Crores of Yogas

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

28th October 1950

Early in the morning, in spite of going to bed so late the previous night, Siva was ready for his work at 6am, after a rest of barely four hours.

Three mandaleshwaras lunch together

As soon as Siva came, the other two mandaleshwaras also came. Our host had invited all of them to lunch at Lakshmi Bagh. It was a grand sight, the 'Big Three': Siva, Maheshwaranandaji and Prem Puriji, sitting in the centre and all around them their disciples. It was a sacred feast. Our pious hosts dispensed with servants and assistants and took delight in serving themselves the sannyasins. The Chapter 15 of the Gita, the Mahamantra and the Mrityunjaya mantra were chanted and we concluded with Shanti Path. While the lunch was in progress, devout mothers in attendance sang sacred hymns in praise of the Lord: Devi Aparadha Kshamapana Stotra, etc. At 4 pm Siva left Lakshmi Bagh.

To the minute punctuality

Our host had fixed with the AIR Station director that Siva would be at the Station at 6.30 pm to record a speech to be broadcast from the Bombay Centre of the AIR. Siva was received at the Blavatsky Lodge by the president and principal members of the committee of the Spiritual Centre. Mandaleshwar Prem Puriji was delivering his discourse. When Siva got on the dais, the mandaleshwar was requested to suspend his discourse so that Siva could conclude his and leave for his next engagement. After the Om kirtan, Siva said:

"The Bombay Spiritual Centre is doing very good work. I have been in touch with this centre for many years. I have been sending messages to them. I pray that the public of Bombay might cooperate with the workers of the Centre so that it may become one of the most dynamic spiritual institutions not only in India, but in the whole world at large.

Such spiritual centres are the need of the hour. When you meditate alone, for the first few minutes you meditate in all seriousness, then you begin to doze. You begin to fall into a sort of slumber. Tandra, sleepiness, and alasya, idleness, if not nidra, sleep, itself, overpowers you. But in congregational prayer, in common meditation in a group, just as is done at these spiritual centres, you generate a huge mass of spiritual current, and everyone is benefited by his neighbour's currents which help him to practise meditation vigorously.

Maya is working in a variety of ways. Dark, antagonistic forces assail man from all directions. At the same time, God is so very gracious. It is He who brings into being these centres, and helps divine forces to grow. They promote the spread of the message of yoga.

Yoga is union with the Lord. Any sadhana or any practice that helps you to steady the mind and fix it on the Lord is yoga. There are different ways of achieving this. There should be different ways, because capacities vary, tastes and temperaments differ. A man is full of emotions; he can take up his tanpura and sing songs. The mind is captured very easily by music. Some do shabda upasana, laya yoga, and they attain samadhi. Only four or five yogas are mentioned in texts. But, there are crores of yogas. All of them lead to the same goal.

The chain that binds

You are the Supreme Purusha in essence. You are a silent witness of all the actions of prakriti. Through mysterious ignorance, avidya, you imagine that you are related to prakriti and that you derive pleasure from the objects of the world that are prakriti's toys. The transcendental awareness of unity is broken now, and the notions of 'I', 'you', and 'he' arise. This is asmita. The consciousness of the Purusha now flows outward towards prakriti, through the medium of the mind or the buddhi.

The ego arises and distinguishes one from the other and the buddhi begins to classify experiences as pleasant and unpleasant. This gives rise to likes (you like pleasant experiences) and dislikes (you dislike unpleasant experiences). This is raga-dwesha. They further strengthen your distinctive existence, and you cling to life as a separate individual. This is abhinivesha. This is duhkha parampara. This is a vicious circle. This goes on until you are able to release yourself from experiencing the play of prakriti. This sense experience naturally manifests itself in the form of vrittis in the mind-lake. When these vrittis are quelled, the chain that links the Purusha with the prakriti is broken, and the Purusha realizes His independence; you attain kaivalya moksha.

All yogas lead to one

Raja yoga prescribes the eightfold practices to achieve moksha. Yama and niyama pave the way. Asana and pranayama enable you to realize the truth about life. You go beyond the pairs of opposites. You no longer cling to individualistic living. Abhinivesha is rooted out. Pratyahara and dharana take you beyond raga-dwesha. Dhyana dissolves the ego or asmita. Finally, in nirvikalpa samadhi, the veil of ignorance is torn and you are liberated.

There is another view. According to jnana marga, the individual's liberation is effected through the annihilation of mala, impurities of the mind, vikshepa, removal of the tossing of the mind, and avarana, tearing of the veil of ignorance. Raja yoga achieves all these, too. Yama and niyama annihilate the impurities of the mind. Asana, pranayama and pratyahara steady the mind and make it one-pointed. Dharana, dhyana and samadhi remove the veil of ignorance and lead to liberation.

First essentials in sadhana

All the systems of sadhana, all yogas and all systems of yogic self-culture agree that the essential prerequisite for an aspirant for self-knowledge is dispassion. He must turn away from enjoyment of objects. Desire must be crushed, for it is desire that feeds the mind and fattens it. It is desire that brings up in the mind-lake countless vrittis every minute. It is desire that maintains the individual existence. It is desire that makes the Purusha want to enjoy the play of prakriti and thus get bound. When desire is annihilated, then the Purusha who rests in his own swaroopa in samadhi will realize that the real bliss which he sought after in the objects was and always is in himself; and that happiness in the objects was his own mental creation. When the mind thus ceases to present the objects before him, it ceases to exist. For what is the mind without its vrittis? Mind without thought is no mind at all. The bondage is broken through vairagya.

The next essential condition for release is abhyasa, intense and protracted practice of sadhana. Practice in the stilling of the mind makes in due time for perfect stillness or tranquility of the mind. Layer after layer of the chitta is cleared of the waves, and as each layer becomes still it reveals to the sadhaka its real contents. The sadhaka experiences various siddhis and divine visions, etc. But beware! You should not be led away into the by-lanes of siddhis. You would then miss the goal. Pursue your goal without ever being distracted. The goal is kaivalya or absolute independence. Continue your sadhana until such time as there remains none to practice; until the ego vanishes and ignorance disappears, and there is no perception of duality and multiplicity."

Siva concluded the lecture, and as he was getting down the steps, looked at the clock and then at Ajit, the host. He had kept his time to the minute.

At the AIR Station, the assistant director met Siva, at the entrance and led him to the studios. At the entrance to the studios, he was received by the Station director. After the usual voice tests, he commenced his talk. It was exactly 6.30 pm. Punctual to the second.

– From Sivananda's Lectures, during All-India and Ceylon Tour – 1950, Chronicler Swami Venkatesananda