Their question is, Which is the best sadhana (spiritual/religious practice) for a householder. Because, after seeing the details of Purashcharana, he finds it very difficult to follow. Practitioner also thinks where to start and where to end? what is this table of 36 in it? because there are 36 steps in it. I always say one thing when this question is asked to me. that, if you want to learn how to play any musical instrument then there is no shortcut for this. if you want to learn just to play 2 or 3 songs then you may learn that in 2-3 months But if you want to get mastery over it then you need to give time on it.
There is no other way. Whether you are a householder, a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer or even God, who so ever you are if you want to learn any art then you need to give time to that art you will be able to learn if you give time if you do not give time then you cannot learn that. There is another way if I can’t learn to play but can I learn to listen? Can I get enjoyment by listening to it? There is no such way or any such medicine that someone gave you and next morning when you wake up you will be able to play any instrument.
That is why, whenever God has taken incarnation on this earth, why did he go to his Guru? why did he do Sadhana? why did he do sacrifice? why did he contemplate? when he was God himself. Enlightened Sages, renowed ascetics, etc; why did they all have to walk on the path of Sadhana? Because, you will not learn if you do not do it yourself. whatever it is, whether being happy in life, it is a skill, can be learned Staying sad in life, you will learn automatically, that is also a skill Seeing your parents, society, school, everyone nearby is sad So, one is learning it automatically be seeing.
If you want to eat with fork and knife or want to eat with chopsticks, this is also you have to learn. If you go to any Chinese Restaurant and there are chopsticks placed with each plate. and you say, what will I do with these 2 sticks… Spoon or fork is fine for me, you can keep eating with them, there is no problem in it. But if you want to eat with chopsticks, you must learn. Similarly, if a householder wants to do Sadhana, he must learn it.
practice makes perfect. Getting frightened by seeing Purashcharana is one thing. But always remember “only one step by step, a journey of thousand miles will be completed” Long back, I have read a book with title “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott This book is about writing. She said, when a writer or creative person sits to write any novel or book They get tensed that they have to write such a big book, and how will they be able to complete it? She have given an example in the book: Her younger brother, he was having summer holidays, when holidays were about to get over only 2 days before, he remembered that his teacher had given project work which he had not even started on. he had to go to school after 2 days, but his homework was still not done Something similar happens with kids, they forget the homework sometimes, they like to forget, who will do holiday homework?
what kind of holiday when they give so much homework? When I was in school… Normally teachers give holiday homework one week before the holiday starts I used to get obsessed about… completing all holiday homework before the holiday starts. I wanted to play for the full 1.5 months, and did not want to do any schoolwork So, I used to complete my holiday homework in 7 days, and sit idle If someone asked about homework, I would reply, its done. So, this child, only 2 days are left for school to open and he had not completed the work. He started crying that his project in which he has to paste photos of many birds, is not done yet.
In school they give such worthless work, I wonder who would have thought that this work should be given to students. He should not sit happy and freely, give him such work which does not have any meaning I used to get work as make scrapbook, this, and that, what will I achieve by doing this? but I still must do it. Similarly, he had to make a book, in which on one side, he had to paste the photo of the bird and write details about it on other side He started crying, he said, he had to do it for 70 birds How will I do it? When will I start?
When will it be completed? His father went to him and consoled him and said, son, bird by bird, we will do 70 birds we have to think about it one bird at a time we will start with one, then second and then one by one, we will complete all. Same happens in Sadhana or all other fields If we get frightened after looking at the big goal, then we will not do anything You do not have to think about 2.4 million recitation of mantra in Purashcharana also, do not need to think about 36 steps in it You have to think about 9 days of Navratri, what can you do in those 9 days? If you can remain disciplined in those 9 days, then you can be disciplined for 90 days or even 900 days. There is no shortcut for this. but, this is also true that there is a way to do things. I am hesitant to give my own example. But I know myself the most, so I can give my example only.
When I was little, not that little, Probably, I was in 10th standard in school. There was a typing learning school nearby. It was a shop and there were 10 typewriters, where you could also practice. I am telling you the complete truth without adding anything to it I was fond of typing since childhood So fond that, sometimes I used to go to my mother’s office, and tell her that I want to practice typing, then she used to tell any stenographer there, to let me do typing during lunch time. After finishing typing, I used to go to the library. From school to office and then library. When I started learning typing, their fee was Rs 50 per month. Per month fees for that institute was Rs 50 You can practice for 3 or 5 days of the week in that fee You can practice typing for 1 hour You cannot be a good typist by practicing just 1 hour I went there, practiced for 1 hour and came back There was another way, that I pay another Rs 50 and tell them to allow me to practice more But I was not having extra time for that. Because somehow, I am very busy from childhood. I did not have time So, I thought, how to do this?
How do I optimize my time? You may not believe this, if I am going to buy milk, or going for dog walk with our pet Rocky, or doing anything else I started doing shadow typing. No one taught me that concept But like everyone have some natural tendencies, Mine is that I get obsessed If I have to do something, then nothing else is visible to me I am doing typing with my hands all the time I left that typing school after 2 months. because after 2 months, my typing speed was 75 words per minute with more than 95% accuracy on those clunky typewriters Because I did not practice typing for one hour, I did it day and night If my hands are free, I was doing shadow typing The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog Constantly I was typing this in my head. and this is what mental training is, in every field. So much that, after 2 years, in 10+2 board examination of shorthand subject, I have to learn shorthand, but I thought there is no benefit of learning it, I did not want to become a stenographer However, I used to ask my sister sometimes, That I have such big dreams, whether I will remain a simple clerk in some office She always replied, No, that will never happen. So, I thought what will I do by learning the shorthand. But as it was a high scoring subject, I opted for it. In shorthand typing exam, they give you dictation first. You have to notate that dictation, then you type it In 30-45 min, you forget what you have notated Usually in 30-45 min or max 90 min you have to type what you have notated Like in older times, Journalist, when wireless phones were not common. So, I asked my teacher, what will happen, if any student does wrong notation but his typing/transcript is correct? Teacher replied, we only care about the transcription. If your transcript is correct, then naturally your notation will also be correct. In the exam, they speak at speed 80 words per minute, you cannot write at this speed so you will only be able to notate. So, we will check only the transcription. There were around 100 students in that class and there were 100 typewriters in the hall. First, they will do dictation, this was 10+2 board exam First, they will do dictation, and then they will give you time 5-10 min to type it, transcribe it when they were speaking, I started typing at that time. In the exam hall, there was sound from only one typewriter Because all others were notating but I was typing and they were certain that, there will be so many mistakes and there is no way that this guy would do anything It will be a big thing if he passes this exam because they are saying it at this speed. This is to say that … right now, I am dictating a passage to you, now, I am saying Like this, they were speaking, at the speed of 80 words per minute Test has ended, dictation has ended, after that entire hall is filled with the sound of 100 typewriters and I am doing the notation I am doodling, I know, that all my notation is wrong because I have not learned notation correctly. Because I was thinking that it will not be of any use in life Why should I waste my time on this? Results came, that exam was based on 75 Marks. I got 74. I did not get these many claps then, What I mean to say is this Just because there is a lot of work, it does not mean that we must work like donkeys, we can be smart about doing things in life So, if there is a lot Sadhana to do, it does not mean that if you are not able to take out time daily, then Sadhana will not happen. You can train your mind, You can train your mind so that all the actions turn in to Sadhana. then there is no problem, your Sadhana will be of many hours. I am asking you very simple thing, When you are bathing, 99% of the people are having thoughts at that time, Who is stopping you to do Japa(chanting) at that time? Why is it not happening? When you are eating, why are you not doing Japa? When you are traveling by car, bus, train or when you are driving, why are you not doing Japa? This is an Art, which you must learn. Art of Mindfulness I should do something even If get 2 minutes only. If you follow this, Sadhana will become very easy. If you are doing Sadhana only while sitting then you will have more sorrow, because Sadhana is not happening. Sadhana is not happening, Mind is not able to concentrate, many thoughts are coming, you are getting worried that you are not able to do such a simple thing. Leave aside liberation or enlightenment, I will go to the Ashram and meet Swamiji and it will be sufficient for me. If you want to do Sadhana, turn every action in to Sadhana. Every action while eating you cannot do Japa or recite Mantras, no problem, Can you eat every bite with happiness? Do you have this mindfulness? While bathing, brushing, changing clothes, while walking. King Martin Luther said, “when you want to do something, you find a way. When you do not, you find an excuse.” When you want to do something, somehow you will find the way. When Sadhana has the highest priority in your life then you will find the way to do it automatically. Because I cannot give you a fixed program on it. It will be wrong because you will not gain or attain anything out of it. Many religious movements or Sadhus/Saints are successful because they will tell you to follow a specific timetable. Wake up by 6 AM, Do this from 6 to 6.30, then do this till 7, do this in evening, do that before sleep, do this and that whole day. Everyone says that I have got the way for liberation. This is not the way. You have to thread your own path. What appeals the most to me, what are my tendencies, Whether I like Mantra sadhana or meditation, or something else. You have to find this yourself. If you like Mantra Sadhana then I have already told you the way for it what is in the scriptures for it, I have already mentioned. If you like Meditation, then I have already written the way for it. The ways by which I have travelled, what you can expect on those? What are the hurdles, problems in them, what is the path as per my experience? that I have already written down. So, if you have only 1 to 1.5-hour, Let’s suppose you have 1.5 hour for Sadhana. Then I will recommend to you, you may not like it, I am not too sure. If you have 1.5 hour, then you do apa/Meditation only for 50 min. You have 40 minutes remaining with you. 40 minutes spend quality time with your family. Those 40 minutes your phone should be off. Those 40 minutes sit with your kids if they want you to sit with them. or spend time with your spouse. It should not be like, my 40 minutes are starting, come and sit with me. We must remain happy in these 40 minutes, sit here. It should not be like this. If husband and wife have a cup of tea/milk together, from it there will be wealth in their life, from it a completeness will come in life, because parents get so busy in raising their kids, they forget each other When kids are grown up and are of 20-25 years and leave the house, if you are lucky. Some kids remain in their parent’s home till the age of 30-35. If children leave at the right time, then the problem is you are also old at that time. Then the husband and wife feel some strangeness amongst them. Then you start discovering new things about each other, I never knew that you like this, for the last 20 years. It has been said that there was a newly married couple. Wife prepared bread toast for breakfast and thought that they will have breakfast together. Wife used to like the crust (corners) of the bread, she thought that she will sacrifice it for her husband. She cuts the crust and gives it to him. Husband ate and it and praised her that it was very nice and so kind of you and so on. They followed same routine for next 20 years that they will sit together every morning for breakfast. Wife will give crust to the husband and she will eat the soft part of the bread. She used to think every day that someday her husband will ask her to have the curst, Because a wife wants her husband to anticipate, she should not have to ask. Wife thinks that if she has to ask from him then he has not understood her. Whatever it is, be a gift, if she has to ask then the value of it becomes very less. You should anticipate what I am thinking. You must know what I like. If you have guessed for someone else, then you will get a big lecture from your wife. You never guessed it for me but found the perfect thing for another person in 1 min so, she thought, someday it will come to his mind that you have the crust. but in their 20-year routine, it never happened. Those were days when a couple used to spend their whole life in the same village or in the same city. Same house, whole life, day in day out. and after 20 years, one day the wife was worried about something. She did not remember and gave soft part of the bread to the husband and kept crust on her side Husband smiled and ate it. He said, I want to tell you one thing that from childhood I never liked the crust of the bread but you used to give me with so much love that I was not able to refuse it. I thought you like the soft part and you can have it. You like the centre part of the bread, no worries, I will have the crust. So, parents get a breather once kids are grown up adults. They look at each other, know each other. Then you come to know that this is the same person whom I married, their body is getting tired, getting frail, some wrinkles have come on their face, he/she is the same who has spent all their life with me, who has done so many sacrifices, with whom we have run the family together. Then it is time for love to prosper. Bonding that happens at this time is unique. But if you want to have such bonding with your Sadhana, then do it even when you are busy. We cannot say that I will only worship after my retirement, it will not happen. We cannot say, let me get ill first then only I will exercise, it will not happen. We cannot say, let me be free from kids’ responsibility first then I will look at you. So, if you have 1.5-hour, 40 min one must spend with one’s partner. You should highlight some good things about them. you will be amazed to know that the expression of love changes a person in days. Everyone in family, young or old, want a place in the home and wants a feeling that their hard work should also be looked upon it should not be like that a wife only has to cook bread every day and if she is doing it then we say that this is our right, to get this food. So, if Sadhana is pure for a householder, it is, he should enjoy quality family time for some duration. It should not be like he did Sadhana for 40 min and then switch on the television and tells wife that come and sit, we are spending quality time. Phone should be off; television should be off. Because remote is such a thing that when it come in a man’s hand, his mind stops working Television remote is like Bali in Ramcharitmanas, Whoever comes in front of Bali, his half powers get transferred to Bali. Whoever comes in front of Bali, his powers get reduced to half and Bali’s power become double. Similarly, television remote when it come in your hand, it has such electric waves that it takes half of your thinking power. A Man will keep on changing the channel for hours, but he is not watching anything meaningful He is in a race to show how fast he can change the channels His Wife is asking, what are you watching, he is watching nothing, he is just changing the channel he will scroll all channels from 100 to 500, then he may come back to channel no 3 for some time this is his nature once remote is in his hand. So, if you want to spend quality time in Sadhana as a householder, this itself is not less than Sadhana. Listening to your wife for 30 min is not less than any Sadhana. It is more difficult than Mantra Sadhana or vice a versa may be. So that is really what I believe in, although I said it jokingly. You will surely enjoy the pleasure that you dream of, if and only if you can bring quality in your Sadhana and increase love. You will go long way.