Fourteen Lessons on Raja Yoga

by Swami Sivananda

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Book Code: ES50
127 pages
ISBN: 8170521106
Book Dimensions: 7.0 x 4.75 x 0.25 inches
Shipping Weight: 100 grams

Table of Contents

About This Book (Back Cover)  
Preface 6
Introduction to Yoga 8

Lesson One

Fruits of Yoga 25
The Three Gunas 25
The Universal Substratum 26
Preliminary Sadhana 27

Lesson Two

Selflessness and Cosmic Love 29

Purity and Self-restraint

Virtues for Rapid Progress 30
Eradicate Evil Qualities 31
Positive Overcomes Negative 31

Lesson Three

Influence of Food 33
Qualities of Food 33
Selection of Diet 34
Knowledge of Dietetics 35
Be Judicious 35
Nature of Foodstuffs 36
Eat To Live 37
Meat-eating Is Ruinous 38
General Hints 38

Lesson Four

What Is Mind? 40
Modifications of Mind 40
As You Think, So You Become 41
Mind and Prana 41
The Dividing Wall 42
Control of Mind 43

The Cause for Bondage


Lesson Five

Influence of Sattva 47
Power of Rajas 48
Sway of Tamas 48
The Contrasts 49
Without Gunas There Is No World 50

Lesson Six

What Is Om? 52
Thy Goal Is Om 53
Japa of Om 53
Meditation on Om 54
All Indeed Is Om 55
The Common Symbol 55
Realise Through Om 56

Lesson Seven

The Eightfold Yoga 58
What Is Yama? 58
Ahimsa 58
Power of Ahimsa 59
Who Can Practise Ahimsa? 60
Satya (Truthfulness) 61
Asteya (Non-stealing) 61
Brahmacharya (Continence) 62
Aparigraha (Non-covetousness) 63
Niyama (Observance) 63

Lesson Eight


What is Asana?

Poses for Meditation 65
Important Asanas: Their Benefits 66
Anyone Can Practise Asanas 67
General Hints 68

Lesson Nine

What Is Prana? 70
The Connecting Link 71
The Power Behind 72

Control the Prana

A Curative Force 73

Lesson Ten

What Is Pranayama? 75
Exercise No. 1 75
Exercise No. 2 76
Exercise No. 3 76
Exercise No. 4 76
Ex. No. 5: Savasana Pranayama 77
Ex. No. 6: Bhastrika 77
Ex. No. 7: Kapalabhati 78
Ex. No. 8: Ujjayi 78
Ex. No. 9: Sitkari 78
Ex. No. 10: Sitali 79
Ex. No. 11: Surya Bheda 79
Ex. No. 12: Bandhatraya Pranayama 79
Ex. No. 13: Kevala Kumbhaka 80
Ex. No. 14: Deep Breathing 80
Pranic Healing 80
Distant Healing 81
General Hints 81
General Benefits 82

Lesson Eleven

What Is Pratyahara 84
How to Practise Pratyahara 85
Aids to Pratyahara 86
Obstacles to Pratyahara 88
A Raja Yogic Sadhana 88

Lesson Twelve

What Is Dharana? 90
Aids to Concentration 90
How to Concentrate: 91
i. On Ishta Devata 92
ii. For Christians 92
iii. On Gross Forms 92
iv. Subtle Methods 93
v. On Sounds 93
vi. The Sufi Method 94
vii. On Trikuti 94
General Hints 94
Obstacles 95

Lesson Thirteen

What Is Dhyana? 97
Benefits of Meditation 97
How to Meditate? 98
Saguna Meditation 99
Meditation on Jesus 99
Meditation on Lord Hari 100
Meditation on Om 100
Abstract Meditation 101
Experiences in Meditation 102
Obstacles in Meditation 104

Lesson Fourteen

What Is Samadhi? 106
Aids to Samadhi 107
Obstacles to Samadhi 107
Jada and Chaitanya Samadhi 108
Savikalpa Samadhi 108
Nirvikalpa Samadhi 109


Experiences in Raja Yoga 115
Twenty Hints on Meditation 123

About This Book

Life today is full of stress and strain, of tension and nervous irritability, of passion and hurry. If man puts into practice a few of the elementary principles of Yoga, he would be far better equipped to cope with his complex existence.

Yoga is complete life. It is a method which overhauls all aspects of human personality. Yoga is a system of integral education. The science of Raja Yoga is universal, it is applicable to all.

The fourteen elementary lessons on Raja Yoga are an enumeration of Patanjali’s octagonal system which begins with ethical discipline and ends with the final dissolution of the individual perception in the cosmic consciousness. No impossible methods are advocated herein. No allegiance is demanded to a particular cult. Here indeed is shown the way to live full and happy life to one’s own personal advantage and usefulness to others.


The fourteen elementary lessons on Raja Yoga are meant for the seeker who said, ‘Yoga is my ideal, but I know not whether it is a kind of mystic esoterism of the psyche, or a process of acquiring supernatural feats coveted by early mortals.’ Here is, consequently, a comprehensive, clear and succinct exposition of the wonderful, psycho-analytical and highly rational system of Raja Yoga, which goes a long way to dispel wrong notions of its true nature, and emphasises its extraordinary value in the emolument of true happiness and an integral development of the personality of man.

Here is found an enumeration of Patanjali’s octagonal system which begins with ethical discipline and ends with the final dissolution of individual perception in the cosmic consciousness-whole. Auxiliary notes have been added to this to specify the qualifications required of a Yogic student, the diet to be chosen, the process of harmonising the mental modifications, etc. Added to these is an exposition of the Philosophy of Om which provides a basis for the practice of concentration and meditation.

To refresh your memory and to help summarise each lesson, questions have been given at the end of every lesson.

No impossible methods are advocated herein. No one need forsake his or her avocation to pursue the path of Yoga. No sectarian doctrine hovers round its objectives. No allegiance is demanded to a particular cult. The science of Raja Yoga is universal, it is applicable to all. Here indeed is shown the way to live a full and happy life to one’s own personal advantage and usefulness to others.




Yoga is complete life. It is a method which overhauls all aspects of the human personality. Yoga is a system of integral education, education not only of the body and the mind or the intellect, but also of the inner spirit.

Yoga shows you the marvellous method of rising from evil to good, and from goodness to holiness and then to eternal divine splendour. Yoga is the art of right living. The Yogi who has learned the art of right living is happy, harmonious, peaceful and free from tension.

Yoga is a science perfected by ancient seers of India, not merely of India, but of humanity as a whole. It is an exact science, a perfect, practical system of self-culture.


Yoga does not require turning away from life. It demands transformation and spiritualisation of life. Yoga is primarily a way of life, not something which is divorced from life. Yoga is not forsaking an action, but is efficient performance in the right spirit. Yoga is not running away from home and human habitation, but a process of moulding one’s attitude to home and society with a new understanding.


Yoga is for all and is universal. It is not a sectarian affair, but a way to God and not a creed. The practice of Yoga is not opposed to any religion or any sacred church. It is purely spiritual and universal and does not contradict any one’s sincere faith.

Yoga is not a religion, but an aid to the practice of the basic spiritual truths in all religions. Yoga can be practised by a Christian or a Buddhist, a Parsee, a Mohammedan, a Sufi or an atheist. To be a Yogi means to abide continuously in God and to live at peace with men. Yoga is union with God, union with all. God dwells in all.


The idea of the novice that Yoga constitutes physical exercises or mere postures and Pranayama, etc., is an error. These have nothing to do with real Yoga. These are considered to be aids in Yoga practice.

Most people do not have access to Yoga beyond its physical level, because the true Yoga demands intense personal discipline, coupled with intense thinking under the guidance of an able teacher. Yoga promises super-physical and spiritual blessing. It becomes unattractive to a common man who clamours for immediate fruits and worldly prosperity.


Moral purity and spiritual aspiration are the first steps in the path of Yoga. One who has a calm mind, faith in the words of his preceptor and the scriptures, who is moderate in eating and sleeping, and who has intense longing for deliverance from the wheel of births and deaths is a qualified person for the practice of Yoga.

An aspirant in the path of Yoga should have faith, energy, cheerfulness, courage, patience, perseverance, sincerity, purity, lack of despondence of mind, dispassion, aspiration, concentration, serenity, self-restraint, truthfulness, non-violence and non-covetousness.

An austere and simple life is indispensable for Yoga. The foundation of Yoga is self-control. Discipline is the essence of Yoga, discipline of body as well as discipline of the mind.

In the practice of Yoga, there is a reversal of the normal outgoing activity of the mind. Steadiness of mind is essential for a reversal of the normal outgoing activity of the mind. Unless the mind is first made steady and brought under complete control, it will not be possible to change its course to the opposite direction.


The four main paths for God-realisation are Karma Yoga (the path of selfless service), Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion), Raja Yoga (mystical Yoga) and Jnana Yoga (the Yoga of knowledge). Karma Yoga is suitable for a man of active temperament, Bhakti Yoga for a man of devotional temperament, Raja Yoga for a man of mystical temperament and Jnana Yoga for a man of rational and philosophical temperament.

Karma Yoga is the way of selfless service and exercise of the will. Bhakti Yoga is the path of exclusive devotion to the Lord and exercise of the emotions. Raja Yoga is the way of self-restraint. Jnana Yoga is the path of wisdom and exercise of the intellect and reason. Will consecrates all activities through complete surrender to God. The intellect realises the glory and majesty of the Lord. The emotion experiences the bliss of divine ecstasy. The three eternal truths are: Jnana, Karma and Bhakti. God is love, goodness and truth. God is experienced by the devotee as love. God is experienced by the Karma Yogi as goodness. God is experienced by the Jnana Yogi as truth.

Some maintain that the practice of Karma Yoga alone is the means of salvation. Some others hold that devotion to the Lord is the only way to God-realisation.

Some believe that the path of wisdom is the sole way to attain the final beatitude. There are still others who hold that all the three paths are equally efficacious to bring about perfection and freedom.


One-sided development is not commendable. Religion must educate and develop the whole man—his heart, intellect and hand. Only then will he reach perfection.

Man is a strange, complex mixture of will, feeling and thought. He wills to possess the objects of his desires. He has emotion; and so he feels. He has reason and so he thinks and rationalises. In some emotional element may preponderate, while in some others the rational element may dominate. Just as will, feeling and thought are not distinct and separate, so also, work, devotion and knowledge are not exclusive of one another.

In the mind, there are three defects, namely, impurity, tossing and veil of ignorance. The impurity should be removed by the practice of Karma Yoga. The tossing should be removed by worship. The veil should be torn down by the practice of Jnana Yoga. Only then Self-realisation is possible. If you want to see your face clearly in a mirror, you must remove the dirt in the mirror, keep it steady and then remove the covering also. You can see your face reflected clearly on the lake only if the turbidity is removed, if the water that is agitated by the wind is rendered still, and if the moss that is lying on the surface is removed.

Action, emotion and intelligence are the three horses that are linked to this body-chariot. They should work in perfect harmony or unison. Only then will the chariot run smoothly. There must be integral development. You must have the head of Sankara, the heart of Buddha and the hand of Janaka.

The Yoga of synthesis alone will bring about integral development. The Yoga of synthesis alone will develop the head, heart and hand, and lead one to perfection. To become harmoniously balanced in all directions is the ideal of religion. This can be achieved by the practice of the Yoga of synthesis.

To behold the one Self in all beings is Jnana, wisdom; to love the Self is Bhakti, devotion; to serve the Self is Karma, action. When the Jnana Yogi attains wisdom, he is endowed with devotion and selfless activity. Karma Yoga is for him a spontaneous expression of his spiritual nature, as he sees the one Self in all. When the devotee attains perfection in devotion, he is possessed of wisdom and activity. For him also, Karma Yoga is a spontaneous expression of his divine nature, as he beholds the one Lord everywhere. The Karma Yogi attains wisdom and devotion when his actions are wholly selfless. The three paths are in fact, one in which the three different temperaments emphasise one or the other of its inseparable constituents. Yoga supplies the method by which the Self can be seen, loved and served.


Life today is full of stress and strain, of tension and nervous irritability, of passion and hurry. If man puts into practice a few of the elementary principles of Yoga, he would be far better equipped to cope with his complex existence.

Yoga brings perfection, peace and lasting happiness. You can have calmness of mind at all times by the practice of Yoga. You can have restful sleep and increased energy, vigour, vitality, longevity and a high standard of health. You can turn out efficient work within a short space of time and have success in every walk of life. Yoga will infuse new strength, confidence and self-reliance in You. The body and mind will be at your beck and call.

Yoga brings your emotions under control and increases your power of concentration at work. Yoga disciplines, gives poise and tranquillity and miraculously rebuilds one’s life. The Yoga way of life deepens man’s understanding and enables him to know God in relationship with Him.

Yoga leads the way from ignorance to wisdom, from weakness to strength, from disharmony to harmony, from hatred to love, from want to fullness, from limitation to infinitude, from diversity to unity, and from imperfection to perfection. Yoga gives hope to the sad and the forlorn, strength to the weak, health to the sick and wisdom to ignorant.

Through Yogic discipline, mind, body and the organ of speech work together harmoniously. For a Yoga practitioner, a new outlook, a new health, a new awareness and a new philosophy rush in and vividly transform his life. Lust for power, material greed, sensual excitement, passion for wealth, selfishness and lower appetites have drawn man from his true life in the spirit into the materialistic life. He can regain his lost divine glory if he practises, in right earnest, the principles of Yoga. Yoga transmutes animal nature and raises him to the pinnacle of divine glory and splendour.


It is within the power of everybody to attain success in Yoga. What is wanted is sincere devotion, constant and steady practice. Spiritual growth is gradual. There is progressive evolution. You should not be in a feverish to accomplish great Yogic feats or enter into the superconscious state in two or three months.

The senses have to be thoroughly subjugated. Divine virtues have to be cultivated and evil qualities eradicated. The mind has to be controlled thoroughly. The task is a stupendous one and it is uphill work. You will have to practise rigorous austerity and meditation and wait patiently for the results. You will have to ascend the ladder of Yoga step by step. You will have to march in the spiritual path stage by stage.


After attaining perfection in Yoga, one can enter the world if he is not affected even a bit of unfavourable, hostile currents of the world. Many persons enter the world before perfection in Yoga to demonstrate their minor powers in the name of working for the uplift of the world and for fame. They have been reduced to a level worse than that of a worldly man.

If a Yogi is not careful, if a Yogi is not well established in the preliminary practices of Yama, Niyama, he is unconsciously swept away from his ideal by temptation. He uses his powers for selfish ends and suffers a hopeless downfall. His intellect becomes blind, perverted and intoxicated. His understanding becomes clouded. He is no longer a divine Yogi. He becomes a black magician or Yogic charlatan. He is a black sheep within the fold of Yogis and is menace to the society at large.

Many people are attracted to the practice of breath control and other Yogic exercises, as it is through Yoga that psychic healing, telepathy, thought-transference and other great powers are obtained. If they attain success, they should not remain there alone. The goal of life is not ‘healing’ and ‘powers.’ They should utilise their energy in attaining the highest.

Yoga is not for attaining powers. If a student of Yoga is tempted to attain powers, his further progress is seriously retarded and he has lost the way. The Yogi who is bent upon attaining the highest superconscious state must reject psychic powers whenever they come. Only by rejecting these powers can one attain success in Yoga.

Do not stop spiritual practices when you get a few glimpses and experiences. Continue the practice until you attain perfection. Do not stop the practice and move about in the world. Examples are not lacking. Numerous persons have been ruined. A glimpse cannot give you safety.

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