Knowledge is Power and invisible Wealth of a person. This is the general knowledge or education one receives in school and colleges. It is called Veda, Gnyan or Vidya. But there is a second knowledge, Self-knowledge (Atma Gyan). In Yoga one studies this Self knowledge or Who am I? The study of a few early steps like Yoga postures (Asana) and Breathing Exercises (Pranayama), impart immediate peace of mind, good sleep (in cases of insomnia), control and cure of Blood Pressure in many cases. Yoga meditation alleviates anxiety, worries and tensions and creates a sense of well-being, positive thoughts and mental tranquility.
After mastering the 7th step of concentration (Dhayan) and the 8th step of Samadhi (Bliss state of mind) one understands perfect rules of Mother Natura and Omnipresence of God.
By Yoga study when a student reaches the Samadhi stage, he understands "I am not physical body, not mind or a bundle of endless desires, but pure soul". Then only one gets liberated from all false Egos, like "I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, I am an American or an Indian, or I am a doctor, a lawyer, a king, a military general, a priest, a great scholar, etc,.".
True self-realization occurs when one reaches this understanding- "I am a human being just like any other living human being”. Cosmic Light of God may be seen when all egos disappear. This is called Spiritual Vision.
Yoga study unfolds dormant divine SELF within and leads to conviction of Universal God. Such a person does many humanitarian deeds without any Ego as a true Devotee of God. A Yogi has no fear of death.
Yoga is a wonderful Art and Science of India’s heritage and culture. Many right and wrong notions prevail about benefits of Yoga in India and abroad. First introductory class explains the meaning and purpose of Ashtang Yoga study.
*(Ref. The Text Book of Yoga, By Swami Brahmanand Saraswati - formerly a neuro-physician Dr. Rammurti Mishra M.D. Ashram in Spring vally NY. USA).
4. GURU SEARCH FOR YOGA STUDY.
Yoga is a religious and spiritual study. It demands life long practice (Sadhana). Personal guidance and supervision of a spiritually enlightened, self-realized, non-greedy, knowledgeable teacher is always needed for learning Yoga up to the seventh step of Dhyan. The word ‘Guru’ means a teacher. It also means an elderly person and any man of wisdom and experience.
Just as one cannot learn music by knowing musical keys and reading a few music books, in same way one cannot learn Yoga by seeing postures and reading Yoga books.
All people need Peace of Mind to think well. People also want love, enjoy wealth, and live in good family relations and harmony in society. 'Hurry makes Curry'. 'Patience, Peace of mind and Perseverance are 3 most important “Ps” in Yoga study. RELATIVES OF A YOGI.
A saintly king (Rajarshi) Bhartuhari (8th Cent.AD?), describes in following manner all mental states- as relatives of a Yogi in his following famous verse.
Eite yasya kutumbino vada sakhe, kasmad bhayam Yoginaha. "Patience is his Father, and Forgiveness is his Mother. Eternal Peace (Bliss) of mind is his Wife, and Truthfulness is his Son; Compassion is his Sister and always a well Controlled Mind is his Brother. He sleeps on hard Ground and Ten Directions are his clothes (is completely naked). Contemplation, Meditation and Spiritual divine knowledge is his Food.
Oh my friend, tell me how such a Yogi will ever be afraid of anybody, any thing, at any time in the world?”
Saint Kabir (12th Cent. AD), also gives some important tips for judging a true Guru or a Saint.
1. Sant sant sabkoi kahe sant biral sansara,
Sinhanka tola nahi kanchanka na pahad
"Every one proclaims, "I am a saint, I am a Yogi", but it is difficult to find a true saint, because lions do not live in herds and mountains of gold are not found in the world."
2. Char chinh hari bhaktake pragat dikhai det,
Daya dharma aadhintaa par dukhko har let.
"These are four obvious signs to recognize a true devotee of God quickly. He is a man of Compassion, Morality (religion), Devotion to God, and helps other in difficulties without any ego or expectation of rewards".
3. Aash tyaje, maya tyaje moha tyaje, aru mana.
Harsha shoka ninda tyaje, kahe Kabir sant jan."
A saint is a selfless, desireless person who has conquered 'Maya' (family attachments), is not in illusion (Moha), never feels insulted by criticism nor elated by praise, does not criticize others, has no fear of death, has no anger or jealousy, is simple in life style, and not attached to political position.
Yoga is a subjective study of one's own self- Swa-adhyaya. Yet a Guru is necessary for learning Yoga. He must have basic knowledge of biology and other sciences.
Take sufficient time in finding a Guru. Indian Gurus frequently quote sentences like these.
"Do not inquire about the past of a Guru or a Sadhu". But this is wrong. Yoga students must try to find the past life and family background of a Guru and judge about his worldly general knowledge. Inquire how he became a spiritual teacher. Also find Guru’s greed for money, observe his temperament, food habits, vices like drugs, alcohol, smoking, attitude towards poor, females and untouchability etc,.
Beware of disciples talking about wonderful powers of their Guru, doing miracles etc.,. Never get impressed by the number of disciples any Yoga Guru possesses. Simple commonsense says that a bachelor Guru cannot teach good family values to married men or women.
Pranayama practices and chanting of OM, and some Mantras immediatedly pacify all minds for a short time. Any agitated mind experiences a wonderful peace by doing any Pranayama. The psycho-physiological effects of conscious breathing and chanting Mantra are universal.
"Matru Devo Bhava". Mothers are living Goddesses. They distribute God's love on earth to all people. This is the preaching of Upanishads. Hinduism places women next to God.
"Janani Janmabhumi cha Swargad api Gariyasi". Mother and Mother-land are higher than heaven.
"Yatra Naryastu pujyante, ramante tatra devataha". Where ladies are respected as Goddesses, children born from them become deities. They create a heaven in home and that land".
Living in family love and harmony, living together is Yoga. Prayers, mantra chanting, diet control and regular scriptural study are integral parts of Yoga study.
Patanjali’s Ashtang Yoga is only one Hindu Darshan. It needs to be studied with some other Darshans like Sankhya, Vedanta and the Bhagavat Gita.
Yoga study creates wonderful ability of reading thoughts of other people. This is called 'Par-Kaya-Pravesh'. Look at the life of Lord Krishna in Mahabharat from above point. Krishna asks to fight and kill Arjuna his own Guru, because the Guru had failed to deliver justice and was on side of evil minded, ego-blinded ruler and his arrogant sons.
Krishna preaches, “Become a Saintly-King Rajarshi. Try to establish a kingdom of equal justice for all”. This must be the final aim and goal of every Yoga student.
The study of Yoga brings material happiness (Siddhies), by teaching how to do correct Karma. Later it brings Spiritual Vision and Joy during this very life, and not in next life after death as many Gurus talk and preach in India.
Introduction: 5. PEACE INVOCATIONS SHANTI PATH We will observe in coming chapters, that the first two steps of Yoga teach Eternal (Sanatan Dharm) morals of Religion, commonly found in all world religions.
Peace invocations or Shanti Path is done before starting Yoga classes. Some start with simple Pranayam and Mantra chanting. The following Mantra are recited in morning Yoga classes. Any individual doing meditation practices at home should recite a few long OM chantings at beginning.
The Mantra suggest purpose, meaning of prayers and correct attitudes towards all people.
All participants join in chanting Shanti Path like a musical chorus.
(2). Let rule of equal justice of a mighty king protecting all people prevail in our land. Let cattle and men of wisdom ever remain happy. Let people of all classes be happy and prosperous in all respects.
(3). Let there be timely rainfall, let our mother-land remain ever green and give plenty of food and flowers. Let there be no crimes, riots and unrest in the country, and men of knowledge, wisdom and vision ever remain fearless.
(4). Let happiness of all kinds come to everybody; let peace come to all families, let everyone be perfect, prosperous and joyful.
(5). Let all be happy and healthy; let all people see good things in life and let unhappiness of any kind not come to anyone.
(6). Oh Lord, Lead me to Truth from untruth, lead me to Light from darkness, lead me to Immortality from (by my) death.
(7). That (Universe) is perfect; this (my body, mind, intellect and/or soul) is perfect; perfect arises from perfect; but even if any perfect goes out from perfect; still perfect remains.
Remember the points expressed in Shanti Path. Yoga study is done to achieve above Goals.
The last verse declares that perfect rules of Mother Nature apply to all human beings, plants and animals in a perfect manner.
By meditation and study of the Gita one understands one's own limitations of knowledge, time and place. The same limitations apply to all other human beings in exactly same and perfect manner.
This understanding comes by Self Meditation, which in turn creates a sense of equality, positive attitudes, self-confidence and removal of all inferiority complexes.
God is Absolute reality and Ultimate Truth. Section: I
Introduction: 6. EIGHT STEPS OF YOGA IN BRIEF. Let us have a brief over view of the 8 steps of Yoga. We will learn more about each step in other chapters.
The Old-Wine of Self-knowledge (AtmaGyan) is presented in a new bottle of “Modern Science”.
The eight steps of Yoga teach, Eternal Universal Religion of Global Mankind or Sanatan Dharm, Good Health of Body and Mind, how to achieve material wealth and successes and finally Art of Uniting with Universal God (Yoga with God) by mastering the last step of Samadhi.
The “Path of Yoga” is not Easy. But the theoretical knowledge of 8 steps will help any curious student. He will start correct Yoga practices in daily life.
1. Yama: Fear of death. Yama is imaginary Deity God of Death in Hinduism. Yoga liberates one from natural fear of death. Five words must get translated in life to “Postpone Death”. These are Satyam (Truth), Ahimsa (non violence), Asteya (no thefts, no dishonesty), Aparigraha (no greed of money, material wealth or political high positions etc), and Brahamcharyam (Sex-Control).
2. Niyama:Well Disciplined Life.
Five more words are indicated in this 2nd step for health of body and mind. Santosh (satisfaction with any situation in life), Saucham (Cleanliness of body, food, water, air, etc,), Tapa (Vegetarian diet, enduring some hardships like hunger, thrust etc, for a few hours, a day or two. Swadhyay (Observing one’s own self by daily meditation), Ishvara Parinidhanam (Surrender to God, all events occurring in daily life).
3. Asana: Nearly 300 Asana (body postures) are shown in different Yoga books. They are static postural exercises for preserving full mobility of all joints and tone of muscles. Relaxing Asana like Sabasana and Pranayama (Breathing exercises) are done in between different Asana.
4. Pranayam: Various Breathing exercises.
Nearly 96 types of Pranayam are described in different Yoga books. Pranayam brings the ‘sub-conscious vital system of respiration under conscious’ voluntary control. This creates wonderful peace of mind, feeling of well being and tension free Mind.
5. Pratyahar: Self control practices of the five senses and five organs of actions (Karm-Indriya) start with this step. Tapashcharya teach victory over sensual cravings of short term joys, e.g., taste of eating, smoking, alcohol, drugs etc, Listen to words of wisdom from all Gurus but never become a hypnotized blind disciple of any one Guru.
6. Dharana: Purpose or Goals of Human Life.
Four Age related goals are indicated in scriptures. One goal must be achieved during one Age Quarter. Life of 100 years is divided into four age related quarters (Ashrama). Achieve one goal in one age quarter and observe some vows also.
During Vidyaarthi-Ashrama (first 25 years), get education from parents and teachers (Gurus) in school and colleges. Also learn moral codes of good conduct (Dharm).One important vow indicated during student-age is Celibacy.
During Grahastha-Ashrama, (second age-quarter) live a family life in home. Goal indicated is Earn Money (Artha). Marry and Raise good children, and welcome Atithi or home coming guests.
During Vanprastha-Ashrama, (3rd age quarter), Goal is Kama, meaning fulfill all Desires. Van-prastha word means ‘Go to Jungle’. Its practical meaning is ‘Partial Retirement’, but doing some social service activities in village areas.
Sanyasa-Ashrama. Sanyas means “renouncing with good understanding” all high positions in jobs, wealth and material comforts. Become a desireless saint. Live a simple but purposeful life. Meditate on Self and Soul and try to win the natural fear of death. This leads to a mental state of Nirvana, Kaivalya or Moksh. Be prepared now to meet death (Yama) on any day, at any time.
7. Dhyan: Perfect attention and one pointed Contemplation is Dhyan.
Contemplate daily upon short term plans and current age related main goal of life (Swadhyay). Do all activities- Karma, with a sense of moral duty. Pay perfect attention in job or study and do all deeds in an excellent manner.
Dhyan means perfect attention and full concentration in any job you are doing ‘at the present place- today and now’. Arjuna hitting bird's eye (bulls eye) Target in Mahabharat story is a good example of Dhyan. No anger at any time.
8. Samadhi : In Samadhi state one tries to identify the physical body and soul as two separate elements, by thinking about one's own Day and moment of Death. Most Yoga teachers are vague about Dhayan and Samadhi steps. In deep Samadhi "you are looking at your own dead body".
Associate the moment of your death with respiration and heart beats. Think like this. “I am alive as long as I am breathing and my heart is beating. When my heart stops, I will die”. This ‘Law of Death’ applies to every living human being and animal.
The moment of my death is my next breath or next heart beat. But ‘Today and Now’ is life. Life goes on as long as God is dwelling in my heart. Summary :
Steps No. 1 & 2, Teach ‘Ten words of Morality’ preached in all World Religions.
Steps No.3 & 4, Teach Good health of body by postures Asana and breathing exercises.
Steps No, 5, 6 & 7, deal with Mind control, developing Will Power and how to achieve of all possible goals by daily Meditation.
The 8th step leads a true seeker to SEE, KNOW and Unite with Supreme (One) God- the perfect maker of Universe, when he/she overcomes the natural fear of death.
Don’t try for Samadhi step before age of 75.
No Guru can show you God or teach Samadhi.
Spiritual Vision or Seeing Cosmic Light is an individual’s unique self experience (Swa-anubhuti). One sees Cosmic Light of Universal God.
Remember this Law. All living Gurus are Mortal Human beings, just like you.
Yoga is a perfect science for good health of body, mind, intellect and soul. Yoga teaches how to live a noble and happy well united family life (Sansara-Yoga), enjoy good health, earn fame and name, wealth, successes and ever remain in a state of mental bliss, happiness and satisfaction.
ART AND SCIENCE OF HEALTH, WEALTH
& SPIRITUAL LIFE.
By: Swami Dwiroopanand.
(Dr.H.K. Gandhi – in past life. Jacksonville. FL. USA)