Blessed Divinities! Sadhaks and seekers! The body is the spiritual manifestation of the Supreme Being in Its grossest form. The Spirit is the ultimate invisible form of gross prakriti as She is manifest as the material universe. It is not only Vedantic siddhanta (doctrine) that declares that maya is the achintya, anirvachaniya sakti (unthinkable, indescribable power) of parabrahman, it is not only the declared truth in great hymns like Sivananda Lahari, it is also the direct intuitional experience of great God-realised sages who discovered, who actually beheld the oneness of prakriti and the supreme parabrahman.
Thus there is only One; prakriti and purusha are not two. There are not two entities called matter and Spirit. Matter is involved Spirit; Spirit is evolved matter. There is one reality—ekameva’dvitiyam brahma. At the grossest terminal of that reality it manifests as matter, and at its subtlest, transcendental other extreme, other pole, it is pure, imponderable Spirit, about which the only description is to be silent. What to say of voice, even thought is hushed into a solemn silence when it essays to utter something about that supreme, transcendental Reality.
This body is the receptacle of the Spirit, which is its subtlest inner reality, and the Spirit is a jewel within this body—a jewel within a jewel box. It is not for the jewel box that one prizes a piece of jewellery. It is because of the jewel that the jewel box also is important. If the jewel is not there, if the box is empty, it is not given much attention. It is because of the jewel within, that the box is treated with great care, is carefully protected.
In the second of his Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions, Gurudev, at one stroke touches upon both Spirit and matter—matter because it is the container of the Spirit, Spirit because it is that which makes matter valuable, precious, of importance. If the Spirit is not there, you burn matter into ashes, get rid of it as quickly as possible.
So, in his second instruction, Gurudev has something to say to us about both. “Sit on padma, siddha or sukha asana for japa and meditation for half an hour. Gradually increase the time. Do sirshasana and sarvangasana for keeping up health. Take some light physical exercises such as walking. Do breathing exercise twenty times.”
Thus the second of his Twenty Instructions speaks about physical health, but he opens first of all with the note of God. He does not speak first about walking or hatha yoga poses, but he speaks first of all about the meditative pose: “Sit on padma, siddha or sukha asana for japa and meditation”—to sit for japa and meditation. “Prabhate mani Rama chintita java—early morning when you get up, first of all think of God.”
In his first Spiritual Instruction, Gurudev says get up at 4.00 A.M., brahmamuhurta; it is very favourable for spiritual practices. Why get up? So that you may sit on padma, siddha or sukha asana for japa and meditation. You get up in order to think of God, remember Him, take His Name, direct your mind and focus it on Him. This is the way to start the day. And gradually increase the period; do not be satisfied.
We are never satisfied with eating, tasting things. We are never satisfied fulfilling our little cravings—never, never satisfied. So let that not apply only to the lesser part of our being. Let that also apply to the greater and higher part of our being. Let us have this aspiration to gradually increase the period of our japa and meditation. Gurudev makes it quite clear that the purpose of getting up early in the morning is not to listen to BBC radio or take your bed tea or coffee, but to take the Name of God, meditate upon Him, focus the mind upon Him and to be eager to gradually increase the period of doing so.
Then, after having first dwelt upon the Spirit, giving It due importance, priority and emphasis, Gurudev, being a practical teacher, a sage of practical wisdom, said that in addition to sitting in padma, siddha or sukha asana for japa and meditation, do also a little of sirshasana and sarvangasana—hatha yoga asanas for health. “Dharma’rthakamamokshanam arogyam mulam uttaman—for all four purusharthas including moksha, earning wealth, even the fulfilment of your legitimate good, sattvic desires, the health of the body is necessary.” The health of the body is of paramount importance; never neglect it. It is folly to neglect it; it is wisdom to preserve it. When you draw nearer to old age, then you will realise the truth of this adage.
Gurudev did not stop with hatha yoga asanas. He said take some light physical exercise like walking, jogging etc. And do twenty breathing exercises. Ultimately, oxygen is the essence of life and breath is the bearer of oxygen into our system. The deeper you breathe, the more volume the lungs intake and the greater the amount of oxygen you make available to your body, blood stream, all cells. So deep breathing is of paramount importance. It is a combination of breathing, light exercise which quickens the circulation, and hatha yoga asanas that bring about vital inner health. And the purpose of doing all this is to keep the body a fit instrument for seva, bhakti and jnana (service, devotion and knowledge), for japa and meditation.
Thus, in his first two Spiritual Instructions, Gurudev gives us the ideal way of entering into a new day. First, get up early in the morning. Then start the day by sitting for japa and meditation: “Start the day with God. End the day with God. Fill the day with God. This is the way to God.” It means this is the way to bliss, to peace, to perfection, to illumination. For God is only a symbolic word summing up all that is supreme, all that is blessed, all that is most auspicious, all that is most desirable, all that human beings everywhere covet, crave for, seek for—the sum totality of human aspirations and deep desires. So start the day with God by sitting for japa and meditation. Then take care of the body, the house of the Spirit, through hatha yoga, light physical exercise and breathing exercises.
May these admonitions of Gurudev be pondered. May their true value be recognised. Because the more we recognise their value, the more we will be inclined to direct our attention to them and give effect to them in our life. God bless you!
Sivananda Yoga (Yoga DVD)
Yoga, A Way of Life - Sri Swami Adhyatmananda
"Yoga and Health" - a complete book with Question & Answer section by Sri Swami Adhyatmananda
Please subscribe to Divyajivan Mailing List. We will update you with new uploads of spiritual literature on the web of Holy Master Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, saints of his lineage and other saints. We will also update you about the Sivananda Ashram, Ahmedabad website and facilitate communication with Sri Swami Adhyatmanandaji Maharaj.
To manage your subscription, please visit Subscription Page. You can also subscribe and unsubscribe from this page. You may unsubscribe by yourself anytime you wish. You will be required to send confirmation link that you will get in your e-mail to complete this subscription.