Sivananda Yoga FAQ
Q 1: If we are tools in the hands of God, are we not free?
A: Man becomes free only when his individual will becomes merged in the Divine Will. Licentiousness and autocracy must not be mistaken for spiritual freedom. By becoming a tool (Nimitta) in the hands of God, the Bhakta destroys the egoism or the little false ‘I’, but gains all the Divine Aisvarya or the Siddhis of the Lord. He becomes perfectly free. He has become one with God now.
Q 2: What is the easiest way for concentration?
A: Japa of the Name of the Lord. And a very important point to bear in mind in this connection is that perfect concentration is not achieved in just a day; you should never despair and give up your efforts. Be calm. Be patient. Do not worry yourself if the mind wanders. Be regular in your Japa; stick to the meditation hour. Slowly the mind will automatically turn Godward. And once it tastes the bliss of the Lord, nothing will be able to shake it.
Q 3: How does a Jnani look at material objects?
A: This is indescribable. This is one’s feeling. Sometimes when you sleep, you scratch the body and drive off flies. If anybody asks you, “Do you remember the scratching, the driving off of flies, when you were asleep?”, you will say, “No”. Similarly, even though a Jnani sees, he does not see. He is always conscious of his Svarupa. If he likes, he can have a double consciousness and turn his vision that side and this side also. His activities are like those of children. Owing to the mental retention, the force of the old Subha Vasanas and the Lesha Avidya or trace of ignorance, his activities are kept up. Just as the tin in which asafoetida or garlic had been kept emits the smell of these drugs even though the tin is washed several times, this trace of Avidya remains in the Jivanmukta till Prarabdha wears away. He is not doing actions at all from his own viewpoint. The bystanders think that the Jnani also is working. But we have to admit that there is Lesha Avidya or a trace of ignorance, because we notice that the Jnani also eats, bathes and answers calls of nature.
Fasting is a great Prayaschitta. It expiates any kind of sin quickly. – Sri Swami Sivananda
01 Full Moon
A spiritual seeker’s attitude should not be narrowed down by any kind of distinction, be it of class, religion, caste or colour. – Sri Swami Sivananda
HATHA YOGA: Ha – the energy of the Sun, masculine energy, active energy; Tha – the energy of the Moon, receptive energy, cool energy. Yoga (Yuj) – union; the union of universal consciousness with individual consciousness.
Hatha Yoga is a systematic course of exercises, dealing with Shat Karmas, Asanas, Pranayamas, Mudras, Bandhas and exercises on concentration and meditation. Hatha Yoga is a path toward creating balance. Hatha Yoga is like the tortoise that supports the World. It relates to the restraint of breath (Pranayama), Asanas, Bandhas and Mudras. ‘Ha’ and ‘tha’ mean the union of the sun and the moon, union of Prana and Apana Vayus. ‘Hatha’ means any tenacious practice till the object or end is achieved. Trataka, standing on one leg, (a kind of Tapas) and similar poses are all Hatha Yoga practices. Hatha Yoga is inseparable from Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga begins where Hatha Yoga ends. Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga are interdependent. Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga are the necessary counterparts of each other. No one can become a perfect Yogi without a knowledge and practice of both the Yogas. Hatha Yoga prepares the student to take up Raja Yoga.
A Hatha Yogi starts his Sadhana with body and Prana; a Raja Yogi starts his Sadhana with his mind; a Jnana Yogi starts his Sadhana with Buddhi or intellect and will.
A Hatha Yogi gets Siddhis (psychic powers) by uniting Prana and Apana and by taking the united Prana-Apana through the six Chakras (Centres of spiritual energy) to Sahasrara at the crown of the head. A Raja Yogi gets Siddhis by Samyama, i.e., combined practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi at one time. A Jnana Yogi exhibits Siddhis through pure will or Sat-Sankalpa. A Bhakta gets Siddhis through self-surrender and the consequent descent of grace. Kriyas, viz., Neti, Dhauti, Nauli, Basti, Tratak and Kapalabhati belong to Hatha Yoga. All need not practice these Kriyas. Those who have got much phlegm in the body should practice these Kriyas. Learn these under an expert Hatha Yogi. Hatha Yoga is not the goal. It is only a means to an end. Take to Raja Yoga after possessing good health.
Do Asana, Kumbhaka, Mudra and shake the Kundalini. Then take it to Sahasrara through Chakras in the Sushumna. O children of light! Will you drink not, will you drink not, the nectar of immortality?
Brother! Attain good health. Without health how can you live? Without health, how can you earn? Without health how can you get success in Yoga or any undertaking? Possess wonderful health through the practice of Hatha Yoga. Drink the nectar in Sahasrara and live in the immortal abode of Siva.
No Hatha Yoga, no success,
Not Hatha Yoga, no Samadhi,
Not Hatha Yoga, no health,
Not Hatha Yoga, no Veerya,
Not Hatha Yoga, no beauty,
Not Hatha Yoga, no long life.
– Sri Swami Sivananda
You are in the hands of God. He holds the string. He is the Sutradhar. – Sri Swami Sivananda