What Is Ishvar Pranidhaan?

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“Yog has to be done,” says Yogi Ashwini. The yams and niyams as detailed in Ashtang Yog have to be followed. Thinking, reading, talking sans practice is redundant. “The practice of yamas and niyamas helps develop a state of vairagya—detachment within you which you may not want. What is it that you want, even you do not know,” He told me once…and I couldn’t agree more.

Ishvar Pranidhaan (submission to the Divine will) is the final niyama. How does one follow it? Let me draw an analogy. In Indian classical music there is something called shruti, which in Carnatic music is the interval between two notes, the musician is constantly aware of the sound of a shruti box when playing an instrument. Like a shruti, while playing the music called life, one must constantly be aware of the Ishvar Pranidhaan in the background.

In the words of Yogi Ashwini – if you ask for something and God gives it you, it is fine. But if he doesn’t, then it is even better because then that is God’s wish and God never wishes wrong for you…Whatever you get is as per your capacity. If you are given something that is beyond your capacity, you will end up destroying your birth and karmas.

Below I quote a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, which brings out beautifully how even while we think we are walking the path of Divine, we often miss hearing what He has to say…

Said a man fed up with the world in the depth of the night,

‘I’ll leave home tonight for the sake of the God I adore.

Who’s it that keeps me ensnared within this house?’

‘I’, said God, but it didn’t enter his ears.

Clasping their sleeping infant to her breast, his wife lay happily asleep on a side of the bed.

‘Who are you all, maya’s mask?’ He asked.

‘They are myself’, said God, but no one heard.

‘Lord, where are you?’ said the man, leaving his bed.

‘Right here,’ was the answer, still the fellow was deaf.

The child cried in his sleep and clung to his mother.

‘Return’, said God, but the man didn’t hear the order.

Then at last God sighed.  ‘Alas’ said he,

‘Where’s my devotees going, leaving me?’

Source: Renunciation, from Chatali (1896), – “I Won’t Let You go – selected Poems

– Rabindranath Tagore

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