Guidance About Practicing Sant Mat, by Swami Harinandan Baba
English rendering of a discourse of Swami Harinandan Baba, the current Acharya (Teacher) of Santmat headquartered at Maharshi Mehi Ashram, Kuppaghat, Bhagalpur, Bihar, India; Swami Harinandan Baba succeeded Maharshi Santsevi Ji Paramhans in June 2007. The Hindi discourse has been excerpted from, “Shanti Sandesh” (the Message of Peace), published by Maharshi Mehi Ashram, Kuppaghat, Bhagalpur, Bihar.
– Translation from Hindi into English Provided by Pravesh K. Singh:
Evils in the World Are Committed Because of Our Unmindfulness
“jhUTh-mUTh khelai sach-much hoy, sach-much khelai biralA koy | jo koi khelai man-chit lAy, hote hote hoiye jAy ||” [We begin with just trying to meditate, driven often by curiosity. Those who are truly serious and perfect at meditation are very rare to find. However, anyone who perseveres with honest, dedicated attempts, eventually does attain perfection.]
Initially when we sit in meditation, ‘dhyAn’ [true meditation, all encompassing concentration] does not take place; it is as if we are pretending to meditate. But as we tenaciously persist sincerely with our practice, one day dhyAn does happen in its true sense. Otherwise those are extremely rare to find who can do dhyAn perfectly. DhyAn has been described as “dhyAnam shUnyagatam manah” (Dhyan means the mind getting completely void of any thoughts or agitations). He who can accomplish perfect dhyAn finds that his mind has become empty. Thus Sants exhort us not to sit in the lap of disappointment (if we don’t succeed in meditation) but to persevere whether dhyAn is effected or not. Suppose there is a servant who discharges all the services to his master with utmost sincerity without asking for any salary or food. Do you think that the master would not give such a servant any food or remuneration? Rather he would himself say, “Come on! You have been working for a long time. Have some food at first. You have not even asked for any remuneration. Here is your salary.” Wouldn’t he? Now, when a worldly master can give his sincere servant food and salary without being asked for, would the Supreme Lord keep your wages in arrears? But yes, our faith should be so strong and unwavering that we go on doing our duty rightfully irrespective of whether we get something in return or not.
This faith, loyalty and dedication precisely are the proof of your honesty. We should forsake neither three times meditation a day nor satsang (company of noble people). Those who develop the habit of attending satsang daily, feel as if they have committed some crime if they somehow miss satsang, even for a single day. Similar is the state of those who practice meditation regularly. If they don’t sit in meditation as scheduled, they feel restless as if something really important has gone amiss, feel bereft of mental peace. Another thing is that only they who meditate regularly find concentration and genuine pleasure in it. Which is why, our Guru Maharaj (Maharshi Mehi Paramhans Ji Maharaj) would say, “Attend satsang daily, and meditate daily as well”. If you could fix and strictly observe a particular routine for meditation, that would be even better. Get up at 3 AM, also known as ‘Brahma Muhurta’. There is no disturbance at this hour. Ambiance, also, is perfectly calm. This is the best time for meditation. But only those, who observe restraint in their diet, would be able to wake up at this time. They, who eat late in the night, eat too much can not wake up in Brahma Muhurt. Sants, therefore, advise us to control our diet first of all if we want to succeed in meditation, if we aspire to achieve something. You should not hanker after eating, eating and eating. You see, we have to eat for the whole of our life. And, God provides food to everybody.
Eat a little less than you can. For the benefit of those who wish to take advantage of meditation, Sant Charan Das Ji has said,
“din ko hari sumiran karo, rain jAgi kar dhyAn | bhUkh rAkhi bhojan karo, taji sovan ko bAn.||”
In the above couplet he exhorts us, “Be in constant remembrance of God during daytime while discharging your worldly duties, and meditate keeping awake in the night.” How will this become possible? He says, “bhUkh rAkhi bhojan karo” which means, “stop eating even as there is some appetite still left”; only then would it be possible to keep awake and meditate in night. This may give rise to apprehension in one’s mind: how is it possible that I work during daytime, exercise dietary control and not sleep in the night? For such people (who lead a hectic daily worldly life) Charandas Ji relaxes the conditions a bit:
“chAri pahar nahi jagi sakai, Adhi rAt sUn jAg | dhyAn karo jap hI karau, bhajan karan kUn lAg || jo nahi sardhA dopahar, pichhale pahare chet |uTh baiTho raTanA raTo, prabhu suN lAvahu het || jAgai nA pichhale pahar, karai na guru mat jAp | munh fAre sovat rahei, tAkUn lAge pAp ||” [If you can’t keep awake for the whole night, wake up at least at midnight, and do meditation by repeated recitation of the given mantra and do dhyAn. If even this be not possible, at least rise in the last quarter of night (also called `brahma muhurt’), sit up, chant His name and get connected to Him. He who does not wake up even in the last quarter of night and chant the mantra given by the Guru keeps sleeping, he earns sin (in his karmic account)].
At the time of taking initiation, remember that we had also taken a vow to shun avoidable karmas and perform righteous acts. All sinful acts are avoidable acts, while noble deeds consist in attending satsang, meditation, service to Guru and altruism. We had resolved to obey the instructions of our Guru and to do everything possible with our body, mind and wealth to promote Sant Mat. We commit sin by disobeying Guru’s commandments. We should stand guards against committing this sin. We must get up in Brahma Muhurt, or else we would be deprived of the great benefits that accrue from it. Brahma Muhurt has also been described as `amrit velA’ (the elixir or divine time). For those who wake up in this divine period, it has been said,
“jo jAge so pAve, jo sove so khove” [He who wakes up in time makes valuable gains, while he who keeps sleeping stands out to lose miserably.]
Those who rise in the Brahma Muhurt and meditate go on accumulating or crediting auspicious fruits in their karmic account, and those who are lazy frittering away their time in sleeping lose this valuable wealth. An additional benefit of waking up in this period is that the atmosphere is relatively pure & healthy, as the old Hindi proverb goes,
“vaidya kI sau davA, bhor kI ek hawA” [Air inhaled in the early hours is as effective as a hundred medicines prescribed by the doctor.]
Thus we ought to practice meditation in the Brahma Muhurt. Next we should meditate immediately after bathing. Bathing results in a cooler mind which facilitates better concentration during meditation. Then again, in the evening after finishing all worldly duties, we should wash our hands and feet and sit in meditation. Respected mothers have to do cooking at home. They should meditate and then take up cooking. Meditation quietens the mind which leads to better quality of cooking. If food is cooked after having bath and meditation, it gets purer and tastier. We should be very scrupulous about the purity of our conduct as well. It takes, you see, a sacred vessel to store a holy article. Likewise, God manifests himself in a pure heart. So purify your body and heart. This body is like a temple wherein Lord Vishnu and Lordess Lakshmi reside. This body is like a temple wherein Lord Shiva and Lordess Parvati (Shakti) reside.
Meditation within this body fetches several supernatural attainments. This body is a temple. Those who meditate on `bindu’ (Luminous Divine Point) and `nAda’ (Divine Sound) acquire these powers.
Therefore, keep this body as sacred as possible so as to be fit to be a temple for Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. It is very essential, therefore, to maintain a pure living and pure eating. Learn to be content with whatever you have. It is not possible for everyone in this world to be blessed with equal means of comfort. Everyone gets wealth and comfort in accordance with his own karma.
A father has four sons. He distributes his property equally among them. But they don’t prosper equally. Some grow richer, while some other might slide down into penury. Some leads a happy luxurious life, while the other is gripped by sickness. Why so? – Because we are living the consequences of our own actions. We get according to our merit. If you are leading a life of comfort, do not be arrogant. Consider wealth to be God’s ‘mAyA’ (illusion) and devote it to auspicious activities. Such an opportunity is provided by God Himself. Kabir Sahab has stated,
“Kabir mAyA Ram kI, modI sab sansAr |jAko chiTThi utarI, soi kharachana hAr ||” [All the (shows of) wealth and property in this world belong to Ram, the people are merely the storekeepers. | He whose name figures in the draw of lot gets to spend it. ||]
In spite of being blessed with opulence all are not able to spend it in noble ventures, whereas there are even such people who have so little and yet have the heart to part away with a portion of their possession. Who would reap the benefit eventually? Naturally the latter, the benevolent ones; and yes, they get several times more in return. Just as a farmer sows certain quantity of seeds on field, but harvests crop which is many times more than he had sowed. Now just think of a farmer who starts worrying even before sowing seeds – what would he eat if he put in 40 kg of wheat or paddy in the farm, then what would happen to such a person?
This world, too, is said to be a farm field of actions. The type of seed (in the form of our actions) we sow in it, we reap a matching harvest. If you sow good seeds, you will get good fruits; and if you sow seeds of misdeeds or evil deeds the fruits thereof would also be equally unpalatable. Therefore, commit no sin, perform virtuous acts. Spend the wealth at your command in noble acts. Which is a noble or auspicious act? – That which benefits several people. For instance, if a Satsang Hall is built, it is an auspicious act because the teachings of Sants are taught and discussed here which do a lot of good to a lot of people, to the society at large. Similarly constructing schools, colleges, hospitals etc. are auspicious acts, for many generations are given education and treatment here. Spend your money in such acts. They, who invest their money in virtuous works (while they are still alive) and will a judicious distribution of their property among their off springs to facilitate an easy life for the latter, are truly the fortunate ones. But keep one thing in mind. However much you leave in legacy to your sons they would be able to retain only as much as they are worth. If your son is not capable or worthy, he could very well end up losing all he got from you. So, don’t think much on this count. Spend your wealth in auspicious acts which is your duty. It, however, does not imply that you should ignore the interests of your parents, sons, daughters, wife, etc…. Ensuring their upkeep in the fittest manner is your bounden duty. So strike a balance. This will give you good name in this world & this life; this would also ensure a good after life. Sants teach us to learn the right art of living. Live in a way that people sing your praises after you have left this world. Those lives alone have been meaningful about who people say nice things even at their back. Such people who are criticized and cursed after they are no more, they have lived a miserable life here and are destined for a wretched after-life as well. Sants preach that if we want to be happy in both this world and the other world, we should live a life of restraint and perform noble acts.
Do Simran — Do the Meditation
By Swami Harinandan Baba
– Translation from Hindi into English Provided by Pravesh K. Singh
Perform virtuous acts, you will receive happiness. Also do ‘sumiran’ (remembering God’s name, or meditating on the Divine Sound) regularly. The biggest advantage of ‘sumiran’ is that we do not have to pass through the painful cycle of 8.4 million species again. Those who perform true worship of God, meditate on His name, are rid of the cycle of transmigration. The condition is that meditation be done with utmost regularity. Get initiation from an adept Guru, meditate thrice daily. Whether you see anything (during meditation) or not, never ever discontinue meditation. Initially, it might appear to be a mere show, a ‘useless’ exercise. People often say that they are going to do ‘dhyan’, but dhyan does not happen in the very beginning. Dhyan is in fact the seventh limb of eight-fold Yoga* (as enunciated by Patanjali). We have to start with ‘yam’, ** ‘niyam’, ‘Asan’, ‘prANAyAm’, ‘pratyAhAr’; then comes ‘dhyAn’. Dhyan is followed by ‘samAdhi’ (the highest state of meditation) which is the eighth limb of yoga. So dhyan does not happen initially. First we make an attempt to do dhyan, and this process is called ‘dhyAn AbhyAs’ (practice of dhyan).
NOTES About the Practices and Ahimsa Ethics
* The Eight Limbs of Yoga-Stairway to Heaven – these steps and stages of ascension are used to varying degrees fairly universally by Eastern spiritual paths:
** Ethical Foundation – The Five Precepts: Two and a half hours of meditation per day, and ethcial precepts of Ahisma (non-violence in thought, word, and deed):
1) Refrain from taking the life of sentient beings. This precept requires strict adherence to a vegan or lacto-vegetarian diet. No meat, fish, poultry or eggs (fertilized or non-fertilized).
2) Refrain from speaking what is not true.
3) Refrain from taking what is not offered.
4) Refrain from sexual misconduct.
5) Refrain from the use of intoxicants. This includes avoiding all poisons of any kind, such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gambling, pornography, and excessively violent films or literature.
*** Below is on Daily Meditation, Ethical Precepts, and Eight Limbs of Yoga in the book, Philosophy of Liberation, by Sant Maharshi Mehi:
88. Yama consists of five disciplines: satya (truthfulness), ahimsa (non-violence), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacarya (continence), and aparigraha (control of greed or non-possessiveness).
Niyama also consists of five practices, which are the following: sauca (internal and external purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (penance), svadhyaya (study of spiritual matters) and lsvara pranidhana (meditation on God).
89. In following Yama and Niyama, one exercises aversion from the five sins, serves the spiritual master, attends satsang, and practices meditation as referred to in section 60.
90. A comfortable asana (a pose of sitting or posture) of keeping the head, neck and trunk straight and steady is a must for meditation. Without the ability to sit in such a steady posture for prolonged periods, meditation cannot be practiced.
91. Meditation should be practiced being alert, without being drowsy, shutting the eyes comfortably and without turning the eyeballs or pressing them in any way.
92. The practice of meditation should be an essential part of the practitioner’s daily routine. The preferred time of meditation is Brahmamuhurta ([Hour of God: Brahma-mu-hurta, or Amrit Veela: Hours of Elixir]: very early in the morning: 3:00/4:00 A.M.). Likewise one should meditate at mid-morning and then again in the evening time. While falling asleep, one should also engage his mind in meditation. Further, it is good to practice Manas japa [Simran] or Manas dhyana [Dhyan] while working.
93. Before learning the Nadanusandhana (meditation on inner Sound) in practicing Manas japa (mantra repetition), Manas dhyana (focusing on the form of the master or deity) and Drshti Yoga ([inner Light meditation in the Third Eye Center or Eye-Focus] focusing on a Point that is practicing one-pointedness), one should meditate with eyes and mouth shut. Upon learning Nadanusandhana (Yoga of Sound [Inner Sound meditation]) from the Master, one should also close the ears.
94……….In the initial stages of dhyana (absolute concentration), pratyahara is practiced. [Note: Pratyahara means to bring back. Bringing back or refocusing one’s attention during meditation, bringing the mind distracted by worldly thoughts back to the Focal Point during meditation.] Through the means of pratyahara, the mind is brought back repeatedly to the Focal Point. By this constant practice of pratyahara, one is eventually able to concentrate for a short period on the Focal Point. This state of concentration is called dharana (steadiness of concentration or absorption). When absorption is maintained for longer and longer periods of time, then it is dhyana (absolute concentration). Then in this state of dhyana, one is able to grasp the Streams of spiritual Sounds (described in section 60) and finally achieves samadhi (Unity [Union, Absorption, Oneness in deep meditation]). Drshti Yoga (seeing the inner Light—the Yoga of Vision) will greatly facilitate pratyahara and dharana… ////////