The Psychology of Yoga

AS THE Indian mind, emerging from its narrow mediaeval entrenchments, advances westward towards inevitable conquest, it must inevitably carry with it Yoga and Vedanta for its banners wherever it goes. Brahmajnana, Yoga and Dharma are the three essentialities of Hinduism; wherever it travels and finds harbourage and resting place, these three must spread. All else may help or hinder. Shankara's philosophy may compel the homage of the intellectual, Sankhya attract the admiration of the analytical mind, Buddha capture the rationalist in search of a less material synthesis than the modern scientist's continual Annam Brahma, Pranam Brahma, but these are only grandiose intellectualities. The world at large does not live by the pure intellect, concrete itself it stands by things concrete or practical, although, immaterial in its origin, (Footnote: Tentative readings) it bases practicality upon abstractions. A goal of life, a practice of perfection and a rational, yet binding law of conduct, these are man's continual quest and in none of these demands is modern science able to satisfy humanity. In reply to all these quests and wants Science can only one cry, Society and again Society and always Society. But the nature of man knows that Society is only a means, not an end, that Society is not the whole of life. With the eye of the soul it finds Society a passing and changing outward phenomenon, not that fixed, clear and eternal inward standard and goal which we seek. Of Society as of all things Yajnavalkya's universal dictum stands; a man loves and serves Society for the sake of the Self and not for the sake of Society. That is his nature and whatever nature it may denote to his nature he must always return. India offers what Science could not provide, Brahman for the eternal goal, Yoga for the means of perfection, Dharma (swabhãvaniyatam karma) as the rational yet binding law of conduct. Therefore, because it has something by which humanity can be satisfied and on which it can found itself, is the victory of the Indian mind assured.

But in order that the victory may not be slow and stumbling in its progress and imperfect in its fulfilment, it is necessary that whatever India has to offer should be stated to the West in language that the West can understand and through a principle of knowledge which it has made its own. Europe will accept nothing which is not scientific, nothing, that is to say, which does not take up its stand on an assured, well-ordered and verifiable knowledge. Undoubtedly, for practical purposes the West is right; since only by establishing ourselves on such an assured foundation can we work with the utmost effectiveness and make the most of what we know. For shastra is the true basis of all perfect action and Shastra means the full and careful teaching of the principles, relations and processes of every branch of knowledge, action or conduct with which the mind concerns itself. The Indian Knowledge possesses such a scientific basis but in these greater matters, unexpressed or expressed only in broad principles, compact aphorisms, implied logical conceits, not minutely treated in detail and fully with a patent logical development in the way to which the occidental intellect is now accustomed and which it has become its second nature to demand. The aphoristic method has great advantages. It prevents the mind from getting encrusted in details and fossilising there; it leaves a wide room and great latitude for originality and the delicate play of individuality in the details. It allows a science to remain elastic and full of ever new potentialities for the discoverer. No doubt it has disadvantages. It leaves much room for inaccuracy, for individual error, for the violences of the ill-trained and the freaks of the inefficient. For this among other more important reasons, the Indian mind has thought it wise to give a firm and absolute authority to the Guru and to insist that the disciple shall by precept and practice make his own all that the master has to teach him and so form and train his mind before it is allowed to play freely with his subject. In Europe the manual replaces the Guru; the mind of the learner is not less rigidly bound and dominated but it is by the written rules and details, not by the more adaptable and flexible word of the Guru.

Still, the age has its own demands and it is becoming imperatively necessary that Indian knowledge should reveal in the Western way its scientific foundations.