This article is an excerpt from “Reality At Dawn”. For further reading, please order a copy of the book on the digital store
We hear almost everybody talking in some way or the other about God, the soul and the mystery of the universe. But if we are in quest of one who has realised God, or is acquainted with Him, we will probably find none such among them. This is the reason why there are constant feuds among the representatives of different religions. They talk a good deal about God, but inwardly they might be no better than a downright atheist. They acknowledge His existence in words, but at heart they seem to be totally unmindful of His existence. To them the only utility of God is when they are in distress or misery. They expect Him on such occasions to attend to their call to remove their troubles. They pray to Him chiefly for the supply of their wants. It is really far from the idea of true love and devotion.
A true devotee is one who loves Him not for any favour or worldly interest but merely for love’s sake. He always remains in a state of complete resignation to His will. He is perfectly contented with all that is bestowed upon him, whether good or bad, joyful or unpleasant. Joy or sorrow is meaningless to him. Everything is a boon to him from his Beloved. Such complete resignation and unquestioning attitude in all matters is the highest form of devotion.
Resignation does not, however, mean that he should remain idle, doing nothing himself and depending all the time upon God, thinking that God will send him all that he requires if he so wills. God helps those who help themselves is a common saying which is literally true. We are failing in our sacred duty if we do not exert ourselves for the discharge of our responsibilities pertaining either to this or to the next world.
The only thing which should be borne in mind is that we work in accordance with the will of God and feel contented with the result, whatever it might be. When we come up to this level, we may rightly think ourselves to be true devotees of the Supreme Master and hence on the right path leading to reality. Reality is not a thing to be perceived through the physical organs of the senses, but it can only be realised in the innermost core of the heart. We have therefore to go deep into it to solve our problem of life.
We have in our mind an idea of this great universe, which is, as we all know, the material manifestation of God. Generally we look upon it as maya or illusion to distinguish it from the unchanging absolute Reality. People have tried to define maya in numerous different ways, not perhaps without some reasonable basis. It is really a Godly power which has brought into existence the entire creation in its different forms and shapes and which regulates its entire working. We are all the while surrounded by this great power, and its effect is visible in all phases of our activity. We are whirling round within the glossy sphere of maya, clinging at times to one or the other of the objects in view, thinking it to be Reality. Our senses, feelings and emotions give it a new colouring and mould our actions accordingly. We remain entangled within the snare of maya, without any hope of emancipation, until we divert our attention towards the unchanging Reality at the root.
This vast circle of material manifestation, the direct result of maya, is unlimited. In it, we go round and round with ceaseless motion like the rim of a wheel, ever farther and farther away from the pivot. Just as every circle must have a centre, so must this vast circle of manifestation have a centre or base. If we are able to discover it, we may possibly find a clue for the solution of our problem.
The whole of the science of mathematics rests upon the little base, the zero. Now, for this limitless universe we have to trace out a zero or base from which all planes of existence have started. Again, the centre of a circle, if observed minutely, is in itself another, smaller and finer circle. As such, it must have another, still finer centre for it. The same process continues up to infinity. In other words, each of the finer or smaller circles serves as the centre of a bigger external circle. Reason or imagination fails to trace out an origin or end. Thus, behind this solid material universe there is another, finer or more subtle universe which is the cause or the centre of this outer universe. Again, for that finer circle there must be another centre, represented by a still finer circle and so on. Putting it the other way, there may thus be innumerable circles, one after the other, round the unimaginable finest point, the centre within, each circle in turn serving as the centre of the next outer circle, till we come to the present solid form of existence. What we have to do now is to trace our steps back from the present gross form of existence to the previous finer and still finer form, up to the farthest possible limit of human approach.
In our present state of existence we are revolving round and round within the sphere of grossness. Our only hope lies in pushing our way right across towards the centre or the root cause, crossing the finer regions one after the other. That is the essence of the spiritual science. The root cause of the entire universe, from the finest to the grossest, is the innermost centre, the base or zero. We may call it as God or Brahman.
The composition of a man also is exactly the same as that of the universe. Just as behind this solid external universe there are innumerable others of the finer and still finer type, so behind this gross physical form of a man there are numerous finer and still finer forms of existence. The outermost form is the gross body (or sthoola sharira), behind which there exist the astral body (sookshma sharira) and the causal body (kaarana sharira). Besides these three outer forms, there are innumerable other ones which are so fine and subtle that thinkers do not call them as bodies but only as fine coverings round the soul. It is really very difficult to put a name to each one of them, which may be countless.
With all these innumerable forms, from the finest to the grossest, man is in existence in the material world as a true copy of the universe or the entire manifestation of God as represented by a complete circle from the outermost circumference to the innermost centre or zero. Now, the innermost centre or zero of a man’s existence and that of God’s manifestation is really the same. Realisation of God means the same as the realisation of Self and vice versa. All of the universe came into existence from the same point, the zero, through the process of evolution. Similarly, man’s existence too developed from the same point.
Before the time of creation, the only thing in existence was the root cause, and the whole universe as we see it today was merged in it in the most subtle form, everything losing its individual identity. Now, the centre, like the tiny seed of the tree, included within itself the whole of the universe in the most subtle form. It was thus the extremely abridged form of the same expanded manifestation as we see today. Thus, the centre, the latent motions and the entire creation in the most subtle form all combined together as one unit and led to the cause of creation when the time came. At the time of creation, everything began to assume a form of existence. Man also assumed his individual existence.
The consciousness of individuality was the first covering in the composition of man. Further additions continued one after the other. Egoism began to develop and ultimately assumed a grosser form. The working of the mind, senses and faculties began to contribute their share towards grossness. Actions of the body and mind led to the formation of samskaras. Finally, man now exists in the grossest form, consisting of the outer gross body and the inner finer bodies and coverings. Now, from this outer solid state of existence we march right towards the centre, passing through finer states one after the other. From the gross body we come to the mind body and then to the causal body, growing finer or more subtle at every step, and proceed on further dealing with other coverings.
The process generally adopted for it is classified under three heads: karma (action), upasana (devotion) and gyana (knowledge), which offer the common basis for all the different religions and creeds. The four elementary means (Sadhana Chatushtaya)* adopted for the purpose are almost the same everywhere.
The first of these Sadhanas is viveka (discrimination). We see many things in the world, but when we think of their existence we find that they are changeable, i.e. they are the different forms of maya, as we generally call them. We are thus inwardly induced to go deeper in order to trace out the cause. Our attention is thus diverted from transitory things to that which is unchanging or eternal. Worldly objects thus begin to lose their charm and we feel in a way unattached to them.
This brings us to the state of vairagya (renunciation), which is known as the second of the four Sadhanas. The state of vairagya is also brought about by certain other causes too. For example, when we are fed up with worldly objects after indulging in them to our heart’s content, we sometimes begin to feel an inward repulsion towards them. In such cases, our attention is naturally diverted towards some nobler ideal, and we feel a bit awakened to Godly thought. Secondly, when we have been deeply pricked by the treachery and faithlessness of the world, we feel disgusted and inwardly averse to worldly things. A feeling of dissatisfaction and detachment also develops when we are in a state of bereavement on account of the death of some of our dear ones. But vairagya created under such circumstances is seldom genuine or lasting. It soon disappears with the change of adverse circumstances.
There is a story which relates that a certain man wanted to see Kabirdas. When he reached his house, he was informed that Kabirdas had gone with a funeral party to the cremation ground to burn the dead body of one of his deceased relations. The man proceeded to the cremation ground to see him there. But as he had never seen him before, he thought it might be difficult for him to recognise Kabirdas among the party. For this purpose, he was told that he should look to the halo round everybody’s face. The halo round the face of each one of the party would be found glowing as he proceeded towards the cremation ground, but would grow dimmer and dimmer and finally disappear as they returned. Only the halo round Kabir’s face would remain glowing all through with equal lustre.
Thus, the feeling of vairagya actuated by such sudden causes is generally short-lived and changes with the change of circumstances. For, though the sudden shock temporarily creates a feeling of vairagya, the seed of desires and enjoyments still lies buried deep within the heart and may sprout forth immediately when it finds a congenial atmosphere. The feeling of vairagya in the real sense and with lasting results can only be developed after thorough cleaning and due moderation.
Vedantins practise vairagya in a different way. They force their imagination to believe that everything they see is maya, hence transitory or false, and conclude that reality at the bottom is Brahma. They apply their power of will to strengthen the thought so much so that they get habituated to it, causing modification in outward actions and habits only. Hence the effect is mostly merely external. It may, however, after long and continued practice, possibly reflect somewhat inwardly. Similarly, viveka actuated by mere forcing of imagination without a touch of practicality has no sound basis. A close study of the subject will show that really viveka and vairagya are not the means (sadhana) but only the result of some means. Viveka and vairagya are states of mind developed at different stages by constant practice of certain yogic sadhanas, e.g. remembrance, devotion or love, etc.
Viveka in the true sense never develops unless the senses are thoroughly purified. This happens only when the mind gets properly regulated and disciplined, and egoism (or ahankara) assumes a purified state. Thus it is that viveka is in fact the result of practices followed in order to bring about the desired results. Now vairagya, the second Sadhana of the Vedantists, is likewise the result of viveka. They are thus the stages of elementary attainment in yoga and not the sadhanas or means of attainment of the stages.
In the Sahaj Marg system of yoga, viveka and vairagya are not treated as sadhanas but are left aside to be developed automatically by an aspirant during his progress. It starts from what is known as the third Sadhana of the Vedantists, which consists of six forms of spiritual attainments known as Shat-Sampatti. The first of these Sampattis is sham, which pertains to the peaceful condition of mind leading to a state of calmness and tranquillity. When we practise it, viveka and vairagya follow automatically.
Vairagya, in the sense of non-existence of things, is in my opinion a very difficult process, for in it you have to take up a negative course and discard or reject everything that comes to your view. But if you take up the positive view and accept one thing only as real, sticking to it wholeheartedly, other things will naturally fall into the background, and by and by you will become unmindful of them. Consequently, your attachment with them will gradually begin to disappear and you will gain vairagya by the easiest means. Thus the primary thing in yoga is the proper regulation of the mind, which is ever restless. It creates numerous ideas and thoughts, imparts stimulus to the senses and faculties, and sets the body into action. Everything good or evil originates from the mind, and it is the mind alone that governs all our feelings, emotions and impulses.
Thinkers have classified the tendencies of the mind under five heads. The first of these, known as kshipta, is the disturbed condition of mind including all feelings such as hunger, thirst, anger, sorrow and desires for wealth, fame, etc. The second, moodha, includes tendencies which promote sluggishness, indolence or sloth. The third, vikshipta, pertains to the tendency which drives the mind away from sacred thoughts and brings about the haunting of numerous irrelevant ideas at the time of meditation. The fourth, ekagra-vritti, is the tendency which makes our attention fixed on one thing only. The last one, niruddha, is the tendency which brings the mind to a perfectly self-contained state free from complexities and disturbances. To achieve this last stage, sages have generally advised the well-known Ashtanga Yoga (i.e. yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi). Under the Sahaj Marg system of training we start from dhyana, the seventh step of yoga, fixing our mind on the point in order to practise meditation. The previous steps are not taken up separately, but they automatically come into practice as we proceed on with meditation. Thus, much of our time and labour is saved by this means.
In short, we start our practice from sham, the first of the six Sampattis of the third Sadhana of the Vedantists, and devote all our attention to the proper moulding and regulation of the mind, which is easily accomplished by the help of the transmitted power of a worthy Master.
Control of the senses and indriyas (or dama) follows automatically when we fix our mind on one thing and one alone, which is the Reality, ignoring all others. Generally most of the sages follow this course.
A few of the sects attempt an approach to sham through the practice of karma (action), others through devotion, or bhakti. There are still others who set aside both of these and proceed on through the medium of gyana (knowledge). In fact, the stages of karma, upasana and gyana are not different from each other but are closely interrelated and exist all together in one and the same state. For example, in upasana, controlling of the mind is karma, the controlled state of the mind is upasana and its consciousness is gyana; in gyana the process of thinking is karma, staying on the thought-out object is upasana and the resultant state is gyana; while in karma, the resolve to act is karma, the process of bringing it into practice is upasana and consciousness of the achievement is gyana.
Thus it is that in our system of training they are taken up all together most efficiently, creating automatically the state of viveka and vairagya in the true sense. No practice is really of any avail if it does not naturally result in viveka and vairagya. The real form of viveka is when a man begins to realise his own defects and shortcomings and at the bottom of his heart feels repentant for them.
We have dealt with the first two Sampattis. We now come to the third, known as uparati, which means self-withdrawal. In this state a man is free of all desires, even those pertaining to the next world. He is not charmed or attracted by anything in the world. His mind is all the time centred in one – the Real. It differs from the state of vairagya in the sense that vairagya produces a feeling of aversion for worldly objects, while uparati is a state in which both the feelings of attraction and repulsion are absent. Vairagya is really the incomplete form of this nobler and higher state. At this stage, our mind, senses and indriyas are completely purified. We begin to feel fed up with all external things and dissociate from them, thinking them not to be worthwhile paying any attention to. We are free from the effect of attachment with the world. Even the comforts of paradise have no charm to such a man, nor does he feel any attraction for salvation, liberation or other higher ideals.
The fourth Sampatti is titiksha, or the state of fortitude. At this stage a man is perfectly satisfied with what is allotted to him by God. He has no feeling for injury, insult, condemnation or appreciation.
The fifth is shraddha, or faith, which is a very high attainment. It is very different from the preliminary state of artificial faith as discussed in the chapter entitled ‘Faith’.
The last one is samadhan, which is a state of self-settledness to the will of the Master, without even the consciousness of it. At this stage a man is perfectly devoted to the great Master without any thought besides.
We have thus dealt with the various attainments of the third Sadhana. We now come to the last of the four Sadhanas, known as mumukshutva. Little remains now to be accomplished when a man comes to this stage except to develop close association with Absolute Reality or actual merging in the state of non-entity. It is the practical phase of realisation and could be achieved after earnest practice of the elementary sadhanas under the old system of yoga. The modern system of Sahaj Marg makes a diversion from the set old path in the respect that it does not take up the different steps of Ashtanga Yoga one by one separately. Under this system asana, pranayama, dharana, dhyana and samadhi are all taken up simultaneously during the course of meditation. Meditation in due course leads us to concentration or the state of samadhi. Thus we naturally proceed to samadhi, which is the final step of Yoga.
There are three forms of samadhi, or stages of concentration. The first of these is wherein a man feels lost or drowned. His senses, feelings and emotions are temporarily suspended in a way that they seem apparently dead for the time being. He resembles a man in a dead slumber, unconscious of everything.
The second form is in which a man, though deeply concentrated on a point, does not feel actually drowned in it. It may be described as a state of consciousness within an unconscious state. Apparently he is not conscious of anything, but still consciousness is present within, though only in a shadowy form. A man walks along a road thinking deeply over some problem. He is so absorbed in it that he is not conscious of anything else, nor does he see anything in the way, nor hear the sounds of voices near about. He goes on in an unconscious state of mind. But still he does not collide with a tree by the roadside, nor is he knocked down by a car coming that way. In this state of unconsciousness, he unknowingly attends to these necessities and acts as occasion demands. He has no consciousness of the actions. It is consciousness in an unconscious state. In this state of mind the consciousness of other things appears to be in a sleeping state and creates little impression.
The third form is sahaj samadhi. This is the finest type of concentration. In this state, a man is busy with his work, his mind being absorbed in it, but in the innermost core of his heart he is still settled on the real thing. With his conscious mind he is busy with the external work, while at the same time his subconscious mind is busy with divine thoughts. He is all the while in a state of samadhi, although apparently he is busy with worldly work. This is the highest form of samadhi, and little remains to be done after a man has entered this state permanently.
The various spiritual stages acquired during the march are characterised with special power and capacity for Nature’s work. The lowest region, known as pinda desha, is comprised of various sub-points located within the chest. It is the centre of Pancha Agni Vidyaa so commonly spoken of in the ancient religious literature of the Hindus. When a man gains mastery over this region, he automatically develops within him an intuitional knowledge of science pertaining to matter, which he can utilise any way he likes after sufficient practice and experience. But as this achievement does not suit his purpose, so far as spirituality is concerned under an efficient system of training, an aspirant is kept unmindful of all those material powers and is helped to cross over by the reflected power of the guru, so that his attention may not be attracted by anything other than that of a purely spiritual nature. He is then in a position to conduct petty godly work entrusted to him. His sphere of work at this stage is a small locality, e.g. a town, a district or some bigger division. The nature of the work he does is the proper adjustment of everything in action within his jurisdiction in perfect accordance with the demand of Nature. He introduces the required elements within his sphere and removes the unwanted ones. He is known as a rishi, and his designation is Vasu.
The next higher in rank and position is a Dhruva. He enjoys mastery over Brahmanda Mandal and falls under the category of Muni. His sphere of work is much larger, and he exercises authority over the Vasus. His duty is to look to the cleaning of the atmosphere of all unwanted thoughts and ideas prevailing within. Besides his routine work, he has also to look to numerous other duties entrusted to him for the time being. The state is acquired after the thorough illumining of the region located in the human frame within the hylem shadow.
Higher above is the position of Dhruvadhipati, who directs the work of the Dhruvas. The state is acquired after gaining mastery over the point of the navel. His sphere of work extends to the whole world but his work is similar in nature to that of a Dhruva. Besides his routine work in connection with the cleaning of the atmosphere, he too has to look to casual events and incidents happening at different times. These godly functionaries are highly developed souls of great calibre who work strictly in accordance with the will of Nature in utter disregard of the feeling of individuality or self. Their working is automatic and mechanical, and they have no personal choice or discretion in any matter.
The position of Parishad, who is above Dhruvadhipatis, is bestowed under rare circumstances when nature stands in dire need of it. He regulates and directs the activities of the various subordinate functionaries mentioned above and imparts various duties to them, reserving for himself only the most important ones. His will works in all important matters, e.g. great enterprises or wars, in order to bring out the destined result. He works all the destructive and constructive plans of Nature. His sphere of work is confined to this world only. The state is acquired when a man gains complete mastery over the central point of Sahasra Dala Kamalam.
The position of a Maha Parishad is the highest in rank. It is the last godly post and is very rarely bestowed except when nature stands in urgent need of drastic change or an overhauling of the world. He enjoys the highest power. It starts from the right region of the occipital bone as given in diagram No. V in the chapter entitled ‘Central Region’ in Efficacy of Raja Yoga.
Such are the marvellous attainments of raja yoga which a man can achieve if he is really earnest about it and proceeds along the right path under proper guidance.