System for Self Realisation
Guru Maharaj created this Sadhana by incorporating the original steps of Yoga, as established by Maharishi Patanjali, and placing them in a differing order. This unique system enables the seeker to progress straightforwardly and easily.
Maharishi Patanjali in "Yoga Sutras" established eight limbs in ascending order called the 'astangas' of Yoga. They are Yama (Restraints), Niyama (Observances), Asana (Posture), Pranayama (Control of "Prana" - Vital Energy; - Breathing exercises), Pratyahar (Withdrawal from senses or thoughts of external objects), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyan (Meditation) and Samadhi (Super conscious experience, absorption). Out of these eight limbs, the first five are considered bahirangas (external aids) and the last three limbs as antarangas (internal aids).
Nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-greed constitute Yama (restraints), the first step.
Internal and external purification, contentment, austerity of body, speech and mind, study of self and devotion to God constitute Niyama (Observances), the second step on the ladder of Yoga.
Yama contributes to social harmony and Niyama to personal purity. Maharishi lumps the last three elements of Niyama together - austerity of body, speech and mind, study of self, and devotion to God and calls it 'kriyayoga'.
Asana (Posture) is to be seated in a position which is firm but relaxed.
Pranayama (Control of "Prana" - Vital Energy; - Breathing exercises) is controlling the vital airs in the body through the regulation of breathing.
Pratyahar (Withdrawal from senses or thoughts of external objects) - When the mind is withdrawn from the sense-objects, the sense-organs also withdraw themselves from their respective objects and thus are said to imitate the mind. This is known as Pratyahar.
Dharana (Concentration) is holding the mind within a center of spiritual consciousness in the body, or fixing it on some divine form, either within the body or outside it.
Dhyan (Meditation) is an unbroken flow of thought toward the object of concentration.
Samadhi (Absorption) - When, in meditation, the true nature of the object shines forth, not distorted by the mind of the perceiver; this is absorption.
The last three steps - Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi - are actually three continuous steps of the same process. Maharishi Patanjali calls these three steps together as 'samyama'.
Generally, the followers of Raja Yoga go through the eight steps in the order which Maharishi Patanjali had established. They would start their Sadhana (Practice of Spiritual Discipline) with Yama and Niyama, and would get tangled in these disciplines. It is not easy to master nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-greed; internal and external purification, contentment, austerity of body, speech and mind, study of self and devotion to God.
Guru Maharaj experimented and perfected a system in which he put the three last ones - Dharana, Dhyan, and Samadhi first. Also, during the practice of Dharana, at times Pratyahar is brought into picture. The benefit of this method is that the inner strength gained through Dharana, Dhyan, and Samadhi helps in mastering the five elements of Yama and the five elements of Niyama. For spiritual progress, Yama and Niyama must be assimilated.
In this method of Sadhana, which is based on Dharana, Dhyan, and Samadhi, Guru Maharaj taught us to include Upasana and Bhakti, as well as Love and True Knowledge. In the beginning of this Sadhana, importance is placed on envisioning Guru or God in the form of light. Through continuous practice the darkness of ignorance gets removed and True Knowledge is acquired.
This is one of the most easy, convenient, and fruitful methods of Sadhana. Here, the Sadhak is merely asked to spend 15-20 minutes every morning and evening doing Sadhana, devoting the rest of the day attending to worldly duties and living a normal life. In this system, along with the efforts of the Sadhak, the power of the Guru is also injected. Using his own powers, the Guru uplifts the seeker; moves him forward, removes the obstacles from his path, cleans his inner core, and one day delivers him at the doorsteps of God.
In this method, the seeker only needs to establish a connection with the Guru, a connection that must initially be established in person, but later can be maintained by thought. The main focus is on inner Satsang.
With the help of the Guru, True Knowledge can be had quickly and with relative ease, which is the source of Peace. From time to time, Satsang programs are organized at various places where seekers can practice in larger groups.