As we saw in previous articles, Sage Patanajali englightens us with different ways of attaining samadhi.
In his next aphorism, he takes his students-Yoga aspirants one level up by introducing the concept of Submitting to Ishwara.
Ishvara pranidhana va
Translated loosely into English;
‘Or from intense devotion and total surrender to Ishvara.’
Samadhi can be obtained by devotion to the Divine, by any name whether it is Allah, AUM, Christ, God, Jehovah, Jesus, Lord or alike. The name Ishvara has no religious affiliation, is not male nor female and has no image other than luminous light attributed to it. Ishvara is all-encompassing, all-pervasive and of all forms.
One can also attain samadhi by surrendering oneself to the will of Ishvara and merging all desires with the Divine Will. When the devotee surrenders completely to God, through the grace of God, the devotee can attain samadhi quickly. Surrender to God involves a feeling, as described in Bhakti Yoga and Nishkaam Karma Yoga of Bhagvad Gita By Lord Krishna to Arjuna. It is an emotion like “I am doing actions as an agent of God and hence I offer the fruits of my action, whether happiness or misery, back to God”. This frame of mind banishes all egotistic feelings and brings about a more deep-rooted faith in God.
This thinking (about God) comes to us when we are in trouble. Otherwise its always about “Us” where “We” exist. We understand everything, we can solve things, but a time comes when we don’t understand, and that’s when we turn or submit to God.
What we have to understand here is that, Yoga sutra is not a theistic science. It doesn’t insist on believing in ‘Higher Reality right’ at the start. It just propagates the aspirant to stop the distractions of mind i.e., Chitta, Vriti and Nirodha.
When we can come to a point where we can totally submit everything and leave everything, only then the mind is settled and can experience self-realization. It in instance of we being able to see our reflection clear in the lake only when the water is clm with no ripples.
To me, this seems like a clear and practical arrangement – person who learns yoga need not be a believer or a theist, but when a time arrives where he cannot understand & explain, then he can quietly submit to God. It helps, the man is stable, steady, one-pointed- completely focused on one object/energy i.e.., God.
This one-pointedness is very necessary in yoga. If it is running here and there, uncertain, doubtful then one can’t concentrate completely in their journey inwards.
The best part about this way of self-realization as taught by Sage Patanjali is that “If you want to believe in God, believe in God and if you don’t want to believe then don’t. Without Ishvara also one can do Abhyasa. Though yoga is derived from thee Samkhya philosophy, they mention this path which is not mentioned in Samkhya.
Age old time-tested research has shown that those who have faith in God are less stressed, have less diseases, less problems in relationships. Their healing is much faster, their immunity is much stronger, it is totally up to us whether we want to believe or not.”
Let us try to understand the meaning of Ishvara in a more elaborate way. In the Upanishads, the word Ishvara is used to denote a state of collective consciousness. Thus, God is not a being that sits on a high pedestal beyond the sun, moon, and stars; but in fact, is a state of Ultimate Reality.
But because everyone cannot manage to get a direct experience, God has been personified and given various names and forms by religions throughout the ages. This arrangement is more so because it helps one to perceive the higher power more easily and submit to. When one alights to one’s individual consciousness to the Universal Consciousness, it is called Self-realization.
Here, the individual self has realized the unity of diversity, the very underlying principle he realizes the reality of Universal Self, beyond all forms and names.
In his next aphorism, Sage Patanjali enlightens us with the qualities of Ishwara- The Vishesh Purusha. Keep reading the wednesday blog.
For any queries regarding the aphorisms and Philosophy of Yoga, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org