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Yoga - Hindu FAQs

What is Yoga?

On the occasion of International Yoga day which is on 21 July, we are happy to share some basic faq’s about yoga and the types of yoga. The word ‘yoga’ is taken from the Sanskrit root ‘yug’ which means union. The ultimate goal of yoga is to achieve union between the individual consciousness (atma) and the universal divine (paramatma).

Yoga is an ancient spiritual science that seeks to bring the mind, body and spirit in harmony or balance. You can find a parallels for this in many different philosophies: Buddha’s ‘middle path’ – too much or too little of anything is bad; or the Chinese yin-yang balance where seemingly opposite forces are interconnected and interdependent. Yoga is a science whereby we bring unity to duality.

Yoga - Hindu FAQs
Yoga – Hindu FAQs

Yoga is commonly viewed in our everyday  encounters as “excercising flexibility”. These two words have a profound  meaning although most people that state it are referring to the  physical realm. The meaning of these words grow on the practitioner with  experience. Yoga is the science of awareness.
What are Vedic Texts?
There are several thousand vedic texts, but here below is a quick synopsis of the parent/primary texts.

Vedas:
Rig :  Defines the concepts of the 5 element theory
Yajur : Defines the methods to harness the 5 elements
Sama : Defines the frequencies associated with the 5 elements and their harmonics
Atharva : Defines the methods to deploy the 5 elements

Vedanga:
A collection of doctrines of grammar, phonetics, etymology and the science of language use to write the Vedas and UpaVedas

Upavedas:
Refers  to specific subset extentions of the vedas. More of a practitioners  manual. Here below are the most important to our discussion.

Ayurveda:
Medical science

Dhanurveda:
Martial Science

Upanishads:
Refers to a collection of texts that may be viewed as the final chapters of the vedas

Sutras:
Refers to a practitioner’s manual extracted from the Vedas. Identical to the Upavedas. The one of greatest interest to us being

Patanjali Yoga Sutra:
The ultimate doctrine of Yoga

Paths of Yoga:
There are 9 paths of Yoga, or 9 ways that union can be achieved:
Yoga  paths refer to the actual method of practice to experience the state of  yoga. Here below are the most common paths and their significance.

(1) Bhakta Yoga: Yoga via devotion
(2) Karma Yoga:  Yoga via service
(3) Hatha Yoga: Yoga via balance of Sun and Moon energies
(4) Kundalini Yoga: Yoga via harnessing the power of creative latent energy in all of us
(5) Raja Yoga: Yoga via breathing
(6) Tantra Yoga: Yoga via balancing the male/female polarities
(7) Gyana Yoga: Yoga via intellect
(8) Nad Yoga: Yoga via vibration
(9) Laya Yoga: Yoga via music

Yoga - Hindu FAQs
Yoga – Hindu FAQs

The sage Patanjali defines yoga as “Chitta vritti nirodha” or cessasation of mental fluctuation (simply put – control over the wandering mind). In the Yoga Sutra, he divided Raja Yoga into Ashta Anga or Eight Limbs. The 8 limbs of yoga are:

1. Yama:
These are ‘ethical rules’ which should be observed to live a good and pure life. The yamas focus on our behavior and conduct. They bring out our true underlying nature of compassion, integrity and kindness. Consist of 5 ‘abstinences’:
(a) Ahimsa (Non-violence and non-injury) :
This includes being considerate in all actions, and not thinking ill of others or wishing them harm. Do not cause pain to any living creature in thought, deed or action.

(b) Satya (Truthfulness or non-lying) :
Speak the truth, but with consideration and love. Also, be truthful to yourself about your thoughts and motivations.

(c) Brahmacharya (Celibacy or control over sexuality) :
Though some schools interpret this as celibacy or total abstinence from sexual activity, it actually refers to restraint and responsible sexual behavior including faithfulness to your spouse.

(d) Asteya (Non-stealing, non-covetousness) : This includes not taking anything that has not been freely given, including someone’s time or energy.

(e) Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness) : Do not hoard or collect material goods. Take only that which you have earned.

2. Niyama:
These are ‘laws’ which we need to follow to ‘cleanse’ ourselves internally. The 5 observances are:
(a) Suacha (Cleanliness) :
This refers to both external cleanliness (baths) and internal cleanliness (achieved through shatkarma, pranayama and asanas). It also includes cleansing the mind of negative emotions such as anger, hatred, lust, greed etc.

(b) Santosha (Contentment) :
Be content and fulfilled with what you have instead of constantly comparing yourself to others or wishing for more.

(c) Tapas (Heat or fire) :
This means the fire of determination to do the right thing. It helps us ‘burn up’ desire and negative energies in the heat of effort and austerity.

(d) Svadhyaya (Self study) :
Examine yourself – your thoughts, your actions, your deeds. Truly understand your own motivations, and do everything with complete self-awareness and mindfulness. This includes accepting our limitations and working on our shortcomings.

(e) Isvar Pranidhana (Surrender to God) :
Recognize that the divine is omnipresent and dedicate all your actions to this divine force. Do not try to control everything – have faith in a greater force and simply accept what is.

3. Asana:
Postures. These are typically drawn from nature and animals (e.g. Downward Dog, Eagle, Fish Pose etc). Asanas have 2 characteristics:Sukham (comfort) and Stirtha (steadiness). Practicing yoga postures (asanas): increases flexibility and strength, massages the internal organs, improves posture, calms the mind and detoxifies the body. It is necessary to make the body limber, strong and disease-free through regular practice of asanas in order to free the mind for the ultimate goal of meditation. It is believed that there are 84 lakh asanas, of which about 200 are used in regular practice today.

4. Pranayama:
Prana (vital energy or life force) is intrinsically linked to the breath. Pranayama aims to regulate the breath in order to control the mind so the practitioner can attain a higher state of psychic energy. By controlling the breath, one can gain mastery over the 5 senses and, eventually, over the mind.
The 4 stages of pranayama are: inhalation (pooraka), exhalation (rechaka), internal retention (antar kumbhaka) and external retention (bahar kumbhaka).

5. Pratyahara:
Withdrawal of the senses from attachment to external objects. Most of our problems – emotional, physical, health-related – are a result of our own mind. It is only by gaining control over desire that one can gain inner peace.

6. Dharana:
Stilling the mind by dedicated concentration on a single point. A good point of concentration is the symbol Aum or Om.

7. Dhyana:
Meditation. Focussing on concentrating on the divine. By meditating on divinity, the practitioner hopes to imbibe the pure qualities of the divine force into him/herself.

8. Samadhi:
Bliss. This is truly ‘yoga’ or the ultimate union with the divine.

Happy Yoga day to all!

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Sushrut

Hinduism had many scholar and brilliant sages who gave much knowledge of science, Mathematics, Astronomy, cosmoogy, Medicines etc from their work. Here is the list of 11 Hindu sages who did remarkable work in the field of Science, in no perticular order.

1) Aryabhatta

Aryabhatta
Aryabhatta

Aryabhata was the first in the line of great mathematician-astronomers from the classical age of Indian mathematics and Indian astronomy. He is the author of several treatises on mathematics and astronomy.
His major work, Aryabhatiya, a compendium of mathematics and astronomy, was extensively referred to in the Indian mathematical literature and has survived to modern times. The mathematical part of the Aryabhatiya covers arithmetic, algebra, plane trigonometry, and spherical trigonometry. It also contains continued fractions, quadratic equations, sums-of-power series, and a table of sines.
He formulated the process of calculating the motion of planets and the time of eclipses.
2) Bharadwaj

Rishi Bharadwaj
Rishi Bharadwaj

Acharya Bharadwaj is the writer and founder Ayurveda and mechanical sciences. He authored the ” Yantra Sarvasva ” which includes astonishing and outstanding discoveries in aviation science, space science and flying machines.

Also read:
Was first discovered by Hindus Ep IV : Time dilation

3) Baudhayana

Rishi Baudhayana
Rishi Baudhayana

Baudhayana was the author of the Baudhayana sutras, which cover dharma, daily ritual, mathematics, etc.

He was the author of the earliest Sulba Sutra—appendices to the Vedas giving rules for the construction of altars—called the Baudhayana Sulbasutra. These are notable from the point of view of mathematics, for containing several important mathematical results, including giving a value of pi to some degree of precision, and stating a version of what is now known as the Pythagorean theorem.

Sequences associated with primitive Pythagorean triples have been named Baudhayana sequences. These sequences have been used in cryptography as random sequences and for the generation of keys.

Also read:
Was first discovered by Hindus Ep I : Pythagoras theorem

4) Bhaskaracharya

Rishi Bhaskaracharya
Rishi Bhaskaracharya

Bhaskaracharya was an Indian mathematician and astronomer. his works represent a significant contribution to mathematical and astronomical knowledge in the 12th century.  His main work Siddhanta Shiromani deal with arithmetic, algebra, mathematics of the planets, and spheres respectively.
Bhaskaracharya’s work on calculus predates Newton and Leibniz by over half a millennium. He is particularly known in the discovery of the principles of differential calculus and its application to astronomical problems and computations. While Newton and Leibniz have been credited with differential and integral calculus, there is strong evidence to suggest that Bhaskaracharya was a pioneer in some of the principles of differential calculus. He was perhaps the first to conceive the differential coefficient and differential calculus.

Also read:
Was first discovered by Hindus Ep III : Value of Pi

5) Charak

Rishi Charak
Rishi Charak

Acharya Charak has been crowned as the Father of Medicine. His renowned work, the ” Charak Samhita “, is considered as an encyclopedia of Ayurveda. His principles, diagoneses, and cures retain their potency and truth even after a couple of millennia. When the science of anatomy was confused with different theories in Europe , Acharya Charak revealed through his innate genius and enquiries the facts on human anatomy, embryology, pharmacology, blood circulation and diseases like diabetes, tuberculosis, heart disease, etc. In the ” Charak Samhita ” he has described the medicinal qualities and functions of 100,000 herbal plants. He has emphasized the influence of diet and activity on mind and body. He has proved the correlation of spirituality and physical health contributed greatly to diagnostic and curative sciences. He has also prescribed and ethical charter for medical practitioners two centuries prior to the Hippocratic oath. Through his genius and intuition, Acharya Charak made landmark contributions to Ayurvedal. He forever remains etched in the annals of history as one of the greatest and noblest of rishi-scientists.
6) Kanad

Rishi Kanada
Rishi Kanada

Kanada was a Hindu sage and philosopher who founded the philosophical school of Vaisheshika and authored the text Vaisheshika Sutra.

His primary area of study was Rasavadam, considered to be a type of alchemy. He is said to have believed that all living beings are composed of five elements: water, fire, earth, air, Aether (classical element). Vegetables have only water, insects have water and fire, birds have water, fire, earth and air, and Humans, the top of the creation, have ether—the sense of discrimination (time, space, mind) are one.

He says, “Every object of creation is made of atoms which in turn connect with each other to form molecules.” His statement ushered in the Atomic Theory for the first time ever in the world. Kanad has also described the dimension and motion of atoms and their chemical reactions with each other.
7) Kapil

Rishi Kapil
Rishi Kapil

He gifted the world with the Sankhya School of Thought. His pioneering work threw light on the nature and principles of the ultimate Soul (Purusha), primal matter (Prakruti) and creation. His concept of transformation of energy and profound commentaries on atma, non-atma and the subtle elements of the cosmos places him in an elite class of master achievers – incomparable to the discoveries of other cosmologists. On his assertion that Prakruti, with the inspiration of Purusha, is the mother of cosmic creation and all energies, he contributed a new chapter in the science of cosmology.
8) Nagarjuna

Rishi Nagarjuna
Rishi Nagarjuna

Nagarjna’s dedicated research for twelve years produced maiden discoveries and inventions in the faculties of chemistry and metallurgy. Textual masterpieces like ” Ras Ratnakar ,” “Rashrudaya” and “Rasendramangal” are his renowned contributions to the science of chemistry. Nagarjuna had also said to have discovered the alchemy of transmuting base metals into gold.
9) Patanjali  

Patanjali
Patanjali

patanjali prescribed the control of prana (life breath) as the means to control the body, mind and soul. This subsequently rewards one with good health and inner happiness. Acharya Patanjali ‘s 84 yogic postures effectively enhance the efficiency of the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, digestive and endocrine systems and many other organs of the body. Yoga has eight limbs where Acharya Patanjali shows the attainment of the ultimate bliss of God in samadhi through the disciplines of: yam, niyam, asan, pranayam, pratyahar, dhyan and dharna.
10) Sushrut

Sushrut
Sushrut

Sushruta is an ancient Indian surgeon commonly attributed to as the author of the treatise Sushruta Samhita. He is dubbed as the “founding father of surgery” and the Sushrut Samhita is identified as one of the best and outstanding commentary on Medical Science of Surgery.

Sushruta in his book Sushruta Samhita discusses surgical techniques of making incisions, probing, extraction of foreign bodies, alkali and thermal cauterization, tooth extraction, excisions, and trocars for draining abscess, draining hydrocele and ascitic fluid, the removal of the prostate gland, urethral stricture dilatation, vesiculolithotomy, hernia surgery, caesarian section, management of haemorrhoids, fistulae, laparotomy and management of intestinal obstruction, perforated intestines, and accidental perforation of the abdomen with protrusion of omentum and the principles of fracture management, viz., traction, manipulation, appositions and stabilization including some measures of rehabilitation and fitting of prosthetics. It enumerates six types of dislocations, twelve varieties of fractures, and classification of the bones and their reaction to the injuries, and gives a classification of eye diseases including cataract surgery.
11) Varahmihir

Varahmihir
Varahmihir

Varamihir is a renowned astrologer and astronomer who was honored with a special decoration and status as one of the nine gems in the court of King Vikramaditya in Avanti ( Ujjain ). Varahamihir’ s book “panchsiddhant” holds a prominent place in the realm of astronomy. He notes that the moon and planets are lustrous not because of their own light but due to sunlight. In the ” Bruhad Samhita ” and ” Bruhad Jatak ,” he has revealed his discoveries in the domains of geography, constellation, science, botany and animal science. In his treatise on botanical science, Varamihir presents cures for various diseases afflicting plants and trees.

Also read:
Was first discovered by Hindus Ep II : Sphericity of Earth

Credits: Photo credits to the owners, Google Images and the Original Artists.

jagannath puri rath yatra - hindufaqs.com - 25 Amazing Facts about hinduism

Here are 25 Amazing facts about hinduism

1. Hinduism is the world’s 3rd largest religion closely following Christianity and Islam. However, unlike the top 2 religions, 95% of Hindus live in a single nation! Source

2. If you ask a religious Hindu, when did Krishna or Rama live – they will give an answer like 50 million years ago or some other random big number. Actually, it doesn’t matter. Because, Hindus believe in a circular time (rather than the linear time concept in the Western world).

3. Each of our time cycles has 4 main periods – the Satya yuga (golden age of innocence), Tretha Yuga, Dwapara yuga and Kali Yuga. In the last stage, people get so filthy that whole thing is cleaned up and the cycle starts all over again.

kalchakra in Hinduism | Hindu FAQs
kalchakra in Hinduism

4. Hinduism is the oldest of the major extant religions. Its fundamental book – Rig Veda was written over 3800 years ago.

5. Rig Veda was orally passed for 3500+ years in parallel. And yet, its current form has no major discrepancies. It is indeed a stupendous achievement that a major body of work can be orally passed between people in such a large nation with no loss in quality/content.

6. Unlike other major religions, Hinduism doesn’t consider the pursuit of wealth as a sin. In fact, we celebrate wealth in the form of many gods such as Lakshmi, Kubera and Vishnu. Hinduism has a 4 level hierarchy – Kama (pursuit of pleasures including sexual/sensual) – Artha (pursuit of livelihood , wealth and power), Dharma (pursuit of philosophy, religion and doing duties to society) and Moksha (liberation) and we progress from the top to bottom. This is very close to Maslow’s hierarchy and thus Hindus are natural capitalists.

GSB Seva Ganesh Ganpati near King Circle Mumbai is one of richest Mandals | Hindu FAQs
GSB Seva Ganesh Ganpati near King Circle Mumbai is one of Richest Mandals

7. Hinduism is the parent religion for 2 of the other major religions of South Asia – Buddhism and Sikhism. It is also closely associated with its sister religion – Jainism.

8. The holiest number for Hindus is 108. This is the ratio of Sun’s distance (from earth)/Sun’s diameter or Moon’s distance (from earth)/Moon’s diameter. Thus, most of our prayer beads have 108 beads.

9. Beyond India, Hinduism is the dominant religion of many exotic regions such as Nepal, Mauritius, Bali, second biggest religion of Fiji & Sri Lanka and at one point covered most of South east Asia – including Indonesia, Cambodia and Malaysia. Source

10. The Hindu epic of Mahabharatha – that is often used to teach the principles of Hinduism – is written in 1.8 million words long poem (10X the combined length of the Illiad and Odyssey)

11. Unlike all other major religions, we don’t have a founder or a prophet (like Moses, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammad or Buddha). According to Hindus, the religion has no origin (again coming back to the circular concept).

12. Unlike the popular Western conception, Yoga in Hinduism is not merely an exercise routine. It is one of the founding blocks of the religion.

13. The 4 most holiest animals for Hindus are the cow, elephant, snake and peacock (India’s national bird and a wagon of many Hindu gods) – 4 main animals of India.

14. The largest religious structures in the world – Angkor Vat in Cambodia were built by the Hindu kings of South East Asia.

Ankor Vat in Cambodia | Hindu FAQs
Angkor Vat in Cambodia

15. Hinduism has no formal Institution – no Pope, no Bible and no central body.

16. Unlike Christians or Muslims, we go to the temple at any time, any day. There are no special Sabbath, Sunday congregations or Friday prayers.

17. Hindu scriptures are organized into Vedas (poems that written in multiple levels from abstract rural level and going deeper into cosmic universe), Upanishads (scientific discourses and arguments about the world), Brahmanas (manuals for ritual performances), Aranyakas (experiments done on human mind and nature in the forests), Puranas (mythologies about Hindu gods) and Itihasas (notebooks on “historical” events”).

18. Hindus don’t mourn for anything and believe that happiness is the highest form of religious achievement. Thus, unlike most other religions there is no sad festivals for us where we are supposed to mourn.

19. Fire & Light are among the holiest of offerings for Hindus. The concept of Yajna – offering things to fire – is considered one of the highest forms of worships in Hinduism. It symbolizes the idea that everything meets its end.

Hindus Performing Yagna | Hindu FAQs
Hindus Performing Yagna

20. Hinduism’s holiest body of works – Rig Veda – talks of 33 main gods. Although most Hindus consider the Vedas as the holiest, none of those 33 gods are in mainstream worship now.  Also READ: 330Million Hindu Gods

21. Unlike other major religions, Hindu scriptures ask a number of philosophical questions and is ok with “don’t know” answer for some of them. One of the critical body of these questions is the Prashna Upanishad. unfortunately most of us cannot understand the answer to the fundamental questions posted there.

22. Hindus strongly believe in rebirth and karma. That means my next birth will be determined by my actions of this birth.

23. Hindus hold big chariot processions to carry their gods during special occasions. Some of these chariots can be huge and marauding – sometimes killing people in their path when they lose control. The biggest one of all – Jagannath – gave the English dictionary term Juggernaut -meaning the unstoppable one.

Jagannath Rath Yatra | Hindu FAQs
Jagannath Rath Yatra

24. Hindus hold Ganga as the purest of all waters and believe that bathing in it can purify them of their sins.

Holy River Ganga or Ganges | Hindu FAQs
Holy River Ganga or Ganges

25. Kumbh Mela. It is considered to be largest peaceful gathering in the world with over 100 million people visiting during the Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013. Most of the sadhus and saints are said to be in samadhi and appear only to kumbh mela.

kumbh Mela, Worlds biggest peaceful gathering | Hindu FAQs
kumbh Mela, Worlds biggest peaceful gathering

The holiest number for Hindus is 108. This is the ratio of Sun’s distance (from earth)/Sun’s diameter or Moon’s distance (from earth)/Moon’s diameter. Thus, most of our prayer beads have 108 beads.

Credits:
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