I have been studying the shastras from 8-9 years now and have accumulated some valuable knowledge with great difficulty. However I am not learning any of this under a guru since I can hardly find one. I started reading the shastras only out of curiosity at first and I started early because of an early life crisis. However my studies intensified and so did my sadhana. It took me ears to have a strong conviction on what I had learnt. I dabbled into various schools including tibetan Buddhism which I think has borrowed a lot from tantric schools. At first so many different paths confused me and it was hard for me to reconcile. It was probably because I desperately wanted to have a strong conviction on one principle where as in reality there is no need to have such a strong conviction.
Then again it is impossible to progress without Nishta. To attain Nishta there has to be faith. Thankfully my undying devotion is towards the wielder of sudarshana and hence I tried to reconcile everything that i learnt with bhagavad geetha. A student without a guru is indeed like an orphan or a blind man. So I considered Achyuta as my guru. For he is the mine of fortune to the unfortunate.
Although convinced of the truth, my next obstacle was physical and mental weakness. Although I am not weak in general, I figured, for an actual sincere practice I have to be very strong. Since a couple of months I have been learning Asanas as taught by sri pattabhi jois and the transformation has been magical to say the least.
Now here is my next hurdle. I want to know clearly what is dharana. Is dharana a mental dharana or that which is both physical and mental. I also feel that the reason many sadhus apply various marks on the forehead is because of their 'dharana'. Is this true?