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Yoga:Science of self realization

Updated on September 20, 2012

Yoga and Self Realization

Yoga means ‘addition’. For addition you at least need two things. For spiritual purpose, it is addition of ‘me’ to Supreme. So if I have to represent it mathematically it is

‘me’ + Supreme = Yoga -------------(1)

In order to do the addition successfully I have to know the two items which are ‘me’ and Supreme.

This process of knowing of ‘me’, is called self-realization. When I am talking of ‘me’, it is not the body which has to get to an end one day; the ‘me’ is the soul, which unlike body has no birth or death.

Self-realization is the most difficult and important step. Once we are self-realized, we come to a level so that we can understand the Supreme. Once both the quantities on left hand side of my equation is known, doing Yoga or addition, is a primary class student’s job.

Example- Consider a problem, where we have to find X+Y.

To solve this we will have to first find the values of X and Y. So the student reads the problem statement and has to apply various principles, logic, algorithms and theorems, till he finds the value for X.

And also during this process, he finds some equation , which shows the relation between X and Y say X+1=Y.

So after knowing X, finding Y is not difficult, as there exist in mathematical terms a direct linear relationship between X and Y.

May be for finding X, student has to apply graduate or masters level intelligence. But once X is found, finding Y is easy and with known values, X+Y can then be done by primary student as well.

In above example-

X is self-realization

Y is the Supreme realization

X+Y results in Yoga or addition.

Now let’s go a little further, we all know that a problem can be solved in multiple ways or approaches.t (ex-one approach could be long, other short, one could be cumbersome other easy). But the beauty of Mathematics is, till the time we reach correct solution evaluator will give us full points.

Similarly, to do spiritual yoga also there are multiple approaches, which one chooses based on circumstances, one’s temperament, intellect and available resources. All the approaches provide same result.

These approaches can be broadly categorized into four-

1) Gyan Yoga

2) Raja/Dhyan Yoga

3) Bhakti Yoga

4) Karma Yoga

To illustrate-

1) Bhakti Yoga- is the path of love and complete surrender. Loving the Supreme godhead, in such a way that you forget yourself and only remember him , is Bhakti.

Seeing Supreme in oneself and in all the living beings and loving them selflessly is bhakti.

2) Karma Yoga- is the path of work i.e. devoting all your actions and their fruits to the Supreme.

Swami Vivekananda said, ”Shiv gyane Jeev seva”.

Seeing god in own self and all living beings and serving them selflessly is Karma Yoga.

3) Gyan Yoga-is the path of knowledge and logic. It is knowing yourself as one with Supreme and with others. Its aim is attainment of that state of knowledge where there is no difference between a saint and a bandit or a dog, a elephant and a human being. Each barrier of ignorance known as you , yours, me and mine are surpassed by knowledge. The only thing that exists is oneness and unity.

4) Raja Yoga- Many people call it as Dhyan or Ashtanga Yoga. Raja Yoga, uses the body with all its faculties and mind, in its quest of self-realization. Ashtanga yoga, Kriya Yoga,Hatha Yoga all these will be covered in it.

Which one of the above to follow?-

We are all in same condition. Each of us is sitting in a examination hall and our life span is the timer set. Everybody is having question paper in hand with only one question and as we discussed above the most important step, to find the solution is to find out value of X, which is self-realization.

We can follow any of the approaches given above or can even follow a hybrid model wherein we take principles from more than one of above mentioned streams and follow them. Till the time the approach we apply, takes us to correct solution we get marks and pass the exam.

Lord Krishna recommends Bhakti Yoga, as the best way, in Bhagvad Geeta. And the reason behind this is, that it is path of love and devotion. And when a person falls in love, then he or she is ready to do anything and everything in love. In the path of self-realization there are lots of self-constraints and practices , which in other paths can be named as penances or duty but in Bhakti Yoga they are just but small gift to you beloved.

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach. “

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, Sonnets from the Portuguese

“Among the blessings of love there is hardly one more exquisite than the sense that in uniting the beloved life to ours we can watch over its happiness, bring comfort where hardship was, and over memories of privation and suffering open the sweetest fountains of joy.”

GEORGE ELIOT, Daniel Deronda

Having said all about love and Bhakti Yoga, please remember one thing, it does not mean that people following other paths do not reach Godhead. To name a few Gautam Buddha and Ramana Maharshi were Gyan Yogis. Patanjali and Lahiri Mahasaya were Raja Yogis. And Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa were Karma Yogis.

No approach is right or wrong, till it provides legitimate answer. Just like the thumb prints of any two persons in this world do not match, just like there is difference in the five fingers of our own hand, same way each person is different. The approach which may seem cumbersome to you might be easy for somebody else and vice versa.

Just like to earn our living we do different jobs based on our skillset, same way for self-realization we choose approach or their combination based on our temperament and ease.

Which one is the easiest of them?-

Nobel-prize winning Chicago-school economist Milton Friedman is famous for saying, "There is no such thing as a free lunch."

There are lots of pains and trails that a soul has to go through before it reaches the abode of Supreme God. But then everyone must have heard, “no pain, no gain”.

Many people say Bhakti Yoga is a easy way. May be they are right, but then why, the most of the famous love stories tragic? Take example of Romeo Juliet, Cleopatra and Mark Antony in Egypt,Orpheus and Eurydice in Greece, Napoleon and Josephine , Heer Ranjha in India and list goes on.

Consider the life of bhakti saints to name a few Sudama the friend and devotee of lord Krishna, endured so much poverty,the grief of radha rani and other gopis in Vrindavan cannot be described in word, when Krishna left Vrindavan and went to Mathura , Meera bai was given poison by her own husband, bhakt Prahlad’s father always tried to kill him and so on.

By saying all above I do not want to discourage anyone, but only point I want to make is ,do not choose a path because maximum people around you are walking on it or because that looks like a easy way. Choose a path or yoga approach which works as per your temperament and such path once chosen, come whatever may, you will never forsake. Choosing a yoga path suitable to you, is like choosing a career, however lucrative and easy the job may be you will not succeed in it , if you do not have passion for it.

Till now we have discussed, on how to find X i.e. Self-Realization. Now suppose we achieved self-realization, what we need to do next is to find Y which is God Realization.

Surrender is the key to God Realization- Whatever approach you choose whether you are doing bhakti as in love, karma as in activities, gaining knowledge or doing dhayana and asanas surrender onto his feat everything done by you and towards you. Always remember the words of Supreme Lord Head when he is saying-

“Bahunam janmanam ante, jnanavan mam prapadyate,

Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah” [Bhagvad Geeta 7.19]

Which means-

After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders onto Me, knowing me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.

Actual knowledge, is knowing ourselves .i.e. self-realization. Such self-realized persons can only do complete surrender to Lord. Bhakti yoga is easy because devotion is one of characteristics of love. And so as the Bhakti Yogi, proceeds in his path of love and devotion, surrender happens automatically i.e. if we consider our above example of X and Y, in Bhakti Yoga, while finding value of X, Y comes automatically.


The four yogic paths that we discussed here , are like four roads, to start with they may look different from each other but as we near destination they start crisscrossing more often, till at end we realize there is only One path to reach the One(Supreme) and there is no ‘me’ that exist, it is only the One i.e. the destination, the path and the traveler everything merges into one. And that merging is but Yoga.

In the last chapter of Geeta [verse 18.66],Lord has said till here-

“Sarva-dharman parityajyam mam ekam sarnam vraja,

Aham tvam sarva papebhyo maksayisyami ma sucah”

Which means-

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender onto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”

The key to godhead is surrender. All religion ,path or yoga approaches is to attain that state of complete surrender, but once you achieve that state or key ,does it really matter which path you followed?””


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