Samskara and Samskriti

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

This Symposium is definitely going to open a new vista for people who are interested in experiencing yoga. It has been made clear that today people think of yoga as a group of exercises and gymnastics, whether mental or physical. The depth, the intent and the aspirations of yoga are not under-stood by anyone. People have opinions that yoga is for illumination, self-realization, samadhi, moksha, liberation, and so on. In reality, yoga has only two purposes: cultivation of the appropriate samskara to allow balanced expression of thought, behaviour and action, and attainment of the appropriate culture to enhance creativity in life.

Thought, behaviour and action are the three components inherent in every human being. You are always influenced by your thoughts, always expressing a particular behaviour, and always involved in action. These are the three predominant aspects of human life. They define an individual: how you think, behave and act. If thought, behaviour and action are negative and detrimental, they make a tamasic swabhava, nature. Therefore, it is these three that have to be corrected in order to live a proper life. I am not talking of spiritual life now, I am talking of a proper life, whether you live in an ashram or at home. The thoughts, behaviour and action have to be according to dharma, correctness of the moment and the situation. When everything follows dharma, then the samskara of righteousness is built up. The aim of yoga, through the branches and the practices, is to bring the condition of correctness in life.

People think of illumination as the attainment of yoga, however, Sri Swamiji says that is the last thing. Take the example that you are hungry. In order to satisfy your hunger, how much effort do you have to go through? You have to buy the foodstuff, wash, chop, cook, eat. Prior to eating you were hungry. After eating, the hunger is gone, you are satisfied, content, happy, tummy full. Samadhi, liberation, illumination or moksha is like that: the contentment that comes after fulfilment. But then you have to make the effort to come to that point of contentment. You have to buy the vegetable, chop, clean, cook, put the right ingredients in to make it tasty, then consume it, absorb it, and eliminate the waste. It is a whole process, yet you look at only two things: hunger and satisfaction from hunger. If you only look at these two aspects and ignore the process, one day you will forget how to cook and there won’t be any restaurants either where you can go to eat.

You have to make the effort yourself, see things for yourself, analyse things for yourself, make decisions yourself, do the right thing yourself. Self-empowerment is a condition of yoga. Don’t ask the guru, don’t ask anybody. Apply your own wisdom, your own common sense. People become dependent, and that is a no. Do not become dependent on the guru. If you have done it or if you are doing it, you haven’t understood the concept of guru and disciple. People say, “I will do only what my guru says.” That is only a verbal statement, not an intention from the depth of one’s heart. Therefore one always remains a hypocrite, and yoga recognizes that. To counter this condition, yoga says don’t be dependent on anyone, come to a point with your own efforts and sadhana where you can harness your own potential. Do right, think right, behave in the appropriate manner and live a full life. Then you will find shanti, happiness, wholesomeness. This is the aim of the second chapter of yoga.

Throughout the globe, people are only practising the physical component of yoga and saying, “By practising asana I have become spiritual. By closing my nostrils I have become spiritual. By closing my eyes, which makes other people think that I am meditating but in reality I am sleeping, I have become spiritual.” How can movement of the body make you spiritual? You move the whole day long, have you become spiritual? How can breathing through one nostril and breathing out through the other nostril make you spiritual? You breathe day and night continuously, have you become spiritual? How can closing the eyes make you spiritual? You close your eyes every night when you sleep for eight hours, has that made you spiritual? Spirituality is an expression of the personality. It is the refinement of the human personality and nature, just as raw gold is put through a process to refine it.

When you receive a lump of gold, what is the first thing you have to do to make it usable as an ornament? Remove the impurities. Then you give it a shape, and finally, you wear it and let it adorn your body. Have you purified the lump of gold that you have received in the form of your personality? No. So don’t think of becoming a golden ornament. Right now, gold and grit are together, sattwa and tamas coexist. If you want to make an ornament, remove the grit, remove the tamas, and then you will shine like gold, for you will abide in sattwa. Once you begin to shine like gold in sattwa, then you can begin to give yourself a shape: a garland, a necklace, a ring, or any other form of jewellery. Remember that raw gold never becomes an ornament, and you are all raw.

You say you are associated with yoga, but have you developed the yogic samskara or samskriti in your life? No. You have only practised exercises under the name of yoga. You have never practised yoga, which means the fine-tuning of your mind. You have never made the effort to remove the negatives, rather people express the negative more forcefully in front of people who are trying to express the positive. Therefore there is no purification. The interesting thing is, yoga begins with purification: shatkarma. That is the idea given by the rishis: purify this lump of clay, remove the dross, retain the gold, give it a shape, wear it, and let the beauty of the ornament shine. People have done it. We see this in the life of the gurus and the masters who have gone through immense effort and difficulties in their life. You are receiving things easily: come to a classroom, sit down, learn and go back. The masters did not sit in classrooms to learn and go back. They learnt in real situations to manage their energies and their minds. They learnt in real situations how to change the negative into the positive. They lived that. They lived the vidya, the wisdom, the understanding. That living became the culture, the samskriti of their life.

Samskara and samskriti are the two directions of the new effort: the deepening of yogic experience by developing appropriate samskaras and by becoming more cultured. If people are able to understand and follow the wisdom of the sages who have given us the understanding of the path, then we shall definitely make a difference in the world. Then you will be able to have that peace and happiness as a natural, spontaneous expression of your life. Just as you naturally express anger, frustration, elation and joy, in the same manner, when shanti becomes natural then you will know you have attained the realization of yoga vidya. That is the samskara and the samskriti towards which we are walking now. So, welcome to all of you in this journey.

25 October 2018, Munger Yoga Symposium