Nirbhaya Nirgun Gun re Gaunga, Gaungaaa
Kamal Dridh Asana Bandhu ji, Ulti Pavan Chalaunga
[Fearlessly will I sing, the attributes of the attribute-less. Yes, I will sing
Holding the lotus at the root centre, I will alter the breath flow]. - Kabir
In the beginning, we had acknowledged that in order to have some control over our lives, we need to channel our mental energies, and, for that, we need to sit still and meditate every day.
Gradually, we are trying to understand what it takes to establish ourselves in equanimity. Lord Krishna suggests that the two attitudes that can help the practitioner to attain equanimity are: ‘Abhyasa’ - endeavour and ‘Vairagya’ or detachment.
Let us delve deeper into the concept of ‘Abhyasa’ or endeavour. Primarily, all endeavours originate from an earnest will to execute something and the will in turn arises from the knowledge or the recognition of the benefit we are going to receive by taking up the endeavour.
Here, we must pause and dwell a little over our state of mind, when we have the will or desire to take up an action. “Why do we wish to take up a new practice?”, “Do we really have faith in the practice?”. We must be fully convinced before we start something new. We should be certain that our endeavour falls in line with our evolution no matter what kind of evolution we are seeking- physical, material or spiritual. If we are not convinced or have no faith in the endeavour then it is better not to waste our energies in that direction.
In Sanskrit, faith is called “Sraddha”. “Sraddha” is an important concept which is often mistaken for ‘unreasonable, irrational belief’ or for superstition. However, it is not so. “Sraddha” is derived from the roots “Sat” and “Dha” which means ability ‘to hold the truth’. ‘Sraddha' is consistency in one’s belief and ability to hold onto one’s conviction no matter what obstacles arise to disturb that conviction.
So the first requirement for Abhyasa is “Sraddha”, the ability to hold onto our conviction that the practice that we have taken up is going to take us higher. Sage Patanjali gives a wonderful definition of Abayasa in Yoga Sutras. He says: “Sa tu Deerghakaala Nairantarya Satkaarsevito Dradhabhumih”[1:14]. Abhyasa becomes strong when it is taken up for a long time, regularly and with reverence. Three important clues that we may take from this sutra for our practice are: “Nairantarya”, without a break or regular; “Deerghakaala”, for a long time with patience and “Satkara”, with reverence or Sraddha. The practitioner has to take up the practice with an attitude of faith and should continue the practice for a long time without breaks.
Now, if by chance our conviction suffers and we are not able to carry on with ‘Abhyasa’, Lord Krishna kindly reveals another path. Through Arjuna, He tells us:
Abhyaase api asamartho asi mat-karma-paramo bhava
Mad-artham api karmani kurvan siddhim avapsyasi II ( Chapter 12, Verse 10)
[If you are not able to establish yourself in the ‘Abhyasa’ then become committed to perform your duties for my sake. Doing all actions with the attitude that you are doing them for me, you will attain ‘Siddhi’, perfection].
In other words, Krishna is asking us just to perform our required duty from our own station in life with an attitude of detachment. This could be easy for some and could be very difficult for others. So we may choose whatever appeals to us either regular, unending practice with faith or a constant sharp awareness that we must perform all of our actions in the right spirit.
In the Hindu Calendar, the third day of Shukla Paksha of ‘Baisakh” is called Akshya Tritiya . We have it on the 21st of this month. This is supposed to be a day when whatever we take up, say or perform, becomes,“Akshaya”-something that cannot be destroyed. For all of us who wish to venture into a new endeavour this may prove to be a good day to begin because the planetary energies support us on this day.
May we speak and listen to positive words and perform positive actions on the Akshya Tritiya!