Rāja Yoga – The Royal Yoga

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Rāja Yoga – The Ancient Royal Yoga of Rishis 

Rāja yoga – „royal yoga”, „royal union”, also known as classical yoga and aṣṭānga yoga) is concerned principally with the cultivation of the viewer’s (ṛṣih) mind using a succession of steps, such as meditation (dhyāna, dhyana) and contemplation (samādhi, samadhi). Its object is to further one’s acquaintance with reality (viveka), achieve awakening (moksha) and eventually enlightenment, kaivalya. 

Raja yoga meditation is generally based on directing one’s life force, prana, to bring the mind and emotions so into balance that the attention may be easily focused on the object of meditation, or the Deva directly. The aim of Raja Yoga is self-realization, Atman-Realization, or liberation. However, the masters simplified the Raja Yoga learning so that everybody can practice it easily and safely to improve their physical as well as mental health. For many generations, students learn Raja Yoga from The Sree Guru (master,guide) in person. Learning in person from the Guru is the recommended and complete method of learning. 

Rāja, Raja – also spelled rajah, from Sanskrit राज rāja – is an Indian term for a monarch, or princely ruler of the Kshatriya varna. The female form, the word for „queen”, mainly used for a raja’s wife, is rani (sometimes spelled ranee), from Sanskrit राज्ञी rājñī, or ratu, dato, datuk, or datu in Southeast Asia. The title has a long history in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, being attested from the Rigveda, where a rājan – is a ruler, enlighthen ruler, see for example the (dāśarājñá), the „battle of ten kings”. 

The fire of Yoga burns the cage of sin that is around a man. Raja Yoga is the Solar Yoga, when Ra means Ravi (Sun), the Soul and Aja means beam of the sun, unborn, existing in eternity, leader, descendant of Viśvamitra Rishi, the vehicle of Agni (Fire) or belonging to the sun or Shiva (Śiva). The sanskrit word rAj (Raaj) means shining, radiant, to be illustrious or resplendent, to shine, glitter, a king, prince, sovereign, chief, to direct, to govern, to illuminate, someone the best or the most exellent of its kind! 

The Yogi (Yogini) who has achieved mind control is the true king (queen) of this world. He or she has controlled all his desires and enjoys absolute peace and contentment which constitute true happiness. The king on the other hand, experiences many pleasures of the world. He also has a lot of control over other people. But if he does not have inner control, mastery of his own mind, all his riches and honors and the respect and fear he receives from his subjects is to no avail. He is never content, his mind gets upset every time he does not get what he wants – and even a king has many unfulfilled desires. His lot is pitiful. In that sense the Raja Yogi is a true king, even though he may be a beggar, having renounced all possessions, while many kings are truly beggars. Please note that there are very few kings left in the modern world but, in our modern society, politicians and business people find themselves in a similar situation of power and enjoyment.

The concept of the Raja Yoga practice is to focus the mind (manas), which is the “king” of one’s psycho-physical structure. Since the whole body is interconnected with each other, with the mind ruling one’s every thought and action, practicing hatha yoga will be an essential first step to prepare oneself in yoga meditation. Furthermore, other forms of self-discipline and purification of the physical self also includes getting rid of old addictions such as alcohol and cigarettes, and paying close attention to your actions, thoughts, and speech. Through practicing all these, one can be fit to engage in a deeper form of yoga, which is meditation. The objective of Raja Yoga is to control all forms of thought-waves and mental modifications. It starts its Sadhana with the mind, and may also involve minimum asanas and pranayamas. 

Ryc. Padmasana, Lotus Position in Raja Yoga 

Dharma and Sanatana Dharma 

Dharma in Sanskrit: धर्म dhárma, Pali: धम्म dhamma; lit. that which upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. As well as referring to Law in the universal or abstract sense dharma designates those behaviours considered necessary for the maintenance of the natural order of things. Therefore dharma may encompass ideas such as duty, vocation, religion and everything that is considered correct, proper or decent behaviour. 

The idea of dharma as duty or propriety derives from an idea found in India’s ancient legal and religious texts that there is a divinely instituted natural order of things (rta) and justice, social harmony and human happiness require that human beings discern and live in a manner appropriate to the requirements of that order. Dharma states that there are guidelines or rules that must be obeyed varying from place to place. The source of any individual dharma lies in the nature of each individual and is part of their customs and practices. According to the various Indian religions, such as Brahmanism, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, beings that live in accordance with dharma proceed more quickly toward dharma yukam, moksha or nirvana (personal liberation). The antonym of dharma is adharma, meaning unnatural or immoral. 

In traditional Hindu society, dharma has historically denoted a variety of ideas, such as Vedic ritual, ethical conduct, caste rules, and civil and criminal law. Its most common meaning, however, pertains to two principal ideals; that social life should be structured through well-defined and well-regulated classes (varna), and that an individual’s life within a class should be organized into defined stages (ashrama, see dharmasastra). A Hindu’s dharma is affected by the person’s age, caste, class, occupation, and gender. In modern Indian languages it can refer simply to a person’s religion, depending on the context. Dharma also refers to the teachings and doctrines of the founders of Buddhism and Jainism, the Buddha and Mahavira.

In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for „phenomenon”. In recent years, „dharma” has evolved from an older, Bråhmanical dharma (which the king’s support was required both financially and in protecting the earth), to a newer dharma called nåstika dharma. Nåstika dharma draws upon the principles and disciplines of yoga to encourage not dominance, as would be seen in the prior dharma, but equality and harmony among people, which in the end encourages selfless behavior. 

In the Rigveda, the word appears as an n-stem, dhárman-, with a range of meanings encompassing „something established or firm” (in the literal sense of prods or poles), figuratively „sustainer, supporter” (of deities), and semantically similar to the Greek ethos („fixed decree, statute, law”). In Classical Sanskrit, the noun becomes thematic, dharma-. In the Rig Veda, the belief (or observation) that a natural justice and harmony pervades the natural world becomes manifest in the concept of rta, which is both 'nature’s way’ and the order implicit in nature. Thus rta bears a resemblance to the ancient Chinese concept of tao and the Heraclitan, Stoic or Christian conceptions of the logos. This „power” that lies behind nature and that keeps everything in balance became a natural forerunner to the idea of dharma. The idea of rta (rita) laid the cornerstone of dharma’s implicit attribution to the „ultimate reality” of the surrounding universe, in classical Vedic Hinduism the following verse from the Rig-Veda is an example where rta is mentioned: „O Indra, lead us on the path of Rta, on the right path over all evils”. — RV 10.133.6

The transition of the rta (rita, rtah) to the modern idea of dharma occurs in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The Upanishads saw dharma as the universal principle of law, order, harmony, all in all truth, that sprang first from Brahman. It acts as the regulatory moral principle of the Universe. It is sat (truth), a major tenet of Hinduism. This hearkens back to the conception of the Rig Veda that „Ekam Sat,” (Truth Is One), of the idea that Brahman is „Sacchidananda” (Truth-Consciousness-Bliss). Dharma is not just law, or harmony, it is pure Reality. In the Brihadaranyaka’s own words: 

Verily, that which is Dharma is truth. Therefore they say of a man who speaks truth, „He speaks the Dharma,” or of a man who speaks the Dharma, „He speaks the Truth.” Verily, both these things are the same. — (Brh. Upanishad, 1.4.14) (2)

In the Mahabharata, Krishna defines dharma as, „Dhaaranaad dharma ity aahur dharmena vidhrtaah prajaah, Yat syaad dhaarana sanyuktam sa dharma iti nishchayah,” i.e., Dharma upholds both this-worldly and other-worldly affairs —(Mbh 8.69.58). 

Sanatana Dharma is the predominant siritual tradition and religion of the Indian subcontinent, and one of its indigenous religions. Sanatana Dharma  includes Shaivism, Śaktism and Śrauta among numerous other traditions. It also includes historical groups, for example the Kapalikas. Among other practices and philosophies, Sanatana Dharma includes a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of „daily morality” based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Sanatana Dharma is a conglomeration of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid common set of beliefs. 

Sanatana Dharma is formed of diverse traditions and has no single founder. Among its direct roots is the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India and, as such, Sanatana Dharma (Vedism, Brahmanism, Hinduism) is often called the „oldest living religion” or the „oldest living major religion” in the world. One orthodox classification of Hindu texts is to divide into Śruti („revealed”) and Smriti („remembered”) texts. These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, rituals and temple building among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas, Upanishads, Purāṇas, Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, Bhagavad Gītā and Āgamas. Sanatana Dharma, with about one billion followers, is the world’s third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam. 

The Rig Veda, the oldest scripture and the mainstay of Hindu philosophy does not take a restrictive view on the fundamental question of God and the creation of universe. Most Sanatana Dharmans believe that the spirit or soul — the true „self” of every person, called the ātman — is eternal. According to the monistic/pantheistic theologies of Sanatana Dharma (such as Advaita Vedanta school), this Atman is ultimately indistinct from Brahman, the supreme spirit. Hence, these schools are called non-dualist. The goal of life, according to the Advaita school, is to realize that one’s ātman is identical to Brahman, the supreme soul. The Upanishads state that whoever becomes fully aware of the ātman as the innermost core of one’s own self realizes an identity with Brahman and thereby reaches moksha (liberation or freedom). 

Dualistic schools (Dvaita and Bhakti) understand Brahman as a Supreme Being who possesses personality, and they worship him or her thus, as Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva (Śiva), or Shakti (Śakti), depending upon the group. The ātman is dependent on God (Deva), while moksha depends on love towards God and on God’s grace. When God is viewed as the supreme personal being (rather than as the infinite principle), God is called Ishvara (Iśvara, „The Lord”), Bhagavan („The Auspicious One”) or Parameshwara („The Supreme Lord”). However interpretations of Ishvara (Iśvara) vary, ranging from non-belief in Ishvara by followers of Mimamsakas, to identifying Brahman and Ishvara as one, as in Advaita. In the majority of traditions of Vaishnavism he is Vishnu, God, and the text of Vaishnava scriptures identify this Being as Krishna, sometimes referred to as Svayam Bhagavan. However, under Shaktism, Devi or Adi Parashakti is considered as the Supreme Being and in Shaivism Shiva (Śiva) is considered Supreme. 

The Mind is like a Lake

In the basic theory of Raja Yoga, the mind is compared to a lake. Owing to the wind and under-currents, the lake gets agitated and some waves are created. These waves are modifications of the state of the lake. The wind is an external factor and the under-currents are internal factors. Similarly owing to external distractions, or sensorial perceptions of the outside world (eg. sight and smell of the most delicious chocolate cake), and internal distractions, such as memories (smrittis) and latent tendencies of the mind (samskaras), modifications take place at the surface of the conscious mind.

These modifications, thoughts and emotions, are called vrittis in raja yoga terminology and are best translated as thought waves. If, deprived of a mirror, you want to see your reflection in the water, a lake with many waves will offer no reflection or a very distorted version of your likeness. Upon cessation of wind, gradually the waves will subside and the reflection of your face will become closer and closer to its true form. Likewise, trying to look within and find your own true Self, your soul, the purusha, is impossible when the mind is agitated. All you see are the waves that stand in the way of finding your inner self. Only once the mind is perfectly still, in the state of samadhi, can one identify with one’s true nature, the purusha.

Calmness through Control and Inner Psychology

Embarking on the path of Raja Yoga involves practicing techniques that lead to inner control. Control of the body, the energy or prana, the senses or indriyas, and the mind (emotions and thoughts). The chief practice is meditation but other techniques exist as well. Among them are the asanas or postures, and pranayamas or breathing techniques. However in order to achieve success in the practice of meditation, one must deal with the resistance of one’s own mind and here lies the true difficulty of raja yoga. More often than not the mind will not cooperate, even rebel against the practice and discipline. In order to overcome each obstacle as they come, one must gain a keen understanding of the functioning of the mind and this is done through the learning of the yogic psychology. Yogis are very pragmatic and by the time you have reached this paragraph, you are probably very keen to start practicing own mind and psychi control. The first thing to do is to get acquained with the eight limbs (ashtanga) of raja yoga and start developing the knowledge about dharma, karma and samsara and starts practice yamas and niyamas and simple satkara (dharana), focusing and pratyaya (dhyana), meditations. 


Rajadharma is the dharma which applies to the king, or the Raja. Dharma is that which upholds, supports, or maintains the order of the universe and is based on truth. It is of central importance in achieving order and balance within the world and does this by demanding certain necessary behaviors from people. The king served two main functions as the Raja: Secular and Religious. The religious functions involved certain acts for propitiating gods, removing dangers, and guarding dharma, among other things. The secular functions involved helping prosperity (such as during times of famine), dealing out even-handed justice, and protecting people and their property. 

Protection of his subjects was seen as the first and foremost duty of the king. This was achieved by punishing internal aggression, such as thieves among his people, and meeting external aggression, such as attacks by foreign entities. Moreover, the king possessed executive, judicial, and legislative dharmas, which he was responsible for carrying out. If he did so wisely, the king believed that he would be rewarded by reaching the pinnacle of the abode of the sun, or heaven. However, if the king carried out his office poorly, he feared that he would suffer hell or be struck down by a deity. As scholar Charles Drekmeier notes, „dharma stood above the king, and his failure to preserve it must accordingly have disastrous consequences”. Because the king’s power had to be employed subject to the requirements of the various castes’ dharma, failure to „enforce the code” transferred guilt on to the ruler, and according to Drekmeier some texts went so far as to justify revolt against a ruler who abused his power or inadequately performed his dharma. In other words, Danda as both the king’s tool of coercion and power, yet also his potential downfall, „was a two-edged sword”. 

The executive duty of the king was primarily to carry out punishment, or Danda (Hindu Punishment). For instance, a judge who would give an incorrect verdict out of passion, ignorance, or greed is not worthy of the office, and the king should punish him harshly. Another executive dharma of the king is correcting the behavior of brahmanas that have strayed from their dharma, or duties, through the use of strict punishment.  These two examples demonstrated how the king was responsible for enforcing the dharmas of his subjects, but also was in charge of enforcing rulings in more civil disputes. Such as if a man is able to repay a creditor but does not do so out of mean-spiritedness, the king should make him pay the money and take five percent for himself. 

The judicial duty of the king was deciding any disputes that arose in his kingdom and any conflicts that arose between dharmaśastra and practices at the time or between dharmaśastra and any secular transactions. When he took the judgment seat, the king was to abandon all selfishness and be neutral to all things. The king would hear cases, such as thefts, and would use dharma to come to a decision. He was also responsible for making sure that the witnesses were honest and truthful by way of testing them. If the king conducted these trials according to dharma, he would be rewarded with wealth, fame, respect, and an eternal place in heaven, among other things.  However, not all cases fell upon the shoulders of the king. It was also the king’s duty to appoint judges that would decide cases with the same integrity as the king. The king also had a legislative duty, which was utilized when he would enact different decrees, such as announcing a festival or a day of rest for the kingdom. 

Rajadharma largely portrayed the king as an administrator above all else.  The main purpose for the king executing punishment, or danda, was to ensure that all of his subjects were carrying out their own particular dharmas.  For this reason, rajadharma was often seen as the root of all dharma and was the highest goal. The whole purpose of the king was to make everything and everyone prosper. If they were not prospering, the king was not fulfilling his dharma. He had to carry out his duties as laid down in the science of government and „not act at his sweet will.” Indeed, in the major writings on dharma (i.e. dharmasastra, etc.), the dharma of the king was regarded as the „capstone” of the other castes’ dharma both due to the king’s goal of securing the happiness and prosperity of his people as well as his ability to act as the „guarantor” of the whole social structure through the enforcement of Danda (Hindu Punishment). 

In contemporary India, an idea pervades various levels of Hindu society: the „Ramrajya”, or a kind of Hindu Golden Age in which through his strict adherence to rajadharma as outline in the Hindu epics and elsewhere, King Rama serves as the ideal model of the perfect Hindu king. As Derrett put it, „everyone lives at peace” because „everyone knows his place” and could easily be forced into that place if necessary. Rama’s actions with regards to his wife Sita at the end of the Ramayana arguably serve as the best example of his utmost regard for his dharma as king, although other actions of his both before and after his defeat of Ravana are equally revered. 


Rāja Yoga was first described as an fourpadas or four-limbed (ćatur-pada) (not as aṣṭānga, ashtanga) path in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, and is part of the Samkhya tradition. In the second pada of Raja Yoga known as Kriya-Pada, there is a list of eightlimbs of spiritual yogic practic called ashtanga (aṣṭānga). In the context of Hindu philosophy Rāja Yoga is known simply as yoga or Uro-Yoga, (The Yoga of Light). Yoga is one of the six orthodox (āstika, existing) schools of Hindu philosophy and forms an integral part of the spiritual practices of many Hindu traditions. Raja Yoga is Great ĆaturAnga, Ćatur-Pada Path, Ćatur Marga of Patañjali Yogasutras. Each Great Circle needs special Diksha (Deeksha), Yoga Initiation given from the True Royal Master! 

The term Rāja Yoga is a retronym, introduced in the 15th-century Hatha Yoga Pradipika to distinguish the school based on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali from the more current school of hatha yoga expounded by yogi Swatmarama. Generally, life force, prana, is directed to move up and down the spine until it is balanced and the mind and emotions are serenely content. Then awareness is generally directed to move forward into a point in the center of the lower forehead. This meditation point, which is about half an inch above where the eyebrows meet, is called ajna, or the third eye. When the energy is balanced throughout the brain and body and easily moving forward in the area of the third eye, your mind becomes very calm. While your mind is not passive, it is free of meaningless thoughts, worries, and the bric-a-brac of the subconscious mind. This state usually gives you a very pleasant sense of well being and your mind seems filled with a velvety darkness.

As your consciousness, ćittam, continues to move in your third eye, pastel colors begin to appear in your forehead. Sumptuous, glorious pinks, yellows, whites, blues, indigos, greens, and purples take their turn or play in combination in your forehead. Then, you may think you are seeing fireflies, lightning, or moonlight as your life force becomes more concentrated and more actively prepares you to behold higher consciousness. This process is readying you to experience your true nature as pure consciousness, pure spirit, pure awareness. And then the light in your forehead blazes brighter than the sun! But, you find it is soothing to look into the awesome light, soothing to behold it. This is the brilliance of your inner light, your essence, revealing itself to you. 

Raja yoga, The Royal Yoga, particularly, requires a teacher, true Guru  because it is easy to strain yourself, and it’s also easy to delude yourself into high level hallucinations rather than actual experiences of your higher consciousness. However, the genuine raja yogi lives in bliss, with his, or her, will surrendered to God, Brahman or Devata. A raja yogi realizes the profound truth of the Biblical passage: If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be filled with light, divine light. 

Rāja yoga is concerned with the mind (citta) and its fluctuations (vṛttis, vortexes, variations) and how to quiet or master the mind’s fluctuations. The mind is traditionally conceived as the „king”, the horseman, of the psycho-physical (body) structure. Because of the relationship between the mind and the body, the body must be first „tamed” through self-discipline and purified by means such as the outer, preliminary five limbs of this eightfold yoga, by hatha yoga or other means. A good level of overall health and psychological integration must be attained before the deeper, inner aspects of yoga can be pursued. Humans have all sorts of addictions and obsessions and these preclude the attainment of tranquil abiding (meditation). Through restraint (yama) such as celibacy, abstaining from intoxicants, and careful attention to one’s actions (niyama) of body, speech and mind, the human being becomes more fit to practice meditation. This yoke that one puts upon oneself (discipline) is another meaning of the word yoga.

Every thought, feeling, perception, or memory you may have causes a modification, or ripple, in the mind. It distorts and colors the mental mirror. If you can restrain the mind from forming into modifications, there will be no distortion, and you will experience your true Self. — Swami Satchidananda

Rāja yoga is traditionally referred to as Uro-Yoga based on aṣṭānga (eight-limbed) yoga because there are eight aspects to the path to which one must attend. Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras begin with the statement yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ (1.2), „Yoga limits the oscillations of the mind”. They go on to detail the ways in which mind can create false ideations, and advocate arduous, dedicated meditation on real objects or subjects. This process, it is said, leads to a state of quiet detachment, vairāgya, in which there is mastery over the thirst (tṛṣṇā, taṇhā) of the senses.

Practices that serve to maintain for the individual the ability to access this state may be considered rāja yoga practices. Thus rāja yoga encompasses and differentiates itself from other forms of yoga by encouraging the mind to avoid the sort of absorption in obsessional practice (including some traditional practices) that can create false mental objects. In this sense rāja yoga is called the „king among yogas”: all honest yogic practices are seen as tools in the quest to cleanse karma and obtain mokṣa, nirvāṇa or kaivalya. Historically, schools of yoga that label themselves „rāja” offer students a structure of yogic practices and a solid viewpoint on dharma. Lord Kṛṣṇa describes the yogi as follows: „A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist, and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances be a yogi” (Bg. 6.46). 

According Raja Yoga, practicers of The First Great Pada (Brahma-Vićara or Samadhi Pada) are divide into three circles for beginner’s: 

1. Karma Yoga – The Circle of True and Noble Actions (Bhagavad Gita I-VI). 

2. Bhakti Yoga – The Circle of Devotion and Selfsurrender (Bhagavad Gita VII-XII). 

3. Jńana Yoga – Circle of Knowledge and Wisdom (Bhagavad Gita XII-XVIII). 

Karma Yoga 

Although the doctrine of karma is central to all Indian religions, it is difficult to say when and where in India the concept of karma originated. According to Glasenapp, the doctrine of karma must have existed at least a thousand years before the beginning of the Christian era. Several scholars date the origin of the doctrine of karma prior to the migration of the Indo-Aryan peoples. They see its current form as a result of development in the teachings of the Śramaṇas, and later assimilation into brahmanical Hinduism, by the time of the Upaniṣads. 

Karma yoga, in Sanskrit: कर्म योग, or the „discipline of action” is a form of yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit scripture of Hinduism. Of the four paths to realization, karma yoga is the process of achieving perfection in action. Karma yoga is an intrinsic part of many derivative types of yoga, such as Natya Yoga. Karma yoga is often understood as a yoga of selfless (altruistic) service (Seva). 

Karma/n – Sanskrit: कर्म IPA: [ˈkərmə]; Pali: kamma – in Indian religions is the concept of „action” or „deed”, understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect (i.e., the cycle called saṃsāra) originating in ancient India and treated in the Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh religions. A concept of karma (along with samsara and moksha) may originate in the shramana tradition of which Buddhism and Jainism are continuations. This tradition influenced the Brahmanic religion in the early Vedantic (Upanishadic) movement of the 1-st millennium BC. This worldview was adopted from this religious culture by Brahmin orthodoxy, and Brahmins wrote the earliest recorded scriptures containing these ideas in the early Upanishads. Until recently, the scholarly consensus was that reincarnation is absent from the earliest strata of Brahminical literature. However, a new translation of two stanzas of the Rig Veda indicate that the Brahmins may have had the idea, common among small-scale societies around the world, that an individual cycles back and forth between the earth and a heavenly realm of ancestors. In this worldview, moral behavior has no influence on rebirth. The idea that the moral quality of one’s actions influences one’s rebirth is absent from India until the period of the shramana religions, and the Brahmins appear to have adopted this idea from other religious groups. 

The Bhagavad Gita gives a summary of the karma yoga process. The Gita itself is a chapter from the epic known as Mahabharata, wherein a dialogue takes place between the prince Arjuna, and his friend and chariot driver, Lord Krishna, on the brink of a great dynastic war. Their conversation is prompted by Arjuna as he is engulfed by sorrow and misgivings regarding the oncoming battle in which he has friends and relatives on both sides. In reply, Krishna then elucidates upon a number of philosophical yoga systems and practices (including karma yoga) by/through which he should indeed continue with the fight on righteous principles. 

The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning 'to do’. In its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Thus karma yoga literally translates to the path of union through action. However, in Vedantic philosophy the word karma means both action and the effects of such action. Karma yoga is described as a way of acting, thinking and willing by which one orients oneself toward realization by acting in accordance with one’s duty (dharma) without consideration of personal self-centered desires, likes or dislikes. One acts without being attached to the fruits of one’s deeds. Krishna explains that work done without selfish expectations purifies one’s mind and gradually makes an individual fit to see the value of reason. He states that it is not necessary to remain in external solitude, or remain actionless, in order to practice a spiritual life, since the state of action or inaction is primarily determined in the mind.

The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning 'to do’. In its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Thus karma yoga literally translates to the path of union through action. However, in Vedantic philosophy the word karma means both action and the effects of such action. Karma yoga is described as a way of acting, thinking and willing by which one orients oneself toward realization by acting in accordance with one’s duty (dharma) without consideration of personal self-centered desires, likes or dislikes. One acts without being attached to the fruits of one’s deeds.

Krishna explains that work done without selfish expectations purifies one’s mind and gradually makes an individual fit to see the value of reason. He states that it is not necessary to remain in external solitude, or remain actionless, in order to practice a spiritual life, since the state of action or inaction is primarily determined in the mind. 

Quotes from the Bhagavad Gita

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:

„tasmad asaktah satatam karyam karma samacara asakto hy acaran karma param apnoti purushah”

Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty, for by working without attachment one attains the Supreme. 

Shree Krishna then goes on to describe how Arjuna should surrender the fruits of his actions (good or bad) to him, Krishna, (as the Supreme Person or avatar):

Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight. 

Another important quote from the Bhagavad Gita which elucidates karma yoga is „योगः कर्मसु कौशलं॥” (yoga is skill in karma.).

Surrendering action: sAttvika vs tAmasika tyAga

Any conscious action is motivated by some expectation about the outcome, yet one is to be careful to not let this expectation be selfish in a certain sense. This is accomplished by surrendering ownership of action to Krishna. This surrender is called sAttvika tyAga (to contrast it with tAmasika tyAga or abandoning action itself as Arjuna was about to).

Sattvika tyaga ritual

The Shrivaishnava tradition formalizes this by recommending the chanting of a shloka prior (also called Sattvika tyaga) to the performance of any such significant karma. This shloka (using ITRANS), with its meaning is given below:

bhagavAn eva svaniyAmya sva-sheSha-bhUtena mayA sva-ArAdhana-eka-prayojanAya idam svasmai svaprItyai svayam eva kArayati.

This translates to:

The auspicious deity, exerting control on himself, using me (his other part) as an instrument, himself effects , with his pleasure/ worship being the only purpose.

The same shloka may be repeated after the performance of the action, except one replaces kArayati to kArayitavAn to indicate past tense.

Other mantras

The common refrain „सर्वं श्री-कॄष्णार्पणमस्तु॥” is used for the same effect. There is also the following shloka:

कायेन वाचा मनसेंद्रियैर्वा । बुद्ध्यात्मना वा प्रकृतिस्वभावात् । करोमि यद्यत् सकलं परस्मै । नारायणयेति समर्पयामि ॥

which translates to:

Whatever I perform with my body, speech, mind, limbs, intellect or my inner self, either intentionally or unintentionally, I dedicate it to that Supreme Lord Narayana. 

As with a number of other philosophies in Hinduism, karma yoga is based on a general understanding of karma and reincarnation (sanskara). It is believed that a man is born with certain tendencies (Sanskaras), both positive and negative, from his previous lives, which push him toward performing certain actions in his present one. This process continues until the individual attains a zero balance (no karma remaining), wherein one achieves liberation.Shankaracharya says by practicing karma yoga, one’s mind gets purified. 

Karma in hinduism and Yoga school 

Some traditions (i.e., the Vedanta), believe that a supreme being plays some kind of role, for example, as the dispenser of the 'fruits’ of karma or as exercising the option to change one’s karma in rare instances. In general, followers of Buddhism and many followers of Hinduism consider the natural laws of causation sufficient to explain the effects of karma. Another view holds that a Sadguru, acting on a god’s behalf, can mitigate or work out some of the karma of the disciple. And according to the Jainism perspective, neither a god nor a guru have any role in a person’s karma—the individual is considered to be the sole doer and enjoyer of his karmas and their 'fruits’. Laws of karma are codified in some books. 

Many Hindus see God’s direct involvement in this process; others consider the natural laws of causation sufficient to explain the effects of karma. Followers of Vedanta consider Ishvara, a personal supreme God, as playing a role in the delivery of karma. Theistic schools of Hinduism such as Vedanta thus disagree with the Buddhist and Jain views and other Hindu views that karma is merely a law of cause and effect but rather is also dependent on the will of a personal supreme God. A summary of this theistic view of karma is expressed by the following: „God does not make one suffer for no reason nor does He make one happy for no reason. God is very fair and gives you exactly what you deserve.” 

Karma is not punishment or retribution but simply an extended expression or consequence of natural acts. Karma means „deed” or „act” and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, that governs all life. The effects experienced are also able to be mitigated by actions and are not necessarily fated. That is to say, a particular action now is not binding to some particular, pre-determined future experience or reaction; it is not a simple, one-to-one correspondence of reward or punishment. 

Karma is not fate, for humans act with free will creating their own destiny. According to the Vedas, if one sows goodness, one will reap goodness; if one sows evil, one will reap evil. Karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determines our future. The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate response.

One of the first and most dramatic illustrations of Karma can be found in the Bhagavad Gita. In this poem, Arjuna the protagonist is preparing for battle when he realizes that the enemy consists of members of his own family and decides not to fight. His charioteer, Krishna (an avatar of god), explains to Arjuna the concept of dharma (duty) among other things and makes him see that it is his duty to fight. The original Hindu concept of karma was later enhanced by several other movements within the religion, most notably Vedanta, and Tantra.

In this way, so long as the stock of Sanchita karma lasts, a part of it continues to be taken out as Prarabdha karma for being experienced in one lifetime, leading to the cycle of birth and death. A jiva cannot attain moksha until the accumulated sanchita karmas are completely exhausted. 

Lesya – The karmic colour of the Soul 

Karma is thought of as a kind of pollution, that taints the soul with various colours (leśyā). Based on its karma, a soul undergoes transmigration and reincarnates in various states of existence—like heavens or hells, or as humans or animals. Lesya (leśya, lezya), according to the some theory of karma, is the coloring of the soul on account its association with the karmic matter. The colour of leśyā varies from person to person depending on the psychic states and mental activities behind an action. The coloring of the soul is explained through the analogy of crystal, that acquires the color of the matter associated with it. In the same way, the soul reflects the qualities of colour, taste, smell and touch of associated karmic matter, although it is usually the colour that is referred to when discussing the leśyās. 

The ancient Yogic text Uttarādhyayana-sūtra speaks of six main categories of leśyā represented by six colours – black (krishna), navy or dirty blue (neel), grey (kapot), fire red (tejo), lotus yellow (padma) and sun or crystal white (shukla, śukla). The coloring of the soul is explained through the analogy of crystal, that acquires the color of the matter associated with it. In the same way, the soul also reflects the qualities of taste, smell and touch of associated karmic matter, although it is usually the colour that is referred to when discussing the leśyās. Uttarādhyayana-sūtra 34.3 speaks of six main categories of leśyā represented by six colours: black (krishna), navy blue (dirty blue), grey, yellow, red and white (śukla). The black, navy blue and grey are inauspicious leśyā, leading to the soul being born into misfortunes. The yellow, red and white are auspicious leśyās, that lead to the soul being born into good fortune. Uttarādhyayana-sūtra describes the mental disposition of persons having black and white leśyās: 

A man who acts on the impulse of the five sins, does not possess the three guptis, has not ceased to injure the six (kinds of living beings), commits cruel acts, is wicked and violent, is afraid of no consequences, is mischievous and does not subdue his senses – a man of such habits develops the black leśyā. — Uttarādhyayana-sūtra, 34.21:22 

A man who abstains from constant thinking about his misery and about sinful deeds, but engages in meditation on the law and truth only, whose mind is at ease, who controls himself, who practises the samitis and guptis, whether he be still subject to passion or free from passion, is calm, and subdues his senses—a man of such habits develops the white leśyā. — Uttarādhyayana-sūtra, 34.31:32

Black lesya represents the lowest kind of state of mind. A person in this state of mind shows no compassion or mercy. People are afraid of them as these kinds of people are often violent. They also carry jealousy and animosity within themselves. Shukla („white”) leshya has two different levels. This state of mind refers to someone who strictly observe the principles of Yoga. They are trustworthy, treat every soul as if it were their own, and do not have any ill feelings even for their enemies. They remain calm even if someone abuses them. Passing in this state of mind allows a being to be reborn as a human being or an angel. People who have perfected this state of mind will become pure and will have escaped the cycle of life and death once they have died. 

A man who acts on the impulse of the five sins, does not possess the three guptis, has not ceased to injure the six (kinds of living beings), commits cruel acts, is wicked and violent, is afraid of no consequences, is mischievous and does not subdue his senses – a man of such habits develops the black leśyā. A man who abstains from constant thinking about his misery and about sinful deeds, but engages in meditation on the law and truth only, whose mind is at ease, who controls himself, who practises the samitis and guptis, whether he be still subject to passion or free from passion, is calm, and subdues his senses–a man of such habits develops the white leśyā. 

People in this dirty (toxic) blue (or brown) lesya of mind are proud, haughty, and lazy. They are unreliable and other people avoid their company. They are cheaters, cowards, and hypocrites. These people also avoid all things religious and do not mix them with havenly azure blue. A man of the following qualities: envy, anger, want of self-control, ignorance, deceit, want of modesty, greed, hatred, wickedness, carelessness, love of enjoyment; a man who pursues pleasures and does not abstain from sinful undertakings, who is wicked and violent – a man of such habits develops the blue leśyā. 

Someone in grey lesya always remains sad and gloomy. They find faults in others and are vindictive. They boast about themselves, become excited over small matters, and lack mental balance. A man who is dishonest in words and acts, who is base, not upright, a dissembler and deceiver 3, a heretic, a vile man, a talker of hurtful and sinful things, a thief, and full of jealousy – a man of such habits develops the grey leśyā. 

People in red lesya are very careful about their actions and can discriminate between good and evil. They know the difference between what is right and what is wrong. They are kind, benevolent, religious, and lead a harmonious life. A man who is humble, steadfast, free from deceit and inquisitiveness, well disciplined, restrained, attentive to his study and duties, who loves the Law and keeps it, who is afraid of forbidden things and strives after the highest good–a man of such habits develops the red leśyā. 

A person with yellow lesya is kind and benevolent and forgives everyone, even their enemies. They observe some austerities (mahavrata) and are vigilant in keeping their vows till their last breath. They remain unaffected by joys and sorrows. A man who has but little anger, pride, deceit, and greed, whose mind is at ease, who controls himself, who is attentive to his study and duties, who speaks but little, is calm, and subdues his senses–a man of such habits develops the yellow leśyā. 

According to some Yogic texts, a person with black (krishna) leśya will go to hell (naraka-loka), while those having white (śukla) leśya are either reborn in highest heaven or having achieved purity attain liberation. Persons having red lesya are reincarnated as humans, those with yellow lesya are reincarnated as celestial beings. Person, jivatman, with dirty (navy) blue lesya (and brown) is reincarnated mostly in plant life and person with grey lesya is reincarnated in animal life. Of course, there are possible midcolors like red-yellow soul (jivatman) or red-blue jivatman. Avataras have azure, heavenly blue colors as send by Gods but it is necessary not to mix up it with dirty or navy blue or brown from the second category of inauspicios color of jivatmans. 

Bhakti Yoga 

Bhakti yoga (Devanāgarī: भक्ति योग) is a second steep on spiritual path described in Hindu philosophy which is supposed to be for fostering love, utter faith and surrender to God. It is a means to realize God, and is the easiest way for the common person because it doesn’t involve extensive yogic practices. The Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana and Puranas are important scriptures which expound the philosophy of Bhakti. Hindu movements in which bhakti is the main practice are called bhakti movements—the major schools are Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism. 

Bhakti is a Sanskrit term that signifies an attitude of devotion to a personal God (Ishvara, Iśvara) that is similar to a number of human-human relationships (difference is that in bhakti relationships is soul-Supersoul, soul-God) such as beloved-lover, friend-friend, parent-child, and master-servant. 
The Bhagavata Purana teaches nine primary forms of bhakti, as explained by Prahlada: 

(1) śravaṇa („listening” to the scriptural stories of Kṛṣṇa and his companions), 

(2) kīrtana („praising,” usually refers to ecstatic group singing), 

(3) smaraṇa („remembering” or fixing the mind on Shiva or Viṣṇu), 

(4) pāda-sevana (rendering service), 

(5) arcana (worshiping an image), 

(6) vandana (paying homage), 

(7) dāsya (servitude), 

(8) sākhya (friendship), and 

(9) ātma-nivedana (complete surrender of the soul, atman, purusha). (from Bhagata Purana, 7.5.23-24) 

These nine principles of devotional service are described as helping the devotee remain constantly in touch with God. The processes of japa and internal meditation on the aspirant devotees’s chosen deity form (ishta deva) are especially popular in most bhakti schools. Bhakti is a yoga path, in that its aim is a form of divine, loving union with the Supreme Lord. The exact form of the Lord, or type of union varies between the different schools, but the essence of each process is very similar.

The Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba states, „Out of a number of practices which lead to the ultimate goal of humanity – God-Realization – Bhakti Yoga is one of the most important. Almost the whole of humanity is concerned with Bhakti Yoga, which, in simple words, means the art of worship. But it must be understood in all its true aspects, and not merely in a narrow and shallow sense, in which the term is commonly used and interpreted. The profound worship based on the high ideals of philosophy and spirituality, prompted by divine love, doubtless constitutes true Bhakti Yoga leading to higher steeps of Raja Yoga.

Bhakti in the Bhagavad Gita

While it has an extensive list of philosophical and religious associations, the Bhagavad Gita is also seen as a cornerstone for Hindu Bhakti theism, especially within Vaishnavism but within Shivaism and Shaktism too. However, it has been interpreted by many as being a manual not limited just for devotees of Krishna or better toward living Master, Shree Guru. Whatever be the case, it is adamant, in Krishna’s words, that love and innocent pure intention is the most powerful motive force in a devotee’s spiritual life. It is a very succinct and comprehensive statement on the mindset of the Bhakta (loving devotee) of Krishna, Svayam bhagavan: 

Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me. (B-Gita 9.34) 

One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God. (B-Gita 18.55)

The main schools of bhakti in Hinduism are five vaisnava sampradayas, among them very popular are speculative philosophers (advaita bhakti as taught by Sankaracarya, avatara of Shiva): Shaivas who worship Shiva, and the gods and goddesses associated with them. There are bhakti of Shaktas (zaktas) who worship a variety of goddesses. Such schools are very popular because they can protect Vedas and Vedic true gods from the influence of other non-dharmic or non-vedic religions like monotheistic Christianity, Islam, Judaism etc.; thus speaking about Vishnu as God, second manifestation of Shiva, The Lord, and not as some „demon” etc., like other non-vedic philosophers and religions/ dharmas may do. These schools are not always exclusive of each other—a bhakti’s devotional practices to one form of demigod does not preclude worship of another form. 

Jnana Yoga – The third basic steep of Raja Yoga 

Jñāna yoga, in Devanāgarī: ज्ञान योग; the pronunciation can be approximated by jnyaana yoga” or „path of knowledge” is one of the types of yoga mentioned in Hindu philosophies. Jñāna in Sanskrit means „knowledge”. As used in the Bhagavad Gita, the Advaita philosopher Adi Shankara gave primary importance to jñāna yoga as „knowledge of the absolute” (Brahman), while the Vishishtadvaita commentator Ramanuja regarded knowledge only as a condition of devotion. In the Bhagavad Gita (13.3) Krishna says that jñāna consists of properly understanding kshetra (the field of activity–that is, the body) and kshetra-jna (the knower of the body–that is, the soul). Later in the Gita (13.35) Krishna emphasizes that a transcendentalist must understand the difference between these two. Sri Ganapatrao Maharaj Kannur emphasizes the significance of knowing self so as to know the supreme and that it is essential to vanquish the ego and the identification with the body. 

Classification of Jnana Yoga means

Jñāna yoga teaches that there are four means to liberation: 

1. Viveka – Discrimination: The ability to differentiate between what is real/eternal (Brahman) and what is unreal/temporal (everything else in the universe.) This was an important concept in texts older even than the Bhagavad Gita, and often invoked the image of a Swan, which was said to be able to separate milk (or Soma) from water, whilst drinking.

2. Vairagya – Dispassion: After practice one should be able to „detach” her/himself from everything that is „temporary.”

3. Shad-sampati – The 6 Virtues: Sama – Tranquility (control of the mind), Dama (control of the senses), Uparati (cessation/renunciation of activities that are not duties), Titiksha (endurance), Shraddha (faith, śraddha), Samadhana (perfect concentration).

4. Mumukshutva, Mumukshu – Intensely focused longing for moksha, liberation from temporal entanglements that bind one to the cycle of death and rebirth. 

Kevala Jnana 

Particularly in Jainism, Kevala Jñāna (Sanskrit: केवलज्ञान) or Kevala Ṇāṇa (Jain Prakrit: केवल णाण), „Perfect or Absolute Knowledge”, is the highest form of knowledge that a soul can attain. A person who has attained Kevala Jñāna is called a Kevalin, which is synonymous with Jina „victor” and Arihant „the worthy one”. A Tirthankara is a kevalin who preaches the Jain doctrine and establishes the Jaina order. In Jain thought, Kevala is the state of isolation of the jīva from the ajīva attained through ascetic practices which burn off one’s karmic residues, releasing one from bondage to the cycle of death and rebirth. Kevala Jñāna thus means infinite knowledge of self and non-self, attained by a soul after annihilation of the all ghātiyā karmas. The soul who has reached this stage achieves moksa or liberation at the end of his lifespan.

Kevala Jñāna and Moksa are intricately related. Moksa, or liberation, can only be attained by the enlightened beings who have attained Kevala Jñāna. After the death or nirvana of a Kevalin, he becomes a Siddha, a liberated soul in a state of infinite bliss, knowledge, perception and power. It is a permanent and irreversible state, free from sufferings, births and death. It is a state of permanent untrammeled bliss. 

Mahavira is said to have practised rigorous austerities for 12 years before he attained enlightenment: 

„During the thirteenth year, in the second month of summer, in the fourth fortnight, the light (fortnight) of Vaisakha, on its tenth day, when the shadow had turned towards the east and the first wake was over, on the day called Suvrata, in the Muhurta called Vigaya, outside of the town Grimbhikagrama (Jrumbak gram) on the bank of the river Rjupalika (Rujuvalika), not far from an old temple, in the field of the householder Samaga(shyamak), under a Sal tree, when the moon was in conjunction with the asterism Uttaraphalguni, (the Venerable One) in a squatting position with joined heels, exposing himself to the heat of the sun, after fasting two and a half days without drinking water, being engaged in deep meditation, reached the highest knowledge and intuition, called Kevala, which is infinite, supreme, unobstructed, unimpeded, complete, and full. (120) Kevala Jñāna is one of the five major events in life of a Tirthankara and is known as Jñāna Kalyanaka and celebrated by all gods. Mahavira’s Kaivalya was celebrated by the demi-gods, who constructed the Samosarana or a grand preaching assembly for him.

Kevala Jñāna and Moksa

Kevala Jñāna and Moksa (Moksha) are intricately related. Moksa, or liberation, can only be attained by the enlightened beings who have attained Kevala Jñāna. After the death or nirvana of a Kevalin, he becomes a Siddha, a liberated soul in a state of infinite bliss, knowledge, perception and power. It is a permanent and irreversible state, free from sufferings, births and death. It is a state of permanent untrammeled bliss. 

There is a direct relationship between Supreme Non-attachment and Omniscience. In the higher stages of meditation or dhyāna, one first attains the state of Vītarāga wherein one is completely freed of all feelings of attachment to all else other than one’s soul. Once a permanent state of Vītarāga is achieved, omniscience follows. This is because omniscience is the basic nature of the soul and it is merely clogged by the presence of the 8 types of karmas in the soul. The attainment of Vītarāga ensures that the 4 types of destructive karmas known as ghatiya karmas are dissociated from the soul permanently. Hence, since the destructive karmas are not present in the soul any more, the soul attains omniscience, its natural attribute. 

The Kevala Jñāna of Mahavira 

Mahavira is said to have practised rigorous austerities for 12 years before he attained enlightenment: 
„During the thirteenth year, in the second month of summer, in the fourth fortnight, the light (fortnight) of Vaisakha, on its tenth day, when the shadow had turned towards the east and the first wake was over, on the day called Suvrata, in the Muhurta called Vigaya, outside of the town Grimbhikagrama (Jrumbak gram) on the bank of the river Rjupalika (Rujuvalika), not far from an old temple, in the field of the householder Samaga(shyamak), under a Sal tree, when the moon was in conjunction with the asterism Uttaraphalguni, (the Venerable One) in a squatting position with joined heels, exposing himself to the heat of the sun, after fasting two and a half days without drinking water, being engaged in deep meditation, reached the highest knowledge and intuition, called Kevala, which is infinite, supreme, unobstructed, unimpeded, complete, and full. (120)

Kevala Jñāna is one of the five major events in life of a Tirthankara and is known as Jñāna Kalyanaka and celebrated by all gods. Mahavira’s Kaivalya was celebrated by the demi-gods, who constructed the Samosarana or a grand preaching assembly for him.

Jñāna – Knowledge

According to Jainism, pure and absolute knowledge is an intrinsic and indestructible quality of all souls. However, because of the accumulation of different types Jñānāvaraṇīya karmas, this quality of soul loses potency and becomes obscured. Following are the types of knowledge: 

Type of Knowledge – Description – Obscured by

1. Mati-Jñāna – The knowledge through the medium of the five senses – Mati Jñānāvaraṇīya karma; 

2. Sruta Jñāna – The knowledge which is based on the interpretation of signs, the understanding of speech, words, writings, gestures, etc. – Sruta Jñānāvaraṇīya karma; 

3. Avadhi Jñāna – Clairvoyance, the transcendental knowledge of corporeal things, occurring without the medium of organs – Avadhi Jñānāvaraṇīya karma; 

4. Manahparyaya Jñāna – Extrasensory perception, the transcendental knowledge of the thoughts of others, occurring without the medium of organs – Manahparyaya Jñānāvaraṇīya karma; 

5. Kevala Jñāna – Unlimited, absolute, direct Omniscience, perfect and highest form of knowledge and perception – Kevala Jñānāvaraṇīya karma; 

While other types of knowledge are prone to error on account of delusion, only Kevala Jñāna is perfect and free from all errors.

Two aspects of Kevala Jñāna

There are two aspects to Kevala Jñāna: complete realisation of Atman and omniscience, complete knowledge of non-self, Anatman. 

A person who attains Kevala Jñāna realises the true nature of his soul, Atman. He remains engrossed in his true self, Atman. He is free from all desires and detached from all worldly activities, as he has achieved the highest objective that can be achieved by the soul. Secondly, Kevala Jñāna also means complete knowledge of all the activities and objects in the universe. Jain texts describe the omniscience of Mahavira in this way:  

When the Venerable Ascetic Mahavira Vardhamana had become a Jina and Arhata (Arihant), he was a Kevali, omniscient and comprehending all objects; he knew and saw all conditions of the world, of gods, men, and demons: whence they come, whither they go, whether they are born as men or animals or become gods or hell-beings (upapada), the ideas, the thoughts of their minds, the food, doings, desires, the open and secret deeds of all the living beings in the whole world; he the Arhata (Arihant), for whom there is no secret, knew and saw all conditions of all living beings in the world, what they thought, spoke, or did at any moment. 


I. BRAHMA VIHARA or SAMADHI-PADA with Karma, Bhakti and Jńana as small steep. In another glimpse: Śravana- Yana, Pratyeka-Yana and Maha-Yana. 

1. Karmayoga (Seva-Yana, Śravaka-Yana, Sevana); 

2. Bhaktiyoga (Pratyeka-Yana); 

3. Jńanayoga (Maha-Yana); 


4. Dharana (Concentration of Counscioness, Ćitta Asraya); 

5. Prakriti-Asraya (Dependance on Nature); 

6. Brahma-Asraya (Dependance on Brahma, God Creator); 


7. Virat, Viraat – Nature, Spirit of Nature, Powers of Nature; 

8. Ishvara, Iśvara – Perfekt Master, Api Guru, Shiva (Śiva), Siddha; 

9. Parabrahman, Paramatman, Rishitva – The Only Higest God, All-God, Vishvedevah; 


10. Maharishi – Savikalpa Samadhi Bhavana; 

11. Brahmarishi – Nirvikalpa Samadhi Dharmamegha; 

12. Mahasamadhi, Kaivalya – Avatara; 

Raja Yoga Sadhana (Practice) 

Rāja yoga aims at controlling all thought-waves or mental modifications. While a Hatha Yogi starts his sādhanā, or spiritual practice, with āsanas (postures) and prāṇāyāma, a rāja yogi starts his sādhanā with the mind as well as a certain minimum of āsana based on Lotus Posision and prāṇāyāma usually included as a preparation for the meditation and concentration. In Samādhi Pada I,27 it is stated that the word of Īśvara is OM, the Praṇava. Through the sounding of the Word and through reflection upon its meaning, the Way is found. 

In the Jangama dhyana technique of Rāja yoga, the yogi concentrates the mind and sight between the eyebrows. According to Patanjali, this is one method of achieving the initial concentration (dharana: Yoga Sutras, III: 1) necessary for the mind to go introverted in meditation (dhyana: Yoga Sutras, III: 2). In deeper practice of the Jangama dhyana technique, the mind concentrated between the eyebrows begins to automatically lose all location and focus on the watching itself. Eventually, the meditator experiences only the consciousness of existence and achieves Self Realization. In his classic Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda describes the process in the following way:

When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point. This state is called dhyana. When one has so intensified the power of dhyana as to be able to reject the external part of perception and remain meditating only on the internal part, the meaning, that state is called Samādhi. 

Kriya Pada: Eight limbs of Ashtanga Practices 

The eight groups of practices, the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are:

1. Yama – code of conduct, self-restraint;

2. Niyama – religious observances, commitments to practice, such as study and devotion;

3. Āsana – integration of mind and body through physical activity;

4. Prānāyāma – regulation of breath leading to integration of mind and body;

5. Pratyahara – abstraction of the senses, withdrawal of the senses of perception from their objects;

6. Dhārana – concentration, one-pointedness of mind, ćitta focusing; 

7. Dhyāna – meditation (quiet activity that leads to samadhi), light meditations;

8. Samādhi – the quiet state of blissful awareness, superconscious(?) state. Attained when yogi constantly sees Paramatma in his (jivaatma) heart.

They are sometimes divided into the lower and the upper four limbs, the lower ones—from yama to pratyahara parallel to the lower limbs of Hatha Yoga, while the upper ones—from dharana to samadhi—being specific for the rāja yoga. The upper three limbs practiced simultaneously constitute the Samyama. 


Yama (restraints) consists of five parts: 

1. Ahimsa (non-violence), 

2. Satya (truthfulness), 

3. Asteya (non-stealing), 

4. Brahmacharya meaning sexual abstinence, 

5. Aparigraha (non-covetousness). 

Ahimsa is perfect harmlessness, as well as positive attitude. The five directives of Yama lay down behavioral norms as prerequisites for elimination of fear, and contribute to a tranquil mind. 


Niyama is observance of five canons: 

1. Shaucha (Śaića, zauca, internal and external purity), 

2. Santosha (Santośa, santoza, contentment), 

3. Tapas (austerity), 

4. Svadhyaya (study of religious books and repetitions of Mantras), 

5. Ishvarapranidhana (self-surrender to Iśvara – Prefect Master, God-Master, Shiva Yogeśvara and His worship). 

Niyama, unlike Yama, prescribes mental exercises to train the mind to control emotions. 


Asana in the sense of a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed and with normal (calm) breathing (or, as some sources say, „without effort”). In English, the Sanskrit word asana means „seat”, the place where one sits; or posture, position of the body (any position). Asanas (in the sense of Yoga „posture”) are said to derive from the various positions of animals’ bodies (whence are derived most of the names of the positions). 84 asanas are considered to be the main postures, of which the highest are Shirshasan (Śirśasana, headstand) and Padmasan (lotus). 

The practice of asanas affects the following aspects or planes of the human being:- physical (blood circulation, inner organs, glands, muscles, joints and nerve system); – psychological (developing emotional balance and stability, harmony) – mental (improved ability to concentrate, memory); – consciousness (purifying and clarifying consciousness/awareness); 

From the Rāja Yoga perspective, it is considered that the physical postures,  pranayama and pratyahara serve to prepare the body and mind for the following steps: dharana, dhyana and samādhi (withdrawal of the senses, contemplation, meditation, and state of expanded or transcendental consciousness, where the activity of the mind ceases and „The Knower and The Object of Knowledge Become One”). 


Prāṇāyāma is made out of two Sanskrit words (prāṇa = life energy; ayāma = control or modification). Breathing is the medium used to achieve this goal. The mind and life force are correlated to the breath. Through regulating the breathing and practicing awareness on it, one learns to control prana. According to Rāja Yogah, there are three main types (phases, units, stadia) of pranayama:

1. puraka (inhalation);

2. rechaka, rećaka (exhalation);

3. kumbhaka (holding the breath); which appears as:

– antara kumbhak (withholding the breath after inhalation);

– bahara kumbhak (withholding the breath after exhalation);

– kevala kumbhak (spontaneous withholding of the breath)

There are numerous techniques of Pranayama, each with their specific goals. The main techniques are:

– surya bhedana;

– candra bhedana;

– nadi shodhana (anuloma viloma);

– bhastrika;

– kapalabhati;

– ujjaji;

– plavini (bhujangini);

– bhramari;

– sheetkari;

– sheetali;

– combination of sheetkari and sheetali;

– murccha; 

All pranayama practice ultimately works toward purification of the nadis (energy channels) and the awakening of kundalini shakti at the muladhara chakra. The awakening of kundalini energy (also described as the awakening of divine consciousness or wisdom), and its ascent to the crown chakra is the final goal of rāja yoga. 


Pratyahara is bringing the awareness to reside deep within oneself, free from the senses and external world. The Goal of Pratyahara is not to disrupt the communication from the sense organ to the brain. The awareness is far removed from the five senses. Pratyahara cannot be achieved without achievement of the preceding limbs (pranayama, niyama, etc.). The awareness comes to rest deep in the inner space, and during this time the yogi’s breath will be temporarily suspended. Pratyahara should not just be likened to concentration or meditation, etc. It is a yogic practice that takes on adequacy with the prior 8 limbs as prerequisites. Pratyahara is deep and effective ancient yogic psychoterapy preparing for higher spiritual purpose! 


Real Yoga starts from concentration. Concentration merges into meditation. Meditation ends in Samadhi. Retention of breath, Brahmacharya, Satvic (pure) food, seclusion, silence, Satsanga (being in the company of a guru), and not mixing much with people are all aids to concentration. Concentration on Bhrakuti (the space between the two eyebrows) with closed eyes is preferred. The mind can thus be easily controlled, as this is the seat for the mind. 


„Sleep, tossing of mind, attachment to objects, subtle desires and cravings, laziness, lack of Brahmacharya, gluttony are all obstacles in meditation. Reduce your wants. Cultivate dispassion. You will have progress in Yoga. Vairagya thins out the mind. Do not mix much. Do not talk much. Do not eat much. Do not sleep much. Do not exert much. Never wrestle with the mind during meditation. Do not use any violent efforts at concentration. If evil thoughts enter your mind, do not use your will force in driving them. You will tax your will. You will lose your energy. You will fatigue yourself. The greater the efforts you make, the more the evil thoughts will return with redoubled force. Be indifferent. Become a witness of those thoughts. They will pass away. Never miss a day in light meditation. Dhi mean light tought. Regularity is of paramount importance. When the mind is tired, do not concentrate. Do not take heavy food at night. 

The mind passes into many conditions or states as it is made up of three qualities: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. There are the five states of the mind (manas): 

Kshipta (wandering), 

Vikshipta (gathering), 

Mudha (ignorant), 

Ekagra (one-pointed), 

Nirodha (contrary). 

By controlling the thoughts the Sadhaka (Yoga Practicer) attains great Siddhis. He becomes Yoga adept (Sadhu, Muni, Yogi). He attains Asamprajnata Samadhi or Kaivalya. Do not run after Siddhis. Siddhis are great usefullpowers and temptations too. They will bring about your downfall when misused. A Raja Yogi practices Samyama or the combined practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi at one and the same time. Control the mind by Abhyasa (practice) and Vairagya (dispassion). Any practice that steadies the mind and makes it one-pointed is Abhyasa. Dull Vairagya will not help you in attaining perfection in Yoga. You must have Para Vairagya or Theevra Vairagya, intense dispassion.” — Swami Sivananda from Amrita Gita 


Meditation on OM (AUM) with Bhava removes obstacles in Sadhana and helps to attain Samadhi. Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga-Dvesha (likes and dislikes), Abhinivesha (clinging to mundane life) are the five Kleshas or afflictions. Destroy these afflictions. You will attain Samadhi.

Samadhi is of two kinds:- Savikalpa, Samprajnata or Sabija; and- Nirvikalpa, Asamprajnata or Nirbija.

In Savikalpa or Sabija, there is Triputi or the triad (knower, known and knowledge). Savitarka, Nirvitarka, Savichara, Nirvichara, Sasmita and Saananda are the different forms of Savikalpa Samadhi. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Nirbija Samadhi or Asamprajnata Samadhi there is no triad. In the last sutra (4,34), Patañjali says the soul reaches its end in liberation, enlightenment, kaivalya. 


Pranava dhyana is a name given to the classical method of meditation outlined in the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It is also called Om-Kara or Om-Dhyana meditation. It is, simply put, fixing the mind on the sound of the mantra “Aum” – the sacred syllable that both symbolizes and embodies Brahman, the Absolute Reality – as the mantra is constantly repeated in unison with the breath. The purpose of pranava is to become free from suffering and limitation. The purpose is well stated in the Upanishads: “What world does he who meditates on Aum until the end of his life, win by That? If he meditates on the Supreme Being with the syllable Aum, he becomes one with the Light, he is led to the world of Brahman [the Absolute Being] Who is higher than the highest life, That Which is tranquil, unaging, immortal, fearless, and supreme.” – Prashna Upanishad 5:1,5,7. 

Aum, according to Hindu philosophy, is the primordial sound from which the whole universe was created. Aum, also called the Pranava, is the original Word of Power, and is recited as a mantra. A mantra is a series of verbal sounds having inherent sound-power that can produce a particular physical or psychological effect, not just something that has an assigned intellectual meaning. The word mantra derives from the Sanskrit expression ‘mananaath thraayathe’ which loosely means “a transforming thought”; literally, “that which, when thought, carries one across [the worldly ocean of sorrow]”. The power of a mantra lies in its ability to produce an objective, perceptible change in the yogi who repeats it correctly.

In the yoga tradition, Aum is the most sacred of holy words, the supreme mantra. Aum is also called the Pranava, a Sanskrit word which means both controller of life force (prana) and life-giver (infuser of prana). 

“That which causes all the pranas to prostrate themselves before and get merged in the Paramatman, so as to attain identity with Him, is for that reason known as the Pranava.” – Atharvashikha Upanishad 1:10a. 

Aum is called the Shabda (Śabda) Brahman – God as Sound/Vibration. According to yoga theory, the universe has emanated from this primal movement in God. By following the thread of Aum back in meditation to more and more subtle levels of awareness, the yogi regains union with Brahman. 

The Upanishads (both the major and minor) are full of references to Aum and meditation on Aum. Below is a small sampling:

„He who utters Om with the intention ‘I shall attain Brahman’ does verily attain Brahman.” – Taittiriya Upanishad 1.8.1″The Self is of the nature of the Syllable Om…Meditate on Om as the Self” – Mandukya Upanishad 1.8.12, 2.2.3)

„The form of meditation that came to manifest as the foremost of all, for the regeneration of all seekers, was the First Word, indicative of Brahman [God]: the Syllable Om. Meditation on Om should be resorted to by seekers after liberation. This Syllable is the Supreme Brahman.” – Atharvashikha Upanishad 1:1,2

„God is the Syllable Om, out of Him proceeds the Supreme Knowledge.” – Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:17

„Om is Brahman, the Primeval Being. This is the Veda which the knowers of Brahman know; through it one knows what is to be known.” – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.1.1

„One should meditate on this Syllable [Om].” – Chandogya Upanishad 1.1.1

„The Syllable Om is the bow: one’s self, indeed, is the arrow. Brahman is spoken of as the target of that. It is to be hit without making a mistake. Thus one becomes united with it [Brahman] as the arrow becomes one with the target.” – Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.4. 

Speaking from the perspective of the Infinite Being, enumerating his major manifestation-embodiments, Krishna says: „I am the syllable Om.”(Gita 7:8) He also says the same thing in 9:17 („I am…the sacred monosyllable”) and 10:25 („Among words I am the monosyllable Om”). What to „do” with aum is then outlined by Krishna: „Engaged in the practice of concentration… uttering the monosyllable Om–the Brahman–remembering Me always, he…attains to the supreme goal. I am easily attainable by that ever-steadfast Yogi who constantly and daily remembers Me.”– Bhagavad Gita 6:13; 8:12-14.  

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the most ancient and authoritative text on Yoga, outlines the purpose and process of yoga as follows:

„Ishwara (Iśvara, God Master, Api Guru) is a particular Purusha (Spirit, Person) Who is untouched by the afflictions of life, actions, and the results and impressions produced by these actions. In Him is the highest limit of omniscience. 36 Being unconditioned by time He is teacher even of the ancients. His designator [vacaka] is the Pranava [Om]. 37 Its japa [constant repetition] and bhavanam is the way [or: should be done]. From it result [come] the disappearance of obstacles and the turning inward of consciousness. Disease, languor, doubt, carelessness, laziness, worldly-mindedness, delusion, non-achievement of a stage, instability, these cause the distraction of the mind and they are the obstacles. [Mental] pain, despair, nervousness, and agitation are the symptoms of a distracted condition of mind. For removing these obstacles [there should be] the constant practice of the one principle [the japa and bhavanam of Om].” – Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:24-32. 

“The purport of prescribing meditation on the Pranava is this. The Pranava is Omkara… the advaita-mantra which is the essence of all mantras…. In order to get at this true significance, one should meditate on the Pranava. …The fruition of this process is samadhi which yields release [moksha], which is the state of unsurpassable bliss. – Ramana Maharishi 

“‘What will you gain’, some sages ask, ‘by merely hearing this sound?’ You hear the roar of the ocean from a distance. By following the roar you can reach the ocean. As long as there is the roar, there must also be the ocean. By following the trail of Om you attain Brahman, of which the Word is the symbol. That Brahman has been described by the Vedas as the ultimate goal.” – Śri Ramakrishna 

“OM is the mantra, the expressive sound-symbol of the Brahman Consciousness in its four domains from the Turiya to the external or material plane. The function of a mantra is to create vibrations in the inner consciousness that will prepare it for the realisation of what the mantra symbolises and is supposed indeed to carry within itself. The mantra OM should therefore lead towards the opening of the consciousness to the sight and feeling of the One Consciousness in all material things, in the inner being and in the supraphysical worlds, in the causal plane above now superconscient to us and, finally, the supreme liberated transcendence above all cosmic existence. The last is usually the main preoccupation with those who use the mantra.” Letters on Yoga, Vol. II, p. 745-46. – Śri Aurobindo 

“Constant japa of the Pranava, Omkar, Which is self-revealing, and constant focus on It as the form of Ishvara, and dedicating all actions to It as if you are not the doer yourself; is Kriya Yoga.” – Lahiri Mahasaya 

“Om is the highest Name of God, and comprises many other Names of God. It should be borne in mind that Om is the Name of God exclusively–and of no other object material or spiritual–while the others are but descriptive titles and not exactly proper names. – Swami Dayananda Saraswati 

„Without Om there is no Yoga practice.” – Rishi Vaśishta 

Dhyana in Hinduism and Yoga 

According to the Hindu Yoga Sutra, written by Patanjali, dhyana (meditation) is one of the eight limbs of Yoga, (the other seven being Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, and Samādhi). According to Patanjali, the founder of yoga philosophy, the final stage of meditation in dhyāna is considered to be jhāna. At this stage of meditation, one does not see it as a meditational practice, but instead merges with the idea and thought. One cannot reach a higher stage of consciousness without jhāna. 

The entire Four Limbs (Padas) of the Patanjali system are also sometimes referred to as Dhyana, or the meditative path, although strictly speaking, only the last three limbs constitute meditation Dhyana, Dharana, and Samādhi. The preceding steps are only to prepare the body and mind for meditation. 

In the Ashtanga („eight limbs”) of Yoga practices, the stage of meditation preceding dhyāna is called dharana (focusing). In Dhyana, the meditator is not conscious of the act of meditation (i.e. is not aware that s/he is meditating) but is only aware that s/he exists (consciousness of being), and aware of the object of meditation. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation. He/she is then able to maintain this oneness for 144 inhalations and expiration.Dhyana, practiced together with Dharana and Samādhi constitutes the Samyama. 

The Dhyana Yoga system is specifically described by Sri Krishna in chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita, wherein He explains the many different Yoga systems to His friend and disciple, Arjuna. In fact, Lord Shree Shankara described 108 different ways to do Dhyana to Mata Parvati. In Hinduism, dhyāna is considered to be an instrument to gain self knowledge, separating māyā from reality to help attain the ultimate goal of mokṣa. Depictions of Hindu yogis performing dhyāna are found in ancient texts and in statues and frescoes of ancient Indian temples. The Bhagavad Gītā, thought to have been written some time between 400 and 100 BC, talks of four branches of yoga:

Karma Yoga: The yoga of action in the world; 

Bhakti Yoga: The yoga of devotion to God; 

Jnāna Yoga: The yoga of Wisdom and intellectual endeavor; 

Dhyāna Yoga: The yoga of meditation sometimes as fourth level of Raja Yoga. 

Dhyāna in Rāja Yoga is also found in Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras. Practiced together with dhāraṇā and samādhi it constitutes the saṃyama. For example, in the Jangama Dhyāna technique, the meditator concentrates the mind and sight between the eyebrows. According to Patañjali, this is one method of achieving the initial concentration (dhāraṇā: Yoga Sutras, III:1) necessary for the mind to become introverted in meditation (dhyāna: Yoga Sutras, III:2). In deeper practice of the technique, the mind concentrated between the eyebrows begins to automatically lose all location and focus on the watching itself. Eventually, the meditator experiences only the consciousness of existence and achieves self realization. Swami 

Swami Vivekananda describes the process in the following way: When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point. This state is called dhyana. When one has so intensified the power of dhyana as to be able to reject the external part of perception and remain meditating only on the internal part, the meaning, that state is called Samadhi. 


Samādhi in Pali/ Sanskrit: समाधि is mental concentration or composing the mind. It is one of three divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path. The term samādhi is common to the Sanskrit and Pali languages. Upon development of samādhi, one’s mind becomes purified of defilements, calm, tranquil, and luminous. Once the meditator achieves a strong and powerful concentration, his mind is ready to penetrate and see into the ultimate nature of reality, eventually obtaining release from all suffering. 

Samādhi – in Sanskrit: समाधि – in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb or practie group identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali Mahārishi. It has been described as a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object, and in which the mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated while the person remains conscious. In Buddhism, it can also refer to an abiding in which mind becomes very still but does not merge with the object of attention, and is thus able to observe and gain insight into the changing flow of experience. In Hinduism, samādhi can also refer to videha mukti or the complete absorption of the individual consciousness in the self at the time of death – usually referred to as mahasamādhi. 

Samadhi – समाधि samādhi, Hindi pronunciation: [səˈmaːd̪ʱi] – is the state of consciousness induced by complete meditation. The term’s etymology involves „sam” (together or integrated), „ā” (towards), and „dhā” (to get, to hold). Thus the result might be seen to be „to acquire integration or wholeness, or truth” (samāpatti). Another possible etymological analysis of „samādhi” is „samā” (even) and „dhi” (intellect), a state of total equilibrium („samā”) of a detached intellect („dhi”). Rhys Davis holds that the first attested usage of the term samādhi in Sanskrit literature was in the Maitri Upanishad. 

Samādhi is the main subject of the first part of the Yoga Sūtras called Samādhi-pada. Vyāsa, a major figure in Hinduism and one of the traditional authors of the Mahābharata, says in his commentary on verse 1.1 of the Yoga Sūtras that „yoga is samādhi.” This is generally interpreted to mean that samādhi is a state of complete control (samadhana) over the functions and distractions of consciousness. Samādhi is described in different ways within Hinduism such as the state of being aware of one’s existence without thinking, in a state of undifferentiated “beingness” or as an altered state of consciousness that is characterized by bliss (ānanda) and joy (sukha). 

Nisargadatta Maharaj describes the state in the following manner: When you say you sit for meditation, the first thing to be done is understand that it is not this body identification that is sitting for meditation, but this knowledge ‘I am’ (Aham Asmi), this consciousness, which is sitting in meditation and is meditating on itself. When this is finally understood, then it becomes easy. When this consciousness, this conscious presence, merges in itself, the state of ‘Samadhi’ ensues. It is the conceptual feeling that I exist that disappears and merges into the beingness itself. So this conscious presence also gets merged into that knowledge, that beingness – that is ‘Samadhi’.

The initial experience of it is enlightenment and it is the beginning of the process of meditating to attain self-realization (tapas). „There is a difference between the enlightenment of samādhi and self-realization. When a person achieves enlightenment, that person starts doing tapas to realize the self.” 

According to Patañjali samādhi has three different categories:
– Savikalpa – This is an interface of trans meditation and higher awareness state, asamprajñata. The state is so named because mind retains its consciousness, which is why in savikalpa samādhi one can experience guessing (vitarka), thought (vicāra), bliss (ānanda) and self-awareness (asmita). 

In Sanskrit, „kalpa” means „imagination”. Vikalpa – an etymological derivation of which could be 'विशेषः कल्पः विकल्पः।’ – connotes imagination. Patañjali in the Yoga Sūtras defines „vikalpa” saying: 'शब्द-ज्ञानानुपाति वस्तु-शून्यो-विकल्पः।’. „Sa” is a prefix which means „with”. So „savikalpa” means „with vikalpa” or „with imagination”. Ramana Maharshi defines „savikalpa samādhi” as, „holding on to reality with effort”. 

– Asamprajñata is a step forward from savikalpa. According to Patañjali, asamprajñata is a higher awareness state with absence of gross awareness. 

Nirvikalpa or sanjeevan – This is the highest transcendent state of consciousness. In this state there is no longer mind, duality, a subject-object relationship or experience. Upon entering nirvikalpa samādhi, the differences we saw before have faded and we can see everything as one. In this condition nothing but pure awareness remains and nothing detracts from wholeness and perfection.

Entering samādhi initially takes great willpower and maintaining it takes even more will. The beginning stages of samādhi (laya and savikalpa samādhi) are only temporary. By „effort” it is not meant that the mind has to work more. Instead, it means work to control the mind and release the self. Note that normal levels of meditation (mostly the lower levels) can be held automatically, as in „being in the state of meditation” rather than overtly „meditating.” The ability to obtain positive results from meditation is much more difficult than simply meditating. It is recommended to find a qualified spiritual master (guru or yogi) who can teach a meditator about the workings of the mind. As one self-realized yogi explained, „You can meditate but after some time you will get stuck at some point. That is the time you need a guru. Otherwise, without a Guru, chances are very slim.” 

Samādhi is the only stable unchanging reality; all else is ever-changing and does not bring everlasting peace or happiness. Staying in nirvikalpa samādhi is effortless but even from this condition one must eventually return to ego-consciousness. Otherwise this highest level of samādhi leads to nirvāṇa, which means total unity, the logical end of individual identity and also death of the body. However, it is entirely possible to stay in nirvikalpa samādhi and yet be fully functional in this world. This condition is known as sahājā nirvikalpa samādhi or sahājā samādhi. According to Ramana Maharshi, „Remaining in the primal, pure natural state without effort is sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi”. 


Samyama (from Sanskrit संयम saṃ-yama—holding together, tying up, binding). Combined simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā (concentration), Dhyāna (meditation) & Samādhi (union). A tool to receive deeper knowledge of qualities of the object. It is a term summarizing the „catch-all” process of psychological absorption in the object of meditation. Samyama, as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras states, engenders prajñā. Adi Yoga or Mahasandhi discusses the 'mūla prajñā’ of „listening/studying, investigation/ contemplation, realization/meditation” which are a transposition of the triune of Samyama. These are activated subconsciously in non-structured form (thus producing fragmented spontaneous Samyama-like effects) by any thinking activity or contemplative absorption (particularly the Catuskoti and Koan) and deep levels of trance. Any kind of intuitive thinking at its various stages of expression is strongly related to Samyama-like phenomena as well. 

Samyama is practiced consistently by Yogin of certain schools (Raja Yoga, Adi Yoga e.g.). Described in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, it comprises the three upper limbs of Raja Yoga. Following Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a yogin who is victorious in samyama vanquishes all 'cognitive obscurations’ (Sanskrit: klesha). The Sutras describe various 'powers’ or 'perfections’ (Sanskrit: siddhi) a yogin may attain through the conduit of Samyama. The TM-Sidhi Program is one example of a course aiming to teach the use of Samyama to think the Yoga Sutras at the finest level of consciousness.  

Yogasutras about Samyama 

Samyama is defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali verses 3.1 through 3.6 as follows where the Sanskrit in Devanagari and IAST were sourced from Little and the English from Iyengar (1993: pp. 178–183):

देशबन्धश्चित्तस्य धारणा ॥ १॥deśabandhaścittasya dhāraṇā .. 1..

Fixing the consciousness on one point or region is concentration (dhāraṇā).

तत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यानम् ॥ २॥tatra pratyayaikatānatā dhyānam .. 2..

A steady, continuous flow of attention directed towards the same point or region is meditation (dhyāna).

तद् एवार्थमात्रनिर्भासं स्वरूपशून्यम् इव समाधिः ॥ ३॥tad evārthamātranirbhāsaṃ svarūpaśūnyam iva samādhiḥ .. 3..

When the object of meditation engulfs the meditator, appearing as the subject, self-awareness is lost. This is samādhi.

त्रयम् एकत्र संयमः ॥ ४॥trayam ekatra saṃyamaḥ .. 4..

These three together [dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi] constitute integration or saṃyama.

तज्जयात् प्रज्ञालोकः ॥ ५॥tajjayāt prajñālokaḥ .. 5..

From mastery of saṃyama comes the light of awareness and insight.

तस्य भूमिषु विनियोगः ॥ ६॥tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ .. 6..

Saṃyama may be applied in various spheres to derive its usefulness. 


Rishi – in Sanskrit: ṛṣi, Devanagari: ऋषि denotes the composers of Vedic hymns. However, according to post-Vedic tradition, the rishi is a „seer” to whom the Vedas were „originally revealed” through states of higher consciousness. The rishis were prominent when Vedic Hinduism took shape, as far back as some three thousand years ago. Many ancient rishis were male as well as female. Rishi is often used for both, but also mostly for male rishis and rishika for female in Sanskrit.  According to the late Vedic Sarvanukramani text, there were as many as 20 women among the authors of the Rig Veda, known as rishika. According to modern teachers Deepak Chopra and Swamini Mayatitananda, this number could be as high as 35. One of the foundational qualities of a ṛṣi is satyavāc (one who speaks truth) when composing Vedic hymns. According to tradition, other sages might falter, but a ṛṣi was believed to speak only truth, because he or she existed in the Higher World (the unified field of consciousness). Ṛṣis provided knowledge to the world which included the knowledge of Vedas. 

According to Indian tradition, the word was derived from the two meanings of the root rsh. Sanskrit grammarians derive this word from the second root which means 

(1) „to go, to move” (- Dhātupāṭha of Pānini, xxviii). V. S. Apte gives this particular meaning and derivation, and Monier-Williams also gives the same, with some qualification.
Another form of this root means 

(2) „to flow, to move near by flowing”. (All the meanings and derivations cited above are based upon Sanskrit English Dictionary of Monier-Williams).  

Monier-Williams also quotes Tārānātha who compiled the great (Sanskrit-to-Sanskrit) dictionary named „ṛṣati jñānena saṃsāra-pāram” (i.e., „one who reaches beyond this mundane world by means of spiritual knowledge”). More than a century ago, Monier-Williams tentatively suggested a derivation from drś „to see”. Monier-Wiliams also quotes the Hibernian (Irish) form arsan (a sage, a man old in wisdom) and arrach (old, ancient, aged) as related to rishi. In Sanskrit, forms of the root rish become arsh- in many words, (e.g., arsh. Monier-Williams also conjectures that the root drish (to see) might have given rise to an obsolete root rish meaning „to see”. However, the root has a close Avestan cognate ərəšiš „an ecstatic” (see also Yurodivy, Vates). Yet, the Indo-European dictionary of Julius Pokorny connects the word to a PIE root *h3er-s meaning „rise, protrude”, in the sense of „excellent, egregious”. Modern etymological explanations such as by Manfred Mayrhofer in his Etymological Dictionary leave the case open, and do not prefer a connection to ṛṣ „pour, flow” (PIE *h1ers), rather one with German rasen „to be ecstatic, be in a different state of mind” (and perhaps Lithuanian aršus). 
In the Vedas, the word denotes an inspired poet of Ṛgvedic hymns, who alone or with others invokes the deities with poetry. In particular, Ṛṣi refers to the authors of the hymns of the Rigveda. Post-Vedic tradition regards the Rishis as „sages” or saints, constituting a peculiar class of divine human beings in the early mythical system, as distinct from Asuras, Devas and mortal men. The main rishis recorded in the Brahmanas and the Rigveda-Anukramanis include: 

– Gritsamada, 


– Vamadeva, 


– Bharadvaja, 



– Kaṇva. 

Seven Rishis (the Saptarshi) are often mentioned in the Brahmanas and later works as typical representatives of the pre-historic or mythical period; in Shatapatha Brahmana (Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad), their names are:  

– Uddālaka Āruni (also called Gautama), 

– Bharadvaja, 


– Jamadagni, 


Kashyapa (Kaśyapa)


Daksha, Bhrigu and Nārada were also added to the saptarshis riṣis in Āshvalāyana-Shrauta-Sutra, where these ten principals were created by the first Manu (Svāyambhuva Manu) for producing everyone else. 

The notable female rishikas who contributed to the composition of the Vedic scriptures are: The Rig Veda mentions Romasha (Romaśa), Lopamudra, Apala, Kadru, Visvavara, Ghosha, Juhu, Vagambhrini, Paulomi, Yami, Indrani, Savitri, and Devajami. The Sama Veda adds Nodha, Akrishtabhasha, Sikatanivavari and Gaupayana. 

In Mahabharata 12, on the other hand, there is the post-Vedic list of:  

– Marici, 



– Pulaha, 

– Kratu, 

– Pulastya, 


The Mahābhārata list explicitly refers to the saptarshis of the first manvantara and not to those of the present manvantara. Each manvantara had a unique set of saptarshi. In Harivamsha 417ff, the names of the Rishis of each manvantara are enumerated. 

In addition to the Saptarṣi, there are other classifications of sages. In descending order of precedence, they are: 





– Paramrṣi, 

– Shrutarṣi, 

– Kāndarṣi

are added in Manusmriti iv-94 and xi-236 and in two dramas of Kālidasa. 

The Chaturvarga-Chintāmani of Hemādri puts 'riṣi’ at the seventh place in the eightfold division of Brāhmanas. Amarakosha (the famous Sanskrit synonym lexicon compiled by Amarasimha) mentions seven types of riṣis:  

– Shrutarshi (Śrutarishi), 

– Kāndarshi, 

– Paramarshi, 




– Devarshi. 

Amarakosha strictly distinguishes Rishi from other types of sages, such as sanyāsi, bhikṣu, parivrājaka, tapasvi, muni, brahmachāri, yati, etc.

In Hindu astronomy, the Saptarṣi (seven rishis) form the constellation of Ursa Major, which are distinct from Dhruva (Polaris). Rishis are also a males name and Ursa Major stars with Rishi names are as meditation subject in Raja Yoga. 


Maharishi (noun, mah-huh-ree-shee) is the anglicized version of the Sanskrit word Mahāṛṣi महर्षि (mahā meaning „great” and ṛṣi meaning „seer”). Maharishi is often used as an addition to a person’s name as an honorary title. The term was first seen in modern English literature in the 18th century. Maharishi may refer to a Hindu guru or „spiritual teacher” of „mystical knowledge”. Additional meanings cited by dictionaries include: sage, poet, spiritual leader, wise man and holy man. 

Alternate meanings describe Maharishi as a collective name that refers to the seven rishis or saptarishis (including Maharishi Bhrigu) cited in the scriptures of Rig Veda and the Puranas, or any of the several mythological seers that are referenced in Vedic writings and associated with the seven stars of the constellation Ursa Major. 

Maharishi may refer to any individual who has added the title to their name. According to Brewers Dictionary, outside of India, the most well known Maharishi was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who founded Transcendental Meditation and made it available to the West. Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) was an „Indian sage” with a philosophy about the path to self-knowledge and the integration of personality espoused in books by author Paul Brunton and Ramana’s own writings such as the Collected Works (1969) and Forty Verses on Reality (1978). The title was also used by Maharishi Valmiki, Maharishi Patanjali and Maharishi Dayananda Sarasvati. The term Maharishi became popular in modern English literature „sometime before 1890” and was first used in 1758. 


Rajarshi or Rājarishi – from Sanskrit rajan „king” + rishi – is, in Vedic and Hindu mythology, a royal saint and rishi. A Rajarshi is a king who turned into a royal sage, or Rajarshi. A rajarshi will not have to leave the kingship to became rishi as in the example of Vishwamitra (who later advanced to becoming a Brahmarishi) but still while ruling the kingdom has reached a state of rishi and have attained self realization. They still perform the kshatriya responsibility, and remain similar to most rishis, maharishis and brahmarishis in their level of spiritual knowledge. „Rajarshi” is the name of the novel by Rabindranath Tagore, based on the life of a king of the state of Tripura, named Govindamanikya. Purushottam Das Tandon, freedom fighter from India was addressed reverentially as „Rajarshi.” The Abdicated Highness of princely state of Cochin, Sir Sri Rama Varma also known as Father of Modren Cochin, is often called Rajarshi Rama Varma. Chatrapati Shahu, ruler of princely state of Kolhapur, well known for his social reforms in modern India is remembered as Rajarshi. Rajarshi Udai Pratap (Bhinga Raj). Mr. James Jesse Lynn, disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda was also referred to by the title of the Rajarshi, as Rajarsi Janakananda. 


In Sanatana Dharma, a Brahmarshi – Sanskrit brahmarṣi, a tatpurusha compound of brahma and ṛṣi – is a member of the highest class of Rishis („seers” or „sages”), especially those credited with the composition of the hymns collected in the Rigveda. A Brahmarshi is a sage who has understood the meaning of Brahman or has attained the highest divine knowledge Brahmajnana. The superlative title of Brahmarishi is not attested in the Vedas themselves and first appears in the Sanskrit epics. According to this division, a Brahmarishi is the ultimate expert of religion and spiritual knowledge known as 'Brahmajnana’. Below him are the Maharishis (Great Rishis). 

The Saptarishis created out of Brahma’s thoughts are perfect Brahmarishis. They are often cited to be at par with the Devas in power and piety in the Puranas.Bhrigu, Angiras, Atri, Vishwamitra, Kashyapa (Kaśyapa), Vasishta, and Shandilya (Śandilya) are the seven brahmarishis. But there is another list of Saptarishi also who are also Gotra-pravartakas, i.e.,founders of Brahamanical clans, and this second list appeared somewhat later, but belongs to ancient period. All the hymns of third mandala of the Rig Veda is ascribed to Vishwamitra (Viśvamitra) who is mentioned as son of Gathi, including the Gayatri mantra. According to Puranic stories, Vishwamitra was the only brahmarishi who rose to the position out of pure tapas. Originally belonging to the kshatriya caste of kings and warriors, he rose by pure merit to a Brahmarishi. Vishwamitra is also referred to as Kaushika, because he attained Brahmajnana on the banks of the river Koshi (Kośi). 

The creative principle of the universe is called Brahma in Sanskrit. Since the term „Brahma” does not appear in the Vedas, its creation stems from the Sanskrit work „Brih” which means „’to grow” or „to expand.” In this way, it became synonymous with Hiranyagharba: The Golden Egg of Creation. Growing from the Navel Lotus of Narayana, Brahma is the name for the principle which creates all of the manifest realms. Since the Vedas proclaim in the Purusha Suktam that „three quarters of this universe are in indestructible realms above,” then clearly Brahma, with his finite duration, is connected to the realms of the universe which we inhabit which are subject to creation and dissolution.

Brahma was endowed with his „spouse” (Saraswati) and consciousness at the time of creation. Brahma made certain „beings” solely by the power of his mind and thought. These beings are called the mind-born sons of Brahma. The state of their consciousness is summarized by the title Brahma Rishi: Seer with the Understanding of Brahma. Brahma Rishis, in turn, can confer this state of consciousness upon others who prove themselves capable and worthy. To further understand the concept of Brahma and his relation to the universe as we know it, it is helpful to view the cosmos through the lens of the Vedic descriptions of the life of the universe as interpreted in human years. 

Another item of importance is that one who has achieved the highest level of conscious realization is said to realize and become one with Brahman. At this point, all individuality as we know it disappears. The individual Jiva, Soul or Atman retums to its source from which it will not return of its own volition. 

Brahmarishi Bhrigu  

Maharishi Bhrigu – Sanskrit: महर्षि भृगु – was one of the seven great sages, the Saptarshis, in ancient India, one of the many Prajapatis (the facilitators of Creation) created by Brahma (The God of Creation), the first compiler of predictive astrology, and also the author of Bhrigu Samhita, the astrological (Jyotish) classic written during the Vedic period, Treta yuga. Bhrigu is a ManasaPutra (mind-born-son) of Lord Brahma, who simply wished him into existence, to assist in the process of creation, for this reason he is also considered one of the Prajapatis or types for human beings. He was married to Khyati, the daughter of Daksha. He had two sons by her, named Dhata and Vidhata. His daughter Sri or Shri, married Lord Vishnu (Narayana). He has one more son, who is better known than Bhrigu himself – Shukra, learned sage and guru of the asuras. The sage Chyavana is also said to be his son. [Maha:1.5] 

Sage Bhrigu finds mention in Shiva Purana and Vayu Purana, where he is shown present during the great Yagna of Daksha Prajapati (his father-in-law). He supports the continuation of the Yagna of Daksha even after being warned that without an offering for Lord Shiva, it was asking for a catastrophe for everyone present there. In the Bhagavad Gītā, Lord Krishna refers to Sage Bhrigu, by stating „among the Rishis, I am Bhrigu”. Maharishi Bhrigu, is known to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu the mention of which has been evident in many of his writings. 

Maharishi Bhrigu is credited as the father of Hindu astrology and the first astrological treatise Bhrigu Samhita is attributed to his authorship. This treatise is said to contain over 5 million horoscopes, in which he wrote down the fate of every being in the universe. According to popular tradition, only about a hundredth of these horoscopes have survived to this age. The Bhrigu Samhita is an astrological (jyotish) classic attributed to Maharishi Bhrigu during the Vedic period, although the available evidence suggests that it was compiled over a period of time by the various sishyas (students in the lineage) of Maharishi Bhrigu.

Maharishi Bhrigu was the first compiler of predictive astrology, Jyotisha. He compiled about 500,000 horoscopes and recorded the life details and events of various persons. This formed a database for further research and study. This study culminated in the birth of the science (shastra) of determining the quality of time (Hora) and is the Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra. These Horoscopes were based upon the planetary positions of the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu (North Node of the Moon) and Ketu (South Node of the Moon). After that, Maharishi Bhrigu gave his predictions on different types of horoscopes compiled by him with the help of Lord Ganesha in a brief and concise manner. The total permutations/ possible horoscope charts that can be drawn with this is about 45 million. Though it is said that these horoscope have been recorded for all mankind who were, have and will be born till eternity.

During foreign invasions of India by Muslim warriors from the north west in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Brahmin community became dispersed all over India. The invaders captured these prime assets of the Brahmins. Some parts of the 'Bhrigu Samhita’ were taken away by them. The most unfortunate and destructive event was the destruction of the Nalanda University library where several thousands of the horoscopes compiled by Maharashi Bhrigu had been stored. Only a small percentage of the original horoscopes of Bhrigu Samhita remained with the Brahmin community which are now scattered throughout various parts of India. 

Brahmarishi Angiras  

Angiras (अंगिरस्, pronounced as /əngirəs/; nominative singular Angirā, अंगिरा, pronounced as /əngirα:/) is a rishi (or sage) who, along with sage Atharvan, is credited to have formulated („heard”) most of the fourth Veda called Atharvaveda. He is also mentioned in the other three Vedas. Sometimes he is reckoned as one of the Seven Great Sages, or saptarishis of the first Manvantara, with others being, Marichi, Atri, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya, and Vashishtha Bharadwaja maharshis was his descendant. His wife is Surūpa and his sons are Utatya, Samvartana and Brihaspati. He is one of the ten Manasaputras (wish-born-son) of Lord Brahma. 

Other accounts say that he married Smriti (memory), the daughter of Daksha. The name Angirasas is applied generically to several Puranic individuals and things; a class of Pitris, the ancestors of man according to Hindu Vedic writings, and probably descended from the sage Angiras. In the Rigveda, Agni is sometimes referred to as Angiras or as a descendant of Angiras (RV 1.1). In the Rigveda, Indra drives out cows from where they had been imprisoned by either a demon (Vala) or multiple demons (the Panis) and gifts them to the Angirasas (RV 3.31, 10.108 and a reference in 8.14). Mandala 6 of the Rigveda is attributed to a family of Angirasas. 

In order to assist him in the process of Creation, Brahma the Creator, created his first sons: the “Manasa putras”, and “Prajapatis”. After some time, by his will (ichha), he again gave birth to another son from his “Budhhi” (higher intellect) (and thus called a Manasa putra – child borne out of divine intellect). He is Angirasa. Brahma granted him great divine glow (Tejas – not a physical glow but an inner spiritual capacity that emanates wisdom, power, and divinity) enough to fill the three universes. 

Thus spoke Brahma to him “O Angirasa, you are my third “manasa putra” (the one born out of divine intellect). My creation is multiplying with several universes, worlds, and species. Humans and other species are growing in numbers and generations. And welfare of this creation is your purpose. Your mission is to come to me whenever I remember or recall you and fulfill my word from time to time. Whatever I design as your duty for the welfare the creation, you must do. You must now go on a very long and unbroken penance and bequeath its fruit to the welfare of all beings in the creation. You must remain so till I order you again, to take up family life (Grihasta Ashrama)”. Angirasa then replied, “You are the reason for my birth and of all this creation. And therefore, you are my almighty Lord. You create us with infinite and unconditional love. You are all knowing. You are omnipotent. You created me with a purpose in mind. Though you do not need anybody’s assistance, you are asking me to do this penance. I shall consider it as your grace and opportunity to serve you. I will obey your every word”, and went on to perform intense penance.

Angirasa turned his senses inwards and meditated on Para-Brahman, the creator of the creator, for several years. The great Tejas he got by birth had multiplied infinitely by his penance. He attained many divine qualities, powers, and riches, and control over many worlds. But he was oblivious of all the worldly attainments and did not stop his penance. Due to this penance he became one with the Para-Brahman and thus attained the state of “Brahmarshi”. He had apparitions of many Vedic Mantras and brought them to this earthly world. He is credited as being the source of great number of Vedic Hymns and mantras. The whole creation was blessed by the wisdom from his word.

Over the course of time, upon Lord Brahma’s grace and will, there came the moment for Angirasa’s marriage. Besides Angirasa, there were eight other “Brahmarshi”s –namely, Marichi, Atri, Pulaha, Pulastya, Kratu, Bhrigu, Vashishta and Adharva . They were called the “Nava Brahmas” – the nine Brahmas. Kardama Prajapati, together with his wife Devahooti, performed great penance over the banks of River Saraswati and by the grace of Lord Vishnu begot nine daughters – Kala, Anasuya, Sradha, Harbhivu, Gati, Kriya, Khyati, Arundhati, Shanti – and a son called Kapilacharya. He wished to give his daughters to worthy sages. He then went to the Nava Brahmas and prayed them to accept his daughters as spouses. He gave Kala to Marichi, Anasuya to Atri, Shradha to Angirasa, Havribhuvu to Pulaha, Gati to Pulastya, Kriya to Kratu, Khyati to Bhrigu, Arundhati to Vashishta, and Shanti to Adharva and performed their marriages. They transcended all physical desires and conducted divine lives. They used the marriage life as vehicle for penance and devotion. Their five senses, limbs, and mind were all dedicated to the service and worship of God. They lived blissful lives. 

Upon Brahma’s desire Angirasa begot seven sons: Brihat Keerti (a.k.a Utadhya), Brihat Jyoti (a.k.a Samvarta), Brihat Brahma, Brihan Manas, Brihan Mantra, Brihat Bhanu, Brihaspati. He also had seven daughters: Bhanumati, Raka, Cinee Vali, Ekaneka, Archishamati, Mahishmati, Mahamati. It’s in the lore that Samvarta is still in his physical body and is living as a wandering naked monk in Varanasi and small forests around it in a state of total “Vairagya” and absolute union with “Para Brahman”. He is of intense nature and outlook and acts like a lunatic. He is known to shun the company of humans and would curse and throw stones at people who try to see him. But if anybody perseveres and gets his darshan, he would bless them with liberation. All of the sages in his lineage are known to have “Angirasa” or “Angir” as their last name. Sage “Ayaasa” was born in this lineage and attained great fame after he envisioned new Vedic Mantras. 

Brahmarishi Atri  

MahaRishi Atri (Sanskrit: अत्रि) or Attri is a legendary bard and scholar and was one of 9 Prajapatis, and a son of Brahma, said to be ancestor of some Brahmin, Prajapatis, kshatriya and Vaishya communities who adopt Atri as their gotra. Atri is the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, i.e. the present Manvantara. The King Rama visited Atri’s hermitage. As Atri talks to Shree Rama and his brother Lakshamana, Anusuya talks with his wife Sita. Atri is among the Sapta Rishi (seven luminous or eternal sages in the sky) symbolized by the great bear and the seven stars around it, named Megrez in Latin. The star is also considered as δ (Delta) or the 4th star in the Great Bear constellation. He is the seer of the fifth Mandala (Book 5) of the Rig Veda. Maharishi Atri had many sons and disciples who have also contributed in the compilation of the Rig Veda and other Yoga Vedic texts. 

Atri Gotra is from the lineage of Brahmarshi Atri and Anasuya Devi. Brahmarshi Atri is the seer of the fifth mandala (book) of the Rigveda. He had many sons, including Datta, Durvasa and Soma who are the incarnations of the Divine Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra respectively. The trimurti channeled through Brahmarsi Atri when they granted boons to his wife Devi Anusuya for helping the Sun to rise in the east everyday. Soma is called Chandratreya or Chandratre, and Durvasa is Krishnatreya or Krishnatre. Somatreya (Chandra) established the Someshwara Jyotirlinga, used to overcome all kinds of passion. Dattatreya, as the incarnation of Brahma, has the power to cause any species to continue. 

Atri Maharishi is one of the ten sons of Creator Brahma and first of the Sapta Rishis, created by just the will of the Almighty, Brahmana, and therefore designated as a Maanasa-putras. There were ten of these. Atri’s wife is Anasuya or Anusiya Devi, a daughter of Kardama Prajapati and an embodiment of chastity. 

Atri Maharishi is considered to be one of the great discoverers of sacred Mantras of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma. In his family line there were a few other seers of mantras namely: Shaavaashva, Avishtir, and Purvaatithi. There were also other great Rishis in that line: Mudgala, Uddaalaki, Shaakalaayani, Chaandogya, etc. Atri-samhita and Atri-smriti are two works attributed to Atri. Till the present day, a number of Brahmin families have this sage’s name at the head of their lineage, which indicates that he or his descendents tutored that whole lineage.

Atri had a close connection with Mahabharatha. Sage Atri help Drona to stop his meaningless killing and mad hero of demonic proportion in Kurukshetra. Rama, the son of Dasaratha, visited Atri Maharishi’s Ashram during his fourteen years of stay in the forest. It was Atri who showed the way to Dandakaranya forest to Rama, after showering his hospitality on him. 

Sons of Maharishi Atri: Durvasa, Dattatreya and Patañjali (also known as Somadatta and Chandraatreya). 

Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice, and also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a major commentary on Pāṇini’s Ashtadhyayi. In recent decades of the End of XX Century ond begining of XXI Century, the Yoga Sutra has become quite popular worldwide for the precepts regarding practice of Raja Yoga and its philosophical basis. „Yoga” in traditional Hinduism involves inner contemplation, a rigorous system of meditation practice, ethics, metaphysics, and devotion to God, or Brahman. At the same time, his Mahābhāṣya, which first foregrounded the notion of meaning as referring to categorization, remains an important treatise in Sanskrit linguistic philosophy. 

Dattatreya (Sanskrit: दत्तात्रेय) is considered by Hindus to be god who is an incarnation of the Divine Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. The word Datta means „Given”, Datta is called so because the divine trinity have „given” themselves in the form of a son to the sage couple Atri and Anasuya. He is the son of Atri, hence the name „Atreya.” In the Nath tradition, Dattatreya is recognized as an Avatar or incarnation of the Lord Shiva and as the Adi-Guru (First Teacher) of the Adinath Sampradaya of the Nathas. Although Dattatreya was at first a „Lord of Yoga” exhibiting distinctly Tantric traits, he was adapted and assimilated into the more devotional cults; while still worshiped by millions of Hindus, he is approached more as a benevolent god than as a teacher of the highest essence of Indian thought. 

Durvasa (दुर्वास) is an ancient sage, son of Atri and Anasuya. He is supposed to be an incarnation of Shiva. He is supposed to be the only rishi whose penance goes up whenever he curses somebody. 

Attri Clan: Atrey, Atri – in Hindi, Sanskrit: अत्री – is a Clan or Gotra of Rishi Atri. The people of this clan are predominantly Brahman, Jats and Rajputs. Attris live in all parts of India but mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. Atrey jatas have 60 villages in Aligarh District of Uttar Pradesh, including Ghanghauli, Zikarpur, Kheria, Jaidpura, Jattari, Hamidpur, Gharwara, Usrah, Nagar, Syaraul, Khandeha etc. Zikarpur is the village where land acquisition protest was started on 14 aug 2010. Ghanghauli and Syaraul are the best-known. Attri also known as Khaderiya. Khaderai and Nauhawar are brotherlike gotra’s. Nauhwar have 100 villages. 

Brahmarishi Vishvamitra (Viśvamitra) 

Brahmarshi Vishvamitra – in Sanskrit: विश्वामित्र viśvā-mitra „friend of the world” –  is one of the most venerated rishis or sages of ancient times in India. He is also credited as the author of most of Mandala 3 of the Rigveda, including the Gayatri Mantra. The Puranas mention that only 24 rishis since antiquity have understood the whole meaning of, and thus wielded the whole power of, the Gayatri Mantra. Vishvamitra is supposed to be the first and Yajnavalkya the last. The story of Vishvamitra is narrated in the Balakanda of Valmiki Ramayana. The Mahabharata adds that Vishvamitra’s relationship with Menaka resulted in a daughter, Shakuntala (Śakuntala) whose story is narrated in the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata. 

Vishvamitra (Viśvamitra) ruled the earth, and this great-resplendent king ruled the kingdom for many thousands of years. Vishvamitra was a king in ancient India, also called Kaushika „descendant of Kusha”. Trough the conflict with Maharishi Vasistha, he became an ascetic Sage. Vishvamitra renounced his kingdom and began his quest to become a greater rishi than Vasistha. Kaushika seeks to attain the same spiritual power as Maharishi Vasistha, to become his equal, a brahmarishi. He undertakes a fierce penance for one thousand years, after which Brahma names him a Rajarishi, or royal sage. After another long penance of thousand years, Brahma names Vishvamitra a Rishi, thus leaving his royal lineage permanently. And Brahma suggest him to take Bramharshi grade from his guru Vashishta only, as he only has the power to call you as Brahmarshi. After many trials and undergoing many austerities, Vishvamitra at last obtained the title of Brahmarishi from Vasistha himself. During this time Vishvamitra had a daughter named Shakuntala (who appears in the Mahabharata) with Menaka, an apsara in the court of Indra. Son of Shakuntala became a great emperor. He came to be known as Emperor Bharata, in whose name the land of India got its name Bharatha. 

Sage Vishvamitra was the one who found revered great Mantra – The Gayatri Mantra. It is a mantra found in the Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas. Gayatri is actually a „Chandas” or meter, too. In the Indian epic Ramayana, Vishvamitra is the preceptor of Rama, prince of Ayodhya and the seventh Avatar of Vishnu, and his brother Lakshmana. Vishvamitra gives them the knowledge of the Devastras or celestial weaponry (bala and adi bala), trains them in advanced religion and guides them to kill powerful demons like Tataka, Maricha and Subahu. He also leads them to the svayamvara ceremony for princess Sita, who becomes the wife of Rama.

There are two gotras, or lineages, bearing the name of Vishvamitra: Vishvamitra Gotra and Kaushika Gotra. People belonging to the Vishvamitra Gotra consider Brahmarishi Vishvamitra as their ancestor. People belonging to Kaushika (Kaushik /Kousika/ Kousikasa/ Koushika/ Kausika) Gotra take Rajarishi Kausika as their root. Kausika was one of the names of Vishvamitra who was supposed to have lived in Mithila (presently in Nepal’s Terai and India’s Bihar) where his sister river Koshi still flows turbulently as she is said to be unmarried.  

Ancient story of Menaka and Vishvamitra: Devaraja Indra was worried about the rigorous Tapasya of Rajarishi Vishwamitra. “What is his intention? Is he aiming at my throne? It can be so. Then his Tapaya has to be disrupted.” Indra decided. Indradev summoned Menaka. She was the most beautiful of the heavenly apsaras. Indra explained things to her.” His intention is to capture my throne. We have to stop him. Only your celestial beauty can move him. You are the one to do it.”

Menaka Devi was silent. Indra Deva tried to give her all assurance. “Viswamitra’s wrath is enough to destroy the universe. But your alluring smile can charm him. His rage may shake the world. But your enticing gestures can be seductive. ‘His anger can bring the world upside down. But your movements can captivate him. His furious words may cut you apart. The fire in his eyes may incinerate you. But a touch from you will seduce him.” The Apsara could do nothing but to obey Indradevaraja. “But I have a request, Lord” she said. “When I try to charm the Maharishi, ask the wind to spread a heavenly fragrance all over the forest. The gentle wind should become a violent storm. Ask him to blow off my clothes for a moment. At the same time ask Kamdeva to shower his flowery arrows on the Rishi’s heart.”

Menaka moved in confidence. Her dazzling splendour shining through her flimsy dress. She entered the thick forest where Vishwamitra was in Ugra Tapasya. When she saw the Rishi, she felt sad for a moment. She whispered, “Mercy, Mahamuni, I’m but just an instrument.” Soon she became conscious. She is endowed with an important task. Her charming body moved in rhythm. The fragrance & the sound of her anklets spread the seduction. The wind blew off her clothes. She collected her clothes & looked around. Felt the gaze of the Rishi Vishvamitra on her. He devoured her magnificent beauty. She stooped in shame. Kamaban was working on the Rishi. He invited Menaka into His Ashrama. He was under the spell of Kama. Viśwamitra Rajarishi spent the night with her and lost all his power attained through celibacy Tapasya. When he realized that, it was too late. He had already lost his Asceticism. This is an attempt of translation of an excerpt from Puranamanjari. 

Indra, the King of Devas, sent Menaka, a beautiful dancer of paradise who descended from the heavens. Menaka (Manika) was not only beautiful but wise and spiritually advanced. Vishwamitra did open his eyes when he beheld Menaka, but not to the end that Indra had hoped. The two beheld one another in love, were divinly married and continued their spiritual path in union. They bore a daughter and built together an empire for ten thousands years. Vishwamitra’s story is about strength and endurance and devotion. In India, Rajarishi Vishwamitra is well known as a king that ultimately became a great sage (Maharishi) through many years of penance and meditation. Vishwamitra is credited with authoring some of the oldest hymns in the Rig Veda. In particular, the ones to Agni and Indra. His most revered hymn is the Gayatri Mantra which is found in the the Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas. The Vedas clearly state that anyone can chant this mantra, and gain its many benefits. 

Brahmarishi Kashyapa (Kaśyapa) 

Kashyapa (Sanskrit कश्यप kaśyapa) was an ancient sage (rishis), who is one of the Saptarshis in the present Manvantara. Vamana avatara, Rishi Kashyap’s son with Aditi, was in the court of King Bali. He was the father of the Devas, Asuras, Nagas and all of humanity. He married Aditi, with whom he fathered Agni, the Adityas, and most importantly Lord Vishnu took his fifth Avatar as Vamana, the son of Aditi, in the seventh Manvantara. With his second wife, Diti, he begot the Daityas, kind of asuras, demons, so it was karman of children with wife’s sister. Diti and Aditi were daughters of King Daksha Prajapati and sisters to Sati, Shiva’s consort. Kashyapa Rishi received the earth, obtained by Parashurama’s conquest of King Kartavirya Arjuna and henceforth, earth came to be known as „Kashyapi”. 

He was also the author of the treatise Kashyapa Samhita, or Braddha Jivakiya Tantra, which is considered, a classical reference book on Ayurveda especially in the fields of Ayurvedic pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics. It can be safely assumed that there were many Kashyapas like Yoga and Tantra Lineage (Sampradaya) and the name indicates a status and not just one individual. Rishi Kaśyapa was one of the Saptarshi Brahmins. According to Hindu Mythology, he is the son of Marichi (Marici), one of the ten sons (Manasa-putras) of the Creator Brahma/n. The Prajapati Daksha gave his thirteen daughters (Aditi, Diti, Kadru, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavaśā, Ida, Khasa and Muni in marriage to Kashyapa. 

Brahmarishi’s Kaśyapa sons from Shree Aditi or Adityas (Sons of Aditi) were, Aṃśa, Aryaman, Bhaga, Dhūti, Mitra, Pūṣan, a daughter Bhumidevi, Śakra, Savitṛ, Tvaṣṭṛ, Varuṇa, Viṣṇu, and Vivasvat or Vivasvan, who went on to start the Solar Dynasty (Suryavansha), which later came to be known as Ikshavaku dynasty, after his great grandson, King Ikshavaku, whose subsequent kings were, Kukshi, Vikukshi, Bana, Anaranya, Prithu, Trishanku, and finally King Raghu, who gave it the name, Raghuvansha (Dynasty of Raghu, Raghuvamśa), and then further leading up to Lord Rama, Ramaćandra, the son of Dasharatha (Daśaratha). 

Kaśyapa’s sons from Diti were, Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha and a daughter Sinhika, who later became the wife of Viprachitti. Hiranyakashipu had four sons, Anuhlada, Hlada, Prahlada, and Sanhlada, who further extended the Daityas, kind af asuras. Garuda and Aruna are the sons of Kashyap from his wife, Vinata. The Nāgas (serpents) are his sons from Kadru. The Danavas are his sons from Danu. The Bhagavata Purana states that the Apsaras were born from Kashyap and Muni. Uttar Ramayana says Diti had a son named Maya who was the lord of Daityas, asuras. 

In the heavenly family line of Kaśyapa, along with him there are two more discoverers of Mantras, namely, his sons Avatsara and Asita. Two sons of Avatsara, namely, Nidhruva and Rebha, are also Mantra-seers. In the Manvantara period named 'Svarochisha’, Kaśyapa was one of the seven Sages (saptarishi) for that manvantara. The Indian valley of Kashmir in the Himalayas is named after him. THE TRANCE OF MAHRISHI KASHYAP AND MATA ADITI situated in AMIN (Kurukshetra) HARYANA opp. SURYA KUND. Kashyapa is a gotra, clan. Several Indian and non-Indian communities claim descent from the Vedic Rishis. A person of Kashyap Gotra is a person who traces or claims to trace his descent from the ancient sage Kashyapa and Suryavansha. 

The Valley of Kashmir got its name from Kashyapa Rishi.According to the Hindu mythology, the Kashmir Valley was a vast lake called Satisaras, named after Sati or Parvati the consort of Shiva. The lake was inhabited by the demon Jalodbhava. The Nilamat Puran of the 7th Century mentions the region being inhabited by two tribes – the Nagas and the Pisachas (Piśacas). The lake was drained off by leader of the Nagas called AnantaNaga in order to capture and kill the demon. Ananta later names the valley as Kashyapa-Mira after his father Rishi Kaśyapa. Kalhana in Rajatarangini (The River of Kings) also mentions Prajapati Kaśyapa killing Jalodbhava with the help of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (Śiva). The lake is then drained and comes to be known as Kash-mira (Kaśa-Mira) after the Rishi Kaśyapa. 

Brahmarishi Vasishta

Vaśishta – in Sanskrit: वशिष्ठ, Thai: Vasit – is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, i.e. the present Manvantara. Vashista is a manasputra of God Brahma/n. He had in his possession the divine cow Kamadhenu, and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners. Arundhati is the name of the wife of Vashista. Vashista one of 9 Prajapatis is credited as the chief author of Mandala 7 of the Rigveda. Vasśishta and his family are glorified in RV 7.33, extolling their role in the Battle of the Ten Kings, making him the only mortal besides Bhava to have a Rigvedic hymn dedicated to him. Another treatise attributed by him is „Vashista Samhita” – a book on Vedic system of electional astrology. 

Mizar is known as Vaśishtha and Alcor is known as Arundhati in traditional Indian astronomy. The pair is considered to symbolize marriage (Vashishtha and Arundhati were a married couple) and, in some Hindu communities, priests conducting a wedding ceremony allude to or point out the constellation as a symbol of the closeness marriage brings to a couple. Vashista head is a copper item representing a human head styled in the manner described for the Rigvedic Vashistha has been dated to around 3700 B.C. in three western universities using among other tests carbon 14 tests, spectrographic analysis, X-ray dispersal analysis and metallography. This indicates that some Rigvedic customs were already known at a very early time. The head was not found in an archaeological context, as it was rescued from being melted down in Delhi.

Brahmrishi Vaśishtha had an Ashram in Ayodhya that was spread over 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land. Today all that remains of it is a small ashram in about one fourth of an acre of land. The ashram has within it a well that is believed to be the source of the river Saryu, Sarayu. Brahmarishi Vashistha was the Guru of the Suryavamsha, The Solar Lineage. The King at that time was King Ishavaku who was the king of Ayodhya. He was a noble king and thought of the well being of his subjects. He approached Sage Vashista telling him that the land had no water and requested him to do something to let the kingdom have adequate water. Sage Vashistha performed a special prayer and the river Saryu is said to have started flowing from this well. Sarayu is also known as Ishavaki and Vashisti. It is said that the well is connected underground with the river. Many spiritual people who visit this ashram find an enormous spiritual energy around this well. Some believe that this is one of the better spiritual ancient Tirtha’s in Bharata (India).

There is also another ashrama past Rishikesh on the way to Kaudiyal on the Devaprayaga route that is known as Vashistha Guha Ashram. The ashram itself is located on the banks of the River Ganges and it is a very beautiful place. It has a cave with a Shiva Linga in it. The head of the ashram there is a monk of South Indian origin by the name of Swami Chetananda. There is also another small cave to the side facing the river. Vashista is featured in many tales and folklore, a few of which are briefly described below. In the Ramayana Vashista appears as the court sage of king Dasharatha. 

The tale of Vashistha: Sage Vashistha was Śri Rama’s guru and the Rajapurohita of Ikshawaku dynasty. He was a peace-loving, selfless, intelligent and great Rishi. He had established Gurukula (residential college) on the banks of the river beas, where he and his wife Arundhati were taking care of thousands of students. Vashistha was the Sadguru of his time, possessing 20 „kala’s” (divine arts) and had complete knowledge of the whole cosmos and the God. Many of his Shlokas are found in Vedas as well. 

Vashista possessed a cow named Nandini daughter of Kamadhenu who could instantly produce food enough for a whole army. The king Kaushika (later called Vishwamitra), who visited Vashistha’s hermitage, was very impressed with the cow and tried to take it away from Vashistha by force, but Kamadhenu/Nandini’s spiritual power was too great for him. After being unable to conquer Nandini, Vishwamitra decided to acquire power himself through penance like Vashistha. He gained much power and many divine weapons from Shiva. Once again he attempted to conquer Kamadhenu/ Nandini. But even the divine weapons he acquired could not defeat the power of Kamadhenu/ Nandini. Vishwamitra finally decided to become a Brahmarishi himself, he renounced all his possessions and luxury and led the life of a simple forest ascetic. 

The tale of King Dileepa: King Dileepa or Dilip was a king of the Raghuvamsha dynasty. He had a wife named Sudakshina, but they had no children. For this reason, Dileepa visited the sage Vashistha in his ashrama (Aśrama), and asked him for his advice. Vashistha replied that they should serve the cow Nandini, child of Kamadhenu, and perhaps if Nandini was happy with their service, she would bless them with a child. So, according to Vashistha, Dileepa served Nandini every day, and attended to her every need for twenty-one days. On the twenty-first day, a lion attacks Nandini. Dileepa immediately draws his bow and tries to shoot the lion. But he finds that his arm is paralysed and cannot move. He reasons that the lion must have some sort of divine power. As if to confirm this, the lion started to speak to him. It said that Dileepa had no chance of saving the cow because the cow was the lion’s chosen meal. The lion tells Dileepa to return to Vashistha’s ashram. Dileepa replies by asking if the lion would let Nandini go if he offered himself in Nandini’s place. The lion agreed and Dileepa sacrificed his life for the cow. But then the lion mysteriously disappeared. Nandini explained that the lion was just an illusion to test Dileepa. Because Dileepa was truly selfless, Nandini granted him a son.

Yoga Vasistha – in Sanskrit: योग-वासिष्ठ – also known as Vasistha’s Yoga is a Hindu spiritual text traditionally attributed to Rishi Valmiki. It recounts a discourse of the sage Vaśishtha to a young Prince Rama, during a period when the latter is in a dejected state. The contents of Vasistha’s teaching to Rama is associated with Advaita Vedanta, the illusory nature of the manifest world and the principle of non-duality. The book has been dated between the 14-th and 11-th century BC and is generally regarded as one of the longest texts in Sanskrit (after the Mahabharata) and an important text of Yoga. The book consists of about 32,000 shlokas (lines), including numerous short stories and anecdotes used to help illustrate its content. In terms of Hindu mythology, the conversation in the Yoga Vasishta takes place chronologically before the Ramayana. Other names of this text are Mahā-Rāmāyana, ārsha Rāmāyana, Vasiṣṭha Rāmāyana, Yogavasistha-Ramayana and Jnanavasistha.

Prince Rama returns from touring the country, and becomes utterly disillusioned after experiencing the apparent reality of the world. This worries his father, King Dasaratha, who expresses his concern to Sage Vasistha upon Rama’s arrival. Sage Vasistha consoles the king by telling him that Rama’s dis-passion (vairagya) is a sign that the prince is now ready for spiritual enlightenment. He says that Rama has begun understanding profound spiritual truths, which is the cause of his confusion; he needs confirmation. Sage Vasistha asks the king to summon Rama. Then, in King Dasaratha’s court, the sage begins his discourse to Rama (which lasts several days). The answer to Rama’s questions forms the entire scripture that is Yoga Vasistha. The traditional belief is that reading this book leads to spiritual liberation. The conversation between Vasistha and Prince Rama is that between a great, enlightened sage and a seeker who is about to reach wholeness. This is said to be among those rare conversations which directly leads to Truth. 

Brahmarishi Śandhilya 

Śāṇḍilya – in Sanskrit: शाण्डिल्य – was the name of at least two prominent rishis. One of the rishis was the progenitor of the Sandilya gotra. The name was derived from the Sanskrit words śaṇ, full and dilam, the moon, with the derivative ya added, meaning the one of the full moon, thereby implying a priest or a descendant of the Moon God. 

One rishi was a son of the sage Asita and grandson of the Rishi Kashyapa (Kaśyapa), and the founder of the Śāṇḍilya gotra. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states that he was a disciple of Vaatsya rishi. His other Acharyas include Kaushika, Gautama Maharishi, Kaishorya Kaapya, Vatsya Vaijavap, and Kushri. His disciples include Kaudinya, Agnivesa, Vatsya Vamakakshayan, Vaishthapureya, and Bharadwaj. He was also the composer of the Śāṇḍilya Upanishad. According to the Bhagavata Purana, he was instrumental in settling certain metaphysical doubts of King Parikshit of Hastinapura and King Vajra of Dwaraka. 

Sandilya or Śāṇḍilya is one of the Brahmin gotras, named after the eponymous rishi Śāṇḍilya, specifying that individuals of the gotra have Śāṇḍilya for one of their patrilineal ancestors. While individuals of the gotra are to be found all through India, it is particularly prevalent amongst Bhumihar Brahmin, Vaidiki Brahmins and Gauda Brahmins. It was also historically common in Bihar, Kashmir and Sindh.

The Pravaras, or lineages, of the Śāṇḍilya gotra are:

Kaśyapa, Āvatsāra, Dīvala; 

Kaśyapa, Āvatsāra, Śāṇḍilya; 

Kaśyapa, Dīvala, Asita; 

Kaśyapa, Āvatsāra, Nīdruva, Rebha, Raibha, Śandila, Śāṇḍilya; 

Rishi from Shāradāvanam: Shandilya was a son of the sage Vasistha, had his hermitage in the Shāradāvanam, or forest of Sharada, of a village in the Bolair Valley of Kashmir. The village has been identified with the modern town of Sharda, on the banks of the River Kishanganga, in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. The goddess Sharada (Śarada Devi) is said to have manifested herself to him, here, after severe penance by him, to confer upon him his yagnopaveetham, an event that was commemorated in the temple of Sharada Peeth in the town. 

Ryc. Ancient Vedic Brahmarishi (Maharishi) 

More Brahmarishis and Maharishis 

But there is another list of Saptarishi and Brahmarishis also who are also Gotra-pravartakas, i.e.,founders of Brahmanical clans (gotras), and this second list appeared somewhat later, but belongs to ancient period. All the hymns of third mandala of the RigVeda is ascribed to Brahmarishi Vishwamitra who is mentioned as son of Gathi, including the Gayatri mantra. According to Puranic stories, Maharishi Vishwamitra was the only brahmarishi who rose to the position out of pure tapas. Originally belonging to the kshatriya caste of kings and warriors, he rose by pure merit to a Brahmarishi. Vishwamitra is also referred to as Kaushika, because he attained Brahmajnana on the banks of the river Koshi. Brahmarishi is not only the higher Raja Yoga Teacher but also the Divine King or Godly Prince of Society and His Nation and progenitor of many Gotras, Clans. 

Brahmarishi Bharadvaja 

Brahmarishi Jamadagni 

Brahmarishi Marići (Marichi) 

Brahmarishi Pulastya 

Brahmarisi Pulaha

Brahmarishi Kratu 

Brahmarishi Uddālaka Āruni (Gautama, Gotama), 



In Indian religions and society, an acharya, acarya or aćarya (IAST: ācārya; Sanskrit: आचार्य; Tamil: அசாரி ācāri; Pali: acariya) is a guide or instructor in religious or spiritual matters; founder, or leader of a spiritual group; or one who sits of gadi; or a highly learned man or a title affixed to the names of learned men. The term „Acharya” is most often said to include the root „char” or „charya” (conduct).

Thus it literally connotes „one who teaches by conduct (example),” i.e. an exemplar. Aća + Arya means „the best leader of Aryans”, „the teacher of the nobles”. The designation has different meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and secular contexts. Acharya is also used to address a teacher or a scholar in any discipline, e.g.: Bhaskaracharya, the mathematician. 

It is also a common suffix in brahmin (Vishwakarma) names, e.g.: Krishnamacharya, Bhattacharya. In South India, this suffix is sometimes shortened to Achar, e.g.: TKV Desikachar. Acharya is also used as surname. In the social order of some parts of India, acharyas are considered as the highest amongst the brahmin community, often described as the „shrestha brahman” i.e. best in brahmins. In Madhwa brahmins Acharya means a priestly person. 

In Brahmanism and Hinduism, an acharya (आचार्य – Aacaarya) is a Mahāpuruśa (महापुरुश, divine personality) who is believed to have descended as an avatāra (अवतार, incarnation) to teach and establish karma, bhakti and jńana in the world and write on the siddhānta (सिद्धांत, doctrine) of devotion to Bhagwan (भगवान्, lord, God, blessed one, see also Iśvara). In Sanskrit institutions Acharya is a Post Graduate Degree. In Raja Yoga or Rishi’s lineage, Aćarya means someone as an example of Royal Yoga, someone the best learn and expipienced like ancient Rishi or Maharishi or Brahmarishi, someone who as a Yoga Teacher represents all of Rishis. Raya Yoga Aćarya is often described as an Experienced Yogi or Yogācārya, and as a Sannyāsi, an Ārya Sātvata, as a yoga teacher and traditional advanced or higher practitioner. 


The following is a summary of Raja-Yoga freely translated from the Kurma-Purana. – By Swami Vivekananda 

In Raja Yoga, The fire of Yoga burns the cage of sin that is around a man. Knowledge becomes purified and Nirvana is directly obtained. From Yoga comes knowledge; know ledge again helps the Yogi. He who combines in himself both Yoga and knowledge, with him the Lord is pleased. Those that practise Mahayoga, either once a day, or twice a day, or thrice, or always, know them to be gods (Devas). Yoga is divided into two parts. One is called Abhava, and the other, Mahayoga. Where one’s self is meditated upon as zero, and bereft of quality, that is called Abhava. That in which one sees the self as full of bliss and bereft of all impurities, and one with God, is called Mahayoga. The Yogi, by each one, realises his Self, Jivatman, Atman and Paramatman. The other Yogas that we read and hear of, do not deserve to be ranked with the excellent Mahayoga in which the Yogi finds himself and the whole universe as God. This is the highest of all Yogas.

Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are the steps in Raja-Yoga, of which non-injury, truthfulness, non-covetousness, chastity, not receiving anything from another are called Yama. This purifies the mind, the Citta. Never produc ing pain by thought, word, and deed, in any living being, is what is called Ahimsa, non-injury. There is no virtue higher than non-injury. There is no happiness higher than what a man obtains by this attitude of non-offensiveness, to all creation. By truth we attain fruits of work. Through truth everything is attained. In truth everything is established. Relating facts as they are this is truth. Not taking others’ goods by stealth or by force, is called Asteya, non-covetousness. Chastity in thought, word, and deed, always, and in all conditions, is what is called Brahmacharya. Not receiving any present from anybody, even when one is suffering terribly, is what is called Aparigraha. The idea is, when a man receives a gift from another, his heart becomes impure, he becomes low, he loses his independence, he becomes bound and attached.

The following are helps to success in Yoga and are called Niyama or regular habits and observances; Tapas, austerity; Svadhyaya, study; Santosha, contentment; Shaucha (Śauća), purity; Ishvara-pranidhana, worshipping God. Fasting, or in other ways controlling the body, is called physical Tapas. Repeating the Vedas and other Mantras, by which the Sattva material in the body is purified, is called study, Svadhyaya. There are three sorts of repetitions of these Mantras. One is called the verbal, another semi-verbal, and the third mental. The verbal or audible is the lowest, and the inaudible is the highest of all. The repetition which is loud is the verbal ; the next one is where only the lips move, but no sound is heard. The inaudible repetition of the Mantra, accompanied with the thinking of its meaning, is called the „mental repetition,” and is the highest. The sages have said that there are two sorts of purification, external and internal. The purification of the body by water, earth, or other materials is the external purification, as bathing etc. Purification of the mind by truth, and by all the other virtues, is what is called internal purification. Both are necessary. It is not sufficient that a man should be internally pure and externally dirty. When both are not attainable the internal purity is the better, but no one will be a Yogi until he has both. Worship of God is by praise, by thought, by devotion.

We have spoken about Yama and Niyama. The next is Asana (posture). The only thing to understand about it is leaving the body free, holding the chest, shoulders, and head straight. Then comes Pranayama. Prana means the vital forces in one’s own body, Ayama means controlling them. There are three sorts of Prana yama, the very simple, the middle, and the very high. Pranayama is divided into three parts: filling, restraining, and emptying. When you begin with twelve seconds it is the lowest Pranayama ; when you begin with twenty-four seconds it is the middle Pranayama ; that Pranayama is the best which begins with thirty-six seconds. In the lowest kind of Pranayama there is perspiration, in the medium kind, quivering of the body, and in the highest Pranayama levitation of the body and influx of great bliss. 

There is a Mantra called the Gayatri. It is a very holy verse of the Vedas. „We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe ; may He enlighten our minds.” Om is joined to it at the beginning and the end. In one Pranayama repeat three Gayatris. In all books they speak of Pranayama being divided into Rechaka (rejecting or exhaling), Puraka (inhaling), and Kumbhaka (restraining, stationary). The Indriyas, the organs of the senses, are acting outwards and coming in contact with external objects. Bringing them under the control of the will is what is called Pratyahara or gather ing towards oneself. Fixing the mind on the lotus of the heart, or on the centre of the head, is what is called Dharana. Limited to one spot, making that spot the base, a particular kind of mental waves rises ; these are not swallowed up by other kinds of waves, but by degrees become prominent, while all the others recede and finally disappear. Next the multiplicity of these waves gives place to unity and one wave only is left in the mind. This is Dhyana, meditation. When no basis is necessary, when the whole of the mind has become one wave, one-formedness, it is called Samadhi. Bereft of all help from places and centres, only the meaning of the thought is present. If the mind can he fixed on the centre for twelve seconds it will he a Dharana, twelve such Dharanas will he a Dhyana, and twelve such Dhyanas will be a Samadhi.

Where there is fire, or in water or on ground which is strewn with dry leaves, where there are many ant-hills, where there are wild animals, or danger, where four streets meet, where there is too much noise, where there are many wicked persons, Yoga must not he practised. This applies more particularly to India. Do not practise when the body feels very lazy or ill, or when the mind is very miserable and sorrowful. Go to a place which is well hidden, and where people do not come to disturb you. Do not choose dirty places. Rather choose beautiful scenery, or a room in your own house which is beautiful. When you practise, first salute all the ancient Yogis, and your own Guru, and God, and then begin.

Dhyana is spoken of, and a few examples are given of what to meditate upon. Sit straight, and look at the tip of your nose. Later on we shall come to know how that con centrates the mind, how by controlling the two optic nerves one advances a long way towards the control of the arc of reaction, and so to the control of the will. Here are a few specimens of meditation. Imagine a lotus upon the top of the head, several inches up, with virtue as its centre, and knowledge as its stalk. The eight petals of the lotus are the eight powers of the Yogi. Inside, the stamens and pistils are renunciation. If the Yogi refuses the external powers he will come to salvation. So the eight petals of the lotus are the eight powers, but the internal stamens and pistils are extreme renunciation, the renunciation of all these powers. Inside of that lotus think of the Golden One, the Almighty, the Intangible, He whose name is Om, the Inexpressible, surrounded with effulgent light. Meditate on that. Another meditation is given. Think of a space in your heart, and in the midst of that space think that a flame is burning. Think of that flame as your own soul and inside the flame is another effulgent light, and that is the Soul of your soul, God. Meditate upon that in the heart. Chastity, non-injury, forgiving even the greatest enemy, truth, faith in the Lord, these are all different Vrittis. Be not afraid if you are not perfect in all of these ; work, they will come. He who has given up all attach ment, all fear, and all anger, he whose whole soul has gone unto the Lord, he who has taken refuge in the Lord, whose heart has become purified, with whatsoever desire he comes to the Lord, He will grant that to him. There fore worship Him through knowledge, love, or renun ciation.

„He who hates none, who is the friend of all, who is merciful to all, who has nothing of his own, who is free from egoism, who is even-minded in pain and pleasure, who is forbearing, who is always satisfied,, who works always in Yoga, whose self has become controlled, whose will is firm, whose mind and intellect are given up unto Me, such a one is My beloved Bhakta. From whom comes no disturbance, who cannot be disturbed by others, who is free from joy, anger, fear, and anxiety, such a one is My beloved. He who does not depend on anything, who is pure and active, who does not care whether good comes or evil, and never becomes miserable, who has given up all efforts for himself ; who is the same in praise or in blame, with a silent, thoughtful mind, blessed with what little comes in his way, homeless, for the whole world is his home, and who is steady in his ideas, such a one is My beloved Bhakta.” Such alone become Yogis.

There was a great god-sage called Narada. Just as there are sages among mankind, great Yogis, so there are great Yogis among the gods. Narada was a good Yogi, and very great. He travelled everywhere. One day he was passing through a forest, and saw a man who had been meditating until the white ants had built a huge mound round his body – so long had he been sitting in that position. He said to Narada, „Where are you going?” Narada replied, „I am going to heaven.” „Then ask God when He will be merciful to me ; when I shall attain freedom.” Further on Narada saw another man. He was jumping about, singing, dancing, and said, „Oh, Narada, where are you going?” His voice and his gestures were wild. Narada said, „I am going to heaven.” „Then, ask when I shall be free.” Narada went on. In the course of time he came again by the same road, and there was the man who had been meditating with the ant-hill round him. He said, „Oh, Narada, did you ask the Lord about me?” „Oh, yes.” „What did He say?” „The Lord told me that you would attain freedom in four more births.” Then the man began to weep and wail, and said, „I have meditated until an ant-hill has grown around me, and I have four more births yet!” Narada went to the other man. „Did you ask my question ?” „Oh, yes. Do you see this tamarind tree? I have to tell you that as many leaves as there are on that tree, so many times, you shall be born, and then you shall attain freedom.” The man began to dance for joy, and said, „I shall have freedom after such a short time!” A voice came, „My child, you will have freedom this minute.” That was the reward for his perseverance. He was ready to work through all those births, nothing discouraged him. But the first man felt that even four more births were too long. Only perseverance, like that of the man who was willing to wait aeons brings about the highest result.
Above extract taken from Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda courtesy of Vedanta Press.

Om Namah Shivaya [oM namaH zivAya] 


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