Sivananda Yoga FAQ
Q 1: Does purity of food lead to purity of mind?
A: Yes, purity of food leads to purity of mind. Aharasuddhau Satvasuddhih. Take a dose of champagne and sit for meditation. Take a dose of orange-juice and sit for meditation. You will know the difference. Different foods exercise different influences on different compartments in the brain. By taking champagne, meat and garlic, the mind will be confused and will become restless when you sit for meditation. By taking milk and fruits, you will get good concentration. Our Rishis lived on fruits and milk. The Chhandogya Upanishad says, “Pure food leads to purity of mind and then one attains Moksha”. You should have dietetic discipline. Non-vegetarian food is not Sattvic. It is not good for a seeker. Live for a month on milk and fruits and see. Give up meat for one month and see. Let us be practical. Practical experience will tell you that meat-eating is bad for the mind.
Q 2: Why should I–the Brahman, I–the Cosmic Consciousness, the Existence without another, the Infinite, the All-pervading and the Omniscient, at all project Prakriti? Why must I be bound by the laws of Prakriti and be limited by the phenomena of time, space, causation and substance, and above all, why must I get involved in this process of evolution and involution?
A: The eye cannot perceive itself. A man cannot stand on his own shoulders. Even so, all enquiry into the Ultimate Cause, the causeless Cause of all creation, is first confronted with a formidable wall of primordial ignorance. He who annihilates his ego to nothing at this point, and who thus obtains the grace of Isvara, gets through this wall and enters the Kingdom of the Infinite. Then he knows. But this knowledge cannot be communicated to others, as this great wall is obstructing others from perceiving the Truth. Therefore the ancient sage termed it an Ati-prasna or transcendental question. Suffice it to know that God has created this world in order to enable you to evolve and realize the Self, in order to serve all and love all as His manifestations. The dacoit of ignorance has kidnapped man from his palace of Self-awareness and brought him to a thick forest; when the man wakes up, he does not brood over how he came there, but tries to get out of the forest. Even so, the earnest Sadhak tries to break the chain of transmigration by attaining Self-realization.
Q 3: If God ordains all, it is impossible that I can kill or steal, unless He wishes to punish my victim through me. The victim’s Karmas have fructified and it is necessary that he should die, etc. If he does not get killed, the whole structure of this creation falls through. I am therefore brought in contact with the victim to carry out His behests. An executioner is paid by the Government for doing his job. Even so, why should I not be rewarded for carrying out His will, rather than be punished for doing the Papa Karma? Hitler could not have brought on war and killed so many persons. It is idle to blame him.
A: God is all and He alone does everything; and yet, when man feels that he is the doer, he is also the experiencer of the rewards and punishments consequent upon his actions. It is to be remembered that evil is possible only in the state of individuality or Jivahood or egoism and not when one is God-realized, God-inspired or when one is an instrument in the hands of God. The Jiva cannot think that it is expected to kill a victim and that this is sanctioned by the Will of God, for the Jiva is not omniscient and cannot know what exactly is the Will of God, unless it is raised to the state of being in tune with God. No Jiva should fall into the misconception that it is meant to exhaust the Karmas of the victim by killing the victim. This foolish act will react upon the person who commits the action and the result will be intense suffering to the person responsible for this deed.
God does not directly speak to any Jiva and say that it should kill or steal, and if the Jiva falls into the error of committing these actions, it alone is responsible, and not God. There is no such thing as God’s directing an individual to perpetrate evil, commit murder or indulge in any kind of violence or do anything which is against others’ well-being. All such misdeeds are the outcome of ignorance and delusion and one who does these is punished by retributive justice. Divine activity is always a movement towards freedom, perfection, peace and bliss, and it will not be in any way a cause of even the slightest suffering or pain.
Do not keep money. Money will slacken your dispassion, weaken your will and hinder your spiritual progress. – Sri Swami Sivananda
15 Vishu (Malayalam New Year)
16 Full Moon
30 New Moon
03 Akshaya Titreeya (Vamana Incarnation)
Adapt yourself to your surroundings and environments. You will enjoy peace and strength. – Sri Swami Sivananda
PRANAYAMA – Mantra During Pranayama
The Mantra for repetition during the practice of Pranayama is laid down in the Isvara Gita: “When the aspirant holding his breath repeats the Gayatri thrice, together with even Vyahritis in the beginning, the Siras at the end and the Pranava, one at both ends of it, this is, what is called the regulation of breath.”
Yogi Yajnavalkya, on the other hand, declares thus: “The upward breath and the downward breath, having been restrained, regulation of breath is to be practised by means of the Pranava (!) with due regard to the unit of measure of the Mantra.
This repetition of the Pranava alone, is meant for the Paramahamsa Sannyasins. It has been declared in the Smritis, that ordinary contemplation is to be practised, through the inhalation and other stages of breath-regulation at one’s navel, heart and forehead, with reference to the forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva respectively. For the Paramahamsa however, the only object of contemplation has been declared to be Brahman. “The self-controlled ascetic is to contemplate upon the supreme Brahman, by means of the Pranava,” declares the Sruti.
Exercise No. 1
Sit on Padmasana. Close your eyes. Concentrate on Trikuti (the space between the two eye-brows). Close the right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale slowly through the left nostril as long as you can do it with comfort. Then exhale very very slowly through the same nostril. Do twelve times. This is one round.
Then inhale through the right nostril by closing the left nostril with your right ring and little fingers and exhale very slowly through the same nostril. Do twelve times. This is one round.
Do not make any sound during inhalation and exhalation. Repeat your Ishta Mantra during the practice. In the second week of practice, do two rounds, in the third week, three rounds. Take rest for two minutes when one round is over. If you take a few normal breaths, when one round is over, that will give you sufficient rest and you will be fresh for the next round. There is no Kumbhaka in this exercise. You can increase the number of rounds according to your strength and capacity.
Exercise No. 2
Inhale through both the nostrils slowly and gently. Do not retain the breath. Then exhale slowly. Do 12 times. This will constitute one round. You can do 2 or 3 rounds according to your capacity and strength and time at your disposal.
Exercise No. 3
Sit on your Asana. Close the right nostril with your right thumb. Then inhale slowly through your left nostril. Close the left nostril with your right ring and little fingers and open the right nostril by removing the right thumb. Exhale very slowly through the right nostril. Then draw the air through the right nostril as long as you can do it with comfort and exhale through the left nostril by removing the right ring and little fingers. There is no Kumbhaka in this Pranayama. Repeat the process 12 times. This will constitute one round.
Exercise No. 4
Meditate that the single letter, the Supreme light—Pranava or OM—is the origin or source of the three letters A, U and M. Inhale the air through Ida or left nostril for the space of 16 Matras (seconds), meditate on the letter ‘A’ during that time; retain the air for the space of 64 Matras, meditate on the letter ‘U’ during the time; exhale through the right nostril for the space of 32 Matras and meditate on the letter ‘M’ during that time. Practise this again and again in the above order. Begin with 2 or 3 times and gradually increase the number to 20 or 30 times according to your capacity and strength. To begin with, keep the ratio 1:4:2. Gradually increase the ratio to 16:64:32.
Strive with faith and single-minded devotion. You will come out victorious in the end. – Sri Swami Sivananda