The word pratyahara means “removing the indriyas from material objects”. At the stage of pratyahara, aspirants learn to control the “tentacles” of the consciousness which are called indriyas in Sanskrit. This allows one to achieve the ability to see in subtle and the subtlest layers of multidimensional space, as well as to exit from the material body into them and settle in them, accustoming oneself to their subtlety, tenderness, and purity.
The concept of indriyas exists only in the Indian spiritual culture. Europeans with their simplified and degraded religious ideas usually are not capable of grasping this kind of knowledge. Even in translations from the Indian languages they substitute the word indriyas with the word senses; by doing this they completely reject the immense methodological significance of pratyahara concept and of the principles of work at this stage.
Europeans translate the term pratyahara as “control over the senses”. But senses are not everything that is denoted by the term indriyas, since the indriyas include the mind as well. It is also essential that the image of “tentacles” evoked by the word indriyas provides profound understanding of the principles of functioning of the mind and consciousness, as well as of methods of controlling them.
Krishna presented fundamental knowledge about working with the indriyas in the Bhagavad Gita [6,11]. He was talking about the indriyas of vision, audition, smell, touch, proprioception, and about those of the mind. And indeed: one’s concentration on an object through any organ of sense or with the mind is very similar to extending a tentacle to it from the body. When one switches the concentration to another object, one detaches and moves the indriyas to it.
In the same manner the mind creates its own indriyas, when one thinks about something or someone.
People with developed sensitivity can perceive other people’s indriyas touching them. In some cases they can even see those indriyas and therefore can influence them.
Krishna said that one of the things man has to learn is the ability to draw all the indriyas from the material world inwards, just as a tortoise retracts its paws and head into its shell. Then one has to extend the indriyas into the Divine eons in order to embrace God with them, to draw oneself to Him, and to merge with Him.
Now Sathya Sai Baba — our contemporary Messiah — also teaches about control over the indriyas. Many of His books have been translated into Russian but in all of them the information about working with the indriyas was lost due to inadequate translation.
One cannot achieve control over the indriyas without mastering the ability to shift the concentration of the consciousness between the chakras and main meridians, i.e. the meridians that make up the microcosmic orbit and the middle meridian. We will dwell on this separately in one of the following chapters.