Sunday, 12 March 2017

Pranayama and Mano-nasa

Upadesa Saar – verses 11 to 15

After talking about Karma Yoga and Bhakthi, Upasana Yogas in first 10 verses, Maharishi talks about a key step in Ashtanga yoga, also called Raja Yoga.  Ashtanga Yoga had been discussed in an earlier blog “Shadanga Yoga”.  Let me refer to it briefly.  Raja yoga consists of eight steps:
1)    Five “don’ts” under the name Yama
2)    Five “do’s” under the name Niyama
3)    Asana -  Steady physical posture
4)    Pranayama - Control of prana or life force
5)    Pratyahara -  Withdrawal of the senses
6)    Dharana  -  Concentration
7)    Dhyanam -   Meditation
8)    Samadhi – Total absorption in meditation.
Of  these 8 steps Maharishi highlights the fourth step, Pranayama and its role in control of mind that can lead to “Mano-nasa”,  merger of mind in the spiritual heart, which he outlined as the goal in the earlier verse, in the next five verses i.e. verse no. 11 to 15.

Verse no.11 reads as:
वायुरोधनाल्लीयते मनः | (Vaayurodhanaath leeyathe manah)
म् || (Jaala pakshivad rodhasaadhanam)
Through breath-control, the movement of the mind is contained, just as a bird is restrained when caught in a net. (This checks the thoughts of the wandering mind). 

Vayu means breadth and Rodhanam means regulation and together “Vayu Rodhanam” refers to Pranayama.  Maharishi says that Pranayama is one way of quietening the chattering mind. Breathing and mind are interconnected.  This can be verified  by observing the fast breathing when the mind is agitated, disturbed or excited and the steady and normal breathing when the mind is calm.  Maharishi compares arresting the thoughts of the wandering mind to the restraint imposed on the bird which is caught in a hunter’s net and cannot wander in the sky or on earth. In the next verse Maharshi goes on to explain the link between mind and Prana and how the control of one leads to the control of the other. 

Verse no. 12:
चित्तावायवाश्चित्क्रियायुताः | (Cittavaayavaas citkriyaayutaah)
यी शक्तिमूलका || (Saakhayor dvayee saktimulakaa)
Mind and Prana endowed with Jnana sakthi and Kriya sakthi respectively are the two branches of Prakrithi or Maya the divine power of Brahman (i.e. they emerge from one common source). 

In an earlier blog on “Panchikarana, process of creation”, a topic of Tattvaloka, we had seen that from Prakrithi, Maya sakthi of Saguna Brahman, Pancha bhuthas are born and that from their collective satva guna, that stands for faculty of knowledge, Jnana sakthi, mind is born and that from their collective rajo guna that stands for the power of action, Kriya sakthi, Prana is born.  Maharishi refers to this and says that Prana and mind are born out of the same subtle matter,Prakrithi, and so are inter-connected.  Maharishi says that since both are connected to each other, if you control one the other automatically gets controlled, as control of one leads to the control of the other. Of the two, mind is more difficult to control directly and so it is suggested one tries to control mind indirectly through Pranayama.  So through Pranayama one can control the breath & indirectly the mind also.  Control of the mind can be in two ways, Maharishi points out in the next verse.

Verse no, 13:
लयविनाशने उभयरोदाने | (Layavinasaane ubhayarodhane)
लयगतम् पुनर्भवती नो मृतम् ||  
 (Layagatam punarbhavati no mrtam)
Resolving and destruction of the mind are the two different types of control of the mind. Among these two, the temporarily resolved mind again rises up, but the destroyed mind never rises again as it is dead.

There are two ways by which mind can be resolved i.e. made thought-free:
1. Laya of mind or mano-laya– This is a temporary state of resolution or dissolution of the mind as it happens in the states of dreamless deep sleep, Pranayama, Samadhi state of Raja yoga, intoxication caused by drug or liquor
2. Vinasa of the mind or mano-nasa – Permanent state of removal which happens when the mind is merged in the spiritual heart and made thought-free for ever.  When one gains advaita jnanam through Atma vichara, one realizes the mithyatvam of mind and this knowledge of mithyatvam once gained and firmly established stays with one forever thereafter. So this state is termed permanent. 
A spiritual seeker strives for mano-nasa only and not for mano-laya.  How this can be achieved is discussed in the next verse.

Verse 14:
प्रानबन्धनात् लीनमानासम् | (Praana bandhanaath leena maanasam)
त् नाशमेत्यदः ||  (Eka chintanaath naasham etyada)
Mind that is temporarily resolved through Pranayama gets destroyed through Athma Vichara (by knowledge of the One non-dual ultimate Reality as Self or pure Consciousness)

Pranayama quietens the mind temporarily making it free of thoughts.  When one comes out of Pranayama, mind goes back to its extrovert state, running after external things, because it believes they are real and they are source of one’s happiness, peace and security.  It is ignorant of the knowledge of Self as One, non-dual Reality, Brahman, which is the only real source of one’s peace, happiness and security.  This Self-knowledge one gets through eka –chitthanam or Athma- vichara i.e. Self-enquiry.  When one is established in this Self-knowledge, one has the mano-mithyartva nischayatvam i.e conviction of the mithya nature of mind, and attains the state of mano-nasa.  While ignorant mind is the cause of samsara, an enlightened mind leads to Liberation or Moksha, as is said “Mana eva manushyanaam kaaranam bandha mokshayoh” (Mind alone is the cause for one’s bondage and Liberation).   Such a person who has achieved mano-nasa through Self-enquiry is a realized Yogi or Jnani and next verse spells out his state.  

Verse 15:
नष्टमानसोत्क्रुष्टयोगिनः | (Nashta maanasotkrishta yoginah)
कृत्यमस्ति किं स्वस्थितिम् यतः|| (Krityam asthi kim svasthithim yathah)
For that exalted Yogi, whose mind has been destroyed and who is always established in the Self, what action is to be performed ??? (No action needs to be performed for Self-fulfillment)

In this verse, Maharshi is explaining the state of a realized Yogi and the characteristics of such a Yogi.  The realized Yogi is one, whose mind has been destroyed and who is established in the Self. Such a Yogi is a Jeevanmuktha, who has attained Liberation and stays alive in the body to exhaust Prarabdha karma, which also does not affect him, as he knows he is not the body-mind complex.  He can be like Suka, the great BrahmaRishi, who left his home in childhood or like King Janaka who was staying in the palace and taking care of his kingdom; either way he acts out of fulfiiment and not for fulfilment.  Engaging in pravritti, activity or nivritti, withdrawl, due to the influence of residual prarabhdha, he works for lokasangraha (universal welfare) only, through seva or through silence or through both. His desires are non-binding and his actions are selfless ones arising out of a sense of fulfillment and a sense of love and compassion for all, with no sense of doership, karthrutvabhava.