The mind is the only instrument which is at our
disposal. It is our bounden duty that we seek,
above all, to attain inner purity. Later on, it may be possible for us to achieve perfection; but it is necessary, as a first step to it, that the world
should cease to hold out any attraction to us, so that we might use in an integral manner all the
power of our spirit. It is only by means of the mind that we know the world around us, and it is therefore our duty to make the mind as perfect an instruiment possible. Whatever be the path that we might choose, the assiduous practice of
meditation will furnish us with the means of obtaining the fullest control over the organism of the mind.
With much pleasure we place this newly composed version of Meditation According to yoga-Vedanta before our readers. We express our gratitude to Ramakrishna Math, Thrissur, for having passed over the copyright of the book to us. There is no gainsaying the importance of this book. The subject of meditation will hold the attention of the human mind as long as there is a striving on the part of human beings to plumb the depths of their personality. Swami Siddheswarananda’s exposition and treatment of the subject displays a mastery of a rare type. We are sure that both the spiritual aspirants as well as the general readers would benefit from this book.
We have great pleasure in bringing out this translation of the French book Meditation se/on le yoga-Vedanta written and published by Swami Siddheswarananda in 1942 For the benefit of French devotees. After the Swam gave us the right to publish it, the translation was got ready and sent to him. FTC had intended to make some additions and alterations; but before he could complete the work, he attained Mahasamadhi on April 2, 1957 after a heart-attack. The translation was later verified by Mon. Pierre Pegon, a French disciple of the Swami. We tender him our sincere thanks. We now place this book before the Indian public and hope that it will appeal to all spiritual aspirants, particularly those with a modern educational background.
We tender our profound thanks to Dr. S. Krishnan, the President of India, for having kindly given us a Foreword to introduce this book, We acknowledge with deep gratitude this token of appreciation from an eminent and learned man who knew the Swami well and Who had occasion to see for himself the work the Swami was doing both in India and in France.
We arc deeply grateful to Prof. V.A. Tyagarajan for having so gladly undertaken the translation and so carefully and meticulously executed it. We deeply appre ciate his devotion and piety, and the spiritual fervour which prompted him to undertake this arduous work; we tender our grateful thanks to him.
The portrait of Swami Brahmananda which appears as the frontispiece to this book has been copied from the original photograph and is not the one drawn by the famous French artist M. Bills from the same original, which appears in the French book and about which the Swami speaks in his preface.
It is our fervent hope that this book will provide thieir spiraitual and true guidance to aspirants in their spiritual life where the practice of meditation is an all-important factor.
I am glad to find that Ramakrishna Ashrama, Thrissur is bringing out an English translation of Swami Siddheswarananda’s book in French on “Meditation According to Yoga-Vedanta. I had known Swami Siddheswarananda ever since he was a student at the Presidency College, Madras, in the second decade of this century. After completing his university career, he joined the Ramakrishna Order and worked in its Madras and Mysore branches. In 1937 the Order deputed him to Paris to work as a spiritual teacher and cultural ambassador of India in France.
He soon mastered the French language, became an effective interpreter of India to the West, and established a Vedanta Centre in Gretz where he continued to live and work with rare devotion till his death in 1957 at the early age of 59. Through his lectures and discourses in the Paris University and other institutions of culture and learning, and through his qualities of devotion and piety, he established himself in the esteem and affection of a good section of the intellectuals and spiritually sensitive People of France.
His wholesome influence was felt even beyond the frontiers of France. Swami Siddheswarananda and I continued to keep in touch with each other till his last thy. I had the pleasure to visit him in Mysore in the late twenties, and again in Paris in the late forties, and I have witnessed the deep love and respect in which he was held by his students and friends every where.
I hope the readers will benefit from the spiritual ideas conveyed by the Swami in this book.
The pages that follow are not a rigorous series of a learned discourse, nor are they distinct essays on the subject-matter corresponding to the headings of the different chapters. They are only a faithful rendering of the talks I gave in Paris during the years 1939 and 1940 in order to explain to a group of sincere aspirants who were intent on understanding what meditation meant. I improvised these talks for them gradually, as the subject unfolded itself before me and took shape; also I
had to modify frequently the course of my thoughts when pupils came to join my usual classes. Besides, I personally knew those who followed assiduously these intimate talks, and very often I made use of that occasion indirectly to reply to the questions that I was asked in private interviews. Morever, these talks were sometimes given after long intervals: in fact I had followed the practice of dealing each week with one aspect of Vedanta philosophy and of keeping for the last meeting of each month the study of less difficult subjects.
It is thus that! Approached the practical problems of spiritual life and indicated, according to the principles of Yoga-Vedanta, the means to arrive at the goal. By bringing together by a hyphen two philosophical systems (dracaenas), the approaches of which are quite different, one, the yoga, which is in accordance with the views expounded by Patanjali and which leads one to mystic experience, and the other, the Vedanta, which emphasizes the metaphysical aspect and leads one to knowledge ( mona), I have followed the tradition of the Ramakrishna Order and confined myself to the exposition of the subject, not in a dogmatic manner and, consequently, biased, but inspired by the teaching of our Master. After having made experimentally the synthesis of all methods, Sri Ramakrishna declared, by taking cognizance of them, that for realizing the Truth of truths, there are as many ways as there are religions and systems.
In this humble work, I wanted to establish that between the practices of the mystic and those of the metaphysician, there does not exist, as far as ultimate resuits are concerned, any difference, when the aspirants, whatever path they might have chosen start resolutely on the conquest of the Supreme Reality and when, for attempting this ascension, they arc provided with the necessary equipment, that is to say, they possess the Indispensable moral virtues and fulfil the essential preliminary conditions. The fourth chapter, “The Role of Japa in the Awake- fling of Kundalini,” and the [eighth chapter] “Conclu; Integral Experience,” are not always from the same source as the other parts of the book. The major part of this chapter IV is composed of extracts from private letters, written by me to numerous persons, who had asked my advice and to whom! had given clarifications on Tantric traditions of spiritual exercises, Regarding the Conclusion, it is the “resume” of a lecture that I gave in 1942 in a students club in the University of Toulouse on the fundamental characteristics of Hindu mysticism.
This work is dedicated to my own Guru, whose portrait figures on the frontispiece* (which was possible to be reproduced thanks to the liberality of Mme. Francis Rouanet — by a reputed artist, M. Bills, from a photograph defaced by time). This portrait of Swami Bi-Braahmananda, excuted with rare talent, brings us direct evidence of a divine presence which treatises on meditation or philosophical talks could but feebly suggest. For us Swami Brahmananda remains a living symbol of all the frontispiece picture of Swami Brahmananda given in this book is not the portrait one reproduced by M. Bilis. It is one of the extant photos of the Swami — Publisher.
That consists of the most sacred in this spiritual tradition, which again only yesterday incarnated itself under our very eyes, in the person of Sri Ramakrishna. I have attempted here to communicate to the reader, within the limits of permissible revelation, the truths that I have myself received from my Teacher; but there are for the spiritual life certain other elements which we hold sacrosanct, and these could be revealed only to disciples, who are worthy of them, by the time-honored method of oral transmission.
In i886, a few days before his end, the Master, who was then at Cossipore, asked “M”, the famous author of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, whether he could get him a wacerco1our painting, representing a bird hatching its eggs. The venerable “M” showed me the work of the painter, adding, unfortunately I could not get it finished in time. When it was finished, the Master had already departed. He told me that the bird that hatches had exactly the attitude of yogin: its eyes were opened wide but &l its attention was turned inwards.” Nothing could better define the attitude of Swami Brahmananda. Besides, it was all natural for him because it came from the depths of his personal realization. Until his last moment, that is to say tilt he was the President of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. In this capacity head- ministered our entire organization, of which he himself directed the innumerable branches, monasteries, centres of social service, Sevashramas, hospitals orphanages and relief organizations against floods and famine. All these cater to the needs of thousands of our countrymen. Well, the Swami taught us to regard life in every situation from the highest point of view. Even when he appeared absorbed in the heavy responsibilities of an active life, he always had the saintly consciousness of the constant presence of God. His example reminds us that “the sovereign good” can be realized here below only by the practice of meditation, and this book, a humble homage rendered to his memory, would not be in vain, if it awakens in those who read it the desire to progress on the path by consecrating themselves to this spiritual exercise.
I cannot terminate this preface without giving expression to my profound gratitude to M. Marcel Sauton for the help he has given me by resorting from his notes the texts of these talks and giving them a form, which work my still imperfect knowledge of the French language, does not permit me to lay claim to. Several persons have a close knowledge of this work in the manuscript stage and they have given me valuable suggestions for which I assure them of my lively gratitude. And, lastly, I offer M. Adrien Maisonneuve most sincere thanks for the trouble he had to undergo, in the present circumstances, for the publication of this book. In placing within the reach of the French public the Treasures of our wisdom he has in his capacity as editor rendered our motherland eminent service of which all Hindus will ever preserve a touching recollection. If among the readers anyone feel a desire to obtain fuller information on any subject treated here, the author will be pleased to supply them. He requests them to write to him to the following address.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Bhakti Yoga (16)
Hatha Yoga (67)
Karma Yoga (30)
Kriya Yoga (59)
Kundalini Yoga (44)
Yoga For Children (11)
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