Yoga is a philosophical system that introduces a way of life. The word yoga derives from the Sanskrit root yuj that means to unite. "In yoga philosophy yoga indicates that the purpose of yoga is to unite ourselves with our highest nature"...."the same concept is described in the Bible by the word yoke, meaning ‘mystic union’"(Swami Rama). According to the Himalayan Tradition, yoga is samadhi. In Sanskrit language Ashtangha Yoga, or the eightfold path, -also known as Raja yoga* contains the eight rungs on the yoga ladder:
1. 5 Yamas
(what we should not do) - non-violence, not to lie, non-stealing, control of and freedom from all sensual cravings without any kind of suppression, non-possessiveness,
2. 5 Niyamas
(what we should do)- purity, contentment, practices that lead to perfection of body and mind and senses, study that leads to knowledge of the Self, surrender to the ultimate reality,
(life force through breathing),
(withdrawal of the sences),
(spiritual absorption with two stages)
* "The term Raja yoga was first used by Swami Vivekananda, a great man who came to Chicago to attend the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. Raja means "royal", and this yoga is called Royal yoga because, unlike other systems of yoga, which are vague, this one is precise and systematic. Raja yoga was set forth by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras around 200 B.C. and it describes eight rungs on the yoga ladder. Thus it is also called Ashtanga yoga because ashtangha means "eight limbs"
Swami Rama in the book Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama, page 3.
THE HIMALAYAN TRADITION OF YOGA MEDITATION by Swami Veda Bharati.
The Himalayan Mountains have been the home of sages for millennia. These great sages have lived and passed on knowledge of the yogic teachings to disciples who then became masters passing on the teachings in an unbroken lineage since the Vedic period. Twelve hundred years ago Shankaracharya organized his teaching into five centers of the Himalayan Tradition. As one of those five, our tradition is the Bharati lineage connected with the Shankaracharyas at the Shringeri Seat. Bha means “the light of knowledge,” rati means “a lover who is absorbed in it,” thus, Bharati indicates one, who as a lover of knowledge, becomes totally absorbed in its light. The methods and philosophies of the Himalayan Tradition have withstood the test of time. Generation upon generation has followed this path and a huge reserve of knowledge has been built.
The Himalayan Tradition is not a tradition where a teacher proclaims himself a guru and students are expected to believe whatever he says, rather, the teachings come from the Tradition and the student can look to the Tradition to support and make sense of what the teacher says. The initial purpose of the tradition is to awaken the divine flame within each human being and the goal is for each student to become a master of the Tradition in coming to know his or her true Self. It is the task of the teacher, through the Grace of the Guru to selflessly help his disciples on the way of highest enlightenment. Passing on of knowledge is done experientially through the transmission of a pulsation of energy.
The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation combines the wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras, the philosophy and practices of the Tantras, and the specific oral instructions and initiatory experiences passed on by a long line of saints and Yoga masters whose names may or may not be known. The Tradition is not an intellectual combining of three unrelated elements, but a unified system in which all the parts are integrally linked.
The principal tenets and practices of all known systems of meditation are included in the Himalayan Tradition and, for the most part, these systems have arisen out of it. For example: Vipassana emphasizes breath awareness and Transcendental Meditation concentrates on repetition of the mantra, whereas most Hatha practitioners pay attention mainly to posture. The Himalayan meditator, however, learns to sit in the correct posture, relax fully, practice correct breathing, and then combine breath-awareness with the mantra.
What is Raja Yoga
HIMALAYAN YOGA is Ashtanga yoga, but also Raja Yoga. Ashtanga yoga means eight limbs (Ashta=eight, anga= parts) or limbs. Raja Yoga is the Royal Path that includes all yogas. Everything is explained below.
There are seven ancient schools of Indian philosophy, ranging from a materialistic point of view similar in many respects to the current Western perspective, to its diametric opposite in which matter is considered a mere shadow of spirit. The Sankhya and Yoga schools of philosophy take a point midway between these two extremes. Those schools came into existence gradually after a long period of growth and experimentation. These two schools of philosophy are complementary. The yoga school deals with the practical aspects of man’s liberation from all human imperfections and suffering. These practical methods use the philosophical doctrines of Sankhya as their basis. The Sankhya school of philosophy was founded by the Sage Kapila around 600 B.C. This philosophy admits of two ultimate realities: Purusha or Cosmic Consciousness and Prakrti or Elemental Matter. The manifest universe is an evolution of Prakrti resulting from the coming together of Purusha and Prakrti, matter being permeated by consciousness. The scheme of evolution applies both to the macrocosm – the universe, and to the microcosm – man. Yoga bases its teachings on this scheme of evolution in man- the microcosm. It concerns itself with the practical aspects of involution – from the manifest body and mind to Ultimate Consciousness.
The main teaching of Yoga is that man’s innermost nature is divine. He is unaware of his true nature and instead falsely identifies with his body and his intellect - both of which exist within Prakrti or matter and hence subject to death and decay. All of man’s misery is, therefore, a consequence of this false identification. Yoga leads one to the realization of the Self and with such realization comes liberation from all human imperfections.
There are many paths to realization of the Self, just as there are many spokes from the rim of a wheel to its center. Yoga is used in a generic sense for all of these different paths. Some of them are: Karma Yoga, the path of action; Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion; Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge; Kundalini Yoga, the path of awakening latent power; and Raja Yoga, the royal path.
The teachings of Raja Yoga encompass the teachings of all the different paths. Astanga Yoga which is now called Raja Yoga concerns itself with three dimensions or realms - the physical realm, the mental realm and the spiritual realm. Through the methods of Raja Yoga, one achieves mastery of all three realms and is thus led to full realization of the Self.
The teachings of Raja Yoga go back many thousands of years and little is known of their origin. They are considered to be revealed teachings of divine origin. They were systematized and codified by the Sage Patanjali. He organized the teachings into 196 Sutras or aphorisms. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali consist of four padas or chapters. The first deals with Samadhi - the state of Self-realization, the second with the practical means towards this end, the third with the powers that manifest themselves in one who treads the path of yoga and the last chapter deals with Kaivalya or liberation.
The practical means towards achieving the state of Self -Realization comprise what is called Astanga Yoga or the Eightfold Path. These eight angas or limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. The first five limbs are considered external limbs, the last three being internal. The Yamas and Niyamas constitute the moral code of yoga and help one to cultivate the right mental attitudes. Asana or posture aims at physical well-being and control over the body. A healthy body is a prerequisite for a healthy and controlled mind. Pranayama is control of prana or the life force. Such control is achieved through control of the most gross manifestation of prana- the breath. One can control the mind only if one can control one’s breathing. Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses and is necessary if one is to achieve tranquility of the mind. Dharana is attention and concentration. It helps bring the diffuse mind to a point of focus. Prolonged Dharana leads to a state of Dhyana or meditation characterized by one-pointedness of the mind. Prolonged Dhyana leads to Samadhi, the state of Self-Realization. The mind is transcended and one becomes aware of the Self and is united with it. This state is characterized by Sat-Chit-Ananda, or existence, consciousness and bliss. One expands oneself and becomes one with the Ultimate Reality.
Raja yoga is, therefore, a systematic and scientific discipline that leads one to ultimate truth. Most religions teach a person what to do, but Raja Yoga teaches one how to be. Unlike religions, it does not impose unquestioning faith but encourages healthy discrimination and finally leads to liberation.
By following the path prescribed, one can verify for oneself its central hypothesis that man’s true nature is Divine. It is, therefore, not merely an ancient, esoteric Eastern philosophy but a practical, systematic and scientific quest for the Infinite. It is relevant and necessary in the modern context, both in the East and the West. If incorporated into modern education, it would equip one to deal with the conflicts, frustrations and turmoil inevitable in all modern societies. Through Raja Yoga, man can realize his full potential for creative thought and action. Furthermore, he can transcend all human limitations and experience his true nature.
The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation is distinguished in that it:
• is the first meditative tradition,
• is the most comprehensive, integral and all-inclusive,
• has given birth to the major meditative traditions of the world and has continued to enrich them all,
• does not require adherence to a belief system but experientially helps verify metaphysical reality,
• has an unbroken lineage whose continuity is ensured through transmission of Shakti in meditative and initiatory states.
Swami Rama of the Himalayas has presented this tradition in its scientific format in his lectures and writings and has initiated the disciples to continue a certain degree of transmission.
The Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International
(AHYMSIN) is a world-wide affiliation of centers and initiates. Mahamandaleshwara Swami Veda Bharati, a disciple of H. H. Sri Swami Rama, provided the impetus for founding AHYMSIN. Initiates from around the world met at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh, India, in 2007 to officially form AHYMSIN.
Swami Veda Bharati
served as Spiritual Guide of AHYMSIN from its inception until his Mahasamadhi on 14th July 2015.
Swami Veda wrote in his will that Swami Ritavan Bharati
will hold the title of “Ashrama-pramukha” and shall hold the position of the head of Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, and of a spiritual guide to all organizations and institutions in which he has held this position.
For more information about AHYMSIN, please visit: