By Arundhati Bhanot January 2003 Developed by Shri Ram Chandra Maharaj (Lalaji), Sahaj Marg, or the Natural Path, is a system of practical training in spirituality. It is the old Raja Yoga system, simplified by Shri Ram Chandra Mission, to help people achieve inner perfection Shri Ram Chandra Maharaj (Babuji) of Shahjahanpur (1899-1983) founded the Shri Ram Chandra Mission in 1945. In Sahaj Marg, the master transmits the subtlest divine current to the heart of the student Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari (Chariji) of Chennai is the current spiritual representative and president of the Mission. According to Sahaj Marg, God is simple, so the way to reach him must be simple too The 10 Maxims of Sahaj Marg 1. 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. 2. Begin your puja with a prayer for spiritual elevation, with a heart full of love and devotion. 3. Fix up your goal that should be ‘complete oneness’ with God. Rest not till the ideal is achieved. 4. Be plain and simple to be identical with nature. 5. Be truthful. Take miseries as Divine Blessings for your own good and be thankful. 6. Know all people as thy brethren and treat them as such. 7. Be not vengeful for the wrongs done by others. Take them with gratitude as heavenly gifts. 8. Be happy to eat whatever you get in constant divine thoughts, with due regard to honest and pious earnings. 9. Mould your life so as to arouse a feeling of love and piety in others. 10. At bedtime, repent for the wrongs committed. Beg forgiveness in a supplicant mood, resolving not to allow repetition of the same. “O Master! Thou art the real goal of human life. We are yet but slaves of wishes. Putting bar to our advancement. Thou art the only God and Power. To bring us up to that state.”—Shri Ram Chandra Mission’sprayer-meditation While it is generally believed that meditation requires a lot of preliminary sadhana and preparation, Sahaj Marg, on the contrary, says that it is a simple thing that does not require any preparation. In fact, meditation alone can prepare the mind, which is not controlled but regulated. By bringing it to bear upon a single subject, disturbing thoughts are allowed to drop off by non-attention—the greatest weapon to avoid thoughts. Mind, therefore, is not destroyed, but gently diverted, to communicate with the ultimate. Initiated by the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM), this meditation technique draws lakhs today. A simple practice that can be integrated into even the busiest of lives, Sahaj Marg is available to anyone who wishes to meditate. The technique integrates one’s physical, mental and spiritual aspects without employing any pressure or force. It does not call for austerities, self-denial, penance, external renunciation, celibacy, etc.Unlike other missions, in SRCM, one does not carry the burden of keeping his initiation mantra and practices secret from others. The idea behind the technique: “One just needs to be simple and natural in matters of spirituality.” The most important aspect of this system is that it does not prescribe sanyas as the ultimate lifestyle for oneness with the Supreme. Rather, it outlines the life of a householder as most congenial to spiritual development. So virtually anyone can know what the Sahaj Marg meditation is or how it can be practised. You should not, however, venture on the path all by yourself.To become a Sahaj Marg abhyasi, the three mandatory meditation sittings with a preceptor are indispensable. Explains Sahaj Marg literature: “A preceptor is an abhyasi who has been prepared and permitted by the Master to introduce people to the Sahaj Marg system and conduct both group and individual meditations. Thus, the master provides for the spiritual well-being of every abhyasi.” Transmission (Pranahuti)Transmission? Yes, the enigmatic term from Indian mysticism has a pivotal role in Sahaj Marg. It was Shri Ram Chandra Maharaj of Fatehgarh in Uttar Pradesh (1873-1931), the adi-guru (first guru) of the Mission, who is said to have rediscovered the capacity for the transmission of yogic or life energy from his own centre of existence into the centre of existence of another individual. This art was passed on by him to his disciple, Shri Ram Chandra Maharaj (1899-1983) of Shahjahanpur, a mofussil town in Uttar Pradesh, who perfected the art and in turn passed it on to his successor and spiritual representative, P. Rajagopalachari, the present president of the Mission.Transmission is defined as the utilisation of divine energy (pranahuti) for the transformation of a human being. Pranahuti—from prana (life) and ahuti (offering)—is the offering or transmitting of the subtlest divine current directed by the spiritual master to the heart of any abhyasi. “Science says every action has a reaction in the physical plane. Spirituality says every thought or action performed with the feeling of ‘I’ or consciousness of the self, leaves a trail of subtle impressions in the heart that become the seeds of future thought and actions which again lead to formation of more impressions. Repeated impressions of the same kind solidify into tendencies, and we become a slave of samskaras, to come back again and again into human existence to exhaust our samskaras. Due to this vicious cycle, our progress toward the goal is arrested,” explains Sahaj Marg literature.Founded in 1945 in Shahjahanpur, Sahaj Marg is now taught in over 1,500 centres. The present living Master P. Rajagopalchari (popularly known as Chariji) is the third in the lineage preceded by adi guru Shri Ram Chandra (popularly known as Lalalji) and his successor who went by the same name (Shri Ram Chandra, popularly known as Babuji). Lalaji was convinced that a normal family life was most conducive to self-development and that any sincere seeker could progress to the highest level of spiritual attainment while fulfilling the duties of a householder. Similarly, Babuji, whose life was that of an ordinary householder, considered the home and family to be the very finest training ground for spirituality. Babuji further refined his Master’s teachings into the current practice of Sahaj Marg. Lifestyle and practiceAccording to the teaching of Sahaj Marg, God is simple and therefore, the way to reach Him must be simple. Mind is the key instrument in a human being and by its proper regulation through meditation under practical guidance and support of a spiritual Master, one can evolve to the Highest. There are no rituals and ceremonials. Do’s and don’ts are few and there are no rigid methods of austerity and penance. So, it promises minimum alteration in aspirants’ lifestyle asking nothing more than willingness for spiritual development. Once that is there, the following regime of spiritual practices is to be adhered to by the abhyasis.Morning puja: The day of an abhyasi begins with an early morning meditation of one-hour duration. “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,” reads the first of the 10 maxims prescribed for an abhyasi (See Box). It is worth noting that in case an abhyasi is not able to rise before sunrise for whatever reason, he should not be disappointed or feel guilty. Anytime in the day can be chosen to continue the puja. Before the puja, the Sahaj Marg prayer is to be offered once mentally. Neither the prayer nor the divine light has to be referred back during the meditation. There is no mantra to be recited mentally or verbally. Just be calm and meditative. There is also no fixed posture to sit in for the meditation—one can choose almost any posture in which the spinal cord and head stand erect. Meditation on the Divine in one’s heart is puja (worship) and therefore, starts with a mental prayer for spiritual elevation with one’s heart full of love and devotion. Cleaning: In the evening again sit in the same posture, at least for half an hour, thinking about the complexities, the network of your previous thoughts and grossness and the solidity in your constitution as melting away, or evaporating in the form of smoke, from your back side and that in its place the sacred current of the divine is entering your heart from the Master’s heart. It will help to purge your mind and make you receptive to the efficacious influence of our great Master. It must be remembered, however, that while practising these methods one should not force one’s mind too much and sit normally. This process of cleaning is to be repeated for about five minutes before meditational practice in the morning as well. Here, it is very important to note the content of the prayer. You are not asking for any material or worldly relief. In the payer, you only state some basic facts about life—like the Supreme is the goal; we are slaves of wishes; which hold us back from reaching Him; God is our only hope! Once an abhyasi settles down to this regime of morning puja, evening cleaning and bedtime prayer, over a short period of time he can notice certain developments such as constant remembrance of god, devotion for Him and a total surrender of oneself before Him.Constant remembrance: The Master’s definition of constant remembrance is: “First, we forget to remember, Then we remember to remember, And, finally, we remember to forget.” The real significance of the custom is that we must remain in touch with the idea of God in all phases of our mental and physical activities. We must feel ourselves connected with the supreme power every moment with an unbroken chain of
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