Hansaji talking on ‘Pratyahara’

The topic for the Hindi Satsang on Sunday, 15th September, 2013 was ‘Pratyahara

Following is the transcript of the speech made by Smt. Hansaji Yogendra on the topic.

Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra
Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra

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Pratyahara is to go inwards. This is linked to our state of mind… it’s a means to lean towards our consciousness, to exit the external world / stimuli by shutting down our sensory organs namely our eyes, ears, our sense of touch, taste and smell.

Our senses link our inner self with the external world. And they are functioning continuously without a break. We are always alert and aware of whats going on outside and interested to try everything, touch everything, desire to taste / to see everything that exists outside, the question to understand is, how much? And whether there is a limit to this? Such a desire in a young one is acceptable e.g. when a young child desires to touch everything and take it in its mouth but as we grow older, we should use our intellect to understand that we have seen so much and whether there is really a need to see more.

When we commute from home to our work places daily in a train / car / auto-rickshaw for years together, do we still need to keep our eyes open and look out? We have to build this awareness of how we are using our senses and for how long; we can save so much energy by just closing our eyes for some time. The idea is to use our senses only when required. Let’s not just stare into space or continue seeing because whatever we see creates an impression in our minds and we should control / limit these impressions, especially negative ones. Therefore we have to be alert and aware of how we use our senses. We need to discipline ourselves in this regard.

When we eat eat a dish for the first time and then a number of times, we develop an understanding of the same and gradually the desire to eat this dish should ideally reduce, and then we eat only when we are hungry and the quantity eaten too is proportionate to the falling desire. These are progressive stages. I know a person who enjoys an Indian sweet “Jalebi” so much that he travels 2 hours in one direction to eat the same from the best maker of the same in the city. It seems we have become slaves of our senses when it should ideally be the other way around. Like a child likes a particular toy so much that he carries it around with him all time time, when he is playing, eating, sleeping or doing any activity, he wants it with him all the time. This is total imbalance.

Once we have had an experience then what is the need to experience it again? When will we be content? Lets not get stuck in an experience, lets view it objectively and detach ourselves from the same. It all depends on how we train and discipline ourselves. Either we get stuck in an experience and wish to experience the same again and again, or we detach ourselves from the external world and develop a desire to experience ourselves, go inwards and discover another world entirely. Can we at least begin to limit our exposure to the external world?

When one meditates, one automatically begins the journey inwards. The point is very clear that the external world has tremendous variety of everything, but can we experience it and be content? It is also important to understand the purpose behind every need as well.

Is our objective just to gain knowledge? Yoga says the mind will waver all the time, it will jump from one desire to another; this mind needs to be kept in check. We need to take charge of our mind and we can do this by controlling our sensory organs. Use the senses only when required. Try closing your eyes when not required, believe me it will do you tremendous good. One of our students would practice closing his eyes while commuting by train daily, that does not mean that he would be sleeping but when one sense is shut, the other senses become more alert and aware like the sense of touch and sound are heightened when the eyes are closed. One day while he was sitting with his eyes closed, he felt a hand moves towards his pocket and he immediately grabbed this hand thereby helping catch a pickpocket. The police was very grateful to our student for helping nab this robber that they were in search for so long. The student shared that shutting senses down improved sensitivity of the other senses. It is such a scientific logic.

Use the senses for the correct purposes and only when necessary; else negative impressions will be formed on the mind leading to imbalance in life. Do not encourage children to watch cartoons depicting naughty and violent activities. Instead team up with the child, sit together with eyes closed and focus on the sounds around or try to smell the fragrance of a flower kept in front or light a candle and focus on its flame or take a straw and blow air into it etc. Such activities done together will help improve the focus, concentration and memory of the child, will help him succeed in life since he will learn to do things with a steady mind.

The idea is to use the senses correctly and only when required, not indiscriminately without a thought to it. A knife at home is to be used for cutting vegetables. Similarly, our senses will show us everything but we should know how and when to use it and for what purpose. Let’s decide and make an effort to discipline ourselves.”

– Smt. Hansaji J. Yogendra


Satsang is an open meeting held every Sunday from 9:30 to 10:30 am at The Yoga Institute, Santacruz East, Mumbai. It involves an interesting presentation to the public, made by the students of the Teacher Training Course. Each week, a new presentation of a Yogic concept is made in a simple way through skits and decoration for the general public, followed by a short speech from our Gurus, Dr. Jayadeva and Smt. Hansaji Yogendra.
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