Buy this book (Australia)
Table of Contents
Preface to the sixth edition
Blessing from the Vatican
Blessing from an Anglican Archbishop
Foreword by Rabbi Gelberman
Foreword by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Books recommended for further study
During the first part of my stay in South Africa in 1961, I noticed an intense desire on the part of many Indians and non-Indians to rediscover for adoption in their own lives a saner value of life. The impact of materialistic civilisation made it difficult for them to assimilate orthodox teaching as offered in the scriptures; and they were not quite satisfied with a complete break-away from tradition into the free-thinker’s bye-lanes where all but the chosen few lose their path altogether. For their benefit I prepared a pamphlet–“The Handbook of Yoga”–explaining the orthodox principles in simpler style, without, however, deviating from tradition. The response was very encouraging.
When I was in Mauritius in 1963, Mr K.L. Dassagne of the “Mauritius Times” asked me to contribute a series of articles on Yoga. I based these articles on the former pamphlet, considerably expanding the thoughts, to make them clearer. The results were still more encouraging. I offer my grateful thanks to Mr Dassagne and the editor of the “Mauritius Times”, the hon. Mr B. Ramallah for allowing me the hospitality of their paper.
Since my return to Mauritius in April 1964, I have been repeatedly asked to publish all the articles in book form. I have put them all together and added a few more to make the book comprehensive, and offer it at the feet of the lord who dwells in the hearts of all earnest seekers after him.
To meet continuing demand for this text, both here in Australasia and overseas we are reprinting this complete edition of ‘Yoga’.
We are grateful to Swami Lakshmi Ananda for preparing the manuscript, to Joan Levy for the excellent Yoga Asana photographs taken by her during my visit to Buffalo in 1977, to Swami Sobha for typing the whole book for the press, to Jan Rolfe for the artwork, to Leonie for her assistance, to David for layout, photographics, printing and folding and to Janet for the collating.
We are indebted to Mr Eric Powell, Editor of the ‘Fremantle Gazette’ for his continued generosity towards the Chiltern Yoga Trust.
A Few Words of True Friendship
I had the pleasure of meeting twice in Rome, at a few years’ interval, the master of raja yoga Swami Venkatesananda. We conversed together on that which is our common quest: to seek oneself and to help man find the divine. I could only admire how much we were in accord on many points, particularly on those concerning the path, despite deep differences.
When the Swami asked me for a word of introduction for the reprinting of the books written by him on integral yoga, I willingly accepted this invitation; and this is the purpose of the few words that follow.
We christians learn in the Bible that god made us for him and made us in his image, that this image is engraved like a seal on our hearts, and that though this image has been veiled by sin, there is just enough revelation of it to orientate ourselves towards god as the fulfilment of our existence and the absolute goal of our search for happiness. As St. Paul said, god has created us “to look for the deity, to reach it, if possible, as a blind groping person would” (Acts 17:27): and St. Augustine expresses his own experience as follows: “You have created us for you, lord, and our heart remains restless until it rests in you.” And the Swami, speaking of the origin of raja yoga, tells us that it gushes simply from the hunger for god which each man feels: “When he hungers for god, he develops his own technique, and that is yoga”. (Raja Yoga For The Youth, p.2)
In fact, this pain of separation from god, this hunger for him, is felt by all people and each one has looked, in his own manner, for a remedy to this hunger. But India is, perhaps, the country where during the course of the past thirty centuries incalculable generations of sages did not want to give their lives any goal other than this: viz., to search for the path and its integral transmission, to obtain the peace of the heart by mastering the senses, to purify and simplify the spirit by the rejection of vain desires, and to concentrate the spirit in austerity. They also teach us, in their way, that “the kingdom of god is within” (Luke 17:21), that you can get it by sacrificing all the rest (Matthew 13:46) and that “our eye should be come pure so that our whole body is enlightened by it” (Matthew 6:22). If the points of departure and arrival of our research seem different according to our intellectual categories, in the view of god who sees the entire universe, there is unity. We know that the natural law, the Mosaic Law and the evangelic law, in perfectioning one another do not cancel one another and remain fundamentally one–looking within ourselves in order to reach him, if possible, in himself.
We should not be surprised by the analogies (which also illustrate the path)to which the swami resorts by citing the scriptures that he knows so well. It is possible (and helpful) for everyone to utilise the treasure of psychological and spiritual experience for his own progress and to enable him to understand god better. Speaking of another Indian method of quest which is dhyana or the zen of the Japanese, a master of this discipline said to a catholic missionary who wanted to expound christian zen as a method of spirituality more adapted to the far east: “Zen is a method; it is like a railroad track on which you can launch all the trains that you want.” One could say as much or even more, of raja yoga, the discipline of sages who have renounced everything to devote themselves solely to the divine. These sages have noble and useful lessons to give not only to the christians of their own race, but also to all our modern societies which see no more than the form and the technique and seem to have forgotten the true reason for the existence of man, which is the key to his happiness.
We would be mistaken, however, if we think that we shall find an easy way in raja yoga: as in the christian spirituality, one obtains facility through a long and arduous struggle, by renouncing everything which is not the absolute. But, then, as in our case, the initial struggle is compensated by the inspiration of continuously growing divine love.
To know all these ways and to use them when necessary is also a better way of understanding the deep fraternity of man. It will promote mutual understanding, respect, and mutual help among the people. For, this, too, let us be thankful to Swami Venkatesananda for placing so excellently the noble treasures of hindu spirituality within our reach, through his books published in our languages.
Secretariat for non-christians
From the VATICAN. June 11,1970.
SECRETARIAT OF STATE
From the Vatican. 26 August 1972
Dear Swami Venkatesananda,
I have been directed by the Holy Father to acknowledge the gift of a copy of your book, “Yoga”, which you presented to him during your recent audience.
His Holiness is grateful for the gift and for the sentiments of devotion which prompted this gesture.
As a sign of his appreciation, the Holy Father invokes upon you blessings from God.
With good wishes, I remain
From The Archbishop in Jerusalem
St George’s Close
P.O. Box 1248–Jerusalem
I am grateful to my friend Swami Venkatesananda for visiting me in Western Australia and in Jerusalem, and for a copy of his book YOGA, from which I have learned much to help me in my discipline of meditation. A re-reading of this book has reminded me of the control of breath and posture which can help to quieten body and mind for deeper peace of spirit.
Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem
It was a rare spiritual encounter meeting Swami Venkatesananda and it will always remain vivid in my memory and consciousness with a special significance. When I listened to, and exchanged dialogue with him at many meetings and retreats where we appeared together his beautiful simplicity coupled with abounding wisdom, immediately makes itself manifest. This double essence of scholarship and humanity make Swami Venkatesananda an outstanding teacher. Martin Buber would have called him “a MENSH”, meaning freely, a man of quality in all areas.
In translating this insight and simplicity into his book on Yoga, we get the same inspiration and wisdom from his words as he points out ways to live out and act out the principles of Yoga in the mainstream of living.
His book, interestingly enough, points out similarities to the old movement of Hassidism, and the more current aspect of NEO-HASSlDISM within the Jewish religion which emphasizes worship through JOY, the SINCHA concept, worship through SERVICE, the AVODAH concept, and worship through PURPOSE, or the KAVANAH concept. These relate to the faith, acts, and discipline that Swamiji describes so eloquently in his book. When he describes the quest for happiness, meditation and service, it relates to the psychological, existential formula for living and growing on a three-rung “Psycho-Social-Spiritual” basis. This refers to the I-ME level of personal insight to self-defeating defenses and mechanisms on the unconscious level, with the commitment of finding out “WHO AMI” and “WHAT AM I FEELING.” It further refers to the I-YOU level of social obligation or my commitment to my fellowman and society or “HOWDO I LOVE” and “HOW DO I GIVE”. Finally, it refers to the I-THOU level of spiritual involvement or my dedication to God and my cosmic role in perfecting creation as a partner to God.
Swami Venkatesananda has related powerfully to these basic issues in his book by summing up his teachings on Yoga as promoting “discipline, faith, and social solidarity”.
The readers will find this book a personal, and spiritual guide and lesson for life enhancement.
In spiritual fellowship, personal inspiration, and deep respect, I relate to this book on Yoga and to Swami Venkatesananda with gratitude.
Rabbi Joseph H. Gelberman
The Little Synagogue
27 East 20th Street
New York, New York 10003
July 15, 1974
Yoga has become a household word in the West. For the ‘pitr’–the ancestor in Indian folk thinking, it was likened to the yoke that connects the energy of the ox to its charge, and so universally yoga is the connecting link harnessing untapped cosmic energy into transforming productivity in man. Much of the secret of tapping the inexhaustible sources of energy in the far reaches of the human compass remains mysteriously concealed by the adepts, partly as a precaution to shield the people of good faith from the apprentice-sorcerer volunteers unaware of the many uncanny implications of unleashing a thunderbolt in a fragile conductor. But every now and again, the area of this science unveiled to the public extends a little further, and Swami Venkatesananda is an explorer while being a traditionalist and knows how to wrap mysterious know-hows into the trappings of mirth to sidetrack the curiosity of dilettantes and edify the adepts. The book is a thrilling discovery if one reads both the words and what lies between them.
Pir Vilayat Khan
Head of Sufi Order
Yoga… now a household word, is yet still clothed in mystery and misunderstanding. Many students are confused by sanskrit terms and the many different ‘paths’ of yoga expounded by various schools.
In this concise yet exhaustive volume, now a widely read text for students of yoga and spirituality, the author has clarified the doubts and questions of students from all parts of the world. In his wide travels he has instructed aspirants of every racial and religious group and understood their basic and urgent needs.
Endorsed with forewords from the Vatican and heads of Anglican, Jewish and Sufi faiths, ‘Yoga’ is highly recommended reading for all seekers of truth, saner living and self knowledge.
About the author:
Swami Venkatesananda, for twenty years a recluse and ascetic disciple of the world renown sage Swami Sivananda spent the next twenty years continuing his service of Guru and humanity, by teaching through word and example the ideal of enlightened life: the practice of yoga in a modern context. The most outstanding feature of his life and writings is his simplicity reflected in his ‘commonsense’ view of our seemingly complex problems.
Swami Venkatesananda’s practical instruction in yoga postures, meditation and the application of yoga philosophy indicate his deep personal knowledge and insight both into the teachings themselves and the dynamics of life.