Systems of Yoga

Self Realisation Ramana Maharishi

The misinterpretation of true knowledge was discussed to be the primary reason, complete self realisation does not take place. The main systems of yoga that we will discuss, are such strong reflections of the truth(only strong reflections, as absolute truth is only experiential, it cannot be reflected or projected), that these are the systems through which all spiritual practice systems can be understood. Here they will only be explained briefly and will be elaborated later in the blog.

There are four principle systems of Yoga.

1. Raja Yoga

The literal meaning of ‘Raja’ is ‘Royal’. Emphasis here is given on the cessation of the disturbances of the mind. Rishi Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras dating back at least 300 B.C. compiles a very precise mode of 8 limbs with clarified instructions on the path of yoga. The physical yoga that most people understand to be yoga (Asana) is one of the 8 limbs of Rishi Patanjali’s Yoga. These comprehensive instructions are followed by most teachers of yoga, though the detailed requisites are so elaborate that in a modern social arrangement it would be close to impossible to completely observe. The primary objective described by Rishi Patanjali is Chitta Vriti Nirodha, Cessation of the disturbances of the mind. Raja Yoga is a very complete system of practicing yoga and is followed at least in part by most sects. practicing yoga in India.

2. Jnana Yoga

Jnana translates to knowledge. This form of yoga is the path of knowledge, wisdom, introspection and contemplation. It involves deep exploration of the nature of our being by systematically exploring and setting aside false identities. This must not be confused with finding rational answers to eternal questions as that is not a possibility. Converting intellectual knowledge into practical wisdom is part of Jnana. Shankara and Ramana Maharishi are the pioneers of this form of Yoga. Non Dualism (Advaita) is the basis of Jnana yoga, this was the foundation of the understanding of Unity consciousness that under all of existence lies one most subtle unified entity we call Brahman. The essence of Shankara’s philosophy was “Brahman-the absolute existence, knowledge and bliss is real. The universe is not real. Brahman and Atman(man’s inner self) are one.” – Vivekachudamani. His definition of ‘real’ was that which neither changes nor ceases to exist. No object, no kind of knowledge, can be absolutely real if it’s existence is only temporary.

3. Bhakti Yoga

This is the path of devotion, love and surrender to the divine. All the actions done in Bhakti Yoga are done in context of remembering the divine. This enables the practitioner of Bhakti Yoga to build a very strong emotional bond with the god that is being constantly remembered. Here great care needs to be taken that the principle that one is worshiping is the supreme principal that is all pervading and eternal. This form of practice would be dangerous if one is worshipping an ego created false principal that does not have eternal qualities. The practice of Bhakti Yoga breeds selfless love and compassion. One of the greatest and most well known texts of the ancient Indian culture “The Bhagwat Gita” has a primary pre requisite of devotion. ‘Gita’ literally translates to song and is the song of Bhagwan Shri Krishna, understood as the most illustrious being. He sang this song to devoted friend and disciple Arjuna, who was in a state of despondency and was asking Bhagwan Shri Krishna to solve his problem of ‘right or wrong’.

4. Karma Yoga

This is the path of renunciation. Karma is the total sum of all our actions, mental and physical. The path of Karma Yoga was also prescribed in the Gita. It is understood to renounce action, does not mean to not perform any action, but to perform action without the desire for any fruit from the action. This path leads to selfless service and transcendental action.

There are a large variety of yoga practices that stemmed from the Vedic and Tantric scriptures and knowledge. All these yoga practices applied in part, the yogic systems briefly described above. ‘Yoga’ is life itself and it’s practice is the path of self realisation.

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