Mantra should be the focus; and once the mantra is done then that is your time to sit as long as mind wishes to. It is like those old hand pumps which used to pump water, if you have ever seen one. When it dried up one would just put some water into it and pump until it brought out the water. Once the water started coming then you pumped just once and there was lots of water. Pumping just once would bring up approximately 200-300 ml of water, maybe more. But once the pump dries up, you need to put some water in it and then use your arm strength to pump in continuity until it brings up the water lying below the ground. Maybe that rubbery part gets dried up so it cannot lift the water; same goes for the mantra anushthan. So, you are putting the mantra in the mind and pumping and pumping, meaning you are chanting and chanting until it brings out that inner joy and silence from within. There are going to be moments when you don’t want to do the mantra but mantra is required because that is what anushthan means: you have to do it. Otherwise if there is no work, meaning you can go on and on doing the mantra but then you will lose count and then how will you know whether you have done your 15 or 20 mala? It might be very lucrative and we wish to go into that silent zone but as tempting as that might be, in anushthan we have to forego that. Once we have finished doing the fixed number of mala we had decided to undertake for ourself, then one can sit for as long as one wishes to.

It’s like you are reconditioning and reprogramming your mind. You are creating that space in which your mind is going to stop hankering for external relationships, external bondages and external dependencies. Actually, it’s more like I would say an emotional slavery. There is one slavery in which someone is chained but in one there is no chain and yet you are bonded in the burden of that relationship. Then you think I can’t live without this person or this person is my, the very clichéd word is, ‘soulmate.’ Although there is a s-o-u-l but that particular soulmate is soon going to turn into s-o-l-e, that is, the sole of your foot. Because one day that very soulmate is going to kick you. Moving from one emotional slavery to another is not good. Your masters have changed but the slavery remains the same.

If I don’t get tea at 4pm, I’ll have a headache – this is slavery. If I don’t get fruits every morning, I will not feel good – slavery. If I don’t sleep in my own bed, I can’t sleep nicely - slavery. If I don’t eat rice, I don’t feel full – slavery. See how the slaveries are there in your mind. If I don’t sleep in a particular position - be it on my back, my side, the left side or the right side, or if I need a pillow, a third pillow, or two or four pillows: even this is a slavery - from food to bedding to relationships. Another example is – “Oh, if I don’t see this particular person, I feel very sad.” All Bollywood songs are for that only. They are sad that their beloved is not there, but the great woman mystic Meera says, “I don’t wish to be betrothed to a person who can die, leave me, ditch me or deceive me. This means my betrothed has to be someone who doesn’t leave me, deceive me, die or get separated from me. There is only one then.” For Meera that was Krishna, for somebody else it might be Rama, Shiva, for a Nirguni, meaning one worshipping the Formless like Kabir and Guru Nanak Sahib, it’s not a God with form, it’s the Formless. They say that we don’t want to waste a minute in this.

The mantra is actually going to slowly work in all these areas. We are creating that vibe, that environment in the mind where the mind is going to slowly enjoy so much within. Feel peaceful within, joyful within, then the need for the external world, worldly objects or people just dies on its own. When this happens that is called dispassion, vairagya. It’s not that you leave everybody and everything and then you sit down and wait, now okay I have vairagya in me or not, that’s not vairagya. Isolating yourself from society is not vairagya. But when you have the inner dip, that’s when you enjoy the inner joy, when you are so contented that now the world doesn’t exist for you - that is vairagya. That is dispassion, that is detachment. Usually sadhus, renunciates, think that the world is bad so they leave the world and go to a Guru’s ashram or undertake pilgrimage to a holy place. But that’s not true, because if the mind is obsessed with the world then even if you live in some ashram or temple, because your mind is possessive and seeking joy in the external world, you will find somebody there to have a relationship with.

Actually, this ashram is the best place to find a partner because you will think, ‘Oh, likeminded people are coming here. We will all be meditators so we will meditate together and I know of so many who said, okay we have found someone and now we are getting married… okay, fine. Blessings to them. Oh yes, it is fine. But then it doesn’t work even for them because that stupidity of mind is still the same. That is the mind which is looking for joy from external sources. This mind is a stupid mind. Well, when you are in a collegethen it’s a different story as you are meeting lots of people. But when you are out of college, just at home or working in an office, what are the chances of meeting people? Comparatively few. Now, every day so many people are coming to this Ashram, every Sunday there are over 500 people coming, in retreats there are over 3000 people out of which at least 500-600 are young ones so, so many options! It’s like having a swayamvara to choose from! Many come for this very reason only; many families I know come for this reason that they will find some good family who regularly come to the ashram. But simply coming to an ashram is not a guarantee that the person has a spiritual bent of mind; there’s no guarantee at all.

The mind which is stuck in this whole mess needs to be moved into a space where there is only one thing left in the mind and that is the mantra. So mantra, mantra, mantra, mantra yes, few thoughts here and there will come, fine. But out of say, 100 maybe 50 times it will be mantra and not thoughts, then maybe it will be 60%, then 70% then one day 80% , then 90% , then there is a possibility that it is just 100% mantra and no worldly thought. That is when your mind would like to be in silence. It’s like re-wiring the mind and that’s the beauty of doing an anushthan when you select a fixed number of mantra, that I will do this many mantras and then you are doing it, so it is a discipline and you follow that. And you follow it - whatever maybe the external or physical situations or circumstances, you stick to that discipline.

Once, when I was still very young, maybe 12 or 13 years old, I undertook a mantra anushthan sankalpa of doing 1 lakh 25 thousand Shiva mantras and visiting shivalaya every day - it went on very nicely. I was going to school but still I managed to do my japam and go to the temple also. Now one day, as usual, I went to school, visited an ashram close by, did my homework, performed chores at home to help my mother, and in all of this I kind of totally missed going to the temple. It was 10 pm when it struck me that I hadn’t gone to the temple that particular day! Now those were the days when girls were not allowed to go out at night. And everybody was home, my father too, so I wouldn’t be allowed to go out. So, I jumped from my roof top to my neighbour’s rooftop, walked down the stairs because I knew that my neighbour was an old man and his daughter who would both be fast asleep because they slept pretty early, by 8 pm or so. So, if I took that route, my family would not know. I opened the door and in the dead of night I went to the temple. Obviously the temple was closed but I had to complete my ritual, my vow, so I had to visit. I did my pranaam at the doorstep of the shivalaya came back, went into the neighbour’s house, locked the door, climbed the stairs, scaled the wall, jumped onto my rooftop, walked down the stairs and went into my room. And my parents to this day don’t know that I used to do this so many times, they had no clue. They simply had no clue!

The point is that you have to remember to do your japa; you have to remember all of the things you might be involved in and yet the mind is on one track. Then there is no place left for mind to wander and do stupidities, that’s the beauty of doing any anushthan where you discipline the mind, rewire the mind, reform the mind and clip its wings so that it doesn’t just go here and there. A wandering mind needs some anchor so mantra is the anchor. It might not happen very quickly because every mind is different. For some it might be that they have done all the 40 days of mantra jap and they didn’t experience anything like this. Hence the need of praying to the Almighty is there. How prayerful you are, how kind you are matters. It is said that the place where an aspirant, a sadhak goes, sits and meditates like this ashram for example, in Punjab they have a tradition that people take the dust of that place and put it on their forehead that maybe God knows how many great sadhaks come there and the dust of their feet might change their own destiny. Sothey will brush their hand on that ground or that floor and then they will place that dust on the forehead with this hope that may I receive the blessings of some sadhu, some sage, some mahatma, some good sadhak who is doing sadhana regularly and is more evolved, more higher than me.