Aaraadhana araadhan neeka Har Har naam araadhana.
Meditating and remembering. It is so beautiful to remember the Divine Identity.
-Guru Arjan Dev ji. Ang 1081, Siri Guru Granth Sahib
This line comes from one of my favorite shabads in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. I am not sure what it is about this particular shabad, but from the first time I heard it, it has held a special place my heart.
This word – araadhana – is so difficult to understand in English. It has no equal in the English language. When you look in the dictionaries, you see the different facets of what araadhana points to. Meditation. Remembering. Worshiping.
The Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan, used to talk about araadhana as a progression of sadhana. He said,
“I tell you today and I’ll tell you tomorrow and I’ll tell you every day: You have only one friend – you and your discipline which will give you all that you need. The rest are all promises. After studying every scripture of every religion and what I went through, I have found that there are three words: sadhana,araadhana and prabhupati. Sadhana means discipline, araadhana means perfecting the discipline and prabhupati means you will become the Lord Master of God Itself. Now, should I bring you any other news? “ (From The Master’s Touch. July 20, 1996.)
After so many years of contemplating this term, araadhana, it is only now beginning to become clear to me. I used to think that perfecting the discipline meant getting up every single day at 3:30 am, taking a cold shower and doing a flawless 2.5 hour amrit vela sadhana; an absolutely perfect execution of form. This vision of araadhana would be reserved for those extraordinary people who never miss a day or even a minute of sadhana; in other words, not me.
But as I have gotten older, that notion of perfecting the discipline has gone through a quiet shift. It is no longer so much about the form of sadhana, but about its effect.
When we wake up in the ambrosial hours and meditate, it is a very special time for the soul and the mind to speak with each other. The deepest, most sensitive voice within us is our Infinite self. During sadhana, we measure our past, our actions, and our intentions for the future against that vast inner sensitivity.
Sadhana is like taking a plane to a higher altitude, where we see the journey of our life from a wider and more detached perspective. And in that height, our mind evolves. It can break through its blocks, or recognize a trap, or have an intuitive insight about what to do.
But as the sun rises, and our focus turns back towards the earth, these etheric insights from sadhana can evaporate like the morning dew. In the hustle and bustle of every day life, our habits pull us along. Something in the depth of our spirit may whisper, “Make a different choice,” but the mind may not be able to do it. Then, the next morning in sadhana, the review begins again. We realize, “Oh – I could have done that this way, instead!” We go to the height. We are reminded of how to behave and how to walk through life. We are called to remember.
We are called to araadhana.
Araadhana is the blessed moment when, in the midst of worldly pressures, we can access that meditative consciousness, remember what we saw or heard or felt in our sadhana, and act in alignment with it. Ultimately, that is what worship means. Worship is not an internal admiration of the Divine, but an expressed love that is the Divine in action.
When we access the clarity of our sadhana during the day, and we demonstrate what we learned in sadhana through our actions, this is worship. This is the true Simran — meditation and remembrance. This is, in my humble view, what araadhana means.
Araadhana refers to the play of heaven and earth, of bringing the wisdom of sadhana into every moment of life. In this respect, it does not matter how “good” or “bad” one’s daily practice is. What matters is the commitment we have within us to bridge the consciousness we access in sadhana to the consciousness with which we live our lives.
Araadhana can happen for a moment here and a moment there. Over time, it can happen for an hour or a morning. Eventually, if one is very blessed by grace, it can become perpetual. Morning and night, every moment, remembering our Divine Identity and living in accordance with it.
It takes time. It takes practice. It is a way of progressing through life. But as Guru Arjan Dev Ji explains, being in this state ofaraadhana creates a very beautiful life.
With Divine Light,