Spiritual guide Sri M on meditation

The book ‘On Meditation’ by renowned spiritual guide and educationist Sri M has turned out to be comforting for many during the lockdown.

Spiritual guide Sri M on meditation

This writer met him during the release of his fourth book, On Meditation. When asked if he expected a good response, he had said, “It's better to wait for a few months for feedback. I have to give people time to read, practise and analyse the subject. The chapters in the book are a result of whatever people have been asking me over the years during my discourses and Satsangs,” said Sri M, who heads the Satsang Foundation at Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh.

Today Sri M is happy that copies of On Meditation are flying off the shelves of book stores, especially during the lockdown. “With silence around, it seems to have been the perfect time for people to indulge in introspection,” says Sri M on phone from Madanapalle. He was also conferred the Padma Bhushan earlier this year for his lifetime contributions as a spiritual guide, social reformer and educationist.

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Born as Mumtaz Ali Khan in a Muslim family at Thiruvananthapuram in 1948, M as a little boy was attracted to Vedic teachings. He followed his mind to reach the Himalayas for years of meditation and finding a guru. “ My Guru Babaji at the Himalayas called me Madhukar Nath. I learnt from my personal teacher Maheshwarnath Babaji about meditation and about being a true human, Manav. So I chose to be called M, although people call me Sri M out of respect,” he says. The Padma award has come as a shot in the arm for Sri M, which, he says will make him continue his social work with greater vigour.

In his book, Sri M has sieved the essential to bring out 99 questions that have been answered in nine chapters, the idea being to connect with the people. Excerpts from an interview:

Spiritual guide Sri M on meditation

Why did you want to write a book on meditation when there are many proclaimed gurus on the subject?

My main idea was to demystify an established and time-honoured practice, which has been drawn into the commercial sphere. This has confused people. I thought it best to make meditation simple with in-depth explanations and tell people to Do-It-Themselves. Every nuance is answered in the question-and-answer format. All these were questions posed to me in India, Australia, England, Switzerland and many more countries.

How long did it take to write this book?

In 2019, the Penguin Editor came up with the suggestion of a book that answers everything about meditation. I said I already have them all recorded as part of my addressing people all over the globe. It took me just a month to get them all together, and bring in a few more to fill up the blanks. I wanted to make it easy to comprehend and less esoteric.

Spiritual guide Sri M on meditation

How exactly do you explain what meditation is and why should one meditate?

Meditation is a wide concept and it refers to the three parts of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras — Dharana (the practice that puts one’s mind in one stream of thought); Dhyana (matures into one continuous process) and Samadhi (where one can experience and understand a sustained Dhyana). When you can do this for a period of time without distraction and forget that you are meditating, that is the state of meditation. Whatever one is subjected to — happiness or sorrow — what one finally seeks is inner bliss.

So regular practice is the key for meditation...

Patience and one-pointed attention is required for remaining tranquil under all circumstances. This is achieved through constant practice in meditation. I advise my followers not to just think of meditation as a technique. A beginner must find at least half an hour a day to practise meditation that shouldn’t be looked at as a chore, but as an experiment. I always tell people that only regular practice whilst 'feeling the inner self' can get you there, and there is no compromise. And mere reading about meditation for a readymade formula may help initially for gaining knowledge.

What would you underline as points to note in the book?

If someone goes through the whole book with a theory-based approach, more and more questions will appear. Even for practice, the book doesn't answer all the questions. People want to know what they should wear while meditating, whether to keep eyes open or closed, if one can meditate after alcohol consumption, can music or sloka be part of the exercise, or even if improper food and overeating interfere with meditation. I would say, please go through the book that has easy-to-practise concepts and explanations and lend yourself to the meditative routine first. Then start with simple dhyana. The more you do, the more you can relate to the suggestions given. Improper diet, for example, will play havoc on your gut which is the second brain. It is best to begin meditation in teenage, which is a turbulent decisive phase. Meditation and yoga, therefore should be part of high school curriculum to have the body and mind trained.

Your childhood years and the gurus who have influenced you...

My father, a PWD contractor, was a graduate in Indian philosophy from the Kerala University, who practised Yoga. He studied Malayalam and Sanskrit. I know he had a copy of the book on Gayatri Mantra, which he read for his general knowledge. His open-mindedness helped me in pursuing my interests. My mother on the other hand did not quite approve but was silent because of her abundant love for me. The lives of great people such as Ramana Maharishi, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Swami Vivekananda had an influence on me, while Swami Tapasyananda of the Ramakrishna Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, helped me immensely to get associated with the best of vedantic scriptures for study.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 2:15:08 PM |

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