What is Sadhana?

As soon as one hears the word Sadhana one thinks of sitting with closed eyes for a particular purpose. One thinks Sadhana means to sit in a particular posture, with eyes closed, with a rosary in the right hand, a Yantra placed before oneself and a Mantra on one’s lips that is to chanted for a certain number of times for a certain number of days. One chooses the deity, one chooses the Mantra, one chooses the Yantra, the Sadhana posture and the clothes and that does it! Now one has to just sit on the mat and mechanically recite the Mantra. That is Sadhana!
But just think! Is this Sadhana? Is Sadhana limited to this? First of all one has to delve deep and find out if one has risen to that level of consciousness from where the path of Sadhana becomes so clear and from where on all one’s efforts are directed for the good of the soul and the masses.
If we are really sincere then we do not need a very great amount of intelligence or wisdom to realise the truth. The fact is that our efforts towards Sadhana are no more than a sham in the absence of awakening of the conscience. We think that doing some ritual for selfish ends is Sadhana. But when our great Rishis devised this word then surely the word Sadhana did not have such a limited meaning.
What is the real form of Sadhana?
If we think deeply we shall find that  Sadhana is another name for an effort to move on the path of universal good. For first appeasing a deity one has to control the self. Here the term controlling the self does not mean curbing the senses or using Hatth Yoga or Kriya Yoga. The meaning is very clear and easy. The first step in Sadhana consists of  thinking of one’s own good and working to achieve it. The feeling of universal good is also linked to this very desire.
Now the question arises how one can strive for good of the self and universal welfare?
There is a famous saying –
Ek Saadhe Sab Sadhe Sab Saadhe Sab Jaay
By concentrating fully on one subject one can control everything.
Our first aim should be to make ourselves capable. The first duty is the realisation of the self. One has to concentrate one’s thoughts, feelings and energy in one direction for the good of the self. One has to try with full devotion for this end only. One has to direct all one’s thoughts towards this goal.
In our life we also have to take care of our duties in the material sphere. We sure have to give time and energy to these too. It would not at all be right to ignore one’s duties. And that which is not right cannot be for one’s good.
But one factor does confuse a person. And that is the factor of age. One has very limited age. The time span between one’s birth and death is very limited. One has to achieve everything in this period and one has to do it with full concentration.
In order to fulfil various tasks one has to divide time and allocate a few hours to each chore. Our time also gets shared between relatives and friends. Due to this division the real aim of life gets missed. It seems impossible to harmonise all tasks. Different tasks require different action, thought and different approach. It seems really beyond one’s capability to strike a harmony between them.
If one is feeling hungry one shall have to go to the kitchen, one shall have to cook, one shall have to eat the food. Only then shall the hunger be satisfied. If one feels hungry and decides to meditate will the hunger be satisfied? No, instead it shall become even more intense.
Hence it can be seen that different things cannot be harmonised. There shall always be different tasks in life and there shall always be different types of people around you. When there are so many different things around, then how is it possible to concentrate on one subject?
Well, one could be performing different tasks but the final goal in one’s mind could be one. One only has to see in which direction our thoughts are flowing. And when dealing with these tasks of the material sphere the more one thinks of them as a duty the more one becomes burdened by them and the more terrible they seem. Then we get caught in a mire from which there seems to be no escape. Sometimes our aim is to get education, some time it is to earn wealth and fame, some time it is to get children, some time to have a glimpse of the Lord, some time to have perfect health and some time to have all pleasures and comforts. When our aims are so varied, we are not able to fulfil even one. Varied aims lead to losing in all. All our efforts then go in vain.
Then how can one work for the universal welfare?
One should remember and take a pledge to devote all one’s actions and efforts in all varied fields towards the fulfilment of one chief goal. One should think that all one’s efforts are devoted to one’s deity. One should believe that one is acting to please the deity and for no other purpose. One should always keep in mind that we are acting on the directions of the Lord. Even when we get up in the morning and go through the routine cleansing process we should not consider it a task done for the self but we should think that the body is the temple of the soul and the Lord and it is a duty for us to clean it and keep it well maintained so that the Lord is comfortable in it. One should put an end to the feeling of I-ness and devote all one’s actions to the Lord. One is bound by Karma not by doing some action but because one feels that one is doing it.
We are not living for the self, no action of ours is for the self. We belong to the Lord. Even the body belongs to him. The different people around us are all the Lord’s different forms and in them one can view the divine form of the Lord.  Even the smallest particle in the world is instilled with the infinity of the universe – the macrocosm in the microcosm. Similarly the Lord has instilled a bit of his own divinity in everyone around us. Hence all our actions are not for us but for the Lord. This should be our continuous thought.
There should be no action in our lives that is not devoted to the Lord. All actions should be for the Supreme. Even when one is eating food it should be with the thought – ‘The Lord is feeling hungry and I am eating this food to satisfy him.’
There is no action in this world that is not directed by the Lord. Even if we have not experienced this truth we should start believing in it. If we force ourselves to believe in it then  slowly our perception shall change and shall become more universal and for the good of all.
All actions are for the Lord. In this universe He is the Divine Conscience. All our time is for him alone. All that we do is to serve him. Even if our actions are so varied they are devoted to the Lord, be it going to the office, eating food, visiting the temple or having a bath. In the beginning trying to nurture this thought continuously might seem to be very difficult but it is not impossible. All one has to do is merge one’s feeling of I-ness into the Supreme omnipresent element. Even when one has to rest, it should not be with the feeling that one is tired and has to relax but because one has to lie peacefully and thank the Lord for the successful completion of another day. One has to thank Him for choosing us to accomplish a few chosen tasks in the world. One has to thank him for considering one fit enough for the work. One has to pray to him. If one has this thought before one closes the eyes and enters into blissful sleep then this process of sleeping too would not be a mere means of resting but would become a prayer in itself.
Remember, every great revolution in this world has started with first the rise of its thought in some human mind. Hence the need is to bring about a change in the way of one’s thinking. One has to devote the self. One has to give up the feeling of satisfying the self  through any action. In all our actions there should be but one thought and that is to do good for all and to work for the Lord. One should give up selfish thoughts and should put an end to the feeling of I-ness.
Our brothers, sisters, friends, parents, spouse, relatives and the people in the society are all human. But who are they?
All of them are but bits of divinity. They are all moulded in the form of the Lord. In this Nature too there is the form of the Lord all around us. Hence one should serve all of them with the thought that one is serving the Lord. If we give pain to someone, if we are not able to make someone happy then we should feel guilty. The action that makes one truly joyous and that brings good to all is the right action. There can be no doubt about this.
One should look around and think that the Lord is present in everyone. All have a bit of the Lord’s divinity in them. One should think – ‘And all of them are equally lovable for me and I should work for the good of all of them.’ One should devote one’s body, wealth, mind, thoughts, actions with a feeling of brotherhood for the good of the people all around. One should devote all actions for the Lord. One should not become possessive about anything. Even if one does it should be with the thought – ‘I need this object for the work of the Lord.’
It is said – Charity begins at home. If one is able to work for others it shall lead to universal good. There should be no moment in life that is not devoted to the Lord. There should be no action that is not for him. There should be no person around, whom we do not consider as the son of the Lord.
And when this happens a miracle occurs. Even though one has been engrossed in different actions one’s thoughts are directed to but one aim.
Tasmaat Sarveshu Kaaleshu Maamnusmar Yudhya Cha
Gita 8/7
This is the meaning of this line that all our actions should be for the happiness of the Lord. In the Gita Lord Krishna said to Arjun – Get up and fight. Fight for me.
When direction comes straight from the Lord one need not contemplate whether one’s actions are just or not, good or not.
But even unconsciously one should not do anything which we do not expect others to do. One should try one’s best not to bring pain to anyone.  One should always try to act with pure thoughts not for one’s own selfish ends but for bringing comfort to others. One should merge all one’s desires in the will of the Lord. Even if one sees misfortune in one’s own life one should think that it is the will of the Lord and for the best.
To explain this better here is a wonderful anecdote. Once some people were travelling in a boat. Suddenly there was a storm and the boat started to change course.  All the passengers started to cry for help. Among them was a saint. He held a tumbler in one of his hands. He started to fill the tumbler and empty it into the boat chanting  – Sita-Ram, Sita Ram.
The others were infuriated by his irrational behaviour and thought he was mad.  The storm was itself forcing water into the boat and here there was this man filling it with more water. But the din of the storm and the need to cling on for dear life prevented anyone from protesting or preventing him from doing so.
After some time the storm eased. The boat resumed its course. The passengers started to utter prayers to the Lord for saving their lives. The saint started to again chant Sita-Ram, Sita-Ram and emptying the boat with his tumbler.
Now this was too much. One of them shouted – ‘Are you mad or what? What have you been doing. When the boat was about to capsize you started to fill it with more water. And when now there is no such danger you are emptying it. What is the reason for this?’
The saint said – ‘There is nothing unreasonable about my actions. When the Lord willed a storm and wanted the boat to capsize I started to help him in the task and filled the boat with more water. And when he willed that we be saved I again bowed to his will and am helping him in the task. If the boat is loaded with water. Won’t the Lord have a hard time preventing us from capsizing?’
It is not a question of living or dying. The saint only considered it his duty to merge his own will with that of the Lord. This is the first sign of a real Sadhak that he finds harmony even in a state of disharmony.
What if adverse circumstances present themselves in our lives? Well, we should feel happy always. Maybe there is some good hidden even in adverse situations.
If there are pain, affliction and problems in his life the Sadhak should thank the Lord. It is said that problems, pain, poverty come into one’s life due to one’s past Karmas. Then what is bad about working out one’s bad Karmas? The bad Karmas are only going to become less and this should be a source of joy. Should one cry or feel happy?
It is the grace of the Lord that one’s evil Karmas are getting depleted and one is getting purified. Whenever there is pain one should feel joyous that the Lord is being kind and he is making one pure.
Jo Tape Vahi Tapasvi
One who goes through the fire of problems and adversities without flinching is a true Sadhak.
The Lord is freeing one of all impurities and evils before embracing one in his loving arms. This is a very good omen. There can be nothing bad in it.
The Sadhak should always believe that everything is happening with the will of the Lord and he should always feel contented. Everything in this universe is in the control of the Lord and all our actions too are due to his wish. Nurturing this thought should be one’s goal. When this happens the entire life becomes a Sadhana, every action in it becomes devoted to the Lord.
Sarveshu Kaaleshu Maanusmar Yatkshannam Yanmuhuratam Vaa Vaasudevam Na Chintayet
When there can be no action, no time, no thought that is beyond the will of the Lord then how can there be adversity in life? The mind, brain, body and consciousness all are the gifts of the Lord.
Tvadeeyam Vastu Govind Tubhaymev Samarpayet
What in this world belongs to us? Everything is a gift from the Lord. It belongs to him. One should devote everything in his feet. In everyone one can have the vision of the Lord. There is no sorrow.  There is nothing that actually belongs to us.
Chintaa Deendayaal Ke Mo Man Sadaa Aanaand
The Lord is our master. Then why should we worry. It is his duty to worry for us, to think of our good. Where do we have any duty? All actions are performed by the Lord. Hence the responsibility is of the Lord.
Oopar Naam Likhyo So To Maayaro Bharasi Narasi Lo To Beitthya Beitthyo Bhajan Karasi
We are in the shelter of the feet of the Lord. All our actions are for the Lord. When the innocent child lies in the cradle of the loving arms of his mother does he have to do any Sadhana to get there? He only has to cry and the mother rushes to pick him up. This is how one should cry for the Lord. Then in the arms of the Lord one shall not feel any pain, discomfort or worry. One has to be like an innocent child to reach the Lord. It is the duty of the  mother to think and worry about feeding the child and to protect it. The child does not have to worry. The Rishi Narad has said –
Tadarpitaakhilaa-chaaritaa Tadwi-smaranne Paramvayaakul-teti
When one has fully devoted oneself to the Lord the only pain one feels is on being separated from Him. Hence one should try to remain secure in the lap of the Lord. If one does not get down from there how shall one ever get hurt? This is the only Sadhana that one has to ever try. One has to never forget Him!
When a mother showers so much love and affection on her child, when she takes care of all his needs and feeds him, the Lord has been doing this for ages in every birth. How can he ever forget or neglect his children? Even if we do not worship Him or pray to Him he always remembers us and takes care of us. He does not forget his duty to protect us.
But still there appear adverse circumstances in life. Why? So that we could for a moment stop and think whether we are walking on the right path. When the Lord pulls us towards himself we tend to forget the world. We go through problems when the Lord remembers  us so that we too could remember Him.
The Lord is true divine joy. But we have a different concept of joy and comfort. This is way we get lost in the darkness of gross materialism. The Lord keeps shaking us out of the delusion through the various problems. But we do not want to emerge from this darkness and hence we feel so unhappy.
The Lord never forgets us. Rather we tend to forget Him. One can enter into the state of true Sadhana when every action is done for the Lord and every experience in life is considered as a boon from Him. When this happens one gets united with the divine and it is in this union that universal welfare lies hidden.