Thus Spoke Mahapragya - Vol.1: 13. Radiant Personality: Steps for a Sadhu

Published: 06.04.2011

Radiant Personality: Steps for a Sadhu

Deep within the word “Sadhu” lies the meaning of the words sadhana (meditation) and aradhana (deep adoration for learning). There are five different forms of knowledge:

  • Gyanaradhana (Adoration for Knowledge)
  • Darshanaradhana (Adoration for right perception)
  • Charitraaradhana (Adoration for Character)
  • Taparadhana (Adoration for Penance)
  • Veeryaaradhana (Adoration for strength to exert in the right direction)

A sadhu must have a passion for these five different knowledge. It is the willful acceptance of the above five learning's in an ascetic life that one becomes a sadhu. Today the robe of a sadhu also carries lot of weight. When one sees such a robe his head immediately bows down as a mark of respect and devotion. One who wears this robe and doesn't practice the meditation or has adoration for the knowledge, then this only would deceive people.

Shraddha (devotion) can be both poisonous and even life savior. When the person offers devotion and he is able to receive something beneficial then that devotion takes the form of a life savior. If for some reasons the opposite is happening then it can also take the form of a poison. The robe of a Muni (ascetic) and the devotion of a devotee - for both of them to be pure, the passion for knowledge should be there. Else a muni would only limit himself to one who only gives lectures but doesn't practice it in his life.

For knowledge, swadhyaya (study which aims towards development of spiritual knowledge) is very important. Reading of newspapers cannot be termed swadhyaya. Swadhyaya is one which helps a person to develop the spiritual knowledge and which enables him to move in the direction of purification of his soul. Adhyayan (general reading) and swadhyaya are two different things and their intentions are also different. The former is more which enables a person to develop knowledge which can help to earn a livelihood and the latter enables a person to develop the knowledge which will help him to purify his soul.

Balance of Life

“Life should be a balance of both work and soul”.

“One must dedicate at least one hour of his time for development of spiritual knowledge.”

In the area of meditation there are twelve different forms of penance described and each of them refer to this swadhyaya. Should swadhyaya be mandatory? This question needs to be pondered upon more by sadhus and sadhvis. The life styles and the daily activities of a sadhu should be pre-determined and fixed. A question arises on a sadhu who doesn't devote even one hour of his time for meditation. Do we really call him a sadhu? This remains a question. As per the Hindu calendar and time, the twenty-four hour consists of sixty ghadi (units). Each ghadi (unit) equals twenty-four minutes. Even for a common man, it is said that he should devote two ghadi (unit), which is forty-eight minutes towards Lord Rama (his soul). The rest of the fifty-eight ghadi (unit) should be spent one's daily routine. If this message is for a common man, then for a sadhu or a sadhvi it becomes more important and it should be made mandatory. One should not only look at the work aspect of the life alone. Life should be a balance of both work and soul. Whenever anybody paid tribute to Muni Kevalchandji he always used to reply “Keval Ram” (Only Ram).

Swadhyaya is very important. One must dedicate a fixed time to it. This is the era of management. There is management in every field. When we conduct classes on Preksha Dhyana, we talk about Self Management and Time Management.  One must dedicate at least one hour of his time towards swadhyaya (study which aims towards development of spiritual knowledge). A formal education is a must for one to earn his livelihood, so is swadhyaya a must to know one self, one's soul. Without this one cannot seek the knowledge of charitra gyan (knowledge of character) and sadachar gyan (knowledge of right conduct).

“One must adopt a life-style which develops knowledge, right perception and helps in character building”.

There are two aspects of the character: Gyanaradhana (Adoration for Knowledge)and Darshanaradhana (Adoration for right perception). One must yearn for knowledge first, followed by right perception. Knowledge should be followed by right conduct. Even as per Uttaradhyayan, one who does not have the right perception cannot seek knowledge. Without knowledge one cannot have a good character. Both knowledge and character are required. One must adopt a life style, which develops knowledge, right perception and character building. One must learn to do things in a prescribed manner. One should not work in haste.

A young man went to a tailor and scolded him “How many days are up and you could not even stitch one shirt. Are you a man? Look at God. He has created this entire universe in no time. You could not even stitch this two meters of cloth for me.” The tailor replied “God has made this entire universe in haste and the results are in front of you”.

Work done slowly and steadily is a good work. A work, which is done in haste, is never a good work. One must progress slowly and steadily. Remember, haste is a waste. More the urgency more is the stress. Stress kills your creative energy. One must adopt a life-style where there is no impatience or haste. One must do his work peacefully. In the ancient times, the life style of a sadhu consisted of a very few pravritti (tasks, chores). In the first quarter of the day, one was expected to do swadhyaya, the second quarter for meditation; the third quarter for one's daily activities and the fourth quarter was once again for swadhyaya. Today, things have changed. There are many tasks or chores, which one has to do and there is lot of hardship involved. However one must still think over what is required and what should take the priority. One must develop a list of what is required and what is optional. Once this list is ready he should further prioritize these two lists. At times things, which are optional also, needs to be done. Time Management will help one to organize his life better and devote time for the right things. Swadhyaya and dhyana (meditation) are mandatory and required in one's life. One must dedicate some part of his time daily towards it.

Life brings lot of things in front of us. One is shreya (auspicious / good) and the other is preya (inauspicious). Upanishad describes the two terms very beautifully. In the Dashavakalik sutra it is said. Follow shreya and be conscious towards preya. Rising above the desirable attachment is shreya. The code of conduct for regulating society is called Loukika Dharma. Preya is related to the society. A person who desires for peace, would follow shreya. What if he lacks the knowledge of shreya? First, one should have the knowledge and the right perception. If one doesn't have the right perception towards the truth then it would lead to criticism.

A traveler went to a hotel and ordered some food. As he began eating the food, he felt something wrong. He called the waiter and insisted that the owner of the hotel be called. He wanted to talk to the owner himself. The waiter said that the owner had gone to the neighboring hotel for his lunch. It is wrong to preach something and do something. To develop the right conduct there are two conditions: samyakgyan (right knowledge) and samyakdarshan (right perception) to be adhered to. One must study something everyday. One can read the newspaper and along with it he should also do swadhyaya. Even a sadhu reads newspaper. They are not secluded from this society entirely. It is also necessary to keep abreast of what is happening around you, your society, your country and the world around. Knowing and keeping abreast is not sufficient. If one spends half an hour reading newspaper then he should spend at least couple of hours on swadhyaya.  If one doesn't like reading the newspaper then he can spend at least an hour on swadhyaya. Today, the newspapers are full of gossips and violence. They are full of obscene photographs too. Sometime back, we had restricted certain newspapers as they contained such obscene and objectionable material. Today all the newspaper carry such obscene photographs and materials. How does one prohibit himself from reading all these? The newspapers also agree that if they do not carry such materials, their circulation would be go down. One can read newspaper but then they should also make it a point to do swadhyaya. This would calm their mind.

One must also become disciplined and punctual. Out of twenty-four hours, seven to eight hours are spent in sleeping. This still leaves behind sixteen hours. Out of these sixteen hours two to four hours are spent in eating food, exercise, taking rest etc. Still one is left with twelve hours. Even if one takes out nine hours for his work it still leaves us with three hours for dhyan and swadhyaya. If one spends these three hours for self-introspection, Atma chintan and swadhyaya one can easily wash away the dirt that he has accumulated. In big cities the pollution is more and, hence the dirt accumulates very fast on clothes when compared to small towns or villages. However, the dirt accumulates irrespective of the cities. If this external dirt accumulates, one can imagine the internal dirt accumulating in the form of raag-dwesha. This internal dirt has polluted our mind. One must clean them too. One must clean them daily and if they start accumulating the dirt, it would become very difficult to scrub it later.

When the clothes are dirty, people say that they need to wash them. I have never heard people saying anything when the mind becomes dirty. How I wish, the people also would say that they need to cleanse their soul like how they wash their clothes. In the olden days the disciple used to approach the guru and say “Oh Revere! Please help me to organize myself. If you wish, you could engage me in your service or engage me in swadhyaya.” The guru would then command him to either serve him or do swadhyaya.

We must think from all the angles, how a sadhu can become a radiant personality. Swadhyaya and dhyan makes a sadhu a radiant personality. There is a very good proverb in Marwari, which means, “We have the vessel, the vessel is full and we have the blessings of our guru. We go, empty-handed and return with alms in both the hands. Gurudev! Why should we do swadhyaya then?”

One must think deeply over this and should utilize his time such that swadhyaya and dhyan are brought into the list of priority items and they should be mandatory in one’s life. Eating food is not mandatory. There are many sadhu and sadhvi who are not much interested in eating food as they are interested in swadhyaya. Some of them don't eat anything for days, weeks and months. There are some who even don't drink water for many days. You will find such people even among the householders. One must develop a passion and interest such that swadhyaya becomes the priority over food. One must take an oath to devote at least one hour for swadhyaya. This oath should come from within, from one’s soul and then this dedication of one hour of swadhyaya can bring tremendous changes in our lives.

One can even do japa (chanting mantras / shlokas) as part of swadhyaya. Many sadhu and sadhvi do this chanting of mantras or verses for hours together. It can bring about changes in oneself.  One can establish connection with their deities too, if it is done in the right way. Along with this one must also acquire the worldly knowledge. One must be aware and abreast with what is happening around them. One can ask why so much of knowledge is required? Why should a patient know so much about the disease when the doctor or a surgeon can explain him? Similarly, why should a disciple study so much when the guru is there and he can answer all his queries? The reasoning seems to be logical. The disciple could always follow the guru.

The guru who was listening to this argument replied “Our knowledge will certainly help you. However it will not help you completely. One has to learn to see through his own eyes. He cannot depend on others to see the world. How long can one be dependent on the other? One must open his eyes. He must become capable and learn to be on his own”. In the initial period, the guru and the parents hold your finger and guide you. How long can they do this? It would look weird if a man who is fifty years old, holds his mother's finger and goes around. One must become independent and capable.

There is a beautiful anecdote. In Ujjain, there was a man who had four sons and they were all married. With time he was was getting old. He became weak and slowly started to depend on others for his daily needs. His sons persuaded him to go for treatment. Even his wife advised him to go for some checkup and take up some treatment. He said, “Why do I need treatment. I have four sons who have eight eyes. Four daughter-in-laws who have eight eyes and my wife with two eyes which equals to eighteen eyes. Thus I have eighteen eyes through which I can see”. It was a sheer co-incidence that after a few days fire broke out in his house. All the people ran out of the house to save their own lives. The man who was depending on others was left inside the house and as a result became the victim of this fire and died. Eighteen eyes and eighteen legs could not save him. His two eyes and two legs probably could have been sufficient to save him if he had depended on himself.

One must trust and believe others, but should not be totally dependent on them. Trust others, but do not lose the trust on yourself. Through swadhyaya one can develop the self-confidence, humility and one's knowledge also increases. One develops the knowledge of what is good and what is bad for him. What food is good and what food is bad. To create this awareness swadhyaya is very important. Newspapers also carry lot of useful and good information. They carry articles on why diseases occur, what food is good for health. With this increase in awareness one's humility, modesty and politeness also increases, thus paving the way for the right conduct.

Gyanaradhana (Adoration for Knowledge), Darshanaradhana (Adoration for right perception), Charitraaradhana (Adoration for Character), Taparadhana (Adoration for Penance) and Veeryaaradhana (Adoration for strength to exert in the right direction) are the important characteristics for a sadhu. One must work hard; one must exert himself to do work rather than sitting idle. One must not only use his body for work, but also use his mind. It is a belief that the people who are sixty years old go berserk. Today the scientists have proved that intelligence also develops beyond sixty years. The more a person uses his brain, the more his neuron connections would increase. More the neuron connections increases, so would his intelligence also increase.

Our sadhu and sadhvi who are above sixty and seventy years should start studying in universities. They should start preparing for their B.A and M.A exams. One should totally change this belief that the brain deteriorates with age. Not only the young sadhu and sadhvi but also the old sadhu and sadhvi should make up their mind to study B.A, M.A and even doctorate in Jainology. This would ensure that the brain is healthy.  If one doesn't engage his brain, it would turn useless.

“Hard work is the key to success in any field”.

There is a very interesting anecdote. There were two fools sleeping and there was another lazy person sleeping with them. A thief came and took away the blanket. The first person said “The thief is taking away my blanket. Why don't you catch him”? The second person replied, “Don't worry. I have the pillow beneath my head. When he comes to take it, I will catch him.” Thus a lazy person can render one a totally useless person. For the success in life, the first key is the hard work and the means to achieve the successes are the various knowledge: Gyanaradhana, Darshanaradhana, Charitraaradhana and Taparadhana. Hard work is the key to success in any field.

How much hard work a person of fifty years age does? A person of sixty years must add another ten percent more and do the work. Similarly, a person of seventy years must add another ten percent more. One must work cent percent even at the age of hundred years. Today the situation is totally reversed. A person, who is fifty years old, starts thinking of retiring. His worry is that, age is increasing and how will he cope up with so much of work? This thought, makes even a young man old and could bring life to a stand still.

The five different forms of aradhana are very important in one's life. Along with dhyana, one must make them also mandatory and prioritize them in their lives and thus develop a radiant personality.

On a 18th January


Mahapragya ne Kaha - Vol.1 Translated by:
Rakesh Kumar Jain Online Edition: 2011

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aradhana
  2. Atma
  3. Body
  4. Brain
  5. Charitra
  6. Dharma
  7. Dhyan
  8. Dhyana
  9. Guru
  10. Gurudev
  11. Gyan
  12. Japa
  13. Meditation
  14. Muni
  15. Preksha
  16. Preksha Dhyana
  17. Ram
  18. Rama
  19. Sadhana
  20. Sadhu
  21. Sadhus
  22. Sadhvi
  23. Sadhvis
  24. Shlokas
  25. Shraddha
  26. Soul
  27. Sutra
  28. Swadhyaya
  29. Ujjain
  30. Uttaradhyayan
  31. Violence
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