View Full Version : Illness and sadhana

Eastern Mind
25 August 2011, 10:03 PM
Vannakkam: How sick does one have to be to not do sadhana? It you're vomiting, etc? high fever? Injured? Where does your mind draw the line? Just curious to know what other's view is on this. Are there any scriptural guidelines?

Aum Namasivaya

25 August 2011, 10:17 PM
I guess it depends on an individual's dedication, will power and Lord's desire for him to be able to serve Him.

It will definitely be different for different people. Our thresholds to carry out our normal duties vary a lot. That is why some people never take a sick day off in their whole lives and others look for the flimsiest excuse to take a sick day off.

26 August 2011, 12:23 AM
If carrying on sadhana would make the sickness worse, why do so?

Our body is a machine, why keep wearing it out instead of setting aside to apply some oil when needed? ;)

26 August 2011, 01:20 AM

EM, it's a very good question. My opinion is that sickness is a test to sādhanā. Do we think of God only when it is easy, or does He fill our thoughts and feelings even when mentally and physically depleted? If we continue sādhanā when ill, is it out of pride and stubbornness in having a "perfect record," or because the idea of a single day without God in it is inconceivable?

Someone who is very ill can still pray, chant the holy names, or do mental worship, and in the case of illness or injury, sādhanā should be very basic, accounting for the limitations and condition of the worshipper. God does not want us hurting ourselves in service, I think...

I am not trying to brush off the realities of illness and pain; I have experienced both for long periods of time and know how discouraging and debilitating they can be. But we may pray when sick, even show gratitude for pain and illness that is also of God, that teaches us not to be afraid, that pushes us to reach more intently for God. Sickness can be an opportunity for the aspirant to withdraw inward and simply clasp God quietly to the heart, while physically unable to perform the external forms of worship. This too is sādhanā.

There is an interesting and illustrative story that this question brings to mind (from Swami Śivananda's book Lord Śiva and His Worship, if I remember correctly). A blind devotee is walking everywhere, constantly chanting Amba, Śiva, Amba, Śiva, and Śiva and Pārvatī are watching him, greatly pleased. But in his wandering, he begins to approach a cliff unaware, and Pārvatī asks Śiva to please hurry and help. They begin to argue over who should be the one to save him, since he is speaking both of their names. Finally, Śiva suggests that, since they can save him at any moment, they should wait until he falls. If he shouts "Amba!", then Pārvatī should be his rescuer, and if "Śiva!", then Śiva would go.

The man falls, and shouts "AIIIEEEEEOU!!!"
Pārvatī looks at Śiva, mystified, and asks, "Are you AIIIEEEEEOU?"
"No," he replies, equally perplexed. "Are you?"

Such is the danger of forgetting God in times of great trial!

Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.