In this section, I am providing general information - combination of a glossary, listing of great personalities, locations & geographical landmarks, history - in general any subject related to India. I have gathered the information from various sources - books, magazines, internet, word of mouth.

General information about India - Y

Panini, the grammarian, explains the meaning of yoga as union with the Supreme, of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul.
Yoga, derived from the root yuj (to yoke, to unite). A man who seeks after this union is called a yogin or yogi.

There are four main divisions of yoga: Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga.

Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutra, defines yoga as 'cessation of all changes in consciousness.' Yoga is the science and praxis of obtaining liberation (moksha) from the material world. It not only points the way to release, but offers a practical means of arriving there. Yoga is a practical path to self-realization, a means of attaining enlightenment by purifying the entire being, so that the mind-body can experience the absolute reality underlying the illusions of everyday life.

Hatha Yoga, consists of bodily exercises. The Philosophy of Yoga is called Raja Yoga, (the royal path), or Patanjala Yoga, referring to Patanjali, the reputed author of the Yogasutras, the basic Yoga manual. Because of its close connection with the philosophical system of Sankhya, it is also known as Sankhya-Yoga.
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The average man may find it difficult to grasp the intricacies of stilling the mind and merging the individual soul (jeevatma) with the universal soul (paramatma). He can understand what yoga is by exploring the body. Communion and a proper understanding exist between body and nerves, nerves and mind, mind and intellect, will and consciousness. When these vehicles of the jeevatma operate at the highest level, only pure awareness remains.

Yoga is knowledge of the self. It encompasses knowledge relating to the gross and subtle sheaths of the self that have to be purified and perfected by uninterrupted practice and devotion. Man is a product of intellect, emotions, action and determined will. While the seat of intellect is the head, the seat of emotions is the mind. The hand and feet are limbs for action. Yoga lays the foundation for purity in actions, emotions or intellect.
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Yoga Sutra
Maharishi Patanjali is believed to have compiled his Yoga Sutra around the 3rd or 4th century BC but archeological evidences and the study of ancient scriptures suggest that yoga was practiced in ancient India as early as 3000 BC.

Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, which outlines the sovereign path of Raja Yoga, is composed of a total of 195 sutras or aphorisms. These sutras are structured around four padas or chapters: Samadhi Pada, Sadhana Pada, Vibhuti Pada and Kaivalya Pada.

Patanjali has enumerated eight steps of yoga. The first of these is yama (social discipline) - commandments transcending creed, country, time, that include ahimsa (nonviolence), satya (truth), brahmacharya (continence), asteya (non-stealing) and aparigraha (non-coveting).

The second step is niyama (individual discipline) encompassing saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (ardor or austerity), swadhyaya (study of the self) and ishwara pranidhana (dedication to the Lord).

The third step is asana (posture), which brings physical as well as mental health.

The fourth step is pranayama (the control of breathing), which makes the body, and the mind fit instruments for concentration.

The fifth step is pratyahara where the senses are brought under control.

The sixth step is dharana - complete absorption of the mind on a single point or task.

When the objective flow of uninterrupted concentration reaches the subjective state, the union of object and subject takes place to transcend to the seventh step, dhyana (meditation), at the peak of which is samadhi.

To reach samadhi, peace in body and poise in the mind are absolute prerequisites. Peace in body is acquired by practicing asana and pranayama.

When yoga is practiced with intelligence, penetrating each and every corner of this empire (the body), the emperor, the soul, is discovered.

Yoga is based on principles of morality (yama and niyama), physical discipline (asana and pranayama), mental alertness (pratyahara and dharana) and spiritual awakening (dhyana and samadhi). We have been endowed with a body through which the soul can express itself and it is our duty to treat the body with respect.
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