Letter to Yogi Desai
November 12, 1966
After a six-year absence in America, Amritji made his first return visit to India. At that time, he informed Bapuji about the thirst for yoga among the people of America. Bapuji took in this information and after a while, his enigmatic smile spread across his face and his eyes were flooded with love. Over the following 18 days, Bapuji gave Amritji special training to guide him in the future development of his teaching in America.
Amritji recalls that enchanted time with Bapuji: “I was so thrilled and inspired by his teaching, love and compassion toward me. Words seem to lose their significance as soon as I try to describe my experience. The penetrating spiritual radiance of this saint’s inner unattached personality seemed like a lotus in a pond, a symbol of sheer truth and piety. His mere presence was soothing and inspired in me peace and confidence in treading the path of yoga.”
After his sadhana on this date, Bapuji emerged from his meditation room and immediately asked for the address of the Yoga Society. He gave the following message to Amritji.
Dear friends, the organizers of the Yoga Society of Pennsylvania, with love, Jai Bhagwan!
From thousands of miles away, Amrit Desai has come to me with your heart-touching message, saying, “Guruji! The devout workers of the Yoga Society of Pennsylvania, as well as other brothers and sisters interested in yoga, ever remember your holiness with immense love. They eagerly await your sacred and inspiring errand.”
Dear brothers and sisters! I have felt your chaste message, as sweet as the divine music of love. My heart experiences serenity and I closed my eyes for a few minutes to see the faces of you all. As if my subtle body took off toward Philadelphia to seek you out, my mind’s eye, in utter agitation, started rambling here and there. It found you and watched with full inner focus. Thus one streak of love merged with the other. Then, having completed its journey, my subtle body returned within a few minutes.
Yoga is a universal religion; all mankind has an equal right to it. Yet only a hero can undertake the complete practice of yoga. Therefore the great yogis have established a system of the ordinary man living in society. Progressing through it, one can become a pilgrim of the higher path. There are eight aspects which, taken together, comprise yoga:
- Yama (the five moral abstinences)
- Niyama (five observances of conduct)
- Asana (physical postures)
- Pranayama (breathing exercises)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of the mind from external objects, introspection)
- Dharna (concentration)
- Dyana (meditation) and
- Samadhi (the superconscious state in which an individual entity merges with the infinite reality.)
Yama and Niyama are the basis of yoga, and without their observance, yoga cannot be practiced. Physical and mental purification is gained through the proper practice of asana and pranayama. Once the body is purified, every disease disappears and permanent health is gained.
With purification of the mind, such evils as lust, anger, avarice, etc. are brought under control. It is pranayama which is called HathaYoga. Asana, mudra and bandha (locks) are considered part of it. Dharma, Dhyana and Samadhi are called Raja Yoga, which is not possible until pratyhara is achieved through Hatha Yoga.
Dear friends, the unique work that you have undertaken in establishing the Yoga Society is indeed praiseworthy and deserves compliment. Society at large would be served by it, and my disciple, Amrit Desai, will cooperate with you most heartily. It is my heartfelt wish that your endeavor spread far and wide; ever-serving mankind selflessly. For that, I extend my blessings as I bless you, the organizers, that you may prosper. May all-merciful God bestow you with immense enthusiasm, unending energy and knowledge sublime.
Brothers and sisters who practice yoga, your good fortune is reflected in the benefits you receive from this Yoga Society. Through such yogic practices as asana, mudra, pranayama and bandha, body and mind will be purified and the individual ever enjoy an active mind and good cheer. Once disease is eliminated, the kingdom of health is established and the closed doors of divine life open up. By the thorough practice of yoga, one ceases to be human and becomes superhuman, the Divine. He becomes the messenger, the Son of God. Even if what you are able to learn from Amrit is partial or incomplete, it will still be enough to transform your life to a glorious one. Never give up this practice. Keep progressing in it day by day. Continue to take new lessons and review the earlier ones. The afflicted world undoubtedly needs your love and service.
With blessings, I am yours affectionately,