Yogic practices developed in Dravidian India

Yogic practices were already developed in Dravidian India prior to the arrival of the Aryans, and they were most likely employed by shamans to induce altered states of consciousness that allowed them to execute their duties as seers and healers. With the rise of the caste system, yoga became a tool for both self-transcendence and social emancipation. It enabled an individual to be free of mental barriers and the restraints of a repressive society.

It continues to perform these duties within a variety of the diverse philosophical rationalisations that comprise Hinduism. The caste system gradually developed as the dominant social structure among the majority of Indians. Caste represented the Aryan conquerors’ superiority over indigenous peoples by establishing a hierarchical link between the people and the noumenal power believed to govern the cosmos. Sacrificial ceremonies generated precise results, altering individual and group existence in such a way that the projected cosmic order, and hence the The Yogins of Ladakh social system was preserved.

Even the heavenly foundation of the Universe was thought to be held in place by ritual. The Brahmins were the priestly class in charge of sacrifices, and only they knew the proper procedures passed down from generation to generation. Their mastery over ritual was the key to society’s stability and moral order. A primary injunction was that each individual should follow the laws of the level in society to which he or she had been born, as only this would secure a beneficial rebirth, maybe in a higher caste. Needless to say, such a religion put stringent restrictions on individual behavior and speech.

The fact that intercaste marriage was unthinkable reinforced a highly racist motif emphasizing the Aryan sense of supremacy. Even the princely castes were dependent on the Brahmins, who were the only ones capable of performing the Vedic sacrifices correctly. The cause-and-effect link that held the ritualistically connected society together was known as karma, and the social placement of individuals at birth was viewed as the result of previous lifetimes’ behavior. Individuals’ fates were not given much thought in such a vision, and personal identity was subordinated to the communal consciousness of a person’s birth caste. This social order was only theoretically endangered by ideas that were not revealed.

This Vedic world was eventually modified by renouncers who chose to break free from the entrapping cycle of ritualistic deeds in order to seek personal emancipation from the never-ending iteration of social forms.Nevertheless, “at the moment when a man separates himself from his group – he does so not to recognise his individuality but in order to abolish it, to free his Atman of any individualised feature and to merge it with Brahman.”2 Within caste, a person was so associated with their social position that attempting to claim freedom required abandoning society and social identity rather than establishing autonomous personality within it. The concept of renunciation gained traction, particularly in the Upanisadic writings.

The means of the route were yogic, and they were articulated in different Indian intellectual systems.3 We can see the older layer of pre-caste society re-emerging and claiming a necessary spiritual independence because everything material had become subject to the conquerors’ desire. Even now, some believe that Upanisadic literature preceded the advent of Buddhism. This is not the case; their arrival over a lengthy period was substantially simultaneous and undoubtedly interactive.

Within the caste system, the implicit opposition between Brahmins and Ksatriyas (the warrior classes) took the form of tension between princely rulers, who could not hope for prosperity without offering sacrifice, and those empowered to make the offerings, priests ritualistically pure in their sacred lives but reliant on the Ksatriya princes for their function in the world. But what if a guy made peace with the absolute by his own efforts, without the help of priests?