The ancient Sanskrit text of the Bhagavad Gita has been influential in many different areas of culture and society both in India and around the world. It contains certain religious and philosophical discussions that resonate with individuals everywhere. In particular, the Bhagavad Gita teachings of Krishna provide scholars and students in religious and philosophical fields alike with a variety of material to digest. Among the many teachings found in the work are those that concern Yoga.
Yoga – Definition
Yoga is both a physical exercise and a spiritual path. It dates back centuries and has been practiced by master Yogis to attempt a union of the mind, the spirit and the body. In modern times, the tendency has been for there to be a separation between the two types when the emphasis has been on Yoga exercises. As a fad or popular form of exercise, a tendency has developed to separate the physical work from the spiritual and mind aspects.
This is not in accordance with the Bhagavad Gita teachings of Krishna. While the separation is made clear in the work, there is no indication that it is overall beneficial to spiritual well being and increased awareness of consciousness that Yoga go along these two separate paths. The Gita indicates physical Yoga is an expression of living in the here and now. Modern Yoga may adopt this form, but it also can be used as simply a means of toning the body. It becomes in this sense not so much a practical expression of life but a means to an end.
Yoga – The Three Paths
According to Krishna, there are three paths of Yoga. They are:
- Karma yoga – associated with action. The Bhagavad Gita teachings of Krishna on this aspect is in favor of self-discipline with performance of set tasks without either self-interest
- Jnana-yoga – this is the discipline of knowledge, particularly self-knowledge or awareness.
- Bhakti-yoga – devotion to a higher being
The Bhagavad Gita teachings of Krishna on Yoga maintain that an individual offers up him or herself and all his or her actions to be made Holy by Krishna. It insists that an individual needs to carry out his or her dharma without self-interest, with no investment at in praise or blame for the work done or the actions taken. In doing so, it places them on the path towards the perfect union of body, mind and spirit.