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TheSadhanaofLove

AcaryaVimaleshanandaAvadhuta
Sadhanameansspiritualeffort.Itisnormallyreferredtoasmeditation.Whilemeditation
isforsureaspiritualeffort,itisreductivetoconsiderthatsadhanaisjustmeditation.Soinorder
tocapturetheessenceofsadhana,westartourresearchfromthemostavailableexternalsource
ofinformation.Ifwesearchonthedictionarywefindthefollowingdefinition:
(Hinduism)"Oneofanumberofspiritualpracticesordisciplineswhich
leadtoperfection,thesebeingcontemplation,asceticism,worshipofagod,andcorrectliving".
WordOriginfromSanskrit:effective
CollinsEnglishDictionaryComplete&Unabridged2012DigitalEdition

Inthisdefinitionthekeyforadeeperunderstandingisinthedeterminationofaspiritual
goal,whichisgiveninaratherbroadwayasperfection.Thelistofspiritualpracticesor
disciplinescouldbeextendedalmostinfinitelytoincludealltypesofmartialartsandtheirforms,
as well as all types of fine arts. So, in fact sadhana includes basically all types of refined
expressionsthatarecultivatedwithanearnestdesireoffulfillmentuntiltheirmasteryleadsto
perfection.ForexampleIwouldincludenotonlytheteaceremonyorthemandalaproduction,
whichareclassicalintheBuddhistZenandTibetantraditions,butalsotraditionalcraftmaking
arts,likepotteryorcalligraphy.Iwouldevendaretoincludeamarriageinasocietywhereitis
becomingincreasinglycomplextopreservetheunityofafamily.

Itisratherpossiblethatsadhanahasdifferentmeaningsordefinitions.Ifwelookintothe
extensiveworkofShriiShriiAnandamurti,founderofAnandaMarga,wewillfindseveral
referencestosadhanawithdifferentimportsandrelevance:

Sonowyogaandtantrahavecomeclosetoeachotherinmeaning.Yogameansthe
unificationofjiivatmaandParamatma.Andhowcanthisunificationtakeplace?Itispossible
throughgradualexpansion,thatis,bydintoftheconstantpracticeofTantra.Thispracticalcult
or spiritual sadhana exists only in Tantra and nowhere else. Prarthanarcana matraeva
bhramamulam.Thatis,Prayerandeulogyonlymisleadone.Onlybydintofspiritualcultcan
oneattainsuccess.ThussadhanaisTantraandTantraissadhana.
YogaandTantra

26October1979DMC,Gaddopur

Inthisparagraphwearepresentedwithaconceptionof sadhana, whichisassociated


withYogaandTantra.Sadhanaispresentedasapracticalcultandnotasatheoreticalconcept.
TheunificationconceptthatisproperofYogabecomesTantrainitspracticalapplication.The
rangeofthedifferentprocessesleadingtounification,canbeallcategorizedassadhana.Hence
theclosingremark:SadhanaisTantraandTantraissadhana.
AsaTantricMasterShriiShriiAnandamurtidwellsinthesadhanafieldlikeafarmerin
hisplotofland:
Peopleslifebecomesmechanicaliftheyareoverwhelmedwiththesentimentthatthey
mustdosuchacts,mustperformsuchyajina(sacrifice),mustriseinthismannerandsitinthis
mannerandgetupinthismannerandsoon.Suchapersonisnothappyandthistypeof
ritualismcannotbecalledrealKarma.Toserveothersatonessacrificeiscalledpenance.In
theabsenceofloveanyserviceorpenanceisforshowandisthereforefruitless.Allritualistic
devotion,shampenance,countingbeadsetc.aremeantonlyforpublicshowandtrueloveand
theSupremegoalarelostfromsight.Brahmacannotbeattainedthroughactions,sincethe
sweetness of joy is lacking in such ritualism. On the other hand the divine bliss is easily
attainabletothosewhobasetheirSadhanaonlove.
YajinaandKarmaphala
MaghiiPurnima1955DMC

Ritualsarebydefinitionrepetitive.Althoughitispopularlysaidthatrepetitionleadsto
perfection such types of spiritual sadhana, in order to be successful, require an essential
ingredientwhichislove.Andlovemakeseachrepetitiondifferentfromoneanother.Thisisthe
beautyandcharmingattractionoftruesadhana.Itisneverthesamealthoughitcanbeassimple
aspreparingacupofteaorshootinganarrowwithabow.Meditationaschiefsadhanapractice
respectsthegeneralrule:therearenottwomeditationsthatarealike.Rathereachtimeitisanew
learningexperience.

Sadhana canbeassociatedwiththedevelopmentofahumanbeinginitsfullpotential
valueandattributions,asishintedinthefollowingdefinition:

Now,itmaybesaidthatthemicrocosmsareverysmallhowwilltheybecomevast?
Pashabaddhobhavetjiivahpashasamuktahbhavecchivah.(Thosewhoareinbondagearecalled
jiivas,andthosewhohavebeenfreedareShiva.)Buthowtogetridofthebondages?Bydoing
sadhanaandkiirtanaonewillhavetomoveforward:onemustnotbecaughtinthesnaresof
bondage.Humanbeingscomeontothisearthforaveryshortperiod,andtheymustmakethe
fullestutilizationoftheshortspanoftheirlives.Theyshouldalwaysrememberthattheymaybe
tiny,seeminglyinsignificantportionsofthisuniverse,butafteralltheyexistwithinHimand
remainwithHim.Usuallytheydonotrealizethis,becausetheyareboundbythesnaresof
Maya.Theydonotrealizethathoweverinsignificanttheymayseem,theyarewithHim;andas
therecannotbeanythingoutsideofParamaPurusatheyalsoexistwithinHim,andthusHehas
becometheirpersonalproperty.Thosewhoarewisefromtheworldlypointofviewareless
devotional;theysay,AsParamaPurusabelongstoall,thusHebelongstomealso.The
karmiis (peopleofaction) say,AsParamaPurusaismine,Hebelongstoeveryoneelseas
well.Butthedevoteessay,AsParamaPurusaismypersonalproperty,Hebelongstomeand
tomealone.Iamreadytogiveupeverythingelse,butnotHim.
WhatAretheNobleTruths?
20March1979DMC,Kanpur

Sadhana impliesexpansiontowardstheinfinite.Duringthisprocessofexpansion,the
psychologicaloutlookofthepersondoing sadhana changes,givingtothepersonalityrather
majestictraitsofincreasedconfidenceandresponsibility.Asthepersongetsmoreconfidencehe
orsheisabletoassumegreaterresponsibilities.Byfulfillingthoseresponsibilities,theirvalue
andbenefitforsocietygrow. Sadhana becomes anessentialtoolforthetransformationand
elevationoftheentirehumansociety.
Onceloveordevotionhavebeenacceptedasthecore,sadhanaisboundtoreflectinthe
externalworldinthemostbeneficialandeffectiveway:
You are following the path of sadhana. Always remember that you must establish
yourselfinpuredevotionandnotformaldevotion.Andtobecomeestablishedinpuredevotion
youmustperformvirtuousdeeds,practicespiritualsadhanaregularly,renderselflessserviceto
the world, and wage a relentless fight against wrongs and injustice. There is no room for
cowardice.Mayyoubevictorious.
VaedhiiBhaktiandShuddhaBhakti
26November1966DMC,Midnapur

Sadhanaisapathofcourageandvictory,notapathofformalityandexternalshow.Itis
apathwhere,ifyoudirtyyourhands,youjustwashthem.Ifyoucommitamistake,yourectifyit
andforgetaboutit.Onthepathof sadhana perfectionisachievedbythedeterminationtogo
ahead and not by overburdening with formality. Consider the concluding sentence of the
previoussecondquote:Ontheotherhandthedivineblissiseasilyattainabletothosewhobase
theirSadhanaonlove.

Divineblissisanaturaloutcomewhenwearefreefrombondages.Fearforexample,is
oneofthemostpervasivebondages.Loveandfearcompetewitheachother.Themorespaceis
giventolove,thelesspowerremainsforfear.When sadhana isbasedonlove,itisrather
impossibletomaintaintheextremecriticaleyeofacynic.Faultfindingandloveareratherat
oddterms.Thosewhomeasureeachandeverystepandcalculateeachandeveryconsequenceof
theiractions,havearatherhardtimetowalkonthepathofloveandkindness.Somyviewon
Sadhanaisthatnotonlyisitbasedonlove,itisloveitselfanditsgoalisalsolove.Loveisthe
beginningandloveistheendofSadhana.Thereisnomoreamistakeonthepathofthelover.
And naturally, with the conditions of full trust and surrender, the spiritual effort becomes
effortless.
Theessenceofsadhanaisservice.Itmeansthatlovecannotbeseparatedfromservice
norfromsadhana.Serviceispartofsadhana.ThisisclearinAnandaMargaphilosophywhere,
for example, in the 16 points the sadhana point specifically includes service and not only
meditation. Even Hatha Yoga or asanas are included in the sadhana point. The nature of
sadhana isinclusiveandnotexclusive.Itisforeachandeveryhumanbeingandnotforfew
electedones.Sadhanaisforall,Yogaisforallandserviceisuniversalinnatureandpracticalin
application. In Ananda Marga there is a department called Ananda Marga Universal Relief
TeamsorAMURT,whichisresponsibleforprovidinghelpinallemergenciesorcalamities.Itis
obviousthatduringemergenciesthereisnoroomforhightalkorphilosophy.Theefforttosave
humanlives,blindsoffanydiscriminationbasedforexampleonnationalityorreligiousbelief.
Thereismoretosayabouttherelationshipbetweensadhanaandservice.Onthepathof
spiritualelevation,whichissometimescomparedtotheclimbingofamountain,wewillfindthat
thestageofselflessserviceisthelateststageofspiritualdevelopment.
Kurupunyamahoratram.(Dogooddayandnight) Ahoratram meansthetwentyfourhour
periodfromsunrisetosunrise.Itisadvisedthatoneshouldacquirevirtue(punyam)aroundthe
clock.Doinggoodtoothersisvirtue.Wecometoacentralaspectofservice,asawaytouse
properlyallourtime,24hoursaday.

SaintsofallreligionslikeMirabai,SanFrancisofAssisi,SaintTheresadAvila,Kabir
andmorerecentlyMadreTeresaofCalcutta,havepracticedservicedayandnightindifferent
forms.Meditation,whenitisbasedonlove,isalsoservice.Theonlydifferenceisthatisdone
withthemindanddoesnotimplyphysicalactionorcounterpart.Yet,theattitudeisjustthe
same.
The Four Stages of Spiritual Development are described in the Yoga Sutras of
Patainjali.Theyaredescribedasstagesofdetachmentforachievingperfectdiscrimination.In
theworksofShriiShriiAnandamurtiwefindthateachstagehasspecificpeculiaritiesregarding
thetypeofobstaclesencounteredintheinnerandexternalword.Itcanbenoticedthatinthelast
stage,calledvashikara,orthestageoffullcontrol,thepersonisfreefromallattachments.It
means that the mind is in the position to guide action unbiased by external pressure or
conditioning. It is a very pleasurable state where service flows undisturbed and apparently
withouteffort.
WhatistherelationshipbetweensadhanaandtheFourStagesofSpiritualDevelopment?
Sadhanatakesdifferentforms,accordingtothestageassociated.InthefirststageofYatamana
thereisstressonthephysicalplane,duetooppositionsthatcomefromenvironmentandinner
propensities. Sadhanaisthe sadhana ofYamaand Niyama,theprinciplesthatregulatehuman
conduct.Itistheeffortofpracticingmoralityinthemiddleofstormingpassionsandconflicting
views.ShouldIcontinuetobevegetarianagainsttheadviceofmydoctororfamily?ShouldI
stopsmokingforgoodortrytorelinquishthedesireofsmokinglittlebylittle? Yatamana is
consideredthemostdifficultstage,inthesensethatthepresentinertiaisverystrongandtriesto
pullapersonbackateverystep.Itisbeginningoftheascenttothespiritualmountain.The
mountainlookssobigthatisalmostoverwhelming.Butasthesadhakamovesforward,thesight
getsonthepathandstepbystepallobstaclesbecomeusefulfriendsorevencompanionsonthe
journeytowardsthefinaldestination.
In the second stage as there is a higher degree of control over the propensities.
Meditationbecomesthebestandmostpleasurabletoolforspiritualadvancement.Thereisan
awarenessthatmeditationislikeacompassdirectingone'slife.Itisthesadhanaofsittingfor
longperiodsoftime,withoutbreakingthespiritualideationgivenbythemantra.Itisthe
pleasureofenduringtheeffortlikeabakercraftingthebreadthroughthenight.Itisthemiddle
of the mountain climb, where the measurement of the time wanes and the ups and downs
seeminglyneverend.Onekeepsgoingwithapositiveattitude,crossingforestafterforest,hill
afterhill,turnafterturn,untilthefinalclearing,whichshowsthesightofthepick.
Inthethirdstage,allpropensitiesareundercontrol,exceptforonewhichmaybecome
overwhelminglypowerfuldestroyingallfruitsofsadhanaalreadyconquered.Itisjustlikeatank
fullofwaterwhereonlyoneholeisleft.Thewaterwillshootoutwithenormousforceuntilthat

finaldefecthasbeenmended.Itisthestagewheresadhanatakestheformofsurrenderandwhat
bestwaytosurrenderexists,thansingingthepraiseoftheLord,whichisKiirtan?Youclanged
onthesteepwallofthemountaintowardsthetopandithasbecomeratherdangeroustolook
downoreventhinktogoback.Whatelseremainsthantomakethelasteffortandproceedupto
theend?
Inthefourthstagewhenallpropensitiesareundercontrol, sadhana takestheformof
service.Alessonpracticedoverandoverbecomesalessonassimilatedatthecoreandpracticed,
withouttheinvolvementoftheprocessofthinking.Thereisnopossibilitytogetdirtyorimpure,
astheminddoesnotacceptnegativeinternalorexternalstimuli.Itsees,butdoesnotsee.It
hears,butdoesnothear.Ittouchesbutitdoesnottouch.ItisthestageofAvadhutawherethe
wholeuniversebecomestheobjectofservice.Thereisnomoreduality,asintrueserviceno
distinctionexistsevenbetweenhumansandanimals,animateandinanimate.Everythingisan
expressionoflove.Goodandbadbecomephenomenathatappearanddisappear,butonlynever
endingloveremains.
Althoughthestagesofpsychospiritualdevelopmentaremeanttobesuccessiveoneafter
another,thereareglimpsesofthelaststageinthelifeofeveryhumanbeingwhethertheyareon
a spiritual path or not. Such glimpses are the manifestation of the grace of God, which is
bestowedoneverybodyandblessesthehumbleones,whoreallydontknowiftheyarespiritual
ornot,elevatedornot,learnedornotlearned.Theymayormaynotdomeditationorspiritual
practice,butintheirheartsthereisanonlyoneeternalsong:ThankYou,ThankYou,Thank
You.
Humanbeingsarespiritualbeingsinessenceandtheyareboundtobecomespiritual
beingsinpractice.Serviceisaninherentcharacteristicofallhumanbeings.Itispartoftheir
Dharma.So,sadhanabecomesanefforttopurifythemindandtoremembersomethingthatis
codedinourhumangenes,love.
Thesadhanaofloveistheverysweetefforttoalwayscarrywithinusthegratitudefor
beinggracedwithahumanformandhumanmind,abletoconnectwiththesubtlestexpressions
offeelingsandemotionsthatmanifestinourrelationshipsandwithinourselves.Whatthencan
bethebestuseofourtime?