Written by and © Udayabhanu Panickar.
An ensuing discussion is in progress what people erroneously come to identify as ‘yoga’. The discussion includes articles in the prestigious News Papers like the Washington Post and New York Times. The western countries as whole and eastern countries, in part, refer to it as ‘yoga’, which is not the “YogaH” in reality. Some has even categorized them into their own versions of “yoga”. “YogaH” is a goal to be achieved and ‘yoga’ is only a small fraction of one of the paths too that goal.
I am a naturalized American. I lived more than half of my life in America, that too most of it in the melting pot, i.e., New York, NY. Therefore, you can say I am more American than a bhAratEyan. However, I try very much to live by the Spiritual standards my ancestors devised for the betterment of the whole universe. In there, in ‘braHMavidya’ the ‘Spiritual standards my ancestors devised’ there should not be the commercialization of anything connected to it. As some of you correctly believe, Spirituality should never be commercialized. Once that is done, it is no more spiritual. According to our standards, it becomes religious. Whatever any one says, it is a fact that “YogaH” is a product of braHMavidya, which is the Spirituality of the ancient people of bhAratvaRsha, now some refer to as ‘India’.
When someone say, “yoga became merchandized”, they are correct. However, I cannot accept the statement that “YogaH” became merchandized” only recently. It was merchandised long back. In my opinion, it was commercialized (merchandised) the very first time it was introduced to the west. Because anything connected to the Spirituality of bhAratham cannot be sold for a price. When anyone charges a price or a fee, it becomes commercialized. It may not have been commercialized fully as it is now. This is applicable to anyone who does it, irrespective of the title they go by or the wealth they amassed with it. The case is not much different in eastern countries either. According to our ancestry, we are supposed to do these things without expecting a rewarded or by charging a fee.
Now most of what goes around as ‘yoga’ is only one part of “Pathanjali Maharishi’s Ashtanga Yoga Sutra” from which the ‘yoga’ practiced in the western world is taken from. So even if we accept and refer to “Pathanjali MahaRshi’s Ashtanga Yoga Sutra”, as yoga; we cannot accept what majority of the ‘yoga experts’ selling in the west as ‘yoga’, as ‘YogaH’. “YogaH” means, the merger of jeevAtman with the paramAtman. This cannot be taught by anyone to anyone else. As stated above, what everyone refers to now as ‘yoga’ is only “YogaH Sutra”, the ways and means to attain that “merger of jeevAtman with the paramAtman”. In addition, “Pathanjali MahaRshi’s Ashtanga yoga” is only one of the ways to attain that “YogaH”, as “Pathanjali MahaRsHi devised and conveyed to us.
There are other ways also to attain that “merger of jeevAtman with the paramAtman”. Bhagavad Geetha gives us lessons on Bhakthi, KaRma and JnAna YogaH.
Often some people say they become “so lonely and sad and angry with yoga!” I think that is due to the reason that people are not getting to true guidance of how to get to that attainment of ‘YogaH’. If people find someone giving you the correct guidance it is very good, because “that merger of jeevAtman with the paramAtman” is the birthright of every jeevAtman (the individual) and every one will ultimately will end up there, if you accept that concept or not. Some may take many lives and it may go on for numerous youga. However, I am sure everyone will reach there.
Water is referred to as something the same as ‘YogaH’, intended for the enjoinment and enlightenment of all. As in the case of “YogaH”, we do not get good water any more. We do not need pure water. What we need is good water. That is disappearing, if not already disappeared from this universe. In addition, it is ironic that we, humans are the cause of it. We misuse a lot of it because we, human beings think we own everything in this universe. We waste a lot of good water and good vegetation to produce little animal flesh, which is in fact the most dangerous thing we use after labeling it as food. Then we contaminate the rest of the water and vegetation also for producing that same dangerous animal flesh.
The ‘yoga’, which is being propagated in the world now with numerous variations, was started more that 2500 years back in that part of the world lot of people refer to as “India” and I refer to as BhAratham. How can people who learned it only few years back, (that few do not even get into three digits), can patent them? Is it not a theft, or at least a plagiarism?
It is erroneous to compare our Spirituality to the Biblical religions.
Our spiritual heritage is not a cult, a creed, a dogma, nor is it a one-way single path to heaven. It is multi lane Super highway for moksham, which is the merger of jeevAtman with paramAtman (for the English speaking world, we may refer this as salvation). It is not even just a religion as such–nor is it just a way of life. It is the complete and comprehensive collection of divine knowledge of the Absolute Truth, which–when learned and practiced–can lead people to the experience of the Absolute and the Ultimate Bliss. It is a continuously evolving and absorbing science – The Science of the Absolute – a flexible body of Divine knowledge centered on the quest of the jeevAtman (for the English speaking world, we may refer this as soul) for Its’ birthright, the divine realization. In addition, it makes provisions for all jeevAtman (souls) in this quest. Yet, it remains immeasurable as it safeguards the very purpose of all life everywhere and in all things. We may call It Sanatana Dharma, but never categories it as just a religion, or just as a way of life. It is much Greater and Spiritual than both. The wise called it “The Science of Spirituality”, The Science of the Absolute”, “The Science of the Self” or “The Science of the Soul”. It is braHMavidya.
Anyone can use it. However, please do not try to own it.