Chapter 5 of Prabodhasudhākara has thirteen verses. This section also deals with the mind. Great importance is attached to mind in all Scriptures, as realization happens only through human  mind. {As has been explained in various articles, what we need is only breath, mind and consciousness. Prāṇāyāma is capable of purifying the mind and with a purified mind, our consciousness becomes pure and the purest consciousness is Brahman. One can try this simple experiment. Place five dots on a white paper. Look at all the dots at the same time. We will not be able fix our attention on any of the dots. Now, put only one dot and look at the dot. If this dot is continuously looked at, the dot will disappear from our vision, only to come back again after a wink. During this process, our breath rate would have slowed down. If we try to visualize as if are breathing through this dot, we can observe that not only the dot has disappeared, but also our breath would have slowed down drastically, may be around 5 or 6 per minute. This is known as absorption (as opposed to creation). When the breath rate goes down, our mind becomes pure and when our mind becomes pure, it works on our consciousness and makes it pure. This is what is practiced in a high quality meditation.}

River originates from mountain ranges, passes through plains and finally merges with ocean. Suppose the water does not flow and remains stagnant, how can the river merge with the ocean? Unless the river merges with ocean, what is the source of water for mountain ranges? It is typically a full circle starting from the point of origin, going through various stages only to come back to the point of origin. This is how 36 tattva-s work. It says that in order to reach the point of origin, one has to take a long journey (sincere sādhana) to reach the point of origin. What is required to practice sincere sādhana? The next verse says that it is the mind. If the mind does not turn outward through organs of perception and action (this is the inherent nature of the mind), how can individual consciousness (which is more attached to the material world) become one with Supreme Consciousness (thoughtless state)? From the Supreme Consciousness (Brahman), individual consciousness originates and the individual consciousness merges back with Brahman through the mind. That is why Upaniṣad-s and other such sacred writings attach great importance to the mind.

Next verse says that well water turns salty during rainy season, but when the summer sets in, water become sweet (this is often felt near seashores). This means, impure salt water turns pure, losing its quality of being salty. In other words, by facing the heat of the sun, water sheds its impurity and becomes pure. Facing the heat is sādhana for water and by performing this sādhana, water attains its original purity. This means, ultimately one has to merge with the source from which it originated. This example is compared to the mind. The gush of rain water is compared to tanmātra-s. This is also explained in the previous part of this series. The mind becomes operative through organs of perception and organs of action. How do we know that mind is hyperactive towards the material world? This can be known through the predominance of pañcatanmātra-s in the gross body. How pañcatanmātra-s act on the gross body? They act by inducing hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell, all related to material pleasures. What happens when the mind’s inherent nature is modified through sādhana (meditation)? Kṛṣṇa explains guṇa-s in Bhagavad Gīta (IV.6 - 9) “Sattva, rajas and tamas - these three qualities born of prakṛti (Nature) tie down the imperishable soul to the body.  Of these, sattva being immaculate, is illuminating and flawless; it binds through identification with joy and wisdom.  The quality of rajas, with is of the nature of passion, as born of avariciousness and attachment.  It binds the soul through attachment to actions and their fruits.  Tamas, the deluder of all those who look upon the body as their own self, are born of ignorance.  It binds the soul through error, sloth and sleep.  Sattva drives one to joy, and rajas to action, while tamas clouding the wisdom incites one to err as well as sleep and sloth.”  Chapter of Bhagavad Gīta XIV extensively deals with guṇa-s.  Kṛṣṇa again says (Bhagavad Gīta XIV.20) “Having transcended the aforesaid guṇa-s, which have caused the body, and freed from birth, death, old age and all kinds of sorrow, this soul attains the supreme bliss.”

Next verse speaks about desire and attachment, two powerful and yet dangerous components of mind. Mind longs for something which is known as desire and when one is not able to satisfy his desire, his mind becomes afflicted with desire and causes huge imbalance in his mind. His mind always thinks about this desire and over a period of time, this desire attains gigantic proportions and percolates into his subconscious mind. Once any thought processes percolate into subconscious mind, it will be difficult to eradicate them (however, some embedment in subconscious mind can be removed by meditating very close to third ventricle, which is situated between pineal and pituitary glands; this is generally taught during highest and advanced meditative practices). Generally mind gets attracted to sensual pleasures and objects that are not attainable. Even at the highest spiritual levels, great saints and sages had fallen from their elevated stages, due to these two deterrent factors.

When the mind strays around external objects such as mountains, rivers, valleys, etc., it will not be able to realize the Self within. Realisation has two aspects; one, realizing the Self within and second, realizing the Self in the universe or considering the universe as the Self. After realization, one has to enter into Mahāśūnya and should get liberated there, only to comeback and live as a jīvanmukta. This means after his/her death he/she is sure to be liberated. Again, both realization and liberation can happen only through mind. Mind is compared to a gourd. When a gourd is thrown into deep waters, it always comes up to the water surface because of its nature. Similarly, the mind in spite of best efforts always strays to the material world. Mind by nature is always pure. But it gets afflicted with the impressions of the material world through organs of perception and action. These afflictions are felt through pañcatanmātra-s, discussed above. However hard we may try to cleanse our minds, it ultimately goes externally to get afflicted and hence purity of the mind cannot be attained that easily. However, this is related to one’s capacity to do impeccable sādhana. Sādhana refers to working on our breath, mind and consciousness.

One cannot escape from the “Law of Karma”. This is the Divine Law and even Brahman does not transgress His own laws. Law of Karma is universal and there is no way to remove karmic imprints. They have to be experienced. Even Brahman does not remove our karmas. At the most, He can help in alleviating the seriousness. Even if He alleviates, duration of experience lasts for a longer time. The entire universe revolves around “Law of Karma” and this includes planets and their gravitational force. Law of karma is withdrawn only at the time of annihilation. The verse says that karmas are accrued only due to our actions. When actions are done with the intent “I am the doer”, karmas accrue.

In the next verse, a comparison is drawn about an animal being tied by a lengthy rope to ensure that it does not stray away. Milch animals are often tied with a long rope, so that it does move away from the attention of the owner. Mind is compared to this. One has to control the mind by controlling it. Milch animal is the mind, the rope is the effort of controlling the mind and the farmer who ties the milch animal is the owner of the mind. It is extremely difficult to control the mind. There are two ways to control the mind. First and important one is prāṇāyāma and another is to disconnect the mind from organs of perception and action. Sleep is the only time when sensory organs are fully controlled. What happens during sleep? Breathing rate slows down, which leads to annihilation of sensory inputs to the mind. The same state can be experienced during meditation.

Initially, one may find it difficult to control the mind. An example of tiger is drawn to explain this. A tiger is caged in four walls. In the initial stages tiger tries all means to jump the walls. But the walls are so high it could not do anything about it. After sometime, it realizes that it cannot escape from this place, loses its ferociousness and learns to live calm. It has lost its ferociousness completely. Similarly, one has to train the mind, says Prabodhasudhākara. The next verse mentions about prāṇa. The verse says that mind loses its inherent nature of agitation and turbulence by practicing prāṇāyāma. The verse also gives additional sources wherein one can control the mind. In the presence of sages and saints and developing proper devotion one can effectively control the mind. This is because, mind fixes its attention on energised persons and objects. In the presence of an evolved Guru, most of his disciples will be able to feel his energy level.  However it is said that the most effective way to control the mind is only through prāṇāyāma. Hence, great emphasis has been laid for Self-realization through prāṇāyāma, mind and consciousness. Prāṇāyāma purifies mind and when mind is purified, consciousness becomes pure and when the consciousness becomes pure, it is Brahman.

Further reading: Controlling breath.

First practice Nāḍi Śodhana Prāṇāyāma

Take your normal posture. Spine erect. There should be enough space in the armpit. Inhalation and exhalation should be through both the nostrils and through yogic breathing.

For Nāḍi Śodhana Prāṇāyāma and yogic breathing, please read THIS ARTICLE.

Read more about Respiratory rate here

Now inhale by expanding your abdomen (count between 4 and 6) - hold the breath for a few seconds (may be you can count between 6 to 9) within - exhale slowly by contracting your abdomen (may be you can count the same 6 to 9) - do not inhale and hold inhalation for a few seconds (may be 2 to 4). This completes one round. Now let us calculate. 

At the lowest numbers  4 + 6 + 6 + 2 = 18

At the highest numbers 6 + 9 + 9 + 4 = 28 

At the lowest numbers your breathing rate would be 3.30 per minute

At the highest numbers you breathing rate would be 2.14 per minute 

You can modify the numbers to suit your comfort zone. There is no need to follow these numbers as they are only illustrative in nature. During this practice, please ensure that your breathing does not exceed 4 per minute.  

At the time of exhalation, you have to visualize that you are exhaling through your spine. When you visualize this, you will feel the pressure from your heart chakra onwards towards sahasrara.  

This is perfect pranayama.

More related articles:

Prabodhasudhākara - Part 3

Prabodha sudhākara - Part 5