DHARANA

   

Dharana is the sixth stage of Ashtanga Yoga.  Dharana means keeping the mind steady and concentrated.  When the body has been tempered by Asanas, when the mind has been refined by the fire of Pranayama, the Yogi reaches the sixth stage of yoga which is Dharana.  The Yogi is concentrated wholly on a single point or on a task in which he is completely engrossed.  The mind is an instrument which classifies, judges and co-ordinates the impressions from the outside world and those that arise within oneself.  
Mind is the product of thoughts which are difficult to restrain for they are subtle and fickle.  A thought which is well guarded by a controlled mind brings happiness.  The mind is the instrument for thinking and it is therefore necessary to consider how it functions.  Mental states are classified in five groups:

    *  KSIPTA: This is the state where the mental forces are scattered, being in disarray and in the state of neglect.  Here the mind hankers after objects.
    *  VIKSIPTA: This is the state where the mind is agitated and distracted.  Here there is a capacity to enjoy the fruits of one's efforts, but the desires are not marshaled and controlled.
    *  MUDHA:  This is the state in which the mind is foolish, dull and stupid.  It is confounded and at a loss to know what it wants and here the quality of darkness and ignorance predominates.
    *  EKAGRA:  The meaning of this state is One Foremost state, where the mind is closely attentive and the mental faculties are concentrated on a single object or focused on one point only quality of goodness and purity prevailing.  This type of Yogi or person has superior intellectual powers and knows exactly what he wants so he uses all his powers to achieve his purpose.  At times the ruthless pursuit of the desired objects irrespective of the cost to others, can create great misery, and it often happens that even if the desired object is achieved it leaves behind a bitter taste.  There is danger, however of an Ekagra person becoming supremely egotistical.  Where the senses start roaming unchecked the mind follows suit.  They cloud a man's judgment and set him adrift like a battered ship on a storm-tossed sea.  This type of person needs adoration of the Lord and concentration on divinity to keep his mental equilibrium so that he goes on always in the right direction. He will not know the happiness until the sense of 'I' and 'Mine' disappears.
    *  NIRUDDHA:   This is the state where the mind, intellect and ego are all restrained and all these faculties are offered to the Lord for His use and in His service.  Here there is no feeling of 'I' and 'Mine'.  As a lens becomes more luminous when great light is thrown upon it and seems to be all light and undistinguishable from it, so also an aspirant who has given up his mind, intellect and ego to the Lord, becomes one with him for an aspirant thinks of nothing but Him, who is the creator of the thought.

Without concentration one can master nothing.  Without concentration on divinity, which shapes and controls the universe, one cannot unlock the divinity within oneself or become a universal man.  To achieve this concentration, what is recommended is study of the single element that pervades all, the innermost self of all beings, who converts His one form into many.  

AUM:  According  to Shri Vinoba Bhave, a  great philosopher, the Latin word Omne and the Sanskrit word Aum are both derived from the same root meaning all and both words convey the concepts of Omniscience, Omnipresence and Omnipotence.  Another word for Aum is pranava, which is derived from the root Nu meaning to praise, to which is added the prefix Pra denoting superiority .  The word, therefore means the best praise or the best prayer.  The symbol AUM is composed of three syllables, namely the letters A, U, M and when written has the crescent and dot on its top.  A few instances of the various interpretations given to it maybe mentioned here to convey its meaning.  The letter A symbolizes the conscious or waking state, the letter U the dream state and the letter M the dreamless sleep state of the mind and the spirit.  The entire symbol together with the crescent and the dot, stands for the fourth state, which combines all these states and transcends them.  This is the state of Samadhi.  The letters A, U, and M symbolize respectively Speech, the Mind and the Breath of life, while the entire symbol stands for the living spirit, which is but a portion of the divine spirit.  The three letters also represent the dimensions of Length, Breadth and Depth,  while the entire symbol represents Divinity, which is beyond the limitations of shape and form.  The three letters A, U and M symbolize the absence of Desire, Fear and Anger, while the whole symbol stands for the perfect man, one whose wisdom is firmly established in the divine.  They also represent three genders Masculine, Feminine and Neuter, while the entire symbol represents all creation together with the creator.  
After realizing the importance of AUM, the Yogi focuses his attention on his beloved Deity adding AUM to the name of the Lord.  The word AUM being too vast and too abstract, he unifies his senses, will intellect, mind and reason by focusing on the name of the Lord and adding the word AUM with one pointed devotion and so experiences the feeling and meaning of the Mantra.  

   


 
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