Nature of Yoga
India is well known throughout the world for its invaluable heritage and culture. Yoga is the most significant contribution of Indian sages to the mankind. Liberation from sorrows is the ultimate goal of Indian philosophy. Yoga is the inimitable path to achieve this goal.
The word “yoga” is derived from Sanskrit word “yug” which means union. Yoga is capable of having a wide range of physical, mental and spiritual impacts on a person by controlling the body, mind, senses and soul. The physical effect of yoga on body is found through the physical workouts called “asanas”. These asanas tone up every part of the body leaving it fit and healthy. Pranayama is a form of yoga that has mental effect on a person. It coordinates inhalation and exhalation and thus regulates respiration. Pranayama contributes immensely for the spiritual progress of a person. It controls the wavering nature of mind and attunes a person to stop longing for materialistic pleasures and finally achieve salvation. Lord Krishna in Bhagavath Geetha said – “योगः कर्मसु कौसलम” which means doing your duty or work with utmost perfection is called yoga. It also means that only Yoga can bring in the absolute proficiency in a work.
Origins of Yoga
Although the Yoga Sutras proposed by Patanjali form the foremost basis for Yoga, he is not considered the originator of Yoga. As per the opinions of many scholars, there are historical evidences which proved that Yoga existed long before Patanjali did. Indian sages believe in Yoga Yajnavalkya according to which Hiranyagarbha is mentioned as the originator of Yoga. However no literature of Yoga written by Hiranyagarbha were ever found in history. Hence the mankind is invariably indebited to Patanjali for his compilations of this ancient science. However, the literature about Yoga that is found before the era of Patanjali is called as Hiranyagarbha Yoga Darshan as it was originated by him. Most of the ancient yoga literature which is taught in Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata and other puranas was actually derived from it.
Hiranyagarbha and Kapil
In accordance to our Vedas, Upanishads and Mahabharat, Samkhya was taught by Kapil while Yoga was taught by Hiranyagarbha. Lord Krishna in Mahabharat, in Shanti Parva , reveals that both Kapil and Hiranyagarbha were his own incarnations who came to teach the world about these wonderful sciences. And the Yoga shastra was first taught by him in the form of Hiranyagarbha to Visvasvan. Hence Hiranyagarbha and Kapil are not two different entities, but both are the forms of Lord Krishna himself.
“कपिलोग्राज इति पुरानवचनात कपिलो हिरन्यगार्भोह वा व्यपदिश्यते” – (श्वेता उप. शंकर भाष्य)
Bhagwan Shri Shankaracharya and Vachaspathi Mishra also mentioned that Kapil and Hiranyagarbha were the Masters of Sankhya and Yoga. According to them, Sankhya and Yoga were not two different subjects, but both were theoretical and practical aspects of single philosophy. Both these shastras teach that the nature and spirit form the basis for the existence of this universe.