The Hindu Roots of Yoga


One of the more unfortunate but widespread phenomena today with regard to Hinduism is that we now need to produce elaborate evidence for things accepted as evident truths just thirty or forty years ago. In other words, writing defenses instead of doing original, constructive work. Yet the devil must be given its due lest it unleash more mischief upon us.

I admit I was surprised by some of the responses I received for my piece about what I called the Yoga Disease. A common refrain in my comment space and elsewhere on the Internet is that Yoga is almost always equated to Asana, Pranayama, and meditation (Dhyana) and never as a separate system of philosophy. The glittering empires of most of the 5-star Yoga gurus today would instantly come crashing down if they acknowledged this because it would mean admitting that Yoga forms one of the Six Darshanas (or revelations or systems) of Hindu philosophical thought.

Yoga is Rooted in the Vedas

Like everything in Hinduism, Yoga has its roots in the Vedas. A cursory reading of the Vedas and the principal Upanishads shows the widespread usage of the word Yoga therein. It is used in different philosophical contexts, and conveys different meanings and it’s not as a one-size-fits-all theory as these Yoga gurus claim it is. In no particular order, the word Yoga is used liberally throughout the Rg, Yajur and Atharva Vedas, and the Aitareya, Katha, Mundaka, Mandukya, Brhadaranyaka, Chandogya, and the Mahanarayana Upanishads. These apart, there are about 50 Yogopanishads–Upanishads specifically dedicated to various aspects of Yoga like the Amritananda, Amritabindu, Yogatattva, Yogasikha, Pasupatabrahma, Hamsa, and Varaha Yogopanishads.

In the Vedas, Yoga is used in the sense of tapas (literally, “to burn” but it usually means intense penance). The Mahanarayana Upanishad, which has a separate section dedicated to Tapah Prashamsa (Glory of Penance) terms Tapas variously as rta (the Cosmic Order), truth, and self-restraint and upholds the importance and glory of Sanyasa Yoga or the Yoga of renunciation. Other principal Upanishads refer to Yoga in terms of Shravana (concentrated listening), Manana (revision, reflection), and Nidhidhyasana (intense contemplation on that which is learnt), all essential qualities that an aspirant of Vedanta should possess. The Katha Upanishad carries this celebrated verse, expounding the nature and aim of Yoga:

AtmAnam rathinam viddhi shareeram rathameva tu |
Buddhim to saarathim viddhi manah pragrahameva cha ||

The soul/Self is the charioteer, the body the chariot, the intellect the driver,
the mind the reins, and the senses are the horses||

The Mandukya, a short and terse Upanishad of just twelve verses, expounds on the meaning and nature of OM. It describes the states of Jagrat (wakeful), Swapna (dream), Sushupti (deep sleep), and Turiya (the Fourth state beyond deep sleep, the state of pure consciousness where only non-duality exists). The focus of this Upanishad on meditating upon OM in a way, forms some of the roots of Yoga Darshana. Similarly, we find a reference to Nadis in the Chandogya Upanishad, which says:

A hundred and one are the arteries of the heart, one of them leads up to the crown of the head. Going upward through that, one becomes immortal. (8.6.6)

The “crown of the head” mentioned here is the precursor of the widely ill-understood Kundalini Yoga. The whole of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is indeed, the exposition of the Moksha Yoga or the Yoga of Liberation. The Aitareya Brahmana mentions the Brahmarandhra, or the Gateway of Bliss located at the center of the skull, which again has a parallel with the Sahasrara Chakra found in Kundalini Yoga.

Yoga in Hindu Lore

Another definitive source that help us trace the foundations of Yoga is the mammoth Yoga Vasishta (The Yoga of Sage Vasishta) attributed to Sage Valmiki, author of the Ramayana. The Yoga Vasishta, dated earlier than Ramayana, is a conversation between Rama and Sage Vasishta and forms one of the main pillars of Hindu philosophy.

We don’t need a text other than the Bhagavad Gita to look for ample references to Yoga. Celebrated verses about Yoga include

Yogastah kuru karmani sangam tyaktva Dhananjaya… (Perform your duty/actions being steadfast in Yoga without getting attached to your actions, Arjuna)

Yogah karmasu kaushalam…(Yoga is doing things right)

Samatwam yoga uchyate… (Being balanced in both success and failure is Yoga)

These apart, the chapter on Dhyana Yoga (Yoga of Meditation) is a veritable guide on the aims, method, and goals of Yoga. In a way, the entire Bhagavad Gita is a treatise on Yoga.

Tracing it

The tedious, and cataloging kind of exercise so far was necessary to underscore a crucial point: that this vast range of literature of meditations on Yoga in a few thousand verses spread over several centuries occured before Patanjali systematized Yoga as an independent school of Hindu philosophy.

A distinctive mark of anything that can be called Hindu is its origins in the Vedas. The discussion so far proves beyond doubt that Yoga does possess this mark. More importantly, Patanjala Yoga doesn’t really deal with what modern day Yoga salesmen say it does–Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras do not have instructions to perform various Asanas and Pranayamas. More on that in a while.

There’s even more direct evidence as to the undeniable Hindu roots of Yoga as it is (mis)understood today. Sage Patanjali is worshipped as an avatar of Adishesha, the thousand-headed serpent upon whom Lord Vishnu reclines. Representations of Patanjali in pictures and sculptures show his lower body coiled like a snake. See an example below.


Now, if you argue that Adishesha is not connected with Hinduism….

Later day scholars, philosophers and saints of Hinduism interpreted Yoga Sutras in the light of Vedanta. Bhoja, Vignanabhikshu, Adi Shankara, Sadashiva Brahmendra and Ramana Maharshi are prominent examples.


Today’s Yoga Enterpreneurs, instead of being grateful to the religion, culture and land that enabled them to earn their mega bucks actually revel in dissociating with it and in denigrating it. As I’ve repeatedly said, they are gym and/or fitness instructors, not Yoga teachers. If they really taught Yoga, they wouldn’t have paid lipservice to the basic requirements imposed upon a practioner of Yoga: Yamas and Niyamas. Aside, I’m not sure how many of these snakeoil salesmen even tell their students about Yamas and Niyamas. It’s all about “meditation,” “vibrations,” “cosmic energy,” “quantum” nonsense, and “super consciousness.”

Yoga is deeper and learning it properly takes an entirely different spirit. Actually, you don’t really “learn” Yoga. You realize it. Like most other disciplines in Sanatana Dharma, Yoga needs to be learnt traditionally. Under a Guru who is himself a Yogi in the truest sense of the word. Most philosophical traditions including Yoga forbids a person to declare himself/herself a Guru. One of the basic qualities such a Guru possesses is Aparigraha (non-possession), one of the five Yamas (Abstinences) identified by Patanjali. Additionally, every Guru always recites the name of God, his parents, the ancient Rishis (Seers/Sages) and his own Guru at all times as a way of showing deep reverence and gratitude to the tradition and people that enabled him to become a Yogi. In a way, it is his way of repaying a debt, which you can never really repay. This in short is how Yoga (in the fullest sense of the word) is taught and learnt traditionally.

Now we need to take a count of the number of Yoga Peddlers who practice Aparigraha. Their Gurudom, and what they hawk as Yoga violates every known precept, tenet, and principle laid down by Patanjali and other sages. And the vilest yet is what Deepak Chopra did recently–spitting on the very religion that enabled him to build his swanky empire. People like him, Bikram-whatever, and the rest of the patent mongers are deserving candidates for this Sanskrit saying:

||KrthaGHnasya na Nishkrutih||

There is no atonement for the ungrateful

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35 comments for “The Hindu Roots of Yoga

  1. a.g.swamy
    February 26, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    yoga means ” union” with divinity or god. if you look in to kundalini yoga, in many hindu temples you can see ( for example in Srirangam the famous vishnu temple where lord vishnu is reclining on the coil bed of serpent adisesha over which on top of sanctum sanctorium there is a golden vimana of ” pranavam” the syllable of ” OM” the first sound – God sanctum is surrounded by totally seven prahara ( circular walls of total seven ) with 1000 pillars mandap seperately inside the temple on the rightern side. Does it not reflect – the concept of kundalini yoga of dormant serpent at moola dhara, ( moolavar graha ) with total 7 chakras ( including moola dhara) and finally on the 7th chakra , 1000 lotus petals nadis convergent on crown head known as ” sahasra padma tala chakra “Supreme god vishnu created the world out of maha kundalini and gave the balance equally to all the human bodies. Those who realise him ( sakthi reaching shiva, the pure consciousness will get brahma Gnanam – attains enlightment ) .

    Hence yoga is purely vedic science which was also mentioned in bhagvat gita by lord krishna before
    5300 ago prior to nastik religion of buddhism and jainism where there is no goal to reach god while sanatana dharma has set a goal to all jeevamas to reach parmathma. Yoga is one among the method to get salvation of kaivalya moksha – enjoying the soul itself from outisde the vicinity of gods kingdom vaikuntam.

  2. June 14, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Here without diacritics:

    Dear Sandeep,

    Do you know of any text that includes yoga among the six dar”sanas prior to the 12th-century Sarvasiddhaantasa.mgraha? I don’t. I believe it is only because of the then new vedantic doctrine that yoga was necessary in addition to jñaana in order to achieve that it came to be included among the dar”sanas.

    Where in the Vedas do you find yoga with the same meaning as it has in the Yogasuutras? The word itself may occur, but then usually in the sense of a chariot “yoke”, and not to mean meditation etc.

    Yours, with best wishes,


    PS @ Kolkata – the earliest reference to a non-seated aasana that I have come across is in the c. 10th-century Vimaanaarcanaakalpa, which teaches mayuuraasana. The earliest depictions of such aasanas are on the early 16th-century praakaara wall of the Mallikaarjuna temple at “Srii”sailam.

  3. March 19, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    The essence of Hinduism is such that it doesn’t discriminate against other religions and customs but assimilates the best of everything within its own. I suppose it’s the only religion in the world that doesn’t treat non Hindus as evil.

    I don’t agree with this Take Back Yoga philosophy. The very essence of Hinduism is to give then what is this Take Back all about?

  4. March 1, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    Are there any ancient texts/ paintings or idols that have reference to the Yoga asanas?

  5. Santhip
    December 4, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    First of all Sandeep.. Thank you for this blog.. For the research you did, and for stating up front the facts of the origins of Yoga in Hinduism. Thank you.

    You have done the right thing by pointing out the facts of the matter. And there was nothing wrong with tone of the blog in pointing out the facts. If anyone sees otherwise, its their problem in facing the facts of the matter.

    I have been to a yoga session here, conducted by one of the teachers. I have also learned yoga from India, under the Patanjali Yoga school. The first feeling in one of the sessions here is that this was merely a stretching exercise, and that there was no element of meditation or breathing exercises involved. It was just sad to know that. I stopped attending any of the yoga sessions here after that. It didn’t feel complete, and never felt the same way I felt in India under the Patanjali School.

    Though unrelated to this topic, I would like to say that you do not need to “know” the vedas to experience nirvikalpa Samadhi. Vedas are only meant to act as a guide in the end, to prepare you for the actual experience of nirvikalpa samadhi, which happens by the grace of the universe. You are best however to have a guru to guide you rather than go at it alone without any knowledge of how to attain the actual experience. In this day and age, it is not easy to distinguish between fraud gurus and the real one, and I consider myself fortunate to have access to a satguru. Gurus need not be “Indian”. The best qualification for guru is realization. So if a guru is realized, then there won’t be any fear in saying the truth as it is, and there would be a genuine concern for the welfare of students, and wouldn’t be behind the students for money. They would have nothing to hide, and would be fully transparent. They would walk their talk. And they wouldn’t be interested in having you as a student, as it is your loss to gain guidance from them. And yeah.. none of the gurus would want to make out with you the way Nityananda did.

    I wish to thank you for this blog again. I will reference this blog to whoever raises the question of hindu connection with yoga again. :) :) Take care bro

  6. November 28, 2010 at 7:09 AM

    Yet another piece on the Yoga debate:

    People please make comments if possible.

  7. November 13, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    Raging debate in comments thread of Rajiv Malhotra’s erudite post on the incompatibility of the Hindu practice and philosophy of Yoga with Christianity given the fundamental, irrefutable and exclusive Christian doctrine of Nicene Creed.
    Not surprisingly some have made desperate attempts to decouple Yoga from Hinduism using sundry self-confuting polemics and mendacious tripe. One Aadil Palkhivala, a philosophical profiteer quite in the mold of Deepak Chopra (aptly deconstructed by Sandeep;😉 was brutally taken apart by many after throwing in his asinine views in a sorry, fraudulent attempt to portray Yoga as disparate from Hinduism. Speaking of Chopra, his “Yoga teacher”, Tara Stiles made a post ( continuing along expected lines of the ongoing concerted dishonest attempts to fallaciously define Yoga as independent of Hinduism. It has become a part of the business model of these philosophical profiteers to deceitfully redefine Hinduism by separating the ritualistic aspects of the Hindu canon from the spiritual. Which of course, they can then package and sell to a new market, essentially consisting of people who are not already actively “practicing” the Hindu (Sanatana Dharma) way of life. This no doubt also serves the adherents of exclusivist ideologies for their inculturation projects in their totalitarian quest for harvests. Not to mention assuaging those worried about thinning of the flock due to the immense popularity of Yoga.

  8. Sunil K. Aggarwal
    June 21, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    Joshua project of certain christian communities/institutions and probably state funded is indeed a great effort to convert people and breeds around the world to Christianity by some influence and not through pure conviction. Hinduism stands apart as never any suggestions have been made to anyone to convert to Hinduism. Our government is largely ignorant of the Vedic treasures and now the likes of Kapil’s extrovert looking policies is putting India on the back burner.

  9. Rashmi
    June 19, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    It is worth mentioning what our anciient Rishis have said on qualities of true guru. Though this is lengthy but surely everybody will be benefitted by reading this.Today flood of fake gurus for whom all this is money making business has spoiled and demeaned our eternal culture. But our ignorance has been the main reason, so we have worldly wqualified ut spiritually unqualified Deepak chopra, Swami nithyananada of bangalore and many more such instant gurus.It takes years of yoga abhayas to achieve samadhi and know eternal truths.Nityananda bhagwaan of ganeshpuri have said about such souls as “Jnanis are mindless. To Jnanis, all are the same. They have no slumber, no dreams, nor sleep. They are always in sleep. The sun and the moon are the same to them. To them, it is always sunrise. The glass of a chimney lamp, when covered with carbon, is not transparent. Similarly, the carbon of the mind should be removed.A perfect man is not subject to anger.
    One cannot be a Sanyasi by external signs if he is internally a hypocrite. What you think, you must speak. What you speak, you must show by your acts. Do what you say. Say what you do. Such a man is a Jnani. He is a Paramahansa. He is a Yogi. He is a Sanyasi. One who has conquered desire is a true Sanyasi. Only a desireless man is fit to be a spiritual teacher.”

    Lets read our self and get acquainted with thetruth , Qualities of true saints by swami Ramswarup:
    In Shatpath Brahmin Granth 3/7/3/10, written by Yask Muni it is said, “VIDWANS HI DEVAHA” i.e., he who is learned of Vedas, he is called Dev. Yajurveda mantra 40/3 says, “ASURYA NAAM TE LOKAHA ANDHEN TAMSA VRITAHA___”means on taking birth a child is called “Manushya” i.e., mankind. If he learns Vedas, does pious deeds and discharges his moral duties well, according to Vedas then he becomes Dev. Otherwise Asur i.e., devil (demon) , one who kills the pure voice of soul and does sins. In Van Parv of Mahabharat Yaksh asked question to Yudhisthar, “KAH NASTIKAH” i.e., who is called atheist? Yudhisthar answers, he who is against and insults Vedas he is atheist (Manusmriti 2/11 also refers). So there are two kinds of men/women according to Yajurveda mantra quoted above. One, “DEV” and second “DEVIL”. So our birth is to become Dev.

    Rig-Veda mantra 10/181/1 says that in the beginning of the creation, God always originates the knowledge of four Vedas in the heart of four Rishis, then the said four Rishis spread it further and until now the eternal knowledge of Vedas is being received traditionally. The names of those four Rishis are — Agni, Vaayu, Aditya, Angira, as also mentioned in Rig Veda mantra 10/109/1 and Manusmriti shlok 1/23. This truth is also mentioned in Bhagwad Geeta wherein shlok 3/15 says that Vedas emanate from Almighty God and in shlok 13/4 Shri Krishna says that the knowledge of soul and body is very well mentioned in four Vedas and the Rishis have described the same by many methods. In Atharvaveda mantra 2/35/1& 4 it is preached that Rishis spread the knowledge of holy Yagya (Yajna) to the people to kill their sorrows and Rishis are those, “MANTRADRISHTA ITI RISHIHI” i.e., those who have studied Vedas and Ashtang Yog practice and then realized Almighty God and seen Ved mantras in their heart, they are called Rishis. So the knowledge of the Vedas, as per Rig-Veda mantras quoted above, is given by God Himself to the Rishis and it is eternal truth and cannot be changed that is why in Yog shastra sutra, Rishi Patanjali says, “SA ESH PURVESAHM API GURUHU”. So, next to God is Rishi.

    God did not give the knowledge to the present saints. In Vedas, the name of the learned are mentioned as Rishis, Muni, Vipra, Dwij, Agni etc., and not saints. To be next to God it is necessary to have full knowledge of Vedas and Ashtang yoga, as per the rules quoted above.

    To know that what is true and what is false, proof is required. Yog shastra in sutra 1/7 says about four proofs within which proof of Vedas to determine the truth is compulsory. However, it makes no difference that if a present saint has learnt four Vedas, done ashtang yoga practice mentioned in Vedas and realized Vedas and God, then he is also next to God. If one declares his name Rishi or Brahamchari and does not know Vedas and yoga philosophy, then he is liar and cheating the public because in Shanti Parv of Mahabharat also Bhisham Pitamaha says to Yudhisthar that there are two kinds of Braham (though God is one). First, “Shabad Braham” i.e., knowledge of four Vedas, second “Par Braham” the realization of formless God Who creates, nurses and destroys the universe. So he who does not know Braham even Shabad Braham – Vedas, then how can he write himself as brahamrishi? Naturally he is cheating the public because most of the public does not know about Vedas and the arrogant (the saints who are against Vedas) have spread false knowledge about Vedas, Yajna and yoga philosophy.

    That is why, Manusmriti 2/168 says that the saint/Guru/Dwij who does not know Vedas but studies false books, he, in his present life goes downwards i.e., experiences sorrows, sufferings etc, etc., with his followers, i.e., their followers also go down and experience the said difficulties etc., but nowadays it is also spread that God takes examination of a worshipper but such type of examinations have not been mentioned in Vedas. And Ramayana also says about such false saints – VARAN DHARAM NAHIN ASHRAMCHARI, SHRUTI VIRODH RAT SAB NAR NARI. Tulsidasji says that at present men and women here have become against the eternal knowledge of Vedas. Again Tulsidasji says in Uttrakand DWIJ SHRUTI BECHAK BHOOP PRAJSAN, KAU NAHIN MAN NIGAM ANUSASAN, i.e., at present mostly the people do not accept the knowledge of Vedas, present saints Gurus have sold the Vedas i.e., they do not know the ABCD about the Vedas.

    Again in Shatpath Brahmin Granth 1/7/5/3 it is said that he who studies complete knowledge of Vedas and holy books, puts the preachings thereof into action/conduct and there after preaches others, he is called a Rishi. It is a well-known fact that ancient Rishis used to live in a lonely place/jungle in Gurukuls/Ashram where the students used to get knowledge traditionally, the same process too was adopted by Shri Krishna, Sudama, Shri Ram and their public. It was the effect of Ved mantras on them and the effect of practising Ashtang yoga philosophy, that they used to lead simple way of life without any luxury etc. Whereas nowadays the current saints (against the Vedas) mostly live in bigger cities where way of earning is obtained. The Rishis used to bless the people according to Ved mantra to be the richest and having all comforts in the family etc., whereas now most of the present saints say that money will do nothing, family will do nothing, house will do nothing, cars and clothes will do nothing and they themselves take lot of money and enjoy luxuries.

    The Rishis were free from illness/tension etc., Shwetashwaropnishad 2/12 and 13 says about this fact. So is it not clear that keeping the fact and proof of ved mantra and the said upnishad in mind, those are not rishi-muni etc., who are suffering from multi-farious diseases, tension etc., and too lack the knowledge of four Vedas and Ashtang yoga philosophy mentioned in Vedas.

    Study of Mahabharat, holy granth and Valmiki Ramayan reveals that usually the ancient Rishis, who lived in gurukul or in jungle used to go to the kingdom on invitation only. (Valmiki Ramayan Bal Kand sarg 7 also refers). So it is not fair to send disciples door to door to collect money and to arrange maximum gathering/crowd. The Rishis like Vyas Muni etc., used to go mostly on foot and alone to anywhere (Mahabharat says) but now the present saints/Gurus go in a fleet of cars/groups with body guards etc., etc.

    The Rishis themselves had simple living without luxury etc., but with their blessings they made people the richest whereas most of the present saints have become the richest with all luxury, gathering money/donation etc., from even poor people and public seems to be poor.

    In Brihadarnayk Upnishad there is a debate (shastrarth) between Bal Brahamcharini Gargi and Rishi Yagvalkya. This debate was organized by King Janak. The winner of debate was to be given 500 cows, gold-plated on horns. When Rishi Yagvalkya ordered his disciples to take the cows then King Janak interrupted and requested the Rishi that these cows are meant for him who will win the debate with my supreme Acharya Gargi. King asked the Rishi whether he (Rishi) is Brahamrishi. Yagvalkya Rishi answered, O! King there was shortage of milk in my Gurukul to my students and that is why I wanted to take the cows. But if you want to ask something I am ready. There was a debate and Rishi won and got cows. This story tells that all Rishis used to ask for donation when they needed whereas present saints even having become multimillionaires through donation, ask for more money.

    In Upnishad king Janshruti met with Rishi Rakya in lonely place sitting on sand under the shadow of Bullock cart. Whereas present saints meet people sitting on highly decorated and valuable throne. Rishi Jadbharat was sitting alone in a jungle on the earth. When he was asked to carry the palanquin (palki) putting one side on his shoulder, then he immediately became ready without any pride and walked on foot. Mostly now this cannot be repeated.

    There are maximum examples of the ancient Rishis who were Tapsvi, lovers of truth, who are adorable.

  10. Rashmi
    June 19, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    Today we indians ourselves esp hindus do not Know who is trually a Guru, what vedas and our ancient Rishis have said on this matter, whom to contact to know about God. Lord Krishna in Gita in a state of samadhi himself says out of millions only one really knows me (means God, not krishna), such a yogi is a rishi. I would quote from vedas a divine light part IV – by Swami ramswarup on Guru so that our ignorance is removed.
    Vedas tell several divine qualities of Guru. First of all he must be the learned of Vedas and Ashtang yoga philosophy. He must have control over his five senses, perceptions and mind. Guru means he who preaches but as far as spiritualism is concerned, there remains only one guru but still preaches or good talk can be heard and collected from anywhere, if it is based on Vedic knowledge. You see, Sri Ram had one guru named Guru Vasishth. But he listened to preach of Rishi Vishwamitra, Agastya Rishi and others as well. So, in spiritualism there remains only one guru from whom disciple takes deeksha and is called dwij.
    Yajurveda mantra 31/7 and several other Ved mantras say that God has preached His worship in Vedas. But now a day’s most of the worships are against Vedas, as also said by Tulsidasji in his Ramayana couplet 99 (b). In the ancient times up to Mahabharat period too there were only Vedas to be adopted and worship in the form of prayer, Yajna and Ashtang yoga etc., was being practised. The ancient Rishis Munis used to give Vedas knowledge only. They lived in Gurukul in a very simple life holding unlimited knowledge of Vedas and yoga philosophy and by their Tapsya they used to give equal blessings to the world.

    These Rishis Munis used to sit on one platform with whole hearted happiness. For example in Valmiki Ramayana when Rishi Vishwamitr went to King Dashrath to take Shri Ram to kill the demons to protect his holy Yajna. Then Dashrath immediately refused but Dashrath’s Guru Vashisth Muni interrupted, explained and gave order to king Dashrath to give Shri Ram to Rishi Vishwamitr. I am not giving the detailed story here. So what was the reason behind? The reason behind was only this, that Rishi Vishwamitr as well as Guru Vashisth both were philosophers of Vedas, Yajna and Yoga philosophy. So there was no friction within their hearts. A mother and father both, without any friction, love their newly born baby. So when all Rishis loved only one Almighty God, from whom Vedas are originated and again the Rishis loved Vedas, so no question of friction. The Rishis used to bless all people and even kings with the result everybody was happy at that time and everybody was rich with the blessings. Now it is reverse.
    The so-called Gurus are rich and most of the people are poor. In Hinduism too there are so many Devtas and thus the different types of worship. Now whatever one Guru says another one criticizes because ways are different and in reality the religion has been made profession by most of the so-called Gurus at present. When target is not true and good then how the above story of donating Shri Ram can be repeated and how all Gurus can sit on one platform. When the target is profession and not services of people through Vedas then it is impossible that so called Gurus can sit on one platform. The so-called Gurus can say at their own that their target is one but on ground it seems not to be a true. All the so-called Gurus have made their own several ashrams to command etc.
    God has made universe and blessed us human body to do pious deeds only. He has not made any heaven or hell. All have to face the result of their deeds good or bad here only, even by taking rebirth. God has not only made universe but has also given knowledge of four Vedas.

  11. parthaSarathy
    June 17, 2010 at 12:55 AM
  12. baddimaga
    June 16, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    how about writing an article about bhopal gas tragedy caused by indian judiciary , instead of pining over roots of yoga (trying to provoke)

  13. Gyan
    June 16, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Sorry for the above. Some mistake in giving the link. The link is as follows-

  14. Gyan
    June 16, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    I invite Sandeep and all regular readers of this blog to comment on the comments by the author of the following blog on Caste system in Hinduism on the following link-

    The basic assertion of the author is that no religion except Christianity preaches equality. He cites caste system as a proof that Hinduism is not equal for all.

  15. Mod Prakash
    June 13, 2010 at 7:11 PM

    Patanjali defines Yoga as
    ???? ????? ?????? ??????
    yoga is removal ( ??????) of everything which is bad ( ??????) in our self (?????)
    Patanjali further defines a logical step wise method to attain this and calls that as Astanga Yoga which has eight stages. All the eight stages are meant to remove the ?????? of ?????. First three stages ( yama, niyama and aasana) are meant to make a health body through a disciplined approach of habit and physical exercise. The next two (pranayama and pratyahar) are meant to discipline the mind and develop a focus in thought process. The last three ( dhyana, Dharna Samadhi ) are meant to absolve your Self completely of the ?????? of ?????. Yoga considers your own ego as one of the major ills of your own self and the eight fold path helps one get a complete understanding of ones ego and therefore get rid of its ill effect.

    Now, anyone who can attain this will attain the great goal of yoga – which is sat chitta ananda. If a Christian meditates and chants the name of Christ, there is no reason why he will not also attain the same goal as compared to a Hindu who chants Rama-Rama or Krishna-Krishna. After all Valmiki started chanting “mara mara” and attained Samadhi.

    Having said that, a Christian has to have the “Dharna” on the absolute infinititude of Christ and he should be willing to surrender his own self to that infinititude. Samadhi is a state which one attains and it is completely wrong to say that only Hindus can attain the state of Samadhi or Only Hindus have attained Samadhi till now. Great men all over the world have attained the state of Samadhi and have named it differently because Samadhi is the state where you realise ( “Darshan”) the ultimate truth which is same. Our Upanishads agree that
    ??? ???? ?????? ????? ?????? (one truth and scholars say differently)

    Talking about the Yoga Marketing shops who preach Aerobic type of Yoga and things like Christian Yoga, they are meant for an audience which is not in a position to understand the philosophical meaning of excersise. Westerners can not believe that these asanas are the steps towards God and similar to the prayers that they do in Church. This concept is alien to them. Let them enjoy the Christian yoga and few learned among them will put effort to understand the meaning of the rest of it. After all you have Englsh Chicken Tikka and Chicken Curry filling in Jacket Potato sold in all Welcome Break eataways in UK.

  16. Rashmi Sahu
    June 13, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    Sandeep ,

    Show me a simple person in west who has achieved Nirvikalpa samadhi Like Sai baba, Swami Samarath, Adi Shankara, Swami ramswarup, Nityananda Bhagwaan, Rammana maharishi, Paramhansa yogananda etc. Single westerners comes and debate on What is truth, because as regards science the outcome of all scientific experiments is one, so all sages i.e Rishis have Quoted prsent and ancient one that Vedas are Divine Voice of God, the Knowledge originate in the heart of practitioner of Yoga. Why after invention of christanity and islam did Gajanan maharaj only emphasise that the knowleldge of vedas is for salvation of human beings(note not hindus exclusively), Swami Ramswarup of vedamandir says i have experienced truth only in veda, vedas are divine voice of god, the only way to know God is intense yoga and veda sadhana like ancient rishis ; Nityanada bhagwaan ganeshpuri has even said in Chidaksha Gita, there is no liberation without yoga, vedas have sprung from a source when praan meets apaan( when you achieve nirvikalpa samadhi). Why all these they do not say bible is truth or Quran is truth. Why after achieving samadhi they all have said vedas are the voice of God.

    Like in India shamelessly i have observed christians and muslims use all hindu traditions and customs and call themselves Christians and muslims without acknowledging its root to be sanatan dharma be it wearing of mangalsutra, small ring in foot fingers called bichiya, filling of red color kumkum iin partings etc, muslims All christians wear mangal sutra. In kerala the synonomus of mangal sutra is goldchain with tali, christians just put cross.My maid, a christian even put bindi without understanding its deeper meaning. So is the case of christian west good at cheating and exploitation and claiming everything as their own. Few christian ashrams in Haridwar ever say shivlinga worship belong to christanity, infact it is churchanity not christanity. See the lies. Infact if Jesus came to india becoz as per vedas every body should go to a rishi and get second birth i.e become dwij, get again initiated into this sacred knowledge, art of spiritual Growth. For almost two months i was travelling in various states of india in this course i have changed the opinion of five people about India, i gave references of all western scholars and great scientist. Infact while travelling from chennai to banagalore i met a aged lady with a US settled daughters, all three of her daughters settled in US, she was all GAGA about Us she could not debate with me, she had no arguments atlast she said even ramakrishna paramahansa said culture of India is Great. At first she started with india is bad life is not secure too much casteism is there etc. I asked where is life secure, my previous boos’s son was shot dead in US, I quoted australia, i explained to her what is casteis, , how britishers and missionaries with indian politicians exploited it for punitive gains.
    No body can achieve samadhi without paying obeisance to all Rishis b’coz they propagated the knowledge through their tapasya and ralisation, this is called Rishi Rinn in vedas, which itself is a yajen. I have gone to Aurovindo ashram in pondicherry today there everything is mother only without any respect or paying traditional obeisance to a Guru.No reference to vedas whereas aurovindo talked only of vedas. Now the maitrayi mandir talks of religion less/boundary less world, whereas aurovindo talked of sanatan dharma only.True a westerner will understand the depths of a Grace of a Guru or a rishi, they will never understand Guru sishya Parampara.

  17. kaangeya
    June 9, 2010 at 10:04 PM


    I have little to add to the thrust of argument, more power to your pen. But please reconsider the use of terms such as worship, pray, and even God, given that these terms mean something very specifically Abrahamic. Also don’t you think that the categorization of Hindu philosophy as Shatdarshanas is itself from one school of the later Nyaya? Ananda Coomaraswamy would disagree with any such categorization as he maintains that these arise only from crises. Further it can be said that there are at least three strains of Yoga, the earliest Hindu yoga, followed by the Buddhist and Jaina yoga. These are three very different perspectives that were debated, elaborated in the same language – Sanskrit. Dharmic tradition is not about finding common ground but by using disagreement to gain deeper insights.

    Among the many modern yoga frauds I would also club the likes of AC Prabhupada and Iskcon that at one time categorically stated they were not Hindus. To this day the order remains hidebound (although they make delicious prasadam) and produces some of the most cringeworthy effeminate murtis of Krishna.

  18. kk
    June 9, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    tooooo much of arguments and discussions about yoga and no practice. To know what yoga was or is please each one of you out there LEARN and PRACTICE.

  19. June 7, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    This is a very good article.The Bhagavatam quotes that “compassion in itself is a form of delusion of the ego”, the ego satisfy itself thinking that i am helping so many people realise their true self but what actually Happens is moulding everyone who is listening or reading – into shaping their mind like mudpies according to one’s fancy. this is what the new age guru’s do. What people like swami vivekananda did was entirely different from what these new age guru’S DO. vivekananda did not merely talk to the west. He had reached the highest truth through years of abstinence, austurities and meditation. He infused spiritual power who ever went to him. These new age guru’s use only words and intellect to stir everyone’s mind which goes round and round as a cycle without depth in it. All these talks are for marketing their books and other courses. most of the age old traditional ashrams in india don’t charge any money at all,may be ( rs 10) as participating fee. What they expect is patience, sincerity, devotion to practice the VEDIC IDEALS. go to gita press or any other traditional book publishers. All their books on wisdom and knowledge, no matter even if it is six volumes or a single book with thousands of pages will cost 150 rupees or 250. The idea behind is to make sure it is available to anyone or everyone who is interested to learn. But , look at the new age gurus and how much they charge for their course and so also their books. Maybe their is , of course an element of truth in what they say but the foundation of their spiritual empire rests not on any value or principle but on money and money alone and that should be condemned in every way and if they try to delineate yoga from hinduism . . . . . . I can only say that people are so deluded to know the truth for themselves.

  20. kadambari
    June 6, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    Well Hindus themselves are to blame often for what you have written about. I recall this man from Bihar who has developed a new kind of yoga where you sweat a lot (the room is kept artifically hot so people sweat during the gymnastics he calls yoga). It became popular in the USA. My friend recalls this man during an interview with gold rings on his fingers boasting how much $$ he had made. Nothing wrong with making a success of yourself in business, many people gravitate to yoga to help them in gymnastics and are not interested in much beyond that…
    The question is more how the “real” yoga is to be made appealing to people and how it can distinguish itself and appear “cool” …Today mass culture is guided by those with money and power, and often in terms of culture those people are interested in making a buck out of ingorant people by giving them trash in terms of culture and what sells for a quick buck to enrich themselves from the stupidity of the masses who buy into their garbage…so the yoga phenomenon is just a degradation of a serious practise when it has been usurped by people who want to make a quick buck from it…But it does not hinder the serious practitioners to continue to contribute to it, keep the tradition alive and gain followers.

  21. vijayashankar
    June 5, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    only comment I can think of on your writeup is a qutation ” truthcan influence a handful of people but falsehood will drag millions by their neck”.

  22. June 5, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    Truly, what is practiced in Yoga studios in the west is no different than stretching or aerobics or pilates, to name a few. Yoga without its spiritual dharmic import is not Yoga. A “Yoga instructor” in a “Bikram Yoga” studio has acquired the nickname of Yoga Nazi ( How can this be Yoga!!! Philosophical profiteers like DC and BC are a disgrace. As Sandeep so aptly put it, there is no atonement for the ungrateful.

    With the age of direct colonial rule gone, cultural appropriation, and academic cartel based insidious denigration under the veneer of scholarship, are the tools for new age imperialism. Not to forget the purpose it serves in laying the groundwork to facilitate harvests. The “my-way-or-the-highway”, “holier-than-thou” supremacists are of course well aided in this crusade for souls by the ever ready sepoy army of comrades, and philosophical profiteers. Truely, Jaichand, Shiladi etc. of yore might be dead, but their modern day incarnations are alive and kicking.

  23. June 5, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    Excellent Article.

    To understand the critical side of marketing and politicalization of Yoga and Pranayam following may be the help readings :

    Politics in Pranayam. The atmosphere of anti-Indian-ness cannot be solved in adjustment devoid of Hindu Rashtravad. Part-I & II
    Posted on March 20, 2010
    The confidence and constraints of Baba Ramdev. Politics of Pranayam towards a Ramrajya by Ramdev. by Upananda Brahmachari Part-I published on March 18, 2010 and Part-II on March 20, 2010 At first I bow down to Baba alike crores of other believers who believe “only Baba can change any situation in India”. In this changing […]

    Read the rest of this post…

    Posted in Hindu Existence, Hindu Movements, Hindu Politics, Hindu Struggle, Hindu World, Save Hinduism | 5 Comments »


  24. Shashi
    June 4, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Just to make you happy, here is introduction to Yoga in Prof. Edwin Byrant’s translation on Patanjali’s Yoga sutra. He properly places Yoga within the hindu tradition and how it is mentioned in the vedas but probperly evolves in the upanishad texts and how it is not just physical exercise.

  25. Sandeep
    June 4, 2010 at 2:12 AM

    For the Nth time, I don’t intend to convince anyone or gain followers or whatever. Also for the Nth time, I care naught for tone. I’d rather read and appreciate an acidic piece that has substance and insight than read a oh-so-polite-and-refined piece full of crap. Separate the wheat from the chaff, etc.

    >>and possibly make ignorant people—the ones to be educated—unwilling to look at the forbidding/”too deep”/”too difficult” ‘real Yoga’ that you represent.
    Which is precisely why I said in my earlier post on this subject, that Yoga is NOT for everyone. I’m all for these peddlers teaching them asanas, etc but don’t call it Yoga. How hard is that to understand? Don’t you see the kind of muck that they’ve created by first calling it Yoga and THEN dissociating it from Hinduism? Going by your logic, we need to shut our eyes to this and similar fraud/misrepresentation/assault. You don’t seem to find a serious issue in THEIR fraud. But when I call their bluff you find that I’m spreading negativity. Truly mind boggling.

  26. ano
    June 4, 2010 at 1:59 AM

    >> In that case, doesn’t it only make sense to show them that these Yoga sellers are defrauding them? Are you saying that we don’t need to call the bluff of a quack who claims he’s actually a genuine doctor?

    With a tone like this, you’ll convince no one, and possibly make ignorant people—the ones to be educated—unwilling to look at the forbidding/”too deep”/”too difficult” ‘real Yoga’ that you represent. 😛 Besides, in a village without a doctor, the quack can still sometimes be better than nothing.

    >> It’s interesting how of all things in this post, you detect only negativity.
    Because everything else is obviously true. I could pointlessly agree and applaud (and really, I do, I admire your efforts over the years and everything you’ve done, and even the act of writing this post, my comments weren’t personal), but surely the truth is eternal and you don’t want to gain credit from it. :-)

  27. Sandeep
    June 4, 2010 at 1:44 AM

    >>What I’m questioning is whether anything is to be gained by simply expressing outrage — and even whether it is not harmful for us to do so in the first place.
    You see outrage where I intended to set the record straight.

    >>Yoga-sellers are able to get away with it is that for most people in the west, they know of no better authentic sources.
    In that case, doesn’t it only make sense to show them that these Yoga sellers are defrauding them? Are you saying that we don’t need to call the bluff of a quack who claims he’s actually a genuine doctor?

    >>what do you think you’ll achieve with this post?
    Forget what I will or not achieve with this post but if you must know, I don’t intend to “achieve” anything. Calling a spade a spade doesn’t need to really achieve anything. It is an end in itself.

    >>Negativity is repellent in itself, no matter what direction it is pointed in.
    It’s interesting how of all things in this post, you detect only negativity.

  28. ano
    June 4, 2010 at 1:34 AM

    No I obviously don’t condone them, and they are clearly wrong. What I’m questioning is whether anything is to be gained by simply expressing outrage — and even whether it is not harmful for us to do so in the first place.

    Outrage has been the preferred method of Hindu activists, but it doesn’t serve the cause — it manages to preach only to your followers and alienates everyone else. (Read this ignorant but characteristic anti-Hindutva paper.) And I can see this in the comments of your previous post on Yoga, so needlessly hostile and serving no purpose except applause from your admirers and an excuse for everyone else to dismiss everything you say as “fundamentalist”. What we need is to encourage positive efforts, support those who are upholding dharma, and make sure the ideas get the dissemination they deserve. It is a losing battle to keep trying to knock down everyone else. (Without offering something better oneself.)

    Remember that the only reason these Yoga-sellers are able to get away with it is that for most people in the west, they know of no better authentic sources. We don’t have the equivalent of Swami Vivekananda in the world today, who will speak up authoritatively for the Hindu tradition. It’s only natural that when there is a hole in the “marketplace of ideas”, someone will fill it. Marketing is not the traditional Hindu way, but it is the way the world works today and it is the Hindu way to adapt to circumstances — Vivekananda recognized this and did not shy away from giving speeches to audiences. If you distrusting everyone who gets popular, good or bad, you’re only causing harm.

    Besides, as I said, you cannot generalize to all “Yoga-entrepreneurs” and tar everyone with the same brush. Different teachers acknowledge the Hindu roots to varying degrees, and if you adopt an extreme position that only perfection is acceptable even from the start, you won’t find it. (All the Yoga “schools” popular today stem from the great Yoga teacher Krishnamacharya, read the article and tell me if you think he’s a charlatan! Most of his direct disciples pay proper respects where it is due, and make clear the goals of yoga—starting with yama, niyama—their further disciples less, and so on, but this is all only natural.) Even if physical fitness is not the goal of yoga, it helps many people, and I don’t see why we should deny it to them.

    Even the part you called “vomit-worthy” in the previous post (“The use of this service mark is reserved for use by non-profit organizations comprised of students and friends of BKS Iyengar who…”) seems perfectly sensible to me — a lot of people with no knowledge start using a popular name (even if you agree he is not “perfect” by your standards, you surely realise there are worse), and something must be done to prevent their harm.

    Forget all the above. Just answer this: what do you think you’ll achieve with this post?
    Negativity is repellent in itself, no matter what direction it is pointed in.

  29. Sandeep
    June 4, 2010 at 12:44 AM


    Seriously? Do you condone plagiarism/misappropriation/embezzlement?

  30. ano
    June 3, 2010 at 11:29 PM

    I don’t see the point of this post, really.

    Of course Yoga is Hindu (though not entirely “in the Vedas” — a lot of it has also come from actual experience of practitioners/yogis and accumulated wisdom of centuries), and of course when marketing it to the West some people find it useful to deny this, and human nature being what it is, also appropriate credit for themselves. Is this worth belabouring?

    Further, despite the obvious “wrong” that some people are doing, what, constructively, is to be gained by getting worked up about it? (It is also true that the modern marketers have increased interest in Yoga, even within India, and some of those who are serious and unsatisfied with the superficial stuff find their way to the real roots, so some net good is done. If you listen to even Westerners who have studied with “famous” instructors like BKS Iyengar or Pattabhi Jois for many years, you’ll see they do deeply know yoga is not merely gym/fitness, and pursue the spiritual goals just as intended.)

    Humanity has an innate ability for absorbing nonsense, and there are worse things for the world than “superficial Yoga”.

  31. June 3, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    Very nice Article…..

    I really wonder to see so many people who feel ashame to call themselves ‘Hindu’.
    The Yoga peddlers do not want to disclose the Hindu(sanatana dharma) roots of Yoga. They do not use it because they fear that it would reduce their business brand value. Similarly most of the people who go to foreign lands to spread the Hindu(Bharatiya) philosophies hide the Hindu(sanatana dharma) origins of the philosophy. They create such a feeling that they themselves invented the Yoga and try to get entire credit for themselves instead of attributing it to the tradition. It is only ego which made them do such kind of acts.

    I came across several people who try to cover their acts by saying that ‘Hindu’ is a foreign word and there is no such thing as ‘hindu’. But surprisingly they are not even comfortable with the word ‘Sanatana Dharma’. They should realise the fact that ‘Hindu’ is a name given by others to the ‘Sanatana dharma’ just like greeks gave the name ‘christ’ to ‘Jesus messaiah’. I never saw any christian who refused to identify himself as ‘Christian’ and wanted to adopt the name ‘Messaiaian’ instead of ‘christian’.

    ‘Name’ is something which is given by others. For examle, Deepak Chopra did not have a name plate bearing the words ‘DEEPAK CHOPRA’ in his neck at the time of his birth. But other people started addressing him as ‘Deepak chopra’. Soon it became his identity. Similarly, Jesus never heared the Greek word ‘Christ’ but still the followes of Jesus proudly claim themselves as ‘Christians’.

    The Yoga peddlers should respect the tradition. They should stop blowing their own trumpet and ascribe their knowledge to the tradition of Gurus. A True Hindu should mention his Guru Parampara. He should not try to take entire credit to themselves. They should humbly say that this is what they have heard/learnt from their Gurus. Our Upanishad/Vedic sages followed the same principle. They never claimed their knowledge as their own. They attributed it to the tradition.

    Sadashiva Samarambam, Shankaracharya madhyamam.
    Asmadacharya paryantam, Vande Guru paramparam ||

  32. Kris
    June 3, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    Very Nice Article.But the author fails to mention Maha Yogi, Lord Shiva himself who is the foremost exponent of YOGA

  33. Prashanth K.P.
    June 3, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    Brilliant! This, if understood by the so called Yoga gurus, should put to rest claimants who are marketing Yoga as their very own ancestry with a blot of “white” contribution and particularly nothing to do with Hinduism. Earlier, recent and current self proclaimed yogic gurus could well humble themselves with guilt at reading this eye opener. The half scientific principles they preach and teach would I reckon bring more damage than benefits to disciples. There is no better way to put these patent mongers to rest that with your conclusion “there is no atonement for the ungratefuul”! Absolutely correct! Thanks for the wonderful insight.

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