Essence Of
Kurma Purana


18    Rudiments of Yoga Practice, Yoga Mahima and re-emphasis on the Oneness of Shiva-Narayana

Parameshwara himself describes to the Maharshis about the significance of Yoga in the quest of the Truth; just as Surya Deva is readily viewed on the Sky so could be the vision of Paramatma. Yogarupi Agni demolishes the store of sins and facilitates the attainment of such Jnaana that leads to Mukti.

Yogaat sanjaayatey Jnaanam Jnaanaad Yogah pravartatey,

Yoga jnaanaabhi yuktasya praseedati Maheshwarah/

(From Yoga is achieved Jnaana and Jnaanaa transforms Yoga to the further pursuit to Maheswara). Yoga practice might as well be performed once or twice or even thrice a day. Yoga could be in two forms: Abhaava Yoga or Maha Yoga; the former type aims at Nirvikalpa Swarupa or ‘Atma Sakshaatkara’ (Vision of the Inner Soul) while Maha Yoga targets  Parameswara (Super Soul).

The Ashtanga Yoga Sadhana has the following Eight-Steps viz. Yama-Niyama-Aasana-Praanayaama-Pratyaahara- Dharana-Dhyaana-Samaadhi. Briefly stated, Yama is meant by Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya or celibacy and Aparigraha (non-possession) and Yama purifies the heart and mind. Ahimsa is denoted by creating no problem at all by way of Mind, Conversation or Deed. Similarly, Satya or Truth should be such that it should not hurt any body and Asteya, Bramacharya and Aparigraha too should be such that one’s inner-conscience is clear in an objective manner. Niyama refers to Tapa, Swaadhyaaya, Santosha, Shoucha and Ishwara Puja. Tapa is meditation cum Upavaasas or fasting and observance of Vratas like Kruccha Chandrayana. Swadhyaaya or self-practice of recitation of Vedaanta Shastras, Shata Rudreeya and Pranava etc. providing Satwika-Vriddhi; Swaadhyaaya is of three types viz. Vaachika or Oral that could be heard by self and others, Upaamshu or which could be heard by the self and Manasika or what is recited mentally. Santosha means contentment and inner happiness or of  non-complaining nature. Shoucha includes Baahyaantara-Shuchi or physical and mental cleanliness and Ishwara Puja denotes Stuti by way of Manas or Mind, Vaani or recitation and Karma or deed perfoming Puja of Shodasopachaaras or the Sixteen kinds of Services like Dhyaana- Avaahana-Pushpa-Gandha-Naivedyas. Aasana is the prescribed way of comfortable Seating. Padmaasana is considered to be the best and that means keeping both feet lifted and placed on the opposite thighs. Pranaayama denotes regulation of the Prana or the Life-Air of a Being (actually Aayama means  nirodhana or stoppage). Recitation of Pranava Mantra viz. AUM by twelve times is called Dwadasha Matra; alternatively recitation of Gaytri Mantra viz. Om-Bhu-Bhuvah-Swah-Mahah-Janah-Tapah-Satyam three times is Tri Gayatri. Pranayama is denoted by Dwadasha Pranava or Tri Gayatri. A complete Pranayama consists of three operations viz. Rechaka or exhalation, Puraka is inhalation and retaining the  air is kumbhaka. Pratyahara involves managing the senses and going beyond them by conquering them instead of avoiding and suppressing them (taking cognizance of them but ignoring or sifting them) and that is a perfect starting point of commencing the stage of Dharana or practice of concentration; in fact the last three aspects of Ashtanga or the Eight-Limbed Yoga viz. Dharana, Dhyaana and Samadhi are the most crucial ones. Dharana is the skill of controlling the senses, rejecting the unimportant mental features and pushing the Self  inward on the way of Dhyaana. Imagining an ‘Ashtadala Kamala or an ‘Eight-leafed Lotus, one must concentrate on the Hiranmaya Kosha (Sheath) in which the Vishudda Parama Jyoti exists and nothing else would matter:  

Yetad guhyatamam dhyaamam dhyaanantaramathocchatey,

Chintayitwaa tu Purvoktam Hritaye Padmamuttamam/

Atmaanamatha kartaaram tatraanala samatvisham,

Madhye vahnishikhaakaaram Purusham Panchavimshikam/

Chintayet Paramaatmaanam tanmadhye Gaganam Param,

Omkaara bodhitam tatwam shaswatam Shivamachyutam/

( Indeed this is a guarded meditation: by envisaging a famed Lotus inside one’s own heart which should be prayed to as there is a splendrous Agni-like Profile with twenty five Tatwas enclosing Paramatma who is Unknown, absorbing Prakriti, filled with Omkara, Niranjana, Nitya, Maheswara). Maha Deva himself suggests the Pashupati Yoga Yoga which is the Essence of Vedas and is accessible to those who firmly believe in Brahmacharya, Ahimsa, Kshama or fortitude, Shoucha, Tapa, Dama, Santosha, Satya and Asthikata or Unswerved Faith in the Supreme as these are the pre -requisites of the Pashupata Vrata.[Refer to Essence of Linga Purana as translated and edited by the same Author for the details of the Vrata.]

 Parama Shiva says:

Veeta raaga bhaya krodhaa manmayaa maamupaashritaah,

Bahavenena yogena putaa madbhaavamaagataah/

Ye yathaa maam praadyantey taamstayaiva bhajaamyahjam,

Jnaana yogena maam tasmaad yajeta Parameshwaram/

Athavaa Bjhakti yogena Vairaagyena parena tu,

Chetasaa bodha yuktena pujayenmaamsadaa shuchih/

(Those who shun desire, fear and anger do approach me by performing the Pashupati Vrata and had all been blessed; they could adopt the medium of Jnaana Yoga or Bhakti Yoga but I relieve them of Samsara Bandhanas for good). He further affirms:

Adveshata Sarva bhutaanaam maitrah Karuna yevacha,

Nirmomaa nirahankaaro yo madbhaktah sa mey Priyah/

Santhushtah Satatam Yogi yatatatmaa drudha nischayah,

Mayyarpitamano buddhiryo madhaktah sa mey priyah/

Yasmaannuddejito loko Lokaannujjeto cha yah,

Harshaamarsha bhayodvegairmukto yah sa hi mey priyah/

Anapekshah Shuchirdaksha udaaseeno gatvyathah,

Sarvaarambha parityaagi Bhaktimaan yah sda mey priyah/      

( Those Bhaktaas who treat every Being without malice, hatred, and self-pride; but with friendliness, kindness and affection are dear to me; those who are contented, self-controlled, strong willed, ever-engaged in Yoga and totally dedicated to me are dear to me; those who neither get excited nor prone to exciting others, but are fearless, placid and composed are dear to me; those who never crave for worldly desires, but are ready to sacrifice, are impartial, are ready to face challenges of the right kindand are not non-starters due to hesitation are indeed near and dear to me.) Having given his preferences, Maha Deva underscores that his bhaktas should perform Shiva-Linga Puja always and any where that is clean and pro-active, but with extreme devotion and dedication- be it in water, inside Agni, addressed to Surya or Sky and even in one’s own heart! What is of signifiance is that any Puja to Shiva performed in faith, concentration and total bhakti and that shall be rewarded without doubt.

Re-emphasis on the Oneness of Shiva-Narayana: In the context of the above, Maha Deva emphasised again as in earlier pages about the identity of himself and Vishnu Deva; this was necessary since a seperate ‘Ishwara Gita’in the current Kurma Purana sought to clarify that its contents were in no way contradictory ; even in the description of Shiva Tandava described above, Vishnu too was stated to have joined the Celestial Dance! Maha Deva thus confirmed as follows:

Ayam Narayano yohameeshwaro naatra samshayah,

Naantaram ye prapashyanti teshaam Devamidam param/

Mamaushaa Paramaa Murtirnaaraayana samaahvayaa,

Sarva Bhutaatmabhutasthaa Shantaa chaakshara sangjnitaa/

Ye twanyathaa prapashyanti lokey bheda drusho janaah,

Na tey maam samprapashyanti jayentey cha punah punah/

Yetwimam Vishnu – mavyaktam maam vaa Devam Maheswaram,

Ekibhavena pashyanti na teshaam punarudbhavah/

Tasmaadanaadi nidhanam Vishnumaatmaanamayayam,

Maameva samprapashayadhvam Puja-yadhvam tathaiva hi/

Yenyathaa maam prapashyanti matvemam Devataantaram,

ye yantin Narakaan ghoraan naaham teshu vyavasthitah/

Murkham vaa Panditam vaapi  Brahmanamvaa madaasrayam,

Mochayaami shvapaakam vaa Naaraayana nindakam/

Tasmaadesha Maha Yogi Mad Bhaktaih Purushottamah,

Archaneeyo Namaskaarye Matpreeti jananaaya hi/

( That Narayana is Ishwara that is me undoubtedly. There is indeed no difference between us and he too is to be worshipped. Narayana is ‘Shaanti-Akshara’ imprinted in every body’s heart. Some imagine otherwise that we are figured other wise and they continue to get into the cycle of birth and death and could never ever attain Mukti. Those who visualise me and Narayana as just the same would have no rebirth. As such, Vishnu has no beginning or end as in my case, meaning thereby we are both the same. Those who confuse Vishnu as another Deva would for sure reach Narakas. Those who are my bhaktaas being either Murkhaas or Stupids, Panditas or Learned Vidvans or even untouchables should indeed have the possibility of Mukti, provided they do not  dislike or distrust him. Hence my  bhaktaas ought to perform puja to Vishnu with all humilty and belief.) Then both Vishnu and Shiva disappeared simultaneously, stated Vyasa Muni.

Veda Vyasa thus concluded ISHWARA  GITA  with the Phala Shruti that whosoever reads, or hears or anylises the contents of this important Part of Kurma Purana would be freed from sins and attain Brahma loka. 

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