Showing posts with label Ganesha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ganesha. Show all posts

THE RIG VEDA'S RITUAL - YOGA OF SACRIFICE AND MEDITATION




As fascinating as the artifactual evidence of the lndus-Sarasvati civilization is, it is insufficient to establish definitively that any version of Yoga existed during that time period. 


When we read the artifacts with the evidence contained in the Rig Veda songs, however, the situation alters dramatically. 


  • The image that emerges is of a highly ceremonial society rich in proto-yogic concepts and behaviors. 
  • Surendranath Dasgupta, a famous Indian scholar, correctly classified Vedic religion as "sacrificial mysticism." Because sacrifice (yajna) lies at the core of the lndus-Sarasvati civilization's religious beliefs and rituals. 


There were two kinds of sacrifical rites: 

  • griha, or home sacrifices, 
  • and shrauta, or public sacrifices. 


The former were private rituals with just one fire and a single family. 


  • Numerous priests, three flames, and huge throngs of silent participants were needed for the latter. 
  • They lasted many days, and in some cases, weeks or months. 


  • The entire village or tribe would congregate on special sacrificial occasions to participate in large-scale sacrifices, such as the famous agni-shtoma (fire sacrifice) and the ashva-medha (horse sacrifice), which were only performed on rare occasions to ensure the continued reign of a great king and the tribe's or country's prosperity. 



Every "twice-born" (dvija) household, whether they were brahmins, warriors, or agricultural/trading families, was required to make the fire sacrifice (homa) every day at sunrise and dusk. 


The immediate family and any local followers were present for this relatively modest sacrifice, which was performed by husband and wife jointly. 


  • The primary offering was a mixture of milk and water that was poured into the fire. 
  • Recitations were performed as part of the event. 
  • The underlying goal of all sacrifices was to restore universal order (rita) inside the bodies of the sacrificial priest, the sacrifice patron, and the onlookers. 
  • The sacrifice was ostensibly made to gain the favor of a certain god. 


The deities were mostly male Gods like Indra, Agni, Soma, Rudra, and Savitri, although a few Vedic hymns were dedicated to Goddesses like Vac (Speech), Usha or Ushas (Dawn), Sarasvati (the river and her cosmic counterpart), and Prithivi (Earth). 




The Vedic people did not seem to have temples, and public sacrifices were conducted outside, as previously stated. 


Their religion was imbued with a sense of urgency and energy, and they prayed for a long, healthy, and wealthy life in accordance with the cosmic order. 


  • There were also those who had a more mystical bent, as evidenced by Vedic hymns, aspiring to communion with their favorite God or Goddess, or even merging with the ultimate Being (sat) that has no name and was also described as Nonbeing (asat) because it is not limited by any finite form, corresponding to the later concept of the Void (shunya). 
  • The priests were not the Vedic people's spiritual heroes, but they were regarded in great regard. 
  • But it was the sages or seers (rishi) who "saw" the truth, who saw the hidden reality beyond the veil of visible life with the inner sight. 
  • Many of them were members of the priestly class, while some came from the other three social groups. 

They were the enlightened sages, whose knowledge was expressed via rhythmic poetry and highly symbolic language in the Vedic hymns. 


  • These seers, also known as poets (kavi), revealed the lumi­ nous Reality beyond all spiritual darkness to the average, unenlightened person. 
  • They also demonstrated the route to that everlasting Being, who is single (eka) and unborn (aja), yet has countless names. 
  • The Vedic seers earned their holy visions by their own inner labor, austerities, and a strong desire for spiritual enlightenment. 



They saw themselves as "children of light" (Rig-Veda 9.38.5), with their sights set on the "heavenly light," or ultimate Light-Being (Rig-Veda 1 0.36.3). 


Those who were devoid of sin or guilt in this life might look forward to a pleasant afterlife. 

  • Sinners, on the other hand, were believed to be sent into the black pits of hell, but the Rig Vedic hymns do not focus too much on this dreadful destiny. 
  • The Vedic seers, according to British historian Jeanine Miller, favored a positive outlook. 
  • She also said that there are two distinct thinking trends:
    •  The desire for earthly life with its corollary avoidance of death, notwithstanding the fact that physical life and immortality are not always synonymous. 

The latter's goal was, in the end, the quest of every mortal. 


  • Meanwhile, the common man was happy with a long life of a hundred years of vigor, a blessing for which many a prayer has been offered; therefore, one step at a time sums up the attitude: enjoy this earthly life first, then the heavenly recompense. 
  • There are many sections in the Rig-1,028 Veda's hymns, totalling I0,600 lines, that are particularly relevant to the study of the Vedic. 


Proto-Yoga is a term that refers to a kind of yoga that Yoga researchers should pay special attention to the following hymns: 


1.164: This hymn is a collection of deep metaphysical puzzles, with fifty-two verses. 


For example, the sixth stanza inquires about the nature of the unborn One who is yet the cause of the visible world. 

  • The two birds that share the same tree are discussed in verses 20-22. 
  • One is said to consume its fruit, while the other just observes. 
  • The tree may be seen as a symbol for the whole planet. 
  • Egoic impulses drive the unenlightened creature to consume the tree's fruit. 
  • The enlightened being, or sage, on the other hand, abstains and just observes. 
  • The tree may also be seen as a representation of the tree of wisdom, whose fruit the sage enjoys but which the ignorant do not. 


The following is a more strictly Vedantic interpretation: 

  • The uninvolved Self outside the domain of nature is represented by the onlooking bird, whereas the other represents the embodied being entangled in conditioned life. 


The startling and oft-quoted statement that the nameless one Being is named variously by the sages is found in verse 46. 


  • Dirghatamas ("Long Darkness") is the name of the author, or "seer," of this particular Rig-Vedic song. 
  • He was definitely one of the most profound thinkers, or envisioners, of his time. 
  • Dirghatarnas are the type of all men of philosophy and science who have thrown their eyes of understanding on the visible world, according to Indian scholar Vasudeva A. 
  • Agrawala, who has written a comprehensive study of this so-called asya-vamiya-sukta. 
  • Their emphasis is on the unseen source, the First Cause, which was a mystery in the past and is still a mystery now. 
  • Dirghatamas sits at the pinnacle of them all, posing the question: "Where is the Teacher, who knows the answer? Where is the student seeking revelation from the Teacher? 
  • He shoots fast photos of the Cosmos itself, pointing to a plethora of symbols that tell the story of its mystery. 
  • The Seer seems to believe that, while being a true Mystery, the imprisoned heavenly brilliance is present in every visible form and is understandable. 


3.31: Many important elements of Vedic philosophy may be found in this invocation to God Indra, which is translated here. 


3.38: The holy work of composing vision-based songs of praise, which was essential to the rishis' Vedic Yoga, is revealed in this hymn, which is reproduced here. 


3.57: This hymn, which is sung below, is dedicated to the "Single CC'w," which provides sufficient spiritual nourishment for both deities and humans. 


4.58: The esoteric symbolism of the ghee (ghrita) used in the fire sacrifice is revealed in this song. 


  • Ghee is believed to pour from the ocean of the heart (verse 5). 
  • The "mouth of the Gods" or "navel of immortality" is its codename. 
  • Soma is described as a "four-homed buffalo" with three feet, two heads, and seven arms (verse 2). 
  • "The entire universe is stationed in your brilliance (dhaman) inside the ocean, within the heart, in the life-span," says verse I I. 

5.81: This hymn, which is translated below, introduces the Solar Yoga, which is fundamental to the Vedic civiliza­ tion's spirituality. 


6.1: Without God Agni, the majestic substance underlying the sacrificial fire that transports oblations to the holy realms, Vedic mysticism would be inconceivable. 

  • This hymn elucidates some of the newly discovered symbolism surrounding Agni and the fire rite. 
  • Vaishvanara describes God Agni as the "immortal Light among humans," "swifter than the intellect," and "stationed in the heart" in this magnificent invocation. 

8.48: This song, dedicated to Soma, the God of immortality's ambrosia, provides numerous insights into Vedic spirituality. 


10.61: This rather lengthy hymn, which has twenty-seven lines, is rich with Vedic symbolism related to the mystery of the sun. 

  • It was written by Nabhanedishtha, whose name means "one who is closest to the navel," the navel being an esoteric term for the sun, as verse 18 explains. 
  • This, along with song 10. 62 (also written by Nabhanedishtha), enabled the Angirases reach Heaven, according to a tale recounted in the Aitareya-Brahmana (5. 1 4). 
  • "I am all this, the twice-born, the first-born of the [cosmic] Order," the great seer exclaims ecstatically in verse 9 affirming his oneness with the sun.


10.72: Another cosmogonic hymn, this one addressing the mystery of the universe's beginning. 

  • The word uttanapad, "one whose feet are pointed upward," is used in the third and fourth verses, and is a name of the Goddess Aditi ("Boundless"), who gave birth to the universe. 
  • This unusual phrase is reminiscent of the uttana-carana posi­ tion mentioned in Y ajnavalkya's Smriti (3. I 98), a book on ethics and jurisprudence that is usually dated to the early centuries c.E. but includes elements that are definitely much earlier. 
  • As with the shoulderstand, this position is achieved by raising the legs above the ground. 


10.90: The purusha-sukta, or "Hymn of Man," is one of the most remarkable of the many cosmogonic hymns that are essential for a study of ancient Yoga because they explain not only the development of the universe but also the origin of the human mind. 

  • The primordial man (purusha) is supposed to have encompassed the whole creation and stretched 10 digits beyond it in the first verse. 
  • This is intended to imply that the Creator transcends his creation, and that the manifest universe originates from but does not define transcen­dental Reality. 
  • The Atharva-Veda has a more complex rendition of this song ( 1 5.6). 


10.121: The hymn's seer imagines the world emerging from the Golden Germ (hiranya-garbha). 

  • The ruler of the universe who has securely established both Heaven and Earth is proclaimed to be the great sin­ gular Being, whose "shadow is immortality." 
  • The refrain "Which God should we serve with oblations?" appears in nine of the 10 verses of this hymn. 


10.129: Also known as the "Hymn of Creation," the nasadfya-sukta foreshadows the later metaphysical theories of the Samkhya school of thought, which was so closely associated with Yoga. 


10.136: This is called the keshi-sukta, or "Hymn of the Long-hair," and it is also translated into English below. 

  • The keshin is a non-Vedic ascetic who has been seen as a precursor of the later yogin by certain academics. 
  • Each stanza of this hymn was written by a separate sage, according to subsequent Sanskrit commentators: Juti, Vatajuti, Viprajuti, Vrishanaka, Karikrata, Etasha, and Rishyashringa. 


10.177: The Vedic spiritual practice of visionary, ecstatic intuition (manisha) is depicted in this brief song, which is translated here.



You may also want to read more about Kundalini Yoga here.

You may also want to read more about Yoga here.


You may also want to read more about Yoga Asanas and Exercises here.


You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.



Yoga And The Indus Settlements' Gloriousness



The massive Indus-Sarasvati civilization (as the Indus civilization should properly be called) was discovered in the early 1920s, just after the savant world had settled down to the comforting belief that, with the surprise discovery of the Hittite empire, they had discovered the last of the ancient world's great civilizations. 


The Indus­ Sarasvati civilization surpassed even modern scholarship's wildest dreams. 


  • Only around 60 of the more than 2,500 identified sites have been excavated thus far. 
  • Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Ganweriwala, Rakhigarhi, Kalibangan, Dholavira, and the harbor city of Lothal (found on the Kathiawar peninsula near Ahmadabad in Gujarat) are the most important sites. 
  • Mohenjo­ Daro, in the south, and Har­ appa, 350 kilometers north, are the most remarkable cities. 
  • The Indus River was formerly their primary means of communication. 
  • The larger of the two metropolises discovered in the Indus valley, Mohenjo Daro, spanned an area of approximately a square mile, providing housing space for at least 35,000 people. 
  • Both cities exhibit careful planning and a high level of uniformity, implying a complex sociopolitical structure. 


The excavations uncovered a complex drainage system, replete with rub­ bish shoots, that is unique to pre-Roman periods. 


  • They also discovered a plethora of bath­ rooms, which indicates the sort of ceremonial ablu­ tion associated with modern Hinduism. 
  • Kiln-fired bricks, one of the best known construction materials, were used to construct the largely windowless structures, which included three-story homes. 


The center of these major towns is a massive castle, measuring 400 by 200 yards and constructed on an artificial hill. 


  • It contains a huge bath (230 by 78 feet), halls of assembly, a large building that was most likely a college for priests, and a vast granary in the case of Mohenjo Daro (grain storage was a governmental function). 
  • The uniform brick sizes and weights, as well as the urban plan, indicate to a centralized authority, most likely of a priestly character. 
  • Despite the fact that no temples have been discovered, we must infer that religion played a significant part in the lives of these early people. 
  • This is mostly supported by discoveries, including patterns on soapstone seals, that bear striking resemblances to later Hindu religious themes while also agreeing with early Vedic symbolism. 


Apart from that, the Vedas include no mention of temples, owing to the fact that the Vedic people practiced their religion at home and only met in public for major official events affecting their tribe or clan. 


Given the prominent importance of religion in other similar societies at the time, archaeologists' reluctance to declare some sites as having been intended for ceremonial or holy use is difficult to comprehend. 


  • Recent excavations at Lothal and Kalibangan have uncovered fire altars whose construction fits in principle with what we know about Vedic fire altars—an important discovery that should not be overlooked. 
  • Not unexpectedly, the seven major rivers that nourished the Indus-Sarasvati civilization spurred shipbuilding as well as marine commerce with Middle Eastern civilizations like Sumer and perhaps farther afield. 


As one would anticipate, active sailing is represented in the Rig-Veda, which has been misinterpreted as the work of an uneducated seminomadic people who lived as herders and enriched themselves by raiding the affluent towns of the Indus on a regular basis. 


The two major cosmopolitan settings of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, which share a similar ground plan, thrived for about 800 years, with remarkably little change in technology, written language, or creative innovation throughout that time. 


This feature prompted British archaeolo-gist Stuart Piggott to remark: 


  • "There is a terrible efficiency about the Harappa civilization that recalls all the worst of Rome," he said, "but with this elaborately contrived system comes an isolation and stagnation hard to parallel in any known Old World civilization."  
  • Continuity, on the other hand, does not always imply stagnation. 
  • It may also be the polar opposite—a symbol of power. 
  • Perhaps the Indus-Sarasvati people were rooted in such a deep spiritual heritage that no significant changes were needed to provide purpose and succor to successive generations. 


The Rig-Veda, the literary equivalent of the archaeological items discovered in the Indus-Sarasvati towns, has such a spiritual tradition. 


We can make greater sense of both the tangible and textual evidence when we analyze cultural objects discovered by archaeologists in light of the Vedas. 


  • The many steatite seals (employed by traders) depicting animals, vegetation, and mythical creatures evocative of later Hinduism are of particular significance. 
  • Several of the more over two thousand terra-cotta seals discovered so far depict horned deities sitting in the manner of the later yogins. 
  • One seal in particular, the so-called pashupati seal, has piqued archaeologists' interest and piqued historians' imaginations. 
  • It depicts a deity seated on a low throne surrounded by four animals: an elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, and buffalo. 
  • A pair of antelope-like animals may be found under the seat. 


God Shiva, the arch-yogin and lord (pail) of the animals Soapstone sculpture of a senior priest or nobleman (pashu). 


  • While some of the theories put forward do not stand up to examination, there is no doubt that the figure (whether male or female) symbolizes a holy deity in a ritualized position that has yet to be definitively named 17 but resembles bhadraor goraksha-asana. 
  • There is also strong evidence that a Goddess cult existed at the period. 
  • One seal shows a female from whose womb a plant develops, implying early agricultural culture reproductive beliefs and ceremonies. 


Objects like the later Tantric male generative sign (linga) and female generative symbol (linga) are associated with this (yoni). 


  • Seals showing the fig tree, which is still considered holy in India, and trees with a humanoid figure standing in their branches make it easy to link to the Vedic hymns. 
  • Most significantly, all of this is still true in rural India's religious world today.


You may also want to read more about Kundalini Yoga here.

You may also want to read more about Yoga here.


You may also want to read more about Yoga Asanas and Exercises here.


You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.




THE INDUS-SARASVATI CIVILIZATION AND YOGA



A Revolutionary New Perspective on the Vedic Aryans Yoga as we know it now is the result of millennia of practice. 


In the darkness of ancient Indian prehistory, the origins are forgotten. 


  • Yoga is referred to be "archaic" (puratana) in the Bhagavad-Gita (4.3), which was basically written in its current form about 500-600 B.C.E. 
  • Western academics have usually underestimated Yoga's antiquity, and until recently, the common wisdom was to associate it with the esotericism of the Upanishads, which have been dated to the sixth or seventh century B.C.E. but are considerably older. 
  • Recent research have convincingly shown the existence of Yoga during the period of the Rig-Veda, as a loose framework of concepts and practices (which we may term "Proto-Yoga"). 
  • More crucially, the Vedic canon's antiquity has been pushed back significantly. 


Long before 1900 B.C.E., the majority of the Rig-Veda, the most significant of the four Vedic hymnodies, was written. 


In a moment, I'll go through the importance of this day. The so-called Aryan invasion concept, which has since been debunked by fresh evidence, has been embraced by many generations of Western academics. 


  • The Sanskrit-speaking Vedic tribes entered India between 1500 and 1200 B.C.E., inflicting death and devastation among the local (allegedly Dravidian) people, according to this out-of-date concept. 
  • This theory, which was championed by renowned academic Max Muller, soon became a popular orthodoxy that has stood the test of time despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 
  • Archaeologists discovered the ancient towns of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro on the banks of the Indus River in Pakistan in 1921, posing the first challenge to the Aryan invasion hypothesis. 
  • Instead of challenging their beliefs about the Vedic Aryans' origins, most scholars merely pushed back the date of the purported invasion by several hundred years to accommodate for the archaeological evidence. 


They misinterpreted some archaeological discoveries, particularly the apparent signs of violence in certain Mohenjo-Daro layers, since they were influenced by the invasion concept. 


In the meanwhile, although most archaeologists have abandoned this theory, many Indologists continue to cling to outdated interpretations. 


  • The reason for this is because the alternative, which is strongly indicated by the evidence, necessitates a complete revision of our understanding of India's early civilization history: the Vedic Aryan invasion of India never happened! Rather, they have a long history in India. 
  • The book In Search of the Cradle of Civilization presents and discusses the substantial evidence that refutes the Aryan invasion theory. 
  • As a result, there will be no need to go over all of the details again, and a general picture should suffice. 


The Vedic Aryans belonged to the Indo­ European language family, which shared many ethnic characteristics among its various members. 


The Vedic Aryans are linked to the Celts, Persians, Goths, and a number of other extinct language and cultural groups. 


  • They are also distant relatives of those of us who speak English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, and a variety of other Eurasia-derived languages. 
  • All Indo-European speakers are believed to be descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans, who date back to the seventh millennium B.C.E. 
  • Scholars disagree on where they came from, although it is thought to be either in Central Asia or Eastern Europe. 

According to Colin Renfrew, a well-known linguist, the Proto-Indo­ Europeans originated in Anatolia (now Turkey) and expanded from there to the IJ north, west, and east. 


  • In any case, it's currently thought that the Proto-lndo-European groups were firmly established in Eurasia by 4500 B.C.E., if not before. 
  • Following that, the different dialects separated into their own languages, including Vedic Sanskrit. 


According to Renfrew and others, Indo-European languages and dialects were spoken across Europe by at least 3000 B.C.E., and a significant Indo-European presence remained in Anatolia, as shown by the Hittite state of 2200 B.C.E. 


  • We may confidently dismiss the notion that the Vedic Aryans came in India as late as 1 500 B.C.E., based on this and other evidence. 
  • They may have lived there for millennia, having descended from a branch of the Proto-Indo-European society that already existed on the subcontinent. 
  • The archaeological evidence, as well as the internal evidence of the Rig Veda, also point to this conclusion. 


Significantly, aerial photos have shown that the Sarasvati, the Rig-most Veda's famous river, which was located to the east of the Indus, began to exist about 1 900 B.C.E. 


The devastating drying up of this massive river, which may have been triggered by a large tectonic earthquake followed by climatic and environmental changes, took millennia. 


  • It resulted in the abandonment of many cities and villages, as well as the transfer of the Vedic civilization's heartland to the Ganges (Ganga) River. 
  • To put it another way, the Rig-Veda had to have been written before the Sarasvati vanished. 


In reality, astronomical allusions in this ancient hymnody date from the third, fourth, and even fifth millennia B.C.E., but they have been dismissed as later creations. 


  • However, because astronomical back calculations are notoriously difficult, there is no reason to dismiss references to solstices in the Rig-Veda and other early scrip­tures as subsequent interpolations, especially given that virtually all scholars marvel at the fidelity with which the Vedic hymnodies have been transmitted over millennia. 
  • Another significant discovery is that Babylonian mathematics (around 1 700 B.C.E.) was heavily impacted by India's intellectual geniuses. 
  • A. Seidenberg, a history of mathematics with no special allegiance to India, came to this conclusion. 
  • The building of complex altars that were symbolically linked to the structure of the macrocosm seems to have spawned Indic mathematics from the brahmins' ritual culture. 


The Brahmanas were the first to introduce mathematical concepts here, which were later developed and formalized in the Shulba-Sutras. 


The earliest Brahmanas are said to have lived about the year 2000 B.C.E. 


  • Some scholars date them to 3000 B.C.E., while others date the Vedas to 4000-5 000 B.C.E. or even earlier. For the oldest Brahmanas, I've used a preliminary date of 2500 B.C.E. 
  • These findings re-ignite the debate about the connection between Sanskrit-speaking Aryan tribes and the Indus civilization, which existed from approximately 2800 B.C.E. to 1 900 B.C.E. 
  • It should also be emphasized that the 2800 B.C.E. date is just a guess, since the oldest layers of Mohenjo-Daro have yet to be excavated due to constant floods. 

The city's foundations, which are buried under twenty-four feet of muck, may be hundreds of years old. 


  • The more than two thousand additional sites along the Indus and Sarasvati rivers have also not been excavated. 
  • Some of these settlements, which are mostly located along the banks of the former Sarasvati (rather than the Indus), may be much older. 
  • The city of Mehrgarh, in India's far northwest, has been dated to 6500 B.C.E., marking the beginning of a remarkable continuity of cultural expression. 

More and more researchers are beginning to believe that the magnificent civilization was built by the Vedic Aryans themselves. 



  • There is nothing in the Vedas themselves that contradicts such a conclusion. 
  • Those passages that have traditionally been regarded as evidence for the violent invasion of India by earlier generations of academics may readily and more rationally be construed in different ways. 
  • Some of the Rig-Vedic hymns describe wars that are either mythical or, if historical, plainly recall intertribal Aryan warfare, rather than the alleged subjugation of the local population by Vedic Aryans as alien aggressors. 



Scholars have often remarked on the striking similarity in symbolic and cultural themes between the Indus-Sarasvati civilization and later Hinduism. 


This continuity becomes completely understandable when we associate the Vedic Aryans with the people who lived in the cities and villages around the Indus and Sarasvati rivers. 


  • When the Aryan invasion model's bias is eliminated, the Vedic oral/scriptural tradition easily fits the archaeological data. 
  • We no longer have to contend with the enigma of magnificent cities devoid of literature, or a rich literary legacy devoid of a material foundation. 


These new discoveries have also revolutionized our view of Yoga's history. 


  • The majority of modern academics believe that evidence of early Yoga may be found in the Indus towns. 
  • This has long been seen as proof of the Yoga tradition's non-Vedic origins, although this notion was only feasible due of a total misunderstanding of the Vedic Aryans' spirituality. 
  • The Vedas include as many proto-yogic concepts as the lndus-Sarasvati artifacts. 
  • This Proto-nature Yoga's will be explored soon.



As far as we can tell, the archaeological discoveries and literary evidence of the Vedas, especially the Rig-Veda, are completely complementary. 


They provide us a good idea of what seems to be the world's oldest continuous civilization, beginning with the early Neolithic culture represented by the town of Mehrgarh in the seventh millennium B.C.E. and continuing with modern Hinduism. 


  • However, the Vedic/Indus/Sarasvati civilization was not only the oldest on Earth, but it was also the biggest early antiquity society, much larger than Sumer, Assyria, and Egypt combined. 
  • According to what we know (and archaeology has just scratched the surface so far), this massive civiliza­tion spanned an estimated 300,000 square miles by the end of the third century B.C.E., an area bigger than Texas, the second-largest state in the United States of America.



You may also want to read more about Kundalini Yoga here.

You may also want to read more about Yoga here.


You may also want to read more about Yoga Asanas and Exercises here.


You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.





HINDU RELIGION AND YOGA




    Yoga is spirituality, esotericism, or mysticism, not religion in the traditional sense. 


    Regardless of whether we are discussing Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, or Sikhism, Yoga is often linked to the cosmologies as well as religious beliefs and practices of these many traditions. 


    • This has proved to be a stumbling barrier for many Western Yoga practitioners, who are either unaware of these traditions or have a strained relationship with their own religious heritage, whether Christianity or Judaism. 
    • They are particularly taken aback by the many deities of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jaina pantheons, and they are unsure how these deities connect to real Yoga practice and the doctrine of nondualism (advaita) that is common to most varieties of Yoga. 
    • Students who tend toward monotheism may be worried about falling to polytheism, which is regarded a sin in the Judeo-Christian faith. 

     

    Because the emphasis of this discussion is Hindu Yoga, I propose to begin by introducing the main Hindu Gods and Goddesses who figure in the Sanskrit and vernacular literature of Yoga. 



    Many Hindu deities are also part of the vast Buddhist pantheon, and the Jainas have mostly kept the same deities. 


    The different deities are worshiped and summoned as manifestations or personifications of the ultimate Reality, and each is regarded as the absolute Godhead in the perspective of their worshipers. 


    • For example, worshipers of God Shiva consider Shiva as transcendental, formless, and qualityless (nirgu­ na), yet bestow onto this featureless being the gift of devotion. 
    • Goodness, beauty, strength, and elegance are examples of anthropomorphic characteristics or attributes (guna). 


    All other gods are regarded as lofty beings that inhabit different celestial regions in comparison to Shiva (loka). 


    • They are known as archangels or angels in Christian language. 
    • The scenario is the polar opposite for Vishnu worshippers. 


    Vishnu is the ultimate Godhead for them, while all other gods—including Shiva—are simply devas, or "shining ones," who have a position comparable to angelic beings in Judeo-Christian and Islamic faiths. 



    • The deities were first understood from three perspectives: 

        • material (adhibhautika), 
        • psychological (adhyatmika), 
        • and spiritual (adhidaivika). 

    • The Vedic God Agni, for example, 

        • represents the physical sacrificial fire, 
        • the sacrificer's inner fire (connected to snake power or kundalint-shakti), 
        • and the divine fire or transcendent Light. 




    When considering a god, we must examine all three characteristics. 



    Most academics have concentrated only on the first component, leading them to reject Vedic spirituality as simply "naturalistic." 


    • However, a deeper examination reveals that the Vedic seers and sages were well-versed in symbolism and adept in the use of metaphoric language. 
    • It's our comprehension, not their symbolic communication, that's lacking. 

    India's "theologians" have talked about thirty-three deities since Vedic times, despite the fact that there have long been many more listed in the scriptures. 

    The following discussion will concentrate on only a few deities who are particularly connected with Yoga. 



    To begin, there is Shiva ("Benevolent One"). 


    Shiva is already referenced in the Rig-Veda (1.14; 2.33): Shaivism, or the Shaiva tradition of worship and religion, revolves around him. 


    • He is the god of yogins par excellence, and he is often portrayed as a yogin with long, matted hair, ashes on his body, and a garland of skulls—all indications of his complete sacrifice. 
    • The crescent moon in his hair represents mystical insight and wisdom. 
    • His three eyes, which represent the sun, moon, and fire, show all that has happened in the past, present, and future to him. 
    • The cosmic fire is linked to the central or "third" eye, which is situated on the forehead, and a single look from this eye may incinerate the whole universe. 

    The snake wrapped around his neck represents Kundalinf's hidden spiritual force. 


    • The Ganga (Ganges) River, which flows from Shiva's crown, is a symbol of continuous cleansing, which is the mechanism behind his gift of spiritual freedom to followers. 
    • His four limbs symbolize his complete mastery over the four cardinal directions, and the tiger hide on which he sits signifies power (shakti). 

    His trident symbolizes Nature's three basic characteristics (guna), tamas, rajas, and sattva. 


    • Shiva's most well-known animal is the bull Nandin ("Delightful"), a symbol of sexual energy that Shiva has harnessed to perfection. 
    • The lion, which is often shown in Shiva pictures, represents desire for food, which he has also subdued. 
    • Shiva has been linked to Rudra ("Howler") from the beginning, a god who is especially associated with the air element and its many expressions (e.g., wind, storm, thunder, and lightning, but also life force and the breath, etc.). 

    Rudra, on the other hand, is said to be a powerful healer, and Shiva's name alludes to the same function. 


    • Shiva became the destructive side of the renowned trinity (lri-murti) in later Hinduism, the other two being Vishnu (representing the principle of preservation) and Brahma (representing the principle of creation) (standing for Hindu Religion, Customs and Manners the principle of ereation). 
    • As a result, Shiva is often referred to as Hara ("Remover"). 

    He is often shown on Mount Kaitasa with his heavenly wife Piirvati ("She who dwells on the mountain"). 


    • He is regarded as the first instructor of esoteric knowledge in several Tantras. 
    • The Shaivas refer to him as Maheshvara ("Great Lord," from mahfi "great" and fsh vara "lord") because he is the ultimate Reality. 
    • Shankara is the name given to him as the source of pleasure or tranquility, and Shambhu is the name given to him as the home of enjoyment. 
    • Pashupati ("Lord of the Beasts"), ishana ("Ruler"), and, last but not least, Mahadeva are some of the other titles given to him ("Great God"). 

    The linga is another symbol that is often associated with Shiva and has various meanings. 


    • The term Shiva-linga is often mistranslated as "phallus," although it really means "sign" and represents the fundamental principle of creation. 
    • The linga (also known as "lingam" in English) is the undivided and causative creative heart of cosmic existence (prakriti). 
    • Its female counterpart is the yoni principle ("womb," "source"). 
    • Both of these concepts work together to create the tapestry of space-time. 

    The shiva-linga is worn as an amulet by certain Shaivas, particularly the Lingayatas, and stone or metal replicas of the linga placed in yoni bowls remind Tantric practitioners of the bipolar nature of all apparent existence: Shiva and Parvati (Shakti), or Consciousness and Energy, play in the world. 



    Among the Vaishnavas, Vishnu ("Pervader") is the object of worship: 



    Vishnu is referenced in the Rig-Veda, thus Vaishnavism has its origins in Vedic times (e.g., 1 .23; 1 54; 8. 1 2; 29). 


    • Hari ("Remover"), Narayana ("Abode of Humans"), and Vasudeva are some of his other notable names ("God of [all] things"). 
    • Vishnu is depicted in mythology as sleeping in a formless condition on the cosmic snake Shesha (or Ananta) floating in the endless ocean of unrnanifest existence between the various eras of world creation. 

    Vishnu, like Shiva, is often shown with four arms, which symbolize his omnipresence and power. 


    • The conch (symbol of creation), the discus (symbolizing the universal mind), the lotus (representing the unity), the bow and arrows (symbolizing the ego sense and the senses), the mace (symbolizing the life force), the lock of golden hair on the left side of his chest (symbolizing the core of Nature), and the chariot (symbolizing the mind as the principle) are among his attributes. 
    • Vishnu is believed to have incarnated many times in order to reestablish the moral order (dharma) on Earth. 



    The following are Vishnu's 10 incarnations (avatira, "de­scent"): 



    1. Matsya ("Fish") incarnated for the sole purpose of rescuing Manu Satyavrata, the founder of the human race, from the flood at the beginning of the current world era. 


    2. Kurma ("Tortoise") emerged from Vishnu's infinity to retrieve numerous riches lost after the flood, most notably the elixir of life. 


    • Using the cosmic snake (Ananta) as a rope and the cosmic mountain Mandara as a churning rod, both the deities (deva or sura) and the counter-deities (asura) cooperated in churning the global ocean. 
    • The rod was pivoted around Kurma. 
    • All of the lost riches were retrieved as a result of their churning, restoring global order and equilibrium. 

    3. Varaha ("Boar") was created with the task of destroying Hiranyaksha ("Golden-Eyed"), the demon who had inundated the whole world. 


    4. Nara-Simha ("Man-Lion") appeared to destroy the e v i l monarch Hiranyakashipu ("Golden Vestment"), who had failed to slay his Reproduced from Hinduson PrahJada, a famous devoVishnu astee of Vishnu. 


    • Hiranyakashipu could not be slain by a god, human being, or beast at any time of day or night, within or beyond the walls of his palace, thanks to a blessing bestowed by God Brahma. 
    • Nara-Simha appeared as a lion-headed person inside a pillar at twilight. 
    • He ripped apart the king's body with his claws, killing him. 


    5. Vamana ("Dwarf") incarnated specifically to kill the evil Bali, who had dethroned the gods and taken control of the world. 


    • He asked Bali for as much land as he could walk across in three paces.
    • The demon emperor was amused by the request and allowed it. 
    • Yamana took two steps to encompass all of creation, then put his foot on Bali's head and pushed him into the infernal regions with his third stride. 
    • Yamana bestowed rulership over the nether regions to Bali since he was not completely devoid of qualities. 
    • The three stages of Vishnu are previously mentioned in the Rig-Veda (e.g., l .23. 1 71 8, 20). 

    6. Parashu-Rama (also known as "Rama with the Ax") was a warlike manifestation of Rama. 


    • He demolished the warrior estate twenty-one times, implying a major conflict between the kshatriyas and the brahmins during the early Vedic period. 

    7. Rama ("Dark one" or "Pleasing one"), also known as Ramacandra, was the righteous king of Ayodhya Nara-Simha and a younger contemporary of Parashu-Rama. 


    • The Ramayana epic tells the tale of his life.
    • Sita ("Furrow"), who is frequently associated with the Goddess Lakshmi ("Good Sign") and represents the principles of marriage faithfulness, love, and devotion, was his wife. 
    • She was abducted by Ravana, a demon king whose realm may have been in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), and saved by Hanumat, the monkey-headed demigod who symbolizes the ideal of loyal service. 

    8. Krishna ("Pul ler") was a God-man whose teachings are found throughout the Mahabharata epic, including the Bhagavad-Gfta and many other parts. 


    • The kali-yuga, which began with Krishna's death and will continue for thousands of years, is still in full flow. 


    9. Buddha ("Awakened One") was created to deceive evildoers and demons. 


    • Although some scholars dispute that this relates to Gautama the Buddha, there is little doubt that this was the intention of the brahmins who established the ten incarnation theory. 


    10. The avatara to come is Kalki ("THE BASE ONE"). 


    • He is depicted as riding a white horse and wielding a flaming sword in different Puranas. 
    • His mission will be to put the current world (yuga) to an end and the beginning of the following Golden Age, or Age of Truth (satya-yuga). 


    God Brahma is the most abstract of the Hindu trinity, and as a result, he has failed to captivate the imagination of the brahmins. 


    He is just the world's Creator. He must be distinguished from brahman, the nondual transcendental Reality, with caution. 

    Smartas, or followers of the Smritis (nonrevelato­ ry literature), are frequently characterized as those who do not belong to the major religious groups, such as Shaivism or Vaishnavism. 



    Gan­esha ("Lord of the Hosts")


    The elephant-headed God, is closely connected with God Shiva and is known by several other names, including Ganapati (which has the same meaning) and Vinayaka ("Leader"). 


    Ganesha hit the front pages of the New York Times and other major newspapers across the globe in 1995 for what has become known as the "milk miracle" (kshfra-camatkiira). 


    On September 2nd of that year, a normal Hindu in New Delhi dreamt that Ganesha was hungry for milk. 


    • When the guy awoke, he immediately rushed to the closest temple and, with the priest's permission, gave a scoop of milk to the statue of this god. 
    • The milk disappeared, much to his and the priest's surprise. 
    • The word spread quickly across the nation, and tens of millions of devoted Hindus rushed to the temples. 
    • Apparently, many others, including astonished doubters, saw the miracle in a variety of holy and non-religious places (such as Gane­ sha statues on car dashboards). 
    • The miracle ended as quickly as it had started, within twenty-four hours. 
    • Whatever perspective we take on the occasion, it allows us to consider the symbolism of the milk offering. 


    Milk was often blended with the legendary soma draft before it was given into the holy fire for the deities' pleasure, or it was imbibed by the sacrificial priest to enhance his connection with the deities in early Vedic times. 


    • Soma sacrifices were only comprehended and performed metaphorically in later times. 
    • Soma became the nectar of immortality, created by great concentration inside the human body. 
    • Milk, being a product of the holy cow, is steeped with symbolism. 

    Ganesha is especially associated with the sym­bolism of the life force (prana) and the serpent energy (kundalini), which causes the ambrosial liquid to flood the yogin's body after it has completely ascended to the psychospiritual center at the crown of the head. 



    Then we must seek out Durga ("She who is difficult to cross"). 


    Durga who symbolizes the cosmic force of destruction, namely the annihilation of the ego (ahamkara), which stands in the path of spiritual development and ultimate freedom. 


    • She is a loving mother only to those who follow the road of self-transcendence; everyone else is subjected to her anger. 
    • The embodiment of Durga's wrath, Kali ("Dark One"), is one of ten main Goddesses known as the "Great Wisdoms" (mahd-vidya).
    • Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshvari, Chinnamasta, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, BagaJamukhi, Matangi, and Kamala are the other goddesses. 
    • Chinnamasta ("She who has her head chopped off") is particularly significant for Yoga. 


    This ferocious Goddess is usually portrayed naked, with a garland of skulls around her neck stump, from which two streams of blood pour. 


    • In her left hand, she clutches her severed head. 
    • The Goddess chopped off her own head to feed her two attendants, Dakini and Vamini, or Jaya and Vijaya, according to several tales. 
    • This first sacrifice of the holy Mother, according to yogic interpretation, represents the left and right currents-idd and pinga/0, which must be sacrificed in order to induce the free flow of psychospiritual energy via the center channel (sushumno-nodi). 


    In order for enlightenment to occur, the head­ symbol of the mind-must be severed, that is, transcended. 


    • Sushumnasvara Bhasini, the Goddess's other name, suggests this yogic symbolism: "She who glows with the sound of the center channel." 
    • The Goddess Lakshmi, whose name is derived from lakshman ("sign") and meaning "Good Sign" or "Fortune," emphasizes the benevolent side of the Ultimate in its feminine form. 
    • The same element of the Divine is expressed by the South Indian Goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari ("Lovely Beauty of the Triple City"). 


    Rather than frightening (ugra) and horrific (saundarya), she is characterized as kind (saumya) and lovely (saundarya) (ghora). 


    • However, since Lakshmi and Lalita are seen as the ultimate Reality, they must also have a destructive side. 
    • The Divine, from our limited human perspective, is neither solely good nor solely negative, but it transcends all such classifications. 
    • The enormous Devi­ BhdgliJata, a Shakta counterpart of the Vaishnava Bhdgavata-Purona, which has been dated between the seventh and twelfth centuries, is the most significant Hindu book praising the Divine in its feminine form. 

    The great Goddess is presented as the universe's everlasting essence.



    You may also want to read more about Kundalini Yoga here.

    You may also want to read more about Yoga here.


    You may also want to read more about Yoga Asanas and Exercises here.


    You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

    Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.