Report of International seminar on ‘Yoga theory and practice’ on 21st and 22nd February, 2023

Report of the International seminar on ‘Yoga theory and Practice’
Yoga should not be practiced without understanding its theory as explained in Patanjala Yoga-sutras. This was said by Prof Madhusudan Penna, Vice chancellor of Kavikulguru Kalidas University while inaugurating the two day International Seminar on Yoga – Theory and Practice organized on 21st and 22nd February 2023.
This Seminar was organised by the Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai as a part of the ongoing Diamond Jubilee Year Celebrations. Prof. Penna’s thoughts were echoed by most of the participants. While Prof. Penna discussed other yoga theories during Shankaracharya’s times and Kashmiri yoga mentioned by Abhinavagupta in 10th century, Dr. Ganesh Rao elaborated on the three dimensions of yoga – the practitioner, the teacher / researcher and the therapist. He further said that yoga is aimed at the transcendence of body and mind whereas well-being of mental and physical health are just its by-product. His lucid way of explaining serious yoga philosophy enriched the listeners and his quote, ‘Every sutra by Patanjali has practice incorporated in it’, encapsulated the crux of the seminar. 
Dr. Mickey Mehta, Global Holistic health guru and corporate life coach explained how asanas are the lowest denomination of yoga. He explained holding straight seating posture effortlessly and practising will eventually help to transcend yourself to reach to no-mind state or samadhi. 
12 papers were presented by scholars across the two days. Different references of yoga were explored ranging from Ayurveda, Bauddha and Jaina Philosophies, Shakta traditions & Upanishads. A few papers dealt with various facets of Yoga right from samskaras to challenges and from transcendence to cosmophycism. Yoga Ratna Dr. R.S. Bhogal spoke on Meditation and Dr. Jayaraman Mahadevan elaborated on the importance of Jyotsna commentary on Hathayogapradeepika.
A completely fresh approach to yogasutra was given by Dr. Graham Schweig, professor of religion at Christopher Newport University, Virginia. He translates the word chitta (most used concept in yogasutra) as whole-heart rejecting the traditionally used translation. Dr. Graham said, ‘heart is a seat on which soul or atman sits and heart takes the atman to the supreme beloved’. In preparation for his translation and interpretation of the Yogasutra, to come out with Yale University Press in 2023, Schweig has discovered layered realms of the heart, hidden expressions of bhakti and shakti, and the Sutra’s raw conceptions of divinity and grace, when interpreted with elements from Vedanta, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and the Bhagavata Purana.
Prof Uma Vaidya, winner of President Award and the former Vice Chancellor of Kavikulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University, Nagpur in her valedictory address discussed the word yoga used in day to day usage, astrology etc along with their meanings. Dr. Shakuntala Gawde, Head, Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai, while summing up the seminar announced that the department will begin a Masters Course in Yogashastra from the next academic year.

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