From the book «Shri Natha Siddho ki shankhadhal» of Guru Yogi Vilasnatha Maharaj
Atma, jivatma, antaratma, paramatma, the consciousness or paramtattva, etc — these are all names of the born soul. Any changes in the physical body or changes of the properties of the five elements in the Universe does not have any influence on the soul, which is enclosed in the body and is as immortal as the infinite, eternal, veritable and indestructible Universe. One can destroy the body but can never destroy the soul. This wisdom is widely spread by Guru Gorakshanath. This is the idea of the Absolute reality, unaffected by the authority of mind, consciousness and Maya. This idea of the ultimate Reality has absolute power over the five elements. The Natha yogis were able to acknowledge that the soul might be liberated from suffering through insensibility, self-sacrifice, knowledge and a system of sadhanas. The fundamental basis of knowledge of the liberation of the soul was established through the experience of meditation by true spiritual seekers. The knowledge of Atma, perception of Atma, manifestation of Atma will purify the consciousness. When the influence of the world of illusions becomes limited, only the Sadguru’s mercy and the way of yoga can help liberate from all frustration, and the soul becomes purer, deeper and richer. The Atma is not perceived through the physical form. There is no place for physical perception and any special regulations in the knowledge of Atma. There is no reason, no action, no sense. There is no acquisition, no return, no interrelation, but only eternal indivisible and preserving the spirit of Knowledge. At the same time the experience of Atma may be familiar. The knowledge of Atma, manifestation of Atma, subtle comprehension, the distinction of more subtle energies and the retrieve of prosperity are possibly through sadhana. Asana, pranayama, dharana, dhyana, samadhi and other forms of sadhana must refine and enhance perception. Obtained from your Guru “OM” or “OM SO-HAM” or others mantras intended for japa, singing and meditation, may help withhold the mind and lead it to the state of emptiness. All the imperfections of the body, mind and speech are sacrificed to the fire of Knowledge, thus one reaches the peaceful state of mind and liberation. Various sadhanas, tapasyas, maunas, hatha yoga, regulations, forms of upasana, tantras, mantras — are only external sadhanas, which set limitations on the sensory organs and control over the mind. Pranayama is the door to the channels’ purification and to the piercing Kundalini energy, which gives many of perfections, but without the manifestation of Atma all these actions remain simply mechanical and insignificant. However, without experience, Knowledge alone can not be the cause of salvation. Hence, awareness of Atma, knowledge of Atma, experience of Atma, manifestation of Atma — are the finest sadhana, path and method. This kind of knowledge and manifestation of Atma leads every willing soul to liberation. This is the true purpose of the human life.
Upasana means the retention of mind next to the object. The mind serves an object which may be anything. This can be service for community or for otherworldly forces, but true service is possible only through service to God, and there are three types: the sadhu way, following yoga and following the bhakti way.
According to Karma yoga, any affection must be offered as the supreme sacrifice through the performance of one’s obligations, renunciation and the devotion to duty.
Bhakti yoga is addressing God in his favorite way, with full dedication and devotion. The devoted expresses his belief in the Deity through worshiping and thus he cultivates faith.
According to the yogic wisdom, in order to cognize God as the ultimate truth one must learn detachment and renunciation. This kind of experience is the opposite to the Maya experience. The Divine knowledge is learned through the devotion to sadhana. This leads to liberation and salvation.
Practices related to karma-kanda, yagya, tapasya and service should be held for the successful achievement of salvation and liberation. Bhakti yoga is the destiny of the sadhu. Gyaana yoga is the way of the Nath, the sannyasin, the ascetic, or of the simple householder.
Karma yoga, gyaana yoga and bhakti yoga are coordinated and unseparated from one another. Gyaana yoga is not lower than karma yoga, and karma yoga is not lower than gyaana yoga, they both have equal force. Any kind of separation is artificial and meaningless. Thus, devotion, gyaana or karma yoga are accessible and effective. All three forms of yoga are unified in a single process. And then the selfless karma yogin obtains the higher knowledge of yoga and unselfish devotion, which leads him to salvation and liberation.
Bhakti yoga is the devotional and faithful worship of God, the highest Deity or your personal devata. There are two kinds of bhakti yoga: saguna bhakti and nirguna bhakti. Saguna and nirguna have properties of Universal energy, which has Divine properties. Selfless service nurtures bhakti. Both of the forms are inseparable and cease to exist one without the other. But the high ideals of bhakti are not suitable for everyone. It is meant for those who are sincerely devoted. Saguna-bhakti is distinguished is the following way:
Sanimit-bhakti is demonstrated in distress and difficult times. Thus one strengthens himself in his belief and true devotion.
Akarshana-bhakti is the ability to stay loyal and dedicated to God, despite one’s achievements.
Shraddhaparayana-bhakti — is the ability to keep faith and devotion without particular reason, being far away from places of worship and shrines.
Sah-bhakti — is the ability to evolve in adherence of the Divine through forms of worshiping.
Samarasata-bhakti — Just as the river turns to ocean, eventually man turns to a form of God through the process of worship.
All those five forms of bhakti yoga are the precursors of Nirguna-bhakti.
Nirguna-bhakti is the devotion to God, which has no form. Initially, the devoted reckons himself separated from Brahman. But with the Guru’s mercy the mind, consciousness and ego merge in the process of worship, and true knowledge and experience of Reality comes. Namely, the Universal Spirit and Atma in the body of the Universe. Then faith grows. The truth of advaita and the understanding of nirguna comes. When a yogi is in the state of nirguna he becomes open for moksha and mukti.
There are different types of the devoted. Those who appeal to God in times of misfortune. Those who desire to know God and demonstrate aspiration and curiosity. Those who are ready to serve with the aim of gaining siddhis or obtaining any benefits. These three types of bhaktas, full of sensual desire and selfishness, are not able to obtain salvation or liberation. Only the one who demonstrates genuine interest in comprehension and service to God achieves the Formless and obtains moksha. There are other types of the devoted. Those who perceive God through comprehension, giving themselves away to service selflessly and with inspiration. This is the way to obtain salvation and freedom.
Today’s society is in the condition of imbalance, illness and chaos. It is struggling in the search for peace. In one hand we can see the victory of science over nature, but on the other hand we see the desire to obtain endless pleasure, luxury and stay in salacity. Modern thinkers, scholars and public figures recognize this fact, and through preaching and the practice of karma yoga, bhakti yoga, gyaana yoga, yoga sadhanas and upasanas it is possible to return society to it’s originality. This is indeed the case at the moment. Unstable and disturbed the society lives a confused and pointless life. In this way, a necessity appeared in today’s society for coordination and adjustment. The knowledge of Yoga, yoga sadhana, gyaana, karma yoga, bhakti and other forms of yoga became relevant, and like a lantern in the hands of seekers it illuminates the truth, that is dawning in the dark.
Great individuals, such as Guru Gorakshanath, the Navanaths, the 84 siddhas, Buddha, Mahavira, Shankaracharya, Ramanudji, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Nanak, Kabir and other great servants of truth glow like a beacon, directing from suffering to happiness and salvation, through different religions, upasanas, bhakti, karma yoga, the knowledge, various methods and philosophies, offering the diversity of the Way. But no religion can solve issues of the human commitment to the achievements of the physical world of science, that made men lazy and inactive. The adherence of the East for the western culture has made a split in the culture of the Dharma. Peace and real happiness started to vanish. People began to spend their lives on empty things awaiting for the day of the their death. Today spirituality, truth, knowledge, sadhana, sincerity and much more is covered with controversy and became a subject of dispute. Selfishness, greed and pleasure do not refuse themselves in the use of saint principals and ideas, following only personal interests. The increased people’s interest in spirituality became the sphere of business, pleasure and delusion. Abusing religious instincts of others, conscienceless persons become business Guru and generate immorality among disciples, and make the ideas of dharma and yoga sadhana complex and confusing to understand, mixing true and false. People often combine many religious cultures, making it complicated and hard to understand, then these teachings turn into a strange, unhealthy, entangled and unstable phenomenon.
From time to time, the Natha yogis, who possess knowledge, wisdom and distinction, try to disseminate the culture of yoga in the West in the forms of satsang, the teaching of yoga sadhana, bhakti and karma yoga, by opening the doors to nirguna through the devotion to saguna, showing the way to liberation from affection to illusion and deliverance from disorders of the consciousness.
In this world death occurs to be the truth of life, and the obtainment of moksha and mukti is essential. To overcome death and to find the way out of the ocean of samsara, the yogis of Nath Sampradaya travel a lot, revealing to all the features of hatha yoga sadhana, asanas, pranayamas, ayurveda, rasayana, dhyana, the features of the consciousness and the nature of the Unmanifested. Thus, they give the possibility to obtain peace in mind for many years to go and to survive in the process of evolution.
Giving instruction on upasana, the Nath Yogis especially emphasize on the necessity of conserving devotion in any circumstances and under any conditions. Bhakti yoga without karma yoga and gyaana will not be complete. The progress in nirguna will be impossible without true unselfishness and devotion, as the obtainment of liberation during one’s lifetime. The main principle that opens the door of saguna is sadhana of hatha yoga, the various upasanas, tantra, mantra, karma-kanda and other sadhanas, leading to nirguna bhakti. Then mind, consciousness and ego obtain the state of sunya or the Unmanifested knowledge. In accordance to this, the worship of yoga-Maya through shankhadhal is one of the specific forms of karma-kanda, that develops special devotion. These features of the knowledge of yoga, bhakti, forms of tantra and properties of mantras, as well as other forms of karma-kanda of the Nath Sampradaya makes it possible to obtain the knowledge of karma, to avoid dishonesty and attain moksha and mukti.