Bodhinatha was with a noble group of panelists this morning, discussing yoga. The main question before the panel was whether yoga is a Hindu practice or a dogma-neutral exercise that anyone of any religion can follow. The subtext of the panel was whether yoga is a kind of covert way to bring souls onto the Hindu path. Officially, it was titled; Practicing Yoga: Covert Conversion to Hinduism or the Key to Mind-Body Wellness for All? Interesting topic! Left to right is Suhag of the Hindu American Foundation, Dr. Chris Chappel, Leigh Bruhmshi who is Australia's foremost yoga teacher trainer and to Bodhintha's left Dr. Amir Isahak, a Malaysian sufi.
Bodhinatha was first, and presented his Keynote, which proved the perfect overview for all that followed in the next hour.
He was the only one with a Keynote. His words set the stage for a dynamic panel and discussion to follow.
Suhag Shukla gave the second generation Hindu view, and lamented that all of the jewels of Hinduism are being appropriated, including yoga. She argued that yoga is indeed inextricably tied to Hinduism.
Dr. Chapple took the opposite view, saying that yoga belongs to a broader world and is not essentially Hindu.
The sufi spoke of how yoga was important in his life, but that the ultimate goal for him had to be proximity to God and not union in God, which was an important difference for him as a spiritual Muslim.
Lively questions and discussions followed. All congratulated Bodhinatha for his lucid summary. Suhag asked the monks afterwards, "Where do you get all of this wonderful stuff!"
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The absence of Gnana in western thought is the reason Dr Chappel took a different view. It is well known to Indians or Sanatanis that it was Gnana , a God given gift to Panini , Katayana , Vyagrapradha and Sage Patanjali ( Yoga Sutras). As John Dobson , says in his great masterpiece. An extract below. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dobson_(amateur_astronomer)
” There is no language on the face of the earth even comparable to Sanskrit in its competence to handle philosophical concepts. [Swamiji, here is Swami Vivekananda] found himself translating and re-translating from Sanskrit to English. In English there is no word for Vivartavada (the doctrine that the first cause is apparitional). Parinama (transformation) is understood but not Vivarta. There is no word for Brahman, for Atman, for Maya or for the Gunas. It is not just that the words are absent; the ideas are also absent”
"Temples with multiple deities can be confusing, especially for today's Hindu youth. For clarity, we need to bring forward a more precise understanding of the different Hindu denominations and how the different Gods are viewed from within each denomination. For spiritual advancement it is best to focus on one deity and get to the vibration that deity. When we hear teachings from various Hindus, it is important to understand and identify which denomination they are speaking from. This will avert confusion when that teaching gets contradicted in a different context where someone is talking about the same subject but from a different philosophical background."
Bodhinatha reviews the main characteristic of Saivite philosophy and practice with an indepth focus on the four stages of religions evolution, chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana. He highlights how this shows that Saiva Siddhanta is unique and quite from the modern practice of Hinduism as Vedanta