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Question: I have been doing Sandhya, Gayatri, Nama Japa, Vishnu Sahasranama, Aditya Hridaya, Shiva Panchakshari etc. I have had a lot of family problems and these anustanas have helped me in mitigating the family problems. All these were suggested by a great soul, who was an astrologer in Madras. He is no more now. I want to progress spiritually. I have done some meditation but I stopped because of lack of guidance. I have approached other Swamis, but I could not get much help, maybe because I could not get close to them. I have read a lot of books, I have also studied Vedanta for my M.A. degree. Recently read your book and have come for your guidance. 

Hamsa. You have been doing quite all right. Reading and doing different kinds of upasanas for material benefit cannot get you too far on spiritual path. You have to follow either jnana marga or Bhaktimarga. In Bhakti you give up all the different recitations and stick to one Mantra and one deity and do Sakar meditation in which you repeat a short Mantra continuously and concentrate on the form of deity. For example, conceive the form of Vishnu from foot to head, visualize the lotus feet, legs, yellow dhoti, waist, chest, neck, shoulders, four hands, holding Shankha, Chakra, etc.,, the ornaments, the garland of flowers, Kaustubha gem on the chest, Yajnopavita, comely face, smiling lips, ears with rings, bright eyes, royal crown, long hair, etc. Like this your mind should stay steady on Sakar, saguna Brahma while repeating the Japa. The purpose is to attain one pointed concentration. Otherwise mind hops from object to object, never stays steady on a single object. This is pratyahara and dharana  of yoga. Then from one object and one thought, it reaches no thought state. This is thoughtless state. In that thoughtless state, you realize the Self.

     Since you are an intellectual, you may prefer to go by jnana marga. That entails Self Enquiry. Who am I? You have to go on thinking I am not this body not these sense organs, not the mind. Then who am I?    

     You have to go through three states- waking, dream and deep sleep. This body appears only in waking state. When I sleep, this body and the entire waking universe disappears and a different dream world and dream body appears. There is no similarity between the two worlds and the two bodies. No correspondence in the time frame. Now I am convinced that this waking world is real. In dream also I am convinced that that world is real. The feelings, love, hate, hunger, thirst are all real in dream even though this body is safely lying in bed. Then in deep sleep, I am not aware of myself not even my own existence. What happens to me then? Where do I go? How do I disappear? And how do I reappear on waking? Of the three states, waking, dream and deep sleep, which is my reality? I have three different bodies, but I remains the same. The experience of three states is common and this I knows the happenings in three states. Who is this I? Like this you reflect and enquire deeply to who the I is. You must dwell on this thought steadily. Have full faith, keep satsanga. Practice yama and niyama.

     These are the two paths. Bhakti is easier. You can combine the two paths also; Jnana cannot arise without Bhakti, and Ananya Bhakti (intense devotion) is not without jnana. In the end, they become one. In jnana marga, you may need to study certain Upanishads. Good satsanga is indicated in both.



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Last Updated: Sat Dec 25, 2004