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41. The Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo

The world regards men like Einstein as geniuses. Men like Socrates, Bernard Shaw and Newton have attained the peaks of knowledge. The human mind has reached its highest limits in them. Human thought matures and shines through these people, giving illumination to the world. Great men of philosophy also merit this distinction. Men who offer new ideas to the world belong to this category. In life, the human mind is able to achieve this level. Beyond this, there is no greater level to achieve in worldly life. However, there are still higher levels within the reach of the human mind. They are not possible within the scope of worldly life. They are possible only if one takes to yoga.

The yogi who meditates on God tries to still his thoughts and eliminate them altogether from his mind. Such efforts bear fruit for those yogis who sit in meditation for 20 to 25 years. Their minds fall silent and become devoid of thought. If universal silence settles in them permanently, they earn the name of Muni. The sage Vyasa was such a great Muni. The power of such silence is incalculable. The sage Durvasa gave a boon to Sri Krishna that nobody could harm him physically in the body. Such is the power of silence that it enables a Muni to grant a boon to an Avatar.

When yoga goes to the next higher stage, the thoughts that come in the yogi's mind come in the form of images. Then he becomes the Rishi. He acquires the power of mental vision. It helps him see things that happen at a distance. When he is able to see what happened in the past and what will happen in the future, he becomes the Rishi with Jnana drishti.

At the next stage, the tapasvi enters into direct relation with the divine light. Without the help of either thought or vision, the divine light is able to reach the tapasvi's mind. Those who hear him speak from such a stage feel he has attained illumination. He then becomes the Yogi. The word yoga means union. The state of union with God is called yoga. It is of different kinds.

Those are called Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Tantra Yoga, etc. The goal of yoga is to become free of the cycle of birth and death and attain union with God. The soul that is afflicted with birth, death, sorrow, falsehood, disease and ignorance wants to escape from them. What gives the liberation to the aspiring soul is yoga sadhana.

The mind, heart and body are parts of the being. Each is capable of becoming the gate of liberation for the soul. Before that, it has to become purified and lose its ego. Then sadhana can make it the door of liberation.

The Jnani makes thought the key to open the mental door. He purifies it and turns it into light. When his mind comes under the influence of the soul, it takes on the shine of the soul. Those people who persist in such a state have their mental doors opened and attain liberation.

The bhakta seeks the Psychic being that is in the cave behind the heart centre. If devotion is to ripen, then the devotee must become free of attachment. He must detach himself from the wife, children, house and possessions. Purified feelings form the basis of devotion. When the bhakta sits in meditation wishing to be one with God, such devotion opens the emotional doors and gives the soul the release from birth.

The Hatha Yogi seeks moksha with the help of the body. He purifies the body through asanas and acquires an amazing power. The body takes on a shine. He can even stop the heart for some time. Through pranayama he releases the Kundalini shakti lying coiled up in the physical centre at the bottom of the spine. He raises it gradually and finally makes it go out through the mental centre at the top of the head called the "thousand-petalled lotus". It goes out and merges with God, giving him the liberation he wanted.

The aim of all these yogas is to give liberation to the soul afflicted with the bonds of death and birth. The mind, heart or the body becomes an instrument for this task.

The purpose for which God has made this world and made millions of souls take birth is to attain the Truth while remaining in the physical realm. The soul should take on a body, be in life, and realise and manifest the light of the Supreme. That is the first and primary ideal of the Supreme. That is why great souls like the Buddha and Vivekananda have chosen to remain in the world in a subtle form and help in the liberation of each and every human being on earth. Sri Aurobindo says, "The soul seeking liberation is contrary to the ideal of the Supreme. What is fitting is for the soul to remain in the world and help manifest the Godhead."

Jnana yoga makes the mind luminous, but the Jnani ignores his body as something perishable. There are jnanis who even ridicule men of devotion. Therefore, the feelings and the physical body of the jnani do not get the purity that the mind enjoys. Even if the jnani with mental realisation wants to stay in the world, the imperfection of the rest of the personality will not allow the soul to stay on. For that, each and every part of the being must become perfect.

What applies to the jnani applies equally to the devotee and the hatha yogi.

Sri Aurobindo calls his yoga Purna Yoga or Integral Yoga. For this yoga, the method of using a single part of the being is not sufficient. The soul that encompasses all the parts of the being should itself become the tool of the sadhana.

In Purna Yoga, the soul does not seek liberation. The first task is to purify the mind, heart and body. The mind mistakes its own ignorance to be knowledge and feels satisfied. It gets released from that delusion and attains true knowledge and light. The heart frees itself from its attachments and has union with God as its only aim. One does not neglect the body as perishable and false. One takes an effort to make it luminous. In brief, what the Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga and Hatha yoga seek as their goals becomes the basis for Purna Yoga.

As parts of the being are ruled by emotions such as love and hate, the soul itself is stained by the ego. Only when the ego gets fully dissolved does the soul become totally pure. For that pure soul, the illumined mind, heart and body open their gates of liberation. Such a soul is in a position to attain liberation.

However, in Purna yoga, liberation not being the goal, the soul does not choose to be liberated. With the body purified, the soul is in a position to stay on and help in the manifestation of the divine.

The Supreme is not satisfied with the realisation of a single integral yogi. The Supreme's purpose must be realised in each and every human being.

The man who is identified with his body regards others only as physical beings. The man who admires the mind notices only the intelligence of others. But the Purna Yogi does not consider either the body or the mind of others as important. Being a realised soul, he is able to see the soul of others. He sees every other man as another soul. It is not a mere mental knowledge for him, but is true in his very feelings. Therefore, he is able to communicate with others at a soul level. When Sri Krishna sat in meditation on the Govardhana hill, he saw that he contained the whole world in himself. What Krishna showed to Arjuna in his Vishvarupa was the same thing. That is the result of Integral Yoga, too.

The soul of the integral yogi strengthens its relationship with its origin when it meets the divine consciousness. Since it is already in touch with the millions of living beings in the world, it is able to be a good instrument of the divine.

The integral yogi does not aspire for liberation for his soul. He only tries to liberate the parts of his being from falsehood. He turns himself into an instrument of Truth and works for the salvation of the rest of creation from falsehood too. He works so that Truth may descend and reign on earth. This in essence is the "Integral Yoga" of Sri Aurobindo.

book | by Dr. Radut