Efficacy of Raja Yoga - Preface
India has been the home of spirituality. There have been great sages and teachers who had attained the highest degree of perfection and realised God after devoting their lives to this pursuit. Mahatma Buddha, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Swami Vivekananda and Samarth Guru Shri Ram Chandraji Maharaj of Fatehgarh are a few among the great personalities, who have done their best to remove the darkness and to enlighten the people. A true yogi at the highest stage of perfection is almost one with God, having a thorough command over nature. Realisation of God has always been the most intricate problem for the world. Sages have tried to solve the problem in various ways according to their approach and capacity. The different religions of the world are the out-come. They were all started by great sages who had themselves attained a high degree of perfection in spirituality. They guided and trained people according to their own experience and the capacity of the people. They tried their best to enlighten the ignorant masses and set them right on the path of reality, but unfortunately the people generally absorbed within themselves more of the outward form than the real spirit. The chief cause lies in the fact that the people, in general, except perhaps only a few specially gifted, depended for their uplift more on the experience of others than on their own. They never actually attempted to rise high and realize God themselves individually. Really the experience of others is not of much avail to us in this respect. We cannot profess to be gainers in a true sense unless we experience ourselves and realise God. Thus the real spirit of the teachings of those great sages was neglected and gradually forgotten and its practical aspect given up altogether. We lost the real essence and remained entangled in the outward formalities only, leading us nowhere but to the dark abyss of decay and degradation. Selfish motives began to creep in. These abuses, multiplying as time passed, have finally resulted in bringing a gloomy atmosphere of sin and degradation all over. Clouds of darkness have almost overcovered the entire sky. Change is inevitable. It now requires only the strong Divine hand to mend or end. Indications are clear and distinct that the world is rushing head long towards that end.
Efforts of all the great teachers had all along been to train people in spirituality and to bring them up to the mark. They sincerely worked for it all their lives. It is striking to note that almost all of them utilised, in one way or the other, the thought-power which is predominant in man. Thus the basic principle of RAJA YOGA was, in a way, unanimously adopted by them all. RAJA YOGA is really a science and not a religion. It lays down lines along which to proceed in order to gain communion with God. The governing principle is the thought-power. It is the most efficient system and at the same time, the easiest too. God is simple and can be realised in a simple way. Thus the science of RAJA YOGA, if taken up in its absolute form, is also the simplest. Training under this system is imparted by the guide through Transmission. Sages after sages have made improvements and modifications in the system to suit the requirements of the time and the capacity of the people. People have tried to explain it by writing elaborate commentaries on the subject, which unfortunately, have resulted in making it all the more complicated. Explanations and commentaries written by great philosophers and men of letters cannot serve the real purpose. It is an abstract thing, hardly to be expressed in words. No words can express the various conditions or the states of mind which a man experiences during his march along the path of spirituality. It is only to be felt or realised. In due course expression fails altogether. By reading you may acquire knowledge and become a great professor of philosophy of yoga. You may be able to explain its theories and win arguments, but how does it avail you? It is a practical thing, and can he realised only when a man takes it up in a practical form, going through the conditions discussed therein. Thus the common multitude began to consider it as something beyond their power and capacity, or something very difficult or almost impracticable in a worldly life. It remained to them like a hidden treasure. In fact there are only a few who have been really benefited by this science, after devoting themselves entirely to it. It is quite impracticable for the multitude leading a worldly life. They are busy all day with their routine of daily work, struggling hard for their livelihood and groaning under the wheel of misery and sorrow. These things occupy almost every minute of their lives, leaving no room for them even to think of God or ‘Self ’. They are groping in the darkness of ignorance, far from the real path and their problem of life remains unsolved. Their plight is miserable. They have no hope and no consolation. Reciting a few lines daily from some holy book, having an occasional dip in the sacred water of the Ganga, or observing fast on certain specific days of the month is considered all and enough for a man in grihastha ashram. This is the popular belief. The idea of spirituality, salvation, or realisation of God never even dashes across their minds. This diversion from the path of reality is not only due to our ignorance and want of proper guidance but also to the inner obstructions and hindrances that have become deep-rooted in our hearts and stand in our way of approach to Reality. It is also generally believed that old age (the last of the four parts of man’s life) is the time reserved for this work, when we have almost finished with our worldly responsibilities and are free from the cares of a worldly life. Practical experience has proved that, in most cases, the time never comes when we are free from cares and anxieties. Moreover there is no guarantee of reaching old age. Besides, if at all we reach old age our energy and power are well-nigh exhausted by that time.
We are greatly indebted to His Holiness Shri Ram Chandraji Maharaj of Shahjahanpur, the founder of Shri Ram Chandra Mission, named after his Master for his gracious introduction of ‘SAHAJ MARG ’ or the natural way of realisation of God. It is the same old system of Raja Yoga with certain modifications and improvements necessary and befitting the needs of the time, making it practicable for the people busy with their daily routine of worldly affairs. This has come to him through revelation in the super-fine state of super-consciousness, hence most efficient and complete. Formerly it was a common belief, and almost an admitted fact too, that realisation of God was a long and tedious process, for life after life, i.e., Janma-janmantara. Great rishis and yogis are said to have attained perfection only after constant effort through several previous lives-the lives too being sufficiently longer than those of to-day. This was a great dejection to the common, worldly people. A weak and sickly man standing at the foot of a high mountain turns away from the very idea of attempting an ascent up to the highest peak, thinking it to be altogether beyond his power and capacity. His perseverance fails and the very desire to attempt it is nipped in the bud. But if some external help (e.g. coach, motor, railway or any such thing) is possible and available, he is not only encouraged in his enterprise but actually achieves his object which seemed so distant and inaccessible at first.
What is that external help in the path of spiritual perfection which makes our ideal so easily accessible? It is the force or power of a worthy and capable guide- Guru or Master, who has himself attained that high state of perfection or oneness with God, and is abiding in it. He can, in a moment so to say, pull up by his own force or power even the weakest and the most degraded of the miserable human beings and put him right upon the path of perfection and realisation. This is what we have in ‘SAHAJ MARG '. Through this system, even the most degraded. (physically, morally or spiritually) of the human beings have a chance of throwing off their dirty and polluted coverings at a glance, and advance with amazing speed on the path to perfection. But you must be sure that the guide you have selected is really worthy and capable of the task. If your selection falls short of the mark, your final ideal may remain unrealised. This is a matter of utmost importance which a man must seriously look to. It is better to be without a guide all the life than to submit to an unworthy guru.
Now under the present system of ‘SAHAJ MARG’ the guide, through transmission by his own will force, tears away and removes the net-work of diverse coverings and hindrances enveloping the different regions, and puts him right on the path of Realisation. He also transmits into him the necessary power and energy required for his spiritual uplift and upkeep. His path is thus made smooth, and he begins to progress in leaps and bounds. His master’s watchful eye remains on him all through, and keeps him away from undesirable elements that happen to come across his path during the course of his march to liberation. Through his help the different stages of spirituality are got over and crossed with the least labour on the part of the abhyasi. His ideal is thus achieved in one life only, after which he gains liberation. His case is just like that of a man who gets the accumulated wealth of his forefathers and becomes the master of innumerable millions in a moment. What now remains for him to do is not to acquire but to preserve what has been bestowed upon him. Another man desirous of possessing enormous wealth adopts other ways; he increases his earnings and reduces his expenditure, saving and laying by, every year, as much as possible. His wealth begins to swell and in course of time grows to hundreds of pounds. At the close of his life he finds that, in spite of his life-long labour, his hoarded money is still far short of what he actually desired. It requires another life or several lives to achieve his desired object. Thus what we get from our guide through transmission is like the accumulated wealth of the fore- fathers which now we have only to absorb and digest within us. This is one of the striking features of this system. In other words, under the old system of training, one had to depend mainly on his own efforts undergoing hard and difficult practices to suppress his inner instincts and desires which stood in his Way, while under the present system of ‘SAHAJ- MARG’ the making of a man is brought about in the easiest and almost imperceptible way by the will-force of the guide. It saves a lot of labour and considerable time, which are the main problems of life today. The various stages of spirituality are brought about and got over by the abhyasi in the shortest possible time through the help of a worthy and capable guide. The only thing that an abhyasi has to do is to approach such a guide with the feeling of love, faith and devotion. Everything else rests with the guide who, in a way, becomes responsible for his spiritual progress and perfection.
It is commonly believed that the practice of yoga is not possible and practicable in grihastha ashram (a household life), and unless a man renounces the world altogether cutting off all physical relations with it and adopting a life of seclusion in some remote corner of a dense forest, devoting himself entirely to this one pursuit, he cannot be a true yogi. Sannyasa, for the whole or at least for a part of the life, is consequently thought necessary and indispensable for spiritual perfection and liberation. A sannyasi leads a life of seclusion, keeping himself physically unattached with all worldly concerns, and devoting all his time and energy to his spiritual advancement. He adopts a prescribed form of living and wears a set uniform of a fixed colour which distinguishes him from the rest of the people. The idea has got so deeply rooted in our hearts that we do not feel inclined to look upon or accept any body, other than one in the ochre garbs of a sannyasi, as a saint or a yogi. Not only this but everyone in the garb of a sannyasi is generally taken to be a saint or a yogi, irrespective of the condition of his inner self, which we usually do not bother to look into or understand. Separation from the world and its surroundings is a state of mind, and not an external thing to be brought about by external causes and artificial change of circumstances. An inward dissociation from intricacies of life and worldly affairs is the cutting off of worldly relations in true sense. A man has really renounced the world when he feels unattached with all worldly concerns, no matter whether he is a grihastha leading a worldly life or a sannyasi leading the life of an ascetic in the forest. This state of mind (unattachment with the world) is brought about as we acquire and pass through different spiritual stages during our march. Worldly desires and ideas gradually dwindle away from our mind, leaving no impression upon it, and we acquire vairagya in the true sense of the term, although we are still living with the world doing our worldly duties. This is the true form of renunciation. How is this to be attained? It is brought about in the easiest possible way by the guide under the existing system of ‘SAHAJ MARG.’
A sound physique is no doubt essential for the practice of yoga. For this reason great stress has been laid on good health and a strong body. Hatha Yoga deals mainly with it and lays down various physical and mental practices for improving the body and thereby cleaning and developing the inner points or Chakras. Hence the preliminary practice of Hatha Yoga was thought to be essential for successful pursuit of Raja Yoga. But under the system of-‘SAHAJ MARG’ it is the power of the guide that takes us along the path all through enabling us to reach our goal. Good physique no doubt counts much, but it does not mean that the weak and sickly have no chance of attaining salvation. Surely they have a chance under all conditions of health and body, only if they surrender themselves completely to their master, guide or guru. In that case their progress is certain. It continues unabated, as in that case they naturally keep on knocking at the heart of their master. Thus their object is achieved in spite their weak body and bad health and they attain salvation in the end.
C.M. T. Mudaliar