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Yoga Margas

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Tell me something about the Yoga Margas...

  • Though one doesn't generally know this in the West, there are in fact quite a lot of different "types" of Yoga, and several of them can be divided into other "types". We call them Yoga Margas. Among these there are:
    • Raya Yoga, also called Ashtanga Yoga, because it has "eight steps"
    • Jnana Yoga, the Path of Transcendental Knowledge
    • Karma Yoga, the Path of Selfless Action
    • Bhakti Yoga, the Path of Devotion
    • Mantra Yoga, the Path of Sound
    • Hatha Yoga, the path best known and perhaps by most practitioners least understood
    • Kundalini Yoga, the Path of Enlightenment
    • Tantra Yoga, Nath Yoga, Laya Yoga, Siddha Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Sahaja Yoga, Bhrigu Yoga, ... ... ...

  • In Shiva Samhita 5:10 it is stated that "the Yoga is of four kinds: First Mantra Yoga, second Hatha Yoga, third Laya Yoga, fourth Raja Yoga, which discards duality."

  • What most people seem to forget is, that one cannot just practise any yoga one likes. Shiva Samhita continues: "Know that aspirants (sadhaks) are of four orders: mild, moderate, ardent and the most ardent - the best who can cross the ocean of the world." (5:11)

  • Let's have a good look at those four orders, shall we? For what we are told by Shiva Samhita doesn't give us much of a leg to stand on, in fact makes us blush with shame at our overrating our own Ego...
    • "Men of small enterprise, oblivious, sickly and finding faults with their teachers; avaricious, sinful gourmands, and attached helplessly to their wives; fickle, timid, diseased, not independent, and cruel; those whose characters are bad and who are weak - know all the above to be mild sadhaks. With great efforts such men succeed in twelve years; them the teachers should know fit for Mantra Yoga." (5:11)
    • "Liberal minded, merciful, desirous of virtue, sweet in their speech; who never go to extremes in any undertaking - these are the middling. These are to be initiated by the teacher in Laya Yoga." (5:12)
    • "Steady minded, knowing the Laya Yoga, independent, full of energy, magnanimous, full of sympathy, forgiving, truthful, courageous, full of faith, worshippers of the lotus-feet of their Gurus, always engaged in the practice of Yoga - know such men to be ardent sadhaks (adhimatra). They obtain success in the practice of Yoga within six years, and ought to be initiated in Hatha Yoga and its branches." (5:13)
    • "Those who have the largest amount of energy, are enterprising, engaging, heroic, who know the Shastras (Scriptures) and are persevering, free from the effect of blind emotion, and, not easily confused, who are in the prime of their youth, moderate in their diet, rulers of their senses, fearless, clean, skilful, charitable, a help to all; competent, firm, talented, contented, forgiving, good-natured, religious, who keep their endeavours secret, of sweet speech, peaceful, who have faith in the scriptures and are worshippers of God and Guru, who are averse to fritter away their time in society and are free from any grievous malady, who are acquainted with the duties of the adhimatra, and are the practitioners of every kind of Yoga - undoubtedly, they obtain success in three years; [these are the most ardent and] they are entitled to be initiated in all kinds of Yoga, without any hesitation." (5:14)

If you think these statements are a bit exaggerated, well, I doubt it. I think in ancient times one was well aware of human nature! The author of the Shiva Samhita sums up a lot of conditions, many if not all of them a sine qua non if one wants to be successful. Notice Hatha Yoga is not meant for All and Sundry. It is definitely not a beginner's course, at least not according to the wise from that epoch: there are unconditional terms to be respected. And in fact, this goes for every type of Yoga.

  • Studying one thing and another, you come to realise there are after all two types of Yoga: Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga, and that they are interdependent.
    • "The Hatha Yoga cannot be obtained without the Raja Yoga, nor can the Raja Yoga be attained without the Hatha Yoga. Therefore, let the Yogi first learn the Hatha Yoga from the instructions of the wise Guru." (Shiva Samhita 5:182)

    Did you notice one needs a wise teacher?

  • The next thing you suddenly realise is that
    • "he who, while living in this physical body, does not practise Yoga, is living merely for the sake of sensual enjoyments." (Shiva Samhita 5:183)

  • Now let us summarize...
    • Yoga Sadhana is the one and only true way to self-realisation.
    • The quoted sutras from the Shiva Samhita refer to strict and unconditional self-discipline.
    • You need a wise teacher or guru who acts as a kind of mirror for you and who initiates you in the Yoga discipline you are fit for. You cannot just practise any discipline you like. Learning to accept what your guru tells you to do leads, among other things, to giving up your own self-conceit.
      You are, of course, wise enough to understand not any so-called teacher you encounter can be your teacher. We can take it for granted there are requirements for both pupil and teacher. The latter must have realised and integrated in his own daily life the concepts he will teach you. It is something like looking for a pin in a haystack, for something like an exception to the rule. It is depending on God's Grace, as it were. No need to travel around the globe and to go hither and thither to find him. It doesn't work like that.
      If you are ready, the teacher will find you. All things happen at their proper time, none earlier, none later, however hard you try to be ahead of Time or to make it rush faster.
      But then, of course, despite of all that, you will go and look for him. And on that journey you will find out that...
      • on the spiritual path those who know, don't speak; [see Psalms 46:10]
      • those who speak, don't know that much or nothing at all;
      • finding a true guru who both knows and speaks, depends on God's Grace.

  • Whether you believe it or not, the Yoga Marga is a very narrow path and full of sharp stones and thistles. It is, indeed, as sharp as the edge of a razor.

    The Yoga Marga is the Way of the Lonely Seeker after Truth.

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Last modified: April 06, 2011