Yoga is so widely practiced today. It is known to strengthen us, give us peace of body and mind, and for many, this is a form of spiritual practice.
During my college days, this beautiful practice attracted me. I realized that the body, mind, and intelligence are a mystery, and there was something mystical about yoga that can reveal to us the deep inner secrets about us and the universe. My goal was to find the secret to all mysteries, and it wasn’t easy at all. Each practitioner of yoga felt that their practice was the highest or unique to all other branches? How could that be? I asked myself; There should be something which is the culmination of all practice. This intense longing led me to read many books about yoga from many branches. It was only when I finally read the Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is by H.D.G. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupādā that I realized that the culmination of all yoga practices.
The Bhagavad-gītā explains that the meaning of the word yoga is union or realizing our connection with God and experiencing love for Him and the practices of yoga gradually lead us to that point. He is our eternal father, the original teacher, the creator of the universe, and most importantly, our Best friend. There was a deep inner voice that told me – yes; this is the ultimate goal. I began to feel a deep inner connection and a feeling that, yes, I would meet my eternal Best friend and be Happy Forever in a state of yoga.The joy I experienced was very internal, deep, and gave me a fresh lease of life.
As I read the Bhagavad-gītā, I realized that it gives us a step-by-step guide on the levels and practices of yoga. However, these practices cannot be accomplished without a teacher. A teacher or Guru is the one who has practiced, realized the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gītā, and established his connection with God or has attained a state of yoga. Now I had faith. My best friend in my heart was guiding me. He wanted me to achieve the highest happiness. I developed this feeling that He has planned something special; all I have to do is understand his plan and set out on my journey. He will hold my hand and take me there. This path is entirely mysterious, and only He can guide us for He the Yogeśhwara or the Master of all Yoga.
Now when I looked back at all traditional yoga texts like the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpika, Gheranda Saṁhitā, Patañjali Yoga sūtra, I could see the obvious connection, they all talk about our best friend, Viṣhṇu within our heart space, our ever wisher and best friend. They call Him the Paramātmā, Supersoul.
Here is one relevant verse I found in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpika, which talks about Him. There are also similar verses in Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In the Yoga Sūtras, He is called as īśvara, whose name is Om, And one who can realize Him in His heart attains a state of yoga.
In the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpika, it is said.
anāhatasya śabdasya dhvanirya upalabhyate | dhvanerantarghataṃ jñeyaṃ jñeyasyāntarghataṃ manaḥ | manastatra layaṃ yāti tadviṣhṇoḥ paramaṃ padam ||
The note of the sound which is heard without anything striking against anything, i.e., without airwaves striking the drum membrane, blends with (an internally aroused) light, and the mind blends with that light. That mind (a combination of sound, light, and mind) disappears, and there remains Viṣhṇu and Viṣhṇu alone.
I tried to visualize my best friend’s beauty, and I found that His beauty is transcendental. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Srila Prabhupada reveals to us this brilliant form. Below is a picture of Him, as described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. He is the ultimate goal of all yogīs.
The heart is the center.
A yogī gradually finds īśvara when he meditates in the region of the heart, in a state of trance, or samādhi. The heart is the center of the body. It is the center of Prāṇa; Heart is also the seat of the mind, intelligence, ego, soul and our best friend, the Supersoul or Paramātmā. Therefore the center of all meditation is the heart.