Classical Yoga may be defined as yoga that is based on the instructions of the Siva-samhita, Gheranda-samhit, and Patanjala Yoga – Sutra. The word ‘yoga’ is derived from two roots, one meaning ‘concentration’ and the other meaning ‘union’ – that is, the union of the individual self and the Supreme Self. The word ‘yoga’ is derived from the same Sanskrit root as the English word ‘yoke’, meaning ‘to join’. According to Patanjala Yoga-Sutra, yoga is cittavrtti nirodha – that is, restraining the citta, or mind, from taking various forms. Here yoga means concentration. But in Raja- yoga, which is traditionally considered a branch of the Tantra - sastra, yoga means both concentration and union, in the sense of union of the individual self with the Supreme Self. Again, yoga is broadly divided into two parts, Hatha-yoga and Raja-yoga. Hatha-yoga, also known as Kriya-yoga, is primarily concerned with keeping the body strong and healthy.
This book is the upshot of a Seminar on Some Responses to Classical Yoga in the Modern Period which was organized by the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Gol Park, Kolkata, on 3 and 4 January, 2009 in the Vivekananda Hall.
The papers which were presented at the Seminar, generated much interest and enthusiasm among the audience. And to meet the growing interests of the people worldwide in the yoga philosophy, the Institute decided to publish the papers, along with the discussions which followed the paper-reading sessions, in the form of a full-fledged book.
The word ‘yoga’ means the cessation of all modifications of citta or the intellect. A Dictionary of Philosophy interprets yoga as ‘One of the systems of Indian philosophy. The old school was closely related to the Samkhya, but specialized in the cultivation and interpretation of the meditational exercises of yoga. Its teaching was first systematized in the Yoga-Sutras attributed to Patanjali (possibly 4th or 5th century AD) and the philosophical implications of the Sutras were discussed by Vyasa (possibly 500 AD) in his commentary.’
Since it was a two –day Seminar, the first day was a ceremonial one which began at 5:30 p.m. with a Vedic chanting by the monks and brahmacarins. It was followed by an address of welcome by the Secretary of the Institute.
Then Swami Prabhananda, the General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, delivered his inaugural speech.
Dr B R Sharma delivered the Keynote address. Dr Ramaranjan Mukherji who presided over the Seminar, gave his presidential address. This Programme concluded at 7:30 p.m.
On 4 January, there were four academic sessions which began at 9:30 a.m. The ten subject-experts from home and abroad presented their respective papers during these sessions. The first paper of the Session was presented by Swami Bhajananandaji Maharaj of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math. The curtain of the seminar fell with the presentation of a paper by Swami Atmapriyananda of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math.
All such highly learned papers brought to the fore the various facets of the ancient yoga and illumined the minds of the listeners who attended the Seminar.
It would be deemed a worthwhile endeavour if this publication fulfils the aspirations of the readers.
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