Though there are quite a few translations with commentaries on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. RAJA YOGA – THE ROYAL ROAD TO REVELATION is unique since in this book for the first time, the Sutras are arranged subjectwise, alphabetically (the Sanskrit text with English transliteration, translation and commentary) to facilitate ready reference and easy understanding of the complex matters dealt with by Maharishi Patanjali.
In my cases, Maharishi Patanjali’s ideas have been substantiated by selected passages from the Upanishads and the Bhagavat Geeta.
Additional attractive features of the book are separate chapter which examine Patanjali’s yoga sutra in the context of the six systems of Indian philosophy and the Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga.
Valuable Appendices on Yogic exercises, meditational techniques, Kundalini Yoga and a Sutra Index embellish the book.
Vadakaymadom Krishna Iyer Subramanian (b.1930, Kerala, India) is an eminentscholar, whose life mission is to present to the world the treasures of ancient India, in the fields of art, literature, philosophy and religion. He has already translated several ancient texts into English. These include: Saundaryalahari, Sivanandalahari, Sacred Songs of India, Wondrous Whispers of wisdom from Ancient India. Maxims of Chanakya and Sri Rudraprasana.
As a consultant for holistic health and spiritual development, he has spelt out the regiments in this regarded in his popular book The Holistic Way to Health, Happiness and Harmony.
Subramanian’s prolific literary output covers a variety of subjects ranging from Astrology to Art. He has been an astropalmic counsellor for over 35 years.
A retired officer of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service (which he joined in 1953), Subramanian is also a reputed painter, who has held 22 one-man shows and whose paintings (some of them in the Chandigarh museum) have won wide acclaim from leading art critics of India. All the illustrations in Subramanian’s books are done by himself. Subramanian, who has traveled extensively in India, now lives in the United States of America.
The term “Raja Yoga” mystifies many.
Actually it is one of the four paths to spirituality. The four paths are:
1. Karma Yoga: The Path of selfless service
2. Bhakti Yoga: The path of devotion.
3. Jnana Yoga: The path of knowledge.
4. Raja Yoga: The path of mediation.
It would help clarify matters if I mention four stalwarts of Modem Indian who followed the four different paths. These are:
Mahatma Gandhi who followed the path of Karma Yoga.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who followed the path of Bhakti Yoga.
Ramana Maharishi who followed the path of Jnana Yoga.
Aurobindo Ghosh who followed the path of Raja Yoga.
Swami Vivekananda was a great exponent of Raja Yoga.
The scriptural text of Raja Yoga is : The Yoga sutras of Maharishi Patanjali comprising 196 maxims, distributed in four chapters as under.
Chapter One (51 maxims) dealing with Samadhi, the goal of Yoga.
Chapter Two (55 maxims) dealing with Sadhana or practice.
Chapter Three (56 maxims) dealing with Vibhuti or power.
Chapter Four (34 maxims) dealing with Kaivalya or liberation
Hence a study of Raja Yoga necessitates an analytical and comprehensive understanding of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
Raja Yoga is the science of the Mind.
The unique attraction of Raja Yoga is that mind being universal, and not special prerogative of any religion, it is path available to everyone irrespective of religion.
In the eloquent words of Swami Vivekananda.
“According to the Raja Yoga, the external world is but the gross form the internal or subtle. The finer is always the cause the grosser the effect. So the external world is the effect the internal the cause…. The man who has discovered and learnt how to manipulated internal forces will get the whole of nature under his control”.
To understand the full implications of what Swami Vivekananda has stated above and to comprehend how mental processes can control external phenomena, one has to study the fundamentals of Sankhya philosophy.
According to Sankhya, there is an hierarchy of creation, originating from Purusha, the pure consciousness of the Self.
The levels of manifestation of the Self proceed from the subtle to the gross.
The first level is the individual ego (which experiences).
The second level is the intellect (that decides).
The third level is the mind (that thinks).
The fourth level is the senses.
The fifth level is the Karmendriyas or faculties of action, speech understanding walking, evacuating and procreating.
The Karmendriyas connect the mind with the external manifest world of objects.
The sixth level of manifestation is the Tanmatras or the essences of the objects of five sense of perception viz.
Sound, the essence of all that we hear.
Texture, the essence of all that we touch.
Form, the sense of all that we see.
Flavour, the essence of all that we taste.
Odour, the essence of all that we smell.
The seventh and the last level of manifestation and the grossest is the five elements (Mahabhutas), out of which the entire material universe is created. These are air, fire, water, earth, and ether (Akasa) (the subtle space that permeates all matter).
There is a linkage between the various levels of manifestation.
Thus each Tanmatra, associated with a particular sense, expresses itself in one of the five elements.
Thus the sense of sounds is linked to its vehicle the ether (or Akasa).
Touch is linked to texture and air.
Sight is linked to from and fire.
Taste is linked to flavour and water.
Smell is linked to odour and earth.
. These linkages between the gross and subtle levels of Prakriti enable the mind operating from the level of Purusha to influence and control any aspect of gross creation it wishes.
This is the raison d’etre or rationale of the supernormal powers about which Patanjali has dealt with in chapter III of the Yoga sutras. These include :
1. Knowing Past and Future.
2. Lingual Powers.
3. Knowledge of previous birth.
4. Reading others’ minds.
5. Disappearance from view.
6. Forecasting death.
7. Developing good qualities.
8. Acquiring elephantine power.
9. Knowledge of the hidden objects.
10. Knowledge of the universe and galaxies.
11. Knowledge of anatomy (Body- structure).
12. Freedom from thirst and hunger.
13. Getting stability of body.
14. Seeing liberated souls.
15. Acquiring omniscience.
16. Entering other bodies.
17. Dying at will.
18. Developing effulgence.
19. Getting knowledge of consciousness.
20. Gaining knowledge of the Self.
21. Hearing divine sounds.
23. Control over elements.
24. Eight occult powers:
A. Anima or shrinking the body to the size of an atom.
B. Laghima or becoming very light.
C. Garima or becoming very heavy.
D. Mahima or becoming very huge.
E. Prakaamya or developing a strong irresistible will.
F. Istiva or controlling everything.
G. Kamavasaya or materializing objects and causing them to disappear.
H. Vasitva or fulfilling all desires.
25. Control over sense.
26. Discriminatory knowledge.
27. Six occult powers : A. Inner wisdom.
B. Capacity to hear divine voices.
C. Experience of divine touch.
D. Divine sights.
E. Experience of divine smell.
28. Overall mastery.
Though the means of acquiring these powers have been detailed by Patanjali, he categorically expressed his view (in Sutras III 38 and III 51) that:
“All the above mentioned occult powers are obstacles to spiritual development and are meant for those who are interested in the material world” and “By being indifferent to all the occult powers one gains liberation due to elements of seeds of all flaws.”
Thus the true spiritual aspirant need not attach any importance to the powers detailed in chapter three of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. But the fact remains that the power of the mind can have complete control of the laws and forces of Nature.
The discoveries of modern science are testimony to the fact that what were considered impossible miracles have become common daily occurrences, example being the radio (wireless), television, telephone, aeroplane, space travel etc.
There is nothing the developed mind cannot achieve, but how the mind is used entirely depends on individual choice and decision.
Raja Yoga being the science of the mind shows the potential prodigious powers it can exercise by fine tuning it with the eight limbs of Raja Yoga. To quote Swami Vivekananda.
“The goal of all the teaching of Raja Yoga is how to concentrate the mind then how to discover the innermost recesses of our own mind then how to generalise their contents and form our own conclusions from them. It (Raja Yoga) therefore never asks the question what our religion is whether we are Desists or Atheists whether Christians, Jews or Buddhists. We are human beings that is sufficient…We will perceive for ourselves whether we have souls, whether life is of five minutes or of eternity, whether there whether life is of five minutes, or of eternity, whether there is a God in the universe or none. It will all be REVEALED to us. This is what Raja Yoga proposes to teach.”
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