The Three Governing Factors of Sadhana
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is a chapter from the book Sadhana.
Many people even after studying classic works on religion and philosophy, do not know what they should do in practice to attain the goal of life, viz., God-realisation, and they seek enlightenment on this. The three things essential for God-realisation are: (1) constant remembrance of God, (2) cultivation of virtues and (3) spiritualisation of all activities.
- Constant remembrance of God:
- Cultivation of virtues:
- Spiritualisation of all activities:
There may be breaks in the beginning, but by repeated practice, gradually you can have constant remembrance. Constant Nama-smarana, mental repetition of God’s Name, alone is possible for the vast majority of people. Awakening of Kundalini and raising of Brahmakara Vritti are very, very difficult, but when the mind is purified, they would come automatically.
Of all virtues Ahimsa (non-injury), Satya (truthfulness) and Brahmacharya (celibacy) are the most important. If one is established in one virtue, all other virtues will cling to him. Watch the Vrittis. Introspect. Develop purity in thought, word and deed. In the beginning, practise at least physical purity. Then mental purity will come by itself.
Feel you are an instrument in the Lord’s hands and that all the Indriyas (senses) belong to Him. Repeat the formula: “I am Thine; all is Thine; Thy Will be done.” It is a beautiful formula for self-surrender. You may forget this formula and egoism may assert itself. But introspect again and again and find out your weakness. Try to be established in the feeling, “I am an instrument in the hands of the Lord.” Remember the Gita verse:
Yat karoshi yadasnasi yajjuhoshi dadasi yat;
Yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurushva madarpanam.
(Whatever you do, or eat, or offer in sacrifice, or give, or practise as austerity, do it as an offering unto Me.)
Praseeda devesa jagannivasa: “O God of gods! Resort for the world, have mercy.” It is a formula more potent than or as potent as pahi mam, palaya mam, prachodayat–these are all tremendous formulae. They are very powerful. So again and again remember them and their significance.
Sri Ramah saranam mama, Sri Krishnah saranam mama, Harih saranam–these are potent Saranagati Mantras. Saranagati is taking refuge in the Lord, or self-surrender unto Him.
Prichchhami tvam dharmasammudhachetah;
Yat sreyah syat nischitam bruhi tanme
Sishyasteham sadhi mam tvam prapannam.
(My heart is overpowered by the taint of weakness; my mind is confused about duty. I ask Thee. Tell me decisively what is good for me. I am Thy disciple. Instruct me, who has taken refuge in Thee.–Gita II-7). This is a Satguru-Saranagati Mantra.
Sarvadharman parityajya mamekam saranam vraja,
Aham tva sarvapapebhyo mokshayishyami ma suchah.
(Abandoning all duties, take refuge in Me (the Lord) alone; I will liberate thee from all sins, grieve not.–Gita XVIII-66)
These are all Saranagati formulae. In the Eighteenth Chapter of the Gita there is a Sloka:
Yasya nahamkrito bhavo buddhiryasya na lipyate, Hatvapi sa iman lokan na hanti na nibadhyate.
(He who has no egoism, whose intelligence is not tainted by (the obsession of) good or evil, even if he kills the whole world, he neither kills nor is bound by the action.–Gita XVIII-17) Krishna said this to Arjuna when the latter shied away from the battle to which he was duty-bound as a soldier when challenged by the aggressor.
Remember these Slokas. You will have the spirit of Saranagati. You will feel that the Lord is in you, and you are in the Lord.
After the day’s work, offer whatever you have done to God. Do not identify yourself with actions. Feel that you are doing your duty as a detached instrument of the Lord’s benevolence.
Kayena vacha manasendriyairva buddhyatmana va prakritessvabhavat,
Karomi yadyat sakalam parasmai Narayanayeti samarpayami.
Offer all actions and their fruits to God. Then you will not be bound. In this way you should spiritualise all your activities. Feel that the whole world is a manifestation of the Lord and you are serving the Lord in all names and forms, and whatever you do–your actions and the results thereof consecrate to the Lord. Then your heart will be purified and will be ready to receive the divine light and grace.
Therefore, practise the three requisites–constant remembrance of God, spiritualising your activities and cultivating virtues.
These three are very important. Practise them. This is the easiest, the quickest and the surest method for attaining God-realisation.
Esha sarveshu bhuteshu gudhatma na prakasate;
Drisyate tvagryaya buddhya sukshmaya sukshmadarsibhih.
(This Atman is hidden in all beings, but it is seen only by subtle seers through their sharp and subtle intellect.)
The intellect should be razor-sharp if you wish to understand the Brahma Sutras properly. All are not meant for it. Even then practical experience is essential. Therefore, to the vast majority, constant remembrance of the Lord, spiritualisation of all activities and cultivation of virtues–Ahimsa, Satya, Brahmacharya–form the most important part of Sadhana. These also constitute the noble eightfold path of Lord Buddha. These also correspond to the “Sermon on the Mount” of Lord Jesus. These are the essentials in all religions. So, kindly practise these, and attain God-realisation. Love all. Be good and do good. May Lord bless you all!