The Concept of Raja-yoga
The meaning of the work yoga, as prevalent in common, is 'total', 'to add', 'to unite'. But when we look for the root meaning of this word in sanskrit root dictionary (Dhatu Patha), we find that this word means 'Samadhi' (super conciousness), 'to control the mind', the ways and means of controlling the mind'. This yogic meaning of the word is in consonance with the definition of 'yoga' given by the Maha Rishi Patanjali in his 'Yoga-Sutra,' in which he has stated that yoga means controlling the mind from taking various forms (Chitta Vritti Nirodha) and the system prescribed for controlling the mind-stuff is eight limbed (Astang-yoga), the Samadhi is the final and eighth one of them.
By studying the aphorism of Patanjali- The 'Patanjala Yoga-Sutra' - which indicates eight ways for controlling the mind, it appears that in the times of Patanjali (or in his view) quite a large number of methods of yoga were prevalent. We find description of Bhakti-yoga and Jnana-yoga in the main text of Srimad Bhagawad Gita and also find that at the end of each of the eighteen chapters of Gita, the chapter has been given a name of a yoga in the colophon of each chapter as under, according to the subject matter of the chapter:
1. Vishad yoga, 2. Sankhya yoga, 3. Karma yoga, 4. Jnana Karma Sanyasa yoga, 5. Karma Sanyasa yoga, 6. Atma Sanyama yoga, 7. Jnana yoga, 8. Akshar Brahma yoga, 9. Raja Vidya Raja guhya yoga, 10. Vibhuti yoga, 11. Vishvaroopadarshan yoga, 12. Bhakti yoga, 13. Kshetra Kshetrajna yoga, 14. Gunatraya Vibhaga yoga, 15. Purushottama yoga, 16. Devasurasampad Vibhaga yoga, 17. Shraddhatraya Vibhaga yoga and 18. Moksha sanyas yoga.
From this we can conclude that there were quite a large number of system, methods and traditions of yoga prevalent in ancient times and Raja yoga is the subject of this book.
The term Raja yoga has been used by the followers of different traditions of yoga for their system as practiced by them since the medieval ages, but it is very difficult to say when this word first came in use and for which system of yoga. We find this word, Raja-yoga in 'Dattatreya yoga Shastra', 'Yogabija', Yoga-shikhopanishad, Yoga-tattvopanishad, Amanaska yoga, Gherand Samhita Hatha yoga-pradipika etc. The text of Hatha yoga pradipika by Swatmarama is dated between the middle of 14th century and the middle of the 16th century (1350-1550) A.D. and we find mention of Raja-yoga in its fifteen stangas and this is considered to be the minimum mention as compared with other works referred to above. In Yoga-Tattvopanishad we find its mention as one of the different system of yoga. In the same way we see in Dattatreya-yoga-Sastra that Raja-yoga has been enumerated as one of the systems of yoga and considered to be the best of the all other systems. In addition to that it has also been stated there in that after attaining mastery in Raja yoga in the Yoga Shikhopanished (1.16, 1.37) yogabija (271,291), Amanaska yoga (2.3,4; 5,6,2) and Gherand samhita (7.7) but the periods of these texts are not yet decided though it is said that all of them appear to be older than the Hatha yoga pradipika of Swatmarama. However on the basis of these texts we do not get any help in deciding Chronologey of the term Raja-yoga.
In 'Amnaska yoga', whose author is unknown, two origins of the word Raja-yoga have been given and the Amanaska Yoga itself has been declared as Raja-yoga (the king of all yogas), firstly because by this yoga, the immutable, imperishable, indestructible, eternal, immanent Lord supreme is attainable and secondly because this yoga in the best of all the systems for purification of the mind. Describing the form of this Raja-yoga, it has been stated that the sadhana carried out by practicing the ten external postrures (Bahya Mudras) namely Mahamudra, Mahabandha, Mahavedha, Khechari, Uddiyanabandha. Mulabandha, Jalandharabandha, Viparitakaranimudra and the Shaktichalanumudra alongwith the internal postures (Antara mudras) like Shambhavi etc., it known as Raja-yoga and also fully acquiring knowledge of it, Moksha (salvation can be attained.)
It has been stated in Yoga Bija 'that the combination of the two-process (in going breathing life force) and Apana (out going breathing life force), Rajas (pollen, illumination) and the Retas (semen), surya nadis, and the Jivatman (jndividual Being) and the Paramatman (Supreme Being)-is known as Raja-yoga. In the same book it has been clarified at one place in each individual there is centre of Yoni (Vagina) known as Mahakshetra where is found the Rajas of scarlet red colour of a japakusuma (Bassia Lotafolia flower) and Bandhukakasuma (mid-day flower). When by Laya-yoga Sadhana or by Pranayaima Sadhana combined with Jalandharbandha, Mulabandha and Uddiyanabandha, the prana and Apana are combined with the practice of Kumbhaka (retention of breath) and along with that are combined one's own Rajas and Retas, it is known as Raja-yoga. When this stage is attained all the eight Siddhis (super natural powers) like Anima etc. are automatically gained. Thus we see that Raja-yoga is the state of combination or union of one's Prana and Apana, kshetra and kshetrajna, one's own Rajas and Retas. This state is actually the culmination point of success of both the Pranayama sadhana and the Laya-yoga sadhan. It may also be mentioned here that in the Yoga Bija the four system of Mantra yoga, Hatha yoga, Laya-yoga and Raja yoga have been collectively termed as Mahayoga and the Rajayoga is the last stage of that Mahayoga.
In Dattatreya-yoga Sastra the Mantrayoga, Hathayoga, Laya-yoga and Raja-yog have been accepted as four systems of yoga and the Raja yoga has been considered to be the best of all. It has also been declared there in that success in Raja-yoga can only be achieved after gaining success in the first three systems of yoga. In 'Dattatreya-yoga-sasra, after describing the Mantra-yoga and the Laya-yoga and before taking up the subject of Hatha-yoga, the 'Astang-yoga has been introduced as karma-yoga, enumerating all the eight limbs, namely yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Though the Astanga-yoga has been introduced as Karma-yoga there in, however, it is to be taken as Raga-yoga. Whether 'Karma-yoga' has been used there as synonym of Raja-yoga or it is a mistake on the part of the transcriber is a matter to be decided by learned scholars. In this context it may be remembered that as described in the Yoga Bija, the Anima etc. Siddhis are gained on attaining success in Raja-yoga. In the same way in the Dattatreya yoga Shastra also it has been mentioned that on attaining success in Astang-yoga when the final stageof Samadhi is conquered, the Sadhaka becomes master of the Siddhis like Anima etc, till his body remains. It may also be mentioned here that in the Dattatreya-yoga, Shaankara (poet) has been stated to be the exponent of Raja yoga and Yajnavalkya etc. have been said to be the prominent followers of the Raja-yoga.
Yoga-Tattvopanishad is very much similar to Dattatreya-yoga and there is also the four systems of yoga, namely Mantra-yoga, Laya-yoga, Hatha-yoga and Raja-yoga have been mentioned, but detailed description of Raja-yoga has not been given except for stating at one place that success in Raja-yoga is achieved after regular practice of Amaroli and Vajroli kriyas of the Hatha-yoga. After mentioning name of Raja-yoga as one of the four systems of yoga, why detailed description has not been given about it in that book, is a matter for consideration.
In the Gherand Samhita and the Hatha yoga pradipika, Rajayoga and Samadhi have been taken as synonyms of each other. In Gherand Samhita, the Unmani and Sahajawastha and in the Hathayoga pradipika the Unamani, Manonmani. Amaratva and Niranjana stages, the jivanmukti, Sahajawastha and the Turiyawastha have been accepted as synonymous to Raja-yoga. If what has bee started in both of these works is accepted that the term Raja-yoga is synonymous to Samadhi, then all the remaining seven limbs of Astanga yoga proceeding to samadhi or the stages in sadhana must be accounted for in the Raja yoga. In that case by accepting Raja-yoga as Astanga yoga of Dattatreya yoga Shastra, the viewpoint expressed in Gherand Samhita and Hatha-yoga Shastra, the view point expressed in Gherand Samhita and Hatha-yoga. Pradipika in this respect stand established as one without any difference.
In order to accept the synonymity of the Raja-yoga and Samadhi, it will be appropriate to look to the aspects of Samadhi as described in these works.
According to Swatmarama, just as after dissolving of the salt in the water, the salt and water become one, in the same way on dissolving of the Manas (mind) in Atma and loosing its identity both become one and that state is known as Samadhi. The state when the Prana of the Sadhaka yogi stands still completely, that is to say when mastery in complete retention of breath (Kumbhaka) is attained and the mind does not waver at all and is fully still, is called Samadhi. As a result of this when the Jivatman is united with Paramatman, the Sachchidanand (the supreme Truth, knowledge and Bliss); who is beyond all limits of time and space, is permanent, eternal and immanent and all pervading consiousness), all the dualities in the 'Individual Being'are completely annihiliated. That state is called Samadhi.
Raja Yoga and It's Practice
Yoga Sadhana was the Corner stone of constant good health and success in the life of the two great of 20th century stalwarts, Mahatma Gandhi, the great political saint and Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime minister of India. This fact is well-known to the persons who were fully acquainted with the personal lives of these illuminaries. A photograph of Pt. Nehru displayed in Anand Bhavan, Allahabad, shows him doing shirshasana, which establishes the fact of his interest in yoga. Late Prime Minister Shrimati Indira Gandhi always remained healthy, active and smart, the secret of which also lies in the fact that she too did yogic exercise regularly.
Shri Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian astronaut, in his statement, which he gave on 12-4-1984 while in space, revealed that the daily yogic exercises which he was doing in space were keeping him fit and he was able to carry our all his work smoothly and efficiently even in the state of weightlessness. What is being stated and proved today about yoga is rather a fraction of the truth which the Rishis, sages and thinkers of this land Bharat, practically experienced and enunciated thousands of years ago. Explaining yoga, Gita states "Yogah Karmasu Kaushlam" - Yoga is the skill (the art and science) of doing Karma (work); one can attain perfection in his work (in whatever field of life one may be), to an astonishing degree by means of practicing 'Yogic-sadhana'.
Some people think that yoga is only for those who want to renounce this world and attain salvation. This is not fully correct. It is an admitted fact that one can attain salvation by 'Yogasadhana,' but can also achieve all the worldly glory, wealth, health and happiness to an immense extent by yoga-sadhna. By this yogasadhana one can acquire all knowledge mundane and spiritual, know all the languages (even of the animals and birds), attain supernatural powers of walking on water and in space, entering into another body, telepathy, clairyoyence etc. One can achieve miraculous supernatural powers, described as 'Vibhuties' by 'Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra. But a real sadhaka seeker of Supreme truth is not attracted by these powers, which he gains in the successful advancements in 'Yogasadhna' as he feels them to be hindrances, things of no real value, in the path leading to the highest goal of attaining the final liberation. So if a man wants to achieve any thing in his life, in whatever sphere may it be, he can do so by adopting the path of yoga. By 'Yoga Sadana', a student can come out with flying colours in examination, in mundane life people can face all the vicissitudes of life successfully, the politician, businessmen and administrators etc. can think with deeper and sharper fore sight, take quick and correct decisions with confidence and fearlessness, work enthusiastically for longer periods with patience and perseverance without tensions and tiredness in the present day world full of toil and achieve success with love, peace and bliss which have become so rare and dear these days.
Bhakti Yoga (16)
Hatha Yoga (70)
Karma Yoga (30)
Kriya Yoga (64)
Kundalini Yoga (46)
Yoga For Children (12)
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