31 July - 6 Aug 2015 #769

Union with the universe

Why are we interested in yoga only after it is ‘discovered’ by the West?
Shristhi Shrestha

Yoga means the union of self with the universe, and in the true sense is the dissolution of plurality into a singular medium of existence: a voyage into the void where everything we think we are, transforms into nothingness.

Yoga is this unity of self with nothingness, the medium to initiate oneself into the world of ecstatic trance where matter dissolves into energy and becomes one with the greater truth of existentialism. Such a transition from material illusion to a state of pure ‘shunya’ or nothingness takes an immense amount of ‘sadhana’ or dedication under the guidance of a guru or a master.

My guru is Adiyogi, the first yogi -- the outcast and the leader of the tribe, Shiva. He passed his knowledge to the seven rishis (Saptarishis) who were dedicated and patient enough to wait to be finally granted the secrets of yogic philosophy and enlightenment. Asanas, meditation, mantras, dance and mudras are the vehicles within yoga as a medium to unite with the divine. Through these Saptarishis, yoga diffused to other parts of the world. What we have in the subcontinent are the teachings of Agastya Muni, who introduced yoga not only as a philosophy and teaching but as life itself.

These were handed down from one generation to the next through the culture of ‘guru shishya’ or master student. India, Nepal and Tibet have helped create a universal society for people from all over the world to be part of the school of yoga.

New age yoga teachers have highlighted the benefits of yoga by stressing freedom from ailments and mental handicap caused by an unbalanced materialistic lifestyle. Yoga is now a household name as more and more people from different age groups and backgrounds practice it, but very few are progressing into the next realm through kundalini yoga. It is a pity that this great teaching has been so commercialised.

As Yoga globalises, it is worrying that the real essence of the practice may be eroded. Teachers from various parts of the world are taking classes. In Nepal, we are losing our grasp on the roots of Yoga even though it commenced from our land. Very few Yoga teachers are studying the beautiful teachings from the Vedas and Patanjali that has the potential of changing the course of human civilisation. There are no workshops held by Nepali teachers, and I have met very few who can hold me in conversation about Adiyogi and the soul of yoga. Does it have to be that we are interested in yoga only when it has been ‘discovered’ by the western world?

In the land of Lord Pashupatinath, the lord of the lords and the ultimate Yoga guru, the place of the unity of Shiva and Shakti -- this is where the ultimate unison of masculine and feminine energies within ourselves should be a priceless revelation felt by all.

Perhaps some of those who adopted Yoga as an exercise will finally some day evolve towards its essence not only as a form of mental and physical progression, but also as much more ascetic and universal sense of being. We can look forward to the day when yoga will not only be limited to studios and classes, but taken in as a lifestyle consumed with love, wellbeing and the ultimate knowledge.

We should be proud of our roots and the embodiment of secret teachings from the past. We should be aware of what we are practicing and recognise it as the worship of one’s body, soul and existence in its true sense. In the journey of self discovery, if one finds the true master or becomes one, it enriches the surrounding with the seeds of higher understanding.

If you fail to find the guru outside yourself, close your eyes and you will find within you the ultimate Adi Guru who will take you down the path of self discovery through the medium of Yoga: towards divine unity, the core revelation of Yoga.  

Read also:

The Vipassana way, Roop Jyoti

All in the mind, Anjana Rajbhandary

Bend but don’t break, Tsering Dolker Gurung

Bending over backwards, Marcus Benigno

It’s all in the mind, Shreya Mukherjee