Mathatitu Yogaashram

What is Raja Yoga – Part 2

Raja Yoga Mathatitu Yogaashram Varkala

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2.Niyama – It is the discipline of the body and the organs of perception or jnanedriyas.

a. Saucha – It is the first step of Niyama. Saucha means purity or cleanliness. By taking bath and proper hygiene both external and internal organs of the body are cleansed and strengthened. Yogis always purify themselves before commencing their prayers and daily activities. Mental cleaning and strengthening of the mind by regular reading, japa and cultivating spiritual mindedness. In recent times, a poor boy was suffering with a chronic nervous disorder. He went to many physicians but none had cured him. At last he decided to go for pilgrimage and one day arrived at Kashi. He stayed for a few days. Daily in the morning he used to bathe in the river Ganga and offer salutations to Sun God. Latter he enters the temple of Viswanath. This went on for few days. At last on one morning as usual he went to purify his body. When the boy stepped out of the river, he noticed that his body had been cleansed of the chronic disease. His disorder in the body was cured and his whole body sparkled with health and vigour. The boy was over-joyed to note this power of saucha.

b. Santosha – Santosha is the second step of Niyama. Santosha means satisfaction or contentment. In the story, Sudhama Krishna’s childhood friend went to see Krishna. He carried along with him some puffed rice to be given to his friend. He walked long distance and finally reached Dwaraka. He was stopped at the palace gates by gatemen who enquired about him. The gate keeper did not believe that the poor Brahmin was Krishna’s friend but reluctantly, he conveyed the message to Krishna. Krishna was overjoyed that Sudhama had come to see him. He went to the gate to greet his friend and embraced him. He took him inside the palace and served rich food to him with his own hands. Krishna noticed the cloth bundle that Sudhama had brought. “What is it”? He asked. Sudhama felt ashamed to offer the king his modest present, but Krishna grabbed it from him and eagerly opened it. “Ah puffed rice, my favourite “! Krishna began to eat a handful of this simple food. Sudhama was pleased to see that his friend was satisfied with his humble gift. The two friends talked for hours. At Krishna’s request Sudhama spent a few days at the palace. At last one day he started to go to his place and took leave from Krishna. He walked towards his house but to his surprise the small hut was missing and a large mansion was seen there. He knocked at the door of the mansion. To his surprise his wife opened the door and welcomed Sudhama. She told that Krishna arranged all this while you were away. The pious Sudhama lived the simple life with contentment. Therefore without contentment the mind will not stay in equilibrium. Constant alertness and training of the mind in maintaining the right attitude are necessary. c. Tapas- Tapas is the third step of Niyama. Tapas mean austerity or penance or strong effort. Daily practice of self-discipline refines the

c. Tapas – Tapas is the third step of Niyama. Tapas mean austerity or penance or strong effort. Daily practice of self-discipline refines the sense organs and the physical body by destroying the impurities. In a small kingdom of Devagiri, a wise king ruled. In his court was the scholar PanditMadhavan. He authored “Muktabodha” a very useful book in Sanskrit grammar and became a renowned scholar. The book fetched him a permanent place in the history of language and literature in India. But Madhavan was very poor in grammar when he was young. He used to hate grammar. One day he decided that he was not good at studies and ran away from his gurukulam. On the way he saw a village well. A woman brought the rope and pot to draw water from the well. The rope with which the women drew water was constantly rubbing against the stone-wall of the well. Groves were formed at the place where the rope rubbed against the hard log. He observed that there were circular pits formed at the place where the earthen water pots were placed. Repeated contact with pots has caused the stone to wear out. If a mere rope could cut groves into the log and earthen pot could wear the stone into pits, what can constant effort not achieve? “If I try sufficiently, repeatedly, I too can become a scholar” thought Madhavan. He returned to the gurukulam, chose grammar for his special study and in due course became the court scholar. His place in linguistic history of the land was ensured by his contribution to Sanskrit grammar. d. Swadhyaya- It is the fourth step in Niyama. Swadhyaya means self-study. It is the study of Holy Scriptures and repetition of mantras, to know one’s self. Swadhyaya starts with intellectual study and progresses through reflection

d. Swadhyaya – It is the fourth step in Niyama. Swadhyaya means self-study. It is the study of Holy Scriptures and repetition of mantras, to know one’s self. Swadhyaya starts with intellectual study and progresses through reflection andmeditation. A tale describes the swadhyaya and its glory. A pandit approached a King and saught his permission to recite the story of Bhagavatam in his court. The King gave permission to recite but at last the King told the pandit to read once again the Bhagavatam for his own sake. The pandit’s face reddened. Yet he returned home and performed the parayana of the Holy Book once more. He returned to the Royal Court only to be rebuffed by the King with the words. “You please study the Bhagavatam once again”. The sad scholar returned home to study again. This cycle repeated many times. At last the Pandit realized, “What an animal I have been. Having got the Holy Book in my hands I did not take refuge in it. I went and begged the King!” He stopped going to the court to request the King for anything. Staying at home he studied the Book and found his interest centred on it. He found the book to be a mine of spiritual wisdom. A long period elapsed and the scholar did not return to the palace. The king sent for him but he would not go. He was too deeply engrossed in the book to be diverted by kings and their courts. The King found the scholar in his hut; he touched the feet of the scholar and begged his pardon. “There is no use in studying the Bhagavatam if one does not develop a dispassionate attitude towards life and devotion to God! Without these virtues mere bookish study of the Bhagavatam and a parrot like recital of the tale are of no value. That was why I sent you away repeatedly. Now you have grasped the essence of the Bhagavatam. Kindly come to the palace and narrate the tale of the Lord’s glory to the court”.

e. IswaraPranidhana – It is the fifth step in Niyama. IswaraPranidhana means faith in God or worshiping God with devotion. One day Tansen, the musician in the court of Emperor Akbar, was singing for him. Akbar said to Tansen that there was no one equal to him in this talent. But Tansen replied that his master Swami Hari Das,was incomparable to anybody. “Why don’t you invite the master to the court?” asked the King. “No, my master does not go in search of kings. Kings go instead to seek his blessings and to listen to his music”. Tansen said. They both started to go to Vrindavan to see the master. They saluted the master; Tansen introduced the King to his master. Tansen requested his master to sing a few ragas. Master started singing and reached to the maximum heights of musical excellence that Akbar could never imagine. It was truly divine music. Akbar was in deep ecstasy. When he recovered his natural self, the emperor asked Tansen, “Tansen, how come you never managed to climb such peaks of musical excellence. What is the secret of the master’s sublimity and other worldly greatness?” Tansen was silent for a while. He replied “I sing for you, an earthly emperor, and my Master sings for the Emperor of Emperors, the Great Lord. That lends his music a superhuman flavour”.

Both Yama and Niyama bring about the necessary changes in character, of morality, discipline and constructive in nature.

3. Asanas – Asanas are the third limb of Astanga Yoga. Asana means a posture. Many legends tell that asanas originated from Lord Siva. Many asanas represent living things like tree, fish, birds and animals. There are others from natural resources like mountains, moon etc. Some are dedicated to sages or the gods. Even geometrical shapes are also taken into consideration to form asanas. The correct practice of asana should lead to a feeling of well- being. Benefits- • They make the body strong and flexible. • Help to remove impurities from the body and mind. • Improve the memory, concentration and will power.

4.Pranayama – Pranayama is the fourth limb of astanga yoga. Pranayama means breath control. There is a movement of air in and out of the nostril called inhalation and exhalation. Once there was a dispute between the eyes, ears, speech, mind and the breath as to who was the most important. They all approached Brahma and asked him, “Who is the greatest amongst us”? Brahma told each of you should leave the body for a year. The body will then decide who amongst you is the greatest. Following Brahma’s advice, first the tongue went away leaving the body without speech for a year. When it came back the eyes went away for a year leaving the body blind. When the eyes returned, the ears left the body deaf for a year. When the ears returned, the mind went away and the body remained like simpleton for a year. Then it returned. Finally it was the turn of the breath to leave the body. As soon as the breath began to depart the body lost its ability to survive. All pleaded “come back, come back, O breath”. They agreed that the breath is the greatest amongst them. Then breath returned and the body became whole again.

5. Pratyahara – Pratyahara is the fifth step of Patanjali’sastanga yoga. Pratyahara means withdraw or restrain the sense organs from the objects. One should not get distracted or disturbed by things by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or feeling of the things. The Sage Valmiki was a perfect example for pratyahara. The hunter Ratnakara changed his mind by listening to the words of Narada and left his family members and sat under a tree in a forest by repeating ma- ra, ma- ra and finally changed to Ra-ma. Many days rolled on but Ratnakara remained still and quiet in his position. The ants made a mound over him. By his mound only he has been called Valmiki. But he remained unmindful of the changes around him.

6.Dharana – Dharana is the sixth limb of astanga yoga. Dharana means keeping the mind steady and concentrated. Success in life depends on the power of concentration. In Mahabharatha, Arjuna has immensely concentrated mind, as his guru Dronacharya asked his students to target the bird on a tree, others were not even able to see the bird clearly but Arjuna could shoot at the bird’s eye. This concentration made Arjuna a great hero of the war.

7.Dhyana – Dhyana is the seventh limb of astanga yoga. Dhyana or meditation is an unbroken flow of thought towards the object of concentration. The process of meditation is often compared to pouring of oil from one vessel to another in an unbroken stream. 8. Samadhi-Samadhi is the eighth limb of astanga yoga. When dhyana ripens into a state of total absorption on God for a long time it is called Samadhi. It is a state of infinite joy and supreme peace.