International Yoga Day 2022: The journey of the self towards the ONE

Based on the aptitude and inclination of the seeker different branches of Yoga appeal to various individuals.

Dr. S. AinavoluUpdated: Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 06:05 PM IST
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We are celebrating International Yoga Day and offering our gratitude to the vast branch of knowledge that offers us the methods of various healings, rejuvenation, and perfect health on way to a perfect life. Yoga is joining together, the merger of the self into the ONE. The journey of the self towards the ONE, ultimately finding no difference between the two, getting dissolved and absorbed into ONE is the essence. How one achieves the ONENESS state can be through different paths, and hence Yoga offers one many choices to approach the ONE goal.

The sublime truth is that as it is said that ‘yada gachhati sagaram’ – the droplets that fall anywhere may take any path but ultimately these reach ‘sagara’ (the sea). Similarly, the seekers may follow any and many of the available paths, and ultimately when their journey fructifies, shall reach their goal and ONE target. This goal and target is the assimilation of self into the ONE which is the realization of the ONENESS state. The one who reaches this stage and continues life on earth is called ‘Jeevanmukta’.

Based on the aptitude and inclination of the seeker different branches of Yoga appeal to various individuals. For the devotional-minded and one is looking at the GOD as the supreme and saviour, the Bhakti yoga offers the path of salvation. Here, one may assume one of the appropriate ‘Nava-vidha’ bhaktis suggested towards the lord and play the role intensely to the point of dissolution of self.

Here, one may choose ‘Dasya’ (of servitude) or ‘Sakha’ (consort) bhava and offer one’s respects to the lord. Bhakti yoga came to the fore since the appearance of Shri Shankaracharya who advocated ‘jnana bhakti’. Subsequent acharyas made samarpana, sharanagati, and prapatti as essential elements of Bhakti and set themselves as an example.

Jnana yoga is based on seeking knowledge and through this process realization. It is more intellectually focused and fits the seekers with such a capacity and inclination. Karma yoga is more action-focused. During the Vedic period itself, the subtle division between the Karma and Jnana method and means surfaced.

The earlier portions of Mantras and Brahmanas were more Karma-oriented. The extolling mantras were put to use through yagnya/havan for the achievement of desired goods and results (phala prapti). These portions were essentially Karma-centric. Latter portions of Vedas, the Aranyakas, and Upanishads were more jnana focused.

As Upanishads occurred at the end (anta) of Vedas, these were also called ‘Vedanta’. As Vedanta was concerned more with jnana, in lokachara (the practice of the world) any deep-thinking individual or one who offers logical arguments or contemplative frameworks was referred to as ‘Vedanti’.

Karma yogi seeks deep and involved work; offering and committing oneself to it and finally realizing through that very work. In other words, an individual loses herself/himself in the process of ‘doing’ work. The typical trinity of Karta/Karma/Kkriya or doer/being done on/the act of doing, all three merges into one, and only ONENESS remains then.

Such a situation is a blissful, awareness-filled moment. Here the awareness is full and in fact, the limited awareness of the ‘self’ as the body/ego/identity no longer exists. One at that moment becomes boundaryless. The pre-requisite for entering such an engagement is the nature of work that has to be ‘beyond individual bounds’.

One is not pursuing that work for selfish ends and a larger purpose is contemplated around the work is the basic expectation. The understanding required for this is simple; if one is a strong stakeholder who is highly concerned about the fruits of the action, naturally the whole attention shall be on the progress or intermediate milestones, etc. The doer losing oneself and merging into the work (and the object) doesn’t arise.

As long as the ‘phala’ (result) occupies the top of the mind, the commitment to the process becomes limited and even self-conscious. The comparisons, various metrics, and possible ‘slips’ start playing with a great pitch so that the possibility of ‘convergence of three’ viz. doer/object/work is lost.

From a Karma (action) point of view, engagement becomes easier for uninitiated people. Tarka or Mimamsa may be beyond bounds for most. It is more so as the original texts that are in Sanskrit may be out of the reading reach of most.

The translations serve as a poor substitute and the intellectual heaviness associated with both primary and secondary sources is difficult to overcome for most seekers. Bhakti yoga may appear as an easier approach comparatively. It is of surrendering one to the ONE and accepting whatever outcomes that appear on the way.

However, as one progresses on Bhakti marga various comparisons appear and one may slip instead of focusing on the original goal of ‘reaching’ the ONE. One is expected to become ‘humble’ through the Bhakti yoga, however when one avers and shouts loudly that ‘self is the most humble person around’, it becomes difficult for others to appreciate that ‘he/she who is claiming to be humble is really humble’!

Compared to the above discussed Jnana and Bhakti methods, given the current desha/ kala/ stiti (place/ times/ context), the Karma yoga offers easier chances of conducting oneself close to the target, reaching and realizing ONENESS. Whether it is a more routine or specialized task, if one devotes self deeply to the work, one becomes an instrument oneself. It is the excellence in the work that becomes one’s pursuit viz. one’s Yoga as it is said that ‘yoga karmasu kaushalam’.

The automatic way of steps ‘happening’ becomes the intellectual spiral of the Jnana yogi and the rhythmic beauty of the Bhakti yogi. Whatever the Karya-Karana sambandha, an individual aspiring to merge into the ONENESS state may better develop respect for the work (both for the object working on and about the process), master the time by ceasing to exist otherwise. The first of the stages is achieving the asana siddhi, of not moving away for three hours at least in a go, when one is ‘on work’. Three hours in one go! Third and the most important for the Karma yogi is losing the attachment with the outcome. It is very important.

If the outcome is the destination, and the handling process of the object is the journey, for the Karma yogi the ‘journey becomes destination’. Nothing but the ONE remains then and all original ‘ones’ are merged now into ONENESS. This is the ideal situation for all the seekers and hence let us re-commit ourselves on this International Yoga day to move towards the pure and pristine goal of becoming ONE.

Yoga day serves its purpose of aligning our energies and converging our commitments to better health and overall life at the micro-levels and a holistically rejuvenated Earth at the macro-level. When such a moment is reached, there shall be no concerns around the climate but only celebrations. Then we don’t seek Sustainability, but it shall be built into. Stay blessed.

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