SRISCHANDRA BASU, B. A., F. T. S.,
VAKIL, HIGH COURT, N. W. P.
127, M U S J I D B A R I S T R E E T
MAHARSI H.S. OLCOTT,
President-Founder, Theosophical Society
MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED,
IN RECOGNITION OF HIS SERVICES
REVIVAL OF ARYAN RELIGION
For ready reference and elucidation of the terms in constant use in the course of the present work, we shall give the definitions of all the important words. These definitions, as far as possible, are in the words of the great Yogi Patanjali.
- YOGA is the restraining of the modification of the thinking principle.
- SAMADHI (Meditation) is the intentness on a single point; or that state of knowledge in which the mind, having avoided the obstacles, is well fixed on, or confined to, one object only. It is a continual concentration of thought, by means of which all external objects, and even oneís own individuality, are forgotten, and the mind fixed completely and immovably on the One Being.
- SAMPRAJNATA-SAMADHI (Meditation with distinct recognition) is that form of meditation which arises from the attendance of argumentation (vitarka), deliberation (vichara), beatitude (ananda), and egotism (asmita).
- ASAMPRAJNATA-SAMADHI (Meditation without distinct recognition) is independent of any fresh antecedent, being in the shape of the self-reproduction of thought, after the departure of all objects.
- ABHYASA (Practice) is the repeated effort that the internal organóChittaóshall remain in its unmodified state, and in a firm position observed out of regard for the end in view, and perseveringly adhered to for a long time unintermittingly.
- VAIRAGYA (Indifference) is the consciousness of having overcome oneís desires; this consciousness is of one who neither thirsts after the objects that are seen on earth no those that are heard of in the Scriptures.
- VRITTI (Modification of the internal organ) is the modification produced from either of the following five causes:ó
- Pramana (Evidence or right notion) that which arises from perception, inference and testimony.
- Viparyaya (Misconception) is incorrect notion, not staying in the proper form of that in respect whereof the misconception is entertained.
- Vikalpa (Doubt);óa notion devoid of a thing in reality corresponding thereto, following upon knowledge produced by words.
- Nidra (Sleep) depends on the conception of nothing.
- Smriti (Memory) is the not letting go of an object of which the mind has been aware.
- ISWARA (Lord) is a particular Spirit (Purusha) untouched by troubles, works, fruits, or deserts, in whom the germ of the omniscient becomes infinite, who is the preceptor even of the first, for he is not limited by time, and whose name is Glory.
- DRASHTA (Seer, soul) is vision simply, though pure, looking directly, it is spectator merely through proximity. It is mere thought. It alone is the experiencer.
- AVIDYA (Ignorance) is the notion that the uneternal, the impure evil and what is not-soul, are severally eternal, pure, joy and soul.
- ASMITA (Egotism) is the identifying of the power that sees with the power of seeing.
- RAGA (Desire) is that which dwells on pleasure; it is longing for the means of enjoyment.
- DWESHA (Aversion) is that which dwells on pain.
- ABHINIVESA (Tenacity of life) is the attachment which every one feels naturally to the body through dread of death.
- YAMA (Forbearance) consists of not killing, veracity, not stealing, continence, and not coveting.
- NIYAMA (Religious observances) are purification, contentment, austerity, inaudible mutterings, and persevering devotion to the Lord (ISWARA).
- ASANA (Posture) is the position which one sets himself to. It must be steady and pleasant.
- PRANAYAMA (Regulation of the breath) is the cutting short of the motion of inspiration and expiration.
- PRATYAHARA (Restraint) is the accomodation of the senses to the nature of the mind, in the absence of the concernment with each oneís own object. It is the complete subjugation of the senses.
- DHARANA (Attention) is the fixing of the internal organ (Chitta) to a place.
- DHYANA (Contemplation) is the course of uniform (fixed only on one object) modification of knowledge at that place where the internal organ is fixed in Dharana.
- SAMADHI (Modification) [see Def. 2] is the same contemplation or Dhyana when it arises only about a material substance or object of sense, and therefore it is then like non-existence of itself and like ignorance.
- SANYAMA is the three, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi operating on only one object; or the technical name for the above three taken together is Sanyama.
- ANTARANGA (Interior) is the name applied in Samprajnata Samadhi to the three Yogangas: Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
- BAHIRANGA (Exterior) is the name applied in Samprajnata Samadhi to the five Yogangas: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara.
- DHARMA is that which follows upon, or has the properties in, the shape of Santa (tranquil), Udita (risen), and Avyapradesya (incapable of denomination). In other words, Dharma means substance in which the properties adhere.
- SIDDHIS are the superhuman or psychic faculties developed from the practice of the Yoga.
THE student of Yoga should, as far as possible, make up his mind what kind of Yoga method he is going to adopt. For through the aim of the various systems of Yoga is the concentration of the mind, yet some are more difficult than the others, some lead to the attainment of Yoga earlier than the rest. Even there is difference in the capacity of the students which ought to be taken into consideration. There cannot be given any hard and fixed method for all. All that can be done is to give the first principles, the primary truths, and leave the rest to the intelligent student to evolve out for himself. Difference of age, difference of education, religion, race and nationality, require different treatments from the hand of the master. Thus the methods of Hath Yoga are such which an adult, after the age of twenty, can master with extreme difficulty, while to the plastic and supple limbs of a child or a boy of ten and twelve they are very easy of attainment. Similarly, a man whose mind is well cultivated with philosophy and poetry, whose fancy is vivid, whose imagination quick and creative, need not undergo any of those preliminary methods laid down in the treatises of Yoga for the development of imagination.
The period within which success in Yoga is acquired by the student also has proportional variation. To an energetic and enthusiastic nature success may crown his efforts very soon, while a dull fellow may pass years ere he understands the first principles of this mind-regulating philosophy. The treatises of Hindu Yoga are full of dissertations about the various kind of persons fitted to acquire Yoga. In fact the chapter on Adhikaris, persons fitted for Yoga forms the first in all systems of Yoga. The father of Yoga philosophy disposes of this question with his characteristic brevity and universality by two sutras or aphorisms. That which puzzled the brains of the later-day Yogis, and on which so much ingenuity has been mis-spent, has been compressed likewise by Patanjali within the narrow but all-embracing compass of two lines. Aphorism twenty-two, book first, enunciates:ó”According to the nature of the methodsóthe mild, the medium, and the transcendentóadopted, the ascetics who adopt method, are of nine kinds.”
In accordance with this division, there are nine classes of the followers of the Yoga. In the mild variety there are three sub-divisions, and similarly with the medium and the transcendental methods. The following table will show the different kinds of followers of Yoga:ó
|METHODS||CLASSES OF FOLLOWERS|
impetuous (Madhya samvega).
Patanjali promises speedy success to him who is hotly impetuous and follows the transcendental method i.e., he who comes under the ninth class of transcendent, hotly impetuous. Thus there is ample room for the student of Yoga Vidya to select from. He may follow the mild method, which is the lowest, or he may, if he can, take up the Adhimatra method. An explanation of these methods will be given further on. Now we shall speak of some of the preliminary things conducive to the concentration of the mind, and thereby unfolding the spiritual powers latent in every human soul. In this chapter we intend to dwell on the following pointsófood, dress, habits, and place.
Patanjali in his aphorism does not touch on any of these points. He takes it for granted that the followers of Yoga have this requisite knowledge. In fact the directions which the later authors on Yoga have given are such as are applicable not only exclusively to the student of occultism, but to every description of students. Nevertheless, we shall give here some short hints on the subject.
As regards dress, it must be borne in mind that the concentration is best facilitated when one is warmly dressed, and his attention is not distracted by the changes of weather. We think it highly unphilosophical to renounce all dress in the first stage of Yoga abhyas, as many of the Shadhus are seen to do. Instead of helping in any way the fixing of attention, their naked bodies continually divert their thought. No doubt the master Yogi needs no external help to protect his body from the inclemencies of temperatures. He can throw around him an impenetrable veil of akasa, and defy the forces of nature; but what a master may do with impunity can never be done by a neophyte without injury. The dress should not be too tight nor too loose, and, as far as possible, it should not be sewn by a tailor. If sewn-cloth cannot be dispensed with, let it be well purified of all foreign magnetism as far as possible. The clothes should be washed well every day by the student himself if possible, and it should be made a rule to change the lower garment at least once a day, and in no case to keep it on for two days. The material of which the dress of a Yogi should be made ought to be of non-conductors like silk, straw, wool, or of leaves.
As to the food most conducive to the spiritual and psychic development, the authorities are unanimous in favor of a vegetarian diet, not that there were no Yogis who were meat-eaters, but it has been found by the concurrent experiences of ages that meat, while it increases animal activity, decreases the intellectual power. All races of meat-eaters are physically active and strong, but the same cannot be predicated with regard to their spiritual state. Animal passions and appetites become doubled by subsisting on a carnivorous diet, and the natural and constant restlessness of carnivorous animals is diametrically opposed to those conditions which favor quietness and abstraction. All hibernating animals, says Dr. N.C. Paul in his “Treatise on Yoga Philosophy”, prefer vegetable food, and Yoga is a kind of hibernation according to him. In recommending a vegetable diet for the student of the Yoga, we need not enforce our doctrine from consideration of occult philosophy, which he would not be in a position to understand were we to do so. In the very first stage of Yoga viz., Yama, the student is exhorted to practice maitri, universal kindness, and how can this be consistent with the cruel system of butchering innocent creatures for satisfying oneís taste. We need not disprove the position of those who jesuitically try to equivocate with their own conscience, by saying that it is not they who kill but the butchers, for they ought to remember the aphorism of Patanjali, which says tható”The things questionable”, e.g., killing, stealing, &c., whether done , caused to be done, or approved of, whether resulting from covetousness, anger, or delusion, whether slight, of intermediate character, or beyond measure, have no end of fruits in the shape of pain and ignorance.” In fact, vegetable world can supply all the constituents which healthy human organism requires. As to the quality of food, the Yogis of India have all shown a great love for milk and rice. The chemical analysis of milk shows that it contains all the ingredients which a human body requires, while rice is to be recommended chiefly on account of its containing proportionately smaller amount of stimulating nitrogenous matter which abounds so much in meats of every description. It must be all the while remembered, that the food above recommended is for Rishis and Yogis, and such persons whose habits are sedentary, and require intense mental abstraction; and therefore, this kind of diet has been called sawta-guni-bhojan. For warriors and mechanics employed in physical active duties of life Rajaguni food is the one to be recommended. Next as to the quality of food to be taken let the student beware of gluttony; he should eat just enough for livelihoodófor the support of life. But let him not at the same time starve himself to emaciation. It is desirable that he should eat less than usual, and rise from the table with appetite remaining than fully satisfied. Let him also decrease the quantity of food slowly, steadily, but imperceptibly. In fact his progress through the several stages of Yoga will of itself tend towards decreasing the amount of food but let him nevertheless help nature. In no case should the student of Yoga indulge in alcoholic or any other intoxicating drug or liquor, &c. The practices of some class of inferior Yogis of stimulating psychic development by opium, bhang, charas, and ganja, are to be strongly denounced by every sane and reasonable creature: for these, though inducing momentary or temporary trance by their skilful administration, yet invariably are followed by terrible reaction, and make the divine temple of the soul a ruin for the vampires, spooks and elementals to take possession of and prey upon.
The student of Yoga, like his fellow-student of physical sciences, should cultivate regular habits. He should attend to all the rules of health and sanitation. Early rising and the Yoga abhyasa for an hour or so before sun-rise has been often recommended. The would-be Yogi must attend to the purity of body as well as soul. Let him bathe twice daily, in the morning and evening, and, if his constitution would allow, with cold water at all seasons of the year. Several Yogis of the Sikh school, as well as the Theosophists, maintain that keeping long hair, and preserving the animal electricity, facilitates Yoga. And in truth the majority of Saint, Rishis, and Prophets are generally represented with flowing hair.
The Yogi should choose a retired and unfrequented spot for practising Yoga. A league or two away from the bustle of active life, let the contemplative student select his retreat. The place should be such as to call up pure and divine thought. But it is also possible for a student to live in the city and acquire Yoga. And as the majority of our readers, I fear, are Grihastis, house-holders, and family-men, let them, therefore, set apart a room in their house sacred and secret for holy meditation. Let it never be entered by anybody and every-body; and it should be so situated or constructed as effectually to exclude all outside noise and commotion. If he likes, he may burn incense, like dhoop, &c., to make the atmosphere of the room pleasant and agreeable. The Buddhist scripture enjoins the following particulars about the choice of place by the ascetic:ó”It is a place where no business is transacted, and where there are no contentions or disputes. There are three descriptions of such places: (1) in some deep mountain ravine, remote from human intercourse; (2) in some forest resort (Aranya), at least a mile or two from a village, so as to be removed from any sound of worldly business or convention; (3) in a spot at a distance from a place where laymen live, in the midst of a quite Sangharama.” This precept of the Buddhist school is, however practicable only to the ascetic who has renounced all the concerns of the world. But as we tried to show in our preliminary remarks Yoga is not meant only for the ascetic, but is a common heritage of the Grihasta and Sanyasi, rich and poor.
“Next as to the time of practising Yoga. Every person who has a sound mind and a healthy body is capable of attaining Yoga. The training should be begun as early in life as possible. In old age, when habits are crystallized into second nature, it becomes almost impossible for a student to shake off the old Adam and to turn over a new page in life. Our countrymen have imbibed certain mistaken and erroneous notions as to the proper age when Yoga should be begun, from the works of the latter-day poets.” They assert that great kings, &c., practised Yoga in the last part of their lives when they had completed their worldly career, had children and grand-children, and had been satiated by satisfying all their carnal appetites. The great poet Kalidasa in his Raghuvansa says of the kings of the solar dynasty:óYogenante tanu taijam, i.e., they (the kings) left their bodies (i.e., died) by practising Yoga. But it must be remembered that Janaka also was a great king and a great Yogi too; similarly Dhruba and Prahlad were children when…*
* [Pages XVII to XIX (17 – 19) of the text are missing at the present time. These will be made available as soon as possible.]
[continued from Chapter III]
The first and foremost temptation which he meets with is from his passion, particularly from that of lust. Sexual desires will overcome him with irresistable force, vague yearnings will torture his every-day existence, and they will be the more powerful, the more idle he is. The common proverb, that Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do, is nowhere so well illustrated as in the case of the young Yogi. His sedentary habits, if not well regulated, peculiarly predispose him to these temptations, and it is to guard against them that such minute details are often given about food, regimen, posture, &c. To prevent distraction proceeding from this cause, the Sikh Guru Arjun advised his chelas to be married. He knew that though Yoga, like poetry, is a very jealous mistress, and that for the highest development of psychic powers, celibacy or at least chastity was an important condition, still he had well probed the depth of the human heart, and by his own example of married life showed that it is compatible with Yogic education.
Patanjali enumerates the following nine obstacles;óSickness, langour, doubt, carelessness, laziness, addiction to objects of sense, erroneous perception, failure to attain any stage of abstraction, and instability in it when attained. These are the primary distractions; there is yet another class which I may call secondary, viz., grief, distress, trembling, and sighing. The method of overcoming these obstacles is through abhyasa and Vairagya. In fact, Vairagya (indifference) will be of the greatest help to the student. If he is grieved at the death of a dear friend, let him betake to Vairagya, take shelter under its shade and hear its sweet and solemn admonitions, sayingó”nothing is permanent in this transitory world.” If suffering from the excruciating pains of sickness and disease, let him resort to this never-failing doctor Vairagya, and his pains will vanish. Martyrs have died on the stake without showing the slightest sign of pain, though their flesh was torn from the body by inches. What was it that supported them through this horrible trial of physical nature? Their mind no doubt. Is it then too much to expect from the aspirant of the heavy lore of our adepts that he should conquer his nerve-life by the indomitable strength of Vairagya? Truly there lies hid innumerable wonderful potencies under the covering of Vairagya. Learn, therefore, betimes to practise this virtue, thou would-be gymnosophist.
Besides Vairagya there are enumerated by Patanjali some five or six other methods of eliminating the evil consequences of the above-mentioned obstacles. Firstly by profound devotedness towards the Lord Iswara. We have already defined the term Iswara. This devotedness to God is an easy method of attaining Yoga. Those who adopt this system are called followers of Bhaktimaryga. The majority of the Aryans of India now know no other method than this. It is very popular with the masses; and that it is a very successful method is proved beyond doubt by the lives of religious saints and fakirs who perform miracles, so to speak, by their faith in the Lord God. By devotedness is not to be understood the hypocritical system of prayers which passes by that name. It must be entire resignation to God accompanied with intense love. It must be the forgetfulness of self,óliving in the Lord. We must worship the Lord not with flowers and incense, but with “repeating his name and reflecting on its signification.” He has got many names amongst different nations, but the Aryas have assigned most mystical powers to the word “Om.” This word is called pranava (glory), and its repetition is enjoined as a help to concentration. The Mahomedans use Allah-hu, the Sikhs Vah-Guru, the Buddhists Om mani padm hum, the Jews Jah-ve. The proper pronunciation of the pranava and reflecting on its signification brings with it the knowledge of the Lord.
The second method of over-powering these obstacles is “Dwelling upon one truth.” We must fix our attention again and again upon some one accepted truth; we must concentrate our mind upon one point, and allow it under no circumstance to wander from it. Another method is “through the practising of benevolence, tenderness, complacency, and disregard towards objects of happiness, grief, virtue and vice.” Benevolence but half represents the meaning of the original Sanskrit word Maitri. It is a term of larger signification than even charity. It is good-heartedness and love confined not within the limited circle of humanity, but extending to all animate creation, friendliness towards the creatures of God,ósomething more than philanthropy. “Tenderness” is showing compassion to the unfortunate, the wretched and the poor, while “complacency” is that state of sympathy which feels joy in the happiness of a fellow-creature. The whole essence of this method may be summed up in the comprehensive word “Sympathy,”óuniversal sympathy, sympathy for the animate and inanimate creation. The fourth expedient of combating mental distraction is “by forcibly restraining the breath,” i.e., Pranayama. We will treat of it in detail in the next chapter. The fifth method mentioned by Patanjali is “by fixing the attention on any object cognizable through the senses.” The student may fix his attention on the tip of the nose, the center of the tongue, &c. Another method is by fixing the attention on a luminous object.” This is more active, and produces, in certain constitutions, the trance state sooner than other methods. Placing a luminous object a yard or so at a distance, and looking at it steadily for some minutes, keeping the head all the while at an angle of 45 degrees will almost induce hypnotic trance. The mystic needs no external luminous object to fix his eyes upon; he sees a pure steady light in the lotus of his heart. The seventh means of combating distraction is by “fixing the mind on some person whose life is holy and devoid of passion.” This method is in great favor with the Jains and Buddhists. Many followers of those persuasions, keep the images of their gurus in their houses, and in ordinary parlance are said to worship them, and are consequently branded by bigots as idolaters and hero-worshippers; but to those who know rightly they do no such thing; they only contemplate the image of their guru as a means of facilitating mental concentration.
The eighth method of Patanjali is:ó
“By dwelling on knowledge that presents itself in dream or in sleep.” What is the meaning of this aphorism is not very clear. It is perhaps to be understood in the sense of suggesting an object of contemplation in our dreaming state. When we sleep, many ideas pass through our brain, and ordinary men have no command over the succession or cessation of these ideas. But a Yogi should try to regulate even his dreams and fix his mind upon any one idea which presents itself in that state. And, like a true philosopher, Patanjali, after enumerating these details, rises to a higher generalization, and says:ó
“Concentration of the mind may be effected by pondering on anything that one approves.” Different persons have different states, and no hard and fast rule can be laid down for this purpose to fit them all, Thus the Tantriks have their own ways, the Sufis their own, and the Buddhists their particular system.
IN the last chapter we dealt on the theoretical side of the question of steadying the mental function; in the present, we shall consider the practical means of bringing it about, Practically the subject consists on three divisionsó(1) tapa (reflection; as well as mortification of the flesh); (2) sevadhyaya (repeating of some sacred formulae or mantra); and (3) pranidhana (resignation or consigning unto the Lord all the fruits of oneís works, without expecting any reward, here or hereafter).
By this practice, different kinds of afflictions, such as ignorance, egotism, desire, aversion and tenacity to mundane existence, are removed. Ignorance is in fact the parent of all the rest, and when that is removed, the extinction of others is but a matter of time, and comparatively easy. We have defined them before, and we may say that they can be got rid of by meditation. Our karma owes its origin to these afflictions, which result in constant re-births. The fruits of the karma are received sometimes in this life, but generally in the next. The karma is the root, while the fruits which it produces areó(a) rank (raised or lowered such as that of angel, planetary spirit, mahatma, man, elemental, bird or beast); (b) years (duration in which the spirit is confined in body); (c) enjoyment (sensation or experience of pleasure or pain). The fruits of good karma are joyful, and of the vicious, painful. Even this suffering and enjoyment must be taken in their relative signification, for to a truly discriminating philosopher all is grief. For what ordinary men consider pleasure is but a modification of grief,ófor it is never lasting. Being but transitory, its absence causes pain. The more we enjoy the more we become miserable, for with the increment of the sources and objects of pleasure our desires and wants no increase, and the more disappointment at the non-attainment of those wants. Real wisdom does not consist in increasing our corporeal wants, which the civilization of the present age has been at pains to multiply, but in the opposite direction. The fewer our wants, the happier we shall ultimately be.
Vexation and anxiety will ever be the lot of those who hunt after pleasure and temporal happiness, instead of philosophy and quietism. Let it be clearly realised by the student of Yoga that the great secret of true happiness consists in considering all objects as sources of grief. It is through ignorance, that man thinks one thing pleasant and another painful; but let the curtain of Avidya be removed away from his mind, and he will see that all objects are equally painful or pleasant, in fact he will be indifferent to them all. Let a wise man, therefore, shun the pain which has not yet come, and the fear of future pain will hold him back from present pleasure: for he will understand that every pleasure has in it the nidus of pain. If you ask whence this evil which we see in this world? We reply that there is no such things as evil; what appears so is due to Avidya. To the philosopher who has attained right knowledge all is equal. The origin of evil lies in the relationship of the seer with the seen, soul and non-soul, spirit with nature (material), experiencer with the experienced. The idea that soul is different from nature is the cause of all evil:óIt arises from confounding the attributes with their substratum or receptacle in which they adhere. All grief vanishes when the Yogi clearly understands the grand truth that matter exists but through the spirit; that nature has no real existence of its own, but has its being through the entity, spiritóin fact matter is dependent on spirit for its existence, and not the latter on the former. Or as Patanjali has it:ó”For the sake of it (soul) alone is the entity of the visible (matter).” The soul reaches the state of kaivalyam (isolation) when it separates itself from matter and dwells in its own pure light. To such a soul, even on earth, mundane existence ceases, to have any tangible reality though to others who have not elevated themselves by this consideration the world might possess an existence, too gross to be safely ignored.
But let us not be understood from the foregoing remarks that we recommend anything like the misanthropic asceticism and inhuman self-mortification. These practices we have all along strongly denounced, and we think it our duty to enter our protest against them in this place. Let a Yogi be unselfish, but not inhuman; let him search real happiness in his soul, and not in the world; let him move through the scenes and vicissitudes of life, as a calm witness (intelligence), seeing all, feeling all, enjoying all, neither absorbed in any one, nor engrossed by them. To quote an old maxim; let him be a pearly liquid-drop on a lotus-leaf, moving on it but not adhering to it, ever keeping his soul free from all selfish anxieties and cares of the world, but taking nevertheless active and earnest interest in the welfare of humanity. Let him conquer sorrow, grief and pain by contemplating upon the following sublime words of one of the brightestóif not the brightestógem of humanity, Lord Buddha:ó
“The first truth is of sorrow. Be not mocked !
Life which ye prize is long-drawn agoing :
Only its pains abide ; its pleasures are
Like birds which light and fly.
The second truth is sorrowís cause. What grief
Springs of itself and spring not of desire ?
Senses and things perceived mingle and light
Passionís quick spark of fire.
The third is sorrowís ceasing. This is peace
To conquer love of self and lust of life,
To tear deep-rooted passion from breast,
To still the inward stife;
For love to clasp eternal beauty close ;
For glory to be Lord of self, for pleasure
To live beyond the gods ; for countless wealth.
To lay up lasting treasure.
Of perfect service rendered, duties done.
In charity, soft speech, and stainless days,
The riches shall not fade away in life,
Nor any death dispraise.
The sorrow ends for life and death have ceased,
How should lamps flicker when their oil is spent ?
The old sad count is clear, the new is clean,
Thus hath a man content.”
Arnold’s Light of Asia.
“The fourth truth is the way. It openeth wide,
Plain for all feet to tread, easy and near,
The noble eight-fold path, it goeth straight
To peace and refuge, Hear !*
*(Arnold’s Light of Asia.)
NOW we enter upon the most well known and practical part of Yoga, viz., Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, The five first belong to the Bahiranga, i.e., external Yoga, while the latter three to internal Yoga. These eight steps lead to the final goal of Kaivalyam or isolation, otherwise called emancipation, Mokhsha or Nirvana.
It consists of five parts, and is the universal duty of all. It enjoins ahinsa (not-killing), satya (truth), asteya (not-stealing), Brahmacharya (continence, and perfect chastity), aperigraha (not coveting). It is a duty incumbent on all persons whatever be their rank, nationality or country. It forms the first step of the universal code of morality. Almost all the evils of the world may be traced, directly, or indirectly, to a breach of some one of these laws. Strict observance of these rules bring with it its own reward; however, we shall mention some of the perfections which a Yogi acquires, who adheres firmly to them. When a Yogi becomes completely harmless and has no hinsa whatever, then in his presence all ferocious animals forget their ferocity, none of them dare injure him, nor cause harm to each other while under his influence. When a Yogi becomes a perfect lover of truth, and practises always veracity, he amasses a good store of karma without performing the usual sacrifices, alms, &c. When his abstinence from theft is complete, all jewels of the earth, in whatever quarter they may be hid, come to him unasked, that is, he can command wealth if he leaves off totally the desire of wealth. If he practises perfect Brahmacharya, he gains strength. And it is but reasonable that it should be so: for every act of unchastity is destructive to self and power. If his un-covetousness is complete, he regains the knowledge of all his former states of existence. That this should be so is mystery apparently. But the word covetousness should be taken in its largest sense, i.e., the soul should not covet the body, which is its tabernacle and temporary home, and thus when it becomes free from the body by discarding it, it gains the knowledge of its past lives and deaths, and of the bodies of which it had once filled. Of course virtue must be practised for its own sake without looking to any ulterior end, but in the economy of nature good acts are ever followed by good fruits. Nor must the above perfections, resulting from the practice of Yama, be regarded as fictitious and imaginary. Lives of holy Rishis and saints, hierophants and adepts of every country and age, bear ample testimony to the truth of this doctrine. A person who loves all creatures, whose soul is in sympathy with all animate creation, emits a magnetic aura of great potentiality, and every creature, however ferocious, must feel its influence. The most ferocious brute dares not lift its eyes in his presence, for the law of sympathy requires it so. Thus ahinsa made Pythagoras and Buddha tamers of the brute creation. We read in Manu:ó”He who injures no animated creature shall attain without hardship whatever he thinks of, whatever he strives for, whatever he fixes his mind on.”
Similarly, we can understand that a person who practices veracity acquires a store of good karma, though he may not perform a single yajna. Of all virtues, truth is the most divine, and one who adheres to it has no need of sacrifices and ablutions. He will never do wrong or injustice, and thus, though not performing karma, will get its fruits.
“When abstinence from theft is complete, all jewels come near him.” Let it not be thought to be an inducement for not-stealing; non-commission of theft is after all not a great virtue. But what the author means is probably this, that a Yogi should not even entertain the thought of possessing, by unlawful means, the property of another. The word steya, translated into theft, includes fraud, misrepresentation, cheating, and even adultery; for wife is said to be property of her husband.
Similarly, that the practice of Brahmacharya (chastity) should give strength is very clear. There is a class of medical men who think total abstinence from sexual intercourse is productive of as injurious results as excessive venereal or sexual indulgence. They argue that every organ must have its normal and healthy usage, while disuse must result in the atrophy of that part. From considerations like these they assert that celibacy is prejudical to longevity and Brahmacharya a violation of the creative and reproductive law of nature. There is much truth in these remarks; but do we not think that celibacy is meant by the word Brahmacharya? Though for our own part, we believe celibacy unnatural, yet we are not prepared to admit that it is injurious to longevity. We have seen perfect celibates enjoying the best health possible and attaining old age. However, we think with Manu that it is not total abstinence only which constitutes Brahmacharya, but moderation. “He who abstains from conjugal embraces on the six reprehended nights and on eight others, is equal in chastity to a Brahmachari, in whichever of the two next orders he may live.” Nor is total abstinence a sine qua non of Yoga. We can enumerate scores of Hindus, Sikhs, Mahomedans and who were married men with wives and children as Yogis. The best of them, in fact the teacher and discoverer of Yoga, the very ideal of a Yogióstands the sublime picture of Shiva. Him the students of the Indian Yoga worship as the param guruóthe great teacheróand a large class of people contemplate nothing but his attributes in their Dhyan. He, the founder and discoverer of this spiritual science, showed by his life that marriage, instead of being an obstacle in the path of spiritual enlightenment, positively facilitates the development. He is represented not only as a Yogi-raj, but the most loving of husbands and the kindest of fathers. Therefore it is but reasonable to conclude that by Brahmacharya the author Patanjali, does not mean celibacy but continence.
The fifth part of Yama is “non-coveting.” Its fruit is the knowledge of past lives. It has been already explained what is meant by aperigraha, whose English equivalent, in the absence of anything better, we have given as above. It is that state in which the soul does not desire to have anything which is not its own; and as body is no part of the soul, but is only a temporary house in which the soul resides, or rather a wonderful instrument on which the soul plays, a love therefore of body is a love of a thing which is not-soul, and therefore amounts to perigraha, or covetousness. That aperigraha produces knowledge of past existences, establishes through implication a much contested point in metaphysics, viz., that the human soul had to pass through successive stages before it becomes human. Many of us have been nurtured in the belief that the soul is created with the body, and thus though it has a beginning, it is nevertheless eternal. The position taken up by Patanjali and almost every school of Indian philosophy is that not only the soul has no end, but it has no beginning as well. It had experienced many existences before it became human. The Yogi knows his pas lives, which an ordinary man does not. But the question arisesódid our souls exist before as human, or had it any other body, e.g., of beast or brute? The principal of progress, as evidenced throughout the works of nature, proves to demonstration that human soul has become so by passing through the lower stages of existence,óstages of mineral, vegetable, and animal and that this progress is in a spiral line, and not in a circle. The theory of transmigration is reasonable only in so far as it propounds the doctrine of previous and subsequent existences, but it is grossly in error if it inculcates that man, however depraved, will ever revert to a brute of beast again. Those who quote Patanjali in support of the latter doctrine seem not to have grasped the full spirit of his philosophy. He, no doubt, believes in the previous existences of the soul, but there is no mention in his writings of this retrogression. The soul of a beast after a course of ages may become human, it can under no circumstances ever revert to beasthood. Taking it then as reasonable that man had previous existences in the shape of lower animals, the next difficulty that arises is how does one gain back the reminiscences of those long forgotten ages by simple non-coveting of his body. To understand this properly the enquirer should realize that there is no past, present, or future in eternity; nothing perhaps explains it so clearly as the phenomena of light. Suppose two persons A and B quarrel in a dark room, and A strikes down B dead. Just at the moment when B falls, a light is brought into the room, when a third person C, whom we suppose to be standing near the door of the room, will see B fall just actually at the very moment when B fell. How did he see it? Because the light, which was introduced into the room, carried with it the picture of B from the room into the eye of C standing outside. Suppose the distance from B to the eye of C to be 18 feet, the time which light will take to travel from B to C will be so very inappreciable that we may call it instantaneous. But suppose C is situated at the distance of 180,000,000 miles instead of 18 feet, now the light which will reach his eyes will do so, ten seconds after it was brought into the room, and C will see B falling ten seconds after the actual event. Again, suppose C is standing on the star named Serius, and looking towards the room in which A and B fight. Now astronomers have calculated that light takes about three years to travel from Serius to earth and vice versa. So C will see B falling some three years after the event i.e., if B was killed in 1880, C will see it in 1883. Thus what passed with us three years ago will be present to C. To take another example,ó Suppose we wish to see the Durbar of Delhi which took place in 1879, in the month of January. On our earth it is past six years. If we go to a distance of about twice that of Serius and then look towards the spot on the earth where Delhi is, we shall see the whole Durbar passing before our sight. In fact light carries for ever through space the pictures of things, and it is a calculation involving simple multiplication to find out at what distance a particular picture will be found at a particular time. The original may have perished long ago, but its picture is retained for eternity in light. Under certain circumstances the picture of the past is possible to be seen on this earth. Taking the above example of the Durbar, light travelled from the Earth to the Serius in three years, and reached that star in 1880; if this light be reflected from it by some polished surface back towards three years after 1880, that is, in 1883, so that even in this earth, if we will know the proper ray and catch it, we shall see the Durbar of Delhi six years after it actually took place. Thus by reading the pictures of the akas (ether) one can know the past. Physical science may perhaps discover some day the means of developing these pictures impressed in the akas; but spiritual science has already attained it. Psychometry is a standing proof of this. And the means for attaining this end, as proposed by Yoga, is “no-covet to the body.” Let the human soul free itself from this mortal coil this prison house of body, and in its Linga sarira (the etherial duplicate), it will be enabled as easily to read pictures impressed in ether, as in its material body it perceives phenomena.
Thus we have enumerated all the five parts of yama. They have been very aptly called the maha vratas or the great duties. These vratas must have precedence over all other vratas. Those ceremonies which we now-a-days call vratas, such as fasting on the eleventh day of the moon, giving alms to Brahmans, &c., are all inferior to them. One who does not kill the most insignificant of the living creatures of God, commits no theft, violates not the law of chastity, tells no falsehood, and covets not anything of the world, needs not perform any other vrata or ceremony. He needs not the guidance of priests, for he is a guide to himself. He may defy all the opposition of the ignorant so-called Brahmans of the age, and bravely go on in his path of duty.