Just because we all know how to breathe it does not mean that we know how to live. Just because most of us get married it does not mean that we know how to be a good spouse. Just because, we have children it does not mean that we know how to be good parents. Living, marrying and Parenting require ‘Sadhana’.
There are no universal answers to the meaning of life. I like to believe that it is a journey to the Source…its ups and downs are a lesson…Yet all journeys start with the first step…the first step towards the philosophic quest is the enquiry: “Athato Brahmn Jignasa”…
Then starts the sadhana, which is the spiritual effort the seeker puts in. The word sadhana is derived from the root word ‘sidh’ which means ‘to be accomplished’ in ‘seeking divinity’ The quest starts ‘out’ (pravritti marg) and must end ‘in’ (nivritti marg) and in the knowing that there is no ‘separation’…
Some time ago, I spent two days on a Spiritual Sadhana Camp. A few youngsters on the camp asked me what ‘Sadhana’ means. I explained that it meant ‘Discipline’ plus ‘Perseverance’.
Whatever path of Spiritual Practice you prefer to belong to, be it ‘Karma’ (The path of Righ Action), ‘Bhakti’ (The path of Devotion), Dhyaan (The path of Meditation) or ‘Gyan’ (The path of Knowledge), ‘Japa’ or chanting to still the mind, fasts, long ritualistic prayers, they are all Sadhanas. They all require discipline and perseverance. The aim of Sadhana is Spiritual uplift.
Swami Niranjananda Saraswati states:
” There are seven ways for the liberation of man. The first way is the Path of Karma. This is the discipline for the man of ordinary mettle. The second is the Vaishnava path in which devotion or Bhakti to the Lord plays a greater role than work, and is meant for a higher competence. The third is the Shaiva Path which is more a path of meditation and gyana (knowledge) …The fourth path is the Dakshina Path where Karma Bhakti Gyan are skilfully harmonised and synthesised…Then we have the Vama path or the reverse path where the natural turn outward (pavritti) is turned inward (nivritti) …Then we have the Siddhanta, the path where things are determined as to the real nature and direction of ones goal…The last is the Kaula path…There is nothing higher than the Kaula which is the essence of all essences…”
Scriptures prescribe five Maha Yajnas (Supreme Spiritual Practices)
which may aid us in our Spiritual Movement.
Brahma or Rishi Yajna: Reflecting on Scriptures, meditation and chanting.
Deva Yajna: Fire ritual in which offerings are made to gods with recitation of mantras.
Atithi Yajna: hospitality towards guests, travelers…
Pitri Yajna: Feeding the poor/priests in honor of, and remembering fore-fathers who have passed on…
Balivaishva Yajna: feeding animals and birds.
Shammi Paranjape says:
Continuity of practice and regularity are important elements of sadhana; sporadic efforts will yield no result. The goal is attained stage by stage. Avoid extremes and keep your sadhana pleasant and moderate. The aim is to enlarge vision and enhance experience, and not mortify the body.
If life essentially is a pilgrimage to return to our own self, then sadhana is our means to get there.
Our worldly works earn us a living and our inner work (sadhana) earns us the bliss of an enlightened life.