Yoga means ‘Union’: The Union of the individual soul or jiva-atman (which is individual’s true self not associated with any manifested phenomenon) with the Supreme Spirit, the Paramatma, the un-manifested absolute, the transcended self, the all pervading cosmic consciousness. It may imply that the individual and cosmic consciousnesses are separate entities. But such an idea of separation is only an illusion of our own mind. We, not only are one with the Cosmic Consciousness; we actually are the Cosmic Consciousness. Therefore Yoga is to be understood not so much as achieving the union with a separate entity but as a realization of the inherent union which already exists. The Yogi is a human frame whose individuality is dissolved into Universality. The entire practice or “Sadhana” in the path of Kriya Yoga or one of the many routes or paths postulated and guided by sages of all religion in all ages is to attain this supreme state of bliss where the infinite, absolute and all pervading consciousness of the Supreme Soul can be inexplicably experienced within the finite frame of our own human existence.

HISTORY AND BASICS

Hinduism does not have a unified system of belief encoded in a declaration of faith or creed. It is an umbrella term, outwardly accepting multiple pluralities but ultimately and inwardly revealing the means and methods to understand and experience the underlying unity of the universe and all beings ever present or will be present into it.

All the major classifications of Hindu Philosophy namely, Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva Mimamsha and Vedanta are united in their belief in a universal law and order namely the “Dharma” and the “Rta”. “Dharma” is the natural order and properties of all living and non-living beings of the universe and “Rta” is the principle which regulates and coordinates the operations of the universe and everything within it. This unitary underlying order in the universe is all pervasive and omniscient. And finally, the supreme and universal Spirit which lies beyond the perceptible senses, and in which this perceptible universe is originated and supported is called the “Brahma” or the Absolute.

YOGA ORIGINS

Patanjali is regarded as the compiler of Yoga Sutras during the period 150 BCE or 2nd BCE. Patanjali defines the word Yoga is his second sutra as “Yoga : Citta – Vritti – Nirodah” —- Swami Vivekananda translates the sutra as … “Yoga is restraining (nirodha) of the mind-stuff (citta) from taking various forms (vritties).

In various places in Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna (the Supreme Spirit) explains to Arjuna (the Human Soul) the practices, results and benefits of Yoga in various ways and forms. In chapter 2, verse 48 the Supreme Spirit extols the virtues of Yoga to the pure human soul (the Arjuna or Dhananjaya)…

“O Dhananjaya, remaining immersed in yoga, perform all actions, forsaking attachment (to their fruits), being indifferent to success and failure. This mental evenness is called yoga…..” (Bhagwad Gita chapter 2, verse 48).

Now this mental evenness or poise is the result of communion of the individual soul with the universal spirit and can be attained through practice of breathing control and meditation under the grace and guidance of a fully realized Guru or Yogi who has already travelled the path before us and experienced the ultimate state where the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object (Samadhi).