Early in the Morning

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Worshipful adorations to the sacred spiritual presence of beloved and worshipful Holy Master Guru Maharaj Sri Swami Sivanandaji, into whose presence and proximity you are all fortunate enough to draw near, day by day, morning after morning, to start the day in as sublime and perfect a way as it is possible to start it.

Pratah smarami, pratar-bhajami, pratar-namami (I remember Thee early morning, I worship Thee early morning, I bow down to Thee early morning). With these words several of the hymns of salutations and adorations, several of the well known slokas of Adi Sankaracharya begin. So much so, that this triplet of verses has come to be known as the pratah smarami stotra.

What is the speciality about praying early in the morning, worshipping God early in the morning? Mahatma Gandhi, in Sabarmati Ashram, as well as Sevagram, used to hold their morning prayers when it was still semi-dark. There is a reason. There is a speciality in this early morning hour.

“Start the day with God,” they say in the West. And very shrewdly, with a touch of humour, there is also a saying, “The early bird catches the worm,” which means it pays dividends to be early. The earlier you are up, the more time you have. The more time you have, the less hurried you are, the less under pressure you are. The less under pressure you are, the less tension, which is better for your health, your heart, your blood pressure, your entire nervous system, even your digestion. This is the pragmatic reason. If you are up early, you have greater leisure. If you are not up early, you are more hard-pressed for time, and it is not good to start a day being pushed for time.

But what is the higher meaning? The higher meaning is that it is a period when your consciousness is in the most suitable condition to receive higher impulses from the inner world of the Spirit, the divine world; your consciousness is most sensitive as well as receptive. Your inner antahkarana, the normal human consciousness, which you exercise during your active hours of waking, is in its most calm and sattvic condition at this hour. This is conducive to introspection and prayerfulness.

For, when you are fully awake and have started to move in this world, your entire mind is outgoing. It is completely drawn into the world of the many, into the field of names and forms and ever-changing activities. So it is completely occupied and caught up, dominated by the visible, the outer, the material, the phenomenon. Therefore it is not available to receive higher impulses, unless it has been trained to receive them even in this state of being completely drawn out. Then too, that same mind when it is caught in deep sleep is totally unreceptive and completely closed to all higher impulses, sublime divine impulses.

But in the early dawn the antahkarana is freed from the tamas of sleep and is still yet free from the domination of the rajas of the outer world, the compulsions and impulsions that catch it and draw it into this very hectic field of many tasks to be done, many people to see, and very diverse types of thought forms, due to the diverse fields in which the mind is required to be engaged and involved in.

So you are free in this interim period from both the handicaps of the sleep state as well as the shortcomings and involvements of the fully wakened state. Here, therefore, is a period of openness, of receptivity, of sattva—a period most suitable, most propitious—when you can give yourself a lift and enter into God. And that sets the tone for the entire day.

If in this way you start the day with God, you start with pratah smarami, pratar-bhajami, pratar-namami, then the whole day is beautifully qualified with this bhav or attitude of prostration, of worship, of remembrance. And that is the secret of being in the world but yet abiding in God—being in kriya (action), yet inwardly there is a centre of silence, nishkriya (without action).

A mystical poet has beautifully given to us, in brief, this little secret of the right way of starting one’s day, so that one reaps a golden harvest of fullest benefit from this charming, this wonderful, this magic period of the early dawn.

I met God in the morning
    When my day was of its best,
And His Presence came like sunrise,
    Like a glory in my breast.
All day long the Presence lingered,
    All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
    Over a very troubled sea.
So I think I know the secret
    Learned from many a troubled way,
You must seek Him in the morning
    If you want Him through the day.
                                    —Ralph Cushman.

Thus it is that there is this special quality, a special state of consciousness prevailing in this interim period between the disadvantages of both the sleep state and the fully awakened, preoccupied state. Both are necessary, but both contain obstacles in total communion, inner communion with the Spirit, the Supreme.

I have great joy in sharing with you, therefore, this secret of why our ancients said pratah smarami, pratar-bhajami, pratar-namami. Because they knew this secret, this inner Yogic secret, the mystical secret of the state of consciousness that the individual possesses in this early morning dawn hour. It sets the tone for the entire day, and then you live with God, you move with God, you sail the troubled sea of vyavaharic life with perfect calmness and serenity, because God is with you. You do the sailing with God as your companion.

May we benefit ourselves fully from this golden hour and make each day a further ascent towards the great Goal, attaining which you become blessed. May you all be blessed!

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