Friday, May 4, 2012

Welcome to the Buddha Purnima issue of e-Sanai

by Sri Sandip Dasgupta

Dear fellow devotees:

With deep devotion to my Master, Sri Sri Babathakur, I present the 2012 Buddha Purnima edition of our online magazine.  In the last issue, Smt. Champa Dasgupta vividly wrote about the proceedings of the Satsang held on November eigthteenth, 2011 at the Sanatan Dharma Mandir, Delhi.   As I read the article, I could feel that I was actually present there listening to the bhajans and discourses.   It reminded me of our own bhajan function at San Jose, California at this time last year.   In this issue, Smt. Champa Dasgupta is presenting the second half of her report – I am sure you all are eagerly looking forward to reading the rest of the article.   Beginning with this issue, I will try to present some of Sri Sri Babathakur’s quotations and write about how I have understood them.

Sri Sri Babathakur’s august proclamation, “All Divine, For All Time, As It Is” is perhaps the single quote that captures the essence of all His teachings.   Through this quote, Sri Sri Babathakur emphatically states that the substratum of each and every one of us is that of One Supreme Brahman.   That Supreme One is termed as the permanent-I, I-Reality, “Paka Aami” or “Pakka Main” by Sri Sri Babathakur.   He further states that all of us are Individual-Is who reside in the bosom of that One Supreme I-Reality.   Each of us is powered by the Shakti of the I-Reality and when the Supreme One decides that it’s time for the game to be over, our Individual-I dissolves into the I-Reality.  Now, as this game of I-Reality is going on, the nature of I-Reality does not change – hence Sri Sri Babathakur states that the I-Reality stays “As It Is”.  As individual-Is come and go, the I-Reality remains there for all the time – and hence His spontaneous revelation of “All Divine, For All Time, As It Is”.  This continuous game is termed as “Sportful, dramatic, sameside game of Self-Consciousness” by Sri Sri Babathakur.

With the above august proclamation, Sri Sri Babathakur further states that He cannot be anybody’s Guru – nor can anybody be His disciple.  According to him, if we keep that distinction, then the Guru will appear to be superior to the disciple – and that is in direct contradiction of His teaching of “All Divine”. Hence he refused being anybody’s Guru or giving Diksha to anybody.  Nor did He establish any ashram in His name.  His emphasis was always on us listening to His teachings and contemplating on them, so that the Supreme Knowledge would reveal spontaneously amongst all of us.

Sri Sri Babathakur, clearly explained to us that Jivana was indeed Na-Jivana – meaning we are not the body.  In essence we are the Brahman Absolute, I-Reality and that we should never forget this.  That way when we encounter our enemy, we must start chanting “I-Reality”, “Brahman” till our anger cools down. I have found this to be a very effective technique to cool my temper – as this reminds me that the person I am angry at is also the same “I-Reality” that I am.

Once, I had made the mistake of asking Sri Sri Babathakur about His health.  He quickly pointed out to me that He was not the body and hence this was a meaningless question.  His answer was – “I am what I was, I am what I am and I will remain what I am”.  He thus made the reality of “I-Reality” clear to me in one quick instant.

I would like to continue having the opportunity of discussing His quotes in the future issues.

Joy Babathakur! Joy Babathakur! Joy Babathakur!

Satsang in New Delhi to Commemorate Sri Sri Babathakur's Second Punyatithi: Part 2


by Srimati Champa Dasgupta

The following is the second and concluding part of an article describing the satsang event held on the eigtheenth of November, 2011 at the Sanatan Dharm Mandir in Greater Kailash – Part 2, New Delhi to commemorate the second anniversary of Sri Sri Babathakur’s departure from His mundane existence.   The first part of this article was published in the 2012 Saraswati Puja issue of e-Sanai and included a narration of Sri P.C. Lahiri's introductory address to the audience, speeches by Dr. Dipak Patranabis and Advocate D.K. Rustagi, and Sri P.C. Lahiri's description of the Saccidananda Society and its mission.  Those interested, can access the first part of the article through the following link:

Following his description of the Saccidananda Society and its mission, Bapida (Sri P.C. Lahiri) proceeded to introduce Sri Karamjeet Singh as not only an award-winning and highly accomplished filmmaker (who specializes in making films related to the Himalayas), but also as a deeply spiritual person, who akin to a ‘bhakt’, dedicates his entire focus towards whatever task there is on hand.   Much as in the case with Sri Rustagi, Sri Karamjeet Singh’s outlook on spiritualism took a wonderful and remarkable turn since the commencement of his association with Sri Sri Babathakur.  Being blessed with the opportunity of interacting with Sri Sri Babathakur’s, Mr. Singh has gone on to make a film on the words and teaching of the Master titled ‘I-Witness’, which is currently being reviewed for clearance by the Censure Board.  Bapida invited Mr. Singh onto the stage to share some of his spiritual views and experiences with the audience.

After thanking Bapida and greeting the audience, Sri Karamjeet Singh begun by stating that he hadn’t initially approached Sri Sri Babathakur to receive any specific spiritual knowledge or help.  His interest in Sri Sri Babathakur was purely as a filmmaker tasked with shooting a documentary based on the teachings of the Master.   Sri Singh claimed that as a filmmaker, he is inclined to thoroughly scrutinize and assess his subjects rather than blindly believing anything said or written about them.  He has over the course of his career, encountered many spiritual masters, yogis, sages etc. without particularly being impressed by any of them.  However with Sri Sri Babathakur, his experiences were vastly different.  The first thing that struck him about Sri Sri Babathakur was that the Master was in the least bit interested to force His spiritual beliefs onto others.  He harbored no desire to set up any ashram, recruit disciples, or launch a fund drive to help spread His message.  It was (like Bapida had described earlier) as if Sri Sri Babathakur was like the sun, ready to illuminate the spiritual life of anyone interested in the ultimate goal of Self Realization - to whatever extent he/she was capable and willing to partake of His teachings.

Sri Karamjeet Singh addressing the satsang 

Over the course of his interactions with Sri Sri Babathakur it became very evident to Sri Singh that the Master was completely devoid of duality.  Sri Sri Babathakur believed in the unity of the essence underlying all views and concepts, and never stated that one must follow a specific path to make spiritual progress.  For Him, there were several paths through which one could attain the ultimate goal of Self Realization.  One could just as well attain Self Realization by treading on the path Karma Yog (i.e. by being totally dedicated to one’s craft and doing every task to the best of one’s abilities) as one would by taking the route of Bhakti Yog.  Sri Sri Babathakur did say though that there is one path that’s the most direct or shortest path to attain Self Realization – and that is the path of Knowledge.  However given that it’s a shortcut that directly leads one towards Realization, it is also the most challenging of all paths.   Sri Singh mentioned that by ‘Knowledge’, the Master wasn’t referring to anything that can be gained or perceived through the mere senses or intellect.  Upon asking Sri Sri Babathakur how to gain this Knowledge, Mr. Singh was told to ‘Just listen’.

This is what Sri Singh proceeded to do (i.e. ‘just listen’ without any preconceived notions) in subsequent interactions with Sri Sri Babathakur.  He found the Master using different approaches to illuminate a seeker’s understanding of the many facets of an individual’s ultimate spiritual objective.  Mr. Singh referred to the story of the blind men and the elephant - with those of us possessing limited and imperfect spiritual knowledge being akin to the blind men (i.e. being able to comprehend only a part of the elephant called ‘existence’), and the Master (given His Realization) being able to see the whole elephant.  Over time and through various tangents, Sri Sri Babathakur provided Sri Karamjeet Singh with a bigger and clearer picture of what this elephant called ‘human existance’ is all about.

Sri Karamjeet Singh concluded his speech by stating that he still fondly recollects his interactions with Sri Sri Babathakur, occasionally reads his books, and tries to incorporate the Masters teachings in his day-to-day life, particularly those related to Karma Yog, which he himself (i.e. Sri Singh) is naturally drawn to.

Bapida thanked Sri Karamjeet Singh for sharing his experiences in a very direct and open way, stating that the listeners are always appreciative of and inspired by listening to the ‘direct experiences’ of bhaktas.   Emphasizing further upon the nobility of having an ‘open’ nature, Bapida referred to Sri Sri Babathakur’s occasional play with certain words such as ‘disease’.    The word ‘disease’ can be broken down into ‘dis’ and ‘ease’.   All of us (who are not Self Realized) are afflicted with some form of ailment – and this disease may not necessarily merely of the physical kind.   Only someone who is completely open and at ease with one and all, one who is not constricted/limited by any particular thoughts or opinions about others, can be said to be well set towards attaining the objective of Self Realization.

Bapida next drew the audience’s attention towards a very special characteristic of Sri Sri Babathakur – that of devotional songs or bhajans being spontaneously and effortlessly revealed to Him - complete with sur, taal, chand, and laya.   These revealed bhajans were never the outcome of a certain musical training, focused thought process, or effort.  They came naturally and spontaneously to the Master under certain circumstances, such as when deeply immersed in ‘Atma-bhaava (i.e. deep identification of All with the Self), coming out of Samadhi, during a state of deep relaxation, or when responding to the sincere adyatmic jigyasa (i.e. spiritual curiosity) of a seeker.   Bapida then invited three versatile and highly accomplished musicians – Mrs. Shaoni Mitra, Mr. Debashis Ghosh, Mr. Pritimoy Goswami to come onto the stage and render some bhajans that had been revealed to Sri Sri Babathakur.   Each of these musicians has been associated with the Master and performing His bhajans for the last twelve years.  This close association with Sri Sri Babathakur and the rendering of His works has had a profound impact on both their personal and professional lives.  With the passing of time, each has found himself/herself being increasingly drawn to the spiritual path, and dedicating more and more of time and effort towards communicating the spiritual insights of the Master by means of His revealed bhajans.  Mrs Mitra (singing vocals), Mr. Ghosh (on harmonium) and Mr. Goswami (on tabla) beautifully delivered a set of 3 bhajans, with Bapida narrating the words of each bhajan (as well as discussing their significance) prior to its rendition.   This set of bhajans included ‘Anand Se Bhajo Man’, “Mere Pritam, Mere Pritam’, and ‘Atma Ram Atma Ram’. 

Mrs Shaoni Mitra performing at the satsang

Following the recital of the words to the bhajan ‘Mere Pritam, Mere Pritam’, Bapida mentioned that these words (all in Hindi) serve as fine examples of the fact that ‘Direct’ Knowledge or Experience has limited use for (i.e. is not dependent upon) formal education or training.   Given Sri Sri Babathakur received no formal training in Hindi, the revealing of such bhajans to Him came as the natural and spontaneous outcome of having attained the highest form of Consciousness.

Following the rendition of the aforementioned bhajans, the audience was treated to the Keynote speech of the evening delivered by Swami Kinkar Samanand Maharaj ji.   Swami ji had earlier that day delivered a brief speech at the Moksh Dham in Delhi as well.  Bapida introduced Samanand Maharaj ji as both a rishi and a sanyasi, highly accomplished and well revered within the spiritual community.  He is a professor of Philosophy at both the Kolkata Sanskrit College as well as Kolkata University.   Swamiji had never met or interacted with Sri Sri Babathakur in the later's living form.  However ever since attending the solhavi (i.e. sixteenth day) rites marking the departure of Sri Sri Babathakur’s from His mundane existence, Swamiji has been drawn to, and has closely researched the teachings of the Master, deriving enormous joy from the Master’s volumes of work.   Bapida invited Swamiji to address the gathering.   Given the length of the address, and the risk of misinterpretting both the broad scope as well as the deep spiritual content of Swamiji's message, an audio clip has been attached for readers to partake of Swamiji’s speech at their own pace and to their heart’s content.

Audio link to Swami Kinkar Samanand Maharaj ji's Keynote Address:

The evening concluded with another set of Sri Sri Babathakur’s revealed bhajans sung this time by revered classical singer Sri Kedar Bodas, son of eminent vocalist Sri Narayan Bodas.  Sri Kedar Bodas had learnt to perform Sri Sri Babathakur's bhajans under the direct tutelage of the Master Himself.  He was accompanied by Mr. Debashis Ghosh on harmonium and Mr. Pritimoy Goswami on tabla).  The set included the following bhajans:  'Apon Swarupe Purno Apon' and 'Aho Kya Ananda'. 

Sri Kedar Bodas rendering Sri Sri Babathakur's revealed bhajans

Following Sri Bodas' recital, Bapida thanked the speakers, performers and audience for coming togther to commemorate this very special occasion.   The gathering enthusiastically joined him in chanting 'Joy Babathakur' three times to bring the ceremony to a close.  The attendees were all handed out prasad as they exited out of the seating area, filled with a deep sense of bliss and fulfillment.  A truly spiritually uplifting experience was had by one and all who attended this remarkable event.                

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Recollections of my experiences with Sri Sri Babathakur

by                                                                                                    Sri Sumit Duttagupta
I was in Class VII in the year 1979, when I returned to Calcutta from Delhi to be with my parents.  I would join my mother in regularly visiting the Fern road location where a handful of people would gather to listen to Sri Sri Babathakur’s sermons in the afternoon.  Still young and a little confused in terms of understanding the essence of what He was speaking,  I would none-the-less  go and listen to Him.   I would primarily go to abide with my mother’s wishes to accompany her in meeting GOD and pray for the fulfillment of my wishes.  Every time I visited Him, I would have different wishes – some even trivial – yet to my surprise, all of my wishes would to come true.   I have to admit though that the one thing I would always look forward to during my visits was His smile (which used to mesmerize me) and the handful of chocolates he always used to dole out after the sermon.

Today after years of running and struggling in my career race, I have come a long way.  Yet I feel that what I’ve been pursuing is merely an illusion of happiness.  The urge to know myself has now become more intense, and it seems that Sri Sri Babathakur’s words, ‘You will have your time (to explore your True Self)’ is coming true.

Let me take you through some of my recollections of those sermons (which I used to pen down back home after listening to Him) as well as some of my experiences.

He always reminded me to concentrate on my present pursuits and excel in them. He used to say, ‘Worship the present and things will fall in place’. He could see through one’s mind.  During one of His discourses, I was thinking about a Hindi film that I had seen the day before.  He pointed to me and said “Do not be under any illusion that what you see now also is a film!  You may not be able to understand so now, but try to assimilate what I say and practice it in your day to day life”.   I was still thinking, ‘If I am to do as He asks (i.e. assimilate His spiritual lessons) would that mean I’ve to do abandon my studies?” , when immediately came his reply (right in the midst of the discourse) – “No one needs to stop what they are doing and or is supposed to do – these are all destined by the Almighty – but in course of your journey of karma, you need to allocate some time to identify yourself and unravel the truth – for you truly are”.  I was taken aback and decided that henceforth, I would concentrate only on His sayings during the discourse.

For one of the discourses, my mother and I had come early and were waiting in the Fern Road verandah for Sri Sri Babathakur. Suddenly He came out and started talking to my mother, asking what she had given for the Sunday bhog.  My mother used to cook and give bhog every Sunday to the numerous Gods at our house.  As she narrated the list of bhog items to Him, instantly came Sri Sri Babathakur’s reply – “That particular saag was great – how did you make it?”  We were taken aback and speechless.  The silence was broken with Him saying,  “I am always with you – whoever calls Me with full devotion – I reveal Myself within his self.”  Since that day, I’ve felt He is no ordinary being but GOD Himself, and my urge to unravel the Supreme Truth has grown more intense with time.

At times, this urge to unravel the Truth impacted my focus towards studies.  On one occasion my mother complained to Sri Sri Babathakur about my lack of attention towards studies.  His response was, “Let him now have the seed (of spiritualism), the plant will grow in time at its own pace – Do not worry.”

During one of His discourses, Sri Sri Babathakur was illustrating the concept of “Oneness” and how to achieve universal harmony though realizing One’s Self.  Suddenly a thought entered my mind to the effect, “If universal harmony is to be achieved, then all should have equal status”.  Instant came the reply during the discourse “Some people oppose the caste and gradations present in society – but they forget to take into account that these distinctions have been created by the Almighty to get the external world moving.  You are born as a human being who has evolved through different births.  You all have the legacy of your previous birth attributes affecting your present thinking and state– but nothing is stopping you now from taking care of your present and from introspecting within yourselves to seek answers that help you pursue your path of self-realization.  My words if listened carefully will definitely show you the path, but it is you who has to decide whether to start this journey to know yourself or whether you would like to remain in this cycle of bondage”.  I always felt that He could read my mind, else how could he address my unspoken thoughts almost instantaneously!

One day after about a couple of years of regular visits to His place, Sri Sri Babathakur asked my mother to send me to Him to learn Yoga.  I was taken aback by the instruction and asked myself, “Why me?”  I was a bit hesitant, as the journey from my house to Fern Road was quite a distance.  Still on my mother’s insistence, I landed up at Sri Sri Babathakur’s place on the scheduled day to commence my lessons.  The first day went off well.  He showed me some yoga postures and I practiced them in front of him.  I also and did some meditation.   That day, I felt something different and was brimming with energy!  I was scheduled to go to Him three times a week.   Next day, to my surprise there was this young lady who also turned out to learn Yoga with me.   We were doing yoga together and my mind that day was definitely not on my yoga.  Perhaps the presence of the young lady was not letting me concentrate.   Sri Sri Babathakur sensed it and said to me – “See I always tell you not to see the external world that creates ripples within you.  Concentrate on your actions, and you will achieve the path you are destined for”.   I went back home and thought about it, but next day I somehow just did not have the urge to go there.   I was too young to understand just what I was missing.  I simply confided in my mother that the yoga schedule would disturb my studies and with the secondary examination drawing near, I needed be excused.  My mother was in consent with me but insisted that I needed to let Sri Sri Babathakur know.   During the next session when my mother conveyed my feelings to Him, Sri Sri Babathakur remained quiet for some time before saying, “Well I wanted any one of your sons to be groomed”.  Mother was taken back and replied, “Well I have no reservations.   Could you please guide them?”  No reply came from his side.  Now when I reflect back, it seems I missed a golden opportunity to prepare myself for spiritual pursuits and that lady may have simply been a “maya-jaal” that I needed to overcome (but could not).  I failed to stand the test and believe me after that, I even ceased to attend His sermons due to my exams drawing near, hearing only as a summarized version of His teachings from my mother.

Years later, after I passed my engineering and started a career in sales and marketing, I just happened to be in Kolkata.  One afternoon after a client visit, I had an urge to meet Sri Sri Babathakur and seek His blessings.  The verandah was packed with devotees listening to his sermons.  I just stood beside the staircase to seek His blessings.  He glanced at me and uttered to the audience “There are some people who do not understand what they are doing, and yet still keep coming to Me to seek blessings”.  I was taken aback.  Perhaps His was alluding to me as He uttered those words.  Sure by then, I had lost touch with His sermons and was in a different world, chasing my dreams to make it big in corporate world. That night, I called up my mother and asked for the notebook where I used to pen down my thoughts after hearing the sermons.   I made a conscious decision that henceforth, I will try to be in touch with His sermons by reading His thoughts.

Years later after getting married and having become a father, I went to meet Sri Sri Babathakur with my family at the Saccidananda Society facility in Eastern Bypass, where He lived then to seek His blessings. My son as a toddler was playing at His feet and rolling over.  Sri Sri Babathakur said, “See this infant child also knows which is the right place to play.”  Then pointing towards me He said, But here, someone does not know what company to keep”.  He told my mother “I do not recognize this person”.   I was totally taken aback by His reaction and went home ashamed.   I was very dejected, feeling Sri Sri  Babathakur had ignored me for no fault of mine.  At that time, I was too young to understand the nuances of life.

I think that reaction from Si Sri Babathakur was intended to propel my feelings towards His teachings and practice the same.  A week later, I happened to attend a course of transcendental meditation arranged by my office. It changed my outlook, and helped start my journey to make up for lost time.  I regularly began practicing meditation and reading Sri Sri Babathakur’s books and magazines to keep my thought processes focused.  I made my priorities clear that the office will be dedicated to my professional work - for that is the duty of this external form which I need to accomplish and to make myself ready internally to realize myself.   I need to practice meditation and His teachings and make my mind focused towards remaining unattached to any form of gain or loss from this materialistic world.  I resolved to one day be able to stand up and present myself to the Master saying, “I am ready now and willing to dedicate myself to You, and Your cause”.

Alas that chance never came, as one day I got a call from my mother telling me that Sri Sri Babathakur was no more.  I just could not stop crying and said to myself, “I am the biggest fool in this world – being so close to Him – I had missed out on everything.”  The whole night, I sat in front of His portrait and wept like a baby, and in the morning, decided to pack my bag to attend His last journey at Delhi.  I resolved to take a small bag with me for my trip and so hauled an old bag from my overhead loft.   After cleaning the same, I opened it up and started packing it with my clothes.   Suddenly, I noticed a small painted photograph of Sri Sri Babathakur on a very old ram shackled paper with Bal Krishna playing on His back.  I next felt Sri Sri Babathakur looking straight of the picture into my eyes.  I went numb and just sat down with a thump, the photograph in my hand.   My wife came running up upon hearing the sound and inquired what had happened.  She was  taken aback with the photograph she saw me clutching in my hand.   “Where did you get this?” she asked me.   I just could not answer and pointed to the bag and started weeping like a child.   I have no recollection of what happened next.  My wife tells me that I stopped crying and proceeded to bed for a nap.   In the evening, I decided not to proceed to Delhi as I realized Sri Sri Babathakur has always been with me and will always remain with me.  From that day on, we at our home always worship him in the form that I got Him from the bag, and make it a point to read and discuss some points from his books.

So friends, I shall continue writing about my close encounters with the Master and my learnings from His sermons.   I will also pen down some of my experiences interacting with Bombay Maa, who also used to provide me with sermons of life in a very simple and lucid form.

On a parting note, the following are some of the essence of Sri Sri Babathakur’s teachings which I’ve inculcated during the course of my journey so far:
  • Always keep yourself cheerful at heart. Even when your external form may show anger, your heart should be feeling cheerful.
  • The actions of your external form should be controlled by the purity of your internal thoughts and feelings. Try to control your internal vibes, so that all actions emanating out of it are honest in its intention.
  • If someone showers praises, curses or ill-treats you – realize that he is doing the same to your external form.  Your true self should not be affected by his actions.  This will enable you to remain unattached.
  • Continue doing your external duty honestly and for the betterment of the society as you are destined to do this.   Keep some time to kindle your pursuit to know yourself.
  • Think how fortunate you are today, that you are at least able to read the sermons of the path towards Self Realization.   Do not waste time (in your pursuit of Self Realization).   Keep the incremental growths in Self Awareness, going.  Who knows the right time? It will come of its own.   Try to grab the opportunity.
  • Stay focused and read Sri Sri Babathakur’s sermons regularly whenever in doubt – All your doubts will clear up on their own.

Well that’s all for now.

Jai Sri Sri Babathakur!!!

The Concept of Meditation in Hinduism


Sri Ajit Halder

Meditation (Dhyana) is a Hindu spiritual technique to create the right mental condition for the attainment of peace of mind and inner silence leading to spiritual awakening. The aim is to turn the mind’s attention inward, away from the humdrum of the external world for uninterrupted concentration on God.  This is achieved by suspending all random thoughts and freeing the mind from anxiety and stress, thus getting rid of the restlessness of the mind.  This endeavour helps to achieve the mental state required for concentrated attention on God.  Hinduism prescribes methods to realize the tranquil state of mind, forgetting everything and concentrating on God.  Whatever be the method or technique, the ultimate aim of meditation in Hinduism is to guide and direct the mind to a state where it has not been before but where it should be – to reach a relaxed, meditative mind for quiet contemplation on God.

It may seem that the practice of meditation begins with the suspension of all random thoughts entering the mind, with the result that the mind becomes empty of any thought.  But the objective of meditation is quite different and straightforward, and it is to direct the mind away from the many to the one all important thought, i.e. to become absorbed in one’s awareness of God.  At first the endeavour may seem to be much demanding of one’s efforts.  However through continuous practice, one will increasingly be able to focus on God.  So meditation enables one to turn the mind’s attention from the distractions of the external world to the mind’s inner world, leading to an awakening of God-Consciousness within everyone.

There are many styles of meditation within Hinduism, and Yoga is commonly prescribed as the preparatory step for meditation. Within Patanjali’s AshtangaYoga practice, there are eight limbs (Ashta anga) leading to moksha and this will be discussed later in this article.  AshtangaYoga is very popular and practised both in the East and the West in various modified forms.  In reality however,  what usually happens is that most people practising meditation get bogged down in yogic exercises, the so called mudras and asanas,  and do not progress to the higher level of meditation – i.e. to achieve mental ‘serenity’ or ‘tranquillity’ for realizing God-consciousness, as prescribed by Hinduism.

It should be mentioned here that these mudras or asanas do have proven beneficial effects for restoring a person’s sound health.  But the main objective of meditation is to realize union of one’s self, one’s atman, with the omnipresent Brahman, that is to say the ultimate union of jivatma with Paramatma.  In Hinduism this experience is referred to as the attainment of moksha (salvation).

During meditation, the mind often wanders away and the meditator has to be constantly vigilant and bring the mind’s attention back again to focus on the objective - i.e. seek union with the Supreme.  The many techniques of meditation may be divided into two main forms –the first one involves thinking and focusing on a certain thought, idea or ideal; and the second, which is a more advanced form, requires emptying the mind of all random thoughts and entering into a state of inner silence.  It is a state of deep inner peace and awareness of one’s real being.  In essence, the two techniques are not different techniques but linked together : the first one will make it easier to progress on to the second advanced stage, the meditative state of mind which is the highest state in which mind will exist.

Regular practice of meditation beneficially affects one’s thinking, one’s behaviour, ensures a positive state of mind and attitude, as well as improving one’s health.  It also develops patience, tolerance, tranquillity, self-discipline and inner strength.  Meditation is a discipline and in order to reap all of its rewards, a certain degree of concentration is required as is will-power, perseverance and the willingness to devote time, effort and energy.

Preparation leading to the meditative stage:

The best time for meditation is in the morning which has certain advantages over meditation practised at other times of the day or night.  In the morning, the mind is quiet when one wakes up from the night’s rest.  Then too, the nature is quiet in the early morning and the city life is not yet fully active, noisy or stirring.  Consequently in the morning, one finds it easier to quieten the mind and concentrate using an icon or a symbol.  The best icon I can think of is the symbol \, AUM.  One may begin by focusing at the top left of the symbol and start scanning it downwards following the curved line until the eye reaches the bottom left end, and then retracing the path to reach the top left end.  By repeating the scanning of the symbol several times, the eye will remain focused on the icon and the mind shall reach a state of tranquility.  Devotional mmusic played in slow tempo may help the mind to engage in deep meditation.

Patanjali’s AshtangaYoga:

This is the true, original system of yogic science from which all modern day forms of yoga and meditation have developed.  It was compiled into the form of sutras (threads) by the great sage Patanjali.  The main eight stages with explanatory notes are given below.

  1. YAMA - Self restraints comprising Ahimsa - not causing pain to anyone; Satya – truth; Asteya – honesty; Brahmacharya - conserving vital energy and Aparigraha - being non greedy.
  2. NIYAMA – Observances comprising Saucha – cleanliness of the body and purity of the mind; Santosha – contentment; Tapas - practising austerity; Swadhyaya - self study and to be aware of life around and Ishvara;  Pranidhana - surrendering  to God
  3. ASANA – Yoga postures.
  4. PRANAYAMA – Gaining vital energy (prana) by breath control
  5. PRATIHARA – Withdrawal of the senses
  6. DHARANA – Concentration
  7. DHYANA - Meditation
  8. SAMADHI - Enlightenment   

A careful study of the above list will reveal that the eight items quoted are like eight steps or means for the systematic and gradual attainment of the ultimate, i.e. to gain enlightenment on the Supreme Self, Paramatma. The eight steps are to be followed in the sequence as given above and continued beyond the third step (i.e. yogic exercises). The items 1 to 6 are the necessary and useful preliminaries demanding strict observance of the rules:  self-purification, living a content life in a disciplined manner, performing yogic exercises, concentrating and endeavouring to become absorbed in  DHYANA (Meditation) as mentioned in item 7.  But the task should not end there since according to Hinduism, the aim of the whole exercise is to attain the highest step of SAMADHI.  On reaching this enlightened state, the meditator will feel his/her self has become completely merged with the Supreme Self, that is to say that the union of  jivatma with Paramatma has been realized.


In Hinduism, meditation is a religious act of offering prayer unto God and for many dedicated Hindus, practising meditation is a way of experiencing the Divine Presence within themselves.  So meditation has a spiritual dimension.  In the physical world, meditation can help humans to keep on enjoying a healthy body and a sound mind.  Medical science recognises the benefits of meditation practised as regular contemplative sessions, and recommends meditation as a therapy in treating patients suffering from stress-related diseases, with good results. Thus, Hinduism provides meditation both for our spiritual welfare and for our physical well-being.