Creation According to Hinduism

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The Material Creation
The material creation in its very first stage is called pradhana – the eternal, subtle, undifferentiated sum total of all material elements, the unmanifested eternal combination of the three modes of material nature.

Pradhana is sometimes also related to as saguna-Brahman, since it is basically Brahman but with the presence of the three modes of material nature. Nevertheless, these modes do not yet clearly manifest causes and effects (SB 3.26.10).

The pradhana contains the following 24 elements in a dormant state:

– 5 subtle elements (sound, touch, form-color, taste)
– 5 gross elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth)
– 5 knowledge aquiring senses (ears, skin, eyes, tongue, nose)
– 5 working senses (tongue-mouth, hands, legs, genital, anus)
– 4 internal, subtle senses (mind, intelligence, ego, contaminated consciousness)

Time is considered to be the 25th element; it is the mixing and agitating element. The Supreme Personality of Godhead can be perceived as time (SB 3.26.11-18).

The pradhana or saguna-Brahman becomes then agitated by the time factor which represents the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus and by the influence of the three modes of material nature the creation comes to the level of mahat-tattva, or prakrti, where the elements actually can manifest themselves. The mahat-tattva is the breeding source of all varieties and brings forth all the different material bodies and material objects; it contains all the universes and is the root of all cosmic manifestations. The mahat-tattva is annihilated at the time of the annihilation, the end of Brahma’s life.

Next the Supreme Personality of Godhead impregnates the mahat-tattva with His internal potency which are the living entities. Agitated by the destinations of the contitioned souls the material nature, or mahat-tattva, delivers the cosmic intelligence (Hiranyamaya). The mahat-tattva is thus “lit up” by the sum total of the consciousness of all the conditioned souls (SB 3.26.19-20).

The Caturvyuha expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, namely Sri Vasudeva, Sri Aniruddha, Sri Pradyumna and Sri Sankarshana occur and take charge of various aspects of the material creation.

In the beginning pure goodness, the vasudeva stage of consciousness, prevails within the mahat-tattva. This point of creation is controlled by Sri Vasudeva, the Superknower. Due to the pure goodness the consciousness has the qualities of complete serenity, clarity and freedom from any distraction; one is free from the infringement by material desires. Therefore one can see a reflection of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and if one worships Sri Vasudeva one can come to the platform of pure goodness (suddha-sattva), thus understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead (SB 3.26.21).

Through the desire to enjoy and control seperately from Krishna, the misuse of independence by the living entities which are impregnated into the material nature, material ego or false ego is caused to spring up from the mahat-tattva in pure goodness. This false ego is endowed with active power of three kind – good (serene), passionate (active), ignorant (dull). From the false ego in different modes of material nature mind, senses, elements as well as all the other ingredients and objects of the material nature are produced. Therefore every object within the material creation is seen as identical with false ego since it has the false ego as its source. Sri Sankarshana controls that false ego and in order to become free from it one is adviced to worship Sri Sankarsana. He is worshipped through Lord Siva; the snakes which cover the body of Lord Shiva are representations of Sri Sankarsna, and Lord Shiva is always absorbed in meditation upon Sri Sankarshana (SB 3.26.23-24).

From the false ego in goodness come the controlling demigods as well as the mind. The mind has the quality of not being fixed; due to different kind of desires for sense gratification the mind rejects something as bad and accepts something else as good. The false ego in goodness is controlled by Sri Aniruddha. If one wants to get free from mental disturbances, one has to worship Sri Aniruddha. For this purpose, worship of the moon planet is also recommended in the Vedic literature (SB 3.26.26-27).

From the false ego in passion intelligence, living energy (prana), the five knowledge aquiring sense and the five working senses are created. Intelligence has five qualities: doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory and sleep. The function of intelligence is to ascertain the nature of an object and thus help the senses to make choices. The intelligence is supposed to control or guide the senses. By intelligence one can understand how things are and if intelligence is properly applied one’s consciousness becomes expanded. This begins with doubt, the first quality of intelligence. One doubts whether ones existence is spiritual or material. Doubt is a very important factor in developping intelligence, eventhough doubting is improper after receiving information from an authoritative source. Through proper analysis one then finds that things are different from what they seemed to be so far; thus misapprehension, the second quality of intelligence, is detected. Next, after eliminating the wrong understanding one can come to the proper conclusion; this is called correct apprehension, the third quality of intelligence. In this way by intelligence one can understands that one is not the body and one’s consciousness becomes expanded; expansion of consciousness culminates in pure Krishna-consciousness. Beyond the intelligence’s three qualities of doubt, misapprehension and correct apprehension there are also the qualities of memory and sleep. In order to keep the intelligence working properly one must sleep. For being fixed in one’s intelligence one has to worship Sri Pradyumna, who is reached through the worship of Lord Brahma.

Directly related to intelligence in their function are the knowledge acquiring senses which are: Ears, skin, eyes, nose and the tongue.

With the working senses action are performed; there are five working senses as well: Tongue (mouth, speaking), hands, legs, genitals and the anus.

Both, the knowledge acquiring senses and the working senses are depending on the living energy (vital energy, prana), which is also created from the false ego in the mode of passion. The more a person is influenced by the mode of passion the more he can accomplish and acquire. The Vedic scriptures recommend that if one wants to encourage a person in acquiring material possessions, one should also encourage him in sex life. Thus one can see that those who are addicted to sex life are also materially advanced. Sex life or passionate life is the impetus for the material advancement of civilization (SB 3.26.29).

From the false ego in ignorance the five subtle and gross elements, from whom all (perceivable) objects within the material world are made, become manifested; it is presided over by Sri Sankarsana. Therefore persons who are very dull and very much absorbed in the gross material world worship Lord Shiva who is connected with Sri Sankarsana, in order to obtain gross material sense objects. When the false ego in ignorance is agitated by the sex energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, first the subtle element sound is manifested. The original and very first sound within the creation is the omkara, “OM”, being the sound representation of the Supreme Personality’s Brahman aspect. From sound comes the gross element ether as well as the sense of hearing. Sound has the quality of conveying the idea of an object; therefore it is considered to be the subtle form of an object. Further sound indicates the presence of a speaker, eventually screened form our view, and it also constitutes the subtle form of ether (SB 3.26.32-33).

Ether has the qualities of accommodating the room for external and internal existences of all living entities, the field of activity of the vital air, the senses and the mind.

Ether means room or space, and it evolves from sound vibration. Thus form the original sound vibration “om” the room was created within which the manifestation of the gross elements like air, fire, water and earth (the universe) can take place. In general the ether or sky gives accommodation to the room which the various material bodies of the living entities need for their external and internal existence. The internal existence of a living entity in the material world comprises of vital air (prana), senses and the mind. These ingredients require for their functioning subtle forms which are invisible and rest within ether. In this way ehter accommodates the internal existence of the living entities within the material world. With external existence everything is meant that stands in relation with material objects which are external to the material body. By means of sound vibration, talking about a particular object, the subtle form of that object, which sound carries, is created within the mind. These subtle and invisible forms of material objects are given a room within the ether and this is called the external activity of ether. That within ether subtle, invisible forms of material sense objects can exist has been proven by modern science by transmission of television where forms as pictures are transmitted from one place to another by wireless means (SB 3.26.34). Thus it is seen that mental activities or psychological action in terms of thinking, feeling and willing are activities on the ethereal platform. This is very important in relation to the moment of death. On the basis of its reflections (which are influenced by sound vibrations) the mind generates desires for obtaining various sense objects. In fact these desires are unlimited and they all create subtle forms within ether. An of course, they all result in various bodies in order to enjoy these desired situations (desiring a sense object indirectly means desiring all the tools to enjoy it) which are accommodated in their subtle form within ether as well. In this way one can, and in fact by every minute’s desires one actually does create an unlimited number of bodies within the ether, all well equipped to become manifested on the gross level. At the moment when one particular body perishes the opportunity for one of all the subtle forms kept within ether arises to become manifested on the gross plane. This happens according to the level of contamination or desire which was most prominent within the mind at the moment of death. All this is described by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (8.5-8).

From the above it becomes clear that the evolution of various material elements is not something that takes place only once, at the moment of creation. The description of the primary creation is rather a general scheme by which matter is manifested in general, at the moment when creation starts as well as at any stage of the existence of the material manifestation. The difference is, however, that at the beginning of creation the sum total of each element was taken from a dormant state, the pradhana, and made available by the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas later, when the living entities “create” while pursuing various desires they simply receive supplies from that sum total of the material elements.

From ethereal existence, under the influence of time, the subtle element touch and thence air and the sense of touch become manifested.

After creating subtle forms in the mind which are accommodated in the ether, time separates us from the manifestation of gross forms which we can touch. By the influence of the mode of passion, which is related to air (movement), we endeavor to manifest the form on the gross level. Our sense of proprietorship over action (passion) is due to the activity of air within the material body. Consequently, we will “get in touch” with the gross form of what now is a wishful thought in the mind in due course of time.

Yoga : Origin, Principles, Practice and Types

Yoga is a family of ancient spiritual practices that originated in India, where it remains a vibrant living tradition and is seen as a means to enlightenment. Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga are considered the four main yogas, but there are many other types. In other parts of the world where yoga is popular, notably the United States, yoga has become associated with the asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga, which are popular as fitness exercises. Yoga as a means to enlightenment is central to Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and has influenced other religious and spiritual practices throughout the world. Important Hindu texts establishing the basis for yoga include the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

 

Yoga practice and intention

Modern yoga practice often includes traditional elements inherited from Hinduism, such as moral and ethical principles, postures designed to keep the body fit, spiritual philosophy, instruction by a guru, chanting of mantras (sacred syllables), quietening the breath, and stilling the mind through meditation. These elements are sometimes adapted to meet the needs of non­Hindu practitioners. Proponents of yoga see daily practice as beneficial in itself, leading to improved health, emotional well­being, mental clarity, and joy in living. (Some skeptics question these claims.) Yoga adepts progress toward the experience of samadhi, an advanced state of meditation where there is absorption in inner ecstasy.

The goals of yoga are expressed differently in different traditions. In theistic Hinduism, yoga may be seen as a set of practices intended to bring people closer to God ­ to help them achieve union with God. In Buddhism, which does not postulate a creator­type God, yoga may help people deepen their wisdom, compassion, and insight. In Western nations, where there is a strong emphasis on individualism, yoga practice may be an extension of the search for meaning in self, and integration of the different aspects of being. The terms Self­Realization and God­Realization are used interchangeably in Hindu yoga, with the underlying belief that the true nature of self, revealed through the practice of yoga, is of the same nature as God.

The ultimate goal of yoga is the attainment of liberation (Moksha) from worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and death (Samsara). Yoga entails mastery over the body, mind, and emotional self, and transcendence of desire. It is said to lead gradually to knowledge of the true nature of reality. The Yogi reaches an enlightened state where there is a cessation of thought and an experience of blissful union. This union may be of the individual soul (Atman) with the supreme Reality (Brahman), as in Vedanta philosophy; or with a specific god or goddess, as in theistic forms of Hinduism and some forms of Buddhism. Enlightenment may also be described as extinction of the limited ego, and direct and lasting perception of the non­dual nature of the universe. For the average person still far from enlightenment, yoga can be a way of increasing one’s love for God, or cultivating compassion and insight. While the history of yoga strongly connects it with Hinduism, proponents claim that yoga is not a religion itself, but contains practical steps which can benefit people of all religions, as well as those who do not consider themselves religious.

The word “yoga”

The word “yoga” – from the Sanskrit root yuj (“to yoke”) – is generally translated as “union of the individual atma (loosely translated to mean soul) with Paramatma, the universal soul.” This may be understood as union with the Divine by integration of body, mind, and spirit. Thus, in essence, one who attempts yoga may loosely be referred to as a yogi or in Sanskrit, a yogin (masculine) or yogini (feminine). These designations are actually intended for advanced practitioners , who have already made considerable progress along the path, towards yoga.(Ajit,2005)

 

Diversity of yoga

Over the long history of yoga, different schools have emerged, and there are numerous examples of subdivisions and synthesis. It is common to speak of each form of yoga as a “path” to enlightenment. Thus, yoga may include love and devotion (as in Bhakti Yoga), selfless work (as in Karma Yoga), knowledge and discernment (as in Jnana Yoga), or an eight­limbed system of disciplines emphasizing meditation (as in Raja Yoga). These practices occupy a continuum from the religious to the scientific. They need not be mutually exclusive. (A person who follows the path of selfless work might also cultivate some knowledge and devotion.) Some people (particularly in Western cultures) pursue yoga as exercise divorced from spiritual practice.

Other types of yoga include Mantra Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Integral Yoga, Nitya Yoga, Maha Yoga, Purna Yoga, Anahata Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Tibetan Yoga, Yin Yoga etc. It’s often helpful to check the teacher and lineage to be sure how these terms are being used. Another name for Raja Yoga (“royal yoga”) is Ashtanga Yoga (“eightlimbed yoga”), but this should not be confused with the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, which is a specific style of Hatha Yoga practice.

Yoga and religion

In the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain traditions, the spiritual goals of yoga are seen as inseparable from the religions of which yoga forms a part. Some yogis make a subtle distinction between religion and yoga, seeing religion as more concerned with culture, values, beliefs and rituals; and yoga as more concerned with Self­Realization, i.e., direct perception of the ultimate truth. In this sense, religion and yoga are complementary. Sri Ramakrishna likened religion to the husk, and direct experience to the kernel. Both are needed, “but if one wants to get at the kernel itself, he must remove the husk of the grain.”

Some forms of yoga come replete with a rich iconography, while others are more austere and minimalist. Hindu practitioners of yoga are proud of their religious traditions, while non­Hindu practitioners claim that yoga may be practiced sincerely by those who have not accepted the Hindu religion. While the yoga tradition remains rooted in India, the fact that some modern yogis like Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda came to the West suggests that they saw hope the yoga tradition could also flourish there. Critics of yoga as practiced in the West charge that it is sometimes watered down, corrupted, or cut off from its spiritual roots (e.g. the popular view that yoga is primarily physical exercises).

If yoga is one of India’s great gifts to the world, the widespread acceptance of that gift ­ with the concomitant diversity ­ is sometimes incomprehensible to traditional Hindu practitioners of yoga. Yet the sheer number of people practicing yoga outside India suggests the need to define yoga both by its historical roots and its modern adaptations.

 

Common themes

Common to most forms of yoga is the practice of concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana). Dharana, according to Patanjali’s definition, is the “binding of consciousness to a single point.” The awareness is concentrated on a fine point of sensation (such as that of the breath entering and leaving the nostrils). Sustained single-pointed concentration gradually leads to meditation (dhyana), in which the inner faculties are able to expand and merge with something vast. Meditators sometimes report feelings of peace, joy, and oneness.

The focus of meditation may differ from school to school, e.g. meditation on one of the chakras, such as the heart center (anahata) or the third eye (ajna); or meditation on a particular deity, such as Krishna; or on a quality like peace. Non­dualist schools such as Advaita Vedanta may stress meditation on the Supreme with no form or qualities (Nirguna Brahman). This resembles Buddhist meditation on the Void.

Another common element is the spiritual teacher (guru in Sanskrit; lama in Tibetan). While emphasized to varying degrees by all schools of yoga, in some the guru is seen as an embodiment of the Divine. The guru guides the student (shishya or chela) through yogic discipline from the beginning. Thus, the novice yoga student is to find and devote himself to a satguru (true teacher). Traditionally, knowledge of yoga­­ as well as permission to practice it or teach it­­ has been passed down through initiatory chains of gurus and their students. This is called guruparampara.

The yoga tradition is one of practical experience, but also incorporates texts which explain the techniques and philosophy of yoga. Many gurus write on the subject, either providing modern translations and elucidations of classical texts, or explaining how their particular teachings should be followed. A guru may also found an ashram or order of monks; these comprise the institutions of yoga. The yoga tradition has also been a fertile source of inspiration for poetry, music, dance, and art.

When students associate with a particular teacher, school, ashram or order, this naturally creates yoga communities where there are shared practices. Chanting of mantras such as Aum, singing of spiritual songs, and studying sacred texts are all common themes. The importance of any one element may differ from school to school, or student to student. Differences do not always reflect disagreement, but rather a multitude of approaches meant to serve students of differing needs, background and temperament.

The yogi is sometimes portrayed as going beyond rules based morality. This does not mean that a yogi will act in an immoral fashion, but rather that he or she will act with direct knowledge of the supreme Reality. In some legends, a yogi­­ having amassed merit through spiritual practice­­ may then cause mischief even to the gods. Some yogis in history have been naked ascetics ­­such as Swami Trailanga, who greatly vexed the occupying British in 19th century Benares by wandering about in a state of innocence.

 

Origins

Images of a meditating yogi from the Indus Valley Civilization are thought to be 6 to 7 thousand years old. The earliest written accounts of yoga appear in the Rig Veda, which began to be codified between 1500 and 1200 BC. It is difficult to establish the date of yoga from this as the Rig Veda was orally transmitted for at least a millennium. The first Yoga text dates to around the 2nd century BC by Patanjali, and prescribes adherence to “eight limbs” (the sum of which constitute “Ashtanga Yoga”) to quiet one’s mind and merge with the infinite.

The first full description of the principles and goals of yoga are found in the Upanisads, thought to have been composed between the eighth and fourth centuries BC. The Upanisads are also called Vedanta since they constitute the end or conclusion of the Vedas (the traditional body of spiritual wisdom). In the Upanisads, the older practises of offering sacrifices and ceremonies to appease external gods gives way instead to a new understanding that man can, by means of an inner sacrifice, become one with the Supreme Being (referred to as Brahman or Mahatman) ­­ through moral culture, restraint and training of the mind.


Hindu yoga

Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita famously distinguishes several types of “yoga”, corresponding to the duties of different nature of people. Capturing the essence and at the same time going into detail about the various Yogas and their philosophies, it constantly refers to itself as such, the “Scripture of Yoga” (see the final verses of each chapter). The book is thought to have been written some time between the 5th and the 2nd century BC. In it, Krishna describes the following yogas:

1. Karma yoga, the yoga of “action” in the world.

2. Jnana yoga, the yoga of knowledge and intellectual endeavor.

3. Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion to a deity (for example, to Krishna).

Patanjali

Perhaps the classic description of yoga is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which form the basis not only of the darshana called “yoga”­­one of six such “orthodox” (i.e. Vedaaccepting) schools of Hindu philosophy­­but also of the practice of yoga in most ashrams (to the extent these can be distinguished). The school (dharshana) of Indian philosophy known as “yoga” is primarily Upanishadic with roots in Samkhya, and some scholars see some influence from Buddhism. The Yoga philosophy fully believes in the epistemology of the Samkhya school, as well as its concept of the individual spirits (Purusha) and the Nature (Prakriti)— but differs from Samkhya’s atheism.

Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras presents the goal of yoga as ‘the cessation of mental fluctuations’ (cittavrtti nirodha), an achievement which gives rise to the possibility of stable meditation and thus deeper states of absorption (dhyana or samadhi). This requires considerable restraint (yama) and self­discipline (niyama; see below for Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga)). Patanjali’s yoga is sometimes called Raja Yoga (Skt: “Royal yoga”) or “Ashtanga Yoga” (“Eight­Limbed Yoga”), in order to distinguish it from Hatha yoga. It is held as authoritative by all schools. Patanjali is also known for writing commentaries (Mahabhashya) on the Sutras of the great Sanskrit grammarian Panini. In fact, Panini, Patanjali and Katyayana are regarded are the highest authority not only in Sanskrit but also in the whole of Linguistics.

Patanjali’s text sets forth eight “limbs” of yoga practice. Interestingly, only one of them involves physical postures (and these mainly involve seated positions). The eight are:

1. Yama (The five “abstentions”): violence, lying, theft, (illicit­) sex, and possessions

2. Niyama (The five “observances”): purity, contentment, austerities, study, and surrender to God

3. Asana: This term literally means “seat,” and originally referred mainly to seated positions. With the rise of Hatha yoga, it came to be used of these yoga “postures” as well.

4. Pranayama: Control of prana or vital breath

5. Pratyahara (“Abstraction”): “that by which the senses do not come into contact with their objects and, as it were, follow the nature of the mind.” — Vyasa

6. Dharana (“Concentration”): Fixing the attention on a single object

7. Dhyana (“Meditation”)

8. Samadhi: Super­conscious state or trance (state of liberation)

 

God in Yoga philosophy

The philosophy of Yoga also presented certain arguments for the existence of God (Ishvara, lit., the Supreme Lord):

  • The Vedas are regarded as evidence. The Vedas and their commentaries, the Upanishads mention and describe God —hence God exists.
  • Continuity: people and things have various degrees of differences among themselves. Some people are foolish, some are wise. Hence there ought to be some Being who has the highest level of knowledge among all—who is omniscient. That Being is God
  • Cosmic Evolution, leading to this universe, occurs because of the contact between Purusha (spirit) and Prakriti (Nature). Purusha is static, and Prakriti is unconscious. Hence there can be no contact between these two things of opposite characteristics, unless God— the omniscient Being—brings about this contact.
  • Meditation upon God is regarded as the best means of attaining Liberation. If meditation on such a Being helps in liberation, and all obstacles are removed, then the object of the meditation must have a real existence. Ishvara is regarded as a special Purusha, who is beyond sorrow and Karma laws. He is one, perfect, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and eternal. He is beyond the three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. He is different from an ordinary liberated spirit, because the latter were bound once, whereas

Ishvara was never bound. He is kind and merciful. He is the father of the demigods (the various Devas) and of the sages (rishis), as well as their guru; He is the author of the Vedas. Yoga system is perhaps the first philosophy in the world to give arguments for monotheism. Yoga says that Ishvara can be only one and unique. If many Gods are assumed:

  • Let’s say if they are two Gods. If God #1 gives a certain quality (say white color) to a thing and God #2 gives another (say black color) to the same thing, this would be mutually contradictory. On the other hand, if God #1’s choice reigns supreme, God #2 would fail to remain as God
  • Let’s say that the Gods work in as a committee to do certain tasks one by one. Then while one God is doing his work, the existence of the other Gods would be superfluous and unnecessary.

 

Hatha yoga

Over the last century the term yoga has come to be especially associated with the postures (Sanskrit asanas) of hatha yoga (“Forced Yoga”). Hatha yoga has gained wide popularity outside of India and traditional yoga­practicing religions, and the postures are sometimes presented as entirely secular or non­spiritual in nature.

Traditional Hatha Yoga is a complete yogic path, including moral disciplines, physical exercises (e.g., postures and breath control), and meditation, and encompasses far more than the yoga of postures and exercises practiced in the West as physical culture. The seminal work on Hatha Yoga is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, written by Swami Svatmarama.

Hatha Yoga was invented to provide a form of physical purification and training that would prepare aspirants for the higher training that is called Raja Yoga (see above). This is still true today. Despite this, many in the West practice ‘Hatha yoga’ solely for the perceived health benefits it provides, and not as a path to enlightenment.

Natya yoga

The guide to Natya (Dance) Yoga was written by Bharata Muni. Sage Narada along with Gandharvas were the first to practise Natya Yoga, which comprise all the four main yoga’s. Natya Yoga was practised by the medieval devadasis, and is currently taught in a few orthodox schools of Bharatanatyam and Odissi.


Buddhist yoga

Within the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism yoga likewise holds a central place, though not in the form presented by Patanjali or the Gita. (For example, physical postures are rarely practiced.) An example would be “guru yoga,” the union with the mind of the spiritual teacher which must be done at the beginning of the spiritual path and regularly throughout. In the tantric traditions a number of practices are classified with the name “yoga”, for example, the two of the four general classification of tantras­­”Yoga Tantra” and “Highest Yoga Tantra”.

A system of 108 bodily postures practiced with breath and heart rhythm timing in movement exercises is known as Thrul­Khor or union of moon and sun (channel) prajna energies. The body postures of tibetan ancient yogis are depicted on the walls of the Dalai Lama’s summer temple of Lukhang.

As the whole buddhist lineage transmission of Kagyu school came to Tibet over the Indian Yogis Naropa, Tilopa, Marpa then Milarepa, Gampopa, authentic old buddhist yogic practices have been passed over to students still following these instructions throughout many Kagyu Monasteries and institutes worldwide.

Yogacara (“Yoga Adepts”), which is also known as Cittamatra (“Consciousness Only”) is an important philosophical school within Indo­Tibetan Buddhism.


Yoga and tantra

Yoga is often mentioned in company with Tantra. While the two have deep similarities, most traditions distinguish them from one another.

They are similar in that both amount to families of spiritual texts, practices, and lineages with origins in the Indian subcontinent. (Coincidentally, both have been popularized to some extent in the West, with perhaps a shallower understanding of their nature). It should be noted however that for the most part, we are speaking of different families of texts, lineages, etc.

Their differences are variously expressed. Some Hindu commentators see yoga as a process whereby body consciousness is seen as the root cause of bondage, while Samkhya and Yoga in Hinduism and Buddhism tantra views the body as a means to understanding, rather than as an obstruction. It must be said that in India, tantra often carries quite negative connotations involving sexual misbehavior and black magic. Nevertheless, most forms of tantra follow more mainstream social mores. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is generally classified as a Hindu tantric scripture.

Tantra has roots in the first millennium CE, and incorporates much more of a theistic basis. Almost entirely founded on Shiva and Shakti worship, Hindu tantra visualizes the ultimate Brahman as Param Shiva, manifested through Shiva (the passive, masculine force of Lord Shiva) and Shakti (the active, creative feminine force of his consort, variously known as Ma Kali, Durga, Shakti, Parvati and others). It focuses on the kundalini, a three and a half­coiled ‘snake’ of spiritual energy at the base of the spine that rises through the chakras until union between Shiva and Shakti (also known as samadhi) is achieved. (Some Hindu yoga teachers, however, have adopted these concepts.)

Tantra emphasises mantra (Sanskrit prayers, often to gods, that are repeated), yantra (complex symbols representing gods in various forms through intricate geometric figures), and rituals that range from simple murti (statue representations of deities) or image worship to meditation on a corpse! While tantric texts (see kaularvatantra, mahanirvana tantra) and teachers (e.g. Abhinava Gupta) may seem odd and highly arcane from the point of view of classical yoga, that these incorporate yoga concepts seems clear.

In Tibetan Buddhism, which embraces both, yoga is seen as a synonym for “spiritual practice,” while “tantra” refers to a specific category of texts and practices, etc that are roughly analogous to the Hindu ones described above. (The fact that Hindu “yoga” has these things as well may have escaped the attention of classical Tibetan commentators.) In that spirit other Buddhist traditions, such as Theravada, practice a form of “yoga” but reject “tantra.”

 

 

This has been adapted with modifications under the TGNU Free Documentation License (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) from the Wikipedia article “Yoga” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga)

Yoga Myths

The global renaissance of ‘yoga’ has the potential to become a radical movement — perhaps a quantum leap in human evolution, the proviso however being that one clearly understands what it actually means.While the impression is that there is a universal renewed interest in ‘yoga’, the revival is mostly confined to asanas alone.When jiva or microcosmic consciousness unites with the all-pervading Ishwara or macrocosmic consciousness, this union is known as yoga. It is the state where the mind dissolves in the real Self and all samskaras or seeds of past impressions get burnt in the incandescent fire of Self-realisation. It is the pinnacle of inner evolution succinctly described by Sage Patanjali in his well-known aphorism: yogash chitta vritti nirodhah. Yoga is the ultimate destination of a human being’s evolutionary journey. And there are several paths that one can tread with this intention.

The prevailing, resurgent interest in asanas is just one part of Ashtanga Yoga which is an eight-stepped ladder with the ascending rungs of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and culminating in the highest point of samadhi. And the most celebrated text outlining its precepts is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Yama refers to the five moral codes of conduct whilst interacting with others: satya — truthfulness in thoughts, speech and actions; ahimsa— nonviolence in thought, speech and actions; asteya — nonstealing; aparigraha — nonhoarding and brahmacharya— at the physical level it refers to celibacy and for householders, it means fidelity. Niyama refers to the five self-disciplinary codes: shaucha — cleanliness of body, external environment and mind; santosha — being content with one’s life, accepting everything without discrimination; tapah — austerity; svadhyaya — to be established in the real Self but it also refers to self-learning through scriptural texts and ishwarpranidhana— forsaking one’s ego and being totally surrendered to God’s will. Asana has neither got anything to do with body contortion, acrobatics or gymnastics, nor is it physical exercise. Many people mistakenly think that they don’t need to learn asanas because they are already going to the gym or doing aerobic exercises. See, such exercises stimulate catabolism. So, although you achieve an athletic, sculpted look, your energy gets drained. Then people consume energy enhancing drinks which are laced with harmful chemicals that could harm your vital organs. Asanas, on the other hand, balance your metabolism and thus energise your body with the added beneficial effect on the functioning of all internal organs.

Art Of Asanas

Asana is a science and art in its own right and one requires an in-depth understanding of body, anatomy, physiology and yes, geometry, too. Right posture alone is not asana. It has to be supplemented with poise, proper positioning, right alignment, focus on breathing and crucially, the presence of awareness of every part of your body in the said posture. Asana is moving meditation, for such is the heightened awareness of body and breath. Never forget the objective of mastering asanas — to be able to sit comfortably in a stable posture and thus acquire the eligibility of progressing to the higher stages on the path of yoga. As a byproduct, the body becomes healthier, energetic and one may get cured of some ailments. But asanas are not a panacea for diseases. Strictly speaking, yoga can be taught only by a yogi.You cannot become a yogi just by adopting a certain external appearance. If the person teaches in a scientific way, very attentively, with patience and diligence then know that he is well-versed in the craft.

Pranayama Misconceptions

Once asanas are perfected, the practitioner can move on to pranayama. Again, there are misconceptions galore in this regard. Breathing in and out, shoving the stomach in and out is not pranayama.‘Prana’ refers to cosmic vital energy which is the critical force sustaining life. And giving dimension to this vital life force is pranayama. Prana is the bridge that connects our body with our mind.When prana exits the body, this connection gets severed leading to death of the body. That is why, once prana leaves the body, no matter how much oxygen you pump in as part of the resuscitation, the body cannot be revived. The next stage is pratyahara and this means withdrawal of the five cognitive senses from their respective sense objects and stabilising them in the mind. Maturity of pratyahara results in the state of dharana where only one thought is held in the mind to the exclusion of all others. The fruition of dharana is dhyana or meditation, which is a state of thoughtless, heightened awareness. Meditation cannot be taught; it is a state that occurs as a consequence of matured dharana. Yoga happens in the totally still state of samadhi. All ignorance gets eradicated, and one reaches the pinnacle of human evolution with a remarkably heightened level of consciousness. This is the purpose of human life. The destination and path are clear-cut. What is needed is a disciplined practice under the guidance of an enlightened master.

Via Speakingtree  an article by Anandmurti Gurumaa

Hindus Lived 74,000 Years Ago (according to a survey)

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About 76,000 years ago, the volcano Toba – located in what is now Indonesia – erupted to create the largest and most devastating volcanic event of the past 2 million years.

Almost 3,000 cubic kilometers of magma was spewed out, while sulfuric acid rained over the earth as far away as Greenland. The world became subject to a volcanic winter, and what followed was one of the most severe ice ages in documented history.

Over in India, the land was showered with 15 centimeters of volcanic ash, which can be seen today, working as a distinct age marker in the earth’s stratigraphy. And yet, contrary to all logic, archaeologists have unearthed assemblages of stone tools both above and below the ash deposit in India’s Jwalapuram Valley.

The tools look remarkably similar to those made by humans in Africa, which indicates that these tools were also human-formed  and yet, if humans were still in India after the depositing of ash (an incredible feat it itself), they would have had an extremely difficult time trying to survive.

After all, the sheer magnitude of the eruption suspended both volcanic gas and sulfuric acid in the earth’s atmosphere for years, causing warm sunlight to be redirected away from Earth – and plunging the world into several centuries of temperatures that were at least 3-5 degrees C lower than normal after the event.

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Mapping of stone tool artefacts on a Middle Palaeolithic occupation surface under the Toba ash.

Newly discovered archaeological sites in southern and northern India have revealed how people lived before and after the colossal Toba volcanic eruption 74,000 years ago.

The international, multidisciplinary research team, led by Oxford University in collaboration with Indian institutions, unveiled to a conference in Oxford what it calls ‘Pompeii-like excavations’ beneath the Toba ash.

The seven-year project examines the environment that humans lived in, their stone tools, as well as the plants and animal bones of the time. The team has concluded that many forms of life survived the super-eruption, contrary to other research which has suggested significant animal extinctions and genetic bottlenecks.

According to the team, a potentially ground-breaking implication of the new work is that the species responsible for making the stone tools in India was Homo sapiens. Stone tool analysis has revealed that the artefacts consist of cores and flakes, which are classified in India as Middle Palaeolithic and are similar to those made by modern humans in Africa.

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Though we are still searching for human fossils to definitively prove the case, we are encouraged by the technological similarities. This suggests that human populations were present in India prior to 74,000 years ago, or about 15,000 years earlier than expected based on some genetic clocks,’ said project director Dr Michael Petraglia, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford.

This exciting new information questions the idea that the Toba super-eruption caused a worldwide environmental catastrophe. Dr Michael Petraglia, School of Archaeology

An area of widespread speculation about the Toba super-eruption is that it nearly drove humanity to extinction. The fact that the Middle Palaeolithic tools of similar styles are found right before and after the Toba super-eruption, suggests that the people who survived the eruption were the same populations, using the same kinds of tools, says Dr Petraglia.

The research agrees with evidence that other human ancestors, such as the Neanderthals in Europe and the small brained Hobbits in Southeastern Asia, continued to survive well after Toba.

Although some scholars have speculated that the Toba volcano led to severe and wholesale environmental destruction, the Oxford-led research in India suggests that a mosaic of ecological settings was present, and some areas experienced a relatively rapid recovery after the volcanic event.

The team has not discovered much bone in Toba ash sites, but in the Billasurgam cave complex in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, the researchers have found deposits which they believe range from at least 100,000 years ago to the present. They contain a wealth of animal bones such as wild cattle, carnivores and monkeys. They have also identified plant materials in the Toba ash sites and caves, yielding important information about the impact of the Toba super-eruption on the ecological settings.

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Dr Petraglia said: ‘This exciting new information questions the idea that the Toba super-eruption caused a worldwide environmental catastrophe. That is not to say that there were no ecological effects. We do have evidence that the ash temporarily disrupted vegetative communities and it certainly choked and polluted some fresh water sources, probably causing harm to wildlife and maybe even humans.’

Older Than Harappa

“A team of archaeologists from the Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute is back from Haryana where they stumbled upon a record 70 Harappan graves at a site in Farmana, discovering the largest burial site of this civilization in India so far. It is an extraordinary archaeological finding.

A big housing complex that matured during the Harappan era was discovered by these archaeologists who have been working in this little known village for the past three years. The archaeological team here uncovered an entire town plan. The skeletal remains belong to an era between 2500 BC to 2000 BC.

credits to: ramanan50.wordpress.com

New finds take archaeologists closer to Krishna

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The conch and the Sudarshana Chakra are unmistakable. Although the figures do not match popular images of Krishna sporting a peacock feather, archaeologists are convinced that the coins are of Krishna, revered as an avatar of Vishnu.
“These square coins, dating back to 180 BC, with Krishna on one side and Balram on the other, were unearthed recently in Al Khanoun in Afghanistan and are the earliest proof that Krishna was venerated as a god, and that the worship had spread beyond the Mathura region,” says T K V Rajan, archaeologist and founder-director, Indian Science Monitor, who is holding a five-day exhibition, In search of Lord Krishna,’ in the city from Saturday.

Having done extensive research in Brindavan, Rajan is convinced that a lot of the spiritual history of ancient India lies buried. “Close to 10,000 Greeks, who came in the wake of Alexander the Great, were Krishna’s devotees. There is an inscription by Heliodorus, the Greek ambassador at Takshila , which reads Deva, deva, Vasudeva. Krishna is my god and I have installed this Garuda Pillar at Bes Nagar (now in Bihar),’” says Rajan.

According to him the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has unearthed many sites that throw fresh light on the era of Krishna. “ASI is expected to release the full findings next year. Many of the unearthed artifact have a close resemblance to materials of what is believed to be the Harappan civilisation. The findings may show that Krishna’s life was the dividing line between India’s spiritual history and the society’s gradual shift towards a materialistic one,” says Rajan.

Interestingly, a lot of what has been uncovered closely resemble the narration in the texts of Mahabharatha and the Bhagavatham,” he adds. Both the spiritual works are revered by the Hindus as their holy books.

It has been over five years since the discoveries were made at Tholavira near Dwaraka, close to Kutch. Much progress has been made due to the application of thermoluminous study (TL) in ascertaining the age of artifact. “It is possible to get the diffusion of atomic particles in the clay pottery unearthed and arrive at an accurate date,” points out Rajan. Tholavira itself is believed to be the capital city as detailed in the opening chapters of Bhagavatham. Rajan points to an image of a plough, made of wood, which is mentioned in the Bhagavatham.

The findings could lay a trail to understanding Krishna’s life (said to be 5,000 years ago) and times, as a historical fact, says Rajan. The exhibition will be open till December 31 at Sri Parvathy Gallery, Eldams Road.

 

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