The History Of Yoga

Yoga, aptly described as the 'divine science of life', and is known to have enlightened the learned sages over the ages through meditation. Since it is an ancient science, the origin of this form of medication and health care or wellness is basically covered in ambiguity. Barring the fact that yoga originated in ancient India, actually, very little is known about the beginning of this form of mental and physical medication. Archeological excavations have brought to the fore some evidence regarding the practice of yoga in the ancient Indian civilization. Stone seals found in a number of archaeological sites depict yogic asanas on them. These seals have been particularly found in the areas where the Indus Valley Civilization flourished and dates back to around 3000 BC. Incidentally, the ancient collection of Holy Scriptures composed during the Aryan age of the Indus Valley Civilization known as the Vedas first mention of yoga. While the Vedas date back to 2500 BC, it is basically the Upanishads, which comprise the later part of the Vedas that actually provide us with the details regarding yoga - including the manner of teaching this ancient form of spiritual and physical exercises as well as the philosophy or way of life known as the Vedanta. Going deep into the philosophy of Vedanta, it talks about a complete realism or realization or consciousness that is known as the Brahman in the Hindu community. The Vedanta says that the Brahman underlies the complete universe. However, while yoga still reigns supreme, this belief of Vedanta is now being debated among the community itself.

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The mythological angle of yoga is more prominent in the two Hindu epics - Ramayana composed by Rishi Valmiki and Mahabharata by Vyasa around the sixth century BC. Along with Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita was composed that is probably the most popular and best known of all written materials from that ancient era. The Bhagavad Gita is a part of the Mahabharata where Lord Krishna, who is depicted as God or Brahman, teaches as well as instructs Pandav hero and warrior Arjuna how to fulfill one's duties in life by practicing yoga. In this Holy Scripture, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that this is also a way to obtain emancipation or 'moksha'. Again Yoga Sutras composed by Patanjali in the third century BC furnishes details about Raja Yoga. Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a traditional manuscript on Hatha Yoga explains the numerous asanas and breathing exercises that form the base of the modern day yogic practice.

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The meaning of yoga

Although there are various aspects of yoga practice, the principal function is one - to bring back together the individual 'Self' (also known as 'Jiva') with the 'Absolute' or wholesome realization known as the 'Brahman'. In fact, literally translated to Sanskrit, yoga means joining or unification. Hence, the unification of the spirit with this static realism unshackles it from every meaning of severance. This also liberates the spirit from the delusion of time, space as well as reasoning. According to the Holy Scriptures, yoga helps in liberating the spirit as it is only an individual's lack of knowledge and helplessness to distinguish between the authentic and the illusory that stops him from becoming conscious about his genuine personality.

Despite the unawareness, an individual's spirit is able to often recognize that there is something absent in the person's life. This wanting is something particular which cannot be satisfied either by accomplishing an ambition or gratifying a wish. It is a fact that in every individual's existence the restive exploration for love and affection, for achievement, for contentment are all onlookers to this fundamental consciousness of a realism that everyone can discern, but cannot attain.

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According to the preaching or teachings of yoga, the fundamental thesis is that realism is static and never changes. Yoga principles emphasize that contrary to this, the world that we perceive is in a continuous condition of vacillation and hence, it is a delusion or 'Maya'. This concept is best manifest in the description of Nataraja or Lord Shiva, the Lord of Dance. In Hindu mythology, Nataraja is illustrated in a dancing pose with his one foot raised. According to mythology, if Lord Shiva puts both his feet down, the universe that we perceive will come to an end. Although it may appear to be a trifle perplexing, yoga texts say that the universe we recognize is an illusion that is a superimposition on the real. It says that the manifest universe is a projection on the screen of realism, much like a movie is projected on the screen of the cinema. Citing examples and drawing parallels, the yogic teachings say that just like while walking in the darkness a person may blunder a rope to be a snake, in the absence of lighting a person may slip-up the illusory for the genuine universe.

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The fact that the teachings of yoga still hold true even to this day, it is a manifest in the exploration of modern-day science for the eventual and inseparable particle of matter. This once again proves that the illusive temperament of worldly reality preached by yoga holds strong ground. This fundamental yogic principle has eventually led to the comprehension that substance and energy can be changed from one form to another. It has also led to the belief that the hardness that we recognize in matter is fashioned by movement or pulsation - much similar to considering a running fan as a complete encircle. Yoga says that almost all of what we identify as unyielding is basically vacant space. For instance, if we were to remove all space from the atoms in our bodies keeping hold of just the 'non-space', it would be really impossible to see the remaining space or matter.

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The creation of Maya

Initially, the yogic way of life just included self-unifying energy, static, inestimable and the amorphous. However, the method of segregation that has given rise to the apparent universe or the physical world that we are aware of has been explained in many dissimilar ways. According to the yogic philosophy, initially there was only the Spirit or 'Purusha' and this was followed by a immense reverberation (which is also known as the 'Big Bang' theory in the West) that led to the evolution of the material universe known as 'Prakriti'. Prakriti is the obvious world we recognize today. After 'Prakriti' departed, the three qualities known as the 'Gunas' were categorized, while in 'Purusha' they remained in balance or symmetry. Incidentally, the similar method is often explained as the segregation of the 'I' and 'this' of the subject and object. Explaining this in terms of mythology, this signifies 'Shakti' leaving 'Shiva' during the raising of Kundalini. Hence, in Kundalini - when the situation of tremendous realization is attained by the yogi, the two principles are once again united and there is no delusion left whatsoever. In brief, this is also known as the 'Maya'.

Karma and reincarnation

According to active yoga practitioners or yogis, the body and mind are nothing, but a part of the deceptive material world which has a restricted life period. On the other hand, the yogi considers the spirit to be perpetual as it is believed to move on from one body to another when the former perishes. The Bhagavad Gita draws similes between the body and the clothes a person wears. It says, "Just like a man throws away his torn clothes and puts on new ones, the spirit embodied in a person too leaves the body when it perishes and takes refuge in a new one. The Holy Scriptures emphasize that it is through the sequence of reincarnation or re-birth the shroud of unawareness becomes slighter and we move closer to be one with our inner self. Here it is important to know that the law of Karma - or the rules of cause and effect and action and reaction - forms the basis of the yogic philosophy. According to the laws of Karma, every action initiated by us bears fruits either in the present life or in the lives thereafter. The ancient adage 'we reap what we sow' is never more true than in the laws of Karma, which states that a person molds his future by what he does or thinks in the present.

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