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Essays on Sikh Values
Essays on Sikh Values

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: Essays on Sikh Values:

Yoga and its Mystery

Yoga and its Mystery

Jog - Yoga
Important Note - Yoga has been repeatedly mentioned in Gurbani, but in the Sikh world, it is the least known. Study of the subject is ignored mostly out of prejudice for it. We can understand the related Gurbani better by knowing about it. This is a brief introduction to the subject.

Yog (Yoga) or Jog

Yog means union with God, and this science is a technique of attaining this. It was reorganized by Patanjali Rishi (an adept), more than four thousand years ago, near about the time of Sri Krishan (Krishna). He divided it into four principal categories. It should be kept in the mind that these divisions are mostly imaginary to make the subject easy to understand. Practically, they have no strict partitions and smoothly merge into one another, and the practitioner applies all the four of them at the same time, at least to some extent, to learn and practice the Yoga.

The leading types of Yoga are -

    Raj Yog - Royal Yoga, the top technique. It is mostly the Yog of Dhyan (Mind fixation). Yogis consider it the royal road (superior) for union with God.

    Gyan Yog - Yoga of Knowledge. The realization of God attained through Brahm-Gian (knowledge of God) by following the Guru's preachings, and by the grace of God. The study of books, teachings by an adept and suitable discussions help. It is realization of the True Knowledge that God is everything. This Yog is very important. Everyone must gain at least some knowledge as to what his or her aims are and what is being done.

    Karam-Yog - Yoga of action. Selfless or voluntary service. Sharing your boons with the needy, providing protection to the weak, imparting education to the illiterate, teaching crafts to the others for enabling them to stand on their own feet, selflessly building or renovating the centers of the faith e.g. Gurdwaras, academic or technical institutes, and homes for the destitute etc.

In the Sikh world, it was common to dig wells and Baulis (wells with steps), build water tanks, chhabeels (water serving stands), and Langars - free common kitchens etc. Sewa - voluntary service in Langar, prayer hall, and yard of a Gurdwara, cleaning shoes of the Sangat etc. are well-known Sewas in the Sikh world.
    Bhagti Yog - Yoga of absolute dedication and devotion to God. This is the main way of the Sikhs to love God.
Hath Yog -
hT Xog
hT Xog
It is outside the scope of the above four types of Yog. It is the obstinate, dogged or the stubborn-way, the method of insistence or steadfast persistence. It is carrying on the meditation in a very tough way by adopting a difficult posture like standing on one leg with one arm raised for a long time i.e. months and years together; sitting in the sun with fires lit all around in the summer; standing in the open water (pool) all the night, or standing in the open, continuously throwing cold water on the head and body in winter; and adopting other body torturing techniques. The Sikhs reject all these, but some novice may combine milder forms of these with the Naam-Jaap under the impression of doing the Kathaan-Tapaseaa (Tough, or hard worship).

There is no need to be stubborn in the Naam-Jaap, or doing it under some vows imposing self-created tough conditions or bindings. No doubt, almost everyone adopts it to some extent, may be in a very mild form for keeping to the Naam Jaap, and for persistence in reciting prayers (Scriptures) etc.We have to keep in the mind that the body needs to relax, and rest for good health which is essential for dedicated worship of God.RAJ-YOGIt is also called Ashtang Yog

Ashtang means eight. Raj-Yog has eight steps and so, it is also called Patanjali`s Ashtang-Yog, or Ashtang-Yog. The people think that Yog (Yoga) means Raj-Yog and it is generally understood that Yogis practice only this.

Ashtang-Yog - Eight-Step Yoga

Eight steps of Raj-Jog are -

  1. Yamm. To abstain - abstain from cruelty, lies, wrongly taking other's property including woman or man, theft, demanding gifts from others.
  2. Nayamm.Discipline. The following are paid attention to - purity of the mind and body, attaining spiritual knowledge, calmness (peace) of mind, faith, charity, surrendering to the will of God, no envy.
  3. Asan (Asnas) - Postures. It means a posture to be adopted for sitting down. A seat to sit on is also called an Asan. Very well-known Asan are -
    1. Padam-Asan (the lotus pose) - sitting cross-legged with each foot placed on the opposite thigh.
      Sidh-Asan (Adept's pose) - sitting with one heal placed on the other heal.
      There are 84 Asans in Yoga. If Yogis adopt them thinking that these help in union with God, this is a gross misconception. These may be the health promoting postures, and their spiritual gain is nothing without Naam-Jaap (recitation of the name of God). Yoga-Asans (Yogic Asanas) have become popular in the West for gaining and maintaining health, and perhaps not much for its spiritual value. It is a good idea to practice Asans for keeping fit.
  4. Pranayam. Energy-control - generally called breath-control. It is control of the subtle channels of energy. These are not any physical channels, but had been visualized by Yogis.
  5. Pratyahar. Discard - to discard the mind-distracting engagements. It is practiced with determination. The extrovert mind is (forcibly) converted into introvert.
  6. Dhaarna. Adopt - Adopting a goal or a system (Technique of Ashtang Yog) and keeping to it. Adopting good traits.
  7. Dhayan.This is concentration, fixation of the mind. In Yoga, it is to fix the mind on various subtle energy-centers, one by one, to activate them. Usually, the Yogis do it to attain supernatural powers. It also, is to fix the mind on the goal - setting the mind on union with God.
  8. Smadhi.In Yoga, it is the total absorption of the mind to attain mindlessness: void.

Kundalini and Kanwals

Yog (Yoga) designates Kundalini and Kanwals (kamals, kamlas, or chakkars, chakras), which are the subtle energy-centers. These are imaginary - a visualizations. These have no anatomical existence, and have been established by Yogis and seers through their intuitions, experiments and experiences. No doubt, these have some relationship to the body anatomy -

Mooladhar Chakkar - It is level with perennial plexus, bottom of a person.
Swadhisthan Chakkar - Opposite sacral plexus, pubic level.
Manipuri Chakkar - Opposite umbilical plexus (solar plexus), at the level of the naval - belly-button.
Anhat Chakkar - Opposite cardiac plexus, heart region.
Visudhee Chakkar - At level with laryngeal plexus, throat.
Agya Chakkar - Opposite cavernous plexus, or pineal body - area between two eyebrows.


Kundal means a loop, and Kundalini (Kundalni) means something with a loop - coiled, the looped one i.e. a snake. Kundalini, also called Sarapni (snake: coiled up snake-like. Serpentine Center) is at the bottom: perineum, in level with tip of the spinal column at its lower end. It is placed in the lowest center Mooladhar Chakkar, at the bottom of all other Chakkars (see Kanwal). It is the center of Shakti - cosmic energy.

Kundalini (Sarapni - snake) stays coiled with its head down, (three and a half coils) around Shiva like - oval, structure, in the Mooladhar Chakkar, at the base of all other Chakkars (Imaginary).

When Kundalini gets awakened by meditating on it, the spreading out fine tremors or vibrations may appear in the area at the lowest end of the spine at its back (sacral area), and spread out in the body in a centrifugal manner. The body-tremors like faint earthquake may be felt, or fine tremors may start from the toes of both the feet and rise up to the back.

On getting activated, Kundalini starts rising up as the subtle faint bluish light, and crosses each Chakkar, one after the other. When this light (Kundalini) enters Sahansar-Dall Kanwal - Dassam-Dwar, at the top of all chakkars, Shanti (complete calm), bliss, Anand (joy), and Vismaad (ecstasy) may manifest, or one may behold with closed eyes an explosion of light - probably without any sound. There is nothing to fear in this, or in any other spiritual experience.

Kundalini is Shakti (energy) i.e. Maya: mundane - the worldly factor. Sahansar-Dall Kanwal means a thousand petalled lotus and it is also called Dassam-Dwar - Tenth Door or Tenth Gate. Dassam-Dwar is the seat of Shiva i.e. God. Kundalini i.e. Shakti, on entering Dassam-Dwar, meets Shiva i.e. God. It means, Maya meets God, and it gets lost into Him. Now, only God remains and Maya is no more - Maya is totally lost. This is the egoless state of mind, and the fellow rises above every worldly trait (lust, anger, greed, attachment, ego) i.e. gets liberated - emancipated.Kanwal (Chakkar) Energy CentersTo attain supernatural powers and for union with God, Yogis fix their minds on Chakkars (Chakras) or kanwals (kamal, lotus) - centers of subtle energy. Kanwal means a lotus. Yogis meditate on them and activate them one by one, from below upwards. On activation, down-facing kanwal becomes erect - facing up, and it means that Yogi has attained its Sidhi (control on this energy center - has attained its miraculous powers). Each energy-center has its own specific hidden powers. From the lower end of the spinal column to the forehead (slightly above the Mid Brow Point), are 6 kanwals - energy-centers. Starting from the lower end and going upward along the spinal column are -

  1. Mooladhar Chakkar.Root or basic chakkars - at the perennial region. This is the seat of Kundalini.
  2. Swadhisthan Chakkar. At the level of the region just above the genitals (Pubis).
  3. Manipuri Chakkar. At the naval (Belly button) region.
  4. Anhat Chakkar. At the heart region. At the central line of chest, level with heart.
  5. Visudhi Chakkar. At the throat (Larynx) region.
  6. Agya Chakkar.At Trikuti (Almost the Mid-Brow Point, a little above it). Slightly above the area between two eyebrows.
  7. Sahansar-Dall Kanwal Above the sixth: Agya-Chakkar, is the Sahansar-Dall Kanwal.
Sahansar-Dall Kanwal or Sahansar Dall Chakkar is the same thing. This lotus (Kanwal, Chakkar) is called Sahansar-Dall Chakkar, because it has 1,000 petals (Sahansar - 1,000, Dall - petals, Chakkar - center).
Sahansar-Dall Kanwal is located under top of the head (soft area in the crown of a child). The people keep their Bodi (tuft) here. It is also called Dassam-Dawar: the Tenth Gate, and this is hidden (no opening). It is considered to be the seat of God. This is not a physical part of the human body. Other nine are visible gates and these are the openings in the body -
Eyes 2, Ears 2, Nose - nostrils 2, Mouth 1, Anus 1, Urinary opening including sex organs 1.
From Mooladhar Chakkar to Agya Chakkar, these are connected by cosmic-energy channels - ` Irra' is on the left, `Sushmana' in the middle, and `Pingla' on the right. At the level with throat, Irra crosses to the right, Pingla to the left, and at Agya Chakkar all these three unite as a loop with Sushmana in the middle. Union of three energy channels gives this point the name of `Trikuti' and it is located slightly higher to the Mid-Brow Point. Trikuti means the point of union of the three.Through concentration - by meditating on these energy-centers (Chakkars, Kanwals), and recitation of their specific Mantras, Yogis activate them. They awaken (activate) Kundalini, and direct it up through Sushmana, pass it through higher Kanwals one by one by meditating on them (Kanwals) in turn, and then unite it with (lift and move Kundalini up to) Sahansar-Dall Kanwal (Dassam Dawar). They call it the union of Shakti (Kundalini: Maya factor - the worldly aspect) with Shiva (God factor). The whole of this explanation is meant to show that the Yogic way to achieve union with God is quite hard - difficult.

The Sikh Way

Giving up vices, adopting virtues, and concentration (fixing the mind), are good things in Yoga, but the Sikhs don't attach any importance to Yogic-Asans, Kundalini, Kanwals, and Pranayam. As well, they do not believe in getting blank in Smadhi. They consider all such things absolutely unnecessary, and do not follow or practice them. They stay directly linked to God by fixing the mind on Him through His name (Naam-Jaap - recitation of the Word `Waheguru'). They make best use of all the four types of Yogas (Raj, Gian, Karam, Bhagti), and as well combine desirable aspects from all other sources, even a little bit of Hath Yog as in resisting the worldly temptations, and staying steadfast in the Naam-Jaap. This is their (and can be for all others) Naam Yog: Naam-Jaap - worship of God.

Naam Yog

Naam Yog is the term devised for Naam-Jaap. It is the Sikh way and has nothing to do with the usual Yoga. It is Sehj-Yog: balanced way, an effortless path of realizing God. This is placed on the plinth of goodness from all resources. It has its own organized totality. Its five cardinal points are -

  1. Gian Yog. Gurbani recitation as a source of acquiring True-Knowledge i.e. God is in everything, He is everywhere, and is the Doer.
  2. Bhagti Yog. Devotion to God. Unconditional love and total surrender to God.
  3. Karam Yog. Honest avocation, selfless service, sharing boons with the needy.
  4. Raj Yog. Dhean: fixing the mind on Waheguru - God.
  5. Haath Yog. Following the daily spiritual pursuits with firmness.
Taking help of breathing in Naam-Jaap, or of the Mid-Brow Point (almost Trikuti) in concentration, does not become any form of Yoga of the Yogis.The Sikhs do not exactly mean to focus on Trikuti (Agya Chakkar) by using the Mid-Brow Point, and they don't do things to activate Kundalini, Agya Chakkar (Usually spelled as "Ajna."), or other Chakkars for attaining supernatural powers. They do not practice breathing to control cosmic-energy channels. Focusing on Mid-Brow Point, and attaching Naam (Waheguru) to breathing are only to develop concentration on the Naam - name of God.The Yogis meditate in turn on Kundalini, one by one on all Kanwals from below upwards, and on Dassam-Dawar. They concentrate on the Chakkars, their specific forms, symbols, gurus, characteristics, and repeat their individual Mantras. Controlling each Chakkar systematically, one by one from below upwards, they keep Kundalini moving upwards, and it reaches Dassam-Dwar - abode of God. On this union with God, their mundane self gets lost in the Lord. This is a very long process, needs renunciation, continuous training cum supervision by an adept, and may take full life to accomplish it. Even then, the real success may not be there. Ignoring hypocrisy, how many totally perfect Yogis can be there in the world? May be hardly any! Some may have a heavy load of supernatural powers (which are denounced by the true spiritual seekers), but the most may fail to realize God. There are Kundalini, six Chakkars, and Dassam-Dwar, and awakening even a single Chakkar is not easy. It comes down to more of a theoretical way - extremely difficult to achieve especially by a householder.In Naam Yog, one will concentrate on Waheguru - God, and recite the holy Gur-Mantar i.e. the Word �Waheguru,� and also the basic formula �Mool-Mantar,� concentrating on whatever he or she may like, and whatsoever means may be used to achieve concentration. The Guru directly united the masses to God through simple, straightforward Naam-Jaap - recitation of the name of God. In this, there is no constant dependence on any guide, and no special training is needed. The union with God is without any dependence, direct, fast, and using minimum time. One attains God in this very life, and enjoys this state years after years. Naam-Jaap is the practical way for everyone. One meets God living at home and with family.

We have to realize that Jap Yog of the Sikhs demands `Liv' ilv ilv - absorption i.e. concentration, and till it gets in Sehj (effortless, a habit), we may have to adopt one or the other method to learn and reach concentration. It is right to use to your ethical advantage a good thing from anywhere, provided it fits well in the philosophy of your faith. Anyone from another faith may use his or her name of God and formulas.

Trikuti - This pointis on the forehead, between and slightly above the inner ends of the two eyebrows, and is opposite pituitary. Three energy channels - Irra, Pingla, and Sushmana, meet at this point. Yogis activate this point (Agya Chakkar) by concentrating on it (Trikuti), mainly to gain supernatural powers.

According to the Sikh faith, recitation of Gurbani, Naam-Jaap and good influence of Sangat (congregation) automatically activates Trikuti. To them, Trikuti represents three-dimensional world i.e. the three characteristics of Maya (worldly attachments) namely Rajo Gunn, Tamo Gunn (Guna), Sato Gunn i.e. grip of the mundane, (and it is not union of the three subtle energy channels as considered in Yoga). These three characteristics are -

Rajo Gunn - Egoistic characteristics of the world (Rajo).
Tamo Gunn - Vile, dark side of the world (Tamo).
Satto Gunn - Virtues, bright side, saintly aspect of the world (Satto).
The spiritual practitioners have to get liberated from all these three characteristics and rise to the Fourth Dimension called Turiaa (Turya) - seat of the Lord.

In the Naam-Jaap (recitation of the name of God. See `Name of My Lord'), the Mid-Brow Point (almost Trikuti) is a point at the forehead merely to hold attention. In the breathing exercises, breathing (Pran) is also, used for the same purpose. One can use anything to hold attention, but rather than focusing at any other point, the forehead is much superior place whereat the Lekh (destiny, luck) is said to be inscribed by the Lord.

Taking help of breathing or of the Mid-Brow Point for concentration is not any form of Yoga.

The Naam-Jaap demands concentration and till it becomes a habit, we may have to adopt one method or the other to achieve it. In itself, Yog is another way to meet God, and it is good to have some knowledge of it like that of any other thing. No doubt, the real Yog is to keep the mind fixed on the Lord -

AMjn mwih inrMjin rhIAY jog jugiq iev pweIAY ]
AMjn mwih inrMjin rhIAY jog jugiq iev pweIAY ]
An:jan maahe niran:jane rahee-aae jog jugat.-e iv paaee-aae
Way of union with the Lord is to stay absorbed in Him.
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