Several times in the past I narrated a story from the Hara- Párvatii saḿváda [dialogues of Shiva and Párvatii]. The story goes that once Párvatii asked Shiva, “What are the secrets of success?” In His reply, Lord Shiva said that there are seven secrets of success:
Phaliśyatiiti vishvásah siddherprathama lakśańam;
Dvitiiyaḿ shraddhayá yuktaḿ trtiiyaḿ gurupújanam;
Caturtho samatábhávo paiṋcamendriyanigrahah;
Śaśt́haiṋca pramitáháro saptamaḿnaeva vidyate.
The first factor or secret of success is Phaliśyatiiti vishvásah siddherprathama lakśańam – “I must be successful in my mission.” This firm determination is the first secret of success. A spiritual aspirant must have this firm determination: “I must be successful in my mission.” This firm determination is the result of extreme love for the Supreme Entity. When this love for the Supreme remains unassailed, uncontaminated, it creates this firm determination: “I must be successful in my mission.” This is the first secret of success.
Dvitiiyaḿ shraddhayá yuktam. The second requisite factor of success is shraddhayá yuktam. One must have shraddhá for one’s desideratum. What is shraddhá? Shraddhá is a Sanskrit word having no corresponding word in any other developed language of the world. That is why I will have to explain this word. Shraddhá comes from shrat, meaning satyam, and dhá from the root verb dha. When one ascribes everything to one’s goal, or one’s object, or to the Supreme Subjectivity appearing as one’s object, and moves, or rather directs one’s everything towards Him, then that movement is shraddhá. First ascribing that supreme veracity to the object (actually it is the Supreme Subjectivity taken as an object) and then directing one’s everything towards Him, is that mental movement which is called shraddhá.
“Respect” or “reverence” does not carry the sense of shraddhá. This shraddhá can also be created or can also be developed when there is sincere love, extreme love, for Him. So the second factor also depends upon the love for the Lord.
Trtiiyaḿ gurupújanam. What is a guru? In old Sanskrit gu means “darkness” and ru means dispeller, “dispelling agency”. Therefore the entity, the guiding faculty, that dispels all darkness, all spiritual darkness, is the guru, and gurupújanam is doing as per the desire of the guru. This third factor is created only when one gets the guru as the embodiment of spiritual guidance, as the embodiment of Brahma in His role as spiritual guide.
Caturtho samatábhávo. Since all are the creations of the same Lord, and the progeny of the Supreme Progenitor, all have the relationship of brothers and sisters amongst themselves. Nobody is higher and nobody is lower. There must not be any superiority complex nor any inferiority complex; that is, there must be samatábhávo – complete mental balance. When this balance is established, when this mental equipoise is established, then we say it is samatábhávo.
Paiṋcamendriyanigrahah. You know that the human motor organs and sensory organs are the link between the external physicalities and the internal arena of human existence. Now, if these organs, motor and sensory, are properly restrained or properly controlled, the mind can function properly, moving towards the Supreme Cognitive Faculty. That is why the fifth requisite factor is that the spiritual aspirant should restrain his or her sensory and motor organs.
Śaśt́haiṋca pramitáháro. What is áhára? A – hr + ghaiṋ = áhára. That which a man collects from the external world is áhára. This is physical áhára. Mental áhára can be obtained both from the external objectivities and from the internal psychic world. You may eat a physical rasagollá [Indian juicy sweet] and get pleasure, or you may create a rasagollá in your mind and “eat” it and get pleasure.
Here the word pramitáhára has been used, not parimitáhára. Parimita means “controlled”, not taking too much, not taking too little. But in this shloka, pramitáhára has been used, which means that the food should be controlled or balanced, and at the same time substantial or nutritious. There are many people who are otherwise good but have no control over the food they eat. It is very important that whatever one gets should not be taken indiscriminately; rather, there should be control over food, and at the same time it should be nutritious.
After narrating these six factors, Lord Shiva said, “O Párvatii, there is no seventh factor.” That is, if you practise these six factors, you require no seventh factor.
A.V. Part-03, 3 October 1978, Patna