Raja Yoga

What Is Raja Yoga

The Impediments

Sat Ripu - The Six Enemies

Moral Practice

Yama and Niyama

Sat Ripu – The 6 Enemies
Translator: Shani Evenstain
It is said that there are 6 main forces that detain us in our spiritual path and prevent us from reaching a state of bliss and self-fulfillment.
1 – Kam – [Lust / Addiction]
Kam refers to unrestrained lust and sexual intercourse that exceed conventional moral standards. Human lust should be manifested in accordance with one’s existential necessities and capacity to give to others.
In Hindu mythology, the god Ganesh [represented by an elephant] is always depicted riding a mouse. The mouse symbolizes the wondering consciousness, and due to its tendency to rapidly reproduce, it also symbolizes sex. Our instincts, which wonder around through the eyes when we are awake, have the ability to direct our consciousness toward sex. The Sadhaka must constantly strive to control these forces, a control which demands a great deal of self-discipline.
Kam also refers to over-eating, which one can overcome only by self-control. Controlling Kam is possible only through practice. As long as the words remain on the page alone, they are meaningless; only when one starts implementing them in reality through practice, progress can be made.
2 – Krodh – [Rage / Wrath / Anger]

In the Bhagavadgita, Arjuna asks Lord Krishna what is it that forces humans to sin. The blessed god answers that it is desire, the rage that is born from desire. That is the enemy, he explains, the monster of greed and sin.
We think of a certain object, develop an attachment to it, out of which desire is born. Desire creates a rajasic [active] state and pushes one to work hard in order to obtain his object of desire.
The root of anger is ignorance and selfishness. Anger appears when we are offended, humiliated, under criticism, when others point to ours faults, or when someone stands in our way of fulfilling our desires.
Swami Sivananda writes the following on anger, "The fire (of anger) you kindle for your enemy burns yourself. Anger acts as a boomerang, because it injures the man who becomes angry. It comes back to the angry man and does harm to him."(From his book Bliss Divine, 1997, 5th edition).
3 – Lobh – [Greed]

Lust and envy are part of human nature. One should not feel superior or inferior to others. We are what we are, and we should not compare ourselves to others. One mustn’t feel that others have what he does not have, or that he must obtain what others have. The power of envy is so strong that it can "kill" us, as it always lures us to crave what others have, thus pushing us away from the truth. While walking the spiritual path, one must first develop a strong faith that all his needs will be provided for by nature.
The tenth commandments states, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife." We can easily find many examples to such greed in our lives; for example, a married man, who keeps dreaming of having other women. The Sadhaka must strive to be rid of mental greed that exists in all of us. Only when we recognize greed and immediately disable it, do we walk the true path of non-greediness. "Greed is in our nature. It is engraved in us from the moment of birth. We must always try to control and reverse this nature in every way possible" (Shibuji, 1996).
When a Yogi is freed from greed, he comes to know of his previous lifetimes. He then ponders - who was I? What is the nature of this and that? Who will I be? He reaches the knowledge of his past experiences, his present and his future. The veils are lifted, and his consciousness is purified. "Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his portion!" (Ethics of Our Fathers, 4:1).
4 – Moh – [attachment]

Most people are under the illusion that everything around them belong to them. We all say, ’this is my car, my house, my property, my children’. However, it is far from being truth; we must constantly remind ourselves that the connection between us and what surrounds us is only a temporary one. Either we separate from it first, or it will separate from us. The illusion of this dream-world is very sweet and the disillusion is quite a bitter one.
Our attachments are things we cling on to. The fear of death is one example, but we hold on to many other things. We are all aware of the thoughts that keep rising in our minds, ’I want this, I want that...’ We all know we came to this world empty handed, and that we will leave the same way, but we keep accumulating things. It is this accumulation that creates attachments that bind the soul and draw us to low levels of consciousness, thus preventing us from rising to higher ones. We desire things we know will not happen in reality, but we keep craving them. So how can we limit our desires and their recurrence? How can we be freed from the binds of attachments?
Self discipline demands that we limit our wishes and desires to our needs. We must have a true control over our cravings and desires, a control that will be manifested in the material, the mental and the spiritual aspects of our lives. We can free ourselves from these attachments when we teach ourselves to think, ’No, I don’t really need this, I don’t need to accumulate it. I do not wish to hold on to external things.’
"Never become a slave of your own desires. Never become a slave to the wishes that encourage you to accumulate unnecessary belongings. Remember that whatever you have in life, will not remain yours in death; no matter how rich or powerful you were. There are six conditions that are beyond human control – life, death, accumulation of property, loss of property, success and failure. No human can control those. Only in progressive stages can we recognize our true needs – our own needs, the needs of our relatives, of our society, of our country, and live by them. When we reach that stage, the fear of loss will have disappeared"(Shibuji, 1996).
5 – Mad – [pride]–
Pride is usually accompanied by arrogance, ignorance, a sense of superiority or inferiority and the complications they generate. As the RaMCHaL [Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto] puts it, pride is the root of allill morals.
Pride derives from the element of Fire and is also called discourtesy. It is due to pride that a man becomes angry when others do not abide his will; that is the connection between pride and anger. Together they lead to strictness, pursue of honor, pursue of authority and hatred toward others.
Indeed, pride is one of the worst traits. The greatest danger is when a proud man forgets his creator and falsely believes he himself is the source and reason for everything that happens to him.
6 – Matsurya – [Ego + Desire]
Matsurya is the ignorance that causes us to think of ourselves as separate beings that are disconnected from everything else in the universe. The experience of this separation is called Ego or Ahankar in Sanskrit. The manifestation of Ego is selfishness, when one thinks that something is meant only for him.  Selfishness strengthens the sense of Ego.
The Ego exists in us and it is impossible to diminish it. We cannot get rid of it, as in the case of Kam [lust] and Krodh [anger]. We can be freed from it only when we reach the highest stages of sacred trance [Samadhi].
Therefore, we must strive to use Ego in a positive way, including our individual spiritual evolution. According to the Yogic point of view, one must never suppress or eradicate the Ego; it will dissolve by itself when Samadhi is reached.
Dr. Sri Brahma Gopal Bhaduri, lectures in Varanasi, 2001.
2. Shivshankar Tripathi, lectures in Tel-Aviv, 1998.
3. Swami Swaroopananda, lectures on Bhakti Yoga, Tel-Aviv.
4. The RaMCHaL, "Mesilat Yesharim".