In October 1794, in the forests of Nepal, a young boy walked in seclusion. His eyes were set in the direction he was traveling, his determination carrying him forward. As he traversed his path, his eyes fell upon an old sage fixed in meditation. The young boy, captivated by the wisdom emanating from the rishi’s concentration, was inspired to stop. As he stood in silence the wise Rishi, still fixed in deep meditation, felt a presence. But this was not an ordinary sensation. It was powerful. Every fiber of the sage’s being screamed with an impulse to open his eyes. As the wise old man lifted his eyelids, his gaze met that of the young boy’s. The two looked at each other in silence. They felt a connection. It was comfortable. The silence lifted as the young boy spoke, “O Rishi, what is your name? You appear to be very well versed in the science of yoga. This is a tradition I deeply desire to learn. Please teach me.” The wise sage answered in a deep and sonorous voice, “Yes I am a master of ashtang-yoga. My name is Gopal Yogi. What is your name?” The young boy answered…
Perhaps you know this story? That’s right. The young boy was indeed Nilkanth Varni. He stayed with Gopal Yogi for an entire year as his disciple to learn the art and science of yoga. In that time, Nilkanth was able to become a full fledged master of ashtang-yoga, a level that many aspire to reach, even after a lifetime of strict practice.
Why do you think Nilkanth put so much importance on yoga? The answer is because the ancient Hindu practice of yoga helps one to gain control over the mind and body. With this control, a practitioner of yoga – a yogi – is able to concentrate his/her vrutti on God with more clarity and connection. The Bhagvad Gita, the Vedas, the Upanishads and many other Hindu shastras proclaim the greatness and importance of yoga. In Sanskrit the term yoga has many meanings. It is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning, ‘to control’ or ‘to unite’.