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Spiritual Experiences and Religious Practices
From  Bala N Aiyar

Scientific  Explanations of the message of the Vedas and their principles

Four Yog
02.09. Understanding the four Spiritual disciplines of Philosophy
The Vaidik teachings, as a guide, gave us four main paths for our living and for practice of religion. They are the Karm Yog, Bhakti Yog, Raaj Yog and Gyaan Yog. Of the four Yog, Raaj Yog deals with conditioning, control and development of the body and mind through self-control, concentration and physical discipline. They perform special breathing exercises, meditation and physical exercises. Gyaan Yog or the path of wisdom is the deep study of the scriptures and philosophy. It is the purest form of spiritual discipline with the search for the impersonal reality. In the medieval period many leaders gave us these teachings as simple theories of Spiritual Discipline for daily practice. The Vedaant Philosophy and Dharm Shaastra of Sage Vyaas and explanations by Aachaarya are the basis of Our Faith and Practice. Shankar gave us the A-Dwait theory of "Unity of the Human and Divine Soul" and the Path of Knowledge [Gyaan Yog]. At the same time, he also gave us the rules of worship of God in six forms as in Aagam for daily practice. Shree Raamaanuj gave us a theory that separates the Divine Soul to be reached by prayers through the Path of Devotion [Bhakti Yog]. We have a Path of pious living Meditation and concentration [Raaj Yog] with the Spiritual Discipline. The Path of Action [Karm Yog] was given as the first and early step of the Spiritual Discipline for the uninitiated.

Raaj Yog is the path that leads to union with God through control of mind, meditation, concentration and self-restraint. It teaches control of the senses and thought. It is the analysis of the mind and the exploration of the super-conscious aspect of Reality. A student of Yog must first learn to give up all desires for worldly pleasures and enjoyment. That which is obtained by desires, greed, passion and lust ultimately leads to grief. There are six virtues which are important for everyone to learn to get to the path of Raaj Yog. (1) They must be able to control the mind from wandering in thought and going outward. (2) They must restrain the senses from seeking the worldly pleasures. (3) They must then turn the mind inwards. (4) They must be able to feel the suffering of the body and mind without murmuring. (5) They must be able to attach their mind to a single idea or thought. (6) They must constantly be thinking of one's real nature.

02.10. The Pre-requisites for the Four Spiritual Disciplines
The first three requisites of a person who is practicing Yog are: (1) Purity - physical and mental; (2) Patience; and (3) Perseverance. When results are not obtained, one should not give up their practicing but persist in them patiently. Yam, Niyam, Aasan, Praanaayaam, Pratyaahaar, Dhaaranaa, Dhyaan and Samaadhi are the eight limbs of Raaj Yog. Yam and Niyam are the ethical disciplines to purify the heart.

--Yam are the virtues. It consists of non-injury (Ahinsaa), truthfulness (Satya), abstinence (Brahmcharya) , non-stealing (Asteya) and not receiving gifts conducive to luxury (Aprigraha).
--Niyam is observance. It consists of internal and external purity (Shauch), contentment (Santosh), austerity (Tapas), study of scriptures and recitation of Mantra (Swaadhyaay] and self-surrender to God (Eeshwar Praanidhaan). Aasan (steady pose), Praanaayaam (regulation of breath) and Pratyaahaar (abstraction or withdrawal of senses from their objects) are preliminary accessories to Raaj Yog. They produce serenity and steadiness of body and mind and leads to good health.

Gyaan is taught very clearly in the Bhagvad Geetaa. Shree Aadi Shankaraachaarya, gave this discipline of Gyaan from Vaidik revelation. He unified all conflicting descriptions of Brahm and showed there is only One Infinite Reality. The Dvaitha theories state that the way to salvation is through the mercy of God. To become balanced in all directions is ideal for religion. To love the One Universal Self as the Ultimate with devotion is the Path of Bhakti Yog. To serve this self without attachment is the path of Action, Karma Yog. The path that gives one the power to think, concentrate and meditate on this Self to attain full realization is the path of Raaj Yog. To understand and to behold this Self as the Supreme Reality in all beings is the Path of Knowledge, Gyaan Yog.

Shree Bhagvaan Uvaach :-
mayya veshyo-mano ye' maam - nitya yuktaa upaasate |
shraddhayaa - parayo' petaaste' - me' yukt tamaa mataah ||Geetaa, 12:2||
The Supreme Lord said: I consider them to be the Yogee who, fixing their mind on Me and ever steadfast worship Me, the Manifest, with supreme faith.

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Created by Sushma Gupta on 8/9/09
Updated on 10/02/12