It is often said that Mother never prescribed any sadhana or practice to anybody. So, it is often the conclusion that one need not do any sadhana or practice. But, is it so?
Once, in 1959 or '60, my father Late Sri Ramachandra Rao guru and Late Sri Ramaraju Krishna Murthy guru were talking to' Mother while I was silently sitting there in a corner listening to the conversation. Sri R. Krishna Murthy asked Mother –“Mother what practices should one do?” Amma said, “Anything that one can do can be a practice. Anyway, I do not think that anything is there in your hands. Only when it is possible, you can do it. (i.e., when it is pre ordained). Otherwise however much you may try, you can never accomplish it. For example, set the alarm at 5’O’clock and try to rise at that exact hour without even a minute's deviation either way. It is also a sadhana.”
In this conversation, I do not see that Mother forbade sadhana anywhere. She only pointed out our weakness. However, as it suits us, we have read into it that mother said that we could not even wake up at a particular hour because it was not pre ordained so. Instead if only we could take it that Mother was only referring to her view point on the matter. As Mother, she compassionately takes a lenient view that we are weak because she made us so. However, we can look at it in another way and think –Hey! Let me try this. Let me develop my concentration and try to do it - let me wake up at exactly 5o'clock for a few days'. Then, it certainly develops our personality in a positive way. In fact, that is the main purpose of all sadhana or practices.
In this connection, another question surfaced in my mind. What Is ‘sadhana’? Is it merely getting up at a certain hour? Or is it merely holding the breath? Is it merely going to the temple or reading scriptures?
Luckily for me, I stumbled upon a beautiful book with the very Name ‘Sadhana’. Even a glance at the contents page was mind blowing and a revelation in itself. ‘Antaranga sadhana’, 'Ethical Sadhana’, ’Brahmacharya Sadhana’, 'Mount Sadhana(silence). Sadhana of Antamukha vrithi (looking inside) -, circumspection, self analysis, Pratipaksha Bhava and Sadhana by spiritual vision are all types of Sadhana. Swara Sadhana, Laya Yoga Sadhana, Pranava sadhana, Soham sadhana, Vichara sadhana, Dhyana Yoga sadhana, Saguna and Nirguna, Japa Yoga, Mantra Yoga sadhana, Sankirtana Sadhana or chanting of the name, Tantra Yoga Sadhana, Kriya Yoga, Sangeeta and Synthesis are all sadhanas or practices of several kinds.
More are yet to come. But what riveted my attention was the modernity of approach. For, there are sadhanas for mastering the mind, practices for controlling the senses etc. There are sadhanas or practices for developing Vairagya, eradicating jealousy, annihilating arrogance and for subjugating hatred, for controlling anger and for conquering fear. Success, prosperity, peace and enlightenment are all things that one wishes for. If only we could spare a moment or two to make our wish a reality! Bhaktiyoga Sadhana, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga sadhanas, Hatha Yoga and Vedantic sadhanas are mentioned.
Good! What is the relevance?
Which sadhana have we taken up? Are we meditating on So- ham'? or are we observing the breath? When mother said “At first there is a ‘kaki’, and from some where ‘E’ came and I became Ekaki (Lonely) - did the question why? or the question what? could be the meaning of this popped up in our mind. Then it is sadhana!
What are the impediments in our quest here? Practice may be a slippery path. But, courage, cheerfulness and perseverance and patience move us forward. Idle talk, gossiping and curiosity to hear rumours and meddling with the affairs of others are the main obstacles to sadhana. We can recall mother saying “criticizing others is ignorance and oneself is the right knowledge (vivekam)". At the same time looking at things in their proper light is essential - Emotion may be mistaken for devotion. Violent jumping during Sankeertana may be mistaken for divine ecstasy - exhaustion as Bhava Samadhi - movement of air in Rheumatism in the back for ascent of Kundalini - building castles in the air for meditation and Tandri for Samadhi, and physical nudity for jivanmukti state. But one should discard all these and move forward. Depression, doubt and fear are some of the main obstacles. Vasanas are powerful. Passion and slackness, irregularity and lack of intense aspiration are some other obstacles. Too much eating, talking and sleep could hinder. Arguments lead us nowhere. Power, name, fame and wealth stiffen the ego and so is the desire for power.
If one keeps as his goal Love and Universal Love, an easy synthesis of all the yogas could easily be formed. All the yogas are interdependent and inseparable. Service is love in expression. Knowledge is diffused love -an awareness of ones self in all beings. Bhakthi yoga is the fulfillment of Jnana yoga and Karma yoga.
Thus, all these paths lead to the final culminating point, i.e. universal love and recognizing Mother everywhere. That is the principle of Mother. Savatra Mamakaram - infinite love without any reason towards all - animals and even inanimate is Mother's principle. If we take up any one of the small steps, Mother surely would guide our steps. Let us chant Jayaho Matha and move forward doing any practice that we may like. Only let us not attribute to Mother the theory of inaction.
P.S: (Most of the material is from Sadhana by Swami Sivananda of Hrishikesh. Pub.1958)