Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Path of Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga is the path of control of the mind. This path is also generally termed as Yoga (without any prefixes). There is one of the main philosophies or sad darshanaas which deals this control of mind. This darshana is called Yoga darshana and is based on the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali. This system differs little bit with the Vedanta or the Upanishads system. But all advaita acharyas emphasize the sadhana put forth in the Yoga Sutras.

The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit verb Yuj meaning to join or unity. Thus, Yoga is the unity or join of the individualistic Self and the Supreme Being termed God or Brahman.

This unity is what is being propounded in the Upanishads as Advaita Satyam. The ultimate reality is that there has been no division or separation, but separation is only an illusion created on the ultimate non-dual reality of Brahman or Consciousness. As a result of this illusion, the individual jeeva thinks himself as separate from the ultimate being and thinks himself as being bonded into the worldly dualities of sorrow and happiness. When this illusion created out of ignorance of one’s own nature is removed, the jeeva realizes the ultimate reality that “I am That Brahman alone, one without a second”.

Ignorance causes desires or thoughts to arise in the mind. These desires are further converted into actions. These actions produce results which may either be good (to the person) or bad (to the person). When the results are conducive to the person or gives him temporary happiness, it becomes good & when it is bad – it gives the jeeva sorrow or suffering. As a result of this bad and good results, jeeva creates likes and dislikes towards each object in the world. Therefore, the jeeva gets Raaga or Attachment towards likes and Dvesha towards dislikes.

Patanjali says about Raga and Dvesha in Yoga Sutras

Sukha anushayee raagah – Attachment is craving for happiness or liking for objects that might give happiness
Dukha anushayee dveshah – Aversion or anger is dislike for objects that give sorrow.

Because of this Raga and Dvesha – jeeva does some actions whereas condemns other actions. A jeeva who thinks that Smoking or drinking gives him happiness will do only those actions and condemn other actions & also mock at people following the path of spirituality.

Because of these selection of actions and the craving for the results of the actions, the jeeva has to be born again and again. Until all desires are expelled, jeeva cannot realize his oneness with the Supreme Being. This is because desires are caused by ignorance and ignorance is that which prevents the jeeva to realize his eternal oneness with Brahman or the Self. Since, the human life time allotted or the maximum that a body can live is 100 years – therefore the jeeva has to take numerous births to enjoy all those desires & expel them.

Manu strongly says in Manu Smriti that desires can never be destroyed by enjoying them. This action is like extinguishing fire by pouring ghee unto it!!!!

Therefore, one has to realize the Self through removal of desires and through the ultimate knowledge about one’s own reality. When the ultimate reality that “I am the Self, one without a second – there is no second object here but only the Self” is known, then there will be no objects external to crave for! Even if objects are perceived, they will be perceived not as different objects but as manifestations of the ONE Consciousness alone. And when the jeeva realizes that the happiness for which all actions, all desires spring up is my inherent nature – he will never crave for the external world. Such a jeeva will thus cross over ignorance and realize his own very nature of Consciousness.

Each person will know that thoughts or desires arise out of ignorance and it is from desire that all sorrows and sufferings arise. Therefore, if thoughts are removed, then sorrow and sufferings also vanish. There will be only ignorance left and this ignorance will be removed or destroyed by concentration on the ultimate reality of Oneness (as Maharshi has put in the 15th verse).

Thus, Patanjali defines Yoga as
Yogah chitta vritti nirodhah – Yoga is the removal of the thoughts from the mind.

When thoughts are removed from the mind, there remains only the THINKER or the Self alone. This is not complete destruction of the mind but temporary merging of the mind into the Self. Such a temporarily merged mind might rise again and hence the seeker should kill such a temporary merged mind through contemplation on the one ultimate reality. When at that time, the ultimate reality of Oneness with the Supreme Being (which is the only thing present here) is known – ignorance which is the cause of thoughts is destroyed. Since the cause itself is destroyed there can never arise its effects (of thoughts). Therefore the mind gets completely destroyed and the pure Self alone remains.

This is the final state of liberation termed as Kaivalya or Mukthi (kevala means absolute state where there is no relative like the Seer and seen, thinker and thoughts etc).

Vedanta tells that it is due to ignorance that superimposition of the Self or Consciousness on the unreality of body, mind occurs. When ignorance is removed, superimposition is also destroyed and hence the Self remains in its absolute state of Oneness. At that time, there is no duality and hence the Self remains in his nature state of Absolute Existence, Consciousness and Bliss.

Patanjali says about this
Tad abhaavaat samyoga abhaavam haanam tad drisheh kaivalyam

Here Tad refers to Ignorance (which has been mentioned in the previous sutra of Yoga Sutras). When ignorance is destroyed, the mixing or joining (superimposition) of the sentient Self with the insentient & unreal matter (of body and mind) is destroyed and at that time, the Seer or the Self remains in his natural state of absolute Oneness.

Tadaa drishthu svaroope avasthaanam – There, when the thoughts of the mind are removed & mind is destroyed, the Seer remains in his natural state of Oneness.

This path of Yoga as mentioned earlier has eight steps (according to Yoga philosophy). But according to Vedanta and Gita, Yoga is nothing but seeing oneness everywhere.

When a person sees only one thing everywhere – his mind becomes concentrated & such a concentrated mind gets automatically destroyed when pursued for some time. Therefore the ultimate and final state of Oneness is achieved by seeing all the objects as ONE.

Here by seeing, it is not meant that the objects are different & one has to perceive oneness even though the reality of difference is there. The difference perceived is not real, it is only names and forms of the one ultimate reality. This ultimate reality can be known only when the dual perception is removed and the substratum of the dualities is perceived.

When a person thus through experience realizes the ultimate oneness of the external world, he realizes that there is only one Self or Consciousness here. Whatever else is being perceived is nothing but illusions on the Self (as the dream world is nothing but illusions seen on the dreamer – the objects in dream are the dreamer alone and have no reality separate from the dreamer).

Katha Upanishad says
Manasaiva idam aaptavyam neha nana asthi kinchana
Mrityoh sah mrityum gacchathi ya iha nana iva pashyathi

Through a pure mind alone the Self is to be realized (pure mind is one in which there are no desires and thoughts but fully concentrated on the ultimate reality of the Self). There is no duality here, not even little bit. He who sees as though appearing duality (meaning there is no real duality but if duality is being perceived wrongly) goes from death to death (suffers by taking lot of births and deaths).

A person even while following any path should remember the ultimate reality. When the ultimate reality of ONENESS is forgotten, then all sorrow and sufferings start. This is the reason why the disciples of Buddha started fighting amongst themselves and started different schools of Madhyamika, Yogachara, Sautrantika and Vaibhaasika. This is the exact reason why Jains were split into Digambaras and Svetambaraas.

What is the use of fighting over whether Buddha meant that the ultimate reality is VOID or he meant that reality is Changing Consciousness alone??? All these fights and quarrels occur because of ignorance of the ultimate reality.

This has been beautifully depicted in Srimad Bhagavatham through the life of Krishna and the age of Kali. The moment Krishna left his body in this world, Kali came into the world. Bhagavatham beautifully describes Kali and its nature (like drinking, smoking). But in reality, this episode has to be understood a bit deeper. It is not meant to be just a history or a story to be heard at times (when Saptaah occurs) and afterwards fight about whether Krishna was really greater than Siva or not!!!!!

The moment Krishna or the thought of God leaves the mind, that very moment one can be sure that KALI has entered into it. Kali is nothing but death or sorrows & troubles. That very moment, a person starts his journey of vicious circle of births and deaths.

This only tells us that one should never ever forget the ultimate reality – the moment it is forgotten, sorrow has started entering and a person has to suffer (even though the real Self doesn’t suffer but only remains as a witness, the reality is forgotten due to ignorance which causes the superimposition of the Self on the body and hence the person feels that “I am suffering” even though the real “I” is not at all suffering).

Therefore, a person has to constantly remember this ultimate reality that there is nothing here but only the Self or pure Consciousness. Whatever objects are seen are only names and forms of Consciousness. Any place, names and forms are not realities and they have no existence at all. As the snake seen in rope is nothing but snake alone, similarly the world of diverse objects is nothing but Consciousness or the Self alone.

Bhagavatham beautifully tells what is the essence of itself
Sarva Vedanta saaram yad brahma atmaikyatva lakshanam
Vasthu adviteeyam tannishtaam kaivalyam prayojanam

That ONENESS or unity of Brahman and the individual Self or Atman which is the aim of all Vedanta has been propounded in Bhagavatham – that reality is Adviteeya (without a second – without any internal or external differences) and a person who is established in it will attain Absolute state – this is the result or effect of learning Bhagavatham (this is the Prayojanam or effect that is to be achieved through bhagavatham)

Srimad Bhagavatham puraanam amalam yad vaishnavaanaam priyam
Yasmin paaramahamsyam ekam jnaanam param geeyathe

The purana of Srimad Bhagavatham is pure and liked by seekers of Truth (Vaishnava means one who is searching for Vishnu. Vishnu means who is present everywhere & not just the form present in Vaikunta). And in the Bhagavatham, the ultimate absolute reality of ONE, Supreme Self and hence knowledge is being sung.

Therefore one should always remember that there is no duality in this world – whatever is present is the Self alone. This realization of oneness of the world is the effect of Vedanta or the ultimate aim of human life. Maharshi is going to present before the seeker the path of Knowledge – the path of ultimate reality through which a person realizes his own real nature and gets liberated even while living in this world. Maharshi expounds this path in the next 15 slokas (the total sloka of Upadesa Saram is 30 slokas) – hence this is the last path propounded by Maharshi. We will start with the Jnaana Yoga from tomorrow. Maharshi deals this topic elaborately as realization can be attained only through knowledge about oneself and not through any other path.

Just summarizing the path of Raja Yoga through the slokas of Maharshi

11. By control of breath, the mind merges into the Self. This is like a fish being trapped in a net.
12. Mind and prana endowed with Consciousness (or quality of knowing) and action respectively are the two branches of Sakthi or Divine power of Brahman.
13. Merging and destruction of the mind are the two different types of control of the mind. Among these two, the merged mind again rises up, but the destroyed mind never rises again as it is dead.
14. Mind merged by control of prana or breath gets destroyed by thought on the ultimate Reality of non-dual Self or Consciousness.15. For that Yogi, whose mind has been destroyed and who is always established in the Self, what action is to be performed???


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