Narach Philosophy

THE YOGA SYSTEM


After the Mimansa comes Yoga, based on the character of the intellect. The word Yoga has a number of meanings in Sanskrt; but it has been specially defined by the author of this system as consisting in the control of the activities of the mind; and it object is said to be to produce wholeness or harmony of life, and to reduce pain to a minimum.

The reference to the control of the activities of the mind is significant, for it can be exercised only by what is higher than the mind, namely, the intellect, which is the basis of this system. We have observed that the Mimansa is based on the character of ahankara or the I-as-an-actor; but its last chapter deals with the problem of sex, life, as a part of creative action; and that is specially associated with desire or the activity of the mind, and needs to be properly regulated and controlled. As the intellect is higher than both mind and ahankara, we are thus able to make an easy transition from Mimansa to Yoga.

The problem of Yoga: We have seen that Nyaya and Vaiseshika deal chiefly with the problem of knowledge, while the Mimansa is concerned with that of action. Yoga attempts to integrate both knowledge and action, and to give us an idea of wholeness or harmony of life, by means of which all pain can be reduced to a minimum.

Sankhya and Yoga: The removal of pain is the chief problem of the Sankhya too, and it examines the relation of knowledge to action at considerable length, for it too partakes of the character of the intellect, and lays special emphasis on discrimination, an attribute of the intellect, as a means of securing freedom from pain. But its object is more to amplify than to integrate the different points of view of knowledge and action; and so it comes to the conclusion that there is no joy in life, and a man can attain his end only by means of renunciation of all actions. It admits, however, that a person must act so long as he lives; but he should do so sparingly, till gradually all action comes to an end, and he is made free. Action, according to the Sankhya, is thus a necessary evil, and not a necessary good.

The point of view of Yoga is not exactly the same. As it attempts to integrate knowledge with action, it lays equal emphasis on both, and stresses the importance of knowledge as well as action. It points out that there is a measure of joy in life, and explains how great and good things can be achieved in the world by means of this integration. But it also believes that a time must come at last when all action comes to an end; and so a total cessation of action must still be regarded as the ultimate end of life.

The idea of God: Yoga also takes us a step further towards the idea of God. The Sankhya, as we have seen, dispenses with His necessity; but it has no objection to the existence of a God who is like a liberated soul, having nothing whatever to do with the world: only such a God can be of little use to man.

The Nyaya makes a passing reference to Isvara or God, but regards Him more as a spectator of things, unable to provide or to prevent the result of actions.

The Vaiseshika refers, not to God, but to an Unseen Power, which plays an important part in the manifestation of extraordinary things; while the Mimansa tells us of gods or the great forms and forces of Nature, which are both seen and unseen, and without which no great action can ever take place.

Yoga takes up the Sankhya idea of God, as corresponding to that of a liberated soul, but points out that He has an important place in our life, and we can attain our goal by devotion to Him. Thus we have in Yoga what may be called a personal God; but it does not say that He is a creator in any real sense of the term.

Evolution of ideas: Yoga is thus a further stage in this scheme of thought, but has a great deal in common with the Sankhya. Indeed, as the Bhagavad Gita tells us, there is little difference between the two systems; but their conclusions are not identical, for their points of view are not the same. Yoga recognizes the importance of action, though it gives an equal or perhaps even a higher place to knowledge; and so paves the way for the final conclusion of Vedanta. That system, as we shall see, attempts to evolve a perfect harmony between knowledge and action; and includes all ideas of creation, by Prakrti or an Unseen Power or the great forces of Nature as well as a personal God in its conception of Brahma, who is both personal and impersonal, and combines Purusha and Prak.rti into, one. Indeed, as we have observed, Prakrti itself is transformed into God by being associated with the idea of Sacrifice, and so becomes Sat-chit-ananda goodness, intelligence, and joy.

The plan of the work: The Yoga system is divided into four chapters; and the whole work follows an integrated plan, being of the nature of a discussion.

In the first chapter the author gives us the meaning of Yoga and its implications, and goes on to discuss each of them separately. This is continued in the second chapter, where we are also told of the eight means of attaining to Yoga, five of which are examined in this chapter. The remaining three are examined in the third chapter, which also tells us of the many powers that can be acquired by means of Yoga. In the last and fourth chapter the author explains how the soul can attain to freedom from the bondage of life. The text may now be summarized as follows:

Yoga and the problem of life: Yoga consists in the control of the activities of the mind. There are five such activities, some of which cause pain and some do not; and it is necessary to understand them.

It is also necessary to understand the idea of restraint, freedom from desires, soul, life and its purpose, and God; and that will enable us to remove the obstacles that distract the intellect, and attain to calmness of mind by understanding the behaviour of the mind itself. That will make for wisdom and a state of samadhi, where knowledge leads to righteous action, and even beyond this, where there is no action at all.

The meaning of Yoga: Yoga consists in the control of the activities of the mind; and it is only when a person is able to see things in their proper light, that he may be said to have been established in his real nature, and to understand himself.

Different kinds of activities: Activities are of five kinds, which cause pain as well as do not cause pain. They are (i) means of acquiring knowledge; (ii) misapprehension; (iii) doubt; (iv) slumber; and (v) memory.

The means of acquiring knowledge are sense-perception, inference, and the sacred books; misapprehension is false knowledge; doubt arises from following the meaning of words without understanding their real idea; slumber is a state of unconsciousness, when there is no sensation of any kind; and memory is the power of retaining a thing that has been perceived.

Restraint: A person can restrain his activities by means of repeated practice and freedom from worldly desires. Repeated practice is secured by means of effort; and when it is put forth assiduously, gently, without interruption, and for a long time, a person becomes firm in his restraint.

Freedom from worldly desires: A person becomes free from worldly desires, when he becomes conscious of his power to control all kinds of desires. But higher than the freedom from desires for objects is the freedom from desires for their attributes; and that is attained when a person perceives his own soul.

The soul: The nature of the soul can be understood by means of reasoning, reflection, joy, and the idea of consciousness. One means of the knowledge of the soul is the cessation of all kinds of effort; and another is the residue of impressions of previous actions.

Life and its purpose: Those who believe in Prakrti maintain that all things will be dead in the end. But there are others who believe that, before that happens, there are many things to achieve, faith, heroism, memory, harmony of things, and wisdom; and all these can be attained by all kinds of persons, only if they desire to be free from the violence of passion; and all can do so by means of devotion to God.

God: God is a special kind of Purusha or Soul who is untouched by thought of pain, action, and its result. He is omniscient, and there is, no one like Him. He is not limited by Time. His idea is expressed by means of the sacred syllable Om, and can be understood by means of its silent repetition. After that a person can understand his own soul, and all obstacles in his path disappear.

Obstacles and their removal: The obstacles which distract the intellect are disease, idleness, doubt, negligence want of energy, incontinence, perception of false idea, in stability, and looseness of conduct. Pain, despair, trembling of the body, and breathing in and out are linked up with these distractions; and the remedy against them is the constant practice of Truth.

Calmness or joy of mind is obtained by means of universal friendliness, compassion, sympathy in joy, and indifference to the objects of pleasure and pain, good as well as evil; and also by means of regulating the in-coming and out-going breath.

The manner in which the mind behaves depends on the nature of its activity as directed towards the objects of the senses; but the pure activity of the mind is without a sorrow; and the mind that is free from desire for its object is free from sorrow too. Or this state may be attained by means of the knowledge of dreams and sound sleep; or it may arise from meditation; and the power of such a person extends to the infinitesimally small and the infinitely great.

Wisdom and the vision of reality: When a wise mar is established in this state, and his worldly desires come to an end, his mind shine like a jewel, and is unaffected by anything. But when a man is perplexed by doubt, he falls into a state of confusion and uncertainty. But all uncertainty disappears when the memory is purified, when the form of a thing drops, as it were, and only the reality is seen.

It is in this manner that we can understand the real nature of all things. But this state of samadhi or intense contemplation contains the seed of future actions. The soul attains to a state of serenity when it has experience of that which lies beyond the range of thought; and in such a state knowledge leads to righteous action; and its impressions can blot out all other impressions. But when even this is destroyed, there arises, because everything has been destroyed a state of contemplation which is without the seed of any future action.