Swami Satyananda Saraswati

  1. Tratak on external objects.
  2. Tratak on internal psychic points.
  3. Tratak on Shunya.
  4. Tratak continuous.

Tratak is a part of Hatha Yoga and if is also a part of Raja Yoga. When you practice Tratak until the tears roll down, it is a part of Hatha Yoga, but when you practice Tratak in a different way all together, which I am going to explain, then it is Raja Yoga.

The term Tratak means: intense gazing, looking at an object intensely.

Tratak is not simple to look, but to intensely look at some object. Nothing need be said about Tratak, because it is one of those practices which have been known for centuries and centuries. The Hypnotics, the Magicians, the black-magicians used vision. In Sanskrit it is known as Drishti Sadhana. Drishti means inner vision, Sadhana means to make it steady. Inner eye is to be made steady and for this you have to have a psychic point, and unless you have developed an intensive point, you cannot do it. That internal psychic point may be a star, brilliant. With no imagination you must see it.

The next one is: Tratak on Shunya. Shunya means void, formless state. Not Chidakasha. In Shunya there is an object of awareness. This is to be done with open eves. You look at nothing. It takes a little time, maybe ten minutes, half an hour, one hour. There comes a state that when your eyes are open, you are unable to see anything, because the consciousness, the mind has become introverted. It is known as Shunya Dhristhi. It is not so difficult, it is natural. After some time the eyes become dim, they are half open.

The fourth is: Tratak continuous. Tratak continuous is looking at any point without blinking the eyes for hours together. Something like Ramana Maharshi did. I could see that for ten, eleven, twelve hours, he would never wink the eyes.

I am also giving you an idea for Tratak. I am not asking you to practice Tratak from tomorrow morning. This is all about Tratak and its varieties.

There are of course, some branches, in which they say look at a space four fingers ahead and all that. But this all comes in Mudras, and I hope you remember, that we have already dealt with this question.

Any external object that is steady in nature, does not flicker, is not very or glaringly bright and does not have destructive rays, or is transparent or has got dimensions, is the proper object for Tratak. To quote: flame of a candle, when it does not flicker; a black dot on a paper, if is so so big from a distance, if it is smaller, then closer.

It all differs from individual to individual. Or on a crystal stone, or the rising Sun, or any idol having dimensions, such as Murtis, or symbols such as cross, a swastic, crescent moon, the lotus of the heart, etc.

But when you choose one, you must stick to it. And before you choose, you must find out whether that will help you, because in certain cases, it will not. For example Tratak on the rising Sun is harmful, and it is to be done in a different way altogether.

Taking the crystal as an object for Tratak, how do we do it? In a room, where it is neither too dark, nor too light, in dim light, on a table we spread a black cloth, over the cloth place a single coloured or colourless platform and on that the crystal. And we look into the crystal, not at the crystal, into the crystal, into its heart. The consciousness and the sight are to penetrate the heart of the crystal and in the centre of the crystal we have to look without winking the eyes, without causing any strain to the eyesight. Muscles should remain absolutely relaxed. The eyelids should not flicker. If you are a beginner you should not practice with such a great strain. When I ask you not to wink, I only mean, that you must practice Tratak to such an extent that no winking should become quite normal and quite easy with you. If you want to look into a crystal for about ten minutes it should not strain your eyes. But when you are looking to the crystal you look at nothing.

Tratak on external object and Tratak on Shunya are combined. You look at, you meditate on, an object for some time, everything becomes black. And the visions come while your eyes are open.

I am only dealing with crystal gazing and so far as the spiritual science of Meditation is concerned. I am complete taking out the procedure of developing the telepathic method through crystal.

Then, how to practice Tratak on a candle light? You should have a steady stand and on that the candle is to be placed. Place it in a room where the breeze is not blowing and where it is absolutely calm and quiet. When the flame becomes steady, you should look into the flame without winking. Do not look into the whole flame, but into the centre part of the flame, as long as possible, but without winking and without any strain. Tears should not roll down. No strain at all. Then close your eyes. The moment you close your eyes, look within, practice Tratak on internal psychic point. Here a combination with Tratak on external objects and Tratak on internal psychic point is made. Close your eyes and look somewhere here in Chidakasha and you will find a small, tiny, luminous, coloured dot manifesting. Look at the dot. It is something like a small piece of wheat, paddy, barley. Something of the same colour and shape, but the colour changes from moment to moment. It depends on how long you have done the gaze. When you have done it for five minutes it will be bright red. But when you have looked at the candle light for one minute, it will be just something in the psychic consciousness, and recollect that psychic point and in a few seconds the same thing will reappear. And when it reappears it will have a different colour altogether. You keep looking at it with the help of your inner vision, eyes, inner sense, sense of perception. It will again grow dim, fainter, fainter and still fainter and it will disappear. Still do not open your eyes, but assemble your consciousness again, recollect that particular point and see it comes once again before your vision. And thus this psychic point appears, disappears, reappears, disappears, again reappears, becomes dim, disappears, reappears, again goes dimmer and dimmer. Ultimately what happens? It becomes absolutely black and becomes one with the psychic background. This will practically take you five minutes as a beginner, but after good practice in Tratak one single round (this is called one round) will take half an hour. Three minutes gaze and twenty seven minutes visualisation of the psychic point within appearing, disappearing, appearing, disappearing. This is one point.

Those who will practice this will find another phenomena. That is: the moment you close your eyes, the psychic dot appearing in Chidakasha will go upward. And when it goes upward many aspirants will find it absolutely disturbing, because after a certain time they do not know where to look to. They cannot look up further, and the psychic dot goes up and up. Those who have practiced Shambhavi Mudra, they are able to steady that psychic point in Bindu Chakra. That Bindu goes upward and tries to become one with this Chakra. Then what is to be done? There is some way out.

Personally I feel that for beginners it should be like this: when they look at the candle flame for sometime and close their eyes seeing the psychic dot moving upwards, they must follow it. When they cannot follow it any more they should lower their vision again and discover the point again. When they have discovered it, again moves upwards, again it will disappear and again they have to discover the point, until the point merges into the dark background. When in spite of your best efforts, you are unable to locate it anymore, you are unable to discover it, open your eyes and do another round of Tratak.

So far as spiritual practice is concerned and for the sake of concentration and manifestation of the inner vision, one should close his eyes much before the strain takes place as the tears roll down. A practitioner must be able to judge himself in such a way that if he closes his eyes, the eyes will not burn, the tears will not roll down. I have personally felt sometimes when I looked at the point and everything was alright, the moment I close my eyes, tears will roll down. So it is up to the individual to decide. If you are able to practice for three minutes, practice it only for two minutes. But much depends upon so many things.

Practice of Tratak underneath a fan is simply impossible because the flame will flicker. In that case you have to depend on this black dot. Under a fan or in the wind you will experience a looking effect and the tears come down. I hope when you practice it you will understand what I mean.

Do eleven rounds. It is said that eleven rounds of Tratak make one Dharana, which means mental conception becoming clear. When you think of a cow and you see a cow in your mind, it is called Dharana. When you are only thinking of it and not seeing it, then it is called Kalpana (imagination), a lower state of kalpana. Dharana is a higher state of Kalpana. Dharana is imagination and clear cut conception.

It is sure that that after eleven rounds the candle is staying in front of you, you are going to see every detail of the candle, the colour, you can see that the candle is melting and dripping down. That should be the intensity of your psychic conception. When this state has arrived, meditation begins. Unless the object of meditation actually becomes clear, within the field of vision, there in no hope for anyone to get into meditation and much less hope to get into Samadhi.

How to practice Tratak on a Black Dot? It differs from individual to individual. If he is unable to see at a distance, then he should have a bigger dot. But when he cannot look at bigger things at a distance, be must have a little dot. The only purpose is not to strain the eyes. According to the eyesight the aspirant himself has to decide. For instance; the distance should be from 1½ to 2 feet. But when you see two dots, the distance is wrong, either too much or too less. But always the distance should be between 1½ and 2 feet. And what are we going to do? We change the size of the dot. One should use either a smaller or a bigger dot.

The same thing can be said about the photographs, such as that of Christ, your Guru or Lord Shiva or Aum or anything that is printed. This is to avoid affection of the retinas during three or four minutes of gazing. The law of this optic nerve is that when you look at a particular object for a long time, which is at an inadequate distance, the objects seem to be double. Detachment of the retinas for the time being takes place. Once the retinas get used to detach, it will become a major defect of the eyes, of the retinas. This is the most important thing. You may look at the object for ten minutes, fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, you are causing only strain to your eyes, at the most you loose your eyesight (by a few points). That is not very dangerous. But the most dangerous is when you look and see two objects. It means your retina is getting detached, and this is major optic defect. Experts will find it difficult to mend it properly.

Look at proper placed object of proper size, then close your eyes. You will find a shadow, with the same outline as if it is a human figure, a human shadow; if it is a cross, a cross-like shadow; if it is Aum, an Aum-like shadow; if it is a crescent moon, a crescent moon-like shadow. And this shadow should be made constant in the same manner as already taught in the item of Tratak on candle light. The effect of the retina now is different because here you do not see a luminous object.

Also here there is a combination of Tratak on external objects and of Tratak on internal psychic points. You look at the shadow of Aum, may be it is a black, bluish, greyish or anything. It will disappear, reappear, disappear, etc. but you remember of course Aum: you do not see it, then start again. Do such eleven rounds, it makes one dharana.

Tratak on an object which has dimensions, such as an idol or a living man. An idol may have a grey colour but the living man may have a brown colour. Whenever you practice Tratak on a living man, or on an object or idol which has dimensions, the first important thing during the practice of Tratak is not only to look at the object (as you did on the candle) but you have to become aware of the three dimensions particularly. Not only the awareness of the object, but also the awareness of the presence of dimensions. When you do tratak on a picture of a clock you just have to see 1, 2, 3,......12, then close your eyes. You just see something like a shadow. But when you are practicing Tratak on an actual clock do not have to see merely 1, 2, 3,...12, you will also have to be aware of the dimensions so that you are able to train your psyche in visualising any object with all dimensions.

Now, the objects outside have dimensions. There are people who do not see the dimensions in their dreams, but there are also people who see dreams and visions as clearly as the reality. It is because their psyche is specially developed. And similarly there are two types of Dharanas.

  1. Dharana on an object without dimension.
  2. Dharana on an object with dimensions.

With this second Dharana, Dhyana begins, because there is difference between Dhyana and actual life. If I see you in Dhyana, you are as true to me as you are to me now. And it will not be possible for me that you are not there, because of particular awareness of dimensions and those dimensions are so vivid.

We did not talk about the dimensions when we talked about Tratak on photographs, nor did we do so with the item of crystal gazing. But in this case when you close your eyes and the psychic counterpart appears into your consciousness you should become especially aware of the dimensions the object has. And if it has no dimensions you must create it. And they say, when you practice eleven rounds of Tratak on an object with dimensions it makes one Dhyana. When Dharana becomes steady in the case of Tratak on candle light it can become Dhyana also. Then the candle flame will appear with dimensions to anyone.

Now coming to the point of time. In Tratak on external objects you must be careful that you are not overdoing it. Tears should not roll down, no strain to the eyes should be there at any cost. I think increase it gradually, from half a minute to three minutes. This makes a very good Tratak. But those who think that they have to look at the object for ten minutes, well, I am sure after ten minutes they are practicing Tratak, without seeing anything (the third stage, Tratak on Shunya). You are not going from Tratak on external objects to Tratak on internal psychic points, but you are in Tratak on Shunya. When you practice Tratak on external objects for more than three minutes, say seven to eight minutes, your eyes become blank.

When you are practicing Trataka into a crystal you should look into the crystal as long as possible without winking your eyes. But the moment the eyes get tired close them and take rest. You do not have to think of the crystal when eyes are closed, you see nothing. There is a special rule for the crystal gazing though, no tears should fall down, and your eyes should not be strained, gazing for about ten minutes are allowed.

When should you practice Tratak? Crystal gazing in dim light. Gazing at a dot in bright light. Gazing at a candle at any time. I have an opinion about Tratak on rising Sun. It is quite good for many people but at the same time those who practice Tratak on the rising Sun without proper guidance may develop cataract at a later stage. That has been found by many thinkers on this science.

There is one more thing. This is called the psychic eye. From the point of view of spiritual meditation these systems of Tratak which just have been enumerated will do, but for psychic purposes, under instructions one can do Tratak on the psychic eye or one psychic being.

When I was a boy, I used to correspond with a great well-known magician, a great juggler and hypnotist. So he gave me lessons on Tratak on psychic eye. I did it for some time and it was very effective. Within three months, whatever I used to tell my friends, they would immediately obey me. In Tratak on psychic eye, the best psychic eye is a photograph of your own right eye. So only one eye. It is never done on two eyes.

There is another way of Tratak. Muslim saints put a point between the eyebrows, sit before a mirror and do Tratak on that point. But this practice is strictly for those who are sannyasins and other saints, not for those whose minds get shocks every now and then. They should not do Tratak on their own body by the help of a mirror. It is a very powerful thing and it is said in one of the Sutras of Patanjali that he who concentrates on his own body, is capable of loosing his physical existence for the time being and maybe others might not find him there.

When we were children we wanted to experiment on the mirror. We did, but it created so much fear in our minds that up to this day we do not want to look into the mirror. And as a result of that, personally, I have developed a sort of defference towards mirror. I do not want to look at my own face in the mirror. Those people who are highly psychic and if they do not belong to the category of saints, live in the world with daily knock backs and blows, some psychic people should practice this. The vision, the experience, is something absolutely unbelievable. You should not say: 'I am not psychic' because you do not know.

The object of Tratak should not be changed during personal practice, try your best to continue it. But if it is a luminous object such as light of a candle or the light of mud-lamp, then you should not do it for many months. You will have to discontinue Tratak on any luminous object for very long time, because any light if it makes a permanent impression on the retina, any light it may be mild light, retina will become dead. That particular point becomes dead, and as a result of it one develops cataract at later stage. So the practice on candle, burning candle, on reflection of the Sun in water, should not be continued for a very long time.

How long to do it? There has been no clear instructions on this point anywhere in books, but this is my personal view that when one feels the psychic point (not physical one); psychic point is able to emerge at any time, even when you are not ready; you should give up actual practice of Tratak. Let me make it clear. If you have been practicing this Tratak on candle light for a month or so and after that you find that whenever you close your eyes and just remember any time, this psychic point can emerge at any time at will and you will be able to manifest that point any time, either at night or in the day, not only after Tratak and this has been happening for the last week, you will not find andy difficulty in becoming aware of this point, you give up Tratak physically. It means that the physical Tratak has made an impression through your retina in your subconscious mind and please remember that, whenever you close your eyes at any time after a month’s practice, you don’t think of the psychic point, it just comes, this means it is physical effect and it has to be washed. Any physical effect as light on retina should be washed off and therefore it is my personal view, and I stick to this, that Tratak should not be prolonged. And as some people try to look at light for 10-20 minutes and thus they think that it is something extra what they are going to do, perhaps it may give them some beneficial results, no, they should not do it. If you are able to develop the psychic point in one minute Tratak, so much so good. If you are able to develop psychic point without looking at candle, it should be remembered that psychic point should not emerge of its own accord. It is only when you remember it should come. Coming of this psychic point should be associated with your will power.

This is about Tratak.

Spectacles should not be used: but there is nothing about this subject in the ancient books. One whose eyes are not good, should practice Tratak only until tears appear.

Healing eyes by Tratak: practice Tratak on a castor oil flame until tears fall down. Then close eyes and wait for the eyes to become dry. In the beginning one round and then gradually up to five rounds.

Neti: with water at Indian drinking water temperature (lukewarm).

Washing eyes with rose water: Instead of rose water several drops of lotus honey or Sahajan honey can be used, only these two kinds of honey contain very mild acid. This practice should be done in the early morning and at night.