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Four Yogas as Spiritual Discipline to follow the Dharma
Yoga has been called a science or technology of liberation. This is because, unlike purely theoretical philosophies, yoga seeks to provide with many possible paths towards the ultimate goal of attainment of liberation from worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and death - Samsara chakra. Yoga entails mastery over the body, mind, emotional self, and transcendence of desire. It is said to lead gradually to knowledge of the true nature of reality. The Yogi reaches the enlightened state or Moksha, where there is a cessation of thought and an experience of union of the individual soul - Atman, with the supreme Reality - Brahman.
The first and foremost lesson of the Bhagavad Gita is regarding the importance of action - that we have a moral imperative to act, and that by implication non-action is an immoral choice when faced with a dilemma. But this action should always be conducted without selfish motivation. Thus the principle of Karma Yoga, of selfless action. It distinguishes several types of yoga according to what is most appropriate for the different nature of people, such that a devoted person will be most suited to the duty of Bhakti yoga, an intellectual person to Jnana yoga and so on.
The Philosophical teachings of Hinduism, like any scientific theory, are of no use to the common man unless it is applied for their daily practice. It has survived the test of time for many thousand years and still remains popular due to the sound principles on which its practice is based. It gives different rules of ethics and conducts for various categories of people. Yoga remains a vibrant living tradition and is seen as a means to enlightenment. The Bhagavad Gita explains about four branches of yoga; Karma Yoga - yoga of Action, Jnana Yoga - yoga of Knowledge, Bhakti Yoga - yoga of Devotion and Raja Yoga - yoga of Meditation. As rituals became popular and were being considered as the sole path for the eternal bliss, the soundness of its philosophy and ethics of practice were reestablished by the sages. The four Yogas give us the spiritual discipline of our conduct. Karma Yoga is the correct path of performing work without greed or desire and the action performed without looking for the fruits of benefit or loss. Jnana Yoga is the path of obtaining Spiritual knowledge through action, study, meditation and devotion. Bhakthi Yoga is the spiritual discipline of absolute devotion and love of God. It teaches prayers and surrender to God at all times. It teaches to see and feel God in all people and all actions. Raja Yoga is the discipline of control of our body and mind. It teaches concentration, meditation, breathing and physical exercise and a state of equanimity of the mind as a natural reaction to all activities.
Karma Yoga - The Yoga of Action
Karma yoga, also known as Kriya yoga or Buddhi Yoga is one of the four pillars of yoga means "discipline of action". Karma yoga focuses on the adherence to duty - dharma, while remaining detached from the reward. It states that one can attain Moksha - salvation or love of God - bhakti by performing their duties in an unselfish manner for the pleasure of the Supreme. It is the path chosen primarily by those of an outgoing nature. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward. By detaching yourself from the fruits of your actions and offering them up to God, you learn to sublimate the ego.
"Karma Yoga is the selfless devotion of all inner as well as the outer activities as a Sacrifice to the Lord of all works, offered to the eternal as Master of all the soul's energies and austerities." says Bhagavad Gita.
Jnana Yoga - The Yoga of Knowledge or Wisdom
Jnana is knowledge. To know Brahman as one's own Self is Jnana. To say, "I am Brahman, the pure, all-pervading Consciousness, the non-enjoyer, non-doer and silent witness," is Jnana. To behold the one Self everywhere is Jnana. This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta the Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the space inside and outside a glass as different, just as we see ourselves as separate from God. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the glass, dissolving the veils of ignorance.
" When he perceives the various states of being as resting in the One, and from That alone spreading out, then he attains Brahman. They who know, through the eye of knowledge, the distinction between the field and the knower of the field, as well as the liberation of beings from material nature, go to the Supreme." says Bhagavad Gita.
Bhakti Yoga - The Path of Devotion or Divine Love
Bhakti signifies a blissful, selfless, and overwhelming love of God as the beloved Father, Mother, Child, Friend or whichever relationship or personal aspect of God that finds appeal in the devotee's heart. Bhakti Yogi is motivated chiefly by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of love. Through prayer, worship and ritual he surrenders himself to God, channeling and transmuting his emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Chanting or singing the praises of God form a substantial part of Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti yoga is generally considered the easiest of the four general paths to liberation, or moksha. In scriptures such as the Bhagavata Purana, bhakti is described as a perfectional stage in itself which surpasses even moksha as a level of spiritual realization.
Bhakti is of various kinds. One classification is Sakamya and Nishkamya Bhakti. Sakamya Bhakti is devotion with desire for material gains. A man wants wealth with this motive practices Bhakti. Another man wants freedom from diseases and therefore does Japa and offers prayers. A third one wants to become a Minister and does Upasana with this aim. This is Sakamya Bhakti. Whatever you want the Lord will certainly give you, if your Bhakti is intense and if your prayers are sincerely offered from the bottom of your heart. But you will not get supreme satisfaction, immortality and Moksha through Sakamya Bhakti. Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge. All cares, worries and anxieties, fears, mental torments and tribulations entirely vanish. The devotee is freed from the Samsaric wheel of births and deaths. He attains the immortal abode of everlasting peace, bliss and knowledge.
".... those who, renouncing all actions in Me, and regarding Me as the Supreme, worship me... of those whose thoughts have entered into Me, I am soon the deliverer from the ocean of death and transmigration, Arjuna. Keep your mind on Me alone, your intellect on Me. Thus you shall dwell in me hereafter." (Ch12:V6-8) " And he who serves me with the yoga of unswerving devotion, transcending these qualities [binary opposites, like good and evil, pain and pleasure] is ready for absorption in Brahman." (Ch14:V26) says Bhagavad Gita...
Raja Yoga - The Science of Physical and Mental Control
Raja-Yoga is the king of all yogas. Raja Yoga involves psycho-physical meditational techniques which attain experiences of the truth and finally achieve liberation or moksha. Raja Yoga is mainly concerned with the mind, its modifications and its control. There are five states of the mind - Kshipta, Mudha, Vikshipta, Ekagra and Niruddha. Usually the mind is running in various directions; its rays are scattered. This is the Kshipta state. Sometimes it is self-forgetful, it is full of foolishness - Mudha. When you try to practice concentration, the mind seems to get concentrated but gets distracted often. This is Vikshipta. But with prolonged and repeated practice of concentration again and again, and repeating Lord's Name, it becomes one-pointed. This is called the Ekagra state. Later on, it is fully controlled - Niruddha. It is ready to be dissolved in the Supreme Purusha, when you get Asamprajnata Samadhi. Patanjali's Raja Yoga is generally termed the Ashtanga Yoga or the Yoga of Eight Limbs, through the practice of which freedom is achieved.
Raja yoga is also known as Ashtanga Yoga. The term 'Ashtanga' means eight limbs, thus Ashtanga Yoga refers to the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Compiled by the Sage Patanjali Maharishi in the Yoga Sutras, the Eight Limbs are a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, ultimately leading the yogi to enlightenment. These 8 limbs are the path of internal purification for revealing the Universal Self based on principles of morality - yama and niyama, physical discipline - asana and pranayama, mental alertness - pratyahara and dharana and spiritual awakening - dhyana and samadhi. The first four limbs-yama, niyama, asana, pranayama-are considered external cleansing practices.
" Establishing a firm seat for himself in a clean place... having directed his mind to a single object, with his thought and the activity of the senses controlled, he should practice yoga for the purpose of self-realization. Holding the body, head and neck erect, motionless and steady, gazing at the tip of his own nose and not looking in any direction, with quieted mind, banishing fear, established in the brahmacharin vow of celibacy, controlling the mind, with thoughts fixed on Me, he should sit, concentrated, devoted to Me. Thus, continually disciplining himself, the yogin whose mind is subdued goes to nirvana, to supreme peace, to union with Me." says Bhagavad Gita...
The Three Gunas
Prakriti is composed of the three Gunas or forces, namely, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is harmony or light or wisdom or equilibrium or goodness. Rajas is passion or motion or activity. Tamas is inertia or inaction or darkness. The three qualities bring bondage to the Jiva or the individual soul. Though Sattva is a desirable quality, yet it also binds a man. It is a golden fetter. Rajas is the source of attachment and thirst for life. It causes attachment to action. Tamas binds man to heedlessness (Pramada), laziness (Alasya) and sleep (Nidra). Once energy takes form, one quality of the three predominates. No matter which quality prevails, an element of each of the other two will always be present as well. The three Gunas encompass all existence, all actions. In all people one of the three Gunas has superior strength and is reflected in all they do and think. Only in enlightenment are the Gunas completely transcended. Guna is the tendency of the mind and not the state. The Gunas can be found in all beings and objects surrounding us.
These three qualities are inseparable. No one is absolutely Rajasic or Sattvic or Tamasic. In some people Sattva is predominant; in others Rajas is predominant; and in some others Tamas is predominant. When the wisdom-light streams forth from all the gates of the body, then it may be known that Sattva is increasing. Greed, outgoing energy, undertaking of action, restlessness and desire-these are born of the increase of Rajas. Darkness, delusion, stagnation, heedlessness-these are born of the increase of inertia.
Sattvic originally "being, existence, entity" has been translated to mean balance, order, or purity. This typically implies that a person with more of Sattva has a positive or even orderly state of mind. Such a person is psychologically kind, calm, alert and thoughtful.
Sattva or goodness is calm and clear. If Sattva rules in a person, they always do the right thing. Sattva binds the spirit to the body with happiness and knowledge. Sattva rules by suppressing Rajas and Tamas. When goodness and wisdom are present in your whole being, flows out from your whole self - then Sattva is ruling. If you die while Sattva rules in your life, you go to heaven, the pure world where the knowers of the Supreme live. The consequence of Saatvika action (a good action) is pure. Knowledge comes from Sattva.
Rajasic originally "atmosphere, air, firmament" leads one to activity. This type of activity is explained by the term Yogakshem. Yogakshem is composed of two words: Yoga and Kshem. Yoga in the present context is acquiring something that one does not have. Kshem means losing something that one already has. Rajas is the force that creates desires for acquiring new things and fears for losing something that one has. These desires and fears lead one to activity.
Rajas or selfish activity is seen in people that are chasing materialistic or egocentric dreams. Rajas is born by desires and the results of work, unnecessary nice material trinkets and ego decorations. Rajas binds you to action\work. Rajas rules by suppressing Tamas and Sattva. Greed, activity, restlessness, passion, and the doing of selfish works arise when Rajas is ruling in your life. If you die while Rajas rules in your life, you are re-incarnated as a person in which Rajas rules. The consequence of Raajasika action (a selfish action) is pain. Raajasika persons are reborn in the mortal world, or earth.
Tamasic originally "darkness", "obscurity" has been translated to mean "too inactive", negative, lethargic, dull, or slow. Usually it is associated with darkness, delusion, or ignorance. A tamas quality also can imply that a person has a self-destructive or entropic state of mind. That person is constantly pursuing destructive activities.
Tamas or inertia, binds the spirit by laziness, ignorance and too much sleep. It is the trickster of Jeeva, which is female or soul. Tamas attaches you to ignorance by hiding knowledge from you. Tamas dominates by suppressing Rajas (activity) and Sattva (goodness). Ignorance, laziness, carelessness, and delusion arise when Tamas is predominant. If you die while Tamas rules, you are reborn again as a Taamasika person (someone in whom Tamas is ruling). If you do anything while Tamas is ruling in your life, the consequence will be ignorance. Negligence, delusion, and ignorance arise from Tamas. Taamasika persons, living in the lowest Guna, basically experience hell. They are repeatedly born as lower castes creatures of humankind.
Conquering the Gunas…
When you are completely free from Gunas, you are not a Saatvika, Raajasika or Taamasika person. You can stand above the Gunas and see everything as one, you treat everybody the same way, stone and gold are same to you, nothing is precious than other. You don't become proud when people praise you, or angry when they disgrace you, you treat enemies and friends alike. Once you manage to be like this, it is said that you have overcome the Gunas. Those who can conquer the Gunas, according to Bhagavad-Gita, get to abide in the eternal Happiness. If you can conquer the Gunas, you will be free from birth, old age, disease and death.
The word "karma" comes from the Sanskrit verb kri, to do. Although karma means action, it also means the result of action. "KARMA" means "action." Every action or thought determines a reaction. In the physical world, the weight of a body creates an opposite force in the ground. At the emotional level, our attitude toward someone (or something) is, consciously or not, reflected back, the other person having the tendency to behave exactly according to our feeling towards him/her. At the mental level this is the well known dynamic interaction between the commanding conscious mind and the executing subconscious mind. In YOGA Tradition, KARMA has a much deeper meaning. In this vision, KARMA is the accumulation of our past actions. These past actions (triggering actions) are causes which determine other actions (triggered reactions) in exact accordance with the charge of the corresponding past actions. Each of our physical, emotional or mental movements is the fruit of causes coming from the whole Universe and has its repercussions in the whole Universe.
For instance, if you do a bad or good action toward someone, this triggers a reaction which will be equally bad or good, and which will be directed toward yourself. In this way, you experience the happiness or suffering that you have produced to other living beings. The paramount value of this subtle mechanism is that we learn and accumulate a certain ineffable wisdom that pushes us toward becoming good and perfect. Of course, this is a very simple and mechanical explanation; what really happens has a complexity and profoundness that overcomes even the most imaginative mind.
If you understand the Law of KARMA, you will realize that there is no destiny besides the human will. Everybody gets exactly what he/she deserves. This is a Cosmic and Inflexible Law. There is a perfect justice, even when our limited human understanding "sees" an "injustice". The human beings build their own destiny through their actions, thoughts and intentions. If these have a positive charge, the destiny will be positive. If the actions, thoughts or intentions have a predominantly negative charge, the destiny will be negative. Notice that you do not necessarily have to do bad things to others for having a bad destiny: people usually do bad things to themselves, and this is enough for creating a negative KARMA. An important thing here is the intention. Remember, God or other Superior Cosmic Entities never punish a creature for being "bad" and never reward it for being "good".
We live in a mysterious world, in which we, with our conscious and subconscious mind and belief system, are permanently creating the "reality" in which we live, manifesting that enigmatic power called MAYA SHAKTI, through which we see the world not the way it is, but the way we want it, consciously or not, to be. This is the same power that the Supreme Being uses to create and manifest the worlds, and to hide Itself from them. You have to see and understand deeply this fundamental truth before attempting to understand the law of KARMA.
Courtsey: www.mailerindia.com
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