On May 30, 2010, Acharya Hersh Khetarpal gave a much-anticipated speech at the Hare Om Templte outlining the similarities and the differences between Hinduism and Yoga. Below is a brief synopsis of the talk.

It is the Vedas that are the common link between Hinduism and Yoga which form their very foundations. Yoga is in fact one of the 6 main branches of Hindu philosophy. As a result, there is a common belief in reincarnation as well as in karmic philosophy; both believe in the ultimate goal of moksha; both meditate upon the Gayatri mantra; and both have a reverence for the Bhagavad Gita.

Yoga is generally perceived to be the practice of asanas, meditation, and pranayam; however, Yoga is so much more. Yoga actually is a systematized philosophy and practice that aids us in achieving liberation from multiple cycles of birth/rebirth and death by removing our ignorance regarding who we really are.

The word Yoga means Union – union with God. We are all one; there is no separation anywhere. This union can be perceived through a variety of methods including, but not limited to, control of the mind and senses, meditation, caring for the body through asanas, pranayam, and cleansings, and detachment from worldly objects. Yoga directs us towards a righteous path of living; it is the remover of our identification with our physical body; and the aid to achieving moksha (liberation) in this lifetime.

Although Hinduism and Yoga are intertwined in their beliefs – bhatkti (devotion), reincarnation, karma, moksha (to name a few), the key differentiation between the two is how Yoga incorporates techniques of the body (asanas), mind (meditation), and prana (pranayama) in its practices.

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