What is the Best Advice that You Can Give Me About Sadhana?


Question: To tell you the truth, I am truly bored with my sadhana. For instance, I have been doing chanting for many years, and I now feel bored doing it everyday. What should I do?

“It does NOT matter whether YOUR mind likes it or dislikes it. You must practise your japam (=chanting) as a daily routine….You have received the precious mantram from your Guru. Now dive deep into the ocean of Satchidananda. You have NO self-reliance. Self-effort IS indispensable in spiritual life. Do something for a period of at least four years. Then, if you have not made any TANGIBLE progress, come back and slap me!,” Swami Brahmananda (Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s direct disciple, and who was, according to the Paramahamsa, Sri Krsna’s playmate) (pg. 118, God Lived with Them).

Question: But I cant concentrate during my sadhana. what am I to do?

“Even if we are not able to concentrate (during our) spiritual practice, just sticking to a schedule will help to discipline our mind and keep us on the right track. Sometimes, we stop our sadhana, feeling that we are not making progress. One may think,’I can’t chant the mantra with concentration, so why  should I continue?’ Or, we hope to get some experience during our meditation, and when nothing spectacular happens, we get discouraged. This attitude is NOT correct; we must persevere  in our efforts. (It is like) swimming upstream against a strong current—we may not move forward…or even at all, but if we were to stop… we would be swept backwards… Likewise,… sadhana prevents us from being drowned by our negative tendencies and selfish desires,” Swami Ramakrishnananda (pgs. 188-189, The Secret of Inner Peace) [Note: Swamiji is a direct disciple of Mata Sri Amritanandamayi].

Question: What is the best way to attain success in sadhana?

“Unless one delves within and tries to understand the inner machinery (=mind), one cannot practise sadhana successfully.” (pg. 440, [Practical Sadhana: A Discussion] Sadhana by Swami Sivananda).

Question: How far is the control of senses important to success in sadhana?

“Neither progress in the spiritual path nor success in meditation is possible without self-control. No spiritual growth is ever possible without the control of the senses and the mind. An uncontrolled mind is the greatest barrier to Self-realisation. Strict disciplined life will lead to Self-realisation.” (pg. 131, Voice of the Himalayas by Swami Sivananda)

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Devotion and Sadhana: How to Make Progress Today — Right Now?


What is Devotion?

Satya Sai Baba: “Devotion means seeking unity with the Divine through purity in thought, word and deed and concentrating on the oneness of the Godhead. Devotion aims at acquiring friendship with God through this triple purity. Devotion is of three kinds:

a. Saamaanya Bhakti (Ordinary devotion);

b. Ekantha Bhakthi (Devotion in Solitude) and

c. Ananya Bhakti (Exclusive, one-pointed devotion).

Saamaanya Bhakti has nine forms: Sravanam (listening to the glories of God); Kirthanam (Chanting the praise of God); Vishnu Smaranam (ever remembering the name of the Lord);Paada Sevanam (Worshipping the Lord’s feet); Vandanam (Prostration); Archanam (Worshipping the figure of the Lord); Daasyam (Service); Sneham (friendship); Atmanivedanam (Self-surrender).” (Satyam, Sivan, Sundram- Vol- 22) [Internet]

Mata Amritanandamayi: “We should understand that God-realisation is the aim of life, and worship Him with this goal firmly fixed in our mind. ‘devotion in principle’ means recognising that it is the one and the same God who manifests in all living beings and in all the deities — in all names and forms. It means surrendering selflessly to Him. That is the kind of devotion we should have.” (pgs. 79-80, Eternal Wisdom, Vol. 1).

Paramahansa Yogananda: “Devotion means that you know He is omnipresent around you in the dark conundrum of cosmos, playing a divine game of hide-and-seek with you. Behind the leaves, behind the wind, behind the warm rays of the sun—He is hiding, but He is there. He is not far away; that is why it becomes easy to love Him. (Excerpts from 1998 SRF Magazine – (http://yogananda.com.au/pyr/pyr_devotion1.html).

Anandamayi Ma: “Devotion means total dedication and surrender, and love for the Lord”. (pg. 71, Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama).

Sadhana, the Importance of

Question: Everyone talks about spiritual life, or leading a divine life. What, indeed, is spiritual life?

Swami Sivananda: “The most important thing about divine life is in the living ofnot so much in the knowing of it.” (pg. 437, Sadhana by Swami Sivananda).

Question: I have been doing sadhana; but I am not making any progress: why?

Swami Sivananda: “Unless one delves within and tries to understand the inner machinery (=mind), one cannot practise sadhana successfully.” (pg. 440, Sadhana by Swami Sivananda).

Sri Tulsidas: “You can create a blaze of fire from a block of ice, you can squeeze dry sand and make oil drip out of it, but this is sure, without sadhana, without worship, without adoration , you can NEVER cross this ocean of samsara (=life through repeated births and deaths, the process of worldly life)”. (pg. 173, “Ponder These Truths” by Swami Chidananda)

Question: What, then, is the solution?

Swami chidananda: “Exertion, exertion, exertion, sadhana, sadhana, sadhana.” (pg. 173, “Ponder These Truths” by Swami Chidananda)

Is it Necessary for Everyone to do Sadhana? Isn’t faith in one’s Guru enough?

Question: One devotee says that there is no need to perform Sadhana so long as one has faith in one’s Guru.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Son, a person who has faith in mother will perform sadhana as mother instructs. Such a person will live without erring even a little bit. Will your disease be cured if you only believe the doctor but do not take the medicine? Not only that, faith will gain strength and stediness only if sadhana brings experience. Otherwise, faith will slip into irresoluteness. You cannot progress without sadhana. Can’t you see even jivenmuktas (those who have achieved liberation while tenanting the body) doing meditation and japa (repetitions of the mantra) to set an example? No progress will accrue to him who simply sits saying faith will save me without doing anything. Unquestioning obedience is what is meant by faith and devotion. Whatever the Guru says, one should unconditionally obey.  Do not ask any questions. Do not doubt the guru. One should unconditionally obey the Guru whatever he says, whether it is doing service to the Guru, service to society, Japa, Dhyana or anything else.” (pgs. 82-83, Awaken, Children! Vol. 3)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Concentrate on your sadhana…. Mother gave a mantra to everyone. Do not be puffed up because of that and think, ‘I am mother’s disciple.’ Do not feel proud thinking, ‘I have the ticket’ after getting onto a bus or train. If you do not show the ticket when the ticket collector comes, he will immediately make you get off. He will let you alight at your destination ONLY if you use your ticket for the proper place and in the proper way. Otherwise, you will have to get off before your destination.” (pg. 219, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

No Progress Despite Sadhana: Why?

Question: Why is it that I don’t seem to be making much progress despite years of my performing Sadhana?

Swami Sivananda: “…Even if you do Japa and prayers for ten or fifteen minutes DAILY but spend the REST of the time in WORLDLY activities, you CANNOT make very great spiritual advancement,” (pg. 84, Kingly Science, Kingly Secret)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “We do some kind of spiritual practice, and then, dissipate the acquired spiritual energy by indulging in worldly affairs.” (pg. 71, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Whatever spiritual power is gained through meditation and other spiritual practices gets dissipated through indulgence.” (pg. 123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Swami Sivananda: “Neither progress in the spiritual path nor success in meditation is possible without self-control. No spiritual growth is ever possible without the control of the senses and the mind. An uncontrolled mind is the greatest barrier to Self-realisation. Strict disciplined life will lead to Self-realisation.” (pg. 131, Voice of the Himalayas by Swami Sivananda)

Swami Sivananda: “A FANCIFUL interest in the spiritual path is of no use. Take recourse to dynamic and many-sided Sadhana… Relentless effort to live a spiritual life is very necessary. The angle of vision has to be changed. Regular Sadhana will keep the mind always CLEAN and CONQUERED,” Swami Sivananda (pg. xiL, Conquest of Mind)

Swami Sivananda: “…a little bit of japa or puja and THEN running after sense-enjoyments will NOT help you much.” (pg. 215, Sivananda’s Lectures: All-India and Ceylon Tour).

Swami Sivananda: “If (Sadhaks) are IRREGULAR in their practice, if their Vairagya wanes, if they mix FREELY with worldly people, they get a DEFINITE setback, the grace VANISHES, the experiences disappear. They are NOT able to rise up again to their original heights of spiritual glory. Therefore, REGULARITY in sadhana and Para-vairagya should be ALWAYS maintained,” Swami Sivananda (pg. 87, Spiritual Experiences).

Swami Sivananda: “If you are in the company of saints, if you read books on Yoga and Vedanta, an attachment to idea of God-consciousness will take place. BUT mere attachment will NOT help you much. BURNING dispassion, KEEN desire for liberation, CAPACITY for Sadhana and INTENSE and CONSTANT meditation IS required,”  (pg. 372, Science of Yoga Vol 5).

No Time to Do Sadhana

Question: But I don’t have much time to do any sadhana.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of His for at least 2 hours. Japa should also be done for some time while sitting in solitude. It should be performed whenever you have the time, even at work. (pg. 84, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Swami Yatiswarananda: “We must MINIMIZE all unnecessary waste of time in FUTILE thinking, GOSSIPING, aimless ACTIVITIES, wandering, etc. THEN, we will get PLENTY of time for our spiritual practice.” (pg. 341, Meditation and Spiritual Practice by Swami Yatiswarananda)

How long do I have to do sadhana?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of His for at least 2 hours. (pg. 84, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Swami Sivananda: “…do…Japa for TWO hours.  (pg. 45, Japa Yoga).

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Do not do sadhana with the intention of making it known to others or to please them. We don’t stop brushing our teeth, taking a shower or eating food because those are necessities. In the same way, we should remember that sadhana is also necessary for us every day. We will stink of we do not take a bath and brush our teeth. It will be troublesome for others also.  We should understand that refraining from doing sadhana is at least as harmful as this. Sadhana should become a part of our life.” (pgs. 122-123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

How to Achieve Success in Sadhana?

Question: When I sit to do my meditation every morning, my mind wanders wildly. It is a big hassle every day to do my meditation, japa or for that matter even prayers, which are always interrupted by varied thoughts and feelings. How to achieve success in my sadhana, i.e., meditation and japa?

Swami Satchidananda: “Meditation is to help you control, discipline and thus gain mastery over the mind. If you sleep for 8 hours, you have 16 hours of waking life per day. During that time, if you discipline the mind during AN HOUR of meditation, what are you doing the other 15 HOURS? If you allow the mind to be your master for those 15 hours, who wins ultimately? The MIND. If you really want to achieve something in meditation, all 16 hours must be taken care of. It doesn’t matter even if you slip, but remember to have DISCIPLINE in your DAILY life. After you do that ONE HOUR of meditation, DON’T LOSE the AWARENESS during the 15 REMAINING HOURS of the day. That’s why all of one’s daily life must be disciplined in order to reach your goal.” [Weekly Words of Wisdom, Integral Yoga Magazine, Spring 2013 issue]

Swami Satchidananda: “Ultimately meditation should be lived all through the 24 hours of the day. It’s NOT that you just meditate only in the morning or in the evening. Meditate on everything you do, on everything you THINK. When you TALK, meditate on that. When you EAT, meditate on that. When you sleep, meditate on that. So I say concentration should be on everything. When we eat, we don’t seem to concentrate on eating. We are very busy doing business or talking about some serious world problem. When you eat, if you DON’T concentrate on eating, you don’t know exactly what you ate and how much you ate. Concentrate on eating. Chew well. Swallow well. Drink all your solids. Eat all your liquids.” [Weekly Words of Wisdom, Integral Yoga Magazine, Winter 2013 issue]

Swami Chidananda: “The entire process of the spiritual ascent is from start to finish one of earnest practice. There is no other road except Abhyasa (=Spiritual practice). One may have the best feeling, the best heart, the most sublime Bhava, but UNLESS and UNTIL every part of this is put into ACTUAL PRACTICE, there is no hope. Abhyasa is the keynote of the life of Sadhana. Without it, Sadhana will not go towards its fruition of Anubhuti or experience.” (pg. xiii, Lord Shanmukha & His Worship)

Arjuna saidDestroyed is my delusion, as I have gained my memory (knowledge) through Thy Grace, O Krishna. I am firm; my doubts are gone. I will act according to Thy word. [Gita 18:73]

Swami Sivananda’s commentary on the sloka: “The whole aim of Sadhana and study of scriptures is the annihilation of delusion and the attainment of knowledge of the Self. When one attains it, the three knots or ties of ignorance, namely, ignorance, desire and action, are destroyed. All doubts are cleared and all Kamas destroyed.” (Pg 527, The Bhagavad Gita by Swami Sivananda)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “The period of SADHANA is like climbing a high mountain. You need a lot of strength and energy. Mountain climbers use rope for pulling themselves up. For you, the only rope is JAPA. Therefore, children, try to repeat your MANTRA constantly. Once you reach the peak, you can relax and rest FOREVER.” (Awaken, Children vol 4 page 50)

What is the Easiest and the Best Sadhana for this Age of Quarrel and Confusion?

Swami Sivananda: “Japa sadhana is considered a COMPLETE sadhana in itself, i.e., it is CAPABLE of bringing about God-Realisation.” (pg. 74, Commentary on Verse 15 of Kandar Anubhuti—Divine Life Society Publication)

Swami Sivananda: “Even a dull aspirant will notice a change in himself if he continues the practice of Japa and meditation for two or three years.” (pg. 340, Science of Yoga, Vol. 2 by Swami Sivananda)

How Long Do I have to do Japa Every Day?

Swami Sivananda: “…do…Japa for TWO hours.  (pg. 45, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “Do the treatment of Nama-Japa for at least 2 hours in the MORNING and EVENING. You will find the miraculous effect within a short time.” (pg. 123, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “Get up at 4 a.m. and do Japa for TWO hours….Repeat the Name mentally throughout the day.”  (pg. 148, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “Have FOUR sittings for Japa daily-early morning, noon, evening and night.” (pg. 53, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “…you must evince extreme keenness in doing Japa also 4 times, in the morning, noon, evening and night.”(pg. 91, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “If you are tired of repeating the Mantra at one stroke, have 3 or more

sittings, say, in the morning from 4 o’clock to 7, in the evening from 4 to 5, and at night from 6 to 8. (pg. 82, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “If a man repeats the Mantra for 6 hours daily, his heart will be purified quickly. He can feel the purity.” (pg. 45, Japa Yoga)

How Do I do Japa?

Swami Sivananda: “Roll the beads with single-minded devotion. Repeat His Name with unswerving faith.” (pg. 140, Self-Knowledge)

Swami Sivananda: “Japa should NOT be done when walking here and there or looking this side and that side. The Upasaka should never be engaged in other activities even in mind…” (pg. 114, Japa Yoga)

Question: How and where should I concentrate on when I am doing Japa?

Swami Sivananda: “… gaze fixed between the eyebrows… This is known as the “Frontal Gaze”, (or)…fix the gaze on the tip of the nose… This is Nasal Gaze… You can select for yourself either the Frontal or the Nasal Gaze. Even when you pass along the road, practise the gaze. You will have wonderful concentration. The Japa can go nicely even while you are walking.” (pg. 81, Japa Yoga)

Doing Japa without Knowing the Meaning of the Mantra I am chanting

Question: Mother, is it beneficial if one chants mantras even without knowing the meaning ?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…if you chant your mantra without knowing its meaning, it has its own powers. Even then, it is better if it is chanted with faith and love. Concentration is also necessary.” “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of His for at least 2 hours. Japa should also be done for some time while sitting in solitude. It should be performed whenever you have the time, even at work. (pg. 97, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi:”…although God’s Name has a power of its own, when we chant it with bhava or concentration, it becomes more powerful.” (pg. 117, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Characteristics of Kali Yuga


We are now Kali Yuga, the age of quarrel, incessant troubles, tribulations, trepidation, calumnies, irreverence, ungodliness, ill-health, pollution, adversities, negativity, un-spirituality, hypocrisy, falsehood and terrorism. Both the Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagavatam give a vivid description of how things are like in Kaliyuga. Many of these things we can see happening around us and we ourselves are also guilty of indulging in many of these actions. The following is a but a short list of features typical of the events in Kaliyuga according to the Ithihaas and purana:

1). People recklessly and mindlessly destroy trees or groves.

2). Everyone will lack discrimination as regards food: they will eat anything and everything.

3). Passing themselves off as saintly, nefarious people will indulge in trade and commercial activity. In the garb of saintliness and spirituality, avaricious people will concentrate on amassing wealth, and find wealth is the mark of a man’s worth in society.

4). In Kaliyuga, man finds friendship only in his wife, and he regards his in-laws as true relatives.

5). People with money and wealth will be considered persons of noble birth with good qualities. People in power will steer the course of justice in their favour.

6). Impecunious and penurious people, and those who are not given to bribery will be deprived of justice.

7). People will consider going on pilgrimage to far-off places more important than honouring and serving their parents.

8). Brahmins will do the work of sudras.

9). Brahmins will abstain from sacrifices and the study of Vedas.

10). People will stop making offerings to their ancestors.

11). Brahmins will start to eat anything (i.e., they become indiscriminate in their choices of food).

12). Men will become feeble, and will have shorter life span: They will lack energy and valour.

13). During Kaliyuga, women will use their mouths for copulation.

14). Under the burden of excess taxation, householders will turn into robbers.

15). In ashramas, brahmacharis will indulge in evil conduct and pander to the desires of the world. The ashrams will be full of show-offs who are experts in the art of living off the food of others.

16). When Kaliyuga degenerates even further, Dharmic people will have shorter life span.

17). People will sell goods with false weights. There will be a lot of deceit associated with trade.

18). Towards the end of Kaliyuga, the young ones will act like old people. The conduct that suits the young is seen in the old. The old will think like children, and young people will have the intelligence of the old.

19). In Kaliyuga, people abbreviate the truth; because of this harm done to the truth, lifespans are further shortened.

20). There will be a lot of intermarriages between people from different strata of society, and miscegenation becomes the order of the day. They will behave like sudras who are devoid of austerities and truth.

21). Because of the shortage of cows, people will resort to drinking goat and sheep-milk.

22). In Kaliyuga, rules about what is to be eaten are transgressed.

23). Brahmins will not observe sacred vows but will criticize the Vedas. Deluded by logic they will give up worship and yajnas.

24). At the end of Kaliyuga, the world will be overtaken by mlechha conduct. There will be no rites and sacrifices. There will be unhappiness everywhere and no festivals will be celebrated.

25). Men will rob possessions of others, even that of widows.

26). Men will happily accept gifts given even by the evil.

27). When the end of Kaliyiga is near, the Kshatriyas will be the thorns in the flesh of the world. They will not protect others.

28). No one will ask for a girl’s hand in marriage; no one will duly give away a girl in marriage. When Kaliyuga is fully ripe, men and women will choose their spouses themselves.

29). Kings, discontented with what they possess, will use every means possible to steal the property of others.

30). When kaliyuga is fully advanced, one hand will steal from the other.

31). Cowards will take pride in their bravery and the brave will be immersed in depression like cowards.

32). During the final stages of Kaliyuga, there will be no Brahmins, Kshatriyas or Vaishyas left. At the end of Kaliyuga the world will have only one varna.

33). Wives will not tend to their husbands. Men and women will eat whatever they wish.

34). People will adorn themselves with the marks of a sadhu, i.e.. there will be profusion of fake sadhus.

35). (Cooked) food will be sold at all major thoroughfares. Note: According to manusmrti selling of cooked food is a sin; this is because everyone has a right to food, whether he has money or not).

36). When Kaliyuga is fully advanced, each will act as he wishes in the name  of human rights.

37). Brahmins will be oppressed by Sudras and thus tormented by the former will wander all over the earth looking for protection.

38). Sudras will expound on Dharma, and the Brahmins will listen to their discourses and serve them. Everything in the world will be utterly upside down.

39). Discarding the gods, bones set into walls will be worshipped.

40). Men will be addicted to meat and liquor and will be weak in Dharma.

41). Rains will come down at the wrong time.

42). Overcome by the burden of taxation, brahmins will flee in the ten directions.

43). Friends and relatives will act only out of love for wealth.

44). Women will be harsh and cruel in speech and will love to cry. They will not follow the words of their husbands.

45). Travelers in transit (guests) will ask for food and water but will not receive it. They will be refused shelter and will be forced to sleep on the roads.

46). People will leave their own countries and seek refuge in other countries, directions, regions, etc., and will roam around the world lamenting ‘Alas, father!’, ‘Alas, son.’

47). Mutual liking between the boy and girl, and not family pedigree or social status, etc., will be criterion for selecting a spouse.

48). Cheating will be the order of the day in business relations.

49). Sexual skill will be the criterion for excellence in men and women.

50). The only mark of evil will be poverty.

51). The one who can make a great display (of his austerities, occult powers etc.) will be considered the greatest sadhu.

52). Brushing one’s hair and dressing up will be considered as substitute for bath.

53). The highest purpose of life will be to fill one’s belly.

54). Maintenance of one’s family will be looked upon as the highest skill.

55). Dharma will be followed to gain fame.

56). There will be no rule in becoming a king. Any Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya or Sudra, depending on who is the most powerful at the time, will become the king. At that time, the rulers will be so greedy that there will not any difference between them and robbers.

57). Houses will be desolate because of the lack of chanting of Vedas and absence of guests.

58) In Kali-yuga the people will be sinful, short-lived, unfortunate, slow, and unintelligent.

How then to survive the virulence of Kali Yuga?

“In this Kali Yuga, when the physique of the vast majority of persons is not good…Japa is an EASY way to God-realisation… There is no Yoga GREATER than Japa Yoga” (pg. 279, Yoga Samhita). In the Gita, Sri Krsna says, “Among Yagnas, I AM Japa Yagna”. Sri Brahma said the same truth to Naradha in Kali-Santarana Upanishad. Vishnu Purana (6:2:17), Brhan Narayana Purana (38:97) have underlined the same fact. Srimad Bhagavatam (12:3:52) asserts, “OTHER processes of worship are NOT possible in THIS yuga”. Hence, Japa IS the sadhana for Kali Yuga.

“In this Kali Yuga, God-realisation can be had in a short period. It is the grace of the Lord. You need not do severe Tapas now. You need not stand on one leg for several years, as people did in days of yore. You can realise God through JAPA, Kirtan (=singing) and prayer.” pg 128, Japa Yoga by Swami Sivananda.

Srimad Bhagwatam 12:3:52 says

krite yad dhyayato vishnum tretayam yajato makhaihdvapare  

paricaryayam kalau tad dhari-kirtanat

That is, whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dwapara-yuga by serving the Lord’s Lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the holy names of God.

Padma Purana (Uttara-khanda 72.25), in support of the above, desclares:

dhyayan krite yajan yajnais, tretayam dvapare ’rcayan;

yad apnoti tad apnoti, kalau sankirtya keshavam.

In sum, Whatever is achieved by meditation in Satya-yuga, by the performance of yajna in Treta-yuga or by the worship of Krishna’s lotus feet in Dvapara-yuga is obtained very easily in the Age of Kali simply by chanting the name of God.

Garuda Purana 1.228.18, “What is obtained by means of contemplation in the Krta-yuga, reciting mantras in the Treta-yuga and worshiping in Dvapara is obtained in Kali-yuga by constantly remembering Lord Kesava.”

Garuda Purana 1.230.20, “Evil influence of the Kali age, wicked statements, vile utterances of heretics – none of these affect the mind of the person in whose mind Lord Kesava finds a place”.

Garuda Purana 1.230.23, “If Govinda is fixed in the mind, the vile age of Kali is transformed into Krta. If Acyuta is not fixed in the mind even Krta-yuga is transformed into Kali age”.

Swami Sivananda: “In this kali Yuga, even if just ONE Ekadashi is observed with DISPASSION, faith and DEVOTION, AND if the mind is WHOLLY fixed on Hari, one is freed from the rounds of birth and death. There is no doubt this. The scriptures give us their assurance on this point.” (pg. 152, Hindu Fasts & Festivals).

Sources:

1. G. P. Bhatt & J. L. Shastri (Tr). The Bhagavata Purana (5 Volumes): Delhi 2002

2. Debroy, Bibek. The Mahabharata: Complete and Unabridged (Ten Volumes): Penguin India, 2015

3. Mahabarath by Kamala Subramaniam,

4. Pandey, Pandit Ramnarayandutt Shastri. The Complete Mahabharata (The Only Edition with Sanskrit Text and Hindi Translation) – Six Volumes: Gita Press, Gorakhpur, 2017

5. Saraswati, Swami Akhandananda (Tr). Shrimad Bhagavata Purana (2 Volumes): Gorakhpur 2004

6. Yoga Samhita by Swami Sivananda

7. Kali-Santarana Upanishad

8. Vishnu Purana (6:2:17)

9. Brhan Narayana Purana (38:97)

10. Srimad Bhagavatam (12:3:52)

11. japa Yoga by Swami Sivananda

12. Śri Sanatkumara-saṃhita Verses 1-25 (Verse 13)

13. Hindu Fasts & Festivals by Swami Sivananda

Sadhana — Is it Necessary?


Question 1: Someone I know says that there is not much importance in Sadhana and that it is enough to have faith in one’s Guru.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Son, a person who has faith in (the Guru) will perform sadhana as (the Guru) instructs. Such a person will live without erring even a little bit. Will your disease be cured if you only believe the doctor but do not take the medicine? Not only that, faith will gain strength and steadiness only if sadhana brings experience. Otherwise, faith will slip into irresoluteness. You cannot progress without sadhana. Can’t you see even jivanmuktas (those who have achieved liberation while tenanting the body) doing meditation and japa (repetitions of the mantra) to set an example? No progress will accrue to him who simply sits saying faith will save me without doing anything. Unquestioning obedience is what is meant by faith and devotion. Whatever the Guru says, one should unconditionally obey.  Do not ask any questions. Do not doubt the Guru. One should unconditionally obey the Guru whatever he says, whether it is doing service to the Guru, service to society, Japa, Dhyana or anything else.” (pgs. 82-83, Awaken, Children! Vol. 3).

Question 2: I do sadhana but I feel empty. Why is this so?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “We do some kind of spiritual practice, and then, dissipate the acquired spiritual energy by indulging in worldly affairs.” (pg. 71, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Whatever spiritual power is gained through meditation and other spiritual practices gets dissipated through indulgence.” (pg. 123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 3: How do we find the time to do sadhana? We are all too busy with work and family.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of Him for at least two hours. Japa should also be done for some time while sitting in solitude. It should be performed whenever you have the time, even at work. (pg. 84, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 4: Is it all right if one chants mantras even without knowing the meaning ?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…if you chant your mantra without knowing its meaning, it has its own powers. Even then, it is better if it is chanted with faith and love. Concentration is also necessary.” (pg. 97, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…although God’s Name has a power of its own, when we chant it with bhava or concentration, it becomes more powerful.” (pg. 117, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 5: Is it necessary to do sadhana everyday? Is it wrong or even harmful to stop sadhana for a day or two?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Do not do sadhana with the intention of making it known to others or to please them. We don’t stop brushing our teeth, taking a shower or eating food because those are necessities. In the same way, we should remember that sadhana is also necessary for us every day. We will stink of we do not take a bath and brush our teeth. It will be troublesome for others also.  We should understand that refraining from doing sadhana is at least as harmful as this. Sadhana should become a part of our life.” (pgs. 122-123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1).

Question 6: What is the best place to do sadhana?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Sadhana should be done in the presence of a Perfect Master or in an ashram”. (pg. 135, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1).

Question 7: I got a mantra from you; isn’t it enough that I have been accepted as your disciple?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Concentrate on your sadhana…. Mother gave a mantra to everyone. Do not be puffed up because of that and think, ‘I am mother’s disciple.’ Do not feel proud thinking, ‘I have the ticket’ after getting onto a bus or train. If you do not show the ticket when the ticket collector comes, he will immediately make you get off. He will let you alight at your destination only if you use your ticket for the proper place and in the proper way. Otherwise, you will have to get off before your destination.” (pg. 219, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

You may also be interested in the following articles:

https://antaryamin.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/so-amma-is-your-guru-really/

https://theunboundedspirit.com/tv/

What is Ego? Do Spiritual people have ego?


Question 1: Everyone in spiritual life talks about ego, and that it is the greatest impediment when it comes to attaining God. What, actually, is ego? How does it cause trouble to us?

Answer 1: “Ego… is the self-asserting principle…born of ignorance…It is the ego which has created the idea of separateness from God or the Atman, It is the ego which is the ROOT CAUSE of ALL human sufferings and births and deaths.” (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 2: How do we know whether we have ego? Or, whether we are acting out of egoistic tendencies? Are there are definite signs of the existence of ego?

Answer 2: “…ego identifies itself with the body, mind, prana, and the senses. Wherever there IS ego, there are mine-ness, SELFISHNESS, LIKES and DISLIKES, LUST, ANGER, greed, HYPOCRISY, PRIDE, JEALOUSY, delusion, arrogance, conceit, impertinence, vasanas (=tendencies), trishnas (=cravings)…”   (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 3: How do we get rid of this ego that causes so much trouble?

Answer 3: “…destrouction of thought, DESIRES, cravings, mineness, selfishness, JEALOUSY, PRIDE, LUST is really destruction of mind or egoism. Control of SENSES also is annihilation of the mind or egoism.” ( (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 4: Do people who are in spiritual life or who practise religions have ego?

Answer 4: “This egoism assumes a subtle form. The gross egoism is NOT so dangerous as the subtle egoism.”  (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 5: I have known people who claim that their religion is the truest and the rest are bogus, or they claim that their group, congregation, church, mosque or temple is genuine and the others, although they may belong to the same religion, do not belong to the true path of and to God. Are they actually working under the influence of ego?

Answer 5: “..Institutional egoism is a subtle form of egoism. The man identifies himself with the institution and gets ATTACHED to the institution or cult. He has no broadmindedness or catholicity.”  (pgs. 44-45, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 6: How to easily detect ego as it is so subtle and abstruse?

Answer 6: “The working of egoism is very mysterious. It is VERY difficult to detect its various ways of working. It NEEDS a SUBTLE and SHARP intellect to find out its operation. If you practise INTROSPECTION DAILY in silence, you WILL be able to find out its mysterious ways of working.”  (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 7: In your answer to Question 2 you said if we identify ourselves with the body, mind, senses, etc., it is an indication that we have that lurking ego in us. If this is so, what about our feelings regarding foreigners, strangers and people who do not belong to our society, culture, etc. Is that feeling of seeing the difference between us and others in terms of nationality, attainment, class, status, etc., the work of ego too?

Answer 7: “The seed of this ego is the differentiating intellect or Bheda Buddhi… This ego likes his own birth, place, and district, people of his district, own mother tongue, his own relations, and friends, his own ways of eating, mode of dressing. He has his own predilection and preferences, He dislikes others’ ways of eating, dressing, etc. (pgs. 44, 45 Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda).

Question 8: You see, I have spiritual friends—great spiritual friends, who are excellent advisers, guide and counsels. They have the little tendencies that you have described. Does it mean they too have the ego?

Answer 8: “It is the ego which has created the idea of separateness from God or the Atman… This ego wants to exercise POWER and INFLUENCE over others. He wants TITLES, prestige, STATUS, RESPECT, prosperity, house, wife, children. He wishes to domineer and rule over others. If anybody points out his defect his vanity feels offended. If anyone praises him he is elated. This ego says, ‘I know everything. He does not know anything. What I say is quite correct. What he says is quite incorrect. He is inferior to me. I am superior to him.’ He forces others to follow his ways and views.”  (pgs. 44, 45 Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 9: It, indeed, is subtle and dangerous. But how to destroy it?

Answer 9: “This ego lurks like a thief when you start introspection and self-analysis. It will ELUDE your grasp and understanding. You must be alert and vigilant. If you obtain the GRACE of the Lord through JAPA, kirtan, prayer and DEVOTION, you CAN EASILY kill this ego.”  (pg. 46, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda) 

Mantra Japa and Japa Yoga


Question 1: A high premium has been placed on Japa (=chanting). Isn’t chanting but incantation of a certain formula or a group of words? How could a mindless repetition of a set of words can become a life-saving instrument, or one that has the key to life mysteries?

“A SPIRITUAL mantra puts us in touch with the highest goal of human life, the Self. Such a mantra is NO ordinary combination of letters and syllables, but a living force. The Nam,e of God is not different from God.” (pg. 80, Where Are You Going? by Swami Muktananda)

Question 2: How is it different from other practices like meditation, yoga, ritualistic prayers, etc.?

“While other techniques are means of attaining Him, mantra (chanting) is His very being. That is why it is SO easy to experience God by repeating the mantra. Mantra repetition bears fruit very quickly.”  (pg. 80, Where Are You Going? by Swami Muktananda)

Saint Tukaram, “With the Name of God on your lips, the bliss of liberation is right in your hand.” (pg. 80, Where Are You Going?)

Question 3: Everyone about me is chanting but I do not see any difference in them or in their lives. They have not changed or changing. How come chanting isn’t working for them?

Saint Tukaram, “Everyone repeats the Name of Rama (=God), including cheats, thieves, and priests. But the way in which the great devotee repeats the Name is entirely different, because the Name redeems them.” (pg. 81, Where Are You Going?)

“The mantra has its own power. However, if we want to obtain the full fruit of the mantra, we have to repeat it with FULL AWARENESS of its meaning… Most of the time, we repeat the mantra with the WRONG understanding, thinking that the syllables of the mantra and the object of the mantra are different from each other and from ourselves. That is why the mantra does not bear immediate fruit for us.” (pg. 81, Where Are You Going? by Swami Muktananda

Japa Versus Meditation


Question: What is the most efficacious way to attain God?

Swami Yatiswarananda: Japa—repetition of the divine Name is a most efficacious first step. (pg. 302, Meditation & Spiritual Life)

Question: I have been doing Japa but I do not see any evidence of my attaining God.

Swami Yatiswarananda: Japa is not to be done parrot-like. Patanjali says, “Tajjapastadartha-bhavanam” (Yoga Sutra 1:28). As you repeat the divine name, do the “arthabhavana“. What is “arthabhavana“? Dwelling on the meaning. You find trhat as you progress in spiritual life, you understand the deeper and deeper ‘meaning’ of the mantra. first of all, let us think of the luminous, blissful Form of the Ista Devata. Then, think of Him as an embodiment of infinite purity, knowledge, devotion, compassion, love and bliss. Then, think that He is no other than the Paramatman—the all pervading Spirit dwelling in all beings. (pg. 302, Meditation & Spiritual Life).

Question: I think, I am more into meditation (=dhyana) than chanting (=japa): Meditation appeals to me more.

Swami Yatiswarananda: We talk of dhyana or meditation. You say, ‘I am meditating.’ What are you meditating on? Going on brooding over something or other? That is not what is implied by that word…. (Meditation) will not come all of a sudden. Japa (=chanting) is a step towards that. Repeat the divine Name, thinking of Him; then, the mind becomes a little calmer, and even the sound drops off. As you  thus go on thinking of Him, the Ista Devata becomes more and more real than the things of the world. (Then, meditation takes place.) (pg. 302, Meditation & Spiritual Life).

Question: How often must I do Japa (=chanting) or all these that you have said before I see any results?

Swami Yatiswarananda: All this will happen if we undergo regular spiritual practice. (pg. 302, Meditation & Spiritual Life).

What Is Japa?


Question: What is meant by Japa (=Chanting)?

Ramana Maharshi: “Japa means clinging to one thought to the exclusion of all other thoughts,. That is the purpose (of Japa). It (should eventually) lead to dyana (=meditation), which (in turn) ends in Self-Realisation or jnana.” (pg. 56, The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi)

Question: How should I carry on Nama-japa (=chanting the holy name of God)?

Ramana Maharshi: “One should not use the Name of God mechanically and superficially without the feeling of devotion. To use the Name of God, one must call upon Him with yearning and unreservedly surrender oneself to Him. Only after such surrender is the Name of God (would) constantly (be) with the Man.” (pg. 56, The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi)

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” [Deuteronomy 5:11] [NIV 2011]