This book, yoga, Its Theory and Practice contains nine illuminating lectures on Yoga, delivered by Swami Abhedananda at different time between 1901 and 1915 in America, Three books of the Swami in Yoga, dealing with psychology, science and philosophy, were published under the titles of Yoga Psychology, How to be a yogi and True Psychology.
In this book Swami has dealt with the subject to Yoga theory and practice in a very systematic way, showing their scientific methods and importance in the practical life of men. The Swami is of the opinion that until and unless science, philosophy, psychology or any other subject of knowledge are applied in our practical life, they are useless. So Yoga should be studied, learnt and practiced with some purpose in human life and society. This book, Yoga, Its Theory and Practice is a sure guide to that end.
Swami Abhedananda, an apostle of Sri Ramakrishna-Born October 2, 1866-Spent his early life among the brotherhood in Baranagar monastery near Calcutta in severe austerity-Travelled barefooted all over India from 1888-1895-Went to London at the call of Swami Vivekananda in 1896-Acquainted with many distinguished savants including Prof. max Muller and Prof. Deussen-Landed in New York and took Because acquainted with Prof. William James, Rev. R. H. Newton, Prof. Josiah Royce of Harvard, Prof, Hyslop of Columbia, Prof. Lanmann, Prof. G.H. Howison, Prof, Fay, Edison, the inventor, Dr. Elmer Gates, Ralph Waldo Trine, W.D. Howells, Prof. Herschel C. Parker, Dr. Logan, Rev. Bishop Potter, Prof. Shaler, Dr. Jaynes, the Chairman of the Cambridge Philosophical Conference and the professors of Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Barkeley and Clarke Universities- Travelled extensively all through the United States, Canada, Alaska and Mexico-Made frequent trips to Europe, delivering lectures in different part of the Continent- Crossed the Atlantic seventeen time-was appreciated very much for his profundity of scholarship, intellect brilliance, oratorial talents, charming personality and nobility of character-Made a short visit to India in 1906-Returned to America-Came back to India finally in 1921-on his way home joined the Educational Conference, Honolulu-Visited Japan, China, the Philippines, Singapore, Kualalumpur and Rangoon-Started on a long tour and went as far as Tibet in 1922-Established centers at Calcutta and Darjeeling-Left his mortal frame on September 8, 1939.
Yoga, Its Theory and Practice is a new and unpublished book, containing nine illuminating lectures on Yoga, delivered by Swami Abhedananda at different times between 190 I and 1915, in America. Three books of the Swami on Yoga, dealing with psychology, science and philosophy have been published before under the titles of How to be a Yogi, Yoga Psychology and True Psychology.
The present book deals with the Yoga theory and practice in a very systematic way, showing their utility and importance in the practical life of men. The Swami is of the opinion that until and unless science, or philosophy, or psychology, or any other subject of knowledge, is applied in the practical life, they are useless. So, Yoga must be studied, learnt and practiced for the practical purposes of human life.
The first chapter of this book deals with the aphorisms of the Raja Yoga and their importance. The aphorisms explain the constitution and nature of the mind, the modifications of the mind as well as the scientific methods of controlling them. In Sanskrit, mind is known as the mind, and Swami Abhedananda has compared it with an ocean having a vast sheet of water. When it remains calm, it is known as the mind, and when it is agitated by the wind of desires and passions, it takes the form of different modifications (vrittis). The modifications are also known as the modal consciousness, as they import some kind of partial knowledge about something. In Vedanta, the tranquil, calm and balanced state of the mind is known as the Antahkarana or the internal organ, though some of the Vedantists do not admit it as an organ (indriya). Vedanta says that when the Antahkarana is tinged with different objects, it takes the forms of them. The same Antahkarana again functions in four different ways of doubting or thinking, discriminating or determining, reflecting.' or remembering and self conceiting in the forms of manas, chitta, buddhi and ahamkara, as the same premordial energy or Prakriti manifests as the qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. It is commonly or rather erroneously believed that the four vrittis, or the modal forms, constitute the stuff of the Antahkarana (in the Western psychology and philosophy, the Antahkarana is commonly known by the word. mind), but, in reality, those psychic forms are the manifestations of the same Antahkarana. The desires and passions are the cause of disturbance of the mind ocean. The desires and passions disturb the balance or the state of equilibrium of the mind substance and create sorrows and sufferings in the life of man. The practice of Yoga controls the mind, and brings balance in the mind. It causes the mind to be concentrated upon some desired thing and thus prepares the ground of meditation as well as of the attainment of the super-conscious state or Samadhi, in which the individual soul finds its permanent consolation and peace, and attains to God- consciousness.
The Raja Yoga, or the Yogasutras of Patanjali, explain and describe many things about the mind and its' functions, and teaches us the means and methods of suppressing (nirodha) the modifications of the mind, the ways of bringing the mind to its simplest form, or to its causal state, and to transform it into its real form which is no other than the self-shining consciousness (chit). So, the function of Yoga is very important and useful. Swami Abhedananda says that there are different kinds of methods of practicing Yoga, and mainly they are known as the Raja Yoga, the Bhakti Yoga, the Karma Yoga and the Jnana Yoga. These are regarded as different paths towards the same goal which is no other than the realization of the Atman, and different Sadhakas select them and practice them according to their tastes and likings, As different rivers, coming down from the same snowy mountain, run in different ways, and fall at last in the same ocean, so different practices of Yoga lead the different Sadhakas towards one and the same goal: and enable them to reach the same universal ocean of the Absolute.
Swami Abhedanada says that the Raja yoga is regarded as the royal road or best and the highest method. It teaches the methodical or systematic practices of yoga which lead to the ultimate goal of the human beings. It teaches the gradual methods in practice, by which a Sadhana reaches the state of concentration through the pranayama, or the controlling of the breath or prana. From concentration he reaches meditation and from meditation, the super conscious state or samadhi, the ultimate goal of the yogic sadhana, is reached. The Swami says that by the practices of the Raja Yoga when a Sadhana dives deep into the ocean of meditation, his mind is absorbed in that ocean like the salt-doll, and is transformed into the pure consciousness and becomes one with the Atman in samadhi.
The second chapter deals with the practice of Yoga. Swami Abhedananda says that those who practice the Raja Yoga with its proper knowledge of science and theory as well as of psychology and philosophy, gain sound health and perfect mind along with the living inspiration of entering into the states of concentration and meditation which prepare the ground for entering into the super conscious state. It has been explained that there happens the divine communion of the jivatman with the Paramatman, where a Sadhaka realizes his oneness with the Atman, or the Brahman. But Sankara has criticized this yogic idea of oneness. He has said that in the yogic idea of oneness there remains a duality in a causal form, whereas in the advaita vedantic sadhana, a Sadhaka realizes the Atman as one without the second, and there remains no duality which is no other than the nescience or Maya. For that reason Sankara has called the followers of the Sankhya and the Nyaya as dualists (cf. the commentaries on the Vedantasutras, Yukti or tarka-pada). But viewing from the standpoint of Yoga or the yogic sadhana, one should reduce his mind to its simplest form, and should concentrate it on the Atman, and then through meditation, he will attain ultimately to the state of samadhi, and will reach perfection.
In the third chapter, Swami Abhedananda has explained the importance and value of correct breathing. Here controlling the breath means to conserve the vital energy or life-force, which enables one to enter into the supreme state of samadhi and to realize the Alman.
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