Tapas (tapas, Sanskrit: तपस्) means deep meditation, effort to achieve self-realization, sometimes involving solitude, hermitism or asceticism.
In the yogic tradition it is the fire that burns within that is needed for the sanyasi to achieve the very difficult goal of enlightenment, to foster self-control, one mindedness and focus, simplicity, wisdom, integrity. It is used to develop and discipline the body, mind and character; control of mind; and complete eradication of all desires – through discipline of body, correct speech, telling only the truth, correct thought, non-violence, correct action, love for all, devotion to God, developing the ability to remain tranquil and balanced in every situation, act without any selfish motive or thought of reward, with an unshakable faith in God.
In Tapovanam the author cites Bhagavan “You cannot see Me, but I am the light you see by. You cannot hear Me, but I am the sound you hear by. You cannot know Me, but I am the truth you live by.” Baba
Where is Bhagavan? Who are you? Are you different from god? Bhagavan has reassured us in HIS Divine discourse on the 6th October 1986 that knowledge of the soul (atma) is important for spiritual journey and to end the cycle of birth and death by learning who we are and carrying out our dharma (duty) with truh, love, peace and non violence. Bhagavan addressed us ”EMBODIMENTS of the Divine Atma! Of all categories of knowledge, the highest is Atma Jnana (the knowledge of the Self). You may acquire knowledge of the natural sciences, of all arts and crafts, of literature and music, dance and painting and every conceivable type of worldly knowledge but all of it will not give you peace or bliss if you do not have knowledge of the Self. Worldly knowledge may bring you fame and prosperity. But only Atma Jnana can confer the peace that passeth understanding. Atma Jnana is that which reveals the unity in multiplicity, the eternal in the perishable. One who has attained Atma Jnana is all-knowing. “Tarati sokam Atmavith” (“the knower of the Self overcomes sorrow”), says the Upanishad. All worldly knowledge is concerned with sustaining life. When knowledge of the Spirit which is the basis of all other knowledge of the sciences and the arts is acquired, it is easy to get any kind of knowledge. When communion with the Divine, who is the source of all knowledge, power and wisdom, is established, one has access to every kind of knowledge. Hence each one should strive to attain Self-realisation through purity of mind and heart.”
In chanting of the 108 Astotranaama (41- 48), Bhagavan is praised as the Incarnation of the trinity and is the Lord of the world who is like a brother of the world who is compasionate by removing the wicked and thereby protects the devotees and nourishes and sustains the poor and gives liberation
In 68 – 74, we praise bhagavan as HE who is dear to the devotee by dwelling and happily playing in their hearts and he shows the devotee the path which leads to the true knowledge by igniting the lamp of devotion and knowledge and is the highest divine mountain of the devotee.
This knowledge of sadhana is contained in the 9 Point Code of Conduct and the 10 principles. The first point of conduct is daily meditation and prayer. Meditation has many faceted approaches. People all over the world indulge in meditation as a means to silence the mind and ground the body so that the individual may mitigate the risks of stress, sicknesses and a racing mind (monkey mind). To this end, many schools have emerged and presented many methodologies on meditation. To quote Bhagavan “Concentration is the one you think you are, Contemplation is the one others think you are and meditation is the one you really are.”
To understand this tapas is important. The royal road to God is through prayera nd seeing the divine within (the one you really are) is through meditation.
”At first, set a few minutes every day for meditation, and extend the time as you feel the bliss that you get. “Let it be in the hours before dawn. This is preferable because the body is refreshed after sleep, and the dealings of daytime will not yet have impinged on you. Have a lamp or a candle before you with an open, steady, and straight flame. Sit in front of the candle in the lotus posture or any other comfortable sitting position. Look on the flame steadily for some time, and closing your eyes try to feel the flame inside you between your eyebrows. Let it slide down into the lotus of your heart, illuminating the path. When it enters the heart, imagine that the petals of the lotus open out by one, bathing every thought, feeling, and emotion in the light and so removing darkness from them. There is no space for darkness to hide. The light of the flame becomes wider and brighter. Let it pervade your limbs. Now those limbs can never indulge in dark, suspicious, and wicked activities; they have become instruments of light and love. As the light reaches up to the tongue, falsehood vanishes from it. Let it rise up to the eyes and the ears and destroy all the dark desires that infest them and which lead you to perverse sights and childish conversation. Let your head be surcharged with light and all wicked thoughts will flee there from. Imagine that the light is in you more and more intensely. Let it shine all around you and let it spread from you in ever widening circles, taking in your loved ones, your kith and kin, your friends and companions, your enemies and rivals, strangers, all living beings, the entire world.
“Since the light illumines all the senses every day so deeply and so systematically, a time will soon come when you can no more relish dark and evil sights, yearn for dark and sinister tales, crave for base, harmful, deadening toxic food and drink, handle dirty demeaning things, approach places of ill-fame and injury, or frame evil designs against anyone at any time. Stay on in that thrill of witnessing the light everywhere. If you are adoring God in any form now, try to visualize that form in the all-pervasive light. For Light is God; God is Light.
“Practice this meditation as I have advised regularly every day. At other times repeat the name of God (any Name fragrant with any of His many Majesties), always taking care to be conscious of His might, mercy, and munificence.” – Sri Sathya Sai Baba Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume X, Page 348-350, Shivarathri, 1979
Embarking on Tapovanam, daily meditation and prayer will prepare you for the days’ fast and obeisance. Swami said in his discourse ”Awake! Arise!”:
”You must tread the spiritual path with an uncontrollable urge to reach the Goal; you must
cultivate the yearning for liberation from all this encumberance. Remember that you have to
dwell in a house built on four stout pillars: dharma, artha, kaama, and moksha (righteousness, wealth, desire and liberation); Dharma supporting artha, and moksha being the only kaama or desire. However much you may earn either wealth or strength, unless you tap the springs of aananda (bliss) within you, you cannot have peace and lasting content. There is Sathyathwa, Nithyathwa (reality of truth and eternity) in you; you need not earn them from any one else. The four pillars of Purushaartha (goals of human effort) are made firm and stable by fixing them on the bedrock of the Nithya Sathya Thathwa (reality of eternal truth) in every man, the Divine in fact, on which the human is superimposed.”
With this in mind, all Regional and Centre Presidents and the Regional and Centre Devotion Wing Convenors are to set up a program conducive to practicing the Tapas as provided at the begining of Tapovanam (Omkar, suprabatham, Nagar sankirtan, Jyothi Meditation) as part of the centre and regional activities whilst making available all the necessary tools for the devotees to embark on Tapovanam at home as well.
Ravi Thaver, National devotional Wing Convenor
Issued: 30 March 2014