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The Gita and Yoga

Brahman. This is, however, a scheme of yoga quite different from that of Patanjali, as well as from that of the Gita. The Trishikha-brahmana speaks of a yoga with eight accessories (ashtanga-yoga), where the eight accessories, though the same in name as the eight accessories of Patanjali, are in reality different therefrom. Thus yama here means want of attachment (vairagya), niyama means attachment to the ultimate reality (anuraktih pare tattve), asana means indifference to all things, prana-samyamana means the realization of the falsity of the world, pratyahara means the inwardness of the mind, dharana means the motionlessness of the mind, dhyana means thinking of oneself as pure consciousness, and samadhi means forgetfulness of dhyanas. Yet it again includes within its yama and niyama almost all the virtues referred to by Patanjali. It also speaks of a number of postures after the hatha yoga fashion, and of the movement of prana in the nerve plexuses, the ways of purifying the nerves and the processes of breath control. The object of yoga is here also the destruction of mind and the attainment of kaivalya. The Darshana gives an ashtanga yoga with yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi more or less after the fashion of Patanjali, with a supplementary treatment of nerves (nadi) and the movement of the prana and other vayus in them. The final object of yoga here is the attainment of Brahmahood and the comprehension of the world as maya and unreal. The Dhyana-bindu describes the self as the essential link of all things, like the fragrance in flowers or the thread in a garland or the oil in sesame. It describes a shad-anga yoga with asana, prana-samrodha, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. It also describes the four chakras or nerve plexuses, and speaks of the awakening of the serpent power (kundalini) and the practice of the mudras. It speaks further of the balancing or unifying of prana and apana as leading to yoga. The object of this yoga is the attainment of the transcendent state of liberation or the realization of the paramatman. It is useless to refer to other Upanishads; for what has already been said will be enough to show clearly that the idea of Yoga in the Gita is entirely different from that in the Yoga Upanishads, most of which are of comparatively late date and are presumably linked up with traditions different from that of the Gita.

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