Post By: Vishwanath Iyer Published on: December 13, 2016 Reading time: 30 minutes
School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (email@example.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control.
If one were to compare with the indestructible aśvattha tree with its roots above and branches below, the metering hymns are the leaves and one who knows the Vedas comprehends this. Also, below and above are its branches, nourished by the guṇa-s; sense-objects are its buds rooted in action and stretching its branches in the world of humans.
Thus, this fig tree (aśvattha) has no beginning, middle or end and needs to be cut with the axe of non-attachment. This goal should be sought, for reaching this condition, one merges with the Supreme Self.
Puruṣottama is a compound word of puruṣa (experiencer or identity) + uttama (supreme). This word can be rearranged as uttama-puruṣa or a person who has complete control of the experience or response to stimuli in any situation. This means that the person has an awareness that does not change under any circumstances. Consequently, this person can be called a “sthitaprajñā” or a person with steady situational awareness as described in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā Chapter 2 (śaṅkha-yoga).
Up until now, mankind has always enquired into the meaning of existence. This has mainly taken the form of trying to understand the Universe and a hierarchy for everything that exists within the Self (kṣetrajña). This enquiry can be broadly split into Western thought which is based on Greek logic as well as Abrahamic thought and Oriental thought, which has two major branches, the South Asian philosophy of Sanatana-dharma, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism along with the Chinese philosophy of Tao and Confucianism and Japanese Shinto. There are other schools of thought, but most of today’s peoples are covered by the above schools.
An important difference between the two streams of thought is that while the base of Western thought has been moulded heavily by shifting power and conquests, the fundamentals of Oriental thought have largely remained unaffected by conquest and remained unchanged over the centuries with some modification dictated by societal development.
Though Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā is very lucid in its explanation of concept and clarity of personal goals, it is a high-level document and not an easy starter kit! So, some DIY (do it yourself) solutions are required while the person works out the larger goals espoused by Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
So, it seems appropriate that one seeks an intermediate solution which can act as springboard to higher development. One place that one could search is the developments that became popular post World War 2 because the current world is largely shaped by that period and all of us subscribe to it directly or indirectly.
Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) – The journey into conditioning (dharma) is incomplete without Pavlov and his work on classical conditioning and reflex. Almost all conclusions of Pavlov reinforce the sanātana-dharma hypothesis that conditioning (dharma) determines personality (svabhāva).
However, dharma takes the concept further in two areas,
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) – Freud is often considered the father of psychoanalysis, using concepts such as free-association, transference, sexuality and id-ego-super ego etc. in the framework of psychoanalysis. The interesting aspect of psychoanalysis is its congruence with ancient Yoga concepts.
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) – in 1943, Abraham Maslow published his paper “Theory of Human Motivation” where he postulated that humans have a hierarchy with which they approach any need. He said that there are five stages of Motivation. It’s a hierarchy because a person will need to be complete in one need to be able to go to the next need. The hierarchy is;
Interestingly, it is possible to correlate the psychological state as propounded by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “Theory of Motivation” with energy vortices (cakra) in yoga-vidya. It is known in yoga-vidya and other forms of Oriental healing that rate of energy flow through these centres affects the behaviour of the person. As a matter of fact, ancient Oriental texts on this subject from India, China, Korea, and Japan speak of multiple energy vortices (cakra), but all agree that there are six major wheel locations in the human body which control all major organs.
The first of the energy vortices aligns itself with the perineum, a flat region above the coccyx and between the anus and genitals. This centre affects the physiological aspects of the individual, that is, the overall energy levels, feeling of safety and health.
Example: People in difficult situations squirm in their seats. When fears for personal safety overwhelm us, there is acute discomfort at the region of the anus. There is an urge to shift in the seat, and the need to relieve ourselves when fear is very great. The rocking action energises the mūladhāra-cakra.
This energy vortex corresponds to the sacral region around the genital area. It affects sexuality, social and communications skills of the individual. Control of this centre results in strong response control and emotional stability.
Example: After a heated argument, often there is an ache in the lower back. This occurs on account of our need to communicate effectively and to be able to convince the other person about our point of view and reinforce our sense of self-worth (asmitā). This strains the lumbar arch and often results in stress.
This energy vortex is placed around the navel and corresponds to the lumbar area of the spine. This is a centre that controls situational and management skills.
Example: Often, we hear about the gut feel or taking a decision from the gut! How is that possible? After all, it is the brain that decides. Or is it? The stomach does have a role, for the maṇipūra with its acids & bile is affected by blood flow in case of fight or flight stimulus. Consequently, this impacts the maṇipūra energy vortex and comfort in a social environment.
Placed at the centre of the chest at the sternum, this responds to the thoracic region on the spine. This is also the centre of emotional energy. A balanced anāhata is essential for emotional stability.
Example: Blood pressure is directly related to anger and speech. Generally, doctors advise a person to reduce speaking after a heart attack. Why? Because a person gets excited, the release of adrenaline has a direct impact on the heart & lungs.
This energy vortex is placed around the Adam’s apple and corresponds to the cervical region in the spine. The thyroid, parathyroid and lymphatic systems, which control metabolic activity reside here. Since metabolism is the ability of the body to convert food into usable energy and rebuilding of tissue, seamless energy flow here is critical.
This is also the area which controls breathing and food intake, so any disruption in our stress levels will immediately impact the quality of our breathing and digestion.
Example: When we are afraid, we often feel choked! Why? Because the prāṇa flow at the viśuddha is congested. The chocking action impacts the thyroid & parathyroid. Consequently, disruption of this centre can lead to various illnesses.
This energy vortex is placed between the eyebrows in the front of the cranium. It controls the functioning of the other energy vortices. It energizes the amygdala, pituitary and endocrine glands etc. and controls both, primary and secondary response. Consequently, this energy vortex is the primary input point for “fight or flight” stimulus.
One can see that the cakra system of yoga-vidya is highly evolved and can be used in therapy. Another important aspect is that yoga-vidya recognises that each of these vortices may be activated, depleted or congested to varying degrees and that this is an actively changing parameter. This makes the Yoga system subtle and sophisticated.
The only problem is that this system is not completely understood and its subtlety makes it hard to quantify or systematise. However, at an individual level, it is possible for a practitioner to cognise this science.
Hans Seyle (1907-1982) – Hans Seyle, an endocrinologist propounded the theory of stress where he described stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it”. He postulated that when there is stimulus which moves the person away from homeostasis (natural state of peace/ order/ harmony or dharma), the PTA axis (pituitary-hypothalamus-adrenal axis) is activated depending on the impact to the person’s self-worth (asmitā). As a result, the person experiences eustress / motivation (rāga) or distress / misery (dveṣa) and this triggers an internal as well as external (fight or flight) response (karma).
It is clear that there are many theories which are evolving in modern scientific space and that many of these “discoveries” are reinforcing concepts already embedded in sanātana-dharma and Yoga.
It might sound silly, but some of the best personality development concepts actually come from TQM (Total Quality Management) and Manufacturing Engineering principles. These principles are generic and full of common-sense, so they can be adapted by us for personal development to become puruṣottama (people of high calibre).
We can define a perfect person (puruṣottama) as one who can solve problems, find solutions and generate minimum waste. So, what steps would a typical problem-solving technique have?
Two interesting root cause identification techniques can be used in daily life also.
For example – If you missed a flight, then the first question would be – Why did I miss the flight. Let’s say, the answer is – I got up late. The second question would be – Why did I get up late? The answer might be – I slept late. The third question would be – Why did I sleep late… and this question-answer will continue until a root cause is identified.
In this technique the practitioner looks at both, that which is occurring as well as that which is not occurring. So, a lattice structure of what is working and what is not working gets constructed. This leads the person to identifying the root cause.
For example – Start by asking, what is the problem? Say, water is not draining from the kitchen sink. Is there obstruction? There is no debris in the sink. There is accumulated waste in the line.
Example 2 – Project getting delayed! Is – people are submitting reports late. Is not – project resources not available. Then ask – Is there review? Review is done every month. Review is not adequate. So, change review frequency.
Both practices have their uses in various situations and increase awareness (prajñā).
Once the root cause is identified, we need to find ways to improve and this means change! Since, change is not easy, the best path of change seems to be gradual and systematic effort (abhyāsa). Let us look at some of the concepts that come out of manufacturing.
1- Kaizen – Kai means change and Zen means good, so Kaizen means continuous improvement. While, this concept was designed primarily for manufacturing, it is applicable for personal development also because it allows people to change in a planned and structured manner that ensures risk to self-worth (asmitā) is minimised.
Since Kaizen focuses on continuous improvement in an iterative manner, it becomes a useful tool in puruṣottama-yoga, because yoga is all about increasing awareness (sthitaprajñā) and this effort requires constant application on oneself.
2- Quality Circles (satsaṃga) – Quality Circles or Cross-functional teams (CFT) are teams that comprise specialists and generalists who discuss a subject by bringing their unique experience and perspective. This develops everyone’s awareness (prajñā) since everyone is discussing the same subject with a specific objective (ekāgratā). So, when we are in the company of like-minded people, there is sharing of ideas, concepts, encouragement and maybe, even resources and kaizen (systematic improvement).
For example – if one has an interest in aeromodelling, then ideally one should join an aeromodelling club. Since people who come there have similar interests and have varying levels of expertise, experience, interest and capability, one will find opportunities to increase knowledge, capability, skills, find resources and occasions to practice, thus perfect the craft and become a puruṣottama.
सत्सङ्गत्वे निस्सङ्गत्वं निसङ्गत्वे निर्मोहत्वम्।
निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्वं निश्चलतत्वे जीवन्मुक्तिः॥९॥
satsaṅgatve nissaṅgatvaṃ nisaṅgatve nirmohatvam।
nirmohatve niścalatatvaṃ niścalatatve jīvanmuktiḥ॥9॥
Through the company of the wise or the good, there arises non-attachment; from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion; where there is freedom from delusion, there is abidance in self-knowledge, which leads to freedom while alive.
What does this verse mean? To become a puruṣottama (perfect person) is not easy. One requires extreme dedication (śraddhā) and commitment for salvation (mumukṣutvam) but that does not come easily. So, when the practitioner joins a group of like-minded people where they discuss and motivate each other, slowly the person is able to overcome inertia and delusion (tamas) with group support, capability building and encouragement (rajas) and strive for perfection.
This is a part of lean manufacturing and the key aspect is to maximise outcome by ensuring minimum resources are used in the conversion.
For example – when we water a garden with a hose-pipe, if there is a kink in the pipe, if the pipe has holes in it, or if the water is not being directed properly, the water flow is not going to be effective for its designed purpose. Muda is identifying anything that does not add value and eliminating it.
The ancient South Asian lean manufacturing system is called queue (paṅkti) in Sanskrit, pangat in Hindi and panthi in Tamil.
Introduction: paṅktis occur whenever there is a sacrifice (yajña). All sacrifices have a fire because fire is a transforming agent. For instance, ore is converted to steel by fire, crude becomes diesel and petrol by application of fire. So, fire (agni) is used in a sacrifice (yajña) to transform intent to outcome (saṅkalpa). Details of the sacrifice process (yajña) are given in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, Chapter 16.
A queue (paṅkti) occurs at the end of a sacrifice (yajña) because any sacrifice requires offering (naivedya) which becomes an outcome of peace (prasādam). This food is offered to all participants of the sacrifice (yajña) by the initiator of the yajña (yajamāna) in a set-up called queue (paṅkti).
A paṅkti is a place where people congregate for a sit-down meal. In South Asian cultures, food is considered central to awareness (prajñā). So, the attitude is that “we are what we eat”. This makes the paṅkti a very important set-up. Let us look at some of the parameters;
Quality Standards (ācāra)- The food must conform to the following standards.
Optimisation of effort and output (yajña): This means that the chef of any paṅkti must cover the following factors;
This calls for line-balancing, resource management, constraint/ emergency management skills among other management capabilities, but yes, ancient South Asia had a lean manufacturing philosophy and process which can be compared with modern manufacturing techniques.
Much of “discoveries” of today existed in the ancient oriental world, maybe under a different guise. Also, it is clear that Bhārat’s ancient ṛṣis were wise and full of common sense because, in addition to cognising the principles of effective-living, they found ways to integrate it into mundane existence, thereby making society a harmonious unit.
Lessons learned in Chapter 15.
There is a discernible degree of confluence between the concepts embedded in yoga-vidya and science as it unfolds. However, what is most important is that a person chooses those values from the many schools of thought that exist today (sat) that help in increasing awareness and help in becoming a perfect person (puruṣottama).
The Sanskrit diacritic words are in red italics.
ऊर्ध्वमूलमधःशाखमश्वत्थं प्राहुरव्ययम् ।
छन्दांसि यस्य पर्णानि यस्तं वेद स वेदवित् ॥ १५-१॥
अधश्चोर्ध्वं प्रसृतास्तस्य शाखा
गुणप्रवृद्धा विषयप्रवालाः ।
कर्मानुबन्धीनि मनुष्यलोके ॥ १५-२॥
Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (1-2) Rooted above, branches below, the fig tree, they say is indestructible. Its leaves are the Vedas and he that knows this knows the Vedas (ūrdhvamūlamadhaḥśākhamaśvatthaṃ prāhuravyayam । chandāṃsi yasya parṇāni yastaṃ veda sa vedavit ॥ 15-1॥). Below and above spread its branches, nourished by attributes, objects are its new shoots, below and roots continue the binding of action in the world (adhaścordhvaṃ prasṛtāstasya śākhā guṇapravṛddhā viṣayapravālāḥ । adhaśca mūlānyanusantatāni karmānubandhīni manuṣyaloke ॥ 15-2॥).
न रूपमस्येह तथोपलभ्यते
नान्तो न चादिर्न च सम्प्रतिष्ठा ।
असङ्गशस्त्रेण दृढेन छित्त्वा ॥ १५-३॥
ततः पदं तत्परिमार्गितव्यं
यस्मिन्गता न निवर्तन्ति भूयः ।
तमेव चाद्यं पुरुषं प्रपद्ये
यतः प्रवृत्तिः प्रसृता पुराणी ॥ १५-४॥
(3-4) This has no form as such, as such cannot be perceived, It has no end or origin, nor foundation. This ashvattam is cut by well-rooted people with the strong axe of non-attachment (na rūpamasyeha tathopalabhyate nānto na cādirna ca sampratiṣṭhā । aśvatthamenaṃ suvirūḍhamūlaṃ asaṅgaśastreṇa dṛḍhena chittvā ॥ 15-3॥). Then the goal that should be sought to go forth and not return again is by seeking refuge in the ancient primordial puruṣa when performing activity (tataḥ padaṃ tatparimārgitavyaṃ yasmingatā na nivartanti bhūyaḥ । tameva cādyaṃ puruṣaṃ prapadye yataḥ pravṛttiḥ prasṛtā purāṇī ॥ 15-4॥).
अध्यात्मनित्या विनिवृत्तकामाः ।
र्गच्छन्त्यमूढाः पदमव्ययं तत् ॥ १५-५॥
न तद्भासयते सूर्यो न शशाङ्को न पावकः ।
यद्गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम ॥ १५-६॥
(5-6) Free from pride and delusion, victorious over the affliction of attachment, dwelling constantly in the Self, turned away from passion and pairs of opposites, freed from what is known as pleasure and pain reach that undeluded eternal goal (nirmānamohā jitasaṅgadoṣā adhyātmanityā vinivṛttakāmāḥ । dvandvairvimuktāḥ sukhaduḥkhasaṃjñai rgacchantyamūḍhāḥ padamavyayaṃ tat ॥ 15-5॥). Sun does not illuminate it, nor does the Moon, nor fire. Once they reach, they do not return, that is my Supreme abode (na tadbhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ । yadgatvā na nivartante taddhāma paramaṃ mama ॥ 15-6॥).
ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूतः सनातनः ।
मनःषष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति ॥ १५-७॥
शरीरं यदवाप्नोति यच्चाप्युत्क्रामतीश्वरः ।
गृहीत्वैतानि संयाति वायुर्गन्धानिवाशयात् ॥ १५-८॥
(7-8) Even my Eternal aspect that has become a material Soul and participates in this world with the sixth aspect of cognition and sensory apparatus due to the engagement with prakṛti (mamaivāṃśo jīvaloke jīvabhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ । manaḥṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛtisthāni karṣati ॥ 15-7॥). When Īśvara obtains or leaves a body, it takes these just as a wind takes scent from its source (śarīraṃ yadavāpnoti yaccāpyutkrāmatīśvaraḥ । gṛhītvaitāni saṃyāti vāyurgandhānivāśayāt ॥ 15-8॥).
श्रोत्रं चक्षुः स्पर्शनं च रसनं घ्राणमेव च ।
अधिष्ठाय मनश्चायं विषयानुपसेवते ॥ १५-९॥
उत्क्रामन्तं स्थितं वापि भुञ्जानं वा गुणान्वितम् ।
विमूढा नानुपश्यन्ति पश्यन्ति ज्ञानचक्षुषः ॥ १५-१०॥
(9-10) With ear, eye, touch, taste and smell and even presiding over the cognition he experiences materiality (śrotraṃ cakṣuḥ sparśanaṃ ca rasanaṃ ghrāṇameva ca । adhiṣṭhāya manaścāyaṃ viṣayānupasevate ॥ 15-9॥). Whether leaving, staying or also enjoying, everything is based on the attribute. However, those that are deluded do not cognise this, only those of wisdom cognise (utkrāmantaṃ sthitaṃ vāpi bhuñjānaṃ vā guṇānvitam । vimūḍhā nānupaśyanti paśyanti jñānacakṣuṣaḥ ॥ 15-10॥).
यतन्तो योगिनश्चैनं पश्यन्त्यात्मन्यवस्थितम् ।
यतन्तोऽप्यकृतात्मानो नैनं पश्यन्त्यचेतसः ॥ १५-११॥
यदादित्यगतं तेजो जगद्भासयतेऽखिलम् ।
यच्चन्द्रमसि यच्चाग्नौ तत्तेजो विद्धि मामकम् ॥ १५-१२॥
(11-12) Yogis who strive see this dwelling in the Self, however immature Souls and those with low consciousness cannot cognise even with effort (yatanto yoginaścainaṃ paśyantyātmanyavasthitam । yatanto’pyakṛtātmāno nainaṃ paśyantyacetasaḥ ॥ 15-11॥). That light residing in the Sun which illuminates the whole world, which is also there in the Moon and Fire, know that light to come from my state (yadādityagataṃ tejo jagadbhāsayate’khilam । yaccandramasi yaccāgnau tattejo viddhi māmakam ॥ 15-12॥).
गामाविश्य च भूतानि धारयाम्यहमोजसा ।
पुष्णामि चौषधीः सर्वाः सोमो भूत्वा रसात्मकः ॥ १५-१३॥
अहं वैश्वानरो भूत्वा प्राणिनां देहमाश्रितः ।
प्राणापानसमायुक्तः पचाम्यन्नं चतुर्विधम् ॥ १५-१४॥
(13-14) Permeating the Earth, I support all beings with my vitality and nourish all herbs by becoming the watery Moon (gāmāviśya ca bhūtāni dhārayāmyahamojasā । puṣṇāmi cauṣadhīḥ sarvāḥ somo bhūtvā rasātmakaḥ ॥ 15-13॥). Having become fire in the body I abide as prāna and apāna and digest the four kinds of food (sweet, salt, astringent and sour) (ahaṃ vaiśvānaro bhūtvā prāṇināṃ dehamāśritaḥ । prāṇāpānasamāyuktaḥ pacāmyannaṃ caturvidham ॥ 15-14॥).
सर्वस्य चाहं हृदि सन्निविष्टो
मत्तः स्मृतिर्ज्ञानमपोहनञ्च ।
वेदैश्च सर्वैरहमेव वेद्यो
वेदान्तकृद्वेदविदेव चाहम् ॥ १५-१५॥
(15) And I am seated in the heart of all and from me comes memory and wisdom as well as their absence. And I am the wisdom of all the Vedas, even author of Vedānta and I am the knower of the Vedas (sarvasya cāhaṃ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtirjñānamapohanañca । vedaiśca sarvairahameva vedyo vedāntakṛdvedavideva cāham ॥ 15-15॥).
द्वाविमौ पुरुषौ लोके क्षरश्चाक्षर एव च ।
क्षरः सर्वाणि भूतानि कूटस्थोऽक्षर उच्यते ॥ १५-१६॥
उत्तमः पुरुषस्त्वन्यः परमात्मेत्युदाहृतः ।
यो लोकत्रयमाविश्य बिभर्त्यव्यय ईश्वरः ॥ १५-१७॥
यस्मात्क्षरमतीतोऽहमक्षरादपि चोत्तमः ।
अतोऽस्मि लोके वेदे च प्रथितः पुरुषोत्तमः ॥ १५-१८॥
(16-18) There are two puruṣa-s in the world, the perishable and imperishable. All beings are perishable and the imperishable is called kūṭastha (supreme soul) (dvāvimau puruṣau loke kṣaraścākṣara eva ca । kṣaraḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni kūṭastho’kṣara ucyate ॥ 15-16॥). The supreme puruṣa is another name for supreme Soul, the indestructible, Īśvara who pervades and sustains the three worlds (uttamaḥ puruṣastvanyaḥ paramātmetyudāhṛtaḥ । yo lokatrayamāviśya bibhartyavyaya īśvaraḥ ॥ 15-17॥). Since I transcend the perishable, am above the imperishable also and I am the highest, therefore in the world and the Vedas I am declared as the Supreme puruṣa (yasmātkṣaramatīto’hamakṣarādapi cottamaḥ । ato’smi loke vede ca prathitaḥ puruṣottamaḥ ॥ 15-18॥).
यो मामेवमसम्मूढो जानाति पुरुषोत्तमम् ।
स सर्वविद्भजति मां सर्वभावेन भारत ॥ १५-१९॥
इति गुह्यतमं शास्त्रमिदमुक्तं मयानघ ।
एतद्बुद्ध्वा बुद्धिमान्स्यात्कृतकृत्यश्च भारत ॥ १५-२०॥
(19-20) He who is undeluded and knows me to be the Supreme Soul, he is completely wise and worships me with all sentiment (yo māmevamasammūḍho jānāti puruṣottamam । sa sarvavidbhajati māṃ sarvabhāvena bhārata ॥ 15-19॥). Thus, this most secret sciencific treatise has been taught by me and knowing this, the wise become accomplished in all activities (iti guhyatamaṃ śāstramidamuktaṃ mayānagha । etadbuddhvā buddhimānsyātkṛtakṛtyaśca bhārata ॥ 15-20॥).