|Year : 2018 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 59-60
Insights from vedic wisdom for future research in yoga
Chancellor, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, 19, Eknath Bhavan, Gavipuram Circle, K.G. Nagar, Bengaluru - 560 019, Karnataka, India
|Date of Web Publication
Dr. H R Nagendra
Chancellor, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, 19, Eknath Bhavan, Gavipuram Circle, K.G. Nagar, Bengaluru - 560 019, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:
Nagendra H R. Insights from vedic wisdom for future research in yoga. Int J Yoga - Philosop Psychol Parapsychol 2018;6:59-60
Modern science has been empirically discovering the subtle laws of nature, both internal and external. Although the journey has been long and paced, the changes that it has brought in our world are remarkable. Discovery of new laws of quantum mechanics in the early 19th century brings the reminiscences of the deep human quest to understand the subtle nature. In this journey toward understanding the subtle, can a support from the well-admired theories of the ancient wisdom be of any use? Ancient Indian wisdom is one such source that can give directions to numerous researches in many modern disciplines. Yoga is one such branch of knowledge from ancient Indian culture that is being now perceived as a panacea for many modern-day crises. Even though utility of ancient wisdom is well acknowledged by scientists, its implementation appears to be weakly evident. How do we mend this gap between ancient wisdom and modern science effectively, especially in yoga?
Science develops with observation, proposing theories and experimentation. Theories in science are a gradual development of ideas of eminent scientists over a period. Unlike this, in yoga, already the core concepts are well documented. To summarize the whole content of yoga text, it can be said that yoga describes the process of transformation to reach our highest potential. Having got a sound theoretical basis of yoga, as elucidated in the ancient yoga texts, should there not be profound growth in yoga research on the empirical front? We, however, observe that majority of the researches done in yoga is of applied nature. Substantial work needs to be done to understand the underlying science of yoga, applying modern scientific methodology as much as possible and if necessary innovate new methods to investigate some of the challenging aspects of yoga. Easier said, the task of integration of modern and the ancient knowledge systems is challenging.
Challenges and possible solutions to integration
Some of the challenges in integration are as follows: (1) Nonavailability of scholars who can expose us of ancient wisdom, in a language that modern scientists can understand. Most of the Vedic scholars are hidden in their traditional courtyards. (2) Lack of deeper enthusiasm among modern researchers to understand the depth of yogic philosophy and its practices. Number of instances where yoga is poorly interpreted and presented exemplifies this. (3) Lack of interdisciplinary fundamental research to scientifically validate some of the proclaimed tenets of yoga.
Possible solution can be discovered by (1) bringing people, both Vedic scholars and modern scientists on a common platform, and initiate a number of dialogues, to discuss various aspects of the yoga research. (2) Develop new breed of human resource with a refined skill to understand ancient wisdom and to execute research with modern methodology. (3) Create an infrastructure of conducting interdisciplinary research in yoga. These efforts will lead to successful integration and enable the development of new models, theories, and paradigms to guide future research in yoga. The utility of such models to understand mechanisms has been earlier highlighted. The development of such models is necessary as it provides a framework for understanding how yoga works and also providing direction to how it can be applied for various real-world problems.
Example of model to field application
One such model from Vedic literature is the concept of five sheaths model of human existence or traditionally known as pancha kosha model [Figure 1]. According to this, our human existence is not only restricted to the physical body, the annamaya kosha, but also other subtle layers such as pranamaya kosha (bioplasmic sheath), monomaya kosha (emotional sheath), vijnanamaya kosha (wisdom sheath), and anandamaya kosha (bliss sheath).
The Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy (IAYT), that is, used to address various psychosomatic ailments is also based on this. According to this model, if there are any imbalances at the level of physical body, then making suitable corrections at subtler level, will lead to a significant change in the physical level as well. Originally, this model appears in Taittiriya Upanishad, to elucidate the nature of our existence. However, this model can be utilized and applied to therapy. Another model that comes from the famous text, Yoga Vashistha, also supports this view that making a suitable correction at subtler levels corresponding changes can be made at grosser level:
ādhikṣaye cādhibhavāḥ kṣīyante vyādhayo'pyalam| 15. 3.33
(The Essence of Yogavaasishtha, p. 263)
According to this, even the physical ailments emerging out of mental affliction are removed, once those mental afflictions are removed. Hence, the root cause of the problem which is called aadhi has to be addressed, and it is understood to be present in manomaykosha, that sheath which lacks discriminatory ability. Once that is addressed, the reverse action of healing starts to percolate down to pranamayakosha, and ultimately annamayakosha, the physical body. It is also known from modern science that many of the psychosomatic diseases that included many NCDs, the mind play an important role in diseases progression. If we use this pancha kosha model and start working at the subtler level which is easier to manipulate, the results seen are rapid and durable. This has also been our clinical experience for the past five decades. Thus, models derived from ancient texts were utilized to develop a robust therapy system called IAYT. In order to further focus on the effect, some advanced yogic practices were developed exclusively for each of these koshas, such as cyclic meditation for annamayakosha; Pranic Energization Technique for pranamayakosha; Mind Sound Resonance Technique, Mind Imagery Technique, Mind EMotion Technique for manomayakosha; VIjnana SAdhana Koushala for vijnanamayakosha, and ANanda AMrita Sinchana for anandamayakosha. These techniques have been further studied empirically, mostly trying to understand its clinical utility, and now, it is time to understand the integrated fundamental mechanism that holds the whole model. Efforts are being taken to further the research in this direction.
This journal strongly encourages contributions that bring out the rich wisdom of ancient science by proposing good models that can be subjected to further experimentation and validation. Such models should become a part of common parlance among yoga researchers so that we grow in our understanding of our system in a complete way.
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