In order not to derail Asuri’s thread with the discussion that has just restarted between me and Scales, and also with Lotusgirl in another thread, I decided to start a new topic on this matter, where we can deal with this controversial issue once and for all. It will keep cropping up, because it is obvious that not everybody agrees that Yoga is not Hinduism.
My position on this matter is already well known. Yoga is absolutely Hinduism. The word itself is Hinduism in a nutshell: Self-realization. The spiritual practice of uniting the individual soul(us) with the supreme soul or connecting with the absolute reality(Brahman) that underlies all of reality. This is the supreme goal of Hinduism. Just like entering the kingdom of god and being with Jesus is the goal of Christianity. The word Yoga is a Sanskrit word which is the sacred language of Hinduism(like Hebrew is of Judaism) and it is the language of the Vedas. The first mention and description of Yoga is indeed in the Vedas. The most popular Hindu scripture, the Bhagvad Gita, is a treatise on Yoga. The classical text of Yoga, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, is a Hindu scripture. The same goes for the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Shiva Samhita and Yoga Vasistha.
To suggest to a Hindu that Yoga is not Hinduism is as absurd as suggesting that Buddha is not Buddhism and Christ is not Christianity.
Now for the perspective of others:
by Swami Param
Understanding (real) Yoga is Hinduism is the issue. A simple bit of research will uncover that all of (real) Yoga is Hinduism. So, where does that leave the so-called “yoga” of today? In a word, the “yoga” of today is phony. Just imagine “Certified Baptism Teachers” (and non-Christian, at that) opening “Baptism Studios.” “Underwater Therapy: $20 a class.” This ridiculous scene is the phony yoga movement of today.
Real Yoga are the many, progressive teachings and practices of Hinduism; taught by qualified Hindus and never for a fee. Yoga is a Sanskrit/Hindu word meaning, “Yuj Atman Brahman ca;” e.g. "to yoke Atman (individual Soul) and Brahman (Soul Source). The various Yogas constitute the Hindu religion: Karma Yoga (ethics), Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Raja Yoga (meditation/contemplation) and Jnana Yoga (enlightenment). There are several Yogas within these classic Hindu Yogas such as Mantra Yoga (chanting), Japa Yoga (chanting on Hindu prayer beads), Nada Yoga (music) and Hatha Yoga (Hindu devotional postures). This latter Hindu/Yoga is the one most often distorted with one hears the word “yoga.”
Like all the Hindu Yogas, real Hatha Yoga is profound in-depth. Real Hatha Yoga are devotional postures worshiping the Soul within; the elements; nature; the creatures in nature; Hindu teachers and Hindu Spirit Beings. Actually, the recorded evidence of the many Hatha Yoga asanas actually comes much later in Hindu history. And, strikingly, in this Hatha Yoga Pradapika, the student is warned to keep Hatha Yoga secret! Why?
All one has to do is look at the so-called “yoga” today. The Hindu Seers realized that if you give the naive something like Hatha Yoga (which has a strong physical component), they will perverted into that which it is not suppose to be-glorification of the body. Today’s phony yoga and phony teachers revel in the ego-centric characteristics of picture, personality and price tag.
It is not a coincidence that the so-called “modern yoga” has produced numerous sexual and monetary scandals. Actually, the “role models” for this unethical behavior came from India and set upon deluding “star-struck” western devotees. So, what is the solution to this madness? Simply stop pretending to teach this phony Yoga. If interested in real Yoga, prospective students should look to Hindus and Hindu organizations to learn Hinduism and its various Yogas. Perhaps some of these more serious students will do the right thing and formally become a Hindu and then perhaps a teacher. Anything short of what should be a common sense approach to real Yoga, is to perpetuate a delusion.