The Secret Of Yoga

in thrall from birth to the moment of death, and even pursued him to the hereafter, instilling in him a desire for ceremonial burial and performance of rituals after his death. It certainly could not be a passing fancy or a transient reaction, created in his yet insufficiently developed, ignorant mind, by its first impact with natural phenomena and the effort to find an explanation for them. It could also not be the outcome of fear of the elements in a state of fury, the thunder and lightning, the wind and tide, the rain and storm, since he was accustomed and reconciled to them from the very beginning of his career on earth millions of years before. It is amazing that such lame explanations have been put forward by eminent scholars to rationalize an impulse that has been one of the most powerful governing factors of man's existence from primeval times.

From the unmistakable evidence before us it is obvious at no time in his chequered career was man free from the mental fervour characteristic of the religious urge. On the contrary, with few exceptions he seems to have been much more in the grip of the supernatural than the most credulous and the most superstitious of today. There is no other single factor, apart from the primary urges, that has maintained such a hold on the mind of primitive man, diverting his activity into channels that had absolutely no relationship with the satisfaction of his physical needs. He could have continued to survive without it, even after the advent of reason, as he had survived for millions of years before in the subhuman and animal stages. Viewed from a strictly rational perspective it can be said that the religious impulse, instead of aiding the development of reason, enveloped the mind with darkest clouds of superstition and fear, and continues to do so even now in the lower strata of underdeveloped societies. But at the same time there is no denying the fact that, side by side with his reason, this mysterious impulse of submission to unseen intelligent forces around him, and a dim sense of the distinction between this world and the other, between the propitious and unpropitious or the holy and the unholy, spontaneously took shape in his mind. This did not disappear with the advance of the intellect, as shadows disappear at the approach of light, but became more rational, keeping the same hold on the seasoned intellect as it had done thousands of years before when reason was still in its infancy.

A few words are necessary to weigh the validity of some of the hypotheses put forward by modern scholars and men of science to account for the phenomenon of religion. One of these, the doctrine of the animistic origin of religion, was propounded by E. B. Taylor, an anthropologist of the nineteenth century, and by Herbert Spencer, a well-known writer on philosophical subjects. According to this theory the investiture by the primitive mind of all the objects and forces of nature with life or animation in the form of soul, spirit, or other invisible beings provides the basis for the appearance of the organized religions of later epochs. The idea of aliveness or animation in nature, it is supposed, originated in the mind of primitive man from the observation of death scenes, when the living principle seems to depart from the body; from dreams, hallucinations, trance conditions, or from what the savage could only interpret as the animated activity of natural forces. This idea, it is held, materialized first in ancestor worship and in funeral rites and ceremonies in the belief that the departed souls or spirits led an invisible existence of their own.

Apart from the fact that the practice of worshiping the spirits of the departed has not been universal, the theory of the animistic origin of religion fails to explain the various amorphous forms of religious motivation exhibited in the still earlier ideas of primitive man, as for instance, in totemic practices or in the notions of mana and taboo. There might have been other variations, too, of which we have no knowledge. So far as the animistic idea is concerned it speaks more in favour of the hypothesis that religion is the expression of a basic impulse of the psyche and from the very beginning started in the human mind as a distinction between the body and the spirit, this world and the other, death and deathlessness, the permissible and unpermissible, the sacred and profane, as a spontaneous projection of an inner development that slowly and painfully, but at the same time inexorably, led evolving mankind to the lofty conceptions that now permeate the religious literature of the world. From a rational point of view, therefore, animism ought to be considered as an inevitable phase in the evolution of the religious impulse, and early mode of its expression, and not as the wellspring of religion itself.

For the hypothesis of the psychoanalytical school, founded by Freud, it is enough to say that the Freudian concept is not now fully accepted by some other psychologists. Another eminent psychologist, McDougall, believes in the existence of an animating principle or soul in the human body. The idea of a Father in heaven, who looks benignly after the created multitudes of humanity and provides for their needs, might well appear to casual observation as the projection of a wish for a protective father, but a deeper study of even such an anthropomorphic concept of God makes this interpretation untenable for the simple reason that the very idea of a superearthly Being, having his abode in high heaven, with divine attributes and able to command all the forces of nature, not being a fact of experience, must depend for its existence on a tendency present in the human mind to draw a distinction between the earthly and the Divine or between this world and the one above or beyond it, and is evidence of the influence of the deep-rooted religious feeling in man. Apart from this, if we cast a glance at the unrefined religious ideas and practices of primitive man we find that this was more often of a compulsive or exacting, than of a pleasure yielding or wish-fulfilling nature, a driving pressure reaching up from the depths of the primitive mind.

For further clarification it is necessary to point out that at present scholars are practically in the dark as to the nature of psychic energy, the source of all vital activity in the body, including that of thought and the rapid interplay of nerve im-

pulses. No one would like to contend the blatantly obvious fact that thought and consciousness do not fall into the category of material objects according to the current definitions of matter. Yet according to Samkhya-Yoga and Saivite schools of philosophy, the three widely accepted cosmogonic doctrines of Indian thought, dealing withprakrati, or matter, as an objective reality (in contrast to Vedanta, which treats it as an illusory appearance), not only thought but even the intellect and ego are the manifestations of matter in its ultra-subtle formation.

This classification is based on the introspective study of nervous impulses and analysis of thought in the highly penetrative super-sensual states of consciousness or samadhi. The scientific value of an exploration carried out in this manner is far greater that that of the somewhat analogous investigation, carried out by men of science, on normal men through an analysis of their dreams, on neurotics and the insane or on hypnotized subjects for the diagnosis of mental and even physical ailments. The amazing knowledge of the nervous system and the flow of two kinds of nerve currents, about which science has no accurate information as yet, has also been obtained in the same manner. The founders of these philosophical schools had a very sound basis for their postulates, for in the superconscious state psychic energy, or prana, whether or not brought to a state of arrest, becomes clearly perceptible as an extremely subtle essence in the body, atomic or subatomic in nature, the connecting link between the material organism and immaterial life.

The impossibility of interaction between matter and the incorporeal spirit, without an intermediary connecting link, is an old problem of philosophy. Attempts to meet this difficulty have found an outlet in the various forms of monism, pantheism, Vedanta, and the like. Setting aside the philosophical aspect of the subject, all we wish to emphasize is the fact that the existence of an extremely attenuated biological substance that acts as fuel to the activity of thought and the play of the nervous impulses is a sine qua non of biology itself. The present lack of knowledge of this vital biological essence, which is as necessary for the manifestation of life and thought as the fine metal filament in a glass bulb is necessary for the manifestation of electric light, invalidates many of the present-day concepts of psychology based on direct interrelation between the psyche and the physical organism. The moment the existence of this medium is accepted and, considering the highly sensitive devices that are now coming into use for the measurement of psychic activity, it should not take long to locate it. The present tendency to ascribe almost every obscure phenomenon of the mind, such as neurosis, lunacy, hysteria, ecstasy, dream and religious experiences exclusively to the subconscious must cease to obsess the intellect. In that event it would be saner to infer that the object affected is not the soul, an immaterial, universal substance, which cannot become diseased by material contamination. But it is the interconnecting medium or prana which is the fuel of thought and which when even slightly disturbed or disorganized creates the disintegrations and distortions of personality peculiar to affections of the mind

The view of Freud that religions originated in some primitive situations in which the sons combined to kill their father that they might possess his wives and concubines, but felt so guilty after the murder that they refrained from such possession, repented for their deeds through religious rites. The inaccuracy of this view is apparent. How could a solitary or even a few incidents of this kind lead to the establishment of a practice and the development of a compulsive need throughout the primitive worlds of such an overwhelming character as to sway the conduct, thought, and history of mankind to this day. Also how could the thought of performing posthumous religious rites, as a measure of repentance, occur to the sons of the murdered father if religion in some form or at least the idea of survival of the spirit of the departed was not present in their minds? If the idea was already current at the time it means that religion had originated before the incident.

Another hypothesis for the origin of religion put forward by

Wilhelm Schmidt, rests on the assumption that originally there was worship of one high or supreme God or a few high gods, which later proliferated into the worship of countless smaller gods, spirits, ghosts or demons among primitive people. The idea of a High God can only spring from the natural tendency in the human mind to seek out the author or cause of every object one confronts. The primitive mind had to follow this tendency in order to postulate a Creator or Father for the existence of the world round it, however crude that conception might have been, and however narrow and limited the cosmos might have appeared to its still imperfectly developed conceptual faculty. Thus there can be no dispute about any hypothesis presented for the existence of an Author or Progenitor of the world. But when it is accompanied by the idea of offering worship to this self-created Progenitor, combined with the concept of His unceasing control over the forces of nature, His incorporeality, omnipotence and immunity to death, the position becomes entirely different. It demands a deeper probing into the human mind, whether primitive or civilized, in order to discover the cause for all the emotional and intellectual ferment associated with religion from the very earliest times.

The idea of Durkheim that totemism was the most primitive and universal form of religion and that as the god of a clan the totemic principle could be nothing else than the clan itself, personified and symbolized, means that it was the society that evoked the experience of the Divine in the mind of primitive man by virtue of the power it had over him. The society required that, forgetful of his own interests, he should make himself its servant and submit to every sort of inconvenience, deprivation and sacrifice without which social life would be impossible. As the social structure of the group is expressed in spiritual ways, the individual came to believe that it was outside or beyond himself. This theory does not explain how the idea of the totem itself originated. Why should the primitive mind have imagined that a certain intimate relationship existed be tween himself and some animal or plant, or have regarded it as of particular significance for tribe and paid reverence to it? The very fact that an institution of this sort existed in more primitive forms of human society with the rudiments of worship and solemnity attached to it provides ample evidence for the existence of a peculiar impulse in the aboriginal human mind that expressed itself as an invisible relationship between itself and some animal or plant, some object or force in nature. The primitive mind invested it with life and the power to act evilly or benignly toward him, his whole family or clan demanding a reverential and solemn attitude or some sacrifice for its propitiation, with a promise of bestowing strength and power if worshiped with due ceremony. In this way the very existence of totemism denotes the activity of the religious impulse in rudimentary form.

Another school of thought traces the origin of religion to magic. It is, no doubt, a well-observed fact that in one form or another belief in magic has been widespread among primitive people all over the earth. This either took the form of spells or charms or rites performed to influence disembodied spirits, ghosts, demons, and other invisible forces of nature, for gaining the objectives not ordinarily possible, such as curing disease, granting favours, harming an enemy, winning an object of passion, or for other purposes. As in the case of fetishism, the symbol rested on the investiture of some natural object, an image, a pebble, a piece of bone, a feather of a particular bird or any such small thing or article with the power of warding off evil or granting desires. Another form of magic is contained in Shamanism, another very widespread primitive cult in existence even now among the Eskimos of North America, northern Asia and the primitive peoples of the Pacific and African regions. The Shamans, in a state of ecstasy or possessed by a spirit or some psychic power, exhibit curative, clairvoyant, or magical powers. According to J. G. Frazer, magic is the basic substance out of which religion has probably developed. Where magic failed to achieve the aims desired, the primitive mind, he says, turned to religious practices to attain them.

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