What is the motive behind enduring pain in Hathayoga?

What is the motive behind enduring pain in Hathayoga?

Contents


1. Origin and meaning of Hathayoga

A. Hatha (हठ) means obstinacy or forcefulness. Hathayoga [हठ योग (Path of Deliberate Rigour)] means gradually increasing the ability of the physical body to endure stress by forcefully inflicting different kinds of stresses on it. Consequently it amounts to increasing the tolerance of the mind. Sage Markandey is considered to be the founder of this Yoga. Till the state of union with Brahman (Brahmasthiti) is achieved, every type of spiritual practice is in a way a form of Hathayoga. ‘Asan, Bandha, Mudra’, ‘Tratak’, and ‘Pranayam’, all come under the purview of Hathayoga.

B. ‘Gorakshanath in his text book “Siddhasiddhant Paddhati” gives a different spiritual meaning of Hathayoga as follows:

हकार: कीर्तित: सूर्यष्‍ठकारश्चन्‍द्र उच्‍यते |
सूर्यचन्‍द्रमसौर्योगाद्घठ योगो निगद्यते ||

    Meaning: In Sanskrut, ‘ha (ह)’ indicates the breathing which occurs through the right nostril while ‘tha (ठ)’ that which occurs through the left nostril. They are referred to as the sun (surya) and the moon (chandra) respectively. The vital energies pran and apan popularly known as the surya and the chandra are to be united and this being a difficult task, it is referred to as Hathayoga.’(1)

C.Ha (ह)’ means Shivabija and ‘tha (ठ)’ means Vahnibija (fire) that is Shakti (Primal Energy). Hathayoga in other words is the union of Shakti with Shiva (Supreme God).

Hathayoga was mainly practised in the Shaiva and Nath sects. Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath widely propagated Hathayoga. Hathayogapradipika is the fundamental text of the yogis of the Nath sect. However the real motive behind practising Hathayoga is not limited to merely bringing about an increase in the tolerance of the mind but to activating the kundalini (spiritual energy) and taking it upto the Brahmarandhra.

2. Synonyms: Tapashcharya

Tap (तप) (to get heated / to stand the test of time) is a word from which the word tapashcharya (तपश्चर्या) (penance/austerity) has been derived. To do penance means to deliberately inflict physical and psychological pain upon oneself. It also means to accept the unhappiness inflicted upon oneself, willingly. The natural tendency of man is to turn away from pain. He is always thinking of how to avert unhappiness. On the contrary an individual performing penance accepts unhappiness and in order to increase his mental strength inflicts pain on himself. Pain arising from disease, accident, etc. is imposed on man. However the one doing penance himself creates pain and unhappiness and endures it. In short, that which one has to undergo due to selfishness is psychological distress (manastap) and that which one endures selflessly is penance (tap). There is a mental illness in which the patient gets pleasure by experiencing pain. Hence he inflicts pain on himself. However such a patient can be distinguished from a seeker by his other symptoms.

3. For whom it is directed?

A. Hathayoga is indicated for one whose sensuous desire is uncontrollable.

B. ‘For those who wish to master the Hathayoga it is advisable to commence practice from the age of 15-16. After that, it is not at all advisable to practise it. As for the elderly even intending to practise Hathayoga is a great mistake.’(2)

4. Types

Hathayoga has five parts namely, the shatkarmas (the six actions), asan, pranayam, mudra and bandha.

4.1 Physical types: Rituals of the six actions (shatkarmavidhi)

‘It is said that seekers suffering from obesity or physical disorders related to phlegm (kaph) and bile (pitta) should first practise the six actions and make the physical body pure and healthy. These six actions are – dhouti, basti, neti, tratak, nouli and kapalbhati. They are known as the acts of purification (shuddhikriyas).

A. Dhouti: The main types of dhouti are vamandhouti (dhouti by vomiting), dandadhouti (dhouti with the hand) and vastradhouti (dhouti with a cloth). In vamandhouti, lukewarm salt water is to be drunk quickly till one feels nauseated. Then one should induce vomiting. In dandadhouti a tube 1 metre in length and 1 centimetre in diameter is inserted through the throat upto the stomach. Then after one bends, the water starts regurgitating. After all the water has regurgitated, the tube is removed. In vastradhouti, a soft cloth four fingers broad and of fifteen arms length is swallowed little by little. Its other end is held tightly with the thumb and the index finger of the right hand. After swallowing it completely it is pulled out, gradually. Thus there are different types of dhoutis. With the practice of dhouti,impurities in the body such as phlegm, bile, etc. are eliminated. It specially brings about purification of the digestive system.

B. Basti: A pipe equivalent to the breadth of six fingers with its internal diameter of the size of the little finger is made from bamboo or silver. One stands immersed in water upto the level of the navel either in a river, lake or tank and inserts the pipe upto a length equal to four fingers breadth into the anal passage. Then one tries to suck air into the abdomen. As a result, water enters the abdomen through the pipe. After stepping out of water, the act of nouli is performed and attaining the utkatasan (hips-up posture), water from the stomach is expelled. With such practice diseases of the liver, pancreas and stomach, generated from the three humours are cured. This act is performed in the morning on an empty stomach.

C. Neti: This is of four types. Jalaneti (with water), dughdaneti (with milk), ghrutaneti [with clarified butter (ghee)] and sutraneti (with thread). In sutraneti a thread the length of a hand’s span is smeared with wax or clarified butter and one end is made thin. Then it is inserted into the nostril and pulled out through the throat. Both the ends of the thread are held together and pulled forward and backward. Owing to the practice of neti defects in the nose, eyes and head are overcome. Its distinctive feature is purification of the respiratory tract.

D. Tratak

E. Nouli (the abdominal corrugator): One sits either in the simple cross-legged posture or stands and bends cupping one’s knees with the hands. Then flexing both shoulders, the abdominal muscles are rotated rapidly from south to north and north to south. Nouli is very useful to promote digestion and control hyperacidity.’(3)

F. Kapalbhati

4.2 Psychological types

  • Not doing the things one likes to do, that is, not experiencing happiness
  • Curbing one’s desires and ambitions
  • Doing things one does not like to do
  • Tolerating (physical) pain and unhappiness
  • Sacrificing selfish motives.

5. Theoretical discussion of Hathayoga

5.1 Bindu (dot)

The word bindu (dot) is used in the following context in Hathayoga or at times is used with reference to any one of the following meanings.

  • Mahabindu (the great dot): The entire inner creation
  • Parabindu (the supreme dot): A form of God
  • Sukshmabindu (the subtle dot): The individual mind
  • Shulabindu: The sperm.

5.2 Benefits derived from unhappiness and pain

  • Endurance of pain increases mental strength.
  • One begins to feel compassion towards others who are experiencing pain.
  • An individual realises his limitations due to unhappiness and pain. One’s vanity is destroyed and the mind is diverted to The Omnipotent Supreme God.
  • Detachment towards worldly life develops and the mind turns to Spirituality.
  • By experiencing unhappiness destined actions are completed. Hence pain is a blesssing in disguise.
  • The spiritual progress of a person can be perceived from his ability to endure pain.

5.3 Losses occurring from experiencing happiness

  • When one gets habituated to experiencing happiness, if one is unable to get it even for a day, one feels unhappy. For example those who like to watch television feel unhappy when the television set is out of order even for a day.
  • Often even after experiencing happiness, the desire for pleasure is not fulfilled completely. For instance inspite of enjoying sexual pleasure for a thousand years King Yayati asked his son Puru for his youth so as to be able to enjoy more sexual pleasure.
  • In old age, though desires persist one is unable to fulfill them as the energy is insufficient. This results in unhappiness.
  • Sometimes one harms the body in the pursuit for happiness. For example, playing cards throughout the night, overeating favourite foods, etc.
  • After death the desires in the mind persist but there is unhappiness as there is no physical body to fulfill them.

5.4 How do the impressions on the subconscious mind decrease by practising Hathayoga?

Happiness is experienced when desirable events occur or desires are fulfilled, whereas unhappiness is experienced when undesirable events occur or desires remain unfulfilled. Hence ‘occurrence of something desirable means happiness and that of something undesirable means unhappiness’ is the impression created in the subconscious mind. Hence an individual feels that a favourite event should repeat itself and an undesired one should not. As one’s desires continue to get fulfilled, the impressions in the like and dislike centre get reinforced. The only way to prevent this from happening is sacrifice of happiness and acceptance of unhappiness. Thus it is possible to acquire control over the like and dislike centre and similarly over all desires except the sexual desire from the desire and instinct centre.

6. Practical suggestions

How to practise acceptance of unhappiness and sacrifice of happiness as a practice of Hathayoga, is given below.

6.1 Acceptance of unhappiness with the five sense organs

An average person’s idea about a hathayogi is one who does penance by sitting or lying down on a bed of thorns or nails, by standing on one foot with one hand raised or by piercing the tongue with a needle. However, in reality to accept unhappiness, one need not resort to such drastic measures. The simple and easy methods given below are as effective as the drastic ones.

A. Nose: Deliberately walking past or stopping at a place with an offensive odour. For example, a heap of garbage on the roadside.

B. Tongue:

  • Continuing to eat a vegetable (bhaji) or curry even if it is too pungent or if a burning sensation is produced in the mouth by biting a chilli.
  • Instead of spitting out rotten peanuts, grams or bitter almonds, continuing to eat them.
  • Eating dishes which one does not relish.
  • Fasting, not eating or drinking despite feeling hungry or thirsty.

C. Eyes: Deliberately looking at unpleasant things like a heap of garbage, dirt, filth, dead rats, cockroaches, animals, etc.

D. Skin:

  • Walking in scorching heat instead of shade.
  • In winter, bathing with cold water instead of warm, not using a blanket, not wearing warm clothing, etc.

E. Ears: Listening to songs, speeches, abuses, quarrels, etc. disliked by one.

6.2 Sacrifice of happiness with the five sense organs

  • Nose: Not using favourite perfumes, soaps, powders, etc.
  • Tongue: Not eating favourite dishes.
  • Eyes: Not watching what one likes, for example favourite television programmes, plays, movies, not reading favourite books, etc.
  • Skin: Trying to sleep without a mattress and pillow even if one is unable to do so.
  • Ears: Not listening to favourite songs.

6.3 Reducing the use of motor organs

  • Mouth: Speaking less, refer ‘Path of Silence (Mounyoga)’.
  • Penis
  • Do not exhaust the body, for example by exercising too much, travelling excessively, fasting too often or living in extreme climate.

7. Signs of mastery over Hathayoga

1. A lean body, 2. A pleasant face, 3. Radiant eyes, 4. A melodious voice, 5. Free from disease (hence longevity), 6. Purification of the channels (nadis) .

8. Duration required to make progress

One can make maximum 50% progress with the help of Hathayoga. This generally requires twelve years of penance. (After seven years all the cells in the body except the nerve cells change).

9. Automatically mastering Hathayoga

When one’s attitude becomes introverted, through the practice of any path of Yoga, Hathayoga is automatically mastered. This is because due to the introverted attitude the mind concentrates on spiritual practice or the Bliss which is acquired from it and thus the consciousness of the body (dehabuddhi) starts decreasing.

10. Limitations

‘In the science of Yoga who is a learned fool?

The one who practises postures (asans), pranayam, etc. without following the restraints (yam) and regulations (niyam).’(4) The same tenet is also applicable to those practising only tratak. (Yam and niyam are the first two parts from the Ashtangyoga (Eightfold Yoga) of Patanjali and are related to the mind.

11. Dangers

Practising Hathayoga without the guidance of experienced hathayogis could lead to adverse effects on the energy flow in the body and thus cause physical or psychological problems.

12. Comparison with other paths of Yoga

A. Hathayoga and Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga): Hathayoga being a tama predominant act, one needs to bring hunger and thirst under control, with efforts. However the Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name being sattva predominant and as one is engrossed in chanting, hunger and thirst are automatically forgotten.

B. Hathayoga and Rajayoga: In Rajayoga first control is gained over the mind and consequently over the vital energy (pran) and the physical body. As a result, in the state of meditation or the superconscious state (samadhi) control over only breath holding (kumbhak) and mastery over postures (asansiddhi) is automatically achieved. On the contrary in Hathayoga one can first achieve control over the physical body and vital energy through asans and pranayam. Then one automatically enters a state of meditation.

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How does tratak help in increasing ones sattvikta?

How does tratak help in increasing ones sattvikta?

Contents


1. Origin and meaning of Tratak

A. Trutak (तृतक): Trut (तृत) means that which is broken yet existing in one line. The word tratak is derived from the word truti (तृटी). Tratak is the method of joining pieces which are linear, that is a method of creating a line of radiance with gradual efforts thus attempting to stabilize the gaze. When one says this occurs in half a nimesh, the nimesh or nimish refers to the duration required for the opening or closing of the eyelids. A 30th of a nimesh is known as a tatvar and a 100th of a tatvar is known as a truti.

B. Tru tiryayate (त्रु तीर्ययते), kakayate (काकयते) is a method of steadying one’s gaze akin to a crow, that is by fixing the gaze in one direction and turning around.

C. Tratak also means gazing continuously at one point with the mind or eyes, without blinking. One is supposed to stare at the object of tratak till it is impossible to keep the eyes open or till they start watering.

The object used for tratak is known as the ‘object of tratak’. (That on which one meditates is known as the ‘object of meditation’.)

2. Types of tratak

2.1 External tratak

External tratak means staring at an external object and bringing about concentration of the mind by steadying the gaze till it is no longer possible to do so.

2.2 Internal tratak

Internal tratak is looking at an object with inner vision, that is, with the mind, keeping the eyes closed. The main aim of doing tratak is to increase the power of concentration. By staring at an object, the power of concentration can be increased. Similarly, by imagining that one is staring at an object with the eyes actually closed, the objective of doing tratak is fulfilled. Hence, those who are blind or are unable to do tratak even for a few seconds, should do tratak imagining that they are ‘staring at a point’ (e.g. a point midway between the eyebrows).

2.3 Types of external and internal tratak

A. Tratak on a dot (bindu tratak) and tratak on an idol (murti tratak)

Tratak on a dot is concentrating one’s attention on a small dot and tratak on an idol is focussing it on an idol. As a result, mainly the gaze is steadied and it leads to increased concentration. (Refer point 4 B).

B. Tratak on a circle (vartul tratak)

First look at the small circle ‘A’ for one to two minutes and note whether you feel pleasant or distressed. Repeat the same with the big circle ‘B’ and then read further.

There were thirty-five seekers at a satsang (spiritual meeting). They had the following spiritual experiences.

Experience Figure ‘A’ Figure ‘B’
1. Pleasant 8 26
2. Distressing 12 2
3. Nothing 15 7
Total 35 35

The majority felt better looking at the bigger circle in comparison with the smaller one. The reason for this is given as follows : ‘यत्‌ भूमा तत्‌ सुखम्‌ नाल्‍पे सुखमस्‍ति | – In Sanskrut, bhuma (भूमा) means vast. That which is vast gives happiness while that which is small does not’. – Upanishad. Based on this principle the majority felt better looking at the bigger circle.

C. Tratak while moving the gaze along the circumference of a circle (parigh tratak)

First move the eyes gradually along the circumference of the circle drawn above, in the clockwise direction, nine to ten times, commencing from the top. Note whether you feel pleasant or distressed. Then once again, commencing from the top, move the eyes nine to ten times gradually in the anti-clockwise direction. Once again note whether you feel pleasant or distressed. Then read further.

Thirty-seven seekers at a satsang (spiritual meeting) participated in this experiment and had the following spiritual experiences.

Experience Moving the gaze
clockwise direction anti-clockwise direction
1. Pleasant 20 9
2. Distressing 8 19
3. Nothing 9 9
Total 37 37

Another experiment in which the participants were asked to move the gaze along the circumference of an imaginary circle, with the eyes closed, yielded similar results.

When the eyes were moved in the clockwise direction, first the Ida (moon) channel of the observers was activated. Hence when doing tratak most of them felt pleasant. As against this, when the eyes were moved in the anti-clockwise direction, the Pingala (sun) channel was operational, hence most people experienced discomfort. Since one feels pleasant while moving in the clockwise direction, circumambulation of an idol in a temple is performed in the same direction.

D. Tratak on a spiral ring (valay tratak)

First look at both these figures for one to two minutes and record your observation. Then read further.

The same thirty-seven seekers from the previous experiment participated in this experiment. They had the following spiritual experiences.

Experience Figure ‘A’ Figure ‘B’
1. Pleasant 18 18
2. Distressing 16 17
3. Nothing 3 2
Total 37 37

Now commencing from the outer end of the figure ‘A’ move the gaze along the line till its inner end. Start from the outer end once again. Repeat this seven to eight times and record what you experience. Follow the same method when looking at figure ‘B’ and only then read further.

Seekers at the satsang (spiritual meeting) who participated in the previous and this experiment were the same and they had the following spiritual experiences.

Experience Figure ‘A’ Figure ‘B’
1. Pleasant 27 9
2. Distressing 9 22
3. Nothing 1 6
Total 37 37

From the above two experiments, one must have realised that when looking at the spiral ring whether one gets a pleasant or distressing experience depends mostly on the technique of doing tratak, rather than the figures themselves. In the second experiment most people felt pleasant when looking at the spiral ring in figure ‘A’ since the Chandra nadi (moon channel) was active. However when looking at figure ‘B’ since the Surya nadi (sun channel) was active most people felt distressed. In short, one’s action of looking at the figure that activates the corresponding channel is responsible for endowing a pleasant or distressing feeling, rather than the figure itself.

E. Tratak on a wall (bhinta tratak): Do tratak on a wall with stains or with faded paint for about two minutes. Note what you experience and then read further. An example of the experiences one gets is given below. After a few months or years one is able to see figures stepwise as follows:

  • Horrifying faces
  • Pitiable faces
  • Smiling faces

In certain psychological tests, figures composed of dots are shown and one is asked to describe what one sees. The individual expresses what he sees according to the impressions in his subconscious mind. In this tratak what is seen in the first two stages is due to the impressions on the subconscious mind. The happy or smiling faces seen in the third stage are a visible manifestation of Bliss experienced by the seeker.

F. Tratak on vast objects (maha tratak): Maha tratak means doing tratak on vast objects. This increases the power of concentration. Besides, at a time, one is able to concentrate on vaster objects rather than on just a dot. One of the benefits derived from this is that one acquires the ability to view the entire aura around a person’s head. As against this, in tratak on a dot one can view the aura only in a particular region, for example the aura above the head or above the ears.

G. Tratak on a flame (jyoti tratak): Out of the five cosmic elements viz. pruthvi (absolute earth), apa (absolute water), tej (absolute fire), vayu (absolute air) and akash (absolute ether), the last two are invisible. Hence one cannot do tratak on them. One can do tratak on the pruthvi element (e.g. the idol of a deity), the apa element and the tej element (e.g. a flame, the sun, etc.). The benefits and limitations of using these objects for tratak are given below.

When a person does tratak on an object all the three components namely sattva, raja and tama from that object affect that person. Out of the pruthvi, apa and tej elements the tama component is the most in the pruthvi, moderate in the apa and least in the tej element. Hence it is more beneficial if one does tratak on a flame which has the least tama component.

An experiment of tratak on a flame: Light a lamp with a wick soaked in clarified butter (ghee) and place it at the level of the eyes, about one and half to two metres away from them. Shut the doors and windows of the room and put off the fan to keep the flame steady. In the equatorial region of the earth doing this makes one feel hot. To avoid feeling hot one should take off one’s shirt. Take necessary precautions against the menace of flies and mosquitoes. During tratak, to prevent light from entering the room paste black papers on the window panes or carry out the experiment in complete darkness, after putting off the lights at night.

The experiment: First do tratak on the flame of a clarified butter lamp for two minutes. Record whether you feel pleasant or distressed at that time. Then do two minutes tratak on the flame of an oil lamp and note whether you feel pleasant or distressed. Repeat the same with a candlewick and record your experience. Then read the following paragraph.

Most people feel pleasant when doing tratak on the flame of the clarified butter lamp, a little uncomfortable with the flame of the oil lamp and distressed with the lit candlewick. The reason behind this is that clarified butter is sattvik (sattva predominant), oil is rajasik (raja predominant) and wax is tamasik (tama predominant). Hence tratak is done on the flame of a clarified butter lamp. Clarified butter made from cow’s milk is more sattvik than that made from buffalo’s milk.

See what spiritual experiences you get by doing tratak on a flame for several weeks to months and then read the further section. That will more or less make one cognizant about one’s progress.

One gets the following experiences stepwise when doing tratak on a flame.

  • Seeing the halo of the flame around it. The flame is referred to as Shiv or Parabrahman, the halo as Brahman or the body (anga). The indistinct portion seen beyond the halo is called the Great Illusion (Maya) or the sub-body (upanga). An average person is able to see this.
  • Seeing something in the halo.
  • Seeing something within the flame.
  • Seeing one flame beyond the other upto a total of six to seven flames. This is just like seeing several reflections in two parallel mirrors. These are the reflections of the flame in the mind.
  • Seeing a hollow in the flame, that is seeing nothing at all. This is a sign of the unmanifest (nirgun).
  • Seeing another flame within the hollow in the flame, is a representation of the manifest form (sagun).
  • Seeing a hollow in the flame and a flame in the hollow upto infinity. This is the visible representation of ‘not this, not this (neti-neti)’ from the Vedas. By doing tratak on a flame a seeker can conclude that ‘what can be seen is not the ultimate’. Also the seeker gets the spiritual experience that ‘the manifest and the unmanifest (the hollow) are not distinct from one another’.

H. Tratak on the sun (surya tratak): When doing tratak on the sun one should gaze at the sun in the morning and evening when its intensity is mild for only five to six minutes. However, one should not do tratak on the sun without the guidance of an expert because some invisible rays in the sunlight can have deleterious effects on the eyes.

I. Tratak on water (jala tratak): It is difficult to do tratak on water due to the following two reasons.

  • The object used for doing tratak should be steady. Since water is mostly not still, it cannot be used for doing tratak.

  • Even if the water is still, because of its transparency it amounts to doing tratak on the vessel in which the water is stored rather than the water.

When doing tratak on water, the edge of flowing water, the edge of a waterfall, ripples created by breeze on still waters, etc. are used as objects.

Doing tratak on a flame, water and the sun also incorporates the other benefits of tratak.

3. Benefits of tratak

3.1 According to physiology

A. Control over involuntary actions: The muscles in the body are of three types, voluntary (e.g. muscles of the limbs), voluntary and involuntary (e.g. muscles of the eyelids and respiration) and involuntary (e.g. muscles of the heart and intestines). Through practice of postures (asans) one can acquire control over only the voluntary muscles. However, the mind does not become completely steady without gaining control over the involuntary muscles. But it is not possible to acquire sudden control over the involuntary muscles. Hence, first one should make efforts to gain control over those muscles which are supplied by both the voluntary and involuntary nervous systems. Muscles of the eyelids and respiration are both of this type. The opening and closing of the eyelids and respiration both, can occur either voluntarily or involuntarily. Therefore, if one makes efforts to decrease voluntary movements of these muscles by doing tratak and pranayam then their involuntary movements too can gradually be decreased and brought under control. Once one is able to acquire control over these two involuntary actions in the body, other involuntary actions are also automatically controlled. Consequently, the raja component decreases and according to Ayurveda reduction in the raja component facilitates reduction in ailments caused by pitta (bile).

B. Preventing the wastage of energy: By practising tratak one is able to prevent the loss of energy expended in blinking. Owing to this, most of the voluntary and involuntary actions are reduced and approximately 8% energy is conserved. That energy can then be utilised to make spiritual progress.

3.2 According to psychology

A. An increase in the power of concentration of the mind and the memory: When one practises tratak one gets habituated to concentrating on a particular object. As a result the concentration power increases and consequently memory too improves. This is just like for example remembering something read with concentration, better.

B. Acquisition of the quality of the object of concentration by the individual: When one does tratak concentrating on some object, its image gets reflected in one’s mind. This is the merging of that object with the subconscious mind. By doing tratak on an object for several months, one’s subconscious mind starts imbibing the qualities of that object, that is a centre in the subconscious mind begins to develop. For example if one does tratak on an idol of a deity, one acquires the qualities of that deity. These benefits differ from those obtained in the context of imagination (association of ideas). This is explained in point ‘Tratak on a flame (jyoti tratak)’.

3.3 According to Spirituality

A. A decrease in the raja component: Doing tratak decreases the raja component and thus the proportion of the sattva component increases.

B. Activation of the subtle sense of vision: Activation of the subtle sense of vision is known as comprehension of the language of light (prakashbhasha). [With pranayam one can comprehend the language of sound (nadabhasha), that is one can interpret any language, even that of birds and animals.] By doing tratak, eyesight becomes sharper hence, subtle objects illuminated in the range of low or high frequency light waves or self-illuminated objects can be seen. Consequently the following two phenomena occur.

  • One is able to view the aura around a person or object.
  • One is able to get a vision of deities.

C. An increase in the visual power: Since the visual power is increased one is able to get a vision of radiant deities. Eyes of a person not doing tratak get dazed with bright light, so it is not possible for him to get such a vision.

The energy of the mind is primarily emitted through the eyes. Once the gaze is steadied at one point, the mind too becomes steady and the energy of the mind becomes concentrated. When the rays of the sun are focused at a point on a paper, with a convex lens, the paper can get burnt. Similarly, since energy is concentrated in laser beams, they can penetrate even thick metallic sheets. Thus when the energy of the mind gets concentrated, one can perceive others’ thoughts merely by looking into their eyes and can also make them behave according to one’s wish. The eyes which are more energetic are called sharp or radiant eyes.

4. Practical suggestions

A. Avoid movements of the body.

B. Moving the gaze gradually from a large portion to a dot: In the initial stages it is difficult to do tratak on only one point. To be able to accomplish it, between remaining without blinking and staring at only one object, priority is given to looking anywhere but without blinking. For that one should gradually move one’s gaze from the head to the feet of the idol and vice versa, without blinking. After some days one should gaze from the head to the knees and vice versa. After a few more days one should gaze from the head to the waist and vice versa. In this way, one should gradually reduce the part on which the gaze is fixed. Finally it becomes possible to do tratak staring only at the head or midway between the eyebrows of the idol. When reducing the portion on which the gaze is fixed looking only at the feet of the idol is better than looking at its countenance. Since the eyes of the deity are too radiant, those having psychic sensitivity find it difficult to look at its eyes. That is why the eyes of Lord Balaji of Tirupati in South India are half open. If they were to be wide open, then due to the energy in them devotees would find it impossible to look at Him.

C. The duration depending on the object of tratak

  • If the eyes start watering when doing tratak close them for a while and then start tratak once again.
  • When doing tratak on a dot (bindu tratak) begin by doing it for two minutes. Gradually increase the duration to upto three hours.
  • When doing tratak focussing on the tip of the nose first do so for one minute. Then gradually increase that duration to upto half an hour.
  • When doing tratak on a point midway between the eyebrows roll the eyes upwards and concentrate the mind on that point for half a minute. Then gradually increase that duration to upto half an hour.

5. The object of tratak (on what should one do tratak?)

If the object used for doing tratak is chosen according to one’s path of spiritual practice and one’s spiritual level, it complements one’s progress. A seeker in the primary stage is not distressed by doing tratak on an idol belonging to the pruthvi (absolute earth) element. As against this, if one practises tratak on a flame or the sun which belong to the tej (absolute fire) element, it can cause distress.

A. Those following the Path of Devotion: One may do tratak on an idol, picture or photograph of a deity, the Omkar, etc. depending on one’s liking. When there is an idol or photograph depicting the entire image, in the beginning one should do tratak concentrating on the feet.

B. Those following other paths: They should do tratak using a dot, a flame, the tip of the nose, etc. The disadvantage of doing tratak by looking at very nearby objects like the tip of the nose is that strain on the eyes occurs more easily.

6. Experiences and spiritual experiences (signs of progress)

First practise various types of tratak given in this chapter for a few weeks each and see what experiences and spiritual experiences you get. Only then read the section given below.

A seeker generally gets the following experiences stepwise.

  • 1. The object on which tratak is done becomes blurred, may appear to move or an aura may be seen around it. If tratak is done using an idol or photograph of a deity, the eyelids of the deity may appear to flutter, the lips may appear to move, etc.
  • 2. After a few weeks of practice one does not have to make efforts to keep the eyelids open. They automatically remain open, that is become steady.
  • 3. When doing tratak one can see blurred bright spots similar to the snow seen on the television screen when there is no transmission. Later such dots are also seen in the waking state, when the mind is thoughtless.
  • 4. One is able to see figures coloured white, blue, yellow, etc. which are either steady or in rhythmic motion, between the eye and the object of tratak.
  • 5. If one is doing tratak on an idol of a deity, one is able to visualise that deity’s form indistinctly even at other times.
  • 6. Seeing light waves coming towards the eyes.
  • 7. Seeing light waves emitted by the eyes.
  • 8. Going into meditation.

7. What should one do if one is unable to do tratak?

If one’s eyes are weak or one is unable to do tratak even for a few seconds, one should not strain them by keeping them open for long. As soon as the eyes are tired, they should be immediately closed and one should continue tratak by concentrating the mind on a point midway between the eyebrows. The same method should also be used by the blind.

In short, meditation occurs through the medium of the eyes while doing tratak. As against this while practising meditation the activities of the body and mind gradually come to a standstill and therefore tratak occurs automatically.

8. Automatic occurrence of tratak?

Once the attitude becomes introverted by practising any path of Yoga, tratak is automatically achieved. Owing to the introverted attitude, when one concentrates on spiritual practice or Bliss, the awareness of the body decreases and blinking automatically gets reduced.

9. Limitations

‘In the science of Yoga who is a learned fool?

The one who practises postures (asans), pranayam, etc. without following the restraints (yam) and regulations (niyam).’(1) The same tenet is also applicable to those practising only tratak. (Yam and niyam are the first two parts from the Ashtangyoga (Eightfold Yoga) of Patanjali and are related to the mind.

10. Comparison with other paths of Yoga

  Tratak Meditation (Dhyan)
1. Similarities    
    a. The seat (steady
        posture)
is necessary is necessary
    b. Looking at one point is present is present
2. Differences    
    a. The main organ
        involved in spiritual
        practice
the eye the mind
    b. Discomfort to the
        eyes
is present is present
    c. Blinking is to be avoided may occur initially, does
not occur later
    d. The object of        1.
        concentration
                                       2.
is mostly gross

is steady

is gross or subtle

is steady or in rhythmic
motion

    e. Emotions are absent may be present e.g.
when meditating on an
idol of a deity
    f. Dissolution of the
       mind
does not occur occurs

What are the stages of a disciple’s spiritual progress?

Contents


 

1. What does spiritual progress depend upon?

1.1 Before and after acquisition of a Guru

The following table illustrates the main factors upon which spiritual progress depends before and after the acquisition of a Guru.

The importance
before acquiring
a Guru %
The importance
after acquiring
a Guru %
1. One’s own efforts 40 10
2. Destiny 60 30
3. The Guru’s grace 60
Total 100 100

1.2 The progress in a seeker and a disciple

A seeker without a Guru can on an average make progress upto 0.25% per year and that too only upto a spiritual level of 50-55%. Contrary to this, the one doing spiritual practice under the guidance of a Guru, can make progress of 2-3% per year and one bestowed with the Guru’s grace of upto 5-8% per year and the progress can occur upto 80-100%.

1.3 If no progress occurs then the disciple is at fault

‘Saints always bestow one with the best. If They do not, then one must realise that one is lacking in something.’(1)

1.4 The grace of the Guru (Gurukrupa)

Refer ‘point The Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)’.

1.5 The type of disciple, the spiritual level, maximum spiritual progress, the duration required for it and the Guru’s contribution

Types Spiritual
level %
Maximum
Spiritual
progress %
Minimum
duration
required for the
progress (years)
The Guru’s
contribution
%
1. Inferior 40 48 13 25
2. Medium 50 65 9 30
3. Superior 60 85 5 35

A seeker of an inferior level can acquire a Guru only if he has intense motivation for Liberation (mumukshutva).

2. Changing the Guru

In this context, one should take a decision considering the following points. However doing what another spiritually evolved person recommends would be even better in this regard.

2.1 Changing the Guru by oneself

A. If one feels distressed with the spiritual practice advised by a Guru, one should ask the reason for the distress. If one’s doubts are not cleared or the distress is severe, then it should be stopped and the Guru should be changed. A Guru had advised one of His lady disciples to worship Lord Shri Datta. After commencing that spiritual practice, she experienced discomfort. Another saint asked her to worship a female deity (devi). After commencing this spiritual practice, not only did she not experience any discomfort; but on the contrary, was benefitted by it. The point to be noted here is that if someone is afflicted by distressing energy, then initially one may be troubled by the spiritual practice advised by the Guru. At such times, continuing the same spiritual practice eventually overcomes the distressing energy.

B. After being in the Guru’s company if one realises that ‘the Guru’s spiritual knowledge and spiritual experiences are inadequate’, etc. or due to some reason if doubts about the Guru’s potential are generated in one’s mind, then one should change the Guru.

C. ‘Do what the Guru says, not what the Guru does.’ If a Guru were to go to a prostitute a disciple would follow suit but when the Guru swallows pieces of glass, the disciple loses courage. Some feel that changing the Guru due to the above mentioned reasons like the Guru’s external behaviour implies that ‘one’s spiritual level is low and hence one is blaming the Guru’ or that ‘one is lacking in faith’. At such times instead of wasting time in analysing whether one’s spiritual level is low or that of the Guru is low, changing the Guru is the best solution because once a doubt is generated in the mind, spiritual practice does not occur smoothly.

D. ‘अनभिज्ञं गुरुं प्राप्‍य संशयच्‍छेदकारकम्‌ ।
गुरुरन्‍यतरंगत्‍वा नैतदोषेण लिप्‍यते ।।
मधुलब्‍धो यथा भृंग: पुष्‍पात्‌ पुष्‍पांतरं व्रजेत्‌ ।
ज्ञानलुब्‍धस्‍तथा शिष्‍यो गुरोर्गुर्वन्‍तरं व्रजेत्‌ ।।

Meaning: If a disciple’s doubts are not vanquished by an ignorant Guru and the disciple goes to another Guru capable of eliminating his doubts, then he does not incur any sin. Just as a honeybee flits from one flower to another in search of honey, so also a disciple desirous of acquiring spiritual knowledge goes from one Guru to another till he acquires it.’(2) In this context, the Gurus so acquired by the disciple desirous of spiritual knowledge are only teachers and not real Gurus. Lord Dattatreya chose twenty-four Gurus (Shrimadbhagvat, skandha 11). They were not Gurus but only teachers or assistant teachers.

‘Datta: O King Yadu, you will wonder what the need is to have so many Gurus when only one is capable of endowing one with Self-realisation. Will it not make one the target of criticism like an adulterous woman? The answer to this is that, to attain Self-realisation only one Guru is sufficient. If one develops doubt about His preaching, one should get rid of it. To be able to perceive the soul principle which is common to all creation, visible and invisible I accepted the qualities of these objects as my Gurus. Thus the spiritual knowledge (dnyan) that my Guru endowed me with has been strengthened by accepting these attributes as the Gurus.

E. यत्रानंद: प्रबोधो वा नाल्‍पमप्‍युपलभ्‍यते ।
संवत्‍सरादपि शिष्‍येन सोऽन्‍यं गुरुमुपानयेत्‌ ।। – शिव पुराण

Meaning: If after practising Spirituality as advised by a Guru one does not acquire even a small quantity of Bliss and spiritual knowledge, then one should certainly take guidance from another Guru. – Shiva Puran

F. The Guru who cannot endow spiritual practice after acquiring spiritual knowledge, should be rejected. Samarth Ramdas swami describes this as,

Gurus who neither instruct the disciple to do spiritual practice,
Nor train him to gain mastery over his senses,
Are worthy of rejection; even though they are available by the dozen.
– Shri Dasbodh 5.2.21

G. Akin to Shri Ramakrushna Paramhansa who wished to acquire the experience of Self-realisation through various paths of Spirituality, after attaining Self-realisation one may accept a Guru with authority in the respective path. Generally a majority of the Gurus have knowledge only about the particular path through which They have performed spiritual practice. However, one should remember the example of the great Saint Gulabrao Maharaj of Vidarbha who says, ‘Once one acquires the genuine experience of Self-realisation, one does not even think of acquiring it through various paths.’

2.2 Harbouring the fear that the Guru will be enraged, if one is changing to another Guru

One should not fear that the Guru will be enraged by changing the Guru; because genuine Gurus never get angry and there is no need to fear the wrath of a fake one.

2.3 Changing the Guru according to the directives of one’s Guru

A. If one feels like changing the Guru then, only after seeking the permission of the Guru should the Guru be changed.

B. If the Guru so commands, “Now for further guidance He is your Guru” then considering it as the directive of the Guru, one should go to the Guru indicated by Him.

2.4 One should not change the Guru

A. Some change their Guru as their desires remain unfulfilled. They fail to comprehend that the Guru’s real mission is to destroy desires.

B. If spiritual progress is occurring smoothly, then one should not change several Gurus. This is just like one continuing a medicine to which one is responding, without changing it.

C. Thinking that ‘my Guru is not appropriate, I must change the Guru’ is considering oneself to be more knowledgeable than the Guru.

D. Losing faith in the Guru: Inspite of following his Guru’s advice a disciple suffered each time.

  • He got his daughter married but she had intense suffering at the in-laws place for two to three years after marriage.
  • One son refused a job abroad and stayed back in India. The company in which he was employed had to be closed down.
  • The second son was not settled in his business even after five years.
  • He himself suffered a loss; as he was not given a commission by his employer.

On asking the Guru about this on several occasions the Guru gave replies such as ‘you did not do spiritual practice appropriately’, ‘you did not undertake spiritual practice with faith’ and ‘as a disciple, I am responsible for you, not for your children’. The disciple felt all these were just excuses.

If this happens, one should consider this to be one’s ‘test’ and should continue one’s spiritual practice without losing faith. The Pandavas underwent so many tests, yet their faith in Lord Krushna did not waver. If this is not possible then one should return the knowledge endowed by the Guru like Yadnyavalkya, without making use of it and should begin learning everything afresh, from another Guru.

E. What should one do if one gets doubts about the Sadguru?: Getting doubts is a natural phenomenon. Once King Dashrath doubted whether Sage Vasishtha was possessed by a spirit. So, he augmented his spiritual practice and overcame the doubt.

F. “Since the disciple’s intellect is impure, the Guru’s intellect is necessary; but how can one say that the Guru’s intellect is not impure?” Even if the Guru’s intellect is impure whether ‘it can overcome the disciple’s impure intellect’ is the only thing that a disciple should take into account. This query is similar to the million dollar question whether the river Ganga which cleanses the sins of so many is a sinner herself.”(3)

G. ‘If one observes defects in the Guru, then how should one face it?: One should ignore such feelings thinking “there are more defects in objects than in the Guru”.’ – Shri Gulabrao Maharaj

H. One should remember that if one does not make spiritual progress, it is due to one’s past impressions or one’s inadequate efforts and should not attribute it to the Guru. Such a realisation can occur only due to devotion and faith.

I. ‘An incident: Dr. Jayant Athavale was accompanying Baba to Nashik.

Baba              : There is a great saint here. Go and pay respects (darshan)
to Him. He will also answer all your queries.
Dr. Athavale   : Now I do not feel like paying respects (darshan) to
anyone else. I am convinced that I will find all the
answers at Your feet.
Dr. Athavale   :
(after a while)
Should I have gone to pay respects to
that saint obeying the Guru’s directives?
Baba              : No. What you did was right.’(4)

J. When one is doing spiritual practice as advised by one’s Guru, if some other saint recommends some spiritual practice, one should not do it. (If one’s spiritual practice is going on appropriately then often real saints do not advise anything.) However, if one gets the spiritual experience that one’s Guru is speaking through that saint then one should certainly do the spiritual practice advised by that saint.

K. Since the basic tenet in Spirituality is going from ‘many to one’ thinking about going from one Guru to several, is wrong. When the disciple falls at his Guru’s feet tears* flow just as a chaste woman finds ultimate happiness at her master’s feet.
– Saint Bhaktaraj

* Tears: one of the manifestations of the eight sattvik emotions (ashtasattvik bhav).

L. Until one attains a spiritual level of 70%, one is bound to get doubts regarding the path of Spirituality and the Guru’s potential off and on, as the mind is active and getting doubts is a function of the mind. Later however, as there is dissolution of the mind, this does not occur.

M. Pleasing one Guru is so difficult, then how will one please so many Gurus?

नि:संगाशी संग आणि प्राणाशी गाठ! means being in the company of a saint is dangerous, as it dissolves all desires which one wants to fulfill for the sake of pleasure! Hence initially one should not accept a Guru. If one has already accepted one, one should not leave Him. Later even if one wishes to do so, He does not leave one!

3. Causes of deterioration

A. Not doing spiritual practice: By not chanting the Gurumantra imparted by the Guru both, that mantra and the Guru are offended.

B. Joking about the Guru: Just as one does not joke about one’s parents, one should not do so about the Guru.

C. Misuse of the Guru’s name

  • The Guru of H.H. Joshibaba of Mumbai, H.H. Bapu Maharaj would dictate the contents of a letter to a disciple who would then write it. If Bapu asked another disciple for a particular item, for instance if He dictated ‘Send me a fan’ in the letter, then this disciple would write ‘Send me two fans’. He would then give one fan to Bapu and keep the other for himself.
  • Bapu’s house had become dilapidated. One of His disciples collected a lot of funds from several other disciples conveying the false message that money was required to build a new house for Bapu.

However, later this disciple suffered immensely.

D. Criticising and detesting the Guru

How will he, who enthusiastically speaks of the attributes
and defects of his Guru, acquire knowledge,
And when will he become steady? 16:28 – Shri Gurucharitra

The one who hates the Guru has no place either in this
world or the next,
How will he, who is unable to perceive light, acquire true
knowledge? 16:30 -Shri Gurucharitra

Realising that the Guru principle is one, one should not criticise even one’s previous Guru.

E. Rejection by the Guru: The one who is rejected by the Guru is akin to the one who is rejected by all the three worlds (trilokas).

4. Spiritual experiences and signs of progress

4.1 Reduction in suffering

One disciple had a problem of stammering. He felt like conducting a spiritual discourse like his other gurubrethren. He told the Guru his difficulty and asked, “What is the solution to this?” The Guru responded, “If you speak thinking that you are speaking, you will falter because of your stammering. However if you foster the spiritual emotion that ‘the Guru is speaking through you’, you will not stammer; because the Guru does not.” Later, when delivering the discourse, the disciple who otherwise stammered at every sentence, stammered only once or twice in that one and a half hour.

4.2 Recovery from or cure of an illness

A. Communication with the Guru reduces an illness: If one’s illness is spiritual in origin, then how it can be overcome merely by reading the Guru’s letter is illustrated by the following: ‘H.H. …. Shirsashtang namaskar. I received both Your letters. When I received Your second letter I was tossing and turning in bed with pain in the abdomen. No sooner did I read Your letter than my pain reduced markedly. …. (A lady disciple) 6/2/1993’.

B. Getting cured by obeying the Guru’s directives: Once Ramjidada was sleeping as He was running high fever. When His Guru Anantanand Saish came to know of this He said to Ramjidada, “Take a bath, your fever will subside.” Though Ramjidada was burning with fever He went to the well and as usual poured two to three buckets of cold water on Himself. Not only did His fever subside; but His exhaustion too disappeared and once again He felt refreshed.

4.3 Not experiencing fatigue in the Guru’s presence

‘An individual normally tired with four to five hours of hard work can work for fifteen to sixteen hours a day, at a stretch continuously for six to seven days in Baba’s presence and still not feel exhausted. Several devotees have experienced the acquisition of divine consciousness (chaitanya) and energy (shakti) in Baba’s company.’(5)

4.4 The spiritual experiences obtained when the Guru is speaking

A. Feeling like listening to Him constantly: Those listening to Baba’s conversation feel that it should go on and that they should continue listening to it. One realises that in it there is something beyond lucid speech. Even though He does not crack jokes or impart knowledge and just speaks on the usual worldly topics like travelling, food, etc. yet one feels like listening. Naturally, the reason for this is the divine consciousness (chaitanya) in His speech. Hence, even if one has heard Baba relating an incident several times one still feels like listening to it again. But if one has to listen to the same incident repeatedly from someone else then one is bored. In short, one gets the real spiritual experience of satsang (holy company) when listening to Baba’s conversation.

B. Absence of awareness regarding time.

C. Absence of awareness regarding meals, bathing, etc.

D. Often, later one is unable to relate exactly what Baba spoke.

E. Some enter a state of meditation.

F. One can decipher whether what the Guru speaks is just in humour or casual or whether He is trying to teach something through it, only when one is at a very high spiritual level.’(6)

4.5 Inability to do anything without the Guru’s wish

‘Once when Baba visited Dr. Athavale as soon as He arrived He said, “Serve me food.” Dr. Athavale said to Him, “Baba food is ready. Only the lentil (Dal) for the curry is in the cooker. The curry will be ready within ten minutes. Then, I will serve You.” In response, Baba said, “Then serve Me yesterday’s curry.” Dr. Athavale thought to himself, “How can I serve stale curry to Baba?” Thus half an hour elapsed saying “I will serve You now”. Still the pressure cooker did not sound its whistles. Then realising his mistake Dr. Athavale served Him the stale curry according to His wish. Later he found that the lentil in the cooker had remained uncooked !’(7)

In the 13th adhyay (chapter) of the Gurucharitra the Guru tells the disciple chanting The Lord’s Name, ‘You have acquired the Guru’s speech’. This means that from that moment onwards, all his actions – physical, psychological and verbal will be as approved by the Guru.

4.6 Inability to do anything without the Guru’s knowledge

‘Jiji (wife of H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj) has financial difficulties since Baba does not give her money. Knowing this if someone gives Jiji a sari or any other gift without His knowledge, then Baba immediately tells Jiji, “Give me the sari and money that has been presented to you.” If Jiji makes a fuss, then He shouts and abuses to such an extent that finally she is compelled to give them to Him. Nowadays knowing this well she surrenders it the very first time that He asks for it. Through this, Baba teaches His devotees that they cannot do anything behind His back, without His consent.

4.7 Getting rid of a disciple’s ego

In 1992, Gurupournima was celebrated in Mumbai. When preparations for it were on, off and on Baba used to ask whether any help was needed. At that time, Dr. Athavale used to tell Baba, “We will take care of everything. Please do not worry.” The feeling behind it was that they would collect money and celebrate Gurupournima in a grand way. Later when Baba informed that “money was required for the construction of the Indore ashram” Dr. Athavale gave away all the funds collected for Gurupournima. After funds were collected again, Baba said, “Give me a part of the money that you will offer me as a gift (Gurudakshina) for Gurupournima, to dig a well at the Kandli ashram.” So Dr. Athavale gave it to Him. Now that they had given away all the collected funds, he was worried as to how they would celebrate Gurupournima. However, he immediately realised that Baba had done all this just to get rid of the ego, “We will celebrate Gurupournima”. From then on both, the tension disappeared and the rest of the jobs were completed smoothly.’ (8)

4.8 Falling in spiritual love with the Guru

A. Feeling like looking at the Guru all the time.

B. Feeling like staring at the Guru’s photograph.

C. Feeling like living with the Guru.

On account of this love when returning after meeting the Guru, the disciple’s state is akin to that of a daughter who looks back as she leaves for her in-laws’ home.

4.9 The stages of going to pay respects (darshan) to the Guru

A. A yearning to meet the Guru.

B. An increase in the yearning and visiting the Guru repeatedly.

C. Visiting the Guru less often or not going at all due to a decrease in the attachment to the Guru’s body. ‘One disciple (Dr. Athavale) used to often visit Baba so as to be in His company. Later, that attachment disappeared. So he felt that there was a lapse in his spiritual practice. When he asked Baba about this, He replied, “This happens as one progresses towards non-duality (advait)”.’(9)

D. Visiting the Guru to express one’s gratitude to Him.

E. After becoming one with the Guru’s mission visiting Him only when it is essential for the mission or when the Guru so wishes.

4.10 How does a disciple who has surrendered everything write his name?

‘Shri Bhaktaraj, Guru Anantanand Saish (the Guru’s Name is written instead of one’s father’s name. The surname is omitted.) [The method of writing names in North India is: Mr. (Shri.) Kanhaiyalal, son of Shivkumar, Yadav).]’(10)

4.11 Whether good or bad everything belongs to the Guru

Sadguru, my Lord, You are the guilty one,
forgive Your Own mistakes.

The implied meaning: Once a disciple surrenders everything to the Guru, nothing belongs to him, anymore. Hence, if a disciple commits mistakes physically or mentally they are in a way made by the Guru Himself! So the Guru Himself is held guilty!

4.12 The real disciple

The one who obtained it, hid it.
He is the great one, he himself is the Guru’s child.

The implied meaning: Here “obtained it” refers to the experience of Self-realisation (Atmanubhuti). “Hid it” means hid the fact that he had attained Self-realisation, from others. (In fact it cannot be narrated in words.) “Guru’s child” refers to the Guru’s real disciple. One does not tell everyone that one possesses a precious diamond. Similarly, one who has acquired the invaluable spiritual experience of Self-realisation, does not proclaim it to the world. He has experienced it because he has no ego and it is for the same reason that he does not tell everyone about it.’(11)

4.13 How does attachment to the Guru persist after transcending from the Guru’s physical body to The Lord’s Name?

With the constant awareness that it is the Guru who has imparted The Lord’s Name.

4.14 Stages of progress

‘In reality one’s soul, the Guru’s soul, God and Brahman are all one and the same. Hence one has to say that Godliness is the nature of the soul. When that nature of the devotee’s soul manifests itself it is referred to as The Lord’s or the Guru’s grace. Saint Eknath has said, “I (The Lord) at once uplift the one on whom the Guru bestows His grace”.

  • Initially the average person considers that “The Lord is the Master-doer of all actions”.
  • When his spiritual practice becomes balanced, The Lord grants him with a Sadguru for his upliftment. Then he begins to feel that “The Sadguru does everything”.
  • On acquisition of the Guru’s grace, that is after attaining Self-realisation he realises that “I am doing everything” and that earlier too “I was doing everything without realising the same”.’
    – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon

Information on how a disciple makes spiritual progress step by step is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 41 – Spiritual Progress’.

4.15 Blending of the Guru and the disciple

A. ‘Baba: I could read My Guru’s thoughts automatically. He had caught My pulse, so I could catch His.

B. An incident: Once one of Baba’s disciples felt that he should offer obeisance to another disciple. When the first disciple went to Baba, Baba told him to do exactly that.

Dr. Athavale: In this case in whose mind did the thought appear first, Yours or the disciple’s? Which was the image and which the reflection?

Baba: Here there was no image and reflection, there was no duality. The same thought appeared in my mind and that of my disciple simultaneously.’(12)

C. ‘A call of the mendicant and the mendicant of the call.

The implied meaning: “A call of the mendicant” refers to the call of the disciple. Later, the same disciple gets transformed into a Guru. Hence he is referred to as “the mendicant of the call”. Just as there is non-duality between a call and a mendicant later it develops between a Guru and a disciple.’(13)

D. In the final stage of progress the disciple merges into the Guru completely. Only their physical bodies are different. Merging of the disciple with the Guru means the disciple’s desire, mental, causal and supracausal bodies are almost completely destroyed, just like the Guru’s.

E. A Guru’s service unto the disciple: After the blending of the Guru and disciple occurs if the Guru serves the disciple during his illness or even otherwise the disciple does not feel anything about it. When the disciple is eating, the Guru feels ‘He is feeding Me’, when bathing that ‘He is bathing Me’ and while washing his clothes ‘He is washing My clothes’ and both experience the love of the manifest (sagun).

F. Forgetting the Guru: When experiencing objects, one gets engrossed in them. In the same way, forgetting the Guru when performing devotion unto Him means non-duality (advait).

G. The disciple in the company of the Guru changes,
He changes so drastically that he himself becomes the
Sadguru.

You too must change just as I,
I have changed because of Lord Janardan and have become
Parabrahman.

H. Maximum merging of the various bodies of the disciple and those of the Guru

The body Maximum merging %
1. Physical 1
2. Subtle 40
3. Causal 100
4. Supracausal 100

4.16 Ascending the Sadguru’s seat after His renunciation of the body

The disciple hesitates to take the Guru’s seat even after the Guru tells him to do so as he is worried whether he will be able to shoulder such a great responsibility. However, this is wrong; as, actually the Guru Himself fulfills that responsibility.

What should one ask the Guru for?

Contents


 

1. A disciple’s life

1.1 Behaviour in society

In society, a disciple should be well behaved. Otherwise people will criticise the Guru saying, ‘Is this the way the Guru has taught him to behave?’ Every physical, verbal and psychological action of the disciple should be approved of by the Guru. For instance, he should avoid criticising others, behaving immorally, etc.

1.2 One should take treatment during an illness

‘When one of Baba’s disciples (Dr Jayant Athavale) noticed that another disciple appeared ill he asked him, “Are you taking treatment?” The latter replied, “I am completing my destiny by undergoing it.” In response, the former asked, “Have you found out whether the illness is due to destiny or wilful action?” He did not reply to this query. So the first disciple spoke further, “If one is not supposed to take medicines in an illness, then the Ayurveda referred to as the fifth Veda would never have been written. Besides, it is said that the physical body is the medium for practising Spirituality”. He did not respond to this as well.

Later, the first disciple, realising that the illness of the second disciple was grave, reported this to Baba. (This was a mistake on his part as Baba inspite of being Omniscient observes everything with the stance of a spectator. He too should have done the same.) Baba angrily retorted, “Does he think he is a greater Maharaj than Me? What does he mean by not taking medicines when even I take them? Just forget about him”.’(1)

1.3 Eating

‘I eat believing that I am eating the leftovers of the Guru, hence I do not offer chitrahuti (a portion of food set aside as an offering to God, before the commencement of a meal).

Question : Why does one eat the Guru’s leftovers?
Baba        : The Guru constantly chants The Lord’s
Name. One eats His leftovers so that one may
be able to chant similarly. If one’s motive is
otherwise then one may not eat it.’(2)

1.4 Living Spirituality

Once the Guru, when leaving by car told a lady disciple, “Sit in the car. Tell Me where to drop you”. On this, she replied, “What shall I tell You now? Take me wherever You wish.” Mostly the Guru speaks with a spiritual connotation while the disciple speaks in the worldly sense. Here, the reverse had occurred. The Guru spoke in the worldly sense and the disciple replied in the spiritual context!

1.5 The real relationship

The only real relationship is that of the embodied soul (jiva) and The Supreme God (Shiv), that is the disciple and the Guru. All other relationships from the Great Illusion such as those of parents, spouses, children, etc. are untrue.

1.6 The name given by the parents and that imparted by the Guru

A. ‘The name given based on one’s qualities is from the unmanifest (nirgun) while other names are from the manifest (sagun).

The implied meaning: In “the name given based on one’s qualities is from the unmanifest”, the unmanifest refers to either the signs of spiritual progress or the Guru’s naming of a disciple according to the sect. Contrary to this, parents name their child based on its visible external features or its constitution.’(3)

B. ‘The name given by the parents pertains to the physical body, that is Prakruti whereas that given by the Guru (The Lord’s Name) is in accordance with the God principle.

C. Impressions made on oneself make one feel that the name given by one’s parents is one’s own. Similarly one should make oneself feel that The Lord’s Name imparted by the Guru is one’s own, through impressions of the Name (by chanting). The Name given by the Guru indicates that one belongs to someone (the Guru principle). Later forgetting the name imparted by one’s parents, one should feel The Lord’s Name to be one’s own.

D. The son carries forth the name of his parents, while a disciple carries forward the one given by his Guru. [Shri Anantanand Saish used to call Baba (Bhaktaraj Maharaj) both His disciple and son. Thus Baba carried forward His Name in both ways. Physically He named Baba “Bhaktaraj” and internally kindled the Name of the Guru principle.]’(4)

1.7 Letter-writing

A. The Name of the deity to be written when beginning a letter: One should write the Gurumantra imparted by the Guru. (Those who do not have a Guru should write ‘Shri [ Name of the family deity with the dative case (chaturthi pratyay)] ….. namaha.’

B. How should one write a letter to the Guru?: There is absolutely no need to write to the Guru since He is Omniscient. However, under the influence of emotions if one feels like writing to Him then one should prefix the entire title, if any to His Name. For instance ‘108 Shri’, ‘Paramhansa’, etc. If he does not have a title then one should begin the letter with ‘To, H.H. Shrimat Sadguru …. I offer obeisance (shirsashtang namaskar) at Your lotus feet’ and should conclude it with ‘desirous of Your grace (krupabhilashi)’ or ‘desirous of the dust from Your feet (charanrajechchu)’.

C. There is no need to write letters to the Guru: ‘Once as a disciple (Dr. Jayant Athavale) began writing a letter to Baba he felt that Baba was talking to him from within, “To whom are you writing a letter? I am already with you.” So he stopped writing the letter. Later, when he actually met Baba, He repeated the same sentence. Forgetting this incident, on 18th May 1992 the disciple wrote another letter to Baba. However, when the one who was to deliver the letter to Baba arrived, the letter just could not be traced! Then he recollected the earlier incident.’(5)

D. The commencement and conclusion of a letter written by the Guru’s most senior disciples addressing their junior gurubrethren

To, Shri .(Mr.) …. with blessings by the grace of Shrimat Sadguru (name of the Guru)
– Yours

E. The commencement and conclusion of a letter written to gurubrethren senior to oneself

To, Respected Shri .(Mr.) the Guru’s servitor …. I offer obeisance at your feet
Desirous of your grace,
– Yours

F. The commencement and conclusion of a letter written to other gurubrethren

To, the Guru’s servitor Shri .(Mr.) …. greetings (saprem namaskar).

Instead of obeisance one may write the mantra of the sect such as ‘Hari Om tatsat’. In the absence of a mantra one may write the Name of one’s family deity or ‘Shri Kuladaivatayai [the dative case (chaturthi pratyay) of the Name of the family deity] namaha’.
– Your gurubrother

G. The method of commencement and conclusion of a letter written to disciples of other Gurus: One should decide this depending on whether they are senior, junior or equal to oneself and do as given above. If one does not know this then one should write to them considering that they are senior to oneself.

1.8 How should one live in the ashram?

A. One should not live in the ashram as if living in a caravanserai (dharmashala).

B. One should not take away the Guru’s belongings such as slippers, blankets, etc. from the ashram, as the Guru’s holy sacrament (prasad) without anyone’s knowledge!

C. One should live in the ashram without being a burden to anyone there. One should see to it that other inmates of the ashram are neither overburdened with work or undergo mental tension by one’s presence nor that the ashram has to bear the expenses incurred on one’s behalf. One should also not be a financial strain on the ashram. Arrangements for bedding should be made by oneself.

D. In all aspects – physical, psychological and financial, one’s stay in the ashram should prove useful to the ashram. One should do any sort of work alloted in the ashram as part of service to the Guru.

E. One should meticulously follow the rules and regulations of the ashram.

F. The importance of living in an ashram: Living in the ashram is very important to reduce the attachment to one’s home, to eliminate the attachment to one’s body (dehabuddhi), to consider others as a part of one’s own family and to reduce one’s ego.

1.9 Behaviour with other Gurus and saints

A. One should certainly be loyal to one’s Guru. But one should not harbour duality about other Gurus. The feeling that ‘my Guru is superior to others’ is an indication of ignorance.

B. ‘Never compare two saints

  • One should never compare two spiritually evolved persons. A seeker should say, “Let Them be as They are, you be as you are. But make me steady where I am”.
  • One should never measure the difference between two saints. One should not compare two embodied souls (jivas).

    The implied meaning: The one who measures the difference between two saints has to be superior to both of Them. Even if this be so, since ultimately everything is Brahman neither can two saints nor can two beings be compared. Besides since each one acts according to God’s will (Ishvarechcha) and one’s destiny, making comparisons is pointless.

C. Two individuals differ in their basic temperaments, but share a common principle.

The implied meaning: The temperament of every individual differs according to the variation in the three components (trigunas)- sattva, raja and tama in him. However, the principle which is common to all individuals is the soul or Brahman principle.’(6)

1.10 Considering a saint as one’s Guru

‘Baba established an ashram at Mortakka and named it after His Guru Shri Anantanand Saish as “Anantanand Saish Sevasadan”. Later Purnapurushottamacharya came into Baba’s life. Baba considered Him as His Guru. Once seeing the word “Anantanand” in the name of the ashram Purnapurushottamacharya said, “Don’t you consider me your Guru? Then why did you name the ashram only Anantanand?” Then Baba realised that since the Guru principle was the same He could not name the ashram only Anantanand. So He changed the name of the ashram to “Shri Sadguru Sevasadan”.’(7)

2. Disciples and gurubrethren

2.1 Relations with gurubrethren

‘The disciple should especially remember the point that one should maintain a loving relationship with gurubrethren. Jealousy or hatred for gurubrethren wastes one’s energy. Besides, the attitudes of the subconscious mind (chittavrutti) start getting engrossed in these matters. Even when one sits down to do spiritual practice, the same thoughts cross one’s mind repeatedly. Hence, it is very essential to ignore others’ defects. In worldly life too one should be tolerant. Instead of letting the mind wander, it should be kept engrossed in the mantra imparted by the Guru. The greater the feeling of love for others the greater will be the bestowal of the Guru’s grace. At the time of initiation (diksha) too, the Guru wishes for the disciple’s well-being. If a particular seeker happens to harbour a feeling of hatred towards his gurubrethren then since this feeling is contrary to that expressed by the Guru it will definitely hamper the growth of the Guru’s energy in that seeker. Hence, it is absolutely essential to foster the feeling of mutual love among gurubrethren.’
– H.H. Swami Shivom Tirtha Maharaj

2.2 One should not criticize one’s gurubrethren

A. ‘An incident: Three devotees were not singing devotional songs (bhajans) during Baba’s bhajan programme. Two of them were seated with their eyes closed while the third was with his eyes open. Later one of the gurubrethren said to the other, “Everyone was singing bhajans. Only these three were not.” He implied that they were conceited, etc. Later, in their presence Baba said, “During bhajans the two with their eyes closed had gone into meditation while the third was experiencing Bliss.” Indeed, the third devotee (Dr. Jayant Athavale) was really experiencing Bliss at that time. But instead of humming the bhajan in his mind as usual, he was chanting; as, Baba has preached through several bhajans that one should “chant The Lord’s Name” and was simultaneously experiencing happiness from the bhajans. Most of the other devotees were merely singing bhajans, not chanting!’(8)

B. ‘When sitting for chanting at a specific time it was the responsibility of the one reading the holy verses (pothi) to keep the others awake. Taking undue advantage of this to make people believe that when Baba (Amburaya) sits for chanting with His face covered with a blanket He is actually asleep, the reader of the holy verses began proclaiming Baba’s name aloud. Baba responded to his call once or twice. Later when Baba realised that the reader was doing it deliberately, He stopped responding. This encouraged the reader to call out Baba’s name even louder. When another saint who was also seated there, saw this He sent a message to the reader “Amburaya does not sleep. He is engrossed in chanting. Do not disturb Him by calling out to Him again and again”.’(9)

2.3 Financial transactions

One should responsibly carry out monetary transactions with gurubrethren using one’s intellect. Otherwise there is a chance of being cheated by so-called gurubrethren as follows:

  • Some people collect money from gurubrethren saying that the Guru has sent a message to do so.
  • One such person collected money from several gurubrethren stating that he needed money to pay his lawyer.
  • Locating several people from the addresses given in the information brochure of the Sanstha, a swindler extorted money from them saying, ‘I attend satsang (spiritual meetings) in a far off centre. I was pickpocketed here. Please give me money for my return journey’.

To avoid such cheating, one should take the following precautions.

  • If one of the gurubrethren asks for help, instead of helping individually one should inform the head of the local centre and if necessary, help the person through the Sanstha.
  • If he belongs to another centre, one should contact others from that centre and then only, help the individual; if he is deemed to be deserving.

2.4 The Guru and other gurubrethren

If the Guru is enraged with a disciple then realising that there must be some motive behind it, one should observe that with the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav).

3. When a couple has the same Guru

When a couple has the same Guru, they become gurubrethren only from the spiritual and not from the worldly point of view. The advantage of both spouses having the same Guru is that differences arising from following different paths of spiritual practice are averted. Also, arguments like ‘My Guru said this’, ‘My Guru is great’, ‘What did your Maharaj do for you?’ are avoided. They are able to blend with each other all the more.

4. A disciple’s test

A. Even if a Guru takes a disciple with Him to a prostitute and asks him to wait outside, he should not let any doubt cross his mind. The Guru has done this either to test his faith or to bring about the upliftment of the prostitute.

B. ‘If one has to listen to criticism by a saint, then realising that it is a test one should divert one’s mind from it.

The implied meaning: If someone is criticised by a saint since one is unable to understand why He is speaking so or His motive, one should not pay attention to it. If one does pay attention, then taking for granted what is said to be true, he may unnecessarily misunderstand others.’(10)

C. In the examination of Spirituality, one has to solve all sorts of questions. It is not sufficient to answer just four out of six questions. One has to succeed in all the questions. Here passing does not mean acquiring 35% or 50% marks. It refers to a disciple who has acquired 100% qualities and has been declared successful.

D. In reality, since the Guru is Omniscient, He does not need to test a disciple. However, at times a Guru does it just to display the potential of a disciple to others.

E. A Guru teaches a disciple, tests him, suggests answers and declares him successful! If He were not to do this, He would be a failure Himself!

5. The planets in the horoscope, the days of the week and the Guru

5.1 The planets

The range of influence of the planets is only upto the physical body. The one who has no attachment to his body (dehabuddhi) is unaffected by planets. Thus the physical suffering of the one who has surrendered to the Sadguru depends on the Sadguru’s wish and not on the motion of the planets. According to His wish a disciple’s destiny is either postponed or suffered beforehand or the disciple undergoes it at his convenience.

The old horoscope is of no use after rebirth. Acquiring a Guru too is a kind of rebirth. The horoscope needs to be restructured according to that time. Actually once the Guru is acquired no planet other than ‘Guru’ remains in the disciple’s horoscope.

An individual asked Bhuranand Baba for His horoscope. He responded saying, “Only the body has a horoscope. Saints do not have a body, so which horoscope shall I give you?”

5.2 The day of the week

The devotee of the Guru knows only one day (var) of the week and that is ‘Guruvar (Thursday)!

6. What should one ask the Guru for?

A. Do not take undue advantage of the Guru!: An individual once prayed to the Guru for cinema tickets! The real disciple of course, never asks the Guru for such materialistic things. The disciple, who is a newcomer however, should not entertain such thoughts even in jest.

B. ‘Do not ask me for happiness, ask for the strength to endure unhappiness.

The implied meaning: Since happiness is from the Great Illusion, it is temporary. Hence, one should not ask the Guru for it. Simultaneously one should bear in mind that granting everlasting Bliss is the real mission of the Guru. However, if one has to experience unhappiness according to one’s destiny, then the Guru definitely gives one the strength to endure the unhappiness arising from those traumatic events. So, it does not matter, if one asks the Guru for inner strength to face them.’(11)

C.

The Guru      : What do you want?
The disciple : I wish that You cherish my memory in Your
heart (I cherish Yours in mine) constantly.

D. ‘Shri Shankaracharya said, “If you have anything to ask, then do so.” Tears welled in Padmapad’s eyes. Folding his hands in obeisance he said, “Guru, my Lord (Acharyadev) now we have nothing left to ask. By Your grace may we follow the path that You have chalked out by Your lifelong efforts. You alone are the guiding light of our lives. Bless us so as to develop the potential to follow in Your footsteps”.’

E. Never ask the Guru for anything: Harbouring the faith that ‘one’s Guru is Omniscient and that He knows what is useful or necessary for one, more than oneself ’ one must continue to carry on spiritual practice. If one asks for something without deserving it, He will not grant it. But if one deserves it, then He grants it without one’s asking for it. Then why should one ask for anything at all?

F. After offering one’s body, mind, wealth and life to the Guru need one ask the Guru for anything else?

G. No matter how great the obstacles are,
Instead of seeking help from others,
He knows that obstacles can do nothing before
Lord Rama’s Name. – Shri Eknathi Bhagvat 24:341

Meaning: A real seeker does not pray even to the Sadguru, if faced with severe obstacles; as he has such intense faith that no obstacle can survive the chanting of The Lord’s Name. Here, Lord Rama’s Name refers to The Lord’s Name.

What should one do to acquire a Guru and His grace?

Contents


 

1. The Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)

There is no salvation other than the Guru,
One should surrender unto Him. – Saint Tukaram

I follow the orders of the Guru of this world,
I at once uplift the one on whom He bestows His grace.
– Shri Eknathi Bhagvat 11:788

2. The importance of the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)

Without the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) it is difficult to progress beyond a spiritual level of 60% no matter which path one practises, Path of Action (Karmayoga), Path of Knowledge (Dnyanyoga), Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga) or any other. In the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga), a seeker learns how to acquire the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) faster, by sidetracking the other paths rather than wasting years practising them. In this path a Guru is acquired at a spiritual level of just 55%. Naturally, this path expedites spiritual progress.

3. The importance of the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)

‘One comprehends the unmanifest (nirgun) with intellect and the manifest (sagun) with spiritual love (priti). In other words, this intellect is a subtle form of the intellect acquired by studying the scriptures. This intellect destroys the anadi (one without a begining) illusion. From the beginning of the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha) each one has the illusion (misconcept) that ‘I am distinct from Brahman’. By studying the scriptures one realises that ‘I am not distinct from Brahman’ by means of his intellect. However later he begins to feel ‘If I am not different from Brahman then how is it that I do not experience it?’ and thus another illusion develops. This illusion having an origin is described as adi illusion. This (adi) illusion is destroyed solely by the grace of the Guru. This means that on account of the Guru’s grace that is the love of the manifest (sagun prem) and the devotion of the manifest (sagun bhakti) derived through satsang (holy company) transform His love, that is convert love into spiritual love (priti) which is devoid of expectation, the form of the manifest (sagun) itself vanishes. As a result, the notions originating from relative knowledge that the manifest has a form and the unmanifest is formless are destroyed. When relative knowledge gets transformed into absolute knowledge the difference between the manifest and the unmanifest with regard to form, no longer persists. If relative knowledge were to be true then its awareness would not have been destroyed. This awareness of relative knowledge, that is pratyay itself is the adi illusion. Once the devotion of the manifest begins, actual realisation (sakshatkar) that the manifest is really unmanifest Bliss occurs, the knowledge of the unmanifest that is thinking that the unmanifest is different from the manifest dissolves and one experiences “I am Brahman” that is he experiences non-duality. Hence, saints term the unmanifest as the most subtle among spoken topics (vachyansha) and the manifest as the ultimate target (lakshyansha), that is The Lord. Since scholars have no experience of satsang (holy company), this concept is not acceptable to them. Rameshvar Bhatt who was instrumental in immersing the holy verses of Saint Tukaram in water attained Absoluteness (Purnatva) with the grace of Saint Tukaram alone.’ – H.H.Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon.

4. The mechanism of action of the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)

The success of any activity depends upon the functioning of the various components constituting that activity. Just as the hydrogen bomb is more powerful than the atom bomb, so also is the subtle in comparison to the gross. This point will be illustrated by the example of the various methods employed to destroy the enemy, given below. The more progressive the step, the more effective it is.

A. Physical: Perceiving the whereabouts of the enemy with the five senses, for instance sensing the enemy or his movements, one can shoot with a gun. However, if he hides behind a structure, motionless then the gunman will not be able to shoot him and therefore cannot kill him. Here, only a physical weapon is employed to kill. Different substances are used for different functions, for example different tablets are used as medicine for different disease causing germs, etc. Therefore if mere physical means do not help then they should be combined with subtle means as described below.

B. A combination of physical means and a mantra (subtle): In the ancient times, arrows were shot from a bow only after chanting a mantra. Due to the mantra, the name of the enemy would get recorded on the arrow and no matter where the enemy hid in the three regions (triloks) that is earth (bhu), nether region (bhuv) and heaven (svarga) the arrow would certainly kill him. This was due to the energy of the subtle means (mantra) which accompanied the weapon (arrow). The motive behind chanting mantras while preparing medicines in the Ayurveda is the same. Similarly when removing a spirit responsible for possession blackgram (udid), marking nut (bibba), lime, needles, etc. are used to the accompaniment of mantras. Nevertheless, at times inspite of both the physical and subtle being present, one does not achieve much success. At such times a more subtle means, that is more powerful mantras should be used as given below.

C. Mantra (more subtle): In the next step an enemy can be vanquished without using physical weapons like guns, bows and arrows, etc. In order to achieve certain things, for instance marriage, riches, etc. various mantras are prescribed. At times, however, even mantras do not yield results. In such cases the next step has to be implemented.

D. The intention (sankalpa) [even more subtle]: Even a mere thought like ‘May it occur’ in the mind of an evolved person (saint) is sufficient for the occurrence of an event. Nothing else is required. However, this is possible only in the case of a saint whose spiritual level exceeds 80%. Only when a Guru makes an intention (sankalpa) ‘May this disciple progress spiritually’ does the disciple make real spiritual progress. This itself is termed as the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa). A disciple cannot make spiritual progress without it as otherwise the adi (one with a beginning) illusion persists.

Anadi and adi are the two types of illusions. Being unaware of the presence of God in the Great Illusion (Maya) is the anadi (one without a beginning) illusion. This illusion is destroyed through the subtleness of the intellect which is acquired through the study of the scriptures. The illusion which has no beginning [an (अन्‌) + adi (आदि) = no beginning (अनादि)] is called anadi while the one which has an origin is called adi. Even after meeting Shri Guru so long as one experiences happiness and unhappiness, that is so long as attitudes perceiving that ‘one is happy or unhappy’ are generated in the antahkaran, till then that illusion persists. After meeting Shri Guru that illusion gets transformed into the adi type. The adi illusion is overcome with the Guru’s grace alone, that is one gets a spiritual experience of that nature.

E. The presence (most subtle): In this final step one does not even have to express an intention. Mere presence, proximity or company of the Guru is sufficient for a disciple’s spiritual practice and progress to occur automatically. The mission of a Guru of a spiritual level of more than 90% is of this nature.

This has occurred because of Me but I have not done it.
He who has realised this is liberated from the cycles
of birth and death.
– Shri Bhavarthadipika (Shri Dnyaneshvari) 4:81

The literal and implied meaning: In ‘this has occurred because of Me’ Me refers to The Supreme God principle in oneself. ‘But I have not done it’ implies absolving oneself of the sense of doership. A beautiful example to illustrate this is the sun which awakens everyone and makes the flowers bloom when it rises. This happens simply with its existence. The sun does not ask anyone to wake up or the flowers to bloom.

The Guru’s grace operates based on points ‘D. The intention’ and ‘E. The presence’ given above.

The Guru’s energy of initiation (anugraha) itself is the universal energy of the Guru principle (Gurupad). Though initiation is acquired through spiritual practice (sadhana) as the means, it is actually Shri Guru Himself who is the ultimate solution!

5. What should one do to acquire a Guru and His grace?

The only virtue responsible for the rapid acquisition of a Guru and the constant bestowal of His grace thereafter, is intense motivation for Liberation (mumukshutva) or intense yearning for a Guru. A youth strives to win a girl’s heart by constantly contemplating on what he should do to please her. Similarly, one should make all efforts to acquire the Guru’s grace so that the Guru calls one His own. One should constantly strive day and night to do whatever one can to please Him. In the Kaliyug, acquisition of a Guru or His grace is not as difficult as it was in the previous three eras (yugs). A salient point to be noted here is that one cannot acquire a Guru without bestowal of His grace. A Guru is already aware of who His future disciple will be. One should undertake the spiritual practice mentioned in the following points in order to acquire the grace of the Guru. The points are enumerated in ascending order of importance. Along with the practice of these points one should also try to develop the qualities of a disciple.

6. Spiritual practice according to the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)

In order to acquire a Guru, points ‘6.1 to 6.4’ and for the constant bestowal of His grace excluding point ‘6.3’ all the other points should be practised conscientiously. In point ‘6.2’ the only modification is that instead of the family deity’s Name, the Name imparted by the Guru should be chanted.

6.1 Worship of the family deity (kuladevata)

The Lord chooses each individual to be born in that particular family (kula) whose family deity he needs to worship so as to make spiritual progress. Worship of the family deity also alleviates the intensity of the destiny which accompanies each one till the last breath. Due to these two main reasons, instead of any other spiritual practice, one should worship the family deity (kuladevata) in order to acquire a Guru. To achieve this end, one should perform His/Her ritualistic worship (puja), chant verses (stotras) in His/Her praise, recite holy books periodically (parayans), visit His/Her temple (darshan) as often as possible, etc. Details about why one should undertake the spiritual practice of the family deity (kuladevata) is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 9 – Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’.

Worship of Lord Datta: Unlike the bygone days, nowadays since rites like shraddha, paksha, etc. for departed souls are not performed by most people nearly 30% of people are troubled by ancestors’ unsatisfied souls.  That is why there are obstacles both in worldly life and in one’s spiritual practice as well. Since an average person can never know whether he is included in those 30% or whether he will be troubled by ancestors in the future, one should chant three malas (rosaries) of ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’ daily. One should increase the chanting to six to nine malas if the trouble is severe.

6.2 Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasmaran)

Chanting refers to the continuous remembrance of The Lord’s Name. Of all the Names of The Lord, chanting the Name of the family deity (kuladevata) is the most useful. In fact it is the foundation of all the spiritual practices incorporated in the path of Guru’s grace (Gurukrupayoga). As one does chanting gradually one’s spiritual level reaches 40%. Then chanting occurs automatically off and on and one is also able to perceive a little in the subtle dimension. Also due to chanting one forgets about other things and begins to experience Bliss off and on. Detailed information on chanting of The Lord’s Name is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 9 – Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’.

6.3 Satsang (Holy company)

The Bliss obtained through chanting of The Lord’s Name is experienced automatically despite not chanting, at a satsang (spiritual meeting). Such an experience is obtained at a spiritual level of 50%. Due to the collective sattva component of all the seekers at the satsang,each one who attends it is benefitted by it, that is the raja and tama attitudes in each one gradually begin to decrease. It is much easier to obtain the experience of Bliss by attending a satsang rather than increasing one’s own sattva component by chanting. Hence a seeker diligently attends satsangs more often. If a satsang is conducted by an evolved seeker then attending it proves to be even more beneficial. Since the sattva component of an evolved person is substantial the amount of frequencies of Bliss emanating from him is greater and as a result a seeker experiences more Bliss.

The importance of satsang (holy company) will be illustrated by the story below.

Once an argument took place between the Sages Vasishtha and Vishvamitra on the relative superiority of satsang (holy company) and penance. Sage Vasishtha proclaimed satsang to be superior whereas Vishvamitra was in favour of penance. To decide the winner of the debate, they went to God. The Lord said “Only the serpent Shesh will be able to settle the dispute.” Then the duo went to the serpent Shesh. When they asked Shesh the question, He replied, “Please lighten the load of the earth on My head. Then I will think it over and answer your query.” So, Vishvamitra made the following resolution, ‘I offer the benefit acquired as a result of a thousand years of my penance. May the earth above Shesh’s head shift a little’. Yet, the earth did not stir. Then Sage Vasishtha expressed His resolve, ‘I now offer the benefit gained as a result of half a ghatka (twelve minutes) of being in satsang. May the earth lighten the load.’ The earth immediately moved upwards.

Another benefit of remaining in satsang is that one develops the feeling that the other seekers attending it are ‘one’s own’. Hence, the younger generation starts living amicably forgetting the animosity present for generations together. From this very feeling the concept that ‘the whole universe is my home’ develops in due course of time. More information on satsang is provided in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 44 – Introduction to Spirituality and Individual Spiritual Practice’.

6.4 Service of the Absolute Truth (Satseva)

After attending satsang for a while a seeker realises that the ones who are active participants at or those who conduct a satsang (spiritual meeting), so also if the satsang is being conducted by an evolved seeker then they experience much more Bliss than himself. So, the seeker who wishes to experience Bliss like them instead of merely being a passive listener starts participating in the activities at the satsang. Thus he participates in organizing the satsang, for instance by distributing pamphlets giving information about the satsang, by pasting posters and putting up banners, giving information by personally contacting people, by tidying the venue of the satsang, spreading out mats or arranging chairs for the audience, etc. At a later stage he studies the matter himself and conducts satsangs. One should take special note of the following points with regard to service of the Absolute Truth.

  • Service has to be that of the Absolute Truth (Satseva). It has to be performed with the body, mind and wealth. Unless the spiritual level rises to 60% service does not occur wholeheartedly. Until then it is performed only intellectually. Service with the mind means chanting The Lord’s Name.
  • By giving precedence to satisfying someone else’s desires, gradually one’s needs become less and the seeker becomes more adept at following the path of Spirituality.
  • The service of non-truth (asat), for instance the service of patients is mostly done under the influence of emotions considering illusion to be the truth. Also, the ego that ‘I am doing this service’ is present in such an attitude. As a result, as spiritual practice it is not of much use. As against this, to overcome the ego, one serves the Absolute Truth with spiritual emotion (bhav). Besides with service of the non-truth (asat), a ‘give and take account’ is generated.

A. Importance of spreading spirituality (the best service of the Absolute Truth)

  • 1. Doing whatever one can according to one’s potential towards the Guru’s mission is the simplest and the most important path. This point will be highlighted with the following example: Suppose preparations are going on for a programme and everybody is busy doing different chores like cleaning or decorating the place, cooking or cleaning utensils. If one is busy in cleaning the place and at this juncture if another person steps in and joins the group busy with the cooking then one does not feel any closeness towards him. On the contrary if he comes forward to assist in the cleaning then one definitely feels drawn to him. The same is true for the Guru. The mission of Gurus and saints is to inculcate a liking for Righteousness (Dharma) and spiritual practice among the masses; to inspire them to practise Spirituality and to spread Spirituality. If one performs this task according to one’s potential then the Guru feels, ‘He is mine’. Such a thought in the Guru’s mind itself is the heralding of His grace (Gurukrupa).

    Once a Guru handed over some grains of wheat to two of His disciples and told them, “Preserve these grains carefully until I return.” On His return after a year, the Guru approached the first disciple and asked him, “Have you preserved the wheat carefully?” Replying in the affirmative the disciple brought forth the container with the wheat grains and showed it to the Guru. He then said, “The wheat you had given me is just as it was.” Then the Guru approached the second disciple and asked him the same question. The disciple then took the Guru to a nearby field. The Guru was overjoyed seeing a field flourishing with the wheat crop everywhere. In the same way, one should spread the Name and spiritual knowledge (dnyan) imparted to one by the Guru, to others.

  • 2. The spread of Spirituality is more important than the superconscious state (samadhi)

    The Guru is pleased and says the disciple has attained
    the superconscious state,
    He tries to awaken him for the sake of the masses. – 52:5
    He fondles him gently, embraces him lovingly,
    O dearest disciple return to the waking state. – 52:6
    You have crossed the illusion of worldly life
    But if you remain in the superconscious state,
    The spiritual knowledge will remain obscured in you,
    Then how will the masses attain salvation? – 52.7
    -Shri Gurucharitra

  • 3. The comparative importance: The following table gives the amount of the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) that a disciple can acquire by performing a particular action.
The disciple’s action The Guru’s grace %
(Gurukrupa)
1. Paying a visit (darshan) to the Guru 2
2. Asking questions only on Spirituality 10
3. Performing tasks at the ashram 40
4. Effective *part time spread of Spirituality 70
5. Effective *full time spread of Spirituality 100

*To spread Spirituality effectively one needs to have all the virtues of a disciple. It is not sufficient to preach like a politician or a social reformer.

  • 4. Service unto the unmanifest (nirgun) and manifest (sagun) forms of the Guru: The spread of Spirituality is service unto the unmanifest form of the Guru. This service has 70% importance in acquiring the grace of the Guru whereas service to the manifest form of the Guru has only 30% importance. To achieve the complete grace of the Guru (Gurukrupa) it is essential for one to do both.
  • 5. Collective (samashti) and individual (vyashti) practice of Spirituality: Collective practice of Spirituality means that which is undertaken by society, whereas individual practice is confined to an individual seeker. According to the influence of time (kal) in the Kaliyug, the importance of practising Spirituality collectively is 70% and that of practising it individually is 30%. Hence, to progress spiritually it is important to motivate as many people in the society as possible, to practise Spirituality. This is the service of the Absolute Truth in its real form. However to accomplish this one needs to increase one’s own spiritual level.

B. How can one accomplish it?: Some people err in thinking that ‘When I myself am not well versed about Righteousness (Dharma) and Spirituality, how will I be able to spread Spirituality?’ When Lord Krushna lifted the Govardhan mountain with His little finger the cowherds and their wives (gopas and gopis) helped in their own way by supporting it with their sticks. Though the Guru, that is God is the one who will reinstate Righteousness (Dharma) each one should make one’s small contribution towards it. One should study and teach Spirituality or provide financial help for the mission, whatever is possible according to one’s ability. If both these are not possible then one can paste posters, put up banners, organise lectures or workshops on Spirituality, collect funds for the mission, etc.

6.5 Acquisition of a Guru and service unto the Guru

With service of the Absolute Truth one’s spiritual level rises upto 55%. Then some saint accepts one as His disciple. Thereafter one begins doing service unto the Guru.

6.6 Sacrifice

Once a spiritual level of 60% is attained sacrifice in the real sense commences. One needs to give up the attachment to the body, mind and wealth in order to make spiritual progress. Of these, sacrifice of wealth is the easiest as it can be done physically. One can give away one’s wealth totally. However, the body and the mind cannot be sacrificed likewise. Yet one can sacrifice them before giving up wealth. This means that initially one can do service physically and chant The Lord’s Name mentally. Later, only when a seeker progresses upto 70% can he sacrifice wealth to some extent. This is akin to the trapeze artist in a circus. So long as the girl does not let go of the handle-bar of the swing she is clutching, the man hanging upside down on the opposite swing cannot catch her. Similarly, so long as a seeker does not sacrifice everything, God does not take care of him. How sacrifice of the body, mind and wealth goes on increasing stepwise is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 44 – Introduction to Spirituality and Individual Spiritual Practice’ under point ‘10 C’.

Sacrifice does not mean giving away all of one’s belongings. Rather it is getting rid of one’s attachment to them. The Guru makes the disciple sacrifice the objects in his possession. Finally, when the attachment ceases, He showers him with plenty. Since Shivaji Maharaj had no attachment for the kingdom he had offered to Samarth Ramdas Swami, the Swamiji returned it to him.

6.7 Donation (offering)

Donation should always be of the nature of ‘donation to the deserving’, that is ‘to the one worthy of it’. In this world, there is none more worthy than saints. Hence, whatever one wishes to donate should be offered only to Them. This is possible only for a seeker in the stage of mental worship (upasanakand). The one practising the inferior path of Action gives alms to beggars, donations to schools and hospitals under the influence of emotions. One acquires only merits from it. The seekers desirous of Liberation (mumukshu) want neither merits nor sins, since only heaven and not the Final Liberation (Moksha) is attainable with merits.

Saints and Gurus are the manifest (physical) forms of the unmanifest God. Hence, any offering made to saints and the Guru is as good as an offering to God Himself. Thus offering back to God that which is bestowed by Him does not create a “give and take account” but completes it. As such, the offering made to saints reduces the accumulated account (sanchit) and increases the ability to withstand the effects of destiny. Moreover, neither is any “give and take account” thereby created, nor is any merit acquired. Hence, whatever has to be offered should be given only to saints or for the mission of the Absolute Truth.

6.8 Spiritual love (priti) for others

One feels spiritual love (priti) for others only after attaining a spiritual level of 70%. Spiritual love means love without any expectations. In worldly love, there are expectations. By practising Spirituality the percentage of the sattva component increases and one tends to satisfy the visible and invisible creation in one’s surroundings. There is an expansion of love and one develops spiritual love towards others. One is able to perceive the presence of The Supreme God in each and every object and the whole world becomes one loving family – ‘वसुधैव कुटुंबकम्‌ ।’. In order to achieve this, in the beginning, one has to make efforts to love others. For this, it is important to remain in satsang (holy company). At first, one begins to feel spiritual love for other seekers attending the satsang (spiritual meeting) then for seekers from other sects, still later for non-seekers and finally for all living creatures.

6.9 The stance of a spectator (sakshibhav)

After attaining a spiritual level of 80% one is able to observe everything including one’s own spiritual progress as occurring due to the Guru’s wish.

6.10 The mission after attaining Self-realisation (Dnyanottar karya)

After attaining a spiritual level of above 90% the disciple lives with the feeling, ‘Now I am left only to repay the favours done by others’, that is one continues to live doing what is necessary for the society. With such spiritual practice the Guru’s grace is constantly showered on the disciple and he marches towards the Final Liberation (Moksha).

7. Initiation from the Guru (Gurudiksha) and Gurumantra

8. Physical indicators of the bestowal of the Guru’s grace

Once a seeker had gone to visit Chile Maharaj. Maharaj showed him his tonsured head on which there was an imprint of a hand. On enquiry Maharaj told him that, that indelible mark was imprinted on His head when His Guru had placed His hand on His (Maharaj’s) head to bless Him.

9. The necessity of continual grace of the Guru

Once one acquires a Guru and is initiated with a Gurumantra the bestowal of Guru’s grace begins. To maintain it perpetually it is mandatory for one to conscientiously continue the spiritual practice recommended by the Guru throughout one’s life.

Who is worthy of being called a disciple?

Contents


 

1. Definition and meaning of disciple

A disciple is one who practises Spirituality as advised by the Guru, with the motive of making spiritual progress. The Kularnav Tantra defines a disciple as,

शरीरमर्थप्राणांश्च सद्‌गुरुभ्‍यो निवेद्य य: ।
गुरुभ्‍य: शिक्षते योगं शिष्‍य इत्‍यभिधीयते ।।

Meaning: The one who surrenders his everything, that is, his body, wealth and life unto the Guru and learns Yoga from Him (that is, practises Spirituality as recommended by Him) is called a disciple (shishya). [Hence, even if a disciple deserts his wife and children and goes to his Guru he does not become a sinner.]

2. The importance of discipleship

A. A disciple does not need to repay the four debts namely to God, sages, ancestors and the society.

B. गुरुपुत्रो वरं मूर्खस्‍तस्‍य सिध्‍दयन्‍ति नान्‍यथा ।
शुभकर्माणि सर्वाणि दीक्षाव्रततपांसि च ।। १५१ ।। – श्री गुरुगीता

Meaning: Although a disciple serving the Guru worthy of being called His son appears to be foolish in worldly interactions, yet his spiritual practice consisting of initiations, vowed religious observances and penance attains fulfillment. Those not serving the Guru thus do not acquire such benefits. – Shri Gurugita

गुरुपुत्र अपंडित । जरी मूर्ख तो सुनिश्चित ।
त्‍याचेनि सर्व कार्यसिध्‍दि होत । सिद्धान्‍त हा वेदवचनीं ।। १०२ ।।
– श्री रंगनाथस्वामीकृत गुरुगीता

Meaning: The Guru’s son means His disciple while the unlearned (apandit) and foolish one means the one who appears foolish, externally. Though a disciple appears foolish externally, all the desires of those who visit him are fulfilled because of his spiritual powers. This is a doctrine from the Vedas.- Shri Gurugita by Shri Ranganathswami

3. The student and the disciple

Just as a Guru and a teacher can be differentiated [ refer ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 6 – Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga )], so also a disciple and a student are different. A student completes the account with his teacher by paying his fees. However, since the Guru imparts knowledge of the soul principle (atmadnyan) no matter how much one does for Him, it is still far too little. This is akin to one’s inability to repay one’s parents who have cared for one since childhood. The student means chatra.The word ‘chatra’ in Sanskrut is derived thus ‘छत्रं गुरोर्दोषाणामावरणं तच्‍छीलमस्‍येति ।’. Chatra is the one who is naturally endowed with the propensity to obscure the Guru’s (teacher’s) defects (shabdakalpadrum). As against this, the disciple never finds any defects in the Guru.

4. The medium and the disciple

Dr. Jayant Athavale: If a Guru gets His mission fulfilled through a disciple just like a subtle body which operates through some medium then I am not at all interested in Spirituality.

H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj (Baba): When one acts as a medium one cannot make spiritual progress. One remains influenced by someone else. On the contrary, when a Guru gets His mission accomplished through a disciple, He increases the potential of that disciple, just like Shri Ramakruíhna who first increased Vivekanand’s spiritual prowess and only then got His mission fulfilled through him.’ (1)

One of Baba’s disciples used to jot down everything that Baba taught from time to time. Baba would tell him, “This writing is of no use to you (since you can now learn non-verbally), but it will definitely benefit others.” Later, that disciple wrote a book on Spirituality which Baba liked. So Baba told him, “My Guru had blessed Me that I would write several books. I wrote only one book of devotional songs (bhajans). So now I am bestowing My Guru’s blessing unto you.” The disciple responded saying, “But I do not experience Bliss by writing books anymore.” (When one goes to the non-verbal level, regressing to the verbal level means loss of Bliss.) Baba then told him, “You will have to write books. It is your duty. Write small books on each topic. They should be easy to handle and affordable for the common man as well.”

In March 1987, just five months before meeting his Guru, in the introduction to the book on Spirituality the disciple had written, ‘I pray to The Almighty to grant me His grace to be able to write a separate book on each of the topics in this book, in modern scientific language’. This blessing was like a response to his prayer made much earlier.

Unaware of all this, people feel, ‘What an in-depth study this disciple has done! He has written such useful books’. They do not know that the Guru Himself has got this done through the disciple.

5. The Guru-disciple relationship

A. The Guru-disciple relationship is considered very sacred. It is the only true relationship. The Guru-disciple relationship is only spiritual in nature. The only awareness that a disciple should foster is that, ‘I should be uplifted spiritually’. The Guru too harbours only one feeling, ‘May this disciple be uplifted’. This relationship is independent of age. It is based on maturity of spiritual knowledge (dnyan) and spiritual practice (sadhana). All living organisms progress only through spiritual knowledge and spiritual practice. All other relationships are born out of fear or social commitments. Hence, they are bound by worldly restrictions. In these relationships, the ego constantly manifests itself and spiritual knowledge and the practice of Spirituality have no value. In other words, maintaining the ego helps to preserve these relationships. Thus, all relationships in which the ego is retained are albeit false.

B. Awareness of the Guru and disciple relation is an inferior sign.
Lord Narayan manifests in all living beings,
hence the other is akin to oneself.
One harbours fear perceiving the rope to be a snake.
Tuka says one should not pay attention to either
qualities or defects.

The explanation: Tukaram Maharaj says, “If everything is Brahman or Narayan then what is the need for Guruhood and discipleship? If everything is Brahman then is the disciple distinct from Him? If one does not realise that a rope lying in a place is a rope and perceives it as a snake then one will surely tremble in panic, at its sight!”

The sect of one disciple having one Guru which has become popular,
Aims at understanding the means to realise Me.
– Shri Bhavarthadipika (Shri Dnyaneshvari) 18:1226

One thinks that the Guru and disciple relationship is a causative factor in a disciple’s progress. This illusion is true only till the moment the disciple receives initiation (anugraha) from his Guru. When a disciple who is endowed with the Guru’s initiation asks the Guru, “After how long will I be liberated?” the latter replies, “You are liberated the moment you are initiated. If you disbelieve Me then undertake the practice of devotion (do spiritual practice) in order to obtain that spiritual experience. However, if you have faith then even devotion (spiritual practice) is not required.”

No sooner is one initiated than one achieves
the Final Liberation,
The soul is freed from bondages.
– Shri Dasbodh 8.7.59

Once the disciple attains the state of Absoluteness (Pûrnatva) the Guru-disciple relationship persists only in worldly terms for the sake of the people.’ – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon

6. Acquisition of a Guru

6.1 Do not go in search of a Guru

* The Guru appeared before me,
But how could I recognise Him without inner vision?
– Saint Bhaktaraj

* Although one may not recognise Him
bow down before Him,
He then will grant Self-realisation
enchanting one’s mind with pure love.
– Saint Bhaktaraj

The Guru principle being very subtle and a seeker’s power of perception being more of the gross and very little of the subtle dimension, in Spirituality one cannot find a Guru despite a search. A disciple is not supposed to choose his Guru. It is the Guru who chooses and spiritually uplifts His disciples. Once a seeker attains a spiritual level of more than 50% the Guru Himself accepts him as His disciple. However, despite the spiritual level being just 40%, if a seeker has intense motivation to make spiritual progress, then he is blessed with a Guru. In short, rather than going in search of a Guru, a seeker should make efforts to qualify as a disciple. [The spiritual level of an average person is 20% whereas that of one who has attained the Final Liberation (Moksha) is 100%]

6.2 One should not test the Guru

‘If one is able to develop faith only after testing, then one will have to test the Guru. The examiner however is superior to the pupil. If one feels one is superior, then how can one accept Him as one’s Guru ?’(2)

6.3 One should never consider oneself as someone’s disciple

One should never consider oneself as a disciple of a particular Guru. It is the Guru who should proclaim one to be His disciple. It is not sufficient for a youth to consider a young girl as his lover as she too should reciprocate his feelings. The same holds good in the Guru-disciple relationship too.

6.4 Whom should one choose as one’s Guru?

‘Each one should become a disciple of the unmanifest (nirgun) Guru and not just a follower of philosophy. Only when one experiences the unmanifest can one recognise the manifest (sagun) and only after realising the unmanifest does one become aware of where one stands spiritually. [A disciple of the unmanifest (nirgun) Guru is the disciple of the one who constantly experiences the unmanifest principle that is the Paratpar Guru or The Lord’s Name.]’(3)

6.5 The stage (ashram) in the four stages (ashrams) of the Guru and the disciple

A celibate (brahmachari) feels closer to a Guru who is a celibate. Similarly a retired householder (vanaprasthashrami) and a renunciant (sanyasashrami) feel closer to a Guru in the corresponding stage. A married householder (gruhastha) on the other hand, is equally attracted to either a celibate, a retired householder, a renunciant or a married householder as a Guru.

6.6 Acquisition of a Guru through guidance in the subtle dimension

It is well known that Saint Tukaram was initiated with the GurumantraRama Krushna Hari’ by His Guru Babaji Chaitanya through a vision in a dream. He said ‘Now God has granted me His vision (sakshatkar) and enlightened me with the fact that the one who you thought was your friend is now your Guru; that is why I am entrusting you in His custody. There is no longer any duality left between Him and Me. We are befitting each other’s grace totally. Henceforth He shall be your Guru’. (4)

7. Duty and debt to the Guru

A. A disciple has no obligation whatsoever towards such things from the Great Illusion (Maya) as his family, society, etc. His sole duty is to acquire the grace of the Guru and make spiritual progress.

B. One should not bring dishonour to the Guru’s name. H.H. Kane Maharaj used to feel ashamed to say that He was a disciple of Shridhar Swami because he feared that He would bring dishonour to His Guru’s name if his conduct was not worthy of a disciple.

C. Responsibilities of being a disciple

राजा राष्‍ट्रकृतं पापं पुरोहित: ।
भर्ता च स्‍त्रीकृतं पापं शिष्‍यपापं गुरुस्तथा ।।

Meaning: The brunt of the sins committed by the subjects have to be borne by the king, those committed by the king have to be borne by the chief priest, those committed by a woman have to be borne by her husband and those by a disciple by his Guru.

The implied meaning: The above quote is only on a psychological plane. The intention behind the statement is that a disciple should behave righteously keeping in mind that ‘if a disciple errs, his Guru is punished for those mistakes’. A Guru who has blended with God however, is beyond merits and sins and has nothing left to undergo.

D. One may find millions of Gurus
but one rarely finds a disciple.
Once a disciple is found
he should honour his Guru’s word.

Meaning: It is easy to find millions of Gurus. But to find even one genuine disciple is extremely difficult. If at all one is found then he should bring honour to his Guru. If a disciple does not progress spiritually then it is shameful for the Guru. In this regard, in a way it is upto the disciple to maintain his Guru’s honour and it is mandatory for him to fulfill this duty.

E. Only if one does spiritual practice and attains the Final Liberation (Moksha) is the debt to the Guru repaid. Otherwise one remains indebted to Him forever.

How to gain control over mind by practicing pranayam?

How to gain control over mind by practicing pranayam?

Contents


1. Benefits of pranayam

1.1 According to physiology

A. A reduction in the heart rate: Respiration slows down with practice of pranayam. As the respiratory rate decreases, the heart rate too decreases. Those with a low pulse rate have low risk of cardiac illness. If a middle aged and healthy individual has a pulse rate of less than seventy beats per minute then it is ideal.

B. Ability to survive without oxygen: While practising pranayam oxygen supply to all the cells in the body is reduced. As a result, even when the oxygen supply is reduced the cells adapt to it and function marginally or survive. Thus if an individual enters the gaganavashesh or turyaga states of the superconscious state (samadhi) then though there is complete cessation of breathing for sometime, the cells in his body do not die.

C. Control over involuntary actions: One can also gain control over involuntary actions of the body with pranayam just as described in ‘According to physiology’. However in this respect pranayam proves to be more beneficial than tratak. The reason for this is that blinking occurs only in the waking state, when the eyes are open. It does not occur during sleep and after closing the eyes. Thus tratak can be practised only in the waking hours. On the contrary, since breathing continues for twenty-four hours, in the waking hours as well as in sleep, practice of pranayam continues automatically. As a result, one can acquire control over the involuntary actions faster.

D.Cure of physical ailments: When an individual is able to control his breathing, he is also able to control the vital energy. He can use the vital energy wherever there is a disease or some anguish. A sattvik (sattva predominant) individual possesses enormous energy and he can direct it towards diseased organs as follows.

  • By touching the diseased part with his fingers
  • By focussing his gaze on the diseased part
  • By concentrating the mind on the diseased part

    If particular types of pranayams are performed then 20% of patients with physical ailments are cured while another 30% show improvement. Some examples of diseases in which various pranayams prove beneficial are given below.

  • 1. Repeated attacks of cold: Bhasrika, ujjayi (purak, sahaj kumbhak, rechak) and suryabhedan (rechak, purak)
  • 2. Bronchial asthma: Anulom-vilom (without kumbhak)
  • 3. Digestive disorders: Suryabhedan
  • 4. Fever: Shitali, chandrabhyas (with sahaj kumbhak)

Improvement in health: ‘My health has improved with pranayam. I have put on weight and have become strong. My skin has become soft and shiny. My saliva has become sweet. I am now aware of an aura around my head. In Baroda, there were several mosquitoes but they did not attack me. I went to Bangal in 1906 and started political work. At that time my pranayam became irregular. I also fell seriously ill and was saved from the jaws of death.’ – Maharshi Arvind (1)

1.2 According to psychology

A. Increase in concentration, memory and imaginative power: Once one starts concentrating on pranayam, the mind gets habituated to concentration and as a result the memory improves. ‘My experience is that with pranayam the brain gets enlightened. When I was in Baroda I used to practise pranayam daily for five to six hours, three hours in the morning and two in the evening. Then my mind used to function with great imaginative power and zeal. I used to write poetry then, on an average eight to ten lines per day, that is two hundred lines per month. However after pranayam I could write two hundred lines in just half an hour. Formerly my memory was weak; but after pranayam whenever I got the inspiration I would remember the lines of the poem exactly and would write them down at my convenience.’ – Maharshi Arvind (2)

B. Wandering of the mind decreases: Thinking and breathing are interrelated. If the mind does not wander from one topic to another, that is if it is steady then the respiratory rate is reduced. Contrary to this by practising pranayam, as the respiratory rate decreases so does the frequency of thoughts and that itself helps the mind to become steady.

C. Ability to control the mind: With practice of pranayam one gets used to concentrating on breathing. In one technique of pranayam, one concentrates on maintaining a steady rhythm of breathing. Since one gets used to concentrating on breathing, when it becomes rapid one immediately becomes aware of it. This implies that indirectly one becomes aware that either thoughts have increased or emotions are being aroused. Then as one regulates the breathing so that it returns to normal, one can control thoughts and emotions. The biofeedback technique discovered after 1960 A.D. is based on the principle of ‘awareness of psychological changes due to alterations in body functions’. In this technique expensive instruments are used to record blood pressure, body temperature, muscle tension, etc. On the other hand our sages had discovered the simple cost free technique of ‘concentrating on breathing’, thousands of years ago.

    Since during pranayam breathing is reduced, the oxygen supply to the brain is less. Less oxygen supply to the brain slows down its functions. Hence the waking state gradually starts decreasing and it facilitates entering a state of meditation. In one of the techniques of hypnosis, to reduce the oxygen supply to the brain, the carotid arteries are compressed for half to one minute. This reduces the oxygen supply to the brain and hence the wakefulness decreases and a hypnotic trance is induced. Since the above technique of hypnosis induction is dangerous, it is now obsolete.

D. Going into meditation: While practising pranayam the concentration is on breathing. This is akin to concentrating on a particular object during meditation. However when meditating on an object (the object of concentration) is usually fixed whereas in pranayam the mind concentrates on the rhythm of respiration. It is easier to concentrate on a moving than on a fixed object. Hence by concentrating on pranayam the chances of going into meditation are enhanced.

E. Cure of mental illnesses: If particular types of pranayams are performed then 3% of patients suffering from minor mental illnesses are cured while another 5% show improvement. Chanting The Lord’s Name proves more useful than pranayam in mental illnesses.

1.3 According to the science of Spirituality

A. Effects on the subtle body: Postures (asans) generally have an effect only on the physical body. However pranayam has effects on the subtle (mental) body as well. The organs are under the control of the mind and the mind under that of the vital energy (pran). Hence once control over vital energy is acquired, the mind and organs are brought under control. Purification of channels (nadishuddhi) too occurs with pranayam.

B. Spiritual progress: The energy loss occurring during the processof respiration can be avoided by practising pranayam. That energy can be utilised to make spiritual progress.

C. Activation of the kundalini (spiritual energy): If one performs various bandhas along with kumbhak then it helps the kundalini to get activated. One example of activation of kundalini is as follows. The uddiyan bandha changes the downward flow of apan vital energy and unites it with pran and saman vital energies. As a result, the dormant kundalini gets activated and the udan energy helps the pran or kundalini to flow upwards through the Sushumna channel.

D. A reduction in the raja component: Movement occurs because of the raja component. If movements decrease then automatically the raja component too decreases. For example movements decrease during sleep so the raja component decreases and the tama component increases. When performing pranayam, since the movement of all cells decreases, the raja component decreases. However since at that time one is in the waking state the sattva component increases.

E. Control over the mind: The mind is used to material objects since several births. Hence no matter how much one studies Spirituality due to the firm belief that happiness lies in material objects it is far too difficult for the mind to digress from them. If one diverts or tries to divert the mind away from objects even for a moment, one becomes very restless. Since one is habituated to keeping the mind steady with such objects, that is since the mind feels at ease experiencing the pleasure out of such objects, if one tries to withdraw from them, one experiences intense unhappiness, that is feels restless. It is because of this that Samarth Ramdas Swami has said, ‘When the embodied soul does not get material pleasure it becomes restless’ and ‘O man, if you wish to acquire happiness (Bliss) then refrain from material objects forever as they induce unhappiness. If you are clever enough then sing devotional songs (do spiritual practice) of my Lord Rama. This will keep you happy (Blissful) forever. Never again will you be aggrieved. You will become immortal’.

     Now to get out of material pleasure is a very difficult task. At the same time Samarth says that there is unhappiness in material pleasure, then how should one strike a balance? How will one realise that real happiness lies in surrender of such pleasure, without refraining from it even for a moment? This is because for past several births the mind is used to such pleasure and believes that it is under the control of organs. So it thinks that giving up material pleasure is next to impossible. To make this possible pranayam has been recommended. By practising it one slowly realises that one is controlled by vital energy (pran) and not the organs. Also as the vital energy is gradually steadied one begins to experience Bliss and also realises that illusory material pleasure is related to place, time and objects. One also becomes aware that illusory happiness depends on many things and the Bliss one gets from pranayam is independent of objects.Control over vital energy causes concentration and vice versa. However concentration does not mean the thoughtless state.

     One might ask, what is the use of pranayam to the one who has decided to make spiritual progress? The fact is that such a firm decision to make spiritual progress is very rare. Hence, one is led from various acts such as pranayam, etc. towards achieving concentration.

F. Development of the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav): Thoughts accompany breathing. However once one gets used to viewing breathing with the stance of a spectator one is also able to look at one’s thoughts with the same attitude. Eventually a stage is reached when one observes one’s existence with the same attitude.

G. Understanding the language of sound (nadabhasha): The language of sound depends on breathing. Since with pranayam one acquires control over breathing one understands the language of sound as well. Thus one can speak in any language,even that of animals and birds.

H. Knowledge of the three dimensions of time (trikal): ‘There is a science called “Svaroday” based on overcoming vital energy (pran). The migratory activity of animals is best studied based on it. Besides one can also perceive the knowledge of the three dimensions of time, difference between right and wrong, auspicious moments (muhurts), dreams, etc. based on this science. There are two notes namely that of the sun (suryasvar) and the moon (chandrasvar). When breathing occurs through the right nostril it is believed that the sun note or flow is operational while when breathing occurs through the left nostril the moon note or flow is said to be active. With subtle study on the sun-moon notes various facts have been put forward.’ (3)

I. Longevity: ‘The Swami said, “The number of breaths of every living being in this world, are predetermined. Once they are complete it has to quit. Those who feel they should not leave should preserve the same number of breaths for a longer period. That is, with pranayam they should reduce the number of breaths everyday and remain healthy, breathing as minimal as possible. Once one acquires control over the vital energy, respiration continues at a slow pace almost unconsciously. The yogis too attain the superconscious state (samadhi) in the same way controlling the vital energy and prolonging the predetermined breaths even for several centuries”.’

    ‘When one realises that the time of death is approaching, one should breathe in through both the nostrils and hold the breath. Later when the moment is overcome one should expire with half the speed. In this way Shrihari Changdev Maharaj lived for 1400 years.’ (4)

Some misconcepts about longevity obtained through pranayam

  • ‘On an average the rate of breathing is 15-16 breaths per minute. If one reduces it by practising pranayam or kumbhak, it can become 1-2 breaths per minute. This means that life will be prolonged 8 to 16 times. Pranayam means prolonging the lifespan by the limited and minimal use of the number of breaths bestowed by Nature. In other words, accepting this is rather difficult because in the first part of bhasrika pranayam and the act of kapalbhati one needs to breathe rapidly 100-150 or more times per minute. This means that with this variation the span of life is reduced 10-12 times. Thus by preaching these variations the old texts have made the same concept controversial.’(5)
  • The concept of longevity based on Gherandsanhita: ‘The Gherandsanhita when explaining the importance of kumbhak proclaims that only by reducing the duration of inspiration does man acquire longevity. There is a mention that the human body according to its past actions is 96 times as broad as its finger and its usual breath travels about 12 fingers beyond the body. It is also said that the same breath travels 16 fingers when singing, 16 fingers when eating, 24 fingers when walking, 30 fingers during sleep, 36 fingers during sexual intercourse and even further during exercise. The less the distance of the breath from the body the longer is the lifespan; on the contrary once the distance increases, the lifespan decreases proportionately.Naturally if the breath remains only in kumbhak then death will never ensue. When the breath remains within the limitations of the body, it is referred to as “keval (automatic) kumbhak” in the Gherandsanhita.

    Thus another reason for longevity or immortality is given in the Gherandsanhita. If that is so then why is one told to practise various yogic techniques such as bhramari, bhasrika and other pranayams, uddiyan bandha, nouli, shunya (zero) kumbhak [in which the inspired breath (rechak) is regulated and prolonged or expired and held that way for quite sometime]? This looks very inconsistent. Hence instead of accepting these concepts as the truth, one should remember that they are the faltering steps of the one trying to glorify them immensely or mere exaggerations made to promote the theory.’(6)

Reasons for misconceptions about the facts mentioned above.

  • 1. In a session of pranayam, bhasrika and kapalbhati is practised for a very short while. As a result, its specific benefits are definitely obtained. In addition, though due to rapid breathing for a short while the lifespan is reduced by 0.0001% yet the other pranayams practised along with them for a longer period facilitate the prolongation of life.
  • 2. On account of the bandhas practised in both bhasrika and kapalbhati, specific benefit of the bandha too is obtained along with that of the pranayam.
  • 3. No such false statements have stood the test of time. The fact that these statements have persisted indicate that they are the truth.

The breath of an average person ceases at the time of his death. However as the body and mind is habituated to kumbhak they can survive without breathing and thinking. It is only in keval kumbhak that a yogi remains in a state of super consciousness.

2. Practical suggestions

2.1 Restrictions

One should not perform pranayam in the following circumstances.

  • When one is hungry and/or thirsty or the stomach is full
  • When the nose is blocked due to cold, one has wheezing or cough
  • When the mind is overwhelmed with anxiety, depression or excitement
  • When exhausted
  • When feeling sleepy
  • When suffering from constipation.

2.2 Place

In the beginning, if possible one should practise pranayam during the day in an open space under a tree since the concentration of oxygen there is higher than in a closed room. If this is not possible then practise pranayam in a well ventilated room. Initially when reducing the breathing, if the air inhaled in the lungs is pure then one does not experience distress.

2.3 Time and period (kal)

Pranayam may be performed anytime, even at night. If possible, one should do it in the evening because at that time atmospheric pressure is less and this facilitates breathing. One should commence pranayam in the Vasant season (in the month of March or April) or in the Sharad season (in the month of September or October).

2.4 Seat (asan)

One should sit on deerskin, tiger skin or a white folded blanket placed on a seat of grass (kushasan) or a mat, covered with washed cloth.

2.5 Clothing

It should be loose and minimal.

2.6 The stomach should be empty

One should practise pranayam on an empty stomach, that is two hours after eating a snack and four to five hours after a meal. After performing pranayam one can eat after a lapse of half to one hour.

2.7 Procedure

  • When performing any kind of pranayam one should sit in sahajasan (the ease posture), padmasan (the lotus posture), siddhasan (the posture of an ascetic) or svastikasan (the benevolent posture).
  • One should sit facing either the east or the north.
  • The head, neck and body should be in one straight line.
  • Breathing through the nose: Excluding shitali and sitkari in all the other types, one should breath only through the nose.
  • In the beginning, one should perform kapalbhati thrice so as to overcome obstacles in the respiratory tract.
  • Types of pranayam: In the beginning, one should perform ‘purakrechakpurak’ slowly. After one or two months one should follow the purakkumbhak, rechak / purak’ pattern. Then after another one or two months one should continue with the ‘purakkumbhakrechakkumbhakpurak’ pattern.
  • Matching one’s temperament: ‘The study of pranayam should always be “tailor made”, and not “readymade” because character and personality are the decisive factors. Beginners should follow the pattern of “purak 6: kumbhak 8: rechak 5” as advised by Goraksha. According to physiology, this proportion (6:8:5) is closely linked to the natural pattern of breathing. Hence there are no chances of its ill-effects.’(7)
  • To make pranayam rhythmic one should not inspire or expire completely.
  • ‘While practising pranayam it is absolutely essential to perform some bandhas. When learning pranayam, from the beginning till the end it is necessary to perform mulbandha (constriction of the anal opening). At the end of purak while practising full kumbhak, jalandhar bandha (compressing the chin firmly against the jugular notch, in the neck), jivha bandha (raising the tongue and touching it to the throat) and contracting the part of the abdomen near the navel called “uddiyanpith” should be performed. This is called the uddiyan bandha while performing purak. After completion of kumbhak, the jivha and jalandhar bandhas are stopped and rechak is performed. At that time only mulbandha persists. At the end of rechak, jalandhar, jivha and uddiyan bandhas are again performed along with shunya or bahya kumbhak.’(8)
  • The six actions (shatkarmas) and postures (asans): If the six actions and postures are to be performed, they should be done first and finally shavasan (the corpse posture) should be practised.

2.8 What should be the frequency of practice?

In the beginning, five rounds of the chosen pranayam should be practised. Later, gradually the number of rounds should be increased to twenty.

2.9 Thoughts during pranayam

A. For those believing in God: They should do chanting. Prayog Parijat quotes the following –

पूरके विष्‍णुसायुज्‍यं कुम्‍भके ब्रह्मणोन्‍तिकम्‌ |
रेचकेन तृतीयन्‍तु प्राप्‍नुयादीश्वरं पदम्‌ ||

     Meaning: When performing pranayam one should meditate on Vishnu during purak, Brahma during kumbhak and Shiva during rechak. Their seats are the chakras at the level of the navel, heart and crown (Sahasrar) respectively. Some disciples meditate on their Sadguru at all the three times.’(9)

B. For atheists

  • They should either think about something useful like ‘good qualities are entering me’ during inspiration and ‘my bad qualities are being expelled’ during expiration or should concentrate on the rhythm of respiration.
  • ‘Concentration on the breath (prandharana): Concentrating on the breath is called “prandharana”. It is performed by counting the number of breaths, by becoming aware of the movement of air during respiration or by experiencing the cool or warm touch of the breath against the palate. This is a very easy and natural method of steadying the mind. In the science of pranayam, this concentration is expected.’
  • The use of Om: ‘One thinks of the syllabic foot “u” during inspiration, “m” during kumbhak and “a” during expiration.’
  • Ajapajapa: ‘In twenty-four hours, that is in one day and night every human being breathes 21,600 times. The sound “so” is generated during inspiration and “ham” during expiration. Every human being thus unknowingly continues to chant the mantraSo’ham” or “hamso”. This itself is the Gayatri mantra named “Ajapa”. Being aware of this is itself a kind of study of Yoga.’

3. Stages of progress

A. A decrease in the output of urine and stool.

B. Pranayam and Path of Activation of Spiritual Energy (Kundaliniyoga): ‘When the mind achieves concentration there is equalization of pran and apan vital energies. This itself is called kumbhak. When keval kumbhak is achieved, breathing stops. The pran vital energy has no function thereafter. So it tries to return to its original site, the Sahasrar. It has to travel through the Sushumna channel. Since for several births this attempt is not made, the difficulty it has to face in the Muladhar is called “its attempt to straighten the kundalini (spiritual energy) with jolts” in flowery yogic language. Hence in the holy text Dattamahatmya H.H. Shri Tembe Swami has said, “So long as the pran vital energy does not reach the Sushumna channel in proportion to the efforts of a seeker practising Yoga, those efforts are in vain”. Saint Eknath has also expressed the same point in other words in a devotional song (arti) as “When even the para mode of speech ceases to exist, what is the motive left? It is the end of the cycle of birth and death.”

    Later the real test occurs when the pran vital energy reaches the Adnya chakra. There, one acquires supernatural powers (siddhis) and the capacity to enjoy any type and amount of happiness. However rarely does one not fall prey to such attachment, due to the grace of the Guru and accomplishes one’s lifelong efforts. Only after successfully penetrating chakras serially from the Adnya to the Sahasrar does one really become a Sadguru. That is real liberation when still embodied (jivanmukti). ’ – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon.

C. Deciding the duration of purak, kumbhak and rechak by counting numbers in the mind gradually: Different texts give different numbers. One can perform inferior, moderate and superior types of pranayam depending upon one’s progress.

  Inferior Moderate Superior
1. The amount
    (number of
     times)
     
    A. Purak 12 16 20
    B. Kumbhak 48 64 80
    C. Rechak 24 32 40
2. Physical signs Rise in body
temperature,
sweating
Tremors in the spine
or hands, shivering
of the body
Frog leaps,
floating, finally
there is steadiness

D. A decrease in the speed of breathing: When breathing occurs only four times a minute one is aware of only the pure ‘ego’.

E. According to the duration of kumbhak: The duration of kumbhak gradually increases, stepwise. The more the kumbhak the greater is the period when the tendencies of the subconscious mind are overcome. The table below gives the stages of progress (states) and their features.

  Arambha-
vasta
Ghatavastha Parichaya-
vastha
Nishpanda-
vastha
1. Minimum
    duration of
    kumbhak
10 minutes 1 hour 2 hours 8 hours
2. External
    signs
Waking
state
Sleep Deep sleep Corpse like
state
3. Spiritual
    experiences
       
    A. Happiness
         / Bliss
Happiness Bliss Bliss for a
longer period
of time
Serenity
    B. Sound Tinkling Deafness Drum beats at
the mid-point
between the
eyebrows
    C. Others Prespiration,
tremors

4. The duration of kumbhak occurring automatically in some states from the Ashtangyoga (Eight fold Yoga)

The state The average duration of kumbhak
1. Introversion (pratyahar)* 30 seconds
2. Concentration (dharana) 2 minutes
3. Meditation (dhyan) 30 minutes
4. Superconscious state
    (nirbij samadhi)
8 hours

* Preventing the contact of sense organs with objects.

5. Dangers

A. No spiritual practice can cause harm to a seeker. However if pranayam is not done properly then it could lead to problems like cough, headache, earache, eye strain, indigestion, etc. If a seeker in the primary stage does kumbhak (holds his breath), specially the bahya (external) kumbhak from pranayam, deliberately for too long then he could lose consciousness due to a decrease in oxygen and increase in carbon dioxide and at that time there is a danger of some brain cells suffering from permanent damage. Hence Gulabrao Maharaj has said –

‘In the science of Yoga who is a learned fool?
The one who practises postures (asans), pranayam, etc. without following the restraints (yam) and regulations (niyam).’(10)

    The same tenet is also applicable to those practising silence of speech and silence as of wood. [Yam and niyam are the first two parts from the Ashtangyoga (Eightfold Yoga) of Patanjali and are related to the mind. A quote from the Hathayoga pradipika 19/265 says,

प्राणायामादियुक्‍तेन सर्व रोगक्षयो भवेत्‌ |
अयुक्‍ताभ्‍यासयुक्‍तेन सर्व रोगसमुद्‌भव: ||१९|| – हठ योग प्रदीपिका १९/२६५

    Meaning: If pranayam is practised in the correct way then all illnesses vanish. However if pranayam is done incorrectly then all diseases occur.

B. When performing pranayam, during kumbhak a thought in the mind persists consistently and till kumbhak is completed there is a possibility of the person behaving as if insane. To avoid this from happening, it is better to chant The Lord’s Name or to concentrate on the breath, during pranayam so as to keep the mind thoughtless.

6. Comparison with other paths of Yoga

A. In the Path of Transfer of Energy (Shaktipatyoga) mostly one enters the superconscious state (samadhi) after bahya (external) kumbhak while in the Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga), one enters the superconscious state mostly after antar (internal) kumbhak.

B. If one does only pranayam as spiritual practice then maximum purification of the physical body and vital energy body (prandeha) that can occur is 20% and 30% respectively. The same amount of purification can occur with any other spiritual practice. With pranayam, purification of the mental body, causal body (karandeha) and supracausal body (mahakarandeha) can occur upto a maximum of 10%, 2% and 1% respectively. However with the grace of the Guru (Gurukrupa) purification of the physical, vital energy, causal and supracausal bodies can occur upto 20%, 30% and 100% respectively.