My revered Guru Baba Mast Ramji who was a living embodiment of Advaita (Non-duality) lived in a self-made cave near the bank of the river Ganges in Rishikesh. His way of living was reminiscent of absolute dispassion as he used to wear a plain cotton chadar disregarding the vagaries of weather. He toured the length and breadth of India mainly along the bank of the river Ganges barefooted. It shows that he always lived with the awareness of being identified with the whole of creation. This is the zenith of Gyan yoga.
He used to give informal discourses to the persons sitting around him. In these discourses he laid emphasis on living a life observing the Yamas and the Niyamas, the first two limbs of the Yoga of Patanjali.
The Reality that he experienced was succinctly propounded mainly in two of his Sanskrit compositions: Geeta guhyam and Atmachintanam. His philosophy that consciousness is the only Reality and that the phenomenal existence is merely a superimpostion on it represents the essence of the Upanishads. It may be fairly held that the great Upanishadic proposition ‘tat tvam asi’ indicating the identity of the individual soul with the universal Soul (Brahman) is the epitome of his philosophy of life and it was amply demonstrated by the way he lived his life.
He never attached himself with the materials around him. People used to come to him in reverence and present costly offerings. He would immediately give those things to those who require it. One such householder presented a large bowl of cashews and a costly warm blanket to Babaji. A bhikshuk (beggar) sanyasi came and picked up the blanket and the bowl of cashews also. In response, Babaji blessed him with a very humble smile. The bhikshuk took away the presents. The householder immediately reacted and said, “Babaji, we brought these things for you.” Babaji simply replied – “By offering your material, you have shown an act of tyaga (sacrifice), thereafter, you should not remain attached to the things and even to your act. This verily is the nishkam (selfless) sacrifice.” This feature represents the state of extreme vairagya (renunciation) that he practiced in the normal course of daily life.
He was a living example of vibhuti level (perfections) as mentioned for a high level yogi in the Yog Darshan. Many a times he would forecast the future events.
(by Gayatri Yogacharya)
Krishna is one of the most widely revered and popular of all Vedic great personalities. The stories of Krishna appear across a broad spectrum of Hindu philosophical and theological traditions. They portray him in various perspectives: a god-child, a prankster, a model lover, a divine hero, and the Supreme Being. The principal scripture discussing Krishna’s story is the Mahabharata. Krishna is central to many of the main stories of the epic.
The eighteen chapters of the sixth book (Bhishma Parva) of the epic that constitute the Bhagavad Gita contain the advice of Krishna to the warrior-hero Arjuna, on the battlefield. The Bhagavad- Gita is considered by eastern and western scholars alike to be among the greatest spiritual books the world has ever known. In a very clear and wonderful way, the Supreme Lord Krishna describes the science of self-realization and the exact process by which a human being can establish their eternal relationship with God. In terms of pure, spiritual knowledge, the Bhagavad- Gita is incomparable. Its intrinsic beauty is that its knowledge applies to all human beings and does not postulate any sectarian idealogy or secular view. It is approachable from the sanctified realms of all religions and is glorified as the epitome of all spiritual teachings. This is because proficiency in the Bhagavad- Gita reveals the eternal principles which are fundamental and essential for spiritual life from all perspectives and allows one to perfectly understand the esoteric truths hidden within all religious scriptures. Many great thinkers from our times such as Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Schweizer as well as Madhvacarya, Sankara and Ramanuja from bygone ages have all contemplated and deliberarted upon its timeless message. The primary purpose of the Bhagavad- Gita is to illuminate for all of humanity the realization of the true nature of divinity; for the highest spiritual conception and the greatest material perfection is to attain love of God. Gita lays down three fold path for that realization – Karma Yoga, Gyan Yoga, and Upasana Yoga.
MOVE courses on Yoga will introduce the core concepts of Gita.
In the Yoga tradition, Patañjali is a revered name. The Yoga tradition is much older, there are references in the Mahabharata, and the Gita identifies three kinds of yoga. The Yoga Sutras codifies the royal or best (raja) yoga practices, presenting these as an eight-limbed system (ashtanga). The philosophic tradition is related to the Sankhya school. The focus is on the mind; the second sutra defines Yoga – it is the cessation of all mental fluctuations, all wandering thoughts cease and the mind is focused on a single thought.
Sometimes it is not just physical illness, but mental and emotional illness too that needs to be dealt with. Anger, lust, greed, jealousy etc. How does one get rid of all these impurities? What is the formula?
Patanjali’s Yoga philosophy is a practical philosophy. A very little part (the last pada) of it is theory or philosophy. The rest is related with practical advice. Maharishi Patanjali philosophized this yoga ideology in aphorisms and divided it in 4 chapters. The four chapters are: 1.Samadhi paad 2.Saadhan Paad 3.Vibhuti Paad 4.Kaivalya Paad. Maharishi Patanjali taught us that by practicing this yoga one can achieve the highest goal of life, which is called Kaiwalyam (oneness with Supreme Truth). Where there is no duality that is called kaiwalyam. How one can achieve the ultimate goal? MOVE courses on Yoga will introduce the path to that goal.
Patanjali is not the first acharya, because before Patanjali there were many seers, who have described this yoga – philosophy. Many Upanishads are related with the description of yoga. Sage Yama also is explaining it to Nachiketa (Kathopnishad). Bhagwaan Dattatreya explained this to his disciples and other seers. In the Mahabharata (shaanti parwa), Maharishi Vashistha teaching this yoga to King Janak, and lord Kapila and Maharishi Bharadwaaj also were teaching this philosophy to others which means that yoga was there before Patanjali. In the Mahabharata Vyasdev quoted Maharishi Dewal, Ashit, Jaivishati and many other Rishis as great yogis, there life and ideology. Maharishi Vyasdev talked about yoga philosophy.
The clarity and unity Maharishi Patanjali brought to divergent views prevalent till then has inspired a long line of teachers and practitioners up to the present day.
Shankara was born in the southern Indian state of Kerala. His father died while Shankara was very young. Idol of Adi Shankara at his Samadhi Mandir, behind Kedarnath Temple, in Kedarnath, India
Shankara’s hagiography describe him as someone who was attracted to the life of Sannyasa (hermit) from early childhood.
Adi Shankara was a philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. His works in Sanskrit discuss the unity of the atman and Nirguna Brahman “brahman without attributes”. His works elaborate on ideas found in the Upanishads.
His system marks a turn from realism to idealism. His Advaita (“non-dualism”) interpretation of the sruti postulates the identity of the Self (Atman) and the Whole (Brahman). According to Adi Shankara, the one unchanging entity (Brahman) alone is real, while changing entities do not have absolute existence.
Advaita Vedanta is based on scriptures (sastra), reason (yukti ) and experiential knowledge (anubhava), and aided by spiritual practices (karmas). Starting from childhood, when learning has to start, the philosophy has to be a way of life. Shankara’s primary objective was to understand and explain how moksha is achievable in this life, what it is means to be liberated, free and a Jivanmukta. His philosophical thesis was that jivanmukti is self-realization, the awareness of Oneness of Self and the Universal Spirit called Brahman.
Shankara considered the purity and steadiness of mind achieved in Yoga as an aid to gaining moksha knowledge. To Shankara, that knowledge of Brahman springs only from inquiry into the teachings of the Upanishads. The method of yoga, encouraged in Shankara’s teachings includes withdrawal of mind from sense objects as in Patanjali’s system, but it is not complete thought suppression, instead it is a “meditative exercise of withdrawal from the particular and identification with the universal, leading to contemplation of oneself as the most universal, namely, Consciousness”. Knowledge alone and insights relating to true nature of things, taught Shankara, is what liberates. He placed great emphasis on the study of the Upanisads, emphasizing them as necessary and sufficient means to gain Self-liberating knowledge. MOVE courses on Yoga will introduce the core concepts of Upanishadas and Advait Vedanta.
Shankara travelled across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy through discourses and debates with other thinkers. He established the importance of monastic life as sanctioned in the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra.
Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati
Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was a religious leader who founded the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement of the Vedic tradition. He was a profound scholar of the Vedic lore and Sanskrit language. Denouncing the idolatry and ritualistic worship prevalent in Hinduism at the time, he worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies. Subsequently the philosopher and President of India, S. Radhakrishnan, called him one of the “makers of Modern India”.
He was a sanyasi (ascetic) from boyhood, and a scholar, who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas. Maharshi Dayananda advocated the doctrine of Karma (Karmasiddhanta in Hinduism) and Reincarnation (Punarjanma in Hinduism). He emphasized the Vedic ideals of brahmacharya (celibacy) and devotion to God.
Among Maharshi Dayananda’s contributions are his promoting of the equal rights for women, such as the right to education and reading of Indian scriptures, and his intuitive commentary on the Vedas from Vedic Sanskrit in Sanskrit as well as Hindi so that the common man might be able to read them. One of his most influential works is the book ‘Satyarth Prakash’.
Dayanand’s mission was not to start or set up any new religion but to ask humankind for Universal Brotherhood through nobility as spelt out in Vedas. For that mission he founded Arya Samaj enunciating the Ten Universal Principles as a code for Universalism Krinvanto Vishwaryam meaning the whole world be an abode for Nobles (Aryas). By exhorting the nation to reject superstitious notions, his aim was to educate the nation to Go back to the Vedas. Through his daily life and practice of yoga and asanas, teachings, preaching, sermons and writings, he inspired the Hindu nation to aspire to Swarajya (self governance), nationalism, and spiritualism.
Swami Dayanand did logical, scientific and critical analyses of faiths i.e. Christianity & Islam as well as of other Indian faiths like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. He was against what he considered to be the corruption of the true and pure faith in his own country. Unlike many other reform movements of his times within Hinduism, the Arya Samaj’s appeal was addressed not only to the educated few in India, but to the world as a whole. In fact his teachings professed universalism for the all living beings and not for any particular sect, faith, community or nation.
Sri Aurobindo, Aurobindo Ghose, was an Indian nationalist, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for independence from British rule, for a while became one of its influential leaders and then became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution.
style=”width: 120px;height: 150px;”
Aurobindo studied for the Indian Civil Service at King’s College, Cambridge, England. After returning to India he took up various civil service works under the maharaja of the princely state of Baroda and began to involve himself in politics. He was imprisoned by the British for writing articles against British rule in India. He was released when no evidence was provided. During his stay in the jail he had mystical and spiritual experiences, after which he moved to Pondicherry, leaving politics for spiritual work.
During his stay in Pondicherry, Aurobindo developed a method of spiritual practice he called Integral Yoga. The central theme of his vision was the evolution of human life into a life divine. He believed in a spiritual realization that not only liberated man but transformed his nature, enabling a divine life on earth. In 1926, with the help of his spiritual collaborator, Mirra Alfassa (referred to as “The Mother”), he founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
His main literary works are ‘The Life Divine’, which deals with theoretical aspects of Integral Yoga; Synthesis of Yoga, which deals with practical guidance to Integral Yoga; and Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, an epic poem which refers to a passage in the Mahabharata, where its characters actualize Integral Yoga in their lives. His works also include philosophy, poetry, translations and commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1943 and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950.
Aurobindo’s close spiritual collaborator, Mirra Richard (b. Alfassa), came to be known as The Mother. She was a French national, born in Paris on 21 February 1878. In her 20s she studied occultism with Max Theon. Along with her husband, Paul Richard, she went to Pondicherry on 29 March 1914, and finally settled there in 1920. Aurobindo considered her his spiritual equal and collaborator.
Ramana Maharshi was an Indian sage and a soul in salvation during his life (jivanmukta). At the age of 16, he had a “death-experience” in which he became aware of a “current” or “force” which he recognized as his true ‘I’ or Self and which he later identified with Ishvara. This resulted in a state which he later described as “the state of mind of Iswara or the realized soul (jnani). He left his home in Madurai, and journeyed to the holy mountain Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai, where he took on the role of a sannyasin and remained for the rest of his life.
He soon attracted devotees who regarded him as an avatar and came to him for “the sight of God” (darshan), and in later years an ashram grew up around him, where visitors received spiritual instruction (upadesa) by sitting silently in his company and raising their concerns and questions. Since the 1930s his teachings have been popularized in the west, resulting in worldwide recognition as an enlightened being.
Ramana Maharshi gave his approval to a variety of paths and practices, but recommended self-enquiry as the principal means to remove ignorance and abide in Self-awareness, together with bhakti (devotion) or surrender to the Self.
It is Swami Kuvalayananda, whose efforts are chiefly responsible for the worldwide spread of Yoga.
It is due to his efforts that this ancient discipline of Yoga became more acceptable to modern mind, trained on scientific and rational guidelines.
It is a fact that due to his scientific work, Yoga became more widely acceptable and accessible in the field of health & healing.
He was born in 1883, on 30th August; at a time when the national resurgence was slowly awakening the spirit of Mother India. In his college days he came under the influence of Sri Aurobindo, who was working as a young lecturer in Baroda.Subsequently, after his graduation from the Bombay University, he plunged himself in Lokmanya Tilak’s Home-rule movement.During his journey, he came in contact with the Indian masses, who were ignorant, illiterate, superstitious and sick in spirit and body. He realized what great role education can play in reviving them. To give concrete shape to his ideas, he joined the Khandesh Education Society at Amalner, where ultimately he became the Principal of the National College, in 1916.
His association with Jummadada Vyayamshala at Baroda and its mentor, Rajaratna Manikrao a great exponent of Indian Physical Culture; made him aware of the various indigenous systems of physical culture including Yoga. This exposure to Yoga, opened a new vista for him. His sensitive mind enthused with the physical and psycho-spiritual aspect of Yoga, led him on the path of spiritual quest. Awaiting on this path to guide him, was the great Yogin from Bengal, Paramahamsa Madhavdasji, who had settled at Malsar, near Baroda, on the banks of Narmada.The insight in Yogic discipline under the guidance of Madhavdasji, gave Swami Kuvalayananda’s career a sharp turn. He ventured into a new field using entirely a new approach. He tried to investigate the effects of some of the Yogic practices on the human body with the help of some of his students, in the laboratory of Baroda Hospital, in 1920-21. His subjective experience coupled with the excellent results of these scientific experiments convinced him once for all that the age-old system of Yoga, if understood through the modern scientific experimental approach, would help greatly in the spiritual and material resurgence of the human society. This became his life’s mission.
In 1924, Kuvalayananda founded the Kaivalyadhama Health and Yoga Research Center in Lonavla in order to provide a laboratory for his scientific study of Yoga. At the same time, he also started the first scientific journal devoted to scientific investigation into yoga, Yoga Mimamsa. The Sanskrit word mimamsa means “investigation.” Yoga Mimamsa, has been published quarterly every year since its founding and is scheduled to be indexed in 2012. In Yoga Mimamsa, Swami Kuvalayananda and others published the first scientific experiments on yogic techniques, such as the effect of asana, shatkarma, bandhas, and pranayama on humans.
Yogi Shiv Charan Lahiri
Shyama Charan Lahiri, best known as Lahiri Mahasaya, was an Indian yogi. He was also popularly known as Yogiraj and Kashi Baba. He revived the yogic science of Kriya Yoga when he learned it from Mahavatar Babaji in 1861. He was unusual among Indian holy men in that he was a householder — marrying, raising a family, and working as an accountant for the Military Engineering Department of the British Indian government. Lahiri lived with his family in Varanasi rather than in a temple or monastery.
He became known in the West through Paramahansa Yogananda’s writings mentioning that Lahiri was chosen by Mahavatar Babaji to reintroduce the lost practice of Kriya Yoga to the world. Lahiri’s disciples included both of Yogananda’s parents as well as Yogananda’s own guru. Lahiri Mahasaya prophesied that the infant Yogananda would become a yogi, and “As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God’s kingdom.”
He often exhibited the breathless state of superconscious samadhi. He organized many study groups and gave regular discourses on the Bhagavad Gita at his “Gita Assemblies.” He freely gave Kriya initiation to those of every faith, including Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, at a time when caste bigotry was very strong. He encouraged his students to adhere to the tenets of their own faith, adding the Kriya techniques to what they already were practicing.
He continued his dual role of accountant and supporter to his family, and a teacher of Kriya Yoga, until 1886, when he was able to retire on a pension. More and more visitors came to see him at this time. He seldom left his sitting room, available to all who sought his darshan.
Over the years he gave initiation to gardeners, postmen, kings, maharajas, sannyasis, householders, people considered to be lower caste, Christians, and Muslims.
Guru GorakshNath (also known as Gorakhnath) was an influential founder of Nath yogi Hindu monastic movement. He is considered as one of the two most important disciples of Matsyendranath, the other being Chaurangi. The followers of Gorakhnath are found in the Himalayan states of India, in Nepal, as well as the western and central states of India and Gangetic plains. The followers are called Yogi, or alternatively as Gorakhnathi, Darshani and Kanphata.
He is described as more than a human teacher and someone outside the laws of time who appeared on earth in different ages.
Gorakhnath is considered a great yogi (Maha-yogi) in the Hindu tradition. He did not emphasize a specific metaphysical theory or a particular Truth, but emphasized that the search for Truth and spiritual life is valuable and normal goal of man. Gorakhnath championed Yoga, spiritual discipline and an ethical life of self determination as a means to reaching samadhi and one’s own spiritual truths.
Gorakhnath, his ideas and yogis have been highly popular in rural India, with monasteries and temples dedicated to him found in many states of India, particularly in eponymous city of Gorakhpur.
Swami Sivananda Saraswati was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Sivananda was born in Tamil Nadu. He studied medicine and served as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most of his life near Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh.
He was the founder of the Divine Life Society (DLS) in 1936, Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and author of over 200 books on Yoga, Vedanta and a variety of subjects. He established Sivananda Ashram, the headquarters of the DLS, on the bank of the Ganges at Sivanandanagar, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Rishikesh.
Sivananda Yoga is now spread in many parts of the world through Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres
Swami Yogeshwaranand Paramahans was one of the greatest Yogis of the 20th century. He lived the life of extreme renunciation and austerity mostly in the Himalayas practicing all that is laid down in the scriptures for the realization of soul and God and spent a life time in reviving the ancient science of Yoga.
Swami Yogeshwaranand Parmahans formerly known as Brahmachari Vyas Dev ji, left his home of his well-to-do parents at a tender age of twelve, like Buddha, in search of knowledge and self-realization. The young Brahmachari spent the early years of his life in the study of Sanskrit language and mastering the scriptural lore. He then followed the path of ancient rishis of Himalayas and practiced the most difficult tapasya and Yogic Sadhana while continuing the search of real guru who could lead him to the final goal. He came across a number of ascetics about whom one reads only in the scriptures but his search for a real guru was rewarded with the meeting of a great ascetic, yogi Paramananda Avadhoot, who helped him in perfecting void trance (shunya samadh). Later, his search for a great yogi came to an end only when he met Avadhoot Swami Atmanand ji (who had then returned from Tibet) in a cave near Gangotri (in Himalayas) from whom he learnt Samprajnata samadhi and perception of various processes of nature in the state of samadhi, the ultimate divine knowledge.
The various events of his life in the Himalayas with the great ascetics and the practice of higher yoga are far stranger than fiction. Some of them are even unbelievable for those who are not conversant with the power of yoga. One of the events of the great yogi’s life is described in his own words as “He placed his racious hand on my head. My eyes closed and I attained some unknown state. My body was illuminated as if by electric light. This light filled the entire body and revealed all its inner states, of subtle processes.”
By constant and dedicated practice of meditation he experienced various types of Samadhis, some of them lasting for several weeks which culminated in his gaining knowledge of self-realization, origin and dissolution of cosmos and the goal of human existence. Having satisfied his thirst for the ultimate divine knowledge, he spent the rest of his life imparting the valuable knowledge to hundreds of thousands of keen aspirants of all faiths from many countries of the world. He travelled widly out of India.
He merged in Brahma on April 23, 1985 at the age of ninety-nine. The esoteric knowledge which used to pass from guru to disciple through personal relationship and which sometimes required not only a whole lifetime but several lives, was set down, at the behest of his guru, in his books. Some day, when the top scientists of the world pay the attention it deserves, to this subtlest of subtle sciences, these books will give all the basic material for their research and cause a stir in the world of science. At present, these books are helping keen aspirants everywhere to achieve their ultimate goal of realization of soul and God.
Yogi Swatmarama was a yogic sage in India. He is best known for compiling the yoga manual Hatha Pradipika or Light on Hatha Yoga. The manual describes the use of asana, pranayama, mudra, and shatkarma as practices for achieving Raja Yoga or samadhi. In contrast to the focus on the mind in the Yoga sutras, the Hatha yoga focus on more complex asanas or body postures. Very little is known about the actual Swatmarama, but is believed to have a lineage to the Nath Sampraday:
“Matsyendranath, Goraksanath, etc., knew Hatha Vidya, and by their favour Yogi Swatmarama also learnt it from them.
Writing a forward for a commentary on Hath Pradipika, Shri B.K.S.Iyengar said,
“We are caught up in emotions like lust (kama), anger (krodha), greed (lobha), infatuation (moha), pride (madha) and malice (matsarya). Hatha yoga helps us to overcome these obstacles and hindrances to spiritual development. It is a biochemical, psycho-physiological and psycho-spiritual science which deals with the moral, mental, intellectual and spiritual aspects of man, as well as the physical and physiological. We can clarify our understanding of hatha yoga by first examining five important underlying concepts: mind, knowledge, aims of life, health and afflictions.
Man is known as manava (human), as he is descended from Manu, the father of mankind who is said to be the son of Brahma, the Creator of the world. The word mana or manas (mind) comes from the root man, meaning to think. Man is one who possesses a mind. Manas means mind, intellect, thought, design, purpose and will. It is the internal organiser of the senses of perception and the organs of action, and the external organiser of intelligence, consciousness and the Self. Man is graced with this special sense so that he can enjoy the pleasures of the world, or seek emancipation and freedom(moksa) from worldly objects.
Knowledge means acquaintance with facts, truth or principles by study or investigation. The mind, which is endowed with the faculty of discrimination, desires the achievement of certain aims in life.
Knowledge (jnana) is of two types: laukika jnana, which concerns matters of the world, and vaidika jnana, the knowledge of the Self (relating to the Vedas, or spiritual knowledge). Both are essential for living in the world, as well as for spiritual evolution. Through yogic practice, the two kinds of knowledge encourage development of a balanced frame of mind in all circumstances.
Aims of Life
The sages of old discovered the means for the betterment of life and called them aims or purusarthas. They are duty (dharma), the acquisition of wealth (artha) (necessary to free oneself from dependence on others), the gratification of desires (kama) and emancipation or final beatitude (moksa). Moksa is the deliverance of the Self from its entanglement with the material world: freedom from body, senses, vital energy, mind, intellect and consciousness.
Dharma, artha and kama are important in matters of worldly life. Dharma and moksa should be followed judiciously if they are to lead to Self-realisation.
Patanjli, at the end of the Yoga Sutras, concludes that the practice of yoga frees a yogi from the aims of life and the qualities of nature (gunas), so that he can reach the final destination – kaivalya or moksa.
Health and Harmony
To acquire knowledge, whether mundane or spiritual, bodily health, mental poise, clarity and maturity of intelligence are essential.
Health begets happiness and inspires one to further one’s knowledge of the world and of the Self. Health means perfect harmony in our respiratory, circulatory, digestive, endocrine, nervous and genito-excretory systems, and peace of mind. Hatha yoga practices are designed to bring about such harmony.
Human beings are subject to afflictions of three types: physical, mental and spiritual (adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika). Afflictions arising through self-abuse and self-inflictions are adhyatmika. Physical and organic diseases are caused by an imbalance of the elements in the body (earth, water, fire, air and ether) which disturbs its correct functioning. These are called adhibhautika diseases. Misfortunes such as snake bites and scorpion stings are also classified as adhibhautika. Genetic and allergic disease or diseases arising from one’s past deeds (karma) are known as adhidaivika. The practice of hatha yoga will help to overcome all three types of affliction.”
If Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras, codified the eight limbs of yoga (astanga yoga), Svatmarama did the same for hatha yoga. If the former is a scholarly exposition with gems of wisdom woven together, the latter is a direct practical and technical handbook.
Maharishi Gherund’s treatise on Yoga is a popular book “Gherund Samhita” i.e. Gheranda’s collection” which is a classic texts of hatha yoga. It is a manual of yoga taught by Gheranda to King Chanda Kapali. Unlike other hatha yoga texts, the Gheranda Samhita speaks of a sevenfold yoga:
Shatkarma for purification
Asana for strengthening
Mudra for steadying
Pratyahara for calming
Pranayama for lightness
Dhyana for perception
Samadhi for isolation
The text itself follows this division in seven chapters, and has a focus upon six cleansing techniques (shatkarma), thus this text is sometimes said to describe ghatastha yoga. Ghat is a Hindi word meaning earthen pot and the human body is equated with that.
Shri BKS Iyengar
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar cut a mean figure in his old age, sporting a mane of white hair and wild eyebrows that fanned his forehead between the stiff line that was always drawn down the middle (a marking to denote his sect within Hinduism). But the father of modern yoga, as he was often called, is remembered with an outpouring of fondness and grief the world over after his death from kidney failure. The 95-year-old was largely responsible for putting yoga on the global map, making the ancient Indian discipline more accessible to people of all ages.
B.K.S.Iyengar drew on the earliest accounts of yoga practices, most notably the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (a foundational text on eight-step yoga), breaking them down into digestible chunks with an emphasis on props such as ropes, blankets, blocks, bolsters and belts to achieve proper alignment and physical rigor. His style relies on classical yoga, branded as Iyengar yoga by others. “Some people say he practiced a type of Hatha yoga; others say Ashtanga. Yoga is one, he often said. Like God is one, yoga is one. Different people call it by different names.
“I would call him a practical philosopher who, being a very divine person, had the unique ability to come down to the level of the most mundane, teaching methodologies for us to uplift ourselves,” said Dr. Rajvi Mehta, who studied with Iyengar for more than 35 years.