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WHAT IS YOGA? Part 5a

The Bhagavad Gita by Maharishi Vyasa

Complete Yoga Breath
with Sound!

What is Yoga
series

“Yoga begins with
Discipline
Introspection
Control of Prana
Meditation...”
Yoga Sutras
by Patanjali

Hatha Yoga
Path to Health

“Practice alone is the
means to success.
The ida and pingala nadis
before entering into
the base of the nostrils
cross each other
and are known as
gangliated cords.”
The Hatha Yoga
Pradipika

by Yogi Maharishi
Svatmarama

Bhakti Yoga
Path of Love

“Subduing their
senses,
viewing all
conditions of life
with the same eye,
and working
for the welfare
of all beings,
assuredly
they come to Me.”
The Bhagavad Gita
translated by
Shri Purohit Swami

Sri Krishna
in The Gita
:
“Let him
who would climb
In meditation
To heights
of the highest
Union with Brahman
Take for his path
The Yoga of Action.”
—Quote from The Gita
in Vedanta for
Modern Man

Edited by Christopher Isherwood

“In the beginning of
one's spiritual search,
it is wise to compare
various spiritual paths
and teachers. A
spiritually thirsty
person should not
go on indefinitely
drinking from a
new well; rather he
should go to the
best well and drink
daily of its
living waters.”
—Yogananda

Sri Swami Sivananda is one of the great teachers from India. His writings on the Bhagavad Gita are offered online without restrictions. Here are some of my favorite excerpts.

MITAHARA

Heavy food leads to Tamasic state and induces sleep only. There is a general misapprehension that a large quantity of food is necessary for health and strength. Much depends upon the power of assimilation and absorption. Generally, in the vast majority of cases, most of the food passes away undigested along with feces. Take half stomachful of wholesome food. Fill a quarter with pure water. Leave the rest free. This is Mitahara.

Mitahara plays a vital part in keeping up perfect health. Almost all diseases are due to irregularity of meals, overeating and unwholesome food. Eating all things at all times like a monkey is highly dangerous. Such a man can become a sick man easily; but he can never become a Yogi.

Hear the emphatic declaration of Lord Krishna (in the Bhagavad Gita): “Success in Yoga is not for him who eats too much or too little; nor for him who sleeps too much or too little.” (Gita VI-16). Again in the Sloka 18 of the same chapter, Lord Krishna says: “To him who is temperate in eating and in sleep and wakefulness, Yoga becomes a destroyer of misery.”

There are those who believe silence is the only way to evolve. Sivananda: “Lay bare to your Guru the secrets of your heart and the more you do so, the greater the sympathy and help you get from your Guru. This sympathy means accession of strength to you in the struggle against sin and temptation.”  Gita-IV-34: “Learn thou this by discipleship, by investigation and by service. The wise, the seers of the Essence of things will instruct thee in wisdom.”

If you read the Bhagavad Gita with concentration several times, you can get new ideas each time. Through concentration you will get insight. Subtle esoteric meanings will flash out in the field of mental consciousness. You will understand the inner depth of philosophical significance.

“Never doth any who worketh righteousness, O beloved, tread the path of woe.” (Bhagavad-Gita, vi. 40)

KARMA YOGA

“Karma Yoga is selfless service unto humanity. The important point is to serve humanity without any attachment or egoism. The central teaching of the Gita is non-attachment to work. Lord Krishna says: 'Work incessantly. Your duty is to work but not expect the fruits thereof.' ”

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YAMA

“Yama is the very foundation of Yoga, without which the superstructure of Yoga cannot be built. Yama is the practice of Ahimsa (abstinence from injury and killing), Satyam (truthfulness), Asteya (abstinence from theft or falsehood), Brahmacharya (continence) and Aparigraha (abstinence from avariciousness or greed). Patanjali mentions these 5 chief items for practice in Yama. In every religion you will find this to be the foremost. Great emphasis is given in every chapter of the Gita on the practice of Yama.”

“There are secretions from endocrine glands which are ductless: thyroid, thymus, parotid, pineal, suprarenal, etc. These secretions are directly absorbed into blood. They play a vital part in constituting the temperament of every individual. The temperament of a man can be greatly modified by environments, education and experience. It can hardly be changed in toto. That is the reason why the Gita says: “Sadrisham cheshtate svasya prakriter jnanavanapi: Even the man of knowledge behaves in conformity with his own nature.” (Chap. 111-33)

“A real Yogi or a practical Vedantin is one who can keep perfect calmness of mind while performing intense activities amidst the bustle of a city. This is the central teaching of the Gita. Lord Krishna: 'Remember me at all times and fight.' Arjuna became a practical Vedantin eventually.”

Source: Easy Steps to Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda, First Ed. 1939; 8th Ed. 1999, Web Ed. 2000. (http://www.SivanandaDlshq.org). This Web reprint is for free distribution. The Divine Life Trust Society ISBN 81-7052-098-3, Published By The Divine Life Society, PO Shivanandanagar-249 192, Distt. Tehri-Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh, Himalayas, India.

The Gita states that the Personal Self is made up of the following principles:

  • self-awareness, consciousness of self
  • intellectual understanding
  • unseen vital force (prana)
  • sense centers (chakras)
  • sense organs (physical 5 senses)
  • Love and Hatred
  • Pleasure and Pain
  • Sensibility
  • Firmness

There isn't enough that could be written about the Bhagavad Gita. This is why my suggestion is to Google The Gita, The Bhagavad Gita by different authors with various translations, and The Song Celestial by Sir Edwin Arnold. You will find what you need to read and contemplate for sure. This is the way it has been for me when it comes to books—they find you when you are ready!

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