Monday, March 19, 2018

20 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 11 (Continued)
Dharana (concentration) is fixing the mind on an idea or a point or object either internal or external
Notes and Commentary
Retire into a quiet room; sit on padmasana. Close your eyes. See what happens when you concentrate on an apple. You may think of its colour, shape, size and its different parts such as skin, pulp, seeds, etc. You may think of the places (Australia or Kashmir) wherefrom it is imported. You may think of its acidic or sweet taste and its effects on the digestive system and blood. Through law of association ideas of some other fruits also may try to enter. The mind may entertain some other extraneous ideas. It may begin to wander about. It may think of meeting a friend at the railway station at 4 p.m. It may think of purchasing a towel or a tin of tea and biscuits. It may ponder over some unpleasant happening that occurred the previous day. You must try to have a definite line of thought. There must not be any break in the line of thinking. You must not allow other thoughts which are not connected with the object on hand to enter. You will have to struggle hard to get success in this direction. The mind will try its level best to run in the old grooves and to take its old familiar road or old beaten path. The attempt is somewhat like going uphill. You will rejoice when you get even some success in concentration. Just as law of gravitation, cohesion, etc., operate in the physical plane, so also definite laws of thought such as law of association, law of relativity, law of continuity, etc., operate in the mental plane or thought-world. Those who practise concentration should thoroughly understand these laws. When the mind thinks of an object, it may think of its qualities and its parts also. When it thinks of a cause, it may think of its effects also.
If emotions disturb you during concentration, do not mind them. They will pass away soon. If you try to drive them, you will have to tax your will-force. Have an indifferent attitude. The vedantin uses the formulae: "I don't care. Get out. I am a sakshi (witness of the mental modifications)" to drive the emotions. The devotee simply prays and help comes from God.
Train the mind in concentration on various subjects, gross and subtle, and of various sizes, small, medium, and big. In course of time a firm habit of concentration will be formed. The moment you sit for concentration the mood will come at once quite easily. When you read a book, you must read it with concentration. There is no use skipping over the pages in a hurried manner. Read one page in the Gita. Close the book. Concentrate on what you have read. Find out parallel lines in Mahabharata, Upanishads and Bhagavatam. Compare and contrast.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

19 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 11 (Continued)
Dharana (concentration) is fixing the mind on an idea or a point or object either internal or external
Notes and Commentary
When hatha yogis concentrate their minds on the six supports (the sad-chakras), they concentrate their minds on the respective presiding deities also, viz., Ganesha, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra Ishvara and Sadashiva. Control the breath through pranayama. Subdue the senses through pratyahara. And then fix the mind either on a form or the formless Brahman. According to hatha yogic school, a yogi who can suspend his breath by kumbhak for 20 minutes can have very good dharana. He will have a very tranquil mind. Pranayama steadies the mind, removes vikshepa (distraction) and increases the power of concentration. Those who practise khecari mudra by cutting the frenum lingue and lengthening the tongue and fixing it in the hole in the palate by taking upwards will have good dharana.
Those who practise concentration evolve quickly. They can do any work with scientific accuracy and great efficiency. What others do in six hours can be done by one who has concentration within half an hour. What others can read in six hours, can be read by one who does concentration within half an hour. Concentration purifies and calms the surging emotions, strengthens the current of thought and clarifies the ideas. Concentration helps a man in his material progress also. He will turn out a very good amount of work in his office or business house. What was cloudy and hazy before becomes clear and definite. What was difficult before becomes easy now and what was complex, bewildering and confusing before comes easily within the mental grasp. You can achieve anything through concentration. Nothing is impossible for a man who practises regular concentration. It is very difficult to practise concentration when one is hungry and when one is suffering from an acute disease. He who practises concentration will possess very good health and very clear mental vision.
If you read with concentration the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana or the eleventh skanda of Bhagavatam several times, you will get new ideas each time. Through concentration you will get penetrative insight. Subtle, esoteric meanings will flash out in the field of mental consciousness. You will understand inner depths of philosophical significance. When you concentrate on any object do not wrestle with the mind. Avoid tension anywhere in the body or mind. Think gently of the object in a continuous manner. Do not allow the mind to wander away.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

18 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 11 (Continued)
Dharana (concentration) is fixing the mind on an idea or a point or object either internal or external
Notes and Commentary
You can concentrate internally on any of the seven plexus or chakras or centres of spiritual energy, or at the tip of the nose, or tip of the tongue or externally on the picture of any devata (deity), Hari, Hara, Krishna or Devi. You can concentrate on the tick-tick sound of a watch or the flame of a candle, or on a black point on a wall, or on a pencil or rose flower or any pleasing object. This is concrete concentration. There can be no concentration without something upon which the mind may rest. The mind can be fixed easily on a pleasing object such as jasmine flower, mango, orange or a loving friend. It is difficult to fix the mind in the beginning on any object which it dislikes such as faecal matter, cobra, enemy, ugly face, etc. Practise concentration till the mind is well established on the object of concentration. When the mind runs away from the object of concentration, bring it back again and again to the object. Lord Krishna says: "As often as the wavering and unsteady mind goes forth, so often reining it in, let him bring it under the control of the self." (Gita Ch. VI - 26.)
If you want to increase your power of concentration you will have to reduce your worldly activities. You will have to observe mauna (vow of silence) for two hours daily. A man whose mind is filled with passion and all sorts of fantastic desires can hardly concentrate on any object even for a second. His mind will be oscillating like a balloon. Regulate and master the breath. Subdue the senses and then fix the mind on any pleasing object. Associate the ideas of holiness and purity with the object.
You can concentrate on the space between the two eyebrows (trikuti). You can concentrate on the mystic sounds (anahata dhvani) that you hear from your right ear. You can concentrate on Om picture. The picture of Lord Krishna with flute in hand and the picture of Lord Vishnu with conch, discus, mace and lotus are very good for concentration. You can concentrate on the picture of your guru or any saint also. Vedantins try to fix the mind on Atman, the inner Self. This is their dharana.
Dharana is the sixth stage or limb of ashtanga yoga or raja yoga of Patanjali Maharshi. In dharana you will have only one vritti or wave in the mind-lake. The mind assumes the form of only one object. All other operations of the mind are suspended or stopped. He who can practise real concentration for half or one hour will have tremendous psychic powers. His 'will' also will be very powerful.

Friday, March 16, 2018

17 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 11
Dharana (concentration) is fixing the mind on an idea or a point or object either internal or external
Notes and Commentary
It is very difficult to say where concentration ends and meditation begins. Meditation follows concentration. Purify the mind first through the practice of yama (self-control) and niyama (discipline). Then take to the practice of dharana. Concentration without purity is of no use. There are some occultists who are much advanced in concentration. But they have no good character. That is the reason why they do not make any progress in the spiritual path. Some foolish, impatient yogic students take to dharana at once without undergoing the preliminary ethical training. They want to have a long jump. They break their legs and fall down. This is a serious blunder. Ethical perfection is of paramount importance.
Concentration is steadfastness of mind. If you remove all causes of distraction, your power of concentration will increase. A true brahmachari (celibate) who has preserved his virya (vitality) will have wonderful concentration. Attention plays a prominent part in concentration. He who has developed his power of attention will have good concentration. You should be able to visualise very clearly the object of concentration even in its absence. You must call up the mental picture in a moment's notice. If you have good practice in concentration you can do this without difficulty. He who has gained success in pratyahara (abstraction) by withdrawing the indriyas (senses) from the various objects will have good concentration. You will have to march in the spiritual path step by step, stage by stage. Lay the foundation of yama (right conduct), niyama, asana (posture), pranayama and pratyahara to start with. The super-structure of dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi will be successful then only.
Asana is bahiranga sadhana (external practice); dhyana is antaranga sadhana (internal). When compared with dhyana and samadhi, even dharana is bahiranga sadhana. He who has steady asana and has purified the yoga-nadis and the pranamaya kosha (vital sheath) through pranayama will be able to concentrate easily.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

16 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 10
Prakriti operates through three gunas
Notes and Commentary
Satva, rajas and tamas are the three gunas or qualities of the mind. Satva is purity or light or knowledge. Rajas is passion or activity. Tamas is inertia or darkness. By checking rajas and tamas you can increase the satva. When the satva is increased the mind becomes steady like the flame of a lamp in a windless place. He who is satvic can do real concentration and meditation and can enter into samadhi (super-conscious state) easily. A rajasic man loves power and objects of sense. A tamasic man does vicious actions on account of ignorance. Satva cannot stand by itself. It is mixed with disturbing rajas and tamas. When there is preponderance of satva, rajas and tamas get controlled. But they lurk in the mind all the same.
Where there is increase of satva, there is brightness, lightness, joy, purity, strength, peace and illumination. Your important duty is to increase satva and control the senses and the mind. 
Other duties are secondary only. A sensible man only can understand this point.
The mind is wandering (ksipta) and unsteady through the disturbing energy rajas (passion) which makes the mind run towards various sensual objects. The mind becomes (mudha) forgetful when it is filled with tamas (inertia). Deep sleep supervenes on account of excess of tamas.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

15 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 9
Pleasure also must be given up as pain
Notes and Commentary
Pleasure that is derived from sensual objects gives pain to one who discriminates. Worldly-minded persons who have lost the faculty of discrimination, rejoice in sensual objects on account of lack of discrimination. They weep in old age. You weep when you are born. You weep when you die. You weep in the interval also. Where then is pleasure in the world? Learn to discriminate. Become a yogi. Yoga will I put an end to all sorts of pain. Yoga will destroy all kleshas (afflictions). Wake up. Open your eyes. Practise yoga, my child!
Sensual pleasure is momentary, deceptive, illusory and imaginary. A mustard seed of pleasure is mixed with a mountain of pain. Enjoyment cannot bring about satisfaction of a desire. On the contrary, it makes the mind more restless after enjoyment through intense craving (trishnas and vasanas). Sensual pleasure is the cause of birth and death. This body is nothing but a mass of flesh, bone, and all sorts of filth.
Place before the mind the fruits of Self-realisation or life in the soul or Brahman or the eternal such as immortality, eternal bliss, supreme peace and infinite knowledge. If you remember these points always, the mind will be weaned from the cravings for sensual pleasure. Vairagya, viveka and mumukshutwa (dispassion, discrimination from the real and unreal and keen longing for liberation from birth and death) will dawn. You should seriously look into the defects of the sensual life and into the unreal nature of worldly life.
Just as pure gold which has been treated in the crucible with borax, etc., and rendered pure, shines brilliantly, so also the yogi, whose mind is rendered pure by the agents of vairagya and abhyasa, becomes a lustrous person.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

14 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 8 (Continued)
Perception comes only when the mind is connected with the centre and external instrument
Notes and Commentary
When you are deeply engaged in solving a mathematical problem, you do not hear any sound though your friends shout loudly by your side. Tram-cars and motor-cars run about in the street. If you are deeply engaged in something, you do not hear them. Why? Because your mind was not linked with the organ of hearing. The indriyas cannot do anything by themselves. They need the help of their master, the mind, at every moment. It is the mind that sees, hears, tastes, smells and feels. Senses simply transmit the sense-vibrations from outside to the mind.
The table that you see is a mental kalpana (imagination). This table, though you see it externally, really exists in your mind. A mental picture or image plus external something is the table. That which exists outside is unknown and unknowable. Mind reacts to external vibrations and you see the external universe. If there is no mind there is no universe. Where is the world for you during deep sleep? Hence this world is termed as manomatra jagat or manahkalpita jagat. This mind is the universe. There is no world apart from the mind.
How can a tiny lens produce a big image of a mountain? A small image is produced by the lens, the retina and the optic centre. It is the mind that develops and enlarges it. All the pictures do already exist in the mind. What you perceive as a big mountain outside is only the mental image plus some external unknowable something.
If you say: 'there is nothing outside', why do you run after food and water when you are hungry and thirsty? If everything is within, you should get satisfaction from hunger and thirst from within only. But it is not the case. There is something outside, call it avivarta (appearance) of Brahman, vilasa (expansion) of maya, chamatkara (trick) of avidya (ignorance), parinama (modification) of Vishnu, electrical waves of scientists, combination of anus (atoms) of Kanada or tatva (elemental) Vilasa. It does not matter much.

Monday, March 12, 2018

13 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 8
Perception comes only when the mind is connected with the centre and external instrument
Notes and Commentary
Modification of mind is known as parinama. When milk is changed into curd, it is also parinama. Even so the mind gets modified into a vritti by assuming the form of the object it perceives. Knowledge of perception is a kind of transformation (parinama) of the mind.
Some people sleep with their eyes open. The object is there. The centre of vision is there and yet they cannot see the object. Why? Because the mind is not there. Therefore three things are necessary for perception of an object viz., the physical instrument, the external fleshy eyes which act as windows to the soul; the centre of the vision in the brain and the mind. It is the mind that really sees. It is the commander of the five senses. The senses carry the vibrations from outside to the mind. They are avenues of sense-knowledge.
According to Sankhya philosophy, it is the purusha or soul that is the real perceiver of an object. The sense transmits the sense-vibrations to the mind, and the mind in its turn presents the vibrations to the prime minister of the soul, the buddhi or intellect, the discriminative faculty, which is very close to the soul. Now, reaction comes in. With the reaction of the buddhi egoism manifests side by side. Then the whole thing is presented to purusha who really perceives all objects.
If the physical instrument, eye, is not in a good working order owing to cataract or any other disease, you cannot have perception of an object. The eye may be all right, but if the centre of vision that is situated in the occipital lobe of the brain at the back of the skull does not function properly owing to the diseases of this particular lobe of the brain, in that case also you can have hardly any perception of any object. The eye and the centre of the vision may be in sound condition, but if the mind is not linked with the centre and the external eye, you can hardly have perception of any object. Sometimes a man says: "I did not hear. I did not see. My mind was elsewhere." You will find such instances in your daily life.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

12 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 7
Chitta is the mind-stuff from which the vrittis arise
Notes and Commentary
The thinking principle is a comprehensive expression equivalent to the Sanskrit term antahkarana. Antahkarana is a broad term used in vedanta. It includes manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), chitta and ahamkara (egoism or self-asserting principle).
The one mind assumes the three other forms, buddhi, chitta and ahamkara according to the different functions it performs (vrittibheda), just as one man is a judge in courts, president in a sabha, store-keeper in a store and general secretary of a managing committee. Manas is a sankalpavikalpatmaka (willing and doubting), It thinks whether to go to a place or not, whether to do this or not, and whether this is good or bad. The mind is of a doubting nature.
Buddhi (intellect) nischayatmaka (certitude). It is the determining faculty, It is that light of buddhi that determines one way or the other. I must go to Dehra Dun by this evening train. I must do this work. This is good. Chitta does the function of anusandhana (contemplation) and dharana (concentration). The function of memory also belongs to chitta. According to yoga philosophy, chitta is the mind-stuff or the mental substance; and the mind, intellect, and egoism are various processes in the mind-stuff.
Ahamkara is the self-arrogating principle. It does the function of abhimana (identification). It creates mamata (mineness). This is the root cause of all human sufferings. All vrittis hang upon this one "Aham Vritti" ('I' thought). It is the root cause of human ignorance.
It should be distinctly borne in mind that the thinking principle - mind - is not the Atman (Self) who is the fountain-source of all consciousness or knowledge. Just as a piece of iron moves in the presence of a mighty magnet, so also the little mind moves in the presence of the majestic Atman. Just as a minister works with fear in the presence of a king, so also the mind works in the same way in the presence of the king of kings, the Atman. Just as a mirror borrows its light from the sun, so also the mind borrows its light from the Atman, the Supreme Being.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

11 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 6
Thought is a thing. Thought is a dynamic force
Notes and Commentary
Thought is as much a thing as the yonder piece of stone. It has weight, colour, shape, size and form. Thought is a dynamic force. It is caused by the vibrations of psychic prana (sukshma prana) on the mental substance. It is a force like gravitation, cohesion or repulsion. Thought travels or moves. Thought has got tremendous power. Thought can heal diseases. Thoughts can transform the mentality of persons. Thought can do anything. It can work wonders. The velocity of thought is unimaginable.
Thought is a finer force. This is supplied to us by food. If you read Chhandogya Upanishad - the dialogue between Uddalaka and Swetaketu - you will understand this point well. If the food is pure, thought also becomes pure. He who has pure thoughts speaks very powerfully and produces deep impression on the minds of the hearers by his speech. He influences thousands of persons through his pure thoughts. A pure thought is sharper than the edge of a razor. Entertain always pure sublime thoughts. Thought-culture is an exact science.
Thinking is of four kinds, viz., symbolic thinking, instinctive thinking, impulsive thinking and habitual thinking. Thinking through words is symbolic thinking. Instincts are more powerful than impulses. Thoughts of body, food, drink, bath, etc., are habitual thinking. You can stop easily symbolic thinking. It is difficult to stop instinctive and impulsive thinking.
Thought is a great force. Thought has tremendous power. It can be transmitted from one man to another man. You can move the world through thought-force. The powerful thoughts of great sages (rishis) of yore are still recorded in the akasha (akashic records). Yogis who have clairvoyant vision can perceive those thought-images. They can read them. You are surrounded by an ocean of thought. You are floating in the ocean of thought. You are absorbing certain thoughts and repelling some in the thought-world.
Everyone has his own thought-world. Through practice of yama, niyama, pranayama and meditation, you can change impure thoughts into suitable pure thoughts. Meditation fills the mind with cheerful, powerful, satvic thoughts.

Friday, March 9, 2018

10 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 5 (Continued)
A vritti is a 'whirlpool' in the mind-lake
Notes and Commentary
By destroying the vrittis one by one, you gain more and more mental strength (manasic bala) and spiritual strength (atma bala). Do the practice and feel the strength yourself. The annihilation of even one vritti will give you strength to destroy the second vritti that is tormenting you. Patience, perseverance and persistent sadhana are necessary. How difficult is it to get the M.A. degree? How much more difficult should it be, if you want to attain the state of immortality and absolute freedom? Just as you remove a small pebble that causes irritation to your feet, so also you should then and there remove every vritti that torments the mind. Unless and until you are able to do so, you have not gained any real mental strength or spiritual power. Just as you extract a tooth and then chuck it away, so also you should extract a disturbing vritti and cast it aside. Raja Yoga teaches how to extract or root out the disturbing thoughts. You will have to pay a heavy price for mastering this yoga.
Ignorant people identify themselves with the body, mind and the vrittis of the mind. The mind and the body are instruments only. The real man is behind the mind. If you become one with the mind, body and vritti, you get various sorts of miseries and sufferings. The whole universe is created by the vrittis of the mind only. If these mental waves or thought-waves subside, you can attain the absolute state. Just as you can clearly see the bottom of a lake when the ripples and waves subside, so also you can cognise your real Self when the vrittis that agitate your mind subside.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

9 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 5
A vritti is a 'whirlpool' in the mind-lake
Notes and Commentary
Vritti literally means a whirlpool. It is a thought-wave in the lake of chitta. Chitta is the mind-stuff or mental substance. It takes various forms. These forms constitute vrittis. It gets transformed or modified (parinama). These transformations and modifications are the thought-waves, whirlpools or vrittis. If the chitta thinks of a mango, the vritti of a mango is formed in the lake of chitta. This will subside and another vritti will be formed when it thinks of milk (milk-vritti). 
Countless vrittis are rising and subsiding in the ocean of chitta. These vrittis cause restlessness of mind. Why do vrittis arise from chitta? Because of samskaras (habits) and vasanas (desires). If you annihilate all desires, all vrittis will subside by themselves. When a vritti subsides it leaves a definite impression in the subconscious mind. It is known as samskara or latent impression. The sum-total of all samskaras is known as karmasaya (receptacle of works). This is sanchita karma (accumulated work). When a man leaves the physical body, he carries with him his astral body of seventeen tatvas and the karmasaya as well to the mental plane. This karmasaya is burnt by the highest knowledge obtained through asamprajnata samadhi.
Modification is a vritti in the mind. When the vritti subsides it assumes the subtle state of potency or samskara in the chitta or subconscious mind. This potency again becomes a vritti under suitable conditions, when the mind comes in contact with sensual objects or through memory of objects from stimulus within. There are degrees in the vrittis or modifications that arise from the mind. You can check or control the lower vritti with the help of higher vrittis or transformations. For instance, anger is a lower vritti or a vritti of a lower degree. Kshama (forgiveness) is a vritti of a higher degree. With the help of kshama you can control the lower vritti, anger. You can become a yogarudha (one who is established in yoga) by controlling all the vrittis of the mind. The yogi does not annihilate himself by controlling all the vrittis or modifications of the mind. By suppressing the transformations of the mind he acquires great powers. He becomes an (adept or perfect being) siddha.
Although the mind is one, it passes into many conditions or states, as it is made up of three qualities (gunas) satva, rajas and tamas. All these qualities enter into a variety of combinations. The modifications or vrittis of the mind are also various. Peace of mind is a satvic vritti. Lust is a rajasic vritti. Laziness is a tamasic vritti.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

8 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 4
Learn the yoga under a guru
Notes and Commentary
Learn the yoga under a guru (preceptor). Then only will you be able to understand the subtle points. Get practical lessons also from him. Then alone you will grow rapidly. He will remove your doubts and show you the right path, because he has already trodden the path himself. He will point out the pitfalls, snares, etc., that tempt and deceive the aspirants on the path. He will inspire his disciples.
Just as water flows from a higher level to a lower level, so also the grace of the guru flows towards the disciple if the latter has a true receptive attitude and sincere faith in his guru. Just as electricity flows from a positive charge battery towards the negative pole, even so the power, energy, love, wisdom and spiritual current flow from the master mind of a yogi towards the lesser mind of the disciple.
Even in cooking and typewriting you want a guru to guide. When such is the case with ordinary matters and secular sciences, what to speak of the science of yoga which treats of sublime spiritual matters and transcendental questions? The mysteries of knowledge are handed down from guru to disciple.
Books also can help you. They will inspire you. They can guide you only to a certain extent. You will have to practise for yourself yama, niyama or the rules of right conduct before you approach a guru. You can start the minor practices asana, pranayama, some concentration exercises, etc., with the help of books. Books written by realised persons can serve the purpose of a guru till you come in personal contact with a realised yogi or adept. You can also get help from senior aspirants in the path of yoga.
Make a programme of your life. Draw up a spiritual routine. Stick to it systematically and regularly. Apply diligently. Never waste a single minute. Life is short. Time is fleeting. That "tomorrow" will never come - now or never.
Stand up with a firm resolve: "I will become a yogi this very moment." Gird up your loins. Do rigid, constant yoga sadhana or yoga abhyasa. If you are very sincere in your practice and if your mind is filled with burning vairagya (dispassion) and keen longing for liberation (mumukshutwa), you can reach perfection within six months.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

7 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 3
Now there is communion with the Lord
Notes and Commentary
The word 'Yoga' comes from the Sanskrit root 'Yuj' which means 'to join'. By the practice of yoga, the individual soul (jivatma) is united with the supreme soul (paramatma). Yoga means union with God. Then all samsara (cycle of birth and death) comes to an end. 
Yoga kills all sorts of pain - miseries and tribulations. Yoga frees you from the samsaric wheel of birth and death. Yoga gives you various powers and liberation through jnana (self-knowledge). Therefore drink the elixir or nectar of immortality and become a yogi. "Tasmat yogi bhava Arjuna." (Gita, Ch. VI - 46.) Union with God is the goal of human life. It is the be all and end all of our existence. It is the summum bonum
The Lord (Ishvara) of raja, yoga is a special purusha (person) who is not affected by the five afflictions and the fruit of actions and desires. His name or symbol is Om. He is indicated by the mono syllable Om. He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc.

Do real sadhana, my dear children
(Do real sadhana .... )
sadhana   sadhana   sadhana   sadhana
To free yourself from birth and death
And enjoy the highest bliss I will tell you the surest way
Kindly hearken with greatest care
(Do real sadhana ....)

Acquire first sadhana chatushtaya,
Then proceed to the feet of sadguru, 
After having shravan and manan,
Then do practise nidhidhyasan,
(Do real sadhana ....)

Remove first the old, old dehaadhyas,
By repeating Shivoham Bhavana,
Then remove the veil, avarana,
You will rest in your own swaroop.
(Do real sadhana ....)

Monday, March 5, 2018

6 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 2
Yoga is the restraint of thought-waves
Notes and Commentary
Now I proceed to explain the system of yoga philosophy in brief and bring home to the readers the salient and vital points in the yogic system. Yoga teaches how to control the vrittis (thought waves) of the mind and get freedom. Yoga teaches how to curb the outgoing mind and attain one's pure state of bliss by going beyond the mind. Yoga teaches how to transmute the unregenerate nature and attain the state of divinity. Yoga is a complete suppression of the tendency of the mind to transform itself into objects, thoughts, etc.
Raja Yoga is an exact science. One can ascend the yogic ladder patiently through its different rungs. The highest summit of the ladder is asamprajnata samadhi (super-consciousness), wherein all the samskaras (mental impressions), which bring about successive births, are absolutely fried up. The eight limbs of ashtanga yoga are: yama (self-restraint), niyama (religious observances or canons), asana (posture), pranayama (restraint of breath), pratyahara (abstraction of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (superconscious state).
This is one kind of classification of yoga: karma, upasana, raja yoga and jnana. This is yogatraya (three-fold yoga). Upasana is bhakti. Another classification is mantra yoga, laya yoga, hatha yoga and raja yoga. Mantra Yoga is recitation of mantras as "Om Namah Shivaya" of Lord Siva, "Om Namo Narayanaya" of Lord Vishnu, Gayatri, etc. Laya Yoga is kundalini yoga. Nada anusadhana (concentration on anahata sounds of heart) is also laya yoga. Laya means dissolution. The mind is dissolved in God.
Hatha Yoga relates to the restraint of breath (pranayama), asanas, bandhas, mudras, etc. 'Ha' and 'tha' mean the union of sun and moon, union of prana and apana. Hatha means any obstinate practice till the object or end is achieved. Hatha is sticking to some spiritual practices. Mauna (vow of silence), trataka (steady gazing), crystal-gazing, standing on one leg (a kind of austerity) etc., are all hatha practices. Hatha Yoga is not separate from raja yoga. It prepares the student to take up raja yoga. Hatha Yoga is concerned with the breath (prana) and the physical body. Pranayama purifies the pranamaya kosha (vital sheath).

Sunday, March 4, 2018

5 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 1
Now yoga is explained
Notes and Commentary
Yoga is the state wherein there is no sankalpa vikalpa (thought or doubt). Yoga is the control of mind and its modifications. Yoga is the equal state between jivatma (soul) and paramatma (God). The word 'Yogi' signifies an aspirant or a student in the path of yoga, as well as a full blown developed adept in yoga. He who is fully established in the highest nirvikalpa samadhi (super-consciousness) is a yogi. He who practises yoga is also a yogi. A 'raja yogi' is otherwise known as 'dhyana yogi'. Dhyana means meditation. It is the continuous flow of one idea of God. Raja Yoga aims at controlling all thought-waves or mental modifications. It concerns with the mind, its purification and control. Hence it is called, 'Raja Yoga, King of Yogas'. It is otherwise known as ashtanga yoga (yoga with eight limbs).
A sutra means a thread or aphorism or terse saying. Each sutra is pregnant with high, sublime ideas. Without the help of commentary, it is difficult to understand the meanings of the aphorisms. Just as flowers or pearls are studded in a string or a thread, even so, philosophical or spiritual ideas are studded in a sutra or thread.
Food (ahara), sleep (nidra), fear (bhaya), and coition (maithuna) are common to both animals and human beings. But man has got intelligence, power of discrimination (viveka) and power of enquiry (vichara shakti); with the help of these special powers, he can realise his Self and can know his true nature. Even devas (gods) are envious of human beings. Because deva yoni (divine species) is mere bhoga yoni (enjoyment), they can enjoy only with a daivic (divine) body. Man has got both karma yoni (activity) and bhoga yoni. He can do nishkamya karma yoga and attain jnana through chittashuddhi (purity of mind). He can take recourse to various yogic practices for spiritual unfoldment and can become a full-blown yogi in this birth. Horses and dogs possess minds. But they have neither discrimination nor intelligence nor vichara shakti. Hence it is not possible for them to attain freedom.
You will find in Yajnavalkya Smriti that Hiranyagarbha was the original teacher of yoga. Patanjali Maharishi is only a compiler or explainer of the yogic principles and tenets taught and practised by Hiranyagarbha and others.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

4 March

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 13
Take stock of the past year. Turn back the leaves of your spiritual diary. Mark your spiritual progress. Note how far you have advanced in cultivating virtues, like humility, courage, truthfulness, cosmic love, purity, etc., and in the control of the senses.
Even if there is a setback in certain things, nil desperandum. March forward, O adhyatmic (spiritual) hero. Look not back. A brilliant future is awaiting you.
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God is the source of all happiness. All beings abide in Him. He is an embodiment of peace, wisdom and bliss. He is truth, love, beauty and goodness. All beings abide in Him.
God is one, God and His laws are one. God is love and law. God is pure spirit. God is the path and the goal. God alone is your real father, mother, friend and guru.
Realise God now and here and be happy for ever.
- - -
The deeper a man's love of God is, the greater is his spiritual knowledge, in due proportion to his capacity and depth of love.
The final consummation of the love of God is union with God.
Love of God is inborn in a man by virtue of his spiritual evolution.
May you live in God.
- - -
To realise God is your duty. God-realisation is your birth right. Develop strong yearning for God-realisation.
Have confidence in your self. Be self-controlled. Be fiery in your determination. Stick to your resolves tenaciously.
Cultivate a very strong faith in God. Do total self-surrender and obtain His grace.
May you be established in God-consciousness.
- - -
I shall tell you about the nature of the Atman or Brahman.
The Supreme Self or Atman abides in the chambers of your heart. It is the substratum of this world, mind, prana (life), body and senses.
It is satchidananda. It is immortal, infinite, eternal, ever pure, ever free, perfect and independent. It is one without a second. It is truth and wisdom. It is formless and attributeless. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

3 March

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 12
Self-realisation is not a process. It is not a becoming. It is pure being. It is not a new thing to be attained.
The aspirant knows that he is the all-pervading, immortal soul. To know that is to become that.
Self-realisation is direct, intuitive perception of the Atman. All distinctions vanish. The sage is freed from fear, sorrow and pain. 
- - -
Do not get false contentment. Do not imagine that you have reached the highest nirvikalpa state, and stop your sadhana (practice).
Slay spiritual pride. Shun the company of worldly persons who always talk on sexual matters, money and worldly topics.
Observe the laws of health and hygiene. Be moderate in eating and drinking. Do not overwork. This will produce fatigue.
- - -
Fight bravely in this battle of life. Be bold. Be cheerful. Be patient. Be wise.
Arm yourself with the shield of discrimination and the sword of dispassion. March forward courageously, O brave spiritual soldier. Yield not to temptations.
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Yoga is an exact science. It aims at the harmonious development of the body, the mind and the soul.
Thou art divine. Live up to it. Feel and realise thy divine nature.
- - -
Yoga of Synthesis is a unique yoga. It is suitable for the vast majority of persons.
Man thinks, feels and wills. He must develop his heart, intellect and hand. Then alone can he attain perfection or integral development.
Everyone should have one yoga as a basic yoga. He must combine karma yoga, hatha yoga, raja yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga. This is the Yoga of Synthesis.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

2 March

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 11
Walk the Brahman way. Brahmacharya is walking with God or Brahman. Brahmacharya is the Brahman way.
Regard a woman as mother or Devi (goddess). This is brahmacharya of the eye. Hear not lustful talks. This is brahmacharya of the ear.  Speak not of woman. This is brahmacharya of the tongue. Entertain not lustful thoughts. This is brahmacharya of the mind.
- - -
Brahman is supreme goodness. Rajas and tamas are the causes for evil, Evil is a mere appearance. It exists to glorify good. Evil is a kind of knowledge which shows the superiority of goodness, by way of comparison.
An evil man is a saint of the future. See good in everything. Destroy the evil finding quality. Develop the good finding quality. Rise above good and evil.
Your real nature is essentially Satchidananda Brahman. Thou art-the infinite, all-pervading, self-luminous, eternal Atman, the Supreme Soul.
Tat Twam Asi. Thou art That.
Roar OM OM OM - Sivoham. Soham. Satchidananda Sivaroopoham. Come out of this cage of flesh.
- - -
Know thy essential divine nature. Thou art the whole, the infinite, the Absolute, the eternal, the immortal.
Thou art above pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, all pairs of opposites.
Knock within. Search within. Gaze within. Within you is the immortal soul.
Aim at perfection. Fight life's battle bravely. Live wisely. Strengthen your resolution. Become one with the eternal.
Have tenacity of purpose. Climb the peak of perfection. Self-realisation is here and now. Attain life's goal.
- - -
If you observe perfect physical brahmacharya (celibacy), you will have control over your temper. You will not become irritable. Gradually you can attempt to attain mental brahmacharya, through japa (repetition of God's name), meditation, discrimination and enquiry.
Brahmacharya is the first requisite for God-realisation. Brahmacharya is the pathway to the kingdom of God.
May you be established in perfect brahmacharya.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

1 March

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 10
Now I will tell you what vichara is. Vichara means enquiry. It is an enquiry into the nature of Brahman or Atman. Enquiry of "Who am I?" is also vichara.
What is bondage? What is freedom? What is the relation between the jiva and Brahman? How was this Universe born? Who is the Creator? These constitute vichara.
Vichara leads to Brahma-jnana (realisation of the Infinite).
- - -
You are imprisoned in this cage of flesh for a long time on account of your identification with the body. Cut this illusion with the sword of knowledge. "I am the all-pervading Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman" - and be ever blissful.
Give up "I ness, mine ness", agency or doership. Become a silent witness. This is wisdom.
Brahman or the Absolute is the only reality. Mind and the universe are unreal. Mind alone is the universe. Action of the mind alone is karma.
Renunciation of egoism and desires constitutes real renunciation. This leads to atma-jnana (self-knowledge). Practise Brahma-vichara and you will soon attain Self-realisation.
- - -
Identification with the body is bondage. Identification with the Atman or soul is liberation.
"I am body", "This is mine", "He is my son", "She is my wife" - this is bondage.
"I am all-pervading immortal soul", "Nothing belongs to me", "All is Brahman" - this is liberation.
If the mind is attached to objects, this is bondage. If it is unattached, this is liberation.
- - -
Where there is no duality, there is immortality. When the three knots are cut, one attains immortality.
If your object in life is immortality, shun sense-objects as poison. Where there is nothing to be seen, or heard, or thought of, there is immortality.
Immortality is the very nature of Atman. The road to immortality is steep and thorny. The help of a realised sage is necessary - at every step.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

28 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 8 (Continued)
Spiritual experiences differ in sadhakas (seekers) according to the nature of their sadhana (practice) and the yoga they are practising. Some hear anahat (mystic) sounds in the ear. Some see brilliant lights. Some have vision of rishis (sages), mountains, rivers, etc.
Some experience cosmic consciousness. This is a rare experience. It cannot be expressed in words.
- - -
Maya is the illusory power of the Lord. Maya hides the real and makes the unreal appear as real. Maya is shuddha (pure) satva.
Do not enquire now into the origin of maya. Strive for its destruction. Maya is indescribable. It can be crossed - through the grace of God acquired by self-surrender. When jnana is attained, then you will know all about maya.
- - -
Avidya is ignorance. It is the cause for bondage. Vidya is the cause for liberation.
Destroy the root of avidya through knowledge of Atman.
Avidya is the causal body of the individual soul. It is impure satva. It is mixed with rajas (activity) and tamas (inertia).
Avidya is the cause for births and deaths. Mind and body are the effects of avidya.
- - -
Samadhi is union with God. It is a state of eternal bliss and eternal wisdom. It cannot be described in words. In savikalpa samadhi there is the triad, knower, knowledge, and knowable.
In samadhi mind, intellect and senses cease functioning. All dualities vanish in toto.
Meditate ceaselessly and enjoy the supreme bliss of nirvikalpa samadhi.
- - -
Please note the difference between sleep and samadhi. Sleep is an inert state. But samadhi is a state of pure awareness or pure consciousness.
When a man returns from sleep, he is heavy and dull. He has no experience of wisdom of Atman. But when the yogi comes down from samadhi, he is full of wisdom of Atman.  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 9
Jnana yoga is the yoga of wisdom. It is vedanta. It is the culmination of all the other yogas. It teaches that the individual soul is in essence identical with the supreme Soul. When avidya (ignorance) is destroyed the individual soul merges in the supreme soul.
The aspirant should equip himself with the four means of salvation, study the scriptures (Upanishad) under a guru and meditate. He will attain Self-realisation.
- - -
The mind alone is the universe. The body with its organs, etc., is no other than mind.
The slayer of Atman (self) is the mind only. The actions of the mind alone are, indeed actions, but not so those of the body.
The mind contemplating upon the body becomes the body itself and then, enmeshed in it, is afflicted by it.
Slay the mind and attain eternal bliss.
- - -
He who has a guru knows Brahman. A guru alone can remove doubts, pitfalls and snares. Guru is God Himself.
All that a guru can do is to tell his disciple the method of knowing the truth or the path that leads to the disclosure of the intuitional faculty.
He will clear your doubts, remove pitfalls and snares and inspire you. He cannot give you samadhi (super-conscious state). You will have to place each step yourself on the rung of the ladder of yoga. Do not expect a miracle from your guru, to put you into samadhi.
- - -
Every man wants everlasting happiness. This is his innate feeling. This indicates that his soul is an embodiment of bliss.
Everybody wants full knowledge of everything. This gives the clue that Atman is a mass of knowledge.
Every man wants freedom. It gives the clue that his Atman is ever free.
Search within and attain the ever blissful and ever free Atman.
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NOTE: Today's daily reading includes the 28th and 29th as it is not a leap year.

Monday, February 26, 2018

27 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 8
Meditation is freeing the mind from thoughts of sense objects. Mind dwells on God and God alone during meditation. Have perfect ethical perfection. Then alone you will be established in deep meditation.
Meditation follows concentration and samadhi (super-conscious state) follows meditation.
- - -
Be courageous. You will come across various obstacles in meditation. You will have to conquer sleep, distraction, a taste for sensual pleasure, laziness, etc.
Practise asanas regularly. 
Do a little tratak (gazing) and pranayama (yoga breathing). Do vichara (enquiry). Cultivate vairagya (dispassion). You will conquer all obstacles.
Samadhi is that state of pure consciousness, the supreme blissful state where the jivatma (soul) becomes one with Paramatma (Supreme Being).
- - -
Light diet, dispassion, discrimination, contact with a teacher, are necessary for the practice of meditation.
Meditation when persisted in and perfected, brings about the experience of super-consciousness or samadhi, the ultimate state of self-awareness or realisation.
- - -
When there is tension in the mind, when you cannot meditate, do kirtan or singing the Lord's name. You will get relaxation and concentration.
Kirtan is nectar. Kirtan is divine food for the soul Kirtan develops divine love. Kirtan produces bhava samadhi (ecstasy of devotion).
- - -
Samadhi leads to direct, intuitive realisation of the infinite. It is an inner divine experience, beyond the reach of speech and mind.
A jnani or sage will always be in samadhi, although engaged in worldly actions.
One without full even mindedness will never be able to go into samadhi even though he sits in padmasana for several hours. When all cravings cease, when one gets equal vision, he attains jnana vision and Brahmic bliss.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

26 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 7
Behold! You must be diligent and vigilant always. Do not give leniency to the mind.
Be regular in your meditation. Meditation is the very essence and life of all spiritual sadhanas.
Meditate on the form of Lord Krishna with flute in His hand. Concentrate on trikuti (the space between the eyebrows). Repeat mentally - Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.
May Lord Krishna be your centre, ideal and goal.
- - -
Meditation is a sound and safe method by which you can unlock your inner power and attain God-realisation.
When you are in meditation you will touch the level of cosmic consciousness in a flash of illumination.
You will know that life is eternal and that you are eternal. God is the only reality. God is the only truth. God alone exists. Know this, realise this.
God is love. He dwells in your heart. Recite His name always. Sing His glories, Do kirtan (chanting).
Conquer the whole world by truth and love.
In silence alone you can hold communion with God. When there is conflict of duty, sit and meditate. Hear the inner voice and act immediately.
- - -
During meditation one enters into a half sleepy state - this is called tandra. If one is really meditating, his body will be light and his mind will be cheerful.
If he is sleeping, the body will be heavy, the mind will be dull and the eye lids will be heavy.
During deep meditation you will forget the external world first and then the body. You will feel that there is no body. You will experience immense joy, indescribable peace.
Natural retention of the breath, without inhalation and exhalation, will come by itself.
Meditate on a concrete form in the beginning. Meditate on any form of the Lord. Think of his attributes: omnipotence, purity, perfection, etc. Gradually the mind will be prepared to take up the higher, formless meditation.
Be patient. Be persevering. Cultivate burning dispassion, burning longing for God-realisation. Gradually you will enter into deep meditation and samadhi.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

25 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 6
Vairagya is dispassion, desirelessness or non-attachment.
Vairagya liberates man from bondage. Vairagya is the foremost virtue.
Look into the defects of sensual life. Live in the company of saints. You will develop vairagya.
Vairagya is born of discrimination. It will help you and will be permanent. Without vairagya, not even an iota of spiritual progress is possible.
- - -
Mind is the atma shakti (power of self). It is the dividing wall between the individual soul and the supreme soul.
Mind creates this universe. It is the principle of thinking and sensation. It is a bundle of vasanas (habit patterns), thoughts, likes and dislikes. Slay the mind through destruction of the vasanas in Brahma vichara and attain Self-realisation.
Egoism is your arch enemy. It is born of ignorance. The real secret of divine life is only in the renunciation of this dire egoism. 
The tree of egoism can be destroyed by the fire of wisdom only.
- - -
These are the ways to control the senses. Cultivate dispassion or non-attachment to objects; practise pratyahara (or withdrawal) and self-restraint.
Give up love or hate for objects. You can control the senses and the mind.
- - -
It is better to practise concentration on one form of God and to repeat one mantra (mystic formula). Concentration will thereby be greatly increased.
If the mind wanders bring it back again and again to the form. Practise a little pranayama (yoga breathing). It will steady the mind. Observe mauna (or silence) for two hours. It will conserve energy and produce more concentration.

Friday, February 23, 2018

24 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 5
True and sincere surrender unto the Lord is the essence of bhakti (God love).
"I am Thine. All is Thine".
"Thy will be done, my Lord."
This is the best Sharanagati Mantra or prayer (of self-surrender).
Seek His will. Do His will. Surrender to His will. You will become one with the cosmic will.
- - -
Hatha yoga is mainly concerned with the physical body and the pranamaya sheath. It prepares the aspirant for raja yoga.
Hatha yoga deals with the practice of asanas, pranayama, bandhas and mudras. It treats of sad kriyas too. It gives splendid health, removes various sorts of diseases and awakens the kundalini.
- - -
The practice of yoga asanas bestows mental poise. If you practise asanas for even ten minutes daily, you will derive immense benefits. Be regular in the practice of asana - this is important.
Sirshasana bestows brain power and develops the intellect and the memory. It is useful in maintaining brahmacharya (celibacy). It cures many diseases. Sarvangasana gives longevity and makes the spine elastic.
- - -
Be steady in your asana. Gradually try to sit on one asana for three hours at a stretch. Regulate and restrain the breath through the practice of pranayama (yoga breathing). Withdraw the senses from the object. Now you will be able to practise concentration and meditation.
Regularity in the practice of concentration is of paramount importance.
- - -
For success in brahmacharya (celibacy) intensify your japa (repetition of God's Name) and meditation. Keep up constant mental repetition of the Lord's Name, even during your work.
Have three sittings for meditation - morning, evening and night, just before going to bed.