Raja-Yoga

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Overview

Swami Vivekananda, India's first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, came to represent the religions of India at the World Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago in connection with the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893. His message of the unity of humankind and harmony of religions was embraced by the public and press of the time as representing the essence of the Parliament. The Swami wished to create a bridge between the East and the West by bringing to America the gift of India's ancient...
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Raja-Yoga

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Overview

Swami Vivekananda, India's first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, came to represent the religions of India at the World Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago in connection with the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893. His message of the unity of humankind and harmony of religions was embraced by the public and press of the time as representing the essence of the Parliament. The Swami wished to create a bridge between the East and the West by bringing to America the gift of India's ancient spirituality, in exchange for the scientific and industrial outlook of the West. After four years of traveling and teaching in America and Europe, the Swami returned to India, where he is revered as a "Patriot Saint." The government of India has declared his birthday a national holiday. In 1976 on the occasion of the American Bicentennial, Swami Vivekananda was honored by the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery as one who came to America from abroad during the past 200 years and made a significant impact on its spiritual development.

Upon his return to India, Swami Vivekananda founded The Ramakrishna Order of India in the name of his teacher, Sri Ramakrishna, who is regarded as the Prophet of Harmony of Religions. The Order is the pre-eminent religious organization of modern India. More than 1000 monks of the Order serve throughout the world. While in the West the work is mainly in the form of conducting worship, teaching, writing and lecturing, in India the Order is widely known for its vast charitable activities—running hospitals and schools, rural uplift, and extensive relief work in times of emergency. The Swamis of the Order work tirelessly in the spirit of "Service of God in Man," regarding the service of all people as a veritable form of worship.

The Centers of the Order in America, often referred to by such names as Ramakrishna or Vivekananda Centers, or Vedanta Societies, were first organized by Swami Vivekananda for the propagation of the Swami's teachings. Today there are Centers in many of America's major cities, including New York, Boston, Providence, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento, and Hollywood. Because of their belief in the underlying truth of all religions, the Centers of the Ramakrishna Order are at the forefront of the Interfaith Movement. (Publisher's comments written by Swami Adiswarananda, Spiritual Leader, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York).

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What People Are Saying

S Radhakrishnan
This book brings together the main teachings of Swami Vivekananda in an easily accessible and readable form. I hope that in these days of uncertainty and confusion of mind Vivekananda's teachings may prove an enlightenment to many troubled souls.
—(S. Radhakrishnan, author, philosopher, and former Vice-president of the Indian Republic)
F. S.C. Northrop
To convey Hindu meanings in English words is exceedingly difficult. The difficulty arises from the fact that the reader inevitably reads modern western, rather than ancient Hindu, meanings into the English words. The problem of any expositor or translator, therefore, is that of so wording the English translation of the Hindu doctrines that the Western philosophical or psychological meanings of the English words will not be introduced to the reader.
Mahatma Gandhi
My homage and respect to the very revered memory of Swami Vivekananda...after having gone through [his works], the love that I had for my country became a thousandfold.
Jawaharlal Nehru
His whole life and teaching inspired my generation......he brought his great spirituality to bear upon his patriotism and thus his message was not confined to India only, but was for the whole world. I pay my homage to his memory.
Chistopher Isherwood
[Vivekananda is] one of the very greatest historical figures that India has ever produced. When one sees the full range of his mind, one is astounded.
William James
The man [Vivekananda] is simply a wonder for oratorical power....the Swami is an honor to humanity.
S. Radhakrishnan
S. Radhakrishnan, author, philosopher, and former Vice-president of the Indian Republic

This book brings together the main teachings of Swami Vivekananda in an easily accessible and readable form. I hope that in these days of uncertainty and confusion of mind Vivekananda's teachings may prove an enlightenment to many troubled souls.
F.S.C. S. C. Northrop
F.S.C. Northrop, Yale University

To convey Hindu meanings in English words is exceedingly difficult. The difficulty arises from the fact that the reader inevitably reads modern western, rather than ancient Hindu, meanings into the English words. The problem of any expositor or translator, therefore, is that of so wording the English translation of the Hindu doctrines that the Western philosophical or psychological meanings of the English words will not be introduced to the reader.
Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi

My homage and respect to the very revered memory of Swami Vivekananda . . . after having gone through [his works], the love that I had for my country became a thousandfold.
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru

His whole life and teaching inspired my generation . . . . he brought his great spirituality to bear upon his patriotism and thus his message was not confined to India only, but was for the whole world. I pay my homage to his memory.
Christopher Isherwood
Christopher Isherwood, author

[Vivekananda is] one of the very greatest historical figures that India has ever produced. When one sees the full range of his mind, one is astounded.
William James
William James

The man [Vivekananda] is simply a wonder for oratorical power . . . the Swami is an honor to humanity.
Romain Rolland
Romain Rolland on Swami Vivekananda (from the back cover).

His words are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books at thirty years' distance, without receiving a thrill through my body, like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780911206234
  • Publisher: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York
  • Publication date: 1/28/1982
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 297
  • Sales rank: 681,684
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.88 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction to Raja-Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. All our knowledge is based upon experience. What we call inferential knowledge, in which we go from the particular to the general or from the general to the particular, has experience as its basis. In what are called the exact sciences people easily find the truth, because it appeals to the specific experiences of every human being. The scientist does not ask you to believe in anything blindly; but he has got certain results, which have come from his own experiences, and when, reasoning on them, he wants us to believe in his conclusions, he appeals to some universal experience of humanity. In every exact science there is a basis which is common to all humanity, so that we can at once see the truth or the fallacy of the conclusions drawn therefrom. Now, the question is: Has religion any such basis or not? I shall have to answer the question both in the affirmative and in the negative.

Religion, as it is generally taught all over the world, is found to be based upon faith and belief, and in most cases consists only of different sets of theories; and that is why we find religions quarrelling with one another. These theories, again, are based upon belief. One man says there is a great Being sitting above the clouds and governing the whole universe, and he asks me to believe that solely on the authority of his assertion. In the same way I may have my own ideas, which I am asking others to believe; and if they ask for a reason, I cannot give them any. This is why religion and religious philosophy have a bad name nowadays. Every educated man seems to say: "Oh, these religions are only bundles of theories without any standard to judge them by, each man preaching his own pet ideas." Nevertheless there is a basis of universal belief in religion, governing all the different theories and all the varying ideas of different sects in different countries. Going to this basis, we find that they too are based upon universal experiences.

In the first place, if you analyze the various religions of the world, you will find that they are divided into two classes: those with a book and those without a book. Those with a book are stronger and have a larger number of followers. Those without books have mostly died out, and the few new ones have very small followings. Yet in all of them we find one consensus of opinion: that the truths they teach are the results of the experiences of particular persons. The Christian asks you to believe in his religion, to believe in Christ and to believe in him as the Incarnation of God, to believe in a God, in a soul, and in a better state of that soul. If I ask him for the reason, he says that he believes in them. But if you go to the fountainhead of Christianity, you will find that it is based upon experience. Christ said that he saw God, the disciples said that they felt God, and so forth. Similarly, in Buddhism, it is Buddha's experience. He experienced certain truths, saw them, came in contact with them, and preached them to the world. So with the Hindus in their books the writers, who are called rishis, or sages, declare that they have experienced certain truths, and these they preach.

Thus it is clear that all the religions of the world have been built upon that one universal and adamantine foundation of all our knowledge - direct experience. The teachers all saw God; they all saw their own souls, they saw their souls' future and their eternity; and what they saw they preached. Only there is this difference: By most of these religions, especially in modern times, a peculiar claim is made, namely, that these experiences are impossible at the present day; they were possible only to a few men, who were the founders of the religions that subsequently bore their names. At the present time these experiences have become obsolete, and therefore we now have to take these religions on faith.

This I entirely deny. If there has been one experience in this world in any particular branch of knowledge, it absolutely follows that that experience has been possible millions of times before and will be repeated eternally. Uniformity is the rigorous law of nature: what once happened can happen always.

The teachers of the science of Raja-Yoga, therefore, declare not only that religion is based upon the experiences of ancient times, but also that no man can be religious until he has had the same experiences himself. Raja-yoga is the science which teaches us how to get these experiences. It is not much use to talk about religion until one has felt it. Why is there so much disturbance, so much fighting and quarrelling, in the name of God? There has been more bloodshed in the name of God than for any other cause, because people never went to the fountainhead; they were content to give only a mental assent to the customs of their forefathers, and wanted others to do the same. What right has a man to say that he has a soul if he does not feel it, or that there is a God if he does not see Him? If there is a God we must see Him; if there is a soul we must perceive it; otherwise it is better not to believe. It is better to be an outspoken atheist than a hypocrite.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Note on Pronunciation
RAJA-YOGA
  • Author's Preface
  • Introduction
  • The First Steps
  • Prana
  • The Psychic Prana
  • The Control of the Psychic Prana
  • Pratyahara and Dharana
  • Dhyana and Samadhi
  • Raja-Yoga in Brief
  • Introduction to Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms
  • Concentration: Its Spiritual Uses
  • Concentration: Its Practice
  • The Powers
  • Independence
  • Appendix: References to Yoga
MISCELLANEOUS
  • The Powers of the Mind
  • Reincarnation
  • Discipleship
Glossary
Index
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2008

    A reviewer

    This is the best introduction to Sanskrit Philosophy 'Vedanta or Hinduism' in English that I know of. Take your time on this and skip to the Sutras if you get bored with the introductory material. To help yourself, remember that the Sutras say that reality is reality. Words and words. Theories are theories. The Sutras are 'existential' in that they tell us to be wary of theories and concentrate on accepting reality as it is.

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    Posted December 7, 2009

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