Synthesis of Yoga

Swami Madhavananda, Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Ranchi

I feel honoured and blessed to be here with you. I represent the Chinmaya Mission and my topic is 'Synthesis of Yoga'. This is what Swami Sivananda has explained in fouryogas.

The word 'yoga' is used often in our vedic literature. The Vedas say: Karma­kandopasanakanda jnanakanda. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna speaks to Uddhava in the eleventh canto about different yogas. The Bhagavad Gitahas eighteen chapters and each chapter is named as a different yoga, like 'Vishada Yoga', 'Samkhya Yoga', etc.

What is the meaning of yoga? As you know, in Sanskrit every word derives from a root. In the word 'yoga', the root is yuj, to join. So yogais a means, a technique to join with the Supreme Goal. As Pujya Swamiji was elaborating yesterday, there are two types of systems. One is of Sage Patanjali and the other is Swami Sivananda's eightfold method. Swami Sivanandaji speaks about the synthesis of yoga, mainly of karma yoga, ashtanga yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga. I will shed some light on these four yogas.

Karma yoga

First is karma yoga. What is the difference between karma and karma yoga? Everybody is compelled to perform action on account of his desires and vasanas. What then is the difference between karma and karma yoga? Swamiji has emphasized on seva several times. Karma yoga is otherwise known as nishkama karma or seva. It is the method or the means for sadhana. Karma yoga, as Lord Krishna says in the third chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, is the doctrine of action. Karmameans action, karma yoga means dedicated action. In action, there are three demerits. One is kartritva bhava, the feeling of doership. The second is attachment towards action, and the third is desire for a fruit. In dedicated action or karma yoga, these three demerits are eliminated. One says, "I am not doing. God is doing through me." Naham karta, Hari karta.

In karma yoga the first point is to think, 'I am an instrument. Thy will be done, not mine. I am just the instrument. 'Nimittamatram bhava savyasachin – "Arjuna, be an instrument." In karma yoga the sadhaka feels like an instrument. Here at this Convention, as Swamiji said, during whatever work you are doing, you are feeling like an instrument. That is karma yoga.

The second point in karma yoga is that there is no attachment to the action. Not that the person thinks, 'The particular work that I want to do should be given to me.' No. The thought is, 'I am an instrument. Any work that is given to me I will do happily.'

The third point is not to desire for the fruit of action. Lord Krishna says in the Gita: Karmanyevadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana – "Don't think about the fruit." The fruit you will get, but don't desire it. You don't get what you desire, you get what you deserve. If you deserve the fruit, you will get it. Therefore, in the doctrine of action, or karma yoga, the thought is, 'I am an instrument, I am totally surrendered to God.' This is a beautiful word, 'surrender'. Say it after me: Surrender. Surrender. That means when the 'sur' – which means head in Hindi – is under the feet of God, one becomes 'surrendered'.

Ashtanga yoga

Now let us get to the second yoga, ashtanga yoga, which is being narrated by Lord Krishna in the sixth chapter. As you are the sadhakas of ashtanga yoga, you know the eightfold path of Patanjali, as Swamiji was narrating yesterday: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

The first and second steps in the eightfold path are the yamas and niyamas, the ten values. Bahya mulya sthiti visheshah yamah, antara mulya sthiti visheshah niyamah. The sadhaka has to inculcate these ten values. It is beautifully said that if you don't stand up for one value, then you fall in every value. That means for attaining the goal of sadhana, these ten values must be inculcated within us. What I value – that I should do; and what I do – that I should value. So the values should be there in our lives. Here in the Bihar School of Yoga and in other spiritual institutions, these values are being inculcated.

The third is asana: Sharira sthiti visheshah.Asana is a special condition of the body. The fourth is pranayama, control of the vital air. The fifth is pratyahara, withdrawal of the sense organs away from the sense objects and placing them 'in their own cavity'. The sixth is dharana or concentration. It is a state of the mind. The seventh is dhyana, meditation. Tatra pratyayaikatanata, buddhi sthiti visheshah. Samadhi, the last state of atman.

All these branches are narrated beautifully by Lord Krishna in the sixth chapter of the Gita:

Shanaih shanairuparamed buddhyaa dhriti­griheetayaa;
Aatmasamstham manah kritwaa na kinchidapi chintayet.

Arjuna, don't think anything. Let your mind be placed in Atman. Concentration, meditation and samadhi are explained.

Bhakti yoga

Now we come to bhakti yoga. This is what Lord Krishna explains in the twelfth chapter, which is also titled 'Bhakti Yoga'. Bhakti is the mind, and jnana is the intellect. Let me explain to you what the mind is and what the intellect is. They are the two inner instruments. There are three instruments which we have received as free gifts when we took birth; one is the body, the second is the mind, and the third is the intellect. The physical body is the gross body, or sthoola sharira. The mind is the subtle body, or sukshma sharira. What is the mind? The mind is a flow of thoughts, a flow of emotions. Acharya Shankaracharya says in his text Tattwa Bodh:

Sankalpa-vikalpaatmikam manah
Vimarshaatmika antahkarana vrittih iti manah.

The emotional faculty is the mind, whereas the intellect is a rational faculty, the nischayatmika buddhi: Nischayatmika antahkarana vritti iti buddhih. Now let us discuss about the mind and its emotions. Emotions are neither bad nor good. Emotions towards God become devotion. Emotions towards the world become attachment. The kirtan that Swamiji conducts every day is devotion. Whatever we chant, whatever we sing, all penetrate, surrender and merge with God; it becomes devotion. Emotions plus God, emotions plus higher emotions, emotions in promotion become devotion. Emotions in demotion become attachment. This devotion is explained in the twelfth chapter of the Gita, and Lord Krishna states different types of sadhanas.

Jnana yoga

Now let us come to jnana yoga, the path of knowledge, the path of wisdom, the path of enquiry, the path of viveka, dissection and intellect. The quality of the intellect is to think, to dissect. In jnana yoga, we are thinking and questioning: 'From where does this object come? From where have these created objects been created?'

The Upanishads deal mainly with jnana yoga. There is no Upanishad without a question from a disciple. The Upanishads are sessions between the teacher and the taught on Brahma vidya. The topic is the thinking process – jnana yoga. Through intellect the sadhaka enquires. Ramana Maharshi, for instance, would tell everybody who went to him, "Enquire 'Who am I?'" Therefore, in jnana yoga the sadhaka thinks, 'Who am I? What is my purpose of birth? What is my purpose of life? What do I have to do?' Generally it is difficult to think. We have poverty in thinking. We have demerits in thinking. The first demerit is that people don't think: no thinking. The second is thinking very little, and the third is wrong thinking. No thinking is avicharah. Avichare krite bandhah, vicharena vimuchyate – "Not thinking leads to bondage, and thinking leads to liberation."

The great western philosopher Socrates said, "Ignorance is the cause of all sorrows." It is a great statement by him. The second statement is, "Ignorance is the greatest sin." If we are ignorant, we don't know who God is, who we are. That means we are sinning, and it is the cause of all sorrows.

The second demerit is less thinking. Suppose we are compelled to think, but we think very little. We feel too bored to think. We feel too frustrated to think. Therefore we leave our thoughts. So thinking less is the second demerit: swalpa vicharah.

Suppose that we think the false way, we think wrongly? That is bhrama vicharah, kuvicharah, and it is the third demerit, wrong thought.

These are the three demerits in thinking. So the great masters say, "Think right." Right thinking, samyaka vicharah, as Swamiji was speaking about yesterday, is knowledge.

Generally, what happens is that when thinking, we think in terms of 'I have no problems' or 'I have problems.' The great masters say, "You don't have problems. You are the problem." So it is not, 'I have a problem', no, it is, 'I am the problem'. To think, 'I have no problem' means 'I am not a problem'. We think, 'I have a problem,' 'You have a problem,' but the great masters think beautifully. They say, "No, think like this: 'I have no problem, I am the problem'."

The great masters say that in our dealings with people, we come across two types: those who have difficulties and those who are difficult. While dealing with them, we have to think whether the person has difficulties or is difficult. Think minutely in each case. Lastly, the great masters, the rishis, have inspired us to think that we are atman. That is why in kirtan we sing, Shivoham, Shivoham, Shivoham. Naham dehah – " I am not the body, I am not the intellect, I am not the vital air, I am not the ego. I am that atman." This is jnana yoga.

Asangoham Asangoham Asangoham Punah Punah
Satchidanadaroopoham Ahamevaahamavyayah.

I am unattached, unattached, unattached, again and again. I am consciousness, bliss, existence.

The great masters such as Swami Sivananda and Swami Satyananda have given us this thought: 'You are not the body.'

Synthesis of yoga

In conclusion, while acting, we must each think, 'I am an instrument.' In devotion we should think, 'I am a bhakta, I am the part and the Lord is whole.' While thinking on the seat of meditation, we must think, 'I am that, the Lord. Soham. Soham.'

Lord Rama asks Hanuman, "What is your identity?" Hanuman says, Dehadrishtva tu dasoham – "In relevance of the body, I am your servant and you are the master. Jivadristva todanshakah – In relevance of the jiva, I am the part and you are the whole; I am the created and you are the creator. Tattwadrishtva jnanadrishtva twameva aham – In relevance of knowledge, the essence, I am you and you are me. Soham.

This is the synthesis of yoga as our Paramgurudeva has given. I am really delighted to be here under the leadership of Swami Niranjananandaji, because we are all family members. Swami Chinmayanandaji, Swami Chidanandaji and Swami Satyanandaji are disciples of Swami Sivanandaji, and as I am a disciple of Swami Chinmayanandaji, so we all are family members. And truly, under the leadership of Swami Niranjananandaji, this conference is so vast and well-conducted. I feel proud that one of our family members could develop and conduct such a vast conference.

I also feel proud and offer prostrations to Swami Niranjananandaji and Swami Satyasanganandaji for inviting our guruji, Swami Tejomayanandaji, who sent me, so I am representing the Chinmaya Mission. I am honoured to be invited in this ocean of devotion and dedication. Really, when you listen you do not listen tentatively, you listen attentively, and this is due only to Swamiji, for he has trained you in such a way. Thank you.

—Address, 25 October 2013, Polo Ground, Munger