Meditation on Ishta Devatas
This is meditation on a Murty, either Lord Krishna, Rama, Siva or Devi. This is a concrete form of meditation for people of Bhakti-Marga. This is meditation with Gunas, attributes of God. Repeat His name also. Think of His attributes, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, etc. Your mind will be filled with purity. Lord Krishna's picture with flute in hand and Lord Vishnu's picture with conch, discus, mace and lotus are excellent ones of concrete meditation. Enthrone Him in the lotus of your heart amidst blazing light. Mentally think of His lotus-feet, yellow silk robe, necklace set with Kaustubha gem, earrings, crown, bracelets, conch, discus, mace and lotus, and then again come back to His feet. Again and again repeat the process.
Saguna meditation is meditation on a form. Select any Murty you like best, either Siva, Vishnu, Rama or Krishna, according to your inclination or taste. Or follow the directions of your Guru. He will select for you the Ishta Devata or tutelary deity which will guide you. An archer first aims at grosser and bigger objects. Then takes up medium objects. Finally he shoots at finer and subtle objects. Even so, one should take to Saguna meditation to start with and when the mind is trained and disciplined well, he can have Nirakara, Nirguna meditation. Saguna meditation is meditation on a concrete object. Nirguna meditation is meditation on an abstract idea. Saguna Upasana removes Vikshepa. For three or six months, practise Trataka on any picture.
After six months' practice of Trataka, meditate on the mental picture of the Murty from half to two hours only in the Trikuti (space between the two eyebrows). See and feel that the Ishta Devata is present in every object in the universe. When you meditate, mentally repeat the Mantra of the Devata. Think of the attributes of the deity, such as omnipotence, omniscience, etc. Feel that Sattvic qualities from the deity flow towards you. Feel that you possess this Sattvic Bhavana. You will have Darsana of your Ishta Devata in one or two years, if you are sincere in your Sadhana. Follow this plan. This will help concentration. Move the mind on the various parts of the Murty. Take for instance the picture of Lord Vishnu with four hands and meditate as follows. The practice of Trataka is of great use in this Saguna meditation.
"Dhyeyah sada savitrimandalamadhyavarti
Keyuravan makarakundalavan Kiriti
"Meditate always on Narayana seated in the Asana of lotus-flower in the midst of a lustrous sun in the lotus of heart or in Trikuti with golden armlets set with diamond, with earrings, with golden crown set with diamond, with golden necklace set with Kaustubha gem and with golden colour, with discus, conch, mace and lotus-flower in four hands-that indestructible Achyuta of Dvaraka."
During meditation, move the mind on the various parts of Vishnu. See the various parts of Vishnu. See with the mind His feet first, then legs, then His yellow silk cloth, then His golden Hara set with diamond, Kaustubha gem, etc., on the breast, then the earrings, Makara Kundalas, then the face, then the crown on the head, then the discus on the right upper hand, then the conch on the upper left hand, then the mace on the lower right hand, then the lotus-flower on the left lower hand. This is the order. Then come down to the feet and start again to the upper parts. By this method the mind will not run towards objects.
First meditate on Virat-Purusha. Then take up Saguna meditation. Lastly have Nirguna meditation.
Meditation on Virat Purusha
Sit in Padma or Siddha Asana in your meditation room and meditate on the following thoughts for half an hour daily. This is a gross form of meditation for six months.
1. Heaven is His head.
2. Earth is His foot.
3. Quarters are His hands.
4. Sun and moon are His eyes.
5. Fire is His mouth.
6. Dharma is His back.
7. Grass and herbs are His hairs.
8. Mountains are His bones.
9. Sea is His bladder.
10. Rivers are His arteries and veins.
The mind will expand now. Afterwards take to Saguna meditation on a form of God such as Rama, Krishna or Siva. Have this kind of meditation for a year. Then have recourse to Nirguna meditation on Brahman. By the practice of these various methods, the mind becomes a fit instrument to take up abstract meditation on an abstract idea.
Meditation on Gayatri
Gayatri is the "Blessed Mother" of the Vedas. It is a symbol of God, the Lord of created beings. Japa of Gayatri Mantra produces Chitta-Suddhi without which you can do nothing, nothing in spiritual line. You can never effect an iota of spiritual progress. Gayatri is an effective universal prayer. This is also known as Brahma Gayatri.
Om Bhur Bhuvah Svah; Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi; Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat.
Om - Para Brahman
Bhur - Bhu-Loka (Physical plane)
Bhuvah - Antariksha-Loka (Astral plane)
Svah - Svarga-Loka (Celestial plane)
Tat - Brahman; Paramatman
Savitur - Isvara; Creator
Varenyam - Fit to be worshipped
Bhargo - Remover of sins and ignorance; Glory
Devasya - Of the shining one
Dhimahi - We meditate
Dhiyo - Intellects; Buddhis
Yo - Which; Who
Nah - Our
Prachodayat - Enlighten
"Let us meditate on Isvara and His Glory, Who has created this universe, Who is fit to be worshipped, Who is the remover of all sins and ignorance. May He enlighten our Buddhis (intellects)."
Retire into the meditation room after bath just before sunrise. Sit in your Asana and repeat the Mantra mentally as many times as you can, but not less than 108 times and constantly feel that you are receiving light, purity and wisdom from Gayatri. Concentrate on the meaning of the Gayatri. This is important. Have your gaze at the Trikuti, the place between the two eyebrows.