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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 1: Asinadhikaranam: Topic 6 (Sutras 7-10)

One is to meditate sitting.

Asinah sambhavat IV.1.7 (484)

Sitting (a man is to meditate) on account of the possibility.

Asinah: sitting; Sambhavat: on account of the possibility.

The posture of the meditator while engaged in meditation is now discussed.

In Karmanga Upasanas there is no question as to whether they should be done sitting or standing as they depend on the particular Karma. In pure realisation or perfect intuition there could be no such question as it depends on the object of realisation. In other Upasanas sitting is necessary for meditation.

The Purvapakshin here maintains that as the meditation is something mental there can be no restriction as to the attitude of the body.

This Sutra says that one has to meditate sitting, because it is not possible to meditate while standing or lying down. Sitting is necessary for meditation because Upasana is the continuity of mental state and such continuity will not exist when one walks or runs because then the mind will attend to the body and cannot concentrate, or when one lies down because then he will be soon overpowered by sleep.

In Upasana one has to concentrate one's mind on a single object. This is not possible if one is standing or lying. The mind of a standing man is directed on maintaining the body in an erect position and therefore incapable of reflection on any subtle matter.

A sitting person may easily avoid these several occurrences and is, therefore, in a position to carry on his meditation. The sitting posture contributes that composure of mind which is the sine qua non of meditation. Meditation is to be practised in a sitting posture, as in that case only meditation is practicable.

Dhyanaccha IV.1.8 (485)

And on account of meditation.

Dhyanat: on account of meditation; Cha: and.

An argument in support of Sutra 7 is adduced.

Further, such continuity of thought is Dhyana or meditation. It can come only when the limbs are not active and the mind is calm.

Upasana (worship) being mainly of the nature of concentration, should be practised in a sitting posture, which is conducive to concentration. Concentration being an uninterrupted and unintermittent current of thought sent towards a particular object, the sitting posture becomes indispensable.

The word 'Upasana' also denotes exactly what meditation means, that is concentrating on a single object with a fixed look, and without any movement of the limbs. This is possible only in a sitting posture.

Meditation denotes a lengthened carrying of the same train of ideas. We ascribe thoughtfulness to those whose mind is concentrated on one and the same object while their look is fixed and their limbs do not move. We say that Sri Ramakrishna is thoughtful. Now such thoughtfulness is easy for those who sit. The wife sits and thinks deeply over her husband gone in a distant journey.

Dhyana or meditation is thinking on one subject continuously, without the inrush of ideas incongruous with the subject of thought. Such meditation is possible in a sitting posture only and not while lying down or standing etc. Therefore, a sitting posture should be adopted both for prayers as well as for meditation.

The distraction of mind is minimised when one meditates in a sitting posture.

We, therefore, conclude herefrom also that meditation is the occupation of a sitting person.

Achlatvam chapekshya IV.1.9 (486)

And with reference to immobility (the scriptures ascribe meditativeness to the earth).

Achalatvam: immobility, stability, steadiness; Cha: and, indeed; Apekshya: referring to, aiming at, pointing to.

The argument in support of Sutra 7 is continued.

The word 'cha' has the force of 'indeed'. In the Chhandogya Upanishad the root 'Dhyana' or meditation is employed in the sense of motionlessness.

With reference to the immobility of the earth in ordinary eye, the scripture fancies the earth as being engaged in concentration, as if it remains fixed in space in the act of pious meditation. It suggests that such a steady application of the mind can be attained by meditating only in a sitting posture.

If the body is at rest, there is rest for the mind also; if the body is in motion, i.e., restless, the mind too becomes restless.

In the passage, "The earth meditates as it were", meditativeness is attributed to earth on account of its immobility or steadiness. This also helps us to infer that meditation is possible in one when he is sitting and not while standing or walking.

Steadiness accompanies meditation. Steadiness of body and mind is possible only while sitting and not while standing or walking.

Smaranti cha IV.1.10 (487)

The Smriti passages also say (the same thing).

Smaranti: the Smriti texts say, it is mentioned in the Smritis; Cha: also.

The argument in support of Sutra 7 is concluded.

Authoritative authors also teach in their Smritis that a sitting posture subserve the act of meditation, e.g., "Having made a firm seat for one's self on a pure spot" (Bhagavad Gita VI.11).

For the same reason the Yoga-Sastra teaches different postures, viz., Padmasana, Siddhasana, etc.