Yoga is not worship; nor is it a sacrifice to propitiate a Deity. The
word yoga comes from the root 'yug' which means to join. It is described
in the Vishnu Purana as follows:
"Having controlled all senses with
the mind, the idea of unity of the self, with the supreme self within,
According to Bhagavath Githa, yoga is the
mind getting merged with the soul within, freeing itself from all attachments
that bring about pain. The yoga sutra says that it is restraint of mental
modifications or control of thought waves in mind.
Mrs. Annie Besant says that it is a science
by which alone spiritual truths can be fully realised by the gradual unfolding
of the inner faculties, which enable man to study the invisible world
directly by the expansion of his consciousness to embrace wider and subtler
ranges of being.
The object of yoga is to get moksha, that
is to say, to emancipate the individual self from its bondage to the material
world by a process of mental and bodily discipline culminating in a spiritual
transformation and merger of the self with the supreme self, the God within.
This merger secures for the yogi the moksha which is freedom from re-birth
the bugbear of all thinking Hindus and others who believe in re-birth.
Yoga is said to be a prevedic cult. This
was systematised on a scientific basis by sage Kapila who lived about
the 7th century B.C. This organised wisdom which influenced the buddhist
thought a good deal came to be known as sankya yoga or sankya philosophy.
About five centuries later sage Pathanjali popularised it by introducing
certain steps-in-aid known as Ashtanga (eight limbs of aid.) He also insisted
that a fervent devotion to God should also be considered as an indispensable
factor in the practice of yoga, although five centuries before him, Sage
Kapila did not think so.