YOGA-The way to Life-Excellence

Brij Mohan Sharma
If it is true that materialism has held its sway in all countries and in all ages over a section of people, it is equally true that spirituality, which is the backbone of India’s culture, has been more vibrant and effective in enriching and inspiring the world at large with the eternal values of Indian spiritual thought and its fully-assured potential to lead man to the higher and higher levels of life-excellence.
As the saying goes, ‘man shall not live by bread alone. He needs something more, some high ideal to live for. And one such ideal has been provided by India to the world for man to realize his real self-the divinity inherent in him.
What is this inherent divinity? It is Love, Bliss, Peace, Beauty, Truth, Goodness and umpteen such attributes of God. God, in His benevolence, has endowed us all, His children, with these divine gifts, but, alas, we have been unable to make use of them in our thought, word and deed.
The reason for this inability is not far to seek. Our upbringing and our spiritual educatuion has to do much about it. To be more elaborate, it is religion and religion alone, if understood properly, which has the ability to develop these dormant but ever existing characteristics in human beings. This process of activation or the resultant State of ‘Union with the Infinite’ is called Yoga in Indian parlance.
According to Patanjali, Yoga is the essence of religion, it is the science of religion. Yoga fulfills the purpose of religion, achievement of oneness, or union, with God-the ultimate necessity of every soul.
India, for centuries has been producing great spiritual giants who have profoundly influenced and contributed to the national and international spiritual thought. In this long procession of accomplished souls, Parmahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) occupies a prominent place.
He was born on January 5, 1983 and soon after his spiritual training and initiation into Swamiship, he was ordained to go to the west and enlighten the people there with India’s ancient spiritual knowledge. He spent more than thirty years in the West, explaining and imparting the oriental laws of life for man’s physical, mental and spiritual welfare. His lectures on the Science of Yoga, and the various scientific techniques of concentration and meditation received unparalleled appreciation and response in the West. Wherever he went, he created an aura of spiritual bliss and blessing, not only by his presence but by what he said and how he said it.
His Autobiography of a Yogi-a book about yogis by a yogi- has won worldwide acclaim and is considered to be one of the best spiritual classics. Here a great master has committed India’s ancient but often misrepresented science of religion to the written word with the indisputable authority of divine realization. This book along with the lessons on Yoga written by him for truth-seekers have indeed wrought a spiritual transformation in the lives of millions across the world.
“We must be practical inspiritual matters, just as material success requires systematic application. No church or temple can bring you God just by blind prayer or ceremony. You should go to the temple or church not for socials or because of beautiful music or lofty sermons, but for God, and for your own spiritual development, which will give you God-consciousness….’’ says Parmahansa Yogananda.
He, therefore, laid great stress on the faithful and practical application of yogic techniques for attaining direct personal experience of God. It may be worthwhile to mention here that the techniques taught by him are based on the original Yoga as taught by Lord Krishna, to liberate man from this threefold sufferings, physical disease, mental inharmonies and spiritual ignorance. (See Chapter VI of Bhagvad Gita).
In man’s spiritual quest, Yoga is the only efficacious method of piercing the sheaths of relativity and finitude with a view to reaching the infinite and the eternal. One should never doubt his own worthiness to engage in yoga practice. Stop grumbling over your past. Lives of all men are dark with many shames. Yoga has the capability to improve your present as well as the future if you make a sincere effort right now. In the words of Lord Krishna, “One should lift oneself up by one’s own effort and should not degrace oneself, for one’s own self is one’s friend, and one’s own self is one’s enemy.” (B.G. VI-5)
“Yoga enables the devotee to switch off and on at will, life current-of slight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Attaining this power of sense disconnection, the yogi finds it simple to unite his mind at will with divine realms or with the world of matter. No longer is he, unwillingly brought back by the life force to the mundane sphere of rowdy sensations and restless thought, “explains Paramhansa Yogananda. By practising yoga, the devotee will realize that God is no longer just a myth or a belief but a Reality to be experienced directly.
Unfortunately, man’s selfishness, his greed for gold, his misuse of religion for vested ends have turned him away from God. The result is all round suffering and strife. It is high time man turns back to Him by following the tenets of his religion faithfully, devotedly and in true spirit. Unless we make a conscious effort, every day, to find Him with all our heart, mind and soul, we can never know what lasting Happiness is.
So, dear ones, love God “With all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength,’’ as preached by Lord Jesus Christ and our own rishis, sufis and saints. A devotee should never rest content unless and until he establishes a personal rapport with the Divine, experiences His Eternal Bliss, and is able to commune and converse with Him just a child talks with his mother or father.
This is, in reality, the Yoga that Paramahansa Yogananda instilled in the hearts of devotees-a boon that no material world can bestow.
(The author is a former Additional Secretary to Government)