It is well known that Vedanta, yoga and meditation have become very popular around the world. However, it is to be noted that they have their source in the eternal Vedas and Vedic Hindu literature. Vedanta refers to not only ending portions of the Vedas but also the essence of the Vedas that emphasize the spiritual knowledge (Jnana). Vedanta deals with the relationship between the God, universe and individual soul. Although there are several Vedantic approaches such as Advaita, Vishishtaadviata, Dvaita etc., they all refer to the Vedas as the transcendental authority and Bramhan as the Independent and Ultimate Truth (Bramha Satyam). Important qualities
such as devotion, compassion, forgiveness etc are emphasized for spiritual development. The need for an acharya or guru is essential in understanding and practice of scriptural guidelines. The important role of karma has to be understood. Thus Vedanta through the
Prasthanatrayi, namely Upanishats, Bramhasutras and Bhagavadgita has become the universal and eternal philosophical foundations of Vedic Hinduism. The Bhagavadgita is a shastra (scripture) for both Bramhavidya and Yoga.
It is important to note that yoga and meditation have their roots in Vedas and Vedic literature. Vedanta and yoga are the theoretical and practical aspects in the pursuit of realization of Bramhan. The sole purpose of yoga is the realization of original and normal state.
Yoga is not merely restricted to poses and acrobatic postures with impressive demonstrations. The Katha upanishat, Bhagavadgita and Patanjali’s yogasutras are some of the important major references on yoga. It is to be noted that the Ashtanga Yoga of Vedic Hinduism is a systematic approach to reach the spiritual goal of original and normal state of bliss. Ashtanga yoga means eight-limbs of the yoga. Meditation is the seventh step in this approach. The eight-fold Ashtanga yoga briefly consists of Yama (self-control) and Niyama (disciplines) dealing with practices related to physical and mental disciplines. Asana deals with the practice of physical
postures integrating the flexibility of the body and breathing patterns. Pranayama deals with the control and regulation of Prana or vital forces. Pratyahara deals with the practice of withdrawing the consciousness from the multiplicity of thoughts and directing it toward the inner-self. Dharana deals with the development of the ability of the mind to focus and contain a sacred object. Dhyana is the meditation or continuous concentration on the sacred object. The nature and quality of the object of meditation is extremely important. The continuous concentration is compared to that of an unbroken flow of oil and non-flickering flame of a lamp. These seven steps lead the seeker to Samadhi referring to the level of original and normal state and super-consciousness. The
order mentioned in this Ashtanga yoga is important. A yogi who has realized and is established in this original and normal state is able to provide genuine guidance as a sadguru or acharya to the sincere and devoted seeker. Ashtanga yoga through its scientific and practical approach deals with all aspects of human development such as physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual
development. In the words of a seer-yogi Sriranga Sadguru, ” The customs and habits, the dress and ornaments, the manners and etiquette, the conceptions of right and wrong and of good and evil, the learning, literature and the various arts like music, the political
thoughts, views regarding all action and the consecratory ceremonies, etc., of the Indians (Bharatiyas) are all permeated like the warp and woof by Ashtanga Yoga.”