A Hinduism Course
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Hinduism is wide and varied, but some works and some persons stand out. Ramakrishna (Gadadhar Chattopadhyay, 1836-86) and his chief disciple Vivekananda were influential in the Hindu renaissance in the 1800s and 1900s. Vivekananda brought the Ramakrishna movement to the West. As for Tantra, The elitist culture around Calcutta in the 1800s was quite puritanical. They kept trying to get Ramakrishna to condemn Tantra practitioners, but he would never do so. He had practiced Tantra too, and just remarked that there are different doors to enter the same house. [Lex Hixon. Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna. (2nd reprint, Burdett, N.Y.: Larson Publications, 1997, p. xliii)]
As for the books mentioned on this page, they are not many compared to all the books on Hinduism and Hindu yoga and Tantra that exist. Far from it. I have, however, selected some that may appeal to many and not be too scary and abstruse, while covering much ground.
And as James Kirk tells on an early page of his Stories of the Hindus [Soth], young Hindus learn Hinduism by being told Hindu stories. Compare also: [Indian Fables]. Such stories convey attitudes, feelings and moral stands copiously. I have included some tales, most of them from Ramakrishna. And you do not have to believe in tales or accept all their subsumed values to enjoy them. - Tormod Kinnes
The ant and the sugar hill
ONCE an ant went to a sugar hill. One grain filled its stomach. Taking another grain in its mouth it started homeward. On its way it thought, "Next time I shall carry home the whole hill."
That's the way shallow minds think.
Sages may have been big ants; but even they at the utmost could carry eight or ten grains of sugar! [Ramakrishna]
Sugar: The experience of Godhood (Brahman).
A THIEF entered the castle of a king in the dead of night and overheard the king saying to the queen, "I shall give my daughter in marriage to one of those holy men (sadhus) who live on the bank of the river "
The thief thought: "Well, here is good luck for me. I will go and sit among those men tomorrow and look like them, and perhaps I may succeed in getting the king's daughter."
Next day he did so. When the king's officers came soliciting the sadhus to marry the king's daughter, none of them said yes to it. At last they came to the thief who was sitting there and looked like a holy man, and made the same proposal to him. The thief kept quiet.
The officers went back and told the king that there was a young sadhu who might be influenced to marry the princess, and that there was no other who would. The king then came to the river bank in person and earnestly entreated the thief to honour him by accepting the hand of his daughter.
But the heart of the thief was changed; he thought to himself: "I have only put on the garb of a sadhu, and now the king comes to me and is all entreaties. Who can say what better things may not be in store for me if I become a real sadhu!"
Therefore, instead of marrying under false pretences, he began to mend his ways, and ultimately surrendered to become one of the most pious ascetics.
How one may read it:King: Brahmanhood
His daughter: Conjugal bliss and so on
The thief could be yourself.
The sadhu garb: Costy drill and much renouncing too.
A few postulates
Men often think they have understood Brahman fully They don't know that Brahman is beyond one's words and thought After attaining knowledge of Brahman one does not see the two; then it is One. [Three different sayings by Ramakrishna]
1 - Atman is of Maya's BrahmanEXISTENCE-Consciousness-Bliss is of Brahman, and remains unaltered. Atman (individualised jiva or soul of man) is always Brahman, the godhead, and direct knowledge of Atman or Self is the means to liberation. Effects of karma (retributions, giving-back) wear out as identification with the body and mind diminishes, after a blend of proper efforts and good living.
Existence, Consciousness and Bliss appear and disappear in Brahman. Further: "This Atman is obtainable by love of truth, by austerity, by correct knowledge, by one's life of chastity . . ." (Mundaka Upanishad, III. 1.4)
Maya is the cause of the appearance of the universe and extremely illusive. Maya is thought to have two powers, called projecting and veiling. The veiling mystery of Maya creates ignorance, and all creation is the unfolding of Brahman through its inscrutable power, Maya. From the causal standpoint, Brahman is both the material and efficient cause of the world.
What is more, mind perceives, not the eye, and consciousness illuminates mind. And further, deep consciousness pervades the whole being and is reflected in mind and sense organs; which can be trimmed.
Four Vedic statements are said to summarize the entire teaching of the Vedas (1) "That you are (tat twam asi)" (2) "I am Brahman" (3) "This Atman is Brahman" (4) "Consciousness is Brahman"
And the one who realizes Brahman wins liberation.
On one side we are helped by avoiding and averting dangers and harm. On another side we get helped by building up things, including divinity. That is the theory. ¤
(1) In deep sleep, results of past karma go unnoticed. By right effort, it can be wiped out in the waking state too. Study of scriptures can be a help, both to get some sleep and further in this vein. If there is no understanding of them or enlightenments in their wake, reading them matters little, of course.
(2) Bearing in mind that the real nature of Jiva ('soul') is Brahman, how then, it may be asked, may (more) godhead be built up inside ourselves? Tapas (penance and sacrifice) is mentioned as a number one method. It pertains to bothering to access and maintain high and relevant order through means that seem a bit unnatural to humans at first.
These very basic, ancient Hindu ideas go clearly and repeatedly against the ideas that many Indians seem to be fond of nowadays, namely that a soul is like a bubble in foaming water, and "only" needs to be dissolved in the water of God to feel "I am God". There would not be any regulated yoga customs, strictly regulated ways of living and concomitant practices if that were so. Practice is needed, both to gain access to inner, hidded aspects of ourselves - the inner sides - and build them too. Writings of Rudolf Steiner also contain many mentions of this kind.
2 - Oneself as inner witness or seer is thought to remainMIND IMAGINES ideas in dreams because of the reflection of Consciousness, but the inner Seer (perceiver) of what goes on, remains unchanging, though everything else changes constantly.
These ideas are found to a large extent in Shankara's Crest-Jewel of Discrimination.
To Treasure Old Teachings, Don't Be too Hasty
A RICH man said to his servant: "Take this diamond to the market and let me know how different people price it. Take it first to the egg-plant seller."
The servant took the diamond to the egg-plant seller. He examined it, turning it over in the palm of his hand, and said, "Well, I can give nine seers of egg-plants for it."
"Friend, "said the servant, "a little morey say, ten seers."
The egg-plant seller replied: "No, I have already quoted above the market price. You may give it to me if that price suits you."
The servant laughed. He went back to his master and said: "Sir, he would give me only nine seers of egg-plants and not one more. He said he had offered more than the market price."
Te master smiled and said: "Now take it to the cloth dealer. Let us see how much he offers for it."
Te servant went to the clothdealer and said: "Will you buy this? How much will you pay for it?"
The merchant said: "Yes, it is a good thing. I can make a nice ornament out of it. I will give you nine hundred rupees for it."
"Brother," said the servant, "offer a little more and I will sell it to you. Give me at least a thousand rupees."
The cloth-dealer said: "Ahh, don't press me for more. I have offered more than the market price. I cannot give a rupee more. Suit yourself."
Laughing, the servant returned to his master and said: "He won't give a rupee more than nine hundred. He too said he had quoted above the market price."
The master said with a laugh: "Now take it to a jeweller."
The servant went to the jeweller. The jeweller inspected the diamond for a few minutes and said, "I will give you one hundred thousand rupees for it."
Said Ramakrishna: "One offers a price for an article according to one's capital. Can all comprehend the Indivisible Sat-Chit-Ananda? . . . All cannot recognise an Incarnation of God. Some take him for an ordinary man, some for a holy person, and only a few recognise him as an Incarnation."
The following tale is adapted from a tale by Ramakrishna.
"I know what sort the carefully "unresolved family-man" of the present day is! If a poor prince comes to beg of this master of the house, he - being a quite privileged and uncontaminated family-man and having no gross concern with money handling, for it is his wife who manages such things while she's around - says to the begging prince,
"Sir, I never touch money, why waste time in begging of me?"
The prince, however, entreats the man so relentlessly that he thinks within himself that the prince should be paid a dollar, and tells him openly:
"Well, well, come to our door tomorrow morning, and I'll see what I can do for you."
Going in, he tells his wife,
"Look here, dear. I've seen the light. A poor prince is in great distress; let us give him a dollar."
Hearing the word "dollar", his wife gets out of temper and says tauntingly,
"What a generous fellow you are! Are dollars like leaves and straws to be thrown away without the least thought?"
"Well, my dear," replies the man in an apologetic tone, "the prince is very poor and we shouldn't give him less."
"No," says his wife, "I cannot spare so much. I feel two cents will do. You can give him that, if you like."
As the man is a family-man quite uncontaminated by worldliness, he takes what his wife gives him, and next day a beggar gets two cent.
Thus, uncontaminated family-men are hardly true masters of themselves, but quite like hen-pecked husbands. If so, they can be very poor specimens of the human race. [Cf. Tas: "Modern Janakas"]
THE VEDAS are believed by the Hindus to be eternal. During exalted states of spiritual realisation, ancient sages uttered and transmitted them and maybe committed them to writing themselves. According to Hindu tradition, one can verify the possible truths of the Vedas [metaphorical issues are possible] through his own experiences under qualified guidance.
There are four Vedas:
The Vedas can be divided into four categories:
THE UPANISHADS are concluding parts of the Vedas, and their philosophy is called Vedanta. which is the basis of all Hindu systems of religious thought, both dualistic and nondualistic [See Upanishads Online]
The body of Upanishads originated in part hundreds, in part thousands of years BC. They are thought to encompass mystical experiences of saints and sages. In Vedanta God immanent is called the Atman, or Self, and God transcendent is called Brahman (from the root brih, expand). It is also held that Atman (individual self) and Brahman (cosmic self) are identical, and that meditation opens the way for this to be experienced.
Paul Deussen's Sixty Upanishads of the Veda includes the well-known twelve principal Upanishads and many others. This work is a must. Also, Nikhilananda's two translations with with explanatory notes based on the commentary of Shankara, deserve merit. Max Müller translated many Upanishads too in his day [Ref.]. There are many other Upanishad translations - collections of samples with or without comments, and single Upanishads with comments.
THE BHAGAVAD GITA has quite misleadingly been called the Gospel of Vedanta, and is also claimed to be the best loved of all Indian scriptures. It's aim is to describe ways to achieve benefits by religious worship in the middle of interests in conflict. The work is a book (kanda) embedded in the long epic poem Mahabharata in the first place. And it is is formed as a dialogue: deep thinking is put in the mouth of Krishna and his friend Arjuna who is perplexed and confused. Obviously, parts of the teaching is not much relevant in contemporary life. [Two Bhagavad Gita Translations and an Abstract]
During a pilgrimage through the southern parts of India, the Hindu reformer Chaitanya came across a man who was in tears while a pundit was reading from the Bhagavad Gita. On being asked why he shed tears, the man replied,
"I didn't know a word of the Gita in advance. While it was being read, I couldn't help seeing with my inner eye how Highest God was made use of as a mere charioteer by Arjuna on in the field of Kurukshetra. The strangeness of this filled my eyes with many tears."
Chapter 11 of the Srimad Bhagavatam contains similar teachings as the Bhagavad Gita. They are told by Krishna to his friend and look-alike Uddhava, and called Uddhava Gita. Aldous Huxley: "- a teaching that expresses the essence of Indian religion almost as forcefully as does the Bhagavad Gita." Read it here: [Uddhava Gita]
Epics and Puranas
THE INDIAN epics and puranas (tale collections etc) popularise ideals and mythos of the Vedas and Upanishads by insights into lives of certain godmen, saints, kings and devotees.
Ramayana (The Way of Rama) is the most ancient Sanskrit epic poem. It is estimated to have been composed by the sage and former highway robber Valmiki about 500 BC. it has helped in forming a uniform enough structure of pan-Indian ideals and half-norms to live up to. A nice retelling is: --- Hari Prasad Shastri's translation, The Ramayana of Valmiki is a good work in three volumes.
The Concise Yoga Vasistha, translated by Venkatesananda, is a much abridged translation of the original, which is said to present the inner aspects of Ramayana, Rama's way. The translation is clear, without sacrificing philosophical depth. The Yoga Vasistha, a book of extracts translated by the same author, is good too.
The Mahabharata is the largest old poem we know of; it consists of 110,000 couplets, and contains the Bhagavad Gita and material with many other interspersed philosophical and religious outlooks. Its codes for living and speculative philosophy are Aryan. The Mahabharata by Kamala Subramaniam is a nice retelling; it is a highly readable, condensed version focuses on the activity, not much on the sermonising. And the twelve-volumed Mahabharata translated by K. M. Ganguli is much too much at the start. Besides there are other options.
There is well over a dozen Puranas handed down from centiries past.
The Srimad Bhagavatam contains a life of Krishna, and in the eleventh book of the work, Krishna gives instructions to his disciple Uddhava. That part of the work is thus called Uddhava Gita. Very soon after delivering this much interesting instruction, Krishna is killed by a poisoned arrow by mistake Raghunathan's two-volumed translation is good. Besides there is a condensed version by Nikhilananda, called The Wisdom of God.
The Srimad Devi Bhagawatam in Vijnananananda's translation is fair. The work was probably written in the 1000s or 1100s, and is influenced by works on Tantra. There is stress on devotion to the shakti (force aspect of divinity, alias Devi), and many words on realization, and hymns.
The Markandeya Purana (Pargiter's translation) is an interesting work. It contains the Devi Mahatmyam (Glory of the Divine Mother, here in the shape of Durga, and the Chandi). This hymn to the Mother is one of the oldest and most venerated scriptures in India; it is taken to be allegorical, sublime and is much chanted by Hindus.
The Siva Purana is a traditional treatise where mythological stories mingle with methods of meditation, and ritualistic worship of Shiva. J. L. Shastri's 4-volumed translation is excellent.
The Vishnu Purana is a Vishnu-advocating work. It tells of how the world was made, Krishna's life, gods and other beings, and contains discourses on yoga by which one can realise Being, which is thought of as the Supreme Being too.
Traditional Law and Customs
HINDUS of old were steered by criptural instructions and injuctions. Two of the foremost works are:
The Institutes of Vishnu as translated by Julius Jolly, details the laws for all the four castes, promising that faithful observance of these laws will sustain the earth. The Laws of Manu (Manu Samhita), translated and commented by Georg Bühler, enumerates rules, rituals and purports to show how man an evolve to God-realization.
HUMAN relationships can be lifted, and one may learn to go beyond through power properly harnessed. A person must start from where he is and put high and not so high methods of perfectioning into use.
There is an extensive body of texts on the subject. Some of them are:
Gems from the Tantras, first and second series, collected and commented by Mahdev Pandit, give clues on spiritual practices. Siva Sutras translated by Jaiadeva Singh. The Srimad Devi Bhagawatam (see above). The Serpent Power is an important work translated by Sir John Woodroffe, describes centres of consciousness and kundalini awakening. Tantra of the Great Liberation, translated by Sir John Woodroffe, outlines tantric ritual in detail.
Writings on Tantra, in addition: Lights on the Tantra by M. P. Pandit, The Serpent Power and The Garland of Letters, by Sir John Woodroofe. The two last ones outline uses of mantras (vibratory words and sounds).
SHANKARA bases much of his philosophy on tenets found in the Upanishads, and apparently also on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. He has commented on ancient Hindu works like major Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras, and the Brahma Sutras. He has also composed works of his own, including devotional poetry. One such work, Shankara's dialogue Crest-Jewel of Discrimination, is online. [Ref]
Nikhilananda gives gloss from Shankara's comments in his translations of Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Trevett has recently published a commentary by Shankara on the Yoga Sutras. Swami Gambhirananda has translated the Brahma Sutras and included Shankara's commentary.
A biography among others is Swami Apurvananda's Acharya Shankara.
AT THE BEGINNING Sankara didn't have the total faith that everything in the world is Brahman. One day as he was coming out of the Ganges after his bath, he saw an untouchable, a butcher, carrying a load of meat. Inadvertently the butcher touched his body. Sankara shouted angrily, "Hey there! How dare you touch me?"
"Revered sir", said the butcher, "I have not touched you, nor have you touched me. The pure Self cannot be the body nor the five elements nor the twenty-four cosmic principles."
Then Sankara came to his senses.
- Ramakrishna. [From Tas No. 162]
Some other texts
THE Brahma Sutras is one of the three works which all Indian philosophies are based on. The work tries to systematise and elaborates on Upanishadic teachings. Vireswarananda's translation links it to teachings of Shankara.
Nikhilananda's translation of Shankara's Drg-Drsya-Viveka, An Inquiry Into The Nature of the 'Seer' and the 'Seen', Sri Ramakrishna Sharama, Mysore, India, 1976.
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is online [Ref]. Two of the better translations in book form: How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. [sth] Vivekananda's Raja Yoga contains his translation and comments on many of the aphorisms too. [Via]
RAMANA MAHARSI (1879-1950) lived as he taught. Three books edited by Arthur Osborne are: (1) The Collected Works of Ramana Maharsi; (2) Ramana Maharsi and the Path of Self- Knowledge is an account of his life and some handy teachings by his disciple, and (3) The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharsi in His Own Words.
Lately some Ramana collections have been published on-line. I can recommend them.
Facets of Brahman or the Hindu Gods by Chidbhavandna lays bare methods of worship and symbology of various aspects of gods.
An Introduction to Indian Philosophy by Satischandra Chatterjee and Dhirendramohan Datta is a thorough overview of the six orthodix systems of Hindu philosophy. The authors also expose three other main systems, including Buddhism.
A Survey of Hinduism by Klaus Klostermeyer is comprehensive and sympathetic. Hinduism by R. C. Zaehner is much briefer.
The Spiritual Heritage of India by Prabhavananda is thought to be an authoritative text, but it is in part a condensation of a larger work, the Cultural Heritage of India, now in five volumes.
Vedic Religion and Philosophy by Prabhavananda brings some general thought in a short book.
Works in Focus
ONCE there was a ceremony in a guru's house. His disciples volunteered to supply the different articles of food according to their powers. He had one disciple, a very poor widow, who owned a cow. She milked it and brought the guru a jar of milk. He had thought she would take charge of all the milk and curd for the festival. Angry at her poor offering, he threw the milk away and said to her, "Go and drown yourself."
The widow accepted this as his command and went to the river to drown herself. But God was pleased with her guileless faith and, appearing before her, said: "Take this pot of curd. You will never be able to empty it. The more curd you pour out, the more will come from the pot. This will satisfy your teacher."
The guru was speechless with amazement when the pot was given to him. After hearing from the widow the story of the pot, he went to the river, saying to her, "I shall drown myself if you cannot show God to me."
God appeared then and there, but the guru couldn't see him. Addressing God, the widow said, "If my teacher gives up his body because You don't reveal Yourself to him, then I too shall die."
So God appeared to the guru - but only once.
- Told by Ramakrishna [Tas no. 62]
As soon as a man becomes rich he is thoroughly changed. [Ramakrishna]
Such is the pride money begets! - Ramakrishna. [Tas]
Other disciples of Ramakrishna
IN A deep forest a man practised corpse-sadhana: he sat on a corpse, sava, while he meditated. He worshipped the Divine Mother in that way. First he saw many terrible visions. Finally a tiger attacked and killed him.
Another man, happening to pass by and seeing the approach of the tiger, had climbed a tree. Afterwards he got down and found all the arrangements for worship at hand. He performed some purifying ceremonies and seated himself on the corpse. No sooner had he done a little japa (mantra-meditation) than the Divine Mother appeared before him and said:
"My child, I am very much pleased with you. Accept a boon from me."
"May I ask you one question? I am speechless with amazement at your action. The other man worked so hard to get the ingredients for Your worship and tried to propitiate You for such a long time, but You didn't condescend to show him Your favour. And I, who don't know anything of worship, who have done nothing, who have neither devotion nor knowledge nor love, and who haven't practised any austerities, am receiving so much of Your grace?"
The Divine Mother said with a smile,
"My child you don't remember your previous births. As a result of many previous lives of austerities all these things have come to hand, and you have been blessed with my vision. Now ask me a big boon."
Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. - Recommended
Kirk, James Albert. Stories of the Hindus: An Introduction Through Texts and Interpretation. New York: Macmillan, 1972.
Klostermaier, Klaus K. A Survey of Hinduism. 3rd ed. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 2007. - Very good
Nikhilananda, swami. Hinduism. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1968.
Nirvedananda, swami. Hinduism at a Glance. 4th ed. Calcutta: Ramakrishna Math, 1969.
Chatterjee, Satischandra, and Dhirendramohan Datta. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. 7th ed. Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1968.
Deussen, Paul, tr. Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Vols 1-2. Varanasi: Banarsidass, 1980.
Pargiter, Frederick Eden, tr. Markandeya Purana. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1904.
Stories of Hindus
Apurvananda, swami. Acharya Shankara. Mysore: University of Mysore, 1983.
Dimmit, Cornelia, and J. A. B. van Buitenen, trs. Classical Hindu Mythology. Philadelphia: Temple University, 1978. - Good
Gherwal, Rishi Singh. Yoga Vashisht or Heaven Found. Santa Barbara: Self-published, 1930. On-line.
O'Flaherty, Wendy. Hindu Myths. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975.
Raghunathan, N., tr. Srimad Bhagavatam, Vols 1-2. Madras: Vighneswara, 1976. - Tales of Krishna abound in it.
Ramakrishna: Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna. 5th ed. Ramakrishna Math, Madras, 1974.
Rajan, Chandra, tr. Visnu Sarma: The Panchatantra. London: Penguin Classics, 1995.
Rouse, William Henry Denham, reteller. The Talking Thrush and Other Tales from India. London: Dent, 1922.
Subramaniam, Kamala, tr. Mahabharata. Bombay: Bharatiya Book University, 1982.
Subramaniam, Kamala. Ramayana. Bombay: Bharatiya Book University, 1983.
Tawney Charles Henry, tr., Norman Mosley Penzer, ed. The Ocean of Story: Somadeva's Katha Sarit Sagara or Ocean of the Streams of Story. Vols. 1-10. London: London, Priv. print. for subscribers by C. J. Sawyer, 1924-1928.
Venkatesananda, swami, tr. The Concise Yoga Vasistha. Albany: State University of New York, 1984.
By and on Ramakrishna and Vivekananda
Advaita Asram: Life of Sri Ramakrishna. Advaita Asram. Calcutta, 1971.
Advaita Asram: Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. Advaita Asram. Calcutta, 1975.
Advaita Asram. Teachings of Swami Vivekananda. 5th ed. Calcutta: Advaita, 1971.
Advaita Asram. The Life of Swami Vivekananda. 8th ed. Calcutta: Advaita, 1974.
Gupta, M.: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Ramakrishna-Vivekananda. New York, 1942.
Jagadananda, sw. tr: Sri Ramakrishna: The Great Master. 4th ed. Ramakrishna Math. Mylapore, 1970.
Nikhilananda, sw. tr: The Gospel of Ramakrishna. Abr. ed. Ramakrishna-Vivekananda. New York, 1974.
Nikhilananda, swami. Vivekananda. The Yogas and Other Works. Rev. ed. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1953.
Romain, Rolland: The Gospel of Ramakrishna. 8th ed. Advaita Asram. Calcutta, 1970.
Vivekananda, swami. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vols 1-8. 6th ed. Calcutta: Advaita Asram, 1977.
Osborne, Arthur ed. The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharsi in His Own Words. New ed. London: Rider, 1971.
Osborne, Arthur ed: Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self- Knowledge. New ed. Rider. London, 1970.
Osborne, Arthur ed: The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi. New ed. Rider. London, 1969.
Osborne, Arthur ed: The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words. New ed. Rider. London, 1971.
Maharshi, Ramana. Gems from Bhagavan. Comp. A. D. Mudaliar. 6th ed. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanashramam, 2000.
Maharsi, Ramana. Gems from Bhagavan. Comp. A. D. Mudaliar. 6th ed. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanashramam, 2000.
Sri Ramanasramam. The Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi. New Indian ed. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1996.
Yoga and other yogis
Handed-over methods of yoga is a central side to Hinduism, apart from creeds. Hinduism and Buddhism share many yoga methods. There are many methods, and many yoga paths (margas), and they differ in their usefulness, it is fair to say. Health benefits of the safe yoga postures and ways of meditation have been documented by fair research world-wide. Non-strenuous meditation methods could serve you best.
It is OK to learn Buddhist meditation, many forms of Hindu meditation, and yoga postures without embracing any creed, so as to improve one's life. Have a look: [Self-building]
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