Science of the Absolute Chapter 9 - Prologue







YOGA, the title of this chapter, is a word belonging to its own background of Indian spirituality. It refers to the establishment of a reciprocal relationship between two aspects of the personality wherein overt activity is suppressed or repressed and a meditative bipolar relation is established. This bipolar relation is between the psychic and somatic aspects entering into a harmonious or homogeneous interplay, yielding a high spiritual value of Self-absorption or bliss. This is not unlike the osmotic exchange of essences where body and mind, as well as matter and spirit, interact on some kind of absolutist common neutral ground. The presuppositions of Yoga are therefore bound to be very subtle and to this extent also vague and elusive. The whole subject is axiological in import, where existent and active features of spiritual life treated of in earlier chapters are more or less left behind by the time we attain to the methodological and epistemological order or gradation of this chapter.


Yoga refers to a relational factor rather than to any definite spiritual practice as the term might at first suggest when understood in the popular sense used in India and elsewhere. In Western scientific thought psycho-physics laid the experimental foundation of the relationship between matter and mind. Even before this foundation was established the occasionalism of Descartes also presupposed a kind of psycho-physical interaction, but this was only philosophically understandable and even required an element of divine intervention to make it operative. (1)


In the famous law of Weber and Fechner, involving sense stimuli and the responses to them, we find, strangely, not a simple arithmetical relation between the two factors, but one which is both logical and arithmetical at the same time. This relation implied in the Weber-Fechner law is understandable only in terms of logarithms. A subtle vertico-horizontal correlation is evidently here involved.


Quantitative and qualitative aspects between matter and mind reveal the same structure where twin factors compensate each other and have a complementary or reciprocal relationship between them. When they attain full equality and mutual transparency of status, as in pure mathematics, they become cancelable against each other. The result is an absolute value factor corresponding to nirvana (absorption) found in the final chapter.


Before such a full absorption can be considered we must first of all consider a form of meditation capable of effecting a reciprocal interaction or union between the two aspects of the personality. These aspects are manas (mind) and cidatma (the reasoning Self), as used by Narayana Guru in this chapter. Quantitative aspects have a horizontal reference and correspond to the somatic side of the persona, while the reasoning Self has a vertical qualitative reference corresponding to the psychic aspect of the same absolute persona. The complementarity of contemplative life found in the previous chapter implied the same two Selfs. Here the two counterparts come together more intimately than before and it is preferable to refer to this relationship as a natural reciprocity rather than a mere complementarity.


Quantitative and qualitative factors coexist in one and the same object as, for example, in a red hot iron ball where heat inheres in the inert matter. This is also true of the flame of a lamp, the song of a bird, the perfume of a flower, and the sound of a bell, where qualitative and quantitative factors coexist without conflict or contradiction. The qualitative factor can even be called the soul of the quantitative factor. The taste of water has been referred to in the Bhagavad Gita (VII. 8) as belonging to the context of the Absolute when understood structurally as a vertico-horizontal correlation of quantitative and qualitative aspects. Time as pure duration is a qualitative factor when compared to space, although both may belong unitively and schematically to the same symbolic structural context. At the core of the notion of the Absolute there is always a vertical parameter relating all worlds or ensembles into a systematic series of sets for purposes of serving the contemplative end of human happiness.


Whether we think of a somatic Self or a psychic Self, a reciprocal interaction between them is always easy to imagine. The meditation or Yoga of this chapter is to be understood on the basis of such a possibility which can be actively or consciously cultivated by any aspirant to final liberation. The Yoga of this chapter is therefore to be understood essentially as a correlation of the psychic and somatic aspects of the personality, and not merely as a correlation of brute aspects of practice as such. The main features stressed here have already been covered more elaborately elsewhere and we need not refer to them again.



The word Yoga means union. In the present context, this must necessarily imply the union of two counterparts. One of them must refer to the mind or spirit and the other to the body or matter. If there is any real union to be established between any such a pair of counterparts they must be referred to in the various contexts of possible psycho-physical interaction or parallelism. Furthermore we have to think of the two counterparts as having an epistemological equality of status, so that participation between them may even be thinkable.


The insertion of mind into matter or matter into mind is also an articulation of one with reference to the other. There can also be a full participation between them whether on the basis of parallelism or interaction through Cartesian occasionalism.

This must necessarily presuppose a complementarity, reciprocity or an equality or parity between the Self and the non-Self aspects of the two ambivalent counterparts involved. This would be true in the context of whatever school of psycho-physics, psycho-somatics or psychoanalysis these counterparts might belong to. In other words, the union between them has to take place on some neutral ground where matter and mind belong together with a homogeneity whether of a material or a mental order. Consubstantialism is a doctrine which stresses the same necessity.


As we cannot weld two pieces of iron without a common neutral principle, the relation between mind and matter becomes altogether unthinkable unless it too has a common neutral basis. Pragmatic philosophers like William James recognize in their speculations the need for such a neutral ground, and even logical positivists like Russell resort to a notion of "neutral monism" for explaining the relation between body and mind. What we have to add here is that this neutral ground cannot be anything other than the normative Absolute which acts as a reference in every one of the chapters of the present Science of the Absolute. Such a norm is independent of the central stimulus-notion around which each chapter happens to be built.


Merely thinking of the union of counterparts in this normalized, central, neutral and fully absolutist sense does not help us to develop the subject of the dynamism or modus operandi of this yogic union. We have therefore to think of yoga here as a principle of correlation between counterparts having their fourfold structural symmetries and peculiarities. One and the same certitude results from the structural self-consistency running through all the chapters, linking all of them through a common parameter having both a positive and negative status at once. The literature on Yoga in India presents as many varieties of schools as is the case in the Western context with disciplines such as psychoanalysis, psycho-physics, psycho-somatics, etc. Some of these schools, whether in India or the West, tend to stress the physical aspects of Yoga at the expense of the mental. They also tend to treat the two counterparts dualistically and at other times bring them together more intimately, so as to make a complementarity, reciprocity or an equality between them possible in various degrees. Perhaps in modern psychosomatic medicine the intimate relation between body and mind is beginning to be recognized in a more scientific manner than hitherto. The protoplasmic material making up the living body and also its mental and psychic counterpart, are beginning to be treated as belonging together to a total situation where pathological states affecting the mind or body could be studied together as abnormal or with a normal reference. Likewise, there are many different schools of Yoga, some more unitively conceived than others. The duality between prakriti (Nature) and purusha (Spirit) is fully recognized in the original Patanjali Yoga Sutras, whose aphorisms have formed the classical basis of discussion. It is the Vyasa bhashya (commentary) and the gloss by Bhojaraja that have later made amends for this disparity in the light of a purer Vedanta. If we consider other well known works on Yoga such as the "Kheranda Samhita" and the "Hatha Yoga Pradipika", we find that the duality referred to above is left still less revalued in unitive terms.


In the second named work the term hatha yoga suggests an accentuation of wilful practices of bodily disciplines. This by itself makes for a kind of Yoga vitiated by the primacy it gives to the body at the expense of the mind. As a result of the same one-sidedness of accent, the ends and means of Yoga tend to be separated, while in proper Yoga they have always to be kept together without any heterogeneity or epistemological disparity between counterparts.


It is with a view to correcting these asymmetrical assumptions of earlier yoga schools that it was found necessary to restate and revalue the position of Patanjali Yoga. This was done by an unknown author called Vyasa, whose commentary is known as the "Vyasa Bhashya". Studied together they give a restated version of Yoga more compatible with the spirit of Vedanta philosophy. The one-sided structuralism of Patanjali Yoga is amended and balanced by Vyasa with a subtler and more penetrating analysis of the implications suggested in the original aphorisms. A careful scrutiny of Vyasa´s restatements and elaborations reveals the fact that he is guided by a more complete and normalized structural reference. He divides certain categories into sub-categories or classes often respecting the antinomies or ambivalences implied in each case. To examine such items of revaluation would involve a minute scrutiny of the texts and of the special terms employed by each of the authors. Although Vyasa has not openly contradicted him, his commentary often reveals a point of view which is radically different from Patanjali´s in its epistemology. To bring them to light would require a separate work of its own. Space does not permit us to enter into such a detailed scrutiny. Suffice it to say that the quaternion structural principle has been more scrupulously kept in mind by Vyasa than by Patanjali.


There is a further commentary on the "Yoga Sutras" by Bhoja Raja. This commentary follows the same broad lines of revaluation suggested by Vyasa, as a scrutiny of Bhoja Raja's contribution would most probably reveal. This is, however, a task that we have not set ourselves and can only suggest it as a fruitful line of future study. What we have to underline here is merely that the two counterparts brought into the union called Yoga, as the correlating principle of this chapter, have necessarily to belong together to the same context as interchangeable counterparts. This could be possible only in the context of an absolute notion of the Self acting as a normative reference, from whichever of the fourfold structural positions we might consider its implications or correlations, as representing the Self or the non-Self-taken as vertical or horizontal counterparts. The four possibilities have, at least for purposes of communication or discussion, to be treated as belonging together to the same epistemological or structural context. Whether schematically or symbolically conceived, they have to belong homogeneously to the same absolute notion or ground.



Yoga is something to be known theoretically and to be practiced technically as an act. It is the Self of the aspirant to absolute wisdom that is primarily involved as a central absolutist factor linking yogic theory and practice. The Self has its own double aspect, one being the knower and the other being what is to be known. The total situation belonging to the meditation called Yoga consists of three aspects, which are: union, restraint and peace or happiness. Restraint is the means for peace through union of the Self with the non-Self. When thinking of Yoga as belonging to the Science of the Absolute, as is intended in this chapter, we should take care not to separate ends from means, nor the final result as a thing to be known as separate from the instrumental aspects of the same knowledge. The knower and the known have to belong together as intimately as possible in order to reveal the central notion of meditative joy which is of the very essence of the content of Yoga when thought of as a correlative principle. Treatises on Yoga, like the "Yoga Sutras" of Patanjali, enumerate the component categories that have to come into interplay to result in the central happiness referred to by Yoga. These categories have to belong together as a structurally understood global whole if yoga is not to be lost in. the theoretical ramifications of possible categories and sub-categories. The primary set of categories of Patanjali are further elaborated into sub-categories by Vyasa. The delicate nuances of distinction between these enumerated items might elude the understanding of even penetrating critics of Yoga. That is why we have throughout this work, tried in our discussions to rely on the structural, protolinguistic and conceptual or symbolic implications of this subject, brought together unitively. Difficulties of such subjects as yogic mediation or final absorption increase as we approach the final stages of the subject of the Science of the Absolute. It is here, more than anywhere else, that the structural approach for the analytic clarifications of' categories and sub-categories belonging to the subject, becomes most helpful for purposes of easy communicability.


Of the three component aspects of Yoga treated by the meditating contemplative as a science as well as an act, we have to indicate here that restraint consists of verticalizing those tendencies which might lose themselves horizontally in activities of vain pleasure. Verticalization in this manner implies a negation of the negative pole within the same axis, which is the seat of all inertia and heaviness of spirit.


This negative pole has always to be kept purified by a constant process of double negation wherein restraint exercises its power in order to sublimate the negative in terms of positive tendencies. Restraint therefore has these two implications only, but does not apply to the establishment of the vertical positive adjustment of the tendencies unless such tendencies become too exaggerated and tend to split the personality. When this happens the condition necessary for the ultimate union between the Self and the non-Self is violated. This is equally important to remember in connection with Yoga, whether as a science or a technique. It is the union of the Self and the non-Self that brings happiness. Such a union can take place between counterparts placed structurally at points in the vertical axis which are low down in the scale of values. When the union is between such points of the lower levels of the vertical scale of values the resulting happiness of the yogi is distinguished in textbooks as samprajnata samadhi (absolute peace or happiness, falling within the range of' conscious experience).


When the counterparts of the Self and the non-Self are conceived as being united at a positive level and treated as belonging to a pure region beyond the reach of vitality and the mind, then Yoga takes place between the points on the vertical axis most removed from each other with the maximum disparity between counterparts. This results in asamprajnata samadhi. (Cf). Here the familiar example, found in textbooks of Yoga (Cf. "Patanjali Sutra", Adyar, 1961, p.42.) is that of a burnt seed that cannot sprout anymore as the existent Self and its life tendencies are fully absorbed and abolished. This burnt-seed Self located at the bottom of the vertical parameter has its positive counterpart on the plus side where concepts become mathematically pure and thin. The happiness produced by the union of such extreme counterparts is not a conscious form of bliss or happiness, but rather happiness of a more truly absolutist order. This is called asamprajnata samadhi (absolute peace or happiness not expressing itself in the form of conscious experience). Any number of intermediate grades of samadhis can be imagined between these two varieties of happiness. In fact both the "Yoga Upanishads" and the "Yoga Sutras", taken together with their commentaries, offer an abundance of ramified divisions and sub-divisions where one might even find oneself in the predicament of not seeing the forest because of the trees. Yoga has often become a branch of sterile speculation because the items are not easily referable to their corresponding experienced counterparts.


On the side of Yoga practice we have also detailed indications found in the texts referred to above. There are also variations between text and text. In the performance of pranayama (control of the breath) different indications are found. Some stress the necessity for respecting all the rigidly laid down details of injunctions referring to give or more pranas or vital tendencies, while others treat this matter in a more summary fashion; sometimes referring only to the sacrifice of prana (the upward vital tendency) into apana (the downward vital tendency), thus trying to equalize them. This is the case in the Bhagavad Gita (IV-29) and also in the "Brahma Sutra Commentary" of Sankara, who favours the same simplified attitude.


There is also reference to the restraint of the vayus or subtle and specific functional or vital tendencies, such as those regulating sneezing or vomiting. These are found in some texts on Yoga but omitted by others. The breathing processes, physiologically understood, are respiratory activities of an outer order which are only indirectly related to the more deeply seated pranas or vayus, Thus ordinary breathing exercises are not the same as pranayama which lie at deeper functional levels in the third or fourth dimensions.


Before going into further details in respect of such matters, let us first try to make the three aspects already alluded by us clearer.
They are:

  1. Restraint, which is a form of verticalization
  2. Union, which is a form of reciprocal relationship and osmotic exchange of essences between the Self and the non-Self;
  3. The resulting happiness, which is a value referring directly to the content of Yoga and which in itself consciously produces joy, happiness, bliss, beatitudes or other experiences.




Yoga is spoken of as something to be attained by long years of practice under the strict personal guidance of one who fully knows its theory and practice. It is therefore full of instructions about regimens to follow and attitudes to cultivate. The instincts that lie deep-rooted in the human personality are called vasanas, and are known both in Yoga and Vedanta, where the vasanas assert their claims even on persons fully conscious of absolute truth understood in a more intellectual manner. Just by saying that the world is untrue and the Absolute alone is true will not stop at one stroke the operation of the instinctive dispositions that make the mind follow certain courses of natural interest. Truth has to act on the mind from above and the instinctive dispositions have to be gradually sublimated stage by-stage from below. Correct Yoga takes place when there is a union between these two processes within the meditative or contemplative mind.. In modern psychoanalysis we are familiar with the notion of sublimation. The Freudian term libido refers to the personality at a level where sex instincts are strong and might remain as repressed material in the region of the subconscious. Integrated units of associate factors called complexes cling together and exert their influence on the mind of the person. When these complexes are raised to higher levels from those where they lie as repressed material, sometimes causing pathological conditions of the mind, they are said to attain to degrees of purification or sublimated expression.


When this occurs they become more compatible with standards of public life and acceptable patterns of social behaviour. Sublimation is thus a kind of purging, catharsis or purification which is meant to avoid conflicts between rival patterns of conduct We have referred to this psychoanalytic way of thinking because it offers us perhaps the only point of contact that we can establish between the workings of Yoga, as known in India, and similar operations in the subconscious mind according to Adler, Freud, Jung and others. What we have to remember here is that Yoga does not confine itself to the domain of sublimation of instincts whether understood in a purely sexual context as with Freud or even in the broadened and revised form as with Jung who speaks in terms of archetypal patterns of behaviour and atavisms having a more deeply seated origin in the collective unconscious of humanity.


It is true that there is much material now available dealing with the mechanistic and dynamic tendencies working within the instinctive limits of the human mind. The interpretation of dreams and the analysis of the psyche through its natural associations have revealed some of the broad outlines of the workings of the mind when the higher intelligence does not control or correct it. The information thus gathered is valuable to us for throwing some sidelights on the subject of Yoga as it properly belongs in the context of Indian spirituality.


Some of the leading thinkers of psychoanalysis have shown a great deal of interest in Yoga. Christian mysticism by itself does not cover the whole ground that Yoga covers although we have seen references to such notions as the "Dark Night of the Soul," "the Cloud of Unknowing." and "the Mystical Marriage." Even when psychoanalytic findings are put together with their suggestions to be found in the mystical literature of the West, there is still much theory and practice that remains to be clarified for any one desiring to practise mysticism as a definite discipline which could be treated by us in the same way as a proper Yoga discipline. This lacuna now present in the life of Western spirituality makes many modern minds turn to the East.


A general interest in Yoga is seen to be prevailing among many intellectuals in the West. Yoga is being introduced into universities and colleges as an optional subject in many places. Even in India there seems to be a revival of interest in yogic disciplines, although most of it is in a spirit of mere revivalism and not on fully informed lines. The implications of Yoga, whether of the "Yoga Sutras" or Vyasa's commentary on them, or even those found in the Bhagavad Gita, "Yoga Vasishta" and "Yoga Upanishads", have not been fully worked out. These together form a body of knowledge which could be given a definitely scientific form, when scrutinized and arranged correctly in the light of their proper epistemology, methodology, and axiology.


Zen Buddhism, which is attracting much attention at present in the West, is a discipline stemming from the ancient body of knowledge belonging to the Upanishadic context. The word zen is derived from the Chinese chan which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyana. The satori that it offers is none other than the bliss of samadhi. Philosophical attitudes proper to Yoga are also found in Chinese Taoism. What we wish to say here is merely that Yoga as understood in India can be treated as a special form of a more general philosophical urge sufficient unto itself in any context. It is to be looked upon as a globally conceived discipline wherein the absolutist attitude of mind and the discipline proper to it go hand in hand without disparity, disjunctness or duality in bringing together the two counterparts of the Self and the non-Self.


Whereas the implications of Yoga are many and varied in the Upanishads, it has been possible for Narayana Guru in this chapter to present it in a revalued and revised form, clipping off the extraneous and exaggerated aspects that have clung to it for genetic and historical reasons. Vedism has a language of its own, developed through millennia, and even yogic literature when it wants to be fully philosophical or scientific cannot rid itself completely of its linguistic peculiarities.


In Narayana Guru's vision of Yoga reference to any practical aspects such as pranayama or breathing exercises have not been made. The three nadis (channels of vitality), six chakras (plexes or seats of synergisms) and the eight angas (ascending stages) are also not mentioned in this chapter.


The three bandhas referring to the higher and lower poles by which the verticalization of bodily functions could take place are not referred to either, nor is there any reference to purna (filling in by respiration), kumbhaka (retaining the air within) and recaka (throwing out the air) as they are only related to the pranas (vital tendencies) and more deep-seated functional elements such as the vayus. These elements help the circulation of energies within the two nadis which are ida (left) and pingala (right), tending to make the spiritual essences or energies rise through the pure hair-like channel of the sushumna which passes from the muladhara (the lowest plexus) at the bottom of the vertebral column) to the sahasrara (the highest plexus at the centre of the eyebrows). All these psycho-physical functional units figuring prominently in yogic literature are passed over without remark by Narayana Guru.


The reason for this must be that Narayana Guru wishes to give a simple exoteric form to Yoga so as to make it fully compatible with a Science of the Absolute, treating it on a par with all the other visions of the Absolute in the rest of the work. He does this in order to respect the unity of the treatise as a whole. Nonetheless he has also made full amends for his omissions by prominently mentioning one of the crowning disciplinary mudras (yogic attitudes) called the khecari-mudra, (an attitude enabling one to gain the freedom of pure space). This mudra or attitude is one of the treasured secrets of yogic discipline and requires to be cultivated with great caution, as Narayana Guru warns in his commentary on the text.


The bodily disciplines generally preceding yogic practices beginning with niyama (sustained control and regulation) asana (posture), pranayama (control of the breath), etc. are moreover physical, ontological or existential in their bias, and such considerations have already been left behind by Narayana Guru after the first half of this work. In the second half of the work the equation points its arrow to the metaphysical Self attainable through a study of the shastras (texts). Khecari mudra is the only yogic discipline that properly falls within the purview of the present chapter. This attitude establishes a direct bipolar link between the Self of the most ethereal status and its own extreme negative counterpart which is the Self forming the essence of the physical Self as a universal concrete entity. In the name of the of plain matter-of-fact attitude maintained by him throughout his work, Narayana Guru even omits any reference to the transcendental results of the practice of this particular mudra. He therefore applauds this attitude by merely referring to its value in abolishing nidra (the heaviness of sleep) and its more positive opposite which is fatigue due to overstraining. This mudra properly understood helps to abolish these two forms of exaggeration, one negative and the other positive. This gives a balanced attitude which is of the essence of Yoga. We shall be examining the implications of khechari mudra in the Epilogue to this chapter.



Yoga literature often refers to a power linking the lower source of energy in the muladhara with the sahasrara. The sahasrara is the highest imaginable culminating point on the vertical axis within the amplitude of yogic meditation and is supposed to exercise its force or power in its function or operation. This linking element is often figuratively referred to as a coiled serpent residing in the psycho-physical extremity of the lowest point of the vertical axis whose outward reference is the vertebral column. This serpent power is known as the kundalini-shakti mentioned in the "Yoga Upanishads". One kundalini is referred to as a goddess seated at the psycho-physical level, most often near the negative pole. The same or a similar goddess is sometimes referred to as a red-coloured form sitting at the tip of the nose, or as a more terrible white form at the positive levels. (See "Varaha Upanishad", Chapter 5).


Kundalini, as the word suggests, is a knot or a circle made by a serpent when its head and tail meet. More often it is supposed to have an eight-fold spiral form lying dormant within a triangular space at the bottom of the vertebral column. When roused it raises its hood and attains different levels, making terrible and mysterious hissing noises. The spirals that lie coiled like a spring are sometimes stretched out to lie in a more central position on the vertical axis or sometimes even in the neck region. (2) The serpent (or goddess as the case might be) is a form of ascending energy coming out of the source of all psychological forces.


It tries to attain higher and higher regions in order to finally find a hair-sized capillary hole called brahmarandhra through which all life tendencies or urges are supposed finally to pass when Yoga fully succeeds. At this positive pole is situated the sahasrara padma (the thousand-petalled lotus) whose radiant centre the snake touches for the ultimate beatitude to take place. There are many degrees of adasas or pure spaces piled one over the other until the most absolute of them all is reached by the Yogi of correct meditation.


Sir John Woodroffe's book, "The Serpent Power" goes into this subject and the esoterics connected with it. There is also V.G. Rele's "The Mysterious Kundalini". These books, however, still retain an esoteric or pseudo-scientific form, but nonetheless help to give us an idea of the notion as it prevails in the spiritual literature of India.


It is in the "Yoga Upanishads", however, that we find the clearest indications in respect of this power or tendency although, as we have already said, there is much variation between the different versions even within the Upanishadic texts. What we can gather for our purposes, in spite of the differences of figurative language, is that in Yoga it is important to link the lower source of energy with its own higher counterpart to which context the psycho-physical attitude of the khecari-mudra belongs.


The kundalini-shakti can be treated as belonging to the background of the more positive aspect of the khecari-mudra. One forms the complementary aspect of the other, Kundalini, being an ontological factor does not strictly come within the scope of this chapter.


The mind has many levels and the term vasana (incipient memory factors) refers to its lowest or most negative memory aspect. We have seen already that in the first three chapters of this work there is reference to this memory factor together with other aspects of mental life such as caitanya (vital consciousness), manas (mind) and samkalpa (willing). Vasana, caitanya, manas and samkalpa mark the various positive degrees that a mind can accommodate within its scope, ranging from the negative to the positive. In the present chapter we again find that the mind, as in Chapter 3, is directly under reference. This mind is supposed here to enter into relation with something higher than itself which is referred to as the cidatma (reasoning Self). The ontologic Self and the negative factors of the mind such as incipient memory (vasanas) have been considered in the first three chapters and now left behind.


The kundalini-shakti or serpent power in its negative aspects belongs thus to the three opening chapters. In this chapter we are only concerned, if at all, with the positive aspect of the same shakti (power). The khecari-mudra (attitude enabling one to attain the freedom of pure space) marks the limiting positive level of the same kundalini-shakti. The mind in its purest possible form enters into a perfectly reciprocal relationship on homogeneous ground with its own rational counterpart. When so united it is called the cidatma or reasoning Self, having thus a revised status proper to this chapter.


Khecari-mudra is the psycho-physical attitude glorified in texts on Yoga and is meant to establish the link between the higher and lower poles of energy. Narayana Guru's composition called "Kundalini Pattu" ("Song of the Kundalini Snake") (3) also refers to this same serpent as trying to raise itself from its lower coils by a dancing movement of joy so as to be able to attain the hole of the brahmarandhra which is supposed to lead the yogic consciousness to the highest of wisdom in respect of the Absolute. There are also other references in Narayana Guru's writings to the same power which is referred to as a knot to be cut revealing the way to liberation. Whatever the figurative imagery used, the mystery of the kundalini serpent is not difficult to understand when interpreted in the light of the structuralism developed in these pages.


In order to establish any kind of similarity between this mysterious snake and prevailing kindred notions in the West we cannot do better than to go to the same source of inspiration that has nourished modern psychoanalytical schools themselves. Terms like "Oedipus complex" employed by psychoanalysts unmistakably reveal in which direction their own inspiration in such matters lies. It is in the Orphic mysteries and Dionysian rites which gave rise to the early Greek tragedies that notions linking lower and higher psychic factors similar to the kundalini snake are to be discovered. Notions such as catharsis and nemesis have their legitimate place in the context of Greek tragedy and carry with them an atmosphere of mystery upon which the chorus and its refrains work to great advantage. A bound Prometheus caught between the worlds of Zeus and Pluto is represented as having the chorus weaving its mystery round the total situation linking the two worlds.


The serpent power belongs to the same context in the technique of Yoga practice, although here it is more psycho-physically conceived and represented through another kind of figurative imagery. The linking between the two spiritual poles is the common subject matter of both, whether it is the chorus of Greek tragedy singing mysterious songs or the goddesses and snakes of Indian Yoga. Both are meant to touch the different levels in the total psycho-physical situation in terms of Self-realization. It is the same linking factor or Yoga that is under reference whether in the East or West.


A common structural pattern is discernable as pre-existing in the mind, whether of the Greek tragedians or the rishis (sages) who were knowers of the Yoga technique. Even a structural model such as that of a colour-solid is not altogether outside the scope of this same structuralism as seen by some authorities on Yoga or by certain Upanishadic sages. When compared to the structuralism that is emerging to view at present as found in the writings of Descartes, Kant and Eddington, this strange agreement between ancient and modern thinkers is of great value to us here in our task of presenting an integrated Science of the Absolute.


The "Yoga Sutras" with Vyasa´s commentary contain direct references to such a colour solid. We shall just quote them here and examine the same in greater detail only in the Epilogue to this chapter. In the Yoga Sutras 1-41, we read:

"The transformation of the mind whose (exhibitive) operations have been destroyed, assumes like a high class crystal, the colour of that on which it rests in relation to the receiver, the receiving instrument and the receivable object." (4)


We now read Vyasa's full commentary on this Sutra:

"What is the character and what is the sphere of the operative transformation of the mind which has obtained rest? That is now being described. The transformation of the mind whose operations have been destroyed, assumes like a high class crystal the colour of that on which it rests in relation to the receiver, the receiving instrument and the receivable objects. "The mind, whose operations have been destroyed"means the mind whose (exhibitive) cognitions have been subjugated: 'like a high class crystal' is the acceptation of an example. As a high class crystal, due to its contiguity to various objects, being coloured by that respective hue, shines in the form of that proximate support; so also the mind coloured by the receivable support, being transformed into that, shines with the form of the manifestation of the receivable objects. Similarly coloured by the subtle element, it being transformed into that, gets manifested in the form of a manifestation of the subtle element.


Similarly coloured by the gross element, it being transformed into that, gets manifested in the form of the manifestation of the gross elements. Similarly coloured by the universal difference, it being transformed into that, gets manifested into the manifestation of the universal form.


Similarly it should be observed in the case of the receiving instrument, i.e., the senses; coloured by the receiving support, it being transformed into that, shines in the form of manifestation of the receiving senses. Similarly coloured by the support of the Receiver Purusha, it being transformed into that shines in the form of the manifestation of the Receiver Purusha. Similarly coloured by the support of the Free Purusha, it being transformed into that, shines in the form of the manifestation of the Free Purusha. Thus that transformation, which is the colouring of the mind similar to a high class crystal, by that support on which it rests and becomes established is that in relation to the receiving instrument and the receivable object, i.e. the Purusha, the senses and the elements - is called the operative transformation of the mind" (5)

Freely paraphrased, this means "when the afferent and efferent nervous tendencies are neutralized the resulting reality resembles a pure crystal coloured by its own basic ground, participating both ways in its subjective, objective and real conditioning"



Due to the writings of Swami Vivekananda, the main subdivisions of Yoga have in recent years been marked as four in number. They are popularly known as Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. It is seen that Narayana Guru in Verse 10 of this chapter divides Yoga only into two main categories referred to as jnana (wisdom) and karma (action). In his commentary on this verse, he says that even this distinction is not important and there is in reality only one basic vision of Yoga as a high value where the element of wisdom or understanding has to play a very prominent part. A Yoga devoid of wisdom is therefore according to him unthinkable.


Others like Sankara, as we have seen in his "Vivekachudamani" condemn outright practices like pranayama as not conducive to the attainment of the Absolute. He stands for pure wisdom-understanding as the only means for the attainment of the ends of spirituality and gives his favourite example of how cooking would be impossible without fire. Superior and contemplative texts such as the "Ashtavakra Gita", said to be held in high esteem by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the Guru of Swami Vivekananda, tend to dismiss the duality between ends and means in spirituality and say that no kind of intense or austere regime or practice is necessary.


When we come to Yoga as understood in the Bhagavad Gita we find that each chapter is called an independent Yoga and thus we have eighteen different Yogas comprised within seven hundred verses. The first chapter, called Arjuna-Vishada-Yoga includes vishada (sorrow) as capable of constituting the basis of a certain preliminary type of yoga based on spiritual agony, doubt or conflict. This is treated as the negative counterpart to which true Yoga is said to succeed. In the Bhagavad Gita there are three or four distinct definitions of Yoga. The simplest definition is found in VI.20:

"That state where the (relational) mind attains tranquility, restrained through continued cultivation of a yogic attitude, and where also the Self by the Self enjoys happiness." (6)

In another context in II. 50, Yoga is defined as "reason in action". Elsewhere, in VI.23, Yoga is defined more negatively as "disaffiliation from the context of suffering". Another way of defining Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita is implied in the statement . in XVIII.11:

"Nor indeed is it possible for an embodied one to completely relinquish action; he who relinquishes the benefit of action is verily called a relinquisher (tyagi)".


Yoga as a central value given to the vision of an absolutist contemplative is capable of being viewed from different angles or points of view. Even the most traditionally recognized definition of' Yoga, found in the second verse of the Yoga Sutras which are considered to be the basic book for the elaboration of all ideas on Yoga, states that Yoga "consists of restraint of the activities of the mind". This is only a partial definition. We see that when this is taken literally it suggests a complete inertness or inactivity. It is with a view to amend and modify such a possible initial interpretation of this definition that Vyasa's commentary indicates which of the two sets of items are to be subjected to complete restraint and which are still to be given some kind of free play.


Vertical activity is not so objectionable as horizontal activities based on sensuous interests in ordinary life. Vertical activities should not be restrained but must be allowed to rise progressively to higher and higher levels of attainment of the Absolute. In other words, restraint should not be mechanistically conceived but instead fitted in a more living and organic fashion into the alternating process taking place within the fourfold structural possibilities where the life of a yogi has necessarily to live and move. Yoga as a contemplative discipline is oriented towards the goal of a general happiness for the Self, but when the Self is oriented to wrong horizontal values it gets caught in suffering instead of progressing on the line of ultimate happiness.


The reciprocity, complementarity, compensation and cancellability of counterparts have to be kept in mind before their dynamism as a whole can be visualized correctly as intended by this way of life which always implies a high and perfect vision of the Absolute. This is always to be kept in view at every stage of the discipline, whether referring to particular items of continued practice as in pranayama (breath control), or in the contemplation of Isvara (the Lord). Brute processes as a denominator must always have a numerator consisting of a high aim of intense contemplation of the Absolute recommended. This is centred in the pranava (the mystic syllable AUM) which is the target in the middle of the eyebrows to be reached by an arrow shot from a bow imagined to be situated at a lower level of the mind. Thus there are two ambivalent disciplines, one referring to the level of instinctive dispositions which have to be progressively purified by long practice, and the other depending upon the cultivation of correct and higher contemplative attitudes referring to the highest value called the Absolute and named by the syllable AUM.


As long as the vasanas (incipient memory factors) persist in the case of any individual yogi, his efforts to purify them have to be incessantly and wilfully maintained. When, by a double negation, the yogi has risen higher, he always correctly keeps his verticalized orientation leading to the higher goal. The importance of discipline then recedes into the background. It is only when the vasanas (incipient memory factors) have been sufficiently purified that any kind of respectable Yoga may be imagined as taking place between such a purified mind and its own reasoning Self (cidatma) as its positive counterpart. Any respectable Yoga has to treat these two counterparts as having a homogeneity of epistemological status between them without which true Yoga cannot take place at all.


It is therefore in a purified epistemological ground, schematically or symbolically thought of as a generalized universal concrete, that the whole subject matter of Yoga can be imagined as a contemplative vision belonging to the Science of the Absolute. This is the position taken by Narayana Guru in his treatment of Yoga. Even when he refers to the khecari-mudra (attitude enabling one to attain the freedom of pure space) as the crowning aspect of Yoga, he takes care not to refer to it as a means to be cultivated but is satisfied with the indication that when it does happen to any yogi he gets the benefit of conquering sleep and fatigue. Even this, he cautions in his commentary, is to be practiced, if at all, under the guidance of an expert knower of Yoga. The errors and dangers of wrong Yoga are many and this caution is therefore quite important. The real purification of the mind takes place by the avoidance of those errors which have been covered in the two or three preliminary chapters of this work.

All Yoga methods of action (i.e. Karma Yoga), except those requiring the immediate guidance of a personal Guru have been covered, at least in principle, by the earlier chapters. Thus in the present chapter the ends and means of Yoga are brought together and related on a unified and epistemological ground consistent with the method followed in all the other chapters.


In the last verse of this chapter Narayana Guru makes a concession to the popular division of Yoga into jnana (wisdom) and karma (action). Although he refers to these two divisions as prevailing in the popular mind, he takes care in his commentary on the verse to say that on final analysis even this distinction is not important.
Narayana Guru's position is also consistent with Sankara's in his commentary on the "Brahma Sutras" where we find Badarayana only lukewarm in his attitude to Yoga as a whole, evidently because the philosophy underlying the discipline of Patanjali refers to the Samkhya philosophy of rationalism, giving primacy to effects rather than to causes, as Vedanta correctly does. Narayana Guru however, when he includes such aspects of its discipline as khechari-mudra, respects Yoga to the extent that it is compatible with a more unified vision. He refers to this mudra, at least in principle, and intends it to cover all other lesser disciplines of the same kind, beginning with the most basic ones such as actual control and physical attitudes that form the first steps of the usual ashtanga (eightfold path) of Patanjali Yoga. These steps form a series of synergisms in the psychosomatic system where the highest element of the series covers the lower ones. In principle therefore khecari-mudra covers all other disciplines. Thus, a unified treatment of Yoga is represented in the present chapter.




We have to visualize a neutral entity or factor as both the subject matter and object matter of these last two chapters referring to high spiritual values, when treated together. This high spiritual value implies stillness, peace, joy, bliss or final beatitude. The intimacy of the counterparts and the purity of the joy are the factors determining the differences under reference in the items or functional features referred to in these two chapters.

Operations and functions of the mind are more evident in this chapter, while in the next one the unity is presupposed as already established. There, the counterparts are better cancelled out in the unity of the central notion of the Absolute. These are some of the many distinct features to be kept in mind as held globally together and referring to an inner factor which is neither body nor mind. This inner factor we have to keep in mind in trying to grasp the precise import of all the verses of these last two chapters.
The anima, persona, libido, and the psycho-physical or psycho-somatic Self all refer to the same cidatma (reasoning Self), conditioned and coloured in various degrees by the vasanas (incipient memory factors) or by active horizontal interests, The Yoga Sutras and Vyasa's commentary, as we have just seen, have even suggested the analogy of a colour-crystal or colour-solid as representing this basis of meditation or absorption in the Absolute. This colour-solid is not a mere factual version of Reality, but one wherein spiritual value-factors enter into a form of verticalized coherent unity resulting from an osmotic interchange of values or essences between the counterparts. These counterparts tend to be cancelled out in favour of the unit factor wherein they exist and are only distinguishable as being two poles of the same crystalline structure. The more intimate the fusion, the more perfect the resulting joy or bliss. When they cancel themselves out completely on a basis of identity and perfect transparency between the Self and the non-Self, final beatitude is attained. These are some of the presuppositions of these last two chapters. Unless they are kept in mind it is difficult to appreciate the full implications of the practical or theoretical indications found in the various verses.


The most practical of such limits within the scope of the present chapter is when reference is made to a wandering mind having to be brought back from wherever it has gone so as to fall within the amplitude of life and its functioning within the Self. Here we have to remember that the interest making the mind wander must necessarily be on the horizontal plane which can have any number of successive verticalized levels. The interest may be far or near, or placed high or low. In each case such luring attractions have to be brought back to the vertical axis were purified life interests can absorb them by abolishing their plurality or rivalry.


The meditative yogi can repeat this process of constant verticalization of interests and this constitutes the practice or abhyasa, a term inseparably associated with Patanjali Yoga. In the Bhagavad Gita (VI.35) it is represented as going hand in hand with vairagya or dispassionateness. Besides this definite form of practice the more general restraint of the mind implies a wholesale attitude of verticalization of tendencies by virtue of which triputi (tribasic prejudice) is also consciously abolished by the yogi. This threefold function treats as disjunct or discrete the knowing subject, the known object and the neutral knowledge linking them horizontally. When verticalized and understood meditatively, the distinction between these three factors tends to be abolished or absorbed in terms of the same Self in transparent mutual participation. The meditation of the yogi abolishes the tribasic prejudicial character of ordinary thought by such a contemplative attitude. This can also be consciously or actively cultivated by him when fully motivated by a dose of dispassion coming as it were from the opposite pole.


The third feature of Yoga practice under reference in this chapter is found in the analogy of the bee lost in the joy of drinking honey at the core of the lotus flower and forgetting to move its wings. The verticalized mind placed at the unitive axis at the centre of varied life-interests of a lesser order is not only quietened by the progressive joy of Self-absorption in the vertical axis, where all true joy is found, but it also finds the peace that passeth all understanding. Such a peace is no other than the joy resulting from the perfect contemplation represented by the high value of the Absolute. The bee is also referred to as being carried forward along the axis of master-interests by some sort of favourable wind referred to in Verse 8 as yoga-vayu (the wind of Yoga).


These suggestive analogies have to be translated into terms with mathematically valid structural implications so that their language can be universally and publicly or scientifically understood by anyone, independent of vernacular usages or traditions that might cause a confusion of tongues.


The practice implied in Yoga need not always be overtly operational in character. It can have purer functional implications in which the activity is a philosophical or mathematical one, taking the form of pure reasoning. An example of such a purely meditative practice is referred to in Verse 3 where reference is made to nama-rupa (name and form). Form refers to the visible and name refers to the intelligible. Within these two categories the whole of the phenomenal world is comprised. The Vedantic philosopher is capable of such an epistemological generalization. When meditation enables such a generalization to become an inner experience of the yogi, he will be able to withdraw all names and forms from having any horizontalized reference in the world of multiple or rival values. He will merge or melt all such distinct monadic units into the general verticalized stream of consciousness where all multiple entities with distinct names and forms become united in the same absolute consciousness called brahman or the Absolute. This Absolute is also the Monad of all monads. When all these varieties of operations or functions are envisaged together under Yoga practice it is easily seen how the distinction between Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga vanishes altogether.


We have already pointed out another of the important revaluations of the definitions of Yoga by Narayana Guru found in the first verse of this chapter. We find him taking care to say that Yoga is not merely an upward effort to unite the mind with the higher reasoning Self, but implies equally a reciprocal possibility of the higher Self descending without effort to fuse and blend its essence with the lower Self. Unlike the Yoga of Patanjali, based on an ascending eightfold scale, Yoga here is rather a two-way traffic in keeping with the reciprocity between the Self and the non-Self in the context of the Absolute. In the Epilogue of this chapter we shall be examining such features in relation to the Upanishads.



We have already said that as far as this chapter is concerned there is no corresponding discipline found in Western thought, except perhaps some hesitant trial and error approaches to the subject covered more thoroughly by the Yoga of the East. Introspection is more normal to Eastern life, where the climate permits a yogi to meditate sitting under a fig or banyan tree. The scientist or scholar of the West naturally belongs to the context of the library and the laboratory. Introspection that thrives in Western surroundings must differ from the more simple and direct introspection carried out in the forest by the simple hermits of the East.


It is no wonder therefore that any penetrating and complete analysis of the mind is not yet fully available in the West. Some modern leaders of thought on such subjects are however looking towards the East. In this connection it will be interesting to read the following extracts which will help to appraise the position of modern Western thought in relation to Yoga. In psychology and psychoanalysis, C.G. Jung was one of the first to openly admit the importance of Eastern meditative schools, particularly Zen Buddhism, Yoga and Taoism. We read the following from "Yoga and the West", where he compares his method with Freud's, and openly speaks about the "rich symbolism" of various schools of Eastern Yoga:

"My method like Freud's, is built up on the practice of confession. Like him, I pay close attention to dreams, but when it comes to the unconscious our views part company. For Freud it is essentially an appendage of consciousness, in which all the individual's incompatibilities are heaped up. For me the unconscious is a collective psychic disposition creative in character.
This fundamental difference of viewpoint naturally produces an entirely different evaluation of the symbolism and method of interpreting it. Freud's procedure is in the main, analytical and reductive. To this I add a synthesis which emphasizes, the purposiveness of unconscious tendencies with respect to personality development. In this line of research important parallels with yoga have come to light, especially with Kundalini yoga and the symbolism of Tantric Yoga, Lamaism, and Yoga in China. These forms of Yoga with their rich symbolism afford me invaluable comparative material for interpreting the collective unconscious. However, I do not apply yoga methods in principle, because, in the West, nothing ought to be forced on the unconscious." (7)


When he was asked to write a psychological commentary on a translation by the German scholar Richard Wilhelm of "The Secret of the Golden Flower", a classic Taoist text, Jung remarked:

"When I began my life-work in the practice of psychiatry and psychology, I was completely ignorant of Chinese philosophy and it is only later that my professional experiences have shown me that in my technique I had been unconsciously led along the secret way which for centuries has been the preoccupation of the best minds of the East." (8)

Gardner Murphy, a psychoanalyst, also sees the value of Eastern thought in applying it to Western psychology and psychiatry writing about experiences that go beyond mere individuation or what he calls "selfhood", we read:

"If moreover, we are serious about understanding all we can of personality, its integration and disintegration, we must understand the meaning of depersonalization, those experiences in which individual self-awareness is abrogated and the individual melts into an awareness which is no longer anchored upon selfhood. Such experiences are described by Hinduism in terms of the ultimate unification of the individual with the atman, the super-individual cosmic entity which transcends both selfhood and materiality." (9)


Rollo May, an existentialist psychoanalyst, also sees much worth in Eastern thought. He writes the following about the similarity between Existentialist analysis and Taoism and Zen. This similarity, he writes, goes:

"…much deeper than the chance similarity of words. Both are concerned with ontology, the study of being. Both seek a relation to reality which cuts below the cleavage between subject and object. Both would insist that the Western absorption in conquering and gaining power over nature has resulted not only in the estrangement of man from nature, but also indirectly in estrangement of man from himself. The basic reason for these similarities is that Eastern thought never suffered the radical split between subject and object that has characterized Western thought, and this dichotomy is exactly what existentialism seeks to overcome." (10)


Nietzsche, while never expressing an opinion about Yoga (although he did think highly of Buddhism), seems to be outlining his own form of mental discipline which has many similarities with that of yoga, as seen from the following quotation from "Beyond Good and Evil" (Part 41):

"One must subject oneself to one's own tests that one is destined for independence and command, and do so at the right time. One must not avoid one's tests, although they constitute perhaps the most dangerous game one can play, and are in the end tests made only before ourselves and before no other judge. Not to cleave to any person, be it even the dearest - Every person is a prison and also a recess. Not to cleave to a fatherland, be it even the most suffering and necessitous - it is even less difficult to detach one's heart from a victorious fatherland. Not to cleave to a sympathy, be it even for higher men, into whose peculiar torture and helplessness chance has given us an. insight. Not to cleave to a science, though it tempt one with the most valuable discoveries, apparently specially reserved for us. Not to cleave to one's own liberation, to the voluptuous distance and remoteness of the bird, which always flies further aloft in order always to see more under it - the danger of the flier. Not to cleave to our own virtues, nor become as a whole a victim to any of our specialties, to our "hospitality" for instance, which is the danger of dangers for highly developed and wealthy souls, who deal prodigally, almost indifferently with themselves, and push the virtue of liberality so far that it becomes a vice. One must know how to conserve oneself - the best test of independence." (11)

We close with this quotation from Alexis Carrel:

"There are now, as in former times, men ready for the supreme renunciation. If the multitudes inhabiting the defenseless cities of the seacoast were menaced by shells and gases, no army aviator would hesitate to thrust himself, his plane, and his bombs against the invaders. Why should not some individuals sacrifice their lives to acquire the science indispensable to the making of man and his environment? In fact the task is extremely difficult. But minds capable of undertaking it can be discovered. The weakness of many of the scientists whom we meet in universities and laboratories is due to the mediocrity of their goal and to the narrowness of their life. Men grow when inspired by a high purpose, when contemplating vast horizons. The sacrifice of oneself is not very difficult for one burning with the passion for a great adventure. And there is no more beautiful and dangerous adventure than the renovation of modern man." (12)

The culminating stages of Yoga are reflected in the above striking extracts.



[1] The verses of Narayana Guru to which reference is made will be found on pp.1138-1153-.


[2] Monier - Williams, p.235, defines Kundalini as: "having ear- rings or decorated with ear-rings; circular, annular, spiral, winding, coiling; a snake…"


[3] Nataraja Guru, "The Word of the Guru", p.321 ff.


[4] "Patanjali Yoga Sutra with Vyasa Commentary", Baba, Poona, 1949, p.33.trans. Bengali


[5] "Patanjali Yoga Sutra", pp.33-34.


[6] Bhagavad Gita, p.297


[7] C.G.Jung, "Yoga and the West", London, 1956.


[8] R.Wilhelm, (trans.), "The Secret of the Golden Flower", London,


[9] G. Murphy, Personality, a Biosocial Approach to Origins and Structure, New York, 1947, p.21.


[10] R. May, "Existence", New York, 1958, pp,94-96.


[11] 10 F. Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil" trans, H. Zimmern  (from) "The Philosophy of Nietzsche", Modern Library ed., New York, 1954, pp.426-427.


[12] A.Carrel, "Man the Unknown", London, 1956, p.267