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A Brief Outlook on Raja Yoga pt.#1

practical-raja-yoga-meditationA WAY OF LIFE

Yoga does not require turning away from life. It demands transformation and spiritualisation of life. Yoga is primarily a way of life, not something which is divorced from life. Yoga is not forsaking an action, but is effecient performance in the right spirit. Yoga is not running away from home and human habitation, but a process of moulding one’s attitude to home and society with a new understanding.

Yoga is for all and is universal. It is not a sectarian affair, but a way to God and not a creed. The practice of Yoga is not opposed to any religion or any sacred church. It is purely spiritual and universal and does not contradict any one’s sincere faith.

The idea of the novice that Yoga constitutes physical exercises ormere postures and Pranayama, etc., is an error. These have nothing to do with real Yoga. There are considered to be aids in Yoga practice. Most people do not have access to Yoga beyond its
physical level, because the true Yoga demands intense personal discipline, coupled with intense thinking under the guidance of an able teacher. Yoga promises superphysical and spiritual blessing. It becomes unattractive to a common man who clamours for Immediate fruits and worldly prosperity.

Moral purity and spiritual aspiration are the first steps in the path of Yoga. One who has a calm mind, faith in the words of his preceptor and the scriptures, who is moderate in eating and sleeping, and who has intense longing for deliverance from the wheel of births and deaths is a qualified person for the practice of Yoga.

An austere and simple life is indispensable for Yoga. The foundation of Yoga is self-control. Discipline is the essence of Yoga, discipline of body as well as discipline of the mind. In the practice of Yoga, there is a reversal of the normal outgoing activity of the mind. Steadiness of mind is essential for a reversal of the normal outgoing activity of the mind.

YOGA

Yoga is union with the Lord or the Supreme Soul. Raja Yoga is restraint of the waves or thoughts or modifications of the mind. ‘Raja Yoga’ means ‘King of Yogas’, because it directly concerns with the mind.

The mind is made up of three qualities, viz., Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is purity, goodness, harmony, light and wisdom. Rajas is passion, action and motion. Tamas is inertia, darkness and ignorance. Internal fight is going on between Sattva and
Rajas-Tamas. Convert Tamas into Rajas through work and Rajas into Sattva through meditation.

Sadhana or Abhyasa is any spiritual practice that helps the aspirant to concentrate his mind and realise God.

Faith, aspiration and dispassion are the three important qualities of a Yogic student.
Non-violence, truthfulness and celibacy are the three fundamental virtues.

YOGIC DIET

Diet has intimate connection with the mind. Mind is formed from the subtlestportion or essence of food.

The food should be light, nutritious and Sattvic, for the purpose of meditation. Diet is of three kinds, viz., Sattvic diet, Rajasic diet and Tamasic diet.

Foods which increase vitality, energy, vigour, health and joy, which are delicious, bland, wholesome, substantial and agreeable, are Sattvic.
Foods which are bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, pungent, dry and buming, which produce pain, grief and disease, are Rajasic.
Foods which are stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten and impure, are Tamasic.

All articles that are putrid, stale, decomposed, unclean, twice cooked, kept overnight, as well as overripe and unripe fruits should be abandoned.

Instinct or voice within will guide you in the selection of articles of diet. You are yourself the best judge to form a Sattvic Yogic menu to suit your temperament and constitution.

Do not make sudden changes in your diet. Let the change be slow and gradual. Take food half-stomachful, fill a quarter of stomach with water and allow the remaining part for expansion of gas. It is moderate diet.

Do not practise Yoga immediately after a meal, nor when you are hungry.

Take light meals at night. A cup of milk and some fruits will suffice. Then alone you.will be able to get up in the early morning for meditation. Do not take rice at night.

Control of mind is very difficult for those who take meat, etc.

Take your food when the Pingala or Surya Nadi flows in right nostril. Surya Nadi is heating. It digests the food well. Sleep on your left side at night. The food will be digested well. Sit on Vajra Asana for ten minutes after taking food. This will digest your food well.

Give up tea and coffee. Eat and drink as a master. Have no craving for any particular diet.

MIND AND ITS CONTROL

Mind is Atma Sakti. It is through mind that God manifests as the universe. The seed of mind is egoism.

The mind is purifred by the practice of selfless service, Japa, Tapas, right conduct or practice of Yama (self-restraint) and meditation. The mind filled with Sattva is Suddha Manas or pure mind. The mind filled with Rajas and Tamas is Asuddha Manas or impure mind.

The mind assumes the form of any object it intensely thinks of. As you think, so you become. This is an immutable psychological law.
In waking state mind has its abode in the brain. In dream state it has its abode in the throat. In deep sleep it rests in the heart.

‘Prara’ is the connecting link between body and mind. lf you control Prana and sex-energy, you can control the mind. Through control of breath you can control the
mind.
Cosmic mind is the universal mind of the Lord. It is superconscious mind. Conscious mind operates through the brain in the waking state. Subconscious mind is Chitta. All impressions are imbedded in the subconscious mind.
Mind can attend only to one thing at a time. Steadying or fixing the mind on one point is
called Abhyasa.

Mind is the dividing wall between soul and body.

You can be established in Samadhi or superconscious state only by long practice, with zeal and faith. Without dispassion or non-attachment or indifference to sensual enjoyments no spiritual progress is possible.
Annihilate the impure mind with the help of the pure or higher mind and transcend the mind also.
Do not try to drive away impure thoughts. The more you try the more they will return. Fill the mind with divine thoughts. The impure thoughts will gradually vanish by themselves. Do not try to control the mind through violent methods. You will miserably and hopelessly fail.

The mind is at the root of Samsara or process. Desire is the fuel. Thought is the fire. Withdraw the fuel of desire; the fire of thought will be extinguished.

Mind thinks, intellect determines, egoism self-arrogates, subconscious mind memorises.
When the mind is Sattvic, calm and pure, you will get glimpses or flashes of intuition.

Mental actions are the real actions. Thought is the real action. A Rajasic mind wants variety and new sensations. It gets disgusted with monotony. Change of work is change for the mind.

Excerpts from “FOURTEEN LESSONS ON RAJA YOGA” by Sri Swami Sivananda

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The Role of Diet in Sex Control

Swami SivanandaDiet plays a prominent part in keeping up Brahmacharya. Purity of food brings in purity of mind. There are certain kinds of food that make the mind and the body very strong and steady. If proper attention is given to the purity of the food that we take, Brahmacharya becomes quite easy.

The influence of foodstuffs on the brain cells, emotion and passion is remarkable. A confection of sparrow produces an aphrodisiac effect. It directly stimulates the reproductive organs. Garlic, onions, meat, fish and eggs stimulate passion. Mark how elephants and cows that live on grass are quiet and peaceful and how tigers and other carnivorous animals that live on meat are turbulent and ferocious. Instinct or the voice from within will guide you in the selection of articles of diet that are conducive to the keeping up of Brahmacharya.

Sattvic food

Cheru, Havis Annam, milk, wheat, barley, bread, ghee, butter, dried ginger, green gram, potatoes, dates, plantains, curd, almonds and fruits are all Sattvic articles of food. Cheru is a mixture of boiled white rice, ghee, white sugar and milk. Havis Annam is also a similar preparation. This is very useful for spiritual aspirants. Milk is a perfect food by itself, containing as it does, the different nutritive constituents in a well balanced proportion. This is an ideal food for Yogins and Brahmacharins. Fruits are great energy producers. Bananas, grapes, sweet oranges, apples, pomegranates and mangoes are wholesome and nutritious. Dry fruits such as grapes, raisins, dates and figs, sweet fresh fruits such as bananas, mangoes, Sapotas, melons, limes, pineapples, apples, wood apples and sweet pomegranates, sugar and sugar-candy, honey, sago, arrowroot, milk, butter and ghee of cows, tender coconut water, coconut, almonds, pistachio nuts, Toor Dhal, Ragi, barley, maize, wheat, rice of red paddy whose bran is only partly removed and rice of good smell or sweet taste, and all preparations from any of these grains, and white pumpkin are Sattvic articles for keeping up Brahmacharya.

Forbidden food

Highly seasoned dishes, hot curries, Chutnies, chillies, meat, fish, eggs, tobacco, liquor, sour articles, oil of all kinds, garlic, onions, bitter things, sour curd, stale food, acids, astringents, pungent stuffs, roasted things, over-ripe and unripe fruits, heavy vegetables and salt are not at all beneficial. Onions and garlic are worse than meat.
Salt is the worst enemy. Too much salt excites passion. Even if you do not take salt separately, the system will derive the necessary quantity of salt from other foodstuffs. All foodstuffs contain salt. Giving up of salt helps you in controlling the tongue and thereby the mind and all the other Indriyas.

All kinds of peas and beans, both fresh and fried, horse gram, sprouted grains, mustard, all sorts of chillies, asafoetida, lentils, brinjals, lady’s finger, cucumbers, bamboo shoots, papaw fruit, drumsticks, all varieties of gourd such as white gourd, snake gourd and squash gourd, radish, leeks, mushrooms of all kinds, things fried in oil or ghee, pickles of all sorts, fried rice, sesame seeds, tea, coffee, cocoa, all kinds of vegetables, leaves, roots, fruits and foodstuffs that create wind or indigestion, grief, pain or costiveness or other sickness, pastry preparations, foods that are dry and burning, foods that are bitter, sour, saline, over-hot and pungent, tobacco and its preparations, foods and drinks containing liquor or narcotic drugs such as opium and bhang, food preparations which are stale or have become cold subsequent to their removal from the hearth or which have lost their natural taste, smell, colour or form, and milk of buffalo, goat or sheep should be avoided as they are either Rajasic or Tamasic by nature. Lemon juice, rock salt, ginger and white pepper can be used in moderation.

Mitahara

Mitahara is moderation in food. Take wholesome Sattvic food half-stomachful. Fill a quarter with pure water. Allow the remaining part free. This is Mitahara. Brahmacharins should always take Mitahara only. They should be very careful about their night diet. They should never overload the stomach at night. Overloading is the direct cause for nocturnal emissions.

Control of tongue is a sine qua non if you want to control lust. The tongue must be controlled first. Then it will be easy to control the passion. There is intimate connection between the tongue and the organ of generation. Tongue is an organ of knowledge. It is born of the Sattvic portion of the water-Tanmatra. The organ of generation is an organ of action. It is born of the Rajasic portion of the water-Tanmatra. They are sister organs as the source is the same. If the tongue is stimulated with Rajasic food, at once the reproductive organ also gets excited. There should be selection and restriction in diet. You should take food only when you are really hungry.

Fasting

Fasting controls passion. Fasting destroys sexual excitement. It calms the emotions. It controls the Indriyas also. Passionate young men and ladies should take recourse to occasional fasting. It will prove highly beneficial. Fasting is a great Tapas. It purifies the mind. It destroys a great multitude of sins. It destroys all the impurities of the body and all sorts of poisons. It eliminates uric acid deposits. Young, robust Brahmacharins should observe fasting whenever passion troubles them. You will have very good meditation during fasting, as the mind is calm. The chief object in fasting is to practice Dhyana rigorously during that period as all the Indriyas are calm.

Avoid excessive fasting. It will produce weakness. Use your commonsense. Those who are not able to observe a full fast can fast for nine or twelve hours and can take milk and fruits in the evening or at night.
During fasting, the internal digestive organs such as the stomach, the liver and the pancreas take rest. Ninety per cent of the people in this world take more food than what is absolutely necessary for the body. Overeating has become their habit. All diseases take their origin in overeating. An occasional complete fast is a great desideratum for all to keep up good health, relieve the internal organs and maintain Brahmacharya. Diseases that are pronounced incurable by allopaths and homoeopaths are cured by fasting. Fasting develops will-power. It increases the power of endurance. Manu, the Hindu law-giver, prescribes in his code the remedy of fasting for removal of the five capital sins also.

It is better to drink a large quantity of water, either tepid or cold, according to temperament and inclination, during fasting. It will flush out the kidneys and remove the poison and all sorts of impurities in the body. In Yoga it is termed as Gata-Suddhi or purification of the flesh-pot, the physical body. You can add half a teaspoonful of soda bicarbonate to the water. Those who fast for two or three days should not break their fast with any solid food. They should take some kind of fruit juice, either sweet orange juice or pomegranate juice. They should sip the juice slowly. You can take an enema daily during fasting.

Fasting is more a spiritual Kriya than a physical Kriya from the viewpoint of health. You will have to utilise the fasting days for higher spiritual purposes and in the contemplation of God.

Excerpts from “Practice of Brahmacharya” by Swami Sivananda