The 8 Stages of Raja Yoga

The ladder of divine ascension

[This article is a study culled from various thoughts of different Avyakt vanis down the years. I am deeply thankful to Baapdada, late BK Jagdish bhai and BK Suraj Bhai for the invaluable insights received through Murlis and audio- classes respectively. By stages, I mean the progress path of the soul in Yoga.]

The first stage in R Y is to be a Brahmin; A Brahmin is the one born of Brahma’s knowledge- womb and the one who follows purity, disciplines, service and giving and receiving of wisdom as a culture. These four aspects of Brahmin culture are represented by the lotus, mace, upturned palm of blessing [Hasta] and the conch respectively. Here the Brahmin means a soul irrespective of any physical religion, who practises the said culture and is regenerated through Divine Knowledge.

From the Brahmin, the soul progresses to the second stage of Rejuvenation [Marjeeva]. This is a step in the ladder to wash off or de-condition old patterns of existence. This second stage also brings in its wake, Virtue Assimilation. Virtue Assimilation or Attainment is brought about by constant lessons or tests in the personal drama of the Brahmin Soul. Every soul has some core virtues and some which need to be acquired. The Marjeeva stage tests the virtue levels of the soul under different situations. Virtue Assimilation can take many years depending upon the understanding of the soul. This entire process leads to creating a level of completion in the soul. This stage also factors in the aspect of service and through the service aspects the soul learns the various arts of life. The ‘Dying Alive’ stage is the most comprehensive in the study of Raja yoga. During this stage the following are set up with God:

• Yoga pattern
• Karma Pattern
• Relationship with God
• Self- knowledge or awareness through Ruharihaan [contemplation in God’s company]

The third stage of Raja yoga is the stage of Desire Neutralization. The Marjeevi soul has gained the maturity to differentiate between the various aspects of the Self and is ready to delve further into introspection. During this stage of D.N. the Marjeeva Brahmin, becomes aware of potential and possible desires existing in the soul. Both worldly and spiritual desires come to the fore in the conscious mind. D. N. happens either with or without knowledge. Some desires are fulfilled, some are neutralized and some are eliminated through self- volition or drama situations.

E.g. a Marjeevi may have 3 major desires viz, to teach knowledge, to cook good food and to be a partner to someone. Depending on the karmic situation, maybe one major desire may be fulfilled, the second may be neutralized in the drama and third may be given up with own volition. Awareness and self- mastery over desires is the result of completing this stage. For D.N. the following generally happens:

• Through yoga pattern awareness of desires is received.
• Sublimation and fulfilment patterns are worked out by soul itself or in companionship with God.
• Some desires are played out through service
• Other small scale desires which may eclipse the aura are annihilated, consciously or through yoga power.

D.N. is necessary to cleanse the aura as also to settle old karmic patterns. Most yogis will find that once D. N. is set in motion, many old or existing companion souls, situations, friendship, residences or behaviour patterns may fall away and may be replaced with a new level of Self- Respect. Desire Neutralization leads a Marjeevi to the ignorance of Desire [Ichcha Matram Avidya] stage. True ignorance of desires will be visible immediately in a cleansed soul in the form of an angelic childlike quality and purity of attraction.

The fourth stage of R.Y is Thought purification. The soul now becomes a thought traveller. Till the D.N. stage most patterns, desires and karmic accounts are purified or settled in the form of lesson – giving situations through which the soul receives correction and change through the drama. The fourth stage is for the refined soul who now has to attend to the emanation and creation of thoughts. The soul is given guidance for the following:

• Awareness of subtle thought energies.
• Ability to discern self- thoughts and thoughts of influence.
• Three aspects of thought and time, from conception to, action and fruition.
• A repository of divine thoughts and pure thoughts to substitute all thought components of the soul.
• Receiving and sending thoughts to others,
• Perfection of thought reading and mirror effect.
• Creation of higher self through thoughts
• The subtle energies of Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar in thought form and awareness of World thought Deposit [WTD], and cumulative thought Deposit [CTD].
• Aural and angelic thought communications with other divine beings and understanding the energies of matter and non-matter.

This stage is a precursor to further refinement techniques for cleansing the aura and consciousness of the self. . This stage needs constant practice of being a mirror, where the thought- traveller becomes aware of how all sets of thought are played out due to some Karma. [See 1 below].
The fifth stage or step of R.Y. is the preparation for an Angelic consciousness. During this stage, the soul is exposed to the antithesis of what it has learnt till date. This stage does not have the physical support of the Divine, as experienced in previous stages, except in the form of a friend giving advice. In this stage the soul has to master questions of mercy and benevolence to all, in order to be Godlike. The situations are self- created at the behest of the Divine grid and all tests are self- actualized. This stage is also the stage of learning to be free from karma: the soul has a clear vision of all balance karmas in thought, mind and action. A clear register is built in the mind and like a corridor, through which doorways open, each residual nature or trait and karma thereof is visited. All desires, intentions, ideologies and belief systems are thoroughly questioned and sorted out. Apart from this the soul also goes on to the stage of silence and all interactions with the world reduce, except for sustenance. Detachment from thoughts, cultivating innocence and mercy towards all, acceptance of humanity without any ideology [not even Brahmin ideology} and complete surrender to the divine, are the hallmarks of this stage.

The sixth stage is of Karma-ateet or of going beyond karma, Karma-ateet. The sixth stage of R. Y is the study of going beyond all the four connotations of karma mentioned in Note 1 below. The soul at this stage has already travelled as a Yogi for quite some time and as such mostly finished off its past- birth physical karma retributions. The Marjeevi process has also cleansed out most of the conditionings and attachments. The fifth stage allows for cleansing of thought karma which leads to almost complete reduction in all waste thoughts. The constant company of the divine now guides the soul. This gives rise to a bank account with the divine, where all sustenance activities, residual desire neutralization and any marginal physical or bodily karma is taken care of by the deposits in the bank of God. The soul now reaches the stage of minimal interaction, complete awareness [swa-darshan] and constant aura-incarnation [avyakt stage]. This does not mean to say that the soul goes into some kind of shell [as perceived in other Yoga forms, See Note 1a]. This stage is purely internal but is, definitely visible to other souls.

The Karma-ateet stage is experienced at five levels:

• Beyond matter or body
• Beyond relationships
• Beyond the thoughts of self/ mind
• Beyond all relations with wealth or economics
• Beyond all dualities of nature or physical elements.

The seventh stage of R.Y is the stage of Aikya or Combined. The pursuit of the highest truth in the self, drama, God and the purpose of existence have all been visited in the previous stages. Now the Raja Yogi soul experiences a stage of being combined or totally merged with the divine. It is difficult to know or perceive the differences of self and the soul becomes a complete instrument. At times other souls perceive the God-like qualities of the soul .The consciousness is attached to and expressive of divine consciousness. This is truly the Angelic stage also. In this stage the soul may at times, still, enact a simple role, in the drama, in order to avoid its true self being revealed, [as per instructions of the divine]. However the aura and nature of the soul will be immediately visible as something ethereal to all who comes from being at the epitome of purity and constantly in the company of God. Actions become God- like and devoid of all intentions while complete surrender and translucence of the spirit is visible.

The eighth and final stage of a Raja yogi life is the peak of all attainments. It is the summation of an existence which is completely flawless, in perfect synchronicity with the drama script and the fruition of all thoughts of the highest self. This stage is like a celestial degree if we consider that Raja Yoga is after all a study to purify and exalt the self. This final stage is the seed for the creation of a new world pattern. The three energies which are needed to balance the world order, viz. destruction, creation and sustenance are in complete optimal peak, in a self-master. This stage is the highest glorious state and through the presence of such a perfect soul, new patterns, social orders, new education and ideologies, and the pathways to a world of Oneness are created. As the soul is one with its highest self, it draws others like itself. The Self- masters have the ability to overcome dualities and set in motion purely and only through thoughts alone, the foundation for a world of synchronous existence. This mind exaltation is the fruit of years of unbidden practice of thought purification and the company of the Divine, which help to create, man as an image of God. This stage is the final stage of the Self- Sovereign or Ruler of the Self.

A Self- Sovereign, as mentioned above can order and execute through the timeless waltz of thoughts with other Self- Sovereigns, a reign of actions which can transform both matter and minds to obey them for the creation of a world free of vice, pestilence and disease. The powers of Deityhood are vested in such a Self- Sovereign by the Divine. The soul exists in the physical clothing only to perform the task of rejuvenation of all old energies into new, refreshing divinities.

On renouncing the physical body, such a soul attains the stage of a Deity, the being of spiritual light and might who blesses through presence and thought energies.


1. The journey of a soul in this world drama plays out various aspects of the programming of the soul. The interactions and actions during this play-action journey are given the name Karma in eastern thought. Karma- 1] means action pattern or conditioning, 2] means subconscious store of imprints and records of these actions, which guide a soul through its different life paths in various births. The store of imprints or records makes a soul gravitate towards, birth-parents, people and situations which bear fruit for its previous actions, 3] means destiny in the sense that the soul pre-destined its own journey by its past karma patterns. Then again the fruit of karma of the past is called ‘Pralabdha karma’ 4] karma here means reward or retribution. The above meanings of the word karma are inclusive of the possible nature of the term, “karma”, but not exhaustive.

1a. in the stage of Karma-ateet there are no more, any intentions associated with karma and as such the soul becomes free of the karma or action- fruit- action-interaction cycle totally. Karmaateet stage is an internal yoga stage.

2. The first four stages are the child [baalak] stages whereas the last four stages test the level of maturity or Mastery [maalak stages].

by Aarti