Raja Yoga – Part 10: Effects of Pranayama

Sun! Give us light! (Photo by Kalidas)

Sun! Destroy our ignorance and give us the light of knowledge! (Photo by Kalidas)

We discussed the pranayama, the fourth step of Raja Yoga in the last post.  We learnt that pranayama cleanses the nadis and leads to a sound mind and healthy body.

What happens if we master and establish in pranayama? Let us pray our Mahirishi Shri Patanjali to enlighten us. He says:

Tatath ksheeyate prakasha avarnam | – Yoga Sutras 2.52

Then covering of light is destroyed (by pranayama).

This is a slightly cryptic sutra. Let us understand it clearly.

The light is Universal Self. The coverings are our accumulated karma (effects of good and bad deeds) in our countless earlier births. This karma leads to ignorance. i.e. not realizing our Individual Self as Universal Self. Also, karma is the main cause of our tendency of raja (aggressiveness and irritability) and tama (lethargy and sloth). These two tendencies cover our real nature.  What is the real nature? That is pure satva(calmness, peace and happiness).

Thus, Pranayama destroys the past karma so that we can realize shining and pure Universal Self within us. How does it do? By purifying our nadis, as described earlier.  Consequently, the mind becomes calm and clear. Maharishi further says:

Dharana yogyata manasah | – Yoga Sutras 2.53

Mind gets qualified to one-pointed focus (by the practice of pranayama)

Since pranayama purifies our very nature itself removing raja (aggressiveness and agitation) and tama(lethargy), we can settle down in our real pure satva nature. The satva nature of mind is calm and composed so that it can focus now on only one thing, i.e. Universal Self.

After practicing first four steps of yoga, we now  have the sound body and the clear mind to focus on one thing. What about our senses (like eye, ears etc.) which constantly report us about dualities hot-cold etc.? They distract us. How to control them properly? We will discuss in the next post.

Next post: Raja Yoga- Part 11 on Pratyahara. Read on!

Ma vidvisha vahai |

Let there be no enmity between us!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

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