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Sankhya-yoga Teacher’s Training Course at Jiva

This is the last opportunity to register for this forthcoming course starting on March 1st. Please find the details below:

This Teacher’s Training Course provides you with sufficient knowledge and experience to become a successful yoga teacher and you can also opt to do advanced courses in the future to master yoga further. We do not follow a specific ‘type’ of yoga but instead, we practice ‘sankhya-yoga’, which aims to integrate yogic theory and physical practice (asana) to the maximum extent. Maharishi Patanjali, the founder of yoga, prescribed certain rules for humans to follow to be productive members of society, and he prescribed a code of conduct that we try to inculcate among students through a systematic understanding of the same.


Jiva Institute for Vedic Studies in Vrindavan


This course will take place in Vrindavan (160 km from Delhi), a small town located on the banks of the sacred river Yamuna. Vrindavan is one of the seven most sacred towns in India, due to its association with Lord Shri Krishna and where some of the greatest yogis and devotees have spent a part of their lives to attain knowledge and enlightenment. Vrindavan is a global village, where Krishna devotees from almost every corner of the world live and enjoy its devotional charm. The course venue is pleasant and offers hassle-free accommodations, along with convenient access to main attractions and local markets.

Jiva dining hallIt is conducted by the Jiva Institute (Ashram), which is well known for its scholarly activities and promotion of bhakti yoga and Vaishnava culture through a scientific and formal approach. The Jiva Institute has a global character, as devotees from around the world visit to study ancient Indian texts and philosophy.


Our Teachers

The yoga course is taught by highly qualified teachers under the guidance of respected Babaji, who is an authority on the Sankhya-yoga philosophical system.

The teachers for this course are from very diverse fields of knowledge. Most of them have lived in Vrindavan for a long time and are familiar with traditional Indian cultural values, Vedic scriptures; such as the Bhagavad Gita, and the essence of various aspects of yoga. In addition to this course, our teachers will be available for exploring the surroundings of Vrindavan.

Satyanarayana Dasa (Babaji)

Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji

Born in India in 1954, Satyanarayana Dasa was drawn to the spiritual traditions of his native country from a young age. After receiving a postgraduate degree in 1978 from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and working in the United States for four years, he returned to India,

where he studied the formal systems of Indian philosophy known as Sad-darsana), under the direct guidance of his guru, Sri Haridas Sastri Maharaja, and Swami Sarana Maharaja. Satyanarayana Dasa was formally educated for more than twenty-five years, while he dedicated himself to becoming a bhakti-yoga practitioner. In 1991, he accepted the traditional Vaisnava order of a renounced life, babaji-vesa. His main focus has been the work of Jīva Gosvāmī. In particular, he has been translating the Sat Sandarbhas into English and providing commentary. He also earned four shastric degrees and received both a law degree and a Ph.D. in Sanskrit from Agra University. Satyanarayana Dasa is the founder and director of the Jīva Institute of Vaishnava Studies in Vrindavan. He has authored eighteen books on Indian culture and philosophy and contributed several important essays to many prestigious journals. In 2013, he was honored by the president of India, Sri Pranab Mukherjee, for his extraordinary contribution in presenting Vedic culture and philosophy, both nationally and internationally. In 2015, he was officially installed as the Mahanta of the Jiva Institute. He has a long practical experience in teaching ancient Yogic texts to international and Indian scholars.


Aami Kristal

Krsna DasAami (Krishna Dasa) taught traditional Hatha yoga at the Patanjali Yoga Foundation. He has been practicing and teaching yoga and wellness for over ten years. He is an Ayurvedic nutritional consultant, specializing in dosha balance, Theta Healing technique, and Bio re-programming seed. He is also a Vedic astrologer from the royal lineage of Jagannath Puri.

He has gained experience in the field of sustainable development by working with indigenous communities in South America, which has taught him different self-healing techniques and introspection. He founded the World Conscious Pact, the University of Ancestral Wisdom, the United Nations of the Spirit, the Global Eco-Villages Network, and the Council of Sustainable Settlements of the Americas. He has a long practical experience in teaching ancient yogic postures, their correct positions and their importance in yoga sadhana.

He now resides in Vrindavan, where he is currently studying the Vedic scriptures under the guidance of his Guru, Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji.



KantaEkaterina (Kanta Dasi) is a Hatha yoga and meditation instructor. Her mother was a yoga teacher, and Ekaterina has been practicing since 2006. She is a graduate of the School of Patanjali in Rishikesh and has studied with well-known Russian yoga masters, such as Dmitry Demin, Gleb Mazaev, and Maxim Tsuguy. She has been a yoga and fitness teacher in leading fitness centers in Belarus since 2016, and she has been conducting online yoga courses in European countries. Since 2020 Ekaterina has been teaching yoga and spinal therapy in Belarus, Israel, Russia, and Ukraine.


Jaya Devi

JayaJaya Devi is the co-coordinator of the Jiva Institute’s yoga course and has been living in India for the past 20 years. She serves as a friendly mentor for all the foreign students who study in Vrindavan. She also coordinates the extracurricular activities in and around Vrindavan. She has a good knowledge of Indian spiritual heritage and a PhD in Sanskrit. She is the author of From Taj to Vraj, a book on feminine spirituality.



Dauji Das
DaujiDauji is your Vrindavan Tour guide. Originally from the United Kingdom, he now resides at the Jīva Institute. He is an editor and publisher of Bhakti books. He is available for free consultation on any extracurricular matter.



Stay and surroundings

The Ashram is located in a clean, pollution-free, hygienic atmosphere, and the course venue is managed by an efficient hospitality staff to look after accommodations, food, and travel arrangements. Surroundings offer ample opportunities to visit important temples and ashrams throughout Vrindavan. The institute is well-furnished and clean with the following facilities.

  • Air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms with attached toilets and hot water
  • Clean drinking water (RO)
  • Full wi-fi campus
  • Hot water (Geyser) in all bathrooms
  • 24/7 support staff
  • Sattvik cafeteria serving nutritious vegetarian food at economic prices
  • Travel-related services to explore nearby places
  • Garden and green surroundings
  • Library (with a rich collection of books on various relevant subjects)
  • Spacious dining hall for regular meals
  • Located in the heart of Vrindavan (most attractions at walking distance)
  • Spacious yoga hall
  • In-house beautiful temple with daily kirtan and discourses on Bhagavad Gita (anyone can join freely)

Course Fee

Our yoga teachers training (YTT) program is a residential course. The fee of USD 1650 per person includes accommodations (private room with private bathroom) and all vegetarian meals at the institute. The registration fee is USD 200 (nonrefundable advance) to be submitted along with the application. The remaining fee can be paid upon arrival. In case of emergency and other unavoidable circumstances, we may permit students to opt for the same course within the period of two years.

Calendar (Course Dates)

  • 1 March to 28 March 2023
  • 1 April to 28 April 2023

Daily Schedule – (200-Hours Yoga Teacher Training)

Our YTT program follows a well-planned schedule and about 6 to 7 training hours daily are assigned to learning different aspects of yoga. Our daily schedule begins as early as 5:30 a.m. with a short meditation followed by yogic postures and classes in philosophy, anatomy, and physiology. Students can also enjoy excursions to nearby places in their free time. During the course, vegetarian meals suitable for a Yogic lifestyle will be served along with seasonal fruits and herbal tea. Home assignments are also given to students during the course to enable them to cultivate insight into the subject.

Pranayama 7-7:45 -15 break

Yoga 8-9:30

10:00 -Tiny breakfast

11:30 -12:30 Babaji class / Anatomy

12:30-14:00 lunch

14:00-15:00 discussion / yoga Philosophy

15:00-17:00 free time

17:00-19:00 methodology and alignments

19:30-20:30 Dinner

20:30-21:00 meditation

Syllabus of Yoga teachers Training Course


(Internal body Cleansing activities)

These ancient yogic cleansing techniques are practiced for the purification of the body. There are six Shatkarmas in the Hatha tradition. They are used to help clear the body of excess mucus, fat, and bile, and should only be practiced under the guidance of a competent teacher. During the course on special days these Shatkarmas will be demonstrated and taught to participants as after practicing Shatkarma,one need to have especially very light food and rest for a while.
Asanas (Physical Postures) There are 84 asanas in the Hatha tradition. These poses are used to steady the body and mind, making the practitioner more energetic, free from disease, and ready for the practice of meditation. These are often the most familiar part of yoga tradition in the modern world.


(Breathing techniques)

These practices utilize breathing to control and influence the flow of vital life force (prana) in the body. Pranayamas are practiced after asana practice. They should be practiced under the guidance of a competent teacher, as the effects of these techniques on the body can be quite powerful.




Dhyana, or meditation, is the practice of calming the mind and body through controlling the thoughts, calming the senses, and deep concentration. There are many ancient yogic meditation practices, designed to bring the practitioner closer to spiritual awareness and understanding. After knowing different meditation techniques, you can find the most suitable one for yourself to practice regularly.




Mudras are advanced yogic postures/techniques that alter mood, attitude, and perception, thereby deepening awareness and concentration. They have a subtle but powerful effect on energy flow in the body and thus are a good preparation for deeper spiritual practices.



Bandhas are bodily locks that help to redirect the flow of energy in the body. They involve locking the chin, abdomen, and perennial region. As they are an advanced practice, they are best practiced individually under able instruction before being incorporated into other yogic practices.
Sankhya-Yoga Philosophy A successful yoga practice absolutely depends on the proper understanding of the ancient yoga philosophies as described in the two schools of Indian yoga philosophy below. Sankhya explains the eternal principles and yoga teaches the way to achieve the goals prescribed in Sankhya philosophy.
Yoga System (of Patanjali) Yoga – An Introduction to yoga and its basic elements
Different types of yoga – Karma, Jñāna and Bhakti
Concept of Atma , Consciousness and awareness Yama, Niyama (Principles of hygienic, regulated and socially acceptable lifestyle including Shatkarma)
Pranayama (healthy breathing )
Pratyahara (Self control )
Dharna (contemplation ), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (transcognitive state)
Sankhya (Wisdom) System of Kapila Evolution of world due to interaction between Purusha (Self) and Prakarti (Nature). The inevitability of understanding the distinction between body, mind, Consciousness, Chitta, Ego and Self for progress in spiritual life.
Anatomy& Physiology related to Yoga It’s important for yoga teachers to understand the movements and composition of the human body, as well as working of the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems. This knowledge will help teachers to address the safety concerns of students and give proper adjustments while helping students understand the full benefits and limitations of their practice.
Theory of Panch Kosha(Five layers believed to be covering the Atma)

1.     Aannamaya kosha, “foodstuff” sheath (Anna)

2.     Pranamaya kosha, “energy” sheath (Prana/apana)

3.     Manomaya kosha “mind-stuff” sheath (Manas)

4.     Vijnanamaya kosha, “wisdom” sheath (Vijnana)

5.     Anandamaya kosha, “bliss” sheath (Ananda)




(Classic Indian System of well-being)


Ayurveda, literally meaning ‘the science of life,’ is an ancient tradition of healing the body through awareness of the functions of the three Gunas (mental dispositions: Sattva, Raja and Tamas)– both the internal and external functions. It encompasses nutrition and massage therapy that is practiced to improve the overall well-being of the body and mind.


Teaching methodology for Yoga Guidance for becoming a successful Yoga teacher: The art of speaking and performing asanas in a classroom setting.

Shri Bhagavad Gita


This ancient text is one of the most important books for understanding yoga, as it outlines the origins of yoga philosophy as passed down through the centuries. A solid understanding of this scripture is necessary for anyone interested in the yoga traditions. Explanation of Sankhya-yoga Philosophy as described by lord Krishna in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita

Detailed syllabus and description

Days Anatomy Philosophy
1 Spine upper 7 Ha-tha+Meru+Surya Namaskar
Spine middle 12
Spine Under  6
2 Feet to Hips (Bones-Musles) Muladhara/Swadishtana
  Feet to Hips (Bones-Musles) Muladhara/Swadishtana
3 Organs Manipuraka/Anahata
4 Upper part to neck (Bones-Musles) Vishuddha/Ajna
5 Respiratory System Sahasrara/Patanjali yoga sutras 1
6 Circulatory System Patanjali yoga sutras 2/History of Yoga

Every Day Practice

Day Bhagavad Gita Pranayamas and Sat Kriyas Meditations
1 Cap 1 (1-13) Yogic Breathing, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika,Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha. Om Meditation
2 Cap 1 (14-27) Yogic Breathing, Anuloma-Viloma, Nadisodhana, Jalandhar Bandha, Mahabandha. Tratak Meditation
3 Cap 1 (27-40) Yogic Breathing, Shitkari, Shitali, Agnisar Dhauti, Nauli Silence Meditation

Cap 1 (40-47)

Cap 2 (1-6)

Yogic Breathing, Neti, Ujjay, Bhramari. Sound Meditation
5 Cap 2 (7-20) Yogic Breathing, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika,Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha. Kirtan Meditation
6 Cap 2 (21-34) Yogic Breathing, Anuloma-Viloma, Nadisodhana, Jalandhar Bandha, Mahabandha. Walking meditation
7 Cap 2 (35-48) Yogic Breathing, Shitkari, Shitali, Agnisar Dhauti, Nauli Om Meditation
8 Cap 2 (49-61) Yogic Breathing, Neti, Ujjay, Bhramari. Tratak Meditation

Cap 2 (62-72)

Cap 3 (1-3)

Yogic Breathing, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika,Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha. Silence Meditation
10 Cap 3 (4-17) Yogic Breathing, Anuloma-Viloma, Nadisodhana, Jalandhar Bandha, Mahabandha. Sound Meditation
11 Cap 3 (18-31) Yogic Breathing, Shitkari, Shitali, Agnisar Dhauti, Nauli Kirtan Meditation

Cap 3 (32-43)

Cap 4 (1-2)

Yogic Breathing, Neti, Ujjay, Bhramari. Walking meditation
13 Cap 4 (3-16) Yogic Breathing, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika,Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha. Om Meditation
14 Cap 4 (17-30) Yogic Breathing, Anuloma-Viloma, Nadisodhana, Jalandhar Bandha, Mahabandha. Tratak Meditation

Cap 4 (31-42)

Cap 5 (1-2)

Yogic Breathing, Shitkari, Shitali, Agnisar Dhauti, Nauli Silence Meditation
16 Cap 5 (3-16) Yogic Breathing, Neti, Ujjay, Bhramari. Sound Meditation

Cap 5 (17-29)

Cap 6 (1)

Yogic Breathing, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika,Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha. Kirtan Meditation
18 Cap 6 (2-15) Yogic Breathing, Anuloma-Viloma, Nadisodhana, Jalandhar Bandha, Mahabandha. Walking meditation
19 Cap 6 (16-29) Yogic Breathing, Shitkari, Shitali, Agnisar Dhauti, Nauli Om Meditation
20 Cap 6 (30- 43) Yogic Breathing, Neti, Ujjay, Bhramari. Tratak Meditation

Cap 6 (44-47)

Cap 7 (1-10)

Yogic Breathing, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika,Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha. Silence Meditation
22 Cap 7 (11-24) Yogic Breathing, Anuloma-Viloma, Nadisodhana, Jalandhar Bandha, Mahabandha. Sound Meditation

Cap 7 (25-30)

Cap 8 (1-8)

Yogic Breathing, Shitkari, Shitali, Agnisar Dhauti, Nauli Kirtan Meditation
24 Cap 8 (9- 22) Yogic Breathing, Neti, Ujjay, Bhramari. Walking meditation
25 Cap 8 (23-28) Yogic Breathing, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika,Maha Bandha, Bhramari. Tratak Meditation
26 Exam about Gita Yogic Breathing, Anuloma-Viloma, Nadisodhana, Maha Bandha, Ujjay Kirtan Meditation
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Indian Schools of Philosophy and Theology

By Satyanarayana Dasa

Indian civilization is the oldest living civilization in the world. The reason for it to survive even after being subject to the onslaught of foreign invaders and rulers for thousands of years is its roots that are grounded in philosophy. The very word Bharata means the land where people are devoted (rata) to enlightenment (Bha).  Indian philosophy is typically divided along two main lines, astika (orthodox or theistic) and nastika (unorthodox or atheistic). Buddhist, Jain, and Carvaka philosophies are unorthodox because they do not accept the authority of the Vedas. The Vedas are commonly accepted by their adherents as having originally emanated from God. Therefore in the Indian tradition, any system of thought not grounded in the Vedas, even if it includes belief in God or gods, is considered atheistic, nastika.

The astika schools, originally called sanatana dharma, are collectively referred to as Hinduism in modern times. Hinduism consist s of six systems of philosophy and theology. These are Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Yoga, Samkhya, Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta. Each school has a set of sutras or aphorisms that forms its nucleus and gives the essential teaching of the school.  The first four of these schools accept the authority of the Vedas, but do not derive their philosophical principles from the statements of the Vedas. They are based on the teachings of individual Rishis or sages.

The last two schools, i.e. Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta, however, base their theological systems specifically on the statements of the Vedas. The four Vedas, namely the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva, are each divided into four parts known as Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanishad. The first two parts are predominantly ritualistic. The Aranyakas mark the shift from ritual to theology, which finds its culmination in the Upanishads. The Purva Mimamsa, (lit. “the earlier deliberation”) bases its principles on the earlier (purva) parts of the Vedas, namely the Samhitas and Brahmanas. Vedanta (lit. “the last part of the Vedas”) is the study of the later parts i.e. the Upanishads), and therefore,  is also called the Uttara Mimamsa, or the later deliberation.

Here is a brief overview of these six systems of thought:

1. Sankhya

Kapila Muni is the founder of this system. Sankhya accepts two basic tattvas or principles i.e. prakriti or primordial matter, and purusha or individual conscious being. The purusha, also called atma, is immutable, eternal and conscious by its very nature. Prakriti is inert and undergoes modifications while in association with a purusha. It evolves from subtle to gross, and manifests the visible world. The first modification of prakriti is called Mahat or the cosmic intelligence. This further evolves into ahankara or ego. Ahankara gives rise to mind, five cognitive senses, five working senses, five tanmatras or subtle elements that further evolve into akasha or space, vayu or gases, tejas or heat and light, jalam or liquids, and prithvi or solid objects.  The central idea in this system is that a living being can become free from ignorance by understanding that purusha is distinct from the twenty-four elements that constitute matter.

2. Yoga

Yoga accepts the twenty five principles of Sankhya school along with Isvara or God as the twenty-sixth. Yoga gives the practical steps to realize the purusha distinct from prakriti. This system was founded by Hiranygarbha and later systematized and propagated by the sage Patanjali. He defines yoga as cessation of all mental modifications. To attain this state he gives eight steps, hence this system is also called astanga (lit. eight limbed) yoga. These are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

3. Nyaya

This is also called Indian system of logic.  It is known for its five step syllogism. It states that there are sixteen padarthas or categories knowing which one can attain the ultimate goal of liberation. The sixteen padarthas are pramana, prameya, samshaya, prayojana, drishtanta, siddhanata, avayava, tarka, nirnaya, vada, jalpa, vitanda, hetvabhasa, chala, jati, and nigraha-sthana. Most of these categories are related with logic and debating. Nyaya was propounded by Gautama Muni.

4. Vaisheshika

This system was developed by sage Kanada. He taught that there are seven padarthas or ontological entities and understanding these leads to self-realization. Kanada also postulated that the world is made of atoms (paramanu). The seven padarthas are dravya (substance), guna (quality), karma (movement), samanya (generality), vishesha (speciality), samavaya (inherence),  and abhava (non-existence).

5. Purva Mimamsa

This system was propagated by sage Jaimini, a disciple of Veda Vyasa. It says that the essence of the Vedas is dharma. Dharma means the commandments found in the Vedas which are mainly in the form of yajnas. By the execution of dharma one earns merit which leads one to heaven after death. One will live happily in heaven without facing any miseries. If one does not follow one’s dharma or prescribed duties, then one incurs sin and as a consequence suffers in hell.

6. Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta

Vedanta was taught by Veda Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas. It refutes the conclusion of Purva Mimasa and states that the essential teaching of the Vedas is to realize Brahman, the Absolute Truth, and not the dharma in the form of injunctions. It has two branches—personal and impersonal. In the former, devotion to a Personal God is the means to perfection. In the latter, one realizes oneself as the all-pervading, impersonal Absolute Truth. Vedanta is the most popular of all the schools.

The six systems are generally paired into three groups, Sankhya and Yoga, Nyaya and Vaisheshika, and Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta. However, Vedanta is widely accepted as the apex of all six systems because it deals exclusively with the Absolute Truth and explains the Reality most consistently. It is the only school that has maintained its relevance through the modern era, even though Yoga is also popular now. There are various schools of thought within Vedanta, which can all be categorized into two divisions: impersonal and personal.

Impersonalism & Personalism

According to the impersonal school called Advaita-vada, the Absolute Truth or Brahman is formless and devoid of any attributes. It is eternal and conscious. Brahman is the only reality. The phenomenal world is an illusion and is perceived out of ignorance of Brahman. Individual beings are non-different from Brahman.

In contrast to it, the personal school says that the Absolute Truth is a person, and is designated as Bhagavan or Purusottama. He has a spiritual form and many variegated attributes. The impersonal feature described above is but the brilliant light emanating from the transcendental body of this Absolute Person. The world, being a creation of Bhagavan, is real but undergoes cycles of creation and dissolution. The individual beings (jivas) are part of Bhagavan’s potency and can never be absolutely non-different from Him.

Utility of Six Schools in Modern Times

devotee studyingEvery human being , irrespective of one’s background, gender or belief system , suffers from three types of miseries namely those coming from one’s own body and mind, those caused by other living beings (such as terrorists, mosquitoes, ferocious animals, etc.), and those meted out by nature (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, etc.).  The root cause of all suffering is ignorance of one’s self. We know a lot about things around us but hardly anything about ourselves.

The basic inspiration behind each philosophical system has been to make the individual being free from suffering. By the study of these systems one’s outlook about life and the world expands and by following the process prescribed by them, such as by Yoga or Vedanta, one can become peaceful and happy in any situation.

Modern life is full of anxiety and stress. Most of the diseases spring from stress, wrong lifestyle, improper diet, etc., which are all rooted in ignorance of our selves. Modern education trains one to earn wealth but not how to use it beneficially. It gives facility to live comfortably but does not teach how to live. It gives knowledge but does not inform about its purpose. In other words, the modern education does not bring fulfillment in life. If the knowledge of Hindu systems is added to the present education, one will be able to lead a better life in all respects, be it economic, social, political or spiritual. The evils of society such as corruption, crime, family disunity, exploitation, etc., will be uprooted if people are trained in Indian knowledge systems, especially Vedanta. These systems have been used for thousands of years in the past and brought glories to India. The glory of India faded when its traditional knowledge systems were uprooted, but if it takes advantage of its indigenous knowledge systems it can inspire the whole world.

Different Types of Yoga

Question: What is the difference between the yoga which Krishna describes in the Gita or which Lord Kapila describes in the Bhagavatam and the process given by Patanjali and this sampradaya from Lord Siva?

Answer: It is the same thing, but Lord Kapila is speaking from the devotional point of view. Patanjali has nothing to do with devotion. There are many techniques which have been devised and in Bhagavad Gita, Krishna has explained one such technique. There are different techniques for different times, ages and people. The problem here is that one has to sit down quietly and meditate, and if somebody is very restless, he will not be able to do even this. Then you have to give him some other technique.

Question: Can there be any success on the path of yoga, without bhakti?

Answer: It depends how you look at it. When we talk about success in karma yoga, there are two considerations. Either you are sakama [full of desires] or niskama [without material desires], and the result differs accordingly. It is not dependent on your bodily actions. If you perform a sacrifice, the success is not just coming from that activity itself.

In astanga-yoga, however, the result comes directly from the activity performed. Just like when you run or do exercise, you develop your muscles which does not depend on your belief in God. Asana and pranayama will give their benefit like curing some disease, because it is a physical process. But you cannot achieve the ultimate result of yoga – which means to become liberated – by this process. It is a scientific process in the sense that it explains up to the extent that you achieve some mystic power. That sort of result will happen because it is a mechanical process, but you cannot get the ultimate result. One cannot become free from the three modes of material nature without bhakti. Therefore Patanjali has also included that part in his process.

Question: Why is Krishna explaining so much about astanga yoga if it is not related to bhakti?

Answer: He is saying that this is also a process which can be used to come to that level of realization. People in general are not attracted to bhakti. But if I talk about meditation or pranayama there will be interest immediately. Even devotees are attracted. So because it is attractive, people will be inspired to do something and claim to be following Krishna. Krishna Himself says this. Then one day one may become a devotee also. So it is just a preaching technique. And for devotees this is also to give them knowledge. Devotees should also have some knowledge of astanga-yoga so they are not completely ignorant of this field.

Question: What will a karma-yogi achieve?

Answer: He will either follow the process of knowing Brahman or Paramatma. He has to have some concept of the Absolute and there are only three concepts: Brahma, Paramatma and Bhagavan. The followers of Brahman are called jnanis or jnana-yogis, those whose goal is Paramatma are called yogis, and those who follow Bhagavan are called bhaktas or devotees. Niskama-karma is not a process which leads to the ultimate by itself. You have to be either a jnana-yogi or bhakti-yogi. Ultimately these are the only two processes, jnana and bhakti.

Karma-yoga is just a process for purification. A karma-yogi who carries on working can be either like a devotee or a jnani. If he is like a jnani he becomes renounced and takes sannyasa. If he is like a bhakta he continues to work although he may still be known as a karma-yogi because of the process he has followed. If he becomes devoted to Krishna, he will consider bhakti as his prime process, understanding that karma-yoga is just secondary. That means he is only doing it for setting the standard for others.  Then for him karma-yoga is not a process he follows as a means anymore.

Question: At which point does he have to decide what his goal is?

Answer: Generally this is there to begin with, because when you start, you start with a concept. Among the karma-yogis you will basically find two types: those with the concept of the Absolute as a person and those who have the concept that the Absolute is impersonal. So they have their concept in the beginning. The only thing is that later on, it becomes more solidified as they realize it.

Question: If there are only two paths, where does this yoga fit in?

Answer: It is also a part of jnana because it is similar, they also don’t participate. There are two paths, pavritti marga and nirvritti marga, the path of action and the path of renunciation. In the path of renunciation, one is called a jnana-yogi and the other is called astanga-yogi. It means one gives more stress on deliberation and the other gives more stress on meditation. Krishna specifies that astanga-yoga is superior to jnana-yoga. He prefers astanga-yoga to jnana-yoga. The reason is that astanga-yoga is more inclined towards the personal form of the Lord because the astanga-yogi meditates on Paramatma, while the jnana-yogi meditates on the impersonal feature of the Lord. So, from that point of view a yogi is better than a jnani. Krishna says that a yogi is better than a tapasvi, better than a karmi, better than a jnani – he is better than all of them (tapasvibhyo ‘dhiko yogi jnanibhyo ‘pi mato ‘dhikah, BG 6.46).

Therefore, it depends on one’s concept of the Absolute to consider one person more superior to the other. It is based on realization.


Astanga and Bhakti Yoga

Question: I am wondering how this astanga-yoga is connected with bhakti-yoga, or if it is connected at all?

Answer: No, it is not connected.

Question: Then why is Krsna bothering to explain it?

Answer: He is saying that this is also a process that can be used to come to that level of realization. In general, people are not attracted to bhakti, but if they hear about meditation or pranayama, they are immediately interested. Even devotees are attracted. Because it is attractive, people are inspired to take up the practice, and claim to be following Krsna. Indeed, Krsna himself states this and incorporates it within his teachings. Furthermore, one day such souls also may become devotees.  Devotees benefit from having some knowledge of astanga-yoga and should not be completely ignorant of this field.

Question: What will a karma-yogi achieve?

Answer: Krishna has described that he will either follow the process of knowing Brahman or of Paramatma. He has to have some notion of the Absolute, of which there are only three concepts: Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. The followers of Brahman are called jnana-yogis, those whose goal is Paramatma are called yogis, and those who follow Bhagavan are called bhaktas or devotees. Niskama-karma is not a process that leads to the Ultimate in and of itself. One has to be a jnana-yogi or a bhakti-yogi, since ultimately these are the only two processes. Karma-yoga is a process for purification, and Krishna says that a karma-yogi is either like a devotee or like a jnani. If he is like a jnani he becomes renounced and takes sannyasa. If he is like a bhakta he continues to work, although he still may be known as a karma-yogi because of the process he has followed. If he becomes devoted he will consider bhakti as his prime process, understanding that karma-yoga is secondary. This means that he is doing it only in order to set the standard for others, and no longer as a means.

Question: So at some point he has to decide what is his goal?

Answer: Generally this is there to begin with, because one starts out with a concept. Among the karma-yogis you will find two basic types: those whose concept of the Absolute is a person and those who have the concept that the Absolute is impersonal. So the concept exists in the beginning, but later on becomes more solidified as they start to realize it.

Question: If there are only two paths, where does this yoga fit in?

Answer: It is also a part of jnana because it is similar in that jnana-yogis also don’t participate in action. There are Yogi in Meditationtwo paths, pavritti marga and nirvritti marga, the path of action and the path of renunciation. One who follows the path of renunciation is called a jnana-yogi, and the one who follows the path of action, an astanga-yogi. The former places more emphasis on deliberation and the latter on meditation. Krsna prefers astanga-yoga to jnana-yoga, and specifies that astanga-yoga is superior, the reason being that astanga-yoga moves towards the personal form of the Lord.  In astanga-yoga, one meditates on Paramatma, whereas the jnana-yogis meditate on the impersonal feature of the Lord. So from that point of view, a yogi is better than a jnani. Krishna says that a yogi is better than a tapasvi, better than a karmi, and better than a jnani–he is better than all of them (tapasvibhyo ‘dhiko yogi jnanibhyo ‘pi mato ‘dhikah, BG 6.46).

Therefore it depends on one’s concept of the Absolute and one’s realization to consider one person more superior to the other.

Integration of Self into Reality

By Bruce Martin

The Vedic seers investigated and delineated the methods by which attention is shifted from the ephemeral and temporal to the real and eternal. Although different methods were devised for people of different temperament, the common thread running through them is higher order integration of self into an ever more encompassing Reality. The methodology that facilitates this higher order integration they termed as yoga, or the process of linking consciousness to its source.

This linking process may be summed up as that which enables attention to turn from a constricted, space-time-bound ego identity, to direct cognition of the conscious Whole, of which the individual atma is an infinitesimal spark. In Bhakti Sandarbha, Jiva Gosvami refers to this linking process as sammukhya, turning attention, as one would turn the face, from the phenomenal to the numinous, from insubstantial projection to underlying substance. This offers a simple yet effective measure to evaluate specific methods across a broad range of disciplines. Valid methodology is simply that which enables the radical shift from distortion to truth. In order to facilitate this shift of context for people of various dispositions, yoga has been divided into numerous branches, of which four are prominent: karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, raja-yoga and bhakti-yoga.


Karma-yoga is the path of consecrated action leading to detachment from desire. The proponents of this path recognized that all desire-based actions produce inevitable results that bind consciousness to an inextricable web, whirling relentlessly about the vortex of life and death. Since action is inevitable, the quality of action itself needs to be transformed from one that binds to one that liberates. Karma-yoga involves a highly sophisticated set of rituals to purify the performer of desire and the sense of doership, in which both action and its result are offered to the Supreme.

From a developmental point of view, the path of karma is designed to offer stability and order to the self system by clearly defining its role in relation to society within the larger framework of the mythic order. In ideal, this trains morality and responsibility to an entire network of social interactions, tying both individual and culture to God. Through the process of offering action and its fruit, egocentrism is gradually reduced, and the performer begins to recognize a vaster reality of which he or she is part. This leads to a falling away of desire that transports one to the gateway of the transpersonal. Karma-yoga, then, is geared primarily to the ego realm of development, supporting the maturing of ego into an integrated self-system that stands, finally, on the threshold of transcendence.


Jnana-yoga concerns itself with the path of transcendence proper. It begins where karma ends. Whereas the path of karma lends stability and organization to the self-system, jnana-yoga shatters it altogether. The strength of this path lies in its ability to expose and dismantle all false representations of reality. Thus even its descriptions of the Absolute whisper songs of denial, neti neti, “not this, not that”. By this stripping away, the Absolute can be only that which is devoid of everything conceived of as material imposition or limitation, such as name, form, action, feeling, thought, and quality.

Effectively, however, this is a denial only of material forms and qualities. The realm of transcendence that accounts, not only for oneness, but for variegatedness as well, is a higher order emergence lying beyond the purview of jnana. There is perhaps hidden significance in the reference to this path as Kevala-Advaita, or unadulterated nondual awareness. Kevala also means only, and, in fact, this path discloses the Absolute as awareness “only”, also known as Brahman.



Raja-yoga, otherwise known as the ashtanga-yoga of Patanjali, is principally concerned with the training of awareness, from preliminary practices, such as ethical and emotional training, to cultivation of breath and posture, through to advanced meditative states. In these enhanced states of awareness, technically known as samadhi, the subject-object dualism of “normal” waking state consciousness breaks down, revealing a unified field of consciousness.

In essence, this path discloses the same truth as that arrived at by jnana. The unique feature of this path is that its subtle-energetic and psycho-dynamic practices allow for optimization of health, activation of higher order mental faculties and profound integration of the body-mind system. This optimizes the potential of that system as a vehicle for the expression of Spirit within the manifest realm. For just this reason, however, raja-yoga is sometimes disparaged by the proponents of jnana. Because it brings considerable physical and mental well-being, practitioners may seek those benefits only, ignoring altogether the core transformation that the path is meant to engender. Considering the modern conversion of yoga from path of transcendence to a technology for health and sculptured physique, this seems a not altogether invalid critique. Yet when properly understood, both transcendence and a suitable vehicle for its expression within the world are of immense value, perhaps more so today than at any other time. Like jnana, yoga is directed primarily toward Reality as consciousness or Brahman, though it does accommodate a generalized sense of devotion through the principle of Ishvara-pranidan, or offering of the self to God.


Bhakti-yoga is the path of surrender and love, and like jnana, it too begins where karma leaves off, at the demise of the separate self sense. Unlike jnana, however, bhakti is marked not by absence of ego-based desire but of thirst for the transcendent. In the beginning this thirst takes on the aspect of shraddha, or trust in, and hence, active surrender to, the Absolute. This is based on the understanding that an inseparable connection exists between the infinitesimal consciousness of living beings and the infinite consciousness of God or Ultimate Reality. This awareness matures into sambandha, or relation with the complete Whole that is of the nature of awareness in love. In ordinary experience, when two beings feel consciously attuned, it allows for the growth of intimacy and love. Conscious attunement, devoid of love, would seem, somehow, still wanting.

Man lila / Vrindavan Art

Love, in the supra-mundane sense, is understood as an aspect of nondual awareness itself, endowed not only with all-consciousness, but the potency of all-bliss. Surrender of the self to God is the constant and total, loving submission of all faculties, and of awareness itself, to that of which we are intrinsically part. This offering of the essence of the being, accompanied by the emptying of all artificially acquired designations, allows consciousness to be permeated with the divine energy of love. Love in this sense, as a unique potency of transcendence, is inclusive of awareness, yet extends beyond it to encompass the hidden and mysterious domain of ecstasy. This love in transcendence, uniting the individual being ardently with its source, thus penetrates through the monochrome dimension of conscious at-one-ment to a multilayered weave of ecstatic and intimate relation. This radically alters the whole conception of love, from a force that necessitates and preserves the dualism of lover and beloved, to one that exists in the nondual state that recognizes no “other” to begin with.

Returning to our original point, that yoga involves higher order integration of self into ever more encompassing Reality, these various branches of yoga can then be seen to fit together to support various phases of Spirit unfolding, from the stabilization of ego in the personal realm, to the transcendence of ego and awakening of conscious unity in the transpersonal realm, to the pervasion of love in the realm of ecstatic all-knowing Being. From this perspective, love represents the highest potential of awareness itself. It is this transcendent love only that discloses the hidden, interior aspect of nondual awareness, in which one undivided, all-encompassing awareness itself becomes the vehicle for love’s infinite depth, tone, hue, freshness and variety. Awakening to this mysterious dimension of the transcendent allows for the highest completion of the being in regard to Reality, the Complete.

Question of a Dying Man

By Satyanarayana Dasa

Ramesvaram - Ramanatha mandirIt is ironic that even while life is full of uncertainties, we continually try to plan for it and figure out how to lead “successful” lives. Death, on the other hand, is absolutely certain, but we tend to avoid thinking about it, let alone planning for it. We even avoid the word “death” using phrases such as “kicked the bucket,” “passed away,” “departed,” or “ascended to heaven,” instead of simply saying someone has died.

Here is a short story that illustrates the importance of inquiring about and preparing for death.

Long ago in India there was an emperor named Pariksit.  One day, while hunting in the forest, he chased an animal into the deep forest and got lost from his entourage. After some time, he felt very thirsty and hungry, but luckily, he chanced upon a hermitage.  He decided to go in and ask for some water. When he got inside, he saw a sage sitting peacefully in meditation. He respectfully asked the old sage for some water, but the sage, being in deep trance, did not respond. The emperor became offended, because he thought the sage was feigning being in a trance to avoid him.  In a fit of rage, he put a dead snake on the yogi’s neck and left.

When the yogi’s son learned about this offense to his father, he cursed the emperor to be bitten by a snake after seven days. Surprisingly, when the emperor heard about the curse, he did not become unsettled, but accepted this circumstance as the grace of the Lord. He handed over his kingdom to his son and sat on the bank of the Ganga river, where many great yogis, saints, devotees, and sages gathered to meet the emperor and be with him until his last day. The emperor posed an interesting question to the hoary assembly. He said, “What is the duty of a man about to die? How can he attain completeness?”

The exact word used by him is “mriyamanasya.” Although the word is translated as “one who is about to die”, it literally means “one who is dying.” We think we are living and are concerned only about living. But there is another side of the coin. We are also dying at every second. Every birthday we celebrate is also a “death day.” The 25th birthday means that a person has died 25 years of his life. He is closer to death by 25 years.

Pariksit’s question is very pertinent to all of us. We are all, like Pariksit, inquiring about many things in life. We are regularly tormented by the pangs of hunger and thirst, which symbolize our material desires. Most people, even though they appear to be seeking solutions for their spiritual problems, are in fact indirectly seeking succor from their material afflictions. As depicted in the story, a real sage may not respond to our ephemeral needs. Because of this, we may disrespect the spiritualist, intentionally or unintentionally, and be cursed to die. (In fact, according to scriptures, this is something that we have been doing for countless lifetimes, which is why we must repeatedly suffer continuous births and deaths.)

In the assembly of the sages there were scholars belonging to different schools of philosophy, such as Nyaya, Vaisesika, Yoga, Samkhya, Purvamimamsa and Vedanta. They all deliberated over Pariksit’s question, but there was no consensus. At that point, a highly learned and realized sage,  Sukadeva, son of Vyasa, appeared on the scene. He was briefed on the deliberations, and accepted the invitation to reply to the emperor’s query. Sukadeva was very pleased with the question and complimented the emperor for asking such a wonderful question. He said that the emperor’s question would bring welfare to humanity. Although over the next six days, he gave an elaborate reply on the topic, the essence of his discourse could be summarized in one particular verse:

“It has been concluded that reciting or singing the names of God (Hari) is the best means as well as the end for those who have material desires, or those who are detached to the material fruits as well as for the self realized souls.”

Sri Caitanya in JarikhandaSukadeva’s answer was approved by the scholars of various schools. Reciting or singing names of God or Mantras is a very effective and easy means to attain liberation. It is a very powerful process to control one’s mind. It is also recommended by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, as well as by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. All the teachers of different schools, personal as well as impersonal, Vedic as well as Tantric, have recommended the time-tested process of chanting.

With respect to the story, the practical application of this wisdom should be dealt with in the following manner: Individuals should approach a spiritual guide with genuine intentions of making spiritual progress. They should take guidance on how to recite the Holy Name or mantra, which will enable them to clear away their material attachments. At that point, they will have achieved liberation from the cycle of birth and death, and will continue to sing in happiness for the pleasure of God.

Modern Perspective on Ancient Truth

By Bruce Martin

A friend of mine of rationalistic temperament, and one who considers himself agnostic, recently questioned me about scripture, raising doubt as to how a person could place trust in scripture as the revealed word of God and, as such, a source of infallible knowledge, when much of what has been proclaimed in scripture simply doesn’t hold up to critical examination. To do justice to this question we must first take into account the modern, scientific, rationalistic view itself, that the questioner is expressing, and that is largely taken for granted as the way present-day humanity views the world. At first glance the modern view seems to be in direct opposition to the dominant, scripturally-based, religious view of antiquity. Yet, on careful examination of the historical unfolding of events, modernity emerged, in significant measure, from the ongoing search for truth and the valid methods for its attainment, from the need for a more accurate understanding of self, nature and the world, from the value newly assigned to individual fulfillment, distinct from a person’s collective worth, and from the hard-fought right to question and expose dogmatic and oppressive authority. The pioneers of modernity, men like Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton and Descartes were all deeply spiritual, and, according to their own accounts, it was precisely this orientation that led them to new discoveries that yet challenged the traditional religious authority and world view of the day.

From this perspective, modernity can be viewed not retrogressively, as a movement away from Spirit, but rather, a forward step of Spirit awakening further to its own fundamental nature. The move away from traditional religious authority, though carrying with it the possibility of rejecting the transcendent altogether, freed the human psyche from the oppression of a merely conventional, culturally inherited or imposed religiosity. This individuation of self, rooted in the ever-expanding refinement of awareness and discrimination, is crucial to the growth of mature spirituality.

Relevance of Scripture Today

Let us, then, build on the gains inherited from the modern tradition to investigate the possible relevance of scripture today. From this perspective, it would serve the purpose of objective study to approach scripture as a body of evidence left by past researchers of consciousness, and subject it to the criteria of genuine scientific inquiry, rather than demand that it be upheld as a source of infallible knowledge to be accepted on faith alone, thus precluding any possibility of invalidation. A substantial body of research on altered states of consciousness across various traditions, from shamanism to Christian mysticism, to Kabbalah, to Buddhism, to Yoga-Vedanta-Hinduism, already exists. Increasingly, this will become a major field of study, as the modern world reconnects with its ancient roots.

The basic components of the scientific method include: hypothesis, the proposition to be proved or disproved; experiment, by which the theory can be tested and repeated by others who subject themselves to the same experimental criteria; and a body of data, the experiential findings, leading to validation or refutation of the theory. Applying this methodology to scripture, we can objectively investigate its claims to valid knowledge. Since scriptures are of many varieties, offering different perspectives, some apparently more comprehensive than others, our investigation would be enhanced by opening it up to a broad range of scripture across various traditions, rather than limiting the discussion to a single tradition.

Progressive States of Awareness

Scriptures themselves cover a range of topics, including, epistemology, ontology, cosmology, moral and ethical principles, methods of practice, such as ritual, worship, prayer, contemplation and meditation, and the progression of consciousness through ever more refined states of being, from psychic awakening, to subtle, archetypal awareness, and onward to liberation, nirvana, satori, mystical union, ecstatic love of God, or nondual awareness. For the purpose of this brief discussion, we can focus, particularly, on the methods of practice, correlating them to the states of awareness disclosed by those methods. This has been the focal point of study already undertaken in most of the research conducted to date. It is also the part of scripture most readily amenable to testing and repetition, and hence, to validation or refutation.

The basic claim of scripture, especially those of mystical orientation, is that anyone who undergoes the methodology, while meeting the emotional, moral, volitional and mental conditions required by that methodology, will experience a successive freeing of consciousness into correspondingly subtler and more expansive states of awareness and being. In their book Transformations of Consciousness, Jack Engler and Daniel P. Brown have reviewed a cross-cultural study of meditative states comparing the paths of Yoga-Vedanta, Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism and Pali Theravada Buddhism. The evidence not only validates the claims of these traditions, but also indicates that in spite of divergent doctrinal views of reality, meditation in all three traditions proceeds through the same basic progression in terms of the deeper, underlying structures of consciousness.

A New and Higher Center of Gravity

When these findings are considered in the light of developmental theory, as posited by the growing field of transpersonal psychology, it would appear that meditation is a subtle technology for disclosing the higher reaches of consciousness. With this understanding, the scriptures delineating these methods can be viewed as a vast body of evidence pertaining to the highest potentials of human unfolding, and worthy of minute investigation and reevaluation in modern terms, free of dogmatic and oppressive claims.

The central concern of scripture, then, as the common thread running through divergent wisdom traditions, is not merely to access higher or altered states of awareness, but to shift the entire context of awareness—attention, feeling, volition and action—to a new and higher center of gravity. The aim, in other words, is to effect an integration of mind, body and soul within the all-encompassing ground and context of Spirit. In essence, the scriptural record is an investigation of this hidden, yet innate, human capacity, and it is the legacy left by past explorers of consciousness, as our common inheritance. To neglect it, is to deny and limit the fulfillment of our human potential, to impoverish our lives and the world in which we live.