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Sadhana Pada: Sutra 2.1
tapaḥ svādhyāy-eśvarapraṇidhānāni kriyā-yogaḥ
tapaḥ = practice of painful activities for purifying and training the senses
svādhyāya= the study of the Self as guided by scriptures
eśvarapraṇidhāna = surrendering the fruits of activities to God or the Supreme Being
kriyā-yogaḥ = yoga of activity
Painful purification and training of the senses, the study of the Self, and surrendering the fruits of actions to God is Kriya Yoga
Samadhi Pada defined and described the goal. Now the author explains the means of attaining the goal.
Kriya Yoga or Yoga of action or Practical Yoga consists of three elements. namely Tapa, Svadhyaya, and Isvarapranidhana.
Tapa or Tapasya is the practice of training the senses. Tapa removes the impurities of the senses. In other words, it is a cleansing of the senses.
With scriptures, we study the Self. Hence, it is the learning of scriptures to gain the knowledge of the Self. Also, it includes practical aspects like chanting of Pranava.
Isvarapranidhana is sacrificing the fruits of all activities to God.
Commentary by Maharishi Vyasa
Self-castigation (Ascetism), the study and offering the fruits of actions to God are the Yoga of action
A Non-ascetic could not succeed in Yoga. Asceticism or Tapas is the only way to succeed in yoga. Without it, one could not remove the impurities created by the sensuous objects that result in endless actions, afflictions, and desires. Scriptures declare that asceticism is the undisturbed peace of mind always aspired by the Yogis. Svadhyaya means the repetition of sacred words like Pranava and the rest. Alternatively, it is the study of liberation. Isvarapranidhana is offering the fruits of all actions to God.
Commentary by Swami Vivekananda
Mortification, study, and surrendering fruits of work to God are called Kriya Yoga
Those Samadhis with which we ended our last chapter are very difficult to attain; so we must take them up slowly.
The first step, the preliminary step, is called Kriya Yoga. Literally, this means work, working towards Yoga. The organs are the horses, the mind is the reins, the intellect is the charioteer, the soul is the rider, and this body is the chariot. The master of the household, the King, the Self of man, is sitting in this chariot. If the horses are very strong and do not obey the reins, if the charioteer, the intellect, does not know how to control the horses, then this chariot will come to grief. But if the organs, the horses, are well controlled, and if the reins, the mind, are well held in the hands of the charioteer, the intellect, the chariot, reaches the goal. What is meant, therefore, by mortification? Holding the reins firmly while guiding this body and mind: not letting the body do anything it likes, but keeping them both in proper control.
Study. What is meant by study in this case? Not study of novels, or fiction, or storybooks, but study of those books which teach the liberation of the soul. Then again this study does not mean controversial studies at all. The Yogi is supposed to have finished his period of controversy. He has had enough of all that and has become satisfied. He only studies to intensify his convictions.
Vada and Siddhanta. These are the two sorts of Scriptural knowledge, Vada (the argumentative) and Siddhanta (the decisive). When a man is entirely ignorant he takes up the first part of this, the argumentative fighting, and reasoning, pro and con.; and when he has finished that he takes up the Siddhanta, the decisive, arriving at a conclusion. Simply arriving at this conclusion will not do.
It must be intensified. Books are infinite in number, and time is short; therefore this is the secret of knowledge, to take that which is essential. Take that out, and then try to live up to it. There is an old simile in India that if you place a cup of milk before a Raja Hamsa (swan) with plenty of water in it, he will take all the milk and leave the water. In that way, we should take what is of value in knowledge, and leave the dross.
All these intellectual gymnastics are necessary at first. We must not go blindly into anything. The Yogi has passed the argumentative stage and has come to a conclusion, which is like the rocks, immovable. The only thing he now seeks to do is to intensify that conclusion.
Do not argue, he says; if one forces arguments upon you, be silent. Do not answer any argument, but go away free, because arguments only disturb the mind. The only thing is to train the intellect, so what is the use of disturbing it anymore. The intellect is but a weak instrument, and can give only knowledge limited by the senses; the Yogi wants to go beyond the senses; therefore the intellect is of no use to him. He is certain of this, and therefore is silent, and does not argue. Every argument throws his mind out of balance, creates a disturbance in the Chitta, and this disturbance is a drawback. These argumentations and searchings of the reason are only on the way. There are much higher things behind them. The whole of life is not for schoolboy fights and debating societies.
By “surrendering the fruits of work to God” is to take to ourselves neither credit nor blame, but to give both up to
the Lord, and be at peace.
Commentary by Sri Osho
KRIYA-YOGA IS A PRACTICAL, PRELIMINARY YOGA, AND IT IS COMPOSED OF AUSTERITY, SELF STUDY AND SURRENDER TO GOD.
The first word is 'austerity'. Torturing the body is not a way; torturing is violent. Whether you torture others or yourself, it is violent; and violence can never be religious.
What is the difference between torturing someone else's body and torturing your own body? What is the difference? The body is 'the other'. Even your own body is the other. Your body is a little closer and the other's body is a little further away, that's all. Because yours is closer it is more likely to become a victim of your violence; you can torture it. And for thousands of years, people have been torturing their bodies with the false notion that it is the way towards God.
Austerity does not mean torture; austerity means a simple life, an austere life. Why a simple life? Why not a very complicated life? Because the more complicated life is, again, the less sensitive you will be. A rich man is less sensitive than a poor man because his whole effort of accumulating riches has made him insensitive. You have to be insensitive if you are going to accumulate riches. You have to be completely like a murderer and not bother about what is happening to others. You go on accumulating treasures, and others are dying. You go on becoming richer and richer, and others are losing their very lives in it. A rich man has to be insensitive, otherwise, he cannot be rich. How will he exploit? -- it will be impossible.
When Patanjali says 'austerity', he means, 'Be simple, don't cultivate it.' Because cultivated simplicity is not simplicity. How can a cultivated simplicity be simple? It is very complex; you have been trying, calculating, cultivating.
Austerity will then mean: come down to your needs; desires are mad, needs are natural. Food, shelter, love; bring your whole life energy down just to the level of needs, and you will be happy. And a happy man cannot be other than religious, and an unhappy man cannot be other than irreligious. He may pray, he may go to the temple and the mosque -- that doesn't matter. How can an unhappy man pray? His prayer will have a deep complaint in it, a grudge. It will be a deep grump. Prayer is gratitude, not a complaint.
So remember, the more you are possession-oriented, the less happy you will be. The less happy you are, the farther away from the Divine, from prayer, from gratitude you will be. Be austere. Live with the necessary and forget about desires; they are fantasies in the mind, ripples in the lake. They only disturb you, they can never lead you to any contentment.
What Patanjali means by self-study is the same as what Gurdjieff meant by self-remembering, or what Buddha meant by right mindfulness, or what Jesus meant by becoming more alert, or what Krishnamurti means when he goes on saying to be aware. When you have nothing to do, nothing much to do, the simple things of the day finished, where will the energy move? What will become of your energy? Right now you are always low, low in your energy because there are so many engagements for the energy, so many involvements for the energy. You never have enough energy. And without energy, there is no possibility of being aware, because awareness is the subtlest transformation of energy. It is the cream of your energy. If you don't have enough overflowing energy, you can not be aware. At the point of low energy, low-level energy, you cannot be aware; overflowing energy is needed. An austere man has so much energy left -- what to do with this energy? All that can be done has been done; the day is over. You are sitting silently; the energy moves to the subtlest layers -- it goes higher and higher, it goes on accumulating, it becomes a pinnacle, a pillar of energy. You can study yourself now. Even the subtlest nuances of your thoughts, emotions, feelings, you can watch.
Whenever you watch, you are no longer there. Austerity leads to self-study; self-study leads to egolessness because you are not there. The more you know yourself, the less you are. Only ignorant people are. Enlightened people are not. They are like an emptiness, they are like a vast sky. If you enter a Buddha you will never find him anywhere. You will find infinite space, but nobody there. If you enter me you will not find me there -- an emptiness, a vast sky, total freedom for you. You will not stumble upon me; I am not there. When you become more and more aware inside, you are less and less. It is always in the same proportion: the more unaware you are, the more you are; the more aware you are, the less you are. When you become perfectly aware, you are not. The whole energy has become awareness; nothing is left for the ego. And then the ego is left, just as a snake moves out of old skin. Now it is a dead skin lying there; anybody can take it. Then surrender to God happens.
You cannot surrender to God because you are the barrier. People come to me and they say, 'I would like to surrender.' That's not possible. How can you surrender? You are the non-surrender. When you are not, surrender is. When you cease, surrender happens. So remember, you cannot surrender. It can not be an effort on your part -- it is impossible. You can do only one thing, what Patanjali is saying: be austere, simple. So much energy is then left which spontaneously becomes awareness, and in awareness, you are not there. Suddenly, you find that the surrender has happened. Suddenly, without doing anything on your part... you have not done anything, and the surrender has happened. Surrender to God is the state of non-ego within you. It is not an act on your part, there is no effort in it. If there is effort, there is no surrender.
Surrender is a realization. When you are aware and the flame is burning high, suddenly you realize that the darkness is not there. You are surrendered; it is a revelation, a realization. Suddenly you are amazed! You are absent and God is there. In your absence is God, in your presence is only misery. In your presence nothing is possible, in your absence the whole infinity becomes possible. These are interrelated things: austerity, self-study, and surrender to God.