Raja Yoga

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Yoga literally means 'yoke' or 'linking'. Typically, as in Raja Yoga, this means linking or combining with God.i.e. 'union' from the sanskrit meaning. Raja means king - so 'Raja Yoga' is the 'king of yogas' or the 'yoga of kings' Yoga is an ancient Hindu system of religious and ascetic observance and meditation. Raja yoga is said to be the highest and oldest form of yoga - it's ultimate aim is spiritual purification and self-understanding leading to samadhi or union with the divine.

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BK Raja Yoga

The BKs version of Raja Yoga is not related to the traditional Raja Yoga, involving no breathing exercises or specific body postures but focusing on the main aspect of controlling the mind. The BK's meditate at 4 a.m. in the morning and again at set periods throughout the day. The ultimate aim is constant yoga 24 hours a day, whatever you are doing, even while sleeping. This is a tall order of course, but the idea is to be continually spending more and more time in the consciousness of being a soul, and in union with God. Because of this full time approach BK are taught to meditate with their eyes open. Usually when sitting down for timetabled yoga, a red light will be used. Often there will a yogi at the front facing everyone else conducting the meditation by use of drishti - this is a peculiarly BK practice. When sitting in meditation, the yogi can go deeper than when involved in everyday activities.

The understanding of individual BKs concerning Raja Yoga tends to be a bit sketchy. There is very little practical information about it available from them and almost no information on the higher stages of it beyond a few, generally misunderstood, terms like 'Seed Stage' and 'Third Eye'. BKs claim to teach Raja Yoga but in fact they are teaching BK 'Gyan' (i.e. 'enlightenment'). The Raja Yoga just "happens" if you are lucky, or have suitable karma depending on your beliefs, and the spiritual atmosphere at the BK centres is very conducive to it.

The BKs have claimed Raja Yoga as their own, to the extent that until recently they marketed themselves outside of India as "Raja Yoga" rather than "Brahma Kumaris".

Original Raja Yoga

The term "Raja Yoga" is not the property of the BKs, although many BKs persist on referring to the teachings of the BKWSU as 'Raja Yoga', and there is a blurring together of the concepts of BK Gyan and Raja Yoga. Indeed, many BK dogmas which are not even part of BK Gyan, have also become associated in the minds of many former and current BKs as being Raja Yoga. This is confusing and misleading. Even within BK teachings Yoga and Gyan are separate subjects.

The original use of the term Raja Yoga goees back over 2,000 years and is assigned to a sage called Patanjali. Patanjali's Raja Yoga sutras are a well know Hindu or yoga text.

Passing off

BKs, including leaders of the group, and the BKWSU official will often pass off BK Raja Yoga as the Ancient Raja Yoga to give their practise more credibility. It is not clear when BK Raja Yoga was standardised but it is certainly after 1936 where as classical Raja Yoga has a tradition of 2,000 years of more.

BK get around this fact by claiming that 5,000 years ago, they invented Raja Yoga and given that 5,000 years is the long period of time possible, their version is therefore the original and Patanjali's is the impure, incomplete rememberence of it. BKs do not believe that any other form of Yoga bring spiritual benefit and, especially, does not lead to spiritual release from sanskars or the Kalpa

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