Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

sAdhana chatuShTaya

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Definition - Dr. Ram Chandran

The vivekachUDAmaNi (one of Shankara's important works on advaita philosophy) specifies the required qualifications for a seeker as – the one who discriminates between real and the unreal, whose mind is turned away from the unreal, who possesses calmness and cherished virtues, and who is longing for liberation.

The foremost qualification is viveka - discrimination between the Real and the unreal. Next comes vairAgya – renunciation of all transitory enjoyments of fruits of one's action. The resting of the mind steadfastly on its Goal (Brahman) by detaching continually detached itself from the senses is shama or calmness. Turning the sense-organs away from sense-objects and keeping them under control is dama or self-control. Controlling the mind by self- withdrawal from the influence of external objects is uparati. titikShA or forbearance requires the person to bear all distress without reacting or looking for remedies and keeping the mind from anxiety. shraddhA or faith with dedication, devotion and conviction is the most crucial virtue which enables the person to visualize the truth stated by the scriptures, sages and saints. samAdhAna or self- steadiness (steadfast peace) requires constant concentration of the intellect on the ever-pure Brahman. The last but not least is mumukShutva, the desire to free oneself from bondage to worldly attractions by recognizing one's True Divine Nature. In other words a student who treads the path of Truth must, therefore, first equip himself / herself with sAdhana chatuShTaya - the FOUR MEANS OF SALVATION.

As stated above these consist of: viveka (discrimination), vairAgya (dispassion), shamAdi ShaTka sampatti (the six-fold qualities of perfection), and mumukShutva (intense longing for liberation). [sampatti means ‘accomplishments’; ShaTka means ‘consisting of six’; shamAdi refers to shama, the first of them.] Then alone will he/she be able to march forward fearlessly on the path. Vedic scriptures implicitly and explicitly declare that not an iota of spiritual progress is possible without the above mentioned four qualifications. These qualifications are acquired in sequence – just like going from elementary-school to middle-school, secondary-school and college. viveka dawns in a seeker through the Grace of God; vairAgya that is born of Viveka is enduring and ever lasting. The shamAdi ShaTka sampatti, the six-fold virtues consist of shama, dama, uparati, titikShA, shraddhA and samAdhAna, is impossible without the presence of vairAgya. These six qualities should be taken as one because they are interrelated and they together can bring the body mind and intellect under control. mumukShutva is the intense desire for liberation from the wheel of births and deaths with its concomitant evils of old age, disease, delusion and sorrow. If one is equipped with the first three qualifications (viveka, vairAgya and shamAdi ShaTka sampatti), then mumukShutva, the intense desire for liberation will come without any difficulty.

The above list of the necessary qualifications for salvation stated above certainly will appear later in weekly definitions. I believe for this week (and possibly for several weeks) let us discuss the importance of the six-fold virtues or shamAdi ShaTka sampatti. This could be the right time to point out that these are also important ingredients for j~nAna Yoga. Also j~nAna yoga can be explained through shravaNa (listening to the Truth uttered in the scriptures from a qualified guru), manana (contemplating on the Truth uttered by the guru) and nididhyAsana ( practicing deep and constant meditation).shravaNa is not only an integral part of j~nAna Yoga, it is also one of the nine modes of Bhakti Yoga. shravaNa is considered superior to mere reading of the scriptures and a qualified guru should impart the teachings directly to the student. Only a student with shraddhA will be able to learn the truth about Atman from the guru. The internet discussions, web pages and books are just preparation before meeting a teacher and will never replace the direct contact with a live teacher. manana indicates that the student should spend some time in solitude and quiet in order to think deeply about the implications of what has been learnt. nididhyAsana is deep and constant meditation and from the discussed two steps it is now obvious to the seeker that brahman is the only reality that counts and its realization is all the aspirant wants.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012