Friday, February 4, 2011
DHYANA YOGA = BHAGAVAD GITA = POST.3 = MODERATION IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE IS ESSENTIAL FOR YOGI
THE PRECURSOR TO PANTANJALI’S YOGA SUTRAS
In Post.2, Verse.10,we saw that a Solitary, silent place is highly suitable for Yoga. In the whole of Dhyana Yoga, the word Yoga is used with Dhyana. We also saw that, if mind must remain calm and fit for Dhyana, we must keep our desires to the minimum and must not accept gifts etc from others. Desire for Possessions must come down significantly.
In Vedanta, some of the great teachers (like Swami Paramarthananda) advocate reduction of P O R T – where P stands for Possessions, O stands for obligations R stands for relationships and T stands for transactions. The Vedantins advocate this for preparing the mind for liberation, or Moksha. The goal there is Nithya Mukthi, liberation as you are, where you are, right now, without waiting for any future event, or for death, or going to heaven etc. This is Jnana Marga prescribed in Upanishads, which Krishna has said is for – people of wisdom.
Approximately the same thing is advocated in Yoga also – which, Krishna says, is intended for Yogis. Here, elaborate understanding of Upanishads is not prescribed. But, devoted practice of Dhyana Yoga is prescribed. The significance is – mind gets cleansed and becomes fit for Yoga in the process.
Longing for physical Possessions – is Moha or Maya. The external world must not look more attractive to us than the internal world. This is the basic theme. King Janaka was a great Yogi. But, whether the Kingdom has great attraction for him or not – is what decides his status as Yogi.
Buddha said that, all of our life, we are gathering all types of dust around us as our property, until, we turn into dust ourselves. Truly, all that we get from outside are different forms of dust!! This realization needs to be kept inside.
Verse.11:- Krishna now prescribes certain preferable conditions for the Dhyana yogi, the meditator.
These are – (i) a clean place, (ii) a firm seat, not too high and not too low, (iii) seat, covered with Kusa grass at the bottom, a deer or tiger skin on top of it and on top of them, a cloth.
Lord Krishna has gone to great lengths in even describing where to sit and how to sit!!
A clean place – free of insects, ants etc – is obviously preferable – as the Dhyana is not interrupted by these things. It also ensures clean air, absence of unwanted smells, heavy wind, lack of air and other obstructions.
A firm seat, not too high and not too low ensures that small insects do not climb on to the seat but, the meditator does not also feel dizzy because of the heights. Even if the Meditator falls down during the Dhyana processes, he will not be hurt by the fall and can quickly resume his Dhyana. A wobbly or rocking type of seat is absolutely unfit for Dhyana.
Kusa Grass protects the meditator from dampness and is easily available everywhere.
A Deer / tiger skin covering the Kusa grass ensures both firmness and adequate comfort. But, with animal protection laws in place now – this may seem risky in some countries. We can substitute with equivalent type of Blankets etc. However, there may also be some other significance for the preference of Deer / Tiger skin and the Kusa Grass. Even so, in modern days, we must be able to make our seat firm, reasonably elevated, free from dampness, clean – as prescribed by Lord Krishna – with other modern day materials. The stress is – the seat must not be uncomfortable and must not be too comfortable.
A cloth on top of the deer/tiger skin completes the preparation of the seat.
These are the additions we must keep in mind, when studying Patanjali Yoga sutras. Patanjali assumes all these – and does not therefore specifically prescribe any of them.
Verse.12 : Seated in this way, Keep the mind fixed on a single objective. Observe the actions of your mind and your senses. Cleanse them through Yoga (Meditation). For our clarity, Vs.13 can even be read first, before reading Vs.12.Vs.12. come before Vs.13, for one reason. Even before you sit on the seat, you must know, what you are going to accomplish on sitting for Dhyana. The goal focus must start now.
Verse.13 : Keep the spine, neck and head erect, motionless and firm; the eye lids must easily fall lower as if they are looking at the tip of the nose but really not looking in any direction.
Krishna did not prescribe either totally open eyes or totally closed eyes but eyes which are restful avoiding darkness and light both.
Totally closed eyes may take the Yogi into sleep. Totally open eyes will make external objects visible and distracting. Looking at the tip of the Nose is not prescribed for concentrated looking at the tip of the nose. It is for – not looking in any direction, as the last phrase of the verse makes clear. Be absolutely relaxed in the body and mind but keep a focused awareness for the single objective (mentioned in Previous verse) of the Dhyana. This is the message.
Verse.14 : Keep the mind cool, calm, serene and free of all fears. Keep yourself steadfast in Brahmacharya Vratha. Keep the mind focused on me as your final Goal.
Keeping the mind serene, cool and calm is very easy – if we have adhered to the practical conditions set forth in previous verses.
P O R T reduction advocated by Vedantins, is equally applicable to Yogis and is so prescribed by Lord Krishna.
What is BrahmaCharya Vratha? It is usually identified with mental and physical celibacy. This is true. But, it is more than that. Brahmacharya means – one who travels in the path of Brahman. From, the vedic Mahavakyams – we find “Aham Brahma Asmi”. I am verily the Brahman. Discovering the Self is the ultimate aim of both the Yogis and the Vedantins. The Sadhaka (Yogi) must constantly keep his mind on discovering him self. Krishna says – I am the Goal. Keep your mind on me. When you don’t yet know your self, the supreme lord becomes the goal. For Arjuna who has surrendered to Lord Krishna and knows him to be the supreme Lord, there need be no other goal.
A doubt may arise now. Is discovery of self the goal, or, keeping Krishna in mind the goal of meditation? Keeping Krishna in focus is the starting point, but discovering the self in Krishna is the ultimate result of Yogi’s efforts. The reader can read the three great stories on MAYA in the earlier Posts in this Blog, for greater clarity on this.
Be Free of all Fears, says Krishna. When all fears have left you permanently, you are automatically liberated. Fear only keeps you to the ground. Fearlessness makes you divine automatically. A yogi, by definition and by implication, is totally fearless. As each fear leaves you, you are more and more permanently entrenched in Yoga. We can see from these verses that Krishna addresses even the Sadhaka as Yogi only.
Verse.15 : Keep practicing Yoga in this way, all the time. Keep mind inward-bound and on me. Keep peaceful and calm. You will achieve the rare serenity leading to Nirvana or liberation.
What is liberation? What is enlightenment? Buddha is said to be enlightened. Ramana Maharshi is said to be enlightened. There are many such known names. But, there are many others, who are liberated and enlightened – whom we do not know. Your knowing them or not knowing them is of no consequence to them. We are far away from deliberating on this topic. We are in the first steps of Yoga.
Verse.16 : Moderation is the key for successful practice of Yoga. The over-eater and the under-eater, one who sleeps too much or too little or one who dreams much in the day cannot be a successful Yogi.
Moderation is the Key. Any excess on either side distracts the Yogi from the goal. Every such excess is indicative of a desire-filled mind. Basic needs satisfaction is not only permitted but considered essential for yogi. Need satisfaction is, however different from sensory appetite and its satisfaction. Eyes seek pleasant sights. Ears want pleasant sounds. Tongue wants pleasant tasty foods. Skin wants pleasant touch. Nose wants pleasant smells. But, these are habit forming and highly distracting for the Yogi.
In Brahma charya vratha, one is supposed to eat by seeking Bhiksha (alms / charity) of food daily and eat whatever he receives through such Bhiksha. But, one cannot visit many houses for Bhiksha. There are limitations.
One’s Ego play and one’s sensory appetite must be totally under check. This is the advice.
Verse. 17: One who eats, relaxes, works, sleeps and remains awake in a proper way – with temperate habits - finds meditation as the destroyer of all his sufferings and Sorrows.
Krishna says – eat appropriate food. Krishna has also told Arjuna in another Chapter of Gita– what is the appropriate food. Your food must not induce in you either Rajas or Thamas. Eat predominantly sathvic food and in a limited way, neither too much nor too little. A person who is eating predominantly Rajo / thamo dominant food will find it very difficult to practice Dhyana.
Relaxation (by walking etc) is also needed. TV, Radio etc are not advisable at all for Yogi.
Work – but neither too much of work nor too little of it. It must be enough to keep the body fit. Work must also must be one appropriate for Yogi.
Sleeping and waking also must be moderate and appropriate for a Yogi.
The essential teaching is – be moderate in all matters – so that the body and mind do not trouble you in either way – in your practice of Yoga. Our bodily and mental sufferings and sorrows will automatically come down when we practice such moderation.
When other yoga masters like Patanjali speak of Yoga, they speak in extremely short verses. Evidently, they assume the knowledge of these matters, taught by Lord Krishna over 4000 -5000 years earlier. Even Lord Krishna has said – that he is not teaching any thing new but only the ancient wisdom.
We will see what more light Krishna throws on Dhyana Yoga – in next Post.
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