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Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) - by Swami Sivananda

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    PRATYAHARA By Swami Sivananda The Yogic student should practise Pratyahara after getting some success in the practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama.
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 24, 2006
      By Swami Sivananda

      The Yogic student should practise Pratyahara after getting some
      success in the practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama. Pratyahara
      is abstraction or withdrawal of the senses from their objects. The
      senses are held in check by this practice. Real inner life begins
      when the aspirant is established in this practice.

      That Yogic student who jumps at once to the practice of meditation
      without practising abstraction is a deluded soul. He will have no
      success in contemplation. Pratyahara checks the outgoing tendencies
      of the senses. It puts a break, as it were, on the senses.

      Pratyahara follows automatically the practice of Pranayama. When the
      life-force is controlled by the regulation or restraint of breath,
      the senses become thinned out. They are starved to death. They get
      emaciated. They cannot hiss now when they come in contact with the
      objects. Pratyahara is a trying discipline. It is disgusting in the
      beginning but later on it becomes very interesting. You will feel
      immense inner strength. It demands considerable patience and
      perseverance. It will give you tremendous power. You will develop
      immense will-power.

      During the course of practice, the senses will run again and again
      like a wild bull towards objects. You will have to withdraw them
      again and again and fix the mind on the Lakshaya or point. That Yogi
      who is well established in the practice of Pratyahara can meditate
      quite calmly even in the battlefield when countless machine-guns are

      In the practice of Pratyahara you will have to drag the outgoing
      senses again and again from the sensual objects and fix the mind on
      your Lakshya or point, just as the cart-driver drags the impetuous
      bulls and fixes them to the yoke. You must take particular care to
      drag the senses gently. Some aspirants draw them vehemently. That is
      the reason why they experience a little headache sometimes.

      You should practise withdrawal of the senses one by one. dealing with
      the most turbulent senses in order. If you try to manipulate all the
      senses at one time, you will fail.

      Mind is the commander-in-chief. The senses are the soldiers. The
      senses cannot do anything without the co-operation of the mind. If
      you can disconnect the mind from the senses, there will be
      abstraction of the senses automatically.

      If one has intense Vairagya, practice of Pratyahara will be easy.
      Dispassion is the enemy of the senses. Some Yogic students practise
      Pratyahara for 2 or 3 years and yet do not attain success, the simple
      reason being that they have not yet fully annihilated the cravings
      and lurking desires. They get themselves attached to some sensual
      objects. Discrimination helps a great deal in attaining success in

      A Bhakta or a devotee does not practise Pratyahara. He tries to get
      himself drowned in the Prem of the Lord. He attempts to fix his mind
      either at His lotus feet or charming face. Consequently he gets
      established in Pratyahara. A Raja Yogi practises Pratyahara
      deliberately. A Jnana Yogi does not practise Pratyahara but tries to
      identify himself with the hidden Self in all objects by negating the
      names and forms.
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