God Realisation (eight vital steps of yog)
God’s Actions and Obedience to God
God is the Supreme Being. He creates the universe and also maintains and regulates it. One creation is for 4.32 billion years. The process of creation, maintenance and destruction is an ongoing cyclic process. The process of disintegration of the universe takes its natural cause in accordance with rules of God. Since God, Soul and Matter are never created or destroyed, the resultant after the disintegration or the Universe would be that three eternal entities namely God, Soul and Matter will remain.
God has many names according to His attributes. The all encompassing name is ‘AUM’ which is comprised of three letters ‘A’, ‘U’ and ‘M’. ‘A’ represents creator, ‘U’ operator and ‘M’ annihilator or destroyer. God is formless. He exists in the form of energy. Just like the inanimate energy in the electromagnetic form is all-pervading, similarly God is all-pervading, even in the minutest thing.
According to science, time and space are two things which are eternal and pervade everything, but according to Vedic texts, both of them are temporary and the only Omnipresent Eternal element is God. Just like the omnipresent space does not have any motion, but everything in the world moves inside it, similarly all the things in the world and the world itself move inside God. He not only exists in them but also envelopes them from outside. Because He is within everything and is an Omnipotent Animate Being, He puts things ranging from a minute particle to the largest object like the sun, into motion.
Just like the soul, (which is conscious) in our bodies puts our legs, fingers, eyes, mouth and all other limbs into regular motion by working within them and we do not need any external means to raise our hands or to wink our eyes and are able to put them into action whenever we desire, similarly, the particles in the world as well as all stars and planets are put into motion by that Supreme Being according to His own will.
The scientific formulae do emphasise that there is a law in nature, but when the question of a maker of that law arises they are silent. There must be a maker of these laws which are so regular and perfect and he must possess all the knowledge. This Omniscient Law Maker is called God. Some scientists, out of their ignorance of the spiritual knowledge and arrogance, may not confirm His existence in words, but their approach and behaviour with confidence approves, beyond doubt, of the Wisdom of that Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent Supreme God.
God is formless. God cannot be realized through our senses. We cannot see God through our eyes, we cannot hear God, we cannot touch God, we cannot physically feel God.
All human beings are equipped with free will and intelligence. The inanimate things do not have any brain or their own will. They are controlled directly by one Supreme Being and that is why we do not see any irregularity with them.
God Realisation (eight vital steps of yog)
The Yogdarshan (book on yog) states that to realize God a person has to practise eight vital steps of yog in the order shown below, namely:
1. Yam: This includes five social disciplines as follows:- (i) satya - truth,
righteousness, (ii) ahinsa - non-violence, (iii) astey - non-stealing, (iv)
brahmcharya - celibacy and (v) aparigrah - non-hoarding (to accumulate all
those things and ideas which are unnecessary and harmful is hoarding and
to give them up is non-hoarding).
2. Niyam: This includes five personal disciplines as follows: (i) shauch - purity, (ii) santosh - contentment, (iii) tap - austerity (to face difficulties cheerfully without giving up), (iv) swadhyaya - study of virtuous books and (v) ishwar pranidhan - accepting the presence of God everywhere.
3. Asan (Posture): This means the sitting position in which the body and the soul are in peace. The postures which give such a condition include Padma Asan, Sukh Asan, Sidh Asan, Bhadra Asan, Swastika Asan and Dand Asan. One has to practise one of these postures, whichever one finds comfortable.
4. Pranayam (Breath control): This is the speed and sequence of inhalation and exhalation and is done to control the mind so that it can concentrate only on God.
5. Pratyahar (Reversal of the Senses): This means disengagement of the senses from their sensual pleasures and worldly objects of engagement and experience and concentrating inwardly on God.
6. Dharana (Concentration): This involves restraining the mind from wondering here and there and concentrating it on one of the following spots:- navel, heart, forehead, nose or tip of the tongue and chanting AUM and its meaning.
7. Dhyan (Meditation): In this process the practioner meditates on Omniscient and Omnipresent God. The practioner submerges oneself into the enlightenment and bliss of God with deep thought and love, like a river entering the ocean. At that moment apart from Omnipresent God nothing else is to be thought of in the mind. In this step the soul, mind and God all exist, together in concentration.
8. Samadhi (Communion): In this step the soul attains a state of deep meditation and totally experiences the bliss of God. No difference is experienced between soul, mind and God. Just as when steel is heated in a furnace becomes like fire, similarly during communion the soul only experiences bliss of God and nothing else.
Human beings are given intellect to see and discriminate and they should use this to control their senses. Soul is not part of God. God, soul and matter are three eternal separate entities. Soul and matter are subject to God’s rules and are guided by His rules. God is existent, conscious and blissful. Soul is existent and conscious. Matter is existent only. Soul is free to act but the soul must face the consequences (bad and good) of its actions. In soul’s pursuit of excellence inspiration from God is always with it. In acts of evil God withdraws His inspiration and induces elements of fear, shame and guilt. Under both circumstances the soul remains free to discriminate and act according to its will.
Whether a human believes in God’s existence or not, it does not make any difference to God. It is the human who benefits if he has faith in God and is harmed if he disbelieves Him. Just like a kind father, God is always there to guide the mortals. A person who has faith in Him and is sure of His grace, sees His grace at every step in his/her life.
God’s Actions and Obedience to God
God is the provider of spiritual and physical inspiration. Those who worship God and carry out God’s orders receive God’s grace. Disobedience of God’s orders is the cause of all pains and sufferings.
The Vedas say that there is only one God - Eko Devah - and only God has created this world and is the sole controller. Vedas clearly say that God has no sexual entity- God is neither male nor female. Just like our soul is neither masculine nor feminine, in the same way God too is genderless. Thus when God is referred to as ‘He’ in this book, this is done merely for convenience in writing.
Hinduism is supposed to be based on Vedic religion. The Vedas do not talk of various Gods. There is only one God and as such, everyone must believe in one God alone. But God has a number of qualities and God acts in a number of ways.
For example, God creates this world and once it is created, God maintains it and so on. Similarly, God is Omnipresent, Omnipotent, beginningless and endless and has a number of other qualities. These qualities and actions have been described through various names given to God. For example, as a Creator God is called Brahma, as a maintainer God is called Vishnu, as a Destroyer God is called Mahesh and as the giver of happiness and peace God is called Shiv.
Everyone should obey God. When you obey God you gain God’s love, blessings, satisfaction, mental and spiritual strength, purity of the soul, freedom from darkness of ignorance and clear and correct vision and thought. These would always save one from the drawbacks of life and give peace of mind which is so important to lead a smooth life desired by everyone. This peace cannot be achieved by worldly wealth and means. One cannot progress in this world without the support which one can have only when one obeys God without any reservation. One could compare the above by saying what do you gain when you obey your parents? The answer is one gains love and affection and progress and happiness through such obedience. However, one should not weigh the “gain” only in financial and worldly benefits. There are so many other things which are much more essential for the uplift of a person.
One may ask why some people who do not believe in God seem to live without any problem. The position is that whatever one enjoys in the present life is the result of the deeds one did in his/her previous life. People who do not face any problems now are reaping the good harvest sown in the last birth. If they do not obey God now they are sinners and will receive the fruits of their ungratefulness in the next birth. Then again, it is also wrong to say that they do not have any problems, because there are a number of problems which do not show up in the open.
According to the Vedas God has no beginning nor an end. God is never made, created or manufactured. There are two main arguments in this respect. Firstly, God is not material. God is a Supreme Power. Secondly, if we say that there is someone who made God, the next question will be “who made that maker?” In this way, there will be no end to the arguments. The argument will have to stop at some point. Therefore, the creator who created everything, but was not created by anybody and exists since eternity is called God.
God is not transformed from anything and as such the question of a human being becoming God after doing good deeds does not arise. A person possesses a soul. He/ she can elevate it to the highest status by doing good work, but he/she will remain as a soul only. For example, a son will not become a father of his father even if he is educated more and earns more than him. He is son only. God and soul are two separate entities. God never becomes a soul and a soul never becomes God. A noble soul, however, may be a godly person if he/she possesses godly qualities.
God has built this world for God’s children, i.e., souls with bodies. Even before the creation God exists pervading the whole universe. God does not move or die. God is like the energy spread everywhere in the universe. When the world is not in this form it remains within God in the form of the Prima Materia (Prakriti).
Although God has prescribed that all humans should follow the path of righteousness at all times, God has at the same time given everyone the liberty to do whatever actions they wish to do. If one follows the righteous path in one’s actions, the result will be good. However if one chooses to follow the evil path the results would be bad for that person.
Prayer to God is an essential activity in the life of humans. However, it is not true that God forgives a person’s sins if he/she prays to God. This is because:
1. God is impartial, God does not show any kind of partiality towards anyone.
2. Unlike the common person, God can never be flattered.
3. It is not God who gives punishment. It is the God’s Law which is at work and God never interferes with that Law.
4. If one rests assured that one will be forgiven for all sins by prayer alone, instead of improving oneself by avoiding sins, one will continue committing sins. Human being is aware of the consequences of committing sins, but when human being thinks that he/she will be forgiven by praying to God, he/she has the tendency to commit more sins and is reluctant to give up the enjoyment resulting from these sins.
Prayer is essential so that one does not repeat one’s sins. It is through prayer that we can acquire some of the qualities of God and become a good person. Prayer gives a person the power to endure the sufferings caused by sins committed by him/her. The person’s mind becomes strong and while on the one hand, he/she courageously faces the punishment resulting from the sins committed, on the other hand he/she consciously refrains from committing the same sins again. Prayer brings the person under the shelter of God and consequently, he/she is never allured by the evil; He/she is thus never tempted towards sins. It is not necessary that we should know the nature of the sin we are getting punishment for. It is enough to realise that we are being punished because we committed a sin, because this general realisation will keep us away from all kinds of sins. Prayer makes a human being a child of God (Arya) in the real sense.
Many people pray when they are in difficulties. Their attitude towards God resembles the one they normally have towards their friends in daily life that is approaching friends only at the time of troubles. God does not defy His own law. The common human defies his own laws for his selfishness. God does not forgive any body just because he prays to God. Therefore, one should pray to God at all times - whether they are good times or bad. While praying, one should have as recipient an alert soul so that one can experience God speak in one’s soul and can act upon God’s guidance and advice. This is the way for a successful prayer.
Vedic mantra (verse) is a like formula, similar to science which is based on various formulae consisting of the basic principles. Similarly, the Mantras consist of the principles of life and religion.
People who memorize the formulae of science and mathematics are successful not only in explaining the scientific and mathematical implications but also in discovering and inventing new things and ideas. Similarly, those who memorize these mantras and understand their meanings, achieve a successful life through the principles contained in the mantras, which guide them at critical times. The mantras are not merely the hymns meant for prayer. They are the source of religion and moral teachings given by God for success in life.
One should pray to God for spiritual prosperity and bliss, and the words of prayer should be full of self-confidence. It is needless to say that self-confidence is the result of truthfulness, faithfulness, honor, sincerity, honesty and righteous life. One must therefore make every effort to achieve these qualities so that the prayer is successful.
According to Vedic texts one should pray to God daily two times - morning and evening. This prayer is called Sandhya. Sandhya means to meditate properly and to have communion with God. This is done at the time when the day meets the night and vice versa. These twilights represent the communion of soul and God. As they fall twice a day, Sandhya should be performed twice.
In case one does not have enough time to pray twice, one must pray at least once a day. The real prayer requires that we should never disregard God’s existence and all our deeds, actions and behaviour should confirm our faith in God. We should always feel God in our mind and do not forget God even while engaged in worldly affairs. This is what is meant by prayer.
The Vedas do not sanction the use of idols for worship because God does not have any shape or size hence cannot be reduced to an idol. The formless God can be achieved only by the formless soul through the formless way, i.e. meditation. It is essential for a person to gradually become an introvert to succeed in meditation.
The only way to get the full benefit from prayer is to approach God with all sincerity and elevate the soul so that it is in tune with God.
Adapted from ‘Dharmic Shiksha (Vedic Religious Knowledge) – Form Five’, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, 2001.
Copyright: Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji