Posted in Yoga by udoit on September 23, 2012
Sankhya means perfect intelligence. By nature, perfect intelligence in its entirety never changes in other words things that do not change are perfect intelligence. We acquire partial intelligence when we either do not have comprehensive information or ignore some details so a partial intelligence keeps changing as we know more details. Since our body and all the materials in this world are continuously changing, they are partial intelligence. Our body continuously changes where as the soul never changes therefore it has the characteristics of perfect intelligence. The world and our soul emerge out of the same source then they merge back into it. God is not required to create this world and all the organisms. Soul based on its Karma abides a new body. When the soul realizes the intelligence (self-realization) that it is different from the body then it stops abiding new bodies. In other words, soul liberates from the birth and death cycle.

In the ancient India for thousands of years, many philosophers explored to find the meaning of human life. It resulted in many spectacular revelations and philosophies. Sankhya philosophy is one of the earliest and foundational principles of all those philosophies. Kabilar composed the Sankhya philosophy when people were worshipping nature. The original 72 verses of Sankhya written by Kabilar are not available now but a few books on Sankhya are available. All the religions have their own principles about the human life as well as various things in this universe . The following paragraph briefly explains the principles of Sankhya philosophy in that regards.

The main objective of the Sankhya philosophy is to liberate human beings from this material world desires and attachments. Everybody in this world are aware of his or her own existence (have conscious) as a result, we distinguish ourselves from the selves of others. As we grow older, our body and the world around us continuously change. However, there is no change in our conscious. Therefore, our self-conscious is the prevailing truth compared to our body and the surrounding world. If we think deeply, we can clearly realize that something in our-selves creates that self-conscious and that feeling never changes. That self-conscious is the soul and it is the perfect intelligence. Since our body changes continuously, it is different from our soul and when we die the soul leaves our body. Therefore, life and soul are the same and it is referred as Purusha. Based on this principle, the Sankhya philosophy states that the Purusha and world emerge out of the same source known as Prakiruthi and it is innately a perfect intelligence. Even though this world and Purusha are emerged out of Prakiruthi, the world changes continuously but Purusha never changes ultimately both merge back into Prakiruthi. Besides this main principle, there are 25 important principles (known as Sotasakanaghkal) explaining about the five senses (sound, touch, light, taste and smell) and the corresponding organs as well as three different feelings (happy, sad and unmoved) that we perceive in this world. Based on these three feelings, Sankhya classifies all the objects in this world into three categories namely Rajasam, Thamasam and Sathuvam. Interestingly, the ancient Indian medical practices also classify things in nature into three categories Vatha, Pittha and Kaba.

Another interesting principle of Sankhya philosophy is the difference between body and life. Life is not created from the body. Similarly, body is not created from the life. From the materials (such as five elements and organic compounds) found in this world, body is created. In that context, those materials are called as Prakiruthi then in order to differentiate it from the source of those materials and soul, Sankhya refers the source as root Prakiruthi. Birth and death is only for the body not for the Purusha but it remains as a witness to all of changes to the body as well as its surroundings. In addition, Purusha enables the body to experience (and consume) worldly materials in other words Prakiruthi (not the root Prakiruthi) uses Purusha as a tool to experience and enjoy this world. During that process, Purusha caught into an illusion (known as Maya) that it is experiencing all feelings then (wrongly) identifies itself with the body. As a result, Purusha starts accumulating inevitable results (rewards or punishments) known as Karma. These Karmas keep Purusha as a germinating seed so that it sprouts again in another body after the death of one. Purusha’s birth and death cycle is the effect of its Karmas. The rigors of spiritual practices (such as Yoga) fry the Purusha as if the fried seed cannot germinate, Purusha will not abide a new body.

Sankhya philosophy clearly says that rigors of spiritual practices decimate the effects of Karma and that is the only way for Purusha to liberate from the birth and death cycle. However, there are not many details on those spiritual practices because either most probably, those details are lost like the original 72 verses or it is the shortcoming of the Sankhya philosophy.

– Translated from the Tamil book authored by Sri Ghanajothi Sambanghi


Raja Yoga

Posted in Yoga by udoit on January 22, 2012

Majority of people in this modern world know that the word Yoga represents activities (postures and meditation) which improve one’s physical as well as mental health. However, people get confused or unable to differentiate when they come across different words like Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bikram Yoga and Astanga Yoga etc. The following paragraphs provide Raja Yoga’s overview and background, also a brief history on how various practitioners – known as Yogis – interpreted and recited it.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali makes up the foundational text of Raja Yoga. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali prescribes steps to quiet one’s mind and liberate the spirit. Raja Yoga aims at controlling all thought-waves or mental changes. It starts with postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayamas) as a preparation for the meditation and concentration that enable controlling of the mind. The opinion of most scholars is that Patanjali was not the author of Yoga. Instead, he was a great expounder who interpreted various techniques that existed before and set them forth point by point.

In ancient India, the word Yoga is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Specifically, the word yoga is used to refer one of the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophies (Sankhya yoga, hatha yoga, jnanayoga, bhaktiyoga, etc.). The Yogis of Sankhya School of philosophy researched to understand secrets of human beings. In other words, they pursued for self-realization (Who am I?). As a result, they propound theories on human being’s physical body and metaphysical elements such as mind and life (spirit). The Raja Yoga or Yoga Sutras of Patanjali emerged from those metaphysical theories.

In the 15th-century, Yogi Swatmarama introduced the term Raja Yoga to distinguish the school based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali from his school known as Hatha Yoga. His school – Hatha Yoga – is based on various texts (including Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) and his own yogic experiences. Following the same path, various Yogis created different schools of yoga, as a result, there are an array of disciplines as listed above (Vinyasa Yoga, Astanga Yoga etc.). The term Raja Yoga is also used as the title of an entirely unrelated practice by the Brahma Kumaris and Prajapita Brahma Kumaris.