A historical overview
Yoga has popularly been thought of as a Hindu practice and part of a religion referred to as Hinduism, however this is very far from any truth.
Yoga was first taught as a technology for human well-being and about 13,000 BC. This is long before the idea of Hinduism evolved and the story begins in the modern era but before we get to that, let's look at the wider history of the region.
We know there was a civilisation in India in 75,000 BC because size tells us that this is when the Tiber eruption occurred. (A large volcanic event in Indonesia). This eruption deposited a layer of ash over eastern India and under the sash layer evidence of human civilisation has been discovered meaning that while according to scientists and evolutionists, modern man was preparing to leave Africa which is supposed to have happened in about 60,000 BC.
Thanks to Astro archaeology and the ancient texts written by those we refer to as Indians or Hindus, we know that there was a well-developed civilisation across the region in 7000 BC.
From this period, what we refer to as Indian civilisation flourished, but the actual name of the region was Bharatha. This was not so much a nation as one would recognise today because the economy was not about acquiring wealth, but it was more about generating human well-being.
By 7000 BC, science of yoga was well established not only in the land of Bharatha, but across what we know today as the Middle East, parts of Africa, East Asia and South America. Even today in all these places you can still find evidence of what we refer to as the Bharathan (Indian) influence.
This influence is that life is a journey and the goal of life is simply to be happy. There was a recognition that in human life we have potential outcomes. These outcomes include:
- Suffering and unhappiness which is caused by ignorance and wrong action. This is a negative aspect of life that everyone must develop a desire to overcome.
- The foundational aspect of life is that of peacefulness, a state of relative calm and ease from which we can grow.
- From peace we can aspire to happiness and from happiness we can aspire to joyfulness and from joyfulness we can aspire to blissfulness and from bliss we can achieve ecstasy which is our highest potential.
If we look at the world today, it seems the majority of people reside in a state of suffering and great unhappiness. But there are moments when something happens in their lives when they may taste joy, bliss or ecstasy.
The various peoples within the great land of Bharatha prospered, they cultivated a sense of Dharma and life was celebrated as much as attempts were made to understand the nature of life.
Prior to the arrival of Islam, the people of Bharatha traveled the world sharing a message of peace and prosperity. They were the architects of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, they influenced civilisations like Egypt and Mesopotamia and even helped with the construction of Bellbek in Lebanon.
The Islamic viewpoint that any other understanding outside of their own was some how a heresy fuelled their takeover of the entire Middle East and region including Persia and invasions into Bharatha.
At the time of the Muslim invasions, Buddhism which is seen in some ways as an epitome for Vedic understanding was brutally crushed and Buddhism was almost wiped out in Bharatha. But what we refer to today as Hinduism survived despite the killing of a great many millions who's lives were based on non-violent principles.
The Moslems did their best to kill off as many Hindus as possible and as they drove across the land, they converted all the Vedic temples into mosques. Even the fabled monument built by Sha Jahan supposedly as a monument to his wife is built on top of a former Shiva temple. (I must mention here that the wife that supposedly the shrine dedicates was actually the man's a 14th and one of his least favourite wives.)
Despite the Muslim invasions the people of Bharatha prospered, they still traded with Rome and China, and their economy accounted for one third of the entire world's GDP when the British arrived.
At the time the British were running Privateer ships and committing acts of piracy in the Atlantic, but when they finally discovered the land they called India they were astounded to find a country loaded with riches beyond measure.
The strong arm of the British ruling elite was the British East India company who had no qualms about theft and piracy. They were the first corporation to enter the opium trade and they systematically with some help from the French and Portuguese set about looting the land they called India.
However the terms Hindu and Hindustan had already been coined by the Moslems because they could not properly pronounce the regional names used by the local people. In short, the river Sindu became Hindu and the land of Hindustan as it became known included all of modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Indian subcontinent and most of Myanmar (Burma).
The British soon got a strong foothold in the country where they instituted their own bureaucracy, rewrote Indian history to suit themselves and the country of Bharatha that had a well educated population with about 95% literacy and no hunger apart from the occasional famine caused by nature began to rapidly decline.
As the British stripped the country of its wealth, they smashed the education system and many of the trappings of Bharthan civilisation. Poverty and starvation became an epidemic and the literacy rate fell to below 20%.
It is fair to say that most of the wealth and development of the British Empire came from the looting of India and a lesser extent the looting of Africa and China.
During the rebellion in the 1850s when the people of Bharatha attempted to regain their independence from Britain, the British response was heavy-handed and it is estimated that between six and 10 million people were executed which put people off any further attempts at freedom until the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi.
Fortunately for Buddhism, it continued to flourish in Tibet and other parts of Southeast Asia as did Vedic culture for a time. However Islam swept across northern Bharatha and down through Indonesia were it took root. The culture of Indonesia at the time was primarily Buddhist and once the Sanga had been executed, Buddhism quickly folded and the Vedic culture on Java retreated to a stronghold on Bali where it still exists.
The true name for India is Bharatha and there really is no such thing as a religion called Hinduism. It is said that within Bharatha there are more than 300,000 gods but there is no one God as within Christianity and Islam.
What is generally referred to as Hinduism today is accepted by many people as a religion, but it is more a celebration of life and a gentle enquiry into the nature of life rather than a belief system. There is nothing that has to to be believed yet most people with an inquiring mind will discover that karma, the action of cause and effect is true in their experience. The idea that people are born into another life is not necessarily believed, but some people who can recall their past lives don't have to believe because they know.
The British left Bharatha as a deeply wounded and confused nation. Yet the majority of people are once again finding a sense of Dharma and appreciation for life despite the inroads of modern capitalism which is the latest invader that is not only destroying Bharatha, it's destroying the entire planet.
It is abundantly clear that communism has failed, fascism has failed, democracy is failing and capitalism is a threat to all life. If we want to save the world and save our own species, it is time we all turned to yoga and the wisdom of the Vedic sciences.