Yoga Darshana and Yoga Sutras
Apart from these general branches of Yoga is Yoga Darshana – Yoga as one of the schools of Hindu/Vedic philosophy, as explained in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, regarded as the prime text on Yoga.
Yoga Darshana has its roots in the Vedas as is explained in the Mahabharata. Its founder is said to be Hiranyagarbha, often a name for Lord Brahma as the source of cosmic knowledge. The classical Yoga lineage is from Hiranyagarbha to the great Rishi Vasishta, his disciple, who has the largest number of mantras in the Rigveda, which lineage was a great lineage.
Patanjali is the Sutrakara or compiler of teachings for the older Vedic Darshana, not its originator or founder, as some today wrongly assume. He dates from the post-Vedic period, when the older teachings were being correlated and systematized. The darshanas are part of Hindu Smriti literature that rests upon the Vedas as Shruti or the source teaching.
Yoga Darshana as a Vedic philosophy accepts the authority or Pramana of the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, in which Yoga and Veda, or the higher knowledge and its practice, are commonly discussed under different names, forms and approaches.
Patanjali describes Ishvara, which refers to Brahman as the Cosmic Lord, as the Adiguru, the first teacher, of Yoga.
We must note that in Vedantic metaphysical thought Ishvara is the Self of the universal causal body and Hiranyagarbha is the Self of the universal subtle body, or two aspects of the same cosmic reality.
Patanjali teaches us that Ishvara’s indicator is Pranava or Omkara, which is the main means of contacting His power within us. Pranava or Omkara is also said to be the origin of the Vedas, which are similarly said to be the word of Ishvara or the Supreme Divine. Patanjali was also well known as a Sanskrit grammarian, so he was clearly aware of this fact. It again shows that Veda and Yoga are one. Veda is OM as knowledge and Yoga is OM as practice.
Another prime text of Yoga is the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna is said to be Yogavatara, the avatar of Yoga. He says that he taught Yoga to Vivasvan, a form of the solar deity like Hiranyagarbha, who in turn taught it to Manu, who was also the original teacher of the Vedas.
Yoga and Hinduism
Some misinformed scholars today tell us that Veda and Yoga are different, that Yoga is pre-Vedic, Buddhist, anything, but Hindu, though all main Yoga groups in modern times follow traditions and practices based in the Hindu tradition. This idea reflects their inability to connect Yoga with the Upanishadic quest for the Supreme Self and to the older Vedic mantras that aim at the highest light of truth. It is not the view of the great Yogis of India, like Sri Ramana Maharshi or Sri Adi Shankara, who recognize the Vedic roots of Yoga.
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As the Vedas are the prime scriptures or source books of Hinduism, Yoga is also the practice of Hindu Dharma. Yoga permeates every aspect of the Hindu way of life:
- Hindu rituals and temple worship are Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
- Hindu prayers, chants and songs are Mantra Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
- Hindu scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita are Yoga Shastras.
- Hindu dharmic values like truthfulness are yogic values.
- Yoga Sadhana is prescribed for every Hindu, according to his or her Ishta Devata or chosen form of the Divine that they are free to worship, or their Guru.
Yoga may be taken up by members of other religious communities or by atheists to some degree – but there is no community or culture that Yoga is such an integral part of as it is of Hinduism.
There is no Yoga tradition apart from Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma, from which it arises as a way of spiritual practice. Whatever universality people find in Yoga rests upon the universality of Sanatana Dharma, not upon any single group or guru coming out of it. Veda is our natural universal Dharma and Yoga is its unifying expression.
If we return to that unity of Veda and Yoga, there will be wisdom, peace and happiness for all.
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