Sriman Sant Jagjit Singh Ji Harkhowal Wale
‘Abhiyaas’ is a name given to that persistent effort with which mind is brought under control. The effort involves repeatedly stopping the mind from habitual indulgence and tuning it in contemplation of that Supreme Being instead. Mind’s disposition is to wander here and there, it focusses its attention on worthless things, but one cannot find stability this way. The real aim is to realise Waheguru Ji and that can only happen if we turn our attention away from insignificant things and towards the infinite Brahm. The Abhiyaas, the effort, happens through meditation and mind comes under one’s control with that. Meditation is the best medicine for controlling the mind and helps in eradicating diseases like ego, anger, etc. Thus, true Abhiyaas is when there is a constant effort to tune the mind so that it can remain in the constant remembrance and contemplation of the Brahm.
Helpful tips for Abhiyaasis
1. A lot of time is needed for Abhiyaas, i.e. invest as much time as possible in spiritual contemplation. Just as weighing scale tilts to one side when weight is added to it, the time spend in Abhiyaas strengthens the power of simran which will eventually suppress the vices. But if we keep adding more negativity within us, it will outweigh all goodness. Thus, the motive is to reduce badness, so do not commit bad deeds from now on and outweigh the old ones with goodness.
2. It is important to be in Aasan at a specific place and time and to stick with Jaap of a particular Mantar only. Changing Mantars or recitation techniques, sitting for contemplation at random places and at random times are all obstructions in attaining concentration of the mind. It is very important to be punctual.
3. Abhiyaasi should be devoted to the Guru, lover of naam, very determined and focussed, neutral in hunger, thirst, happiness and sadness. He/she should stay away from slander, gossip and unnecessary debates – difference in opinions for instance. There should be undying devotion to Shabad Guru Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj and trust on the bachans of Mahapurashs. Only true devotees can receive true knowledge, sceptics will never be able to gain anything.
4. Abhiyaas must be done with full devotion regardless of whether one is successful or not. Instead of becoming impatient, acknowledge that it is our own fault; Then do benti for success in the lotus feet of Maharaj, He will surely honour the modesty. Do not do Abhiyaas for the sake of success.
5. Abhiyaasi should not get disappointed with any number of previous failures. Do not get desperate, or spend time in futile calculations. One should keep trying tirelessly till the time knowledge of the Self is realised.
6. Abhiyaasi should not be deterred by any difficulties in the way; keep doing simran with utmost conviction and devotion. Use skill (jugat) to trap the snake-like mind back into its box. Enthusiastic Abhiyaasi will definitely taste success, so keep marching on the path holding on to the thread of love.
7. It is very important for an Abhiyaasi to have absolute control on his/her needs. Practice proper restraint on eating, drinking, speaking, walking, sleeping, etc. Do not waste time, keep yourself immersed in simran and contemplation, do sangat of mahapurashs to keep mindset clean and focussed, do darshan of holy Granths. Stay away from cheap dances, plays, and other such rasful kriyas (activities). Practice restraint on speech, i.e. do not talk more than needed. Time is precious, spend it in Simran and meditation. Kaami chats, books, magazines, sangat of kaami men and women is strictly forbidden for Abhiyaasis. Always remember death, serve the Guru with body, mind and wealth. Remain ego-less, get blessings of Mahapurashs, do not get attached to material objects, keep attention focussed in Guruji’s lotus feet to develop inner consciousness. Without Abhiyaas, mind can never come under control. Abhiyaas provides Shaastar (spiritual) and Shastar (martial) dexterity. It is through Abhiyaas one can be skilful in horse-riding, Gatka, spear-throwing, archery and weaponry. Swimming, Yoga Abhiyaas, Ridhi and Sidhis, Awareness of Self, Brahmgyan, worldly knowledge, intertwining with the infinite Brahm, all become possible with Abhiyaas. There are people that do ‘Abhiyaas’ of Maya and toil day and night and are successful at it. But these are nothing but temporary worldly joys. The true utopian happiness and supreme internal bliss can be achieved only by Abhiyaas of Naam and Bani.
Four Types of Abhiyaasis
1. First type: Those quacks who read few scriptures and claim to be the doctor; they rely solely on bookish knowledge to describe techniques of doing Abhiyaas. They do not practice what they preach and use fancy words to sound like a real Abhiyaasi. Be extra careful of such fake individuals.
2. Second type: Those who dress up in religious garbs, close their eyes and pretend to be in Samadhi while their real aim is to get material rewards or fame in return. They use glycerine to cry crocodile tears so that people can consider them great Bairaagis. Such people are extremely devious, they play mind games to lure people in their trap. Be careful of these people also.
3. Third type: Those who do make efforts but their minds are rarely free from vices. There is a lack of Abhiyaas but at times their mind does come under control. The treatment will not work effectively if one takes right medication but does not keep appropriate precautions. Thus, renounce anything that becomes obstruction in the path of attainment of true contemplative state. Keep increasing the levels of Abhiyaas, real victory lies in the persistent effort; do not get disheartened.
4. The fourth Avastha is that of true lovers – their mind remains merged in the vastness of the Brahm. They forever stay away from Vikaars (vices); they do not let bad habits establish their roots in them as they do not participate in bad sangat at all. Such Abhiyaasis enjoy the real fruits of contemplation.
Spiritual Gains from Naam Abhiyaas
Although mind does come under control with Abhiyaas, however without Bairaag the spiritual elevation does not last for long. Mind is extrovert in nature; with Abhiyaas, one should maintain internal state of Samadhi and ignore external influences. Sometimes, Abhiyaasis force themselves into this state of Samadhi but the reward is less than satisfactory. Therefore, Abhiyaas needs the company of Bairaag if one wants to develop state of supreme ecstasy. A Bairaagi person remains indifferent to material objects, he/she becomes true to ‘Tinne Viche Maya Paayea’. So, train the mind so that it can remain in simran; consider everything worthless except Waheguru Ji for only He is the only absolute truth. When such Avastha is attained, new, fragrant thoughts will start sprouting within. These rivers of thought will eventually submerge the mind into the limitless ocean of Brahm; salvation and oneness with eternal light will be obtained. Now the thing is, this Avastha is obtained with great efforts and one must be extra careful till the end so that it does not go to waste. Take the support of Murshad (the Guru) and Sangat to cross this treacherous ocean and be a Pargramee; do not be boastful after making it to the other side and consider yourself forever under the debt of the Guru and the Sangat who made it possible. Then, be a loyal son/daughter of the Guru and emancipate the fellow Gursikhs also. Guruji says:
ਮਾਨ ਮੋਹ ਅਰੁ ਲੋਭ ਵਿਕਾਰਾ; ਬੀਓ ਚੀਤਿ ਨ ਘਾਲਿਓ ॥
Pride, emotional attachment, greed and corruption are gone; I have not placed anything else, other than the Lord, within my consciousness.
ਨਾਮ ਰਤਨੁ ਗੁਣਾ ਹਰਿ ਬਣਜੇ; ਲਾਦਿ ਵਖਰੁ ਲੈ ਚਾਲਿਓ ॥੧॥
I have purchased the jewel of the Naam and the Glorious Praises of the Lord; loading this merchandise, I have set out on my journey. ||1||
ਸੇਵਕ ਕੀ, ਓੜਕਿ ਨਿਬਹੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ॥
The love which the Lord’s servant feels for the Lord lasts forever.
ਜੀਵਤ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵਿਓ ਅਪਨਾ; ਚਲਤੇ ਰਾਖਿਓ ਚੀਤਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
In my life, I served my Lord and Master, and as I depart, I keep Him enshrined in my consciousness. ||1||Pause||
ਜੈਸੀ ਆਗਿਆ ਕੀਨੀ ਠਾਕੁਰਿ; ਤਿਸ ਤੇ ਮੁਖੁ ਨਹੀ ਮੋਰਿਓ ॥
I have not turned my face away from my Lord and Master’s Command.
ਸਹਜੁ ਅਨੰਦੁ; ਰਖਿਓ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਭੀਤਰਿ; ਉਠਿ ਉਆਹੂ ਕਉ ਦਉਰਿਓ ॥੨॥
He fills my household with celestial peace and bliss; if He asks me to leave, I leave at once. ||2||
ਆਗਿਆ ਮਹਿ ਭੂਖ, ਸੋਈ ਕਰਿ ਸੂਖਾ; ਸੋਗ ਹਰਖ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਨਿਓ ॥
When I am under the Lord’s Command, I find even hunger pleasurable; I know no difference between sorrow and joy.
ਜੋ ਜੋ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਭਇਓ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕਾ; ਸੋ ਮਾਥੈ ਲੇ ਮਾਨਿਓ ॥੩॥
Whatever the Command of my Lord and Master is, I bow my forehead and accept it. ||3||
ਭਇਓ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾਲੁ ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਕ ਕਉ; ਸਵਰੇ ਹਲਤ ਪਲਾਤਾ ॥
The Lord and Master has become merciful to His servant; He has embellished both this world and the next.
ਧੰਨੁ ਸੇਵਕੁ, ਸਫਲੁ ਓਹੁ ਆਇਆ; ਜਿਨਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਖਸਮੁ ਪਛਾਤਾ ॥੪॥੫॥
Blessed is that servant, and fruitful is his birth; O Nanak, he realizes his Lord and Master. ||4||5|| (Ang 1000, Dhan SGGS Ji Maharaj)
6 Characteristics of a true friend
There is a slok in Sanskrit:
ਪਾਪਾਨ ਨਿਵਾਰਿਯਤ ਯੋਜਯਤਿ ਹਿਤਾਯ
ਗੁਰਯੇ ਚਗੋਹਯਤਿ ਗੁਵਾਨ੍ਰ ਪ੍ਰਕਟੀ ਕਰੋਤਿ ॥
ਆਪਤ ਗਤਾਂ ਨ ਜਗਤਿ ਦਦਾਤਿ ਕਾਲੇ
ਸਨਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਲਖਯਣੰ ਲਖਯਣੰ ਪ੍ਰਵਦੰਤਿ ਸੰਤਾ:॥
A true friend should:
1. eradicate evil i.e. should forbid us from committing sins;
2. help connect to the true love, to the contemplation and meditation of Waheguru Ji;
3. keep secrets (faults of friends) i.e. should not slander friends in public;
4. help bring out good qualities of others;
5. stick by friends in need, should help solve the crisis on hand; and
6. help satisfy necessities like money, food and clothing etc. in times of need.
The Bairaag State of Abhiyaasi
A slok in Sanskrit says:
ਨ ਕਾਂਖਸ਼ੇ ਵਿਜਯੰ ਗਮ ਨਚਦਾਰ ਸੁਖਾਦਿਕੰ ॥
ਭਕ੍ਵਿੰ ਏਵ ਸਦਾ ਕਾਂਖਯੇ ਤ੍ਵਯਿ ਬੰਧਵਿ ਮੋਚਨੀ ॥
Meaning – I do not desire to rule nor want pleasures like women, etc. I only need the meditation of Your lotus feet. True Abhiyaas can only be practised by a person who has supreme Bairaag for lotus feet of the Lord.
6 types of Sanctuary
ਅਨਕੂਲਸਯ ਸੰਕਲਪ: ਪ੍ਰਤਿਕੂਲਸਯ ਵਰਜਨੰ ॥
ਰਖਿਸ਼ਯਤਿ ਇਤਿ ਵਿਸ਼੍ਵਾਸੋ ਗੋਪਿਤ੍ਰਤ੍ਵੇ ਵਰਣੰ। ਤਥਾ:
ਆਤਮ ਨਿਖਸ਼ੇਪ ਕਾਰਪਨਯੰ ਖਟ ਵਿਧਾ ਸਰਣਾਗਤਿ:।
1. Servant must adapt to the ways of the Master.
2. Renounce participations in worthless contradictions and arguments.
3. Have undying faith that Lord will forever protect me.
4. Constant prayers for protection, more protection.
5. Surrender everything (self, mind, and wealth) in the lotus feet of Guruji i.e. drop worldly attachments.
6. Admit cowardice i.e. never hide your weakness in front of Guruji. Show your humility by saying, ‘I am a sinner, I cannot serve you well! Please bless with prudence!’ and Maharaj will surely honour your modesty.
ਜੋ ਸਰਣਿ ਆਵੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਕੰਠਿ ਲਾਵੈ ਇਹੁ ਬਿਰਦੁ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸੰਦਾ ॥
The Lord lovingly embraces whoever comes to the Lord’s Sanctuary – this is the way of the Lord and Master.
ਬਿਨਵੰਤਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਕੰਤੁ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸਦਾ ਕੇਲ ਕਰੰਦਾ ॥੪॥੧॥੪॥
Prays Nanak, I have met my Husband Lord, who plays with me forever. ||4||1||4|| (Ang 544, Dhan SGGS Ji Maharaj)
This is how an Abhiyaasi is able to find the sanctuary of the Lord. Waheguru Ji forever protects his true devotees. It is our duty to make constant efforts, so keep doing that.
Hukam of Maharaj for a Gursikh Abhiyaasi
ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਜੋ ਸਿਖੁ ਅਖਾਏ ਸੁ ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥
One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord’s Name.
ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਭਲਕੇ ਪਰਭਾਤੀ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵੈ ॥
Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar.
ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਪੁ ਜਾਪੈ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਦੋਖ ਲਹਿ ਜਾਵੈ ॥
Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased.
ਫਿਰਿ ਚੜੈ ਦਿਵਸੁ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਗਾਵੈ ਬਹਦਿਆ ਉਠਦਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥
Then, at the rising of the sun, he is to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord’s Name.
ਜੋ ਸਾਸਿ ਗਿਰਾਸਿ ਧਿਆਏ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਵੈ ॥
One who meditates on my Lord, Har, Har, with every breath and every morsel of food – that GurSikh becomes pleasing to the Guru’s Mind.
ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਦਇਆਲੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਤਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਗੁਰੂ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਸੁਣਾਵੈ ॥
That person, unto whom my Lord and Master is kind and compassionate – upon that GurSikh, the Guru’s Teachings are bestowed.
ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਧੂੜਿ ਮੰਗੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਕੀ ਜੋ ਆਪਿ ਜਪੈ ਅਵਰਹ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਵੈ ॥੨॥
Servant Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of that GurSikh, who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it. ||2|| (Ang 305, Dhan SGGS Ji Maharaj)
Guruji has clearly explained the entire Abhiyaas Kriya for a Gursikh. A persistence and determined Abhiyaasi will eventually get freedom from cycle of birth and re-births.
Four Obstacles in Naam Abhiyaas
2. Flights of fancy (Furney);
3. Dependency on Sleep; and
4. Occult (Ridhi Sidhis)
Abhiyaasi should always pray in the lotus feet of Waheguru Ji to keep him/her free from these obstacles. Waheguru Ji then becomes the protector and makes sure that the path remains smooth to tread. There are many other examples and inspirational material available on this subject. No single article can be considered complete and words alone will not do anything, although they can guide us on the right path. Thus, a benti in your feet: Please let us all make efforts, become true Abhiyaasis so that we can cross this treacherous ocean and reach the other side.
ਇਸ ਤੇ ਊਪਰਿ ਨਹੀ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
Beyond this, he has no other thought.
ਜਾ ਕੈ ਮਨਿ ਬਸਿਆ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ॥
Within his mind, the Formless Lord abides. (Ang 292, Dhan SGGS Ji Maharaj)
Please forgive me for the countless mistakes made while writing this article.