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Now a days the word “Yoga” is well known by almost everyone, because some of its limbs are well explored and advertised also. There is nothing wrong in it. Let’s understand what does Yoga means by looking the different texts.

The word “Yoga” that we all know, came from the Sanskrit word “YOG”. So it’s not YOYA.

It generally means "addition" (association of two or more than two things like 2+2=4).

The word “Yog”, derived from the Sanskrit verb root “Yuj”, has three meanings:

  1. Yujir-yojan means “to unite” or “to join” or “to add” or “integration” or “to associate”,

  2. Yuj-sanyamane means “to control” or “to keep under control” or “to restrain”, and

  3. Yuj-samadhau that means “samadhi”.

These all above meanings are taken with the word Yog but Sage Vyasa simply says:

Yogah Samadhi.

Means Yog (is only) "Samadhi". Here, Sage Vyasa ji is using the word Samadhi as a synonym of Yog.

Means Yog is Samadhi or Samadhi is Yog.

There are many different words used for the samadhi in different texts. These are moksha, kaivalya, Nirvana, Laya, amaratwa, Shunya, Nirankar, self-realization, spiritual absorption...etc. These all are the finality of Yog.

Many of enlightened Yogis and some texts accepted Yog in the sense of union.

I think that’s appears very much correct.

If we consider “yoga is union” then question arises, union of what?

So here union means "union of self with the universal self." Or union of Atman (soul, jiva) with Paramatman (God) Or, the union with the eternal source of bliss and Ananda

Apart from all above meanings of yoga, whatever other “sadhan” (or mediums, ways, instruments) are used to attain the Goal (Samadhi) or any sadhan that helps to go close to the Samadhi, is also considered yog.

Sadhan means: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharna, Dhyana, Mudras, Bandhas, Kriyas, Mantra, Nada, Bhakti, Kundalini, Tantra, Hatha,... etc.

These all sadhan are also considered yoga, although sadhan is different from Sadhya, which means goal (Samadhi).

Example: if I need to go to Delhi from Rishikesh, I would have few Sadhan (mediums, ways) to reach at Delhi (Delhi is Sadhya). Like: can go by plane, car, bus, bike, bicycle or on foot...etc.

Here, in reality, Delhi (sadhya, the goal) is Yoga but the medium or Madhyam or Sadhan (plane, car, bus...) is also considered as a Yoga.

Although, grossly it doesn’t appear correct because “Goal” and “the medium to reach at the goal” can’t be the same. But, on the way of Samadhi, all the previous limbs before Samadhi, are considered as a yoga because the practice of all these limbs brings closer to the final state of Samadhi.

For more understanding, we can look the Chapter’s names of Bhagavad Geeta.

Each chapter’s name ends with the word Yog. Example: Arjuna-Vishad yog, karma yog, Dhyana yog, Bhakti yog,…

In Bhagavad Geeta, whenever the word yog comes with another word, then the word yog is always considered as a sadhan (medium) not the Sadhya (goal or Samadhi). Same with many others examples like: Astang Yog, Hatha Yog, Raj yoga, kundalini yoga, kriya yoga, Nada yoga, Tantra yoga...etc. Here Yog is the medium, the way to Samadhi.

Whenever the word yoga comes alone, its meaning will always be the same:

  • Union of jeevatma (individual self) and Paramatma (universal self),

  • Control and regulation,

  • Samadhi, and

  • Dhukh- viyog. (Bhagavad Geeta)

Some Definitions:

Patanjali Yogasutra 1/2:

Yogah chitta­vritti nirodhah.

  • Cessation of movements or fluctuations or modification of the consciousness (mind-field) is Yoga. Or

  • Complete suspension of the activities of the mind (mind-field) is yoga.

Bhagavad Geeta: Shloka 6/23:

Tam vidyad dukha-samyoga viyogam yoga-samjnitam.

  • In the 6th chapter of Bhagavad Geeta, Lord Krishna is telling “viyoga” of “Dukha-sanyoga” is yoga. That means staying away from the union of "self with the cause of suffering". Here, Yoga is told as “Disassociation”. It appears opposite of union/association. But actually, “Disassociation” and “association” both go together. They are not contradictory. The more we disassociate ourselves from the negative things or external objects, the more close association get with the sources of inner self. In the finality, yogis attain same stage; the union with ultimate source of inner joy and bliss.

Sloka- 2/48

Samantham yoga Uchchyate.

  • In this sloka, lord Krishna is telling “Remain balance in the opposites, is Yoga”. Like in profits and losses, victory and defeat...etc.

Here, equanimity or balance is considered Yoga.

Sloka- 2/50

Yogah Karmasu Kaushlam.

  • (Getting ability) to do good deeds is yoga. Good deeds means avoiding the Tamasic and Rajasik actions. That is necessary to cultivate the Sattva quality for higher spiritual practices.

Later on, the detachment with the fruits of good deeds (no expectation of the results from the good karma). This definition connects the practice of Patanjali’s limbs with the Yamas and Niyamas.

Why shouldn’t I practice directly Samadhi?

All the previous limbs of Ashtanga Yog are for purifying and to get control over the body, pranas, mind, senses, intellect, feelings, emotions...... etc.

We should establish control over all these above mentioned.

But, in reality these instruments or mediums (body, mind...) are regulating and controlling us.

Therefore, we oftenly find ourselves helpless in front of the body, mind, emotions...

We have to go through the practice of all limbs sequentially Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayamas, bandhas,... that will make us eligible for higher Sadhanas, means for profound meditation and later on Samadhi. The practice of one limb of yoga actually prepares the ground for the next (higher) limb.

All limbs are equally important. Remember the finality of yoga, that’s Samadhi.

Hari 🕉!!! 🙏


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