Sivananda Yoga FAQ
Q 1: If God is beyond the reach of the senses, He should be a non-entity, a mere void, a negative concept, a metaphysical abstraction. Something beyond the senses? How could this be? I cannot believe such things. I am a scientist. I want accurate laboratory proofs.
A: You want laboratory proofs? Very fine indeed! You wish to limit the illimitable all-pervading God in your test-tube, blowpipe and chemicals. God is the source for your chemicals. He is the substratum for your atoms, electrons and molecules. Without Him no atom or electron will move. He is the Inner Ruler, Antaryamin. He is the Niyanta. Without Him the fire cannot burn, the sun cannot shine, the air cannot move. Without Him you cannot see, cannot talk, cannot hear, cannot think. He is the maker of all scientific laws, the law of gravitation, the law of cohesion, the law of attraction and repulsion, etc. He is the law-giver. Bow to Him with faith and devotion. You will have a thorough knowledge of the Science of sciences, Brahma Vidya, through His grace and you will attain Moksha.
Q 2: Why has God created some souls in a pure state and others in a state of cruelty? Why does He make some do bad acts and prevent their becoming good? When can I have perfection?
A: You can have perfection and immortality through long struggle. The mortal in the relative plane does good and evil acts. Evil also is a negative good. Out of evil, sometimes good comes. Everyone learns lessons in this world and evolves. God is only a witness. He does not make men do evil acts. Man has intellect and free will. Man, out of his egoism, does actions according to his own sweet will and reaps the fruits of evil actions. When the Sattvic material or purity increases by practicing virtuous actions, he becomes divine. God is not responsible.
Q 3: A Vritti arises: “Let me renounce the world and do Bhajan in a secluded place like Rishikesh”. Immediately another Vritti arises: “Let me remain as a Grihastha and practice Yoga like Janaka”. How can I know, Swamiji, whether this particular Vritti comes from the Atma or the mind or the Buddhi? I am perplexed.
A: An ordinary worldly-minded man can hardly hear the inner voice of Atma. He cannot get pure thoughts of Vichara also. Any Sattvic thought emanates from the Sattvic Buddhi. In the case of worldlings, all thoughts emanate from the mind only. He who does Nishkama Karma Yoga and has purity of mind begins to entertain thoughts of God. Generally the mind raises various sorts of curious, fantastic thoughts. It deludes all. It may pretend to do Vichar. When it comes to practicality, it will do nothing. If there is serious determination in you to concentrate and meditate, and if you put it into actual practice for months steadily and if the longing for the Darshan of God or Self-realization becomes keen and acute, then alone think that all these kinds of thoughts proceed from your Sattvic Buddhi only.
Love and wisdom are one. – Sri Swami Sivananda
NISHKAMA KARMA YOGA
desire-less action, selfless action. nish: without; kama: desire.
More generally, it means action performed without desiring or fearing the consequences; action performed with indifference to the outcome. It is used to describe the practice of doing actions without any expectation of the fruits (results or reactions or effects).
“In the practice of Nishkamya Karma Yoga, there is no loss of effort. There is no harm.” – Swami Sivananda
Nishkama Karma Yoga is another name for Karma Yoga, which is one of the main themes of the Bhagavad Gita. The practice of Nishkamya Karma Yoga destroys sins and impurities of the mind and causes Chitta Suddhi or purity of the Antahkarana. Knowledge of the Self dawns in a pure mind. Knowledge of the Self is the only direct means to freedom.
In the mind there are three Doshas, viz., Mala (impurities like lust, wrath, greed, etc.), Vikshepa (tossing of the mind), and Avarana (veil of ignorance). Mala is removed through Nishkamya Karma Yoga; Vikshepa by means of Upasana (worship); and Avarana by means of study of Vedantic literature and Jnana. Nishkamya Karma Yoga purifies the heart and prepares the mind for the dawn of knowledge (Jnana Udaya).
The following passage records how Sri Ramana Maharshi once demonstrated Nishkama Karma Yoga:
Mr. Rangachari, a Telugu pandit in Voorhees’ College of Vellore, asked about Nishkama Karma. There was no reply. After a time Sri Bhagavan [Ramana] went up the hill and a few followed him, including the pandit. There was a thorny stick lying on the way which Sri Bhagavan picked up; he sat down and began leisurely to work at it [sic]. The thorns were cut off, the knots were made smooth, the whole stick was polished with a rough leaf. The whole operation took about six hours. Everyone was wondering at the fine appearance of the stick made of a spiky material. A shepherd boy put in his appearance on the way as the group moved off. He had lost his stick and was at a loss. Sri Bhagavan immediately gave the new one in his hand to the boy and passed on.
Love all equally. – Sri Swami Sivananda