Excerpts from the original article “Why Remove Yoga From Its Roots is not a good idea” originally published in Swarajya Magazine.
What is the role of Yoga in Sanatana Dharma?
Hinduism stands on a foundation of six philosophical systems termed as “Darshanas”. The system of Yoga as propounded by Patanjali, along with Vedanta, Samkhya, Poorva Meemamsa, Nyaya and Vaisheshika constitutes these “Darshanas”.
Each of these Darshanas seek to understand the workings of the universe, its relationship to Man and God, and the means by which a Man can transcend the limitations imposed by it. It is for this reason that, at the very beginning of Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines Yoga as a state wherein Atman or Innermost Self abides in its real nature. Hence, it is beyond doubt that the system of Yoga is an inseparable part of Hinduism.
What is Aum and what is its role in Yoga?
The Upanishads (Mandukya Upanishad verse 8-12) identify Aum with Atman. The three syllables-A, U, M individually represent the three states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. The syllable-less Aum represents Atman who is beyond them. Similarly, Yoga-Sutras (1.27) describe Aum as a symbol of Ishwara. It further explains how the practice of Japa (repetitive contemplation) of Aum and its meaning will result in destruction of obstacles likes doubt, sloth, disease etc, and an attainment of realization of Innermost Self/Atman. It is for this reason that Patanjali takes up meditation on Aum while discussing Ishwara Pranidhana (Contemplation and Devotion to God) which is one of the component of “Niyama (internal discipline)” limb of Yoga. Hence, it is clear that contemplation and meditation on Aum is very significant in Yoga.
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