Read this interesting article submitted by Mr. Roshan Kumar fro Trichur, Kerala, India

Spirituality - Ritual to Romance

Yama - the First Step!



In eastern spirituality Yoga has been translated to mean various things in a variety of contexts. In a study of the higher reaches of human consciousness the term means concentration – a state we commonly refer as Focus in the current times. Although the treatment of the various steps in the Ashtaanga Yoga can take volumes by themselves the present attempt is to reassure that conscious unbiased spiritual practice will certainly turn you into a better candidate (in the least) for success!

It is the lack of conscious living that has brought upon us a lot of the confusion that prevails the study of yoga in its essence. The word instantly brings pictures of distorted shapes, regimes and rigours. It is better to de-condition the mind consciously from the start in order that we may arrive at the essential truths without the hurdles and obstacles raised by myths and sources of knowledge without experience.

The question 'how is knowledge possible without experience or inversely how can mere experience be construed as knowledge' has chased human thought since ages. A key differentiator between Western and Eastern thought streams, the anomaly can find reasonable resolution by a study of Ashtaanga Yoga. Ever considered by many as easy as instant 'nirvana' but still evading many, Yoga has to be studied and studied again in the light of the wisdom of the ages since the masters the chief of whom is Patanjali. Little is known about Sanatkumara and Jaigishavya who many attribute as the first recipients of the coveted experience of the Yogas. But whole generations of wisdom have come down to us as treatises and aphorisms large enough to urge and motivate the knowledge-hungry (jijnasoo) to prod the quest till destination.

What is Yama (the first 'a' as in yum) the first of the eight organs of the spiritual program?

The word means restraint. The question who restraints what comes to mind immediately. Let us understand the two concepts of prakrti and purusha. While prakrti can be initially understood as all nature surrounding us – external nature as well as the emotions they evoke in us, purusha is to be understood as that being who gets influenced by the objects – on whom the prakrti echoes its influences.

The essential challenge in spirituality is to objectively cognize the two, find how they interact in our lives, and finally how to achieve 'kaivalya' or that state of liberation which makes one worthy to be called a Yogi. Yama itself is a set of self recognized rules pertaining to how one may react or act in respect to external surroundings or 'bahiranga'. Never to be regimented one has to accept the restraints naturally. Regimentation leads to restrictions and connote torture. Naturally this means that the pleasant experience of the destination that is Kaivalya cannot be reached if unpleasant experiences accompany the traveler along the way!

The name Yama also means 'control' in Hindu puranas. Yama is the lord of death. Although death is not defined as a finite event, it is Yama who controls the fulcrum as it were, of the passage of karma from one life to the next. Euphemistically enough, the connection clarifies the need to exercise all that is karmically correct in our conscious existence if one is to mark progress. See the union (yoga) between the ruler and the rule!

Though in the semantic sense, such unions or syntheses can be seen throughout the Eastern texts and thought. But the impact such 'gathering' (coming together) of concepts lends beauty and credence to the experience. Knowing every step of the route in total consciousness does contribute minutely to the quest of the overall venture. The author clarifies again that this study is meant only as a door to the great highway that leads to a pleasant destination. While inviting everyone to enjoy the journey without the shackles of assumed notions or dogma, let us say, enjoy the journey! We go on to Niyama, the next 'amga' or organ in the next issue. Click here to read the leader to this article.

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