Yoga, referred to as the process of stopping the thinking mind or the stream of psyche, as the exploration of one’s own self and independent transcending of one’s limitations until one attains the state of pure, translucent consciousness: this is a typical image conveyed by this first simple word.
Aspects of yoga may be recognised in each religion or mystical school. It is so because purifying the consciousness and developing the path of liberation (redemption) are practised everywhere and treated as essential foundations. Moreover, each religion commences with the process of initiation, consequently it applies what is commonly called a sacrament, sanctification.
The entire abundance of the meanings of yoga is contained in very simple and essential words. The tradition conveys four systems or aspects of practising yoga as a whole. They are hidden in four words: HATHA, BHAKTI, JNANA and RAJA. I hope that these words do ring a bell. They are worth perceiveing as the aspects of one and only YOGA.
The term HATHA consists of two root words with mutually contradictory meanings. As a result, we discover that cultivating such yoga may be called the YOGA OF BALANCE AND RHYTHM. If HA stands for activising, then THA focuses on quietening and relaxation. If HA is the sun, then THA is the moon. Proceeding from work and activity (i. e. HA), to relaxation and lack of activity, (i. e. THA), indicates this rhythm and brings us into the state of BALANCE. The key to HATHA is rhythm and harmony of the opposites. These contradictory states complement each other in a useful way. If God is HA, then man is THA, as His Image and likeness. The Higher Self is HA and the Lower Self is THA, similarly to the sun and the moon. The second, i. e. the opposite state, is a reflection and a repercussion of the first state, the initial one.
In other terms HA signifies the element known as ALPHA, where THA is something which complements it and makes it a whole and which is called the OMEGA state. HA syllable possesses the attributes of opening and releasing. THA syllable suggests bringing something to a close and a completion of a process. HATHA means the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, Alpha and Omega.
Hatha usually relates to the dualistic plane of physical energies. It is concerned with seeking a balanced lifestyle, harmonious co-existence with the surrounding nature, the biological rhythm and, generally, psychosomatic balance.
The concept of DRASHTA – the Spectator, the Witness, the Self- which is the pillar of teachings concerning consciousness and its phenomena (experiences), suggests that there are no two separate Selves, that there is only one Self. Drashta is one and only truly existing Self. A sensation of separation appears when one identifies oneself excessively with phenomena and experiences (VRYTTI), and then they forget their pure, primordial state referred to as the Great Self.
When this Self is experienced as HA, then it is the First One, the Primordial One, the Alpha and the Pre-beginning. When the same Self experiences Itself as one identified with phenomena-related experiences (pain, pleasure, restrictions imposed by various conditionings), then it is the Secondary One, the Last One, then it is Omega. The end of our Omega introduces one into the experience of the process of Death.
HATHA suggests that we attain Rhythm and Balance. Drashta recognises its proper place and is both the beginning and the end. Yoga signifies Oneness here, i. e. lack of splitting into our lower and higher Self. There is only One SELF – You Are This. This non-dualistic point of view is called ADVAITA, i.e. „Non-dualism” when it becomes the reality of Your life and experiences. Separation of Oneself (the Image) from Oneself (the Object) is the worst disease of human consciousness. Discovering one’s own divinity is discovering the fact that the Image and the Object cannot exist separately. In this case the Image is the Object observing itself in the mirror of the world of phenomena.
The process of HATHA, i.e, achieving BALANCE AND RHYTHM is called the building or purifying the HOUSE in order to create the Real Heart’s Resident for the SELF: DRASHTA.
Another, slightly different aspect of yoga is BHAKTI, which totally engages all our emotional and affective nature. Such yoga is a concentration of desirous nature on only one goal. BHA points to the Creator and the Father, i.e. once more the Beginning and the Source. AKTI indicates activity. What is divine activity? This is a process called adoration, worshipping, devotion as well as ecstasy. BHAKTI includes an element of activity on the one hand and the state of Primordial Bliss expressed through the root words BHA on the other hand.
The root BHA brings to mind all words signifying something nice, pleasant, idyllic and sublime. BHA suggests also the state of holiness, purity and transparency. Finally, BHA indicates the state of becoming and existence, i.e. BEING. Immaculateness and formation, as well as being, i.e. contemplation, are sort of determiners for practising this aspect of yoga.
BHAKTI may be translated as THE ACT OF BEING or BECOMING. To live as BHAKTA is to live in Happiness and Ecstasy. Then you experience infinite Joy, Ecstasy, Admiration and Beauty. Each technique concerning either attaining or maintaining these states is exactly the BHAKTI technique.
Adoration and giving in to Bliss and Ecstasy are the states of existence that God resides in. This is a celestial state of existence. Practising the Bliss of Being Here and Now is exactly the same Bhakti practice as singing joyful spiritual songs for the glory of Jesus, Krishna, Buddha or the Great Spirit.
Spontaneous Uplifting Singing is a sign that at such a moment one has realised the state of BHAKTI. Spontaneous and beautiful chanting of hymns and laudatory songs is a sign of progress in this aspect of the entire yoga. BHAKTI transforms the entire desirous, affective, and emotional part of the human being until it attains complete liberation and divinity.
BHAKTI leads to focusing of our consciousness on one point in such a way that we rapidly attain purification and silencing of the chaotic waves of emotions and desires. Waves of phenomena slow down in their activity of identifying and affecting the Witness (Drashta) so as to become kind of a peaceful ocean.
Sufis express all this in one term: HAIRA, which colloquially means amazement or ecstasy. HAI syllable suggests reverence and adoration, and RA stands for that which is like the sun for consciousness, entangled in phenomena (CHITTA). Divine outlook is the perception of Magnificence and Beauty.
Admiring or contemplating a beautiful landscape transforms our emotions and fills us with admiration and tranquility. One may say that concentration, studying the beauty of a landscape, as well as amazement in which it results, is a pure process of growth and attaining divine BHAKTI.
Another vital aspect of yoga is JNANA, which is comonly understood as KNOWLEDGE. However, the root of this word points to cognition, knowing or the act of experiencing. JNA means KNOWS. This attribute of yoga is predominantly associated with the thinking and comprehending aspect of our nature. The root word JNA means something that KNOWS, i.e. which is familiar with something or somebody.
JNANA must be based on a true cognitive measure and may not be instrinsically self-contradictory. KNOWLEDGE that is intrinsically self-contradictory and incoherent is something that we may refer to as a delusion. Consequently, JNANA teaches us about KNOWING and COGNITION. When we grasp the meaning of the word ANA, we will discover its deeper sense.
A curious and essential fact is that ANA indicates something that represents the „WITHOUT” or „NON” state. Our KNOWING and our COGNITION change automatically into the state which may be described as Not-Knowing or Not- Experiencing. Djnana in its essence is a state of Non-cognition.
Sometimes God is called the Indecipherable One or the Great Negation, as His Reality contradicts the phenomena-related and relative pseudo-reality, which appears to be totally real for the Witness identified with consciousness-related phenomena. Djnana is accurately referred to as Knowledge of God or Familiarity with God. Buddhists call it the Knowledge of the Void, which is a contradiction of the illusory nature of phenomena.
NON-KNOWING or NON-EXPERIENCING are what we realise by cultivating the JNANA process. What happens thanks to cultivating this form of yoga was described by Jesus in the following words: „Not You but the Holy Spirit will speak through You”. The root word ANA stands for annihilation or cessation of indentifying oneself with phenomena. The word NOT does not mean a contradiction of something, it rather points to such a state in which something is totally non-existent, as it became obliterated or never in fact existed.
Consequently, JNANA is KNOWLEDGE, but not one which originates from the world of phenomena, but one that is described as „Wisdom descending from above, Pure and Immaculate One”. It is the Knowledge of God. A more Christian word, GNOSIS is a derivative of JNANA and it originally has the same root meaning.
Thus, we cannot develop JNANA thanks to intellectual, philosophical or theological studies. JNANA appears as a fruit of God-realisation (the Buddhi State). Pure consciousness is one of NON-COGNITION, i.e. something that is manifested through JNANA.
The mind in the state of tranquility, pure perception originating from the Great Void or Silence is the mind from which JNANA emerges spontaneously. This state is described as achieving the I-DON’T-KNOW mind.
The Third Eye, developed by so-called clairvoyants, in yoga is named AJNA, which literally means I-DON’T-KNOW or the Perfect Knowledge. This state is also recognisable as the Order or the Will, the Force. That’s all about the third aspect of yoga.
Let us disclose some secrets concerning the fourth aspect of yoga, which is RAJA, commonly understood as the adjective ROYAL, i.e. perfect. The word RAJA may also be translated as Will or Intention.
The root syllables will perfectly indicate what RAJA state fundamentally is.
RA suggests desire, longing, intention and love in its subtle, sunny shape. JA suggests birth or incarnation, as well as kind, existence, something common. The JA syllable also indicates subjugation, conquest or victory.
RAJA may be understood as the subjugation of desires, as well as the birth of love, or the desire to be part of a community. Aspiration to unite with the Highest Being is the last of all desires. When LOVE is born inside of us, it is accompanied by the wish to unite. This is what RAJA is about. This is the Royal aspect of yoga.
Control over one’s cravings, not only over one’s deeds, ensues from the message of RAJA in the same way as THE EMBODIMENT OF LOVE does. Where there is will and victory, there is also the Victory of WiIl, the Highest One. If there is also the solar aspect – RA- there is the embodiment of the sun’s nature as well.
JA also suggests the state of reality, consciousness, sobriety and awareness. It is the state of being alert. Moreover, JA indicates water, or its element: the energy of water. JA may also participate in something that is repeated or classified. RA points towards the nature of passions, desires and cravings. RA stands for attraction or repulsion, as well as involvement and absorption.
Consequently, RAJA is also fully manifested alertness and reaching awareness. RAJA is a manifestation of passions and desires until all of them fade away, leaving no trace behind. RAJA also signifies the process of taking control over one’s own life and subjugating, like a monarch does, all cravings and passions of the heart.
The Royal Yoga may best be described as the Embodiment of Love, as Love is a truly Royal privilege. It is the Most Sublime of all virtues. Love finds Embodiment when one celebrates Victory over one’s Passions. Winning is the privilege of Kings. Victory means liberation. Thus, Raja yoga is freedom from passions and cravings, accompanied by the embodiment of Love, which then proves to be natural and spontaneous.
Let us try to see these four aspects of yoga as four parts of one wheel. If we categorise each kind of yoga into respective ANGAS in Yogasutras, we will discover many parallels in the process of development on the path of yoga.
This is traditionally understood YOGACHAKRA, i.e. the Circle of Yoga: HATHA, BHAKTI, JNANA and RAJA. Yoga in its entirety is realised thanks to inseparable cultivation of all its aspects. Thus we have discovered four subsequent stages of work and four stages in the heightening of Consciousness so as to attain the Sublime Goal. Hum!
Acharya Lalit’ Mohan G.K.