Raja-Yoga

Not even for a moment can one remain free of activity

Raja-Yoga

Most of the religions, world over have one ultimate goal : realisation of superconscious perception, of Divine Wisdom, of the unification of "Body and Soul". Raja-Yoga is the science which teaches us how to attain that state of perfection, to realise the power of concentration, to awaken the innate power in the human being.

Yoga as we are made to believe is not about breathing (or) flexing any other part of the body, Yoga means unification of "Body and Soul" and union of Jivatma with Paramatma, being one with the divine and Yogi is a person who practices Yoga. Raja-Yoga puts forth a scientific method to attain that Yogic state. It needs years of perseverance and unselfish attitude to attain that state

All our life we have been trained to analyse the external object. Analyse the equation, analyse the map, analyse the cell and everything else. Raja-Yoga requires analysis of the mind, it is the analysis within, when subject and object are the same. It requires a deep insight of what is going on within the mind and a constant urge to control and change the mind. Fortunately, Human beings have a well developed "Neo-cortex" which gives us the ability to think about what we think. It is only we who can plan on what to plan. This is precisely what is required, to plan on what we think, to plan to remove thoughts of hatred and fear and to unite with the divine

To understand Raja-Yoga, we need to learn a few basics from our Vedas and then relate it to teachings of Patanjali Maharishi's Yoga sutras. First is to understand the Basic Reality, then "Prakriti" and the process of evolution. Believe nothing until you find it out yourself, that is what Raja Yoga teaches us. Reject all mysticism and magic

According to Vedas, the external world is the gross form of internal/subtle. The finer is the cause and grosser the effect. The Cosmos is made of "Prakriti" the elemental undifferentiated stuff of mind and matter. Vedas also teach us the Reality considered as the innermost self of any creature or Object is called "Atman". When the same reality is spoken of in universal aspect, it is called "Brahman". Going back to the point of gross and subtle, it is quite difficult to answer how Brahman is the cause of Prakriti. As the human intellect itself is within Prakriti, answer to this question is beyond the plane of intellect, possible only for a seer in a state of perfect Yoga to experience the relationship between Brahman and Prakriti

Now, we need to understand the whole process of "Creation of Universe". Creation and destruction/dissolution is a repeatbale process. Time and again when this Universe apparently dissolves ( similar to "Ice-Age" as we have heard of)Prakriti remains in a potential seed-state. Prakriti is said to be composed of three forces - "Sattwas, Rajas and Tamas". These forces pass through phases of equilibrium and phases of imbalance. When these 3 forces are in equilibrium, Prakriti remains in a potential seed-state. When the balance is disturbed , re-creation of this Universe begins. These three gunas enter into different combinations with one dominant over others. Hence we have different physical and psychic phenomena making up this world. Such a Universe continues to mutiply and vary its forms till an equilibrium is reached again

Sattwa is the "essence of form" that needs to be realized, Tamas "the inherent obstacle/inertia" and Rajas "the force which removes the obstacles to manisfest the form". For the sake of simplicity, if we consider a human example, say , "A man wants to build a home". The idea of this home-the form of home which he sees in imagination-is inspired by Sattwa. Now he gets a lorry full of bricks,cement and sand. This represents the tamas, its formlessness is an obstacle. Perhaps there is also an element of doubt in man's own mind, will he able to complete the home ? will it be built according to the way he wants within the budget. Now "Rajas" springs into action and comes to his help to complete the home. Well, it is also clear now that all three gunas are necessary, they are opposite yet complementary, rajas without tamas is like undirected energy, similar is the case with other gunas

In the process of evolution, the first stage from undifferentiated "Prakriti" is :

1. Mahat : Mahat is the cosmic ego-sense, the first drawing up of differentiated consciousness

2. Next is Buddhi : Buddhi classifies and reacts to impressions

3. From Buddhi is Ahamkara : the individual ego-sense

4. From Ahamkara, evolution procesds in 3 directions :

i. Five powers of perception : Five Senses

ii. Five organs of action : Hands, Tongue, Feet, Organs of procreation and evacuation

iii. Five tanmattras : subtle forms of sound, feelings, aspect, flavour and odour These five tanmattras, by combining and re-combining produce the five gross elements that define the Universe : Fire, Air, Earth, Water and Ether

To sum it up, what is described here is a process of evolution from the undifferentiated Prakriti to the differentiated Universe . It is extremely important to understand this process of evolution, from the subtle to the gross, with each block adding a layer of ignorance and differentiation. Patanjalis system of meditation is exactly the reverse, starting from the top most layer and going inwards , to reach the state of Unity

The process of meditation needs extreme concentration and one needs to excercise tremendous control on the mind and to a certain extent on the physical body as well . Practice of Yoga needs avoidance of two extremes of austerity and luxury. Yogi is not supposed to fast and torture oneself (or) over-eat and indulge in pleasures

Raja Yoga broadly defines eight steps to attain Yogic state