by Vihari-Lala Mitra | 1891 | 1,121,132 words | ISBN-10: 8171101519
The English translation of the Yoga-vasistha: a Hindu philosophical and spiritual text written by sage Valmiki from an Advaita-vedanta perspective. The book contains epic narratives similar to puranas and chronologically precedes the Ramayana. The Yoga-vasistha is believed by some Hindus to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind, an...
Not in the Vedic Period.
The origin of yoga meditation is placed at a period comparatively less ancient than the earliest Sanhita or hymnic period of vedic history, when the Rishis followed the elementary worship of the physical forces, or the Brahmanic age when they were employed in the ceremonial observances.
Some Traces of it.
There are however some traces of abstract contemplation "dhyana yoga" to be occasionally met with in the early Vedas, where the Rishis are mentioned to have indulged themselves in such reveries. Thus in the Rig Veda—129. 4. ~~ ~~
"The poets discovered in their heart, through meditation, the bond of the existing in the non-existing." M. Müller. A. S. Lit. (p. 19.)
The Gayatri Meditation.
We have it explicitly mentioned in the Gayatri hymn of the Rig Veda, which is daily recited by every Brahman, and wherein its author Viswamitra "meditated on the glory of the Lord for the illumination of his understanding" ~~. But this bespeaks a development of intellectual meditation "jnana yoga" only, and not spiritual as there is no prayer for ( ~~) liberation.
It was in the third or Aranyaka period, that the yoga came in vogue with the second class of the Atharva Upanishads, presenting certain phases in its successive stages, as we find in the following analysis of them given by Professor Weber in his History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature. This class of works, he says, is chiefly made up of subjects relating to yoga, as consisting in divine meditation and giving up all earthly connections. (Ibid p. 163).
To this class belong the Jabala, Katha—sruti, Bhallavi, Samvartasruti, Sannyasa, Hansa and Paramhansa Upanishads, Srimaddatta, the Mandukya and Tarkopanishads, and a few others, (Ibid. p. 164). It will exceed our bounds to give an account of the mode of yoga treated in these treatises, which however may be easily gathered by the reader from a reference to the Fifty two Upanishads lately published in this city.
Their different modes of yoga.
Beside the above, we find mention of yoga and the various modes of conducting it in some other Upanishads, as given below by the same author and analyst. The Kathopanishad or Kathavalli of the Atharva Veda, treats of the first principles of Deistic Yoga. Ibid. p. 158.
The Garbhopanishad speaks of the Sankhya and Patanjali yoga systems as the means of knowing Narayana. (Ibid. p. 160). The Brahmopanishad, says Weber, belongs more properly to the yoga Upanishads spoken of before. (Ibid. p. 161).
The Niralambopanishad exhibits essentially the yoga standpoint according to Dr. Rajendra Lala Mitra (Notices of S. Mss. II 95. Weber's Id. p. 162). The yoga tatwa and yoga sikha belong to yoga also, and depict the majesty of Atma. (Ibid. p. 165).
Among the Sectarian Upanishads will be found the Narayanopanishad, which is of special significance in relation to the Sankhya and Yoga doctrines (Ibid. p. 166).
Sankhya and Patanjala Yogas.
It is plain from the recurrence of the word Sankhya in the later Upanishads of the Taittiriya and Atharva vedas and in the Nirukta and Bhagavad Gita, that the Sankhya Yoga was long known to the ancients, and the Patanjala was a further development of it. (Ibid. p. 137).
Along with or prior to Patanjali comes the Yoga Sastra of Yogi Yajnavalkya, the leading authority of the Satapatha Brahmana, who is also regarded as a main originator of the yoga doctrine in his later writings. (Ibid. p. 237). Yajnavalkya speaks of his obtaining the Yoga Sastra from the sun, ~~ ~~
"He who wishes to attain yoga must know the Aranyaka which I have received from the sun, and the Yoga sastra which I have taught."