YOGA
April 13, 2004
Des Plaines Mandira

Yoga is an ancient Indian technique that literally means, "to attach to God." There are two main categories of what is traditionally considered yoga: raaja-yoga, which deals with the mind, and hatha-yoga, which deals with the body. Ashtaanga-yoga is a system (with elements of raaja-yoga and hatha-yoga) consisting of eight steps that culminate into samaadhi (divine trance). Similarly, other yogas may use elements of raaja-yoga and hatha-yoga, with the ultimate aim to separate from the body and attach to God.

Other methods are also considered yoga in the sense that they are methods of separating from the body and attaining God, but sometimes they do not contain physical or mental exercises. Examples of this are bhakti-yoga (through loving devotion), karma-yoga (through selfless, divine action), and gnyaana-yoga (through divine knowledge). (Gunaateeta-gnyaana centers on qualities such as maitribhaava or friendliness.) Thus, there are multiple types of yoga. Since each chapter in the Bhagavad Gita is a different mechanism for Arjuna to further his relationship with Lord Krishna, it is titled as a type of yoga.

The master is very important in the yogic process. Yoga requires an adept master to control or guide its effects.* Shakti-paata is a phenomenon in which the master directly puts his power/energy into the disciple. Lord Swaminarayan gave samaadhi to thousands of devotees and even animals and non-believers!

In his Yoga-sutras, Patanjali has defined the eight steps of ashtaanga-yoga: yam, niyam, aasan, praanaayam, pratyaahaar, dhaarnaa, dhyaan, and samaadhi [section 2, verse 29]. Patanjali begins by stating "Yogah chittavrutti nirodhaha" or "Yoga is to gain control of the chitta (subconscious)/vrutti (instincts)" [section 1, verse 2].

Dinkar Uncle explained that Lord Swaminarayan emphasized loving devotion as the best technique by which one's chitta/vrutti automatically become in tune with God. In Vachanamrut Gadhada First 25, Lord Swaminarayan explains, "A devotee whose chitta's vrutti becomes focussed on the form of God masters ashtaanga-yoga without even attempting to master it. Thus, the spiritual endeavors of aatmaa-realization and the knowledge of God's greatness that I have just described should be firmly practiced." In Vachanamrut Ahmedabad 3, Lord Swaminarayan explains the "upsham" state. Just as a flood forces away all barricades, similarly a devotee in a state of upsham can overcome all obstacles in the path to God: "For a person in the upsham state, regardless of how enticing the objects presented before the indriyas are, when he focusses his attention within, they are forgotten, just as those vishayas seen in past lives are forgotten in this life." Swaminarayan Bhagwan explains, "A devotee of God who, firstly, deeply understands the greatness of God; and secondly, does darshana of God and serves Him and His devotee with extremely intense faith, attains the upsham state."

**A devotee who practiced a yogic method, but became overcome by praanic force, was unable to control her emotions. She constantly shook her head and cried out load. Frightened, her parents called Kakaji, who visited their home and brought her in control by invoking the SwamiNarayan mahaamantra.

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