A Sadhaka and their Teacher

The Siva Samhita divides sadhakas (pupils or aspirants) into four classes.

  1. mrdu (feeble)
  2. madhyama (average)
  3. adhimatra (superior)
  4. adhimatratama (the supreme one)

The last, the highest, is alone able to cross beyond the ocean of the manifest world.

The Mrdu Pupil

The feeble seekers are those who lack enthusiasm, criticize their teachers, are rapacious, inclined to bad action, eat too much, are unstable, cowardly, ill, dependent, speak harshly, have weak characters and lack virility. The Yoga Guru (Teacher or Master) guides such seekers in the path of Mantra Yoga only. With much effort, the sadhaka can reach enlightenment in twelve years. The word mantra is derived from the root ‘man’ meaning ‘to think.’ Mantra, therefore, means a sacred thought or prayer to be repeated with full understanding of its meaning. It takes a long time, perhaps years, for a mantra to take firm root in the mind of a feeble sadhaka and still longer for it to bear fruit.

The Madhyama Pupil

Of even mind, capable of bearing hardship, wishing to perfect the work, speaking gently, moderate in all circumstances, such is the average seeker. Recognizing these qualities, the Guru teaches them Laya Yoga, which gives liberation. Laya means devotion, absorption or dissolution.

The Adhimatra Pupil

Of stable mind, capable of Laya Yoga, virile, independent, noble, merciful, forgiving, truthful, brave, young, respectful, worshipping their teacher, intent on the practice of Yoga, such is a superior seeker. They can reach enlightenment after six years of practice. The Guru instructs this forceful aspirant in Hatha Yoga.

The Adhimatratama Pupil

Of great virility and enthusiasm, courageous, learned in scriptures, studious, sane of mind, not melancholy, keeping young, good eating habits, with their senses under control, free from fear, clean, skillful, generous, helpful to all, firm, intelligent, independent, forgiving, of good character, of gentle speech and honoring their Yoga Guru, such is a supreme seeker, fit for all forms of Yoga. They can reach enlightenment in three years.

Although the Siva Samhita and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika mention the period of time within which success might be achieved, Patanjali nowhere lays down the time required to unite the individual soul with the Divine Universal Soul. According to him, abhyasa (constant and determined practice) and vairagya (freedom from desires) make the mind calm and tranquil. He defines abhyasa as effort of long duration, without interruption, performed with devotion, which creates a firm foundation.

The study of Yoga is not like work for a diploma or a university degree by someone desiring favorable results in a stipulated time. The obstacles, trials and tribulations in the path of Yoga can be removed to a large extent with the help of a Guru. The syllable ‘gu’ means darkness and ‘ru’ means light. An authentic Guru is someone who removes darkness and brings enlightenment. The conception of a Guru is deep and significant. They are not an ordinary guide. They are a spiritual teacher who teaches a way of life, and not merely how to earn a livelihood. They transmit knowledge of the Spirit and one who receives such knowledge is a Sisya (disciple).

The relationship between a Yoga Guru and a Sisya is a very special one, transcending that between parent and child, husband and wife or friends. A Yoga Guru is free from egotism. They devotedly lead their Sisya towards the ultimate goal without any attraction for fame or gain. They show the path of God and watch the progress of their disciple, guiding them along that path. They inspire confidence, devotion, discipline, deep understanding and illumination through love. With faith in their pupil, the Guru strains hard to see that they absorb the teaching. They encourage the Sisya to ask questions and to know the truth by question and analysis.

A Sisya should possess the necessary qualifications of higher realization and development. They must have confidence, devotion and love for their Guru. The Sisya should hunger for knowledge and have the spirit of humility, perseverance and tenacity of purpose. They should not go to the Yoga Guru merely out of curiosity. Instead, they should possess sraddha (dynamic faith) and should not be discouraged if they cannot reach the goal in the time they had expected. It requires tremendous patience to calm the restless mind which is colored by innumerable past experiences and samskara (the accumulated residue of past thoughts and actions).

Merely listening to the words of the Yoga Guru does not enable the Sisya to absorb the teaching. This is borne out by the story of lndra and Virochana. Indra (the king of Gods) and Virochana (a demon prince), went together to their spiritual teacher Brahma to obtain knowledge of the Supreme Self. Both stayed and listened to the same words of their Guru. Indra obtained enlightenment, whereas Virochana did not. Indra’s memory was developed by his devotion to the subject taught and by the love and faith which he had for his teacher. He had a feeling of oneness with his Guru. These were the reasons for his success. Virochana’s memory was developed only through his intellect. He had no devotion either for the subject taught or for his teacher. He remained what he originally was, an intellectual giant. He returned a doubter. Indra had intellectual humility, while Virochana had intellectual pride and imagined that it was condescending on his part to go to Brahma. The approach of lndra was devotional while that of Virochana was practical. Virochana was motivated by curiosity and wanted the practical knowledge which he believed would be useful to him later to win power.

The Sisya should above all treasure love, moderation and humility. Love begets courage, moderation creates abundance and humility generates power. Courage without love is brutish. Abundance without moderation leads to over-indulgence and decay. Power without humility breeds arrogance and tyranny. The true Sisya learns from his Guru about a power which will never leave him as he returns to the Primeval One, the Source of His Being.

Sadhana (A Key to Freedom)

All the important texts on Yoga place great emphasis on sadhana or abhyasa (constant practice). Sadhana is not just a theoretical study of Yoga texts. It is a spiritual endeavour. Oil seeds must be pressed to yield oil. Wood must be heated to ignite it and bring out the hidden fire within. In the same way, the sadhaka must by constant practice light the divine flame within themself.

‘The young, the old, the extremely aged, even the sick and the infirm obtain perfection in Yoga by constant practice. Success will follow him who practices, not him who practices not. Success in Yoga is not obtained by the mere theoretical reading of sacred texts. Success is not obtained by wearing the dress of a yogi or a sanyasi (a recluse), nor by talking about it. Constant practice alone is the secret of success. Verily, there is no doubt of this.’

Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Chapter I, verses 64 -6)

It is by the co-ordinated and concentrated efforts of their body, senses, mind, reason and Self that a person obtains the prize of inner peace and fulfils the quest of their soul to meet their Maker. The supreme adventure in a person’s life is their journey back to their Creator. To reach the goal they need well developed and coordinated functioning of their body, senses, mind, reason and Self. If the effort is not coordinated, they fail in their adventure. In the third chapter the first part of the Kathopanishad, Yama (the God of Death) explains this Yoga to the seeker Nachiketa (pupil) by way of the parable of the individual in a chariot.

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‘Know the Atman (Self) as the Lord in a chariot, reason as the charioteer and mind as the reins. The senses, they say, are the horses, and their objects of desire are the pastures. The Self, when united with the senses and the mind, the wise call the Enjoyer (Bhoktr). The undiscriminating can never rein in his mind; his senses are like the vicious horses of a charioteer. The discriminating ever controls his mind; his senses are like disciplined horses. The undiscriminating becomes unmindful, ever impure; he does not reach the goal, wandering from one body to another. The discriminating becomes mindful, forever pure; he reaches the goal and is never reborn. The man who has a discriminating charioteer to rein in his mind reaches the end of the journey – the Supreme Abode of the everlasting Spirit.’

To realize this, not only constant practice is demanded but also renunciation. In regard to renunciation, the question arises as to what one should renounce. The yogi does not renounce the world, for that would mean renouncing the Creator. The yogi renounces all that takes them away from the Lord. They renounces their own desires, knowing that all inspiration and right action come from the Lord. They renounces those who oppose the work of the Lord, those who spread demonic ideas and who merely talk of moral values but do not practice them.

The yogi does not renounce action. They cut the bonds that tie themselves to their actions by dedicating their fruits either to the Lord or to humanity. They believe that it is their privilege to do this duty and that they have no rights to the fruits of their actions.

While others are asleep when duty calls and wake up only to claim their rights, the yogi is fully awake to their duty, but asleep over their rights. Hence it is said that in the night of all beings the disciplined and tranquil person wakes to the light.

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Micah Lyn is a Holistic Healthcare Practitioner HHP, Intuitive Healer and E-RYT 500 Certified Yoga Teacher registered with Yoga Alliance and KRI. She offers a variety of private yoga classes in Sedona AZ, yoga therapy and intuitive healing services at Pachamama Yoga ✨ Sedona Healing Center. Visit the YTT Programs & Workshops page to see upcoming Online & Hands-on Intensive Yoga Teacher Training, Virtual Online Yoga Workshops & Transformational Yoga Retreats featured worldwide.


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