We had read last time “For he is not the sadhaka of a book or of many books; he is the sadhaka of the Infinite.” There is no bondage to any particular book in the Integral Yoga. “Another kind of Shastra is not Scripture, but a statement of the science and methods, the effective principles and way of working of the path of Yoga which the sadhaka elects to follow.” We have a distinction here between scripture and a book of science.
What is the meaning of a scripture? Veda for example is a scripture; Upanishads is a scripture; Bible is a scripture; Koran is a scripture; Avesta is a scripture; Bhagavad Gita is a scripture. All these scriptures are in some way or the other books of yoga. And the characteristic of scriptures is that they are revealed words. Scriptures are words received by revelation. They are supposed to contain truth and normally adherents of a scripture believes that the entire truth is given in that scripture. But Sri Aurobindo has said earlier “even the largest scripture does not bind the sadhaka of the Integral Yoga” because the truth is ever developing and cannot be imprisoned in one single statement.
A scripture is a revealed word. This is distinguished from a scientific book on yoga. There is, for example, in India a book called Yoga Sutra. Sutra means aphorism. Aphorism or Sutra means a brief statement which does not contains explanation so that if you want to explain to somebody you have to make a commentary on it. There are some human beings who are very developed, they are not in a habit of giving lectures, they only give statements, they shoot at you a word or two which contains lot of meaning. For example the statement I gave you once: “That are thou”, in Sanskrit “Tat tvam asi”: “You are that”. Who is you, who is that is not explained. In India there was a system where most of the teachers spoke in terms of aphorisms, for instance the first sutra of this book called Yoga Sutra which is written by Patanjali. He was a very great yogi of India. He put down his system of yoga which is called Raja Yoga. And the very first sentence is a sutra; is an aphorism. It simply says: “Cessation of the modifications of the stuff of consciousness is yoga.”
This book on Raja Yoga written by Patanjali is written in the form of aphorisms. “Cessation of the modifications of the stuff of consciousness is yoga.” It is the first sentence. It does not tell you what are the modification, what is stuff of consciousness, what is cessation. It simply uses these three words and the commentator has to explain all these words. There are many books in India which are called scientific books which give you the processes in a systematic manner. First this, then this, and this and this… In a revealed scripture such a special method is not used to expound. A scientific book is one in which you have first the definition of a word, then explanation of each word, then you have the goal and the methods, processes, all one by one laid down. Description of experiences, interrelationship between experiences, the highest experience, all systematically stated. That is called a scientific book of yoga as distinguished from a scripture. In scripture all may be given but not in a systematic manner. From a scripture you have to make a scientific book later on. That is also shastra. In his book on Raja Yoga, Patanjali explains in due course but not in detail what is chitta, what is stuff of consciousness, how you can arrive at a modification of consciousness, therefore the method of meditation is given, then the achievement and the meaning of samadhi is given and what you experience in samadhi is also given. That is the entire science of Raja Yoga.
Similarly for Hatha Yoga there is a book called Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Dipa means the lamp; dipaka means that it make the lamp and pra means put forth –– that which put forth the knowledge that brings about the lamp of light of Hatha Yoga. That is the meaning of Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It is also a book which tells you what is the body, what are the basic processes of the body –– namely breathing and postures. Then it explains to you various kind of breathing, various kind of postures, the processes of breathing, the processes of postures, what are the steps by which you can master your breathing and the postures of the body, and what results are obtained when you breathe in one way or the other, and when you become the master of breathing and when you become the master of postures. It is a scientific process explained and described, again in the form of sutras –– very briefly.
For every yoga there could be a scientific statement. For instance, this book The Synthesis of Yoga is a scientific book in which everything is explained step by step scientifically. It is also a scripture because it is also revealed; it is not thought out by Sri Aurobindo in his mind. It is both a scripture and a scientific work.
So we come again. “Another kind of Shastra is not Scripture, but a statement of the science and methods, the effective principles and way of working of the path of Yoga which the sadhaka elects to follow. Each path has its Shastra, either written or traditional, passing from mouth to mouth through a long line of Teachers. In India a great authority, a high reverence even is ordinarily attached to the written or traditional teaching. All the lines of the Yoga are supposed to be fixed and the Teacher who has received the Shastra by tradition and realised it in practice guides the disciple along the immemorial tracks.”
These words are very important: “All the lines of the Yoga are supposed to be fixed…” If a given process is given you are told what is the first step, what is the second step, what is the third step, what is the eighth step, what is the end of it. And usually you have to master each step little by little. You are not allowed to go to the third step unless you have mastered the first and the second step. If you go to Hatha yogi and say: “I want to be Hatha yogi. I want to master my body.” Then for about five years you are only taught how to breathe properly. Although breathing is our natural process but the scientific way of breathing takes four to five year to learn: how to breathe properly and to master the breathing. During the time when you are learning breathing you are not normally taught how to do asana, postures of the body, they come later on. You are taught how to move forward from one step to the other and even in the second step is allowed the first step only temporarily for a short while. But it is insisted upon to master the first step first then the second step and the third step.