Raja Yoga

What Is Raja Yoga

The Impediments

Sat Ripu - The Six Enemies

Moral Practice

Yama and Niyama

The Impediments
Translator: Rachel Toren
When beginning Yoga and during its practice, numerous impediments begin arriving forcibly. During yogic practice the daily routine of the practitioner comes the first impediment in the individual’s spiritual upliftment; it proves an obstacle at the very first step of Yoga – the area of bodily yoga. For this we require extra will power in abundant quantities, so that the person may be able to face the problems coming on his way to the yogic union with the supreme one. If we swim with the current motion comes effortlessly, but if decide to swim against it, than we predictably require more energy. It is this energy, which – if it manages to rise above the current – helps the person defy the current.
During the phase of meditative trance, obstacles begin coming forcibly. In such a condition the yogi ought to jettison these obstacles gradually.’ Thus has been said in the Yoga darśana of Patanjali.
Disease, despair, doubt, negligence, sloth, hankering for carnal pleasures, false perception, dissatisfaction and disorganization – these are the nine deflections of the conscious mind under the step of meditative trance these nine impurities of the mind are mentioned. It is imperative to know how to remove these before one begins Yoga. (Samādhipāda 30)
(1)   Disease (Vyādhi)
When the mutual balance of vāta, pitta and kapha in the body gets vitiated, that is called ’disease’. It has an effect on the mind in addition to the eleven sensory and motor organs (the five sense organs and six ’action organs’ e.g. the two hands, the two feet and the anus – the letter ’working’ in the act of defecating – and the penis). Herein the mind is mentioned separately from the body because mental powers immediately go to work to remove a disease one occurs, and since the mind is the primary thing, hence any disturbance in its line of action impedes all yoga-related work. Therefore mental concentration is paramount for yoga and for this it is imperative that the body remains free from disease. This is only possible via a regularly followed daily routine, regular practice of yoga and balance diet of sātvica nature.
(2)    Despair (Styāna)
The feeling of mental incapacity that arises from imaginings of the ’adverseness’ of the time and place of practicing yoga, is called Styāna (despair). Hence, no matter what the circumstances are like (favorable or not) it is only by making them conductive to yoga practice can this mental impurity be removed.
(3) Doubt (Samśaya)
A knowledge that brings about conflicting and diverse ideas in the mind is called doubt. In this state many parallel streams of thought pervade in the mind regarding the true nature of something about the reality of yoga’s existence, about the validity of statements given by one’s spiritual guide (Guru) and the scriptures regarding the greatness of yoga, about fruits of yoga, about the reality and authenticity of the inalienable trance achieved at the height of yogic union with the supreme being etc… Such thoughts, which give rise to a dualistic mental state, are called Samśaya (doubt). It does not allow the practitioner of yoga to go forward in his yoga practice without disturbance. The only way of staying free of doubt is to treat the words of one’s spiritual guide as gospel truth and have unyielding faith in the scriptures.
(4) Negligence (Pramāda)
’Negligence’ in yoga terminology means ’not putting in the desired effort into the practice of the trance state and letting the mind wander into other thoughts.’ It is only by actively destroying pramāda and applying one’s mind to the quest for the bliss of trance can one gat rid of it.
(5) Sloth (Ālasya)
It is the Kapha (phlegm) in the body that determines the extent of tama (morbidity or primordiality) in one’s psyche. If Kapha increases so do tāmasika qualities (inchoate strivings of the mind, the dark, brooding side of the mind) and, hence, the mind feels heavy. This is what is called ’Ālasya’(sloth) in yoga. A balanced diet and regular daily routine are needed to control sloth.
(6) Hankering for carnal pleasures (Avirati)
A sensual person cannot feel inclined towards the yogic path. The intense longing that arises from living in proximity to objects of sensual pleasures and conveniently forgetting the negative consequences of these sensual pleasures, is called ’Avirati’ (’non- detachment’). It does not allow the practitioner to become introverted and if he does manage to become introverted with effort, even then his mind becomes extroverted again a short while later because of the hold of sensuality over it. To remove this ill one should try to keep one’s mind free from sensuality and to devote one’s full attention to the practice of yoga and should try to become introverted.
(7) False perception (Bhrānti darśana)
A state of mind characterized by thinking the opposite of what one’s spiritual guide and the scriptures preaon as yoga to be true, and an inclination to follow the advice of such deluded mind, jointly comprise ’Bhrānti darśana’ (false perception). For eradication of this, a firm faith in one’s spiritual guide and in the scriptures is mandatory.
(8) Dissatisfaction (Alabdhabhūmikatva)
When one fails to attain the state of Samādhi (trance) in yoga for whatever reason, or perhaps because of some failing within oneself, then dissatisfaction arises in the mind. It prevents one from persevering in yoga, and it is this discontent which is called ’Alabdhabhūmikatva.’ For this the practitioner should keep persevering in the practice of yoga.
(9) Disorganization (Anvyavasthitva)
When a person wanders from the true prescribed path of conduct in yoga once he attains the Samādhi (trance) state and when he loses sight of his actual aim of yoga, then this is called ’anvyavasthitva’ (’being disorganized’). Such a person forgets his prescribed duties in life and loses his self-control and begins utilizing the supernatural accomplishments that routinely accompany the Samādhi (trance) state not for public welfare – as is prescribed – but for selfish interests. In order to stay away from this mental ill it should be forever kept in mind that our aim in following the path of yoga is to ultimately merge ourselves with the supreme power, and not to get trapped in worldly temptations. It is Guru (spiritual guide) alone who can remove these impurities. The scriptures, too, are helpful to a limited extent but if one were to get the full grace of one’s Guru then the task becomes a child’s play for the yoga practitioner. Hence a verbatim carrying of one’s Guru’s orders alone leads to sure success, because doing so automatically results in the Guru best owing a portion of this power to the practitioner, i.e. ‘The Guru is the cornerstone of meditation. The words of the Guru are what constitute a mantra. And accomplishment ultimately rests with the Guru’s grace alone.’ Hence before any accomplishment, Guru’s grace is necessary.