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NEW VIDEO (2:00 Minutes)
YOGA IN A BOTTLE
Yoga in America, Volume 2
By Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
VIDEO is at YouTube:
The photo image in this video is from a brochure used to promote a
product totally unrelated to any form of Yoga. Yet, the advertisement
uses a tag line "Yoga in a bottle."
From the video:
Yoga means "Union."
Yoga is the union of the
individual and the Universal.
It is the union of
Atman and Brahman.
... of the soul and God.
... of Shiva and Shakti.
... of Divine Masculine and Feminine.
Yoga comes through
effort and grace.
Yoga cannot be found
"in a bottle."
Modern Yoga versus Traditional Yoga:
(for more insight about the real meaning of Yoga)
OTHER VIDEOS BY SWAMI J:
FOUR MEANS AND SIX VIRTUES
Sadhana Chatshtaya / Shatsampat
Four Means of practice (sadhana chatushtaya), which include Six
Virtues (shatsampat), are cultivated on the path of Self-Realization
by the school of Vedanta or Jnana Yoga. These allow a clear, steady
foundation for the three stages of the practices of listening to the
teachings (sravana), reflecting on those teachings (manana), and deep
contemplative meditation on those principles (niddhidhyasana).
I. DISCRIMINATION (viveka): The first of the four means is that of
discrimination. It is the gradual unfolding of the ability to explore
and discern the difference between the real and the unreal (sat and
asat), the permanent and the temporary (nitya and anitya), self and
not-self (atman and anatman). Discrimination (viveka) is also a
foundation principle of the Yoga Sutras, and is included in Sutras
2.26-2.29, 3.53-3.56, 4.22-4.26, and 4.29.The forms of
misunderstanding (avidya) mentioned here have also been described in
Yoga Sutra 2.5.
II. NON-ATTACHMENT (vairagya): As a natural byproduct of
discrimination, there is an decrease in attraction to the objects of
the world and the inner desires for those worldly fruits. It is a
process of gently reducing the coloring of attractions and aversions
in the inner field of mind. This dispassion does not mean abandoning
ones responsibilities to other people or to fulfilling of ones duties
to society at large. One who has successfully cultivated non-
attachment is actually more effective in the world, as well as more
prepared for the subtleties of seeking Truth. Non-attachment is also
a major foundation of Yoga, and is described in Yoga Sutras 1.12-
III. SIX VIRTUES (shat sampat): Six virtues, areas of mental
training, and attitudes are cultivated so as to stabilize the mind
and emotions, allowing the deep practice of contemplative meditation
to be performed.
1) TRANQUILITY (shama): Intentional cultivating an inner attitude of
tranquility, peace of mind, or contentment is a foundation on which
the other practices can rest.
2) TRAINING (dama): Training of the senses (indriyas) means the
responsible use of the senses in positive, useful directions, both in
our actions in the world and the nature of inner thoughts we
3) WITHDRAWAL (uparati): With a proper inner attitude of tranquility,
and the training of the senses, there also comes a sense of satiety,
or natural sense of completeness, as if no more of the sensory
experience need be sought.
4) FORBEARANCE (titiksha): Forbearance and tolerance of external
situations allow one to be free from the onslaught of the sensory
stimuli and pressures from others to participate in actions, speech,
or thoughts that one knows to be going in a not-useful direction.
5) FAITH (shraddha): An intense sense of certainty about the
direction one is going keeps one going in the right direction,
persisting in following the teachings and practices that have been
examined and seen to be productive, useful, and fruit bearing.
6) FOCUS (samadhana): Resolute focus towards harmonizing and
balancing of mind, its thoughts, and emotions, along with the other
virtues, brings a freedom to pursue the depth of inner exploration
IV. LONGING (mumukshutva): An intense, passionate, longing or desire
for enlightenment and liberation from the levels of suffering that
comes from the repeated cycles of suffering and delusion. It is a
longing that is so strong that it gradually swallows up all of the
other, smaller desires.
THREE STAGES OF PRACTICE: Built on an increasingly solid foundation
from these Four Means and Six Virtues, one is ever more able to
follow the three stage practices of: 1) listening to the teachings
(sravana), 2) reflecting on those teachings (manana), and 3) deep
contemplative meditation on those principles (niddhidhyasana). For
contemplative meditation, one might deeply absorb and merge with the
wisdom of the great contemplations or mahavakyas, or reflect and
meditate on the deepest meanings of the OM Mantra.
Here is a link to 41 Swami Rama videos that have shown up on YouTube:
SRI VIDYA TANTRA YOGA MEDITATION
SAUNDARYALAHARI, WAVE OF BEAUTY
The description on the first video is:
Four lectures by Swami Rama on Saundaryalahari, the Wave of Beauty,
which is a prominent text of Sri Vidya Tantra. The wave of
creativity, love and bliss of Shakti is one and the same with Shiva.
The lectures contain practical advice on advanced meditation
practices of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra. The four lectures are divided
into a total of 41 parts for the YouTube presentation.
Lecture 1 has 8 parts
Lecture 2 has 10 parts
Lecture 3 has 13 parts
Lecture 4 has 10 parts
Swami Chidananda Saraswati left the body Thursday evening, August 28,
2008. He has been the head of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, India
founded by Swami Sivananda. Swami Chidananda was with Swami Sivananda
and the ashram since 1943, and is a most highly regarded leader in his
VIDEO (30 Seconds)
YOGA HAS BEEN MISUSED
VIDEO is at YouTube:
Swami Rama explains that the word Yoga has been unfortunately misused.
So people think Yoga means physical exercise for remaining young. It's
the science that deals with body, breath, mind and soul, and ultimately
to the Universal Self.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And if not now, when?
(30 BC - 9 AD)
ABOUT THE SWAMIJ.COM SITE
Welcome to SwamiJ.com,
People of religion often speak of their founder or special person as
himself being, being the representative of, or having experienced
that which is described as indescribable, ineffable, transcendent or
immanent, often thinking of their person as either the only one, or
the final one in the history of humanity with such experience.
The path of Yoga is not one of mere belief, but rather is a
systematic way for each person to realize in direct experience his or
her own unity with that infinite essence which is spoken of with so
many names. The word "Yoga" means "union," which is the union of the
individual self or soul with the nondual, absolute reality.
It is with great compassion for the few who share this authentic goal
of traditional Yoga that I have created, and continue to revise and
expand this website. I say "compassion" because I know that you are
most likely in a minority amongst your family, friends, coworkers and
community. You are most likely in a minority within the church or
other religious group in which you were raised. You are most likely
in a minority amongst even people who claim to be practicing Yoga in
our modern world. To move forward, seeking the highest Truth or
Reality in the face of such opposition is worthy of compassion and
support. It is my sincere wish that this website serves you in this
This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realiation path
of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable
and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The
practices include Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, contemplation
of Advaita Vedanta, and purely internal kundalini-shakti practices of
Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra. These teachings of the sages of the
Himalayas systematically lead one to the highest Realization of the
center of consciousness.
Most of the articles on this site came as a result of questions from
people asking me for simple, straightforward, practical explanations
about principles and practices of meditation. When the site was
originally quite "empty" of articles, some question would come, and
this would lead to writing an article or creating a graphic image to
try to clarify that point.
While simple explanations seem to sometimes grow into something more
complicated, it is hoped that the articles here are presented in easy
to understand language. This is said with a smile, as I truly find it
humorous that such simple principles take so very many words, and
that we end up with the appearance of complexity. All we can do is
cry, get frustrated, or laugh, and the laughter seems to be the more
You will notice a common pattern among many of the articles, and that
is to describe the universal inner process, which is systematic in
nature. From outer to inner, through the levels and layers of our
being, attention moves to the subtler and subtler aspects, finally
leading the seeker to the pure, eternal center of consciousness, by
whatever name you choose to call that center. Many of the articles
describe this same process using different language and metaphors,
with each adding a slightly different perspective that might make
that underlying process more clear.
It is my sincere belief and experience that these principles and
practices are universal, non-religious and non-sectarian. Admittedly,
not all people agree with this. However, this is the stance from
which I share, and say unequivocally that these principles and
practices are applicable and useful to all people. This is not to say
that all cultures and religions are one and the same. If anyone does
want to convert to some other religion, they will have to go
elsewhere. Not only do I not do this, I do not even know how to do
this, as I do not know the conversion rituals, rites or vows of any
of the religions.
I do not claim ownership over any of the principles or practices
described here, although the wording itself falls under the domain of
copyright laws*. There is no intent or desire whatsoever to profess
or proffer any Swami Jnaneshvara system of Yoga. We already have far
too much of that in our modern world. These ancient teachings are
universal and available to the whole of humanity. It is only by the
gift of my teacher and tradition that direct experience has been
there sufficiently that I was instructed to share with others. It is
from that, that these principles and practices are shared.
The relationship between student and teacher is a very personal one
that is best done in face-to-face contact. I hope you glean much
personally useful information from the articles on this website, but
they are not meant to replace such personal contact. I wish for you
to find the teacher who is just right for you. However, there is no
intent here to establish student-teacher relationships via internet.
Some others may do that, but I do not personally find this to be
realistic. Simple questions of a general informational nature can be
responded to by email, but I refrain from giving direct personal
instructions through the medium of internet. Ultimately, the goal of
even the external teacher is to lead the student to find the teacher
within. May you find that teacher.
The articles on the site are continuously being expanded and edited
for ever increasing clarity. If you print out any of the articles or
save them into your computer, please do remember to revisit from time
to time to check for revisions.
Above all, it is hoped that one thing is abundantly clear in these
articles, and that is that the keys to direct experience of your own
center of consciousness, by whatever name you choose to call that,
are to practice, practice, practice. Please enjoy your visit to
SwamiJ.com, and come back often.
In loving service,
Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
NEW VIDEO (2:14 Minutes)
SAM SKARA (Episode 2/2):
FIVE KLESHAS OF YOGA SUTRAS MEDITATION
By Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
VIDEO is at YouTube:
(HUMOR) Sam Skara, Private Investigator, is the terminator of bad
Karma through Yoga Meditation. In this saga (Episode 2), Sam Skara
tracks down the gang of desparatos knowns as "The Five Kleshas"
or "The Five Colorings." In so doing, he is operating under the
Authority of Yoga Sutras 1.5 and 2.3.
These five are:
1) Iggy Norance (AKA: Avidya, Ignorance)
2) Sal Fishness (AKA: Asmita, I-am-ness)
3) A. Dick Tyon (AKA: Raga, Attraction)
4) A. Version (AKA: Dvesha, Aversion)
5) Despara T. Clinging (AKA: Fear)
If you missed Episode 1/2 of Sam Skara, it is here:
(Extensive article on samskaras and karma)
THE NEED FOR FAITH
Swami Chidananda Saraswati
Divine Life Society
The differences in views and opinions in matters like politics and
economics are understandable. But it is surprising that such
differences of opinion and approach exist in the spiritual field
also, even though the seekers have one common end as their aim, viz.,
the realisation of the Supreme Being. What could these differences be
due to? One reason advanced is that different facets of the Ultimate
Truth are presented to different seekers. Suppose a pillar is made of
gold and silver—gold on one side and silver on the other. Viewed from
one side the pillar appears to be nothing but silver, and viewed from
the other, it appears to be only gold. The second explanation given
is that different people have got different capacities of grasping or
understanding. Each one is able to grasp according to his capacity.
So there are differences in the method of approach, like absolute
monism, qualified monism, etc., to suit different men of different
capacities. Therefore, there are no inconsistencies in the scriptures
and they deserve our faith in them. Even with a grain or a mustard of
faith you can do what is seemingly impossible.
Where is the need for faith? Cannot man use his intellect and know
things? No, because of the limitations of the mental process
(Antahkarana). Great people both in the East and the West, after
having experienced the Highest, have stressed the need for faith, and
they could not have made a mis-statement, for they had no purpose to
do so. In all our experiences of external objects, there is the
person who experiences, the process of experience and object
experienced. Without these triune factors one cannot live. Every
moment of one's life they are present. These triple factors have to
be annihilated for attaining the Supreme Experience. Triputi Laya has
to be achieved. And then Consciousness alone remains. The Supreme
Experience alone is present.
The nature of the Supreme is existence. This can be illustrated by an
example. You go to a jungle and see a tree there. The tree is.
Suppose a wood-cutter cuts the tree; it is then called `log'. Though
the tree has changed its form and name, its existence has not
disappeared. It exists in the name and form of the log. If the log is
then made into planks of wood, then the log is not there, but the
planks of wood are, or each plank of wood is, there. The existence
aspect continues. Suppose these planks are converted into tables or
chairs; then the planks are not there, but still the tables and
chairs are there. If after some years the tables and chairs become
useless and are reduced to pieces of wood, then the tables and chairs
are not there. If these pieces of wood are burnt, then the ashes
remain. The wood now exists as the ashes. And if the ashes are also
annihilated, according to the scientists, they still remain as atoms.
Thus existence continues. The ultimate Truth is Existence, Eternity.
But, we are not able to experience the Truth with our senses and the
mind, for they are limited in their scope. One sees an object at
night as long as there is light. But if the light is put off, in
spite of his having his eyes opened he cannot see anything. So, the
eyes depend on an external object for seeing, viz., the light. But
suppose there is too much light, the eyes cannot see. The eyes will
be dazzled or even perpetually blinded by excessive light, as for
instance, of an arc-light. Again if a curtain hides an object, the
eyes cannot perceive it. If a crystal-clear glass tumbler is filled
with pure water, from a distance it cannot be said whether it
contains water or not. If you are affected with cold, you cannot
smell an object. You cannot hear a very low sound, and a powerful
sound may deafen your ears. When you are absorbed in some thought,
you cannot hear the external noises. However delicious it may be, a
third or fourth cup of milk ceases to be delicious. If the milk was
really delicious it must have been delicious always. Then, how is it
that a fourth cup of milk is not delicious, and a fifth cup causes
vomiting? So, our senses are limited in their scope. We cannot have
uniformity of experience through the senses. You cannot remember what
all dishes you took yesterday. You cannot remember the past nor can
you foretell the future. However intellectual one may be, when
something goes wrong with his brain, he has to consult a psychiatrist
or go to an asylum. One dose of opium is sufficient to make him lose
his consciousness. Such are the limitations of intellect and senses.
Further, jealousy, anger, prejudice, depression—all these cloud man's
vision. If a man is cheerful, everything is beautiful to him.
Otherwise, everything is ugly to him. If a man is filled with hatred,
everybody becomes an evemy to him. If his mind is filled with love,
everybody becomes his friend. Thus knowledge derived through the mind
can never be dependable.
Our great masterminds have tried to show that anything that we try to
perceive is only appearance of a thing, and not the essence of a
thing. Take for instance, a piece of cloth. You say it is a piece of
cloth. Suppose you remove its warp and woof. You remove all the
threads. Then you get a heap of threads. It is no more the cloth that
it was formerly. It is now called a heap of threads. Again it can be
reduced to cotton, and cotton again to atoms. So in reality we are
wearing only atoms!
Then, are the senses and intellect not useful at all? They are
useful, of course but to a certain extent. Up to a certain stage
intellect is useful, but when that stage is reached, the intellect is
no longer useful. It is an obstacle thereafter. It should be
dispensed with. Even in Vedanta, which is mainly a process of
constant enquiry and analysis, the intellect has to be avoided when
one reaches the point of meditation, of drawing the mind inward.
Master-minds knew that mind was not the essential part of man and so
they gave a kick to the mind and intellect and boldly took a leap
into the Unknown. They had direct experience of the Truth and enjoyed
the Supreme Bliss which they wanted to share with others. So they
said, "Come ye, O seekers, we will show you the way to eternal
beatitude, where there is perennial bliss and lasting peace." So to
believe in their words is not blind faith.
Faith is Spirit responding to the Spirit. The ultimate essence in man
responds to the Infinite. Faith does not spring from the mind and
senses. Faith is the nature of the innermost Being of man. Faith is a
power. It is a great primal power which elevates man and lifts him to
the transcendental experience.
The giant intellect, Sri Sankara, himself has laid down `Sraddha'
(faith) as one of the six-fold virtues in Sadhana-chatushtaya which
consist of Viveka (discrimination), Vairagya (dispassion), Shadsampat
(Sama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Sraddha and Samadhana) and
Mumukshutva (intense longing for Liberation). If everything could be
understood by analysis and enquiry, then why did he
stipulate `Sraddha'? Without faith, an aspirant cannot practise even
Sravana (hearing). If he has no faith in the teacher, if he doubts
that what his teacher says may be incorrect, how can he learn
anything at all. Even in our daily life, faith is indispensable.
Somebody cooks food and we take that food. We do not doubt, that the
cook might have put some poison in the food. We go to a doctor for
medicine and take the medicine that he gives, without doubting that
what he gives might be poison. In the spiritual realms also, the same
is the case. There have been sages who have plumbed the depth of
Truth and given out their experiences. We repose faith in the words
of persons who say that they have visited the moon. Similarly it is
reasonable to repose faith in the words of those who have seen the
Truth because they say: "We have experienced the Truth, so you can
also experience the Truth, provided you do what we have done in order
to experience the Truth. Experiment for yourself and then see whether
you attain the same result or not." The sages give us assurance that
we can also experience the Highest Truth by following the proper self-
Saint Tulasidas says that faith is like the hand-maid of a queen. If
anyone wants to see the queen, he cannot be led by the servants of
the palace to the innermost chamber in which the queen is. Only till
the gateway to the innermost chamber others can lead a visitor.
Thereafter, one of the hand-maids of the queen alone can take the
visitor to the queen. All our reasoning, theoretical knowledge, etc.,
will take us only upto a certain stage. Beyond that they cannot help
us, but only faith can help us in attaining the Supreme Experience.
Faith is necessary for all aspirants, be they Raja Yogins, Bhakti
Yogins or Jnana Yogins. May God bless you all with supreme faith to
experience the Bliss!
* * *
Towards the world, let our motive be one of goodness, friendliness
and selflessness. Let us live for the good and peace and happiness of
others, even of those who deceive us and inflict injury upon us. Mind
not dear Sadhaka! For this is not your lasting abode. You are a quick
passenger to your eternally shining original abode. So, on your way,
while you are here for a short while, try to bring about a little
happiness to others, try to lessen the discomfort, fear and anxiety
of your neighbours, try to wipe out tears from others' eyes. Try to
remove as far as you can the gloom, despair and sorrow of your fellow-
This should be the attitude for your Bahiranga Jivan (external life,
NEW VIDEO (3:56 Minutes)
THE "SEER" BEYOND THE MIND:
MEDITATION FROM THE YOGA SUTRAS
By Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
VIDEO is at YouTube:
Sanskrit drasthri is the "seer"
Who am I?
What am I?
Set aside what I am not...
What I truly am will come shining through.
Yogash chitta vrittih nirodhah (Yoga Sutra 1.2)
Yoga is "nirodha" of the thoughts in the mind field.
Nirodha is coordination, control, regulation, integration, mastery,
letting go, setting aside...
Tada drashtuh svarupe'vasthanam (Yoga Sutra 1.3)
Then the "seer" rests in its own true nature.
The "seer" is the "witness."
The "seer" is awareness itself.
"Drashtuh" is "of the seer."
Drashtuh is from "drish" which is "to see."
The "seer" is the self-existent reality of pure consciousness itself.
It was never born and never dies.
It is not subject to pain, decay, or decomposition.
The "seer" lives in the world.
Music is by Chopin
Nocturne in C# minor
Discussion on Yoga Sutras 1.2-1.3:
Extensive writings on the whole of Yoga Sutras:
It is with sincere heart that I write articles and have created short
videos to explain complex principles in simple language. Below is a
comment I received from a person I do not know. I share this with you
in the hopes that it will help a few to watch these videos closely and
benefit from them.
FEEDBACK RECEIVED ON TWO VIDEOS:
Thank you for the videos you've assembled. Years ago I turned away
from formal study of Indian Philosophy. The many long and strange
words seemed a wall too high to scale for me. But there was something
in the word 'samskara.' It seemed to contain more meaning than I could
penetrate and had nothing comparable in English. When I came across
your videos (Meditation Visualized, and, Mandukya Upanishad) I watched
again and again with my mouth just hanging open in astonishment. These
video explanations are of highest value, truly a treasure. I've read
so many, many volumes. To think that I could have gained what I have
by watching two, ten minute videos beggars the mind. In fact, if I
wanted to sit down with Guru and plan out my whole life in advance, I
could not have picked a more auspicious moment to have placed these
two videos in my path.
THE TWO VIDEOS:
Yoga Meditation Visualized
Om Mantra and Mandukya Upanishad:
Yoga Vedanta Meditation
More videos by Swami Jnaneshvara
126 videos by Swami Rama on:
Yoga Sutras (13 hours)
Sri Vidya Tantra - Saundaryalahari (6 hours)
(This is a separate, external site)
TELLING A LONG JOKE
By Swami Rama
Once I was speaking to a large crowd in Hamburg, Germany and I told a
long joke. I had a very good interpreter. It took me a few minutes to
tell the joke, but the interpreter translated in a few seconds and
everyone nearly fell off their chairs laughing. I thought, 'I have
wasted time in learning English, Sanskrit, and other languages. I am
going to learn German.' When the lecture was over I asked her, "Tell
me. How did you translate such a big joke in a few seconds time?" She
said, "I told them, 'The speaker is giving a long joke. Please
One should maintain that humor. Laugh with your children and your
partner. During laughter you remain very happy.
Samadhi: The Highest State of Wisdom
Volume One of Yoga the Sacred Science
(Lectures on the Yoga Sutras)
By Swami Rama
In your meditation today....
May your body be still and comfortable....
May your head, neck and trunk be aligned....
May your breath be smooth, slow, serene, and with no pauses....
May the flow of thoughts in your mind not disturb you....
May your meditation today bring you peace, happiness and bliss....
In loving service,
A SHORT HISTORY OF YOGA
Reprinted with permission from:
HISTORY FOR YOGINS AND YOGINIS
In Yoga, theory and practice, as well as left brain and right brain,
go hand in hand so to speak. Study (svâdhyâya) is in fact an important
aspect of many branches and schools of Yoga. This is another way in
which Yoga's balanced approach shows itself.
If you want to know where something is going, it is good to know where
it came from. "To be ignorant of what happened before one was born,"
said Cicero pointedly in his Orator, "is to remain ever a child."
History provides context and meaning, and Yoga is no exception to this
rule. If you are fond of history, you'll enjoy what follows. Many of
the facts and ideas presented here have not yet found their way into
the textbooks or even into most Yoga books. We put you in touch with
the leading edge of knowledge in this area. If you are not a history
buff, well, perhaps we can tempt you to suspend your preferences for a
few minutes and read on anyway.
THE ORIGIN OF YOGA
Despite more than a century of research, we still don't know much
about the earliest beginnings of Yoga. We do know, though, that it
originated in India 5,000 or more years ago. Until recently, many
Western scholars thought that Yoga originated much later, maybe around
500 B.C., which is the time of Gautama the Buddha, the illustrious
founder of Buddhism. But then, in the early 1920s, archeologists
surprised the world with the discovery of the so-called Indus
civilization—a culture that we now know extended over an area of
roughly 300,000 square miles (the size of Texas and Ohio combined).
This was in fact the largest civilization in early antiquity. In the
ruins of the big cities of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa, excavators found
depictions engraved on soapstone seals that strongly resemble
yogi-like figures. Many other finds show the amazing continuity
between that civilization and later Hindu society and culture.
There was nothing primitive about what is now called the
Indus-Sarasvati civilization, which is named after two great rivers
that once flowed in Northern India; today only the Indus River flows
through Pakistan. That civilization's urbane population enjoyed
multistory buildings, a sewage system unparalleled in the ancient
world until the Roman empire, a huge public bath whose walls were
water-proofed with bitumen, geometrically laid out brick roads, and
standardized baked bricks for convenient construction. (We are so used
to these technological achievements that we sometimes forget they had
to be invented.) The Indus-Sarasvati people were a great maritime
nation that exported a large variety of goods to Mesopotamia and other
parts of the Middle East and Africa. Although only a few pieces of art
have survived, some of them show exquisite craftsmanship.
For a long time, scholars thought that this magnificent civilization
was abruptly destroyed by invaders from the northwest who called
themselves Aryans (ârya meaning "noble" in the Sanskrit language).
Some proposed that these warlike nomads invented Yoga, others credited
the Indus people with its creation. Yet others took Yoga to be the
joint creation of both races.
Nowadays researchers increasingly favor a completely different picture
of ancient Indian history. They are coming to the conclusion that
there never was an Aryan invasion and that the decline of the
Indus-Sarasvati cities was due to dramatic changes in climate. These
in turn appear to have been caused by a major tectonic catastrophe
changing the course of rivers. In particular, it led to the drying up
of what was once India's largest river, the Sarasvati, along whose
banks flourished numerous towns and villages (some 2500 sites have
been identified thus far). Today the dry river bed runs through the
vast Thar Desert. If it were not for satellite photography, we would
not have learned about those many settlements buried under the sand.
The drying up of the Sarasvati River, which was complete by around
1900 B.C., had far-reaching consequences. Just imagine the waters of
the Mississippi running dry instead of flooding constantly. What havoc
this would cause! The death of the Sarasvati River forced the
population to migrate to more fertile parts of the country, especially
east toward the Ganges (Ganga) River and south into Central India and
Why is this important for the history of Yoga, you might ask? The
Sarasvati River happens to be the most celebrated river in the
Rig-Veda, which is the oldest known text in any Indo-European
language. It is composed in an archaic (and difficult) form of
Sanskrit and was transmitted by word of mouth for numerous
generations. Sanskrit is the language in which most Yoga scriptures
are written. It is related to languages like Greek, Latin, French,
German, Spanish, and not least English. You can see this family
relationship on the example of the word yoga itself, which corresponds
to zugos, iugum, joug, Joch, yugo, and yoke in these languages.
Sanskrit is like an older brother to the other Indo-European languages.
Now, if the Sarasvati River dried up around or before 1900 B.C., the
Rig-Veda must be earlier than that benchmark date. If that is so, then
the composers of this collection of hymns must have been
contemporaneous with the people of the Indus civilization, which
flourished between circa 3000-1900 B.C. Indeed, astronomical
references in the Rig-Veda suggest that at least some of its 1,028
hymns were composed in the third or even fourth millennium B.C.
Thus, the Sanskrit-speaking Aryans, who created the Rig-Veda, did not
come from outside India to destroy the Indus-Sarasvati civilization.
They had been there all along. What, then, was their relationship with
the Indus-Sarasvati people? Here opinions still differ, but there is a
growing understanding that the Aryans and the Indus-Sarasvati people
were one and the same. There is nothing in the Rig-Veda to suggest
In fact, the Rig-Veda and the other archaic Sanskrit texts appear to
be the "missing" literature of the Indus civilization. Conversely, the
archeological artifacts of the Indus valley and adjoining areas give
us the "missing" material base of the early Sanskrit literature—an
elegant solution to a problem that has long vexed researchers.
YOGA AND THE INDUS-SARASVATI CIVILIZATION
This means that Yoga is the product of a mature civilization that was
unparalleled in the ancient world. Think of it! As a Yoga practitioner
you are part of an ancient and honorable stream of tradition, which
makes you a descendant of that civilization at least at the level of
the heart. Many of the inventions credited to Sumer rightfully belong
to what is now known as the Indus-Sarasvati civilization, which
evolved out of a cultural tradition that has reliably been dated back
to the seventh millennium B.C. In turn it gave rise to the great
religious and cultural tradition of Hinduism, but indirectly also to
Buddhism and Jainism.
India's civilization can claim to be the oldest enduring civilization
in the world. Its present-day problems should not blind us to its
glorious past and the lessons we can learn from it. Yoga practitioners
in particular can benefit from India's protracted experimentation with
life, especially its explorations of the mysteries of the mind. The
Indian civilization has produced great philosophical and spiritual
geniuses who between them have covered every conceivable answer to the
big questions, which are as relevant today as they were thousands of
THE BIG QUESTIONS
Traditional Yoga seeks to provide plausible answers to such profound
questions as, "Who am I?", "Whence do I come?", "Whither do I go?,"
and "What must I do?" These are the sorts of questions that, sooner or
later, we all end up asking ourselves. Or at least, we have our own
implicit answers to them, though may not get round to consciously
formulating them. Deep down, we all are philosophers, because we all
need to make sense of our life. Some of us postpone thinking about
these questions, but they don't ever go away. We quickly learn this
when we lose a loved one or face a serious health crisis.
So, we might as well ponder these questions while we are in good
shape. And don't think you have to feel morose to do so. Yoga doesn't
champion dark moods, but it is definitely in favor of awareness in all
its forms, including self-awareness. If we know the stuff we are made
of, we can function a lot better in the world. At the very least, our
self-knowledge will give us the opportunity to make conscious and
THE HISTORY OF YOGA
I can provide here only the merest thumbnail sketch and, if you wish
to inform yourself more about the long history of Yoga, recommend that
you study my book The Yoga Tradition. This is the most comprehensive
historical overview available anywhere. But be prepared for
challenging reading and a fairly large tome.
The history of Yoga can conveniently be divided into the following
four broad categories:
These categories are like static snapshots of something that is in
actuality in continuous motion—the "march of history."
Now we are entering somewhat more technical territory, and I will have
to use and explain a number of Sanskrit terms.
The yogic teachings found in the above-mentioned Rig-Veda and the
other three ancient hymnodies are known as Vedic Yoga. The Sanskrit
word veda means "knowledge," while the Sanskrit term rig (from ric)
means "praise." Thus the sacred Rig-Veda is the collection of hymns
that are in praise of a higher power. This collection is in fact the
fountainhead of Hinduism, which has around one billion adherents
today. You could say that the Rig-Veda is to Hinduism what the Book of
Genesis is to Christianity.
The other three Vedic hymnodies are the Yajur-Veda ("Knowledge of
Sacrifice"), Sama-Veda ("Knowledge of Chants"), and Atharva-Veda
("Knowledge of Atharvan"). The first collection contains the
sacrificial formulas used by the Vedic priests. The second text
contains the chants accompanying the sacrifices. The third hymnody is
filled with magical incantations for all occasions but also includes a
number of very powerful philosophical hymns. It is connected with
Atharvan, a famous fire priest who is remembered as having been a
master of magical rituals. These hymnodies can be compared to the
various books of the Old Testament.
It is clear from what has been said thus far that Vedic Yoga—which
could also be called Archaic Yoga—was intimately connected with the
ritual life of the ancient Indians. It revolved around the idea of
sacrifice as a means of joining the material world with the invisible
world of the spirit. In order to perform the exacting rituals
successfully, the sacrificers had to be able to focus their mind for a
prolonged period of time. Such inner focusing for the sake of
transcending the limitations of the ordinary mind is the root of Yoga.
When successful, the Vedic yogi was graced with a "vision" or
experience of the transcendental reality. A great master of Vedic Yoga
was called a "seer"—in Sanskrit rishi. The Vedic seers were able to
see the very fabric of existence, and their hymns speak of their
marvelous intuitions, which can still inspire us today.
This category covers an extensive period of approximately 2,000 years
until the second century A.D. Preclassical Yoga comes in various forms
and guises. The earliest manifestations were still closely associated
with the Vedic sacrificial culture, as developed in the Brâhmanas and
Âranyakas. The Brâhmanas are Sanskrit texts explaining the Vedic hymns
and the rituals behind them. The Âranyakas are ritual texts specific
to those who chose to live in seclusion in a forest hermitage.
Yoga came into its own with the Upanishads, which are gnostic texts
expounding the hidden teaching about the ultimate unity of all things.
There are over 200 of these scriptures, though only a handful of them
were composed in the period prior to Gautama the Buddha (fifth century
B.C.). These works can be likened to the New Testament, which rests on
the Old Testament but at the same time goes beyond it.
One of the most remarkable Yoga scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gîtâ
("Lord's Song"), of which the great social reformer Mahatma Gandhi
spoke as follows:
When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one
ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad-Gita. I find a verse here and
a verse there and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of
overwhelming tragedies—and my life has been full of external
tragedies—and if they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I
owe it all to the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita. (Young India, 1925,
In its significance, this work of only 700 verses perhaps is to Hindus
what Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is to Christians. Its message,
however, is not to turn the other cheek but to actively oppose evil in
the world. In its present form, the Bhagavad-Gîtâ (Gîtâ for short) was
composed around 500 B.C. and since then has been a daily inspiration
to millions of Hindus. Its central teaching is to the point: To be
alive means to be active and, if we want to avoid difficulties for
ourselves and others, our actions must be benign and also go beyond
the grip of the ego. A simple matter, really, but how difficult to
accomplish in daily life!
Preclassical Yoga also comprises the many schools whose teachings can
be found in India's two great national epics, the Râmâyana and the
Mahâbhârata (in which the Bhagavad-Gîtâ is embedded and which is seven
times the size of the Iliad and Odyssey combined). These various
preclassical schools developed all kinds of techniques for achieving
deep meditation through which yogis and yoginis can transcend the body
and mind and discover their true nature.
This label applies to the eightfold Yoga—also known as
Râja-Yoga—taught by Patanjali in his Yoga-Sűtra. This Sanskrit text is
composed of just under 200 aphoristic statements, which have been
commented on over and over again through the centuries. Sooner or
later all serious Yoga students discover this work and have to grapple
with its terse statements. The word sűtra (which is related to Latin
suture) means literally "thread." Here it conveys a thread of memory,
an aid to memorization for students eager to retain Patanjali's
knowledge and wisdom.
The Yoga-Sűtra was probably written some time in the second century
A.D. The earliest available Sanskrit commentary on it is the
Yoga-Bhâshya ("Speech on Yoga") attributed to Vyâsa. It was authored
in the fifth century A.D. and furnishes fundamental explanations of
Patanjali's often cryptic statements.
Beyond a few legends nothing is known about either Patanjali or Vyâsa.
This is a problem with most ancient Yoga adepts and even with many
more recent ones. Often all we have are their teachings, but this is
of course more important than any historical information we could dig
up about their personal lives.
Patanjali, who is by the way often wrongly called the "father of
Yoga," believed that each individual is a composite of matter
(prakriti) and spirit (purusha). He understood the process of Yoga to
bring about their separation, thereby restoring the spirit in its
absolute purity. His formulation is generally characterized as
philosophical dualism. This is an important point, because most of
India's philosophical systems favor one or the other kind of
nondualism: The countless aspects or forms of the empirical world are
in the last analysis the same "thing"—pure formless but conscious
This is again a very comprehensive category, which refers to all those
many types and schools of Yoga that have sprung up in the period after
Patanjali's Yoga-Sűtra and that are independent of this seminal work.
In contrast to classical Yoga, postclassical Yoga affirms the ultimate
unity of everything. This is the core teaching of Vedânta, the
philosophical system based on the teachings of the Upanishads.
In a way, the dualism of classical Yoga can be seen as a brief but
powerful interlude in a stream of nondualist teachings going back to
ancient Vedic times. According to these teachings, you, we, and
everyone or everything else is an aspect or expression of one and the
same reality. In Sanskrit that singular reality is called brahman
(meaning "that which has grown expansive") or âtman (the
transcendental Self as opposed to the limited ego-self).
A few centuries after Patanjali, the evolution of Yoga took an
interesting turn. Now some great adepts were beginning to probe the
hidden potential of the body. Previous generations of yogis and
yoginis had paid no particular attention to the body. They had been
more interested in contemplation to the point where they could exit
the body consciously. Their goal had been to leave the world behind
and merge with the formless reality, the spirit.
Under the influence of alchemy—the spiritual forerunner of
chemistry—the new breed of Yoga masters created a system of practices
designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong its life. They regarded
the body as a temple of the immortal spirit, not merely as a container
to be discarded at the first opportunity. They even explored through
advanced yogic techniques the possibility of energizing the physical
body to such a degree that its biochemistry is changed and even its
basic matter is reorganized to render it immortal.
This preoccupation of theirs led to the creation of Hatha-Yoga, an
amateur version of which is today widely practiced throughout the
world. It also led to the various branches and schools of Tantra-Yoga,
of which Hatha-Yoga is just one approach.
The history of modern Yoga is widely thought to begin with the
Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. It was at that
congress that the young Swami Vivekananda—swami (svâmin) means
"master"—made a big and lasting impression on the American public. At
the behest of his teacher, the saintly Ramakrishna, he had found his
way to the States where he didn't know a soul. Thanks to some
well-wishers who recognized the inner greatness of this adept of
Jnâna-Yoga (the Yoga of discernment), he was invited to the Parliament
and ended up being its most popular diplomat. In the following years,
he traveled widely attracting many students to Yoga and Vedânta. His
various books on Yoga are still useful and enjoyable to read.
Before Swami Vivekananda a few other Yoga masters had crossed the
ocean to visit Europe, but their influence had remained local and
ephemeral. Vivekananda's immense success opened a sluice gate for
other adepts from India, and the stream of Eastern gurus has not ceased.
After Swami Vivekananda, the most popular teacher in the early years
of the Western Yoga movement was Paramahansa Yogananda, who arrived in
Boston in 1920. Five years later, he established the Self-Realizaton
Fellowship, which still has its headquarters in Los Angeles. Although
he left his body (as yogins call it) in 1952 at the age of fifty-nine,
he continues to have a worldwide following. His Autobiography of a
Yogi makes for fascinating reading, but be prepared to suspend any
materialistic bias you may have! As with some other yogis and
Christian or Muslim saints, after his death Yogananda's body showed no
signs of decay for a full twenty days.
Of more limited appeal was Swami Rama Tirtha, a former mathematics
teacher who preferred spiritual life to academia and who came to the
United States in 1902 and founded a retreat center on Mount Shasta in
California. He stayed for only two years and drowned in the Ganges
(Ganga) River in 1906 at the young age of thirty-three. Some of his
inspirational talks were gathered into the five volumes of In Woods of
God-Realization, which are still worth dipping into.
In 1919, Yogendra Mastamani arrived in Long Island and for nearly
three years demonstrated to astounded Americans the power and elegance
of Hatha Yoga. Before returning to India, he founded the American
branch of Kaivalyadhama, an Indian organization created by the late
Swami Kuvalayananda, which has contributed greatly to the scientific
study of Yoga.
A very popular figure for several decades after the 1920s was
Ramacharaka, whose books can still be found in used bookstores. What
few readers know, however, is that this Ramacharaka was apparently not
an actual person. The name was the pseudonym of two people—William
Walker Atkinson, who had left his law practice in Chicago to practice
Yoga, and his teacher Baba Bharata.
Paul Brunton, a former journalist and editor, burst on the scene of
Yoga in 1934 with his book A Search in Secret India, which introduced
the great sage Ramana Maharshi to Western seekers. Many more works
flowed from his pen over the following eighteen years, until the
publication of The Spiritual Crisis of Man. Then, in the 1980s, his
notebooks were published posthumously in sixteen volumes—a
treasure-trove for serious Yoga students.
Since the early 1930s until his death in 1986, Jiddu Krishnamurti
delighted or perplexed thousands of philosophically minded Westerners
with his eloquent talks. He had been groomed by the Theosophical
Society as the coming world leader but had rejected this mission,
which surely is too big and burdensome for any one person, however
great. He demonstrated the wisdom of Jnana-Yoga (the Yoga of
discernment), and drew large crowds of listeners and readers. Among
his close circle of friends were the likes of Aldous Huxley,
Christopher Isherwood, Charles Chaplin, and Greta Garbo. Bernard Shaw
described Krishnamurti as the most beautiful human being he ever saw.
Yoga, in the form of Hatha-Yoga, entered mainstream America when the
Russian-born yoginî Indra Devi, who has been called the "First Lady of
Yoga," opened her Yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947. She taught stars
like Gloria Swanson, Jennifer Jones, and Robert Ryan, and trained
hundreds of teachers. Now in her nineties and living in Buenos Aires,
she is still an influential voice for Yoga.
In the 1950s, one of the most prominent Yoga teacher was Selvarajan
Yesudian whose book Sport and Yoga has been translated into fourteen
or so languages, with more than 500,000 copies sold. Today, as we
mentioned before, many athletes have adopted yogic exercises into
their training program because . . . it works. Among them are the
Chicago Bulls. Just picture these champion basket ball players
stretching out on extra-long Yoga mats under the watchful eye of Yoga
teacher Paula Kout! In the early 1950s, Shri Yogendra of the Yoga
Institute of Santa Cruz in India, visited the United States. He
pioneered medical research on Yoga as early as 1918, and his son
Jayadev Yogendra is continuing his valuable work, which demonstrates
the efficacy of Yoga as a therapeutic tool.
In 1961, Richard Hittleman brought Hatha-Yoga to American television,
and his book The Twenty-Eight-Day Yoga Plan sold millions of copies.
In the mid-1960s, the Western Yoga movement received a big boost
through Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, largely because of his brief
association with the Beatles. He popularized yogic contemplation in
the form of Transcendental Meditation (TM), which still has tens of
thousands of practitioners around the world. TM practitioners also
introduced meditation and Yoga into the corporate world. It, moreover,
stimulated medical research on Yoga at various American universities.
In 1965, the then sixty-nine-year-old Shrila Prabhupada arrived in New
York with a suitcase full of books and $8.00 in his pockets. Six years
later he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
(ISKCON), and by the time of his death in 1977, he had created a
worldwide spiritual movement based on Bhakti Yoga (the Yoga of devotion).
Also in the 1960s and 1970s, many swamis trained by the Himalayan
master Swami Sivananda, a former physician who became a doctor of the
soul, opened their schools in Europe and the two Americas. Most of
them are still active today, and among them are Swami Vishnudevananda
(author of the widely read Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga), Swami
Satchitananda (well-known to Woodstock participants), Swami Sivananda
Radha (a woman-swami who pioneered the link between Yoga spirituality
and psychology), Swami Satyananda (about whom we will say more
shortly), and Swami Chidananda (a saintly figure who directed the
Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, India). The last-mentioned master's
best known American student is the gentle Lilias Folan, made famous by
her PBS television series Lilias, Yoga & You, broadcast between 1970
In 1969, Yogi Bhajan caused an uproar among the traditional Sikh
community (an offshoot of Hinduism) when he broke with tradition and
began to teach Kundalini Yoga to his Western students. Today his
Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization—better known as 3HO—has more than
200 centers around the world.
A more controversial but wildly popular guru in the 1970 and 1980s was
Bhagavan Rajneesh (now known as Osho), whose followers constantly made
the headlines for their sexual orgies and other excesses. Rajneesh, a
former philosophy professor, drew his teachings from authentic Yoga
sources, mixed with his own personal experiences. His numerous books
line the shelves of many second-hand bookstores. Rajneesh allowed his
students to act out their repressed fantasies, notably of the sexual
variety, in the hope that this would free them up for the deeper
processes of Yoga. Many of them, however, got trapped in a mystically
tinged hedonism, which proves the common-sense rule that too much of a
good thing can be bad for you. Even though many of his disciples felt
bitterly disappointed by him and the sad events surrounding his
organization in the years immediately preceding his death in 1990,
just as many still regard him as a genuine Yoga master. His life
illustrates that Yoga adepts come in all shapes and sizes and that, to
coin a phrase, one person's guru is another person's uru. (The
Sanskrit word uru denotes "empty space.") Another maxim that applies
here is caveat emptor, "buyer beware."
Other renowned modern Yoga adepts of Indian origin are Sri Aurobindo
(the father of Integral Yoga), Ramana Maharshi (an unparalleled master
of Jnana-Yoga), Papa Ramdas (who lived and breathed Mantra-Yoga, the
Yoga of transformative sound), Swami Nityananda (a miracle-working
master of Siddha-Yoga), and his disciple Swami Muktananda (a powerful
yogi who put Siddha-Yoga, which is a Tantric Yoga, on the map for
Western seekers). All these teachers are no longer among us.
The great exponent in modern times of Hatha-Yoga was Sri
Krishnamacharya, who died in 1989 at the ripe old age of 101. He
practiced and taught the Viniyoga system of Hatha-Yoga until his last
days. His son T. K. V. Desikachar continues his saintly father's
teachings and taught Yoga, among others, to the famous Jiddu
Krishnamurti. Another well-known student of Sri Krishnamacharya and a
master in his own right is Desikachar's uncle B. K. S. Iyengar, who
has taught tens of thousands of students, including the world-famous
violinist Jehudi Menuhin.
Mention must also be made of Pattabhi Jois and Indra Devi, both of
whom studied with Krishnamacharya in their early years and have since
then inspired thousands of Westerners.
Of living Yoga masters from India, I can mention Sri Chinmoy and Swami
Satyananda (a Tantra master who established the well-known Bihar
School of Yoga, has authored numerous books, and has disciples around
the world). There are of course many other great Yoga adepts, both
well known and more hidden, who represent Yoga in one form or another,
but I leave it up to you to discover them.
Until modern times, the overwhelming majority of Yoga practitioners
have been men, yogins. But there have also always been great female
adepts, yoginîs. Happily, in recent years, a few woman
saints—representing Bhakti-Yoga (Yoga of devotion)—have come to the
West to bring their gospel of love to open-hearted seekers. Yoga
embraces so many diverse approaches that anyone can find a home in it.
An exceptional woman teacher from India who fits none of the yogic
stereotypes is Meera Ma ("Mother Meera"). She doesn't teach in words
but communicates in silence through her simple presence. Of all
places, she has made her home in the middle of a quaint German village
in the Black Forest, and every year is attracting thousands of people
from all over the world.
Since Yoga is not restricted to Hinduism, we may also mention here the
Dalai Lama, champion of nonviolence and winner of the Nobel Peace
Prize. He is unquestionably one of the truly great yogis of modern
Tibet, who, above all, demonstrates that the principles of Yoga can
fruitfully be brought not only into a busy daily life but also into
the arena of politics. Today Tibetan Buddhism (which is a form of
Tantra-Yoga) is extremely popular among Westerners, and there are many
lamas (spiritual teacher) who are willing to share with sincere
seekers the secrets of their hitherto well-guarded tradition.
If you are curious about Westerners who have made a name for
themselves as teachers in the modern Yoga movement (understood in the
broadest terms), you may want to consult the encyclopedic work The
Book of Enlightened Masters by Andrew Rawlinson. His book includes
both genuine masters (like the Bulgarian teacher Omraam Mikhaël
Aďvanhov on whom I have written a book—The Mystery of Light) and a
galaxy of would-be masters.
For a comprehensive history of Yoga, see my book The Yoga Tradition,
published by Hohm Press. This dimension of Yoga is also covered in my
800-hour distance-learning course.
Someone has created a new website on the teachings of Swami Rama. It
has over 50 separate articles by Swami Rama on very practical matters
of yogic and spiritual life.
DESCRIPTION (from the site)
One of the greatest gifts of Swami Rama to humanity was bringing the
depths of the wisdom of the ancient sages of Yoga meditation, Vedanta,
and Tantra to the people in highly accessible ways. His style of
writing is extremely clear and practical, speaking from the highest
perspective of a Himalayan master. The writings on this website are a
small sample of that wisdom.
Although Swami Rama was most known for guiding people on the path to
the highest spiritual realizations, his finest worldly accomplishment
was founding the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust near Haridwar,
Rishikesh, and Dehradun, India. This includes a 750-bed hospital, a
400-student medical college, a 300-student nursing school, the major
cancer center in the region, and a rural development program serving
over 1000 villages in the region, including the high Himalayas areas
of the sages near the source of the River Ganges. HIHT is also the
home of Swami Rama Center, which is dedicated to preserving and
promoting the teachings of Swami Rama. Swami Rama also founded Sadhana
Mandir Ashram, which is located nearby in Rishikesh.
Swami Rama was born in the Himalayas, lived a life of service to
humanity, and left the body on November 13, 1996 at his residence on
the grounds of the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust.
QUOTES FROM ARTICLES (from the home page)
The following quotes of Swami Rama are excerpts from the articles
linked at the left.
You are the Architect: When a human being learns to seek religion not
in gods, but in his own potentials, then he will know that he is great
and that within his greatness lies his happiness. When he rapidly
unfolds the chapters of life's manuscript, of which he himself is the
author, he begins to realize who he is.You are the architect of your
life. You build your own philosophy and construct your own attitudes.
Without right attitudes, the entire architecture remains shaky. Once
you realize this fact, you will look within.(more)
Enlightenment and Freedom: People continue to build shrines, chapels,
churches, and temples. You don't have to do this, just realize that
you are a living shrine. The day you have attained the knowledge that
the Lord lives within you, you will be in samadhi. All questions will
be answered, all problems will be resolved. (more)
Knowing Yourself: The aim of life is Self-realization. The saying,
"Know thyself," was written on the temple of the oracle at Delphi in
ancient Greece. This is where East and West meet. Both East and West
agree on this goal, though they might hold different ways of attaining
it. The one important part of life is ignored by the educational
systems at home, in society, and in the colleges and universities:
"Know thyself." You need to understand yourself on all levels. You
don't need much external information; you already have true knowledge
within. You need to learn how to apply the knowledge that you have. (more)
Arise, Attain, and Serve: Today's society is waiting for selfless,
spiritually enlightened, well-balanced leaders to guide them in how to
live happily here and hereafter. Such leaders or reformers will not
come from outside our society. They have to be born, raised, and
trained right in our own society. We are the ones to become our own
guides, our own leaders, and we are the ones to enlighten our own
lives. Get up, my friends, arise: attain knowledge, and dedicate your
life to the service of your fellow beings. (more)
Sushumna: According to the yogic scriptures, there are 72,000 nadis,
or energy channels. Among them, ida, pingala, and sushumna are the
most important. As long as the mind is outward, only ida and pingala
remain active. But when the mind is calm and tranquil, sushumna, the
central channel, is awakened. The joy derived from the mind traveling
through the sushumna channel is unique; it cannot be compared with any
sensory pleasure. Because of that inner joy, the mind loses its taste
for worldly pleasures. Sushumna application is the most important
factor in spiritual practice. The moment sushumna is awakened, the
mind longs to enter the inner world. When the flow of ida and pingala
is di¬rected toward sushumna, and distractions are thereby removed,
meditation flows by itself. (more)
Keys to Successful Living: Everyone wants to be successful in life,
but where are the keys to success? Do we have to go out and search for
those keys, or do we have those potentials already within ourselves?
When we begin to examine life, we can see that it is divided into two
aspects -- life within and life without; internal life and external
life -- and we can see that these aspects are of equal importance.
Even if we have renounced the world, gone far away from civilization,
and live in the wilderness doing nothing but meditation, we cannot
ignore external life. We still have to see that we eat, do our
ablutions, and perform our practices on time. So life in the external
world is as important as life in the internal world. Even one who has
renounced the world has to understand the word "relationship"
properly, because life itself is actually relationship. (more)
Internal Dialogue: Developing internal dialogue is a very important
step, but one that few students understand. To succeed in meditation
you have to develop this important step. You do not begin with
meditation itself. First you learn to set a regular meditation time,
and then to have a dialogue with yourself. In this process you are
coming in contact with your inner, internal states. You are learning
about the subtle aspects of your mind, your own conscience, and at the
same time you are training yourself. (more)
Mantra and Silence: Imagine that you are standing on the bank of a
river and you hear the current as it flows. If you follow the river
upstream, you will come to its origin. There, you will find that there
is no sound. In the same way, a mantra leads the mind to the silence
within. That state is called "soundless sound." The seven sounds, or
mantras, of the chakras, if magnified, create a form. Each mantra will
make a different form. But magnifying sound in the external world is
not going to help you. You have to go to the source within, from which
that sound comes. This form gives you a knowledge of the sound, and
the sound gives you a knowledge of the silence from which all sounds
Guru and Divine Grace: Guru is not the goal. Anyone who establishes
himself as a guru to be worshipped, is not a guru. Christ, Buddha, and
other great persons did not set up any such example. Guru is like a
boat for crossing the river. It is important to have a good boat and
it is very dangerous to have a boat that is leaking. The boat brings
you across the river. When the river is crossed the boat is no longer
necessary. You don't hang onto the boat after completing the journey,
and you certainly don't worship the boat. (more)
Self Transformation: For a genuine and everlasting transformation, one
must practice a systematic method of self-discipline and
self-training. Mere philosophy and intellectual knowledge cannot stand
in time of need, if one does not know how to use the essentials of
that philosophy in one's daily life. Applying theoretical knowledge
and living with it in daily life is called practice. Practice requires
discipline. Discipline should not be rigidly imposed, but students
should learn to commit themselves and accept discipline as essential
for self-growth. Imposing rigidity and following it is not helpful at
BEING A TICKET TAKER IN MEDITATION
For Yoga meditation, one learns to let the thoughts "flow without
interruption." However, something comes first, before we can neutrally
witness the entire stream of thoughts flowing.
OBSERVING AN INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT
First we need to practice with individual thoughts, consciously
practicing allowing some single thought to arise, just so we can
observe the way in which it naturally drifts away, returning to the
still, silent place from which it arose.
There is a strong temptation to just block all of the thoughts by
focusing on some object, or by chanting a mantra. This is a serious
mistake for a meditator to make. It puts a veil, or maybe better to
say a wall between our conscious state and the deeper parts of our
being, including the bliss we are seeking and the center of
consciousness. What can start out as an effort to meditate ends up
just another method of suppressing thoughts and emotions, and this is
definitely not useful.
What we want to do here is to sit quietly, breath smoothly, and then
from within our mind field, intentionally allow some random thought
impression to arise. Usually what happens is that we don't even notice
these single impressions come up, and then we get caught in a long
train of thinking process. Next thing we know, we have a headache!
Here, we want to catch the thought, spot it, or detect it as it
arises. This is actually quite fascinating to notice the way in which
a single thought pattern breaks through from the unconscious into our
conscious field. The object may be something very simple and mundane,
such as a piece of fruit, some object around your house, or a scenic
view you saw some time ago.
It does not matter what the object is--just allow the image to arise
on its own. Also, it does not matter whether you literally "see" with
your inner eye or not. Whether you "see" or do not "see" with your
inner eye, you still are well aware of what images or impressions are
The next part, which is quite intriguing to observe is to allow that
thought to go, to let it drift right back to the silent, still place
from which it arose in the first place. This is not some complicated
meditation practice. Anyone can do this, and will gain tremendous
insight from the practice, if done regularly as a foundation practice
TWO NATURAL TENDENCIES OF THOUGHTS
You will come to see that if we allow it, it is quite natural for
these thought patterns to do two things:
1. It is natural for them to arise, and
2. It is natural for them to gently fall back to the place from which
We usually engage that single thought pattern and turn it into a whole
train of thought patterns, as if we are all Hollywood movie producers
in our mental stage. That single impression arises, and then off we
go! More and more thought impressions get drawn into the drama, and
along comes our emotional reactions as well. (Here, we are not being
critical of thoughts and emotions and their exploration. These can
definitely have a useful place as adjuncts to meditation, but here we
are talking of a specific practice related to Yoga meditation.)
With a little experimentation we can learn that it really is easy to
just let the thought drift away, and not turn it into a movie. This
letting go is a skill unto itself. Learning to literally let go of a
thought is a far superior skill than some technique of getting rid of,
or blocking thoughts and emotions.
BEING A TICKET TAKER
Imagine you are a ticket taker at a theater, and that there is a long
line of people coming into the theater. What do you do as a ticket
taker? Is it not true that when a person comes to hand you their
ticket, you greet them in a friendly way? You are open to them, and
acknowledge them with a gesture, a few words, or maybe both. But how
do you get them to go on into the theater? Or, for that matter, do you
need to do anything to get them to go into the theater? Isn't it true
that they will generally just go on into the theater on their own?
So what is the action that you would naturally do as a ticket taker,
when you have just taken the last persons ticket? Wouldn't you turn to
the next person in line, and maybe say "Next!" as you greeted,
accepted, and acknowledged that person as well? The previous person
will just move on, automatically. This is exactly what we can do with
those individual thoughts standing in line to come forward into
consciousness when we sit for meditation.
To have an attitude of quieting thoughts by stopping them would be
like stopping the line of theatergoers from coming in the door. They
might get pretty upset and start to cause trouble. Instead of having
the attitude of getting rid of thoughts, have an attitude of inviting
them to come, "Next…. Next…. Next…." Then let them go by.
This literally can be practiced, one individual thought at a time.
This can be done without having an object on which you are meditating.
You just sit there and invite the thoughts, one at a time, to come
forward, so that you can observe them come, and can then observe the
beautiful way in which they go, on their own.
Or, the practice can be done while at the same time remembering your
object on which you are trying to focus for meditation, whether that
be breath, an internal image, or a mantra.
It is the skill itself, the art of letting go that we are trying to
learn. It is an ability that few of us have ever been trained to do,
but can we can train ourselves in this extremely useful skill.
As this skill of learning to witness and let go of thought patterns is
developed, it becomes more clear how this goes along with the practice
of concentrating the mind. Then, instead of the concentration being a
means of suppressing thoughts and emotions, and thus preventing
meditation, concentration and witnessing work together. The mind is
concentrated, while at the same time the field of consciousness is
expanded from a witnessing stance, and deeper meditation is experienced.
MUSLIMS IN MALAYSIA PROHIBITED FROM YOGA
Yoga Ban: Don't question fatwa, says Council
By : Farrah Naz Karim
PUTRAJAYA: As expected, the National Fatwa Council yesterday announced
that Muslims are prohibited from practising yoga.
In declaring yoga haram, the council said it could be traced back to
Hinduism and concluded that yoga could erode the faith of Muslims.
Council chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin said the decision was
made as yoga involved elements that were against the beliefs of Islam
in its physical movements, chanting and worship.
"Many Muslims in the country fail to understand the ultimate aim of yoga.
"It combines physical movements, religious elements, chanting and
worshipping for the purpose of achieving inner peace and ultimately to
be one with God," he said at a press conference to announce the
Shukor said once the fatwa was gazetted, it would be passed on to the
states to decide on the enforcement.
Malaysia, he said, was not alone in prohibiting yoga among Muslims as
the Singaporean and Egyptian Islamic councils had done the same.
Shukor said renowned Islamic scholars were also of the view that yoga
could erode the faith of Muslims.
Asked if practising yoga with the intention of promoting physical
health was also against the fatwa, he said although it did not include
the chanting and beliefs, it was discouraged.
This, he said, was because the physical movements of yoga were a
component of the practice which was haram.
"In Islam, one must not do things which can erode one's aqidah
(belief). Yoga, even the physical movements, is a step towards the
erosion of a Muslim's belief, hence they must avoid it."
Muslims, he added, should be careful and conduct thorough studies
before embracing rituals and practices that could threaten their faith.
He said Islam had long paved the way for Muslims to achieve spiritual
peace and health and they should stick to these teachings, which
included praying five times a day.
The Islamic Development Department (Jakim), he said, would start a
programme to educate Muslims on why yoga was against the teachings of
Expecting a backlash from Malaysians on the decision, Shukor reminded
non-Muslims not to question the fatwa.
"We respect the harmony and freedom of practice of other races. This
is not something for non-Muslims to interfere in or question as this
matter involves Muslims and their faith.
"It may not be acceptable to other races, but this is about Islamic
teachings," he said.
Yoga practice among Muslims recently became an issue when Professor
Zakaria Stapa of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Faculty of Islamic
Studies said the practice could cause Muslims to deviate from Islam.
He had pointed out that yoga could be traced back to Hinduism and
urged Muslims who practised it to stop and return to the teachings of
Yoga, which dates back more than 5,000 years and is a form of
spiritual practice in India, is one of the six classic systems of
Hindu philosophy that stresses self-control, discipline, postures,
breathing, restraint of the senses, steadying of the mind, meditation
Intensive Meditation Retreat
with Swami Jnaneshvara
at Swami Rama Ashram,
on the River Ganges,
March 5-25, 2009
Retreat and registration info:
During March, 2009, I will devote several hours a day to serving a
handful of sincere people who are both avid readers and practitioners
of the principles and practices on the SwamiJ.com website, and who are
dedicated readers and practitioners of the methods described in the
books of Swami Rama.
I like to conduct classes interactively, and will ask that you fully
participate in both discussions and practices. My philosophy is that
programs such as these should be both fun and useful, and that this
happens best with open interaction rather than purely lecture style.
If you feel strongly drawn to spending time with me personally, and
learning and practicing in this way, this might be a life changing
time for you. If your interests are other than these, you will find a
wide range of other programs in Rishikesh, as well as at our own
ashram on different dates.
While our days together will be rich and full, there will be plenty of
time for quiet reflection and walks along the Ganges, which is
immediately beside the ashram.
In loving service,
Retreat and registration info:
Hospital, University, and Swami Rama Center website:
(Near the ashram; founded by Swami Rama)
Ananda Acharya on Trees, Birds, etc.
Give your affection for at least five minutes every day to trees and
animals, to birds and fishes. You will soon discover in them a portion
of your own life, sharing the wine of Brahman's love. Think of them as
manifestations of divine wisdom and treat them as members of humanity
with full right to live and enjoy. The ruthless rate at which our
cannibalistic civilized savages are felling forest trees and
exterminating birds and animals and fish is beyond all bounds, and the
children of men who will be born twenty or thirty years hence will
have to learn the life history of birds and trees and animals from
photographs and pictures. Remember, birds and animals are the friends
of trees and trees are the friends of man, and when birds and animals
and trees are gone out of our planet man will be friendless and the
future human race will then receive the same gift of extinction which
its reckless ancestors have offered to birds and trees and animals.
Without forests, without birds, without animals, what will be left for
poets to celebrate in their verse?
Swami Sri Ananda Acharya [1881-1945], Spiritual Talks (Hoshiarpur,
India: Vishveshvaranand Vedic Research Institute, 1957), p. 95
FEBRUARY IN FLORIDA 2009
Meditation, Contemplation, and Reconnection
6 hours per day of time together
Please see this page for complete info about the program:
From February 5-22, 2009, we will be having programs every day,
including our regular daily meditations at 11:30 am and 6:00 pm. The
spirit of the gatherings is that of old friends who are very sincere
about the practices getting together to learn and laugh, to meditate
and contemplate, and to spend some time away from home to reconnect
with the deeper, quieter aspects of yourself.
Many of our gatherings here have historically been spontaneous (often
after evening meditation), and this has been quite enjoyable,
flexible, insightful and fun. Some of our times will have themes,
which we will choose based on program participants. If you have a
specific topic request, please let me know. We will surely have a wide
range of discussions, training and practices, both in groups and
individually. On the page linked above there are also suggested
reading materials from pdf files and books.
Whoever is here will come together in a sense of community, with our
schedules being flexible, while punctual. Out of state or
international visitors can stay at hotels or condominiums at the
beach, while local people are also welcome to participate in all
activities (See the page link for hotel information).
Our annual Center for Nondualism Conference is the last full weekend
of February, which is February 20-22. If it works for your schedule,
please do try to be here over that weekend. It will be a full and
Please let me know of your wishes or intent about coming during
February, including what you think will be your approximate arrival
date and departure date. If you live in the Fort Walton Beach area,
please let me know how much time you think you will be involved.
In loving service,
Please see this page for complete info about the program:
NEW VIDEO (9:00 Minutes)
TRATAKA GAZING WITH SOHAM MANTRA:
YOGA AND TANTRA MEDITATION
By Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
VIDEO is at YouTube:
Trataka is gazing, and is a traditional meditation practice of Yoga
SoHum (or SoHam) is a Universal Mantra, as it relates to the breath,
and everybody breaths.
SoHum is a Sanskrit word that means
"I am that," or "I am that I am."
Inhale with the sound "So,"
And Exhale with the sound "Hum."
Allow the sounds to silently repeat in your mind,
without speaking them aloud.
There are a total of 40 SoHum and breath repetitions
The speed of one repetition is 9 seconds per breath,
which is 6 2/3 breaths per minute.
This rate is ideal for relaxing
the autonomic nervous system, and also
preparing for deep meditation.
Breathe with your diaphragm, while gazing at the center, silently
remembering "So" with inhalation and "Hum" with exhalation.
DEBATE ARGUMENTS: "IS YOGA A RELIGION?"
Following is a link to a website called Opposing Views on the question
"Is Yoga a Religion?" Rabbi Sigal Brier says "Yes" and Swami
Jnaneshvara Bharati says "No." Read the arguments for yourself. If you
wish, you can even cast your vote for "Yes" or "No."
ADDENDUM TO THE YOGA NIDRA ARTICLE ON SWAMIJ.COM
The distortion of the very high practice of Yoga Nidra is so thorough
in the world these days that it seems necessary to make very bright
titles just to have the point noticed.
Throughout this article (and others linked on this page) you will find
explanations that there are THREE levels of consciousness: Waking,
Dreaming, and Deep Sleep (plus the "fourth" which is the transcendent
state known as Turiya). Yoga Nidra is conscious DEEP SLEEP. Deep Sleep
is NOT conscious Dreaming. It is NOT the transition between Waking and
Dreaming. Those are states to explore, but they are NOT Deep Sleep; if
it did have dreams, that would be called Dreaming, and would NOT be
called Deep Sleep.
It is utterly obvious that Deep Sleep does NOT have Dreams to explore.
It should be self-evident that Dreaming and Not-Dreaming (i.e., Deep
Sleep) are two different things. However, books, articles, and CDs
keep telling people that Yoga Nidra is a state of Dreaming, or
transitioning into Dreaming from Waking. This is just not true.
Throughout the ancient writings of the yogis, sages, and rishis there
are explanations of these three states of consciousness. Please don't
just take my word for it. Read the ancient writings, including Vedas,
Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and others. You will find these states
talked about over and over, and over again.
Many people are now practicing all sorts of guided imageries in the
name of Yoga Nidra so that they can make money, have better sex, or
manipulate other people. There are CDs out which say Yoga Nidra is for
"this or that" named disease or other specific desire-based purpose.
Yoga Nidra has been made to sound like "The Law of Attraction,"
whereby you fulfill your desires through meditative techniques.
Yoga Nidra was taught by the ancient sages for the purpose of
exploring the deep impressions or samskaras, which drive our actions
or karma. They taught this so that sincere seekers can purify the
deeper aspect of the mind-field, which is accessed in the formless
state of conscious Deep Sleep. If I try to explain the whole process
here in this paragraph, I would have to condense the whole article
here, which can't be done. You must do this exploration yourself. Read
the article. Read the other articles. Read the texts mentioned above.
I'm not writing this here just to complain about other people. The
fact is, that Yoga Nidra is a profoundly useful and deep practice for
enlightenment at this highest level of that word (enlightenment). The
term "Yoga Nidra" has become so watered-down, so distorted that
sincere seekers are not likely to see the extremely high value of
authentic Yoga Nidra. If you read this, research this yourself, and
then do the practices, you'll discover for yourself the very high
value of authentic, traditional Yoga Nidra.
I know that all of this can sound like a "sales pitch." Well, we're
stuck with that. I'm writing this here so that possibly some few
sincere people will move forward with authentic Yoga Nidra. There are
a small handful of people out there who can talk to you about this,
and guide you. I'm not going to recommend any specific names of
people, however. Just explore sincerely; you'll find your way to the
real thing of Yoga Nidra.
While you are here, reading this part of the article, please read
carefully the rest of the article, as well as some of the other
articles about these three levels of consciousness (see levels
articles in the link), particularly the third level, which is the
domain of Deep Sleep. I know it can be a difficult read, but there's
great value in understanding these levels of consciousness and how
Yoga Nidra is used as a tool for higher experience.
Yoga Nidra article:
In loving service,
"If God is everywhere, then He is also in you. You simply have to
The Master Speaks
Inspired Sayings of Sri Swami Rama
Sadhana Mandir Ashram
Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust
Throughout the highs and lows of life, whether bad times or good,
whether living in darkness or light, untruth or truth, sugar always
tastes sweet. So too can the sweet remembrance of the union called
Yoga be ever tasted.
By Adi Sankaracharya, 788-820 CE,
Translated by Swami Chinmayananda
Published by Chinmaya Mission, Mumbai
1. I am composing the ATMA-BODHA, this treatise of the Knowledge of
the Self, for those who have purified themselves by austerities and
are peaceful in heart and calm, who are free from cravings and are
desirous of liberation.
2. Just as the fire is the direct cause for cooking, so without
Knowledge no emancipation can be had. Compared with all other forms of
discipline Knowledge of the Self is the one direct means for liberation.
3. Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with or
opposed to ignorance. Knowledge does verily destroy ignorance as light
destroys deep darkness.
4. The Soul appears to be finite because of ignorance. When ignorance
is destroyed the Self which does not admit of any multiplicity truly
reveals itself by itself: like the Sun when the clouds pass away.
5. Constant practice of knowledge purifies the Self (`Jivatman'),
stained by ignorance and then disappears itself – as the powder of the
`Kataka-nut' settles down after it has cleansed the muddy water.
6. The world which is full of attachments, aversions, etc., is like a
dream. It appears to be real, as long as it continues but appears to
be unreal when one is awake (i.e., when true wisdom dawns).
7. The Jagat appears to be true (Satyam) so long as Brahman, the
substratum, the basis of all this creation, is not realised. It is
like the illusion of silver in the mother-of pearl.
8. Like bubbles in the water, the worlds rise, exist and dissolve in
the Supreme Self, which is the material cause and the prop of everything.
9. All the manifested world of things and beings are projected by
imagination upon the substratum which is the Eternal All-pervading
Vishnu, whose nature is Existence-Intelligence; just as the different
ornaments are all made out of the same gold.
10. The All-pervading Akasa appears to be diverse on account of its
association with various conditionings (Upadhis) which are different
from each other. Space becomes one on the destruction of these
limiting adjuncts: So also the Omnipresent Truth appears to be diverse
on account of Its association with the various Upadhis and becomes one
on the destruction of these Upadhis.
11. Because of Its association with different conditionings (Upadhis)
such ideas as caste, colour and position are super-imposed upon the
Atman, as flavour, colour, etc., are super-imposed on water.
12. Determined for each individual by his own past actions and made up
of the Five elements – that have gone through the process of
"five-fold self-division and mutual combination" (Pancheekarana) – are
born the gross-body, the medium through which pleasure and pain are
experienced, the tent-of-experiences.
13. The five Pranas, the ten organs and the Manas and the Buddhi,
formed from the rudimentary elements (Tanmatras) before their
"five-fold division and mutual combination with one another"
(Pancheekarana) and this is the subtle body, the
instruments-of-experience (of the individual).
14. Avidya which is indescribable and beginningless is the Causal
Body. Know for certain that the Atman is other than these three
conditioning bodies (Upadhis).
15. In its identification with the five-sheaths the Immaculate Atman
appears to have borrowed their qualities upon Itself; as in the case
of a crystal which appears to gather unto itself colour of its
vicinity (blue cloth, etc.,).
16. Through discriminative self-analysis and logical thinking one
should separate the Pure self within from the sheaths as one separates
the rice from the husk, bran, etc., that are covering it.
17. The Atman does not shine in everything although He is
All-pervading. He is manifest only in the inner equipment, the
intellect (Buddhi): just as the reflection in a clean mirror.
18. One should understand that the Atman is always like the King,
distinct from the body, senses, mind and intellect, all of which
constitute the matter (Prakriti); and is the witness of their functions.
19. The moon appears to be running when the clouds move in the sky.
Likewise to the non-discriminating person the Atman appears to be
active when It is observed through the functions of the sense-organs.
20. Depending upon the energy of vitality of Consciousness (Atma
Chaitanya) the body, senses, mind and intellect engage themselves in
their respective activities, just as men work depending upon the light
of the Sun.
21. Fools, because they lack in their powers of discrimination
superimpose on the Atman, the Absolute-Existence-Knowledge (Sat-Chit),
all the varied functions of the body and the senses, just as they
attribute blue colour and the like to the sky.
22. The tremblings that belong to the waters are attributed through
ignorance to the reflected moon dancing on it: likewise agency of
action, of enjoyment and of other limitations (which really belong to
the mind) are delusively understood as the nature of the Self (Atman).
23. Attachment, desire, pleasure, pain, etc., are perceived to exist
so long as Buddhi or mind functions. They are not perceived in deep
sleep when the mind ceases to exist. Therefore they belong to the mind
alone and not to the Atman.
24. Just as luminosity is the nature of the Sun, coolness of water and
heat of fire, so too the nature of the Atman is Eternity, Purity,
Reality, Consciousness and Bliss.
25. By the indiscriminate blending of the two – the
Existence-Knowledge-aspect of the Self and the thought-wave of the
intellect – there arises the notion of "I know".
26. Atman never does anything and the intellect of its own accord has
no capacity to experience `I know'. But the individuality in us
delusorily thinks he is himself the seer and the knower.
27. Just as the person who regards a rope as a snake is overcome by
fear, so also one considering oneself as the ego (Jiva) is overcome by
fear. The ego-centric individuality in us regains fearlessness by
realising that It is not a Jiva but is Itself the Supreme Soul.
28. Just as a lamp illumines a jar or a pot, so also the Atman
illumines the mind and the sense organs, etc. These material-objects
by themselves cannot illumine themselves because they are inert.
29. A lighted-lamp does not need another lamp to illumine its light.
So too, Atman which is Knowledge itself needs no other knowledge to
30. By a process of negation of the conditionings (Upadhis) through
the help of the scriptural statement `It is not this, It is not this',
the oneness of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, as indicated
by the great Mahavakyas, has to be realised.
31. The body, etc., up to the "Causal Body" – Ignorance – which are
objects perceived, are as perishable as bubbles. Realise through
discrimination that I am the `Pure Brahman' ever completely separate
from all these.
32. I am other than the body and so I am free from changes such as
birth, wrinkling, senility, death, etc. I have nothing to do with the
sense objects such as sound and taste, for I am without the sense-organs.
33. I am other than the mind and hence, I am free from sorrow,
attachment, malice and fear, for "HE is without breath and without
mind, Pure, etc.", is the Commandment of the great scripture, the
34. I am without attributes and actions; Eternal (Nitya) without any
desire and thought (Nirvikalpa), without any dirt (Niranjana), without
any change (Nirvikara), without form (Nirakara), ever-liberated (Nitya
Mukta) ever-pure (Nirmala).
35. Like the space I fill all things within and without. Changeless
and the same in all, at all times I am pure, unattached, stainless and
36. I am verily that Supreme Brahman alone which is Eternal, Pure and
Free, One, indivisible and non-dual and of the nature of
37. The impression "I am Brahman" thus created by constant practice
destroys ignorance and the agitation caused by it, just as medicine or
Rasayana destroys disease.
38. Sitting in a solitary place, freeing the mind from desires and
controlling the senses, meditate with unswerving attention on the
Atman which is One without-a-second.
39. The wise one should intelligently merge the entire
world-of-objects in the Atman alone and constantly think of the Self
ever as contaminated by anything as the sky.
40. He who has realised the Supreme, discards all his identification
with the objects of names and forms. (Thereafter) he dwells as an
embodiment of the Infinite Consciousness and Bliss. He becomes the Self.
41. There are no distinctions such as "Knower", the "Knowledge" and
the "Object of Knowledge" in the Supreme Self. On account of Its being
of the nature of endless Bliss, It does not admit of such distinctions
within Itself. It alone shines by Itself.
42. When this the lower and the higher aspects of the Self are well
churned together, the fire of knowledge is born from it, which in its
mighty conflagration shall burn down all the fuel of ignorance in us.
43. The Lord of the early dawn (Aruna) himself has already looted away
the thick darkness, when soon the sun rises. The Divine Consciousness
of the Self rises when the right knowledge has already killed the
darkness in the bosom.
44. Atman is an ever-present Reality. Yet, because of ignorance it is
not realised. On the destruction of ignorance Atman is realised. It is
like the missing ornament of one's neck.
45. Brahman appears to be a `Jiva' because of ignorance, just as a
post appears to be a ghost. The ego-centric-individuality is destroyed
when the real nature of the `Jiva' is realised as the Self.
46. The ignorance characterised by the notions `I' and `Mine' is
destroyed by the knowledge produced by the realisation of the true
nature of the Self, just as right information removes the wrong notion
about the directions.
47. The Yogi of perfect realisation and enlightenment sees through his
"eye of wisdom" (Gyana Chakshush) the entire universe in his own Self
and regards everything else as his own Self and nothing else.
48. Nothing whatever exists other than the Atman: the tangible
universe is verily Atman. As pots and jars are verily made of clay and
cannot be said to be anything but clay, so too, to the enlightened
soul and that is perceived is the Self.
49. A liberated one, endowed with Self-knowledge, gives up the traits
of his previously explained equipments (Upadhis) and because of his
nature of Sat-chit-ananda, he verily becomes Brahman like (the worm
that grows to be) a wasp.
50. After crossing the ocean of delusion and killing the monsters of
likes and dislikes, the Yogi who is united with peace dwells in the
glory of his own realised Self – as an Atmaram.
51. The self-abiding Jivan Mukta, relinquishing all his attachments to
the illusory external happiness and satisfied with the bliss derived
from the Atman, shines inwardly like a lamp placed inside a jar.
52. Though he lives in the conditionings (Upadhis), he, the
contemplative one, remains ever unconcerned with anything or he may
move about like the wind, perfectly unattached.
53. On the destruction of the Upadhis, the contemplative one is
totally absorbed in `Vishnu', the All-pervading Spirit, like water
into water, space into space and light into light.
54. Realise That to be Brahman, the attainment of which leaves nothing
more to be attained, the blessedness of which leaves no other blessing
to be desired and the knowledge of which leaves nothing more to be known.
55. Realise that to be Brahman which, when seen, leaves nothing more
to be seen, which having become one is not born again in this world
and which, when knowing leaves nothing else to be known.
56. Realise that to be Brahman which is
Existence-Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute, which is Non-dual, Infinite,
Eternal and One and which fills all the quarters – above and below and
all that exists between.
57. Realise that to be Brahman which is Non-dual, Indivisible, One and
Blissful and which is indicated in Vedanta as the Immutable
Substratum, realised after the negation of all tangible objects.
58. Deities like Brahma and others taste only a particle, of the
unlimited Bliss of Brahman and enjoy in proportion their share of that
59. All objects are pervaded by Brahman. All actions are possible
because of Brahman: therefore Brahman permeates everything as butter
60. Realise that to be Brahman which is neither subtle nor gross:
neither short nor long: without birth or change: without form,
qualities, colour and name.
61. That by the light of which the luminous, orbs like the Sun and the
Moon are illuminated, but which is not illumined by their light,
realise that to be Brahman.
62. Pervading the entire universe outwardly and inwardly the Supreme
Brahman shines of Itself like the fire that permeates a red-hot
iron-ball and glows by itself.
63. Brahman is other than this, the universe. There exists nothing
that is not Brahman. If any object other than Brahman appears to
exist, it is unreal like the mirage.
64. All that is perceived, or heard, is Brahman and nothing else.
Attaining the knowledge of the Reality, one sees the Universe as the
non-dual Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute.
65. Though Atman is Pure Consciousness and ever present everywhere,
yet It is perceived by the eye-of-wisdom alone: but one whose vision
is obscured by ignorance he does not see It; as the blind do not see
the resplendent Sun.
66. The `Jiva' free from impurities, being heated in the fire of
knowledge kindled by hearing and so on, shines of itself like gold.
67. The Atman, the Sun of Knowledge that rises in the sky of the
heart, destroys the darkness of the ignorance, pervades and sustains
all and shines and makes everything to shine.
68. He who renouncing all activities, who is free of all the
limitations of time, space and direction, worships his own Atman which
is present everywhere, which is the destroyer of heat and cold, which
is Bliss-Eternal and stainless, becomes All-knowing and All-pervading
and attains thereafter Immortality.
Thus concludes Atma-Bodha.
"Start from a personal God, go to the God within, then to the
universal God, and finally beyond."
"The best of all knowledge, the greatest of all powers, comes from
The Master Speaks
Inspired Sayings of Sri Swami Rama
Sadhana Mandir Ashram
Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust
Frequently Asked Questions About Hatha-Yoga
1. Is Hatha-Yoga the only kind of Yoga there is?
Far from it. The Yoga tradition comprises many distinct approaches,
notably Râja-Yoga (the "royal" path of meditation), Jnâna-Yoga (the
path of discernment and wisdom), Karma-Yoga (the path of
self-transcending action), Bhakti-Yoga (the path of devotion), and
Tantra (the integrative path developed in the medieval era). See our
FAQ about Yoga in general.
2. What is the difference between contemporary Hatha-Yoga and
Traditional Hatha-Yoga is a pronouncedly spiritual tradition, that is,
it is concerned primarily with the goal of liberation, or
enlightenment. The various physical practices all serve to create a
healthy, vital body that can withstand the rigors of an ascetical
approach to life involving the awakening of the "serpent power"
(kundalinî-shakti). The contemporary schools of Western Hatha-Yoga, by
contrast, are mostly geared toward physical fitness, strength,
flexibility, or beauty. They tend to ignore traditional Yoga's
spiritual orientation nor its ethical foundations. The distinct
feature of traditional Hatha-Yoga is its attempt to create a
transubstantiated immortal body of energy through the mastery over the
five material elements.
3. How old is traditional Hatha-Yoga?
Probably, yogins and yoginis discovered the health benefits of certain
yogic practices (notably breath control) early on, though their focus
was always on the spiritual benefit gained from consistently engaging
those practices. It was not, however, until around 1000 A.D. that,
under the body-positive tradition of Tantra, practitioners of Yoga
formulated the tenets of Hatha-Yoga and also developed the postures
and breathing techniques into psychosomatic devices for
self-transformation. Previously, postures (âsana) were used
exclusively for the purpose of stabilizing the body during meditation,
and breath control (prânâyâma) was used in order to deepen the
4. Who invented traditional Hatha-Yoga?
Traditional authorities associate Hatha-Yoga with Goraksha Nâtha,
whose teacher is said to have been Matsyendra, even though the latter
appears to have lived many centuries earlier. Goraksha, the founder of
the Kânphata ("Split-Ear") sect, lived in the 10th to 11th century.
The texts attributed to him do not show the elaborate postural
technology of subsequent schools of Hatha-Yoga. Rather, he focused on
breath control as a major transformative tool.
5. Can contemporary Hatha-Yoga be considered authentic?
This is a difficult question to answer. It all depends on the school
or style. To the degree that a school or style honors and preserves
Yoga's general spiritual and ethical orientation, it is likely to be
authentic. In its best manifestations, contemporary Hatha-Yoga can be
viewed as a modern adaptation of traditional Hatha-Yoga. But then
there are also schools and approaches that have very little in common
with traditional Hatha-Yoga. Caveat emptor!
6. Is contemporary (Western) Hatha-Yoga as potent as traditional
The answer to this question again depends on which school or style one
is talking about. But contemporary Western Hatha-Yoga does not (yet)
appear to have given rise to great adepts like Matsyendra or Goraksha,
which does not mean that this could not happen in the future. Even
accomplished Hatha-Yoga masters like B. K. S. Iyengar, who does not
consider himself a realized adept (siddha), have so far not emerged in
7. Is it useful to practice contemporary Hatha-Yoga?
Of course. Just be very clear on what sort of Hatha-Yoga you are
practicing and what its inherent limitations are. If you are looking
for health, fitness, or strength, the contemporary styles of
Hatha-Yoga will not disappoint. If you are looking for spiritual
fulfillment, you must look more closely at a system and its teacher(s).
"Silence does not lie within the domain of your mind; silence lies
beyond your mind."
The Master Speaks
Inspired Sayings of Sri Swami Rama
Sadhana Mandir Ashram
Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust
Just address an email to Yoga-Meditation@yahoogroups.com
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