Atma Yoga


Sri Swami Sivananda

This article is a chapter from the book “Yoga Samhita”.

Atma Vidya or Knowledge of the Self will dawn in you through Atma Yoga. The great sages lay great emphasis on self-surrender to the Lord, and emphatically assure you that the Lord in His Infinite Mercy saves you, uplifts you and leads you to Himself. He reveals Himself to you. This is Atma-Yoga.

Not by developing a keen intellect which can indulge in hair-splitting arguments and logic-chopping, not by getting by heart hundreds of texts, nor by all kinds of austerities, can the Atman be realised; through self-surrender alone can you realise Him. The Upanishads emphatically declare that the Atman reveals Himself to that person whom He chooses. Your work consists in making yourself fit to be chosen by Him and then, to wait.

In you there are two forces. One is the Pure Self, the divine element in you, Daivi Sampat or divine qualities like purity, truthfulness, cosmic love, selflessness, mercy and others, abide in this Higher Self. The other is the lower self, the impure mind in which you find elements of Asuri Sampat or evil tendencies–lust, greed, anger, jealousy and other vices. The Higher Self is your friend, guide and philosopher; it guides you with its shrill small voice of conscience. The lower mind is your enemy–it keeps you bound to the wheel of Samsara. With the help of the Higher Self, your friend, you should conquer the lower self. You should understand this truth clear. Mere suppression of evil tendencies will not do. You should eradicate them root and branch; you should transform the whole of your mind into divine. That is the goal. By dwelling constantly on positive, divine, thoughts, you shall have to divinise your entire mind. Again and again the mind will run towards the objects of sensual enjoyment; you will have to restrain it and bring it again and again to the lotus feet of the Lord. Again and again, the terrible enemies of the Pure Source–viz., lust, anger and greed–will raise their head in your mind, you will have to reflect on their true nature and feel: They are the gates to misery, suffering and bondage, and renounce them.

You should meditate regularly. You should practise Pratyahara. You should be able to withdraw at will your sense-organs from their objects and direct the mind towards the Lord seated in the heart. When the mind is perfectly steady, when it is unwaveringly fixed to the feet of the Lord, just as the flame of a lamp placed in a room where the air is still does not waver, then the Lord will reveal Himself to you.

Remember this: your duty is to purify your heart and to make it fit for the reception of Divine Light. For this, selfless service is necessary. Japa, Kirtan, Swadhyaya and practice of divine virtues are all necessary. Then you will have to wait patiently till He reveals Himself to you. You will have to pray to Him as Arjuna prayed, ‘Oh Lord! If you think that I may see Thy Glorious Form then kindly reveal Thyself to me.” Self-surrender alone can earn for you the Lord’s Grace very quickly.

The Lord is the giver of Light and the dispeller of the darkness of ignorance. He is the Light of lights. He alone can dispel the darkness of ignorance that envelopes the light of the Self that shines in your heart. So long as your individuality lasts, you cannot realise Him. So long as your own ego persists His Light will not descend. You will first have to burn up your ego if He is to reveal Himself. In the Gita, the Lord makes it very clear till man loses his identity in His Universal Nature, He cannot be realised. That is why he declares: “All beings are in Me; but I am not in them!” There is a great truth in this. You will have to ponder deeply over this utterance of the Lord. The Lord dwells in your heart, it is true, but He dwells there as the Self of all. He is not confined to anyone’s heart; He is not the Self of any one man. He is the Self. That is what He emphasises again and again…. “Ahamatma Gudakesa Sarvabhutashayasthitah.” Therefore till this ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ are annihilated, one cannot know Him in reality. You should aspire for His grace. That Grace will illumine your Heart. Then He will reveal Himself to you.

How does one act to whom the Lord has revealed Himself? He sees his own Self in all beings, and he sees all beings in his own Self. He engages himself in the service of all; he is ever intent on the welfare of all. He has nothing more to achieve. He has no individuality of his own. He has become a true instrument in the hands of the Lord. The Lord’s will works through him. He is not bound by actions.

Atma Yoga is the Self Revelation. Atma Vibhuties are the manifestations of the Lord. These Atma-Vibhuties of the Lord are the fruits of His Atma Yoga. You should read the tenth chapter of the Gita daily. You should understand it clearly. The Lord has chosen to name only the best among the things as Himself. He had no time to enumerate everything. In the end He says: “I am the gambling of the cheat”. Here is the Lord’s hint. You will have to understand by this that both good and evil are the manifestations of the Lord Himself. Evil is only a mode of your own thought. You will have to remove the Vritti of evil from your mind, then you will see good alone everywhere. Then you will see God and God alone everywhere. Then you will become immersed in the love of God. You will become an illustration of the Great Utterance of the Lord: “Manmanaa Bhava Madbhakto Madyaajee Maam Namaskuru Maamevaishyasi Yuktvaivamaatmaanam Matparayanah”. You will shine as a great Jivanmukta or Sthitaprajna.

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