Shuddhi Kriya

Maharshi Gherand ji Maharaj mentioned first about shuddhi kriya or shatkarma while preaching about yoga. The importance of shatkarma is described in Gherand Samhita even before mentioning about yoga asanas. Body and mind will be purified through shuddhi kriya and will be ready for the practice of yoga or asanas. But there are few important mantras that are mentioned in Gherand Samhita which are to be recited before observing shatkarma. Some of those mantras which are most significant and are beneficial for each and every person are mentioned below. Gherand ji Maharaj says –

नास्ति माया समं पापं नास्ति योगात्परं वलम |
नास्ति ज्ञानात्परो बन्धुरनाहंकारात्परो रिपुः || (१/४)

Through the above mentioned four measures that are quoted by Maharshi Gherand one can easily understand about yoga. The first and foremost measure mentioned by him is ‘नास्ति माया समं पापं’ Maharshi defined maya (delusion) as paap (sin) because we tend to forget our reality under the influence of maya. Wisdom is covered by the layer of ignorance only because of maya. The divine and pure human life given to man by the God is wasted on materialistic pleasures due to maya. This physical resource will help us to enjoy the worldly pleasures. But this enjoyment would consequently take us away from the real life. There is only single eternal bliss prevailing in the world which inhibits in the inner self of each person. It is achievable only through the self. Thus Gherand ji Maharaj called  maya as paap.

Yoga Bal – ‘नास्ति योगात्परं वलम’ –
No power is equivalent to yoga. Maharshi visualized yoga in the form of power or energy which can enable us to overcome all the deficiencies in our life. Yoga is considered as power because it is capable of controlling everything such as body, mind, intellect, thought, behaviour, life etc. All these can be moderated and balanced through the practice of yoga. Probably there is no other science on earth which can work on body, mind and for the evolution of consciousness simultaneously. Thus our yoga teacher training program in India provide profound training of yoga to enable our trainees to see an all-round development in their lives.

नास्ति ज्ञानात्परो बन्धु –

There is no other friend better than intellect in this world. Intellect is the one which saves a person from each and every adversity. Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta elaborately describes about gyanayoga.

Shatru (enemy) – नाहंकारात्परो रिपुः –
Ego is the root cause of our misdeeds in our life. Every person is endowed with a strange notion. No individual can accept that he is less than a perfect personality. Because each person considers himself as a great entity, as he is endowed perfectly with all the required qualities. Whatever he does is absolutely correct. He feels that his thoughts are perfect. He is confident that his theories are the best. We find this trend in humans in general. They do not bow in front of anyone else. This is called the ego. This ego becomes the biggest enemy in his path to salvation as it is an impediment to friendship. This ego will supress the interest of an individual to learn or get educated.

The layer of ego that prevails over the eyes of an individual will stop the development of one’s talent. He is covered with a false layer of pride. Therefore maya and ego are considered as sin and foe in life while yoga and intellect are considered as power and friend of the same.

Gherand ji Maharaj described about sapt sadhan before going into the description of shatkarma. The sapt sadhan is useful to cleanse the body and mind. Here sapt means seven and sadhan means instrument or device.  He describes them as follows  –

शोधनं दृढ़ता चैव स्थैर्यं धैर्य च लाघवम् |
प्रत्यक्षं च निर्लिप्तं च घटस्य सप्त साधनम् ||

Maharaj ji compared the body to a pot or a pitcher here. If you pour water into a wet pitcher it would be destroyed. But if the same pitcher is dried by heating it on fire, it hardens. Similarly once our body gets purified through the heat of yoga, our mind also becomes eligible to move ahead of the path of salvation.

Shodhan: Shodhan is the first resource among the sapt sadhan. Purification of body and mind is an essential measure to eradicate their disorders.

Drudhta: Physical, mental, ideological and emotional strengths are very much essential for a person to stabilize in all these arenas.

Sthairyam: It means stability, while its antonym is being unstable. A flickering or unstable mind is only capable of causing despair. Swinging one’s own feet, keenly looking at someone or repeatedly changing vision and talking unnecessarily are the signs of unstable mind. All these prove to be ineffective and are capable of only showing our infirmity. But one who is serious and quiet will be capable of influencing the society as everyone tends to believe him.

Dhairyam: Dhairyam is the fourth resource. It means patience. The seeker needs to be unaffected by the situations prevailing around him. He should not lose his patience at any cost. He should be anxious or he should not lose his tolerance. All these are related mental distress because body does not lose patience but it is mind which does.

Laghavam: It means lightness. The seeker body should be light in weight. It should not be filled with jargon or it should not be corpulent. A corpulent body is not considered to be useful for yoga because it is believed that the corpulent body is prone to disorders. But that doesn’t mean that obese people are not fit for yoga.

Unless the yoga becomes successful the body of the seeker is expected to be light in weight. Once it is successful and the seeker loses the awareness of his physical existence, the weight of the body does not matter anymore. In accordance to this ideology one might tend to wonder why most of the yogis possess fat belly. Many at times it so happens that the vital force (pran Shakti) awakens as a result of meditation which focuses on manipura chakra. Due to this reason, their belly alone starts to expand. However they do not take heavy diet consisting of oil or ghee. Most of the yogis live on fruits. The expansion of manipura chakra taking place while being in the yoga system indicates the sign of awakening of the vital force of life. This is not a disorder in the physical body although it appears to be. Hence most of the yogis and sage are seen with large bellies. Although, initially the seeker body is expected to be lean.

Maharshi Gherand ji Maharaj mentioned the seven essential factors which would be beneficial for the yoga seeker. They are shuddhikaran, drudhta, sthirtha, dhairya, lean body along with self-realization and detachment. He has also explained how to acquire these resources. Shatkarma cleanses the body while asanas strengthen the body and mudras impart stability while pratyahar promotes patience. Also pranayama make the body feel lighter, dhyana leads to self-realization and Samadhi results in detachment i.e., it leads to mukti or liberation. Our yoga teacher training in Dhramasala provides the best training for pranayama.

षट्कर्मणा शोधनं च आसनेन यावेवद्दृढं |
मुद्रया स्थरता चैव प्रत्याहारेण धीरता || (१/१०)
प्राणायामाल्लाघवम च ध्यानातपरत्यक्षमात्मनः |
समाधिना निर्लिप्तं च मक्तिरेव न संशयः || (११/११)



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