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Sivananda World News: The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, Sivananda Headquarters, Val Morin, Quebec, Canada

Om Namah Sivaya, Greetings from the Headquarters. At Yoga Camp, the eve of the New Year started with best wishes to all then chanting of the liberation mantra, Tryambakam. We then started a new year with a week workshop on meditation and positive thinking with Narayani from Montreal. Based on her experience and the teaching of the Gurus she shared with us different technique to help to calm the mind and improve the concentration to attain more clarity and stability of the mind. The Yoga Camp hosted our New Year guests with a workshop on relaxation and rejuvenation. Many people decided to take the time in the early year to explore relaxation a little more in order to reduce stress. Baghirathi, a long-term staff member from Montreal Centre, presented the tools and explanation of what is a good relaxation with a lot of humour and lightness, then she put the theory into practice by guiding a long relaxation of 45 minutes. Next, a short closure of the Ashram facilitated the staff to focus a little more on their own Sadhana by increasing group practices. Every day, after the morning asana, the staffs worked on different karma yoga projects all together. They shoveled more than 3 feet of snow all over the Ashram, including the roofs of the buildings. A complete and deep cleaning of the kitchen gave back a brand new look to the machines. And finally, the work done in the entrance of the registration building continue to progress. Regularly, staff was ended their day by chanting chapters of the Bhagavad Gita and focusing on the self-study.
Once the Ashram reopened mid month, Divya covered different subjects such as the basis of the Five Points of Yoga, but also developed more deeply the importance of the repetition of the mantra. The work of the new entrance at the registration building continued. The new shoe rack and coat rack were installed. Meanwhile, a snowstorm beaconed more karma yoga for our dear staff. They kept shoveling all around the Ashram and the neighbourhood like Uma’s and Sita’s. At last, the Headquarter staff was able to continue the transcribing project of Swami Sivananda books, as well as Swami Vishnudevananda’s photo scanning project. We saw the departure of several of our staff to India. Bhavana, Radha, Laskmana and Cudala have each been placed in different Ashrams and Centres throughout India to deepen their knowledge and practice with the unique experience that India can give. We wished everyone a wonderful stay in the land of Yoga. May the Grace of Master and Swamiji bless you all. Om Shanti.

Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India

Namah Sivaya to all. We wrapped up 2018 with a devotional celebration of Swami Vishnudevananda-ji’s birthday with a Guru Puja and traditional Kerala feast for lunch, then a lively mandolin and mridangam performance in the evening, before seeing in the New Year with Om Namo Narayanaya chanting and a reading from Swami Sivananda. The Yoga Ayurveda Cultural Program finished on 1st of January with a colourful Bharatnatyam performance. We then focused on preparations for the large 173 student January TTC. The roof top of the Sita Kaveri dorm became a spacious temporary dorm with fans and lights in addition to the corrugated roof and cement sheet walls, to accommodate the increase population of students which occurs this time of year. The TTC teachers, Nagaraj ji, Vijay from Delhi and Sandeep from Gudur arrived along with a good number of assistants, including translators. The initiation and Ganapathy Homa the following morning opened the TTC course. Various meetings with students and assistants helped orientate everyone regarding the do’s and don’ts, understand the assessment system and allocation of karma yoga. Nataraj led the 2 pm lectures, Nagaraj ji the Bhagavad Gita classes, Vijay and Sandeep the chanting classes and hatha yoga. Girija from Geneva supervised the karma yoga. Translation was provided for Farsi, Japanese, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi. The first week of TTC, students, yoga vacationers and staff all had the opportunity to enjoy an excellent Sitar Mridangam performance, a Kanya Kumari trip and a Kaliparra silent walk. We welcomed Padmavati to assist with the Yoga Vacation courses over the coming 6 months and Swami Bhagavatananda from Orleans Ashram, for a few weeks of Ayurveda treatment. Neelkanth and Karoona joined staff for a few months whilst the Costa Rican workstudies moved on. Annapoorna Chaitanya and Uma left for the Sadhana Intensive at Madurai whilst Suresh, Dina and Alev left for TTC at Gudur, Suresh to teach the TTC while Dina and Alev participate. May Master and Swamiji bless them all in their endeavors.
Mid January a Yoga Vacation batch finished and another started, but many didn’t leave so we reached our highest capacity for the season so far, using Agastya Hall for an overflow of men and the roof of Sita Kaveri dorm for overflow of women. As well as the Yoga Vacation program, people were attracted to the Ayurveda treatments, particularly panchakarma for which the Sivananda Institute of Health had a waiting list. The Ashram offered a twice monthly Gita chanting for Ekadasi. We all enjoyed a colourful and lively Bharatnatyam performance from the Trivandrum Gayatri School of Dance group. They also performed Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi traditional dance forms from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh respectively. We welcomed Jodi Tull who arrived to conduct the Finding Your Voice program. The TTC students began their teaching practice and also the A&P classes with Nataraj. Saturday saw a quick cleaning of the new Hanuman Kutir in an airy position two floors up from the office block in order to accommodate Prahlada ji who made a flying visit including an inspiring Satsang between Sadhana Intensive graduation and ATTC inauguration at Madurai Ashram. Gripson went to be staff at Chennai for a few weeks. Radha, Omkari, Kailash left for a few days off before heading to Madurai Ashram for ATTC. Luba went to Sri Lanka for sorting out her visa. Many staff attended the beautiful marriage of long time staff Radha teacher’s daughter, which took place locally and saw the feeding of well over a 1,000 with the traditional extensive Kerala feast. The full moon energy certainly created a lot of activity. May Master and Swamiji continue to bless all with inspiration for staying on their spiritual path. Pranams to the Sivananda family. Om.

Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India

Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. The Ashram is now closed for the winter season. Nevertheless, it will not be a quiet off-season. The plans are for the deconstruction of the Kailash building with a complete overhaul. This will be the first of a series of construction projects to take place over the coming two years, modernizing and improving the facilities of the Ashram. With Swamiji and Master’s blessings may this go smoothly. Om Namo Bhagavathe Sivanandaya! Om Namo Bhagavathe Vishnudevanandaya! May Swamiji and Master’s blessings be with all. Om.

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Om Namo Narayanaya. The end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 accentuated the birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vishnudevananda ji. We began the day with Guru Puja at Kali Temple the vibes of which carried on by non stop chanting of Swami Vishnudevanandajis name, concluding with a special evening Puja. This was followed by preparations for ushering in the New Year that included setting up of a bonfire in the open space behind the Satsang Hall. A long bamboo pole was erected which was covered with dry palm leaves and hay. As the time closed in towards midnight all the guests and staffs gathered and lit the pile turning the night into day. It was also a most welcome activity on account of the drop in temperatures during night. In the celestial company of stars and moon we all welcomed 2019 with hopes and prayers of having a blessed year ahead. The year started with the readying of Ashram for the Sadhana Intensive course. We gave a warm welcome to Swami Sivabhaktananda ji and Swami Narayanananda ji, both of them here to be part of the SI program. Our Acharya Prahlada ji also arrived to teach the Sadhana Intensive course and oversee the inauguration of the 39 aspiring Sadhakas, initiated under the blessings of our Masters.
A beautiful Ganapathi Homa was offered for the Sadhana Intensive course and the students are steadily getting into the mood of the course under the guidance of Prahlada ji. With each passing day the students traversed through different strata of their body and mind by the control of breath, the quintessential aspect of every Sadhana. The gradual upgradation of experiences from gross to subtle to more subtler levels occurred with the disciplined practice and lifestyle of the SI. Also, the evening readings from Srimad Bhagavatam were inspiring not only for the Sadhana students but also for the vacationers and staff. It is believed that if one listens to these readings they will be delivered of all their sins and shall be granted salvation, Moksha. All the more reason for listening to it. We “went green” in January with the assistance of the SI students as they planted saplings in the contiguity of paddy field, initalizing a hedge as these plants grow healthy and bushy. We had Devi Puja at Kali Temple to propagate the Goddess and to uplift the energy levels. All at the Ashram enjoyed the serene and blissful atmosphere around. With Master and Swamiji’s grace, we were very happy and grateful. Namaste. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA

Happy New Year from the Ranch! By the Grace of the Gurus, life in the Ashram went very well in January. We were so pleased to have more than 100 participants in our special New Year’s Eve Satsang. Sankara Namboodri, our Ashram priest, led an uplifting Guru Puja in honour of Swami Vishnudevananda’s birthday. This was followed by incredible music and chanting from Rabbi Zoe B. Zak, Prem Sadasivananda, and Dileep Kumar. Swami Paramananda led a retreat on “Vital Living: Pranayama,” guiding guests through breathing techniques to support their asana practice, as well as manage stress and increase positivity. A New Year’s Detox Retreat was led by Lesley Majzlin, a Karma Yogi from New York City. Participants cleansed and renewed the body and mind with yoga, sauna relaxation and the ancient practice of fasting on kitchari. We were happy to welcome two new karma yogis, Terri and Annelli, for our work study program. Four students participated in Yoga Immersion Week for Beginners course, led by Siva. The course introduced the 12 basic Sivananda asanas, pranayama, and meditation techniques, while instilling the discipline to create a home practice, improve flexibility and foster a greater ability to cope with stress and find inner happiness. Swami Paramananda led two Satsangs on the topic of Empowered Living: Introduction to Vedanta. Guests explored how to apply the teachings of Vedanta in daily life, and how to transform perceptions and experiences. We were also very pleased to have Madhavi (Molly Birkholm) guiding guests through a program called Deep Relaxation with iRest Yoga Nidra. Participants learned how the practice of yoga nidra can evoke deep states of rest and relaxation and were guided through several of these guided meditation techniques. We were also very happy to welcome a new karma yogi, Kanti Devi, who will be serving at the ranch for 3 months.
Mid January saw chilly temperatures dropping to single digit Fahrenheit! We stayed warm through our committed Sadhana plus a busy schedule of uplifting programs. The week kicked off with a Warriors at Ease Creativity Retreat, taught by Madhavi (Molly Birkholm) and Swami Paramananda. A mix of veterans and civilian participants were brought together for a week of personal reflection, transformation and growth that included yoga, iRest Yoga Nidra, Vedanta lectures, and creativity practices. Participants had a deep immersion into the Yogic practices. In addition to two daily Satsangs and yoga asana classes, they attended daily workshops on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Most of them were first time guests to a Sivananda Ashram, and all left highly inspired, hoping to return to the Ashram as soon as they can. Meanwhile, Bharata led a workshop on Yoga for Back Care. Participants learned the essential principles of Yoga for Back Care and how to adapt asanas for improved postural alignment. We also included a retreat on The Art of Positive Thinking, led by Swami Paramananda. Participants examined the nature of their thoughts and learned to transform them, making way for a calmer mind and better relationships. Additionally, several guests participated in a Yoga for Beginners Weekend Retreat, during which they were introduced to the twelve basic Sivananda asanas, pranayama and meditation techniques. Pranams to all from The Ranch. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA

Om Namah Sivaya. Wishing all Acharyas, staff, and students a brilliant New Year, filled with strong Sadhana, joy, and progress towards our Self Realization! The welcome the New Year we completed our resolves workshop, focusing on overcoming the obstacles and maintaining a spiritual diary. The New Year’s celebration included a bajan concert with Uma Reed and her son and a beautiful Krishna Puja conducted by Swami Vasishtananda. Guests and staff wrote their resolves on paper to offer during the Puja. The Puja finished a few minutes before Midnight, allowing chanting of Om Namo Narayanaya and passing into 2019 in meditation. Sparkling apple cider and snacks followed, with toasts to the new year. Morning Satsang on New Year’s Day featured each staff and guest opening the Sivananda Upanishads to receive their personal message from Master for the upcoming year. As always, everyone received exactly the inspiration they needed for their Sadhana. Starting the year right, our now traditional New Year’s 5-day juice fast and detox began, led by Rudra. Swami Jnaneswariananda started a positive thinking course for staff, looking at the teachings and applying them to common challenges of staff life. Krishnadas led our weekly Garden Party on the 1st January where we planted two blueberry plants and prepared for planting another five, all donated by Mahadevika. We held an Ayurveda Massage and Rejuvenation weekend with long time Sivananda teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner, Ambika, plus a weekend Beginners’ Yoga, led by Anandi. Clear skies gave way to rain and wind, so guests were happy to spend time by the wood stove with Ayurvedic tea. Once the break in the rain appeared it was time our monthly permaculture service day. Seedlings from the green house were transplanted. Swami Dharmananda left for teaching the Yoga Health Educator Training in Vietnam and Swami Adiparashaktiananda returned from Vietnam. We offered a 5-day course on Manta and Tantra with Swami Vasishtananda. Students were inspired by Swamiji’s wisdom and knowledge sharing from ancient scriptures and texts. We had a Permaculture Introduction with Krishna Das. Staff and guests participated in nature walks and spent time planting seedlings in the greenhouse. Later in the month we had lots of rain which helped to saturate the land with water after many months of drought. We are all feeling the blessings of Master and Swamiji.
Om Shanti to all Blessed Selves from the Yoga Farm. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas

Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. In January 2019 the Yoga Retreat rang in the new year with many events. We welcomed the new year and celebrated both the graduation of the December Teacher Training Course and the birthday of Swami Vishnudevananda, all set to the dulcet backdrop of musical duo Mirabai Ceba. To begin 2019 (and shake off some of the sleepiness from the late night!), we greeted the first sunrise of the year with sun salutations on the beach, led by our priest, Krishnan Namboodiri. Another highlight was a series of Satsangs and informal Q&A sessions with Swamini Svatmavidyananda Saraswati, who joined us from the Arsha Vijnana Gurukulam. She taught from the Mundaka Upanishad, focussing in particular on the tale of two birds. Swaminiji presented these highest teachings in a manner that was accessible to, and loved by, vacationers, staff, and students alike. We looked forward to welcoming her back to the Ashram next season! Other programs included workshops on Yogic Tools for Stress Management with Pranava Chaitanya, a series of workshops with Arjuna on topics ranging from an art tour to the Power of Chanting Om, and painting workshops with guest artist Mavis Gewant. While the families and holiday-goers returned to their homes, we welcomed 76 new students for the Teacher Training and Advanced Teacher Training courses. They eagerly integrated into the Ashram community, delving into their studies. The 10-day New Year’s Detox and Juice Fast, led by Manu Dawson, was inaugurated. Karma yogis and vacationers learned about the power of positive thinking in a weekend course, led by Surya.
Mid January had the celebration of Ayappa Puja, led by our priest, Krishnan Namboodiri. Swami Brahmananda presented the teachings on the meaning of this ceremony. Celebrants left the Satsang Hall full of inspiration and delicious Prasad. We welcomed Swami Tattwamayananda to the Ashram. Swamiji is the minister overseeing the Vedanta Society of Northern California in San Francisco. In his inaugural visit, he gave a series of evening Satsangs entitled The Journey to Immortality According to the Kathopanisad. Morning Satsangs consisted of Srinivasan presenting Foundations of Raja Yoga. The focus was on the ethical foundations: the Yamas. Arjuna taught workshop attendees about Asana and the Four Yogas, while Pranava Chaitanya gave an introduction to the Bhagavad Gita. Sanatani taught about the basics of detox so that participants would learn how to bring the practice to their homes. Guest artist Shimshai joined us to present workshops and concerts in a unique style that incorporated sacred chant with musical styles from around the world. May all continue to receive the blessings from Master and Swamiji. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria

Om Namah Sivaya. Swami Durgananda returned from Orleans to Reith for the New Year’s programs. It was a colourful and joyful week with a variety of topics for the lectures and asana workshops with the Swamis, continuation of the Ayurveda lectures and consultations with Dr Chandrika, snow walks, delicious noon snacks and powerful satsangs. The New Year’s evening program included a lively theatre play on Narada and Maya, celebrating Swamiji’s birth day with personal reminiscences, OM Namo Narayanaya chanting and the birthday cake. A spiritual highlight was the Bhagavata Saptaha with Sri Venugopal Goswami and musicians, which included a magnificent New Year’s Nada Yoga concert. To the great joy of everybody Swami Kailasananda came specially om Orleans for two Vedanta lectures. We wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France

Om Namah Sivaya. 2019 started in a very auspicious way with the celebration of the New Year’s Eve and Swamijis’ birthday. Life gave us a beautiful evening with a feast and a special birthday cake. Swami Kailasananda’s presence and words uplifted everyone. The big Sivananda family danced, accompanied by Alina’s piano. The theater play about Kanyakumari was very humourous and inspiring. After the play, we walked around the Ashram with fire torches and chanting Om Namo Narayanaya. Many guests stayed the week following, joined by some others. The positive energy of the big Christmas group carried through to the TTC, starting on the 5th of January, with more than 70 people at the Ashram. Kailas went to London to stay there for some time. Swami Kailasananda went to Reith for a few days but returned to welcome the TTCs. Swami Nityananda arrived with her to support the Ashram during the TTC. Narayana gave the lectures for the program “Yoga for Stress Reduction” to a motivated group of guests. Swami Bhagavatananda focused on finalizing the new brochure while Narayana assisted her. The staff was inspired from a talk on the topic of Karma Yoga, given by Narayana. The Ashram inventory was completed in January. Mahati, the Ayurvedic consultant, left after a successful holiday season at the Ashram. There was the inauguration of the TTC with a group of 38 students. The TTCs seemed very motivated. They chanted the Jaya Ganesha on their first day as if it was the last day of the TTC, with powerful prana. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam

Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram. As 2019 approached Swami Adiparashakti returned to the Yoga Farm and Swami Narayanananda took a well deserved break by doing Sadhana Intensive at the Madurai Ashram. After the high times of the New Year celebrations, all departments of the Ashram welcomed the SYHET students for their third residential module of 15 days. The frantic translations into Chinese and Vietnamese of the SYHET-3-Manual book came to completion with the huge folders received by students. Swami Dharmananda arrived from the Yoga Farm to assist teaching the module 3 of the SYHET VN course. A beautiful Guru Puja was conducted for the initiation day. The 29 students expressed how they started to see therapeutic situations since that last module and how they were ready to learn more techniques in order to fulfill this new found health and healing mission. We welcomed to the Ashram Lila Lolling and Narayanji who are some of the teachers who will be teaching in this module. During the first few days of the session, Swami Sitaramananda reminded everyone of the Yoga Health Educator role, the therapeutic relationship tenets, also why observances and non-observance of Yamas and Niyamas would impact health. She also reminded the students the cultural, religious and family impact on health choices. Lila Lolling started right away to introduce the topics of adapted Yoga, Yoga and the spine, Yoga for the back, Yoga for trauma, neuroplasticity, Yoga and the nervous system, Yoga to manage chronic pain, Yoga for arthritis and joint pains. Students specially enjoyed the special role play class on how to teach Yoga to the deaf and blind. They blindfolded themselves and enjoyed their experience of being deprived of one of the senses. They also went through many hours in role play, exercising how to develop Yoga protocols to fit back pain, joint pain, and chronic pain conditions. Furthermore, we enjoyed the presentation of Vietnamese, Dr. Diep, on cardiovascular diseases. Everyone measured their blood pressure, blood glucose level and their body-mass index. Health awareness is high. Swami Sitaramananda gave a Satsang at the 5th anniversary of the Dalat Centre in the city, half an hour from the Ashram. In a short 5 years, the Centre grew very quickly. Swami Dharmananda, Saraswati and Sivashakti also went to Dalat Centre to participate in the event, along with a group of Japanese Yoga Vacations guests. We welcomed Yamuna and Machiko from the Shojiko retreat in Japan as well.
As January continued the Ashram was still very busy with the SYHET Course Module 3 as students followed a rigorous schedule of 10 hours a day of study and practice. They attentively followed the intensity of the course, being inspired. Lila Lolling introduced them to the nervous system disorders , Yoga for balance, and Yoga for epilepsy. Swami Dharmananda introduced Chair Yoga protocols and accessible Yoga adaptation of postures for people of all conditions as well as the therapeutic application of deep relaxation training (Yoga Nidra) for therapeutic recovery. Dr. G.Sharma, who arrived from India, taught about endocrine system disorders, diabetes and digestive system disorders and Yoga’s 5 points for management of health. Narayanji presented conditions affecting the circulatory system, including heart diseases, hypertension and about respiratory conditions, including asthma. We were amazed in a short time on how the students learned so much about these different health conditions and how Yoga helps. They became more proficient at looking at the bodymind- spirit complex under the lenses of the 5 Koshas and to use the 5 Points of Yoga and 4 Paths of Yoga as methods to help people recovering their health. Swami Sitaramananda continued to train SYHET participants on how to help people to go to the root cause of ailments, how to make this work into a Sadhana in itself and how to help suffering people by applying Yamas and Niyamas in their life, also how to recognize the scope of Yoga Health Educator practice and the signs of referral to other medical professionals. Extensive case studies and exercises in intake/assessment, with real cases volunteering to be assessed, we a highlight, thanks to the guests of the Ashram. One man testified how after 11 days at the Ashram he was able to reverse his diabetic and hypertension conditions. Another guest, and sister of a staff member, testified of complete remission of cancer and hepatitis B after a 2 months and half at the Ashram (including TTC). Meanwhile, the Ashram continued to run nicely with reduced staff, hosting a Beginners’ Yoga course, as many senior staff were taking SYHET. The seva study and the staff continued with Ashram duties, cooking, cleaning, welcoming, teaching and attending Satsangs.
By mid January we completed the inspiring SYHET Module 3 course, with all students passing their exam. We had a nice Puja and feast celebrating the hard work of the students. We featured more classes on Restorative Yoga, Yoga for Depression, anxiety and stress, metabolic disorders, digestive disorders, endocrine system, circulation and respiration disorders, and yogic protocols for common ailments such as insomnia, headaches…We thanked Dr. G Sharma, Narayanji, Lila Lolling, Swami Dharmananda for their contribution to the SYHET Health Educator Course. The construction of our new buildings on the premises of the Ashram developed nicely, extending our capacity. By the grace of Gurus, all is well in Dalat Ashram. May the Light of Atman shine on all and restore harmony, health and self knowledge in all! Staff are well and inspired to have the opportunity to serve Swamiji’s mission in Asia. Om

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Raja Yoga

Discourse IV: Kaivalya Pada- On Realization
‘If one mind could perceive another, then there would be cognition of cognition, as well as confusion of memory.’

The mind can neither perceive itself nor perceive another mind, for if this were the case there would be complete confusion of the knowledge and memory of the different minds. The mind is but an instrument; all knowledge comes from beyond it.

From Discourse II: “Sadhana Pada – On Spiritual Disciplines”
“When negative or harmful thoughts disturbs the mind, they can be overcome by constant pondering over their opposites.”

The yogi is ever alert, watching his mind. When he sees useless thought waves arising, he immediately replaces them with positive thoughts, thus creating new mental habits that are conducive to spiritual growth.

When you are free from attachment to all external objects, the mind will be at peace. – Sri Swami Sivananda

Bhagavad Gita Quote

Chapter XI: The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form

(Arjuna speaking to Krishna)

Thou art the primal God, the ancient Purusha, the supreme refuge of this Universe, the knower, the knowable and the supreme abode. By Thee is the Universe pervaded, O Being of infinite forms!

Renunciation alone can make you fearless and happy. – Sri Swami Sivananda


PRAKRITI – the primordial creative force
Prakriti refers to a primordial creative or natural force; the natural or original intended state of something or of an individual’s being. The term is derived from the Sanskrit pra, meaning “beginning,” and kriti, meaning “creation.”
Prakriti is composed of three gunas (elements):
Rajas – Creation
Sattva – Preservation
Tamas – Destruction

The three gunas give movement to the force of Prakriti in the world, allowing modification and change to that which is primal and original in nature. Prakriti is considered to be a feminine, creative energy. Its counterpart, Purusha, is the masculine energy.

VICHARA – the enquiry into the real nature of things.

Vichara results in Viveka or discrimination between the real and the unreal.
Atma Vichara is a yogic practice that involves analysis or inquiry into the Self. The term comes from the Sanskrit, atma, which means the “self” or “soul,” and vichara, meaning thought, deliberation” or analysis. Atma Vichara is one of the main practices of Jnana yoga, or the yoga of knowledge.

Vichara results in Viveka or discrimination between the real and the unreal. It helps the aspirant to sift the true from the false. Swami Sivananda asserts that without cogitation, the Truth cannot be known or realized. Vichara sharpens the intellect and leads to the discernment of the Truth that lies behind the phenomenal universe. Swami Sivananda suggests that the spiritual aspirant should practice Vichar.
The justification for this method of Vichara or enquiry is contained in the saying, “As you think, so you become”. By constant reflection on the Reality behind the appearances, the seeker attains oneness with the Reality and becomes that Reality itself.

ATI-PRASNA – a transcendental question

The question, “Why has God created the world?”, is an Ati-prasna question.

The Mind generally plays this trick of asking ‘Ati-Prasna’ during the initial stages of practice of vichara. As Swami Sivananda states, these ati prasnas, or transcendental questions, are questions that are beyond the scope of human mind and intellect. There can’t be a suitable explanation for these questions within the scope of humanity’s words and ideas. Generally, the Mind plays the vichara by showing few ati-prasnas without a solution within its domain and hints that vichara is not much use. However, the key is to get over these open ended questions like this and continue ahead on one’s path. The Ati-Prasna hints to the sadhaka there is a greater phenomenon than life on Earth and to search for the Truth that lies behind the phenomenal universe.

When you are free from attachment to all external objects, the mind will be at peace. – Sri Swami Sivananda