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PART I
Introduction

What is Yoga?
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root Yuj meaning to bind,
join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to
use and apply. It also means union or communion. It is the true union
of our will with the will of God. ‘It thus means,’ says Mahadev Desai
in his introduction to the Gita according to Gandhi, ‘the yoking of all
the powers of body, mind, and soul to God; it means the disciplining of
the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will, which that Yoga l?presupposes;
it means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life
in all its aspects evenly.’
Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy. It was
collated, co-ordinated and systematised by PataiijiHi in his classical
work, the Yoga Sutras, which consists of 185 terse aphorisms. In Indian
thought, everything is permeated by the Supreme Universal Spirit
(Paramatma or God) of which the individual human spirit (j1vatma) is a
part. The system of yoga is so called because it teaches the means by
which the j1vatma can be united to, or be in communion with the
Paramatma, and so secure liberation (mok􀂚a).
One who follows the path of Yoga is a yogi or yogin.
In the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which is the most important
authority on Yoga philosophy, Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna the meaning
of Yoga as a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow. It is said :
‘When his mind, intellect and self (aharilkara) are under control, freed
from restless desire, so that they rest in the spirit within, a man becomes
a Yukta- one in communion with God. A lamp does not flicker in a
place where no winds blow; so it is with a yogi, who controls his mind,
intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him. When the
restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is stilled through the practice
of Yoga, the yogi by the grace of the Spirit within himself finds fulfilment.
Then he knows the joy eternal which is beyond the pale of the
senses which his reason cannot grasp. He abides in this reality and moves
not therefrom. He has found the treasure above all others. There is
nothing higher than this. He who has achieved it, shall not be moved by
the greatest sorrow. This is the real meaning of Yoga – a deliverance
from contact with pain and sorrow.’
20 Light on Yoga
As a well cut diamond has many facets, each reflecting a different
colour of light, so does the word yoga, each facet reflecting a different
shade of meaning and revealing different aspects of the entire range of
human endeavour to win inner peace and happiness.
The Bhagavad Gztii also gives other explanations of the term yoga and
lays stress upon Karma Yoga (Yoga by action). It is said: ‘Work alone
is your privilege, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action
be your motive; and never cease to work. Work in the name of the Lord,
abandoning selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure. This
equipoise is called Yoga.’
Yoga has also been described as wisdom in work or skilful living
amongst activities, harmony and moderation.
‘Yoga is not for him who gorges too much, nor for him who starves
himself. It is not for him who sleeps too much, nor for him who stays
awake. By moderation in eating and in resting, by regulation in working
and by concordance in sleeping and waking, Yoga destroys all pain and
sorrow.’
The Kathopanishad describes Yoga thus : ‘When the senses are stilled,
when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not-then, say the
wise, is reached the highest stage. This steady control of the senses and
mind has been defined as Yoga. He who attains it is free from delusion.’
In the second aphorism of the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras,
Patafi.jali describes Yoga as ‘chitta v􀃟tti nirodhah’. This may be translated
as the restraint (nirodhah) of mental (chitta) modifications (v􀃟tti)
or as suppression (nirodhah) of the fluctuations (vrtti) of consciousness
(chitta). The word chitta denotes the mind in its total or collective sense
as being composed of three categories: (a) mind (manas, that is, the
individual mind having the power and faculty of attention, selection and
rejection; it is the oscillating indecisive faculty of the mind) ; (b) intelligence
or reason (buddhi, that is, the decisive state which determines
the distinction between things) and (c) ego (aharilkara, literally the
1-maker, the state which ascertains that ‘I know’).
The word v􀃟tti is derived from the Sanskrit root v􀇽t meaning to turn,
to revolve, to roll on. It thus means course of action, behaviour, mode
of being, condition or mental state. Yoga is the method by which the
restless mind is calmed and the energy directed into constructive
channels. As a mighty river which when properly harnessed by dams
and canals, creates a vast reservoir of water, prevents famine and provides
abundant power for industry; so also the mind, when controlled,
provides a reservoir of peace and generates abundant energy for human
uplift.
lntroduct£on 21
The problem of controlling the mind is not capable of easy solution,
as borne out by the follow􀇾ng dialogue in the sixth chapter of the
Bhagavad Gfta. Arjuna asks Sri Krishna :
‘Krishna, you have told me of Yoga as a communion with Brahman (the
Universal Spirit), which is ever one. But how can this be permanent,
since the mind is so restless and inconsistent? The mind is impetuo􀇿s
and stubborn, strong and wilful, as difficult to harness as the wind.’ Sri
Krishna replies : ‘Undoubtedly, the mind is restless and hard to control.
But it can be trained by constant practice (abhyasa) and by freedom
from desire (vairagya). A man who cannot control his mind will find it
difficult to attain this divine communion; but the self-controlled man
can attain it if he tries hard and directs his energy by the right means.’
THE STAGES OF YOGA
The right means are just as important as the end in view. Pataiijali
enumerates these means as the eight limbs or stages of Yoga for the
quest of the soul. They are:
I. Yama (universal !.llOral commandments); 2. Niyama (self purification
by discipline) ; 3· Asana (posture); 4· Prat:J.ayama (rhythmic control
of the breath); 5 · Pratyahara (withdrawal and emancipation of the mind
from the domination of the senses and exterior objects); 6. Dharat:J.a
(concentration) ; 7· Dhyana (meditation) and 8. Samadhi (a state of
super-consciousness brought about by profound meditation, in which
the individual aspirant (sadhaka) becomes one with the object of his
meditation- Paramatma or the Universal Spirit).
Yama and Niyama control the yogi’s passions and emotions and keep

him in harmony with his fellow man. Asanas keep the body healthy and
strong and in harmony with nature. Finally, the yogi becomes free of
body consciousness. He conquers the body and renders it a fit vehicle
for the soul. The first three stages are the outward quests (bahiranga
sadhana).
The next two stages, Prat:J.ayama and Pracyahara, teach the aspirant
to regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind. This helps to
free the senses from the thraldom of the objects of desire. These two
stages of Yoga are known as the inner quests (antaranga sadhana).
Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi take the yogi into the innermost
recesses of his soul. The yogi does not look heavenward to find God.
He knows that HE is within, being known as the Antaratma (the Inner
Self). The last three stages keep him in harmony with himself and his
Maker. These stages are called antaratma sadhana, the quest of the
soul.
22 Light on Yoga
By profound meditation, the knower, the knowledge and the known
become one. The seer, the sight and the seen have no separate existence
from each other. It is like a great musician becoming one with his
instrument and the music that comes from it. Then, the yogi stands
in his own nature and realises his self (Atman), the part of the Supreme
Soul within himself.
There are different paths (margas) by which a man travels to his
Maker. The active man finds realisation through Karma Marga, in
which a man realises his own divinity through work and duty. The
emotional man finds it through Bhakti Marga, where there is realisation
through devotion to and love of a personal God. The intellectual
man pursues Jiiana Marga, where realisation comes through knowledge.
The meditative or reflective man follows Yoga Marga, and realises his
own divinity through control of the mind.
Happy is the man who knows how to distinguish the real from the
unreal, the eternal from the transient and the good from the pleasant by
his discrimination and wisdom. Twice blessed is he who knows true love
and can love all God’s creatures. He who works selflessly for the welfare
of others with love in his heart is thrice blessed. But the man who
combines within his mortal frame knowledge, love and selfless service
is holy and becomes a place of pilgrimage, like the confluence of the
rivers Ganga, Saraswati and Jam una. Those who meet him become
calm and purified.
Mind is the king of the senses. One who has conquered his mind,
senses, passions, thought and reason is a king among men. He is fit for
Raja Yoga, the royal union with the Universal Spirit. He has Inner
Light.
He who has conquered his mind is a Raja Yogi. The word raja means
a king. The expression Raja Yoga implies a complete mastery of the
Self. Though Pataiiiali explains the ways to control the mind, he nowhere
states in his aphorisms that this science is Raja Yoga, but calls it
A􀂚􀃠ailga Yoga or the eight stages (limbs) of Yoga. As it implies complete
mastery of the self one may call it the science of Raja Yoga.
Swatmarama, the author of the Hatha Yoga Pradzpika (hatha =force
or determined effort) called the same path Hatha Yoga because it
demanded rigorous discipline.
It is generally believed that Raja Yoga and Ha􀃠ha Yoga are entirely
distinct, different and opposed to each other, that the Yoga Sutras of
Pataiijali deal with Spiritual discipline and that the Hatha Yoga
Pradfpika of Swatmarama deals solely with physical discipline. It is not
so, for Ha􀃠ha Yoga and Raja Yoga complement each other and form a
single approach towards Liberation. As a mountaineer needs ladders,
ropes and crampons as well as physical fitness and discipline to climb
Introduction 23
the icy peaks of the Himalayas, so does the Yoga aspirant need the knowledge
and discipline of the Ha􀈀ha Yoga of Swatmarama to reach the
heights of Raja Yoga dealt with by Pataiijali.
This path of Yoga is the fountain for the other three paths. It brings
calmness and tranquillity and prepares the mind for absolute unqualified
self-surrender to God, in which all these four paths merge into one.
Chitta V􀋊tti (Causesfor the Modification of the Mind)
In his Yoga Sutras Pataiijali lists five classes of chitta vrtti which create
pleasure and pain. These are:
1. Pramax:ta (a standard or ideal), by which things or values are measured
by the mind or known, which men accept upon (a) direct evidence such
as perception (pratyak􀂚a), (b) inference (anumana) and (c) testimony or
the word of an acceptable authority when the source of knowledge has
been checked as reliable and trustworthy (agama).
2. Viparyaya (a mistaken view which is observed to be such after study).
A faulty medical diagnosis based on wrong hypotheses, or the formerly
held theory in astronomy that the Sun rotates round the Earth, are
examples of viparyaya.
3· Vikalpa (fancy or imagination, resting merely on verbal expression
without any factual basis). A beggar may feel happy when he imagines
himself spending millions. A rich miser, on the other hand, may starve
himself in the belief that he is poor.
4· Nidra (sleep), where there is the absence of ideas and experiences.
When a man is sleeping soundly, he does not recall his name, family or
status, his knowledge or wisdom, or even his own existence. When a man
forgets himself in sleep, he wakes up refreshed. But, if a disturbing
thought creeps into his mind when he is dropping off, he will not rest
properly.
5· Smrti (memory, the holding fast of the impressions of objects that
one has experienced). There are people who live in their past experiences,
even though the past is beyond recall. Their sad or happy
memories keep them chained to the past and they cannot break their
fetters.
Pataiijali enumerates five causes of chitta vrtti creating pain (klesa).
These are:
1. Avidya (ignorance or nescience) ; (2) asmita (the feeling of individuality
which limits a person and distinguishes him from a group and
which may be physical, mental, intellectual or emotional); (3) raga
24 Light on Yoga
(attachment or passion) ; (4) dve8a (aversion or revulsion) and (5)
abhinivesa (love of or thirst for life, the instinctive clinging to worldly
life and bodily enjoyment and the fear that one may be cut off from all
this by death). These causes of pain remain submerged in the mind of
the sadhaka (the aspirant or seeker). They are like icebergs barely showing
their heads in the polar seas. So long as they are not studiously
controlled and eradicated, there can be no peace. The yogi learns to
forget the past and takes no thought for the morrow. He lives in the
eternal present.
As a breeze ruffles the surface of a lake and distorts the images
reflected therein, so also the chitta v􀈁tti disturb the peace of the mind.
The still waters of a lake reflect the beauty around it. When the mind
is still, the beauty of the Self is seen reflected in it. The yogi stills his
mind by constant study and by freeing himself from desires. The eight
stages of Yoga teach him the way.
Chitta Vik􀂫epa (Distractions and Obstacles)
The distractions and obstacles which hinder the aspirant’s practice of
Yoga are :
I. Vyadhi – sickness which disturbs the physical equilibrium
2. Styana -languor or lack of mental disposition for work
3· Sarilsaya – doubt or indecision
4· Pramada- indifference or insensibility
5 . Alasya -laziness
6. A virati- sensuality, the rousing of desire when sensory objects
possess the mind
1· Bhranti Darsana – false or invalid knowledge, or illusion
8. Alabdha Bhumikatva- failure to attain continuity of thought or concentration
so that reality cannot be seen
9· Anavasthitattva-instability in holding on to concentration which has
been attained after long practice.
There are, however, four more distractions: ( I ) dul:tkha- pain or
misery, (2) daurmansya- despair, (3) ailgamejayatva- unsteadiness of
the body and (4) svasa-prasvasa – unsteady respiration.
To win a battle, a general surveys the terrain and the enemy and plans
counter-measures. In a similar way the Yogi plans the conquest of the
Self.
Vyadhi: It will be noticed that the very first obstacle is ill-health or
sickness. To the yogi his body is the prime instrument of attainment.
If his vehicle breaks down, the traveller cannot go far. If the body is
broken by ill-health, the aspirant can achieve little. Physical health is
Introduction 25
important for mental development, as normally the mind functions
through the nervous system. When the body is sick or the nervous
system is affected, the mind becomes restless or dull and inert and concentration
or meditation become impossible.
Styiina: A person suffering from languor has no goal, no path to follow
and no enthusiasm. His mind and intellect become dull due to inactivity
and their faculties rust. Constant flow keeps a mountain stream pure,
but water in a ditch stagnates and nothing good can flourish in it. A
listless person is like a living corpse for he can concentrate on nothing.
Samsaya: The unwise, the faithless and the doubter destroy themselves.
How can they enjoy this world or the next or have any happiness? The
seeker should have faith in himself and his master. He should have faith
that God is ever by his side and that no evil can touch him. As faith
springs up in the heart it dries out lust, ill-will, mental sloth, spiritual
pride and doubt, and the heart free from these hindrances becomes
serene and untroubled.
Pramada: A person suffering from pramada is full of self-importance,
lacks any humility and believes that he alone is wise. No doubt he knows
what is right or wrong, but he persists in his indifference to the right
and chooses what is pleasant. To gratify his selfish passions and dreams
of personal glory, he will deliberately and without scruple sacrifice
everyone who stands in his way. Such a person is blind to God’s glory
and deaf to His words.
Alasya: To remove the obstacle of laziness, unflagging enthusiasm
(v’frya) is needed. The attitude of the aspirant is like that of a lover ever
yearning to meet the beloved but never giving way to despair. Hope
should be his shield and courage his sword. He should be free from
hate and sorrow. With faith and enthusiasm he should overcome the
inertia of the body and the mind.
Avirati: This is the tremendous craving for sensory objects after they
have been consciously abandoned, which is so hard to restrain. Without
being attached to the objects of sense, the yogi learns to enjoy them
with the aid of the senses which are completely under his control. By
the practice of pratyahara he wins freedom from attachment and
emancipation from desire and becomes content and tranquil.
Bhranti Dar5ana: A person afflicted by false knowledge suffers from
delusion and believes that he alone has seen the true Light. He has a
26 Light on Yoga
powerful intellect but lacks humility and makes a show of wisdom. By
remaining in the company of great souls and through their guidance he
sets his foot firmly on the right path and overcomes his weakness.
Alabdha Bhumikatva: As a mountain climber falls to-reach the summit
for lack of stamina, so also a person who cannot overcome the inability
to concentrate is unable to seek reality. He might have had glimpses of
reality but he cannot see dearly. He is like a musician who has heard
divine music in a dream, but who is unable to recall it in his waking
moments and cannot repeat the dream.
Anavasthitattva: A person affected with anavasthitattva has by hard
work come within sight of reality. Happy and proud of his achievements
he becomes slack in his practice (sadhana). He has purity and great
power of concentration and has come to the final cross-roads of his quest.
Even at this last stage continuous endeavour is essential and he has to
pursue the path with infinite patience and determined perseverance and
must never sho􀕿 slackness which hampers progress on the path of God
realization. He must wait until divine grace descends upon him. It has
been said in the Ka!hopanishad: ‘The Self is not to be realised by study
and instruction, nor by subtlety of intellect, nor by much learning, but
only by him who longs for Him, by the one whom He chooses. Verily to
such a one the Self reveals His true being.’
To overcome the obstacles and to win unalloyed happiness, Pataiijali
offered several remedies. The best of these is the fourfold remedy of
Maitri (friendliness), Karm:ta (compassion), Mudita (delight) and
Upeksa (disregard).
Maitri is not merely friendliness, but also a feeling of onen,ess with
the object of friendliness (atmlyata). A mother feels intense happiness
at the success of her children because of atmlyata, a feeling of oneness.
Patafijali recommends maitri for sukha (happiness or virtue). The yogi
cultivates maitri and atmlyata for the good and turns enemies into
friends, bearing malice towards none.
Karut:a is not merely showing pity .or compassion and shedding tears
of despair at the misery (dulfkha) of others. It is compassion coupled
with devoted action to relieve the misery of the afflicted. The yogi uses
all his resources-physical, economic, mental or moral- to alleviate the
pain and suffering of others. He shares his strength with the weak until
they become strong. He shares his courage with those that are timid until
they become brave by his example. He denies the maxim of the ‘survival
of the fittest’, but makes the weak strong enough to survive. He becomes
a shelter to one and all.
Mudita is a feeling of delight at the good work (punya) done by
Introduction 27
another, even though he may be a rival. Through mudita, the yogi saves
himself from much heart-burning by not showing anger, hatred or
jealousy for another who has reached the desired goal which he himself
has failed to achieve.
Upek􀂗a: It is not merely a feeling of disdain or contempt for the
person who has fallen into vice (apul?-ya) or one of indifference or
􀚦uperiority towards him. It is a searching self-examination to find out
how one would have behaved when faced with the same temptations.
It is also an examination to see how far one is responsible for the state
into which the unfortunate one has fallen and the attempt thereafter
to put him on the right path. The yogi understands the faults of others
by seeing and studying them first in himself. This self-study teaches him
to be charitable to all.
The deeper significance of the fourfold remedy of maitri, karuna,
mudita and upek􀂗a cannot be felt by an unquiet mind. My experience
has led me to conclude that for an ordinary man or woman in any community
of the world, the way to achieve a quiet mind is to work with
determination on two of the eight stages of Yoga mentioned by
Pataiijali, namely, asana and pra1).ayama.
The mind (manas) and the breath (pra1).a) are intimately connected
and the activity or the cessation of activity of one affects the other.
Hence Pataiijali recommended pral?-ayama (rhythmic breath control) for
achieving mental equipoise and inner peace .
• Sisya and Guru (A Pupil and a Master)
• The Siva Samhitii divides sadhakas (pupils or aspirants) into four
classes. They are (1) m.fdu (feeble), (2) madhyama (average), (3)
adhimatra (superior) and (4) adhimatratama (the supreme one). The
last, the highest, is alone able to cross beyond the ocean of the manifest
world.
The feeble seekers are those who lack enthusiasm, criticise their
teachers, are rapacious, inclined to bad action, eat much, are in the power
of women, unstable, cowardly, ill, dependent, speak harshly, have weak
characters and lack virility. The Guru (Teacher or Master) guides such
seekers in the path of Mantra Yoga only. With much effort, the sadhaka
can reach enlightenment in twelve years. (The word mantra is derived
from the root ‘man’, meaning to think. Mantra thus means a sacred
thought or prayer to be repeated with full understanding of its meaning.
It takes a long time, perhaps years, for a mantra to take firm root in the
mind of a feeble sadhaka and still longer for it to bear fruit.)
Of even mind, capable of bearing hardship, wishing to perfect the
work, speaking gently, moderate in all circumstances, such is the
28 Light on Yoga
average seeker. Recognising these qualities, the Guru teaches him Laya
Yoga, which gives l iberation. (Laya means devotion, absorption or
dissolution.)
Of stable mind, capable of Laya Yoga, virile, independent, noble,
merciful, forgiving, truthful, brave, young, respectful, worshipping his
teacher, intent on the practice of Yoga, such is a superior seeker. He
can reach enlightenment after six years of practice. The Guru instructs
this forceful man in Ha􀆕ha Yoga.
Of great virility and enthusiasm, good looking, courageous, learned
in scriptures, studious, sane of mind, not melancholy, keeping young,
regular in food, with his senses under control, free from fear, clean,
skilful, generous, helpful to all, firm, intelligent, independent, forgiving,
of good character, of gentle speech and worshipping his Guru, such is
a supreme seeker, fit for all forms of Yoga. He can reach enlightenment
in three years.
Although the Siva Samhita and the Hafha Yoga Pradipika mention
the period of time within which success might be achieved, Pataiijali
nowhere lays down the time required to unite the individual soul with
the Divine Universal Soul. According to him abhyasa (constant and
determined practice) and vairagya (freedom from desires) make the
mind calm and tranquil. He defines abhyasa as effort of long duration,
without interruption, performed with devotion, which creates a firm
foundation.
The study of Yoga is not like work for a diploma or a university
degree by someone desiring favourable results in a stipulated time.
The obstacles, trials and tribulations in the path of Yoga can be
removed to a large extent with the help of a Guru. (The syllable gu
means darkness and ru means light. He alone is a Guru who removes
darkness and brings enlightenment.) The conception of a Guru is deep
and significant. He is not an ordinary guide. He is a spiritual teacher
who teaches a way of life, and not merely how to earn a livelihood.
He transmits knowledge of the Spirit and one who receives such
knowledge is a si􀄱ya, a disciple.
The relationship between a Guru and a si􀄱ya is a very special one,
transcending that between parent and child, husband and wife or
friends. A Guru is free from egotism. He devotedly leads his sisya
towards the ultimate goal without any attraction for fame or gain. He
shows the path of God and watches the progress of his disciple, guiding
him along that path. He inspires confidence, devotion, discipline, deep
understanding and illumination through love. With faith in his pupil,
the Guru strains hard to see that he absorbs the teaching. He encourages
him to ask questions and to know the truth by question and
analysis.
Introduction 29
A si􀄱ya should possess the necessary qualifications of higher
realisation and development. He must have confidence, devotion and
love for his Guru. The perfect examples of the relationship between a
Guru and a sisya are those of Yama (the God of Death) and Nachiketa
in the Ka􀎾hopani􀆃ad and of Sri Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad
Gftii. Nachiketa and Arjuna obtained enlightenment through their
one-pointed mind, their eagerness and questioning spirit. The si􀄱ya
should hunger for knowledge and have the spirit of humility, perseverance
and tenacity of purpose. He should not go to the Guru merely
out of curiosity. He should possess sraddha (dynamic faith) and should
not be discouraged if he cannot reach the goal in the time he had expected.
It requires tremendous patience to calm the restless mind
which is coloured by innumerable past experiences and samskara (the
accumulated residue of past thoughts and actions).
Merely listening to the words of the Guru does not enable the sisya
to absorb the teaching. This is borne out by the story of lndra and
Virochana. Indra, the king of Gods, and Virochana, a demon prince,
went together to their spiritual preceptor Brahma to obtain knowledge
of the Supreme Self. Both stayed and listened to the same
words of their Guru. Indra obtained enlightenment, whereas Virochana
did not. Indra’s memory was developed by his devotion to _the subject
taught and by the love and faith which he had for his teacher. He had
a feeling of oneness with his Guru. These were the reasons for his
success. Virochana’s memory was developed only through his intellect.
He had no devotion either for the subject taught or for his preceptor.
He remained what he originally was, an intellectual giant. He returned
a doubter. Indra had intellectual humility, while Virochana had intellectual
pride and imagined that it was condescending on his part to go
to Brahma. The approach of lndra was devotional while that of
Virochana was practical. Virochana was motivated by curiosity and
wanted the practical knowledge which he believed would be useful to
him later to win power.
The si􀂗ya should above all treasure love, moderation and humility.
Love begets courage, moderation creates abundance and humility
generates power. Courage without love is brutish. Abundance without
moderation leads to over-indulgence and decay. Power without humility
breeds arrogance and tyranny. The true si􀄱ya learns from his Guru
about a power which will never leave him as he returns to the
Primeval One, the Source of His Being.
SCidhana (A Key to Freedom)
All the important texts on Yoga lay great emphasis on sadhana or
abhyasa (constant practice). Sadhana is not just a theoretical study
30 Light on Yoga
of Yoga texts. It is a spiritual endeavour. Oil seeds must be pressed
to yield oil. Wood must be heated to ignite it and bring out the hidden
fire within. In the same way, the sadhaka must by constant practice
light the divine flame within himself.
‘The young, the old, the extremely aged, even the sick and the infirm
obtain perfection in Yoga by constant practice. Success will
follow him who practises, not him who practises not. Success in Yoga
is not obtained by the mere theoretical reading of sacred texts. Success
is not obtained by wearing the dress of a yogi or a sanyasi (a recluse),
nor by talking about it. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.
Verily, there is no doubt of this.’ – (Ha!ha Yoga Pradipikii, chapter I,
verses 64- 6.)
‘As by learning the alphabet one can, through practice, rnaster all
the sciences, so by thoroughly practising first physical training one
acquires the knowledge of Truth (Tattva Jna11a), that is the real nature
of the human soul as being identical with the Supreme Spirit pervading
the Universe.’- (GherarJ4 a Samhitii, chapter I, verse 5 . )
It is by the co-ordinated and concentrated efforts of his body, senses,
mind, reason and Self that a man obtains the prize of inner peace and
fulfils the quest of his soul to meet his Maker. The supreme adventure
in a man’s life is his journey back to his Creator. To reach the goal
he needs well developed and co-ordinated functioning of his body,
senses, mind, reason and Self. If the effort is not co-ordinated, he fails
in his adventure. In the third valli (chapter) of the first part of the
Kafhopani􀆃ad, Yama (the God of Death) explains this Yoga to the
seeker Nachiketa by way of the parable of the individual in a chariot.
‘Know the Atman (Self) as the Lord in a chariot, reason as the
charioteer and mind as the reins. The senses, they say, are the horses,
and their objects of desire are the pastures. The Self, when united
with the senses and the mind, the wise call the Enjoyer (Bhokt􀊼). The
undiscriminating can never rein in his mind; his senses are like the
vicious horses of a charioteer. The discriminating ever controls his
mind ; his senses are like disciplined horses. The undiscriminating
becomes unmindful, ever impure; he does not reach the goal, wandering
from one body to another. The discriminating becomes mindful,
ever pure; he reaches the goal and is never reborn. The man who has
a discriminating charioteer to rein in his mind reaches the end of the
journey – the Supreme Abode of the everlasting Spirit.’
‘The senses are more powerful than the objects of desire. Greater
than the senses is the mind, higher than the mind is the reason and
superior to reason is He-the Spirit in all. Discipline yourself by the
Self and destroy your deceptive enemy in the shape of desire.’
(Bhagavad Gzta, chapter III, verses 42-3.)
Introduction 3 1
To realise this not only constant practice is demanded but also
renunciation. As regards renunciation, the question arises as to what
one should renounce. The yogi does not renounce the world, for that
would mean renouncing the Creator. The yogi renounces all that
takes him away from the Lord. He renounces his own desires, knowing
that all inspiration and right action come from the Lord. He renounces
those who oppose the work of the Lord, those who spread demonic
ideas and who merely talk of moral values but do not practise them.
The yogi does not renounce action. He cuts the bonds that tie himself
to his actions by dedicating their fruits either to the Lord or to
humanity. He believes that it is his privilege to do his duty and that
he has no right to the fruits of his actions.
While others are asleep when duty calls and wake up only to claim
their rights, the yogi is fully awake to his duty, but asleep over his
rights. Hence it is said that in the night of all beings the disciplined
and tranquil man wakes to the light.
Astiiizga Yoga – The Eight Limbs of Yoga
The Yoga Sutra of Pataiijali is divided into four chapters or pada. The
first deals with samadhi, the second with the means (sadhana) to
achieve Yoga, the third enumerates the powers (vibhiiti) that the yogi
comes across in his quest, and the fourth deals with absolution
(kaivalya).
Yama
The eight limbs of Yoga are described in the second chapter. The first
of these is yam a (ethical disciplines) – the great commandments
transcending creed, country, age and time. They are : ahimsa (nonviolence),
satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya
(continence) and aparigraha (non-coveting). These commandments are
the rules of morality for society and the individual, which if not obeyed
bring chaos, violence, untruth, stealing, dissipation and covetousness.
The roots of these evils are the emotions of greed, desire and attachment,
which may be mild, medium or excessive. They only bring pain
and ignorance. Pataiijali strikes at the root of these evils by changing
the direction of one’s thinking along the five principles of yama.
Ahimsii. The word ahimsa is made up of the particle ‘a’ meaning ‘not’
and the noun himsa meaning killing or violence. It is more than a
negative command not to kill, for it has a wider positive meaning, love.
This love embraces all creation for we are all children of the same
Father- the Lord. The yogi believes that to kill or to destroy a thing or
being is to insult its Creator. Men either kill for food or to protect
32 Light on Yoga
themselves from danger. But merely because a man is a vegetarian,
it does not necessarily follow that he is non-violent by temperament
or that he is a yogi, though a vegetarian diet is a necessity for the
practice of yoga. Blood-thirsty tyrants may be vegetarians, but violence
is a state of mind, not of diet. It resides in a man’s mind and not in the
instrument he holds in his hand. One can use a knife to pare fruit or to
stab an enemy. The fault is not in the instrument, but in the user.
Men ·take to violence to protect their own interests- their own
bodies, their loved ones, their property or dignity. But a man cannot
rely upon himself alone to protect himself or others. The belief that
he can do so is wrong. A man must rely upon God, who is the source
of all strength. Then he will fear no evil.
Violence arises out of fear, weakness, ignorance or restlessness. To
curb it what is most needed is freedom from fear. To gain this
freedom, what is required is a change of outlook on life and reorientation
of the mind. Violence is bound to decline when men learn to base
their faith upon reality and investigation rather than upon ignorance and
supposition.
The yogi believes that every creature has as much right to live
as he has. He believes that he is born to help others and he looks upon
creation with eyes of love. He knows that his life is linked inextricably
with that of others and he rejoices if he can help them to be happy.
He puts the happiness of others before his own and becomes a source
of joy to all who meet him. As parents encourage a baby to walk the
first steps, he encourages those more unfortunate than himself and
makes them fit for survival.
For a wrong done by others, men demand ;ustice ; while for that
done by themselves they plead mercy and forgiveness. The yogi on
the other hand, believes that for a wrong done by himself, there should
be justice, while for that done !:>y another there should be forgiveness.
He knows and teaches others how to live. Always striving to perfect
himself, he shows them by his love and compassion how to improve
themselves.
The yogi opposes the evil in the wrong-doer, but not the wrongdoer.
He prescribes penance not punishment for a wrong done. Opposition
to evil and love for the wrong-doer can live side by side. A
drunkard’s wife whilst loving him may still oppose his habit. Opposition
without love leads to violence; loving the wrong-doer without
opposing the evil in him is folly and leads to misery. The yogi knows
that to love a person whilst fighting the evil in him is the right course
to follow. The battle is won because he fights it with love. A loving
mother will sometimes beat her child to cure it of a bad habit; in the
same way a true follower of ahimsa loves his opponent.
Introduction 33
Along with ahimsa go abhaya (freedom from fear) and akrodha
(freedom from anger). Freedom from fear comes only to those who
lead a pure life. The yogi fears none and none need fear him, because
he is purified by the study of the Self. Fear grips a man and paralyses
him. He is afraid of the future, the unknown and the unseen. He is
afraid that he may lose his means of livelihood, wealth or reputation.
But the greatest fear is that of death. The yogi knows that he is
different from his body, which is a temporary house for his spirit.
He sees all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings and therefore
he loses all fear. Though the body is subject to sickness, age, decay
and death, the spirit remains unaffected. To the yogi death is the sauce
that adds zest to life. He has dedicated his mind, his reason and his
whole life to the Lord. When he has linked his entire being to the
Lord, what shall he then fear?
There are two types of anger (krodha), one of which debases the
mind while the other leads to spiritual growth. The root of the first is
pride, which makes one angry when slighted. This prevents the mind
from seeing things in perspective and makes one’s judgement defective.
The yogi, on the other hand, is angry with himself when his mind
stoops low or when all his learning and experience fail to stop him
from folly. He is stern with himself when he deals with his own faults,
but gentle with the faults of others. Gentleness of mind is an attribute
of a yogi, whose heart melts at all suffering. In him gentleness for others
and firmness for himself go hand in hand, and in his presence all
hostilities are given up.
Satya. Satya or truth is the highest rule of conduct or morality.
Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘Truth is God and God is Truth., As fire burns
impurities and refines gold, so the fire of truth cleanses the yogi and
burns up the dross in him.
If the mind thinks thoughts of truth, if the tongue speaks words
of truth and if the whole life is. based upon truth, then one becomes fit
for union with the Infinite. Reality in its fundamental nature is love
and truth and expresses itself through these two aspects. The yogi’s
life must conform strictly to these two facets of Reality. That is why
ahimsa, which is essentially based on love, is enjoined. Satya presupposes
perfect truthfulness in thought, word and deed. Untruthfulness
in any form puts the sadhaka out of harmony with the fundamental
law of truth.
Truth is not limited to speech alone. There are four sins of speech:
abuse and obscenity, dealing in falsehoods, calumny or telling tales
and lastly ridiculing what others hold to be sacred. The tale bearer
is more poisonous than a snake. The control of speech leads to the
34 Light on Yoga
rooting out of malice. When the mind bears malice towards none, it is
filled with charity towards all. He who has learnt to control his tongue
has attained self-control in a great measure. When such a person
speaks he will be heard with respect and attention. His words will be
remembered, for they will be good and true.
When one who is established in truth prays with a pure heart, then
things he really needs come to him when they are really needed: he
does not have to run after them. The man firmly established in truth
gets the fruit of his actions without a!’parently doing anything. God,
the source of all truth, supplies his needs and looks after his welfare.
Asteya. The desire to possess and enjoy what another has, drives a
person to do evil deeds. From this desire spring the urge to steal and
the urge to covet. Asteya (a= not, steya=stealing), or non-stealing
includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission,
but also using something for a different purpose to that intended, or
beyond the time permitted by its owner. It thus includes misappropriation,
breach of trust, mismanagement and misuse. The yogi reduces
his physical needs to the minimum, believing that if he gathers things
he does not really need, he is a thief. While other men crave for wealth,
power, fame or enjoyment, the yogi has one craving and that is to adore
the Lord. Freedom from craving enables one to ward off great temptations.
Craving muddies the stream of tranquillity. It makes men base
and vile and cripples them. He who obeys the commandment Thou
shalt not steal, becomes a trusted repository of all treasures.
Brahmacharya. According to the dictionary brahmacharya means the
life of celibacy, religious study and self-restraint. It is thought that
the loss of semen leads to death and its retention to life. By the
preservation of semen the yogi’s body develops a sweet smell. So long
as it is retained, there is no fear of death. Hence the injunction that it
should be preserved by concentrated effort of the mind. The concept
of brahmacharya is not one of negation, forced austerity and prohibition.
According to Sankaracharya, a brahmachar1 (one who observes
brahmacharya) is a man who is engrossed in the study of the sacred
Vedic lore, constantly moves in Brahman and knows that all exists in
Brahman. In other words, one who sees divinity in all is a
brahmacharl. Pataiijali, however, lays stress on continence of the body,
speech and mind. This does not mean that the philosophy of Yoga is
meant only for celibates. Brahmacharya has little to do with whether
one is a bachelor or married and living the life of a householder. One
has to translate the higher aspects of Brahmacharya in one’s daily living.
It is not necessary for one’s salvation to stay unmarried and without
Introduction 35
a house. On the contrary, all the sm􀞏tls (codes of law) recommend
marriage. Without experiencing human love and happiness, it is not
possible to know divine love. Almost all the yogis and sages of old in
India were married men with families of their own. They did not
shirk their social or moral responsibilities. Marriage and parenthood
are no bar to the knowledge of divine love, happiness and union with
the Supreme Soul.
Dealing with the position of an aspirant who is a householder, the
Siva Samhita says: Let him practise free from the company of men in
a retired place. For the sake of appearances, he should remain in
society, but not have his heart in it. He should not renounce the duties
of his profession, caste or rank; but let him perform these as an instrument
of the Lord, without any thought of the results. He succeeds
by following wisely the method of Yoga; there is no doubt of it. Remaining
in the midst of the family, always doing the duties of the householder,
he who is free from merits and demerits and has restrained
his senses, attains salvation. The householder practising Yoga is not
touched by virtue or vice; if to protect mankind he commits any sin,
he is not polluted by it. (Chapter V, verses 234-8.)
When one is established in brahmacharya, one develops a fund of
vitality and energy, a courageous mind and a powerful intellect so
that one can fight any type of injustice. The brahmacharl will use the
forces he generates wisely: he will utilise the physical ones for doing
the work of the Lord, the mental for the spread of culture and the
intellectual for the growth of spiritual life. Brahmacharya is the battery
that sparks the torch of wisdom.
Aparigraha. Parigraha means hoarding or collecting. To be free from
hoarding is aparigraha. It is thus but another facet of asteya (nonstealing).
Just as one should not take things one does not really need,
so one should not hoard or collect things one does not require immediately.
Neither should one take anything without working for it
or as a favour from another, for this indicates poverty of spirit. The
yogi feels that the collection or hoarding of things implies a lack of
faith in God and in himself to provide for his future. He keeps faith
by keeping before him the image of the moon. During the dark half of
the month, the moon rises late when most men are asleep and so
do not appreciate its beauty. Its splendour wanes but it does not stray
from its path and is indifferent to man’s lack of appreciation. It has
faith that it will be full again when it faces the Sun and then men
will eagerly await its glorious rising.
By the observance of aparigraha, the yogi makes his life as simple
as possible and trains his mind not to feel the loss or the lack of any36
Light on Yoga
thing. Then everything he really needs will come to him by itself at the
· proper time. The life of an ordinary man is filled with an unending
series of disturbances and frustrations and with his reactions to them.
Thus there is hardly any possibility of keeping the mind in a state of
equilibrium. The sadhaka has developed the capacity to remain satisfied
with whatever happens to him. Thus he obtains the peace which takes
him beyond the realms of illusion and misery with which our world , is saturated. He recalls the promise given by Sri Krishna to Arjuna
in the ninth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita : ‘To those who worship
Me alone with single-minded devotion, who are in harmony with Me
every moment, I bring full security. I shall supply all their wants and
shall protect them for ever.’
Niyama
Niyama are the rules of conduct that apply to individual discipline,
while yama are universal in their application. The five niyama listed
by Pataiijali are: saucha (purity), santo􀅵a (contentment), tapas (ardour
or austerity), svadhyaya (study of the Self) and ISvara pranidhana
(dedication to the Lord).
Saucha. Purity of body is essential for well-being. While good habits
like bathing purify the body externally, asana and prii!.fiiyama cleanse
it internally. The practice of asanas tones the entire body and removes
the toxins and impurities caused by over-indulgence. Prii!.fiiyama
cleanses and aerates the lungs, oxygenates the blood and purifies the
nerves. But more important than the physical cleansing of the body
is the cleansing of the mind of its disturbing emotions like hatred,
passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride. Still more important
is the cleansing of the intellect (buddhi) of impure thoughts. The
impurities of the mind are washed off in the waters of bhakti
(adoration). The impurities of the intellect or reason are burned off
in the fire of svadhyaya (study of the Self). This internal cleansing
gives radiance and joy. It brings benevolence (saumanasya) and banishes
mental pain, dejection, sorrow and despair ( daurmanasya). When one
is benevolent, one sees the virtues in others and not merely their faults.
The respect which one shows for another’s virtues, makes him selfrespecting
as well and helps him to fight his own sorrows and difficulties.
When the mind is lucid, it is easy to make it one-pointed
(ekagra). With concentration, one obtains mastery over the senses
(indriya-jaya). Then one is ready to enter the temple of his own body
and see his real self in the mirror of his mind.
Besides purity of body, thought and word, pure food is also necessary.
Apart from cleanliness in the preparation of food it is also
Introduction 37
necessary to observe purity m the means by which one procures
it.
Food, the supporting yet consuming substance of all life, is regarded
as a phase of Brahman. It should be eaten with th.e feeling that with
each morsel one can gain strength to serve the Lord. Then food
becomes pure. Whether or not to be a vegetarian is a purely personal
matter as each person is influenced by the tradition and habits of the
country in which he was born and bred. But, in course of time, the
practitioner of yoga has to adopt a vegetarian diet, in order to attain
one-pointed attention and spiritual evolution.
Food should be taken to promote health, strength, energy and life.
It should be simple, nourishing, juicy and soothing. Avoid foods which
are sour, bitter, salty, pungent, burning, stale, tasteless, heavy and
unclean.
Character is moulded by the type of food we take and by how we
eat it. Men are the only creatures that eat when not hungry and
generally live to eat rather than eat to live. If we eat for flavours of
the tongue, we over-eat and so suffer from digestive disorders which
throw our systems out of gear. The yogi believes in harmony, so he
eats for the sake of sustenance only. He does not eat too much or too
little. He looks upon his body as the rest-house of his spirit and
guards himself against over-indulgence.
Besides food, the place is also important for spiritual practices. It is
difficult to practise in a distant country (away from home), in a forest,
in a crowded city, or where it is noisy. One should choose a place
where food is easily procurable, a place which is free from insects,
protected from the elements and with pleasing surroundings. The banks
of a lake or river or the sea-shore are ideal. Such quiet ideal places
are hard to find in modern times; but one can at least make a corner
in one’s room available for practice and keep it clean, airy, dry and
pest-free.
Santos. a. Santos. a or contentment has to be cultivated. A mind that is
not content cannot concentrate. The yogi feels the lack of nothing and
so he is naturally content. Contentment gives bliss unsurpassed to the
yogi. A contented man is complete for he has known the love of the
Lord and has done his duty. He is blessed for he has known truth
and joy.
Contentment and tranquillity are states of mind. Differences arise
among men because of race, creed, wealth and learning. Differences
create discord and there arise conscious or unconscious conflicts which
distract and perplex one. Then the mind cannot become one-pointed
(ekagra) and is robbed of its peace. There is contentment and tranquillity
38 Light on Yoga
when the flame of the spirit does not waver in the wind of desire.
The sadhaka does not seek the empty peace of the dead, but the peace
of one whose reason is firmly established in God.
Tapas. Tapas is derived from the root ‘tap’ meaning to blaze, bum,
shine, suffer pain or consume by heat. It therefore means a burning
effort under all circumstances to achieve a definite goal in life. It involves
purification, self-discipline and austerity. The whole science of character
building may be regarded as a practice of tapas.
Tapas is the conscious effort to achieve ultimate union with the
Divine and to burn up all desires which stand in the way of this goal.
A worthy aim makes life illumined, pure and divine. Without such
an aim, action and prayer have no value. Life without tapas, is like
a heart without love. Without tapas, the mind cannot reach up to the
Lord.
Tapas is of three types. It may relate to the body (kayika), to speech
(vachika) or to mind (manasika). Continence (brahmacharya) and nonviolence
(ahimsa) are tapas of the body. Using words which do not
offend, reciting the glory of God, speaking the truth without regard
for the consequences to oneself and not speaking ill of others are tapas
of speech. Developing a mental attitude whereby one remains tranquil
and balanced in joy and sorrow and retains self-control are tapas of
the mind.
It is tapas when one works without any selfish motive or hope of
reward and with an unshakable faith that not even a blade of grass can
move without His will.
By tapas the yogi develops strength in body, mind and character.
He gains courage and wisdom, integrity, straightforwardness and
simplicity.
Svadhyaya. Sva means self and adhyaya means study or education.
Education is the drawing out of the best that is within a person.
Svadhyaya, therefore, is the education of the self.
Svadhyaya is different from mere instruction like attending a lecture
where the lecturer parades his own learning before the ignorance of
his audience. When people meet for svadhyaya, the speaker and listener
are of one mind and have mutual love and respect. There is no sermonising
and one heart speaks to another. The ennobling thoughts that arise
from svadhyaya are, so to speak, taken into one’s bloodstream so that
they become a part of one’s life and being.
The person practising svadhyaya reads his own book of life, at the
same time that he writes and revises it. There is a change in his outlook
on life. He starts to realise that all creation is meant for bhakti
Introduction 39
(rdoration) rather than for bhoga (enjoyment), that all creation is
divine, that there is divinity within himself and that the energy which
moves him is the same that moves the entire universe.
According to Sri Vinoba Bhave (the leader of the Bhoodan movement),
svadhyaya is the study of one subject which is the basis or root
of all other subjects or actions, upon which the others rest, but which
itself does not rest upon anything.
To make life healthy, happy and peaceful, it is essential to study
regularly divine literature in a pure place. This study of the sacred
books of the world will enable the sadhaka to concentrate upon and
solve the difficult problems of life when they arise. It will put an end
to ignorance and bring knowledge. Ignorance has no beginning, but
it has an end. There is a beginning but no end to knowledge. By
svadhyaya the sadhaka understands the nature of his soul and gains
communion with the divine. The sacred books of the world are for all
to read. They are not meant for the members of one particular faith
alone. As bees savour the nectar in various flowers, so the sadhaka
absorbs things in other faiths which will enable him to appreciate his
own faith better.
Philology is not a language but the science of languages, the study
of which will enable the student to learn his own language better.
Similarly, Yoga is not a religion by itself. It is the science of religions,
the study of which will enable a sadhaka the better to appreciate his
own faith.
/Svara pranidhiina. Dedication to the Lord of one’s actions and will is
– . ISvara praJ?.idhana. He who has faith in God does not despair. He has
illumination (tejas). He who knows that all creation belongs to the
Lord will not be puffed up with pride or drunk with power. He will
not stoop for selfish purposes; his head will bow only in worship.
When the waters of bhakti (adoration) are made to flow through the
turbines of the mind, the result is mental power and spiritual illumination.
While mere physical strength without bhakti · is lethal, mere
adoration without strength of character is like an opiate. Addiction to
pleasures destroys both power and glory. From the gratification of the
senses as they run after pleasures arise moha (attachment) and lobha
(greed) for their repetition. If the senses are not gratified, then, there
is soka (sorrow). They have to be curbed with knowledge and forbearance;
but to control the mind is more difficult. After one has exhausted
one’s own resources and still not succeeded, one turns to the Lord for
help for He is the source of all power. It is at this stage that bhakti
begins. In bhakti, the mind, the intellect and the will are surrendered
to the Lord and the sadhaka prays : ‘I do not know what is good for
40 Light on Yoga
me. Thy will be done.’ Others pray to have their own desires gratified
or accomplished. In bhakti or true love there is no place for ‘I’ and
‘mine’. When the feeling of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ disappears, the individual
soul has reached full growth.
When the mind has been emptied of desires of personal gratification,
it should be filled with thoughts of the Lord. In a mind filled
with thoughts of personal gratification, there is danger of the senses
dragging the mind after the objects of desire. Attempts to practise
bhakti without emptying the mind of desires is like building a fire
with wet fuel. It makes a lot of smoke and brings tears to the eyes of
the person who builds it and of those around him. A mind with desires
does not ignite and glow, nor does it generate light and warmth when
touched with ti􀞐e fire of knowledge.
The name of the Lord is like the Sun, dispelling all darkness. The
moon is full when it faces the sun. The individual soul experiences
fullness (piir􀊂ata) when it faces the Lord. If the shadow of the earth
comes between the full moon and the sun there is an eclipse. If the
feeling of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ casts its shadow upon the experience of fullness,
all efforts of the sadhaka to gain peace are futile.
Actions mirror a man’s personality better than his words. The yogi
has learnt the art of dedicating all his actions to the Lord and so
they reflect the divinity within him.
A sana
The third limb of yoga is asana or posture. Asana brings steadiness,
health and lightness of limb. A steady and pleasant po􀞑ture produces
mental equilibrium and prevents fickleness of mind. Asanas are not
merely gymnastic exercises; they are postures. To perform them one
needs a clean airy place, a blanket and determination, while for other
systems of physical training one needs large playing fields and costly
equipment. Asanas can be done alone, as the limbs of the body provide
the necessary weights and counter-weights. By practising them
on􀞒 develops agility, balance, endurance and great vitality.
Asanas have been evolved over the centuries so as to exercise every
muscle, nerve and gland in the body. They secure a fine physique,
which is strong and elastic without being muscle-bound and they keep
the body free from disease. They reduce fatigue and soothe the nerves.
But their real importance lies in the way they train and discipline the
mind.
Many actors, acrobats, athletes, dancers, musicians and sportsmen
also possess superb physiques and have great control over the
body, but they lack control over the mind, the intellect and the Self.
Hence they are in disharmony with themselves and one rarely comes
Introduction 41
across a balanced personality among them. They often put the body
above all else. Though the yogi does not underrate his body, he does
not think merely of its perfection but of his senses, mind, intellect and
soul.
The yogi conquers the body by the practice of asanas and makes it
a fit vehicle for the spirit. He knows that it is a necessary vehicle
for the spirit. A soul without a body is like a bird deprived of its
power to fly.
The yogi does not fear death, for time must take its toll of all flesh.
He knows that the body is constantly changing and is affected by
childhood, youth and old age. Birth and death are natural phenomena
but the soul is not subject to birth and death. As a man casting off
worn-out garments takes on new ones, so the dweller within the body
casting aside worn-out bodies enters into others that are new.
The yogi believes that his body has been given to him by the Lord
not for enjoyment alone, but also for the service of his fellow men
during every wakeful moment of his life. He does not consider it his
property. He knows that the Lord who has given him his body will one
day take it away.
By performing asanas, the sadhaka first gains health, which is not
mere existence. It is not a commodity which can be purchased with
money. It is an asset to be gained by sheer hard work. It is a state of
complete equilibrium of body, mind and spirit. Forgetfulness of
physical and mental consciousness is health. The yogi frees himself
from physical disabilities and mental distractions by practising asanas.
He surrenders his actions and their fruits to the Lord in the service
of the world.
The yogi realises that his life and all its activities are part of the
divine action in nature, manifesting and operating in the form of man.
In the beating of his pulse and the rhythm of his respiration, he
recognises the flow of the seasons and the throbbing of universal life.
His body is a temple which houses the Divine Spark. He feels that to
neglect or to deny the needs of the body and to think of it as something
not divine, is to neglect and deny the universal life of which it
is a part. The needs of the body are the needs of the divine spirit
which lives through the body. The yogi does not look heaven-ward
to find God for he knows that He is within, being known as the
Antaratma (the Inner Self). He feels the kingdom of God within and
without and finds that heaven lies in himself.
Where does the body end and the mind begin? Where does the
mind end and the spirit begin? They cannot be divided as they are
inter-related and but different aspects of the same all-pervading divine
consciousness.

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