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)
Liberation and Transformation Through Yoga
Dr. Prayga Sahay & Prof. Vijendra Sahai
Purification of the mind and mental discipline is the rock bottom foundation of yoga. When this is affected longing for liberation dawns by itself. Man sincerely persuing the path of yoga starts feeling transformation of lower nature viz., prana, emotions, mind, intellect etc. Mind is the cause of the bondage and liberation of man. It is liberation when the mind is not attached to any object or any sense organ. We have created our own bondage through our desires, attachments, egoism and cravings. Freedom is in detachment, in desirelessness, in mindlessness. Real freedom is merging in the Absolute.
Freedom is liberation from the thraldom of mind and matter. On this side is matter. On the other side is Pure Spirit. Mind forms a bridge between the two. Mumukshatva is intense desire for liberation. If one is equipped with three qualifications viz. Vivek, Vairagya and Shad Sampat, Mumukshatva will come by itself. The mind moves towards the source of its own accord. Yoga is a long and patient journey. It is a means to reach the state of liberation, that is moksha. Freedom from kleshas or afflictions is Jlvanmukti. It is freedom from ignorance, freedom from confusion. There are three essential conditions of what Sri Aurobindo calls the triple transformation of the soul's complete emergence. The liberation of the individual soul is, therefore, the primary divine necessity.
Purification of the mind and mental discipline is the rock bottom foundation of Yoga. When this is affected longing for liberation dawns by itself. Mind is the cause of the bondage and liberation of man. We have created our own bondage through our desires, attachments, egoism and cravings. Freedom is in detachment, in desirelessness, in mindlessness. Freedom is liberation from the thraldom of mind and matter. Real freedom is merging in the Absolute. Mumukshatva is intense desire for liberation. If one is equipped with three qualifications viz; Vivek, Vairagya and Shad Sampat, Mumukshatva will come by itself. Yoga is a means to reach the state of liberation, that is Moksha. It is a long and patient journey.
Of all the systems of Psychology that we know of today, Patanjali's system of Yoga stands the highest, because of the ease of its practice and its scientific approach to spirituality. Yogic aim is cosmic liberation. Yoga is a method to realize the integral Divine, that Sri Aurobindo calls it 'nothing but practical Psychology'. Sri Aurobindo's integral liberation is the liberation into the Divine, the Supreme Being. Liberation means liberation both of the soul and the nature of man.
In other words, the only way to attain salvation is to acquire self-knowledge, because with the attainment of self-knowledge human beings attain permanent liberation from bondage. This liberation is Moksha. So if we want to be truly free, we will have to be aware and we will begin to discover this awareness as we surrender more and more to our own desire to be free. Thus, a complete liberation is possible only by a process of radical transformation of the entire nature of man.
The integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo assimilates the triple path of the Geeta and aims at physical transformation. Sri Aurobindo believes that there is above all 'the authentic Divine dynamism, capable of transforming human nature and creating a new world order'. Transformation, for Sri Aurobindo, is not moral or spiritual purification. It means a radical, an integral transmutation of human nature. Sri Aurobindo talks about three types of transformations-Psychic, Spiritual and Superamental transformation. There are three essential conditions of psychic transformation. First, there must be a sufficient preparation. For Spiritual preparation a contact should be secured with the spiritual reality. This spiritual transformation is an upward movement of the mind to the higher ranges of Super conscience. This is reached either through the avenue of the mind or through the avenue of the heart or through the avenue of the practical will or through all these avenues.
Secondly, the psychic entity cannot come forward, untill, it has been sufficiently developed. It should be so developed that the soul can effectively impose itself through it and, change the whole rhythm and pattern of living. But this spiritual change will not lead to men's attaining the highest spiritual level unless they supervenes the third and final transformation. This is the transformation by the Supermind, which completes the passage of the soul through ignorance to self-knowledge.
We know that the most integral knowledge of the Real can be obtained by the Supermind alone. The emergence of the Supermind is not possible unless there is a direct descent of it. Sri Aurobindo points out that "for a real transformation there must be a direct and unveiled intervention from above". As a result of the descent of the Supermind there will be a real participation by the individual in the working of the universal energy. Integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo leads to integral realization and finally an integral liberation. Integral yoga is a synthesis of the yoga of knowledge, yoga of devotion and the yoga of work. Thus, the Integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo assimilates the triple path of the Geeta and aims at physical transformation.
Swami Sivananda says, "the yoga of synthesis alone will develop the head, heart and hand and lead one to perfection". He further says "we must have the head of Sankar, the heart of Buddha and the hand of Janak", Geeta says that yoga brings in perfection, peace and lasting happiness through yogic discipline when mind, body and the organ of speech work together harmoniously. It transmutes animal nature into divine nature. Thus, "yoga leads from ignorance to wisdom, from weakness to strength, from disharmony to harmony, from hatred to love, from want to fulness, from limitation to infinity, from diversity to unity and from imperfection to perfection". And the state of Jivan- Mukti is the be-all end-all of existence. It is a state of freedom from kleshas or afflictions. There is no gain greater than this, no bliss greater than this, says Swami Sivananda. Every body will surely like this stage of beautitude or final emancipation. It is the final goal of life. It is the end of all human aspirations.
The Jivan mukta is a power house of spiritual energy. The Jnani, who works in the world, is a Vyavahar Jnani. The Jnani who withdraws himself completely from the universe is a Samadhi Jnani. Knowledge is the same in these two types of Jnani, but the Samadhi Jnani enjoys more ananda than the Vyavahar Jnani. When a liberated sage is absorbed in Brahman, the Jivan Mukta will not be able to work but when he comes down from his full Brahmic consciousness, he is the ocean of mercy, love and peace, as Buddha or Jesus.
Thus, a Jivan mukta is a liberated sage, who always rebels into the eternal bliss of the Supreme self. He shines in his own pristile glory, in his own essential nature of Divine Consciousness. The philosphy of the Upanishads has proved most auspicious for correct understanding of Geeta's view on the 'final destiny of man'. "The concept of Jivan Mukti, as said froth in Upanishads, the Geeta and the Brahmasutras is not a mere hypothesis. It is actually a challenge to the most eligible spiritual aspirant who seeks to liberate himself from bondage". Then he is no more bound or finite but the eternal, an infinite Spirit, the living embodiment of the truth.
Geeta bluntly asserts: 'with the understanding deluded by egoism, man thinks' I am the doer' According to Sri Ram krishna Paramhansa; "He who believes that God alone is the doer and himself but an instrument is a Jivan Mukta, a free soul, though living in a body". Geeta considers it as 'one greatest and richest divine freedom and perfection'. Gautam Buddha calls it Nirvana. The religion of Buddha is a pathway to the Nirvanic beautitude. It is a way and not a creed. His noble eight fold path destroys all the evils and purifies the heart. Then dawns Bodhi or enligthenment which bestows perfect everlasting peace, eternal bliss and immortality. The eight-fold path of Buddha is a scheme of spiritual development and not a set of doctrines. Here it can be said that the Nirvana of Buddhism is the self-extinction of the individual in the Infinite Void, Whereas, Brahman Nirvana of the Geeta is the Nirvana in the Brahman. According to Sri Aurobindo, Supermanhood is a far richer concept and a greater achievement than Jivan Mukti. He believes that while the Superman must needs to be a Jivan Mukta Purusha but not all Jivan Muktas are Supermen.
But liberation and transformation cannot be possible without a Guru. In fact, Guru is the Moksha-Dvara. He is the gateway to the transcendental truth consciousness. The present birth is only its continuative spiritual effect. A Jivan Mukta or a liberated sage is the real Guru or spiritual preceptor. The Guru will be able to remove pitfalls, an obstacle and lead us along the right path. He will tell us, "this road leads us to Moksha; this one leads to bondage".
There are various methods which may put on the path of liberation. Let each man take the path according to his capacity, temperament and understanding. Man has two fold duties here on earth-to preserve his life and to realise his Self. To realise his Self he has to serve, love and meditate, says Sivananda. Realization cannot come to any one as a miracle done by Guru. Lord Buddha, Ramtirtha have all done sadhna. Lord krisna asks Arjuna to develop Vairagya and Abhyasa. He did not say to him "I will give you Mukti now". So one has to strive, purify, meditate and realize to get transformation. A person may get transformation in an instant. It is through transmission of spiritual power, which is known as Sakti- Sanchara. Hence, Guru Kripa or Grace of a Guru is very necessary. But this does not mean that the disciple should sit idle. He must do rigid purushartha, spiritual practices to get the results.
A.K. Majumdar; Aurobindo an Interpretation
A.G.K. Warrier; Call of the Gita
Swami Sivananda; Guru Tattwa
Dr. A.C. Bhattacharya; Sri Aurobindo & Bergson
Ballantyne and Shastri; Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.
Prof. Surendra Singh; Yoga an Introduction.