Maha/Siddha Yoga---part 2

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Chapter 2 - The Significance of Prana (the Life Force)


Prana (Chaitanya): The Main Deity of the Siddha Yoga.

The Life Force (Prana) coupled with the will of the spiritual master is the main Deity in the practice of the Siddha Yoga. The worship of this Deity means efforts being made to obtain the grace of the spiritual master. To obtain the grace of this Deity, the importance of the Life Force (Prana) should be understood thoroughly.

Prana - The Real (Bosom) Friend in the Life

There is none who does not know the Life Force (Prana) for in the practical life the Prana (Life Force) means involuntary process of breathing. Who doesn't know it ? The importance of the Deity is easy to understand. The (Life Force) Prana is the vital principle of the whole world and a layman is capable of grasping its meaning. In the practical life one may emphatically say, "Someone is my 'bosom friend' and dearer to me like the Prana (Life Force)". But it may happen that due to difference of opinion, both may get separated and their friendship is broken. However from the beginning of life till its end, it is only the Prana that maintains the real friendly ties and deserves to be called as, the real friend. The compound word the 'Life-Friend', should be understood in such way that Life Force (Prana) is the 'real eternal friend' or the intimate friend. For if the Life Force (Prana) deserts the mortal body of a man, his life comes to an end.

According to the philosophy of the Upnishadas (it means) the Life Force (Prana) itself is nectar. The tenet is quite known and popular.

[Tr.: The whole world is embodied in Prana.]

Breath may be taken as the moving form of the Life Force. Only the still breath contains profound energy. The energy in the breath is indebted to the (Life Force) Prana.

Who is strong - the Prana (Life Force) or the Mind?

Mind and the Prana are very close and in the practice of breath-control (Pranayama) the control over the breath gives strength to it (Prana). When the mind stirs, the breath also starts pulsating, similarly when the Prana (Life Force) is disturbed, the mind also gets stirred. It is revealed that the Life Force (Prana) is superior to the mind. For example, at times there is a competition amongst children to find out who can hold breath for a long time, an attempt is made to subdue the Life Force (Prana) overlooking its significance. What would happen if a child makes an attempt to control breath for a longer time only on the strength of mind? Ordinarily breath can be controlled for 20, 25 or 30 seconds only, but if the breath is held for a longer time the hand over the nostril is thrown off aside due to the force of Prana and Prana rushes in. Therefore the strength of the Life Force (Prana) is superior to the mind.

The Nature of mind and Prana (Life Force):

The relation between mind and Prana is revealed in the Purusha Sookta.

[The moon emerged from the mind and that the Sun from the eye of the body of the cosmic Person]. In this hymn the description which the ancient sage has laid down before us is quite useful in comprehending their significance. In the context of the formation of the universe, the comparison between the moon and mind as well as between the sun and Prana is quite convincing. It indicates their prudence. The comparison of the moon and mind is very apt. Just as the moon has full-moon and no-moon phases of the opposite direction, the mind too has two extremes. It sometimes ascends to the higher ideas and descends to the lower mean thoughts. The mind sometimes assumes itself as a king and remains in the lofty thoughts and ideas but in a moment it sinks into beastly thoughts. Chaitanya Shakti as compared to the Sun is eternal and is the cause of creation, sustenance and destruction of the Universe. In the hymn of Saura Sukta, the Sun is said to be the soul of the Universe and it is also the Life Force (Prana) of the Universe.

It is evident that Prana is the eternal principle of the Universe. The other notable fact is that according to the astronomical science the moon is luminous owing to the light of the Sun. The moon has no light of her own. The luminosity of the moon is only due to the reflected rays of the Sun. It means the moon cannot shine without the existence of the Sun. As per the analogy cited above, it will not be untrue to say that mind owes its existence to Prana. Even if mind ceases thinking and pondering for some time, the life of a human being continues to exist. But if Prana stops functioning, the mind will not exist at all. When the soul deserts the body, the Life Force (Prana) reverts to its original place in the outside world. Mind which like the moon oscillates between full-moon and no-moon phases which are unsteady and transient, cannot be an ideal object for meditation. On the contrary the Life Force (Prana) akin to the Sun should be accepted as the eternal principle of the Truth. Its worship is beneficial and acceptable to us. That is why in India the worship of the Sun is considered to be superior.

The Universal Importance of the Life Force (Prana):

From the aforesaid exposition you must have observed that the (Life Force Principle) Prana Tattva is superior to the mind. Not only that but if we say "the Prana is the only religion of the whole world", such a statement will have to be accepted as the true one. The sages have defined religion as:

[Tr.: That which sustains life is religion and religion sustains people.]

If this definition is accepted, the same can be further elucidated; the existence of body, mind and intellect is not possible without Prana. Without Chaitanya all the functions of (sense-organs like) hearing, speaking, touching, seeing, smelling, as well as tasting are not possible. It can easily be understood that the Life Force (Prana), which is the all pervading primal force is the basic religion of the universe. It is an irrefutable fact that Chaitanya is the only religion of the whole Universe. It needs no further debate, for all the discussion would be futile. We shall have to accept that Chaitanya (Prana Tattwa) is supreme doctrine. If a prime minister or a person having the highest post like the President of a nation or a less intellectual person or any layman proudly says, "My dear friend, your religion is not acceptable to me and I shall not follow it". His speech of this type is of no value. While speaking and thinking in the absence of the Life Force (Prana) i.e. Chaitanya, a person is completely incapable of expressing his thoughts by way of speech. Prana is the only religion of the whole world. You may call it by any name, some call it Self Consciousness (Atma Tattva), some call it as Consciousness (Chaitanya), some call it Supreme Consciousness (Brahma Tattva) and some call it as cosmos. Thus it is undebatable truth that Chaitanya is the only religion of all.

How is the Life force (Prana) supreme?

A story in the Upanishada clarifies the fact that the Life Force (Prana) is supreme.

Once there was a quarrel over the superiority amongst the sense-organs used for seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. First of all eyes claimed, "You cannot enjoy the beauty of the world without eyes and then what is the life worth for? The life would be gloomy. Hence in all the sense-oragans we are superior to all". The ears contended, "if you are unable to hear melodious chirping of birds, sweet babble of children and ear-pleasing superior music, you will greatly be missing charm in your life". "Pleasant sensation experienced by the tender touch of the skin will not be enjoyed in my absence, hence you should accept my importance," emphasized vehemently the senseorgan skin. The tongue argued in an enchanting manner, "To relish the taste of different foods varying from tasteful dishes to the sweet nectar, my presence is a must". At last the nose posed his superiority saying, "Only with my help you can enjoy fragrance of different perfumes and flowers like roses. Hence you cannot reject my superiority."

The Prana, the king of the sense-organs, was already present there, when this controversy among the sense-organs was going on. In order to apprise the sense-organs their real worth the Life Force (Prana) said, "You can continue your debate over the supremacy, I am just going out for half an hour." Saying thus when the Life Force the Supreme Lord of all (Prana-nath) started to move out, each sense-organ began to lose its intrinsic power of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. Eyes failed to see and ears to hear, the skin could not feel the touch, the tongue lost its tasting ability and the nose its sense of smelling. All the sense-organs realised their mistake and they entreated the Life Force (Prana) not to desert them. It is evident from this story that the doctrine of the Life Force (Prana) is the only supreme principle in the Life.

Chaitanya is the only religion, all the rest are modes of worship.

Everybody in the world asserts that, "Only my religion is superior". How would you refute this statement? Hindus claim that Hinduism is supreme, Muslims advocate that their religion is superior, Christians propagate that Christianity is superior and Christ is the saviour of the world. In this way all the religions boast their superiority to others. How would you convince them the superiority of Chaitanya-religion? The suitable reply to them is, according to our view, Consciouness (Chaitanya) is the only religion of the world. All other so called 'religions' are simply various modes of worship. The belief of Hindus in many deities gave rise to different sects which can be called as various paths (to Self-Realisation), such as Vaishnava and Shaiva are the two forms of worship. All these are different ways of worshipping the Consciousness (Chaitanya). Shiya and Sunni are the two sects amongst Muslims. They can be said as the two ways of approaching Chaitanya. Christianity too has different sects known as Catholic, Protestant etc. They too also in a way worship Chaitanya. All religions follow different ways of worshipping, but all of them really speaking, worship Chaitanya Shakti. If the Chaitanya-religion is not accepted, no religious worship is possible in the practical life. If Hindus desire to read Bhagavad Geeta, Muslims wish to read Kuran and Christians long to read Bible, without exception all will have to rely on the Life Force (Prana), Chaitanya. Worship of any kind is quite impossible without the presence of Prana.

Really speaking all the people of different sects (and religions) in a way worship the Consciousness (Chaitanya) by various ways. In this world there is nothing but Chaitanya, hence any worship devoid of Chaitanya will not only be spiritless but lifeless too and cannot exist. According to the discipline of the Siddha Yoga, the worship of Consciousness-(Chaitanya)-the Life Force (Prana) is acceptable to all followers of different sects. Therefore people of all (so called) religions in the world qualify themselves and are eligible for the practice of this Siddha Yoga.

Chanting of God's name is the worship of the Life Force (Prana):

Mostly all the great souls and the saints insist on chanting of the holy name of God. It is also considered to be the main and easy way of activating the Serpent Power (Kundalini Shakti). Then why do you harp on following the path of the Prana-Sadhana? Some people think that chanting of the holy name is insignificant. But it is not so. To understand the real value of 'Name', let us take an example in the practical Life.

A person named John died. The whole family was overshadowed with grief. "Oh! John has departed, who will now look after us? What will be our fate?". In this way the members of the family mourned. At that time a boy came there and said, "Why are you all weeping ? John is still lying here". But the elders in the family told him, "It is the body of John. John is not now in this body". John has deserted the body. Here a question arises that to whom we should attach the name John, to the body or to the Chaitanya?. It would be proper to say that it is the Chaitanya in John that has left the body. Here the name signifies Consciousness (Chaitanya) and name John = Life Force (Prana).

Our names in the practical life are quite essential to know one another, but our body is not our real form, for our true form is the Chaitanya, which resides in our bodies with different names. Hence chanting of holy name in essence is the worship of Chaitanya. The recitation of name (mantra), whenever possible, is the easier way of pleasing the Chaitanya. The chanting of the name of God and the worship of the Consciousness (Chaitanya) both are the same.

However it is also true that the recitation of 'name' is only possible so long as the Life Force (Prana Shakti) exists. In one Yogic path exhaling and inhaling of breath is recognised as the basic form of spiritual practice (Soham Sadhana).

The breath goes out with the sound 'Ha' and it re-enters with the sound 'Sa'. It means while breathing in the sound 'Sa' is heard, and while breathing out the sound 'Ha' is heard. The recitation of these two syllables 'Sa' and 'Ha' is going on without the actual utterance. In this Yogic practice there is no need of uttering these syllables for the practice of recitation, in a way it proves to be beyond the expression of words. It does not depend upon its utterance, for recitation is automatic and natural.

Having followed the Yogic practice, words are of no avail (are not useful in advance stage). The description of the Supreme Consciousness (Brahma Shakti) can be attemped by the utterance of Pranava or Omkar.

[Tr.: Pranava i.e. Om is an exponent of the Lord (God)]

[Tr.: The seeker who has an ardent desire to know God, transcends the performing of Vedic rites (Shabda Brahma)]

When the mind is yoked to the Life Force (Chaitanya) that is, when it is engaged in watching the natural and automatic breathing, the mind being absorbed, chanting of the name becomes impossible. Therefore the description of the supreme joy (Brahmanand) is beyond the expression.

By the practice of Yoga mind and speech get merged into the Life Force (Chaitanya), resultantly their existence is dissolved. The saint Shri Eknath Maharaj states clearly that when the articulation of words (speech) stops functioning, the Yogic practice of a seeker commences.

The Yoga means cessation of tendencies of mind. This definition of Yoga turns out easy to understand and experience. There is a difference between the ceasing and the restraining the tendencies of mind. In the practice of the Siddha Yoga the tendencies of mind cease automatically, they are not restrained (kept under control) by efforts. When the practice of the Siddha Yoga is faithfully and slowly continued all the tendencies of mind get dissolved into the basic vibration of the Life Force (Chaitanya).

Before initiation there is no better way of awakening the Serpent Power (Kundalini) than chanting the name i.e. the recitation of the name of the Deity of one's own choice or the name given by some spiritual person in authority. 'Chanting of name' should be resorted and continued all the while except at the time of meditation.

In Maharashtra, and or many other kinds of 'Chanting' (Nama Smaran) are well familiar to all people. It is quite essential to recite the name (Mantra) assigned by the spiritual master or the name of our own favourite deity. As cited earlier the practice of chanting (Nama-Sadhana) is by itself the worship (practice) of the Life Force (Chaitanya Sadhana).During the practice of meditation whatever experience arises automatically is allowed, hence, 'chanting of name' arising (within) involuntarily is preferred to doing it by oneself. The importance must be given to all those practices related to the Life Force (Prana). During the practice of meditation, it should be borne in mind that a peaceful and steady posture without any physical movement is an important part of this practice.

[ Tr.: Chanting of the name is greater than the sky.]

In this way according to the statement of saint Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj 'chanting' of the name should be considered as a subtle and efficacious way of practice. So everybody should always keep with him this efficacious weapon of 'chanting' (Nama Smaran) to cross the ocean of this material world, with its help, it will be possible to acquire the knowledge destroying illusion along with the help of the strong weapon of detachment.

The sweetness of automatic 'chanting' is unparallel, untiring and enjoyable. Deliberate 'chanting' with a purpose should be continued till it arises automatically from within. It will undebatedly prove beneficial. Hence the significance of the 'chanting' should be accepted. Many saints have accorded their consent to it.

[Tr.: Oh Soul, recite the name of the Lord Datta with each and every breath.]

In this precept saint P.P. Shri Rang Avadoot Maharaj states 'Chanting' is advantageous. It is quite well said. While 'chanting' if the words of the name (Mantra) are not uttered, the vibrations of the remaining words get spirited and it will be the worship of the Consciousness (Chaitanya), which, in other words, will be self-surrendering supreme devotion in the form of knowledge at the feet of the Almighty.

Devotion is classified in nine ways -

It may be questioned that where this Siddhayoga Sadhana stands, in this classified ways of devotion towards the Almighty. It is the nineth class of devotion i.e. praising the Chaitanya with the mind without any thought. In this way the followers of Siddha Yoga automatically perform the highest type of devotion of . In other words Chaitanya in the form of pure thoughtless state of mind worships the all pervading Chaitanya and it can be stated as [Tr.: The wise (realised) worship their own soul.