If Yoga were merely an exercise program, done only to slim and strengthen the body, as it is often viewed these days, then the first two limbs of Yoga, Yama and Niyama, would be no more than curious spiritual practices that have little to do with the real purpose of Yoga.
No wonder the Yamas and Niyamas receive only passing mention in many yoga classes.
Yoga, however, is not an exercise program. It is a spiritual science, the true purpose of which is to attain awareness of oneself on all levels, self-mastery and spiritual liberation. Because of this, the first two limbs of Yoga are of immense and under-appreciated importance.
This and other questions and answers regarding spiritual practice can be found at "Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is..."
Question: "I've been wanting to ask you something for a while now. Everywhere around us we see people doing wrong, crimes have increased tenfold, people have no morals, they are doing anything without thinking. Simple things that are righteous also, people can't understand anymore. So many atrocities on women, children and animals are increasing.
What can we do to heal the world? Can we help others through our meditation? Baba used to say we should keep praying for the world, for world peace. Since childhood I've been saying one line every night till date before sleeping, 'please give world peace and a good day to all tomorrow.' Should I keep praying for that? I really want to do so much but don't know how to. Please guide me."
Answer from Swami Veda Bharati: "I am so happy to know someone who has these thoughts of concern for the world and actually does a prayer for the world peace every day.
In order for our aspirations for this sattvic nature require for us
1. Learning the art of making our prayers effective.
2. Learning to merge the individual mind into samashti-chitta, universal mind through which alone we can radiate sattvic thoughts in many people.
3. A deep sankalpa to serve and purify the world selflessly and to undertake whatever internal or external, personal or social tasks to which one might need to make a lifelong dedication.
4. For all this we require (a) intensifying our spiritual energies and (b) improving ourselves, our thoughts, words and actions, to serve as models and sources of inspiration for a large number of people.
Those who have mastered the above paths have always succeeded in bringing major changes in the world even though, to my knowledge, no one has ever succeeded in making the entire world sattvic; this is because each mind has its own samskaras and the effects on the free will.
I send you herewith a copy of my work. The title is Sadhana in Applied Spirituality.
I wish you great achievements in this direction in this very life.
Swami Veda Bharati"
Swami Veda Bharati holds the prestigious title of Mahamandaleshwara in the Swami order of monks. He was also the Chancellor of HIHT University, Dehradun, which was established by Master Swami Rama. He authored approximately 18 books on Indian spirituality including a 1500 page comprehensive commentary on two of the four chapters of Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras. Before taking the vows of Swamihood in 1992, Swami Veda Bharati was known as Dr. Usharbudh Arya.