Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions

The essence of all spiritual sadhanas is contained in the following instructions. If followed systematically, they will lead you to self-realization.

  1. Get up at 4 a.m. daily: This is brahmamuhurta which is extremely favourable for meditation.
  2. Asana: Sit in padma, siddha or sukha asana for japa and meditation for half an hour, facing the east or the north. Increase the period gradually to three hours. Do sirshasana and sarvangasana for keeping up brahmacharya and health. Take light physical exercise such as walking, etc. regularly. Do twenty rounds of pranayama.
  3. Japa: Repeat any mantra such as Om or Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, Om Saravanabhavaya Namah, Sita Rama, Sri Rama, Hari Om or Gayatri, according to your taste or inclination, from 108 to 21,600 times daily.
  4. Dietetic discipline: Take sattwic food, shuddha ahara or pure food. Give up chillies, tamarind, garlic, onion, sour articles, oil, mustard and asafoetida. Observe moderation in diet, mitahara. Do not overload the stomach. Give up those things which the mind likes best for a fortnight in a year. Eat simple food. Milk and fruits help concentration. Take food as medicine to keep life going. An aspirant should no longer eat for enjoyment. Give up salt and sugar for a month. You must be able to live on rice, dal and bread without any chutney. Do not ask for extra salt or sugar.
  5. Have a separate meditation room under lock and key.
  6. Charity: Perform charity regularly, every month or even daily according to your means.
  7. Swadhyaya: Study systematically the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Vishnu Sahasranama, Lalita Sahasranama, Aditya Hridayam, the Upanishads, Yoga Vasishtha, the Bible, Zend Avesta, the Koran, the Tripitakas, the Granth Sahib, etc. from half an hour to one hour daily and purify your thoughts.
  8. Brahmacharya: Preserve the vital force, virya, very, very carefully. Virya is God in motion or manifestation; it is vibhuti. Virya is all power and all money. Virya is the essence of life, thought and intelligence.
  9. Prayer shlokas: Learn by heart some prayer, shlokas or stotras and repeat them as soon as you sit on your asana before starting japa or meditation. This will elevate the mind quickly.
  10. Satsanga: Have satsanga, company of the true. Give up bad company, smoking, meat and alcoholic liquors entirely. Do not develop any negative habits.
  11. Fast on Ekadashi: Fast on Ekadashi, the eleventh day of the moon, or live on milk and fruits only.
  12. Japa mala: Have a japa mala, rosary, underneath your pillow at night.
  13. Mouna: Observe mouna, vow of silence, for a couple of hours daily.
  14. Speak the truth: Speak the truth at all cost. Speak a little. Speak sweetly.
  15. Reduce your wants: If you have four shirts, reduce the number to three or two. Lead a happy, contented life. Avoid unnecessary worry. Cultivate plain living and high thinking.
  16. Never hurt anybody: Practise the dictum ahimsa paramo dharmah, “Non-violence is the foremost duty.” Control anger by love, kshama, forgiveness, and daya, compassion.
  17. Do not depend on servants: Self-reliance is the highest of all virtues.
  18. Self-analysis: Think of the mistakes you have committed during the course of the day just before retiring to bed. Maintain a daily diary and self-correction register. Do not brood over past mistakes.
  19. Fulfil duties: Remember that death is awaiting you at every moment. Never fail to fulfil your duties. Have pure conduct, sadachara.
  20. Surrender to God: Think of God as soon as you wake up and just before you go to sleep. Surrender yourself completely to God, sharanagati.