Excerpt from book of
Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Yoga Suthras of Pathanjali
Yoga too is of two varieties: Rajayoga and Jnanayoga. In Rajayoga, there are Eight Stages which have to be well cultivated, and realised. Of these, some are external, some internal. This is the Aryan path. In the Jnana Yoga, there is no "external" at all. Both these yogas have as their goal, the stilling of the agitations of all levels of Consciousness. For those who have calmed all these agitations, everything is Brahmam. Primary for this purpose is Jnanayoga more than Rajayoga; at least that is the opinion of the Knowers of Brahmam: they say "that is the thing to be known, to be reached".
But, according to the Wisdom of the Upanishads the direct knowledge of the Brahmam can be got by the Eightfold Yoga of Yama, Niyama, Aasana, Praanaayaama, Prathyaashaara, Dhaarana, Dhyaana, and Samaadhi.
Yama: Yama includes Ahimsa (Non-violence), Sathya (Truth), Astheya (Non-stealing), Brahmacharya (Celibacy), and Aparigraha (Non-acceptance).
This is the usual meaning given to Yama, but I would say instead, that it means the giving up of attachment to the body and to the senses. The Brahma entity (Which is devoid of Name and Form, and Qualities, which is without End, without Joy or Sorrow, and without modifications, which is Eternal and of the Nature, of Sat-Chith-Ananda) appears, as a result of Delusion, as all this Creation (endowed with all Qualities and Modifications, viz Name, Form, Transformation of Rise and Decline, Joy and Sorrow.) This Appearance has an End; it has various other limitations; it appears to be ever-moving and so it is called Samsaara. Thus, this Brahma entity appears in both the individual form of Vyashti and the collective form of Samashti and deludes even great Scholars and Pandits.
One single Chaithanya becomes manifest in different ways as all this multiplicity. Therefore, we speak of the particular and of the Collective i.e., a collection of Particulars. Of course, the Particular (the Vyashti) is a super-imposition on the Brahmam, a super-imposition, like seeing the snake on the rope, the lake in the mirage; each of the three bodies, the Sthoola, the Sookshma, and the Kaarana, is itself for the knower of Brahmam, a super imposition. To say that it is real or unreal is not correct; it is neither, real or unreal, it is Mithya. The ignorant man caught in the meshes of this Delusion believes that Samsaara is ever lasting and a source of happiness.
Falsely identifying themselves with the body, men suffer in the coils of attachment towards their mother, father, wife, children, relatives and friends. They do not realise (through the constant contemplation of the Brahmam having the characteristics of Sat-chith-ananda, through the never-ceasing discrimination between the change-less and the changing, through association with the good, the service of the wise, and the acquisition of purity of intelligence) that they have neither body nor senses, that they are Brahmam (the sustenance and Support, the Adhishtaana of the three-fold Body and everything else). The establishment of one's intellect in this Consciousness is the real renunciation or Vairagya of the body and the senses, implied in the word, Yama, as defined by me earlier. This is what is called Yama, in the Jnanayoga.
Joy in times of good fortune and sorrow in times of bad, mistaking the pain of the body and the senses as one's own, such dual attitude and feeling must be overcome. Step by step, the identification with the body and the senses has to be given up. This is the sign of one's acquiring the Anga of Yama. This Anga is the very foundation of Jnanayoga.
Niyama: Niyama means purity, being always full of joy, engaged in Thapas or Japam. That is what is mentioned in Rajayoga; Soucha, Santhosha, Thapas, Swaadhyaaya, Eswarapranidhaana, these are the Components of Niyama.
But, I would explain it in the following manner. Niyama is the condition of steady Prema in the Paramatma or Godhead, at all times and under all conditions. "Saa parama prema roopaa", it is said in the Narada Bhakthi Sutra. "It is the highest form of Prema". It is only when such steadfast Love towards the Absolute is gained, that the Soucha or Purity, the Santhosha or Joy, the Thapas, the Swaadhyaaya or Study, the Easwarapranidhaana or Surrender to the Lord, mentioned in the Rajayoga will also be got. When Yama is won, Ananda and Santhi will become the possession of Man through the source of all Ananda and Santhi, the Sat-Chith-Ananda Parabrahma Entity.
For these two are not derived from the dry worldly material objects. "Rasovai sah" He is Sweetness, "Ananda vai brahma" Brahma is Ananda, says the Upanishads. It is in and through Brahma that the material world is endowed with even the tiniest modicum of joy. Without the basic Brahma, which is the completest and the fullest Sweetness and Joy, this fleeting evanescent Appearance thereon cannot be so sweet and joy-giving to the worldly minded! It would have been, without that basic Rasa, terribly bitter. For this little sweetness that material objects give, that Ocean of Nectar is the cause. The association with the knowers of Brahma, the discussion with them of the Nature of the Absolute in a spirit of humility and earnestness, a thirst to realise the Reality, unwavering Prema towards the Lord, these are the characteristics of those established in Niyama. Such stalwarts will not be affected by derision or praise, by wind or sun or rain, by honour or dis-honour; they will tread the path of liberation free from all attachment to anything except the one single aim of realising the Ananda of Unison with the basic Brahma.
He who has realised the stage of Niyama will be ready to sacrifice everything for the acquisition of Jnana. He will run to any distance to listen to discussion of Brahmam; he will obey every instruction of the wise; he will attach himself to those who teach him the science of Ultra-consciousness or Chinmayathathwa, as if they alone are his most intimate friends; he will put up with any trouble in fulfilling their wishes. These are the signs of the Niyamastha, or person who has achieved Niyama.
Aasana: One should have a steady pose in sitting, that is to say, one should not either shake or sway. But, even if one sits like a rock, motionless and with all joints locked, it can never be called Aasana. That is not the sign of real Aasana. Aasana means both steadiness of the physical frame and inner joy that blooms in the heart. So whatever the pose adopted by the sadhaka of Yoga, it must be both steady and comfortable. That is why Pathanjali has advised, Sthirasukham-aasanam. I am telling you the same thing, in another way: which is the best and most success-yielding Aasana? It is that pose in which one is most un-affected by the external world. It is that pose which comes of the practice of the moral life, meritorious in the world and in accordance with the Vedic path. It is absolute lack of interest in matters unconnected with Paramatma. When some one whose ways you do not appreciate comes near you, there is no need to find fault with him; there is no need either to laugh at him or show him your contempt. It is enough if you continue to do your work, unaffected by his arrival.
Let those whose behaviour you do not appreciate follow their path, leave them alone. That is the Udaaseenabhava, the attitude of unaffectedness. After the dawn of love to the Absolute, the aspirant gets this bhaava towards all worldly things. To be more exact, one should constantly be turning over in the mind, the Reality of Brahma and the Unreality of the Jagath, Brahma Sathyam: Jaganmithya. One must avoid comradeship with the bad and too much of friendship with the good, even! Attachment of this nature will drag one down from the Centripetal path, the Nivrittimarga to the Pravrittimarga. Give up attachment with the momentary, the things clothed with the trappings of Name and Form. Once you have achieved this Udaaseenatha, or attitude of unaffectedness, you will have unshakeable Santhi, self control, and purity of mind. You will have the steadiness and stability of Aasana.
Pranayama means usually the control and regulation of the inhaling and exhaling of the breath. In the Yogasastras, this is explained as rechaka, pooraka, kumbhaka etc. comprising the various stages of pranayama. But, I explain it this way: The control of the pranas or pranasamyama is possible only for these who consider this whole universe as 'unreal'. We are seeing golden ornaments of various types and styles, all are made of the same metal, gold but, still, one likes one ornament more, another ornament less, not all the things equally. We have given various names and forms ourselves to these articles according to the needs and fashions, likes and desires; but, yet, we are bound by a meaningless delusion which blinds us to the actuality. When the ornaments were thought of, when they were being manufactured, when they are in use, and when they are finally melted into a lump, they are and remain 'gold', isn't it?
Likewise, so many names and forms appear and reappear in this world, rise, grow and get destroyed, but that which is the basic substratum, the eternal, persists in and through all this change and remains eternal. Just as the multiple forms create the illusion and arouse feelings of hatred and love, so too these forms and names delude and create attachment. They make us believe that they are themselves the source of joy. But, do not Sruthis say, the Universe is nothing but Brahmam, the Beginningless, the Endless, the Unblemished, the Ever-pure? They declare that the ornaments are passing phases, that Gold alone is eternal and real and true. Therefore, you must take everything to be Brahmam and Brahmam alone. Convince yourselves that all appearance are the product of Maya, practise always that type of discrimination, evince great interest in knowing the reality and be ever alert to recognise the truth that everything is Brahmam.
Of course, in the deluded stage, the world appears as real and Brahmam as a meaningless concoction. In the stage of intelligent charity, the Jagath is grasped in its true sense as unreal. The Fairy of Delusion overpowers you by her charms and by her arrows of false-hood and gilt. It is only the person possessed of the vision of universal Brahmam that can soon escape her wiles. Such a person fully knows that names and forms arose a little time ago and disappear a little time after. In the Githa too it is said; "these, O Bharatha, appear in the middle only." (II 28) The world is subject to evolution and inevolution. To understand this, one need not wait till the end of the world; it is enough if the angle of vision is corrected. That is the gateway to real knowledge. That is real control of Pranas, the conciousness that the world is Unreal, or Mithya.
The genuine master of Pranayama will picture the world like letters written in pencil many years ago, indistinct, hazy, misty. Knowing that Brahmam alone is all this he will never be drawn towards his environment however fascinating it may be. Earnings, wealth, property, everything is unreal, valueless, not worth while. This conviction is the best sign of Pranayama.
The tongue tastes, the eye sees, the ear hears, the skin feels and the nose smells, each sense acts thus throughout life, is it not? The senses have to be withdrawn from the external objective world and turned towards the internal Mental Consciousness or Intelligence known as Chitta. This process is called by Pathanjali in his Yoga Suthras as Prathyahara. However, I shall define it in another manner also.
The inward activity of the Chitta, that is to say, the perpetual in-sight of the Chitta, the fundamental directive force of all the senses, that is the real meaning of prathyaharam. It is only when the Chitta, or the Mind stuff realises that this is all Maya-born and Maya-maintained that it will draw back its feelers from the sensory world, and give up its worldly selfish attitude. The general nature of the Chitta is to waver and hesitate and flutter in its search for happiness and peace. When it knows that the things it ran after are transitory and meaningless, it grows suddenly ashamed and disillusioned. Then, it begins to illumine the consciousness and to clarify it.
The Sadhaka who has attained this stage will be watching the outer world as a huge pantomime; his inward look will give him such joy and contentment that he will repent for all the time wasted in external activities and pursuit of sensory joy. So, the straight, sharp, single-pointed vision of the Chitta towards the Atma within, that, is the real Prathyaharam.
Pathanjali has explained that when the chitta is fixed in one place, it is named Dhaarana. I would say that it means more the undeviating attitude of the Chitta, its unwavering character. When the Chitta gives up the attachment to external objects, when it is saturated with repentance for past foolishness, when it is filled with remorse, renunciation and understanding, when it directly fosters the development of progressive qualities of head and heart, then truly it becomes fit to join the Ideal, it contemplates only the Ideal. Such fixed attention is what is meant by Dhaarana.
To whichever place the Chitta may wander, instruct it to find only Brahmam there. Whatever ideas and pictures it may form, instruct it to find only Brahmam, in those creations of the mindstuff.
Treat your Chitta as a little boy. Bring up that boy, training it to become wiser and wiser, caress it into good ways, make it aware that all objects that are 'seen' are just products of one's own illusion, remove all its fears and foibles, and focus its attention steadly on the goal only. Never deal forcibly with the Chitta; it will yield easily to tenderness and patient training. Correct its waywardness by means of the attitude of renunciation. Destroy its Ajnana by means of the instruction in the knowledge of the Atma. Strengthen the interest, it is already endowed with, towards the realisation of Brahmam, let it give up the attraction towards the evanescent and the false, the mirages created by fancy and fantasy, turn its face inwards away from the external world by these three methods, Dhaarana can be established firmly.
During both the waking and the dream stages, as well as during all the process of mental spinning and weaving of colourful pictures by the imagination, the Chitta has to be watched and trained. It must be made to flow, single pointed and steady, like water from a sluice, towards Brahmam and Brahmam only. That is real Dhaarana.
Jnana that flows in a single direction is Dhyana. I have already described its various characteristics in previous articles. Dhyanam, in short, is the uninterrupted dwelling of the consiousness in Jnana, the consciousness itself becoming thereby Jnanaswarupa. All this is Brahmam. The ocean of Amritha is everywhere Amritha. Whether in the well, or in the tank or in the river, ocean, water is water. So too, when all is Brahmam, all is the same substance appearing under a multiplicity of names and forms. Akasa is there, inside the pot as well as outside it, and it is the same Akasa, though it appears as two, interior Akasa and the exterior Akasa! The Brahmam, too, appearing as various bodies with their own individual characteristics, is One and one Only. Like Akasa inside the pot as well as outside the pot, it is One. Experiencing that One and only Brahmam, avoiding all feelings of difference and distinction, that is the sign of Dhyana, the essence of the Dhyana experience, however much individuals may vary.
When Form is ignored and Meaning alone is felt, that is Samadhi. This is the opinion of Pathanjali. This can be explained in another manner also. When the person engaged in Dhyana, forgets both himself and the fact that he is engaged in Dhyana, then it becomes Samadhi. That is to say, when he is merged in the thing he meditates on, he enters into the stage called Samadhi. Dhyana fulfils itself, becomes complete, in Samadhi. Dhyana strives, proceeds through effort, but, Samadhi comes effortlessly. It is the culmination of the eight fold discipline, the Ash-tanga.
When one knows that there is absolutely no iota of distinction between the Jiva and the Atma, that they are One and the Same, then it is the highest Samadhi. It is the fruit of ripest Dhyana, the dearest moment of Yogis, the destroyer of Ajnana, the signal of the Grace of God. Incessant thirst to know the Atman as all, is worthy to be encouraged and welcomed, for, it is the path through which all doubts can be eliminated.
Samadhi is of two types, Savikalpa, Nirvikalpa. In Savikalpa, the Thriputi, or the Threefold nature of Knower, Knowing and Knowee will still persist. When it is realised that the Knower is Brahmam, Knowing too is Brahmam and the thing to be known is also Brahmam, then there is no more Vikalpa or Agitation or Activity; that is the Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
Samadhi is as the ocean to which all Sadhana flows. The seven streams of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Prathyahara, Dharana and Dhyana all find their consummation in it. Every trace of name and Form disappear in that Ocean. He who serves and He who receives the service, he who meditates and He who is meditated upon, all such duality is dispelled and destroyed. One will not experience even the experience, that is to say, one will not be aware that he is experiencing! Oneself alone, nought else - that will be the Samadhi. If there is aught else, it cannot be Samadhi. It is something like a dream, a fantasy, a passing vision at best. Samadhi can admit of nothing other than Brahmam.