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    Conquest Of Tamo-Guna Prakriti

    Due to his involvement in Prakriti, the Purusha has become a human individual, but his real status is ever free, ever blissful, free from all afflictions, beyond the reach of the mind and its impurities, beyond the limitations of Prakriti. But just now, the consciousness of his Purushahood is not there in the Jiva. The Jiva thinks himself to be a little, puny human being due to his encasement in the body-mind complex, full of distress, full of anxieties, full of impurities, worry and sorrow. So, to dissolve this, the great sages have shown us the way and Patanjali Maharshi has given us his unique Ashtanga Yoga or Raja Yoga, a most scientific and progressive system of mind-control where you go on ascending the ladder of Yogic practice step by step, stage by stage.

    Conquest of Tamo-Guna through Yama and Niyama

    Now, in the first two stages of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga, the animal in man is the target of the Yoga Sadhana. The animal nature, the brute nature, is sought to be countered by taking certain strong vows, to be adhered to at all costs, at all times, in all places, under all circumstances. Such a vow is something that has no exception. All the time you must adhere to these vows. You have the vow of not hurting, not injuring, not engaging in violence, either mental or verbal; you have the vow of truthfulness, of absolute truthfulness, the Satyavrata; you take the vow of control of the senses; you take the vow of humility in thought, word and deed; you take the vow of Brahmacharya, which means not only abstinence from the sex function and control of the sex urge, but means the overall dominance of the higher over the lower, the subtle over the gross, the thinking, seeing, discriminating human nature—the Suddha Buddhi, the Vivekatmak Buddhi, the Vichara-Yukta Buddhi—over each Indriya, over all the five senses.

    Mahatma Gandhi has said a great deal about this subject of Brahmacharya in his letters, in his articles in “The Harijan”, and in his answers to the queries of seekers. He has thrown valuable light, based upon his own personal experience, on this subject of self-restraint. And all these thinkings have been gathered together and brought out in a book called “Self-Restraint versus Self-Indulgence”. In this book Gandhiji throws a lot of light on this concept of Brahmacharya. He stresses the fact that it is impossible to abstain only from one specific urge, namely, the sex urge, if you give free play to all the other Indriyas to do what they like—if you let the eyes wander wherever they like, if you let the ears hear anything and everything, and so on. If you do that, it is impossible to practise Brahmacharya. So says Gandhiji. It is only if you have mastery and control over all these various other senses, namely, the sense of sight, the sense of taste, the sense of smell and the sense of sound, only then can you even remotely hope to become established in some sort of mastery over your inner urges. And so Gandhiji says that Brahmacharya means complete self-control, that Brahmacharya means changing your entire life, orienting your entire life in such a way that your overall life-pattern will be helpful and conducive to such control. You should try to restrain all the five senses. If you keep all sorts of exciting pictures all around you in your room and hear filmy music and exciting type of music, self-control and Brahmacharya are not possible. You must change your entire life-pattern—the company which you keep, the literature which you read, the surroundings in which you keep yourself, the food that you eat, and so on. These things should be of such a nature as not to excite you. On the other hand, they should be of such a kind as to elevate you, inspire you. They should be Sattvic. So it means a complete spiritual reorientation of your life-style on the outer side where Sangati, Sahitya, Ahara, environment—all these things come in.

    It goes without saying that to these methods you have to add positive thinking, Japa, prayer to the Lord, sitting in the company of prayerful people, of Satpurushas, worship, taking the mind towards higher things, taking inspiration from the lives of saints, keeping some ideal before you. In this way, there should be a total effort on the part of the individual who wishes to be established in a lofty plane of conduct, a high standard of conduct and character. It should be a total all out effort and there should be great enthusiasm for this task. It is only if you have got a burning love for purity, for character, for nobility, only if you have got a great love, a great hunger, a great desire for it, then only will you become successful. Because, human nature goes objectward for enjoyment, for indulgence; that is the very Dharma, Svadharma, of the Manas and the Sarira. The Indriyas ever go towards the objects. The mind moves through the Indriyas to the external world of objects and to the enjoyment of those objects, because Brahma has created the mind with this externalised tendency, with this outgoing tendency.

    In the Kathopanishad, Yama tries to explain this to Nachiketas. He says that the very tendency of the mind has been made external. It always goes out to the objects, through the senses, and so Yoga means trying to reverse the entire normal human nature. It is a superhuman task, like trying to make the Ganges in Uttarkashi go upwards towards Gangotri. So, it requires great liking to advance spiritually. You must yourself have a very great interest in bringing about this transformation; then only you can succeed. And we saw earlier how, to bring about this transformation, purity of conduct, simplicity of life, giving up of too much greed and covetousness, Aparigraha and contentment, never wanting anything that God has not given to you, never wanting anything that belongs to someone else—all these are necessary. And Asteya. Refusing to cast your eye, refusing to cast even a thought, upon something that is not rightfully yours, never coveting or wanting anything that does not belong to you—that is called Asteya.

    Now, in these various ways, the gross animal in you is completely checked and controlled and overcome; and then the whole trend of your life is given a Godward direction through the Niyamas. Now there is a transformation of your being through the proper practice of Yama and Niyama. You become a holy person. You are no more the old person. You have a rebirth as it were. Therefore, it is purification of being which has to be achieved first by Yama. And then there should be a spiritualisation of one’s life and activities which is a cleansing process to the spirit and that is achieved through Niyama. When Yama and Niyama are perfected, everything moves in the direction of God, Godward. So, this rebirth, which is a spiritual rebirth, is brought about by Yama and Niyama. This rebirth is a purification of one’s whole nature, Svabhava, conduct and character; and this is brought about through the spiritualisation of one’s life and activities. This is the rebirth into the Holy Water and the Spirit that is indicated or hinted at by the Divine Master Jesus. It means purification and spiritualisation—purification of one’s nature, conduct and character and spiritualisation of one’s daily life and activities. And when this is achieved, one is expected to be completely free from all the grossness of the Tamo-Guna and the lower hurdles.

    The Inertia or Alasya Aspect of Tamo-Guna

    And then comes the next phase of Yoga Sadhana which is to deal with the Prakriti in its mode as the Rajo-Guna. The predominant characteristic of Rajas is restlessness, agitation, activity. The uncontrolled activity of Rajas is a great distractor; it will not allow a person to settle in any one place, in any one occupation. It creates restlessness, creates agitation, creates impatience of the mind. The restlessness of the body and the incessant urge for going about here and there are the result of the activity of Rajas. This Rajas is a great obstacle to the higher process of inner Yoga, but nevertheless, it has its virtues in the beginning, for we must clearly know that Rajas is superior to Tamas. Rajas is subtler than Tamas, and the great relieving feature of Rajas, an important virtue in Rajas, is that it is through Rajas and Rajas only that you can overcome Tamas. Tamas is meant to be overcome through Rajas. Tamas cannot be overcome through Sattva. Tamas and Sattva have no direct dealing with each other; they have no direct communication between each other. And therefore, it is through channelising your activity in the right direction, in an optimistic, idealistic, ethical and spiritual direction that you can overcome the Tamo-Guna. Up till now we had considered Tamo-Guna in its various active phases, in the active manifestation of its brute nature in the form of violence and hatred. But, Tamo Guna is also present in the form of deep inertia, dullness of mind, lethargy of body, laziness of habits. Tamas is the great enemy of man in all walks of life, and therefore, a great enemy of the Sadhak also. Alasya is a great enemy of man—that is what the philosophers say. They say that Alasya is a great enemy of man residing within man’s own knowledge. And when you worship Sarasvati who is pure Sattva, pray to Her to eradicate, eliminate and root out all the laziness and lethargy in you without any trace. There should not be any trace left. Completely root out all Tamas. In the famous hymn to Sarasvati, “Ya Kundendu Tushara Hara Dhavala...”, we offer our homage to Sarasvati, because through her Sattvic power, she completely frees us from lethargy and laziness without leaving any trace of it. Therefore, Sarasvati is to be worshipped.

    There is a point to note here. You may see this quality of inertia in the highest state of Sattva also. For instance, in the Avadhuta, who does not make any effort to go here or there, even for Bhiksha. Pade Rahna, they say. The Avadhuta remains where he is, taking whatever chance may bring. You must not think, “Let me also be like that, so I will be in the highest state of Sattva”. No. Sattva should manifest of its own accord. It should be born of realisation. So, if you try to realise and then remain an Avadhuta, it is all right. But if you try to imitate the Avadhuta, all your progress will come to a stop. If you say, “The Avadhuta is like that; I will also lie like him naked and still”, it will not do. Then you will find yourself in a very unenviable situation. The Avadhuta is in a high state of consciousness, like the Ashtavakra-Gita consciousness. You are nowhere near that state. So, keep your discrimination and enquiry always in a very alert state.

    Connection Between Nutrition Intake and Mental Moods

    It is now clear that this great aspect of Tamas, inertia, has to be overcome by Sattvic activities. Sattvic activity is the only thing to counter Tamasic laziness, lethargy and indulgence. Therefore, do Nishkama Karma Yoga, serve your Guru, serve the saints, serve the elders, serve your parents, serve the sick people. Then there will set in the biggest purification. Sattvic activity will kill all idleness, inertia. Long ago, Vivekananda said that the real malady of this nation was due to this Tamo-Guna; all the masters were deeply sunk in Tamas. So, a wave of vigorous Rajas had to be made to sweep through the entire country; then alone it would become fit for higher things, it would become fit for Sattvic awakening and all that. Tamas is due to ignorance, poverty, backwardness, illiteracy, disease, malnutrition and a low state of health where the mind also becomes too weak to make any effort, because the body condition affects the mind. Nowadays in the West, they have made a valuable discovery that nutrition has got a direct connection with the mental state, with the mind and its moods. If the diet is not balanced and essential ingredients like vitamins and minerals are not there, then the mind of the person gets into various states of abnormality and subnormality. That person is no more normal and he thinks that he has perhaps become a mental case, a psychotic; but no, it is purely biological. The whole basis of this mood-change is biological. For, when the body is set right, is brought to its proper level by balanced diet—sometimes they give even therapeutic doses of the lacking vitamins and lacking nutrients—immediately the person becomes a changed personality. His whole thinking changes, his mentality changes. So, there is also a great deal of connection between nourishment and the mental condition.

    India is very backward in this type of research. Now they have tried to borrow this knowledge from the West and tried to build upon this new knowledge. Though a lot of light seems to have been thrown upon this subject in ancient Ayurveda, in the Ayurvedic approach to human health, we lost all that when those old things were discarded as superstition and useless and unscientific and no good. What the ancients had given to us, that we lost through contempt for our own literature. We became ashamed of it, we thought that it was some indulgence in superstition and foolishness. And whatever new knowledge there came from the West, that did not reach the masses who were steeped in illiteracy. When the British withdrew, illiteracy was about 82% in this land; 82% of the people did not know how to read and write. Only the remaining 18% were literate and they too were given the literacy so that they could serve as office staff, serve in the government machinery as clerks and typists and assistants. So, the whole thing was an unfortunate phase when we were neither there nor here. We lost our ancient heritage and gained nothing from the new knowledge from the West and so backwardness set in. It is only now, some thirty-five years after Independence, that there is more of give and take between the West and the East. A great deal of scientific knowledge that they have acquired in the West they are willing to share with the backward countries and India is benefited along with others. But yet, we have a long way to go.

    So, a great deal of study has been made in the West on the connection between nourishment and the mind. Much has to be known, much has to be gained through the Western research and investigations and advancement in these fields of knowledge. So, inertia can come through improper diet, imbalanced diet. But then, inertia can come through illness also; inertia can come through various other factors also. Therefore have the great ones said: “Dharma Artha Kama Mokshanam Arogyam Mulam Uttamam”. For any attainment—Dharma, Artha, Kama or Moksha—the main basis is health; health is of paramount importance.

    Nishkama Karma Yoga as a Purificatory Process

    Thus, in order to counter the inertia aspect of the Tamo-Guna, side by side with the practice of Yama and Niyama, one has to engage oneself in vigorous, dynamic, selfless Seva. And that is the only hope. That is the redeeming feature of Rajas—Rajas, when it is properly directed, when it is governed by Sattva, not bound by selfishness. But if the whole activity is governed by Tamas and Rajas, governed by sensuality and selfish desire, bound by the desire to accumulate, the desire to enjoy, that does not relieve us from Tamas. It only makes us go further and further away from God and our goal, whereas, in Nishkama Karma Yoga Seva, though the activity is of a Rajasic nature, it is activity of the spiritualised kind, where we think that by serving man we worship God indwelling man. Therefore our activity is directed towards God, through the human being whom we serve, and therefore, that activity, that Rajas, becomes completely infilled with Sattva. So, it is Sattva-based Rajas that is the power, that is the driving force behind the Nishkama Karma Yoga, where it completely overcomes the Tamas. The Karma Yogi has no desire for sensual indulgence. Karma Yoga establishes self-restraint and self-control in the individual. And thus established in self-control, establishing in the higher Self, established in love for the Supreme, established in selflessness, the Karma Yogi has no desire for accumulation, no desire for personal gain, no desire for any sensual enjoyment. Then, such selfless dynamism, such Sattva-grounded Rajas, becomes the force to liberate the person from the inertia aspect, the lethargy or laziness aspect, of Tamo-Guna. Thus, Yama and Niyama and Nishkama Karma Yoga of an idealistic type or noble type help to destroy Tamas.

    Then, when we go on to the Rajasic aspect, it must be noted that Rajas works in man by way of a desire to be always active, to be always occupied, to be always doing something. Why? In the normal man this urge actually becomes turned in a selfish direction, in the direction of sense-indulgence. Whereas, the Sadhaka tries to restrain these urges. So, the Rajas in the Sadhak gets bottled up as he controls his senses and tries to have self-restraint and live a very strict, disciplined life. And this bottled-up Rajas creates a great deal of agitation. And the Sadhak is always prompted to engage in some sort of activity, miscellaneous wandering may be—wanting to go to Kurukshetra or Rameswaram or Badrinath or Kedarnath. Otherwise he wastes his time going here and there, gossiping and chit-chatting. Something he has to do. When the Sadhak is trying to go above and beyond Tamas in all its aspects, these urges can become serious obstacles. It is in this context that Nishkama Karma Yoga becomes all-important. In Nishkama Karma Yoga, the bottled-up Rajas finds a positive and purposeful outlet. In Nishkama Karma Yoga, Rajas is coloured by Sattva. Nishkama Karma Yoga purifies. The proportion between Nishkama Karma Yoga and Antaranga Sadhana will go on varying, go on shifting, as one progresses in his Sadhana. At one point in your journey on the spiritual path, your Nishkama Karma Yoga may be 75% and your Sadhana may be 25%. Then it may become 70% and 30%, then it may become 65% and 35%, and further on, the emphasis may gradually shift to more spiritual practice and lesser Karma Yoga; but all this shift and change will be over a period of time. You cannot hurry, and gradually, when you advance highly in Sadhana, Karma Yoga might come down to 50% and other Sadhana may be 50%. Still later, Antaranga Sadhana may go up to 60% and Karma Yoga come down to 40%. This process goes on until the Sadhak becomes well advanced in his Antaranga Sadhana and Karma Yoga gets reduced to a minor role in his total Sadhana. So, it is an evolutionary type of progress, and not a drastic evolution at that.

    And Rajas—well, it has to be with you all the time as you go on in the spiritual life. Yet, a time comes when you have to face Rajas as an adversary and try to have the Sadhana to overcome it. In the body, Rajas is in the form of restlessness, a desire to be moving always; and in the mind, it is in the form of Vikshepa, of Chanchalata. Why? Because, there is this Rajo-Guna in the Prana, in the Pranamaya Kosha. And because of this ceaseless agitation of Rajo-Guna in the Prana, the Prana is not in a state of harmony, but is in a state of uncontrolled activity. And mental activity and Pranic activity, the Chitta and the Prana, are interlinked and inseparably interconnected. So, when Prana moves, it puts the Chitta or the mind-stuff into movement too. Therefore, Vikshepa can never be overcome, the oscillation of the mind can never be overcome, unless you have first brought about a degree of discipline in your Prana, a degree of regularity in your Prana. Therefore, the great sage Maharshi Patanjali, the great Yogacharya, has given us the last two phases of Bahiranga Yoga as Asana and Pranayama. Out of these two, he has given us Asana to bring about a state of steadiness in the body so that the body becomes absolutely motionless, thus overcoming all the urge to restlessness and miscellaneous movement. At this point, it may be necessary for us to reiterate the fact that the science of Hatha Yoga as expounded in the Siva Samhita and the Gheranda Samhita does not constitute the Asana of Patanjali Maharshi, the Asana of the Raja Yoga type. The Asanas of Siva Samhita and Gheranda Samhita belong to a different category altogether. Their objective is different, their entire purpose is different. They constitute an elaborate science having a different aim and objective which has a direct connection with the upward movement of the hidden Shakti, the subtle body of the Sattva, the Shakti which we call Kundalini, the individualised aspect of the Cosmic Power which resides at the base of the spinal column. So, the Hatha Yoga Asanas, Pranayamas, Kriyas, Mudras and Bandhas have something to do directly with the Kundalini Shakti in man. These Hatha Yogic Asanas and Kriyas are so designed as to bring about the ultimate uniting of the Prana and the Apana and the rousing of the inactive sleeping Kundalini into a state of awakening and activity. So, that is a different science altogether, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Asana which is the third Anga of the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali; and neither do the various Pranayamas of Hatha Yoga have anything directly to do with the Pranayama which is the fourth Anga of Patanjali’s Yoga Darshana, the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali. This you must grasp.

    Philosophy, Phychology and Practice of Yoga -- | Preface | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 |17 | 18 | 19

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