[Advaita-l] Yoga and Advaita Vedanta - 1

K Kathirasan NCS kkathir at ncs.com.sg
Mon Sep 25 20:54:06 CDT 2006

Namaste Vidyasankarji,

I look forward to the rest of your posts. I have a request that you also
share the contextual usage of the word Yoga in the names of the Bhagavad
Gita chapters. Thank you. 

-----Original Message-----
From: advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
[mailto:advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org] On Behalf Of
Vidyasankar Sundaresan
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 9:46 AM
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Subject: [Advaita-l] Yoga and Advaita Vedanta - 1

On this list, I will take it for granted that all of us know we are not
talking of Yoga in the context of
the modern gym or New Age thought. However, I would like to begin by
pointing out the enormous
range in meaning and application of the word yoga when it is used in the
Vedantic texts.

The word yoga is derived from the verbal root yuj, which means, to
unite, to yoke, to attach, to
connect, to join. As such, yoga is often used to denote the union of two
entities that are otherwise
separate. A related noun derived from yuj is yukti, which means
connection, reasoning, argument
and is most often used to denote a logical deduction.

The word yoga is often used in the brahmasUtra (BS) in this sense. For
example, the section on the
Anandamaya (BS 1.1. 12-19) ends with the sUtra "asminn asya ca tad yogam

asminn - in this (the Anandamaya); asya - of this (the vijnAnamaya); ca
- and; tad - that (neuter, here
a reference to scripture); yogam - union; SAsti - teaches.

i.e. And scripture teaches the union of the self consisting of
intelligence (vijnAna-maya) in the self
made of bliss (Anandamaya).

In this reference, the word yoga has nothing to do with the philosophy
of yoga and is used as a matter
of course, without any great technical significance beyond the meaning
of union.

An example of usage, where the word yoga means connection is BS 3.2.6 -
"deha yogAd vA so 'pi".
deha - body; yogAd - from the connection; vA - or, saH - that
(masculine, here a reference to the
topic discussed in the immediately previous sUtra-s); api - also. The
thrust of this sUtra is that because
of its connection with the body, the self does not exhibit all its

Such instances show how the presence of the word yoga does not
necessarily indicate a reference to
the school of philosophy that is today called Yoga. Many other such
examples can be listed, but that
would take us away from the reason for this discussion. As and when
necessary, if a particular usage
of the word yoga in a source text has been interpreted in a
non-technical sense, I will just mention it
as such. However, this shows us that we need to be careful and take the
context properly into
consideration, when Sankara uses the word yoga, either of his own
accord, or because his source
text uses it.

In the next post, I will touch upon the range of meanings of the word
Yoga even when used in a
specific technical sense, with examples from some of Sankara's principal

SrI gurubhyo namaH
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