Who Originated Yoga? - A Cultural Perspective.
Countless individuals around the globe have embraced the practice of yoga, but have you ever wondered about its origins? While it's easy to view yoga as merely a fitness regime, particularly in the West, its roots trace back to the fertile spiritual and philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent.
Traditionally, the credit for planting the seed of yoga in human consciousness is given to Śhiva, also known as Adiyogi, signifying the primordial yogi. Although Śhiva was the pioneer in practising yoga and the first yogi teacher, it's stated in the scriptures that his inaugural student was his spouse, Parvati. Initially attracted by Śhiva's dynamic, wild, ecstatic dance, Parvati found herself irresistibly drawn to his divine state of bliss, leading her to remain with him.
Parvati's decision to stay wasn't merely a product of her profound love for Śhiva, but also reflected her concern for all of humanity. She acknowledged that the human condition inevitably harbours suffering, yet believed that Śhiva's enlightenment could serve as the antidote. Intrigued, Parvati asked, 'How can we humans also experience this bliss?'
In reply, Śhiva detailed 112 methods for a human being to ascend to an elevated state of being. He asserted, "That realm is solely for those who transcend. For humans, there exist only 112 ways." Each one of these ways, according to Śhiva, could lead to a higher state of being.
Interpreting Śhiva as an individual, the first yogi, brings to light his significant contributions to our collective human experience. This concept may seem complex, given Śhiva's status as a Hindu deity, yet we can't overlook his legacy simply because he's a revered figure in a particular culture. We must remember that Śhiva, in essence, may be more of a symbolic representation, an embodiment of wisdom rather than a physical entity.
Despite not leaving behind a specific doctrine, Śhiva left us a manual for self-realisation, a path to understanding our true nature. This approach, beyond the deity and the myth, can help us acknowledge the extraordinary impact Śhiva has had on our lives, past and present, and the wisdom he imparts even 15000 years later. His character is a study in contrasts - a blend of unorthodoxy, wisdom, passion, love, and wrath, which makes him one of the most compelling and influential figures the world has ever known.
That's not to elevate Śhiva above other significant figures from various cultures and religions, but it's undeniable that his teachings have, in many ways, transformed the face of our planet and continue to influence us millennia later.
Stimulated by Parvati's curiosity and wisdom, Śhiva shared the knowledge he'd obtained from intense meditation. His love for Parvati led him to disseminate this wisdom, which has now filtered down to us through the Hindu scriptures. Expressing her gratitude, Parvati declared, "By your grace, I have moved from ignorance to enlightenment, as if transformed from iron to gold, or elevated from the earth to the heavens." Today's generations of yoga students, similarly transformed by their practice, owe their gratitude to Śhiva. The first yogi.
Zahir Akram - eternal seeker
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