In the previous episode, we had witnessed yet another important aspect of “Dharma” called “Keertanam”, as narrated by Sage Sukhaachaarya to King Parikshit. This, as we discussed yesterday, is a “follow-up” of the previous aspect of “Dharma” called “Shravanam”. Thus, the first step is to cultivate the habit of listening to Bhagawan’s divine names, develop the interest in experiencing the beauty of Bhagawan’s divine “Leelas”, etc. As we develop this interest, we should gradually move into the next stage wherein we start singing Bhagawan’s divine names with ardent devotion. When we talk about “Keertanam”, it involves chanting of “Mantras”, recitation of Bhagawan’s divine stories, singing songs, hymns, slokas, etc. in praise of Bhagawan, etc. Thus, “Keertanam” is an integrated effort to attain Bhagawan and as ardent followers of our “Sanaatana Dharma”, we should strive forward to implement it in our daily lives.
If we look at it in a way of attaining spiritual growth, all these aspects of “Shravanam”, “Keertanam”, and few other aspects that we’re going to discuss henceforth, are “conditioners” for our mind. As we gradually involve our mind in all these aspects of “Dharma”, it would slowly get devoid of all the external disturbances that are plaguing us in today’s scenario. Thus, if we’re practicing these aspects of “Dharma” meticulously, our mind slowly starts getting cleansed and gets ready for threading along the spiritual path. We should always remember time and again that walking along the spiritual path is not an easy job in any case. It needs enormous amounts of determination (“Vairaagya”), perseverance, patience and devotion towards Bhagawan. This process requires lot of cleansing of our mind and this is exactly the reason behind Sage Sukhaachaarya giving lot of importance to such aspects of “Dharma”.
Moving on thus with the twenty-fifth aspect of “Dharma”, Sage Sukhaachaarya now talks about yet another important point called “Smaranam” or “Thinking”. This forms the third follow-up aspect of “Dharma” after “Shravanam” and “Keertanam”. “Smaranam” implies that we should constantly fill our mind with thoughts about Bhagawan, His divine names, meanings of His divine names, some background stories from which these names were derived, etc. As we develop these thoughts constantly and gradually, we move into a meditative state. This is an extremely important aspect, which many people emphasize in today’s world – Meditation.
Now what is this meditation all about? We’ve of course witnessed a brief background as to how do we get into this meditative state. Let us discuss this in a bit of detail here. Meditation is a process wherein we’re able to focus our mind on one object constantly for a definitive period of time. Of course, for ordinary people like us, we tend to meditate for a few minutes, however, for spiritually realized people like “Mahatmas”, meditation is their way of life! It should be noted here that Spiritual Masters, highly realized “Gurus” and “Aachaaryas” spend every minute of their lives in meditation and penance towards their favorite deity. Now the question arises as to how do we practice this meditation? Of course, many of us might be aware that, to practice meditation, one should sit on the floor with eyes closed and should try focusing on a deity of his/her own choice. This is exactly the procedure for performing the meditation process, but there are few things that we should understand beyond this.
An individual goes through the process of “Meditation” in different phases. Initially when we sit down for meditating upon our favorite deity for a small time period, say 10 minutes, would we be able to totally focus on our deity for all the ten minutes? The answer is “No”! It is only during those ten minutes of time, our mind would wander from India to America to Africa to Australia to Japan and to Europe! 😊 Even though we might start focusing on Bhagawan’s image or portrait or whatever might be our choice, it is very difficult for us to concentrate on it. This is where we need constant and meticulous practice. We need to first identify an image of Bhagawan, irrespective of whichever deity it might be and should develop a liking towards that image by constantly looking at it for some time. As we keep looking at the image, we should slowly internalize that beautiful image into our mind and heart. This is the most difficult part here and this is where our meticulous practice is required. This internalization process would take considerable amount of time. Of course, the time taken would depend upon the capacity of the individual and is subjective in nature. For instance, some people might be able to achieve this internalization within just a span of minutes, whereas some people might even take months to achieve it. However, even though this internalization process might consume more time, the important point here is that, we should never give up. We should constantly keep trying and at one point, we would surely achieve this internalization.
Once we internalize our deity, it becomes easier for us to transcend into the third phase. So far we’ve witnessed two phases of meditation – Phase one involving our preparatory stage wherein we try and sit at one place, close our eyes, etc. Phase two involves the attempt to capture Bhagawan’s image in our mind and trying to think about it repeatedly. This is the preparatory phase for the internalization process. Third phase is the internalization, wherein, our thinking and mental activity slowly starts getting streamlined towards the internalized image of Bhagawan. Once the internalization process happens, we would be able to traverse into a state of unending bliss and this is the fourth phase of the meditation process. Once we’re able to traverse to this phase, there is no looking back! We’re totally engrossed into Bhagawan and the “Dharma” called “Smaranam” gets fulfilled!
This is exactly what Sage Sukhaachaarya is talking about here. By narrating these aspects of “Dharma” in a sequence, Sage Sukhaachaarya is indirectly preparing all of us to experience the unending bliss of Bhagawan, through our spiritual practices. We should thus realize it and start doing the needful immediately! So for today, let us understand these four phases of meditation, as part of the “Smaranam” aspect of “Dharma” as narrated by Sage Sukhaachaarya! We shall wait till the next episode to witness the next aspect of “Dharma” as we move on! Stay tuned! 😊