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THE SCIENCE OF YOGA: A STUDY IN PERSPECTIVE MISHRILAL JAIN, Ph.D., and KAMAL M. JAIN, M.D.* The time is here, in this new year, To speak of ancient things, Of yoga and Patanjali, And of the yogi kings. Now you may ask, wherefore this task Of probing Vedic lore? How Buddha attained Samadhi Along the Ganges' shore? Allay your fears, my learned peers, A guru 7 am not, My only quest: to try my best To rediscover Patanjali's thought. To learn with you, both who is who And also what is what. So join with me, my dear friends In examining what the yogis sought. Based on a verse by E. V. Jensen [1] Yoga: A Science of Self Scientific and technological advances, along with a fast, competitive pace of life, have confronted man with unique, often paradoxical, situations . While he has landed on the moon, transplanted the heart, and explored the chemistry of life, he still riots, wages wars, inflicts death penalties, invents means of mass destruction, and frequently does not hesitate to exploit his fellow man for personal gain. It is an interesting contrast that whereas he has obtained considerable mastery over the physical world, he knows so little of his own self and of his mental world! While man's age-old search for peace and harmony and for a better quality of life still remains his major preoccupation, the ever-increasing complexities of civilization have added a host of psychosomatic symptoms and existential anxieties (e.g., "nervous stomach," "tension headache," etc.), to the list of * Address: Box 3235, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21228. Dr. M. Jain, research biochemist, is a student of yoga and Indian philosophy; Dr. K. Jain, practicing physician, is a student of Sanskrit literature. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Autumn 1973 | 93 his problems. The stresses of life threaten both his physical and mental well-being. One wonders: Is there a scientifically valid way for man to know himself? Is there a body of science that will allow man to discover his own consciousness? As a result of disenchantment with the unending race for material possessions and as an alternative to the conventional life style, we have recently seen the development of a "counter culture." More recently, a widening interest in the mystical and altered states of consciousness has arisen throughout North America and Western Europe. Initially, this interest centered around the use of psychedelic and mood-altering drugs. Lately, it seems the focus has shifted toward yoga and transcendental meditation. Besides having its dominant impact on the adolescent and young adult population, this interest in the mystical and altered states of consciousness has increased among physical scientists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals. The intensity of this interest is evident from the fact that arguments for the recognition of a sensual-intellectual approach to nature and for the development of state-specific sciences have been advanced by research scientists [2, 3]. Investigations into the clinical and neurophysiological aspects of mystical states have already been started [4, 5]. It has been said that "perhaps science has much to learn along this line from the disciplines, as distinct from the content, of Oriental religions" [I]. It is not incidental, therefore, that schools, or ashrams, of transcendental meditation and yoga are rapidly increasing. A large number of people, ranging from those in ordinary walks of life to bright young intellectuals and professionals, are being attracted to this movement in a hope of finding the "true," of discovering the "self," of experiencing the ecstatic "mystical union," of feeling the other "dimension," of achieving the psychological peace beyond time-and-space transcendence, and of attaining "real knowledge." In the light of this burgeoning trend, it is appropriate that the scientific validity, the purpose and content, as well as the scope and potential of the science of yoga be carefully determined . This is particularly useful because there exists such a mixture of understanding and misunderstanding, conception and misconception, admiration and skepticism, and fact and fancy with respect to this discipline . The present article endeavors first to present, from a scientific point of view, a detailed examination of the basic principles and techniques of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 93-102
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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