Two Questions

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

It is said that in the turiya stage the individual consciousness merges with the supreme consciousness and after that the sadhaka lives only for three days. Is this true?

These things should be properly explained. There is a certain experience where you are aware, but there is no self-awareness. You know you are not unconscious, but at the same time there is no classified awareness such as, ‘I am experiencing awareness’. That ‘I’, the anubhogta, the experiencer, is not present. There is only awareness, which you realize when you come out. At that time, it seems that there is total shoonyata, total void, there is only awareness.

This is an experience that indicates the individual awareness has merged into cosmic consciousness. However, words are deluding. What is individual awareness? Is it awareness of name and form, your relationship with time and space, or where you are? That relationship, with object, your body, time and space, the room in which you are meditating, is not there at that time.

It is not immediately turiya. There are two stages – jivanmukti and videhamukti. When jivanmukti is attained, the yogi has a supreme quality of awareness. In that supreme quality of awareness, he sees himself in everybody just as a mother sees herself in the child or two lovers see themselves in each other. He sees everyone with compassion. He performs lokakarunya, acts of compassion, whatever they might be. He does his karma and dharma without any personal motive because he has no more samskaras and karmas; they are finished and burnt.

After perfecting or after living the life of a jivanmukta, when the sattwic vasana of lokakarunya, compassion for the whole world, is also reduced, he attains videhamukti, not in six or seven days, the period is usually twenty one days. In twenty one days, even the karmas related to this physical body are finished. There is karma related to the mind and the body. If you have finished your karma related to the mind, your body may still live because it still has prana and all the other functions; it is as if the generator is running but the mechanic has gone. The moment the petrol is finished, the motor will also stop. So this body runs for twenty one days with total detachment with the body. That is called videhamukti.

It is not possible for a videhamukta to have anything to do with anyone. All the seeds of existence are exhausted. There is no need for him to come back into the physical form because there is no vasana, latent desire. Lokakarunya, compassion for all living beings, is also a vasana. Even if you want to do good to everyone, nishkama seva, it is a vasana. It is a sattwic quality of vasana. Even that vasana is not there in a videhamukta.

Videhamukti is liberation from karma related to the mind and body. The jivanmukta has become free from the karmas of mind, no desire, no vasana, no icchha, nothing like that. He is living for lokakarunya on account of infinite love for everybody. He has a body and he has the karma of the body which may live for fifty, seventy or one hundred years. As long as his body lives, he has to live. At this time, if the jivanmukta dies, he can take another body, because he still has to perform the lokakarunya karma. He comes in another body again like an avatar, a siddha purusha or a mahatma.

As a beginner, I would like to know what is yoga. Patanjali says in his Yoga Sutras (1:2), Yogaschitta vritti nirodhah – Cessation of all mental activities is yoga. In the Bhagavad Gita (2:48), it says, Samatvam yoga uchyate – Equanimity of mind is yoga; and then in (2:50) Sri Krishna says, Yogah karmasu kaushalam – Expertise in action is yoga.

In the Gita there are no definitions about yoga, only the word yoga is used. In the chapter on karma yoga, when the word ‘yoga’ is used it means karma yoga and if it is used in the raja yoga chapter, it means raja yoga.

There is no necessity to be confused. First of all, let us start from Patanjali. What is yoga? Yogaschitta vritti nirodhah – to stop the vrittis of chitta, not the mind. Anger, happiness and dukha, suffering, are vrittis. In Patanjali’s raja yoga, vrittis are named in a particular style, but for our understanding let us say that happiness and unhappiness are vrittis. They are the patterns of the mind. In meditation or through yogic practices like yama, niyama, you are supposed to stop these patterns.

When you stop these patterns, the mind attains a state of balance. If you are not affected by sukha or dukha, the mind becomes balanced, sambhava. When the mind attains balance, harmony, it becomes efficient. A calm, quiet and harmonized mind is more capable than a mind in disharmony. When the mind is free from vrittis, correct decisions can be taken. When the mind has many vrittis, like kama, krodha, lobha vritti, vrittis of desires, anger, greed, the mind makes mistakes in taking decisions which are not accurate.

Karmasu kaushalam can be interpreted in many ways. Whatever karma you do, be efficient in it. You are a householder and you have to get your children educated. Should they study arts, commerce or science? Should they enter business or service? That decision is also karma. This efficiency in karma will come if first of all you can harmonize your mind. There is no contradiction between these two.

The word ‘yoga’ in the Bhagavad Gita is used in a very broad sense. Starting with vishada yoga and ending with mokshasannyasa yoga. Here yoga is used in relation to the mind. When you are in depression and your mind is disappointed, you have a series of experiences on account of the depression. What do you do? Either you completely succumb to the depression or you try to get out of it. This attempt to come out of the state of depression is the first yoga when you are trying to balance your mind.

Suppose you are walking on the road. What do you do? You balance yourself. If you fall onto this side you tilt to the other side; if you fall on that side, you tilt to this side. Similarly, when the mind is affected by vishada, depression or dukkha, suffering, most people try to come out of that state of mind. The very attempt to come out of that state of mind is called yoga.

In other scriptures like Samkhya, tantra, kundalini yoga, it is said that yoga is union between ida and pingala. It is a very technical, traditional and scriptural definition. The chandra nadi and surya nadi should be united in ajna chakra by a method of meditation and concentration. When surya nadi and pingala nadi join each other, a sort of explosion takes place like when you join two wires. The explosion brings you to a sort of spiritual experience. This is the most correct definition of yoga according to tantra and kundalini yoga shastras. In the Gita, this definition has been avoided except in chapter fifteen and a few places in chapter four, where Sri Krishna speaks about the sacrifice of prana into apana when you block the prana.

In chapter fifteen, Krishna talks to Arjuna about the ashwattha tree that has its roots above the ground and the branches below. He is talking about kundalini marga, the path of kundalini tantra. The roots are sahasrara chakra, then below are the branches and mooladhara chakra is at the top of the tree. It is also said that you have to climb from the top, from mooladhara chakra. On the battlefield, it was a time when Krishna had to tell Arjuna what he had to do, yet he must have spoken about yoga to Arjuna many other times.

In chapter eleven of the Gita, there is a clear indication of shaktipat, when Arjuna wanted to have the divine experience. Initially Krishna did not encourage him very much but when Arjuna was insistent, he gave him that spiritual experience (11:8):

Divyam dadaami te chakshuh pashya me yogamaishwaram.

I give you the divine eye; behold My lordly yoga.

Then an experience was revealed to Arjuna and that experience is described viratrupadarshan, vision of the cosmic form. When Arjuna had the experience of viratrupa, he could not handle it. He was so frightened that he requested Krishna to withdraw the vision. Sri Krishna must have infused this experience into Arjuna by the same method by which shaktipat is done by gurus. They can bestow an experience on the disciple, however many times if disciples are not ready for it, they cannot handle it.

There is a similar story is in the Old Testament of the Bible. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, the same viratrupa was revealed to Yashodha. She was not frightened but struck with awe and wonder. The same viratrupa was revealed to Arjuna, but he could not handle it. Perhaps Arjuna was not ready to receive the classical meaning of yoga.

The definition of yoga has to be given according to the necessity of the sadhaka, the aspirant. And that is precisely why you might not find the classical definitions of yoga in the Gita, like chitta vritti nirodhah.

27 January 1982, Trivandrum, Kerala