Sadhana Panchakam – Class 6


Having discussed sravanam and mananam part of Jñāna yoga, Sankarachariyar is discussing nidhithyasanam which is meant to convert the knowledge into emotional strength.  This is meant for Jñāna nishta.  Nidhithyasanam is of two types:

  1. Withdrawing from all vyākara and dwelling up on vedic teaching.  This is sitting nidhithyasanam . 
  2. Always being alert in my day-to-day transactions.  Being alert in my response to various situations, in the language I use in my transactions.  Making sure that all my transactions are in keeping with vedantic teaching and not contrary to vedantic teaching. This alert life itself is a nidhithyasanam and is as important as the sitting nidhithyasanam.  This is not confined to a particular time; it is through all my waking time. 

When a person takes to nidhithyasanam, Sankarachariyar wants that person to note certain points.  These are all values to be followed even before coming to Jñānam and values to be followed for gaining Jñānam.  First, I follow them for Jñāna and thereafter I follow them for nishta.

  1. Never argue with anyone, especially wise people.  Because arguments can boost the ego.  Also, we lose the opportunity to learn from wise people.  Here we should make the distinction between vadhaha and samvadhaha (student clarifying doubts with a teacher).  How do we distinguish between the two?  There are many differences between vadha (arguing) and samvadha (questioning):
    1. When I argue with someone I look up on that person as equal or inferior to me.  Whereas in samvadha, I don’t look up on my teacher as superior to me, in knowledge, in maturity and in all aspect.  There is a basic difference in attitude.  This attitude is expressed by the very language and tone I use.
    1. Often when I enter into an argument, I have made a conclusion on the topic.  Through argument I want to either establish my conclusion or refute the other person’s conclusion.  Whereas in a student’s approach, the student has never made a conclusion.  His aim is not to establish his conclusion or refute teacher’s conclusion; he just wants to learn.  In one the mind is closed because the conclusion is already made, in the other the mind is open because conclusion is not made.
    1. In argument, I try to talk more and more, and I don’t allow the other person to talk at all.  Even if the other person talks, I don’t listen, and I interfere before he has concluded.  Whereas the student talks the minimum; he wants to put his idea to minimum and he wants the teacher to talk more and more; when the teacher talks, he listens attentively and does not interfere. 
    1. In argument, since I have not listened to the other person, I have nothing to reflect up on.  Whereas I am listening to the teacher, I work on what I listened. 
    1. There is a possibility that even after elaborate explaining, I am not convinced of teacher’s conclusion.  Politely I ask once more, and teacher explains once more and I am still not convinced.  I put off further questioning and think over the answers given.  After giving enough time, I can raise the question.  Whereas in argument, repeatedly arguing the same thing.
    1. After samvadha, there is no disturbance or bitterness in the mind, whereas after argument there is always bitterness and disturbance in the  mind. 
  2. Be humble; amanithyam;  make sure you don’t become arrogant because of this knowledge.  Constantly remove the arrogance.

Verse 6

Food is required for all states.  Sankarachariyar discusses food for sanyasi, because grihastha gets food at home.  He discusses food as though it is a disease.   Hunger is also some kind of disease because you are not at ease:

  1. For disease there is a remedy in the form of medicine; for hunger there is a remedy in the form of food. 
  2. When you take medicine, the aim is only to cure the disease.  It is taken only when there is disease and only as much required to remove the disease.  In the same way, you must take food, only when there is hunger. 
  3. Since I am taking the medicine only for the disease, I am not particular about the taste of the medicine.  Likewise, the likes and dislikes of food should not be important.

So, you should treat the disease of hunger regularly.  But you should not ask for delicious food, because it identifies with your tongue and results in you identifying with the sthūla śarīram.  Put up with the opposite experiences like heat and cold which are dependent up on desa, kala and prarabtha.  These are the instructions for eating tongue.  Now gives instructions for talking tongue:

  1. Do not utter single word when it is not necessary to talk.  Every word is spoken only after a well processed, well thought out and well monitored.  All spiritual sadhanas begin with tongue – eating and talking tongue. 
  2. Even if you want to say something, make sure the other person has respect for your words and whether he wants your advice.  Ensure that the other person values your advice.  Example:  Krishna advices Arjuna only after Arjuna requires it, Krishna starts Bhagwat Gita only in second chapter.
  3. Don’t join any group and have only good word for everyone.  Everyone has good and bad parts, and I only talk about the good words for everyone, otherwise I observe silence.
  4. Some people may be good to you and another set of people may be cruel to you.  But don’t develop raga because they are nice to and don’t develop dwesha because they are not nice to you.  Don’t let their behavior generate raga or dwesha.  Let their behavior be forgotten right then there.  If they ill treat you, forgive them and forget.  If they praise you, thank them, thank the lord and forget.

Verse 5

In previous verses Shankaracharya give supportive sadhanas for nidhithyasanam.  The primary sadhana is dwelling up on teaching.  If we follow these supportive sadhanas, mind will remain tranquil and ready for primary sadhana.  Sit in a quiet place, fix your mind up on the supreme Brahman.  See that Brahman none other than poorna atma, the primary illuminator.