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Friday, 30 September 2011

SECOND EDITION of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book now available for download

Available for FREE download

I've just uploaded the 2nd Edition of my Vinyasa Krama Practice book, this is the edition with all the sequences broken up into individual subroutines. It's a big file so I'm keeping the 1st edition with just the full sequences up there in case anyone wants to download that section only.

This is still very much a work in progress. It's taken forever to edit the subroutines so for the moment there's no accompanying notes although I have added some basic practice notes at the beginning of the book.

To stress again, this is NO substitute for Ramaswami's The complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga which goes into detail of breathing and transitions for each and every posture. This is just a 'mat book', a hopefully easier, quick viewing reminder of the sequences and subroutines.

For even more detail I highly recommend Ramaswami's other books, Yoga for the Three stages of Life and Yoga Beneath the Surface written with David Hurwitz.

I thought it would be a good idea to work through all the subroutines in my evening practice over the next month, couple of subroutines at a time then post them on the Vinyasa karma blog along with a couple of notes which I'll then add to the book at the end of the month. Gives an opportunity for questions and working out what would and wouldn't be so useful.

I also want to expand the pranayama and meditation sections, hopefully next month.

So what's New?

Here's the contents page to Part 2

Vinyasa Krama Subroutines
Videos at

On your feet subroutines
hasta vinyasas (arm movements)
parsva bhangis (side poses)
uttanasana (forward bend)
ardha utkatasana (half squat)
utkatasana (full squat)
malasana (golden belt) pasasana ( garland)
surya namaskara (sun salutation with mantra)

Triangle Subroutines
uttita trikonasana (simple side stretch)
parivritta trikonasana (twisting movements)
uttita parsvakonasana (side stretch)
parsva konasana (twisting movement)
virabhadrasana (warrior)
prasarita padottanasana (spread feet stretch)

On One leg Subroutines
bhagiratasana (named after sage)
vrikshasana (tree pose)
standing marichi 
uttita padangushtasana (stretched leg-arm)
virabharasana (warrior)
durvasasana (after sage)
natarajasana (dancing shiva)

Asymmetric Seated Subroutines
dandasana (staff pose)
marichyasana (after sage)
ardha padmasana (half lotus)
mahamudra (great seal)
akarnadhanurasana (archer) /krauchasana (heron)
ekapadasirsasana (leg behind head)
triyangmukha (bent back leg)
marichyasana (advanced)
bharadwajasana (sage) and Mahabandha (great lock)
matyendrasana (half and full)

Seated Posterior Subroutines
paschimatanasana (posterior stretch)
kurmasana (turtle and turtle in shell)
purvatanasana (anterior side stretch)
chatushpadapeetam (table pose)
navasana (boat) pashimpotasana (upward looking)
upavishta konasana (seated angle)
baddhakonasana and other seated postures

Bow Pose Subroutines
bow (lead in)
makrarasana (crocodile) and manduka (frog)
bhujangasana (cobra)
salabhasana (locust)
viparita salabhasana and bherundasana (sage)
dhanurasana (bow) and return sequence

Meditative Pose Subroutines
vajrasana (sage)
ushtrasana (camel) to kapotasana (pigeon)
virasana (hero's pose)
Camel walk

Supine Subroutines
lead sequence
tatakamudra (pond gesture)and belly twist
apanasana (pelvic floor pose )
dvipadapitam (desk pose)
madhyasetu and urdhvadhanurasana (bridge)
leg and arm lifts
supta padangushtasana (with reclining leg behind head)
jataraparivritti (stomach teist)
sarvangasana (shoulderstand) preparation sequence
sarvangasana (shoulderstand) lead sequence
akunchanasana (contraction)
halasana (plough)
urdhva konasana (upside down triangle)
urdhva padmasana (upsidedown lotus)
niralamba sarvangasana (unsupported shoulderstand)
halasana-uttana mayurasana (plough to peacock)
sarvangasana-mandala (circular ambulation in plough)
karnapidasana (closed ear pose)

Inverted Subroutines
headstand lead in 1 (bent legs)
headstand lead in 2 (straight legs)
sirsasana vinyasas (headstand variations)
sirsasana padmasana (headstand lotus)
viparita dandasana (crooked staff)
headstand arm variations

Lotus Subroutines
ardhapadmasana (half lotus)
padmasana (lotus)
baddha padmasana (bound lotus)
urdhwa mukha padmasana ( upward facing lotus)
urdhwa padmasana (lifted lotus)
simhasana (lion face)
bharawadjasana (sage) and utpluthi (lift)
garbhapindasana (fetus in womb)
padmasana arm balancing pose

misc. arm balances

Jumb back and through library
vinyasa krama jump back
Vinyasa karma jump through
crossed leg jump through and back
high crossed leg jump through
straight leg jump through
bent back leg jump through
half lotus jump through
full lotus jump back
full lotus jump back (from behind)
full lotus jump through
marichyasana jump back
dandasana lift and jump back
leg behind head jump back

Winding down
meditation and pranayama postures
hand mala for counting (version 1)
hand mala for counting (version 2)
pranayama -nadi shodana
pratyahara postures

Developing a practice
Ashtanga primary series broken down into VK subroutines

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Jump back and through Library

A little extra section I'm chucking in the 2nd edition of my Vinyasa Krama Yoga Practice Book.

Vinyasa Krama isn't as Jumpbackcentric as Ashtanga, they don't tend to come up between every posture but they do appear at the beginning or end of some sequences/subroutines as a lead in or lead out.

There are a few of the ones below ( 130, 133, 134, 135 and 139 ) added, seemingly almost as an afterthought, towards the end of Ramaswami's book. He writes,

'Lifting one's body and jumping while supporting oneself on one's hands form a set of sequences quite popular these days' p230

I've thrown in a couple of extras, I'm still a fan. I like how they transition through Urdhva Mukha svanasana (upward facing dog) giving you a backbend counter pose after all the forward bends, I tend to do mine after ever subroutine.

129 Vinyasa Krama jump back

130 Vinyasa Krama jump through
131 Crossed leg jump through and back

132 High crossed leg jump through

133 Straight leg jump through

134 Jump in and out of Tiryamng mukha marichiyasana ( one leg bent back )
135 Half lotus jump back

136 Full lotus jump back

136b Full lotus jump back ( from behind)

136c Full lotus jump through

137 Marichiyasana jump back

138 Dandasana utpluthi jump back

139 Eka pada sirsasana ( leg behind head ) Jump back and through

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Editing ....also Bhagavan Das UPDATED with Primary Series Practice Sheets.

Day off today, was hoping to pretty much finish off the 2nd edition of the my Vinyasa Krama practice book.

Trouble is I keep coming up with new things to add. The latest idea was to make up some practice sheets of the Ashtanga Primary sequence and then draw boxes around all the different subroutines within it and show how they're similar to the Vinyasa Krama subroutines.

The point is to show how you can go about constructing a practice from all the different Vinyasa Krama Subroutines. One day it might have a similar layout to Ashtanga but another day you might practice different triangle subroutines than those in Ashtanga, or perhaps a couple of extra asymmetric subroutines or whatever.

First thing I needed to do then was make up some Primary practice sheets. My approach entails filming the whole sequence then, using VLC, take screenshots and after putting them in iPhoto, enhance crop and make them Black and White.

Should be straight forward enough but I decided to film the sequence after I got home from work last night as I didn't want to mess up a morning practice. I rushed through the sequence, one posture after another, hold for a breath then move on to the next. Going through It like that you don't really get to warm up the body properly, the marichi's for example were awkward and there wasn't much of a forward bend in uttanasana. Just as I was entering the first side of Mari D, M. called, nice chat then back to the mat and picked it up at the second side. This morning, editing, I find I don't have the first side of Mari D and have to try and get into it cold. Later I find I only filmed one side of Sury B so have to set the mat up, just as it was last night, and shoot that too.

The other problem is catching the screenshot at just the right place, VLC isn't very accurate so sometimes all you can capture is just as you come into a posture or out of it, then it turned out I didn't take shots of Uttanasana B so had to redo those and then work out how to reorder them on mac iPhoto, seems it wants to keep ordering the photos just as they were originally uploaded however many times you delete and reupload (slightly frustrating). There's a trick though, you pull up the photo information and then change the time and that puts it just where you want it. Phew.

What I'm finding REALLY interesting is how mellow I am about this now. A couple of years ago I would have been swearing at the mac, threatening it, shaking my fist, stomping around the room and considering taking up smoking again. Yoga, working perhaps?

Might be the Bhagavan Das CD I'm listening too that's keeping me so chilled. CK posted the video below on her blog Sunday, was completely blown away by it.

Went through a bunch of his CD's on spotify to try and find one that had the same feel to it, with CK's help, came up with Love song to the Dark Lord ( no not THAT Dark Lord). Love this, even passed the workshop test yesterday.

So the Sury's are done back to the grind now for the rest of the series.

All the VK subroutines ( over 80) are done and turned into sheets, just have to title them all and add a few practice notes, a contents page with links then it should be good to go.

See if I'm this calm five hours from now.

UPDATE ( 1pm )
Just finished editing the Primary series and turning them into practice sheets, what's that four hours?

Not sure how I feel about them, lot of postures look a bit tatty. Admittedly they were rushed through in the evening after work rather than filmed during a proper practice but they could be a hell of a lot better. Didn't help that I was using the Sweeney book as a guide during editing, looking at his posture looking at mine.....

Do I want my postures to be beautiful, elegant, would be nice but I'll settle for safe, some of these could probably be safer. Then again I have an inkling that elegant equals safe, I don't want to get hung up on how postures look, they're just tools but then I'm a repairer, I was taught to care for my tools.

Anyway here they are. Next job is to go at them with the red marker tool and box up the subroutines, that should be the fun bit.

Anyway here they are. Next job is to go at them with the red marker tool and box up the subroutines, that should be the fun bit.

The annotated version where I've divided Primary series up into the Vinyasa Krama subroutines is now posted over on the Vinyasa Krama blog.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Vinyasa Krama Practice book 2nd Edition. Any suggestions?

I'm working on the 2nd edition of my Vinyasa karma practice book.

The subroutines are all done, a little over 80 of them, just have to title them all now add a few practice notes. Also need to add some basic Vinyasa Krama practice guidelines at the beginning of the book then it should be ready to be put up on Google docs for download, probably in a couple of days.

The idea is to have, the practice guidelines followed by the full sequences, that'll make up Part 1. Part 2 will have all the subroutines from the sequences divided up like the one over on the left. I'm going to add hyperlinks that will link to the video's on the sister blog and probably include a couple of notes for each sequence, thinking a text box below the sequence, couple of bullet points.

Just added a bunch of jump back routines, from the standard Vinyasa karma jump through to the half and full lotus as well as the straight, bent leg and leg behind head jump throughs, there's also a page on arm balances.

As I've said this is no substitute for Ramaswami's book but rather a mat book, something to give us a quick visual reminder of the running order of the sequences/subroutines, a book of cheat sheets..

Was wondering if anyone has any other suggestions, anything else they'd like to see included before I upload it. Was hoping to add the Ashtanga Primary series and use that as an example of how sequences can be linked together as well as some my own approaches to linking sequences,that might have to wait for the 3rd edition though. Thinking too about including Pranayama, the way of counting the rounds on one hand, pranayama mantrsa etc.

If you don't want to put your suggestions in the comments you can email me grimmly2007 and that's at google (.com)

Friday, 23 September 2011

Oh the irony

So every spare minute I'm working on the subroutines version of my Vinyasa Karma Practice Book  (half done, hopefully finished end of the weekend), irony is my practice this week is almost totally Ashtanga, Primary series.

After a couple of weeks of the VK Supine sequence I wanted to work on the Asymmetric and Seated sequences, twists in particular, which is pretty much Primary. Plus it's getting colder, Primary generates more heat just what I need for out of practice marchi D, Supta Kurmasana and Kukkutasana.

But then I guess I'm working at a subroutine level in Primary so it's all good. practice.

Finished practice ( Ashtanga Primary) then decided to film it so I could do a break down in the book and show how Primary is made up of a bunch of VK subroutines. Ppracticed a second time at full speed with the camera running but trying to get as deep into the postures as I could for when I took screen shots. Found at the end that I'd pressed OFF for the third part rather than RECORD ( camera has a 15 min video limit ) so had to do that again.

Two and  a half practices this morning and it turned out that I had a lousy angle and was cutting off part of my head or foot, need to do it all over again.

Might try and get M to do a photo shoot of the Primary postures, much easier that way, might be fun too.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

My Vinyasa Krama Practice Book Free to Download UPDATE 2

A little while ago, when going on holiday, I took all the Vinyasa Krama practice sheets from my VK sequences and subroutines blog/site and turned them into a sort of pdf book that I could open in ibooks on my iPad.

I've tidied it up a little and uploaded it to Google docs making it freely downloadable. It's in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's book but it kind of works as cheat sheets when you on the mat and/or still becoming familiar with the sequences and subroutines.

There are still a few errors here and there and I've had to miss out a couple of postures to fit them onto the sheets but it's something to be going on with.

I've called it Grimmly's Vinyasa Karma Practice Book and it'll live in the Free to Download box over on the right of the blog, with Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda and Ramaswami's volumes of Newsletters.

Feel free to download them if you think you'll find them useful and use them however you wish.

Suggestions for improvements and developments are welcome. I'm going to try and add hyperlinks from the contents page this week and am working on a second 'chapter/part' that will work at a subroutine level with hyperlinks to the videos plus some practice guidelines.

Just updated the book to include links to the appropriate sequence from the contents page. Thanks for the suggestion Steve.

Gone AWOL for a bit while I work on the subroutines section, the evening 20/20/20 practice on hold.
5 sequences down 5 more to go, hoping to have it finished around the weekend.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Pavlov's dog

Metal Yoga Skeletons 
Sunday I felt like one of old Pavlov's dogs with Virabhadrasana as the little bell.

After a short tadasana Subroutine I tend to stick to a pretty standard Ashtanga standing sequence even when practicing Vinyasa Krama. I might add in a couple of bits here and there, a one legged squat perhaps or standing marchi but otherwise it's pretty much by the book.

I trust it, the standing sequence that is, couple of years practicing ashtanga without injury, you have to put some of that down to the warm up. I've tried practising without it, just the Vinyasa Krama triangle sequence say before moving on to seated or asymmetric, never feel comfortable but then again, in the same way, I include the short tadasana subroutine as soon as I get on the mat and for both VK and Ashtanga

Don't feel dressed without it.

That said, I don't tend to bother with virabhadrasana anymore, sort of got dropped when I started Intermediate. It seems it's common to stop the standing sequence at Utthita Parsvottanasana in 2nd. I've always included the Utthita hasta padangusthasana subroutine though, mainly because I hate it so much and Ardha baddha padmottanasana as well because I have a dodgy knee and think it's good to warm it up early.

Last week I did a post on the five minute Utkatasana and how it's good for waking up the bandhas so I now feel obliged to include that too. Sunday, being Sunday and having more time to practice I decided to throw in the warrior postures, why not, included everything else.

The plan for practice had been half of the VK asymmetric sequence and half of the seated, not a million miles away from Ashtanga primary. After a couple of weeks working on Supine and the gentle backbends I wanted to move on to some forward bending

So off I go merrily through Standing, padangusthasana... da di da di da.... utkatasana, boom bi boom. Virabhadrasana  la li la li la, paschimottanasana....jump back, jump through, Purvottanasana, hum di hum, jump back jump through ....Ardha baddha padm....... HANG ON A SECOND #$%^ How the heck did I end up in Ashtangaland, (EX) ashtangi remember...... oh well why not, carried on and did Primary instead.

It's that pesky Virabhadrasana, I'm telling ya, programmed, hardwired in, new neural pathways or what have you.

Tried it again Monday.

Now, as a rule, in VK you tend to do the asymmetric postures before the Seated paschimottanasana ( actually not a rule at all, very few rules in VK) but no, virabhadrasana and you just HAVE to jump through into paschimottanasana anything else feels wrong, just plain wrong.

I'm brainwashed, one warrior pose, OK two, and I'm salivating for those paschi endorphins, gimmi my treat and gimmi it now master Pavlov.

Megan says that watching my relationship with Ashtanga is like watching some Mexican soap opera ( oh and ten points for bringing in soap opera in the context of a Mysore soap post).

'Hehe, witnessing your relationship (or lack thereof) with Ashtanga is like watching a Mexican soap opera. I know Vinyasa Krama will treat you right, but I can't help but root for crusty old Ashtanga to win your heart in the end ;)'.

No plans to change my blog title and go back to old crusty as yet.

....... and so to practice, Bow and Meditative sequences with a little of that pelvic thrusting from Supine

*The skeleton above is from HEAVY METAL YOGI blog the link under the picture takes you to more of his (?) skeleton posture pictures.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Han shot first..... didn't he?

Uncle George has changed this scene ( from the original 1977 Star Wars) for the 2011 Blu-ray box set edition, claiming it makes things clearer for the kids...... god bless em

1977 was also the year that David Swenson first went to Mysore to practice with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Mysore sandal soap

M brought me back some Mysore sandal soap from Brick lane yesterday.

I like it..... a lot, forgotten about real soap, so used to all the cream soap dispensers.

Whole house smells of Sandalwood though.

Fresh bagels from the Brick lane beigel bakery too ( open 24 hours), thanks M.

btw not so EX an Ashtangi this morning.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Practice, sometimes you just want to fly

I rediscovered Twitter last night, though it took me a while to remember my password. Still don't really understand twitter, it was about a year before I realised I had an inbox type thing that had several messages going back months, all unanswered, my apologies.

So that (this post title) was my twitter post, refuse to say twxxt and by the way, what is the past tense of twxxt anyway?

'Practice, sometimes you just want to fly'.

I was just about to start my evening practice yesterday, the 20/20/20 thing I do, twenty minutes asana, twenty minutes Pranayama and twenty minutes meditation.

This is something we did on Ramaswami's course although that was more like 20/40/40. Ramaswami would leave the room for twenty minutes and let us do whatever asana we felt like before coming back for the pranayama. We had a week of this. Each day I would try something different and see what seemed to worked best as preparation. One day I did mostly sury namaskara's another day slow, meditative, Asymmetric postures, another day backbends. One afternoon was all fast paced arm balances.

So last night I thought, arm balances, why not. After a week of being mostly on my back in the supine sequence it seemed like a good idea and there's a slew of them near the back of Ramaswami's book, kind of like 2nd and 3rd series ashtanga stuff.

Started with a few floaty Sury's, they were nice then jumped into headstand, folded my legs into lotus to lower down into my old favourite urdhva Kukkutasana and ....splat. Tried it again and again splat, splat and SPLAT.  This was pretty much my practice session last night. Galvasana, Splat, Eka pada bakasana, Splat, Koundinyasana....wobble....... SPLAT.

I had thought about doing a couple of tictaks ...... thought better of it.

Quite shocked at how much upper body strength I've lost and of course how much Ashtanga builds. It's been, what, three weeks since my last Ashtanga Primary. I do the occasional jump back in Vinyasa Karma but clearly not enough to keep my strength up.

Not too bothered about it, the floaty sury's were still OK and the jump backs and through, when I do them, are still fine and of course, if I've lost upper body strength from the lack of arm balances then my hips have probably become more flexible from all the Supine series  along with strength in the legs. It's a good argument for a varied and balanced practice.

This morning I moved on from Supine to Asymmetric and Seated sequences, not the whole lot but a selection of subroutines from both. I added in a few more jump back between the subroutines, nice practice.

Every time I do this Asymmetric/Seated I realise how Ashtangaish it is, which makes me think about what I'm including or leaving out from Primary. Krishnamacharya, he knew a thing or two, feels a little disrespectful to leave anything out but then that was a sequence for a particular time and group of students, later he taught in a different way to different students. I've studied both, how to do justice to and respect both the early and late Krishnamacharya?

In the end I include much of Primary but missed out a few of the variations and most of the jump backs allowing me to stay in some of the postures longer and include some other VK variations. This morning was more Asymmetric focussed, tomorrow will probably have more attention on seated and perhaps the next day more time in the twisting postures. Consistency and flexibility, my new mantra.

It's an improvement though, this time last year or six months ago even I would probably have gone running back to ashtanga with my tail between my legs.

Bandhas, Breathing and making the most of Utkatasana

Tuesday's evening 20/20/20 asana practice was the  Utkatasana subroutine from the Vinyasa Krama On your feet sequence.

I've been practicing Supine sequence all week, after practice this morning I was checking something in the relevant chapter in Ramaswami's other book Yoga for the three stages of life when I came across something interesting.... and frightening.

I love this book, every time I open it I find something I've missed or rushed over. This is what I found today.

'Chapter 8 Supine postures 
Before discussing the supine postures, it may be good to introduce the band has, or locks.'

So that's where he's buried away the bandhas. It's good place, as he mentions, after going through Chapter 7's Standing postures the body becomes lighter, circulation improved, breathing longer, smoother more regular.

' Regular practice results in both more tranquility-and paradoxically- improved stamina, as revealed through one's capacity to do the postures more deliberately and with slow stretching, and in one's ability to stay in the final posture longer and for a greater number of breaths' p.126

So we're nicely prepared to take our practice a little further. The upcoming Supine sequence begins with Tatkamudra and this is an excellent posture to introduce the bandhas. First though Ramaswami has a few words to say about the breath.

'The four aspects of yogic breathing were also discussed in chapter 7. To repeat, the first is recaka, or long and smooth exhalation. the second is puraka, or long inhalation. It is possible to hold in the breath after inhalation which is known as internal holding, or antha-kumbhaka, and is the third aspect. Holding the breath out during the time interval between the completion of exhalation (recaka) and the beginning of inhalation (puraka) is bahya-kumbhaka, the fourth aspect'. p126

Ramaswami used to prowl around the room, coming up behind you to make sure he could hear your breathing. We don't employ breath retention in every posture and in the postures that we do, perhaps not all the time. It's something that's available to us and in some postures more than others.

The same goes for the bandhas.

Jalandhara bandha

'There are three important band has. the first is jalandhara bandha, or locking the chin against the breastbone. This may be done during kumbhkas and whenever the the posture requires the chin to be locked, which is normally the case during forward bends and when keeping the back erect. In backbends and twisting postures it is not possible to do jalandhara bandha'. p127

Mula and Uddiyana bandha

'The other two bandhas, however, should be practiced in most of the asanas, especially after exhalation. The first is mula bandha, which means "constricting of the anus" It is done after a complete exhalation. After the exhalation is over, the abhyasi (yoga student) should anchor the body in the asana he or she is in and then slowly and deliberately close the anus and draw in the rectum by contracting the perineal and surrounding muscles of the pelvic floor. Then as if in a continuous movement, the abdomen, including the navel, is drawn in, pushing up the diaphragm into the now almost empty chest cavity, which is then called uddiyana bandha ( drawing in of the diaphragm)... This technique is one of the specialities of yogic breathing" p127

So now I'm expecting to move onto discussion of the bandhas in Supine sequence but here's where Ramaswami scared the living daylights out of me. Before mentioning the Supine postures he mentions the one standing posture where all three bandhas 'can be effectively practiced', Utkatasana. 

'When one is able to stay in the posture (utkatasana) for three to six breaths, then one should slowly increase the time to complete a stipulated number of breaths. Thereafter, one should remain in the posture for a predetermined number of breaths chosen by the practitioner or teacher, or for a fixed persiod, say three to five minutes. Then one's practice should be aimed at reducing the number of breaths while remaining in the posture for the same duration. for instance one may take a total of twenty breaths while in the posture. Later on, it may be possible to remain in the posture steadily and comfortably (sthira and sukha) for five minutes with perhaps only ten breaths. This is one method for attaining asana siddhi (perfection in posture) that one can test of oneself. Having achieved this level of comfort in the posture, one can then introduce the band has, which will increase the time taken for each breath. P 127

FIVE MINUTES!!!!!! in UTKATASANA? ouch., serious tapas.

*Note to Ashtangi's. The Utkatasana in Ashtanga's Standing sequence, Ramaswami refers to as ardha-utkatasana ( half squat or chair). He calls the full squat Utkatasana. I know you probably can't spend five minutes here in the shala but if I'm honest it was a posture I used to neglect a lot of the time. Might find it interesting to milk it a little next practice.

So this evening Utkatasan it was. First the subroutine inculing the different hand variations. Here's the video from my Vinyasa Krama Sequences and subroutines site with the different variations.

And then this five minute Utkatasana with bandhas and antha-kumbhaka from this evening/afternoon which is frankly like watching paint dry, towards the end though you might be able to catch the sweat from my forehead changing from a drip to a flood.

Still a way to go before it's sthira and sukha and that's without even thinking about ardha-utkatasana

* All quotes from Yoga for the three stages of Life by Srivatsa Ramaswami

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Yoga Meditation

'Meditating on Meditation  from Ramaswami's Nov 2009 Newsletter 

I was watching a live television program in India some 30 years back
when TV had just been introduced in India. It was a program in which
an elderly yogi was pitted against a leading cardiologist. It was
virtually a war. The yogi was trying to impress with some unusual
poses which were dubbed as potentially dangerous by the doctor. Almost
everything the yogi claimed was contested by the non-yogi and soon the
dialogue degenerated. The yogi stressed that headstand will increase
longevity by retaining the amrita in the sahasrara in the head and the
medical expert countered it by saying that there was no scientific
basis for such claims and dubbed it as a pose which was unnatural and
dangerous and will lead to a stroke. The Yogi replied by saying that
Yoga had stood the test of time for centuries; it had been in vogue
much before modern medicine became popular. Thank God it was a black
and white program; else you would have seen blood splashed all over
the screen.

Things have become more civil in these three decades. Now neti pot,
asanas, yogic breathing exercises and yogic meditation have all become
part of the medical vocabulary. There is a grudging appreciation of
yoga within the medical profession. Many times doctors suggest a few
yogic procedures, especially Meditation, in several conditions like
hypertension, anxiety, depression and other psychosomatic ailments.
Ah! Meditation. The Yoga world is divided into two camps. On one side
we have enthusiastic hata yogis who specialize in asanas and the other
group which believes fervently in meditation as a panacea for all the

But how should one meditate? Many start meditation and give it up
after a few days or weeks as they fail to see any appreciable benefit
or perceivable progress.  The drop out rate is quite high among
meditators. The mind continues to be agitated and does not get into
the meditating routine. Or quite often one tends to take petit naps
while meditating. Why does this happen? It is due to lack of adequate
preparation. Basically one has to prepare oneself properly for
meditation. The Yogis mention two sadhanas or two yogic procedures as
preparations. They are asanas and pranayama. Asanas, as we have seen
earlier, reduce rajas which manifests as restlessness of the mind, an
inability to remain focused for an appreciable amount of time. But
another guna, tamas also is not helpful during meditation, manifesting
as laziness, lethargy and sloth and this also should be brought under
control if one wants to meditate. Patanjali, Tirumular and several old
Yogis advocate the practice of Pranayama to reduce the effects of
Tamas. Patanjali says Pranayama helps to reduce avarana or Tamas. He
along with conventional ashtanga yogis also mentions that Pranayama
makes the mind capable of Dharana or the first stage of meditation.

Pranayama is an important prerequisite of meditation.
There is evidence that pranayama has a salutary effect on the whole
system. In an earlier article I had explained the beneficial effects
of deep pranayama on the heart and the circulatory system. Further,
when it is done correctly, it helps to draw in anywhere between 3 to 4
liters of atmospheric air compared to just about ½  liter of air
during normal breathing. This helps to stretch the air sacs of the
lungs affording an excellent exchange of oxygen and gaseous waste
products. These waste products are proactively thrown out of the
system by deep pranayama, which yogis refer to as reduction of tamas.
Thus soon after pranayama, the yogi feels refreshed and calm and
becomes fit for the first stage of meditation which is called Dharana.
What should one meditate on? Several works talk about meditating on
cakras, mantras, auspicious icons, various tatwas and on the spirit/
soul etc. But, the method of meditating, only a few works detail.
Perhaps the most precise is that of Patanjali in Yoga Sutras.
Patanjali details not only a step by step methodology of meditation
but also the various objects of prakriti and ultimately the spirit
within to meditate on. Hence his work may be considered as the most
detailed, complete and rigorous on meditation

For a start Patanjali would like the abhyasi to get the technique
right. So he does not initially specify the object but merely says
that the Yogi after the preliminary practices of asana, pranayama and
pratyahara, should sit down in a comfortable yogasana and start the
meditation. Tying the mind to a spot is dharana. Which spot? Vyasa in
his commentary suggests going by tradition, a few spots, firstly
inside the body, like the chakras as the Kundalini Yogi would do,, or
the heart lotus as the bhakti yogi would do, or the mid-brows as a
sidhha yogi would do or even an icon outside as a kriya yogi would do.
The icon should be an auspicious object like the image of one’s
favorite deity. Many find it easier to choose a mantra and focus
attention on that. Thousands everyday meditate on the Gayatri mantra
visualizing the sun in the middle of the eyebrows or the heart as part
of their daily Sandhyavandana** routine. It is also an ancient
practice followed even today to meditate on the breath with or without
using the Pranayama Mantra.
(** Namarupa  published my article   “Sandhyavandanam-Ritualistic
Gayatri Meditation” with all the routines, mantras, meanings, about 40
pictures, and also an audio with the chanting of the mantras in the
Sep/Oct 2008 issue).

What of the technique?
The Yogabhyasi starts the antaranga sadhana or the internal practice
by bringing the mind to the same object again and again even as the
mind tends to move away from the chosen object of meditation. The
active, repeated attempts to bring the mind back to the simple, single
object again and again is the first stage of meditation (samyama)
called dharana. Even though one has done everything possible to make
the body/mind system more satwic, because of the accumulated samskaras
or habits, the mind continues to drift away from the object chosen for
meditation. The mind starts with the focus on the object but within a
short time it swiftly drifts to another related thought then a third
one and within a short time this train of thoughts leads to a stage
which has no connection whatsoever with the object one started with.
Then suddenly the meditator remembers that one is drifting and soon
brings the mind back to the object and resumes remaining with the
“object”. This process repeats over and over again. This repeated
attempts to coax and bring the mind to the same object is dharana. At
the end of the session lasting for about 15 minutes, the meditator may
(may means must) take a short time to review the quality of
meditation. How often was the mind drifting away from the object and
how long on an average the mind wandered? And further what were the
kinds of interfering thoughts? The meditator takes note of these. If
they are recurrent and strong then one may take efforts to sort out
the problem that interferes with the meditation repeatedly or at least
decide to accept and endure the situation but may decide to take
efforts to keep those thoughts away at least during the time one

If during the dharana period, the mind gets distracted too often and
this does not change over days of practice, perhaps it may indicate
that the rajas is still dominant and one may want to reduce the
systemic rajas by doing more asanas in the practice. On the other hand
if the rajas is due to influences from outside, one may take special
efforts to adhere to the yamaniyamas more scrupulously. Perhaps every
night before going to sleep one may review the day’s activities and
see if one had willfully violated the tenets of yamaniyamas like “did
I hurt someone by deed, word or derive satisfaction at the expense of
others’ pain”. Or did I say untruths and so on. On the other hand if
one tends to go to sleep during the meditation minutes, one may
consider increasing the pranayama practice and also consider reducing
tamasic interactions, foods etc.

Then one may continue the practice daily and also review the progress
on a daily basis and also make the necessary adjustments in practice
and interactions with the outside world. Theoretically and practically
when this practice is continued diligently and regularly, slowly the
practitioner of dharana will find that the frequency and duration of
these extraneous interferences start reducing and one day, the abhyasi
may find that for the entire duration one stayed with the object. When
this takes place, when the mind is completely with the object moment
after moment in a continuous flow of attention, then one may say that
the abhyasi has graduated into the next stage of meditation known as
dhyana. Many meditators are happy to have reached this stage. Then one
has to continue with the practice so that the dhyana habits or
samskaras get strengthened. The following day may not be as
interruption free, but Patanjali says conscious practice will make it
more successful. “dhyana heyat tad vrittayah”. If one continues with
this practice for sufficiently long time meditating on the same object
diligently, one would hopefully reach the next stage of meditation
called Samadhi. In this state only the object remains occupying the
mind and the abhyasi even forgets herself/himself. Naturally if one
continues the meditation practice one would master the technique of
meditation. Almost every time the yagabhasi gets into meditation
practice, one would get into Samadhi. Once one gets this capability
one is a yogi—a technically competent yogi-- and one may be able to
use the skill on any other yoga worthy object and make further
progress in Yoga. (tatra bhumishu viniyogah).

The consummate yogi could make a further refinement. An object has a
name and one has a memory of the object, apart from the object itself
(sabda, artha gnyana). If a Yogi is able to further refine the
meditation by focusing attention on one aspect like the name of the
object such a meditation is considered superior. For instance when the
sound  ‘gow” is heard (gow is cow ), if the meditiator intently
maintains the word ‘gow’ alone in his mind without bringing the
impression(form) of a cow in his mind then that is considered a
refined meditation. Or when he sees the cow, he does not bring the
name ‘gow’ in the meditation process, it is a refined meditation.

The next aspect-after mastering meditation— one may consider is, what
should be the object one should meditate upon. For Bhakti Yogis it is
the Lord one should meditate upon. According to my teacher, a great
Bhakti Yogi, there is only one dhyana or meditation and that is
bhagavat dhyana or meditating upon the Lord. There is a difference
between a religious person and a devotee. A devotee loves the Lord and
meditates on the Lord, all through life. The Vedas refer to the
Pararmatman or the Supreme Lord and bhakti yogis meditate on the Lord.
The Vedas also refer to several gods and some may meditate on these as
well. By meditating on the Lord one may transcend the cycle of
transmigration. At the end of the bhakti yogi’s life one reaches the
same world of the Lord (saloka), the heaven. Some attain the same form
as the Lord. Some stay in the proximity of the Lord and some merge
with the Lord. The Puranas which are the later creation of poet seers
personify the Lord and the vedic gods. Thus we have several puranas as
Agni purana, Vayu purana and then those of the Lord Himself like the
Bhagavata Purana , Siva Purana , Vishnu Purana. Running to thousands
of slokas and pages the puranic age helped to worship the Lord more
easily as these stories helped to visualize the Lord as a person,
which was rather difficult to do from the Vedas. Later on Agamas made
the Lord more accessible by allowing idols to be made of the Lord and
divine beings and consecrating them in temples. Thus these various
methods helped the general populace remain rooted to religion and
religious worship. So meditating upon the charming idol/icon of the
Lord made it possible for many to worship and meditate . Of course
many traditional Brahmins belonging to the vedic practices stuck to
the vedic fire rituals, frowned upon and refrained from any ‘form
worship’, but millions of others found form worship a great boon.
Meditating on the form of the chosen deity either in a temple or at
one’s own home has made it possible to sidestep the intermediate
priestly class to a great extent. One can become responsible for one’s
own religious practice, including meditation. The ultimate reality is
meditated on in different forms, in any form as Siva Vishnu etc  or as
Father, Mother, Preceptor or even a Friend. Some idol meditators
define meditating on the whole form as dharana, then meditating on
each aspect of the form as the toe or head or the arms or the
bewitching eyes as dhyana and  thus giving a different interpretation
to meditation. Some, after meditating on the icon, close the eyes and
meditate on the form in their mind’s eye (manasika).
Darshanas like Samkhya and Yoga which do not subscribe to the theory
of a Creator commended ‘the understanding of one’s own Self’ as a
means of liberation. The Self which is non-changing is pure
consciousness and by deep unwavering meditation after getting the
technique right, one can realize the nature of oneself and be

Following this approach, the Samkhyas commend meditating on
each and every of the 24 aspects of prakriti in the body-mind complex
of oneself and transcend them to directly know the true nature of
oneself, and that will be Freedom or Kaivalya. Similarly the Yogis
would say that the true nature of the self is known when the mind
transcends(nirodha) the five types of its activities called vrittis to
reach kaivalya, by a process of subtler and subtler meditation.
The Upanishads on the other hand while agreeing with the other
Nivritti sastras like Yoga and Samkhya in so far as the nature of the
self is concerned, indicate that the individual and the Supreme Being
are one and the same and meditating on this identity leads to
liberation. They would like the spiritual aspirant to first follow a
disciplined life to get an unwavering satwic state of the mind. Then
one would study the upanishadic texts (sravana), by analysis (manana)
understand them and realize the nature of the self through several
step by step meditation approaches (nidhidhyasana). The Vedas, for the
sake of the spiritual aspirant, have several Upanishad vidyas to study
and understand It from several viewpoints. For instance, the panchkosa
vidya indicates that the real self is beyond (or within) the five
koshas (sheaths). It could also be considered as the pure
consciousness which is beyond the three states of awareness (avasta)
of waking, dream and deep sleep, as the Pranava(Om) vidya would
indicate. The understanding and  conviction that Self and the Supreme
Self are one and the same is what one needs to get, before doing
Upanishadic meditation following the advaitic interpretation.
Summarizing one may say that traditional meditation warrants proper
preparation so that the mind becomes irrevocably satwic and thus fit
for and capable of meditation.   Secondly it requires practice on a
simple object until the meditation technique is mastered and such
meditatin samskaras developed. Then the Yogi should set the goal of
meditation based on the conviction of a solid philosophy—bhakti,
samkhya, yoga, vedanta, kundalini (or if comfortable, nirvana) or

* Ramaswami's Newsletters from 2009 and 2010 have been brought together in a couple of pdf files and are freely available for downloading. I came across the one above while revisiting his earlier newsletters.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ramaswami on the structure of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra

After yesterday's post on the 'original' Gita and Yoga sutra, where all trace of God/Ishvara was cut away from the texts as unnecessary, an intrusive interpolation, I thought it would be ....balanced to offer an argument for the Yoga sutra's as they are, with the God option included.
Here's Ramaswami, from his July 2010 Newsletter, with a relevant story ( you'll see why later) concerning Ganesha along with an outline of the structure of the Yoga Sutra as it is (now). I've also included some links and notes on Samkhya and the tatwas at the end.

'Ganesa. Lord Shiva with Goddess 
Parvati was in his heavenly abode called Kailasa (the Himalayas). An 
old devotee during a visit to Kailas, offered the Lord a delicious 
mango. The Lord then turned to His sons, the elder Gajamukha/Ganesa 
(the elephant headed) and the younger firebrand Sanmukha (one with six 
heads) and offered the mango to the one who would travel around the 
Universe quicker. Soon enough the younger Sanmukha mounted his peacock 
vahana (vehicle).  (In Indian mythology many gods have their vehicles, 
Lord Vishnu used a particular variety of the eagle family called 
Garuda; Saraswati, the goddess of learning glides around in her swan 
vehicle.)  Each Deva used a different vehicle as we use a Bentley or 
Chevy Impala.  Shanmukha had a head start, he was off to a good start 
on his “around the world in.a jiffy” adventure. He was sure that he 
would win the race. It was just impossible for obese Ganesa to crawl 
along on his mushika vahana or mouse vehicle. 

In Yoga Sutras the first  chapter is intended for the highest evolved yogis-- the Uttama  Adhikaris – the born yogis who could get into a samadhi state at the  drop of a hat. Here there are two types of Yogis, the nirishwara Samkhya oriented philosophers who do not find the need to accept God in the creation and running of the Universe, even though it is an orthodox philosophy subscribing to the authority of the vedas, and the yogis who accept God. Patanjali in his Yoga philosophy accepts the 25  tatwas (24 tatwa of the prakriti or Universe and one distinct tatwa, the purusha) but, adds the 26th tatwa Iswara or God to facilitate the  spiritual journey of some aspirants. That is why Yoga Philosophy is  also known as “seswara Samkhya” or Sankhya philosophy which includes  Iswara or God.) While one set of yogis have difficulty in accepting God in their equation there is considerable number who believe in God.

One interesting facet of Yoga is that it is Universal. It is for  everybody, believers and non-believers alike. So, in the first  chapter, Patanjali addresses the question of Chitta Vritti nirodha and
Kaivalya for both the groups. Those who follow the Samkhya path alone would practice dispassion towards the 24 tatwas  in four groups  (visesha avisesha lingamatra and alinga) because these 24 tatwas  are the non-self and ultimately reach the stage of kaivalya. But Patanjali  recommends another approach -- rather than muddling through the practice of vairagya on all these 24 tatwas, one may meditate upon the One Tatwa (eka tatwa), Iswara or God and attain Kaivalya or freedom.

People pray to God for a number things. Here Patanjali suggests  praying for spiritual Freedom or kailvalya. Madhava, who wrote a book  “Sarva Darsana Sangraha” or a “Concise elucidation of all  philosophies”, says  (following Sankara ) that the born Yogi who practices Iswarapranidhana using the Pranava mantra and also  contemplates on the import of the Mantra attains salvation easily, like Ganesa who worshiped the Lord and Sakti unlike Shanmukha who took the laborious and circuitous path going around the Universe.

The  implication is: those yogis who have faith in God may do well to use  that devotional fervour and make spiritual progress more easily. In fact my guru Sri Krishnamacharya in spite of his enormous yogic  practice was an ardent Bhakti yogi. Of course one should admit that if  someone has genuine difficulty in having faith in God that person may follow the step by step yoga approach of the Samkhyas.'

from Ramaswami's July 2010 Newsletter


Here's a relatively clear outline of Samkhya philosophy on Hindunet

and the section on the tattva's from the same page

The 25 tatwas or principles

'The entire universe is composed of the three primal principles (Puruṣa, Pradhāna and Vyakta) and their manifestations. In the manifest world, there are twenty five principles in all. The enumeration of twenty five principles has Śṛti-sammata or acceptance of Śṛti, from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (4.4.17).
The cosmic principles are explained in four groups. The primal nature, mahat (intelligence principle), ahaṃkāra (ego), five tanmātras (subtle attributes of the primal elements), eleven senses, five primal elements make twenty four principles. These are part of the world. Twenty fifth principle is Puruṣa, the eternal self. Including or excluding the Puruṣa, Sāṃkhya principles are usually mentioned as twenty four or twenty five.

Mūla Prakṛti or primal nature: She is eternal, has no source and is the source of the world.
Saptaka (mahat, ahaṃkāra and five tanmātras, making seven principles): Mahat is the intelligence principle. This is born from Prakṛti. Ahaṃkāra is the ego-sense. This emanates from Mahat. The five tanmātras emerge from Ahaṃkāra. Tanmātras are the subtle elements. These have source in the primal nature, and in turn are source for the primal elements.

Ṣodaśaka (the sixteen principles): The five primal elements of nature (earth, water, fire, air and sky) and eleven senses make the ṣodaśaka. Six jnanendriyas and five karmendriyas make eleven senses. They emanate from the tanmātras in sequence. Jnanendriyas are the five senses and mind. Karmendriyas are vāk (mouth or speech organ), pāṇi (hands), pādam (legs), upastha (reproductive organ) and pāyu (excretary organ).

Puruṣa/Cetana: All the twenty four principles are acetana or not eternally conscious. The eternal consciousness principle is the twenty fifth, the Puruṣa or the self.
In the sequence of transformation/evolution of the universe, Puruṣa is apariṇāmi or the one that never transforms. Primal nature is the primal transformation or manifestation that has no dissolution. She causes all the manifestation (abhivyakta) and transformation. The saptaka both have a source and dissolution, and are in turn source for the ṣodaśaka. Ṣodaśaka are the final transformations that are not source for anything'.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Gita Code : Phulgenda Sinha's 'The Gita as it was'

Phulgenda Sinha pretty much decimates the Bhagavad Gita, cutting it down from 700 verses to just 84.  Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is similarly culled, from the 195 verses we know and love to  83. The Samkhy Karika loses 13 verses.

Sinha writes of the Samkha

'These interpolations are so evident that they should have been noticed by the many scholars who have written on Samkhy philosophy. Most interestingly, these interpolations betray themselves when Samkhy-karika is referred to as the shasti-tantra ( the science of sixty verses). Our suspicions are immediately aroused seeing that there are 73 verses, 13 too many' p121

Attempting to identify the original versions of these texts is not new. It's not so much a question of IF verses have been interpolated but rather WHICH verses, HOW MANY and WHY.

Sinha claims that what distinguishes his approach is that he is considering these texts together, rather than in isolation and out of their historical context. He argues that the Yoga Sutra is based on Samkhya philosophy and so cuts away anything not in keeping with that philosophy. The Gita, in turn, is based on Samkhy and Yoga and gets cut accordingly.

The argument
'(i)     The basis of yoga as a discipline and as a system is known as Samkhya Darshan ( Samkhya philosophy).  This philosophy was established by Kapila, who lived about 700 B. C. 

(ii)     Though yoga was practiced during the period of Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilisation (generally dated 3000 B.C), we do not have any deciphered writing on Yoga from that period. The first known and comprehensively discussed book on the Yoga is Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, dated about 400 B.C. In yoga Sutra, Patanjali accepted everything taught by Kapila in his Samkhya Philosophy, and added more to make a comprehensive system for achieving a healthy, happy and creative life.

(iii)     Yoga reached it's highest and most glorious stage in the work of Vyasa in about 400 B.C. Vyasa wrote the Gita by incorporating all the basic theories and concepts of Kapila and Patanjali and by adding much original thought of his own. Thus by 400 B.C. India as a civilisation had produced a matchless philosophical work presented in the simple form of song, telling how dukha (sorrow) can be eliminated and how sukha (happiness) in life can be achieved. This philosophical work was the Gita.

(iv)     In the post vedic period, up to 800 A.D., the thinkers and writers of India were men of a rational outlook. They did not accept the idea of a single, almighty deity. A close study of all the available records indicates that theistic concepts were non-existent in India prior to about 800 A.D. 

(v)     In a surprising way, the thought pattern of India changed after 800 A.D. Monotheism made sudden inroads into India.' p. xvi

Now this is were the book at times sounds like a classic conspiracy theory novel.

Sinha argues that India became more exposed to monotheism through some Christian colonies, trade relations with Alexandria particularly in the south of India and in 711 A.D. the arrival of Islam in Sindh, one of the four provinces of present day Pakistan. 

However it was the revival of Brahmanism.  and the Brahmin acceptance of Monotheism that ultimately resulted in the rewriting of the Gita, Samkhy karika and Yoga Sutra.  

'Brhamins accepted monotheism and began interpreting the whole history of India, from Vedas to Upanishads, in a completely new way'. p 93

Shankaracharya, in particular, is named and shamed.

'Shankaracharya was the first Indian to openly accept, propagate and expound the concept of monotheism as a part of Hindu religion' p95

'India after 800 A.D. adopted quite a different outlook. the ideas proposed by writers and commentators were now mostly matters of belief and faith, coloured by religion, mysticism, and caste. Not Man but God was held to be supreme. Man could do only what was predestined by God. there was a Heaven and hell. man possessed a soul which did not die but was reincarnated according to past and present deeds. The brahmans were superior to all castes and the word brhamin was synonymous with Brahma ( one of the post-vedic gods) and all the divinities. Indian thought in this period bore certain resemblances to to the teachings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.' p. xvi

The Consequences for yoga

'In answer to a question raised by Arjuna as to who are better versed in yoga. Krishna says: 

"Those who fix their mind on me, worship me, with highest faith are the best in yoga in my opinion" (XII,2)

"If you are unable to fix your mind on me, then seek to reach me by constant practice of Yoga, o Arjuna" (XII, 9)

" But, if you are unable to do even this, then, seek union with me and renounce the fruits of all actions while controlling your mind " (XII,11)

There is little wonder then that yoga could no longer remain a secular system. It could neither become popular with the masses not be taught in the academic institutions of India - until recently. Yoga became a system of practice mixed with religious, spiritual and cultic values, and it remained confined to ashrams (centres dedicated to religious values and practices). 

The cult of guruism developed. Those learning and practicing Yoga in the ashrams became disciples of the guru (master of the centre) and worked as devout followers of the cult. being cultic, it thrived on secrecy, mysticism, rituals, superstitions and devotion. yoga became sectarian." p 114

What Sinha is really concerned with is the future of India. He is basically arguing that India took a wrong turn around 800AD, from rationalism to spiritualism and that this is why India has, despite it's wealth of resources, lagged behind other societies and civilisations ever since. A rediscovery of India's rationalist roots he seems to believe will revitalise India.

This is a highly readable textual study, at times it reads like a novel with good guys and bad guys, conspiracies galore. It's almost an Indian Da Vinci code. It had me running to google and the library to try and check facts and sources. He wears his motives on his sleeve a little too much for my liking, but they are noble motives. I don't think I swallow half of his story but then you don't have to.

The only thing to decide is if the Gita and the Yoga Sutra changed dramatically to incorporate monotheism or not.

The book is out of print but there are some used copies floating around Amazon. Get a copy while you still can and decide for yourself.

Below are my earlier posts with Sinha's 'original' Yoga Sutra ( the text in the post are the same verses but from an online source, not Sinha's translation) as well as the verses that get left out.

The original Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

and here's the my earlier post on the Gita ( again not Sinha's translation).

The Original Gita. No Surrender! ( Updated with the original Gita? )

Of course if you do manage to eliminate spiritualism and mysticism from the Gita and Yoga Sutra your left with Samkhya, dualism. A case of out of the frying pan and back into the proverbial fire.


And one possible response 


So here it is, the supposed original Bhagavad Gita

Ch. I 28-34,37,40, 46-47.
Ch. II 3, 11-31, 34-36, 39-41, 48, 50, 53, 56-58, 60, 64-70.
Ch. III 1-9, 16-21, 23-29, 32-35, 38-40, 42-43.

Bhagavad gita, as it was?
Sinha's verses outlined above taken from the online edition HERE ( but remember this is not Sinha's own translation, still waiting for his book to arrive, this should give us a general idea however).

Chapter 1

Arjuna was overcome with great compassion 

And sorrowfully said: 

O Krishna, seeing my kinsmen standing

With a desire to fight,


My limbs fail and my mouth becomes dry.
My body quivers 

And my hairs stand on end.


The bow, Gaandeeva, slips from my hand
And my skin intensely burns. 

My head turns,
I am unable to stand steady 


And, O Krishna,
I see bad omens. 

I see no use of killing my kinsmen in battle.

I desire neither victory 

Nor pleasure nor kingdom,
O Krishna.
 What is the use of the kingdom,
Or enjoyment, or even life, O Krishna?

Because all those, for whom we desire kingdom,
Enjoyments, and pleasures,
Are standing here for the battle,

Giving up their lives and wealth.


Teachers, uncles, sons, grandfathers,

Maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons,

Brothers-in-law, and other relatives.

Therefore, we should not kill our brothers,

The sons of Dhritaraashtra. 

How can we be happy 

After killing our kinsmen, O Krishna?

With the destruction of the family, 

The eternal family traditions are destroyed,

And immorality prevails 

Due to the destruction of family traditions.

It would be far better for me 

If the sons of Dhritaraashtra should kill me

With their weapons in battle 

While I am unarmed and unresisting.

Sanjaya said: 
Having said this in the battle field

And casting aside his bow and arrow, 

Arjuna sat down on the seat of the chariot

with his mind overwhelmed with sorrow.

Chapter II

Do not become a coward, O Arjuna,

Because it does not befit you. 

Shake off this weakness of your heart

And get up (for the battle), O Arjuna.

Krishna said: 
You grieve for those who are not worthy of grief,

And yet speak the words of wisdom.

The wise grieve neither

For the living nor for the dead.


There was never a time when I, you,

Or these kings did not exist;
Nor shall we ever cease to exist in the future.


Just as the Atma acquires a childhood body,
A youth body, and an old age body during this life,

Similarly Atma acquires another body after death.

The wise are not deluded by this.

The contacts of the senses with the sense objects

Give rise to the feelings of heat and cold,

And pain and pleasure.
They are transitory and impermanent.

Therefore, endure them, O Arjuna.


Because the calm person,

Who is not afflicted by these feelings

And is steady in pain and pleasure,

Becomes fit for immortality, O Arjuna.

There is no nonexistence of the Sat 
And no existence of the Asat.

The reality of these two
Is indeed certainly seen by the seers of truth.

Know That, by which all this is pervaded,

To be indestructible.

No one can destroy the indestructible.


Bodies of the eternal, imperishable,

And incomprehensible soul

Are said to be perishable.

Therefore, fight, O Arjuna.


The one who thinks that Atma is a slayer,

And the one who thinks that Atma is slain,

Both are ignorant,

Because Atma neither slays nor is slain.


The Atma is neither born

Nor does it die at any time,

nor having been it will cease to exist again.
t is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval.

The Atma is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.


O Arjuna, how can a person

Who knows that the Atma is indestructible, eternal,

Unborn, and imperishable,

kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed?


Just as a person puts on new garments

After discarding the old ones,
Similarly Atma acquires new bodies

After casting away the old bodies.


Weapons do not cut this Atma,

Fire does not burn it,

Water does not make it wet,

And the wind does not make it dry.


This Atma cannot be cut, burned, wetted, or dried up.
It is eternal, all pervading,

Unchanging, immovable, and primeval.


The Atma is said to be unmanifest,

Unthinkable, and unchanging.

Knowing this Atma as such you should not grieve.


If you think that this (body) takes birth

And dies perpetually, even then, O Arjuna,

You should not grieve like this.


Because, death is certain for the one who is born,

And birth is certain for the one who dies.

Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable.


All beings, O Arjuna, are unmanifest
Before birth and after death.
They are manifest between birth and death only.

What is there to grieve about?

Some look upon this Atma as a wonder,

Another describes it as wonderful,
And others hear of it as a wonder.

Even after hearing about it no one actually knows it.


O Arjuna, the Atma that dwells in the body of all (beings)

Is eternally indestructible.

Therefore, you should not mourn for any body.

Considering also your duty as a warrior

You should not waver.
Because there is nothing more auspicious

For a warrior than a righteous war.

People will talk about your disgrace forever. 

To the honored, dishonor is worse than death.


The great warriors will think

That you have retreated from the battle out of fear.

Those who have greatly esteemed you

Will lose respect for you.


Your enemies will speak many unmentionable words
And scorn your ability.

What could be more painful than this?


The wisdom of Saamkhya

Has been imparted to you, O Arjuna.
Now listen to the wisdom of Karma-yoga

Endowed with which you will free yourself

From the bondage of Karma.

In Karma-yoga no effort is ever lost,

And there is no harm.

Even a little practice of this discipline
Protects one from great fear.


Those who are resolute

Have only one thought (of Self-realization),

But the thoughts of the irresolute

Are endless and many-branched, O Arjuna.

Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna,
With your mind attached to the Lord,
Abandoning (worry and) attachment to the results,
And remaining calm in both success and failure.
The equanimity of mind is called Karma-yoga.

A Karma-yogi gets freedom
From both vice and virtue in this life itself.
Therefore, strive for Karma-yoga.
Working to the best of one's abilities
Without getting attached to the fruits of work
Is called (Nishkaama) Karma-yoga.

When your intellect,
That is confused by the conflicting opinions
And the ritualistic doctrine of the Vedas,
Shall stay steady and firm with the Self,
Then you shall attain Self-realization.

A person whose mind is unperturbed by sorrow,
Who does not crave pleasures, and who is free
From attachment, fear, and anger;
Such a person is called a sage of steady Prajna.

Those who are not attached to anything,
Who are neither elated by getting desired results
Nor troubled by undesired results,
Their Prajna is deemed steady.

When one can completely withdraw
The senses from the sense objects
As a tortoise withdraws its limbs,
Then the Prajna of such a person
Is considered steady.

Restless senses, O Arjuna,
Forcibly carry away the mind
Of even a wise person
Striving for perfection.

A disciplined person, enjoying sense objects
With senses that are under control
And free from likes and dislikes,
Attains tranquillity.

All sorrows are destroyed
Upon attainment of tranquillity.
The intellect of such a tranquil person
Soon becomes completely steady.

There is neither Self-knowledge nor Self-perception
To those whose senses are not under control.
Without Self-perception there is no peace;
And without peace there can be no happiness.

The mind, when controlled by the roving senses,
Steals away the Prajna as a storm takes away a boat
On the sea from its destination, the spiritual shore.

Therefore, O Arjuna,
One's Prajna becomes steady
Whose senses are completely withdrawn
From the sense objects.

A yogi is aware of the thing (or Atma)
About which others are unaware.
A sage who sees is unaware
Of the experience (of sense objects)
About which others are aware.

One attains peace in whose mind
All desires enter without creating any disturbance,
As river waters enter the full ocean
Without creating a disturbance.
One who desires material objects is never peaceful.

Chapter III

Arjuna said:
If You consider that transcendental knowledge
is better than work
Then why do You want me to engage
in this horrible war, O Krishna?

You seem to confuse my mind by apparently conflicting words.
Tell me, decisively, one thing by which I may attain the Supreme.

Krishna said:
In this world, O Arjuna, a twofold path of Sadhana has been stated by Me in the past.
The path of Self-knowledge (Jnana-yoga) for the contemplative,
And the path of unselfish work (Karma-yoga) for the active.

One does not attain freedom from the bondage of Karma
by merely abstaining from work.
No one attains perfection by merely giving up work.

Because no one can remain actionless even for a moment.
Everyone is driven to action, helplessly indeed,
by the Gunas of nature.

The deluded ones, who restrain their organs of action
but mentally dwell upon the sense enjoyment,
are called hypocrites.

The one who controls the senses by the mind and intellect,
and engages the organs of action to Nishkaama Karma-yoga,
is superior, O Arjuna.

Perform your obligatory duty,
because action is indeed better than inaction.
Even the maintenance of your body
would not be possible by inaction.

Human beings are bound by Karma
other than those done as Yajna (sacrifice).
Therefore, O Arjuna, do your duty efficiently
as a service or Seva to Me,
free from attachment to the fruits of work.

The one who does not help to keep the wheel of creation
in motion by sacrificial duty, and who rejoices in sense pleasures,
that sinful person lives in vain, O Arjuna.

The one who rejoices in the Self only,
who is satisfied with the Self,
who is content in the Self alone,
for such a (Self-realized) person there is no duty.

Such a person has no interest, whatsoever,
in what is done or what is not done.
A Self-realized person does not depend on anybody for anything.

Therefore, always perform your duty efficiently
and without attachment to the results,
because by doing work without attachment one attains the Supreme.

King Janaka and others attained perfection
by Karma-yoga alone.
You should perform your duty with a view to guide people
and for the universal welfare (of the society).

Because, whatever noble persons do, others follow.
Whatever standard they set up, the world follows.

Because, if I do not engage in action relentlessly,
O Arjuna, people would follow My path in every way.

These worlds would perish if I do not work,
and I shall be the cause of confusion and
destruction of all these people.

As the ignorant work, O Arjuna,
with attachment (to the fruits of work),
so the wise should work without attachment,
for the welfare of the society.

The wise should not unsettle the mind of the ignorant
who is attached to the fruits of work,
but the enlightened one should inspire others
by performing all works efficiently without attachment.

All works are being done by the Gunas of nature,
but due to delusion of ego
people assume themselves to be the doer.

The one who knows the truth, O Arjuna,
about the role of Guna and action
does not get attached to the work,
knowing that it is the Gunas that work
with their instruments, the organs.

Those who are deluded by the Gunas of nature
get attached to the works of the Gunas.
The wise should not disturb the mind of the ignorant
whose knowledge is imperfect.

But, those who carp at My teaching and do not practice it,
consider them as ignorant of all knowledge, senseless, and lost.

All beings follow their nature.
Even the wise act according to their own nature.
What, then, is the value of sense restraint?

Raga and Dvesha (or the attachments and aversions)
for the sense objects remain in the senses.
One should not come under the control of these two,
because they are two stumbling blocks, indeed,
on one's path of Self-realization.

One's inferior natural work is better
than superior unnatural work.
Death in carrying out one's natural work is useful.
Unnatural work produces too much stress.

Kama, the passionate desire
for all sensual and material pleasures,
becomes anger if it is unfulfilled. As the fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror by dust, and as an embryo by the amnion,
similarly the Self-knowledge gets obscured by Kama.

O Arjuna, Jnana gets covered by this insatiable fire of Kaama,
the eternal enemy of Jnani.

The senses, the mind, and the intellect
are said to be the seat of Kaama.
Kama, with the help of the senses,
deludes a person by veiling Jnana.

The senses are said to be superior,
the mind is superior to the senses,
the intellect is superior to the mind,
and Atma is superior to the intellect.

Thus, knowing the Atma to be superior to the intellect,
and controlling the mind by the intellect,
one must kill this mighty enemy, Kama, O Arjuna.

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A Reminder

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
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