What is Sahaj Marg
What is the system of yoga practiced in Sahaj Marg?
This is the ancient system of raja yoga -- yoga of the mind.
It is the king among yoga as it seeks to lead to self-realisation
through regulation, refinement and eventual divinisation of the
mind. The ancient system of raja yoga of Patanjali had eight steps.
They were: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana,
dhyana and samadhi. Only after perfecting the first
six stages (a moral and ethical life, right posture, breath control,
withdrawal of the senses from their outgoing tendencies and focussing
the mind within oneself), was the spiritual aspirant initiated
into meditation (dhyana) through which one was expected to go
into samadhi, the last stage of the yoga.
Our system has been modified and simplified to suit the lifestyles
of modern human beings, particularly the grihastha (householder).
Here an aspirant is inducted into meditation directly, bypassing
the preliminary stages mentioned above. Besides, the goal of sadhana
(practice) has also been extended far beyond samadhi as will be
Why is it called Sahaj Marg?
The system goes by the name of Sahaj Marg (the natural or the
simple way) because it 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. The Masters
(gurus) of our system have been grihasthas themselves and
they have taught us that people must live full and natural lives
(without any extremes) which can then carry them with the current
of Nature towards the ultimate goal of existence.
The Goal and the Guru
What is meant by the ultimate goal of existence?
Our Masters teach us that human existence, with all its attractions
as well as repulsions, is not an end in itself. When we were created
by God, we were very much like Him and with Him. But through the
process of evolution, we have developed a feeling of separate
identity commonly known as ego, forgotten our Divine home and
are pursuing lesser goals in this life.
Master says we have to set in motion the process of 'involution'
to become what we were at the time of creation as souls -- truly
Divine -- with only a nominal difference of identity between Him
as us. He teaches us that this is possible only if we withdraw
our outgoing tendencies, gather the mind in a single focus and
redirect it inwards to light our way towards the Divine which
resides in our hearts. He is the real Self in us and, therefore,
Self-realisation is God-realisation. This is made possible for
any sincere seeker through our system of meditation which is backed
by the spiritual power of the guide, the Master.
What is the need for a guru or Master? Can we not do spiritual
sadhana by ourselves and attain the goal?
Sahaj Marg believes in the need for a Master in human form.
For most human beings, it is not possible to attain the goal by
following what is written in books. One who is familiar with the
way and has attained the goal himself can guide others on this
difficult spiritual journey which is full of pitfalls of ego and
self-deception. Unless we leave our sense of ego and self-sufficiency
behind and learn to depend totally on the guide, attainment of
the goal will be next to impossible.
How does one find such a Master?
The founder of this Mission, Shri
Ram Chandraji, (also known as Babuji) has stated that earnest
prayer for such a guru will bring him to your door!
When I find him, how will I know that he is the one I should
Primarily by testing the system of sadhana that he asks you
to practice. If you find that it is effective in bringing about
speedy spiritual progress, you will naturally understand the level
of attainment and capacity of the man behind the system of sadhana.
In Sahaj Marg, a new entrant is advised to sincerely practice
sadhana for a minimum period of three months to be able to judge
its effectiveness. Master says our inner condition should grow
progressively lighter as we continue practicing the system.
The System and the Masters
How do I judge the efficacy of the Sahaj Marg system?
By the process of change that starts off within you from day one.
Lightness of mind and a state of inner composure is felt. Mental
tensions bid farewell. The mind gets purified and clarified. The
obstructions put up by your ego in the form of negative traits,
attitudes, attachments, aversions, pride and prejudice, anger, etc.,
get dissolved in the inner state created by regular sadhana. Combined
with the spiritual power of the Master, your heart is cleaned of
various impurities accumulated there as a result of past ego-based
thoughts and actions.
In due course, the animal tendencies become tamed and one embarks
on the journey towards divinisation.
What is the need for such sadhana when we already have our
religions, and scriptures?
The founder, Shri Ram Chandraji
of Shahjahanpur, has stated that God cannot be found within the fold
of any form, name, religion, place of worship, or scriptures, and that
He has to be found in the innermost chamber of the human heart. Religion
is like the nursery school where we get some basic idea of God, the
need for a moral life, modes of worshiping Him, etc.
Babuji said that spirituality begins where religion ends. Spirituality
transcends the names, forms and attributes of God which human
imagination has devised for Him through the centuries. The real
God, according to Sahaj Marg, is the subtlest -- beyond the reach
of our mind and senses, formless, nameless and attributeless --
but yet within the experience of the human being.
In spiritual sadhana, therefore, we seek to experience the Real
as It is. This we hope to achieve through a process which progressively
dilutes and dissolves one's attachments to one's consciousness.
So, when we become like That in our nature, we start experiencing
or feeling at one with That which is within us.
Basically, sadhana re-establishes the link between us and the
Divine Being within. This link brings the Divine nature and power
to bear on our ego/identity which gets erased gradually. The Divine
that is present in us starts manifesting in our thoughts and actions.
If I lose my own identity, how can I survive in a competitive
The process described above is called transformation in our
system. In the first stage, our animal-like tendencies are removed
and we become human beings without any abnormalities.
The advanced or ultimate stage is called Divinisation, when
the Divine Being within guides, informs and pervades all our thoughts
and actions and when we begin to float with the current of Nature
without offering any resistance, conscious or unconscious. While
still living in this human body, our physical and mental functions
are naturalized, put in perfect balance and are then in harmony
with Nature. The efficiency of our faculties is maximized and
we become more effective in our worldly life, precisely because
we have realised our spiritual existence and identity, which are
eternal. As the Eternal pervades the present existence, it illuminates
human life and makes it meaningful for ourselves and for others
who live around us.
Shri Ram Chandraji points out that the distinction between human
and Divine, material and spiritual, is artificial. If both are
balanced and integrated, our existence becomes unified and whole.
Therefore, Sahaj Marg teaches us not to run away from worldly
life or spurn the material side of human existence as irrelevant
to spiritual growth. If one neglects the material existence, the
spiritual existence is affected, and vice versa.
Who are the Teachers of the Sahaj Marg system?
The first guru was
Shri Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh, U.P. who lived from 1873
to 1931. He is fondly referred to as Lalaji.
He is the adi guru (first Master) of the system. He rediscovered
the ancient method of pranahuti --transmission of the spiritual
power of the guru into the heart of the aspirant to remove the
impurities therein and to accelerate one's spiritual progress.
He had a small band of disciples. He worked in the Collector's
Office in Fatehgarh and he had to support a family on a meager
income. In short, he lived a normal worldly existence.
Lalaji's most devoted disciple and spiritual successor was Shri
Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur, U.P. (affectionately called
Babuji) (1899-1983). His life was also full of worldly troubles
and noble sacrifice for fellow human beings. He perfected the
system of pranahuti, established Shri Ram Chandra Mission
in 1945, in memory of his Master, created a network of preceptors
(trainers),and toured widely in India and abroad. Due to his work,
the Mission experienced speedy growth in his lifetime. His Reality
at Dawn and other books on raja yoga and personal letters
to abhyasis (those who practice this system) reveal his deep and
wide-ranging research in the little-known area of spirituality.
The present spiritual teacher, Shri
Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari (born 1927 and affectionately
known as Chariji) lives in Madras. He was a close associate and
the chief disciple of Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur from 1964
till the latter's mahasamadhi* in 1983 at which time he
became the spiritual representative and President of the Mission.
He is a retired Executive Director of a private group of companies
in Tamil Nadu state. He was a very dynamic General Secretary of
the Mission and contributed greatly to the strengthening of the
organizational structure of the Mission and publication of the
Mission literature. He accompanied his Master on travels abroad
and ably assisted him in his spiritual work. His book, My Master
is a monumental tribute to his guru. His other books include diaries
of his overseas travels with Babuji, his spiritual autobiography
and several volumes of his talks in India and abroad interpreting,
amplifying and re-presenting his Master's teachings. His indefatigable
spiritual labours have resulted in remarkable growth and expansion
of the Mission's activities all over India, Europe, the U.S.A.
and many other countries.
*Mahasamadhi occurs at death and is the final mergence of a
liberated soul with the Ultimate Reality.
What is so special or unique about this system which sets
it apart from other systems?
The pranahuti method mentioned earlier is the most unique
aspect of this system. Prana is not to be confused with
breath. It is the Divine Energy or Essence which the guru is able
to focus by virtue of his spiritual attainments and pour into
the heart of the aspirant. It removes impurities and impressions
and transmits into an abhyasi spiritual growth-potential.
Cleaning and transmission employing the same Divine energy are,
therefore, the special aspects of this system. Master has also
authorized preceptors all over the world to do this work of cleaning
and transmission so that this spiritual service is accessible
to the largest number of people.
Any aspirant, therefore, has to take a minimum of three introductory
sittings from the Master or the preceptor who will carry out the
initial cleaning which makes meditation possible. Such sittings
are necessary even after one starts the daily practice because
there are innumerable layers of samskaras (impressions, impurities,
heaviness, complexities) in the heart.
The second unique aspect of this system is that it recognises
our worldly commitments and balances them with our spiritual sadhana.
We are not asked to renounce possessions but are helped to develop
non-attachments in our minds. The system demands minimum time
and exertion and is specifically designed for modern human beings,
and householders. Sahaj Marg emphatically asserts that a householder's
life is the best school for spiritual progress.
The third unique aspect is the extreme simplicity and naturalness
of the system and absence of rigid dogma, rituals and mechanical
Effect of Samskaras
What are samskaras?
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 which become the seeds of future thoughts 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 and have 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.
So, no system of sadhana which does not offer a solution to
the accumulation of samskaras in the form of innumerable
veils around the human soul can take us far. As of today, Sahaj
Marg has the backing of a living Master and his spiritual power
offers us an opportunity to cleanse ourselves of our samskaras
-- provided we are willing to get rid of them!
What about 'good' samskaras? Can we not retain them?
No doubt, 'good' samskaras, which are the results of meritorious
acts, may lead us to a better life at the human level. But they
do not help to release us from this earthly existence. According
to Babuji, good samskaras are like a golden cage, but a
cage nevertheless. Therefore, it is necessary to give up ideas
of good and bad, sin and virtue, heaven and hell which are all
human concepts, transcend such dualities or pairs of opposites
and re-establish our mind in the Divine. Such transcendence of
the mind opens the gateway to the transcendence in many ways.
Only spirituality can initiate the process of inner expansion
and eventual freedom from such finite existence, according to
The Aspirant and Abhyas
How does one qualify to become an abhyasi?
One should be at least 18 years old and be willing to practice
sadhana in our system, at least on a trial basis, for a continuous
period of three months under the supervision of one of the preceptors
of Shri Ram Chandra Mission.
How does a spiritual aspirant start meditation in this system?
The spiritual seeker who desires to start abhyas (practice)
has to take a minimum of three introductory sittings (meditation
sessions) from a preceptor over a period of two or three days,
consecutively. Each session will last about half-an-hour during
which the preceptor directs the Master's transmission to the abhyasi's
heart and cleans it of samskaras. This brings about mental
lightness and enables the abhyasi to meditate alone.
Abhyasis continue to get individual sittings from a preceptor
throughout their abhyas. This is because there is really no end
to the cleaning process, considering the innumerable layers of
samskaras we have accumulated. Therefore, repeated sessions
of cleaning during individual sittings and group sittings (satsangh)
done by Master or his preceptors create and progressively enlarge
the vacuum in the heart. This automatically opens the heart to
the entry of divine grace and the resultant experience is one
of expansion, subtlety and other manifestations of transformation.
Primary international centres are listed in Centres
Around the World. Contact them for information of Sahaj Marg
centre in your area.
What is the daily practice prescribed for an abhyasi?
The abhyas consists of three parts: Meditation in the morning;
Cleaning in the evening;
Prayer at bedtime.
Why should I meditate?
The word meditate means continuously paying attention or resting
the mind on one thought. The spiritual Masters say (and it is
proved in experience) that we become that on which we meditate.
In other words, we acquire the nature, quality or condition
of the object on which we meditate.
Therefore when we meditate on the subtlest, i.e., God, we shall
lose our grossness and gain His subtlety and thus become like
Him. Only then can mergence with Him which is the highest goal
of life, be possible. But this can be attained only through
sustained practice of daily meditation with single-minded devotion.
How do I get ready for my daily meditation?
The way to prepare oneself for meditation in the morning is
- Arise before sunrise.
- Brush your teeth and wash your face.
- Have a shower or bath if you feel unclean. (The idea is
that you start your meditation as early as possible without
spending time on routine activities like tea, newspaper reading,
physical exercise, etc.)
- Wear loose and comfortable clothes.
- Fix a time and particular place for daily meditation.
- Inform members of your family not to disturb you during
- Begin with half-an-hour of meditation. Increase the time
as you feel comfortable and bring it to one hour. If you open
your eyes ahead of time, you can close your eyes again and
continue with meditation.
- Sit comfortably, relaxed, but with your back and head erect.
You may sit on the floor, in a chair and with your back (but
not head) resting against a wall. If the head droops after
you start meditation (induced by loss of body consciousness)
you need not worry about it. Lying down is not permitted as
too much comfort can lull you to sleep!
- Please understand that meditation on the Divine in your
heart is puja (worship) and, therefore, start with a mental
prayer for spiritual elevation with your heart full of love
How do I meditate?
Close your eyes and start with the thought that Divine Light
is present in the heart. Afterwards, sit in a relaxed manner
in an attitude of looking inward. It is very simple.
Should I go on repeating the thought of Divine Light?
No. Master says that taking this thought once in the beginning
is enough. With that thought, the sub-conscious mind is linked
to the Divine in the heart during the entire period of meditation.
The conscious mind might go on generating thoughts, images,
etc., but we are advised not to pay attention to them, as this
is one way of getting rid of samskaras.
Note: Please understand that in this system there is
no work for the mind after starting the meditation -- no concentration
or repetition of any idea like a mantra. The earlier systems
have apparently employed such methods only to shut out or suppress
thoughts with the result that samskaras find no outlet
and they continue to create havoc from within.
How is it possible to meditate without the mind doing any
work (during meditation)?
Our Masters have said that thought is very potent. Therefore,
the mere suggestion at the beginning of Divine Light in the
heart is powerful enough to link your mind with the Divine.
It can be compared to switching on a light. The concentration
is on continuously and there is no need to keep on operating
Should I try to `see' the Divine Light during meditation?
No. Master says that the Divine is too subtle for sensory
perception. Even light has a materiality or heaviness and so
the Divine should not be visualised as sunlight, moonlight or
electric light. As the human mind cannot meditate on `nothingness'
we keep the Divine as an abstract idea and meditate on It thinking
that It is illuminating our consciousness from within.
Then, what do I do during meditation?
Our Master says that you do nothing, you are not active, you
are passive during meditation. Meditation, according to Master,
is a state of waiting for divine grace to enter into us. This
is the most natural way of meditation, because there is no activity
at the physical or mental level and we assume an attitude of
surrender (total passivity) to the Divine and await Him in our
Sahaj Marg teaches us that, on the spiritual path, there is
no room for two -- yourself and God. As long as you are conscious
of yourself by indulging in activity even in the name of meditation
and sadhana, He cannot be there. He is certainly with you when
you forget yourself and this is what is attained through Sahaj
Marg meditation where such a state of self-forgetfulness is
speedily brought about by the spiritual power (pranahuti)
What shall I do if my thoughts disturb me during meditation?
You should treat them as if they were someone else's thoughts
and thus create a distance between yourself and the thoughts
that come. Our Master advises us to treat them as uninvited
guests -- they will go away if you do not pay attention to them.
If you find yourself actively involved in thoughts, you are
advised to gently detach the mind and bring it back to the original
thought, namely, divine light in your heart. (But this should
not be done mechanically, turning it into a mantra!)
However, this is a transitory problem for the new abhyasi.
With regular daily meditation and periodic sittings with preceptors,
you will find that thoughts lose their heaviness and they cease
to disturb your feelings of inner repose and tranquillity.