Thursday, December 1, 2011



On 25th, November, this year, Father Gabriel Amorth, the 85 year old Chief Exorcist at the Vatican, has surprised many people across the world by his criticism of Yoga.

He is reported to have said:'Practising yoga brings evil as does reading Harry Potter. They may both seem innocuous but they both deal with magic and that leads to evil.'

He added:'Yoga is the Devil's work. You think you are doing it for stretching your mind and body but it leads to Hinduism. All these oriental religions are based on the false belief of reincarnation.'  ( You can Read more on it at:  ).

There is no need for one to get into any argument with the Chief Exorcist of Vatican – who has obviously never read anything significant about Yoga, nor intends to. All that one can say of any one who does not want to even read Yoga sutras is - “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

But, what in very brief is Yoga?

Yoga is otherwise called Ashtanga Yoga. It is not invented by Patanjali Maharshi but compiled by him into principles. Much earlier to him, Lord Krishna has given it in his Dhyana Yoga chapter of Bhagavad Gita. And, he had said, this great knowledge has come from the most ancient times, and I am only reiterating it now.

It was told  much earlier by Great sages and saints, who say they have received it from the Adi Yogi, Siva himself. But, of course, there is no need for the chief Exorcist of  Vatican, or for that matter, you or I,  to believe all this.

But, what  does this so called DEVIL’s work ask its practitioner to practice all his life? This is important. The fruit of the pudding is always in the eating.

Let us look at the 8 prescribed limbs or  steps of Ashtanga Yoga, as given by the great Patanjali Maharshi in his Yoga Sutras.

1.   The first step or limb is called Yama and it has five  parts. These parts are (i) Non-violence (ii) Truthfulness (iii) Non-stealing  (iv) Brahmacharyam – which signifies not mere abstinence from sex but also steadfast adherence to the path of clean life and absolute truth (v) Not keeping or seeking any thing beyond one’s barest needs (and not taking any gifts or any thing without paying its full, justified price). Patanjali says – these five parts of the first step of Yoga must be followed without distinction of birth (caste, religion, race, colour etc), place (following at one place, not following at another), time (following at one time, not following at another), conditional practice etc. In other words, the five yama practices must be unconditional and Universal in the life of the Yoga practitioner. And, this is the FIRST STEP  of yoga.

2.   The second step of Yoga is called Niyama. It also has five parts. (i) Internal and External cleanliness (ii) Bliss and contentment with what one has (iii) singular aim to achieve the absolute truth (iv) Constant learning of the absolute truth (v) surrender to the God. Now, these five also have to be bound by the first five parts of Yama. Wherever there is a conflict, the first five will be the guide. But, in general, there is no conflict. What should one do when untruth, greed, anger etc enter into one’s life? Patanjali says – they don’t go from our minds - by our asking them to go. They go when you force into you, their opposites, like truth, generosity, love, Compassion etc.

3.   Only for the one who has succeeded to a reasonable extent in Yama  and Niyama – the third step, namely “Asana” or the method of sitting for practicing the rest of yoga is prescribed.  Patanjali is very simple in the third step. He says – sit comfortably and firmly. Other steps become easier for the Yogi who gets reasonable grip on Asana. This grip is called Asana Siddhi - or skill in Asanas. The names of asanas and the postures do not matter. What matters is your stability and comfort in any one of them for further practices.

4.   Only then comes the fourth step – called “pranayama”, or control of the force of prana, through control of the breathing processes. Pranayama greatly reduces the wavering and instability of the mind and brings it under the Yogi’s control. Pranayama makes the Yogi’s mind fit for the next step.

5.   After this comes the fifth step of “Pratyahara” – in which the five senses must give up their sense objects and become one with the inner mind, which is already under Yogi’s control to a great extent. With this comes  great sense control and mind control.

6.   Now, the yogi becomes capable of concentrating the mind on any object or person. This Dharana can be done on any pure or sacred objects. But, Patanjali himself warns the Yogi of the possibility of shifting direction from the ultimate aim of Samadhi or Nirvikalpa Samadhi, which is the ultimate realization of the absolute truth. Yogi must continue in his path for realization of absolute truth.

7.   The next step is “Dhyanam”. The continuation of Dharana on the selected object / person  in a particular way for long duration is called Dhyanam. Readers must understand that whoever has gone at least some length in the first two steps of Yama and Niyama will be the very best of human beings – and they will not be interested in doing Dhyanam on any thing other than the absolute truth.

8.   When the dhyanam reaches a certain level, then all shapes and forms vanish in the dhyanam – and the absolute truth begins emerging. This stage is called Samadhi. In Samadhi, "here I am who is seeing the absolute truth" -  is a sensation which is present for quite some time. If this “I” sensation is present, the yogi will continue the Samadhi further, until the “I” sensation totally vanishes. Only the absolute truth remains then. There is no seer, seen or the act of seeing in that absolute bliss stage.

This in brief is the essence of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. What is practiced in many western yoga schools is Asana and Pranayama only. Many Indian schools also teach similarly. Well. It has its benefits. No one can deny those benefits. But,  Slowly, but surely, people of all religions are seeing Yoga as beyond any religion.
Yoga does not ask you to believe God, Devil, Heaven, hell, life, death or whatever. Even the concept of “Eswara” that Yoga sutras propose is defined clearly by Patanjali – and is a special force, not subject to any of our human weaknesses. Very simple definition indeed.

Now – it is up to any human being to learn, understand and practice Yoga Sutras and bring the absolute, eternal truth into his own experience and being and know for certain it to be the highest truth. 

Or, any one can always continue to believe whatever he or she does at present – without really knowing its veracity and truth by himself. 

But, belief has its comfort too. Not every one is capable of practicing Yama or Niyama the way Patanjali wants us to do. Not every one is capable of even, asana or pranayama. Therefore not every one is capable of pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, Samadhi or nirvikalpa Samadhi. 

Therefore, one can comfortably be a Hindu, or Christian or Buddhist or whatever one wants to. One can comfortably adhere to all the beliefs of his ISM – They don’t call for any great effort as does Yoga. One can just believe his ISM. As simple as that. It has been going on all the time in all the ISMs. There is no quarrel with it. People can always continue in it.

You know you have two hands, two legs, a head and so on. You know all this; you have personal proof for all these - and therefore, you don't have to believe them.  But, heaven, hell etc are belief systems.You can believe your ism's heaven and disbelieve all other ism's heavens. But, Understand that - your heaven is just your belief - not some thing in your knowledge - like your hands and legs are. There is no one alive now in any ism - who has any such direct knowledge of the things that happen before birth and beyond death. Therefore, each has an ism - and quarrels with all other isms - as if he knows his beliefs to be absolutely certain.

Did we not believe that earth was FLAT in the same way - for a long time, till science proved it to be Untrue. Al isms still hold on to beliefs which are conclusively proved by science to be UNTRUE

Now the question before us is - Do you want to believe or do you want to know

That’s the question that Yoga wants its practitioner to answer – if one wants to practice Yoga. If we want to KNOW - we can practice Yoga. Else, each can go – in his own belief and path!! 

Yoga has no quarrels with that. It understands. 

Yoga is not a RELIGION. It is a Science - a very practical science - all the way.

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