Friday, November 11, 2011

NON-VIOLENCE = what is & is not = Its Benefits = Vs.2.30.Patanjali Yoga Sutras

VS.30 - YAMA

Ahimsa – Sathya – Astheya –
Brahmacharya – Aparigrahaa – yamah

Ø  Ahimsa : Non-violence
Ø  Sathya  : Truth
Ø  Astheya  : Non-stealing
Ø  Brahmacharya : Abstinence from Sex; turning to the Path of Brahman
Ø  Aparigraha : Not taking more than what we need; Not taking from others without paying its Value

We are now entering the MOST IMPORTANT PART of Patanjali Yoga Sutras. We are trying to understand the very core of ASHTANGA YOGA.

Ashtanga Yoga means Yoga with Eight Limbs or Eight Steps.

Looking at them as Eight steps, we must acknowledge that Each step must be gone through before you can reach the next step. Reaching each preceding step is a pre-qualification to the next step. Each step takes you nearer to the final Goal of Liberation or Kaivalya.

The first step is YAMA. Yama stands for Self Restraint. But, Self Restraint consists of five important Parts. These five parts are (i) Ahimsa (Non-violence) ; (ii) Sathyam (Truthfulness); (iii) Astheyam (Non-stealing); (iv) Brahmacharyam (Abstinence from Sex; & treading the path of Brahman) and (iv) Aparigraha (not taking anything from others without paying its appropriate value).

Do we remember some Great Personalities of History  when we think of the first 2 Parts of Yama? Yes.

The most recent is Mahatma Gandhi, who steadfastly propounded the twin principles of Ahimsa (Non-violence) and Sathyam (Truthfulness). His whole life is a great example of adherence to these two principles. He never relinquished Social life and was also a Great social crusader. But, he never relinquished his twin principles in his life. His words show a complete understanding of Yoga. Truly, Gandhi was a Great Yogi of our times.

Earlier to him was Jesus Christ. He also followed the twin principles of Truth and Non-violence in an admirable manner – like a Great Yogi.

The Great Buddha and Mahavira wove their religious Ethics  around these twin principles.

Adi Sankara was the very Epitome of Yoga in his times. We can recount Great Yogis like Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda who are well known Yogis from India. There are of course many other unknown and lesser known Yogis – who may be just as Great as any of the above Masters.
Lord Krishna was perhaps the Greatest TEACHER of Yoga, through his Bhagavad Gita. One’s Yogic knowledge remains incomplete if one has not read and understood Bhagavad Gita. It is not that one does not attain enlightenment without reading the Gita. Or, for that matter, even Patanjali’s Yoga sutras. Nature is waiting to give this wisdom to any one – who seeks it ardently enough. If the question is deep in you and the seeking is sincere enough – you will receive the answer. It happens automatically.

Now, let us examine Yama, the five principles of self restraint, one by one. These principles have a common thread in them. You adhere to them – by not doing CERTAIN NEGATIVE DEEDS. Positivity enters into your life automatically, when the Negative things are avoided.In this post, we will examine NON-VIOLENCE or AHIMSA :

Ashtanga Yoga Sadhana starts with Non-violence. If one is not non-violent, he cannot be a Yoga Sadhaka. One may practice Asana, Pranayama etc – which are taught in Yoga schools – but, he remains far away from the goal of  Kaivalya or even from the other lower steps that will be described later.

But what is Non-violence? And, what is violence? This needs to be understood clearly.

We commit violence in three ways – through thought, word and deed.

We commit violence against - our own self, our near and dear ones, unknown persons who are neither friends nor enemies, people whom we consider as enemies, animals, birds, insects etc and other living beings like trees.

Is it possible that we can be violent against non-living things. Yes. It is. We consider earth as non-living. But, it is actually a living being. The earth is in fact a living being of a higher order, a Goddess. So are the five great elements, the stars, the planets, sub planets etc. Just as the white Blood corpuscles and red blood corpuscles are not aware that they are part of a Higher living being called man, we are also unaware that we are part of higher living beings like the Earth.

The principle of non-violence enunciated in India therefore includes all these beings.

The principle of Non-violence is not limited to a particular time, place or section of living beings. It is applicable to all beings.

Non-violence is not merely an external practice. It is an internal attitude.

When we think violent thoughts, they generate violent thought waves all around us. They affect our own self first. Then, they may affect many others around us, who come under their influence. These are unseen waves. Therefore, we underestimate their influence.

What is known to all of us is – we hurt each other extensively through WORDS – SPOKEN and WRITTEN. Words can please. But, words can also hurt. And we tend to hurt more than we try to please. This is the paradox. When someone uses pleasing words to us – we are pleased. But, there is no immediate feeling in us that we must also reciprocate. We may. Or, we may not reciprocate at all.

But, in response to hurting words hurled at us by others – we become instantly agitated and feel a Great Urge in us to reciprocate in GREATER MEASURE – meaning, that we want to hurt the other person more than he hurt us. We may still not be satisfied – and we may use hurting words towards many other unconnected persons, who will never understand the connection between the earlier incident between you and the person who hurt you and the subsequent incidents in which you start hurting many others.

This vicious cycle is going on all the time in the world. The spoken word  is Bad enough. But the written word is more atrocious and long standing.  A Book containing Hate words against any one, any sect, any religion, any nation or Race – can become a permanent source of violence in the world between one group and another. And, we have several of them! Some people believe them ardently and foolishly and become the cause of hurting many people – who in turn are forced to hurt them back. No amount of reasoning can ease such situations.

The last method of hurting is of course through ACTION or DEEDS. This is preceded by violence in thought and word invariably. But, the most permanent damage is done by violent actions. All wars, all battles and all fights,– are violence in action.

NON-VIOLENCE, which is the first stage of the first step of YOGA  is – avoidance of violence of all the three forms, at all times and at all places, against all beings. It is an attitude, not An Action. It calls for the Greatest Self Restraint.

Hurting our own self is also violence – and is prohibited.

But, NON-VIOLENCE is not merely a passive avoidance of violence – but, is active practicing of those acts which avoid future violence or result in greater good of the person receiving our actions.

A Parent may have to punish the child mildly – to make it study, eat or do the necessary things for it to grow as a healthy child.

A Doctor may have to do injections, surgery etc on a Patient – to make him well.
A teacher may have to punish erring students to some extent – to correct them and make them better individuals.

A King punishes a robber or a terrorist – to save innocent people.

There are prescribed punishments for various crimes – and they avert future crimes.

These are all not considered as VIOLENCE – PER SE.

We eat food of various types. The food, even of the vegetarian variety, is coming from living Trees. This is not considered as violence. But, elaborate forms of pleasing such trees is suggested.

We do Tapas, Vrats and so on – to purify ourselves. Within certain limits – these are not taken as violence. But, beyond the limits, even against SELF, hurting and torture methods are VIOLENCE only.

NON-VIOLENCE is  a Saathvic concept. VIOLENCE is a Rajasic concept in some forms and a taamasic concept in others.

Even a small action – of staring at someone, or some one’s food – can be  VIOLENT ACT. It is the ATTITUDE that matters.

When we start practicing NON-VIOLENCE, we turn inward, correcting our every violent thought, word and action – and become highly sensitive Individuals.

We will avoid all causative factors of violence like – anger, hatred, Jealousy, vengeance, careless words and actions. We derive immense benefits from the practice of non-violence in thought word and deed.

Our life becomes much more enjoyable. More and more people will turn to respecting and loving us – and our practice of non-violence becomes much simpler.

The other steps of Yoga become that much more easier for us.

Ashtanga Yoga is ACTION PACKED. It is a Path towards a great – Goal. Rather – the Greatest Goal there is for a Human Being. All through the practice, there are great benefits to be derived even in ordinary life – which are more than proportionate to the practice.

So, readers may start becoming Sadhakas forthwith. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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1 comment:

  1. and this is where normal humans stumble including all rishis and all.. gandhi was too focused on all these and was obsessed with acheiveing perfection in this section and there fore stuck in this one section through out his life.. there by wasting his life. this is just my view. the more we focus on these stages and perceive them as steps to pass on... before we move to the next... the more stuck u are in the illusion of hating the qualities of violents , lies , false, sex and all such things which these guys claim as bad and thinks as hinderance to the yoga.. :)