Yogadhyaya (Study of Yoga), Yoga Siddhi (Achievement) and Yogicharya (Practice)

King Alarka expressed his gratitude to Mahatma Dattatreya that he gave him the solace in clearing his conscience about the eventualiy of stepping down from his throne in favour of his brother Subahu. But his doubt in his mind continued to waver and was not able to detach from natural strings. He desired to learn the art of disconnecting human psyche from Paramatma, so that there would not be a recurrence of ‘Punarjanma’ (Rebirth). Dattatreya replied: Yogecha shaktividusham yena shreyah param bhavet, Muktiryogaatatha yogah samyakjnaa mahipathey /Sangaddoshod bhavah duhkha mamatwasakta chetasamam/ (Yogis are able to distinguish ‘Gyan’ from ‘Agyan’ and that is called ‘Mukti’; manifestation of Parabrahma takes place despite the natural features of the illusory world. From Yoga emerges ‘Moksha’, ‘Samyak Gyan’ (detailed analysis) comes from Yoga, ‘Duhkha’ (Sorrow) springs from Gyan; ‘Mamata’ (Sense of Belonging) comes from ‘Duhkha’. Further, Selflessness demolishes ‘Mamata’ and results in ‘Viragya’; this is the state suitable for Yoga or configuration of the Self with the Super Force. Yoga comprises ‘Pranaayaam’ which eliminates slip-ups or mistakes; ‘Dharana’ enables reduction of sins or at any rate, not adding to them; ‘Pratyahaara’ resists material desires and ‘Dhyaana’ not only burns up the wavering thoughts and blemishes but retains the alignment with the Supreme. The foremost step thus is to practise Pranaayaam which actually denotes wind-control or the regulation of both ‘Prana Vayu’ (inhaling of breath) at the entry points of nose and ‘Apana Vayu’ (exhaling of breath) at the exit point. Pranaayaam is in three forms, viz. Laghu (of twelve matras or units), Madhyam (double of the matras or of twenty matras), and ‘Uttareeya’ (further double of matras or of forty eight). Each ‘matra’ or the unit comprises of one ‘Nimesh’ and ‘Unmesha’ (inhale and exhale) together. By the first Pranaayaam, one should get sweat; the second should experience shivers; and the third Pranaayaam should be able to knock down sorrows and imperfections. Just as a trainer tames wild animals like elephants or lions and bring them under full control, a Yogi would be able to take full control of the animals; an elephant would obey the commands of the ‘Mahout’ and a lion would be trained to kill deers but not the Ring Master. Then there are four kinds of Pranaayaams, viz. Dhwasti, Praapti, Samvit and Prasad. ‘Dhwasti’ is the stage when the sinful deeds of known or unknown nature of the Yoga practitioner are washed out and blemishes of the ‘chitta’ or the mind are cleaned up; in the second stage of ‘Prapti’, the Yogis experience that stage when they are indeed accessible to ‘Ihika’ and ‘Amushmika’ (worldly and extra-terrestrial) desires but volantarily resist them; ‘Samvita’ is that superior stage of Yoga when exceptional Yogis enjoy an elevated status possessing  that kind of  ‘Gyaan Shakti’ with celestial vision and capacity like those of  Sun, Moon and Stars and possessing the awareness of each and every thing in the Universe like the knowledge of ‘Ateetha’ (beyond one’s imagination), ‘Anaagata’ (not possible to visualise but can be identified), ‘Tirohita’ (unmanifested) and ‘Dooragrastha’ (distantly available) entities; and finally the ‘Prasad’ type of Pranayaama when the most hallowed Yogis possess the chitta (mind), Pancha Vaayu (Prana, Apaana, Samaana, Udaana and Samaana Vayus), Indriyas (Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue and Skin).

After describing Pranaayam as an integral component of Yoga, Dattatreya explained about ‘Asanas’ (Seating Postures) among which the important ones are Padmaasana, Ardhaasana and Swastikaasana. While squatted with both the flat feet crossed on both the thighs, the Yoga Practitioner should focus on the tip of the nose; perform Pranaayama by controlling the breath or the life force; practise ‘Pratyahara’ or the process of abstraction by withdrawing the sense organs from worldly objects; then move on to the next stage of ‘Dhaarana’ by focussing the entire concentration on a single object; further on, get into the mode of ‘Dhyana’ by way of meditation or the most intense contemplation of the object and finally merge the total consciousness with Paramatma by way of ‘Samadhi’ or Liberation. This way, the Yogi’s deficiencies are overcome, a state of peaceful contentment is arrived at and the vision of Parabrahma is attained. As he intakes air through the nostrils, first it touches the naval, next the heart, the chest, the neck, the mouth, the tip of the nose, the eyes, the ‘bhru’, and the upper portion of the forehead. When Yoga is practised with pure heart and soul, the upkeep of the Body is automatically ensured and long standing disorders are rectified and health is completely toned up, for Physical fitness is the gateway to the accomplishment of the Four ‘Purusharthas’ of Dharma, Kama, Artha and Moksha.

Once ‘Atma Darshan’ (Vision of the Soul) is possible, the Yogi is able to fulfill all kinds of unfulfilled wishes that might have been missed in his erstwhile life, say, Stree, Daan, Vidya, Maya, Dhana, Swarga, Amaratva, Devendrathva, Yagna phal, Agnipravesh, Upavas phal, Shraddha phal etc. However, there could be ‘Vighnas’ (obstacles) to the Yogis in bestowing full advantage of the fruits of Yoga,  but, there are five means of  Upa Sarga Yogas  Viz. Pratibha, Shravan, Daiva, Bhrama and Avartha which would be able to overcome the impediments. The Yogi’s ‘Pratibha’ (Radiance) like that of a ‘Daiva’ (Deity) made popular by ‘Shravan’ (hearing) in the eight directions but is misunderstood by ‘Bhrama’ (misinterpretation) and hence the Yogi should protect himself by shrouding a white blanket viz. ‘Guru Gyan’ and highlight Parabrahma’s singular thought; the Yogi ought to imagine the ‘Sukshma’  (the minutest) form of ‘Panchabhutas’ viz. Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Sky, assume (do ‘Dharana’ or hold) these forms one after another, experience their features, and discard the forms and features of the Five Elements gradually. This process of rejection of the end-products of the Five Elements and their the multiple shapes, features, Gunas and characteristics; in other words, the taste of the Earthly products of food, fruits, and drinks; coolness, crops and bathing comfort of Water; the very many possibilities of cooking food, performing Yagnas, illumination, and so on by Fire; and similarly of Air and Sky. The possibilites of Creation, family life, and endless such ramifications of comfort and relief are all a part of the the effects of ‘Panchabhutas’ and their alternate forms. Therefore, the Yogi needs to control Panchabhutas and the never-ending varieties of their offshoots; instead of being controlled by the desires and that is what the Vasitva Shakti all about.Yogis would then be able to assume various powers like Anima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Ishitva, Vasithva etc. But, true Yogis never satisfy themselves with the powers of ‘Vasitva’ and terminate their endeavour to pursue the path of Realisation of Brahma, since they are aware that the ‘Visithva’ Power is only a tool but certainly not the end by itself. As such, they continue the ‘Yogacharya’ (practice of the ‘Yoga Marg’) in the normal course if life, by observing the regulations of Varnashrama ranging from the ‘Atithya’ (honouring the guests, Shraddha, Yagna, Tirtha Yatra, charities, ‘Asteya’ (non-stealing), ‘Brahmacharya’ (celibacy),‘Tyaga’ (Sacrifice), ‘Alobha’(liberal attitude) and ‘Ahimsa’; also ‘Akrodha’ (calmness and composure), ‘Guru susrusha’(devotion and service to Guru), ‘Shoucha’
(Cleanliness), ‘Ahara laghuta’ (minimal food) and ‘Nithya Vedadhyan’ (constant Study of Vedas);’Jnaanaajnaana vichakshana’ (capacity to distinguish knowledge and ignorance), loneliness/ aloofness;‘jitendriyata’ (self-control) and ‘Nitya Dhyana’ (Constant Meditation) of ‘Omkara’ which comprises of the Three Words viz. ‘A’ kara representing Brahma of Satvika Guna; ‘U’ representing Rajo Guna of Vishnu; and ‘Makara of Tajo Guna representing Siva.While thus engaged in the recitation of Pranava Mantra and its ‘Mananam’ (Understanding of its far reaching implications), the Yogi finally breaks away from the shackles of ‘Samsara’ yet retaining the ‘Jyatismrututa phala’ or the awareness of previous births as a follow up by Siddhis and Yogitva.

[Yoga Siddhis The Nine Principal Yoga Siddhis are: ‘Parakaya Pravesha’ (One’s Soul entering into the body of another being and reviving even a dead body); ‘Haadi Vidya’ (The Knowledge of overcoming hunger and thirst);’Kaadi Vidya’ (The knowledge of enduring all Seasons like Summer, Winter and Rain and the Power of immunity from the severities of heat, cold and rain); ‘Vayu Gamana Siddhi ‘(The capacity to fly fast and far); ‘Madalasa Vidya’ (The art of increasing or decreasing one’s physical size as per one’s wish); ‘Kanakadhara Siddhi’ (Knowledge of acquiring unlimited wealth); ‘Prakya Sadhana’ (The ability to direct a disciple to give birth to a child); and ‘Surya Vigyan’ (the potential of converting any substance to any other substance by applying Sun Rays). There is another version of ‘Ashta Siddhis’ as per the Purana of Maha Bhagavata, viz. ‘Anima’ (Conversion to an infinitesimal size); ‘Mahima’ (Expanding to an infinitely large size); ‘Garima’ (Turn any substance as an infinitely heavy object);’Laghima’ (Convert a substance as almost weightless); ‘Prapti’ (secure unrestricted access to any Place); ‘Prakamya’ (Accomplish whatever is desired); Isitva (Attainment of absolute Sovereignty) and ‘Vasitva’ (Capacity to vanquish any body or anything). Maha Bhagavata Purana also referred to Ten Subsidiary Siddhis viz. ‘Anurmimattvam’ (Not bothered by hunger, thirst etc.); ‘Doora Shravanam’(Hearing from far); Doora Darshanam (Ability to see from far); ‘Mano Java’ (moving one’s body where thought goes or teleportation); ‘Kaamarupam’ (Assuming any type of body including animals, birds, flies etc.); ‘Parakaaya pravesham’ (entering other’s  body); Swacchanda Maranam (Voluntary death); ‘Devanaam saha krida anudarshanam’ (Co-Play and Vision with Devas); ‘Yatha Samkalpa Samsiddhi’ (Achievement of one’s own desires as per thoughts) and ‘Aagnaa apratihathi gati’ (Commands being obeyed). The Epic of Maha Bhagavata further gave Five more Siddhis viz. ‘Trikaala Jnaanatvam’ (The Knowledge of the Past, Present and the Future); ‘Advandam’ (Forbearance of heat, cold and rain);‘Parachittadi abhijnaata’ (Knowing other’s mind); ‘Agni arka ambu visha adinaam pratisthubhah ‘(Countering the power of Fire, Sun, Poison etc.); and ‘Aparaajaya’ (Invincible).]

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at