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Rja yoga

Rja yoga (/rd jo/; "royal yoga", "royal union", also known as classical
yoga and anga yoga) is a form of meditation in which the mind is trained to be focused at
one point. It aims at the calming of the mind using a succession of steps, culminating
in samadhi. According to the samkhya-based Raja yoga-philosohy, this results in kaivalya, the
recognition of the pure mind, and the subsequent liberation from rebirth.
Since medieval times, Raja yoga has been regarded as one of the six schools of orthodox
(astika) Hindu philosophy. The school declined after the 12th century, to be revived in the 19th
century due to popular interest in Asian religions. Due to this revival, the 4th century Yoga
Stras has gained great popularity.

In the context of Hindu philosophy, rja yoga is known simply as yoga. The term rja yoga is
a retronym, introduced in the 19th-century by Swami Vivekananda.[1] The prior use of the
term rja yoga in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika refers to the highest form of yoga, laya yoga,
described in this text. The HYP is a text of the Natha sampradaya[2] and is not concerned with
the yoga taught in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.


Yoga Sutras of Patanjali[edit]

Raja Yoga received the status of orthodoxy due to its constituting text, the Yoga Sutras of
Patanjali. The Yoga Sutras are a composite of various texts,[3][4][5] composed in c.400 CE.[6] They
resemble the Buddhist jhanas.[7][note 1] Traditionally it is ascribed to Patanjali, who compiled
various traditions and wrote a commenatry on those, together forming
the Ptajalayogastra ("The Treatise on Yoga according to Patajali"), which consisted of
both Stras and Bhya.[6] According to Wuyastik, referencing Maas,
Patanjali took materials about yoga from older traditions, and added his own explanatory
passages to create the unified work that, since 1100 CE, has been considered the work of two
According to Axel Michaels, the Yoga Sutras are a collection of fragments and traditions of
texts stemming from the 2nd or 3rd century.[8] According to Feuerstein, the Yoga Sutras are a
condensation of two different traditions, namely "eight limb yoga" (ashtanga yoga) and action
yoga (kriya yoga).[3] The kriya yoga part is contained in chapter 1, chapter 2 verse 1-27,
chapter 3 except verse 54, and chapter 4.[3] The "eight limb yoga" is described in chapter 2
verse 28-55, and chapter 3 verse 3 and 54.[3]

Development and influence[edit]

The major commentaries on the Yoga Sutras were written between the ninth and sixteenth
century.[9] After the twelfth century, the school started to decline, and no defense of Patanjali's
Yoga philosophy was written anymore.[9] By the sixteenth century Patanjali's Yoga philosophy
had virtually become extinct.[9] The manuscript of the Yoga Sutras was no longer copied, since
nobody read the text, and no instruction in its philosophy took place anymore.[10]
Popular interest arose in the 19th century, when the practice of yoga according to the Yoga
Sutras became regarded as the science of yoga and the "supreme contemplative path to
selfrealization" by Vivekananda, following Helena Blavatsky, president of theTheosophical

Rja yoga is concerned with the mind (citta) and its fluctuations (vttis). Rja yoga aims at
controlling all thought-waves or mental modifications. Patajali's Yoga Sutras begin with the
statement yoga citta-vtti-nirodha (1.2), "Yoga limits the oscillations of the mind". They go on
to detail the ways in which mind can create false ideations, and advocate arduous, dedicated
meditation on real objects or subjects. This process, it is said, leads to a state of quiet
detachment, vairgya, in which there is mastery over the thirst (t,tah) of the senses.
According to Swami Satchidananda,
Every thought, feeling, perception, or memory you may have causes a modification, or ripple,
in the mind. It distorts and colors the mental mirror. If you can restrain the mind from forming
into modifications, there will be no distortion, and you will experience your true Self.[citation needed]
A rja yogi starts his sdhan with a certain minimum of sana and pryma, as a
preparation for the meditation and concentration.

Eight limbs of astanga yoga[edit]

Rja yoga is traditionally referred to as anga (eight-limbed) yoga because there are eight
aspects to the path to which one must attend.[12] The eight limbs of astanga yoga are:

Yama code of conduct, self-restraint

Niyama religious observances, commitments to practice, such as study and devotion

sana integration of mind and body through physical activity

Pryma regulation of breath leading to integration of mind and body

Pratyhra abstraction of the senses, withdrawal of the senses of perception from their

Dhra concentration, one-pointedness of mind

Dhyna meditation (quiet activity that leads to samadhi)

Samdhi the quiet state of blissful awareness, superconscious(?) state. Attained when
yogi constantly sees Paramatma in his (jivaatma) heart.

They are sometimes divided into the lower and the upper four limbs, the lower onesfrom
yama to pranayamabeing parallel to the lower limbs of hatha yoga, while the upper ones
from pratyahara to samadhibeing specific for the rja yoga. The upper three limbs practiced
simultaneously constitute the samyama.

Main article: Yamas
Yama (restraints) consists of five parts: ahimsa (nonviolence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (sexual abstinence),
and aparigraha (non-covetousness). Ahimsa is perfect harmlessness, as well as positive love.
The five directives of yamalay down behavioral norms as prerequisites for elimination of fear,
and contribute to a tranquil mind.[13]

Main article: Niyama
Niyama is observance of five canons: shaucha (internal and external
purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (austerity), svadhyaya (study of religious books and
repetitions of mantras), and ishvarapranidhana (self-surrender to God and his
worship). Niyama, unlikeyama, prescribes mental exercises to train the mind to control

Main article: Asana
Asana in the sense of a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed and with
normal (calm) breathing (or, as some sources say, "without effort").
In English, the Sanskrit word asana means "seat", the place where one sits; or posture,
position of the body (any position). Asanas (in the sense of Yoga "posture") are said to derive
from the various positions of animals' bodies (whence are derived most of the names of the
positions). 84 asanas are considered to be the main postures, of which the highest are
Shirshasan (headstand) and Padmasan (lotus).
The practice of asanas affects the following aspects or planes of the human being:

Physical (blood circulation, inner organs, glands, muscles, joints and nerve system)

Psychological (developing emotional balance and stability, harmony)

Mental (improved ability to concentrate, memory)

Consciousness (purifying and clarifying consciousness/awareness)

From the rja yoga perspective, it is considered that the physical postures and pranayama
serve to prepare the body and mind for the following steps: pratyahara, dharana,
dhyana and samdhi (withdrawal of the senses, contemplation, meditation, and state of
expanded or transcendental consciousness, where the activity of the mind ceases and "The
Knower and The Object of Knowledge Become One").[citation needed]

Main article: Pranayama
Pryma is made out of two Sanskrit words (pra = life energy; ayma = control or
modification). Breathing is the medium used to achieve this goal. The mind and life force are
correlated to the breath. Through regulating the breathing and practicing awareness on it, one
learns to control prana.
According to Rja yoga, there are three main types (phases, units, stadia) of pranayama:

Purak (inhalation)

Rechak (exhalation)

Kumbhak (holding the breath); which appears as:

Antara kumbhak (withholding the breath after inhalation)
Bahar kumbhak (withholding the breath after exhalation)
Keval kumbhak (spontaneous withholding of the breath)

There are numerous techniques of pranayama, each with their specific goals. The main
techniques are:

Surya Bhedana

Candra Bhedana

Nadi Shodhana (anuloma viloma)




Plavini (bhujangini)





All pranayama practice ultimately works toward purification of the nadis (energy channels) and
the awakening of kundalini shakti at the muladhara chakra. The awakening of kundalini energy
(also described as the awakening of divine consciousness or wisdom), and its ascent to the
crown chakra is the final goal of rja yoga.

Main article: Pratyahara
Pratyahara is bringing the awareness to reside deep within oneself, free from the senses and
external world. The Goal of Pratyahara is not to disrupt the communication from the sense
organ to the brain. The awareness is far removed from the five senses. Pratyahara cannot be
achieved without achievement of the preceding limbs (pranayama, niyama, etc.). The
awareness comes to rest deep in the inner space, and during this time the yogi's breath will be
temporarily suspended. Pratyahara should not just be likened to concentration or meditation,
etc. It is a yogic practice that takes on adequacy with the prior 4 limbs as prerequisites.

Main article: Samyama
In Vibhuti Pada of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, pratyahara is further developed into concentration
(dharana), meditation (dhyana), and into the state of absorption (samadhi). Last three states
are what can be called the internal limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, which when mastered in
succession are the foundation of samyama. According to Baba Hari Dass, samyama is perfect
control of mental concentration; and "The samyama is not complete unless there is a fusion of
these three processes of concentration.[14] Furthermore, different aspects of samadhi and
samyama and their resulting achievements have relation to viveka khyati, or discriminating
faculty, which is the ability of proper discernment.
Main article: Dharana
Yoga starts from concentration. Concentration merges into meditation. Meditation ends in
samadhi. Retention of breath, brahmacharya, satvic (pure) food, seclusion,
silence, satsanga (being in the company of a guru), and not mixing much with people are all
aids to concentration. Concentration on bhrakuti (the space between the two eyebrows) with
closed eyes is preferred. The mind can thus be easily controlled, as this is the seat for the
mind.[clarification needed][citation needed]
Main article: Dhyana in Hinduism
In Dhyana, the meditator is not conscious of the act of meditation (i.e. is not aware that s/he is
meditating) but is only aware that s/he exists (consciousness of being), and aware of the object

of meditation. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes one with the
object of meditation. This means that the meditator although aware of the object through
meditation detaches him/erself from its existence in the physical world. Much like meditation
focused on the breath Dhyana is rooted in the concentration of not being concentrated.[15][16]
The final stage of meditation in dhyna is considered to be jhna. At this stage of meditation,
one does not see it as a meditational practice, but instead merges with the idea and thought.
One cannot reach a higher stage of consciousness without jhna.[17]
Main article: Samadhi
Samadhi is oneness with the object of meditation. There is no distinction between act of
meditation and the object of meditation. Samadhi is of two kinds,[18][web 1] with and without
support of an object of meditation:[web 2]

Samprajnata Samadhi, also called savikalpa samadhi and Sabija Samadhi,[web 3][note

meditation with support of an object.[web 2][note 3]

Samprajata samadhi is associated with deliberation, reflection, bliss, and I-am-ness.[22][note


The first two, deliberation and reflection, form the basis of the various types

of samapatti:[22][24]
Savitarka, "deliberative":[22][note 5] The citta is concentrated upon a gross object of
meditation,[web 2] an object with a manifest appearance that is perceptible to our
senses,[25] such as a flame of a lamp, the tip of the nose, or the image of a deity.[citation
Conceptualization (vikalpa) still takes place, in the form of perception, the word
and the knowldge of the object of meditation.[22] When the deliberation is ended this is
called nirvitaka samadhi.[26][note 6]
Savichara, "reflective":[25] the citta is concentrated upon a subtle object of meditation,[web
which is not percpetible to the senses, but arrived at through interference,[25] such
as the senses, the process of cognition, the mind, the I-am-ness,[note 7] the chakras, the
inner-breath (prana), the nadis, the intellect (buddhi).[25] The stilling of reflection is
called nirvichara samapatti.[25][note 8]
Sananda Samadhi, ananda,[note 9] "bliss": this state emphasizes the still subtler state
of bliss in meditation;[web 2]
Sasmita: the citta is concentrated upon the sense or feeling if "I-am-ness".[web 2]

Asamprajnata Samadhi, also called Nirvikalpa Samadhi[web 1] and Nirbija Samadhi:[web 1][note

meditation without an object,[web 2] which leads to knowledge of purusha or

consciousness, the subtlest element.[25][note 11]

Ananda and asmita[edit]
According to Ian Whicher, the status of sananda and sasmita in Patanjali's system is a matter
of dispute.[28] According to Maehle, the first two constituents, deliberation and reflection, form
the basis of the various types of samapatti.[22] According to Feuerstein,

"Joy" and "I-am-ness" [...] must be regarded as accompanying phenomenaof every coginitive
[ecstacy]. The explanations of the classical commentators on this point appear to be foreign to
Patanjali's hierarchy of [ecstatic] states, and it seems unlikely that ananda and asmita should
constitue independent levels of samadhi.[28]
Ian Whicher disagrees with Feuerstein, seeing ananda and asmita as later stages of nirvicarasamapatti.[28] Whicher refers to Vcaspati Mira (900-980 CE), the founder of
the Bhmat Advaita Vedanta who proposes eight types of samapatti:[29]

Savitarka-sampatti and Nirvitarka-sampatti, both with gross objects as objects of


Savicra-sampatti and Nirvicra-sampatti, both with subtle objects as objects of support;

Snanda-sampatti and Nirnanda-sampatti, both with the sense organs as objects of


Ssmit-sampatti and Nirasmit-sampatti, both with the sense of "I-am-ness" as


Vijnana Bikshu (ca. 1550-1600) proposes a six-stage model, explicitly rejecting Vacaspati
Misra's model. Vijnana Bikshu regards joy (ananda) as a state that arises when the mind
passes beyond the vicara stage.[24] Whicher agrees that ananda is not a separate stage
of smadhi.[24] According to Whicher, Patanjali's own view seems to be that nirvicara-samadhi is
the highest form of cognitive ecstacy.[24]