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removing indriyas from material objects

Dr. Shamanthakamani Narendran

MD (Pead), Ph.D. (Yoga Science)


The process of abstraction or control of the
senses (pratyahara) consists in the subjugation
of these senses.
What the yogi seeks to do is to subjugate them
all so as to make them obedient to every call of
his mind.


Senses are drawn back or restrained from
performing their functions
It is the same process as that of a clever
charioteer who controls his horses whenever
He gives them free rein when necessary, but the
very moment that he thinks it is undesirable he
simply draws back the reins.
It is so simple with him because he knows how
to command them.

Or else without the art of control the same horses

which give him pleasure will become a sort of
burden to him.
Again, to handle the horses without the proper
knowledge of their control is not only a risk on the
part of the charioteer but is also a danger to the
passers-by on the road.
According to the Upanishads, the five senses are our
horses and the mind their charioteer.
It is essential therefore for the mind to learn to
control these senses whenever necessary.
Pratyahara is a state of mastery much higher than
mere control. It is a sort of voluntary abstraction at

According to the Sanskrit derivation prati + ahara
makes pratyahara.
Prati means back and ahara means to take in.
Literally, it means to take back the mind (from its
Restraining the senses from performing their
functions is the first step towards this practice.
Though the music is going on, let not the ears hear
it, though the flower is before him, let the nose not
sense its perfume.
When he does not want to be disturbed let not the
external objects make any impression on his senses.


Yoga believes that it is not the senses only that
In fact, it is the mind that sees, hears, etc.,
because the mind controls the different
functions of these senses.
When you move away the mind from the sense
of hearing, i.e., ears, and utilize it for attending
to the functions of the eyes as for eg. Internally
looking towards the sky, you naturally do not
hear the noises going round you.

And is it not he general impression of most of us

that, when we deeply follow the rhythmic flow of
some chanting music, even with out eyes wide
open, we often do not see the things that pass
before us? Why? Are not the senses present
They are, but the mind is not there.
It is the mind that helps us to see not merely the
The mind was taken away from the sense of
vision and was consequently concentrated on the
sense of hearing, and the results was that the eyes
failed to see.

The objects here is not to produce insensitivity

to external objects like in mesmerization or
anesthesia but to aim at directing the energy
towards the object of contemplation.
Thus the positive part of pratyahara leading to
dharana is trying to steady the mind on an
object after abstracting it from other objects.
Thus you voluntarily change the object of your


Etymologically the word yoni refers to the
ultimate Brahama or Brahma yoni.
This mudra is also known by the name of
sanmukhi mudra because it aims to see the
object face to face closing the avenue of the
senses thus keeping the organism away from
sense impressions.
It could be one of the best means for
interiorisation necessary for success in reaching
the highest stage in Yoga.

Shanmukhi Mudra

During the posture of padmasana or ardha

padmasana the palms of the hands are to be
placed over the face on the respective sides
while the fingers fill in the apertures.
Thus the thumbs will cover the ears, the index
finger will close the eyelids, the middle fingers
placed on the two sides of the nostrils, the ring
finger on the upper lip and the litter finger on
the lower lip.

After a few minutes a state of conditioned

internal equilibrium should be realized through
which should be allowed to distract the mental
state any more.
It is then that the mudra may be completed by
the speechless chanting of the mantra in
rhythm with the respiratory movements or by a
Two syllables are thus repeated: ham during
inspiration and retention sa during expiration.
The state of serenity experienced by the

j FJeseqveeCeeb
54. Sva-viaysamprayoge cittasyasvarpnukra ivendriym

We perceive an object when different kinds of

vibrations which emanate from it strike our
sense-organs and the mind is then joined to the
sense-organs thus activated.

Indriyas Tanmatras Citta Buddhi

(sensations) (mind) (perceorgans)

Prithvi (earth)
Jala (water)
Tejas (light)
Vayu (air)
Akasa (ether)

nose smell
tongue taste
skin touch




When we pass down a road vibrations from

hundreds of objects strike our eye but we notice
only a few, the rest not entering our
consciousness at all because of this lack of
contact between the mind and those vibrations.
For the practice of Raja Yoga the outer world
has to be shut out completely, when necessary,
in order that the Yogi may have his mind alone
to grapple with.

Mental images which are present and changing

constantly may be divided into the following 3
1. Ever-changing impressions produced by the
outer world through the vibrations impinging
upon the sense-organs.
2. Memories of past experiences floating in the
3. Mental images connected with anticipations
of the future. 2 and 3 are wholly mental, not
depending upon any objective reality outside the
mind while 1 are the direct result of contract with
the outer world.

The object of Pratyahara is to eliminate 1

completely from the mind, thus leaving only 2
and 3 which are then mastered through
Dharana and Dhyana.
Pratyahara interposes, as it were, a shutter
between the sense-organs and the mind and
isolates the latter completely from the external

This relation between the mind and the senses

has been likened very aptly to the relation
existing between the bees in a hive and the
queen bee.
The bees follow the queen in a body as it flies
from one place to another, and do not function
independently of the queen.
If Yama and Niyama have not been practised
sufficiently and all emotional disturbances
eliminated, if Asana and Pranayama have not
been mastered and the physical body brought
under complete control, then surely, the practice
of Pratyahara is bound to end in failure.

But if the whole of the Sadhakas life

conforms to the Yogic ideal and all his energies
are bent on achieving his ultimate goal then
success must come sooner or later.
In Pratyahara the abstraction is voluntary and
the mind has no object of attraction in the
external world.
Its field of activity is entirely within itself and
the external world is kept out by the sheer force
of will, as in Raja Yoga, or by the supreme
attractive power of an object of love within, as
in Bhakti Yoga.

55.lele Hejcee
JeMeleseqveeCeeced ~
55. Tata param vayatendriym.
Then follows the greatest mastery over
the senses.

It is interesting to note how the first five Angas

of Yoga eliminate one after another different
sources of disturbance to the mind and prepare
it for the final struggle with its own Vrttis.
First to be eliminated by Yama-Niyama are the
emotional disturbances due to moral defects in
ones nature.
Next to be eliminated by the practice of Asana
are the disturbances which arise in the physical

Then come the disturbances caused by the

irregular or insufficient flow of vital forces in
the Pranic sheath.
All these are removed completely by the
practice of Pranayama.
And lastly, through Pratyahara is removed the
major source of disturbances coming through
the sense-organs.
Thus is accomplished Bahiranga or external
Yoga and the Sadhaka becomes capable of
treading the further of Antaranga or internal

Pratyahara is the fifth among the Eight steps of
Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga.
In it, the consciousness, or more specifically,
the neural currents, are internalized, so that
sensations from the Indriyas, or the five senses
of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell don't
reach their respective centres in the brain, so
that the Saadhaka, or disciple, is free to
meditate without distractions.

The electrical currents in the nerves of even the

involuntary muscles are turned off by advanced
practitioners through superior willpower and
breath-control, or Pranayama.
Apart from Pranayama, one device to aid
Pratyahara is to concentrate on the point
between the eyebrows, or the third-eye, the
Agnya or Ajna Chakra.


o Local Pratyahara and Local Concentration.

o For the convenience of local Pratyahara and
concentration, the body is divided into seven

o The classification and division are anatomic,

physiologic, psychologic and biologic and
every zone is controlled by a cakra (neurohormonal mechanism).

The first is the neuro-hormonal mechanism

which controls, governs and regulates the male
and female generative organs.
In Yoga, this cakra is called muladhara
cakram (mula, first, main, chief; adhara,
foundation, support, substratum).
Through this path psychic energy is constantly
discharged by the subconscious mind.
Concentrate mental powers, withdraw the
whole energy from the reproductive organs,
and fix this energy to the lower part of susumna
(central nervous system).

I relax my reproductive organs. They are

relaxing. They are under my command.
Repeat it and feel that you have completely
controlled them.
This will give you mastery of sex control.
Anger, lust, and greed are controlled by
Pratyahara on this cakram.

The second is svadhisthana cakram.

Both legs are controlled, governed and
nourished by this neuro-hormonal mechanism.
It is the center of the lumbar region.
I relax my legs; they are relaxing; they are
growing heavy, very heavy, etc.
Repeat this formula three times. With proper
fixation and suggestion feel the sensations
taking place through suggestion.
The legs will be completely under your

They will be completely under your command.

They will be as cold as ice; the temperature will
be below freezing point, if you desire.
Also, they will be as hot as fire, if you wish.
They will be relaxed at your will.
You will be able to remove all pains, aches, and
diseases from your legs.
If your legs were cut, you would not feel any
Feel magnetic pulsation, magnetic circulation
and magnetic vibration in both legs.

After a few months practice you will note that

within a moment your legs respond as directed.
Thus, you will have conquered any hidden
diseases of your legs and they are completely
under your control.

The third cakram is manipura cakram.

It controls all abdominal organs.
Its center is in susumna (central nervous
system) above the lumbar region.
Send suggestions. First control diseases by
your powerful suggestions. Feel magnetic
current, magnetic pulsation and magnetic
vibrations in the abdomen.
Think that this magnetic current is removing all
abdominal diseases hidden or prowling, and
you will see that all the organs in your
abdomen are supernormal and perfect in health.

You will feel that your whole abdomen is full

of magnetic current and pulsation, and you will
feel a victorious enjoyment in all your organs
in the abdomen.

The fourth cakram is anahata cakram in the

Its center is in the central nervous system.
Relax your chest; when it is relaxed you will
feel that electricity is passing from the heart to
every part of the body.
Your whole body will be full of magnetic
current and pulsation.
Regulate your breathing for more rapid
Nobody can describe the power of this cakram.
Practice it and feel it.

The fifth cakram is visudha cakram. It is in

the neck.
Through it, both arms and the parts below and
above the neck are controlled.
The neck is the crossroad and vital center of
Start fixation and suggestion on the neck and
feel the sensations that are going on through
your practice.
When the neck is relaxed you will feel that it is
full of magnetic pulsation, current, and

Both arms will be as if completely

Heat, cold, pain, pressure, touch, temperature
are lost from the arms and now you can neither
move them nor use them.
They are completely paralyzed until you send
them other suggestions.
Practice it, feel it and enjoy it.

The sixth cakram is ajna cakram. This is the

center of individual consciousness.
Through Pratyahara, individual consciousness
is expanded into Universal Consciousness, and
the whole body is relaxed completely; the
whole body is full of mighty magnetic waves,
pulsation and vibration.
You will not feel any pain, even if the heart
were operated on and bones were removed
from your body.
Fix your power of attention between the two
eyebrows, which is the center of third eye, the
eye of wisdom.

Initiate suggestion to relax the whole body.

For this cakram you must occupy a firm seat.
Place your body in a suitable posture so that, in
the deepest state, you will not have an accident
and fall.
This cakram will give you mastery over the
whole body and you will join with supreme
No one can describe in human language this
superhuman enjoyment.
Concentrate on it, feel it, and enjoy it.

The seventh cakram is called sahasraram,

which is the ultimate controller of all cakras.
When the student reaches sahasraram, his
individual entity disappears forever.
In this state he obtains nirvanam, which has
eternal peace, eternal knowledge, eternal
Fix your power of attention on the whole
sirobrahman (cerebrum), begin suggestion
and feel the sensation that the whole body is
completely under your command.



o Fixation, suggestion, and feeling of sensations

are necessary for all Pratyahara.

o Magnetic pulsation, circulation, and vibration

are common to all Pratyahara.



o When the whole body goes into the state of

yoganidra, the state of magnetism, in a
moment, the state is called Pratyahara.
o This is the most advanced state and a student
obtains it when he is first perfect in local
o In other words, local Pratyahara ends in
general Pratyahara and general concentration.
o In the advanced state you do not need to
magnetize your limbs separately.

By a single order, the whole body becomes

Thus, the practice of general Pratyahara leads
to the state of Samadhi.
NOTE: If in the practice of local as well as of
general Pratyahara you are demagnetized,
magnetize yourself in the same way. This time
you will magnetize yourself sooner.

AaharXyaninymE> keicCDaIykmR[a.
invayRNte=iola raega> bla bRla Aip.
sanbhysata kecit prymena
kecana | hradhynaniyamai
kecicchastryakarma ||
nivryante'khil rog prabal durbal
api ||
Some illnesses are avoided through asana
practice, some through pranayama, some through
diet restrictions and meditation and some by
striya karma (rituals). All illnesses, whether

zarIrVyaixhanay zrIrmupyaejyet!,
mtclhanay a[ayam> kIitRt>.
arramupayojayet |
matacacalahnya pryma
prakrtita ||
The illness of the body can be reduced by the
right use of the body itself, while agitation of the
mind can be reduced through pranayama.
(Kaldhyya, loka 31)

kpalkhre ija ivZqa ivprItga,

uvaer<tgRta muRa vtI oecrI.32.
kaplakhare jihv pravi vipartag |
bhuvorantargat darmudr bhavat
khecar ||32||
Khechari mudra is turning the tongue
backwards into the cavity of the cranium
and turning the eyes inwards towards the
eyebrow center. (III.32)