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There are different paths (margas) by which a man travels to his Maker. The active man finds realisation through Karma Marga, in which a man realises his own divinity through work and duty. The emotional man finds it through Bhakti Marga, where there is realisation through devotion to and love of a personal God. The intellectual man pursues Jnana Marga, where realisation comes through knowledge. The meditative or reflective man follows Yoga Marga, and realises his own divinity through control of the mind.

Happy is the man who knows how to distinguish the real from the unreal, the eternal from the transient and the good from the pleasant by his discrimination and wisdom. Twice blessed is he who knows true love and can love all God's creatures. He who works selflessly for the welfare of others with love in his heart is thrice blessed. But the man who combines within his mortal frame knowledge, love and selfless service is holy and becomes a place of pilgrimage, like the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Saraswati and Jamuna. Those who meet him become calm and purified.

Mind is the king of the senses. One who has conquered his mind, senses, passions, thought and reason is a king among men. He is fit for Raja Yoga, the royal union with the Universal Spirit. He has Inner Light.

He who has conquered his mind is a Raja Yogi. The word raja means a king. The expression Raja Yoga implies a complete mastery of the Self. Though Patanjali explains the ways to control the mind, he nowhere states in his aphorisms that this science is Raja Yoga, but calls it Astanga Yoga or the eight stages (limbs) of Yoga. As it implies complete mastery of the self one may call it the science of Raja Yoga.

Swatmarama, the author of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (hatha = force or determined effort) called the same path Hatha Yoga because it demanded rigorous discipline. It is generally believed that Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga are entirely distinct, different and opposed to each other, that the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali deal with Spiritual discipline and that the Hatha Yoga Pradipika of Swatmarama deals solely with physical discipline. It is not so, for Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga complement each other and form a single approach towards Liberation. As a mountaineer needs ladders, ropes and crampons as well as physical fitness and discipline to climb the icy peaks of the Himalayas, so does the Yoga aspirant need the knowledge and discipline of the Hatha Yoga of Swatmarama to reach the heights of Raja Yoga dealt with by Patanjali.

This path of' Yoga is the fountain for the other three paths. It brings calmness and tranquillity and prepares the mind for absolute unqualified self-surrender to God, in which all these four paths merge into one.

 

Written by Conrad Howard — November 22, 2012

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