Raja Yoga

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Raja yoga has to do with discipline. If there is no discipline, problems in the family and in society arise. Therefore, raja yoga is necessary in order to evolve mentally in a disciplined way. All the elements of raja yoga concern discipline at different levels of the human body and mind, whether it is abstinence from untruth, violence or anarchical sexual relationships.

The laws of nature

When you have a cough, cold, fever or pain there is an element in the body called defence. It is another system in the body which helps one to become better. The people who have a weak defence system take time to recover; those who have a strong defence system become well quickly, even without medication. In fact, medicine is only required when the immune system is run down.

Scientists are talking about the laws of nature. In chemistry, physics, electronics and other branches modern science talks about the laws of nature. However, these laws do not merely belong to matter. They also belong to the field of energy, the field of intelligence and the field of consciousness. If the mind, the physical body and the emotions come under the laws of human nature, there should be some discipline. That discipline is known as raja yoga.

Raja yoga has an important place in society. For instance, in Bombay, people go to bed at 2 a.m. and wake up at 9 a.m. This is definitely not good for one's health. The laws of nature are fixed and definite and it is on the basis of these laws that science has formed its natural laws. They have become the foundation with which scientists have been able to work great miracles.

The laws of nature are not only valid for matter. Certain laws are also binding or controlling the mind. They govern the mind, prana, the vital force, actions, thoughts, and so on. Speaking a lie or the truth, hatred, passion, greed and compassion are different features of the laws of nature.

Reactions

It is said in the Bhagavad Gita that nature is both within and beyond. Everything in the world is guided by a cosmic law of nature through permutation or combination. When two chemicals are combined there is a reaction and a third element is born. Similarly, if the mind is mixed with hatred, something will take place.

According to raja yoga, a reaction takes place when an emotion mixes with the mind. It doesn't matter whether that emotion is violence or non-violence, truth or lie, celibacy or passion, renunciation or self-control. One cannot say that if truth is spoken nothing happens, and this is not something metaphysical or psychological, but the law of nature. When a part of violence and a part of the mind meet there has to be a reaction. However, until now this aspect has not been assessed.

Today most of the scientific experiments are being carried out on matter and not on the mind, except for psychology. Experiments are carried out under the heading of ‘research program': alpha, beta, theta and delta waves are the reactions of matter and the brain. Psychologists have not yet come to the reactions of the mind, emotions, passions, ambition or depression.

Mind and emotion

A reaction takes place when one speaks bitterly and another when one speaks sweetly. If one speaks politely a third reaction takes place and if the truth is spoken with a pure heart yet another reaction takes place. When a boy is attracted to a girl a reaction takes place. This is the working of the mind and its association with various emotions.

It is a sort of fusion of emotions with the body and mind. The emotions may be passion, frustration, depression, ambition, fear, anxiety or many more. If these emotions come and interact with the mind, a reaction has to take place which cannot be understood by exposing a human being to machines. However, the play of these reactions can be seen in one's family life every day and it is the subject matter of raja yoga.

Raja yoga says that the mind must be brought under proper control so that it does not clash with the emotions. When one has fine emotions like compassion, charity, mercy, love, forgiveness and humility, the mind has no problem, as the reactions are mild. However, if one has tamasic emotions, anxiety, worry and neuroses, one must make the mind so strong that it is not the emotion which creates a reaction. It must be the mind which creates the reaction.

—10 October 1985, Ganga Darshan, Munger, India