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What is the Malankara Indian Orthodox view on Yoga?

Positive / Approving
2 (28.6%)
Negative / Critical
1 (14.3%)
There is no view in the Malankara church on yoga
1 (14.3%)
Other
3 (42.9%)

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Offline rakovsky

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What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« on: September 29, 2016, 01:19:22 PM »
The Indian Orthodox Church goes back to the first Christians in India, the era of St. Thomas. Early Church fathers described Thomas' travels in India. Meanwhile, yoga is an ancient practice in India. Statues and tablets have been unearthed from the Indus valley civilization that lasted until 1500 BC showing people or gods in yogic lotus poses or with their eyes closed as if serenely meditating. Today yoga is common across America, involving physical excercises and meditation. I have done yoga with exercises numerous times. After seeing its deep relationship with Hinduism, I want to think more about what it means and how the church sees it.

This thread's purpose is to ask what the Malankara Christians' stance is on Yoga. The reason I am interested is because they have been in India for so long and may have special insight on this question.

I found a number of Orthodox websites talking about Yoga having a positive view by Malankara Christians.


The Malankara Orthodox TV has this article on Yoga:
Quote


The Diocese of Ahmedabad of the Indian Orthodox Church joins the Government of India in
celebrating Day.

Diocese Metropolitan HG Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios, has in a release stated that yoga is one of the best contribution of India to the world. “The Indian Orthodox Church is proud to share its lineage with yoga and uses this opportunity to raise awareness of the highly integrated indigenous character of the Orthodox Church of India.”
Further, Dr Mar Yulios reiterates that the “Church understands Yoga as a spiritual exercise to instill in its practitioners awareness, tolerance, empathy, compassion and most importantly the inter-connectedness of God’s creation.”
The release also adds that Yoga is a powerful science for inner-transformation, scientifically designed, practiced and propagated by great people like sage Patanjali, the Father of Modern Yoga, in his ancient book, Yoga-Sutra.
...
The Diocese of Ahmedabad has been conducting Yoga classes and providing special training to students and teachers in its schools under the Diocese for a long time.
“In our hospitals and health centres, Yoga is an inevitable part of our holistic health therapy. Yoga is a reputed scientific method for the well-being of humanity
http://malankaraorthodox.tv/?p=36477

The Malankara Press Release says:
Quote
The  Indian  Orthodox  Church  is  proud  to share  its  lineage  with  yoga  and  we  use  this  opportunity  to  raise  awareness  of  the  highly  integrated
indigenous  character  of  the  Orthodox  Church  of  India. The  Church  understands Yoga  as  a  spiritual
exercise to instill in its practitioners awareness, tolerance, empathy, compassion and most importantly
the inter-connectedness of God's creation.
We  have  been  conducting  Yoga  classes  and  giving  special  training  to  students  and  teachers  in  our
Schools under the Diocese of Ahmedabad for a long time.

By His Grace, Dr. Geevarghese Yulios 
Metropolitan, Diocese of Ahmedabad
http://malankaraorthodox.tv/?p=36477

Here is a "Speech by Fr. Thomas Varghese Amayil at Akhila Malankara Prarthana Yoga Annual Meeting". But I don't know what it says.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nnvy9LFEiM

Dr. Meledath Kurian Thomas, Orthodox Cognate Page Research Associate, ran this article called Who Fears Yoga?:
Quote




Metropolitan Paret Mathews Mar Ivanios of Kottayam (Indian Orthodox Malankara Church), entered into the eternal rest on 31 August 1980. He departed at the age of ninety one without any major ailment. Everyone knows that he was six feet plus in height and a person with well disciplined food and life habits. But very few know that he was regularly practicing Yoga until one month prior to his demise. That too includes Shirshasan, the headstand pose! Mar Ivanios himself disclosed that he was practicing Yoga since his ordination as an Orthodox deacon. He practiced it without interruption at until his last days. According to the records, he was elevated into the minor order of deaconate (Korooyo) on 7 June 1889 at Puthuppally, India. ... He never considered it as a practise against Orthodox Christianity. His superiors, the Malankara Metropolitan and the Catholicos of the East agreed the same.

The chief opposition about Yoga nowadays is about the practice of Surya Namaskara which means Sun Salutation. Bot factions, those who are in favour of Surya Namaskara and those who are against it, claim it as Sun worship.
http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/who-fears-yoga
So if you practice Yoga facing the sun and meditating, then it is sun salutation and sun worship? I know at an art museum here the museum is having a free yoga session for the public facing the sun.

He comments:
Quote
There is nothing religious in the names of certain elements in the Indian sciences. Agasthya Resyana, Brahma [The Creator god] Resayana, Chavanya Prashem etc., are some of the popularly used Ayurvedic medicines. Nobody bothered about [it]. Why not consider Surya Namaskara in the same manner? Naming a product is always the will of its inventor/developer. It reflects his personal affiliation – personal, religious, political, patriotic, or whatever else – only. I believe that there is nothing wrong in practicing Yoga including Surya Namaskara [Sun salutation] if its religious element can be kept apart. Another point of disagreement is regarding the sounds like ‘Om’, which is being used in the practice of certain Yoga postures.
http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/who-fears-yoga/
To clarify, Om in Indian languages has the same root meaning as Amen does in Judaism - an assertion of agreement, according to Asko Parpola. Dr. Thomas concludes: "There are certain sounds associated with the Chinese martial arts like Karate and Kung-Fu. Nobody bothers to analyse its linguistic or religious roots but just using it as a part of the training. Why not treat the sounds associated with Yoga in this manner?"

The Indian Express ran an article about a bishop participating in a debate on the topic:

Quote
KOCHI: A debate was held on ‘Is Yoga a Religious Practice’ at the Ernakulam Public Library here.

Inaugurating the debate, Malankara Orthodox Church Bishop Thomas Mar Athanasius said yoga and meditation, which transcend the barriers of religion, would help the practitioner in his/her journey towards spirituality. “It is not right to consider yoga as a religious practise,” the Bishop said, adding that 50 years of yoga practice had prepared his body and mind for the spiritual journey,” a press release from the organisers quoted the bishop as saying.
http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/Debate-on-Yoga-Held/2015/06/22/article2879171.ece
It sounds like the debate did not focus on whether yoga was good or bad, but only religious.

St. Gregorios Church in Bensalem has a regular yoga class under its "SGMOC Health and Wellness Ministry"

St Gregorios Orthodox Church in Oak Park, IL has a page on MEDITATION PRACTICES FOR CHRISTIANS by Joseph E. Thomas, Ph.D. It says:
Quote
Yoga Science of Patanjali gives some important ethical guidelines to be observed by the spiritual aspirant who intends to follow the Raja Yoga that includes the practice of meditation. The first set of guidelines is called Yama and the second set is called Niyama. Adherence to these ethical principles is very important whatever your religious background may be.
 
Yama(Restraints and controls):
...
Brahmacharyam (Celibacy, chastity). Brahmacharyam does not necessarily mean an unmarried life. The word here means conducting your thoughts, words, and behavior in a way that will lead you to Brahma or God.

Niyama(Observances):

...
 Iswara-pranidhanam --Dedication of every good fruit of your life to God.
http://stgregorioschicago.org/articles/meditationpracticesforchristians.html
Out of those listed for Yama and Noyama, I find Brahmacharyam most appealing, with its expression of Brahma("the Creator"), along with  Iswara-pranidhanam, since Ishvara means The Lord.

Next he writes about what Mantras to use in his section "How to Practice Mantra Meditation":
Quote
Find a quiet place, away from telephone calls and other possible demands placed on you... Lighting a candle and/or an incense to create an atmosphere of serenity and sacredness is desirable. Say a brief prayer for all of God’s creation, as an expression of your love for all beings. This will be a good start before you enter into communion with God. An ideal prayer for this occasion would be that of St. Francis of Assissi.
...

A short prayer taken from the Upanishads is a good alternative to the prayer cited above:

May all beings be happy!
May all beings be peaceful!
May all beings be blissful!
Om, Shanti! Shanti! Shantihi!
...
Christian monks in India have suggested Christianized Sanskrit mantras. Francis Acharya of Kurisumala Ashram suggests a mantra AUM Sri Yesu Bhagavate Namah!. Another mantra adapted from Sanskrit is Om Namoh Bhagavate Yesu Devaya! Both mantras mean “I worship and pay homage to Lord Jesus!”
http://stgregorioschicago.org/articles/meditationpracticesforchristians.html
He goes on to discuss more on Bhagavata Gita and practice yoga.

The Indian Orthodox Herald has this essay on "Fr Jacob John -Master, in service of God"
Quote


“Whether as a priest or a master, my duty is the same, to guide people. A true spiritual mentor should make use of all the available options he has. I don’t hesitate to introduce my students to new vistas of learning by providing them basic knowledge of Reiki, Pranic Healing and Yoga,” he says. For this purpose, he started the Chaithanya Healing and Training Centre at Kottarakkara.

He had also conducted a month-long yoga camp for the public in Punalur during the month of Karkidakom. The revered season is suitable for treatment and physical maintenance, he says. Apart from that, all official functions of his academy begin by lighting the lamp, which is a thoroughly Indian tradition.
http://www.orthodoxherald.com/2011/09/28/fr-jacob-john-master-in-service-of-god

ST. GREGORIOS MISSION CENTRE THOOTHUKUDI (SEARD TRUST) in Madras made an announcement:
Quote
AWARENESS MEETINGS
SEARD Trust have conducted International Women's day program, Yoga and Naturopathy in Association with Ministry of Health, Child labour day program and several awareness meeting about health and hygiene, Ayurvedic Medicines and plantation
http://www.madrasorthodoxdiocese.org/tuticorin.php

Catholicate College in Kerala, which was set up by the Orthodox Church, has a diploma in Yoga and Stress Management. (http://www.emagister.in/diploma_yoga_and_stress_management_courses-ec2741699.htm)

I could not find any Malankara articles opposing Yoga. It sounds like Malankara Christians tend to view yoga as simply a physical relaxation technique, with the use of Mantras like "Om" being helpful like the shouting used in karate.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2016, 01:23:44 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2016, 02:02:40 PM »
Let me please ask: I read that our Matins are intentionally planned to begin near dawn (although it doesn't usually happen on Sundays), and continue into the Liturgy's beginning. And in the Old Testament God is sometimes spoken of metaphorically as the sun. Does this make it fine or spiritually beneficial to have a meditation in a set pose with breathing at dawn facing the sun, as performed in Sun Salutation?
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2016, 02:13:12 PM »
After reading this, I understand mcarmichael better.

Offline WPM

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2016, 02:39:01 PM »
I'll pay attention and follow along but I think its associated with alternative religions.
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Offline Svirsky

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2016, 03:36:51 PM »
Let me please ask: I read that our Matins are intentionally planned to begin near dawn (although it doesn't usually happen on Sundays), and continue into the Liturgy's beginning. And in the Old Testament God is sometimes spoken of metaphorically as the sun. Does this make it fine or spiritually beneficial to have a meditation in a set pose with breathing at dawn facing the sun, as performed in Sun Salutation?

Well, Matins is more or less supposed to begin before dawn for two reasons. For one, we commemorate how the Myrrh-bearing women went to the tomb and saw the risen Christ at dawn, and this is the theme on Sunday Matins. Also, like all of the other Offices, Matins was marked to be said at a certain time in the Roman day, specifically during the fourth vigil, which would have started slightly before dawn and would have ended just after dawn ("Glory be to thee who hast shown the light!"). So, while, yes, Matins does have something to do with the sunrise, it's only ostensibly so. As such, the purpose of Matins shouldn't be equivocated with pagan and New-Age practices.

You also mentioned that we often metaphorically refer to God as the sun, and that's certainly true, but I don't think we can, nor should, try to then suggest that the Sun Salutation and praying towards the east at dawn are somehow related. We certainly are not worshiping the sun as the prayer at First Hour starts as "O Christ, the true light," so I think that, while the prayer does metaphorically link Christ and the sun, it qualifies that link as well in order to avoid this tenuous overstatement that some might make. Furthermore, our tradition of praying towards the East is particularly well justified and explained in Orthodoxy (see St. Basil), so an alternative explanation seems somewhat out of order. So, if someone wanted to use these points to argue that Sun Salutation, in particular, I still don't think they could justify it without additional, extraneous argument. 

Offline Iconodule

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2016, 03:53:49 PM »
"Yoga fire!" - Archbishop Petrosian
Mencius said, “Instruction makes use of many techniques. When I do not deign to instruct someone, that too is a form of instruction.”

Offline Charles1967

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2016, 04:31:04 PM »
Wow interesting topic.
Where i live it seems everybody and their grandmother does yoga. So i was on a health kick and wanted to do some of the
Yoga type Stretches. But got scared to when i saw many Christians evangeticals say not to cause it was evil based on Hindu gods worship .and could lead to bad entities entering a person.  The same type of thing was mentioned about tai chi
Oriental exersise asvwell. Since it was formed with chi energy
Belief. That had roots in another religion.
So to hear it is accepted in some of our  Christian faith surprised me.


Offline rakovsky

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2016, 04:43:30 PM »
After reading this, I understand mcarmichael better.
Dear Mor,

I am not sure what you mean by this, but the thread is not meant as a trick question. My own issue is that I am considering whether and how much to practice yoga, for mental and/or physical well-being. I think Indian Orthodox could have special familiarity with this topic because Yoga comes from India. I am interested in your opinion. If you would feel more comfortable if I moved it to the Polemics section, I can do that.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2016, 04:49:45 PM »
Wow interesting topic.
Where i live it seems everybody and their grandmother does yoga. So i was on a health kick and wanted to do some of the
Yoga type Stretches. But got scared to when i saw many Christians evangeticals say not to cause it was evil based on Hindu gods worship .and could lead to bad entities entering a person.  The same type of thing was mentioned about tai chi
Oriental exersise asvwell. Since it was formed with chi energy
Belief. That had roots in another religion.
So to hear it is accepted in some of our  Christian faith surprised me.
Well, this is my issue too, Charles. People say things like to take a deep breath to calm yourself if you are in a tough situation and are about to do something, or they say "relax", or when we are about to go for Track practice we did stretching exercizes. And people like to listen to calming music. So I don't know that Yoga is harmful, since it seems to amount to those kinds of exercizes.

But I also have heard claims by Christians with European roots (eg. Greeks and Evangelicals) that we should not get involved in Yoga because they see it as part of a foreign religion. So it raises the question for me of how much to get involved in it. Maybe I am just making a big deal out of nothing?
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2016, 05:27:27 PM »
Not Malankara, obviously, but I can offer tu'pennyworth based on 30 years of practice.

A lot of your yoga experience hinges on the teacher you study under, and those can be of all sorts. Some see yoga as more of a spiritual practice than physical (especially those of the Sivananda or Kundalini schools). Some strip away all Oriental elements, even the Sanskrit names for asanas, and see the mental and emotional improvements as direct results of physical changes. Most fall all over the space in between.

You are not obligated to do anything that goes against your religious convictions in order to practise yoga. For every instructor who inserts Hindu or Buddhist devotional elements into their lessons, there's at least another who doesn't. Shop around (that's what taster sessions are for), compare instructors and venues, and don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
'Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against stupid. That might actually make a difference.'~Harry Dresden

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Offline Charles1967

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2016, 05:47:10 PM »
Wow interesting topic.
Where i live it seems everybody and their grandmother does yoga. So i was on a health kick and wanted to do some of the
Yoga type Stretches. But got scared to when i saw many Christians evangeticals say not to cause it was evil based on Hindu gods worship .and could lead to bad entities entering a person.  The same type of thing was mentioned about tai chi
Oriental exersise asvwell. Since it was formed with chi energy
Belief. That had roots in another religion.
So to hear it is accepted in some of our  Christian faith surprised me.
Well, this is my issue too, Charles. People say things like to take a deep breath to calm yourself if you are in a tough situation and are about to do something, or they say "relax", or when we are about to go for Track practice we did stretching exercizes. And people like to listen to calming music. So I don't know that Yoga is harmful, since it seems to amount to those kinds of exercizes.

But I also have heard claims by Christians with European roots (eg. Greeks and Evangelicals) that we should not get involved in Yoga because they see it as part of a foreign religion. So it raises the question for me of how much to get involved in it. Maybe I am just making a big deal out of nothing?
I thought lightly of it since it was a normal lifestyle thing over here . people do yoga. Meditation . mantras (which i notice is something simular Orthodox do with the JESUS Prayer to quiet mind while meditating .part of the California healthy body healthy mind lifestyle. All positive looking. Seemed its o.k..  But then saw all the testimonials
By former New Age practitioners who are now Christian
Denouncing it. Even from the simplest forms its like a gateway to more things. Like if i do yoga i lose weight and feel great! Then i start to meditate to reduce daily stress. Now i feel even better. Then I concetrate think positive to make changes in my life.(Law of Attraction)  and things manifest for me. Now I feel great!. So after all this I say..hey this stuff is doing me great. Now my mind is open to ponder other belief systems maybe from gurus who say yes there is GOD
And we are part of him. In fact we are godly being part of him
. So for us strong minded Christian Belivers. Maybe not a problem to do yoga style stretches.but for others with open mind maybe not so good that they can be influenced in another way of belief.
I really enjoy more insight of this topic from Orthodox perspective. 
 Please excuse me if I shifted the topic somewhat from original poster.
It was a very interesting topic they mentioned from the Indian
Orthodox view. And I would like to learn more about it.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2016, 06:24:41 PM »
It was a very interesting topic they mentioned from the Indian Orthodox view. And I would like to learn more about it.
I know, me too. Yoga goes back at least to the Indus civilization, one of the first major ones on earth, which lasted up to 1500 BC, which is the era of Moses ( somewhere in 1500-1300 BC). We have found tablets from the Indus civilization showing a figure in the lotus position of Yoga.

And the Indian Christians are special too, because they were converted by the Apostle Thomas in Tradition, and their community could be even older - going back to the times of Solomon when Ophir (India) is mentioned as supplying gold and sandlewood for his temple. In this theory, the Christians included many converts from the pre-existing Jewish "Nasrani" community from Bible times there. So their views on Yoga would be interesting.

I would like to hear what Fr. Thomas says in his long speech on Yoga (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nnvy9LFEiM), but it's in Malayam. I think only someone like Mor can tell us what he is saying.

Feel free to read the Metropolitan's press release: http://malankaraorthodox.tv/?p=36477

Dr. Thomas on the St Gregorios page recommends as an alternative chanting "Om, Shanti! Shanti! Shantihi!"
Shantihi means "calm". Om etymologically seems to mean agreement or permission, related to the Dravidian (probably pre-Aryan) Aum, meaning Yes. It is considered a divine sound and Asko Parpola likens it to "Amen" in Christianity.

But am I really comfortable chanting Om? Part of me wants to. It sounds neat, deep, enchanting. But doesn't that invoke a Hindu religious mindset with all kinds of foreign perceptions about God and the Universe?

We can't just assume that something is in Sanskrit or Malayam that it is wrong. Malankara Orthodox call their prayers Dhannya, the Sanskrit word for Meditation. Maybe it's related to Dihanie, the Slavic word for breathing, since Slavic and Sanskrit are sister languages. After all, Yoga relies on breathing exercizes.

Here he writes more on meditation, connecting it to belief in the Chakras, what I think Indian philosophy sees as energy centers in the body:
Quote
You keep focusing on the vibrations of the sound of the mantra emanating from your heart center (Anahata Chakra) that is located at the mid-point between your nipples. The heart that we refer to here is not your anatomical/physiological heart. It is a center of subtle energy and is the midpoint of the body’s other such subtle energy centers. This center is considered to be the center of the “spiritual heart”. Imagine this place to be the center of Christ-Consciousness that is within you as well as in everyone and everything else in the Universe. Meditating at this heart center is the “prayer of the heart” that is described in the Christian monastic literature, and what the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture, considers as more potent than external prayers.

The second subtle energy center suggested by meditation masters is on the forehead at the midpoint of your eyebrows. This center known as the Ajna Chakra is more suitable for people who are emotionally very labile. Wisdom, insight, discernment, and intuition are all qualities attributed to Ajna Chakra.
http://stgregorioschicago.org/articles/meditationpracticesforchristians.html

The forehead between the eyebrows and its role can be seen in the Hindu use of putting markings or dots on the forehead. Dr. Thomas' page on meditation is quite long, and I recommend reading it for yourself.

He ends by talking about a part of yoga that is especially appealing to me, that in some forms of the meditation, one focuses on God, God's unity with the meditator, and God's all-pervasiveness. Hence he writes:
Quote
Swami Vivekananda mentions a final step: Samadhi and illumination or the realization of the Divine. This is the goal of meditation or Dhyana and of all spiritual practices. However, in order to avoid frustration and a sense of failure the ordinary practitioner will be better off not to get hung up on this goal in his day-to-day practice. Proper meditation will always lead to joy and spiritual fulfillment over a period of years.

=======================

I am also grateful to the Very Rev. Fr. JohnBrian Paprock (Madison, Wisconsin) who published the first version of this article as a booklet...
I thank Professor A.M. Chacko and Professor K. K. Abraham (Aluva, Kerala, India) who took the initiative to publish an earlier version of this article in the Church Weekly in India.  ... My indebtedness and thanks go to the Website of the St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Oak Park, Illinois, the Church’s Vicar Rev Dr. M. K. Thomas, its website editor Mr. Varghese John who have encouraged me to publish this article for the use of Christians everywhere. ...
Earlier editions of this article have been published as a booklet under the title “A QUEST FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION” by Holy Transfiguration Publications, Madison, WI. (2001), and by Church Weekly, Kerala, India (2004) under the title CHRIST CENTERED MEDITATION
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Charles1967

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2016, 06:56:51 PM »
It was a very interesting topic they mentioned from the Indian Orthodox view. And I would like to learn more about it.
I know, me too. Yoga goes back at least to the Indus civilization, one of the first major ones on earth, which lasted up to 1500 BC, which is the era of Moses ( somewhere in 1500-1300 BC). We have found tablets from the Indus civilization showing a figure in the lotus position of Yoga.

And the Indian Christians are special too, because they were converted by the Apostle Thomas in Tradition, and their community could be even older - going back to the times of Solomon when Ophir (India) is mentioned as supplying gold and sandlewood for his temple. In this theory, the Christians included many converts from the pre-existing Jewish "Nasrani" community from Bible times there. So their views on Yoga would be interesting.

I would like to hear what Fr. Thomas says in his long speech on Yoga (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nnvy9LFEiM), but it's in Malayam. I think only someone like Mor can tell us what he is saying.

Feel free to read the Metropolitan's press release: http://malankaraorthodox.tv/?p=36477

Dr. Thomas on the St Gregorios page recommends as an alternative chanting "Om, Shanti! Shanti! Shantihi!"
Shantihi means "calm". Om etymologically seems to mean agreement or permission, related to the Dravidian (probably pre-Aryan) Aum, meaning Yes. It is considered a divine sound and Asko Parpola likens it to "Amen" in Christianity.

But am I really comfortable chanting Om? Part of me wants to. It sounds neat, deep, enchanting. But doesn't that invoke a Hindu religious mindset with all kinds of foreign perceptions about God and the Universe?

We can't just assume that something is in Sanskrit or Malayam that it is wrong. Malankara Orthodox call their prayers Dhannya, the Sanskrit word for Meditation. Maybe it's related to Dihanie, the Slavic word for breathing, since Slavic and Sanskrit are sister languages. After all, Yoga relies on breathing exercizes.

Here he writes more on meditation, connecting it to belief in the Chakras, what I think Indian philosophy sees as energy centers in the body:
Quote
You keep focusing on the vibrations of the sound of the mantra emanating from your heart center (Anahata Chakra) that is located at the mid-point between your nipples. The heart that we refer to here is not your anatomical/physiological heart. It is a center of subtle energy and is the midpoint of the body’s other such subtle energy centers. This center is considered to be the center of the “spiritual heart”. Imagine this place to be the center of Christ-Consciousness that is within you as well as in everyone and everything else in the Universe. Meditating at this heart center is the “prayer of the heart” that is described in the Christian monastic literature, and what the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture, considers as more potent than external prayers.

The second subtle energy center suggested by meditation masters is on the forehead at the midpoint of your eyebrows. This center known as the Ajna Chakra is more suitable for people who are emotionally very labile. Wisdom, insight, discernment, and intuition are all qualities attributed to Ajna Chakra.
http://stgregorioschicago.org/articles/meditationpracticesforchristians.html

The forehead between the eyebrows and its role can be seen in the Hindu use of putting markings or dots on the forehead. Dr. Thomas' page on meditation is quite long, and I recommend reading it for yourself.

He ends by talking about a part of yoga that is especially appealing to me, that in some forms of the meditation, one focuses on God, God's unity with the meditator, and God's all-pervasiveness. Hence he writes:
Quote
Swami Vivekananda mentions a final step: Samadhi and illumination or the realization of the Divine. This is the goal of meditation or Dhyana and of all spiritual practices. However, in order to avoid frustration and a sense of failure the ordinary practitioner will be better off not to get hung up on this goal in his day-to-day practice. Proper meditation will always lead to joy and spiritual fulfillment over a period of years.

=======================

I am also grateful to the Very Rev. Fr. JohnBrian Paprock (Madison, Wisconsin) who published the first version of this article as a booklet...
I thank Professor A.M. Chacko and Professor K. K. Abraham (Aluva, Kerala, India) who took the initiative to publish an earlier version of this article in the Church Weekly in India.  ... My indebtedness and thanks go to the Website of the St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Oak Park, Illinois, the Church’s Vicar Rev Dr. M. K. Thomas, its website editor Mr. Varghese John who have encouraged me to publish this article for the use of Christians everywhere. ...
Earlier editions of this article have been published as a booklet under the title “A QUEST FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION” by Holy Transfiguration Publications, Madison, WI. (2001), and by Church Weekly, Kerala, India (2004) under the title CHRIST CENTERED MEDITATION
So I been on the forum a couple of weeks now.
I have to say,there are some deep thinkers here on the forum.
I really appreciate  the great posts and in depth replies that many take the time to answer
Answer. Thanks to all

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2016, 10:45:39 PM »
After reading this, I understand mcarmichael better.
Dear Mor,

I am not sure what you mean by this, but the thread is not meant as a trick question. My own issue is that I am considering whether and how much to practice yoga, for mental and/or physical well-being. I think Indian Orthodox could have special familiarity with this topic because Yoga comes from India. I am interested in your opinion. If you would feel more comfortable if I moved it to the Polemics section, I can do that.

Rakovsky,

The problem I have with you is that you go and do your own "research" on topics of interest in contexts with which you have just about no familiarity whatsoever rather than first seeking the guidance of people with experience.  With the results of this "research", you concoct various ideas and ask more questions, usually of yourself and your ideas, prompting the concoction of even more ideas.  THEN you invite people who may know something to come and join you in wallowing in the mire.  It's frustrating. 

For example:

I would like to hear what Fr. Thomas says in his long speech on Yoga (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nnvy9LFEiM), but it's in Malayam. I think only someone like Mor can tell us what he is saying.

You said earlier that, because this speech was in Malayalam, you had no idea what it was about.  Here, you tell us confidently that it's a "long speech on Yoga".  I don't have the time or interest to listen to all fifty minutes of this speech, but as far as I can tell, it's not about yoga at all.  He is talking about "Eastern (i.e., Orthodox Christian) spirituality", who God is, how we know and approach God, the importance of the divine initiative/grace in our relationship and engagement with God, the Church as the witness and guarantor of the truth of revelation, etc. 

Akhila Malankara Prarthana Yoga is the name of an organisation.  I would probably translate it as "All-Malankara Prayer Fellowship".  This talk was delivered at one of their annual meetings. 

Notice how I bolded "yoga" and "fellowship".  The word yoga means more than just "assorted Indian exercises".   

Quote
Feel free to read the Metropolitan's press release: http://malankaraorthodox.tv/?p=36477

This is not an official view of the Orthodox Church.  At most, it is the official view of one of its bishops.  Similarly... 

Quote
Dr. Thomas on the St Gregorios page recommends as an alternative chanting "Om, Shanti! Shanti! Shantihi!"

Yeah, there are people like him out there too.  Some of them are genuinely interested in other "Indian" spiritual traditions for the sake of knowledge and comparison with our Orthodox traditions.  Others want to go beyond that and see what, if anything, we might be able to take from what, if anything, is good in those traditions, whether for the benefit of individual believers or to promote "inculturation" or what have you, whether or not they know anything about Orthodox theology in the first place. 

They don't speak for anyone other than themselves.  As for why it appears on a parish website, I have my guesses, but it shouldn't necessarily be assumed to be an official endorsement.   

Quote
We can't just assume that something is in Sanskrit or Malayam that it is wrong.

Thanks, I am so relieved. 

Quote
Malankara Orthodox call their prayers Dhannya, the Sanskrit word for Meditation. Maybe it's related to Dihanie, the Slavic word for breathing, since Slavic and Sanskrit are sister languages. After all, Yoga relies on breathing exercizes.

We don't call our prayers DhannyaDhannya is more like "worthy", "good", "virtuous", "blessed".  We call our prayers praarthanakal, a word which means "prayers".   

I'm going to take a guess and suppose that, on your Youtube safaris, you came across a particular animal called dhyaana(m).  That means "meditation", but not necessarily in the sense of "yoga".  Dhyaana prasangam could be translated "contemplative homily" in the sense of a talk one might hear at a retreat. 

Quote
I am also grateful to the Very Rev. Fr. JohnBrian Paprock (Madison, Wisconsin) who published the first version of this article as a booklet...

Vagantes will support anything that looks even a little legitimate in order to borrow legitimacy. 

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2016, 01:04:54 AM »
The problem I have with you is that you go and do your own "research" on topics of interest in contexts with which you have just about no familiarity whatsoever rather than first seeking the guidance of people with experience.  With the results of this "research", you concoct various ideas and ask more questions, usually of yourself and your ideas, prompting the concoction of even more ideas.  THEN you invite people who may know something to come and join you in wallowing in the mire. 
You are the person with experience who knows something on this, Mor. Thank you for coming in.




Quote
I would like to hear what Fr. Thomas says in his long speech on Yoga (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nnvy9LFEiM), but it's in Malayam. I think only someone like Mor can tell us what he is saying.

You said earlier that, because this speech was in Malayalam, you had no idea what it was about.  Here, you tell us confidently that it's a "long speech on Yoga".  I don't have the time or interest to listen to all fifty minutes of this speech, but as far as I can tell, it's not about yoga at all.  He is talking about "Eastern (i.e., Orthodox Christian) spirituality", who God is, how we know and approach God, the importance of the divine initiative/grace in our relationship and engagement with God, the Church as the witness and guarantor of the truth of revelation, etc. 

Akhila Malankara Prarthana Yoga is the name of an organisation.  I would probably translate it as "All-Malankara Prayer Fellowship".  This talk was delivered at one of their annual meetings. 

Notice how I bolded "yoga" and "fellowship".  The word yoga means more than just "assorted Indian exercises".   
Thank you for clearing this up, Mor. Feel free to ask me things about Russian language if you will want to in the future. I can understand that "Yoga" is a word that can mean much more than only one thing, but I did not know anything about that.
Quote
Hindi yoga, from Sanskrit yoga-s, literally "union, yoking" (with the Supreme Spirit), from PIE root *yeug- "to join"
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=yoga

Quote
There are very many compound words containing yoga in Sanskrit. Yoga can take on meanings such as "connection", "contact", "union", "method", "application", "addition" and "performance". In simpler words, Yoga also means "combined". For example, guṇáyoga means "contact with a cord"; chakráyoga has a medical sense of "applying a splint or similar instrument by means of pulleys (in case of dislocation of the thigh)"; chandráyoga has the astronomical sense of "conjunction of the moon with a constellation"; puṃyoga is a grammatical term expressing "connection or relation with a man", etc. Thus, bhaktiyoga means "devoted attachment" in the monotheistic Bhakti movement.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga#Etymology

Sorry to waste your time listening to the tape, if it was a waste for you.

Quote
Quote
Feel free to read the Metropolitan's press release: http://malankaraorthodox.tv/?p=36477

This is not an official view of the Orthodox Church.  At most, it is the official view of one of its bishops.
OK. It sounds like would be like a bishop in the OCA making some official announcement about Yoga being good or bad - it doesn't mean that it's true for the whole OCA.

Quote
Quote
Dr. Thomas on the St Gregorios page recommends as an alternative chanting "Om, Shanti! Shanti! Shantihi!"

Yeah, there are people like him out there too.  Some of them are genuinely interested in other "Indian" spiritual traditions for the sake of knowledge and comparison with our Orthodox traditions.  Others want to go beyond that and see what, if anything, we might be able to take from what, if anything, is good in those traditions, whether for the benefit of individual believers or to promote "inculturation" or what have you, whether or not they know anything about Orthodox theology in the first place. 

They don't speak for anyone other than themselves. As for why it appears on a parish website, I have my guesses, but it shouldn't necessarily be assumed to be an official endorsement.   
[/quote]
Well, if you want to tell me your guess you can, but if not, that's OK too, Mor.

Quote
Quote
Malankara Orthodox call their prayers Dhannya, the Sanskrit word for Meditation. Maybe it's related to Dihanie, the Slavic word for breathing, since Slavic and Sanskrit are sister languages. After all, Yoga relies on breathing exercizes.

We don't call our prayers DhannyaDhannya is more like "worthy", "good", "virtuous", "blessed".  We call our prayers praarthanakal, a word which means "prayers".   

I'm going to take a guess and suppose that, on your Youtube safaris, you came across a particular animal called dhyaana(m).  That means "meditation", but not necessarily in the sense of "yoga".  Dhyaana prasangam could be translated "contemplative homily" in the sense of a talk one might hear at a retreat. 
Thank you for explaining that Dhannya means good or worthy, and that Dhyaana prasanngam means contemplative homily.

I also found Dhyana yogam it in what you called one of my internet "Safaris":
Quote
St. Mary's Orthodox Valiyapally

SERVICE SCHEDULE

Wednesday - Dhyana Yogam @10.30 am
May I please ask what Dhyana Yogam would be in English? I get that it is not referring to Yoga.

Quote
Quote
I am also grateful to the Very Rev. Fr. JohnBrian Paprock (Madison, Wisconsin) who published the first version of this article as a booklet...

Vagantes will support anything that looks even a little legitimate in order to borrow legitimacy.
OK, so the Oak Park Church, the pamphlet or Paprock are vagante?

So what I am hearing from you is that some Indian Orthodox parishes and authorities like the Metropolitans cited practice and encourage Yoga, but the Indian Orthodox Church does not have a position on it. Is there opposition to Yoga by the Indian Orthodox Church? May I please ask if you have heard things over the years about it?
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2016, 01:12:45 AM »
You made me smile when you said this:
"I'm going to take a guess and suppose that, on your Youtube safaris, you came across a particular animal called dhyaana(m)."


I saw Mohenjo-Daro a couple nights ago. I really liked it.


Just saying
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 01:17:48 AM by rakovsky »
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2016, 01:13:52 AM »
I know, me too. Yoga goes back at least to the Indus civilization, one of the first major ones on earth, which lasted up to 1500 BC, which is the era of Moses ( somewhere in 1500-1300 BC). We have found tablets from the Indus civilization showing a figure in the lotus position of Yoga. ...

... Om etymologically seems to mean agreement or permission, related to the Dravidian (probably pre-Aryan) Aum, meaning Yes. It is considered a divine sound and Asko Parpola likens it to "Amen" in Christianity.

I can't speak to the rest of your post, but the bits like above are a mess, it seems to me. For one thing, your understanding of what yoga really means in India and Hinduism seems extremely small.

Wow interesting topic.
Where i live it seems everybody and their grandmother does yoga. So i was on a health kick and wanted to do some of the
Yoga type Stretches. But got scared to when i saw many Christians evangeticals say not to cause it was evil based on Hindu gods worship .and could lead to bad entities entering a person.  The same type of thing was mentioned about tai chi
Oriental exersise asvwell. Since it was formed with chi energy
Belief. That had roots in another religion.
So to hear it is accepted in some of our  Christian faith surprised me.

American yoga has only a fleeting connection with Hinduism. It can be an important part of American New Age religion, tho.

Evangelical alarmists tend to wrap a kernel of truth in plenty of their own error and sensationalism. I would think if you're surrounded by grounded folks who exercise with yoga, your experience is at least as reliable as some anti-New Age preacher who says yoga infects and maddens its users ...
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2016, 01:25:39 AM »
... Om etymologically seems to mean agreement or permission, related to the Dravidian (probably pre-Aryan) Aum, meaning Yes.
For one thing, your understanding of what yoga really means in India and Hinduism seems extremely small.
Please tell me your understanding of the meaning of "Om". My priest who is from Asia told me it refers to the Divine Sound.

Here is the article by Asko Parpola, a major Indologist and scholar of the Indus civilization on Om:
https://www.scribd.com/doc/15050686/Parpola-Om
On page 6, section 3.6 he writes
Quote
"Om and Hebrew Amen":

...their respective uses may be profitably compared. The Hebrew word meaning certainly, truly, when used formulaically denotes the acceptance of what has been said before. Such a use of Amen is known already from the Old Testament, Deut 27; Jer. 11:5. In the liturgical praise doxology, the congregation replies by pronouncing this word 1 Chron 16, Neh 8:6, Ps 41, Ps 72, Ps 89, Ps 106, and in this connection the word has two shades of meaning 'it is so' and be it so. For non-Vedic parallels from India, see Section 4.10
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 01:29:10 AM by rakovsky »
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2016, 01:46:18 AM »
Holy Transfiguration in Madison, Wisconsin publishes a pamphlet called The Mantra Path by Dr. Joseph Thomas. It says in part:
Quote


Metropolitan Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios invited me to attend the World Congress of Spiritual Concord in Rishikesh, at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, for a weeklong seminar on Meditation. Spiritual leaders from Christian, Hindu...  and Baha’i traditions led the teaching seminars. Many of them had been internationally known meditation teachers and Yogis. Swami Rama of the Himalayan Institute who taught us Pranayama and Vedic meditations had been well known in the West for his supernormal control of physiological functions with yoga and meditation. ... In the Rishikesh conference I learned that meditation practices were not for Hindus and Buddhists only, and that all religions used meditation in their spiritual path. I was surprised at the universality of this spiritual practice as well as the uniformity of the experience regardless of what religious doctrine you had chosen to live by. Genuine respect and love for each other prevailed among all of us in that Conference.
...
And as an Orthodox Christian I was surprised to see all those Hindu and Sikh Yogis and Moslem Maulanas treat Metropolitan Gregorios, a Christian Bishop, as the Spiritual leader among them. Mature spirituality transcends all sectarian differences. There is only one God and when you stand on top of a mountain all the different sides of the mountain are seen as part of the same mountain. Besides learning from each other, our meditation practice and our mutual love helped us experience the Oneness of God, the Supreme Being. The Rishikesh Conference gave me a new impetus to pursue meditation, especially mantra meditation.
http://www.angelfire.com/wi/inroads/tmeditation.html

Dr. Joseph Thomas goes on to find parallels in Orthodoxy:
Quote
Among the books I have read on Christian mantra meditation, The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way, written by an unknown nineteenth century Russian peasant has impressed me the most. Looking into his heart and inhaling he said (mentally), “Lord Jesus Christ,” and while exhaling, “have mercy on me.” We may use a word with similar meaning and the one very familiar to us, Kuriae-elaison or Kyrie-elaison as the mantra.

The Bombay Orthodox diocese has an announcement about Winter Vacation Sunday school, mentioning the yogic practices:
Quote
    BOMBAY REGIONAL WINTER CAMP FOR OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL CHILDREN WILL BE HELD FROM 28TH TO 30TH OF DECEMBER AT VASHI. EMINENT PERSONALITIES FROM DIFFERENT FIELDS WILL LEAD THE CAMP.HG GEEVRGHESE MAR COORILOSE, FR JOMON (VICAR ST BASELIOS KALINA) AND MR BASIL KURIAKOSE BORIVILLI(SEMINARY STUDENT, USA) AND MR JOHN YESUDASAN WILL LEAD THE CAMP.

    THE THEME OF THE CAMP IS “GROW AND GLOW”. CLASSES ON PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT, COUNSELING ETC ARE INCLUDED. “SONG SESSIONS, “CHRISTMAS CAROL SINGING, SKITS, CAMPFIRE, BIBLICAL GAMES, HINDI HOLY QURBANA, INTERACTION WITH HG MAR COORILOSE, DOCUMENTARY,MORNING-YOGA SESSIONS ETC ARE INCLUDED IN THE CAMP.
http://bombayorthodoxdiocese.org/author/admin/page/8/

The Kerala Malankara Asraman and Convent explains these benefits to Yoga:
Quote
Mind:                       

    Calms and clears the mind, bringing us into the present moment
    Relieves tension and stress
    Increases concentration, focus and attention span
    Promotes thinking and memory
    Stimulates auditory processing and responsiveness
    Expands imagination and creativity
    Reduces stress and anxiety
    Improves ability to be less reactive; more mindful of thoughts, words and actions
    Balances energy (high or low)
                     
Spirit:                       

    Builds confidence and self-esteem
    Supports character development and emotional intelligence
    Enhances team skills and social interaction
    Develops discipline and self-control
    Supports individuality and self-expression
    Encourages social and environmental awareness and responsibility
    Supports a sense of universal connectedness
    Inspires respect for self and others
http://www.mountcarmelhss.com/Yoga.aspx

The convent has a video showing the exercises: http://www.mountcarmelhss.com/VideoGallery.aspx
One of the students does a full split at about 9 min. 45 sec. It's impressive. I had trouble even touching my toes as a student.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 01:48:56 AM by rakovsky »
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2016, 12:15:37 PM »
Sorry to waste your time listening to the tape, if it was a waste for you.

It was not a waste of time for me.  I'm familiar with the smear campaigns you've waged on other Oriental Orthodox Churches, armed with a bit of your "research", and I'm not about to let you start on mine. 

Quote
May I please ask what Dhyana Yogam would be in English? I get that it is not referring to Yoga.

I'm going to guess it's a sort of prayer meeting, the main feature of which is a meditation given by a priest or other preacher. 

Quote
OK, so the Oak Park Church, the pamphlet or Paprock are vagante?

The latter.

Quote
So what I am hearing from you is that some Indian Orthodox parishes and authorities like the Metropolitans cited practice and encourage Yoga, but the Indian Orthodox Church does not have a position on it. Is there opposition to Yoga by the Indian Orthodox Church? May I please ask if you have heard things over the years about it?

I'm unaware of any official church position on yoga.  Generally speaking, the "physical exercise" aspect of it is considered acceptable, and there are people who practice and encourage that.  The more religious aspects of yoga, insofar as they are tied up with Hindu theology, philosophy, and devotion, are not allowed. 

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2016, 12:23:16 PM »
You made me smile when you said this:
"I'm going to take a guess and suppose that, on your Youtube safaris, you came across a particular animal called dhyaana(m)."

I don't think that's a photo of India.

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #21 on: September 30, 2016, 12:40:23 PM »
You made me smile when you said this:
"I'm going to take a guess and suppose that, on your Youtube safaris, you came across a particular animal called dhyaana(m)."

I don't think that's a photo of India.

Quote
Tadoba National Park located inside Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve named after God ‘Taru’ or Tadoba is crowned as the jewel of Vidharba; lies in the north-eastern part of Maharashtra in the Chandrapur district.

Contact Details
Tadoba Tiger King Resort
Kolara Gate, Tadoba National Park
Taluka: Chimur
District: Chandrapur
State: Maharashtra
http://www.tadobatigerkingresort.com/about-tadoba.html
http://www.tadobatigerkingresort.com/gallery.html







Maybe some parts of India look like some parts of Africa?
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 12:40:49 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2016, 12:50:00 PM »
It was not a waste of time for me.  I'm familiar with the smear campaigns you've waged on other Oriental Orthodox Churches, armed with a bit of your "research", and I'm not about to let you start on mine. 
I told you what my motive is - I am interested in Yoga, understanding what it really is. And my belief is that Indian Orthodox might have insight into it because Yoga is an Indian practice. I had no idea what Malankara taught on Yoga, and actually expected them to be negative to it like Greeks and Russians are. I am not being judgmental.

And like I said , I value your opinions. Can I read Malayam? Have I ever talked with Indian Orthodox about Yoga? Am I a dedicated Yoga practitioner?
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 12:51:32 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2016, 01:06:48 PM »
Here is the header from Holy Transfiguration's pamphlet. Perhaps it is in Sanskrit or Malayam writing?:


Quote
Quote
May I please ask what Dhyana Yogam would be in English? I get that it is not referring to Yoga.

I'm going to guess it's a sort of prayer meeting, the main feature of which is a meditation given by a priest or other preacher. 

Here is a video titled Dhyana Yogam
www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Y_mWbTm28
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 01:07:27 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #24 on: September 30, 2016, 01:16:23 PM »
Here is the header from Holy Transfiguration's pamphlet. Perhaps it is in Sanskrit or Malayam writing?:

That is Syriac.

Quote
Quote
Quote
May I please ask what Dhyana Yogam would be in English? I get that it is not referring to Yoga.

I'm going to guess it's a sort of prayer meeting, the main feature of which is a meditation given by a priest or other preacher. 

Here is a video titled Dhyana Yogam
www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Y_mWbTm28

Good for you that you were able to find that.  BTW, they're not Orthodox.

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2016, 01:22:17 PM »
Thanks for writing, Svirsky!
You also mentioned that we often metaphorically refer to God as the sun, and that's certainly true, but I don't think we can, nor should, try to then suggest that the Sun Salutation and praying towards the east at dawn are somehow related. We certainly are not worshiping the sun as the prayer at First Hour starts as "O Christ, the true light,"
Well, I think typically yoga practitioners do not say that they are actually worshiping the sun, and I know that even Advaita pantheistic Hindus do not consider the physical sun itself to be a god. However, Dr. Meledath Thomas did claim on the Orthodox Cognate page: "Both factions, those who are in favour of Surya Namaskara and those who are against it, claim it as Sun worship."

Quote
our tradition of praying towards the East is particularly well justified and explained in Orthodoxy

One website "Why do we pray facing East?" references the Magi seeing the star coming from the East:
Quote
The wise men saw signs of the imminent birth of Christ from the East:

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,  (2)  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Mat 2:1-2)
http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-05-16.html

I wonder why they were called "Magi"?
Quote
The term Maga or Magha, still used for some of the local people, particularly Magha Brahmanas, is thought by some to be derived from Magi, a class of early Zoroastrian priests.  This has led to the theory that Zoroastrians once settled here and were absorbed into Hinduism.

Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide - Page 229, https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0143414216
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2016, 01:28:18 PM »
It was not a waste of time for me.  I'm familiar with the smear campaigns you've waged on other Oriental Orthodox Churches, armed with a bit of your "research", and I'm not about to let you start on mine. 
I told you what my motive is - I am interested in Yoga, understanding what it really is. And my belief is that Indian Orthodox might have insight into it because Yoga is an Indian practice. I had no idea what Malankara taught on Yoga, and actually expected them to be negative to it like Greeks and Russians are. I am not being judgmental.

And like I said , I value your opinions. Can I read Malayam? Have I ever talked with Indian Orthodox about Yoga? Am I a dedicated Yoga practitioner?

I think Mor's questioning of your methods is quite understandable. I don't know if it was actually your intention or not to, say, smear the Ethiopian church as fervent cannabis smokers, but the way you framed your... research... and the disparate pieces of information you cobbled together did come across as having some sort of agenda. So you have to understand why your initial post in this thread could make the same impression.

Now, I don't know anything about the Indian Orthodox attitude to yoga, but it's pretty clear that the question of what yoga "really is" is a pretty unanswerable question. Whether one is talking about the term "yoga" or the vast number of disciplines, philosophies, schools, etc associated with it, it seems pretty hard to pin down as any one thing. You might as well ask what art "really is." Of course Indians share a lot of concepts as part of their common cultural heritage; but if you asked Epicurus, Plotinus, and Saint Basil about how the world was made, they would all use some common Greek concepts like the four elements, spheres, etc but mean very different things. Likewise in India a common terminology and cosmology can be turned toward very different ends.
Mencius said, “Instruction makes use of many techniques. When I do not deign to instruct someone, that too is a form of instruction.”

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2016, 01:29:05 PM »
Not Malankara, obviously, but I can offer tu'pennyworth based on 30 years of practice.

A lot of your yoga experience hinges on the teacher you study under, and those can be of all sorts. Some see yoga as more of a spiritual practice than physical (especially those of the Sivananda or Kundalini schools). Some strip away all Oriental elements, even the Sanskrit names for asanas, and see the mental and emotional improvements as direct results of physical changes. Most fall all over the space in between.

You are not obligated to do anything that goes against your religious convictions in order to practise yoga. For every instructor who inserts Hindu or Buddhist devotional elements into their lessons, there's at least another who doesn't. Shop around (that's what taster sessions are for), compare instructors and venues, and don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
I am impressed with your experience! Thank you for writing in, Arachne!
May I please ask if you have an opinion on using Om, mantras, or doing yoga while facing the sun in the morning (Sun Salutation)?

I feel fine doing normal poses and breathing in the gym after a workout, but I don't want to get into Kundalini. Between those two polies is what I want to ask about.
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2016, 02:02:16 PM »
May I please ask if you have an opinion on using Om, mantras, or doing yoga while facing the sun in the morning (Sun Salutation)?

Mantras are problematic for Christians because, even when not explicitly offering devotion to Hindu deities, they are understood to have power in their sound itself, Om being literally the sound that created the world. Sure, in the beginning was the Word, but assuming that the Word was Om is more than a bit of a stretch.

Sun Salutations, on the other hand, are fine. The name is a reference to the sun as a source of energy, and the sequence aims to wake up the body and mind, that's why it is performed at the beginning of a practice session, no matter the hour. Practising first thing in the morning is popular, and has definite advantages in time and energy management, but it's not necessary. There is also a less-known Moon Salutation sequence, very good for winding down an evening practice. Both sequences are 20th-century developments with nothing arcane about them.
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #29 on: September 30, 2016, 02:23:24 PM »
Thank you for your answers to me, Arachne, which I value.

I am feeling more comfortable what you are saying on those two points , Om and Sun-time yoga,
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 02:26:33 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #30 on: September 30, 2016, 02:44:02 PM »


The Malankara Orthodox resisted the council of Chalcedon, and now many of its members are physicists.  It would appear that yoga played an important role in making this possible. 

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #31 on: September 30, 2016, 03:09:46 PM »


The Malankara Orthodox resisted the council of Chalcedon, and now many of its members are physicists.  It would appear that yoga played an important role in making this possible.
Are you on to something?
Resistance to Chalcedon was based on intense suspicion of possible ideas of two separate persons of Christ being in the formula "two natures".
Yoga (literally union) teaches to be at one with..... Nature? God? And then you have the whole ADvaita (Not Two) Ashramam.

OK, well, humor aside, as I understand it Malankaran Orthodox were originally Nestorian due to the role of Persia toward India and the Orient (same thing happened with Nestorians and the Mongols), and only later did Malankarans become Jacobite under the Syriacs.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 03:12:01 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #32 on: September 30, 2016, 03:33:03 PM »
... Om etymologically seems to mean agreement or permission, related to the Dravidian (probably pre-Aryan) Aum, meaning Yes.
For one thing, your understanding of what yoga really means in India and Hinduism seems extremely small.
Please tell me your understanding of the meaning of "Om". My priest who is from Asia told me it refers to the Divine Sound.

The etymology of "aum" is uncertain (think about it -- it's just a sound). However, the religious derivation is well-established. "Aum! -- This syllable is the whole world. Its further explanation is:-- The past, the present, the future ... and whatever else transcends threefold time ... For truly, everything here is Brahman ... The waking state, common to all men, is the letter 'a' ... The sleeping state, the brilliant, is the letter 'u' ... The deep-sleep state, the cognitional, is the letter 'm' ..." The threefold nature of the syllable is varied in other scriptures, or even extended like this: "Aum tat sat--this is considered to be the threefold symbol of Brahman. ... Therefore with the utterance of 'aum' the acts of sacrifice ... and penance. ... And with the utterance of 'tat' ... the various acts of giving performed by the seekers of salvation without aiming at reward. ... The word 'sat' is employed in the sense of reality and goodness ... is used for praiseworthy action." The word is basically a placeholder in a great many theological exercises, and its ambiguity is an important part of the exercisese. We could do worse than reduce it to "God" ("om is Brahman"); however, Brahmanist theology being as complex and holistic as it is, this would scratch the surface.

By the way, if you think its use is parallel to "Amen," you need to listen to some Brahmanic chant ...

As for 'yoga,' as Mor pointed out, it's a Sanskrit word (from the root 'yujir': "to join" or perhaps from 'yuj': "to contemplate"). You'll find it attested long before the emergence of the Yoga denomination of Hinduism, but it did not mean then what it came to mean afterward. The Yoga Sutra is the scriptures of the denomination, written or compiled by Patanjali the great sage, possibly two centuries before Christ. To quote Radakrishnan, "Yoga has become well known in the West [but] not well understood. ... Yoga according to Patanjali is methodical effort to attain perfection through the control of ... human nature physical and psychical. The main interest of Patanjali was not metaphysical theorizing [he accepted the Samkhya denomination's theology and metaphysics] but the practical motive of indicating how salvation can be attained by discipline." To delve into the scriptures themselves, "Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications [sleep, nostalgia, imagination, awareness of pain, &c.]. The mind is possessed of the three qualities: illumination, activity, inertia ... [yoga] is the effort to secure steadiness. ... Disease, languor, indecision, carelessness, sloth, sensuality, mistaken notion, missing the point, instability--these ... are the obstacles. Pain, despair, shakiness, inspiration and expiration are the companions of these distractions. For their prevention: Habituation to the one truth. By cultivating habits of friendliness, compassion, complacency, and indifference toward happiness, misery ... the mind becomes pure. Optionally, by expulsion and retention of breath."

The idea that yoga is identical with bodily exercise and trance can't be found in the scriptures, or in the knowledgable Hindu understanding. For example, consider the famous neo-Brahman theologian Aurobindo. In an introduction to some of his works, he writes that he doubted whether he should take up writing, as he had no training in writing or philosophy. However, remembering that he was a yogi, he considered himself equal to the task, as by right yoga can come right belief and right practice in any pursuit. You'll notice how very unlike an exercise class is yoga as he uses it.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #33 on: September 30, 2016, 03:37:41 PM »
I wonder why they were called "Magi"?
Quote
The term Maga or Magha, still used for some of the local people, particularly Magha Brahmanas, is thought by some to be derived from Magi, a class of early Zoroastrian priests.  This has led to the theory that Zoroastrians once settled here and were absorbed into Hinduism.

Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide - Page 229, https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0143414216
Roshen Dalal

Good grief. Concepts seem just to flow thru your posts unexamined, like roughage thru a norovirus-infected gut.

Here is the header from Holy Transfiguration's pamphlet. Perhaps it is in Sanskrit or Malayam writing?:

That is Syriac.

*facepalm*
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #34 on: September 30, 2016, 03:45:31 PM »

Here he writes more on meditation, connecting it to belief in the Chakras, what I think Indian philosophy sees as energy centers in the body:
Quote
You keep focusing on the vibrations of the sound of the mantra emanating from your heart center (Anahata Chakra) that is located at the mid-point between your nipples. The heart that we refer to here is not your anatomical/physiological heart. It is a center of subtle energy and is the midpoint of the body’s other such subtle energy centers. This center is considered to be the center of the “spiritual heart”. Imagine this place to be the center of Christ-Consciousness that is within you as well as in everyone and everything else in the Universe. Meditating at this heart center is the “prayer of the heart” that is described in the Christian monastic literature, and what the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture, considers as more potent than external prayers.

The heart chakra is different from the "spiritual heart".
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #35 on: September 30, 2016, 04:08:44 PM »
OK, well, humor aside, as I understand it Malankaran Orthodox were originally Nestorian due to the role of Persia toward India and the Orient (same thing happened with Nestorians and the Mongols), and only later did Malankarans become Jacobite under the Syriacs.

Nope.  It's a common misconception, though.

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #36 on: September 30, 2016, 04:21:11 PM »
I wonder why they were called "Magi"?
Quote
The term Maga or Magha, still used for some of the local people, particularly Magha Brahmanas, is thought by some to be derived from Magi, a class of early Zoroastrian priests.  This has led to the theory that Zoroastrians once settled here and were absorbed into Hinduism.

Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide - Page 229, https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0143414216
Roshen Dalal

Good grief. Concepts seem just to flow thru your posts unexamined, like roughage thru a norovirus-infected gut.

Here is the header from Holy Transfiguration's pamphlet. Perhaps it is in Sanskrit or Malayam writing?:

That is Syriac.

*facepalm*

:)
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 04:21:31 PM by Mor Ephrem »

Offline rakovsky

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #37 on: September 30, 2016, 04:32:09 PM »
Nope.  It's a common misconception, though.
May it be proven clearly and conclusively one way or the other?
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 04:44:37 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #38 on: September 30, 2016, 04:37:01 PM »
Nope.  It's a common misconception, though.
It be proven clearly and conclusively one way or the other?

What would you accept?

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #39 on: September 30, 2016, 04:46:33 PM »
Nope.  It's a common misconception, though.
It be proven clearly and conclusively one way or the other?

What would you accept?
Writings dated to well before the alleged end of Nestorianism, saying that the Church of India was or wasn't Nestorian, Miaphysite, Severian, Jacobite, or under the Syriac or Nestorian Patriarchates.
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #40 on: September 30, 2016, 04:55:53 PM »
Nope.  It's a common misconception, though.
It be proven clearly and conclusively one way or the other?

What would you accept?
Writings dated to well before the alleged end of Nestorianism, saying that the Church of India was or wasn't Nestorian, Miaphysite, Severian, Jacobite, or under the Syriac or Nestorian Patriarchates.

What does that even mean?  There is no "alleged end of Nestorianism" because there wasn't a beginning. 

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #41 on: September 30, 2016, 04:56:59 PM »
Nope.  It's a common misconception, though.
It be proven clearly and conclusively one way or the other?

What would you accept?
Writings dated to well before the alleged end of Nestorianism, saying that the Church of India was or wasn't Nestorian, Miaphysite, Severian, Jacobite, or under the Syriac or Nestorian Patriarchates.

Preferably commencing, "Dear Rakovsky."
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #42 on: September 30, 2016, 04:59:27 PM »
Nope.  It's a common misconception, though.
It be proven clearly and conclusively one way or the other?

What would you accept?
Writings dated to well before the alleged end of Nestorianism, saying that the Church of India was or wasn't Nestorian, Miaphysite, Severian, Jacobite, or under the Syriac or Nestorian Patriarchates.

Preferably commencing, "Dear Rakovsky."


Or titled


"Minutes of the annual meeting of the Nestorian Church (not including the Church of India)"  dated right before this alleged end.
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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #43 on: September 30, 2016, 05:45:24 PM »
What does that even mean?  There is no "alleged end of Nestorianism" because there wasn't a beginning.
I meant that some allege that it was Nestorian under the Patriachate in Persia. So whatever time those theoriets allege that this stopped is what I meant by alleged end.

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Re: What do Malankara Indian Orthodox teach about Yoga?
« Reply #44 on: September 30, 2016, 06:10:29 PM »
If you're worried about whether yoga is appropriate, just try a different type of fitness. Lift weights, walk on a treadmill, and so forth.
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