Important Qualifications Of A Kundalini Sadhaka
When the whole vitality is sapped from the body one cannot do any rigid Sadhana. Youth is the best period for Yoga Abhyasa. This is the first and the foremost qualification of a Sadhaka; there must be vigour and vitality.
One who has a calm mind, who has faith in the words of his Guru and Sastras, who is moderate in eating and sleeping and who has the intense longing for deliverance from the Samsara-Chakra is a qualified person for the practice of Yoga.
“Ahamkaram balam darpam kamam krodham parigraham; Vimuchya nirmamah santo brahmabhuyaya kalpate –
Having cast aside egoism, violence, arrogance, desire, wrath, covetousness, selfless and peaceful—he is fit to become ETERNAL.”
Those who are addicted to sensual pleasures or those who are arrogant and proud, dishonest, untruthful, diplomatic, cunning and treacherous and who disrespect the Guru, Sadhus and elders and take pleasure in vain controversies and worldly actions, can never attain success in Yogic practices.
Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, and all other impurities should be completely annihilated. One cannot become pure and perfect when one has so many impure qualities.
Sadhakas should develop the following virtuous qualities:
Straightforwardness, service to Guru, the sick and old persons, Ahimsa, Brahmacharya, spontaneous generosity, Titiksha, Sama Drishti, Samata, spirit of service, selflessness, tolerance, Mitahara, humility, honesty and other virtues to an enormous degree. Aspirants will not at all be benefited in any way in the absence of these virtues even if they exert much to awaken the Kundalini through Yogic exercises.
Aspirants should freely open their hearts to their Guru. They must be frank and candid. They should give up the self-assertive, Rajasic vehemence, vanity and arrogance, and carry out their master’s instructions with Sraddha and Prem. Constant self-justification is a dangerous habit for a Sadhaka.
Energy is wasted in too much talking, unnecessary worry and vain fear. Gossiping and tall-talk should be given up entirely. A real Sadhaka is a man of few words, to the point and that too on spiritual matters only. Sadhakas should always remain alone. Mouna is a great desideratum. Mixing with householders is highly dangerous for a Sadhaka. The company of a householder is far more injurious than the company of a woman. Mind has the power to imitate.
A Sadhaka should observe perfect discipline. He must be civil, polite, courteous, gentle, noble and gracious in his behaviour. He must have perseverance, adamantine will, asinine patience and leech-like tenacity in Sadhana. He must be perfectly self-controlled, pure and devoted to the Guru.
A glutton or one who is a slave of his senses with several bad habits, is unfit for the spiritual path.
“Mitaharam vina yastu yogarambham tu karayet; Nanarogo bhavettasya kinchit yogo na siddhyati
“Without observing moderation of diet, if one takes to the Yogic practices, he cannot obtain any benefit but gets various diseases” (Ghe. Sam. V-16).
Food plays a prominent place in Yoga-Sadhana. An aspirant should be very careful in the selection of articles of Sattvic nature especially in the beginning of his Sadhana period. Later on when Siddhi is attained, drastic dietetic restrictions can be removed.
Purity of food leads to purity of mind. Sattvic food helps meditation. The discipline of food is very very necessary for Yogic Sadhana. If the tongue is controlled, all the other Indriyas are controlled.
“Ahara-suddhau sattva-suddhih, sattva-suddhau dhruva smritih; Smriti-lambhe sarva-granthinam viprarnokshah—By the purity of food follows the purification of the inner nature, by the purification of the nature, memory becomes firm and on strengthening the memory, follows the loosening of all ties and the wise get Moksha thereby.”
I will give you a list of Sattvic articles for a Sadhaka. Milk, red rice, barley, wheat, Havishannam, Charu,cream, cheese, butter, green dal (Moong dal), Badam (almonds), Misri (sugar-candy), Kismis (raisins),Kichidi, Pancha Shakha vegetables (Seendil, Chakravarty, Ponnan-gani, Chirukeerai and Vellaicharnai), Lowkivegetable, plantain-stem, Parwal, Bhindi (lady’s finger), pomegranates, sweet oranges, grapes, apples, bananas, mangoes, dates, honey, dried ginger, black pepper, etc., are the Sattvic articles of diet prescribed for the Yoga Abhyasis.
Charu: Boil half a seer of milk along with some boiled rice, ghee and sugar. This is an excellent food for Yogins. This is for the day-time. For the night, half a seer of milk will do.
Milk should not be too much boiled. It should be removed from the fire as soon as the boiling point is reached. Too much boiling destroys the nutritious principles and vitamins and renders it quite useless. This is an ideal food for Sadhakas. Milk is a perfect food by itself.
A fruit diet exercises a benign influence on the constitution. This is a natural form of diet. Fruits are very great energy-producers. Fruits and milk diet help concentration and easy mental focussing. Barley, wheat, milk and ghee promote longevity and increase power and strength. Fruit-juice and the water wherein sugar-candy is dissolved, are very good beverages. Butter mixed with sugar-candy, and almonds soaked in water can be taken. These will cool the system.
Sour, hot, pungent and bitter preparations, salt, mustard, asafoetida, chillies, tamarind, sour curd, chutnee, meat, eggs, fish, garlic, onions, alcoholic liquors, acidic things, stale food, overripe or unripe fruits, and other articles that disagree with your system should be avoided entirely.
Rajasic food distracts the mind. It excites passion. Give up salt. It excites passion and emotion. Giving up of salt helps in controlling the tongue and thereby the mind and in developing will-power also. Snake-bite and scorpion-stings will have no influence on a man who has given up salt. Onions and garlic are worse than meat.
Live a natural life. Take simple food that is agreeable. You should have your own menu to suit your constitution. You are yourself the best judge to select a Sattvic diet.
The proficient in Yoga should abandon articles of food detrimental to the practice of Yoga. During intense Sadhana, milk (and ghee also) is ordained.
I have given above several articles of Sattvic nature. That does not mean that you should take all. You will have to select a few things that are easily available and suitable to you. Milk is the best food for Yogins. But even a small quantity of milk is harmful for some and may not agree with all constitutions. If one form of diet is not suitable or if you feel constipated, change the diet and try some other Sattvic articles. This is Yukti.
In the matter of food and drinks you should be a master. You should not have the least craving or sense-hankering for any particular food. You must not become a slave to any particular object.
Heavy food leads to Tamasic state and induces sleep only. There is a general misapprehension that a large quantity of food is necessary for health and strength. Much depends upon the power of assimilation and absorption. Generally, in the vast majority of cases, most of the food passes away undigested along with faeces. Take half stomachful of wholesome food. Fill a quarter with pure water. Leave the rest free. This is Mitahara. Mitahara plays a vital part in keeping up perfect health. Almost all diseases are due to irregularity of meals, overeating and unwholesome food. Eating all things at all times like a monkey is highly dangerous. Such a man can become a Rogi (sick man) easily; but he can never become a Yogi. Hear the emphatic declaration of Lord Krishna: “Success in Yoga is not for him who eats too much or too little; nor for him who sleeps too much or too little (Gita VI-16). Again in the Sloka 18 of the same chapter, He says: “To him who is temperate in eating and in sleep and wakefulness, Yoga becomes a destroyer of misery.”
A glutton cannot at the very outset have diet regulations and observe Mitahara. He must gradually practise this. First let him take less quantity twice as usual. Then instead of the usual heavy night meals, let him take fruits and milk alone for some days. In due course of time he can completely avoid the night meals and try to take fruits and milk in the daytime. Those who do intense Sadhana must take milk alone. It is a perfect food by itself. If necessary they can take some easily digestible fruits. A glutton, if he all on a sudden takes to fruit or milk diet, will desire at every moment to eat something or other. That is bad. Once again I reiterate, gradual practice is necessary.
Do not fast much. It will produce weakness in you. Occasional fasting once a month or when passion troubles you much, will suffice. During fasting you should not even think of the various articles of food. Constant thinking of the food when you fast cannot bring you the desired result. During fasting, avoid company. Live alone. Utilise your time in Yogic Sadhana. After a fast do not take any heavy food. Milk or some fruit-juice is beneficial.
Do not make much fuss about your diet. You need not advertise to everyone if you are able to pull on with a particular form of diet. The observance of such Niyamas is for your advancement in the spiritual path and you will not be spiritually benefited by giving publicity to your Sadhana. There are many nowadays who make it a profession to earn money and their livelihood by performing some Asana, Pranayama or by having some diet regulation such as eating only raw articles or leaves or roots. They cannot have any spiritual growth. The goal of life is Self-realisation. Sadhakas should keep the goal always in view and do intense Sadhana with the prescribed methods.
The Place For Yoga Sadhana
Sadhana should be done in a secluded place. There should be no interruption by anyone. When you live in a house, a well-ventilated room should be reserved for Sadhana purposes. Do not allow anybody to enter the room. Keep it under lock and key. Do not allow even your wife, children or intimate friends to enter the room. It should be kept pure and holy. It should be free from mosquitoes, flies and lice and absolutely free from dampness. Do not keep too many things in the room. They will distract you every now and then. No surrounding noise also should disturb you. The room should not be too big as the eyes will begin to wander.
Places of cool or temperate climate are required for Yoga Abhyasa as you will get easily exhausted in hot place. You must select such a place where you can comfortably stay all through the year in winter, summer and rainy season. You must stick to one place throughout Sadhana period. Select a beautiful and pleasant spot where there is no disturbance, on the banks of a river, lake or sea or top of a hill where there is a nice spring and grove of trees and where milk and articles of food are easily procurable. You should select such a place where there are some other Yogic practitioners. When you see others who are devoted to Yogic practices you will diligently apply yourself to your practices. You can consult them in times of difficulties. Do not wander here and there in search of a place where you will get all conveniences. Do not change your place very often when you find some inconvenience. You must put up with it. Every place has some advantage and disadvantage. Find out a place where you have many advantages and a few disadvantages.
The following places are best suited. They are admirably adapted. Scenery is charming and spiritual vibrations are marvellous and elevating. There are several Kutirs (huts) to live in for real Abhyasis, or you can construct your own hut. Milk and other rations are available in all the places from the neighbouring villages. Any solitary village on the banks of Ganga, Narmada, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri is suitable. I will tell you some important places for meditation.
Kulu Valley, Champa Valley and Srinagar in Kashmir; Banrughi Guha near Tehri; Brahmavarta near Kanpur; Joshi (Prayag) in Allahabad; Canary Caves near Bombay; Mussoorie; Mt. Abu; Nainital; Brindavan; Banares; Puri; Uttara Brindavan (14 miles from Almora); Hardwar, Rishikesh (N.Rly.); Lakshmanjhula (*3), Brahmapuri Forest (*4), Ram Guha in Brahmapuri Forest, Garuda Chatty (*4), Neelkant (*8), Vasishtha Guha (*14), Uttarkashi; Deva Prayag; Badrinarayan; Gangotri, Nasik and Nandi Hills in Mysore. (* Distance in miles from Rishikesh)
If you build a Kutir in a crowded place, people out of curiosity will disturb you. You will have no spiritual vibrations there. There will be a lot of other disturbances also. Again you will be without any protection if you construct your Kutir in a thick forest. Thieves and wild animals will trouble you. The question of food will arise. You must consider all these points well before you select a place for your Sadhana. If you cannot go in for such places, convert a solitary room into a forest.
Your Asana (seat) for the Yogic practices should not be too high or too low. Spread a seat of Kusha grass, tiger-skin or deer-skin and then sit. Burn incense daily in the room. In the initial period of your Sadhana you must be very particular about all these. When you have sufficiently advanced in your practice, then you need not lay much stress on such rules.
It is stated in Gheranda Samhita that Yogic practices should not be commenced in winter, summer and rainy seasons, but only in spring and autumn. This depends upon the temperature of the particular place and the strength of the individual. Generally cool hours are best suited. In hot places you should not practise during the day. Early morning hours are suitable for Yogic practices. You should completely avoid Yoga Abhyasa in summer in those places where the temperature is hot even in winter. If you live in cool places like Kodaikanal, Ooty, Kashmir, Badrinarayan, Gangotri, etc., you can practise even during the day.
As instructed in the previous lessons you should not practise when the stomach is loaded. Generally Yogic practices should be done only after a bath. A bath is not beneficial immediately after the practices. You should not sit for Yogic practices when your mind is restless or when you are worried much.
Young boys under 18 years of age whose bodies are very tender should not have too much practice. They have a very tender body which cannot stand the exertion of Yogic exercises. Further, a youth’s mind will be wandering and unsettled and so, in youth one cannot concentrate well, whereas, Yogic exercises require intense and deep concentration. In old age when all vitality is sapped by unnecessary worry, anxieties, troubles and other worldly Vyavaharas, one cannot do any spiritual practice. Yoga requires full vitality, energy, power and strength. Therefore the best period for Yoga Abhyasa is from 20 to 40 years of age. Those who are strong and healthy can take to Yogic practices even after 50.
Necessity For A Yogic Guru
In olden days the aspirants were required to live with the Guru for a number of years, so that the Guru could study the students thoroughly. The food during practice, what to practise and how, whether the students are qualified for the path of Yoga, and the temperament of the aspirants and other important items have to be considered and judged by the Guru. It is the Guru that should decide whether the aspirants are of Uttamai, Madhyama or Adhama type and fix different kinds of exercises. Sadhana differs according to the nature, capacity and qualifications of the aspirants. After understanding the theory of Yoga, you will have to learn the practice from an experienced Yogic Guru. So long as there is the world, there are books on Yoga and teachers also. You will have to search for them with Sraddha, faith, devotion and earnestness. You can get easy lessons from the Guru and practise them at home also in the initial stages of practice. When you advance a bit, for advanced and difficult exercises you will have to stay with the Guru. The personal contact with the Guru has manifold advantages. You will be highly benefited by the spiritual magnetic aura of your Guru. For the practice of Bhakti Yoga and Vedanta you do not require a Guru by your side. After learning the Srutis for sometime from a Guru, you will have to reflect and meditate alone, in entire seclusion, whereas in Kundalini Yoga you will have to break up the Granthis and take the Kundalini from Chakra to Chakra. These are all difficult processes. The method of uniting the Apana and Prana and sending it along the Sushumna and breaking the Granthis need the help of a Guru. You will have to sit at the Guru’s feet for a pretty long time. You will have to understand thoroughly the location of the Nadis, Chakras and the detailed technique of the several Yogic Kriyas.
Lay bare to your Guru the secrets of your heart and the more you do so, the greater the sympathy and help you get from your Guru. This sympathy means accession of strength to you in the straggle against sin and temptation.
“Learn thou this by discipleship, by investigation and by service. The wise, the seers of the Essence of things will instruct thee in wisdom”. (Gita-IV-34)
Some do meditation for some years independently. Later on they feel actually the necessity for a Guru. They come across some obstacles in the way. They do not know how to proceed further and to obviate these impediments or stumbling blocks. Then they begin to search for a master. A stranger in a big city finds it difficult to go back to his residence in a small avenue though he has walked in the way half a dozen times. When difficulty arises even in the case of finding out the way through streets and roads how much more difficult it should be in the path of spirituality when one walks alone with closed eyes!
The aspirant gets obstacles or impediments, dangers, snares and pitfalls on the spiritual path. He may commit errors in Sadhana also. A Guru who has already trodden the path and reached the goal, is very necessary to guide him.
Who Is A Guru?
Guru is one who has full Self-illumination and who removes the veil of ignorance in deluded Jivas. Guru, Truth, Brahman, Ishvara, Atman, God, Om are all one. The number of realised souls may be less in this Kali Yuga when compared with the Satya Yuga, but they are always present to help the aspirants. They are always searching for the proper Adhikarins.
Guru is Brahman Himself. Guru is Ishvara Himself. Guru is God. A word from him is a word from God. He need not teach any. Even his mere presence or company is elevating, inspiring and soul-stirring. The very company itself is self-illumination. Living in his company is spiritual education. That which comes out of his lips is all Vedas or gospel-truth. His very life is an embodiment of Vedas. Guru is your guide or spiritual preceptor, real father, mother, brother, relative and intimate friend. He is an embodiment of mercy and love. His tender smile radiates light, bliss, joy, knowledge and peace. He is a blessing to the suffering humanity. Whatever he talks is Upanishadic teaching. He knows the spiritual path. He knows the pitfalls and snares on the way. He gives warning to the aspirants. He removes obstacles on the path. He imparts spiritual strength to the students. He showers his grace on their heads. He takes their Prarabdha even on his head. He is the ocean of mercy. All agonies, miseries, tribulations, taints of worldliness, etc., vanish in his presence.
It is he who transmutes the little Jivahood into great Brahmanhood. It is he who overhauls the old, wrong, vicious Samskaras of the aspirants and awakens them to the attainment of the knowledge of Self. It is he who uplifts the Jivas from the quagmire of body and Samsara, removes the veil of Avidya, all doubts, Moha and fear, awakens Kundalini and opens the inner eye of intuition.
The Guru must not only be a Srotriya but a Brahma-Nishtha also. Mere study of books cannot make one a Guru. One who has studied Vedas and who has direct knowledge of Atman through Anubhava can only be considered a Guru. If you can find peace in the presence of a Mahatma, and if your doubts are removed by his very presence you can take him as your Guru.
A Guru can awaken the Kundalini of an aspirant through sight, touch, speech or mere Sankalpa (thought). He can transmit spirituality to the student just as one gives an orange-fruit to another. When the Guru gives Mantra to his disciples, he gives it with his own power and Sattvic Bhava.
The Guru tests the students in various ways. Some students misunderstand him and lose their faith in him. Hence, they are not benefited. Those who stand the tests boldly come out successful in the end. The periodical examinations in the Adhyatmic University of Sages are very stiff indeed. In days of yore the tests were very severe. Once Gorakhnath asked some of his students to climb up a tall tree and throw themselves head downwards on a very sharp Trident (Trishul). Many faithless students kept quiet. But one faithful student at once climbed up the tree with lightning speed and threw himself down. He was protected by the invisible hand of Gorakhnath. He had immediate Self-realisation. He had no Deha-adhyasa (attachment for his body). The other faithless students had strong Moha and Ajnana.
There is a good deal of heated debates and controversy amongst many people on the matter of the necessity of a Guru. Some of them assert with vehemence and force that a preceptor is not at all necessary for Self-realisation and spiritual advancement and that one can have spiritual progress and self-illumination through one’s own efforts only. They quote various passages from scriptures and assign arguments and reasonings to support them. Others boldly assert with greater emphasis and force that no spiritual progress is possible for a man, however intelligent he may be, however hard he may attempt and struggle in the spiritual path, unless he gets the benign grace and direct guidance of a spiritual preceptor.
Now open your eyes and watch carefully what is going on in this world in all walks of life. Even a cook needs a teacher. He serves under a senior cook for some years. He obeys him implicitly. He pleases his teacher in all possible ways. He learns all the techniques in cooking. He gets knowledge through the grace of his senior cook, his teacher. A junior lawyer wants the help and guidance of a senior advocate. Students of mathematics and medicine need the help and guidance of a Professor. A student of Science, music and astronomy wants the guidance of a scientist and musician and an astronomer. When such is the case with ordinary, secular knowledge, then, what to speak of the inner spiritual path, wherein the student has to walk alone with closed eyes? When you are in a thick jungle, you come across several cross foot-paths. You are in a dilemma. You do not know the directions and by which path you should go. You are bewildered. You want a guide here to direct you in the right path. It is universally admitted that an efficient teacher is needed in all branches of knowledge in this physical plane and that physical, mental, moral and cultural growth can only be had through the help and guidance of a capable master. This is a universal inexorable law of nature. Why do you deny them, friend, the application of this universally accepted law in the realm of spirituality?
Spiritual knowledge is a matter of Guruparampara. It is handed down from a Guru to his disciple. Study Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. You will have a comprehensive understanding. Gaudapadacharya imparted Self-knowledge to his disciple Govindapadacharya; Govindapadacharya to his disciple Sankaracharya; Sankaracharya to his disciple Suresvaracharya. Gorakhnath to Nivrittinath; Nivrittinath to Jnanadev. Totapuri imparted knowledge to Ramakrishna; Ramakrishna to Vivekananda. It was Dr. Annie Besant who moulded the career of Sri Krishnamurthi. It was Ashtavakra who moulded the life of Raja Janaka. It was Gorakhnath who shaped the spiritual destiny of Raja Bhartrihari. It was Lord Krishna who made Arjuna and Uddhava establish themselves in the spiritual path, when their minds were in an unsettled condition.
Some aspirants do meditation for some years independently. Later on they feel actually the necessity for a Guru. They come across some obstacles in the way. They do not know how to proceed further and how to obviate these impediments or stumbling blocks. Then they begin to search for a Guru.
The student and the teacher should live together as father and devoted son or as a husband and wife with extreme sincerity and devotion. The aspirant should have an eager, receptive attitude to imbibe the teachings of the master. Then only will the aspirant be spiritually benefited; otherwise, there is not the least hope of the spiritual life of the aspirant and complete regeneration of his old Asuric nature.
It is a great pity that the present system of education in India is not favourable to the spiritual growth of Sadhakas. The minds of the students are saturated with materialistic poison. Aspirants of the present day have not got any idea of the true relationship of Guru and a disciple. It is not like the relationship of a student and teacher or professor in schools and colleges. Spiritual relationship is entirely different. It involves dedication. It is very sacred. It is purely divine. Turn the pages of the Upanishads. In days of yore, Brahmacharins used to approach their teachers with profound humility, sincerity and Bhava.
Just as you can give an orange to a man and take it back, so also spiritual power can be transmitted by one to another and taken back also. This method of transmitting spiritual power is termed “Shakti Sanchara.”
Birds keep their eggs under their wings. Through heat the eggs are hatched. Fish lay their eggs and look at them. They are hatched. The tortoise lays its eggs and thinks of them. They are hatched. Even so the spiritual power is transmitted by the Guru to the disciple through touch (Sparsha) like birds, sight (Darshana) like fish, and thinking or willing (Sankalpa) like the tortoise.
The transmitter, the Yogi-Guru, sometimes enters the astral body of the student and elevates his mind through his power. The Yogi (operator) makes the subject (Chela) sit in front of him and asks him to close his eyes and then transmits his spiritual power. The subject feels the spiritual power actually passing from Muladhara Chakra higher up to the neck and top of the head.
The disciple does various Hatha Yogic Kriyas, Asanas, Pranayamas, Bandhas, Mudras, etc., by himself. The student must not restrain his Iccha-Sakti. He must act according to the inner Prerana (inner goading or stirring). The mind is highly elevated. The moment the aspirant closes his eyes, meditation comes by itself. Through Sakti-Sanchara Kundalini is awakened by the grace of the Guru in the disciple. Sakti Sanchara comes through Parampara. It is a hidden mystic science. It is handed down from the Guru to the disciple.
The disciple should not rest satisfied with the transmission of power from the Guru. He will have to struggle hard in Sadhana for further perfection and attainments.
Sakti Sanchara is of two kinds, viz., lower and higher. The lower one is Jada Kriya only wherein one automatically does Asanas, Bandhas and Mudras without any instructions when the Guru imparts the power to the student. The student will have to take up Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana for perfection. He cannot depend upon the Kriya alone. This Kriya is only an auxiliary. It gives a push to the Sadhaka. A fully-developed Yogi only possesses the higher kind of Shakti-Sanchara.
Lord Jesus, through touch, transmitted his spiritual power to some of his disciples (Master’s Touch). Samartha Ramdas touched a prostitute. She entered into Samadhi. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa touched Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda had superconscious experiences. He struggled hard for seven years more even after the touch for attaining perfection. Lord Krishna touched the blind eyes of Vilvamangal (Surdas). The inner eye of Surdas was opened. He had Bhava Samadhi. Lord Gouranga, through his touch, produced Divine intoxication in many people and converted them to his side. Even atheists danced in ecstasy in the streets by his touch and sang songs of Hari. Glory, glory to such exalted Yogic Gurus.