Saśt́auṋga Prańáma

Saśt́auṋga Prańáma



Shrii Shrii Anandamurtii


We were discussing ekendriya, the third stage of spiritual practice. Sádhakas reach this stage having advanced step by step along the spiritual path.

Let us discuss the nature of the indriyas. In Saḿskrta “indra” means “greatest”, and thus according to mythology Indra is the king of the Gods. Sal trees are called “indra brkśa” due to their huge size.

The human body is composed of eight main parts and is thus called aśt́auṋga. Prostration is called saśt́auṋga prańáma.

Some teachers of ayurveda include the navel area and the back in the list of the body’s main constituent parts, but this is not totally appropriate.

Of the five sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin), one, the skin, can be omitted,


of the five motor organs (vocal cord, hands, legs, excretory and genital organ), one, the vocal cord can be omitted.

This leaves the eight constituent parts. And the prostration made with these eight body-parts is called saśt́auṋga pranama.

Now the question is why have these eight indriyas been selected and the chest, back and navel area omitted? The reason is that without the help of the indriyas one’s inherent characteristics cannot be manifested. They also play a dominant role in giving expression to one’s physical characteristics. For example, when you see or hear something you may become happy or angry. The changes in mood (one’s excitement or tranquillity) in the psychic sphere are due to the activity of the indriyas. The indriyas are the centres of activity, the main gateways of the physical world.

Now you may ask, what is mind? The mind is neither something physical nor something purely spiritual. That which is directly related to the quinquelemental world and simultaneously related to the psychic world is called “indriya”. Take the indriya of sight. The gateway of this indriya is the eyes themselves, but it is the optical nerve which connects it with the psychic world. Judged in this light the indriyas are superior to the physical body since they are connected with the psychic world.

The mind does not have any physical or psychic gateway. What we call the eye is not the real eye, but is merely the gateway of the eye organ. The optical nerve which is connected to the psychic world is the actual eye. So what is the mind? The mind is not perceived from outside since it has no physical or psychic gateway, but at the same time it is connected to the indriyas. That’s why after proper deliberation, the experienced philosophers of the past recognized mind as a special indriya, [the eleventh indriya. The difference between this eleventh indriya] and the other ten is that it has no external gateway as the eyes have. Because of this subtle difference the mind is recognized as a subtler indriya and Because of its subtler power it exercisesa far greater influence on the human body than the ten indriyas. These ten indriyas always convey information to the mind. The mind on receiving the information creates reactions to it in the physical body, and in the process gets reacted to itself.

If you want to get good service from the mind, you must keep it in a state of tranquillity. For this you must send information through the ten indriyas and the eight limbs which will maintain the equipoise and equilibrium of the mind. Suppose someone is seated at dining table. If you were to break the news of a relative’s death at that time it would definitely destroy his composure, and he will leave the table, having lost all appetite. Even those of you who practice sádhaná say, “I’m feeling a little troubled today, I won’t eat anything.” If you feel disturbed mentally why shouldn’t you eat physically? After all, it is the body which eats. The reason is that the mind exerts a tremendous influence over the body.

Those who wish to elevate the mind, should knowingly bring the indriyas within the contact of someone whose inspiration will cause only positive information to be sent to the mind. The influence of positive inferences will have such a beneficial effect that the ectoplasmic stuff will be powdered down and converted into cognitive faculty.

31 May 1981, Calcutta
The most valuable treasures on the path of human progress are honesty, simplicity and spiritedness. In no stratum of life should you allow the standard of honesty to deteriorate. In no situation, except during the struggle for Dharma, should you indulge in diplomacy or duplicity. In other words you must keep yourself straight in all other strata just as in Sastáuṋga Prańáma, and remain vigilant that the fire of your spiritedness is under no circumstances buried beneath a heap of ashes.

None of these three – honesty, simplicity or spiritedness – are found in dogma, hence you should strictly avoid dogma.

Ánanda Púrńimá 1980


Methods of Salutation

1956, Jamalpur

There are three methods of salutation: (1) sáśt́áuṋga prańáma [prostration], (2) carańa sparsha prańáma [bowing and touching the feet] and (3) namaskára [salutation].

Sáśt́áuṋga prańáma: Sáśt́áuṋga prańáma is a symbol of simplicity. It is to be done only to Márga Guru. It signifies surrender to the ideology. Women can do salutation by touching the ground with the forehead instead of full prostration.

Carańa sparsha prańáma: Carańa sparsha prańáma means to touch the feet of a revered person with one’s hands and then to touch one’s forehead with those same hands. This prańáma should be done only to those who command high regard from the worldly or spiritual viewpoint. As far as possible, do not do carańa sparsha prańáma except to persons such as these. Never do carańa sparsha prańáma to people whom you do not regard, whoever they may be.

Namaskára: Namaskára is done by bringing the palms together and touching the ájiṋá cakra [the mid-point of the eyebrows] with the thumbs, without bowing. It can be done to all regardless of their age, because this mode of salutation is used with the ideation that everyone is the manifestation of the Supreme Being.

Do not shake hands with anyone, because it is unhygienic, and do not do kurnish [a kind of court salute signifying submission to one’s authority] to anyone, as you are not anyone’s slave. Kurnish is a symbol of slavery, so as a form of salutation it is strictly forbidden.

1956, Jamalpur

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