Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga (Sanskrit) Royal union; more generally, the balance of all the faculties — physical, mental, moral, and spiritual. Raja yoga is a true system of developing psychic, intellectual, and spiritual powers and union with one's higher self, the inner divine source of all our being.

This royal union with the self within must be attained by self-directed evolution. Union with this inner divinity is the source of all human genius and inspiration. Man increases his receptivity to the divine powers in his inmost being by cooperating with nature on its spiritual even more than its physical and astral planes, and by intellectual and spiritual aspiration combined with a fervent love for all beings.

Raja Yoga is the Yoga that makes use of the powers of the mind and the will. They purposefully overcome the basic tendency of the mind to go outward and then control and overcome it fully and divert the flow of thoughts within. They make it turn inward and arrest the ceaseless, restless mind-stuff and make the mind-stuff concentrated and direct the concentrated mind towards the ideal that is to be realised. Then, this concentrated mind thus directed towards the ideal through continuous practice, is made to flow in an unbroken stream of concentrated thought upon a single idea. When it reaches this state, it is characterised by the state of meditation and the meditation becomes deep and intense. The last vestige of non-discriminating knowledge of oneself as some one in connection with the phenomenal ego, gets erased and that one attains the state of pure discriminating knowledge when one knows of oneself as being truly distinct and different and apart from all the objects of perception, all that is Prakriti, all that is non-self.

Also known as ashtanga yoga, "eight-limbed yoga." The classical yoga system of eight progressive stages to Illumination as described in various yoga Upanishads, the Tirumantiram and, most notably, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

The eight limbs are as follows.

  1. yama: "Restraint." Virtuous and moral living, which brings purity of mind, freedom from anger, jealousy and subconscious confusion which would inhibit the process of meditation.
  2. niyama: (Sanskrit) "Observance." Religious practices which cultivate the qualities of the higher nature, such as devotion, cognition, humility and contentment- giving the refinement of nature and control of mind needed to concentrate and ultimately plunge into samadhi.
  3. asana: "Seat or posture." A sound body is needed for success in meditation. This is attained through hatha yoga, the postures of which balance the energies of mind and body, promoting health and serenity, e.g., padmasana, the "lotus pose," for meditation. The Yoga Sutras indicate that asanas make the yogi impervious to the impact of the pairs of opposites (dvandva), heat-cold, etc.
  4. pranayama: "Mastering life force." Breath control, which quiets the chitta and balances ida and pingala. Science of controlling prana through breathing techniques in which lengths of inhalation, retention and exhalation are modulated. Pranayama prepares the mind for deep meditation.
  5. pratyahara: "Withdrawal." The practice of withdrawing consciousness from the physical senses first, such as not hearing noise while meditating, then progressively receding from emotions, intellect and eventually from individual consciousness itself in order to merge into the Universal.
  6. dharana: "Concentration." Focusing the mind on a single object or line of thought, not allowing it to wander. The guiding of the flow of consciousness. When concentration is sustained long and deeply enough, meditation naturally follows.
  7. dhyana: "Meditation." A quiet, alert, powerfully concentrated state wherein new knowledge and insight pour into the field of consciousness. This state is possible once the subconscious mind has been cleared or quieted.
  8. samadhi: "Enstasy," which means "standing within one's self." "Sameness, contemplation." The state of true yoga, in which the meditator and the object of meditation are one.


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