Vedānta Series – 7 

3. Observance of dharma:

It is called uparatiḥ or uparamaḥ known as giving up. It is giving up worldly pleasures. If everyone is advised to give up worldly pleasures, then it goes against the will of the Lord. It is said that if one follows dharma prescribed by sacred precepts called śāstra-s, it automatically leads to sensory control. Therefore, it is not giving up worldly pleasures, but it is sensory control.  For example, Manu dharma śāstra says, that one should not take his food by stretching his feet, keeping his hands on legs, sitting on a cot, holding plate in his hands, etc.  It is difficult to say reasoning for such prohibitions. Possible explanations could be reverence for food, as food is the nourishing factor in life; cleanliness; postures that disturbs digestion, etc. Śāstra-s also prescribe only certain days in which one can have marital bliss, in order to restrain senses.

Every command of Scriptures is not without valid reasoning. In ancient times, people were following śāstra-s without any deviation and lived a perfect healthy and spiritual life. Over a period of time, śāstra-s were amended, modified and added, there by making many to look at śāstra-s with tainted eyes. Therefore, dharma is not mere commandments, but a rule book that should be followed meticulously to have fulfilling life. Such precepts not only take care of sensory control but also ensure healthy life, an important factor in spirituality. Advocating fasting is another example for ensuring healthy life. 

All these factors prevent too much use of sensory organs. If someone asks what is too much, śāstra-s have said what is too much by forbiddances. Original dharma śāstra-s are based only on scientific theories. Therefore, it is essential that one should follow the precepts of dharma śāstra-s. They are readymade tools available to us to effectively control our senses. 

4. Endurance:

It refers to endurance of opposites. When one is able to live in hot weather, he should be able to live in a cold weather also. If one is happy now, he should be ready to undergo suffering later. Opposites happen in cycles.  Kṛṣṇa calls such a person as sthitaprajña. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā  (II.56) that  whose mind is neither shaken at the time of misery, nor attached to happiness, he who is totally free from desires, fear and anger is known as sthitaprajña. This is the kind of endurance that is discussed here. While pursuing the path of spirituality, there is bound to be joy and sorrow. Neither of them should affect an aspirant. Penultimate stage to Realisation is the state of sthitaprajña. For a sthitaprajña, life in a hut and a palace remains the same.

If one does not have endurance, his mind is susceptible to extreme swings. Mind wavering has no place while pursuing spirituality, as the mind is the foremost factor here. 

5. Faith:

Faith is an important factor in spirituality. This is mainly because, the Brahman is not seen, but only realized and as a result of which, the aspirant becomes the Brahman himself. There is no evidence to prove that that is Brahman. Take for example, atom. Atom cannot be seen even under super special microscopes. One needs a field ion microscope (It consists of a vacuum system in which an electrically insulated specimen is placed about 50 millimetres (2 inches) in front of a phosphor screen. The specimen is in the form of a needle that is over 1000 times sharper than an ordinary household sewing needle. In fact, the end of the needle is so sharp that it cannot be seen by the naked eye or even a standard optical microscope; not surprisingly, fabricating these needles is an art itself) to prove the presence of atom. Everyone cannot have access to this kind of microscopes. Others have to believe in what the scientists say. In the same way, a spiritual aspirant has to believe in what Holy Scriptures declare. He has to have faith in the words of his guru, provided his guru is a Self-realised person. An iota of doubt manifests in huge proportions and destroys the aspirant completely. After all, we live only on faiths. It is also said that raising irrelevant questions to his guru or illogical thinking also destroys a spiritual aspirant. Believe that there is Brahman, the eternal force who keeps the universe afloat. One has to have faith that he will realize Him and he will surely realize Him. This is the kind of faith that one should develop while migrating to spiritual life.

6. Concentration:

Concentration can be developed through meditative practice. Patañjali Yoga Sūtra (III.1) “deśa-bandhaścittasyadhāraṇā”. This aphorism says that holding on the mind to some object is dhāraṇā or concentration. The single pointed concentration can be acquired only by persistent effort. Practice to attain this single pointed concentration is meditation. When diffused awareness begins to focus on an object (in this case, the Brahman), it means significant advance in meditative practice. Meditation is said to be highest form of worship as one is able to establish commune with the Lord, all the time. Ritualistic worship does not connect the aspirant and the Brahman perpetually. When the mind does not have a second thought, it sheds its inherent nature of getting afflicted with sensory inputs and remains focused on the sole object, the Brahman. With consistent practice, the mind realizes that it itself is Brahman.   

With this sādhanasampattiḥ, the third among sādhanacatuṣṭayaṁ is concluded. The fourth and the last among sādhanasampattiḥ is desire for liberation or mumukṣutvaṁ will be discussed in the next posting.

Further Readings:

Types of Vedanta Philosophy

Vedanta - Dispassion

Vedanta - Mind and Sense Control