The word “pratyahara” means “removing indriyas from material objects”. Pratyahara is the stage at which an adept learns how to control the “tentacles” of consciousness that are called “indriyas” in Sanskrit. This allows him to achieve the ability to see in subtle and the subtlest layers of multidimensional space, as well as to exit of his material body into them and to settle in them, accustoming himself to their subtlety, tenderness and purity.
Concept of indriyas exists only in the Indian spiritual culture. Europeans with their simplified, complicated and degraded religious ideas usually are not capable of grasping this kind of knowledge. Even in translations from Indian languages they substitute the word “indriyas” with the word “senses” that has lost its original meaning; by doing this they completely reject the immense methodological significance of pratyahara concept and of principles of work at this stage.
What does this mean? It means our senses stop living off the things that stimulate; the senses no longer depend on these stimulants and are not fed by them any more. Let us look at this concept a little closely. When we see a sunset, first our eyes are drawn to it; the eyes sent a message to the brain; the brain computer will assimilate the information sent by the eyes and form the picture of the sunset. This is the way our senses function normally. But there is also the possibility that the most beautiful sunset on earth will not attract our attention, will not engage our senses, because we are deeply immersed in something else. We may be concentrating on something without any awareness of what is going around us. Normally the senses say to the mind: "Look at this! Smell this! Touch that!" The senses register an object and the mind is drawn to it at once.
In pratyahara we sever this link between mind and senses, and the senses withdraw. Each sense perception has a particular quality to which it relates: the eyes relate to the form of something; the ears to the sound, the vibration it makes; the nose to its smell. In pratyahara it is as if things are spread out with all their attractions before our senses, but they are ignored; the senses remain unmoved and uninfluenced. In effect the brain will disregard all that is received by the various sensory organs and will only accept and process the signals sent by sensory organs at the command of the brain. Now we have control over our senses rather than being controlled by them.
Europeans translate the term “pratyahara” as “control over the senses”. But senses are not everything that is denoted by the term indriyas, since indriyas include 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.