Need for Sadhana
by Swami Sivananda
Time is most precious. You do not realise the value of time. When the patient is on the death-bed you will ask the doctor who is standing by the side of the patient, "O doctor! just do something for the patient. Give a powerful injection. Let the breath continue for some hours at least. My brother is coming from Bombay to see the patient." The doctor can only reply "My dear friend! I cannot do anything. The case is perfectly hopeless. He will pass away within five minutes." Now you will realise the value of time. You will repent for the days, months and years you have wasted in idle gossiping and sensual pleasures.
You may waste two hours in tying your turban. You may waste much time in self-shaving, combing the hair but if a devotee calls you to attend Satsanga, Sankirtan or Bhajan, you will say, "Babaji, I have no time at all. I have to go to the doctor to get medicine. I must go to the market for shopping" and you will give a thousand and one lame excuses.
You keep vigil for cinemas and dramas. You keep vigil all the night if a scorpion stings you. But you cannot keep vigil if there is Akhanda Kirtan during Vaikuntha Ekadasi or Sivaratri. What a pity?
Everybody wants to see God but nobody wants to do any Sadhana. If the Guru says, 'Practise meditation, Pranayama and study scriptures,' the disciple replies 'I have no time for that.' The teacher says, "Repeat the name of Lord Hari." The disciple replies: "I know that already. It is a long, cumbersome and ineffective way. I do not have much faith in Name."
If the Master says, "Then practise Raja Yoga and control the Vrittis gradually. Sit on one Asana for one or two hours," you will say, "I cannot sit for more than 15 minutes. My limbs ache if I sit for a long time." If you are asked to do Upasana, you will say, "There is nothing in Upasana. Idol worship is useless. I cannot concentrate on a picture. A picture is only the imagination of a painter or an artist. I wish to meditate on the all-pervading formless Brahman. Meditation on a picture is a child's play. This does not suit me well." If the teacher says, "Then do Kirtan and Japa for two hours daily," you will say, "There is nothing in Japa or Kirtan. This is suitable only for dull-headed persons. I know science well. I cannot stop to do these things. I am above Japa and Kirtan. I am quite modern." If the priest performs the Havan in the proper prescribed manner you say, "Well, Purohit! What is all this? Hurry up. I am feeling hungry. I want to go to the office at 10." If the priest hurries up, you say, "What is this? The priest said something for a couple of hours and says it is all over now. It is all waste of time, money and energy. I have no faith in Havan. There is no good in it."
If the teacher says, "Then do Pranayama and practise Sirshasana, your Kundalini will be awakened quickly," you will say, "I practised Pranayama for six months. The body became very hot. It did not agree with me. I gave up the practice. I had a fall when doing Sirshasana. I gave it up also."
This is your state of affairs. Anyhow you want spiritual bliss and realisation without doing Sadhana. You want Samadhi in the twinkling of an eye.
You lead a happy-go-lucky life. You do not want to strive hard for attaining God-realisation. If there is any work you will say, 'I will do it tomorrow. I am not quite well today. Doctor has advised me to take perfect rest in bed.' But if there is some sweetmeat-Halva or Rasagulla-you will say, "I am hungry; give it to me now. My health is all right. I can digest it quite easily."
O Man! Lord Buddha strove hard and did Tapas in the Uruvela forest. Lord Jesus did rigorous Sadhana during the missing period. All saints and Yogins have done severe Tapas and meditation. The boy Dhruva did Tapas living on air, water and grass.
The evil Vrittis such as lust, pride, jealousy, Raga-Dvesha are very deep-rooted. Pride and Raga-Dvesha do not leave even Sannyasins and Sadhus. Go to a Mahatma and tell him: "Your lecture was very beautiful and inspiring. You have touched on all points very nicely; but I cannot agree with one or two points." He will at once become angry and jump upon you and say, "O you fool! How can you criticise me? I am a great scholar and practical Yogi." Maya is very powerful. You will have to obtain the grace of the Lord through self-surrender. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says, "This divine illusion of Mine, caused by the qualities is hard to pierce (Mama Maya Duratyaya); they who come to Me, cross over this illusion."
The terrible enemy of Immortality is attachment or Moha. It is very difficult to get rid of attachment. The bee can make holes even in wood; but it perishes on account of its attachment to the honey. It sits on the flowers to gather honey. It sits on the lotus in the evening and slowly sucks honey. The lotus closes itself in the evening when the sun sets. The bee does not want to get out of the flower on account of attachment. It foolishly thinks, "I will get out of the flower tomorrow when the sun rises." An elephant comes, crushes the lotus and with it the bee also. This is the case with man also. He can do many wonderful deeds. But he gets attached to the various objects of the world and perishes. The elephant Time consumes him before he can get out of the lotus (of woman and wealth).
The serpent has the frog in its mouth. Only the head of the frog is outside. It will be devoured within a few minutes, yet even in this condition, the wretched frog projects its tongue outside to catch and eat an insect or two. Even so, O ignorant man, you are already in the mouth of Kala or Time. You will be nowhere in a few minutes. Yet you crave for and cling to the sensual objects again and again. You have become a slave of Moha or delusion and attachment.
Death is ever waiting to devour you. Pierce the lotus through dispassion, renunciation and discrimination. Give up attachment. Have faith in Lord's name. Do Japa, meditation and attain Immortality.
Do Sadhana, therefore, when there is yet time; when you are young and the body is healthy. When you are young, when you have abundant energy, you must practise concentration and meditation. You cannot do any spiritual practice during old age.