This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Sri Swami Sivananda
Introduction The Story of King Chitrabhanu Spiritual Significance of the Ritual Lord Shiva's Assuarance Related Links
This falls on the 13th (or 14th) day of the dark half of Phalgun (February-March). The name means "the night of Shiva". The ceremonies take place chiefly at night. This is a festival observed in honour of Lord Shiva. Shiva was married to Parvati on this day. People observe a strict fast on this day. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water. They keep vigil all night. The Shiva Lingam is worshipped throughout the night by washing it every three hours with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc., whilst the chanting of the Mantra Om Namah Shivaya continues. Offerings of bael leaves are made to the Lingam. Bael leaves are very sacred as, it is said, Lakshmi resides in them. Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva, such as the Shiva Mahimna Stotra of Pushpadanta or Ravana's Shiva Tandava Stotra are sung with great fervour and devotion. People repeat the Panchakshara Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya. He who utters the Names of Shiva during Shivaratri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Shiva and lives there happily. He is liberated from the wheel of births and deaths. Many pilgrims flock to the places where there are Shiva temples.
The Story of King Chitrabhanu
In the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, Bhishma, whilst resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma, refers to the observance of Maha Shivaratri by King Chitrabhanu. The story goes as follows. Once upon a time King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty, who ruled over the whole of Jambudvipa, was observing a fast with his wife, it being the day of Maha Shivaratri. The sage Ashtavakra came on a visit to the court of the king. The sage asked, "O king! why are you observing a fast today?" King Chitrabhanu explained why. He had the gift of remembering the incidents of his previous birth. The king said to the sage: "In my past birth I was a hunter in Varanasi. My name was Suswara. My livelihood was to kill and sell birds and animals. One day I was roaming the forests in search of animals. I was overtaken by the darkness of night. Unable to
the intellect. Thus did I unconsciously worship the Lord. he will develop certain external marks of a Yogi. "I lived in the abode of the Lord and enjoyed divine bliss for long ages. Sastri: That's right. So he is given the name Suswara. I am now reborn as Chitrabhanu. namely. I bought some food for myself and for my family. The first marks are lightness of the body. They told me that there was a Lingam at the bottom of the tree. This stage has been spoken of in detail in the Swetaswatara Upanishad. consisting of the subconscious mind. It is regarded as the meeting place of the three nerve currents (Nadis). his birthplace is Varanasi. The wild animals that the hunter fought with are lust. Do you remember where he was born? Atmanathan: Yes. The hunter had a pleasant melodious voice. infatuation. They were sent down to conduct my soul to the abode of Lord Shiva. Do you remember the name of the hunter in the story? Atmanathan: Yes. If you want to be a real Yogi you have to conquer these evil tendencies. It means "melodious". If a person practices Yama and Niyama and is ever conquering his evil tendencies. the ego and the conscious mind. I served him first and then took my food. I learnt then for the first time of the great merit I had earned by the unconscious worship of Lord Shiva during the night of Shivaratri. The hunter or the Yogi had for many years practised Yoga and had reached the first stage. he was called Suswara. jealousy and hatred." Spiritual Significance of the Ritual The Scriptures record the following dialogue between Sastri and Atmanathan. They must be killed. giving the inner meaning of the above story. Sastri: It is an allegory. I shed profuse tears when I thought of my poor wife and children who were starving and anxiously awaiting my return. I saw two messengers of Lord Shiva. I had shot a deer that day but I had no time to take it home. I returned home and sold the deer. It happened to be a bael tree. I kept awake throughout the night. the Ida. And I had fasted all day and all night. clearness of countenance and a pleasant voice. This is the point midway between the eyebrows.return home. anger. greed. My tears which I had shed out of pure sorrow for my family fell onto the Lingam and washed it. I bundled it up and tied it to a branch on the tree. As I was tormented by hunger and thirst. I was about to break my fast when a stranger came to me. The jungle is the fourfold mind. Sastri: Now. Our hunter was pursuing them because he was a Yogi. I climbed a tree for shelter. health. steadiness. The leaves I dropped fell on the Lingam. begging for food. To pass away the time that night I engaged myself in plucking the bael leaves and dropping them down onto the ground. "The day dawned. the Yogis call the Ajna Chakra by the name Varanasi. Pingala and the Sushumna. "At the time of death. An aspirant is instructed . It is in the mind that these "wild animals" roam about freely.
one cannot win that Grace. etc. The preliminary stage is to identify one's own mind with the minds of all created beings. which are the regions for the activity of the moon. They represent the Ida. The leaves are threefold. the sun and fire respectively. namely. Atmanathan: That is now clear to me. He had gone through the steps of Yama. I am very interested to know more. On the tree he was practising concentration and meditation. He bundled up the birds and the animals he had slain and. All his activity was confined to the three Nadis. the serpentine power. he rested there. tying them on a branch of the tree. Pingala and Sushumna Nadis. Without practising universal love. The tree represents the spinal column. It is there that he gets a vision of the Divine Light within. That is fellow-feeling or sympathy. Atmanathan: Yes.to concentrate on that point. . Atmanathan: He kept vigil the whole night. That means he had fully conquered his thoughts and rendered them inactive. But why did he weep for his wife and children? Sastri: His wife and children are none other than the world. When he felt sleepy. Pratyahara. Then one must rise above the limitations of the mind and merge it in the Self. One who seeks the Grace of God must become an embodiment of love. before he passed into the deep sleep state. Sastri: Good. from the lowest nerve centre called the Muladhara to the Ajna Chakra. Atmanathan: Why did he pluck and drop the bael leaves? Sastri: That is mentioned in the story only to show that he had no extraneous thoughts. In Yoga also. That happens only in the stage of Samadhi. That helps him to conquer his desires and evil qualities like anger and so on. One must perceive one's own Self everywhere. Please go on further. I have heard of the Kundalini and the various psychic centres in the body. it is said. one cannot have illumination without Divine Grace. He was not even conscious of what he was doing. The climbing of the tree is meant to represent the ascension of the Kundalini Shakti. I have said before. Niyama. or which may be thought of as the three eyes of Shiva. The Yogi was in the waking state when he began his meditation. the dream state. That is the work of the Yogi. it means that he was about to lose consciousness and go into deep sleep. His shedding of tears is symbolical of his universal love. Sastri: True. represent the three Nadis. not earlier. So he determined to keep awake. He must have an all-embracing sympathy. The leaves. you certainly do explain it very well. Atmanathan: Very interesting! But how do you explain his climbing up the bael tree and all the other details of the worship? Sastri: Have you ever seen a bael leaf? Atmanathan: It has three leaves on one stalk. He was in fact in the second state.
My devotees give me greater happiness by mere fasting than by ceremonial baths and offerings of flowers. It is known as Shivaratri. Going to the world of Shiva (Salokya) is not enough to prevent this. he should feed the Brahmins first and." Parvati was deeply impressed by the speech of Loid Shiva. That was an indication to him that he would realise the supreme. Next morning. that means that he passed through the deep sleep state successfully. My devotee should bathe Me in milk at the first period. "The 14th night of the new moon. The offering of a few bael leaves is more precious to Me than the precious jewels and flowers. Lord Shiva's Assuarance When creation had been completed. he had the vision of the Lord. But he did not consume the whole of it. in clarified butter at the third. Now think of how the story continues. is my most favourite day. That was why he had to be reborn as King Chitrabhanu. in curd at the second. . Atmanathan: So it appears from what you say that the sight of the lights is not the final stage? Sastri: Oh no! That is only one step. after performing the prescribed ceremonies. She repeated it to Her friends who in their turn passed it on to the ruling princes on earth. sweets and incense. Parvati asked. "O venerable Lord! which of the many rituals observed in Thy honour doth please Thee most?" The Lord replied. There are other stages besides Salokya. He goes home and feeds a stranger. albeit a difficult one. Have you not heard of Jaya and Vijaya returning from Vaikunta? Atmanathan: Yes. O Parvati! there is no ritual which can compare with this simple routine in sanctity. Atmanathan: It is said that he came down and saw the Lingam. The dawning of day symbolises the entrance into the Fourth state called Turiya or superconsciousness. in the dark fortnight during the month of Phalgun. What does that mean? Sastri: That means that in the Turiya state he saw the Shiva Lingam or the mark of Shiva in the form of the inner lights. A little still remained. A stranger is one whom you have not seen before. Shiva and Parvati went out to live on the top of Mount Kailas. "The devotee observes strict spiritual discipline in the day and worships Me in four different forms during each of the four successive three-hour periods of the night. Sarupya and finally Sayujya. In other words. he can break his fast. I have understood now. The stranger is no other than the hunter himself. Thus was the sanctity of Shivaratri broadcast all over the world. transformed into a new person.Sastri: Yes. The food was the likes and dislikes which he had killed the previous night. eternal abode of Lord Shiva in course of time. and in honey at the fourth and last. These are Samipya.
All spiritual aspirants fast the whole day. Sannyas Diksha is also given on this day to sincere seekers on the path. Constant vigilance is imposed on the mind. and jealousy. My walk is circumambulation of you. so that I may be one with Thee-the One alone without a second. Related Links: Lord Siva and His Worship a book by Swami Sivananda Siva by Swami Sivananda Siva--The Mystic Night by Swami Krishnananda http://www. At night all assemble in the temple and chant Om Namah Shivaya the whole night. milk. 5.The two great natural forces that afflict man are Rajas (the quality of passionate activity) and Tamas (that of inertia). The formal worship consists of bathing the Lord. A grand havan is performed for the peace and welfare of all." Here is another formula for the supreme worship of the Lord: "O Shiva! you are my Self. so that the fire of worldliness which is scorching me may be put out once for all. anger. Motion is controlled. Thus do I offer all that I am to you. born of Rajas are ignored and subdued. The devotee observes vigil throughout the night and thus conquers Tamas also. Lord Shiva is considered to be the Form of Light (which the Shiva Lingam represents). etc. 1. Every three hours a round of worship of the Shiva Lingam is conducted. My mind is Parvati. Do Thou kindly wash me of all my sins. 3. He is burning with the fire of austerity. 4." At the Sivananda Ashram. Continuous worship of the Lord necessitates the devotee's constant presence in the place of worship. The Shivaratri Vrata aims at the perfect control of these two. I worship Him with the fragrant flowers of Samadhi-all this so that I may not be born again in this world. During the four quarters of the night the Shiva Lingam is worshipped with intense devotion. The entire day is spent at the Feet of the Lord. My speech is your prayer. My body is your house. 2. Evils like lust. While bathing the Lingam the devotee prays: "O Lord! I will bathe Thee with water. 6.dlshq. Shivaratri is a perfect Vrata. the Shiva residing in the Lotus of my heart. Do Thou kindly bathe me with the milk of wisdom. My actions in this world are your worship. many of them without taking even a single drop of water.org/religions/shivaratri. The whole day is spent in doing the Japa of Om Namah Shivaya and in meditation upon the Lord. He is therefore best propitiated with cool bathing. My Pranas are your servants. I bathe Him with the water of my pure mind brought from the river of faith and devotion. the Shivaratri festival is celebrated in the following manner. My sleep is Samadhi.htm . Rishikesh. Offer this inner worship to Lord Shiva daily: "I worship the jewel of my Self.
added to or altered. 8. meditation. You can grow and evolve quickly in the spiritual path. Make a few resolves for practice during the New year as shown below. 5. I will observe Brahmacharya (celibacy) for weeks/months at a time. daily spiritual diary and Mantra note-book. and develop your will power and control the mind and the senses by sticking to the resolves. Keep a daily Mantra note-book and regularly write a page or two of your Ishta Mantra or Guru Mantra in ink. 4. you should perform some extra Malas of Japa or give up one meal to remind yourself of the resolve and to impress the mind of the importance of these resolves (self-punishment). harsh or vulgar words towards any one during this year. Distractions and obstacles are many. 8. I will do __________Malas of Japa daily (Mala of 108 beads). (C) Cinemas. 10. I will observe a fast on Ekadasi days or once a fortnight/month. IMPORTANT RESOLVES 1. unknowingly or by force of circumstances. I will not entertain hatred or evil thoughts towards any one. I will give up __________ (one of my cherished objects of enjoyment) once every __________ days/month or for __________ days/months. I will speak the truth at all costs during this year. 3. (A) Smoking. I will perform Asanas and Pranayamas for __________ minutes daily. to suit the individual temperament. 6. I will observe Mouna (complete silence) for __________ minutes/hours daily and __________ minutes/hours on Sundays/holidays. I will give away __________cents per dollar of my income in charity. 3. (D) Novels. . I will not indulge in any of the following more than once every __________ days/weeks or for __________ months. I will take milk and fruits only in lieu of night meals once a week/fortnight/month. 2. and introspection. and at the end of every month send a copy of it to your spiritual guide who will give you further lessons for your progress. The resolves form should be prepared in duplicate and one copy duly signed should be sent to your Guru so that you may not be tempted to relax your efforts or ignore the resolves of break any other under the slightest pretext or lame excuse. Do not abruptly change the mode of living. I will not utter angry. convenience or stage of development. Be ever careful and vigilant. 2. 6. 4. 9. (B) Cards. I will perform selfless service (Nishkamya Karma Yoga) for __________ hours daily/weekly. 11. 13. Do not try the impossible at first. 7.Resolves for Quick Spiritual Progress By Sri Swami Sivananda 1. Chalk out a daily routine for daily practice and stick to it at any cost. Thus you can elevate many from the quagmire of Samsara (worldliness). 7. Japa. If you fail in any of the resolves through lack of self-control. Any of the resolves may be crossed out. and utilize the time in concentration. Take your resolves very cautiously and ascend step by step on the ladder of Yoga. Request all your spiritually inclined friends to maintain such resolves. 5. Maintain a daily spiritual diary. 12.
15. concentration. 17. I will get up at __________a. prayer. I will conduct Sankirtan with family members and friends daily for __________minutes/hours at night. I will write my Ishta Mantra/Guru Mantra in a note-book daily for __________minutes or __________pages. 16. I will study __________ Slokas of Gita daily with commentary. I will maintain a daily spiritual diary and send a copy of it every month to my Guruji for getting further lessons. daily and spend __________hours in Japa.m. etc. meditation. 18.14. Signature:______________________________ Name: ______________________________ Address: ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ Date: ________________ .
How long in disinterested selfless service ? 12. How long did you meditate in one Asana? 8. How much did you give in charity ? 13. How many lies did you tell and with what selfpunishment ? 16. How many Gita Slokas did you read or get by heart ? 9. How many hours did you observe Mouna ? 11. How long did you practice physical exercise ? 15. How many hours did you sleep ? 3. How many Pranayamas ? 6. When did you get up from bed ? 2. How long in Kirtan ? 5. How long in the company of the wise (Satsanga) ? 10. How many Malas of Japa ? 4.Spiritual Diary Month : ________________ Date Questions 1. How many Mantras you wrote ? 14. How many times and how long of anger and with what self-punishment ? . How long did you perform Asanas ? 7.
What virtue are you developing ? 25. Your clean hands or best clothes are stained. 5. How long in study of religious books ? 20. You suffer from illness or pain.org/teachings/teachings. How many times you failed in Brahmacharya ? 19. How many hours you spent in useless company ? 18. Were you regular in your meditation ? 24. You stumbled down or commit a blunder and are laughed at. . You are hurt accidentally or stung by an insect or scorpion. How would you feel. What evil quality are you trying to eradicate ? 26. When did you go to bed ? http://www.17. 2. 4. How long you concentrated on your Ishta Devata (Saguna or Nirguna Dhyana) ? 22. 3. How many days did you observe fast and vigil ? 23.dlshq. You do not succeed in your efforts. What Indriya is troubling you most ? 27. if: 1.htm Barometer of Spiritual Progress By Sri Swami Sivananda Here is an infallible barometer to find out the degree of your spiritual progress. How many times you failed in the control of evil habits and with what self-punishment ? 21.
They do not have the prerequisites for Raja Yoga. You do not get a thing that you want. But this Sankirtan Yoga or the Yoga of Singing Lord's Names is within the reach of all. Orissa. safest.. Sankirtan Yoga is the easiest. Vedantins say that there are three kinds of obstacles to Self-realization Mala. People cannot practice severe austerities now-a-days. It will remove all impurities from your mind. Even in worldly experience the man dies but his name is remembered for a long time. and with Suddha or Divine Bhava (feeling). viz. Nama and Nami are inseparable. Nama means Name (Name of God). There are four kinds of sound.6. Sankirtan is singing God's name with Bhava. Sankirtan Yoga By Sri Swami Sivananda Sankirtan is the Svarupa (essential nature) of God. They are not endowed with the keen intellect necessary for Jnana Yoga or Vedantic Sadhana. This is Sankirtan. 9. India. Vikshepa and Avarana. or find that some thing you possess is missing. To remove them they prescribe Nishkamya Karma . Madhyama (from the throat). etc.. It elevates the mind quickly and intensifies the Bhava or divine feeling to a maximum degree. There is infinite Sakti or power in the Lord's Names. You are kept waiting for a long time by some other person. you have won the struggle and achieved 50% self control. Raurkela. They do not have the strength of will to practice Hatha Yoga. Sound originates from the navel. 10. Sankirtan is accompanied by the play of musical sounds as the word 'San' precedes 'kirtan. You suffer a loss or bereavement. Nama is greater than the Nami. Sankirtan and Vedas are born from the same source. are remembered even today. Nami means 'that which is denoted by the Nama or Name'. Kalidasa. Sankirtan is the essence of the Vedas. Vedas also originates from the navel. Tulsidas. Swami Sivananda Issued by Chandrasekhar DLS branch. Pasyanti (from the heart) and Para (from the navel). quickest. Prem or divine feeling. 7. You are insulted or abused for no reason. People sit together and sing the names of the Lord with harmony and concord. cheapest and best way for attaining Godrealization in this age. 8. If none of these can disturb your peace of mind and you are indifferent to them. Vaikhari (vocal). They cannot maintain perfect lifelong Brahmacharya. Others fail in their duties towards you. The four Vedas originate from sound. God sends trials and troubles to strengthen your character: Greet them and test yourself. Nama is nothing but Chaitanya.' Sankirtan is an exact science. 1972. Valmiki. Dhvani is Sankirtan.
Maya is so powerful that she deludes you every moment. be good and do good (this is the essence of all scriptures). therefore. death. realize. nor to perform the Yajnas (sacrifices). Therefore sing the Names of the Lord always. the people of Kail Yuga will not be able to practice austerities. Narada went to Lord Brahma and said: "O Lord. know the Self and be free." Lord Brahma in His Supreme Compassion and Mercy gave this Maha Mantra by repeating which people of the Kali Yuga will attain Self-realization. Every moment she makes you feel that there is pleasure only in the sense-objects and nowhere else. meditate. Sankirtan removes the impurities of the mind (Mala). This Sankirtan alone can achieve all these together. There is no pleasure in these finite objects. May God bless you all with health.this world is full of the pains of birth. This is the great Mantra which is specially meant for the people of Kali Yuga (this modern age of destruction) . be kind and be compassionate. it steadies the mind and checks its tendency to vacillate (Vikshepa). Sankirtan will enable you to realize this Infinite here and now. This is the work of Maya. You can have Bliss in the Infinite alone. Let us. nor to pursue the path of Vedanta. enquire "Who am I ?". sing the Lord's Names. prosperity and Eternal Bliss. serve. Sankirtan will save you from Maya. from delusion.(selfless service). Swami Sivananda's rendition of the Maha Mantra Swami Sivananda II Pithukuli Murugadas' rendition of the Maha Mantra . . give. love. Upasana (worship) and Vedantic Nididhyasana (intellectual enquiry). Remember Janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhiduhkha-dosha. disease and misery. and ultimately it tears the veil of ignorance too (Avarana). Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. You mistake pain for pleasure. Therefore. Kindly have mercy on them and tell me some easy way by which they can attain God. Beware. and brings the Sadhaka (aspirant) face to face with God. old age. Yo Vai Bhuma Tat Sukham. peace. sing the Maha Mantra: Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. long life.
carriages. for minutes together. It has managed to squeeze in its body. Bhima. The archer hat to hit the bird by looking at its reflection in the water. Yudhishthira. the horses. A basin of water is placed on the ground. Nakula. Practice of Meditation A baby's eyes are riveted on a flower or a butterfly. The girl just does not hear. The earnest voice belongs to a boy who has been all along intently watching the struggle of a rat to wriggle out of the class room through a hole in the wall. a clay bird is kept rotating. "Did it enter?". "Concentration and Meditation". Drona: "O Yudhishthira. etc. yourself. What Does Swami Sivananda Teach? by Sri N. It keeps looking at the object with unwinking eyes. all the onlookers. still there is no response. Arjuna. the Pandavas.This article is a chapter from the book. the tree on which it is sitting and yourself also. What could be the reason. yourself." Drona: "What do you see. Nor is she deaf. the tables and chairs. In the dilapidated building of an elementary school. the garden. Attention. Arjuna. In this. thrice. Nakula?" Nakula: "I see the bird. Sahadeva?" Sahadeva: "I see the bird to be aimed at. her face is buried in the book. These are everyday examples of concentration.Ananthanarayanan. but there is no response. her eyes are glued to the lines. etc. The teacher explains something and then asks the children. etc. There is an instant response from the backmost bench: "Only the tail has not entered yet!". The call is repeated twice. yourself." . Dronacharya tests the power of concentration of his students. holy Master Sivananda presents a most beautiful scene to illustrate what is meant by concentration. though her ears are very much open." Drona: "What do you see. Perhaps the hole is blocked. the tree. Bhima. Bhima?" Bhima: "I see the bird. the class is on. concentration. then. Above." Drona: "What do you see. several cows. In his book. but its tail is still not gone in. for her not hearing? Her mind is immersed in a Sherlock Holmes or a Harold Robbins. eyes full of wonder. meditationthese are different degrees of the same process. the tree. I see the bird to be aimed at. It is fixing the mind on a single object or idea to the exclusion of everything else. what do you see?" Yudhishthira: "O Acharya (teacher). Sahadeva. the streamlet. A mother calls her teenage daughter to go and have lunch.
Service and charity expand the heart. Reading of profound scriptural texts like the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras (revealed texts of the Hindus) requires intense concentration. It should be followed by contemplation on what was read. Asanas and Pranayama (Yoga postures and breathing exercises) perfect the body. the picture of OM or the picture of one's lshta Devata (personal God). Then only the answer flashes forth. Only thus can he prevent the mind from wandering away from the object of concentration. The purified mind must be made to concentrate. A scientist has to concentrate on a problem. Kirtan (singing devotional songs) and other devotional practices purify the mind and make it more subtle. To start with. While meditating on a particular object or idea. concentration becomes easy if the object of concentration is concrete. meditate and meditate. "I am Infinity" and so on. the tick-tick sound of a clock. the star in the sky. There is nothing which cannot be achieved by concentration. For a novice. This is concrete meditation. becomes meditation. Meditation can be practised on any image of the Lord. man and the universe. Arjuna. what to speak of the problem of life which has baffled humanity since time immemorial? The Sadhak (aspirant) who wants God must meditate. Japa (repetition of the Lord’s Name). The aspirant should ignore these extraneous thoughts. It is full of darkness and the aspirant has to pierce this darkness with his purified mind. Prayer. on a given subject. Concentration. the aspirant will be able to visualise the form of the image even with closed eyes. various extraneous thoughts will try to enter the mind of the aspirant and interfere with his meditation." That is concentration. concentration can be practised on the flame of a candle. Meditation is nothing but protracted or sustained concentration. The aspirant is now fully equipped for the last lap of the journey. on the problem of the inexplicable triad of God. Concentration should be followed by meditation. to solve it. to bring out the answer. Concentration is mental focussing. The purified mind is the most dependable weapon in the armoury of the spiritual aspirant. Repeated meditation on a single idea will bring out a wealth of knowledge on that idea. Such reading itself is a mild form of meditation.Drona: "Now then. on a riddle. what do you see?" Arjuna: "O Revered Guru! I see nothing but the bird to be aimed at. Also. Likewise. the beginner should choose a pleasing object on which to concentrate. Arjuna's is the power of concentration. The Sadhak may concentrate with closed eyes on the space between is the eyebrows or on the tip of the nose. This should be followed by concentration on a suitable spiritual centre within the body. After some practice. concerted concentration on the problem of life. While concentration becomes essential even to solve small problems in science. be indifferent to them and repeatedly try to concentrate on the object of his meditation. when developed. The mind can be focussed on a concrete object or an abstract idea. It is the toughest part of the pilgrimage to God. Yoga is an exact science. He has to think. Gradually. the frequency of interruption will . think and think. meditation is intense concentration. Meditation can also be practised on abstract ideas and on various Vedantic formulae such as "I am Eternity".
is the ideal time for meditation.energy). It is important that the aspirant should be protected from the monotony of one-sided spiritual practice leading to reaction and a return to worldly activity with a vengeance. Only Yogis. Swamiji asks the Sadhak to meditate and bring put his own Gita and Upanishads. You are just returning from deep sleep When you enjoyed bliss without objects. The Raga-Dvesha (like-dislike) currents Have not yet started flowing in your mind. An aspirant churns his own soul. The senses and the mind must be withdrawn from the sense objects and the mind must be focussed on the God within. Once the body is perfected and the Nadis or astral tubes are purified through Pranayama practices. You can then easily convince the mind That real happiness is within. The outer Yoga practices are to prepare the aspirant to gain fitness to practise this inner Yoga. The beauty of divine life lies in the fact that the seriousness of meditation is tempered with the joy of Kirtan. . Bahiranga Sadhana is outer Yoga or spiritual practices designed to perfect the outer instruments of body and Prana (vital. the aspirant must sit down for meditation. Jnanis (wise man) and sages are awake at this time. Says the Master: "There is no knowledge without meditation. the great Rishis (sages) distinguish between Bahiranga Sadhana and Antaranga Sadhana. the peace of Japa and the understanding of Svadhyaya (reading of scriptures). Truth becomes manifest". especially of a beginner. You will be greatly benefited by their thought currents.be reduced and a time will come when meditation will give uninterrupted peace and bliss." It is not possible to meditate the whole day. Meditation confers peace and strength. Whenever the Sattvic (a state of calmness and purity) mood manifests and divine thought-currents begin to flow. This is inner Yoga. concentration and meditation. Never miss the Brahmamuhurtha even for a day. Why? He gives the answer: "There is Sattva in the atmosphere In Brahmamuhurtha. the mind. says the Master. It is necessary to guard against this possibility. Dharana and Dhyana-sense abstraction. Sivananda affirms that half an hour's meditation is sufficient to enable the aspirant to smilingly pass through a whole week's life in this world of problems and misery. Meditation is digging deep into the mine of truth and wisdom. Brahmamuhurtha (period between 4 am and 6 am). This includes Pratyahara. the happiness and strength of service. The atmosphere is calm And the world is asleep. Meditation must be regular. In the books of Yoga. the spiritual seeker attains fitness to start the inner Yoga or Antaranga Sadhana. will get tired . These are the ethical practices and the Yogasana and Pranayama exercises. Without variety.
It is He who thinks through the mind.Where the necessary preparation is inadequate or wanting. it is this Witnessing Consciousness which remembers the fact that the body and the mind rested in sound sleep. because even without one or more of these. sees through the eyes. Swami Sivananda suggests that the spiritual aspirant should practise Vichar also. The justification for this method of Vichara or enquiry is contained in the saying. Vichara sharpens the intellect and leads to the discernment of the Truth that lies behind the phenomenal universe. A person who wants to meditate must be free from disease and desire. "I enjoyed a sound dreamless sleep". The secret of spirituality lies in realising one's essential nature. "As you think. It leads him steadily to Truth. so you become". Constant identification with the Atman or the Witnessing Consciousness in oneself is a shortcut to spiritual success. he is not the body. and from like and dislike. He must be soaked in Vairagya (dispassion). because even during the unconscious and the deep sleep states. seeking to achieve the purpose of life". When a person gets up from deep sleep and says. meditation cannot succeed. a very powerful attack on ignorance. It cannot be otherwise. Swamiji repeatedly advises the spiritual seeker to identify himself with this Atman which is his real Self and not with his perishable body. He must be free from love and hatred. when the mind ceases to function. or falling into a semi. While meditation in itself constitutes. No. The enjoyer is the Atman. meditation will remain just a pipe dream. thinking the same worldly thoughts and building castles in the air. what is this 'I' in everybody? Swami Sivananda declares that the real 'I' is none. Enquiry opens the aspirant's eyes to new vistas of knowledge. The mind which was virtually dead during the deep sleep state could . Simply sitting cross-legged and closing the eyes. It is not as if man and God are separate and that man should go to a God who is external to him and merge in that God. It helps the aspirant to sift the true from the false. when these conditions are not satisfied. not itself have consciously enjoyed a sound slumber and remembered it. His breathing must be slow and even. the eyes or the ears. How should the aspirant reflect? The Master shows the way: "Who am I? What is Brahman (God)? What is this Samsara (process of worldly life)? What is the goal of life? How to attain the goal? How to attain freedom from births and deaths? What is the Svarupa of Moksha (Essential nature of liberation)? Whence? Where? Whither? Thus should the aspirant of liberation ever enquire. Nor is he the mind. It is not becoming something outside of oneself. His stomach must be free from constipation. Then. Truth cannot be known or realised. For instance. The aspirant who adopts this technique will soon rise above body consciousness. else than Brahman or the Atman who is the motive force behind all existence.sleep is not meditation. Vichara results in Viveka or discrimination between the real and the unreal. he can live and life can pulsate in his veins. he exists and his heart throbs. he will soon find that he cannot equate himself with any one of his sense organs like the nose. from cares and worries. hears through the ears and so on He is the Witnessing Consciousness who dwells in all beings. So. By constant reflection on the Reality behind the appearances. the seeker attains oneness with the Reality and becomes that Reality itself. eats through the mouth. He must be able to sit firmly for hours together in the same posture. if the aspirant starts the "Who am I?" enquiry. Vichar is enquiry into the real nature of things. God is already . free from gas and very light. Swamiji asserts that without cogitation.
Faith. Grant us inner spiritual strength To resist temptation and to control the mind. to concentrate and meditate on the God within. Free us from egoism. is itself destroyed in that fire. Later on. Initially.Consciousness-Bliss Absolute) prevails. hatred. All else is not. This appearance is made possible by the functioning of the mind. Let Thy Name be ever on our lips. Omnipotent and Omniscient. Fill our hearts with divine virtues. and in the process. Meditation and enquiry enable the aspirant to feel. Let us serve Thee in all these names and forms. Thou art the Indweller of all beings. and at the deepest point of meditation. Within us and outside of us. Let us ever remember Thee. Let us abide in Thee for ever and ever.there. the Sadhak realises his innermost Being. When divine wisdom dawns. The purified mind is like this twig. Man himself is God and the entirety of Sadhana (spiritual practices) is meant to enable man to realise his God-nature. anger and jealousy. destroyed there. Universal Prayer By Sri Swami Sivananda O Adorable Lord of Mercy and Love ! Salutations and prostrations unto Thee. Brahman and not a bundle of body and mind. . Yoga Sadhana purifies the mind. balanced mind. God-consciousness remains. Only Sat-ChitAnanda (Existence. to realise that he is. Thou art Omnipresent. lust. greed. devotion and wisdom. after all. to realise that the God he has been searching for is his own Self. Being remains. where the twig itself is ultimately consumed in the fire. All else is only appearance. It helps to kindle the fire of God-consciousness within. Equal vision. the seeker uses this purified mind. everywhere. And only God remains. Let us behold Thee in all these names and forms. God only is. Thou art Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute. And being is Brahman. the purified mind melts in the God within and is itself lost there. In Samadhi (superconscious state). The separate identity of the individual soul vanishes. Grant us an understanding heart. The body and the mind in which man is encased are mere illusions of an ignorant mind. Let us ever sing Thy glories. A telling analogy given in the Yoga texts is the dry twig used in kindling a fire. the mind melts in Brahman as camphor melts in fire.