Sunday, July 17, 2011





In previous Verses – we saw the significance of AUM (or OM) in representing Eeshwara. We must represent the whole Universe Internally, within our mind, with this pranava sound.  We must constantly repeat this primordial sound and contemplate on its meaning and significance. Thereby, our inner capabilities rise and we become capable of overcoming all obstacles in our path of Yoga.

If we repeat the sound by opening the mouth fully – the full sound of “aaaaa…UUooooo…mmmm…” will get uttered when we close the mouth slowly. We must then ensure that all three sounds are of equal duration (approximately). But, if the lips are closer to each other and we try to do the Japa of OM, which is the more popular way among Sadhakas, the sound comes out as OM and not as AUM. If the chanting is totally internal without movement of lips, again, the sound becomes OM. This also is advised for  Sadhakas. These are three ways of doing Japa. But, “artha Bhavanam”, or dwelling on the sound’s deeper significance  occurs in the last way, much better and more easily.

In the next Verse, Patanjali is telling us the principal Obstacles – which wean us away from progress in Yoga.
vyaadhi sthyaana samshaya
pramaada aalasya avirathi
bhraanthi-darshana alabdhabhoomikathva
anavasthithathva chittha vikshepa
the antharaayah

Ø  vyaadhi = disease - Mainly physical, but includes mental also
Ø  sthyaana = procrastination and resultant dullness, not willing to do any duty
Ø  samshaya = doubt
Ø  pramaada = carelessness, being inattentive
Ø  aalasya = slow, laziness
Ø  avirathi = Indulging in too much sense-related desires
Ø  bhraanthi-darshana = false perception, inability to see reality
Ø  alabdha-bhoomikathva = Not attaining firmness in each stage of practice
Ø  anavasthithathva = instability, slipping down, inability to maintain
Ø  chittha-vikshepa = Mental distractions
Ø  the = these are
Ø  antharaayah = the obstacles

It is true that Patanjali is very brief in laying down the Yoga Sutras. But, at the same time – he has not left any important point – which is not adequately covered in other ancient texts like Bhagavad Gita.  In verse.30 – he is clearly pointing out  9 types of distractions to Yoga. These are explained below briefly

(1) VYAADHI : The very first obstacle, Patanjali mentions is ‘DISEASE’. Disease is mainly of the physical body, though it also covers mental illnesses to some extent. Why we say this is – people suffering from certain mental illnesses, unfortunately, are totally incapable of Yoga practices. They can’t sit quiet. They can’t meditate. They can’t control their behavior. So, when Patanjali says –Vyaadhi, what is mainly meant is physical diseases.

In ancient scriptures also – it is said – ‘Deho devaalayo prokthah, Jeevo devah sanaathanah’ –meaning that, this physical body is the temple in which the jeeva (the Self) resides as the most ancient lord. Body is impermanent and Jeeva is permanent – but Jeeva has to maintain the Deha (body) well for realizing his own ancient status through Yoga.
The science of Ayurveda mentions that body can be maintained well – by ensuring the balance of the three Doshas namely – Vaatha, Pittha and Kapha.
Sri Sri Ravishankar, a Great contemporary Guru, advises Sadhakas to take TRIPHALA  tablets daily – to keep the three doshas in balance and keep digestion etc in proper mode. This Blog also advises this. There are many such advises from Gurus.
Lord Krishna mentions in Gita “yukthaahaara vihaarasya, yuktha chestasya Karmasu…” meaning that – Yogi must consume appropriate, balanced food, indulge in appropriate pastimes, perform appropriate duties..” Lord Krishna has given clear guidelines about the type of food to eat. One must not consume food kept  stored for long time. It must be reasonably fresh. It must be slightly sweetish (Not sweet) and not bitter, pungent etc. Eat Saathvic food, which promotes mental and physical strength and balance- and does not instill anger, jealousy etc.
This is the reason why this Blog has first covered Dhyana Yoga, Guna thrayam etc – in this Blog – as these are preparatory for a good life and preparatory for Yoga. Without them – there is no success in Yoga.
Vyaadhi also includes bodily pains. Bodily pains take our attention to the Painful spot – which is the real, beneficial purpose of all PAIN. But, for the same reason, Pain  is a great obstruction for Yoga. So, a Sadhaka must not indulge in any excesses – which can later cause physical pains, injuries etc.

(2) STHYAANAM :  This is a weakness of human mind in which the mind feels that it is not in any mood to do Yoga. It does not want to indulge in any duty and wants to just keep quiet. In Sthyaanam –we may not locate any specific cause – it may be the weather, or some odd behavior of house hold members or some thing occupying our mind. How to get rid of sthyaanam? One way is – fix a time of the day for Yoga – Which must preferably be immediately after waking up, and washing our body. It can be preferably in the Brahma muhoortham – the time before Sun-rise. Why so? Sthyaanam is considerably less – immediately after getting up and taking bath. All other worldly worries take time to occupy our mind – and before that- Sadhaka must occupy it with Yoga. Another time for Yoga is at the time of sun-set. Mind is fresh then also, because, atmosphere is cooler then and aids in Yoga. There are also other slightly less preferable times – like noon(just before meals), mid-night etc. These have some advantages and some disadvantages – but experienced Sadhakas are encouraged to do some Yoga practices at these times as well.

(3) SAMSAYAM :- This means Doubt; Many Sadhakas entertain doubts about their success in Yoga. They expect some visible progress in Yoga periodically. If they do not see such progress – they doubt the science of Yoga and the Guru who is teaching them. Some times, they doubt their own abilities to pursue this path, when they see that others are progressing much better than them. Will I succeed – is always a big doubt, for some. It is said – samsayaathmaa vinasyathi, or, the doubtful person is doomed to failure. Doubt takes away both concentration and confidence. When the person does some practices – he immediately looks for results. If he cannot find them – he feels doubt and failure.

Patanjali’s method is highly scientific in this respect. At each step, there are benefits that we derive. But, if we are looking for benefits like money, sex, Power etc – and wander for them in the world outside – Yoga is not for us. We must realize that Joy, happiness and health are all INTERNAL to us and they are not available in the world outside. These benefits do come surely – if one follows the moderate path of life that Patanjali and Lord Krishna advocate.
We must choose a Good Guru – and repose faith and trust in him. We must go in the way he takes us. Many Yoga teachers now concentrate on health benefits through Asana and Pranayama for this purpose – which is also good. Asana, Pranayama and Dhyana are now accepted worldwide – for their health benefits. There are more practitioners of them in countries like USA – than in India, which is their Birth Place.

You can see SAMSAYAM – especially in the minds of people who are material world – oriented. There is not much joy in their pursuits. Even when one becomes No.1 billionaire in his country – his joy does not rise one iota higher. He can’t get a more faithful wife (or husband) or trustworthy children by that. Neither can he get great friends. How does Samsayam go? There is no way. You must leave it out and just do Yoga. You will see its benefits.

(4) PRAMAADA : Pramaada is plain carelessness and inattentiveness. If people practice Yama and Niyama at least to some extent – this carelessness and inattentiveness will come down.

Every untruth and every indiscretion – lives in the mind and draws our attention away from yoga. Where is the locus of your control? Is it within you or outside of you, in some sense object or some other person? This question, you must ask yourself daily. Your locus of control must be within you. Your mind should be ever willing to aid you in Yoga. It is for this reason only – that Buddha, Patanjali and other Great Yoga masters advise the drastic reduction of desires during Yoga practice.

Every desire takes you outside of yourself and shifts control from you to others, or, other outside objects. This is also the reason for suggesting Yoga practice in brahma muhoortham – when the uprise of desires is minimum.  Also, adequate sleep and reasonable food intake reduce inattentiveness drastically.

(5) AALASYAM: Procrastination and Laziness are great  obstructions for Yoga. Reasons for getting into the habit of delaying usually are :- general lack of personal responsibility; lack of life goals; lack of focus in life; too much interest in food, sleep, sex etc. If you have other Goals – they must not go counter to Yoga. Lord Krishna himself advocates Karma Yoga, i.e., selfless work for any great goals – as this does not run counter to Yoga.

(6) AVIRATHI : Desire for sense-objects – if exceeds safe limits – and if sought in illegal, adharmic ways – becomes a big obstruction to Yoga. Yoga itself gives great peace, great Joy  and great health– which no sex, no money and no power can give. When this realization dawns on Sadhaka – other desires tend to fall off gradually.

(7) BHRAANTHI DARSANAM : A Rope can be perceived as a poisonous snake. This can give rise to different, fear or panic related reactions. Any such mistaken impression or wrong perception of any thing in life – can lead us away from the Path of Yoga. Yoga itself can be perceived wrongly. The Guru can be perceived wrongly.
A yogi may have only a loin cloth and be alone. Another Yogi may be surrounded by  thousands of disciples and thousands of crores of currency – but both remain unattached to all these things equally. Their life styles may not change. Going by walk or going by plane do not alter their mind set and get them attached to these external pleasures.
Non-attachment is the Key. If you are a non-judgmental witness – wherever you are and howsoever you are – you are not affected by BHRAANTHI DARSANAM or wrong perception. Vivekananda is called a Dhyaana Siddha – but he also said poverty is a crime. Reason is –even Poverty acts as an obstruction to Yoga. Lord Krishna has made this concept amply clear in his Gita. Seeing your Guru and seeing Yoga in proper non judgmental perspective removes Bhraanthi Darsanam

(8) ALABDHA BHOOMIKATHVAM : Bhoomikathvam – implies being unsteady in one’s practice of Yoga. Some people do perform Yogic practices – but are not steady in them. One day – they do – next day, they skip, next day they do again, next day they skip again. So, steadiness is lacking. This can be due to many, countless obstructions. It is not necessarily due to the earlier mentioned obstructions. For some reason, some obstruction comes – because of which we cannot be attentive and peaceful and concentrate on  Yoga.

(9) ANAVASTHITHATHVAM : Now – there is another reason – which is reasonlessness for today’s lack of concentration. You can’t pinpoint any reason. You are trying to perform Yoga, but you are unsteady, inattentive in it. Your attention some times returns and some times goes away – and does not stay when doing Yoga.But, persist in it – until; it becomes steady. You are able to concentrate at times - but you are unable to keep that concentration with you even for some time

CHITTHA VIKSHEPAH: All the above mentioned ones are Mental distractions. If we go to the first verse of Yoga Sutras - we can call all of them as those Chittha Vritthis which obstruct Yoga. Such Mental Distractions are many for us all. There could be different distractions for different Individuals at different times.TV,Cinema,Radio, sports, sex, news papers can all be mental distractions.Once you read a News Paper the first thing in the morning, your mind will be dwelling on all the major news and also the most outrageous news therein, though, you can do nothing about them. These are serious but temporary distractions and obstacles to Yoga. But, we have seen others such as deaths, disease which tend to occupy the mind for longer time.

THEH: ANTHARAAYAAH :These are the obstructions for Yoga and the reasons for mind’s unsteadiness. All these obstructions go if we worship Eeshvarah, or do the Japa and concentration of AUM (OM).

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