Yoga – What Does It Mean?

August 13, 2012

3 min read

Summary: Sadhguru says, once we attach the word 'yoga' to anything, it means that it is a complete path by itself. What yoga means is to move towards an experiential reality, where one knows the ultimate nature of existence, the way it is. Yoga refers to union - not as an idea or philosophy or as a concept, but as an experiential reality.

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

What is Yoga?

Sadhguru: Essentially in the tradition, once we attach the word “yoga” to anything, it indicates that it is a complete path by itself. We say hatha yoga, but we will not say asana yoga. Of course, if you come from the United States, they say anything!

The moment you attach the word “yoga,” it indicates it is a complete path by itself.

If it is a complete path by itself, how should it be approached? If it was just a simple practice or an exercise, you could approach it one way. If it was an art form or just entertainment, it could be approached another way. I am using all these words because they are in usage in today’s world. People say “recreational yoga,” “health yoga,” people refer to it as an art form – they think they are doing a service to yoga by saying it is an art form. No. The moment you attach the word “yoga,” it indicates it is a complete path by itself.

The word “yoga” essentially means, “that which brings you to reality”. Literally, it means “union.” Union means it brings you to the ultimate reality, where individual manifestations of life are surface bubbles in the process of creation. Right now, a coconut tree and a mango tree have popped up from the same earth. From the same earth, the human body and so many creatures have popped up. It is all the same earth.

What yoga means is to move towards an experiential reality where one knows the ultimate nature of the existence, the way it is made.

The word “yoga” essentially means, “that which brings you to reality.”

Yoga refers to union not as an idea, a philosophy or as a concept that you imbibe. As an intellectual idea, if you vouch by the commonness of the universe, it may make you popular in a tea party, it may give you a certain social status, but it does not serve any other purpose. You will see, when things come down to even money – it does not even have to boil down to life and death – even for money, “This is me, that is you.” The boundary is clear; there is no question of you and me being one.

It actually causes damage to the individual if you intellectually see everything is one. People do all kinds of silly things because they got this idea that everybody is one, before somebody teaches them a good lesson and then they see, “This is me, that is you. No way to be one.”

If it becomes an experiential reality, it will not bring forth any immature action. It will bring forth a tremendous experience of life. Individuality is an idea. Universality is not an idea, it is a reality. In other words, yoga means you bury all your ideas.


What Yoga Is Not – Some Common Misconceptions

November 9, 2012

11 min read

Summary: There are a few common misconceptions about Yoga. Sadhguru looks at them and clarifies: Myth 1: Yoga comes from Hinduism; Myth 2: Why be a human when you can be a pretzel? Yoga is all about impossible postures; Myth 3: Want six-pack abs? Yoga is a great exercise regime; Myth 4: It is only in the last century that yoga has gone global; Myth 5: Find your groove. Yoga & music go well; Myth 6: Need a yoga study guide? You can learn yoga from a book; Myth 7: Yoga is something you practice every morning and evening

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Top 7 Myths about Yoga – Busted

Myth 1: Yoga comes from Hinduism

Sadhguru: What religion you belong to has nothing to do with your ability to make use of the yogic systems, because yoga is a technology. Technology does not make any distinction as to what you believe in and what you do not believe in. What you may believe in or not is purely a psychological process – it has got nothing to do with making use of a technology.

Yoga is Hindu just the way gravity is Christian. Just because the law of gravity was propounded by Isaac Newton, who lived in a Christian culture, does it make gravity Christian? Yoga is a technology. Anybody who is willing to make use of it can make use of it. It is ridiculous to even think that there could be a religious tinge to yoga.

The spiritual process and the technology of yoga predates all religion. Before human beings started thinking of forming religious groups to fracture humanity in a way that you can’t fix them, the idea that a human being can evolve himself came from Shiva, the Adiyogi.

Why the yogic sciences have gotten labeled as Hindu is because this science and technology grew in this culture. And because this culture was dialectical in nature, naturally they delivered the science in a dialectical manner, involving the cultural strengths of the land, which is essentially the Hindu way of life. The word “Hindu” has come from the word “Sindhu,” which is a river. Because this culture grew from the banks of the river Sindhu or Indus, this culture got labeled as Hindu. Anybody who is born in the land of Indus is a Hindu. It is a geographical identity, which slowly evolved into a cultural identity, and when some very aggressive religions came into the land and a big “competition” was set up, they tried organizing themselves as a religion – which has not happened yet. You still cannot put them together because they don’t have one belief system.

We need to understand this – Hindu is not an “ism;” it is not a religion. Being a Hindu does not mean having a particular belief system. Whatever you did in this culture was Hindu. There is no particular god or ideology which you can call as the Hindu way of life. You can worship a man-god and be a Hindu; you can worship a woman-god and be a Hindu; you can worship a cow and be a Hindu; you can give up all worship and still be a Hindu. So you are a Hindu irrespective of what you believe or don’t believe.

At the same time, there was a common line running through all these. In this culture, the only goal in human life is liberation or mukti. Liberation from the very process of life, from everything that you know as limitations and to go beyond that. God is not held as the ultimate thing in this culture, God is seen as one of the stepping stones. This is the only culture on the planet which is a godless culture in the sense that, there is no concretized idea of God. You can worship a rock, a cow, your mother – you can worship whatever you feel like – because this is a culture where we have always known that God is our making. Everywhere else, people believe “God created us.” Here, we know we created god so we take total freedom to create whatever kind of god we can relate to. It is a science of how to take a human being to his ultimate potential.

We evolved a whole technology of God-making – not just creating forms, but energizing them in such a way that it will assist you to touch that dimension of life which is the basis of creation. It is not because somebody believes in it that it reverberates. This is the science of consecration where we know how to turn a stone into the Divine.

Myth 2: Why be a human when you can be a pretzel? Yoga is all about impossible postures.

Sadhguru: When we utter the word “yoga”, most people on the planet only think of asanas . Of all the different things that the science of yoga explores – just about every aspect of life – today’s world has chosen to represent yoga with only the physical aspect. In the yogic system, there is very little significance given to asanas. For a little over two hundred Yoga Sutras, only one sutra is dedicated to asanas. But somehow, in modern times, this one sutra has gained significance over everything else.

In many ways, it is a clear manifestation of where the world is going. The whole journey of the modern world is just this, from deeper dimensions – from the spirit – to body. That is exactly what we want to reverse. We want human beings to start their journey with the body but move towards their inner nature.

I am incapable of being depressed, otherwise I would be depressed looking at the way hata yoga is being practiced around the world and people thinking that is what it is. The practice as you see it – the mechanics of it, is simply of the body. You have to breathe life into it, otherwise it will not become alive. This is why traditionally, there has been so much stress on a live Guru – to make it alive. The yogic system is a subtle manipulation of your system to allow it to rise to a different level. Yoga means that which allows you to attain to your higher nature. Every asana, every mudra, every way of breathing – everything – is focused towards this.

Myth 3: Want six-pack abs? Yoga is a great exercise regime.

Sadhguru: If fitness is what you are seeking, if you want six-pack abs or whatever number, I would say go and play tennis or hike in the mountains. Yoga is not an exercise, it has other dimensions attached to it. A different dimension of fitness – yes – you get health out of it, but not six-pack abs. If you are doing yoga to burn calories or tone up your muscle, obviously you are doing improper yoga, there is no question about that. For abs, you can go to the gym. Yoga needs to be practiced in a very subtle, gentle way, not in a forceful muscle-building way, because this is not about exercise.

The physical body has a whole memory structure. If you are willing to read this physical body, everything – how this cosmos evolved from nothingness to this point – is written into this body. When you do asanas, you are opening up that memory and trying to restructure this life towards an ultimate possibility. If hata yoga is taught in a proper atmosphere, it is a fantastic process of shaping your system into a fantastic vessel, a fabulous device to receive the Divine.

Myth 4: It is only in the last century that yoga has gone global

Sadhguru: Today, though it is being practiced in all kinds of manifestations and distortions, at least the word “yoga” is getting a global presence. There has never been one organized body to propagate this, but still, it has survived and lived on because it has worked like nothing else for human wellbeing for the longest period of time.

Millions of people are practicing it, but where did this come from? Who originated yoga? The story is very long; its antiquity is lost in the hoary of time. In the yogic culture, Shiva is not known as a God, but as the Adiyogi or the first yogi – the originator of yoga. He was the one who first put this seed into the human mind.

The first part of Shiva’s teaching was to Parvathi, his wife. The second set of yoga teachings were expounded to the first seven disciples. This happened at the banks of Kanti Sarovar at Kedarnath. This is where the world’s first yoga program happened.

After many years, when the transmission of the yogic science was complete, it produced seven fully enlightened beings – the seven celebrated sages who are today known as the Sapta Rishis, and are worshipped and admired in Indian culture. Shiva put different aspects of yoga into each of these seven people, and these aspects became the seven basic forms of yoga. Even today, yoga has maintained these seven distinct forms.

The Sapta Rishis were sent in seven different directions to different parts of the world to carry this dimension with which a human being can evolve beyond his present limitations and compulsions.

One went to Central Asia, one to the Middle East and North Africa, one to South America, one stayed right there with Adiyogi, one to the lower regions of Himalayas, one to Eastern Asia and one travelled south into the Indian subcontinent. Time has ravaged many things, but when the cultures of those lands are carefully looked at, small strands of these people’s work can be seen, still alive. It has taken on various colors and forms, and has changed its complexion in a million different ways, but these strands can still be seen.

Myth 5: Find your groove. Yoga & music go well.

Sadhguru: There should never be a mirror or music when you practice asanas. Hata yoga demands a certain involvement of your body, mind, energy and the innermost core. If you want to get the involvement of that which is the source of creation within you, your body, your mind, your energy must be absolutely involved. You should approach it with a certain reverence and certain focus. Not just going, playing music and doing something. One of the biggest problems in yoga studios is, the teacher is doing asanas and speaking. This is a sure way to cause damage to yourself.

No talking in the asana is not just a norm, it is a rule. You never ever speak in postures. The breath, the mental focus and the stability of energy is most important when you are doing the asana. If you speak, you will destroy all that. At least eight to ten people have come to us with serious imbalances with which we have helped them. I think about four of them have given up their profession now because they knew what nonsense they were doing.

A few years ago when I was in America, I was invited to speak in a yoga studio by someone. So I went to her yoga studio and music was playing – chang, chang, chang – to keep everybody enthusiastic. She was in ardhamatsyendrasana and was talking to a group of people. When she saw me, she just jumped up from the table, came and hugged me.

I took her aside and told her, “See, you will bring serious imbalances into your system. How long have you been doing this?” She said some fifteen, sixteen years. I said, “If you’ve done this for sixteen years, you must be suffering from this, this and this.” She looked at me terrified and the next day she comes to me and says, “Sadhguru, what you said has been happening to me. I’m going through all sorts of treatment from the doctors.” I said, “You don’t need a doctor, you are causing it. You stop this, this will go away.” After about one-and-a-half years, she gave up teaching yoga.

A lot of people who have done improper yoga have lost their mental balance. This is not because yoga is dangerous. Stupidity has always been a dangerous thing on the planet. You do something stupid, it will cause damage to you. Stupidity is one thing which has always been a dangerous thing on this planet, right from ancient times.

Myth 6: Need a yoga study guide? You can learn yoga from a book.

Sadhguru: Today, if you enter any major bookstore, you will find a minimum of 15 to 20 different yoga books. How to learn yoga in 7 days, how to become a yogi in 21 days… Many people have caused immense damage to themselves by learning yoga through books. It seems to be very simple, but when you do it, you will see it is a very subtle aspect. This has to be done with perfect understanding and proper guidance. Without this, one can get into deep trouble. A book can inspire you, but it is not meant to teach a practice.

Myth 7: Yoga is something you practice every morning and evening

Sadhguru: Yoga is not something that you do morning-evening. It is a certain way of being. One must become yoga. If it’s morning-evening yoga, the rest of the time entanglement – this is not yoga, this is only yoga practice.

There is no aspect of life which is excluded from the yogic process. If your life becomes yoga, then you can do everything. You can run your family, you can go to the office, you can run your business, you can do whatever you want without any problem if your way of being becomes yoga. Every aspect of life, either you can use it to entangle yourself or to liberate yourself. If you are using it to entangle yourself, we call it as karma. If you are using it to liberate yourself, we call it yoga.


Yoga is Geometry

July 2, 2019

5 min read

Summary: Raghu Rai, celebrated and renowned Indian photographer and photojournalist made one of the biggest coffee-table photo books, “Sadhguru”. In this article, Sadhguru tells us the significance of aligning one's own geometry with the cosmic geometry. The nature of a yogi is that he becomes geometrically conscious. Raghu was able to capture this aspect in some of the photographs, making these still pictures exhibiting a video effect - movement in stillness!

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Raghu Rai Clicks Sadhguru

Sadhguru: I really don’t know how many pictures people have taken of me. It should be in the millions. The pictures are significant not because it’s of the ashram, or me, or Adiyogi – the pictures are significant because Raghu did capture something in a few pictures that no one has ever captured, something I am always conscious of. In the sense, the entire system of yoga is essentially in the physical dimension. Existence is about geometry. One way of looking at the yogic process is, it is about making your personal geometry in such a way that it aligns and reflects the cosmic geometry. If two things become geometrically congruent, in many ways, they become one. The entire yogic system is about that.

A yogi is like that: he sits, stands, and breathes in a certain way, because being even slightly off means you’re losing out on something.

If I just look at a tree, right from my childhood, the first thing that registers for me is the entire geometry of the tree. I don’t see the colors, I don’t see the shades – the first thing I see is the geometric way in which it is standing. My draw for any form is because of its geometry, not necessarily because of its color and other aspects of surface beauty. The real beauty of any physical form is in its geometry. When people take pictures of you or other things, they will look for a picture which is nice, proper, smiling, facing a certain way, but there are other aspects which are not consciously done.

Yoga Is Geometry

The nature of a yogi is that he becomes geometrically conscious. When I say conscious, I do not mean self-conscious about how I stand and sit. It is not about that. It is just that you ingrain into your system that your body naturally settles down in a certain way. In a way, if you want to understand this, you must see how wild animals sit. Let’s say a snake, how it settles down for different purposes, geometrically in a very economical way – minimum movement, maximum impact. They always know how to arrange themselves. Only human beings go into all kinds of geometric disorder. Most other creatures, particularly carnivorous animals, have an enormous sense of geometry – how they stand, crouch, and do things.

A yogi is like that: he sits, stands, and breathes in a certain way, because being even slightly off means you’re losing out on something. If you are geometrically reasonably perfect or nearly perfect, you will function with least amount of friction. This is so with any machine. A machine is working efficiently when it is geometrically well-aligned. If it’s geometrically misaligned, friction will happen. Similarly within a human being, how you sit, stand, breathe, and move will determine how much energy you expend doing simple activities of life. Those who are geometrically discordant will run out of energy very quickly. For those who are geometrically aligned, their energies will last for a long time.

Capturing the Sublime

Initially, I thought it’s too embarrassing to have a picture book about myself. But then I looked at these pictures again and again. Which is not like me, I don’t look at my own photographs, nor do I like to listen to my own talks. I’ve been looking at these particular pictures again and again simply because there are certain aspects of geometry that he caught, which translate into movement if you look at them.

These are still pictures, but in some of the pictures, somewhere there is an effect of a video in the still picture. If you look at it for long enough, it moves. Because geometrically, you got me at a time when I was in a certain way. I’m always conscious of this within myself. This is lifetimes of work to build it into your system so that you are always aligned with everything around you. Otherwise you cannot do things.

Movement in Stillness

You need to bring this into your life that your life, in some way, has to be geometrically congruent; only then will you live a very smooth life. Otherwise everything will be friction, somewhere or the other.

The nature of physical existence is rooted in its geometry. Geometry not as a subject – geometry as arrangement of physical forms. There is a certain geometric beauty to some of the pictures. At least fifteen percent of the pictures have captured that movement of things. That’s what excited me when I saw his first images. Raghu always said, “Sadhguru, you can’t treat me like a photographer – I am not a photographer.” Then I said, “What the hell are you then?” Then, as I looked at a few pictures, I saw it.

And something I never did till now, I never allowed any photographer to enter my home and shoot pictures. He was the first photographer who entered the house and shot pictures. I want you to enjoy the art behind it. Not just seeing your Sadhguru there. I want you to understand, because you need to bring this into your life that your life, in some way, has to be geometrically congruent; only then will you live a very smooth life. Otherwise everything will be friction, somewhere or the other.


Yoga Is a Science

September 11, 2018

6 min read

Summary: A scientific approach is something which has a systematic approach and is applicable to everyone. Yoga is also a science, and no other science is as largely applicable as yoga is. Yoga is a way to obliterate your boundaries and live an exuberant life. Unfortunately the yoga that people have heard today, is what has rebound from America!

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Why Do Young Indians Resist Yogic Sciences?

Q: Namaskaram, Sadhguru. I am pursuing science, and when I talk about yoga and doing Shambhavi in my college, people look kind of look down upon me, saying, “You are a science student, how can you talk about these things?”

In my first year, I used to feel very bad about it, but then I just left it. Now I have a question as to why there is such resistance in the youth about our own sciences. I mean, Indian sciences have been established by a deep understanding of everything. Why is there a resistance? And is it important that we convert this resistance into acceptance, or at least tell them not to disregard it without having explored it in its complete sense? And if so, how do we integrate inner sciences into the current education system that is in place?

Sadhguru: Unfortunately, today we have a very constipated perception of what is scientific. Essentially, something is considered science if there is a systematic approach to it, and it is repeatable. Science is fundamentally physics, but there are other sciences which have evolved out of it: biological studies, psychological studies, and social sciences are there. So, anything which has a systematic approach and is applicable not just to one person, but to a larger number of people, becomes a science or a scientific approach.

In that sense, there is no other science which is as largely applicable as the yogic sciences. It is just that the yoga that people have heard about today is a rebound from the American coast. They think yoga means wearing certain pants and going around. It is a kind of a fashion. No. Yoga literally means “union”. What does union mean? The very body that you carry right now, one day somebody is going to bury you or burn you. Smoking or non-smoking, whichever way will you become part of the earth?

Participants: Yes.

Sadhguru: Even now, you are just a small outcrop of this earth. You lost your sense only because you were given the ability to be mobile. You thought you were a world by yourself. If you were stuck like a tree, I am sure you would have understood that you are a part of the earth. Just because the planet gave you the freedom to move, how stupid you became! This is not just true with the physical body – it is so with the entire universe and with every aspect of you.

There is no other science which is as largely applicable as the yogic sciences.

So yoga means union, and “union” means that this is a science of how to obliterate the boundaries of your individuality so that you become a much larger life than what you are right now. Either you can live here as a constipated life or an exuberant one. Constipation means it happens little by little. Right now, for most people, life is happening little by little. If you ask them what are the great moments in their life, they say, “When I passed my examination, I felt great,” then, “I was miserable, then I found a job I felt great, but then all the people made me miserable. Then I got married, it was really wonderful, then my mother-in-law came and pshew!” Like this it goes on. They will count five great moments in their life. If every moment of your life is not an exuberant outburst of life, then it is a constipated life.

If you want to live an exuberant life, the boundaries of individuality must go, to some extent. Only then, you capture a larger amount of life, and you have a larger experience of life and a higher level of exuberance than what you normally see around you. Have you blown soap bubbles when you were young?

Participants: Now also, we are young…

Sadhguru: Oh! Did you blow soap bubbles when you were children?

Participants: Yes.

Sadhguru: Suppose you got only this big of a bubble. But somebody else got a much bigger bubble. Why? You also have a lung full of air, you also have soap, but one person gets this big of a bubble. Because if you want to expand boundaries, the important thing is not the desire, but to capture that much air in that limited possibility. Then it becomes this big.

Similarly, my body and your body are different. Until we are buried, we do not understand it is all the same earth. But right now, it is one hundred percent clear that this is my body, and that is your body, this is my mind and that is your mind. This cannot be that, and that cannot be this. But there is no such thing as my life and your life. There is just life. How much life you capture determines the scope and scale of your life, not how much information you capture. If this has to happen, you have to breach the concretized boundaries of your individuality and push it. When the boundaries are dissolved, then we say you are in yoga. If one experiences the dissolution, then we refer to that person as a yogi. How far each individual will go is subject to various realities, but at least we should make a scientific and focused effort as to how to breach these boundaries of individuality which we ourselves created.

I live yoga, because my entire life is to constantly wipe away the boundaries within myself and within everybody else.

All your boundaries are created by you, isn’t it? You create the boundary, and then you suffer the boundary – what kind of life is that? If nature created the boundary and you suffer it, that is understandable. But you build walls and create your own boundary in pursuit of self-preservation. These walls of self-preservation will become walls of self-imprisonment. If you do not want that, you need yoga. “Should I twist, should I turn, should I stand on my head?” No, yoga does not mean twisting and turning. You can do yoga in whichever way – you can breathe, walk, talk, read, sleep or stand and do yoga. There is no specific activity. It is a certain dimension.

People keep asking me, “Sadhguru, how many hours of yogasanas do you do?” I say, “Twenty seconds!” Actually, it is true. I do only twenty seconds of sadhana. I wake up in the morning, just twenty seconds and I am done. Then do I not do yoga for the rest of the day? No! I live yoga, because my entire life is to constantly wipe away the boundaries within myself and within everybody else. This is yoga. What we are doing here right now is yoga.


Is Yoga Only About Asanas?

February 1, 2016

4 min read

Summary: Yoga is misunderstood, especially in the west, as twisting the body into impossible postures. Sadhguru says, that in Patanjali's yoga sutras, which form the bedrock of modern yoga, only one sutra is dedicated to asanas, thiram sukham asanam. Asanas are only for preparation, they are not the whole yoga. There are other dimensions to yoga. Sadhguru says "Yoga is a tool to find ultimate expression to life. Every human being must explore and know this".

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Yoga: Finding Ultimate Expression to Life

Q: Sadhguru, I have heard you say that yoga is the Ultimate Expression. What is that?

Sadhguru: When we say “yoga,” for most people it probably means twisting the body into impossible postures. That’s not what yoga is about. Among the Yoga Sutras, which form the bedrock of today’s yoga, only one sutra is dedicated to asanas. All Patanjali said was “Sthiram sukham asanam” – a posture which is comfortable and firm, that is your asana. Asanas are a very preparatory step, but unfortunately they are being propagated as the whole of yoga. Yoga means to be in perfect tune. Your body, mind and spirit and the existence are in absolute harmony. When you fine-tune yourself to a point where everything functions so beautifully within you, the best of your abilities will naturally flow out of you.

Have you noticed, just a little happiness can liberate you from your usual limitations of energy and capability. When you are happy, your energies always function better. You seem to have endless energy. It doesn’t matter even if you do not eat or sleep, you can go on and on. If a little happiness can do this to you, imagine if your body and mind were functioning in a completely different state of relaxation and a certain level of blissfulness. You would be released from so many things that most people suffer from. For example, let’s say you have a nagging headache. Your headache is not a major disease but just that throbbing pain can take all your capability away for the whole day. But with the practice of yoga, your body and mind will be kept at their highest possible peak.

There are also other dimensions to yoga. When you activate your energies, you can function in a different way. Right now, you consider yourself to be a person and are identified with many things. But what you call “myself” is just a certain amount of energy. Modern science says that the whole existence is just energy manifesting itself in different ways. You are just a certain amount of energy functioning in a particular way. As far as science is concerned, this same energy which you call as “myself” could be a rock, could lie there as mud, stand up as a tree, bark as a dog or manifest as you. Everything is the same energy, but functioning at different levels of capability.

Yoga is a tool to find ultimate expression to life. Every human being must explore and know this.

Similarly among human beings, though we are all made of the same energy, we do not function at the same level of capability. What we refer to as capability, talent, creativity or your ability to do things in the world is just a certain way your energy functions. In one plant, this energy functions to create rose flowers. In another, it functions to create jasmine. But it is all the same energy manifesting itself. If you gain a little bit of mastery over your own energies, you will simply and naturally do things that you never imagined possible. This is the experience of any number of people who have started doing yogic practices. It is the inner technology of creating situations the way you want them.

With the same mud that we build such huge buildings, people initially built little huts. They thought that was all they could do with it. Haven’t we built computers with the same earth? We thought we could only dig out earth and make pots or bricks out of it. Now we make computers, cars and even spacecrafts. It is the same energy, but we have started using it for higher possibilities.

Similarly, there is a whole technology as to how to use our inner energies for higher possibilities. Yoga is a tool to find ultimate expression to life. Every human being must explore and know this. Otherwise, life becomes very limited and accidental. But once you start activating your inner energies, your capabilities happen in a different sphere altogether.


Adiyogi – The Founder Of Yoga

November 1, 2012

4 min read

Summary: Shiva, or Adiyogi, as he is called in the yogic culture, was the originator of yoga. Adiyogi transmitted the yogic sciences to seven sages, who are today celebrated as saptarishis. Sadhguru says - "the yogic science is not about a yoga class that you go through about how to bend your body – which every new born infant knows – or how to hold your breath – which every unborn infant knows. This is the science of understanding the mechanics of the entire human system".

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Adiyogi – The First Yogi

Sadhguru: In the yogic culture, Shiva is not known as a god, but as the Adiyogi or the first yogi – the originator of yoga. He was the one who first put this seed into the human mind. According to the yogic lore, over fifteen thousand years ago, Shiva attained to his full enlightenment and abandoned himself in an intense ecstatic dance upon the Himalayas. When his ecstasy allowed him some movement, he danced wildly. When it became beyond movement, he became utterly still.

People saw that he was experiencing something that nobody had known before, something that they were unable to fathom. Interest developed and people came wanting to know what this was. They came, they waited and they left because the man was oblivious to other people’s presence. He was either in intense dance or absolute stillness, completely uncaring of what was happening around him. Soon, everyone left…

Except for seven men.

These seven people were insistent that they must learn what this man had in him, but Shiva ignored them. They pleaded and begged him, “Please, we want to know what you know.” Shiva dismissed them and said, “You fools. The way you are, you are not going to know in a million years. There is a tremendous amount of preparation needed for this. This is not entertainment.”

So they started preparing. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, they prepared. Shiva just chose to ignore them. On a full moon day, after eighty-four years of sadhana, when the solstice had shifted from the summer solstice to the winter solstice – which in this tradition is known as Dakshinayana – the Adiyogi looked at these seven people and saw that they had become shining receptacles of knowing. They were absolutely ripe to receive. He could not ignore them anymore. They grabbed his attention.

He watched them closely for the next few days and when the next full moon rose, he decided to become a Guru. The Adiyogi transformed himself into the Adi Guru; the first Guru was born on that day which is today known as Guru Purnima. On the banks of Kanti Sarovar, a lake that lies a few kilometers above Kedarnath, he turned South to shed his grace upon the human race, and the transmission of the yogic science to these seven people began. The yogic science is not about a yoga class that you go through about how to bend your body – which every new born infant knows – or how to hold your breath – which every unborn infant knows. This is the science of understanding the mechanics of the entire human system.

After many years, when the transmission was complete, it produced seven fully enlightened beings – the seven celebrated sages who are today known as the Saptarishis, and are worshipped and admired in Indian culture. Shiva put different aspects of yoga into each of these seven people, and these aspects became the seven basic forms of yoga. Even today, yoga has maintained these seven distinct forms.

The Saptarishis were sent in seven different directions to different parts of the world to carry this dimension with which a human being can evolve beyond his present limitations and compulsions. They became the limbs of Shiva, taking the knowing and technology of how a human being can exist here as the Creator himself, to the world. Time has ravaged many things, but when the cultures of those lands are carefully looked at, small strands of these people’s work can be seen, still alive. It has taken on various colors and forms, and has changed its complexion in a million different ways, but these strands can still be seen.

The Adiyogi brought this possibility that a human being need not be contained in the defined limitations of our species. There is a way to be contained in physicality but not to belong to it. There is a way to inhabit the body but never become the body. There is a way to use your mind in the highest possible way but still never know the miseries of the mind. Whatever dimension of existence you are in right now, you can go beyond that – there is another way to live. He said, “You can evolve beyond your present limitations if you do the necessary work upon yourself.” That is the significance of the Adiyogi.


Patanjali – The Father of Modern Yoga

June 26, 2014

9 min read

Summary: Patanjali was an enlightened being of a great intellect. His mastery of language, mathematics and perception of astronomy was fantastic. Patanjali is regarded as the father of modern day yoga. He did not invent yoga, yoga was first transmitted by Adiyogi to the saptarishis. Patanjali, who came later, saw that it was getting too diversified, and he assimilated everything into the form of sutras (formulas). Sadhguru tells that deliberately he wrote the sutras in a certain way, so that it does not interest the scholars, and are of interest only to those who are exploring consciousness.

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Patanjali - The Father of Modern Yoga

Sadhguru: If you look at Patanjali, as an enlightened being, he can’t be more enlightened than someone else. There is no such thing. Realization is realization. But as a man and above all as an intellect, he is such an intellect that the great scientists of today look like kindergarten children in front of him. The breadth of his understanding of life is so big that you cannot believe that this is possible in one human being. In his mastery of language, mathematics and in his perception of astronomy, he is so fantastic. Today’s scholars argue that this is not one man’s work, that many people must have worked to make this happen because it is so big, it cannot fit into one man’s intellect. It is one man’s work. He is probably one of the greatest intellects ever on this planet.

He is known as the father of modern yoga. He did not invent yoga. Yoga was already there in various forms, which he assimilated into a system. Shiva, the Adiyogi or first yogi, transmitted yoga to the Sapta Rishis or the seven sages many thousands of years ago. He had the highest understanding of human nature, but he didn’t put anything down in writing. He was too wild to be a scholar. He found it was too difficult to put everything he knew into one person, so he chose seven people and put different aspects of yoga into them. These became the seven basic forms of yoga. Even today, though these have branched off into hundreds of systems, yoga has still maintained seven distinct forms.

The Yoga Sutras

Patanjali came much later and sort of assimilated everything. He saw that it was getting too diversified and complex for anyone to understand in any meaningful way. So he assimilated and included all aspects into a certain format – as the Yoga Sutras.

He just understood humanity inside out – not as people but as a total mechanism of the human body, mind, consciousness…

Sutra literally means a thread. Or in modern language we can say it is like a formula. Anyone who knows the English alphabet, even a kindergarten child can say E=mc², but there is an enormous amount of science behind that little formula, which most people do not understand. The sutras are like this, in thread form. Out of ignorance, people have just taken these sutras and are trying to implement it as it is. A thread is of no consequence by itself. There can never be a garland without the thread but no one ever wears a garland for the sake of the thread. The thread was given so that each master makes his own kind of garland. You can put flowers on it, or beads or pearls or diamonds. The thread is vital but that is not a goal by itself.

Unless you are exposed to the culture, it is a little difficult to understand what kind of mind Patanjali is. Even though the Indian scriptures like the Vedas and the Upanishads are quite phenomenal by themselves both in terms of grammatical excellence and in their poetic beauty and content, the Yoga Sutras are an absolutely brilliant piece of work compared to any of the scriptures on the planet talking about life and beyond.

They are a tremendous document about life and the most uninteresting book on the planet. It is the driest and dullest book you can read. It is not scholarly in the usual sense. Patanjali does not teach any practice in them. He did this intentionally, and his mastery over language and composition was such that he wrote it in a way that no scholar would be interested in it. The idea is, this is a formula to open up life. If people like the poetry and literary part of it, all kinds of people, especially scholars, will read it. Once they read it, they will make a 100 different interpretations of it.

The sutra will mean something only to a person who is in a certain level of experience. Otherwise it is just a bundle of words which don’t make any sense. Someone who is exploring his consciousness, if he is in a certain state of experience, if he just reads one sutra, it will be explosive. You are not required to read the whole book. If you read one sutra and make it true with your life, that’s enough. It will realize you.

And Now Yoga

Just to give you some sense of what kind of a man he is – he starts such a great document of life in such a strange way: the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras is just half a sentence, not even a full sentence. The sentence is like this, “And Now Yoga.” What do you make out of it? Intellectually, it doesn’t make any sense, but experientially what it is saying is, if you still think that building a new house or finding a new wife or getting your daughter married will settle your life, it is not yet time for yoga. If you have seen money, power, wealth and pleasure, you have tasted everything in your life and you have realized that nothing is going to fulfill you ultimately and work in the real sense, if you have gotten that point, then it is time for yoga. All the nonsense that the whole world is involved in, Patanjali just brushes it aside with half a sentence. This is why the first sutra is “and now yoga.” That means, you know nothing works and you do not have a clue about what the hell this is. The pain of ignorance is tearing you apart. Now, yoga. Now there is a way to know.

It is improper to call Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras a book because it is not a book. It is a complex arrangement of tools – such fantastic tools arranged in such a brilliant way that if at all something similar ever happens, it is too far away. Because someone with that kind of inner experience usually would not care or bother with scholarly nonsense. And someone who is so scholarly is usually so lost in his scholarship that he never has any inner experience. Never before has there been one person with an absolute depth of inner experience, but with that kind of erudition and scholarly mastery over language.

He just understood humanity inside out – not as people but as a total mechanism of the human body, human mind, human consciousness – everything – in such absolute detail and completeness. There is simply no better way to look at it. It is not fair actually because whatever you try to say, the guy has already said it! You think of the most brilliant idea and try to say something, but he has already said it. He did not leave anything for anyone to say about life.

The musician

They say he played a variety of instruments and was a great musician and singer. The veena was one of his favorite instruments and he composed many ragas. His intellect was such that he could find a way through anything. He was absolutely audacious in everything and did things in a challenging way that no one could break through.

There was another sage Vyagrapada who was his contemporary. Vyagrapada means “one who has tiger’s feet.” And there was someone else with a name that meant “one with horns on his head.” Once, in their banter, they got into an argument and teased Patanjali. He then took a challenge that he will compose music in any raga without using alphabets with “horns.” This is almost impossible but he composed a complicated series of music. If you listen to it, you will just see it seems impossible, but still the music sticks to the tones and tunes of the ragas without those alphabets. It is so incredible. That is the kind of man he was.

Chidambaram temple

In South India, there were five lingas created for the five elements in nature. Patanjali consecrated the linga for space which is in Chidambaram.

In the yogic system, the snake is used as a symbolism for unmanifest energy or kundalini because till it moves, you don’t even realize that it is there. Patanjali was such a great being, for him divinity is not an upward movement. He is a cascade of divinity. He is a kind of human being that gods would be envious of. He is symbolically depicted in the famous half-man, half-snake form indicating that he has risen above the duality of life and attained to ultimate oneness, and in doing so, has opened the door for others to achieve the same. Half of his body has been symbolically made into snake, because he is not seen as a person anymore. He is seen as the very basis of the yogic system.

Chitta Vritti Nirodha

Patanjali defined yoga as Chitta Vritti Nirodha, which literally means that if you still the modifications and activity of the mind, you are in yoga. Everything has become one in your consciousness. We may be pursuing many things in our lives and going through processes that we call achievements, but to go beyond the modifications of the mind is the most fundamental and at the same time the highest achievement one can attain, because this releases a human being from what he is seeking – from what is within and what is outside – from everything. If only he stills his mind, he becomes an ultimate possibility. The mind becomes a plain mirror, not a wavy mirror. A wavy mirror will distort one’s whole perception of life. At least if you don’t look at it, you may have some idea how you are, but if you look at it every day, it will give you a completely distorted vision of everything.

Right now, most human beings are using their mind only between their memory and imagination. Memory and imagination are not two separate things. Memory is accumulated past, imagination is an exaggerated version of that. If you bring your mind to a state where you are neither contaminated by memory nor deluded by imagination, then it is a truly intelligent, penetrative mind. It sees everything there is to see – life and its source. For the survival process, your memory and imagination are good enough, but if you want to explore other dimensions of life, then memory and imagination are not sufficient because they are only a recycling of your past. Once you recycle your past, there is a pattern to your life. And it is an unbreakable pattern if your mind is just engaged in memory and imagination. Once you are trapped by a pattern, it does not matter who created the pattern, it is a kind of slavery. Essentially, realizing that one is trapped in psychological realities and missing out on the existential experience of the grandeur of creation is the first step towards liberation.

This is the reason why, of all the beautiful ways in which it could be expressed, Patanjali chose the description Chitta Vritti Nirodha for yoga – a technology which can take you towards your liberation or realization.


What are Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras?

December 21, 2018

8 min read

Summary: Who was Patanjali, and what are the Yoga Sutras written by him? Are they key to well-being and liberation? What is their significance, and how one can make use of this timeless treasure.

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

The True Nature of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – An Introduction

Sadhguru: Apart from his realization, Patanjali was a kind of intellect that would make top scientists look like kindergarten children – that is the kind of understanding he had about every aspect of life. In Patanjali’s time thousands of years ago, yoga had started specializing in such a way that there were hundreds of schools of yoga. It is like the specialization in medical science today. Thirty years ago, you just had one family doctor. Now, for every part of the body, you have a different doctor. Maybe in another fifty years, it will become like this that if you want a medical checkup, you need one hundred doctors. By the time you get an appointment with these one hundred doctors, either you are well or you are dead.

This happened to yoga at that time – hundreds of schools handling different dimensions of yoga. Patanjali saw that it had become completely impractical, so he codified yoga in almost two hundred sutras.

Once specialization crosses a certain point, it tends to become ridiculous in terms of practicality. There is value in studying the details, but in terms of people learning and making use of it, it becomes quite ridiculous. This happened to yoga at that time – hundreds of schools handling different dimensions of yoga. Patanjali saw that it had become completely impractical, so he codified yoga in almost two hundred sutras.

The Yoga Sutras Are Not Philosophy

Today, because everyone can publish a book, there are a hundred different interpretations of the Yoga Sutras. But the Yoga Sutras are not a philosophy to be interpreted. Nor do the Yoga Sutras give any practices. They are like a scientific document. They only talk about what does what in the system. Depending upon your intention or what you want to create in the system, accordingly you design a certain kriya.

The word sutra literally means “thread.” A garland has a thread, but you never wear the garland for its thread. What kind of flowers, beads, pearls, or diamonds you add to it depends on the skill of the person who is putting it together. Patanjali is only providing the sutra, because without the thread, there is no garland. But you never wear a garland for the sake of its thread. So do not look at the thread and come to conclusions. The sutras are not meant to be read and logically understood. If you approach it logically, trying to understand things intellectually, it will become nonsensical.

For someone who is in a certain state of experience, this thread means a lot; he will use it to prepare a garland. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are not to be read like a book. Take one sutra and make it a reality in your life. If one sutra becomes a living reality for you, you do not have to necessarily read the other sutras.

Sutra 1: “… and now, Yoga”

The Yoga Sutras are a tremendous document on life. And Patanjali started this great document in a strange way. The first chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is half a sentence: “…and now, Yoga.” In a way, he is saying, “If you still think your life will become better with a new house, a new girlfriend, a new car, more money, or whatever else, it is not yet time for yoga.” If you saw all that and you realized that it does not fulfill your life in any way: “…and now, Yoga.”

Sutra 2: Yoga and Focus of the Mind

Questioner: Sadhguru, Patanjali’s second Yoga Sutra says, yogash chitta vritti nirodhah, which could be translated as “Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively towards an object and sustain that direction without any distractions.” What does this really mean?

Sadhguru: This is called dharana. Dharana means there is you and an object, and you are entirely focused on that object. If you focus on it absolutely, after some time, only you will be there, or only the object will be there. This is called dhyana, which is the next stage of focus. If you can hold the state of dhyana, after some time, neither you nor the object will be there. There will be some other huge presence. This is called samadhi. These are progressive states of practice.

When we say, “Hold your attention on an object,” people think they have to worship a god or do something in particular. No, you can focus on a flower, a leaf, a grain of sand, a worm – it does not matter. But if you want to hold your attention on something, it must inspire a certain level of passion and emotion in you. Only then will your attention stay there. Why is it that it is so difficult for students to keep their attention on the textbook, but if there is a girl in the neighborhood that a boy is interested in, you do not have to tell him, “Think about her”? He anyway stays focused on her, because there is a certain emotion behind it.

The idea is that unless you hold something really high, you cannot maintain your focus.

This is the reason why the various forms of gods came in. Focus on whatever you can relate to. Maybe you cannot relate to the existing god, so you take another one. If this is not working for you, take another one. If none of them are working for you, you create your own. This is called Ishta Devata. The idea is that unless you hold something really high, you cannot maintain your focus. If you concentrate on something that you are not interested in, it will exhaust you. The focus will enhance you only when you are really grabbed by something.

It is as simple as going to a movie or reading a book. Let us say you read a textbook – the textbook is written for an average intelligence. In spite of that, you read it ten times but still do not get it. On the other hand, you read a love story or a suspense thriller at seventy pages per hour, and you remember every word of it. The object of focus must inspire passion in you. Otherwise, concentration becomes a concentration camp within yourself. It becomes suffering.

Q: In the Yoga Sutras, right at the beginning, Patanjali defines yoga with the Sanskrit phrase “Chitta vritti nirodha.” Can you explain what that means?

The Yoga Sutras

You do not have to do many practices, like people are trying to do 36 or 84 asanas – just one would be enough. You were referring to Patanjali. A lot of people think Patanjali is the origin of yoga – he is not. When Patanjali came, yoga had evolved and developed into over 1800 schools. Over 1800 varieties of yoga were going on in India at that time.

Patanjali simply said, “Chitta vritti nirodha.” This means if cessation of intellect happens, you will be in yoga.

This is happening in medical science today. Thirty years ago, if you wanted a medical checkup, you had to go to one family doctor. Today, you have to go to six or seven doctors, because you have separate doctors for different parts of the body. A few years ago, when I was in Atlanta, I badly injured my knee while playing soccer. So, at a talk I was giving, my knee was bandaged. At the end, someone came up to me and said, “Sadhguru, I think I can look at your knee. I’m a knee doctor.” I said, “What? You must be an orthopedic.” He said, “No, I’m a knee doctor.” It seems every day, he conducts a number of knee surgeries – he does nothing but knees. Then I asked, “Which knee are you – right or left?”

Right now, we may be going to six doctors for a medical checkup, but as they specialize further, in another 50 years, you may need 100 doctors, because if you study even your little finger carefully, you would need an entire team of doctors – it is so complex. If you attend to every aspect of your body, you will see it is such a complex machine.

But if it goes beyond a certain point and you have to meet 100 doctors to check your health, by the time you get all your appointments, you will have an appointment with an undertaker – it will become ridiculous. This happened to yoga. When Patanjali came, he saw this immense knowledge, but it had become impractical for anyone to grasp everything. So he reduced the whole thing into a few sutras – eight limbs of yoga – so that it is a little easier for people to grasp. It was not wrong that there were 1800 varieties of yoga – it was just impractical.

Chitta Vritti Nirodha

Patanjali defined and described yoga in many ways because he was more of a scientist than a saint. He went about it very mathematically. A sutra is like a formula. He simply said, “Chitta vritti nirodha.” This means if cessation of intellect happens, you will be in yoga. The fundamental nature of your intellect is, it is divisive. It is a knife-like instrument. The way for the intellect to analyze and know anything is to dissect, to cut up everything and look at it. If you keep dissecting everything, you will know one aspect of life, but you will not know the nature of life.

By dissection, you can know the physicality – you cannot know the entirety of life. So Patanjali said if you cease your intellect consciously and you are still alert – not drugged out – if you bring your intellect to a hold and it is not cutting up anything, then it is in a state of nirodha. That means the intellect is not active, but you are fully conscious. Then you are in yoga, because if you do not divide the world, as you breathe, as you pulsate with life, you will know you are a part of everything.


Who Was Bhrigu? What is Bhrigu Samhita?

June 2, 2016

6 min read

Summary: Bhrigu was one of the Saptarishis, the first seven disciples of Shiva. Sadhguru narrates the story of how Bhrigu was cursed by Parvati, and how Shiva gave him a third leg to stand on. A leg through which he could perceive the three worlds. With this perception, he mapped the human consciousness and created Bhrigu Samhita - a complete map of how human beings would be till the end of the solar system. There are people trained to read this map - depending on individual capabilities, some of them can be bang on. But once someone is on a spiritual path, they will refuse to predict your future!

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

The Bhrigu Samhita – Predicting Humanity’s Future

Sadhguru: Bhrigu was one of the Sapta Rishis, the first seven disciples of Shiva. It was an everyday process for them to go around Shiva thrice, to offer their devotion and obeisance to him. Bhrigu was a very ardent devotee and a little possessive about Shiva, and one day he thought, “Why should I go around Parvati? I have nothing to do with his wife. I want to go only around Shiva.” So he told Parvati to move away. Parvati was very angry and refused. So, Bhrigu became a small bird and went around only Shiva, leaving Parvati out. Shiva looked at this funny situation, while Parvati was getting angrier and angrier with Bhrigu insisting he would go only around Shiva.

Wanting to see what Bhrigu would do, Shiva drew Parvati onto his left lap, leaving no space between them. Bhrigu turned into a bumble bee and went around only Shiva’s head, again leaving Parvati out. She got even more furious, “What is this rubbish?” Shiva was very amused with the drama, and pulled her in, making her a part of himself, till they were sitting as one. He shed one half of himself and included her, and became an Ardhanari. Then, Bhrigu, as a bumblebee, bored a hole, again making sure that he would go around only Shiva. Parvati was so furious that she cursed him, “Let your body decimate! Forget going around Shiva, you shouldn’t be able to take a single step, you must become like that.”

Bhrigu lost all his muscle and just became bone and skin. He couldn’t even stand. Then Shiva interfered and said, “What have you done to him? He is a devotee. Devotees are insane. He is not doing this out of any disrespect to you. If you had just told him ‘I am also Shiva’, he would go around you too. Why did you have to do this to him?”

But it was too late and he couldn’t do anything now, so Shiva gave Bhrigu a third leg to stand on. You will see outside certain Shiva temples, there will be an image of a man with three legs, a tripod. The third leg not only became a leg to stand up on, it also became a leg through which he could perceive the three worlds. It is a symbolic leg.

Mapping Human Consciousness

With this perception, he created what is known as the Bhrigu Samhita – this was a map of how human beings will be, till the end of the solar system. He was not talking about individual human beings, he was talking about humanity – how it will evolve, what it will do, the kind of human beings who will come and depending on the many combinations and permutations, what situation will come towards them.

As an analogy, suppose you make a sketch of the movement of the wind, you would know how the wind would move depending on the location of the high and low pressure areas. Similarly, Bhrigu made a map of human consciousness – the kind of womb a human being would move into, what will happen and so on. He went into this elaborately, and also trained people who would be able to read these maps.

Reading the Map

It takes training to read an elaborate map. If you have seen aeronautical maps, they are fairly complex – the planet is round, it’s spinning, time zones are changing – all this is factored into the map. Someone who knows how to read it can tell you everything you need to know in two minutes. If you haven’t been trained, you can spend days with it, and still not know.

Bhrigu made a map of human consciousness – the kind of womb a human being would move into, what will happen and so on.

Similarly, Bhrigu trained people with a certain dimension of intuitiveness to read this, because this was not all logical stuff. When you sit in front of these people, they are not looking at your background or your future, they are just reading a map – an intuitive map – and trying to interpret how situations will unfold. The interpretation may not always be right because that depends on the expertise of an individual person – not everyone can interpret the same way. But the fundamental reading will be correct. For example, meteorologists can predict that it will rain by looking at the air pressure, humidity and other factors, but it is not 100%. It may be slightly off. Instead of raining here, it may rain there, because nature moves a little bit, but somewhere some precipitation has to happen when certain dynamics change in the atmosphere. This is just like that.

These persons cannot do this unless they are in a certain state. Usually, it should happen around specific temples, but nowadays they are moving around for commercial reasons, and it may not be as effective, but there are still some who are bang on.

Is Everything Predetermined?

Does this mean destiny is fixed? Destiny is not something fixed by someone. It is your own karma. If your “software” is in a certain way, it will naturally function that way. Let’s say someone predicts: “You will live for this many years”. You may jump off the mountain the next moment! The physical body and mental structures are something you built, so you can destroy these two things. However, you cannot touch the other aspects of life. They will anyway happen the way the software is. What these people are reading is your software.

Nothing is predetermined, not even death. Everything has been created by you.

Suppose you have a certain type of software on your computer, even if you smash up the computer, if you pop the hard drive into a new system, the same thing will come on in a new computer. So you may jump off the mountain today, but you will get a new “computer” sometime later with the same software. The same thing will happen, nothing new.

But if you are on the spiritual path, they will refuse to predict your future – if they are genuine. Because when anyone says “I am on the spiritual path,” what it means is, “It does not matter what nonsensical karma I have, I am going the way I want to go. I am going to go towards liberation. It does not matter what other factors there are – what society maybe saying, what my genes are, what my karma is, what the planets are saying – I will go where I want to go.” That is what spirituality means – taking destiny into your hands.

Nothing is predetermined, not even death. Everything has been created by you. The problem with you is that you create most of it unconsciously so you think it is being heaped upon you from somewhere else. If you can create something unconsciously, you can also create it consciously. That is the whole effort of all spiritual processes – instead of blundering through it by creating it unconsciously, you create your life consciously.


Why Should Yoga Be Imparted Orally – The Guru-Shishya Paramparya

March 29, 2013

3 min read

Summary: Sadhguru tells us about the guru-shishya paramparya. The spiritual aspects were never written down, because once it is written, anyone can read and misinterpret. Only once a person has attained a certain level of experience within himself, he should know, others should not. So, that is how it was transmitted. Sadhguru also tells us about the significance of a guru for someone on a spiritual path.

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Classical Yoga: The Guru-Shishya Paramparya

The Guru-shishya paramparya thrived and flourished for thousands of years in India. In this culture, when there was a need to convey subtle and powerful knowledge, it was always done in an atmosphere of utter trust, dedication, and intimacy between the Guru (Master) and the shishya (disciple). “Parampara” is literally defined as “an uninterrupted tradition” – in other words, it denotes an unbroken lineage of imparted knowledge.

Describing the tradition, Sadhguru says: “India is the only place where this kind of tradition existed. That is, one person realizes something, and he looks for somebody who is truly dedicated, who holds this truth above his life. He looks for such a person and transmits it to him. This person looks for another like that and transmits it to him. This chain continued for thousands of years without a single break. This is known as Guru-shishya paramparya.”

Though they knew writing, spiritual aspects of life were never written down because once you write, all the wrong kinds of people will read it and misinterpret it. Only a person who is in a certain level of experience should know it; others should not. That is how it was transmitted. Only when the Guru-shishya paramparya started breaking up, did they start writing down the spiritual truths. Until then it was never written down. Once you write it, the first people who are going to read these books are the scholars. Once it gets into the scholars’ hands, it is finished. Truth is over.”

The science of yoga is all about making a person transcend the five sense organs and know one’s ultimate nature. In order to do this, it is important that he has the necessary energy support. Sadhguru explains: “That which is not in your experience cannot be taught to you intellectually. It can only be taught to you by taking you to a different dimension of experience. To take a person from one dimension of experience to another, you need a tool or a device, which is of a higher level of intensity and energy than you are right now. That device is what we call as the guru.”

“A guru is not a teacher. The Guru-shishya relationship is on an energy basis. He touches you in a dimension where nobody else can. There is a space where nobody else – your husband, your wife, your child, your parent – can touch you. They can only touch you in your emotion, your mind or your body. If you want to reach the very peak of your consciousness, you need lot of energy – all the energy you have and more. A Guru-shishya relationship has become so sacred and important because when the crisis moment comes in a disciple’s growth, he needs a little push on the energy level. Without that push, he doesn’t have the necessary energy to reach the peak. Only someone who is on a higher plane than yourself can give that little push to you. Nobody else.”

Sadhguru has created many tools that assist the transmission of yoga. As we will see in the next segment of the “Classical Yoga” series, the spectacular Adiyogi Alayam was consecrated to be a powerful space for the transmission of classical yoga. However, in the context of the Guru-shishya tradition, Sadhguru talks of the value of another tool: “Because the Guru-shishya paramparya is breaking up, the Dhyanalinga is a tremendous tool in that direction. It is not a deity, it is just a tool. If you are willing to just sit there for a few minutes, you will see it does things to you. Even a person who is totally ignorant of meditation, who has no awareness of meditation, if he sits there, he will become meditative within a few minutes. Once he has been in the sphere of Dhyanalinga, wherever he sits, he naturally becomes meditative.”


Why Is The Symbol of Yoga a Flower?

March 23, 2017

3 min read

Summary: In Yoga, God is not seen as a creator, but as an ultimate flowering. Sadhguru says - "The whole science of yoga, the whole process that we are referring to as spirituality is just a question of good gardening – nurturing the seed so that it will become a flower."

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Yoga – A Technology for Ultimate Flowering

Sadhguru: The yogic symbolism of the ultimate is a flower because on the path of yoga, God is seen as an ultimate flowering, not as the creator, the source or the seed of life. Yoga is not interested in where you came from. It is only interested in where you are going to go. But we cannot approach what is yet to be without what is. We are trying to make a space for ourselves in what is. Otherwise our interest is not in what is or what has been. Our interest is in what is yet to be.

Nurturing the Seed

We look at life in such a way that what everyone refers to as the Father, we don’t see it as a father. That means we are forsaking our pedigree. We are looking at God as something that you can be pregnant with. If you nurture it, it will be delivered unto you. If you do not nurture it, you will remain with just the seed forever.

The whole science of yoga, the whole process that we are referring to as spirituality is just a question of good gardening – nurturing the seed so that it will become a flower.

That is why the yogis decided to put you upside down! In uncomfortable positions you may see truth much better than in comfortable positions. Yoga is a technology for inner transformation on all levels, but one thing to remember is that doing a certain practice – though it has its innate qualities which can lead to transformation – is not everything. How you do it is very important.

If a method has to genuinely become a method, first and foremost, you should make up your mind that you are going to make use of it. Only then can it function as a method. It is always best to start a spiritual process with an unconditional commitment for a certain period of time – just simply do the practice for six months. No benefit needs to happen to you. Simply do it. After that, evaluate your life and see how peaceful, joyous and calm you are. What is it doing with you?

The Light Within

There was a Spanish painter, El Greco. On a fine spring morning, he was sitting with all his windows shut up. His friend walked in and said, “Why are you sitting with all these windows shut up? Let’s go out. Come. It’s a wonderful day outside, at least open the windows.” He said, “I don’t want to open the windows because the light within is shining, I don’t want it to be disturbed by the outside light.”

So, for the seed to be nurtured into a flower, do we have to switch on the light? No, the light is on. It is just that you have covered it with so much muck that it is not finding its way out. Once this light begins to shine from within, the rest is a natural process. We can do that very easily. We have the necessary inner technology to make it happen very quickly, so we do not even have to go through the natural process because that may take time. Like they have genetic engineering, we have Inner Engineering! A coconut tree which would yield in eight years’ time yields in one and a half years – genetic engineering. The same with Inner Engineering – those who would otherwise make it in ten lifetimes, they can make it in one lifetime!


Why Is Yoga Becoming Popular Now?

June 27, 2016

4 min read

Summary: What is it about yoga that it is becoming so popular today? Sadhguru tells us - "Yoga is the only system which has lived for over 15,000 years without any papacy or enforcement". Why it has survived is, because it has worked for well-being for individuals. Sadhguru says - "The reason for its growing popularity is the large scale transmission of education. We have more intellect on this planet today than ever before. As the activity of the intellect becomes stronger in the world, more people will shift to yoga over a period of time and it will become the most popular way of seeking wellbeing".

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Why is Yoga Becoming So Popular?

Sadhguru: There are many reasons why yoga is becoming popular. One thing is that it makes you realize some fundamental facts about yourself. Once in a kindergarten school, the teacher asked the students, “If I stand on my head, you will see my face will turn red because blood flows into my head. But that does not happen when I stand on my feet. Why?” A little fellow said, “Because the feet aren’t empty.”

Yoga is the only system which has lived for over 15,000 years without any papacy or enforcement.

Your body is like a barometer. If you know how to watch it, it tells you everything about you. Not the fancy things that you think about yourself, the real facts about you. Your mind is too deceptive. Every day it says a different thing about you. If you know how to read the body it tells you everything just the way it is, your past, present and future – in a way. That is why fundamental yoga starts with the body.

So, many other things come and go with changing fashions, but yoga has survived for thousands of years and is still picking up momentum. Even though it may be transmitted in a very rudimentary way and many times in a distorted manner, it still endures. Yoga is the only system which has lived for over 15,000 years without any papacy or enforcement. Nowhere in the history of humanity has it happened that somebody put a sword to someone’s neck and said, “You must do yoga.” It has survived and lived on because it has worked as a process of well-being like nothing else.

As the activity of the intellect becomes stronger in the world, more people will shift to yoga over a period of time and it will become the most popular way of seeking wellbeing.

Another thing is, generally in the world, people – young or old – are stressed like never before. People are anxious and neurotic and whatever methods they employ to handle internal turmoil – by going to a disco or going for a drive or climbing a mountain – it has worked to some extent, but it has not given them a solution. So, looking towards yoga is a very natural thing.

The reason for its growing popularity is the large scale transmission of education. We have more intellect on this planet today than ever before. So, naturally as the intellect becomes stronger, people look for logical solutions to everything. The more logical they become, the more they become dependent on science and the outcome of science is technology. As the activity of the intellect becomes stronger in the world, more people will shift to yoga over a period of time and it will become the most popular way of seeking wellbeing.

Yoga is Not an Exercise

Today, the way yoga is being done right now in most places of the world, it is a stillbirth. It is better not to get pregnant than to have a stillbirth, isn’t it? If you want six abs or whatever number, I would say go and play tennis or hike in the mountains. Yoga is not an exercise; it has other dimensions attached to it. A different dimension of fitness, yes – you may get health out of it but not six abs.

Yoga needs to be practiced in a very subtle, gentle way, not in a forceful muscle building way, because this is not about exercise.

After twenty years of yoga entering the West and becoming popular, medical professionals are now coming forth and making studies and saying, “Yoga has benefits.” Though it is taught in frivolous ways, still the health benefits of it are undeniable around the world. But if improper, distorted kind of yoga spreads, in ten to fifteen years’ time, scientific studies will clearly come out and tell you in how many ways it is harmful to human beings, and that will be the downfall.

Yoga needs to be practiced in a very subtle, gentle way, not in a forceful muscle building way, because this is not about exercise. The physical body has a whole memory structure. If you are willing to read this physical body, everything – how this cosmos evolved from nothingness to this point – is written into this body. Yoga is a way of opening up that memory and trying to restructure this life towards an ultimate possibility. It is a very subtle and scientific process.


Why Are There So Many “Rules” in Yoga?

November 7, 2016

7 min read

Summary: In the Indian culture the rules that govern life are called as dharma. Dharma means law, not religion as it is commonly misunderstood. People observed these laws, laws that govern the universe, our nature and the process of creation. There is a geometrical basis for everything physical. If you are not aligned to this geometry, there will be friction within you - pain and suffering, anxiety, tension, stress, misery. So, yoga instructions are not new rules, these are ways in which the body will function to its maximum efficiency.

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

Why Are There So Many “Rules” in Yoga?

Q: I’m in the Hatha Yoga teacher training. Here, we are looking at every detail, including how to sit properly, how and what to eat, and even how to breathe. Where is the line between making yourself joyful and making yourself miserable by trying to follow these new rules and regulations?

Sadhguru: First of all, these are no new rules and regulations. They are definitely not regulations. Maybe we can call them rules – that is one way of looking at it. In Indian culture, there have never been teachings. And God cannot give commandments to Indians, because they will argue. They will ask too many questions. When we were on the Kailash yatra, one of the Indian participants came up with a very complicated question. I said, “See, this is an Indian problem. You are thinking of how to come up with a more complicated question.” A Chinese lady concurred, “Yeah! I work for the United Nations, and I’ve always been wondering why only Indians ask questions.” We have a long tradition of questioning everything.

God sent his messenger and his son to other places, so people could claim that whatever rules they have were given by God, and no one dared to question that. Here, God himself came, and he even carefully selected whom to speak to. In spite of that, there were endless questions. You know how many questions Arjuna asked Krishna! It was not possible for Krishna to give Arjuna a commandment. He kept trying to convince him, but Arjuna was full of questions.

In Indian culture, we refer to that which governs life as the dharma. Gautama the Buddha referred to it as dhamma. Unfortunately, today people commonly misunderstand dharma as religion, but dharma means law – not a teaching, philosophy, belief system, or religion.

The Laws of Existence

There are manmade laws that regulate different aspects of society and the world, so that it functions smoothly, to whatever extent possible. For instance, in India, you are supposed to drive on the left side of the street. This is not the ultimate truth, but an agreement that was made for the traffic to run smoothly. Another thing is the vehicles were built for that. Similarly, there are many laws and arrangements that regulate society, so that we do not collide with each other. But even before there were societies and manmade laws, life happened smoothly, and it evolved. For that to happen, there must be some fundamental laws governing it.

If you pay attention to the geometry of your body, you will sit and stand in a particular way so that your body functions with minimum energy and maximum impact.

To give an example – if you walk into the jungle, you may not be able to figure out its laws, but the jungle has existed for millions of years. For it to last so long without annihilating itself or all the creatures annihilating each other, there must be some laws governing it. In this culture, people paid attention to what these laws are that govern the universe, our inner nature, and the process of creation. And people figured this out – not by imagination, not by belief, but by sheer observation of various dimensions of life.

How to sit is not something I invented. The human body is made in a certain way. The way Nandi sits in front of Dhyanalinga is the right way for a bull. But you have come as a human being, so the geometry of your body is different. All physical things and physical aspects of life have a geometric basis. If you understand the geometry of something physical – whether it is a human body, a bull, or even a mechanical item – you will know how to use it to its optimum.

Every other creature on the planet figured out the geometry of their body and how to use it to the fullest extent. Only human beings do not do that, because they are paying attention to everything except themselves. So the instructions in Isha Hatha Yoga are not new rules. If you pay attention to the geometry of your body, you will sit and stand in a particular way so that your body functions with minimum energy and maximum impact. The efficiency of physical existence depends on your understanding of the geometry. In other words, you are moving from social imitation to awareness.

If we remove all the furniture, you will discover the geometry of your body. The same applies to food. The human system is designed for a certain type of food. But in pursuit of survival, or because of cultural influences, people may have eaten all kind of things. Originally, if someone ate a slab of meat in certain parts of the world, it was for survival, not by choice. Maybe they could not grow anything there, or they did not know agriculture. Only later, it became a choice, or you could say part of their culture. If it is a question of survival, it is perfectly fine. It is not a moral issue. It is just that if you put the wrong fuel into the system, you cannot expect efficiency.

An Efficient Life

Efficiency is not just about doing one particular thing well. Once you have come as a human being, you have come with an intelligence to do whatever is needed out of you, and above all, to access the full depth and dimension of being human. To bring human life to its fruition, to utilize the possibility of doing a wide variety of things, above all to bring that level of sensitivity where you can experience every dimension of being human – if your diet, posture or mindset does not allow this to happen, I would say this is an inefficient life. Doing the right things is not about morality, a ticket to heaven or social approval. Doing the right things is about producing maximum results in one’s life. And different people approach it in different ways. But ultimately, unless you find out what laws life is governed by, you will not be as efficient as you could be.

If you pay attention and understand as to how the human system shaped itself and why, if you follow and are in tune with these laws, your system will function with the least amount of friction.

At first glance, falsehood seems to produce results too. It once happened, two cars crashed into each other. One was driven by a doctor, the other by a lawyer. After the crash, they crawled out of the cars. The lawyer pulled out a bottle of whiskey from his car and said, “This needs celebration. We had a major crash and both of us are not injured. Come on!” He handed over the bottle. The doctor was a little shaken by the accident, so he took a big long swig and gave the bottle back to the lawyer. The lawyer put it back in the car. The doctor asked, “Are you not drinking?” The lawyer said, “After the police are gone.”

Sometimes, tricks do work. But if you do these kinds of things on a regular basis, others will know what to do, and life will know what to do with you. If you are not in alignment with the laws that govern life, you will invariably get mauled by the process of life. For most people, no great disasters have happened in life. The outside may have been kind to them, but in the end, life is crushing them from inside. This happens for no other reason than lack of alignment with the laws that govern life. Consequently, there is friction. Because of friction within yourself, there is pain and suffering, anxiety, tension, stress, misery, madness – call it what you want. The amount of friction determines how long your face will become over time. If there is no friction, your face will be smiling.

All the possibilities that human beings have opened up are because of a certain framework of laws that nature functions by. Since it functioned the way it did, you became a human being. Had it functioned in another way, maybe you would have come as a bull or a tree.

If you pay attention and understand as to how the human system shaped itself and why, if you follow and are in tune with these laws, your system will function with the least amount of friction. If there is no friction, you will not be miserable or stressed out. You will not manufacture suffering on a daily basis. If you do not know how to align your system, at least you must lubricate it with Grace. Even if you have a beautiful machine, without the necessary lubricants, it will make ugly noises. This is where Grace comes in. Your machine is still not properly aligned, but Grace will make it free from friction.


3 Types of Yogis – Mandha, Madhyama, and Uttama.

July 11, 2019

6 min read

Summary: Yogis can be classified into three categories. Mandha Yogis - those who have experienced oneness, but are not able to keep it up all the time. His perception is not always the same. Madhyama Yogis - for them, the dimensions of the beyond are constantly in perception, but they are unable to manage the physical dimension in which they exist. Uttama Yogis - they are constantly in perception of the ultimate, and also perfectly in tune with the outside world.

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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org

3 Kinds of Yogis

Sadhguru: In certain schools of yoga, they classify yogis into three categories. These are referred to as mandha, madhyama, and uttama.

Mandha Yogis – On and Off Perception

Mandha means he has tasted what it means to be conscious. He has tasted the source of creation, he has known the oneness but is not able to keep it throughout the day. He needs to remind himself. When he is aware, he is there. When he is not aware, he loses that whole experience. This is not about being peaceful or being happy. This is being in a stage of nameless ecstasies. So, the first category of yogi has known it, but he has to be reminded or remind himself. Or in other words, his perception is not always the same.

When you are conscious and you perceive, from small things to big things, everything is there. If you are not conscious enough, when your perception goes down, they are not there. When your perception really goes down, let’s say when you fall asleep, you cannot even perceive the world. It has disappeared in your experience. So, similarly, the more subtle a certain aspect becomes, you need a higher or more conscious level of perception. Nobody can be effortfully conscious for twenty-four hours. If you are making an effort to be conscious, if you can manage it for a few seconds or minutes, it’s a big thing. Otherwise, it will go all over the place. So, the first stage of a yogi is called mandha. Mandha does not necessarily mean dull as people normally use the word; it is dullness of perception.

Madhyama Yogis – Neem Karoli Baba

The bodily functions, the worldly activity was completely absent in their consciousness.

The second category or stage of the yogi is called madhyama, which means medium. For him, the inner dimension and what is beyond is in constantly in perception, but he cannot manage what is here, the physical dimension. There have been various yogis who are worshipped even today, but they were absolutely incapable of anything in their life. At a certain phases of their life, they even had to be reminded to eat and go to the toilet. They were in a fantastic state within themselves, but they became like helpless infants, they became disconnected from the external.

One example is Neem Karoli Baba, who wouldn’t know that he has to go to the toilet. He would simply sit. Somebody would tell him “You have not gone for so many hours, you must go,” then he would go. The bodily functions, the worldly activity was completely absent in their consciousness. They are in a fantastic state, but however fantastic it is, you cannot remain in that state because when you are disconnected with the physical world, you cannot remain in the physical body.

Uttama Yogis – The Story of Guru Dattatreya

The third state of a yogi is constantly in perception of the ultimate, at the same time, he is perfectly in tune with the outside. To such an extent that you do not know whether he is really a yogi or not! One example of this was Dattatreya. People around him said he is the re-incarnation of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma at once. This is people’s way of expressing it. Because they saw that although he is in the human form, there is nothing human about him. This doesn’t mean he is inhuman, but he is definitely not human. So, when they saw such qualities, they could only compare him to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. They said he is the re-incarnation of all the three.

So, sometimes you will see Dattatreya’s images where he is depicted with three heads because he is considered as the re-incarnation of all the three.

Dattatreya lived a very enigmatic life. Even today, after a few hundred generations, the worshippers of Dattatreya are a powerful clan. You might have heard of Kanphats. Even today, they walk around with black dogs. Dattatreya always had dogs around him who were spotlessly black. If you have a dog at home, you know he is a little more perceptive than you. In smell, in hearing, in vision – he seems to be a little better than you. So, Dattatreya took the dog to a different level and he chose those dogs which were completely jet black. Even today, the Kanphats have these big dogs with them. They won’t let their dogs walk, they will carry them on their shoulders and walk because it was Dattatreya’s pet. So, they treat him very special. What he set up is still running and it is one of the largest clans of spiritual seekers.

Parashurama Goes Looking for a Guru

Parashurama was a great warrior sage from the Mahabharat times. In many ways, without participating in it, Parashurama decided the fate of Kurukshetra war. He fixed Karna in the very beginning. So, he had enormous capabilities, but his emotional volatility did not allow him to perceive the divine every moment of his life. He was off and on, off and on – bad weather most of the time.

When Parashurama could see beyond the wine and the woman and his drunkenness and still know that Dattatreya was constantly in touch with the divine, that moment became his opening.

So, he went to many, many gurus or teachers. When he found they did not have what he is looking for, he hacked them. Finally, he came towards Dattatreya. People told him “Dattatreya is your answer.” He came, with his axe still in hand. When he was coming towards Dattatreya’s place, many other spiritual seekers had gathered. They looked into his ashram and were running away!

When Parashurama walked in to Dattatreya’s abode, he saw a man who was sitting with a jug of wine on one lap and a young woman on his other lap. He just looked. Dattatreya looked drunk. Parashurama looked at him, put his axe down for the last time and prostrated himself. Everybody else left. The moment he prostrated, the jug of wine and the woman disappeared and Dattatreya was just sitting there with his dog at his feet. Parashurama found his salvation in Dattatreya.

Dattatreya is demonstrating that he can do anything in the world and still not be lost, and this was a demo for Parashurama, because he is a man of immense capabilities, but this capability is finding expression in anger, always finding a negative expression in a state of emotional volatility. So, Dattatreya employed a certain ploy, and when Parashurama could see beyond the wine and the woman and his drunkenness and still know that Dattatreya was constantly in touch with the divine, that moment became his opening. If only he had been that perceptive right through his life, a lot of people would have been spared the axe!


Is there a conflict between Yoga and Bhoga (material pleasures) ?

April 11, 2019

6 min read

Summary: Is it ok for a Yogi to do business, make money and enjoy material conveniences? Or is there a contradiction between Yoga and Bhoga? What does being a Spiritual person or a Yogi truly mean? Where does religion fit into spirituality and is Yoga linked to any particular religion? How does one enhances one's Life beyond physical possessions? Sadhguru and Baba Ramdev answer some of these topics in conversation with Prasoon Joshi during 'Rising India Summit 2019' .

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Rising India - In Conversation With Sadhguru And Baba Ramdev

Yoga and Bhoga – Conflict or Synergy?

Prasoon Joshi: Sadhguru, and specially Babaji, yoga and bhoga are understood as two different things. In common understanding, when we talk about yog, it seems as if there is an inward journey. You are lonely, there is sadhana there; there is a certain concept of yog.

Baba Ramdev: Very few people know the right definition of yoga and bhoga. Whatever resources one has in life, whatever kind of prosperity is there, our body, mind, sense organs – what is visible in the universe, this is called bhoga. Soul, Supreme Soul, peace, happiness – that which is not visible is called yoga. So yoga and bhoga are not in conflict at all. If we first establish ourselves in yoga and then do bhoga, and if it is rightly utilized, it will contribute towards the development of the nation. That is when a Rising India will happen.

Prasoon Joshi: Absolutely. You have explained this nicely. But there is a contradiction in people’s minds. When we look at Sadhguru, riding a bike, flying a plane, playing golf, mentoring CEOs or collaborating with CEOs of the companies… they don’t think these things could be a part of yoga. On the other hand, when they see Baba Ramdev… He is discussed as someone who has a strategic mind of how marketing should be done in today’s India, and he’s found an innovative way of doing it. And of course his company is a case study. Is there a contradiction between yoga and bhog?

Spirituality Is No Disability

Sadhguru: Well, certain people think, yoga, the spiritual process, or spirituality is some kind of disability. That is their understanding, unfortunately. If spirituality was a disability, we should ban it immediately. Why practice a disability? Spirituality is a way of empowering yourself in such a way that we can enhance life to a point where other people will think it is superhuman. Because as life, we have only two ingredients – there is time and there is energy. Time is rolling away for all of us at the same pace. It is only the energy we can manage.

Yoga is a way of mastering your energy in such a way that if you live for ten years, it looks like you have been here for hundred years – that is the amount of work and activity you did. If someone is not in yoga, in my understanding, they are not interested in life. They are waiting for death. They may not realize that consciously, but that is exactly the situation, because they are letting time go by without enhancing their energies. By accumulations your life is not enhanced. Maybe in other people’s eyes you are enhanced. But as a life you are in no way enhanced. Only by enhancing your energy, only by having mastery over your own system, do you have access and a purchase into this life.

Wherever I go, people are asking this question: “A yogi is doing business – is it alright?” Well, this is a rags to riches story [referring to Baba Ramdev], but still consciously he remains in rags. How many people can do this? We are missing the whole point. Sanyas means indiscriminate passion towards everything, but dispassion towards yourself. If you have dispassion towards everyone else, I think that’s a crime.

Spirituality – Only for a Privileged Few?

Prasoon Joshi: Another question which comes up is, is spirituality for the privileged class and dharm for masses? Do you think yoga should be linked with a religion, or should it be agnostic?

Sadhguru: This idea of a sectarian religion is an imported idea for us. In this culture, we had no religion, and we still do not have; we are only trying to pretend we have, but we are struggling with it. Because the fundamental definition and the requirement for you to be religious is, you must have a set of beliefs. Spiritual process means you are a seeker. The fundamental qualification to be a seeker is you have realized that you do not know a whole lot of things about life. If for whatever you do not know, you make up a story and believe in it, that is religion. That is not the nature of our nation. This nation is a land of seekers.

Even when so-called divine entities came, they could not give us commandments of any kind. All they got were questions. Shiva opens his mouth to his beloved wife, she freaks him with questions. Krishna, after many years of waiting with someone who is a very intimate friend [referring to Arjuna], at the edge of a battlefield, he tries to say something – that guy has a hundred questions. Who has been able to give a commandment and say, “This is it”? That is not our nation.

Ignorance as a Possibility

Sadhguru: Here, we are a land of seekers. We understand the intelligence of ignorance. We understand “I do not know” is the greatest possibility in our lives. The moment we see “I do not know,” the longing to know, the seeking to know, and the possibility of knowing becomes a living reality in our lives. But if you destroy “I do not know” with a set of belief systems, that is what you call religion.

You are talking about the rural areas or underprivileged people. If I go to remote villages, people don’t ask, “Give me a golden horse or something.” First thing they say is, “I want liberation.” Is this spiritual or religious? Just go to any village and talk to people. If someone looks like me, people will say, “We want mukti.” They want freedom from everything. They don’t want a ticket to heaven. They don’t want to go and sit in God’s lap. They don’t want pleasures up there. They want liberation. This is the spiritual process. The entire country is soaked in it. Now we are systematically trying to destroy this, unfortunately.

But the real ethos of this nation is we are a land of seekers. We must keep it that way, because in seeking, there is no conflict. Only in believing, there is conflict. The moment you believe one thing and I believe something else, we have already started conflict.

Baba Ramdev: See, in India, spirituality and religion are treated as one. The highest way to conduct one’s life is called dharma. In India, principles, highest ideals, and the highest values of life are looked upon as religion as well as spirituality. In other countries, when they translated it [dharma] to English, they called it religion and spirituality and it got distorted.


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