Mr. Shankar Kumaran of the Department of Cultural Education at Amrita’s Bengaluru Campus recently presented a paper titled Yoga Psychology at the Tenth World Conference on Vedic Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, USA.
The event was organized by the World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES) and co-sponsored by the Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts.
“Yoga, after finding broad acceptance in the health sector, is today known worldwide, but it is mainly associated with different postures or asanas. But very few know that Patanjali Maharishi, the author of Yoga Sutram never emphasized on asanas alone. Of some 196 sutrams or rules, only three deal with postures,” Mr. Kumaran commented.
“If just three sutras can benefit humanity so much, what if the secrets in the remaining sutras are revealed to the world? The main purpose of yoga is not just to make the body healthy, but to make every moment of human life beautiful,” he explained.
It was in an endeavour to bring awareness of this fact among the academic community that Mr. Kumaran presented his paper titled Yoga Psychology. The word psychology is derived from the Greek roots, psyche meaning mind and logos meaning understanding. As such, it is the science of the mind and behaviour.
Mr. Kumaran’s paper explained the ultimate objectives of yoga such as promoting self-awareness and finding inner equipoise. These are also shared to some extent by modern western psychology.
However, the ultimate goal of yoga is to finally attain Self-Realization by merging with the universal consciousness. This subject is untouched in modern psychological studies.
Yet another important difference lies in the method of finding inner balance, as Mr. Kumaran explained at length. Roughly summarized, western psychology holds that mental stability can be achieved by identifying the origin of inner, unresolved conflicts, and finding adequate ways to release the related tensions. Yoga philosophy, on the other hand, based on the ancient wisdom handed down by the sages, clearly states that inner tensions are caused by unfulfilled desires. Achieving mind control through detachment from objects of desires is seen as the road leading to inner peace.
Yogis know that happiness is not a matter of outer circumstances but of having the right attitude towards life. This way of thinking is now being adopted by modern western psychologists also.
“After scrutinizing the essence of all major Upanishads, I came to the conclusion, that yoga can be called practical Vedanta. It is a way of life, which encompasses awareness in all our daily activities. Hence I strongly believe that the world has reached the juncture to take the next step in learning yoga i.e. from postures to yoga psychology,” Mr. Kumaran stated.
Yoga today is advertised for its practical benefits such us increasing flexibility of joints, releasing stress, reducing high blood pressure or strengthening the immune system. However, practicing the precepts of this ancient spiritual science can help one transcend all attachments and unite with the ultimate truth.
December 8, 2012
Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru