Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dhyana Yoga – Preparation and process

Gita essays – 9

Dhyanam means meditation.  In advaita Vedanta, meditation is prescribed not for liberation, nor for gaining knowledge but for assimilation or internalisation of knowledge already acquired.  For as per advaita Vedanta, Athma being identical with Brahman is not bound and always stand liberated.  One through Athma Jnanam comes to know of this fact and feels liberated.  Only this gaining of knowledge of unbound nature of Self is termed liberation.  Further meditation is not listed as one of the six pramanams, means of knowledge. So Vedantic meditation, called Nitidyasanam, is practised to let this knowledge sink into the subconscious neutralising the habitual vasanas so that one will get established in the advaitic jnanam all the time. Therefore Lord Krishna introduces the topic of practice of Dhyanam, after talking about Jnanam with these verses, 5-27&28.
स्पर्शान्कृत्वा बहिर्बाह्यांश्चक्षुश्चैवान्तरे भ्रुवोः। (Sparsaan kritwaa bahir baahyaamschakshus chaivaantare bhruvoh)
प्राणापानौ समौ कृत्वा नासाभ्यन्तरचारिणौ।।5.27।।(Praanaapaanau samau kritwaa naasaabhyantara chaarinau)
यतेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिर्मुनिर्मोक्षपरायणः। (Yatendriya manobuddhir munir mokshaparaayanah)
विगतेच्छाभयक्रोधो यः सदा मुक्त एव सः।।5.28।। (Vigatecchaabhaya krodho yah sadaa mukta eva sah)
Shutting out all the external sense-objects, fixing the gaze between the eye-brows, regulating the outgoing and incoming breaths that move through the nostrils, the senses, mind and intellect controlled, freed from desire, fear and anger, and with Liberation as the supreme goal, one who meditates is verily liberated forever.

In these two verses Lord Krishna has given a comprehensive pre-view of meditation that He will discuss in the next Chapter.  Lord gives a scheme of practice of meditation by which one can gain a complete integration in himself.  When we shut out external objects - not physically- but through discreet intellectual detachment at the mental plane, we shall discover in ourselves the necessary tranquillity for engaging in meditation.  Then the gaze should be fixed in between the eye brows so that the eye balls remain steady. This is followed by rhythmical breathing which makes the mind quiet and perfect harmony is developed in the system. These instructions relate to physical adjustments.

The instructions relating to mental and intellectual adjustments are then given. The seeker is asked to be free from desire, fear and anger, to attain perfect peace of mind. When the senses, mind and intellect are subjugated by dedicating all his outer and inner activities to achieve the goal of realizing the Self, he attains liberation. The mind gets restless because of the agitations caused by desire, fear and anger. When it is desireless, it proceeds towards the Self spontaneously and Liberation becomes one's highest goal. When an individual follows these steps he can remain in the contemplation of Brahman without any distractions. Such a man of meditation comes to experience the freedom of the Brahman before long. 

The question as to what a person of balanced mind has to know and on what to meditate upon in Dhyana Yoga is discussed in the next verse no. 29, which is the last verse of this chapter where Lord says, “He who knows Me as the receiver of all rituals and austerities and as the supreme Lord of all the worlds and the friend of all beings, attains peace.   The word `Me' does not mean Lord Krishna in the bodily figure but indicates Iswara whose Avatar is Lord Krishna.  This He clarifies through the qualifications “receiver of all rituals and austerities”, and “supreme Lord of all the worlds”.  If one is not exposed to vedantic teaching then the meditator can meditate on any form of Saguna Iswara, as one’s Ishta Devata.

The instructions relating to physical, mental and intellectual adjustments are further elaborated in Chapter 6 starting from verse 10 which states:
योगी युञ्जीत सततमात्मानं रहसि स्थितः।(Yogee yunjeeta satatamaatmaanam rahasi sthitah)
एकाकी यतचित्तात्मा निराशीरपरिग्रहः।। (Ekaakee yatachittaatmaa niraasheeraparigrahah)
A Yogi should always try to concentrate his mind in meditation, remaining alone in solitude, with the mind and body controlled,   without any desires and without any possessions.
One need not retire to a cave or a jungle to practice meditation but one should try to withdraw oneself mentally and physically from the normal preoccupations and can retire to a secluded spot in one's own home itself for practicing meditation. This helps keep off all external distractions. He must not be excited, or agitated. There should be no restlessness or turbulence of mind which should be kept free of desires and longing for possessions. The effort should be constant and not pursued in fits and starts.  In the words of Dr. Radhakrishnan “A continuous creative effort is necessary for developing the higher and intenser form of consciousness”. 

Lord goes on to describe the place and the seat. The place must be clean as an untidy and dirty place itself serves as a cause for mental disturbance.  The seat must not be too high or too low as a high seat induces a sense of insecurity and a low seat may cause body-pain.   A three layer seat is prescribed, with Kush grass, deer kin and a piece of cloth constituting the three layers.  Besides being firm and soft, this seat offers protection against cold, heat and dampness.  Lord then goes on to describe the posture conducive to gain and retain concentration.  The meditator should keep the head; neck and the spinal column vertical to the horizontal seat so that the vertebral column is completely erect and he should be seated relaxed without moving the body in any direction. He should not look around but his gaze should be turned and kept in the direction of the tip of the nose.  

After talking about external disciplines concerning body i.e. place, time, seat, and posture, Lord proceeds to expound the internal disciplines dealing with mind and intellect.  He should have inner peace that comes with firm fixation of mind in the present, with no regrets for the past and no anxiety for the future. He should observe steadfastly Brahmacharya, which means not only celibacy but also self-control in all fields of sense-stimulations and sense-gratifications.  Further through celibacy the conservation and transformation of the vital fluid into spiritual energy adds to the power of concentration.  He should also eschew fear from his mind as he has nothing to fear his Real Self being Athma, the Brahman.  Keeping the mind under control free of external wanderings, it should be kept focused upon the Divine seeking nothing but the Supreme. The mind becomes still but not vacant for it is fixed on the Supreme which is a state called Ishvara Pranidhana . In his daily routine, be it eating, sleeping or recreation, he is to practice moderation avoiding extremes of abstinence or indulgence.  Such a meditator should keep his mind steady in concentration like a steady flame in windless place.  This ultimately leads to the vision of Lord in all creatures and to the incomparable bliss of Athma that is Brahman.