About the book
The word yoga and the various concepts associated with it are being interpreted and understood with great interest the world over especially in recent years. This work by a noted research scholar, Dr. T. N. Mishra explores the meanings of the word yoga and its moral and philosophical annotations, and conducts an intensive study of the philosophies and practices that bear reference to it. A thorough research, Yoga-Tantra and Sensuousness in Art goes into the theoretical foundations of Yoga, tracing ists roots to the sacred scriptures and explaining the goal of Yoga, the discipline it involves, Yoga psychology, its techniques and stages, and classification and practice of Yoga as Mantra-Yoga, Laya-Yoga, Hatha-Yoga and Raja-Yoga. It comprehensively examines the aim and philosophy of Yoga-Tantra and the way to awaken the Kundalini through the cakras practicing Yoga-sadhana of the Natha siddhas (the ulta-sadhana) and Yoga sadhana as found in Vaisnava and Buddhist Sahajiya. Citing interesting examples, it importantly deals with Yoga and Tantra as reflected in Indian art: the impact of the philosophy of Yoga-Tantra with its subtle sensuality on Indian secular and religious architecture and sculpture.
Abounding in illustrations and extensive in notes and references to ancient scholarly treatises and exponents of Yoga and to modern researches on the subject, the book will interest all scholars of Indian art, philosophy and spirituality and appeal to general readers on Yoga as well.
About the Author
Dr. T. N. Mishra has researched various aspects of Indian philosophy and art and architecture in a career spanning more than three decades. He has published articles in reputed journals on the subject and authored works that include Buddhist Tantras and Buddhist Art: Ancient Indian Bricks and Brick Remains: Westernization of Indian Art and Impact of Tantra on Religion and Art. At present, he is Assistant Curator at the prestigious Bharat Kala Bhavan at the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
The word yoga perhaps received the highest attention of readers among other Sanskrit words and the word is being interpreted, globally. In this book the author makes a humble attempt to explain the word yoga. During the course of exploring the meaning, certain related aspects needed discussions. These include an analysis of the philosophy of yoga-tantra, a clear cut understanding of Ulta-Sadhana or Regressive Process, etc. The moral and philosophical annotations of the word yoga also calls for an intensive introspection of the yogic sadhana of Sahjiyas and the yogic sadhana in Buddhism. The present writer made a thorough research on the aforesaid issues and the outcome of this book is his personal realization of the subject. Finally, an attempt has been made to understand the concept of Yoga and Tantra as reflected in Indian art through the ages and how such concepts moulded Indian art and introduced the philosophy of Yoga-Tantra, on the one hand, and the evident yet, subtle sensualism, on the other, in the religious as well as secular art of India.
The word 'Hindu' has become very common as an appellation of our race and religion. This word 'Hindu' was used by the ancient Persian to mean river 'Sindhu', so Sindhu became Hindu. That man who does not believe in the most marvellous infinite power, from which everything has come, in which everything lives and to which everything must, in the end, return, cannot be called Hindu. We believe in nature, a being without beginning and end. There are certain great principles in which, I think, we are all one, and whoever calls himself a Hindu believes in those principles. 'Hinduism' is a blanket term derived from Hindu, a word that originally had no religious association. The spirit of tolerance and assimilation has been the hallmarks of the Hindu civilization.
Except the Hindu religion, every other religion in the world, depends upon the lives of a personal founder. It naturally follows a good deal of fight - what they call historical evidences that centre round these great personalities. Hinduism escaped this fate because this religion is not based upon persons but upon principles. Hinduism has survived all sorts of vicissitudes, because it was, from the very ancient times, held aloft the banner of renunciation. People of different races, languages and religions, with their rise and fall, played their part on the stage of the history and disappeared, leaving some faith behind. Thus, the Hindu religion is not in the books, nor in the theories; neither in the talking or even in the reasoning - it symbolizes being and becoming.
True religion is all about respecting the life, as such. All the religions regard values such as love, tolerance, kindness, fraternity and helpfulness as the principles of a true creed. No religion has ever been able to establish its superiority to all others. This truth has been expressed in the Rgveda - ekam sat vipraha bahuda vadanti (the truth is one, the wise call it by many names).
Let us walk together with a common goal. Let us converse with a common purpose. Let our mind meet together in the quest of true knowledge. Let the religion of the world unite for peace in a common endeavour.
In Indian religion, there is a common element that makes every stage and every movement an expression of the concept of religion in its totality. The religion, in the form of literary records that has come down to us, is that of the Indians. A man's religion is something integral to his nature. There are systems of thought, like Samkhya, Yoga and Mimamsa which cultivate a spirit and attitude to which it would be difficult to deny the name of 'religion', even though they may not accept any belief in the God or the Gods, superior to oneself. A yogi may adopt other methods for achieving salvation from the cycle of birth and death. It is the spirit in man that is responding to the spirit in the universe; the high vision of those, who have penetrated into the depths of being and their very sense of the divine in all their exaltation of feeling and enrichment of personality, which has been the source of the noblest of works in the world.
In fact, what is final, is one's own experience itself, though its expressions may change if they are to be relevant to the growing content of knowledge. The experience is, what is felt by the individual in his deepest being, what is seen or heard by the individual in his deepest being, what is seen or heard by him, and this is valid for all times. The relation between the vision and its expression and, the fact and its interpretation is very close on the fundamental, metaphysical and religious issues. Different commentators have given different interpretations. It is referred to in the Upanisad that 'the soul enters into the all. The heart is released from its burden of care. The sorrows and the errors of the past, the anxieties of the unsatisfied desire, and the suddenness of resentment are no more.'
If Brahman is the eternal reality and we are non-different from it, birth cannot be our beginning, nor death, our end. The soul is eternal, though, it appears to be born, and later, appears to die. Birth and death relate to the integration and disintegration, respectively, of the elements that compose the physical body. These are changes that affect the body, like the growth and the decay. It is because we identify the soul with the body, on account of ignorance, that it suffers and becomes a victim of samsara. Moksa is the final goal of man. According to the doctrine of non-duality, one need not wait till death for the attainment of salvation. Moksa is the eternal nature of the self. What prevents the soul from realizing it, is its own ignorance. When ignorance is dispelled through wisdom of the nature of self, one attains moksa. This is known as jivan-mukti or para-mukti.
It is said that the true nature of the self is 'Pure Consciousness'. But, unfortunately, this is not how we see ourselves. We, through ignorance, identify the body, mind and the intellect along with their functions and modifications as the true nature of the self and say, this is the Reality.
Inherent tendencies that we carry with us are termed as impurities of the mind and these manifest themselves in the form of likes and dislikes in the world of sense objects. The purpose of Yoga is to firmly establish one's true self and is different from the practice of meditation, which helps purify the mind by eliminating the past tendencies of impurities and habitual errors.
Original Tantric Texts (24)
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