Thursday, March 17, 2016

The pre-requisites of the aspirants in the path of Jnana Yoga (Advaita Vedanta) ~ Swami Sivananda


The pre-requisites of the aspirants
in the path of Jnana Yoga (Advaita Vedanta)

by Swami Sivananda 

"Not an iota of spiritual progress is ever possible unless
one is really endowed with these fourfold qualifications."
~Swami Sivananda

Ιntroduction  
 by Atman Nityananda
Jnana Yoga is the the practical part of Advaita Vedanta Philosophy. Advaita Vedanta is the essence of Vedas and teach us the highest goal of human life which is Self-realization or the realization of Truth (Atman or Brahman). The wisdom of the great Advaita Gurus is exposed in the advaita texts which establish the nodual nature of the highest Truth or Brahman (the  essence and origin of life) and the identity of the individual Soul (Atman, Self) with this ultimate reality, the Brahman (the universal Soul).
Main themes of Advaita Vedanta are: the nature of Atman and Brahman, the relation of Atman with Brahman, the nature of Maya, the nature of ignorance (Avidya), the nature of five sheaths or koshas, the nature of Antahakarana (fourfold mind: manas, buddhi, chitta, egoism or ego), the three gunas (sattva-rajas-tamas), the three states of mind (waking, dream and deep sleep states), the fourth state (Turiya), the means of liberation, the qualifications of the aspirant after liberation, the nature of liberation (Moksha) and Jivanmukta (liberated one or Jnani).
Original texts of Advaita Vedanta are the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, the Baghavad Gita, Ribu Gita, Astavakra Gita, Avadhuta Gita as well as texts or words of great Advaita Gurus such as Adisankaracharya, Gaudapada, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta.
Jnana Yoga is the practical guide of Advaita Vedanta that gives us the necessary knowledge and the means (practices) that are necessary to realize our true nature (Atman) and its identity with the supreme Truth or Brahman.
Since All the aspirants are not in the same state o evolution, they have different needs, capacities and idiosyncrasy. That's why Jnana Yoga it is not appropriagte for all aspirants; and those who follow the path of Jnana must apply a sadhana according their needs.
The books, texts and sayings of the great Advaita Gurus are of great importance in order to understand things related to sadhana, the obstacles, the practices, the nature of the Self etc.
Some of the important books related to advaita and Jnana Yoga are: Baghavad Gita, Jnana Yoga, Moksha Gita, Sadhana Chatustaya, of Swami Sivananda, Vivekachudamani, Atma Bodha, of Adisankaracharya, I am That, Seed of Consciousness of Nisargadatta and Who am I,  Self-enquiry, Day by day, Talks with Ramana,  Paravidyopanishad, Forty Verses of Ramana Maharshi.
Very rare are the aspirants that are ready to start their sadhana from meditation or Self-enquiry. The majority needs a preparation in order to aquire the proper qualities and capacities for deep meditation and Self-enquiry which are the chief means for Self-realization. In reality the majority of people engaged in spituality nowadays is prepared for next births in order to continue their journey towards Self-realization. Very fiew are ready to achieve Self-realization in the present life.
Thus for the majority is necessary a preparation through various methods and practices until they are ready to enter in the Advaita philosophy and the path of Jnana Yoga. Bhakti Yoga, Hatha, Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Nada Yoga and also a variety of other modern methods can be used by the aspirants in order to purify and prepare their Antahakarana (the fourfold mind) to understand properly the sublime philosophy of Advaita and put it in practice.
Swami Sivananda  as well as Sri Aurobindo consider as more appopriate for this age, the Yoga of synthsesis (I also are lover of the yoga of synthesis) which includes practices from all main paths of Yoga. Sivananda considers also very important the integral development of body, heart and mind, in order to become instruments of the divine light. Moreover since the egoic nature is very difficult to be eliminated from our psych a variety of methods of practices are necessary. We can practice parts of all yogas and according our constitution and our inclination, we can have one of the yogas as the center of our sadhana. 
Regardless the path that one follows there are spesific mental qualities that must the aspirant must develope in order to succeed in meditation, samadhi and Self-realization. Purity of heart and mind, devotion, dedication, faith, perseverence, parience, sincerity, serenity and teanquility of mind, discrimination (viveka), dispassion-detachment (Vairagya), control of mind and senses, one-pointed mind and intense longing for liberation are the most important qualities that must be developed in the highest possible degree in order to succeed in meditation and Self-realization.
In essence all sadhana is a preparation of the mental factory to understand the spiritual principles deeply (the aspirants of advaita vedanta the he Advaita teachings) and be capable for profound meditation or Self-enquiry and samadhi which at the end leads to the complete realization of our true nature.
The book  Sadhana Chatustaya (the four means or qualifications of salvation) of Swami Sivananda is one of the important books that explain us the nature of these prerequesites which are the foundation of JnanaYoga and Self-realization. He who is really intrested to walk the path of Self-realization must understand the nature of these qualities and find the means to develop them in the highest degree.  
Understanding and practice go together. We must practice what we undersatand and by practice our understanding deepens. Through systematic, regular intense practice we must gradually dissolve from our psych the egoic tendencies of pride, desire, lust, fear, anger, greed, hatred, jealousy, the tamasic qualities of laziness, dullness, carelessness, boredom, drowsiness, and the rajasic qualities of distraction, tossing and extrovertedness of mind, passion for sensual pleasures, fame and power.
When we are established in discrimination, detachment and dispassion, when our mind has become steady, one pointed and introverted then and then alone we are able to meditate profoundly, succeed in Self-enquiry and attain Self-realization.
The aspirant (of Jnana yoga) who is endowed with all these four qualifications continues under the guidance of a realized sage with SravanaManana and, Nididhyasana. The culmination of sadhana is profound meditation on a Mahavakya (Aham Brahmasmi, Tat Tvam Asi, Ayam Atnma Brahma), on the seed mantra OM or absorption of mind in its source by Self-enquiry.
 At the final stage of sadhana a bhakta can be devoted to Saguna Dhyana (concrete meditation); meditation in one form of God (Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva etc.) using a mantra (Om nama Shivaya, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Om namo Bhagavate Vashudevaya, Om namo Narayanaya. A bhakta of course can practice advaita meditation as well. A raja yogi can meditate on OM and an aspirant of Janna yoga  to the advaita meditation using one Mahavakya (Aham Brahmasmi, Tat Tvam Asi, Ayam Atnma Brahma), the seed mantra OM or Self-enquiry.
The aspirant must understand well the nature of the above mentioned qualities (viveka, vairagya, sama, dama, pratyahara, etc.) and by proper means to develop them gradually inthe higher posible degree. The study of books like Sadhana Chatustaya that explain these qualities, as well as the refection and contemplation on them and the exercise of various practices are the means to succeed in this endeavor.
Books like Vivekachudamani, Sadhana Chatustaya, Jnana Yoga, Practice of vairagya are very helpful to this process. In my blog you can also find many essays and extracts of various books that are referred to sadhana and the above mentioned qualities and various spiritual practices.
Right knowledge, intense longing or aspiration to realize Truth, understanding and regular diligent practice are the means to success. 
~~~   ~~~   ~~~
The Four Qualifications - Sadhana Chatustaya 
Extract from Swami Sivananda book Sadhana Chatustaya.pdf

BRAHMA-VIDYA or the Science of the Self is not a subject that can be understood and realised by mere intellectual study, reasoning or ratiocination or even by discussions or arguments. It is the most difficult of all sciences. Mere scholarly erudition and vast study with a high degree of intelligence alone cannot help one in the practical realisation of the Ti.uth inculcated by this Science. 
It demands perfect discipline, a discipline that is not to be found in our universities and colleges, and solid Sadhana for the achievement of the goal that is indicated by this Para-Vidya (Highest Science or knoeledge). One has to reach a realm where there is neither light nor darkness, neither East nor West, neither gain nor loss-a realm which can never be reached by either the mind or the senses.
Sadhana Chatushtaya or the fourfold means for salvation or the four kinds of spiritual practices, is a pre-requisite to the aspirantj in the path of Jnana Yoga (Vedanta), or, for that matter, in any system of evolution towards Godhead. The four means are:

1. Viveka-discrimination between Sat (real) and Asat (unreal).

2. Vairagya-dispassion or indifference to sensual enjoyments herein and hereafter.

3. Shad Sampat (6 virtues):
(a) Sama-peace of mind through eradication of Vasanas.
(b) Dana-control of sense organs.
(c) Uparati-satiety, renunciation of all works (Sannyasa).
(d) Titiksha - forbearance.
(e) Sraddha-faith in scriptures and the Guru's words.
(f) Samadhana-concentration of mind, balance of mind.

4. Mumukshutva-Intense longing for liberation.


The importance of the fourfold qualifications

A student who treads the path of Truth must equip himself with these four means. OnIy then can he march quite fearlessly on the path. Not an iota of spiritual progress is ever polsible unless one is really endowed with these fourfold qualifications. These four means are as old as the Vedas or even this world itself. Every religion prescribed these four essential requisites for the aspirant. Only ignorant people resort to lingual warfare and raise unnecessary questions. This has become an ignobie habit in them. You should not mind this. It is your duty to try to eat the fruit instead of wasting time in counting the leaves of the tree. Try now to know what these four means are.

 Analysis of  the fourfold qualifications
1. Viveka-discrimination between Sat (real) and Asat (unreal)
Read these essays

2. Vairagya-dispassion or indifference to sensual enjoyments herein and hereafter.
 
 Read these essays
Baghavad Gita  Swami Sivananda   

3. Shad Sampat (6 virtues):
(a) Sama-peace of mind through eradication of Vasanas.
(b) Dana-control of sense organs.
(c) Uparati-satiety, renunciation of all works (Sannyasa).
(d) Titiksha - forbearance.
(e) Sraddha-faith in scriptures and the Guru's words.
(f) Samadhana-concentration of mind, balance of mind.
  Read here babout Shad Sampat (6 virtues)
  
 and also these essays

4. Mumukshutva-Intense longing for liberation. 
Lastly, we come to the fourth of the main qualifications, Mumukshutva. Mumukshutva is aspiration or burning desire to attain God-realisation or Self-realisation. God is the one true aim of all human aspirations. Aspiration is earnest longing or an earnest wish for that which is above one's present reach or attainment, especially for what is noble, pure and spiritual. To aspire is to rise or reach upward. To aspire is to have an earnest desire, wish or longing for something high and good not yet attained, and is usually accompanied by endeavor to attain it. 
  Mumukshutva is intense desire for liberation or deliverance from the wheel of birth and death with its concomitant evils of old age, disease, delusion and sorrow.
If one is equipped with the previous three qualifications, -Viveka, Vairagya and Shad Sampat-, Mumukshutva will come by itself. The mind moves towards the source of its own accord, because it has lost its hold on external objects. It has no resting place in this objective universe.
Purification of the mind and mental discipline is the rock-bottom foundation of yoga. When this is effected, the longing for liberation dawns by itselt.

Mumukshutva must be of a burning type. If burning Mumukshutva is coupled with burning Vairagya , Self-realization will come within the twinkling of an eye.
Generally the vast majority of people have got a dull type of Vairagya and Mumukshutva so they do not succeed in their attempts.
If one finds that he has not got burning Mumukshutva he must practice the other three Sadhanas vigorously till he acquires intense longing for attaining salvation or immortality.
To cite an analogy: suppose some dust falls in one's eyes, he will hurry up to wash his eyes and get rid of the dust. He will feel great unrest till the dust is removed, forgetting everything of this world. His sole concern will be the removal of the dust from his eyes. Similarly should one's aspiration be to attain God-realization. He should forget everything else. He should feel extremely restless and should pine for God-realization. 
Another analogy for Mumulshutva is that of the man under water. Suppose you keep the head of a person immersed in water. He will be struggling for breath. He will intensely desire to get out of the water, so that he can breathe. Such intense desire for God-realisation is called Mumukshutva. 

The practice of the four means

The aspirant should practise all the four means to a maximum degree. Proficiency in one Sadhana alone will not make you perfect. That aspirant who is endowed with these four qualifications should hear the scriptures from a Guru who is a knower of Brahman and then reflect and meditate on the inner Self. He will soon get Self-realisation.

There is a definite significance in the sequence of the four means. If you have Viveka Vairagya will come by itself. If you possess Viveka and Vairagya, Sama will dawn by itself. If you are endowed with Viveka, Vairagya and Sama, Dama will come by itself. If you have Sama and Dama Uparati will come by itself. If you have all these qualifications, Titiksha, Sraddha and Samadhana will come by themselves. If you possess Viveka, Vairagya, Sama, Dama, (Uparati, Sraddha, Titiksha and Samadhana, Mumukshutva or burning desire for liberation will manifest by itself.

Some students ask: "Shall we practise Viveka, Vairagya, etc., in order, one by one, after mastering each limb, or shall we practise all the limbs simultaneously? If we practise one by one, perhaps we will not be able to get mastery over even one or two limbs in this life. We may require several births for perfect mastery over all limbs. Life is very short. What shall we do?" Ir depends upon the temperament, taste and capacity of the students. Some like to get perfect mastery over each stage and then proceed to the next step. Some like to practise all the limbs at the same time. For six months concentrate your mind in cultivating Viveka, Vairagya and Sama. For the next six months try to acquire Sraddha, Samadhana and Mumukshutva. Devote more time in developing that virtue which you are seriously
lacking. If you are earnest and sincere in your attempt, you can develop the four means and attain Self-realisation in this very birth.

  The first-class student

Another vedanta student says:
"Swamiji there is no necessity for acquiring these four means of salvation-Viveka, YVairagya. etc. It is a long, tedious process. I will not be able to acquire them even in several births. The shortest way is to think of Brahman always. I will acquire all the virtues automatically. Then t will be able to practise deep meditation." He is right. A first-class student can adopt this method, because he had cultivated the four means in his previous births.
 
The mediocre student

A mediocre student will not be able to think of Brahman at the very outset. How can one think of Brahman when the mind is filled with impurities, when it is turbulent and the senses are jumping and revolting? Absolutely impossible. He may sit for thinking on the Selt but he will be building castles in the air and thinking of other objects. He will foolishly imagine that he entered into Nirvikalpa Samadhi. He will mistake deep sleep for Samadhi. 
Many are deluded in this manner. They do not have any spiritual progress. They can have no idea of Brahman. It is only the mind that is rendered pure by the practice of Viveka, Vairagya, Sama, Dama, etc., that can have definite conception of Brahman. Ideas of Brahman cannot be lodged in a restless, impure mind.
May you all live in an illumined state through the practice of these four qualifications!