What is the most important aim of Human Life?
Paramahansa Atmananda: The most important aim of Human Life is Self Realization. Realize your real, absolute, spirit or self. This helps in dispelling the darkness of Ignorance, which is the cause of all sufferings. Disharmony, and hatred which poison life.
How are two sessions in a day, sufficient for Self-Realization?
Paramahansa Atmananda: For Self Realization, one needs,
a) Nirantara Sadhana (constant practice)
b) Dirgha Kaala Sadhana ( long time practice)
It is possible only with Kriya Yoga. In daily morning and evening, one should practice Kriya Yoga techniques and as much as possible. Mentally offer every activity to God, Who is established in the disciple, during initiation into the first Kriya. This aspect of God is known as Ista Deva, or one’s own personal aspect of God, in any one of His Infinite aspects. This will help us in gradually rising above the Ego and get established in the Inner Self or Soul or the Spirit (Direct power of God in every being). Please keep trying. It is worth it. Rome was not built in a day.
Is not Bhakti Yog, superior to Kriya Yoga?
Paramahansa Atmananda: Bhakti Yoga is also known as the yoga of spiritual Love, Divine Love, and Selfless Love. In its higher and sublime state, it is known as Paraa or Supreme Love or Bhakti. Paraa Bhakti or Supreme Selfless Love also necessarily means oneness in spirit and mind, of the Recipient and the giver of Love. Bhakti includes selfless love, devotion, and dedication. It is not different from Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga includes Bhakti Yoga. All types of Yoga need love for their progress and success.
Kriya Yoga has 2 main divisions or methods of application
- Performing all actions and activities as a service to God (Ista Deva). It also means performing all actions and duties as an agent or Servant of God. It also means humbly thinking of oneself as the direct continuity of God’s presence and power (निमित्त मात्र –
- Practicing the Kriya yoga techniques daily, sincerely, energetically and as taught by the Guru. Bhakti Yoga is not emotionalism. It is a mental weakness which when exceeds a limit, causes a nervous breakdown, instead of giving joy and happiness. Bhakti Yoga brings knowledge, love, and power of God.
- To understand and practice Bhakti Yoga, one needs mind control, sense control, both external & internal purity. Also, the right Guru who has all these qualities and much more. Pranayam is also an integral part of all types of Yoga. It helps mind control, sense control, and behavior control. Kriya Yoga is the single discipline which simultaneously gives the benefits of Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Karma Yoga
It is interesting to realize that the practice of Kriya Yoga makes a person well qualified to practice all types of Yoga. And simultaneously bring the material and spiritual benefits of all types of Yoga. The following are some of the Bhakti Yogis of the modern era:
- Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahari Mahasaya
- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
- Saint Tulsi Das
- Saint Kabir
- Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
- Saint Meera Bai
Jesus Christ was a Bhakti Yogi of the highest order. His motto was Love and Serve as the Son of God. These are only a few means, but the world is surviving because of the Mercy and Generosity of God in granting many Selfless Masters of Love, Service, Mercy, and Knowledge. May you become one too.
Am I not practicing Hinduism, if I go to the temple regularly? What is then the need to do any Yoga practice?
Paramahansa Atmananda Ji: First, we should know what Hinduism is. Hinduism is the modern name given to the most ancient Vedic culture, which is also known as, The Sanatana Dharma (सनातन धर्म), The Arya Dharma. The term Hindu and Hinduism was coined by foreign powers, mostly Greeks and Persians. These were the people, inhabiting the Indus Valley and beyond eastward. The term, Hinduism became more usable, after Buddhism and Jainism branched off from the mainstream of ancient dominant ritualistic Vedic Culture. This happened around 600-500 B.C. Yet Buddhism and Jainism could not escape the all-encompassing fold of Yoga Vedanta. The Yoga-Vedanta system, bypass the basic mechanical and ritualistic part of the 4 Vedas. These consist of Havans, Homam, Yagnyas (highly specialized Holy Fire ceremonies), highly specialized chantings (innumerable Mantras for specific purposes). These rituals are mostly Sakama (for the fulfillment of material needs).
Yoga-Vedanta is that part of the Vedas which mainly aims at attaining knowledge, philosophy, and realizing the Truth (Self Realization). It deals with practical spirituality, Niskama Karma, i.e. work performed without any selfish motives and desires. When one visits the temple and doesn’t perform the Vedic rituals, nor the Yoga-Vedanta meditations, that person is not practicing real Hinduism. He is merely deluding himself. Such people don’t get freedom from anger, hatred, jealousy, fear, stress, restlessness, hopelessness which lead to psychosomatic diseases, sufferings, and problems.
The Yoga-Vedanta System
The Yoga -Vedanta system includes Pranayam, Meditation, Prayer and Self Discipline. It is also necessary to perform Tri-Sandhya for the devout Hindus. It includes the simplest fire ceremony(optional), Pranayam, Prayer, and Meditation. This practice should be at least twice a day and ideally 3 times a day, i.e.
- Just before the Sunrise
- Noon or Pre-Lunch
As a culture and philosophy of life, Hinduism is based on the following pillars:
- Accepting the Vedas, The Vedanta, The Brahmasutras, and the Bhagavad Gita as the highest authority of religion and culture.
- Belief and Faith in the concept of Avatar and it philosophy
- Worshipping the Formless, All-Pervading, One God, through Divine Forms, Idols, and Symbols.
- Worshipping the departed Souls of the Ancestors
One should not visit the temple, a Sanyasi or Holy Person, the Guru, or the elders of the family empty-handed. On such an occasion, one should carry fruits, flowers, and donations. Surely one can take the help of the temple priest for rituals and compensate the priest generously. But the practice of Pranayam, Prayer, and Meditation are mandatory, to call oneself a true Hindu Practicing Kriya Yoga helps in understanding religion and spirituality better, in addition to better health, peace of mind, efficiency, and problem-solving capacity. The core value of most of the major religions of the world is Yoga, in one or more of its aspects. Practicing Yoga, in its broad spectrum removes the dross of animality in human beings and helps in evolving higher to perfection. Life becomes more complete and meaningful.
Kriya Yoga = Tapah, Swadhyaya & Iswara Paridhana
May all practice Kriya Yoga and enjoy peace, joy, harmony, and love for God and His Creation and for oneself.
With Love and Best Wishes,
Paramahansa Atmananda Ji