American Veda

This past weekend a good friend of mine was traveling through Pune promoting his book, American Veda. I arranged for him to meet Guruji.shri-bks-iyengar-and-philip-goldberg

By way of introduction, the pranams were abundant, as they should be, between two illustrious people. Philip Goldberg has authored nineteen books, the most recent being American Veda. They met for twenty minutes on Saturday, November 30. Guruji was well dressed in a silk kurta, as he waited for his driver to escort him to receive an award later in the afternoon.

Phil: Yoga has become popular all over the world..

BKS: But of course because mental afflictions are the same everywhere.

Guruji noted that many people consider meditation to be separate from yoga. This refrain has been Guruji’s bane for years. People who see only his asana practice label Iyengar yoga as physical yoga. He quoted the 1st sutra of the 2nd pada:

Tapah svadhyaya Isvarapranidhanani kriyayogah II.1

He went on to explain that yoga is a composite of Tapas, purity of the body and Svadyaya, purity of the mind. Both together naturally cultivate Bhakti, Isvarapranidhanani.

“People say that yoga and meditation are different / separate. How can you have meditation without the body? Are you to say that when you are completely concentrated within the body, is this not meditation?” To those of us close to him, we have heard this many times. My experience is that this state may be less accessible for beginners, but for those of us who have practiced for years, the sense of attention, awareness, and presence is a deep state of integration of body, breath and mind. Prashant refers to this state as the embodiment.

As samyama implies integration, Guruji explained, bahir samyama is asana, pranayama and pratiyahara. These are the external limbs of integration. Antara (internal) samyama is the classic synthesis the Yoga Sutras in the third chapter, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.

Philip mentioned that yoga has become very popular in America, and as a result it has become very commercial. Guruji noted that anything that is popular in America goes all over the world. We (Phil/Lisa) mentioned that with this commercialization yoga has become very diluted. Guruji surprised us and said not to worry, that this is not a problem. Where it is commercial, people will want to make money, and they can make money.

He suggested that there are different levels of commitment in yoga.  Just as it says in the Gita, there is the Sudra (service, often in a household), Vaisyas (business people), Kshatriyas (protectors, warrior class), Brahmins (teachers, highest class), so too, these classes exist in the society of yoga. Some will pursue the subject sincerely and take it to its zenith. (commentary LW: A common metaphor for this system is to compare it to the body: The Brahmans, with their knowledge to direct society, can be compared to the head, eyes, and brain of the social body; kshatriyas, who offer protection, are the arms; the vaishyas, who support society, are the stomach; and the shudras are the legs). Each is an essential part of the whole.



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