Category Archives: yoga concepts

Yoga defined and origin

Yoga defined and origin

Q.1) What is the definition of yoga?

Before I state my definition of yoga, I would like readers to know that there are two authoritative definitions of yoga in public domain.
One from Maharishi’s Paatanjali’ Yoga sutra and another from Shree Krishna in Bhagwad Geeta.

The philosophically rich one from Maharishi  Paatanjali defines yoga as that state, where the consciousness overcomes its inherent tendency to project manifestations.
In these few words the entire secret or mechanism of the creation is brought forth.
That the creation with all its distinctions and multitude manifestations springs from the one single indivisible consciousness, through its tendency  to experience its creation.
That there are no two, leave multiple entities, but just one entity in this cosmos.
That what we see as so many creatures are but one consciousness experiencing its own creation through all the creatures it created.

Thus when consciousness stops its tendency to ‘play’ the world, then being one with itself and undeluded, it achieves yoga.

The matter of factly  definition of yoga from Shree Krishna, states (verse 48 of chapter two Bhagwad Geeta) The state of equanimity, unperturbed in success and failure and opposites, is called yoga.

By this definition a yogi is one who remains even minded in the various swings of life and is equally at peace in a busy market as in a solitary place.

I accept both the above definitions as conveying the same and to be a true definition of yoga. I would further elaborate that yoga is but being one with one’s reality. The reality beyond what is perceived through the senses. The reality experienced, which is beyond the cognition of mind. To be in that state while living in the world is called being established in yoga.

There may be various processes, techniques employed by different aspirants based on their temperament and the practitioners of such techniques are also referred as yogis. For example the man who is trying to control the restless of his mind and preparing for meditation and is doing yogasana is also called a yogi. Just as a man pursuing spiritual knowledge or path of devotion or service is also called yogi. This is as they all are working to reach the same state. That of yoga.

Q.2) How do you trace the origin of yoga?

Shree Krishna mentions in the 4th chapter of Bhagwad Geeta that He had Himself given this knowledge to Sun god and when the chain of knowledge got disturbed over time, He conveyed the same to Arjuna during the course of Bhagwad Geeta.

As far as the tracing the origin of the now hugely popular yogasnas, then that is traced to Lord Shiva. Once finding Shiva alone at a deserted island, His wife Parvati asked Him, as the material influences are increasing and people’s minds being restless find it difficult to concentrate, how would they meditate?  So wouldn’t the path of yoga through meditation disappear ?

Lord Shiva then mentioned that how bodily postures and techniques can be used to overcome the restlessness of the mind and this knowledge of hatha yoga would come to aid of those who otherwise would find it difficult to still their mind to meditate.

A fish near the shore heard this dialogue and by its power transformed instantly to a yogi and was called Matsyendranath by Lord Shiva.

Matysedranath after perfecting all the yogic techniques and becoming the master, asked Lord Shiva for a disciple who can promote this hatha yoga. Lord Shiva said that as there is no worthy recipient for this work, He Himself would materialize as the disciple of Matsyendranath. Accordingly in due course from sacred ash given by Lord Shiva to Matsyendranath, a boy called Gorakshanath materialized. He was thus named as he was in the protection of cows in a cow shed till early childhood.

Together these great masters Matsyendranath and Guru Goarakshanath made 7 more great masters from ordinary mortals and they all set up a chain of yogis and the same continues till now.

Shukl’acharya, is the founder of Shuklacharya’s Retreat & Spiritual Centre in Bhimtal Uttarakhand Indian Himalayas. Now with about 40 years of yogic pursuits,  Shuklacharya- has been a guide to many westerners in ancient yoga and vedic philosophy, He was recognized and honoured at Guru Sangamam in April 2012’  amongst the 108 spiritual leaders in contemporary India.

Alert message to yoga seekers

Yoga is not meant as an exercise or group activity done in mass, or for body sculpting or to be competitive.  In fact it is the opposite of competition. The word for competition in Sanskrit is ‘pratiyoga’, opposite of yoga.

It’s Indian origins proposed it  as a method to quiet the mind and body to prepare one for meditation, to enhance ones spiritual progress and understanding of one’s higher self.

While it is true that it benefits a person taking even a limited take, eg. yogasana and can make a significant difference in quality of life, this process can only be achieved on an  individual basis. Though, it may be done in a classroom setting, each person has to work their own practice,  taking into consideration a persons specific body type, temperament, diet,  position in life, age,  environment, lifestyle etc.

Specific techniques are taught by a teacher who understands these things on a comprehensive level. It is done in alignment with one’s nature and to achieve a balance that promotes health and well being to open the person who practices to higher levels of consciousness.

It reaches far beyond a series of random asanas to a general audience and should be taken only under the direct guidance of one who understands what importance each step has in a person’s development.

Yogic techniques literally manipulate the pranic energy of its practitioner. It is dangerous to be practiced as an exercise, without understanding the impact it has on us. The purpose of yogic techniques is to increase our equipoise and establish us in equanimity. While some postures and techniques can help in that, provided they are modified to the individual, many can actually harm, without the individual even knowing so.

Unless a teacher knows which posture to choose for the student, modify it to that person, set the frequency / duration, the focus point and associated mantra, the student is playing with fire.

This has been Shukl’acharya’s  unwavering message and what he has taught to those who seek the true meaning of yoga.

Bhakti concept

Welcome to Bhakti yoga


The various spiritual endeavours of a being, can be broadly classified  as :

Dhyan (Raja) Yoga

Gyan (Knowledge) Yoga

Bhakti ( Devotion) Yoga

Karma (Work) Yoga

Bhakti Yoga – This is not going to be just my interpretation but what is the undisputable knowledge about bhakti concept.

Those of us who are inclined to pursue devotion as our spiritual path, first of all need to figure out our object of devotion.

Is it the formless, abstract, undefinable supreme consciousness, or the divine who has a form and name? The former is very tough and long path while the latter has been successfully pursued for ages by many.

In India there is no dearth of choices. 330 million deities to choose from!! And one is always welcome to add new personal choices! From earlier ages or even a contemporary living deity!!

Normally a guru would advise an aspirant to pursue devotion to that deity, to whom the aspirant is in tune, temperamentally. Or a deity whose attributes would have a spiritually advancing effect on the aspirant.

Like all light bulbs are connected to the one single electricity source, all deities are one with the supreme consciousness. For the human mind’s limited understanding to come to terms with the formless, attribute less, divine, this approach of choice of deities has been presented.  A devotee is at liberty and in fact encouraged to place his chosen deity on the highest pedestal amongst other deities.

Having chosen the deity, or more likely the deity pulled the aspirant towards itself, comes the next step.

A deity lives in a name, a form, an abode and leela (stories of deity’s deeds). The devotee has to understand which of the deity’s names, he can choose and repeat as mantra. He has to further visualize the form, from the description of the deity. He can make efforts of visiting the deity’s abode. He has to read, listen and share with interested fellow devotees, of the deity’s leela.

Now comes the next step. finding a relationship with the deity. There is lot of choice here. Some common ones are that of a child to parents, or vice versa, a sibling, a friend, a spouse, a partner, a lover or  an extra marital lover, a servant, or an enemy.

The purpose being, any relationship which can help, draw out the strongest emotions in the devotee. This need not necessarily be disclosed to anyone. There is no competition in bhakti. The deity is capable of having exclusive all fulfilling relationships with each devotee. Thus there is no need for any jealousy.

The stronger the bhaav (attitude, feelings) of a devotee, the greater would be his progress. The bhaav is always reciprocated by the chosen deity. Whether a deity from ancient times or a contemporary living deity, there are umpteen stories of how out of nowhere the deity manifests to help, be with or interact with the devotee, on a strong bhaav from devotee.

Towards developing this bhaav, the following, known as Navadda bhakti (nine techniques are employed)

1). Hearing about God (Shravana)

2). Chanting His Name and Glory (Kirtana)

3). Remembering Him (Smarana)

4). Serving His Lotus Feet (Pada Sevana)

5). Worshipping Him as per the Scriptures (Archana)

6). Prostrating before Him (Vandana)

7). Being His Servant (Dasya)

8). Befriending Him (Sakhya)

9). Offering Oneself to Him (Atma Nivedana)

Now interestingly, unlike raja, gyan or karma yoga, liberation is not the goal in bhakti yoga. Instead of dissolving one’s ego totally and submerging in the supreme consciousness, the devotee wishes to hold on the separation between himself and the deity, so that he can continue to enjoy the bliss of devotion to his deity.

There are four final stages in bhakti yoga.

Sayujya – when the devotee submerges in the deity.

Sarupya – when devotee gets the form of the divine.

Samipya –when the devotee gets to be in proximity to the deity.

Salokya – when the devotee gets to be in the same abode that of the deity.

Of these, the Sayujya one, devotees do not aspire for, as they compare even liberation to worse than hell. This is as they cannot and don’t ever want a state where they cannot enjoy their deity and remain devoted to the deity.

Now for one to have sessions with others in Bhakti yoga, one has to be sure that the others have the same deity as oneself and chant the same deity’s names / mantra. Listen to that deity’s leela and keep the same deity’s image in front of them.

Then their devotion would grow.

No mix and match should be done, as that would dilute the bhaav and even raise  doubts of his own deity’s greatness in devotee’s mind.

In advanced stages of bhakti yoga, the devotee starts seeing the same deity in all deities and others too. At that time, all names and forms are to the devotee, of his deity only. Initially it is strongly advised to hold on to one single deity and one mantra.