Life itself is a series of sadhana (Sadhana is a practice undertaken in the pursuit of a goal). It is a key feature of human to perform sadhana throughout the life. However, there's a difference between the sadhana that one performs to achieve worldly materials and the sadhana that one does to achieve peace and happiness with enlightened soul. It is a lot easier to buy things with money. To earn we do sadhana, but the sadhana that one does to earn livelihood and the Sadhana that one does to achieve the true goal of life are quite different from each other. We may be perfect to learn the various formulas to make life successful; but this worldly life may not satiate the inner thrive for spiritual life, for which we need simple and practical sadhana that makes life happy, joyful and peaceful. A person with several responsibilities in life should always practice the following five simple and practical tools of sadhana.
Literally swadhyaya means study of self for spiritual awakening. It is well said, 'swadhyayanma pramada' which means no one should be careless in search of knowledge. It is also said, 'swadhyaya pravachanavyam na pramada'. This means that none should be careless about the study and speech. Those who do not have studied about their own self should not give mass speeches. One who studies sincerely and gives mass speeches, s/he can make a wider effect in the society.
The ultimate goal of swadhyaya is to attain spiritual development; but it can even help for professional development. Any good books, magazines and articles can help for the professional development. Professional development can enhance the job one does and ultimately serves the society. In the same way holy books help for the spiritual development. Spiritual development helps to enhance truth, love, cooperation, harmony and peace not only in a particular society but also throughout the world. This is why our eastern philosophy says, 'Sarve bhawantu sukhina, sarve santu niramaya, sarve bhadrani pashyantu, ma kaschid dukha bhagbhawet'.
If one does not get time to study several holy books, even the 'Geeta' is enough to lead a righteous path; even 'Vichar Vigyan' of Khaptad Baba is enough to lead a healthy life. In eastern philosophy you even need not read holy epics. If you deeply feel and understand 'Sankaracharya,' 'Buddha,' 'Swami Vivekananda,' 'Gandhi,' to name a few, you can change your life.
The Veda says, 'Reete Gyananna Mukti'. This means that there is no liberation without wisdom. To get wisdom one needs to have self-study - study of self i.e. study of supreme consciousness, study of universal energy and quantum itself.
The modern students say that swadhyaya one starts performing after 60 is absolutely wrong. And, a few scholars often believe that swadhyaya is for prime of life which should be carried out right from the early age. One needs to know the art of time management rather than complaining about time and age. Those who don't understand the real meaning of swadhyaya may be highly educated with bookish knowledge, but they can be uproar inside. Pseudo happiness is sure to engulf these people.
Sadhana is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. There are many people running for materialistic happiness, but rarely few for the everlasting happiness. Materials can just provide facilities but not long-lasting peace and comfort. One who does sadhana never has to moan; s/he remains just as usual even in ups and downs and the smile never fades either in scorching sun or in stormy rainy dark night. This is why the Geeta says,
'Santusta satatam yogi yatatma dridhanischaya
Maearpitamanobuddhiryo madbhakta sa me priya
Santoshi, nitya-yuktatma, samyami dridhanischaya
Mana-buddhi mama rakhe, bhakta mero chha tyo priya.'
According to the paths that we are following, sadhana can vary. Generally sadhana can be divided into three:
The sadhana that one does obeying the professional ethics during professional life is professional sadhana. Professional sadhana is highly required for each and every one who wants to have an appropriate development rather than quick promotion. For quick promotion one can cheat and persuade the boss with his/her work; but one who practices sadhana may not want a promotion, but keeps enjoying the work s/he does. Those who enjoy the work most can only make his/her institution develop constantly. So, sadhana is required in every profession.
Yoga is commonly known generic term for physical, mental and spiritual wellness. Yoga sadhana itself is a holistic sadhana. It is a holistic life style. Maharshi Patanjali has formulated eight main branches of yoga. They are:
Asana (correct posture)
Pranayama (breathing exercise)
Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses from external objects)
Samadhi (Salvation / oneness with the objects through meditation)
Our life can be connected with the supreme consciousness if we can follow each of the above branches of yoga correctly. In this busy modern world if we can only practice asana, pranayama and dhyana correctly, we will be able to keep ourselves aloof from many diseases such as physical, mental and social. This is also proven by Guru Gorakhnath who preaches 'Sadanga yoga' (six branches of yoga) in the holy epics 'Vivekamartanda':
Aasanena rujam hanta pranayamena patakam
Bikaram manasam yogi pratyaharena munchati
Navhijanati sitoshnam na dukham na sukham tatha
Na manam napamanam cha yogi yukta samadhina.
Asana treats all the diseases, pranayama treats sins and pratyahara treats mental diseases. Similarly, a yogi / a spiritually awakened person is detached from all the worldly worries and happiness, pride and prejudices.
A mantra is a sound, a word or a group of words that is considered capable of creating transformation. Mantra sadhana is also important for controlling the mind and this practice protects us from various evils. Lord Krishna says, 'abhyasena tu kaunteya baeragenacha guehyate,' which means that constant practice of mantra sadhana is a very effective technique to control the mind. This is why it is said, 'Mananat trayate yat tat mantram'. It means that just the earnest remembrance of the mantras can protect us from bad kismet.
Each person in the world has become terribly busy with their daily assignment. Due to competition and stress of work, people are losing the stability of mind. We are losing the balance of life and have got entangled by the worldly affairs. Mantra sadhana guides us towards dynamic way of living where body, mind and heart meet leading towards self realization. Some famous and simple mantras are:
Panchakchhari mantra (five words mantra): Om Namah Shivaya
Dwadasakchhari mantra (twelve words mantra): Om Namo Bhagawate Basudewaya
Sodasakchhari mantra (sixteen words mantra): Hare Ram Hare Ram, Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Satsanga has been derived from the Sanskrit word where 'sat' means true and 'sanga' means company. Therefore, the etymological meaning of satsanga is the company of the highest truth. The company of a guru, listening to or reading scriptures, reflecting before acting, discussing and finding out the eternal truth and putting it into daily life is satsanga.
In the following verses Jagad Guru Sankaracharya says the first school of any practitioner of sadhana is satsanga:
Simply satsanga means right company with right people for the right cause. Each of us have an ego which governs us during various time and situation; but when we are in right company and work for the right cause, the ego slowly dissolves with brahma (quantum). The Veda says 'aham brahmasmi' which means that I am the supreme consciousness (quantum) and that each of us can achieve the state of brahma only if we can have true satsanga. Lord Buddha also says 'sunyabad' which means 'emptiness' - free from any worldly aspirations. Guru Gorakhnath defines satsanga as:
Hansae khelae na kare man bhanga, te nihachala sada natha ke sanga.
Satsanga purifies the mind and soul as bathing helps to have a clean body. Satsanga makes this life as a lotus flower which blooms through mud but remains mud-less. Therefore, satsanga is necessary for every aged people.
Sadachar means right conduct. It is often known as good moral character. A person with good character is respected and taken as a role model but a person who does not have a right conduct is taken as a worse form of humankind. It is said that 'Acharah paramo dharmah'. This explains that developing a good character is the utmost duty of each individual and it is regarded the highest form of religion. Religion does not mean to follow some unseen powers but it is to build up the right conduct in life. Only the person with right conduct can change the society. A person with good character can think far and wide. A person possessing good character becomes a change that s/he wants to see in the society. That's why the world respects and worships Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, Rama Krishna Paramhansha, Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi and the like.
Sadachar not only makes one known to the world but also can influence people around and effectively transform the society. Saint Kabir was an illiterate but he is known to date. Similarly, Swami Ram Krishna Paramhansa was illiterate but his sadachar not only made him known to the world but also transformed Narendra Duutta into a world famous Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda then shared with the people of the world the light of good conduct and selfless karma. It is crystal clear that a person who possesses a good conduct can burn himself as a candle and keeps lighting others by spreading the message of love, truth, peace, harmony, respect and service.
'Swam swam charitram sikchheran prithivyam sarvamanawa.' The current education couldn't encompass the values based education. Every child should be inculcated with value based education. Only value based education can shape a better individual equipped with good virtues. And, such a person with good virtues has a quality of binding everything together harmoniously as water can transform the mixture of cement, iron and stones into a concrete structure - a strong foundation - that creates a safe place to live in for everyone. This is why one should abide by the following four different ashrams in life that effectively and successfully assist to have a balanced, meaningful and beneficial life:
Brahmacharya ashram (celibacy life for self-study): up to the age of 25 years
Grihastha ashram (married and responsible life): from the age of 26 to 50 years
Vanaprastha ashram (retirement from worldly desires): from the age of 56 to 75 years
Sanyasa ashram (spiritual pursuits and renunciation): from the ager of76 to 100 years
One who follows the four ashrams is able to flourish the good virtues within oneself and can be an exemplary figure in the world and he will then be recognized and received by everyone as a real sadhak (one who practices sadhana).
Sewa (service) is soul of the philosophy of eastern civilization. That's why it is said, 'Gyanam bhara kriya bina,' which means knowledge that does not make one service oriented, is treacherous. Service can make one free from bondages and desires. Service to humanity is service to God. Vedavyasa (a Hindu saint) says, 'paropakaraya punyaya papaya parapidanam,' which means service leads to renunciation while troubling others is a sin. Service elevates us from lower level of the level of sadhana – the highest form of achievement in life. One needs to bear in mind that the service performed should be neutral or unconditional or selfless. Service should not be catered with an expectation. Service with expectation is a desire.
People often get the wrong impression of service. Many think service is wealthy people's job because it is the money that is required for service to ohters. No, it is not the money necessary for service; money is just a means that may provide facilities. But, what is rather necessary is clear and pure heart which is upmost for service. Service has to be for poor and needy, not for mere popularity. Service in fact is not for others but it is for oneself. Serving needy and poor is serving God who exists in the soul of everyone. Serving others means serving God that exists in one's own soul. 'aatmano hitaya jagad hitaya cha.'
A true server frees him/herself from the desires and reaches the upper level of sadhana. And, they see the presence of the same supreme soul in each and every creature on the earth. S/he can balance all the emotions – a fully awakened person. Service has to be exhibited in every walk of life and the only greatest way to follow the religion is serving others in need. 'sewa hi paramo dharma.'