August 20, 2006

The emergence of Integral Yoga

San Francisco California Journal of Integral Studies
Sri Aurobindo, by virtue of integrating all the past systems of yoga before him named his Yoga Integral Yoga or Purnayoga. A study of Sri Ramakrishna suggests that he had initiated this integration, which found its fruition, culmination and completeness through Sri Aurobindo. The objective of the author is to demonstrate that Integral Yoga was nurtured initially in the loving hands of Sri Ramakrishna whereas it blossomed through the guidance, supervision and the sadhana of Sri Aurobindo. One finds that some of the ideas of the Integral Yoga were inchoate and nebulous in the experiences of Sri Ramakrishna before Sri Aurobindo incarnated and formalized and canonized the entire literature of Integral Yoga to suit the demands of the present times, and for the times to come.
The author's intention is not to credit Sri Ramakrishna as a propounder of Integral Yoga but to highlight the fact that in the greater cosmic plan, one can see the gleaming of a movement towards the emergence of Integral Yoga in his teachings. Also it is the author's understanding that Sri Aurobindo went far beyond Sri Ramakrishna as far as the vision of Integral Truth is concerned, but this should not undermine the greatness of Sri Ramakrishna in any way...
He too reconciled Adwaitavada, Visishtadwaitavada and Dwaitavada stating that the truths captured by these systems are different stages in the seeker's gradual self-realization and spiritual unfoldment. One sees a kind of similarity here with Sri Aurobindo's exposition regarding the existence of different levels of spiritual truths between the ordinary human mind and the Supermind.
All systems of Yoga lead to the same realization: Though Sri Ramakrishna did not synthesize the different strains of yoga by taking the essential components of all the different yogas and knitting them into a whole which could be more than the sum of its parts in the way Sri Aurobindo did, he nevertheless made an essential contribution by stating that there is no incompatibility between the different systems of yoga as far as the ultimate result of spiritual realization is concerned.
As it has been noted before that Sri Aurobindo restored the teachings of Vedas and Upanishads to their pristine purity. In this process, he was quite critical of Shankara's philosophy of mayavada. His vision and philosophy incorporates the earthly life into the spiritual life. Qualifying his Adwaita as a more perfect synthesis than Shankara, as well stating that its preparation was done by Ramakrishna, he writes:
The word Vedanta is usually identified with strict Monoism and the peculiar theory of maya established by the lofty and ascetic intellect of Shankara. But it is the Upanishads themselves and not Shankara's writings, the text and not the commentary, that are the authoritative Scripture of the Vedantin. Shankar's, great and temporarily satisfying as it was, is only one synthesis and interpretation of the Upanishads. There have been others in the past and which have powerfully influenced the national mind and there is no reason why there should not be a yet more perfect synthesis in the future. It is such a synthesis that embracing all life and action in its scope that the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda have been preparing. (Sri Aurobindo, 1972, p. 344)

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