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    More About Antaranga Yoga Sadhana

    The word “Samadhi” is used to mean trance as a practice, as a technique, being one of the eight Angas of the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali. It is a Sadhana; it is something that is practised. But, quite often, the same word “Samadhi” is also used in the sense of the culmination of Yoga or the ultimate objective or goal of Yoga; then it denotes a state of superconsciousness, a state transcending all mind-activity. Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that in the Yoga Shastra the term as such is used to mean both a practice as well as a state of superconsciousness. As a practice or a technique, it is referred to by various names as Asmita Samadhi, Savitarka Samadhi, Savichara Samadhi and so on. In English sometimes, writers have been in the practice of alluding to these as the lower Samadhis. When the Arurukshu Yogi—a Yogi who has already climbed sufficiently well up on the ladder of Yoga and has reached a very high state—goes on practising Samadhi, diligently and with great exertion, without giving up, without tiring, with sustained zeal, with Vairagya and great regularity, with great tenacity of purpose, for months and years, then he ascends into higher and higher states of Samadhi. The Samadhi in such a high state is referred to as Nirbija Samadhi or Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Asamprajnata Samadhi. When the word “Samadhi” is used in this way to refer to the Nirbija Samadhi or Asamprajnata Samadhi, then it means the superconscious state. They even go so far as to say that it is a state of non-dual consciousness. That is a matter of opinion. When the term “Samadhi” is used to indicate the Savitarka Samadhi or the Savikalpa Samadhi or other lower Samadhis, then it means trance which is a technique and a practice. When one reaches the level of the Asamprajnata Samadhi or the Nirvikalpa or Nirbija Samadhi, sometimes the Yogi goes on practising such a state until he becomes so much established in that state of consciousness that even when he comes back into the waking state, down from the deep inward state, where he is not aware of the body or the time or the surroundings, even when he comes back into the normal state, his awareness continues to be qualified by the same state of non-duality. In other words, he is so much established in that state of spiritual consciousness or awareness that even while he is moving and acting, he still remains in that state of inner awareness, and they call this the state of Sahaja Samadhi. Sahaja means natural. So, in Sahaja Samadhi, the state of non-dual consciousness becomes to the Yogi his natural state, and not a state which he tries hard to reach and then reaches only to come back to the waking state after a while. Rather, the state of non-dual consciousness becomes normal to him. The Yogi thus gets established in Sahaja Avastha. But, the Sahaja Avastha is a rare phenomenon and is itself the fruit of intense practice of the other stages and gradations of Samadhi. It is only after intense practice of Savitarka Samadhi, Savichara Samadhi and Asmita Samadhi and the continued practice of being in a state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi that the Nirvikalpa Samadhi becomes natural to the Yogi, that it becomes continued and unbroken in all the three states, namely, waking, dream and deep sleep. Thus, in the Sahaja Avastha, even in the waking state, even in the midst of activity, the Yogi rests in non-dual consciousness.

    Dual Consciousness of the Yogi in Sahaja Avastha

    Now, this supreme state of Asamprajnata Samadhi entitles the Yogi to be called a Yogarudha or one who has scaled the peaks of Yoga and becomes established in the highest pinnacle of Yoga. Such a Yogi is called a Yogarudha Siddha Purusha. He is also called a Jivanmukta. He is established in the consciousness of his Purushahood. Therefore he is no longer bound; he is no longer within the bondage of Prakriti or Maya or Avidya or delusion or ignorance. In that state, the body continues to be as it was before, and the Indriyas have their Cheshta as before. The eyes see and the ears hear and the hands touch; the nose smells and the tongue tastes. The Yogi is able to differentiate between salt and sugar; he is able to differentiate between hot and cold, between ice-cream and hot coffee. He knows: “This is a child, that is an old man; this is a woman, that is a man; this is a beast, that is a human being”. He is able to see all that. The Cheshta of the Indriyas continues, and yet, the Yogi being in Sahaja Avastha, is not in the least deluded by the same. He has no Moha, no attachment, no desire. In that state of Sahaja Avastha, he is not bound by desire, attachment or delusion. His consciousness is not qualified by identification with the various limiting adjuncts or Upadhis such as the senses, the Pranas, the sense-organs, the body, the mind and the intellect. He is therefore established in the full consciousness of his supreme isolated Purushahood, apart from Prakriti, distinct from Prakriti, independent of Prakriti. As such, he is unaffected and unafflicted by the modes of Prakriti. In short, he has regained his pristine status and has established himself in his own Svarupa. That is the fruit of Svarupa Avastha. In the Yogi who is thus established in Svarupa Avastha, Yoga has fulfilled its purpose. In the midst of Maya, the Yogi is established in a consciousness freed from Maya. He looks upon the world, sees everything going on in it, but knows them to be vanishing shadows having no ultimate reality. He experiences his body and the various states of his mind and intellect, but knows himself as supremely apart from them. He is a mere witness of the changing conditions and states of the Upadhis and remains unaffected and unattached and apart from those Upadhis. And he knows that as long as the least Prarabdha Karma remains to be enjoyed by him, he will have to continue in the state of embodied condition. In this state of Sahaja Avastha, the Yogi enjoys dual consciousness. He has the consciousness of the external names and forms. He also has the consciousness of the Svarupa which is beyond all names and forms. And this consciousness of his inner Svarupa prevents him from falling into the delusion of the outer phenomena. In the midst of the waters of Prakriti, he swims on the surface, not drowning, not going in, not being engulfed by the water, but remaining on the surface. On a summer day, when it is blazing hot, a person approaches a beautiful lake of cool crystal waters. He enters the lake in order to cool his body, stands in waist-deep water and plunges into the water two or three times. Having plunged into the water, the person raises his head above the water and stands in the lake, waist-deep in water. In this position, the sun above is shining and the hot rays of the sun are falling upon his body. So, he is able to feel the heat of the sun on his limbs, on his right hand, on his left hand, on his shoulders, head, face, chest and back. He experiences the heat of the sun. But at the same time, simultaneously, below his waist, he experiences the beautiful cool sensation of the waters of the lake. Now, we cannot say whether his experience is one of coolness or one of heat. He is experiencing simultaneously both the outer heat of the sun and the inner coolness of the water. He has a twofold experience coexisting at the same time. In like fashion, the Yogi who is established in Sahaja Samadhi moves about in the world in a state of dual consciousness—consciousness of the Svarupa within and awareness of the multifariousness of the phenomenal Prakriti without. And at the end of the allotted span of life of his physical body, when the Prarabdha Karma is spent up and there is no more experience to be undergone, the Yogi gives up his body. Such a Yogi does not return to an embodied condition once again. This is the highest fruit of Yoga. And this is called Kaivalya, a state of liberation from the need to take rebirth once again, from the need to become embodied once again. This ultimate fruit of Yoga comes as the result of a diligent practice of concentration, meditation and Samadhi.

    The Yogic Technique of Samyama

    So, again and again, one has to practise Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi; and when one attains proficiency in this practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi, one is able to bring to bear one’s entire mind in a powerful beam, as it were upon any chosen object, one is able to focus one’s mind with great intensity upon any chosen object. When one has become an adept in Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi and one utilises the threefold technique to direct his mind toward any particular object, what happens? The deepest truths about that object become revealed to the Yogi’s consciousness. The object, in all its secret detail, becomes fully cognised and known by the Yogi. That means you can unravel the secrets of nature, the secrets of time, the secrets of space, the secrets of unseen objects, the secret of the remote past, the secret of something hidden from your outer gaze or vision, of anything. No secret is hidden to you. Everything becomes unravelled. The application of this technique of the threefold practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi in order to get to the very root and secret of all things, this application, is called the practice of Samyama. You must make a careful distinction here. There is a Hindi word called “Samyam” which is also spelt more or less in the same way as the Samyama mentioned above. Samyam means restraint, control. It means self-control, sense-restraint. But, in the area of the inner Yoga, the Antaranga Yoga, when you use the term “Samyama”, it means specifically the application of the combined force of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi upon any particular object about which you want to know everything with a hundred per cent fullness and clarity. That is called Samyama in Raja Yoga. You can make Samyama on a distant star and know everything about it. You can make Samyama on fire and know everything about fire. You can make Samyama on water and know everything about water. And they say that if you thus make Samyama on any object and know everything about it, then you become independent of it; that object cannot affect you. That object can no longer affect you. You become impervious to it. They say that if the Yogi does Samyama on fire, he knows everything about fire, from its origin onwards. And fire cannot burn that Yogi. He attains total control over that element called fire. The same is the case with earth, air, water and ether. Samyama is a technique of combining Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi in order to get to the very depth and bottom of any subject matter which you wish to know fully about. And this leads to certain rare states of perfection and of conquest of nature. All this we find mentioned in the science of Yoga as expounded by Patanjali. But, as already mentioned, this power can be acquired only through a very diligent practice of concentration, meditation and trance, which means struggling against various obstacles including sleep.

    Obstacles to Meditation—Sleep, Memory, Imagination

    When you sit for concentration, sleep will come; because, the moment you try to stop all the activity of the mind, and the mind becomes inactive, it cannot remain awake for ever. Knowing this difficulty, Patanjali Maharshi has very wisely prescribed that you should have some object as your focal point of concentration in the beginning stages of your practice. Give something for the mind to concentrate upon. And gradually make the area of concentration smaller and smaller till the mind is left with only a single Vritti, to the exclusion of all other Vrittis. Then, ultimately, when you reach the stage of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, even this single Vritti will subside. It will sink away and disappear and consciousness alone will remain. Until then, that single Vritti becomes your greatest help, your greatest Avalambana, your greatest support—the greatest support for your mind. But for it, you will lapse into sleep. Therefore, that single Vritti becomes your invaluable help and support. So, you must know the value of Vritti in order to ultimately reach the state of Nivritti or the Vritti Shunya Avastha.

    Another great obstacle in concentration, in addition to sleep, is memory. Because, memory is not under your control. When you want to remember something, you may not remember. And when you do not want to remember past things, all of them will come up! They will keep troubling you; they will keep disturbing you when you do not want them. And the most suitable and convenient time for them to come up is when the mind is not engaged. You sit in your meditation pose, disengage your mind from all outer preoccupations, and so the mind has nothing to do. In that state of empty mind, all these Vrittis and memories start coming and imagination starts working havoc. Sleep, memory, imagination—you must know how to make suitable devices to overcome these obstacles which come up when you try to meditate.

    Hidden Desires and Unconscious Ambitions

    Another subtle disturbance which arises from within when you try to sit alone in a jungle and meditate is the onslaught of hidden desires—desires which you never thought were there, and worse still, unconscious ambitions within the mind. “I must become a Siddha Maha Purusha like Satya Sai Baba. I must have all the miracle-making powers. Thousands of people must throng to me. I must be able to fly. One day I will go to Palam airport in Delhi. I will tell them: ‘I want to go in the plane without ticket.’ Naturally they will say, ‘No, you cannot; you must have a ticket’. Then, what will I do? I will come out and fly. And all will say, ‘Ah!’. Then I will go to America and thrill the whole world and I will raise myself from the ground against gravitation. I will show all the miracles and my picture will be in all the papers. When I get Yoga Siddhi, I will go back to that man who insulted me when I was in that Government Department. I will go back to that erstwhile boss who insulted me when I was a clerk. I will appear before him and humiliate him, show him where be belongs; I will give him a lesson”. Like that, your ambitions can take endless shape. Your ambition may have some relevance to the present context or it may have some connection with the past. “Yogi Jalandhar Nath was like that; Matsyendra Nath was like that. That other man did like that. So, I must also do miracles like Jnaneswar or Matsyendra Nath. I must also work wonders like the past Yogis.” So, in this way, ambition disturbs meditation. Again and again it comes. The only way to deal with such ambition is to spit upon it and say, “I disdain to look at you. You are filth, you are dirt, worse than excreta. You are not even human excreta. Human excreta, at least, is used in the fields for manure; it has some value. You are like the excreta of a pig, like the excreta of a crow, useless. I spit upon you. I have nothing to do with you”. In that way, you must take an extreme attitude of absolute contempt, absolute repugnance, absolute disdain. And sometimes you must say, “You are the greatest danger; you are more dangerous than poison”. Like that, reject all ambition outright and this is possible if you have got extreme Vairagya. What is that state of real Vairagya? Real Vairagya is a state that gives up everything in this universe from a blade of grass up to the highest state of the throne of Brahma—as excreta. Real Vairagya does not give value to anything. It considers everything from a blade of grass to the status of Brahma, the Creator, as totally useless. It regards everything as dust. Regarding everything, from the smallest to the greatest, from the lowest to the highest, as something to be dismissed with contempt—that, then, is Vairagya. If a Yogi has that fierce Vairagya, then the disturbance of ambition can be properly dealt with when it rears its head during meditation. Imagination can also be cut to pieces and thrown away in like fashion.

    Other Minor Obstacles

    Says Patanjali: “Sa tu deerghakala-nairantarya sat-kaaraasevitodridhabhoomih” Diligent, unremitting effort is required. The effort must be undertaken with great earnestness and there should be unbroken continuity of effort spread over a long period of time. If you go on practising Yoga with keen interest and enthusiasm, and your Abhyasa is always supported by Vairagya, then you become established in the state of meditation, in the state of trance. Thus, with unremitting effort, and at the same time with steady abidance in Vairagya, if one goes on practising Yoga, one will be able to overcome the obstacles of sleep, memory, imagination and ambition. Such is the inner struggle of the Yogi who tries to practise concentration, meditation and trance. Minor obstacles come many times. Sometimes the Yogi thinks, “Oh, who knows? Years and years, why, my whole life I may have to struggle, and yet I may not reach anywhere. All my effort may be wasted. If I had continued in my career, by this time I might have become an Office Superintendent or a Director or something. Maybe, I made a very foolish choice in taking to the spiritual path”. He gets dejected. He begins to doubt whether all that he is doing is something really worthwhile or something that is foolish. That doubt comes. Sometimes, dejection comes. Sometimes, an unwillingness to make further effort—that also comes. Sometimes, a little bit of serenity, a little bit of peace, a little bit of happiness, some nice experience, some horripilation in the body. The Yogi experiences these and he thinks, “Ah, yes. This is Ananda; this is Brahmananda. I have attained that ultimate state”. And this idea makes the person gradually relax his efforts, makes the person feel that he has already reached the goal. Since he feels that he has reached the goal, where is the need for him to go on struggling? The Yogi then wants to become a Guru. Now he thinks, “I am a Siddha”. The mind deludes the student of Yoga through such false ideas. The Yogi must beware. He must always beware.

    And Gurudev Sivananda sometimes takes a very practical attitude towards these small things. He say that sometimes if you are dejected, depressed, you have no wish to sit, you have no spirit to sit for practice one day, you must be wise and use your common sense. Maybe, because the weather is cloudy, you have become dejected. Or, some previous Samskaras in the mind might have been aroused suddenly and might have caused dejection. Or you might have eaten too much at the Bhandara with resulting constipation or indigestion. If there is constipation or indigestion in the body, the mental mood also becomes affected. So, you must try to find out the cause of your depression before attempting to tackle it. If the cloudy weather is the cause of your depression, you may perhaps like to take a hot bath or a hot drink to cheer up the mind. If there is constipation, you may resort to some aid to relieve yourself of the load inside; then the mind will become clear. Once again your mood will be all right. So, try to use common sense. God has given you common sense. Be practical. Try to see what is the cause of the negative mood which is hampering your meditation and try to do the needful to counteract it and remove it. And thus, using common sense, using introspection, the power of self-analysis, finding out the cause of the various obstacles and praying to the Lord, praying to the Guru, keep on practising. Never leave the practice. Be at it always. Never come down from Vairagya. Let not the Vairagya be relaxed. Let it not be allowed to relax. It is of the utmost importance. Vairagya is of the utmost importance for success in Yoga Sadhana and Yogabhyasa. Abhyasa and Vairagya go together. You cannot separate them. One is supported by the other. It is a very important combination—Abhyasa and Vairagya.

    From Meditation to Trance

    Thus is the Antaranga Yoga. It starts with concentration. Again and again you try to concentrate; the mind moves away. You bring the mind back again and try to concentrate and again the mind moves away. Bring it back and again try to concentrate; and then, gradually, it progresses into a state of meditation or Dhyanavastha. And you diligently practise this Dhyanavastha so that you make it longer and longer. Prolong the period of meditation, and as you go on progressing in the period of meditation, you reach the Samadhi Avastha. And then, after that, you only have to go on practising Samadhi, go on practising Samadhi with Vairagya, Viveka and Vichara, unrelaxed, with great system and regularity. Always at the same time, you must come back to the seat of meditation. Every day you must set up a sort of inner rhythm, a psychical rhythm within, so that automatically when that time comes, your mind becomes Antarmukha, your entire mind becomes meditation-oriented. Because, our Svabhava, our constitutional system also, our nature also, is subject to discipline. So, setting a rhythm means that every day when your meditation time comes, morning or evening, automatically you are in a meditative mood. And you must take advantage of that mood. Always sit at the same place and time and make use of this meditative mood that comes due to the establishment of the rhythm in the inner psyche. Be very, very regular. If you do this, you can have rich benefits. And after having practised concentration and meditation, diligently and sincerely, with great earnestness and perseverance, one day you will get trance conditions. Then the great Masters say, “Do not miss this opportunity. When you come down from that trance condition, just take a notebook and observe and note down what all were the conditions that day, what food you ate, what time you sat for meditation, what was your mood, how you commenced the meditation, what Slokas you repeated, what Asana did you sit upon, and what thought-pattern you had just before sitting down for meditation. Think and note down all those factors that were present in that day’s meditation which ultimately took you on to a state of deep concentration and Samadhi. And try once again to create the same set of conditions that brought all this wonderful experience to you, and try to go into Samadhi once again. Try it again and again. Try to bring about all those conditions that prevailed at that time when you suddenly got deep concentration and deep meditation. In this way, using common sense and using observation, try to recreate the same favourable conditions for going into a state of unbroken meditation and merging it into a state of trance”.

    These are all the various hints given by the Masters to help the aspirant to progress in this area of Antaranga Yoga, a Yoga that comprises the three practices of concentration, meditation and trance, which ultimately take you to superconsciousness. And superconsciousness is the ultimate aim of Yoga.

    Philosophy, Phychology and Practice of Yoga -- | Preface | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 |17 | 18 | 19

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