Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A. (Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.
Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India
Manjul Lata Agrawal. M.A. (History) B.T.
Former Principal S.K.V, Delhi Cantt. Delhi.
Man can become like God and acquire control over the whole universe if he multiplies infinitely his centre of self-consciousness. The wind of divine grace is always blowing. You just need to spread your sail. Whenever you do anything, do it with your whole heart concentrated on it. Think day and night, I am of the essence of that Supreme Being-Consciousness-Bliss. What fear and anxiety have I? All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in our own mind.
The Super-Conscious Mind is the aspect of consciousness which is limitless or “Infinite” in nature and which depending on any number of infinite possibilities concerning what you have been taught to believe with regard to what the Super Conscious is, is known and has been labeled by man as many things.
Just a small sampling of these “man made” labels are God, Brahman, Supreme Energy, Source, Universe, Universal Intelligence, Higher Power, etc. etc.
There is a strong controversy whether or not the super conscious experience of an individual can be verified by other people.
The scientific person likes to know if there is any method by which one can know these experiences?. But in studying the facts of super conscious realization we take up an altogether different method. The systems of study and investigation are subjective. We train-the mind itself. Nevertheless, these methods are scientific so far as universality and possibility of verification are concerned.
God is” still an intellectual conception or belief based on books and the words of others. He is not a fact of experience. Conceptual knowledge of God and actual experience of Him are quite different; in fact, there is a world of difference between them. The effect of such experience of God, shows that one must have superconscious realization for immediate and direct knowledge of God. Therefore, verification is the best confirmation or proof of religious experiences, and as such it is scientific. The methods are also scientific, as they lead to the realization of religious truth. It is often argued that these experiences come to a man through divine grace and divine intervention, and we cannot do anything about them. Sometimes devout persons seem to think that it is sacrilegious even to consider adopting spiritual practices to attain the experience of God. They feel that spiritual experiences come only through divine grace,. that our duty is to remain passive so that the divine will and power may function through us.
The Christian mystics who really had the different types of superconscious experiences gave tremendous emphasis to spiritual practices. Also, in some of the Jewish mystic organizations certain disciplinary processes or devotional practices are advocated for superconscious realization. Some branches of Mohammedanism prescribe methods for the realization of God. Hinduism and Buddhism made scientific investigation Qf these experiences as well as of the methods for attaining them; and, as a result, we find well-developed scientific details in the methods for superconscious realization in the Hindu system.
The explanation in the philosophy of Samkhya and the teachings of Patanjali, and those of other great Hindu spiritual teachers give us various methods after studying the different temperaments of ,individuals. These methods are called yoga. Previously this word is often grossly misunderstood in the west.
There is a general conception that that yoga is thought reading, fortune telling, “rope tricks,” or expressions of mysterious powersYoga is the preexisting union, Yoga actually means the realization in direct experience of the preexisting union between the individual consciousness and the universal consciousness. There are different ways of expressing this, including that Atman is one with Brahman, Jivatman is one with Paramatman, or Shiva and Shakti are one and the same. Each of these ways of saying it come from a different viewing point, while they are not essentially different points of view. They all point in the same general direction of union or Yoga. It really signifies union,U,.,being derived from the root yuj-to yoke. Through yoga “we are joined to God. There is no mystery mongering connected with it. Patanjali defines yoga as the complete control of the mind-stuff (chitta vrittis).s When the mind is fully controlled, the Truth reveals Itself. Mental calmness and tranquillity can be attained in various ways through the different yogas’.
As every science has its methods, so has every religion The methods of attaining the end of religion are called Yoga by us, and the different forms of Yoga , are adapted to the different natures and temperaments of men.
According to Hindu psychology, human minds are grouped into four distinct types: intellectual, emotional, activitiest and meditative. Apart from that, these different types are sub-divided according to the mental structure of innumerable individuals, and everyone-of these types and individuals has distinct methods for spiritual development. Superconscious realizations are processes of spiritual evolution, so the teachers try to find out the individual characteristics of the different aspirants and accordingly prescribe individual methods to suit their temperaments and mental capacities. However, there are common requisites for all types of minds. . According to Indian spiritual teachers, superconscious experiences are based on the science of ethics and higher psychology For instance, the science of ethics is the ‘foundation of spiritual practices for all temperaments. Without thorough ethical training one cannot expect to have a controlled- mind. The practice of ethical principles and psychology go together. One cannot have the power of concentration unless one tries to control and purify the mind and develop basic ethical qualities. This is what the Christian mystics call the “purgative state and what the Hindus call yama and niyama . When the mind is purified it can then be focused on God.
Patanjali emphasized that inner and outer purification is absolutely necessary for spiritual growth; yama and niyama are the first steps toward higher realization. ”God is seen when the mind is perfectly tranquil.” Therefore, ethical practices are a prerequisite for any method of superconscious realization.
We classify them in the following way, under four heads:-
“Karma Yoga is the selfless devotion of all inner as well as the outer activities as a Sacrifice to the Lord of all works, offered to the eternal as Master of all the soul’s energies and austerities.”
Karma yoga is an ancient concept. The path of karma yoga is described in the Hindu sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita. It is also taught by zen teachers. The intention when practicing karma yoga is to give selflessly for the good of others without thought of one’s self or attachment to the results of one’s actions. Acting in this way is considered the right way to approach service and it is said to purify the mind
Karma yoga is one of the main paths of yoga that a practitioner can follow. The name comes from the Sanskrit term meaning “action” or “deed.” Therefore, it is the path of action, or selfless service towards others. It is considered by some that practicing karma yoga is the most effective way to develop spiritually
Karma Yoga is the path of action, service to others, mindfulness, and remembering the levels of our being while fulfilling our actions or karma in the world. The principle of karma yoga is that what we experience today is created by our actions in the past. Being aware of this, all of our present efforts become a way to consciously create a future that frees us from being bound by negativity and selfishness. Karma is the path of self-transcending action.. It is the path chosen primarily by those of an outgoing nature. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward.The manner in which a man realises his own divinity through works and duty.
One should note in connection with Karma Yoga that it has no place for restless activity. A Karma Yogi must always be alert that the mind does not get mixed up with ambition and so-called “self-expression.” Like the Jnana Yogi he should always ry to eliminate self-consciousness or the go. It is quite conceivable that in the midst of activities, however well meaning he may be in the beginning, the ego of a person is still pupated by the objective success of the work. However, success in Karma Yoga does, not mean external achievement but rather inner purification and conquest of the lower self. Let there be no confusion about the process of Karma Yoga and achievements by that method; otherwise, it will defeat itself by merely producing external and objective results in the form of success in creating bigger and better institutions, cities, etc. If Karma Yogis are not careful of the inner workings of the mind in the form of ambition for external achievement, their activities will no longer remain as true Karma Yoga. So the path of action may not necessarily lead to success in the objective sense but rather in the subjective sense; that is to say, it should lead a person to a peaceful state of mind, as it emphasizes conquest of desire for the fruit of action. Therefore, the great spiritual leaders often advise beginners on this path to practice meditation, worship, or any other auxiliary method to keep the ideal bright and the mind free from desire for ambition and “self-expression.” It is, however, possible for a few persons to follow Karma Yoga strictly without any auxiliary method.
It is a fact that this is predominantly an age of action; and Swami Vivekananda, great teacher of all the systems of yoga, convincingly tells us that most of the people will have to follow the path of action. In fact, the right form of action, or Karma Yoga, is applicable to all spiritual aspirants, and they do follow certain phases of Karma Yoga in the course of their spiritual evolution. It goes without saying that the path of action is not just a mere step to higher practices whereby one is purified, made unselfish and otherwise fit for them; but it is a definite path in itself, leading one to the same goal that is reached by any of the other yogas-Jnana, Bhakti, or Raja.
Bhakti Yoga is considered the easiest yogic path to master and the most direct method to experience the unity of mind, body, and spirit. Bhakti Yoga is pure spiritual devotion, of love for God which is Love. The Deity is the beloved and the devotee is the lover. In Bhakti yoga, everything is but a manifestation of the divine and all else is meaningless, including the Ego. When the Bhakta is blessed by divine grace he feels an undivided union and non-dual consciousness prevails.
Bhakti Yoga. The yoga of devotion. Union with God through devotion. A person who practices bhakti yoga, known as a bhakti yogi, thinks of God in personal terms, such as Father, Mother, Friend, or Beloved. This helps the bhakti yogi to awaken love for God. When done correctly, this eventually leads one to see and love God in all forms,.
The realisation of the divinity through deviation to, and love of a personal God. Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, and service to God and others. All actions are done in the context of remembering the Divine. Seeing the divine in all of creation, bhakti yoga is a positive way to channel the emotions. The path of bhakti provides us with an opportunity to cultivate acceptance and tolerance for everyone we come into contact with. Bhakti yogis express the devotional nature of their path in their every thought, word, and deed—whether they are taking out the trash or calming the anger of a loved one. All people will experience emotions such as love, compassion, and devotion at points along the journey, regardless of which of the four paths of Yoga is predominant.
Emotional persons have to follow Bhakti Yoga or the path of love and devotion. The vast majority of the people in the world are predominantly emotional, so it is both convenient and necessary for them to use their emotions for higher spiritual development. We can hardly find a man or woman who has not strong emotional urges, and it is considered wise to express them instead of starving or discarding them. Emotions are great powers; a seeker after truth is, therefore, asked to direct them to an act of God which is suitable to his own temperament. It is not correct to assume that they can be directed to only one particular aspect of God and not to any other. Some people become narrow and bigoted in their spiritual life and insist on one aspect as the only object of love and devotion for everyone.
All Living Being is infinite . Psychologically speaking, human beings have different mental attitudes and degrees of power. When they try to conceive God with the mind limited by the conditions of time-space relationship, their minds are generally limited . In fact, the mind is extremely limited to the finite conditions of life. As such, they necessarily see God with their limited mental possibilities for the time being.
Therefore, there wiII always remain differences in the under- standing of God. Hindu spiritual philosophers maintain that these differences and variations do not affect the spiritual growth of an individual. On the contrary, their opinion is that in the beginning of spiritual life everyone must take a particular aspect of God suitable to his own individual inclinations and possibilities. In fact, according to them, spiritual growth is accelerated if one can take an aspect of God for meditation according to his inner nature. It is also fallacious to think that God can be conceived only as father and not as mother, friend, beloved, or child.
All the emotions characteristic in such human relationships can be applied to God according to ,individual temperaments and requirements. That is the very reason the devotional mystics vary in their methods of approach to God. Few may like to think of Him as their child, while more prefer to look on Him as father or mother, and again others will love God as their friend or beloved because this attitude is best suited to their individual temperaments and this relationship-is natural and spontaneous to them. These relation- ships are called bhavas by Hindu religious philosophers. They are: shanta (placid love for the Creator, Lord, and RuJer); darya (relationship between master and servant);” sakhya (friendship between two friends); vatsalya (love between child and parent); and madhura (sweet relationship between lovers). Some devotees also estab,lish a relationship in which God is the mother and the devotee is the child.
In Sanskrit texts, Rāja yoga (/ˈrɑːdʒə ˈjoʊɡə/) was both the goal of yoga and a method of attaining it. The term also became a modern name for the practice of yoga, when in the 19th-century Swami Vivekananda equated raja yoga with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Since then, Rāja yoga has variously been called “royal yoga”, “royal union”, “sahaj marg”, “classical yoga”, and “aṣṭāṅga yoga”.
Raja means “royal,” and meditation is the focal point of this branch of yoga Raja Yoga is a comprehensive method that emphasizes meditation, while encompassing the whole of Yoga. It directly deals with the encountering and transcending thoughts of the mind. The realisation of, a man’s own divinity through the control of mind.
Raja Yoga is also referred to as the Mental Yoga, or the Yoga of the Mind, because of its emphasis on awareness of one’s state of mind. It is through this practice of concentration that one learns to calm the mind and bring it to one point of focus.
This approach involves strict adherence to the eight “limbs” of yoga as outlined by Patanajli in the Yoga Sutra. Also found in many other branches of yoga, these limbs, or stages, follow this order: ethical standards, yama; self-discipline, niyama; posture, asana; breath extension or control, Pranayama; sensory withdrawl, pratyahara; concentration, dharana; meditation, dhyana; and ecstasy or final liberation, samadhi. Raja yoga attracts individuals who are introspective and drawn to meditation. Members of religious orders and spiritual communities devote themselves to this branch of yoga. However, even though this path suggests a monastic or contemplative lifestyle, entering an ashram or monastery is not a prerequisite to practicing raja yoga.Everybody will become still and quite from sadhana or spiritual practices, will naturally encounter and deal with attractions and aversion, and will meditate, thus touching on Raja Yoga.
The meditative people have to take up certain forms of concentration and meditation, to reach superconscious experience. This is Raja Yoga or the psychological method. The word Raja means “royal. The practice of concentration and meditation is needed more or less in every path in different ways, so it is regarded as a “royal” path. This psychological method helps one to integrate the mind; all mental states are unified. Moreover, a scientific man can follow it step by step and train his mind even if he cannot, for the time being, accept the idea of God. Many Buddhists and Hindus have started with this psychological yoga and have reached the goal. In fact, when the mind is well regulated, controlled, and unified, the truth reveals itself.
Jnana yoga is one of the main paths of yoga that a practitioner can follow on the path to self-realization. It is considered to be the most direct, but also the most difficult path to find absolute truth. The name comes from the Sanskrit term meaning “knowledge.” It is, therefore, the path of pursuing knowledge and truth. This must be a practical, experiential knowledge, however, and not purely a theoretical one.
Jnana yoga is also sometimes described as the yoga of the mind or intellect.
.If we consider bhakti to be the yoga of the heart, then jnana yoga is the yoga of the mind, of wisdom, the path of the sage or scholar Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge, wisdom, introspection and contemplation. It involves deep exploration of the nature our being by systematically exploring and setting aside false identities. The reaIisation of man’s own divinity through knowledge .While Jnana Yoga deals with knowledge, wisdom, introspection and contemplation, everybody has a mind and at some point will need to examine it, wherein quiet reflection naturally comes. This path requires development of the intellect through the study of the scriptures and texts of the yogic tradition. The jnana yoga approach is considered the most difficult and at the same time the most direct. It involves serious study and will appeal to those who are more intellectually inclined.
The intellectual type of seeker follows the rationalistic- method of distinguishing the truth from the untruth, the real from the unreal, by using the power of discrimination and analysis. This is Jnana Yoga. An adamantine will power is required for this method as transitory phenemena and non-essentials have to be negated and rejected in order to know the permanent, the Absolute. The emotions must be controlled and regulated; in fact, no emotional expression should be permitted because any kind of emotional ex pression presupposes plurality and duality. A follower of ]nana Yoga must constantly remind himself of unity. Any- thing that arouses the consciousness of multiplicity must be completely rejected. In order to achieve this, one must develop the power of concentration and wiil. This method seems to be quite contrary to the ordinary functionings of human beings, as we are always giving vent to our emotions.
The practice of concentration and meditation in Jnana Yoga is very difficult for an average man or woman as one . has to focus the mind on the “impersonal,” non-bodily, Self- Conscious Aboslute (Sat-chid-ananda, Nirguna Brahman). It is very difficult for an ordinary person who is living on the plan of time-space-causal relationship and name, form, and attributes to conceive anything that is beyond these cate gories. It is true that certain symbols like sound and light are given as the objects of concentration.
There are few persons in the ….world who can start their spiritual practices entirely from the intelltual point of view. They require tremendous discipline and ethical training to begin with this method. It is nice to tell of principles and philosophy; but it is altogether a different matter to practice the life of intellect; and it is still harder to see the oneness of life and existence in ordinary human behavior. In fact, a follower of Jnana Yoga, or the intellectual path, must try to find unity and divinity in every thought and action. He must try to find the Absolute beyond the relative. This must be the constant practice, and all activities must be regulated to it. Gradually plurality, and even duality of every type, vanishes. One has to eliminate all consciousness of difference in everyday life. So it is difficult for an ordinary person to follow this path even though he may be a philosopher. Many persons seem to think that they are Absolutists- in their philosophy but their actions reveal that they are still functioning on the lower plane of relative existence .
These are all different roads leading to the same centre-God.
A person may have intellectual flights of AbsoIutisIl yet emotionly, he remains on the very common plane ,where hatred and other such tendencies of differentiation still function. when a man is aware of diversity and does not use his discrimination, he cannot attain knowledge of the Absolute. That is the very reason that Vedanta Aphorisms teach that one must have a intense desire for higher knowledge and be ready to sacrifice everything for its attainment; that is to say, one must give up longing for anything that arouses consciousness of duality or plurality or that is a reminder of physical existence and separate consciousness. He must possess _keen power of discrimination and, above all, higher ethical qualities. Then alone can one follow the path of analysis. Ethical qualities are the prerequisites of this path. It is, however, possible to take it up after a considerable amount of progress has been made through other practices.
With this method, relationship with God becomes easy and effective, and at the same time the natural innate tendencies are not wasted. Every person has certain spontaneous urges.
Hindu teachers want their followers to use and direct their natural inclinations, for experience proves that people grow immensely in this way as they have the satisfaction of expressing their innate emotional powers. It has been found by Hindu philosophers that when one cultivates sp.ch a loving relationship with God spiritual growth is accelerated. One reaches the supreme goal of life by following any of these bhavas. However, no bhava should be changed for another until the spiritual aspirant reaches the culmination of a relationship. A person can, however, change one relationship for another after becoming thoroughly established in the bhava.
In order to cultivate emotional relationships with God one is advised to take up various auxiliary methods, such as external and internal worship . In external worship a devotee tries to think ot God through worship with material ingredients such as flowers, light, incense, perfume, and food. With internal worship, a devotee is required to direct his emotions along with the offerings of inner qualities and attributes and elements of his body and mind.
Some of the aspirants often adopt the repetition of the name of God as a practice. Hindu mystics have developed a science of the repetition of the name of God (mantra ), and according to them, a seeker after truth can have the highest states of superconscious realization by repeating some of the symbolic names of God while meditating on Him at the same time. There are different short names for the various aspects of God. The progress of the devotees greatly depends on the choice of these names. Repetition helps the devotees in attaining that concentration which leads their minds to the deepest state of meditation. Historically we find there have been many great personalities who reached the higher mystical experiences through this practice. It has been, recorded that it is the easiest and the most suitable process of realizing the truth in this age. Sri Ramakrishna the great modern Hindu leader, emphasized its value. Sir John Woodruff has translated some of the Hindu scriptures dealing with this subject.
Others, again, are of the opinion that one should combine work with worship or with devotional practices and meditation. Their view is that the combination of these two methods, work and devotion (Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga), will lead one to the highest realization; and until this goal is reached, one must continue with the combined method. But Sri Krishna and Swami Vivekananda are clear that one can attain the goal of religion by following anyone of these methods.
Many Western and Eastern readers are often interested in Hatha Yoga. People frequently confuse it with Raja Yoga as there are some common physical steps in both. It will be interesting to note here that Hindu psychologists of the Raja Yoga type have found in the course of their experiences that physical health is important for mental development, as the mind of the average person functions through the nervous system. When the body is sick or weak, the nervous system is consequently affected. The mind becomes restless or uncontrollable, and it also often becomes dull, inert, and sleepy. These states are obstacles to higher mental development. In order to practice the last four steps-pratyahara (withdrawal of the mind), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation),. and samadhi (superconscious)-a person must have control over the physical functions. of the body. He must.also have strong nerves; otherwise he cannot have effective concentration or meditation, and it becomes impossible for him to attain the last step of Raja Yoga. Many of the yogis in the earlier days of their practice of Raja Yoga observe certain Hatha Yoga practices, which are mostly physical, in order to strengthen the physical constitution. That is one of the reasons Raja Yoga is sometimes regarded as a psychophysical -process of the attainment of truth.
Unfortunately, it was found that many persons who practiced Hatha Yoga developed some of the extrasensory perceptions and occult or psychic powers, and they forgot the primary objective of yoga practices. These powers are regarded as obstacles . Some thinkers subdivide the four main divisions of yoga,- ]nana, Bhakti, Karma, and Raja. For instance, Mantra Yoga and such other subdivisions actually form parts of one of the main divisions.
It is difficult for beginners to get settled in higher spiritual practices. The mind remains restless; and_ if a person continues one form of practice, it becomes monotonous. So it is most advisable that the different methods-, devotion, work, and meditation-be combined until a genuine interest in are created. Otherwise there is great danger of reaction and dryness in the spiritual practices.
Many persons have given up their exercises and ruined their progress because they were not wisely directed. Again, many devotees, in their early enthusiasm, try to imitate great saints and spiritually well-established persons. They try to intensify meditation or worship and ignore other aspects of life and activity, even in the beginning of religious life. They need guidance so that they will not have bad reactions, dryness, and lack of interest. So it is always desirable to have a little variation in the early stages of spiritual practices. A good thought has been expressed by a devotee: “We all have our destination, although different paths we choose to the storehouse of Infinite Knowledge for the Self to explore.”
Swami Vivekananda was the advocate of developing and harmonizing these four methods or yogas in the individual. He felt that, if anyone could combine two or three methods, he would have more harmonious development than. There would not be any possibility of narrowness or one-sidedness, and the character would be well rounded and fully developed. It is, however, difficult for one to perfect one’s self in all of them simultaneously. There are, of course, persons who can do it, but usually one feels quite successful if he can reach the goal by following one system thoroughly.
It goes without saying that one must perfect one’s self in what- ever method is adopted in order to attain the desired realization. However, partial practice or combination of some of the methods is extremely elevating and desirable, especially for beginners. One should be careful not to lose interest in God by being injudicious in practices. One should also be careful in making the right choice of the methods according to one’s own temperament.
There is so much difference between one man and another in their inclinations and their temperaments that no one method can be assigned to all for their sadhana or spiritual advancement. Different temperaments require different Sadhana and different ways of worship.
“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.” “Yoga means addition – addition of energy, strength and beauty to body, mind and soul.”