How does Vedānta differ from Yoga?

vedanta

“How does Vedānta differ from Yoga?
In brief, we can say that the purpose of Yoga is to change the state of mind,
so that it is less muddy.
In this effort, God may help.

The purpose of Vedānta is to become God…..
At an ideological level, Vedānta rejects Yoga’s idea of God as something potentially helpful,
beside that point it likewise rejects whatever is said in Yoga that does not take one toward God.

However, the Vedānta Sūtra does emphasise the importance of sitting properly for meditation
and the Bhagavad Gītā speaks of the need for proper breathing.
All the Śāstra, in fact, accept the physical discipline of Yoga.”
– TKV Desikachar Chennai July 1981

In each one of us there is something that experiences.

purusa

“In each one of us there is something that experiences.”
– TKV Desikachar introducing the Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2001

The request for learning must come from the aspirant……

Desikachar_PH_2

“The request for learning must come from the aspirant.
Only then can be the process be step by step.
First one question which is understood, then the next.
For example Annam is Brahma,
then Prāṇa is Brahma.
This was the traditional approach by the aspirant.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

In observation, try to go from Annamaya to the deeper levels.

Desikachar_PH_2

“In observation, try to go from Annamaya to the deeper levels.”
– TKV Desikachar Madras 1987

What is the relationship between diet and health?

annam

Question to TKV Desikachar:
What is the relationship between diet and health?

TKV Desikachar Response:
It is a big subject. Our system has to be nourished. Food or Annam is needed. There is the Annamaya, we have a body which has to be nourished. The food we need and eat is Annam.

“Annam is that which will nourish you or that which will eat you.”

This Annam is a very interesting Saṃskṛta word. Annam is that which will nourish you or that which will eat you. The Annam or food must nourish me, it should not consume me. For this reason there is given so much importance to Annam that nourishes and Annam that will consume.
TKV Desikachar from an interview in the Journal Viniyoga Italia on Yoga and Well Being.

It is not the request but where it is coming from.

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“It is not the request but where it is coming from.”
– TKV Desikachar

Whatever is the source of life is surely the source of freedom……

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

“Whatever is the source of life is surely the source of freedom,
a source which knows us and cares for us.
It is everybody’s right, and is not beyond us, but within us.”
– TKV Desikachar from unedited manuscript for ‘What are We Seeking?’

The heart knows no boundaries.

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“The heart knows no boundaries.”
– TKV Desikachar from unedited manuscript for ‘What are We Seeking?’

There are also fundamental differences between Yoga and Vedānta……

Desikachar and Krishnamacharya in Madras 1980

There are also fundamental differences between Yoga and Vedānta. And, if at all we can link them, it is as follows: Yoga is a means towards Vedānta for those who are interested.

Vedānta involves a lot of enquiry and reflection, and also demands the development of Bhakti, and, for both the mind and for the individual, Yoga is the means towards Bhakti.

Also, Vedānta is Jñāna Mārga, and a state of mind that is necessary for Jñāna can only come through the practice of Aṣṭāṅga.”

TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The Hindu Veda classify Dhyāna into three major but not water-tight divisions……

garuda

“The Hindu Veda classify Dhyāna into three major but not water-tight divisions:

1. Karma – actions, the details, precise actions and results of rituals, such as the how and where you sit; considered most important for  Dhyāna.

2. Jñāna – inquiry, into anything from the lowest to the highest, such as God, myself, Prāṇa, Brahma, etc; recognising absolutely one object of inquiry, not many.

3. Bhakti – trying to connect myself with the highest force; to accept the absolute power of God – that he is Master and Teacher, the only reality.

Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra, the definitive text on Yoga, classifies Dhyāna in different yet similar terms.”

TKV Desikachar Madras December 20th 1988

All seekers of truth are therefore advised to focus, instead, only on object……

isvara

“According to my teacher,
trying to calm the agitations of the mind by reflecting on external objects
is like trying to get milk from the wattles hanging from the neck of a goat.
All seekers of truth are therefore advised to focus,
instead, only on objects that are in the realm of the divine.”
– T Krishnamacharya commenting on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 35

The word Mantra means something that we will ponder……

mantra

The word Mantra means something
that we will ponder,
that we will reflect upon.
That is, you go to a teacher,
they say something and
I go back home and reflect upon that.

That is the essential feature of Mantra,
to reflect upon again and again.
The purpose of Mantra is to
help us cross a harbour, an obstacle.
That is why the definition of Mantra is:

 मननात् त्रायते इति मन्त्रः॥
mananāt trāyate iti mantraḥ ||
“Who reflects on this,
will cross the obstacle”.

Extract from an interview with TKV Desikachar on Vedic Chanting

A Mantra is only a Mantra if it is special and secret……

mantra

“A Mantra is only a Mantra if it is special and secret,
and has been personally bestowed by someone
with whom you have a special relationship.
It must be pronounced properly”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

Śraddhā can’t be taught, but can be kindled.

sraddha

Śraddhā can’t be taught,
but can be kindled.”
– From my notes studying Taittirīyra Upaniṣad Chapter Three verse 5 with TKV Desikachar

In Mīmāṃsā there is a word called Prayoga (connection)……

mantra

“In Mīmāṃsā (a philosophical system to interpret the Veda, especially the Brāhmaṇa and Mantra, with the object of correctly performing the Veda rituals) there is a word called Prayoga (connection).
The same Mantra has to be recited differently for different rituals.
Or different Mantra in the same ritual.
So even here different applications are needed, the ancients recognised this.
There is a verse which says that if the Mantra is not used correctly it has the opposite effect and destroys or boomerangs.
Instead of doing good it will harm.
This is Mithyā Prayoga (wrong connection) with an opposite effect.
Having spoken of viniyoga (appropriate application), now looking at important points the old teachers used to convey these ideas.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

Although Krishnamacharya came from a strict Indian tradition……

TK_1980_aged_91

T Krishnamacharya at 91

“Although Krishnamacharya came from a strict Indian tradition,
he liberated the restrictions.
He segregated his personal beliefs from his teaching
and his interest in the different texts on Yoga and Vedānta.

It isn’t necessary to be a Hindu to practice Yoga,
the Hindu text, the Brahma Sūtra refute Yoga.
In the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali God is not emphasised.

Hindus have taken advantage of Yoga,
Brahmin rituals use Yoga breathing,
even if it is only symbolic and they use Mantra.

Krishnamacharya didn’t mix the different teachings,
he didn’t start a class with prayers when he worked with foreigners.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

read more

Yoga – To Link to myself. Hinduism – To Link to God.

yoga

Yoga – To Link to myself.
Hinduism – To Link to God.”
– TKV Desikachar introducing the Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2001