Raja Yoga – Part 6: Effects of Niyama Practice (…Continued.)

Hoverfly on flower

Hoverfly on flower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We had been discussing the benefits of establishing in niyama, the second step in the Raja Yoga consisting of eight steps.  Let us continue to understand this further.

Our Guru, the great master Patanjali Maharishi says:

Swadhyayat istadevata samprayogah |  – Yoga Sutras 2.44

By establishing in swadhyaya(self-study),  intended favorite deity presents before the practitioner.

Remember, swadhyaya  is  contemplating on the Universal Self using powerful holy phrases or mantras. Swadhyaya literally means self-study, studying the self via reading scriptures dealing with the Universal Self.

Every mantra is addressed to some deity.  e.g. the mantra Om Namah Shivaya is addressed to Lord Shiva. If we contemplate on this as suggested by our Guru, the deity Lord Shiva appears before us with his full glory!  Now we have an  interesting question:

Great! By practicing swadhyaya, the God appears before us! What else if left now for us in life!?  What is the use of practicing other seven steps of Raja Yoga!?

No doubt, we should be very happy indeed and blessed to see our favorite deity appearing before us! At that time, we just need to request the deity to help us achieve our goal! We can hear somebody whispering now:

That is all!? You are being somewhat cryptic! So, what is our goal?

Let us understand clearly: merging with the deity(Universal Self) is the real goal and not just seeing the deity!  According to Mahirishi Shri Patanjali, all eight steps are mandatory to realize the Universal Self. No shortcuts here!  OK. Can we move on?

Maharishi now describes the effect of practicing Eshwara Pranidhana(Devotion to God) as:

Samadhisiddhih eshwarapranidhanat | – Yoga Sutras 2.45

By perfecting eshwara pranidhana, one can clearly know desired things irrespective of time, place or body.

Samadhi word in the above sutra(aphorism) has to  be interpreted  by etymology as:  samyak dheeyate anena iti (by which one knows clearly). i.e. the clear knowledge of anything.  Not to be confused with samadhi  which is the realization of Universal Self, the last step of Raja Yoga.  

Did you recognize the difficulty in interpreting sutras? Without the traditional commentaries to Yoga Sutras by our revered Shri Vyasa Maharishi and others, we could have not got the clear meaning!  Sutras are like bullet-ed points. The right meaning of these comes from the author himself or authoritative traditional commentaries. One can easily misinterpret the sutras by looking up Sanskrit dictionary and convey an altogether different meaning!

Alas! Unfortunately, misinterpretation happens with  so called scholars who try to translate our scriptures without understanding the deeper traditional meaning. One needs to get the real meaning of scriptures by the Grace of the Guru. Enough said. We thought it was important to make this point.  Again, back to exposition of the Sutra.

We know that Eshwara Pranidhana is devotion to the God and surrendering our work and its results to the God. If we practice this, we can know anything clearly irrespective of time, place and body. To clarify, we can know anything happening at a distant place anytime. Also, we can know our own story of our past lives! So, nice, right!? But, as we discussed, we need to use our discretion about these supernatural powers or siddhis. We should not get derailed from the track to our destination.

This section concludes niyama, the second step of Astanga Yoga. We will explore the next step, asana(pose)  in the next post.

Next post: Raja Yoga- Part 7 on asana. Stay with us!

Swasti nah indrascha agnischa|

May the Gods Indra and Agni(the Fire) do good to us!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

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