by M. Govindan Satchidananda
My teacher, Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah, often cited three requirements to receive the grace of Babaji. "The amount of Grace you receive depends upon how much sadhana you do, how much karma yoga or service you do and how much love and devotion you manifest," he would say. Not only in words, but also in the ways he required us to live our lives, as residents of his ashram and centers. What exactly did he mean by the terms "grace", "sadhana", "karma yoga" and "love and devotion"? How were these teachings applied in the lives of his dedicated students? One day I will write a book about this. For now, a brief description can help Babaji's students find success in this field and in all five planes of existence.
" Grace" is a term which one finds in many spiritual traditions, and it refers to all that we receive which helps us to evolve and to come closer to the Divine, ultimately experiencing our Oneness. It often takes the form of fortuitous occurrences which we recognize as blessings, but it may manifest as blessings in disguise, cloaked in suffering as a result of some loss. It may also be experienced as spiritual experiences, such as Divine Light, visions, ecstasies or the descent of a great peace. Because it comes spontaneously, we attribute it to some force or entity outside of ourselves, usually the Divine form to which we are most devoted or allied with. As we often go through long periods where there is seemingly little progress in our spiritual evolution, despite all of our efforts, we seek the grace of the Divine to help us to reach new levels of awareness or experience. Both grace and effort are necessary for progress. Without our efforts to surrender our ego, there is no room for the grace in our lives. In ego consciousness we take credit for all the good things that come to us, and blame God for all the bad things. But when we awaken from the sleep of ego consciousness we realize that it is just the reverse. As my teacher often used to say: "All that is good is due to the Grace of Babaji, all that is bad is the work of the ego". Following its own selfish impulses of desire, as well as those of fear and pride, the ego creates a chain of actions and painful reactions. When, however, we purify the subconscious and awaken the consciousness of the Presence of the Divine, we become a witness and a consciously guided participant in His unfolding creation. The little promptings of the inner voice in the stillness of our soul are listened to and followed. The blaring trumpets of the ego, desire, fear and pride, are increasingly ignored.
To cooperate with our Satguru in this holy transformation of ego consciousness to Divine consciousness through Divine grace, sadhana, service and devotion are essential. What exactly do these terms mean?
"Sadhana" literally means "discipline", and it refers to all efforts to consciously remember the presence of God or to experience our true Self. One who practices yoga for these purposes is known as a "sadhak" (male) or "sadhaka" (female). A "Kriya Yoga Sadhak" is one who follows the path of "Babaji's Kriya Yoga", practicing its techniques and following the teachings of Babaji. These techniques are taught during initiations and retreats. So are the teachings, which are also found to some extent in the publications released to date. Collectively these are referred to as "Tamil Kriya Yoga Siddhantham". As most of Babaji's teachings have been given in an oral form only, it will require a number of years before we can bring these out in the form of books and journal articles. Babaji's teachings are really the cream or condensed form of "Tamil Yoga Siddhantham", the teachings of the 18 Tamil Yoga Siddhas. The most important writings of which include "Thirumandiram", Boganathar's collected works (which have yet to be translated), and Agastyar's collected works (which have yet to be collected in their entirety, and translated). Babaji's two gurus were Boganathar and Agastyar, and so a complete understanding of his teachings will require that these be published one day. Rather than write himself, Babaji has preferred to crystallize the teachings he received from these two great Siddhas, or perfected beings, into "Kriyas" or "practical yogic techniques", and to encourage their dissemination through a few dedicated souls whom he could use as instruments. One such soul was my teacher, Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah, whose every action in life was soaked in the nectar of devotion for Babaji. He used to say, however, that Babaji could raise up any number of souls to the level of saints, sages and siddhas, if they would but surrender to Him.
A Kriya Yoga "sadhak" or "sadhaka" is one who is consciously trying to surrender their ego consciousness for a Divine consciousness, by the systematic practice of the techniques and teachings of Babaji and the 18 Siddhas. "Kriya Yoga Sadhana" refers to the practice of all of the techniques and activities prescribed in Babaji's five- fold path:
By systematically practicing these five phases the suffering caused by the ego consciousness gradually disappears and is replaced by happiness in all five planes of existence. For example, when by practicing Kriya Hatha Yoga systematically, one experiences radiant physical health, relaxation and peace, one is liberated from preoccupations with the physical body's tendencies towards illness, inertia and pain. One can then tune into the more subtle parts of one's being and gradually free them from their preoccupations, which like knots, bind one to a round of painful actions and reactions.
By practicing the Kriya Kundalini pranayama and other prescribed breathing techniques one experiences tremendous amounts of energy, which can serve as fuel to overcome tendencies towards laziness, forgetfulness, and depression, when directed properly using Kriya Dhyana meditation techniques. Working together pranayama and meditation helps the Kriya Yoga sadhak to become increasingly aware of the Presence of the divine. Kriya Kundalini Pranayama brings more and more pranic energy up to the higher centers of awareness in the vital body: coincident with the heart, where it manifests as more and more love for God and others; at the throat center, with greater powers of self expression in various media; at the forehead center, where intuition, creativity, clairvoyance manifest; and at the crown center, where cosmic consciousness is realized and one experiences the Presence of the Divine everywhere.
The practice of Kriya Dhyana Yoga purifies the subconscious and helps to replace habitual thinking and acting out with the very conscious awareness that one is being guided in all activities. It begins during brief moments during sessions of mediation when one becomes aware of one's thinking or feeling, as their witness, and progresses to remaining aware during daily activities and even during sleep periods. One learns to be attentive and to discriminate and reject those habitual thoughts which are not helpful to remaining at peace. It leads ultimately to the experience of samadhi, first experienced in the breathless state of communion with God, "sarvihelpa" samadhi, and if repeated often enough, during everyday life, as the continuous experience of God in everything, known as "nirvihelpa" samadhi. However, the ego, or habit of identifying with one's thoughts, including one's name, relationships, personal history, and ambitions, remains until one has completely surrendered all of one's consciousness down to the last subconscious fear or desire, and down to the cellular level of one's physical being. That requires a tremendous amount of sadhana, and until the ego is completely eradicated from one's being it will continue to create mischief in all five bodies. As long as the ego is still present at some level of one's being, one cannot experience the goal of "Tamil Kriya Yoga Siddhantham", which is "complete surrender" to the Divine. The hallmark of this complete surrender is "soruba samadhi" wherein the cells of the physical body become, so to speak, "enlightened", or consciously directed by the Supreme Self. Divine Grace descends into all five levels of one's being. When the physical body becomes ill or dies, even in the case of great saints, it is an indication that at least their physical vehicle has not shared in their surrender and enlightenment. Physical immortality is besides the point. Once one is completely surrendered, one follows the direction of the Divine. But the possibility of complete surrender, the goal of Kriya Yoga, depends upon a realization of the Divine not just spiritually, as in the case of saints, or not even just intellectually, mentally and vitally as in the case of sages and siddhas respectively. Only the greatest of the siddhas, the so called "Mah Siddhas", as exemplified by the 18 Siddhas, and those of "Theosophy" can be deemed to have completely surrendered themselves to the Divine.
The Kriya Yoga Sadhak should gradually increase the time devoted to these practices and integrate them into the awareness cultivated during them into one's daily activities. Meditation is not a goal in itself, but a means to an end. It should manifest by our becoming increasingly aware in the "little things of life". All of our experience thus becomes a field for our practice of "sadhana" or remembrance of Self awareness.
Copyright by Marshall Govindan September 1994. All rights reserved.
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