Sri Sivabala Yogi (24 Jan 1935 – 28 Mar 1994), better known as Sri Swamiji among his devotees, taught the path of Silence, a composite of all spiritual disciplines, that could, in effect, lead an aspirant to practise any path suitable to his or her nature. The essence of his teaching is that liberation is attained by making the mind silent through the practice of meditation on the self (atman dhyana), a variant of the path of Silence.
Chapter one unfolds the central theme of the teachings, i.e., control of mind. It also contains answers to the basic questions like who is a competent guru, why the need for this work when a large number of scriptures already exist. It does not hurt the sentiments of any religion or scripture and pays respect to all saints and scriptures from all countries in equal measure.
This Chapter highlights various positive (love, devotion, discrimination, compassion, etc.) and negative (attachment, desire, doubt, fear, pride, greed, etc.) attributes that each individual mind has and how an individual can cultivate the positive ones to aid in control of mind. The overall state of an individual mind is determined by the level and type of attributes that it has. It specifies that aim of any spiritual practice is to control the mind and not to find God, which in essence is found on its own when the mind is destroyed.
This Chapter explains the metaphysical nature of the Reality, which is also called by many names like Brahman, God, and Truth. It describes the concept of how absolute Reality (nirguna or formless) by the use of invisible power called maya (principle of illusion or ignorance) appears as phenomenal world (saguna or with form). It conceptualizes the theory of karma (action done by the individual in the past and or present), atman (the higher self, which is covered by the five sheaths), and moksha (liberation by control of mind and ultimately destruction of the ‘I’ sense).
Chapter four "Control of Mind" elucidates how to achieve the control of mind through various paths and disciplines. Gist of various paths like the path of service, the path of worship, the path of yoga, the path of love and devotion, the path of knowledge, and the path of silence is given. How to carry practice on each path as well as pitfalls are explained. Throughout the chapter, it is emphasized that mind is a disease as well as its cure, highlighting the role of discriminative intelligence and will power. The stages in the control of mind are self-discipline, self-purification, self-abidance, self-subsidence (manolaya), and destruction (manonash). Importance on any of the above spiritual paths is described as persistence through practice of the teachings and not merely reading the book.
This Chapter paints a biographical sketch of Sri Sivabala Yogi, who at a tender age of 14 years had attained self-realization following initiation by Sri Shankar Bhagwan or God himself. He sat in tapas which is the highest form of any spiritual discipline, carried out only by divine incarnations after self-realization. He was in continuous samadhi (transcendental and super-sensuous state) for 23 hours a day for the first 8 years and then 12 hours a day for next 4 years. This chapter elucidates the intolerable levels of hardship that Sri Sivabala Yogi faced during those 12 years and thereafter. He thus gained tapas power, which he imparts upon initiation to his devotees to help control their minds.
About the Book
Modern life is very competitive and stressful; only a thoughtful few want to rid themselves of constant worries and find a way to live a life of real happiness. Teachings of Sri Sivabala Yogi contained in Laghu Guru Upanishad are especially relevant for such people. There are many grades of aspirants; some just want to lead a peaceful life, some want a lower type of salvation and a few blessed ones who desire total freedom by realising their true natures. Ultimate liberation is attained only if one knows the absolute Self (or Reality or God). No matter what one's goal is, the Guru's teaching given in Laghu Guru Upanishad, if practised sincerely, offers hope to everyone to attain one's desired end.
The book is set out in question and answer format. The questions, asked by Gurprasad, have been framed from an aspirant's point of view. Questions and doubts like these arise in the minds of all those who want to follow a spiritual path. The Guru has given answers that are suitable for ease of understanding by beginners as well as more advanced aspirants. In doing so, the Guru has adopted a rational approach suited to the modern generation and covers all well-known paths to realise the Truth.
Sri Sivabala Yogi's basic teaching deals with control of mind and it does not advocate any religious beliefs. Mind is the cause of one's suffering and unhappiness and it also has the power to get rid of them.
Bookish knowledge is of no avail unless it is practised. Every reader of this book can attain his or her desired spiritual object, provided its teaching is put into effect through earnest effort.
Gurprasad is a veteran of the Indian Army. He had spiritual leanings from his young days. Though he read many books on the teachings of many saints and sages, his quest for divine knowledge fructified only when he was initiated in the discipline of meditation by Sri Sivabala Yogi in April 1977. The Guru then, over a period of a few years, revealed to him, the divine knowledge given in Laghu Guru Upanishad.
Review by Christopher Quikey Editor of Mountain Path
Laghu Guru Upanishad - Spiritual Teachings of Sri Sivabala Yogi
Publishers – Partridge India
ISBN Softcover – 978-1-4828-6997-2
eBook – 978-1-4828-6996-5
We published an article in the previous issue of the magazine on the life of Sri Sivabala Yogi(1935-1994). His teachings are fully revealed in a considerable book yet to be published Guru Upanishad, but in the meantime the questioner and compiler, Gurprasad has given us the consent of the guru, a Laghu(smaller or condensed) Guru Upanishad, Even so this is a major book dense with spiritual knowledge. One realises quite quickly after a short perusal of this book that Sivabala Yogi is no ordinary person. His vast knowledge of yoga practices which are the means to obtain advanced states of consciousness, and his comprehensive understanding of the metaphysical nature of reality are self-evident. Throughout the book is the constant refrain about the importance of the practice of dhyana and control of mind if one is to understand the higher teachings. The tone is one of common sense and practicality.
Sri Sivabala Yogi gives detailed instructions on the path of seva, love and devotion, knowledge, silence, powers, samadhi, realisation and tapas. Many readers who have years of meditation practice will be familiar with broad sweep of most of the teachings given here with their characteristic common sense but what is different here is the comprehensive nature of the explanations given in a reasonable, matter of fact and logical way. We are in the presence of a master.
“Every seeker begins his quest from duality (i.e. a jiva’s current state of ignorance) and passes through qualified monism (in which an aspirant experiences his or her subjectivity, i.e. destruction of the ‘I’ sense or mind or ignorance). In other words, duality is experienced in the stages of manolaya (subsidence of mind), qualified monism in lower samadhi and non-dualism in the highest samadhi”
Part Five of the present book under review is an extensive extract about the life of Sri Sivabala Yogi followed by a detailed questioning of him about his life and teachings he directly imparts.
The book can be ordered on amazon.in
The Mountain Path
By Amar Singh a Devotee from Kota
LAGHU GURU UPANISHAD
The Spiritual Teachings of Sri Sivabalayogi
Partridge India. Rs 550. 307pp. ISBN: Softcover 978-1-4828-6997-2. eBook 978-1-4828-6996-5.
Most people find present day life stressful and there is a feeling of inadequacy in their quest for sustained happiness. Some have spiritual inclination but do not know how to proceed beyond reading holy books, visiting places of pilgrimage and indulgence in ritual forms of worship. Laghu Guru Upanishad (LGU) offers hope for all, as it is a guide and virtual textbook for anyone wanting to pursue a spiritual quest and seek contentment, peace of mind and eternal happiness, provided he or she is prepared to make the right effort.
Sri Sivabala Yogi, (Swamiji, as he was known to his devotees) has made accessible divine knowledge to all struggling souls who wish to understand the essentials of a spiritual inquiry and start practice. The knowledge given in LGU has been revealed in bhava samadhi to the author, Gurprasad. It is indeed a rare phenomenon in this kaliyuga (dark age). Very few can comprehend how this vast knowledge could be acquired without any physical speech or written communication! Gurprasad with his own insight on the subject has questioned Swamiji in a very systematic manner. The text is laid out in questions and answers for ease of assimilation, particularly for those not very familiar with the subject. The central theme of Swamiji's teaching is the control of individual mind, yet in a wide sweep all aspects of spirituality have been covered.
The initial chapter contains instructions of a general nature. Tradition of guru-disciple relationship is the bedrock of the Indian method of spiritual teaching. All aspects of this bond have been discussed. Swamiji emphasis on the absolute necessity of a competent guru, one who is compassionate to teach and has earned the divine power to remove the last vestige of ignorance from an aspirant's mind. How to find a suitable guru? Swamiji's advice is that anyone even remotely concerned with name, fame and wealth must be avoided. Self-effort is the key to success. Issues pertaining to method of practice including place, posture, timing, diet, sleep, etc. are all covered. Besides regular practice, effort must be made to control the mind by inculcating divine qualities of love, devotion, discrimination, detachment, faith and humility; undesirable traits of attachment, desire, pride, anger and greed must be curtailed. It is a slow process and constant effort is needed.
The next two chapters detail the ultimate goal of practice which is to control the mind and not to find Reality which is attained on its own if success is achieved in the former. The nature of Reality is discussed. Although, It cannot be described in words, yet guru's instruction indicates what It is not. Maya (ignorance) and its effect have been elaborated. A broad knowledge of the genesis of creation has been explained. Divine play (leela) and an individual's place in the divine scheme of things is highlighted. The functioning of the individual mind and its control has been dealt in great detail. What is mind? How does it function? What is implied by control of mind? How is it disciplined and purified? Why is it so difficult? What is the role of effort and guru's grace? All this and much more has been meticulously answered. Role of intelligence and will power in controlling the mind have been highlighted. Method for a beginner to go about a spiritual quest has been laid out. The primary methods to control the mind or the paths that lead to it have been covered. Traditionally these are the Paths of Service, Love and Devotion, Yoga, Knowledge and Silence.
The final chapter is about the life and mission of Sri Sivabalayogi. The account of his tapas (highest form of yoga that can be practised only by a divine incarnation) is awesome. Swamiji has been gracious to reveal the details of this unique spiritual feat which is most uncommon. The tapas was a stupendous event that in twelve years transformed an uneducated village boy into a yogi of the highest order. In essence, the tapas was undertaken to acquire spiritual power to grant salvation to his devotees.
The trinity of gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) has been charged by divine will to create the sensual phenomenon and perpetuate it in a cycle of sustenance and dissolution followed by recreation in the matrix of time (kal). The tapas was to control these forces in the cosmic mind for large number of his devotees who may seek Realisation. He took upon himself immense suffering to absolve his devotees of the harmful effects of their karma. The tapas has serious lessons for all aspirants. Important ones are to practice with determination, desirelessness and in a spirit of self-surrender.
Being a devotee of Sri Sivabalayogi and having known the author, one has been seriously practicing the teachings given in LGU for some years. The knowledge revealed by Sri Sivabalayogi is no doubt a key to the treasure-trove of liberation but sincere practice is a MUST. One's own experience of contentment, detachment and a underlying feeling of peace are more than convincing of the veracity of the teachings and most of all, Swamiji's Grace that takes one forward.
Blessed are those who read and practice the wisdom given in this Upanishad.
Kota ( Rajasthan)ve you opened a new location, redesigned your shop, or added a new product or service? Don't keep it to yourself, let folks know.
Control of mind is the central theme of the Guru’s teaching. The cause of human suffering lies in the mind; so does it is removal. Mind cannot be controlled through blind adherence to religious dogma. The only way to do it is to apply one’s intelligence in making proper self effort to earn divine grace. Scriptural knowledge and religious practices are only a means to that end. This work is devoted to the study of mind and the way to control it.
It is in three parts; part one contains preliminary instruction dealing with subjects of a general nature that have a bearing on a spiritual quest. Part two deals with theoretical aspects of the nature of Reality and non-reality from different viewpoints, culminating in a holistic overview to establish that none of them is antagonistic to each other. It sets out the proposition that is to be proved through spiritual experience only. The third part discusses various methods used to control the mind to attain Self-Realisation, i.e. the experience mentioned above.
Sri Sivabala Yogi was a great saint of modern India. The readership of a few books published on his life and teachings has not extended beyond his educated devotees. Sages of Sri Sivabala Yogi’s stature ought to be known to a much wider audience across the world; not that they seek fame or money (unlike the god men and god women who thrive on them these days) but to acquaint aspiring souls with the divine word revealed by them. It is only divine knowledge that, if put into practise sincerely and diligently, leads to removal of worries and stresses caused by competitive living which is a marked feature of modern life. The more discriminative aspirants amongst them seek a much higher goal, i.e., complete freedom from ignorance to attain Self-Realisation. Sri Sivabala Yogi’s life story, specifically the severe tapas that he undertook, has many lessons for serious aspirants (sadhakas). Similarly, his teachings practiced faithfully offer hope to anyone to achieve one’s desired end; that could be a lower aim of living a peaceful and a happy life sans worries or strive for the highest state of knowing the Reality.
What does the control of mind imply?
“The palpable form of the mind is the incessant flow of thoughts that all jivas are aware of. To control the mind means to stop their eruption. The origin of the individual mind lies in the feeling of ‘I’ that every jiva entertains (e.g. ‘I am Rama’). The ‘I’ exists as the primordial and basic thought on which are imposed countless other thoughts. The ‘I’ thought exists as a vibration in the consciousness and samaskaras (mental impressions) are created when it impels the mind into activity to gratify its desires.”
What is meditation (dhyana) and how is it done?
A prolonged act of concentration is known as meditation. The former’s inceptive stage may last a few seconds whereas the latter progresses from beginning to middle and advanced states from roughly one hour to three or four hours and ten or twelve and above hours respectively. Meditation requiresan object to concentrate on. It is a complete discipline in itself; for, not does it only purify the mind, it puts it through all the steps required to control it, i.e., discipline, abidance, subsidence and destruction. In meditation, an aspirant brings the mind back to its object of concentration every time it is waylaid by a new thought. This repeated act of keeping the mind focused on an object forms the crux of meditation for a beginner. Meditation must be done intelligently (that is done by using the power of discrimination to keep the mind concentrated on the chosen object) despite the flow of thoughts. The latter keep erupting even in advanced stages of practice. One must persevere despite all odds using one’s will power. Gradually, thought lose their intensity and mind begins to introvert (to its source i.e. I sense) as it gets purified.