Tuesday, July 20, 2010

For Those Who Have Nothing

Last week, in one of our class discussions, we wondered about the reams of writings on yoga - What is necessary? What is useful? What is desirable?- according to various accomplished yogis. This is a confusing area, strewn with subjectivity, many times topics are described in the absence of context or level of difficulty.

Finally, our yoga teacher gave his own views, repeating several times that yoga is for those who have nothing. Nothing? Not exactly - but what he meant was that people who have already attained control over their minds, their physical selves don't really need most of these practices. But for the average person, physical health is necessary to carry out most of what one wants to achieve, and along with this a certain peace of mind and sense of satisfaction are desirable. For this person (which includes most of us), yoga is a simple step towards staying healthy and peaceful. There are many different approaches to yoga based on our specific temperaments and affinities.

In a more physical sense too, all one really needs to practice yoga, is a bit of land or a part of a room, where one might be undisturbed. In addition, having a yoga mat is perhaps not asking for too much! And of course, a bit of time. But that is all it takes to begin.

Somehow, the phrase 'for those who have nothing' stayed in my mind and I began thinking of the verses composed by Adi Shankaracharya (an eighth century spiritual preceptor) in his Atma Shatakam (the song of the self). According to the story about him, when he was eight years old, he was walking through the Himalayas in search of a guru. He met a sage (the teacher he was searching for)who asked him who he was. The young boy replied with this Sanskrit poem, of which I quote a few lines:

Mano Buddhi Ahankara Chitta Ninaham
Nacha Shrotra Jihve Na Cha Ghrana Netre
Nacha Vyoma Bhoomir Na Tejo Na Vayu
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham

I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego,
nor the reflections of the inner self
I am not the five senses.
I am beyond that.
I am not the ether, nor the earth,
nor the fire, nor the wind (etc. - the five elements).
I am indeed,
That eternal knowing and bliss,
I am Shiva, I am Shiva.

Na Punyam Na Papam Na Saukhyam Na Dukham
Na Mantro Na Teertham Na Vedo Na Yajnaha
Aham Bhojanam Naiva Bhojyam Na Bhokta
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham

I have neither merit,
nor demerit.
I do not commit sins or good deeds,
nor have happiness or sorrow,
pain or pleasure.
I do not need mantras, holy places,
scriptures, rituals or sacrifices.
I am none of the triad of
the observer or one who experiences,
the process of observing or experiencing,
or any object being observed or experienced.
I am indeed,
That eternal knowing and bliss,
I am Shiva, I am Shiva.


Romesh said...
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Romesh said...


Romesh said...

Truly inspiring........Malhan

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