From Patanjali’s Meditation Yoga,
Translation and Commentary by Vyn Bailey msc
From devotedness to god comes perfection of contemplation
SIDDHI efficiency • attainment • perfection
ISVARA lord • ruler • prince • king • God
PRANIDHANA devotion • devotedness
After a meditation session at a city yoga centre a woman confided to me, `I’d have got a lot out of that, except I don’t believe in God’. I asked her, ‘What is this God you don’t believe in?’ She said, ‘I don’t believe there is some-one up there, watching everything I do, ready to slap me down if I do the wrong thing’. I said, ‘Join the club. I don’t believe in that either. But you must believe in something, or you wouldn’t have been here tonight.’ ‘Fair enough!’ she replied, ‘I believe there is some level of being higher than this, and I believe there must be some way I can raise myself up to contact that level. That’s what I’m looking for.’ ‘Congratulations’, I said, ‘you believe in God.’
Her problem was not lack of faith, but lack of knowledge. She believed in God but didn’t know the first thing about him: was he a person, a universal spirit or a level of being? She had been taught about God, at home, at school or in church, by people who knew something about God, but who didn’t actually know God, which is something different altogether. It is more important to experience God than just to know about God from books or hearsay.
Educated Hindus unshakeably believe that there is only one God. When they speak of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer and regenerator, they are not thinking of three different deities. They are honouring the cosmic activities of the one and only God. There is, of course, a danger that the ignorant or misinformed might understand all this as referring to three different divinities, and slip into polytheism or even idolatry. So Hindus speak not of a higher God, as some translators express it, but of a higher, purer idea of God – ISVARA. This word is singular, like the Hebrew Yahweh, or the Muslim Allah, or the Christian Lord.
PRANIDHANA means devotedness to ISVARA (God). SAMADHI (contemplation) is the highest form of meditation. SIDDHI (perfection) takes us to the highest form of contemplation. This is Patanjali’s goal for us.
KRIYA-YOGA—yoga in practice— involves body, mind, and spirit: physical self-discipline, mental study, and for the spirit, devotedness to God.
From devotedness to God comes perfection of contemplation