Tag Archives: Yoga

The Yoga Marga to Freedom

The western world has made the word “Yoga” very fashionable.  Since lot of celebrities now endorse as an essential part of their lifestyle,  it seems that this path is really popular.  But contrary to what one labels as Yoga, the principles and practices as described by Sage Patanjali are very profound.

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How does this Marga work in our quest for liberation, freedom?  And freedom from what?   The ancient philosophers had already worked out that the self is Supreme and all the other things which bond us, restrict us is Maya.  But the stranglehood of Maya deludes us from the truth. The prescription to transcend this is called Yoga.   The Sanskrit meaning for Yoga is Union. Is it Union with the self?  But aren’t we united already?   Yes, in the broader sense, we are.  But somewhere the disconnection arises because of the delusions cast by Maya.

Ignorance of that brings darkness.  Moving from the darkness to light that we are is Yoga.  The self is illuminated, powerful and yet we suffer.

So let’s begin on this path of Yoga. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called Ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb). These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life, directed at the ultimate bliss of the self.. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one’s health; and they help us to connect with the ultimate reality of self.  The eight limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

The eight fold approach need not be sequential. In fact, they are supporting processes.  For eg. Practicising Niyama helps in Asanas, and practicing Asanas helps in Dhyana.   The ultimate goal is Samadhi – being one without any effort, in bliss and with complete transcendence, united with the Self.

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The description sounds exotic, but in reality, we do attain Samadhi, albeit for a very small period of time.  The pleasure of Samadhi has been described as 1000 times more than that of a sexual orgasm.  Osho, in his book from Sambhog to Samadhi, describes how man seeks sexual pleasure not knowing that he is seeking Samadhi!!!

Where does one start?  Just imagine your journey has eight options. Which one would you choose? It can get confusing.   The physical plane is the easiest one to relate to.   Start with practicing Hatha Yoga and learn a few Pranayama’s. With gradual practice, one starts observing the other principles also.

The obstacles in this path can be many.  The worldly pleasures are likely to sway one’s mind back and away from the path.  It takes continuous remembrance and patience to stay on this path.   The ultimate treasure of freedom is not at the end of the path but the very path itself.    But one stops walking, and the treasure is gone.

Yoga in a sense – is the knowledge of Oneness in everything.  As Patanjali says in one Verse,

Tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam

Living through this stage of Yoga, reveals the Seer or the Self, in its most brilliant form.

sculptor at work

A way to understand Yoga is the analogy of a sculptor working through the stone.  It is the removal of the unwanted material which brings out the statue.  The sculptor doesn’t add anything!  Similarly, the practice of Yoga removes the unwanted materials (read the Samskara’s or the impressions of the mind) which block the Self.

You are the diamond which needs to be cut and polished!! That’s this path about…Are you yet ready to shine?

By Vikas Bhatia

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The Karma Marga – Perfection in Action!

Most Actions have a binding effect.  That in sense is the design to keep the world moving in perpetuity.  For example, winning a race would seem perfect, but even that has its own baggage.   The baggage could be some rivals getting jealous, loss of privacy etc.   Similarly, losing itself produces its own side effects.   So results arising out of actions bring about some bondage.

It is then very rare to find people performing actions which would not bind them.   What are such actions and how does one perform them?  Can one in the current scheme of things be really able to do something without having the bondage out of results?  Can a CEO of any organization be not bound by the results of his actions?

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The key in this is expectation.  Results by itself don’t bind oneself.  It’s the expectations from the results which create attachment and bondage. How can one not have expectations?  While it is just natural to have them, it has and will continue to be the root of this bondage. What would be the way of reigning in the expectations?

Krishna in the Bhagwad Gita advises the Despondent Arjuna – to not worry about the results (fruits) of one’s actions, and just surrender the act into Him.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:

“tasmad asaktah satatam karyam karma samacara asakto he acaran karma param apnoti purushah”

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Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty always, for by working without attachment only one attains the Supreme.

Another perspective is to do things for the collective Good – That is called Yagna. Whenever such acts are performed for unselfish benefits, the act is deemed to burn the bondages of Karma. Unfortunately, even though they perform good deeds – people do get caught up in the results.  Often, good people want respect and appreciation and that in itself is bondage.

In the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, the character Phaedrus describes the difference between planned acts and spontaneous acts, the latter which are being performed without any measure of expectation.  An arduous mountain expedition with its rigor when performed as a pilgrimage has a different quality to the same act of climbing the mountain.   There is no baggage of expectations.  It certainly is uplifting even though physically it brings the same amount of tiredness.  The spirit of doing the latter act is that of Joy.

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So what’s the verdict – Joy is freeing the mind from its own bondages.  Joy is in doing the act.  Joy is not outside the action.   When every small act is done joyfully, without the mind paraphernalia, it brings freedom. That is perfection in action – perfect because the perfection in the being is expressed through the act. Not of the mind.

The Yoga happens as a result of the mind not being caught up in the results of the act. That is Karma Yoga – the perfect action – free from any bondage – joyfully and effortlessly.

True Karma Yogis never look back at successes or failures – because that doesn’t matter to them.  They have done the action out of joy, and it is over. Period. The world will definitely analyze their actions, and results, but it will not bother them, because they are enjoying the game, not the results.

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Sachin Tendulkar epitomizes this through the love for the game. It is the love which keeps him going even though his body and mind now are not so agile.

Are you ready to face every ball that is bowled at you for the sheer joy of facing the delivery? Are you ready to be a Karma Yogi?

By Vikas Bhatia 

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On a treasure hunt of Self

Yes….I Know it now….The power of my being resides in myself.    There is nowhere else to go.  I and I alone can access it.   For years I believed that the keys to this treasure were somewhere far, in some distant exotic land and inaccessible unless one crosses the towering mountain cliffs and battles the devilish seas.   Now I know the journey is simpler, maybe there is no journey at all.   And the treasure awaits me.

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So what is this treasure?  Why is still hidden?  And where are the keys? 

An ancient saying goes that God was often heckled by Man and his incessant requests.   Then God approached a wise Saint and wanted to know if there was someplace he could hide and be away from these constant demands.   Apparently wherever God went, Man would chase him and find him.  The saint advised God to take refuge in Man’s own heart.   That is one place he will never search for God!!

Aaah, so this treasure called Self or God is just there. In your heart and my heart…And so beautifully concealed that even with eyes wide open we just fail to notice.  And if and when we do, we might just dismiss is as irrational exalted state.   And then once again the doors shut and we wonder what next.

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Just like for any treasure hunt, Man has been looking for the clues to this treasure.  Many have found it, and some have come very close.  It is time millions find it too.   But unlike the treasures for which the kings explored lands, this one is endless and limitless.   This treasure is something everyone can have and yet it will grow.   So what are the clues?

First of all just know that it is just there waiting for you.   Recognize that.  And you are that treasure.  So it is not removed from you.  It is part of you and you are part of it.    And all that you require is to remember this!!  So simple!!   Yet the myriad schemes the mind will come up with will take you away from this.  That’s the fake treasure called Maya.   Remembrance of the real treasure was always there, and yet the wily mind made it sound unreal.

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Sage Ashtavakra told King Janaka in the Ashtawakra Gita –

muktabhimani mukto hi

baddho baddhabhimany api .

“You are what you think.”

If you think you are bound you are bound.

If you think you are free you are free.

The biggest fallacy is that the treasure is bound.  It is not.   Even the layers are illusionary.  The master sword of awareness of the supreme consciousness is all it takes to reach to this treasure.  The highest knowledge is the knowledge of the self.  And that is the treasure.

Jesus, Buddha and other enlightened Masters have shown the way to this treasure.

4 keys

Bhagwad Gita describes the four keys or ways to this treasure.   Gyan Marga,  Bhakti Marga,  Karma Marga and  Yoga Marga.   All Margas lead to the ultimate treasure of Kaivalya, freedom.  You can start anywhere and you are guaranteed this treasure.   Amazing isn’t it.    Where do you want to start?

By Vikas Bhatia 

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