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Friday, February 24, 2017

Raja Yoga or Mental Development by W. W. Atkinson

I have completed the reading of the book on February 24, 2017, the day of Shivaratri in India.

Raja Yoga by W. W. Atkinson is compiled in the complete works of the author. The compilation is published by e-artnow, 2016 copyright and the ISBN number is 978-80-268-4787-8.

Many titles which are included in this compilation are sold separately. They are available on Kindle of Amazon for a very small price below Indian Rupees 50. The whole compilation is also available within that price range. Why is it then that the publisher sells the different titles separately when all the titles are also sold within the same price range? The readers who may get interested in this author, should buy this whole compilation instead of buying separate title. Many of the titles are also available free of cost on many sites in pdf format. One can check it on Wikipedia entry on this author.

Before I write what I have to write about this book, I will like to ask few questions. I have already mentioned about W. W. Atkinson in my other posts and shared my apprehension and doubts about the actual nature of these books and true authorship. The questions are as follows:

  • Who is Yogi Ramachakara?
  • Who is W. W. Atkinson? 
  • Who is Baba Bharat?

Those of us who are from India and can read Hindi may try to focus on the term Ramacharaka. We know about the names like Ramdeva, or Ramchander or Ramchanda or Shivarama or Ramadeen or Ramavtara or Ramakirpa or Sitaram etc. etc.. But has anyone ever been called Ramacharaka?. Well, we talk of Ghanchakara. That has a derogatory connotation. Well, there was a Charaka of Charaka Samihta. He was associated with Ayurveda. But, I believe we do not name anyone as Ramacharaka.

I had started reading this book in January 2017. The reading remained suspended. During the hiatus, I read the Autobiography by Yogananda, the biography of Sri Sri Swami Shamcharan Lahiri, the Great Glory by Sri M, bought a half dozen books, read some pages in those books, undertook a lot of googling on various person, concepts, principles etc., watched a number of YouTube on various people, by various people, and in between kept on writing in my dedicated register the comments on the contents and recorded my impressions, contemplations and reflections on a separate register which are going to be material for a separate blog, a new one, which I have already envisaged for along with this very blog. In between, I have also attended to my mundane affairs and duties which are required to raise finance for continuing my life and activities.

What I have read in this book?

I am going to reproduce my impression of the book. This post is merely the first post on the completion of the reading. I have yet to write about other books also about which I have already displayed the postings.

Now, if there is some dissatisfaction with the book, then one may ask, why do you read his books? I have already pointed out that I bought the book by Ramacharaka because of the portrait on the title and the contents. Later I bought the whole compilation because of its contents. Somewhere, I am not all that amused by the contents. I have found a similar writer on the internet who has raised similar doubts. I will take up the issue in a separate post. There is a need to quote this person here who also encountered the doubts about the actual identity of the author of these books. He is probably living in Netherlands and writes in the Dutch language. He calls himself as Ananda. He claims himself to be initiated by Swami Yogeshwarananda. The address of his web page is He had undertaken some research on the identity of the writer. Regardless of his conclusion, he ends his search by the following observation which I quote:
 "I have bought the books because of their contents."

That is it. Whatsoever, one may feel and think about these books by W. W. Atkinson, whatever may be the doubts about his actual motives and knowledge, whatever may be the level and nature of the contents, the person writes well. You read him because of that.

Now, here I record my first impression. I will write more about it.

Thus it goes:
I take the liberty to pick a phrase from the book itself which appears in the twelfth chapter, which is the last chapter in the book. It is worded "Success Talks". I quote the lines wherein it has appeared.

The author writes, "In this lesson, we do not purpose 'Success Talks' for our students."

The line quoted will convey that the last lesson or the Chapter 12, titled, "Sub-Conscious Influences" is of the nature of a 'Success Talks'. Well in a way, part of it is like that throughout the book. That is not what Raja Yoga is. No doubt, the author himself has defined the title with an adjective "Mental Development".

Adopting a Hermeneutics approach, from the contents of the book, it is clear that this book was completed in the year 1906.

I have made some comments on each chapter which will appear again on this blog. However, the contents of those impressions can be reproduced here to explain the various features and nature of the book.

I reproduce.

The comment was made in Chapter 12. It goes like this.

I have never seen a writer from Western world criticising some major trends of the western life. He is not doing it with that idea but they are definitely a comment on the western life and thinking which was developing in America in the 1910s. It was a period of the history of America when it was dominated by Progressivism, guided by Theodore Roosevelt and Taft. On one hand, America found that in the race of Imperialism, the big Bosses were on the Continent and America stood nowhere in the race. But, America had a spirit to continue with its efforts regardless of what Muckrackers to trying to tell America about the Americans. However, taking the side of Yogic Teachers and supporting their thoughts, he is critical of some New Thinking Wave in the western world in the field of Psychology or rather Social Psychology which had talked about "Power of Thought".

The book reveals that many new changes were taking place and birth and growing to strength by the end of the nineteenth century. The author is also pursuing the methods of New Thought Wave which otherwise seems to mean the East Philosophy and to be specific, the Yoga Thought (Not merely the postures and exercises associated with that).

It is intriguing and interesting to observe that in the first decade of the twentieth century, the western world got attracted towards the concept and principles of Yoga. It was only in 1892, that Swami Vivekanand spoke to the people of America after reaching there. Before that Wiliam Jones had talked about the Indian literate in the 1790s through Bengal Asiatic society. In 1920, Swami Yogananda had reached America. In between some more Yoga teachers had reached the shores of America. When you try to list all of them, the set of such recording or data will impart you a picture. In that picture, or with such activities in the background, if you reach the work of W. W. Atkinson, it gives a shiver and sense of amazement that how the thought can be real forces.

On the whole, a reluctant or superficial or conceited person may find this book a set of lessons on "Success Talks" of a group. However, such a person, if without appeal to any faith factor but with a confidence in one's own ability to get to the truth, with a spirit of scientific spirit, approaches these lesson, he will find that they are not merely "Success Talks". That can be a feature of the content. On the whole, there is more depth in the topics taken and discussed on which the author has written and with his ability to write a catching narration, he has met with a success.

One of the feature I will like to emphasise. Every chapter ends with a small paragraph. It is titled Mantras. It consists of a set of positive assertions. I have found the same feature with the writings of Shuddhaanandaa Brahmchari in his writing titled "The Incredible Life of a Himalayan Yogi, The Times, Teachings and Living Shiva: Baba Lokenath Brahmachari published by Lokenath Divine Life Mission, Kolkata. He ends every chapter with a paragraph titled "Meditation". Did he read W. W. Atkinson and followed him. He had called himself as "Motivational Speaker". I have made a posting on him in this blog elsewhere.

I will also like to reproduce a comment which I have made in the case of Chapter 11. It will be again repeated. It is in Hindi. It talks about another feature of the writing.

इस chapter में ऐसा लगा कि मुख्य रूप में यह एक Self Improvement की किताब है । किताब का नाम राज योग है । मुख्य विचारक तो पतञ्जलि है। उस के संभंध में कहीं कुछ नहीं कहा गया है। व्यख्या का स्वरूप ऐसा है कि यह कहने में कोई दोष नहीं होता कि यह Self Improvement की किताब है जिस में कुछ सुझाव, विचार और suggestions दी गयी हैं। यह पुस्तक आप को Auto-suggestions सुझाव मात्र ही दे रहीं हैं ।

यहाँ'तक पहुँच कर एक रूप और स्पष्ट होता है । कथन के दो हिस्से रहते है। योगी पद्धतियों से एक सम्मिकरण उठाया जाता है। उन पर चन्द शब्दों का प्रयोग किया जाता है। यह एक हिस्सा बनता है।

दुसरे हिस्से में एक व्याख्या होती है जिस की रचना पश्चमी समाज के बुद्धिजीविओं के कथनों के संग्रह से की जाती है। His selection of the western scholars is quite specific. The explanation can be termed as a motivational and psychological counselling.

इस में कोई संदेह नहीं की लेखक पश्चमी समाज के पाठकों को ध्यान में रख कर लिख रहा है। वह राज योग के सिद्धान्तों की जानकारी तो  दे रहा है पर वह इतना सजग है कि वह कहीं भी किसी संस्कृत श्लोक,संस्कृत शब्द और भारतीय ऋषि की चर्चा नहीं करता है। वह ज्यादा से ज्यादा इतना लिखता है कि योगी ऐसा करते थे या योगी वैसा करते हैं । उस से आगे वह जो भी कहता है वह पश्चमी साहित्य के प्रयोग के माध्यम से ही कहा गया है।

These are some common features which one can observe throughout the book.

I will also write observations on individual chapters. They are required to be shown and displayed. As the other observer on the internet has said, his books are read because of its contents. You may have your own reservations on many issues about W. W. Atkinson. But, you can spend time on it. You must have some liking for the esoteric learning and spiritual learning. You should not be biased. You should not have a rigid stance. You can appreciate the contents.

Thus I read this book.


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