What is the goal of Yoga? Many modern practitioners may say that it is to get a flexible body, or to get fit. This is a positive outcome but somewhat misses the mark, there is more to yoga then meets the eye. Traditionally speaking Yoga is one of the six orthodox philosophical schools of Hinduism. It is firmly rooted within the tradition and there are many scriptures which are committed to studying and exploring the various yoga practises.
So, if there is more to Yoga then just a better physical state what more is there? We can look to Patanjali’s Yoga sutras for a more subtle understanding. In the second verse say it is stated: Yogas chitta vritti Nirodaha. The state of Yoga is the quietening of mental fluctuations. This may perhaps suggest that the goal of yoga is the calming of the mind or living a more peaceful life. This like the physical benefits described above is a much desired outcome, we all need a more balanced and peaceful mind in our busy stressed out lives. But the scriptures suggest even more.
Recently whilst studying the Bhagavad Gita I came across a description of the state which the Yogi acheives which I wanted to share with you. In verse 6.27-28 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Shri Krishna says:
For an established Yogi whose mind is at peace, boundless happiness is attained. The one whose passions are controlled, who is without any impurity unites with Brahman (The ultimate reality).
Completely pure and absorbed in the state of Yoga, the Yogi through contact with Brahman finds boundless Happiness.
The Sanskrit words used are Atyantam Sukham. I have been meditating on these words for weeks now and they deeply resonated with me. Whether your religious path is union with God or communion with God, the goal is not just happiness but Atyantam sukham – unbounded happiness.
A good marker for how far we have come on the path is how happy we are. If we are angry, upset often, constantly frustrated, depressed, then we can turn to the ancient ones who have left us these road-maps to happiness. We can turn to the path of Yoga, which can not only provide us with a better physical body, make us live a more mindful life, but assist us in life’s true goal. This goal is sometimes called heaven, sometimes called liberation, but I really like this understanding of it simply as happiness.
I wish you unbounded happiness.
Recently I watched Twelve years a slave. You cannot help but feel saddened at how low we as humans can go, the beatings and lashings, the hard labour, the terrible living conditions, children being separated from their parents. I literally had tears in my eyes as the so called slave owners provided biblical justifications whilst viciously whipping innocent young children. I firmly believe that this is not the message of Christ but the message of blind greed and that any sane person wishing to see the essence of Christ’s message will find the love he stood for.
Before looking down at the slave owners, we need to look at the suffering we currently inflict on other beings in the world today. Suffering which we largely allow to pass in Wilful blindness without saying a word. Of course there is much human suffering still occurring in the world but this blog is primarily concerned with the current state of factory farming.
This new horrific video produced by the Humane Society of the United States shows slaughtered baby piglets being fed to their mothers who are confined in gestation cages.
What kind of peaceful world can we ever have if this nightmarish existence is created for animals. As a vegan I constantly encounter joking arguments from friends who consider me crazy for not eating meat, I know they mean no harm, but in a scary way I feel it is similar to those who ridiculed individuals who spoke up about the slave trade. Speaking up for animals is perhaps even more crucial for them we are their only hope. The work of the animal liberation movement and organisations working for compassionate farming has been crucial to the improvement of conditions for animals but so much more needs to be done.
Whether you choose to eat meat or not, please do not ignore the tremendous suffering of these helpless beings. In my opinion, one of the core teachings of Hinduism is compassion and love for all living beings and I believe modern animal factory farming and the video I have shared here to be the absolute antithesis to Hindu Philosophy. As Jajali rightly says in the Mahabharata:
Causing no harm to any living being, or at least as little harm as possible, is the way of life that represents the highest expression of dharma. That is the rule by which I live, Jajali.
Please don’t stay quiet on this. If only a single person watches it and feels compassion for these pigs, it is a step towards shifting our collective consciousness towards a better, safer, less violent world.
While I was working on the translation of The Beautiful Chapter: The Sunderkanda, I really felt like I was lost in love. The pain of separation from the beloved, the outpouring of love for Rama and for Rama’s love for his devotees. It is indescribable, in fact Shri Rama says that only his heart truly understands what this love is all about.’ This is what being lost in Love is all about. I had to pause my work and share this part with you:
Hanuman could not bear to see mother Sita in so much pain, he said in a calming tone, “Mother, Shri Rama and his brother are both well, but you should know that he suffers greatly when you suffer. Do not lose heart mother, Shri Rama loves you more than you could ever know. “
“Please be calm as I wish to share Shri Rama’s message with you.” From uttering even the name of Shri Rama, Hanuman felt shivers of love and devotion run through him, his eyes filled with tears and he spoke full of emotion.
Shri Rama said, “Dear Sita, since we have become separated, everything seeps upside down. The freshness of leaves seem like evil fire flames, beautiful nights have become like the end of time, the cool moon is now like a burning sun. Lotus flowers look like spears to me, when the clouds pour rain it’s like I’m being covered in boiling oil. The cool autumn breeze in the forest is similar to the hissing of a venomous snake. All the things in the world that were enjoyable before are now no more than causes for pain. The pain is reduced by speaking about it; but who can I speak to? Nobody understands my heart. My beloved Sita, the truth is that only my heart understands the reality of the love between me and you. “
Looking forward to sharing more soon.
Jai Shri Ram
I really feel this video encompasses the meaning of Compassion. The ego can so quickly overcome us, it is the inner values which need to be maintained. Ram Dass beautifully narrates the power of compassion shared by Terry Dobson. It is very touching and I feel displays the benefits of wisdom from our ancient traditions as appose to acting from our base impulses.
The Hanuman Chalisa is my doorway to the divine. Hanuman brought the message of Rama to Sita in Ravana’s Kingdom. In the same way this great devotional hymn provides us with the opportunity to invoke the Lords greatest devotee.
This tutorial of the Hanuman Chalisa by Krishna Das is the perfect companion to chanting. It has been viewed over 233,000 times and has beautiful animation.
There is English Transliteration for those who do not know how to read Devanagari.
Maharaji loved to hear the chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa and it is the perfect way to enter into the divine presence. I recommend chanting the 40 Verses of the Hanuman Chalisa every day.
Here is an excerpt from Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s book Krishna Samhita:
Those who are endowed with spiritual vision can recognise foreign saragrahis as fellow yogis. Komola-Sraddhas (Those of simple faith) and those who are inexperienced think if them as worldly or sometimes even against God. But saragrahis can easily recognize their fellow spiritualists, who are endowed with all good qualities, whether of their own country or foreign. Even though their customs, symbols, worship, language, and dress are different, they easily address one another as “brother”.
Apart from adding sister to the last word, I find tremendous inspiration from these words. The truth is one, the wise sages will call it by many names. There is the ultimate end of all interfaith dialogue.