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Yoga Part 2

Continued from Yoga Part 1...

Jnana Yoga: 'Yoga of Knowledge'

The capacity to discriminate between real and unreal, and the ability to renounce the unreal, makes the person fit to liberate himself through the Jnana Yoga. It is very difficult path, and razor sharp precision is required to follow it. Such persons are of philosophical bent, intensely intellectual and often mistaken as dry individuals. They appear to tread their path all alone, and are very bold and fearless. Whatever is deduced to be unreal by intellectual analysis is rejected outright and renounced, as someone may discard poison.

While Swami Vivekananda was preaching this Yoga, many got the impression that he favored practice of this Yoga over other yogas. This was not the case, however, because Swami Vivekananda had something for every according to his or her capacity and aptitude. He compared the courage to face the spiritual conviction of a Jnana Yogi to that of 'facing the cannon.'

The discrimination between real and unreal ultimately leads the aspirant to the stage of superconsciousness state -the Atman or Brahman. This is perceived as the only Reality for which all the planes of relative consciousness are given up. This is a very bold demand on an ordinary human being, born as such of the weaknesses of and mind. Therefore, only a few souls are fit to undertake sadhana of Jnana Yoga.

Karma Yoga: 'Yoga of Action'

In the third chapter of the Gita, Lord Krishna elaborates the secret of this Yoga. Arjuna asks, "If Jnana Yoga is superior to Karma Yoga, why is it that Sri Krishna is persuading him to engage in the dreadful action like war?" To this, Lord Krishna answers, "Undoubtedly no person born as a human being can live without doing action. Actions are forced upon every individual according to his mental make up, which in turn is determined by his inherited nature, and past and present impressions."

The secret of 'Yoga of action' is to do all the righteous activities skillfully, but without getting attached to them. Lord Krishna also exhorts Arjuna to be busy in his activities in this way, because work done without attachment leads one to Liberation. This is the secret of Karma Yoga.

Moreover, the common folk follow the example set by the leader or a wise man. Therefore also, it is imperative that a person should be busy in righteous skilful actions. Not only this, just like ignorant people are busy in activities seeking selfish ends, so also the wise men of illumination should work ceaselessly to achieve selfless ends for the welfare and the benefit of many.

Work incessantly, but let the impressions of the results of work not enter your thought, not affect your mind. Work as worship. Doing good to the others helps initially to develop purity of mind, and in this purified mind arises the intense desire to become Free. Also, there develops sharpness of reason so essential to transcend the reason itself, so that power of intuitive thinking can take its place. Every action, every work, done from this point of consideration takes the person from bondage to freedom, from selfishness to selflessness, from hedonistic preoccupation to altruistic broadness.

One should attempt to reach that stage of the wise man that can shake the world by a few thoughts of intense spirituality, sincerity, and concentration. Let some people do good to the world, let others engage themselves in their trade of loss and profit; the person trying to learn the teachings of Karma Yoga should become utterly 'selfish' from a different point of view. He should become 'selfish' to seek liberation from the bondage of both good and bad effects of karma. Thus, establishing oneself in the plane of total disinterestedness the Karma Yogi works.

Every action and thought is thus conducive to learning this great truth. It is a blow given to the soul in the form of experience to learn from. Gradually the idea of 'renunciation and service' becomes established in the person through the practice of Karma Yoga. Such yogis of action write a new epic in every age. The good of the world and himself is inherent in such Yoga -as a by product.

Occasionally, a great Soul sets the wheel of Dharma (religion) in motion! Sri Krishna is a shining example, and Buddha no less. Every phase of human history will find karma-yogis of different stature who knowingly or unknowingly would continue to work in this fashion.

Bhakti-Yoga: 'Yoga of Devotion'

There is a certain class of people for whom intense 'love for God' plays important role in defining their religious attitude. These are emotional persons who believe in personal God - in a particular form or idea. This form of God becomes their Chosen Ideal -the 'Ishta Deva'. Swami Vivekananda in his discourses on Bhakti Yoga defines Bhakti as intense love for God without any expectation of reward, return, or fear. The natural tendency of sectarian love, love towards spouse, children, relatives, love for wealth, name and fame, etc., is directed towards God in this Yoga. Initially, there is no suppression of thoughts or tendencies, on the contrary, every mental tendency is directed towards God and thus sublimated. Whole world is seen as manifestation of glory of the Godhead -Ishta.

Bhakti Yoga is, therefore, the most constructive, non-sectarian, and simple to begin with for majority of people. This is truer because non-dual Vedanta is very difficult even to conceptually understand. However, the main danger on the path of Bhakti Yoga is the likely-hood of developing fanaticism, if one ignores that other persons, like him, also have the right to reach the God through their own Ishta Deva and path which may be different from his own. A feeling of hatred and jealousy may creep in his mind on this count. Hence we see quite a few devotees on the path of this Yoga behaving in a fanatical way when dealing with the persons and ideas of other religions.

In the initial stage of Bhakti the devotee takes help of symbols. Rituals like worship, prayers, chanting and singing the glory of his chosen deity are common. The individual worship may culminate in group-worship with formation of a sect where the participating people have common ideal. Such types of sects are very common in the Vaishnava tradition of Bhakti. Sri Chaitanya (example -ISKCON) and many others have had nice tradition of such Bhakti cult.

Soon this lower Bhakti -of rituals and worshipful attitude stabilizes the mind of the sadhaka (person engaged in spiritual practice). The person involved in Bhakti develops 'one pointed' concentration by losing himself in the beauty and love of his Ishta by developing a particular bhava (attitude). Such attitude towards the God may be of friendship -sakhya, servant -dasya, mother -vatsalya, childlike, lover -madhura, or silent divine attachment -shanta bhava. Consciously developing any one of these attitudes, in the beginning, takes the sadhaka to a higher plane of Bhakti -'para-bhakti'.

Higher Bhakti creates a stage where feeling of total devotion and surrender to the Godhead is established. The devotee does not expect anything from his chosen ideal; rather he enjoys giving to the God whatever best he has. The devotee is very happy to surrender his life, money, wealth, fruits of actions, and mind at the lotus feet of his Ishta. A feeling of total renunciation gradually comes in the mind of the devotee. Bhakti becomes the path and the goal, action and its own fruition, simultaneously.

Raja Yoga: 'Yoga of Meditation - King of Yoga'

Raja Yoga is a special class in itself. Literally it means 'king of yogas'. Sadhana of this Yoga is to be undertaken under the supervision of a qualified teacher only. It is absolutely essential for the sadhaka on this royal path to be pure in words, deeds and thought (total continence is called for). These persons right from their early age are pure, contemplative, serene, and mature; much ahead for their age. They have no desires to gratify -either of or of mind. They are able to renounce sense pleasures with ease to such an extent that they think possessiveness as an obstacle in their search for Truth. They are the true scientists in the field of spirituality. Their method is most scientific, as if they perform the experiment to seek super-conscious state -samadhi. Their working laboratory is mind; and the instruments, objects, and subject are all one -the mind alone.

By controlling the outgoing tendencies of sense organs towards the sense objects the yogi stabilizes his energies. These are then directed to the internal world to explore the truths hidden in the depths of mind. The search for hidden divinity may lead to many visions and attitudes -bhava- and occasionally glimpse of that state which we term as samadhi. The energy of concentrated mind is focused on the Atman that is perceived as the Absolute Consciousness, Bliss, and Existence -nirvikalpa samadhi -nondual state of consciousness. If the mind on the other hand is concentrated on one idea, it becomes one with it and takes that form. The idea is exclusively perceived as the only reality and the person is said to experience savikalpa samadhi -consciousness with duality.

By concentration of mind, the yogi develops the faculty of intuition. The intuitive knowledge he gains cannot be obtained by ordinary sense perception. Intuition means going beyond reason, although not contradicting it. Such clearing of inner vision is called as obtaining 'Divya Chakshu' -Divine Vision, as mentioned in Gita (XI: 8).

The state of samadhi that the yogi achieves as the culmination of various yogas is said to be very blissful. It inspires and prompts the sadhaka - spiritual aspirant - to strive to enjoy more and more inherent beatitude therein. Hence visions or bhava themselves stimulate and encourage the yogi to go ahead to reach the state of nirvikalpa samadhi. As the mind itself is transcended the language fails. Hence this state cannot be described in words. It can only be experienced. The experience brings a new knowledge that is ineffable and everlasting. Such a person is said to be liberated from the samsara-sagara, ocean of worldliness.
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