After teaching a class on Adhikara (studentship) recently, a student asked me if I would write it down for her. Inspired by her request, I have decided to share Adhikara with all of you, as I know them to be. The qualities of Adhikara are five fold, in conjunction with the five elements, they are the foundation of competency in the discipleship of yoga.
The first element (Akasha) Space is embodied by the quality of spaciousness in the students mind. This is the quality of beginners mind, an openness to learning, a desire to know more deeply, and an acknowledging of not knowing. In a spiritual context, this aspect of studentship is open to the flow of the unknown.
The second element (Prithivi) Earth is the quality of steadfastness in the student, the ability to continue despite the discomfort and the challenge of transformation. Embodying perseverance and persistence with humility, while maintaining the connection to the beginners mind, helps the disciple to build a steady practice over time.
The third element (Ap) Water allows for an accommodating, nurturing, and kind ease that enables the student to more sweetly move in the flow of the unknown. The element of water moves with a humble nature, not trying to carve out new territory, rather taking the path of least resistance, displaying trust.
The fourth element (Tejas) Fire reveals itself in the students passionate desire to transform. With confidence and an aspiration to know more deeply the authentic truth of ones own nature, and the desire to be more present without fear, the element of fire enables the student to stand with confident humility in the face of the unknown.
The fifth element (Vaya) Air serves the students mental dexterity, the intellectual applications to the physical and philosophical practices. The quality of air allows the student to use their mental functions to integrate all aspects of the practice while also cultivating a quietness of the mind.
As I understand them, the elements of studentship each alone and together, help us to measure the effectiveness of our practice. Satchitananda can loosely translate to truth, consciousness, bliss. This is the ultimate goal of the yoga, to bring the seeker into a constant state of Satchitananda, the knowing of their own truth, consciousness, and bliss. As we proceed along our paths, we can use the elements of studentship skillfully, to cultivate sensitivity, discrimination, and ultimately openhearted wisdom. Our progress on the path can be reflected in a decrease of the more bitter aspects of being; anger, distress, depression, anxiety, nervousness, fearfulness, and hate. If we can we stay open to the unknown, humble of mind, body, and spirit, competent in our intellectual dexterity, confident in our humility, regular in our steadfast practice, and fluid with kind attitudes and hearts, we will undoubtedly be rewarded with more inner strength, more trust in the unknown, an ability to see a bigger picture and understand the interconnectedness of all life, a true awareness of our own individual capacity to love and be loved, and an overall feeling of lighthearted, celebrating, joyfulness stemming from knowing our personal authentic selves.