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Samadhi by “Giving the Life to God”: Ishwara Pranidhana

Ishwara PranidhanaSutra 23 of Book One of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

23. Or by total giving of the life to God.

This could legitimately be rendered: “Or by total merging of the life with/into God.” This is NOT a mere: “Here, O Lord, take my life; I give it to you.” That is a noble aspiration if intelligent understanding is behind it, but otherwise it is a meaningless sentimental ramble. But Patanjali is speaking of the actual transformation of life which naturally culminates in union with God.

In the ancient yogic tradition–that of the Gorakhnath and the Nath Yogis–the process of transformation is called Samarasya, which means oneness–especially of essence–which results from the elimination of all differences. It is also the process of bringing the human being on all levels into a harmonious resonance with the Divine that will automatically result in perfect union with the Divine. It is not a making of the yogi into something, but a removal or erasure of all differences–which include conflicts–with the Absolute. When this occurs the individual is naturally merged in Brahman and his eternal, divine nature is revealed in that union. This is an extremely important point, for it not only determines the nature of authentic yoga, it reveals nearly all “yoga” to be artificial, and therefore of temporary effect, and ultimately productive of nothing but illusion and illusory change.

It will be helpful to look at some extracts from the book Philosophy of Gorakhnath by Askhaya Kumar Banerjea. In fact, I strongly recommend that you obtain a copy of the book and study it carefully, for it reveals aspects of yoga that were virtually unknown until Banerjea did his research and wrote the book.

First, there is the following from the Prefatory Note by Sri Gopinath Kaviraj, who during his lifetime was considered the greatest scholar of modern India:

“This Ideal is described in one word as Samarasya, which implies obliteration of traces of all kinds of existing differences, not by a process of transcendence as in Sankhya, or of sublation as in Vedantic Mayavada, but by a positive process of what may be described as mutual interpenetration. This ideal underlies the principle of unification between Purusha and Prakriti, or between Shiva and Shakti. The attainment of this ideal is the Supreme Unity of Parama Shiva, where Shiva and Shakti are one undivided and indivisible Whole.…

“A cursory glance at the ancient spiritual literature of India would reveal the fact that in almost all the systems associated with Agamic [scriptural] culture we find a strong insistence on the ideal of Samarasya in some form or other.…

“The Swacchanda-Tantra which is one of the earliest Agamas available to us furnishes a detailed account of the several stages in the process of the unification which ends in Supreme Samarasya. In this process seven grades are mentioned and described.…

“…Henry Suso, the disciple of the great German mystic Meister Eckhart referred to the union of the soul and God. He spoke of God as saying, “I will kiss them (the suffering saints) affectionately and embrace them so lovingly that I shall be they and they shall be I and the two shall be united in one for ever.” Elsewhere it is said, “The essence of the soul is united with the essence of the Nothing and the powers of the one with the activities of the Nothing.” (The Little Book of the Truth, edited by J. M. Clark, Page 196). This is exactly like the union (Samyoga) of Linga or Paramatma with Atma of the Vira Shaiva School.

“From what has been said above it is abundantly clear that in some form or other Samarasya is the ideal, not only of the Agamic Culture, but also of many other spiritual sadhanas.

“It now remains to be seen how the Natha Yogins conceived this highest consummation of Oneness. It is said that the true process of Samarasya begins only when the Sadguru’s grace has succeeded in effecting Mental Quiet (chitta-vishranti). The real sadhana cannot commence until the mind is rendered quiet and free from disturbances incident on a sense of identity with the body. The mind being at rest, the Divine Bliss and an experience of Pure Infinite Glory dawn on the soul which is awakened from its age-long slumber. The sense of duality disappears in the serene Light of Undifferentiated Unity. This Light, unbounded and one, brings out the powers of Consciousness. The Universal Consciousness being once awakened produces in the yogin a perfect knowledge of his own Body, which results in the illumination and stabilization of the Body concerned (pinda siddi).

“In other words this Body becomes immortal and immune from the ravaging effects of Time. The Yogi is now an adept (sidda). This Luminous
Form which is the essence of Chaitanya has to be made, as a further step, one with the Universal Uncreated Light of Paramapada already revealed. This is done through a continuous process of investigation into the real nature of the Atma. It is to be remembered that Samarasya should not be a momentary attainment, but a permanent possession, in the sense that no reversal (vyutyana) may ever occur. Before this state (nirutvana) is made permanent after Samarasya is once attained, some successive moments in the Supreme Experience are noted:

“(I) The Transcendental Reality is revealed as the Universe. In other words, the difference between what is Formless and what has Form disappears forever and it is co-eternal with the vision of the Universe in the Atma.

“(II) In the transitional stage there is a tendency in the Powers to move out. This has to be restrained and the Powers kept as contained within the Atma.

“(III) The Atma is realized as a continuum of unbroken Prakasha with
Supreme Dynamism.

“(IV) As a result of all this there is a unique Vision of Being which is unborn. This is the Supreme Integral Vision which marks the stage of Nirutthana. It is a Vision of Eternity when infinite varieties are seen as an expression of the One and when the One reveals Itself in every point of the Infinite.…

“The Natha ideal is first to realize Jivanmukti through pinda siddi which secures an Immaculate Body of Light free from the influence of Time, i.e. a deathless undecaying spiritual body and then to realize Para-Mukti or the Highest Perfection through the process of mutual integration (samarasi karan).”

Then we have this from the text by Banerjea:

“For the actual realization of this Ideal of Samarasa, the body and the senses and the vital forces and the mental functions have to be brought under control and thoroughly systematized and the intellect has to be refined and enlightened. The consciousness has to be elevated to higher and higher planes. The Yogi school asserts and practically demonstrates that man has got in his inner nature the capacity to exercise perfect control not only over his own physical and vital and sensuous and psychical nature but also over the forces of outer nature. It is also demonstrated that control over one’s own nature is the surest and most effective way to the development of power to control the forces of outer nature. Through self-control the will-power of a man is extraordinarily developed and this development has practically no limit. A man with perfect self-control can develop such will-power in himself as to conquer all the forces of the world. But bis nature becomes so calm and tranquil and so perfectly adjusted and harmonized and all-assimilative, his individual nature becomes so wonderfully attuned to the life of Cosmic Nature, that he usually enjoys the magnificent unity and beauty of all the diversified self-manifestations of Saccidananda in the world and seldom finds any occasion for exercising his personal will for bringing about any revolutionary change in this world-order. It is to be remembered that the human individuality and the cosmic process are evolved from and regulated by the same Supreme Power of the same Supreme Spirit.

“The Yoga-system, which is as old as the spiritual culture of Bharatavarsha [India] and which has been greatly expatiated and widely popularized by Gorakhnath and the monastic organization founded by him, is not conditioned by any metaphysical theory or any particular religious belief or creed. It is quite compatible with every philosophical and religious system. It is open to all those who earnestly seek for the fulfillment of their life and the attainment of peace and bliss and perfect adjustment and harmony and unity of all internal and external relations. It is the most scientific and comprehensive method of self-discipline for the attainment of perfect mastery over the body and the senses and the vital functions and the mental tendencies as well as the forces of external nature and for the progressive purification and enlightenment and universalization and harmonization of the human consciousness till the highest plane of absolute Samarasya is reached. The system never becomes too old and antiquated for any modern age and in any modern circumstances. One may be a man of action and an advocate of Karma-Marga, or a man of emotional temperament and an advocate of Bhakti-Marga, or a man of philosophic temperament and an advocate of Jnana-Marga, the Yoga system of self-discipline is suitable for all and it strengthens the character and develops and refines the mental and intellectual and spiritual powers of everybody to march forward more easily and quickly in the path he chooses.”

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