Sadhana Chatushtaya or the four qualifications for the seeker of truth actually add up to nine as the third qualification comprises six components. Sri Adi Sankaracharya in the Vivekachoodamani gives a detailed explanation of these qualities so the student is really prepared.
While he explains viveka as the ability to discriminate moment to moment what is the reality and what is not, vairagya goes a step further and exhorts us to withdraw from whatever is not the reality. All that we see and hear through our senses are unreal. That includes literally almost everything in this world beginning from the physical body up to the creator of this universe called Brahma. Unreal here means transient—objects, people and situations that come and go.
Shama means peace of mind. How is that obtained? The student has to stop hankering after objects. Objects do not refer to those in the world with names and forms. They are our desire-filled thoughts that escape through the five sense organs seeking fulfilment. The feelings of pleasure go out through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin seeking their respective objects of pleasure. Not allowing to do so in the mind is shama.
When shama becomes impossible and there is an intense craving for something, the next support to withdraw from actually going for it is dama or control of the sense organ. If I crave some dessert which I should not eat, dama forces the tongue not to taste it and the hands not to pick it up to put in the mouth. This control is achieved by contemplating on the faults in a particular thing, situation or person that we crave.
Shama is not only to stop going behind objects seeking pleasure, but also a counter-employment of the mind into contemplation on the goal of the self. That controlled mind should be given a noble pursuit to work upon. Otherwise, it will create untold disturbances in the life of the individual seeker.
Dama is to remove the mind from the clutches of the 10 sense organs of perception and action, and placing it in its own seat of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. Uparati or withdrawal means to remove the sense organs from their limited pursuits seeking joy and place them in their respective abodes of the ear, eyes, nose, taste and touch.
Titiksha is to put up with all difficulties, problems and sorrow and not to try means by which we can circumvent the problem. This has to be done without premeditated thinking and dialogue. To agree and feel that what the Shastras and the Guru say is right is called Shraddhi and Samadhi is maintaining an equanimous state of mind.
The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Mission,Coimbatore (www.chinmayamission.com); email: