Swabhava and Sankalpa

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The practice of pratipaksha bhavana means you are dropping a negative quality, thought or feeling and replacing it with a positive quality, thought or feeling. Sometimes it is possible to do it even instantly; at other times it is a struggle, and the identification with the positive comes and goes; and sometimes it is difficult to do.

Swabhava means the normal human nature that we live every day, every moment, and that we express and that is identified as our mindset, our nature. This individual nature is guided by the predominant mood which can be either tamasic, rajasic or sattwic. When you are in a sattwic mood or are guided by the sattwic mood, at that moment you can develop pratipaksha bhavana easily and connect your mind with a positive thought and a positive idea.

When you are in the rajoguna state of mind, connecting with the positive will always remain a struggle - it will come, then it will slip, then again you will have to grasp it, and again it will slip. In the rajasic mind there is continuous effort. If you are under the influence of the tamasic mood, then despite your wisdom, pratipaksha bhavana will not be there; tamas will be more predominant. Therefore, you are looking at your swabhava, your real nature.

The second aspect is sankalpa, intention and determination. You can have the intention and you can have the determination to be good, proper and correct. However, if you are under the influence of the tamasic mood, the intention and determination will not take you anywhere. If you are in a sattwic mood, this sankalpa will take you far.

Swabhava and sankalpa both have to come together in order to succeed. You have to work to develop a better mood, and despite failures you have to continue making the effort, and that is where the strength of a sadhaka lies. Despite failure there is a drive of continuous effort to overcome the failure. There is no dejection due to failure. Sankalpa and swabhava have to come together, if you want to create long-lasting change. Just by tweaking the swabhava or dealing with sankalpa without managing the swabhava is not going to give benefits.

Lifestyle to change your swabhava

We are all trying to change the swabhava from tamasic or rajasic to sattwic. For that it is not just effort which is necessary but changing the lifestyle. In 2013 at the World Yoga Convention, we said that the age of propagating yoga is over. For 50 years we propagated yoga from door to door and shore, to shore and that chapter closed. Last year in the month of October, five years after closing the first chapter, the second chapter was written.

For the second chapter we called teachers, who came from 40 countries and 22 states of India, and we launched the second chapter of yoga with 'yoga from moment to moment', not 'from door to door and shore to shore'. That is finished. This concept of moment to moment yoga revolves around lifestyle.

Until now, for many people yoga was a practice to be done in the classroom once, twice, thrice a week, for the sake of feeling good physically, for the sake of reducing and removing stress, for attaining greater relaxation. Beyond this, yoga had no other meaning than physical well being, psychological well being and spiritual well being. When we are talking of lifestyle we are talking about making our whole routine a yogic routine, not just practising yoga for one hour in the morning as a system or discipline, but living yoga every hour, every minute and practising yoga according to the times and the needs.

Lifestyle is an important aspect which we are focusing on now. We have started to conduct lifestyle training programs. The first one being conducted is the vedic lifestyle course of Sannyasa Peeth. It is interesting that each kind of lifestyle is dependent on something. Today the modern lifestyle is becoming more and more dependent on technology and information. Any question people have, they are instantly on the net googling to find out the meaning of this, the meaning of that, trying to find out what this is, what that is. The modern society is very much dependent on the technology and on information available. If the technology and information available disappears overnight, the modern civilization will collapse.

In the same manner, during the vedic times, the dependency of the vedic civilization was on attitude, not on technology. The attitude had to be right, proper and correct. This attitude was connected to the discovery of sat, the truth, the right, the appropriate and the correct. This was reflected in the civilization, in their culture, their lifestyle, their practices. Everything was revolving around the discovery of sat. It was not only an intellectual process but something that people could live. Sat became part of their life in the form and expression of shatkarma, right action, satvyavahar, right behaviour, and satvichar, right thinking.

The mainstay of the vedic civilization was attitudinal. The mainstay of today's modern society is technological and information. We are not saying this is correct or incorrect, we are saying that along with the modern technology and information, there has to be focus on attitudinal correctness. This attitudinal correctness will lead to readjusting our routine, our aspirations and efforts in life. There has to be an awareness which is there from morning until night, moment to moment. There has to be an awareness of being able to see what I am doing every moment, to check myself and correct myself every moment. This happens when lifestyle is defined and looked into.

In the second chapter of yoga, from this year new programs and courses are being conducted. Nothing of the old that was happening for the last 50 years continues from this year onwards. It is a new journey and people who have become part of the new journey are feeling the benefits of it. There are many steps that we can walk and we are walking on that path.

24 March 2019, Ganga Darshan, Munger