#WellnessWed: How Raja Yoga rocks my world
MANILA, Philippines - To me and many other Raja Yogis around the world, January is not just the month to begin the new year. It is also a special month to remember the life of a foremost instrument who started to teach and embody the principles of Raja Yoga meditation, and founded a school to teach it.
His name was Lekraj Kirplani, a Sindhi self-made diamond merchant who, at the age of retirement at 60, founded the school for Raja Yoga which would become his lifelong legacy. He used his considerable wealth to found a meditation school in India that aimed to spiritually empower people from all walks of life. What Dada (Hindi for "older man") Lekraj did was something quite unheard of in 1930s caste-bound India, where women were considered second-class citizens, and those who were of the lowest "shudra" caste were derisively labeled as "untouchables."
Dada Lekraj was something of a prototype feminist. For years even before the term "affirmative action" came to be, he made the school open to all, regardless of religion, gender, caste, age, and creed. He dedicated his actions to God, so that even after retirement, between 1936 to 1969, he entered a very active phase of his life where he committed to serve humanity through spiritual empowerment and values awareness.
The school was first called Om Mandali, and later, as the number of students grew and as they moved to Rajasthan, India, it came to be called Brahma Kumaris. Dada Lekraj, the charismatic teacher who was always known for his integrity and principled lifestyle, also came to be known to many as Brahma Baba.
He left his mortal body on January 18, 1969, after more than 3 decades of unflinchingly sustaining men and women, young and old, religious or not, through his example of humility, selflessness, and pure-heartedness. There are now about 900,000 practitioners of Raja Yoga worldwide.
Religion in India was male-dominated, so when many women (mostly unschooled) started to study Raja Yoga at Brahma Kumaris, they began to emerge with greater self-esteem and courage. In fact, many of the first students of the school were women in their teens who are now in their 80s and 90s, and have become skilled administrative leaders of the institution.
One of them is Dadi Janki, a 97-year-old yogi who has been appointed as one of the Wisdom Keepers, an eminent group of spiritual leaders convened at United Nations conferences. Dadi is also one of the first female spiritual leaders to emerge in India, a gifted speaker who continues to travel the world to conduct classes and retreats for Raja Yogis in all 6 continents. She has also served as vice president of the World Congress of Faiths.
From a small school in South Asia, the Brahma Kumaris is now an international NGO in consultative status with the United Nations, with 8,500 centers in 110 countries. Up to this day, it remains non-profit, non-religious, and non-sectarian, making it an independent body that is able to provide free courses on values and self-development in the local communities. The school is totally run by volunteers and through voluntary contributions of the people who have benefitted from their courses.
In fact, the Brahma Kumaris-Foundation in the Philippines celebrates its 30th year of service this 2013.
First person experience
When I first studied Raja Yoga in 2000, I was not met by a cold, proseltyzing guru but by a warm, sweet, and cheerful yogi called Sr. Leela. It was these qualities that instantly attracted me to the school. I came to realize that Raja Yoga, like any true spiritual path, does not have to make one distant from the world. Instead, it actually makes one engaged with people and the world while not being influenced by anyone's negativity.
These last 13 years, I saw how the Raja yogi is meant to live like the lotus flower, one that thrives in the mud and dirt of the world, yet can flourish in the muddled waters of life simply because of its innate purity and beauty.
Another thing I came to love about Raja Yoga is that it did not involve any physical feats, but simply a nurturing of inner resources and strengths through quiet reflection of positive thoughts and feelings for the self and others. Often called the “king of all yogas”, Raja Yoga starts from this basic premise:
I am the ruler of my life, I am the master of my own thoughts, words and actions, and everything that happens to me.
This means I have full responsibility of my life and that, ultimately, nobody is to blame for my circumstances. This awareness itself gradually took over habits of dependency and neediness on outer circumstances for my own self-worth and happiness.
Raja Yoga is a lifelong process of learning, and I have always been delighted by the community life I have found. Though not an organized religion, I am always heartened by the fact that I am alongside and "making effort" with other students, studying and practicing with me the same spiritual principles, whether they are aged 8 or 80.
Some longtime friends have always wondered what I'd been up to and why I continue my Raja Yoga practice. My reason is simple: I want to be true to myself and to live my life well.
Try Raja Yoga meditation with this video:
And if I were to summarize the gems of insights and practical acts that I have learned and continue to cultivate through Raja Yoga, I am sure that many would benefit to know some of them:
1. Know that your real nature is good.
Know, respect, and love yourself.
2. Always begin the day with this thought: I am originally and innately good.
Love, peace, happiness, purity, and truth are my original virtues. These are the real treasures of my life that nobody can diminish.
3. Each one is a spiritual being, innately good; it is just that we have forgotten.
When we forget our innate spirituality and goodness, imbalance and disharmony with the Self and others happen. In meditation, we can restore an original awareness that our true nature is only of goodness. Our consciousness creates our reality.
4. Everything in life happens with a purpose.
See the benefit in every situation, so that you can move on and learn.
5. Don't get stuck in false identities.
You are not your body, name, form, relationships, and possessions. Physical things and situations will come and go, but your spiritual self will always remain and endure.
6. All actions return to me.
So let me perform actions that will only bring benefit to me and the world.
7. Trust in the drama of life.
Trust in a being that is higher than yourself. It doesn't matter whether you believe in God/a higher being or not, or whether you belong to an organized religion or not.
There is an ultimate source of power and goodness in the universe that we always can tap whenever we are open and ready. While human beings falter and fail us, the reservoir of goodness from the Source is always full, benevolent, and unending.
In meditation, I aim to re-connect with the best in myself and with the highest Source of powers and virtues.
8. Devote personal time for self-care.
Meditate and surround yourself with thoughts and feelings that will nurture you from the inside-out, not just from the outside-in.
9. For absolute beginners, listen to meditation commentaries every other two hours to give you a pause from the heat and humdrum of life.
I deeply trust that each pilgrim will eventually choose the path that will ultimately feel right for her or him. See for yourself by surveying meditation lessons near you and check out which method resonates with you the most.
As the timeworn adage goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. - Rappler.com
(Learn more about Raja Yoga meditation through http://www.bkwsu.org/philippines, or call Brahma Kumaris Makati at 890-7960; at QC 414-9421; at Manila 521-2015.)
(Rina Angela Corpus has been studying and teaching Raja Yoga since 2000.)