The Mother Divine
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BKS Iyengar
Yoga is one as God is one. But learned people identify God in various forms and ideas according to their thoughts. Yoga too has been identified with various names. For example, the food that is served on the table may be the same, but one who eats it may savour differently.

In the early days, the sages had guided humanity with four paths or mãrgas and named them as karma mãrga, jñãna mãrga, bhakti mãrga and yoga mãrga.

Unfortunately, these mãrgas began to be termed as yoga like karma yoga, jñãna yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, hatha yoga, ghata yoga, laya yoga, mantra yoga, tantra yoga, tãraka yoga, kundalinî yoga, sahaja yoga and so forth. Even in this century we hear the new names for yoga as power yoga, hot yoga, anusarã yoga and so on.

Yoga means the union of the jîvatmã with Paramãtmã. Patañjali speaks of yoga as cittavrttinirodha or restraint of fluctuations in the consciousness.

Lord Krishna defines yoga as
Yogah karmasu kausalam
Skilfulness in action is yoga.
Samatvam yoga ucyate
Equanimity in word, thought and deed is yoga.

Even he goes to the extent of terming yoga as duhkha nivrtti yoga. It means getting rid of afflictions is yoga.
Saman kãya-Siro-grivan dhãrayan acalam sthirah I (B.G., 4.13)
Balancing the citta and maintaining its right side and left side evenly in line with the crown of the head, centre of the throat and perineum is yoga.

Yoga has two ways of action. If one is abhyãsa (practice) and the other is vairãgya (renunciation)

Practice is that which has to be done un-interruptedly and persistently for a long time to build a firm foundation to reach the state of stability in the citta. The practice has to be like a farmer who tills the land, waters it, ploughs and removes the weeds before sowing the seeds and tends them carefully to get the finest of harvest. The yogic practitioner has to work like a farmer. He has to plough the body, remove the weeds which are in the form of fluctuations, afflictions and impediments like arrogance and carelessness that come in the way of practice. Yoga needs the quality of observance in day-to-day’s practice and progress that takes place until one experiences the ananta – the ‘infinite’ – that exists within each of us. It is called citi shakti.

Vairãgya or renunciation is another method of sãdhanã where one has to cultivate detachment from temptations of desires and attractions. Hence Patañjali is keen that the practitioners stick to these two sides of practice of yoga. As a bird can fly higher and higher with its two wings, the practitioners have to use these two wings of yoga to claim the spiritual height through yoga.
Vitarkah himsãdayah krta kãrita anumoditãh lobha krodha moha purvakah mrdu madhya adhimãtrah duhkha ajñãna anantaphalãh iti pratipakshabhãvanam  I (Y.S., II.34)
Due to want of knowledge or uncertainty in understanding, we are caught in violence, whether done directly or indirectly or condoned which are caused by greed, anger and infatuation, whether in mild, moderate or in intense degree terminates with endless pain and ignorance. In order to come out from these clutches of suffering, the method of yoga is discovered for correct living.

A mirror covered with dust obscures right reflection whereas a clean mirror reflects the objects clearly. It is the same with the citta or the consciousness in our words, thoughts and deeds.

As the mind and citta are interwoven with desires (vãsanãs) and subliminal impressions (samskaras), yogic practices clean the mirrors of the Soul – the mind, intelligence, I-ness and the Consciousness – so that the Soul reflects without any refractions or distractions.

Actually Patañjali begins yoga with bhakti mãrga – Îshvara pranidhãnãt vã (Y.S., I.23). As Patañjali realises that it is not possible to one and all to follow total surrender towards God, he suggests various ways to reach the path of bhakti. He speaks of yoga of action through tapahsvãdhyãyaÎshvarapranidhãnãnikriyãyogah (Y.S., II.1). This actually covers karma mãrga, jñãna mãrga and bhakti mãrga denoting that Pãtañjala yoga is the foundation for one to experience the importance of the other path.

If one observes carefully, Patañjali covers tapas, svãdhyãya and Îshvara pranidhãna in the ashtanga yoga of yama, niyama, ãsana, prãnãyãma, pratyãhãra, dhãranã, dhyãna and samãdhi.

Tapas covers yama and niyama, ãsana, prãnãyãma and pratyãhãra covers svãdhyãya while dhãranã, dhyãna and samãdhi covers Îshvara pranidhãna.

As man is endowed with five sheaths annamaya, prãnamaya, manomaya, vijñãnamaya and ãnandamaya or cittamaya kosha, these eight aspects of yoga cover these various sheaths or layers of the Soul so that one reaches through sãdhanã – the ultimate aim – purusha jñãna and purushãnubhava.

The citta being the subtlest part of the principles of nature is the most difficult one to bring under cognition. If yama and niyama help in integrating organs of action and the senses of perception, ãsana, prãnãyãma and pratyãhãra, work in integrating the whole of the body in totality, integration of prãna or energy and mind, whereas dhãranã, dhyãna and samãdhi help in integrating the intelligence transforming the I-ness into ahamkãra vrtti nirod ha, so that the practitioner reaches a state of humbleness to surrender his very self to God or Universal Self.

Having given the bird’s view of ashtanga yoga, the most difficult part of yoga is to understand the citta, though citta is the bridge to cross over from the five finite sheaths of the body towards the infinite sheath – the Soul which is ever illuminative and changeless.

Due to variance in the quality of intelligence or buddhi, citta expresses its quality differently according to one’s way of thinking, hence it cannot illumine itself as it is the object or the agent of the Soul, and cannot comprehend both the soul and itself at the same time.
ekasamaye ca ubhaya anavadhãranam I (Y.S., IV.20)
As citta expresses in variant directions, they are termed as vyutthãna citta, nirodha citta, shanta citta, ekãgra citta, ahamkãra citta or asmita citta, chidra citta and divya citta. These are the seven states or stages of citta. Except divya citta, the other states of citta are entwined with the disturbing or pratikula – contrary thoughts which block man’s intelligence towards spiritual knowledge. For example, five
vrttis (pramãna viparyaya vikalpa nidrã smrtayah I Y.S., I.6)
may be painful or non-painful. But they definitely fluctuate the mind and consciousness. Besides vrttisthe mind and consciousness are also held in the net of five kleshas -
avidyã asmitã rãga dvesha abhiniveshãh kleshãh I (Y.S., II.3)
These five klesha-s cover intellectual defects of the head, emotional upheavals and instinctive fear of death.

Then come the antarãyas which imbalance one in his words, thoughts and deeds. These antarãyas are:
vyãdhi styãna samshaya pramãda ãlasya avirati bhrãntidarshana alabdhabhumikatva anavasthitatvãni cittavikshepah te antarãyãh I (Y.S., I.30)
They stand for disease, inertia, doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses, erroneous views, lack of perseverance and back sliding.
These nine impediments are supported by:
duhkha daurmanasya angamejayatva shvãsaprashvãsãh viksepa sahabhuvah I (Y.S., I.31)
Sorrow, despair, unsteadiness of the body and laboured breathing fluctuates the mind for further suffocation.
At the same time, citta is endowed with anukula vrttis which are favourite and friendly as well as supporting vrtti-sthat help one to move towards divya citta. These are:
maitrî karunã muditã upeksãnãm sukha duhkha punya apunya visayãnãm bhãvanãtah cittaprasãdanam I (Y.S., I.33)
Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favourably disposed, serene and benevolent.
pracchardana vidhãranãbhyãm vã prãnasya I (Y.S., I.34)
Or, by maintaining the pensive state felt at the time of soft and steady exhalation and during passive retention after exhalation.
visayavatî vã pravrttih utpannã manasah sthiti nibandhanî I (Y.S., I.35)
Or, by contemplating an object that helps to maintain steadiness of mind and consciousness.
vishokã vã jyotismatî I (Y.S., I.36)
Or, inner stability is gained by contemplating a luminous, sorrowless, effulgent light.
vîtarãga visayam vã cittam I (Y.S., I.37)
Or, by contemplating on enlightened sages who are free from desires and attachments, calm and tranquil, or by contemplating divine objects.
svapna nidrã jñãna ãlambanam vã I (Y.S., I.38)
Or, by recollecting and contemplating the experiences of dream-filled or dreamless sleep during a watchful, waking state.
yathãbhimata dhyãnãt vã I (Y.S., I.39)
Or, by meditating on any desired object conducive to steadiness of consciousness.
When one reaches the state of intellectual and mental stability, then he – the sãdhaka does not depend upon authoritative books but is endowed with direct experiential wisdom which sprouts out from the core of his being as intuitive jñãna.
shruta anumãna prajñãbhyãm anyavisayã visheshãrthatvãt I (Y.S.,I.49)
Whether one practises yoga for health and happiness or for emancipation and liberation from bondage, it needs physical power, ethical power, mental power, intellectual power blended with philosophical wisdom.

Modern science has pills for physical pains or for sleep but I am not sure whether there is medicine for anxieties, sorrows and emotional disharmony.

With my experience I say with confidence that yoga generates confidence and positive approach to gain evenness in the development of vertical intellect of the head with the horizontal intelligence of the heart. This state is ‘shãnta’ citta or the state of poise. For me the brain is kurukshetra and heart is dharmashetra. In this state of shãnta citta, the mind and consciousness move to trace the ‘eka’ – the single intelligence which is agra (base) – that is the core of our life or the ãtman.

Today we are all afflicted by stress and strain. As such the two petals of yoga – ãsana and prãnãyãma which I say leads to svãdhyãya – self study or skill (yukti). Thus by tapas one gains shakti, by svãdhyãya - yuktiand by Îshvara pranidhãna – bhakti – the end purushãrtha of life.

Adherence to yogic practice brings cohesion between body, mind, intelligence, consciousness and the Soul. It helps to understand the function of the 24 principles of nature with the never changing principle of the Soul.

The relationship between prakrti and purusha is like the relationship with a righteous husband (pati) with a faithful wife Sati. If there is no pati, there is no Sati. It is the same with prakrti and purusha. That is why Patañjali explains while dealing on the effect of ãsanas.
“tatah dvandvãh anabhighãtah I” (Y.S., II.48)
The dualities or the differences between prakruti and purusha or satiand pati vanish and both remain in a state of unity.

Here the citta vrtti nirodha comes to a stand-still and the yogi lives in a tranquil state or becomes a shãnta cittam.

In this state:
etena bhutendriyesu dharma lakshana avasthã parinãmãh vyãkhyãtãh (Y.S., III.13)
It means the vastness of the Soul gets toned and tuned for further refinement by polishing the consciousness through ekãgrata citta to reach the essential permanent state of living in the abode of the Soul.

This ekãgrata citta is like a cliff. It intoxicates the ego due to its concentrative power or it may create pores in the consciousness or slit the intelligence and he may be caught again in vrttis, kleshas and antarãyas.

When the fuel is removed, the fire is extinguished. Similarly, if one is careful in ekãgrata citta and does not add fuel in the form of pride, then one directly experiences divya citta or absolute state of consciousness.
visheshadarshinah ãtmabhãva bhãvanãnivrttih I (Y.S., IV.25)
The separation between citta and ãtmãcomes to an end and the search for Self realisation ends.

This is the true effect of yoga. From then on the yogi shall not act in word, thought and deed which bring sorrow in himself or in the society.
tatah klesha karma nivrttih I (Y.S., IV.30)
Here comes the end of all karmas which generate klista and from here on he – the perfect yogi does only aklista or non-painful action.

Before concluding, I like to say about the four pillars of the yoga sãdhanã. These are shraddhã (faith), vîrya (will power), smrti (imprints that accrues from practice to proceed towards spiritual knowledge) and samãdhi prajñã(profound awareness).

If these pillars are held firmly in our practices, then the infinite Soul (brahmãnda) that is covered with finite sheaths, (pindanda) are peeled one after the other for the yogi to experience the soul that dwells in its own splendour or grandeur.
tadã drastuh svarupe avasthãnam (Y.S., I.3)
Then he dwells as a Seer (ãtma darshinî) in his own splendour and grandeur.

This is how yoga leads one from the philosophy of sorrows towards emancipation and freedom from pain, fluctuations and obstacles to live in beatitude.