The word “Rājānaka” and the term “Rajanaka Yoga”

I use the word “Rajanaka” without Sanskrit diacritical marks in the title of this blogspot and everywhere else that I use it because it’s become something of an _English_ word, perhaps not well-known but as a proper noun and a “brand name.” So the word with diacritical marks, which is rājānaka, refers to its use in the history of the Sanskrit language while Rajanaka refers to the traditions that I learned from my teacher.

Rājānaka in Sanskrit is a nominal, a noun or adjective that is formed from the word rājā, the stem form is rājan, meaning “king” or “sovereign.” Like “rājan,” which is the stem form that must be declined according to its own paradigm, the stem can be declined as a masculine over feminine noun. The ending -aka is a kind of diminutive that is commonly used to make other forms of words, like the famous Madhyamaka school of Buddhist philosophy, meaning simply the “middle way-er,” the ones who follow the “middle way.” Rājānaka means more literally, “little sovereign” or to put it glibly, sweetly, le petit prince. In fact, it was used as a kind of epithet likely bestowed by patrons who fancied themselves sovereigns on their teachers, counselors, their gurus and learned advisers. In effect, it became a title— there are dozens of such comparable titles— for the learned spiritual and practical guides that instructed their students and patrons. The implication of the literal term was part of my teacher’s chosen usage. Instead of defining his yoga as one in which the yogi becomes a incontrovertible sovereign over the terms of existence, a compete king or queen, as it were, the term’s diminutive sense means that our description, like our goals, are far more modest. To be “Rajanaka” is to be only as sovereign as it is possible, sovereign to the limits of our abilities, to the boundaries of our imperfect humanity. It is a term used here that means to establish a contrast with the majority claims of yoga that involve any notion of “perfection” and its implications. There is no perfect knowledge insofar as knowledgeis always subject to experiment, revision, and reconsideration. There are no perfect beings, only beings that created with the possiblitliy of viability and recursion.  The principal terms in yoga traditions for enlightened beings, words like “Buddha,” “Siddha, “mukta,” these are all intended to describe a state or an individual who is liberated, in a final sense.  These are terms for the perfect being.  Rajanaka Yoga espouses no such attainment or ideal.  We are happy to educate and describe what traditions have taught.  Rajanaka Yoga has only an educational mission. There is no advocacy, no inculcation, no desire to persuade or convert.  We do have opinions and ideas, all of which are wholly compatible with the objectives secular humanist thinking and critical, empirical analysis and methodologies of learning.  In short, “Rājānaka” for us means the inquiry into the the modest, entirely human and humanist goals of life without a shard of dominance or control beyond what is possible and what meets standards of inclusion, decency, and good sense. We aren’t exactly princes or princesses, we are people who see yoga as inviting our possibilities and becoming responsible human beings who exalt in freedom and who seek inclusion of opinion and argument.

Rajanaka as a brand name began when I brought forward these conversations I had with my teacher that began in 1977. His use of the word “Rājānaka” began more actively to describe his worldview, his interpretations, and his ideas about 1983. We needed a simple term to describe our vision in contrast to other traditional schools of yoga. Rajanaka Yoga is heresy by nearly any measure or comparison with other yoga traditions. Just what Rajanaka Yoga teaches is, in part, contained in bits and pieces in this archive. See other posts for more about the definition of the Sanskrit “Rājānaka” and the way Rajanaka Yoga uses the term and develops its own interpretations. Rajanaka Yoga is trademarked so that we can keep the integrity of these teachings and designate it as a proper name describing the very specific collection of ideas and interpretations that have defined it.

What is Rajanaka Yoga about? That’s simple: Rajanaka is about how our learning about life is yoga and how we bring what we have learned about yoga into our lives.

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