By Jayaram V
Atma yoga is the yoga of self. The aim of atma yoga is to
unite the lower
self with higher self and establish a divine centered
consciousness. This is accomplished by bringing together the
disunited components of the lower consciousness through the
practice of yoga into one integrated whole and harmonize it
with the higher self.
Discipline is at the root of all spiritual progress. It is
hard imagine whether progress is possible in any field without
discipline. While a certain degree of indiscipline may be
tolerated in some aspects of life, in spiritual life there can
be no compromise. Discipline is important in spiritual practice
because the ultimate aim of all spiritual activity is to become
free from the restricted life and the limited awareness which
characterize our existence upon earth, in which orderliness and
organized effort are necessary to remain free from the chaos of
our incessantly restless minds. It is not therefore no wonder
that the Bhagavad-Gita recognizes the importance of self
discipline in the spiritual progress of man.
The Bhagavadgita says that to achieve the Highest State of
Self-Realization through buddhiyoga, one has to practice
atmasamyamayoga or the yoga of self. How this is to be done is
described in the sixth chapter (Ch 6:10-19).
According to the scripture, a yogi should concentrate his
mind constantly on his Self, leading a solitary life,
controlling his mind, free from desires and possessiveness.
Placing his firm seat in a clean place, neither too low nor too
high, covering it with a soft cloth, deer skin and kusa grass,
he should practice yoga for self purification, keeping his
mind, senses and activities under firm control.
Holding the body, the neck and the head straight in one
line, concentrating his gaze on the tip of his nose,
undistracted, with peaceful mind, fearless, practicing
celibacy, subdued in passions, he should become established in
God and attain perfect peace and nirvana (Ch6:10-15).
There is no place for extremities in this yoga (6.16-18). This
yoga is neither for the voracious eater nor for the non-eater.
It is neither for the constant sleeper nor for the chronic
insomniac. The buddhi yogi who is regulated in diet and
relaxation, in sleeping and waking, becomes impervious to all
Resting in the self alone, freed from all desires, he
becomes established in the yoga of equanimity. In that state,
he realizes his hidden Self, becomes satisfied in the Self
(Ch6:20), finds unlimited happiness, develops an understanding
of the transcendental state through his pure intellect and
remains immobile to all sorrow.
He enjoys the extreme bliss of union with Brahman and
develops the unified vision of the Universal Self, seeing the
Self in all and all in the Self (6.21-29).
What happens if one fails in the yoga of self and mastering
the self? According to the Bhagavadgita, the effort in the yoga
of self does not go waste. There is no destruction for him who
engages himself in such pious activities, neither here nor
If he falls from the yoga, he may not attain the Supreme
State, but he would go to the higher worlds, lives there for
countless years and again takes birth in the house of the
wealthy, or alternatively, though rare, in the house of the
pious or the yogis.(6.41&42).
On his rebirth in his new life, he regains the buddhi of his
previous life and through it strives again with greater vigor
and determination for self-realization. (6.43).
The practice of atmayoga also involves the cultivation of
divine virtues and the quality of purity or sattva. The divine
qualities are enumerated in the 16th and 17th Chapters of the
scripture. Besides as a part of self-discipline, one should
cultivate disinterest in the results of one's action,
detachment from the objects of the senses, control of desires
and surrender oneself to God completely and unconditionally,
accepting Him as the doer and one's own inner Self.
Suggested Further Reading