Chapter III: The Siddhis (the land marks on the path of yoga)
Samadhi, the immediate goal of yogic life was discussed in chapter one (Samadhi Pada). Sadhana Pada, the second chapter gave us a preparatory technique to achieve this goal.
The specially of the 8-fold path (Ashtanga Yoga) of Patanjali is its being a systematic and scientific process. There is no mysterious jump in the unknown here. The first five steps (Bahiranga Yoga) prepare us for the last three (Antaranga Yoga). Yama and Niyama help us overcome emotional disturbances while Asanas (Postures) and Pranayama (breathing) prepare our system to be a fit instrument for advance steps by removing the physical and pranic disturbances. Pratyahara (sense control) takes care of our extrovert tendencies.
Now the mind is already to plunge deep within it own recesses and the first step is Dharana. The sutra is:-
Desa - Bandha Chittasya Dharana
Desa = Desa (place) Bandha = Bandha (fixing) Chittasya = Chittasya of mind.
"Fixing the mind within a limited area is Dharana (III/1).
Like any other Yogic technique, it is very difficult to understand the full significance of Dharana until we practice it.
Many a people equate Dharana with concentration. In the process of concentration, through the mind has one single object retained by it, it keeps on wandering from one aspect of the object to the other. While concentrating on a rose we may take in account its fragrance, colour, texture, thorns etc. The object is single but thoughts, though related to each other, are multiple.
In Dharana, it is single object and single thought. All the energy of mind is fixed totally on a single, undivided object to the exclusion of all. There is no word equivalent of Dharana in English. But in the state of Dharana the rose is retained in mind exactly as it is retained in the eye of a camera-whole, undivided. This complete holding is Dharana.
We can recall the beautiful episode from Mahabharata to illustrate an example of Dharana in which Dronacharya, the master archer keeps a fake bird on a tree asking his disciples to shoot the eye of the bird.
While other, when asked before shooting, describe the entire scene of bird and tree in detail, Arjuna says he could see nothing except the eye of the bird. And his arrow hits the target perfectly. It is this capacity of Dharana which makes Arjuna a great archer. Sometimes we do pass through the phase of Dharana when our entire mind isfocused in trying to recall the name of a forgot ton friend.
Dharana is a sort of intense concentration and helps us tap the hidden sources of the mind. But it is very powerful and requires a lot of effort. Effortless Dharana turns into Dhyana (Meditation) about which we will see in next issue.