How does Vedānta differ from Yoga?


“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

The request for learning must come from the aspirant……


“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

The wise person should cross by the boat of Mantra…..


“Holding the body steady, with the three (upper parts, chest, neck, head) erect,
causing the senses and the mind to enter the heart,
the wise person should cross by the boat of Mantra,
all the fear bringing streams of the mind.”
– Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad Chapter 2 verse 8

Associated Yoga Texts Searchable Saṃskṛta Word Index Database


A lesser known facet of the Yoga Texts and Freenotes section of the Yoga Studies Website is the Yoga Texts Saṃskṛta Word Index. It started life as word by word linked index for the online Yoga Sūtra verses offering a meaning for each word and a cross Sūtra reference resource when exploring related contexts.

However as more Yoga Related Texts were added to the online Database it was obvious that the glossary needed to expand beyond the Yoga Sūtra to include Yoga related terms from other textual sources that matched or correlated with those in the Yoga Sūtra. So the glossary has expanded to include terms from Yoga related sources such as the Sāṃkhya Kārikā, the Bhagavad Gītā, the Gītārtha Saṃgraha and Haṭha Yoga Texts, though inevitably these will expand further over time.

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Defining our relationship with awareness is an inquiry……

na iti na iti

“na iti na iti – not this, not this”
Defining our relationship with awareness,
is an inquiry into re-defining our relationship with matter.
– Bṛhad Āraṇyaka Upaniṣat II.3.6

Kayena Vāca – Veda Chanting Short Closing Prayer with Translation

Veda Chanting Short Closing Prayer

In this lineage this particular dedication is a vital part of the closing process within a chant practice or textual study context and was important to and constantly used by Krishnamacharya throughout his life.

He also taught it to those of his direct students who studied chanting or the chant practices inherent in the study of associated Yoga texts with him within a traditional learning setting.

It is also called a Sāttvika Tyāga. This relates to the concept of not giving up the action, just changing your relationship with your expectations around the fruits of the action. This Bhāvana is inherent in the meaning of the chant and is linked to the teachings around the surrender of the self.

Further reflections on Krishnamacharya’s teachings on the concept of Sāttvika Tyāga within the Bhagavad Gītā will be offered within a future post.

kāyena vācā manasendriyairvā
budhyātmanā vā prakṛteḥ svabhāvāt |

karomi yadyatsakalaṃ parasmai
nārāyaṇāyeti samarpayāmi ||

sarvaṃ śrī kṛṣṇārpaṇamastu ||

” My body, speech, mind, senses,
intellect, essence, or outer and inner tendencies,

All that I will do over and over,
to the supreme Nārāyaṇa I offer.”

“All to the esteemed Kṛṣṇa I consign,
let it be so.”

View or download this Chant and Translation as a PDF.
View or download this post Chant and Translation with chanting notations as a PDF.

What is the relationship between diet and health?


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.

Learning Support for Chanting the Durgā Gāyatrī


Learning Support for Chanting the Durgā Gāyatrī
– From the Taittirīya Upaniṣad Chapter 4 verse 1 Sakha Gāyatrī
From my personal library of recordings from my studies with my teacher TKV Desikachar.
To Download or Listen
To Download the Chant Sheet with Romanised Saṃskṛta and Notations

Śrī Kṛṣṇavāgīśa – A Prayer to Śrī Krishnamacharya with Translation

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

śrī kṛṣṇavāgīśa yatīśvarābhyām saṃprāpta cakrāṅkaṇa bhyāṣyasāram |

śrī nūtnaraṅgendra yatau samarpitsvam śrī kṛṣṇamāryaṃ guruvaryamīḍe |

virodhe kārtike māse śatatārā kṛtodayam yogācāryaṃ kṛṣṇamāryaṃ guruvaryamahaṃ bhaje ||

“I offer praise to one who is disciplined, Guru Śrī Krishnamacharya, whose great teachers were
Śrī Kṛṣṇa who taught him mantra and initiated him into Cakrāṅkaṇam
(the ritual of prostrating and receiving Śaṅkha, right side and Cakra left side, on the shoulders).
Śrī Vāgīśa who taught him the essence of Śrī Bhyāṣyam (Vedānta) and
Śrī Raṅganātha (Raṅgendra) who initiated him into Bharaṇyāsam
(to place at the Lord’s feet or how to surrender to God).
Born in the year Virodha, during the month of Kṛtika, under the star Śatatāra,
this teacher of Yoga, Guru Krishnamacharya I salute.”

The convention is to speak about the guruparamparā and not describe or or speak about the teacher’s contributions.

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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?’

There are also fundamental differences between Yoga and Vedānta……

Desikachar and Krishnamacharya in Madras 1980

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.

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


“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……


“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……


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