By David Frawley
The Solar Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita
Krishna himself in the Bhagavad Gita states that he taught the original Yoga first to Vivasvan, the Sun God, who passed it on to Manu, the primal human sage, who is called the son of the Sun. Krishna states:
I taught this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvan (the Sun God). Vivasvan taught it to Manu (the first king and law giver). Manu taught it to Ikshvaku (first king of the solar dynasty).
This Yoga was handed down in a continual lineage as the royal sages know. But after a long period of time, this Yoga has declined in this world.
Today I have spoken that same ancient Yoga to you, Arjuna, because you are my devotee and my friend, and it is the highest secret teaching.
Bhagavad Gita IV.1-3
The Solar Symbolism behind the Yoga Sutras
The traditional founder of Yoga Darshana or the ‘Yoga system of philosophy’ – which the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali represents – is usually said to be Hiranyagarbha, which means the “Golden Embryo” and is identified with the Sun. The Mahabharata (Shanti Parva 349.65), the great ancient text in which the Bhagavad Gita of Sri Krishna occurs and which is sometimes called the ‘fifth Veda‘, states: “Kapila, the teacher of Samkhya, is said to be the supreme Rishi. Hiranyagarbha is the original knower of Yoga. There is no one else more ancient.”
In the Mahabharata (Shanti Parva 342.95-96), Krishna states, identifying himself with Hiranyagarbha: “As my form, carrying the knowledge, eternal and dwelling in the Sun, the teachers of Samkhya, who have discerned what is important, call me Kapila. As the brilliant Hiranyagarbha, who is lauded in the verses of the Vedas, ever worshipped by Yoga, so I am also remembered in the world.” In the Mahabharata, Hiranyagarbha is said to have given his teachings on Yoga to Vasishta, the most famous of the rishis of the Rigveda, from a continual line of teachings existed, extending to Patanjali. Vasistha is also the source of a series of astrological teachings, which are most connected to his grandson ParasharaYajnavalkya, the Solar Guru of Yoga and Vedanta
Yajnavalkya is an important figure in both Vedanta and Yoga. He is the most famous of the Upanishadic sages, to whom most of the Brihadaranayaka, the longest of the older Upanishads is ascribed. He is said to have received his Vedic mantras directly from the Sun God as Aditya.
Yajnavalkya appears as the teacher of the Yogi Yajnavalkya, probably the most important traditional text on Yoga after the Yoga Sutras, widely used in Vaishnava circles in India, including the Ramanuja line that Krishnamacharya was part of. The Yogi Yajnavalkya reflects a strong solar symbolism. It has extensive teachings on Om and the Gayatri mantra. The version of the text that I have (Brihad Yogi Yajnavalkya Smriti from Kaivalya Dham), states IX.88: “the Sun, the Self of the world, is the Prana placed in the heart.”
The Sun and Prana
In the Maitri Upanishad VI. 1-3, the Sun is identified with Prana: “The Self bears himself in two ways. As Prana and as the Sun. Such are his two paths, outer and inner, that revolve by day and by night. The Sun is the outer Self and Prana is the inner Self. The movements of the inner Self (Prana) are measured by those of the outer Self (the Sun).” Our Prana is our inner Sun that marks our inner days and nights that follow a similar course as the outer days and nights.
This Upanishadic idea reflects older Vedic views. Yajnavalkya’s Satapatha Brahmana states that we have 10,800 breaths by day and night. This equals 720 breaths every 48 minutes (1/30 of a day), which he identifies with the general number of days and nights in a year. It amounts to one breath every four seconds. Our term of 21,600 breaths lasts for a life of 100 years. This means that we can make our lives longer by breathing longer and make our lives shorter by breathing more quickly.
In the yogic view of the subtle body, the right or solar (Pingala) nadi governs the movement of fire, heat and activity at a physiological level. The Sun is also present as the solar plexus fire in Hatha Yoga, as well as the Atman in Raja Yoga. The key to Pranayama is to draw in the Prana of both the inner and the outer Suns and regulate it towards transformation.
The Sun and Mantra
Chanting mantras in the sunlight, particularly along with standing in water and offering the mantras to the solar deity, is one of the most powerful of all Mantra Yoga practices and can be used with almost any mantra. It works particularly well with solar mantras like OM, Hreem or the Gayatri mantra. Sound is also light, so that we can use the Sun to energize all mantras. Hreem is the most important of the bija mantras said to carry the power of the Sun. But the solar energy is the root of all mantras.
The Sun in Tantric Yoga
In Tantric Yoga as in the Upanishads, the Sun at a deeper level, is identified with the heart, particularly the spiritual fire force of Shakti in the root chakra and the lunar or water force (Soma) of Shiva in the crown chakra unite in order to create it. Agni is the red point, drop or sphere (bindu) and Soma is the white bindu, which unite to create the Sun as the golden bindu.
In the dawning ecological age, we are once again recognizing the spiritual powers at work behind the forces of nature, the most important of which is the Sun. We need to cultivate the external Sun not only as an energy source, but the inner Sun as a source of inspiration and meditation. This once more provides us a world view in which we can appreciate the spiritual teachings not only the Vedas, Yoga and Tantra, but of all solar traditions of truth and enlightenment, which have counterparts all over the world and many of which are undergoing renewal.
The best ways to access this power of the spiritual Sun can be listed briefly:
Perform the Sun Salutation particularly in the morning to the Sun, preferably honoring the different names of the Sun.
Practice Prana Yoga or Pranayama, including alternate nostril breathing and honoring Prana as the inner Sun in the heart.
Practice Solar or light based mantras, like Hrim, Gayatri, or the Hamsa Mantra.
Use the sunlight to energize the water and the herbal beverages that you drink.
Visualize God or the guru or whatever you are most devoted to as dwelling in the Sun of your own heart.
Practice Self-inquiry or meditation upon the source of all light as the Self or pure I, the spiritual Sun within the heart.
The simplest thing to do is to greet the sun every day with the astrological mantra:
Om Sum Suryaya Namah!
There is nothing more obvious to us than the Sun and nothing with such an all-pervasive influence our lives. Yet we usually forget the spiritual splendor of the Sun living in its reflections. However, without honoring that inner Sun, our inner world is likely to be tainted with darkness, regardless of the condition of the outer world.
The ancient solar Vedic Yoga involves resurrecting the Sun out of darkness, which is the Sun of our own true Self hidden in the darkness of the material world and the ego-mind. Each one of us is a Sun, a universal light of consciousness, but that solar aspect of our being must be regained through the process of Yoga Sadhana, which is a return to the Sun.
May you awaken to your inner light that is the supreme light pervading the entire universe!
This article first appeared in www.vedanet.com and it belongs to them.