Yoga at the speed of Light

· Date:January 19, 2010

It is amazing how much Western science has taught us. Today, for example, kids in grammar school learn that the sun is 93 million miles from the earth and that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Yoga may teach us about our Higher Self, but it can’t supply this kind of information about physics or astronomy.
Or can it? Professor Subhash Kak of Louisiana State University recently called my attention to a remarkable statement by Sayana, a fourteenth century Indian scholar. In his commentary on a hymn in the Rig Veda, the oldest and perhaps most mystical text ever composed in India, Sayana has this to say: “With deep respect, I bow to the sun, who travels 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesha.”
A yojana is about nine American miles; a nimesha is 16/75 of a second. Mathematically challenged readers, get out your calculators!
2,202 yojanas x 9 miles x 75/8 nimeshas = 185,794 m.p.s.
Basically, Sayana is saying that sunlight travels at 186,000 miles per second! How could a Vedic scholar who died in 1387 A.D. have known the correct figure for the speed of light? If this was just a wild guess it’s the most amazing coincidence in the history of science!
The yoga tradition is full of such coincidences. Take for instance the mala many yoga students wear around their neck. Since these rosaries are used to keep track of the number of mantras a person is repeating, students often ask why they have 108 beads instead of 100. Part of the reason is that the mala represent the ecliptic, the path of the sun and moon across the sky. Yogis divide the ecliptic into 27 equal sections called nakshatras, and each of these into four equal sectors called paadas, or “steps,” marking the 108 steps that the sun and moon take through heaven.
Each is associated with a particular blessing force, with which you align yourself as you turn the beads.
Traditionally, yoga students stop at the 109th “guru bead,” flip the mala around in their hand, and continue reciting their mantra as they move backward through the beads. The guru bead represents the summer and winter solstices, when the sun appears to stop in its course and reverse directions. In the yoga tradition we learn that we’re deeply interconnected with all of nature. Using a mala is a symbolic way of connecting ourselves with the cosmic cycles governing our universe.
But Professor Kak points out yet another coincidence: The distance between the earth and the sun is approximately 108 times the sun’s diameter. The diameter of the sun is about 108 times the earth’s diameter. And the distance between the earth and the moon is 108 times the moon’s diameter.
Could this be the reason the ancient sages considered 108 such a sacred number? If the microcosm (us) mirrors the macrocosm (the solar system), then maybe you could say there are 108 steps between our ordinary human awareness and the divine light at the center of our being. Each time we chant another mantra as our mala beads slip through our fingers, we are taking another step toward our own inner sun.
As we read through ancient Indian texts, we find so much the sages of antiquity could not possibly have known-but did. While our European and Middle Eastern ancestors claimed that the universe was created about 6,000 years ago, the yogis have always maintained that our present cosmos is billions of years old, and that it’s just one of many such universes which have arisen and dissolved in the vastness of eternity.
In fact the Puranas, encyclopedias of yogic lore thousands of years old, describe the birth of our solar system out of a “milk ocean,” the Milky Way. Through the will of the Creator, they tell us, a vortex shaped like a lotus arose from the navel of eternity. It was called Hiranya Garbha, the shining womb. It gradually coalesced into our world, but will perish some day billions of years hence when the sun expands to many times it present size, swallowing all life on earth. In the end, the Puranas say, the ashes of the earth will be blown into space by the cosmic wind. Today we known this is a scientifically accurate, if poetic, description of the fate of our planet.
The Surya Siddhanta is the oldest surviving astronomical text in the Indian tradition. Some Western scholars date it to perhaps the fifth or sixth centuries A.D., though the next itself claims to represent a tradition much, much older. It explains that the earth is shaped like a ball, and states that at the very opposite side of the planet from India is a great city where the sun is rising at the same time it sets in India. In this city, the Surya Siddhanta claims, lives a race of siddhas, or advanced spiritual adepts. If you trace the globe of the earth around to the exact opposite side of India, you’ll find Mexico. Is it possible that the ancient Indians were well aware of the great sages/astronomers of Central America many centuries before Columbus discovered America?- the M! ayans or Inca-s!!!
Knowing the unknowable: To us today it seems impossible that the speed of light or the fate of our solar system could be determined without advanced astronomical instruments. -as Sanjee argues!!
How could the writers of old Sanskrit texts have known the unknowable? In searching for an explanation we first need to understand that these ancient scientists were not just intellectuals, they were practicing yogis. The very first lines of the Surya Siddhanta, for of the Golden Age a great astronomer named Maya desired to learn the secrets of the heavens, so he first performed rigorous yogic practices. Then the answers to his questions appeared in his mind in an intuitive flash.
Does this sound unlikely? Yoga Sutra 3:26-28 states that through, samyama (concentration, meditation, and unbroken mental absorption) on the sun, moon, and pole star, we can gain knowledge of the planets and stars. Sutra 3:33 clarifies, saying: “Through keenly developed intuition, everything can be known.” Highly developed intuition is called pratibha in yoga. It is accessible only to those who have completely stilled their mind, focusing their attention on one object with laser-like intensity. Those who have limited their mind are no longer limited to the fragments of knowledge supplied by the five senses. All knowledge becomes accessible to them.
“There are [those] who would say that consciousness, acting on itself, can find universal knowledge,” Professor Kak admits. “In fact this is the traditional Indian view.”
Perhaps the ancient sages didn’t need advanced astronomical instruments. After all, they had yoga.

Welcome to Haindava Keralam! Register for Free or Login as a privileged HK member to enjoy auto-approval of your comments and to receive periodic updates.

Your comments, please.


  1. Rahmi Reply

    January 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Astanga Yoga is true
    This is true. Yoga or more precisely referred as Astanga yoga system in Veda is not man made. Rishis were imparted this knowledge in the state of samadhi by the creator itself.My experience about yoga says same(i have not achieved samadhi, but i have experienced God and He listens and He is full of Love and Compassion). Our seers traditionally only used to study vedas and then do hard practice of yoga, yajna (twice daily) and knew entire knowledge. But to follow vedic dharma is difficult but not impossible.
    I have read Patanjali sutras by Swami Ram Swarup ji Part I – II, Corelating vedas, Gita and his own experience of achieving samadhi and awakening his kundalini. it is wonderful.Yes God exist its my experience too.India is the land of rishis/Munis/Yogis/Devi Devtas.
    In Modern times Siddha Yogis have displayed their Divine Powers Openly to instill faith in mortals like us, and to prove ancient culture of India is True are:-
    Swami samarath, shri guru, Pada vallabh Digambara
    Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri.
    Adi shankaracharya
    Swami Gajanana Maharaj of sheganon,
    Saint Gyaneshwar ji,
    Lahiri Mahashaya, swami Yukteshwar Giri, Paramhansa Yogananda
    Swami Vivekananda, Ramkrishna Paramhansa
    Anandmayi Maa
    Trailanga swami – shanki mai Jew(disciple), Ramanna Maharihi , Sheshadri swamigal
    Shirdi Sai nath etc
    many siddhas and many yogis whom our faculty of reasoning doesnot now as they live life of isolation and God contemplation, do not display their powers(siddhis/vibhutis explicity), only their disciples Know them as they experience their grace first hand, again they also do not tell as yogis forbid the disciples to discuss them in front of athiest,wicked,arrogant etc.

    Indeed Great is this land of Bharat where countless God realised souls have dwelled in the past and are still there who have experienced in self the secrets of creation by following vedic path where scientists have failed.
    OM 5

  2. M.R.Kuttipuzha Reply

    January 20, 2010 at 2:19 am

    ‘PRATIBHA VA SARVAM’.Through pratibha,intution,knowledge of evrey thing.But pratibha is not intution.It can’t be translated into English.Sun is intellect,logic.Moon is intution.When one transcend sun and moon,Pratibha comes.Intution is a sudden relevation.But Pratibha is beyond logic and intution.When one achieve Pratibha the future and past is revealed simultaniously.When energy (shakti)enter crown chacra ten million moon and ten million sun meet with in(that is shiva)…then PRATIBHA.Our Yogis and seers have achieved the knowledge of the unknown by becoming pure conciousness with no subject and no object…by directing the light of the superphyscial faculty,knowledge is gained of the subtle,the hidden and distant.
    PATANJALI says..’Bhuvan gyanam surya samyamat’-by performing samyama on the Sun knowledge of the solar system is gained
    ‘Dhruve tadgati gyanam’-Knowledge of the movement of the star is gained by performing samyama on the polar star.
    ‘Chandre vryuha gyamam’-by performing samyama on the moon knowledge of the arrangement of star is gained.According to Yoga man is a small universe,condenced in to small existence..! 5

  3. rav Reply

    February 8, 2010 at 8:06 am

    No Stupidity.
    I am a Hindu and proud. I respect this website and its intentions. That does’t mean I have to agree with this article. Unless you come up with more proof or information I will not listen to this kind. I urge you to stop putting up such articles. 5

Latest Articles from Dharma Smriti