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|Why do these Sikhs practice yoga?
|Sunday, 4/04/1999 12:24 AM MDT
"Be assured that fruitless are his Yogic practices and sacrificial feasts, who forgets the Lord's praise. He who laying aside both his self-conceit and worldly love sings the praise of the Lord, Says Nanak, the mortal of such a type is said to have obtained emancipation whilst alive." (Guru Tegh Bahadur, Bilawal, pg. 831)
I have seen quotes similar to this one in arguments against vegetarianism and yoga. If you read the passage, you will see that there is no disapproval of yoga. It simply says that yogic practices are fruitless to one who forgets the Lord's praise. It does not say whether or not yogic practices are fruitless in general. Millions have found that yoga is very beneficial to both mind and body. You can try yoga and see for yourself what the benefits are.
Kundalini Yoga is the householder's yoga and as such is appropriate for Sikhs, who lead a householder's life. The practice of Kundalini Yoga prepares the mind and body for the experience of Waheguru.
The significance of the passage you quoted (and others like it) is, I believe, to stress the importance of devotion to God. Although a vegetarian diet or the practice of yoga may have certain benefits, they cannot "earn" a person's liberation. Liberation, by God's grace, comes to those who accept His will.
Mangala Sadhu Sangeet Singh
Kundalini Yoga & Sikh Dharma
from Victory & Virtue
It is the Shabad Guru which unites us to the Infinite, through the meditation on the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Kundalini Yoga prepares us to hear that Shabad.
While compiling this book, we were aware that it would be read by Sikhs who chose to become Sikhs, as well as those who were born into a Sikh family, usually of Indian origin. It is historical fact that almost all of the people who chose to become Sikhs were inspired to do so through the practice of Kundalini Yoga and the practice of Nam Simran at Kundalini Yoga classes. I do not believe that this is a coincidence. I believe that by the Grace of Guru Ram Das, who sits on the Throne of Raj Yog, the teachings of Kundalini Yoga were brought out of India to the West to lead the souls whose destiny it is to walk in the Guru's Way unto the Guru. I believe that it is important to maintain the practice of this "preparation". We also recognize that it is the Grace of the Guru which leads us unto liberation.
Kundalini Yoga is the householders yoga. It is the Yoga of Awareness, of Charhdi Kala. Guru Nanak admonished the yogis of his time that they were on the wrong path, teaching them that leaving their families, leaving this world and practicing austerities would not merge them with God. This is true. He did not teach that yoga itself is bad and in any way incongruent with the life of a Sikh. In fact, the internal process of merging with the Infinite that is described in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is identical to universal principles of union with God which were taught by the ancient yogis.
A Sikh does not do yoga to "earn" his or her liberation. A Sikh uses the techniques of Kundalini Yoga in the same way that s/he would take a bath in the morning, or be conscious of how s/he maintains the body purely, eating a vegetarian diet, not partaking of tobacco or alcohol. In other words, a Sikh prepares this sacred body temple as purely as possible to bring the Holy Naam, the Holy Gurbani into it, to do justice to that Sacred Word. However, Kundalini Yoga prepares not only the physical body, but all of the Ten Bodies of which this magnificent human system is composed.
I see no contradiction to a life as a worshipper of the Siri Guru Granth and my Kundalini Yoga practice. There is nothing in the path of Kundalini Yoga which in any way contradicts what is taught in the Siri Guru Granth. It has been my personal experience that Gurbani Kirtan and developing a relationship with the Siri Guru Granth Sahib has given me the bliss and grace of life. However, it was and continues to be my Kundalini Yoga practice and teaching which keeps me in Chardi Kala and continues to remind me to seek the Guru's Feet as my refuge.
I truly believe that it is the Miracle of Guru Ram Das that the ancient teachings of Kundalini Yoga were offered to the Sikhs to keep them in Charhdi Kala. How else can we explain the miracle of so many Westerners coming to the feet of Siri Guru Granth Sahib through the practice of Kundalini Yoga?
Dhan dhan ram das guru
Jin siria tinai savaria
Pooree hoee karama
Aap sirjinaharay dharriaa!
(Editor's note: I have written the following in the first person, because I wanted this topic, which is very dear to my heart, to have a personal touch. - GRK)