Man’s elevation depends mainly on his mind. His prime duty, therefore, is to improve the mind. All his thoughts should be centred on his rise to the highest level. Mind, through whose aid the soul accumulates its experiences, has a natural tendency to occupy itself with matters of the world, undergoing in the process all the cares and worries incidental to obtaining worldly pleasures and possessions. It can surely climb up to heights yet unsurpassed and see him who is the embodiment of love and benevolence. It can also descend into the deepest pit wherein it experiences unutterable pain and distress. It is his duty to worship God and reach His feet, the seat of sovereign independence, flawlessness, omniscience, omnipotence, benevolence and pure bliss. And Yoga aids him in attaining this goal.
All forms of Yoga have the same eight limbs or preparatory subservients. They are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Prathyahara. Dharana. Dhyana and Samathi.
Yama deals with the attributes of preparatory subservients such as avoidance of Violence to all living creatures ; truthfulness; restraint from taking what belongs to another, or covetousness ; sexual continence;forbearance, the bearing patiently of all things pleasant or unpleasant; fortitude in happiness or unhappiness; mercy, kindliness; simplicity and humility. The practice of Yama enables one to attain Saloka.
Niyama comprises austerities such as fasting etc. in the nature of purificatory actions (tapas); contentment; faith in the Absolute Being; charity, that is, gifts to the deserving; worship of Siva; study of the scriptures; modesty; mental concentration on knowledge revealed and practice enjoined by the Sastras; recitation of Mantras (Japa ); religious observances. The practice of Niyama leads to renunciation arising from the knowledge of the real and the ephemeral, enables one to fix one’s mind on Siva who is light and Sakthi who is heat or energy.
Asanas are postures of the body which assist in Pranayama and help to effect its object: they produce mental equilibrium and form part of the discipline for the conquest of fear and the attainment of indifference; they are health - giving and destructive of disease and death. There are eight broad categories of Asanas: Padmasana. Pathrasana, Kukkudasana, Simhasana, Gomuka, Swastikasana. Veerasana and Sukasana. Variations of these Asanas run into several lakhs.
Pranayama is the control and regulation of breath. (The air which is breathed is material air, sthula vayu. Breathing is a manifestation of a vitalising force called prana vayu. By control over the sthula vayu, the prana vayu (sukshma vayu or subtle air) is controlled. The process concerned with this is called Pranayama.... It is the process whereby the ordinary and comparatively slight manifestation of prana is lengthened and strengthened and developed. This takes place firstly in the prana as it courses in Ida and Pingala, and then by its transference to the Sushumna when it blooms or displays itself in its fulness.... The prana enters Sushumna, and if retained sufficiently long goes, after the piercing of the Chakras, to the Brahmarandhra.) Thus Pranayama is ‘the making of the prana enter Sushumna and then become laya in the Sahasrara after Kundalini has pierced the intervening Chakras.” The process of Pranayama consists of three stages: Puraka, Inspriration: Rechaka, expiration ; Kumbhaka, the retention of breath between these two movements. Pranayama awakens Sakthi, produces detachment from the world, and bliss.
(Kundalini: kundalini is the static form of the Divine Cosmic Energy in bodies which is the source of all energies. The Yoga concerned with the arousing of Kundalini Sakthi is effected by a process technically known as Shatchakrabheda,or piercing of the six Centres or Regions (Chakras) or Lotuses (Padmas) of the body by the agency of Kundalini Sakthi . The Kundalini Sakthi is the Goddess (Devi) Kundalini, or that which is coiled; for her form is that of a coiled and sleeping serpent in the lowest bodily centre , at the base of the spinal column. When the Kundalini Sakthi is roused through appropriate means, it ascends from (1) Muladhara, where it was sleeping, to the next higher centre, called the (2) Svadhistana(own place). Thence with great effort this Sakthi carried to the following centres in regular ascending order (3)Manipura (full of rays); (4)Anahata (sound, not emanating from the collision of bodies)- the Sakthi here transformed into sound; (5)Vishuddhi (place of purity)- here it becomes a pure Sattvic element ; and (6)Agna (a-gna),a little knowledge).The passage at the Kundalini from the Muladhara through the above Centres of energy constitutes the first part of the ascent. The second part of the ascent of Kundalini consists of only one step; the Sakthi should be taken in to the Sahasrara from the Agna. The Sahasrara(a thousand- petalled - lotus) forms in itself a Srichakra. In the Sahasrara there is a certain place of lustre known as Chandra Loka (a world of nectar) . In this place live in union the Sat (Sadasiva) and the Chit, the twenty fifth and twenty- fourth Tattvas. It is this union of Sat and Chit that is the goal of the aspirant. The Kundalini which has been led all the way to the Sahasrara should be merged into this union; this is the end of the aspirant’s journey; he now enjoys beautitude itself, Sivananda)
Prathyahara is “the forcible obstruction of the senses wandering over their objects”; it is the restraint and subjection of the senses to the mind , which is thereby steadied. The mind is withdrawn from the objects of the senses . The mind is by nature unsteady , for it is at every moment affected by sight , sounds, and so forth of external objects which it perceives through the agency of the senses. It must, therefore, he detached from the objects of the senses, withdrawn from whatsoever direction it may happen to tend , freed from all distraction , and kept under the control of the dominant self. Steadiness, therefore, is the aim and result of Prathyahara.
Dharana is the Yoga when the mind, having freed itself of its propensity towards worldly pleasures, is centred unshakably on the Absolute Being who is pure intelligence. It is a state when the mind, already confident, trained, controlled and regulated. is devoid of all consciousness other than its contemplation of the Kundalini in the Brahmarandhra, of the Divine Cosmic Energy which resides within and which pervades the limitless expanse of space.
DHYANA (FIXED ATTENTION):
Dhyana is continual consciousness of the goal. The lover always thinks of the girl he loves. In like manner, the yogi’s mind is unceasingly aware of its quest. As this uninterrupted attachment centres round a specific purpose, this Yoga is also styled Adhara Yoga. The object sought being internal, it has yet another name, Niradhara Yoga.
There is a God, beginningless and endless, who performs all His functions for the benefit of souls; who causes the world to come into existence so that the souls might by experience get rid of their Malas. He is the flame divine within all of us. If one can see this flame at the Sushumna, one can reach Him. See Him within, do not seek in vain elsewhere. Remember that if you cannot see Him within, you can see Him nowhere else. Sit down and sit straight; direct your eyes to the tip of your nose and concentrate on Him. You can see Him. He is Siva. And when He becomes your sole possession, you need have no fear of death. You will drink the bliss which is Sivananda. You will hear the cosmic sound (Nada). And you will see the Sakti from which Nada emanates and into which it ultimately dissolves.
The state of Samadhi is attained when Dhyana intensifies and siva and Sakthi are united. Mind ceases to exist and dissolves within itself. Samadhi itself then becomes superfluous, for it is a state of nothingness (Sunya). Where is the need for Samadhi after the soul is merged with God?
Siddhis are eight in number—Anima. Lagima, Magima, Prapti, Karima, Prahamiya. Yeesatva and Vasitva. The attributes of these siddhis Anima, flying; Lagima. lightness: Magima, expansion and pervasiveness; Prapti, to secure everything without moving; Karima, to reduce the primordial elements within oneself to a point without magnitude as well as to expand: Prahamiya. to penetrate like light rays? Vasithva, to secure any desired object.
It is very necessary to keep the body fit and make it invulnerable to death and decay. The physical frame cannot be disregarded with impunity as the soul and the Divine Energy dwell within it. The practices such as sucking water in for cleansing the bowe1s and other organs enable the body to acquire lightness and resilience. The world becomes indestructible when reduced to an atom, a point without magnitude; likewise, contraction of the body to the point of nothingness gives it deathlessness: and, such contraction is possible through Pranayama. Longevity can be tested by joining hands over the head in the the form of anjali. There is no fear of death in the near future if the hands joined as above stay erect: if they slope a little, death is not distant; if they surge too much, death is lurking round the corner.