Yoga karmsu kausalam

Ayushman Goswami
Regional Institute of Education
Bhubaneshwar- Orissa.

What is Yoga? What is kusalta for attaining the status of yoga? How can one learn the technique of yoga? In the present paper, the author, with the help of such questions attempts to understand yoga darshana.'Yoga', which is a Sanskrit word, coming from root (dhatu) 'yuj' and this 'yuj' dhatu used by Panini connotes two meanings. One is 'yujir yoga' which means yoga is to join and another is 'yuj samadhau' which means yoga is identified with contemplation (samadhi). The second meaning is related to Patanjali yoga darshana. The status of samadhi is the ultimate aim of yoga which is the status of complete isolation of purusa from prakrti. We can say that purusa is the ultimate reality and purely isolated from prakrti, in the context of yoga darshana. But without the help of prakrti the jeva or purusa can never be associated with samadhi. For example if we want to exercise yama and niyama, can we do practice of ahinsa (non-injury), satya (truth), aparigraha (renunciation), asteya (not to steal) or brahmacharya in the complete absence of prakrti or its organs? For the yoga school of philosophy, we can say liberation is the isolation of purusa from prakrti, while prakrti provides help to attain the status of samadhi and its every step. If purusa takes up a posture (asana) that is, placing the body and the members of the body in a position that is conducive to relaxation and inner peace, this practice of asana will depend on 'dharati' or land, which is the mahabhuta of prakrti. Nobody can have an asana without proper support of land. Suppose a person takes asana on air (theoretically it is not possible), he needs the base of air (vayu) that is another mahabhuta of prakrti.

Let us come to pranayama, that is a control of vital force - exhalation, inhalation and retention of breath (puraka, kumbhaka and rechaka). Here we can say breath is not possible without oxygen, which comes from vayu, that is also a mahabhuta of prakrti. The next step (anga) is pratyahara or detachment of the sense organs from their respective objects. We know sense-organs are made by prakrti and its respective objects that are also an extension of prakrti. Now pratyahara is a process of detachment of the micro-prakrti from macro-prakrti. The first five disciplines are indirect and external aids, while the last three are direct and internal. They are dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption). We take dharana first - it is fixing of the mind in a particular spot. Here we may take help from prakrti, because the particular spot for concentration may be an organ of prakrti or a compound of organs of prakrti (a picture of an idol). Now we come to samadhi - yoga is identified with samadhi (yoga samadhi), says yoga sutra. There are two degrees of samadhi, depending upon the nature and intensity of the concentration - the samprajnat samadhi or the conscious and the asamprajnata samadhi or the superconscious. The samprajnata samadhi is an absorption with full consciousness of the duality of the perceiver and the thing perceived. Here prakrti is related to the object of the thing perceived. So samadhi is the complete isolation of purusa from prakrti. But from yama to dharana, prakrti lives with purusa. Prakrti's sattva guna helps to become sattvika and only a sattvika purusa can attain the status of samadhi. Prakrti's needful assistance can never be avoided in the realm of samadhi. A new view of samadhi may be based on the help of prakrti. So yoga is a technique to understand prakrti and to get moksha with the help of prakrti. The practice of samadhi begins from prakrti and becomes complete with the assistance of prakrti i.e. isolation of purusa from prakrti. Let us remind ourselves of what Lord Krsna says- 'yoga karmsu kausalam' and kusalta is, to know how much prakrti can be helpful for purusa to attain moksha through karmas (actions). Our karma should be for refinement of prakrti or its organs, i.e., water, air, earth, sky etc., not for exploitation of prakrti. This provides a new definition of 'yoga'.

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This paper was presented at the
National Conference on
Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002