Prostrations to AMMA and to you all.
In the last posting we have started discussing the sadhana chatustayam needed by a seeker to apprehend the truth of ultimate reality.
We have seen vairagyam and vivekam among the sadhana chatustayam till now. Vairagyam is having dispassion towards the world and passion towards the ultimate reality only due to vivekam or discrimination between the real and the unreal. Knowing that the only reality in the world is brahman and what ever is seen in the world is only illusion in the substratum of brahman. Having this strong conviction helps a person to develop para vairagyam .
Sankaracharya explains the next sadhana chatustayam of “shamaadi shatka sampatthi “or the 6 fold qualifications starting with shama. The 6 fold qualifications are
The author explains each of these in the coming slokas.
sadaiva vaasanaatyaagaH shamo.ayamiti shahbditaH .
nigraho baahyavR^ittiinaa.m dama ityabhidhiiyate ..
Meaning: Shama is controlling the internal passions of the mind and Dama is control of the external mind.
Explanation: Shama means a state of mind when the mind is calm. This is explained in viveka chudamani as “nistaranga jala rashi nischalam”. It means the calm ocean with no waves. This should be the state of our mind in order to contemplate on brahman. In order to attain such a state of mind one should control the passions of the mind.
The passions of the mind are like the ripples created in a lake when a stone is thrown in a calm waters of lake. These ripples or agitation/thoughts are created due to the various inherent vasanas in us. These vasanas are our likes/dislikes that have carried over since many births. Unless these passions are overcome ,the mind wouldn’t remain calm and until the mind is calm one cannot have constant thought of ultimate reality.
While Shama is internal control, of the vasanas of the mind.Dama is external control, of the mind. First passions arise in the mind and our actions are according to the thoughts in our mind. These external activities are the cause of the thoughts driven by passions or vasanas from previous births. As the water from a tank flows through the pipes and enters the fields, so also the thoughts of the mind enter the various external organs to perform the action needed. So one should control oneself from doing actions as persuaded by the mind. Any activity that would mislead us from our spiritual path should be avoided.
vishhayebhyaH paraavR^ittiH paramoparatirhi saa .
sahana.n sarvaduHkhaanaa.n titikshaa saa shubhaa mataa
Meaning: Withdrawal of the sense organs is the highest withdrawal.
Having forebearance in times of difficulties is called titiksha.
Explanation: Shama and dhama are external and internal control of the mind.
Withdrawal of the sense organs from the sense objects and redirecting them towards brahman is called uparathi or withdrawal. Human mind can be distracted due to various things we see in this world. When we understand that it is not leading us in the right direction we should reiterate ourselves that the ultimate truth is Brahman and everything else is illusion. Withdrawing our mind from the sense objects of the world and focusing on brahman, this alone will help us to be ever focused on the ultimate reality.
Many people might think that people in spiritual path wouldn’t face any worldly problems. But it isn’t true. Everyone has to face the the prarabdha karma or the fruits of past deeds. But people who are in spiritual path are equipped to handle the situation well.
So when ever we face difficult situations one should patiently bear all the hardship being ever focused on brahman. If one has strong conviction that the world is illusionary and brahman is the only truth , then he will take whatever comes in his life with equanimity of mind. Events in his life may be favourable or unfavourable but he would have sama dristhi meaning he will accept everything as gods blessing .
These are the times when the knowledge we gain in the spiritual path is put to test.
As we take up exams at the end of the academic year before we move to the next class in school, so also such situations in life will teach us at what level we are and what we have overcome and where we have failed. Until we know our drawbacks we cannot progress further in the spiritual path.
nigamaachaaryavaakyeshhu bhaktiH shraddheti vishrutaa .
chittaikaagrya.n tu sallakshye samaadhaanamiti smR^itam.h
Meaning: Having faith in the scriptures and in the Guru. Focus of the mind on the truth of ultimate reality is called samadhanam.
Explanation: Scriptures are of 3 types sruti,smrithi and puranas. All the scriptures propound the ultimate reality of brahman. Sruthi is that which is the knowledge of the Rishi’s .Smrithi are directly from a person, Like Gita which is a smrithi. Puranas contain stories which have the underlying truth of the ultimate reality, for people to easily apprehend and remember it. So Scriptures talk about the ultimate reality of Brahman.
Guru is an embodiment of the scriptures. Any word of the guru would have the support of the scriptures. Scriptures serve as ornaments of a Guru. As mentioned in the guru gita slokas “sarva sruti shiroratnam virajita padambhuja” .One can learn great truths which scriptures propound from the life of the Guru. Every small event/incident will have lot of significance and meaning.
A person who claims himself to be guru and asks people to follow what ever he says is a false guru. A real guru would always say that whatever scriptures say is the ultimate truth. Guru is a person who is well versed in scriptures and who dwells in brahman. One can recognize a guru , by the bliss that emanates from him.
Having faith in guru and scriptures is needed for a seeker in the spiritual. One cannot attain liberation without knowledge of scriptures or without faith in guru.
Once a person gets knowledge from guru and when he develops conviction of the ultimate reality, he should always keep his mind focused on the truth, this is called samadhanam.
So we have seen all the 6 fold qualifications till now.In the next sloka the author explains the last of the sadhana chatustayam.
sa.nsaarabandhanirmuktiH kathaM me syaatkathaa vidhe .
iti yaa sudR^iDhaa buddhirvaktavyaa saa mumukshutaa ..
Meaning: How do I get liberation from the bondages of samsaram?. This strong desire is called mumukshutvam.
Explanation: This is the final sadhana chatustayam sankaracharya is explaining.
When a person has vivekam or discrimination, he attains vairagyam as he understands the truth. Even though a person has the 6 fold qualifications along with viveka and vairagyam, unless he has a burning desire to get liberated , it would not help him to progress in the spiritual path.
A person who has great desire of getting liberated the very moment would actually be liberated in this birth. He should place the desire of getting liberated above all other desires or activities he has in the world. This one point focus on the goal alone will help a person, else it would take him many births to realize.
This is the only desire that would help a person in his life. Any desire is propelled by ignorance , which in turn leads to some actions. But all the desires would produce temporary happiness/sorrow .This strong desire for liberation alone gives him eternal bliss.
This completes the discussions of the sadhana chatustayam explained by sankaracharya.
So having the sadhana chatustayam would help the person to apprehend the knowledge. Without these qualifications a person can gain knowledge but wouldn’t be able to focus himself on the truth .In times of difficulties he will easily sway from the path. So even though he does sravana manana and niddidhyasanam it would be futile for him.
uktasaadhanayuktena vichaaraH purushheNa hi .
kartavyo GYaanasiddhyarthamaatmanaH shubhamichchhataa ..
Meaning: With all the sadhana chatustayam a person should reflect or think about the truth, the reality of the world. This would give him knowledge and peace of mind.
Explanation: A person endowed with sadhana chatustayam should reflect upon the world and the truth of the world. This is the duty of a seeker in order to gain knowledge. Only when a person reflects on the reality of brahman and temporary nature of the world, do questions arise in his mind. So with a pure mind attained by sadhana chatustayam one should approach the guru with questions. Then the guru imparts him the knowledge of the ultimate reality. As gita sloka says.
“tat vidhi pranipatena pariprashena seva ya”.
Serving the Guru and ask him all the questions.
Thus a person gains the knowledge of the truth. Through constant contemplation on the knowledge imparted by guru, a person gets eternal bliss. So main purpose of vicharam is to gain knowledge.