This article concludes our series on Raja Yoga. It is going to be slightly lengthy. Please bear with me. My idea is to convey the complete message as clearly as possible without disturbing the flow.
Congratulations! We are on the top of the mountain together, learned some important lessons along the way. We are lucky, indeed! Our Great Masters and Scriptures, holding the torch of Highest Knowledge, showed us the right path.
I am sure you enjoyed reading the articles as much as I did by writing. It was my good fortune to write about the Great Scripture such as Yoga Sutras of our Great Teacher Maharishi Shri Patanjali.
I am very thankful to the divine inspiration by Shri Devi and my Sadguru’s Grace for making this happen. I would have not started or neither completed the series without their support and guidance.
In many places, I felt it too complex to understand the logic and abstract concepts of some sutras. I thought of giving up! In those difficult times, I simply resorted to pray the authority of sutras, Shri Patanjali Maharishi to help me understand them clearly.
Voila! like a magic, the meaning became crystal clear! It was an amazing and unbelievable experience! My salutations to Maharishi Shri Patanjali.
As we discussed, sutras are generally terse and are like bulleted points in a presentation. In fact, Sutras themselves were revealed to the Great Master. Only the Seer and his disciples in the tradition are the custodians of the original meaning.
So, while preparing the Raja Yoga series, I referred to original Sanskrit texts of Yoga Sutras with traditional Sanskrit commentaries by Shri Vyasa Maharishi, Shri Vachaspati Mishra and Shri Sadashivendra Saraswati. It would have been almost impossible to comprehend the sutras, without the help of commentaries. We are very grateful to all those great personalities for unleashing the correct traditional meaning of sutras to us.
One more important thing to mention. There can be many different perspectives to interpret and understand the sutras on Raja Yoga. The articles in the series reflect my understanding based on my own experience. Obviously, they come with a pinch of my biases and prejudices, despite my conscious efforts to avoid them. Although, the Truth is same always, it is often the viewpoint of interpretation that causes an illusion of difference of opinion. That said, the question now is:
What is the best way to understand Raja Yoga?
Simple answer: practice Raja Yoga under the supervision of a Master. Correlate your own experience with teachings of Great Masters and Scriptures. That is the right way to understand with complete clarity. Somebody is asking another question:
Raja Yoga is great! But, where do we begin? What is the first step to practice Raja Yoga?
All the great things begin with the first step and some preparation. To grow wheat, we need to prepare the land with irrigation and good manure to sprout the seeds properly and get a crop in good yield.
Similarly, our first step to practice any type of yoga is to prepare ourselves by some spiritual practice, may be by – regular prayers, chanting names of your favorite deity, doing some charity, showing kindness to animals, going to sacred places, meeting some Spiritual Teachers, reading the Scriptures, going through the life history of Great Masters and so on.
This helps us to purify ourselves and to cultivate Eshwara Pranidhana (devotion and surrender to God). This is the most essential qualification. Just ponder: how can we get any job without having a proper qualification? We need to get qualified first to practice yoga.
Importance of diet
As we have seen earlier, first step of Raja Yoga, is ahimsa(nonviolence), we need to learn respecting the right of living of all sentient beings. As a baby step, start loving animals from today. Treat them as your close friends. In this context, let us address another popular question:
Can I eat non-vegetarian food and practice traditional yoga? What is the recommended diet for yoga?
Let us re-frame your question for a better understanding: 🙂
Can I accumulate bad karma eating non-vegetarian food and burn the karma by practicing yoga?
It is funny, isn’t right? You cannot have your cake and eat it too! What is the goal of yoga? To merge with the Universal Self after burning karma. So, eating meat results in accumulation of bad karma and thus prevents you from achieving the goal. We will not go into more details. It is a topic reserved for a separate article.
There is a good saying- you are what you eat. Rightly said. Our nature is dictated by our food. As we discussed in the step pratyahara, our nature dramatically affects the concentration in meditation. So, switch to pure food(satvic), i.e. vegetarian diet.
Be a lactovegetarian. Your diet should be from only vegetarian sources- like rice, wheat, lentils, sprouts(for protein), vegetables, greens, milk and dairy products, butter, ghee(clarified butter). Any meat based product and eggs must be off from the plate. Onion and garlic promote our rajas (aggressive, restless) nature. So, they are strongly discouraged. Avoid them as much as possible.
How about consuming alcohol or narcotics? Is that fine, at least?
Sorry, no luck here too! Strictly no. You must say good bye to alcoholic drinks and narcotics. Otherwise, there will be a conflict of interest again. Why? As you know, in Raja Yoga, our aim is to control the mind and not to give the control to alcohol!
Pills are bitter
These apparent restrictions that we discussed may be very challenging for some of us. But, they are mandatory and not negotiable.
Unfortunately, there is no shortcut! We must undergo a lot of unlearning, learning and relearning process to refine our lifestyles. After all, we need to put up with slight scratches by thorns while plucking a rose, right? Our aim should be at the rose.
I know, it all sounded like a tough talk! But, it makes sense, if you think about it. All our Great Masters have done it and showed the path to us. So, we can also do it, if we commit ourselves. Naturally, pills tend to be bitter to make us better.
Cheer up! Prepare yourself today for an exciting journey to the Ultimate destination. Satisfaction guaranteed. All the best!
Your feedback counts!
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Please help us to improve to help you better.
Are you curious to know what comes next? There is a hint in the title, if you notice. Can you guess it!?
Next post: Mantra Yoga: Power of Words! Stay along!
Jevema sharadah shatam| Nandama sharadah shatam ||
Let us live happily for 100 years!
Om Namah Shivaya ||