What is yoga

Niranjan Guha Roy – Sri Aurobindo Ashram 1977

What is yoga?

In India from the most ancient times, the view is held that one needs many, many years to be in contact with the Divine. One has to do a long and difficult sadhana to arrive even at a partial realisation. We can read the lives of great Saints in all countries, the God-lovers, and they all tell us the same thing: there is no easy road to Heaven. The greatest and the most arduous effort with limitless patience and endurance is promised to those who would undertake the discovery of the Divine. We want something that would radically change the human life into the life of Gods. Our life is extremely serious and the Divine demand on us is without compromise. The call on us is a rare privilege granted to daring and dedicated souls. How can we rest in peace as long as there is ignorance, darkness, violence, struggle, hatred, passion, maladies, absence of love, intolerance, cruelty, all these million dragons, demons and diabolic forces which practically hold the entire humanity as slaves, prisoners and hostages. The most auspicious, liberating power and light are there with extended hand to help and raise us. With all the hope and ardour and love we have to look up at the golden sun and open ourselves, all our centers, all the cells of our body to its transforming, divine rays. This is the true liberation, true regeneration. The plant is a visible symbol of the spiritual aspiration. How it reaches out to the sunlight, how it depends on the light for its existence, how it struggles to catch a glimpse of light of the sun. For the sadhak of the integral yoga, there is no repose, no rose-bed, no cosy inn or tavern where he can rest too long. We have a million battles to wage, a thousand wars to face. So let us steer our determination, march forward unburdened by the load of desires and attachments, fired by the inextinguishable flame of divine conquest. This is the role that has been assigned for the disciples of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Too often, there are some persistently wrong ideas about yoga. Return to nature has nothing to do with the yoga. The concentration on food has very little to do with the yoga. This community-forming or living in groups just for the sake of being together has nothing to do with the yoga. The yoga in India means union with the Divine or the Absolute and the discipline followed in order to arrive at the Realisation. The aim of personal happiness, to be happy, to love and distribute love all in a human, inferior way belong at best to ethics and has nothing to do with the yoga. The Gita is the synthesis of all forms of yoga practiced in India. Sri Aurobindo’s yoga begins where the Gita ends. To be aware of the Divine, the spiritual reality, to be aware that all is divine, to be aware that the earth and the evolution are a conscious self-manifestation of the Divine, to become aware of the One Divine and his will in the world, to be moved by Him, to live in Him, to be possessed by Him, to be progressively transformed by the divine consciousness into a divine being, these are the steps in ascension towards the divine life. This is a vast and complex subject. More than any intellectual knowledge contained in a thousand books, a single true and profound experience, the touch of grace is far more convincing to the seeker of truth. One should constantly cultivate humility, self-offering to the Divine. Submission and a glad surrender to the divine guidance, once He is seen and recognised, is the most secure way for the seeker. Only the fortunate soul which has been prepared through a thousand births can readily take this path of dependence on the Divine and surrender to his will, love and knowledge. But we can all prepare ourselves, make ourselves fit for the state of grace which the surrender brings, the presence of the Eternal, his possession of our being, our life and action.
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