Sakshi Bhava

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Sakshi bhava or drashta bhava is the ability to observe yourself and maintain that state of awareness continuously for a long time. It is the state where you are able to say, ‘I am observing myself, I am observing my behaviour, I am the witness of my karmas, I am the witness of my thoughts, I am the witness of my ambitions, I am the witness of every experience of mine’.

Again, the mind has to be trained to observe itself. There is a trick here. When you think, ‘I want to become quiet’, who is the one doing the thinking? It is the mind that is thinking. It is the same mind which is agitated and which desires peace and quietness. It seems to be a paradox that the nature of the mind is to be active and move all the time, but the desire of the mind is to be still.

You have to pick up on the desire of the mind, not the nature of the mind. That is the secret. If you identify with the mental movement, you will follow the trains of thought, wherever they take you. If you identify with the idea of peace, you hold yourself back and remain connected to that idea. You can observe the movement of the mind by being at one place. That is the drashta bhava or sakshi bhava.

Take every opportunity

Every action is followed by a reaction. You have to learn to accept both the action and the reaction by learning how to develop the drashta within, by becoming aware of the observer, the seer inside. Then experiences will cease to have any effect on the mind. Just as you can see the effects of something happening outside, in the same way you can also experience the internal, unseen effects of the same events taking place, without becoming a victim to them. A gross example will convey the meaning. Eating is an external action: hand to mouth, the mouth chewing, and the food being swallowed. Here the external action stops. Then the internal action begins, the process of digestion. How it happens, you do not know. You might be doing anything, sleeping, jumping up and down or travelling, but the digestive process is going on. No matter what you do, digestion goes on and there is no way you can stop it.

When you become the sakshi, the observer of yourself, and that faculty of observation is continuous, constant and does not dissipate or fluctuate, then you become centred. Everything should be taken as an opportunity to observe and reprogram the mind. Your mind becomes centred and there is an experience of peace and harmony.