This is the first meeting of the First South India Yoga Convention and we are here in order to understand and discover the way to higher experience. Therefore, we will dedicate this conference to the practical aspect of experience or anubhuti. In the Ishavasya Upanishad it is said in mantra (15):
Hiranmayena paatrena satyasyaapihitam mukham;
tattvam pooshannapaavrinu satyadharmaaya drishtaye.
A golden disc covers the face of Truth.
Oh Sun, remove that lid for the sight of this seeker of Truth.
Even as you close a tin with a lid, in the same way, the inner being or the inner experience is covered by maya. Therefore, we have to rend asunder the veil of maya so that we can see the face of truth as a living reality.
We are used to experience sense objects: shabda, sparsha, rupa, rasa and gandham; sound, touch, form, taste and smell; so for us nothing else has existence. This is the materialistic aspect of philosophy: what we see does exist but what we cannot see does not and cannot exist. I am going to tell you that what you see is non-existent and what you cannot see and do not see is the basis of all experience, is the Self. Therefore, all our sadhana must be directed at having an understanding, an experience, a vision of that truth.
We have to do a lot of work to remove this veil of maya. It is not that easy. Even after the study of the Vedas, Upanishads, shruti, smriti and Puranas, and having the knowledge of the sixty-four vidyas, the disciple comes to his guru, and the guru merely gives him the mantra which he has read thousands of times in his scriptures.
What you read from the shastras and books is for inspiration; what you hear from your guru in the form of mantra is for enlightenment. Therefore, we have to find out a way for ourselves and the way I told you is to have a vision, which in our system is known as darshan. Darshan means ‘to see’. I see you, I see everything, I see the sun, the moon, stars, flowers, men and women, so where is the necessity of darshan?
Darshan here means ‘inner vision’. When the mind has been withdrawn into shoonya, nirvichara avastha, thoughtlessness has dawned, when the senses have been withdrawn, and prana has attained the state of kevala kumbhaka, when the pranas have stopped for a moment, then you see yourself in more than one thousand forms. You can realize that in the form of light, jyoti shyama vidyat, or you can see it in the form of a deity. That is the ultimate destination of man’s existence. It is for that purpose you have been given this human incarnation, but just by thinking, wishing or wanting we cannot have that experience. There are veils after veils. Some powerful guru may be able to give it to you, he may be able to assist you, but that also depends on the discipleship.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna craved that experience. Krishna first of all discouraged him but Arjuna was insistent. Then Krishna said (11:8):
Na tu maam shakyase drashtum anenaiva svachakshushaa;
Divyam dadaami te chakshuh pashya me yogamaishvaram.
But you are not able to behold Me with these, your own eyes;
I give you the divine eye; behold My lordly Yoga.
You know what happened? Arjuna had to withdraw his request. He said, ‘No I cannot see this!’ Therefore, even if a powerful guru can endow you with that vision I think you may not be able to understand it.
It is in this context that the need for yoga comes. For a long time, we were told many things against it. Even now people think that it has something to do with renunciation, with black magic and so on. The practices of yoga, including hatha yoga, will prepare your body and mind, and finally take you to a point where you can have a vision of your atman. This is the topic to which this convention is dedicated and we shall be dealing with many aspects of yoga: hatha yoga, mantra yoga, kriya yoga, laya yoga, raja yoga and bhakti yoga.
We should not misunderstand yoga. In the last few years it has come up as a therapy. I myself use it for therapy, but that is not the purpose of yoga. Yoga therapy is a side effect; it is incidental. Relaxation is a by-product. I am not asking you not to practise yoga for therapy or relaxation. We have to apply the yogic science in every field of life, but in order to bring about a total change all over the world, it will be necessary for us to utilize it for the discovery of the potential or deeper forces within us.
Man’s body and mind are not static substances. We are progressing. Mind, body, every element is progressing. In another ten to twenty thousand years, we will have a different vision of life, and if we practise yoga we can accelerate the pace of evolution. What could happen in ten or twenty thousand years can happen in perhaps ten years. The ultimate destiny of man, jiva, is to realize his own identity with the atman or supreme self. That identity is an experience which can come only when there is a definite awakening in our system. This awakening is known as the awakening of kundalini and that is our inevitable destiny.
Even those who do not like this topic, who have been saying that it is risky to awaken kundalini, must remember that it is their ultimate destiny. Man cannot live with this mind forever. We cannot live with this awareness forever. If we were to live with this awareness forever, why talk about evolution? Evolution is going on in every field of our existence and therefore the awakening of kundalini should be sought. In order to awaken kundalini, you must practise yoga and you must teach yoga to your children. Before they are born you must create such a situation in your biological structure that they are born with that spiritual awareness.
Of course we ourselves have missed the bus, but we have the opportunity to produce not merely ordinary children with animal instincts, those who go out to pictures and dance in night-clubs, but children with a greater awareness. It is possible if you can change the molecular structure in your body by the practices of yoga. That is what parents must be taught; and the practices in your religion, in your dharma must be properly organized.
Many things which we have been practising and which we knew in the past, in our dharma parampara, seem to be completely useless because we do not understand them, and our teachers do not tell us what they are for. I will give you a very simple example. At the top of the spinal cord is a gland called the pineal gland. We call it rudra granthi. This gland begins to decay by the time the child attains the age of seven or eight. Then it releases a lock which controls the pituitary body in the frontal brain. This is another name of sahasrara chakra.
When this pineal gland begins to decay and the pituitary gland starts to function, the whole personality of the child undergoes a great change. He develops emotions and passions and loses his contact with the inner world. When the child attains the age of eight or so we give him upanayanam, yajnopavitam, and a mantra with pranayama. The practice of pranayama with mantra and surya upasana helps the child to maintain the health of the pineal gland for a few more years so that the emotional after-effects of the pituitary gland may be delayed for a few more years. This is how we create a balance between experience and emotion.
In religious practices there are many important aspects that relate to the awakening of kundalini and therefore the saguna upasana, worship of a form, is very important here. We know that the ultimate form is formless; the reality we are seeking, the experience we want has no form, no name and no categories. We cannot even understand what that is because now we are living in the categories of mind, body and senses. What I understand is totally inadequate and what you understand is also incomplete. After all, you are understanding through your mind whereas that reality is not a subject of the mind.
The Kenopanishad says, ‘Mind cannot comprehend; the senses do not comprehend’. Do you know the story in the Kenopanishad? When the yaksha came, Agni, Vayu, all the elements, wanted to understand what it was. They did not understand and had to come back. Speech and mind are in- adequate tools with which to understand, speak, relate, express what that reality is, but we talk about it because we have been told about it by the wise men, the jivanmuktas, the gurus, and sometimes we too have glimpses of it. When we have glimpses of that reality we think that it is there, but the formless reality has no name; it has no form; it has no fixed place.
I cannot say whether what you experienced was in you or from outside because this ‘within’ and ‘without’ is a finite concept; it is not truth. Where is ‘out’ and where is ‘in’? Sometimes we make a mistake and the mistake is, ‘Oh the truth is inside’. What do you mean ‘inside’? Is this body in the truth or is that truth in this body? Just think for a while. This is a very limited body – flesh, blood, bone and marrow. It is funny to say that the truth and the reality are within this body. We should have said it the other way, that this body exists in that truth. But we cannot see that truth.
Though He is nameless and formless, speech and other categories cannot comprehend Him, still we need an object. The rishis say, ‘You are without form, but in meditation we have imagined a form for You. You are not the subject matter of speech, but by praying and singing we have made You so. You are all pervasive, but we have installed You in a particular place. We have made these three errors: without form we have given a form; we have prayed and made You the subject matter of speech; we enshrined You at one place as a devata in a kshetra. But we have done so in order to climb over the difficulties of mind, to transcend the barriers of maya, otherwise we would not know exactly where we stand’.
When the mind becomes shoonya, who experiences whom? There has to be a basis of substantial and tangible awareness for experience. This total awareness is called atma. The form, the deity on which you meditate, is not physical, though as long as you see it with the eyes, it is. When you close your eyes and visualize that deity within your mind, it is mental, and when, by the practices of yoga your mind is purified and becomes subtle, sukshma, then that form is also sukshma. When your mind has disintegrated, it has withdrawn, and atma vritti dawns in you, still that form exists. That is not sthoola vigraha, gross form, that is chinmaya vigraha, subtle form. Therefore, the form on which you are meditating keeps on changing according to the change in your awareness.
When you go to a temple and see Rama, close your eyes and withdraw the mind and see Rama, forget your body, mind, name, place, forget even that you are seeing him, but still he is there – that is called darshan. In the state of darshan, there is no mind. Darshan means ‘living experience’. If you can see me in your house, if you can see me in your shrine exactly as I am – that is darshan. You can do that, but not now.
Through yoga you can prepare yourself. You can materialize your ishta devata because that purusha which you see enshrined in the temple – you are that, and towards that point we have to strive. All the tapasya, the pooja, the dedication, all your pain and pleasure, all your grihastha dharma, whatever you are doing, must be directed towards attaining that end. That is the central point of Sanatana dharma. It is for this that the Vedas were created. Veda means ‘to know’, not ‘to know through the books’.
There are two forms of knowledge, transcendental knowledge and empirical knowledge. Mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, history are empirical sciences. Transcendental vidya is that by which you can have the experience of the imperishable purusha, and it is for this that the Vedas, shruti, smriti and all such literature was created. Therefore, we are talking about yoga in this conference with that point in mind.
In the last twenty years, Munger has taken yoga around the world. We have not contradicted any purpose of yoga; we have not contradicted any yogic philosophy, system or school. We have not spoken against hatha yoga or jnana yoga, bhakti yoga or karma yoga because we know that they are all stepping-stones.
Unless your mind is pure, unless you have attained chitta shuddhi what are you going to see in dhyana? You will see horrible things because your mind is loaded with suppressions, with tamoguna. You are facing mental problems and aberrations and you are forcing yourself to do dhyana yoga! You are going to see what is there, that’s all.
Through karma yoga the chitta must be purified. Through bhakti yoga the vikshepa, mental distraction, must be removed. Through raja yoga you must train your awareness. Through jnana yoga you must know what reality and truth are, you should be able to analyze the nature of reality, experience and consciousness. Through mantra yoga you should give proper training to your mind so that it is liberated from vishaya vasana, desire for objects. By the practice of laya yoga you should be able to dissolve your mind for the time being. You should also know about kundalini yoga.
For the last twenty years we have been trying to tell people about yoga all over the world and they have accepted it. There are hundreds of sects, half-a-dozen religions in the world, but the purpose is completely lost. They exist today as very powerful organizations but even they do not know what they are talking about. There is no guidance. You read the Bhagavad Gita, I read the Bible, he reads the Koran, that is all. Where is the experience? How many times have you been able to jump over your mind? How many times have you been able to materialize a thought into an object, a thought into an event, a thought into a force? We have become so weak! We are just depending on the mind and think that if we have no senses we cannot do anything. But the Upanishads say:
You can see without eyes,
You can hear without ears.
23 January 1982, Bangalore, Karnataka