Monday, August 16, 2010


YOGA has been defined by Patanjali as the suspension of all
the functions (Vrittis) of the mind. Any discussion of this subject,
therefore, necessarily branches itself into three parts, viz., (1) Mind,
(2) its Vritttis, (3) and the mode of suspending them. No treatise
of yoga, we think, can be complete, which does not enter into
these questions. The nature of mind is the first thing which aught
to be explained. It would embrace an enquiry into all those
hypotheses which philosophers have formed about this entity. Is it
immaterial and self-existent, or is it material and perishing, subject
to dissolution with the body? Is it the same as spirit or is it apart
from it? Is it merely a dream, a shadow, a reflection of the
Supreme; or is it a separate and entire entity by itself? Such and
many other questions of this nature must be answered before
one has done away with the subject of Chitta (Mind). The
second part consists of the enumeration, classification and
definitions of the various faculties of the mind. This part is
generally free from controversy, as the faculties are facts more
widely known and comprehended. This branch is what is
known by the name of psychology. So far all the enquiry
may be said to be preliminary:—but a preliminary absolutely
necessary for the right understanding of the third part—viz.,
Nirodh. That division contains all those various methods adopted
by the ancients as well as the moderns for the concentration of
mind, which is the essence of yoga. All the questions of diet, sleep,
exercise, posture, &c., facilitating concentration naturally fall
in that subdivision. A comparative view may also be taken in that as
to the various means adopted by yogis, saints, owliyas, &c.,
for this purpose, as well as the contrivances used by the modern
mystics to bring about this state of mind. In conclusion we shall try
to show what are the good results of yoga, what are the spiritual
faculties which it develops, what new channels for the acquisition of
knowledge it opens, what new powers of work it creates and what
a source of innocent but sublime happiness it forms for its votaries.

In this introduction we shall treat of two things:—First, the importance
of the study of this Science, and Second, the various objections
which are generally raised against this subject.

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