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As a Yogi, what would Jesus do?Part 3: The practice of Ishvara Pranidhana

By Michael Ketterhagen


The third kriya yoga practice that I believe the human dimension of Jesus of Nazareth practiced throughout his entire life was Ishvara pranidhana, “surrendering to God.”

Being raised in a Jewish family meant always doing the will of mom and dad. We don’t know much about his early childhood, but we do know that when his mother and father were looking for him after their journey to Jerusalem when he was about 12 years old, he protested about his mother’s concern that he stayed behind in the temple (Luke 2:49). After voicing his desire to be in God’s house, his spiritual Father, he returned to Nazareth and became subject to them again. The next passage in the Christian Scriptures is fascinating to me. It states that he was obedient to them (Luke 2:51) and grew in wisdom before God and man (Luke 2:52).

Regularly, in the Christian scriptures we read that Jesus paused before he performed certain miracles and seemed to check things out, spiritually, with his Father. “If this is your will, let it be done.” Even his final words about his coming torture and death, in the Garden of Gethsemani, he prayed that the horrible agony of the future not happen, “but not my will, but thine be done” (Mark 14:36; Matthew 26:39-42). He surrendered to the consequences of his actions against the Jewish and Roman authorities. In his short recorded public life, he regularly broke the rigid Jewish laws (Luke 6:1-5). He called the religious leaders of the day “hypocrites” (Matthew 15:7; 22:18; 23:13) and “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27). He even challenged those leaders during the high holy days as he preached against their religious standards and beliefs right in the Jewish temple (Matthew 21:12-17). The religious leaders went to the Roman leaders of the day and demanded that he be put to death (Matthew 27:22-23). Pilate didn’t want to do that so he had him tortured by whipping him (Matthew 27:27-31). All this was to fulfill the Hebrew scriptures written about the Messiah (Isaiah 53).

Jesus knew the consequences of his actions because from his study of the Hebrew scriptures, he was aware of the prophesies about the Messiah, the anointed one. However, he submitted to the will of his Father, the Creator of the universe’s law of nature, namely, that all actions have consequences. He was submitting to the consequences of his acceptance of his role as the Suffering Servant of God, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ (Luke 4:21). He knew that he must fulfill his purpose and mission in this world, the purpose for which his Father had sent him to the Earth. He was to renew and build the “Kingdom of God” (Luke 4:18-19).


That is the role of the yogi, as well. As yogis, we are to submit to the consequences, the fruits, of our actions. This is surrendering to God. It is the life of all humans, actually. There is no retreat from this law that the yoga tradition calls “karma.” Every thought, word, action carries a consequence with it and Jesus, the Christ, knew that very well.

All three of the kriyas—tapas, svadhyaya, Ishvara pranidhana—are the core of yoga. Whether or not Jesus learned yoga during those 18 unrecorded years of growing up, he definitely practiced each of the kriyas. Like many other Indian yogis, I believe that Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of the Jewish people, the one Christians call Christ, was a yogi.

I bow to the Divinity within you.

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