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2. Abstraction of the senses or auto
Hindus, who have no clear conceptions of the terms mental and physical, animate and inanimate, nor of the ideas connoted by them.To them all nature was animate, and all its phenomena the results of the actions of sentient beings, and hence it was not difficult for them to suppose that men could influence the proceedings of such beings. And it is a matter of common knowledge that savage peoples believe their magicians to be capable of producing rain and fine weather, and even of controlling the course of the sun. The Hindu sacred books indeed contain numerous instances of ascetics who by their austerities acquired such powers as to compel the highest gods themselves to obedience.
The term Yoga is held to mean unity or communion with God, and the Yogi by virtue of his painful discipline
and mental and physical exercises considered himself divine. hypnotism. “ The adept acquires the knowledge of everything past and
future, remote or hidden; he divines the thoughts of others, gains the strength of an elephant, the courage of a lion, and the swiftness of the wind; flies into the air, floats in the water, and dives into the earth, contemplates all worlds at one glance and performs many strange things.” 2
The following excellent instance of the pretensions of the Yogis is given by Professor Oman :3 “Wolff went also with Mr. Wilson to see one of the celebrated Yogis who was lying in the sun in the street, the nails of whose hands were grown into his cheeks and a bird's nest upon his head. Wolff asked him, “How can one obtain the knowledge of God?' He replied, “Do not ask me questions ; you may look at me, for I am God.'
. It is certainly not easy at the present day," Professor Oman states, 4 "for the western mind to enter into the spirit of the so-called Yoga philosophy; but the student of religious opinions is aware that in the early centuries of our era the Gnostics, Manichæans and Neo-Platonists derived their peculiar tenets and practices from the Yoga-vidya of India, and that at a later date the Sufi philosophy of Persia drew its most remarkable ideas from the same source.5 The
| This has been fully demonstrated 3 Quoting from Dr. George Smith's by Sir J. G. Frazer in The Golden Life of Dr. Wilson, p. 74. Bough.
4 Ibidem, pp. 13-15. 2 Colebrooke's Essays.
5 Weber's Indian Literature, p. 239.
ABSTRACTION OF THE SENSES
great historian of the Roman Empire refers to the subject in the following passage: “The Fakīrs of India and the monks of the Oriental Church, were alike persuaded that in total abstraction of the faculties of the mind and body, the pure spirit may ascend to the enjoyment and vision of the Deity. The opinion and practice of the monasteries of Mount Athos will be best represented in the words of an abbot, who flourished in the eleventh century : ‘When thou art alone in thy cell,' says the ascetic teacher, “Shut thy door, and seat thyself in a corner, raise thy mind above all things vain and transitory, recline thy beard and chin on thy breast, turn thine eyes and thy thoughts towards the middle of the belly, the region of the navel, and search the place of the heart, the seat of the soul. At first all will be dark and comfortless; but if you persevere day and night, you will feel an ineffable joy ; and no sooner has the soul discovered the place of the heart, than it is involved in a mystic and ethereal light.' This light, the production of a distempered fancy, the creature of an empty stomach and an empty brain, was adored by the Quietists as the pure and perfect essence of God Himself.” 1
“Without entering into unnecessary details, many of which are simply disgusting, I shall quote, as samples, a few of the rules of practice required to be followed by the would-be Yogi in order to induce a state of Samādhi hypnotism or trance - which is the condition or state in which the Yogi is to enjoy the promised privileges of Yoga. The extracts are from a treatise on the Yoga philosophy by Assistant Surgeon Nobin Chander Pāl.” 2
" Place the left foot upon the right thigh, and the right foot upon the left thigh; hold with the right hand the right great toe and with the left hand the left great toe (the hands coming from behind the back and crossing each other); rest the chin on the interclavicular space, and fix the sight on the tip of the nose.
Inspire through the left nostril, fill the stomach with the inspired air by the act of deglutition, suspend the 1 Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. Ixiii.
Republished in the Theosophist.
breath, and expire through the right nostril. Next inspire through the right nostril, swallow the inspired air, suspend the breath, and finally expire through the left nostril.
"Be seated in a tranquil posture, and fix your sight on the tip of the nose for the space of ten minutes.
“Close the ears with the middle fingers, incline the head a little to the right side and listen with each ear attentively to the sound produced by the other ear, for the space of ten minutes.
“Pronounce inaudibly twelve thousand times the mystic syllable Om, and meditate upon it daily after deep inspirations.
“ After a few forcible inspirations swallow the tongue, and thereby suspend the breath and deglutate the saliva for two hours.
“Listen to the sounds within the right ear abstractedly for two hours, with the left ear.
* Repeat the mystic syllable Om 20,736,000 times in silence and meditate upon it.
Suspend the respiratory movements for the period of twelve days, and you will be in a state of Samādhi.”
Another account of a similar procedure is given by Buchanan :1 “Those who pretend to be eminent saints perform the ceremony called Yoga, described in the Tantras. In the accomplishment of this, by shutting what are called the nine passages (dwāra, lit. doors) of the body, the votary is supposed to distribute the breath into the different parts of the body, and thus to obtain the beatific vision of various gods. It is only persons who abstain from the indulgence of concupiscence that can pretend to perform this ceremony, which during the whole time that the breath can be held in the proper place excites an ecstasy equal to whatever woman
can bestow on man." 3. Breath
It is clear that the effect of some of the above practices ing through is designed to produce a state of mind resembling the nostril. hypnotic trance. The Yogis attach much importance to the effect of breathing through one or the other nostril, and this
1 Eastern India, ii. p. 756.