Yoga is Beyond Religion
What is yoga? I think it is better I tell you what is not yoga. So much misinterpretation has happened that speaking about what is not yoga is more...
What is yoga? I think it is better I tell you what is not yoga. So much misinterpretation has happened that speaking about what is not yoga is more relevant. Standing on your head is not yoga, holding your breath is not yoga, twisting your body is not yoga.
Yes, these are various yogic practices, but when we say “yoga,” we are referring to a certain state – a certain way of being. The word “yoga” means “union.” Union means you begin to experience the universality of who you are.
For example, today, modern science proves to you beyond any doubt that the whole existence is just one energy manifesting itself in various forms. If this scientific fact becomes a living reality for you; that you begin to experience everything as one, then you are in yoga.
Once you experience yourself as everything, or everything as yourself, after that, nobody has to tell you how to be in this world. If you experience all the people here as yourself, does anybody have to teach you morals as to how to be? Does anybody have to tell you “Don’t harm this person, don’t kill this person and don’t rob this person?” When you are in yoga, you experience everything as a part of yourself. That is liberation, that is mukti, that is ultimate freedom.
Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is a science. As there are physical sciences to create external wellbeing, yoga is the science for inner wellbeing. It is just that, yoga as a science, evolved and was developed in this land of Indus, this civilisation which grew on the banks of river Sindhu or Indus. So it was identified as Hindu. Slowly, people have started identifying yoga as Hindu.
The word “Hindu” has come from the word “Sindhu,” which is the river. Because this culture grew from the banks of the river Sindhu, this culture got labeled as Hindu. We need to understand this – Hindu is not an ‘ism’; it is not a religion.
You can worship a man-god and be a Hindu, you can worship a woman-god and be a Hindu, you can worship a cow and be a Hindu, you can give up all worship and still be a Hindu. It does not ascribe to any particular belief system. You can do whatever is best for you and still be a Hindu because it is a geographical and cultural identity, not a religious identity.
So, yoga has nothing to do with any particular religion, it is a science for inner wellbeing. If you call yoga Hindu, it is just like, you are saying the theory of relativity is Jewish. So from whatever cultural or religious background a certain scientist came, you will not identify that aspect of science with that religion. Similarly, yoga need not and should not be identified with any religion. It is the science for inner wellbeing.
Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic and visionary, and a prominent spiritual leader. www.ishafoundation.org