Year : 2015 | Volume
: 8 | Issue : 2 | Page : 166--167
Vedic Yoga: The Path of the Rishi
Division of Yoga and Physical Sciences, S-VYASA Yoga University, Eknath Bhavan, 19 Gavipuram Circle, Bangalore - 560 019, Karnataka, India
T M Srinivasan
Division of Yoga and Physical Sciences, S-VYASA Yoga University, Eknath Bhavan, 19 Gavipuram Circle, Bangalore - 560 019, Karnataka
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Srinivasan T M. Vedic Yoga: The Path of the Rishi.Int J Yoga 2015;8:166-167
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Srinivasan T M. Vedic Yoga: The Path of the Rishi. Int J Yoga [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Aug 19 ];8:166-167
Available from: https://www.ijoy.org.in/text.asp?2015/8/2/166/158489
Author: Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (Vedacharya David Frawley)
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, New Delhi
This book by a distinguished Sanskrit scholar, Vedic pundit and Indologist is a welcome addition to Yogic literature establishing its connection to Vedas. The author in his preface says that Vedic Yoga that occurs in Rig Veda is "…not only the possible origin of classical Yoga but of all the dharmic traditions of India's great civilization" [p. 12].
Dr. Frawley starts this monumental book with his own personal journey into Vedic mysticism and Yogic transformation. He emphasizes that entering the Vedic world is not achieved through mind alone; complete dedication, transcending one's ego and holding a deep and intuitive silence are essential to capture the wisdom of Rishis who have handed down the Vedas to us.
The book is in five distinct parts. In the first part, the author takes us through his own personal journey, which makes the book a testament and a path to follow for one's own progression in spiritual sciences. The second part deals with links between Upanishads, and Yoga. A presentation of Vedic Yoga and the classical Yoga of Sage Patanjali makes this valuable for establishing the missing links between the two primary branches of Yogic knowledge. In Part III, traditional interpretations of Vedic knowledge, Vedic Mantra Yoga, Dhi (or Intelligence) Yoga and finally, Self-realization are presented. In Part IV, the connection between Vedic deities and Yoga is presented. This again is an important aspect that is missing in most commentaries of Sage Patanjali's Yoga aphorisms. In the last part, introduction to Rishi Yoga is presented. Thus, the entire book is a dedication to the Yogic wisdom found in Vedas and Upanishads and a compilation of great value for serious students of Yoga, which has now become popular the world over.
In linking Upanishads to Yoga, the author quotes Shvetashvatara Upanishad, Chapter 2: "Yoking first the mind, having extended the intelligence, discerning the light of fire, the transformative Sun Savita brought it forth from the earth." The root verb is "Yuj" or "yoking" from which the term Yoga arises. It "is here used in a verbal form relative to the mind or manas… The idea of Yoga here is a control of lower mind, much as in Yoga Sutras and an awakening of the higher intelligence" [p. 112]. Thus, a clear connection is established between the Yoga Sutras and the earlier Upanishadic teachings. This is an important relation that is necessary since many feel that Yoga has no formal connection to classical scriptures of India though its connection to Sankhya philosophy is understood.
The earliest system is known as Yoga Darshana, which covers all branches of one's endeavor, namely, Jñana, Bhakti, and Karma along with many others. Traditionally, the originator of the Yoga Dharsanas is said to be Hiranyagarbha; Sage Patanjali being a compiler of Yoga Sutras [p. 117]. This chapter gives numerous references to classical literature prior to Sage Patanjali to draw a logical conclusion to the thesis presented here.
Vedas, as many other esoteric teachings around the world, are multi-layered in their exposition and exchange with the divine. Speech, breath (prana) and aspects of mind (manas and buddhi) are the three aspects of the cosmic being represented in the three deities, Agni, Vayu, and Surya. These Vedic deities are reducible to light of consciousness, the ultimate intelligence principle. The ground of experience is known as Prakriti, meaning power of action; it is a process indicated by changing nature of all phenomena. The three gunas, satva, rajas and tamas arise from Prakriti, and an important aspect of Vedic Yoga is to transform the lesser gunas to satvik one.
Vedic Mantra Yoga is an aspect that is not properly understood, and its effects are researched through some innovative methods presently. These mantras are of divine origin and hence are "self-manifesting and self-effulgent" [p. 152]. The author goes on to say that Vedic Mantra Yoga is not simply a poetic expression; it is not even religious mysticism as some proclaim. In the stillness of the heart alone the profound secrets of Vedic mantras could be comprehended. Thus, importance of Yogic principles of pratyahara and dharana should be practiced, later on moving into dhyana. This part of the book contains important methods of practicing Vedic Mantras, both bija mantras, and extended phrases.
In the rest of Part III, the author describes Vedic Yogas of Dhi (intelligence), of Bhakti and of Self-realization. The direct path as espoused by Sri Ramana Maharshi is presented which is Self-inquiry ultimately leading one to Self-realization. This last is the ultimate state of oneness with Brahman and seeking this within the cave of one's own heart (the spiritual center) one attains peace, knowledge and final liberation.
In the next set of chapters, the author presents Vedic Yoga and Vedic Deities. An interesting and important connection between water and prana is presented. The flow of water (also blood) carries prana. Prana is the propelling force for liquids to flow in the body as well as the life giver for the elements in the body. Further, it is said that "all mantras are the songs of the inner water resounding in the space of pure consciousness. We are all the children of the waters and need to return to their universal flow" [p. 212].
The last part of the book delineates the way of the Rishi. While Vedas are from a different age, and mental attitude, a return to Vedic wisdom and insight is not impossible. This is evident if we look into the lives of modern rishis such as Sri Aurobindo, Sri M. P. Pundit, Sri Kapila Shastri, Sri Ganapati Muni, Sri Veda Bharati and numerous others. The author of this book himself is a glorious example of the Rishi culture.
In conclusion, it may be said that for those who think and act that Vedas are irrelevant in this age of self-aggrandized utilitarian knowledge, Vedas are like grammar to a language; they are the scaffold on which the entire understanding and experience of the Ultimate is strung. Without such a base, all spiritual knowledge becomes mere transactional, not transcendental. As the author states succinctly, "the highest truth transcends reason and dualities, and appears as paradox and mystery" [p. 187].
The last chapter of the book contains an introduction to the esoteric teachings of the rishis by Swami Veda Bharati. This chapter brings out the need for esoteric interpretation of the Vedic verses, not simply looking at the exoteric ideas, which could at once be confusing and mundane. Many examples are given to drive this important point home; it is time we look at these mystical verses and cognize them in their most mystical sense.
The book is a veritable compendium of Vedic base of Yoga and its numerous branches. The book contains more than 440 references to Vedic verses along with an explanation of Sanskrit terms and a brief Bibliography. It is hoped that students of Indian philosophy and of Yoga read this book carefully and imbibe the profound wisdom reflected in its pages.