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Book Title: Raja-Yoga|
Date of issue: December 1st 1982
ISBN 13: 9780911206234
The author of the book: Swami Vivekananda
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 915 KB
Edition: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center
Read full description of the books Raja-Yoga:Clinging to books only degenerates the human mind.
Swami Vivekananda was, among other things, one of the great grandfathers of hippiedom. I say this because he was a key figure in the introduction of Hinduism into the West.
Vivekananda arrived at an opportune moment. Nietzsche had just proclaimed the death of God, and the newly widowed people of the West were looking for something new. There was a lot of spiritual flirtation. Franz Friedrich Anton Mesmer claimed to have discovered an invisible force emitted by animals that could be manipulated using magnets. Hypnotism, too, was on the rise. Arthur Conan Doyle, when he wasn’t busy writing Sherlock Holmes stories, spent his time going to séances, investigating telepathy, hanging out with mediums and magicians. Clearly, people were feeling a little aimless.
(It is worth noting that Freud was involved in hypnotism in his early days. Eventually, Freud’s theories swept away these earlier trends, becoming the new secular religion for trendy urbanites. Freud, too, can claim to be a great grandfather of hippiedom, for helping to inaugurate the sexual revolution.)
Vivekananda thus arrived on the scene, giving an address in the Parliament of the World’s Religions, in Chicago, in 1893. His message fit the Zeitgeist well. He preached a universalist doctrine, proposing a religion compatible with many different creeds, not based on any faith but on direct experience. Such a religion, Vivekananda argued, required no faith since it had no dogmas, and was perfectly consistent with a rationalist worldview.
It was an event in both the West and in his homeland. Sometimes called Neo-Vedanta, Vivekananda’s new interpretation of Hinduism—stripped down of dogma, and catered to fit Western trends like transcendentalism—exerted a lasting effect on how his religion was understood abroad and in India. It was a winning formula; and the perseverance of transcendental meditation and yoga in our culture is a testament to his lasting influence.
This book, Raja Yoga, is Vivekananda’s most popular. It originated as a series of lectures; and it includes, as the final chapter, his translation of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The general idea is this. There is a higher, spiritual plane of reality which the trained yogi can access and experience. This is done through several steps. The yogi must, first of all, lead a pure life; he must eat simple foods, keep his body clean, refrain from all forms of violence. Then the yogi must learn to control his breathing, and this way to master his attention. Eventually, through intense concentration, the yogi can attain to a superconscious level.
The benefits of attaining this level are sometimes pictured as psychological—tranquility, joy, and wisdom—and sometimes as magical. Vivekananda is open-minded about the possibilities of levitation, telepathy, and telling the future. The spiritual plane is, after all, the more fundamental reality; and the yogi who can access it might be able to control the visible world in ways that break the normal laws. But as far as I know, Vivekananda himself never levitated.
Although interesting from a historical perspective, I must say that I often found this book off-putting. Perhaps just to appeal to his audience, Vivekananda couched his explanation of Raja Yoga in the language of rationalism. But the intellectual substance of his arguments was often tissue-thin; and I found his insistence that his form of worship was “scientific” to be grating. What’s more, although he professes to be a universalist, in practice he treats all non-Hindu spiritual practices as failed versions of yoga. In one memorable section, he says that the prophet Mohammed “stumbled upon” the secrets of yoga, attaining the spiritual plane without the proper method; and I’m sure Muslims don’t appreciate having their prophet called an amateur yogi.
In any case, it’s worth reading this little book, if only for Vivekananda’s historical importance. Not only was he a pioneer in bringing Hinduism to the West; he was also an early Indian nationalist. Nowadays his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day in India. He must have been a very charismatic man to have accomplished so much before his untimely death at the age of thirty-nine.
Read information about the author"Arise Awake and Stop not til the goal is reached"
Vivekananda left a body of philosophical works (see Vivekananda's complete works). His books (compiled from lectures given around the world) on the four Yogas (Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga) are very influential and still seen as fundamental texts for anyone interested in the Hindu practice of Yoga. His letters are of great literary and spiritual value. He was also considered a very good singer and a poet.By the time of his death, He had composed many songs including his favorite Kali the Mother. He used humor for his teachings and was also an excellent cook. His language is very free flowing. His own Bengali writings stand testimony to the fact that he believed that words - spoken or written - should be for making things easier to understand rather than show off the speaker or writer's knowledge.
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