51 Days Yoga Consciousness Series 2nd May-21st June 2021
Namaste All My Yoga Yaatris! May Yog Bless You!
Knowledge of Yoga is infinite, boundless and timeless. “Learning Yoga is an everlasting journey that leads you within and Within is where you find the world of immortal bliss”. –Mitraasha
The idea behind running this 51 Days Yoga Consciousness series is to proffer my modest learnings and share the divine pearls of Yoga science with people at large. Let’s have a conjoint intent to learn, implement and extend the wisdom of Yoga with a positive co-action and harmonious reverberation amongst each other.
Introduction to Shad-Darshans
Inquisitorial and curious people on the path of Yoga always want to know more about it’s roots and trails. Yoga being one of the pertinent 6 Indian philosophies, today’s topic of discussion includes them all summarily.
In Indian tradition, the word used for philosophy is Darshana. This word comes from the Sanskrit root drish (to see, to experience).
The Indian philosophies are divided into two classes, namely: Nastika (nonbelievers in the Vedas as supreme) and Astika (believers in the Vedas who accept the Vedas as an authoritative, important source of knowledge).
Among the hundreds of darshanas of Sanatan Dharam known through history there are six classical Astika philosophical systems , which are called Shad Darshan They are often spoken of in pairs: Nyaya- Vaisheshika, Sankhya- Yoga, Mimamsa- Vedanta. Each was scrupulously crafted in sutra form by the “founder,” and expanded in detailed commentaries by other commentators. They are considered as genuine trials at mentioning, teaching and painting the picture of truth and showing the path to it.
They largely talk about four concepts:
1.Presence and essence of Brahman, 2. Characteristics of the Jiva or the individual soul, 3. Inception of the world, 4. Liberation(Moksha) and the ways to achieve it.
Sankhya: Enumeration, reckoning, relating to numbers. Maharishi Kapila(5th century BC) is said to have perceived Samkhya for annihilating all afflictions and achieving liberation. The original Samkhya system has been lost but was anthologized by gathering all mentions about it in several other literatures. The only Samkhya works now available are Samkhya Sutras of Panchshikha and Samkhya Karika of Ishwar Krishna.
Sankhya is a realistic, dualistic and pluralistic philosophy.
- Realistic – jagat (world) is real in contrast to vedantic system of philosophy, which states that the world is unreal and evolved from the real (Brahman).
- Dualistic – it has two separate units/entities i.e. purush (jiva) & prakriti (nature).
- Pluralistic – it accepts the multitudinous purushs, not just one. When Jiva gains knowledge, it is detached from prakriti and turns eternally pure, i.e. it achieves mukti (liberation) from prakriti.
The Samkhya system particularizes 25 elements; the two principal ones being Purusha (consciousness or spirit) and Prakriti (everything that is not conscious). It regards the universe as made up of two independent entities: puruṣa (‘consciousness’) and prakṛti (‘matter’). These two realities subsist simultaneously without affecting each other. Amongst these, Purusha is unchangeable and Prakriti is made up of the three Gunas and is changeful.
Samkhya denotes that all matter (prakriti) has these three gunas, and in varied fractions. Each guna is domineering at specific times of day. The interaction of these gunas expound the qualities of someone or something, of nature and dictates the path of life ahead.
These gunas are:
Sattva: the guna of goodness, compassion, calmness and positivity.
Rajas: the guna of activity, chaos, passion and impulsivity, potentially good or bad.
Tamas: the guna of darkness, ignorance, dullness, laziness, lethargy and negativity.
Jiva (a living being) is that state in which purusha is connected to prakriti in some form.
It’s goal is to achieve vivek – that can help to distinguish between purusha and prakriti with the aid of the knowledge about 25 tattvas:
- Two tattvas are Purusha and Prakkrti. Prakṛti caused evolution of intellect which led further evolution.
- Internal instruments (3)- Intellect (Buddhi or Mahat), Ego-sense of self-consciousness (Ahamkāra), Mind (Manas)
- External instruments (10) – Five Sense organs (Jnānendriyas), Five Organs of action (Karmendriyas)
- Subtle elements Form (5) – (Rupa), Sound (Shabda), Smell (Gandha), Taste (Rasa), Touch (Sparsha).
- Gross elements (5) – Earth (Prithivi), Water (Jala), Fire (Agni), Air (Vāyu), Ether (Ākāsha).
When Sattva predominates, Ahamkara evolves into ten Indriyas (sense organs) e.g., five Karmendriyas (organs of action) and five Jnanendriyas (organs of perception) – which gets instructions from Manas (supervisor of the senses). When Tamas is predominant, Ahamkara expand into five Tanmatras (rudimentary or subtle elements), which further evolve into the five Mahabhutas – Prithvi, Jal, Tejas, Vayu and Akasha. These Pancha-mahabhutas (five great elements) are the grossest evolutes of Prakriti and the entire material world is amalgamations of them. Purusha is pure consciousness, absolute, eternal and subject to no change. It is neither a product of evolution, nor the cause of any evolute. Prakṛti stays unmanifested as long as the three gunas – sattva, rajas & tamas – are in equipollence. The equilibrium of the gunas is disordered when prakṛti comes into contiguity with consciousness or Purusha. The imbalance of the gunas activates an transmogrification which leads to the materialization of the world from an unmanifested prakṛti. The mind and the thoughts that appear in the mind are also counted as a part of prakriti. If Sattva increases, Rajas & Tamas decrease and vice versa.The universe, as per Sankhya, is one that is created by purusha-prakriti entities pervading with different amalgams of variedly recapitulated elements, senses, feelings, activity and mind.
During the state of imbalance, one or more constituents overwhelm the others, creating a form of bondage, particularly of the mind. The end of this imbalance and bondage is called liberation or Kaivalya by the Samkhya school.
Bigger picture indicates the impermanence of the material world and shows how short lived, transient and vagrant the characteristics of this world are and is not worth the agony one adheres to to live here. The real self is free from all this and hence ‘be the Purusha you are’ teaches Samkhya.
Yoga is said to be the tool for attaining the state of liberation which is mentioned so highly by Samkhya. Samkhya and Yoga, both follow similar cosmology, inherent characteristics and the final objective.
It is also known as Raja yoga-king of yoga or Ashtanga yoga- eight-limbed yoga. Its main aim is to attain willingly the state where all fluctuations of mind/consciousness ceases and Self Realization becomes possible. Yoga largely strives to put the high philosophy into practice in order to transform self through transcendental experience and reach the state of samadhi.
Work by the sage Patanjali is dated to 250 BC and is considered the pioneer matter on Yoga. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali stands alone as the most authentic and well founded book on Yoga. It is created in the form of Sutra (the most condensed form of literature, a rare ancient style of writing). It exhibits 195 Sutras (aphorisms) divided into four Padas (chapters). In this ardently precise format, sage Patanjali shared the eminent philosophical ideals and principles of Yoga. In its format of rendition, it is a phenomenal work ever produced. The four Padas (chapters) are:
1. Samadhi Pada : gives out the primordial nature of mind (Chitta) , its Vrittis and some powerful tools to achieve Chitta Vritti nirodha.
2. Sadhana Pada : Discusses about the nature of Klesha (sufferings) and shares the technique called Kriya yoga to conquer the Klesha; it mentions in detail about Ashtanga yoga.
3. Vibhuti Pada : Mentions Samadhi as a way to encounter true knowledge and some supernatural powers attainable on the way to a higher objective termed as kaivalya-liberation.
4. Kaivalya Pada : Deals in depth with the philosophical problems concerning the study and practice of Yoga. It also throws light on how the state of Kaivalya (liberation) may be attained and what may transpire of such a state of Pure Consciousness.
Talking further of Ashtanga Yoga ,it consists of eight steps. First two being Yama and Niyama are considered as the moral training, devoid of which hardly any practice of Yoga will succeed. Once established, the practitioner will start to reap good results of his practice and can see furtherance on the path of yoga. Third and fourth steps are Asanas(practising postures) and Pranayamas( guiding breath) which when practiced well allows one to advance to the fifth step which is Pratyahara: restraint of the senses from their objects. Sixth step is Dharna which is fixing the mind on the spot. Seventh step is Dhyana, well known as meditation and eight and last step/stage is Samadhi, which is superconsciousness and this is the ultimate aim of most yogis.
The bhāsya (commentary) of Vyasa is the primary source obtainable explanation of the sutra and is considered by several Yoga scholars as the absolute expounding and elucidation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Several other interpretations of Sutras followed later but they were often shadowed with the thought process and personal beliefs of the commentator. However, the commentary of Swami Hariharanand Aranya can be referred to as a purer and more authentic source in this context.
System, rule, logic is how Nyay Darshan can be referred to as. A system propounded by Akshapad Gautam son of rishi (sage) Deeraghatama in 4th Century, known for its systems of logic reasoning and epistemology concerning the ways of acquiring correct knowledge lay stress on cultivation of logic as an art. It stated that human pains were the outcome of the errors/mistakes occurring by actions performed under wrong knowledge (notions and ignorance). Whereas Moksha (liberation),can be attained through right knowledge.
The prominent objective of life is mentioned as attainment of Apavarga (liberation) or Moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth). Nyaya sutras do not agree with the idea of positive, unbroken everlasting bliss. It is understood rather as denial of the absolute absence of sorrow and suffering. It noted that since the extent of pain and pleasure is always there in life due to the relationship of the mind with the senses and the objects, there can never be a state of pure pleasure, pure happiness or bliss without pain. This is the science of thought behind the negation doctrine. Man can achieve liberation by gaining Tatvagyan (knowledge of the essence underlying everything) or the knowledge that the individual is the spirit other than the body, mind and all the senses. For this to happen, one should practice the three-fold Sadhana, which comprises
1. Shravana – listening to the spiritual instructions about the Soul or Atman
2. Manana – reflecting on the same and establishing that knowledge firmly in the mind.
3. Nididhyasana – meditation on that knowledge. This will destroy Mithyajnana (false knowledge). Then the person ceases to be attached by passion and impulses, which would have otherwise led to pain, suffering and sorrow.
It attempts to prove Parmatma’s existence basis the following expostulation:
- World is an effect that requires a coherent cause (by knowledge & power). That is parmatma.
- There is orderliness in the manifested world. It reflects an intelligent formation. As the creator of this scheme, as a manager of its physical order, Parmatama must exist.
- Akin to the physical order, a moral order too exists, which apportion fairness and equity as per the deservingness, deducing that there has to be a moral governor too. He is paramatma.
- And to add to the same line of thought substantially it is also a fact that no atheist has been able to prove as yet the non-existence of paramatma.
- Paramatma is incognito from jivatma. Based on past karmas of jivatmas, paramatma originates, protects and destroys the universe and re-constructs it.
- Ultimate aim of a Spiritual follower is determining truth by soliciting the 16 categories: padaraths
- Praman-means of knowledge
- Prameya-objects of inquiry
- Siddhant-established principles
- Avayava-inference premise
- Vad-decisive ascertainment
- Jalpa-arguing constructively and destructively
- Vitanda-mere destructive argument of the opposition
- Hetvabhasa-but not deducing based on faulty beliefs
- Chala-deception, humbug
- Jati-pointless demural
The number of means of knowledge (pramans) under Nyaya system are four namely Pratyaksh (perception), Anuman (inference), Upaman (comparison) and Shabda (testimony, may be vedic or by trustworthy authority).
Rishi Kanada, also known as Uluka (owl), founded Vaisheshika Darshana (ca 300 bce). Hence, it is also called Aulukya Darshana.
Vaisheshika, is also referred to as Naturalism or Atomism. This philosophy states that liberation is to be attained through understanding the nature of existence, which is distinguished through nine basic realities (dravyas): earth, water, light, air, ether, time, space, soul and mind.
Uluka led an ascetic life. He used to live on Kanas (grains) he collected in the fields after harvest. The basic text is Vaishesika Sutras of Maharishi Kananda. It is divided into ten Adhyayas (chapters), each containing two sections. It has 374 sutras in all.
It proposed that all objects in the physical universe are deductible to paramāṇu (atoms), and one’s life experiences arrive from the interchanging of substances (a function of atoms, and their count and spatial arrangements), quality, activity, commonness, particularity and inherence. And liberation is hence achieved through understanding this nature of such existence.
The earliest exposition of this work is Padartha Dharma Sangraha of Prasastipada. Nyaya Kandali of Sridhara, Vyoma Vati of Vyomasiva and Kairanavali of Udayana are well known commentaries of Prasastipada.
Nyaya and Vaisheshika are offered as a complementary pair, with Nyaya propagating logic, and Vaisheshika scrutinising the nature of the world.
Vaisheshika Darshan deals with the following aspects:
Dravya (substance): There are 9 substances – pṛthvī (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire), vāyu (air), ākaśa (ether), kāla (time), dik (space), ātman (self or soul) and manas (mind). The first five are called bhūtas, the substances having some specific qualities so that they could be perceived by one or the other external senses.
Guṇa (quality): The Vaiśeṣika Sūtra mentions 17 guṇas (qualities), to which Praśastapāda added another 7. While a substance is capable of existing independently by itself, a guṇa(quality) cannot exist so. The original 17 guṇas (qualities) are, rūpa (colour), rasa (taste), gandha (smell), sparśa (touch), saṁkhyā (number), parimāṇa (size/dimension/quantity), pṛthaktva (individuality), saṁyoga (conjunction/accompaniments), vibhāga (disjunction), paratva (priority), aparatva (posteriority), buddhi (knowledge), sukha (pleasure), duḥkha (pain), icchā (desire), dveṣa (aversion) and prayatna (effort). To these Praśastapāda added gurutva (heaviness), dravatva (fluidity), sneha (viscosity), dharma (merit), adharma (demerit), śabda (sound) and saṁskāra (faculty).
Karma (activity): The karmas (activities) like guṇas (qualities) have no separate existence, they belong to the substances. But while a quality is a permanent feature of a substance, an activity is a transient one. Ākāśa (ether), kāla (time), dik (space) and ātman (self), though substances, are devoid of karma (activity).
Sāmānya (generality): Since there is a plurality of substances, there will be relations among them. When a property is found common to many substances, it is called sāmānya.
Viśeṣa (particularity): By means of viśeṣa, we are able to perceive substances as different from one another. As the ultimate atoms are innumerable, so are the viśeṣas.
Samavāya (inherence): Kaṇāda defined samavāya as the relation between the cause and the effect. Praśastapāda defined it as the relationship existing between the substances that are inseparable, standing to one another in the relation of the container and the contained. The relation of samavāya is not perceivable but only inferable from the inseparable connection of the substances. It accepted only two reliable means to knowledge: perception and inference.
Mimamsa (Purva Mimamsa)
Purva Mimamsa:Inquiry (also known as Karma Mimamsa or Karma Kanda), Ritualism. Founded by Jaimini (ca 200 bce), author of the Mimamsa Sutras, who taught the correct performance of Vedic rites ((Samhitas and Brahmanas)as the means to liberation.
The Vedas are used as mantras for performing sacrifices. The only philosophical part is the preliminary part that has speculations about the external world, soul, perception, inference and validity of the Vedas. This serves as rational ground to its mantras and their practical utility for man. Two other great names who contributed in this field are Kumarila Bhatta whose work is called Bhatta-mata, and Prabhakara whose work is called Prabhakara-mata (sarcastically referred to by his masters as Guru-Mata, due to the critical nature of his view). The Hindu Law (Smriti) accepts the maxims and principles in Mimamsa.
As also termed as Karma Kand, based on that Karma is largely divided into five types as follows:
- Nitya Karma – Daily Obligatory Duties
- Naimittika Karma – Occasional Obligatory duties
- Kamya Karma – Rites done to attain desired results like Jyotistoma Yoga for reaching Heaven
- Prayaschitta Karma – Rites for expiation of sins
- Nishidha Karma – Forbidden action like killing, drinking etc
Vedanta (Uttar Mimamsa)
The Vedanta Sutras (also called Brahma-Sutras or Uttar Mimamsa) were espoused and written down by Badarayana(400 BC). Vedanta (or Uttara “later” Mimamsa or Jnana Kanda): Jñānakāṇḍa talks about meditation, reflection and knowledge of Self, Oneness, Brahman (the Upaniṣads said to be 108). “End (or culmination) of the Vedas.” The name Vedanta Sutras refers to these being summarised statements of the general view of Upanishads. The first four Sutras called Catuh Sutras are the only philosophical ones. The rest are either justifying Vedas, or attacking the attackers of Vedas, or interpretations of individual Upanishads. For Vedanta, the main basis is the Upanishads and Aranyakas, rather than the hymns and ritual portions of the Vedas. The teaching of Vedånta is that there is one Absolute Reality, Brahman. Man is one with Brahman, and the object of life is to realize that truth through right knowledge, intuition and personal experience.
There are various commentaries on the Vedanta. However, post Buddhistic commentators are Shankara (Advaita, non-dualistic form), Ramanuja (Vishishtadvait, qualified non-dualistic form), Nimbark (Dvaitavait), Madhava (Dvait, dualistic form) and Vallabh (Shuddhadvaita).
Thought of the day: “Freedom of the soul is the goal of all Yogas”-Swami Vivekananda
Link to Day 03: Aims of Yoga & Myths About Yoga https://kreately.in/51-days-yoga-consciousness-series-2nd-may-21st-june-2021-yogmitraasha-day-03/
Link to day 05: Four Paths of Yoga https://kreately.in/51-days-yoga-consciousness-series-2nd-may-21st-june-2021-mitraasha-day-05/
The complete works of Swami Vivekananda, Mayavati Memorial Edition
Rishis, Mystics & Heros of India volume 1 by Sadhu Mukundcharandas.
Pantanjali yogpradeep by Shri Omanand Teerth, published by Gita press Gorakhpur.
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