Sadhana and The Five Duties

April 19, 2013 Comments Off on Sadhana and The Five Duties

When we study and practice our religion, we are not necessarily performing deep sadhana. We are simply dispatching our religious duties. These duties are concisely outlined in the pancha nitya karmas, the five minimal religious obligations of Hindus. The first duty is dharma, proper conduct, living one’s life according to the teachings of the Tirukural and atoning for misconduct. The second duty is upasana, worship, performing a personal vigil each day, preferably before dawn, including a puja, followed by the performance of japa, scriptural study, and meditation. The third duty is utsava, holy days, observing each Friday (or Monday) as a holy day, as well as the major festival days through the year. On the weekly holy day, one cleans and decorates the home altar, attends the nearby temple and observes a fast. The fourth duty of all Hindus is tirthayatra, pilgrimage. At least once each year, a pilgrimage is made to a Hindu temple away from one’s local area. Fifth is samskaras, the observance of traditional rites of passage, including namakarana, name-giving; vivaha, marriage; and antyesti, funeral rites.

Another vital aspect of Hindu duty is service. The Vedas remind us, “When a man is born, whoever he may be, there is born simultaneously a debt to the Gods, to the sages, to the ancestors and to men” (Shukla Yajur Veda, SB ve, p. 393). Service to the community, includes helping the poor, caring for the aged, supporting religious institutions, building schools and upholding the lofty principle of ahimsa in raising one’s children. Hinduism is a general and free-flowing, relaxed religion, experienced in the temple, in the ashramas, the aadheenams, at festivals, on pilgrimage and in the home.

The performance of personal sadhana, discipline for self-transformation, is one step deeper in making religion real in one’s life. Through sadhana we learn to control the energies of the body and nerve system, and we experience that through the control of the breath the mind becomes peaceful. Sadhana is practiced in the home, in the forest, by a flowing river, under a favorite tree, in the temple, in gurukulas or wherever a pure, serene atmosphere can be found. A vrata, vow, is often taken before serious sadhana is begun. The vrata is a personal pledge between oneself, one’s guru and the angelic beings of the inner worlds to perform the disciplines regularly, conscientiously, at the same time each day.- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, from: Living with siva


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