Daṇḍavats _______ Prabhu,
All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Yoga or bhoga, that is the question!
My āśrama in South India is located on the outskirts of Mysore, the present day capitol of ashtanga-yoga in India. The so-called aṣṭāṅga-yoga taught in Mysore that has spread around the world is certainly nothing more than a little haṭha–yoga. It is simply a cheating business in the name of yoga.
In Mexico we have successfully influenced the “aṣṭāṅga-yoga” community and three of the most popular instructors have become initiated devotees in our community. Now they understand what real yoga is and they share the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, kīrtana and japa with their students. The trick is to influence the yoga community and not allow the so-called aṣṭāṅga-yoga to influence the Kṛṣṇa conscious community. In Mexico we are registered with the government as The Krishna Yoga Community )since the name International Society for Krishna Consciousness was already taken :) )
In Prabhupāda’s Gītā, he has described aṣṭāṅga-yoga in several places as inferior to Kṛṣṇa consciousness (bhakti–yoga) — that we clearly understand. However, we did some extensive research and found that real aṣṭāṅga-yoga means bhakti–aṣṭāṅga and was taught by the Narasiṁha-avatāra to his disciple Prahlāda.
The Sthala Purāṇa (Sanskrit records) of the Yogānanda Narasiṁha Temple in Ahobilam, India, states that after killing the great demon Hiraṇyakaśipu, the Narasiṁha-avatāra taught His devoted disciple Prahlāda the Bhakti–aṣṭāṅga-yoga system. In the Kāmasikāṣṭakam, Narasiṁha is also known as ‘yoga nijam śikṣayān’ – meaning one who teaches the yoga system to those who submit to Him.
In much older and original Vedic/Sanskrit literatures such as the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, Skanda Purāṇa, Nāradīya Purāṇa, Agni Purāṇa and Garuḍa Purāṇa, the Bhakti–aṣṭāṅga system has also been described:
ahiṁsā satyam asteyaṁ yāvad-artha-parigrahaḥ
brahmacaryaṁ tapaḥ śaucaṁ svādhyāyaḥ puruṣārcanam
sthairyaṁ prāṇa-jayaḥ śanaiḥ pratyāhāraś cendriyāṇāṁ
viṣayān manasā hṛdi sva-dhiṣṇyānām eka-deśe
manasā prāṇa-dhāraṇam vaikuṇṭha-līlābhidhyānaṁ
“One should practice yamas and niyamas such as non-violence, truthfulness, the avoidance of theft, being satisfied with one’s own possessions, practicing celibacy, austerity, cleanliness, studying the Vedas and worshiping the Supreme Person. One should observe silence, sit in a comfortable position, controlling the breath, withdrawing the senses from sense objects and thus concentrate upon the heart.
Using the mind, one should fix the life-airs in one spot and meditate upon the pastimes of the Supreme in Vaikuṇṭha. Thus the mind attains samādhi.” (Bhāgavata Purāṇa 3. 28.4-6)
aṣṭāṅga-yogasyabhyasaḥ śreṣṭhaḥ sādyaḥ phala-pradaḥ
yamaś ca niyama brahmann-āsananyāsusamyamaḥ
pratyāhāro dhāraṇā ca dhyānam-aṅgam tu saptamam
samādhiś cāṣṭamam proktaṁ yogasy-ānukramena vai
“The practice of aṣṭāṅga–yoga is considered the best because it gives instant results. The first seven divisions are yama, niyama, āsana, praṇāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā and dhyāna. Samādhi is said to be the eight division.” (Skanda Purāṇa, Vaiṣṇava-khāṇḍa 30.9-10)
ajñānam nāśayed yogi yogena munisattama
aṣṭāṅgaiḥ siddhyate yogas tāni vakṣyāmi tattvataḥ
“A yogī destroys ignorance by means of yoga. Truly, it is said that this is accomplished through the aṣṭāṅga process.” (Nāradīya Purāṇa 33.72)
“Aṣṭāṅga–yoga is the means to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death.” (Agni Purāṇa 372.1)
ahiṁsādir yamaḥ proktaḥ śaucādir niyamaḥ smṛtaḥ
āsanaṁ padmakād yuktaṁ praṇāyāma marujjayaḥ
pratyāhāro jayaḥ prokto dhyānaṁ īśvara-cintanaṁ
mano-dhṛtir dhāraṇo syāt samādhir brahmaṇi sthitaḥ
“It is said that ahiṁsa etc are the yamas and śauca etc are the niyamas. Padma etc are called āsana. Full control over the breath is known as praṇāyāma. Conquering the senses is called pratyāhāra, and dhyānam is meditation upon the Supreme. Fixing the mind is known as dhāraṇā and samādhi is realisation of the Absolute Truth.” (Garuḍa Purāṇa 1. 44.9-11)
The 7th Chapter of the Sixth Canto of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (verses 9-95) is dedicated to the Bhakti–aṣṭāṅga-system. Similarly, we find in all the Pañcāratra literature, entire chapters (known as Yogapāda sections) that describe the process of Bhakti–aṣṭāṅga.
Furthermore, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, in his commentary to the Uddhava Gītā, 11th Canto, 12th chapter of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa has stated that there are twelve yamas and twelve niyamas to be derived from Vedic literature and observed in the practice of Bhakti–aṣṭāṅga. Yamas and niyamas being the first two aṅgas of the aṣṭāṅga-yoga system. The twelve yamas listed by Viśvanātha are as follows:
Ahiṁsa — non-violence
Satya — truthfulness
Asteya — refraining from stealing
Asaṅga — detachment
Hrī — humility
Asañcaya — non-possessiveness
Astikya — belief in the Supreme
Brahmacārya — continence/celibacy
Mauna — silence
Sthairya — steadiness
Kṣama — forgivness
Abhaya — fearlessness
The twelve niyamas listed by Viśvanātha are as follows:
Śauca — external & internal purity
Japa — chanting the maha-mantra on beads
Tapa — austerity
Homa — offering in sacrifice
Śraddhā — faith
Atithya — hospitality
Arcana — murti-puja
Tīrthātana — visiting holy places
Parartheha — working for the pleasure of the Supreme
Tuṣṭi — contentment
Ācārya–sevā — serving the guru
The result of all our research is that we have revived and rewritten the syllabus for aṣṭāṅga-yoga now titled Bhakti–aṣṭāṅga. I have attached a pdf file of that document.
I am not in favor of seeing ISKCON change its standards from what Śrīla Prabhupāda has given, but I am in favor of going outside and influencing the popular yoga communities with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. As Prabhupāda has said, “The trick is to catch the big fish and not get wet.” Seems however that ISCON is drowning, what to speak of getting a little wet.