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The Hindu Roots of Yoga

The Hindu Roots of Yoga 

Within Hinduism there are six major schools of thought: Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, Vendanta, and Yoga. Each one is inspired by the holy Vedas and other Hindu concepts.

Yoga, from the Sanskrit word 'yuj' means to unite. It is usually described in Hindu texts as a way to control the senses and the mind. The most famous Hindu text describing yoga is the Bhavad Ghita, which dates all the way back to the 6th - 3rd centuries BCE. In it, Krishna describes 4 types of yoga:

  • Bakti, or devotion

  • Jnana, or knowledge

  • Karma, or action,

  • Dhyana, or concentration.

Achieving Moksha 

The ultimate goal of each is to achieve Moksha, or unity with God and escape from the cycle of birth and death. No single person is born saved, though the Divine resides within all people. All people, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, have the ability to achieve Moksha. Moksha can be attainted through a person's actions, words, and thoughts, as they advance spiritually in accordance with dharma, or righteousness. One of the most important clarifications within the Bhagavad Gita, is that yoga is an individual journey that requires lifelong dedication, consistent practice, and devotion to God.


2.14 "Just as a mirror shines brightly after it has been cleaned, so does the yogi who has realized the true nature of his soul becomes integrated as one in his body, attains sense of fulfillment and remains free from sorrow."

 - The Svetasvatara Upanishad, 600 - 500 BCE


2.15 "Through the real nature of his own soul, as if by a lamp held on the nature of Brahman, when he sees, his own real nature as one who is unborn and completely pure, He is freed from all the fetters at once."

- The Svetasvatara Upanishad, 600 - 500 BCE


"Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind."

- Yoga Sutras 1.2


“Each student may take in one or the other of them as his main path, according to his subjective mental temperament. However, each intelligent student shall discover for himself that whatever be his main path, the other[s] cannot be totally eliminated from his program of self-evolution”

- Swami Chinmayananda


Written by Rachel Ferullo

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