The word yoga is one among the stylish words circulating the world today. We hear about different styles of yoga: Ashtanga yoga, Hatha yoga, Power yoga, Aerial yoga, Hot yoga, Chilli yoga, Forest yoga, Acquatic yoga, Fire yoga, etc.
The word itself is interpreted in many different ways by different people. Most of the times, people today use this word to refer to practicing yoga asanas (postures) or just a physical exercise meant for improving health! It is hardly used in its real sense.
What is the meaning of yoga? What is the goal of yoga? From a traditional Indian perspective, Yoga is a Sanskrit word with deeper spiritual connotations. Most of its meaning is lost in translation. Let us go to the basics, to understand the etymological origin of the word itself.
The word yoga comes from the dhatu (root word) yuj. According to Panini’s Dhatupatha, the following different meanings can be given to yoga:
- Yuj samadhau: Samadhi. Yoga means attaining Samadhi which is to experience the fourth state (turiya) of consciousness which is a deep meditative state in which one stays connected to Paramatma (Supreme Self) and experiences infinite bliss.
- Yuj yoge: Union. Union of individual self (jivatma) with Universal Self (Paramatma)
The goal is to attain this state of union or merging with the Divine, the inner presence within us!
- Yuj samyamane: Stilling. Stilling of the thoughts in the mind to see the self within clearly. It is like cleaning the mirror of our mind to see our own selves!
Maharishi Patanjali gives a definition in the Yoga Sutras (aphorisms) as:
Yogah chitta vritti nirodhah || – Yoga Sutras 1.2
Yoga happens when there is cessation or stilling of the movement of thought. It is to see one’s own Self.
Thus, the goal of yoga, by definition, is to realize the ultimate reality, the inner presence or essence within us.
Yoga Darshana is one of the shad darshanas (six philosophies or school of thoughts) in Sanatana Dharma. It accepts existence of the inner presence, ultimate reality and considers the Vedas as the final authority.
Yoga Darshana is practical philosophy and involves various ways of tuning our body and mind to experience the ultimate reality.
Since yoga practices are subtle, it is advised to learn and practice under the direct guidance and supervision of a realized master. The purpose or goal of yoga is to merge with the Paramatma, the Universal Self, and to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
Author: Brahmacharini Shobhana
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