The Essence and Purpose of Yoga

The Yoga Ethics
Karma Yoga
Bhakti Yoga
Raja Yoga
Jnana Yoga
Asparsha Yoga


Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga aims at dissolving the modifications of the mind. Patanjali's Yoga Sutra indicates various practical ways to achieve detachment: Surrender to Isvara, viveka, vairagya and the eight angas (means).

Surrender to Isvara happens when the desire for things is transformed into love of the divine. The potent energy- love-aspiration ladder that is normally directed towards the external world is turned towards the transcendent Isvara.

Viveka (intuitive discernment) helps us to realise that the relative and dual is not the ultimate reality. This leads to vairagya, a consciential detachment, not just formal detachment. It is a conscious self-mastery that
liberates one from the gunas.

Viveka is the fruit of knowledg (jnana) or gnosis, which is capable of revealing the ultimate and real nature of things. Viveka and Vairagya are the two techniques of Vedanta-darsana.

Mind Takes Precedence:

Raja Yoga emphasises on the mind rather than the body or the emotions. It seeks to control chitta(right side),the mental substance, with all its product; The vri6sor thought waves which, if not controlled, lead the jiva
or incarnated soul into the flow of samsara. It recognises the inter relationship between the prana complex of the body, sensory emotions and mind (manas). It makes use of the asanas and pranayama of Hatha Yoga to achieve the necessary synthesis of the various forces at play.

Lakshmi - one who loves lotus

This sadhana begins with purification of the emotions and of the mind. Without this preliminary clearing of undesirable psychic contents, this type of yoga may prove very dangerous both at the manas and physical level. The purificatory practices are divided into two phases-the five yamas and the five niyamas, the first two of the eight angas of Raja Yoga.

The eight angas are: Yama (self restraint), Niyama (observance), Asana (postures), Pranayama (control of prana breathing), Pratyahara (abstraction), Dharana (concentration), Dhyano (meditation) and Samadhi (contemplation- ecstasy).

Rules of Moral Conduct:

The Yamas are rules regarding conduct. One must seek truth, abstain from doing evil, from stealing, from coercing and so on. The main aim of these rules is to quench the thirst of the possessive extroversion, and, therefore, of the rajoguna.

The niyamas, too, 'belong to the sphere of 'discipline' and allow the mental energies to model themselves to the rhythm of sattva. True withdrawal or abstraction of the consciousness from the senses (pratyahara) will take place easily if the mind has been purified.

Greatest Psychic Faculty:

Dharana involves fixing the mind upon a pratyaya (seed-context of concentration) that reins in the dispersive tendencies of the mind. One learns to retire to the centre of moral its psychophysical systems.

Dhyana is prolonged concentra tion and is the highest psychic faculty after intelligence. It helps to coordinatc, integrate and direct the psychic powers in a conscious and deliberate way. Dhyana is the instrument which can lead to conflict, error and pain, or to the bliss of samadhi. If one does not build on the solid foundation of Dharana or mental order, one may become an intermittent and emotional mystic, because emotion without mental direction is unstable and incomplete.

Lakshmi - one who loves lotus

With dharana one fixes the creative mind-instrument; with dhyana one pronounces the bliss seed-word; with samadhi one realises the subject-object unity or the incarnation of the world.

Samadhi is related neither to emotions, nor to Imagination, nor any individualised psychic power. It goes beyond the empirical and enters into subtle dimensions. In its true sense samadhi is the direct experience of truth without the intervention of manas. The different degrees of the experience are listed in Raja Yoga.

The two categories of samadhi are with seed and without seed, that is samprajnata samadhi and asamprajnata samadhi.