Integral Yoga

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Hari Om. I want to be at home with you first.

Swami Sivananda Saraswati of Rishikesh was my guru, with whom I lived for many years and yoga is a subject which has attracted thousands of people. It has gone around the world without any royal patronage. Scientists and doctors are talking about yoga today, but compliments should not go to them. Compliments should go to the swamis, the mendicants and the wandering and unimpressive beggars of your country. They have crossed the barriers of religion and the political boundaries for over centuries and have brought this healing science of yoga not only to the heart and core of Indians, but also to the people who are far from this culture. It is to these wandering and unimpressive beggars who do not have a national status, even today, to them I pay my respect.

Head, heart and hands

Man is a composition of four temperaments: dynamic, emotional, psychic and rational. You are a composition of all, but one temperament can be predominant and the other can be subservient. Those who are rational predominantly by temperament, for them jnana yoga is the predominant yoga; then bhakti yoga, raja yoga, karma yoga can be practised.

In the same way, if you are dynamic by temperament, karma yoga becomes your main yoga, but bhakti yoga, raja yoga, jnana yoga must go along as well. Lopsided development of the personality is of no use. We always say, 'head, heart and hands' must be simultaneously developed. Bhakti yoga is for those who are emotionally predominant by temperament. Raja yoga is for those who are psychic by temperament. On this basis, bhakti, karma, raja and jnana yoga were discovered by the great rishis. A synthesis of yoga has to be there all the time.

We emphasize in this particular age, asana, pranayama and meditation, as they are not intellectual but practical. Many times when we practise karma yoga, we say, "I have nothing to do with this. God is the doer." It is all intellectual, because when we confront the situations in life, we fall flat. The type of sadhana which we want to do has to be a little more than intellectual or something else than intellectual.

You do asana, it is not intellectual; you do japa, it is not intellectual; you meditate, it is not intellectual. However, if you sit down and say, "I am Brahman, I am not atman, not the senses, I am not prana," it is okay. However, when you are facing the problem you forget everything. You become the enjoyer of karma and karma phala, in spite of asserting every day that "I am not the doer, I am not the enjoyer."

Therefore karma yoga is true, bhakti yoga is true, jnana yoga is true, but to make them more tangible, more true and more effective in life, there has to be a practical approach to yoga. I have found from a majority of people that asana, pranayama, mantra and dhyana are very simple, very non-intellectual. In the morning or whenever you practise, practise all the four yogas.

True evolution

The evolution has to take place in an integrated manner, because we do not want evolution to go in such a way that humanity becomes extinct after a few decades. So the process of evolution has to be balanced. The basis of evolution should be inner awareness, inner experience. We have seen in the last few hundred years, that civilizations, cultures, education and national organizations have been based on man's external experience or material experience. As a result of this there has been some sort of prosperity, because these systems based on material philosophy have been very reckless, they have not cared for anything; they just went on like a bulldozer.

Prosperity was created and things appeared to be better for sometime, and we thought that we were evolving. As we went deep into ourselves, honestly and sincerely, we found that we were not evolving. This evolution, which we thought was real evolution, did undermine the quality of our soul, the quality of our experiences, the quality of our interaction, the quality of our behaviour in the family.

In the last fifty years, thinkers basing themselves on external experience are now at a crossroads. They have started rethinking. They want to know whether they are to go further or they are to come back. They expect some sort of precipitous yield, some sort of brink somewhere, and they think that if they go beyond it they might be destroyed. When I talk about evolution, I think there is an inner voice, an inner experience and an inner plan which must be revealed to you, to me, to our wise men, to my parents or my rulers, or to those thinkers. Those inner experiences must be dictated or must be accomplished by other people in the external life.

Evolution should always mean inner evolution first. On the basis of that inner evolution, society must be structured, nations, institutions and your social codes must be structured.

—24 December 1982, Homi Baba Atomic Research Institute, Mumbai, India