110 IX RATIONALISTS’ VIEW OF YOGA. YOGA IS: SUPERSTITION
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON YOGA, PLEASE READ:
SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR AND THE ‘ART OF LIVING’ SEPTEMBER/DECEMBER 2006 http://www.ephesians-511.net/documents/ravishankar.doc
YOGA_A SUMMARY. JANUARY 2007. http://www.ephesians-511.org/documents/TCT_1_YOGA.doc
SURYA NAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA, YOGA MEDITATION_TO BE MADE COMPULSORY IN INDIAN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.MARCH/APRIL 2007. http://www.ephesians-511.net/documents/SURYA NAMASKAR AND YOGA.doc
YOGA IN THE DIOCESE OF MANGALORE. APRIL 2007. UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2007.
http://www.ephesians-511.net/documents/DIOCESE OF MANGALORE_ YOGA.doc
SURYA NAMASKAR, PRANAYAMA, YOGA ASANAS AND YOGIC MEDITATION AT ST. PETER’S COLLEGE, AGRA_ AN ENTIRE CATHOLIC SCHOOL GOES THE YOGA WAY.APRIL 2008.http://ephesians-511.net/documents/A%20CATHOLIC%20SCHOOL%20GOES%20THE%20YOGA%20WAY_SURYANAMASKARA-YOGA%20AT%20ST-%20PETERS%20COLLEGE-%20AGRA.doc
YOGA_WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY ABOUT IT?APRIL 4 & 5, 2009. http://www.ephesians-511.net/documents/YOGA_WHAT%20DOES%20THE%20CATHOLIC%20CHURCH%20SAY%20ABOUT%20IT.doc
Pune-ites inform me about one Fr. Anthony Lobo who was teaching yoga in Poona diocese; he left the Church in 2004:
“Fr Anthony Lobo is a very senior priest (contemporary of Bishop Valerian D'Souza), who was a proponent of Yoga. He has been to Germany and other places across the globe and I understand that he is… someone high in Yoga. He has left the Priesthood about a year or so ago, got married and has gone abroad somewhere. He must be around 72 or 73 years old.”
Yoga is Hindu. Hinduism is “soaked into the marrow” of yoga’s bones says Belgian priest Fr. J. M. DeChanet, author of books on yoga who also left the Church after priests promoted his work openly in Bombay archdiocese.
Yet our seminarians are compelledto do yoga in their formation, our priests write books on yoga and practise yoga, our Bishops approve and encourage these priests and support yoga programmes in their dioceses. Yoga is rampant in the Church. So, what is this YOGA?
THE ORIGIN OF YOGA
The origin of yoga is found in the ascetic practices of a religious group called the Vratyas in the Atharva Veda [ch. XV].
They are the first mentioned to practice the control of breathing and some sexual rituals with the goal of attaining ecstatic trance states.
The term ‘yoga’ has its root in the Sanskrit word yuj which means ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’.
In its present meaning it was first used [500 BC] in the Katha Upanishads [KU] where Yama, the god of death, explains to a disciple how to attain the perfect knowledge of Brahman and thus merge with it through restraining the senses and concentration. Yoga is here defined as the method through which the mind can bridle the wicked senses in order that the self may get off the body and be ‘united’ with Brahman, the Ultimate Reality. In the period of the late Upanishads [Yogatattva and some 17 others] composed later than 500 BC, it was considered that spiritual liberation could not be obtained exclusively by the means of contemplation but had to include certain ascetic techniques.
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad [SU, 2, 8-15] had already laid down guidelines for body postures, breathing control and focusing the mind exercises for being able to perceive Brahman.
In grounding the new yoga school, Patanjali, the foremost exponent of yoga, used the technical elements of these Upanishads as a tool for achieving the goal of the liberation of purusha (spirit) from the bondage of prakriti (matter).
There are two major meanings for yoga in Hindu spirituality.
The first designates the specific discipline organized by Patanjali.
The second has a broader sense, implying any effort undertaken in order to attain liberation [see below], independent of its meaning. Therefore any spiritual discipline aimed at liberating the self can be called yoga.
As a result, the term is used with various meanings [see below] having more or less in common with the darshana (philosophical school) of Patanjali who outlined eight distinct steps, for which the method is also called Ashtanga yoga (the yoga of the eight limbs), which if adhered to, would lead one to experience this union.
THE YOGA OF PATANJALI: ASHTANGA YOGA
The yoga of Patanjali is described in his treatise called YOGA SUTRA[YS].
Its purpose is clearly stated from its very beginning [1, 2]: citta vritti nirodhah, “the inhibition of the modifications of the mind”. The normal states of consciousness are the product of avidya (ignorance) which generates the sense of asmita (duality or separatedness) and abnivesha (the will to live).
The continuous flux of thoughts and mental images induced by such a mindset is termed “the modifications of the mind”.
They perpetuate ignorance and the captivity of purusha in the world of prakriti’s manifestations. In order that liberation may be attained, this consciousness must be extinguished and replaced by a different state of consciousness in which the experience of senses and mind produced by prakriti is replaced by extra-sensory and extra-rational experience.
Therefore the control of the mental states as required in yoga has a dual focus:
Both, the external illusion [the false identification of purusha with the psycho-mental fluctuations] and the internal source of illusion have to be conquered and destroyed. The yoga technique shows the practical way in which the entire human potential, both physical and psycho-mental is brought under control [‘yoked’] in order to attain the liberation of purusha. The ultimate goal of yoga, therefore, is a SPIRITUAL one.
THE EIGHT STAGES OF YOGA
The first two stages of Patanjali’s yoga, YAMA (social discipline/ external control) and NIYAMA (individual/ internal) consist of five restraints and five observances, the don’ts and dos of right living, together known as the ‘Ten Commandments of the yogi’.
Yama [YS 2, 30] recommends the observance of ahimsa (non-violence), satya (non-lies), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (non-indulgence in sexual activity) and aparigriha (non-attachment). Niyamais about maintaining shaucha (purity in body and mind), seeking santosha (serenity), tapas (austerity), svadhyaya (scriptural study) and Ishvara pranidhana (imitation of Ishvara). [This is not devotion to god, because Ishvara is nothing more than an impersonal macro-purusha [YS 1, 24] and there cannot exist any personal relationship between Ishvara and man.