Question: Which oil is good for Trataka meditation. Cow’s ghee, til ka tel (sesame seed oil) , or anything else? I am a software professional, and my eyes are getting weaker. Please suggest what I should do.

If one is performing trataka meditation on a lamp, then til ka tel (sesame seed oil) is better than ghee. Actually castor oil is the best for trataka and it is what was used in older times. Castor oil is much better because it creates a very bright flame.

The true trataka is meant to be performed not on a lamp, but on the sun at particular times of the day. At the time of the sunrise and at the time of sunset one is supposed to perform the meditation on the sun. At that particular time the sun’s rays are shielded enough that there will not be damage to one’s eyes. When one is not able to perform trataka on the sun (due to clouds or timing) then one is recommended to perform trataka on a lamp. The effect of trataka with a lamp is not as powerful as the effects received by meditating on the sun. But I would recommend you stick with a lamp, as if you do not perform the sun meditation properly you may damage your eyes.

Trataka meditation is an ancient method for improving one’s eye sight. The ten senses (karmendriyas and jnanendriyas) function according to the pancha-bhutas, five basic elements. The eye in particular functions by the element fire. It is by fire (light) that we can see, and it is this element that allows the eye to function. Fire produces two energies, namely light and heat. It is by light that form is manifested, and by heat that shape is manifested. Shape and form together create the appearance of an object. This is the adhibhautika level of control over sight.

Beyond the elemental level of control there is the adhidaivika controller, who for the sense of sight is the sun god, Surya. It is by the control of the sun that the element fire is able to produce its energies.

The third level of visual control comes from the self, or the adhyatmika purusha. It is the individual soul with his active consciousness that functions through the instrument of the eye.

Loss of eye sight can be traced to one of these three levels. In most cases it is due to a disturbance in the adhibhautika level that one’s eye sight weakens. Thus when one performs trataka meditation he restores this level of existence to its proper state of functioning by absorbing the elemental energies necessary for that organ to function. As mentioned above, the eye is powered by the fire element. By meditating on the flame of a candle, one’s eyes absorb the heat and light from the candle flame (through sight), and the shape and form of the eye instrument is restored to its natural state.

It is best if one starts practicing this meditation for 15 minutes a day, and gradually increases it. One should alternate between staring at the external flame, and concentrating on an internal flame in one’s mind’s eye. Stare at the flame of the candle without blinking until water begins to come from one’s eye, then close your eyes and try to visualize the same flame within for an equal length of time. Continue alternating in this manner.