Aspiration of Raja Yoga

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

There is a word in Sanskrit: vibhu. Vibhu means inter connectedness. This inter connectedness is the quality that true yogis desire. Inter connectedness and bliss are the two things that yogis crave when they are involved in their sadhana, whether in the Himalayan caves in their isolation or amid people in a community. They await the experience of vibhu and ananda. At the end of the Saundarya Lahari we chant four mantras:

Namaste namaste vibho vishwamurte
Namaste namaste chidanandamurte
Namaste namaste tapoyogagamya
Namaste namaste shrutijnaanagamya.

These four lines indicate the aspiration of raja yoga. First it is acknowledging, ‘I surrender’. Namaste, Namaste - “I surrender, I surrender”, not “I salute.” I surrender to what? To vibho-vishwamurte - that cosmic form which is interconnected. This is not a philosophical concept, on the contrary, it is a down-to-earth practical experience that everybody has.

An example: when you seek love, what are you seeking? Connection. When you love, it is interconnection. As long as that love is pure, there is upliftment, but you change that love with your tamasic and rajasic qualities. Therefore initially there is happiness but later on discontentment comes in. The initial effort was of connection, and everybody wants to be connected. However, the connection that you seek with your friends and family members is not the spiritual connection; it is a gross, material, selfish connection, based on desires, expectations and individual perceptions.

If you forget that self-oriented connection, and experience your connection to be the appropriate, the true and the pure one, without the influence of tamas and rajas, then can you imagine the state of happiness that will be all around, the state of fulfilment that will be all around? That will be the state of vibhu.

Sri Swami Satyananda spoke of atmabhava, the state of mind where you are able to see yourself in others, and it is part of the vibhu awareness. It allows you to connect even with strangers. Through atmabhava you connect not only with those who fulfil your needs and whims, but also with those whose needs you need to fulfil. Ultimately, that is the connection of atmabhava. That cosmic self or higher self represents the connection with each and every thing. Therefore, the first acknowledgement is of that cosmic nature: Namaste, namaste, vibhovishwamurte.

That interconnected, universal nature is also identified in the second line: chidanandamurte, representing the total consciousness and bliss in consciousness. Not a single part, fraction or percentage of the consciousness is devoid of that whole experience; it is chidanandamurte.

The way to attain this inter connectedness and bliss is given in the third and fourth lines. You can experience that vibhu and chidananda state through tapas, austerity, and yoga, practice, discipline. You can experience it through shruti, listening and imbibing, not inferring your own ideas, but imbibing and trying to understand; through jnana, knowing. These are the four components to come to that level.

Yoga is not just a simple com for table practice; it is also a tapas. If you do it in the right spirit, in the correct manner, with the appropriate awareness, it becomes a tapas. Tapas means to purify and bring out the pure from within. When you put gold in fire and heat it, all the fluff of the gold comes to the surface and can be removed. Heating of gold is tapas. Heating of the hard potato is tapas. After all, the potato goes through tapas boiling in hot water, in order to become soft.

People want experience without effort, and that is human nature. Humans are the species that wants to have everything without any effort. They shy away from effort, and to avoid effort they create a false image of themselves. If you compare all humans on a scale of intelligence, you will find that nobody is equal, yet everybody wants to prove that they are better than the other person. You are always trying to project what you are not. That is the tamasic ahamkara.

To transcend the tamasic ahamkara and experience ananda, a process has to be followed, and it is a simple one. The most important thing, which people do not realize, is that if the goal is ananda then you have to begin with happiness. That is why the first yoga yama is manah prasad, happiness. That is the beginning of the string that will take you to its end at ananda.

If you have to enter a dark cave and somebody gives you a string, you hold on to the string and find your way through the cave. You catch hold of the beginning of the string, and gradually inch your way through the darkness with its help, until you reach the other side. The part of the string you were given to hold at the beginning is one extreme and you have to gradually come to its end. Holding on to the string of manah prasad, you have to start working your way forward until you come to satchitananda; from micro to macro. Therefore begin with manah prasad and go to ananda.

—27 October 2016, Ganga Darshan, Munger, Raja Yoga Training - Module 1 (Extract)