From the Jacket
This book is a transcription of Swami Sarvagatananda's classes on the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali recorded between September 1977 and June 1981.
Here the reader is taken on a fascinating spiritual journey in which he encounters the deep intricacies and mysteries of the mind, and learns about the methods of concentration and its culmination in meditation. The Swami's intimate and first-hand knowledge of this difficult subject is evident in each of his talks. What distinguishes this book from others on the same subject is its extremely exhaustive treatment of each aphorism and its intensely practical approach. It will be immensely helpful to all spiritual aspirants in their quest for control of the mind, which, in the words of the Swami, will help them to make their lives more happy, sublime, peaceful, and integrated.
The question and answer sessions held at the end of each class are a valuable wonderful addition to the book.
Swami Sarvagatananda conducted Thursday evening Raja Yoga classes at the Rama-krishna Vedanta Society of Massachusetts, in Boston, between September 1977 and June 1981. There were one hundred and thirty two lectures in all. About thirty of us, college students, professor, office workers and retirees, had the good fortune to participate in these classes. It was a character transforming experience for us. We learned that Raja Yoga deals primarily with the mind and its control. But this control cannot be attained without leading a pure life, full of loving concern for all, and reflecting rather than reacting to negative thoughts or circumstances. As the classes progressed their intensity increased. We listened in fascination as the Swami went deeper into the intricacies of the mind, the method of concentration and its culmination in meditation. The Swami's intimate knowledge of this difficult subject enabled him to clear up all our doubts in simple yet convincing language in a question and answer session at the end of each class.
These two volumes contain the transcripts of all of Swami's 132 Raja Yoga lectures, inclusive of the question and answer sessions. They are a gift to us from George Mraz, Swami's devoted personal attendant, who has lived with him and served him in innumerable ways for over 35 years. Those of us who have made the attempt, know how difficult it is to transcribe even a single one-hour lecture from a tape. The task can easily consume several hours of concentrated effort. Nevertheless George painstakingly transcribed all 132 lectures, each lasting almost two hours, with a typewriter. Much later, when the technology became available, George converted the typewritten manuscript into electronic form. This was a crucial step, for it enabled us to re-format the text into its present form with appropriate type-setting tools. But for George's labor of love, extending over more than ten years, them two volumes would never have come out. We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
WE thank Christine Reynolds for designing the attractive style in which this book is for matted, Amy Hendrickson for implementing Christine's design in LaTex (the typesetting language used for the formatting) and Bijoy Misra for transliterating the Sanskrit. Because of its complexity, it will be helpful to describe the manner in which this book is organized. The primary organizational structure is built around the Yoga Aphorisms Spiritual Uses, Concentration: Its Practice, Powers, and Independence, respectively. Volume One contains an Introduction, followed by Chapters One and Two. Volume Two in the Table of Contents Chapters Three and Four, followed by a detailed Index. Each aphorism is listed in the Table of Contents in both transliterated Sanskrit and English. For added convenience, each aphorism number is displayed as a page header on the odd numbered pages of Chapters One through Four. All Sanskrit words that occur in the interior of a page are displayed in italics. This book also has a secondary organizational structure based on the 132 individual lectures. The lectures are listed in a separate Lecture Table of Contents and the lecture number is displayed as a footer at the bottom of each page.
As the book goes to press we thank many devotees for their generous financial contributions towards the production costs.
Finally, our loving pranams to Revered Swami Sarvagatananda.
The Kingly Path
Raja Yoga is a science because its entire approach is very scientific. It has been worked out very thoroughly. One can verify every step. One can demonstrate, experience, and explain it in terms of the human psyche. Raja Yoga means the Kingly Path. Why is it called so? Here nothing is based on imagination, or any kind of belief, or faith or conviction or authority. This is one discipline which helps us to grow, to evolve and to gain depth, not from the outside but from within. The mandate is from within. The satisfaction that you get is based on your own experience. It is a great challenge because the whole thing is based on the instrument of experience called the mind. This mind of ours is so mysterious, so valuable, and so precious in our day to day life. Raja Yoga deals with this mind. It is the science of the mind. You need not go anywhere, you can feel every step of its progress. In many of the Upanishads the Rishis indirectly mention the mental discipline and how it helps us in all spiritual struggles. But in Raja Yoga the whole stress is one the mind, not only from the point of the ultimate realization but also from the point of our day to day experience - how you can make your life more sublime, more fruitful, more happy, more peaceful, more integrated. This is one uniqueness that you find in Raja Yoga.
You do not have to wait until ultimate realization comes before results come - every step that you move in this discipline gives you joy in living, makes you feel more harmonious with yourself, with the rest of the world. That is why it has more appeal to the human mind in the East and the West, ancient and modern. Particularly nowadays there is more of an urge in the human mind to study this yoga discipline. Many psychologists, philosophers, and social scientists have now discovered how this discipline helps us to lead a good life, a life which is in tune with our being inside, the society outside, and nature outside. That is why the study of Raja Yoga is a must from the point of every living soul. We should know it, we should have discipline. Every effort that you put into it, every step that you take, to that extent you reap the benefit. Not that the ultimate result must come before you benefit. Even a little bit of this practice of yoga helps you to gain some depth which automatically gives you the joy of living. You can say, "I know now, I can live in peace and I can give that peace to others" - because the word "yoga" means to unite, to yoke this union is the ultimate goal of Raja Yoga. There are many other yogas no doubt; such as Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga. These different disciplines deal with a practical aspect of our personality. Jnana Yoga deals with the thinking faculty, the philosophical aspect of our being, the intellectual side. It helps us to develop. Karma Yoga deals with every action that we perform. At the functioning level Karma Yoga helps us to work in this world, to derive joy and peace in this world, keeping our being active, unconcerned. From the point of the being, Karma Yoga helps our functioning. Bhakti Yoga deals with the devotional, the emotional aspect of our being, deals with the heart; how I feel. The feeling part of the human personality is highly emphasized in Bhakti Yoga.
Every human being is a beautiful blending of thinking, feeling, functioning and restraining. Raja Yoga deals with restraining, the mental aspect of our being, the central aspect of the whole personality, the mind. When our mind is alert, awake, mindful with regard to the situation here, and when we move about, we find in that movement the restraining power and bring into our life the aspect of control. In Raja Yoga the central instrument is the mind, we need Raja Yoga because without this mind control we are lost. Raja Yoga is a very essential discipline. This we all have to develop. Fortunately, in all the four yogas there is no exclusive application of any particular faculty, all these are blended, but in each the emphasis is made on a particular aspect. In Karma Yoga there is Bhakti Yoga, there is Raja Yoga, and there is Jnana Yoga. The more you develop yourself, the more you evolve, the more you gain progress, and the more you come closer to the other faculties, You cannot avoid this because the human being is a blending of all these four. But the emphasis here is on the mind - how to make it strong, harmonious, how to keep it under control, how to apply it in day to day life from the point of my individual personality and from the point of society outside. In this union what will you be? You will be united with yourself, nothing else. In the end, you will discover to your surprise that by following any of the disciplines you are what you are.
A devotee says that this union is God, a Jnani says that it is Brahman, a Karma yogi says that it is a Cosmic Being existing as human beings, and the Raja yogi says that he is with his own Self' his lower self has become one with the higher Self. At present if you ask me who I am, I say I am a swami, I give all my qualifications, the work I do here - Am I confined to these alone? Nothing else? Was I born with all these when I came into this world? no. when I die, do I retain all these? No. Then who am I? I start with this present existential personality - a functioning being. I start from there, gradually I evolve, I gain depth, and I discover my Ground, even the Ultimate Ground of my being. I realize that I am one with it, only I did not know it previously, now I do. I know what I am in reality. That knowledge, that experience, that awareness gives me the clue from the point of my behavior with all of you. When I know what I am then I can relate myself with all of you properly. Suppose I do not know what I am - take for instance, I came from India and I say an Indian citizen, or perhaps you call me a Hindu. Then what do I do? My relationship with you will be on that level: as an Indian or a Hindu. But when I get to this part of my being, the Ground of my being, I discover that I am none of these things. I am more than these. No, I am one with all. From the point of your Ground, from the point of my own Ground, I discover to my surprise that the Ground is the same in all.
This is what Raja Yoga says about gaining that union: first union within. I am united with my own being, with my own real self - and then I discover my union with you also. Then I am in union with the Ultimate Ground, transcendental - and mind that, all the great prophets, great saints and sages, when they realized the ultimate, called this Ground God, or Brahman, or Father in Heaven, or Allah. Let them call it by any name, all have this experience, they are yogis. Sri Krishna tells in the Bhagavad Gita: "I am existing in all beings, I am in the heart of every being." What did Jesus say?" "I am the life, I am one with the Kingdom of Heaven, and that Kingdom of Heaven is within you all." Is that imagination? It is realization, he saw his own being in everyone. Mohammed had that perception of Allah in everyone. He said: "The spirit of Allah is in all of us." Therefore he preached universal brotherhood. So also Sri Ramakrishna, when he came back from the Samadhi state, when somebody asked him: "When you open your eyes now sir, what do you see? When you closed your eyes you must have enjoyed the presence of the divine." "I see the same spark of God in all of you," he said. He went on bowing down to everyone Therefore union within first, union outside second, union with the Ultimate Ground third. Yoga helps you to gain the three levels of union. Then what happens? Then I know to conduct myself in the world, how to relate myself with all of you at your own level, without a comment, without any critics, no condemnation, but accepting everyone as he is. Yoga helps you to gain that perception, that depth, that awareness, no, that oneness with everything. That is the beauty of Raja Yoga. It is a very important discipline, it deals with the total personality, the whole being: the physical, the moral, the mental, and the spiritual aspect. All these aspects are contained in Raja Yoga because the whole being is made to evolve, made to progress. Every aspect of your personality is taken into account.
In Raja Yoga the first consideration is ethical values, moral principles, because in the Ultimate Ground you discover your oneness with all. If that is the end, the means must also be the same. You must conduct yourself in such a way that you are a brother or sister to all. That means the moral values that I put before my being are of the highest type. When I equate myself with all mankind, my conduct must be such as to not to create any discord, resentment, any harsh note. It must be in tune with all because all are part of the whole. If any one of the five fingers is hurt, I am hurt. If they are functioning properly, I feel happy. The whole of society is like that. Therefore moral excellence is the ground of Raja Yoga, and that is also the first principle for human life. We all follow it but we do not know it. Take for instance; a child is born in your house. Before you send the child to school, what do you do? You teach the child how to behave. A child is restless everywhere, it says all sorts of things. We control it, saying "don't do that, don't say that." A bundle of don'ts, don'ts, don'ts, and the child becomes disgusted. Before you say "no", the child says "no." Children themselves repeat the world "no" because that is what they get. With these "no's", with these "do not's, the child gets education: learns how to behave, how to conduct itself, what to avoid, what to follow. If my mother did not use the word "no", I would be in jail today. Fortunately she used the words "no" and "don't". These words straightened my being, now I know how to conduct myself properly.
Before you go out in the world you are taught how to behave at home, what to say, how to behave with your own friends, relatives and strangers. All these things we observe from our parents. When we fail, they correct us and straighten our personality. That is the moral ground yoga deals with this. First moral principles, next physical fitness: how to be healthy physically, how to be strong, how to be free from all ailments, how to avoid physical limitations. In Raja Yoga you find wonderful asanas. Everyone should practice yoga to keep in good physical health. The asana helps to keep us strong There are many asanas, one need not go through them all; some are just for exhibition's sake, for gymnastics - but there are many that are very useful, they teach one how to sit, how to walk, how to breathe, how to avoid certain unfortunate conditions. Physical fitness is an important factor in our human life. We don't us every part of our body in our day to day functioning. The yoga asana help one to deal with the entire body. The golden rule is: "What you do not use you lose." When you don't exercise your body, you lose the benefit of it. It becomes stiff, you end up with many diseases. Not that in our modern society yoga will absolutely keep you in good health; there are unfortunate environmental difficulties. You have pollutions that you have to suffer - but still, physically speaking, it keeps you strong. Physical fitness is a very important factor in yoga. Why? You many ask. If the physical being is not well set, you cannot study your mind. Raja Yoga is based on the science of the mind. If you want to study your mind, you have to gain entrance to it, you have to held to this mind, to catch the mind.
You cannot catch the mind when the mind is moving. If there is pain present in a part of the body, the mind goes there, the mind is so constituted. It is like a watchdog and runs over the whole body. If there is any trouble anywhere - suppose an ant bites you, immediately the mind goes there: "Hey, there is something there," it goes to look at it. It is a big watchdog, it tells you everything. The mind is wonderful for functioning at the physical level. If you want to catch hold of the mind, you have to keep the mind at rest. The first condition is: do not allow the mind to run all over the body. Otherwise you cannot catch it once it goes where there are aches and pains. Therefore keep the body in a good healthy condition. That is why in meditation, when you want to observe your mind, you keep the body at rest, in a steady comfortable posture. That comes from exercising, from practice. When the body is at rest, you can observe the mind, watch the mind, hold on to the mind. Then you can observe how the mind functions. When the mind is moving about, you cannot observe it. To hold the mind, to bring it to your attention, you have to keep it at rest. That is why the first condition in Raja Yoga is to keep the body in good condition, at rest. Then a little of pranayama (control of breath) helps you to bring the internal being under control, from the point of the nervous system and blood circulation; because the body gets not only external troubles but also internal difficulties, and the mind goes there. To avoid this, breathing exercises really help.
Pranayama helps you to keep the entire system, the internal being of the body, in perfect condition, in a still, harmonious condition. Pranayama helps you to control the lungs; it controls the heart, controls all the nerves. Gradually not only the external physical body but also the internal functioning of the body is in tune, is at rest. Then the watchdog keeps silent. There is no need to go anywhere, there is no one coming from outside, no one creating trouble inside, therefore the watch dog keeps quiet. That is the time you are to observe the mind. The third step is mental equilibrium, first: moral excellence, second: physical fitness, third: mental equilibrium. Then the mind is calm and quiet, you can hold the mind, you can observe the mind. You can know how to mind is functioning, where it is set. The mind's ambitions, urges, modifications, likes and dislikes, prejudices, loves and hate, attractions, aversions - all these make the mind move about. They all come to your surface consciousness. You become aware, you know what you are thinking, you know what is troubling you, you become aware of your problems. That is the time when you have a good look at the mind. Observe your own mind, examine, analyze your own mind. Don't be frightened. Raja Yoga says: do not be frightened when worse things come. Many times in your life you say: I wish I could kill that fellow, the mind tells you - when something happens, something he or she did to me, I can get this urge. It is natural to all of us, mind that, so do not be frightened. But now when the thought comes, I know it. Why has it come? Eliminate the cause. Now I don't feel like that, now I know how to conduct myself without hurting anybody. It helps you to observe your mind, actually that is the beginning of Raja Yoga. Observe your own mind, examine your own mind, analyze your own mind to know your own intentions and ambitions and urges. Gradually you are to silence them all.
This is an art: how to silence all these urges, modifications, tendencies. Here is the big struggle, the real struggle of Raja Yoga is at this level: to silence these, because you want to see what is behind these thoughts, what is behind these ambitions and urges, what it gives light to this mind. Behind this mind is me, I am there, my real Self is there behind that mind. I want to silence everything completely, to bring all urges under control. In the language of Jesus Christ this is called purifying your heart - purifying your heart and purifying your consciousness are not two different things, they are exactly the same. How does one purify this mind? Raja Yoga tells you very beautifully what are the obstacles, how these urges come, how the modifications arise, how they tip you off, and, when they come to surface consciousness, what is to be done. When they do not come to surface consciousness they can upset you. Many times you do not know the cause but you know the effect when you say: "I don't know why I don't feel well today; I can't work, I can't think, my mind is disturbed, why I don't know." You know the effect but not the cause. Raja Yoga tells you how to find out the cause, and, if you cannot find the cause, tells you what steps you should take to silence it. Not always is the cause know, many times you don't know it. "I hate so and so, I do not know why, but the moment I see that face I get such a terrible feeling, I can't explain it." No, anybody resembling that face I also hate, anybody bearing that name I hate also. Why it is so, I don't know. The cause is unknown, it is deep inside, but the effect I know. I'm disturbed, I can't help it. Raja Yoga tells you how to manage the situation, what you should do.
Mental equilibrium is the most important factor that you gain when you study Raja Yoga and practice it. What a joy it is! Just imagine, here are the worst types of people in the world and you are in their midst, and you say: "I can live with them. I will accept them, not just tolerate them. I accept them because once I was like that." You will discover to your surprise that once you were just like them, only you have forgotten it. Raja Yoga reveals to you the beauty of your own evolution, what you went through in all your previous lives and in this life. If you see something wrong outside, you will say: "I was like that, all the devils are in me, I don't blame anybody, I have overcome them, I have conquered them and they also will conquer them." Then what do you do? You accept them, you try to help them, you don't condemn anybody. Yoga disciplines give you that kind of insight, that kind of strength. Raja Yoga integrates your entire personality, the whole mind is balanced. What a joy it is. The joy of a Yogi cannot be compared with anything. He has nothing from the point of his possessions, but he has one thing: an integrated mind, harmonized mind, balanced mind, purified mind. That mind gives the individual immense joy. Now, it does not stop there. From this mental equilibrium, in that state you go beyond, transcend the mind. When you silence this mind, the mind has the capacity to go beyond this base level. Just as a plane moving down the runway, gaining speed, goes beyond the runway. So also this mind, going along the track, at the existential level, the human level, the mundane level, has the power to take off. That is called transcendence. When you come to the level of transcendence then you see a great wonder: the real source of the mind, the real Ground of the mind, the real nature of the mind, set in the spirit.
The mind actually is well set in the spirit but it comes down and then we see the mind at the existential level, sensate level, psychophysical level. When it transcends this level, then it gets into the spiritual realm. That is what is called God Consciousness, or Atman, or Brahman - call it by any name. This mind has the power to enter into that realm, then you discover to your surprise your true nature. You take a good look at whatever happened to you in the previous lives or in this life. I am a traveler in this world. I am a citizen of heaven. I am traveling this psychophysical complex. It is mine. Its abode is in the spirit. Gaining that spiritual awareness, that pure Consciousness, one's experience is called Samadhi. That is, you are one with yourself. Then you have the right to say: "I know what I am." It does not mean that you forget everything; it does not mean that you ignore everything. No, it is just natural, normal. As somebody said: "You don't grow two horns, no wings, you are just the same human being." The mind is changed, that's all. Your attitude on life is changed, your whole personality is different, and you accept everyone as your own. As Holy Mother used to say: "They are all mine, what can I do?" You don't want to lose a single soul. Every soul is your own. Therefore your work hard to make everyone your own. You go down to any level to lift them up to make them your own. You don't say: "Oh, I don't care." Never use the words: "I don't care". I do care for everyone, because we are all one at that transcendental level; there we discover the oneness of the spirit.
We are all just like pins in the same pincushion. At the human level, the psychophysical level, we are all separate, but we make this discovery when we realize the goal of Raja Yoga. In the Samadhi state we discover our unity. We are all one with the Ultimate Ground, with the whole of humanity. You are integrated within yourself. The goal of Raja Yoga is to attain to that oneness - union within, without, with the Ultimate Ground, with Godhead. Raja Yoga does not ask you to believe in anything. It asks you only one things: "Do you know that you have a mind?" But never mind if you don't have it now. Start and you will get it, that is the beauty of Raja Yoga, the scientific way of approaching reality. In the ultimate realization you are one with a devotee, a Jnani, a philosopher, a practical man. You identify with everyone because there you discover to your surprise that thinking, feeling, functioning, and restraining are all one there is no separateness in the goal. At the base they are all separate, but in the ultimate, in the center, they are all one therefore a real yogi, whether a Jnana yogi, a Bhakti yogi, Raja yogi, is one with all at the top. They discover to their surprise that they all meet there. Just as when you come to Providence through route #95, route #1A, they all meet in the center of the city. Though all the routes are different, you all meet there, it can't be helped, the goal is the same. That is why Swami Vivekananda beautifully presented that ideal: "all is one". There are different roads, not only from the point of beliefs and faiths, but also from the point of personalities and their aspects. Raja Yoga deals with this discipline. It is called the Royal Road, it is straight, and every step is worked out.
No doubt the Raja Yoga of Patanjali is nothing but a systematizing of the mental disciplines already mentioned in our Upanishads and in the Bhagavad Gita. He has taken the essential aspects, worked out this wonderful system, and placed it before us. In the Gita you get all of these yogas. In the 6th chapter Sri Krishna mentions about meditation. In short, the sum and substance of Raja Yoga is the 6th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita in the aphorisms of Patanjali they are systematized, worked out step by step, from the point of experience. Mind that, over all these 5000 years people have experienced, verified and demonstrated it, and said that it is true. When Swami Vivekananda wrote his Raja Yoga, he gave it a thorough introduction. Read it carefully, how well he explains it. Is a science. You can challenge all these explanations, and you can get the answers. Raja Yoga is a subject which we all have to study, but not from the point of ultimate realization, but rather from the point of our living process in this world, now and here: how to live in peace, give that peace to others, either in your family, among your friends, in national and International affairs. No, most importantly: how to conduct yourself properly, how to hehave as a decent human being. That is what Henry David Thoreau, when he studied yoga, said: "What a book it is, it really makes me a man, it gives me joy to discover that I have these faculties, I can develop them and I can be a decent gentleman." That is why he said "that makes us to be in tune with nature outside, God within." There is no contradiction. Likewise, all the great scholars, when they studied Raja Yoga, discovered wonderful things there.
Raja Yoga is the great science of the mind; no, it is the science of life: how to live here and now. Because we are all so many minds (no two minds are alike), it is very difficult to accept them all, to understand them, to be in tune with them. how many times we have found in our own homes, the father says: "I don't know my son;" the mother says: "I don't know my daughter, what she is;" and children say: "I don't know my father." Living in the same house, moving in day to day life, we don't know each other. Why? There is a big obstacle, something is standing in between. Raja Yoga removes these obstacles, makes one see through them and accept them. It makes you feel one with the whole family. We need that discipline, we need that contemplative process, we need that control of the mind - and that is what Raja Yoga is going to teach us.
Bhakti Yoga (13)
Hatha Yoga (64)
Karma Yoga (24)
Kriya Yoga (58)
Kundalini Yoga (40)
Yoga For Children (9)
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend