Tuesday, March 15, 2011





VERSE.1 (continued)

Atha Yogaanusaasanam

Meaning : Now, the Discipline of Yoga.

What is  - NOW’?

We have discussed this in Post.1 and then saw a few good quotes from Eckhart Tolle (and others) in Post.2 – to gain an idea of what is Now and why it is more important than past and future.

Mind (or Chittha) never stays in the Now (or the present moment). It compulsively tends to drift either into the Past or into the future, thus living always in a world of memories and dreams. The ancient Yogis had realized however, that all secrets of human existence are available to us only in the Now. The mind should somehow be halted in the Now, in this present moment, from where, there is a great path into all the inner secrets of human existence. What happens when mind is halted in the Now? Let that be a tantalizing secret up to verse.2 which will follow.

There is also another explanation of Now. “Now, the discipline of Yoga” – the very tone and tenor of the words indicate that – an eligible disciple or student is about to be taught Yoga. The discipline of Yoga is Now to be explained by the Guru. Why Now – and not earlier?

The discipline of Yoga needs certain physical and mental qualities. Not every one is capable of receiving the discipline of Yoga. It requires prior preparation under the Guru. Two major qualities that are always prescribed are – Respect (Sraddha) and Belief (trust) in the Guru and the subject to be taught. In current days – we may ask – how will I imbibe  respect for the Guru before he teaches the subject? And, how will I  get belief in the subject, before I listen to it? 

When Swami Vivekananda (then, Narendra) went to Ramakrishna Parama Hamsa, this was his initial problem too. Rama Krishna convinced him in minutes. An extraordinary Intellectual like Vivekananda accepted Ramakrishna, a man with no academic touch, as his Guru. All disciples of Rama Krishna are high Intellectuals, but, all of them accepted Ramakrishna’s simple foresight and clarity and became his disciples. Ramakrishna was a great Yogi of his time.

In Yoga, there are accomplished Gurus. And, the benefits of Yoga are now reasonably well known. Yet, some People criticize even accomplished Yoga Gurus – without even going near them and seeing their personal accomplishments and without one day of training under them.

You will of course, doubt them and the subject – if you do not even watch them for a few days closely. But, this is merely due to the Ego problems in you – and has nothing to do with the science of Yoga or its accomplished Gurus.

If you are a criticizer of Yoga or Yoga Gurus -  you can be sure of failure in Yoga. Respect for the Guru and trust in the subject of Yoga are essential, for progress in Yoga. We will see - why it is so, as we progress further.

Yoga is a discipline, a science. It has its rules, conditions, methods, paths and so on – and all experimentation is on the student himself. This is most unlike all other sciences. There is probably no other science – where so much of experimentation happens every moment of the study – on the learner of the science himself. Mere Theoretical learning, not followed by practice, is of very little value – in the science of Yoga. Can you become a Black Belt in Karate, merely by studying Books? It is much more so in Yoga.

Lord Krishna has however clarified – Don’t worry if you are unable to reach the highest point in Yoga, even after some effort, due to some problems in this or a previous birth. Your present accomplishments in Yoga will come along with you even to the next birth. Readers may see the relevant posts on Dhyana Yoga in this Blog for more details.

So, now, we know what is Now and what is discipline. But, the last word is ‘Yoga” itself.

You must be united, or joined – with ‘your own self!!!’ This is the purpose of Yoga. So what is this ‘your own self’; where are you now in relation to your own self; why and how are you not already united with your own self, and what is preventing this joining – these are all questions which will become clear as we proceed further with each sutra.

If Yoga is not this great a science – Lord Krishna would not have dealt with it in one whole chapter in Bhagavad Gita, the Swethaswatharopanishad (a much earlier text) would not have devoted its whole second chapter to this subject, and many, many great sages would not have lived (and many still living) in deep forests, on the peaks of hills and in deep caves constantly practicing yoga.

But, why do they choose such lonely and outlandish places? All these will be answered as we go further.

Now let us will proceed to verse.2 :

Verse 2

Yogah Chittha vritthi Nirodhah

The beauty of all the verses in the Yoga sutras is - their extraordinary brevity, which we cannot find even in any other Sanskrit verses.

Patanjali does not use one word beyond the absolute minimum – which implies that he assumes some knowledge of Yoga and its jargon on the part of his disciples. Yoga  was taught – always in deep forests, mountain tops or deep caves and such other places, where the Yogis had their Ashrams. Even now, many such Ashrams exist, as they are more conducive places for Yoga. Why so – will be explained later.

Now, Verse.2 defines Yoga in very simple terms. Is it a definition or is it explaining merely the path of yoga – is difficult to state. Either way, even if it is only the path and not the goal – yet, this verse is very significant. This verse has four words as below :

(i)         Yoga = Union; to yoke; or join two things together;

(ii)       Chittha = mind or mind-stuff or mind-field; In simple terms, it is the thoughts and emotions that exist in us , and their movements, which we call as Chittha;

(iii)     Vritthi : all activities, changes, fluctuations and modifications which happen in our chittha.

(iv)     Nirodhah = It is difficult to state its meaning by a single word. But, as we proceed, what is chittha vritthi nirodhah will become crystal clear. It can be positively construed as bringing the Vritthis under one’s control or mastery, or as restraining or keeping outside of the  Vritthis.

Shall we say – yoga is mind-control? In one way, it is. Do we know that all of our unhappiness, all of our sorrows and all of our dilemmas and confusions in life are due to the mind and its constant changes from past to present and again to the past and so on?

Do we know that we are not controlling the mind, but, most of the time, the mind is controlling us? If you take extreme cases, a drunkard or drug addict is under total control of his mind, which is itself a slave to these habits. It is very difficult to bring this mind out of these habits. We know that.

It is not only the addicts’ minds. Our minds are equally so – although they have not fallen for such life threatening habits. Mind, is habit-bound.

One habit of the  Mind  is – that it is constantly shifting from one thought to another with each of their changing emotions. It never stays on a single thought for a reasonable time.

Another related habit of the mind is – that it can never face the NOW, the present moment – except in a very, very fleeting moment in its journeys between the past and the present. Either it wants to dwell on memories (of past) or dreams (of the future).

It just can’t stay in the present. This is the problem of the mind. Therefore, that is the problem of the Individual too – Your problem and Mine.

World over – it has been recognized from very ancient days – that man’s real goal is constant happiness. But, only the Indian Yogis found the path to that constant happiness. That path is Yoga.

The ancient Yogis have found that the path of Yoga starts by mastering, controlling and restraining the mind from indulging in its vritthis, its changes, modifications, in fact all of its work.

We begin to wonder now. How can I survive if I do not allow my mind to think at all?

We will allow the mind to channelize its thinking into the ways we want.  There is again a point to ponder now. Who is this I or WE that we are talking of – who must master, control, restrain or channelize the working of the mind. Is it not the mind which does all this by itself? Am I not the one who is identified with the mind?

The operations of the mind are to be clearly understood. There is an external object which we see, smell, taste, touch or hear. These are sensed by our external physical, sensory organs of Eyes, Nose, tongue, skin and ears. From there, these sensory stimulii are carried inward to the brain by a nervous system, which is also physical. The brain receives the information from all these different sources, synthesizes all the information and presents them to YOU.

YOU are the one who really sees – though the mind, the nervous system, the external physical organs and the external object are all involved in the process. The synthesizing mind is also an interpreter which colours what it receives, with what info is already in it.

In all this process, the physical parts involved belong to what is known as Sthoola Sareera (Gross Body). The interpretive faculties etc belong to a subtle body (
Sookshma Sareera) which cannot be seen with naked eyes. When death comes, only the Gross body dies, but the subtle body leaves it for either taking a rebirth or  for other purposes - which were dealt with in other blog posts on Dhyana Yoga etc. The subtle body contains the chittha, manas, Buddhi, and ahankara; but for our purpose here, Chittha is used for all of these combined. Their various functions or Vritthis are dealt with in another Verse in Yoga Sutras. Thus, mastering, controlling, restraining or channeling – is needed in respect of all these components of Chittha.

Now, let us look at the Verse again. Yoga is the controlling (mastering, restraining or channeling) of the functions of the Chittha, usually expressed in English as mind-stuff. Here, We are looking at Yoga as a PATH. Controlling mind-stuff is the PATH. It is not the END in itself.

The END is attaining the highest JOY that there is. This will be examined as we progress further. For the present, we may wonder, what happens when we master the Chittha Vritthis?

The answer comes in the Next verse (in next post).

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