Invitation To Health: 43 ►Mental Health And Withdrawal Of Senses (Pratyāhāra)

Published: 10.05.2017

Mental Health And Withdrawal Of Senses (Pratyāhāra)

Everyone wants mental health. If appropriate means are not available, then this wish is not realized. We must know the means also. It’s important means is withdrawal of senses or disengagement (pratisamlinata). The more is the association of senses with objects the more will diseases increase, fickleness increase, and therefore up to a limit it is necessary to disengage the senses. The objects may remain separated and senses may not be associated with them. If senses are continuously associated with the objects, then attachment will be so much intense and stupor will be so much deep that mind will be terribly irritated. If mind is to be kept healthy then the best means is to keep the objects aloof, senses aloof and mind aloof. If continuously filth and dirt are coming in, then how can mind be healthy and clean? A method was discovered for keeping senses, objects and mind separate and that method was named as pratyāhāra.

Unmindful-ness: pratyāhāra

Keep senses away from the objects, do not associate them. Otherwise also human being many a times keeps senses away from the objects. Whenever he is in a vacant or pensive mood and if someone passes by he does not notice. In such a situation if it is asked to him whether someone has gone this way, his reply would be," I do not know." Is he telling a lie? No. He was in a vacant mood and that is why he did not notice. It is true that if someone is in a vacant mood then even if someone passes by he cannot know it. It also happens that two people are talking. Third person is deeply engaged in thinking. If the third person is asked as to what the other two were talking, his reply would be, I do no

t know. I have not heard anything.' People may not believe in the truth of his averment but this is true. This is a case of pratyāhāra that eyes-ears are open, people are talking but that individual is hearing nothing. When the auditory sense is not connected with sound it is pratyāhāra. Like this there is pratyāhāra of all senses. This is the case with all the senses. When a person is absent-minded, or his mind is associated with some other event then whatever be the number of objects appearing before him his senses will not apprehend them. In the state of absent-mindedness or vacant mind pratyāhāra is easy.

Mesmerizing pratyāhāra

The other type of incident of pratyāhāra is hypnotism. A hypnotizer mesmerizes some subject. In that state of mesmerism pratyāhāra occurs and the relation between sense and object becomes altogether different. One who is hypnotized in the hand of that person salt is kept and a suggestion is given to him that, 'look in your hand there is sugar. Its taste is very sweet and you are eating it/ He will eat salt but to him the taste of salt will also be sweet. This is also a pratyāhāra but it is not useful. In the sphere of sādhanā only that pratyāhāra or disengagement {pratisamlinata) is useful in which it is done voluntarily or through discrimination (viveka). By such pratyāhāra alone mental energy is increased.

Pratyāhāra should be with determination

For awakening the power of determination, for increasing the mental energy, pratyāhāra is a powerful means. A spiritual practitioner should win over the senses. A person may think, Today I shall not see for one hour any passing by object with attachment.' This is a type of pratyāhāra. A determination was made that, Tor one hour I shall sit closing the eyes and I shall not see anything.' This is self-willed pratyāhāra. 'Ishall not establish relation of eyes with the object.' This is visual pratyāhāra. 'Today I shall remain in seclusion for one hour and shall not hear the talk of others, shall not attend to it.' This is self-willed audio pratyāhāra. 'Today I shall not eat sweet.' This is gustatory pratyāhāra. Fasting is a pratyāhāra, a disengagement, and therefore it becomes a means for sense-control. By resolve we separate sense and object, dissociate the two. By this on the one hand our power of determination increases, on the other hand senses do not get nourishment. There is automatic separation between senses and objects. A person uses power spectacles, but he has forgotten it somewhere or it is broken, in this situation even though he has newspaper before him and he wants to read, he cannot do so. This is pratyāhāra out of helplessness. Real pratyāhāra is that in which an individual willingly puts himself aside from the obtained object. Eatables are in front and a person determines that he will not eat. This is self-willed pratyāhāra. Pratyāhāra done under compulsion may sometimes become an object of joke and laughter.

Pratyāhāra due to helplessness

A person went to hotel for food. The waiter of the hotel placed the list of menu before him. He saw the list, started locating looking glasses but could not find them. He forgot the spectacles at home. So how will he read that list? He asked the waiter to read it. The waiter said, 'Sir! I also cannot read it as I am illiterate.' Since he had no spectacles therefore he had to be illiterate. The waiter also thought that like him that person was also illiterate.

Pratyāhāra done under helplessness becomes an object of ridicule. It does not have much value. Value pertains to that pratyāhāra which emanates from our determination. When there is pratyāhāra of the five senses that I shall not eat, shall not speak, shall not hear, shall not see, shall not touch, and shall not smell,' then mental energy increases automatically, power of determination increases automatically. One who has weak power of disengagement, one who is continuously associated with object, let alone mental health he cannot even maintain physical health.

Why advertisement is continuing?

The tendency of allurement, attraction and greed gives rise to many difficulties. If a person goes to market and has money with him then it becomes very difficult to control desires. For ladies, it is much more difficult. Perhaps it is less possible for them to come empty handed passing in front of a shop of sari dress and ornaments.

Today why so much of advertisement is going on? The manufacturers know the weakness of human being. Had there been no such weakness then on advertisement millions of rupees would not have been wasted indiscriminately. The article is bad or harmful, advertisement so much influences the mind and brain of the person that he would overlook all its bad qualities and cannot avert the allurement of its use. This is only the weakness of human being. This weakness is there because he has not done the sādhanā of pratyāhāra. Without doing sādhanā weakness cannot be removed. Sometimes a person does not know how to do sadhana and therefore it happens, but sometimes he knows how to do sādhanā but he does not know how to do pratyāhāra and therefore it happens.

Pratyāhāra is power to control

A person who wants to keep his mind healthy he has to practice pratyāhāra or disengagement. If we continue to have constant contact of the sense with object, then we shall have to give up the thought of mental health. Mind will slowly become sick. Pratyāhāra is the controlling power. The name for this controlling power is ātmānuśāsana (self-discipline) or ātmaniyamana (self-control). This is one power only which functions in various ways. Let us understand only one meaning of this power and that meaning is that we may develop mental power so much that we can cheek ourselves at least when the object is before us. This power of restraint can come from meditation. Dhāraā, dhyāna and Samādhi are the means by which this power increases. If there is some festival in home, all types of delicious dishes are prepared but if that day is teras (thirteenth day) and if the host has the resolve of fasting then he will adhere to his resolve of fasting and keep himself away from delicious and attractive eatables prepared for the festival. This is the development of the mental powder, in spite of everything being present before there is resolve not to eat them.

Mental health and pratyāhāra

Let us keep both the aspects in front, both mental weakness and mental strength. Mental strength can increase only by practice. Mental strength will not increase in one go, it will increase slowly and gradually. As and when the capacity will increase to dis join and separate the senses and the objects which can be associated with them, mental strength will also increase.

Let us know the relation between mental health and pratyāhāra and gradually increase its sādhanā. A point will come and in us that much of capacity will be developed that even if objects of all the senses are present before us, but it would be the same whether they are present or not present. This condition cannot be created without sādhanā. The aim of Prekṣādhyāna is gradual increase of this power. A person who attains this power to him no object entering the mind can compel. Howsoever attractive thing may come in front if he wants he will eat and if he does not want he will not eat, if he wants to see he will see and if he does not want to see he will not see. No allurement will make him fall and there will be full control on mind. I have seen that the great Acharya (Tulsi) when he would finish his food and wash his hands that would mean that he would resolve not to eat any more. Thereafter any saint may come, may bring any delicious or nourishing things, and may pray him to eat that thing, the great teacher would not take it. This is like an exception. Really this is a resolve, a pratyāhāra. One day this practice may take mental power to that point from where human being can take biggest decision and resolves.

End of Book

Title: Invitation To Health
Author: Acharya Mahaprajna
Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 2013
HN4U Digital Edition: Ratna & Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Brain
  3. Dhyāna
  4. Dhāraṇā
  5. Fasting
  6. Greed
  7. Meditation
  8. Sadhana
  9. Sādhanā
  10. Tulsi
  11. Viveka
  12. samādhi
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