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Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Question:I interestedly read Mr. Raghuram’s essay on “Is Yoga a Religion?”. I wish he was clearer on a few points:

1. When he says, “We do not have the word religion in our culture,” we should be counting that we also do not have the words “yoga” or “dharma” in our culture. Even in our country, we do not have a single definition of religion. Some say, “religion is morality,” and one another makes another comment on it. Some of these comments may be conflicting with each other or some may be matching with yogic comments.
A. The concept and definition of religion is clearly understood by its users as a faith based on the sayings of a person, called a prophet, and in a God that is mentioned there-in. The definitions found within the English dictionaries are aligned with these same principles. However, Sanatana Dharma did not develop in that sense. In Sanatana Dharma there are tenets for morality but it expands beyond these tenets through the Upanisadic literature. You are correct in mentioning that we do not have the words “Yoga” and “Dharma” within the English language. Some cultures do not work with the concept of dharma or yoga, therefore, there is not an equivalent word in the language. Fortunately, the English language is adaptive. Thus, the words “yoga” and “dharma” are now being adapted into the English language to preserve its original meaning.

2. Therefore, generalizing or to talk in the name of others may be wrong. As we have different religion commentators in our geography, in India also there are different yoga commentators. (Shri Mataji supports her theory of kundalini awakening not conflicting with religions by borrowing verses from holy books in some Sahaja websites etc)
A. When you review the “Is Yoga a Religion?” article, you will note that there is no generalization of anything in my clarification of yoga. Rather, it is a clarification based on the actual translation of ancient yogic texts. Kundalini yoga is given in our texts as a method of experience which can be verified by all practitioners of yoga. There is no conflict in that practice.

3. Abstention from religion, yoga, or other paths may be because these persons have heard, seen or experienced something. On behalf of myself, the best thing a teacher can do is to say clearly that “they do it that way, I do it this way.” Why should we carry the faults of some other marginal yogis on our shoulders? But of course, that decision is up to oneself.
A. I am in total agreement with you, in that, there are several paths and the student should choose his/her own path to meet his/her needs. I am simply clarifying that the concept of yoga comes from ancient texts and that the meaning of it has been accepted by teachers of yoga for many thousands of years. Let us try to understand that there is no need to define it differently.

4. Is Holiness absolutely out of yoga?A. Holiness comes from “whole” which is the purpose of yoga. “Yujyate” means “joining.” With the practice of yoga, one will be able to be much more holy, than otherwise. Therefore, holiness is not excluded from yoga.5. Isn’t Bhagavat Gita a holy book?
A. The Bhagavad Gita is a spiritual book, but it is also a very logical and rational text for guiding us beyond the material world.6. Isn’t Krishna a personal Godhead? Frankly speaking, to consult this source and to say “Yoga is not a religion” is a conflict in itself. Or are we only consulting the “not holy parts of” the book?A. As I explained in my article, by labeling Yoga or the Gita as a religion, we are limiting the scope and expansive approach of yoga or Sanatana Dharma. Therefore, we focused on the idea that yoga is Dharma which is a different concept than religion. Yoga is not “religion” as defined by the English language but it does not exclude “holiness” and spirituality. I hope this New Year brings with it an understanding of the concept of Dharma, rather than limiting one’s ability to rise to universal consciousness by the recent concept of “religion.”

1 comment:

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