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The real meaning of Yoga

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By Acharya Balkrishna

1. Yama (Restraints)
Fulfilling the five universal duties, namely – Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non- covetousness), Brahmcharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (non- possessiveness), is called ‘Yama’.
The conduct of goodness with everyone with body, speech and mind, while giving up the rivalry or hate with every being, is called ahimsa. While science says that the hurt caused in the tongue is the quickest to heal, wisdom says that the lashing caused by the tongue (speech) is never healed. Therefore, we must not hurt any being. Only with the use of good words the hearts of the good and mighty can be won. Therefore, we must always speak good words, even if circumstances force us to take back our words, we should gladly take back our words back, without any discomfort. The practicioner of ahimsa all hatred towards all beings from the mind.
The expression of goodness towards all beings with our speech and actions is the embodiment of ‘satya’ or truth. It is an embodiment of truth because just as a mind stores knowledge, similarly the body and tongue are also instruments to bring that truth to action. The person who obeys ‘satya’ is successful in all the endeavours. A truthful person does not need to remember much.
It is not right to ascertain truth by following the opinion of majority on a subject. The self-evident qualities of truth are – that evidence, wisdom and knowledge which lead to the progress of the society. We see that the majority of society is represented by the people who tell lies, consume alcohol and meats etc. These however, are prohibited acts, and therefore would not be called truths. It is still a lie, and not right, even if it is uttered to save someone’s life. We must always take the shelter of truth to save a life.
Non-stealing through the organs of mind, speech and body, and helping others with the good actions of body, wealth, and mind is known as ‘asteya’. The person who follows the path of ‘asteya’, that is, relinquishes stealing through the means of mind, body and speech becomes the realiable and honourable friend of others.
Such a person receives the noblest of spiritual and material matters in life.
The holistic regimen consisting of disciplining the mind and other organs, conservation of physical powers and resources such as the vrya (semen) etc., perusal of the noble and truthful texts, and the worship of the Paramevara is called ‘Brahmacharya’. The discipline of brahmacharya brings the sdhaka unmatched physical and mental strength. The surest path or method to promote the safefy of the self by saving the life force and mana (mind) from getting distracted and dissipated in this world of viayas is brahmacharya.
The non-possession of harmful and unnecessary material objects and thoughts is called ‘Aparigraha’. The person who follows this practise, awakens within a desire to know the truth of the self or the tm. Questions like ‘who am I’ or ‘where have I come from’ or ‘where will I go’ or ‘what should I do’ or ‘what am I capable of’ etc., start arising in the ‘mana’.
In this world, nobody gets anything without paying its cost. Nothing is for free. Money, wealth and objects are not the only means of exchange or currency. One also has to pay for material goods with the deficit of one’s good saÃskras.
2. Niyama (Observances)
Ýauca (cleanliness), Santoa (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhyaya (self study) and varapranidhana (devotion towards vara) – the practise of these five values or duties at the personal level is called ‘niyama’. Ýauca implies uddhi or purification. The observance of purity in externalities such as the body, clothes, vessels, food and means of livelihood is called or external purification. The purification of mind and intellect like inner-instruments with the methods of inculcating knowledge, satsaga (keeping the company of ‘sat’ or noble people), svdhyya (self-study), satyabhana (truth speaking) and the observation of dharma (path of righteousness) is called internal purification. The observation of cleanliness leads to the non-attachment towards the body, increase in mental strength, a happy and focused mind, control over the indriyas, and the ability towards realising the tm and Paramtm is enhanced.
Santoa is the state of living in contentment with the results of happiness, knowledge, strength and wealth that one receives after fully utilizing the resources of jna, strength and means in the fire of purusrtha. To desire no more than one has received after the sincere toil of purusrtha is santoa. The discipline of santoa helps one experience a unique kind of mental peace.
The execution of noble righteous duties while happily tolerating the changing circumstantial botherations of hunger and thirst, summers and winters, profits and losses and honour and dishonour is called ‘tapas’. The recognition of ‘tapas’ lies in these signs; to struggle, to perform purusrtha (efforts), by being unbothered in adverse circumstances, to supercede the presence of obstructions and blocks in the path of goal, and to progress undistracted towards it while braving the fierest of storms.
One must be patient enough to consider the failures as the halts on the path, rather than the end of the road itself. Failure is akin to our shadow, it walks behind us, i.e., it is the past. We must never try to catch it. It shall accompany us from behind until we reach the destination of undimmed brightness that is success.
We must be perceptive enough to see respect behind the veil of dishonour. We should never in our lives remain idle in sadness, exasperation and disappointments. Only the person who remains a austere, hard-worker and struggler throughout this life, reaches the summits of spirituality and materialism. By institutionalising the practise of ‘tapa’ within the body and mind, the body becomes strong and healthy and the mind and sense-organs acquire a rare sharpness.
Svdhyya consists of reading the moka-granting Vedas like true texts, and the japa (recitation) and realization of Vedic mantras such as Aum etc. which reveal the true form of vara. The meaning of svdhyya thus becomes the research into the moka-delivering texts, the recital of avowed mantras, self-inspection and self-introspection. To live in an awakened state and alertness towards the true-self, and thus to always stay present in the tma-bhva, is the essence of svdhyya. tm, by its very nature, is of the form of light, the form of knowledge, the form of luminiscence, blemish-free and perfect form of nirvikra and the manifestation and bearer of truth. tm is ever young, deathless, permament, non-destructive and pure form of consciousness. To remain unforgetful of this truth about one’s tm is the discipline of svdhyya. The secret of svdhyya lies in the unbroken experience of tma-bhva (the truth of tm). With the practise of svdhyya, one binds with the vara, the vedic-Guru, the yog and the sadguru who help and guide the disciplined sdhaka through the noble and difficult endeavours of life.
The practise of vara-praidhna is the complete acceptance that all the means and endowments like the body, mind, intellect, strength and wealth are due to the beneficience of vara, and therefore to use them only for His glory, and not for wordly aims like acquiring wealth, name and fame for oneself, with the inner-satisfaction that the omnipotent is able to know and understand one’s doings and thinking. vara-praidhna means complete dedication to Param-pit-paramevara. We should realise that the body, mind, wealth, youth, beauty, power and position, this life and the entire living universe, all these that we hold dear, are because of the gracious beneficience of vara. To internalise this message and lead the life accordingly is ‘vara-praidhna’. With the habituated ritualization of vara-praidhna, one achieves the state of samdhi.
The complete discipline of tapa, vara-praidhna and svdhyya taken together is called ‘kriy-yoga’, that is, ‘karma-yoga’. Here –
Tapasvadhya yevaraprani dhanani kriya yoga.
(Yoga sutra-2.2)

(Extracted from the book: “Divine Transformation: Building Blocks for Enlightened Life, Ideal Nation and Peaceful World”. Author: Acharya Balkrishna).