place helps in management of stress. Throat – Awareness of breath as it moves past the throat which has the thyroid, parathyroid, pharynx and larynx helps control fear and the endocrine organs. Thoracic – The thoracic cavity encloses the heart, lungs, trachea and diaphragm, all enclosed in the rib cage.  Awareness (prajñā) should be on the breath moving at the sternum. This gives the following benefits; It increases the volumetric efficiency of the lungs. As heart pumps de-oxygenated blood to the lungs, brings back blood pregnant with oxygen and then pumps it to the rest of the body, this area increases oxygen content in the blood. There is reduced stress and regulation of blood pressure. The diaphragm acts like bellows, pulling in oxygenated air and throwing out exhausted air. The increased oxygen reduces number of destructive free radicals, thereby increasing tissue health. Abdominal – The abdominal cavity holds multiple organs associated with digestion, reproduction and waste disposal. All of these are enclosed in the peritoneum which is itself enclosed within the abdominal wall. When the peritoneum and abdominal wall are exerted in breathing, the following advantages are obtained; During complete inhalation, the abdomen moves downwards until the maximum deflection of the diaphragm. This increases the volumetric efficiency of the lungs. The practice of prāṇāyāma acts as a massage of the abdominal organs with each other. Consequently, there is increased blood supply to all digestive organs. As a result, there is regeneration of all digestive organ tissue, improved peristalsis and evacuation, improved endocrine functioning and better absorption of nutrients. This increases activity of samāna-vāyu and movement of prāṇa through the maṇipūra-cakra. Awareness of the breath at the periphery of the bottom of the abdomen enhances activity of prāṇa through the mūl̄adhāra and svādhiṣṭhāna-chakra.  School of Yoga explans – Respiration and the abdominal cakras : All the abdominal organs are placed in a loose structure within the peritoneum. So, prāṇāyāma impacts health of the abdominal organs significantly. The significant points of the peritoneum impacted are; A – The peritoneum is anchored at the bottom of the abdomen, between the anus and genitals, called rectovaginal excavation. This is the location of the mūl̄adhāra-chakra. B – Also, the peritoneum is anchored behind the pubis at a location called the uterovesical excavation. This is also the location of the svādhiṣṭhāna-chakra.  C- The peritoneum flexes most at the centre of the abdomen or navel. This location is called maṇipūra. School of Yoga explains – types of respiration; Normal – This breathing is a reflex action; it is un-noticed by us. When we are stressed or emotionally disturbed, it is erratic, shallow and rapid and calm when we are at rest. Shallow breathing – this is a conditioned type of breathing. The breath is taken only till it reaches the lungs and movement of both, the ribcage and abdomen is minimum. Rapid breathing – this is a type of conditioned breathing where the diaphragm is oscillated rapidly for quick ingestion and exhalation of breath. The process does not allow adequate time for complete oxygen transfer, but the quick chest and diaphragm movement increases blood supply to the entire area, increasing absorption capability. Rapid movement increases aspiration capacity of the lungs because more dead lung spaces are brought into action thereby increasing forced volume of the lungs. Deep breathing – there are two types of deep breathing, reflex and conscious. Reflex breathing occurs in situations of complete peace. Conscious deep breathing is nāḍī-śuddhi-prāṇāyāma. Breath holding – in stress situations, we often hold our breath as a reflex action. However, in prāṇāyāma, this is made deliberate and as a part of the breathing practice. This allows a person to to increase transference of oxygen into the blood stream while exhausting carbon dioxide and water vapour out of the body completely. School of Yoga explains – prāṇāyāma practice and respiration: Prāṇāyāma should be practiced in the following manner; It should be performed in a clean room where there is minimum dust. Practicing in the open is best. Prāṇāyāma should ideally be done after āsana. Rest for some time after āsana to enable blood supply to stabilise before prāṇāyāma practice, because there is blood is redirected from the musculo-skeletal system to pulmonary circulation (circulation between heart and lungs). It is recommended that one cleans the nose of physical blockages before beginning prāṇāyāma. Perform prāṇāyāma in an empty stomach, preferably at least 4 hours after a meal. Consequently, this allows the food to get fully absorbed in the intestines. A full stomach will act as an impediment to the free movement of the diaphragm and abdomen. In extreme cases, this could result in cramps. Also, this permits free movement of the diaphragm and the abdomen. It is recommended that prāṇāyāma be performed in the morning. The night cools the air, resulting in higher density of air close to the surface of the earth. Also, there is increased oxygen content in the air as a result of lower pollution and higher density of air. This will increase the oxygen content absorbed by the body during prāṇāyāma. Points to ponder on respiration: Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, Breathing [...] Read more...
Prāṇāyāma Techniques – overview
Prāṇāyāma Techniques – overviewSchool of Yoga explains prāṇāyāma techniques – overview The process: Oxygen filled air goes into the lungs during inhalation. Here, oxygen is transferred to the blood in exchange of carbon dioxide and water vapour which get removed during exhalation. Breathing is an involuntary process. This means that it occurs without us being aware of it. Prāṇāyāma is the technique of making our breathing a conscious and controlled process. School of Yoga explains – prāṇāyāma benefits Breathing is affected by stress (click for stress and breathing). Therefore, proper breathing can alleviate stress and increase situational awareness (prajñā). Since, oxygen is critical for conversion of food into energy, proper breathing also impacts all oxidation processes which occur in the body, thereby directly affecting quality of health. Finally, prāṇāyāma is one of the most critical aspects of Hatha-Yoga and Raja-Yoga. School of Yoga explains – nāḍī or energy channels: It is important to understand nāḍī when practicing prāṇāyāma. Subtle energy channels (nāḍī) and vortices (cakras) within the body which act as conduits of motility (prāṇa) and impact the physical, emotional and intellectual well-being of the practitioner. Shiva Samhita designates 14 important nāḍīs, and the most important ones are: Idā-nāḍī (comfort in Sanskrit): This channel runs to the left of the suṣumṇā-nāḍī. It is pale in colour and associated with the Lunar energy. Therefore, it is associated with cooler energy. Also, it moves from the left testicle to the left nostril and is associated with right hemisphere in the brain. Piṅgalā-nāḍī (orange-brown in Sanskrit): This channel runs to the right of the suṣumṇā-nāḍī. It is light brown in colour, associated with the solar energy. Therefore, it is associated with hot energy. Also, it moves from the right testicle to the right nostril and is associated with left hemisphere in the brain. Suṣumṇā-nāḍī (which runs in the back bone) – is the central nāḍī, running along the backbone. It comprises 3 subsidiary nāḍīs called vajra, chitriṅi and brahma which act as the channels through which the kundalini moves upwards from the mūl̄adhāra to the sahasrāra. At the mūl̄adhāra, the junction of the idā, pingala and suṣumṇā-nāḍī are called yuktā-triveni (yuktā = combines + tri = three + veni = streams). When they meet again at the ājñā-cakra, they are called muktā-triveni (muktā = liberated three streams). School of Yoga explains – some prāṇāyāma terminologies; A – Pūraka (inhalation): A single inhalation is termed pūraka. It is a process of drawing in air or inhalation. Also, it should be smooth and continuous. Breaks in pūraka must be eliminated with practice. B – Abhyantara-kumbhaka (hold after inhaling): kumbhaka consists of deliberate stoppage of breathing and retention of the air in the lungs. C – Recaka (exhalation): The third stage, exhalation, is called recaka. Like inhalation, it too should be smooth and continuous, though often the speed of exhaling is different from that of inhaling. But attempts should be made to keep pace, quality and flow of exhalation equal to inhalation. Normally, when inhaling, the abdominal wall descends, drawing down the viscera and stretching it. During kumbhaka, breath is held and this exerts a strain on the abdominal wall. During recaka, the wall is relaxed and collapses inward, pushing the viscera against the diaphragm, emptying the lungs. D – Bāhyā-kumbhaka (hold after exhaling): The fourth stage, the retention of breath after exhaling, is called bāhyā-kumbhaka. The fourth stage completes the prāṇāyāma cycle when the retention ends and a new inhalation begins. School of Yoga explains – stages of prāṇāyāma. A – Ārambha-avastha – In this stage, prāṇa is stabilised within the body. The various vāyus (airs) such as  (prāṇa-vāyu / apāna-vāyu / vyāna-vāyu / udāna-vāyu / samāna-vāyu) are balanced. When a person practices prāṇāyāma sincerely, the following changes occur; He begins to perspire profusely. This sweat should be rubbed into the body. There is involuntary trembling. Sometimes, the body jumps and jerks like a frog. B – Ghata-avastha – This is the second stage of prāṇāyāma. This occurs when there is constant suppression of breath. Then, there is a perfect union of prāṇa-vāyu and apāna-vāyu, manas (cognition) and buddhi (logic). Here, the yogi practices sama-drishti (viewing all creation equally). Here, the yogi experiences clairvoyance, telekinesis, erudition, ability to become invisible and take up any form he desires. C – Parichaya-avastha – Vāyu or breath-flow, pierces the kundalini, which along with agni, enters the suṣumṇā and merges with it. At this stage, the yogi’s karma is destroyed. The yogi is able to see and manipulate prāṇa. D – Niṣpatti-avastha (consummation stage) – Here, the yogi’s identity merges with the universal identity and all cycles of birth and death are burned away. This is the final state and is also called samādhi, mokṣa.  School of Yoga explains – recommended daily prāṇāyāma practice: There are many techniques such as sama-vṛtti (even condition), visama-vṛtti (uneven condition), śītalī (tongue curled between the lips), śītkārin (tongue curled between the teeth), udgīta (prāṇāyāma with chanting). However, the following schedule is adequate to meet daily requirements; Prāṇāyāma Cycles Benefits Nāḍī-śuddhi with kumbaka 5-20 Overall lung functioning, balancing of left/ right brain, balancing of idā and pingala-nāḍī. Bhastrikā 20-50 Increases lung capacity, transfer capacity, activates dead alveoli, increases lung elasticity and strengthens diaphragm. Kapālabhātī 20-50 Increases volumetric efficiency of the lungs, strengthens the trachea and all pulmonary vessels. Strengthens the abdominal walls. Ujjayi 5-20 Improves the autonomous nervous system, the heart, clears ears and sinuses. Bhramari 5-10 Opens the nasal passages, clears all the sinuses, removes mucous. Nāḍī-śuddhi 5 Close with nāḍī-śuddhi to reset the system. Finally, it is important to practice breathing on an empty stomach and in a clean room with the windows open. prāṇāyāma, when done after āsana, increases its effectiveness as the entire body is rejuvenated. Points to ponder on prāṇāyāma… Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Nadi Shuddhi, External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, Breathing How does prāṇāyāma impact stress situations? How can we enhance our prāṇāyāma capability? Therapy and prāṇāyāma. Patience and prāṇāyāma. Right time to do prāṇāyāma. Prāṇāyāma and its impact on Situational Awareness Diet and prāṇāyāma. Can controlled breathing be practiced at a bus-stop, when waiting at a signal etc. without conventional setting? [...] Read more...
Nāḍī-śuddhi – energy channel cleanser
Nāḍī-śuddhi – energy channel cleanserSchool of Yoga explains nāḍī-śuddhi-prāṇāyāma or anulom-vilom  School of Yoga explains –nāḍī-śuddhi technique:  Nāḍī-śuddhi is a basic and most widely used form of prāṇāyāma and means nāḍī = energy channel + śuddhi = cleanser. Often, this technique is referred to as anulom-vilom which means inhalation-exhalation. School of Yoga explains – nadi-shuddhi process consists of 4 steps:  Sit comfortably, preferably in padmāsana (lotus pose), siddhāsana or vajrāsana. Place thumb over right nostril and ring-finger + little finger over left nostril. Turn the other 2 fingers turned into the palm. Close right nostril with thumb and inhale through left nostril for 4 counts. Then, close both nostril and hold breath for 4 counts . Release ring finger from over left nostril & exhale through the left nostril for 6 counts.  Close both nostrils & hold breath for 4 counts. Repeat using the reverse method. Inhale from right, hold, exhale through left, hold. This is a round of nāḍī-śuddhi. Repeat to complete 5 rounds. Rest between cycles if required. Try to slowly increase to 20 rounds. Slowly try increasing duration of inhalation (puraka), holding (kumbaka) and exhalation (rechaka) as you gain confidence. Over time, you could also increase the ratio of inhalation, holding and exhalation to your comfort. Only, ensure that exhalation is close to twice of inhalation so that lung volumetric efficiency is increased. Also, ensure that the breathing is calm and steady, not erratic and agitated or jerky. School of Yoga explains – nāḍī-śuddhi benefits  Since the breathing process is measured and steady, forced volume capacity of the lung increases over time and with practice. Consequently, evacuation of waste gases (CO2 and water vapour) is increased. As a result, the transfer capacity of the lungs gets improved. Transfer capacity is the amount of oxygen that enters the body and amount of CO2 + water vapour that gets removed from the body. This increases oxygen content in the blood stream while removing toxins. So, health and immunity is improved. Also, left/ right brain activity equalisation is improved by this prāṇāyāma. The practice of steady breathing reduces stress and purges excess adrenalin and related toxins from the system. School of Yoga explains – surya-bheda (splitting the sun) prāṇāyāma; This is a variation of nāḍī-śuddhi-prāṇāyāma. In nāḍī-śuddhi, the inhalation and exhalation is alternated between left and right nostrils. However, in surya-bheda-prāṇāyāma, all inhalation is only performed using the right nostril while the exhalation is performed using the left nostril. School of Yoga explains – sūrya-bheda technique: Sit comfortably, preferably in padmāsana (lotus pose), siddhāsana or vajrāsana with back erect. Close left nostril with thumb and inhale through right nostril for 4 counts. Now, close both nostril for 4 counts & hold breath. Release ring finger from over left nostril & exhale to 6 counts, increasing to 8 counts as you become confident. Close both nostrils & hold breath for 4 counts. This is a round of sūrya-bheda-prāṇāyāma which activates piṅgalā-nāḍī. Repeat by starting again with inhalation through the right nostril, hold, exhalation through the left nostril, hold. Practice 5 rounds. Rest in between if required. School of Yoga explains – chandra-bheda (splitting the moon) prāṇāyāma; This is a variation of nāḍī-śuddhi-prāṇāyāma. In nāḍī-śuddhi, the inhalation and exhalation is alternated between left and right nostrils. However, in chandra-bheda-prāṇāyāma, all inhalation is only performed using the left nostril while the exhalation is performed using the right nostril. This process is the opposite of sūrya-bheda-prāṇāyāma. School of Yoga explains – chandra-bheda technique: Sit comfortably, preferably in padmāsana (lotus pose), siddhāsana or vajrāsana with back erect. Close right nostril with thumb and inhale through left nostril for 4 counts. Now, close both nostril for 4 counts & hold breath. Closing ring finger from over left nostril & exhale through the right nostril to 6 counts, increasing to 8 counts as you become confident. Finally, close both nostrils & hold breath for 4 counts. This is a round of chandra-bheda-prāṇāyāma activates the idā-nāḍī. Repeat, by starting again with inhalation through the left nostril, hold, exhalation through the right nostril, hold. Practice 5 rounds. Rest in between if required. After a round of sūrya-bheda and chandra-bheda-prāṇāyāma, perform nāḍī-śuddhi to re-balance the flow of prāṇa in the body. Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika,  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, Breathing The Hatha Yoga Pradeepika on nāḍī-śuddhi: Chapter 2, verses 7 to 10. Sitting in padmāsana, the yogi inhales through the Moon nostril (idā or left nostril). Then, retaining it to one’s ability, he exhales through the Sun (piṅgalā or right nostril). Then, drawing in air through the Sun nostril (right nostril), the belly should be filled. After performing kumbhaka as before, the air should be exhaled through the idā. Inhaling thus, through the one through which air was expelled, and having retained it to the utmost, it should be exhaled through the other, slowly, not fast. If the air be inhaled through the idā, it should be expelled through the piṅgalā. If it is drawn in through the piṅgalā and retained there, it should be expelled through the idā. Those that practice thus through the Sun and Moon should have clean nadis after 3 months or so. Points to ponder on nāḍī-śuddhi… What are the variations of nāḍī-śuddhi-prāṇāyāma? Which techniques of prāṇāyāma impact stress situations most? What are the various techniques to enhance prāṇāyāma capability? Long term effects of nāḍī-śuddhi-prāṇāyāma … discuss… Prāṇāyāma sitting postures… advantages and disadvantages? What is the right time to do prāṇāyāma Prāṇāyāma and its impact on situational awareness (prajñā). [...] Read more...
Bhramarī (bee sound) prāṇāyāma technique
Bhramarī (bee sound) prāṇāyāma techniqueSchool of Yoga explains bhramarī (bhramar = bee) prāṇāyāma. Bhramarī-prāṇāyāma is a form of diaphragmatic breathing where the fingers are pressed against the sinuses, to open the septum and other energy channels or nadi. During inhalation and exhaling, the epiglottis is constricted to make a buzzing sound which sounds like simulated snoring and sounds like a bee. School of Yoga explains – bhramarī-prāṇāyāma technique: 1- Sit in padmāsana, siddhāsana or vajrāsana. 2- Keep mouth closed. Press the tongue to the roof of the mouth to close the circuit of prāṇa flow. Place hands in ṣaṇmukhi-mudra as explained below; Forefinger – placed just above eyebrows, covering the frontal sinus Middle finger – is placed at the corner of the eye, covering the ethmoid sinus. This increases efficiency of filteration of air going into the nasal cavity. Ring finger – should be placed on side of the nose, next to the bridge, also called nasopharynx – this opens the nasal septum and passageways as also improves connectivity to the middle ear. Little finger – is placed next to the nostril Maxillary Sinus, which is the largest in the face and keeps the nasal, throat and mouth/ teeth free from infection. The 4 fingers press a muscle which runs along the length of the nose, called the levator labii muscle (translated from Latin, the “lifter of both the upper lip and of the wing of the nose”) which are important for expression of emotions. Press the thumb on the cartilage covering the ear lightly. Do puraka. When inhaling, vibrate the epiglottis to make a buzzing sound. This is also known as bhramar-dhwani or the buzzing sound as made by a bee. Do rechaka. When exhaling, make the same vibration should as mentioned above. This is also known as bhramar-dhwani. 3- Try to maintain a steady and constant sound. Bhramarī variation 1 – perform bhramarī without holding the fingers along the nose. Perform bhramar-dhwani (humming sound) on inhalation only. Bhramarī variation 2 – include kumbhaka (holding) in the process. School of Yoga explains – benefits of bhramarī: Aids in the generation of mucous and lubrication of the air passages. Reduces sinusitis, migraines and other illnesses associated with the sinus. Strengthens the glottis, epiglottis, larynx and improves functioning of the thyroid/ parathyroid glands. Useful in controlling snoring and sleep apnea which are related to the glottis muscles losing strength. Strengthen the carotid artery, Improves concentration. Hatha Yoga Pradeepika on bhramarī (Chapter 2, verse 68) Bhramarī– Inhale forcefully, making a sound like the hum of a bee, exhale slowly making the same sound. This practice brings indescribable ecstasy to yogis. Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika,  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, Breathing [...] Read more...
Ujjeyi (victory breathing) prāṇāyāma technique
Ujjeyi (victory breathing) prāṇāyāma techniqueSchool of Yoga ujjeyi – (ud = root + jaya = victorious) Ujjeyi is a form of diaphragmatic breathing where the glottis is closed by constricting the throat during inhalation and exhalation. School of Yoga explains – ujjeyi technique – this is a prāṇāyāma that has 2 parts. Sit in padmāsana, siddhāsana or vajrāsana. Keep mouth closed. Then, press the tongue to the bottom of the mouth to close the circuit of prāṇa flow. Close the glottis and tighten the throat. Place hands in chin or chinmaya-mudra. The first part covers diaphragmatic breathing. Keeping the belly relaxed, draw the air in using the diaphragm. When the diaphragm reaches its bottom position, the abdomen is relaxed and the lower abdomen is distended to its maximum capability. The breathing sensation should be experienced at the area behind the pubis where the peritoneum is anchored. Focus at the centre of the svādhiṣṭhāna-cakra and at the bottom of the abdomen at the pubis. Exhalation is started until complete evacuation of the lungs is accomplished. The second part covers breathing through a tightened throat (constricted glottis). The glottis is the opening between the vocal chords in the larynx. During this procedure, the throat is tightened when the breathing action occurs resulting in a “rushing sound”, like the sound of the ocean. As breathing progresses, the flow through the tightened throat should be kept steady. Consequently, the abdominal and diaphragm pressures should be managed without unduly stressing either areas. School of Yoga explains – ujjeyi variation: There are multiple variations in this prāṇāyāma; Variation 1 – include kumbhaka (holding) in the process. Variation 2 – do ujjeyi with kumbhaka and jalandhara–bandha in the process. Variation 3 – add kumbhaka, jalandhara–bandha and mūl̄a-bandha to the process. School of Yoga explains – ujjeyi benefits:  The direct benefit of ujjeyi is the strengthening of diaphragm, glottis and epiglottis. Consequently, this procedure is very useful in overcoming snoring. Also, ujjeyi is very useful in improving thyroid functioning, acting in support to sarvāṅgāsana and viparīta-karaṇī. Ujjeyi is a variation of the valsalva manoeuvre. In the valsalva manoeuvre, the mouth is blocked, the nose is closed and the breath is forced out, releasing pressure in the eustachian tube. Therefore, this prāṇāyāma Improves cardiac health. Finally, ujjeyi is particularly useful in treating psychosomatic stress. In a stress situation, the individual’s breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Consequently, the throat gets constricted, resulting in increased pressure within the pharyngeal and aural cavity. As a result, there is increased pressure in the eustachian tube or middle ear. Therefore, practice of ujjeyi will result in a equalisation of middle ear pressure with the eustachian tube. Hatha Yoga Pradeepika on ujjeyi (Chapter 2, verse 51 to 53) Ujjeyi – Close the nāḍi in the throat and draw in air such that it goes touching the throat to the chest while making a noise in passing. Perform kumbhaka and exhale through the idā (left nostril). This removes śleṣma (phlegm) in the throat and increases gastric fires. It destroys the defects of the nāḍi, the doṣas and dropsy. Ujjayi should be performed in all conditions, even while walking or sitting. Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika,  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, Breathing [...] Read more...
Kapālabhātī (skull cleanser) prāṇāyāma technique
Kapālabhātī (skull cleanser) prāṇāyāma techniqueSchool of Yoga explains kapālabhātī – (kapāla = skull + bhātī= shining) In kapālabhātī-prāṇāyāma, the inhalation is passive, but the exhalation is active using the abdominal muscles. School of Yoga explains – kapālabhātī-prāṇāyāma technique:  Sit in padmāsana, siddhāsana or vajrāsana. Close the mouth. Let the tongue touch the top of the palate to close the circuit of prāṇa flow. Place hands in chin or chinmaya-mudra. Breathing in naturally, let the abdomen relax without effort or exertion. At the end of inhalation, push air out vigorously using the abdominal muscles, . As a result of the pressured exhalation, there should be a feeling of slight light-headedness. Also, one should experience tightening of the anus due to forced exhalation. Repeat 20 to 50 times spread over a maximum of 2 sittings. School of Yoga explains – kapālabhātī benefits:  This prāṇāyāma strengthens the digestive system and lower respiratory tract. Multiple digestive ailments such as acidity, flatulence, constipation, piles, diabetes and other lung illnesses such as asthma, and emphysema are improved by this exercise. The rapid movement of air increases volumetric efficiency of the lungs and heart function. The rapid exhalation through the nose results in phlegm, mucous and other secretions being ejected from the windpipe. This is especially useful in managing abdominal illnesses such as diabetes, gastritis, hyper-acidity, kidney and liver ailments etc. Due to the rapid intake of the abdominal muscles, abdominal organs move and massage spine creating a shock effect which results in transmission of the shock to the brain. This could result is slight light-headedness. Additionally, this energises and stabilizes the central and peripheral nervous system, the sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous system, especially the spinal nerves.  Since the spinal chord is energised, all the main nāḍi get energized also. Hatha Yoga Pradeepika on kapālabhātī  (Chapter 2, verse 35 to 36) Kapālabhātī – when inhalation and exhalation are performed rapidly like the bellows of a blacksmith. This is called kapālabhātī which overcomes orders of phlegm. When one is freed from obesity and phlegm by practicing the 6 acts and subsequently practices prāṇāyāma, the practitioner will achieve success without difficulty. Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika,  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, Breathing [...] Read more...
Bhastrikā (bellows) prāṇāyāma technique
Bhastrikā (bellows) prāṇāyāma techniqueSchool of Yoga bhastrikā (bellows) prāṇāyāma. In bhastrikā-prāṇāyāma, the practitioner rapidly inhales and exhales using the diaphragm only. School of Yoga explains – bhastrikā technique – Sit in padmāsana, siddhāsana or vajrāsana. Keep mouth closed. Also, let the tongue touch the top of the palate to close the circuit of prāṇa flow. Place hands in chin or chinmaya-mudra. Breathing in through the nostril, draw the diaphragm down rapidly.  At the end of inhalation, exhale rapidly, pushing the air our vigorously. Repeat 20 to 50 times to a maximum of 2 sittings. School of Yoga explains – bhastrikā benefits:  This prāṇāyāma strengthens the upper respiratory tract. The mucosa along the track is cleaned out. Therefore, when the waste is discharged, there is maintenance of body temperature, hence homeostasis. The rapid movement of air also strengthens the trachea and lungs. Consequently, there is activation of stagnant alveoli, resulting in improved lung function. Bhastrikā helps in preventing cold. Also, the rapid movement of air increases volumetric efficiency of the lungs and heart function. This breathing strengthens the functioning of the thoracic nerves whch control the functioning of the heart and lungs. Hatha Yoga Pradeepika on bhastrikā (Chapter 2, verse 59 to 67) Bhastrikā– When the feet are placed on the opposite thighs, it is called padmāsana, the destroyer of all sins. Assuming balanced padmāsana and an erect body, the intelligent practitioner should exhale through the nostrils. It should then be inhaled rapidly with force until there is an experience of resound in the heart, throat upto the skull. It should be expelled repeatedly and filled again and again like a blacksmith using his bellows. In the same manner, he should move the prana within the body and when experiencing fatigue, inhale using the right (piṅgalā-nāḍī) nostril. As soon as the lungs are filled quickly with air, the right nostril should be closed with the ring finger and kept confined. Having performed kumbhaka properly, it should be expelled through the left nostril. This destroys vata (air), pitta (bile) and kapha (phlegm) and increases gastric fires. The kundalini is quickly aroused; pleasant, purifying and beneficial. Any phlegm and other impurities which may be accumulated at the entrance to the brahma-nāḍī are destroyed. Bhastrikā should be performed plentifully for it breaks the 3 knots that are firmly placed on the suṣumṇā-nāḍi. (brahma-granthi in the anāhata, vishnu-granthi in the viśuddhi and rudra-granthi in the ājñā ) Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika,  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, Breathing [...] Read more...
Karma – Principle of action and debt
Karma – Principle of action and debtSchool of Yoga explains the principle of action (karma) When we like something, we bring it close to ourselves. When we dislike something, we push it away. The action of bringing close or pushing away is called karma.  Since this covers all relationships, karma can be considered as the governing principle of all relationships; covering all sentient, non-sentient, animate and inanimate entities. School of Yoga explains the results of karma – debt (ṛṇa)  Karma or action is the cause as well as outcome of all situations. We know that all situations are driven by relationships / bonds. All relationships are governed by transactions, every transaction results in like or dislike because its very rare that we are perfectly neutral in any situation.  This like-dislike response results in a give and take outcome between the two entities. Consequently, like-dislike/ give-take results in movement of one relative to the other, resulting in karma or action. However, transactions are rarely equal, one will give or get more. This causes the one who takes more to become a debtor and one who gives more to be a creditor. But this debt, like any debt, needs to be repaid; if not in this life, in a rebirth. This is the basis of the ancient concept of cycle of birth and death (samsāra).  However, this give and take need not be material; it could be ideas, feelings, opinions etc. or a mix of these. So, the generation and repayment of debt can take many forms. School of Yoga explains principle of like-dislike which results in karma  We know that we exist because transact with our environment. Consequently, the feedback we receive from our environment gives us confirmation of existence. This aspect which evaluates our existence in the environment is a “sense of self-worth”. This is called “asmitā” in Sanskrit. The “sense of self-worth” (asmitā) gets its values from our conditioning (dharma). Conditioning (dharma) is evolved by our home, parents, school, society, friends and environment. When the interaction with the environment is positive, our “sense of self-worth” (asmitā) experiences an expansion, resulting in like/ motivation/ attraction or eustress (rāga). Similarly, when there is a low level or no interaction; the “sense of self-worth” (asmitā) experience contraction, resulting in dislike/ repulsion, anxiety, distress or fear (dveṣa). Consequently, when we experience attraction (rāga), we pull the object closer. When we experience repulsion (dveṣa), we try to push the object away.  This is the principle of action or karma in Sanskrit. School of Yoga explains karma and rebirth As mentioned above, if the debt generated in this birth is not paid off, then there comes a need for another birth to pay the debt off. This is the basis of the concept of rebirth.  The generation of debt results in the creation of a bond (bandana) between two entities. This bond exists for as long as the debt exists. Thereafter, the bond between the entities will dissolve. School of Yoga explains types of karma Any transaction where the give and take are equal is called samabandhana (equal bond). Mostly, this is between married couples where give and take is not measured. So, in India, the in-laws are called sambandhi or samdi (those of equal bond) All debt accrued to or by us in current situation is called cycle of birth and death āgami-karma (current debt generation). The overall aggregation of our debt or credit is called sanchita-karma (overall karma consolidation). Also, debt which comes for repayment is called prārabda-karma (debt reconciliation). Finally, karma which impacts everyone such as weather, climate, pandemic or war is called samasti-karma (equal-for-all debt reconciliation) In conclusion, the bond created by debt is called ṛṇānubandhana (bond of debt). School of Yoga explains karma according to the seers (ṛṣi); There have been many references on why people perform action. Most people perform action for an outcome. Outcome is generally motivated by desire which is quantifiable, objective or visible (dṛṣṭaphala) or for an outcome that is not visible or quantifiable (adṛṣṭaphala). Karma according to Sri Krishna in Srimad Bhagavad-Geeta. Sri Krishna classifies action into three types, action (karma), inaction (akarma) and forbidden action (vikarma) in Chapter 4. Importantly, Sri Krishna states that even inaction is action and only action which is performed as a sacrifice (yajñá) is karma that will not result in debt (ṛṇa). Sacrifice where action that is performed without desire (niṣkāmya-karma). Here, action and result are experienced without duality such as like-dislike, good-bad or right-wrong. Sacrifice also occurs when one renounces the fruit of one’s action (karmaphala-tyāga), which means that the person becomes indifferent to success or failure of the result. Lastly, sacrifice occurs when the person is in a state of renunciation when acting (karma-saṃnyāsa). Karma according to Jaimin’s pūrva-mīmāṃsā (early reflections) Jaimin’s pūrva-mīmāṃsā is one of the earlies attempts to classify how life should be lived. It was written around 300-200 BCE.  It states that all actions (karma) should be performed as a sacrifice (yajñá). The classification of karma is as follows; Nitya-karma (perpetual or daily sacrifices) – these cover the five major sacrifices (panca-maha-yajñás) that any individual is supposed to perform. These five (panca-maha-yajñá) are – rishi-yajñá (sacrifice to the seers), deva-yajñá (sacrifice to the deities, represented by the vedas) and pitṛ-yajñá (sacrifice to the manes) which are covered in a ritual called brahma-yajñá. Bhūta-yajñá, which covers supporting all sentient and insentient creations and finally mānuṣyaka-yajñá which covers helping other less fortunate human beings. Nitya-karma also covers regular rituals such as sandhya-vandana (salutation to the various transitions of the Sun), tarpaṇa and śrāddha (ceremonies to feed the manes) and other rituals. Naimittika-karma (periodic karma) – These are sacrifices that are performed to support various rites-of-passage (samskāra) such as naming ceremony, marriage ceremony, death ceremony etc. Naimittika-karma also covers upanayana-samskāra which is performed whenever there is knowledge transmission. Kāmya-karma (karma motivated by desire) – this is an optional sacrifice and refers to any sacrifice performed with a desire for material gain. Niṣāda-karma (forbidden action) – this is any action that goes against order and harmony (dharma). This is also called vikarma in Srimad-Bhagavad-Geeta, chapter 4. The important clause in nitya and naimittika-karma is that these are obligatory and must be performed at prescribed. These sacrifices do not yield any fruits, they are mandatory maintenance actions for maintaining personal dharma (svadharma). Failure to do so will result in debt (ṛṇānubandha). Both kamya-karma and niṣāda-karma will result in debt depending on the severity of the action. Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand karma… It is very late in the evening. You are driving home. You are tired. Suddenly, you realize that a car is following you very closely. The driver is a teenager, honking continuously and driving in a very offensive manner. There is no room on the street for him to overtake you and you are getting irritated.  You hope that the kid will stop, but it gets worse and you suddenly decide to take the kid to task. So, you stop your car and get out… What is your emotional state at this point? How is your energy level changing? What is your opinion of the other driver? You stride across to the other car which has stopped some distance behind you. There are two people in the car. You go to the driver’s side and notice that it is a young girl and she seems scared.  She tells you that she is just learning to drive, and that the person next to her is her father who fell unconscious when they were having dinner.  Furthermore, she somehow managed to get him into the car and is now trying to get him to hospital… What is your state at this point? How is your energy level changing? What is your opinion of the other driver? How have you changed? Principles of action (karma) – points to ponder Internal Tags: Self Awareness or Asmita, Karma Yoga (Bhagawat Gita – chapter 3) External Tags: vāsanā (karmic image), pūrva-mīmāṃsā, nitya-karma, brahma-yajñá,  Does experience change when we “sleep over” a situation? Why? Is there experience when we are doing nothing or not react? Is environmental degradation a karma of nature? Does nature perform action or karma? How? Can inanimate objects increase/ decrease energy in others? Can a car increase energy in you? Does the attachment or aversion you have to your car or cat result in karma? What are the ways in which we can increase energy in ourselves & others? Can we perform actions with complete awareness and reduce karmic load or debt? What is the relationship between karma & accountability? What is the relationship between karma & Self? [...] Read more...
Yoga Therapy Principles
Yoga Therapy PrinciplesSchool of Yoga explains Yoga Therapy principles Yoga Therapy is the technique of using principles of yoga for better physical, psychological and spiritual health. School of explains elements of Yoga Therapy. Yoga Therapy the natural process of healing for improving health. It primarily consists of 5 elements – āsana (postures), prāṇāyāma (breathing), dhyāna (meditation), mitāhāra (diet control) and sleep.  Anyone can do it… It’s easy and simple and only requires common sense as well as a willingness to try. School of Yoga explains Yoga Therapy benefits. Yoga Therapy works with nature and provides a solution within the operating capabilities of the body. This makes it a great tool for people recovering from illness and in post- operative care. Since these principles are valid for modern lifestyles and accommodate various cross-cultural bias, the application is universal. Yoga Therapy and health. When a person is in physical and psychological equilibrium, there is a feeling of peace and well-being. This is also called a state of “homeostasis”. Therefore, homeostasis is that condition when the body performs within the parameters it is supposed to. For example: A car engine is supposed to run at a particular temperature or oil pressure range. Similarly, the body should operate in a physical state which keeps its operating parameters within an optimum range. For example, body temperature should be between 36.1 to 37.2 degree centigrade or blood pressure should be around 120/ 80 etc. There are many such parameters. Generally, disturbance in one or more parameter is an indication that the body is moving out of the state of homeostasis or equilibrium. Factors which affect homeostasis. When homeostasis is disturbed, there is illness.  This could be physical – cold, flu or something more serious; or psychological – like stress which also affects the body. If you know the factors, you can control them better and live a healthier life… Simple! What affects homeostasis at a personal level? a. Age – the ageing process is natural and irreversible driven by multiple factors. But one may not be able to stop illness from occurring, but one can do a lot to ensure that quality of life is balanced and illness minimised. b. Lifestyle – Habits of youth seldom leave easily, after all they occurred when times were good. Therefore, the ability to change any of these habits diminish with age. Even if one were to be able to kick the habit, for equilibrium to be re-established, the residue needs to be purged from the body. c. Expectation – Stress is directly related to our ability to cope with stimulus. But, coping action is driven by our expectations and ability to manage outcome. In the pre-internet and entertainment era, sources of stimuli were few and predictable. This allowed us to accept change and cope with the effects of stimuli with greater ease. Also, communities were smaller and more intimate, allowing people to assist each other in coping with the fallout of stress situations which were mostly life events related, such as death and disease. Today, these factors have become more complicated, as stimulus has become unpredictable which requires greater capability for coping. What affects homeostasis at a societal level? Often, we find it easy to control ourselves, but find that society is difficult to handle. Our ability to work effectively in society is important as it determines our performance, health and feeling valued. Some of these factors are; a. Upbringing – people often move from familiar and childhood areas to other places where they have no friends or relatives. Also, the social and cultural settings in these new areas could be very different from what people are used to. The result? Stress, imbalances and loss of homeostasis… b. Employment – Life time employment is no longer assured. Hence, people form very few deep engagements which last the test of time. They prefer transactional relationships and temporary solutions. This results in an inability to commit to relationships which damages long term mental and emotional health. c. Life partners – The traditional institution of marriage has metamorphosed. Relationships often have to sustain high pressures of conflicting expectations with low levels of elasticity as well as willingness to give. Separation is worse because living in intimacy, even for brief periods, brings about transmigration of character between partners which makes coping after separation severely stressful. d. Social Media – long distance and impersonal relationships generated by social media may sound great in theory, but result in a surreal feeling of intimacy. This results people giving inappropriate coping advice to other on various familial, societal or cultural issues, which might actually harm, and not benefit. Another major factor is the way social media affects conditioning (dharma). The various serials and movies bring different cultures to individuals and often people begin to identify themselves with these cultures rather than their own. This causes enormous dissonance and stress in people. e. Religion – Religion at home is a personal anchor, but when brought out into society, has the potential to create conflict. This stress has been part of humanity for many centuries, but today, its impact is even more significant. There are others such as financial strength, climate change etc., but these are the most important. Benefit of yoga therapy. We are our own best friend. When we are self-reliant, our ability to perform in any type of situations and be successful increases enormously. Yoga therapy is an easy tool which can be adapted to the individual’s personality successfully. Yoga therapy hinges around building capability for anchoring the person around him or herself. Expecting a person to remain in equilibrium all the time is unrealistic considering variety of stimuli and the person’s own expectation from a situation. However, it is possible to build capability which allows the person to cope and revert to a state of homeostasis or equilibrium quickly in any situation. This will build capability and performance in the person, ensuring success. Yoga Therapy quick-wins. So, you want to start but don’t have time and are not totally convinced. Try these basic solutions which only require basic discipline and common sense for quick wins to health; I. Weight – keep within the recommended weight range. This ensures that; i. the metabolic system is not stressed, thereby reducing incidence of illness. It helps build natural resistance to disease. ii. To keep within weight range, one has to pay attention to diet, this forces a person to eat sensibly and on time. II. Sleep – The circadian rhythm is there for a reason – When we are awake, we use energy to move around. This is done by expending nutrients, which is called catabolic reactions. Here, we break large molecules for daily use in the wakeful state. When we sleep, we enter an anabolic state where we rebuild tissues and our reservoirs of energy for use when we awaken again. In the past 50 years, availability of electricity and communication tools have resulted in disturbance of our sleep pattern resulting in illness and stress but here Yoga can make a big difference; i. Āsana ensures dissipation of excess stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol etc. , thereby bringing a physical equilibrium into the body. ii. Prāṇāyāma reduces the number of free radicals and induces oxidation, thereby reducing the level of toxins in the body. iii. Meditation or dhyāna increases alpha waves in the occipital region of the brain and impacts the quality of sleep. The very act of trying to bring sleep back into control requires lifestyle changes and better time management which impact health positively. Why you should try Yoga Therapy… It’s easy. All one needs to do is to integrate yoga into one’s lifestyle. All one needs to do is sleep on time, sleep well, control weight, practice simple āsana (exercises), prāṇāyāma (breathing routines) and dhyāna (meditation). Initially, there will be some resistance to change. However, with patience, dedication and willingness to calibrate expectations with realistic outcomes things with change. As a result, one will be able to experience better health and overall well-being. Points to ponder… Do you follow any routine for maintaining a healthy lifestyle? What are the activities you follow which add value to you? What do you need to change? Have you tried yoga? Do any of your friends or relatives practice yoga? What are your control points with regard to diet and sleep? Do you meditate? [...] Read more...
Yoga book – How the first Yoga book was written
Yoga book – How the first Yoga book was writtenSchool of Yoga explains Yoga History – The First Modern Yoga book The first Yoga book is detailed in The Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice by Elliott Goldberg © 2016 Inner Traditions. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com  “Wherever I went [to promote asana practice on the tours with bodybuilder K. V. Iyer in the early and mid-1920s],” S. Sundaram recounted, “persons asked for a book of instructions, a guide or text-book on the subject.” “After the publication of my articles on ‘Yoga in Physical Culture’ in the Brahmacharya , the demand for a book increased. My profession and its dry-as-dust duties claimed most of the time and attention. My ambition to popularise Yogic Physical Culture and make the sons and daughters of India partners in the enjoyment of its benefits, remained unfulfilled. Then the indefatigable Editor of the Brahmacharya, Sjt. Ramachandra, found the ways and means for the publication of a work on this subject. All that remained for me was to write it up.” School of Yoga explains how the book, Yogic Physical Culture happened… Sundaram worked on his manual in 1928 after studying and practicing and becoming an expert on yogic health cure. Yogic Physical Culture or the Secret of Happiness was published in English in 1929. It is the first modern hatha yoga book. This pioneering book is fully illustrated with photos of Sundaram demonstrating asanas. It places asana practice at the center of hatha yoga and health cure as its raison d’être. Sundaram realised that publishing a book about hatha yoga was just as critical to modernizing hatha yoga. Previously, gurus, secretive and reclusive, had made yogic health practices available only to a select few. However, Sundaram believed that the yogic system of physical culture is the ideal “system of Physical Culture intended for masses.” Therefore, his mission in publishing Yogic Physical Culture was to make yogic physical culture indiscriminately available to anyone who cared to take it up. The book covers all critical aspects of asana, pranayama and purificatory techniques.  “Our duty in this World is to work and leave the results in His hands. May He who is All-powerful infuse enthusiasm in the readers and enable them to reap the rewards of Yogic Physical Culture in benefits enduring and substantial! Om!”. Sundaram closes the preface to his book with the above invocation.   [...] Read more...
Vedas – The base of Indian culture
Vedas – The base of Indian cultureSchool of Yoga explains – the Vedas. The Vedas are a large body of texts composed in Vedic Sanskrit originating in the Indian Subcontinent. In fact, the Vedic texts are the oldest body of Indian literature and scriptures. Also, Vedas have their root in the Sanskrit word vid which means without limit. Lastly, Vedas are the philosophical base on which yoga is build. Those that consider the Veda as scriptural authority of Hinduism are called आस्तिक (āstika – believers). In fact, these followers believe that the Vedas are अपौरुषेय (apauruṣeya – not of man). Consequently, those that do not accept the authority of the Veda are called नास्तिक (nāsthik – non-believers). These are followers of Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism and any Hindu with similar views. Vedas are also called śruti (that which is heard), possibly because these were composed before 4000 BCE, well before the formulation of Sanskrit grammar, syntax and rules by Panini around 400 BCE. School of Yoga explains the subdivision of the Veda. There are four major Vedic branches or śākhā – Rig, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva. Each Veda is subdivided into, Mantra or saṃhita (संहिता) part, this being a collection of hymns used in yagna or sacrifice. Brāhmaṇā (ब्राह्मण) part, where the procedures, meanings and commentaries of the mantra are detailed. Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्) – These are philosophical portions which deal with the gross and subtle nature of the Brahman. Upaveda or Tantra (तन्त्र) – These form the bedrock of the scientific explanation of Brahman and techniques of transcending material state. Yoga comes under this aspect. However, books in tankrika are not generally regarded as part of Vedas anymore. Rig Veda– is the oldest extant vedic text. It is a collection of 1028 stanzas and 10600 verses organised into 10 mandalas or books/ chapters. Also, this Veda deals primarily with the origins of the universe, various Gods and ancient rituals and practices. Yajur Veda– this Veda was composed much later than Rig Veda and has around 1875 shokas or verses. It contains detailed instructions for conducting yagna or sacrifice and is split into two major subgroups; Kṛṣṇa (dark) Yajur Veda – where saṃhita (hyms) are interspersed with Brāhmana (commentary). Śukla (white) Yajur Veda – where saṃhita are kept discrete from the corresponding Brāhmana (commentary). Sāma Veda– consists of 1549 shokas or verses, almost all taken from Rig Veda. The Sāma Veda consists of; Gāna (गान) – a set of 4 melody collections. Ārchika (आर्चिक) – a set of 3 books containing verses sung to the melody of the Gāna. Atharva Veda– consist of 760 shlokās or hymns out of which 160 are common with the Rig Veda. Composed primarily by Āngiras and Atharvān, it is a later Veda, composed between 900 BC and 1000 BC. It deals with rites, rituals and practices of the period, mainly marriage and cremation. What you should know after reading this blog; What are the Vedas? Why are they important? How many Vedas exist? What are the elements of each Veda? Expllain the design of each Veda? What is the difference between each of the Vedas? [...] Read more...
Āsana sequence impacts health and fitness
Āsana sequence impacts health and fitnessSchool of Yoga on āsana, fitness and health – introduction. This site follows the Yogacharya Sundaram school of yoga āsana routines for health, fitness and therapy. Yogacharya Sundaram, who started teaching āsana for universal health and fitness in Bangalore, India, developed this successful format around 1921. Incidentally, Yogachrya Sundaram is one of Yoga’s oldest teachers and therapists. The exercise routines focus on maximising the effect on the relevant portion of the body at a time. They are holistic and cover all parts of the body. Āsana – Patanjali Yoga Sutra defines āsana as स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥. sthiram (static, steady, firm) + sukham (comfortable) + āsanam (seat). So, the practitioner should stay close to the state of homeostasis when practicing āsana. Incidentally, homeostasis is a psychosomatic state where the body is in physical and psychological balance and equanimity. Therefore, āsana is a static exercise where the body movement is minimal and the focus is on holding the pose to maximise impact on a specific area of the body. How asanas bring fitness and health. Āsana therefore needs to comply with the following rules; It should be static, not vigorous or dynamic. The position should be easy to hold and not stressful. There should have minimum movement. While, there is no consensus, the Yogacharya Sundaram school recommends a breathing routine. Kriya – Kriyas are dynamic exercises which increase flexibility of the body. Additionally, sūryanamaskāra and nauli fall under this category. Banda – this is a holding exercise. In fact, this exercise is far more complex than the above two types and focuses on smooth flow of prāṇa in and around that area of focus. For instance, uḍḍīyana falls into this classification. It is also important to take the following precautions before starting āsana practice: You know your body best. Practice to the limit your body allows only. As soon as there is discomfort, stop. Before starting any āsana practice, consult a physician. Practice only to the limits recommended by your physician. If you are new to Yogic physical culture, take the help of a certified master and instructor. The recommendations in this book are meant to enhance your awareness and knowledge. Ultimately, they cannot and do not replace professional expertise. Why Sanskrit words have been used in describing asanas for fitness and health. There is always a desire to make approximations of the Sanskrit words to make the subject more appealing and less forbidding. However, that has been avoided in this site. In fact, we attempt to stay as close as possible to the classical aspects of yogāsana.  Many teachers get started with warm up āsana and beginner āsana. However, Yogacharya Sundaram never really did that. In fact, he got people performing the below mentioned āsanas as soon as he could get them to flex. We agree with the approach. Hence, we have recommended āsanas which should be practiced regularly for overall health and fitness.  School of Yoga recommendation of āsana routines for health and fitness. Sl. No. Āsana Meaning / Translation 1 Padmāsana Lotus Pose Reverse Bending āsana 2 Bhujaṃgāsana Cobra Pose 3 Śalabhāsana Locust Pose 4 Dhanurāsana Bow Pose Forward bending āsana for upper and lower abdomen 5 Pavanamuktāsana Air relieving pose 6 Paschimotanāsana Torso stretch pose 7 Halāsana Plough pose 8 Mayurāsana Peacock pose Upper region āsana. Focus on neck, shoulders, lungs and head 9 Sarvāngāsana Pan-body pose 10 Matsyāsana Fish pose 11 Śirasāsana Head stand 12 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi Inverted triangle pose Abdominal āsana 13 Arda-matsyendrāsana Half fish middle pose 14 Yoga-mudra Yoga seal 15 Uḍḍīyana-bandhā Abdominal suction 16 Nauli Rectus Isolation Standing āsanas 17 Pādahastāsana Hand to toe pose 18 Trikonāsana Triangle pose 19 Tadasana Mountain pose 20 Vīrabhadrāsana Gracious warrior pose Body reset āsana 21 Śavāsana Corpse pose This should be followed by sūryanamaskāra-kriya. Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana,  Asana Overview 2, Drishti – Focus or gazing, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika,  External Links: Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha [...] Read more...
Āsana scheduling and practice, impact health outcome
Āsana scheduling and practice, impact health outcomeSchool of Yoga explains āsana practice. Āsana practice activates specific areas of the body by directing blood flow to the affected area when the āsana is performed. As a result, āsana brings increased rejuvenation of the area resulting in increased energy levels. There are two options for performing āsana – morning and evening. School of Yoga explains – best time to practice āsana. There are two options, morning and evening. Āsanas performed in the evening are less grueling, as the body has undergone the rigors of the day and is already pliable. However, in the evening, the emotional and intellectual energies are run down which results in lower awareness during exercises. Also, very often, not enough time has elapsed since the last meal. Āsanas (exercises) induce peristalsis, forcing undigested food though the intestines, reducing absorption of nutrients. In certain cases, where the meal has been heavy, or the gap less than four hours, resistance from a full stomach could induce stomach cramps. Āsanas activate specific areas of the body by directing blood flow to the area, when āsana are performed resulting in rejuvenation of the focus area. When āsana are performed in the morning, there is actually an increase in energy levels due to the optimisation of various body systems. However, the mind and body are rested, but stiff after sleep, in the morning. Āsanas can be painful when starting but with exercising, the organs fire up, loosen and begin flexing. The stomach and intestines are empty and offer no resistance to bending and stretching actions. A vigorous peristalsis action actually assists in evacuation of waste matter from the outer colon and rectum. School of Yoga recommends, Exercises be done in the morning are recommended, though schedules may force people to exercise in the evening. However, it is most important that the same time be maintained every day. This ensures that the system gets acclimatized to a routine and overcomes lethargy. It is also important to recognise the difference between āsana and kriya. Āsana is a static pose, while kriya is a dynamic pose, like uḍḍīyana, nauli and sūryanamaskāra. Both yield different benefits, and both need to be practiced. School of Yoga explains – āsana environment All forms of exercises give us an opportunity to increase the oxygen content in the body, remove toxins and stress and harmonise with the environment, thereby increasing one’s awareness of the environment (prajñā). Therefore, a tranquil and peaceful environment is very important when exercising. Therefore, it is recommended that the exercise be performed in any place that has plenty of fresh air and quiet. School of Yoga explains – the right clothes when performing āsana. Wear clothes that allow stretching and do not run or fall when stretching or bending. Clothes should breathe and absorb sweat. Men are advised to wear athletic supporters. Both men and women should wear well-fitting inner-wear to prevent injury during exercise. If one prefers going to classes for the sake of regularity and discipline, it is advisable that one wears appropriate clothing. School of Yoga explains – diet, a vital ingredient for getting the best results from āsana. Diet is absolutely vital to realise the full potential of the exercises. Eating the right food ensures absorption of essential ingredients and optimisation of the senses. Eat to stay within your weight range. It is important to start exercises after the lapse of at least 4 hours after consumption of solid food, 1 hour after consumption of liquid food such as milk or juice and 20 minutes after drinking water. The reason for this recommendation is that food takes roughly 4-6 hours to completely move out of the digestive system. The process of digestion begins with chewing of food and finishes with the absorption of nutrients in small intestine. Vigorous exercise induces peristalsis or pulsing of the intestine, which results in the food hurrying through the intestine without nutrients getting completely absorbed. Also, the presence of food in the digestive system acts like a resistor to bending and stretching. This acts in various ways; it can stop the full movement of the diaphragm thereby impeding full ingestion of air or induce sprains and cramps when the body is stretched/bent. School of Yoga explains – maintaining homeostasis when performing āsana. Homeostasis, may be defined as the tendency of the body to stay in equilibrium when all the interdependent elements are functioning normally. This means that when all the organs are functioning in the correct manner and the body is healthy. The indication that the body is in homeostasis can be seen when body parameters like body temperature, blood pressure etc., are operating in their set limits. Disturbance in these parameters is indicative of an imbalance within the body. The body then takes compensatory action to return to equilibrium and this manifests as fever etc. Yoga is great for building this reservoir so that homeostasis is recovered quickly when there is any illness. When performing āsana, it is important to try and stay close to the condition of homeostasis. The reason is that the muscles and internal organs should not experience stress during exercise to maximise blood flow and movement of the tissue resulting in rejuvenation of the area. Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika,  External Links: Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha School of Yoga explains – Points to ponder on āsana. Do you exercise? What is your āsana routine? When do you prefer to practice āsana? morning or evening? why? Do you do āsana alone or in a group? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Do you wear any special clothing for āsana? why? What is your diet? How do you manage your diet? [...] Read more...
Practice of Yoga therapy is key to fitness
Practice of Yoga therapy is key to fitnessSchool of Yoga explains practice of yoga therapy – an easy-to-use tool for a healthy life. The earlier article on yoga therapy highlighted the importance of equilibrium or homeostasis for health and the role yoga therapy practice can play to keep you healthy! The great thing about yoga therapy practice is that; It is easy to do, you can practice it even when you get old or recovering from illness. Yoga therapy integrates seamlessly into your life, so lifestyle changes required are minimum. You don’t need to spend big money on equipment. All you need is a mat! Therefore, yoga therapy practice is universal in capability. Yoga therapy is an open system. Once you learn the basics, you can develop it in any direction you wish. Yoga is a value system, means it will only add value to your life and its benefits are dependent only on your efforts. So, yoga therapy is “small investment, large return” tool which the ancient masters of Bhārat presented free to mankind. Therapy practice – āsana or postures With Yoga becoming popular around the world, many yoga centers have mushroomed around the world. So, the good news is that learning yoga is no longer a difficult process. Since information and teachers are universally available, all you need to do is practice exercises (āsana) that every part of the body. Therefore, once you learn the correct set of asanas, then all you need to do is ensure that you do them correctly and regularly. Many schools recommend various sets and routines of āsana. Also, various ancient texts recommend different routines. This can easily confuse the aspiring practitioner. In around 1921, Yogacharya Sundaram developed a set of āsana routines, which when coupled with diet and meditation supports rejuvenation from illness and post illness recovery. This was the first attempt by any person to systematise yoga therapy and the principles have not changed. Additionally, Sundaram detailed his views on Yoga Therapy, first in his Tamil book “Yoga Sigicchai” in 1952. Subsequently, this book was translated it into English in 2004 as Sundaram’s Yogic Therapy. Sundaram’s work was the result of over 20 years of research into the application of āsana for freedom from disease in an era when doctors were hard to find and the modern diagnostics was not available. Āsana as a tool for yoga therapy. The classical definition from Patanjali’s yoga-sūtra (2.46) of āsana is स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥ or sthira-sukham-asanam. The rough translation of this Sanskrit text is, sthira (static or stable) + sukham (comfortable or pleasant) + āsanam (posture). Āsana therefore needs to comply with the following rules; It should be static, not vigorous or dynamic. It should be easy to perform and not stressful. Is should be at one place, with minimal movement. Yogacharya Sundaram introduced a breathing routine. This increases quality of air intake and awareness (pragnya). Therefore, āsana is a static exercise where the body movement is minimal and the focus is on holding the pose to maximise impact and movement of prāṇa in a specific areas of the body. This requirement will result in the practitioner of yoga therapy remaining close to the state of homeostasis, which is a condition of the body remaining in balance and equilibrium.  This is what make yoga therapy a universal tool for maintaining and reclaiming health at any age or condition. Āsana is supported by kriya and bandha Kriya (dynamic exercises):  Exercises which increase flexibility of the body. Sūryanamaskāra and nauli falls into this classification. Bandha (holding position): This exercise is far more complex than the above two types and focuses on smooth flow of prāṇa in and around that area of focus. Uḍḍīyana falls into this classification. School of Yoga – note to the reader on therapy practice. Use of Sanskrit words – there is always a desire to make approximations to make the subject more appealing and less forbidding. However, that has been avoided in this site. The reason is that translations are at best approximations which may not present the truth to the reader. However, availability of both, the classical Sanskrit word and its translation will allow the reader to come to an informed judgement. This might make the page slightly heavy for reading, but one could skip the Sanskrit word and move to the translation. Many teachers get started with warm up āsana and beginner āsanas. Yogacharya Sundaram never really did that. In fact, he got people started on the below mentioned āsana sequence as soon as he could get them to flex. This is the right approach because, by definition āsanas are static position and the warm up aspect is already embedded in them. The most appropriate set of āsana and their sequence have been detailed below. School of Yoga āsana practice recommendations. The āsana sequence given below cover every aspect of human physiology, therefore most normal ailments. The āsana sequence can be mixed and matched to cover specific requirements of any ailment. For normal, healthy people, it is recommended that one perform as many of these āsana as possible for a healthy life. Āsana should be coupled with prāṇāyāma and meditation or dhyāna for maximum benefit. The detailed instructions are given in the links to the āsana.  The recommended therapy practice exercise sequence is, Sl. No. Āsana Meaning / Translation 1 Padmāsana Lotus Pose Reverse Bending āsana 2 Bhujaṃgāsana Cobra Pose 3 Shalabhāsana Locust Pose 4 Dhanurāsana Bow Pose Forward bending āsana for upper and lower abdomen 5 Pavanamuktāsana Air relieving pose 6 Paschimotanāsana Torso stretch pose 7 Halāsana Plough pose 8 Mayurāsana Peacock pose Upper region āsana: Focus on neck, shoulders, lungs and head 9 Sarvāngāsana Pan-body pose 10 Matsyāsana Fish pose 11 Śirasāsana Head stand 12 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi Inverted triangle pose Abdominal āsana 13 Arda-matsyendrāsana Half fish middle pose 14 Yoga-mudra Yoga seal 15 Uḍḍīyana-bandhā Abdominal suction Standing āsanas 16 Pādahastāsana Hand to toe pose 17 Trikonāsana Triangle pose 18 Vīrabhadrāsana Gracious warrior pose Body reset āsana 19 Śavāsana Corpse pose This should be followed by sūryanamaskāra-kriya. Prāṇāyāma – Daily practice recommendations While there are many pranayama techniques such as sama-vritti (even breathing), visama-vritti (uneven breathing), śītalī (tongue curled between the lips), śītkārin (tongue curled between the teeth), udgīta (prāṇāyāma with chanting) etc. However, a prāṇāyāma cycle comprising the following schedule is adequate to meet daily requirements; Prāṇāyāma  Cycles Benefits Nāḍī-śuddhi with kumbhaka 5-20 Overall lung functioning, balancing of left/ right brain, balancing of ida & pingala nadis Bhastrikā 20-50 Increases lung capacity, transfer capacity, activates dead alveoli, increases lung elasticity and strengthens diaphragm. Kapālabhātī 20-50 Increases volumetric efficiency of the lungs, strengthens the trachea and all pulmonary vessels. Strengthens the abdominal walls. Ujjeyī 5-20 Improves the autonomous nervous system, the heart, clears ears and sinuses. Bhramarī 5-10 Opens the nasal passages, clears all the sinuses, removes mucous. Nāḍī-śuddhi 5 Close with nāḍī-śuddhi to reset the system Additionally, it is important to practice prāṇāyāma on an empty stomach and in a clean room with the windows open. Prāṇāyāma, when done after asana, increases the effectiveness of prāṇāyāma as the entire body has made optimized. Lastly, don’t forget to keep your weight in the correct range and get adequate sleep. Therapy practice – meditation or dhyāna There are many techniques in meditation, but the simplest of all requires the following steps to be followed; Sit comfortably. Let your body relax from head to toe. Become aware of your breathing. Observe your breath at any one place along the path of the breath. Be still. Stop resisting. Seek the silence which occurs between in & out or out and in. Stay in the silence.  Allow the consciousness (citta) to drift and keep bringing it back to the silence slowly. This will take effort. Conclusion of therapy practice. To summarise, staying healthy is easy. All it requires is altering some aspects of one’s lifestyle. Though the steps sound easy, but bringing habits under control will require effort. Over time, there will be success. [...] Read more...
Yoga class – How the first yoga class began
Yoga class – How the first yoga class beganSchool of Yoga explains Yoga History – The first Yoga class… Circumstances of the first yoga class: Swami Yogendra met a cosmopolitan Parsi consulting engineer in his early 50s, Homi Dadina sometime in 1918. Homi Dadina was the son-in-law of “The Grand Old Man of India,” Dadabhai Naoroji, the renowned Indian political leader. Dadani had been plagued by obesity, dyspepsia, hyperuricemia, prostatic hypertrophy, piles, and rheumatism for nearly 20 years. Expressing frustration, Dadina explained his failures with the treatments provided by doctors in India, England and Germany. They had provided only temporary relief. In response, Yogendra recommended a natural treatment to Dadina for his ailments: yoga.  Convinced, Dadina invited Yogendra to stay on at his Versova large beach-front home, “The Sands”. He had been “Bowled over” by “the yogin’s ways and manners and eager to try his nature cure. Initially, Yogendra conducted informal yoga classes to Dadina and a few other men on the beach. Soon after this, he founded The Yoga Institute in Dadina’s house soon after this episode. The first batch of students enrolled for a regular course on December 25, 1918. Without doubt, the instruction held that Christmas morning on Versova beach was a momentous event. It marked the first step in the formation of modern hatha yoga. Santan Rodrigues, Yogendra’s biographer, proclaimed that “this was a red letter day in the history of Yoga. Yoga was taught to the man of the world for the first time .” School of Yoga merchandise School of Yoga explains the importance of – the first yoga class: In founding The Yoga Institute, Yogendra had relocated the center of hatha yoga instruction from the realm of the sacred to the secular. He moved it from the ashram to the yoga center or institute. Hereafter, yoga was practiced as a lifestyle discipline instead of a place for renunciates to withdraw from ordinary society to seek spiritual liberation. He had made an essentially spiritual experience into a secular experience.The means of this subversion of the hatha yoga tradition was its radical—but now axiomatic—form of instruction: the yoga class. The Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice by Elliott Goldberg © 2016 Inner Traditions. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com  [...] Read more...
Vedānga – the limbs of the Vedas
Vedānga – the limbs of the VedasSchool of Yoga explains Vedānga – the limbs of the Vedas. Vedānga (वेदाङ्ग – limbs of the Vedas) are six sub-disciplines connected with the study of the Vedas. The intent of Vedānga was to ensure retention of purity of the original texts from degradation arising from time, local syntax, pronunciation changes, introduction of grammatical changes etc., all of which impact languages over time. This study allows the Vedas to retain their original design purity. School or Yoga explains – Elements of the Vedāngas. Śikṣā or study in phonetics and pronunciation. The focus here is to ensure that the recitation of the Vedic texts follows a specific accent, stress, melody and incantation. It had six elements – vārna (quality), svara (accent), mātra (cadence), balā (strength of delivery or articulation), sāman (recital) and saṁtana (continuity of delivery). Chandas or study of meter in the poetry of the Vedas, including number of syllables, words, spacing etc in the structuring of the śloka or verse. The placement of words was defined and precise; this when used in conjunction with vyākaraṇa and śikṣā, the meaning and formation could remain unchanged for centuries. Vyākaraṇa or grammar. This is the study of grammar which allows correct formation of words and sentences to represent ideas. Though there were many, the most famous of Sanskrit grammarians are Panni and Taska (around 500 BCE). The term literally means “separation, analysis or explanation”. The most celebrated vyākaraṇa work is Panini’s 4,000-sutra aṣṭādhyāyī, which set the linguistic standards for classical Sanskrit, but it should be understood that development of vyākaraṇa principles have been enunciated in the Rig Veda (2000 BCE) and there have been many since, such as Patanjali who have worked on vyākaraṇa. Nirukta is study of etymology or glossary of words. It emerged as a limb of the Vedas due to a requirement whereby the meaning and source of almost 20% of the words used in the Vedas started getting lost as they had been used only one. Nirukta ensures that the meaning and correct usage are explained. This removes ambiguity in the meaning of various words and establishes the context in which they may be used. Major contribution in this limb is credited to Yaska (around 500 BCE). Kalpa or ritual processes. This is the instruction manual of how various rituals need to be performed. There are four primary kalpa-śāstra Śrauta-sūtra and Śulba-sūtra which primarily deal with public rituals or yajñá (sacrifice) Gṛhya-sūtra which deals with rituals connected with the home, often major life events as detailed in the saṃskāra  such as birth, thread ceremony, marriage and funeral rites. Dharma-sūtra which deals with the duties of various individuals, castes and communities. This deals with conditioning of behavior within a society. Jyotiṣa refers to astrology/ astronomy or study of movement of planets and their impact on various elements of life, used mainly for conducting rites and rituals. Over time, the science of jyotiṣa was used for many other activities such as astrology. What you should know after reading this blog; What are the Vedangas? Why are they important? Detail the connection between Veda and Vedanga? What are the elements of the Vedangas? Explain śikṣā, its importance to the Vedas and its elements What is the relevance of chandas and its importance to the Vedas. Explain vyākaraṇa and its importance to the Vedas. How does nirukta impact the study of the Vedas. Explain kalpa, its importance to the Vedas and its elements What is the relevance of jyotiṣa and its importance to the Vedas. [...] Read more...
Point of focus (dṛṣṭi) increases awareness
Point of focus (dṛṣṭi) increases awarenessSchool of Yoga explains point of focus (dṛṣṭi). Dṛṣṭi is that aspect of āsana which ensures increased awareness of the practitioner by making him focus on a single point when performing any āsana.  Background: Our desires start from gaze. We look, register, judge and decide. Unfortunately, decision-making comes with bias, so we end up liking or disliking the object. This agitates us and we end up losing our peace of mind. Can we look without de-stabilising our peace of mind? Yes, with practice, and this is why gazing (dṛṣṭi) is important in asana practice. What is gazing (dṛṣṭi)? In Yoga, dṛṣṭi is as important as breathing (prāṇāyāma) or correctness of pose (sthiram = firmness and sukham = comfort) for multiple reasons; First, dṛṣṭi is a precursor to bringing control to the consciousness (citta). This is because, when we practice steady gazing, the consciousness (citta) begins to lose its fluctuations, agitations and unsteadiness. Slowly, it becomes steady and serene. This allows the practitioner to be more effective at meditation practice (dhyāna). Secondly, dṛṣṭi increases the power of concentration. This results in increased single pointed focus (ekāgrath) which helps during meditation (dhyāna). However, it is absolutely vital that the gazing (dṛṣṭi) be tranquil and steady but not intense or stressed as this will tire the practitioner and stress the brain. There are about nine dṛṣṭis, points of focus when performing āsanas. Angushtamadhye – अङ्गूष्ठमध्ये – gazing at center of the thumb Āsanas which use angushtamadhye are veerabhadrāsana and trikonāsana. Bhrumadhye – भ्रूमध्ये – meaning center of the eyebrows The ājñā-cakra controls the amygdala, a critical component of the limbic system which controls breathing, emotions, behaviour, memory and motivation. Focus at the center of the brows is considered to ensure control over the ājñā-cakra and the endocrine organs.  Āsanas which use bhrumadhye-dṛṣṭi are padmasana, sukhasana and siddhasana. Nāsāgre – नासाग्रे – meaning tip of the nose. The movement of the diaphragm determines the speed with which the air crosses the septum during inhalation. The septum is a venturi-like part of the nasal system. The entering air moving through the septum, a venture and this determines the operating temperature and pressure of air in the nasal passage. Therefore, focus on the tip of the nose is important for regulating speed and quality of air flow (ensuring non-agitated, steady and peaceful breathing) into the body. Āsanas using nāsāgre-dṛṣṭi are all seated āsanas which lead up to meditation (dhyāna) such as padmāsana, sukhāsana and siddhāsana. Generally, one is advised against using this gaze (dṛṣṭi) in any āsana, kriya (action) or bandhā (holding) pose because of difficulty in applying focus. Hastagrahe – हसतग्रहे – means taking the hand as in marriage, referring to palm or tips of the hand which seek or reach out. Āsanas using hastagrahe is pincha-mayurāsana. Pārshva – पार्श्व – means the side. This is an āsana by itself, requiring the practitioner to look to the corner of the eyes on either side. Generally, the head has to be kept in straight ahead position and only the eyeballs must move. This dṛṣṭi is very good for energising the ājñā-chakra. This dṛṣṭi is used in a variation of trikonāsana. Urdhva – ऊर्घ्व – means above, aloft or upwards. This dṛṣṭi is used in bhujaṃgāsana, dhanurāsana etc. Nābhicakre – नाभिचक्रे – center of the navel This dṛṣṭi is used in pādahastāsana and paschimotanāsana. Pādayoragre – पाडयोरग्रे – Gazing at the tip of the toes. This dṛṣṭi is used in sarvāngāsana and viparīta-karaṇī Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana,  Asana Overview 2, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika,  External Links: Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha [...] Read more...
Motility system or prāṇa and links to āsana
Motility system or prāṇa and links to āsanaSchool of Yoga explains prāṇa or energy system. Prāṇa (motility) is a unit of motility – this has also been called a life-force or chi. It cannot be seen, but can be sensed. Cognition of prāṇa in the body (kṣetra) is prajñā (situational awareness). This awareness (prajñā) of the body is called awareness of the region (kṣetrajña). The body (kṣetra) is considered to be made up of five sheaths (kośa) these are; Sheath made by food (annamayakośa). Sheath of prāṇa (prāṇamayakośa). Sheath of cognition (manomayakoṣa). Sheath of awareness of the system (vijñānamayakoṣa). Sheath of merger (ānandamayakoṣa). We can also split awareness (prajñā) of a body (kshetragnya) into three levels. Gross (sthūla) – This covers all aspects that can be cognized by the senses (indriya), cognitive apparatus (manas) and intellect (buddhi). For example: the world and all material are considered to be made of five cardinal elements or panchabhūtas which are earth (prithvi), water (áp), fire (agni), air (vāyu) and space (ākāṣa). All of these elements can be sensed by the sensory system and decoded into what they represent by the cognitive and logical apparatus. So, when we shop for vegetables, we look at the gross aspects of the vegetable – its colour, texture and feel to ascertain its health through our sensory apparatus and this is decoded by our cognitive and logical apparatus. Within our bodies, this translates to the sheath made by food (annamayakośa) and sheath of prāṇa (prāṇamayakośa). This is called sthūla-śarīra or cognition of the gross body, which covers awareness of the material aspect of the human body driven by diet (annamayakośa) and motility (prāṇamayakośa). Subtle (sūkṣma) – The awareness of gross elements is driven by an underlying principle, which is the consciousness (citta).  For example – The body is a complex mechanism and health is primarily determined by a condition known as homeostasis where you are considered healthy if your vitals are within a certain range, such as blood pressure, temperature, weight etc. But, how does the body maintain everything within homeostasis? That subtle element which controls physical manifestation of normalcy is the subtle body (sūkṣma-śarīra). In the body, this is the awareness of the movement of consciousness within the body is called sheath of cognition (manomayakoṣa) and sheath of awareness of the system (vijñānamayakoṣa). For instance, when you read this sentence, the primary information you see is derived through its physical attributes (sthūla-śarīra), of alphabets and words that are transmitted through a device. However, your experience of the underlying principles (sūkṣma-śarīra) comes from the quality of your awareness as you decipher the information (manomayakoṣa) relating to the subject (vijñānamayakoṣa).  Causal (kāraṇa) – this is the state from which all materiality (māyā) is caused, the reason materiality exists. While the base is Brahman, it is also the launch point of experience. This is called the sheath of joy (ananda-maya-kosha). For example – we know that Archimedes was bobbing physically (sthūla) in a bathtub in a state of null (Brahman) watching the waters sloshing over the tub and his body bobbing. Suddenly, an inspiration occurred (ānandamayakoṣa), and he cracked the problem of buoyancy (sūkṣma). The same can be applied to Newton sitting under a tree watching the apple fall down or August Kekule imagining the Benzene ring to be a snake chasing its own tail or Watson to discover the ATGC (adenine-thyamine-guanine-cystocine) model of DNA. This is the causal state (kāraṇa-śarīra). Prāṇamayakośa (sheath driven by prāṇa) This is the most important and difficult aspect to understand. Unlike medicine where the body is considered to be a biochemical process, in Yoga the body is considered to be driven by airstreams (vāyu), channels (nādi) and vortices (cakras), all of which are currents of motility (prāṇa). Since they are subtle, they cannot be measured and are experiential. They are classified as; Airstream (vāyu). prāṇa-vāyu (incoming motility flow), apāna-vāyu (outgoing motility flow), vyāna-vāyu (ethereal or aural energy motility flow), udāna-vāyu (upward moving motility flow),  samāna-vāyu (digestion motility flow). Cakras – vortices of prāṇa It is known in yoga and other forms of Oriental healing that rate of energy flow through these centres affects the behaviour of the person. As a matter of fact, ancient Oriental texts on this subject from India, China, Korea, and Japan speak of multiple energy vortices (cakra), but all agree that there are six major vortices in the human body which control all major organs. Base cakra (mūl̄adhāra): (mūl̄= base + ādhar = foundation or source) The first of the energy vortices aligns itself with the perineum, a flat region above the coccyx and between the anus and genitals. This centre affects the physiological aspects of the individual, that is, the overall energy levels, feeling of safety and health. Self-evolution cakra (svādhiṣṭhāna): (sva = self + adhiṣṭhāna = evolved place) This energy vortex corresponds to the sacral region around the genital area. It affects sexuality, social and communications skills of the individual. Control of this centre results in strong response control and emotional stability. Stomach cakra (maṇipūra): (maṇipūra = navel) This energy vortex is placed around the navel and corresponds to the lumbar area of the spine. This is a centre that controls situational and management skills. Heart cakra (anāhata): (ana= not + āhata = touched)  Placed at the centre of the chest, this responds to the thoracic region on the spine. This is also the centre of emotional energy. So, a balanced centre is essential for emotional stability. Throat cakra (viśuddhi): (viśuddhi = extraordinarily pure) This energy vortex is placed around the Adam’s apple and corresponds to the cervical region in the spine. The thyroid, parathyroid and lymphatic systems, which control metabolic activity reside here. Since metabolism is the ability of the body to convert food into usable energy and rebuilding of tissue, seamless energy flow here is critical. This is also the area which controls breathing and food intake, so any disruption in our stress levels will immediately impact the quality of our breathing and digestion. Forehead cakra (ājña): (ājña = that which commands) This energy vortex is placed between the eyebrows in the front of the cranium. It controls the functioning of the other energy vortices. It energizes the amygdala, pituitary and endocrine glands etc. and controls both, primary and secondary response. Consequently, this energy vortex is the primary input point for “fight or flight” stimulus. One can see that the cakra system of Yoga is highly evolved and can be used in therapy. Another important aspect is that Yoga recognises that each of these vortices may be activated, depleted or congested to varying degrees and that this is an actively changing parameter. This makes the Yoga system subtle and sophisticated. Prāṇa can be sensed as mild pressures over the surface of the entity though they flow as vortices along various intersection points on all objects, known as vortices (cakras). In the human body, they exist at various points, but the main ones can be perceived along the spine through which channels of prāṇa (nādis). When āsanās are practiced, the prāṇa sheaths (kośas) and vortices (cakrās) begin to get streamlined. As a result, prāṇa flow is smooth and not depleted or congested. Consequently, there is rejuvenation of the organs and body. Finally, as a result of smooth prāṇa flow, stress levels drop, discrimination (vivekam) and dispassion (vairāgyam) are increased. Points to ponder. Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness. Karma,  External Links: Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi. Have you experienced changes to your energy levels in times of stress? When you are driving any vehicle and wish to cut across traffic, where is the stress felt most on your body? (It should be along the lower back). Consequently, do you become aware of the energy flow and points of congestion or depletion? How is the energy level and flow affected when one has a cold? [...] Read more...
Dharma – Concept of natural state or conditioning
Dharma – Concept of natural state or conditioningSchool of Yoga explains dharma and karma. Whenever we receive any stimulus, we either like or dislike it. If we find congruence with the stimulus, we bring the source of the stimulus closer to us (rāga) but if we dislike the stimulus, we push the subject or person away (dveṣa). This action of bringing the source of stimulus closer or pushing it away is called karma (action). We like or dislike anything because we evaluate the stimulus against our personal standards or natural state. This standard is called (dharma).  Dharma is the natural-state of any entity. It is that state when the entity is in harmony with itself, its environment and its actions. Dharma occurs at multiple levels. They are; Generic natural-state or sāmānya-dharma. Generic natural-state or sāmānya-dharma can be defined as those characteristics which are common to any family or genus of entities. For example: Gold has specific characteristics which are different from lead or silver. However, all of them come under a common category of metals. All metals have a common natural state. They are solid and have the same properties such as malleability, tensile strength etc. and this is called sāmānya-dharma. Also, metals as a category, exhibit characteristics which are different from animals, trees, fishes or humans. This specific defining character which defines each category, family or genus is called sāmānya-dharma.  Unique natural-state or viśeṣa-dharma. Unique natural-state or viśeṣa-dharma is the natural-state of individual entities within a category. For example: Within metals, gold is different from copper, silver or iron. In wood, teak is different from oak or rubber. The family of wood will conform to the category of sāmānya-dharma. However, the unique natural-state (viśeṣa-dharma) of teak will be different from oak, sandalwood or rosewood. This logic can be expanded in multiple directions. For instance, the unique natural-state (viśeṣa-dharma) of a table will be different from that of a chair or sofa, even though they may both be made from the same tree. Thus, all tables will exhibit a unique natural-state, regardless of the material used to make them. In fact, this concept is applicable to all entities. A heart has a unique natural-state, regardless of the body. It and cannot do the job of the stomach, even though both may be in the same body.  Individual natural-state or conditioning (svadharma). Each of us behaves differently. This is on account of conditioning brought about by DNA, family, upbringing, societal norms, diet and habits. Consequently, this allows individuals to select information, analyse and process it in a unique manner and behave in the way they do. This specific characteristics of capability at an individual level is called svadharma (sva = self + dharma = conditioning). Since this natural-state is unique to each of us, it becomes our conditioning. Universal natural-state or sanātana-dharma Dharma covers operation of all animate and inanimate entities, including planets, galaxies and nations. Everything can be classified under generic, unique or personal natural-state. This concept is universal in its applicability; hence it is called universal natural-state or sanātana-dharma. For example – the natural state of the earth is position, shape, atmosphere and ability to sustain life. In the case of a nation, its dharma can possibly be its constitution, flag, states, people etc. School of Yoga explains dharma as it is applied to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. Dharma is not a belief. It is a practice, a way of life. This means that dharma requires and ensures that people live in harmony with the natural frequencies of things as far as possible. For example, the dhārmic structure of Hindus is designed to ensure balance and harmony in the way people live, making it a way of life: The Vedas, Vedāṅga, Vedānta, Shad-darśana, Brahma-sutra, Itihāsa and Pūraṇa provide the conceptual basis of existence. These texts detail the essence of existentiality and guide practitioners on how to live life, transcend materiality (māyā) and merge with the Truth/ source (Brahman). The above concepts are then converted into rites of passage (samskāra) which people can follow through their lives. These rites are mostly celebrations and they are designed to bring people and societies together harmoniously as well as to ensure that all understand and practice dharma. These include sīmantonnayana (parting of hair), nāmakaraṇa (naming ceremony), vivāha (marriage) and antayesti (last rites) to name a few. Samskāras are then adapted with local language, food, climate and other natural aspects to make them unique for a community (jāti). This harmonises the practice of dharma with specific groups of people. To ensure that practices of groups do not clash with each other, yama (behaviour control with the environment) and niyama (ability to internalize stimulus and respond peacefully) are practiced by people. Since many of these ceremonies are performed at the temple, the temple becomes a centre of wellbeing of the people. So, the temple becomes the anchor of dharma and society. People are given the option of worshipping deities according to their personal preferences. Adi Shankara has classified six major schools of worship (shan-matha-bodham), these being śaivam (worship of Śiva), śāktyam (worship of Śakti), vaiṣṇavam (worship of Vishnu), śauryam (worship of Soorya or Sun), gaṇapāṭyam worship of Gaṇeśa) and kaumāram (worship of Kumāra or Karthik). Furthermore, in addition to the above major schools, there are multiple smaller deities. For example, embedded in śauryam is worship of nava-graha (nine planets), in the form or Sun (sūrya), Moon (soma), Mars (maṅgala), Mercury (budha), Jupiter (guru/ bṛhaspati), Venus (śukra), Saturn (śani), Solar-node (rāhu) and Lunar-node (ketú). Actually, rāhu and ketú have no real Western equivalence, calling them nodes is for convenience only. Importantly, all Hindus are expected to perform pañca-maha-yajñá (five major sacrifices) everyday. Pañca-maha-yajñá are rishi-yajñá or sacrifice to those who give conceptual understanding to life, deva-yajñá (sacrifice to the deities, which can include kula-devata or family deity, iṣṭadeva or personal deity, grāma-devata or village deities etc.), pitṛ-yajñá or sacrifice to the ancestors who gave us life, bhu-yajñá or sacrifice to nature and manuṣya-yajñá or sacrifice to other humans in the form of food, clothing, shelter etc. Since sacrifice is woven into the Hindu way of life, Hindus are naturally and uniquely sensitive to all creation. Additionally, Hindus festivals are uniquely aligned with seasons. In fact, Hindus recognise the electromagnetic impact of various planets on individuals and celebrate various conjunctions and planetary transits. This is the level of sensitivity of Hindus with their existentiality. Hindus also recognize that dharma must change as one ages, this is called āśrama. The four āśrama are brahmacarya-āśrama (stage of youth), grahastāśrama (stage of a house-holder), vānaprasthāśrama (stage of retirement) and sannyasāśrama (stage of renunciation). Lastly, dharma changes with respect to puruṣārtha or material objective, these being artha (material outcome), kāma (outcome driven by desire), dharma (outcome driven by righteousness) and mokṣa (outcome driven by transcendence). Finally, dharma is driven by kāla (time), sthala (place) and pātra (plate). This means that dharma is modulated by place and what one eats at various times of the day. All this is conveyed by language (shruti) that is unique to each people. One can see the granularity to which dharma has been defined and codified as well as the open structure of its construct, which allows accommodation of all forms of opinions, behaviours and personalities (svabhāva). This is how Hindu way of living becomes universal and is hence gets called sanātana-dharma. However, it is important to recognize the despite the codification, the key driver of dharma is only one, that is that there are multiple paths to the Truth (Brahman) and the objective of life is to find it. Since, each person may follow his or her own unique path, development of awareness (prajñā) through Yoga, tolerance of other paths is hardwired into practitioners of Hindu way of living.  Unfortunately, it also makes this open-format way of life vulnerable to religions which have very different views on life and living. This results in confrontation and destruction of harmony as well as increase in strife and chaos (adharma). School of Yoga explains dharma, karma and adharma Whenever action conforms to the natural state of any entity, there is no agitation. Therefore, the natural state of dharma is a state of peace or harmony. However, when action is performed counter to the natural state of any entity, there is disturbance and this is called adharma (chaos/ contrary to the natural state). Consequently, when a cow is fed with meat, it is adharma (against its natural state) and the consequence to the cow falls sick with “mad cow disease”.  Points to ponder on dharma; Internal Tags:  Self Awareness or Asmita, Karma External Tags: homeostasis How do we recognise our natural state?  How do we recognise the linkage between natural state and behaviour?  What is the linkage between dharma, adharma and righteousness?  What is fear of failure?  Can God be linked to dharma or natural state? How?  Is there any link between dharma and prayer?  Can we really control events or are we mostly reacting to them?  Is death a natural state?  What is the linkage between dharma, stress and karma?  Is it hard to admit that you are experiencing adharma?  Is it possible to recognise a person who is in adharmic state? [...] Read more...
Vedānta – the end of the Vedas
Vedānta – the end of the VedasSchool of Yoga explains vendānta and upaniṣad. Upaniṣad means “sitting at the feet of”. Upaniṣads are considered to be texts which philosophically follow the Vedas, hence are also called vedānta (end of the Vedas). School of Yoga explains features of the upaniṣads: Upaniṣads are part of a collection of material called vedānta (Veda + anta = end), meaning end of the Vedas. All upaniṣads deal more or less with the same subject. In fact, they explain the nature of the Brahman, the ātman (soul), mokshā (salvation) and the method of reaching it. They are all generally believed to have been composed between 1000 BC and 1000 AD. Since, written scriptures were not common at the time, the upaniṣads rely heavily on sruti (speech/ verse). Since, the most important upaniṣads or mukhya-upaniṣads can be traced to the same period (1000 BC to 500 BC). Consequently, it is possible to assume that most of the authors were contemporaries and found different methods to reach the same goal. Also, Buddhism was founded around the same period (Gautama Buddha – between 580 BC and 400 BC) as was Jainism as founded by Mahavira (between 480 BC and 408 BC). Hence, there is likely overlap of concepts and practices between the three major philosophical schools. School of Yoga explains types of upaniṣad: Though more than 108 upaniṣads are known to exist, 12 are considered important of principal upaniṣads (mukhya-upaniṣad). These are: Īśā upaniṣad, part of śukla (white) Yajurveda – approximately 17-18 verses. Kena upaniṣad, part of Talavakara Brāhmana of Sāmaveda – 28 main + 6 epilogue = 34 verses Kaṭha upaniṣad, part of kṛṣṇa (black) Yajurveda – divided into two chapters, each with three subdivisions. Praṣna upaniṣad, part of Atharvaveda. It answers 6 questions and is set in three chapters and six sections. Muṇḍaka upaniṣad, part of Atharvaveda contains 64 verses divided into 3 parts (mundakams), each having two sections. Māṇḍūkya upaniṣad, part of Atharvaveda contains 12 short verses and discusses the nature of “Om” and 4 states of consciousness. Taittirīya upaniṣad, part of kṛṣṇa (black) Yajurveda is structured into 3 chapters, śikṣā-vallī having 12 lessons, ānanda-vallī having 9 lessons and brighu-vallī having 10 lessons, totalling to 31 lessons. Aitareya upaniṣad, part of Rigveda comprises the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of the second book of aitareya-aranyaka which is one of the four layers of Rig Veda. Chāndogya upaniṣad is a part of Samaveda contains eight prapāṭhaka or lectures with many volumes and verses. It is one of the oldest upaniṣads. Bṛhadāraṇyaka upaniṣad is a part of Shukla (white) Yajurveda. It contains 6 chapters. Śvetāśvatara–upaniṣad is a part of kṛṣṇa (dark) Yajurveda, arranged in 6 chapters containing 113 verses. Kauṣītaki upaniṣad is a common upaniṣad, originally part of Rigveda. It is arranged in 4 chapters containing 5,15, 9 and 20 verses respectively. Maitrī upaniṣad is a part of kṛṣṇa-Yajurveda arranged in seven lessons The following two ideas dominate the teaching of all the upaniṣads: Final emancipation can be attained only by knowledge of the Ultimate reality, or Brahman (Brahmajnana). He who is equipped with the four means of salvation, viz. vivekam (discrimination), vairāgyam (dispassion), shad-sampatham (the six-fold treasure; self-control, etc.) and mumukṣutva (yearning for liberation), can attain Brahman. What you should know after reading this blog on vedānta. What is Vedānta? What are the Upaniṣads? How are they related to the Vedas? What is the central theme of the Upaniṣads? How many Upaniṣads exist? Which are important? How are the various Upaniṣads attached to Vedas? What is the central theme of the Upaniṣads? [...] Read more...
Vishva-sūryanamaskāra (Universal Sun Salutation)
Vishva-sūryanamaskāra (Universal Sun Salutation)School of Yoga explains sūryanamaskāra (sun salutation) Since the advent of consciousness, man has always recognised the importance and role of the Sun in life. Early man attributed all life to the energy of the sun. In fact, in India the qualities of the sun were aggregated into a deity called savitā / savitṛ. Savitā was also the deity of ṛtā or excellence in Saṁskṛtam. Interestingly, ṛtā is a cognate of asa in Persian, arête (perfection in Greek) and ariete in Latin. Also, daily prayers are called sandhyāvandana (worship of sun’s transition) and the exercise is called sūryanamaskāra (Sun salutation). Additionally, there is a very important vedic śloka (verse) called ādityahṛdayam (heart like the sun), which was supposed to infuse valour and remove fear. Many temples in India, such as one at Konarak and Suryanar-koil venerate the sun. There’s also ne in Multan, Pakistan. Additionally, there’s a temple in Beijing, Mayan Sun temples in Palenque (South Mexico) and El Zotz (Guatemala) and multiple temples in Japan built to the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu and in Egypt, built to Ra, the Sun God. Furthermore, in India there are two festivals associated with the sun (makar-saṅkarāṇti / Pongal) associated with uttarāyaṇa or northward movement and karka-saṅkarāṇti with dakṣiṇāyana or movement south and ratha-saptami when the Sun is supposed to turn his chariot north. Undoubtedly, human existence and culture has been inextricably linked to the sun. Indeed, many cultures of the old world, such as Iran, India and Far East start their New Year when the Sun enters Aries.  Finally, the kriya associated with the Sun is called sūryanamaskāra (sun salutation). Furthermore, it is a 12-step process, comprising namaskārāsana, hastottanāsana, pādahastāsana, aśva-sañcalanāsana, caturanga-dandāsana, adho-mukha-śvanāsana, aṣṭāṅga-namaskārāsana, bhujaṃgāsana, (bālāsana), aśva-sañcalanāsana, padahastāsana, hastottanāsana and namaskārāsana. However, School of Yoga has inserted bālāsana after bhujaṃgāsana to reverse the spinal pressure of bhujaṃgāsana and make this kriya a more effective one. This variation has been renamed as viśva-sūryanamaskāra or universal sun salutation. Viśva-sūryanamaskāra technique A cycle of sūryanamaskāra consists of 12 independent positions. Position 1: Namaskārāsana (namaskār pose) Stand upright, facing the Sun. Next, place hands together at the chest in anjali-mudra.Breathe evenly.Let dṛṣṭi (focus) be on the anāhata-cakra or centre of the chest.Breathe in through the nose. Benefits: This brings balance in posture, calmness in the mind, relaxation in the spine and evenness in the breath (removes agitation in the breath). Position 2: Hastottanāsana (hands stretching pose) Breathing out, straighten and stretch torso backwards with hands over the head as far as possible.Hold hands straight.Hold for 2 counts.Breathe in and straighten the body. Keep hands up.Let dṛṣṭi be at the tip of the thumb (angushtamadhye). Benefits: This posture stretches the spine, infuses blood to the cerebro-spinal system. Position 3: Pādahastāsana (feet to hands pose) Breathing out, bend torso forward at the waist so that hands rest close to the feet.However, in case of difficulty, bend knees slightly and bring hands to the ground.Push head as close to the knees as possible. Try and keep legs straight.Let dṛṣṭi be ūrdhva-dṛṣṭi (open space gaze).Hold for 2 counts. Benefits: The movement forward presses the abdominal viscera, helping to reduce fat and assist weight reduction. Also, there is also infusion of blood to the abdominal organs, which improves their health and functioning. Lastly, forward bending also compensates for the previous reverse stretch, thus increasing blood supply to the cerebro-spinal system. Position 4: Aśva-sañcalanāsana (horse parading pose) Breathe in, use hands to take the weight of the body,Stretch one leg back as far as possible in a sliding motion without leaving the floor. This is to ensure that balance is not lost.Stretch the leg so that the thigh of the other leg presses the chest.Breathe out as you stretch the torso and neck backwards. Hold for 3 countsLet dṛṣṭi be ūrdhva-dṛṣṭi (open space gaze). Benefits: The stretching action is very good for overall health of the musculo-skeletal system. Also, this increases strength and flexibility of the hip, pelvic area, knees and shoulders. Position 5: Adho-mukha-śvanāsana (downward facing dog pose) Breathe in and balancing the body on the hands, slide the forward foot backwards to join both feet. Keep legs slightly apart.Breathing out, shift weight of the body from hands to legs by moving buttocks up and back. Keep knees and hands straight.Push back until hamstrings are stretched and taut.Let dṛṣṭi be ūrdhva-dṛṣṭi (open space gaze).Hold for 3 counts. Benefits: The movement of the body backwards helps in the maintenance of balance, strength and flexibility of the thighs, hamstrings and ankles. Position 6: Caturanga-dandāsana (quadra-limb stick pose). Breathe in and balancing the body on the hands, bring torso forward, until the body is flat and straight.Rest entire load of the torso on the hands.Let dṛṣṭi be ūrdhva-dṛṣṭi (open space gaze).Hold for 3 counts. Benefits: The holding of position strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps in reduction of weight. Also, the straight and stiff posture increases strength of the back and abdominal muscles. Position 7: Aṣṭāṅga-namaskārāsana (8-point namaskar) Breathing out and balancing body weight equally between hands and legs, slowly sink to the floor using hands to take the weight of the torso.Let dṛṣṭi be at ūrdhva-dṛṣṭi (open space gaze). Benefits: No major benefit. In fact, this is an interim āsana. Position 8: Bhujaṃgāsana (cobra pose) Continue breathing out, stretch torso and head up and back smoothly.Let legs and hips rest on the ground together. Let dṛṣṭi be ūrdhva-dṛṣṭi (open space gaze).Hold for 3 counts. Benefits: The stretching action is very good for overall health of the health of the back, shoulders and neck muscles. Position 9: Bālāsana (baby pose) Breathing out, draw torso back and fold body like an accordion at the knees and hips.Bring head come close to the ground and stretch hands as far forward as possibleLet dṛṣṭi be ūrdhva-dṛṣṭi (open space gaze).Hold for 3 counts. Benefits: The movement presses the abdominal viscera, helping to reduce adipose which assists weight reduction. Also, there is also infusion of blood to the abdominal organs, which improves their health and functioning. Additionally, the forward stretching relieves the stresses of previous stretching actions, thus increasing the health of the cerebro-spinal system. Position 10: Aśva-sañcalanāsana (horse parading pose) Breathe in. Using hands to take the weight of the body, slide forward the same leg that you slid back before, along the floor, and place between the hands.Stretch the other leg at the knee so that the folded leg presses the chest.Breathe out as you stretch the torso and neck backwards.Hold for 3 countsLet dṛṣṭi be at ūrdhva-dṛṣṭi (open space gaze) Benefits: The stretching action is very good for overall health of the musculo-skeletal system. Position 11: Pādahastāsana (foot to hand pose) Breathe in, slide the back leg forward to meet front leg between the hands.Breathing out, straighten legs while keeping hands on the floor. Let dṛṣṭi be at the tip of your finger (angushtamadhye). Benefits: The movement forward presses the abdominal viscera, helping to reduce belly fat and assisting in weight reduction. There is also infusion of blood to the abdominal organs, which improves their health and functioning. Finally, the forward bending also compensates for previous stretches, thus increasing blood supply to the cerebro-spinal system. Position 12: Hastottanāsana (hands stretching pose) Breathe in, straighten the body.Breathing out, stretch torso backwards with hand over the head as far as possible.Keep hands straight.Breathe in and straighten body.Come to namaskārāsana.Let dṛṣṭi be at the tip of the thumb (angushtamadhya). Benefits: This posture stretches the spine, infuses blood to the cerebro-spinal system. Also, namaskārāsana brings balance in posture, calmness in the mind, relaxation in the spine and evenness in the breath (removes agitation in the breath). Sūryanamaskāra cycles Each cycle of sūryanamaskāra comprises two routines, left and right.When you take one leg back for aśva-sañcalanāsana, bring the same leg forward at the end of the cycle.For people who are just starting sūryanamaskāra practice, 3 cycles should be enough.With experience and increase in flexibility, one could increase it to between 6-12 cycles twice a day.For working professionals, 6-12 cycles in the morning and 6-12 cycles in the evening, before meals, is recommended.There will be those that are extremely fit; for them, there is no real limit. Only, please check with your physician and if you have a heart or musculo-skeletal condition, please practise slowly and under supervision.Apply this refrain, “with caution, be bold” in the practice of sūrya-namaskār. ]School of Yoga explains – sūryanamaskāra benefits First, the stretching, counter stretching and forward stretching action exercises every joint in the body through a complete range of motions energising and strengthening the muscles with increased blood supply, making them strong, supple, elastic and flexible.Second, the spinal cord and cartilages get rejuvenated for the same reason. So, this exercise is very good for strengthening the back, retaining the arch of the spine and preventing backache.Third, the flushing of the back with blood also tones up the sympathetic nervous system.Fourth, the compression of the abdominal viscera assists in reducing fat tissue around the abdomen. Also, the pressing action increases intra-abdominal pressure, therefore is useful in all digestive ailments.Finally, the breathing routine increases stamina and lung functioning. School of Yoga explains – sūryanamaskāra contraindications Importantly, if one experiences any back ache, stop! Remember, never push to the point where there is discomfort. Also, when pain or discomfort starts, stop immediately. Undoubtedly, over time and with practice, the back will begin to flex without pain.Also, even though sūryanamaskāra is good for increasing flexibility and strength of the back, people with spondylosis should consult a doctor before starting.Lastly, practitioners suffering from heart, kidney ailments, vertigo and other ailments or those recovering from surgery must do the sūrya-namaskār only under advice of their doctors. Some noteworthy points when performing sūryanamaskāra Firstly, sūryanamaskāra is a kriya (aerobic action exercise), not an āsana (static pose).Secondly, as far as possible, this kriya should be performed in an open area at dawn or dusk to catch the morning or evening rays of the sun (vitamin D) and benefit from the oxygen rich air. However, this is not a constraint. Practitioners may practise anywhere if the above option is not available.Thirdly, try to practise on an empty stomach or at least 2 hours after solid and 30 minutes after liquid food to reduce resistance to movement, ensure optimum blood flow to all organs.Importantly, try to follow the breathing as far as possible. This will improve stamina and pulmonary function.The general rule is that one should breathe out when stretching or compressing the torso. If the lungs and abdomen are empty when they are being stretched or compressed, there are lower chances of reflux or stomach cramps. Also, the lowered resistance to bending or stretching motion making exercises are easier to perform.Dṛṣṭi means focus. Dṛṣṭi during practise of sūryanamaskāra can be difficult, but when practised, will ensure increased situational awareness [...] Read more...
Padmasana – Lotus Pose
Padmasana – Lotus PoseSchool of Yoga explains Padmasana (Lotus Pose) School of Yoga explains – Padmasana technique: Sthithi (starting) position: Sit on a clean mat in an airy and quiet room. Stretch legs forward. Folding one leg at the knee, hold the ankle, lift and place it over the opposite thigh so that the heel fits into the junction of the torso and thigh. Repeat the process with the other leg; folding the leg over the previously folded leg so the ankle fits at the junction of the hip and thigh of the opposite leg. Keep back erect but relaxed. Relax the legs. You will feel them slipping slightly and then becoming stable. Join the forefinger with the thumb to form a circle. This is called “chin-mudra”. You could also use dhyana-mudra – place one palm over the other, let the thumbs touch, relax. The classical pranayama of use is nadi shuddhi or anulom-vilom pranayama. The following dristhi’s (gaze) are recommended – nasikagra (tip of the nose), bhrumadhya (between the eyebrows) or at the chakras (ajna, vishuddhi or anahata). But keep it steady for the period of asana. Breathe calmly, let the breathing occur without effort. Finally, try to keeping the mind silent. Let your awareness be centred within the self. Command your body to relax, moving from the top of the body to the extremities. Imagine stress leaving your body with each exhalation.  Start with 5 minutes and increase up to 15 minutes. Above all, do not try to achieve perfection on day 1. Make sure your body is able to take the strain. Over time, the body will become supple and perfection will be achieved. Padmasana according to Hatha Yoga Pradeepika: (Ch1, v44) Padmasana – Place the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh. Cross the hands behind the back and grab the right toe with the right hand and the left toe with the left hand. Rest the chin on the chest and gaze at the tip of the nose. This is called padmasana, the destroyer of disease. (Ch1, v45, 46) Another opinion – Place one foot on the opposite thigh with soles facing up. Similarly, place the foot on the opposite thigh. Place the hands on the thighs with palms outwards. Direct the gaze to the tip of the nose, place the tongue at the root of the front teeth, and placing the chin on the chest, slowly raise the prana (by performing the moola-bandha) (Ch1, v47) This is called padmasana and cannot be perfected by all, only the intelligent can accomplish it. School of Yoga explains – Padmasana benefits: Pressing of the femoral artery by the foot ensures extra blood is infused in the genital and anal areas. As a result of the above, all lower body organs are benefited, especially muscles in the lower back. The benefit is multiplied because meditation in this pose relaxes the muscles. Consequently, there is increased blood supply to every tissue which rejuvenates the complete body. The process of relaxation results in increased beta waves within the brain. The feet press on the inguinal nodes, thereby boosting their efficiency and increasing the capability of the immune system. Finally, this posture stabilises the spine with hips and shoulders. Very good for spinal curvature retention. School of Yoga explains – Padmasana contraindications: Avoid this asana if you have sustained ankle or knee injury. Perform with only one leg and as you get confidence, try to bring both legs into the final position. For practitioners suffering from lower back problems, stop at the first indication of pain. Increase the duration gradually. School of Yoga explains – some noteworthy points on Padmasana: Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi. This asana is considered to be one of the 32 most important asanas by all ancient texts. Why Mudra? = Padmasana is about collecting the disparate energies or prana into the person. We know that prana flows within and outside the body. An open palm would mean that the prana which moves to the extremities is unable to return which makes the flow unidirectional. However, when a mudra is used, this loop is closed, like any good electrical circuit, resulting in uninterrupted flow of prana around the person, increasing retention and charge of prana within the system. [...] Read more...
Health and Yoga therapy
Health and Yoga therapySchool of Yoga explains health and Yoga therapy.   Yoga Therapy and health weave with each other. Yoga therapy is a simple way of harnessing natures healing powers to increase physical and psychological health. Health and Yoga therapy features. Yoga therapy is a simple way to stay healthy. It requires no investment and can be done by anyone at any age. The rules of staying healthy are simple and time-tested. It only requires application of common sense. Yoga therapy consists of 5 components – āsana (posture), prāṇāyāma (breathing), dhyāna (meditation), mitāhara (diet control) and nidrā (adequate sleep). A healthy person may practice all the recommended exercises. This will prevent illness. A person recovering from illness or post-operative care will need to start in small steps and increase the practice as advised by the doctor. Health and Yoga Therapy – follow these principles to get the full benefits of the practice of yoga are, Regularity of practice. The biggest impediment to practice of Yoga therapy is laziness. Nature has made everyone equal; it has given us 24 hours. But, the ability to use of this time effectively determines how health is maximised. Assuming that we sleep for 7 hours, spend 2 hours getting ready and 2 hours for meals, an investment of 30 minutes for āsana and 30 minutes for prāṇāyāma and meditation (dhyāna) would allow us to keep up a healthy life and leave 12 hours for other activity. Best time to practice āsana. There are two options, morning and evening. Āsanas performed in the evening are less grueling, as the body has undergone the rigors of the day and is already pliable. However, in the evening, the emotional and intellectual energies are run down which results in lower awareness during exercises. Also, very often, not enough time has elapsed since the last meal. Yogāsanas (exercises) induce peristalsis, forcing undigested food though the intestines, reducing absorption of nutrients. In certain cases, where the meal has been heavy, or the gap less than four hours, resistance from a full stomach could induce stomach cramps. Āsanas activate specific areas of the body by directing blood flow to the area, when the āsanas are performed resulting in rejuvenation of the focus area. When āsanas are performed in the morning, there is actually an increase in energy levels due to the optimisation of various body systems. However, the mind and body are rested, but stiff after sleep, in the morning. Āsanas can be painful when starting but with exercising, the organs fire up, loosen and begin flexing. The stomach and intestines are empty and offer no resistance to bending and stretching actions. A vigorous peristalsis action actually assists in evacuation of waste matter from the outer colon and rectum. Exercises be done in the morning are recommended, though schedules may force people to exercise in the evening. However, it is most important that the same time be maintained every day. This ensures that the system gets acclimatized to a routine and overcomes lethargy. It is also important to recognise the difference between āsana and kriyā. Āsana is a static pose, while kriyā is a dynamic pose, like uḍḍīyana, nauli  and sūryanamaskāra. Both yield different benefits, and both need to be practiced. The exercise environment. All forms of exercises give us an opportunity to increase the oxygen content in the body, remove toxins and stress and harmonise with the environment, thereby increasing one’s awareness of the environment (prajñā). Therefore, a tranquil and peaceful environment is very important when exercising. Therefore, it is recommended that the exercise be performed in any place that has plenty of fresh air and quiet. Clothes. Wear clothes that allow stretching and do not run or fall when lifting or bending. Clothes should breathe and absorb sweat. Men are advised to wear athletic supporters. Both men and women should wear well-fitting innerwear to prevent injury during exercise. If one prefers going to classes for the sake of regularity and discipline, it is advisable that one wears appropriate clothing. Diet (mitāhara). There is truth in the saying that we are what we eat. Diet is absolutely vital to realise the full potential of exercises. Eating the right food ensures absorption of essential ingredients, health and correct awareness in any situation. It is important to start exercises after a lapse of at least 4 hours after consumption of solid food, 1 hour after consumption of liquid food such as milk or juice and 20 minutes after drinking water. The reason for this recommendation is that food takes roughly 4-6 hours to move completely out of the digestive system. The process of digestion begins with chewing of food and finishes with the absorption of nutrients in small intestine. Vigorous exercise induces peristalsis or pulsing of the intestine, which results in the food hurrying through the intestine without nutrients getting completely absorbed. Also, the presence of food in the digestive system increases resistance to bending and stretching of the torso. This acts in various planes, from stopping the full movement of the diaphragm thereby impeding full ingestion of air to inducement of sprains and cramps when the torso is stretched/bent. Homeostasis. Homeostasis, may be defined as the tendency of the body to stay in equilibrium when all the interdependent elements are functioning normally. This means that when all the organs are functioning in the correct manner and the body is healthy. The indication that the body is in homeostasis can be seen when body parameters like body temperature, blood pressure etc., are operating in their set limits. Disturbance in these parameters is indicative of an imbalance within the body. The body then takes compensatory action to return to equilibrium and this manifests as fever etc. Yoga Therapy is great for building this reservoir so that homeostasis is recovered quickly when there is any illness. When performing yogāsana, it is important to try and stay close to the condition of homeostasis. The reason is that the muscles and internal organs should not experience stress during exercise to maximise blood flow and movement of the tissue resulting in rejuvenation of the area. Sleep and health. This aspect is one of the most important factors which affects health. No one really knows how much sleep is adequate for an individual. The amount of sleep required varies for each individual. It could also vary depending on the gender, age, profession, expectation to achievement, stage in life and health. For a normal person, this could vary between 6 and 9 hours. For children, this could be more. Not only is the number of hours important, the time of day is also important as it affects the circadian rhythm. Quality of sleep is also affected by body temperature, clothes worn, diet, water intake and mental state when going to bed. Share your opinion and experiences; Do you exercise? What is your exercise routine? When do you prefer to exercise? morning or evening? why? Do you exercise alone or in a group? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Do you wear any special clothing for exercise? why? What is your diet? How do you manage your diet? How do you manage time? [...] Read more...
Bond – the creation of attachment
Bond – the creation of attachmentSchool of Yoga explains bandhana or bond – the creation of attachment All transactions result in a relationship between us and the object we are transacting with. This is called bond or bandhana. School of Yoga recaps-  We respond to stimulus. When we like the stimulus, we draw the object closer to us, this is called rāga in Sanskrit and when we dislike the object, we push it away. This is dveṣa in Sanskrit. The movement of drawing closer or pushing away is called karma or action in Sanskrit. Karma results in an awareness of the situation and this is called vijñāna.  This awareness of situation acts as an input to our sense of identity, this is called jñāna. The above stimulus-response transaction results in an experience or anubhava in Sanskrit. The experience and its impact on the sense of identity results in a change to one’s conditioning called svadharma in Sanskrit. The change in conditioning is reflected in one’s behaviour or svabhāva. So, one’s behaviour is a manifestation of personal conditioning or svadharma. Behaviour and conditioning cannot be separated; one’s behaviour is determined by conditioning, just as conditioning determines behaviour and the two act in unison in a weave, which is called svatantra or personality in Sanskrit. Transactions are always unequal. We either give or take more. This is called ṛṇa or debt in Sanskrit. The transaction results in a relationship between us and the object we are transacting with and is called bond or bandana in Sanskrit. School of Yoga explains characteristics of the bond (bandana); Initially, we first form bonds to validate our own existence, this are existential bonds and affects our sense of self-worth (asmitā). So, we will do everything to retain it because loss of those bonds will affect our sense of identity (asmitā). As soon as our existence is confirmed, we begin transacting and incurring karma.  As a result, there is a continuous creation of bonds, action and debt.   School of Yoga explains transactional bonds; Once existence is confirmed, then we begin transacting, forming a bond with those we transact with. Transactional bonds can be of 2 types; Equal bond or sambandana in Sanskrit  (sama =  equal +  bandana = bond). Equal bonds exist when give and take occur in equal measure. This generally occurs in a marriage, where give and take is a continuous process and the identity of the couple is subsumed in the bond. This is why marriage in India is called sambandh and in-laws are called sambandi or samdi. Bond of debt or ṛṇānubandhana in Sanskrit (ṛṇanu = that of debt + bandana = bond) All bonds other than sambandana fall into this category. Rinn or ṛṇa occurs when one give or takes more from the other. The debt created has to be liquidated and if it is not completed in this life, it will spill over to the next. This is the basis for logic of the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra). School of Yoga explains awareness of action (pragnya) in any bond: The dissolution of debt involves 3 terms; Often, all the debt is not liquidated in a single transaction. Consequently, this results in a debt balance. Therefore, the overall debt balance of an individual is called sanchita-karma (accumulated karma in Sanskrit) The debt coming up for liquidation is called prarabda-karma (karma that has come up for reconciliation). The debt which is being created NOW, is agami-karma or (current karma in Sanskrit) Conclusion: Ṛṇānubandhana or bond of debt is transactional in nature. Whenever we transact with any object, an existential bond is first established. In this bond, there is only the dual experience of happiness (anandam) or fear of loss of identity (bhaya). This is followed by a transaction which results in an experience of like or dislike with the object, leading to action or karma with the outcome of ṛṇānubandhana or bond of debt. Obviously, the quantum of debt changes when we are aware of ourselves in the sutuation and make conscious attempts to reduce our debts by altering our actions (karma). Therefore, the quantum of debt which we incur is dependent on our awareness (prajñā) in the situation.  Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand bond… (Wikipedia extract) Alvin Cullum York was a United States soldier, a famous World War 1 hero. He was awarded the Medal of Honour for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others. York belonged to a Christian denomination, the Church of Christ in Christian Union which discouraged warfare and violence. When York was drafted into the army for World War I, he tried to avoid induction as a conscientious objector due to his religious beliefs. However, his status as a conscientious objector was rejected.  However, York still wanted nothing to do with the army and killing. A sympathetic commanding officer lectured York and gave him leave to go home and reflect his position. Finally, York thought about it and decided to serve his country. His unit was shipped out to Europe and participated in an attack. Suddenly, pinned down by German fire and seeing his friends being shot down all around him, York suddenly found himself placed in charge. Finally, he worked his way around behind German lines and shot with such deadly effect that the Germans surrendered. York later explained that he did what he did to hasten the end of the war and minimize the killing. Here is an example of a person whose dharma was non-violence. Yet, he went to war, performed valorous deeds because he believed that would end the war quickly. Analyse the following of Alvin York’s bonds: His conditioning (dharma): what was York’s view of the world? His self-identity: how did York’s conditioning and behaviour get affected by his sense of identity? His experience of confusion: how did his sense of identity change and as his evolution occurred? How did the attributes move from confusion to conviction? How did it change with his bond to his country? Alignment of action with conditioning: what was the impact of his changed conditioning on his subsequent actions? Have you had a similar identity and conditioning conflicts? How did you resolve it? Points to Ponder on bond: Internal Tags: Conditioning or Dharma, Self Awareness or Asmita, Guna in Bhagawat Gita (chapter 14) External Tags: Sentience What is a bond? How does it occur? How is a bond formed, sustained and dissolved? Is a bond possible between animate and inanimate objects? For example, how can one define a bond between a car and a person? What is prārabdha-karma and how does it affect us? If prārabdha-karma exists, the how much of our decision making is actually done by us? What happens to a bond in a stress situation? What is guṇa? How does it affect decision making? How does guṇa affect stress? What are the changes which occur in our guṇa during a stress situation? What is the role of free-will and how does it affect us? What happens to a bond in a stress situation? What is our sense of Self? How does it affect decision-making? [...] Read more...
Cognition of Self Awareness – known as asmita
Cognition of Self Awareness – known as asmitaSchool of Yoga explains awareness of existence (prajñā), the source of action (karma): Our first awareness (prajñā) is one existence (I am alive/ I exist). We lose this awareness only when we die. Since this cognition is so vital, we constantly strive to reinforce it by building bonds with others. This gives us biofeedback which ensures continuous experience of existentiality. Whenever, we lose this feedback, we experience anxiety (bhaya) and when it is restored, we experience happiness (ānanda). Within the bond, we begin transacting, this is action or karma. This transaction results in a stimulus-response or give-take cycle.  School of Yoga explains impact of conditioning (dharma) on sense of the Self (asmitā): Why do any two entities struggle to relate to each other? The answer is… conditioning or dharma. Our conditioning forces us to think in a particular manner. So, when we are presented with stimulus, that point of view will either be in congruence or out of congruence with our own point of view/ conditioning (dharma). When stimulus is in congruence, we like the entity and try to bring it closer (rāga) and if it is contrary, we dislike the entity and try to push it away (dveṣa), resulting in action (karma). Simultaneously, as the duality of like-dislike gets activated, our sense of self-worth (asmitā) experiences expansion when the experience is like (rāga) and contraction when the experience is dislike (dveṣa). This experience of like-dislike triggers the attributes (guṇa) to respond. Experience of like triggers passion (rajas) and experience of dislike triggers (tamas) because it would require us to alter our conditioning (dharma). This resistance to change is universal, all of us resist ideas which do not conform to our conditioning. Our resistance to change is proportionate to our perception of threat/ risk associated with the change to our self-worth (asmitā). Finally, our conditioning, resistance to change and fear of consequences is based on our sense of existence at any time, in any situation (asmitā). Patanjali Yoga Sutra (Chapter 2, verse 6) defines asmitā as: perceiving the Self for the truth is asmitā (feeling of being). School of Yoga explains cognition in a transaction: Why does this happen to us? Why is our asmitā or sense of self-worth so fragile? As explained above, we depend on the feedback of others for our sense of Identity/ self-worth. When others complement us, we feel good. Conversely, when we get criticised, the opinion we have of ourselves gets shaken and we struggle to retain a positive image of ourselves. Our sense of self-worth (asmitā) shrinks and we withdraw into a shell. The complement or criticism may not be a true reflection of us, but for us, it becomes our reality. The factor on which people compare and judge us is their own dharma (natural-state or conditioning) but the tool that we use to evaluate the feedback is our own natural-state or dharma. Obviously, the two are not going to match. Thus, the cognition of Self or Identity is the foundation of all transactions. Also, it is the quality of this awareness (prajñā) which decides the sensitivity with which we react to our transactions with our environment. So, it’s obvious that our sense of worth (asmitā) is dependent for its existence on the quality of its interaction with the environment. Importantly, if no one were to react to us, we would get no feedback. This would result in us feeling isolated, with an experience of deep anxiety of loss of identity (asmitā), akin to fear of death. School of Yoga explains some aspects of situational awareness or prajñā. Awareness operates at two levels – Awareness of the situation, also known as vijñāna. This is the awareness of the Self looking out. Awareness of the impact of the stimulus on the Self (jñāna). This is awareness of impact of the stimulus on itself. This means that our identity is dependent on the following rules; We exist only if someone acknowledges our existence. In order that others acknowledge our existence, we need to interact with them, which means that we need to manifest in order that others recognize our existence. The cycle is not closed until we get a feedback, which means that the other person should respond to our stimulus which we should acknowledge. Otherwise, we would not get confirmation of existence and experience loss of sense of Identity. This means that existential logic works both ways – until another acknowledges us, we cannot be sure of our existence. Similarly, if we do not acknowledge another’s existence, the other person can never be sure of her or her existence. According to tantra philosophy, tantra, which means “weave”, is the weave of our identity with our actions. This identity is called Siva and the manifestation of that identity is called Shakti. When Siva first manifests with Shakti, the first experience is awareness of its own identity. Therefore, immediately after manifesting, Siva tries to find another Siva for acknowledgement of existence. When this happens, Siva simultaneously experiences happiness at confirmation of existence (ānanda) and fear of loss of this acquired identity (bhaya). The happiness of acknowledgement of existence is quickly overcome by the fear of loss of this confirmation, forcing the Siva to latch on to that Siva and form a bond which it will not leave until it finds a more compatible Siva. This transaction accomplishes 2 purposes; It confirms the existence of both Sivas to themselves and each other. During their transactions, each entity perceives its manifestation to be accurate. But this is not true as the manifestation is only as good as the entities state of awareness (prajñā). At the same time, assimilation of manifestation by the recipient is never equal to the manifestation itself because the receiver is always in a different state of awareness. As a result, the feedback that they give, which is received by the manifesting entity as accurate understanding of their reality is never the same as the manifestation itself. This causes a change in asmitā of both, the sender and receiver. Since, both the participants in the transaction are always in a state of perception, this material state of existence is called māyā (illusion/ farce). Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand cognition… (Wikipedia extract) Battle of Pävankhind was a rear guard battle and last stand that took place on July 13, 1660 at a mountain pass in Maharashtra, India between the Maratha Sardar Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Siddi Masud of Adilshah Sultanate. The situation: The Maratha army, with King Sivaji Maharaj, was trapped in Fort Panhala by Adilshahi general Siddi Jauhar. The plan: Escape and to go to Fort Vishalgad. While a diversion was executed, Sivaji Maharaj took selected 600 soldiers with him and quietly escaped the siege. Siddi Jauhar immediately despatched his son-in-law Siddi Masudin in pursuit with 3000 cavalry. First, they soon got the diversion palanquin of “Sivaji Maharaj”. However, they found that he was not Sivaji but a barber named “Siva Kashid”! Needless to say, he was immediately executed. Next, the chase continued and as Sivaji Maharaj neared Ghodkhind, Siddi Masud  caught up with the fleeing Marathas. Ghodkhind is a narrow pass and only a few soldiers can pass through it simultaneously. The Marathas decided to stop the opposing army here. The battle: The Marathas divided themselves into two troops of 300 each. Sivaji Maharaj took one troop and proceeded towards Vishalgad. The other troop, led by Baji Prabhu Deshpande stood their ground in Ghodkhind to defend the pass until Sivaji Maharaj reach Vishalgad. Sivaji Maharaj was unaware that Vishalgad itself was being besieged. But, he attacked the siege and broke it. Entering Vishalgad, Sivaji Maharaj quickly fired 3 cannons as a signal to Baji Prabhu Deshpande, who was defending the Ghodkhind that he had reached Vishalgad. However, by this time, Baji Prabhu and his 300 soldiers had been fighting against 3000 soldiers for over 6 hours. They were all badly wounded and extremely tired. Also, Baji Prabhu was shot and taken to the rear but refused help until he heard the sound of cannons when he breathed his last knowing his king was safe. School of Yoga – reflecting on cognition What makes people perform such sacrifices? Shiv Kashid was a barber. What might he have experienced when he took the identity of Sivaji Maharaj? What can one reflect on the identities of Siva Kashid, Baji Prabhu and the 300 Maratha warriors knowing that they were facing certain death? Points to ponder on cognition: Internal Tags: Conditioning or Dharma, Karma; Principle of action and debt   External Tags: Self-awareness (read about the developmental scales in Self awareness) Why do we respond to stimulus? Why do we have an experience? How much of the experience is voluntary? How much do we control? Why are other people important? Can you live without interacting with anyone? What will happen? What would happen to us if all our efforts to connect with others provoked no reaction? How do you experience the feeling of existence? How do you know you are alive? What are the types of debt? What is death? What happens to our identity when we die? When relations breakdown, do the debts go away? What is perception of reality? [...] Read more...
Shad-darśana and brahma-sūtra
Shad-darśana and brahma-sūtraSchool of Yoga explains shad-darśana and brahma-sūtra Shad-darśana are part of the āsthika (orthodox philosophy), or orthodox school of philosophical tradition which accepts the Vedas as the root of all knowledge. Conversely, the opposing school is called nāsthika (that which does not accept āsthika). School of Yoga explains shad darśana. Āsthika school can also be called shad-darśana (six visions). Shad-darśana comprises six schools – nyāya (logic), vaiśeṣika (understanding the nature of elements), sānkhya (the understanding of tattvas, the union of prakriti and purusha along with the impact of the guṇas), yoga (yoking of one’s identity with his or her manifestation), mīmāṃsā (correct application of rituals) and vedānta (understanding the brahman, the soul, liberation and the various ways to get there). The key aspect of proof rests on 6 methods of hypotheses testing, these are called pramāṇa (means of knowledge), and comprise pratyakṣa (personal vision), anumāna (inference), upamāna (comparison and analogy), arthāpatti (postulation and derivation from evidence), anupalabdhi (non-apprehension or negative cognitive proof) and śabda (verbal testimony). School of Yoga explains elements of shad-darśana. Nyāya (logical reasoning) – consists of 16 padhārtha (categories) – pramāṇa (valid means of knowledge or knowledge sources), prameya (objects of valid knowledge), saṁśaya (doubt), prayojana (aim), dṛṣṭānta (example), siddhānta (conclusion or accepted position), avayava (members of syllogism or inferential components), tarka (hypothetical/suppositional reasoning), nirṇaya (settlement or certainity), vāda (discussion or debate for truth), jalpa (wrangling or disputation), vitaṇḍā (cavilling or destructive debate), hetvābhāsa (fallacy or pseudo-provers), chala (quibbling or equivocation), jāti (sophisticated refutation or misleading/futile objections) and nigrahasthāna (point of defeat or clinchers). Nyāya school requires four sources of valid thought for a concept to be accepted – pratyakṣa (perception), anumāna (inference), upamāna (comparison), śabda (testimony or valid source). Vaiśeṣika (atomism) – this is the logic that all material is formed by atomic combination of four substances – earth, water, fire and air. Vaiśeṣika postulates that all experiences can be derived from dravya (substance – construct of atoms, their number and arrangement), guṇa (attribute – such as rūpa (form), rasā (taste), etc. totalling to 24 in all), karma (activities) – which like guṇa are dependent on dravya, but unlike guṇa where each material has a definite purpose, karma is transient in nature; sāmānya (common properties which join substances); viśeṣa (uniqueness) which defines each substance, samavāya (internal dynamics of a union) examines the cause and effect which affects the relationship between substances and their environment. Vaiśeṣika requires two sources of valid thought for a concept to be accepted – pratyakṣa (perception) and anumāna (inference). Sāṅkhya (rationalization) – Sāṅkhya is a rationalist school which delves into the relationship between the puruṣa and prakriti along with the dynamics of various guṇas (sattva – harmony or balance, rajas or passionate and tamas or obdurate or confused). Sāṅkhya school requires three sources of valid thought for a theory to be accepted – pratyakṣa (perception), anumāna (inference) and śabda (testimony or valid source). Yoga – yoga can be any of the major yogas – jñāna (knowledge), bhakti (devoution), karma (action), hatha and rāja yoga as propounded by Patanjali. Yoga is a cognitive existentiality school which requires three sources of valid thought for a concept to be accepted – pratyakṣa (perception), anumāna (inference) and śabda (testimony or valid source). Mīmāṁsā – also called pūrva-mīmāṁsā or karma-kāndha, this means reflection or critical investigation. This school is the study of the Vedas and then translate to everyday usage in the form of dharma, karma and rituals. Mīmāṁsā requires five sources of valid thought for a concept to be accepted – pratyakṣa (perception), anumāna (inference), upamāna (comparison and analogy), arthāpatti (postulation and derivation from evidence) and śabda (testimony or valid source). Vedānta – is also called uttara-mīmāṃsā (higher enquiry) or jñāna-kanda is a collection of divergent philosophies grouped together, drawing as inspiration from the upaniṣad, brahma-sūtra, bhagawat-geeta etc. There are many schools of vedānta, best known among them are advaita, dvaita, viśiṣṭādvaita. From here, the various schools of worship such as śaivam, śāktya, gaṇapatya, kaumāram, vaiṣṇavam, śauryam emerged. School of Yoga explains brahma-sūtra. Brahma-sūtra – is a text which summarizes and systemizes the spiritual and philosophical ideas of the upaniṣad. It consists of 555 verses in 4 chapters, each chapter being divided into 4 parts. Each part is further subdivided into sections or ādhikāraṇa of which there are 189, covering the following topics, Viṣaya– topic of the section,   Vismāyā – issue at hand/doubts/problem statement,  Pūrva-paksha – introduction to the solution/background,  Siddhānta – theory and arguments/solution and concept/doctrine, Samgati– threading of logic to form a cohesive and comprehensive argument/conclusion.  This sūtra was likely to have been composed between 300 BC and 500 AD because, in addition to trying to give a metaphysical meaning to Brahman, it also rebuts the philosophical positions of Buddhist and Jain tenets. What you should know after reading this blog; What is āsthika as opposed to nāsthika? Explain shad-darśana and its elements? What are the various valid and acceptable sources of proof for a vision? Explain brahma-sūtra? What is their significance? [...] Read more...
Māya (farce) and guṇa (attributes of cognition)
Māya (farce) and guṇa (attributes of cognition)School of Yoga explains recaps concepts leading up to māya: As soon as we become conscious, we first look for confirmation that we exist (our cognition of our Self or asmitā). As soon as someone confirms our existence, we form a bond (bandhana) with that person or entity. However, our conditioning (dharma) may not synchronise with the other person or entity, so we are constantly experiencing like (rāga) or dislike (dveṣa) in our transaction with the other entity.  When we like something, we try to bring it closer. Similarly, when we dislike something, we try to push it away. This causes movement/ doing or action (karma) and debt (ṛṇa). All action (karma) results in experience (anubhava) which is dependent on our situational awareness (prajñā).  Situational awareness consists of two components: Awareness of the situation by the Self during the transaction (vijñāna). Awareness of changes to the Self due to the transaction (jñāna). Awareness changes depending on permutations and combinations of 3 attributes of cognition (guṇa). School of Yoga explains guṇa – attributes of cognition and the driver of māya: During any transaction, our awareness moves from confusion, to active effort and finally harmony.  The three attributes are called guṇa.  The components of these attributes are tamas (inertia), rajas (passion) and sattva (harmony). Finally, these 3 attributes are constantly changing in composition depending on the state of awareness of the Self with the subject. Tamas (inertia): This aspect is characterised by fear, laziness, indolence, confusion, delusion etc. and is governed primarily by the physical/ static element of our Self. So, a person with predominance of this state generally is confused, lazy, indecisive and will not do work unless pushed or monitored. Rajas (passion): This state governs nearly all forms of action, driven primarily by emotions. Also, this aspect drives our orientation towards results and desire for achievement. So, a person in this state would typically be result oriented, dominating, driving, aggressive, brooking no resistance, impatient etc. Sattva (harmony): This occurs when a person tries to balance result with resource, process, tries to balance task result with quality & relationships. This is driven by a need for balance. So, this person avoids confrontation unless absolutely required. When in a conflict situation, the person is calm and absorbs emotions. Also, this person avoids personal & and judgmental remarks. Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand guṇa… Example: A person is using an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) for the first time. The bank has issued a new ATM card to the person.  Imagine the person’s state when he/she has to withdraw money from the ATM for the first time. Initially, there is confusion – “How am I going to do this?” or anxiety/ fear “What will happen if…?” This is tamas. Then comes anger or irritation – “This is ridiculous! How do they expect me to operate this machine without training?” This is rajas. Then, there is effort… “let’s see what we can do”. Finally, there is acceptance and ownership. Here, the person hacks around and finds a solution, either by doing it himself or by asking someone. Value is added and this is sattva. Consequently, an awareness of having found a solution builds in the person. This is vijñāna. This results in increased confidence in the Self, an increase in asmitā (I am this) which is called jñāna. School of Yoga explains the relationship between asmitā, tantra (weave) and māya… Tantra means “weave”. It is the weave of the Self or identity with its actions. The Self is called Siva or Puruṣa and the manifestation of Self is called Shakti or Prakriti. Siva is the quanta or unit identity while Puruṣa is the composite of many Siva identities. So, one might say that Siva is the building block of Puruṣa, Puruṣa is any identity that comprises two or more Siva identities and parama-puruṣa is the universe, in which sada-siva means that the identity is continuously generating and dissolving identities, Siva/ Puruṣa has no identity without Shakti/ Prakriti and Shakti cannot manifest without Siva/ Puruṣa. They weave with each other continuously and this is called tantra. First, when Siva manifests with Shakti, the initial experience is awareness of its own identity (existential identity). Next, the need is confirmation of existence forces Siva to find another Siva to acknowledge its existence. When this happens, Siva experiences both, happiness at confirmation of existence and fear of loss of this confirmation of identity. The fear of loss of this confirmation forces the manifesting identity (Siva) to latch on to receiving identity (Siva).  Consequently, this bond is not broken until either finds an alternative confirmation of existence. Siva’s manifestation is asmitā (cognition of Self). The conditioning is svadharma (personal conditioning) and behaviour is svabhāva. Finally, the weave of conditioning with behaviour is called svatantra or personality. The transaction between the manifesting Siva and receiving Siva is called māya (illusion/ farce). School of Yoga explains māya (farce) and prajñā (awareness). In any transaction: Our behaviour is called darśana (that which is shown). What others see is called dṛṣṭi (that which is seen) The seer is called dṛṣṭu (one who sees) During the transaction, the manifesting Siva transmits its identity only to the level of its cognition, this is never complete. Similarly, the receiving Siva is receiving information only to the extent supported by its identity. However, each thinks that its own as well as the other’s manifestation is complete which leads to significant differences in perception. The resulting relative difference between perception of sender and receiver as well as the way feedback is received and decoded is māya (illusion). It’s important to realise that additionally, various parameters of decision-making are continuously changing. Conditioning (dharma) of the sender and receiver is continuously changing Dharma of others in the environment is continuously changing Both, sender and receiver are getting inputs from multiple sources Everyone’s self-worth (asmitā) is continuously changing The environment or framework of the transaction is continuously changing Comment: It is very important to understand how māya drives our existence. Our manifestation is the expression of our identity (asmitā). However, the feedback we get may or may not be in congruence with how we perceive our Identity. Consequently, when there is congruence between our manifestation and the feedback we receive, our asmitā expands and there is rāga (attraction-karma) occurs. But, when it is dissonance between the feedback and our Identity, then our asmitā contracts and dveṣa (repulsion-karma) results. Points to ponder about māya; Internal Tags: Conditioning or Dharma, Self Awareness or Asmita,  Guna in Bhagavat- Geeta chapter 14 External Tags: Stress How do you recognise your value system or conditioning (dharma)? When you are stressed, how do you know? How do you recognise that your coping actions are not adequate? What would svatantra mean for your team, your company, your state or country. [...] Read more...
Heart – Therapy for the center of the circulatory system
Heart – Therapy for the center of the circulatory systemHeart – Yoga Therapy for heart ailments. Heart is the centre and a critical component of the circulatory system. It’s only function is to pump blood to various parts of the body. Blood is the next critical component. It is a body fluid, comprising approximately 7% body weight and 5 litres by volume. Also, it comprises of erythrocytes or red blood cells, leukocytes or white blood cells, thrombocytes or platlets, electrolytes and nutrients suspended in blood plasma. These active components are transported to various parts of the body for conversion into usable outcomes, called metabolism. The lymphatic system, supported by blood, regulates heat in the body and ensures critical safety functions such as directing blood to various organs in the body. Finally, the blood brings back metabolic waste matter such as –HCO3, urea, uric acid etc. for disposal, thus maintaining the health of the body. Mechanics of the heart The heart is a pump which is situated in the middle compartment of the chest and performs 2 functions; First, it pumps deoxygenated blood to the lungs for re-oxygenation. This is called pulmonary circulation. Deoxygenated blood from various parts of the body is received in the right atria through the superior and inferior venae cavae – 2 major veins. Next, the blood flows into the right ventricle and is pumped to the lungs through the pulmonary artery where carbon dioxide and water vapour are exchanged for oxygen. The freshly oxygenated blood received from the lungs is pumped to the various parts of the body. This is called systemic circulation. The blood, rich in oxygen, is received from the lungs at the left atria through the pulmonary veins. This oxygen rich blood flows into the left ventricle and is pumped to the rest of the body through the aorta which distributes oxygenated blood throughout the body. So, the heart functions as the centre of a closed loop system where blood is circulated to and from various parts of the body. Physiology The functioning of the heart is measure using the following parameters; Blood pressure – Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood on the walls of the various blood vessels. Blood pressure is usually expressed as a ratio between systole (the maximum pressure exerted by the heart) and diastole (the minimum pressure between 2 systoles). It is measured in millimetres of mercury, with atmospheric pressure assumed to be 0, also called gauge pressure. In a normal person, the blood pressure or resting pressure should range between 90 – 120 for systolic pressure and 60 – 80 for diastolic pressure. When this pressure increases, the condition is called hypertension or high blood pressure and when is below the range, it is called hypotension or low blood pressure. Heart rate – The heart rate is the measure of the number of contractions of the heart per minute. It is generally close to the pulse rate and the accepted resting rate is considered to be between 50-90. Pulse – Pulse is the measure of palpitation of the heart when measured by pressing the artery against a bone, such as at the wrist, groin, ankle joint etc. Generally, for an adult, this should be between 60 – 100 pulses per minute. Blood volume – Humans have approximately 5 litres of blood circulating in the body. It is generally more in males than females. This volume is regulated by the kidneys and is generally impacted by age and obesity. Issues of the circulatory system. The heart cannot be taken in isolation, it has to be viewed as a part of the circulatory system. In fact, blood is the only fluid which reaches every part of the body carrying oxygen and nutrients for proper functioning of the various systems of the body. So, the following issues could arise which impair proper flow of blood and functioning of the heart; Heart ailments – the heart itself could enlarge or suffer from defective parts such as valves, blood vessels etc. Blockages – if there is resistance to the flow of blood in the arteries, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the various parts of the body. Blood vessel condition – blood vessels could lose their elasticity and become weak. This results in various illnesses, including aneurism and thrombosis. Stress – Stress has a major impact on the health of the circulatory system. In any stress situation, adrenaline and cortisol are pumped into the circulatory system to allow the person to cope with the situation. This redirects blood from its normal course to the various organs in preparation of fight or flight. However, when the stressor is removed, the body takes awhile to return to its original position, until all the adrenaline and cortisol have been purged from the system. Failure to manage stress can lead to many circulatory system illnesses. Lungs – one of the major activities of the heart is pulmonary respiration. If the lungs do not exchange CO2 & water for oxygen, then there is a major impact on metabolism. Consequently, the heart, which receives 3% of total blood supply gets affected also. Solutions Solution to any circulatory illness depends a lot on lifestyle, age and hereditary issues. The solutions are not necessarily in order of priority, but some or all may apply to the practitioner; Lipids – This are issues related to formation of deposits on the walls of the arteries. This results in the arteries losing their elasticity to pulse and the deposits narrow the blood vessels requiring the heart to pump harder to reach various parts of the body. This generally comes from improper diet and lack of exercise and is reasonably easy to fix. Proper diet and asana can provide a solution, for people of all ages. Stress – it is possible for stress to increase blood pressure to a point where it affects critical organs such as the kidneys (which receives 22% of all blood supply), brain (which receives 14% of all supplies) or the digestive system (which receive 27% of all supply). Here, diet will play an important part in maintaining circulatory system condition, but asana, pranayama and meditation will play a key role in reducing stress, counteracting the effects of prolonged exposure to adrenaline and cortisol. Chronic degenerative disease – if an organ has not suffered catastrophic failure, asana, pranayama and meditation can perform a maintenance action to prolong cellular respiration and reconstruction. Catastrophic degenerative disease – In this case surgery or medical intervention may be necessary. In such a case, asana, pranayama and meditation will assist in recovery and long term post operative recovery. Blood vessels elasticity – When the veins and arteries lose their elasticity, asana can help in directing blood flow to the affected area. While complete recovery may not be possible, asana can assist in increasing strength in the affected area. Āsana solutions Solution to heart ailments depends a lot on lifestyle, and age.; Āsana cannot replace medication; they can help in restoration and recovery. They cannot be used as an independent tool for therapy. Āsana and prāṇāyāma are an excellent tool to build resistance such that over time, a near normalcy state is reached. Diet is critical for success of yoga for therapy. Being in the weight range for one’s specified height ensures drop in fat content and greater flexibility in performance of āsana. In fact, correct weight also ensures greater capillary action and cellular respiration. The āsana plan will start with simple āsanas which do not stress the heart, and prāṇāyāma to stabilise nasal pressure. Subsequently, more complex āsanas can be added The plan. The āsana plan given below is indicative. The practitioner should tailor the plan to ones age, health and lifestyle in consultation with a qualified doctor. Starters – 3 months – all āsanas to be performed slowly under supervision of a doctor Intermediate – 3 months – all āsanas to be performed only after improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 30 mins Final – all āsanas to be performed only after substantial improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 45 mins Āsana Beginner Intermediate Final SN   3 months 3 months thereafter 1 Padmāsana 3 mins 3 mins 3 mins 2 Tadāsana 2 2 2 3 Trikonāsana – 1 2 4 Pādahastāsana – 1 2 5 Veerabadrāsana – 1 2 6 Bhujaṃgāsana 1 2 3 7 Śalabhāsana – 1 3 8 Dhanurāsana – 1 3 9 Pavanamuktāsana 1 (one leg) 2 (normal) 3 (normal) 10 Arda-halāsana 1 (one leg) 2 (normal) 3 (normal) 11 Sundara viparīta-karaṇī 3 mins x 2 5 mins x 2 15 mins 12 Sethubandāsana 1 x 10 counts 1 x 20 counts 1 x 50 counts 13 Nāḍī-śuddhi prāṇāyāma (No kumbaka) 5 x 1  cycles 5 x 2 cycles 10 x 2 cycles 14 Bhramarī prāṇāyāma 2 cycles 5 cycles 5 cycles 15 Ujjeyi prāṇāyāma 2 cycles 5 cycles 5 cycles 16 Shavāsana 5 mins 5 mins 5 mins 17 Meditation – dhyāna  (sit in silence and focus on the breath) 10 mins 15 mins 20 mins Share your opinion and experiences; Do you exercise? What is your exercise routine? When do you prefer to exercise? morning or evening? why? Do you exercise alone or in a group? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Do you wear any special clothing for exercise? why? What is your diet? How do you manage your diet? How do you manage time? [...] Read more...
Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose
Bhujangasana – Cobra PoseSchool of Yoga explains Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) School of Yoga explains: Bhujangasana technique : Sthithi (starting) position: Lie down on your stomach, face down. Place hands under the shoulder joint, with elbows close to the body. Keep the feet and knees together; relax the muscles in the back and abdomen. Inhale slowly. Exhale and push the torso up as far as possible, stretching the spine backward in a smooth, slow motion. Keep the hip firmly on the ground so that the lower hip and legs provide static resistance to the upward movement of the spine.  Stretch the face as far as possible towards the ceiling. Maintain position for 10 counts. Inhale and return slowly to original position. As you return, relax the deep and superficial muscles of the back, straightening the reverse bend of the vertebrae returning to correct position. Loosen the buttocks. Relax the sacral portion of the spine first, followed by the lumbar, thoracic and finally cervical region. Hold for 3-6 counts. Get the hands back to the sides. Go back to sthithi (starting) position. Breathe normally. Repeat 3 to 6 times. The drishti (gaze) recommended is oordhva-drishti (open sky gaze). School of Yoga explains – Bhujangasana benefits : The stretching action energises and strengthens the muscles of the back with increased blood supply and makes them supple, elastic and flexible. The spinal chord and cartilages get rejuvenated for the same reason. This exercise is very good for retaining the arch of the spine and prevents backache. The flushing of the back with blood also tones up the sympathetic nervous system. The pulling back action increases intra abdominal pressure, therefore is useful in all digestive ailments. Increased blood supply to the rectal muscles relieves constipation and reduces piles. School of Yoga explains – Bhujangasana contraindications: If you have any form of back ache, push yourself only to the point where there is no discomfort. When pain or discomfort starts, stop immediately. Over time and with practice, the back will begin to flex without pain. Practitioners suffering from kidney ailments and vertigo must also be careful not to strain beyond the limits of their bodies. Some noteworthy points when performing Bhujangasana: Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, This asana is considered to be one of the 32 most important asanas by all ancient texts. Those with cervical spondylosis should be careful when doing this asana. Though it is good for lumbar spondylosis (lower back), it should not be done with any jerks. In this asana, it is important that the hand be used to push the torso upwards. This means that the sacral region of the spine is always in contact with the ground and the supine hip and legs provide the resistance to the upward movement of the torso. Therefore, the muscles of the spine are flexing with no motor stimulus. This increases blood supply to the lumbar, and cervical regions of the spine. It is very important to keep the knees together for two reasons. First, when the lumbar area is arched backwards, the buttocks are squeezed together, increasing blood supply to the anal region. Second, the rearward movement increases blood supply to the sympathetic and para sympathetic nerves, rejuvenating the nerves in the lower back and legs. [...] Read more...
Shalabasana – Locust Pose
Shalabasana – Locust PoseSchool of Yoga explains Shalabasana (Locust Pose) School of Yoga explains – Shalabasana technique : Sthithi (starting) position: Lie down on your stomach, face to the floor. Place hands alongside the body, with elbows close to the sides. Keep the feet together. Relax the muscles in the back and abdomen. Exhale slowly. Inhaling partially, use the stomach, shoulder and hand muscles to lift the legs off the ground. Keep knees unflexed and feet as straight as possible. Maintain position for 5-10 counts. Exhale and return to original position. Bring hand to the side. Relax. Breathe normally. Repeat 3 to 6 times. The drishti (gaze) recommended is focus on svadishtana chakra. School of Yoga explains – Shalabasana benefits : This asana is performed by increasing the tension in the muscles of the abdomen, back, buttocks and legs. As a result, there is increased blood supply to the lower abdomen, colon and rectal area which rejuvenates the muscles and nerves there.  The action of lifting the legs using the abdominal muscles increases intra-abdominal pressure. This ensures copious blood supply to the intestines and rectal muscles, inducing peristalsis and curing constipation. Also, the action compresses the buttocks, this results in increased blood circulation to the rectal muscles and anal sphincter. This results in improved evacuation and controlling of ailments such as piles. The use of the hands to leverage the stomach muscles results in the toning of the back, neck, shoulder and wrist muscles. Increases the strength and suppleness of the spine. School of Yoga explains – Shalabasana contraindications:  When starting, have someone support the ankles, as you lift them. Since, the abdominal muscles are unused to the reverse lift, you may get stomach cramps or sprains. If you have any form of back ache, push yourself only to the point where there is no discomfort. When pain or discomfort starts, stop immediately. With practice, the back will begin to flex better. Practitioners suffering from kidney ailments and vertigo must also be careful not to strain beyond the limits of their bodies. Since this exercise exerts pressure on the heart, people with cardiac concerns should perform this asana under supervision. Some noteworthy points on Shalabasana: Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi,  This asana is considered to be one of the 32 most important asanas by all ancient texts. The point of focus will determine the benefit accrued from the asana. In the photograph alongside, one can see Sundaram keeping his knees straight but the legs are being raised less. In this case, the stomach muscles are strengthened and intra-abdominal pressure is built up, resulting in peristalsis and better evacuation of the bowels. Next to him, Viswanathan is keeping the ankles together but taking the feet higher because the shoulders and lower back are being used to leverage the legs. This position will increase the strength of the lower back. The position of the hands is also important. When the hands are fully stretched, the abdominal muscles take the strain of lifting the legs, however, if the hands are bent at the elbows, the deltoids provide a reaction support to the abdominal muscles. The latter reduces the efficacy of shalabhasana and should be avoided. Hands should be stretched straight along the length of the body and close to it. The reason one is asked to take a half breath in shalabhasana and in mayurasana is to ensure that the abdomen is not unduly stressed. In complete exhalation, the abdominal viscera would be loosely packed in the abdomen, while after complete inhalation; the abdomen would be tight, leading to stomach cramps. This is avoided by taking a half breath whereby the abdomen is not stressed. [...] Read more...
Vertigo – Yoga therapy can be used to treat vertigo
Vertigo – Yoga therapy can be used to treat vertigoSchool of Yoga explains Yoga Therapy for vertigo. Yoga therapy for Vertigo – vertigo is a condition where people feel that objects around them are moving even when they are static. Often, it is experienced as a spinning or swaying movement, a feeling of being off-balance. Yoga Therapy for vertigo – symptoms. Vertigo is often triggered by a change in the position of the head. Here, people with vertigo typically describe the experience as one of spinning, tilting, swaying, feeling unbalance, feeling a pull in one direction etc. Accompanying symptoms can include: Nausea and vomiting. Abnormal or jerking eye movements Headache Sweating A ringing in the ear or hearing loss These symptoms can last a few minutes or last for a few hours. Also, they can also come and go. Yoga Therapy for vertigo – root causes. Most common root causes of vertigo are; Deposition of small calcium particles in the canals of the inner ear. This is called BPPV and the calcium deposits interfere with the sense of balance, which is controlled by the inner ear. BPPV can be associated with age. Meniere’s disease – this is a condition where there is a build up of inner ear pressure resulting in imbalance and hearing loss. Vestibular neuritis – this is an infection of the inner ear. Vertigo can also occur on account of brain injury, tumour, sciatica, stroke etc to a lesser extent. Finally, exposure to toxins, alcohol and some drugs and poisons can trigger vertigo. Generally, vertigo is known to have receded naturally as the brain learns to compensate but often, some assistance is required. Yoga Therapy for vertigo – physiology. Vertigo is an illness that is most associated with the vestibular system, a sensory system most associated with sense of balance and space, for the purpose of co-ordinating movement with balance. Additionally, it which consists of the following components; Vestibulospinal tract – is a part of the Vestibular system and Central Nervous System which influences head-eye, posture-balance and spatial-motion co-ordination. Here, stimulus comes from change in movement or balance which in turn acts as an input to the spinal column for compensating the neck and other relevant muscles – or righting reflex. Migraine associated vertigo – is most commonly associated with BPPV associated with dislocation of calcium carbonate crystals which are sensitive to head movements. Yoga Therapy for vertigo – solutions. Solution to vertigo depends a lot on lifestyle, and age. Alcohol also impacts vertigo due to the variable viscosity of the blood and the endolymph during the consumption of alcohol; Āsana cannot replace medication; they can help in restoration and recovery. In fact, they cannot be used as an independent tool for therapy. Asanas are an excellent tool to build resistance such that over time, a near normalcy state is reached. Being in the weight range for one’s specified height is mandatory for any āsana to be effective. The āsana plan will start with āsanas and prāṇāyāma to stabilise nasal pressure. Subsequently, more complex āsanas can be added Yoga Therapy for vertigo – an āsana plan. Starters – 3 months – all āsanas to be performed slowly. Pranayama should not be missed. Intermediate – 3 months – all āsanas to be performed only after improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Prāṇāyāma should not be missed. Estimated time – 30 mins Final – all āsanas to be performed only after substantial improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 45 mins Āsana Beginner Intermediate Final SN   3 months 3 months 3 months 1 Padmāsana 3 mins 3 mins 3 mins 2 Tadāsana 2 2 2 3 Utkatāsana 1 x 5 counts 1 x 5 counts 1 x 10 counts 4 Bhujaṃgāsana 1 2 3 5 Shalabhāsana 1 2 3 6 Dhanurāsana 1 2 3 7 Pavanamuktāsana 2 (one leg) 2 2 8 Arda-halāsana 2 (one leg) 2 2 9 Naukāsana 1 2 2 10 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi 5 mins 5 x 2 mins 15 mins 11 Matsyāsana 1 x 5 counts 1 x 5 counts 1 x 10 counts 12 Sethubandāsana 1 x 10 counts 1 x 20 counts 1 x 50 counts 13 Mahāmudra – 1 x 5 counts 1 x 10 counts 14 Nāḍī-śuddhi prāṇāyāma 5 x 1 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 10 x 2 cycles 15 Bhastrikā 1 x 10 cycles 1 x 15 cycles 1 x 20 cycles 16 Kapālabhātī 1 x 10 cycles 1 x 25 cycles 1 x 50 cycles 17 Śavāsana 5 mins 5 mins 5 mins 18 Meditation (dhyāna) sit in silence and focus on the breath 10 mins 15 mins 20 mins [...] Read more...
Āgama and purāṇa – making concept into culture
Āgama and purāṇa – making concept into cultureSchool of Yoga explains āgama and purāṇa Āgamas are a series of methods and instructions for rituals, yoga and temple construction. They differ from the vedic teachings in that while yajñá or sacrifice in veda does not require any physical manifestation such as idols, āgama-yajñá requires pūja and idols as a means of worship. Āgamas can be divided into Śaiva-āgamas – 28 agama texts detailing the worship of Shiva as ultimate reality covering 4 major and 28 minor schools – 4 major schools being Kapila, Kalamukha, Pashupata and Śaiva. Vaiṣṇava-āgamas – 108 agama texts detailing the worship of Vishnu as ultimate reality and grouped into four categories – Vaikhanasa, Pancharatra, Pratishthasara and Vijnanalalita of which Pancharatra is considered most important. Śāktya-āgamas – 77 agama texts detailing the worship of Shakti as ultimate reality. Each āgama consists of; Jñāna-pāda or vidya–pāda – covering concept, doctrine, philosophical and spiritual basis and knowledge of mokṣa. Yoga–pāda – covers the physical and mental discipline required to reach mokṣa. Kriya–pāda – covers the process of building temples, carving idols, initiation ceremonies and performing rituals etc. Charya–pāda – covers the rules of conduct, process of observing rites, rituals, festivals and prāyaścitta (compensation techniques). In addition to the above āgamas, śaurya, kaumāra and gaṇapatya agamas also exist as minor āgamas. School of Yoga explains purāṇa. Purāṇa means that which belongs to ancient times. Purāṇa are a branch of Sanskrit literature which deal with history, genealogy, tradition and religion and are generally written in the form of stories – dating between 500 BC and 1000 AD. Purāṇas are supposed to have the following 5 sections; Sarga – creation of the world. Pratisarga – creation of subsequent creatures and secondary entities. Vamṣa – Genealogy of Gods. Manvantara – Genealogy of Man Vamṣānucharitam – History of each dynasty. Generally, purāṇas can be split in three main branches: maha or Upapurāṇa – sthalapurāṇa, skandapurāṇa and kulapurāṇa. In Tamil Nadu, they have śiva-purāṇa written in Tamil. There are eighteen mahā or main purāṇas and an equal number of subsidiary purāṇas or upa-purāṇas. The main purāṇas are: Vishnu-purāṇa, naradiya-purāṇa, srimad-bhagavata-purāṇa, garuda (Suparna) purāṇa, Padma-purāṇa, varah-purāṇa, brahma-purāṇa, brahmanda-purāṇa, brahma-vaivarta-purāṇa, markandeya-purāṇa, bhavishya-purāṇa, vamana-purāṇa, matsya-purāṇa, kurma-purāṇa, linga-purāṇa, śiva-purāṇa, skanda-purāṇa and agni purāṇa. What you should know after reading this blog. What is āgama as opposed to yajñá? How many types of āgamas are there? What are the sections or pāda of each āgama? Detail each āgama. What are purāṇas? How many purāṇas exist? What are the elements/ sections of the purāṇas? Which are the most important purāṇa? [...] Read more...
Stress and Situational Awareness
Stress and Situational AwarenessSchool of Yoga explains anatomy of stress Stress has been defined in many ways # Dr. Hans Selye: (Father of modern Stress theory) “the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it” # Lazarus: “The response of the body when pressure exceeds one’s perceived ability to cope”. In any situation, the primary impulse/stimulus is received by the amygdala, a small pea sized organ behind the eyes and between the ears for evaluation of threat. When the amygdala perceives threat, it triggers the hypothalamus which, transmits the threat to the adrenal glands through the pituitary gland. As a result of this input, the body releases adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream, activating the sympathetic nervous system, allowing the body to react to meet the threat. School of Yoga explains the mechanics of response to stimulus First, all stimuli enter the body through the sensory system or “jñānendriya, comprising of, Cakṣu – eye / sight. Śrotra – ear / hearing. Ghrāṇa – nose / smell. Rasana – tongue / taste. Spārśana – skin / touch. Secondly, the stimuli are collated at the center of cognition or manas. This is the somatosensory cortex of the brain. The information also goes to the amygdala for evaluation of threat. Third, since all stimuli are potential sources of stress, each stimulus gets evaluated by the amygdala which is a repository of experience or anubhava. Both good and bad experiences are stored here as well as the somatosensory cortex and this is our conditioning or dharma. Lastly, the incoming information is processed in the brain and compared with dharma (natural state or conditioning) using logic stored in the memory which is called buddhi (intelligence). After this, the person processes a reaction through the motor organs (karmendriya). Vac – speech / tongue Pāṇi – hands Pāda – feet Pāyu – anus Upastha – genitals School of Yoga explains stress and the Self All stimuli initiate change. The first reaction to change is “fear” on account of a perceived danger to the existence of the Self or asmitā (self-worth) by the change. Consequently, change causes confusion/ anxiety/ resistance which is known as tamas. Subsequently, the stimulus enters the amygdala and is compared with the resident conditioning (dharma). Depending on the impact of the change on the sense of Self (asmitā), the response is either withdrawal (tamas) or passion (rajas). This is also known as “fight” or “flight” response.  Subsequently, a response and feedback loop is initiated and this leads to better understanding of the stimulus. This results in homeostasis or sattva. This balance is ever changing and the process is called attribute or guṇa. The body responds by: Increased Heart rate & blood pressure: To get more blood to muscles & brain. Faster breathing: To increase oxygen inflow into the body. Dilation of blood vessels in muscles: Preparing for action. Dilation of the eyes and sensitivity of the sense organs: To assess the situation and act quickly. Auditory exclusion & tunnel vision. Inhibition of erection. Decreased blood flow to skin/ digestive tract/ kidneys & liver to divert blood to musculo-skeletal system. Increased level of blood sugar, fats and cholesterol: For extra energy Increased level of platelets and blood clotting elements: to prevent haemorrhage in case of injury School of Yoga – Indicators of Stress Physical: fatigue, headache, insomnia, muscle aches/stiffness (especially neck, shoulders and low back), heart palpitations, chest pains, abdominal cramps, nausea, trembling, cold extremities, flushing or sweating and frequent colds. Intellectual: Decreased concentration and memory, indecisiveness, mind racing or going blank, confusion, loss of sense of humour. Emotional: anxiety, nervousness, depression, anger, frustration, worry, fear, irritability, impatience, short temper, nervousness (nail-biting, foot-tapping), increased eating, yelling, swearing, blaming. What happens after the threat passes? Lessons are stored in the amygdala for future use; the experience changes personal values (svadharma) on account of awareness of the situation (vijñāna) and its impact on the awareness of our identity (jñāna) and this consequently reflects as changes to our behaviour. Often, we are able to manage some parts of the situation, but not all elements. Also, there may not be enough time, or our conditioning may lack the capability to find a solution. This leads to sustained perception of threat and we begin to experience physical, intellectual or emotional discomfort. Finally, the body which has gone into a state of alert now needs to come back to normal. This may be possible if there is enough time for the system to assimilate the learning and work out the adrenaline. But we often find ourselves confronting multiple situations with different coping requirements in each situation which results in prolonged states of arousal that, over time, damages the body. The chemicals released by the pituitary, the adrenals, the hypothalamus, the thyroid etc., are life-saving chemicals that inhibit routine functions to provide the drive to face danger. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals damages vital organs, leading to reduced resistance of the immune system, hypertension, psychiatric illnesses, and stomach ailments, etc., which over time result in other psychosomatic problems that affect different parts of our body. Factors that affect solutions to stress: This struggle to come back to normalcy is driven by a reflex built into the body called homeostasis. Homeostasis, may be defined as the tendency of the body to move towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes. This means that the body works with a certain set of parameters for proper functioning, like body temperature etc. Consequently, when this parameter is disturbed, as in any stress situation, the body takes compensatory action to bring it back to equilibrium. Factors inhibiting solutions to stress. Will: The drive to affect the outcome in our favour. Genetic: Inherent situation handling tools that we are born with. Conditioning – Environmental, culture, school background, home, etc., determines our ability to handle various situations in the right manner. Classification: By nature, some situations are more difficult to manage than others. Example: The death of a close relative is more difficult to handle than an argument at a traffic signal. A natural calamity like war is more difficult to handle than temporary discomfort like missing a meal or not eating your favourite dish. Health: The current state of Physical, Intellectual and Emotional being determines our reactions in any situation. Risk taking: The ability to start an activity without a clear idea of the possible outcome determines the level of stress experienced. Self Esteem: This is a very strong source of stress and is driven by factors such as fear of failure, lack of confidence, lack of domain knowledge, lack of environmental support and previous negative experience. School of Yoga – management of stress and situational awareness: Stress is experiential and very personal. Obviously, only the person experiencing it knows the high and discomfort of anxiety. Time, place, situation and capability, all could trigger a stress reaction. Consequently, a situation that stresses one person need not stress another, even though the people may be related or in the situation together. Also, that which stresses one at any point in time need not affect the same person in the same manner at other times. Finally, as propounded by Abraham Maslow, when, in any situation where safety and security are endangered, stress in these issues would take precedence over other issues. In conclusion, there are two parts in the management of stress. The first is intervention which is to deal with anxiety as the experience unfolds and the second is to readjust the physical and psychological aspects of our self-worth (asmitā). All solutions require testing the response against one’s conditioning before actualising the response. It is important to keep an open mind to learning and be sensitive to impact of one’s actions on others. Both intervention and readjustment aspects of the solution can be found in the practice of Yoga. Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand stress… Given below are a series of situations. Some are motivational situations, others distressing while some boring. Decide what you would experience in these situation and weigh between 0 and 5 on the impact; for example – on the day of marriage, most would experience a mix of motivation and anxiety. Let us assume that the stress experienced = 2. Similarly, assess the stress you would experience in the following situations; Anxiety on the day of exams. Apprehension on the day of the results of the exams. Fear of not getting good marks. Anxiety of having got poor marks. Fear of not getting admission into a college. Stress of losing a job. Anxiety of argument with one’s best friend. Impact of hunger. Do animals experience stress?  Anxiety that a pet experiences when master returns from work. Is earthquake a result of stress between two plates? Points to ponder about stress; Internal Tags: Conditioning or Dharma, Self Awareness or Asmita,  Guna in Bhagawat Gita chapter 14 External Tags: Hypothalalmic-Pituitary-Adrenal activity) Share your opinion and experiences regarding stress; How do we recognise a stress situation?  Is anxiety hard to manage? Why? Are all forms of stress hard to manage?  How do we recognise elements of our behaviour?  Is giving up bad? What happens when we give up?  What is fear of failure?  Does prayer help when we are afraid?  Can we really control events or are we mostly reacting to them?  Is fear of death a stressor or a motivator?  Can one get stressed when feeling motivated?  Is environmental degradation a source of stress?  Can lack of education become a stressor?  Is anxiety impulsive or pre-meditated?  When is it hard to admit that you are stressed?  How do you recognise that you are stressed? How do you recognise that your coping actions are not adequate? Is it possible to recognise an anxious person? How do you recognise your value system orconditioning (svadharma)? What would svatantra mean for your team, your company, your state or country. [...] Read more...
Dhanurasana – Bow Pose
Dhanurasana – Bow PoseSchool of Yoga explains Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) Hatha Yoga Pradipika on Dhanurasana: Chapter 1, verse(25) Dhanurasana – that which is called dhanurasana is performed by catching the toes of the feet and bringing it to the ear. School of Yoga explains – Dhanurasana technique:  Sthithi (starting) position: Lie down on the stomach. Spread the legs as widely as you can. Breathing in, fold the legs back at the knees. Reach out and grab the ankles with both hands. Breathing out, raise the legs by pulling the legs upwards. Balance the entire body on the stomach. Once you have sufficient experience, you may rock the body forward and back on the abdomen. Repeat the exercise by rocking sideways and in a circular motion. Breathe in when coming to rest on the ground. Release the legs. Get back to sthithi (starting) position. Breathe normally. Repeat 3 to 6 times. The drishti (gaze) recommended is Oordhva drishti (open sky gaze). School of Yoga explains – Dhanurasana benefits:  The action of rocking the body on the stomach increases intra-abdominal pressure and ensures excellent peristaltic action. This exercise is excellent for stimulating and toning the complete digestive system, the stomach, intestines, etc. This exercise is very good for improving pancreatic function. The action is also very good for reducing fat in the adipose tissues due the nature of the abdominal massage induced by the asana. Consequently, this asana reduces obesity. In obese people, fat and adipose tissue results in reduced blood supply to the region. However,  dhanurasana re-establishes blood supply and improves functioning of the entire abdominal region. Good for most digestion related ailments, especially diabetes or as a tool for managing recovery from hepatitis as there the rocking movement massages the pancreas, liver and other organs related to digestion. Rejuvenates the reproductive system and relieves menstrual discomfort. Though asanas are not advised during menstruation, but the regular practice of dhanurasana could alleviate menstrual cramps. The action of reverse flexing the back results in toning of the entire spinal cord, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The pulling of the legs back simultaneously in a stretched condition induces tension in the vertebrae, increasing the strength of the back and toning up the spinal column. School of Yoga explains – Dhanurasana contraindications  In the initial days, you may experience difficulty in lifting yourself up. This is because the back muscles are unused to this kind of exercise. Go slow, over time, you will be able to lift yourself. If you have any form of back ache, push yourself only to the point where there is no discomfort. When pain or discomfort starts, stop immediately. With practice, the back will begin to flex better. Practitioners suffering from vertigo must also be careful not to strain beyond the limits of their bodies. Since this exercise exerts pressure on the heart, people with cardiac concerns should perform this asana under supervision. This asana should not be practiced during pregnancy. Some noteworthy points on Dhanurasana: Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, This asana is considered to be one of the 32 most important asanas by all ancient texts. Obese people should perform this asana with help and not try too hard to get to the complete pose as it could lead to internal damage, including blood vessels. First, Do one leg, then do with the other before attempting both together. Initially, one may keep the legs together when lifting and with experience, spread the legs to get maximum benefit. This asana should be done after exhalation and any inhalation should be shallow. The reason is that, if this asana is done with lungs filled with air, the diaphragm will push the abdomen down tightening it. This will reduce the massaging effect of the rocking motion on the abdominal organs, especially the intestines. Also, a tight abdomen can lead to cramps during rocking. [...] Read more...
Kidney – Yoga Therapy of a critical organ
Kidney – Yoga Therapy of a critical organKidney – Yoga Therapy for kidney ailments. Acknowledgement – School of Yoga is deeply grateful to late Dr. V. Sivaraman for his collaboration of Yoga Therapy for kidney ailments. School of Yoga explains – introduction to the kidney. Kidneys are part of the urinary or renal system and consist of the kidneys, ureter, urinary bladder and urethra. The urinary system performs excretion and regulation. In fact, the activity is centred on the kidneys, making it the centre of the urinary system. 22 % of the heart output or blood flow goes to the kidneys where waste from metabolism is removed and excreted as urine. This not only cleans the body, but also regulates its functioning. So, this shows the importance of healthy kidneys. School of Yoga explains – mechanics of the kidney. The kidneys are 2 bean shaped organs which are placed on either side of the spine, high in the abdominal cavity, somewhere in the centre of the torso towards the back. The primary function of the kidneys is filtration of blood. The renal artery brings blood which has waste products, into the kidneys and the renal vein takes back cleaned blood. Cleaning of the blood is achieved by; Removal of waste / toxins, mainly urea and uric acid from the body. Regulation of electrolyte balance such as sodium, potassium and calcium. Regulation of acid-base homeostasis by regulating -HCO3. Osmoregulation – Controlling electrolyte balance, hence blood pressure. The waste thus removed is excreted through the ureter into the bladder and urethra. School of Yoga explains – physiology of kidney. The kidneys come under the influence of the circulatory, nervous and endocrine system. The parameters which affect the functioning of the kidneys are; Electrolyte balance – such as sodium, potassium and calcium. Calcium is a critical for building or remodelling of bones. Hence, the health of the parathyroid determines the health of the kidney. Control of calcium is done by the parathyroid which is situated in the neck around the oesophagus. This regulates the amount of calcium in the blood. Aldostrone hormone – is a steroid hormone generated by the adrenaline glands which regulate the amount of sodium and potassium and impact the amount of water retained in the arteries and therefore blood pressure. The adrenaline glands are situated above the kidneys. Waste management – the kidneys process approximately 1000 – 1200 ml of blood per minute, which means that the entire blood volume of the body is processed through the kidneys at least 250 – 300 times a day. In fact, humans have approximately 5 litres of blood circulating in the body. It is generally more in males than females. This volume is regulated by the kidneys and is generally impacted by age and obesity. Fluid balance – The amount of water in the blood determines various factors such as homeostasis, pH of the blood, electrolyte concentration etc. The kidneys are critical in ensuring this capability. Metabolism – The concentration of -HCO3 + sugar and urea levels are byproducts of metabolism. Hence, the kidneys cannot be viewed in isolation, but in conjunction with the health of the heart, lungs, pancreas and the endocrine system. School of Yoga explains – impact of other organs. The kidneys are dependent on many other organs for health and vice versa. The quality of blood coming to the kidneys determines the ability of the kidneys to filter it. Similarly, the quality of blood leaving the kidneys determines the overall health of the other organs. Consequently, this determines the health of the body, underscoring the key role played by the kidney. Some of the organs which directly affect the kidneys are (not all are covered): Heart – Blood is the only fluid which reaches every part of the body carrying oxygen and nutrients for proper functioning of the various systems of the body. Thus, blood pressure impacts the quality of cleaning. Therefore, chronic high blood pressure will impact osmosis and reduce the efficiency of the kidneys. Lung efficiency – CO2 and water vapour is removed from the body through the lungs. The CO2 in the blood plasma is converted to –HCO3, is regulated by the kidneys and critical for control of pH of the blood. So, healthy lungs help the kidneys maintain acid-base balance. Pancreas – The pancreas plays a critical role in regulating blood sugar. Chronic diabetes can damage the kidneys. Therefore, healthy kidneys require control of blood sugar. School of Yoga explains – solutions to a healthy kidney. Solution to any circulatory illness depends a lot on lifestyle, age and hereditary issues. So, the solutions are not necessarily in order of priority, but some or all may apply to the practitioner; Body weight – Keeping within the recommended weight range is possible only through strict diet and exercise regime. Consequenty, this automatically ensures a healthy heart, liver and pancreas. Vegetarian diet – Meats produce acids which need to be excreted by the kidneys. Also, vegetarian diet is more alkaline, and this reduces the load on the kidneys. Lung function – Pranayama is a very important element in overall plan. This ensures greater oxygen supply to the kidneys, ensuring their health. Hypertension – Even when the person follows a good diet, it is possible for hypertension to increase blood pressure to a point where it affects critical organs such as the kidneys (which receives 22% of all blood supply). Asana, pranayama and meditation play a key role in reducing stress, counteracting the effects of prolonged exposure to adrenaline and cortisol. Blood Sugar – Prolonged exposure to high sugar levels in the blood impact osmolarity. Hence, a healthy pancreas is critical for the functioning of the kidneys. School of Yoga explains – the āsana plan for a healthy kidney. Beginner– 3 months – all āsana to be performed slowly and after OK from doctor. Intermediate – 3 months – all āsana to be performed only after improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 30 mins Final – all āsana to be performed only after substantial improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 45 mins Āsana Beginner Intermediate Final No Time frame 3 months 3 months thereafter 1 Padmāsana 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes 2 Tadāsana 2 2 2 3 Trikonāsana 2 3 3 4 Pādahastāsana – 2 2 5 Vīrabhadrāsana 2 2 2 6 Bhujaṃgāsana 2 3 3 7 Śalabhāsana – – 2 8 Dhanurāsana 2 2 3 9 Majriāsana 1 2 2 10 Pavanamuktāsana 2 2 2 11 Arda-halāsana 2 2 2 12 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi 5 minutes 5 minutes 10 minutes 13 Sarvāngāsana – – 5 minutes 14 Matsyāsana – – 1 x 10 counts 15 Sethubandhāsana 1 x 20 counts 1 x 30 counts 1 x 50 counts 16 Nāḍī-śuddhi prāṇāyāma 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 17 Kapālabhātī 20 x 2 cycles 40 x 2 cycles 50 x 2 cycles 18 Śavāsana 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 19 Meditation – dhyāna (sit in silence and focus on the breath) 10 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes Share your opinion and experiences. Do you exercise? What is your exercise routine? When do you prefer to exercise? morning or evening? why? Do you exercise alone or in a group? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Do you wear any special clothing for exercise? why? What is your diet? How do you manage your diet? How do you manage time? [...] Read more...
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – Introduction and chapter 1 (viṣāda-yoga)
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – Introduction and chapter 1 (viṣāda-yoga)School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 1 – viṣāda-yoga (yoga of melancholy) Acknowledgement – School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – Overview  No single text discusses or explains the many philosophies which fall under the umbrella of sanātana-dharma. Sanātana-dharma philosophy encompasses multiple schools of thought or shākhās which are subdivided into sub-schools or pravara. Further, these get subdivided depending on interpretation, region, culture, practice and most importantly, guru. Consequently, availability of a vast number of options in schools of thought can confuse the practitioner, resulting in some abandoning their search for the truth or looking for simpler solutions. However, these simpler systems generally have rigid rules for easy understanding and application, which constrict experimentation or personalisation.  What are the advantages of this open philosophical format? It allows for three major adjustments; First, it allows one to change philosophical direction multiple times. Next, it allows one to rearrange philosophical construct to suit personality & aspirations. This means that it allows one to borrow from various philosophical streams. Eventually, this open format structure allows practitioners to adapt their spiritual path to changes brought by age and experience. School of Yoga explains the importance of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā. Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā should be viewed in the light of its importance to the overall philosophy of yoga (yogaśāstra). The ancient Indian philosophical basis is that all existence is impermanent and a farce or illusion (māyā). Illusion (māyā) rises from Brahman which is a state of imperishable equilibrium or peace, or a state where there is no change. In fact, only the Brahman is permanent and absolute, everything else is impermanent or relative. Also, since it is permanent and absolute, Brahman is known as the state of Truth. Obviously, there can be only one absolute Truth, and everything else is derived from it and known as illusion or māyā. Everything in this illusionary state of relativity and impermanence (māyā) has a natural state (dharma). When anything is in this natural state (dharma), it is at material, stable, harmonic or thermodynamic equilibrium. Dharma applies to all entities, from an atom to all existence.  All forms of existence come as combinations of the primordial elements pañcabhūtas (five primordial elements) comprising earth (pṛthvī), water (ap), fire (agni), air (vāyu), space (ākāśa). Also, dharma includes all sentient or insentient entities, systems, processes, businesses, travel and even countries. Since this natural state of peace encompasses everything, it is called sanātana-dharma or universal natural state. In fact, everything in illusion (māyā) is governed by sanātana-dharma.   Importantly, by the very nature of māyā, material equilibrium or dharma, is continuously subjected to both, sentient and insentient stimuli. As a result, the equilibrium of dharma is constantly disturbed by change. This causes turbulence, confusion or chaos which is called adharma. Consequently, change creates an imbalance in all the systems impacted by change. Since any system that goes out of balance never returns to its original state of order or equilibrium (dharma), it can be deduced that dharma changes continuously and at the same time, there is a continuous increase in chaos or thermodynamic entropy which is the measure of randomness in any system (adharma).  The ancient seers (ṛṣis) of Bhārat realised that while realisation of Brahman was the main objective of existence, human and societal existence had to be structured so that chaos in daily living was minimised and individuals lived harmoniously in well-defined life-structures while gravitating naturally towards the Truth. Hence, they integrated this sanātana-dharma philosophy into the lifestyle of the individual and society so that each life-activity assisted the person in transcending māyā naturally and reaching perfection (Brahman). This is the ancient civilisation (rāṣṭra) of Bhārat. This system that they worked out is called Hinduism today. Interestingly, Hinduism cannot be called a religion in the traditional sense because it has no dogma. It is a way of life that is influenced by philosophical schools (shākhā) as well as sub-schools (pravara), each of which follow broad based practices but these too have a very open structure and a lot of overlap with other philosophical schools in their construct and practices. School of Yoga explains sanātana-dharma. The philosophical basis of Hinduism are the Vedas, which are considered to be apauruṣeya which can be translated as “not of man”, meaning that they were composed by ṛṣis or seers when in a state of complete merger with the Brahman. There are four Vedas (ṛig, yajur, sāma, atharva). The Vedas are followed by Vedāṅga (limb of the Vedas) which are six auxiliary disciplines that help in maintaining the purity of the These are, śikṣā (phonetics or enunciation of Saṃskṛta), chandas (metering or how the verses should be chanted), vyākaraṇa (grammar or linguistic analysis), nirukta (explanation of certain words which are not generally used in everyday living), kalpa (passage of life or life event rites) jyotiṣ (astrology). Vedāṅga are followed by vedānta or upaniṣads which elaborate the qualities of Brahman as well as process of renunciation by simplifying the philosophy without diluting it, through explanations, comparison, storytelling (example – kaṭhopanṣad) and other means. Purāṇas are the next level of simplification for easy understanding of the Brahman and these cover life stories of people who can be called role-models, those who transcended physical existence to realise the Truth. While the above texts cover the philosophical and intellectual aspects of Brahman, they are highly conceptual and difficult to implement in a secular manner. So, for daily application, the ṛṣis devised another approach for implementation of the above philosophy in society and this evolved to become, Dharma-sūtras or sūtras which covered every aspect of physical existence. The intent was to condition behaviour of society and people with constant focus on transcending māyā and living in peace, so that transcending physical existence to realise the brahman became integrated into life and living.  However, while dharma-sūtras applied to everyone, people had different socio-environmental requirements, so these sūtras were modified for local and regional adaptation and these local nuances became known as sampradāya. For example, rice and fish is a staple of Bengal and all religious and cultural events have both, rice and fish. However, sampradāya in Punjab it is wheat based, while in the South and East of India celebrations are predominantly rice based. Thus, we can see that the sanātana-dharma philosophical system has some noteworthy features. First, it is personal because it allows moulding of the philosophy to the person’s background, capability and outlook. There is no wrong path, there is only the effort, learning and transition. All that is required is sincerity and dedication of purpose and effort (śraddhā). Second, since Brahman is an infinite unchanging peace, by its very nature it requires orientation towards internalising peace, balance and harmony among all entities, people and societies. Consequently, this makes Hinduism the most natural, organic and scientific philosophy ever designed by mankind. By its nature, it adapts to external influence and is never in conflict with any alien thought or civilisational pressure. Finally, this philosophy is unique because it does not seek to establish political or social ascendency over anyone because, its core principle is that all creation is equal. Thirdly, Hinduism is designed around the code that every creation, whether it is sentient (jīva) or insentient (jadam) has a soul that has the potential to transcend māyā and eventually merge with Brahman. This covers everything from a lowly atom to the solar system. Hence, it does not restrict transcendental development to man alone. In fact, since man is intellectually superior, it places an onerous leadership responsibility on man to ensure health and harmony of the complete ecosystem. These responsibilities are enshrined in the pañca-mahā-yajña (five great sacrifices) and are covered in subsequent chapters. Lastly, Hinduism is secular by design because it recognises that there are many distinct paths to realise Brahman and these paths need to be personalised to the natural capabilities of the seeker. This is why Hinduism is not a religion but a “way of life”. School of Yoga explains sanātana-dharma and its logical construction. The ancient seers or ṛṣis specified that any philosophical hypothesis should satisfy certain testing rules that are called pramāṇas (rules of evidence). All pramāṇas are based on experience and logic, hence they can be personalised. School of Yoga explains the pramāṇas. The pramāṇas are – pratyakṣa (personal vision or experience of logic), anumāna (inference through application of rules of nature), upamāna (comparison and analogy with various logical constructs that have been accepted as valid), arthāpatti (postulation and derivation from evidence), anupalabdhi (non-apprehension or negative cognitive proof) and śabda (verbal testimony). Pratyakṣa or personal experience.  This is the most effective source of proof because it is based on personal experience.  Example: Assume that you are walking down a street and see someone walking unsteadily in front of you. Generally, you would assume that he is drunk and feel disgusted. However, as you overtake him, if you were to see that the person is ill or in pain, your attitude would change immediately. Any change in perception has been brought about by personal experience in the situation is pratyakṣa or personal experience.  Anumāna or inference from experience. This is the drawing of a conclusion based on prior knowledge, like assuming that if there is smoke, there must be fire. Example: Assume that you are a parent whose child has been consistently getting good marks and grades. If in one exam, the child’s marks were to deteriorate unexpectedly, you would rightly assume from experience that the situation needs investigation. This is anumāna or inference drawn from experience. Upamāna or comparison based on experience. Example: We know that domestic dogs are similar to street dogs because we compare their form and function. Consequently, when we go on a wild life safari, we are able to recognise wolves, foxes or hyenas as different from dogs.  This ability to compare and conclude is upamāna or comparison from experience. Arthāpatti or postulation derived from evidence. Example: All businesses create forecasts based on prior performance and future potential. These projections are based on analysis of prior performance, examination of current business situation, resources and risk. The accuracy of any forecast depends on the analyst’s experience and exposure to various aspects of the business being forecasted. This is arthāpatti or postulation derived from evidence.  Anupalabdhi or negative cognitive proof. Anupalabdhi is the ability to recognise a missing aspect of any problem being analysed. Example: Assume that you are collating all your documents for an interview and you find your birth certificate missing. Since, you recognise the absence of the certificate, you will initiate a search. This is anupalabdhi or negative cognitive proof. Sabda or verbal testimony. This is a commonly used pramāṇa or proof of existence. Example: You are a manager with many sales representatives reporting to you. While, you may go with a few on customer visits, you will rely on verbal inputs or sabda of your subordinates to assess the state of your operations.  Conclusion: one can see that this system does not prescribe, it allows one to seek, make mistakes, correct in small and incremental steps, called anubhava or experience to reach the truth or state of brahman. Obviously, this means that aspirant needs to have enormous drive, persistence and patience (śraddhā) to overcome frustration and failure. This also means that the aspirant can choose from multiple paths in a manner that aligns with his or her personality and all will lead to a state of cognitive perfection, the state of Truth or brahman. Interestingly, this is enshrined in the Indian constitution as “Truth will triumph” (satyameva-jayate). School of Yoga explains the value of a guru (read about the ancient gurukul system here). In this open philosophical format for reaching the Truth, there is need for someone who can help the aspirant navigate the various paths (mārga). Such a person is called a guru (weighty one or one who guides from darkness = gu to light = ru). A guru may be defined as a teacher, guide or anchor who pounds and pestles all ignorance and delusions or ajñāna out of the aspirant and directs him or her to the truth. So, the guru must also have the discriminatory ability (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya) to pierce the delusions and apprehensions that cloud the student and offer solutions without attachment to the student. Oriental systems and practices clearly enunciate the quality or attitude with which the aspirant must approach the guru. It should be one of surrender or śaraṇāgati, which roughly translates to “I surrender my speed to you”. “Speed” here means “speed of movement of the sense of Self”. Consequently, śaraṇāgati means that the aspirant no longer exists as an individual, but as a tool of the guru, to be moulded, used or discarded as the guru wishes (read about the ancient gurukula system). Therefore, this also means that once the aspirant surrenders, he or she should not judge the guru, but submit without reservation. Indeed, there are very few known yogīs who have reached the Truth without a guru, chief among them being Rāmakṛṣṇa Paramahaṃsa and Ramana Maharishi. School of Yoga explains the background of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā. Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā is the only text that covers most of the paths to realisation of the Truth or Brahman. It does not prescribe any solution, that is for the aspirant to find – if one is lucky, at the feet of a guru. Since it does not prescribe, Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā is not a religious text just as sanātana-dharma is not a religion. In fact, one could adhere to any religion and follow the concepts in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā to reach the Truth. Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā was composed on a battlefield, more specifically an internecine, fratricidal civil war, where the warring factions were all kinsmen. The protagonist, warrior Prince and ace archer Arjuna is beset by fear of chaos which would ensue when so many died and his own personal grief at the thought of losing so many kinsmen as he reviews the battlefield situation. His doubts are answered by Śrī Kṛṣṇa, his charioteer and this forms the background of the text. The conversation between Arjuna and Śrī Kṛṣṇa mirrors our own state in many situations. It starts with internal confusion and conflict at the chaos arising from consequences. Then, as we study Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, we begin to understand the nature of permanence or the Next, we learn about work and duty. Also, we learn about how to work without losing our sense of Self (asmitā). This followed by an explanation of the many paths that we can take to re-establish equilibrium. Finally, we understand the integration of the system with society (vijñāna), which is followed by our understanding of the Self (jñāna) and its integration within the macro-system. So, Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā is actually a manual which each of us can use to navigate the labyrinth called “life”. School of Yoga explains the timelines of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā.  There are some who have calculated the dates of the Mahābhārata battle (commonly called kurukṣetra War) as follows: Start – mṛgaśirā–śukla-ekādaśī = 8th December BCE 3139 End – 25th December BCE 3139. School of Yoga explains the structure of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā. Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā is made up of 18 chapters, each chapter is a description of a yoga or method for harmonising). These 18 chapters are broadly categorised as Chapters 1- 6          Karma-kānḍa –       Volume of action Chapters 7 – 12       Upanyāsa-kānḍa – Volume of proof and Chapters 13 – 18     Jñāna-kānḍa –        Volume of knowledge These 18 chapters contain 690 couplets as a conversation that includes 4 participants – the King Dhṛṭarāṣṭra (1 couplet), Sañjaya who oversees the conversation between Arjuna and Śrī Kṛṣṇa (40 couplets), Prince Arjuna who is the confused protagonist (85 couplets) and Śrī Kṛṣṇa (564 couplets). Importantly, Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā is the only significant world-text that has its own birthday or Jayanthi. It is celebrated on the 11th day of the waxing moon in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa. School of Yoga introduces Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In Mahābhārata, Śrī Kṛṣṇa operates as two personas – a pūraṇaic personality Śrī Kṛṣṇa who lived in the period and the yogī, who had reached a particular state of perfection. Often, it is easy to confuse the person from the yogī. This is a confusion that will last throughout Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā.  Biological father – Vasudeva (Yādava Clan) Biological Mother – Devakī (Ugra Race) Brother – Balarāma Sister – Subhadrā Birthplace – Gokula, Birth details: Date – 18 July, 3228 BCE, Month – śrāvaṇa, Tithi – aṣṭamī (eighth day of the waning moon), Nakṣatra – rohiṇī, Day – Wednesday, Time – 00:00 (midnight) Wives: Rukminī, Ratyabhāmā, Jāmbavatī, Kālindī, Mitravindā, Nāgnajitī, Bhadrā, Lakṣmaṇā. Death details: 18th Feb 3102 BCE. Age at death: 125 years, 8 months and 7 days. Śrī Kṛṣṇa migrated from Mathurā to Vṛndāvana at age 9, staying in Vṛndāvana till age 14-16. Thereafter, he killed his maternal uncle Kaṃsa and released his parents who had been imprisoned by Kaṃsa. Following this, he migrated to Dvārakā and never returned. Śrī Kṛṣṇa died 36 years after kurukṣetra war, in 3103 BCE, when the present-day kaliyuga is said to have begun. School of Yoga introduces Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 1 – viṣāda-yoga (yoga of melancholy). Dhṛṭarāṣṭra, the blind father of the kauravas, asks Sañjaya to explain the scene of battle at Kurukṣetra. Having seen the pāṇḍavas arrayed in battle opposite them, the kaurava King Duryodhana approached his Guru Droṇācārya and sought benediction and confidence. In response, Droṇācārya blew his battle conch, infusing confidence into the kaurava Army.  Likewise, the pāṇḍavas blew on their conches and there was a general exchange of drums and conches. Amidst this, Arjuna asked Śrī Kṛṣṇa to drive between the opposing armies so that he may see the opposing forces. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, his charioteer for the battle, did as asked. Arjuna, seeing his kinsmen and close relatives on the opposite site, each preparing to slaughter the other, spoke with great sorrow that he had lost the strength and confidence to fight and began to question the very premise on which they had gone to battle, saying; I do not wish to kill anyone. What good will come out of this slaughter? How can we be happy killing our own kinsmen despite the fact that their greed does not allow them to have softer sentiments? The destruction of any family will result in corruption and destruction of all known social hierarchies and systems. Consequently, this is a great sin. Putting down his bow, in distress and sorrow, Arjuna said “I won’t fight”. Example 1. You have been cheated of your property by a close relative. You are angry, frustrated and vengeful. You go to your lawyer to seek retribution. There, the lawyer explains the consequences of your action, the costs, efforts and risks…. You begin to have doubts on whether to proceed. What is the difference in emotions between before and after your meeting with the lawyer? The truth that you have been cheated has not changed. Your desire for justice has not changed, neither has the loss faced by you… What has happened? Why have you changed? What is the change?  Example 2. You are dismayed at your annual appraisal rating and feel that it does not reflect your effort and contribution to the organisation. Consequently, you meet your immediate boss but his explanation does not satisfy you. So, you decide to go to the Head of the department. As you enter, you realise that your immediate boss will probably not be sympathetic to your action. Finally, you also realise that the Head may not be able to help! You feel nervous, experience palpitation and an unknown fear…  Why are you afraid?  What are you afraid of? How do you deal with the anxiety? Why do you constantly worry about the consequences of your action? What is the role of dharma (conditioning) in your ability to deal with situations? These are examples of Arjuna’s experiences when he examines the potential consequences of his action.  School of Yoga posits some contradictions to accepted positions. Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā is not a book of religion. By religion, we mean any system of thought that is based on the concept of God and has principles, dogma procedures and rules that need to be followed which are considered inviolable. Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā does not have any dogma, principle or rules. It allows a practitioner to yoke his or her natural instincts with the state of peace in any manner that the person may find comfortable. Essentially, this means that the person works on his or her physical, emotional and intellectual strengths and weaknesses continuously to remain in peace, balance and harmony within the Self, surroundings and in all transactions. This is why Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā is a book on yoga (yogaśāstra). School of Yoga explains some lessons from Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 1. All of us face internal and external conflicts which result in stress and a feeling of melancholy. Often, internal stresses come from external factors such as job loss, negative annual appraisal and grading, conflicts at home or disagreements with friends etc. Internal factors can be perceived gap between expectation and achievement, inability to finish tasks, poor time management, obsession, loneliness etc. This happens to all of us, the starting point in all situations is confusion, melancholy, internal conflict and stress, anxiety at the possible outcome etc. This is the reality that the Bhagavad-gītā uses as a foundation to build the open architecture of sanātana-dharma which gets detailed over the next seventeen chapters. The transliteration and translation of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 1 follows. The Saṃskṛta diacritic words are in red italics. धृतराष्ट्र उवाच – धर्मक्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे समवेता युयुत्सवः । मामकाः पाण्डवाश्चैव किमकुर्वत सञ्जय ॥ १-१॥ Dhṛṭarāṣṭra said (1) At the field of righteousness, at kurukṣetra, what is the status of my people and also pāṇḍavas who have gathered with a desire for battle (dharmakṣetre kurukṣetre samavetā yuyutsavaḥ । māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāścaiva kimakurvata sañjaya ॥). सञ्जय उवाच – दृष्ट्वा तु पाण्डवानीकं व्यूढं दुर्योधनस्तदा । आचार्यमुपसङ्गम्य राजा वचनमब्रवीत् ॥ १-२॥ पश्यैतां पाण्डुपुत्राणामाचार्य महतीं चमूम् । व्यूढां द्रुपदपुत्रेण तव शिष्येण धीमता ॥ १-३॥ अत्र शूरा महेष्वासा भीमार्जुनसमा युधि । युयुधानो विराटश्च द्रुपदश्च महारथः ॥ १-४॥ Sañjaya said (2-4) having indeed seen the armies of pāṇḍavas in battle array, Duryodhana, the king, approached his teacher and said (dṛṣṭvā tu pāṇḍavānīkaṃ vyūḍhaṃ duryodhanastadā । ācāryamupasaṅgamya rājā vacanamabravīt ॥ 1-2॥). Teacher, behold here the great army the sons of Pāndu, marshalled by the son of Drupada, your talented student (paśyaitāṃ pāṇḍuputrāṇāmācārya mahatīṃ camūm । vyūḍhāṃ drupadaputreṇa tava śiṣyeṇa dhīmatā ॥ 1-3॥). Here are daring warriors, great archers, equal to Bhīma and Arjuna in battle, Yuyudhāna, Virāta and Drupada the great charioteer (atra śūrā maheṣvāsā bhīmārjunasamā yudhi । yuyudhāno virāṭaśca drupadaśca mahārathaḥ ॥ 1-4॥). धृष्टकेतुश्चेकितानः काशिराजश्च वीर्यवान् । पुरुजित्कुन्तिभोजश्च शैब्यश्च नरपुङ्गवः ॥ १-५॥ युधामन्युश्च विक्रान्त उत्तमौजाश्च वीर्यवान् । सौभद्रो द्रौपदेयाश्च सर्व एव महारथाः ॥ १-६॥ अस्माकं तु विशिष्टा ये तान्निबोध द्विजोत्तम । नायका मम सैन्यस्य संज्ञार्थं तान्ब्रवीमि ते ॥ १-७॥ (5-7) Dhṛṣṭaketu and Cekitāna, King of Kāśi and valiant Purujit, Kuntibhoja and śaibya and best of men (dhṛṣṭaketuścekitānaḥ kāśirājaśca vīryavān । purujitkuntibhojaśca śaibyaśca narapuṅgavaḥ ॥ 1-5॥). Yudhāmanyhu and courageous Uttamoujā and the brave son of Subhadrā and Draupadī and all great charioteers (yudhāmanyuśca vikrānta uttamaujāśca vīryavān । saubhadro draupadeyāśca sarva eva mahārathāḥ ॥ 1-6॥). Ours also distinguished chiefs those who are knowledgeable, best of twice-born, the leaders of my army, for information, I will recount to you (asmākaṃ tu viśiṣṭā ye tānnibodha dvijottama । nāyakā mama sainyasya saṃjñārthaṃ tānbravīmi te ॥ 1-7॥). भवान्भीष्मश्च कर्णश्च कृपश्च समितिञ्जयः । अश्वत्थामा विकर्णश्च सौमदत्तिस्तथैव च ॥ १-८॥ अन्ये च बहवः शूरा मदर्थे त्यक्तजीविताः । नानाशस्त्रप्रहरणाः सर्वे युद्धविशारदाः ॥ १-९॥ अपर्याप्तं तदस्माकं बलं भीष्माभिरक्षितम् । पर्याप्तं त्विदमेतेषां बलं भीमाभिरक्षितम् ॥ १-१०॥ (8-10) Yourself, Bhīṣma and Karṇa and Kṛpa and Aśvatthāmā, victorious in war, and even Vikarṇa, son of Somadatta, (bhavānbhīṣmaśca karṇaśca kṛpaśca samitiñjayaḥ । aśvatthāmā vikarṇaśca saumadattistathaiva ca ॥ 1-8॥). And many other heroes, for me willing to sacrifice their lives, armed with various weapons, all well skilled in battle (anye ca bahavaḥ śūrā madarthe tyaktajīvitāḥ । nānāśastrapraharaṇāḥ sarve yuddhaviśāradāḥ ॥ 1-9॥). Unlimited is our strength, marshalled by Bhīṣmma, while their army marshalled by Bhima is insufficient (aparyāptaṃ tadasmākaṃ balaṃ bhīṣmābhirakṣitam । paryāptaṃ tvidameteṣāṃ balaṃ bhīmābhirakṣitam ॥ 1-10॥). अयनेषु च सर्वेषु यथाभागमवस्थिताः । भीष्ममेवाभिरक्षन्तु भवन्तः सर्व एव हि ॥ १-११॥ तस्य सञ्जनयन्हर्षं कुरुवृद्धः पितामहः । सिंहनादं विनद्योच्चैः शङ्खं दध्मौ प्रतापवान् ॥ १-१२॥ ततः शङ्खाश्च भेर्यश्च पणवानकगोमुखाः । सहसैवाभ्यहन्यन्त स शब्दस्तुमुलोऽभवत् ॥ १-१३॥ (11-13) Indeed, within and everywhere, the strength of the divisions is deployed to protect Bhīṣmma alone (ayaneṣu ca sarveṣu yathābhāgamavasthitāḥ । bhīṣmamevābhirakṣantu bhavantaḥ sarva eva hi ॥ 1-11॥). Therefore, expressing happiness, the oldest of the kurus, the grandfather loudly let out a lion’s roar and blew his mighty conch (tasya sañjanayanharṣaṃ kuruvṛddhaḥ pitāmahaḥ । siṃhanādaṃ vinadyoccaiḥ śaṅkhaṃ dadhmau pratāpavān ॥ 1-12॥). Then, conchs and kettledrums and tabors, drums and cow-horns suddenly blared forth in a sound that was tumultuous (tataḥ śaṅkhāśca bheryaśca paṇavānakagomukhāḥ । sahasaivābhyahanyanta sa śabdastumulo’bhavat ॥ 1-13॥). ततः श्वेतैर्हयैर्युक्ते महति स्यन्दने स्थितौ । माधवः पाण्डवश्चैव दिव्यौ शङ्खौ प्रदध्मतुः ॥ १-१४॥ पाञ्चजन्यं हृषीकेशो देवदत्तं धनञ्जयः । पौण्ड्रं दध्मौ महाशङ्खं भीमकर्मा वृकोदरः ॥ १-१५॥ अनन्तविजयं राजा कुन्तीपुत्रो युधिष्ठिरः । नकुलः सहदेवश्च सुघोषमणिपुष्पकौ ॥ १-१६॥ (14-16) Then, seated on a magnificent war-chariot yoked with white horses Mādhava and son of Pāndu also blew their divine conches (tataḥ śvetairhayairyukte mahati syandane sthitau । mādhavaḥ pāṇḍavaścaiva divyau śaṅkhau pradadhmatuḥ ॥ 1-14॥). pāñcajanya of Hṛṣīkeśa, devadattam of Dhanañjaya and pauṇḍra was blown by the doer of terrible deeds, Bhīma (pāñcajanyaṃ hṛṣīkeśo devadattaṃ dhanañjayaḥ । pauṇḍraṃ dadhmau mahāśaṅkhaṃ bhīmakarmā vṛkodaraḥ ॥ 1-15॥). Rājā Kuntīputra Yudhiṣṭhira blew the anantavijaya, Nakula and Sahadeva blew conches named sughoṣa and maṇipuṣpaka (anantavijayaṃ rājā kuntīputro yudhiṣṭhiraḥ । nakulaḥ sahadevaśca sughoṣamaṇipuṣpakau ॥ 1-16॥). काश्यश्च परमेष्वासः शिखण्डी च महारथः । धृष्टद्युम्नो विराटश्च सात्यकिश्चापराजितः ॥ १-१७॥ द्रुपदो द्रौपदेयाश्च सर्वशः पृथिवीपते । सौभद्रश्च महाबाहुः शङ्खान्दध्मुः पृथक्पृथक् ॥ १-१८॥ स घोषो धार्तराष्ट्राणां हृदयानि व्यदारयत् । नभश्च पृथिवीं चैव तुमुलोऽभ्यनुनादयन् ॥ १-१९॥ अथ व्यवस्थितान्दृष्ट्वा धार्तराष्ट्रान् कपिध्वजः । प्रवृत्ते शस्त्रसम्पाते धनुरुद्यम्य पाण्डवः ॥ १-२०॥ हृषीकेशं तदा वाक्यमिदमाह महीपते । (17-20) Supreme archer Kāśya, śikhaṇḍī and Dhṛṣṭadyumna, Virāta and unconquered Sātyaki (kāśyaśca parameṣvāsaḥ śikhaṇḍī ca mahārathaḥ । dhṛṣṭadyumno virāṭaśca sātyakiścāparājitaḥ ॥ 1-17॥). Drupada, sons of Draupadī and all lords of the Earth and the mighty armed son of Subhadrā blew their conches one after another (drupado draupadeyāśca sarvaśaḥ pṛthivīpate । saubhadraśca mahābāhuḥ śaṅkhāndadhmuḥ pṛthakpṛthak ॥ 1-18॥). That tumultuous resounding battle sound rent the hearts of Dhṛṭarāṣṭra’s team, from sky to earth (sa ghoṣo dhārtarāṣṭrāṇāṃ hṛdayāni vyadārayat । nabhaśca pṛthivīṃ caiva tumulo’bhyanunādayan ॥ 1-19॥). Now, monkey banner seeing the arrayed Dṛtarāṣṭra’s people about to begin discharge of weapons, son of Pandu, taking up the bow then said this to Hṛṣīkeśa, Lord of the Earth (atha vyavasthitāndṛṣṭvā dhārtarāṣṭrān kapidhvajaḥ । pravṛtte śastrasampāte dhanurudyamya pāṇḍavaḥ ॥ 1-20॥ hṛṣīkeśaṃ tadā vākyamidamāha mahīpate ।). अर्जुन उवाच – सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये रथं स्थापय मेऽच्युत ॥ १-२१॥ यावदेतान्निरीक्षेऽहं योद्धुकामानवस्थितान् । कैर्मया सह योद्धव्यमस्मिन् रणसमुद्यमे ॥ १-२२॥ योत्स्यमानानवेक्षेऽहं य एतेऽत्र समागताः । धार्तराष्ट्रस्य दुर्बुद्धेर्युद्धे प्रियचिकीर्षवः ॥ १-२३॥ Arjuna said (21-23) Place my chariot in the middle of the armies, Acyuta (senayorubhayormadhye rathaṃ sthāpaya me’cyuta ॥ 1-21॥). I wish to see who has assembled here with the intention of fighting, and must be fought by me, in this eve of battle (yāvadetānnirīkṣe’haṃ yoddhukāmānavasthitān । kairmayā saha yoddhavyamasmin raṇasamudyame ॥ 1-22॥). I wish to observe who among those who wish to please the deviant minded sons of Dhṛṭarāṣṭra (yotsyamānānavekṣe’haṃ ya ete’tra samāgatāḥ । dhārtarāṣṭrasya durbuddheryuddhe priyacikīrṣavaḥ ॥ 1-23॥). सञ्जय उवाच – एवमुक्तो हृषीकेशो गुडाकेशेन भारत । सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये स्थापयित्वा रथोत्तमम् ॥ १-२४॥ भीष्मद्रोणप्रमुखतः सर्वेषां च महीक्षिताम् । उवाच पार्थ पश्यैतान्समवेतान्कुरूनिति ॥ १-२५॥ तत्रापश्यत्स्थितान्पार्थः पितॄनथ पितामहान् । आचार्यान्मातुलान्भ्रातॄन्पुत्रान्पौत्रान्सखींस्तथा ॥ १-२६॥ श्वशुरान्सुहृदश्चैव सेनयोरुभयोरपि । तान्समीक्ष्य स कौन्तेयः सर्वान्बन्धूनवस्थितान् ॥ १-२७॥ कृपया परयाविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत् । Sañjaya said (24-27) Having been addressed by Guḍākeśa, Bhārata, Hṛṣīkeśa placed the supreme of chariots between the armies. (evamukto hṛṣīkeśo guḍākeśena bhārata । senayorubhayormadhye sthāpayitvā rathottamam ॥ 1-24॥). In front of Bhīṣma and Droṇa and all other rulers of the earth, Pārtha said, behold the kurus gathered here (bhīṣmadroṇapramukhataḥ sarveṣāṃ ca mahīkṣitām । uvāca pārtha paśyaitānsamavetānkurūniti ॥ 1-25॥). Stationed there, Pārtha saw, fathers, also, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, companions, fathers-in-law, friends and also warriors from both sides (tatrāpaśyatsthitānpārthaḥ pitṝnatha pitāmahān । ācāryānmātulānbhrātṝnputrānpautrānsakhīṃstathā ॥ 1-26॥ śvaśurānsuhṛdaścaiva senayorubhayorapi ।). Having seen all these relatives standing, filled with deep pity and sorrow, Kaunteya said (tānsamīkṣya sa kaunteyaḥ sarvānbandhūnavasthitān ॥ 1-27॥ kṛpayā parayāviṣṭo viṣīdannidamabravīt ।). अर्जुन उवाच – दृष्ट्वेमं स्वजनं कृष्ण युयुत्सुं समुपस्थितम् ॥ १-२८॥ सीदन्ति मम गात्राणि मुखं च परिशुष्यति । वेपथुश्च शरीरे मे रोमहर्षश्च जायते ॥ १-२९॥ गाण्डीवं स्रंसते हस्तात्त्वक्चैव परिदह्यते । न च शक्नोम्यवस्थातुं भ्रमतीव च मे मनः ॥ १-३०॥ Arjuna said (28-30) Seeing my people, arrayed and eager to fight, my limbs fail me, and my mouth is getting parched (dṛṣṭvemaṃ svajanaṃ kṛṣṇa yuyutsuṃ samupasthitam ॥ 1-28॥ sīdanti mama gātrāṇi mukhaṃ ca pariśuṣyati ।). My body is shivering and I am getting goosepimples, the gāṇḍīva is slipping from my hand and my skin is burning (vepathuśca śarīre me romaharṣaśca jāyate ॥ 1-29॥ gāṇḍīvaṃ sraṃsate hastāttvakcaiva paridahyate।). I am unable to stand, it seems that my mind whirls with omens and I see adversity (na ca śaknomyavasthātuṃ bhramatīva ca me manaḥ ॥ 1-30॥ nimittāni ca paśyāmi viparītāni keśava ।). निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानि केशव । न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे ॥ १-३१॥ न काङ्क्षे विजयं कृष्ण न च राज्यं सुखानि च । किं नो राज्येन गोविन्द किं भोगैर्जीवितेन वा ॥ १-३२॥ येषामर्थे काङ्क्षितं नो राज्यं भोगाः सुखानि च । त इमेऽवस्थिता युद्धे प्राणांस्त्यक्त्वा धनानि च ॥ १-३३॥ आचार्याः पितरः पुत्रास्तथैव च पितामहाः । मातुलाः श्वशुराः पौत्राः श्यालाः सम्बन्धिनस्तथा ॥ १-३४॥ (31-34) And no good I see in killing my people in battle, I do not desire victory, and not kingdom and other pleasures (na ca śreyo’nupaśyāmi hatvā svajanamāhave ॥ 1-31॥ na kāṅkṣe vijayaṃ kṛṣṇa na ca rājyaṃ sukhāni ca ।). What will this kingdom give to us? What pleasure will be get in life? (kiṃ no rājyena govinda kiṃ bhogairjīvitena vā ॥ 1-32॥). The reason we desire enjoyment of kingdom pleasures, they stand ready to give life in battle, having abandoned wealth (yeṣāmarthe kāṅkṣitaṃ no rājyaṃ bhogāḥ sukhāni ca । ta ime’vasthitā yuddhe prāṇāṃstyaktvā dhanāni ca ॥ 1-33॥). Teachers, fathers, sons and grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-laws as well as relatives (ācāryāḥ pitaraḥ putrāstathaiva ca pitāmahāḥ । mātulāḥ śvaśurāḥ pautrāḥ śyālāḥ sambandhinastathā ॥ 1-34॥). एतान्न हन्तुमिच्छामि घ्नतोऽपि मधुसूदन । अपि त्रैलोक्यराज्यस्य हेतोः किं नु महीकृते ॥ १-३५॥ निहत्य धार्तराष्ट्रान्नः का प्रीतिः स्याज्जनार्दन । पापमेवाश्रयेदस्मान्हत्वैतानाततायिनः ॥ १-३६॥ तस्मान्नार्हा वयं हन्तुं धार्तराष्ट्रान्स्वबान्धवान् । स्वजनं हि कथं हत्वा सुखिनः स्याम माधव ॥ १-३७॥ (35-37) I do not wish to kill them even if I am killed by them, or for the sake of domination of the three worlds, then why would I do it for earth? (etānna hantumicchāmi ghnato’pi madhusūdana । api trailokyarājyasya hetoḥ kiṃ nu mahīkṛte ॥ 1-35॥). What pleasure will we get by killing the sons of Dhṛṭarāṣṭra, killing these terrorists will only stain us (nihatya dhārtarāṣṭrānnaḥ kā prītiḥ syājjanārdana । pāpamevāśrayedasmānhatvaitānātatāyinaḥ ॥ 1-36॥). So, we are not justified in killing the sons of Dhṛṭarāṣṭra, our relatives and kinsmen, indeed, how can we be happy after killing them (tasmānnārhā vayaṃ hantuṃ dhārtarāṣṭrānsvabāndhavān । svajanaṃ hi kathaṃ hatvā sukhinaḥ syāma mādhava ॥ 1-37॥). यद्यप्येते न पश्यन्ति लोभोपहतचेतसः । कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं मित्रद्रोहे च पातकम् ॥ १-३८॥ कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभिः पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम् । कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन ॥ १-३९॥ कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्माः सनातनाः । धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत ॥ १-४०॥ (38-40) Although these do not see due to intelligence overpowered by greed, the wretchedness wrought by destruction of the clans, and crime brought by hostility to friends (yadyapyete na paśyanti lobhopahatacetasaḥ । kulakṣayakṛtaṃ doṣaṃ mitradrohe ca pātakam ॥ 1-38॥). When I clearly comprehend the wretchedness in the destruction of the clan, why not turn away from this clearly inappropriate act (kathaṃ na jñeyamasmābhiḥ pāpādasmānnivartitum । kulakṣayakṛtaṃ doṣaṃ prapaśyadbhirjanārdana ॥ 1-39॥). When the clan perishes, immemorial clan balances and universal practices are destroyed, the whole clan is overcome by chaos indeed (kulakṣaye praṇaśyanti kuladharmāḥ sanātanāḥ । dharme naṣṭe kulaṃ kṛtsnamadharmo’bhibhavatyuta ॥ 1-40॥). अधर्माभिभवात्कृष्ण प्रदुष्यन्ति कुलस्त्रियः । स्त्रीषु दुष्टासु वार्ष्णेय जायते वर्णसङ्करः ॥ १-४१॥ सङ्करो नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च । पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः ॥ १-४२॥ दोषैरेतैः कुलघ्नानां वर्णसङ्करकारकैः । उत्साद्यन्ते जातिधर्माः कुलधर्माश्च शाश्वताः ॥ १-४३॥ (41-43) With the onset of chaos, clan women get corrupted, from women becoming corrupted, mixing of colours occurs (adharmābhibhavātkṛṣṇa praduṣyanti kulastriyaḥ । strīṣu duṣṭāsu vārṣṇeya jāyate varṇasaṅkaraḥ ॥ 1-41॥). Confusion resembling hell exists for killers of the clan from the clan because the forefathers are denied their offering of rice and water (saṅkaro narakāyaiva kulaghnānāṃ kulasya ca । patanti pitaro hyeṣāṃ luptapiṇḍodakakriyāḥ ॥ 1-42॥). Staining by destroyers of the clans causes intermingling of various people, eternal community practices are destroyed as are clan rituals and practices (doṣairetaiḥ kulaghnānāṃ varṇasaṅkarakārakaiḥ । utsādyante jātidharmāḥ kuladharmāśca śāśvatāḥ ॥ 1-43॥). उत्सन्नकुलधर्माणां मनुष्याणां जनार्दन । नरके नियतं वासो भवतीत्यनुशुश्रुम ॥ १-४४॥ अहो बत महत्पापं कर्तुं व्यवसिता वयम् । यद्राज्यसुखलोभेन हन्तुं स्वजनमुद्यताः ॥ १-४५॥ यदि मामप्रतीकारमशस्त्रं शस्त्रपाणयः । धार्तराष्ट्रा रणे हन्युस्तन्मे क्षेमतरं भवेत् ॥ १-४६॥ (44-46) Those men, whose clan practices are destroyed, we have heard that they stay in hell for an indefinite period (utsannakuladharmāṇāṃ manuṣyāṇāṃ janārdana । narake niyataṃ vāso bhavatītyanuśuśruma ॥ 1-44॥). Alas, we are prepared to do great wretchedness and kill our kinsmen for the pleasure of kingdom (aho bata mahatpāpaṃ kartuṃ vyavasitā vayam । yadrājyasukhalobhena hantuṃ svajanamudyatāḥ ॥ 1-45॥). If the sons of Dhṛṭarāṣṭra were to kill me unresisting and unarmed, with their weapons in hand in the battlefield, that would be better (yadi māmapratīkāramaśastraṃ śastrapāṇayaḥ । dhārtarāṣṭrā raṇe hanyustanme kṣemataraṃ bhavet ॥ 1-46॥). सञ्जय उवाच । एवमुक्त्वार्जुनः सङ्ख्ये रथोपस्थ उपाविशत् । विसृज्य सशरं चापं शोकसंविग्नमानसः ॥ १-४७॥ Sañjaya said (47) Thus having spoken, Arjuna in the battlefield, in the chariot, sat down with a distressed mind after throwing away the arrow and bow (evamuktvārjunaḥ saṅkhye rathopastha upāviśat । visṛjya saśaraṃ cāpaṃ śokasaṃvignamānasaḥ ॥ 1-47॥).  [...] Read more...
Prāṇa and Situational Awareness
Prāṇa and Situational AwarenessSchool of Yoga explains situational awareness (prajñā) and prāṇa – In any transaction, a medium is required in which the transaction occurs. For example, electricity needs a conductor. In the case of life, it is prāṇa or motility, a subtle energy which flows wherever identities exist. Whenever the expression of identity occurs, it happens on the foundation of prāṇa. In Yoga, “prāṇa” is also known as “motility or life force”. However, prāṇa is part of a larger system which is both, subtle and experiential. Therefore, this makes a description as well as experience of prāṇa and its subtleties very esoteric and challenging. School of Yoga explains the prāṇa or prāṇic system The prāṇic system is a set of interlocking concepts which are based on intuitive experience (anubhava). However, experience of one person would be different from another so, while the general application of the concept would be common to everyone, individual paths would depend on one’s conditioning or dharma as well as evolution in Yoga. Additionally, all matter can be classified into gross or cognisable to the senses (sthūla) and that which is subtle or can be perceived only by experience or intuition (sūkṣma). Finally, the interlinking concepts which need to be understood for development in the field of yoga are; a- Pañca-vāyu – five airs b- Pañca-kośa – five sheaths c- Nadis – energy channels d- Cakras – vortices. The details of the above concepts are explained in the asana section – click here School of Yoga explains situational awareness, cakras and prāṇa In a situation of calmness or homeostasis, energy prāṇa flows unimpeded through the body and does not get congested or deplete. This ensures healthy functioning of the system. However, in a stress situation, the flow becomes agitated. Depending on perception of threat, one or more energy centers (cakras) become congested or depleted. This destabilises the prāṇa flow, thereby affecting related vāyu (vital airs) and consequently related organs. Hence, when the flow is depleted or congested, it should be brought back to a state of equilibrium or homeostasis as soon as possible. School of Yoga explains prāṇa centers and motivation:  It is possible to correlate the functioning of the energy centers with the psychological state as propounded by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “Theory of Motivation” with our energy centers. This correlation comes of use when we try to find solutions to stress. It is known in Yoga and other forms of Oriental healing that rate of energy flow through these centers affects the behaviour of the person. As a matter of fact, ancient Oriental texts on this subject from India, China, Korea, and Japan speak of many energy wheels, but all agree that there are six major wheel locations in the human body which control all major organs. School of Yoga explains base centre (mūl̄adhāra): (mūl̄ = base + ādhāra = foundation or source) The first energy vortice aligns itself with the perineum, a flat region above the coccyx and between the anus and genitals. This centre affects the physiological aspects of the individual- the overall energy levels, feeling of safety and health. Example: People in difficult situations squirm in their seats. When fears for personal safety, there is acute discomfort at the region of the anus. There is an urge to shift in the seat. The rocking action energises the mūl̄adhāra-chakra. School of Yoga explains self-evolution centre (svādhiṣṭhāna): (sva = self + adhiṣṭhāna = evolved place). This energy vortice corresponds to the sacral region around the genital area. It affects sexuality, social and communications skills of the individual. Control of this centre results in strong nerves and emotional stability. Example: After a heated argument, there is often an ache in the lower back. This occurs as a result of our need to be able to convince the other person to accept our point of view and the need to communicate effectively. This strains the lumbar arch and results in stress. School of Yoga explains stomach centre (maṇipūra): (maṇipūra = navel).  This energy vortice, is placed around the navel and corresponds to the lumbar area of the spine. This is a centre that controls situational and management skills. Example: Often, we hear about taking a decision from the gut, the gut feel! How is that possible? After all, it is the brain that decides. Or is it? The stomach does have a role, for the maṇipūra with its acids & bile does signal comfort in a social environment. School of Yoga explains heart centre (anāhata): (ana = not + āhata = touched/ material)  Placed at the centre of the chest, this centre responds to the thoracic region on the spine. This is the centre of emotional energy. A clean center is essential for emotional stability. Example: Blood pressure is directly related to anger and speech. Generally, doctors advise a person to reduce speaking after a heart attack. Why? Because a person gets excited, the release of adrenaline has a direct impact on the heart & lungs. School of Yoga explains throat centre (viśuddhi): (viśuddh = extraordinarily pure) This energy vortice is placed around the Adam’s apple and corresponds to the cervical region in the spine. The thyroid, parathyroid and lymphatic systems, which control metabolic activity reside here. Since metabolism is the ability of the body to convert food into usable energy and rebuilding of tissue, seamless energy flow here is critical. This is also the area which controls breathing and food intake, so any disruption in our stress levels will immediately impact the quality of our breathing and digestion. Example: When we are afraid, we often feel choked! Why? Because the prāṇa flow at the viśuddhi is disrupted. The chocking action impacts the thyroid & parathyroid. Consequently, disruption of this centre can lead to various illnesses. School of Yoga explains forehead centre (ājña): (ājña = that which commands) This energy vortice is placed between the eyebrows in the front of the cranium. It controls the functioning of the other energy vortices. It energizes the amygdala, pituitary and endocrine glands. Consequently, this energy vortice is the primary input point for “fight or flight” stimulus. Points to ponder on prāṇa: When asanas are practiced, the energy sheaths and vortices begin to get streamlined. Consequently, this allows rejuvenation of the organs, clarity of thought, emotional and spiritual strength. Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness. Karma,  External Links: Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Kosha, Nadi. Have you experienced changes to your physiology in times of stress? When you are driving any vehicle and wish to cut across traffic, where is the stress felt most on your body? (It should be along the lower back). How do you become aware of the stress and the coping action? Where is the stress and awareness felt when one has a cold? [...] Read more...
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 2 (sāṃkhya-yoga)
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 2 (sāṃkhya-yoga)Acknowledgement. School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control. School of Yoga introduces Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 2 – sāṃkhya-yoga (yoga of the concept). What is yoga? Yoga is a Saṃskṛta cognate of the English “yoke”. While generically, it means yoking between any two entities, here it means yoking of a person’s awareness of the Self to Brahman. What is sāṃkhya? Sāṃkhya is any philosophical system. In this chapter, Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains the philosophy that defines existence and yoga.  As we have seen in chapter 1, Arjuna experiences deep conflict at the futility of war, horror at the prospect of fighting his own kinsmen and he refuses to fight. His situational awareness (prajñā) in that moment is one of turmoil, distress and melancholy. This reaction is similar to what we experience when confronted with dissonance in relationships or difficult situations! Initially, in the heat of the moment, we may wish to confront and fight but when we review the possible consequences, our desire for conflict dissipates. Consequently, we try to disengage from confrontation, sometimes even at the cost of hurting ourselves or sacrificing our values and principles. In this chapter, Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains the philosophy of life, starting with the origin of our existence and place in it. Then he goes on to fleshing out the meaning of action and why performance of duty is the only solution to any problem. Finally, he details the attributes of one who has optimum situational awareness. Śrī Kṛṣṇa starts his discourse to Arjuna by laying out the first principles of life and living called sāṃkhya-yoga. First, he explains the nature of the Brahman and the difference between permanence and impermanence, Next, he explains life, material relationships, concept of duty and svatantra (sva = self + tantra = weave of one’s sense of Identity with one’s actions, effectively meaning individuality).  Additionally, Śrī Kṛṣṇa emphasises that while each of us may have a different way of solving any problem, some aspects must not be compromised.  Be true to your responsibility and try to avoid confrontation when finding a solution. However, if nothing works, fight! Obviously, fight means different things; while in the case of a soldier it means a physical struggle, in the case of a teacher it could be standing up for students or the way teaching must be done and in the case of a lawyer this may be strategy for arguing a case. You may not win but you must fight as well as you can and accept ensuing results with equanimity. Not fighting is not an option. Also, loss of integrity when finding a solution is not an acceptable option. Finally, once the activity is started, one must avoid judgemental and sentimental positioning as well as duality of like-dislike, attraction-repulsion, good-bad etc. and effort must be steadfast towards reaching the goal. Conclusion: This chapter is about change management. Change occurs continuously and everyone gets affected by it. However, a yogī must slowly learn to move away from duality such as like/ dislike or attraction/ repelling, to one of dispassion (vairāgya) and discrimination (viveka). When this state is realised, the person is able to step back from his or her surroundings and view the environment with increased clarity. This results in decision making that is closer to reality of the situation. Also, the person develops an awareness that transcends physical inability, fear of outcome, emotional swings or intellectual manipulation.  School of Yoga comments on Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 2, sāṃkhya-yoga (verse 1-11). Śrī Kṛṣṇa, smilingly exhorted Arjuna not to think like a loser. Arjuna, besieged by sorrow and horror of the consequences of his proposed actions was overwhelmed by self-pity and begged Śrī Kṛṣṇa to advise him on what he should do.  The key lesson Śrī Kṛṣṇa delivers in this chapter is on impermanence and sentimentality. He says that the body is an impermanent, it passes through childhood, youth, old age and entry into another body upon death. So, one should be self-possessed and not get sentimental about situations or their perceived outcomes. Instead, one must focus on completing his or her duty with integrity. School of Yoga comments on Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 2, sāṃkhya-yoga (verse 12-25). Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains qualities of the Brahman. Whenever we experience anything, it is māyā and not Brahman. Conversely, when we merge with the Brahman, there is no experience of materiality or māyā. Brahman pervades everything and cannot be destroyed. It is unmanifested, unthinking and unchangeable. It does not slay and cannot be slain, also it is unmanifested in the beginning in all beings (unborn state), it manifests in the middle (living beings) and is unmanifested again in the end (in a state of death). Also, it cannot be cut or separated from anything, it does not burn, get wet or become dry (it has no material qualities and is indestructible).  It is not born and does not die when the body departs. This dweller in the body is eternally indestructible in all creatures (it does not change). Finally, it is constant, everywhere, stable, immovable and universal. Conclusion: Brahman is a state of infinite, imperishable (cannot die) and immutable (cannot change) state of peace.  Importantly, Brahman is the underwriter of all creation. It is the source and motility of all mass, energy, identity and intelligence, supporting the functioning of everything. Brahman does not become involved in creation also does not acquire the property of anything that it supports. So, what might a state that conforms to the above conditions be? If we were to reflect a little, then the only state that can conform to all the above conditions is either the state of “null” or “infinity”, “null” being a state of nothing and “infinity” being a state beyond nothing. Can we visualise the above state? Let us review where do our ideas, imagination and creativity come from. We will quickly realise that most ideas come when we are quiet, in a state of null or peace. Then, there is an internal vibration (spandana), followed by a eureka sensation after which the idea is born.  In yoga, awareness of this state is called jñāna or direct experience of Brahman within the person and this experience is called nirvikalpa-samādhi (uninterrupted and unchanging state of peace). School of Yoga comments on Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 2, sāṃkhya-yoga (verse 26-28). Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains permanence and impermanence. What is the difference between Brahman (permanence) and māyā (impermanence)? To answer the difference between permanence and impermanent, we need to look at change. We know that the only thing constant about change is change itself. So, change is the source as well as the nature of impermanence. Next, we know that change is personal and each of us experiences change differently. Also, it is very difficult for anyone to articulate any experience completely for two reasons – first, one does not always decode all aspects of any experience and second, it is not always possible to articulate the experience due to shortcomings of communication. Generally, all of us assume that insentient entities have no experiences because we don’t see any evidence. However, there is no concrete evidence that they are unable to undergo experiences.  We know that people get attached to their personal possessions such as cars, homes, clothes, ornaments, furniture such as couches and even utensils such as mugs, some more than others. How would this differential attachment be possible if the other entity did not have an identity or soul that allowed it to radiate some kind of personality? If that is acceptable, then just as humans experience grief when parting with a possession, might not insentient entities experience grief also?  Psychologists are able to decode sentient experiences only in a generic manner unless they get specific data inputs from their patients. When trained professional have difficulty in accurately decoding experiences, it is logical to assume that understanding insentient entities, who have no capability to communicate would be more difficult. All prayers are the same, there is no evidence that one type of prayer is superior to another. The quality of outcome of any prayer depends on the prayer. So, whether one prays to an Idol, Cross or Kaaba, the results would entirely depend on the person praying. But, have we ever reflected, what happens to the above religious entities to whom millions of people pray? What might happen their experience be? Hence, we can conclude that both sentient and insentient entities experience but in the case of insentient entities, experientiality (ability to express experience in a manner that can be understood) is more suppressed and diffused, consequently difficult for sentient entities to experience or understand.  In contrast, sentient entities starkly experience duality such as heat-cold, pleasure-pain because they have a sensory system that allows them to relate to their environment. We can also conclude that sentient and insentient entities or souls will experience change differently. This is on account of conditioning (dharma) and current state awareness (prajñā). However, all experiences, due to the very nature of change, have a beginning and an end, which makes them transient, or impermanent. This is māyā (illusion or farce). By understanding the nature of impermanence one can transcend it (māyā) and merge with the state of permanence/ Truth or Brahman. This results in liberation from rebirth (mokṣa). So, we can conclude that everything which we perceive in the world around us is impermanent because of three reasons: First, it has a beginning and an end. Second, it is perceived by the senses which give different measurements for different sentient and insentient beings at different times and in different states of awareness. Change occurs continuously. Since by its nature, no stimulus-response cycle is predictable, change itself is not predictable or permanent. This results in randomness and instability being intrinsic to all transaction and this is also called entropy in thermodynamics. School of Yoga explains karma and conditions of rebirth. Let’s start from first principles. Brahman is the foundation of all existence. It is indestructible, unborn, infinite, exists everywhere, and is the motility of all change. What is the driving principle of change? In any situation, when we receive stimulus, we either react or not-react. So, change occurs as an outcome of stimulus and response. When there is a stimulus, there is a response which causes change. Importantly, even lack of response is a response. All change is actually thermodynamic because, no matter what the response to stimulus, there is change in internal material and energy configuration of both, the instigator and responder. This known as enthalpy or the total energy content of any system. Whether we react or not react our internal configuration or energy content changes. When we absorb change/ energy or do not react, it is an endothermic reaction or there is an increase in internal energy because our internal processing pressures increase. Similarly, when we react to change, we give out energy to the environment, it is an exothermic reaction and there is a drop in our internal energy. But, there is change in some form. Karma is the input factor for change. When we react to any stimulus, we enter into a transaction with the object and create a bond (bandhana). We either like or dislike the stimulus and as a result of this, we either push the object away (dveṣa) or pull it closer (rāga). This action of pulling or pushing causes relative displacement between both entities and is called karma (action). As a result of the transaction, we either give or take with each other. This transaction is always unequal because the awareness levels of the participants always differ. As a result, one always gives or takes more than the other. Consequently, one party ends up being the debtor and the other the creditor. This is called debt (ṛṇa). We know that all debts have to be repaid. In the case of karma, this spill-over goes beyond life, to more lives resulting in the concept of rebirth (saṃsāra). Example. Have you noticed that our ability to change varies with the situation? We change according to our likes and dislikes. Often, we change positions during a discussion when we encounter fresh data. Similarly, our likes and dislikes, such as tastes and people change slowly, Finally, our character and value system (dharma), which have been moulded since our childhood are slowest to change, but do undergo change over time. School of Yoga concludes permanence and impermanence. We can see that the permanent cognitive state of Brahman is the only place where there is no change, it is also known as Truth or as a thermodynamically ideal state. Everything else is impermanent. Impermanence in sentient entities is everything that is touched by the senses. This means that in order to understand what is permanent, one needs to transcend (go beyond) the senses. Finally, it can be seen that the continuous and ephemeral nature of change is dependent on cognition of stimuli (manas) by the senses (indriyāṇi) and it’s processing by the intellect (buddhi) in addition to the senses (indriya). This processing of information is done by each of us on a framework that is different between each of us because each person’s conditioning is different. This conditioning is called dharma (natural state), ephemeral as well as unique to each of us. This unique and individual nature of how stimuli is received, processed and reacted to, makes current state temporary or impermanent.  School of Yoga comments on Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, Chapter 2, sāṃkhya-yoga (verse 26-53). Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains attitude to work, dharma and duty. In the above example, we said that karma (action) occurs when we like something and we pull it closer or when we dislike something and push it away. What is the basis on which we like or dislike something? That is called dharma or our natural state. Dharma is a mix of birth and conditioning. Birth defines DNA in sentient entities and conditioning defines values and behaviour which we exhibit in any situation. Dharma defines our likes and dislikes, hence the instinctive/ primary response to any situation. Thus, it is the foundation of response which results in action (karma) and the resultant debt (ṛṇa). Also, dharma defines the natural state of all creation. For example, we all know how humans, dogs, cats and other sentient beings act and react in their individual unique ways. Mango trees will yield mango fruit, never papaya. Hydrogen atoms will have an atomic weight of 1.008 and an atomic number of 1, this is its dharma and defines how hydrogen will behave in any bond. In thermodynamics, dharma is the internal energy of a system, internal energy being the sum of kinetic and potential energy in any system. This will be different for each entity because individual composition is different between entities. Concept of duty and dharma. We are born with a unique DNA and grow up in our own specific environment, this moulds our values and behaviour, which define our experiences. These experiences become predominant drivers of our self-esteem or state of being and in turn reorient our value system. Consequently, we are at peace when our experiences are within these parameters of DNA and conditioning, natural state or thermodynamic entropy. This state of equilibrium is our natural state or dharma. This natural state can be extended to cover sentient, insentient states as well as professions, businesses, systems and activities which makes this universal or sanātana-dharma.  Let us review how dharma intricately weaves work with personality, duty, system and environment; A soldier needs to be able to maintain his awareness in battle, his dharma or duty is to fight and defend. If he runs away from the battlefield, then he compromises the integrity of whatever he protects and loses his dharma or state of equilibrium. To perform his dharma, he has to overcome fear of death. Similarly, a teacher’s dharma or duty is to teach and develop students into responsible citizens, if he or she were to be afraid of the opinion of others, then he would never be able to teach effectively and build good citizens.  Next, the dharma or duty of a business man is to increase material value without lowering integrity. When integrity is lost or when the businessman is afraid of risk, dharma is lost. Finally, the dharma of a farmer is to grow food, he must not stop sowing because he is worried that there may be no rains. That fear would result in famine and destruction of society. Conclusion: Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s advice of dharma and duty applies to every person, activity or section of society. Consequently, when people do not perform their designated duties, shirk performing them, or perform them without integrity, society suffers and chaos (adharma) results. Example. Ramaśāstrī Prabhune was a mukhya-nyāyādhiṣa (Chief Judge) of the Indian kingdom of Marathas. In 1772, the ruling Peshwa Narayan Rao was murdered by his own paternal uncle Raghunath Rao and his wife Anandibai who then became the Peshwa or ruler. When the case came up for hearing, Ramaśāstrī declared the sitting Peshwa guilty and sentenced him to death in his own court. As a result, Ramaśāstrī faced definite threat to his life and left Pune to go into exile. How was Ramaśāstrī able to confront the ruler, pronounce him guilty of regicide and hand him a sentence of death in his own court? What does this tell you about Ramaśāstrī? What fear would Ramaśāstrī have had to overcome when he pronounced this judgement? Have you ever experienced a similar situation and response? School of Yoga comments on Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 2 (sāṃkhya-yoga). Difference between rights and duties. Your right is to effort alone, not its outcome. Attachment to reward should not be your motivator for action. Also, fear of consequences or attachment to outcome should not stop you from making this effort. Perform action, abandon attachment to the action and also the outcome or rewards, be balanced in both success and failure. This even handedness of the Self and indifference in action is yoga. So, how do Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s words translate in today’s world? Every right comes with a responsibility and without an effective execution of responsibility, the right can never be enjoyed. For example, to be a citizen or a member of a community is a right, but that right comes with a responsibility of behaviour. Without responsible behaviour, the values of the community cannot be realised. As a result, rights conferred by the community or country are undermined, so these rights cannot be enjoyed by all members of the community or citizens of the country.  Once you accept a responsibility in a team, you must ensure that you are loyal to the team and ensure team success. When performing a task, you must take it to the end and do it to the best of your ability. Do not perform action for the reward. You will get rewards, often it may not be commensurate with your perception of worth. Keep your equilibrium, unless you perceive injustice. However, if you perceive injustice, then it is your duty to petition and seek redressal. As a citizen, you must support your country, civilisation and culture by understanding and following it. Otherwise, there will be chaos (adharma)! Paying taxes is not an option, it is a responsibility. For any member of society, keeping it clean, following the rules and being a good neighbour is not an option, it is a duty! Sure, it is not necessary that you agree with many things around you, it is your duty to try and correct them. You cannot subvert or bypass a rule just because you don’t agree with it. That would lead to adharma or chaos! School of Yoga explains the concept of guṇa (attributes). Our ability to act comes from our situational awareness (prajñā). When our awareness is beset by inertia, doubt, fear or self-pity it is called tamas. Next, when our awareness is driven by anger, greed or ambition, this is called rajas, a state of energy. Finally, when there is a balance and state of balance or harmony, this is called sattva. These three attributes or guṇa (attributes of cognition) are always together, never static and continuously changing in proportion; Tamas (obdurate/ delusion) – our actions are driven by lack of logic, understanding, in delusion or sometimes we refuse to act on account of laziness and fear.  Rajas (passion) – our actions are driven by ambition, greed, anger, targets/ goals, power, arrogance, vanity etc. Sattva (balance) – our actions are driven by integrity, need for balance, harmony, consensus etc. Example of guṇa.  A person is using an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) for the first time. The bank has issued an ATM card to the person but the person has never used an ATM. Imagine the person’s state when for the first time he/she has to work with the ATM. Firstly, there is confusion – “How am I going to do this?” or anxiety/ fear “What will happen if…?” This is tamas. Secondly, comes anger or irritation – “This is ridiculous! How do they expect me to operate this machine without training?” This is rajas. Then, there is effort… “Let’s see what we can do”. Finally, there is acceptance and ownership. Here, the person hacks around and finds a solution, either by doing it himself or by asking someone. This is sattva. Consequently, the achievement of having found a solution brings an awareness of the system in the person. This is vijñāna. This results in increased confidence in the Self, an increase in asmitā (I am this) which is called jñāna. The above example can cover all situations and experiences, first we are confused, then we put in effort to understand and finally achieve a balance. These three attributes are called guṇa and are continuously vying for ascendency with each other. School of Yoga comments on Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 2, sāṃkhya-yoga (verse 64-72). Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains sthitaprajña. What are the qualities of one who has reached sthitaprajña – (sthita = stable, heightened or resolute + prajñā = awareness of the Self or situational awareness)? First, such a person is able to cast off all desires, even those in the form of ideas and become completely secure and satisfied in Brahman, by Brahman alone. Second, such a person acts without bias and is not afraid of any outcome. This person is indifferent and without agitation in pain as well as pleasure. There is complete absence of longing for anything. Third, this person is unattached and without affection everywhere. There are no swings in reaction, such as like-dislike, attraction-rejection. This allows the person to control cognition (manas) from being hijacked by turbulent senses. Fourth, this person is able to withdraw his senses from all objects and keep his or her awareness steady. How does a person become a sthitaprajña? Let us look at the nature of response to any stimulus. First, by thinking of objects, an attachment is developed towards them. Next, from attachment comes desire for ownership and control. Following desire comes anger and frustration when things don’t go right. Frustration and anger clouds reason, resulting in delusion. Delusion causes turbulence in the cognition (manas) which in turn results in clouding of data, information and memory. Lastly, from confusion of memory comes loss of order/ harmony as well as conditioning (dharma), and reason (buddhi).  From loss of balance, harmony and reason comes incorrect action which leads to disappointment and destruction. What is the solution? Stimuli create turbulence, owing to conflicting options brought about by conditioning (dharma). So, when a person is aware of the decision process, control over attachment (rāga) and repulsion (dveṣa) are achieved by controlling the reaction of cognition towards objects. This is achieved when a person is undisturbed by change, neither seeking nor rejecting it, free from attachment, fear or anxiety A person who reaches the state of sthitaprajña casts off all physical, intellectual and emotional attachments and becomes completely secure within himself. Such as person abandons desire and moves about free from longing, without ownership, without the sense of doer-ship and attains peace. The outcome reduction in overall misery results in the appearance of a tranquil consciousness because the intellect (buddhi) becomes steady. This is the brāhmika state. Conversely, fickle people have no intellect or steady vision (bhāvanā) and no peace exists in those with no awareness (abhāvayat), hence these people find no peace? Importantly, this state of Brahman is not achieved by anyone who is fascinated by this achievement as an intellectual exercise, but by effort. However, once anyone achieves this state and gets transfixed there merges with Brahman. The concept. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is asking everyone to remain in the present, that’s all! In the present, there is no past or future and all the senses as well as allied apparatus are controlled. If there is no past, there can also be no memory, this means that all memory is erased. If there is to be no future, there can be no planning or anxiety of outcome. But, remaining in the present is not easy, it requires an awareness of the situation as it unfolds and develops.  Additionally, this awareness covers all physical, emotional and intellectual experiences. Therein lies the subtlety as well as complexity of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s advise. Examples. Time – We are all born equal, all of us have 24 hours in a day. When we are in a happy situation (like party, movie or with friends), time seems to go faster. But, when we are waiting for a flight, exam results or relief from a headache after taking medication, time seems to move slowly. How is this possible? What has changed is our attachment to the outcome or like/ dislike of the subject or any other reasons associated with our self-esteem (asmitā). Bias – Often, when we listen to people we like, we agree to do what they ask. However, when we don’t like the person, we get filled with resistance and experience resentment, even if the advice is for our own wellbeing. Why?  Fear – When we have missed our targets at work, lost marks in exams or missed a flight, we experience a fear which stops us from thinking about solutions to the problem. Often, our fear triggers anxieties and extreme reactions and this makes it difficult for our friends, companions, colleagues and family members to work with us.  The above examples are some of the many ways in which we lose our ability to remain in the present due to our conditioning (dharma).  Do not mistake intellectual, emotional intelligence or physical awareness as situational awareness. Situational awareness is a cognitive, visceral and experiential awareness of the present where we participate without becoming attached. In this part of the chapter, śrī Kṛṣṇa is trying to define the character and behaviour of a role model having ideal situational awareness. It’s not easy, but can be achieved with constant practice.  School of Yoga posits some contradictions to accepted positions.  Throughout Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, the position of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is very confusing. In chapter 13, Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself acknowledges that his human manifestation confuses everyone. In chapter 8, he states that he is primordial sacrifice (ādiyajña) and in chapter 17, he describes his residence as Brahman. This does not mean that he is Brahman, because Brahman is a cognitive state of null, merely that he resides there, or more precisely he has merged with Brahman. So, Śrī Kṛṣṇa cannot assumed to be Brahman but one who is permanently cognising this state.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa is referred to bhagavān when he answers Arjuna. Popularly, bhagavān has been loosely translated as God or Lord. However, bhagavān is derived from bhagavat, which means glorious, venerable etc. Also, there is no evidence of the existence of God nor are there any description of the qualities of God anywhere in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā. Brahman is not God; Brahman is a cognitive state of null. Also, nowhere in the Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā is there any evidence bhagavān being Brahman. Throughout, Brahman is referred to as Bahman itself or tat (that). Additionally, the qualities of Brahman are well laid out and are not correlatable to the accepted definitions of God. While merger with Śrī Kṛṣṇa will result in merger with Brahman, this is not an exclusive condition. Complete surrender of the Self to ANY entity will lead to a merger with Brahman. In fact, Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself says that even offering sacrifice as a sacrifice will result in merger with Brahman. So, merger is a result of the individual’s effort and is not related to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s capabilities. Also, daiva is not bhagavān, daiva is a deity who has specific roles and responsibilities in material existence. Neither is īśvara. In fact, the position of īśvara is subordinate to the position of Śrī Kṛṣṇa (ādiyajña). So, what is bhagavān? One is forced to conclude that bhagavān is what the definition says, an enlightened one. Consequently, any depiction of bhagavān as God / Lord is unsustainable. Since, there are no alternate explanations, no concrete evidence of God or translation of bhagavān, a more sustainable position would be to retain Śrī Kṛṣṇa as an enlightened teacher of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā and the embodiment of the cognitive state of ādiyajña (primordial sacrifice). School of Yoga explains the lesson learned in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā. There are two primary cognitive states, permanent and impermanent. Permanent is Brahman which is the foundation and motility of everything. Impermanent is everything else, known as māyā (illusion) or materiality (anything that can be cognised by the senses). The only way to manage change is by discriminating permanent from impermanent in any situation (viveka) and acting with dispassion (vairāgya). Managing change requires that one’s situational awareness be in the moment and a person who develops and remains steadfast in it is called sthitaprajña. The transliteration and translation of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 2 follows. Note – The Saṃskṛta diacritic words are in red italics.. सञ्जय उवाच – तं तथा कृपयाविष्टमश्रुपूर्णाकुलेक्षणम् । विषीदन्तमिदं वाक्यमुवाच मधुसूदनः ॥ २-१॥ Sañjaya said (1) Madhusūdana said this to him, who was overcome with pity, despondent and whose eyes were filled with tears (taṃ tathā kṛpayāviṣṭamaśrupūrṇākulekṣaṇam । viṣīdantamidaṃ vākyamuvāca madhusūdanaḥ ॥ 2-1॥) श्रीभगवानुवाच – कुतस्त्वा कश्मलमिदं विषमे समुपस्थितम् । अनार्यजुष्टमस्वर्ग्यमकीर्तिकरमर्जुन ॥ २-२॥ क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते । क्षुद्रं हृदयदौर्बल्यं त्यक्त्वोत्तिष्ठ परन्तप ॥ २-३॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (2-3) How did this dejection which brings you to this perilous state that makes you un-aryan like, unfit for heaven and disgraceful (kutastvā kaśmalamidaṃ viṣame samupasthitam । anāryajuṣṭamasvargyamakīrtikaramarjuna ॥ 2-2॥). Do not become impotent, it is not fitting in you, discard weakness of the heart, stand up and fight (klaibyaṃ mā sma gamaḥ pārtha naitattvayyupapadyate । kṣudraṃ hṛdayadaurbalyaṃ tyaktvottiṣṭha parantapa ॥ 2-3॥). अर्जुन उवाच । कथं भीष्ममहं सङ्ख्ये द्रोणं च मधुसूदन । इषुभिः प्रतियोत्स्यामि पूजार्हावरिसूदन ॥ २-४॥ गुरूनहत्वा हि महानुभावान्         श्रेयो भोक्तुं भैक्ष्यमपीह लोके । हत्वार्थकामांस्तु गुरूनिहैव         भुञ्जीय भोगान् रुधिरप्रदिग्धान् ॥ २-५॥ न चैतद्विद्मः कतरन्नो गरीयो         यद्वा जयेम यदि वा नो जयेयुः । यानेव हत्वा न जिजीविषाम-         स्तेऽवस्थिताः प्रमुखे धार्तराष्ट्राः ॥ २-६॥ Arjuna said (4-6) How can I do battle with arrows at Bhīṣma and Droṇa, they that are fit to be worshipped (kathaṃ bhīṣmamahaṃ saṅkhye droṇaṃ ca madhusūdana । iṣubhiḥ pratiyotsyāmi pūjārhāvarisūdana ॥ 2-4॥). Instead of slaying these greatly experienced gurus, it is better to eat alms. Indeed, how can I enjoy wealth and desires in this world when I am stained with their blood (gurūnahatvā hi mahānubhāvān śreyo bhoktuṃ bhaikṣyamapīha loke । hatvārthakāmāṃstu gurūnihaiva bhuñjīya bhogān rudhirapradigdhān ॥ 2-5॥). I am unable to know which is better, whether we conquer them or they conquer us, whether we would wish to live after slaying the sons of Dhṛtaraṣṭra (na caitadvidmaḥ kataranno garīyo  yadvā jayema yadi vā no jayeyuḥ । yāneva hatvā na jijīviṣāma- ste’vasthitāḥ pramukhe dhārtarāṣṭrāḥ ॥ 2-6॥). कार्पण्यदोषोपहतस्वभावः         पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसम्मूढचेताः । यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्चितं ब्रूहि तन्मे         शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम् ॥ २-७॥ न हि प्रपश्यामि ममापनुद्याद्         यच्छोकमुच्छोषणमिन्द्रियाणाम् । अवाप्य भूमावसपत्नमृद्धं         राज्यं सुराणामपि चाधिपत्यम् ॥ २-८॥ (7-8) With natural instinct overcome by pity I as you about dharma with a confused mind, what is good for me. As your pupil I take refuge in you, teach me (kārpaṇyadoṣopahatasvabhāvaḥ  pṛcchāmi tvāṃ dharmasammūḍhacetāḥ । yacchreyaḥ syānniścitaṃ brūhi tanme  śiṣyaste’haṃ śādhi māṃ tvāṃ prapannam ॥ 2-7॥). Nothing I see is able to remove my grief, my senses are clogged up, even obtaining unrivalled prosperity on Earth or even dominion over the deities (na hi prapaśyāmi mamāpanudyād  yacchokamucchoṣaṇamindriyāṇām । avāpya bhūmāvasapatnamṛddhaṃ  rājyaṃ surāṇāmapi cādhipatyam ॥ 2-8॥). सञ्जय उवाच । एवमुक्त्वा हृषीकेशं गुडाकेशः परन्तप । न योत्स्य इति गोविन्दमुक्त्वा तूष्णीं बभूव ह ॥ २-९॥ तमुवाच हृषीकेशः प्रहसन्निव भारत । सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये विषीदन्तमिदं वचः ॥ २-१०॥ Sañjaya spoke (9-10) Having thus spoken to Hṛṣīkeśa, Guḍākeśa, the destroyer of foes said I will not fight to Govinda and became silent (evamuktvā hṛṣīkeśaṃ guḍākeśaḥ parantapa । na yotsya iti govindamuktvā tūṣṇīṃ babhūva ha ॥ 2-9॥). Hṛṣīkeśa smilingly said this to Bhārata who was despondent in the middle of the two armies (tamuvāca hṛṣīkeśaḥ prahasanniva bhārata । senayorubhayormadhye viṣīdantamidaṃ vacaḥ ॥ 2-10॥). श्रीभगवानुवाच । अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे । गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः ॥ २-११॥ न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः । न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ॥ २-१२॥ देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा । तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति ॥ २-१३॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (11-13) You grieve for those that should not be grieved, the wise do not grieve for the dead and living (aśocyānanvaśocastvaṃ prajñāvādāṃśca bhāṣase । gatāsūnagatāsūṃśca nānuśocanti paṇḍitāḥ ॥ 2-11॥). Not I or even you nor any of the rulers of men also existed at any time, nor shall anyone in the future (na tvevāhaṃ jātu nāsaṃ na tvaṃ neme janādhipāḥ । na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ sarve vayamataḥ param ॥ 2-12॥). The embodied in this body passes through childhood, youth, old age and entry into another body, the self-possessed do not get bewildered (dehino’sminyathā dehe kaumāraṃ yauvanaṃ jarā । tathā dehāntaraprāptirdhīrastatra na muhyati ॥ 2-13॥).  मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः । आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत ॥ २-१४॥ यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ । समदुःखसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते ॥ २-१५॥ (14-15) Indeed, outward cognition results in cold / heat, pleasure / pain, which enter, their stay is impermanent, be patient (mātrāsparśāstu kaunteya śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkhadāḥ । āgamāpāyino’nityāstāṃstitikṣasva bhārata ॥ 2-14॥). The man who is not anguished is a champion among men, he who is firm and equal in pain and pleasure is fit for immortality (yaṃ hi na vyathayantyete puruṣaṃ puruṣarṣabha । samaduḥkhasukhaṃ dhīraṃ so’mṛtatvāya kalpate ॥ 2-15॥). नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः । उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः ॥ २-१६॥ अविनाशि तु तद्विद्धि येन सर्वमिदं ततम् । विनाशमव्ययस्यास्य न कश्चित्कर्तुमर्हति ॥ २-१७॥ (16-17) It does not exist in cognition of experience; no experience is cognised in the Truth. Also, inside of these two states have indeed been seen by knowers of the Truth (nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ । ubhayorapi dṛṣṭo’ntastvanayostattvadarśibhiḥ ॥ 2-16॥). Cognise that indestructible indeed is that which pervades everything. Destruction of the imperishable is not something anyone can do (avināśi tu tadviddhi yena sarvamidaṃ tatam । vināśamavyayasyāsya na kaścitkartumarhati ॥ 2-17॥). अन्तवन्त इमे देहा नित्यस्योक्ताः शरीरिणः । अनाशिनोऽप्रमेयस्य तस्माद्युध्यस्व भारत ॥ २-१८॥ य एनं वेत्ति हन्तारं यश्चैनं मन्यते हतम् । उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नायं हन्ति न हन्यते ॥ २-१९॥ न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्         नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः । अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो         न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ॥ २-२०॥ (18-20) These bodies have an end, but the everlasting is said to be embodied as indestructible and immeasurable, so fight (antavanta ime dehā nityasyoktāḥ śarīriṇaḥ । anāśino’prameyasya tasmādyudhyasva bhārata ॥ 2-18॥). He who thinks that he is the slayer, he who cognises that something is slain, both do not know that this does not slay nor is it slain (ya enaṃ vetti hantāraṃ yaścainaṃ manyate hatam । ubhau tau na vijānīto nāyaṃ hanti na hanyate ॥ 2-19॥). It is neither born nor does it die anytime; it is not present now or later in the future or in that which is occurring. It is unborn, eternal and changeless, this ancient is not killed when it the body is being killed. (na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin nāyaṃ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ । ajo nityaḥ śāśvato’yaṃ purāṇo na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre ॥ 2-20॥). वेदाविनाशिनं नित्यं य एनमजमव्ययम् । कथं स पुरुषः पार्थ कं घातयति हन्ति कम् ॥ २-२१॥ वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय         नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि । तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा-         न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही ॥ २-२२॥ (21-22) He who cognises this to be indestructible, unborn, infinite, to exist everywhere, how can that person cause slaying or slay (vedāvināśinaṃ nityaṃ ya enamajamavyayam । kathaṃ sa puruṣaḥ pārtha kaṃ ghātayati hanti kam ॥ 2-21॥). Just as worn-out clothes are cast away and new additional ones taken by man, similarly bodies are cast off after they are used up and other new bodies entered (vāsāṃsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya  navāni gṛhṇāti naro’parāṇi । tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇā-  nyanyāni saṃyāti navāni dehī ॥ 2-22॥). नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः । न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः ॥ २-२३॥ अच्छेद्योऽयमदाह्योऽयमक्लेद्योऽशोष्य एव च । नित्यः सर्वगतः स्थाणुरचलोऽयं सनातनः ॥ २-२४॥ अव्यक्तोऽयमचिन्त्योऽयमविकार्योऽयमुच्यते । तस्मादेवं विदित्वैनं नानुशोचितुमर्हसि ॥ २-२५॥ (23-25) This cannot be cut with weapons; this does not burn in fire and this does not get wet in water and does not get dry in the wind (nainaṃ chindanti śastrāṇi nainaṃ dahati pāvakaḥ । na cainaṃ kledayantyāpo na śoṣayati mārutaḥ ॥ 2-23॥).  This cannot be cut, this cannot be burnt, this cannot be wetted or dried and also constant, everywhere, stable, immovable, this universal (acchedyo’yamadāhyo’yamakledyo’śoṣya eva ca । nityaḥ sarvagataḥ sthāṇuracalo’yaṃ sanātanaḥ ॥ 2-24॥). This is unmanifested, this is unthinking, this is unchangeable, this is therefore knowing this, one ought not to lament (avyakto’yamacintyo’yamavikāryo’yamucyate । tasmādevaṃ viditvainaṃ nānuśocitumarhasi ॥ 2-25॥). अथ चैनं नित्यजातं नित्यं वा मन्यसे मृतम् । तथापि त्वं महाबाहो नैवं शोचितुमर्हसि ॥ २-२६॥ जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च । तस्मादपरिहार्येऽर्थे न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि ॥ २-२७॥ अव्यक्तादीनि भूतानि व्यक्तमध्यानि भारत । अव्यक्तनिधनान्येव तत्र का परिदेवना ॥ २-२८॥ (26-28) Now, if you think that this is constantly being born or constantly dying, even then you must not grieve (atha cainaṃ nityajātaṃ nityaṃ vā manyase mṛtam । tathāpi tvaṃ mahābāho naivaṃ śocitumarhasi ॥ 2-26॥). For those that are born death is certain, definitely there is birth for those that die, this is inevitable in matter, you should not grieve (jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyurdhruvaṃ janma mṛtasya ca । tasmādaparihārye’rthe na tvaṃ śocitumarhasi ॥ 2-27॥). Unmanifested in the beginning are beings, manifested in the middle, unmanifested again in the end, so what is there to lament (avyaktādīni bhūtāni vyaktamadhyāni bhārata । avyaktanidhanānyeva tatra kā paridevanā ॥ 2-28॥). आश्चर्यवत्पश्यति कश्चिदेन-         माश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्यः । आश्चर्यवच्चैनमन्यः श‍ृणोति         श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद न चैव कश्चित् ॥ २-२९॥ देही नित्यमवध्योऽयं देहे सर्वस्य भारत । तस्मात्सर्वाणि भूतानि न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि ॥ २-३०॥ (29-30) In wonder one sees this, in wonder one speaks of also, many wonders one hears of this, after hearing this is not known to anyone at all (āścaryavatpaśyati kaścidenamāścaryavadvadati tathaiva cānyaḥ । āścaryavaccainamanyaḥ śa‍ṛṇoti  śrutvāpyenaṃ veda na caiva kaścit ॥ 2-29॥). This in-dweller in the body is eternally indestructible in all creatures, therefore you should not grieve for anyone (dehī nityamavadhyo’yaṃ dehe sarvasya bhārata । tasmātsarvāṇi bhūtāni na tvaṃ śocitumarhasi ॥ 2-30॥). स्वधर्ममपि चावेक्ष्य न विकम्पितुमर्हसि । धर्म्याद्धि युद्धाच्छ्रेयोऽन्यत्क्षत्रियस्य न विद्यते ॥ २-३१॥ यदृच्छया चोपपन्नं स्वर्गद्वारमपावृतम् । सुखिनः क्षत्रियाः पार्थ लभन्ते युद्धमीदृशम् ॥ २-३२॥ अथ चेत्त्वमिमं धर्म्यं सङ्ग्रामं न करिष्यसि । ततः स्वधर्मं कीर्तिं च हित्वा पापमवाप्स्यसि ॥ २-३३॥ (31-33) Observing one’s own duty and not wavering at war should be higher than any other duty of a kṣatriya (svadharmamapi cāvekṣya na vikampitumarhasi । dharmyāddhi yuddhācchreyo’nyatkṣatriyasya na vidyate ॥ 2-31॥). Doors of heavens are laid open, happy kṣatriyas obtain battles that occur by themselves (yadṛcchayā copapannaṃ svargadvāramapāvṛtam । sukhinaḥ kṣatriyāḥ pārtha labhante yuddhamīdṛśam ॥ 2-32॥). However, if you do not act in this duty-bound warfare then your honour will be stained as own who abandoned his self-duty (atha cettvamimaṃ dharmyaṃ saṅgrāmaṃ na kariṣyasi । tataḥ svadharmaṃ kīrtiṃ ca hitvā pāpamavāpsyasi ॥ 2-33॥). अकीर्तिं चापि भूतानि कथयिष्यन्ति तेऽव्ययाम् । सम्भावितस्य चाकीर्तिर्मरणादतिरिच्यते ॥ २-३४॥ भयाद्रणादुपरतं मंस्यन्ते त्वां महारथाः । येषां च त्वं बहुमतो भूत्वा यास्यसि लाघवम् ॥ २-३५॥ अवाच्यवादांश्च बहून्वदिष्यन्ति तवाहिताः । निन्दन्तस्तव सामर्थ्यं ततो दुःखतरं नु किम् ॥ २-३६॥ हतो वा प्राप्स्यसि स्वर्गं जित्वा वा भोक्ष्यसे महीम् । तस्मादुत्तिष्ठ कौन्तेय युद्धाय कृतनिश्चयः ॥ २-३७॥ (34-37) Beings recount your story of dishonour forever, in their thought dishonour outlives death (akīrtiṃ cāpi bhūtāni kathayiṣyanti te’vyayām । sambhāvitasya cākīrtirmaraṇādatiricyate ॥ 2-34॥). The great charioteers will think that you withdrew from the battlefield in fear (bhayādraṇāduparataṃ maṃsyante tvāṃ mahārathāḥ ।) those that thought highly of you will receive you as a lightweight (yeṣāṃ ca tvaṃ bahumato bhūtvā yāsyasi lāghavam ॥ 2-35॥). Your enemies will speak many inappropriate words and many will defame your abilities, which will indeed be more painful than this (avācyavādāṃśca bahūnvadiṣyanti tavāhitāḥ । nindantastava sāmarthyaṃ tato duḥkhataraṃ nu kim ॥ 2-36॥). Slain, you will attain heaven, alive you will enjoy victory on earth therefore, stand up and resolve to fight. (hato vā prāpsyasi svargaṃ jitvā vā bhokṣyase mahīm । tasmāduttiṣṭha kaunteya yuddhāya kṛtaniścayaḥ ॥ 2-37॥). सुखदुःखे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ । ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि ॥ २-३८॥ एषा तेऽभिहिता साङ्ख्ये बुद्धिर्योगे त्विमां श‍ृणु । बुद्ध्या युक्तो यया पार्थ कर्मबन्धं प्रहास्यसि ॥ २-३९॥ नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते । स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात् ॥ २-४०॥ (38-40) Treat pain and pleasure, profit and loss, victory and defeat in the same manner, then engage in battle and no staining will result (sukhaduḥkhe same kṛtvā lābhālābhau jayājayau । tato yuddhāya yujyasva naivaṃ pāpamavāpsyasi ॥ 2-38॥). I am telling you the philosophical wisdom in yoga, indeed hear it with wisdom and follow it to cast off the bondage of karma (eṣā te’bhihitā sāṅkhye buddhiryoge tvimāṃ śa‍ṛṇu । buddhyā yukto yayā pārtha karmabandhaṃ prahāsyasi ॥ 2-39॥). Contrary results do not come from unsuccessful effort, even little of this duty protects from great fear (nehābhikramanāśo’sti pratyavāyo na vidyate । svalpamapyasya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt ॥ 2-40॥). व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिरेकेह कुरुनन्दन । बहुशाखा ह्यनन्ताश्च बुद्धयोऽव्यवसायिनाम् ॥ २-४१॥ यामिमां पुष्पितां वाचं प्रवदन्त्यविपश्चितः । वेदवादरताः पार्थ नान्यदस्तीति वादिनः ॥ २-४२॥ कामात्मानः स्वर्गपरा जन्मकर्मफलप्रदाम् । क्रियाविशेषबहुलां भोगैश्वर्यगतिं प्रति ॥ २-४३॥ (41-43) Maintain a firm soul and focussed intellect diverse, endless contemplation is of the irresolute (vyavasāyātmikā buddhirekeha kurunandana । bahuśākhā hyanantāśca buddhayo’vyavasāyinām ॥ 2-41॥). The ignorant get carried away by flowery speech quoting the Vedas, not these other words (yāmimāṃ puṣpitāṃ vācaṃ pravadantyavipaścitaḥ । vedavādaratāḥ pārtha nānyadastīti vādinaḥ ॥ 2-42॥). Those whose soul is full of desires, even with heaven as their highest goal, get birth as the fruit of action because their actions are focused on goals specific for attainment of pleasure and wealth (kāmātmānaḥ svargaparā janmakarmaphalapradām । kriyāviśeṣabahulāṃ bhogaiśvaryagatiṃ prati ॥ 2-43॥).  भोगैश्वर्यप्रसक्तानां तयापहृतचेतसाम् । व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिः समाधौ न विधीयते ॥ २-४४॥ त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन । निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान् ॥ २-४५॥ यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वतः सम्प्लुतोदके । तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानतः ॥ २-४६॥ (44-46) Those that are attached to enjoyment and wealth are bereft of consciousness, firm soul and intellect not focused in samaadhi (bhogaiśvaryaprasaktānāṃ tayāpahṛtacetasām । vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ samādhau na vidhīyate ॥ 2-44॥). The Vedas would not exist without the aspect of the three guṇas (traiguṇyaviṣayā vedā nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna ।) be without duality, constantly in sattva state with a Soul that is free from outcomes (nirdvandvo nityasattvastho niryogakṣema ātmavān ॥ 2-45॥). Just as a tank is as useful when there is flood everywhere (yāvānartha udapāne sarvataḥ samplutodake ।), similarly all the Vedas are of use to a brāhmaṇa who knows (tāvānsarveṣu vedeṣu brāhmaṇasya vijānataḥ ॥ 2-46॥). कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन । मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥ २-४७॥ योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय । सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ॥ २-४८॥ दूरेण ह्यवरं कर्म बुद्धियोगाद्धनञ्जय । बुद्धौ शरणमन्विच्छ कृपणाः फलहेतवः ॥ २-४९॥ (47-49) Perform karma for itself alone, not for its fruits, anytime (karmaṇyevādhikāraste mā phaleṣu kadācana ।), do not be attached to the fruits of action, nor be attached to inaction (mā karmaphalaheturbhūrmā te saṅgo’stvakarmaṇi ॥ 2-47॥). Absorbed in yoga of action, abandoning attachment to action, being the same in perfection or out of perfection, retaining equilibrium is called yoga (yogasthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṃ tyaktvā dhanañjaya । siddhyasiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṃ yoga ucyate ॥ 2-48॥). By far, action is inferior to yoga of wisdom, in wisdom one seeks refuge, in action one seeks fruits (dūreṇa hyavaraṃ karma buddhiyogāddhanañjaya । buddhau śaraṇamanviccha kṛpaṇāḥ phalahetavaḥ ॥ 2-49॥). बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृते । तस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् ॥ २-५०॥ कर्मजं बुद्धियुक्ता हि फलं त्यक्त्वा मनीषिणः । जन्मबन्धविनिर्मुक्ताः पदं गच्छन्त्यनामयम् ॥ २-५१॥ (50-51) One who is merged with wisdom casts off in this life both, pious and evil actions therefore dedicate yourself to yoga and become skilled in its ways (buddhiyukto jahātīha ubhe sukṛtaduṣkṛte । tasmādyogāya yujyasva yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam ॥ 2-50॥). Indeed, the wise having abandoned fruits of action that is born due to motivation by intelligence are freed from bonds of birth and go to a happy abode (karmajaṃ buddhiyuktā hi phalaṃ tyaktvā manīṣiṇaḥ । janmabandhavinirmuktāḥ padaṃ gacchantyanāmayam ॥ 2-51॥). यदा ते मोहकलिलं बुद्धिर्व्यतितरिष्यति । तदा गन्तासि निर्वेदं श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च ॥ २-५२॥ श्रुतिविप्रतिपन्ना ते यदा स्थास्यति निश्चला । समाधावचला बुद्धिस्तदा योगमवाप्स्यसि ॥ २-५३॥ (52-53) When your intellect crosses the more of delusion then you will experience indifference to what you hear and the subject of hearing (yadā te mohakalilaṃ buddhirvyatitariṣyati । tadā gantāsi nirvedaṃ śrotavyasya śrutasya ca ॥ 2-52॥). When you remain firm, unruffled with steady intellect in the midst of conflicts, then you will attain yoga (harmony), (śrutivipratipannā te yadā sthāsyati niścalā । samādhāvacalā buddhistadā yogamavāpsyasi ॥ 2-53॥). अर्जुन उवाच – स्थितप्रज्ञस्य का भाषा समाधिस्थस्य केशव । स्थितधीः किं प्रभाषेत किमासीत व्रजेत किम् ॥ २-५४॥ Arjuna said (54) What is the description of steady awareness state of a person who is in a state of samādhi (sthitaprajñasya kā bhāṣā samādhisthasya keśava ।), How does a person in this state speak, how does he sit, how does he walk (sthitadhīḥ kiṃ prabhāṣeta kimāsīta vrajeta kim ॥ 2-54॥). श्रीभगवानुवाच – प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् । आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्टः स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते ॥ २-५५॥ दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः सुखेषु विगतस्पृहः । वीतरागभयक्रोधः स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते ॥ २-५६॥ यः सर्वत्रानभिस्नेहस्तत्तत्प्राप्य शुभाशुभम् । नाभिनन्दति न द्वेष्टि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥ २-५७॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (55-57) When one casts off all desires even in the form of ideas and is satisfied in the Self by the Self alone, that person is called sthithapragnya (prajahāti yadā kāmānsarvānpārtha manogatān । ātmanyevātmanā tuṣṭaḥ sthitaprajñastadocyate ॥ 2-55॥). In pain, without agitation, indifferent to pleasure, freed from attachment, fear and unmoved is called a sage (duḥkheṣvanudvignamanāḥ sukheṣu vigataspṛhaḥ । vītarāgabhayakrodhaḥ sthitadhīrmunirucyate ॥ 2-56॥). He who is without affection everywhere no matter whether obtained in good or bad, does not rejoice nor repel, in him awareness is fixed (yaḥ sarvatrānabhisnehastattatprāpya śubhāśubham । nābhinandati na dveṣṭi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ॥ 2-57॥). यदा संहरते चायं कूर्मोऽङ्गानीव सर्वशः । इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥ २-५८॥ विषया विनिवर्तन्ते निराहारस्य देहिनः । रसवर्जं रसोऽप्यस्य परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते ॥ २-५९॥ यततो ह्यपि कौन्तेय पुरुषस्य विपश्चितः । इन्द्रियाणि प्रमाथीनि हरन्ति प्रसभं मनः ॥ २-६०॥ (58-60) When he withdraws his senses from all sense objects like a tortoise withdraws its limbs awareness is steadied (yadā saṃharate cāyaṃ kūrmo’ṅgānīva sarvaśaḥ । indriyāṇīndriyārthebhyastasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ॥ 2-58॥). Abstaining from objects annul longing in a person (viṣayā vinivartante nirāhārasya dehinaḥ ।), longing even to experience the supreme turns away (rasavarjaṃ raso’pyasya paraṃ dṛṣṭvā nivartate ॥ 2-59॥). Indeed, even in the person who is persevering as well as wise, the turbulent senses violently hijack cognition (yatato hyapi kaunteya puruṣasya vipaścitaḥ । indriyāṇi pramāthīni haranti prasabhaṃ manaḥ ॥ 2-60॥). तानि सर्वाणि संयम्य युक्त आसीत मत्परः । वशे हि यस्येन्द्रियाणि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥ २-६१॥ ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंसः सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते । सङ्गात्सञ्जायते कामः कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते ॥ २-६२॥ क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोहः सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रमः । स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति ॥ २-६३॥ (61-63) Indeed, they whose every sense has been restrained all together, sit devoted to me with senses under control is one whose awareness is complete (tāni sarvāṇi saṃyamya yukta āsīta matparaḥ । vaśe hi yasyendriyāṇi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ॥ 2-61॥). In man, thinking of objects results in attachment developing to them, from attachment desire is born, from desire anger rises (dhyāyato viṣayānpuṃsaḥ saṅgasteṣūpajāyate । saṅgātsañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmātkrodho’bhijāyate ॥ 2-62॥). From anger comes delusion, from delusion confusion of memory, from confusion of memory comes loss of reason, from loss of reason comes destruction (krodhādbhavati sammohaḥ sammohātsmṛtivibhramaḥ । smṛtibhraṃśād buddhināśo buddhināśātpraṇaśyati ॥ 2-63॥). रागद्वेषविमुक्तैस्तु विषयानिन्द्रियैश्चरन् । orवियुक्तैस्तु आत्मवश्यैर्विधेयात्मा प्रसादमधिगच्छति ॥ २-६४॥ प्रसादे सर्वदुःखानां हानिरस्योपजायते । प्रसन्नचेतसो ह्याशु बुद्धिः पर्यवतिष्ठते ॥ २-६५॥ नास्ति बुद्धिरयुक्तस्य न चायुक्तस्य भावना । न चाभावयतः शान्तिरशान्तस्य कुतः सुखम् ॥ २-६६॥ (64-66) Freedom from attachment and repulsion comes from exerting control over the churn of senses by objects, then a controlled Self is the outcome (rāgadveṣavimuktaistu viṣayānindriyaiścaran । orviyuktaistu ātmavaśyairvidheyātmā prasādamadhigacchati ॥ 2-64॥). The outcome of reduction in overall misery results in the appearance of a tranquil consciousness because quickly the intellect becomes steady (prasāde sarvaduḥkhānāṃ hānirasyopajāyate । prasannacetaso hyāśu buddhiḥ paryavatiṣṭhate ॥ 2-65॥). The fickle have no intellect nor steady vision (bhāvanā) and no peace in those without awareness (abhāvayat) how can happiness come to those that have no peace (nāsti buddhirayuktasya na cāyuktasya bhāvanā । na cābhāvayataḥ śāntiraśāntasya kutaḥ sukham ॥ 2-66॥). इन्द्रियाणां हि चरतां यन्मनोऽनुविधीयते । तदस्य हरति प्रज्ञां वायुर्नावमिवाम्भसि ॥ २-६७॥ तस्माद्यस्य महाबाहो निगृहीतानि सर्वशः । इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥ २-६८॥ या निशा सर्वभूतानां तस्यां जागर्ति संयमी । यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः ॥ २-६९॥ (67-69) The wandering senses are followed by the cognition which annihilate awareness like the wind takes away a boat on the water (indriyāṇāṃ hi caratāṃ yanmano’nuvidhīyate । tadasya harati prajñāṃ vāyurnāvamivāmbhasi ॥ 2-67॥). Therefore, one who has restrained the senses completely from sense objects, that persons awareness is steady (tasmādyasya mahābāho nigṛhītāni sarvaśaḥ । indriyāṇīndriyārthebhyastasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ॥ 2-68॥). When it is night for all beings, at this time awakens the self-controlled, in which all beings awaken that vision is cognised by the muni (yā niśā sarvabhūtānāṃ tasyāṃ jāgarti saṃyamī । yasyāṃ jāgrati bhūtāni sā niśā paśyato muneḥ ॥ 2-69॥). आपूर्यमाणमचलप्रतिष्ठं         समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत् । तद्वत्कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे         स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी ॥ २-७०॥ विहाय कामान्यः सर्वान्पुमांश्चरति निःस्पृहः । निर्ममो निरहङ्कारः स शान्तिमधिगच्छति ॥ २-७१॥ एषा ब्राह्मी स्थितिः पार्थ नैनां प्राप्य विमुह्यति । स्थित्वास्यामन्तकालेऽपि ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृच्छति ॥ २-७२॥ (70-72) Just as waters do not fill up steadily situated sea, similarly all whom desire enters, they will not attain peace due to dictates of passion (āpūryamāṇamacalapratiṣṭhaṃ samudramāpaḥ praviśanti yadvat । tadvatkāmā yaṃ praviśanti sarve sa śāntimāpnoti na kāmakāmī ॥ 2-70॥). Everyone who abandons desire moves about free from longing, without ownership, without the sense of doer-ship, that person attains peace (vihāya kāmānyaḥ sarvānpumāṃścarati niḥspṛhaḥ । nirmamo nirahaṅkāraḥ sa śāntimadhigacchati ॥ 2-71॥). This state of brahman is not achieved by anyone who is fascinated by this achievement, but once transfixed there at the end of life attains merger with brahman (eṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ pārtha naināṃ prāpya vimuhyati । sthitvāsyāmantakāle’pi brahmanirvāṇamṛcchati ॥ 2-72॥). [...] Read more...
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 3 (karma-yoga)
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 3 (karma-yoga)Acknowledgement. School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3 – karma-yoga (yoga of action).  Introduction. To understand karma-yoga, some principles and concepts which underpin the philosophy as stated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa need to be understood. The key concepts that will be addressed in chapter 3 are karma, relationship between karma and puruṣa/ prakṛti, karma and debt (ṛṇa) and karma-yoga, which means integration of karma with the Self (ātman). Since these concepts are interrelated, there will be overlap which could lead to some confusion. In chapter 2, we learned that Brahman is a permanent, unchanging, immutable, cognitive state of peace, which is the source and motility of everything. Everything that emerges from Brahman is called māyā (illusion/ materiality). Māyā is driven by attributes or guṇa, consisting of the states of delusion (tamas), passion (rajas) and harmony (sattva). Dharma is natural state, one that conditions all entities to behave in a particular manner. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga (verse 1-9). Comparing knowledge and action. Arjuna asked – If you are saying that the yoga of knowledge (sāṃkhya-yoga) is superior to yoga of action (karma-yoga), why are you asking me to indulge in this terrible action? You are confusing me with your perplexing speech, so please explain to me that ONE way by which I may attain the correct goal. Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied – In this world for yogīs or those seeking to integrate their awareness with Brahman, there are two paths – the path of knowledge (sāṃkhya-yoga) or the path of action (karma-yoga) (verse 3-9). A person does not reach the state of no action by not acting; neither does he reach the highest levels of wisdom by renunciation. This is because action occurs continuously in voluntary and involuntary form, for this is the nature of creation (prakṛti) (verse 5). Action is superior to inaction, indeed, for even the body cannot be maintained by inaction (verse 8). Perfection cannot be attained by renunciation of action (karma). In fact, only the perfect can achieve liberation (samādhi) through renunciation (verse 4). He who restrains action without restraining the senses is delusional, but he who restrains the senses and cognition when acting excels (verse 7). Common people experience anxiety when acting (karma), but the wise people act in a state of peace (verse 18). When performing action, the intent of sacrifice is superior to the intent of result. For example, food cooked for oneself but not shared is action intended for the senses, but one shared with others is a sacrifice. Thus, sacrifice is the source of all well-being (verse 11). A person who is anchored in the Self finds connection in all activity. Such a person does not consider himself to cause action, or inaction and is not dependent on others (verse 17-18). The ignorant act with attachment to action, the wise act with an attitude of no attachment. The best way to act is for the welfare of the world and to perform all actions with an attitude of balance (verse 25-26).  So, perform action without attachment, only then do you set a standard and become a role model for people to emulate (verse 20). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga. The relationship between karma and puruṣa/ prakṛti. The attributes (guṇa) that comprise delusion (tamas), passion (rajas) and harmony (sattva) have a passive (puruṣa) and an active (prakṛti). The passive component puruṣa, is the experiencer or Identity of the entity while the active component prakṛti is the manifestation of puruṣa, emerging in the form of attributes (guṇa). For example, people recognise us by our behaviour (prakṛti), our behaviour is an expression of our Identity (puruṣa). So, without our Identity (puruṣa), we would not be able to express ourselves (prakṛti). Also, our behaviour (prakṛti) changes along with our experiences and this is on account of the changes experienced by our Identity (puruṣa). Clearly, puruṣa cannot exist without prakṛti and vice-versa, they are continuously weaving with each other. This weave is called tantra (weave) and the act of weaving is karma (action). It’s important not to forget that the source and motility of all the above factors is So, what is the relationship between action karma, guṇa, puruṣa and prakṛti? Any stimulus-response transaction results in action (karma) because there is an outcome. This is also the material weave of puruṣa and prakṛti.  Since prakṛti drives attributes (guṇa), the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti results in action karma that is driven by attributes (guṇa). But, the concept of action (karma) does not stop here, School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga. Karma. When we like something, we bring it close to ourselves. This is called rāga (attraction). When we dislike something, we push it away. This is called dveṣa (repulsion) and the action of bringing something close or pushing it away is action (karma).  Since this covers all transactions, karma can be considered as the governing principle of the existence of all sentient, non-sentient, animate and inanimate entities. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga.  Relationship between karma and bandhana. Introduction: karma creates bonds (bandhana) in every transaction because whenever two entities relate to each other, they form a bond even if the transaction is temporary. Two types of bonds can be created in any transaction; one of equal give-take (sama-bandhana – sama = equal + bandhana = bond) or and unequal bond of give-take which creates by debt is called ṛṇa-bandhana (ṛṇa = debt + bandhana = bond). Any transaction where the give and take are equal is called samabandhana (equal bond). Mostly, this is between married couples where give and take is not measured. This is why, in-laws in India are called sambandhi or samdi (those of equal bond). Importantly, this give and take need not be material alone; it could be ideas, feelings, opinions etc. or a mix of these, anything where there is an imbalance or debt (ṛṇa) created. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga. Types of debt (ṛṇa) in karma. We know that most transactions are rarely equal, one of the parties will give or get more. Hence, this creates a debtor and a creditor, and a debt (ṛṇa) that needs to be repaid in this life or in another. Also, creation and repayment of debt can take many forms, depending on the type of debt.   All debt accrued to or by one in an ongoing situation is called āgāmi-karma (current debt). The overall aggregation of all debit or credit is called sañcita-karma (overall debt). Next, the debt which comes for repayment is called prārabdha-karma (repayment debt). Finally, any overarching karma which controls environments and communities is called samaṣṭi-karma. Example of samaṣṭi-karma – Covid-19, all earthquakes, tsunamis, weather etc., where the individual’s karma is subsumed by a macro event. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga. Where does the debt (ṛṇa) reside? Debt (ṛṇa) only exists when it can be assigned to an entity. Hence, all debt (ṛṇa) is accumulated by the Self/ Soul (ātman) and goes with it at each rebirth until all the debt has been discharged. How can a person avoid rebirth? Karma is attached to the Self (ātman) only when it identifies itself with the action, so the simple way to avoid debt or ṛṇa is to act without attaching the Self (ātman) to the outcome. Act with all senses and cognition (manas) under control, with a spirit of sacrifice (yajña), without desire for results (karma-phala) and without any attitude of being the doer (ahaṃkāra). Unfortunately, this is easier said than done and requires great dedication, patience, persistence and practice (śraddhā). This effort to transcend the Self (jīva) during action (karma) is called karma-yoga. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga. The key principles underpinning karma-yoga. 1- All aspects of life are based on natural principles of creation (dharma). Understanding of these principles is the basis of knowledge (sāṃkhya). For example, the Sun’s rays nourish earth, the earth rotates clockwise, plants grow from the earth when they are nourished by rain, gravity acts on all matter etc., these are natural rules (dharma) of creation that cannot be changed. 2- Dharma (natural state, order or conditioning) comes from karma, which comes from the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti, which is a continuous unending process. For example – we need food which must be grown out of the earth. To achieve efficiency, one type of food must be grown on a plot of land. This is aligning natural principle of creation with our own ability to grow food. Then, there is peace/ order or harmony, which is dharma. But, when food is grown by use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals, this balance is lost and there is chaos (adharma). This chaos may not manifest immediately, but over time it manifests as climate change. 3- Action is continuous. Even to maintain the body we need to act. In fact, action occurs when we are asleep, just as acquiring wisdom requires effort or action. Importantly, not acting is also action (akarma). 4- There is no one else! Everything that we do or is done to us is a result of our karma and the debt (ṛṇa) we create is karma that has to be reconciled. So, to avoid debt (ṛṇa) one must act as if he does not consider himself to cause action or inaction, nor with dependence on any other beings. This aspect has three parts, First, we are born alone and anything we do will affect us only. Our effect on others is not controlled by us unless we force the issue. Second is a derivation of the first. While the outcome may not be as per our expectation, it is important that our effort or input be executed with excellence, dedication and sincerity (śraddhā). Finally, it is best that we detach ourselves from the outcome of our actions so that the impact does not disturb our equilibrium. 5- Hence, it is best that we perform all action as a sacrifice without expectations. This way, we do not attach our actions to the results and avoid dualities such as like-dislike as well as expectation. What is the measure of success? How do we know that we are on the right path? When our transactions result in minimum experience of debt and agitation around us, then we can call our action dhārmika or in line with karma-yoga. Importantly, to achieve success, we need to have awareness (prajñā) of the situation as it unfolds. Situational awareness (prajñā) drives discrimination (viveka) which determines quality of action (karma). A person of steady awareness is called sthitaprajñā (detailed in chapter 2 of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā) Example. India suffered a terrible defeat in the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Let us look at the situational awareness (prajñā) of the time. China had managed to push the UN forces back to the 38th parallel. They had inflicted a defeat on the armies of USA and Great Britain, leading world powers of the time. China invaded Tibet in 1951 and annexed it in 1959. These were clear indicators of China’s capabilities and intentions. The Indian Government ignored all warning signs and did not build capability in the Indian defence or External Affairs establishment. Meanwhile, Indian Government gave asylum to the Dalai Lama, provoking the Chinese further. Although, in itself this was not wrong, assuming that the Indo-China brotherhood would be sufficient to maintain status-quo was very poor situational awareness.  This led to poor military preparedness, poor negotiating positions and poor diplomatic decisions. Consequently, the conflict ended in a debacle with India losing large territory, material and over 5000 soldiers. Sāṃkhya (knowledge) that Chinese had aggressive intentions and capability was available but the administration was deluded into thinking that Chinese would not attack. Thus, Indians made no preparations. Consequently, once the month-long war started, no compensatory action (karma) could stem the outcome.  Some lessons. When discrimination (viveka) between reality and need for preparation was lost due to delusion, knowledge (sāṃkhya) that preparation might have reversed the abject outcome was abandoned.  We can find similar instances in our homes, societies, businesses, countries and across the world (terrorism and climate change being examples), where knowledge is ignored at cataclysmic cost. More examples. We know that we need to study for our exams, revise what we studied and not assume that we know the subject after familiarising ourselves. After all, there is a difference in awareness (prajñā) between familiarity and competence. So, while familiarity breeds contempt, competence brings confidence and problem-solving capability. Let us assume that the managing committee of a group of buildings ignores general maintenance and small pain-points which arise regularly and instead assumes that everything is well just because the pain-points don’t manifest as problems. Is this committee not heading for a breakdown which may come at an inconvenient time? For example, if they were to ignore checking of drains regularly, then it is possible that all drains get blocked simultaneously and everyone in the society has an uncomfortable time until the drains are cleared. Thus, the action (karma) of planned inspection and maintenance helps avoid stress, emotional and physical discomfort of a breakdown situation. In 1908, the Model T Ford was the world’s first mass produced car, ushering in a new world of mobility. Henry Ford standardised everything including paint, in order to make the car affordable. However, by 1920 customer requirements had changed but Henry Ford adamantly refused to change the product line-up. By the time he relented in 1927 and allowed expansion of Ford’s product line, the company had lost market share to other American car companies. This is another example of how success can delude a person and make him think that he can do nothing wrong, much to the detriment of his own well-being. Conclusion. Prior experience and wisdom indicate that realities and demands of change must be accepted and requisite action must be taken for an outcome to be successful. However, arrogance, laziness, lack of capability and delusion bring avoidable failure. Śrī Kṛṣṇa said – Even though I have reached this level of supreme awareness and have no need to act, I act ceaselessly, so that people may follow suit. I act to ensure the welfare of all, to make sure removal of confusion and to establish a standard for people to follow (verse 30- 35). Even when in the midst of people wedded to action that are fanned by the senses, a yogī must work ceaselessly with restrained senses, forsaking the outcome for the welfare of all and perform all action with devotion. He must not get attached to the thought that he is the doer. So, transferring your sense of identity (I am) into Me (in this case, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but it can be any external entity), being aware of the Self, freeing yourself from hope and glory, removing anxiety and frustration – fight! Those that practice this without giving excuses will succeed in freeing themselves from action. Those that preach but do not practice will remain in misery. It is better to be true to one’s natural state or conditioning (dharma) even though it may yield no merit, than to follow another’s for that will only lead to confusion, fear and ruin. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga, chapter 3 (verse 36 – 43). Motivation for action Arjuna said – Then, what makes man perform acts which may go against his own natural state or conditioning (dharma) and innate instincts and hurt others? (verse 36) Śrī Kṛṣṇa said – It is anger born out of drive generated by desire to devour. Just as fire is enveloped by smoke and mirror by dust, the awareness gets enveloped by ambition and desire. This drive consumes wisdom and seeks continuous appeasement of the senses. The senses, cognition and logic are its seat, so one must constantly be alert; keep this sense under control before it destroys you (verse 37- 43). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga, chapter 3. Concept of karma-yoga. All creation comes from the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti, which arises from Brahman. and drive all action (karma), including the cognitive apparatus. The senses (indriyas) are superior to the gross body; the centre of cognition (manas) is superior to the senses and the centre of logic (buddhi) but above all this is that (Brahman), so transcend the Self and merge into the source (samādhi). So, being aware of the Self, use this awareness to conquer desire, no doubt a very difficult thing to conquer. Our natural state is an all-pervading feeling of equilibrium or peace (śānti). This natural state of peace (śānti) is our dharma. Dharma is the natural state of all beings.  When our actions are in conformance with our natural state, it is called svabhāva (sva = self + bhāva = expression or sentiment). This harmony/ order (dharma) can exist only if we are at peace with ourselves and our world. This includes not just other human beings, but animals, plants and our environment also. Also, it is important to remember that Brahman is a state of infinite, unchanging peace. For instance, when we compete, we begin to compare ourselves with others and become enmeshed in duality of love-hate, good-bad etc. Consequently, we become anxious, stressed, miserable and delusional (tamas). The desire to compete and win (rajas) infuses passion, and our work becomes driven by expectation, desires, fear, frustration, anger, anxiety and stress. This corrodes our balance and equanimity (sattva) and leads to unhappiness, stress and finally breakdown of body and faculties. However, we do it all the time, at school, college, home, sports, office, society, even as a nation!  When we become aware of this destructive state and our focus turns to peaceful integration of all stakeholders without compromising on goals, our drive to prosper at any cost diminishes. Instead, we try to develop an inclusive and balanced way to prosperity and reach a state of peace and in equilibrium. This type of action (karma) is called sacrifice (yajña). because it requires us to give up our own desires for an overarching state of peace. Sacrifice requires restraining of our senses while performing action which, in turn increases awareness and peace within us.  So, when we work with our senses under control, an attitude of sacrifice (yajña), without expectation of result but overall betterment, all the negativities of tamas and rajas are avoided. Consequently, this leads to a peaceful, healthy and happy existence.  Also, since karma is attached to people when they identify themselves with the action, this method is a simple way to avoid debt (ṛṇa) by separating the Self from the act. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done and requires great practice. Why is this so difficult? Don’t we have a free will? This is addressed in chapter 4. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga, chapter 3. Some contradictions to accepted positions. Action (karma), when used colloquially, it is actually debt (ṛṇa) that has come for repayment. While primordial action (ādi-karma) comes on account of two identities (atman) in a bond (bandana), action (karma) causes and imbalance within the bond resulting in debt (ṛṇa), which becomes the cause of subsequent identities (atman). Can the logic of bonds (bandana) and action (karma) be applied to science? Yes, the concept of yoga is universal (sanātana) and can be applied to Science as well. Read about it in Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā – chapter 9. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga, chapter 3. Lesson learned in chapter 3. Everything is action (karma). Action, inaction, approved action or prohibited action. All are action (karma). One can’t escape it, one can only try to control one’s impulses, keep one’s senses under control and perform action as a sacrifice, without any expectation of outcome. The transliteration and translation of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3 follows. The Saṃskṛtaṃ words are in red italics. अर्जुन उवाच – ज्यायसी चेत्कर्मणस्ते मता बुद्धिर्जनार्दन । तत्किं कर्मणि घोरे मां नियोजयसि केशव ॥ ३-१॥ व्यामिश्रेणेव वाक्येन बुद्धिं मोहयसीव मे । तदेकं वद निश्चित्य येन श्रेयोऽहमाप्नुयाम् ॥ ३-२॥ Arjuna said (1-2) If according to you, wisdom (matā buddhi) is superior to karma, then why are you asking me to engage in this terrible deed? (jyāyasī cetkarmaṇaste matā buddhirjanārdana । tatkiṃ karmaṇi ghore māṃ niyojayasi keśava ॥ 3-1॥). I am perplexed with your speech and my understanding is confused, so tell me for certain, by which path I can succeed (vyāmiśreṇeva vākyena buddhiṃ mohayasīva me । tadekaṃ vada niścitya yena śreyo’hamāpnuyām ॥ 3-2॥).  श्रीभगवानुवाच । लोकेऽस्मिन् द्विविधा निष्ठा पुरा प्रोक्ता मयानघ । ज्ञानयोगेन साङ्ख्यानां कर्मयोगेन योगिनाम् ॥ ३-३॥ न कर्मणामनारम्भान्नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते । न च संन्यसनादेव सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति ॥ ३-४॥ न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् । कार्यते ह्यवशः कर्म सर्वः प्रकृतिजैर्गुणैः ॥ ३-५॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (3-5) As I said, since long ago, in this world, there are two paths; merger by enquiry into the Self for the philosophers and merger by activity for those who prefer action (loke’smin dvividhā niṣṭhā purā proktā mayānagha । jñānayogena sāṅkhyānāṃ karmayogena yoginām ॥ 3-3॥). Man does not attain state of no action by abstaining from action and only the perfect can attain samādhi through renunciation (na karmaṇāmanārambhānnaiṣkarmyaṃ puruṣo’śnute । na ca saṃnyasanādeva siddhiṃ samadhigacchati ॥ 3-4॥). Not for a moment even is anyone free from action at all, for everyone is helplessly driven into action by guṇas which are born out of prakṛti (na hi kaścitkṣaṇamapi jātu tiṣṭhatyakarmakṛt । kāryate hyavaśaḥ karma sarvaḥ prakṛtijairguṇaiḥ ॥ 3-5॥).  कर्मेन्द्रियाणि संयम्य य आस्ते मनसा स्मरन् । इन्द्रियार्थान्विमूढात्मा मिथ्याचारः स उच्यते ॥ ३-६॥ यस्त्विन्द्रियाणि मनसा नियम्यारभतेऽर्जुन । कर्मेन्द्रियैः कर्मयोगमसक्तः स विशिष्यते ॥ ३-७॥ नियतं कुरु कर्म त्वं कर्म ज्यायो ह्यकर्मणः । शरीरयात्रापि च ते न प्रसिद्ध्येदकर्मणः ॥ ३-८॥ (6-8) That deluded soul who restrains organs of action but constantly sits with his cognition remembering sense objects is called a hypocrite (karmendriyāṇi saṃyamya ya āste manasā smaran । indriyārthānvimūḍhātmā mithyācāraḥ sa ucyate ॥ 3-6॥). But that person who controls the senses by control of cognition, commences to act in an unattached manner and excels in harmony of action (yastvindriyāṇi manasā niyamyārabhate’rjuna । karmendriyaiḥ karmayogamasaktaḥ sa viśiṣyate ॥ 3-7॥). Surely, you must perform action, for it is superior to inaction, for even maintenance of your body would not be possible by inaction (niyataṃ kuru karma tvaṃ karma jyāyo hyakarmaṇaḥ । śarīrayātrāpi ca te na prasiddhyedakarmaṇaḥ ॥ 3-8॥).  यज्ञार्थात्कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबन्धनः । तदर्थं कर्म कौन्तेय मुक्तसङ्गः समाचर ॥ ३-९॥ सहयज्ञाः प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापतिः । अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेष वोऽस्त्विष्टकामधुक् ॥ ३-१०॥ (9-10) Everyone in this world is bound by actions, for that sake perform action without attachment (yajñārthātkarmaṇo’nyatra loko’yaṃ karmabandhanaḥ । tadarthaṃ karma kaunteya muktasaṅgaḥ samācara ॥ 3-9॥). Having created mankind in the beginning by their sacrifice, Prajāpati said, propagate this as your milch cow of desires (sahayajñāḥ prajāḥ sṛṣṭvā purovāca prajāpatiḥ । anena prasaviṣyadhvameṣa vo’stviṣṭakāmadhuk ॥ 3-10॥).  देवान्भावयतानेन ते देवा भावयन्तु वः । परस्परं भावयन्तः श्रेयः परमवाप्स्यथ ॥ ३-११॥ इष्टान्भोगान्हि वो देवा दास्यन्ते यज्ञभाविताः । तैर्दत्तानप्रदायैभ्यो यो भुङ्क्ते स्तेन एव सः ॥ ३-१२॥ यज्ञशिष्टाशिनः सन्तो मुच्यन्ते सर्वकिल्बिषैः । भुञ्जते ते त्वघं पापा ये पचन्त्यात्मकारणात् ॥ ३-१३॥ (11-13) The deities nourish the sinless, those deities will nourish you, then mutually nourishing each other, you shall attain the highest level of trustworthiness (devānbhāvayatānena te devā bhāvayantu vaḥ । parasparaṃ bhāvayantaḥ śreyaḥ paramavāpsyatha ॥ 3-11॥). So, deities will give to you desired objects through their fruits of sacrifice, anyone who enjoys without offering to them is truly like a thief. (iṣṭānbhogānhi vo devā dāsyante yajñabhāvitāḥ । tairdattānapradāyaibhyo yo bhuṅkte stena eva saḥ ॥ 3-12॥). The saintly who harvest the outcome of a sacrifice are freed from faults (yajñaśiṣṭāśinaḥ santo mucyante sarvakilbiṣaiḥ ।), indeed, those evil people who are selfish are those that eat fruits of wretchedness (bhuñjate te tvaghaṃ pāpā ye pacantyātmakāraṇāt ॥ 3-13॥).  अन्नाद्भवन्ति भूतानि पर्जन्यादन्नसम्भवः । यज्ञाद्भवति पर्जन्यो यज्ञः कर्मसमुद्भवः ॥ ३-१४॥ कर्म ब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि ब्रह्माक्षरसमुद्भवम् । तस्मात्सर्वगतं ब्रह्म नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितम् ॥ ३-१५॥ एवं प्रवर्तितं चक्रं नानुवर्तयतीह यः । अघायुरिन्द्रियारामो मोघं पार्थ स जीवति ॥ ३-१६॥ (14-16) From food comes beings, from rain comes production of food, from sacrifice comes rain, sacrifice is source of karma (annādbhavanti bhūtāni parjanyādannasambhavaḥ । yajñādbhavati parjanyo yajñaḥ karmasamudbhavaḥ ॥ 3-14॥). Know that action has risen from brahma who has risen from the Imperishable, therefore one can establish that omnipresent Brahman is constantly present in sacrifice (karma brahmodbhavaṃ viddhi brahmākṣarasamudbhavam । tasmātsarvagataṃ brahma nityaṃ yajñe pratiṣṭhitam ॥ 3-15॥). Therefore, he who is malicious and in lives enjoying the delusional world of senses sets in motion this wheel that only moves forward. (evaṃ pravartitaṃ cakraṃ nānuvartayatīha yaḥ । aghāyurindriyārāmo moghaṃ pārtha sa jīvati ॥ 3-16॥). यस्त्वात्मरतिरेव स्यादात्मतृप्तश्च मानवः । आत्मन्येव च सन्तुष्टस्तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते ॥ ३-१७॥  नैव तस्य कृतेनार्थो नाकृतेनेह कश्चन । न चास्य सर्वभूतेषु कश्चिदर्थव्यपाश्रयः ॥ ३-१८॥ (17-18) Only the person who rejoices in the Self is likely to find satisfaction in the Self and only the human who stays in the Self stays contented in any activity (yastvātmaratireva syādātmatṛptaśca mānavaḥ । ātmanyeva ca santuṣṭastasya kāryaṃ na vidyate ॥ 3-17॥). He does not consider himself to cause action or inaction here and nor does he depend on any other beings (naiva tasya kṛtenārtho nākṛteneha kaścana । na cāsya sarvabhūteṣu kaścidarthavyapāśrayaḥ ॥ 3-18॥).  तस्मादसक्तः सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर । असक्तो ह्याचरन्कर्म परमाप्नोति पूरुषः ॥ ३-१९॥ कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादयः । लोकसङ्ग्रहमेवापि सम्पश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि ॥ ३-२०॥   यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः । स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते ॥ ३-२१॥   (19-21) Therefore, always perform mandatory activities without attachment because man attains the Supreme by performing such action (tasmādasaktaḥ satataṃ kāryaṃ karma samācara । asakto hyācarankarma paramāpnoti pūruṣaḥ ॥ 3-19॥). Truly, only by action perfection is reached, Janaka and others performed action only for the welfare of the people, so should you (karmaṇaiva hi saṃsiddhimāsthitā janakādayaḥ । lokasaṅgrahamevāpi sampaśyankartumarhasi ॥ 3-20॥). Whenever undertaken activity is performed splendidly, that becomes the measure by which people of the world judge how a person should perform (yadyadācarati śreṣṭhastattadevetaro janaḥ । sa yatpramāṇaṃ kurute lokastadanuvartate ॥ 3-21॥).  न मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किञ्चन । नानवाप्तमवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव च कर्मणि ॥ ३-२२॥ यदि ह्यहं न वर्तेयं जातु कर्मण्यतन्द्रितः । मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः ॥ ३-२३॥    उत्सीदेयुरिमे लोका न कुर्यां कर्म चेदहम् । सङ्करस्य च कर्ता स्यामुपहन्यामिमाः प्रजाः ॥ ३-२४॥ (22-24) There is no mandatory action in the three worlds, not anything unattained, to be attained by me, yet I am continuously acting (na me pārthāsti kartavyaṃ triṣu lokeṣu kiñcana ।  nānavāptamavāptavyaṃ varta eva ca karmaṇi ॥ 3-22॥). Surely, if I did not engage in action ever unwearied, humanity would follow my example (yadi hyahaṃ na varteyaṃ jātu karmaṇyatandritaḥ ।  mama vartmānuvartante manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ ॥ 3-23॥). These worlds would be ruined if I did not perform action. Mixing of people would result in their destruction (utsīdeyurime lokā na kuryāṃ karma cedaham ।  saṅkarasya ca kartā syāmupahanyāmimāḥ prajāḥ ॥ 3-24॥).  सक्ताः कर्मण्यविद्वांसो यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत । कुर्याद्विद्वांस्तथासक्तश्चिकीर्षुर्लोकसङ्ग्रहम् ॥ ३-२५॥    न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम् । जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान्युक्तः समाचरन् ॥ ३-२६॥ (25-26) The ignorant act with attachment to action, the wise act with an attitude of no attachment, for the welfare of the world (saktāḥ karmaṇyavidvāṃso yathā kurvanti bhārata ।  kuryādvidvāṃstathāsaktaścikīrṣurlokasaṅgraham ॥ 3-25॥). No disturbance of the intellect should arise from actions of the ignorant who are attached to actions, the wise perform all actions with an attitude of balance (na buddhibhedaṃ janayedajñānāṃ karmasaṅginām । joṣayetsarvakarmāṇi vidvānyuktaḥ samācaran ॥ 3-26॥).  प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः । अहङ्कारविमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते ॥ ३-२७॥ तत्त्ववित्तु महाबाहो गुणकर्मविभागयोः । गुणा गुणेषु वर्तन्त इति मत्वा न सज्जते ॥ ३-२८॥       प्रकृतेर्गुणसम्मूढाः सज्जन्ते गुणकर्मसु । तानकृत्स्नविदो मन्दान्कृत्स्नविन्न विचालयेत् ॥ ३-२९॥  (27-29) All actions arise from attributes which arise from prakṛti (prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ ।), the deluded soul cognises itself as “I am the doer” (ahaṅkāravimūḍhātmā kartāhamiti manyate ॥ 3-27॥). Philosophers know that action comes from the tri-partitioned attributes and controlling these attributes, thus knowing, remain unattached (tattvavittu mahābāho guṇakarmavibhāgayoḥ । guṇā guṇeṣu vartanta iti matvā na sajjate ॥ 3-28॥). Thus, deluded by gunas born of prakṛti find virtue in actions driven by guṇa (prakṛterguṇasammūḍhāḥ sajjante guṇakarmasu ।). The person with complete knowledge should not agitate dull people who have incomplete knowledge (tānakṛtsnavido mandānkṛtsnavinna vicālayet ॥ 3-29॥). मयि सर्वाणि कर्माणि संन्यस्याध्यात्मचेतसा । निराशीर्निर्ममो भूत्वा युध्यस्व विगतज्वरः ॥ ३-३०॥ ये मे मतमिदं नित्यमनुतिष्ठन्ति मानवाः । श्रद्धावन्तोऽनसूयन्तो मुच्यन्ते तेऽपि कर्मभिः ॥ ३-३१॥      ये त्वेतदभ्यसूयन्तो नानुतिष्ठन्ति मे मतम् । सर्वज्ञानविमूढांस्तान्विद्धि नष्टानचेतसः ॥ ३-३२॥ (30-32) Renouncing all action into me, with a consciousness that is meditating on the Primordial Self, without hope, without the sense of Self, becoming free from affliction, fight (mayi sarvāṇi karmāṇi saṃnyasyādhyātmacetasā । nirāśīrnirmamo bhūtvā yudhyasva vigatajvaraḥ ॥ 3-30॥). Also, those people that practice this teaching of mine constantly with dedication and without envy, they are freed from karma (ye me matamidaṃ nityamanutiṣṭhanti mānavāḥ । śraddhāvanto’nasūyanto mucyante te’pi karmabhiḥ ॥ 3-31॥). But those who are envious, not performing my teaching, misinterpreting all knowledge of the Self, their lack of knowledge will lead them to ruin (ye tvetadabhyasūyanto nānutiṣṭhanti me matam । sarvajñānavimūḍhāṃstānviddhi naṣṭānacetasaḥ ॥ 3-32॥).  सदृशं चेष्टते स्वस्याः प्रकृतेर्ज्ञानवानपि । प्रकृतिं यान्ति भूतानि निग्रहः किं करिष्यति ॥ ३-३३॥ इन्द्रियस्येन्द्रियस्यार्थे रागद्वेषौ व्यवस्थितौ । तयोर्न वशमागच्छेत्तौ ह्यस्य परिपन्थिनौ ॥ ३-३४॥ श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् । स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः परधर्मो भयावहः ॥ ३-३५॥ (33-35) Even a wise man acts in conformance with his or her own nature (prakṛti), likewise other beings follow their own nature (prakṛti), what suppression can creatures accomplish? (sadṛśaṃ ceṣṭate svasyāḥ prakṛterjñānavānapi । prakṛtiṃ yānti bhūtāni nigrahaḥ kiṃ kariṣyati ॥ 3-33॥). Attraction and repulsion find their foundation in the senses and are nourished by the senses, verily they come in the way of those that cannot them (indriyasyendriyasyārthe rāgadveṣau vyavasthitau । tayorna vaśamāgacchettau hyasya paripanthinau ॥ 3-34॥). Excellence in one’s own value system, even if devoid of merit is better than discharging other’s duties, it is better to die following one’s own natural state than performing another’s activity in a state of fear (śreyānsvadharmo viguṇaḥ paradharmātsvanuṣṭhitāt । svadharme nidhanaṃ śreyaḥ paradharmo bhayāvahaḥ ॥ 3-35॥).  अर्जुन उवाच – अथ केन प्रयुक्तोऽयं पापं चरति पूरुषः । अनिच्छन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजितः ॥ ३-३६॥ Arjuna said (36) Now, by which motivation is a person impelled to performing wretched actions, not wishing to be constrained even by force? (atha kena prayukto’yaṃ pāpaṃ carati pūruṣaḥ । anicchannapi vārṣṇeya balādiva niyojitaḥ ॥ 3-36॥).  श्रीभगवानुवाच – काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भवः । महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम् ॥ ३-३७॥ धूमेनाव्रियते वह्निर्यथादर्शो मलेन च । यथोल्बेनावृतो गर्भस्तथा तेनेदमावृतम् ॥ ३-३८॥     आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन ज्ञानिनो नित्यवैरिणा । कामरूपेण कौन्तेय दुष्पूरेणानलेन च ॥ ३-३९॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (37-39) Desire for this and anger at this are expressions of passion, this is a major, voracious and wretched, penetrative foe (kāma eṣa krodha eṣa rajoguṇasamudbhavaḥ । mahāśano mahāpāpmā viddhyenamiha vairiṇam ॥ 3-37॥). Just as smoke envelopes fire. dust covers a mirror, the womb envelops the embryo, so is this covered (dhūmenāvriyate vahniryathādarśo malena ca । yatholbenāvṛto garbhastathā tenedamāvṛtam ॥ 3-38॥). Wisdom of the wise is enveloped by this constant enemy in the form of desire, unsatiated and all-consuming fire (āvṛtaṃ jñānametena jñānino nityavairiṇā । kāmarūpeṇa kaunteya duṣpūreṇānalena ca ॥ 3-39॥).  इन्द्रियाणि मनो बुद्धिरस्याधिष्ठानमुच्यते । एतैर्विमोहयत्येष ज्ञानमावृत्य देहिनम् ॥ ३-४०॥      तस्मात्त्वमिन्द्रियाण्यादौ नियम्य भरतर्षभ । पाप्मानं प्रजहि ह्येनं ज्ञानविज्ञाननाशनम् ॥ ३-४१॥ (40-41) It is said that the senses, cognition, intellect are its abode, it envelopes the wisdom of the embodied and deludes (indriyāṇi mano buddhirasyādhiṣṭhānamucyate । etairvimohayatyeṣa jñānamāvṛtya dehinam ॥ 3-40॥). Therefore, control your senses when stimuli comes and effectively overcome this wretched destroyer of knowledge of the Self and surrounding (tasmāttvamindriyāṇyādau niyamya bharatarṣabha । pāpmānaṃ prajahi hyenaṃ jñānavijñānanāśanam ॥ 3-41॥).  इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुरिन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनः । मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्यो बुद्धेः परतस्तु सः ॥ ३-४२॥      एवं बुद्धेः परं बुद्ध्वा संस्तभ्यात्मानमात्मना । जहि शत्रुं महाबाहो कामरूपं दुरासदम् ॥ ३-४३॥ (42-43) They say that the functioning of the senses is superior to the senses; the functioning of cognition is superior to cognition; the functioning of the intellect is superior to intellect; but superior to all is that (indriyāṇi parāṇyāhurindriyebhyaḥ paraṃ manaḥ । manasastu parā buddhiryo buddheḥ paratastu saḥ ॥ 3-42॥). Thus, use intelligence over the intellectual process, restrain the Self by the Self, overcome this enemy which comes in the form of desire (evaṃ buddheḥ paraṃ buddhvā saṃstabhyātmānamātmanā । jahi śatruṃ mahābāho kāmarūpaṃ durāsadam ॥ 3-43॥).  [...] Read more...
Constipation – Yoga therapy for digestion
Constipation – Yoga therapy for digestionTherapy – Yoga therapy for constipation. Acknowledgement – School of Yoga is deeply grateful to late Dr. V. Sivaraman for his collaboration of Yoga Therapy for constipation. School of Yoga explains – introduction to constipation. Constipation is the passage of hard bowel movements, usually less than 3 times a week, often painful. Also, it is important to understand that constipation is a symptom, not a disease. Consequently, this manifests as straining during bowel movement or experiencing an incomplete bowel evacuation due to hardening of the intestinal contents in the colon and large intestine. Lastly, constipation that is not treated can often lead to cancer, hemorrhoids or fissures. School of Yoga explains – role of digestion in constipation. To understand constipation, we need to understand the digestion process and how constipation fits in it. Digestion is the process of converting food, which contains large and complex compounds into simple, soluble and usable compounds. For example, starch is broken down into glucose, protein into amino acids and fat into fatty acids and glycerol. School of Yoga explains – the digestion process. First, food is chewed in the mouth. This breaks down large portions of food into small pieces called bolus. At the same time, this food is mixed with saliva. Saliva performs the function of softening the food, adding a lubricant called mucous and mixing in amylase, which breaks down starch into simpler sugars. Next, the food passes into the alimentary canal through a pulsating process called peristalsis. Peristalsis not only moves the bolus towards the stomach, but the squeezing action assists in breaking down the bolus further. Finally, the food enters the stomach at the cardiac end. Here, the stomach breaks the food further by mechanical churning and chemically by addition of gastric juices (Hydrochloric acid, pepsin and rennin). Simultaneously, some nutrients, such as vitamins, ethanol, glucose etc. get absorbed by the stomach. The semi-digested food, called chime is moved into the small intestine. The small intestine performs 2 functions: completion of digestion and absorption of products of digestion. First, the chyme enters the duodenum. Here, bile from the liver and pancreatic juice from the pancreas are added. Bile reduces the acidity of the chyme and emulsifies the fatty compounds. Simultaneously, pancreatic juices are added by the pancreas. These are pancreatic amylase (converts starch to maltose), trypsin (converts protein to peptides) and lipase (convert fat compounds into glycerol and patty acids). Next, the chyme moves into the ileum. Here intestinal juices, which are basically enzymes are secreted. Enzymes further break down maltose to glucose and trypsin into peptidase. Finally, the completely broken down food nutrients are absorbed by the villi in the ileum. The balance chyme, which is now devoid of nutrients passes into the large intestine. Here, the balance water is removed. Finally, the waste material is excreted is stored in the rectum and excreted through the anus. School of Yoga explains – root causes of constipation. Constipation occurs because stools are not evacuating regularly from the system. This results in excessive water being removed. Consequently, the stools become hard and difficult to evacuate. There are 3 reasons for this: Inadequate water in the diet resulting in hard stools. Sluggish peristalsis, resulting in slow movement of matter in the large intestine. This is on account of fibre content in the diet. There are 2 types of fibres, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is mainly a carbohydrate which helps lower cholesterol and improves blood sugar control. Insoluble fibre is a bulking agent which, along with soluble fibre helps move food in the intestine. When this component is reduced, movement of food in the intestine is impaired and becomes sluggish. Suppression of the urge to defecate which results in stools remaining in the intestines and getting hard. Anxiety tightens the abdominal muscles. This affects digestion and peristalsis. While there are multiple implications to anxiety, one of the outcomes could also be constipation. Constipation also occurs when there is anxiety and disturbance in the nerves of the lumbar and sacral region. This results in poor evacuation, feeling of incomplete evacuation, lack of control over evacuation, etc. Diet, bacteria in the intestine, type of fibre eaten, poor peristalsis and stress result in production of flatus or gas. This can make constipation more difficult and embarrassing to manage even though flatulence does not contribute to constipation but is a by-product of constipation. School of Yoga explains – solutions to constipation. Solution to constipation depends a lot on lifestyle, and age; The main component of solution for constipation is water intake. Drink at least 2 litres of water per day. Also, practice of “Usha Panam”, drinking a litre of water in the morning, on an empty stomach. This flushes the alimentary canal, induces peristalsis and forces evacuation of waste. Introduction of lime juice or coconut water in the diet increases the alkalinity in the stomach and assists in reducing acidity. This does not directly contribute to constipation, but alleviates the stress of acidity which is often a by-product of constipation. Next important component for resolving constipation is fibre in diet. The table below shows fibre content in each type of food. Some examples of fibre content Food group Serving mean Fiber g/serving Cooked dry beans (legumes) 0.5 cup 8 Dark-green vegetables 0.5 cup 6.4 Whole grains 28 g (1 oz) 2.4 Orange vegetables 0.5 cup 2.1 Starchy vegetables 0.5 cup 1.7 Other vegetables 0.5 cup 1.1 Fruit 0.5 cup 1.1 Meat 28 g (1 oz) 0.1 One can see that legumes, vegetables and grains have the best fibre contents while meat has the lowest. However, it is important to note that even in grains such as wheat, bran has better fibre content while maida is constipating. Also, when water content is reduced, all the above foods begin to dry up prematurely and constipate. Āsana can help substantially in bringing constipation under control by inducing peristalsis. Prāṇāyāma is critical for inducing peristalsis and energising the nerves in the lumbar and sacral regions. School of Yoga explains – the āsana plan. Beginner – 3 months – all āsana to be performed slowly and after OK from doctor. Intermediate – 3 months – all āsana to be performed only after improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 30 mins Final – all āsana to be performed only after substantial improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 45 mins Āsana Beginner Intermediate Final No Time frame 3 months 3 months thereafter 1 Padmāsana 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes 2 Trikonāsana 2 3 3 3 Pādahastāsana – 2 2 4 Vīrabhadrāsana 2 2 2 5 Bhujaṃgāsana (very important) 2 3 3 6 Śalabhāsana – 2 3 7 Dhanurāsana (very important) 2 3 3 8 Majriāsana 1 2 2 9 Pavanamuktāsana (very important) 2 3 3 10 Arda-halāsana 2 2 2 11 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi 5 minutes 5 minutes 10 minutes 12 Sarvāngāsana (very important) – – 5 minutes 13 Matsyāsana – – 1 x 10 counts 14 Arda-matsyendrāsana (important) 1 x 10 counts 2 x 10 counts 2 x 10 counts 15 Uḍḍīyana (very important) 1 x 5 counts 2 x 5 counts 3 x 10 counts 16 Nāḍī-śuddhi prāṇāyāma 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 17 Kapālabhātī (very important) 20 x 2 cycles 40 x 2 cycles 50 x 2 cycles 18 Śavāsana 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 19 Meditation – dhyāna (sit in silence and focus on the breath) 10 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes [...] Read more...
Awareness levels in a situation determines quality of response
Awareness levels in a situation determines quality of responseSchool of Yoga explains situational awareness (prajñā) and change: Stress is experienced when there is change as it disturbs the state of balance or homeostasis; in us or others. Consequently, there is stress and change in awareness levels until a fresh state of balance is reached. Importantly, the old level of awareness is never be re-established even after the situation has been resolved. This resets our conditioning and consequently, the variables which govern our state of homeostasis. School of Yoga explains situational awareness and conditioning (dharma): Stimulus enters through the senses and is compared with our conditioning or dharma.  Change impacts our sense of Self (asmitā) at 2 levels; our awareness in the situation (vijñāna) and awareness of the change to our self by the situation (jñāna). This, in turn changes our conditioning or dharma and the loop begins again. This constant interaction of conditioning (svadharma) and behaviour (svabhāva) is called personality (svatantra).  Example: We all watch movies. Whenever we go with friends or family, each person has a different view on how the movie was, whether he liked it, which his or her favourite character was and why. This is because; the movie impacts each of our svadharmas differently. This happens in difficult situations also, which is why, the impact of stress on each of us is different, which makes it very personal. How stress impacts us can be gauged from the impact the stimulus has on the hierarchy of needs as propounded by Abraham Maslow as explained in an earlier blog. Safety and security issues generally take priority over social issues. Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand awareness…  Assume the following events occur simultaneously – the landlord serves you with an eviction notice, your child suddenly develops fever, the cooking stove breaks down, your neighbour complains that your dog bit her cat, your favourite dress disappears and finally a wild-looking man, breaks into the house and threatens you with a gun. Until the wild-looking man is diffused, you will never be able to do anything else. The man affects your safety and he is completely out of your control. After he leaves, you will try to get the child to the doctor. But the car is required for this, so you will try to fix that. The child is a responsibility, it has no control over its ill-health and potentially affects your feeling of security. Finally, you would try to diffuse the neighbour because it affects your social needs, before leaving for the doctor. Everything else would be tackled later. School of Yoga – Conclusion: When we in multiple situations, we try to prioritise. Imagine if in the example above, the parent was to mix up priorities and start searching for the missing dress. There would be chaos and confusion, if not disaster. It is the here and now requirement that grabs precedence. Our ability to remain in the present and be able to recognize the priority of reality is key to our ability to manage stress. The best way to deal with change is to manage the experience as it unfolds. Once the coping action is managed in accordance with our conditioning or svadharma, there is an experience of harmony or homeostasis which is a feeling of peace or shanti. School of Yoga – Factors that affect situational awareness or prajñā: Will: The drive to affect the outcome in our favour. Genetic: These are the situation handling tools that we are born with. Conditioning: Environmental, culture, school background, home, etc., determines our ability to handle various situations. Classification: By nature, some situations are more difficult to manage than others. Example: The death of a close relative is more difficult to handle than an argument at a traffic signal. War is more difficult to handle than the discomfort like missing a meal or your favourite dish. Health: The current Physical, Intellectual and Emotional state determines the quality of our reactions. Risk taking: The ability to start an activity without a clear idea of the possible outcome differs between people. Self Esteem: Fear of failure, confidence, domain knowledge, personal support system and previous experience impact awareness. School of Yoga – Measure of progress in situational awareness: There are four levels of awareness (prajñā) in the path of situational awareness. Jāgrat (wakeful or transactional state) – Cognition in our situation.  Swapna (conceptual or dream state) – The audio and visual aspects of a situation which stay with us. Suṣupti (formless state) – when awareness reaches a state where form is not required to support existence, also known as formless or nir–rupa state. This is also the state where a person is completely in the present. This state is called sthithaprajñā by Sri Krishna in Chapter 2 of Srimad Bhagavad-Geeta. Turīya (state where no guṇa exists –nirguṇa state). Clearly, the turīya state is meant for mystics and not for daily application.  Awareness matrix. The three states will manifest as shown in the matrix. These are nine combinations of awareness which can be evaluated in a matrix shown above. The first name decides which level predominates. Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand awareness… (Wikipedia extract) Rosa Parks, an African America boarded a bus on 1 December 1955, in Montgomery, USA. She paid her fare and sat in the first row of seats reserved for blacks. As the bus travelled along, all the white-only seats in the bus filled up. At one stop, several white passengers boarded. Since 1900, Montgomery had a city ordinance segregating passengers by race. Conductors could assign seats to accomplish this. Therefore, the bus driver, seeing that the front of the bus had filled and that two or three whites were standing, demanded that Rosa Parks and other black people give up their seats. Rosa Parks refused. The driver called the police. Thereafter, Rosa Parks was arrested and jailed for not giving up her seat.  What were the changes to Rosa Parks state of awareness in the above situation? Fear – does it have a role in situational awareness? What were the fears that might have been experienced by Rosa Parks? Points to ponder on awareness; Internal Tags: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and situational Awareness, Stress and prana External Tags: Consciousness How close is the concept of Situational Awareness with Theory of Relativity? How does mass, time, light and space affect Situational Awareness? Can one assess progress in his or her awareness levels? How? Why is it so difficult to remain in the present? How can one improve one’s awareness of the present? How receptive are you to change? Do you often get impatient when the other person takes time to understand your point of view? Prioritisation – how do you prioritise when you are stressed? How do enhance your awareness and your coping actions. [...] Read more...
Pavanamuktasana – Air relieving Pose
Pavanamuktasana – Air relieving PoseSchool of Yoga explains Pavanamuktasana (Air Relieving Pose) School of Yoga explains – Technique 1: Single leg pavanamuktasana Sthithi (starting) position: Lie down on the back with hands to the sides. Breathing in, fold left leg at the knee and bring it towards the torso. Breathing out, grasp knee and press it downwards into the abdomen gently. Hold in place till exhalation has been completed and top of the thighs are completely pressing the abdomen. Hold for 10 counts. Breathing in, release knee, straighten and bring it to normal position. Repeat the process on the right leg. Repeat 3 to 6 times. The drishti (gaze) recommended is svadishtana-chakra. School of Yoga explains – Technique 2: Both legs pavanamuktasana Sthithi (starting) position: Lie down on the back with hands to the sides. Breathing in, fold both legs at the knee and bring it towards the torso. Breathing out, grasp both knees and press it downwards into the abdomen gently. Hold in place till exhalation has been completed and top of the thighs are completely pressing the abdomen. Hold for 10 counts. Breathing in, release knee, straighten and bring it to normal position. Repeat the process on the right leg. Repeat 3 to 6 times. The drishti (gaze) recommended is svadishtana-chakra School of Yoga explains – Pavanamuktasana benefits : This exercise is a very good starting point for people who are just beginning a yogasana exercise routine. The pressing down of the abdominal viscera is gradual and increases as flexibility increases in the person. Very good for increasing capillary circulation in the lower abdomen, increasing balance of secretion and absorption in the intestines and removing flatulence. This asana is also good for rejuvenating female reproductive system. Very good for treating flatulence, hyper acidity, gastritis and diabetes and all digestive ailments. Good for increasing flexibility of the lumbar region of the spine and strengthening the muscles of the lower back. School of Yoga explains – Pavanamuktasana contraindications:  Initially, one may experience difficulty in achieving complete pose. Go slow, over time, you will be able to compress legs into the abdomen completely. If you have any form of back ache, push yourself only to the point where there is no discomfort. When pain or discomfort starts, stop immediately. With practice, the back will begin to flex better. Since this exercise exerts pressure on the heart, people with cardiac concerns should perform this asana under supervision. This asana should not be practiced during menstruation or pregnancy. Some noteworthy points on pavanamuktasana: Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, One could use the upper arms to pull the knees into the abdomen; in this case, there is greater arching of the lumbar region and the hips leave the ground. Alternatively, one could use the forearms to press the knees into the abdomen; in this case the hips stay on the ground. Each impact a different area of the abdomen, but the use of the forearm to press the knee is a more effective pose. It is important to count when keeping the knees pressed into the abdomen. This facilitates the complete evacuation of the terminal portion of the small intestine into the large intestine. [...] Read more...
URT – Upper Respiratory Tract therapy
URT – Upper Respiratory Tract therapyURT – Upper respiratory tract Yoga therapy. Acknowledgement – School of Yoga is deeply grateful to Late Dr. V. Sivaraman for his collaboration of Yoga Therapy for Upper Respiratory Tract (URT) ailments. School of Yoga explains – Introduction to Respiration. Respiration consists of, Ventilation – or breathing is the movement of air from the atmosphere to the lungs (inhalation) and out (exhalation) again. External Respiration – is the exchange of gases across the respiratory membrane of the lungs. Gases Transport – is the transportation of O2 in the blood to various parts of the body, mainly bound to the protein haemoglobin in red blood cells. Internal Respiration – refers to gas exchange across any respiratory membrane during metabolism. Respiratory anatomy can be split into, Upper Respiratory Tract – mouth, nose, nasal cavity, sinuses, epiglottis and larynx Lower Respiratory Tract – trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, lungs and alveoli. School of Yoga explains – The respiration process. Part 1 – Flow of air into the nasal passage. First, air is sucked into the respiratory system through the nostril. How does this occur? The diaphragm is a muscle which separates the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity. In fact, it is anchored on the lower ribs. So, during inhalation, the diaphragm moves down, creating a negative pressure in the thoracic cavity. Consequently, this draws in air from the atmosphere. Next, the movement of the diaphragm is against the movement of the rib cage and abdomen. So, both systems expand to allow the downward movement of the diaphragm. As a result, a reverse pressure is created within the abdomen and rib which forces the diaphragm to move upwards again. Consequently, there is an upward movement of the diaphragm which changes the intra-thoracic pressure from negative to positive, resulting in air being forced out of the lungs. Importantly, breathing is a reflex action. Also, it is a parasympathetic process which is controlled by the medulla oblongata. In fact, the rate of breathing is dependent on the concentration of O2 / CO2 and blood ph. Additionally, the pons control the speed of inhalation (speed of the movement of the diaphragm). Part 2 – Flow of air and awareness. Initially, when breathing in, air crosses the sinuses. Uniquely, sinuses are pockets of air which secrete mucous into the nasal cavity through orifice called ostia. These open into small recesses called meati and are protected by shelf like projections called turbinates. Next, the incoming air is compressed at the bridge of the nose, called septum. This is a venturi like structure which results inthe air getting compressed when entering the nose. Therefore, due to the venturi effect in the septum, the air exits the septum into the nasal cavity under pressure which is lower than atmospheric pressure. Consequently, this causes the air to swirl within the nasal cavity. Meanwhile, the fins of the turbinator direct the swirl and split the incoming air. One part of the incoming air is guided by the nasal concha over the olfactory epithelium and activates the olfactory bulb. Next, the inferior concha guides air over the nasopharynx. This results in a resonating column effect within the auditory tube, which activates the middle ear.  Importantly, the sinuses are air-pockets, so they resonate to the flow of air and differential pressure between the nasal passage and sinus. Part 3 – URT dynamics. The result of the above movement of air is the creation of a resonance which results in an awareness of being alive. In fact, an most important part of the generation of this awareness are the sphenoid sinus and the auditory tube because they are directly in the passage of draft going into the oropharynx. There is a slight drop in temperature of the incoming air due to the venture effect, which is compensated by the warm air in the nasal cavity and sinuses. This is why, there is often condensate over the bridge of the nose and, also the reason for the nose being the coldest part of the face. Part 4 – URT flow of air into the pharynx. Now, the air now passes over the soft palate into the pharynx. The pharynx consists of 3 parts; Nasopharynx corresponds to the passage behind the nose, oropharynx corresponds to the passage behind the mouth and laryngo pharynx corresponds to the passage within the throat area. The pharyngeal muscles play a critical role in holding the throat, neck, blood vessel and cervical spine in place. Also, the pharangeal muscles hold the alignment of the nasal and oral passages so that passage of air and food is unrestricted.  Crucially, the soft palate and epiglottis play an important activity in digestion. During swallowing, the soft palate prevents the upward passage of food into the nasopharynx while the epiglottis covers the trachea. Consequently, the food gets guided into the oesophagus, so the no food enters either the wind pipe or the nasal area. There are 4 sets of tonsils in the pharynx – adenoids in the nasopharynx, palatine tonsils in the oropharynx, lingual tonsils in the tongue area, and tubal tonsils in the nasopharynx. In fact, tonsils are lymphoid tissue and also, the body’s first responders to infection.          Blood supply to the URT area comes from the carotid artery and jugular vein.               The laryngopharnx splits into 2 tubes – the esophagus to transport food and the larynx to transport air. Also, the first part of the larynx comprises the vocal chord and thyroid. Therefore, as the air enters the trachea, it passes over the vocal chords. The thyroid, a critical endocrine organ is placed in front of the trachea. Part 5 – The lymph system.           Lymph system is a passive system which performs which acts as a sentinel to protect the respiratory and digestive tract. Firstly, the lymph system performs 4 functions – transport of clean fluid back to the blood, drain excess fluid from tissue, remove debris from cells and transport fat from the digestive system. Next, the movement of lymph is by milking action of the muscles and gravity. In fact, this fluid returns to the circulatory veins near the heart through the right lymphatic duct and thoracic duct. Lastly, lymph fluid is collected at the lymph nodes. These nodes perform 2 functions – housing of microphages which engulf and destroy foreign substances and production of lymphocytes which protect the body from infection. Lymphatic function is also supported by spleen, thymus (in thorax), tonsils and peyer’s patches in the walls of the small intestine. School of Yoga explains – URT Health. The URT is affected by the following parameters; Air – atmospheric air enters the body through the nose and mouth. So, poor quality of air can induce infection. Therefore, to prevent this, the first line of defence are the tonsils. In fact, tonsils are lymphoid tissue which try to trap and destroy antigens.  Food and water – Next, diseases borne by food and water are also handled by the tonsils. However, since food and watertravel into the alimentary canal, there is further protection in the small intestine in the form of peyer’s patches. Temperature – Essentially, optimum air and food temperature ensure the maintainance of the health of the URT tissue.  School of Yoga explains – solutions to URT Health using Yoga. It is obvious that the Upper Respiratory Tract (URT) is one of the most critical areas of the body. In fact, tt is an intricately designed system of symbiotic structures. However, these parts also have with maximum exposure to infection and abuse. Hence, the health of this system is critical.  The health of the URT may be divided into the following areas; Increased resistance to air and water infection by strengthening the adenoids and the pharynx. Viparīta-karaṇī, sarvāngāsana, matsyāsana, nāḍī-śuddhi, bhramarī, ujjeyī and bhastrikā prāṇāyāma are critical. Increasing strength and flexibility of the pharyngeal muscles. Arda-matsyendrāsana, śirasāsana, viparīta-karaṇī, sarvāngāsana, matsyāsana and ujjeyī prāṇāyāma address this aspect. Any activity to increase health of the URT will require improvement in the health of the thyroid. Viparīta-karaṇī, sarvāngāsana, matsyāsana, bhramarī, ujjeyī and bhastrikā prāṇāyāma are critical. Breathing is a psychosomatic process which affects the overall health of the body. Hence it is important to ensure breathing is deep, regular and rhythmic to ensure that stress is eliminated from the system. Nāḍī-śuddhi prāṇāyāma and dhyāna are important. It is important that the practitioner also keep a clean digestive system as it affects the breathing cycle. Pavanamuktāsana, śalabhāsana and dhanurāsana are critical.  Impact of allergies. Importantly, to optimise the health of the URT, one should avoid food which causes allergies. Diet – eat small and multiple meals as this affects the movement of the diaphragm and in turn, rhythm of breathing. Weight – bring weight down to recommended levels. Water – drink plenty of water. Sleep – affects stress and catabolic rebuilding of the body and homeostasis. School of Yoga explains – the plan. Beginner – 3 months – all āsana to be performed slowly and after OK from doctor. Intermediate – 3 months – all āsana to be performed only after improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 30 mins Final – all āsana to be performed only after substantial improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 45 mins Āsana Beginner Intermediate Final No Time frame 3 months 3 months thereafter 1 Padmāsana 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes 2 Trikonāsana 2 2 2 3 Pādahastāsana 2 2 2 4 Bhujaṃgāsana 2 3 3 5 Śalabhāsana 2 2 3 6 Dhanurāsana 2 3 3 7 Pavanamuktāsana 2 3 3 8 Arda-halāsana 2 2 2 9 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi (very important) 5 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes 10 Sarvāngāsana (very important) 3 minutes 5 minutes 10 minutes 11 Matsyāsana (very important) – – 1 x 10 counts 12 Arda-matsyendrāsana 1 x 10 counts 2 x 10 counts 2 x 10 counts 13 Śirasāsana (optional) – 3 minutes 5 minutes 14 Uḍḍīyana-bandhā 1 x 5 counts 2 x 5 counts 3 x 10 counts 15 Nāḍī-śuddhi prāṇāyāma (important) 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 16 Ujjeyī (very important) 3 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 17 Bhastrikā (important) 10 cycles 15 cycles 20 cycles 18 Śavāsana 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 19 Meditation – dhyāna (sit in silence and focus on the breath – very important) 10 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes [...] Read more...
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 4 (jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga)
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 4 (jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga)Acknowledgement. School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga (yoga of renunciation of the Self in action). Introduction. What is jñāna? Jñāna means “knowledge of the Self”. Here, jñāna-yoga means that knowledge which yokes a person’s awareness of the Self to brahman. What is karma? Karma means action. In this chapter, Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains how action can be performed without accruing debt (ṛṇa). What is sannyāsa? Sannyāsa means renunciation. Synopsis. We have seen in chapter 1, Arjuna experiences deep melancholy at having to fight his kinsmen. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, after chiding him, tells him that his logic is incorrect and explains the philosophy of living in chapter 2 (sāṃkhya-yoga). Following this, in chapter 3, Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains karma-yoga or the attitude with which action must be performed, so that no debt is accrued. In this chapter, Śrī Kṛṣṇa starts by speaking about his own origin and role in creation. Then, he delves into the qualities of action (karma) and sacrifice (yajña). The central message, as depicted in the heading is, that action should be performed for merger (yoga) of the Self with the Brahman (jñāna) and this is possible only with an attitude of renunciation (sannyāsa) when performing action as a sacrifice (yajña). Therefore, the chapter 4 covers knowledge of karma and its renunciation through sacrifice of one’s action (yajña). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga (verse 1 – 15). Arjuna’s doubt. Śrī Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna that he taught yoga to the Sun. Arjuna, sceptical, counters that this would not be possible because the Sun came before him, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains many things about himself, and moves away from the image of a person he had projected himself to be and shows himself to be different. What is Śrī Kṛṣṇa saying about himself in this chapter? In this chapter, Śrī Kṛṣṇa reveals himself and these need to be understood. I taught yoga to the Sun who taught it to the world. I existed before everything (verse 1-4). “I can control prakṛti and creation”. So, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is indicating that he is a trigger and control for creation prakṛti. However, it is unclear what he means by calling himself Lord of all beings and his relationship to Brahman (Ch 4 verse 6). When natural state (dharma) decays and there is increase in chaos (adharma), I embody myself. For protection of the virtuous and destruction of wicked and for re-establishment of natural balance I take birth in every era. This is borne out by the ten avatāras of Viṣṇu in dasa-avatāra (verse 7-8). Śrī Kṛṣṇa seems to be indicating that his permanent state is not material, but a transient or trigger state between Brahman and maya, one that allows free movement between the two states. “In whatever way people approach me, I reward those people who follow my path only”. Śrī Kṛṣṇa asserts in verse 14 and verse 35 that submission to him is akin to submission to Brahman (verse 11). “Four categories of people are created by me based on their orientation to action (guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ), also know that though I am also the initiator, I am not engaged and imperishable”. This is a confusing verse – are the categories (varṇa) created by him, people or both. This also separates him from the motility aspect of Brahman (verse 13). “Actions do not taint me, nor do I desire the fruits of action, thus those that know me are not bound by actions”. Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that like him, that anyone merging with Brahman becomes Brahman (verse 14). Not knowing this one will commit to delusion repeatedly, by this all beings see in their Self me also. Śrī Kṛṣṇa reinforces the message that when the practitioner merges with Brahman, there is no difference between him and the practitioner. Clearly, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is saying that he has merged with Brahman (verse 35). Conclusion: Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā cannot be viewed as a person. He has to be looked upon as a yogī who has reached the highest levels of Yoga. Also, it is dangerous to view Śrī Kṛṣṇa as a role model for modern living, because throughout Mahabharata he is engaged in destroying a society that has been built on a particular tradition with a capability that is out of the envelope of normal existence. Hence, it is advisable for one to extract lessons from the Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā and find his or her own solutions to achieving perfection in yoga.  School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga, (verse 16 – 22). When performing, one should be cognisant of prohibited action and be aware of action in inaction. He who perceives action in inaction and inaction in action is wise among men and in complete union in all action.  Start all undertakings without desire or expectation and abandon fruits of effort. Also, be ever content and not dependent on anything when engaged in action.  That person who acts with an integrated consciousness and sense of self-worth (asmita), abandons all commission (ahaṅkāra), using only the body for performing action, gets no injustice. Such a person is content with whatever profit come spontaneously, is free from opposites, unselfish, always balanced in success and failure and not bound by actions. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga, (verse 19-23). Action (karma) occurs everywhere, even when one thinks that they are not acting. There are three types of action, approved action (karma), inaction (akarma) and prohibited action (vikarma). Approved action is that which is in conformance with dharma (natural state), inaction is that which occurs when we think we are not acting and prohibited action is that which causes chaos (adharma). Hence, to understand action and transcend it (jñāna-karma-yoga), one must act with awareness of the self (prajñā) when engaged in action (karma). These include; performing action as a sacrifice abandoning fruits of action and commissions being content with whatever outcome occurs, balanced in success and failure acting without expectations, not being attached to outcome being free from opposites, unselfish integrating consciousness (citta) with Self (ātman). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga. Dharma. The key factors for achieving jñāna-karma-yoga are; acting according to dharma, avoiding duality in action, remaining in equanimity during and after action and having no attachments to the outcome. The starting point of approved action (karma) is practice of dharma in action. But, what is dharma? We are at peace in certain situations but become agitated in other situations. The contributing factors which underpin our ability to be in a natural state of peace is our dharma. These factors will vary for each individual or entity. Whenever we get stimulus that is congruent to this natural state, we remain in our natural state (dharma) and respond peacefully/ in harmony. Conversely, when we get stimulus that is out of congruence with our natural state, our balance gets disturbed and we go into a state of agitation or chaos (adharma).  Thus, dharma, which can also be referred to as natural state or conditioning, and is the basis on which we decide whether we like or dislike something, and also the basis of our response (karma). Hence, we can say that dharma (conditioning) is that core aspect of our personality which drives decision-making as well as our responses or action (karma) and consequently our sense of self-worth (asmita). Importantly embedded in dharma are other decision-factors such as, avoiding duality in action, remaining in equanimity during and after action and having no attachments to the outcome. This is the importance of dharma and acting in accordance with that deep internal harmony. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga. Dharma concept. Let us look at how we develop our natural state (dharma) and what makes each of us different! We are like computers! First, we get our DNA from our parents. When we are born, we only know how to cry, eat, sleep and perform basic body functions. Next, our parents load us with values and ability to live in society, this becomes our operating systems and forms the basis of our decision parameters. Also, schools augment our values with knowledge, while society help us integrate into a network that is fundamentally hierarchical. So, our Identity and approach to life becomes defined by a personalised and unique decision-making framework. We judge everything and everyone based on this conditioning. This conditioning or value system is our natural state of balance, where we are at peace and is called dharma. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga. Categorisation of dharma. Generic natural state or sāmānya-dharma. Generic natural state or sāmānya-dharma can be defined as those characteristics which are common to any family of entities. For example: Gold has specific characteristics which are different from lead or silver. However, all of them come under a common category of metals. All metals have a common natural state and this is called sāmānya-dharma. Similarly, metals as a category, exhibit characteristics which are different from animals, trees, fishes or humans. This specific defining character which defines each category, family or genus is called sāmānya-dharma.  Specific natural state or viśeṣa-dharma. Specific natural state or viśeṣa-dharma is the natural state of individual entities within a family of entities. For example: Within metals, gold is different from copper, silver or iron. In wood, teak is different from oak or rubber. The family of wood will conform to a generic or sāmānya-dharma. However, the unique natural state (viśeṣa-dharma) of teak will be different from oak, elm or rosewood. This logic can be expanded in multiple directions. For instance, the unique natural state (viśeṣa-dharma) of a table will be different from that of a chair or sofa, even though they may both be made from the same tree. Thus, all tables will exhibit a unique natural state, regardless of the material used to make them. In fact, this concept is applicable to all entities. A heart has a unique natural state, regardless of the body. It cannot do the job of the stomach, even though both may be in the same body.  Individual natural state or sva-dharma. Each of us behaves differently. This is on account of conditioning brought about by DNA, family, upbringing, societal norms, diet and habits. Consequently, this allows individuals to select information, analyse and process it in a unique manner and behave in the way they do. This specific characteristics of capability at an individual level is called svadharma (sva = self + dharma = conditioning). Universal natural state or sanātana-dharma. Dharma covers all animate and inanimate entities, including planets, galaxies and nations. Everything can be classified under generic (sāmānya), unique (viśeṣa) or personal (svadharma) natural state. This concept is universal in its applicability; hence it is called universal-natural-state or sanātana-dharma. For example – the natural state of the earth is position, shape, atmosphere and ability to sustain life. In the case of a nation, its dharma can possibly be its constitution, flag, states, people etc. Now, the important question – what is the relationship between dharma and jñāna-karma? All our actions (karma) are determined by conditioning (dharma)! Let’s look at some examples, As humans, we exhibit certain characteristics that make us humans. As individuals, we behave uniquely because we have unique DNA and are brought up in a certain way, therefore exhibit specific responses to stimuli. Similarly, everything we do, including how we drink water, eat food or choose and drive a car are unique to us and exhibit specific capabilities, characteristics and responses. Why is this important? this means that almost all that we do, think or say comes from being conditioned (dharma), so to achieve jñāna-karma, we will first need to transcend our notions of right-wrong, good-bad, like-dislike and get comfortable with a state of treating everything without prior judgement. It is aso important to recognise that unless all three aspects of generic (sāmānya), unique (viśeṣa) or personal (svadharma) are in their natural state, there can be no peace. For all entities, this means that all must institute an intrinsic process of dumping baggage that is no longer relevant in order to ensure that responses are relevant to the current stimulus. So, memory is not always an asset and must be purged regularly. The question is, can we transcend dharma? When conditioning drives so much of our comfort levels, do we have any free will to change? Śrī Kṛṣṇa say that this is possible through sacrifice (yajña). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga (verse 24 – 42). What is sacrifice (yajña)?  Brahman sacrifices to Brahman, the offering is to the fire of the Brahman, the offering is made only by Brahman, the end result is achieved by effort of one who is absorbed in meditation of Brahman. Some sacrifice to their deities, yogīs worship the fire of Brahman, others offer sacrifice as a sacrifice. Organ of hearing and other senses in the fire of self-restraint are sacrificed, sources of sound and others are sacrificed in the fire of the senses. Yet others sacrifice all functions of the senses and movements of vital air (prāṇa), and others sacrifice restraint of the Self in the fire of yoga. People also sacrifice materials, self-restraint, yoga as a sacrifice, yet others sacrifice knowledge gained by self-study, as do ascetics and people who practice great vows.  In the outgoing breath people sacrifice incoming breath, yet others sacrifice incoming breath in the outgoing breath controlling the speed of incoming and outgoing breath, restraining it becomes the principal focus. Others regulate food intake or sacrifice vital air in the incoming breath also all these that know sacrifice get their impurities destroyed by sacrifice. There are many forms of sacrifice spread across the spectrum of Brahman which are produced by action. Superior to sacrifice of materials is sacrifice of knowledge, all action culminates in knowledge (jñāna). This subtle knowledge can be achieved by prostration, by questioning and by service. Then wise people will teach you the knowledge of reaching the Truth. Not knowing this one will commit to delusion repeatedly, but by this, all beings see me in their Self also.  Just as a blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, the fire of knowledge reduces all actions to ashes. Verily, nothing is as pure as wisdom in this world and this has been discovered over time by yogīs who have achieved total perfection. Those that are sincere and dedicated obtain wisdom when they are totally, eagerly engaged subduing the senses have obtained wisdom, they obtain supreme peace quickly. The sacrifice (yajña) process. What is sacrifice (yajña)? Sacrifice is the willingness to give a part of oneself for a purpose without expectation of return. From first principles:  All sacrifice comes from Brahman. First, from Brahman, puruṣa (primordial Identity or Self) and prakṛti (primordial manifestation or energy) emerge.  Next, puruṣa tries to project its own Identity or self-worth (asmitā).  Additionally, this projection is in the form of an awareness called citta (consciousness). Furthermore, citta (consciousness) is a medium, a carrier of experience. It is inert and is the carrier of motility (prāṇa) as well as sentiment (bhāva). Sentiment is an expression of puruṣa. Lastly, the motility and sentiment (bhāva) element are provided by prakṛti in the form of guṇa (attributes). So, puruṣa (experiencer) is the static element and prakṛti is the dynamic element. Puruṣa and prakṛti weave with each other, this weave is called tantra and the outcome is called karma. All actions (karma) result in imbalance between the entities (ātman) and this results in debt (ṛṇa) which needs to be reconciled. Since the Self (ātman) is holding the debt, the only way to escape rebirth (saṃsāra) is to remove the Self from the action and this is done by sacrifice (yajña). It is important to realise the sacrifice is also an action (karma), except that it is a regression action on the Self, as sacrifice results in the Self becoming less dependent on the environment for supporting its self-worth (asmitā). But, to what extent is sacrifice possible? What is the span and extent of our free-will? To what extent do we control the process of acting and sacrifice, considering the impact of dharma? Free-will – what is it, does it exist and to what extent does it impact us? If everything is dictated by prior debt that has come for reconciliation (prārabdha-karma), then do we control the outcome of anything? Also, Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that even if we do not act, prakṛti will force action to preserve itself. So, do we have control over creation of karma and debt (ṛṇa)? Firstly, this means that any action which is driven by conscious or unconscious impact of dharma is not free-will or ability to act on self-will. Importantly, this includes most of our daily activities such as… Natural actions, which includes breathing, eating, sleeping etc. Major relationships, such as with parents, siblings, offspring, friends, colleagues and situations that occur on account of prārabdha-karma and occur due to the need for reconciliation of debt (ṛṇa). Our own reactions to stimuli that are driven by DNA, familial and societal conditioning. This can also be extended to include actions of societies, nations and the earth. So, does this mean that our normal actions are not governed by free-will? This is because we do not act, but react. So, does free-will exist? If it does, what is free-will? First, let us hypothesise free-will to be any action where a person responds to stimulus solely on the strength of his or her own individuality (svatantra) and that there is no influence of any kind on the person during the act. Importantly, if free-will does not exist, then how are we to implement anything that Śrī Kṛṣṇa recommends in the Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā? Going by Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s assertion, let us assume that free-will exists somewhere, that we need to find it and understand its power in order to be able to initiate the sacrifice process. Let us go back to first principles. The creation of anything comes from nothing. This is the Brahman. Next, the only logical starting point of anything is nothing because even if we were to consider an argument of “God” having started the process, “God” is also something, we then need to figure out where “God” came from and how that “God” got the ability to generate materiality. This state where something can come from can only be nothing. Next, nothing can exist in two forms – as null or as infinity, both states are the same, only the experience is different. Then Brahman experiences an atemporal vibration called spandana and becomes aware of its own existence (prajñā). This is not free-will because if free will existed, Brahman could have stopped spandana from manifesting. Can Brahman stop spandana from manifesting? Brahman cannot stop atemporal vibration (spandana) from occurring, because it occurs without stimulus, from a primordial need for self-expression. We know that self-expression (bhāva) occurs spontaneously, without stimulus. The entity that emerges is puruṣa (Identity). Manifestation results in awareness of three experiences by puruṣa – (1) excitement at the awareness of its own existence (2) anxiety as to what this awareness is and (3) anxiety also because it does not want to lose this new awareness.  This insecurity forces puruṣa to manifest in order to experience its awareness of itself and confirm its existence.  From Brahman, emerges prakṛti (manifestation in the form of guṇa or attributes) and it weaves with puruṣa (Primordial Identity or experiencer). This leads to the formation of materiality, Universe etc. This is not free-will, but a result of the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti which is tantra. For example, a body will remain in a state of rest unless acted upon by an external force. The state of rest is tamas, the external force is rajas and the point when the ball achieves a balance between tamas and rajas is sattva or harmony. The state of inertia or tamas is a state of no-action, passion (rajas) is action propelled by desire and harmonic (sattva) is the state of approved action. None of these states are free-will. Free-will also conforms to quantum mechanics. When a ball is in a state of rest, the interatomic/ intermolecular bonds are in a particular state, acted upon only by gravity, which slowly alters the state of the ball itself. This change in state is not within the control of the ball, but the inter and intra-atomic/ molecular bonds refuse to release their relationships and resist. This resistance to change in current state is free-will because the entities experience a primordial fear of loss of Identity. However, it is important to note that Brahman, while providing the base for motility is intrinsically inert. Brahman does not participate in the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti, the creation of matter and energy, which is māyā (illusion).  So, the fundamental foundation of nothingness (state of peace) which is Brahman and an awareness of that state (prajñā) does not change. Consequently, we can establish that free-will state exists only in the pure state of Brahman because everything else is derived or comes from fear of loss of Identity.   All matter else is an outcome of karma, which also means that all materiality (māyā) is a zone where there is no free-will. So, why is there no free-will outside of Brahman? We have seen that puruṣa, prakṛti and karma come out of a fear of loss of existence or relevance. From karma comes conditioning (dharma). So, whenever we act, it is generally in conformance to conditioning (dharma). Also, when we move out of conditioning (dharma), we experience anxiety of loss of sense of existence or anxiety to self-worth (asmitā). This generally forces us back into our zone of comfort (dharma). Let us look at some examples. UK was a superpower. In fact, there was a time when UK controlled almost everything controllable by humans on Earth. Would they have let control go voluntarily? Of course not! Then what happened? How were they unable to exercise their will and continue to be a world-power? If free-will existed, there would be no disease, decay and death. After all, who will die willingly? Also, why do we fight death and try to stay alive? Why do we not succeed? Try this experiment – sit comfortably and breathe normally. Just observe the breath and ensure that there is no change in flow, breakages or agitation. You will quickly find out that maintaining this quality of breath is impossible for more than a minute. Experiment 2 – when walking, breath-in for 4-steps, hold for 2-steps, exhale for 4-steps and retain for 2-steps. You will notice that it is impossible to maintain a sustained breath control. Why is it so difficult to exercise free-will? To what extent can we control actions and affect outcome? The starting point is a realisation comes that free-will is a mirage and control over outcome and self are difficult. So, the scope of free-will is confined to reducing impact on self-worth when performing action (karma). When response is in the form of sacrifice (yajña) or action without expectation of return, then awareness of self-worth (jñāna) increases. This reduces fear of loss of identity (asmitā) and increases tranquillity (Brahman). How should one be able to activate free will? It won’t be easy because the scope is so limited… Start by not reacting, let go the moment and be selective in the responses. Then, start sacrificing things that don’t matter much and slowly, Try to implement all the sacrifices that Śrī Kṛṣṇa. How to increase free-will through sacrifice (yajña). Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that all sacrifice (yajña) comes from Brahman. Since the source of sacrifice is Brahman, any and everything can be sacrificed. So, there are infinite opportunity for sacrifice. This also means that all action (karma) can also be sacrificed. The only question that remains, do we have the ability to sacrifice and to what extent do we control the process? Obviously, each of us has some ability to give up material and other aspects, and this might be a good starting point. Start by sacrificing anything that generates least anxiety. Sacrifice that baggage. Importantly, once the easy ones are sacrificed, be alert that the ones that were sacrificed don’t creep back on you. The interesting thing about sacrificing low hanging fruit, relationship and power related entities is that it prepares one mentally for more sacrifices. But, sacrificing also gets harder as one begins pushing the limits of conditioning (dharma). Sacrifice of things that we are attached to impact our self-esteem (asmitā), this fear of loss of self-esteem brings out severe reactions of anxiety and passion. This makes jettisoning of baggage harder. Sacrifice is also required for acquisition of knowledge, because from knowledge comes discrimination (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya), which helps in subduing one’s self-worth (asmitā). This is also possible at the feet of gurus who have the knowledge, experience and expertise to help the practitioner in understanding sacrifice (yajña). With sacrifice, all action becoming non-personal resulting in; Destruction of the self (ātman) and consequently debt (prārabdha-karma or previous debt), because debt is attached to the Self and if the Self is destroyed, there is no place where debt may be accrued. Consequently, there is disruption of cycle of rebirth. Increased dispassion (vairāgya) makes the person become less afraid of consequences of action, less judgemental of outcome, The person also accepts change with less resistance and consequently becomes more tranquil. School of Yoga explains some contradictions to accepted positions.  Do we have free will? This is the intrinsic question that this chapter raises. We would like to think that we have the ability to make a choice, but is that a reality? The answer to this vexing question is probably “Yes, if we do not react to stimulus”. Lessons from Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga. The business of material life is all about understanding action (karma). Also, the practice of sustainable and responsible living is woven into the Indian ethos. School of Yoga explains yajña or sacrifice and Bhārat’s culture. Yajña in deeply woven into the psyche of Bhārat or India – one of the yajñas performed ritually in Bhārat is called pañca-mahā–yajñas (five major sacrifices) which a person is supposed to follow every day. These comprise deva-yajña (sacrifice to one’s deity), ṛṣi-yajña (sacrifice to the seers, those that gave Bhārat her civilisation), pitṛ–yajña (sacrifice to one’s ancestors), bhūta-yajña (sacrifice to all beings), manuṣya-yajña (sacrifice to other humans).  What is manuṣya-yajña or sacrifice to other humans? It is participating in their welfare and this includes their journey through life, such as marriage, birth, celebrations, reversals, deaths etc. in a manner that gives them pleasure, peace and happiness but without expectation of return. This participation, since it is a sacrifice must be centred on the other person and include respecting their privacy. Manuṣya-yajña generally follows various rites as given below. The rites and rituals practiced in India are called ṣoḍaśa-saṃskāras (sixteen rites). Read more @ https://www.worldhindunews.com/16-sanskar-in-hinduism/ (link enclosed). One can also perform ritual sacrifice and this has been excellently enunciated @ http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Yajna (link enclosed). The transliteration and translation of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 4, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga follows. The Sanskrit words are in red italics. श्रीभगवानुवाच । इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम् । विवस्वान्मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्ष्वाकवेऽब्रवीत् ॥ ४-१॥ एवं परम्पराप्राप्तमिमं राजर्षयो विदुः । स कालेनेह महता योगो नष्टः परन्तप ॥ ४-२॥ स एवायं मया तेऽद्य योगः प्रोक्तः पुरातनः । भक्तोऽसि मे सखा चेति रहस्यं ह्येतदुत्तमम् ॥ ४-३॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (1-3) I taught this imperishable yoga to the Sun who taught it to Manu, who taught it to īkṣvāku (imaṃ vivasvate yogaṃ proktavānahamavyayam । vivasvānmanave prāha manurikṣvākave’bravīt ॥ 4-1॥). Thus, this was handed down through the generations of royal seers who knew it but over time and long period this yoga has been lost (evaṃ paramparāprāptamimaṃ rājarṣayo viduḥ । sa kāleneha mahatā yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa ॥ 4-2॥). This yoga also, that I teach you today, has been known since ancient times to devotees and since you are my friend, so I am revealing this supreme secret to you (sa evāyaṃ mayā te’dya yogaḥ proktaḥ purātanaḥ । bhakto’si me sakhā ceti rahasyaṃ hyetaduttamam ॥ 4-3॥).  अर्जुन उवाच । अपरं भवतो जन्म परं जन्म विवस्वतः । कथमेतद्विजानीयां त्वमादौ प्रोक्तवानिति ॥ ४-४॥ Arjuna asked (4) You were born after the Sun. How am I to comprehend that you taught this in the beginning of times? (aparaṃ bhavato janma paraṃ janma vivasvataḥ । kathametadvijānīyāṃ tvamādau proktavāniti ॥ 4-4॥). श्रीभगवानुवाच । बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि जन्मानि तव चार्जुन । तान्यहं वेद सर्वाणि न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप ॥ ४-५॥ अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोऽपि सन् । प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय सम्भवाम्यात्ममायया ॥ ४-६॥ (5-6) Śrī Kṛṣṇa said – I have taken many births just like you but unlike you, remember them all (bahūni me vyatītāni janmāni tava cārjuna । tānyahaṃ veda sarvāṇi na tvaṃ vettha parantapa ॥ 4-5॥). I am an imperishable soul, the Lord of all beings also, since I control the emergence of prakṛti, I can create the illusion of my own existence (ajo’pi sannavyayātmā bhūtānāmīśvaro’pi san । prakṛtiṃ svāmadhiṣṭhāya sambhavāmyātmamāyayā ॥ 4-6॥).  यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत । अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥ ४-७॥ परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् । धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥ ४-८॥ (7-8) When natural state decays and there is increase in chaos, I embody myself (yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānirbhavati bhārata । abhyutthānamadharmasya tadātmānaṃ sṛjāmyaham ॥ 4-7॥). For protection of the virtuous and destruction of wicked and for re-establishment of natural balance, I take birth in every era (paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṃ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām । dharmasaṃsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge ॥ 4-8॥). जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः । त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर्जन्म नैति मामेति सोऽर्जुन ॥ ४-९॥ वीतरागभयक्रोधा मन्मया मामुपाश्रिताः । बहवो ज्ञानतपसा पूता मद्भावमागताः ॥ ४-१०॥ (9-10) He who understands my divine activities in its subtleties, when he abandons his body stops having further births and comes to me (janma karma ca me divyamevaṃ yo vetti tattvataḥ । tyaktvā dehaṃ punarjanma naiti māmeti so’rjuna ॥ 4-9॥). Freed from attachment, fear, anger, absorbed in me and taking refuge in me, many who have sacrificed their knowledge of the Self have attained my state (vītarāgabhayakrodhā manmayā māmupāśritāḥ । bahavo jñānatapasā pūtā madbhāvamāgatāḥ ॥ 4-10॥). ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम् । मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः ॥ ४-११॥ काङ्क्षन्तः कर्मणां सिद्धिं यजन्त इह देवताः । क्षिप्रं हि मानुषे लोके सिद्धिर्भवति कर्मजा ॥ ४-१२॥ (11-12) In whatever way people approach me, I reward those people who follow my path only (ye yathā māṃ prapadyante tāṃstathaiva bhajāmyaham । mama vartmānuvartante manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ ॥ 4-11॥). Sacrifice longing for success in action to the deivas quickly, because in this human world, success is achieved when there is action (kāṅkṣantaḥ karmaṇāṃ siddhiṃ yajanta iha devatāḥ । kṣipraṃ hi mānuṣe loke siddhirbhavati karmajā ॥ 4-12॥). चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागशः । तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम् ॥ ४-१३॥ न मां कर्माणि लिम्पन्ति न मे कर्मफले स्पृहा । इति मां योऽभिजानाति कर्मभिर्न स बध्यते ॥ ४-१४॥ एवं ज्ञात्वा कृतं कर्म पूर्वैरपि मुमुक्षुभिः । कुरु कर्मैव तस्मात्त्वं पूर्वैः पूर्वतरं कृतम् ॥ ४-१५॥ (13-15) The are four categories of people are created by me based on their orientation to action (guṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ), also know that though I am also the initiator, I am not engaged and imperishable (cāturvarṇyaṃ mayā sṛṣṭaṃ guṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ । tasya kartāramapi māṃ viddhyakartāramavyayam ॥ 4-13॥), Actions do not taint me, nor do I desire the fruits of action, thus those that know me are not bound by actions (na māṃ karmāṇi limpanti na me karmaphale spṛhā । iti māṃ yo’bhijānāti karmabhirna sa badhyate ॥ 4-14॥). Thus, having known how fervent ancient seekers of the Truth performed karma, perform karma as the ancients did (evaṃ jñātvā kṛtaṃ karma pūrvairapi mumukṣubhiḥ । kuru karmaiva tasmāttvaṃ pūrvaiḥ pūrvataraṃ kṛtam ॥ 4-15॥). किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिताः । तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात् ॥ ४-१६॥ कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मणः । अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः ॥ ४-१७॥ कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म यः । स बुद्धिमान्मनुष्येषु स युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत् ॥ ४-१८॥ (16 – 18) What is action, what is inaction, which deludes even the poets? I shall teach you, knowing which you can achieve liberation from that which is inappropriate (kiṃ karma kimakarmeti kavayo’pyatra mohitāḥ । tatte karma pravakṣyāmi yajjñātvā mokṣyase’śubhāt ॥ 4-16॥). Also, should be known of action, as should be known prohibited action and knowledge of inaction, because action is deep (karmaṇo hyapi boddhavyaṃ boddhavyaṃ ca vikarmaṇaḥ । akarmaṇaśca boddhavyaṃ gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ ॥ 4-17॥). He who perceives action in inaction and inaction in action is wise among men and in complete union in all action (karmaṇyakarma yaḥ paśyedakarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ । sa buddhimānmanuṣyeṣu sa yuktaḥ kṛtsnakarmakṛt ॥ 4-18॥). यस्य सर्वे समारम्भाः कामसङ्कल्पवर्जिताः । ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणं तमाहुः पण्डितं बुधाः ॥ ४-१९॥ त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गं नित्यतृप्तो निराश्रयः । कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि नैव किञ्चित्करोति सः ॥ ४-२०॥ (19-20) He who starts all undertakings without desire or expectation, whose action have been tempered in the fire of knowledge is called a wise scholar (yasya sarve samārambhāḥ kāmasaṅkalpavarjitāḥ । jñānāgnidagdhakarmāṇaṃ tamāhuḥ paṇḍitaṃ budhāḥ ॥ 4-19॥). He who has abandoned fruits of effort, is ever content and not dependent on anything when engaged in action, truly he does nothing (tyaktvā karmaphalāsaṅgaṃ nityatṛpto nirāśrayaḥ । karmaṇyabhipravṛtto’pi naiva kiñcitkaroti saḥ ॥ 4-20॥). निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः । शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् ॥ ४-२१॥ यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सरः । समः सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते ॥ ४-२२॥ गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः । यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते ॥ ४-२३॥ (21-23) Without expectation, with an integrated consciousness and Self, abandoning all commission using only the body for performing action, that person gets no injustice (nirāśīryatacittātmā tyaktasarvaparigrahaḥ । śārīraṃ kevalaṃ karma kurvannāpnoti kilbiṣam ॥ 4-21॥). The words parigraha and kilbiṣa are key words and have no appropriate English equivalent. Content with whatever profit come spontaneously free from opposites, unselfish, always balanced in success and failure and not bound by actions (yadṛcchālābhasantuṣṭo dvandvātīto vimatsaraḥ । samaḥ siddhāvasiddhau ca kṛtvāpi na nibadhyate ॥ 4-22॥). One who is devoid of attachment, liberated with conscious knowledge like Vasishta, performing action for sacrifice ceases to exist (gatasaṅgasya muktasya jñānāvasthitacetasaḥ । yajñāyācarataḥ karma samagraṃ pravilīyate ॥ 4-23॥). Here, pravilīyate means dissolved, but we have translated it as ceases to exist. ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् । ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ॥ ४-२४॥ दैवमेवापरे यज्ञं योगिनः पर्युपासते । ब्रह्माग्नावपरे यज्ञं यज्ञेनैवोपजुह्वति ॥ ४-२५॥ श्रोत्रादीनीन्द्रियाण्यन्ये संयमाग्निषु जुह्वति । शब्दादीन्विषयानन्य इन्द्रियाग्निषु जुह्वति ॥ ४-२६॥ (24-26) Brahman sacrifices to the Brahman, the offering is to the fire of the Brahman, the offering is made only by the Brahman the end result is achieved by effort of one who is absorbed in meditation of the Brahman (brahmārpaṇaṃ brahma havirbrahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam । brahmaiva tena gantavyaṃ brahmakarmasamādhinā ॥ 4-24॥). Some sacrifice only to the deities, yogīs worship the fire of Brahman, others sacrifice, sacrifice as a sacrifice (daivamevāpare yajñaṃ yoginaḥ paryupāsate । brahmāgnāvapare yajñaṃ yajñenaivopajuhvati ॥ 4-25॥). Organ of hearing and other senses in the fire of self-restraint are sacrificed, sources of sound and others are sacrificed in the fire of the senses (śrotrādīnīndriyāṇyanye saṃyamāgniṣu juhvati । śabdādīnviṣayānanya indriyāgniṣu juhvati ॥ 4-26॥). सर्वाणीन्द्रियकर्माणि प्राणकर्माणि चापरे । आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौ जुह्वति ज्ञानदीपिते ॥ ४-२७॥ द्रव्ययज्ञास्तपोयज्ञा योगयज्ञास्तथापरे । स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाश्च यतयः संशितव्रताः ॥ ४-२८॥ (27-28) Yet others sacrifice all functions of the senses and movements of vital air and others, when restrained together within the Self in the fire of yoga that has been kindled by the light knowledge (sarvāṇīndriyakarmāṇi prāṇakarmāṇi cāpare । ātmasaṃyamayogāgnau juhvati jñānadīpite ॥ 4-27॥). People also sacrifice materials, self-restraint, Yoga as a sacrifice, yet others sacrifice knowledge gained by self-study as do ascetics and people who practice great vows (dravyayajñāstapoyajñā yogayajñāstathāpare । svādhyāyajñānayajñāśca yatayaḥ saṃśitavratāḥ ॥ 4-28॥). अपाने जुह्वति प्राणं प्राणेऽपानं तथापरे । प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायामपरायणाः ॥ ४-२९॥ अपरे नियताहाराः प्राणान्प्राणेषु जुह्वति । सर्वेऽप्येते यज्ञविदो यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः ॥ ४-३०॥ (29-30) In the outgoing breath people sacrifice incoming breath, yet others sacrifice incoming breath in the outgoing breath (apāne juhvati prāṇaṃ prāṇe’pānaṃ tathāpare ।) controlling the speed of incoming and outgoing breath and restraining it becomes the principal focus (prāṇāpānagatī ruddhvā prāṇāyāmaparāyaṇāḥ ॥ 4-29॥). Others regulate food intake or sacrifice vital air in the incoming breath (apare niyatāhārāḥ prāṇānprāṇeṣu juhvati ।), also all these that know sacrifice get their impurities destroyed by sacrifice (sarve’pyete yajñavido yajñakṣapitakalmaṣāḥ ॥ 4-30॥). यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजो यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम् । नायं लोकोऽस्त्ययज्ञस्य कुतोऽन्यः कुरुसत्तम ॥ ४-३१॥ एवं बहुविधा यज्ञा वितता ब्रह्मणो मुखे । कर्मजान्विद्धि तान्सर्वानेवं ज्ञात्वा विमोक्ष्यसे ॥ ४-३२॥ श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप । सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते ॥ ४-३३॥ (31-33) Those that consume the nectar of sacrifice go to eternal Brahman (yajñaśiṣṭāmṛtabhujo yānti brahma sanātanam ।), There is no place in the world for the non-sacrificer, how can he find a place in any other (nāyaṃ loko’styayajñasya kuto’nyaḥ kurusattama ॥ 4-31॥). Thus, there are many forms of sacrifice spread across the spectrum of brahman which are produced by action, know them all, thus having known them one can find liberation (evaṃ bahuvidhā yajñā vitatā brahmaṇo mukhe । karmajānviddhi tānsarvānevaṃ jñātvā vimokṣyase ॥ 4-32॥). Superior to sacrifice of materials is sacrifice of knowledge, all action culminates in knowledge (śreyāndravyamayādyajñājjñānayajñaḥ parantapa । sarvaṃ karmākhilaṃ pārtha jñāne parisamāpyate ॥ 4-33॥).  तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया । उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः ॥ ४-३४॥ यज्ज्ञात्वा न पुनर्मोहमेवं यास्यसि पाण्डव । येन भूतान्यशेषेण द्रक्ष्यस्यात्मन्यथो मयि ॥ ४-३५॥  var  अशेषाणि अपि चेदसि पापेभ्यः सर्वेभ्यः पापकृत्तमः । सर्वं ज्ञानप्लवेनैव वृजिनं सन्तरिष्यसि ॥ ४-३६॥ (34 – 36) This subtle knowledge can be achieved by prostration, by questioning and by service (tadviddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā ।), then wise people will teach you the knowledge of reaching the Truth (upadekṣyanti te jñānaṃ jñāninastattvadarśinaḥ ॥ 4-34॥). Not knowing this one will commit to delusion repeatedly, by this all beings see in their Self me also (yajjñātvā na punarmohamevaṃ yāsyasi pāṇḍava । yena bhūtānyaśeṣeṇa drakṣyasyātmanyatho mayi ॥ 4-35॥). Even if you are more wretched than the all-other wretched people, you will be saved from wickedness by floating on this knowledge (api cedasi pāpebhyaḥ sarvebhyaḥ pāpakṛttamaḥ । sarvaṃ jñānaplavenaiva vṛjinaṃ santariṣyasi ॥ 4-36॥). यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन । ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा ॥ ४-३७॥ न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते । तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्धः कालेनात्मनि विन्दति ॥ ४-३८॥ (37-38) Just as a blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, the fire of knowledge reduces all actions to ashes (yathaidhāṃsi samiddho’gnirbhasmasātkurute’rjuna । jñānāgniḥ sarvakarmāṇi bhasmasātkurute tathā ॥ 4-37॥). Verily, nothing is as pure as wisdom in this world and this has been discovered over time by yogīs who have achieved total perfection (na hi jñānena sadṛśaṃ pavitramiha vidyate । tatsvayaṃ yogasaṃsiddhaḥ kālenātmani vindati ॥ 4-38॥). श्रद्धावाँल्लभते ज्ञानं तत्परः संयतेन्द्रियः । ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति ॥ ४-३९॥ अज्ञश्चाश्रद्दधानश्च संशयात्मा विनश्यति । नायं लोकोऽस्ति न परो न सुखं संशयात्मनः ॥ ४-४०॥ (39-40) Those that are sincere and dedicated obtain wisdom when they are totally and eagerly engaged subduing the senses (śraddhāvā~llabhate jñānaṃ tatparaḥ saṃyatendriyaḥ ।) have obtained wisdom they obtain supreme peace quickly (jñānaṃ labdhvā parāṃ śāntimacireṇādhigacchati ॥ 4-39॥). Ignorant people and those without sincerity and dedication doubting souls will destroy themselves (ajñaścāśraddadhānaśca saṃśayātmā vinaśyati ।), in fact, doubting souls find happiness eluding them in this world and next (nāyaṃ loko’sti na paro na sukhaṃ saṃśayātmanaḥ ॥ 4-40॥). योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणं ज्ञानसञ्छिन्नसंशयम् । आत्मवन्तं न कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनञ्जय ॥ ४-४१॥ तस्मादज्ञानसम्भूतं हृत्स्थं ज्ञानासिनात्मनः । छित्त्वैनं संशयं योगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भारत ॥ ४-४२॥ (41-42) However, when a person practices yoga where action is renounced, doubts are removed (yogasaṃnyastakarmāṇaṃ jñānasañchinnasaṃśayam ।), the Self becomes steadied without the binding of karma (ātmavantaṃ na karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanañjaya ॥ 4-41॥). Therefore, cut this doubt that is born out of ignorance and residing in the heart by the Self that has the sword of knowledge (tasmādajñānasambhūtaṃ hṛtsthaṃ jñānāsinātmanaḥ ।), discard your doubts, take refuge in Yoga and rise (chittvainaṃ saṃśayaṃ yogamātiṣṭhottiṣṭha bhārata ॥ 4-42॥).  [...] Read more...
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 5 (sannyāsa-yoga)
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 5 (sannyāsa-yoga)Acknowledgement. School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 5, sannyāsa-yoga (yoga of renunciation). Introduction. In chapters 2, 3 and 4, Śrī Kṛṣṇa guides the student from disillusionment, fear of outcome and grip of illusion (māyā) to action and then, renunciation of action. In chapter 5, he moves to the next step, what happens after a person has cleaned up his action (karma)? How does one evolve to the next level of personal development? Importantly, one must recognise that development in Yoga is experiential and everything that is said in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā can only create value when there is introspection and practice. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 5 –  sannyāsa-yoga (verse 1-6). Jñāna-yoga or karma-yoga, which is better?  Arjuna starts off by expressing confusion – which is better, performing action or renouncing it? Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, both jñāna-yoga (sāṃkhya) and karma-yoga are one (eka) and reach the same goal, Brahman. However, the path of renunciation is very difficult and painful. In any case, even renunciation requires action, so renouncing the outcome of action is an easier method of reaching Brahman. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 5, sannyāsa-yoga (verse 2-11). Overview. First, the yogī should try and smoothen internal turbulence during experience of change. This is called purification of the soul (ātmaśuddhaye). This is done by discriminating permanent from impermanent (viveka) and approaching all actions with dispassion (vairāgya). Next, the yogī attempts to remain in this state at all times and in all situations. This includes seeing, hearing touching, smelling, eating, evacuating, sleeping, breathing or speaking. Consequently, the cognitive apparatus (indriyas) is conditioned one to move among similar sense objects without getting affected by stimulus. In fact, the yogī should perform karma (activity) with sentience (awareness of his senses) withdrawn from the environment, viewing all creation as one (sama-darśana). Lastly, the yogī should be detached from the surroundings like a lotus leaf in water (water on a lotus leaf slides off without making the leaf wet) and remain in an isolated state. This is done by performing action using the body, cognitive apparatus, logical reasoning and senses with the attitude of not acting nor causing action. So, the yogī’s awareness is absorbed in the Brahman, his or her Soul is established in the Brahman and with the Brahman for the goal and nothing else. This is called ekāgratā (single-pointed focus). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 5, sannyāsa-yoga (verse 12-19). Brahman.  Brahman is neutral – it is neither the initiator, creator nor the doer, nor does it get attached to creation – this is because this is its innate nature. Also, Brahman does not accept from anyone their demerits or even merit, this occurs in people on account of illusion (māyā) and lack of knowledge (ajñāna). The reason for this delusion is that the Self (ātman) experiences existential doubt (am I alive? do I exist? who am I?) and this insecurity gives rise to the need to form bonds and attachments that reinforce a sense of existence and increase the feeling of self-worth (asmitā). Consequently, this need for reinforcement of its sense of identity creates a veil of ignorance (māyā) over the true nature of the Self (ajñāna) which is dispelled by knowledge of the Self (jñāna). Also, this makes māyā (illusion) very difficult to overcome unless the person is able to overcome the need for reinforcement of self-worth as well as distance and detach the Self from impact of the environment on the Self (ātman). A person merges with Brahman when he has advanced in cleansing of the Soul (ātmaśuddhaye), views everything as one (sama-dṛṣṭaye), has an intellect that is immersed in an unchanging state of peace (Brahman) with complete focus on an unchanging state of peace (Brahman) (verse 18-19). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 5, sannyāsa-yoga . The concept of karma-yoga. We get stimulus through our senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Then, we react through our motor organs – legs, hands, tongue, anus and sexual organs. Consequently, we get into a cycle of stimulus and response, that is driven by our senses, cognition and intellect. This creates an illusionary world called māyā that veils the Brahman. So, to merge with Brahman, we need to transcend māyā (Illusion or farce). One way is to isolate ourselves from the environment so that stimulus is controlled, so that impact of māyā is slowly controlled. This is renunciation (sannyāsa) and the path is called jñāna-yoga. The other way is to perform karma (action), but control the senses (indriyas), cognition (manas) and logic (buddhi). Consequently, during the performance of action, we remain calm, unruffled in every experience and look at effort & outcome without fear or favour. This path is called karma-yoga. However, both paths are difficult. In fact, isolating ourselves from society requires enormous ability to come to terms with loss of self-worth or self-esteem (asmitā). Also, the difficult effort of isolating the Self from society itself is action (karma). Therefore, whether we practice renunciation (sannyāsa) or control of action (karma-yoga), action is required. However, by practicing karma-yoga, we give ourselves the ability to improve continuously without bringing catastrophic damage to our self-esteem (asmitā) that sannyāsa-yoga could bring.  Since the risks are lower, this karma-yoga is seen by Śrī Kṛṣṇa as more practical and thus achievable. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 5, sannyāsa-yoga (verse 18-29). Increasing free-will (svatantra).  To get jñāna (knowledge of the self), one must anchor the seat of cognition (manas) and seat of logic (buddhi) with the Brahman and view everything with sama-darśana (equal gaze), whether it is a learned person, a cow, an elephant, a dog or even an outcast.  As a result of sama-darśana (equal gaze), the seat of cognition (manas) becomes spotless (nirdośa) and without bias because it allows the yogin to separate the stimulus from the source of the stimulus. Consequently, a sense of equality gets established and this ensures that the yogī becomes a detached soul. As a result, the yogī recognises all actions are born out of impulses of desire and that happiness or peace comes from removal of duality. So, the yogī reacts with equanimity to pleasant and unpleasant stimuli, being neither too happy at good news nor grieving at unpleasant news. Self-controlled ascetics (sannyāsin) does this by shutting out external objects, fixing the gaze between the eyebrows (nāsikāgra-dṛśṭi) and equalising their incoming (prāṇa) and outgoing (apāna) breath (vāyu) and moving it within the nostrils (nāsābhyantaracāriṇau). Interplay between guṇa, citta, dharma and karma. When we are in our natural state (dharma), we experience a cognition of peace, the three attributes (guṇas – tamas = delusion / rajas = passion / satva = harmony) are in balance.  Then, stimulus coming in through the senses (indriyas) is collated by the centre of cognition (manas). This stimulus is compared with conditioning (dharma) before a response is formulated. Citta (consciousness) is the medium that recognises the object, stimulates the senses, collates the data at the cognitive centres (manas), carries the information to the intellect (buddhi) for comparison with conditioning (dharma) and formulates a response. If there is congruence, ahaṃkāra (I am the doer) pulls the object towards it because it wants continued engagement. If there is dissonance, ahaṃkāra pushes the object away to avoid discomfort. As a result, there is give-take or a transaction. Any transaction or give-take results in karma (action). When there is congruence / attraction (rāga) or dissonance / repulsion (dveṣa) with the object, a give-take transaction results in pull-push movement between the subject and object. In like (rāga), the subject and object try to come closer to each other and in dislike (dveṣa), they try to push each other away.  However, in give-take transactions karma is always unequal between the giver and taker, this results in an imbalance, since one always gives or takes more from the other. Consequently, this imbalance results in debt (ṛṇa) which has to be repaid, even if it means taking another jñāna or rebirth. The citta (consciousness). Citta (consciousness) performs the following action: It transmits projection of self-worth (asmitā) of the subject to other entities and vice-versa, Also, it seeks and identifies other entities, Then, it relays feedback from other entities as experience, Citta carries the stimulus through the senses (indriyas), to the centre of cognition (manas), then to the centre of logic (buddhi). Then, it acts as bridge, comparing stimulus with conditioning (dharma), The outcome is integrated with the sense of self-worth/ identity (asmitā) which takes ownership of the response (ahaṃkāra). Finally, citta then carries out the response as a projection of identity (asmitā). In short, citta (consciousness) is the thread (sūtra) that runs across the complete transaction spectrum, from identifying another entity, acquisition of information to formulation of response, then response and finally feedback. One can experience consciousness (citta) flowing out of the frontal lobe when one is transacting with anyone. When citta (consciousness) examines itself, this internal awareness of its own existence is called jñāna. Next, the awareness of the projection of citta (consciousness) to the environment is called vijñāna (macro or system transaction). Also, the experience of citta of the Identity’s (puruṣa) projection perceived by others is called asmitā (self-esteem/ self-worth). Additionally, the experience of being a doer by puruṣa is called ahaṃkāra (I am the doer). Lastly, awareness of consciousness (citta) and its movements is called prajñā (awareness). This awareness is primordial and can be experienced with practice, when a person steps back from any situation and watches his own actions as if he or she were a different person. When a person focuses on the action and not the experience, there is no experience of like (rāga) or dislike (dveṣa), which results in the effort of puruṣa to project itself being nullified.  This effort is yajña or sacrifice. Example of citta and in daily life. When we go to a funeral or cremation, our identity (puruṣa) has already been conditioned (dharma) about how the self-identity must be projected. Hence, we dress and act sombre at a funeral, we are serious in a temple or church and joyous at a wedding. Similarly, when we meet a friend, we show happiness and at a business meeting, we present appropriate behavious. Finally, when we are alone, our consciousness keeps reaching out for subjects, we dream, imagine situations and sometimes reflect on ourselves. This projection of our Self and our experiences is our consciousness (citta). The fact is, the change in our demeanour occurs because our consciousness (citta) takes on the atmosphere of the environment naturally. Consequently, citta always mirrors with the same identity as its environment to avoid damage to self-worth (asmitā). If the individual were to behave contrary to dharma (conditioning or accepted practice), the environment will reject the projection of the individual (dveṣa) leading to psychological damage of the asmitā (self-esteem).  How should we perform karma? Māyā (illusion) is driven by guṇa (attitude) which drives conditioning (dharma). Guṇa comprises tamas (delusion), rajas (passion) and sattva (harmony). So, we can transcend māyā and experience the nature of Self by taking the following actions: First, avoid hatred (tamas) and anger (rajas). Then, try to stay balanced (sattva) with sama-darśana (equal gaze). Next, bring the senses under control. Start by physically avoiding sensory stimuli. Also, try controlling flow of stimuli where they are collated at the cognition (manas). This area corresponds to the area around the amygdala where “flight or fight” responses are processed. One may increase one’s ability by practicing prāṇāyāma and meditation. Finally, practice control of conversion of stimulus to response by separating the intellect (buddhi) from conditioning (dharma) as well as logically try to redirect response to a sāttvika (harmonic or balanced) one to preventing rise of tamas or rajas. Also, avoid duality such as like/dislike, happy/ sad etc as these result in tāmasika and rājasika experiences which can hijack the intellect (buddhi). Additionally, view everything with sama-dṛṣṭi (sama = equal + dṛṣṭi = gaze), this way tamas and rajas are brought under control. Finally, do not get attached to action, its experience, efforts or outcome. Step back and recognise it as māyā. For example, perform action as a duty as sincerely as possible without expecting any return, avoid attachment to the action (ahaṃkāra) or outcome (phala). As a result, senses become controlled and Self is isolated from the actions. Also, this allows clarity in cognition (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya), the two key requirements for betterment in Yoga which allow the Soul to transcend māyā and merge with the Truth (Brahman). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 5, sannyāsa-yoga. The physiology and awareness in verse 27. The sanyāsin does this by shutting out external objects, fixing the gaze between the eyebrows (nāsikāgra- dṛṣṭi) and equalising their incoming (prāṇa) and outgoing (apāna) breath (vāyu) and moving it within the nostrils (nāsābhyantaracāriṇau) (verse 27). It is important for any student of Yoga to understand the physiology and prāṇa movements that occur in this practice. Breathing physiology – part 1 – flow of air into the nasal passage. First, air is sucked into the respiratory system through the nostril. How does this occur? The diaphragm is a muscle which separates the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity. In fact, it is anchored on the lower ribs. So, during inhalation, the diaphragm moves down, creating a negative pressure in the thoracic cavity. Consequently, this draws in air from the atmosphere. Next, the movement of the diaphragm is against the movement of the rib cage and abdomen. So, both systems expand to allow the downward movement of the diaphragm. As a result, a reverse pressure is created within the abdomen and rib which forces the diaphragm to move upwards again. Consequently, there is an upward movement of the diaphragm which changes the intra-thoracic pressure from negative to positive, resulting in air being forced out of the lungs. Importantly, breathing is a reflex action. Also, it is a parasympathetic process which is controlled by the medulla oblongata. In fact, the rate of breathing is dependent on the concentration of O2 / CO2 and blood ph. Additionally, the pons controls the speed of inhalation (speed of the movement of the diaphragm). Breathing physiology – part 2 – flow of air and awareness (prajñā). Initially, when breathing in, air crosses the sinuses. Uniquely, sinuses are pockets of air which secrete mucous into the nasal cavity through orifice called ostia. These open into small recesses called meati and are protected by shelf like projections called turbinates. Next, the incoming air is compressed at the bridge of the nose, called septum. This is a venturi like structure which results in the air getting compressed when entering the nose. Therefore, due to the venturi effect in the septum, the air exits the septum into the nasal cavity under pressure which is lower than atmospheric pressure. Consequently, this causes the air to swirl within the nasal cavity. Meanwhile, the fins of the turbinator direct the swirl and split the incoming air. One part of the incoming air is guided by the nasal concha over the olfactory epithelium and activates the olfactory bulb. Next, the inferior concha guides air over the nasopharynx. This results in a resonating column effect within the auditory tube, which activates the middle ear.  Importantly, the sinuses are air-pockets, so they resonate to the flow of air and differential pressure between the nasal passage and sinus. Breathing physiology – part 3 – upper respiratory tract dynamics. The result of the above movement of air is, First, there is a creation of a resonance at the sphenoidal sinuses due to turbulence in the incoming swirling air flow. Next, the rush of air across the olfactory bulb energises the olfactory nerves and amygdala as well as the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenalin (HPA axis) and the immune system. Finally, the flow of air across the nasopharynx creates a vibrating column effect in the auditory canal. All this results in an awareness of being alive.  There is a slight drop in temperature of the incoming air due to the venture effect, which is compensated by the warm air in the nasal cavity and sinuses. This is why, there is often condensate over the bridge of the nose and, also the reason for the nose being the coldest part of the face. When the yogī equalises the incoming and outgoing breath at the nasal cavity, the air flow gets regulated to one where turbulence is slowly minimised and then made insignificant. As a result, the main senses of touch, smell and hearing are shut down. When the yogī focuses his awareness by gazing between the eyebrows, sight is also brought under control. This is why the above verse 27 is so important. School of Yoga posits some contradictions to accepted positions.  Availability of free-will is critical for renunciation. The ability to control free-will in action is limited in action (karma) because our response is controlled by conditioning (dharma). Increase of free-will is only possible when there is control over the movement of consciousness (citta). All efforts to control consciousness will be opposed by the sense of Self (puruṣa or śiva) because of fear of loss of Identity. This results in increased internal conflict, pain and a sense of dissociation from society. However, this effort also increases awareness of the Self (prajñā), discrimination between permanent and impermanent (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya). Consequently, free-will increases. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 5, sannyāsa-yoga. Lessons. Sannyāsa is easier said than done. It requires effort, sacrifice and ability to endure pain and grief. The Transliteration of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 5 – sannyāsa-yoga follows. The Saṃskṛtaṃ words are in red italics. अर्जुन उवाच । संन्यासं कर्मणां कृष्ण पुनर्योगं च शंससि । यच्छ्रेय एतयोरेकं तन्मे ब्रूहि सुनिश्चितम् ॥ ५-१॥ Arjuna said (1) On the one hand you praise renunciation of action and at the same time recommend its performance. So, tell me conclusively, between these, which is better? (saṃnyāsaṃ karmaṇāṃ kṛṣṇa punaryogaṃ ca śaṃsasi । yacchreya etayorekaṃ tanme brūhi suniścitam ॥ 5-1॥). श्रीभगवानुवाच । संन्यासः कर्मयोगश्च निःश्रेयसकरावुभौ । तयोस्तु कर्मसंन्यासात्कर्मयोगो विशिष्यते ॥ ५-२॥ ज्ञेयः स नित्यसंन्यासी यो न द्वेष्टि न काङ्क्षति । निर्द्वन्द्वो हि महाबाहो सुखं बन्धात्प्रमुच्यते ॥ ५-३॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (2-3) Both renunciation and performance of action lead to the highest bliss but of the two, renunciation of action is superior to merger with action (saṃnyāsaḥ karmayogaśca niḥśreyasakarāvubhau । tayostu karmasaṃnyāsātkarmayogo viśiṣyate ॥ 5-2॥). Know this that he is a complete ascetic who neither hates nor desires, is free from opposites, truly that person becomes free from bondage easily (jñeyaḥ sa nityasaṃnyāsī yo na dveṣṭi na kāṅkṣati । nirdvandvo hi mahābāho sukhaṃ bandhātpramucyate ॥ 5-3॥). साङ्ख्ययोगौ पृथग्बालाः प्रवदन्ति न पण्डिताः । एकमप्यास्थितः सम्यगुभयोर्विन्दते फलम् ॥ ५-४॥ यत्साङ्ख्यैः प्राप्यते स्थानं तद्योगैरपि गम्यते । एकं साङ्ख्यं च योगं च यः पश्यति स पश्यति ॥ ५-५॥ संन्यासस्तु महाबाहो दुःखमाप्तुमयोगतः । योगयुक्तो मुनिर्ब्रह्म नचिरेणाधिगच्छति ॥ ५-६॥ (4-6) The harmonisation of knowledge philosophy is distinct and only the childish speak of them not the learned even though when one is established then truly fruits of both are obtained (sāṅkhyayogau pṛthagbālāḥ pravadanti na paṇḍitāḥ । ekamapyāsthitaḥ samyagubhayorvindate phalam ॥ 5-4॥). The philosophical state obtained by yogīs is also reached when one that sees knowledge also sees action (yatsāṅkhyaiḥ prāpyate sthānaṃ tadyogairapi gamyate । ekaṃ sāṅkhyaṃ ca yogaṃ ca yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati ॥ 5-5॥).  Renunciation is painful to obtain without implementation of yoga but when harmonised in yoga, the ascetic quickly goes to Brahman (saṃnyāsastu mahābāho duḥkhamāptumayogataḥ । yogayukto munirbrahma nacireṇādhigacchati ॥ 5-6॥). योगयुक्तो विशुद्धात्मा विजितात्मा जितेन्द्रियः । सर्वभूतात्मभूतात्मा कुर्वन्नपि न लिप्यते ॥ ५-७॥ नैव किञ्चित्करोमीति युक्तो मन्येत तत्त्ववित् । पश्यञ्श‍ृण्वन्स्पृशञ्जिघ्रन्नश्नन्गच्छन्स्वपञ्श्वसन् ॥ ५-८॥ प्रलपन्विसृजन्गृह्णन्नुन्मिषन्निमिषन्नपि । इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्त इति धारयन् ॥ ५-९॥ (7-9) A purified soul is harmoniously merged and becomes a victorious soul when it has subdued the senses (yogayukto viśuddhātmā vijitātmā jitendriyaḥ ।), that soul which sees sentient souls in all souls when acting is also not tainted (sarvabhūtātmabhūtātmā kurvannapi na lipyate ॥ 5-7॥). I do not do anything is what the yogī who knows the Truth should cognise even when he is seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, sleeping, breathing, speaking, evacuating, holding, opening the eyes, closing the eyes also. (naiva kiñcitkaromīti yukto manyeta tattvavit । paśyañśa‍ṛṇvanspṛśañjighrannaśnangacchansvapañśvasan ॥ 5-8॥ pralapanvisṛjangṛhṇannunmiṣannimiṣannapi ।). In fact, his senses move separated from sense objects (indriyāṇīndriyārtheṣu vartanta iti dhārayan ॥ 5-9॥).   ब्रह्मण्याधाय कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा करोति यः । लिप्यते न स पापेन पद्मपत्रमिवाम्भसा ॥ ५-१०॥ कायेन मनसा बुद्ध्या केवलैरिन्द्रियैरपि । योगिनः कर्म कुर्वन्ति सङ्गं त्यक्त्वात्मशुद्धये ॥ ५-११॥ (10-11) He who has based his actions in the Brahman and who acts after abandoning all attachment (brahmaṇyādhāya karmāṇi saṅgaṃ tyaktvā karoti yaḥ ।), he is not tainted by consequences and is like a lotus leaf in water (lipyate na sa pāpena padmapatramivāmbhasā ॥ 5-10॥). The yogī performs action using the body, cognitive apparatus, logical reasoning, senses; abandoning attachment and acting for purification of the Soul (kāyena manasā buddhyā kevalairindriyairapi । yoginaḥ karma kurvanti saṅgaṃ tyaktvātmaśuddhaye ॥ 5-11॥). युक्तः कर्मफलं त्यक्त्वा शान्तिमाप्नोति नैष्ठिकीम् । अयुक्तः कामकारेण फले सक्तो निबध्यते ॥ ५-१२॥ सर्वकर्माणि मनसा संन्यस्यास्ते सुखं वशी । नवद्वारे पुरे देही नैव कुर्वन्न कारयन् ॥ ५-१३॥ (12-13) Having merged with abandonment of fruits of action he obtains highest peace (yuktaḥ karmaphalaṃ tyaktvā śāntimāpnoti naiṣṭhikīm ।). However, he that is driven by desire and clings to outcome is bound to karma (ayuktaḥ kāmakāreṇa phale sakto nibadhyate ॥ 5-12॥). So, he that has detached cognition from all action controls happiness (sarvakarmāṇi manasā saṃnyasyāste sukhaṃ vaśī ।), resting in the ramparts of his nine-gated city, not acting, nor causing action (navadvāre pure dehī naiva kurvanna kārayan ॥ 5-13॥). न कर्तृत्वं न कर्माणि लोकस्य सृजति प्रभुः । न कर्मफलसंयोगं स्वभावस्तु प्रवर्तते ॥ ५-१४॥ नादत्ते कस्यचित्पापं न चैव सुकृतं विभुः । अज्ञानेनावृतं ज्ञानं तेन मुह्यन्ति जन्तवः ॥ ५-१५॥ (14-15) Brahman is neither the initiator nor the doer in the created world, also not driven by the embrace of the union of desire for fruits with inherent personality (na kartṛtvaṃ na karmāṇi lokasya sṛjati prabhuḥ । na karmaphalasaṃyogaṃ svabhāvastu pravartate ॥ 5-14॥). Brahman does not accept of anyone their demerits or even merit (nādatte kasyacitpāpaṃ na caiva sukṛtaṃ vibhuḥ ।), this occurs on account of ignorance shrouding knowledge in deluded people (ajñānenāvṛtaṃ jñānaṃ tena muhyanti jantavaḥ ॥ 5-15॥).  ज्ञानेन तु तदज्ञानं येषां नाशितमात्मनः । तेषामादित्यवज्ज्ञानं प्रकाशयति तत्परम् ॥ ५-१६॥ तद्बुद्धयस्तदात्मानस्तन्निष्ठास्तत्परायणाः । गच्छन्त्यपुनरावृत्तिं ज्ञाननिर्धूतकल्मषाः ॥ ५-१७॥ (16-17) Wisdom destroys ignorance of anyone the Soul shines like the Sun with highest knowledge (jñānena tu tadajñānaṃ yeṣāṃ nāśitamātmanaḥ । teṣāmādityavajjñānaṃ prakāśayati tatparam ॥ 5-16॥). Those with intellect absorbed in that, Soul established in that, with focus on that, with that for the goal go without return when wisdom removes all impurities (tadbuddhayastadātmānastanniṣṭhāstatparāyaṇāḥ । gacchantyapunarāvṛttiṃ jñānanirdhūtakalmaṣāḥ ॥ 5-17॥). विद्याविनयसम्पन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि । शुनि चैव श्वपाके च पण्डिताः समदर्शिनः ॥ ५-१८॥ इहैव तैर्जितः सर्गो येषां साम्ये स्थितं मनः । निर्दोषं हि समं ब्रह्म तस्माद् ब्रह्मणि ते स्थिताः ॥ ५-१९॥ (18-19) Those endowed with knowledge and humility will view a Brahmana, cow, elephant, dog, and even an outcast, and learned people with equal gaze, (vidyāvinayasampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini । śuni caiva śvapāke ca paṇḍitāḥ samadarśinaḥ ॥ 5-18॥). Thus, even they conquer creation by which inequality is established, the cognition remains spotless, consequently the equal Brahman is therefore established in Brahman (ihaiva tairjitaḥ sargo yeṣāṃ sāmye sthitaṃ manaḥ । nirdoṣaṃ hi samaṃ brahma tasmād brahmaṇi te sthitāḥ ॥ 5-19॥). न प्रहृष्येत्प्रियं प्राप्य नोद्विजेत्प्राप्य चाप्रियम् । स्थिरबुद्धिरसम्मूढो ब्रह्मविद् ब्रह्मणि स्थितः ॥ ५-२०॥ बाह्यस्पर्शेष्वसक्तात्मा विन्दत्यात्मनि यत्सुखम् । स ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मा सुखमक्षयमश्नुते ॥ ५-२१॥ (20-21) Importantly, one should not rejoice at obtaining a favourable outcome, nor grieve when an unfavourable outcome (na prahṛṣyetpriyaṃ prāpya nodvijetprāpya cāpriyam ।), with steady intellect that is undeluded, one that has knowledge of Brahman get established in the Brahman (sthirabuddhirasammūḍho brahmavid brahmaṇi sthitaḥ ॥ 5-20॥). The detached soul, when dealing with external contacts, finds within the Self, that infinite happiness as one that has merged with the Brahman enjoys (bāhyasparśeṣvasaktātmā vindatyātmani yatsukham । sa brahmayogayuktātmā sukhamakṣayamaśnute ॥ 5-21॥).  ये हि संस्पर्शजा भोगा दुःखयोनय एव ते । आद्यन्तवन्तः कौन्तेय न तेषु रमते बुधः ॥ ५-२२॥ शक्नोतीहैव यः सोढुं प्राक्शरीरविमोक्षणात् । कामक्रोधोद्भवं वेगं स युक्तः स सुखी नरः ॥ ५-२३॥ (22-23) In fact, all outcomes born from external contact, they cause suffering only (ye hi saṃsparśajā bhogā duḥkhayonaya eva te ।) they have a beginning as well as an end, so wise people do not find delight in them (ādyantavantaḥ kaunteya na teṣu ramate budhaḥ ॥ 5-22॥). Anyone who can withstand before liberation from the body, impulses born of desire and anger, he becomes united with Brahman, he is a happy man (śaknotīhaiva yaḥ soḍhuṃ prākśarīravimokṣaṇāt । kāmakrodhodbhavaṃ vegaṃ sa yuktaḥ sa sukhī naraḥ ॥ 5-23॥).  योऽन्तःसुखोऽन्तरारामस्तथान्तर्ज्योतिरेव यः । स योगी ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं ब्रह्मभूतोऽधिगच्छति ॥ ५-२४॥ लभन्ते ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृषयः क्षीणकल्मषाः । छिन्नद्वैधा यतात्मानः सर्वभूतहिते रताः ॥ ५-२५॥ कामक्रोधवियुक्तानां यतीनां यतचेतसाम् । अभितो ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं वर्तते विदितात्मनाम् ॥ ५-२६॥ (24-26) Who finds happiness within, even who has internal pleasure from illumination from Brahman, that yogī attains absolute freedom and merges with Brahman (yo’ntaḥsukho’ntarārāmastathāntarjyotireva yaḥ । sa yogī brahmanirvāṇaṃ brahmabhūto’dhigacchati ॥ 5-24॥). ṛṣis (seers) achieve absolute freedom due to cleaning of impurities, cutting of duality, rejoicing in the welfare of all beings (labhante brahmanirvāṇamṛṣayaḥ kṣīṇakalmaṣāḥ । chinnadvaidhā yatātmānaḥ sarvabhūtahite ratāḥ ॥ 5-25॥). Detached from desire and anger ascetics control their consciousness in all situations (abhitaḥ = on all sides), are evolved souls who exist in absolute freedom (kāmakrodhaviyuktānāṃ yatīnāṃ yatacetasām । abhito brahmanirvāṇaṃ vartate viditātmanām ॥ 5-26॥). स्पर्शान्कृत्वा बहिर्बाह्यांश्चक्षुश्चैवान्तरे भ्रुवोः । प्राणापानौ समौ कृत्वा नासाभ्यन्तरचारिणौ ॥ ५-२७॥ यतेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिर्मुनिर्मोक्षपरायणः । विगतेच्छाभयक्रोधो यः सदा मुक्त एव सः ॥ ५-२८॥ भोक्तारं यज्ञतपसां सर्वलोकमहेश्वरम् । सुहृदं सर्वभूतानां ज्ञात्वा मां शान्तिमृच्छति ॥ ५-२९॥ (27-29) Excluding external stimuli outside bring gaze inside between the eyebrows (sparśānkṛtvā bahirbāhyāṃścakṣuścaivāntare bhruvoḥ ।). Then, equalise inhalation and exhalation, moving it within the nostrils (prāṇāpānau samau kṛtvā nāsābhyantaracāriṇau ॥ 5-27॥). With the senses, cognition and logical apparatus of the sage are focused on liberation, desire, fear, anger leave and he forever and truly becomes free (yatendriyamanobuddhirmunirmokṣaparāyaṇaḥ । vigatecchābhayakrodho yaḥ sadā mukta eva saḥ ॥ 5-28॥). He enjoys fruits of his austerity and becomes Lord of all worlds who is affectionate to all creation and comes to me in peace (bhoktāraṃ yajñatapasāṃ sarvalokamaheśvaram । suhṛdaṃ sarvabhūtānāṃ jñātvā māṃ śāntimṛcchati ॥ 5-29॥).   [...] Read more...
Self awareness, its development and Yoga
Self awareness, its development and YogaSchool of Yoga explains the Self, its awareness and Yoga. Recap: Our sense of identity can only exist if we manifest and if someone acknowledges that manifestation. Unfortunately, our manifestation is never perfect and neither is the feedback received by us on our manifestation from the others, so there is a gap between what we think we are and the feedback others give us on that perception. Our sense of self-worth (asmitā) depends on the feedback we get from others.  Over time, this feedback becomes our perception we have of ourselves. Consequently, it becomes the base of our conditioning (dharma). Unfortunately, our actions are never a perfect expression of our self and neither is the feedback we receive from others. So, there is a gap between our expression and feedback. This is called māyā or farce. We are also continuously transacting to maintain our sense of Self (asmitā).  There is continuous give and take which is mostly unequal, with one giving more than the other. As a result, nearly all transactions result in debt (ṛṇa). Due to the feedback, our conditioning and sense of Self get updated. This changes our personality or svatantra. School of Yoga explains identity of the Self and Yoga. Svatantra is a compound word (sva = self + tantra = weave) and is the result of the yoking of our conditioning with our behaviour in any situation. Yoke?  Yes, yoke is the English term for the Sanskrit word, Yoga… both words are cognate, from the same root. The world has become smaller and success lies in our ability to handle rapid change. This change could range from diversity issues in the form cultural, racial or sexual biases to assimilation of technical and business information; or issues as mundane as handling jet lag and cross-cultural food. The process of confronting, accepting, assimilating and responding to reality is not easy, especially when each experience is new and traditional/ “ready recipe” responses are inappropriate/ inadequate. This continuous need for “ground up” response tests our entire value and belief system and stresses us and others that we seek to change. Yoga (yoking) can be used to refer to any relationship between 2 entities such as; The yoking of our sense of Self (Siva) with our manifestation (Shakti) The yoking of our conditioning (svadharma) with our behaviour (svabhāva). The yoking of the person with the environment or situation (vijñāna). The yoking of man and woman into a union – ardhāṅgani (half body woman). Yoga is ability use the awareness of Self or prajñā to transcend the bond (to be in the bond but not be affected by it), thereby isolating it. This awareness comprises 2 aspects. The awareness of the Self in any situation or vijñāna and the awareness of the Self as an entity or jñāna. School of Yoga explains awareness of the Self or prajñā. Example: Consider time. We constantly plan our lives by the clock, but does the Sun care? Do the winds and tides work to a schedule? What happens when we are engrossed with something we like? We forget time which for us, becomes the gap between when we remember starting the activity to the moment we became conscious of ourselves again. We had become so engrossed us that our consciousness was completely merged with the subject, this can roughly also be termed as the state of yoga between us and our subject. Situational Awareness (prajñā) operates at two levels; awareness at a situational level (vijñāna) and awareness of the impact of change on the sense of Self (jñāna). Situational Awareness covers the following areas: Ability to interact with our environment in such a way that we retain our sense of peace and keep the peace with our environment. Ability to digest and assimilate inputs from the environment, extract and assimilate the essence of our experience, reference and understand concepts and build a base for better engagement with the environment. Ability to process data needs to be enhanced. The ability to handle multiple situations, each with its own demands of our time and energy without getting agitated. Situational Awareness is an exercise in capability building, directing our energies to generating maximum effectiveness for the time that we are alive. This means understanding the objective of what we are setting out to do, putting together a plan that has measurable milestones, eliminating waste in the form of frittered energy, fear, etc., in our operations, communicating effectively, learning continuously and being aware of what we are doing. This occurs when: There is a continuous sense of equilibrium or homeostasis when interacting with the environment.  There is increased awareness of the stimulus, ability to extract and assimilate the essence of the experience, reference and understand concepts and reconciliation with one’s own personality. Responses to stimuli is a weave of our identity with our behavior. So, awareness of our decision-making process allows our personality come under our own control and this is yoga practice. What is Yoga? Definition and relationship with the Self. Patanjali Yoga Sutra defines Yoga as citta (consciousness) vrddhi (rising) nirodha (stoppage) which translates to “stopping consciousness from rising” and means “the ability to get to a state where there is no personality”.   Consciousness rises from the sense of self or identity; hence yoga is the ability to negate our sense of identity. Hence, yoking is the ability to integrate our sense of identity with our actions with the ultimate intent of reaching a point of integration where there is no identity in the actions. This means that Yoga is the technique of moving awareness from reflex, to conscious with the final goal being the cessation of personality. Yoking can be used to refer to any relationship between 2 sentient entities. but yoga is obviously more relevant in the yoking of our conditioning with our behaviour because it is the yoking which we use regularly. However, it is important to realize that evolution in that subject will lead to change in our sense of identity (Siva) and its manifestation (Shakti). Here, we need to differentiate some major forms of yoking; The yoking of Siva (our identity) with Shakti (our manifestation) The yoking of svadharma (our conditioning) with svabhāva (our behaviour). The yoking of husband and wife into a union ardhāṅgani (half body woman). School of Yoga explains stages of development of the Self: This subtle awareness of the yoking (yoga) between one’s sense of Self and external or internal entities goes through the experience of a mix of 4 levels of awareness (prajñā). They are; Jāgrat (wakeful or transactional state) – Awareness of the sense of Identity (asmitā) in any situation. Success is achieved by controlling cognition or indriyas. When stimulus is physically isolated, there is reduced like-dislike (rāga-dveṣa). Svapna (conceptual or dream state) – All stimuli, whether external or internal leave a residue. This state is transcended when conditioning or (dharma) is transcended. The physical manifestation of this state is breathing with no agitation. Suṣupti (formless state or nir-rūpa) – This state is one where form is transcended. Turiya (state where no guṇa exists nirguṇa state). In this state, there are no attributes. Finally, the indication that one’s awareness (prajñā) is developing in the right direction is a permanent sense of peace (śānti) or increasing level of homeostasis within the Self (asmitā). School of Yoga explains the major schools of Yoga for transcending the Self Jnana-Yoga – In this school, the sense of Self is transcended by negating all forms of stimuli. Bhakti-Yoga – In this school, the sense of Self is transferred to another entity like God, Guru etc. Karma-Yoga – In this school, sense of Self is transcended by negating the consequences of response. Hatha-Yoga – In this school, the sense of Self is transcended by using the body and the subtle energy channels. Raja-Yoga – In this school, the sense of Self is transcended by combining elements of all the above schools. Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand the Self… Mohammed Ali was born as Cassius Clay and began training in boxing to channelize his anger at discrimination. At age 22, he defeated Sonny Liston to become the world champion. Shortly thereafter, he converted to Islam to become Mohammed Ali. Two years later he refused to be conscripted, preferring to go to prison and be stripped of his championship titles. Resuming after four years, he regained the title and defended it twice. However, the hammering he received in the ring resulted in the debilitating illness of Parkinson leading to his retiring. Finally, his unflinching stand on discrimination made him an icon of his people. How did Mohammed Ali’s identity develop and change? What was the stimulus in each case which prompted change? From Cassius Clay to Mohammed Ali, from free-man to convict and champion to patient. How did he cope with the change? Trace the changes to his interaction with his environment, within himself, his coming to terms with himself and his situation. Points to Ponder on the Self: Internal Tags: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Stress and prana, Awareness measures, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga. External Tags: Consciousness How do you become aware of your personality? What do you know of Yoga? What is self control? How does it affect stress? [...] Read more...
Paschimotanasana – Torso Stretching Pose
Paschimotanasana – Torso Stretching PoseSchool of Yoga explains Paschimotanasana (Torso Stretching pose) Hatha Yoga Pradeepika on Paschimotanasana:  Ch1, verse (28) Paschimatanasana – stretching both legs on the ground like a stick, catch the toes with the hands, place the forehead on the knees and rest. Ch1, verse (29) This paschimotanasana moves the vital wind to the rear channel. It kindles the gastric fires, makes the loins lean and cures all disease in men. School of Yoga explains – Paschimotanasana technique : Sthithi position – (starting position)- Lie down on the back, hands at the sides. Breathe in, take hands over and behind the head. Breathing out, lift torso up, and moving forward clasp big toe with your hands. Bend your face forward and slowly pull your torso towards your knees.  Pull forward and down until face touches knee. Keep legs straight. If possible, press face into knee. Hold for 5 counts. Release the forward bending pressure and lift face up. Breathing in, return the body to supine posture (sthithi – starting position) with hands back over the head. Breathe out; bring hands back to the side. Breathe normally. Repeat 3 to 6 times. The drishti (gaze) recommended is in the middle of the knee but one could also focus on the svadishtana chakra. School of Yoga explains – Paschimotanasana benefits : The action of pulling face into the knee strains and strengthens the hamstrings. Additionally, thigh muscles, shoulder and lower back muscles get strengthened. Since, abdominal viscera get compressed, their functioning is improved. This asana (exercise) also tones up the complete digestive system, including stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, small and large intestines. The abdominal walls are strengthened because adipose in the tissues get squeezed out. The action of lifting and moving forward activates the rectal muscles and cures constipation. The exercise increases intra-abdominal pressure and induces peristalsis. This exercise is good for curing obesity, constipation, piles, diabetes, and other digestive ailments. Muscle groups of the back get strengthened, and the sympathetic nervous system is toned-up because it receives copious blood supply. School of Yoga explains – Paschimotanasana contraindications: If you have any form of back ache, push yourself only to the point where there is no discomfort. When pain or discomfort starts, stop immediately. With practice, the back will begin to flex better. People with cardiac problems, lower back problems and circulatory disorders should not attempt the final position. They should perform this exercise very slowly and stop in case of discomfort or pain.  This asana should not be practiced during menstruation or pregnancy. Some noteworthy points on paschimotanasana: Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, This asana is considered to be one of the 32 most important asanas by all ancient texts. One might encounter the following difficulties when performing this asana; Inability to lift the torso off the ground without lifting the legs as a counter balance. Inability to touch toes. In both cases, the practitioner should be patient. Firstly, inability to lift torso is quickly overcome with strengthening of lower back and abdominal muscles. Also, one could ask a partner to help by keeping a hand between the shoulder blades as support. The case of not being able to touch the toe is more serious but not insurmountable. Breathing out, stretch to the maximum point possible without pain and hold till all the breath is evacuated from the lungs. Breathing in, return to normal position. With time, the muscles will yield and one will be able to get to an optimum position. However, it is important to remember that to reap the benefits of paschimotanasana, even 70% complete pose is adequate as strength comes to the lower back, abdominal muscles and hamstrings. There are also claims that rapidly performed paschimotanasana reduces adipose tissue in the abdomen and can be used for weight loss. This is not substantiated by experience. Rapidly performed paschimotanasana requires a deep throw of almost 180° of the upper torso from supine position to final position to enable one to touch toes. Obviously, the slightest misalignment during the action can lead to muscle pulls and cramps. Therefore, one should be very fit and careful when attempting this variation. For maximum benefits, one must keep the knees, ankles and toes straight and together. The stretching action yields tremendous benefits by strengthening the calf, hamstring, back of the thigh and lower back. Avoid the natural tendency of separating the ankles to relieve pressure on the back and hamstring. It’s OK to not stretch fully. [...] Read more...
Jñāna-yoga – The Yoga of knowledge of the Self
Jñāna-yoga – The Yoga of knowledge of the SelfSchool of Yoga explains jñāna-yoga. In jñāna–yoga, the opposite of jñāna (knowledge of the Self) is not falsehood, but ajñāna (ignorance). Ignorance is the veil that covers the true state of the Self (Siva/ Puruṣa). This veil, which induces us accept perception of our senses as the true representation of is itself (asmitā) is called māyā or farce. When māyā is dispelled, the true state of one’s identity is revealed. School of Yoga explains – jñāna-yoga – skills, tools and goalposts. Vivekam (discrimination) – Ability to distinguish truth/ real from unreal, fact from fiction or perception from reality. Vairagyam (detachment) – Decision making is always clouded by sentiment and attachment. The sense of self-worth (asmitā) feels threatened by criticism and this clouds and affects decision making. So, learn to step back! Satsaṅga (discussion with similar minded people) – Seeking the truth is a terribly lonely business and there is failure, mistakes and heart-breaks. However, the journey becomes easier when it is shared…   Mumukṣutva (extreme desire for liberation) – Since almost all the effort and change is internal, there is no visible measure of success. Therefore, our internal motivation and desire to succeed is critical to success. In addition to the above skills, the following tools can help one in peeling away the layers of ignorance;  Śravaṇa (hearing) – Discrimination and detachment don’t come easily. It is important to share our experiences and learning to draw inspiration from others and try new techniques. Manana (controlling cognition) – All stimuli come in through the senses (indriya). These are collated at in the brain before a response is formulated. The imaginary place where this collation is done is manas. Manana is neutralising the impact of stimulus at cognition. Nididhyāsana (reflecting) – When we receive stimuli, we react. In order to move our awareness from reflex to conscious, we need to reflect on the stimulus and its impact on the awareness of the Self (asmitā). School of Yoga – making jñāna-yoga work. Jñāna-yoga is possibly the simplest yoga to implement, with least number of variables to control. The concept requires us to isolate impermanent stimulus. This isolation will slowly bring out the more permanent aspect of reality. Obviously, many of these negations will require adjustments to our conditioning (dharma), resulting in strong physical and emotional backlash. This requires a building up of both, an emotional reservoir and a strong drive to continue despite the pain of loss of closely held views. The best role model of a modern day jñāna-yoga aspirant is Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi who has left an enormous amount of usable information on how jnana yoga may be practiced. To build up the ability to discriminate and weed out impermanent stimuli while simultaneously strengthening emotional intelligence, one needs to maintain relationships with likeminded people – getting motivated by their experiences and feeding off their enthusiasm, reading, reflecting and putting into practice the changes to our conditioning which strengthen the ability to say “Not this” or “neti” in Sanskrit. School of Yoga – Suggestions on integrating jñāna-yoga into daily life. Since change impacts our sense of identity, there is anxiety and fear. This affects our ability to accept change, even though the stimulus may ultimately have a positive impact. Stimuli can be active (such as an oncoming bus), passive (such as a stationary car or umbrella) or subconscious (such as the sky, building or grass). Negation of active stimuli is difficult because it demands immediate response. For example, in the case of an oncoming bus, you have to move out of the way. Passive stimuli are easier as the consequences of negation are easier to manage. For example, if you are late to office and see your boss’s car at the entrance, there is anxiety, but it is less than an oncoming bus. This is because the existential threat is more in your control. But, how do you negate the subconscious stimuli? For example, how do you negate the sky? How do you say, it does not exist? Or that the existence is an illusion. As one progresses with discrimination and dispassion by negating the material aspects of existence, the ability to negate existential stimuli increases. School of Yoga – jñāna-yoga and bond (bandana): Stimuli can also be graded by levels of distance from the identity, this being defined by the relationships we have; Primary bonds are those that we have with our parents, children or spouses. Secondary bonds would include close friends, relatives etc. Tertiary bond are casual one-on-one relationships. Formal bonds are those made at work or in any team. Societal bonds are those which would impact our existence in society such as elections, environment etc. Conditioning or dharmic bond is one which is given to us by DNA, parents, home, family, school and society. This is very difficult to negate as it affects the core of our sense of Self (asmitā). Each bond assumes importance in different situations. Therefore, as the importance of a particular bond reduces, so will the attachment. However; Negation of activity does not mean stoppage of activity. It only means reducing the impact of the bond on our sense of Self (asmitā).Therefore, we should guard ourselves against reducing the quality of our transactions as we begin to realise the impermanence of the bond.  For example, when working in a team, it is possible that when negating a stimulus, the person negates the team or the activity. This is not the intent of the concept. One should remain engaged in the activity, yet completely conscious that it is illusory, maya or farce. As one grows older, the importance of each bond changes. So, achieving career objectives often changes to maintaining quality of career as one grows older. However, each experience leaves residues. Purging this memory is very important for negation of stimulus because baggage is a source of inertia, demanding attention but contributing very little development. The final goal is negation of existence of one’s own identity (Siva). As one begins the negation process from outside to inside – first, society is made irrelevant, events lose significance. Next, there is negation of stimuli which add no direct value. This includes exit from social media, TV, and over time – news. Finally, there is negation of ambition, imagination and expectation. School of Yoga explains – how to practice jñāna-yoga. Some points to succeed in jñāna-yoga. Practice discrimination of stimuli. Isolate and negate what which is temporary or impermanent. Avoid the compulsion to react. Accept change and its associated uncertainties. Find friends with similar Yoga goals. Compare notes and seek help. Manage fear and anxiety by exercise, breathing and rationalizing (nidhidhyasana). Negate conditioning or dharma – slowly, work towards a position where no situation is considered permanent without evidence. For example – In sensitive subjects such as marriage, birth, death or even matters of faith, there is no evidence that any one position is valid. This means accepting that ambivalence exists even though one’s conditioning or dharma might dictate otherwise. Keep discarding baggage, attitudes and judgments. Finally, negate your own existence. This is incredibly difficult and might not occur while primary bonds exist. Be prepared for many and recurring experiences of a sense of loss, detachment and lack of fit with society. Start each day as a fresh day with no baggage. Use the “present” as a “gift” and negate all images of the past or future. Summary of suggestions – The steps mentioned below need to be experienced, not just intellectually or emotionally but as a part of one’s identity. Learn to discriminate stimuli, isolate and negate what which is temporary or impermanent. Choose your battles, avoid the compulsion to react unless required. Accept change and its myriad uncertainties. Manage fear and anxiety by exercise, breathing and rationalizing. Negate conditioning or dharma – slowly, work towards a position where no situation is considered permanent without evidence – for example sensitive subjects such asmarriage, birth, death or even God. In such matters, while there is no evidence that one position is valid, there is also no evidence that a counter position is valid. This means accepting that a situation of ambivalence exists even though one’s conditioning or dharma might dictate otherwise. Stop seeking solutions, accept whatever comes your way and work without attachment. Keep discarding baggage, attitudes and judgements. Finally, negate your own existence. This is incredibly difficult and might not occur while primary bonds exist. Be prepared for many and recurring experiences of a sense of loss, detachment and a lack of fit with the environment, called virakti. Points to Ponder on jñāna-yoga. Internal Tags: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Stress and prana, Awareness measures, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga. What is jñāna-yoga? What are the fundamentals of jñāna-yoga? How does on integrate jñāna-yoga into daily life? How does one cope with the stress of negation? [...] Read more...
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 6 (dhyāna-yoga)
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 6 (dhyāna-yoga)Acknowledgement. School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (yoga of meditation). Introduction. Our journey into Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā begin in chapter 1 with delusion and confusion. In chapter 2, the source, sustenance and motility of existence, Brahman is explained. Thereafter, in chapters 3, 4 and 5, Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains action, knowledge of action and renunciation of action respectively.  In this chapter, dhyāna-yoga, Śrī Kṛṣṇa closes a critical gap, a tool that cleans the student’s Self internally (ātmaśuddhye). Let us review components of any action? There are two types of action – we act without stimulus/ input or respond to incoming stimulus! When we act without stimulus, we are driven by an internal desire for an outcome. Our action is a manifestation of our sense of self-worth (asmitā). Whether we respond or react to stimulus, in addition to manifestation of self-worth, we also seek to protect our sense of identity (puruṣa). Both, action and reaction are driven by fear (tamas) or desire (rajas) of loss of self-worth (asmitā) and identity (puruṣa). Importantly, any activity (karma), by itself is inanimate. It gets texture by two factors – desire for outcome, which drives motivation to perform (saṅkalpa), expectation of result or fruits of action (karmaphala) which results in fear of outcome and duality (like-dislike, good-bad-right-wrong etc.) and the feeling of being the doer (ahaṃkāra). The action process… There has to be someone who initiates action, owns it and performs it. This is the doer or (kartṛ). Next, the doer needs a reason (kāraṇa). Also, this is called causation, or reason for performing the action. The reason needs to transform into motivation or application of will (saṅkalpa) so that action (karma) may be initiated and completed. Finally, from effort comes result (karmaphala). Everything in action is about whether we control it or not. Ability to control action comes from free-will, but to what extent is free-will actually free? How can we increase the span of free will? School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 1-3). Acting without stimulus, yajña and saṅkalpa. Firstly, all action (karma) arises from motivation (saṅkalpa).  Next, once a cause is established, then effort (karma) has to be applied to achieve the result. Almost always, sanctioned actions also involve personal sacrifice or yajña. For example, a parent looking after his or her child has to sacrifice time, energy and resources. A student, to get good marks, must sacrifice time and effort to learn. However, it is important to remember that motivation or desire (icchā) will result in expectation of outcome (karmaphala). Parents begin to have expectations of a child, students who have studied hard expect good marks. As a result, self-worth (asmitā) becomes attached to the outcome because once expectations get set, self-worth is dependent on success and good feedback. For instance, students get anxious before competitive exams and also before results are announced because of what it means to them. Importantly, quality of will (saṅkalpa) includes capability, resources and other factors which determine quality of action and outcome. For example, a person wanting to pass a competitive exam will need to have the ability or will for sustained effort, resources to buy or borrow study material and build an ability to write the exam etc. Additionally, self-worth (asmitā) determines the quantum of agitation when action is performed. For example, when we are confident of what we are doing, there is minimal agitation. However, when we are afraid or unsure of our actions, or afraid of an adverse outcome, there is enormous stress, fear and agitation. Thus, one can see that while free-will may motivate the beginning of any activity, as factors such as expectations (karmaphala), desire (kāma), frustration with obstacles, personality issues and other factors kick-in, free-will becomes difficult to sustain and one often gets hijacked by the situation.  School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga. Reacting to stimulus. Reaction to stimulus has two parts; Primary response and secondary response. Primary response – When we receive stimulus, first, we assess the risk. This is done by the amygdala, a small organ which is part of the limbic system in the brain. Here, the amygdala, which is a storehouse of experiences uses prior conditioning (dharma) to trigger a fight or flight response. This reaction is mostly instinctive and has no free-will component in it because of the way the amygdala is designed and programmed. There is awareness (prajñā) but the rational brain is mostly hijacked in any instinctive response. Secondary response – depending on the strength of the primary response, the cognitive and intellectual systems of our rational brain get activated. Here again, conditioning (dharma) determines the strength of free-will, but the elemental sense of self-worth (asmitā) is able to assert itself and control the response.  Dharma is conditioning. Before examining our reaction to stimulus, let us review our system capability for response. Like computers, we have hardware and software. The hardware is our DNA, health and age. These determine our ability to handle information, memory, speed of processing information and quality of our sensory apparatus. Culture, background, education and experience which form our operating system become the software. The combination of hardware and software forms our conditioning or natural state, the envelope of existence in which we are most comfortable. This is dharma. So, where does free-will come in? How can we control our actions and reactions? The fact is that like computers, our ability to act or react is mostly set by our dharma and the network we are connected to. This means that we are also impacted by the dharma of those we interact with and the environment we are in at the time. So, dharma also includes dharma of the environment where decisions are made. Dharma, to a large extent is governed by our prārabdha-karma (debt that has come up for repayment). Prārabdha-karma is that debt which has come up for repayment or it can also be one where we are the creditors, where others owe us. Either way, this reduces the scope for free-will. Additionally, when we exert our will to control outcomes, we create karma, thus building debit and credit into our accounts which brings us back into the cycle of repayment. For example, we are born to specific sets to parents. We go to specific schools in our environment even though there may be other options. We like and bond with specific class mates, some more that others. We like certain subjects and excel in specific sports. Our aptitude in computers, singing or painting come to us at birth. We take up certain professions, marry specific people and have children that are unique to us. This is on account of debt or prārabdha-karma. The need to control outcomes and create karma can come from fear of impact on self-worth as well as conditioning (dharma), embedded desire arising from prārabdha-karma, also known as vāsanā, low self-worth (asmitā), fear of failure, expectation loss, opinion of others, all of which can be clubbed under the feeling of being the doer (ahaṃkāra), and loss of awareness (prajñā). Karma and dharma impact all of us, that’s why it is universal (sanātana). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 4-10). Application of will (saṅkalpa). Topping everything is the realisation that we are our best friend or worst enemy. So, the only way to improve our abilities is by using our awareness (prajñā) to improve our self-worth (asmitā).  While the awareness of individuality is will, the ability to exercise that will does not happen easily. Importantly, upon determining course of action, the degree of calmness and awareness that we retain (self-control) when acting determines the quality of activity and outcome. Additionally, if expectation or desire of outcome is removed, then will (saṅkalpa) reduces in value because the action is performed for itself and not personal gain. This means that the feeling of being the doer (ahaṃkāra) is removed. Also, when one removes expectation of outcome, fear is removed and self-worth (asmitā) remains unaffected/ undamaged. Importantly, when a person acts with reduced passion, this ensures that personalities are separated from the action. Consequently, everyone the self-worth of everyone in the transaction is likely to be protected from turbulence and the effort becomes peaceful and beneficial to everyone.  Also, when ahaṅkāra (the feeling of being the doer) is removed from the action itself, there is more focus on perfection of effort and stability of outcome rather that personal gain in the effort. Consequently, one who aspires to sannyāsa and to be a yogī should renounce all will (saṅkalpa) and perform action as duty, without seeking any fruits from his actions. However, the yogī must not sacrifice logic or method. This is because, without proper process or system adherence, outcome is bound to be sub-optimal. For example, when preparing for an exam, the right approach is to try and dissociate ourselves from the outcome. However, if the preparation is without proper effort or systematic and sustained study, then there can be no hope of success even if we were to try and dissociate ourselves from the outcome. Obviously, to increase the strength of will and reduce the impact of illusion (māyā) is not easy and requires sustained effort. The good news is that once a person reaches this stage of perfection (siddhapuruṣa), then the person remains unaffected by any or all turbulence that he encounters and remains calm in any situation. Examples. As children, we go to school. To compete is natural. Our capabilities get tested and our abilities emerge when we compete. However, competing can be stressful. So, when competing in a game, if we are asked to enjoy the game rather than on victory, then our ability to be in harmony with ourselves, use our capabilities to the fullest and enjoy the game becomes very high. As professionals, competition can become very toxic as the rat race can often mean employment or loss of it. So, stakes increase dramatically along with stress level. In such circumstances, keeping a cool, level head can be difficult. Actually, what most people don’t realise is that backing off from competition reduces stress and allows us to work in a sustained and sensible manner without increasing perception of threat with our co-workers. Consequently, our output improves and as results show, reward follow. As managers or supervisors, the problem of using will and detaching self-worth from outcome becomes even more difficult. Often, team outcomes determine existence and health of the team as well as managers. Also, like any team, members come with different skill sets, motivations, personalities and maturity levels. Thus, keeping all team-members aligned to a goal without personalities becoming involved is crucial to success. Conversely, the danger of removing personalities could result in passion being destroyed. Hence, leadership skills of any manager require him to diffuse the impact of success or failure without affecting morale of the team. Often, this means stepping back from the action, reducing his or her own drive, setting goals and monitoring performance and wisely distributing rewards and punishment so that the team focuses and functions effectively. As a result, anxieties of reaching or failing to achieve overall targets do not affect present performance and the team functions effectively. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 11-17). Increasing strength of one’s will.  Firstly, in order to rise in the practice of yoga, one should reduce material contact or reduce their impact on cognition (manas). The fact is, all stimuli come in through the senses. So, when the number of stimuli sources increase, our ability to pay sufficient attention to each point of stimulus reduces commensurately. For example, if we are studying for an exam in front of the TV while the rest of the family are eating chocolate cake or chips, the ability to pay attention to studies will reduce dramatically. Secondly, to reduce attachment towards stimuli, view all entities as having a soul (ātman) which is equal to our own (sama-dṛṣṭi). When we do this, our ability to relate to the object without getting overwhelmed by its significance to us improves. For example, when studying for an exam or preparing a project report, if we were to view the exam or project as a soul which is equal to our own, we stop giving it more weightage or less weightage that we ordinarily would have. While this does not reduce the importance of the exam, it brings equanimity to our transactions and allows balanced reactions. Thirdly, a key aspect of managing matters of the Soul (ātman) is to recognise that we are “Our best friend or worst enemy”. Additionally, control of the Soul (ātman) is about controlling what happens to the Soul when we are exposed to stimulus, good or bad. Consequently, when we decode the stimulus with full awareness (prajñā), process the information without passion, personalities or assigned value (ahaṅkāra), focus on the outcome and remove fear, we begin to control the process as well as the outcome. As a result, the Soul begins to harmonise towards a natural state of peace. Of course, this requires practice, but when we do it consciously (control the citta or consciousness), then free-will and self-reliance increase and there is a deeper anchor in the state of peace. Lastly, how do we know that we are on the right track? When we are at peace or to use a colloquial term “feel cool or positive about everything”, then we know that we are in control.  Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā (chapter 1, verse 10 – 16) on dhyāna (meditation). Haṭha-yoga protects the yogī from pain like a house and supports his efforts like a tortoise. In fact, the yoga practitioner should keep the knowledge secret. He should practice in a small room, situated in an isolated place, free from stones, fire and water or disturbances of any kind and governed in a dhārmic manner (meaning all citizens conformed to the rule of law and live in peace). Also, the room should have a small door, level, be free from holes and hollows, be neither too high or low, be well plastered with cow dung and be free from dirt, filth and insects. Outside, there should be a shaded area with raised seat with a well, enclosed in a compound. Finally, the yogī should rid himself of anxiety and then begin the practice of Hatha Yoga as instructed by his guru. (verse 15) 6 virtues impede development in Haṭha-yoga – they are over-eating, excessive exertion, excessive talking, excessive adherence to rules, company of humans and unsteadiness. (verse 16) 6 habits bring success – zeal, boldness of drive and willingness to start, patience, perseverance, ability to discriminate, clarity of purpose and aloofness. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 11-17). How should one meditate?  Firstly, the practitioner should rely only on himself for all improvements, for each person is his own best friend or worst enemy. Secondly, the yogī should be steady and without agitation within. This happens when one views all creation equally, without assigning differential personal value (I want this, I hate this, I don’t like that person). Also, this includes animate and inanimate objects, friends and foes, relatives and saints. Additionally, this means that one should be calm and peaceful when experiencing opposites such as cold / heat, pleasure / pain or honour / dishonour. Undoubtedly, the most important requirement for a serious practitioner is finding a country or region (deśa) which is well administered. This ensures that there are no disturbances and turbulences in the surroundings, there is law and order and as a result practice of meditation is undisturbed. An important self-control requirement is celebacy (brahmacaryam). What is celebacy in yoga? Celebacy in yoga can be termed as control over seminal fluid discharge. Why? Seminal fluids have an ingredient called ojas which acts like a sheath over the nāḍi (channels through which prāṇa flows). Depletion of ojas leads to musculo-skeletal weakness and stressed nerves which impedes concentration in meditation. Also, practice of celebacy (brahmacaryam) is an exercise in self-control. Ideally, complete stoppage of sexual activity is advised, but if that it not possible, then it must be kept under control. Next, the yogī should sit in a clean place which is neither high nor low, over a bed of cloth and kuśa. So, why is the seat important? Why should it be neither too high nor too low? When we sit too high or low, we never get the right perspective of our environment which results in a perceptual feeling of discomfort. When we sit in a place where we are unable to view our surroundings, we become insecure and uncomfortable, For example. When travelling, most of us prefer facing the direction of travel, because we get to see where we are going and what’s coming. Similarly, when we are sitting in the rear seat of a car, we prefer a place from where we can see the road and where we are going. Lastly, at home, we each have a preferred seat, mostly one which gives us maximum view of our surroundings, those that give us security, where we can see threat and can control outcomes.  Then, the practitioner should control the sensory organs (indriyas) and cognitive apparatus (manas) by turning the consciousness (citta) After this, the yogī should try and hold his (manas) steady to a single point (ekāgra) to purify the awareness of the Self (prajñā). Lastly, the yogī should hold his body, head and neck in a balanced (sama) position and gazing at the tip of the nose (nāsikāgra). Additionally, he should avoid getting distracted by avoiding outside contact during the practice. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 18-20). Progress in meditation.  Slowly, the practitioner is able to slow down the speed with which the consciousness (citta) reaches out to objects for affirmation of existence, increasing free-will. When this happens, the consciousness becomes steady like a lamp in a windless room. In fact, one may compare the breeze in a room to external disturbances and the lamp to the reaction of the consciousness to those disturbances. When the consciousness (citta) is quietened, it stops seeking outside and looks at its own Self or Soul (ātman) for sustenance. Then, the consciousness slowly merges (yoga) with its own Self (ātman). When this happens and the consciousness is no longer agitating or looking for sustenance, it ceases to operate the sensory organs (indriyas) and cognitive apparatus (manas). Finally, this results in what is called nirvikalpa-samādhi or changeless merger, the final state of yoga. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 21-25). Grief in yoga. When the yogī begins to slow down the movement of the consciousness, it turns inwards towards the Soul (ātman) for sustenance. When this happens, a lot of the suppressed and repressed emotions, desires and memories are released. Consequently, there is a great experience of loss, pain and grief because the memory remembers negative stimuli more starkly than positive one as they have been the source of lessons in self-preservation and sustenance. How does this happen? Importantly, let’s look at how māyā (illusion or farce) works! We are born with a particular configuration or DNA. Next, our parents load our operating systems. Later, we get various other programmes loaded onto us by school, our teachers and friends. Finally, we get hooked onto a system called society. This process of conformance management gives us a conditioning called dharma. Dharma is that natural state where we are at peace with ourselves and our surrounding. Also, dharma is the basis on which we decide like-dislike, good-bad, right-wrong etc. Consequently, we apply dharma to all our transactions and relationships. As a result, often there are conflict between our dharma and the dharma of others, and this results in conflicts that often result in damaged or ruptured relationships. This causes grief and pain which needs to be reconciled and healed. Unfortunately, when we are actively engaged with our environment, the consciousness (citta) is outward looking and busy, so the impact of this damage is not pronounced. But, when the citta (consciousness) slows down and looks at the Self (ātman), all the suppressed experiences find a space for self-expression and resolution. So, the asmitā generates grief and pain based on blurred images, repressed desires and unfulfilled expectations. Also, depending on the importance of the object, there is an additional weightage of sentiment (bhāva) which either amplifies or reduces the experience of grief and pain. With effort, there is reconciliation. For example, a misunderstanding with our parents or children, if it has severe consequences, is likely to generate more grief than a disagreement with a boss, friend or neighbour. So, the degree depends on proximity, bond, relationship and outcome. However, overcoming this stage is critical because a turbulent or distracted consciousness (citta) will not become steady unless the source of stimuli is reconciled. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga. Agitation in meditation. Competence in meditation comes with psychosomatic balance. The starting point is ensuring good health because, agitation occurs when the homeostatic balance is disturbed. Homeostasis is that aspect of the body whereby the operating conditions of the body are within established parameters, such as temperature, blood pressure, haemoglobin etc. along with other chemical parameters such as potassium, iron, calcium etc. and also hormonal balance. When these parameters are in balance, the person feels comfortable and at peace. Next, imbalance occurs when the person experiences the need to change. Since change requires readjustment, it creates disruption and insecurity and the person gets stressed. Thus, there is pressure on the person’s self-esteem (asmitā) as the psyche seeks to establish understanding and control over the situation. Consequently, the consciousness continuously seeks confirmation of existence from an external entity, especially one that it trusts. Additionally, during meditation, homeostasis balance is disturbed when the consciousness (citta), after turning inwards begins to experience old suppressed and repressed baggage that come out and seek expression in the form of loss, pain and grief. Obviously, this will disturb any meditation practice. Lastly, there is the material nature of consciousness (citta) itself that hampers meditation. By nature, consciousness (citta) seeks expression and establishes bonds. For a yogī, this becomes a major impediment because the cognitive apparatus keeps moving from one entity to another and does not allow steady focus (ekāgratā). Hence, constant cleaning and calming of the soul (ātmaśuddhaye) is very important. Particularly, old baggage needs to be discarded, pain and grief reconciled, disturbances and stains on the soul (ātman) need to be continuously cleaned. Finally, the yogī should try to live in solitude to subdue internal agitations until he begins to achieve steady and constant awareness of the Self (sthithaprajñā). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga. Final aspects of meditation, solutions. Firstly, the yoga of equanimity is difficult because the cognitive apparatus (manas) keeps shifting (cancala), it is like the wind – turbulent (pramāthi), strong (balavat) and unyielding to control (dṛḍha). Additionally, it is restless (cancalatvat) and this acts as an impediment to achieving the state of steadiness (sthiti-sthira) (verse 26-40). Doubtlessly, the cognitive apparatus is difficult to control on account of the nature of consciousness and the fact that it continuously seeks external and internal verification of its own existence. However, with practice and dispassion (vairāgya) this control can be exerted. Arjuna asks – what happens to one who is dedicated but whose cognitive apparatus wanders? Does he face destruction, the yogī who has not achieved perfection? (verse 37-39) Śrī Kṛṣṇa says – Firstly, no destruction can come to him that acts in good faith. In fact, what happens is that such a person is reborn into a pure and prosperous surrounding or into a family of enlightened yogīs where he can continue where he can continue where he left off. Thereafter, when intent and effort are employed in a dedicated manner, the practitioner will reach liberation over time (verse 41 onwards). In fact, the yogī is superior to ascetics, philosophers, intellectuals and, men of action. So, one must aspire to be a yogī, one that is completely anchored in the source (Brahman). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga. Some practical tips on meditation. First, sit in a secluded place. Ensure that the place is one where you can go to regularly and has a pleasant atmosphere. Also, the temperature in the room should be conducive for long practice (sādhanā) Next, sit on a chair or on the floor. Floor postures hold the body more firmly, this is preferred. Lastly, sit in a comfortable pose. padmāsana, sukhāsana or vajrāsana are preferred, but it is possible that there is discomfort initially. If this happens, start with one of the above āsanas and re-seat to a comfortable posture for the remainder of the meditation period. Over time, one pose will become the preferred pose and the body will fall naturally into it. But the important point to remember is that the spinal curvature must be naturally erect and the coccyx, which is the seat of the mūlādhāra-cakra must be stable. Next, relax the body using auto-suggestion (suggestive commands given by the person to himself or herself). Start from the top of the head and slowly relax each part. Also, try to break the command into specific locations. For example; instead of saying “relax the brain”, say “relax the front of the brain, relax the left side, relax the right side, relax the back… etc…” Consequently, this will lead to quicker and more effective relaxation. Relax completely. Remember that relaxation becomes deeper with practice. In fact, when the body has relaxed completely, it will be noticed that breathing becomes shallow and even. Observe the breathing. Importantly, watch the interval between pūraka (inhalation) and recaka (exhalation) and vice-versa. This is kumbhaka. Here, there is a minuscule period of stillness where the breath crosses over from inhalation to exhalation and vice-versa. Focus on this emptiness. Try to extend the stillness even when breathing restarts. Also, try to keep the breathing even and without ripples or agitation. Stay in this position for around 10-20 minutes. Also, do not practice more than once or twice a day or for longer periods unless you are interested in deeper spiritual investigation. Some tips on reducing distraction. First, to avoid distraction, reduce interaction with people. Additionally, this includes social media. So, if you are active in groups, slowly reduce your activity. As a result, you will have less disturbances, because you will think less about how you wish to interact. Second, reduce watching TV. If you are addicted to serial binging, slowly reduce the frequency and finally stop. Rightfully, the TV is called an “idiot box”, it makes an idiot out of the viewer.  Next, reduce your exposure to news. Most of the news is sensationalised and you have no control over the outcome anyway. Lastly, reduce speaking. In fact, speak only when you know that you can add value or make a difference. Try to increase the silence in speech to silence within and peace all-around. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga. Lessons learned. In chapter 6, Śrī Kṛṣṇa teaches a person how to increase free-will, a state where action (karma) does not result in creation of debt (ṛṇa). Ability to control free-will is limited because our response (karma) is controlled by conditioning (dharma). Increase of free-will is only possible when control over movement of consciousness (citta) Then, both primary and secondary responses are controlled and hijack by the amygdala of responses is reduced. However, all efforts to control consciousness will be opposed by the sense of Self/ identity (puruṣa or śiva) because of fear of loss of Identity. This results in increased internal conflict, pain and a sense of dissociation from society as one tried to increase the strength of free-will over instinct. However, effort to increase free-will also increases awareness of the Self (jñāna), discrimination between permanent and impermanent (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya). As awareness (prajñā) increases, understanding understand one’s own natural state or conditioning (dharma) allows one to cognise the difference between sanctioned actions or actions without losing equilibrium. So, one is able to avoid those prohibited actions that are performed due to selfish interests or result in chaos or loss of peace (adharma). But, when performing sanctioned action, one must understand correct process, use correct tools and resources and also communicate to all concerned in the right manner if the sanctioned action is to deliver the desired result. Lastly, one should learn to control expectations, accept the outcome with equanimity and avoid duality, so that internal state of peace is retained. In order to increase free will and increase awareness (prajñā), one must practice “union by meditation” (dhyāna-yoga). This will bring greater response control as fear, anxiety, desire or expectation can be calibrated or controlled more easily. Meditation is an exercise of increasing free-will by control of the consciousness (citta). In fact, Sage Patanjali defines yoga as “citta-vṛtti-nirodha“ in Patanjali Yoga Sutra, which roughly translates to “stopping the consciousness from functioning”. Though the above state is clearly samādhi or final merger state, there are multiple intermediate states that the consciousness has to transcend. These are; Dhyāna-yoga is easier said than done. It requires steady effort, sacrificing of desire, and ability to endure pain, grief and failure. The stages that a yogī moves in are,  Kṣipta – scattered, where the consciousness is multi-tasking and distracted. There is poor control of the individual over free-will. Mūḍha – idiotic, where the consciousness engages activity inappropriate to the situation and moment. Here too, there is poor control over free will. Vikṣipta – inattention, where the consciousness does not adhere to any object. Here too, there is poor control over free will. Ekāgra – single point focus, the consciousness is focussed at particular point. There is considerable free-will depending on the level of sustained focus. Niruddha – stopped, the consciousness does not respond. Free-will is one of complete awareness (prajñā). The final state of this state is sthita-prajñā or steady awareness. The Transliteration of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga follows. The Saṃskṛtaṃ words are in red italics. श्रीभगवानुवाच । अनाश्रितः कर्मफलं कार्यं कर्म करोति यः । स सन्न्यासी च योगी च न निरग्निर्न चाक्रियः ॥ ६-१॥ यं सन्न्यासमिति प्राहुर्योगं तं विद्धि पाण्डव । न ह्यसंन्यस्तसङ्कल्पो योगी भवति कश्चन ॥ ६-२॥ आरुरुक्षोर्मुनेर्योगं कर्म कारणमुच्यते । योगारूढस्य तस्यैव शमः कारणमुच्यते ॥ ६-३॥ (1-3) Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: Anyone that performs sanctioned action (karma) and is disengaged from the fruits of action (anāśritaḥ karmaphalaṃ kāryaṃ karma karoti yaḥ ।), he is a sannyāsin (ascetic) and yogī, not he that neither acts, not performs without a sacrificial fire (sa sannyāsī ca yogī ca na niragnirna cākriyaḥ ॥ 6-1॥). However, verily know that renunciation that they call yoga cannot be achieved by anyone without renunciation of saṅkalpa (yaṃ sannyāsamiti prāhuryogaṃ taṃ viddhi pāṇḍava । na hyasaṃnyastasaṅkalpo yogī bhavati kaścana ॥ 6-2॥). It is said that saints desirous of advancing must harmonise action with motivation (ārurukṣormuneryogaṃ karma kāraṇamucyate ।). In fact, it is said that even those who have achieved complete harmony are those who have brought calmness to their reason for action (yogārūḍhasya tasyaiva śamaḥ kāraṇamucyate ॥ 6-3॥). यदा हि नेन्द्रियार्थेषु न कर्मस्वनुषज्जते । सर्वसङ्कल्पसंन्यासी योगारूढस्तदोच्यते ॥ ६-४॥ उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् । आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः ॥ ६-५॥ बन्धुरात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जितः । अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्तेतात्मैव शत्रुवत् ॥ ६-६॥ (4-6) Also, it is said that when one has risen in yoga, then there is no clinging to sense-objects or actions and there is detachment from all drive of the will (yadā hi nendriyārtheṣu na karmasvanuṣajjate । sarvasaṅkalpasaṃnyāsī yogārūḍhastadocyate ॥ 6-4॥). So, elevate the Soul by the Soul itself do not allow the Soul to drop in performance (uddharedātmanātmānaṃ nātmānamavasādayet ।), for the Soul, in truth its only associate and the only adversary of the Soul is itself (ātmaiva hyātmano bandhurātmaiva ripurātmanaḥ ॥ 6-5॥). The Soul becomes a relative when Soul is conquered by the Soul (bandhurātmātmanastasya yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ ।), however, the Soul of the unconquered Soul will be like an enemy until it is conquered by the Soul (anātmanastu śatrutve vartetātmaiva śatruvat ॥ 6-6॥).  जितात्मनः प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहितः । शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु तथा मानापमानयोः ॥ ६-७॥ ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रियः । युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः ॥ ६-८॥ (7-8) The self-controlled, tranquil, Supreme Soul is equipoised in cold/ heat, happiness or sadness as well as honour and dishonour (jitātmanaḥ praśāntasya paramātmā samāhitaḥ । śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkheṣu tathā mānāpamānayoḥ ॥ 6-7॥). It is said that the soul which is secure in the knowledge of the Self and surrounding, has attained unshakable victory over the senses, and harmonised itself, that yogī views everything as gold (jñānavijñānatṛptātmā kūṭastho vijitendriyaḥ । yukta ityucyate yogī samaloṣṭāśmakāñcanaḥ ॥ 6-8॥). सुहृन्मित्रार्युदासीनमध्यस्थद्वेष्यबन्धुषु । साधुष्वपि च पापेषु समबुद्धिर्विशिष्यते ॥ ६-९॥ योगी युञ्जीत सततमात्मानं रहसि स्थितः । एकाकी यतचित्तात्मा निराशीरपरिग्रहः ॥ ६-१०॥ (9-10) One who is always in a state of undisturbed intellect with friends, allies, enemies, those that are sad, lawyers, the odious, relatives, mendicants or sinners always excels (suhṛnmitrāryudāsīnamadhyasthadveṣyabandhuṣu । sādhuṣvapi ca pāpeṣu samabuddhirviśiṣyate ॥ 6-9॥). Let the yogī, in solitude, maintain constant and steady Soul (yogī yuñjīta satatamātmānaṃ rahasi sthitaḥ ।) alone, with a Soul whose consciousness has no hope and free from greed (ekākī yatacittātmā nirāśīraparigrahaḥ ॥ 6-10॥). शुचौ देशे प्रतिष्ठाप्य स्थिरमासनमात्मनः । नात्युच्छ्रितं नातिनीचं चैलाजिनकुशोत्तरम् ॥ ६-११॥ तत्रैकाग्रं मनः कृत्वा यतचित्तेन्द्रियक्रियः । उपविश्यासने युञ्ज्याद्योगमात्मविशुद्धये ॥ ६-१२॥ समं कायशिरोग्रीवं धारयन्नचलं स्थिरः । सम्प्रेक्ष्य नासिकाग्रं स्वं दिशश्चानवलोकयन् ॥ ६-१३॥ (11-13) In a pure country, establish a firm seat that is neither very high nor very low, for the Self, of cloth, antelope skin, kusha grass, one over the other (śucau deśe pratiṣṭhāpya sthiramāsanamātmanaḥ । nātyucchritaṃ nātinīcaṃ cailājinakuśottaram ॥ 6-11॥). There, with a single pointed cognition, bring consciousness and senses under control, being seated in āsana, let him practitice yoga cognition for purification of the Soul (tatraikāgraṃ manaḥ kṛtvā yatacittendriyakriyaḥ । upaviśyāsane yuñjyādyogamātmaviśuddhaye ॥ 6-12॥). Then, holding body, head and neck exactly still, gaze at the tip of own nose and don’t look around (samaṃ kāyaśirogrīvaṃ dhārayannacalaṃ sthiraḥ । samprekṣya nāsikāgraṃ svaṃ diśaścānavalokayan ॥ 6-13॥). प्रशान्तात्मा विगतभीर्ब्रह्मचारिव्रते स्थितः । मनः संयम्य मच्चित्तो युक्त आसीत मत्परः ॥ ६-१४॥ युञ्जन्नेवं सदात्मानं योगी नियतमानसः । शान्तिं निर्वाणपरमां मत्संस्थामधिगच्छति ॥ ६-१५॥ (14-15) The fearless serene Soul that has taken the vows of celibacy, has stable cognition, with a consciousness that is united with me, as the final goal (praśāntātmā vigatabhīrbrahmacārivrate sthitaḥ । manaḥ saṃyamya maccitto yukta āsīta matparaḥ ॥ 6-14॥). Thus, the ever-balanced peaceful Soul of the yogī, with controlled cognition attains primordial absolute liberation at my abode (yuñjannevaṃ sadātmānaṃ yogī niyatamānasaḥ । śāntiṃ nirvāṇaparamāṃ matsaṃsthāmadhigacchati ॥ 6-15॥),  नात्यश्नतस्तु योगोऽस्ति न चैकान्तमनश्नतः । न चातिस्वप्नशीलस्य जाग्रतो नैव चार्जुन ॥ ६-१६॥ युक्ताहारविहारस्य  युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु । युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दुःखहा ॥ ६-१७॥ (16-17) The yogī is one that does not overeat, not, not eat at all he should not dream too much, nor should he be excessively engaged in activity (nātyaśnatastu yogo’sti na caikāntamanaśnataḥ । na cātisvapnaśīlasya jāgrato naiva cārjuna ॥ 6-16॥). He must keep sensible diet and entertainment, keep his consciousness in action, keep sensible balance between sleep and wakefulness, the yogī overcomes pain (yuktāhāravihārasya  yuktaceṣṭasya karmasu । yuktasvapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkhahā ॥ 6-17॥). यदा विनियतं चित्तमात्मन्येवावतिष्ठते । निःस्पृहः सर्वकामेभ्यो युक्त इत्युच्यते तदा ॥ ६-१८॥ यथा दीपो निवातस्थो नेङ्गते सोपमा स्मृता । योगिनो यतचित्तस्य युञ्जतो योगमात्मनः ॥ ६-१९॥ यत्रोपरमते चित्तं निरुद्धं योगसेवया । यत्र चैवात्मनात्मानं पश्यन्नात्मनि तुष्यति ॥ ६-२०॥ (18-20) When he is able to restrain the consciousness solely on the Soul, then freedom from all passion is established, it is said (yadā viniyataṃ cittamātmanyevāvatiṣṭhate । niḥspṛhaḥ sarvakāmebhyo yukta ityucyate tadā ॥ 6-18॥). Just like a lamp placed in an airless place does not flicker that consciousness of yogī harmonises the soul (yathā dīpo nivātastho neṅgate sopamā smṛtā । yogino yatacittasya yuñjato yogamātmanaḥ ॥ 6-19॥). Where consciousness has been quietened, restrained by dedication to yoga and where the soul is satiated by the soul (yatroparamate cittaṃ niruddhaṃ yogasevayā । yatra caivātmanātmānaṃ paśyannātmani tuṣyati ॥ 6-20॥).  सुखमात्यन्तिकं यत्तद् बुद्धिग्राह्यमतीन्द्रियम् । वेत्ति यत्र न चैवायं स्थितश्चलति तत्त्वतः ॥ ६-२१॥ यं लब्ध्वा चापरं लाभं मन्यते नाधिकं ततः । यस्मिन्स्थितो न दुःखेन गुरुणापि विचाल्यते ॥ ६-२२॥ तं विद्याद् दुःखसंयोगवियोगं योगसंज्ञितम् । स निश्चयेन योक्तव्यो योगोऽनिर्विण्णचेतसा ॥ ६-२३॥ (21-23) An infinite peace that cannot be grasped by reason and beyond the senses this changeless knowledge becomes established in all its subtlety (sukhamātyantikaṃ yattad buddhigrāhyamatīndriyam । vetti yatra na caivāyaṃ sthitaścalati tattvataḥ ॥ 6-21॥). Once the cognition has obtained that, no other gain is adequate thereafter it is unmoved even by heavy sorrow (yaṃ labdhvā cāparaṃ lābhaṃ manyate nādhikaṃ tataḥ । yasminsthito na duḥkhena guruṇāpi vicālyate ॥ 6-22॥). The knowledge of pain merger and separation is the knowledge of yoga that union must be practiced with determination with a consciousness that is not downcast (taṃ vidyād duḥkhasaṃyogaviyogaṃ yogasaṃjñitam । sa niścayena yoktavyo yogo’nirviṇṇacetasā ॥ 6-23॥).   सङ्कल्पप्रभवान्कामांस्त्यक्त्वा सर्वानशेषतः । मनसैवेन्द्रियग्रामं विनियम्य समन्ततः ॥ ६-२४॥ शनैः शनैरुपरमेद् बुद्ध्या धृतिगृहीतया । आत्मसंस्थं मनः कृत्वा न किञ्चिदपि चिन्तयेत् ॥ ६-२५॥ (24-25) Having abandoned all vows born out of desires, completely restrict cognition and also all of the senses in totality (saṅkalpaprabhavānkāmāṃstyaktvā sarvānaśeṣataḥ । manasaivendriyagrāmaṃ viniyamya samantataḥ ॥ 6-24॥). Slowly, slowly stop the intellect, hold it firmly in the Self, make the cognition nothing and reflect (śanaiḥ śanairuparamed buddhyā dhṛtigṛhītayā । ātmasaṃsthaṃ manaḥ kṛtvā na kiñcidapi cintayet ॥ 6-25॥).  यतो यतो निश्चरति मनश्चञ्चलमस्थिरम् । ततस्ततो नियम्यैतदात्मन्येव वशं नयेत् ॥ ६-२६॥ प्रशान्तमनसं ह्येनं योगिनं सुखमुत्तमम् । उपैति शान्तरजसं ब्रह्मभूतमकल्मषम् ॥ ६-२७॥ युञ्जन्नेवं सदात्मानं योगी विगतकल्मषः । सुखेन ब्रह्मसंस्पर्शमत्यन्तं सुखमश्नुते ॥ ६-२८॥ (26-28) Whenever there is appearance of disturbance and unsteadiness in the cognition then onward, using self-control, bring the Soul under control (yato yato niścarati manaścañcalamasthiram । tatastato niyamyaitadātmanyeva vaśaṃ nayet ॥ 6-26॥). Truly, the serene soul yields supreme peace, developing peace creates Brahman in one that is unstained (praśāntamanasaṃ hyenaṃ yoginaṃ sukhamuttamam । upaiti śāntarajasaṃ brahmabhūtamakalmaṣam ॥ 6-27॥). Thus, the Soul of the practicing yogī is always unstained the peaceful merger with Brahman gives infinite happiness (yuñjannevaṃ sadātmānaṃ yogī vigatakalmaṣaḥ । sukhena brahmasaṃsparśamatyantaṃ sukhamaśnute ॥ 6-28॥). सर्वभूतस्थमात्मानं सर्वभूतानि चात्मनि । ईक्षते योगयुक्तात्मा सर्वत्र समदर्शनः ॥ ६-२९॥ यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र सर्वं च मयि पश्यति । तस्याहं न प्रणश्यामि स च मे न प्रणश्यति ॥ ६-३०॥ सर्वभूतस्थितं यो मां भजत्येकत्वमास्थितः । सर्वथा वर्तमानोऽपि स योगी मयि वर्तते ॥ ६-३१॥ आत्मौपम्येन सर्वत्र समं पश्यति योऽर्जुन । सुखं वा यदि वा दुःखं स योगी परमो मतः ॥ ६-३२॥ (29-32) Souls exist in all creation, all creation has a Soul, so the yogī sees all Souls to be one and views all with an equal gaze (sarvabhūtasthamātmānaṃ sarvabhūtāni cātmani । īkṣate yogayuktātmā sarvatra samadarśanaḥ ॥ 6-29॥). He sees me everywhere and in me sees he is not lost to me and I am not lost to him (yo māṃ paśyati sarvatra sarvaṃ ca mayi paśyati । tasyāhaṃ na praṇaśyāmi sa ca me na praṇaśyati ॥ 6-30॥). Whoever worships me in the same manner across all creation in every way the yogī remains in me wherever he proceeds (sarvabhūtasthitaṃ yo māṃ bhajatyekatvamāsthitaḥ । sarvathā vartamāno’pi sa yogī mayi vartate ॥ 6-31॥).  All Souls everywhere he that views as the same in happiness and grief, he is regarded as the highest yogī (ātmaupamyena sarvatra samaṃ paśyati yo’rjuna । sukhaṃ vā yadi vā duḥkhaṃ sa yogī paramo mataḥ ॥ 6-32॥). अर्जुन उवाच । योऽयं योगस्त्वया प्रोक्तः साम्येन मधुसूदन । एतस्याहं न पश्यामि चञ्चलत्वात्स्थितिं स्थिराम् ॥ ६-३३॥ चञ्चलं हि मनः कृष्ण प्रमाथि बलवद् दृढम् । तस्याहं निग्रहं मन्ये वायोरिव सुदुष्करम् ॥ ६-३४॥ Arjuna asked (33-34) – This yoga of equality that you are propounding, I am unable to relate due to unsteadiness and abiding steadiness (yo’yaṃ yogastvayā proktaḥ sāmyena madhusūdana । etasyāhaṃ na paśyāmi cañcalatvātsthitiṃ sthirām ॥ 6-33॥). The cognition is fickle, agitation is strong and unyielding I find controlling the cognition which is like the wind difficult to do (cañcalaṃ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa pramāthi balavad dṛḍham । tasyāhaṃ nigrahaṃ manye vāyoriva suduṣkaram ॥ 6-34॥).  श्रीभगवानुवाच । असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहं चलम् । अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते ॥ ६-३५॥ असंयतात्मना योगो दुष्प्राप इति मे मतिः । वश्यात्मना तु यतता शक्योऽवाप्तुमुपायतः ॥ ६-३६॥ śrī Kṛṣṇa replied – (35-36) Without doubt, cognition is difficult to control and restless by practice and dispassion it is controlled (asaṃśayaṃ mahābāho mano durnigrahaṃ calam । abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa ca gṛhyate ॥ 6-35॥). A Soul without controlled cognition finds it hard to attain harmony, in my opinion but it is possible to acquire an obedient Soul by implementing proper methodology (asaṃyatātmanā yogo duṣprāpa iti me matiḥ । vaśyātmanā tu yatatā śakyo’vāptumupāyataḥ ॥ 6-36॥).  अर्जुन उवाच । अयतिः श्रद्धयोपेतो योगाच्चलितमानसः । अप्राप्य योगसंसिद्धिं कां गतिं कृष्ण गच्छति ॥ ६-३७॥ कच्चिन्नोभयविभ्रष्टश्छिन्नाभ्रमिव नश्यति । अप्रतिष्ठो महाबाहो विमूढो ब्रह्मणः पथि ॥ ६-३८॥ एतन्मे संशयं कृष्ण छेत्तुमर्हस्यशेषतः । त्वदन्यः संशयस्यास्य छेत्ता न ह्युपपद्यते ॥ ६-३९॥ Arjuna asked – (37-39) what is the fate of one who does not possess dedication in yoga and has a disturbed cognition, what happens to him who is unable to reach perfection in yoga?  (ayatiḥ śraddhayopeto yogāccalitamānasaḥ । aprāpya yogasaṃsiddhiṃ kāṃ gatiṃ kṛṣṇa gacchati ॥ 6-37॥). Is it not that without steadfastness one is separated from both sides and destroyed without steadfast or confused effort on the path of the Brahman (kaccinnobhayavibhraṣṭaśchinnābhramiva naśyati । apratiṣṭho mahābāho vimūḍho brahmaṇaḥ pathi ॥ 6-38॥)?  This is my confusion Krishna, please remove it completely, other than you, none is capable of dispelling it completely (etanme saṃśayaṃ kṛṣṇa chettumarhasyaśeṣataḥ । tvadanyaḥ saṃśayasyāsya chettā na hyupapadyate ॥ 6-39॥).  श्रीभगवानुवाच । पार्थ नैवेह नामुत्र विनाशस्तस्य विद्यते । न हि कल्याणकृत्कश्चिद् दुर्गतिं तात गच्छति ॥ ६-४०॥ प्राप्य पुण्यकृतां लोकानुषित्वा शाश्वतीः समाः । शुचीनां श्रीमतां गेहे योगभ्रष्टोऽभिजायते ॥ ६-४१॥ (40-41) Partha – truly, not here nor in the next world is there destruction of him, nor does reversal of fate come to performers of beneficial deeds, my son (pārtha naiveha nāmutra vināśastasya vidyate । na hi kalyāṇakṛtkaścid durgatiṃ tāta gacchati ॥ 6-40॥). Having acquired meritorious outcomes through everlasting equilibrium when on earth the one fallen from yoga is reborn at a home where there is purity and prosperity (prāpya puṇyakṛtāṃ lokānuṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ । śucīnāṃ śrīmatāṃ gehe yogabhraṣṭo’bhijāyate ॥ 6-41॥). अथवा योगिनामेव कुले भवति धीमताम् । एतद्धि दुर्लभतरं लोके जन्म यदीदृशम् ॥ ६-४२॥ तत्र तं बुद्धिसंयोगं लभते पौर्वदेहिकम् । यतते च ततो भूयः संसिद्धौ कुरुनन्दन ॥ ६-४३॥ (42-43) Or, within yogī or even clans of the wise, for truly, getting a human birth like this is difficult (athavā yogināmeva kule bhavati dhīmatām । etaddhi durlabhataraṃ loke janma yadīdṛśam ॥ 6-42॥). There his wisdom is harmonised with that obtained during prior existence, then with more effort there can be complete perfection, son of Kurus (tatra taṃ buddhisaṃyogaṃ labhate paurvadehikam । yatate ca tato bhūyaḥ saṃsiddhau kurunandana ॥ 6-43॥).  पूर्वाभ्यासेन तेनैव ह्रियते ह्यवशोऽपि सः । जिज्ञासुरपि योगस्य शब्दब्रह्मातिवर्तते ॥ ६-४४॥ प्रयत्नाद्यतमानस्तु योगी संशुद्धकिल्बिषः । अनेकजन्मसंसिद्धस्ततो याति परां गतिम् ॥ ६-४५॥ (44-45) Truly, from previous learnings is born a helplessness to carry forward in spite of himself, to go beyond the word of Brahman and obtain the wisdom of yoga (pūrvābhyāsena tenaiva hriyate hyavaśo’pi saḥ । jijñāsurapi yogasya śabdabrahmātivartate ॥ 6-44॥). With effort and self-control, the yogī gets purified from faults of many births and attains the goal of supreme perfection (prayatnādyatamānastu yogī saṃśuddhakilbiṣaḥ । anekajanmasaṃsiddhastato yāti parāṃ gatim ॥ 6-45॥). तपस्विभ्योऽधिको योगी ज्ञानिभ्योऽपि मतोऽधिकः । कर्मिभ्यश्चाधिको योगी तस्माद्योगी भवार्जुन ॥ ६-४६॥ योगिनामपि सर्वेषां मद्गतेनान्तरात्मना । श्रद्धावान्भजते यो मां स मे युक्ततमो मतः ॥ ६-४७॥ (46-47) Superior to ascetics are yogīs, even superior to those who have achieved great wisdom (tapasvibhyo’dhiko yogī jñānibhyo’pi mato’dhikaḥ ।), even superior to people of action is the yogī, therefore become a yogī, Arjuna (karmibhyaścādhiko yogī tasmādyogī bhavārjuna ॥ 6-46॥). Of all the yogīs, those that place me in their inner Soul (yogināmapi sarveṣāṃ madgatenāntarātmanā ।), worships with dedication, that I consider most integrated Soul (śraddhāvānbhajate yo māṃ sa me yuktatamo mataḥ ॥ 6-47॥). [...] Read more...
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 7 (jñāna-vijñāna-yoga)
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 7 (jñāna-vijñāna-yoga)Acknowledgement. School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 7, jñāna-vijñāna-yoga (Yoga of awareness of the Self in any situation). Introduction. From Chapters 1 to 6, Śrī Kṛṣṇa discourses on action (karma) and the method of transcending it. From Chapter 6, Śrī Kṛṣṇa changes tack and heads into the conceptual basis of Yoga, beginning with jñāna and vijñāna. What is jñāna? it is cognition of Brahman, the source, Truth or Transcendental Self.  What is vijñāna? It is the conceptual understanding of materiality, cognition of īśvara or Viṣṇu – the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti. In fact, it is the awareness of the Self in everything that leads up to jñāna. At a local level, vijñāna includes cognition of the motility of any system or entity. Yoga is the union of the impermanent material Self with the state of permanent state or Brahman or Truth. One might also call Yoga as the point where there is merger of jñāna and vijñāna. Here, it is important to understand the role of free-will (saṅkalpa) and consciousness (citta), because consciousness is the connecting medium between jñāna and vijñāna. Citta is the motility of vijñāna and when free-will (saṅkalpa) is used to subdue the functioning of citta, yoga occurs (yogaścitta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 7, jñāna-vijñāna-yoga (verse 1-3). Creation. Śrī Kṛṣṇa speaks about the value of surrender; how complete surrender leads to subduing of the Self (asmitā). While he recommends surrender unto him (Śrī Kṛṣṇa), this surrender could be any entity because the quality of surrender is the same in all instances. Śrī Kṛṣṇa divides creation into two, lower and higher order of creation. First, comes lower order of creation (lower prakṛti) or the material creation. This constitutes the material universe and has an eightfold divided state comprising earth (pṛthvī), water (ap), fire (agni), air (vāyu), ether (ākāśa), seat of cognition (manas – where all the sensory stimuli are collated), seat of intelligence (buddhi, where the incoming stimulus is compared with conditioning or dharma and reaction is formulated) and the feeling that I am the doer (ahaṃkāra). Second, there is a higher level of creation (Brahman) that creates lower the order of creation, also called prakṛti. Brahman pervades everything and provides the motive force for creation, sustenance and dissolution of all matter. Śrī Kṛṣṇa then declares that all creation proceeds from him and he is the motility that drives their natural state (dharma).  Additionally, Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that he is passion and all contrary attributes that are natural to any entity. For example, hate, anger, delusion, negativity, divisiveness, prejudice etc. proceed from Śrī Kṛṣṇa also! Finally, Śrī Kṛṣṇa states that although he is the creator and nature of all existence, he is not the participant. Consequently, karma or experience of the doer does not affect him. So, what is Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s position and role in the overall scheme of things? How is he linked to Brahman? Is he some transition point between Brahman and creation? Śrī Kṛṣṇa also seems to be positioning himself as the transition between jñāna and vijñāna. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 7, jñāna-vijñāna-yoga. Concept of Creation Definition: A divided state is one where there are two discrete states that may or may not be linked. However, in this case, because Brahman is the underlying foundation and motility of both, the two states are inextricably linked. The two states can be separated into a higher-level state that starts from Brahman and ends with the beginning of creation (jñāna), followed by the lower-level state which encompasses creation, maintenance and dissolution of all entities (vijñāna). How are the two states of jñāna and vijñāna linked? Jñāna is the cognition of the Self or the Brahman, vijñāna is the cognition of the identity of all material existence (māyā) that emerge downstream from Brahman. Common to both states is prajñā, which is awareness of Brahman, while consciousness (citta) is the medium that carries the cognition of motility (vijñāna) in material existence (māyā). How are these two states different? We know that Brahman is the underlying foundation of both states, providing the motive force for creating, activating, sustaining and destroying all elements, entities and systems. So, let us first understand Brahman. Brahman is that state of infinite, imperishable (cannot die) and immutable (cannot change) state of peace. This state can be compared to a state of null (nothing) or infinity, the “null” being a state of nothing and “infinity” being a state of expanding illusion (Viṣṇu or īśvara) that equals 1/0. The difference between null and infinity is that null has no material while infinity has material which is based on the foundation of null (illusion). From Brahman emerges a weave of puruṣa (Identity or experiencer) and prakṛti (creation). Brahman provides the motility for both but does not participate. The weave of puruṣa and prakṛti results in two possibilities. Brahman with attributes (saguṇa-brahman), where both puruṣa and prakṛti weave with each other to create materiality (māyā) and Brahman without attributes (nirguṇa–brahman), where prakṛti does not manifest and the experiencer or identity (puruṣa) exists only as pure identity but without motility (prakṛti). Saguṇa–brahman is also known as Viṣṇu or īśvara and cognition of Viṣṇu or īśvara is vijñāna. Additionally, when Brahman manifests in saguṇa state, brahman becomes materiality or illusion (māyā), forming the basis for material cognition. This is the lower order of creation and the state where karma (action) operates. Next, the higher order of creation is an unmanifested state called nirguṇa-brahman (Brahman that has an identity but has not been able to manifest with material attributes). Here, Brahman has emerged from its state of infinite, imperishable (cannot die) and immutable (cannot change) state of peace but it has not got into a state saguṇa–brahman where it becomes material. So, here puruṣa remains unmanifested or reverts back into the state of null or Brahman.  However, both nirguṇa–brahman and saguṇa–brahman states are derivatives of the primary state, Brahman.  Lastly, when saguṇa-brahman and nirguṇa–brahman finally reverse integrate back to Brahman, that is called pralaya (merger of māyā with the source or Brahman). Cognition of Brahman is jñāna and the experience is called nirvikalpa-samādhi (uninterrupted and unchanging state of peace). Lower order of creation hiraṇyagarbha and Viṣṇu Puruṣa and prakṛti weave as saguṇa–brahman, and the primordial outcome is called – root of creation (mūla-prakṛti), supreme soul (paramātman) or īśvara. From īśvara emerges hiraṇyagarbha (golden egg), brahmāṇḍa (creation of Brahman) or the universe. This happens in two ways, first as a big bang, with spontaneous creation of matter along with unit evolution, and second as quanta creation and building block of matter. The weave of puruṣa and prakṛti is the source of action (karma). Karma creates transactions and bonds, and each bond results in the creation of a new identity (ātman). Ātman (soul) is a primary unit of the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti. Also, ātman is the location where debt resides. Since prārabdha-karma exists until the debt is paid off, entities get separated once their debt is reconciled. They then create new bonds with new souls (ātman) along with reconstituted debt. As a result, multiple identities/ souls or ātman of varying complexities are created and dissolved continuously. Multiple souls (ātman) integrate to form a composite soul that has a discrete form (rūpa). Also, this discrete unit can be a sentient being (jīva) or insentient entity (jaḍa). Small, medium and large bonds create small, medium or large systems and entities, each with their own identity (ātman). As a result of creation and dissolution, a massive supra-eco-system is created where entities, small systems, subsystems and macro-systems of varying complexities exist in the supra-system. This macro-ecosystem which houses this continuously evolving and changing mass of entities and systems is called the universe or hiraṇyagarbha (golden egg). Lastly, like all systems, this supra-system or hiraṇyagarbha (golden egg) also has its own centre of super-identity (paramātman) called Viṣṇu.  However, it can be seen that this creation, maintenance and destruction is not real. It exists, changes and morphs. This is called māyā (farce or illusion). Importantly, the sense of identity (ātman) of hiraṇyagarbha or the universe does not change even though it is evolving continuously. It remains as Viṣṇu and continues to be a creation of the weave of puruṣa with prakṛti, which are a manifestation of the Brahman. Consequently, vijñāna is the cognition of paramātman, īśvara, Viṣṇu, brahmāṇḍa, or hiraṇyagarbha of any system at a material (saguṇa) level (all the above names mean the same entity). Since all existence within saguṇa–brahman, īśvara and consequently hiraṇyagarbha is impermanent and everything is a manifestation of the Brahman, hiraṇyagarbha and everything within it is an illusion (māyā). Consequently, Viṣṇu can be termed as the repository of māyā (farce or illusion). Dvaita and advaita philosophies. The foundation of dvaita (duality) philosophy is that the individual’s identity or ātman (singular Self) is subordinate to that of īśvara (universal Identity, paramātman or Viṣṇu). Consequently, the best path for transcending reality is to surrender oneself to īśvara or Viṣṇu and try to merge with that identity (paramātman). However, since the Soul (ātman) is trapped in (hiraṇyagarbha), all reprieve would be temporary and dependent on karma generated by the person. Therefore, rebirth is inevitable. This process is explained by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in The Bhagavad-gītā chapter 3 – karma-yoga. In contrast, advaita (non-duality) posits that since everything is the Brahman (tat-tvam-asi) and all existence is a veil over brahman, called māyā (illusion), including īśvara (universal Identity, paramātman or Viṣṇu). In fact, Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself says, that which is permanent is the Brahman and everything that is temporary or impermanent or subject to creation, death or dissolution is māyā. Hence, if a person were to be able to negate his or her own identity, or reduce experience (puruṣa) to zero, then prakṛti would cease to manifest, enabling the person to transcend māyā and reach nirguṇa–brahman Consequently, with more effort, the person would reach nirvikalpa-samādhi (changeless state) which is merger with the Brahman. However, this does not mean that one cannot reach brahman by merging with Viṣṇu, through the dvaita philosophy. After all, any merger requires negation of one’s existential identity (puruṣa), so when a person surrenders completely to Viṣṇu, he or she loses personal identity. This leads to attainment of nirguṇa-brahman which is the brahman. śiva, śakti and tantra: We have seen that the weave of puruṣa (experiencer or Identity) with prakṛti (manifestation of puruṣa) creates an Identity called ātman which is the repository of debt (ṛṇa). However, this continuous and complex series of combinations that creates, sustains and dissolves the Universe must have a constituent, foundational, quanta or unit element/ identity on which the whole Universe is built and exists (that point where further break down is not possible). What is the constituent primary element / building block of puruṣa and prakṛti? In other words, what is the quanta (micro, unit, smallest building block) that emerges from the Brahman. This quanta identity is śiva, which manifests as śakti. Śiva is the quanta (micro, unit, smallest building block) entity of puruṣa, which is the experiencer in a macro form. Consequently, this makes śiva, the quanta or micro-experiencer. Similarly, śakti is the quanta (micro, quanta unit, smallest building block) entity of prakṛti. Thus, while prakṛti is the manifestation of puruṣa, śakti is the manifestation of śiva. Puruṣa weaves with prakṛti while śiva weaves with śakti. Also, while the unit level weave of puruṣa and prakṛti is the Soul or Self (ātman), the unit weave of śiva with śakti is prāṇa (unit motility). Additionally, this weave in both cases is called tantra or weave and the yoking of one with the other in both cases is called yoga. So, how do śiva and śakti weave to form puruṣa and prakṛti? In fact, it can be derived that when quanta śiva / śakti bonds with another quanta śiva / śakti, a composite or complex identity is created due to karma, which evolves to become the weave of puruṣa (experiencer) with prakṛti. Also, as the combinations become complex, the composite unit gets a material form (rūpa) and becomes both, the Universe and its constituent (hiraṇyagarbha). Thus, we can derive that śiva is the primary or quanta constituent element of material brahman (saguṇa–brahman). When śiva does not manifest, it does not mean that śiva has ceased to exist, It means that śiva is in an unmanifested brahman or nirguṇa–brahman Therefore, śiva (quanta identity) is present in all the states of Brahman and is called sadā-śiva (perpetual śiva). Thus, it is clear that the weave of śiva with śakti or puruṣa with prakṛti is an experiential state, it has to be cognised/ experienced. This awareness is called prajñā. When the awareness relates to the Self (puruṣa) in the environment, it is called vijñāna and when it is about the person’s awareness of the Self (puruṣa), it is called jñāna. One can also say that the awareness of a person of the weave (tantra) his or her identity (puruṣa) with his or her actions (prakṛti) is the calibre of his individuality (svatantra) and this applies to all entities, even countries. Example. Hydrogen and Oxygen are atoms with their own Identities. However, when they combine, they form water which has a very different identity as opposed to its constituent Hydrogen and Oxygen. So, as an example, quanta identity or śiva of Hydrogen and quanta identity or śiva of Oxygen combine to create a composite identity of water which has its own Identity (ātman).  However, the Identity of water is different from its constituent Hydrogen or Oxygen. Consequently, since each of these, hydrogen, oxygen and water are discrete souls, each ātman (soul) carries all the debts (ṛṇa). Also, the debt accrued by water in its karma (action) will be its own and neither of its individual constituents, Hydrogen or Oxygen will carry the karma of water as the souls (ātman) are different. Īśvara and three embodiments (tri-mūrti) – brahma, viṣṇu and śiva and their consorts Puruṣa and prakṛti weave as saguṇa–brahman and form the root of creation (mūlā-prakṛti), or supreme soul (paramātman) or īśvara. From īśvara emerges hiraṇyagarbha (golden egg), brahmāṇḍa (creation of brahman) or the universe. This happens in two ways; as big bang, with spontaneous creation of matter along with its constituent unit evolution, as quanta creation of matter. This is the world of brahma, primarily driven by passion (rajoguṇa), for creation. Since creation itself can be irresponsible and passionate, the framework of creation needs to function in systemic harmony, otherwise the system will collapse. Hence, it needs an identity (viṣṇu), which brings balance to the various conflicting forces to ensure harmony within the universe (hiraṇyagarbha or brahmāṇḍa). Since viṣṇu creates harmony or balance between rajas and tamas, it is sāttvika. Lastly, there is śiva. Śiva is primordial or quanta Identity, predominantly governed by fear of loss of Identity, hence lethargic and delusional. So, śiva is tāmasika-guṇa. Since śiva is the quanta identity, it is the building block of all creation, which includes puruṣa. The three embodiments (trimūrti), each have a consort (devī), these being embodiments of prakṛti. Without these tridevī‘s, the trimūrti’s are irrelevant and cannot function. Brahmā, as a creator has knowledge (Sarasvatī) as its consort. It’s obvious that without knowledge no creative effort will succeed. Lakṣmī is materiality without which Viṣṇu cannot have a framework to balance,  Śakti is energy which drives all delusion and fear which define śiva’s identity. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 7, jñāna-vijñāna-yoga (verse 8-15). Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains his own qualities.  I define sweet fragrance of earth, brilliance of fire, life in all beings and austerity in ascetics. Thus, I am seed of all beings, intelligence of intelligent and splendour of the splendid. I am strength in the strong, without passion or attraction. In beings, I am desire which is not contrary to the state of order/ harmony and natural conditioning (dharma). I am creator of sattva (balanced/ harmonious), rajas (passion/ drive/ creativity) and tamas (inertia/ delusional) attitudes. In fact, they are created by me, proceed from me, exist in all including me, but I am not in them. Guṇa’s create illusion (māyā), preventing creation from knowing the truth – but taking refuge in the source overcomes this. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 7, jñāna-vijñāna-yoga (verse 16-30). Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains the qualities of the seeker. Four types of people who seek my grace (Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s grace) are; those in distress, those seeking knowledge, those seeking wealth and those imbibed with wisdom. All those who seek my grace are special, but those anchored to (brahman) are dearest to me. Often impelled by desire of quick results, people seek other Gods or rites. However, if their devotion is sincere, I enable their devotion to become steady and help them reach their goals. Sometimes, devotees think that blessings have come from deities that they worship when it has actually come from me. Furthermore, there is a direct correlation between effort and rewards. Consequently, when a person seeks a boon, he will receive it, be it small, medium or infinite. So, seek carefully… However, most people are confused by māyā, so they don’t understand me and worship my manifestation. In fact, they don’t comprehend that I am unmanifest and part of the Brahman. Also, I know the past, present and future of all beings but opposites arising from attraction and repulsion delude their knowledge of me. Only those that have paid their debts and are freed from opposites, find themselves having the ability to remain steadfast in their vows to me.  As a result, those who recognise me as original creation, deity and sacrifice, strive for deliverance from material attachments to knowledge of the Truth, and come to me in their hour of death. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 7, jñāna-vijñāna-yoga. Now comes the inevitable question? What is the measure of success? There is only one measure of success, which is merger with the Brahman or source/ truth/ infinite peace. This is experienced as a state of infinite peace or nothingness where the Self (ātman) experiences no change or karma (nirvikalpa), and does not react to stimulus (citta-vṛtti-nirodha). What does Śrī Kṛṣṇa mean when he says that he is the quality that drives all creation? All creation (sṛṣṭi) is a combination of the five cardinal elements (pañcabhūta): earth (pṛthvī), water (ap), fire (agni), air (vāyu) and ether (ākāśa). Also, each of these cardinal elements is a combination of guṇa (attributes). Example: Pṛthvī (earth) is predominantly tamas (inertia/ delusional/ self-centred). All matter is a combination of the above elements, from the lowly atom to the mighty universe. Each of these entities which come into existence has a centre of identity or Self (ātman). Each entity also interacts and functions in a system with other entities.  As a natural corollary, all collection of entities has a centre of identity or Self (ātman). Example: each housing society is defined by a boundary wall and has its own Identity. Similarly, each city, state, region, country or planet have their own centre of Identity. Also, the Sun has an identity, as has Mars, Jupiter, Saturn or Moon. Finally, the biggest entity is the Universe, its center of identity is viṣṇu. But, Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that he is beyond even that, as well as being the essence of everything that defines materiality. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 7, jñāna-vijñāna-yoga. School of Yoga posits views that may be contrary to accepted positions.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa establishes some paradigms in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 7. He is the essence of materiality, the motility in all creation. Also, he clearly states that he is the personality trait (bhāva) of every entity. However, he also states that he is not responsible for the person’s actions. It is important to understand this difference because personality trait drives action and outcome of action. So, basically Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s underwrites the existence of personality but separates himself from the operation of personality and karma. You are on your own! Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the motility of entities but inert. Every time you act, or use free-will, you are getting deeper into a debt trap of action (ṛṇānubandhana). So, free will is a trap. The other solution is to not act. But, that in itself is action, inaction is action! Hence, that is not a solution. The only way out is to not seek action but diffuse every situation that comes one’s way without creating subsidiary action. Consequently, one will need to address every situation with discrimination (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya), avoiding duality of like-dislike, good-bad etc. Finally, Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that anyone desiring liberation should completely surrender and submit himself to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s will. What is this state and how does it operate? What happens is that the person’s will (saṅkalpa) becomes dysfunctional and while prārabdha-karma acts, further āgami-karma ceases to get created because no debt is created. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, by being the focus of surrender acts as the enabler of this metamorphosis. The Transliteration of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 7, jñāna-vijñāna-yoga follows. The Sanskrit words are in red italics. श्रीभगवानुवाच । मय्यासक्तमनाः पार्थ योगं युञ्जन्मदाश्रयः । असंशयं समग्रं मां यथा ज्ञास्यसि तच्छृणु ॥ ७-१॥ ज्ञानं तेऽहं सविज्ञानमिदं वक्ष्याम्यशेषतः । यज्ज्ञात्वा नेह भूयोऽन्यज्ज्ञातव्यमवशिष्यते ॥ ७-२॥ मनुष्याणां सहस्रेषु कश्चिद्यतति सिद्धये । यततामपि सिद्धानां कश्चिन्मां वेत्ति तत्त्वतः ॥ ७-३॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (1-3) Anchor your cognition on me, take refuge in me, practice yoga, without doubt I will reveal everything to you (mayyāsaktamanāḥ pārtha yogaṃ yuñjanmadāśrayaḥ । asaṃśayaṃ samagraṃ māṃ yathā jñāsyasi tacchṛṇu ॥ 7-1॥). To you, I will reveal in totality this knowledge along with correct interpretation which having known nothing more not even residue remains of knowing (jñānaṃ te’haṃ savijñānamidaṃ vakṣyāmyaśeṣataḥ । yajjñātvā neha bhūyo’nyajjñātavyamavaśiṣyate ॥ 7-2॥). Among thousands of men, only some strive for perfection, among those striving, anyone who becomes perfect knows my essence (manuṣyāṇāṃ sahasreṣu kaścidyatati siddhaye । yatatāmapi siddhānāṃ kaścinmāṃ vetti tattvataḥ ॥ 7-3॥). भूमिरापोऽनलो वायुः खं मनो बुद्धिरेव च । अहङ्कार इतीयं मे भिन्ना प्रकृतिरष्टधा ॥ ७-४॥ अपरेयमितस्त्वन्यां प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम् । जीवभूतां महाबाहो ययेदं धार्यते जगत् ॥ ७-५॥ (4-5) Earth, water, fire, air, ether seat of cognition, seat of logic, and also feeling that I am the doer form my eightfold divided state of nature (bhūmirāpo’nalo vāyuḥ khaṃ mano buddhireva ca । ahaṅkāra itīyaṃ me bhinnā prakṛtiraṣṭadhā ॥ 7-4॥). Also, from this lower but of different nature is this knowledge of my absolute state the life material by which this the universe is maintained (apareyamitastvanyāṃ prakṛtiṃ viddhi me parām । jīvabhūtāṃ mahābāho yayedaṃ dhāryate jagat ॥ 7-5॥). एतद्योनीनि भूतानि सर्वाणीत्युपधारय । अहं कृत्स्नस्य जगतः प्रभवः प्रलयस्तथा ॥ ७-६॥ मत्तः परतरं नान्यत्किञ्चिदस्ति धनञ्जय । मयि सर्वमिदं प्रोतं सूत्रे मणिगणा इव ॥ ७-७॥ (6-7) Therefore, know me to be the source of all creation I am the sole reason of creation and dissolution (etadyonīni bhūtāni sarvāṇītyupadhāraya । ahaṃ kṛtsnasya jagataḥ prabhavaḥ pralayastathā ॥ 7-6॥). In fact, other than me no other is higher, all this are strung on me like a string of pearls (mattaḥ parataraṃ nānyatkiñcidasti dhanañjaya । mayi sarvamidaṃ protaṃ sūtre maṇigaṇā iva ॥ 7-7॥). रसोऽहमप्सु कौन्तेय प्रभास्मि शशिसूर्ययोः । प्रणवः सर्ववेदेषु शब्दः खे पौरुषं नृषु ॥ ७-८॥ पुण्यो गन्धः पृथिव्यां च तेजश्चास्मि विभावसौ । जीवनं सर्वभूतेषु तपश्चास्मि तपस्विषु ॥ ७-९॥ (8-9) First, I am the essence of water in water I am the illumination of the Moon and Sun, the OM in Vedas, sound in ether, manliness in men (raso’hamapsu kaunteya prabhāsmi śaśisūryayoḥ । praṇavaḥ sarvavedeṣu śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṃ nṛṣu ॥ 7-8॥). Fragrance of pure earth and splendour in fire am I, I am life in all beings and austerity in ascetics (puṇyo gandhaḥ pṛthivyāṃ ca tejaścāsmi vibhāvasau । jīvanaṃ sarvabhūteṣu tapaścāsmi tapasviṣu ॥ 7-9॥). बीजं मां सर्वभूतानां विद्धि पार्थ सनातनम् । बुद्धिर्बुद्धिमतामस्मि तेजस्तेजस्विनामहम् ॥ ७-१०॥ बलं बलवतां चाहं कामरागविवर्जितम् । धर्माविरुद्धो भूतेषु कामोऽस्मि भरतर्षभ ॥ ७-११॥ ये चैव सात्त्विका भावा राजसास्तामसाश्च ये । मत्त एवेति तान्विद्धि न त्वहं तेषु ते मयि ॥ ७-१२॥ (10-12) I am the seed of all creation know that I am eternal, I am the intelligence of the intelligent, the splendour of the splendid am I (bījaṃ māṃ sarvabhūtānāṃ viddhi pārtha sanātanam । buddhirbuddhimatāmasmi tejastejasvināmaham ॥ 7-10॥). I am strength of the strong (balaṃ balavatāṃ cāhaṃ), who is devoid of passion or desire (kāmarāgavivarjitam ।). I am passion contrary to harmony in creation (dharmāviruddho bhūteṣu kāmo’smi bharatarṣabha ॥ 7-11॥). Truly, whatever harmonious traits (ye caiva sāttvikā bhāvā) and whatever passionate or delusion (rājasāstāmasāśca ye ।), truly, know that they proceed from me but are not in me (matta eveti tānviddhi na tvahaṃ teṣu te mayi ॥ 7-12॥). त्रिभिर्गुणमयैर्भावैरेभिः सर्वमिदं जगत् । मोहितं नाभिजानाति मामेभ्यः परमव्ययम् ॥ ७-१३॥ दैवी ह्येषा गुणमयी मम माया दुरत्यया । मामेव ये प्रपद्यन्ते मायामेतां तरन्ति ते ॥ ७-१४॥ न मां दुष्कृतिनो मूढाः प्रपद्यन्ते नराधमाः । माययापहृतज्ञाना आसुरं भावमाश्रिताः ॥ ७-१५॥ (13-15) All in this world are deluded by the three attributes that drive perceptual traits and by these do not cognise my absolute supreme imperishable nature (tribhirguṇamayairbhāvairebhiḥ sarvamidaṃ jagat । mohitaṃ nābhijānāti māmebhyaḥ paramavyayam ॥ 7-13॥). Verily, my divinity is unfathomable due to this illusion created by attributes (daivī hyeṣā guṇamayī mama māyā duratyayā ।). Only they who take refuge in me can cross this illusion (māmeva ye prapadyante māyāmetāṃ taranti te ॥ 7-14॥). Wicked people, delusional and abject people seek illusion that is deprived of knowledge and are demonical in nature and do not attain me (na māṃ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ prapadyante narādhamāḥ । māyayāpahṛtajñānā āsuraṃ bhāvamāśritāḥ ॥ 7-15॥).  चतुर्विधा भजन्ते मां जनाः सुकृतिनोऽर्जुन । आर्तो जिज्ञासुरर्थार्थी ज्ञानी च भरतर्षभ ॥ ७-१६॥ तेषां ज्ञानी नित्ययुक्त एकभक्तिर्विशिष्यते । प्रियो हि ज्ञानिनोऽत्यर्थमहं स च मम प्रियः ॥ ७-१७॥ उदाराः सर्व एवैते ज्ञानी त्वात्मैव मे मतम् । आस्थितः स हि युक्तात्मा मामेवानुत्तमां गतिम् ॥ ७-१८॥ बहूनां जन्मनामन्ते ज्ञानवान्मां प्रपद्यते । वासुदेवः सर्वमिति स महात्मा सुदुर्लभः ॥ ७-१९॥ (16-19) Four classes of virtuous people worship me (caturvidhā bhajante māṃ janāḥ sukṛtino’rjuna ।). Importantly, the distressed, the seeker of wisdom, seeker of wealth and the wise (ārto jijñāsurarthārthī jñānī ca bharatarṣabha ॥ 7-16॥). Of them, the wise always intent with single minded devotion excels (teṣāṃ jñānī nityayukta ekabhaktirviśiṣyate ।). Truly, exceeding among the wise is he that loves me and I love in return (priyo hi jñānino’tyarthamahaṃ sa ca mama priyaḥ ॥ 7-17॥). Exemplary all these surely are but the true wise soul, in my opinion (udārāḥ sarva evaite jñānī tvātmaiva me matam ।), is truly he that steadfast soul who is wholly intent upon me as the highest goal (āsthitaḥ sa hi yuktātmā māmevānuttamāṃ gatim ॥ 7-18॥). Of the many births and deaths, the wise reach me (bahūnāṃ janmanāmante jñānavānmāṃ prapadyate ।). Thus, Vaasudeva, among all, such a great soul is difficult to find (vāsudevaḥ sarvamiti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ ॥ 7-19॥).   कामैस्तैस्तैर्हृतज्ञानाः प्रपद्यन्तेऽन्यदेवताः । तं तं नियममास्थाय प्रकृत्या नियताः स्वया ॥ ७-२०॥ यो यो यां यां तनुं भक्तः श्रद्धयार्चितुमिच्छति । तस्य तस्याचलां श्रद्धां तामेव विदधाम्यहम् ॥ ७-२१॥ स तया श्रद्धया युक्तस्तस्याराधनमीहते । लभते च ततः कामान्मयैव विहितान्हि तान् ॥ ७-२२॥ अन्तवत्तु फलं तेषां तद्भवत्यल्पमेधसाम् । देवान्देवयजो यान्ति मद्भक्ता यान्ति मामपि ॥ ७-२३॥ (20-23) By desires, by this or that, due to lack of knowledge who become worshippers of other Gods (kāmaistaistairhṛtajñānāḥ prapadyante’nyadevatāḥ ।), having followed this or that set of rules or depending on their own prakṛti (taṃ taṃ niyamamāsthāya prakṛtyā niyatāḥ svayā ॥ 7-20॥). Who, who, which, which manifestation the devotee worships with unflinching dedication, those desires that come from devotion I surely grant (yo yo yāṃ yāṃ tanuṃ bhaktaḥ śraddhayārcitumicchati । tasya tasyācalāṃ śraddhāṃ tāmeva vidadhāmyaham ॥ 7-21॥). He that worships with absorbed dedication obtains those wishes, for those genuine desires and such others are actually bestowed by me (sa tayā śraddhayā yuktastasyārādhanamīhate । labhate ca tataḥ kāmānmayaiva vihitānhi tān ॥ 7-22॥).  Truly, to them that are of low intelligence, fruits are limited (antavattu phalaṃ teṣāṃ tadbhavatyalpamedhasām ।). To the deities go worshippers of deities. my devotees go to me only (devāndevayajo yānti madbhaktā yānti māmapi ॥ 7-23॥). अव्यक्तं व्यक्तिमापन्नं मन्यन्ते मामबुद्धयः । परं भावमजानन्तो ममाव्ययमनुत्तमम् ॥ ७-२४॥ नाहं प्रकाशः सर्वस्य योगमायासमावृतः । मूढोऽयं नाभिजानाति लोको मामजमव्ययम् ॥ ७-२५॥ वेदाहं समतीतानि वर्तमानानि चार्जुन । भविष्याणि च भूतानि मां तु वेद न कश्चन ॥ ७-२६॥ (24-26) Those of immature intellect cognise me who is unmanifest as acquiring manifestation of highest not intuiting me as immutable unsurpassed (avyaktaṃ vyaktimāpannaṃ manyante māmabuddhayaḥ । paraṃ bhāvamajānanto mamāvyayamanuttamam ॥ 7-24॥). I am not illuminated, I am universal yoga concealed in māyā (nāhaṃ prakāśaḥ sarvasya yogamāyāsamāvṛtaḥ ।), the deluded of this world do not know that I am unborn imperishable (mūḍho’yaṃ nābhijānāti loko māmajamavyayam ॥ 7-25॥). I know that which has occurred long ago, that which is present and the future, and some living people do not really know me (vedāhaṃ samatītāni vartamānāni cārjuna । bhaviṣyāṇi ca bhūtāni māṃ tu veda na kaścana ॥ 7-26॥).  इच्छाद्वेषसमुत्थेन द्वन्द्वमोहेन भारत । सर्वभूतानि सम्मोहं सर्गे यान्ति परन्तप ॥ ७-२७॥ येषां त्वन्तगतं पापं जनानां पुण्यकर्मणाम् । ते द्वन्द्वमोहनिर्मुक्ता भजन्ते मां दृढव्रताः ॥ ७-२८॥ जरामरणमोक्षाय मामाश्रित्य यतन्ति ये । ते ब्रह्म तद्विदुः कृत्स्नमध्यात्मं कर्म चाखिलम् ॥ ७-२९॥ साधिभूताधिदैवं मां साधियज्ञं च ये विदुः । प्रयाणकालेऽपि च मां ते विदुर्युक्तचेतसः ॥ ७-३०॥ (27-30) Rising from desire aversion deluded by duality (icchādveṣasamutthena dvandvamohena bhārata ।), from birth, all beings are subject to delusion (sarvabhūtāni sammohaṃ sarge yānti parantapa ॥ 7-27॥). At the end, men of stained birth but virtuous action they who are free from delusion of opposites worship me with firm vows (yeṣāṃ tvantagataṃ pāpaṃ janānāṃ puṇyakarmaṇām । te dvandvamohanirmuktā bhajante māṃ dṛḍhavratāḥ ॥ 7-28॥). For liberation from old age and death, who take refuge in me and make an effort, they know that the Brahman is the complete transcendental Self and repository of action (jarāmaraṇamokṣāya māmāśritya yatanti ye । te brahma tadviduḥ kṛtsnamadhyātmaṃ karma cākhilam ॥ 7-29॥). Who have steadfast consciousness on me know me to be primordial creation, primordial deity and primordial sacrifice even at the hour of death (sādhibhūtādhidaivaṃ māṃ sādhiyajñaṃ ca ye viduḥ । prayāṇakāle’pi ca māṃ te viduryuktacetasaḥ ॥ 7-30॥).  [...] Read more...
Arda Halasana – Semi-plow Pose
Arda Halasana – Semi-plow PoseSchool of Yoga explains arda-halasana (Semi-plow pose) School of Yoga explains uttana-padasana technique: Sthithi (starting) position: Lie on the back. Ensure that feet are kept together at the thighs, knees, ankles and feet. Breathe in. Breathing out, keep leegs straight and lift them up to 45 degrees. Hold in place for a few seconds (start with 3 counts and increase to 6). Breathing in, bring legs back to ground slowly.  Breathe normally. Repeat from 3 to 10 times The drishti (gaze) recommended is padhayoragre (toe of the foot gaze). School of Yoga explains arda-halasana technique Perform uttana-padasana, but, instead of 45 degrees, raise legs to 90 degrees. There is no need to hold the legs in position for longer than 1-2 seconds, enough to reach equilibrium. Repeat 3 to 10 times School of Yoga explains arda-halasana benefits : Spinal nerves, nerve roots, and sympathetic nerves get toned up. The lumbar area becomes supple and elastic. The action of stretching and pulling tones and strengthens the abdominal and lower back muscles. The action of holding legs straight and stable, apart from exercising the muscles of the back and abdomen, also creates intra-abdominal pressure. This results in strengthening of abdominal muscles and reduction of fat. The leg lifting action pulls buttocks together, toning up the rectal muscles and sphincter. This exercise is good for curing obesity, diabetes, constipation and other abdominal concerns. Very good for maintaining the strength of various muscles in the lower back. Assists in relieving menstrual disorders. Assists in preventing hernia. When breathing out, abdominal walls push the digestive viscera down, setting up peristalsis. Very good asana for treating constipation and other ailments of the lower digestive tract. Performing both uttana-padasana and ardha-halasana slowly, brings other benefits such as increased intra-abdominal pressure inducing peristalsis, reduction in adipose tissue and tightening the symmetry of the abdominal viscera. School of Yoga explains – arda-halasana contraindications: If you have any form of back ache, ask  a partner to provide passive support at the ankle. If discomfort increases, stop. With practice, strength in the back will increase. People with cardiac problems, lower back problems and circulatory disorders should perform this exercise very slowly and stop in case of discomfort or pain.  Those with lumbar (lower back) problems and hernia should avoid this exercise. This asana should not be practiced during menstruation or pregnancy. Some noteworthy points on Arda Halasana: Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi,  To lose weight around the abdomen, perform the exercise rapidly without allowing the legs to touch the ground. Repeat 6 to 10 times. Keep knees straight and rigid to ensure that when raising them, there is pressure on the lower abdominal muscles, inside thigh (gracilis and adductor longus), knee muscles, especially quadriceps and hamstring muscles. Keep knees and ankles together. This ensures symmetry in the movement of the legs and ensures a balanced pressure on the lower back muscles (left and right of the spine). [...] Read more...
Bhakti Yoga – the Yoga of devotion
Bhakti Yoga – the Yoga of devotionSchool of Yoga explains bhakti-yoga: Bhakti–yoga is the technique of transferring the sense of identity (asmitā) from ourselves to an external object such as a personal deity (iṣṭadeva), Guru/ master or teacher. The conceptual drivers of bhakti–yoga are, To remove the sense of doership in our actions (ahaṅkāra). Our self-esteem or self-worth (asmitā) is derived from the appreciation of others of our actions. When we transfer this outcome to an external entity, self-worth (asmitā) and feeling of achievement/ doership (ahaṅkāra) are negated. In fact, bhakti can also denote transference of identity to a concept such as a county. When this occurs, the individual’s sense of identity gets subsumed into that of the object or deity. As a result, there is conscious and unconscious merger of the personality of the practitioner into that of the deity, or Yoga.  The Srimad-Bhagavata-Purana (chapter 7.5.23-24) propounds nine primary tools of bhakti, as explained by Prahlada, the son of Hiranyakashipu and hero of Narasimha avatāra (incarnation): Śravaṇa (listening to achievements of the deity) – here, we confer upon the deity, the status of a role model. In India, all deities have a character, abilities and achievements. We start the process of subsuming our identity by listening to the achievements of the deities at their temples. Then we analyse the deity’s life as a role model. After this, we try to introduce these qualities in our own life. In the process, we slowly lose our feeling of doership (ahaṅkāra) and sense of Identity (asmitā). For example, Srimad Bhagavad-Geeta is a conversation between a confused and dejected warrior prince Arjuna with his charioteer Sri Krishna. When one analyses the conversation, one can instantly recognise the applicability of Sri Krishna’s advice to modern living. What is important here is that we must personify the deity with values that are ideal to us. This allows easy surrender and our own evolution into that vision. It is critical that we do not get swayed or allow another person’s interpretation to cloud our vision. The reason for this is, our vision comes from within ourselves and this will make it easier to merge with the deity. Interpretation of other’s will act as interference or impedance and slow down our ability to release our self-esteem (asmitā). Kirtana (praising the achievements of the deity) – here, we extol specific achievements of the deity. This reinforces specific behavioural patterns which we then imbibe and make our own. Many forms of prayer use this method; such as bhajans in Hinduism, hymns and psalms in Christianity or qawwali in Islam. Smarana (retaining an image of the deity at all time) – this element has two parts; We try to retain the deity in an external form in pictures and other forms Once the above image has been mastered retention, we try to make sure that our memory is subsumed over time by the image of the deity. Smarana in society. In society, this is used extensively – nations use flags, companies use brands and logos. However, the transference of such identities is nominal, to the extent of building and retaining a bond for a specific purpose. Bhakti-yoga requires diffusion of identity that is deeply sublime. Pāda-sevana (pada = feet + sevana = service) – pāda-sevana can also mean washing the feet. Also, it can mean service at the feet of the deity or Guru, which can be interpreted as subsuming one’s personality into that of the deity. In society, this can mean any service rendered to a cause which is not intended to increase one’s sense of identity; this will include all religions, communism, nations, cults and causes. Srchana (worshipping the deity with hyperbole) – Almost all prayers, no matter which religion, deal in hyperbole. Consequently, this sets the deity at an unassailable high position. As a result, the practitioner places the deity above his self-worth (asmita). Consequently, he or she is motivated to surrender his or her identity to the deity or object of bhakti. Srachana and leaders. Leaders and dictators around the world often use this technique to become larger than life – Hitler was called fuehrer, Mao Zedong was actively quoted through his little red book, the Kim family of North Korea have entered the consciousness of every North Korean etc. Vandana (worshipping the deity) – Whilst srachana is worshiping with hyperbole, vandana is deep integration of the self with the deity. In fact, all prayers of all religions have this as the intent.  Dāsya (servitude) – Dāsya comes from the root “dasa” or servant. The yogi serves the deity as a servant and dedicates all his actions and outcomes to the deity, thus negating the sense of personal achievement, opinion and identity. Bhakti-yoga an intrinsic part of the gurukula form of teaching in Oriental societies. Here, the yogi or student stays with the teacher and slowly imbibes verbal as well as non-verbal teaching during the residency through service. So, when the student leaves the gurukula, he or she has subsumed his or her psyche below that of the guru or teacher. Example of guru-vandana. There is a famous story in the 1950’s regarding the 2 famous Quality Guru’s Deming and Juran when they were invited to Japan for training the Japanese on Quality. Many of the delegates were found trying to mimic Deming and Juran in their walk, talk and eating styles. Their intent was to imbibe the character of these masters completely, to the extent of their personality. Sakhya (retaining a base of friendship) – Maintaining momentum in such an endeavour is always difficult. Moreover, our identity will not allow subsuming so easily. Therefore, company of like-minded individuals allows us to stoke each other’s motivation and maintain momentum. Atma-nivedana (atma = soul + nivedana = state of no schism) or state where there is no difference between the yogi and the deity. Initially, the aspirant always views the deity as different, but when the practice of the above techniques reaches an advanced stage, the aspirant sees no difference between himself and the deity. School of Yoga explains contemporary bhakti-yoga.  All major religions subscibe to mysticism and mystic experiences, where the practitioner sees no difference between the self and the deity. There are many examples of bhakti-yoga in India such as Meerabai, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu etc. Sufism, a branch of Islam is very similar to bhakti-yoga, prescribing – dhikr or remembering God, sema which is a form of devotional music and dance like a combination of srachana and smarana, muraqaba or meditation which is akin to vandana with the aim of experiencing ecstatic states (hal), purification of the heart (qalb), overcoming the lower self (nafs), extinction of the individual personality (fana), communion with God (haqiqa), and higher knowledge (mrifat). Other religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism and Judaism also proscribe to mystic, with techniques similar to bhakti-yoga. It is important to remember that the direction of bhakti can be to a deity, person, an entity such as country or even a concept such as environmental protection, wildlife conservation or even archaeology. Unfortunately, there are some negatives as well, for when the influence of the master overwhelms the aspirant, it can result in the formation of a cult or a society dominated by a master. Points to Ponder on bhakti-yoga. Internal Tags: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Stress and prana, Awareness measures, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga. External Tags: Consciousness, Bhakti Movement in India What is bhakti-yoga? Review the elements of bhakti-yoga and how they impact evolution of the practitioner? How is bhakti-yoga implemented? Who is your role model? Which qualities have you taken from this entity? How is bhakti-yoga used in daily life? [...] Read more...
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 8 (akṣara-brahma-yoga)
Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 8 (akṣara-brahma-yoga)Acknowledgement. School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga (yoga of the imperishable Brahman). Introduction. What is akṣara-brahma-yoga? akṣara means alphabet, which is indestructible. Brahman is the source of creation, sustenance and dissolution. Hence, this chapter covers the qualities of Brahman. Śrī Kṛṣṇa also elaborates on his relationship with Brahman. Arjuna asked – What is that Brahman? What is adhyātman?  What is karma, adhibhūta and adhidaiva?  Who and how does ādiyajña exist in this body? Finally, how is it cognised by self-restrained soul at time of death? (verse1-2) Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied – Imperishable Brahman is supreme and indestructible. In fact, its nature is transcendental and it causes creation as an expression of itself. Also, this creation and this transformation is called karma. Next, ādibhūta (primordial creation) is any perishable state. Also, puruṣa is adhyātman (primordial soul). I (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) alone represent ādiyajña (primordial sacrifice / transformation or change) in existence (in the body or embodied) (verse 3-4): Notes: ādi or primordial means anything that existed since the beginning of time and transcendental is anything that goes beyond material, sensory or conceptual. It is important to understand that daiva or deity is not God. In fact, deity is entity that acts as a representative of a particular task, role or concept. For example, savitā is a deity that represents the qualities/ energy of the Sun. Also, it is important to realise that, there is no concept of God in Yoga, there is only brahman. The individual is considered to be brahman wrapped in māyā (illusion) due to ignorance (avidyā). Yoga is the process of removing this veil of ignorance and merging the Individual with Truth (brahman). What is Brahman? The best explanation of Brahman is based in Physics: oṃ pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidaṃ pūrṇātpūrṇamudacyate। pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇamevāvaśiṣyate॥ oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ। ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पूर्णमुदच्यते। पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः। (Credit: Thanks to: https://www.templepurohit.com/mantras-slokas-stotras/shanti-mantra/om-purnamadah-purnamidam) Which means, That is infinite, this is infinite, from infinity proceeds infinity, From infinity, when infinity is subtracted, truly, infinity is left as a remnant. Let us understand Brahman on the basis of mahāvākyas (major aphorisms), which are four in number, prajñānaṃ brahma (प्रज्ञानं ब्रह्म) – all awareness is Brahman ayam ātmā brahma (अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म) – this soul is the Brahman tat tvam asi (तत् त्वम् असि) – that thou art or you are Brahman ahaṃ brahmāsmi (अहं ब्रह्मास्मि) – I am Brahman Brahman is a cognitive state of awareness. The above state corresponds to everything that Śrī Kṛṣṇa describes brahman to be – an indestructible, unchanging, eternal and infinite state which is the source of everything and nothing as well. That can only be called an experience of peace which can be found in the state of null or infinity! First, Brahman is a state, and the yogi must experience THAT state, and he must become THAT. Second, Brahman is infinite, which means one must overcome (transcend) time, space and matter. Third, Brahman is changeless which means that the yogi must transcend physical form and impact of stimuli on the Self because, when stimuli is annulled, there is no change. Fourth, Brahman is tranquillity, which means that this is a state of “no agitation”. Last, everything proceeds from Brahman. Brahman is the source and motility of materiality. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga (verse 3-4, 8-13). Concept of Brahman. The above state corresponds to everything that Śrī Kṛṣṇa describes Brahman to be – an indestructible, unchanging, eternal and infinite state which is the source of everything and nothing as well. That can only be called an experience of peace which can be found in the state of null or infinity! First, Brahman is a state, and the yogī must experience THAT state, and he must become THAT. Second, Brahman is infinite, which means one must overcome (transcend) time, space and matter. Third, Brahman is changeless which means that the yogi must transcend physical form and impact of stimuli on the Self because, when stimuli is annulled, there is no change. Fourth, Brahman is tranquillity, which means that this is a state of “no agitation”. Last, everything proceeds from Brahman. Brahman is the source and motility of materiality. How does Brahman evolve. First, imperishable Brahman is adhyātman (primordial Self) within the body. Next, it is the cause of creation and transformation, this is called karma. Brahman causes motility in creation and this is called adhibhūta (primordial creation). Also, puruṣa is adhidaivata or primordial deity and he (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) as ādiyajña (primordial sacrifice, transformation or change) within the body. So, let us see how these entities integrate (verse 3-4). First, everything comes from the Source/ Truth/ Origin or Brahman. This is a state of infinite changelessness, eternal peace and nothingness. Then, how does the Brahman manifest if it is a state of nothing but eternal, changeless peace? What happens is that, Brahman experiences existential anxiety (do I exist?) and desires self-expression (What am I? What is this? Do I exist? I want to see myself). How does this anxiety manifest? Brahman experiences an atemporal vibration or creative pulse called spandana. For example – When we say that we have a eureka moment, that insight comes to us from nowhere (Brahman) and we experience a creative outpouring (spandana). We know of two great scientists who had eureka moments, Newton (gravity) and Archimedes (buoyancy). So, from a state of nothingness, it suddenly becomes curious about itself and seeks to express itself.  Hence, Brahman sacrifices itself to express its Self (adhyātman). This sacrifice of Brahman is called primordial sacrifice (ādiyajña), which is what Śrī Kṛṣṇa says he is. As a result of the sacrifice, it manifests as puruṣa (experiencer) and prakṛti (manifestation). The primordial expression of this manifestation is called praṇava. Then, puruṣa and prakṛti weave with each other to create manifested (saguṇa-Brahman) and unmanifested (nirguṇa-Brahman) In fact, that aspect of Brahman which can be cognised is called saguṇa-Brahman (manifested) and the rest is nirguṇa-Brahman (unmanifested). So, when prakṛti and puruṣa weave and there is engagement with the environment, this is called (saguṇa–Brahman). However, prakṛti does not always manifest or when it does, it does not always get a response, in which case puruṣa experiences only itself. This is called (nirguṇa–Brahman). Importantly, nirguṇa does not mean lack of existence, it means lack of manifestation.  From puruṣa, citta (consciousness) emerges. However, citta is inert and takes on the quality (bhāva) of the entity that it is interacting with. Hence, it is the carrier of experiences. Also, puruṣa is continuously experiencing itself (jñāna) or stimulus coming from outside (vijñāna). Furthermore, from prakṛti (action), guṇa (attributes) emerge. In fact, guṇa–s are a mix of puruṣa and prakṛti. Firstly, when puruṣa is ascendant over prakṛti, it is called tamas (delusion). Similarly, when prakṛti is ascendant over puruṣa, the attribute is called rajas (passion or flow). Finally, when puruṣa and prakṛti are in balance, this is called sattva (harmony or balance).  Since, puruṣa and prakṛti have to work in order to create, maintain or destroy the universe, this is called action or Hence, karma emerges from the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti. Importantly, one must recognise that Brahman is permanence or Truth, but starting with primordial sacrifice (ādiyajña), the state of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, everything is impermanent, can decay and die! So, everything that is impermanent is a veil of ignorance (ajñāna) covering of the Brahman and hence it is māyā (illusion). Example. The progression of Brahman is from imperishable, changeless peace to manifestation. In fact, the Brahman is no different from us. First, we are in a state of nothing (Brahman). Then, we get an idea! If the idea is strong enough, then we make the sacrifice to make the idea work (ādiyajña). When the idea manifests, this is called saguṇa–Brahman (manifested Brahman). Next, we experience anxiety that the idea should succeed. If we were to consider the idea to be an entity then, for the idea, we are Brahman (adhyātman), we are in the idea, but the idea is not in us! Similarly, there are many ideas within us that never manifest, but remain within us. They are not dead, just unmanifested. These are called nirguṇa–Brahman (unmanifested Brahman). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is ādiyajña…   First, motility for karma comes from Brahman. Also, karma results in creation of transactions and bonds, these in turn result in creation of multiple identities/ Souls or ātman of varying complexities. As a result of the creation of multiple and complex transactions, bonds and entities, the universe is created and this is called golden egg (hiraṇyagarbha). Also, the centre of Identity of the Universe (hiraṇyagarbha) is called viṣṇu. Additionally, all karma occurs within the hiraṇyagarbha, which is the manifested aspect of the Brahman (saguṇa–Brahman). Since Brahman underwrites the motility of karma, Brahman exists everywhere. Also, since all karma require a sacrifice (yajña) for manifestation, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, as ādi, is everywhere and is the starting point of materiality. Example. Each housing society is defined by a boundary wall and has its own Identity. Similarly, each city, state, region, country or planet have their own centre of Identity. The Sun has a unique Identity which comes from its qualities, such as its name, colour, size as well as its capability to produce light and heat and its position as the centre of the Solar system. Similarly, other planets such as Mars, Jupiter, Saturn or Moon have their own identities. The biggest extant entity is the Universe, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that he is beyond even that. Since, he claims the position of ādiyajña, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is a state that has transcended material existence and merged with the source (Brahman).This allows him to participate and become the underwriting qualities of all the various entities (ātman-s) without becoming involved in their experience of existence. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga. Dynamics of death. According to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, in Chapter 2, body perishes but the Soul (ātman) moves to another body to repay its debts, based on its past karma.  How does this happen? To understand this, we need to understand rebirth. Why does rebirth occur? The answer to this lies in karma. We are born on account of debt (ṛṇa) and throughout, we are either debtors or creditors. This is called prārabdha-karma (karma that has come up for repayment). Here, karma actually means debt (ṛṇa). Consequently, this loose use of karma terminology can be confusing. All main events, people and situations we encounter in our lives occur because of prārabdha-karma.  Throughout life, in the process of reconciling prārabdha-karma, we act. So, during the process of reconciliation, in addition to reconciling old karma accounts, we are also creating new ones through our ongoing actions and these go into our overall book of debt. This is called āgāmi-karma (present state karma). This overall register of debt is called sañcita-karma (overall karma). This karma is the reason for rebirth, because all debt cannot be squared -off in one life. Remember, when it comes to karma, one may either be a creditor or a debtor and reconciliation spares no one. At death a person becomes a sentiment (bhāva), a residue of unfulfilled desires, regrets or vāsanās, which will become a part of the template for subsequent life (saṃsāra). In fact, they will manifest as motivation (vāsanā) which will be exhibited as personality (bhāva) when the person is reborn.  Then, is there any way for an individual to break this cycle of saṃsāra (birth and death) through karma? All debts are carried by our Self or ātman. Therefore, if the Self were to cease to exist, then there would be no one for clearance of karma (debt or credit). The soul (ātman), is after all a manifestation of the unmanifest (Brahman). Karma is accrued to that aspect which considers itself the doer (ahaṃkāra). Karma here means debt (ṛṇa) as opposed to action (karma). Consequently, this loose interpretation of terminology could be confusing. Karma occurs on account of duality (like-dislike, good-bad, truth-lies, God-Devil, merit-sin, love-hate) etc. When we like something, we bring it closer (rāga) and when we dislike something, we push it away (dveśa). This act of pushing and pulling results in and the imbalance causes debt (ṛṇa) which needs to be repaid. So, this means that no karma is accrued when there is no doer or Soul (ātman). So, when the Self (ātman) is indifferent to duality (like-dislike, good-bad etc.), there is no karma. This state also occurs when the person acts without the sentiment of being the doer (ahaṃkāra), when activity is performed as sacrifice (selflessness, not selfishness). Also, sacrifice may be defined as work done without expectation of return, this can also be called duty! Another way is when action is dedicated to another entity that cannot return the debt, like Śrī Kṛṣṇa, a deity, Guru, Country or society. So, when Śrī Kṛṣṇa says “dedicate your activity to Me (Śrī Kṛṣṇa)”, he means that when one dedicates any activity as sacrifice, there is no karma because there is no experience of being a doer (ahaṃkāra). Consequently, this breaks the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra) and enables one to transcend existence. Another interesting aspect in the explanation of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is his position as the owner of yajña or sacrifice, the state which occurs before there is expression of the Soul (ātman). So, when sacrifice is offered to sacrifice, there is no This situation is hypothetical and difficult to achieve. All the above methods are overt or gross (sthūla) methods of controlling debt (ṛṇa or karma). However, even when it’s not acting, the Self (ātman) still exists and this has to be neutered. The Self has to be brought to a point where it’s individual Identity or Soul (ātman) ceases to exist. This is the subtle (sūkṣma) When this completely neutered state is reached, the Self (ātman) experiences no change or karma (nirvikalpa), it does not react to stimulus (citta-vṛtti-nirodha). This place of no-change is also a state of infinite peace or nothingness. It is the state of permanence (brahman). The yoking of the Self (ātman) with the Brahman is yoga, and in this state, there is no rebirth. Example: All of us have faced exams and anyone who has worked in a corporate environment has faced the stress of annual appraisals. In fact, indignity of any appraisal is that it seeks to force diverse achievements into a “bell” curve, often compelling managers to compare apples with oranges.  Applying Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s concept here – perform your task diligently (with śraddhā). Communicate without fear or favour, with the sole intent of successful completion of the assigned task. Next, when appraisal comes, prepare well and state your achievements. Finally, when the result is out, accept it without allowing any exultation or depression. Do not resist the outcome. When there is no resistance, the cycle of karma is broken. Obviously, this is difficult, which is why transcending rebirth is not for the faint hearted. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga. Death and rebirth. If a person had unsuccessfully wished to complete a PhD, see a child, sibling or person before dying, go to a particular place or had some bucket list, then that overriding sentiment is carried away at death as karma.  We have seen how karma creates debt which has to be reconciled. So, when a person dies with any sentiment of want, desire or regret, he or she holds on to that sentiment as the greatest unfulfilled desire in life. This becomes the defining aspect of the individual at rebirth and when the person is reborn, they become fixations in the personality, called embedded memory (vāsanā) on account of prārabdha-karma. The first suggestion of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is that a yogī who wishes to avoid rebirth, should focus his consciousness (citta) on the puruṣa (adhidaiva). While Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains the qualities of puruṣa, but these are abstract and not of much use. This suggestion is not easy to implement. Instead, it would be simpler for the yogī to follow Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s instruction and anchor (yukta) his consciousness (citta) on his prāṇa at the centre of eyebrows and reach immortality at death. Also, one could practice thinking of Śrī Kṛṣṇa all the time, so that at death, the person merges in Śrī Kṛṣṇa and does not return because Śrī Kṛṣṇa is ādiyajña. Instead, the person goes to the place where great souls (mahātman) have reached and does not return. This suggestion is not just valid for Śrī Kṛṣṇa but one could apply this to any favourite deity (iṣṭa-daivata). A good practice which Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains that can be used at death is: Control all the gates (eyes, ears, tongue, olfactory, nasal, legs, hands, sexual organs, anus, urination organs), Control means that these organs should be without stress or tension and there should be a feeling of peace, there should be no input or output. Next, centre the cognition (manas) in the heart region. After this, place the Self (Identity) in the frontal lobe of the brain (mūladhi). To achieve this, the yogi must stop his or her consciousness or cognition (citta) from flowing out and steady it in the frontal lobe area without movement. There will be slight compression, tightness or pressure in the frontal lobe and the yogī must slowly make the sensation placid, peaceful, calm or without pressure.  Lastly, let the prāṇa be in harmonic meditation (this means that the prāṇa should move unstressed within the body). Finally, when leaving the body, utter OM, or any bījakṣara (Śrī Kṛṣṇa says any akṣara or single syllables). This stops other regrets and desires from becoming karma. A bījakṣara (bīja = root+ akṣara = syllable) is any single alphabet. In Sanskrit, all akṣara-s have certain frequency control. So, what happens is that when a person focuses on an alphabet, then there is loss of Identity into the Self. This results in stoppage of rebirth. Remember brahman or Śrī Kṛṣṇa or any favourite deity (iṣṭa-daivata). The above practices are very practical and doable, if one were to practice this kind of meditation regularly, then it will be easy to fall into that state at the time of death. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga. How yajña weaves with Bhārat’s culture. Firstly, every activity is started with a saṅkalpa (vow to complete). Secondly, activity is conducted in accordance with the Laws of ṛta. Finally, after work is completed, the fruits are offered to a form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, also called Narayana and this is called kāyena-vacā. Ordinarily, people finish any activity by chanting, “sarvaṃ kṛṣṇārpaṇam“ (sarva = everything + Kṛṣṇa = Śrī Kṛṣṇa + arpaṇa = offering). In this way, practitioners sacrifice their activity and results to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Thus, the Self is negated and everything is sacrificed to śrī Kṛṣṇa. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga (verse 5-7). Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains himself.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that he is that point in the supra-system where there is no Identity. So, anyone who focusses his or her cognition and intelligence on him (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) shall reach that point and not be born again. This argument may seem counter-intuitive. If there is a Śrī Kṛṣṇa who is cognised, there must be a Self (ātman) that cognises Śrī Kṛṣṇa, which means that yoga is not complete because the Self still exists and has not been neutralised. However, this is possible if the yogī were to adopt a technique that requires one to lose his or her identity (ātman) completely in Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In this condition, the Self ceases to exist. It does not matter whether Śrī Kṛṣṇa exists or not, nor in what state. What matters is that the Self should cease to exist. This yoga is called bhakti-yoga (refer Chapter-12). Additionally, this method is not confined to Śrī Kṛṣṇa but can be used with other deities as well. Conclusion: Śrī Kṛṣṇa is a yogī who has reached an extremely high level of “sthita-prajñā “ or “situational awareness”. Hence, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is able to explain the nuances of his position with respect to Brahman. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga (verse 23-28). Creation. Those who know that brahma’s day lasts a thousand yugas, also know that his nights last a thousand yugas. At beginning of his day, manifestation occurs from the Brahman (source) and at night, all that is perishable merges back into him. Beyond this, is the region of the imperishable. I reside in this abode. Only through unwavering focus can one reach me and thence this abode of the Imperishable. Those who die when sun is moving north (uttarāyaṇa) for 6 months, during waxing moon (śukla-pakṣa) and in day go to Brahman. Those who die when the sun is moving South (dakṣiṇāyaṇa), during the waning moon (kṛṣṇa-pakṣa) and at night, return. Any yogī who understands this yoga needs no other knowledge. How does the math of creation work? What is a kalpa? Firstly, the Universe or hiraṇyagarbha is an identity called Viṣṇu. Next, Brahmā emerges from Viṣṇu. Brahmā‘s lifespan is calculated as follows: 1 human day = 8 yāma 1 day of the pitṛs (ancestors) = 1 month/ 30 days Lifespan of pitṛs = 100 years or 3000 human years. 1 day of daivas (deities or divinities) = 1 human year Lifespan of daivas = 12000 years = 4320000 human years. 1 mahāyuga = 12000 years = 4320000 human years 1 day of Brahmā = 1 kalpa = 1000 mahāyuga = 4.32 billion human years 1 day and night of Brahmā = 2 kalpa = 8.64 billion human years Lifespan of Brahmā (mahā-kalpa) = 100 Years = 311.04 trillion human years. Note: it is important to distinguish Brahmā (the creator) from brahman (the source) and brāhmin (a human being whose sole purpose is to realise the Brahman and disseminate that knowledge (brahma-vidya) to the world. Some contradictions to accepted positions: conclusion on verse 23-26 There is a problem with Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s assertion (verse 23-26) that the time of death determines rebirth or escape from it. The reason for this conflict is his assertion in verses 5-16 where he states that a person would be reborn according to his sentiment (bhāva) at death.  In fact, the advice in verses 5-16 are in conformance with the rest of Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā and also to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s own laws of karma while verses 23-26 run are out of conformance to the rest of the text. Next, in verses 11-16, Śrī Kṛṣṇa also advises Arjuna on how a person should die to avoid rebirth, and it is independent of time of death. Lastly, if a person gets the merit of his or her own actions, then his rebirth cannot be governed by the time of death. Instead, if we were to accept the law of karma, a person would die when his karma required his departure. Hence, verses 23-26 are out of congruence from the rest of Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā. The practitioner may draw his or her own conclusions. Śrimad-bhāgavad-purāṇa explains this process of confronting death. When a person has completed the duties as specified by the āśrama, the person should then begin to realise that he or she must confront death. The key to dispassion is to draw down on use of energy and become minimalist. This is done by minimising consumption of cooked food and slowly migrating to natural foods such as nuts, milk and other simple foods /cereals. The person should keep minimum stock of food. The person should also maintain a simple wardrobe, giving away clothes as soon as fresh ones are procured. He is expected to minimise living space and reduce travel. Also, the person is encouraged to stop spending too much time in personal appearance as well as stop being fussy about his surroundings. When the person slowly becomes infirm, that person is encouraged to reduce intake, harmonise his or her prāṇa and give up identification with the body in the following manner. Control of the senses is done by merging the apertures of the body, viz, the two eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth and organs of urination and defecation in ether (ākāṣa or space). Next the internal heat of the body is controlled by not allowing it to emanate from the body. This will also merge the five vāyu (prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, udāna, samāna) into the cosmic airflow (vāyu). Then the person should merge the various parts of the body into their primordial elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether (space). For instance, speech should be bestowed to fire, hands and craftsmanship to Indra, locomotion to Viṣṇu, sensual pleasures to Prajapati etc. Then asmitā (I am this/ sense of identity or self-worth) and ahaṅkāra should be merged with Rudra. When this is steady, then the soul (ātma) slowly merges with the source (Brahman). After this the person should cease functioning like a fire that has run out of resources. Clearly, dying in a conscious state, fully merged with the Brahman is the preferred method of dying. Lessons learned in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga. The process of creation has never been detailed properly in any ancient text due to differences in interpretations. The delineation that are detailed in this version of Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā are a distillation of the myriad proposals in Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā, Śrimad-bhāgavad-purāṇa and Manu-smṛti. However, since there is no clear linkage between the myriad terms, some assumptions have been made, resulting in the process detailed above and in the various chapters. One aspect which the living often miss, is the dying. How do we die, what happens to the Soul, where does it go, how does the debt get reconciled and programmed into another Soul for reinsertion on Earth, etc.? Again, while ancient texts do shed some light on the journey of the Soul, that is not always clear and subject to interpretation. However, for the living, one clear direction is provided by Śrī Kṛṣṇa. You can prepare for death by practicing how your consciousness (citta) will exit the body. While one’s state at death may vary, with practice we can condition our consciousness, which means that we have a fighting chance at controlling the movement of the Soul after it exits from the body. But Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s tool of controlling the consciousness requires discipline (abhyāsa) and sacrifice (yajña). The Transliteration of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 8, akṣara-brahma-yoga follows. The Sanskrit words are in red italics. अर्जुन उवाच । किं तद् ब्रह्म किमध्यात्मं किं कर्म पुरुषोत्तम । अधिभूतं च किं प्रोक्तमधिदैवं किमुच्यते ॥ ८-१॥ अधियज्ञः कथं कोऽत्र देहेऽस्मिन्मधुसूदन । प्रयाणकाले च कथं ज्ञेयोऽसि नियतात्मभिः ॥ ८-२॥ Arjuna asked (1-2) What is that brahman? what is adhyātman? what is karma? adhibhuta and adhidaiva? what is that which is called adidaiva? (kiṃ tad brahma kimadhyātmaṃ kiṃ karma puruṣottama । adhibhūtaṃ ca kiṃ proktamadhidaivaṃ kimucyate ॥ 8-1॥)? Who and how does ādiyajña exist in this body? How is it cognised by self-restrained soul at time of death (adhiyajñaḥ kathaṃ ko’tra dehe’sminmadhusūdana । prayāṇakāle ca kathaṃ jñeyo’si niyatātmabhiḥ ॥ 8-2॥)? श्रीभगवानुवाच । अक्षरं ब्रह्म परमं स्वभावोऽध्यात्ममुच्यते । भूतभावोद्भवकरो विसर्गः कर्मसंज्ञितः ॥ ८-३॥ अधिभूतं क्षरो भावः पुरुषश्चाधिदैवतम् । अधियज्ञोऽहमेवात्र देहे देहभृतां वर ॥ ८-४॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (3-4) The imperishable brahman is supreme, they say that its nature is transcendental (akṣaraṃ brahma paramaṃ svabhāvo’dhyātmamucyate ।), it causes self-expression in creation which is called karma (bhūtabhāvodbhavakaro visargaḥ karmasaṃjñitaḥ ॥ 8-3॥). Primordial creation is any perishable situation/ state puruṣa is the primordial deity, I alone am primordial sacrifice in the body or the embodied (adhibhūtaṃ kṣaro bhāvaḥ puruṣaścādhidaivatam । adhiyajño’hamevātra dehe dehabhṛtāṃ vara ॥ 8-4॥). अन्तकाले च मामेव स्मरन्मुक्त्वा कलेवरम् । यः प्रयाति स मद्भावं याति नास्त्यत्र संशयः ॥ ८-५॥ यं यं वापि स्मरन्भावं त्यजत्यन्ते कलेवरम् । तं तमेवैति कौन्तेय सदा तद्भावभावितः ॥ ८-६॥ (5-6) When dying and leaving the body remember me only (antakāle ca māmeva smaranmuktvā kalevaram ।), he who makes effort goes to my being (yaḥ prayāti sa madbhāvaṃ), here is no doubt (yāti nāstyatra saṃśayaḥ ॥ 8-5॥). Whatever intuition or memory even, one leaves the body at the end, to that steady state the spirit is transformed (yaṃ yaṃ vāpi smaranbhāvaṃ tyajatyante kalevaram । taṃ tamevaiti kaunteya sadā tadbhāvabhāvitaḥ ॥ 8-6॥). तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु मामनुस्मर युध्य च । मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्मामेवैष्यस्यसंशयः ॥ ८-७॥ अभ्यासयोगयुक्तेन चेतसा नान्यगामिना । परमं पुरुषं दिव्यं याति पार्थानुचिन्तयन् ॥ ८-८॥ (7-8) Therefore, at all times think of me, and fight (tasmātsarveṣu kāleṣu māmanusmara yudhya ca।). Transfer your cognition and intelligence upon me, to me alone will you come, without doubt (mayyarpitamanobuddhirmāmevaiṣyasyasaṃśayaḥ ॥ 8-7॥). Practice yoga with focussed consciousness which is not wandering (abhyāsayogayuktena cetasā nānyagāminā ।), reach by constantly thinking, the divine supreme puruṣa (paramaṃ puruṣaṃ divyaṃ yāti pārthānucintayan ॥ 8-8॥). कविं पुराणमनुशासितार-         मणोरणीयंसमनुस्मरेद्यः । सर्वस्य धातारमचिन्त्यरूप-          मादित्यवर्णं तमसः परस्तात् ॥ ८-९॥ प्रयाणकाले मनसाऽचलेन         भक्त्या युक्तो योगबलेन चैव । भ्रुवोर्मध्ये प्राणमावेश्य सम्यक्         स तं परं पुरुषमुपैति दिव्यम् ॥ ८-१०॥ (9-10) Ancient Seer lawful Ruler, more minute than the atom or memory, who supports everything and is of incomprehensible form with the colour of the Sun (kaviṃ purāṇamanuśāsitāra-  maṇoraṇīyaṃsamanusmaredyaḥ । sarvasya dhātāramacintyarūpa- mādityavarṇaṃ tamasaḥ parastāt ॥ 8-9॥). At the time of departure, with unwavering cognition, devotion united by strength of Yoga and only by bringing the prāṇa exactly between the eyebrows, he merges with the supreme divine puruṣa (prayāṇakāle manasā’calena-  bhaktyā yukto yogabalena caiva । bhruvormadhye prāṇamāveśya samyak- sa taṃ paraṃ puruṣamupaiti divyam ॥ 8-10॥). यदक्षरं वेदविदो वदन्ति         विशन्ति यद्यतयो वीतरागाः । यदिच्छन्तो ब्रह्मचर्यं चरन्ति         तत्ते पदं सङ्ग्रहेण प्रवक्ष्ये ॥ ८-११॥ सर्वद्वाराणि संयम्य मनो हृदि निरुध्य च । मूर्ध्न्याधायात्मनः प्राणमास्थितो योगधारणाम् ॥ ८-१२॥ ओमित्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म व्याहरन्मामनुस्मरन् । यः प्रयाति त्यजन्देहं स याति परमां गतिम् ॥ ८-१३॥ (11-13) That which knowers of the Vedas proclaim as imperishable, which ascetics freed from attachment and those desires by practicing brahmacharyam enter the goal that I will explain to you (yadakṣaraṃ vedavido vadanti-  viśanti yadyatayo vītarāgāḥ । yadicchanto brahmacaryaṃ caranti- tatte padaṃ saṅgraheṇa pravakṣye ॥ 8-11॥). Having controlled all the gates controlling cognition and the heart and having placed the Soul in the forehead, anchor the prāṇa for continuous harmony in meditation (sarvadvārāṇi saṃyamya mano hṛdi nirudhya ca । mūrdhnyādhāyātmanaḥ prāṇamāsthito yogadhāraṇām ॥ 8-12॥). Thus, he who departs and leaves the body uttering OM, any single- syllable, remembering brahman or me, he attains the supreme goal (omityekākṣaraṃ brahma vyāharanmāmanusmaran । yaḥ prayāti tyajandehaṃ sa yāti paramāṃ gatim ॥ 8-13॥). अनन्यचेताः सततं यो मां स्मरति नित्यशः । तस्याहं सुलभः पार्थ नित्ययुक्तस्य योगिनः ॥ ८-१४॥ मामुपेत्य पुनर्जन्म दुःखालयमशाश्वतम् । नाप्नुवन्ति महात्मानः संसिद्धिं परमां गताः ॥ ८-१५॥ आब्रह्मभुवनाल्लोकाः पुनरावर्तिनोऽर्जुन । मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते ॥ ८-१६॥ (14-16) Who has a consciousness that is not fragmented constantly remembers me always, to him constant harmonisation in Yoga is easy (ananyacetāḥ satataṃ yo māṃ smarati nityaśaḥ । tasyāhaṃ sulabhaḥ pārtha nityayuktasya yoginaḥ ॥ 8-14॥).  He who has reached me does not get to any place of pain in another birth but goes to an eternal, exalted place which great Souls that have attained perfection reach (māmupetya punarjanma duḥkhālayamaśāśvatam । nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ saṃsiddhiṃ paramāṃ gatāḥ ॥ 8-15॥). Upto the world of Brahma one may return again, but having attained me, previous births do not occur (ābrahmabhuvanāllokāḥ punarāvartino’rjuna । māmupetya tu kaunteya punarjanma na vidyate ॥ 8-16॥). सहस्रयुगपर्यन्तमहर्यद् ब्रह्मणो विदुः । रात्रिं युगसहस्रान्तां तेऽहोरात्रविदो जनाः ॥ ८-१७॥ अव्यक्ताद् व्यक्तयः सर्वाः प्रभवन्त्यहरागमे । रात्र्यागमे प्रलीयन्ते तत्रैवाव्यक्तसंज्ञके ॥ ८-१८॥ भूतग्रामः स एवायं भूत्वा भूत्वा प्रलीयते । रात्र्यागमेऽवशः पार्थ प्रभवत्यहरागमे ॥ ८-१९॥ (17-19) The people that know night and day know that the day of Brahma ends after a thousand years, the night end after a thousand years (sahasrayugaparyantamaharyad brahmaṇo viduḥ । rātriṃ yugasahasrāntāṃ te’horātravido janāḥ ॥ 8-17॥). From the unmanifested proceed all manifestations at the coming of day (avyaktād vyaktayaḥ sarvāḥ prabhavantyaharāgame ।). Next, at the coming of night, dissolution truly happens and becomes unmanifested (rātryāgame pralīyante tatraivāvyaktasaṃjñake ॥ 8-18॥). Multitude of beings that are born again and again and are dissolved at the coming of night are truly helpless at this occurrence when day ends (bhūtagrāmaḥ sa evāyaṃ bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate । rātryāgame’vaśaḥ pārtha prabhavatyaharāgame ॥ 8-19॥). परस्तस्मात्तु भावोऽन्योऽव्यक्तोऽव्यक्तात्सनातनः । यः स सर्वेषु भूतेषु नश्यत्सु न विनश्यति ॥ ८-२०॥ अव्यक्तोऽक्षर इत्युक्तस्तमाहुः परमां गतिम् । यं प्राप्य न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम ॥ ८-२१॥ पुरुषः स परः पार्थ भक्त्या लभ्यस्त्वनन्यया । यस्यान्तःस्थानि भूतानि येन सर्वमिदं ततम् ॥ ८-२२॥ (20-22) Higher than that but existing is another unmanifested other than the unmanifested which is eternal who is in all beings which on perishing does not get destroyed (parastasmāttu bhāvo’nyo’vyakto’vyaktātsanātanaḥ । yaḥ sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu naśyatsu na vinaśyati ॥ 8-20॥). Unmanifested and imperishable, this is called That, they say it is the supreme goal, which having attained, there is no return and that supreme home is mine (avyakto’kṣara ityuktastamāhuḥ paramāṃ gatim । yaṃ prāpya na nivartante taddhāma paramaṃ mama ॥ 8-21॥). Puruṣa is supreme undoubtedly, attainable by devotion, when nothing else is there in being, then all this is That (puruṣaḥ sa paraḥ pārtha bhaktyā labhyastvananyayā । yasyāntaḥsthāni bhūtāni yena sarvamidaṃ tatam ॥ 8-22॥). यत्र काले त्वनावृत्तिमावृत्तिं चैव योगिनः । प्रयाता यान्ति तं कालं वक्ष्यामि भरतर्षभ ॥ ८-२३॥ अग्निर्ज्योतिरहः शुक्लः षण्मासा उत्तरायणम् । तत्र प्रयाता गच्छन्ति ब्रह्म ब्रह्मविदो जनाः ॥ ८-२४॥ धूमो रात्रिस्तथा कृष्णः षण्मासा दक्षिणायनम् । तत्र चान्द्रमसं ज्योतिर्योगी प्राप्य निवर्तते ॥ ८-२५॥ शुक्लकृष्णे गती ह्येते जगतः शाश्वते मते । एकया यात्यनावृत्तिमन्ययावर्तते पुनः ॥ ८-२६॥ (23-26) Also, I will tell you what happens at death about non-return or return and even about where yogīs go after death (yatra kāle tvanāvṛttimāvṛttiṃ caiva yoginaḥ । prayātā yānti taṃ kālaṃ vakṣyāmi bharatarṣabha ॥ 8-23॥). First, fire, light, day, ascending lunar fortnight six-months of the northern movement of Sun, those departing will go to Brahma and cognise Brahma (agnirjyotirahaḥ śuklaḥ ṣaṇmāsā uttarāyaṇam । tatra prayātā gacchanti brahma brahmavido janāḥ ॥ 8-24॥). Smoke, night and descending lunar fortnight six months of the southern movement of the Sun, by the lunar light, the yogi will get to return (dhūmo rātristathā kṛṣṇaḥ ṣaṇmāsā dakṣiṇāyanam । tatra cāndramasaṃ jyotiryogī prāpya nivartate ॥ 8-25॥). Ascending and descending lunar cycles paths, these are genuinely thought to be eternal in the world, by one a person goes without return, by the other, returns again (śuklakṛṣṇe gatī hyete jagataḥ śāśvate mate । ekayā yātyanāvṛttimanyayāvartate punaḥ ॥ 8-26॥). नैते सृती पार्थ जानन्योगी मुह्यति कश्चन । तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु योगयुक्तो भवार्जुन ॥ ८-२७॥ वेदेषु यज्ञेषु तपःसु चैव         दानेषु यत्पुण्यफलं प्रदिष्टम् । अत्येति तत्सर्वमिदं विदित्वा         योगी परं स्थानमुपैति चाद्यम् ॥ ८-२८॥ (27-28) Neither of these paths deludes anyone who has reached the state of sublime merger (naite sṛtī pārtha jānanyogī muhyati kaścana ।) therefore at all times be steadfast in yoga (tasmātsarveṣu kāleṣu yogayukto bhavārjuna ॥ 8-27॥). Whether the person is a vedāntin, practitioner of sacrifices, an ascetic and also giver of alms (vedeṣu yajñeṣu tapaḥsu caiva dāneṣu), whatever merit is decreed, surpassing that is this, which having known, the yogī attains supreme and primeval abode (yatpuṇyaphalaṃ pradiṣṭam । atyeti tatsarvamidaṃ viditvā  yogī paraṃ sthānamupaiti cādyam ॥ 8-28॥).   [...] Read more...
Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā – chapter 9 (rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga)
Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā – chapter 9 (rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga)Acknowledgement. School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga (Yoga of sovereign science, sovereign secret). Introduction – what is rājavidyā, rājaguhya? Rājavidyā = rāja+vidyā means sovereign knowledge or understanding the functioning of a kingdom. Rājaguhya = rāja+guhya means sovereign secrets are those underlying concepts that support the knowledge of functioning of a kingdom. So, what is the kingdom, this knowledge and secret? First, kingdom is obviously the universe that we live in. Next, knowledge is the functioning of this universe and finally, the secret is how a person’s application of free-will at death changes the direction of his In fact, Śrī Kṛṣṇa states that direct cognitive experience (pratyakṣa eva gamya) is critical for comprehension of this knowledge, which is the gross and subtle manifested and unmanifested aspects of Brahman. This chapter also brings out Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s role, as explained by him to Arjuna, which makes this chapter significant. In fact, we will try to establish Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s role in Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā as that of a yogī who has attained a supreme metaphysical state and who guides all practitioners in transcending māyā (illusion) to merge with the Truth (Brahman).  This will enable yoga practitioners to differentiate the mythological person “Śrī Kṛṣṇa”, from the yogī in Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā.  School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga, verse (1-5). Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains himself. Now I will explain how yoga can help a person transcend perception and achieve merger with the Brahman through direct experience (pratyakṣa eva gamya). Indeed, this process is very easy for those who follow dharma (stay on the path of natural conditioning, harmony or order) and can be achieved through śraddhā (effort that is sincere, dedicated, persistent and filled with patience).  All existence is pervaded by me as unmanifested Brahman. Also, all exist in me. However, though I support all creation but I do not abide in them. In fact, all entities merge into creation (prakṛti) at the end of an eon (kalpa). Subsequently, they get regenerated at the beginning of next kalpa whether they prefer it or not. Through all this, I remain unconcerned and unattached while I preside over this activity. Unfortunately, people get deluded and pray only to my human form, ignoring my truth as the lord of all beings (verse 11). But those that understand me, seek me with single-minded devotion. Lastly, people need to realise that they must not indulge in pointless hope, activity without reason or pointless intellectualisation, because these efforts do not increase knowledge of Brahman. To understand me, practitioners need to understand all aspects of sacrifice because I represent sacrifice (ādiyajña) and I am present in all sacrifices (verse 16 – ahaṃ kraturahaṃ yajñaḥ). Finally, through me, they can reach Brahman. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga, verse (6-12). Some observations on Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s statements. He is the foundation of all existence. He also says that all beings created out of prakṛti merge with him and he causes them to be regenerated at the end of a So, he is an animator of prakṛti but not necessarily its creator. Creation is not a choice, there is no free-will. All beings are helpless in this whole process of creation, existence and dissolution. He is not impacted by actions, and he is indifferent to actions which he induces through prakṛti. His control spans the entire cosmos and he is the causal factor for transformation and change. Lastly, he says that all knowledge stops when consciousness stops. Positioning of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Kṛṣṇa says his existence is in the unmanifest condition, which means that that he is the substrate or the motility prakṛti. It is interesting is that he differentiates himself from puruṣa as adhyātman (verse3-4). Interestingly, there is only one state above the state of puruṣa and prakṛti, which is primordial sacrifice (ādiyajña), and this state includes manifested (saguṇa) and unmanifested (nirguṇa) Brahman. Also, Śrī Kṛṣṇa clearly states that he alone is primordial sacrifice (ādiyajña ahameva) (verse 4). Importantly, one must view Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s positioning as that of an entity that has attained a metaphysical state which enables the permanent/ source/ truth/ Brahman to manifest into an impermanent and material state (saguṇa / nirguṇa Brahman). It is very easy to confuse the yogī Śrī Kṛṣṇa with the person Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the person, king of the Yadavas, who plays the flute, is friendly to the Pandavas and participates actively in Mahabharata. However, Śrī Kṛṣṇa the yogī is a person who has achieved a supreme state of awareness (sthita-prajñā). This makes Śrī Kṛṣṇa an observer, who is indifferent to the outcome of karma, because he has reached the state of ādiyajña (primordial sacrifice). In fact, Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself declares that most people do not understand him and confuse his physical state with his real state (verse 11-12). School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga, verse (13-19). Endowment of sacrifice. Firstly, I am sacrifice (ādiyajña), the offering to ancestors (pitṛs), medicine, ghṛta (clarified butter), sacrificial fire (agni) and the offering (hūta). Also, I am father and mother of this universe, dispenser of fruits of action, grandfather, OM, the pure Vedas – Rig, Yajur and Sama. For all, I am the goal, supporter, resident and witness. Also, I am the shelter, friend, origin, dissolution, locus, balance and imperishable seed. Moreover, I give heat, withhold and send rain. In fact, I am immortality as well as death, existence and well as non-existence. Those drinkers of soma (soma is a drink which was used in ancient sacrifices. The ingredients of soma have been lost, but are thought to contain mild intoxicants) who have attained the three knowledge, purified from sin by sacrifice, go come to me where they stay until they have exhausted merits of their actions after which they return.  Anyone, practicing any other forms of worship will be endowed with similar benefits provided it is done with śraddhā (sincerity and devotion) because all sacrifice comes to me (Śrī Kṛṣṇa). Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains the benefits of sacrifice (yajña): Firstly, all sacrifices yield merit of the target of sacrifice. Also, those sacrificing to Gods, go to Gods. Similarly, those sacrificing to ancestors (pitṛs), reach the ancestors, just as those worshipping elements, go to elements. Finally, those that dedicate their sacrifice to me (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) will come to me. Importantly, the scale of sacrifice is not important. However, quality, devotion and sincerity (śraddhā) are of principle value. In fact, even a flower, leaf, fruit or even water is accepted if it is done with śraddhā. Remember, one does not have to prepare a special occasion for sacrifice. Sacrifice whatever you are doing; the food before you eat, gift before you give away, any action before acting, all austerities your words or even the fruits of your efforts. Without a doubt, I (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) regard everyone equally and am partial to none. However, those who perform sacrifice, I am in them and they are in me.  Furthermore, your worldliness does not get affected provided you sacrifice unto me. In fact, with sacrifice, your background, birth, education, status becomes irrelevant. So, focus your awareness on the Brahman and sacrifice unto me and you will merge with me (Śrī Kṛṣṇa). Sacrifice and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. So, when one sacrifices his or her action (karma) to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is ādiyajña (primordial sacrifice), one is actually sacrificing into sacrifice, mathematically, this is like adding null to null or infinity to infinity Finally, another critical concept that Śrī Kṛṣṇa clarifies is that the ability to perform is not relevant. In fact, it is the quality of dedication, sincerity and desire for perfection (śraddhā) that matters. Hence, Śrī Kṛṣṇa detaches quality of outcome from quality of input and clearly establishes the ascendency of effort and contribution over outcome. Śrī Kṛṣṇa also states that ability to focus on the task at hand with all attention, without excessive worry about the outcome is the crucible of sacrifice.  School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga. Cosmology. We have seen that Brahman is infinite and changeless cognitive state of nothingness, which is the state of peace. Puruṣa and prakṛti Brahman experiences an existential crisis and sacrifices itself. As a result, we get primordial sacrifice (ādiyajña). Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that he is this state of ādiyajña. At this point, from Brahman emerge puruṣa (primordial Identity or Self or adhidaivata) and prakṛti (primordial manifestation or energy of puruṣa). Puruṣa is the static element of Brahman and the experiencer.  Next, from prakṛti, the dynamic element, emerges guṇa (attibutes) – tamas (delusion or lethargy), rajas (passion) and sattva (balance). Subsequently, prakṛti and puruṣa weave (tantra) with each other to create primordial karma (action). Importantly, all motility comes from Brahman. Additionally, when prakṛti and puruṣa weave and there is creation of materiality, this is called (saguṇa–brahman). This is also called māyā (illusion). However, there are other conditions when the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti is not perfect; Firstly, prakṛti may not manifest in response to puruṣa. For example – often, we do not react to every experience, especially when we are unsure or afraid of the outcome, such as when we are confronted by a bully or fear our safety, jobs etc. At such times, we often just experience great fear, but let the moment go. Second, even when prakṛti manifests, there may be no feedback, in which case puruṣa experiences only itself. For example – assume that you are walking in a corridor and you meet and greet a friend. If the friend does not return the greeting, puruṣa has an experience of loss of self-worth, but prakṛti does not participate in the transaction. This is called (nirguṇa–brahman) where puruṣa exists but prakṛti is not engaged. For example – we suddenly may have a craving for potato chips but be unable to act on the craving. Concept – What are ādibhūtas or pañṭcabhūtas? First, transformation from unmanifested (nirguṇa–brahman) to manifested (saguṇa-brahman) occurs due to yajña (sacrifice). From saguṇa–brahman emerge the cardinal elements (pañṭcabhūta), comrising earth (pṛthvī), water (ap), fire (agni), air (vāyu) and ether (ākāśa). as a mix of the guṇa, tamas (indolence/ delusion), rajas (passion, energy) and sattva (balance). For instance, when we drive, there is a mix of earth (pṛthvī or car) + water (ap or fuel) + fire (agni or combustion) and air (vāyu or movement, coefficient of drag or resistance). Firstly, if we give or take materially, it is solid or pṛthvī (earth). Next, when we exchange liquids, it is water (ap). Also, fire (agni) is transformation agent that occurs in all effort. Importantly, fire is the only medium that changes the state of anything. For example – fire (agni) transforms ore to metal. Also, when it is removed as latent-heat from an ingredient, it freezes the ingredient. Since it is a predominantly transformative element, fire is considered to be the most important amongst all the primordial/ cardinal elements (pañṭcabhūta). This is also the reason why fire is central to sacrifice (yajña) in sanātana-dharma and thermodynamics is central to Science. When we move, there is air (vāyu). Lastly, our speech is communication or ether (ākāśa) What is the sacrifice (yajña) in the above example? Ability to overcome inhibition or fear to get a job done is sacrifice of asmitā (self-esteem). Investing in resources such as car, fuel, coordination etc. is sacrifice of resources such as time, money and effort. Willingness to change in light of newer information sacrifice of asmitā. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga. A scientific basis of the Universe and Yoga. Let us now look at the concept of matter and energy. Scientists have come up with a theoretical model that the universe consists of ~68% dark energy (an expanding energy that fills the space which is getting created in the Universe), ~27% dark matter (there are spaces in the Universe where there is no matter), ~5% normal matter.  No one is sure how space is getting created, how distances between galaxies is increasing, why there are empty spaces and what is matter. Does Yoga have an answer? Let us look at the problem from the concept of Brahman, which is a cognitive state of null. This means that Brahman is a combination of Physics and Psychology. It is not a Philosophy. It is state of existence, the bedrock of creation. From Brahman emerges puruṣa and prakṛti to create the Universe or hiraṇyagarbha (golden egg), likely though the Big-Bang. The identity of this entity is called Viṣṇu. It’s important to remember that Viṣṇu is the identity and hiraṇyagarbha is the manifestation. One can conclude that Viṣṇu energises hiraṇyagarbha but does not participate in it. Also, we know that matter is composited of five primordial elements (pañṭcabhūta), comprising earth (pṛthvī), water (ap), fire (agni), air (vāyu) and ether (ākāśa), which occur from the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti, as a combination of guṇa. All matter has a quanta unit, this comes as the weave of śiva is called śakti that create everything. This weave is called tantra, their union is called yoga and one quanta weave of śiva and śakti is called prāṇa (motility). What this means is that while Physics/ Science posits that the building block of matter is a waveform which then combine/ recombine to form the Universe, actually, the waveform (śakti) is an expression of śiva. Physics is unable to prove the existence of Brahman or a Unversal identity (Viṣṇu) because of what it is, an identity. But this concept of Brahman answers every question of existence that science cannot. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga Definition of Brahman – Brahman can be defined as an infinite state of unchanging equilibrium or peace. So, Brahman is a state of “Zero Entropy” and “Zero Enthalpy” (there is no heat content or disorder, because there is no pressure, volume or temperature, hence it is not a thermodynamic system). It is important to recognise that pressure, volume and temperature are all functions of fire (agni). Hence, Brahman is both, a state of null as well as infinite state of unchanging thermodynamic equilibrium. Creation of the Universe: All creation comes from the Brahman: The consciousness (citta) of Brahman, in a state of infinite thermally inactive equilibrium, becomes aware of itself (prajñā) and experiences existential anxiety and a desire to know itself. Consequently, this anxiety manifests as a vibration called spandana (atemporal vibration or pulse).  Next, from this vibration (spandana) emerges a macrostate called puruṣa (primordial identity or experiencer) that weaves with prakṛti (manifestation of that identity) to create matter. Simultaneously, at a quanta level, the building block of puruṣa and prakṛti is śiva (quanta identity) and śakti (quanta manifestation) emerge. Puruṣa and prakṛti weave with each other to create an entity called the ātman. At a super-macro-thermodynamic system level, this is called the Universe or hiraṇyagarbha (golden-egg) with its ātman as Viṣṇu. This state is also valid in any visible, normal entity or standard thermodynamic closed system like a bird, animal, human, earth, solar system, universe, car, computer, table, chair etc., anything that has a natural state (dharma).  How does quanta yoga work? How is it different from science? Śiva manifests from Brahman without attributes as nirguṇa–brahman. Obviously, since this is an Identity only, it does not enable Brahman to confirm its existence because there is no change in state or thermodynamic equilibrium.  So, śakti manifests from śiva and this weave (tantra) with śiva is called saguṇa–brahman because attributes (guṇa–s) emerge from śakti. Also, the quanta unit of the combination of śiva and śakti is a unit of motility called prāṇa. From śiva emerges consciousness (citta) and from śakti emerges attribute (guṇa). Śiva is the static aspect and śakti is the dynamic aspect of their weave. Śiva’s identity experience through it’s consciousness (citta) and manifests as śakti.  Śiva and śakti are inseparable and weave with each other continuously. Without śiva (identity), there can be no śakti (manifestation) and without śakti (manifestation), there can be no śiva (identity). This is encapsulated is Ādi Śankara’s soundaryalahiri, stanza 1. However, this weave yields no outcome because there is no confirmation of identity of Brahman‘s manifestation. Confirmation is activated when another śiva-śakti entity emerges from Brahman and the two entities confirm each other’s existence.  Whenever there is lack of confirmation of its identity, śiva experiences a drop in identity, resulting is the consciousness (citta) turning inward, which draws śakti inward also.  The impact of the consciousness (citta) turning inward results in śiva becoming lethargic, which is inertia, mass or tamas. The weave of śiva with śakti creates a quanta movement which is called karma (action) and is what we call work in thermodynamics. Energy is created. Śakti‘s movement inward creates an electromagnetic force moving inward, which results in prāṇa, a unit of śiva-śakti generating gravity. What happens when śiva finds another śiva? First, how does śiva look for another śiva? If śiva does not find another śiva, it immediately experiences fear of loss of identity, inertia or So, it manifests and starts seeking another śiva. Śiva’s consciousness (citta) emerges on the manifestation of śakti in the form of an electromagnetic pulse. This electromagnetic pulse could be light that has a consciousness (citta) constantly seeking another śiva. This makes light or any waveform such as an electromagnetic pulse a karma generated by the weave of śiva with śakti. Importantly, the outcome of the weave of śiva and śakti is dependent on consciousness (citta), because consciousness is the communication medium between śiva and śakti and determines śakti‘s attribute (guṇa). Hence, consciousness (citta) determines how identity/ matter (śiva) will combine/ transact/ experience other śivas. Creation of matter and energy. When two śiva’s connect, they immediately form a bond (bandana) with one another, the two quanta śiva combining to form a complex identity called puruṣa. This complex independent identity (puruṣa) weaves its own unique manifestation (prakṛti), and this is separate from its constituent quanta śiva or śakti. The unit of puruṣa and prakṛti is called ātman (Soul). Puruṣa then begins to seek with its consciousness (citta) and bond with other puruṣa in the same manner as explained with śiva above. Consequently, this results in creation of matter and energy, each entity having a Soul (ātman), which is a unit of puruṣa (matter) and prakṛti (energy). When matter (puruṣa‘s) consciousness (citta) turns inwards or becomes negative, energy (śakti) manifests as inertia, tamas or matter. Next, when citta emerges from puruṣa, energy (śakti) becomes positive, and outward flowing expansive, passionate, is called rajas or energy. Finally, when puruṣa and prakṛti find a balance, it is called sattva or natural state/ harmony. The relationship between puruṣa and prakṛti is matter-energy balance and their quanta unit is prāṇa. However, the relationship between various puruṣa-s is very unstable because there is continuous bonding with other puruṣa-s resulting in equilibrium being disturbed. Consequently, the cycle of guṇa (attribute), tamas, rajas and sattva is perennial, with each getting ascendany briefly, depending on the state of puruṣa’s citta. The least stable of all three guṇa–s is sattva, because thermodynamic balance or ideal state in entropy is not only difficult to achieve, but also difficult to retain.  Dynamics of the bond (bandhana). Within any bond, the two śiva-s have identities of different intensities but neither will leave the bond unless they can find another śiva because they fear loss of identity and the bond is the only confirmation they have of their own existence.  As a result, the śiva that is more stable is less dependent than the śiva that is insecure. This results in inequality of give-take and binding energy within the bond which results in an unequal give-take relationship / transaction between the two śiva. Since the give-take within the relationship is unequal, one gives or takes more, thermodynamic work is generated out of the relative movement between the two śiva-s. This results in release/ absorption of energy and creation of debt (ṛṇa) because one śiva would have given more (exothermic) than and the other śiva would have taken more (endothermic). It’s important to realise that the release or absorption of energy (śakti) will result in a manifestation and generation of another identity (śiva). This generation of new śiva (identities) creates unbonded identites (entropy), result in expansion and makes the thermodynamic cycle perennial . So, karma is a thermodynamic transaction between śiva-s that results in the production of more śiva-s and since the process is self-sustaining, continuous and infinite, it is called sadā-śiva (perpetual śiva). This is why the universe is continuously expanding. This debit/ credit is stored in śiva and it has to be reconciled with the other śiva. When this debt or credit is not reconciled, śiva experiences distress or tamas and turns inwards into dark matter.   The above process which has been explained for quanta śiva is valid for puruṣa also.  The only change in the case of puruṣa is that since puruṣa is a complex structure of other puruṣa-s, with their foundation in quants śiva-s, the relative movement (thermodynamic work or karma) within a macro entity can be very complex, consisting of many sub-entities and quanta.  School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga Normal matter: Importantly, for normal matter, which is the manifested aspect of Brahman (saguṇa-brahman), any weave of puruṣa and prakṛti that results in creation, maintenance and dissolution of pañṭcabhūta-s or lower order of creation / primordial elements with the existence of a Soul (ātman) is normal matter. Dark matter: When śiva or puruṣa‘s debt (endo-exo thermodynamic balance) is not getting reconciled, then the consciousness (citta) becomes inward looking and incapable of manifestation and the prāṇa or ātman experiences severe tamas or inertia, that is dark matter.  Importantly, when śiva has low identity, hence low motility, śakti also will have low/ no motility (it can move without direction but cannot create) because motility requires śiva to form a bond with another śiva and establish its identity. This cannot occur if śiva is in existential crisis. Inertia, gravity and yoga: When puruṣa or śiva is in tamas, śakti ~ zero. Consequently, this results in consciousness (citta) moving into puruṣa or śiva which generates an inward electromagnetic force which is the source of gravitational force. Dark energy: When śiva emerges from Brahman, it experiences fear of loss of identity. So, it manifests as śakti and its consciousness (citta) reaches out to confirm its existence. This is an electromagnetic pulse that is experiencing extreme fear of loss of identity. Consequently, śakti‘s intensity is much higher than śiva which is ~ zero. This is dark energy in Physics. However, since śakti exists without a strong anchor of śiva, its velocity is solely dependent on the speed of śiva’s consciousness (citta). Why does light bend: Light is high on energy (śakti) and low on identity (śiva). So, in order to affirm its identity, śiva needs to establish a bond with another śiva. Consequently, śakti needs to manifest and find another śiva. As a result, śakti, in the form of light forms a natural affinity towards any type of identity (śiva). So, then consciousness (citta) finds another śiva, śakti, driven by śiva’s citta bends towards any śiva. This is called gravitational lensing. This is also the reason why objects light up when light strikes them. There is natural affinity of citta to another śiva for the establishment of a bond and confirmation of identity of its own śiva. So, when śakti finds another śiva, a bond is created between the two śiva-s and both increase in manifestation, this lights the entity, after which karma occurs and there is material creation. This material creation is always a mix of śiva and śakti in the quanta form growing into puruṣa and prakṛti in the universal form. The five primordial material of earth, water, fire, air and space get created by the mix of tamas (śiva>śakti), rajas (śakti>śiva) and sattva (śiva=śakti). For instance, earth is predominantly tamas or śiva/puruṣa>śakti/prakṛti. Interchangeability of light and matter. Importantly, the balance between śiva and śakti is never constant, it changes according to the bond that śiva has with another śiva. So, first śiva experiences deep sense of loss of Identity which is tamas, this makes śakti move because śiva-s consciousness (citta) tries to find other śiva which is compatible. Finally, śiva forms a bond with another śiva and creates normal matter, which is sattva. However, the bond is temporary and dependent on each śiva’s sense of identity-insecurity, hence the bond breaks whenever there is interference from another śiva, leading to a repeat of tamas/rajas/sattva cycle. As a result, śiva (identity) may start as normal matter, transform into dark matter (nirguṇa–brahman) or become a weak identity and become dark energy within puruṣa. Also, this state can keep changing. Finally, this means that light and matter are interchangeable because they co-exist in the same unit, prāṇa which is the quanta motility unit of the yoking of a śiva with a śakti. Lastly, the material entity which is created by the integration of the weave of śiva and śakti in the quanta form growing into puruṣa and prakṛti in the universal form is called hari-hara.This comprises half body of śiva integrated with an opposite half of viṣṇu in sanātana-dharma. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga. Some contradictions to accepted positions. When one reviews the concept, there is a clear point of merger of all knowledge (saṃkhya), be it philosophical, psychological, physiological, physical or scientific.  The problem seems to be that there is no foundational theory that supports the unity of all knowledge, such as is proposed above and embedded in the ancient science of yoga. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga. Lessons learned. Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s position is clarified in this chapter as a state of existence; in verse 11, he states that people confuse his human manifestation as reality, which he is not. Then, from verses 16-19, he asserts that he is sacrifice, the materials of a sacrifice, the reason and objective. In verse 20-21, he obliquely refers to rebirth and how it functions, while at the same time dissociating himself from the individual’s state. So, we can deduce that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the framework and operation but not the participant. Anyone who sacrifices to him specifically, gets rewarded appropriately. This means that while there are different paths, those that sacrifice unto him get direct benefits of surrender. This is little difficult to accept because the deity should not make a difference, it is the input quality that matters. School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-yoga follows: The Sanskrit words are in red italics. श्रीभगवानुवाच । इदं तु ते गुह्यतमं प्रवक्ष्याम्यनसूयवे । ज्ञानं विज्ञानसहितं यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात् ॥ ९-१॥ Śrī Kṛṣṇa said – (1) Firstly, to you who bears no ill-will I shall declare this truly great secret, (idaṃ tu te guhyatamaṃ pravakṣyāmyanasūyave ।), knowledge of the Self along with knowledge of the Whole, which when cognised results in emancipation from misfortune (jñānaṃ vijñānasahitaṃ yajjñātvā mokṣyase’śubhāt ॥ 9-1॥).  राजविद्या राजगुह्यं पवित्रमिदमुत्तमम् । प्रत्यक्षावगमं धर्म्यं सुसुखं कर्तुमव्ययम् ॥ ९-२॥ अश्रद्दधानाः पुरुषा धर्मस्यास्य परन्तप । अप्राप्य मां निवर्तन्ते मृत्युसंसारवर्त्मनि ॥ ९-३॥ (2-3) Sovereign science, sovereign secret is highly sacred recognisable by direct experience for the righteous very easy to perform and imperishable (rājavidyā rājaguhyaṃ pavitramidamuttamam । pratyakṣāvagamaṃ dharmyaṃ susukhaṃ kartumavyayam ॥ 9-2॥). People without devotion or righteousness of this do not attain me and return to live and die in saṃsāra (aśraddadhānāḥ puruṣā dharmasyāsya parantapa । aprāpya māṃ nivartante mṛtyusaṃsāravartmani ॥ 9-3॥). मया ततमिदं सर्वं जगदव्यक्तमूर्तिना । मत्स्थानि सर्वभूतानि न चाहं तेष्ववस्थितः ॥ ९-४॥ न च मत्स्थानि भूतानि पश्य मे योगमैश्वरम् । भूतभृन्न च भूतस्थो ममात्मा भूतभावनः ॥ ९-५॥ (4-5) All in this world are pervaded by me in the unmanifested form (mayā tatamidaṃ sarvaṃ jagadavyaktamūrtinā ।), all beings exist in me undifferentiated and not I in them (matsthāni sarvabhūtāni na cāhaṃ teṣvavasthitaḥ ॥ 9-4॥).  The embodied living me cannot cognise my sublime sovereignty (na ca matsthāni bhūtāni paśya me yogamaiśvaram ।). Supporting the embodied and living in them my Soul enables them to express themselves (bhūtabhṛnna ca bhūtastho mamātmā bhūtabhāvanaḥ ॥ 9-5॥). यथाकाशस्थितो नित्यं वायुः सर्वत्रगो महान् । तथा सर्वाणि भूतानि मत्स्थानीत्युपधारय ॥ ९-६॥ सर्वभूतानि कौन्तेय प्रकृतिं यान्ति मामिकाम् । कल्पक्षये पुनस्तानि कल्पादौ विसृजाम्यहम् ॥ ९-७॥ (6-7) Just as air rests in space perennially which exists everywhere, similarly comprehend this that all creation rest in me (yathākāśasthito nityaṃ vāyuḥ sarvatrago mahān । tathā sarvāṇi bhūtāni matsthānītyupadhāraya ॥ 9-6॥). All beings created out of prakṛti merge with me at the end of a kalpa (sarvabhūtāni kaunteya prakṛtiṃ yānti māmikām । kalpakṣaye). At the beginning of a kalpa I generate them again (punastāni kalpādau visṛjāmyaham ॥ 9-7॥). Prakṛti being my own creation, is generated again and again (prakṛtiṃ svāmavaṣṭabhya visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ ।). All these myrial beings are helpless in the force of prakṛti (bhūtagrāmamimaṃ kṛtsnam avaśaṃ prakṛtervaśāt ॥ 9-8॥).  प्रकृतिं स्वामवष्टभ्य विसृजामि पुनः पुनः । भूतग्राममिमं कृत्स्नमवशं प्रकृतेर्वशात् ॥ ९-८॥ न च मां तानि कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनञ्जय । उदासीनवदासीनमसक्तं तेषु कर्मसु ॥ ९-९॥ मयाध्यक्षेण प्रकृतिः सूयते सचराचरम् । हेतुनानेन कौन्तेय जगद्विपरिवर्तते ॥ ९-१०॥ (8-10) Having controlled prakṛti (prakṛtiṃ svāmavaṣṭabhya) I send out again and again (visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ ।) all these myriad creations (bhūtagrāmamimaṃ kṛtsnam) who are helpless before the impact of prakṛti (avaśaṃ prakṛtervaśāt ॥ 9-8॥). These acts do not bind me (na ca māṃ tāni karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanañjaya ।), I reside indifferent and unattached in those that act (udāsīnavadāsīnamasaktaṃ teṣu karmasu ॥ 9-9॥). The static and dynamic components (sacarācaram) of prakṛti operate under my supervision (mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate), this is the causal (hetunānena) factor for transformation or change in the cosmos (kaunteya jagadviparivartate ॥ 9-10॥). अवजानन्ति मां मूढा मानुषीं तनुमाश्रितम् । परं भावमजानन्तो मम भूतमहेश्वरम् ॥ ९-११॥ मोघाशा मोघकर्माणो मोघज्ञाना विचेतसः । राक्षसीमासुरीं चैव प्रकृतिं मोहिनीं श्रिताः ॥ ९-१२॥ (11-12) Disregard this delusional human form that I have taken refuge in know my higher state of being my Lordship over all creation (avajānanti māṃ mūḍhā mānuṣīṃ tanumāśritam । paraṃ bhāvamajānanto mama bhūtamaheśvaram ॥ 9-11॥). Vain expectations, futile actions, deluded understanding of knowledge (moghāśā moghakarmāṇo moghajñānā vicetasaḥ ।), truly these deluded qualities of prakṛti are manifested in the demonic and those of aasuric qualities (rākṣasīmāsurīṃ caiva prakṛtiṃ mohinīṃ śritāḥ ॥ 9-12॥), महात्मानस्तु मां पार्थ दैवीं प्रकृतिमाश्रिताः । भजन्त्यनन्यमनसो ज्ञात्वा भूतादिमव्ययम् ॥ ९-१३॥ सततं कीर्तयन्तो मां यतन्तश्च दृढव्रताः । नमस्यन्तश्च मां भक्त्या नित्ययुक्ता उपासते ॥ ९-१४॥ (13-14) However, souls of exceptional cognition, with divine nature take refuge in me (mahātmānastu māṃ pārtha daivīṃ prakṛtimāśritāḥ ।), worship with a cognition that does not deviate having recognised meas the imperishable motility of beings (bhajantyananyamanaso jñātvā bhūtādimavyayam ॥ 9-13॥). They are always trying to glorify me with effort and firm in their vows and prostrations of me (satataṃ kīrtayanto māṃ yatantaśca dṛḍhavratāḥ ।), worshipping and doing homage with continual steadfastness (namasyantaśca māṃ bhaktyā nityayuktā upāsate ॥ 9-14॥). ज्ञानयज्ञेन चाप्यन्ये यजन्तो मामुपासते । एकत्वेन पृथक्त्वेन बहुधा विश्वतोमुखम् ॥ ९-१५॥ (15) Sacrificing all knowledge and sacrificing everything else also, worship me (jñānayajñena cāpyanye yajanto māmupāsate ।), my universal face exists as one, as different, and as multiplicity (ekatvena pṛthaktvena bahudhā viśvatomukham ॥ 9-15॥). अहं क्रतुरहं यज्ञः स्वधाहमहमौषधम् । मन्त्रोऽहमहमेवाज्यमहमग्निरहं हुतम् ॥ ९-१६॥ पिताहमस्य जगतो माता धाता पितामहः । वेद्यं पवित्रमोङ्कार ऋक्साम यजुरेव च ॥ ९-१७॥ गतिर्भर्ता प्रभुः साक्षी निवासः शरणं सुहृत् । प्रभवः प्रलयः स्थानं निधानं बीजमव्ययम् ॥ ९-१८॥ तपाम्यहमहं वर्षं निगृह्णाम्युत्सृजामि च । अमृतं चैव मृत्युश्च सदसच्चाहमर्जुन ॥ ९-१९॥ (16-19) I am the purpose (ahaṃ kratu), I am sacrifice (ahaṃ yajñaḥ), I am the oblation (svadhāham), I am medicine (ahamauṣadham), I am mantra (mantro’ham), I am also ghee (ahamevājyam), I am fire (ahamagni), I am that which is sacrificed or the offering (ahaṃ hutam). I am the father of the world (pitāhamasya jagato) as also the mother, the elemental substance, grandfather (mātā dhātā pitāmahaḥ), sacred vedam, OM and also Rik, Sama, Yajur. (vedyaṃ pavitramoṅkāra ṛksāma yajureva ca ॥ 9-17॥). Enabler of goals, the Lord, witness, resident, refuge, friend (gatirbhartā prabhuḥ sākṣī nivāsaḥ śaraṇaṃ suhṛt ।), the origin, dissolution, position, the hoard, seed imperishable (prabhavaḥ pralayaḥ sthānaṃ nidhānaṃ bījamavyayam ॥ 9-18॥). I am the source of heat (tapāmyaham), I withold and send forth rain (varṣaṃ nigṛhṇāmyutsṛjāmi ca ।), I am nectar of immortality (amṛtaṃ caiva), I am death and existence, non-existence and I am Arjuna (mṛtyuśca sadasaccāhamarjuna ॥ 9-19॥). त्रैविद्या मां सोमपाः पूतपापा         यज्ञैरिष्ट्वा स्वर्गतिं प्रार्थयन्ते । ते पुण्यमासाद्य सुरेन्द्रलोक-         मश्नन्ति दिव्यान्दिवि देवभोगान् ॥ ९-२०॥ ते तं भुक्त्वा स्वर्गलोकं विशालं         क्षीणे पुण्ये मर्त्यलोकं विशन्ति । एवं त्रयीधर्ममनुप्रपन्ना         गतागतं कामकामा लभन्ते ॥ ९-२१॥ (20-21) The knowers of three Vedas and drinkers of Soma by me are purified of impurities by help of sacrifices pray to go to heaven (traividyā māṃ somapāḥ pūtapāpā-  yajñairiṣṭvā svargatiṃ prārthayante ।). They, having become purified reach the world of Indira and enjoy divinity and divine pleasures in divine world (te puṇyamāsādya surendraloka- maśnanti divyāndivi devabhogān ॥ 9-20॥). They that have enjoyed the vast celestial places enter the mortal world when they exhaust their merits (te taṃ bhuktvā svargalokaṃ viśālaṃ-  kṣīṇe puṇye martyalokaṃ viśanti ।), thus abiding by the three Vedas, they come and go and seek the world of desires (evaṃ trayīdharmamanuprapannā- gatāgataṃ kāmakāmā labhante ॥ 9-21॥). अनन्याश्चिन्तयन्तो मां ये जनाः पर्युपासते । तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानां योगक्षेमं वहाम्यहम् ॥ ९-२२॥ येऽप्यन्यदेवता भक्ता यजन्ते श्रद्धयान्विताः । तेऽपि मामेव कौन्तेय यजन्त्यविधिपूर्वकम् ॥ ९-२३॥ अहं हि सर्वयज्ञानां भोक्ता च प्रभुरेव च । न तु मामभिजानन्ति तत्त्वेनातश्च्यवन्ति ते ॥ ९-२४॥ (22-24) Those people who worship me exclusively without worrying about others, them I ensure complete and assiduous prosperity (ananyāścintayanto māṃ ye janāḥ paryupāsate । teṣāṃ nityābhiyuktānāṃ yogakṣemaṃ vahāmyaham ॥ 9-22॥). Even those devotees who worship other deities with complete devotion (ye’pyanyadevatā bhaktā yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ ।), they also worship me alone using an unapproved process (te’pi māmeva kaunteya yajantyavidhipūrvakam ॥ 9-23॥). Truly, I am the enjoyer and sole owner of all sacrifices and those who do not cognise this truth, they fall (ahaṃ hi sarvayajñānāṃ bhoktā ca prabhureva ca । na tu māmabhijānanti tattvenātaścyavanti te ॥ 9-24॥). यान्ति देवव्रता देवान्पितॄन्यान्ति पितृव्रताः । भूतानि यान्ति भूतेज्या यान्ति मद्याजिनोऽपि माम् ॥ ९-२५॥ (25) Worshippers of deivas, go to deivas; worshippers of ancestors, go to the ancestors; worshippers of beings go to the world of creation; my worshippers come to me (yānti devavratā devānpitṝnyānti pitṛvratāḥ । bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā yānti madyājino’pi mām ॥ 9-25॥). पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति । तदहं भक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मनः ॥ ९-२६॥ यत्करोषि यदश्नासि यज्जुहोषि ददासि यत् । यत्तपस्यसि कौन्तेय तत्कुरुष्व मदर्पणम् ॥ ९-२७॥ शुभाशुभफलैरेवं मोक्ष्यसे कर्मबन्धनैः । संन्यासयोगयुक्तात्मा विमुक्तो मामुपैष्यसि ॥ ९-२८॥ (26-28) Leaf, flower, fruit, water, those that offer me with devotion (patraṃ puṣpaṃ phalaṃ toyaṃ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati ।), those offered with devotion I accept of the pious souls (tadahaṃ bhaktyupahṛtamaśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ ॥ 9-26॥). Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as sacrifice, whatever you donate (yatkaroṣi yadaśnāsi yajjuhoṣi dadāsi yat ।) all your austerities you do, consign it to me (yattapasyasi kaunteya tatkuruṣva madarpaṇam ॥ 9-27॥). Thus, you will be freed from good and bad fruits that create bonds of karma (śubhāśubhaphalairevaṃ mokṣyase karmabandhanaiḥ ।) when your soul is steadfast in seeking harmony through renunciation (saṃnyāsayogayuktātmā), you shall be liberated and come to me (vimukto māmupaiṣyasi ॥ 9-28॥). समोऽहं सर्वभूतेषु न मे द्वेष्योऽस्ति न प्रियः । ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या मयि ते तेषु चाप्यहम् ॥ ९-२९॥ अपि चेत्सुदुराचारो भजते मामनन्यभाक् । साधुरेव स मन्तव्यः सम्यग्व्यवसितो हि सः ॥ ९-३०॥ क्षिप्रं भवति धर्मात्मा शश्वच्छान्तिं निगच्छति । कौन्तेय प्रतिजानीहि न मे भक्तः प्रणश्यति ॥ ९-३१॥ (29-31) I treat all creation equally, I do not repel them nor are they dear to me (samo’haṃ sarvabhūteṣu na me dveṣyo’sti na priyaḥ ।) but those who worship me with devotion, they are in me and also, I am in them (ye bhajanti tu māṃ bhaktyā mayi te teṣu cāpyaham ॥ 9-29॥). Even if a wicked person worships me, thinking of no other (api cetsudurācāro bhajate māmananyabhāk ।), truly, he should accurately be regarded as saintly, for emancipated is he (sādhureva sa mantavyaḥ samyagvyavasito hi saḥ ॥ 9-30॥). Soon he becomes a righteous soul and attains eternal peace (kṣipraṃ bhavati dharmātmā śaśvacchāntiṃ nigacchati ।), know that none of my devotees is destroyed (kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati ॥ 9-31॥). मां हि पार्थ व्यपाश्रित्य येऽपि स्युः पापयोनयः । स्त्रियो वैश्यास्तथा शूद्रास्तेऽपि यान्ति परां गतिम् ॥ ९-३२॥ किं पुनर्ब्राह्मणाः पुण्या भक्ता राजर्षयस्तथा । अनित्यमसुखं लोकमिमं प्राप्य भजस्व माम् ॥ ९-३३॥ (32-33) Indeed, even those who may me of wretched origin who take refuge in me (māṃ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye’pi syuḥ pāpayonayaḥ ।), also women, business people and workers, they also attain supreme salvation (striyo vaiśyāstathā śūdrāste’pi yānti parāṃ gatim ॥ 9-32॥). How many more brahmins, pious devotees, royal seers also impermanent and unhappy in the world have obtained this, worship me (kiṃ punarbrāhmaṇāḥ puṇyā bhaktā rājarṣayastathā । anityamasukhaṃ lokamimaṃ prāpya bhajasva mām ॥ 9-33॥). मन्मना भव मद्भक्तो मद्याजी मां नमस्कुरु । मामेवैष्यसि युक्त्वैवमात्मानं मत्परायणः ॥ ९-३४॥ (34) With your cognition on me, my devotee, sacrifice unto me, propitiate me alone, strive steadfastly with your soul thus devoted to me (manmanā bhava madbhakto madyājī māṃ namaskuru । māmevaiṣyasi yuktvaivamātmānaṃ matparāyaṇaḥ ॥ 9-34॥). [...] Read more...
PCOS – Polycysytic ovarian syndrome or disease
PCOS – Polycysytic ovarian syndrome or diseasePCOS – Polycysytic ovarian syndrome or disease Introduction to PCOS. PCOS or Polycysytic ovarian syndrome is a condition where a woman’s level of sex hormones are out of balance resulting in formation of ovarian cysts. In fact, this condition got its name because of the finding of enlarged ovaries containing multiple small cysts (polycystic ovaries). Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a relatively common hormonal disorder that affects between 2 and 8% women of reproductive age. Overall, approximately 18% women have PCOS, but over 70% are able to live normal lives. So, this means that having ovarial cysts does not necessarily mean that the person will suffer from PCOS. The exact cause of PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome is not clear, though the signs and symptoms of women with PCOS have been documented. Also, it is possible that PCOS is inherited, though this is not proven. However, it is known that the ovaries of women with PCOS may produce excessive amounts of male hormones, or androgens, and this can lead to disruptions in the menstrual cycle and impaired fertility. PCOS physiology. Symptoms common to all women with PCOS are, Irregularity in the menstrual cycle coupled with lack of ovulation. So, women may experience infertility. Presence of excess male hormones (androgens). As a result, this may lead to presence of facial hair (hirsutism) in a male pattern. Also, the androgen can also lead to the presence of pigmented hair around the nipples and lower abdomen. Finally, excess androgen can lead to balding and acne. Absence of the hormone progesterone. As a result, there could be uterine bleeding at irregular intervals. Consequently, there is an increased risk of uterine cancer. Insulin resistance, weight gain and obesity are common occurrences for people with PCOS. Furthermore, this could lead to increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol and CPR, which increases the risk of hypertension and heart disease. Depression and anxiety due to loss of self-esteem. PCOS Health. PCOS is affected by the following parameters, a- Stress: The reasons for PCOS are obscure. Generally speaking, there is some evidence of heredity contributing to its incidence. However, it is seen that there is greater incidence today than 50 years ago. Consequently, this can be taken as evidence that lifestyle and stress play a major role in the control of PCOS. b- Weight: One of the side effects of PCOS is weight gain. Specifically, this could lead to Type 2 diabetes and heart related ailments. So, this makes weight control important. c- Diet: Diet control impacts weight and stress. Hence, controlling this illness will require strict control over diet. Here, the main restrictions would be: Reduce or stop sweets, fried food and alcohol. Replace sugar with natural sweeteners like honey or jaggery. Try to replace red meat with white meat or fish. Additionally, try to boil or steam instead of fry. If possible, stop and switch to other forms of protein. Take multiple small meals. Likewisee, try and convert one meal to fruit. Additionally, increase green vegetable content. If possible, switch to whole wheat and avoid white flour (maida) products such as white bread, biscuits etc. Also, try and switch to brown or hand pounded rice. Increase protein intake. Include soya, lentils, beans etc. in larger quantities. Increase use of curd (curd has more probiotics than yogurt), depending on ability to tolerate curds. Drink at least 2 litres of water. Exercise – Exercise is critical for leeching out the excess testosterone. In fact, exercise is the best way to reset the muscles to homeostasis and reduce stress, anxiety, increase blood supply to various organs and health. Sleep – affects stress and catabolic rebuilding of the body and homeostasis. Āsana solutions, PCOS intervention and support may be divided into the following areas; Increased blood flow to the endocrine organs such as the pituitary and thyroid. To this end, sundara-viparītakaraṇi, sarvāngāsana, matsyāsana, śirasāsana fall in this category. Improved functioning of pancreas, liver and kidneys. Here, dhanurasana, arda-matsyendrasana, sundara-viparītakaraṇi, sarvāngāsana and kapālabhātī prāṇāyāma are critical. Increasing blood flow to ensure health of the genital region. Practice of sundara-viparītakaraṇi, pavanamuktāsana, paschimotanāsana, naukāsana, arda-halāsana, arda-matsyendrāsana, utkatāsana, uḍḍīyana and kapālabhātī prāṇāyāma are critical. Breathing is a psychosomatic process which affects the overall health of the body. Hence it is important to ensure breathing is deep, regular and rhythmic to ensure that stress is eliminated from the system. Consequently, nāḍī-śuddhi prāṇāyāma and dhyana are critical here. The therapy plan, Beginner – 3 months – all āsana to be performed slowly and after OK from doctor. Intermediate – 3 months – all āsana to be performed only after improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 30 mins Final – all āsana to be performed only after substantial improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 45 mins Āsana Beginner Intermediate Final No Time frame 3 months 3 months thereafter 1 Padmāsana 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes 2 Bhujaṃgāsana 2 2 2 3 Dhanurāsana 2 2 2 4 Pavanamuktāsana 2 3 3 5 Arda-halāsana 2 2 3 6 Naukāsana 10 counts 20 counts 20 counts 7 Utkatāsana 10 counts 20 counts 20 counts 8 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi (important) 5 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes 9 Sarvāngāsana (very important) 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 10 Matsyāsana (very important) 10 counts 10 counts 10 counts 11 Śirasāsana (very important) 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 12 Arda-matsyendrāsana (important) 10 counts 10 counts 10 counts 13 Uḍḍīyana 1 x 5 counts 2 x 5 counts 2 x 10 counts 14 Nāḍī-śuddhi prāṇāyāma (important) 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 15 kapālabhātī  (very important) 20 x 2 cycles 30 x 2 cycles 50 x 2 cycles 16 Śavāsana 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 17 Meditation – dhyāna (sit in silence and focus on the breath – very important) 10 minutes 15 minutes 20 minutes [...] Read more...
Halasana – Plough Pose
Halasana – Plough PoseSchool of Yoga explains halasana (Plough Pose) School of Yoga explains – halasana technique : (Should be learned under supervision) Sthithi (starting) position: Lie on the back, hands to the side. Breathe in. Breathing out, using back and leg muscles as support, lift legs off the floor, over the face to the rear of the head. Slowly, taking care not to jerk the neck, begin to stretch legs as far as possible. Ensure that there is equality in the stretch of the legs, legs are straight and that there is no distortion in the balance between the legs when stretching. Initially legs will bend and not stretch out straight. Over time and with practice, final posture will be reached. At this point, the shoulder will support the back and will lock with the neck. The degree to which the legs are straightened and stretched away from the face indicates expertise in this asana. Maintain shallow breathing if unable to sustain a “breathing out” state. Hold 3 to 10 counts. Slowly, release the pressure on the back and bring the feet closer to the face Breathing in, lift the legs and bring them back to the ground. Straighten the body Breathe deeply. Repeat 3 to 6 times. The drishti (gaze) recommended is focus on the neck-lock in the vishuddi–chakra. School of Yoga explains – halasana benefits : This exercise is excellent for toning up nerves and muscles of the entire spine – neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, lower thigh muscles and hamstrings. This pose energises the cardio vascular system to a lesser extent. In the final pose, where there is a chin lock, the carotid artery is squeezed, thereby diverting blood to the thyroid. This improves the functioning of this critical component of the endocrine system.  School of Yoga explains – halasana contraindications If you have any form of back ache, do not attempt this asana without adequate supervision and support. People with cardiac problems, lower back problems and circulatory disorders should not attempt the final position.  Do not perform this asana if you have cervical spondylosis, hernia or arthritis. This asana should not be practiced during menstruation or pregnancy. Some noteworthy points on halasana: Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika  External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi, While this exercise is very good for energizing the endocrine system, those with cervical or lumbar spondylosis should avoid this exercise completely.  Some would be tempted to use the hand to support the back when lifting and returning the legs to its original position. Whilst this is acceptable when one is learning the exercise, over time one should try to lift the legs and take it over the face to the rear without support as this strengthens the muscles of the lower back. The use of the back to lift legs also results in increased sense of balance between left as well as right halves of the torso but one should be careful and not jerk or move too rapidly. [...] Read more...
Karma Yoga – yoga of action
Karma Yoga – yoga of actionSchool of Yoga explains karma-yoga: All our actions (karma) are a manifestation or our identity (asmitā). After we act, we anxiously await the result of our action. Furthermore, we do this because the feedback reinforces our impression of ourselves, our self-worth (asmitā). When the action is acknowledged, we experience an enormous feeling of achievement, action or ownership. However, when the feedback is negative, we become depressed, withdrawn and negative. Our actions are a manifestation of our values and conditioning (dharma). Consequently, we decide that we like or dislike anything based on this conditioning. When we like the feedback, we draw closer to the object (rāga) and when we don’t like the feedback, we push the object away (dveṣa). This movement of drawing close or pushing away is action (karma). School of Yoga explains characteristics of the bond (bandhana); Existential bond: The first feedback which we receive confirm our existence. Consequently, this feedback becomes a critical need for us. As a result, once we receive this validation of our existence, we immediately try to secure the source of this feedback. So, we immediately build a bond with the entity which acknowledges our manifestation and try to maintain the bond to ensure that we never have to worry about our existence. Transaction bond: Once our existence is validated, we begin to transact with the other entity and a give-take or stimulus-response transaction is generated. So, the bond generated in this manner is called a transactional bond School of Yoga explains transaction bonds; Sambandana (equal bond) in Sanskrit (sama = equal + bandhana = bond). Equal bonds exist when give and take occur in equal measure. This generally occurs in a marriage, where give and take is a continuous process. In fact, this is the reason marriages in India are called sambandh and in-laws are called sambhandi or samdi (of equal bond or relationship). Ṛṇānubandhana or bond of debt in Sanskrit (ṛṇa = that of debt + bandhana = bond). All bonds other than sambandhana fall into this category. Ṛṇa or riṇ occurs when one give or takes more from the other, which occurs in almost all cases. The debt created has to be liquidated and if it is not completed in this life, it will spill over to the next. This is the basis for logic of rebirth or saṃsāra. The dissolution of debt involves 2 terms which need to be understood; Since all the karma accumulated is often not liquidated in a single transaction, the total debt which is accumulated is called sañcita-karma (accumulated karma) The debt coming up for liquidation is called prārabdha-karma or undertaken karma. The debt that is getting creating now, is called agami-karma or current karma. School of Yoga explains karma-yoga: Since karma is the accrual and dissolution of debt, therefore, karma-yoga is the process of; Dissolving existing debt Not accruing debt. Since all actions are performed by us as a manifestation of our identity, so this means that karma-yoga is our ability to our action from our sense of identity. School of Yoga on implementing karma-yoga: To practice karma-yoga, the following techniques are key to isolating the Self from its actions; The ability to perform actions without saṅkalpa (desire for an outcome). Perform all actions as a sacrifice (yajñá). Receive feedback on action is without judgement (neither like nor dislike, in a dispassionate manner). Similarly, the action of others should be received without judgement and in a dispassionate manner. Internal Tags: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Stress and prana, Awareness measures, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga. External Tags: Consciousness School of Yoga – conclusion of karma-yoga: Initially, there will be enormous internal conflict and fear of losing identity. However, over time there is better increased awareness of situations which result in improved discrimination (vivekam) and dispassion (vairagyam). Consequently, the Yogi achieves a high level of situational awareness (sthithaprajñā) and this results in isolation of the Self. When there is neither accrual or dissolution of debt, there is no Karma. This is karma-yoga. Points to ponder on karma-yoga; What is karma-yoga? Detail the elements of karma-yoga and how do they impact yoga? How is karma-yoga implemented? What are the techniques of using karma-yoga in daily life? Explain the different types of bonds? What is ṛṇa or debt? How does it affect karma? [...] Read more...
Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 10 (Vibhuti Yoga)
Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 10 (Vibhuti Yoga)Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 10 – Vibhuti Yoga (Yoga of Splendour) School of Yoga explains Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 10 – Introduction and synopsis. In this chapter, Sri Krishna speaks in detail about himself as one who has no origin but is the host of all creation. He goes on to describe himself as logic (buddhi), knowledge of the Self (jnana), lack of delusion (asam-moham), forgiveness (kshama), truth (satya), self-control (dama), quietness/ calmness (shama), contentment (sukham), and grief (dukham). Also, he covers opposites, such as being existence (bhava), non-existence (a-bhava), fear (bhayam), lack of fear (a-bhayam). Next, he covers sentiment, such as non-violence (ahimsa), treating all equally (samata), contentment (tushti), austerity (tapah), charity (danam), fame (yash) and defame (a-yash). Following this, he covers himself as being the creation and capability of the seven Seers (Maharishi), 4 ancient manus and all evolution. School of Yoga explains Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 10 – Sri Krishna explains his manifestation: In answering Arjuna’s question – “how does one know you, what process should one follow to reach you? Tell me your powers and attributes for I am not satisfied by these words”, Sri Krishna details his manifestation, covering nearly every quality known to us, such as both desirable and undesirable, addition and subtraction of value, harmony and chaos. Sri Krishna says – I am the Self, seated in the hearts of all beings. Also, I am the beginning, middle and end. Of the Adityas, I am Vishnu; among luminaries, I am the Sun; of the Maruts, I am Marichi; among stars, I am the Moon. Next, he says that of the Vedas, I am Saman; among Deivas, I am Vasava; of the senses, I am cognition. Among living beings, I am awareness. Then, of the Rudras, I am Shankara; among Yakshas and Raakshasas, I am Vittesa (Kubera); of Vasus, I am Pavaka; among mountains, I am Meru.  Additionally, he says – among priests I am Brihaspati; of warriors, I am that of Skanda; among water bodies, I am the ocean. Then, of Rshis I am Brighu and among words, I am the single alphabet (aksharam). Following this, he says – of sacrifices, I am japa; among immovable things, the Himalayas.  Subsequently, he says I am Ashwatha among trees; of Devarshis, I am Narada; among Gandharva, I am Chitraratha; of Siddhas, I am Kapila. Of horses, I am Ucchaisravas; among elephants, I am Airavata; of men, the king. Of weapons, I am the thunderbolt; among cows, I am Kamadhenu; of progenitors, I am Kandarpa (Cupid); among serpents, I am Vasuki. Also, among snakes, I am Ananta; of water deities, I am Varuna; of the manes (ancestors), I am Ayrama. Lastly, among regulators of death, I am Yama and, among devotees, I am Prahalada. Finally, of reckoners, I am Time; Following this he says – I am the lion among beasts and Garuda among birds. Of purifiers, I am the wind; among wielders of weapons, I am Rama; of fishes, I am the crocodile; among streams, I am Ganga.  Importantly, he declares that in creation, I am the beginning, middle and end; in knowledge, I am the knowledge of the self. I am logic in any conversation. I am indestructibility in the alphabet, the duality in compound words. Also, I am everlasting time and dispenser, existing everywhere. Finally, I am all devouring death; prosperity in the prosperous. Sri Krishna also says that of feminine qualities, I am fame, fortune, speech, memory, intelligence, firmness and forgiveness. Of Samans, I am Brhatsaman; among meters, I am Gayatri; among months, I am margasirsha; of seasons, I am spring.  Following this, he declares that I am risk taking in the gambler and the splendour of the splendid. Also, I am the effort in victory; truth in the truth. Of the Vrishnis I am Vasudeva; among Pandavas, I am Arjuna; of Sages, I am Vyasa; among poets, I am Usana. Then, Sri Krishna states that I am the rod of justice; the diplomacy among diplomats. Also, I am silence in the secret; knowledge of the wise. I am seed of all creation; nothing – sentient or insentient can exist without me. School of Yoga explains Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 10 – The concept of power and dharma: एवं सर्वं स सृष्ट्वैदं मां चाचिन्त्यपराक्रमः । आत्मन्यन्तर्दधे भूयः कालं कालेन पीडयन् ॥ ५१ ॥ evaṃ sarvaṃ sa sṛṣṭvaidaṃ māṃ cācintyaparākramaḥ | ātmanyantardadhe bhūyaḥ kālaṃ kālena pīḍayan || 51 || Thus, repeatedly suppressing time (of dissolution) by time (of creation and maintenance), he, of inconceivable power, created all this and also myself; and then disappeared within himself (51) Manusmriti verse 1.51. Thanks to – https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/manusmriti-with-the-commentary-of-medhatithi/d/doc145468.html. Manusmriti is another document which deals with creation, maintenance and dissolution of the Universe. One aspect that is not dealt with any of the ancient texts is power, hierarchy of power and its subtlety, possibly because all the ancient documents are a top-down set of instructions, meant to be discussed and followed but not disputed. However, Manusmriti 1.51 gives one an opening that Brahman created the Universe by suppressing dissolution, which is the primordial use of power. Also, this means that within existence, a primordial instinct to life overwhelms dissolution or destruction. A question that we answer later in this chapter… why are we afraid to die? Dharma of power and heirarchy: To begin, both power and hierarchy flow from dharma (natural state or conditioning). From dharma comes availability of capability to exercise power and this determines hierarchy. Each genus or family is designed within an intra-genus power hierarchy called the ecological pyramid. For example, on land: Grass struggles to stay alive and regenerates itself after fires ravage it, storms flatten it and summer heat dries it. This proves the hierarchy of creation over dissolution, life over destruction. Next, grass does not voluntarily give itself up to become food for a goat. The goat seizes it to nourish itself. Similarly, a goat does not offer itself as food to a carnivore, it is taken as food and life is given away in pain and in a struggle. On top of this chain is man. Similarly, on water; Microbes get eaten by small insects which get eaten by amphibians that get eaten by small fishes. These small fishes then get devoured by larger fishes and this goes on until the top of the pyramid, which is the shark. When it comes to amphibians, it is the crocodile. Man is the apex predator on this chain also. There is power hierarchy within a genus also. The dharma of a lion is to lead a pride of lionesses but that position is constantly challenged and the lion has to regularly fights off other lions competing for his pride. This is applicable to all animals, where application of power decides who leads and who does not. Power hierarchy affects humans also. Socially, while the varna system is equal by design, it becomes stratified by application of power. Those that influence and change society are more powerful than those that follow them. Politically, the ruler or head of a country is more powerful than a bureaucrat, just as a law-maker is more powerful than a law-dispenser. There is a continuous struggle for supremacy between various leaders that rise on the foundations of specific expertise such as knowledge, armed capability, financial strength, communication, religiosity and public influencers. Countries have a varna system. We have super-powers, regional-powers, religious powers and other powers, first-world, second-world etc., all moving up and down the hierarchy scale. For example: super-powers of the nineteenth century such as Great Britain, France, Soviet Union and others have moved out and others such as United States and China now rival each other to be at the top of the pyramid. Business too has a varna system. Large companies often dictate design, operations and financial rules to smaller peers and suppliers.  The varna system exists in management also. The chairman of the board of a company sits at the top of the chain with department heads below him, who have a structure that they have power and control over.  There is no equality in the hierarchy and it is not static. For example- in business, the entity that positions itself best and is most profitable, becomes the leader of that business. However, that is static – Ford became the market leader with the introduction of Model T, but lost its leadership when it did not innovate. Similarly, the other large American automotive companies lost their power when companies from other countries overtook them. So, power is dynamic and changes with karma (both agami as well as prarabda). Sri Krishna explains the summary of his manifestation: There is no end to my divine manifestation, this is but a small exposition of my capabilities. Whatever glorious, prosperous and powerful exists, know that to have come from me. Indeed, there is no need for micro knowledge for I support the universe with a fragment of myself. School of Yoga explains the concept: What is Sri Krishna trying to say in this chapter? Where is Sri Krishna positioning himself? He seems to be saying that he is everything in everything! What does that mean? We have already established that the imperishable Brahman is the source, everything that emerges is karma in the form of sacrifice (yagna) and Sri Krishna is adiyagna (primordial sacrifice/ transformation or change). Since, he is adiyagna, Sri Krishna has transcended material existence and has merged with the source (Brahman). This allows him to participate and become the underwriting quality of all entities (atmas) without becoming involved in their experience of existence. Additionally, it is important to differentiate Sri Krishna the person from Sri Krishna, the state of existence. Unfortunately, since Sri Krishna the person is seen to be advising Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Geeta, there is great possibility of confusing one with the other. In fact, in chapter 9, Sri Krishna cautions Arjuna, saying that the human form that he has is maya, and advising him to stop getting attached to his human form. Unfortunately, this does not help Arjuna and we continue to see Arjuna struggling with this confusion throughout Mahabharata. So, there is reason to believe that an ordinary practitioner would end up confusing Sri Krishna the person from Sri Krishna, the yogi. Conclusion: In this chapter, Sri Krishna chooses his state to be the apex of each genus, category or state, sitting on top of all hierarchy. He is the source and dispenser of the natural state, conditioning (dharma) and primordial power. This circles back to the starting point, which is the sacrifice (yagnya). With Sri Krishna being the primordial sacrifice (adiyagnya), it is not hard to see how that state automatically confers commensurate capability. Again, this confirms the hypothesis that Sri Krishna is a state and not a person. What is the role of sacrifice in existence? How does Sri Krishna claim so may roles? Logic (buddhi), knowledge of the Self (jnana), lack of delusion (asam-moham), forgiveness (kshama), truth (satya), self-control (dama), quietness/ calmness (shama), contentment (sukham), grief (dukham), existence (bhava), non-existence (a-bhava), fear (bhayam), lack of fear (a-bhayam) – All of the above aspects can be classified as aspects of living with discrimination, grace and dispassion. All require a person sacrifice his or her baser instincts and aspire for a nobler and moral life. This sacrifice is the quality of Sri Krishna. Non-violence (ahimsa), treating all equally (samata), contentment (tushti), austerity (tapah), charity (danam), fame (yash), defame (a-yash) are aspects of self-control. This requires that a person have the ability to face criticism, derison, pain and suffering with equanimity and dispassion, and this requires sacrifice of fear, pettiness and selfishness.  Mother and Father – Without doubt, parents sacrifice for their children. Importantly, they give time, effort, money and emotional strength, without expectation of return. Time – All activity is based on time; our thoughts and perceptions change with time. Every changing situation requires adjustment, which is a sacrifice. Here, the sacrifice is fear of outcome, expectation and fear of loss of self-worth. Among living beings, I am awareness – Awareness is that aspect which drives one’s ability to live effectively in the environment. It requires one to move away from delusion, be kind to others in trouble and demonstrate grace and courage in the face of adversity. This is a sacrifice. I am the Self – The Self or atma is the repository of karma. It is benign to its environment; it observes but does not participate because it is the extension of the Brahman. Its existence comes from adiyagna, which is Sri Krishna. I am all-devouring death – death is a sacrifice. The body is sacrificed and degenerates to its constituent cardinal elements (adibhoota = earth, water, fire, air and ether). At death, karma that has come up for dissolution (prarabda-karma) is closed and the Soul (atman) is reconstitued as another entity through the reconciliation of its overall karma (sanchita-karma). But, why are we afraid of death? When we die, our sense of Identity dies with us. This sense of Identity (asmita) is our security, our fragile sheath of existential confidence. At death, this sheath is torn away, exposing us to a fear of loss of identity which creates anxiety. While we may accept the logic that our debts (karma) will require us to take another body, there is no empirical evidence of such an occurrence. Also, if this was to be true, then the quantum of debt that may come up for reconciliation is an unknown. This sense of the unknown is a source of anxiety. This is why Sri Krishna encourages us to spend time preparing for the end in the Bhagavad-Geeta-chapter 8. Creation is a sacrifice – I am the seed of all creation. Any form of creation is a sacrifice. Something or someone has to give in order that creation may emerge. Seed in creation food is knowledge of what is to be prepared followed by sacrifice in the form of money, recipe, fire, preparation technique etc. Similarly, seed for writing a book or going on a journey starts with the need to make the journey. This is followed by sacrificing resources, time etc.  Seed in creation of a baby is the desire for a baby. Sacrifice starts with a mother having to carry the baby for over 9 months. Also, the birthing process itself, is very painful, that is a sacrifice also. How is time related to sacrifice? When Sri Krishna says that among reckoners, he is Time (verse 33), what does he mean? For example, when we are enjoying a movie or at a party, time moves very fast. Conversely, when we are awaiting results of an exam, or recovering from illness, every moment drags on interminably. So, clearly, time is a derived concept, it does not actually exist! What exists is consciousness (chitta), our cognition of time. It is a one-way street, when the moment goes, it is lost forever. But, to remain in the present, one needs to reach the state of sthithaprajnya (steady awareness) and to achieve it, sacrifice of the Self is essential. From Manusmriti: निमेषा दश चाष्टौ च काष्ठा त्रिंशत् तु ताः कला । त्रिंशत् कला मुहूर्तः स्यादहोरात्रं तु तावतः ॥ ६४ ॥ nimeṣā daśa cāṣṭau ca kāṣṭhā triṃśat tu tāḥ kalā | triṃśat kalā muhūrtaḥ syādahorātraṃ tu tāvataḥ || 64 || Ten and eight ‘nimeṣas’ (twinking of the eye) one ‘Kāṣṭhā’; thirty such (Kāṣṭhās) one ‘Kalā’; thirty ‘Kalās’ one ‘muhūrta’; and as many ‘muhūrtas’ one ‘Ahorātra’ (Day and Night). (64) अहोरात्रे विभजते सूर्यो मानुषदैविके ।  रात्रिः स्वप्नाय भूतानां चेष्टायै कर्मणामहः ॥ ६५ ॥ ahorātre vibhajate sūryo mānuṣadaivike | rātriḥ svapnāya bhūtānāṃ ceṣṭāyai karmaṇāmahaḥ || 65 || The Sun divides the ‘Day’ and ‘Night’ of Men and Gods; what is conducive to the repose of beings is ‘Night,’ and what is conducive to activity is ‘Day.’ (65) (credits: https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/manusmriti-with-the-commentary-of-medhatithi/d/doc145491.html) More evidence that time is a function of consciousness There are many repetitions in the same vein, but these are actually to emphasise Sri Krishna as the essence of yagna or sacrifice, from which comes effort or karma. School of Yoga posits views that may be contrary to accepted positions:  Krishna then says that he is the heart of everything. He is the beginning, middle and end. How is this possible? All activity emerges from desire. There is a desire to project ones thought, reflection or desire. This is called iccha-shakti (strength of desire). If the desire is strong, then the person sacrifices current state of self-worth to project his or her Soul (adhyatma). This is the will (sankalpa)! This projection is generally an outcome of prarabda-karma (debts that have come up for dissolution). This projection requires sacrifice of material resources. When there is a reaction to stimuli, karma is created (agami-karma). A new state is created and the person has to sacrifice old and dearly held positions for current state. This requires sacrifice of baggage, self-worth, delusions etc. This supports Sri Krishna’s assertion that he is yagna in every form, from the greatest to the smallest, from creation to maintenance and dissolution. School of Yoga explains the lesson learned in Chapter 10 This chapter is about free-will. Each of us wishes to be an apex occupier of the pyramid that we live in. However, the trip to the top is filled with sacrifice. However, this sacrifice has to be accompanied by awareness which increases one’s free-will so as to enable the person to understand dharma and the role of power in it. The Transliteration of The Bhagavad Geeta – Chapter 10 follows: The Sanskrit words are in red italics and meaning, before the words, are in black. Sri Krishna said – (1) Again, in honesty, hear my absolute word (bhuya-eva-shrnu-mem-paramam-vachaha), that to you to me who is beloved (yat-teham-preeyamahaya), I will declare for your wellbeing (vakshyam-hitakaamyaha). (2-3) All of wise and great rshis do not know my origin (na-me-viduh-sura-ganaha-prabhavam-na-maharshayaha) I am the beginning for deivas (aham-adi-hi-deivanam) and great rshis completely (maha-rshinaam-cha-sarvashaha). He who knows me as unborn, without beginning and as the Lord of the world (yo-maam-ajam-anadim-ca-vetti-loka-maheshwaram), he is undeluded of all mortals because all his blemishes are cleaned (asam-moodahah-sa-martyeshu-sarva-paapaihi-pramuchyate). (4-5) Logic, knowledge of the Self (buddhi-jnanam-asammohaha), non-illusion-forgiveness, truth, self-restraint, calmness (kshama-satyam-gamaha-shamaha), grief, birth, non-existence, and fear and even fearlessness (sikkham-dukkham-bhavo-abhaavah-bhavam-cha-abhayam-cha). Non-violence, treating everyone equally, satisfaction, austerity, donation, fame, infamy (ahimsa-samatha-tushti-tapo-daanam-yash-ayahaha), these different sentiments in beings arise from me alone (bhavanti-bhaava-bhootanam-math-eva-prthakvidhaaha). (6-8) The seven-ancient great rshis (maha-rshayaha-sapta-poorve), also the four Manus possessed cognitive intuition like me (chatvaro-manaah-thatha-mad-bhaava-manasa), from them these creatures in the world are descended (jaatha-yesham-loka-imaha-prajaha). Those who know the truth of my all-pervading union (yatam-vibhutim-yogam-cha-mam-yo-vethi-tattvaha), they become established in unshakable union, there is no doubt (soho-avikampena-yogena-yujjate-na-atra-samsayaha). I am the source of everything, everything evolves from me (aham-sarvasya-prabhavo-mataha-sarva-pravartate. Thus, endowed with understanding, the wise adore me sentimental-cognition or adore me (iti-matva-bhajante-maam-buddah-bhaavasmanvitaha = sentimental-cognition) (9) With consciousness on me (math-chitta-madath), the prana focussed on me, wisdom united with me, and mutually expressing about me they enjoy and are always satisfied prana-bodha-yanthaha-parasparam-katha-yanthaha-cha-maam-nithyam-tushyanti-cha-ramanthi-cha). (10-11) To those that are ever steadfast (tesham-satata-yuktayam) in their love filled worship (bhajantam-preeti-poorvakam), I give harmony of logic (dadami-buddhi-yogam) by which they come to me (tam-yena-maam-upayanti-te). Verily, out of compassion for them (tesham-eva-anukamparthakam), I destroy tamas of ignorance (aham-ajnyanajam-tamah-nashaya) existing inside their soul (atma-bhaavasyo) by the luminous lamp of knowledge (jnaandeepena-bhaasvata). (12-14) Arjuna said: Supreme creator, supreme state (param-brahma-param-dhaam), you are supreme sacred Purusha (pavitram-paramam-bhavaan-purusham), eternal, divine, primordial deity, unborn and all pervading (shashvatam-divyam-aadi-deivam-ajam-vibhum). They relate to you, all rishis, devarishis, Narada (ahuh-tvam-hrishayaha-sarve-de-va-hrishi-narada), also dark, pious Vyasa (asit-devala-Vyasa), and now please declare the truth to me (svayam-cha-eva-braveeshi-me). I think that all you are saying to me is correct, I think (sarvam-etat-hritam-manya-yan-maam-vadasi), truly neither deities nor danavas know you as manifestation of God (na-hi-te-bhagavan-vyaktim-viduhu-devah-na-daanavah). (15-16) Only you by yourself are yourself (you have created yourself) (swayam-eva-aatmana-aatmanam) knowest thou supreme soul (vettha-tvam-purushottama), creator of beings (bhoota-bhaavana), Lord of beings (bhooteshu), Diety of deities (deiva-deiva) Lord of the world (jagat-pate). Without reminder, to tell that you are venerable (vaktum-asheshena-arhasy), divine (divya), supreme soul (atma-vibootaya) your power is the reason for existence of these worlds (yabhi-vibhutibhihi-lokan-imaan-tvam-vyapya-thishtasi). (17-18) How can I know your Yoga (katham-vidyamaham-yogin-tvam) every meditating (pari-chintayam), how and what sentiment (kesu-kesu-cha-bhaaveshu) should I think of you (chintyaha-asi-bhagavn-maya). In detail again recount the nectal of this powerful harmonising of the soul (vistarena-aatmano-yogam-vibhutim), and I am not satisfied of hearing this nectar (cha-bhooyaha-kathaya-triptihim-shrinvataha-na-asti-me-amritam). Sri Krishna said: (19-21) Very well, to thee I shall reveal to you my true divine powerful Self (hanta-te-kathayishyami-divya-hi-aatma-vibhutyaha), in order of prominence though this is not the end of my detailed manifestation (pradhanyataha-na-asti-antaha-vistarasya-me). I am atma (aham-atma), embedded in all creation (sarva-bhootasha-astithaha), I am the beginning, middle and also the end of all creation (aham-adi-cha-madhyam-cha-bhootanam-anta-eva-cha). (21-23) Among the Adityas, I am Vishnu (adityanam-aham-vishnu), of lights I am the radiant Sun (jyotisam-aham-ravi-anshuman), I am Marichi of the maruts (marichihi-marutam-asmi), of the starts I am the moon (nakshatranam-aham-sasi). Of the Vedas, I am Sama (vedanam-sama-veda-asmi), of the Deivas, I am Vasava (deivanam-asmi-vasava), of sensory organs I am cognition (indriyanam-mana-cha-asmi) and of creation, I am consciousness (bhootanam-asmi-chetana). Of the Rudras, I am Shankara (rudranam-shankarasch-asmi), I am Vitesh (Kubera) of the protective Yakshasa (vitesho-yaksha-rakshasa-aam), of the Vasus I am Pavaka (vasunam-paavaka-cha-asmi) and I am Meru among mountains (meruhu-shikharinam-aham). (24-25) Among family and head priests, I am known as Brhaspati (purodhasam-cha-mukhya-maam-viddhi-brhaspatim), among warriors, I am Skanda (senani-nama-aham-skanda), among lakes, I am the sea (sarasam-aham-saagara). Among Maharishis I am Brghu (maharishinaam-brghuhu-aham) among words I am the single alphabet (giram-asmi-ekaksharam), among sacrifices, I the sacrifice of japa (yajnyanam-japa-yagnyo-asmi), among the immovable entities, I am the Himalayas (sthavaranam-himalayaha). (26-27) Among trees, I am ashwattha (ashwatthaha-sarva-vrikshanam) and of the Deivarishis, I am Narada (deiva-rishinam-cha-narada), of the Gandharvas I am Chittraratha (gandarvanam-chitraratha), of Siddhas I am Kapila muni (siddhanam-kapilo-minihi). I am Ucchaisravas among horses (Ucchaishravas-aam-ashvanam) know me to be born of nectar (viddhi-maam-amrito-bhavam), I am Airavat among king of elephants (airavatam-gajendranam), and among men I am the King (naranam-cha-naradhipam). (28-29) Of weapons, I am the thunderbolt (aaydhanam-aham-vajram), among cows I am Kamadhenu (dhenunam-asmi-kamadhuk) among projenators, I am Kamadeva (pra-janah-cha-asmi-kandarpaha) and of serpants I am Vasuki (sarpanam-asmi-vasuki). Of snakes I am Ananta (anantha-cha-asmi-naganam), among water bodies I am Varunah (varuno-yadasam-aham), of the manes I am Aaryaman (pitrunaam-aaryamanaa-cha-asmi) of the controllers I am Yama (yamaha-sanyamatam-aham).  (30-31) Among Deityas, I am Prahalada (Prahalada-cha-asmi-deityanam) and of the measurements, I am time (kalaha-kalayatham-aham), among animals I am the king of beasts (lion) (mruganam-cha-mrigendroho-aham) and of birds I am Vainteya (son of Vinita or Garuda) (vainteyascha-pakshinam). Among movers I am the wind (pavnaha-pavatam-asmi), of wielders of weapons I am Rama (shastra-bhrtam-aham), among fishes I am the crocodile (jhakshanam-makaras-cha-asmi) and of rivers I Jahnvi (Ganges). (32-33) Of nature, I am the beginning, middle and end exclusively (sargaanam-aadi-antas-cha-madhyam-che-eva-aham), of knowledge the primordial Self (adhyatma-vidya-vidyanam) argument among discussion am I (vadaha-pravadatam-aham). Among alphabets I am “Akaara” (akharanam-akaaro-asmi) and duality in compounds (dvandvaha-samasikasya-cha), truly I am imperishible (aham-eva-akshayaha), the universal dispenser of time (kaalo-dhaata-aham-vishwatomukha). (34-35) And, I am all devouring death (mrtyuhu-sarvahara-cha-aham), I am prosperity and planning (udbhavashch-bhavishyatam), I am the feminine qualities of fame, prosperity, speech, memory, intelligence, firmness and forgiveness (keertihi-shree-vaq-cha-nareenaam-smrtih-medha-dhritih-kshama). I am Brhatsama also of Sama Veda (brhatsama-thatha-samnam), I am Gayatri among meters (gayatri-chhandasam-aham), I am Margasirisha among months (masanam-maargasheersha-aham) among seasons, the flowering season (rtoonam-kusumakaraha). (36-37) I am gambling of the fraudulent (dhyutam-chalatam-aham), the vital power of the glorious (tejas-tejasvinam-aham), I am victory (jaya-asmi), I am effort (vyavasayo-asmi), I am harmony in the harmonious (sattvam-sattvatam-aham). Of the Vrishnis I am Vasudeva (vrhninam-vaasudevo-asmi), among the Pandavas I am Dhananjaya (pandavanam-dhananjayaha), also of the sages I am Vyasa (muneenam-api-aham-vyasaha), of the poets I am Ushana the poet (kaveenam-ushana-kavihi). (38-39) Of punishers, I am the stick (dando-damayatam-asmi), I am prudence among the ambitious (neeti-asmi-jigeeshatam), I am silence among secrets (mounam-cha-eva-asmi-guhyanam), I am knowledge among the wise (jnanam-jnanavatam-aham). I am also that seed of all creation (yat-cha-api-sarva-bhootanam-bheejam), without which creation may neither move not stay still (na-tat-asti-vina-yat-syam-bhoota-characharam). (40-42) There is no end to my divinity and power (na-anyata-asti-mama-divyanam-vibhooteenam). Indeed, I have declared a brief statement of particular aspects that cover my overall power (esha-tu-uddeshataha-proktah-vibhooteh-vistaraha-maya). Wherever there is glory, harmony, prosperity or power (tad-vibhootimat-sattvam-shreemat-urjitam-eva-va), know that, that is a manifestation of my splendour only (tat-eva-avagaccha-tvam-mama-teja-amsha-sambhavam). In fact, what use is this multiple knowledge to thee (athva-bahoona-kim-jnyatenatava), I support existence of this world with a single part of myself (vishtabhya-aham-idam-kritsam-ekanshena-sthithaha-jagat). [...] Read more...
Pain Management using Yoga Therapy
Pain Management using Yoga TherapyPain Management using Yoga Therapy Acknowledgement – School of Yoga is deeply grateful to late Dr. V. Sivaraman for his collaboration of pain management using Yoga therapy. Introduction to Pain Pain is caused by an unpleasant stimulus. Consequently, it becomes a stressor which destabilises homeostasis. As a result, the body’s adoptive response mechanism initiates physiological responses to meet the threat. However, prolonged exposure to the lifesaving chemicals triggered by the response can result in harmful side effects. Importantly, though pain is noxious and unpleasant, it is a powerful protective force. Pain sends a signal that the body needs protection and healing. But, if correction does not occur, or the pain persists, the pain may become chronic. Therefore, pain must be contained or relieved. Effect of Pain Cardiovascular – increased heart rate, blood pressure, need for oxygen, potential water retention resulting in fluid overload. Respiratory – increased respiratory rate, shallow breathing resulting in increased risk of infection. Immune/ endocrine system – activation of the HPA (Hypothalamus/ Pituitary/ Adrenal) axis, increased cortisol and glucose production. Gastro-intestinal & kidneys – reduced motility and emptying (reduced peristalsis) or constipation and increased urge to urinate. Musculo-skeletal – bunching of muscles at the point of pain, shaking and shivering Nerves / psychological – depression, anxiety and poor concentration. Role of the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). The body’s response to pain is centered around the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). The SNS reaction to pain is similar to fear and invokes a “fight or flight” response. To start with, the amygdala is activated by the pain. Immediately, the amygdala drives the hypothalamus to produce corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH). Next, this stimulus is transmitted to the pituitary gland which activates the Sympathetic Nervous System to release the production of adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH). Finally, the SNS also stimulates the adrenal medulla to release noradrenaline, serotonin and endogenous opioids into the dorsal horn. As a result, there is stimulation of the heart and lungs, resulting in increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. Consequently, there is increased blood supply to the musculo-skeletal system. This also results in reduced supply to the digestive system resulting in reduced secretion of digestive enzymes and peristaltic action. This results in a reduced ability to digest food, nausea, vomiting and constipation. The side effects of the these drugs are, Brain: Altered balance between limbic and frontal cortex control of micturition. Heart: Increased heart rate, contractility and speed of conduction resulting in increased heart rate and blood pressure. Blood flow: Reduced blood flow to skin. Also, there is dilation of blood vessels going to the muscles. Kidneys: Reduced blood flow to kidneys (Increased glomuerular filteration rate). Also, these is increased production of antidiuretic hormone (leading to water retention), increased production of renin and increased retention of sodium. Stomach: Reduced peristalsis leading to reduced digestion, nausea and constipation. Liver / pancreas: Increased metabolic rate – conversion of glycogen to glucose (to provide energy for “fight or flight” response), reduced insulin production (increased blood glucose). Musculo-skeletal system: Shaking and shivering. Teeth chattering can occur. The level of cortisol in the blood provides a feedback mechanism to the hypothalamus, thereby preventing over-release. Under normal circumstances, this mechanism is effective in reducing pain and preventing inflammatory response from getting out of control. However, long term stress and pain results in continuous production of cortisol which leads to resistance in the glucocorticoid receptors and impairs feedback to the hypothalamus. Consequently, cortisol slowly loses its ability to keep inflammation under control. Also, higher levels of inflammatory mediators can lead to depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. Pain – implications, Pain induces a variety of interrelated changes in several body systems. During the critical phase, these interventions are lifesaving and helpful in containing and relieving pain. However, over time, these responses result in potentially harmful side-effects, especially in patients whose reserves are already low. Normally, a person in extreme pain will display elevated heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. Also, they may shiver; have fever, goose bumps and pale skin. However, in case of chronic pain, these symptoms might not be exhibited unless the patient’s condition deteriorates. Hence, such indicators are often misleading and unreliable. So, it is important that the patient is constantly assessed for pain through various validated tools. This will help in effective pain management. Very acute and chronic pain is called fibromyalgia. Immune system, All damage to tissue triggers the immune system which is based on the production of adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH). This results in blood vessel dilation and permeability to facilitate translocation of immune cells to the point of injury. Eventually, the quickened permeation also results in reduced oxygen content in the blood stream and this can have long term impact on the overall physiological health of the person. Effect of pain on mood, Pain triggers an emotional response orchestrated by the various regions of the cortex – the amygdala, hypothalamus, brain stem and modulatory system. Often, a high level of pain induces strong emotions such as fear or intense anxiety. Consequently, this leads to high state of arousal which can result in reduced sensitivity to pain. Similarly, a low or moderate state of arousal could lead to a lowered sensitivity to pain, making pain more easily felt. Therefore, assessment of mood is very important for the right treatment and support to be given. Some hormones which allow the body to manage pain; Cortisol Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates many processes within the body, from metabolism to control of salt and water balance which affects blood pressure. Also, it plays an important role in the body’s response to pain. Pain induces the Sympathetic Nervous System to release the production of adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH). Unfortunately, chronic pain can lead to continuously elevated levels of cortisol and adrenal. Consequently, this can lead to adrenal fatigue. This includes, inability to get up in the morning, handle stress, craving for salty food, overuse of stimulants such as coffee and a weak immune system. Growth Hormone (GH) Growth Hormone is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. This hormone affects cellular activity and metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Additionally, pain prompts the pituitary gland to increase secretion of GH. Excessive GH results in increased blood glucose level and insulin resistance. However, a deficiency of GH can cause muscle weakness and fatigue. Therefore, GH is an important element in pain management. Cytokines Cytokines are produced locally by peripheral cells local to the injury and by cells in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and brain. Immediately after an injury, sensory nerve endings get sensitised and stimulate production of noxious mediators. Similarly, they stimulate production of pain neurotransmitters. Finally, there is increased production of receptors on the neurons to increase sensitivity. Simultaneously, cell activity is reduced. So, the increased sensitivity results in amplification of pain, triggering the HPA axis and causing fever. Blocking the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines can reduce pain. Application of cold compress locally may reduce production of cytokines. Prostaglandin This hormone like substance participates in a wide range of body functions such as contraction and relaxation of muscles, dilation and constriction of blood vessels, blood pressure and modulation of inflammation. Generally, prostaglandins are not secreted by any gland, but manufactured at the site where tissue is damaged or infected. Here, they cause inflammation, fever and pain as a part of the healing process. High levels of prostaglandins can cause pain, cramps, and muscle distress. So, this hormone needs to be controlled and managed. Methadone Methadone is a synthetic analgesic that causes sedation and relaxation. Additionally, methadone is also used in treating narcotic addiction. Slowly, it is being accepted as a drug for treating cancer pain. However, it is possible to supplement methadone by making the dietary changes as given in the solution section below. Hormones which can naturally help in managing pain. The quartet of happiness: Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins are responsible for our happiness and the best part is that we can control their secretion. So, increasing the production of these hormones in the body, it is possible to improve our ability to manage pain. Oxytocin Oxytocin is secreted by the hypothalamus. It is released when people bond socially or get physically intimate with each other. In fact, oxytocin plays a critical role in managing cardiac and kidney homeostasis. Also, oxytocin induces sleep and has a tranquilising and calming effect on us. Consequently, this counters the effect of steroids which are secreted as a side effect of pain. Endorphins Endorphins are chemicals produced naturally by the body to fight pain. They are released when we get hurt or in any stress situation, but also during exercise, laughter or sex. Additionally, endorphins, while reducing the sensation of pain, increase the feeling of euphoria. Also, these chemicals boost the immune system when activated. In fact, endorphins are released after any aerobic exercise and last for up to 24 hours. Importantly, endorphins are also released by acupuncture, massage, hot bath etc. Dopamine and Serotonin Dopamine and Serotonin are neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals between to other nerve cells and regulate the countless functions performed by the body, from sleep to metabolism. Dopamine helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Thus, dopamine drives motivation and helps regulate movement and emotional responses. Consequently, it is released during pleasure seeking situations such as food, sex etc. The pleasure we experience after successful conclusion of any activity is the rush of dopamine. Conversely, deficiency of dopamine in the brain can result in movements becoming delayed and uncoordinated. In fact, the loss of motivation, stress and trauma could be on account of low levels of dopamine. Serotonin is also a neurotransmitter. It triggers moods such as anxiety in all areas, including OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Other effects of Dopamine and Serotonin The difference between dopamine and serotonin is that dopamine affects motivation while serotonin affects mood. Also, both dopamine and serotonin affect digestion. Dopamine affects the release of insulin from our pancreas and peristalsis. Additionally, dopamine has a protective effect on the mucosal layer in the gastrointestinal tract. 95% of our body’s serotonin is found in our gut. In fact, serotonin is released when food enters the small intestine where it helps in creating peristalsis. So, low serotonin can result in constipation. Sleep – Sleep is controlled by the pineal gland which produces melatonin. Dopamine induces wakefulness and reduces production of melatonin. However, serotonin has a deeper impact. Firstly, induces the pineal gland to produce melatonin. Also, it affects wakefulness and prevents REM (rapid eye movement). Consequently, this affects management of pain. So, dopamine and serotonin are two neurotransmitters which impact the management of pain by affecting the brain and gut. Consequently, an imbalance will affect mental health, digestion and sleep. Importantly, seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin, nuts such as almonds and walnuts and herbs such as ginseng, fenugreek or peppermint increase dopamine levels. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) GABA is a chemical in the brain which helps regulate nerve activity. So, it is found to be reduced in people with mood and anxiety issues. Asana and pranayama such as kapalabhati can fire up the thalamus and increase levels of GABA. Also, magnesium, which iis found in bananas, increases GABA and reduces stress and anxiety. Importantly, a diet which includes grains, leafy vegetables, dark chocolate etc can increase levels of GABA. Solutions to Pain It is obvious that chronic pain management requires lifestyle change. However, natural pain management cannot replace medical intervention. However, while natural remedies may not reduce pain, they will increase the body’s ability to manage pain. Also, natural remedies will increase the body’s resilience and increase the person’s stamina or reserves to overcome the ailment. Additionally, these remedies will help in purging the body of the toxins created by pain and pain management drugs. Pain management using diet. Before starting any of these remedies, it is recommended that the practitioner discusses the remedy with his or her physician. Include foods with low saturated fats such as cottage cheese, almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate etc. Good fats reduce the impact of Growth Hormone (GH). Increase intake of food rich in omega 3’s such as walnuts, flax and pumpkin seeds. This is good form managing cytokines. Reduce sugar and salt intake Eat foods rich in tyrosine (protein rich diet) which is a building block of dopamine. This includes, bananas, almonds, avocados, cottage cheese (paneer), curds/ yogurt, beans/ lentils, soy/ tofu, eggs, fish and chicken. Also, dark chocolate increases production of tyrosine and phenylaline. Go organic. This reduces the number of toxins that the organs need to process. Also, natural grains increase insulin levels which in turn result in production of serotonin. Increase vegetable/ nuts/ grains/ fruit content – vegetables and beans have all the required minerals and vitamins. Also, they increase fibre content – these are beans, dark greens such as spinach, broccoli, red cabbage, herbs such as ginger and fruits such as papaya, oranges and cantaloupe. Meat – avoid red meats. If you must eat meat, try to choose boiled, baked, broiled or steamed white meat and fish. While red meats offer an easy source of protein, they also have side effects such as increased bad cholesterol, lower fibre levels etc. Chocolate increases release of endorphins and reduces growth hormone. Pain management using exercise and other aspects. Exercise – Cortisol control can be done by 20-30 minutes of regular exercise such as walking, biking etc. which leeches cortisol from the blood stream. Yoga, pranayama and meditation impact anxiety and naturally reduce generation of cortisol. Also, during exercise, the brain releases serotonin, endorphins and dopamine which help naturally control pain. Meditate for 15 minutes. Meditation reduces anxiety. So, this reduces the secretion of cortisol. Also, it increases the level of positivity, thus ensuring increased ability to manage pain. Laughter and group therapy reduces cortisol levels and increases releases of dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. So, networking and talking to people helps manage pain. Sex increases the feeling of being wanted and increases levels of oxytocin and endorphins. Sleep – sleep allows the body to rebuild itself. Music – music has been found to reduce stress and increase the feeling of wellbeing. Massage – massage is an effective tool to increase blood circulation to the affected parts of the body. Also, they have a relaxing effect on the muscles, leading to reduction in cortisol levels. Yoga Solutions to Pain It is assumed that a person in chronic pain will be suffering from a debilitating illness. So, the ability to perform exercise may be limited. Pain management may be divided into the following areas; Increased resistance to air and water infection by strengthening the adenoids, thyroid and the pharynx. Practice sundara-viparītakaraṇi and any form of prāṇāyāma. Also, if possible, and health permitting, practice sarvāngāsana, matsyāsana, bhramarī, ujjeyī and bhastrikā prāṇāyāma are useful. Increasing blood flow to the brain, especially the pituitary/ hypothalamus area. Sundara-viparītakaraṇi will help. If possible, the person may include śirasāsana, sarvāngāsana, matsyāsana, and ujjeyī prāṇāyāma. Breathing is a psychosomatic process which affects the stress levels in the body. Also, prāṇāyāma can counteract the reduction in oxygen levels in the blood due to adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH).  Hence, it is important to ensure breathing is deep, regular and rhythmic to ensure that stress is reduced to bring back homeostasis. Nāḍī-śuddhi prāṇāyāma and meditation (dhyāna) must be practiced. It is important that the practitioner also keep a clean digestive system as it affects the breathing cycle. Pavanamuktāsana, śalabhāsana and dhanurāsana should be practiced if possible. The plan. Beginner – 3 months – all āsana to be performed slowly and after OK from doctor. Intermediate – 3 months – all āsana to be performed only after improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 30 mins. Final – all āsana to be performed only after substantial improvement is detected and after OK from doctor. Estimated time – 45 mins. Āsana Beginner Intermediate Final No Time frame 3 months 3 months thereafter 1 Padmāsana 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes 2 Sukhāsana 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 Trikonāsana 2 2 2 4 Pādahastāsana 2 2 2 5 Tadāsana 2 3 3 6 Majriāsana 2 2 3 7 Makarāsana 2 2 3 8 Adho-mukha-śvānāsana 2 3 3 9 Sethubandhāsana 2 3 3 10 Arda-halāsana 2 3 4 11 Naukāsana 1 2 3 12 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi (essential) 3 x 2 mts 5 x 2 mts 15 minutes 13 Sarvāngāsana (if possible) 3 minutes 5 minutes 10 minutes 14 Matsyāsana (if possible) – – 1 x 10 counts 15 Arda-matsyendrāsana 1 x 10 counts 2 x 10 counts 2 x 10 counts 16 Nāḍī-śuddhi– prāṇāyāma  (important) 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 5 x 2 cycles 17 Śavāsana 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 18 Meditation – dhyāna (sit in silence and focus on the breath – very important) 10 minutes 15 minutes 20 minutes [...] Read more...
Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 11 (Vishwaroopadarshana)
Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 11 (Vishwaroopadarshana)Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 11 – Vishwaroopadarshana-Yoga (Infinite form visibility Yoga) School of Yoga explains Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 11 – Arjuna said – I’m now convinced about your origin and capabilities and wish to see you in the form you spoke about. Therefore, if you think I have the capability, show me. Sri Krishna said:  OK. Take a look. Behold the Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Aswins, Maruts and other marvels. Also, see the dynamic and static universe integral to my being. But, for this, I have to give you special vision capability. Saying this, Sri Krishna showed him his divine form, with many mouths and eyes, marvellous sights, divine ornaments and weapons. He was wearing heavenly garlands, anointed with celestial perfumes – all resplendent and boundless with faces on all sides. Arjuna saw many universes with its divisions integrated into one. Hair on end, an amazed Arjuna spoke to Sri Krishna with joined palms. I see all the Gods in your body and hosts of all types of beings, Brahma, all the Rshis, and celestial serpents. You are infinite on all sides, with countless arms, stomachs, mouths and eyes. In fact, I cannot see your beginning, middle or end. I see you wearing a crown, with a club and discuss. In fact, radiance blazes everywhere, hard to look at, all round dazzling like a flaming fire or sun and immeasurable. You are imperishable, the supreme being, the treasure-house of the universe, the imperishable guardian of eternal dharma, the ancient Purusha. Also, you are without beginning, middle or end; infinite in power, of infinite reach, the suns and moons being your eyes, the sacrificial fire is your mouth, heating the universe with your radiance. The space between heaven and earth in all quarters are filled by you, everyone is trembling with fear. Also, hosts of deivas enter into you, great rshis and siddhas pronounce “May it be well”. The Rudras, Adityas, Vasus, Sadhyas, Viswas, Asvins, Maruts, Ushampas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras, Siddhas all gaze at you in amazement. Consequently, seeing your immeasurable form with so many mouths eyes, arms, thighs and feet, with many stomachs and tusks, the worlds are terror-struck as I am. When I see you touching the sky, blazing in colours, with mouth wide open and fiery eyes, my heart trembles in fear, not knowing the four quarters, finding neither courage nor peace. Also, all the sons of Dhratarashtra with hosts of kings, Bhishma, Drona, Sutaptra along with our warrior chiefs enter hurrying into your mouth, terrible with tusks and fearful to look at. In fact, some are sticking in the gaps between the teeth with their heads crushed to powder. In truth, they rush into your flaming mouths like torrents of river rushing into an ocean or moths rushing into a blazing fire to their destruction. Devouring everything, you lick your lips. Your rays fill the world with your radiance, so fierce is your form. As a result of this vision, I bow to you, have mercy. I desire to know you; I know not your purpose. Sri Krishna said: I am the world destroying Time, engaged in wiping out the world. In fact, even without you, the hostile armies will not survive. So, stop worrying, arise and get fame. Conquer your enemies and get fame. In fact, I have already killed them, you are merely the instrument.  Slay Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna and others who are already doomed by me. Sanjaya said: Having heard Sri Krishna, Arjuna, with joined palms, trembling, prostrating, addressed Sri Krishna in a voice chocked and overwhelmed with fear. It is true, Oh Sri Krishna, the world sings your praises, the evil flee while the Siddhas bow to you. And why should they not, you are the primal cause of Brahma, you are imperishable, the being and non being, that which is supreme, the ancient Purusha, the knower and knowable, and the supreme abode. You pervade this Universe. You are Vayu, Agni, Varuna, Moon, Prajapati and the ancestor. Salutations to you a thousand times and again, before and after, on all sides. You are all. If I have been casual with you, it is from ignorance. Please forgive me if I have insulted you without knowing your greatness. You are the father of this moving and static world, the greatest Guru, for none can excel you. So, I prostrate before you, forgive me. Bear with me as a father to a son, friend to a friend and a lover with his beloved. I rejoice at your universal form, but I am afraid and request you to show me that form which I can relate to, with mace and discuss in hand. Sri Krishna said: You have been privileged to see something which no study, sacrifice, gifts or rituals can achieve. Don’t be afraid, I will revert to my original form. Sanjaya said: With this, Sri Krishna went back to his original form. Arjuna said: I feel calmer, seeing you in Human form. Sri Krishna said: It’s not easy to see this form, but by unswerving devotion as devotee can see this reality. He who works from me, accepts me as Supreme, is devoted to me, free from attachment and hatred to any being. School of Yoga explains the Bhagavad-Geeta – chapter 11: the saankhya of Mahat (the conceptual base of overall creation) Everything comes from the Source/ Truth/ Origin or Brahman. This is a state of eternal, infinite, unchanging peace. The Brahman experiences existential anxiety (do I exist?) and desires self-expression (I want to see myself). Brahman sacrifices itself to create itself. This is primordial sacrifice adiyagna (Sri Krishna). From Brahman, nir-guna-Brahman (Brahman without attributes) and sa-guna-Brahman (Brahman with attributes or Eeshwara or Supreme Soul – Paramatma). From sa-guna-Brahman or Eeshwara emerge Purusha (primordial Identity, Self or experiencer) and Prakriti (primordial manifestation or energy). Prakriti and Purusha weave with each other to create primordial karma (action). From karma (action), guna (attributes) emerges. Gunas are a weave of Purusha and Prakriti. When Purusha (experiencer) is ascendant over Prakriti (manifestation), it is called tamas (delusion). Similarly, when Prakriti is ascendant over Purusha, the attribute is called rajas (passion or flow) and finally, when Purusha and Prakriti are in balance, this is called sattva (harmony or balance). Purusha and Prakriti continue weaving to create Hiranyagarbha (golden egg) or BrahmaaNda (Brahma’s egg or Cosmos) the universe that houses all karma.  Since karma creates transactions and bonds, these result in creation of multiple identities/ souls or atma of varying complexities. The primordial Identity, which is the identity of Hiranyagarbha is called Vishnu. Vishnu is the repository of maya (farce). What Arjuna saw was Hiranyagarbha. Since, Sri Krishna is adiyagna, this would have been natural and easy. Therefore, the details that Arjuna are no surprise, because this is what one would see in BrahmaaNda or Hiranyagarbha (golden egg or Cosmos). School of Yoga explains the architecture of the Cosmos (BrahmaaNda or Hiranyagarbha): It would be appropriate to detail the various worlds / realms that are supposed to exist in the Indian cosmic system (BrahmaaNda or Hiranyagarbha) (reference – https://www.ganeshaspeaks.com/predictions/astrology/14-lokas-of-existence-in-hindu-mythology/) and (http://ancientvoice.wikidot.com/article:the-fourteen-worlds). This also forms part of the BrahmaaNda-Purana, Vishnu-Purana and Bhagavad-Purana (2.5).  There are 14 regions of existence or loka. according to neelamata-puraaNa. Seven are considered vyahritis or oordhva-loka (mystical utterances of the seven regions) and remaining seven are considered paatala-loka (lower regions); The seven vyahritis (mystical regions) are Satya-loka (Region of Truth) – This is the region of Truth, where there is no death. Tapah-loka (Region of Austerity) – This is the region which comes out of austerity. This region is inhabited by Vaibharaajas and cannot be consumed by fire. Jana-loka (jana means people) – This is considered to be the region inhibited by the sons of Brahma such as Sanandana reside.  Mahar-loka (region of the maharishees) – This is a region beyond dhruva and the region of the maharishees. This may also mean the Milky Way. Suvar-loka (vishnu-puraaNa Ch. 7) – region beyond bhuvar-loka, considered to be beyond the Sun up until dhruva (Pole star) which is supposed to be ruled by Indra and his deivas. This may include the entire Solar system. It has 9 orbits (mandala) called dhruva-mandala, sani-mandala (Saturn), brhaspati-mandala (Jupiter), angaaraka-mandala (Mars), sukra-mandala (Venus), budha-mandala (Mercury), nakshatra-mandala (Constellation), chandra-mandala (Moon), surya-mandala (Sun).  Bhuvar-loka (region of energy) – This is also known as (dyu-loka or jyotir-loka), this is the region of existence where energy predominates and there is no matter (this may also be equated with the region where earth’s magnetic field exists). Vishnu-puraaNa chapter 7 says that it is the space between Earth and the Sun, where Siddhas move.  Bhu-loka (region of existence) – This is plane of existence of all humans as we know it. It consists of a central land mass (jambudveepa) surrounded by six other land masses called Plaksha, Saalmala, Kusa, Krauncha, Saaka and Pushkara.  This area consists of mountains, oceans, rivers etc.   Paataala-loka or bila-svargaa (lower regions of existence) comprises: Atala-loka – Region ruled by Bala, who with his mystical powers has created 3 tyes of women in a yawn; svairini – self-willed, who like to marry men from their own group, kaamini – lustful, who marry men from any group and punchashalees, who keep changing partners. Vitala-loka – Region ruled by hara-bhava, where gold called hataka is created Sutala-loka – Region created by Vishwakarman, ruled by Bali Chakravarti. Talatala-loka – Region ruled by Maaya, a demon-architect skilled in sorcery, who created the magical city of Tripura. Mahatala-loka – Region of the naagas (many hooded serpents), sons of kadru (called krodhavadsha), Kuhaka, Takshaka, Kaliya and Sushena along with their families. Rasatala-loka – Region at the sole of the feet of Vishnu where danavaas and daityas reside Paataala-loka – Region of Vaasuki, who is the snake that adorns Siva. Comments on BrahmaaNda or Hiranyagarbha – The etymology of the two Sanskrit words Vishnu and Brahma are as follows: Vishnu (Vis) means that which expands, thus corresponding to an expanding universe or increasing entropy in any system. Brahma (Brh) means anything that is big or expanded, aNda means egg. This corresponds to BrahmaaNda or Brahma’s egg. Decoding the various realms (loka). It is clear