This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004
(click to enlarge)
Yoga: Liberation, Transformation, Health & Healing
Dr. V S Elamurugan,
Professor & Head, Department of HRD
Bannari Amman Institute of Technology
Value of Yoga:
Yoga is a science of life to develop the sixth sense to its fullness and to enable and equip man to enjoy peaceful and blissful life. It is essentially an art of understanding all about the soul, which is only the life-force and realising its relationship with the body, the society, the world and the Universe, maintaining its harmony and finally getting it merged with the Universal soul. In other words, Yoga is a systematic psychic practice to improve awareness, to develop will-power and to realise the Self to metamorphose the character so that it can be in tune with the Self and the society and to put an end to the birth-cycle by merging with the Almighty. Yoga is a complete process of perfection of man by developing his personality so that he may reach his ultimate goal, thereby fulfilling the purpose of his birth.
Five Layers of the Body:
The human body is a valuable and peculiar structure a labyrinth of various systems. Solid, liquid, fire, air and energy (Ether or Akash) are interlinked and inter-woven. A system of working order is continued from one birth to another through the semen-cells which are the hereditary link in the evolutionary process. The functioning speeds of the five layers solid, liquid, fire, air and ether are different from one another, and all of them move in relationship with the attractive force of the Earth. Liquid moves faster than solid, fire moves faster than liquid, air moves faster than fire, and ether moves faster than air. All are circulating in the system in a complex but perfect order. As all the five layers are inter-linked, if one of them gets disturbed or obstructed, the others also would be affected, according to the intensity of the disturbance. When any such obstruction, diversion or exhaustion occurs, the life-energy is the strongest layer, having the best capacity to regulate the functions by removing the obstructions in other layers.
Maya and Gnana:
The stagnation of the soul in the embodiment of man is called Maya (Illusion). When man develops the force of his mind and self-awareness and achieves success over the stagnation and reaches the ultimate goal of the Infinite that is the state of perfection of the mind. Leading the life in the light of perfection of realisation that state is called Wisdom (Gnana).
In the forgetful state, the soul succumbs to emotions frequently and errs again and again. By the force of needs, habits and environmental conditions, the activities of the soul continue in the beaten track because of old imprints; and thereby the attachment with worldly materials becomes deeper and deeper day by day. These imprints of the activities of a man, which lead to pains and miseries, are not conducive to the free journey of his soul, as they obstruct or delay its spiritual advancement.
Purpose of Yoga Liberation:
For the liberation of the soul, (i) the attachment with material enjoyments should be neutralised and full satisfaction (contentment) should be achieved; and (ii) the impressions of Sins should be obliterated. In order to attain these two, Soul-Consciousness is imperative.
Yoga provides all the facilities and opportunities for improving the esoteric awareness to get satisfaction with worldly enjoyment and also to obtain detachment and obliterate the impressions of Sins by streamlining the activities of the mind. The benefit of Yoga does not end with the development of Soul-Consciousness alone. While we are engaged in cultivating this esoteric awareness, we should not relegate the well-being of the physical body to a secondary place. For maintaining the physical body in the proper state, two conditions have to be fulfilled. They are (i) to satisfy the needs arising from appetite, changes in atmospheric conditions and excretory forces of the body; and (ii) to guard against the malfunctioning of the human system, the enmity of other living being and natural disasters. For the fulfilment of these conditions, one has to understand the Law of Nature, the pattern of the society in which one lives and the sentiments of the individuals constituting the society. Yoga will help man in the performance of all his duties in harmony with the Law of Nature and the sentiments and conventions of the society, enable him to lead a successful life and to achieve satisfaction and peace by sharpening his intellect, cultivating constant awareness and strengthening the will, streamlining the mind and moralising the behaviour. As the functions of the mind and the body are inter dependent, it is imperative that equal attention is paid both to the spiritual and the material aspects of man. Yoga provided all benefits in both the fields. Therefore Yoga is a well-balanced and perfect process for success and peace in life.
The character of man is conditioned by two layers of imprints of deeds and experiences. One layer is the imprints caused by all the deeds from the date of his birth up to the present. This is called “Prarabda Karma” (present-life imprints). The other layer is that of hereditary imprints. This contains all the imprints derived from numerous generation-from parents and their ancestral links down the evolutionary process. This is called “Sanjitha Karma”. Any new thought or action emerging in man from his previously conditioned character is “Akamya Karma”.
If man is to avoid misery and pain and enjoy satisfaction, harmony, happiness and peace in life, the Akamya Karma should be transformed through Self-awareness, and Realisation of Consciousness. Only Self-Realisation can deliver mankind from its age-long suffering. Self-Realisation is not in theoretical understanding, it has to lead to real intellectual and emotional purity through virtuous deeds and systematic psychic practice. This is done by gradually divinising the soul and turning the sixth sense inward to its sources.
Purpose of the Birth:
The purpose of the birth of man is to develop knowledge to its fullness for experiencing the joy of satisfaction and peace. In the process of developing knowledge, material comforts are also necessary to maintain the body in proper condition. The span of life of man is limited. If he spends most of the time in undergoing pains and miseries created by Will, the purpose of birth would not be fulfilled.
For achieving, maintaining and enjoying all these values of life, (1) the individual’s moral behaviour; (2) material prosperity in the society; and (3) realisation of the Law of Nature and its unfailing Cause-and-Effect system, are essential and important requirements. Ignorance, neglect or the absence of even one of these three will result in pains, miseries and disturbances in the life of man to that extent.
Expansion of Mind:
Realisation of Nature is the actualisation of every phenomenon of Nature, both objective and subjective. What is the actualisation of Truth? A clear understanding about the existence of Nature, its state of origin, its force of actions or movements and the results of the actions or movements according to the time, place and the mode of contact of forces with one another is the actualisation of Truth. Knowing the facts of Nature is Philosophy. Implementation of Philosophy for material prosperity and in moral behaviour for achieving a happy, successful and peaceful life is Science. In the zeal for and approach towards material prosperity and in its enjoyment, man tends to become emotional, short-sighted and forgetful of the consequences. Thereby problems and miseries are built up. The Philosophy of Nature will help man to be free of emotion, will make him far-sighted and keep his mind expanded so that he is aware of the consequences. Further it will moralise his behaviour resulting in happiness, harmony and peace in the life of one and all in the society. The sciences aid man to increase material prosperity thereby contributing to living comforts. Philosophy serves man as preventive and curative in the context of the overflow of material prosperity with its attendant adverse effects and as a guideline to regulate his activities in a virtuous way; it develops his knowledge to its perfection and makes life purposeful. Therefore, as wise men have said, Science without Philosophy is blind and Philosophy without Science is lame. Philosophy and Science should go together in coordination in the life of man.
In this the scientific Age, all adults should know the Philosophy of Life so that they may lead an enlightened, happy and harmonious life. Of course, the Philosophy is an ocean of knowledge which includes all the universal secrets of both the objective and the subjective worlds. But when we garner the important and salient points as essence and read, mark and inwardly digest them, the philosophy will become easy and utilitarian in all angles of life.
To control the effects of the disease, we need medication, but, to control the root cause of the disease and also to prevent it, we need Yoga.
Health and Healing:
Yoga has the following effects on the body:
- It oxygenates the tissues better and removes carbon dioxide, thus making the body stronger.
- It rejuvenates the brain and spinal centers, and hence, thinking and reflexes are sharpened.
- It relaxes the lungs and the heart rate and this definitely prolongs life.
- It helps the prevention of the decay of body tissues.
- It is seen to increase the electrical resistance of the body.
- It also reduces the serum lactate levels of the body, and also helps in the control of blood pressure.
Human kind today has forgotten that they are not the body, but are in reality the Atma. They have been given this body to use it only as an instrument to cross the ocean of life to attain eternal bliss. As a result, people are seen wasting time, energy, and talents on trivial things and upsetting their health.
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
There is a fourth dimension to this definition, that is the most vital and the missing dimension, the dimension of spiritual health. Today, this aspect of spiritual health needs great care and cultivation.
Means to Liberation:
As you intensify the practice
Of Meditation and Virtue,
The rearing edge of Ego
Would be blunted progressively;
You would not be adding
To your load of sin-imprints;
And even those in store before
Would be erased gradually.
Truth would come within’
The field of your vision
As the central point
Of your own life-force.
That’s a play of illusion
Which has been reducing you
Would now be dispelled
Once and for all.
This and this alone
Is the means to Liberation.
So ponder this, my friends,
And strive with diligence….
Yogiraj Vethathiri Maharishi