On the very first sutra of the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali, Vyasa defines:
Yoga [means] samadhi.
The most authentic ancient text of Ayurveda, Charaka-samhita, states:
Yoga is that which impels and grants spiritual liberation (moksha)
In the classical Kannada text Shunya-sampadane we read: Allama Prabhu enters Animishadeva’s meditation chamber and witnesses
His corporal sense decorporalised;
His will stilled in willlessness;
His eye held in fixity;
His sight blotted;
His lashes unblinking;
His consciousness steady;
The tremor of his sense of himself abolished;
His sense of the other stopped;
The gap between ‘two’ vanished;
Himself become all himself;
Bearing all his impulses on a point where mind dwindles to nought;
Having fulfilled to himself the meaning of the doctrine
“Void (shunya) at the top
Void at the base
Void at the centre”;
Free from defect;
All empty of mental appearances ---
These are the characteristics of one who is in [samadhi] trance—
[having] become an image absorbed in the trance of Reality.
Shunya-sampadane, First Upadesha,vachana 19
(translated by S.C. Nandimath, L.M.A.Menezes, R.C. Hieremath)
How far are we from this definition and this goal of yoga in our day to day practices and the interpretation of yoga?
In the dialogue between the Greek king Menander (Milinda in Pali) and Bhikshu Nagasena, in Milindapanha (a Pali text), (partially paraphrased here) we are advised:
One who practices the sadhana of yoga has five qualities of the ocean.
The ocean does not keep a dead body as such for long. So, the practitioner of yoga does not let abide in himself the defects like
attraction, aversion, confusion, pride, self-adoration, boasting, jealousy, envy, malice, deceit, crookedness, roughness, bad moral conduct, affliction.
Even though the ocean holds in itself pearls and many kinds of jewels, but keeps them concealed, so should a sadhaka of yoga attain in himself the jewels like right path, fruits [of sadhana], meditation, samadhi, coalascence, insight, wisdom and so forth. These one should keep concealed and not put on display.
The Ocean keeps an association with the largest o f creatures. So should a sadhaka of yoga keep company with a great monk who has these qualities : one who desires very little, is contented, speaks with a steadiness, has pure conduct, is modest,soft-natured,deep, venerable, eloquent, zealous, rejecting vice, listener of the precepts of others, granting precepts to others, an expounder, guide to the right path, generating a sentiment of dedication in others by his homilies of dharma, and a benefactor.
As the occean receives the waters of all thousands of rivers as well as streams from the clouds, yet it does not break its boundaries, so a sadhaka of yoga receiving benefit, respect, prostrations, honours, yet should not break the boundaries of the precepts.
As the occean receives the waters of all thousands of rivers as well as streams from the clouds, yet it does not become all full [unable to receive more], so a sadhaka of yoga must never be satiated in learning, conversing about dharma, listening to the precepts of others, contemplating these, examining these, studying the depths of philosophy and sacred texts…
Milinda-panha-pali. 6 Opamma-katha-panhe,
2 samudda-vaggo, 10 samuddanga-panho
I wish all sadhakas and participants of yoga events success in such a yoga.
Yogo vah sa-phalee-bhooyaat.