SADHANA CATUSTAYA (BASIC QUALIFICATIONS)
Any field in education demands a basic qualification. Only then that education becomes easier and a continuous process. If a person enters in any field of education without a proper qualification, he may not understand the intricacies of that field. Deep understanding of Advaita philosophy also demands some basic qualifications. These basic qualifications are known as sadhana catustaya. Sadhana catustaya makes the mind pure for grasping this subtle philosophy. If one has not practiced sadhana catustaya then the truths of Vedanta will not go deep inside him. He may find it difficult to practice Vedanta in practical life. It is advisable to practice sadhana catustaya so that his mind becomes prepared for this Atma vidya. The nature of qualification one needs in the spiritual realm is of the nature of purity of the mind (citta-suddhi) and single pointedness of the intellect (citta-ekagrata). Only an adhikari (qualified person) uses this knowledge to the maximum extend. Without sadhana catustaya the profound facts of Vedanta are not understood in the correct sense and meaning. It is not to discourage anyone from the study of Vedanta. It is only to emphasis that this knowledge is benefit to the extend they are qualified. The very venture in to Vedanta and practicing various spiritual disciplines enables one to become as adhikari.
Sadhana catustaya is the fourfold qualification and it is explained in a number of occasions in scriptures. However, it is explained very clearly in Tattva bhodha and Vivekachudamani of Sri Sankaracharya.
The sadhana catustaya are
1. Viveka or differentiation
2. Vairagya or dispassion
3. Samadi-satka-sampatti or the six diciplines (or virtues) of the mind
4. Mumuksutvam or the desire for liberation.
The knowledge attained is known as the intellect; it is the intellect which differentiates between the right and the wrong, pleasure and pain, honour and dishonour and so on. This differentiation determines the quality of knowledge one has attained. Sometimes the intellect differentiates person according to their race, caste, material wealth etc. Such cases show that the knowledge attained is not proper. Vedanta differentiates between the permanent and ephemeral. Sankaracharya’s Tattva bhodha says, “Viveka is the understanding that Brahman alone is permanent and everything apart from it is ephemeral”. Only humans have the capacity to differentiate due to proper understanding. Right understanding results in differentiating the permanent end ephemeral. This differentiation is known as the “nitya-anitya-vastu-viveka“.
This Universe has a beginning and an end. Our body also has a beginning and an end. It is not present before the birth or after death, and hence it is impermanent. However, by wrong notion we assume the body to be the Self. Since the body and universe are impermanent, the mind and intellect which gives experience of the world through the body is also impermanent. However, all these changes take place in a changeless substratum called Brahman. This understanding and knowledge about the changeless Brahman and the rest is termed as viveka in Vedanta. Viveka is the very basis of the remaining three aspects of sadhana-catustaya, namely vairagya, samadi -satka-sampatti and mumuksutvam.
2. Vairagya or dispassion
The second aspect of sadhana catustaya is vairagya or dispassion. The mentality to lose anything at any time without any mental disturbance is called vairagya. The absence of desire to enjoy pleasure is vairagya. When viveka is strong vairagya happens automatically. When one has clear idea that everything other than Brahman is temporary, then vairagya automatically happens. When the mind does not pursue after the infinite pleasure of the senses, then it turns towards the Self. A finite pleasure does not leave the mind without causing pain.
3. Samadi-satka-sampatti – It is the third aspect of sadhana catustaya. It is a set of six disciplines of the mind-intellect. Each one of them is explained briefly,
- Sama or mastery of the mind – the mind is a continuous flow of thoughts. Preventing the mind from running towards the world of objects is called Sama. It is to make the mind introvert so that it helps the spiritual progress. If the mind is clear about the temporary nature of the worldly pleasures then sama comes automatically.
- Dama or mastery over the senses – the mind experiences the world through the sense organs. The sense organs are grosser than the mind and they are comparatively easy to be controlled. If viveka and vairagya are strong then it is easy to practice dama.
- Uparama or withdrawal – it is the natural withdrawal of the senses and the mind from external objects. By withdrawal the mind remains peaceful. It will not wander towards the finite pleasures. In vivekachudamani Sankaracharya says, “Uparama is that condition of the thought waves in which they are free from the influence of external objects”. When viveka and vairagya are strong then uparama happens automatically.
- Titiksha or forbearance – life is a series of experience gained through the body, mind and intellect. The capacity of the mind to view the pairs of opposite experiences like heat and cold, pain and pleasure, insult and honour with equal mentality is appreciated. The mentality to take the pain, sorrow and insults in their stride without becoming overly pre occupied with them is called “titiksha“. If the mind is stable in pleasure and success then it will be overcome by their opposites like pain, failure, sorrow, insult etc. When the mind has a definite goal then it faces all the challenges, difficulties and obstacles with ease.
- Sraddha or faith – faith is very important in the spiritual path. Often faith is misunderstood as blind belief. The difference between faith and blind belief is, faith is belief with deep understanding, and blind belief is belief with no proper reasoning or understanding. Faith is the trust in the words of the Guru and Vedanta.
- Samadhana or concentration – it is the single pointedness or concentration of the mind. Like in any other field samadhana is very important in the spiritual field. By viveka and vairagya the mind automatically become more concentrated on the Self. The practice of samadi-satka-sampatti help to attain success and peace in whatever endeavour we pursue.
The fourth aspect of sadhana catustaya is mumuksutvam. It is the burning desire for liberation. A mumuksu seeks Brahman with fiery passion and urgency. A mumuksu lives every moment of his life in the diligent pursuit of the Truth. He is totally possessed by his desire for Self Realization.
A person with high level of sadhana catustaya is said to be a spiritually matured person and his knowledge will lead him to realize the Self. Atleast, a basic level of sadhana catustaya is needed to grasp and understand the subtle truth of Vedanta. One can gradually improve this in due course of time. The facts of Vedanta makes one naturally a viveki and a vairagi. It does not mean that such people lead a secluded life. They understand about the Truth and the ephemeral nature of the world and they deal with worldly activities accordingly and peacefully.
Vivekachudamani, Sri Adi Sankaracharya
Tattva-bodha, Sri Adi Sankaracharya
Course material provided by CIF,Kerala.