Shat-Sampat: Six-fold Virtues

The very root and core of all mental purification is through active practice of virtue. Be determined never to swerve even an inch from the path of virtue. The mind has to be carefully trained and the will should be developed and strengthened. The development of a sensitive conscience and positive admiration for goodness and nobility plays a great part in jnana yoga. Therefore, much importance has been laid by the ancients upon shat-sampat (six treasures of virtue), which include shama, dama, uparati, titiksha, shraddha and samadhana. The six equipments are taken as one because they are all calculated to bring about mental control and discipline. Concentration and meditation can never be possible without mental control and mental discipline.


Shama is serenity or tranquillity of mind that is brought about by eradication of vasanas, inherent desires. The mind is kept in the chambers of the heart. It is not allowed to join with the indriyas, senses, and to move outside into sensual objects or grooves. The mind is fixed on the source. Serenity of mind is the most important qualification for an aspirant. This is difficult to attain. But the aspirant must have this qualification at any cost. It demands incessant and protracted practice.

The mind is the commander of the ten sense organs – five organs of perception and five organs of action. If the commander is subjugated first of all, the soldiers, that is, the senses, are already conquered. Control of the senses cannot become perfect unless the mind is controlled first. If one is established in shama, dama or control of the senses comes by itself. No sense organ can work independently without the help or cooperation of the mind.


Dama is control of the senses. This is rational control. This is not blunting or deadening of the senses by foolish austerities. The body is the moving temple of God. It should be kept healthy and strong. It is a vessel to take you to the other shore of fearlessness and immortality. Many foolish aspirants amputate the organ of reproduction. They think that lust can be eradicated completely by such a procedure. Some swallow tons of nux vomica to kill this organ. What a great foolish act! Lust is in the mind. If the mind is subdued, what can the external organ do? They fail in their attempts to be centred in brahmacharya. The state of their minds is the same, though they become impotent by taking nux vomica. Remember, it is only the abuse and misuse of the organs that brings misery and untoward results. What is wanted is judicious control of the senses. They should not be allowed to run riot into sensual grooves. They should not be allowed to throw us ruthlessly into the deep pit of worldliness just as the turbulent horse carries away the rider wherever it likes.

The senses should be consecrated at the lotus-feet of the Lord for his services. If the senses are disciplined properly, if they are kept under control, they become your useful servants. People ask: “Where is the necessity for the practice of dama, when one practices shama?” Dama or control of the senses is also necessary. Then only one will get supreme control of mind and the senses. Though the senses cannot independently play any havoc when the mind is under control, yet their control ensures perfect safety and supreme peace of mind.


Uparati comes next. It is satiety. It is turning the mind resolutely away from desire for sexual enjoyment. This state of mind naturally comes when one has practised viveka, vairagya, shama and dama. Sri Shankara defines uparati in his Vivekachudamani as follows: “The best uparati or self-withdrawal consists in the mind-function ceasing to act by means of external objects.” According to the Atma-Anatma-Viveka, uparati is the abstaining on principle from engaging in any of the acts and ceremonies enjoined by the scriptures. Otherwise, it is the state of mind which is always engaged in shravana, hearing of shrutis, manana, reflection, and nididhyasana, meditation on Brahman, without ever diverging from them. Some perceive uparati as taking up sannyasa by renouncing all works.


Titiksha is power of endurance. The aspirant should patiently bear the pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, pleasure and pain and the rest. Sri Shankara defines it in Vivekachudamani as follows: “The bearing of all afflictions without caring to redress them, being free at the same time from anxiety or lament on their score is called titiksha or forbearance.” According to Atma-Anatma-Viveka, titiksha is the showing of forbearance by a person who is capable of punishing another for some wrongdoing.

Foolish austerities of a rigorous kind are condemned by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (17:5–6):

Ashaastravihitam ghoram tapyante ye tapo janaah;
Dambhaahamkaarasamyuktaah kaamaraagabalaanvitaah.
Karshayantah shareerastham bhootagraamamachetasah;
Maam chaivaantahshareerastham taanviddhyaasuranishchayaan.

Those men who practise terrific austerities not enjoined by the scriptures, given to hypocrisy and egoism, impelled by the force of lust and attachment, senseless, torturing all the elements in the body and Me also, who dwells in the body – know thou these to be of demoniacal resolves.

Some make titiksha as the end. Titiksha is only a means. Wherever there is movement, wherever there is manifestation of life, the two opposed forces, the pairs of opposites, do exist. Some ignorant men desire to get rid of the unpleasant experiences and to keep only the pleasant ones. This is the height of folly. Can there be light alone without darkness, roses alone without thorns, gain alone without loss, success alone without failure, victory alone without defeat, pleasure alone without pain? A wise man who rightly understands them and moves in close cooperation with them can be happy, not others.

A wise man never grumbles. He tries to fix himself up in that unchanging, permanent, witnessing consciousness which is hidden in his heart, which is beyond all the pairs of opposites, and then watches the movements and the phenomena of this universe with an unruffled mind. He sees intelligence in every inch of creation. He has a very comprehensive understanding of the eternal laws of nature and the pairs of opposites. This is true titiksha based on knowledge. He is superior to physical titikshus, those who practise only physical endurance, who will show signs of failure when confronted by serious disasters. A titikshu who has developed his titiksha through knowledge is the king of all titikshus.


Shraddha is intense faith in the words of the guru and in the sayings of the vedantic scriptures and, above all, in one’s own self. This is not blind faith. It is based on accurate reasoning, evidence and experience. Then only it can be lasting faith. Then only it can be perfect, unshakeable faith. Superstitious beliefs, beliefs in mere religious traditions or social customs cannot help one in spiritual advancement. The mind will be ever restless. Various doubts will crop up every now and then. Sectarians force their beliefs on others, try to convert them and take them in their fold to strengthen their numbers. The new convert does not find real solace in the newly-embraced cult. He then embraces yet another cult.

Shraddha is the most important qualification. No spiritual progress is possible without shraddha. From shraddha comes nistha or one-pointed devotion and from nistha comes self-realization. If the faith is flickering, it will die soon and the aspirant will be drifted aimlessly hither and thither.


Samadhana is mental balance by attention. This is the fruit of the practices of shama, dama, uparati, titiksha and shraddha. There is prefect concentration now. It is fixing the mind on the atman without allowing it to turn towards objects and have its own way. It is self-settledness. Sri Shankaracharya defines it in his Atma-Anatma-Viveka: “Whenever a mind engaged in shravana, manana and nididhasana wanders to any worldly object or desire, and finding it worthless, returns to the performance of the three exercises – such returning is called samadhana.” The mind is free from anxiety amid pains. There is indifference amid pleasures. There is stability of mind or mental poise. The aspirant or practitioner is on every side without attachment. He neither likes nor dislikes. He has great deal of strength of mind and internal peace. He has unruffled, supreme peace of mind.

Some aspirants have peace of mind when they live in seclusion and when there are no distracting elements. They complain of great tossing of mind or vikshepa when they come to a city and mix with people. They are completely upset. They cannot do any meditation in a crowded place. This is a weakness. This is not achievement in samadhana. There is no balance of mind or equanimity in these persons. Only when a student can keep his balance of mind even in a battlefield when there is a shower of bullets all around, as he does in a solitary cave in the Himalayas, can he be really said to be fully established in samadhana. Lord Krishna says in the Gita: “Perform all actions, O Dhananjaya, dwelling in union with the Divine, renouncing attachments, and balanced evenly in success and failure.” This is samadhana. Again you will find in the Gita: “The disciplined self, moving among sense-objects with senses free from attraction and repulsion mastered by the self, goes to peace.” This is also samadhana.