Acharya Tulsi - Fifty Years Of Selfless Dedication: Perception of the Body

Published: 27.09.2012

With his modern life-style an average educated person working almost entirely with his brain is scarcely aware of his own body. He is no doubt quite familiar with the stresses he is forced to undergo and the resulting fatigue as well as the mental tension. But his knowledge of its process is meagre. Even when one does experience tensions, he is unable to pinpoint exactly where the tension lies. Indeed, he has no inkling of the fact that his body possesses an innate protective mechanism which, when triggered, can counteract the effects of the 'over-stress'. If, therefore, one desires to improve his physical and mental health, he has to re-establish contact with his body.

It should also be remembered that the body is the abode of the soul. Our existence functions in duality. The subtle spiritual self-works within the gross physical body. It is the spiritual self which gives one a sense of wisdom and mastership. But it must have a physical body to function and perform in. Science also has now proved that life's processes lie almost wholly within man. Thus, the body alone can be the medium of exercising the power and authority of the consciousness to control and subdue one's primal drives, animal impulses and carnal desires. And subjugation of these urges will ultimately result in the eradication of contamination by karmic matter. The spiritual self will then achieve the state of pure uncontaminated consciousness.

The process of sarira preksha is centripetal, i.e. from outside to inside, thus reversing one's usual direction of the flow of consciousness which is from inside to outside. Commencing with the outermost layers of consciousness one has to penetrate more and more deeply. Thus the successive stages of sarira preksha will be the perception and awareness of

  1. the superficial sensation of the skin such as contact with cloth, warmth, perspiration, itching, etc.,
  2. the sensations produced by the muscular movements,
  3. the sensations produced by the functioning of the internal organs such as liver, heart etc., and finally,

(d) subtle vibrations produced by the electrical impulses travelling in the nervous system.
In the vast complex of our organism various complicated chemical, mechanical and electro-magnetic processes are constantly going on. Our sense organs and other sensory outposts send thousands of separate sensation-signals (coded messages) to the brain every moment. They have different degrees of intensity of pleasure, pain, etc.

The process of sarira preksha aims at the development of totally impartial perception of pleasure and pain. This is practical and achievable because there is a remarkable distinction between sensation and perception. While the sensation-signals are the unprocessed inputs of awareness, perception is the finished product, processed by the brain in the light of moods, expectations and many other variations In the case of pain, for example, the same sensation-signals (say, from a toothache) affect each person differently. His suffering is his perception and this varies immensely from person to person. Sarira preksha changes one's perception so that the sensation-signals of pain are experienced without suffering. It is the same with the signals of the sensation of pleasure.

As stated above, sarira preksha is a centripetal process. Now the extension of the psyche is on a par with that of the body and the spiritual self is on a par with the psyche. In other words, each and every one of the billions of cells which constitute the body is permeated by the spiritual self and that is why each cell is sensitive and capable of carrying out metabolic functions through bio-chemical and bio-electric actions. In short, a totally impartial perception of the mass of sensations within the body is a 'direct perception' of the psyche and the spiritual self.

It is obvious that sarira preksha is the only means of complete 'body-awareness', which, as explained above, is really self-awareness. On the physical level it helps each cell to revitalize itself. It helps digestion, improves the quality and circulation of blood and increases the efficiency of the nervous system and bio-electric activities. On the mental level it represents a methodology of training the mind to concentrate on the internal phenomena instead of wandering about externally. On the spiritual level impartial perception of the ever-changing biological functions of the body is a means of experiencing the substratum of consciousness through its modes and attributes.

Acharya Tulsi - Fifty Years Of Selfless Dedication
Jain Vishva Bharati Ladnun
Shrichand Bengani


R.P. Bhatnagar


● S.L. Gandhi
● Rajul Bhargava, Department of English, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur
● Ashok K. Jha, Department of English, LBS College, Jaipur

First Edition, 1985-2000

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Body
  2. Brain
  3. Consciousness
  4. Karmic matter
  5. Preksha
  6. Sarira
  7. Science
  8. Soul
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