Tuesday January 21, 2020

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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Guide Yourself on a Path of Self-Discovery this New Year

This new year, discover a new you

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Inner self
It's time for some to nourish your inner self. Pixabay

BY PUJA GUPTA

After back-to-back celebrations of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year, the need for a tranquil haven to pamper, nourish, detoxify and recharge is a must.

Take a short break and head over to any of these places listed below if your are a wellness seeker and want to unwind your free spirit. Shoba Mohan, founder of RARE India, suggests a multitude of options for those who seek a road map to guide them on a path of self-discovery.

Meditation can help you in self-discovery. Pixabay

Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, Kovalam, Kerala

Recognized as one of the Best Ayurveda Resorts in India, it is a perfect getaway to refresh mind, body and soul. The Ayurveda resort is perched on a cliff-edge, flanked by secluded beaches and dotted with traditional Keralite heritage cottages. Keeping with the central holistic principle of Ayurveda, Niraamaya Spa creates a place of harmony and aesthetics that restores natural balance. It also presents a bouquet of wellness offerings including Ayurvedic therapies, Yoga, Meditation and Pranayama, which provide a complete spiritual experience coupled with luxury.

Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Bengaluru, Karnataka

Situated at just one hour’s drive away from the Bengaluru International Airport, Shreyas Yoga Retreat is a sprawling oasis with over 12 cottages spread over 25 acres of greenery, water bodies and organic gardens. Guests here are able to commune with nature and experience its healing powers. Dedicated to promote authentic spiritual tradition of Yoga in a holistic manner, Shreyas is one of the world’s finest Yoga retreats, where Yoga is taught in traditional ashram style with daily yoga and meditation sessions, chanting classes, gourmet vegetarian cuisine, etc.

Anahata Retreat, Goa

Unwind your free spirit at Anahata Retreat in Goa, which offers elegant and eco-friendly accommodation and an open-air yoga studio with spectacular sea view. Twice daily yoga classes are programmed during the season, with varying type of yoga sessions. From Hatha Yoga to Vinyasa Yoga to Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra, there are Yoga Classes for all levels only 50 meters from a silver sand palm-fringed beach.

Yoga self
Yoga can help in self-rejuvenation. Pixabay

Kathiwada Raaj Mahal, Madhya Pradesh

Walk away from the city chaos and reminiscence an era gone by at the Kathiwada Raaj Mahal in Juna Kathiwada of Madhya Pradesh. Open to discerning wellness seekers, the potent energy field, zero-pollution and complete silence make this property an ideal location for yoga and meditation. Moreover, the magical forests of Kathiwada lure you to take a guided trek into the dense jungles abound with indigenous trees.

Malabar Escape Purity Resort, Muhamma, Kerala

Purity is a magnificent lakefront villa hotel in an outstanding location near the peaceful waters of lake Vembanad in Kerala. The art & culture, experiences & flavours as well as personalized Yoga & spa treatments help to connect with traditions of Kerala. Pure Spa at this resort gives a cocooning Ayurveda treatment experience, making it a complete relaxing and luxury affair!

Also Read- Meditation Can Help You To Become Less Error Prone 

The Lodge at Wah, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh

The Lodge at Wah is a natural, eco-friendly home that offers guests a wholesome experience for self-care. Cottages are made of local materials and are worked on by skilled craftsmen from the region. The beautiful mountains and surreal natural beauty, coupled with the incredible climate, demand that tourists spend time outdoors and push their limits. Paragliding, treks, stargazing and bird watching are some of the experiences that one can avail for self-rejuvenation. (IANS)