Four Means and Six Virtues (Jnana Yoga / Vedanta)
FOUR MEANS AND SIX VIRTUES
Sadhana Chatshtaya / Shatsampat
Four Means of practice (sadhana chatushtaya), which include Six
Virtues (shatsampat), are cultivated on the path of Self-Realization
by the school of Vedanta or Jnana Yoga. These allow a clear, steady
foundation for the three stages of the practices of listening to the
teachings (sravana), reflecting on those teachings (manana), and deep
contemplative meditation on those principles (niddhidhyasana).
I. DISCRIMINATION (viveka): The first of the four means is that of
discrimination. It is the gradual unfolding of the ability to explore
and discern the difference between the real and the unreal (sat and
asat), the permanent and the temporary (nitya and anitya), self and
not-self (atman and anatman). Discrimination (viveka) is also a
foundation principle of the Yoga Sutras, and is included in Sutras
2.26-2.29, 3.53-3.56, 4.22-4.26, and 4.29.The forms of
misunderstanding (avidya) mentioned here have also been described in
Yoga Sutra 2.5.
II. NON-ATTACHMENT (vairagya): As a natural byproduct of
discrimination, there is an decrease in attraction to the objects of
the world and the inner desires for those worldly fruits. It is a
process of gently reducing the coloring of attractions and aversions
in the inner field of mind. This dispassion does not mean abandoning
ones responsibilities to other people or to fulfilling of ones duties
to society at large. One who has successfully cultivated non-
attachment is actually more effective in the world, as well as more
prepared for the subtleties of seeking Truth. Non-attachment is also
a major foundation of Yoga, and is described in Yoga Sutras 1.12-
III. SIX VIRTUES (shat sampat): Six virtues, areas of mental
training, and attitudes are cultivated so as to stabilize the mind
and emotions, allowing the deep practice of contemplative meditation
to be performed.
1) TRANQUILITY (shama): Intentional cultivating an inner attitude of
tranquility, peace of mind, or contentment is a foundation on which
the other practices can rest.
2) TRAINING (dama): Training of the senses (indriyas) means the
responsible use of the senses in positive, useful directions, both in
our actions in the world and the nature of inner thoughts we
3) WITHDRAWAL (uparati): With a proper inner attitude of tranquility,
and the training of the senses, there also comes a sense of satiety,
or natural sense of completeness, as if no more of the sensory
experience need be sought.
4) FORBEARANCE (titiksha): Forbearance and tolerance of external
situations allow one to be free from the onslaught of the sensory
stimuli and pressures from others to participate in actions, speech,
or thoughts that one knows to be going in a not-useful direction.
5) FAITH (shraddha): An intense sense of certainty about the
direction one is going keeps one going in the right direction,
persisting in following the teachings and practices that have been
examined and seen to be productive, useful, and fruit bearing.
6) FOCUS (samadhana): Resolute focus towards harmonizing and
balancing of mind, its thoughts, and emotions, along with the other
virtues, brings a freedom to pursue the depth of inner exploration
IV. LONGING (mumukshutva): An intense, passionate, longing or desire
for enlightenment and liberation from the levels of suffering that
comes from the repeated cycles of suffering and delusion. It is a
longing that is so strong that it gradually swallows up all of the
other, smaller desires.
THREE STAGES OF PRACTICE: Built on an increasingly solid foundation
from these Four Means and Six Virtues, one is ever more able to
follow the three stage practices of: 1) listening to the teachings
(sravana), 2) reflecting on those teachings (manana), and 3) deep
contemplative meditation on those principles (niddhidhyasana). For
contemplative meditation, one might deeply absorb and merge with the
wisdom of the great contemplations or mahavakyas, or reflect and
meditate on the deepest meanings of the OM Mantra.