Yoga is very popular today. You will find answers in this course beyond the physical exercises or the relaxation which yoga is normally associated with.
The course is structured in 7 sections which make the journey as short as 2 days and as long as you want. We advise you to take it slowly and meditate at each step. There are plenty resources that may give you room for expanding your horizons and fulfill your expectations. In Yoga there is no competition, no pain and no stress.
In the First Section you will find an historical introduction to Yoga and its modern interpretation given by Ananda Marga school of Yoga and Way of Life.
In the Second Section we enter into the main characteristics of spirituality associated with Tantra Yoga.
In the Third Section we pass through the system of cardinal principles which constitute the moral foundation of Yoga.
In the Fourth Section we examine the 8 steps of Astaunga Yoga.
In the Fifth Section we open to the social outlook through the philosophy of neo-humanism and neohumanist education.
In the Sixth Section we expand the social Philosophy of PROUT - Progressive Utilization Theory
And in the Seventh and last section we consider the social service that is done by Ananda Marga globally through its different departments and related welfare projects.
The course is structured for giving you a very broad perspective. You are free to get deeper in any of the Sections according to your personal interest. Eventually we hope you will get in direct contact with Ananda Marga in its multifarious endeavor to bring welfare and upliftment to all.
May you enjoy the universal peace and advance on the spiritual path towards the supreme desideratum.
Namaskára is done by bringing the palms together and touching the ájiṋá cakra [the mid-point of the eyebrows] with the thumbs, without bowing. It can be done to all regardless of their age, because this mode of salutation is used with the ideation that everyone is the manifestation of the Supreme Being.
There are two basic principles behind Ananda Marga: self realisation and service.
'Self-realisation' is what is commonly known as enlightenment. It is where the individual comes to truly understand the very nature, the very essence, of themselves. That essence - according to those 'enlightened' individuals who have achieved this realisation - is the same in nature and substance as all things. It is infinite and unconditional in its scope, and thus the closest adjective we have to express this consciousness is 'loving'. Hence the universal mantra of Ananda Marga 'Ba'ba Nam Kevalam' - meaning Everything is an Expression of One, Infinite, Loving Consciousness. Even the keyboard and screen infront of you. Even your hand on the mouse. Even the sensation of breath as it enters and leaves your lungs...
That everything is part of one infinite, innately loving consciousness is all well and good, but what about the suffering in the world? What about the people who will not eat a meal today, of those children who suffer uneccesarily from curable diseases? In order for them to experience lifes' profound joy their physical needs will first need to be met. For this reason, Ananda Marga also runs projects world wide to try and provide people with the basic necessities they need for life and, where those needs are met, encourage people towards self realisation. This is not restricted by race, gender or creed, and being taught meditation by an Ananda Marga Monk or Nun (Acarya) is always free.
For this reason the moto of Ananda Marga is Self Realisation and Service to All.
Ideas can be conveyed in different forms. Since time immemorial one of the best way that has been used to teach has been through stories. Sometimes true stories or immaginary stories has been told from father to son for generations maintaining the tradition of whole populations. The impact of stories is sometimes superior compared to true facts. A circle of spiritual stories is sometime formed by spiritual seekers and devotees taking the name of Katha Kiirtan. It is a devotional program which is done in the evening or in the night sometimes around a fire.
Tantra was originated thousands of years ago and it was practiced mainly in the forest or in secretive places. Tantra is at the root of the most of the spiritual streams we know today including Tao and Yoga. Shaeva Tantra refers to the teachings of Lord Shiva around 7.000 years ago. Tantra as scriptures are purposely obscure and cannot be understood without the knowledge and assistance of a Tantric Master. Books of Tantra can be misleading or dangerous without the supervision of a competent teacher. Ananda Marga refers to Tantra in its spiritual practices which are taught by competent teachers or Acaryas regularly supervised by Ananda Marga as a global organization.
(from Wikipedia) Ánanda Márga (Sanskrit: আনন্দ মার্গ ānanda mārga "The Path of Bliss", also spelled Anand Margand Ananda Marg) or officially Ánanda Márga Pracáraka Saḿgha (organisation for the propagation of the path of bliss) is a socio-spiritual organisation and movement founded inJamalpur, Bihar, India in 1955 by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar. It is also the name of the philosophy andlife-style propounded by Sarkar, described as a practical philosophy for personal development,social service and the all-around transformation of the society.
The word tantra is derived as: tan + trae + d́a. Tra [trae + d́a] means “that which liberates.” So Tantra means the science which shows the path for the emancipation of the human entity through psycho-spiritual expansion. In other words, the spirit of Tantra is ever to continue expanding.
What is Tantra? The process of transforming [latent divinity] into the Supreme Divinity is known as Tantra sádhaná. The sleeping divinity in animality is termed, in the language of spiritual aspirants, the kulakuńd́alinii. So we find that actually the spirit of Tantra sádhaná lies in infusing a [vibration] in the kulakuńd́alinii and pushing her up towards the spiritual goal.
The significance of the term tantra is “liberation from bondage [the bondage of dullness, or staticity]”. The letter ta is the seed [sound] of dullness. And the root verb trae suffixed by d́a becomes tra, which means “that which liberates” – so the spiritual practice which liberates the aspirant from the dullness or animality of the static force and expands the aspirant’s [spiritual] self is Tantra sádhaná. So there cannot be any spiritual practice without Tantra. Tantra is sádhaná.
(from Wikipedia) Tantra, also called Tantrism and Tantric religion, is an ancient Hindu tradition of beliefs and meditation and ritual practices that seeks to channel the divine energy of the macrocosm or godhead into the human microcosm, in order to attain siddhis and moksha. It arose in India no later than the 5th century CE, and had a strong influence on both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Thousands of years ago, yogis meditating in the silence of caves or mountains, were able to withdraw their minds not only from external sounds, but from the distractions of the physical body as well. They could then focus their minds on centres of subtle energy inside them. Along the spine and in the brain, there are seven psychic energy centres or chakras which control the functioning of mind and body. Most human beings are unaware of these chakras, but when the mind and body become more refined through meditation, these subtle energy centres can be perceived and controlled.
Those ancient yogis who directed their inner ear toward these energy centres, were able to hear the subtle vibrations emanating from each of them - 50 different vibrations in all. They then spoke them aloud, and each of these subtle inner sounds became one letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. Thus, the Sanskrit language - sometimes called “the mother of all languages” - was developed from the externalised sounds of our subtle internal energies. It is the human body’s eternal song.
The internal sounds discovered by the yogis and used to form the sanskrit alphabet were combined to form powerful “mantras” to be used to elevate the mind. For this reason, in Yoga, mantras are always formed from the sanskrit language. The word “mantra” comes from two words:
Man indicates contemplation and tra means to liberate, so mantra means that which when contemplated upon leads to liberation.
For thousands of years, these mantras were never written down, lest they be misused by unworthy power-seekers – they were passed down directly from guru to disciple. Even today, in A’nanda Marga Yoga, mantras must be learnt personally from a qualified teacher known as an acharya. Each individual has a unique personal or “entitative rhythm”, and receives, therefore, a personal mantra for use in meditation.
The mantra is like a rocket engine that propels the mind beyond the “gravitational fields” of the lower levels of consciousness, through all the turbulence of the subconscious mind, to the superconscious mind and beyond.
(from Wikipedia) "Mantra" (/ˈmæntrə, ˈmɑːn-, ˈmʌn-/;) means a sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power in Sanskrit.
Human beings have come to work. What is the body? The body is a machine (Yantra). What is the meaning of “Yantra”? Yaḿ + trae + D́a = Yantra - that is, that which is controlling everything. And when one can have this control. It can be done when some work is performed. Therefore work must be done. But how? The answer is, work is to be done with control and self-discipline. And that is the job of a machine. Human body is a machine. If we think deeply, we see that mind is also a machine. That is, what we do with the help of mind, we will do that in a well planned way. Just as working is an action, thinking is also an action.
(from Wikipedia) Yantra, as instrument and spiritual technology, may be appropriately envisioned as prototypical and esoteric concept mapping machines or conceptual looms. Certain yantra are held to embody the energetic signatures of, for example, the Universe, consciousness, ishta-devata. Though often rendered in two dimensions through art, yantra are conceived and conceptualised by practitioners as multi-dimensional sacred architecture and in this quality are identical with their correlate the mandala.
In the practice of yoga Sádhakas elevate Jaevii Shakti Kula Kuńd́alini (coiled serpentine) and merge it into Paramátmá. As the Kula Kuńd́alinii crosses various plexii the spiritual aspirant achieves Siddhis at the various stages of Yoga. The kula kuńd́alini can be raised only when the Sádhaka has a longing for Paramátman. When humans will desire to merge Jiiva Shakti (unit consciousness) with Shiva Shakti (Cosmic Consciousness) the Kula Kuńd́alinii will be elevated. Only when the longing to be one with Paramátman is intense will the Kula Kuńd́alinii rise up. When the Kundalinii is in the crudest stage it is in the Múládhára plexus.
(from Wikipedia) Kundalini (Sanskrit kuṇḍalinī, कुण्डलिनी, pronunciation (help·info), "coiled one"), in yogic theory, is a primal energy, or shakti, located at the base of the spine. Different spiritual traditions teach methods of "awakening" kundalini for the purpose of reaching spiritual enlightenment.
He makes you do sádhana, furnishes you with intellect and strength – surrender yourself to His will. Off with your load of self-conceit. Lighten the burden of your life and let yourself drift on the course of His will. It is He who is teaching you sádhana in the guise of a Guru. You are plundering His mercy through everything day and night. Go on working selflessly like a machine, leaving the doership to Him. How little can your small intellect comprehend His inscrutable liilá! How little can it be analysed! So, instead of analysing His liilá, only keep the bearing of that inscrutable juggler ever aglow before your eyes.
(from Wikipedia) Guru (Sanskrit: गुरु. IAST: guru) is a Sanskrit term that connotes someone who is a "teacher, guide or master" of certain knowledge. In pan-Indian traditions, guru is someone more than a teacher, traditionally a reverential figure to the student, with the guru serving as a "counselor, who helps mold values, shares experiential knowledge as much as literal knowledge, an exemplar in life, an inspirational source and who helps in the spiritual evolution of a student." The term also refers to someone who primarily is one's spiritual guide, who helps one to discover the same potentialities that the guru has already realized.
‘Dharma’ means something’s essential characteristic, that without which and object would not be itself. The focus of this class will be human dharma: what those characteristics are which make us human, rather than animal, plant or mineral.
Dharma is an endless subject and it gives the opportunity for focusing on the main characteristics that we share as human beings.
Kosa means "layer of mind." There are five layers of the human mind, in addition to the physical body, which – although technically not a kosa itself – is given the name Annamaya ("food") Kosa. Its natural means of development is through diet and physical exercise. In Ananda Marga practice it is also developed through asanas, Tandava and Kaoshikii.
(from Wikihow to do anything) In many traditional and new-age philosophies, the mind is made up of a series of different overlapping layers, each with its own purpose. These layers are ultimately constructions of our own mind and, therefore, with the correct approach, they can also be deconstructed when we need to reexamine and adjust our innermost motivations, dreams, fears, sadness, and worries. Knowing yourself is the key to going beyond your surface-level thoughts and unpacking your inner layers. It can take time to gain this sort of self-knowledge, so be patient and practice consistently to achieve this heightened state of awareness.
There must be a careful selection of the company you keep. That is what in Sanskrit is called Satsauṋga. Sat means “good,” and sauṋga means “association.” So while selecting company you should be careful whether its discourses, its activities, its plans or programmes decrease the distance between you and your Lord. This is Satsauṋga, good company. Otherwise it is Asatsauṋga (bad company). Even intellectual discussions of a high order may not be Satsauṋga if they have nothing to do with lessening the distance between you and your Lord, you and your Goal.
A traditional activity in the Indian spiritual context, meaning "being with good/righteous companions." Satsang is a sitting together with an enlightened person who usually gives a short speech and then answers questions.
This typically involves listening to or reading scriptures, reflecting on, discussing and assimilating their meaning, meditating on the source of these words, and bringing their meaning into one’s daily life
What is Sevá or service? Such work should be performed that will please Parama Puruśa (Supreme Consciousness). You know that service and commercial transactions are not one and the same. A commercial transaction is mutual: the guiding principle is to give something in exchange for something else. But service is unilateral; you are not accepting or demanding anything in exchange for your service. Human beings possess this spirit of service: it is part of their Bhágavata Dharma. They want to serve Parama Puruśa and they do not get the chance directly. So they serve the other children of the Lord, and thereby they please Him. This is the true service to Parama Puruśa.
(from Wikipedia) Selfless service or Seva (Punjabi: ਸੇਵਾ) is a service which is performed without any expectation of result or award for the person performing it. Such services can be performed to benefit other human beings or society.
Those who have the responsibility to show the path to others should be of superlative character with the most refined conduct. They and their followers must move constantly towards all-round development and shreya [ultimate spiritual attainment]. Persons who teach such well-regulated behaviour to others by their own conduct are called ácáryas. Bear in mind that people may be harmed or misled by even a small weakness or defect in the conduct of an ácárya. Just as it is the duty of a father to educate his children properly by his good conduct, an ácárya or ácáryá should always instruct by his or her exemplary actions and words.
(from Wikipedia) In Indian religions and society, an acharya (IAST: ācārya; Sanskrit: आचार्य; Tamil: அசாரி āsāri; Pali: acariya) is a preceptor or instructor in religious matters; founder, or leader of a sect; or a highly learned man or a title affixed to the names of learned men. The designation has different meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and secular contexts
Fear and shyness are two of the main propensities of human beings. Although there is the need for a certain degree of fear in order to survive, there overall effect of these two basic tendencies is not positive for the development of rationality. Human beings should learn how to control fear and shyness in any circumstances. It is in this endeavor that they get liberated by their worries and can experience love and happiness.
(from Wikipedia) Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events. Fear may occur in response to a specific stimulus happening in the present, or to a future situation, which is perceived as risk to health or life, status, power, security, or, in the case of humans, wealth or anything held valuable.
What is “Kiirtan”?
Sounds and music affect our minds in powerful ways. Yoga uses the power of sound and music to elevate the human mind. One such Yogic practice is called Kiirtan. Kiirtan is the singing of a spiritual mantra aloud while “ideating on” (thinking about) the Supreme Being.
The Mantras used in Yoga are from the Sanskrit language. Mantra literally means “that which when contemplated upon leads to liberation”. The power of mantra is based on the yogic law: “As the mind thinks so it becomes”.
In Ananda Marga Yoga, the mantra used for practicing Kiirtan is:
Baba Nam Kevalam
Here, “Baba” means “Infinite loving Consciousness”, Nam means “essence” or “expression” and Kevalam means “only” or “everything, hence:
“Everything is an expression of One Infinite Loving Consciousness” or
“Everything is Infinite Love”
The practice of Kiirtan has many benefits. By singing, hearing and thinking about the mantra “Baba Nam Kevalam” the mind becomes introspective and moves from the physical and mental planes to higher levels of consciousness. By deeply ideating on (thinking about) Infinite Loving Consciousness, ultimately the mind will become Infinite Loving Consciousness – as the mind thinks, so it becomes. This is Yoga (Union). Kiirtan plays an indispensable part in attaining Union.
”That which makes the mind soft and strong and strenuous, so it may keep itself in a balanced state even in the condition of pain - that which perpetually creates a pleasant feeling within, is called love.” Shrii Shrii A’nandamurti
Curing mental ailments
As well as helping attain “Union”, kiirtan also helps cure many psychic ailments such as depression, anxiety, shyness, doubt, guilt, jealousy and shame. By cultivating feelings of love, kiirtan increases empathy and deepens one’s sense of welfare for other people and living beings. When many are gathered together in singing Kiirtan, the whole environment gets vibrated with spiritual waves.
The dance of Kiirtan
Kiirtan is usually accompanied by a simple yogic dance. The arms are stretched above the head in a gesture of celebration of infinite Love and the feet step side to side in a rhythmic movement with the big toe coming in contact with the floor. Pressure just below the tip of the big toe activates subtle channels in the body that ultimately stimulate two glands in the brain - the pineal and pituitary glands - which release hormones that help elevate the mind. It also loosens the joints in the knees making it easier to sit in meditation! :)
(from anandamarga.org) Kiirtan is the singing of a mantra aloud while ideating on the Supreme Being. It inculcates the feeling of bliss and prepares the mind for meditation, because in performing it all the motor and sensory organs are engaged and directed towards the Supreme. It can be done anywhere, any time, but the best time is just before meditation.
Yogic meditation is the process by which one can scientifically and systematically expand one’s mind beyond limitations imposed upon it by society, family and personal history. It is an invaluable tool in gaining self-confidence and awareness, for overcoming lethargy and dullness, and in progressively increasing one’s ability to be happy! It is an ancient science, and has been practiced for over ten thousand years, and originated in India. The reason meditation is understood to be a 'science' is because the techniques were developed through experimentation with different breathing techniques, physical postures and how different thoughts affected the mind.
Meditation relaxes the central nervous system, slows the heart rate, lowers the blood pressure and slows the breathing. The meditator experiences a state of profound rest, even deeper than sleep, and a great deal of energy is accumulated for later use. One may also feel increased alertness and mental clarity and physical and mental processes after meditation are greatly enhanced. This leads to improvements in: *concentration *memory power *creativity *will power and determination * ability to handle stress * feeling of love for all * capacity to control negative thoughts, *self confidence and *positive thinking.
Meditation, it is true, is also a profound way to deepen one’s ability to relax, but relaxation is really just a side effect of this ancient spiritual science. Really the aim of meditation cannot easily be put into words: it is the realization of the Buddha and the awesome compassion of great spiritual personalities like Jesus of Nazareth. To understand the ecstasy of the saints and Yogis with a rational mind will only give a glimpse of what those states actually signify: as with everything, only personal experience will provide understanding. Luckily though, due to the very fact that we are human, we can experience such ecstasy and deep spiritual realizations, and meditation is the tool by which we can. They lead to a deeper understanding of what reality is, what it means to be alive, and an opportunity to live it more fully.
In Yoga we say “As you think, so you become”. It makes sense then to try to think as often as it possible about the largest and most positive idea we can. Use the following sanskrit words to help think about perhaps the most positive and vast idea there is: that “Everything is an expression of Infinite Loving Consciousness”; Ba’ba’ Nam Kevalam. Sing these words to any tune, or say them if you prefer, then sit comfortably with eyes closed and repeat the words silently in the mind, feeling their inner meaning. By meditating on this idea, our minds gradually become boundlessly positive! Meditation is thus is a great tool and an absorbing adventure…
(from Wikipedia)The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion,love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
Food is of fundamental importance for everyone. Our diet provides the building-blocks for the development and maintenance of body cells and also has an effect on our feelings and emotions on the mental and spiritual levels. For thousands of years, Yogis [practitioners of Yogic meditation] and sages have taught that both mind and body are profoundly influenced by what we eat. “You are what you eat” is a saying that applies to both body and mind.
Through Yoga [that is, the system of Yoga postures, meditation, etc.], we become more sensitive and and aware of our physical and mental existence. With this awareness, Yogis have divided food into three categories: “Sentient” [Sanskrit: Sattvik], “Mutative” [Rajasik] and “Static” [Tamasik].
Sattvik food is the best kind. It is beneficial for the body and development of the mind. These benefits are particularly noticed by those seeking and developing self-awareness through, for example, Yoga and meditation. Conversely, the negative effects of mutative and static foods are more readily observed.
Rajasik foods stimulate and agitate the body and mind and so should be taken only in moderation. Eating too much of these foods creates a restless mind that is difficult to still for subtle mental pursuits such as meditation.
Tamasik foods have a negative effect on the mind and a varied effect on the body. They tend to aggravate lower mental tendencies and cause dullness of mind. Those seeking health of body and elevation of mind are advised to avoid tamasik foods in preference for sattvik foods.
The more natural and fresh the food is, the more prana or vital energy it contains. We take the vital energy of the food, not just its vitamins and minerals. Not only is the type of food important, but also the amount consumed. Over-eating even sentient food can be harmful for the body and have negative effects on the mind. Foods containing chlorophyll - that is, green foods - are especially important in the production of lymph, the chemical agent which causes the formation of hormones. Lymph is the food of the nervous system, especially the brain, and hence the more greens in the diet the better! Food is best when prepared with love, in a positive and friendly environment.
Sentient / Sattvik
Grains & cereals
Spices such as
cinnamon & ginger
Mutative / Rajasik
Hot spices (e.g. chilli) in excess
Static / Tamasik
Meat (“red” & “white”)
Onions (& leeks)
Red lentils (green &
brown are sattvik)
Alcohol & Drugs
Stale, burnt or spoiled food
(Swami Shivananda about yogic diet) A diet that is wholly conducive to the practice of Yoga and spiritual progress is called Yogic diet. Diet has intimate connection with the mind. Mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of food.
There are entities which come within the realm of both physicality and psychic expressions which are smaller or subtler than atoms, electrons or protons, and in the psychic realm may be subtler than ectoplasm. For such objects or for such entities I use the term "microvitum". This microvitum, or in plural microvita, are not of protoplasmic order, and as such they have got little to do with carbon molecules or carbon atoms, which are treated as the initial points or initial stage of life in this universe. So far as physicality is concerned, the position of these microvita is just between ectoplasm and electron, but they are neither ectoplasm nor electron.
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One will have to guide one’s conduct carefully to ensure that one’s thought or actions cause pain to nobody and are unjust to none. Any thought or action with the intention of causing harm to someone else amounts to hiḿsá. The existence of life implies destruction of certain lower forms, no matter whether there is intention of doing harm or not. The process of respiration kills thousands of millions of protoplasmic cells. Whether one knows it or not, in every action such living cells are dying and being destroyed. The use of prophylactics means destructions of millions of disease-carrying germs. The crop-eating insects, parasites, mosquitoes, bugs, spiders, etc. are also being killed in innumerable ways. This is necessary to maintain one’s livelihood; it is not with the intention of causing pain to them. Such acts also, therefore, cannot be classed as hiḿsá; they are to be done for self-defense.
Satya implies proper action of mind and the right use of words with the spirit of welfare. It has no English synonym. The word “true” or “truth” would be translated in Saḿskrta as “rta” (to state the fact). The Sádhaka is not asked to follow the path of rta. One is to practise Satya. The practical side of Satya is dependent on relativity, but its finality lies in Parama Brahma, the Supreme Spiritual Entity. That is why Brahma is often referred to as the “essence of Satya.”
Not to take possession what belongs to others is asteya. It means non-stealing. Stealing may be of four types:
1. Physical theft of any material object. Ordinarily those persons who steal material objects are called thieves. But thieves are not only those persons who flee with stolen objects after committing armed robbery. Whatever is taken in possession by the use of brute physical force, of arms or of strength of intellect, whether it is money or goods, amounts to theft, because behind such actions there is the intention of taking others’ property deceitfully. However, acceptance of anything like money, crops, gold, etc., in exchange for money in a proper way is not theft.
2. Psychic theft. Here you did not take material possession of anything, but you planned it in your mind. This also called theft, because you have mentally stolen. Only the fear of law or of adverse criticism prevented you from doing the action physically.
3. Depriving others of their due physically. Even if you do not take possession of what belongs to others, but you deprive others of what is their due, you become responsible for their loss. This is also stealing.
4. Depriving others of their due mentally. If you do not actually deprive anybody of what is justifiably their due, but you plan in your mind to do so, that too amounts to theft.
The correct meaning of Brahmacarya is “to remain attached to Brahma”. “Brahmańi vicarańam iti Brahmacaryam”. Whenever people do some work or think of doing any work extroversially, they look upon the object, with which they come in contact, as a crude finite entity. Because of their constant aspiration for material achievement their mind is so engrossed in material objects that their very consciousness becomes crude. The meaning of practising Brahmacarya Sádhaná is to treat the object with which one comes in contact as different expressions of Brahma and not as crude forms. By means of such an ideation, even though the mind wanders from one object to another, it does not get detached from Brahma because of the Cosmic feeling taken for each and every object. As a result of this Preya Sádhaná (extroversial approach) is converted into Shreya Sádhaná (introversial approach) and Káma into Prema. ([Preya means attraction towards crude material objects, while] Shreya means attraction towards the ultimate reality. Káma means desire for finite objects and Prema means desire for the Infinite).
Non-indulgence in the enjoyment of such amenities and comforts of life as are superfluous for the preservation of life is aparigraha. For our existence we require food, clothes, and also a house to live in. Provision for old age and money and cultivable land for one’s dependents are also essential. Therefore, a number of factors have to be taken into consideration to determine an individual’s necessity for the preservation of life. It may be that the requirements of any two persons are not similar. It is therefore, difficult to determine the minimum requirements for any particular person, because it is entirely a relative factor. The minimum requirement of a person can, to some extent, be determined and decided by the society.
Tapah means to practise penance to reach the goal. To practise shaoca it is not necessary to undergo physical discomfort to serve humanity. A donation of ten rupees brings no physical discomfort for millionaires. It is, therefore, not tapah for them but this gift helps them in practising mental shaoca. There must be one and only one purpose behind the practice of penance and that is to shoulder sorrows and miseries of others to make them happy, to free them from grief and to give them comforts.
The first aspect of Niyama Sádhaná is Shaoca. It means purity or cleanliness. It can be subdivided into two parts, one relating to external sphere, i.e., external cleanliness, and the other to mental sphere, i.e. internal cleanliness.
When people, driven by instincts, direct their mental stuff blindly towards the objects of pleasure without taking any help from their conscience – or when mind ultimately gets crudified by being constantly goaded by selfish motives – whether or not they think of doing harm to others, their minds get distorted. The complexes by which this distortion occurs are the dirts of the mind. For example, if any acquaintance suddenly earns much name, fame or knowledge, many will develop a feeling of jealousy towards him. People suffer from mental trouble at the prosperity of others; they do not give the least thought as to how much potentiality they themselves possess to earn those things or to acquire those qualities. Though that fortunate person did no harm to them, yet being overpowered by jealousy they create trouble for, or think ill of, him or her.
Tośa means the state of mental ease. Santośa, therefore, means a state of proper ease. Contentment is not at all possible if the individual is running after carnal pleasures like a beast. As a result of extroversial analysis, the objects of enjoyments go on increasing both in number and abstraction and that is why one’s mental flow never gets any rest. Under such circumstances how can one attain perfect peace of mind? Achieving the desired objects may give one pleasure for an hour or so, but that will not last long. The mind will again run in pursuit of new objects, leaving behind the objects already tasted – the long-cherished objects will lose their importance. This is the rule; this is the law of nature.
Svádhyáya means the clear understanding of any spiritual subject. In ancient days students carried on their day-to-day Svádhyáya in the hermitage of the rśis. But the circumstances have changed and the term Svádhyáya has also lost its meaning with passage of time. Nowadays reading religious scriptures without grasping the meaning is also considered to be Svádhyáya. Religious professionals have misguided the public by their misinterpretation of the term svádhyáya. They say, “These are the results of reading such-and-such books; it matters little whether you understand the meaning or not. If you cannot find time to read books, simply touch your head with them thrice; or if you have no time to hear religious sermons, offer fruits or sweets to the deity. This will yield the same result. This is the real thing”.
There may be many interpretations of the term “Iishvara.” But it commonly means “the controller of this universe”. He who controls the thought-waves of this universe is Iishvara. Therefore, “Puruśottama” and “Iishvara” are not identical conceptions. In philosophy the word “Iishvara” has one more meaning – it is the witnessing counterpart of the objective Prakrti where the static principle is dominant. It is the witnessing entity of the causal world, it is the magnified essence of prájiṋa, it is an entity free from all bondages.
Prańidhána means to understand clearly or to adopt something as a shelter. Therefore Iishvara prańidhána means to establish oneself in the Cosmic idea – to accept Iishvara as the only ideal of life. The physical body constituted of five fundamental factors does not disobey the laws of the cycle of His thought-wave, extroversial or introversial. It is your mind that violates them, and this results in the degeneration of the unit consciousness; because unit consciousness is reflected in the mind and nowhere else. So Iishvara prańidhána means to move with accelerated speed towards that Supreme Shelter, God. Therefore, Iishvara prańidhána is absolutely based on bháva, or ideation – it is a mental effort in its entirety.
Ten cardinal principles that define a moral code are sufficint to shape a path for self-development. But what is the need of spirituality then? Why morality is not sufficient? What is the difference among the two? Is Yoga part of morality or spirituality?
Ananda Marga has a comprehensive system of meditation called (As’t’aunga) Sahaj Yoga that includes sense withdrawal, use of various types of mantras, and ideation on the Supreme. The mind is directed inward, toward the source of all peace, happiness and bliss, our inner Self.
Yama: helpful principles for moral living
The root verb ‘yama’ means to control, and here we will be looking at ways to direct one’s actions in a controlled way toward benevolence. There are five parts to Yama, and each one is interrelated to the others. They work like cogs in a machine, each one playing a vital role in the functioning of the whole. Without practicing these five points, as well as the five points of niyama, meditation becomes impossible as the mind is likely to become imbalanced and restless. Following these guidelines can lead to a sense of freedom that is full and wholesome!
1st ‘Cog’ of Yama: Ahimsa (non violence)
This is to not inflict pain or hurt on anybody by thought, word or action. It requires self reflection on one’s thoughts, deeds and speech with the aim of cultivating a desire to nurture and support others, to live and let live.
2nd ‘Cog’ of Yama: Satya (benevolent truthfulness)
Satya implies proper action of mind and right use of words with the spirit of welfare. In order for the other ‘cogs’ in the machine of yama to work properly, this one is absolutely essential. For example, Ahimsa is impossible if one is not established in satya. Also, being absolutely truthful is not always the most ‘satya’ thing to do. For instance, if a corrupt official is looking for a journalist to imprison, and you know their location, it may well be more in adherence to Satya to misdirect them! One established in Satya develops immense self-confidence: they cannot be defeated.
3rd ‘Cog’ of Yama: Asteya (non-stealing)
Not to take possession of or desire what belongs to others is Asteya. Again, if one is not established in Satya, it is not possible to follow Asteya as one must have feeling of welfare towards others. One must also have and cultivate will power to live this principle.
4th ‘Cog’ of Yama: Brahmacarya (seeing all as the Supreme)
To remain attached to the Supreme. Whoever takes this ideation becomes great. Brahmacarya means to think about the Supreme while doing work. Like Satya, without Brahmacarya the other cogs of Yama will not work properly. By seeing all things as an expression of the Supreme Consciousness, a natural desire arises to treat all with the utmost respect and love. Whilst the Spirit of Brahmacarya is internal then, its appliance is external. Everything is a manifestation of the Supreme, but people forget this: ‘This is mine, that is mine etc.’. In this way the mind becomes crude. All is only That entity, playing within ‘His’ own mind.
5th ‘Cog’ of Yama: Aparigraha (freedom from desire for material wealth).
The effort to desire, on a material level, only what is required for one’s survival is called aparigraha. Human beings want contented peace (shanti), but in ignorance of how to achieve this we run after physical objects. The hunger for material wealth is endless: we always want more. Aparigraha is a way to cultivate the will power to take and use only what we need. The result of practicing aparigraha is called Shanti, and is a balanced state of mind when the subconscious mind uses its will force to guide the conscious mind toward spiritual and mental, as opposed to physical, enjoyment. Whereas the physical resources in the world are limited, the mental and spiritual ones are not! Ideally Aparigraha should also be practiced in both individual and collective life, which would be manifest in a proper socio-economic and social structure.
Niyama: helpful principles for moral living 2
As with Yama, Niyama is part of a spiritual science that recognises both the Shariira Yantra (physical body), and Manasa Yantra (psychic body) as being essential tools for all round human progress. In order to strengthen one’s mind sufficiently to be able to keep a balanced mind and act benevolently in difficult circumstances, it is important to exercise self discipline: Niyama provides the template for that discipline. Whereas the five ‘cogs’ of Yama are concerned with action in the external world, Niyama’s ‘cogs’ are to do with the internal one. Indeed, Niyama is an autonomous machine: it works and regulates itself without outside output.
1st ‘Cog’ of Niyama: Shaoca (Purity or cleanliness)
Shaoca can be subdivided into two parts, one relating to the external sphere ie. external cleanliness, and the other to the mental sphere ie. internal cleanliness.
Shaoca then includes both keeping one’s body (including eating proper food) and living space clean, as well as keeping one’s thoughts ‘pure’ i.e. replacing jealously with friendliness.
2nd ‘cog’ of Niyama: Santosa (contentment)
Santosa is thorough contentment with one’s situation. Contentment is when one has no desire for an object. Happiness and contentment then are different: happiness comes from enjoying satisfying desires, whereas contentment arises from not needing the objects of desire to feel happy.
Santosa is intimately related with Aparigraha – the fifth ‘cog’ of Yama: not desiring more than is needed for one’s physical survival.
When one is always content, one feels like a King. Without santosa though, we are beggars even if rich.
3rd ‘cog’ of Niyama: Tapah (to suffer for the welfare of all)
Tapah is to means to suffer hardship in order to shoulder the sorrows and miseries of others to make them happy, to free them from grief and to give them comfort. However, it is of paramount importance that Tapah is practiced with love, otherwise it will have a negative effect on the practitioner.
4th ‘cog’ of Niyama: Svadhyaya (spiritual study)
Svadhyaya is the clear understanding of any spiritual subject. It is developed through reading spiritual literature and understanding the inner meaning of the text. Spiritual literature is here considered to be those writings whose truths are not context dependent, like economic or social truths, but whose teachings are timeless.
5th ‘cog’ of Niyama: Iishvara Pranidhana (meditation)
Iishvara Pranidhana means to take the shelter of the Supreme Consciousness. It is when the flow of all the mind’s propensities are channelized towards One.
‘Pranidhana’ means literally detaching all ones propensities from objects, and Iishvara Pranidhana is when those propensities are channelized toward Parama Purusa.
Half bath and bath, singing of Kiirtana (spiritual mantra) and Bhajana (spiritual songs) help with this ‘cog’, as well as getting individual guidance from a meditation teacher and knowing the inner meaning of mantra.
Yoga exercises are known in Sanskrit as “asanas”, meaning, ‘postures comfortably held’, and are the physical side of yoga. They are poses that gently stretch the body and relax the mind. Yoga postures use deep breathing techniques in combination with these physical poses to tone the body and regulate glandular activity. The human body is a biological machine that is controlled by these glands and their sub-glands. Under or over-secretion of hormones from these glands causes imbalance in the body. For example, an under-active thyroid gland causes obesity.
The fourth component of Astaunga Yoga is Pranayama or control of vital energy. Pranayama is a well-known practice of yoga, but the principle upon which this practice is based is less well known and deserves explanation here.
The fifth limb of Astaunga Yoga is know as Pratyahara which means to withdraw the mind from its attachment to external objects.
The sixth part of Astaunga Yoga is Dharana. Dharana means the concentration of the mind at a specific point.
When someone has gained skill in Dharana, he or she can then learn the seventh limb of Astaunga Yoga which is Dhyana. In this process, the mind is first brought to a particular cakra and then is directed in an unbroken flow towards the Supreme Consciousness. This flow continues until the mind becomes completely absorbed in the Supreme Consciousness. This process is difficult and is only given after the aspirant has practiced all the preceding steps, particularly Dharana.
Samadhi is not like the other seven steps in that it is not a particular method or practice, rather it is the result of practicing the other parts of Astaunga Yoga. It is the absorption of mind in the Supreme Consciousness. There are two principal forms of samadhi, nirvikalpa and savikalpa. Savikalpa is a trance of absorption with distortion or qualification. In savikalpa samadhi the person has the feeling that "I am the Supreme Consciousness", but in nirvikalpa samadhi there is no longer a feeling of "I". The individual consciousness is totally merged in the Cosmic Consciousness.
It is a fact the world is turning vegetarian day by day and spiritual practices are accelerating this process.
Neohumanism is the practice of love for all created beings of the universe, animate and inanimate. It is the spirit of humanism extended to all: the elevation of humanism to universalism.
"When the underlying spirit of humanism is extended to everything, animate and inanimate, in this universe – I have designated this as 'Neohumanism'. This Neohumanism will elevate humanism to universalism, the cult of love for all created beings of this universe."
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar
Education is for all-around liberation: physical, psychic and spiritual.
The guiding philosophy of Ananda Marga schools is Neohumanist Education. Neohumanism is the philosophy of the innate oneness of all things. Studying about the "web of life" helps one to understand the interconnections between self, others and the natural environment.
Neohumanist education fosters love and respect for all, regardless of culture, religion, race or nationality, and for animals and plants and the earth's ecosystems. Children learn these principles both through lessons and teacher modeling, as well as through developing their own intuitional feeling about the interconnectedness of all things.
Aims and ideals of Neohumanist Education:
• To develop the full potential of each child: physical, mental and spiritual.
• To awaken a thirst for knowledge and love of learning.
• To equip students with academic and other skills necessary for higher education.
• To facilitate personal growth in areas such as morality, integrity, self-confidence, self-discipline and cooperation.
• To develop physical wellbeing and mental capabilities through yoga and concentration techniques, sports and play.
• To develop a sense of aesthetics and appreciation of culture through drama, dance, music and art.
• To encourage students to become active and responsible members of society.
• To promote an awareness of ecology in its broadest sense (i.e. the realization of the inter-relatedness of all things) and to encourage respect and care for all living beings.
• To encourage a universal outlook, free from discrimination based on religion, race, creed or gender.
• To recognize the importance of teachers and parents in setting an example.
General principles of Neohumanist Education:
1. Integrated development of the whole personality
2. Value-oriented curriculum
3. Spiritual oneness as the goal of lif
4. Integrated approach to learnin
5. All discipline
6. Blending of local culture and universal vision
7. A new environmental consciousness
8. Exemplary role of the educator
9. Inculcation of the spirit of servic
10. Social justice and upliftment
Comprehensive Methodology for several aspects of human development:
For physical development
For cognitive development
For moral development:
For creative development:
For intuitional and spiritual development:
For social and environmental development:
Qualities of teachers
The role of teachers in our society is of paramount importance, as it is the young children who will be the leaders of tomorrow. Children learn very quickly, and everything is easily assimilated by their inquisitive and absorbent minds. As such, the exemplary role of educators is of vital importance, as they themselves are setting the example for the children.
This third section just concluded give you the sense of how education is the nucleus of social change. If you got the desire to start a school than my job as been successful. Always looking forward to hear from you.
In 1959, PR Sarkar, an Indian philosopher, answered this question when he presented the Progressive Utilization Theory (known by the acronym, PROUT). PROUT is an economic theory that addresses the defects of both capitalism and Marxism and offers the promise of a new economic order in which the world’s resources will be distributed in an equitable and rational fashion.
Based on spirituality
All long for the Supreme, either knowingly or unknowingly. All want infinite happiness; perfect peace. Spiritual thirst is quenched with the attainment of the Supreme Bliss. So spiritual practice is essential. For spiritual practice the mind is required, but for the mind to function properly the body must be properly maintained. Physical requirements must precede psycho-spiritual development and elevation. So spirituality is linked to the socio-economic necessities. Therefore, as a socio-economic theory, Prout is based on spirituality.
Four basic varnas of human psychology
Varna means "mental colour." There are four basic varnas in human society: shudra (labourer), ksattriya (warrior), vipra (intellectual) and vaeshya (merchant). Prout recognizes that the "Social Cycle" moves according to the dominance of a particular varna at any one time: from shudra to ksattriy to vipra to vaeshya, followed by a "Shudra Revolution" and the start of a new cycle.
While political power must be in the hands of centrally placed moralists, economic power and decision-making should be under local control, because it is the local leaders and planners who have local sentiments, understand the problems of the area, and are able to implement policies quickly and effectively (as opposed to centralized economic planning and production, which is inherently inefficient and leads to economic and social disparity).
The freedom of the local people to make their own economic decisions is thus called economic democracy. For it to be successful, the minimum requirements of life must be guaranteed to all (through increasing purchasing capacity), and no outsiders should be allowed to interfere with the local economy.
Cooperatives are "the best expression of human sweetness in the physical realm" because they function as units of coordinated cooperation, and each member has the feeling of oneness with the job because he or she contributes directly to the operation and decision-making process of the cooperative, and gets ample opportunity for the development of his or her latent potentialities. Incentives provide motivation, and the wealth and resources of many individuals are combined for the benefit of the co-op as a whole. Each member has the feeling of ownership because he or she owns shares in the cooperative according to land, capital or equipment contributed.
Cooperatives will be the optimal means of production and distribution of goods and services in any decentralized economy. In actual fact, a decentralized economy is vital to their success. Other essential factors are morality, a strong administration, and the whole-hearted acceptance of the system among all members of the co-op.
Types of cooperatives include agricultural, industrial (for production of goods), consumer (for distribution of goods), and additional (service, banking, housing, medical, etc.).
Because food is the most essential commodity, agriculture is the most important part of the economy and should have the same status as industry, including wage rates.
For optimal agricultural production, the socialization of agricultural land should be implemented. This has to be done psychologically (because many people have a strong sentimental attachment to their land) in four stages:
1. All uneconomic land holdings brought under the cooperative system.
2. All land compulsorily brought under the cooperative system.
3. Rational redistribution of land according to need and capacity.
4. Production and distribution fully under the cooperative system.
Rational distribution implies the distribution of wealth primarily according to one's needs, and secondarily according to one's special merit and skills. It does not mean equal distribution, as that would destroy work-incentive and result in stagnancy.
"Those who think of equating all, verily think of destroying all."
Shrii Shrii Anandamurti
At the same time, it implies a ceiling on individual wealth to restrict excessive accumulation. The psychic and spiritual wealth of the world is unlimited, but physical wealth is not. The hoarding of physical wealth, therefore, results in the deprivation of others.
"If a person acquires and accumulates excessive wealth, he or she directly curtails the happiness and convenience of others in society. Such behaviour is flagrantly antisocial."
Shrii Shrii Anandamurti
What society needs and how to fulfill this need is a paramount question that should be addressed in a practical way by all spiritual minded people.
Discussions with Dada Vimaleshananda about Neohumanism, Education, Service and living as a spiritual aspirant in the world. Dada Talk about Ananda Marga spiritual and social outlook with two students on the lawn of a University Campus.
Service to Humanity
Service means giving of oneself without expecting anything in return. In our present society we've been conditioned to think that the more we gain for ourselves the happier we'll be. But in fact – as we are all realising – inner happiness lies in giving more, not taking more. Giving is indeed receiving. When we give we increase our sense of connection and feeling of oneness with all people and all things. Indeed, with the essence of all. The transformation of selfishness to selflessness is the transformation of one's limited self (one's limited sense of awareness) into the greater Self (infinite awareness). In this process our radius of love gradually increases to encompass the whole universe.
People get depressed when they feel disconnected, cut off from the joys and sorrows of the rest of the world, imprisoned in their own concerns. But the more we expand our sense of self and connection with others, the more we feel that we're all in this cosmic drama together and we're all helping each other through it. That feeling of connection comes from daily introspection and service. The more you feel it internally the more you feel like sharing it. And the more you share it the more you feel it internally. The two aspects - self-realisation and service - are complimentary, feeding into each other like a river feeds into the sea, the sea water in turn evaporating and feeding back into the river in a beautiful cycle of integrated oneness.
"It is action that makes a person great.
Be great by your sadhana [spiritual practice],
by your service, and by your sacrifice."
Shrii Shrii Anandamurti
Ananda Marga runs numerous children's homes around the world, like the Lotus Children's Center in Mongolia, and Baan Unrak in Thailand:
Baan Unrak ("Home of Joy") children’s home gives more than 100 children and several abandoned mothers a home and hope for a better future.
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar established Ananda Marga to help all human beings develop spiritually. However, people suffering absolute poverty or devastated by natural calamities are mentally unable to meditate or do other spiritual practices. Hence Ananda Marga's affiliated relief branch AMURT (Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team) operates disaster relief operations and development projects to help those in need. Its sister organization, AMURTEL (Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team Ladies), primarily focuses on the needs of women and children who typically suffer the brunt of calamities and poverty.
One of the few voluntary organizations of Third World origin, AMURT was established in 1970 and incorporated in the USA in 1985. It is a non-profit NGO – formally recognized as such by the United Nations through its Department of Public Information – having charitable and tax-exempt status in the US, UK and various other countries.
Its objectives are to aid the poor and underpriviledged of the world through disaster relief in the event of natural or man-made disasters, and long-term community development and rehabilitation projects.
In pursuit of these goals AMURT has maintained a long-established working relationship with the Red Cross and numerous other disaster relief and development organizations.
AMURT and AMURTEL have undertaken numerous disaster relief responses over the past five years including Indonesia, USA, India, Haiti, and Myanmar.
One of the main aspects of Ananda Marga's service work is its community development projects in poor and deprived communities, such as in Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso:AMURT (Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team) first started working in the remote desert region of Deou in 1986, in cooperation with the Burkina Faso Department of Health. The desert communities had no roads, electricity or telephone communications, no commercial economy, scarce access to safe water, and 90 percent illiteracy in the outlying areas. The first project was the construction of a hospital, and over the years AMURT has expanded its projects in the area with well construction, literacy drives, vegetable gardens, cereal banks, road construction, reforestation, cooperatives and other projects.
The World Health Organization(WHO) estimates that malnutrition accounts for 54 percent of child mortality worldwide, about 1 million children. Another estimate also by WHO states that childhood underweight is the cause for about 35% of all deaths of children under the age of five years worldwide.
The main causes are unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene, factors related to society and poverty, diseases, maternal factors, gender issues and - overall - poverty.
You have arrived to the conclusion of the course and I really thought what could be the last lecture so that you will have the best to take away with you. In the end I went in search of the most devotional kiirtan I could find which leaves a very soothing feeling for both you as a student and me as a instructor of this course. May you find more and more on the Path of Yoga and on the Path of Bliss. With deep love in the Supreme Source.
Acarya Vimaleshananda Avadhuta - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dada Vimaleshananda learned meditation with Ananda Marga in 1986 and since then he has practiced the way of Tantra and Tantra Yoga in different continents.
Originally from Europe he graduated in the Intuitional School of Ydrefors, Sweden in 1993 after two years of intensive theoretical and practical training.
In India he met hi Master Shrii Shrii Anandamurti who have inspired him to become an Acarya or spiritual teacher of Ananda Marga.
In South America he traveled extensively in remote areas where he brought spirituality to all people that were waiting for the inner call.
In Haiti he opened a school for poor children.
In North America he has taught meditation and yoga inspiring people to become active in society against all odds and obstacles.
At present in Los Altos Hills he took the initiative for this course of Rajadhiraja Yoga which is a short break in his traveler journey on this planet.