Commandment 1 - Dr K C Varadachari Commentary
Rise before dawn. Offer your prayer and puja at a fixed hour preferably before sunrise, sitting in one and the same pose. Have a separate place and seat for worship. Purity of mind and body should be specially adhered to.
The importance of getting up at the time before sunrise for our daily duties has been long recognized. Indeed the last two hours of the night preceding the day-break or sunrise has been called Brahmi - Muhurta. It is literally the hour of Brahma, the creator of the universe. It is well known that all creative work starts with the dawn. Vedadhyayana, music and other learning of fundamental sciences are counselled about this hour. The day for the Pancaratra agama begins with the hour of abhigamana or moving about.
The first commandment accordingly states that one should rise before dawn or sunrise. Master Ram Chandraji Maharaj gives another reason. This is to reveal the correspondence between the creative period of the entire universe and our own times as calculated from the movement of the earth round the sun or diurnal rotation of the earth or the monthly movement of the moon round the earth.
At the beginning it must be presumed that only the transcendent beyond all thought existed. Obviously such an existence is completely different from what we call existence because all this arises from that through the act of original thought. This thought also must be considered to be different from all our thought but that it is the power of manifestation or energy of projection or manifestation. This is the most powerful force or energy from which all creative processes proceed. This thought, having arisen, comes into contact with energy particles which are of the subtlest nature in the beginning. This thought itself proceeds from the divine fire or will which is eternal, from which all things or thoughts arise and to which all return.
The energy particles coming into contact with thought get heated up and move out; and in this moving out they irradiate the entire universe, forming rings and rings and individuating themselves.
If we can conceive of each particle of energy as a soul or ego coming into contact with the original thought arising from the eternally existing divine will it will be seen that each of these has produced for itself a series of rings which as they become distant from the centre, become grosser and grosser. Further they get caught up in these rings which are indeed their cocoons so to speak.
It must be seen that the process of creation or daytime starts with this push towards grosser and grosser existence, as the divine heat becomes operative in converting subtle energy into gross particles. Thus the necessity to see that this precise time of our grossening must be taken advantage of for realising subtility becomes clear. We have to reverse this process by the practice of connection or maintaining through the divine thought with the centre or central thought or condition which is Tam* or that (accusative singular of Sah). This condition may be said to be the ultimate state or God. It is absolute peace or Santi, beyond that nothing is.
Man strives for this Santhi, or peace within. There is resemblance with this santhi at the time of creation or rather dissolution. The times of conjunction (Sandhi) between creation and dissolution are both early morning before sunrise, and sunset in the evening and this Santhi deepens as the night advances and reaches the maximum about midnight. Great union which is protective of peace is thus had in the night or Laya periods. It is the time of absorption in the peace. The diurnal peace is taken advantage of even as the Chandogya upanishad states that one verily indeed goes to him every night during his sleep (one's sensory and motor quiet,) though one does not remember this. Yoga is the process of remembering this conjunction and union through practice of remembrance making use of the times that grant such a possibility. The midday is not utilized as it is the period of intensive activity for moving forward and only slightly points to the path of return.
It is perhaps well to remember that ancients had two paths - the path of the day and the path of the night (the latter path is well known as the pancharatra or the path of the five nights, whereas the former must have been known as the path of the five day-times). Divine evolution or creation proceeds by the path of the day-times whereas dissolution or laya proceeds by the path of the nights. Yoga as Nivrtti or return to the original Ultimate Being is, therefore naturally the path of the nights. Sri Krishna is indeed the teacher of this path of the five nights. We attach ourselves to the ultimate being in our thought which is in a sense identical with the original thought centering round the energy particle or soul which has become our body and our being. This connecting ourselves with the ultimate being is possible at the points or times of connection between the nivrtti and pravrtti, day and night tendencies or movements.
Thus the meditation on the ultimate is best made at the Sandhyas, and more especially at, the night sandhya. In fact, the master speaks of the necessity for prayer and meditation at bedtime. This time the Pancharatra calls the time of yoga and samadhi, which is the final portion of the five times it has set apart for worship. It is then that one connects oneself with the transcendent original state.
The coolness that one experiences in the return reveals that the heat (friction) that has entered into one is now going out and one is slowly returning to the heaven of peace which is the ultimate.
The practice of early rising is to help feel the refreshing oneness with God during the early period expressing itself in and through the day. It is possible to experience that coolness of laya, absorption, even during the day when the heat seems to be increasing. It is this that has to be remembered as the Karma in Akarma and Akarma in Karma, the quiet in action and action in the quiet, the living in the ultimate fully which develops sahaj samadhi, natural absorption, in the ultimate who verily is the source of both creation and dissolution. Thus one develops the vision of the transcendent.
Master has also suggested the connection between the seasons; as we have stated it refers to the moving of the earth round the sun and marks out the periods of heat and cold, expansion and contraction, manifestation and absorption.
Master does not mention the metaphysical views separately. It will be clear that we accept (i) that there is an original divine fire existing eternally into which all enter and from which all emerge through the first original thought. This prime state or existence is at back of all existences but it cannot be described in terms of these existences. Master calls this zero or nothingness. This is the goal of all human beings, and as such it is God. (ii) There are very subtle entities or particles which are of the very nature of energy. They too are eternal in a sense but they are withdrawn into the ultimate at Laya or Pralaya. Individual souls exist eternally. They reach upto this state during their attainment and realization, and in pralaya are just withdrawn indistinguishably into the centre, and in srishti or creation they come into manifestation. But it is not at all necessary to hold whether the realised souls of the previous creation period return to bondage. Only those that have not reached this highest condition return to the manifestation and get grosser and grosser conditions which means a return to sorrow. The ancient view is that those who have attained oneness with God do not return to the world of gross manifestation and sorrow.
There are thus particles of energy arising from Thought action which forms the world of our gross experience and rings or sheaths and knots for the souls as they proceed to move outward and outward.
Nature, souls and God are thus the three eternal entities in essence. Thought is the force of the divine in which every soul shares, which leads to all process of manifestation, and it is with the help of this force as given by the Master who has reached the ultimate identity with his thought that one can return to the same directly and without great effort. What is necessary is the finding of the Master who will do this for the individual. He knows the times and hours and powers of the divine nature. He makes one pass from one's little private being to a God's and Master's world of reality. Surrender to the godhead and willingness to pursue the path are absolutely necessary. Cold promotes in some activity, in some sloth, and death. One should seek that activity which leads to liberation and not gross sloth and gross death.
Shri Ram Chandraji introduces into this topic an important principle, namely, 'invertendo' or inversion. This consists in the peculiar process or inverting the arrangement during the passage from one place of experience or existence to another. *The left of an object becomes the right and the right becomes left at a different level.
In logic we speak of conversion as the process by which we make the subject of a proposition the predicate and the predicate the subject. But inversion proceeds further and in it we make the contradictory of the subject, the subject and the contradictory of the predicate, of the new proposition. Undoubtedly there is a change in the signs affirmative and negative in conformity with the principle of keeping up the meaning. There is, of course, as intermediate step in this process of arriving at the inversion, namely, the contrapositive. The idea, however, is that these are but ways of expressing the meaning of proposition in terms of subject and predicate and in terms of their negatives.
We are not concerned with this logical process, for we are not attempting to keep the meaning the same, rather we are attempting to reveal the inner dynamics of movement which leads to either the expression or passage of ascent or descent.
We know in physiology there is the arrangement of the nervous paths in such a way that the left side nerves move over to the right side of the brain and the right-side nerves move over to the left side of the brain. This is called decussion. There is also in respect of the eye, semi decussion, one group of left side nerves move to the right side, and similarly with right side group of nerves.
Shri Ram Chandraji has written in the Efficacy of Rajyoga about this decussion or inversion of the sides in respect of the upper and lower parts of the heart and brahmanda, parabrahmanda and the central region. The upper becomes the lower and then once again becomes the upper and so on.
This seems to be so general or universal a law that it is perhaps possible to apply it to the knots which seem to operate in this manner because of the twist that enters into every knoting.
Sri Ram Chandraji has explained in the context of the first commandment that the sattva, rajas and tamas of the times or matter are but the inversions of the higher levels. Thus Tamas (or Tam) which is nearest to the Ultimate appears to be the farthest from reality in the appearance and is the lowest in the scale of matter. Sat or truth is seen to be highest from our point of view but it is indeed left far behind when we enter the realm of spirit. Rajas activity, however, retains its place being always the middle. It is consciousness-force, activity and so on. Tamas is called inertness, so too Tam is activity less and is peace, free from all change and so on.
Tam (anand) The inversion is as in a mirror
Sattva sattva is the image of sat.
Rajas rajas is the image of cit
Tamas tamas is the image of tam.
Thus the coolest portion of the day is that of Tam, and the hottest portion of the day is rajas or Cit. The state of laya is nearest to Tam when calm and peace can be easily attained. And it is unfortunate that this period at cool hours is utilised for the most indolent and slothful if not perverse occupations. The night is usually the time when asuras (nisacharas) are said to do their dirty work, but it is also utilised by saints for attaining the highest peace by their meditations and absorption in the highest. The night resembles the period of laya or dissolution, mergence and union, rather than the day-time, which is for creation, emergence and separation.
Earlier I spoke about the importance of choosing the Sandhya or the meeting time between the external heat and the cooling off of the same as the best time for meditation as it will considerably help in the attainment of Laya-Avastha, which we are all seeking with the ultimate reality beyond time. The times that we know as the Sandhyas are, of course, relative to the sun, the earth and perhaps the moon also, and finally our own time as determined by our waking and sleeping hours. In a sense this is spoken of by the Prashnopanisad which describes the day times and night times *but it does not clearly indicate the Sandhyas as important. However, the most important hours for meditation are the cooling hours of the night - both at the time of going to bed and at the time before sunrise. These are naturally helpful and we utilise the natural time for meditation for our purposes. The times follow the laws of influence of external heat.
It must be clearly noted that in this Natural way of union with the ultimate reality which is our goal, the transcendence of even the levels of existence or sat or truth and consciousness is aimed at.
A brief restatement of the important mystic law of invertendo or the law of inversion can be given to illustrate how the mystic or yogi aims at the tam (that) stage beyond the sat (satya or truth). It is the stage beyond philosophy from which philosophy springs, it is the basis of real experience which makes for the judgements of sat. Shri Ram Chandraji Maharaj has stated clearly that we all think of the three gunas sattva, rajas and tamas as being placed in a particular order. Tamas is the lowest, which means inertia, very much similar to the stage of inconscient things, rajas is activity and motion and passion, whereas sattva is the acme of harmony, light and so on. This is the order of the phenomenal life. We all seek to attain sattva which will help us to know truth. The yogi going beyond the nature sees that these three gunas are but reflections so to speak of the highest nature and in this reflection we find that sattva or Satya is the nearest and lowest whereas tamas or tam is the highest and is what we have to reach. Rajas is what remains in the middle always. It is in fact the common point. It has the nature of activity in the lower and consciousness at the higher. That is why consciousness mediates between peace of attainment and perfection which is unchanging, and truth which is constantly being modified by further experience and is also a test of existence.
The necessity for purity is very clear. Purity of the body is helpful for meditation. Thus one should be pure and clean in every respect when he gets into meditation. Thus there is necessary preparation for meditation such as cleaning oneself fully. It makes the meditation healthy and one's attention is not diverted to the body. There is also needed the selection of a pure place which is clean. One has to choose a place where there can be no disturbance atleast during the period of meditation. The time of meditation being regularised one habitually turns towards it when the time arrives. So also when one approaches the place of meditation, the meditative mood will return to him.
The next important step is asana or posture. Master has stated that the natural posture (siddha or ready posture) which we take when we squat is best. There are mentioned many postures or asanas such as padma, sarvanga, sirsa, hala, bhujanga, kukkuta, matsya etc. But not all of them are useful for our meditation, though they may be good for health and other purposes. For purposes of meditation and prayer we ought to take up the sitting posture which is steady and easy and which can be maintained for at least an hour without discomfort. It is clear that siddha and padma asanas are the only two good asanas that one can assume. In these two asanas the head must be kept erect and the back must also be straight and not curved. It is to be pointed out that it helps the descent of the grace to the heart much more easily and has probably no connection with the kundalini ascent as such, though it is not ruled out.
In the asana we assume a posture of withdrawal of our sense and motor movements corresponding to our aim, namely, laya with the highest. As Sri Krishna has stated one has to withdraw one's limbs into oneself (sense-organs, motor organs and mind) even as the tortoise does. Thus asana which is uniformly assumed helps the meditation.
There is similarity to the deep sleep state in asana since as the Mandukya upanishad stated the sense organs, motor organs and manas in their gross as well as their subtle conditions are withdrawn. These operate in the waking and dream states of the individual.
Now the contraction of the activities or withdrawal of the activities leads or helps towards recapitulating the original conditions of the tam or latent state prior to manifestation. The individual will thus make effective his unity with that latent condition.
The master shows that once these are attained and one begins to meditate on his heart which is the meeting place (sandhi) of the acit and cit conditions or the gross and the subtle conditions of the original force, then thanks to the grace of the master and his transmission, the gross particles begin to become subtle and subtler till they are finally recovered and merged into the latent state. The heart's importance in this is clear because it is at the heart that one really perceives, so far as man is concerned, the meeting place and conversion of the gross particles and paramanus into the energy that finally become latent or merge into the ultimate. The yatra or travel to the source becomes automatically started once the prayer is made at the appropriate time and place and in the appropriate manner.
The whole commandment in a nut-shell states that for the speedy purposes of realization it is best and advisable to choose the conditions which will not interfere with our abhyas. The time to be chosen must be the time when external physical or gross heat of the sun is not active; thus bed time and early morning are very good periods. Cleanliness of the body and mind is necessary. One must have the yearning for peace which one seeks when going to bed after a hard day's labour or work. A fixed place and fixed pose are additional helps. Meditation on the heart is most useful and imperative for speedy approach to the ultimate state.
Above all Master's grace is to be sought integrally. All the others such as time, place and pose are relatively helpful and one should not drop abhyas just because one has no time, no place and no convenience and is unable to sit in the siddha or the padma asana. Master will help all if there is aspiration for the ultimate and its descent in oneself.
Therefore the first commandment is comprehensive as it covers almost the yama, niyama, asana and dhyana stages of the yoga-sastra.