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Yoga Practice

There is a difference of opinion here about the meaning of the word samvega, between Vacaspati and Vijnana Bhikshu. The former says that samvega means vairagya here, but the latter holds that samvega cannot mean vairagya, and vairagya being the effect of sraddha cannot be taken separately from it. "Samvega" means quickness in the performance of the means of attaining Yoga; some say that it means "vairagya." But that is not true, for if vairagya is an effect of the due performance of the means of Yoga, there cannot be the separate ninefold classification of Yoga apart from the various degrees of intensity of the means of Yoga practice. Further, the word "samvega" does not mean "vairagya" etymologically (Yoga-varttika, I. 20).

We have just seen that sraddha, etc., are the means of attaining Yoga, but we have not discussed what purificatory actions an ordinary man must perform in order to attain sraddha, from which the other requisites are derived. Of course these purificatory actions are not the same for all, since they must necessarily depend upon the conditions of purity or impurity of each mind; thus a person already in an advanced state, may not need to perform those purificatory actions necessary for a man in a lower state. We have just said that Yogins are of nine kinds, according to the strength of their mental acquirements—sraddha, etc.—the requisite means of Yoga and the degree of rapidity with which they may be applied. Neglecting division by strength or quickness of application along with these mental requirements, we may again divide Yogins again into three kinds: (1) Those who have the best mental equipment. (2) Those who are mediocre. (3) Those who have low mental equipment.

In the first chapter of Yoga aphorisms, it has been stated that abhyasa, the application of the mental acquirements of sraddha, etc., and vairagya, the consequent cessation of the mind from objects of distraction, lead to the extinction of all our mental states and to final release. When a man is well developed, he may rest content with his mental actions alone, in his abhyasa and vairagya, in his dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (trance), which may be called the jnanayoga. But it is easy to see that this jnanayoga requires very high mental powers and thus is not within easy reach of ordinary persons. Ordinary persons whose minds are full of impurities, must pass through a certain course of purificatory actions before they can hope to obtain those mental acquirements by which they can hope to follow the course of jnana yoga with facility.

These actions, which remove the impurities of the mind, and thus gradually increase the luster of knowledge, until the final state of supreme knowledge is acquired, are called kriya yoga. They are also called yogangas, as they help the maturity of the Yoga process by gradually increasing the luster of knowledge. They represent the means by which even an ordinary mind (vikshiptacitta) may gradually purify itself and become fit for the highest ideals of Yoga. Thus the Bhashya says: "By the sustained practice of these yogangas or accessories of Yoga is destroyed the fivefold unreal cognition (avidya), which is of the nature of impurity." Destruction means here disappearance; thus when that is destroyed, real knowledge is manifested. As the means of achievement are practiced more and more, so is the impurity more and more attenuated. And as more and more of it is destroyed, so does the light of wisdom go on increasing more and more. This process reaches its culmination in discriminative knowledge, which is knowledge of the nature of purusha and the gunas.

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