Classical Definition of Yoga

The Yoga Pada of Gurudeva related to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. The goal is to restrain the vrittis. Awareness, I am, the essential nature. Svarupa and vritti sarupa. Restraint through consistent, uninterrupted practice. The greater the interest the greater the benefit. Receiving special blessings, Siva's grace, we make progress. Master Course, Lesson 39.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

Our lesson for the day from Dancing with Siva is Sloka 39.

"What Is the Nature of the Yoga Pada?

"Yoga is internalized worship which leads to union with God. It is the regular practice of meditation, detachment and austerities under the guidance of a satguru through whose grace we attain the realization of Parasiva."

Very concise definition of the Yoga Pada, the practice of yoga as the third stage in Saiva Siddhanta Disciplines. When I read it this morning I was struck with similarities with Patanjali's Yoga Sutras which I thought I'd take a moment to point out.

First, let me just read the first four Yoga Sutras and then I'll read the group which talks about practice.

First Yoga Sutra:

"Now, the exposition of yoga."

Second one, which is the important one.

"Yoga is the restraint of the modifications of the mind."

So, in Sanskrit modifications of the mind is chitta vritti or modifications or that called the vrittis. And the goal is to restrain them. Vrittis are the fluctuations of consciousness, the waves of mental activities of thought and perception.

So what happens when we restrain the vrittis?

"Then awareness abides in its essential form."

Well, that sounds very familiar with Gurudeva's teachings, right? "Awareness aware of itself."

Essential form, svarupa. Beautiful word. Svarupa: The essential form of awareness is where awareness abides when it, when the modifications are restrained. When we calm down the thinking.

"At other times awareness takes on the form of the modifications."

That's called vritti sarupa. Taking on the form of a modifications. Or as Gurudeva says: "Awareness identifies with consciousness." Same thing. Awareness takes on the form of the mind's modification means: Awareness identifies with consciousness. I am happy. So awareness, the "I am" thinks it's happiness. Takes on the form of the modifications. I am happy; I am sad.

So the "I am" is the svarupa, the essential nature.

Then we get into the practice part.

"The restraint of these modifications is achieved through practice and detachment."

Sounds pretty similar to how we started:

Gurudeva says: "It is the regular practice of meditation, detachment and austerities."

Gurudeva added austerities otherwise it's exactly the same.

So, question naturally arises: What is practice, right? Patanjali is saying the restraint arrives through practice. So he goes on to say:

"Practice is the exertion to achieve steadiness in the state of restraint."

Meaning, we can keep the mind from ramifying, from creating all the modifications. We are able to do that fairly well. So, steadiness in the state of restraint.

"This practice becomes firmly rooted when it is cultivated properly and uninterruptedly for a long time."

Shows it doesn't happen overnight, right? We have to keep practicing in the right way and consistently, uninterruptedly and then we make some progress.

Goes on to explain it even further. There's three verses on it. I'll read all three and then I'll go back.

"For those who have strong dedication, samadhi is near."

"Whether one's practice is mild, medium or intense also makes a difference."

"Samadhi may also come through devotion to Ishvara."

The middle one is the most obvious one which is an extension of what we've been saying. "Whether one's practice is mild, medium or intense makes a difference." So, the amount of time we put in to practicing, controlling our thoughts is the major factor. If we put in 5 minutes a day we get a certain amount of progress. We put in 15 minutes a day we get more progress, so forth. But there's more to it than that.

He says: "For those who have strong dedication, samadhi is near."

What does that mean? I'm sure each of you has noticed, in your own way, is that the more we're interested in something the more we get out of it. The more we put into it. In other words, if we really hate math and we study it for 15 minutes, we get so much benefit. But if we love math and we study it for 15 minutes that same 15 minutes produces more result. Because of our dedication, because of our interest in it. So, the more interested we are in something, the same amount of time we put into it. The greater the interest the greater the benefit. So, if we're really inspired about it, we have dedication, then we get the most out of our practice. And if we kind of do it and we're not that inspired then we get the least out of our practice.

"Samadhi may also come through devotion to Ishvara."

Usually when Patanjali's yoga is talked about, the idea of devotion to Ishvara is nicely avoided. Sounds like religion here, right? Devotion to Ishvara. Might have something to do with Hinduism after all.

Very interesting, in terms of Saiva Siddhanta, we call that grace. That the grace of Siva, when we receive the grace or blessings from Siva, special blessings from Siva, can help us make excellent progress. So, it's not just the question of how much time we put in in the practice, how dedicated we are. There's also the factor of grace. We can receive special blessings from Siva, then that really helps us move forward.

There's a nice definition of Ishvara: "Ishvara is a distinct purusha unaffected by the causes of affliction and the effects of ripening stored karma."

So, Siva's beyond all that; Ishvara's beyond all that. Doesn't have any karma to work through which limits us. And then there's certain afflictions or limitations that the soul can experience and He's beyond those as well.

And then Patanjali goes on to say: "In Ishvara the seed of omniscience is unsurpassed."

Isn't that a beautiful statement. "...the seed of omniscience is unsurpassed." Meaning, He's really pretty strong in satchitananda. No one is doing it better then He is. Very solid in His omnipresence.

So that's how Gurudeva's definition and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras relate. It's very interesting, Gurudeva's ideas about awareness and consciousness, awareness traveling and all that is very much reflected right in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras when they're translated in a, with a vocabulary that is consistent with Gurudeva's teachings. Otherwise we can't see it as easily.

Have a wonderful day.

Aum Namasivaya