Yoga…. One of world’s most mesmerizing words! It attracted me too, but a lot of questions arise in me. What is yoga? Where does it come from? Why is yoga fascinating the world? Where will I get all the answers to all my questions?
I started reading books and learning about yoga. I interacted with my gurus and surprisingly, every time I learnt something new about yoga. I have come to the conclusion that yoga is an OCEAN and my journey is endless.
One day, my friend’s daughter, Char Nair-Gafur Founder and Editor of Charza Fizz, asked me to write about yoga and so, I decided to share my beautiful yoga journey with all of you. When I think of an appropriate name to give my yoga journey, it’s Amrita.
Amrita is a Sanskrit word, which means “immortality” and is commonly referred to as “nectar.” It has much significance in different religions. In yogic philosophy, Amrita is considered to be a fluid that flows from the pituitary gland and down the throat, in deep a state of meditation. It is repeatedly referred to as the “drink of the gods,” which is believed to grant them immortality. There is a beautiful story behind the name Amrita.
Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean) is a well-known story in Hindu mythology.
Throughout the story, the origin of Amrita and the drink of immortality are explained.
King Indra, who was the great leader of the Devas (demigods), was riding on his white elephant when he came across a powerful Sage named Durvasa who offered him a special garland. Indra accepted it and put it on his elephant’s trunk, which angrily tossed it on to the floor. Full of rage, Sage Durvasa cursed Indra and all the demigods to lose strength, energy, and fortune.
When the Asuras (demons) came to know about Durvasa’s awful curse, they attacked the demigods and defeated them. Maha Bali, the leader of the demons, gained all control over the entire universe. This upset the demigods, who then sought help from Lord Vishnu (a supreme god) to defeat Maha Bali. It was Lord Vishnu’s plan to help the demigods regain their strength back.
Lord Vishnu advised the demigods to form an alliance with the demons and search for the Amrita by churning the ocean, and to share it with them. The demigods shocked by this, Lord Vishnu reassured them that he wouldn’t really let the demons obtain the nectar.
The searching for Amrita took many attempts with various methods. The demigods and demons ran into many obstacles, one being that the churning of the ocean produced a dangerous poison, which only Lord Shiva (the destroyer) was strong enough to remove. As he pursued to drink this poison away, his wife Parvati (the goddess of love and devotion) knew that even the strongest god, couldn’t survive from this. She quickly pressed on his neck not allowing the poison to go down his throat and in return, saved his life.
As the demigods and demons proceeded to churn the ocean, many divine objects began to emerge. Some of these objects included Kamadhenu (the devine cow), a white horse, Kalpavriksha (the wish fulfilling tree) and Sri Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth). Sri Lakshmi was also the wife of Lord Vishnu and was reunited with him on this day after being separated from him for many years.
As the demigods and demons continued churning, a young and handsome man appeared. His name was Lord Dhanvantari (the divine physician) and he brought with him the knowledge of health, longevity and medical arts. He was holding a chakra (energy point) and a pot of Amrita. The greedy demons realized that the container was full of the nectar and quickly snatched it from Lord Dhanvantari. This caused a quarrel between the demigods and demons. Witnessing this fight, Lord Vishnu decided to trick the demons by changing his appearance into Mohini, a beautiful woman, and lured the demons while recovering the nectar pot from them. He then distributed it only to the demigods. As soon as the demigods drank it, they felt their energy arise and in return, successfully defeated the demons. The demigods worshipped Lord Vishnu and Sri Lakshmi for all that they had done for them and resumed their lives in heaven.
It is said that life is also similar to the process of churning. A person has to experience the process of churning before being able to extract the nectar of life. It is also believed that during this process, God himself helps in different forms.
Practising yoga is also a process of churning, which gives nectar immortality to the soul and rewards you with a better quality of life. Until a few decades ago, it was embedded in people’s minds that the practice of yoga was a magical performance. In recent times, yoga is mainly looked upon as a set of techniques or exercises useful for achieving fitness in a person’s daily life, and it can be used as a type of prevention or cure for some specific diseases and disorders.
But the goal of yoga is different. Yoga is a science to develop the sixth sense to its fullness and to enable and equip a human being to enjoy a peaceful and blissful life. It is an art of understanding the relationship of the soul with the body, the society, the world, and the universe. The term yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root Yuj, which means to join or unite.
The practice of yoga leads to the unity of individual consciousness with that of the universal consciousness, creating a pure harmony between the mind, body and soul. Different varieties of yoga are practised for different purposes. The final goal of all varieties of yoga is self-realization.
Follow me as I tell you about the roots of yoga and useful health tips about all the different types of yoga’s in the upcoming issues.
Let us start our journey of YogAmrita!