Yoga Retreat

The Holistic Concept Of Antangayoga In  Yoga Upanishads And Selected Vainnava Agamas.

A dissertation Submitted by Venkata Ramana G.
M Sc. Student, SVYASA, Bangalore.

Abstract: This study was aimed to find out how the limbs of Antanga yoga, Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are presented in basic texts of Yoga Upanishad and also in Agamasastras. All the parts or limbs contribute to make the whole.

Each and every limb has a unique role to play in the constitution of the whole which can neither be replaced by some other external part nor by the extension of remaining parts. This is the uniqueness of Raja yoga and the eight limbs. Raja yoga provides an integral eight fold approach or eight limbs for the development of consciousness. These are like the limbs of the body and work together in various ways. Each has its proper role necessary for right development, though all are not of equal importance. Through the eight stages of Yoga, the aspirant develops understanding of his own self. He proceeds step by step from the known – his body – to the unknown. He proceeds from the outer envelope of the body – the skin – to the mind, from the mind towards the subtle aspects and lastly to the self.

Eight limbs of Yoga as there is plethora of non - traditional text but only one aspect of Antangayoga namely Asanas presents a distorted picture, hence, traditional basic yogic texts i.e., 20 Yoga Upanishads and Selected Vainnava Agamic texts are referred for findings. Out of 20 Yoga Upanishads, Ten Yoga Upanishads and Agamic texts, Padma Saahita, Ahirbudnya Saahita and Prasna Saahita clearly mentions of the importance and need of integrated approach of Antanga Yoga.


Summary & Conclusion: Yajnavalkya Smrti, Manu Smrti are elaborately described the eight limbs of Antanga yoga. There are many aspects of yoga which are not commonly known, many of which are understood and experienced principles of yoga have been outlined in the different Vedic and Upanishadic scriptures, as well as in the Tantrika traditions. Agamas are religious texts. They deal with a variety of topics connected with temple and worship routine. The agamas deal with the matter in four sections: Jnana, Kriya, Carya and Yoga Pada. This Yoga Pada deals with the yoga method of concentration on God. In this yoga pada we can find the references of Antanga yoga.

The eight angas of Yoga are described in more or less detail in several Puranas. Agnipuranai, Chap 214-215 and 372-76, Bhagavatapurana III, 28, Kurmapurana II. 11, Narasiahapurana 61(verses 3-13of which is quoted by Kalpataru, moksakanda PP. 194-195), Mastyapurana chapter 52, Markandeyapurana chap. 36-40 about 250 verses, many of which are quoted by Krtyakalpataru (on Mokna), Aparaka and others; Lingapurana I.8, Vayupurana Chapter 10-15, Vinnupurana VI. 7, Skandapurana Chapter 41 (P.No. 1455, History of Dharmasastra)

Yoga Upanishads which all promulgate a Vedantic type of yoga. These works are modeled on the earlier Upanishads but belonging, for the most part, to the post Patanjali era. They have not yet been critically studied. However they contain very important expositions of the yogic path. Out of twenty Yoga Upanishads ten Upanishads have described Antanga yoga and its approach.

Some many raise the objection that the limbs of Antanga yoga have been mentioned as six in other Sastras. Whatever might be the number, nobody can escape the means indicated in the eight angas.

The word `holistic’ is very fashionable now-a-days, and one often hears people speak of holistic approach. The word `holistic’ contains the word `whole’, which is the true meaning of `healthy’. When there is wholeness of body, mind and self, this wholeness becomes holy. Holy means divine, and without divinity one can not truly speak of holistic practice.

When a person connects the soul to the skin and the skin to the soul, when there is a tremendous communion between the cells of the body and the cells of the soul, then that is holistic or integrated practice, because the whole of the human system has been integrated into a single unit in which body, mind, intelligence, consciousness and soul come together.

Though tremendous advances have been made by science, medicine and psychology over many centuries, no one can define a frontier between body and mind or between mind and soul. They can not be separated. They are intermingled, interconnected, united. Where there is mind, there is body; where there is body, there is soul; where there is soul, there is mind. Yet our everyday experience is of a great separation between these three. When we are engaged in mental activity, we are no longer aware of the body. When we are involved with the body, we lose sight of the soul.

Antanga yoga is a way to move towards integration, but where does our initial state of disintegration come from? It comes from the afflictions of life: lack of knowledge, lack of understanding, pride, attachment, hatred, malice, jealousy. These are the causes which afflict us and bring physical, mental, emotional and spiritual diseases.

Patanjali goes on to analyze the causes of the disturbances of the mind and the lack of equilibrium in the body. All the eight limbs of Antanga yoga helps to come out of the obstacles.

By the practice of Yama and Niyama at the outset, the aspirant gets ethical training. Hatred, Jealousy and harshness of heart are removed. These are the knots in the mind by which the progress of aspirant is hindered. As one continues the practices and performs Asanas, he steadies his posture and gets complete control and mastery over his body. The practice of Pranayama helps to control the mind. Pratyahara helps to withdrawal of the senses from sensual objects, one gets strength and peace of mind. These all prerequisites graduate one for concentration and meditation leading to various states of Samadhi. Through the eight limbs of yoga, the aspirant develops understanding of his own self. He proceeds step by step from the known – his body – to the unknown. He proceeds from the outer envelope of the body – the skin – to the mind, from the mind towards the subtle aspects, and lastly to the self.

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Summary & Conclusion

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