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"It is said that the original propounder of classical Yoga was Hiranyagarbha Himself. It is Patanjali Maharishi who formulated this science into a definite system under the name of Ashtanga Yoga or Raja Yoga. This forms one of the Shad-Darsananas or Classical Systems of Philosophy. Vyasa has explained the original aphorisms or Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and this has been further elaborated through a gloss by a learned author named Vachaspati Mishra , and through the celebrated writings of Vijnana Bhikshu ." - Sri Swami Sivananda
"Raja Yoga is a practical guide for gaining control over the mind. The second sutra (of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras - Ed.) states, "Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah," or, "The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga." Every thought, feeling, perception, or memory you may have causes a modification, or ripple, in the mind. It distorts and colors the mental mirror. If you can restrain the mind from forming into modifications, there will be no distortion, and you will experience your true Self." - Sri Swami Satchidananda
Reference: "The Greatness of Raja Yoga"
Raja Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga or the Yoga with eight limbs as found in the Amrita Gita from a work by Sri Swami Sivananda:
- Raja Yoga is an exact science. It aims at controlling all thought-waves or mental modifications.
- Where Hatha Yoga ends, there Raja Yoga begins.
- Hatha Yogi starts his Sadhana with his body and Prana. He practises Asanas and Pranayama and through control of Prana, tries to control the mind.
- A Raja Yogi starts his Sadhana with the mind. He starts meditation and tries to control the mind.
- The eight limbs of Raja Yoga are: Yama (self-restraint), Niyama (religious observances), Asana (posture), Pranayama (regulation of breath), Pratyahara (abstraction of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (superconscious state).
- Yama consists of five parts: Ahimsa (non-injury), Satyam (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy), and Aparigraha (non-covetousness).
- Niyama is observance of five canons: Saucha (internal and external purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhyaya (study of religious books and repetitions of Mantras), and Ishvarapranidhana (self-surrender to God, and His worship).
- Ahimsa is perfect harmlessness and positive love also. This removes the brutal nature in man and strengthens the will.
- He who practises meditation without ethical perfection, without the practice of Yama-Niyama cannot obtain the fruits of meditation.
- Purify your mind first through the practice of Yama-Niyama. Then practise regular meditation. Then you will attain illumination.
- The practice of Yama is a Mahavrata, universal vow. It must be observed by all.
- Any easy, steady, comfortable pose is Asana.
- Asanas steady the body. Pranayama checks the outgoing tendencies of the mind. Pratyahara gives inner spiritual strength. It removes all sorts of distractions. It develops will-power.
- Real Raja Yoga starts from concentration. Concentration merges in meditation. Meditation ends in Samadhi.
- Retention of breath, Brahmacharya, Sattvic food, seclusion, silence, Satsanga, not mixing much with people are all aids to concentration.
- Sleep, tossing of mind, attachment to objects, subtle desires and cravings, laziness, lack of Brahmacharya, gluttony are all obstacles in meditation.
- Reduce your wants. Cultivate dispassion. You will have progress in Yoga. Vairagya thins out the mind.
- Do not mix much. Do not talk much. Do not walk much. Do not eat much. Do not sleep much. Do not exert much.
- Never wrestle with the mind during meditation. Do not use any violent efforts at concentration.
- If evil thoughts enter your mind, do not use your will force in driving them. You will tax your will. You will lose your energy. You will fatigue yourself. The greater the efforts you make, the more the evil thoughts will return with redoubled force. Be indifferent. Become a witness of those thoughts. Substitute divine thoughts. They will pass away.
- Never miss a day in meditation. Regularity is of paramount importance. When the mind is tired, do not concentrate. Do not take heavy food at night.
- The mind passes into many conditions or states as it is made up of three qualities-Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
- Kshipta (wandering), Vikshipta (gathering), Mudha (ignorant), Ekagra (one-pointed), and Nirodha (contrary) are the five states of the mind.
- By controlling the thoughts the Sadhaka attains great Siddhis. He becomes an adept. He attains Asamprajnata Samadhi or Kaivalya.
- Do not run after Siddhis. Siddhis are great temptations. They will bring about your downfall.
- A Raja Yogi practises Samyama or the combined practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi at one and the same time and gets detailed knowledge of an object.
- Control the mind by Abhyasa (practice) and Vairagya (dispassion).
- Any practice which steadies the mind and makes it one-pointed is Abhyasa.
- You must practise Yoga steadily with great patience and zeal. Then alone will you attain perfection.
- Concentrate on Trikuti (the space between the two eyebrows) with closed eyes. This is the best spot for concentration. The mind can be easily controlled, as this is the seat for the mind.
- Dull Vairagya will not help you in attaining perfection in Yoga. You must have Para Vairagya or Theevra Vairagya, intense dispassion.
- Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishvarapranidhana constitute Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga purifies the heart quickly.
- Meditation on OM with Bhava and its meaning removes obstacles in Sadhana and helps to attain Samadhi.
- Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga-Dvesha (likes and dislikes), Abhinivesha (clinging to mundane life) are the five Kleshas or afflictions. Destroy these afflictions. You will attain Samadhi.
- Samadhi is of two kinds-Savikalpa, Samprajnata or Sabija, and Nirvikalpa or Asamprajnata or Nirbija.
- In Savikalpa or Sabija, there is Triputi or the triad (knower, known and knowledge). The Samskaras are not burnt or fried.
- Savitarka, Nirvitarka, Savichara, Nirvichara, Sasmita and Saananda are the different forms of Savikalpa Samadhi.
- In Nirbija Samadhi or Asamprajnata Samadhi there is no triad. The impressions are fried in toto.
- A Bhakta gets Bhava-Samadhi, a Jnani gets Badha-Samadhi, a Raja Yogi gets Nirodha Samadhi.
- THUS ENDS RAJA YOGA OR THE ASHTANGA YOGA OR THE YOGA WITH EIGHT LIMBS
- Reference: AMRITA GITA By SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA
- A DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY PUBLICATION; Fourth Edition: 1998(1,000 Copies) World Wide Web (WWW) Edition : 1999)
- Download: www.thedivinelifesociety.org/download/amrita.pdf
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