Saturday, 26 May 2012

Yoga What it is and What it is not :

Yoga as concentration rather than union.

"The two important features of Yoga to be noted are (i) that there is a suppression at will, of the modifications of the mind and (ii) that it is not casual but has been developed into a habit through constant practice, not for gaining a personal end, but in the spirit of renunciation". p xvii


Ramaswami recommended, Samkhya master, Swami Hariharananda Aranya's commentary on the Yoga Sutras.


Nicely laid out, very readable and smart, constant Ahhhhh factor. Have a look at the Amazon link above. The layout tends to be the Sutra and Vyasas' commentary in Sanskrit, the English translations with note indicators of both followed by Aranya's commentary. 

(1869-1947) spent six years of his early monastic life in utter seclusion in the caves of Barabar Hills, Bihar, India. His possessions were the barest  minimum, even for a Sannyasin. He devoted the whole time to gain the mastery over his mind, which is Yoga. Having attained his goal, he returned to the world of  men. Continuing the secluded and austere lifestyle and intense spiritual practice he began disseminating  the message of Samkhya-yoga through books in Bengali and Sanskrit. Emanating from his own experience it was unique, logical and penetrating Not only did he delineate the path of Yoga, he inspired and guided seekers to tread it. In April 1947, his body frail from age and years of penance started becoming a burden; he saw the signal and at once decided against continuing further. The end came peacefully, a fitting finale to a great and noble life.



This from the introduction...




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googling the Author I found this about the Samkhya math he founded


Established in 1927-28 by Samkhya-yogacharya Swami Hariharananda Aranya. The founder came from an educated wealthy zamindar family in Bengal. In his student days, he felt the urge to renounce the world and don the robe of a sannyasin. In his search he met many spiritual adepts but was not fully satisfied until he chanced upon a copy of an ancient text on Samkhya-yoga in a library. It resulted in his leaving the home, taking the vow of a sannyasin and becoming a mendicant. 

Acharya Swamiji passed his early monastic life (1892-1898) in the caves of Barabar hills in Bihar where his earthly resources consisted of a blanket, a thick cotton shirt, a single piece of dhoti, a napkin and a wooden kamandulu (water pot). A devout and generous villager from two miles from the cave provided Swamiji with the means of his subsistence, which was brought to him once every noon. In absence of utensils, that frugal meal was deposited on a black stone and sparkling water from nearby mountain springs satisfied his thirst. He devoted the whole time to gain mastery over his mind, which is Yoga.

Having attained his goal, he returned to the world of men. He continued the same secluded austere lifestyle and intense spiritual practice in places like Tribeni in Hoogly district in West Bengal, Varanasi, Hardwar, Rishikesh and in other places in the Himalayas and finally decided to settle down at Madhupur, Jharkhand (formerly Bihar). He had already began disseminating the message of Samkhya-yoga through books in Bengali and Sanskrit. Emanating from his own experience it was unique, logical and penetrating. 

Attracted by his unique personality some genuine seekers after truth found him out in the small town of Madhupur and one of them volunteered to build a suitable house containing an artificial cave as the permanent home of the Master. Thus did Kapil Math came into existence. First a dwelling, and an artificial cave with it's one and only entrance permanently blocked, where the Master spent the rest of his life. The Math was built adjacent to the 'cave' to house his followers who responded to his call for accepting Samkhya-yoga as the only aim in their lives.


To culture Nirvana Dharma in the light of Samkhya, Yoga and cognate philosophies.
 
To help persons to attain spiritual advancement.
 
To educate and train persons in Nirvana Dharma.
 
To publish books on Samkhya, Yoga and cognate philosophies and to sell them or make free distribution thereof and to collect and preserve publications and manuscripts bearing on such subjects and to find and maintain a library of suitable books.
 
To educate and train up its monastic members and to provide them with food and shelter, if possible.
 
To perform acts of charity.
 
To diffuse philosophical and ethical knowledge.
 
To incorporate any institution, society or association having objects similar to those of Kapil Math, Madhupur.
 
To do all other such things as an incidental or conductive to attainment of the above or any of them.



Some interesting looking books here from the Kapil math


4 comments:

  1. nice job with this post! very illuminating.

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  2. This is music to my ears as my current sahaj marg meditation practice is based on the Raja yoga tradition and its principles are identical to what the Swamy is describing. For e.g., the objective of the practice is nothing less than the union with the divine and you remind yourself of that goal daily. The object of meditation is very subtle , a mere supposition of diving light in the heart- no rituals, mantras, light or sound. The two important features, suppression at will of the fluctuations of mind and developing a feeling of non-attachment are very achievable with a daily meditation practice.

    Although ashtanga is described popularly as a moving meditation, in over a decade of practice, I never felt that I was making progress in that aspect during practice. No doubt, the physical practice itself drove me more and more towards spirituality, I always felt like there was something that I was missing. Now with the meditation practice along with the physical ashtanga practice, I feel like I have found perfection. The popular ashtanga maxim – before practice the theory is useless and after practice, the theory is obvious, is pertinent here as well.

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  3. It's great! Thank you:) have ordered his book just now. Such a treasure it is.
    P.S. Thanks for your vast contributions to the cyber-shala!:)

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  4. Thanks anon 1 & 2

    Not sure about the 'union' aspect in Aranya's, seems to be more about the revealing of purusha rather than a joining with but I've only just started the book and it seems a fine distinction. For me the concentration is enough to be going on with where that ultimately leads is something I put to one side, simpler that way for me.

    But yes, i Know what you mean re Ashtanga as moving meditation. It is an excellent concentration practice but there's still too much going on and it strikes me as absurd to suggest it's a substitute for just sitting and focussing on one pointedness, same goes for pranayama ( and I love Pranayama, asana too).

    I like in this article how he's so clear, 'X is not yoga, Y is not Yoga, Z is not yoga...this and only this is yoga' i.e. the wilful stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.

    Like you the physical practice drew me into a deeper mediation practice, there was, I think, a casualness to my Vipassana/mindfulness practice, Ashtanga is powerful in that way an excellent discipline, just wish they encouraged exploring the other limbs sooner to counter the asana madness that develops. Seems to make more sense to direct the practitioner into pranayama for example once they have a stable Primary rather than obsessing about the next series or posture, might put things into context before...but then I can't talk, had my own dose of asana madness.

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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta