Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) - by Swami Sivananda
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
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.