The Active Drashta

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The difference between the active drashta and the passive drashta is a simple idea. When you are not doing any physical activity and sitting with your eyes closed, then the only thing you can be aware of at that moment is what is happening on your mental screen, and you can observe the colours, the shapes, the forms, the figures, the thoughts, the feelings, the sentiments, the emotions – whatever emerges without any physical, sensorial, intellectual, emotional input, you are simply observing it. You are only doing this for about ten to fifteen minutes. When the practice is over you are out of that state. That is the passive drashta: I simply observe. The active drashta is extension of the awareness in all directions.

Once there was a program in a yoga centre. Pots and pans and spoons were being laid out. People who were working in the kitchen were well experienced and were doing a good job. Suddenly in walks Sri Swamiji. As he is walking, he is seeing everything that is happening there. While walking as he is coming to the row of pots, he simply bends down, picks up a spoon and changes the position, for one spoon was jutting out and could hurt someone's leg. He simply turned the position of the spoon so it was out of the way, pointing to the other side. Nobody had noticed what he had done. It was not in the awareness of people, they were more concerned with what they had to do, not in the placement of things which could become a barrier, an obstacle or hurt another person. In his normal way of walking, he saw and he simply turned the spoon away.

Some people were watching his action. Those who were watching could understand why he had done it, but others did not even notice. In that state of Sri Swamiji when he is walking and active, he is also a drashta at that time, asking: What is the right way to keep this? What is the right way to do that? His mind had extended in all directions. One simple, little act indicated the level of awareness. That is an active drashta, when one is engaged in the world.

The same concept of witnessing has to come into our day-to-day activity also. We don't have to see what is happening around us to fix it and think, 'Now I am becoming an active drashta because I am putting this and that in order.' No. The active drashta has to become part of our nature, as most of the time we react. The drashta feeling has to come in the normal state of mind, in the normal state of wakefulness. Even when I am walking, I know I am walking; not only I know I am walking, but also how I am walking, where I am walking and what are the difficulties or ease that I feel in my walk. I am aware of the ground on which I am walking, the sensation, hardness, softness, the heat, the cold, the whole experience involved in walking becomes visible. You are like the AI, artificial intelligence, for the normal intelligence doesn't work. Normal intelligence doesn't work, so you have to become an artificial intelligence, AI, so that you are more attentive to what you are receiving and what you are giving out. In the normal state of 'I', we are not attentive to what we receive or how we respond, however that awareness has to percolate down into normal activity.

You can try every day by saying, 'Today I will become the drashta of my actions for ten minutes.' Start with that. From the morning you wake up, until you go to the bathroom and come out ready for breakfast, you remain a drashta of your activities, your mind, your performance and action. The next week increase the drashta to the time at the breakfast table, from morning until breakfast time. The third week increase the drashta component until you sit in the car to go to your office or work, extend ten minutes more. The rest of the day you don't have to be a drashta. If you gradually increase every week ten to fifteen minutes in your morning time, then let that time become a personal observational meditation: 'I am observing myself while I am doing the normal activities, talking, cooking, cleaning, dressing, everything that I do. I am doing that without any break, but I am also maintaining the same awareness which I maintain in meditation to become the drashta.' Once this awareness dawns, the extension will happen outwards. That is the active drashta.

22 August 2018, Kriya Yoga Yatra 3, Paduka Darshan, Munger