Part 8- Yogasans: Means to achieve good health not Divine Bliss
The article states that while Yogasanas are prescribed as a means for attaining God, they should be practiced only to maintain a healthy body. Like other spiritual paths, path of Ashtang Yog also falls short in attaining the highest bliss of Divine Love.
Jagadguru Shri Kripaluji Maharaj has time and again glorified the greatness of the path of Bhakti Yog in all aspects and particularly the sweetness of bliss relished by its devotees. On the basis of the infallible knowledge of ancient Vedas and Scriptures, He has declared Bhakti Yog as the easiest and the most perfect way to reach God. While the other paths of spirituality like Karm-kand and Gyan Yog were recommended with best intentions to the people in different times and according to prevailing circumstances, these paths cannot help a soul experience the highest bliss of Divine Love. It is only by engaging in loving devotion to God and humbly rendering service to Him, can one experience that highest bliss in the universe. Shri Kripaluji Maharaj goes further in His kirtan “jo piya ruchi mahaṁ ruchi rākhē” and states:
jo yoga dūri kari rākhē, prēma rasa soī chakhē rē
Such a person, who stays away from the practice of the Ashtang Yog path, tastes the Bliss of Divine Love.
The word yog as used by Shri Maharajji must be understood in context, otherwise it could create confusion. In this kirtan, by yog He is referring to the Ashtang Yog philosophy. The Ashtang Yog spiritual path is one of destroying the mind.
(Patanjali Yog Darshan 1.2)
Maharishi Patanjali says in His ‘Yogadarshan’, “The aim of Yog is Chitta Vrtti Niridodh.” In other words, to stop thinking!
The principle is ‘stop thinking, stop thinking, stop thinking - make your mind empty’. Though this is excellent as it will lead to detachment from the world, it is also harmful because if the mind is destroyed, it will also destroy your Love for God. So, somebody on the path of Love does not want to stop thinking; he wants to think of God! He does not want to destroy the mind; he wants to make the mind Divine with the Love for God. Therefore Ashtang Yog dries up the mind, effectively drying up the soul. That is why someone who wants the Bliss of Divine Love keeps Ashtang Yog away.
Staying away from this Yog however does not mean that we stop practicing Yogasans or Yoga postures to keep the body healthy. Even Shri Kripaluji Maharaj at the age of ninety years practices Yogasans, thereby setting an example for us to sufficiently take care of our bodies in order to follow the path of spirituality. There is nothing wrong in practicing Yogasans and Pranayam as effective means of keeping the body healthy. These are the gifts of the ancient sages to us; they are gifts of that ancient civilization. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad Gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an Empire spoke to me!” His experience is that, when he reads the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Empire is speaking to him!
Similarly, ancient Sages practiced Yogasans in the forests and in the Himalayas, it is the art of keeping the body healthy to sustain a high level of spirituality. That gift is with us, and we can definitely embrace it. But we should not make that a means of Sadhana or spiritual practice. Our Sadhana is that of devotion, that of Divine Love.