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perfection

Grow your senses in perfection

Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani said to us: “The first step on the path is awakening. The second is that of sadhana or self-discipline.” When the awakening has come, the seeker desires to discipline himself. And let us not forget, discipline is required both on the mental and physical plane. What is physical discipline for the aspirant who takes to sadhana? Let me dwell a little on this aspect.

The peace chant in the Upanishads begins with the words: May my senses grow in perfection. Do you find it strange that the rishi asks for his senses to ‘grow’? Strange indeed, but true. For asceticism is not always true mysticism.

Lacerations of the body, my master taught us, will not lead us Godward: for the body, too, is an element in self-realisation. The natural is not cut off from the spiritual. Even Gautama Buddha learnt this valuable lesson before he finally attained Buddhahood or Enlightenment. The song of the maiden, “Tune the Sitar neither low nor high,” made him realise that excessive austerity and penance would lead to emaciation and exhaustion, but not necessarily the Enlightenment he sought!

We all know the story: he accepted the maiden’s offering of sweetened milk, breaking his long fast of several days. Refreshed and rejuvenated with a new determination, he went back to his meditation; and the rest, as we say, is history!

Sadhana is disciplining of the senses; sadhana is also conquest over the senses, but it is not the denial of the senses! The senses are gates of knowledge: and the rishi who prayed that his senses may grow in perfection was right. For seekers after higher life had to train their senses: how otherwise would they respond to higher vibrations?

Let me share with you a beautiful verse from the Mukunda Mala of Sri Kulasekara Alwar: That head is the loftiest which is white with dust from bowing down to Lord Krishna. Those eyes are the most beautiful which have abandoned darkness after they have seen Lord Hari. That intelligence is spotless, like the white glow of the moon, which concentrates on Lord Madhava. And that tongue rains down nectar which constantly glorifies Lord Narayana. O tongue, praise the glories of Lord Kesava. O mind, worship the glorious Murari. O hands, serve the Lord Beloved of Lakshmi. O ears, hear the stories of Lord Achyuta. O eyes, gaze upon Sri Krishna. O feet, go to the temple of Lord Hari. O nose, smell the tulsi leaves on Lord Mukunda’s feet. O head, bow down to Lord Narayana.

What is required is the purification of the senses, the disciplining of the senses and the dedication of the senses to the pursuit of the goal of existence. There can be no growth in perfection without purity. The senses must be pure: whether they are overfed or starved, the result is weakness. Maharishi Patanjali, too, asserts that yoga is not to be taught to those whose bodies are unsound. Therefore, the prayer: “May my senses grow in perfection!”

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