Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Seventeen Theory

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’ by the University Press of America,
a transcript of recordings of a one month Yoga Programme in Colgate University in 1976, published in 1980.

Unlike the later redacted edition, re-published in 1995 as the ‘Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’, it captures the evolution of the retreat with the days lectures and Q & A dialogues as they alternated between ‘lectures on the principles and purposes of Yoga and discussions related to the practice of Yoga with special reference to the postures and the breathing techniques’.

TKV Desikachar, in his forward to the original version wrote:

“These lectures and discussions, printed words put before persons I might never meet,
are but reflections of that deeper result that grew out of a living face-to-face encounter.
Coming to learn of Yoga only through reading leaves much to be desired.
Yet, something worthwhile about Yoga might be shared through the medium of the printed word.”

A chapter by chapter Study guide is offered below with added verse and word cross-references where possible to support a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter 17 Theory: Various Approaches to Yoga Pages 237-249

1. Question on attention wandering P237

  • Vary the Āsana
  • Fix the length of the breath
  • Place attention on the movement of the breath
  • Maintain a fixed ratio

2. Question on suggesting a book P237-238

  • I would not suggest a book
  • The best thing is to follow a guide
  • There are some postures that might be good
  • For them you must seek guidance
  • After that you must be on your own

3. Question on using Praṇava and Japa in Prāṇāyāma P238

  • You must learn from someone who knows
  • You will be taught to use OM orally
  • Then you can easily use it in your Yoga practice

4. Question on counting Praṇava in Prāṇāyāma P238-239

  • The number of times is influenced by the length of the breath
  • We cannot fix the number on the basis of the Praṇava itself

5. Presentation of various approaches to Yoga P239

6. Presentation of Jñāna Yoga P239

  • Some people say that Dhyāna is a means to Jñāna Yoga
  • Jñāna arrives automatically when something blocking it has been removed
  • We see the truth, we merge with the truth, and that is Jñāna

7. Presentation of Bhakti Yoga P239-240

  • Bhakti means to serve something higher than oneself
  • In whatever we see, we see the Lord
  • To see in everybody the highest truth

8. Presentation of Mantra Yoga P240

9. Presentation of Rāja Yoga P240-241

  • The word Rāja means “the king who is always in a state of bliss”
  • When we understand the truth of Īśvara that is Rāja Yoga
  • Puruṣa is the master and all other things serve him. That is Rāja Yoga

10. Presentation of Kriyā Yoga P241

11. Presentation of Karma Yoga P241-242

  • We must act in life, but we should not be disappointed by the results of our actions for we may often act imperfectly

12. Presentation of Laya Yoga P242

  • Laya means ”to merge”
  • We merge with the object and nothing else exists

13. Presentation of Tantra Yoga P242

  • This Yoga has been given many meanings
  • Tantra Yoga involves special techniques

14. Presentation of Kuṇḍalinī P242-244

15. Presentation of Haṭha Yoga P244-245

16. Link to Rāja Yoga P245

17. Link to Laya Yoga P245

18. Link to Tantra Yoga P245

  • The techniques that are used here are special, Tantra means ‘technique’

19. Link to Mantra P245-246

  • Sometimes Mantra have a beneficial effect in removing obstacles
  • Linking the body to the five elements within Prakṛti
  • Linking the body to Citta or Buddhi and Puruṣa
  • Together these make up the Cakra
  • In some books the Cakra represented by Mantra
  • Attention on these through practices including Mantra given by a Guru can remove obstacles
  • Finally what it all comes to is that Avidyā, here represented as a coil, must be removed
  • The coil has been compared to a coiled serpent
  • When the fire in the body is used to kill the serpent, the Kuṇḍalinī straightens and the passage for Prāṇa is clear

20. Question on Kuṇḍalinī and Avidyā in other Yoga P246-247

21. Question on Avidyā and Jñāna Yogi and Bhakti Yogi P247

  • Only different schools represent the process differently
  • The Yoga Sūtra looks at all this in a more fundamental way
  • Whatever happens to the state of mind happens to the whole person

22. Question on Kuṇḍalinī and effects P247-248

  • If we relate it to the Prāṇa there will be no mystery
  • My explanations based on the best and most straight forward text, the Yoga Yājñavalkhya
  • Classifications give the impression that various forms of Yoga are unrelated

23. Question on Kuṇḍalinī and Bandha as an exclusive means to remove Kuṇḍalinī P248

  • The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā offers different ways in different chapters
  • Same is true of other Haṭha Yoga texts
  • It appears different so these things must be made clear by a competent person
  • Many of these things are based on incorrect translations
  • Kuṇḍalinī represents Avidyā and absence of Avidyā represents absence of Kuṇḍalinī

24. Question on reducing Kuṇḍalinī and increasing Prāṇa in Suṣumṇā P248

25. Question on Laya Yoga P249

Follow this link for a Downloadable PDF version of the Chapter Seventeen Study Guide

Follow this Link for Downloadable PDF’s of all the Previous Chapters

3 thoughts on “Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Seventeen Theory

  1. How to chant OM ? according to Sri km achary s tradition.
    Many schools chant differently. Even they split into 3 letter s and chant separately.
    Regards.
    Bhaskar

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