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Raj Yoga is a science, an exact science, a perfect and the most practical science. It brings about the unification of the Jiva with the Divine Supreme through thoughts waves-control and their inward diversion and generation of Divine Energy. It starts with the control of the mind. It progresses through the opening of the inner consciousness to the Shabd-Brahma and meditation on the self-effulgent Divine Light. It ends in the complete union of the mind and consciousness with the Supreme Divine and it results in complete Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the Turiya State in which is attained Brahma-Swarup, salvation, immortality, vision of the universe and knowledge of time-past, present and future.
The word Yoga has been derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj" which literally means to join. Though the word 'yoga' really means ultra-efficiency in the process of unification of the Jiva with the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent Divine (Hindi Quote) Gita Chapter II Verse 50 - ostensibly it is of two kinds viz, the physical yoga or Hath yoga and the Raj Yoga.
The Physical yoga. It deals with a precise system of physical exercises. It is in fact a physical discipline and aims at the harmonious development of the body and the mind. It tries to help in the control and co-ordination of subtle forces in the body. It keeps the body free from disease and premature decay. It ensures and increases energy, vigor, longevity and a radiant health. The various components of Hata yoga are (i) Shad-Kriyas, (ii) Asans, (iii) Pranayams, (iv) Mudras, (v) Bandhas, (vi) Concentration and (vii) Meditation.
Shad-Kriyas seek preliminary unification of the various limbs of the body. Asans seek to control the physical body and the nerve centers. They try to render the body firm and steady and keep it free from physical ailments, exhaustion and inertia. Pranayama aims at the control of breath. Bandhas seek to restrict the Pran to move upwards and Apana to move downwards. They try to unite the Pran with Apana. Mudras seek to constitute a check on the turbulent movements of the mind and to arrest it from wavering from one sense object to another. Though concentration and meditation are said to be components of Hath Yoga, in reality they fall under the realm of Raj Yoga and it is entirely impossible for a Hath yogi to attain complete and true concentration and meditation. It is often said that the aim of Hath yoga is Raj yoga and it is an indispensable part of the latter. But this is a mischievous argument to mislead innocent people and cheat them. Hath Yoga is not at all necessary for the practice of Raj Yoga. It does not come even within the precincts of Raj Yoga. Both of them are poles apart.
Raj Yoga is a discipline of the mind and inner consciousness, the practice of which is entirely dependant on (i) the practical knowledge of the Shabd-Brahma, (ii) the practical vision of the Divine Light and (iii) the good grace and physical aid of the Living Tatwadarshi Gyani Sadguru. Without the good grace and physical aid of the living Tatwadarshi Gyani Sadguru, the practical knowledge of the Shabd-Brahma and the practical vision of the Divine Light are impossible and without them the practice of Raj Yoga is an impossibility. Hence the first step for the practice of the Raj Yoga is the search for a living Tatwadarshi Gyani Sadguru. The next step is to obtain His good grace and physical aid through humility, unreserved service, complete dedication, esteemed reverence and unflinching faith. And the third is the attainment of the knowledge of the Shabd-Brahma and the vision of the self-effulgent Divine Light within oneself through Him.
Since the union of the mind with the Shabd-Brahma and Divine Light is very necessary at every step of the practice of the various components of Raj Yoga, their practical knowledge is indispensable prerequisite of Raj Yoga.
Raj Yoga is the most convenient process for attainment of the most concealed and esoteric jnan which is the Sovereign Science, the sovereign secret, supremely holy, instantaneous bestower of bliss, most spiritual, imperishable, and the eternal truth. Lord Krishna says to Arjun :
(Hindi Quote) : (Gita ch. IX-1)
(Hindi Quote) : (Gita ch IX - 2)
(Arjun, you are not a pessimist, you are totally devoid of carping habit, hence I shall unfold to you the most concealed and esoteric Jnan with its secret components, the attainment of which shall absolve you of all evils.
(This Jnan is the sovereign science, the sovereign secret. supremely holy, the best, the most spiritual, the most practical, imperishable and instantaneous bestower of eternal bliss).
Lord Krishna then revealed to him that the whole universe is pervaded by the unmanifest God who is seated in all beings. At the end of every Kalp all beings take refuge in the Divine and at the beginning of the Kalp, God embodies them again according to their previous sanskars-propensity. The ignorant and the fool do not know the unmanifest God seated in all beings nor the manifest God, the Sadguru. They take the Sadguru as an ordinary mortal human being. But the wise men know Him as omnipresent, eternal, all pervading and imperishable and constantly remember Him as such. A man of resolute faith establishes union of his consciousness with the God's Name, the Shabd--Brahma and constantly meditates upon unmanifest Divine Light. God is the Creator and the Ruler of the Universe. He is the Creator of the knowledge, Creator of Om and Vedas. He is the Supreme Goal, the supporter of all, Lord of all, witness of good and bad deeds, abode and shelter of all, selfless and disinterested friend of all and He is the origin and the end. He is the imperishable seed. Lord Krishna further says that those who perform sacrifices etc as enjoined in the Vedas go to heaven and enjoy the fruits of their deeds there and at the end fall down to this earth again. But those who remain constantly meditative on God - Divine Light - and establish union of their consciousness with Him are freed from the whirls of death and births and attain salvation and eternal bliss. God himself bears their 'Yoga' and 'Chhema', i.e. God Himself helps hasten their union with Him, and protects them from all obstacles in the way. He further said, "I am equally present in all beings. No one is either hateful or dear to me. But he who unites his consciousness with me becomes one with me; he becomes 'I' and I become 'he' " Even the vilest becomes saint when he unites his consciousness with God. He attains Supreme peace. In the end Lord Krishna instructed Arjun to unite his mind with God, to be devoted to Him and to work for Him.
This much was the theoretical side of the aforesaid sovereign Jnan. Its practical side was revealed to Arjun when Lord Krishna opened his Divine Eye and showed him the Divine Light and imparted to him the knowledge of Shabd-Brahma, the Name of God. The practical aspect of this sovereign Jnan is thus acquired through Raj Yoga with the help of the living Tatwadarshi Gyanee Sadguru.
The various components of Raj Yoga are said to be (1) Yama (2) Niyama., (3) Asana, (4) Pranayam, (5) Pratyahara, (6) Dharna, (7) Dhyana and (8) Samadhi.
1. Yama : - Self restraint is called yama. (Hindi Quote) Broadly speaking Ahinsa, Asteya( not to steal ), truthfulness, Brahamcharya, and Aparigrah (not to amass more than daily necessity) constitute yama.
2. Niyama : - (Hindi Quote) To be devoted to own Soul is Niyma. Purity, contentment, practice of opening consciousness to Shabd Brahma and meditation God constitute Niyama.
3. Asana: - The posture in which concentration, meditation and jap are practised is called Asna. There are countless asans but four of them are most important. They are (i) Sidhasan, (ii) Padmasan, (iii) Swastikasan, and (iv) Veerasan.Sidhasan : Placing the heel of the left leg beneath the anus and the heel of the right leg beneath the scrotum and sitting erect with backbone straight is called Sidhasan. This is the best Asana for Pranayam.
Padmasan: Putting the right leg on the left thigh a the left leg on the right thigh and placing the hands on knees is Padmasan. This Asan is used at the time of hearing Anhad Nad.
Swastikasan: Putting the left leg beneath the right thigh and the right leg on the left thigh is called Swastikasan. It is used for Jap.
Veerasan : Putting both the legs beneath both the thighs respectively backwards is called veerasan. It is used for meditation.
4. Pranayam: - Restraint of Breath: There are many kinds of Pranayam. Amongst them 'Chandra Bhedan' is the most important and useful. Inhale through left nostril, retain the air in the abdomen and then exhale through right nostril. If the time taken in inhaling be one minute, then the time for retention should be four minutes and the time taken for exhaling should be two minutes.It is most significant that in actual practice of Raj Yoga the above kind of Pranayam is forbidden. (This pranayam is resorted to by Hath Yogi and not by Raj Yogi).
5. Pratyahara : - Restriction of senses: (Hindi Quote) To withdraw the senses from sense objects and to restrain them is called Pratyahara.
6. Dharna - Concentration: - Withdrawing the outer consciousness and opening the inner consciousness and fixing it at a point within is called Dharna.
7. Dhyana - Meditation: - (Hindi Quote) To meditate on the self-effulgent Divine Light which is Satchidanand at the centre of brows within is called Dhyana.
8. Samadhi: - (Hindi Quote) Complete union of the Jiva with the Supreme Divine without any knowledge of the knower and the knowledge and a state of supraconsciousness in Turiya state is called Samadhi.
From what has been said above, is evident that there appears to be much strain in Raj yoga also. But truly speaking the Raj yoga is the most comfortable process of unification of the Jiva with the Almighty. As a matter of fact none of the components from No.1 to 5 are absolutely necessary in Raj Yoga. When the Sadguru bestows his grace and opens the Divine Eye of the aspirant, he gets the practical vision of the Divine Light withinself. The Sadguru imparts to him the practical knowledge of Shabd-Brahma also which is responsible for the creation of the whole universe. After attainment of the vision of the Divine Light and the knowledge of the Shabd-Brahma, the aforementioned - No. 1 to 5 - components of Raj Yoga are entirely eliminated. The aspirant is thereafter required to withdraw his outer consciousness and unite his inner consciousness with the Shabd-Brahma within. This provides him concentration which ultimately develops to meditation and his inner consciousness becomes unified with the Shabd-Brahma and the Divine Light. At this stage the most powerful Divine Energy is generated in him an he becomes immune from destruction even by atomic energy. But the State of Samadhi still remains remote. When the living Sadguru becomes pleased with his devotion and service, he pushes his inner consciousness higher up and the aspirant attains Samadhi, the Turiya state in which he becomes on with the Brahma. There then remains no state of separation between him and the Almighty. And it is why Lord Krishna said to Arjun: -(Hindi Quote) (Gita IX 34)
(Put your mind in me, unite your consciousness in the Shabd-Brahma, adore me, bow to me. Thus uniting yourself to Me and entirely depending on Me, you shall become one with Me).
Thus we see that for attaining perfection and integral happiness Raj Yoga is the only way.