Many today take up and see yoga as a blissful system; one of easy enlightenment and exercise that brings us closer to our goal of eventual Nirvāna.
However, the harsh reality is that true, traditional yoga is a difficult and austere path of personal sacrifice, pain and suffering. It is one of intense tapas (austerities), of swadhyaya (self-study and study of the classics or shastras and tradition) beyond the “Yoga Alliance Bibles” of the Bhagwad Gita as Yoga Sutras, to studying hundreds of texts and their commentaries and of various sciences and mastering them and their systems. It is about working deeply with the higher shaktis (powers) and unfolding our past samskaras (karmic traits) and dealing with them face-to-face, not remotely or in a distanced manner. It place pressure on the psyche and also the somatic structure.
What most envision as “yoga”, “sadhana” (spiritual discipline) and “tapas” (austerities) today, can almost always be equated to Christian atonement. It is simply a “shamanika” or palliative yoga, over the harsh and difficult “shauchika” (cleansing) or “shodhana” (purifying) yoga – just as all in the name of “Panchakarma” (five actions of detoxification in Ayurveda) today represents the superficial, palliative Spa modalities for Beverley Hills housewives, over the abrasive and specific true Panchakarma, as a result of our mondernist culture of aesthetics and enterprise.
We contradict ourselves by misusing yoga and creating “Detachment Workshops” aimed at living non-material lifestyles, but are affordable only to the rich and conducted at Five-Star retreats and surroundings.
We call others “aggressive” and malign them, and point out they’re violating ahimsa (non-violence) when defending a native tradition we’re not part of, or cannot understand it – as we ourselves are unable them first, not realising our own educational and informational short-comings. We trespass on their properties on Social Media, to put them down and make ourselves feel better, or that were truly exercising “ahimsa“, while violating it in actions, mentality and speech, by simply acting out of an inferiority complex that our 200 hours of Yoga training has failed us, and we cannot be humbled by others’ words, or seek to learn anything new from them. We cannot swallow the ego that yoga seeks to dissolve and evaporate, that prevents us from admitting “perhaps I don’t know as much a I thought”. When faced with this fear, we react in the Christianied manner, taking the “holier than thou” approach and see to constantly project on others.
The true spirit of yoga is actually within the realm of the kshatriya or warrior, not the Brahmin. It is the deeper aspect of our rajasika (egotistical, kinetic) selves that seeks to strive forwards and beyond and not be merely satisfied with the status quo. Many talk about sattvas (purity) on a yogic level, denoting purity and clarity – as if they wish to become or emulate Brahmins or yore and dismiss tamas or darkness and inertia. This is what I call “The Ego of Sattvas“. Yet, physical tamas and rajas is sometimes required for different people. It comes into satmya (suitability) in the science of Ayurveda. For them, that can be “sattvika” – otherwise lineal sattvas can become too much of a self-righteous complex that breeds social stagnation and tamas in itself. Like some Abrahamic faiths and their aggressive concepts of purity and religious rigidity and fundamentalism that becomes physically, purely rajasika and ahankarika (egotistical). This comes into one’s biology and also swadharma or the path that unfolds as per one’s own inner-born actions or nature as per his past samskaras. Acting in a physical rajasika manner here is dharmically sattvika and natural for kshatriyas (warriors), for example. Hyperactive people need tamas to slow and ground them with heaviness or gravity (gurutva), as vayu itself is rajasika, being kinetic in nature.
Our modern yoga, however, doesn’t consider these finer aspects and tenets of the deeper traditional system of yoga. It sees and envisions yoga as opening up a horizon of easy kriyas or practices, by which we can attain the “Kingdom of God”, which is transferred and equated to Sanskritic terms as moksha (liberation), nirvana (enlightenment), atmajnana (self-knowledge) etc. by its modern adherents – when such concepts are not only absent in western Christian or Abrahamic traditions, but also have no connection whatsoever to the Abrahamic goal. In many respects, the modern yoga, even in the name of “Vaidika” (Vedic) to seek to validate itself (in vain) and be seen as pure and original – is actually Christian Yoga. Vedanta itself is often reduced to superficialities, rather than looking and examining the nuances of tradition. Time and time again, I see people taking verses from the Rig Veda and Upanishads and having taken them completely out of any plausible translation as a result of quoting only part of the stanza to which they belong, which contradicts the entire meaning of the verse itself – let alone the abysmal Sanskritic translations, which have no real connection to the topical matter yoga teachers wish to push forward (often again, a Christianised viewpoint based on samaritanism).
To stand on the traditional foundations of yoga is a challenge. Yogis were not peaceful, loving people who would come up and give you a hug or a kiss. They were not Jesus! They were very fiery type people, with fiery tempers to match, as is seen when many in the Puranas and elsewhere try and forcibly wake up and disturb a yogi’s meditation – often ending in them being cursed for doing so! Others such as Parashurama and Krishna were great warriors that took up arms to defend the foundations of dharma and even go so far as to evict people of criminal bent from their homelands or purge it, as a careful surgeon cuts out a tumour and cauterises it, to make sure it doesn’t cause future issues and spread. This is why tradition had it’s often excessive rules and regulations to be adhered to. Those as Vasishtha and Durvasa were known to assert their anger when threatened, as well as even the peaceful bhakti saint, Narada, who wasn’t beyond dishing out curses himself, though on the peaceful path of devotion! Lord Shiva himself, the master of yoga and to Vaishnavas, the greatest devotee of Vishnu, is well-known for his fiery temper, as also that of his wife, Maheshwari in her forms of Uma, Parvati etc. that assumes wrathful forms as Durga, Kali, Bhairavi and others! Lord Vishnu himself, the deity in the mode of sattvas or purity, as manifested in the fiery Narasimha, the man-lion where he disemboweled the father of his devotee, Prahlada, who had taunted the saint – as well as the fiery warrior-Brahmin, Parashurama and also Rama, Krishna and others. Krishna’s own brother, Balarama is known for his own anger, and the two defeated many asurika or wicked people in their youth, as in the Bhagavata Purana. The Nathas or the yogis that established Hatha-Yoga were themselves militant, fiery and wrathful, and through Gorakshanatha, gave rise to the yogi-warriors that would become today’s Gurkhas of Nepal, a deadly people.
This shatters the world many have of the blissful yoga, even of the Brahmanical world. Many look up to the saint Bhrigu in devotional traditions of yoga, the father of Goddess Lakshmi, who even cursed Lord Vishnu himself to take avatar. Yet, the modern Christianised Yoga seldom goes beyond the Yoga Sutras and Bhagwad Gita again, or the Christian Bible, as it is scared to dip its toe into the true traditional yoga beyond – that isn’t for the faint-hearted and is often one roller-coaster of a ride, requiring a strong mind, strong physique and above all, a mentality that expects challenges, accepts them and deals with them and his own karmas and karmic consequences directly – not simply seeking to scapegoat them by projection, as is the western virus!
The true yogi or yogini isn’t merely an adept in chiropractic movements, but has the agility of their mind, which is exercised beyond the human norm. It is for this reason that Heisenberg himself saw that there was nothing strange in Quantum Physics to those familiar with the vedantic Upanishads of India, and who stated:
“Quantum theory will not look ridiculous to people who have read Vedanta.”
The true aspirant of yoga dwells within the cave of the heart (hrit-guha), which is hidden (guha / guhya) or secret from the world at large, and through which on the outer level, through his majestic maya or creative-power of illusory energy, manifests his multiple forms and personalities that he brings out to the physical realm, from the inner-world of Brahman alone, but is also able to sustain, protect and honour the ancient tradition of his forefathers, by which these inner-energies are gained!