Ashtanga Yoga – A bird’s eye view
We commence our study of Dasakam 4 of Narayaneeyam with a couplet from Adi Sankaracharya’ Viveka Chudamani.
स्ववेदने का नियमाद्यवस्था ॥ ५२९ ॥
svavedane kā niyamādyavasthā || 529 ||
529. The noble soul who has perfectly realised the Truth, and whose mind-functions meet with no obstruction, no more depends upon conditions of place, time, posture, direction, moral disciplines, objects of meditation and so forth. What regulative conditions can there be in knowing one’s own Self?Adi Sankaracharya- Viveka Chudamani
Rediscovering one’s fullest potential on all levels of human consciousness—physical, physiological, psychological, and spiritual, by controlling the Body-Mind-Intellect Complex, therefore should become the uninterrupted philosophy of life for ordinary mortals like us.
The science of “controlling of the mind” [“citta vrtti nirodhah” otherwise called as Yoga] in all the levels human consciousness has eight (“ashta”) distinct processes (called as the limbs “anga”) as per Sage Patanjali. This science is what is called as Ashtanga Yoga.
The first four limbs—yama (self restraint) , niyama (things to do), asana (posture) , pranayama (breathing technique) —are considered external cleansing practices. The internal cleansing practices are —pratyahara (detachment), dharana (steadying the mind) , dhyana (contemplation).
Through the practice of correct breathing (Pranayama), postures (asanas), and gazing point (driste), we gain control of the senses and a deep awareness of our selves. By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion, one acquires steadiness of body and mind.
However, it is “not possible to practice the limbs and sub-limbs, when the body and sense organs are weak and haunted by obstacles”.
Bhattathri and Ashtanga Yoga
In Dasakam 4, Narayana Bhattathiri is therefore requesting Lord Guruvayoorappan to give him, good health adequate enough to practice Ashtanga yoga and earn his grace.
In that process, Bhattathri explains the devotional path to be practiced through ashtanga yoga for ordinary devotees like us to understand.
He also explains the benefits of practicing this Yoga by highlighting the gains that Sage Naradha and Sukhadeva enjoyed.
Bhattathri also outlines the two distinct routes (the immediate and gradual routes ) that devotees can follow for attaining liberation.
Bhattathiri concludes the Dasakam, with a request to Lord Guruvayoorappan, the embodiment of pure consciousness to cure him of his internal and external afflictions and protect him, who is always singing only Lord’s glories.
Like we did in Dasakam 3, starting from June 24, on every Ekadasi Day of the month, we will take up one sloka for study and present its chanting, transliterations, translations and meaning in English and Tamil.