Two Yogas for Life

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Hari Om Tat Sat (x 11)

You have chanted the mantra Hari Om Tat Sat eleven times for an auspicious and good beginning to the second session of the second day of the World Yoga Convention. With this, welcome to the second part of today's program, where our eminent scholars will be presenting the scientific and modern research and outlook on yoga.

Yoga is a subject of developing life. It is a subject of an individual's evolution, and there are two aspects of yoga. The first aspect of yoga is as taught by Sage Patanjali. The second aspect of yoga is as taught by our paramguru, Swami Sivananda. The first stage of Sage Patanjali's yoga is a personal sadhana to improve and to transform the quality of life, while the second, the yoga of Swami Sivananda, is expression of what you have gained through the transformation; you are expressing the beauty, joy and peace, and spreading the light.

We must look at yoga from two perspectives: the viewpoint of Sage Patanjali, the traditional, the classical, the modern and scientific, and the viewpoint of Swami Sivananda, the applicable, the experienceable, and the real. When I say 'real', I do not mean that the first one is unreal or incorrect. It is important, for it is this first stage that allows the change, the transformation to happen within oneself. The tools Sage Patanjali offers for transformation are yama or emotional self-restraints, niyama or mental disciplines, asana or postures, pranayama or breathing techniques, pratyahara or sense-withdrawal, dharana or concentration, and dhyana, the fixed, spontaneous state after deep meditation, which all lead to the experience of inner unity in samadhi. This is the yoga of Sage Patanjali.

After you have gone through the process of removing the veils from your own life, and after you have cleaned the inner rooms of your own mind and spirit, and when the nescience in your life is replaced by the luminosity of your spirit, it is not that final realization or moksha, liberation, is attained. No, at this stage the realization is that 'The divinity is within me'. You realize that you are a part of that Creative Power which allows you to express the beauty and the creativity in your life. This Creative Power has created the entire universe and all the life forms, whether people call it God, or Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, or guru and Shakti, or Paramatma and Parabrahma. These are the various names. Whether you call sugar 'chini', 'shakkar' or 'sucre' does not matter; by whatever name you call the sweet sugar, its sweetness does not change, although the names may differ. In the same manner, the Higher Reality does not change, although people call it by a variety of names and have different kinds of understanding, awareness, beliefs and concepts of that reality. Sometimes it can be religious, sometimes it can be spiritual, and sometimes it can be the experience of living the right kind of life.

That is the realization of Sage Patanjali: discover the reality within you by removing the dross of life, the dross of mind. After the yoga of Patanjali stops, the yoga of Sivananda starts, for you have to again reconnect with the world after illumination. You must share the wisdom and creativity which you have developed, the grace and bounty that the Lord has given to you with everyone else, and that happens through service.

Sri Swamiji says, "If you can cultivate atmabhava, the feeling of unity with all, then service is not difficult, the act of serving is not difficult." However, to cultivate atmabhava you have to come out of the selfish shell and become selfless. Atmabhava is the power, the force that connects you with other human beings, with other life forms, for you see the radiance of consciousness within each and every form. You do not see the colour, you do not see the race, you do not see the belief, you do not see the culture, but you see the same luminosity. That is atmabhava, and atmabhava is necessary to come to the apex of service, because at that point your heart, your actions and intentions become one. When you serve with the idea of serving the guru, there is still a distinction between you and the guru.

Do you know that the best form of service is not taking care of the poor or the sick? The best form of service is not sweeping the floor and wiping the windowpanes of a room, no. The best form of service is obedience to the vision, direction and mission of the guru. That is the best form of service, for it is the guru who inspires you, and if you follow the direction given to you by the guru, if you follow the mandate given to you by the guru, then you can serve with the best of your abilities. There are many dimensions of service, but I am not going to go into that. I am describing to you the yoga of Sivananda which begins where the yoga of Patanjali stops. The eightfold path of Patanjali is followed by the eightfold path of Sivananda. It starts with service, reconnecting with the world, which begins after samadhi.

In this new frame of mind, in this new attitude and vision that you have acquired, the natural and the spontaneous expression of your Self is love. Love knows no boundaries, and love connects each and everyone together like the thread of a mala. You know that in a mala there are 108 beads, and they are all individual beads, but something that connects all the beads together is the thread. In the same manner, something that connects all human beings with the Divine and with each other in this life is the thread of love. Love is a natural expression in the life of a person who serves and who has surrendered. There is no other option but to realize one thing: your duty, your inherent dharma which allows you to connect with everyone else in this world and not with your own desires, ambitions and aspirations.

As you serve, and as you express your love, another natural thing happens. You begin to give. You begin to sacrifice yourself, and sacrifice is giving. Giving is sacrifice and sacrifice is giving. A mother who loves her child can sacrifice anything for that child, even her sleep. When her child is sick, she is willing to sacrifice, and she is willing to give her care and love to the child, as she considers the child to be her own.

Where love is unconditional, and where service is done as a command of the guru and is obeyed, giving is a natural expression. By giving, you purify yourself. That is the fourth avastha or state of mind: serve, love, give, and purify. The more your give, the more you purify yourself, for the normal tendency of a human being is to accumulate, accumulate, accumulate. Look at your own houses, your rooms, and you will find things that are lying in your drawers, closets and almirahs for the last fifteen, twenty or thirty years, which are totally useless. However, you have an emotional attachment with these things that does not allow you to let them go. That is sangraha, accumulation. Sangraha or accumulation has many forms: one hundred pairs of shoes, forty sets of clothes, and such other innumerable objects.

This tendency, this self-oriented tendency, must change. It has to become selfless. When you become selfless, then you naturally become good, and then you naturally do good. It is the selfish people for whom doing good and being good does not always come naturally. A selfless person is always good, and good deeds are done by him.

This is an expression of the transformation that takes place within you after you have perfected the yoga of Patanjali. The yoga of Patanjali is sadhana, and the yoga of Sivananda is the expression of your attainment. The yoga of Patanjali is overcoming the limitations of life, and the yoga of Sivananda is expressing the beauty of life. Therefore, we have to understand yoga in two forms, not just the personal sadhana to attain health and enlightenment, but also as a creative expression of life where we can help each other grow, evolve and progress, ultimately contributing in whatever form to the development of a better human culture and society.

Thus, the theme of today's discussion is 'Yoga for Health, Yoga in Therapy and Yoga for Well being'; yoga in different areas of society, different strata of society, how it is being applied and what kind of research is being done. Please remember, though, these are only indications of the possibilities and potentials of yoga. The real experiencer is you and not the research. Research only indicates the achievement of a process, attainment of a system, benefits of a technique, whereas the application of yoga in its true spirit is by you, by your own effort. Therefore, the slogan of this Convention is 'Sincerity, Seriousness and Commitment'. Three things: seriousness in intention, sincerity in effort and commitment to the laskhya, the goal. If you can bring these three things together, then your yogic journey will definitely lead you to a world where you are one with peace, one with luminosity, and one with your spirit.