The volumes of the Project of the history of science philosophy and culture in Indian Civilization aim at discovering the main aspects of India’s heritage and present them in an interrelated way. In spite of their unitary look these volumes recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers and writers who are methodically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. The project is marked by what may be called methodological pluralism. Inspite of its primarily historical character this project both in its conceptualization and execution has been shaped by scholars drawn form different disciplines. It is for the first time that an endeavour of such a unique to study critically a major world civilization.
History of Yoga is an attempt to trace the contours of origin and development of the discipline of yoga in all its possible ramification beginning from the Veda up till modern Times. Long before Patanjali stood our as the greatest systematize of the discipline yoga gad its origin in the aspiration austerity and tapas of the Vedic seers undertaken to understand the mystery of creation of the universe and the individual both in their essence. In contravention of the Aryan Invasion Theory dominating the process of investigation into the history of ancient India the volumes traces the louse of the Yogic sadhana of the earliest Vedic seers in the high Himalayas getting percolated throughout the rest of the country gradually and leaving its remnants also in the Indus seals of the third millennium B.C Being a product of total involvement of the personality of the Vedic Seers in the task of investigation into the mystery of creation the discipline has evolved into diverse path such as bhakti Jnana, karma and mediation ranging form pure spiritual to the anatomical as is obvious in its Hathayogic manifestation. This has exposition of stalwarts of the modern age such as Sri Ramakrishna Swami Vivekananda Sri Aurobindo Raman Maharishi and the rest as a follow up of the works of seers and sages. This development in the discipline has been possible through the works of a number of great yogins of the intervening period such as several others. The volume is a product of the cumulative effort of some of the best mind in the field available in India at present.
D.P Chattopadhyaya, M.A, LL.B, PH.D (Calcutta and London Scholl of Economic) D. Litt. (Honoris Causa), studied research on law philosophy and history and taught at various Universities in India, Asia Europe and USA From 1954 to 1994, founder Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (1981-1990) and President cum chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced study Shimla (1984-1991) Chattopadhyaya is currently the project Director of the Multidisciplinary 96 volume PHIDPC and chairman of the CSC. Among his 37 publication authored 19 and edited or co edited 18 are Individuals and Societies (1967) Individuals and worlds (1976) Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx (1988) anthropology and historiography of science (1990) induction probability and Skepticism (1991), sociology ideology and Utopia 919970 Societies Cultures and Ideologies (2000) interdisciplinary studies in science society value and civilization dialogue (2002) philosophy of science phenomenology and other essays 92003) Philosophical consciousness and scientific knowledge conceptual Linkages and civilizational Background (2004) Religion Philosophy and science (2006) Aesthetic theories and forms in Indian tradition (2008) and love life and (2010). He has also held high public offices namely of union cabinet minister and state governor he is a life member of the Russian Academy of sciences and a member of the international institute of philosophy Paris he was awarded Padma Bhusan in 1998 and Padmavibhushan in 2009 by the government of India.
Satya Prakash Singh has received his B.A, M.A and Ph. D from the Banaras Hindu University Varanasi. He has served the Aligarh Muslim university form 1962 to 1994 in various capacities such as lecturer professor and dean faculty of arts. He has received several awards including Dr. Ganga Nath Jha award of Uttar Pradesh Sanskrit Academy Lucknow Rajaji Literary award of Vidya Bhavan Bombay Pranvananda best book of the year in psychology of the science congress Bangalore Banabhatta puraskara of Uttar Pradesh Sanskrit santhana Lucknow and Rashrapati certificate of honor of the government of India. He has been governor’s nominee in the state universities of Bihar west Bangal and Sri Venkateshvara Vedic University tirupati. He has served as director of Vraja academy vrindavan Dharma hinduja international centre of Indic Research Delco and Vedic Research center New Delhi he has worked as an editorial fellow of the center for studies in civilization at New Delhi for tow terms. His publications included about 100 research papers and the following books. Sri Aurobindo and whitehead on the nature of god; Sri Aurobindo and Jung; from confusion to clarity.
It is understandable that man shaped by nature would like to know nature. The human ways of knowing nature are evidently diverse theoretical and practical scientific and technological artistic and spiritual. This diversity has on scrutiny been found to be neither exhaustive nor exclusive, the complexity of physical nature life world and particularly human mind is so enormous that it is futile to follow a single method for comprehending all the aspects of the world in which we are situated.
One need not feel bewildered by the variety and complexity of the worldly phenomena. After all both form traditional wisdom and our daily experience we know that our own nature is not quite alien to the structure of the world. Positively speaking the elements and forces that are out there in the world are also parent in our body mind complex enabling us to adjust ourselves to our environment. Not only the natural condition but also the social conditions of life have instructive similarities between them. This is not to underrate in any way the difference between the human ways of life all over the world. it is partly due to the variation in climate and partly due to the distinctness of production related tradition history and culture.
Three broad approaches are discernible in the works on historiography of civilization compromising science and technology art and architecture social sciences and institutions. Firstly some writers are primarily interested in discovering the general laws which govern all civilization spread over different continents. They tend to underplay what they call the noisy local events of the external world and peculiarities of different languages literature and histories. Their accent is on the unity of nature the unity so science and the unity of mankind. The second group of writers unlike the generalist or transcendentalist ones attach primary importance are extremely important and basic in character. Social institutions and the cultural articulations human consciousness they argue are bound to be expressive of the concerned people’s consciousness. By implication they tend to reject concepts like archetypal consciousness universal mind and providently history. There is a third group of writers who offer a composite picture of civilization drawing elements both from their local and common characteristics. Every culture has its local roots and peculiarities. At the same time it is pointed out that due to demographic migration and immigration over the centuries an elements of compositeness emerges almost in every culture when due to a natural calamity or political exigencies people mover from one part of the world to another they carry with them among other things their language cultural inheritance and their ways of living.
In the light of the above facts it is not at all surprising that comparative anthropologists and philologists are intrigued by the striking similarity between different language families and the rites rituals and myths of different peoples. Speculative philosophers of history heavily relying on the findings of epigraphy ethnography archaeology and try to show in very general terms that the particulars and universal of culture are essentially or secretly interrelated. The spiritual aspects of culture like dance and music beliefs pertaining to life death and duties on analysis are found to be mediated by the material forms of life like weather culture to the written one was made possible because of the mastery of symbols and rules of measurements. Speech precedes grammar poetry prosody. All these show how the matters and forms of life are so subtly interwoven.
There is a significant mantra in the Katha Upanishad setting out the direction of the working of an ideal mind the mantra reads as follows:
The self born creator has carved out the senses (in the human body) as moving outward. This is why the individual looks outward and not within his inner self. It is only someone rare and wise who looks towards the all pervading self having stopped his senses from moving outward under the determination to taste the state of immortality.
This mantra seem at so early a stage in the Indian history as the antiquity of one of the primary Upanisads throws a floodlight on the development of yoga in India on such a profound basis as to necessitate a history of it in contrast to its bare simmering elsewhere in the world to say the least.
Quite in conformity with this vision of the Upanisadic sage man elsewhere in the wield has been trying to concentrate on the properties of his self mostly in a projected form tight form the pre historic stage of his development. The tendencies of animism and anomalism as discovered by anthropologists obtaining nature of the human mind. We have bee projecting outside the content of our inner being and have been afraid of the same taking it as something devilish as pew the unconscious dictation of our own minds. We have located them accordingly either in the interiors’ of the earth or still below on the one side or above in the highest possible reaches of our minds in the heaven and have been fearing form or adoring to our full content for invoking their indulgence and mercy. Both these tendencies are still operative world over in both the primitives and the cultures more or less in one form or the other. Examples are the shamanistic practices of the primitives in central Asia, Africa south America etc. on the side and skirmishes of the civilized in favor of prevalence of monotheism as against polytheism on the other. In fact it is the inmost being of the human psyche which protectively assumes the form of the devil sometimes of the deity at other and of the monotheistic gods at the rest partly consciously and partly unconsciously or under the dictations of the conventions and in any case proactively and have quitter away from the actuality of things.
This state of things with all the element of ignorance and falsity involved in it has proves so mesmerizing to the human mind and the society at large that it not lonely continues to survive but has been seeking to decade terms in ideation and practices both of mankind to survive but has been seeking to dictate terms in ideation and practices both of mankind even until now all developments notwithstanding. This is obviously owing to the verity of the outgoing tendency of the mind and its innate habit to see the inner content of the psyche as projected on particular objects or at least in the framework of the space time continuum.
Yoga is the device to do away with the projection and restore the psyche exactly to its original status along with its entire potentiality. This is obvious form the derivative sense of the word yoga with its of root in yuj to unite no matter be the act of unification put in the texts figuratively in the form of yoking the horse with the cart or metaphysically that of nature prakrati with Prusa the substratum of consciousness.
It would be interesting to think over the development of yoga peculiarity in India as against the rest of the world lying contended with the projections themselves particularly in regard to the subtler contents of the psyche. One thing noteworthy in this regard is the geographical and environmental condition of India quite apart forms the rest of the world. These conditions have led to the development of civilization here at the very early stage of human history remaining undisturbed by any invasion form outside and leading a life of full contentment on the basis of the plenty of amentias of life yielded automatically by nature without mush a do on the human side. The land was rich in frosts capable of yielding fruits and roots in plenty. The country was bristling with livestock prone to yield milk in abundance as also to serve the purpose of transportation. The environment was favorable to the human habitation without heat or cold making man impossible it beat with at any time during the year. The country was sparsely populated and the land was fertile. Having had to lover in such a condition people must have found sufficient time to brood over the working of things here quite deeply as per their basic nature. Even after slight increase in the population people till resort it frosts not out of nay compulsion but out of their choice to attain grater intensity in their thinking. This led to the development of the culture of Aranyaks forest dwellers evern amongst the people living well off in villages’ and towns. The division of labor amongst the people left a section of the population known as Brahman’s with nothing to do but to of on thinking contemplating and meditating uninterrupted on the problems of life and on the possible escape form the drudgeries’ of it the rest of the population having taken on itself willingly the responsibility of their maintenance.
This environment economic and social set up provided the best of opportunity for the development of the discipline of yoga under which one is required to enter within and take delight in the unfoldment of the hidden treasures lying concealed their somewhat on the same pattern as the sea diver enjoys the sight of flora and fauna inside the water of the sea made accessible to him thanks to the development of various science. This stet of affairs prevailing during that stage of Indian history is vindicated positively by various anecdotes and references in the Veda scattered at places. For instance there is the case of Kapila the Rgvedic seer who is regarded traditionally as the founder of the Sankhya yoga system itself. He was one of the sons of one of the most primeval Vedic seers’ namely angiras. Seeing him gifted with special wisdom and talent his brothers encouraged him to problems of change out the way for getting over the drudgery of the world lying in the problems of change mutilation disease and death which everybody is bound t so suffer from. Even his mother otherwise unwilling to beat her tenth child in the form of him agreed to conceive and give birth to him out of this kind of expectation form him as the concerned Rgvedic mantra tells us.
Kapila was one of the ten (sons of Angiras) endowed with comprehensive wisdom (regarding objects and events in the world). People motivated him for the sake of finding the way out across (the world). Even his mother had condescended earlier to bear him in her womb after considerable deliberation she had done so only after havening become satisfied with the decision as against kapilas own decision not to be born.
That he was brought to the world with this end in view finds its echo in the very first verse of the Sankhyakariak the most representative text of the Sankhya system available today and written sometime in the beginning of the Christian era. As the karika tells us the to alleviation of three kinds of drudgeries of the life in the world.
The Vedic people took full advantage of the situation and by virtue of the facilities available to the Brahmanas they developed a unique system of knowledge known as yoga. It is the system developed by mist austere industrious and intelligent people known as tapasvins who dedicated themselves wholly to its pursuit not for gaining anything material they parted themselves with whatever they themselves had acquired. Their dedication to the kind of knowledge they were in search of was so exclusive that one of them Dadhyan for instance agreed to make a gift to even his backbone as is borne out by his story. He is the author of the last five chapters of the Yajurveda samhita the last one of which in course of time came to be known better as the Isa Upanisad and is found as representing the quintessence of the entire Vedic thought. In fact it’s Dadhyan who ahs envisioned the whole world in its entire flux having Isa supreme being as the eternal verity behind the mass of flux. It is he who has propounded the philosophy of life of hundred years loved successfully through dedication of the results of one’s actions to the Isa. He has also laid down the formula of reconciliation between the worldly and the spiritual pursuits which tow in the absence of that reconciliation are still a matter of distraction. Moreover it is Dadhyan who has envisioned the device of a highest kind of yogic sadhana known as ajapajapa through breathing in and breathing out while breathing in one naturally produces the sound so and while breathing out the sound produced takes the form of ham. Both combined sound as so ham. In Sanskrit so is equivalent to sah meaning that the ultimate reality while ham is the shortened form of aham meaning I. Thus the nasal sound produced in one act of breathing has been discovered by the seer to amount to the cognition on the part of the individual concerned his oneness with the Supreme Being. The acts of breathing in and breathing out during twenty four hours of life in a day and night have even been counted normally to stand at216000. If as per the seer’s suggestion one were to take cognizance of this gift of nature herself made to him one is sure to attain ultimately oneness with the Supreme Being without any extra effort required to be put in on his part. This obvious reading of the meaning of the sound is also indicative of the fact that the highest state of yoga is ingrains in the very act of breathing of there individual which he is completely unaware of.
Besides this mush having been contributed by Dadhyan in regard to the yogic sadhana of man on the purely individualistic side there is another instance of completely universalistic nature which id practised has the prospect of making the entire world wholly rid of evils and drudgeries created by mutual distrust hatred and enmity amongst the humans themselves. The formula laid down for his universalistic yogic sadhana on the part of the seer is based not no sheer speculation but on his own practical use of it and experience of the result. This is obvious form his direct statement to this effect as follows.
May all the living beings of the world look at me with the friend’s eye as I myself look at all of them with the friend’s eye.
That this aspiration of the seer is not anyway casual but has a solid background of wish for universal peace behind it is evident from the fact that this mantra in the Samhita’s immediately preceded by his famous prayer for universal peace on all levels of being irrespective of the physical biological mental spiritual pr metaphysical. The prayer reads as follows.
May the heaven be at peace may the intermediate space be at peace may the earth be at peace may the herbs be peace giving may the trees be peace giving may all the gods bring peace may the owed of knowledge prove peace giving may all be peaceful may only peace prevail may that peace be available to me.
It is obvious form the aspiration so Dadhyan expressed in these words that he conceives of the whole universe as a unit of reality where everything is dependent on everything else otherwise he would not have been required to aspire for the upliftment of himself only after every constituent of it has been desired to rest in peace. Secondly universal peace rather than strife and turbulence has been considered here as the necessary element of the promotion of one’s own cause as well as for the outlook of a typical yogin towards things in the world. It is in the state of complete peace fullness all around that he experts to rest in peace and finds his fulfillment in the evocation of deeper visions of wisdom form within himself.
That this universality and profundity of wisdom has sprouted form within him is not a mater of emulation of someone form outside but an offshoot of his own inner being reached at or reveled to him by the control over his mind and still deeper powers of his self is evident form another mantra of the seer compiled a little earlier in the same test. According even make offerings in factor of him in order to derive sparks of wisdom from him since he is the sole custodian of all knowledge and wisdom.
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