Sadhaka : Will you please explain the meaning, nature and purpose of Yoga?
Gurudev : The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root 'yuj' which means 'to join'. Yoga is the science that teaches us the method of uniting the individual soul with the Supreme Soul, of merging the individual will in the Cosmic Will. To live in God, to commune with God is Yoga. Yoga is life in God, life in perfection, peace, lasting happiness and eternal Bliss. Life in God brings eternal Bliss. Yoga shows you the way, unites you with God, and makes you perfect and Immortal.
Swamiji : The meaning of the Sanskrit term: 'a state of union with the Divine; or an experience of oneness with the great Reality'. Yoga means to direct your mind towards God, to realise your oneness with the Divine Consciousness. It implies any effort that the soul may make in its endeavor to attain God. Yoga makes available to you the scientific method for approaching God. All the techniques, which eventually bestow upon the practitioner the experience of Divine Consciousness, may also be designated by the one word 'Yoga'.
If you define Yoga in the simplest term, it is the steady movement of the individual soul towards the Supreme Soul. Yoga is a steady ascent to the Divine. Yoga and Vedanta are universal in their scope. They are the property of all mankind. Yoga uses a technique by which you overcome the bondage of body through restraining your senses, mastering your mind, and controlling your thoughts and desires. Going beyond them, you reach the inner depth of your all-perfect and divine being. Yoga is a path that leads up to the state of supreme blessedness and peace. Its practices constitute the techniques for the purification and preparation of human consciousness for entering into the experience of the supreme blissful Divine Reality.
Yoga is an exact science. The science of Yoga makes a study of man himself and declares that he is a triune being:
a) Firstly, with a gross and bestial nature;
b) secondly, endowed with reason but full of impurity;
c) thirdly, with all-pure and all-perfect divine nature which lies deep within.
1) The foremost feature in the yogic pattern of life is the process of purifying the lower nature. Purity is the foundation of yogic life. One has to be rooted in goodness, purity, truth and selflessness. Half of the process of Yoga is in thus getting perfectly established in ideal moral conduct. Yoga transforms one's lower nature into the Divine nature. Yoga shows how to overcome the imperfections of the lower nature and how to gain complete mastery over the mind and senses. Yoga is elimination of the negative traits of the animal nature through purification and refinement.
2) Yoga tells you not to be deluded by these passing objects which are perishable and therefore temporary. Yoga is a process of controlling the animal nature and eliminating the negative traits of that animal nature, and purifying and refining your psychological nature, so that the mind, the thoughts and sentiments are now directed towards the Supreme Divine Reality, and ultimately awakening the sleeping Divinity within. It is giving an upward trend to your psychological nature, to your emotions, sentiments and reasoning processes.
3) Man is essentially all-perfect. Yoga is the technique of attaining Divine Perfection and Immortality. Yoga is the art and science of divesting and directing your entire human personality potential beyond your present state of sorrow, restlessness, isolation and fear into a higher state of Consciousness characterised by bliss, peace, fullness and fearlessness. Thus unfolding this awakened Divinity and trying to enter into an experience of radiant, unfolded and awakened Consciousness and to become established in this Consciousness of perennial Bliss, peace and blessedness is Yoga. Yoga is to awaken the sleeping Divinity within, to unfold it and make it radiantly manifest in your thought, word and deed, and enter into an experience of the all-perfect divine nature, and abide in Bliss and Peace.