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    Creating A New Mind Through Satsanga, Sravana And Svadhyaya

    In the first Anga of the science of Yoga, namely, Yama, the main objective is the arresting of the downward movement of the Jiva into greater darkness, into greater bondage, into greater grossness, as a result of its total identification with the body, the senses, the sense-objects and the sense-appetite. This is because the science of Raja Yoga is primarily concerned with the liberation of your true self from its involvement in bondage and Prakriti. And for this process of liberation, there is firstly the need to counter and put an end to the contrary process in the opposite direction, which is the downward plunge into greater grossness, greater animality, great brutality, greater physical identification. The main objective of voluntarily binding oneself with self-imposed vows to adhere to certain principles is to achieve ultimately the effect of putting a stop to this downward course.

    Firstly, the vow of non-injury. You affirm: “I shall never hurt, I shall never harm, I shall never injure, I shall never cause pain and suffering in any form, in any way, through anything that I may think or do or feel or say”. This is taking up the vow of non-injury.

    Then, the vow of Satyam or strictly adhering to truth. This has various implications, the most obvious being, “I shall not conceal anything. I shall not utter falsehood. My thoughts and feelings, my words and actions—they will be the same, they will not be at variance”. If you bind yourself to this vow of Satyam, practically you cannot do anything that is culpable, because if you did anything that was culpable, that deserved punishment, that was blameworthy, naturally you would have an instinctive impulse to conceal it, to hide it, not to reveal it. And to hide it, you would have to utter untruth, falsehood. And that would go against your vow of Satyam. And so, naturally, your whole being will be alert against doing anything that would need to be concealed, that would need to be covered or hidden. And, therefore, the taking up of the vow of truth automatically secures you from doing anything that is wrong or impure or unworthy or ignoble, anything that is immoral or unethical, anything that is against your principles or against what the society expects of you as a citizen, as a Sannyasin, as a spiritual aspirant or as a Sadhak. As a Sadhak you are supposed to adhere to a certain norm or standard of conduct, a certain pattern of behaviour. The society expects this of you. And if you do anything that is at variance with this expectation of society, then you will have to conceal it. And you cannot conceal it, because you have taken the vow of truth. So, the vow of truth secures you against any type of degradation, any type of coming down from a certain standard and level of conduct. Truth has got that great power. It is such a great protecting force if you absolutely adhere to truth that you will become blameless, your character will always be noble, you cannot do anything that is wrong, immoral, unworthy, unethical or bad. Purity of conduct, self-control, Brahmacharya, chastity—these also get safeguarded if you take the vow of truthfulness. Gurudev used to say that if even one of these virtues was absolutely adhered to, the other things would automatically become fulfilled. They would follow as a matter of course.

    Now, preventing and putting a stop to the movement of your life into greater grossness, greater physicality, greater animality, greater impurity and Tamas, greater bondage is, we may say, negative Sadhana. Yama is negative Sadhana. When the downward movement is arrested, the next obvious and logical step would be to give a new direction to your life, an upward direction towards spiritual nature, towards divinity, towards godliness. That is achieved through Niyama. The Niyama of Saucha or cleanliness, external and internal, achieves this movement in the upward direction. Santosh, contentment—that also is a movement in the upward direction, in the spiritual direction.

    Necessity for Common Sense in the Performance of Tapas

    Then there is Tapas. The turbulent senses wanting to assert themselves in sensual indulgence, in the satisfaction of sensual appetites—that is countered by a certain degree of fiery resolve not to yield, not to give way. Such a resolve compels the senses to get purified in the fire of austerity and penance. Some of the acts of penance and austerity are a direct assault upon the different senses in their nature of wanting to be always in a state of pampered satisfaction. Now, this assault against the senses can go to the other extreme. If the sense of touch says, “Let me be nicely cool in summer”, you expose yourself to heat; and if the skin says, “Let me be warm in winter”, you go and stand in the freezing waters of the Ganges. Such was the Tapasya that people undertook and underwent once upon a time. They undertook Panchagni Tapas, they observed Chandrayana Vrata, Kricchra Vrata, Jagarana. All this is not completely old mythology. Even now, there are people who do this Panchagni Tapasya and other severe forms of Tapas, though due to the degeneration in the physical capacities of the modern man, modern teachers sometimes caution students against going to extremes in undertaking such austerities. They warn you against a possible risk of total physical breakdown. They say that if in your over-enthusiasm you subject your body to an austerity which is beyond its capacity to bear, it may break down, and in the event of such a breakdown, you may lose your health, and what little you could achieve in the form of Sadhana through a healthy body, that also would then become impossible. So, ultimately, the result of your Tapasya, your austerity and penance, should not be a loss in terms of spiritual life and Sadhana, but should be a gain. So, the ancients urged you to use your common sense, to have a proper, sane appraisal of your bodily capacity to withstand strain and austerity, and within the limits of that capacity, to practise austerity, to do penance. A certain modicum of austerity and penance is indispensable. It is necessary, it is good, but, be wise, use your common sense and try to make a proper appraisal of your capacity to withstand strain. To what extent can you impose upon your body austerity and penance? Find that out and do not go beyond it. Do not go to extremes. That is the caution given by many. The masters are never against penance or austerity even today. But they say, “Only, be wise. Use your common sense and do not go beyond your limits”. Austerity is necessary, but it should be within rational limits. That is the whole point about austerity. That is the rationale about austerity. The object of austerity is to counter the plunge of the senses and their innate, instinctive desire to be pampered and to be satisfied. If the senses are pampered, then you cannot free yourself from identification with the senses.

    Antahkarana—The Root of Bondage

    Now comes a fourth Niyama, a Niyama which is deeply significant and has very, very important overtones in terms of both the philosophy of Yoga as well as the psychology behind Yoga. The philosophy of Vedanta as well as Yoga says that the entire problem of bondage and liberation lies in the inner man in the mysterious factor called the Antahkarana or the mind-instrument. The Rishis explain it in this way. They say, “Look here, this physical body is an inert thing. It is made out of the five elements. It is made out of bones, flesh, muscles, skin, tendons, nerves and all kinds of gross matter. Therefore, the body is non-intelligence. It has no consciousness of its own. It is an inert thing. It is a Jada Vastu. It is like a log of wood. Because the Pranas are functioning in it, the body seems to be moving about like a pantomime, like a puppet, appearing to do various activities, though not having the capacity to do any activity. It is the Prana which makes the body sit and chant, move, talk, act and eat. The moment the Pranas get withdrawn into some other inner centre, the body goes into sleep, becomes like a log of wood. In a state of sleep and in a state of swoon, the body is incapable of doing anything at all. So, the body by itself is a factor devoid of consciousness. And being inert or Jada, it cannot bring about the bondage of the Jiva. It has nothing in it, no power in it of its own, to voluntarily try to put you into a state of bondage. So, the body is not the cause of Samsara, it is not the root of your bondage. You have to look for the cause of your bondage elsewhere. Why? For the simple reason that the body is an inert, non-intelligent thing. It has not in it the power, it has not in it the capacity, to cause any experience to you in the form of this phenomenal bondage. Then, shall we seek for the root of bondage in the Self? In the Atman? In your real nature? Here also, the answer is ”No". Because, the ultimate transcendental experience of those who have reached superconsciousness or realisation is that the Atman is self-luminous. That is to say, the Atman is of the very nature of wisdom-consciousness and is in an ever-liberated state. There is no darkness in it, there is no ignorance in it. Therefore, it is not bound. So, they call it Jnana-Svarupa. Your Self, your real innermost spiritual identity is Jnana-Svarupa. It is Nitya-Suddha, Nitya-Mukta, Paripurna. That is the Vedantic declaration. There is no doubt about it. They clearly state this upon the authority of their own personal experience, transcendental experience. So, in the Atman, in your own Self, in your true identity, there is no problem. This problem of bondage and liberation, of joy and sorrow, suffering and all that, is not to be found in the Atman. And it is also not to be found in the body. The body is incapable of causing this mischief, causing this bondage, because of its being inert. And the Atman is beyond it. So, this problem of bondage and liberation, of joy and sorrow, is neither in the body—it is not caused by the body—nor in the Atman—it is not located in the Atman. It is somewhere in between.

    In between this gross physical body and the pure, ever-free, all-full Self or Atman is your Antahkarana, your inner nature. Christian theology calls it the soul. In Christian theology, soul indicates your inner nature, mind, intellect and so on. But, by the term “soul” we Hindus mean the spirit. It is in the inner man, in the psychological being, in the interim area between body and soul, in the interim plane which we call the Antahkarana, that the whole problem of bondage and liberation lies. It is in the Antahkarana that the whole problem of ignorance and illumination, of sorrow and joy, lies. You have to find the cause of bondage there. And Vedanta says that you have to seek your solution also there. Where the bondage is, there you have to seek the solution also to the problem of bondage. Out of this has arisen the well-known saying, “Mana Eva Manushyanam Karanam Bandha Mokshayoh”, which means that the mind itself is the cause of the bondage as well as the liberation of the human being. Think you are free, you will become free. Think you are bound, you will become bound. Think you are body, you will only be a body, a physical creature. Think you are the spirit, you will rise into a spiritual consciousness and a spiritual experience.

    The Vedantic Approach to the Problem of Bondage and Release

    Therefore, the Vedantic approach to this problem took its unique form of constantly asserting and affirming the truth of the reality of your being and constantly rejecting and denying the other false factor that has now gripped your consciousness. So, they call it, “Atma ki Srishtikaran” or “Anatma ki Nirakaran”—affirming and asserting the spirit or the spiritual reality of your being, and rejecting and denying everything that is non-Self or that which is not your spiritual reality. They call this in Hindi, “Sat ki Pushtikaran” or “Asat ki Nirakaran”—that is, affirming and asserting the Truth or the Reality, and denying and rejecting that which is unreal. And Vedanta, of course, has made a distinction, a very fine, definite, clear-cut distinction between what is Self and what is non-Self, between what is real and what is unreal. And the whole process of Viveka or discrimination in the Vedantic approach or Vedantic Sadhana is to make vivid and clear to the seeker what is Self and what is non-Self. And the great Guru, Sankaracharya, has devoted an entire work to try to describe to the seeking aspirant the distinction between the Self and the non-Self, Atman and Anatman. His work, known as “Viveka-chudamani” or “The Crest-jewel of Discrimination” is entirely devoted to this topic only.

    Now, this whole process of constant discrimination between the Self and the non-Self, of constant discrimination between the Reality and that which is unreal, is based upon this truth about your interior, namely, “As you think, so you become”. Whatever you constantly hold in your thought, constantly affirm and assert, ultimately that becomes realised as fact, ultimately that becomes manifest as actuality. Constantly think of yourself as the body, as a perishable human being, as the senses, and you will always be in a body-mind-bound state of consciousness only. But, think of yourself as something completely distinct and different from them, as something completely transcending them, above them, unconnected with them, unchanging and only witness-consciousness, unaffected by the changing conditions of the body and unaffected by the changing states of the mind. Then, if you constantly think of yourself as a being completely untouched and unaffected by the body and the mind and beyond the changing conditions and states of the body and the mind, then, gradually, in your consciousness there will arise the dawn of the higher experience of your own unchanging, eternal, spiritual reality. Until then, as long as you keep your mind in a state of constant identification or at-one-ness with the body and its changing conditions, with the senses and their appetites, with the various states of the mind, its imagination, its memories, its desires, its cravings, its longings, then you will always be bound up in this state only. What you think, so you become. What you constantly hold in your mind, that is going to be your ultimate experience also. And over many births and over long ages, the mind has always been holding on to wrong thoughts. The mind is always holding on to a pattern of thinking and feeling characterised by ignorance, characterised by the opposite of Self-knowledge, characterised by a total non-awareness of your real identity and an awareness of only your false changeful human identity. You have to bring about a total change in this state of affairs prevailing in your Antahkarana, prevailing in your mind and intellect. How will you bring about this change? How will you bring about a complete revolution in your thinking, in your identity, in your consciousness?

    The Transforming Power and Influence of Holy Company

    There are several ways. One of the methods is: try as much as possible to be in the company, to be in the association, of persons who have lifted their consciousness from this body-mind-bound condition into a higher level, into a higher plane, and whose consciousness is always established in that level or plane. Try to associate yourself with persons who have effectively managed to establish their consciousness upon a higher level and not upon an earthly level. Because such persons are in a state of spiritual consciousness, because they have refused to identify themselves with body and mind, when you are in their proximity, there is some power in them, some unknown quality in them, which induces your mind also to go upward into the state in which they are. What it is, there is no scientific instrument to measure. What it is, you cannot say. It is not any known factor. It is some unknown factor. You go into their presence and you also feel a spiritual awareness of yourself. It happens automatically. So, be more and more nearer. On the other hand, if you are in the company of worldly-minded people, your consciousness also naturally comes down. If you are in the company of eaters, drinkers, merry-makers, people whose consciousness is gross, who have fully equated themselves with the body and the senses and the things of the senses, then your consciousness also comes down. But if you always get into the company and association of those who have created within themselves a new consciousness, who have become a centre of the powerful vibration of that new consciousness, if you remain in their company as much as possible, gradually, that itself becomes a liberating influence and your consciousness also becomes heightened.

    This is why in former days, the aspirants were in the habit of going and living with a spiritual Guru. In those days, in India, there was a different pattern of life altogether. For several years, in the most impressionable period of an individual’s life, the individual was taken by their father and mother and placed in the company of a Rishi. The Rishi was always a highly learned being. He was not always a God-realised soul, but at least he was not in ignorance. Theoretically at least, on the intellectual level at least, he knew that he was not the body and the mind, but that he was the Atman. And the student stayed with the Rishi and learnt, got education in the company of the Rishi—student and teacher lived as members of a big family which was called the Rishikula or the Gurukula. And for ten years, twelve years or fourteen years, from the eighth or the tenth year till the twenty-fifth year, the student lived in that Gurukula atmosphere. That itself was a transforming process. Those who lived in the Gurukula in this manner were not necessarily spiritual aspirants. They were Jijnasus, seekers of knowledge. They wanted to learn things, they wanted to acquire knowledge. For acquiring knowledge, they went and lived with the Guru. Apart from the Jijnasus, the spiritual seekers who wanted to know their own real nature, who wanted to realise the transcendental reality called Atman or Brahman or Aisvarya or Bhagavan—they also sought to be in such environment. So, that is one way to get spiritually transformed. That way is to be in the constant company of the holy ones. That is called Satsangh.

    The Sadhana of Sravana—A Process of Deprogramming

    There is a second way of transformation. Now, the state of your mind always tends to be in accordance with the ideas that are constantly fed into it. Whatever ideas come into your mind constantly, the mind takes in those ideas, and gradually becomes like those ideas. Therefore, if you want to start a new consciousness, a new awareness, in the mind, take in new ideas which always talk to you about your spiritual reality. Go and sit before people whose only business is to expound the truth, whose only business is to talk to you about the reality, to tell you who you are, to try to deprogramme your ancient brainwashed mind.

    ‘Deprogramming’ is a new term currently being used in the West. Supposing a person has been told something constantly and he has become conditioned and you want to take him out of that conditioned outlook or mental state. You hand him over to a deprogrammer. A certain type of programming has already been put into the brain and the man has been brainwashed and he is caught in that condition. Now, the deprogrammer tries to start a counter-process to relieve the patient and liberate him from his brainwashed condition. Likewise, Vedanta says: “Birth after birth, God knows since how long, you have always been thinking, ‘I am this. I am Mr. So-and-so. I am such and such. I am a male. I am a female. I am a Brahmin. I am a Kshatriya. I am a Brahmachari. I am a householder. I am a Sannyasin. I am this, I am that’. You have been thinking everything about yourself except what you are. Your mind has constantly been in the habitual practice of thinking about yourself as everything else except the pure truth. In truth, you are the pure, ever liberated Spirit, neither male nor female, neither human nor beast nor god. In truth, you are eternal and unconditioned, Nitya and Nirupadhika. You have no Upadhis. You are not conditioned by anything, you are not limited by anything. You have no name, no form. You are the eternal Satchidananda, ever free, ever perfect”. But you never think of yourself in this manner. This wisdom never comes to you. Except this wisdom, everything else has been put into your mind. So, now, to deprogramme you from this age-old wrong conditioning characterised by limitations, sex, age, height, weight, caste, religion, creed, name, form and family, throw a bomb into this citadel of conditioned thinking, of limited thinking, by thinking of the Self, by thinking of the Reality. From now on think, “I am the eternal Atman, unborn, without beginning, without end, without birth, without death, without change, without name, without form, without any limitation”. Assert, “I am the untrammelled Spirit”. Listen to the expositions by realised souls, by illumined beings. Listen to the expositions of the truth, of the reality. Constantly go before the illumined souls and take in these thrilling, illuminating, elevating, awakening, new ideas of reality, of truth, of the Vedantic experience. This is the second process of raising your consciousness into a new spiritual awareness. And this process is called the Sadhana of Sravana, of spiritual listening.

    But then, there is a practical problem. You cannot always get scope for leaving your own environment and going and sitting in the company of the illumined persons and exposing yourself to Satsangh. With great difficulty, you may have to take leave and go to Rishikesh or Hardwar, Ayodhya or Kashi or Brindavan, Uttarkashi or Badrinath, to get the Satsangh of Mahatmas. By and large, a great portion of your time is spent in the midst of people who are in a state of ignorance, who are in a state of grossness, in a state of body-consciousness. Sometimes you can manage to get a little bit of Satsangh. But, the mind soon gets covered over with the opposite worldly currents. Also, if you live in Rishikesh or Hardwar, you may get a chance to sit and listen to Vedantic discourses on Reality. But, if you are in Paris or London or Brussels, Bombay or Calcutta, Madras or Delhi, you have a problem. You do not get such a chance. There is not much scope for exposing yourself to Vedantic listening. So, what to do? Because, if there is to be a complete transformation of your mental condition, a complete overhauling of the contents of your mind, you have to keep on exposing your mind constantly to the new awakening and enlightening ideas. You have to keep on pouring these new ideas into your mind. And it cannot be done in a day or two. You must keep it up in a continuous unbroken process, constantly, just as you put nourishment into the body every day. Morning breakfast, midday lunch, evening supper—with all that only the body is nourished. So, if the transformation has to be effected in the mind, this deprogramming process has to be continuous. It has to be regular and continuous, day after day.

    Svadhyaya and Its Many Advantages

    As against this necessity, both the Satsangh method and the listening method have their limitations. You have your limitations in gaining access to these sources which can bring about the required transformation in you. So, Patanjali has suggested a process which is, independent of time and circumstances and easily accessible to you wherever you may happen to be, whether Satsangh is available or not, whether opportunity to listen is available or not. Patanjali said, “This is a process which will be available to you constantly, available to you always, wherever you are”. What is that? A regular daily intake of the mind-transforming, illumining and awakening new ideas through constant daily study of books that expound your reality. Constant daily study of the right type of literature. What is the right type of literature? The scriptures, the eternal sources of transcendental divine wisdom. The scriptures constitute permanent sources of transcendental divine wisdom. All the greatest divine experiences are there within the confines of these great books. These scriptures hold within themselves life-transforming, illuminating, spiritual ideas, powerful spiritual ideas. These you can partake of—these illuminating and transforming ideas—any day, at any time, in your own home, in your own room, in your bedroom if you like, at any time; and if your life is a very, very busy life, from morning to evening, even then you can do the study at night or do the study in the early morning. Get up early in the morning and bring in a flood of light into your mind through this study or finish all your work and sit up in the night, even at midnight, and bring in a flood of light into your interior. So, ignorance is dispelled, knowledge is brought in. By this constant intake of spiritual ideas through daily study, gradually there comes about a process of mind-transformation. The old mind is gradually eliminated and a new mind is created within you, a new mind which always thinks spiritually, which always is in a state of awareness. That old state of ignorance, that state of wrong thoughts, that state of non-awareness is pushed out gradually; and in its place there grows the new mind characterised by illumination, characterised by a higher awareness, characterised by spiritual light and wisdom. This creation of a new mind, a new view, new ways of thinking, new ways of being aware of yourself, an awakened higher awareness, a higher spiritual identity—that is the metaphysical as well as the psychological objective of the fourth Niyama, namely, Svadhyaya. And it is significant therefore that this process, this Sadhana of Svadhyaya, which constitutes the fourth of the Niyamas, constitutes also the commencement of the flow of your consciousness, the flow of your entire life in a positive spiritual direction, in an upward ascending dimension.

    To fully understand the importance of Svadhyaya, you must go deeper into its metaphysical and psychological implications. By Svadhyaya you gradually transform your interior, wherein lies the problem of bondage as well as its solution of liberation. In that area of your being you bring about an awakening, you bring about a transformation. You bring about a total renewal. The old mind is cast out and a new mind is created by Svadhyaya, by daily, regular, unfailing intake of luminous life-transforming, positive, creative spiritual ideas of Truth-consciousness, Reality-awareness, of the consciousness of your eternal identity as opposed to your present consciousness of a temporary, false identity with the body-mind complex. The false identity is all propped up by Upadhis or limiting adjuncts, whereas the real identity is based upon Tattva. The basis or support for the real identity is Tattva. Whereas the basis or support for your false identity, your human identity, your Nama-Rupa identity, your name and form identity, is the Upadhis or limiting adjuncts that are ever-changeful, that are temporary, that do not constitute your essential nature, that belong to Prakriti, as distinct from your true Self or Reality which is Purusha. So, that is the value of Svadhyaya. It creates a new mind. It puts an end to the wrong thought, the wrong knowledge or the Viparita Jnana that your mind has, namely, “I am So-and-so, I am such and such, I am this and that”, and in its place, brings about real Jnana. Svadhyaya of Jnana Granthas, the regular study of wisdom scriptures which are a source of light and enlightenment, brings about right knowledge as opposed to erroneous knowledge. Erroneous knowledge is the result of a lack of proper enquiry and a lack of proper discrimination. Viparita Jnana is due to Avichara and Aviveka. In the place of Avichara and Aviveka, you bring about Vichara and Viveka through Svadhyaya. Svadhyaya gives rise to Vichara and Viveka.

    The human individual suffers from a loss of self-awareness, suffers from a wrong identification with Prakriti in the form of body, senses and mind due to a basic nescience which we call Ajnana or spiritual ignorance. One of the metaphysical objectives of Svadhyaya is to remove the covering of this Ajnana from your consciousness and bring in a new awareness, a new knowledge about yourself. There is also a second important metaphysical objective of Svadhyaya. Within the psyche of the human being, the bondage to body consciousness and sensual propensities lies in the form of various subtle impressions and latent tendencies called Samskaras and Vasanas. They have to be completely reshuffled. They have to be completely taken out. And a new mind has to be created. The old Vasanas and Samskaras which are characterised by ignorance, Avidya, Ajnana, body consciousness and grossness have to be eliminated, and in their place, new Samskaras of a different variety, divine and spiritual, have to be created. And Svadhyaya serves a very valuable purpose towards this end. It is a great exercise, and gradually, day after day, it brings about a transformation of the mental contents, the inner contents of your mind. Svadhyaya replaces the old worldly Samskaras and Vasanas by new spiritual Samskaras and new spiritual Vasanas such as would be helpful and supplementary to your effort at attaining Self-awareness. Svadhyaya is a great exercise in this way.

    Psychologically, Svadhyaya helps you by creating a permanent background of thought, so much so, when you are free, when you are not occupied, when you are disengaged from outer occupation, you do not fall a prey to all types of chaotic, miscellaneous thoughts crowding in your mind and trying to sweep you away in one worldly direction or the other. Rather, by Svadhyaya, you gain or acquire a certain stable basis on which to stay. Your mind no longer gets swept away by the onrush of miscellaneous thoughts when you are disengaged from work, or when you try to sleep, or even before waking up or during dream. This is because Svadhyaya creates in you a permanent type of background of thought of the right quality, of the spiritual quality.

    Normally, whenever you are occupied with some work, your mind creates no problem for you, because its attention is caught in the work outside. It is when you are not occupied that all your inner Samskaras and Vasanas start showing their hideous face, that your mind becomes a devil’s workshop. It is then that your mind runs riot, goes into all sorts of sensual grooves, into various disturbing thoughts. So, to secure yourself against this mental mischief, the spiritual masters have advocated or suggested the creation of a certain permanent background of thought in your mind. If such a background of thought is created in your mind, then, the problem of mental mischief ceases. When you are occupied, everything is okay. And when you are not occupied, then also you are okay, because you have already created in your mind a certain background of thought which is spiritual, which is positive and good, uplifting and elevating. By providing the right material, Svadhyaya helps you in creating such a permanent background of higher thought, ennobling spiritual thought. This is one psychological gain of Svadhyaya.

    Yet another important psychological advantage of Svadhyaya is that it gives you, creates in you new material for contemplation, for reflection, for meditation. It is very necessary for you to have clear-cut, vivid and well-defined concepts and ideas about the Ultimate Reality, about the ultimate object of meditation, upon which your mind will have to get focussed later on in the practice of Yoga. If there is only a vague type of understanding about these things, effective meditation is not possible. For successful meditation, it is necessary to have very clear-cut ideas about the Ultimate Reality. And Svadhyaya provides the right type of psychological exercise which clarifies things in the mind, removes many doubts, answers many questions, provides inspiration and deeper insight, and more than anything else, gives you clear, well-defined, vivid material upon which to reflect, upon which to cogitate, upon which to contemplate and meditate.

    If your mind is having only vague ideas, nebulous ideas of what Brahman is, what Reality is, you can only discuss a little; you can only talk a little. But, since you have not caught very clear-cut and well-defined ideas about the ultimate object of meditation, about the ultimate reality and goal of your life, your mind cannot take hold upon it, your mind cannot get focussed upon it in a steady way. Svadhyaya provides for this problem also. Through constant concentrated study, with all your attention fixed upon the subject of your study, what happens is that gradually within your mind there comes a very clear-cut and very clearly defined idea of what it is that you have to achieve. There comes into your mind a very vivid and clearly defined idea of what really is your goal, what really is your object of meditation. Then, Brahman becomes to you not merely a world, not just something vague and nebulous and ill-defined, but very clear-cut and very well-defined. Thus, Svadhyaya provides for you material for effective meditation, for effective inner reflection and contemplation, by creating within you a clear-cut, definite idea of your object of meditation. Only when you have a clear-cut idea of the object of meditation can you truly meditate. And meditation is the ultimate process which the whole science of Yoga is trying to bring about, trying to make possible. Because, Raja Yoga is nothing but the science of meditation. Its ultimate process is meditation. It is in order to train your entire interior to be able to do effective meditation that all these various preliminaries, various steps, have been expounded by Patanjali. For the process of meditation, the Niyama of Svadhyaya becomes a very, very invaluable and priceless preparation. So, psychologically, Svadhyaya has this to recommend it that not only does it safeguard you by creating a background of ennobling spiritual thought in the mind, but also provides for you clear-cut, well-defined material which becomes the support of your inner reflection and meditation, Manana and Nididhyasana. This is the psychological rationale of Svadhyaya.

    The whole problem of human bondage is neither in the Self nor in the body. It is in the interim area of your mind and intellect, your inner being, inner nature, which is called Antahkarana Prakriti. It is there that you have to find a solution, because the problem is there and the solution is also to be found there; and the solution is obtained by bringing about a transformation of your mind, by creating a totally new mind with new mental contents. Of the three, namely, Satsangha, Sravana and Svadhyaya, Svadhyaya is the most reliable, because it is always available and it can be practised daily. Whereas, Satsangha and Sravana are not so continuously available. Therefore it is that Patanjali has made Svadhyaya an important part of his second Anga or Niyama. Lastly, there is one thing more to know about this important spiritual exercise of daily Svadhyaya. It is that Svadhyaya is not merely reading; it is study. It is not Patha or Parayana, but it is Adhyayana; it is Svadhyaya.

    Philosophy, Phychology and Practice of Yoga -- | Preface | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 |17 | 18 | 19

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