Yoga Questions & Answers
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Yoga Questions & Answers
by Swami Sivananda
Table of Contents
MAHA MRITYUNJAYA MANTRA
TO THE FIRST EDITION
This is an age in which all disciples cannot sit at the feet of a Guru in obedience to the Gita-teaching: Tad-viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya.
Specially so in the case of a World-Guru like Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj who has disciples all over the world. They have all their own ways of prostrating to him, doing total self-surrender unto him, questioning him on matters pertaining to Yoga-practice and Vedantic philosophy, and serving him. They have his picture in their meditation-chamber; and as it is aglow with spiritual light, they prostrate to it. Sri Swamiji is easily accessible to them by post and the aspirants get his guidance and he clears their doubts and leads them on the path. And, they take upon themselves the sacred task of serving Sri Swamiji’s mission in every way they can—by dissemination of spiritual knowledge, by broadcasting his message, by helping the parent institution (the Divine Life Society), etc. Thus they fulfil the three-fold injunction of the Gita.
The questions asked by the average aspirant and Sri Swamiji’s answers to them have been arranged nicely and published in this volume for the benefit of all spiritual aspirants.
22nd December 1957
THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
The term Sadhana signifies any process of spiritual practice that leads the aspiring individual to an active realisation of the Divine Being. Sadhana constitutes the sole means for the attainment of the highest value of life, viz., Self-realisation. The spiritual path is doubtless beset with various difficulties. The walk on this path is like walking on the edge of a sharp razor. The aspirant will fall down several times but he will have to rise up quickly and walk again with more zeal, boldness and cheerfulness. Every stumbling block will become a stepping stone to success or ascent on the hill of Spiritual Knowledge. Every fall will give additional strength to rise up to a greater height in the ladder of Yoga. Though, in the beginning, the spiritual path does appear to be very hard, thorny, precipitous and slippery, it becomes quite easy the moment the resolve and determination of the aspirant gather strength, firmness and force. He obtains a new interest and a new joy; his heart expands; his outlook is broadened; his vision is widened; and he feels the help and aiding power from the invisible Hands of the Divine Indweller of his spiritual heart. By themselves all doubts are cleared, answers are given from within; the shrill sweet voice of the Divine is heard; the thrill or Divine ecstasy is experienced.
Even if the aspirant walks with tottering steps, on the spiritual path, he must have vividly before his vision the highest spiritual Ideal. If this ideal is firmly held, Realisation will come by itself. Whosoever would attain the knowledge of the Self, like Yajnavalkya of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, like Uddalaka of Chhandogya Upanishad will also attain Moksha or Immortality. Some aspirants experience glimpses of the transcendental wonders of Atman; some are on the border-land of the vast domains of Self, the some like Dattatreya, Jada Bharata, Vama Deva and Sadasiva Brahman, have plunged themselves deep in the ocean of Divine Delight. The more the thinning of the Vasanas, egoism and Deha Adhyasa, the greater the bliss of the Self. The more the Sadhana, the more the experience of joy of the Self.
Even for a minute, to remain without doing Sadhana is the greatest loss. Just as the physical body needs food for its growth, so also the astral or subtle body requires spiritual food for its growth or evolution. If one is not regular in Japa and meditation, the subtle body will become weak and one’s power of resisting the evil thoughts, Vasanas and Samskaras, will be less. This fact should convince the aspirant of the great need for keeping up regularity in Sadhana.
Any effort in the spiritual path, any kind of spiritual practice, never goes in vain; but the fruit of Sadhana cannot come immediately to the aspirant. As the spiritual evolution is a gradual process, he has to wait patiently for long. In the Gita, the Lord says: Tat svayam yogasamsiddha kalenatmani vindati—He who is perfected in Yoga finds it in the Self in due season. Therefore the aspirant should not be impatient for results, and should do everything that lies within his power to keep up the continuous flow of Sadhana.
If there is slackness and irregularity in the practices, a fit of passion or worldliness may blow away the little good result which the Yogic student has achieved and it will be very difficult for him to rise again to the heights of achievement he had once covered. That is why one has to continue in doing arduous practice of Yoga till one is established in the highest Samadhi. That Yogi who has controlled his mind through the arduous practice of Yoga carried over several years, alone will be able to cognise the immutable Reality that is behind this empirical existence or the world of names and forms. Those who desire to achieve Siddhi in Yoga Sadhana, should bear in mind that significant aphoristic statement of Patanjali Maharshi: “Practice becomes fixed, steady, when practised for a long time, practised without any break, and practised with perfect devotion.” Yoga Sutras, 1-14.
MAHA MRITYUNJAYA MANTRA
Om Tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim pushti vardhanam,
Urvaarukamiva bandhanaat mrityormuksheeya maamritat
We worship the three-eyed One (Lord Siva) who is fragrant and who nourishes well all beings; may He liberate us from death for the sake of Immortality even as the cucumber is severed from its bondage (to the creeper).
1. This Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is a life-giving Mantra. In these days, when life is very complex and accidents are an everyday affair, this Mantra wards off deaths by snake-bite, lightning, motor-accidents, fire-accidents, cycle-accidents, water-accidents, air-accidents and accidents of all descriptions. Besides, it has a great curative effect. Again, diseases pronounced incurable by doctors are cured by this Mantra, when chanted with sincerity, faith and devotion. It is a weapon against diseases. It is a Mantra to conquer death.
2. It is also a Moksha Mantra. It bestows long life (Deergha Ayush), peace (Shanti), wealth (Aishwarya), prosperity (Pushti), satisfaction (Tushti) and Immortality (Moksha).
3. On your birthday, repeat one lakh times this Mantra or at least 50,000; perform Havan and feed Sadhus, the poor and the sick. This will bestow on you long life, peace and prosperity.
4. When the mind becomes ripe with the true knowledge of Paramatma, the soul gets liberated from the bonds of birth and death. This is called moksha. The Tryambaka mantra epitomises the special kind of moksha which accrues by the grace of Tryambaka, the three-eyed Siva. The mantra conveys the meaning that one is released from mortality by the grace of Siva in the same way as the cucumber fruit gets separated from its stalk. Every fruit, when fully ripe, is sweet, though it may have been bitter or sour when unripe. Similarly, when the soul becomes ripe through devotion, it is filled with the sweetness and joy that come from jnana. All fruits fall down from the branches on top, at the roots below, signifying that the root is their source, sustenance and ultimate sanctuary. The ripe soul, however, is the fruit of the tree of samsara, whose roots are on top, “Oordhva moolam,” and whose branches grow down below. So the passage of the liberated soul is upward, Oordhvagati. Strictly speaking, there is no gati or going, for the soul. It is released at the very place where it existed. That is why the example of cucumber fruit is given. This fruit does not fall down but gets detached from the stalk, or rather, the stalk gets itself detached even without the fruit knowing it. Similarly the liberated one does not give up the world; the world gives him up. Remembering that this life has been vouchsafed to us to get rid of future births and deaths, let us pray to the God of our heart, to obtain His grace to qualify for this kind of liberation of the soul, “cucumber mukti.”