Written by Sri Swami Chandrashekarendra
People usually think that yoga means no more than controlling the breath
and sitting stone-like. The literal meaning of the word is "joining",
"uniting". All through our life's journey we have to join ourselves to
various objects. But such joining is no permanent. That is why the mind
remains unsteady. If we are joined to an object without the least
possibility of being seperated from it, it is yoga in the true sense.
of the minds of all of us is the one Paramatman. Yogins control their
breath to turn their mind to this prime root object. The root that gives
rise to thoughts is the same as the root that gives rise to the breath.
the breath is fixed on the root, the mind too will be absorbed in it.
The opposite of yoga is "viyoga". When the man dies we say that he has
attained viyoga. The Lord says in the Gita that a particular kind of
is itself yoga. What is it? If you keep away sorrow, that is if sorrow
not attach itself to you, you have the yoga of disconnection (Tam viyad
What we normally understand to be pleasure in a worldly sense is truly
sorrow. All experiences that creates separation from the Paramatman are
sorrow. It is because the citta or consciousness is unstill that we
sorrow and happiness. These disappear when the mind is still. To make
the mind pure it to train it in one-pointedness. This is the mean of
perfection. To start with, all will be able to control their breath like
yogins. If we are absorbed in a worthy subject, in some good work, our
mind will remain untainted to some extent. If we try to control our mind
in one go, so to speak, it will free itself and wander in all
directions. If we
keep doing some noble work or take an interest in some noble subject
the mind is less likely to become unstill.
In the old days they used to wear what is called an arikandam, that is
iron ring, round the neck to keep themselves disciplined and live
according to the sastras. In the same way we must wear an arikandam to
keep the mind from going astray. To be involved in good actions is
kind of arikandam.
Performing sacrifices, observing fasts and vows, building great temple
towers, digging ponds, etc, were a means in the past to cleanse the mind
by making it one-pointed. In the midst of such good work also one
experiences difficulties, even humiliation, but one should not be
by criticism or obstacles. This itself becomes the means of mental
purification. Then come pranayama, meditation, etc.
The kazhakkodi keeps rolling without gathering any dirt. If you smear
some ashes on it they will not stick to it. Like the kazhakkodi we too
not be affected by pain or pleasure and keep journeying towards the
Paramatman and becoming one with It. Such union is called yoga - it is
our original as well as ultimate state. In between we somehow become
different. That is why we do not understand that ultimate and original
state now. To reach that state we must make a beginning with the
performance of rites.