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Re: dhyAna - 1

From: Anand K Karalapakkam (anand_at_engr.uconn.edu)
Date: Sun Aug 30 1998 - 23:11:03 PDT

                                  Sri :
             Srimate  Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha Para Brahmane Namaha
             Srimate Sri Lakshmi - Nrusimha Divya PAdukA Sevaka - 
         Srivan  Shatagopa  Sri NArAyana Yateendra MahAdesikAya Namaha      

     Dear devotees,
     Namo NArAyanA . pranAmams.

On Fri, 28 Aug 1998, Mani Varadarajan wrote:

> A correspondent wrote to me:
>    This is with respect to your post on how to concentrate. As you have
>    rightly pointed out, the mind just would not stay still, would it?

>    I went through so many responses and was quite amazed to find
>    references to:
>    1. Sri Ramakrishna
>    2. Sri Sankaracharya
>    3. Sri Ramana
>    and their teachings/notes on dhyAna. Moreover the commonality among
>    them is that all are advaitins propagating the ashtanga yoga process
>    for self-realization. (References to pranayama techniques, etc.)
> 
>    Why is that Sri Vaishnavas have to refer to all these saints for
>    successfully situating themselves in dhyAna? Are there no references
>    in Swami Desikan's literature on this subject matter?
-------------------------------------------
     Well Well !! A good question . Before getting into the references
     to "mAyAvAdIs" by some members , lets discuss about some of
     the terms that has been used in the question for which adiyen feels
     that more clarification is needed .

       " ashtAnga yogA "  &  "self-realization"

      ashtAnga yogA : This is the yogic process that is used for 
        performing "bhakti yogA" ie. upAsanAs prescribed in upanishads.
        "Bhakti yogA" is the meditation on the kalyAna gunAs ,
        divyamangaLa vigrahA etc of Sriman nArAyaNA with  "unsurpassed
        love ". "Bhakti" referred here is the  _continuous stream of 
        knowledge_ which is of the nature of _uninterrupted memory_ 
        and which is unbroken like the flow of a stream of oil. This
        description is not be taken lightly . The intensity of the 
        uninterrupted nature of contemplation on Sriman nArAyaNA is the 
        central focus of ashtAnga yogA.  

        The  seven general pre requisites for Bhakti YogA are 
        1. VivekA (discrimination) : Purification of body through proper
           intake of sAttvik food etc .

        2. VimOkA (freedom) : abjuration of all desires other than to 
           meditate on Sriman nArAyaNA .

        3. abhyAsA (practise) : Practise worshiping the Lord with full
           enthusiasm (again & again ).This involves strict adherence to 
           scriptures etc .
 
        4. kriyA (work) : proper adherence to the VarnAshrama dharmA
           mainly dealing with the pancha mahA yaj~nAs ( this makes 
           only the dvijAs to be fit for starting "Bhakti yogA" ).

        5. kalyANA (auspiciousness ) : practise of virtues like
           truthfulness , integrity , compassion , benevolence,ahimsA etc.
        
        6. anavasAda : being without any despair due to dissappointment ,
           completely forgetting all past sorrows .

        7. anuddharSa : absence of exaltation ie. being in a state which
           is the optimal midway between excessive joy & the absence of
           it. 
                                    
        The severe practise of karma & jn~Ana yogA can only bringforth
        the stage for performing bhakti yogA . Jn~na yogA is the
        "self-realization" ("self" stands for jIvAtmA ) , whereas "bhakti
        yogA" is  "God-realization" . So , "ashtAnga yogA" is performed
        for God-realization  ie. for obtaining moksham ,which is the
        uninterrupted bhagavad anubhavam & kainkaryam at the spiritual
        abode called Sri VaikuNTham .

    Jn~Ani is a person who performs Bhakti YogA (God realization) & not
    jn~Ana yogA. Kr*snA clearly explains these things in Bhagavad GItA.
    The person performing Jn~Ana YogA (self-realization) is known as
    kevalA . Jn~Ana YogA is the constant meditation of the self ie.
    jIvAtmA . It results in Atma sAkshAtkAram ie. self-realization. 

                It is however important to note that a kevalA is fully
 aware of his swaroopa of being subservient to Sriman NArAyanA . But a
 kevalA is neverthless firmly attracted by the bliss derived in the
 meditation of his own self (with the understanding as servant of
 nArAyaNA) & is unable to come over it & proceed further to meditate on
 ParamAtmA Sriman NArAyanA . A kevalA's position is very much 
 understandable since many a people in  this world cannot overcome even
 watching TV,cinemAs, sports  etc which  only have dry hapiness (fully
 material; not spiritual ). The bliss derived  from the contemplation 
 of the "self" (jIvAtmA)  would certainly be attracting a kevalA like a
magnet. He attains "KaivalyA" wherein he attains the state in which he
simply  meditates on his own  self (fully self-realized state ) .From
there he can continue further to perform bhakti yogA .

     After perfecting karma & jn~Ana yogAs  one will start performing 
     "bhakti yogA" (since karma yogA by itself is integrated with jn~Ana
     yogA , bhakti yogA can be started after its perfection also ).

     The perfection of bhakti yogA is through ashtAnga yogA which has 8
     parts : 
     1. yama : self control & practise of virtues like ahimsA,
        non-covetousness , non acceptance of gifts etc .

     2. niyama : practise of purity in thought , word & deed.

     3. Asana : adoption of proper  posture & seat .

     4. prAnAyAma : Control & regulation of breath alongwith the
        meaning of the mantrA like ashtAksharam . 

     5. pratyahAra : Withdrawl of mind & other senses from their out going
        tendencies .

     6. dhAranA : fixing of the mind towards Sriman nArAyaNA. Depending
        upon the type of upAsanA (out of 32 Brahma vidyAs prescribed in
        upanishads) one chooses , the contemplation on nArAyaNA will   
        vary .

     7. dhyAnA : Continuous meditation on the divya mangaLa vigrahA
        ,kalyAna gunAs etc of nArAyaNA to the exclusion of all other
        objects . This is the stage that was explained earlier. One must
        be almost sinless to attain this stage of having excessive love
        towards Sriman nArAyaNA which is the driving force for dhyAnA.
      
     8. samAdhi : Final stage of concentration when the yogi attains the 
        super-conscious state of divine life & becomes united with Sriman
        nArAyaNA . There is "unity" & not "identity" . When the dhyAnA
        ceases , this communion (ie. unity) with nArAyaNA also ceases. In
        other words , eternal communion is not possible as long as the
        jIvAtmA has connection with prakruti . The culmination of samAdhi
        is the attainment of liberation (mokshA) & eternal union at Sri
        VaikuNTham . 

        Obviously this process is out of question in this age . Likes of
        vashistar , vyAsar , sukar , jada bharadar , Bheeshmar  ,
        nAthamunigaL are the capable persons for performing such
        contemplation with deep & unsurpassed love towards Sriman nArAyaNA.
        
        In todays scenario , Srimad RangapriyA swAmi , the AchAryA
        of our dear Sri Mani alias VAchaspati , performs upAsanA
        (ie. ashtAnga yogA) in the light of sAdhya bhakti & not sAdhanA
        bhakti . In other words , this swAmi also is a prapannA following
        the path of prapatti ( reason may be that through prapatti ,
        moksham can be obtained after this life time , whereas through
        ashtAnga yogA , one cannot be sure of the number of future births 
        that needs to be taken ). 
        
        Devotion in the form of nAma sankeertanam , Bhagavad ArAdhanam,
        Listening to His avatAra leelAs etc aids one to have steady 
        rememberance of Sriman nArAyaNA . They by themselves doesn't 
        constitute "bhakti yogA" . Rather they are some ways of
        expressing one's bhakti & develops the "love" for nArAyaNA ,
        thereby aiding the process of ashtAnga yogA .

        During bhakti yogA , the yogI will at first encounter the stage
        called "Para bhakti" wherein his mind ,thought & all sense organs
        are completly focussed on Sriman nArAyaNA. He does only worship of
        nArAyaNA & meditation on Him & these are the only things that
        sustain him. After severe practise of the ashtAnga yogic process , 
        the yogi passes onto the next stage called "para jn~AnA" wherein
        the thirst for the direct vision of Sriman nARAyaNA becomes highly
        intense . Sriman nARAyaNA being pleased with his devotion might
        give His vision for a while & suddenly disappear . This results
        into much more intense love & the yogI is mad after communion with
        nArAyaNA . He cannot bear the separation even for a second & is 
        literally pleading Sriman nArAyaNA constantly for the arrival of
        the eternal union with Him. At right time , he attains the
        God-realization & enjoys the divine company of nitya soorIs & 
        muktAs at Sri VaikuNTham in serving Sriman nARAyaNA
        uninterruptedly .

        
        So , ashtAnga yogA as such is a very sacred process & nothing to 
        feel bad about it . The greatest enemy for a baddha jIvAtmA is his
        own material body . So , for his contemplation on nArAyaNA to be
        fruitful , he needs to control his senses & body and gradually
        regulate them . In this context arises the strict adherence to
        Do's & Dont's  prescribed by sAstrAs . PrAnAyAmam is a very vital
        way of controlling the influence of prakruti on jIvAtmA. It is
        infact an angA of bhakti yogA & helps in a great way to increase
        one's steady nature of contemplation on nArAyaNA , by subsiding
        the effects of the material body .

     This is what ashtAnga yogA is, the fruit of which is God-realization.
  
   --- to be cont --

   Namo NArAyanA
   adiyen
   anantha PadmanAbha dAsan  
                      Sarvam  Sri KrishnArpanamastu