Yoga: Taming the Body, Dissolving The Mind

Yoga: Taming the Body, Dissolving the Mind

Svetasvatara Upanishad say:

“When the yogi has full power over his body then he obtains a new body of spiritual fire that is beyond illness, old age and death.”

Yoga: Taming the Body, Dissolving the Mind

Svetasvatara Upanishad say:

“When the yogi has full power over his body then he obtains a new body of spiritual fire that is beyond illness, old age and death.”

Patanjali’s Yoga sutra defines:

“Yoga is controlling the ripples of the mind.”

Swami Vivekanada (1863-1902) was the foremost disciple of Ramakrishna and a world spokesperson for Vedanta. India’s first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, came to represent the religions of India at the World Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago in connection with the World’s Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893. He said:

“Yoga is a science which teaches how to awake our latent powers and hasten the process of human evolution.” “It is restraining the mind-stuff from taking different forms.”

(source: Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita – By Tom McArthur p. 12-14).

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) most original philosopher of modern India. He has observed:

“The yoga we practice, is not for ourselves alone, but for the Divine; its aim is to work out the will of the Divine in the world, to effect a spiritual transformation and to bring down a divine nature and a divine life into the mental, vital and physical nature and life of humanity. Its object is not personal mukti, although mukti is a necessary condition of the yoga, but the liberation and transformation of the human being.”

(source: The Yoga and Its Objects – by Sri Aurobindo p. 1).

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)  American Philosopher, Unitarian, social critic, transcendentalist and writer. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who aroused in him a true enthusiasm for India. He was dazzled by Indian spiritual texts, especially the Bhagavad-Gita. He kept a well-thumbed copy of the Gita in his cabin at Walden Pond, and claimed wistfully that “at rare intervals, even I am a yogi.”

(source: Fear of Yoga – By Robert LoveColumbia Journalism Review– December 2006).

Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) had one of the longest and most distinguished careers of any violinist of the twentieth century. He was among the first in the West to espouse yoga and the principles of organic food.

“The practice of yoga induces a primary sense of measure and proportion. Reduced to our own body, our first instrument, we learn to play it, drawing from it maximum resonance and harmony.”

(source: Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita – By Tom McArthur p. 12-14).

“Yoga” means “union.”  Its goal is union with the infinite, a goal which can be reached by any number of routes; but just as there is one ending, so there is one beginning, the asanas of Hatha Yoga, which are the precondition of every advance. It would be possible to make yoga a life’s occupation, giving up more and more of one’s time to its refinement. For me yoga is primarily a yardstick to inner peace. In my life yoga is an aid to well-being, permitting me to do more and to do better.”

(source: Unfinished Journey – By Yehudi Menuhin p.  250 – 268).

Yoga touched every dimension of Yehudi Menuhin’s life. He wrote about Yoga: 

“Yoga made its contribution to my quest to understand consciously the mechanics of violin playing.” “Yoga taught me lessons it would have taken me years to learn by other means. Yoga was my compass.” He was a genius at peace – a peace, he said, that came from yoga. 

(source: Hinduism Today July/August/September 2003 p. 40-41).

Sir John Woodroffe(1865-1936) the well known a Hindu scholar, Advocate-General of Bengal and sometime Legal Member of the Government of India. author of several books including The Serpent Power. He had a a prolific output as a scholar of Tantra. Had it not been for him, we might still share that general prejudice regarding Tantra. Woodroffe boldly disregarded the hostile attitude towards Tantra. He wrote:

“That which is the general characteristic of the Indian systems, and that which constitutes their real profundity, is the paramount importance attached to Consciousness and its states.. And whatever be the means employed, it is the transformation of the ‘lower’ into ‘higher’ states of consciousness which is the process and fruit of Yoga.”

Heinrich Zimmer (1890-1943), the great German Indologist, a man of penetrating intellect, the keenest esthetic sensibility. He describes:

“The aim of the doctrine of Hindu philosophy and of training in yoga is to transcend the limits of individualized consciousness.”

(source: Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita – By Tom McArthur p. 12-14).

Alain Danielou (1907-1994) founded the Institute for Comparative Music Studies in Berlin and Venice, author of several books on the religion, history, and art of India, defines:

“Yoga is to silence the mind, leaving all mental activity is Yoga.” 

Justin O’Brien a well-known writer, author of Walking With The Himalayan Master, theologian, philosopher and a long time explorer in ‘wellness’ and human consciousness. A former Catholic monk, he is also an ordained Pandit in the Himalayan tradition. He lived with Swami Rama – the master of yoga, spirituality, meditation and Ayurveda for over 20 years. He says:

“Yoga is an experience of life and it is a path which offers dignity and sacredness.

Max Muller (1823-1900) German philologist and Orientalist. He speaks of Yoga as of “the feeling of wonderment.” “I do not say that the evidence here adduced would pass muster in a court of law. All that strikes me is the simplicity on the part of those who relate this. Of course we know that such things as the miracle related here are impossible, but it seems almost as great a miracle that such things should ever have been believed and should still continue to be believed. Apart from that, however, we must also remember that the influence of the mind of the body and of the body on the mind is as yet but half explored; and in India and among the yogins we certainly meet, particularly in more modern times, with many indications that hypnotic states are produced by aritificial means and interpreted as due to an inferference of supernatural powers in the event of ordinary life.”

(source: The Story of Oriental Philosophy – By L Adams Beck p. 100 – 101).

Howard Kent author of several books on yoga, including Yoga: An Introductory Guide to Optimum Health for Mind, Body and Spirit says:

“It is the most complete synthesis of the realities of life and living.”

Mircea Ellade (1907-1986) a native of Romania, lectured in the Ecole des Hautes-Etudes of the Sorbonne. He observes:

“Yoga constitutes a characteristic dimension of the Indian mind, to such a point that whatever Indian religion and culture have made their way, we also find a more or less pure form of Yoga. In India, Yoga was adopted and valorized by all religious movements, whether Hinduist or ‘heretical.’ The various Christian or syncretistic Yogas of modern India constitutes another proof  that Indian religious experience finds the yogic methods of “meditation” and “concentration” a necessity. 

“Yoga had to meet all the deepest needs of the Indian soul. In the universal history of mysticism, Yoga occupies a place of its own, and one that is difficult to define. It represents a living fossil, a modality of archaic spirituality that has survived nowhere else. Yoga takes over and continues the immemorial symbolism of initiation; in other words, it finds its place in a universal tradition of the religious history of mankind.” “From the Upanishads onward, India has been seriously preoccupied with but one great problem – the structure of the human condition. With a rigor unknown elsewhere, India has applied itself to analyzing the various conditionings of the human being.”

“The conquest of this absolute freedom, or perfect spontaneity, is the goal of all Indian philosophies and mystical techniques; but it is above all through Yoga, through one of the many forms of Yoga, that India has held that it can be assured.”

“Yoga is present everywhere – no less in the oral tradition of India than in the Sanskrit and vernacular literature….To such a degree is this true that Yoga has ended by becoming a characteristic dimension of Indian spirituality.”


(source:  Yoga: Immortality and Freedom – By Mircea Ellade p. xvi – xx and 101 and 359-364).

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was one of the foremost interpreters of myth in our time and a prolific writer.

‘ Yoga, in the broadest sense of the word, is any technique serving to link consciousness to the ultimate truth. One type of yoga I have already mentioned: that of stopping the spontaneous activity of the mind stuff. This type of mental discipline is called Råja Yoga, the Kingly, or Great Yoga. But there is another called Bhakti Yoga, Devotional Yoga; and this is the yoga generally recommended for those who have duties in the world , tasks to perform, and who cannot, therefore, turn away to the practice of that other, very much sterner mode of psychological training. This much simpler, much more popular, yoga of worship consists in being selflessly devoted to the divine principle made manifest in some beloved form.  Bhakti Yoga will then consist in having one’s mind continually turned toward, or linked to, that chosen deity through all of one’s daily tasks.”

(source: Joseph Campbell Foundation For more on Joseph Campbell refer to Quotes1-20).

“Verily, this entire (world) is the Absolute (brahm). Tranquil, one should worship It (through), for one comes forth from It.”


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: