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One of the earliest references to yogic meditation is in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, which states that, having become calm and concentrated, one perceives the self (atman) within oneself. The actual term yoga first occurs in the Katha Upanisad where it is defined as the steady control of the senses, which, along with the cessation of mental activity, leads to the supreme state.

The Svetasvatara Upanisad similarly says that a yogi should hold the body erect, repress the breathing and restrain the mind as he would ‘a chariot yoked with vicious horses’. This yoking of the mind leads to inner visions and, more importantly, ‘a body made in the fire of yoga’ which ensures that the wise man is healthy, freed from sorrow, his purpose completed.

Parts of the famous epic poem the Mahabharata contain passages describing the practice of yoga, such as postures, breath control, inner vision, the yoga of inner sound (nada, sabda), and descriptions of esoteric or subtle anatomy.

The most famous of the Yoga Upanisads, the Yogatattva, mentions four kinds of yoga: mantra-yoga, which involves the repetition of mantras; laya-yoga, the symbolic dissolution of the cosmos within the body and the raising of a corporeal energy known as Kundalini; hatha yoga, the yoga of ‘force’ focusing on various asanas, pranayama, visions of light, and inner sound; and raja-yoga (‘royal’, or simply ‘the best’, yoga), which is the classical system of Patanjali Yoga, which also mentions the magical powers (siddhi) gained by the yogi. Hatha-yoga itself develops an extensive literature, particularly Svatmarama’s Hathayoga-pradipika, which has links with Indian alchemy, Tantra and the Siddha tradition.

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"...'When an individual is firmly established in non-violence (ahimsa), all beings who come near him also cease to be hostile'... Patanjali is the author of the de facto text of yoga - 'The Yoga Sutra.'... Patanjali's scripture not only provides yoga with a thorough and consistent philosophical basis, but in the process, also clarifies many important esoteric concepts (like karma), common to all traditions of Indian thought... Patanjali's is a far-sighted vision of universal humanity... The desire not to harm others is an essential ingredient in cultivating a mental state recognizing the essential unity underlying all living beings, leading towards ultimate mystical union, envisaged as the final goal of yoga..."
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Om - An Inquiry into its Aesthetics, Mysticism, and Philosophy
"...the sacred sound 'namaste' is believed to have a quasi-magical value, corresponding to a creative energy change. This transformation is that of aligning oneself in harmony with the vibration of the cosmos itself...."
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"...symbolic sign based finger patterns taking the place, but retaining the efficacy of the spoken word, and are used to evoke in the mind ideas symbolizing divine powers or the deities..."
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"The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit root 'kri,' meaning 'to do,' implying that all action is karma. Technically, the term incorporates both an action and its consequence... we...confront a dilemma...namely, the relative impurity and purity of an action... What determines the nature of the karma is the will or intention behind an act... We read in the Bhagavad Gita again and again that we must all work incessantly. There it is also mentioned that all work by nature is composed of good and evil... Good and evil are not constant - they change according to time and circumstance... every act is sacred since we are not the doer but a higher reality is acting through us... Karma yoga is a means for seeking divinity in action and life itself..."
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