Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Leon Brangk, PhD in Theology
The word yoga etymologically derives from the Indo-European etymon yug, Joch in German, ζεύγ in Greek and it means accompaniment, yoking, meaning the communion between the individual ego and the divine element. According to the way of understanding the divine element, either as one of the countless divinities of Hinduism the number of which, according to some estimations, reaches up to 300 millions (!), or by way of an impersonal form there is not only one type of yoga, but a lot. Yet we can add here those forms of yoga where the deeds of people are highlighted. Yet, the final purpose of all these forms is the same, the release of the inner man from the endless cycle of reincarnations that in essence represents the end of existence. Meaning that yoga has a pure religious content or rather an idolatrous one because the Hindu pantheon, as well as the impersonal acceptance of the divine essence are clearly based on the human fantasy and absolutely oppose the common human mind and the worldly reality we live in.
We will mention the following characteristics about the Hindu Pantheon: The huge number of idol-gods (some with human shape – with four arms and legs – others half people half animals, other with an animal shape) gives everyone an unlimited possibility to choose the god that better fits his passions. Within the fundamental trinity of Hindu gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are presented as follows: the first as creator, the second as conservative and the third as destroyer of what the first creates and the second preserves. Sometimes only Shiva that by excellence identifies with the yoga ideal is presented together with the three characteristics.
In Bhagavad Gita (a text “inspired by God”, a sort of “gospel” of the contemporary Hinduism) we see god Krishna teaching people different types of yoga, meaning the ascetic forms that lead to the communion with God. In parallel in the Hindu tradition is illustrated that Krishna cheated 16.000 married shepherdesses who gave him 180.000 sons. Ganges river is considered as a divinity in Hinduism and therefore taking a bath in the river, especially in Benares city (the present Varanasi), the holy city of Shiva, is considered to be a purification of sins for the one who does this . We would especially like to mention that the river water in this city has an incredible contamination level as a result of the urban and industrial wastes, as well as of the remains originating from the burning of dead (the percent of bacteria in this point of Ganges exceeds for 10.000 times more the allowed limit.)
The basic purpose of yoga, that we previously mentioned, is better understood within its oldest formulation in a Hindu holy text called Upanishads (800-500 BC) In this text prevails the belief that the world we live in and our life itself are something negative. The only good thing that exists is a shapeless absolute divine element that cannot be determined and exists at the base and in the depths of the earthly reality and that is called Brahman. A part of this Brahman exists in the depths of every being, and there it is called Atman. It is compared with the shapeless air from a bottle that nobody sees, while the bottle that can be seen and has a shape is compared with the physical body, with the outward form of man. Between the physical body and the divine element is placed – according to this conception – the mind, that has the characteristic to necessarily be attached to something and therefore this attachment results in forming the identity of man. Thus the mind, according to the position it has, can be focused either on the divine element or on the material element in its various forms. The more the mind stays attached to corporeal things, the more the individual existence, due to the absolute power of Karma law, stays as prisoner within the cycles of reincarnation. When it returns and unites with the divine element, it will be set free from this cycle.
For Hinduism, life itself – due to the endless cycles of reincarnations – is extremely painful without any perspective, it is something that anyone should be disgusted of. Man as a being values nothing, had no uniqueness as long as each individual existence is continuously in an unstable situation, in a state of transition to other forms of existence. Moreover the probabilities that someone could be reborn as a human in his next reincarnation would be extremely low if he did not make any essential progress in yoga. But which is that element of existence that goes through the hundreds of thousands forms of reincarnation cycle? Here it is clearly obvious the impossibility of a rational explanation. They call it “sensible essence”, “ethereal body” without being aware of what it is or what they are talking about, as it is clearly obvious. On what grounds could this undefined element that does not even have the awareness of its own existence be led to a “perfection” of existence within the karma law? No matter how things stand, for a Hindu the idea of salvation, of completeness, of perfecting the man within his connection with God and human fellows is unconceivable. Hinduism knows only the notion of setting free, release from the endless reincarnation cycle, escape from life itself. The ideal of Hinduism is the end of the individual existence that can only be achieved through yoga. Therefore, yoga is the method that leads to final death or, to express it through the words of the holy writings from Hinduism, to destroy the individual existence within the absolute divine element, Brahman, as a drop of water lost in the ocean. This situation is described in the ideal of Brahman yogis that, within the last stage of Yoga, come to the point when they do not eat anymore or communicate with their environment, they stop being aware of their own body and eventually die in this absolute isolation state, they experience the conscience of their freedom, meaning that the torture of life will stop and therefore they will not reincarnate anymore.
Therefore the human relationships are not comprised in the ideal of Yoga. Only in the initial stage they are somehow applied and even then not in the real meaning of a communion, of the real interest for the other, but only for the sake of a reward. By doing good deeds you can have a better reincarnation. The individual ego is the center of it. The highest manifestation of this lack of communication are the authentic expressions of yoga, the guru masters.
The word guru means “the one who dispels the darkness”. They are very advanced in yoga and they are spiritual guiders of the others. Their adepts – I am very aware of my choice for the word “adept” as we will further see – consider that through the physical body of the guru divine energies are manifested and that they transmit the divine sparkle. The gurus admit about themselves that they are enlightened souls, very rare in the history of humanity. They go after and pleasantly and naturally accept worship acts addressed to them as if they were divine existences. Long years of practicing meditation, that work like an autosuggestion, created them this unaltered belief and certitude. Such types of worships for their person are, for instance, the ovations of the crowd of their adepts and the bow of their adepts by laying on the ground in front of themselves and offering them gifts, as well as the impressive practice (within the Maharathi or Hare Krishna movement) when enthroning a guru they wash his feet with yoghurt and afterwards this yoghurt is drunk by his partaker adepts. Within this conception of the world and of their own, within this tomfoolery of their self-worship they consider very natural any kind of exploitation of the beings below them, as the members of their movement.
As for the adepts, the absolute communion with the guru is based on their belief that he is the absolute center of their lives and therefore they live and work only for the guru. They accept that the guru applies the so-called “resection of their ego” so that they become absolute doers of his will, meaning faithful slaves for him, hoping that they will once become loyal copies of arrogance on a heady level, “personalities” of the guru.
In 1995, in Japan, carrying out blindly the orders of the Asahara guru, his adepts committed a terrorist attack in the metro from Tokyo with Sarin poisoning gas. Its result was 12 deaths and 5500 wounded people amongst that mostly became invalids for the rest of their lives. An unalienable element of the adepts is represented by the so-called “divine tribute”, meaning to lay all their goods at the feet of the guru. Through this act they are indebted and grateful to their guru because he did not reject but accepted them and released them from this difficulty that represents a stumbling stone and struggle for the adepts. The crown of this enslavement to the guru is illustrated in the following unbelievable situation as well: In case it is proved that the adepts were victims of a charlatan guru, they have to stay faithful to him and continue to serve him because he is what they deserved. By staying faithful to him they will surely have a “better” guru in their future reincarnation.
Lots of our Greeks who practice yoga will surely sustain that the yoga they practice has nothing to do with this religious form of Hindu Yoga. Yet it would be good to be aware that lots of yoga teachers with “European” prescription studied and were instructed, for instance, in Satyananda Ashram, that holds a very well developed network of yoga-ashram centers (here in Greece as well) and whose belief is exactly the same with the aforementioned one.
Generally speaking, the same things apply for the Silva Mind Control that although does not appear under the veil of yoga, still uses oriental techniques as well as “HUMAN center” of Sri Chinmoy guru and similar movements from world wide networks. There is nothing worse than this. What does the “law” of karma has to do with the belief in reincarnation, in an impersonal fantastic divine element or in Hindu deities? Even there where yoga presents itself as a simple gymnastics, it does not have anything to offer. As the experts claim, the basic problem of the contemporary man is his lack of physical activity both at his workplace and in his free time. And yoga, instead of supporting movement, it limits it even more through its sedentary exercises.
It is a certainty that in the western countries, yoga is an exceptional trap, very intelligently placed and attracts the Europeans and Americans to the Hindu civilization. The impact on them is carried out through religious music, Indian cuisine, discussions about reincarnation, karma, secret forces of man and so on. Through “mantras” – short phrases used during mediation that usually express the worship of a Hindu deity – the naïve Western people who are very enthusiastic of this world are initiated in the Hindu idolatry. And for those even more naïve the name of Christ is associated with Buddha, Krishna, Ramakrishna and so on as a personality on a separated spiritual plan, as one of the saviors of the world.