Please, tell me one mystic story about Indian yogis! That could be your own experience or something you have read or heard about. (For example, how they eat only prana, walking on the ashes or water, can be in 2 bodies at the same time, healing people, who have uncurable diseases and so on and on…)
What kind of wonders or unexplainable things Indian yogis have performed?
How would you explain those wonders?
What is the phenomena of Yoga?
Why do people think about yogis as people who have supernatural powers? To achieve these supernatural powers is actually not the goal of their practises, isn`t it?
What is Yoga today? Is there any ancient mystic teachings left in it and why today`s Yoga practitioners cannot achieve these supernatural powers?
How can Yoga help people in today`s world?
Also, please describe VipulYoga style and give some information about your Yoga classes.
VIPULKUMAR KANSAR- YOGA AND MYSTICISM.
First, i would start with the explanation of the termin Yoga, because people seem to mysticifize it quite a lot and having different opinions about the understanding of it.
Yoga itself means a union with the Divine. The result of the union with the Divine- Liberation(MOKSHA in sanskrit)- is like a peak of the mountain, which is just the one and the only, but you can climb to the top from many different sides of the mountain and those sides you can call many different paths of Yoga. Yoga is like a science with many different fields and offers us variations of possibilities to reach the top- SAMADHI.
The oldest known scriptures about Yoga are the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It means that there is only one base of Yoga. The point why today`s people know so many different “styles” of Yoga, is coming from the fact, that every Yoga school or teacher, through the times, have developed certain methods/practices that they think are most relevant or effective , according to their own knowledges and experiences. So it has been named according to their names, as Iyengar Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Bihar School of Yoga etc…so many of them. Also, I have named my Yoga classes according to my name- Vipul Yoga. There is so much material to learn, that one person is not able to develope or practice (and there is no need for that as well) during one lifetime and so one must make choices about what is most relevant, that one can concentrate for. There are different methods suitable for different human types ,according to their Prakriti (the bodily constitution), understandings and spiritual developement. For example, certain people enjoy the most Bhakti Yoga, which is mentioned most in the Hindu holy scripture- Bhagavad Gita- and means serving the God, absolute surrender to God. Chanting the mantras (JAPA), dedicating their all activities and the fruits of the activities to God. Through this kind of Yogic practise, people conquer their Ego, Desire and other impediments(KLESA`s) towards their way to the Enlightenment.
Then, there is another way of Yoga- the Karma Yoga, which was , for example, performed also by the famous Mother Theresa. Karma Yoga is a selfless serving of other living beings and through this kind of activity previous lives`karmas are being burnt and one can achieve the liberation.
Jnana Yoga is most suitable for those, who are hungry for knowledges. It is a Yoga of Knowledges and Wisdom. Through the Vedic scriptures, one can achieve knowledge of the Real Truth and so, with the full awareness, is able to become free from suffering.
Many great masters recommend to meditate for reaching the Supreme Awareness. That is called Dhyana Yoga. Through the Meditation, one can achieve the deepest experience of the Real Self, that no book or word can ever explain. To sit in one place, without feeling bodily uncomforts and tiredness, one has to prepare and train the body first. Here we need the Yogic postures- Asanas.
Practising Asanas is called the Raja Yoga. Through the Raja Yoga, one can train and develope the body durable for sitting in Meditation for long periods. The goal of Meditation is to reach the Samadhi- the ultimate state of Meditation, which is also the whole purpose of Yoga.
Patanjali Yoga is the main source and inspiration of my Yogic practises and teachings. It was Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga sutras about the allinclusive ASHTANGA YOGA. Ashtanga in sanskrit means : ASHTA= eight and ANGA =limb. Those eight limbs or eight steps are:
Yama is the social behavior, how you treat others and the world around you. These are moral principles or restraints, that are supreme to one`s religion, geographical location, age or time. There are five yamas:
*Nonviolence (AHIMSA). Vegetarian diet is the Yogic diet, as all the living beings are concidered to have same soul- ATMA. One has to be nonviolent in thoughts, words and deeds to all the living beings. Creating suffering to the other living being, means automatically creating suffering to Yourself.
*Truth and honesty (SATYA). Tell no lies. Also the truth should not hurt other being.
*Nonlust (BRAHMACHARYA). Celibacy (for aspiring yogis) and moderacy in case of married people. Pointless waste of semen is a waste of the life force- OJAS.
*Nonpossessiveness or non-coveting(APARIGRAHA). Free yourself from greed, hoarding, and collecting. Do you really need more shoes, another car, or to hog the conversation every time you see your friends? Make your life as simple as possible. Remember, every of your sensible pleasure is based on someone`s suffering.
Niyama is the inner ethical discipline and responsibility, how we treat ourselves. There are five niyamas:
*External and Internal Purity (SAUCA). Purity is achieved through the practice of the five yamas, which help to clear away the negative physical and mental states of being. Keep yourself, your clothing, and your surroundings clean. Eat fresh and healthy food.
*Contentment (SANTOSHA). Cultivate contentment and tranquility by finding happiness with what you have and who you are. Remember, external things bring only temporary happiness and that is never equal to the inner bliss, that one can achieve with the spiritual practises.
*Austerity (TAPAS). Show discipline in body, speech, and mind. The purpose of developing self-discipline is not to become ascetic, but to control and direct the mind and body for higher spiritual aims or purposes.
*Study of the sacred text (SVADHYAYA). Study the sacred texts, which inspire and teach you. Education changes a person’s outlook on life. It also keeps your mind in SATTVIC (pure, luminous) state.
*Living with an awareness of the Divine (ISHVARA-PRANIDHANA). Be devoted to your ISHTA-DEVATA (God chosen by your own preference, for example- Krishna, Shiva, Buddha, Jesus etc.)
“The posture of Yoga is steady and easy,” Patanjali says. Patanjali compares this to resting like the cosmic serpent on the waters of infinity. Although Westerners often consider the practice of asana or postures as an exercise regimen or a way to stay fit, Patanjali and other ancient yogis used asana to prepare the body for meditation. To sit for a lengthy time in contemplation required a supple and cooperative body. If you are free of physical distractions — such as your foot going to sleep — and can control the body, you can also control the mind. Patanjali said, “Posture is mastered by freeing the body and mind from tension and restlessness and meditating on the infinite.”
Prana is the life force or energy that exists everywhere and flows through each of us through the breath. Pranayama is the control of breath. The basic movements of Pranayama are inhalation, retention of breath, and exhalation. “The yogi’s life is not measured by the number of days but by the number of his breaths,” says Iyengar. “Therefore, he follows the proper rhythmic patterns of slow, deep breathing.” The practice of Pranayama purifies and removes distractions from the mind making it easier to concentrate and meditate.
Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses. Pratyahara occurs during meditation, breathing exercises, or the practice of Yoga postures — any time when you are directing your attention inward. Concentration, in the yoga room or the boardroom, is a battle with distracting senses. When you master Pratyahara, you are able to focus, because you will no longer feel the itch on your big toe or hear the mosquito buzzing by your ear.
Concentration or Dharana involves teaching the mind to focus on one point or image. “Concentration is binding thought in one place,” says Patanjali. The goal is to still the mind — gently pushing away superfluous thoughts — by fixing your mind on some object such as a candle flame, a flower, God image or a mantra. In Dharana, concentration is effortless. You know the mind is concentrating when there is no sense of time passing.
Uninterrupted meditation without an object is called Dhyana. Concentration (dharana) leads to the state of meditation. The goal of meditation is not unconsciousness or nothingness. It is heightened awareness and oneness with the universe. How do you tell the difference between concentration and meditation? If there is awareness of distraction, you are only concentrating and not meditating. The calm achieved in meditation spills over into all aspects of your life — during a hectic day at work, shopping for groceries, coordinating the Halloween party at your child’s school.
The ultimate goal of the eightfold path to yoga is Samadhi or absolute bliss. This is pure contemplation, superconsciousness, in which you and the universe are one. Those who have achieved Samadhi are enlightened. All the previous 7 limbs are preparation for this limb. Paramahansa Yoganananda called it the state of God-Union.
The eight limbs work together: The first five steps — Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, and Pratyahara — are the preliminaries of Yoga and build the foundation for spiritual life. They are concerned with the body and the brain. The last three, which would not be possible without the previous steps, are concerned with reconditioning the mind. They help the yogi to attain enlightenment or the full realization of oneness with DIVINE. Enlightenment lasts forever, while a flat tummy can disappear with a week of binging.
In ideal, it would be important to practise all those 8 steps, but today`s lifestyle is not giving us much chances for all that (especially in the Western world). So, one can choose at least suitable step or steps, which he or she can practise continuously in daily life. Patanjali describes here Kriya Yoga, as the path, that is quite enough to take one to Samadhi: “ Tapah-Svadhyayesvara-Prani
The most known or spread type of Yoga in the Western world is the Raja Yoga- the third limb of the 8-limb Yoga (ASANAs). The Asanas or the Yogic postures are mostly being practised in the name of the good health, well-being and physical fitness, even though it is not the main purpose of Yoga. Patanjali says that without the Yamas-Niyamas, Yogic postures are simply gymnastics. Here I would ask the question to myself:
WHAT IS YOGA FOR ME?
The truth, how someone understands Yoga, depends on their spiritual evolution. If one just cares about his or her outlook, wants to have a beautiful muscled body or perform some interesting cool flexible tricks, it is clear, that this person is still in deep sleep. Actually, there is nothing wrong to have a beautiful, healthy body, everything is most correct, but why does it mean being in „deep sleep“? Because, in the bigger plan it is as pointless activity, as to invest one`s short lifetime in the sand-castles, built on the beach, from where the sea quickly cleans it away. Attatchment to our own bodies guarantees us the continuous suffering. Every living being in this world suffers, more or less, physically or mentally, but yes, everybody suffers. Whenever there is a pleasure, suffering will always follow. Pleasure and suffering are the two sides of a one coin and they always come together. One day you will come to the question- should it be like that? Could i change it somehow? How to get rid of suffering? The main cause of the suffering is Ignorance – Non-awareness and that is the most breeding ground for other sources of suffering- Ego, Desire, Aversion and Clinging to life. It is ignorance, that takes the Self, that is joyful, pure and eternal, to be the nonself, which is painful, unclean and temporary. Desire creates aversion, attachment, anger and jealousy. Clinging to life is caused by the fear in front of the death, old age and illnesses, because unconsciously all the living beings remember their previous death-moments and those are never pleasant. To stay alive, people are able to cross all kind of limits, losing their sense of morality and creating negative karma. All these cycles of life and death (SAMSARA) last as long, as we create karma. KARMA is an expression, coming from Sanskrit language and it means the activity or action, which creates the fruits or re-action. These actions are Thoughts, Words and Deeds and they all have a re-action. That is exactly why we need to learn how to control our thoughts, tongue and deeds, to stop creating continuous karmic fruits. For a brief example, if one person comes and tells something insulting or ego-attacking towards the other person and the latter don`t have any re-action and has no emotions about it, because he/she is aware of one`s ego and the essence of the ego, then only the negative-saying person creates his/her karma, but the other did not create any karma in this situation. But in the case, if the other person becomes angry or starts fighting back, then he/she has also created his/her karma out of the ignorance and now one is responsible his/her karma. This kind of challenges we all face in our daily lives.
Only knowledge is also not helping us, it can even become another trap. Knowledge can start feeding the ego and due to that one may start enjoying the social position, aknowledgement, compliments, attention or even misusing one`s power, achieved by the knowledge. So, that does not help us, to get rid of suffering. The law of karma is like the law of gravity, either you believe in it or not, it is still there. The whole India is full of such „Holy Men“. One is more developed than the other. They`ve got their own TV-channels, ashrams, thousands of followers. In the ashrams, there is big money moving around, lots of politics and corruption. It is really difficult to remain true to the real spiritual values and purposes. Spirituality has become a great show-business. Everyone shares their own truth. That is quite confusing for the seekers. Mysticism is being advertised and sold widely, to offer the food for the ever-hungry human-mind. That is not actually helping… Simple-minded seekers still believe and hope that somebody will come to rescue them, by blessing them with all kind of knowledges, boons or powers.
For example, the enlightened holy man blesses his/her follower with the Shaktipat (the touch of the Enlightened One, that gives the Supreme Awareness and liberation due to it), which is actually possible, but it takes one`s karmic stock with this kind of possibility and just counting on this chance, one can remain in these suffering vicious cycles of the life and death for long periods. A person oneself can help only for sure, to make changes in himself/herself. The changes or „the transformation from the caterpillar into the butterfly“ starts from within and efforts must be made. Today`s life has made people quite comfortable and lazy. Nobody wants to make efforts. People do complain about the suffering , but same time they hide themselves more deeper into the traps, from the Supreme Truth. Necessity for the company to avoid the boredom (not staying with oneself), the virtual world, TV, mind-poisons like alcohol , drugs and so on… That all takes attention from the relevant into the irrelevant, which would be the most breeding ground to remain ignorant.
One of the greatest traps is the entertainment. The seekers want to witness the wonders, supernatural powers. Well, i do believe, that it is possible to achieve the supernatural powers (SIDDHIs) with the Yogic practises, which are wonder or mysticism for the average mind, but the developed Yogi does not concider it necessery to prove something to others or perform these „tricks“ in the public. The purpose of Yoga is to look within the Self, not outside the Self. If someone performs these powers in public, you can tell that the person has not overcome one`s mundane needs. It has been done in the name of feeding one`s ego or receiving money from the people. The moto of Yoga is „Citta Vritti Nirodha“ (Mind Fluctuations`Cessation or simply- Stilling the Mind).
My answer to the question, if I have ever met the yogis with the mystic powers or witnessed their tricks, would be, that this is absolutely irrelevant for me. You can meet lots of magicians in India. They are not free from the illusions. Their tricks are not exciting for me. Also, i have seen yogis, who practise very difficult, extreme austerities or ascesis. I do believe, that they can achieve a lot with that, but i also believe, that achieving a lot is possible without this kind of extreme ways. The real mystics (highly accomplished yogis) never advertise or prove their powers and they can move among us like average people and you can never have any idea, who is capable of any kind of supernatural powers. Or they have gone to live in such areas, where average people`s foot never happens to step, exept, if one has deserved this kind of blessed meeting with them, due to one`s good karma. Same kind of blessing is to have a spiritual teacher (GURU), who guides you with love and light and opens the deepest secrets to you. This kind of relationship is so sacred and personal, that you don`t go around and tell this to people in public, who can never understand the value of your experience. It is only between you and your Guru and only you can experience it. My wife has told me about her experience like this and i do believe her, but it really doesn`t change anything for me. It is her personal experience and for me it would be, for example, to know what is the sugarcane juice, without ever tasting it. It would be just a dry knowing, without any personal experience or developing force. Ofcourse, these kind of topics are always fascinating for the ever-hungry mind. For experiencing the real mysticism, one should search from within. One should work with himself/herself every day, every minute, to become AWARE, to break through these curtains of the illusion. The illusion (MAYA in Sanskrit) is a very powerful force and human being in front of this force is like a fly in front of the hurricane. Even the accomplished yogis can fail and born again and again. In this case, they will get a good karma for a new life, good possibilities to get back on the track. Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita, that the unsuccessful yogi, that is the one, who does not quite complete his or her journey in life, is reborn into a pious or prosperous family, or family of yogis. Then „such a person gains a revival of his insight from the previous birth, and strives again for perfection from that point (where he or she had left off in the past life)“(VI. 41-43).
Patanjali conciders all mystic powers, which arise of their own accord, even without the yogi desireing them, to be impediments to the goal of Yoga, since they pose the risk of distracting the yogi back into sensual (Prakrtic) experiences. These powers are accomplishments for the mind that is outgoing, but obstacles to samadhi. „The wise speak of the siddhis as the obstacles; they are the cause of delay to one who is practising the highest Yoga“ (Bhagavata Purana, XI.15.33). „A Yogi, sidetracked by the siddhis, has clearly not mastered the VAIRAGYA, detachment, required as a preliminary to Yoga“ (Vyasa and Vacaspati Mishra comment about the siddhis in the „Yoga Sutras of Patanjali“).
Patanjali dedicates whole one chapter to the mystical powers in his Yoga Sutras, where he is explaining those powers to the level of the atom, but here i will describe those 8 powers shortly :
1. Anima (Minuteness)- The ability to make one`s body atomic in size, so he/she can enter anything.
2.Laghima (Lightness)- The ability to make the body so light, so one is able to walk on the water or spider-web.
3. Lahima (Largeness)- The ability to make one`s body as large as one desires.
4. Prapti (Attainment)- The ability to attain anything one desires- one can touch the moon with one`s fingertips, says Vyasa.
5. Prakamya (Freedom of will)- The ability to be unobstructed in one`s desires- one can dive into the earth just as one plunges into water, says Vyasa.
6. Vasitva (Mastery)- The ability to control the 5 great elements(ether, air, fire, water and earth) and their qualities, and to control other beings.
7. Ishitrtva (Lordship)- The ability to control the outward appearance, disappearance, and rearrangement of the elements.
8. Yatra-kamavasayitva: The ability to manipulate the elements at will according to one`s fancy.
Patanjali has been questioned, why he has dedicated so much talk on the mystic powers- Siddhis, if those are not relevant at all or even dangerous for the aspiring yogi. Patanjali explains it, that he sees fit to inform the aspiring yogi of symptoms that will be encountered on the path, so the yogi can be alerted not to be distracted and sidetracked by them. Siddhis are the by-products of the path and they are still in the realm of suffering, since their scope is still prakrti. Also, the siddhis are not the cause of Kaivalya (Samadhi), only the discriminative knowledge, which means that the Ego (Ahamkara) and the Intellect (Buddhi) ARE NOT The Real Self/ The Soul (Purusha).
Now, turn your attention back to the Yamas and Niyamas, what are they including and think about it deeply. Think, how many people are actually able to follow these……in today`s world and the lifestyles, with the patterns of thinking…..Without the Yamas and Niyamas, there would be no enlightenment, no mystic powers and no deeper meaning of Yoga at all. Yamas and Niyamas are the substratum of Yoga, despite of one`s religion, geografic location and birth, age and time. This is the way out of the suffering. Remember, pleasure and pain always come together.
Whosoever are interested in the Yogic knowledges and experiences, either on the simpler or deeper level, are most welcome to my Yoga classes, which are taking place on Saturdays, at 11:30-13:30, in the Studio HOW (Liivalaia 11, on the 3.floor of the 3-floor green wooden house, across the street from the headquarter of the Swedbank). Also, it is possible to arrange the private classes. Registering via E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or cellphone number: (+372) 588 44 180. More information about VipulYoga and news or changes You can find from the VipulYoga website:
Satyam Shivam Sundaram (The Truth is Eternal and Beautiful)!