The Origin And Development of Preksha Dhyana
Q. While mentioning the objectives of your Punjab tour, you said that in your work you are guided by two viewpoints — that of anuvrat and preksha dhyana. Anuvrat is a unique achievement of your life. This fact is now well proved by the activities of the past three decades. The talk of preksha dhyana is somewhat new. There are many questions in the public mind about it. How did it originate and why? What values do you wish to establish through it in society? Is this also an extensive movement like Anuvrat? There are some other questions, too. Will you kindly tell us about it at length?
Ans. Jain munis do not stay at one place for long. So travelling on foot becomes an indispensable part of their life. They are, in fact, pledged to a life of travel and are always on the move. But if their journey is imbued with some special aim, it acquires greater significance. I have been travelling on foot for the last 53 years. During the first 23 years, the scope and aim of my pilgrimage were limited. The frontiers were, however, extended; the objectives became more clear and comprehensive, and my foot-pilgrimage took a new turn. This turn occurred 30 years ago when I began my anuvrat journey. The journey extended much farther. Pilgrimages were made from the north to the south, i.e. from Punjab to Kanya-Kumari. During these tours, foundations were laid of a religion, which was finding recognition as simple religion without any epithet before it. Through it communal prejudices began to be demolished, and a pure non-sectarian religion emerged.
Anuvrat started a new experiment of bringing about a revolution in thought in the field of religion. Treating the external structure of religion as secondary, it has given primary importance to its essential spirit. Earlier, formal worship which is a secondary aspect of religion, was mistakenly given precedence over spirituality which is the soul of religion. Anuvrat halted this reversal of values caused by relegating the primary to the secondary and accepting the secondary as primary. It gave precedence to spirituality. A widespread, illusory conception was abandoned resulting in greater clarity and the re-establishment of spiritual values. It once again awakened people’s faith in spirituality. They displayed greater interest and the urge to practice religion in the laboratory of life became stronger.
The discussion on spirituality unwittingly created the background for preksha dhyana. The seed of preksha was sown the day anuvrat started its campaign for a revolution in thought. For years, this seed was nurtured within. After maturing inside, it sprouted forth and flowered at the appropriate time. From this viewpoint, preksha is no unexpected happening. It is not a sudden jump out of the void. Its origin is the, culmination of a process; it has a whole history behind it. It emerged into existence after creating for itself a solid base.
Q You are the preceptor of the anuvrat movement. – Did you have any concept of preksha dhyana in your mind at the time of starting the movement? Or is it only in the present decade that emphasis is being laid on preksha dhyana, keeping in view people’s growing interest in meditation and yoga? You just said that preksha dhyana is no sudden achievement. But then why did it remain unprojected before the public for so many years?
Ans. Anuvrat and preksha dhyana originated almost together; though at the time I had no conception of ‘preksha’ in my mind. But, for the creation of the kind of ground I required for anuvrat, it was not possible to ignore the inevitable requirement of dhyana-sadhana. The sapling of anuvrat bloomed earlier because it was connected with the gross world, with the behavioural aspect of life. But preksha is concerned with the subtle world, the inner aspect of life, and it took a long time to develop, and still longer to bear fruit. As the conception of moral values took root among the people, the spiritual thirst increased. For the individual smitten by spiritual thirst, preksha dhyana is an infallible means of self-realization.
At the very outset we had proclaimed that spirituality is the basis of morality. Some thinkers recognize patriotism as the basis of morality; others recognize social welfare to be the inspiration behind morality. The Chinese philosopher, Confucius laid great emphasis upon moral values for achieving happiness, prosperity and equilibrium in life. Again, the preceptor of Taoism, Laotse, too, conceived of an ideal society and held simplicity and straightforwardness to be the most excellent behavior. The Indian ethics also give outstanding importance to the concepts of this world and the other world in the perspective of morality. But our perception is quite different. We have accepted spirituality to be the fundamental basis of morality. Because it is only in the spiritual man that moral action can flower. Similarly, spiritual development, too, is more likely to flourish on the ground of moral behavior.
In the initial stages of the anuvrat movement, we had not laid any special emphasis upon dhyana-sadhana. But once the principle of morality was well established in the public consciousness and faith in moral conduct was strengthened, need was felt for special experiments of sadhana with a view to making that conduct stable. For this, anuvrat training shivirs were organised.
The form of preksha dhyana first emerged at the 21-day shivir organised at the Spiritual Meditation Centre, Mehrauli, in Delhi. This shivir was held in 1966 and in respect of both time and technique stood distinct from all the shivirs held till then. In that shivir, beside morality, a good deal of discussion was held on spirituality, and some exercises were also performed. During this progranune of spiritual churning, there were present many people who were vitally interested in spirituality. Notable among these were Morarji Bhai Desai, Srimannarain, Dada Dharmadhikari, Gopinath Aman, Jainendra Kumar, etc. Since at that time I was not in Delhi, I was not present at this shivir. However, in close proximity with and under the direction of Muni Nathmalji (now Yuvacharya Mahaprajna) good work was accomplished there. In a way this camp became a meeting point of spiritual and moral ideologies. Referring to this fact, Srimannarainji said at that time, “It appears to me that this sadhana-site will become a centre from which rays of spirituality will.transmit light to all the people of the world.”
During that long shivir, some spiritual books were also studied. Comprehensive discussions took place on important topics relating to mental peace. Deliberations were held on spiritual experiments in the context of the present-day problems of the world. In all, this shivir created a stir in the intellectual world. It was after this shivir that the seed of preksha began to sprout forth. Emphasis was now being laid on meditation, along with anuvrat. To the Anuvrat Code of Conduct, we added two more items — meditation and study. This created a distinctive atmosphere and it seemed as if preparations were on for the manifestation of some important element.
Now began to be held more meditation camps than anuvrat shivirs. Adequate interest was created among the people in respect of dhyana-sadhana. But still no shivirs were held under the name of preksha dhyana. About 2-3 years ago, an organised and comprehensive form of meditation technique was developed which came to be recognized as preksha dhyana. Preksha dhyana is the next stage of the anuvrat programme. From one point of view it is a developed form of anuvrat, from another, a successful method of giving a practical shape to the theoretical aspect of anuvrat.
Thirty years ago (in 1950), I toured Punjab. Anuvrat was the main objective of my pilgrimage then. The matter of spirituality or meditation was secondary at that time, and therefore was only incidentally touched upon. Now that the next stage of anuvrat had been developed, in. my second tour of Punjab I added to anuvrat, preksha dhyana as well. In fact, anuvrat and preksha dhyana are complementary to each other. We believe that their fullness and vigor would serve to make public life, too, more vital and complete.