Yoga: Union with the Divine

In Hindu thought, spirituality creates a union with God—yoga. This union is not a physical union but a subtle mental union. When we pray to God and repeatedly think about and meditate on him, there is an intention. The intention behind this meditation on God is to gradually transform our inner mind—antahkaran, a very special term in Hindu philosophy—toward godliness. The poet has verily sung, “O Krishna, may thee color me into thy color.

Yoga is basically a system that involves the training of body, mind, and spirit; it is a very integrated program. Often in modern athletic training, the body is exercised but the mind is not attended to. Conversely, in religious or spiritual courses, the physical part is ignored. The ancient concept of yoga recognizes that through a healthy body alone, a healthy mind might be cultivated. The mind must be fixated to the highest and noblest thoughts of virtuous conduct. Thus, man is groomed to attain excellence in all fields of life. Indeed, Hindu seers have always maintained that all disorders and diseases are caused because an individual walks out of the cosmic order into disharmony and discord.

 

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Today, Yoga has become a household word around the world; the United Nations’ Organization has recognized it by celebrating June 21 every year as World Yoga Day. Like many other ancient Hindu systems of Meditation, Ayurveda etc., Yoga has now earned its long overdue appreciation. Yoga focuses attention on physical, mental, and spiritual aspects in varying degrees. In some places, its spiritual aspect is considerably downplayed, while in other places it is given the highest importance. Even in India, at no two places is yoga conducted in the same manner. This, in fact, lies in accordance with the general liberal attitude of Hindu religion and culture; leaving an individual to practice many activities according to his/her own choice and aptitude. Yoga being an ancient traditional system, there are no formal copyrights on it, yet a natural reference to its Indian origin, avoiding any casual mal-presentation would be most sagacious. In fact, Yoga performed without any spiritual contemplation, by its very definition, would be incomplete and much less beneficial.