What is Raja yoga after all? It is the way that enables a soul to attain the state of ‘Samadhi’. It is a practice which takes man to new realms of experience. It enables the soul to have contact with God and to reach the highest peak of purity, peace, bliss, virtue and spiritual power. It enables man to lead his personal, family and social life in a better way.
The word ’yoga’ means stabilizing the mind in the consciousness of God, or having a mental link with God. This is something based on sound psychological principles. It can be observed form daily experience that the state of mind or the various moods of man’s mind are determined by the consciousness one has at that particular moment. Let’s take Wordsworth’s poem ‘Daffodils’. In the poem, he chanced to go to a lake and there he saw the daffodils dancing and the ripples rising high in the lake due to the wind, and his mind was filled with ecstasy. He was so charmed with the beauty of nature that, even when he was in a pensive or vacant mood, the vivid memory and reflections of the past would refresh him. His mind would again dance with the daffodils. This illustrates how a scene of joy will create joy in the mind even when the person is in an unhappy frame of mind.
Take another example. A man is sitting in his drawing room. Suddenly, he sees a man entering his room. He knows that this man is inimical to him and wants to shoot him. This thought creates disturbance or fear in his mind. If, on the other hand, this man is not his enemy but his old friend, who has come after a long time, the sight or thought of him brings happiness to his mind. So, it shows that the state of man’s mind depends on the quality and contents of his thought.
Applying this principle, a yogi keeps in his mind the divine qualities of God so that his mind also always feel a kind of divine ecstasy which is different from the worldly joy in three aspects:
(1) his source of ecstasy will not vanish
(2) it is ennobling and elevating
(3) one does not get enslaved to the worldly objects.
So it is a permanent goodness to switch to Raja yoga.
- Mental postures of a Raja yogi
Raja yoga requires the practice of mental not physical postures. What is meant by mental postures can be best explained by the postures in ‘Hatha yoga’. A Hatha yogi practices the lotus posture physically. Comparing, a Raja yogi makes his mind like a lotus. A Raja yogi discharges his worldly responsibilities without his mind getting polluted by the evils of this world. When a Hatha yogi tries to balance in his head, a Raja yogi keeps his head and mind in equipoise inside. To him that is more important. For, if one is not given to outbursts and fits of anger, frustration or worries, there is little cause for getting a disease.
Similarly, a Hatha yogi practices the ‘Shava asana’ after and before every asanas but a Raja yogi, on the other hand, repeatedly takes his mind in to the realm of dead silence and withdraws himself from the body, just as the soul goes when it finally departs from the mortal coil. Like a tortoise, he winds up his senses, away from the worldly pleasures and objects.
A Rajayogi takes certain other mental postures too. For example, consider a man who thinks that a particular right has been denied to him. He becomes angry and in order to redress his grievance, chooses harsh language and unpleasant ways and causes disturbance to others and himself as well. Now, a Raja yogi not only minds his right but also whether he is doing it and reacting to it properly.
Again, a Rajayogi also knows that being a slave to gluttony, adultery or other kinds of sense gratification is like being a puppet in the hands of the great temptress that is ‘Maya’. So, he refrains from this. Therefore, if someone misbehaves, he does not get provoked and treats him with pity, equating it to a mental weakness.
These are the mental postures a Raja yogi takes to lead a holy and a happy life. These postures exclude him from dejection, disappointment, nervous tension, mental pollution, various phobias, complexes and depression. Besides, Raja yoga has many pillars, like brahmacharya, sattwic diet and satsanga. If we ponder over deeply, we will come to the conclusion that, man loses his mental calmness and equipoise either because he takes non-sattwic food, or because of his lack of tolerance, amiability, geniality, humility etc. Thus it is necessary that one should build the edifice of yoga on these pillars.