How to Remain Anchored in the Soul

January 2, 2022 | Global Gita | Blog

We often say we are able to understand this teaching, but not able to retain it. The ability to retain and hold on to it is known as dhrti, as Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha beautifully explains in this practical and pertinent segment.

Dhrti, just like everything else in this objective world, is subject to the three gunas – the three modes of nature – sattva, rajas and tamas.

Sattvika dhrti is what anchors one to yoga buddhi. Yoga buddhi is when the Soul dimension is projected in the intelligence, bringing forth qualities such as unaffectedness, impersonality and universality.

Rajasika dhrti activates us with bhoga buddhi (the tendency towards enjoyment, working egoistically). Finally tamasika dhriti immerses one in moha (delusion, wrong understanding).

To put it simply, says Swamiji, yoga, bhoga and moha, represent sattvaguna, rajoguna and tamoguna respectively. All three are generally present in all of us.

As seekers on this path, our focus must be on cultivating more and more sattvika dhrti. As Krishna says in verse 33 of the 18th chapter;

धृत्या यया धारयते मन:प्राणेन्द्रियक्रिया: |
योगेनाव्यभिचारिण्या धृति: सा पार्थ सात्त्विकी || 33||

dhṛtyā yayā dhārayate manaḥ-prāṇendriya-kriyāḥ
yogenāvyabhicāriṇyā dhṛtiḥ sā pārtha sāttvikī

“With that dhrti, the mind, vital energies and sense organs all hold on to yoga in a non-desultory manner. Such a dhrti (which arises from the sattvika buddhi) is known as sattvika dhrti.”

Avyabhicari (non-desultory) is an important word for us to understand. Swamiji explains that vyabhicari means desultory, inconsistent. It is when we flit from one state to the other (for example from yoga to bhoga and back). Sattvika dhrti provides the one-pointed dedication and persistence of the buddhi to follow yoga and hold on to the Truth.

When the buddhi helps us differentiate between bondage and liberation, it is the drhti that allows us to follow it.  It enables us to use our viveka (discrimination) effectively so that it will be naturally followed by the right measure of vairagya (dispassion). This is how vairagya automatically follows viveka.

An interesting fact Swamiji pointed out is that physical features can reveal very deep-seated traits such as stealth. While facial expressions are flexible and respond accordingly to emotions, structural features such as formation of toes and other gross features of the body indicate a far deeper impact of traits and tendencies. Such traits are so deeply engrained that they are extremely difficult to rectify, often resulting in the person having no choice but to simply accept that this is how they are.

A crucial point for us to remember is that while the buddhi can become enlightened with the help of the Self-realized Teacher, dhrti will only come from our own sadhana. It is not enough to have sharp intelligence. We must make the effort to do the sadhana and cultivate sattvika dhrti. In Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna gives a two-pronged approach of abhyasa (practice) and vairagya. The most powerful abhyasa is vichara (introspection).

Swamiji explains in a purely rational and scientific manner that abhyasa provides the centripetal force that anchors us within. Vairagya reduces the centrifugal force created by the outside pull of the objective world, which takes us away from the center.

Therefore, Swamiji concludes, we must generate more of the centripetal force through abhyasa, and diminish the centrifugal force through vairagya. Ultimately this is the only way to develop dhrti, and remain anchored in our real identity, the Soul.