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Paperback: 234 pages
ISBN: 81-7052-152-1
Book Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 290 grams



Swami Sivananda

Table of Contents

About This Book (Back Cover)  
Publishers’ Note 7
Instructions of Sankara 8
Sri Sadguru Stotra 10
Introduction 19


1. Yoga Defined 29
2. Object of Yoga 35


1. Hints on Sadhana 36
2. Bhakti Yoga Sadhana 36
3. Hatha Yoga Sadhana 36
4. Karma Yoga Sadhana 37
5. Raja Yoga Sadhana 37
6. Jnana Yoga Sadhana 38
7. Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga 38
8. Different Paths 38
9. Period of Sadhana 39
10. What Is Vairagya 40
11. Para Vairagya 42
12. Auxiliaries to Yoga Sadhana 43
13. Obstacles in Yoga 44
14. Causes of Distractions 45
15. Remedy for Distractions 46


1. Eight Accessories of Yoga 47
2. Benefits of the Accessories 47
3. What Is Yama 48
4. Universal Vows 49
5. Ahimsa 50
6. Satya 51
7. Asteya 52
8. Brahmacharya 53
9. Aparigraha 53
1. What Is Niyama 55
2. Kriya Yoga 56
3. Benefits of Purification 56
4. Benefits of External Purification 57
5. Benefits of Internal Purification 57
6. Santosha 58
7. Tapas 59
8. Svadhyaya 59
9. Isvarapranidhana 60


1. Who Is Isvara 61
2. Source of Knowledge 61
3. The Guru of All 62
4. Name of Isvara 62
5. Japa of Om 64
6. Benefits of Japa 65
7. Benefits of Devotion 66
8. Instructions on Bhakti 66


1. What Is Asana 69
2. How to Get Asanajaya 70
3. Benefits of Asana 71
4. Instructions on Asanas 72


1. What Is Pranayama 73
2. What Is Prana 73
3. Yoga Nadis 75
4. Chakras 75
5. Prana and Mind 75
6. Prana and Breath 76
7. Pranayama Exercises 76
8. Preliminary Exercise 78
9. Sukha Purvaka Pranayama 78
10. Kevala Kumbhaka 79
11. Benefits of Pranayama 80
12. Mind Fit for Concentration 80
13. Hints on Pranayama Practice 81


1. Modifications of Mind 82
2. Five Modifications 82
3. Pramana 83
4. Viparyaya 84
5. Vikalpa 85
6. Nidra 86
7. Smriti 87


1. What Are the Afflictions 88
2. What Is Avidya 88
3. Avidya Explained 89
4. How to Remove Avidya 90
5. What Is Egoism 90
6. What Is Raga 91
7. What Is Dvesha 92
8. What Is Abhinivesa 93
9. How to Remove Raga, Dvesha and Abhinivesa 93
10. How to Remove Evil Thoughts 94
11. What Is Pratipaksha Bhavana 95
12. The Root of Afflictions 96
13. The Effect of Afflictions 97
14. Fruits of Afflictions 98
15. Destroy Afflictions 99
16. Karma in Yogis 99
17. Karma and Environments 100
18. Karmas in a Viveki 101
19. Avoid Misery 102
20. The Cause of Misery 102
21. Definition of "The Seen" 103
22. Ignorance Is the Cause 104
23. The Means for Kaivalya 105


1. Consecutiveness in Desires 105
2. Desire Is Beginningless 107
3. How to Destroy Desires 108
4. Mind Acts for the Purusha 109
5. Desireless Mind 109


1. Time and Gunas 110
2. Nature of Characteristics 110
3. Reality of Things 111
4. Stages of Gunas 112
5. Hints on Gunas 113


1. Ways of Mind Differ 114
2. Mind and Perception 115
3. Mind Is Coloured by Objects 116
4. Purusha Knows All Modifications 116
5. Mind Is Not Self-luminous 117
6. Mind Does One Thing at a Time 117
7. Cognition by One Mind 118
8. Mind Shines by Borrowed Light 119
9. Mind Understands Everything 119
10. Transformation of Mind 120
11. Dharmi Explained 120
12. Changes in Dharmas 121


1. Control by Abhyasa and Vairagya 121
2. What Is Abhyasa 122
3. Control by Suppression of Vrittis 123
4. Make the Suppression Steady 124
5. Control Mind by Virtues 124
6. Control Mind by Pranayama 125
7. Control Mind by Vedantic Method 125


1. What Is Pratyahara 126
2. Benefits of Pratyahara 127


1. What Is Dharana 129
2. The Mind of Distractions 130
3. Dharana on Sense Perception 130
4. Dharana on Sattvic Mind 131
5. Dharana on the Desireless Mind 132
6. Dharana on the Knowledge of Dream 133
7. Dharana on Triputi 133
8. Dharana on Any Chosen Object 134
9. The Concentrated Mind 135
10. Benefits of Dharana 137
11. Instructions on Dharana 137


1. What Is Samyama 139
2. Samyama As Antaranga Sadhana 139
3. Samyama As Bahiranga Sadhana 140
4. Benefits of Samyama 140
5. Samyama on External Objects 141
6. Samyama on Internal Centres 146
7. Samyama on Virtues 151
8. Samyama on Discrimination 151
9. Samyama on Sabda and Artha 152
10. Samyama on Karma 153
11. Samyama on Chakras and Nadis 153
12. Fruits of Pratibha 157
13. What Is Taraka 157
14. Parakaya Pravesa 158
15. Samyama on Forms 161
16. Eight Siddhis 162
17. Perfection of Body 163
18. Other Means for Siddhis 164
19. Instruction on Samyama 165


1. What Is Dhyana 168
2. Instructions on Dhyana 169


1. What Is Samadhi 172
2. Means for Samadhi 172
3. Dharmamegha Samadhi 174
4. Benefits of Dharmamegha Samadhi 175
5. Samprajnata Samadhi 177
6. Asamprajnata Samadhi 180
7. Benefits of Nirvichara Samadhi 184
8. Instructions on Samadhi 188
1. What Is Kaivalya 190
2. Means for Kaivalya 190
3. Purusha Cognises Through Intellect 191
4. Knowable Is for the Purusha 192
5. Pradhana Is Not Destroyed 192
6. Samyoga Explained 192
7. Mind Is Not Purusha 193
8. Discrimination Is Sevenfold 194
9. Mind Fit for Kaivalya 195
10. Thoughts Are Obstacles 195
11. Remedy for Obstacles 196
Epilogue 198


A. Gleanings 201
B. Psychic Influence 206
C. Glossary 219
D. Reference to Sutras 226

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About This Book

Yoga is not one way of living among many. It is the only way—gathering of your personality with one purpose. The removal of the idea of externality of the object is the process of meditation. There are certain misconceptions about Yoga. It is not magic or feat of any kind, mental or physical. It is based on a sound philosophy and deep psychology. It is an education process by which the human mind is trained to become more and more natural and weaned from the unnatural conditions of life.

Very few authentic commentaries on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Maharshi are available today. And, the aspirants in this science-minded world of today take a keener interest in this Branch of Raja Yoga.

All the Western Sadhakas take to the practice of Raja Yoga. In Europe and America, hundreds of men and women Sadhakas owe their progress in the practice of Raja Yoga to the practical and efficient guidance of Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Sri Swamiji's approach is direct, clear and positive.

There has been a persistent demand for a reprint of Sri Swamiji's Raja Yoga. We are happy now to be able to present the readers with a reprint of this precious volume.

Publishers’ Note

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Maharshi are the standard Text on Yoga and these Sutras constitute a philosophy as well as a practical technique of meditation. The purpose of the Yoga way of analysis is an overcoming of the limitations of both subjectivity and objectivity and a union of the deepest within us and the deepest in the Cosmos. Yoga is not one way of living among many. It is the only way—gathering of your personality with one purpose. The removal of the idea of externality of the object is the process of meditation. There are certain misconceptions about Yoga. It is not magic or feat of any kind, mental or physical. It is based on a sound philosophy and deep psychology. It is an education process by which the human mind is trained to become more and more natural and weaned from the unnatural conditions of life.

Very few authentic commentaries on the Yoga Sutras are available today. And, the aspirants in this science-minded world of today take a keener interest in this Branch of Yoga. All the Western Sadhakas take to the practice of Raja Yoga. In Europe and America, hundreds of men and women Sadhakas owe their progress in the practice of Raja Yoga to the practical and efficient guidance of Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Sri Swamiji’s approach is direct, clear and positive.

There has been a persistent demand for a reprint of Sri Swamiji’s Raja Yoga. We are happy now to be able to present the readers with a reprint of this precious volume.


28th July, 1999
Sri Guru Purnima

We offer our obeisance by word, mind and body
to Patanjali, Vyasa and to all other Rishis and Yogic
Masters, who are like so many suns to remove the
darkness of Ajnana.

Instructions of Sankara

1. Know that this life is most transient and changing like water on a lotus leaf and that all people suffer from disease, egoism and miseries.

2. Engage yourself in right earnest to the practice of control of breath and abstraction of senses and to the discrimination between the real and the unreal and also to the practice of Samadhi along with recitation of Mantra—bestow great attention to these.

3. Why is your mind wandering in various directions with anxieties, O peaceless man? Is there no one to guide you, who, catching hold of your hands steadfastly, can cause true knowledge to dawn in you by explaining creation, destruction, etc.?

4. Get yourself free from the Samsara (wheel of birth and death) by taking shelter at the Lotus Feet of your Guru; and realise the Self in your heart by controlling the senses and the mind.

Sadguru Stotra

The Guru is the beginning; yet he is without a beginning; the Guru is the Supreme Lord; there is no other than the Guru; Salutations to that Guru.

Salutations to that Guru, whose ‘Charanamrita’ dries up the ocean of Samsara and enables one to acquire the essential wealth of the Atman.

Salutations to Brahman who is an embodiment of the Truth, the cause for this world, the embodiment of wisdom, the support for all worlds, one without a second, giver of Moksha, who is all-pervading and who is eternal.


(1) What Is Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga is the king of all Yogas. It concerns directly with the mind. In this Yoga there is no struggling with Prana or physical body. There are no Hatha Yogic Kriyas. The Yogi sits at ease, watches his mind and silences the bubbling thoughts. He stills the mind and restrains the thought-waves and enters into the thoughtless state or Asamprajnata Samadhi. Hence the name Raja Yoga. Though Raja Yoga is a dualistic philosophy and treats of Prakriti and Purusha, it helps the student in Advaitic Realisation of oneness eventually. Though there is the mention of Purusha, ultimately the Purusha becomes identical with the Highest Self or Brahman of the Upanishads. Raja Yoga pushes the student to the highest rung of the spiritual ladder, Advaitic Realisation of Brahman.

(2) The Author

Patanjali Maharshi is the exponent of Yoga Philosophy. Now Patanjali is regarded as the last of the Avataras. You will find in Yajnavalkya Smriti that Hiranyagarbha was the original teacher of Yoga. Patanjali Maharshi is only a compiler or explainer of the Yogic precepts, doctrines and tenets taught by Hiranyagarbha.

(3) Yoga Sutras

Patanjali Yoga Philosophy is written in Sutras. A ‘Sutra’ is a terse verse. It is an aphoristic saying. It is pregnant with deep, hidden significance. Rishis of yore have expressed the philosophical ideas and their realisation in the form of Sutras only. It is very difficult to understand the meaning of the Sutras without the help of a commentary, a gloss or a teacher who is well-versed in Yoga. A Yogi with full realisation can explain the Sutras beautifully. Literally, Sutra means a thread. Just as various kinds of flowers with different colours are nicely arranged in a string to make a garland, just as rows of pearls are beautifully arranged in a string to form a necklace, so also Yogic ideas are well arranged in Sutras. They are arranged into Chapters.

(4) The First Chapter

The first Chapter is Samadhipada. It deals with different kinds of Samadhi. It contains 51 Sutras. Obstacles in meditation, five kinds of Vrittis and their control, three kinds of Vairagya, nature of Isvara, various methods to enter into Samadhi and the way to acquire peace of mind by developing virtues are described here.

(5) The Second Chapter

This is Sadhanapada. It contains 55 Sutras. It treats of Kriya Yoga viz., Tapas, study and self-surrender to God, the five Kleshas, the methods to destroy these afflictions which stand in the way of getting Samadhi, Yama and Niyama and their fruits, practice of Asana and its benefits, Pratyahara and its advantage, etc.

(6) The Third Chapter

The third Chapter is Vibhutipada. It contains 56 Sutras. It treats of Dharana, Dhyana and various kinds of Samyama on external objects, mind, internal Chakras and on several objects to acquire various Siddhis.

(7) The Fourth Chapter

The fourth Chapter is Kaivalyapada or Independence. It contains 34 Sutras. It treats of the Independence of a full-blown Yogi who has perfect discrimination between Prakriti and Purusha, and who has separated himself from the three Gunas. It also deals with mind and its nature. Dharmamegha Samadhi also is described here.

(8) A New Order

The original Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Maharshi are given in the above order into four Chapters. But this book presents a new classification of the subject matter. I have divided the above into fourteen Chapters to render the subject very, very clear and attractive. By so doing many repetitions and confusions are avoided. By the present arrangement, it is very easy to remember the Sutras and the different headings and subject matter connected with each heading. The Raja Yoga philosophy is now rendered attractive and easy for digestion and assimilation. The eight limbs of Raja Yoga viz., Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are treated separately under 8 Chapters along with many other Chapters on Yoga Sadhana, Mind, Its Mysteries and Control, etc. The word-to-word meaning will be of immense use for the students in understanding the meaning of the Sutra. The Chapter on mind in 6 Sections will help the student much in his practical Sadhana. I have added copious annotations and commentary under each Sutra. This will throw a flood of light wherever the students come across with abstruse, knotty and intricate points on Yoga. This book will supply a long-felt want. It has its own charm, beauty and attractive features. In the Appendix D, the original Sutras in Sanskrit in 4 Chapters are given in order for easy reference of the students. Page number with reference to the Sutras is also given. There will be no difficulty at all in finding out any particular Sutra.

(9) The Yogic Charlatans

A Yogi came to Calcutta and exhibited in the University the feats of drinking pure Nitric acid, swallowing nails and chewing glass pieces. My friend Sri Srinivasa Poddar was present on the occasion. People were struck with wonder. He licked the Nitric acid like honey. But he was a purely commercial man. He made a demonstration of these feats to any one who could pay Rs. 30. Can there be any iota or grain of spirituality or real Yoga where business transactions are made? I leave this for the readers to judge. The poor Yogi died in Rangoon on account of some carelessness in his Kriya. There is nothing really extraordinary in these feats. It is mere Sammohana Vidya, Indrajala or Preta-vidya. There are some herbs to destroy the evil effects of acids and glass pieces. Such feats are not a symptom of spiritual knowledge. Living for four hundred years also is not a sure criterion of advanced spirituality. Through Indrajala one can erect a splendid palace with electric lights and other fittings. One man used to emit light from his anus. He had this Siddhi. He misused this power in evil ways and had a downfall. Possession of Siddhis is not a sign of Self-realisation or spiritual advancement.

(10) Siddhis

I do not deny the true powers of a developed Yogi. Sri Dattatreya created a woman through his Yogic powers. Queen Chudalai created a false husband out of her Yogic power to test her husband Sikhidhvaja. Trailinga Swami, Sri Jnana Dev, Sadasiva Brahman and others had tremendous powers. But there are many Yogic charlatans who deceive the public with some false exhibitions for getting money, fame and name. A real spiritual man will never demonstrate any Siddhi. But he may at times exhibit some power just to convince his students or to bring good to the public. Chudalai appeared before her husband Sikhidhvaja and stood a few feet above the ground. Sikhidhvaja was quite astonished and took Chudalai as his Guru. Matsyendranath did many miracles to convince Gorakhnath in the truth of Yogic practices. Lord Jesus also exhibited many miracles to convince his disciples.

(11) Samadhi

A Hatha Yogi gets himself buried in a box underneath the ground. He does this by plugging the nostrils through Khechari Mudra. This is no doubt a difficult Kriya. He gets Jada Samadhi. This is a state like deep sleep. The Samskaras and Vasanas are not fried by this Samadhi. He does not return with super-intuitional knowledge. This cannot give Mukti. This is a kind of feat only. This is not a sign of spirituality. People use this Kriya for acquiring money, name and fame. This has become a commercial business. When they come out of the box, they stretch their hands for money. They make transactions before they enter the box. When the Yogi enters into the box, the head must be shaved. When he comes out after his Samadhi, there will not be any growth of hair if it is real Khechari Mudra.

(12) Indrajala

Tie the hands and legs of a man with iron chains and shut him in a room. Before you lock the room he will be standing before you. No doubt this is very astonishing. But it is a mere trick. It is a kind of Jalam. A man throws a rope in the air and ascends in the air. All people are actually witnessing. But when photographed, there will be no picture on the plate. This is a trick and a Jalam. Some people can sit on a plank studded with sharpened nails and can chew snakes likes chocolates. If you pierce a long needle in their arms, no blood will come out. Some can draw water from stone. A real Yogi and a Yogic charlatan can perform all these things. A real Yogi does through his Yogic powers for certain good purpose in view but a charlatan does through some trick or Jalam for the sake of little money, name or fame.

(13) Pseudo Yogis

The public will take a man to be spiritual only if he exhibits some Siddhis. It is a sad, serious mistake. They must be over-credulous. They will be easily duped by these Yogic charlatans. They must use their power of discrimination and reasoning. They must study their nature, ways, habits, conduct, Vritti, Svabhava, antecedence, etc., and test their knowledge of scriptures, before they come to any definite conclusion. Beware of Yogic charlatans!

(14) Importance of Yoga

Practice of Yoga annihilates all the pains of Samsara. Yoga and Jnana are the two wings of the bird of Moksha. Jnana (book knowledge) without Yoga (direct intuitive perception) is useless. Yoga (mere knowledge of Asanas, Mudras, Neti, Dhauti, etc.) without Jnana (Anubhava Jnana) is not perfect. Jnana arises through Yoga (union with Supreme Self). Jnana is the fruit of Yoga. Jnana without Yoga is useless. Yoga without Jnana is dry and barren. Raja Yoga is the Science of sciences. Lord Krishna says: "Kingly science, kingly secret, supreme purifier, this. Intuitional according to righteousness, very, very easy to perform, imperishable."

(15) Unconscious Raja Yogis

Those who invented aeroplanes, steam-engines, motor-cars, railways, wireless, telegraphy, television, gramophone, talkies, etc., are really unconscious Raja Yogis. They had intense concentration and very sharp intellect. But there is this difference between these materialistic Raja Yogis and Adhyatmic Raja Yogis. Inventors work with a Vyavaharic gross intellect or practical reason of Kant or Asuddha Manas of the Upanishads, or the instinctive mind or Kama Manas of the Theosophists. On the contrary, Raja Yogis work with a subtle, pure intellect, with a Chitta that is purified through the practice of Yama and Niyama. The mind works in the external grooves in the former and in internal grooves in the latter. If the same energy utilised by the inventors is turned inward in the internal grooves in introspection, self-analysis, self-examination and concentration on the Self, they will turn out as marvellous Raja Yogis in a short time.

(16) Siddha Jnanis

The world demands Siddha Jnanis or Yogi Jnanis like Bhagavan Sri Sankaracharya. Kevala Jnani is one who is not able to help the world much but who has obtained Self-realisation for himself. He is good for himself only. He is like a star which glitters at night only. He is not known to the world at large. But a Siddha Jnani or Yogi-Jnani is a glorious person who like the sun shines in the world. He is a Jnani who has Siddhis as well. He is a Jnani and Yogi combined. He can help the world immensely. Sri Sankaracharya, Jesus Christ, Buddha were all Siddha Jnanis.

(17) Conclusion

You too can become a Sankara, Buddha or a Jesus by right kind of Sadhana. You have all the materials within you. You will have to start some sort of spiritual Sadhana now in right earnest. Rise up. Be energetic. May God bless you with spiritual strength, peace, Ananda and Kaivalya (final beatitude). Let me remind you the words of Lord Krishna: "The Yogi is greater than the ascetic; he is thought to be greater than the wise; the Yogi is also greater than the men of action; therefore, become thou a Yogi." I earnestly request you all to become a real Yogi. "Sarveshu Kaleshu Yogayukto Bhava!" This is my sincere prayer.

(18) The First Sutra

Now an exposition of Raja Yoga will be given.


This is the first Sutra. Yoga means union or yoke. Yoga is a method by which the individual soul becomes united with the Supreme Soul, the Reality that underlies this universe. Yoga also is defined as an effort to separate the Reality from the apparent. Now I will proceed to explain the system of Raja Yoga philosophy in detail with word by word meaning and explanatory notes on all the Sutras of Patanjali Maharshi, and bring home the salient and vital points in the Yoga system.

Swami Sivananda

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