Chapter 1 - General Outline of Siddhayoga
Throughout the world it is only in India that the Science of Yoga has been studied in detail with good depth and with practical demonstration. The four main branches of the Science of Yoga known to the people are Hatha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, and Raja Yoga. But the path of the Siddha Yoga (Maha Yoga or the Yoga of awakening the Serpent Power, Kundalini Shakti Jagaran), the supreme path of the Indian Origin, is recently coming into light among the people. This narration has been put forward to acquaint the common people the importance of the Siddha Yoga.
In these days of intolerable stress and strain prevalent in our homes, country and the world, to maintain the balance of mind is exceedingly difficult. Following the path of Siddha Yoga it would be easier for anyone to maintain the mental equilibrium.
Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta can be considered as an authentic text on the Siddha Yoga. Each and every chapter of this Divine Song (Gita) concludes with refrain,
[Tr.: Thus in the Upanishad of Shrimad Bhagawad Geeta, the science of Absolute Reality (Brahma-Vidya) and in the scriptures of yoga......]
Even on the battlefield Lord Krishna insists on Arjuna, to be a Yogi rather than becoming an ascetic (one who performs penance) or a jnani (pursuer of knowledge), or a karma yogi (a man performing rituals or selfless actions).
In the Bhagavad Geeta, Lord has advised people making Arjuna as the medium, to follow and practise this secret Raj-Vidya. This Raj-Vidya is the supermost spiritual knowledge. Lord desires that people should procure that knowledge which is advocated by the Vedas. Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj, the crown jewel amongst the Saints has expounded the Geeta through his commentary Jnaneshvari so explicitly that the (bottom most people) layman can follow it. He begins his Jnaneshwari with:
[Tr. : Bow to the Primal Power, Om (Pranava) which is described in the Vedas, (and) hail to the Supreme Soul to be realised by the self.]
In his youth when Lord Shri Rama was in a perplexed state of mind, His Holiness the sage Shri Vasishtha (the great spiritual master) showered on him with the grace of Siddha Yoga initiation, by the power of which all the doubts of Shri Rama were dispelled at once. Likewise Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa by merely a touch graced Shri Vivekananda with the spiritual power which led him to achieve his life's ultimate goal of Self-Realisation. To achieve one's life's goal (Self-Realisation) it is important to have recourse to the Siddha Yoga for his spiritual progress. The follower of this path can maintain the equilibrium of his mind and body in these circumstances of stress and strain.He can easily attain the stage of a person with a steady mind as envisaged by Lord Krishna in his Divine Song, Bhagavad Geeta.
What is the Siddha Yoga?
In this system of the Siddha Yoga the initiated has to take no efforts to achieve his final goal. Hence it is called the Siddha Yoga. The follower of this path starts experiencing involuntarily various movements of the mind and body due to the will power of the spiritual master. The tendencies of the mind towards the external worldly pleasures of the aspirant are slowly reverted to inner bliss of the Soul.The extrovert aspirant gradually becomes introvert by the grace of his spiritual master. Through Sushumna from the base of the spinal (cord) column (Mooladhara),the current of the Life Force (Prana), which moves upward towards Sahasrara, is felt by the initiated and he also starts getting various astonishing spiritual experiences which are innumerable. Some of the experiences of this kind are incorporated in the chapter-III under paragraph eight for information. It is worth remembering that all these experiences are not acquired by each and every aspirant but only those expericences are experienced which are essential for the perfection of that aspirant.
The Siddha Yoga means Shaktipata Yoga: Transmission of power:
Following the (Maha Vakya) Great Statements of the Vedas when a human being experiences communion with God (Brahma), it is called 'Knowledge'. By the grace of God and by the favourable glance of the spiritual master a deserving disciple achieves this 'Knowledge' through the transmission of spiritual power.
Shaktipat:(Tramission of spiritual Power/Descent of spiritual energy upon an aspirant):
Although the Serpent Power (Kundalini Shakti) is all pervading and eternal it remains ensnared in the sinful deeds of the past many births. By the grace of the spiritual master the sins committed by the intiated are uprooted and the dormant Serpent Power (Kundalini Shakti) becomes active. The layers over the Primal Power (Moola Shakti i.e. Kundalini) are removed and she merges into her original form of the Divine Entity by the transmission of spiritual power. Owing to the awakening of the Serpent Power, the vital Life Force (Prana) rises upward and consequently mind and Life Force (Prana) both merge into one completely. Hence this path is known as the Siddha Yoga or Maha Yoga.
This path is of the type of [Restraint over tendencies of mind] mentioned in Yoga Darshan by the great sage Patanjali. This state of mind can be achieved spontaneously and instantly by the grace of a spiritual master. The important difference between the Siddha Yoga and other Yogic paths is that the followers of other yogic systems have to make strenuous efforts to accomplish the final goal,while the follower of the Siddha Yoga experiences automatic physical movements of all the four Yogas namely, Hatha, Mantra, Laya and Raja according to the requirements of his body, mind and accumulated impressions of past deeds. If an aspirant needs Bandha, Mudra and Pranayama (breath control) to purify his mind, Prana and senses, these Yogic feats (movements) would happen automatically. If the aspirant needs mantra, he would receive it in a dream or through the divine utterances etc. Like-wise it is also observed that the spiritual progress of a devotee, absorbed in God's worship is accelerated and he attains higher stages like Manonmani and A-manaska (higher thoughtless state of mind) due to grace of the serpent power (Kundalini Shakti). It can be stated firmly that for the complete purification of an aspirant's mind and body, the serpent power (Kundalini) herself employs one or all the four ways of Yoga.
Information about the Serpent Power (Kundalini):
The Serpent Power (Kundalini) having coiled up in three and half turns resides in the base of spinal column (in the Mooladhara). Her original nature is similar to the light of crores of lamps put together. Its awakening is quite essential. After the initiation the initiated feels the presence of the Serpent Power (Kundalini) in the form of vital Life Force (Prana) through the automatic process of breath-control (Pranayam). As she remains dormant (asleep) on the bulb at the base of spinal column (Mooladhara), the aspirant remains in ignorance. Though the aspirant is the form of God Shiva, the supreme power in him remains covered. The supreme power generates Life Force (Prana/Vital air) breath, Fire (Agni), vitality (Bindu) and sound (Nada). To gain the knowldge of this power (Serpant Power) one has to surrender himself completely to the spiritual master for his favourable grace. Some people call this power (Shakti) as the Primal - Fundamental Power, some as sushumna, some as Kundalini (serpent power), and some as Sarasvati, Deity of learning. She is also known as Mahamaya, Mahalaxmi, Mahadevi, Sarasvati and invisible Fundamental Power (energy). Because of Her presence, one's body, mind and breath (Prana) become active. All the activities of the world spring from this Supreme Power. Aspirants who are not initiated do not get real benefits of their efforts of practising meditation, of knowledge of scripture etc., of Yogic practices, of recitation of God's name, of penance, of worship of God or of any kind of religious service. Therefore it is absolutely essential for an aspirant to get initiated. Our physical birth is due to our mother whereas our spiritual birth is due to the initiation of our spiritual master. Once the Serpent Power is awakened, Yogic Practices, recitation of holy name (Mantra), worship of God, reading of holy verses, in whatsoever way they are performed, yield good results. The life of the initiated person turns into the one full of spiritual joy.
Guru Tattva [The Power of the Spiritual Master]:
An aspirant has to surrender himself to the spiritual master and pray him personally or through a prayer-letter for bestowing on him his grace to awaken his Kundalini. Just as a lamp is kindled by another lamp, a spiritual master awakens the serpent power of the aspirant, who surrenders himself totally to the master with full faith and devotion. Consequnetly all his sins are gradually wiped off and the initiated begins to feel the presence of Divine Power. This is how the Guru-Tattva operates. According to the spiritual science, the principle, which makes the initiated feel the direct experience of the transmission of power (Shaktipat) is the Guru-Principle. Preceptors of Vedas call this spiritual power, Chiti-Shakti, Yogis call her the Serpent Power (Kundalini), where as mantra yogis call her Mantra-Chaitanya.
Respect for the Family of a Spiritual Master:
As a spiritual Master is divinity incarnate (God himself), the progress of an aspirant commensurates with the degree of intensity of respect which he has for his spiritual master. The initiated should try to have no untoward feelings for his spiritual master or for the initiated fellow-brothers. Otherwise it will mar his progress. If there is good friendly and brotherly relationship among the disciples of the spiritual master the progress of spiritual power (Guru Tattva) is fast. It is beneficial too. The superb feeling of well-being among all the initiated fellow brothers, described in the following verse of the Rigveda will enhance the spiritual progress of all and will bring worldly, Divine and spiritual peace to all.
[Tr.: Pray God, let all be happy, healthy and prosperous. Let there not be anyone grief-stricken.]
Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj Praises the Siddha Yoga:
The path of the Siddha Yoga can be compared to the path of birds' sky-way (Vihangam Marg), in which an aspirant bird enjoys easily the fruit (of spiritual progress) owing to the godly gifted power. The Saint Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj was initiated into the path of Siddha Yoga by his spiritual master, Shri Nivrittinath Maharaj. He has related the yogic experiences of this Yoga in several places in Jnaneshwari for the benefits of all the fellow pilgrims of the spiritual path. Especially in the sixth chapter of Jnaneshwari, as the blessings of his spiritual master, he has narrated in detail some of his own Yogic experiences which he himself experienced without any effort. While reading the description of this path in the Jnaneshwari it is possible that comman man may feel that such a difficult path is not easy to follow. But by the grace of a spiritual master an aspirant starts getting these experiences automatically without any strenuous efforts. So they need not have such fears. The initiated persons have to simply watch whatever the experiences arise in their meditation (spiritual practice). Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj has disapproved of other Yogas and other Yogic exercises which require special efforts. In the fifth Abhang of his book 'Haripath' he says,
[Tran. Various yogic practices and sacred sacrifical offerings would not yield results leading to man's final goal, for they are sheer waste of energy and would create hurdle like egoism in the spiritual path.]
It seems that he has indirectly criticised other strenuous paths of Yoga. The Siddha Yoga, transmitted by his spiritual master Shri Nivruttinath Maharaj and practised and experienced by him should be made known to common people as it is easy to follow, hence he recommends it in his work, Jnaneshwari:
[Tran. Is there anything so easy as this yoga ?]
The Siddha Yoga the Bestowal of Eternal Bliss:
Worldy pleasures solely depend upon outside objects of men. For example, you get amiable wife, a renowned son and an official promotion etc., all these pleasures you receive from external objects. These pleasures are simply transitory. The spiritual joy is attainable even without ear-pleasing words, eyecatching sights or enchanting fragrance. This is the bliss of the Soul. This unparallel path of Sidda Yoga is the bestowal of eternal bliss.