The sadhana performed by an individual contributes to his/her spiritual progress only if it is relevant to the times. Hence, sadhana performed in each Yug (Era) is different. As per Hindu Dharma (Righteousness) there are four Yugs. The four Yugs are Satyayug, Tretayug, Dwaparyug and Kaliyug (Era of strife). Each Yug is subdivided into a cycle of four Yugs. The current Kaliyug is the fifth sub-Kaliyug of the main Kaliyug. Since the predominance of Raja-Tama components is at its peak in this Yug, it is very difficult to perform sadhana. However, since we are in a transition period, sadhana performed in this period is twenty times more beneficial than performed otherwise.
1. Sadhana as per varna (class) in Satyayug
In Satyayug, every individual used to constantly make efforts to maintain the Sattva component in himself as well as in the society. The tasks that every individual performs daily determine the predominance of Sattva, Raja and Tama components in him. If a Sattva-predominant individual remains in the company of a Raja-predominant individual continuously, then his Raja component increases. To prevent this and to preserve the Sattva component in the society, in the Satyayug, people of all the four varnas used to observe certain restrictions. They enhanced the Sattva component in themselves through sadhana.
2. Importance of Kaliyug in the context of sadhana
A. The opportunity for God-realisation is the highest in Kaliyug. However, in Kaliyug, since the environment is not conducive for sadhana, it is difficult for an average individual to even understand this.
B. The one who takes advantage of the present favourable period of Kaliyug will get liberated from this human body and will make rapid spiritual progress.
C. Though there is a doctrine that, ‘There are as many temperaments as there are people and corresponding number of paths of spiritual practice’, the importance of time states that ‘Gurukrupayoga’ is the only path that leads to swift spiritual progress :
- Holiness Dr Athavale’s (Sanatan’s source of inspiration) dream about the universe several years ago, which He placed before the people through various mediums, is now coming true. This will make all seekers realise the importance of ego removal. When an individual with low ego gets the spiritual experience of the expansiveness of the God Principle, with the Guru’s grace he will be able to merge with God. Seekers are unable to reduce their ego to zero with their own efforts. For this, only the Guru’s grace is necessary. Although ‘पिंडे पिंडे मतिर्भिन्ना ।’ (There are as many intellects as there are subtle-bodies) is a doctrine on the spiritual path, yet, according to the importance of time, for rapid spiritual progress of seekers Gurukrupayoga is the only proven spiritual path.
D. Establishing Dharma for the reinstatement of the Divine Kingdom is the greatest seva as per the times.
E. Speaking the truth in Kaliyug is a great sadhana by itself :
- According to Dnyanyoga (Path of Knowledge) : As per Adi Shankaracharya’s quote, ‘ब्रह्म सत्यं जगन् मिथ्या’ (Only Brahman is the Absolute Truth, everything else is an illusion). Yet, speaking the truth in Maya (The Great Illusion) is also a great sadhana in Kaliyug. While leading a life based on Maya in Kaliyug, people constantly make efforts to obtain happiness with the help of untruth. In such a situation, it requires great courage to express a true incident or a thought while facing opposition from the world. The one who does not hesitate to speak the truth in Maya later becomes eligible to propagate the Supreme Truth in Spirituality. This means that according to Dnyanyoga, speaking the truth in Kaliyug is also sadhana.
- According to Karmayoga (Path of action) : As per Karmayoga, merit is gained by speaking the truth, whereas sin is incurred by speaking lies. Sin gives rise to suffering and merit gives happiness. Speaking the truth is a straightforward and easy way for the individual to obtain more and more happiness. Speaking the truth erases the sins of the individual of the previous births, and his accumulated merit increases. Speaking the truth is the best karma performed by the tongue and the mind.
- According to Bhaktiyoga (Path of Devotion) : God is very pure and Holy. To become one with the pure and compassionate God, the devotee too has to become very pure and compassionate like Him. By speaking the truth, the impurity in the individual’s mind gets cleansed easily, and he starts becoming purer. Bhakti (Devotion) develops in such a pure heart, turning him into a devotee, and prepares him to receive the experience of the Supreme Truth. By speaking the truth, the mind of an individual gets sacrificed and his manodeha (The mental body) is purified within a short period.
F. Since the adverse times are more favourable, the present period is very conducive for performing sadhana for people residing in Nepal : Today, Nepal (Formerly recognised as a ‘Hindu Nation’) is known as a secular country. ‘Since adverse times are more conducive for performing sadhana than the favourable times, the present period is very conducive for performing sadhana for people residing in Nepal. Since the Divine Energy associated with Dharma is active in Nepal (even though minor disasters befall the country at the physical level), the extent of doubts about Spirituality and distress from negative energies is less; hence, people residing in Nepal certainly benefit more from this. After Nepal became a secular country, the activation of Shakti (Divine Energy) associated with Dharma ceased, and therefore, the present period is actually apatkal (Times of calamity) for people practising Spirituality there.
3. Benefits of sadhana performed during a lunar eclipse
Benefits of performing sadhana and spiritual remedies during eclipse are as follows :
A. When performing spiritual remedies [such as application of vibhuti (Holy ash), blowing vibhuti, lighting sattvik incense sticks, dipping the feet in salt water, performing pradakshina (Circumambulation) of the sattvik Idol of Shri Ganesh sculpted by Sanatan Sanstha to expel distressing energy from the body, 10% of God Principle is active.
B. Since at the time of an eclipse, the environment is Raja-Tama-predominant, other people become victims of desire; however, where seekers are present, the Sattva component in the environment gets attracted, and the seeker obtains higher benefit from this Sattva component. [Seekers benefit from the sandhikal (Transition period).]
C.The moon affects the functioning of the mind. Due to a lunar eclipse, a seeker gets more Divine thoughts and maximum amount of Chaitanya. (To benefit from the eclipse period, one must perform as much spiritual remedies as possible, chant etc.)
D. Sages perform sadhana during this period. Their sadhana spreads the Sattva component in the environment, from which the seeker benefits.
E. Planning of Deities : Since the predominance of Raja-Tama components on the earth increases, the likelihood of distress to people on the earth is more. To reduce the Raja-Tama components and to emit the Sattva component, under such conditions Deities descend to the earth. This depicts the virtues of kindness and compassion in all Deities.
4. The need to increase sadhana as per the kal
Presently, sadhana of seekers, that is, praying, chanting, expressing gratitude etc. is in the real sense taking place to the extent of only 15%. Only when it increases to 55%, seekers will be able to continue sadhana as per the kal in the coming years. In the times to come, the battle between Dharma and adharma (Unrighteousness) will increase tremendously. To become capable of performing sadhana at that time, it is essential to enhance sadhana now itself.
5. The sadhana of one who is performing it as
per the kal continues to take place in subsequent births too
If the sadhana of the individual has been taking place as per the kal, it will continue in subsequent births too; for example, if the sadhana of the individual born in the Tretayug is ‘Yadnyayaga’ (which was the sadhana of that Era), then in the Kaliyug, his sadhana will be ‘chanting’ today. The yearning for God-realisation in the individual when chanting will be the same as when performing a Yadnya. Both paths will lead the individual to God. In future too, the sadhana of the individual will continue as per the kal. This cycle will continue till the individual merges with God.
6. Benefits of sadhana performed during the
Pradoshkal, that is, during the samadhi state of Deity Shiva
When Deity Shiva is resting for some moments, during the period in between (of these 30 seconds), He is in deep sleep [Deep samadhi. This period is known as ‘Pradoshkal’. On the earth, this period lasts for one to one and half hours on an average. Abhishek is performed on Deity Shiva’s pindi till the pradoshkal is over. This Abhishek is known as ‘Mahabhishek’. Deity Shiva’s Name is chanted as much as possible during this time. That is why, the one performing Abhishek is protected from distress-causing energies. During the pradoshkal even if worship of Deity Shiva takes place unintentionally or if there are any flaws in it, the benefit obtained from it is 100%; such is the blessing of Deity Shiva ! The importance of this benefit will be understood from the example of a hunter cited in the second chapter of Shivalilamrut (Epic in Marathi written by Shridhar Swami) provided ahead briefly.
A very cruel (and sinner) hunter set out to hunt deer. On the way he came across a temple of Deity Shiva. Since this was the day of Mahashivaratri, he saw devotees performing puja (Ritualistic worship), singing bhajans (Devotional songs) and listening to kirtan (Devotional discourses). Ridiculing them that, ‘They are fools to think there is God in a stone and utter Shiva-Shiva and Har-Har’, he went into the jungle. He climbed a tree and waited for his prey. The tree he climbed was a bel (Aegle marmelos tree) tree. Due to its foliage, he could not see any prey; therefore, he started plucking and throwing away one leaf at a time amidst uttering of Shiva-Shiva. He was unaware that the leaves were falling on the Shivapindi below the tree. Thereafter, he saw a deer. He was about to shoot an arrow towards it when the deer pleaded with him to be spared and asked him ‘what happens when a sin is committed’, and went away. Till dawn many such deer came and went away after saying the same words to him. The hunter did not kill any deer. Thus, unknowingly the meritorious act of sparing the life of several deer was performed through him. Remaining awake on the night of Mahashivaratri, the bel leaves offered to Deity Shiva and chanting the Name of Deity Shiva destroyed the sins of the hunter and he obtained knowledge, after which messengers of Deity Shiva came and took him to Shivalok (Deity Shiva’s abode). This shows how Deity Shiva is pleased even when worshipped unintentionally.
Reference : Sanatan’s Holy text ‘Sadhana (Spiritual practice) (General information and importance)’