The Raja Yoga: The Royal Yoga

Raja yoga means "royal" yoga. It is also often refered to as classical yoga. The standard work of raja yoga is Patanjali's yoga sutra, with its eight fold path. This yogic tradition is also known as Ashtanga yoga, meaning the eight limbed yoga; do not confuse this with the yoga style Ashtanga yoga.

The eight limbs of this well known traditional system are designed to lead to enlightenment and are as follows:

  • Yama: Ethical discipline comprising practices of non-harming, being truthful, not being greedy for that which is not yours, keeping lust in check other than with your partner, keeping in check attachment, pride and ego.
  • Niyam: Self restraint which comprises five practices, cleansing your consciousness, contentment, self-exploration, self-analysis and devotion to a higher principle.
  • Asana: Posture which helps your health and aids your meditation.
  • Pranayam: Breathing exercises which increase and balance your prana, chi, or life energy, improving your health and ability to concentrate.
  • Pratyahara: Sensory control: which internalises your consciousness, thus enabling you to discipline your mind through the many stages of meditation.
  • Dharana: Concentration, or focusing, which is key to meditation
  • Dhyan: Being in awareness, the main practice in higher yoga
  • Samadhi: Osho, a great mystic, stated that samadhi means you have to be without mind, fully awake; in wakefulness. "If you remain alert and you don't allow the future to deceive you in the present, the past disappears. Then, there is no memory left of it, no trace of it. Then one is just a clean slate, a sky without any clouds, a flame without smoke."

"Try to be so wakeful that you don't fall asleep again. Remain so alert that the future is not allowed to deceive you again as you had allowed it before. What has become past is nothing, but once it is your future then you get deceived by it. Now it is past; now another future is arriving. Every moment future is arriving, and future can deceive you only if you are asleep. Then again it will become past."

Patanjali defines Samadhi, stages of union, as below, in his Yoga sutra:

Samadhi is described as the end of meditation.

  • Samprajnata Samadhi or Vitarka is pure thought, positive and peaceful; subject and object remain.
  • Asamprajnata samadhi: This state of samadhi is without thought. Latent impressions or seeds remain.
  • Savitarka samadhi Knowledge, name and meaning are mixed; still illusion.
  • Nirvitarka samadhi Memory cleared, true nature seen, without meanings added. There is no past.
  • Savichara Samadhi is as above; name and meaning of subtle objects, like mantra.
  • Nirvichara Samadhi is sound or sight alone. However, objects and thus duality are still present.
    • This is a state of restful alertness, luminosity of self
    • This state is filled with truth
    • This state is direct knowledge, without senses
    • This state overshadows normal perception
  • Nirbijah samadhi is without seed or control. Latent impressions are burnt. Freedom is gained from rebirth and death or "mukti."
  • Dharmamegha samadhi You release even highest knowledge, you do not have any burdens or drama. Everything is consciousness and that alone exists, free of contraction.

Osho states that "enlightenment is a state beyond Samadhi: the Ultimate Enlightenment means the ultimate dissolution of the ego, the ultimate disappearance of the individual. The state of Enlightenment is so alert that only the witness is real and everything else is nothing but ripples on the surface of the water. Everything is passing, everything is a flux. Only one thing remains and remains, your consciousness, your awareness."

After Enlightenment, you have to disappear. The world is left behind, the body is left behind, the mind is left behind; just your consciousness, as individuality, is still there. To go beyond Enlightenment is to go beyond individuality and to become universal.

"Enlightenment is nothing but your becoming light, your inner being becoming light. Enlightenment is the experience of an explosion of light within you.

There is nobody who becomes enlightened, there is only enlightenment. There is only a tremendous sunrise within you. Upanishad 41".

Mokha or Mukti is liberation from temporal entanglements that bind one to the cycle of death and rebirth.