Heartfulness proposes meditation on the heart with an aim of attaining subtler levels of consciousness. The heart is not merely a pump for blood circulation – its role goes far beyond that. References in ancient Indian literature on Yoga, especially that from Sages like Patanjali,…
by Mayank Raj Saxena, Life Member
Yoga can be said to have originated at the very dawn of the civilization thousands of years ago. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, which means ‘to unite’. Yoga leads to self-realization while helping the individual overcome all sufferings making them achieve moksha.
The Pre-Vedic Era
In this period the knowledge was orally passed on and as a result most of the yogic techniques were lost during this period and the origins of this ancient science became mired in obscurity.
The Vedic Era
The Vedic period saw the four seminal texts come into being-
• Rig Veda
• Yajur Veda
• Sama Veda
• Atharva Veda
The great Maharishi Ved Vyasa (Rishi Badarayana) collated and classified the Vedas for the good of mankind and wrote the Brahma Sutras for the quick and easy understanding of the Vedas; he also wrote the Mahabharata to enable Common people to grasp the highest knowledge in the easiest way. Yoga during this period was expressed by the Vedic rishis, who were Ascetics, by conducting rituals and yajnas and the general populace Participated in a variety of ways to benefit from the healing vibrations Generated thereof.
The Pre-Classical Era
The Pre-Classical Period is considered to be the most fertile and Prominent period in the history and development of yoga. During this period, the Upanishads and Bhagawad Gita were scripted. Yoga had now crossed over from the realm of rituals to the knowledge of the Self; from the outer world to the world within. References to yoga and yogic techniques can be found in several Upanishads. In the pivotal text the Bhagawad Gita, Lord Krishna spoke not only to Arjuna but to all of humankind. It expounded the concept of Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga and Karma yoga as ways to reach the Supreme.
The Classical Era
The highlight of the Classical era is Maharishi Patanjali’s Yogasutras. Besides containing various aspects of yoga, Patanjali describes Eight-Fold Path of yoga, which is devised to take a sincere seeker towards liberation. Ved Vyasa also compiled a very important commentary on the Yoga sutras called the Yog Bhashya. This period witnessed the move towards the mastery of the Mind, which was clearly elucidated through yogic practices.
The Post-Classical Era
This era strengthened the already existing paths of yoga. Many texts that exist today were drafted during this era. Jnana yoga held its sway with the teachings of the great Acharyas Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhavacharya and Nimbarka. Bhakti yoga also came to the fore with the teachings of Suradasa, Tulasidasa, Purandardasa and Mirabai.Hatha yoga also found its expression in the Post classical era fromaround 800 A.D. – 1700 A.D. The Natha yogis like Matsyendaranatha, Gorakshanatha, Chauranginatha, Swatmaram Suri, Gheranda, Srinivasa Bhattacharya are some of the great Hatha yogis who popularized the Hatha yoga practices during this period.
The Modern Era
Yogacharyas Ramana Maharishi, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Paramahansa Yogananda, Vivekananda etc. dominated the Modern Era and contributed whole heartedly towards the development of Raja yoga. This was the period when Vedanta, Bhakti yoga & Hatha yoga flourished further. Now in the contemporary times, the general populace is looking at yoga with renewed respect and as an option for promoting and maintaining health. Yoga has reached the furthest corners of the world through the teachings of great personalities like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Shivananda, Swami Kuvalayananda, Shri T.Krishnamacharya, Shri Yogendara, Acharya Rajaneesh, Swami Rama, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, Swami Satyananda Sarasvati, Shri BKS. Iyengar, Shri T.K.V Desikachar, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and many others. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar established Sri Sri Yoga. In 1982, Gurudev entered a ten- day period of silence in Shimoga located in the Indian state of Karnataka. The Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique, was born. With time, the Sudarshan Kriya became the core of The Art of Living courses around the world.