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Sivananda Yoga FAQ

Q 1: What are the methods to develop unruffled serenity and mental composure under all conditions of life? Is absolute serenity possible?

A: Yes. By all means. Consider yourself as dead to the world or the world as dead to you. Develop Atma Vichar Sakti. Identify not with the mind, senses and intellect or with any of the other modifications of the mind. Always be engaging yourself in the thought of the Divine. Have no thought of yourself or the surrounding world. Be absolutely indifferent to yourself, as you ought to be towards the surroundings, the various daily happenings and the worldly repercussions. Knowledge of the Self, when once attained, absolves one of all mental disruptions and psychic derangements. Where there is firm-grounded knowledge of the Self in the spiritual seeker, where there is the consciousness in him that “all indeed is Brahman, Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma” and that he is none other than that Supreme Brahman, and where he understands that all happenings– good, bad or mixed– are but passing phases on the screen of the world, there can never be any ill-balanced mental life. It is the mind that is the sole cause for bondage or Moksha. The mind is the substratum behind pleasure or pain, happiness or misery, success or defeat. Rise above the pairs of opposites by resorting to a Guru and his instructions. Study the lives of saints who underwent various trials and the books by realized souls. Develop the spirit of true surrender wherein you have no thought of body or bodily needs or self-protection even in the slightest degree and wherein you forget the idea of life and death altogether. Serenity is merely mental. Therefore, cultivate mental equipoise by gaining spiritual knowledge.

Q 2: Swamiji, can you please give me some detailed practical hints to get non-attachment in mind in our every action?

A: Think that you are an instrument (Nimitta) in the hands of God when you work. Egoism and respectability will vanish. Don’t expect fruits for your actions (Nishkamya). How can you expect fruits when another, viz., God, is working through you? Further, when you are aware that the world is full of miseries, what is the use of coming back again into the world ? You are a toy in the hands of God. He holds the string. He is the Sutradhar. Do all actions from a sense of duty. Reduce your wants. Lead a very simple life. Hate luxury. Control the Indriyas. Look at everyone and everything in the world as the manifestation of Narayana. Think that this world is illusory and a long dream. How can there be attachment now in the mind, my dear Ramachandra? If you do actions in this way, you will become a practical Yogi. I assure you. Cheer your spirit. Gird up the loins and engage yourself boldly in the daily battle of life.

Q 3: God-realized souls, on leaving the mortal coil, merge in the cosmos and thus do not have any individuality on any plane. However, it is claimed that saints, who have attained Moksha, do help and guide those devotees who seek their blessings. How can we explain this?

A: Realized souls, who wish to help the devotees even after they give up their physical bodies, retain their astral bodies (Sukshma Sarira) for the sake of their eagerness to help those that are in need of their help. But Jivanmuktas, generally, do not retain their astral bodies just in order to help the aspirants, since there will always be highly evolved souls on the relative plane, who will carry on the task of teaching the spiritual aspirants.

Never worry about what other people say or think. Do the right. Have a clear conscience and roam about happily. – Swami Sivananda

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You cannot know the love of God, till you remove your sense of ‘I’-ness, and ‘mine’-ness. – Sri Swami Sivananda


PRANAYAMA – The Vedantic Kumbhaka

Being without any distraction and with a calm mind, one should practice Pranayama. Both expiration and inspiration should be stopped. The practitioner should depend solely on Brahman; that is the highest aim of life. The giving out of all external objects, is said to be Rechaka. The taking in of the spiritual knowledge of Sastras, is said to be Puraka, and the keeping to oneself of such knowledge is said to be Kumbhaka. He is an emancipated person who practices his Chitta thus. There is no doubt about it. Through Kumbhaka the mind should always be taken up and through Kumbhaka alone it should be filled up within. It is only through Kumbhaka that Kumbhaka should be firmly mastered. Within it, is ‘Parama Siva’. At first in his Brahmagranthi there is produced soon a hole or passage. Then having pierced Brahmagranthi, he pierces Vishnugranthi, then he pierces Rudragranthi, then the Yogin attains his liberation through the religious ceremonies, performed in various births, through the grace of Gurus and Devatas and through the practice of Yoga.

The divine light and grace will descend only upon the Sattvic or the pure mind, because only a pure mind can receive it. – Sri Swami Sivananda