Anusthan: A Powerful Opportunity For Spiritual Progress
What is the meaning of the word anusthan? On analysis, it is composed of two words — anu and sthan. Anu means firm. Sthan means place, or residence — the original place of residence of the Lord. When one performs the following activities with firm conviction, that is an anusthan. Become aware of the qualities of the place of the Lord; adopt as many qualities of the Lord as you can while simultaneously cutting yourself off from worldly activities. Make an independent place to perform good deeds of divine nature or to establish a relationship between your soul and the Lord. Sit with a firm determination to worship any form of the Lord, or do japa, read the scriptures, etc. Do these for a period of time you have fixed beforehand. It is very critical to select a spot from where the asan cannot be moved. Only then is the anusthan accepted.
For example, you may have never seen any form of Lord Rama, but you may know Rama’s description and qualities from the scriptures. In order to realize the form or to attain the Lord’s grace, you can have a murti (statue) made of clay, stone, or metal in accordance with scriptural description. After selecting an independent sthan, a place of appropriate purity, you can alter your mental attitudes in accordance with the qualities of Rama as described in the scriptures and do japa, puja, read the Ramayana, meditate, etc. By repeatedly doing this, you will alter your mind to the form of Rama and begin to acquire Rama’s qualities. On this basis, you can begin to experience Rama Himself. Such a practice is called an anusthan. Those seeking realization can attain it by performing such repeated anusthans.
By the practice of anusthans, the negative, external, worldly factors that influence the mind and create obstacles on the spiritual path are forgotten. The mind flows toward the Lord and toward your ishta devata (a favorite form of the Lord). The mind becomes one with Him more easily and you gradually begin to forget yourself. You experience that the body is becoming more pure and divine, able to enjoy divine bliss, which many call samadhi.
…You can alter your mental attitudes in accordance with the qualities of Rama as described in the scriptures…(and) begin to experience Rama Himself.
In this manner, as the practice of anusthan increases, it becomes very easy, even at the time of death, to meditate on the Lord and leave the body. Through anusthan, you can experience the world through the physical body, yet divine bliss and divine body are not destroyed. In order to reach this state, you must follow the proper guidelines required for specific practices.
If in your current life there are few negative samskaras (tendencies) and you have adopted some spiritual practices and have faith and devotion, you may negate all samskaras in twelve years or less. If you have created many positive samskaras and your mind is tired of worldly affairs and your mind is drawn predominantly toward the Lord, at least four years of regular anusthan are necessary to remove the samskaras. Depending on the individual, this may take two to six more years. Even if you die before completing the required anusthan, it is not wasted but is taken into account in the next life. Hence, you can attain realization in a shorter time in the next life.
Many perform a sankalpa (statement of intention) for short anusthans of one month or seven, eleven, or twenty-one days. When this is completed, they continue for shorter periods. In this way, they are doing continuous anusthan. For those who expect no obstacles, the duration of an anusthan could be from one to four months or even one and one-fourth to four years. The regular and continuous practice of an anusthan is an austerity itself. If you start an anusthan but cannot finish it due to some obstacles that come along the way, that is not wasted. At the first opportunity, you should resume the anusthan and complete it.
In order to obtain the grace of God and Guru, whatever anusthan is being performed for a specific period of time is likely to encounter several obstacles. If you pay no attention to these, disregard them and continue the anusthan as planned for the set time, only then is the anusthan complete. The ultimate state of Para Brahman, of bliss, is very stable and firm. There are no changes, no imbalance or modification in the degree of bliss.
The main purpose of any anusthan is purification of the chitta (fluctuations of the mind). When the mind is completely pure, it can attain worldly and spiritual goals very easily.
(This article was first published in the September 1987 issue of the Dhyanyoga Centers Newsletter.)