Wednesday July 24, 2019

Bhagavad Gita: From despondency to Yoga

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Bhagavad-Gita

By Gaurav Sharma

In the midst of the serpentine armies, the warriors blow their conch-shells. At the grand setting, Arjuna, the finest archer, asks Krishna, his friend and guide to chariot him between the two armies.

Arjuna has an eagle-eye view of the battlefield. Overwhelmed by the stack of relatives and teachers rallying against him, Arjuna is stricken with grief and despondency at the thought of fighting his kith and kin.

Despondency

He lays down his famed Gandiva bow and begins arguing against the futility of war before Krishna. The stage is set for an epic dialogue to quell man’s eternal dilemma, the delusions of mind.

The despondency of Arjuna represents the perpetual conflicts, recurring contradictions and precarious predicaments that each one of us experiences but chooses only to contemplate and introspect when beset with psychological upheavals and mental breakdowns.

The moments of inner turmoil or the moral dilemmas erupting on the screen of the mind, in fact, act as an impetus for traversing the path and the goal of Yoga.

Multitudinal Yoga

The word Yoga is interpreted in myriad ways. The popular conception of Yoga as merely a series of bodily postures, techniques of meditation and art of breath control is rather fallacious.

Yoga means “to unite”, or “to join”. Panini, the 6th Century Sanskrit grammarian says the term Yoga is derived from either of the two roots– Yujir (to yoke) or Yuj samadhu (to concentrate).

According to Ved Vyasa, the first commentator on the Yoga-Sutras, Yoga means Samadhi (concentration). Those who are practicing the art of concentration are said to be yogis or yoginis.

Etymologically, combining or uniting implies the existence of more than one element. In this case, it indicates duality. This is the reason why yoga is most commonly used as a compound word, such as bhakti-yoga, gyana-yoga, raja-yoga, karma-yoga….., pointing towards union through devotion, knowledge, meditation and action respectively.

Some practitioners contend that aforementioned prefixes before yoga connote the substratum of Yoga, a series of progressive steps which form a ladder towards moksha or liberation. Yet, others believe that Yoga, in the compound form, is a means to achieve the ends that are the prefixes of bhakti, gyana and karma.

For moralists, Yoga incorporates ethical concepts directed towards leading a ‘sagely’ introspective life. The Tantriks see it as a way to enter other bodies and the Mahayana Buddhists view it as pure cognition, keen perception and discerning intellect.

According to Vivekananda, (the Vedantin), Yoga assumes a broader concept that includes the aforementioned prefixes (bhakti, gyana, karma..) as a means to achieving the end of Yoga itself. Yoga is both the means and the end. Yoga is the goal of Yoga.

Then there are others who view Yoga as an expansion of consciousness. Paramhamsa Yogananda, the post-Vivekananda yoga-guru used the term kriya-yoga to define the means to attain communion.

Kriya (literally meaning action) represents spontaneous bodily action arising from the flow of energy (kundalini). Kundalini is graphically represented as a coiled-up snake, denoting the tied-up bundle of energy within the human body.

Patanjali (1)
Patanjali in his Kundalini form

Symbolic meaning

The characters of Bhagavad Gita are also symbolic of our daily struggles.

For instance, Arjuna’s unwillingness to fight the battle with his own relatives refers to our own indecisiveness in discerning right from wrong. His doubts and delusions are compared to demons by Krishna. The scathing remark “do not succumb to such degrading impotence”, warns us of the pitfalls of choosing not to act.

Yet, everyday we choose to be a passive observer, a silent watcher of the evils of society that happen right beneath our eyes. Performance of our duties and abiding by our essential nature (Dharma) makes imminent and practical sense, yet we choose to lie in a sea of inactivity.

There is even a psychological underpinning to every character and name in the Gita. When the blind king Dhritarashta inquires from Sanjaya: Tell me Sanjaya, what did the sons of Pandu and my sons do when they assembled on the field of Kurukshetra?, it is an allusion to the fact that our blind mind (Dhritrashtra) should take instructions from the divine insight (Sanjaya)

The mind or manas is under a deluge of sensory activities whereas the Buddhi (intellect) is the doorway to truth. Amidst the opposing forces, the Ego or ahamkara, as represented by grandsire Bhishma is pulled into a tug of war, impeding the journey towards communion.

A vivid analogy describes this field of activity, the tug of war, in its most fulfilling form:

“The body is the chariot pulled by the five horses (sensory organs) towards different sense objects. The mind is the reign of the horses which receives impulses and sends relay from/to the charioteer. Intelligence is the charioteer that controls and guides the horses.”

Uncontrolledsenses
Uncontrolled senses as represented in Kathopanishad

Ensconced behind the web of words and concepts lies a treasure trove of wisdom. The right approach awaits its deciphering, one that defines the goal of life. Further delving into the mysteries of life through Bhagavad Gita’s lens in the next article.

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What’s Common in Several Bollywood Divas? Find it out Here

Deepika Padukone: If you want to have a svelte figure like Deepika Padukone, then the formula is a mix of cardio, gym, dance and yoga

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What ties Kareena Kapoor Khan, Deepika Padukone, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Jacqueline Fernandez and Alia Bhatt together? Their love for yoga.

The Bollywood divas credit their fitness level to their yoga routine. IANS takes a look at the stars who took to yoga and inspired many others to follow suit.

* Kareena Kapoor Khan: It is known that Kareena’s fitness journey is a result of yoga, exercise and a strict meal plan. She first stunned one and all with her ‘size-zero’ look in “Tashan”, and continues to set fitness goals with her workout regime. The actress might not be on social media, but images and videos giving a glimpse into how she adds yoga to her regime have surfaced on the social media making one thing clear — she is super-focused on getting fitter each day.

* Shilpa Shetty Kundra: For many, she is the poster girl for yoga. She has yoga DVDs, a YouTube channel of her yoga clips, and a fitness app, where she has a #MindItYogaProgram.

On her love for yoga, Shilpa had told IANS: “One of the very important things that yoga has taught me is to be emotionally secure and stay centered and connected to myself… Yoga helps to align our body’s chakras and strengthen our inner confidence. Once you are emotionally strong, how people perceive you, does not affect your personality. Yoga is the need of the hour.”

* Bipasha Basu: She is a yoga freak, and has several yoga DVDs and videos to prove it. In fact, Bipasha along with husband and actor Karan Singh Grover, gives couple goals by doing couple yoga. She says “he is a true Yogi. My inspiration everyday”.

* Alia Bhatt: She is another celebrity who practices yoga regularly. It is believed that she practices ‘Ashtanga yoga’ at least two times in a week, and also credits yoga for her glowing skin and toned physique.

* Malaika Arora: She has been inspiring everyone for long to add yoga into their lifestyle — and her social media is a testimony to it. “Yoga is a way of life that motivates you, grounds you, tones you mentally and physically, makes you mindful and invokes a feeling of happiness in you,” said Malaika, who co-founded Diva Yoga, and has invested in yoga and wellness startup SARVA.

* Jacqueline Fernandez: She likes to call herself ‘Yogini’, and says yoga is an integral part of her life. The actress holds yoga sessions and uses her social media to share images doing yoga, especially pole yoga.

Deepika Padukone and Kangana Ranaut
Deepika Padukone and Kangana Ranaut. (IANS)

“In the past couple of years, yoga has slowly become an integral part of me, and I am so proud of how far I have come… It has been 10 years in Bollywood and million points to yoga, for being my ultimate stress-buster,” Jacqueline said.

* Kangana Ranaut: Yoga is the secret behind Kangana’s toned figure. The “Queen” star has been practicing yoga for a while now and expressed her love for the ancient Indian art in an interview to a magazine. She said: “Yoga is a gift and I actually think that I have survived due to it. Through meditation, pranayam and yoga postures, I could vent out a lot of restless energy.”

* Deepika Padukone: If you want to have a svelte figure like Deepika Padukone, then the formula is a mix of cardio, gym, dance and yoga.

* Sonam Kapoor: Her fitness mantras include yoga, work out and pilate. Opening up about her struggle to lose weight, Sonam had shared that yoga helped her achieve the goal.

“I pushed myself too hard at spin classes, did power yoga for hours at a stretch, and developed an unhealthy relationship with food. Some weeks, desperate to drop a couple of kilos, I would simply not eat,” she said.

* Mouni Roy: She became an Internet sensation — thanks to her yoga poses. Recently, she posted a series of yoga videos of her trying out various asanas of the fitness regime — setting fitness goals for many.

Other stars who practice yoga regularly include names like Lara Dutta and Bhagyashree.

Also Read- Actor Arjun Kapoor Discusses About Pros, Cons of Stardom

Deepika Mehta, who has trained Alia, Jacqueline, Katrina Kaif, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Deepika, and is associated with Tata Sky’s value added service – Tata Sky Fitness, says yoga makes one’s quality of life better.

Mehta said: “In today’s world finding a mindful practice is very important for people because we have so much distraction, technology and stress. The technique of yoga gives you distance from the stress of your life and helps to calm your body and mind. Yoga is extremely important for a healthy life as it gives you a great sense of health and fitness.” (IANS)