Sivananda Yoga FAQ

Q 1: What is the difference between Japa and meditation?

A: Japa is silent repetition of the Name of the Lord. Meditation is the constant flow of one idea of God. When you repeat Om Namo Narayanaya, this is Japa of the Vishnu Mantra. When you imagine the conch, disc, mace and lotus flower in the hands of Vishnu, His ear-rings, the crown on His head, His yellow silken Pitambar, etc., this is meditation. When you think of the attributes of God such as omniscience, omnipotence, etc., this is also meditation.

Q 2: A Vritti arises: “Let me renounce the world and do Bhajan in a secluded place like Rishikesh”. 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: A world-minded person can hardly hear the inner voice of Atma. He also cannot get pure thoughts of Vichara. Any Sattvic thought emanates from the Sattvic Buddhi. In the case of world-minded people, all thoughts emanate from the mind only. One 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.

Q 3: Why does not the benevolent, kind and all-merciful God help the righteous man and give him happiness? Why does He leave him to the mercies of his Purva Karma?

A: Karma is likened to the wheel. It has to work out; because the force that set it in motion has to be spent. It is a cycle of action and reaction. Just as the arrow once discharged from the bow cannot be withdrawn, even if the hunter feels that he has aimed at a wrong target, Prarabdha Karma, the fruit of those Karmas performed in previous births that have come up for experience in this present birth, cannot be annulled. How then does God help His devotee? The all-merciful God does help His devotee by strengthening his will-power, his power of endurance, to bear the Karma-Phala with a cheerful countenance. The devotee is certainly not left to the mercy of his Purva Karma; he is beautifully clothed in the protective shield of His grace. Just as in the worst winter and violent storm, you remain unaffected in your own house and in your warm clothing, the devotee (though to the onlookers he is poor, sick or suffering) does not feel that he is suffering at all and is ever happy and blissful in His remembrance.

Use your mind as a filter. Watch. Do not allow any useless thought to enter the mind. Filter all useless thoughts. – Swami Sivananda

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Keep your heart tranquil, pure and empty of desires or thoughts. – Sri Swami Sivananda



A thought-wave; mental modification; mental whirlpool; a ripple in the chitta.


The energy of the mind.

Do not tell anybody except your Guru, the realizations and the visions and other experiences that you get during your Sadhana. – Sri Swami Sivananda