The History of Yoga: Preclassical Yoga

How deep is your knowledge about history of yoga in preclassical period? If you are a yoga practitioner or yoga instructor, it would be better for you to have a brief knowledge about the history of yoga. In our previous article, we have written about Vedic Yoga as the oldest period in history of yoga. As a continuation about the periods in the history of yoga, we provide brief information about preclassical yoga.

History of Yoga – Preclassical Yoga

Preclassical yoga has a lot of forms during the existence. The oldest manifestatios about preclassical yoga were still closely related with the Vedic Yoga’s teachings and its rituals.

The conception of Upanishads marks the end of Vedic Yoga period and the beginning of Preclassical Yoga. The Upanishads are sacred for the Hindu believers and also very well-known around the world. Hence, Upanishads were considered as one of the most influential books ever written.

There are over 200 scriptures of Upanishads, but only some of them were written in the time prior to Siddharta Gautama (The Buddha)in the fifth century B.C.

The Upanishads explains the importance for human to learn and understand more about the ultimate unity of all things. Furthermore, the Upanishads speak about Brahmana (universal spirit) and Atman (individual) and emphasize the characteristics of both Brahmana and Atman.

Adi Shankara Bhagavadpada (Shankara) as the commentator on the upanishads, composed commentaries on eleven principal of Upanishads. Each of the principals is associated with one of the four Vedas. The Vedas are Rig-Veda (RV), Sama-Veda (SV), Shukla Yajur-Veda (SYV), Krishna Yajur-Veda (KYV) and Atharva-Veda (AV).

The eleven principals of Upanishads are as follows:

1. Aitareya (RV)
2. Brhadaranyaka (SYV)
3. Taittiriya (KYV)
4. Chandogya (SV)
5. Kena (SV)
6. Isa (SYV)
7. Svetasvatara (KYV)
8. Katha (KYV)
9. Mundaka (AV)
10. Mandukya (AV)
11. Prasna (AV)

Bhagavad Gita (Lord’s Song)
Bhagavad Gita is known as one of the most remarkable Yoga scriptures. Bhagavad Gita was composed around 500 B.C and remains as the oldest Yoga scripture and dedicated completely for yoga.

Similar with the Upanishads advanced the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita also builds on and integrates the doctrines of the Upanishads.

Bhagavad Gita teaches people to avoid 6 evils (arishadvargas).

The six evils to avoid are as follows:

1. Kama (lust)
2. Krodha (anger)
3. Lobh (greed)
4. Moha (delusion)
5. Mada or ahankar (pride)
6. Matsarya (jealousy)

Someone would not be able to attain liberation from the birth and death cycle (moksha) when he/she performs these negative behaviors.

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