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October 28, 2007
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October 28, 2007

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Home > 2007 Issues > October 28, 2007


Understanding Yoga

Book Reviews by Manju Gupta

Sadhakas: Yoga Cyclopaedia, Vol. IV, The Yoga Institute, 160 pp, Rs 200.00

With increase in consumerism and materialism, the Earth has been so affected that after enjoying all the business and ephemeral satisfaction that consumerism can bring, people are in increasing numbers turning to mysticism and yoga. Before we discuss the book under review, there are certain questions that are likely to arise in our mind and these include what is the difference between a yogi and a mystic? Are the terms yoga and mysticism synonymous? Is mysticism a kind of yoga among the many other types of yoga?

It is here that this volume tries to demystify the mystery surrounding the words yogi and ?mysticism?. ?Mysticism? is derived from the word ?mystic? and is the branch of philosophy that explores the experiences, behaviour pattern and conduct of mystics. Patanjali, who wrote on the importance of yoga, has said that perseverance, disinterestedness and surrender unto the will of the Lord are the hallmarks of a mystic. Perseverance grows as a result of strong motivation and determination. A mystic is expected to be free from the five klesas (afflictions), like ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and love of life and has to follow the code of yama and niyama, i.e. social and individual conduct.

This volume gives an extensive description of the qualities the mystics possessed and substantiates the information by explaining in detail how every sadhaka can develop and inculcate some of the qualities that mystics possess. Here Patanjali has been liberally quoted as he had explained beautifully the essential relation between the Creator and His mayavic creation.

The quality of spiritual search depends on the level of motivation when chitta has to make effort to isolate and dissolve itself. Ultimately the self becomes detached from the objects of the senses. Joyful consciousness of the transcendent order returns in an enhanced form. The spiritual search begins with one?s daily routine and lifestyle and ends with ?isolation from everything that is foreign to itself, from all that, that is not God.?

Yoga on the other hand, is the oldest order of ?self-culture? as codified in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It is the discipline, which works on all those aspects which prepare the body and mind to gain a mystical experience. Yoga holds that our well-being depends on understanding our nature and has two components?material and spiritual. To remain at the sattvic, or subtle, level, a person has to develop bhavas or attitudes within himself and these include dharma or the attitude of joy, jnana or the attitude of knowledge, vairagya or the attitude of detachment and aisvarya or the attitude of self-efficacy and confidence.

The volume can be read if you have become tired of the world and need a break from the humdrum of life.

(The Yoga Institute, Santacruz (East), Mumbai-400 055.)

Satyapal Duggal (Dr): Yoga Education: What, Why and How?

Vidya Bharati, 212 pp, Rs 45.00

Yoga, the most ancient science of India, is a conscious process of gaining mastery over the mind that helps us to manifest the innate potentialities lying dormant in all of us. Sage Patanjali says that yoga is the cessation of all thought waves of the chitta, which has four aspects ? ego, intellect, consciousness and unconscious. The unconscious mind is the root of all troubles, where all the filtered impressions of the senses are deposited. Yoga places its emphasis on this unconscious mind while stressing the need of educating and purifying it.

Realising this secret, people in Western countries are practicing yoga in one form or the other to get rid of stress, strain and lead a peaceful life. But in India, we are neglecting this great science, which is highly important in this mechanical, polluted and unhealthy competitive life. Yoga is specifically important for students who need to be helped to acquire proper concentration, good memory and ?a sound mind in a sound body?, says the author.

The book explains what yoga?s aims are?cleanliness of the body, prana, mind and intellect; alignment of the means with the objective; recreation; be settled in oneself; be firm in the righteousness; and clear understanding of duty; practice and detachment; knowledge, light and bliss; reduction of ego and enlargement of the sphere of identification.

Dr Duggal explains the correlation between yoga and education and what annamaya is (it is a storehouse of urine and excreta or the abode of God) and the asanas and food to be adopted for its proper functioning. He talks about the pranamaya kosha which is bio-energy; the manomaya kosha which includes the mind, intellect, ego and chitta; vijaanamaya or the light of wisdom; yaja or knowledge and insight.

The book covers important aspects of yoga but the value of the book would have been adequately enhanced if Dr Duggal had given step-by-step instructions on performing the various asanas required for training in character-building, keeping good physical and mental health, developing good thinking capacity and concentration for attaining ananda (bliss) through samadhi. This would make the student worthy of competing in any type of challenge physically, mentally, intellectually to achieve the higher goals.

(Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan, G.L. Trihan Saraswati Bal Mandir, Nehru Nagar, M.G. Road, New Delhi-110 065.)

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