Tag Archives: Adi Yogi

Life Math!

23 Mar

Math is fun only for a select few, historically. Even for the great BhArathi, the MahAkavi, it was “கணக்கு, பிணக்கு, ஆமணக்கு,” something that was not just a struggle but even bitter. So, it isn’t that hard to imagine how Math is for lesser mortals. If it’s that complex a subject in the academic syllabus, then how complicated it should be in Life? Is it any wonder the species that never tires of boasting about it’s extra 6th sense, keeps on failing to score even the bare minimum pass score in “Life Math!”

1+1 is never equal to 1.
That’s why lovers who marry, even after several years of being in love, are shocked to find they are still 2 distinct individuals and can’t merge into 1 being, as they’ve imagined. Nor can business or any kind of partners. When neither is willing to let go of one’s distinct sense of identity, the individual will remain as 1 and 1+1 will always be 2.

1/2 + 1/2 = 1

Lord ShivA, aka the One (he’s Mahadeva, i.e. God of Gods, after all) knew this (obviously) and was prudent to merge his spouse (kind of hard to say who is the better half among the PurushA & Prakriti) into himself and become ArdhanhAreeswarA (part ShivA & part Shakthi), when it comes to walking the talk, i.e. offering an experiential learning opportunity on how the Life Math is done (he happens to be DakshiNAmUrthy, the Adi Guru, as well), but the Homo Sapiens aren’t capable learners, apparently.

But even if we take a few lifetimes to elevate ourselves to contemplate & comprehend the Adiyogi’s teachings, t

here are a couple of ways the life math can be made to work

, in this lifetime itself.

1×1 = 1.

But for this math to work in life, both the 1s have to collaborate & work together to create the force multiplier effect. Unfortunately, the individual 1s mostly stop with the force and keep multiplying it.

This works well, at least for a while, in business partnerships, since partners usually bring different skill sets and capabilities to the table. Remember the 2 Steves who created the fruit company (ahem, that would be Apple).

1/1 is also =1.

But for this equation to happen in life, either of the two 1s should be willing to go down, i.e. let go of their individual identity or ego. Every husband & wife knows – by experience, obviously – that’s just a fantasy or fantastic dream.

This is how a Guru-sishyA relationship works though. Neither does a real Guru (Realised Master) show of his Allness, ever, disseminating all that s/he knows to any sincere seeker, nor does the disciple mind getting chiselled pertinently, until s/he loses any sense of individual identity left.

1+0 is always equal to one.
The 1 is the individual, with many an identity, including but not limited to, name, education, status, title, religion, region, etc. S/he imagines being unique & distinct. That’s the mind trap, but it’s a very attractive & deceptive trap, in which the individual is willing to remain, for lifetimes.

Tonnes of Karma keeps piling up and the repetitive birth-death cycle goes on and on…

The 0 is the divine that’s within the individual, not a digit without any value, but one that’s absolute. That’s exactly why the 0 added after any numeral increases its value manifold.

That 0 waits patiently for the 1 to first realise it & then merge with it or dissolve into it. When that happens, when the realisation dawns upon the individual self, when the creation realises the magnificent presence of the creator glowing silently within the creation, every single being in existence – not just the individual, then the 1 becomes the 0. That’s also when, 1 and 0, which were 2 before, transform into 1, i.e. The One!

😇

AUM PUrNam-adah PUrNam-idam PUrNAt-PUrNam-udachyate
PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

PUrNam-idam PUrNAt-PUrNam-udachyate
PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

😇

AUM That (divine / creator / real Self) is complete / whole; This (individual / creation / non-real self) self is complete / whole; Everything (in existence) manifests from that which is complete / whole (all of creation are manifest forms of the unmanifest divine or NhirguNa Parabrahmam).
(even) When (this – individual) whole is taken from (that – divine) whole, that which remains is (still) whole (omnipresent divine that is infinite & all pervading in nature).
AUM peace.. peace.. peace..

Be Joyful 😌& Spread the Cheer 🌻

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

19 Jul

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

In the mountain abode of the Lord of Gods!

At 4.44 pm on 8th July 2017, the tower of the temple came into Swamy’s view. It was exactly as seen in the countless photos that pop up from a Google search for that exalted place. The 16 km uphill trek that took a little over 7 hours was about to conclude. But unlike in KailAsh, the floodgates held strong. Until an hour or so! 

When Swamy inched his way to the ancient temple that millions dream of going to, but only a few thousands actually manage to do every year, most only once in a lifetime, and had darshan of the Lord, the floodgates blasted open… washing away the wrongs – known & unknown – committed over several births, including this one. They weren’t tears of toil or torment, but those of pure joy. 

Through teary eyes, Swamy drank to his heart’s content, the magnificently decorated Swayambhu form of Lord KEdArnAth, the Lord of the Gods, MahAdEvA, glittering in beautiful alankAram, that’s more like his brother-in-law’s. It reminded Swamy about Lord AruNAchalA at ThiruvaNNAmalai, literally in the other corner of this culturally rich, complex nation called BhArat.

The wavering mind that usually wanders all around, simply seemed to stand still. The legs that were begging for rest, after the slow & steady uphill trek for over 7 hours, weren’t complaining anymore. Every acquired thing that was considered something in this lifetime, suddenly appeared insignificant. The mantrA that was being chanted inward almost non-stop till then too has chosen to remain silent. Nothing else seemed to matter anymore – other than just being in the presence of Lord KEdhAr, encompassed by his absolute stillness… immersed in his boundless Grace… 

The darshans of Adi Guru will continue to happen, all through the next day, Guru PUrNimA, a very significant day of the year for spiritual seekers. Some of the darshans were so intimate that Swamy, along with the fellow yAtris, would perform abhishEkam and arpaNam to the Lord inside the sanctum sanctorum, which is unimaginable in his state, where the Lord & DEvi can only be worshipped from a significant distance, especially in popular temples. One has to pay a hefty fee to get a closer darshan of the divine. Getting inside the Garbhagriham is entirely out of question. But in KEdhAr, the most benevolent Lord would let anyone – irrespective of caste, creed, status, wealth, fame, et al – to not only see him up close, but also to touch his Swayambhu form and offer worship directly. 

Two incredible happenings, within the short duration of a couple of days, would change Swamy’s perception of ancient consecrated spaces, forever. Experientially, of course, not philosophically. His inner experience at KEdArnAth, one of the holiest spaces of worship for the followers, believers & devotees of Lord ShivA, would incredulously repeat at BhadhrinAth, one of the holiest spaces of worship for followers, believers & devotees of Lord VishNu, in exactly the same way. 

The experience would quite literally show Swamy that 

அரியும் அரனும் ஒண்ணு, அதை

அறியாதவர் வாயில மண்ணு!”

“Hari (Lord VishNu) & HarA (Lord ShivA) are one & the same. 

Those who don’t realise that (Truth) will simply persish (to be born again)!” 

… next in GangA Nhadhi DheerEy … 

“Step 1 ~ DEvi delays Swamy’s yAtrA!”

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

🙏👣😌🙌🌻

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy” is a step-by-step retelling (well, almost) of Swamy’s absolutely enchanting ChAr DhAm yAtrA experience, which happened with his Upa Guru SOhamAnandAji’s able guidance, in July 2017, along with a small group of fellow seekers.

18 Steps to Emancipation | Step 3 ~ The 3rd Dimension!

29 Jan

Step 3 ~ The 3rd Dimension

From the triumvirate of Gods known as ThrimUrthi, viz BrahmA, VishNu & RudrA (not ShivA, as it is usually misunderstood and stated – RudrA is an aspect of ShivA, not ShivA himself, who as MahAdEvA is the unmanifest that’s way beyond a mere role playing God) and God6desses Saraswati, Lakshmi & DurgA (all aspects or forms of Shakthi, the all-pervading, all-encompassing Mother Goddess of all creation, at a magnitude and scale that’s simply unimaginable by the limited human intellect), the number 3 has always been significant in SanAtana DharmA, which naturally reflects in many aspects of day-to-day living as well. Needless to say, there are countless upa dEvatAs or relatively lesser Gods, present around the sanctum sanctorum of Life, some of whom even have a specific role to play, during every being’s lifetime(s).

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ascend Step 1 ~ End or Beginning! here…

https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/18-steps-to-emancipation-step-1-end-or-beginning/

ascend Step 2 ~ Past in the Present! here…

https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/18-steps-to-emancipation-step-2-past-in-the-present/ 

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  • Mother, Father & Child(ren), in the family. The unlimited number of relatives that poke their nose into the family business are the upa dEvatAs, obviously

  • Teacher(s), Student, Parents(s), while studying (not to be confused with learning, which doesn’t usually happen within the school but mostly outside it). Lab assistant, Sports coach, unfriendly accountant diligently collecting the fee (and the fine), et al are the upa dEvatAs

  • Boss, Worker, Team, while toiling hard to make a living. Humourless HR, automaton Admin, funless Finance, sincere Security, clueless Quality, etc are some of the upa dEvatAs

  • Doctor, Patient and Insurance company at hospitals, with a zillion departments to perform quadrillion tests with imported equipments (gotta use em’ all), occasionally smiling nurses, always smirking attendants and the statuesque (read expressionless) billing clerk are the upa dEvatAs

  • Teams, Fans / spectators, Officials (including referees / umpires, organizers, etc) in sports

  • Actors who – supposedly – perform (and overrate themselves), Fans who adore them (consciously keeping the brain aside) and the Crew (including Director, producer, et al) that continues to churn one mindless dumb movie after another  

  • Shopkeeper (the one who sells), Shopper (the ones who buy) and Product makers (the one who make the ones that are being sold and bought) in shops – huge and tiny

  • Deity, Devotee and Priest (and the mysterious government department that merrily milks the devotion dry in the name of managing the temple administration) in places of worship

  • Trekker, SherpA and the Mountain, in mountaineering (not to be confused with the amateur day-trips – with tiny backpacks and shiny camera/phones, no less – called trekking, to the friendly neighbourhood hillocks)

  • Farmer, Cow/Bull and the Land / Crops…

  • Gardener, flowering Plants and Birds / bees / butterflies…


But when one starts the stroll down the spiritual path – accidentally, like Swamy, or otherwise – the 3rd dimension shines in an altogether different light. In fact, it is so in all the aforesaid examples too, if one is willing to set aside time to comprehend (which, humans hardly do).


For example, at home, the 3D is the actual upbringing of the child, which need not necessarily be all done by the parents themselves.

In sports, it’s the joy of being part of the action – actively or passively – where the team’s pursuit of excellence matters more than the talented bunch of chosen individuals.

In temples, it’s the devotion, which need not even be overtly expressed, of the devotee towards the divinity, not the deity per se’.

…keep comprehending (a better alternative to being a couch potato today, even as the epic, throwback to a glorious nostalgic past, Fedex-Rafa grand slam final plays out on your prized mega size UHD TV) the 3D of the rest of the examples…


The list of such 3s is as long as the utterly pointless conversations that humans have everyday as if their living is dependent on such small talk and not on the prANA that sustains Life. On the spiritual path, the 3Ds are the  Guru, Disciple and the Path itself (we’ll climb that next step together in “Step 4 ~ Four Paths of Pursuit).

In the context of SabarimalA yAtrA, the 3Ds are the GuruSwamy (an experienced, and in some ways authorised, guide to those seeking the Lord’s darshan – or an inner-darshan that’s encapsulated within the process of yAtrA), the YAtri (who is none other than the seeker, whether s/he realises it or not) and the yAtrA itself (leading to the final surrender at the lotus feet of Lord Dharma SAsthA, which represents shedding the last vestiges of the individual identity to become one with the supreme reality). And the upa dEvatAs in this soul search are innumerable, not just in number but also in variety and the numerous ways each one makes the journey absolutely enchanting.

The 3rd aspect or dimension of the yAtrA (pilgrimage) that is better experienced than explained, was revealed to Swamy, slowly but surely, in myriad ways (some even appearing to be mystical), through first-hand experience, as the yAtrA progressed.


Before the actual yAtrA itself commenced, while the vratham (preparatory sAdhanA for a mandalam) was in progress, Swamy’s Upa Guru (UG, from now on) told him something that captured the purpose of the yAtrA beautifully. The essence of that is (not necessarily verbatim),

“You can choose to be a driver or passenger in this yAtrA. You’ll see both types in this yAtrA (or any yAtrA for that matter). Neither is right or wrong. You get to be a driver, if you do sEvA (service, of any kind). The more sEvA you do, the more wonderful your yAtrA (experience) will be. It’s your choice, of course.”

In any journey, the passengers perform just what’s necessary for their journey. Exactly as they do while traveling from one place to another, during any time of the year. For many, it could well be the umpteenth journey, as a passenger. Mostly passive and occasionally active – in their areas of interest or zones of comfort – they chose to go with the flow. They too get to complete the journey, aiding its progress in doing a thing or two that they feel is sufficient. May be they don’t think the yAtrA as something very different from their daily routine, when one is usually served things, all through the day, without being expected to serve. 


It’s hard to read what goes on in a person’s mind, which has a way of its own. The passengers simply chose to ride along with this particular group and their ride probably wouldn’t be any different if it’s with any other group. From their perspective, may be it’s the right thing (or way, rather) to do – not hindering the progress by simply remaining a passenger. In any case, sEvA has to be offered by oneself and can’t be demanded from anyone.

The drivers perform what’s essential for the journey itself – not just theirs, irrespective of however many times they too have done it before. Right from purchasing to packing / unpacking / repacking to booking tickets to planning the itinerary to preparing food to performing pujAs to ensuring adherence to well-defined rituals to guiding the yAtris on well-practiced but hardly predictable treks to caring for every individual’s well-being to cleaning to leading teams to offering insights to what not… they’re the silent ones that keep the yAtra chugging along, as merrily as possible, while being a yAtri as well.


Swamy too had been a passenger before, in the life-altering yAtrA to the abode of Lord HariHaraSudhan’s illustrious father, the YakshaswarUpA who transmitted the ways and methods of liberation to the Saptharishis as Adi Guru (first Master) DakshiNamUrthy, i.e. KailAsh-MAnasarOvar, in 2013, when he first met his UG, who seemed to be everywhere, doing a multitude of things, all along the yAtrA.

But not being a stranger to volunteering – thanks to his many years with his Master Sadhguru’s magnificent spiritual organization called Isha Foundation, whose phenomenal global growth is rooted in volunteering – Swamy kept an open mind to what(ever) he could perform, in terms of sEvA, during this yAtrA. And the opportunities kept presenting themselves, sometimes one after another and at times without a break to even catch a breath or two.

May be it’s time for Swamy to follow his UG’s footsteps this time, being a part of the bus that aids the journey’s progress, in whatever little way he can. In hindsight, it appears that’s how the Lord has destined it to be – even if it’s just his maiden yAtrA to the powerful hill shrine of the PandaLa RAjakumAran, with limited knowledge of the yAtrA itself and pretty much no knowledge about what needs to be done during it.

The early signs of how the yAtrA would pan out could be seen at the very moment Swamy boarded the yAtrA bus that’ll take them from base camp at KalpAthi (near PalghAt), after the Irumudi ceremony (the most critical mandatory step for any yAtri, before the ascent begins) happened. Having done his bit at unpacking & repacking location-wise materials and a little bit of alankAram (floral decoration, which he immensely enjoys doing at DEvi Linga Bhairavi’s shrine in his humble abode) for the ceremony, Swamy boarded the bus after the customary coconut breaking in front Lord VignEswarA,  later that night, and faced a sea of strangers who have already occupied the many rows of seats with saha-yAtris who they’re already familiar with. May be they’ve been occupying those seats for several years, who knows.


None of them appeared too keen on befriending the strange looking KanniSwamy (Swamy’s appearance – an elderly looking man in saffron dhoti with a flowing white beard, which is invariably perceived as that of a seasoned SabarimalA veteran, if not a Guru Swamy, will lead to many hilarious situations, all through the journey :D, proving the age-old dictum that appearances can indeed be deceptive). Slowly making his way past all the rows of seats, he ended up in the very last row, where too there seemed to be no place for the new comer. As he can’t go any further (without breaking the rear window), Swamy made a little space in that seat where a few bags too were seated (the patented Indian way of reserving seats 😉 and sat down on that last row – notorious for guaranteeing a j/bumpy ride to any occupant, anywhere – expecting to be told by someone that that seat too was taken.

But his fear of standing through the journey was unfound (ah, the games that the devious mind loves to play ;), as a friendly gentleman who came minutes later, took off the bags that were on the seat, placed them on the floor and sat down at the corner, next to Swamy. He then let out a hoarse cry “bOlE bAbA,” that got an enthusiastic response “pAr karEgA” from many yAtris, followed by “TrishUl dhAri”, with an equally enthusiastic response of “pAr karEgA” from many.


In that moment – especially when he heard the name of AdiyOgi Lord ShivA – Swamy intuitively knew he was in good / right company. 80% of that last row occupants happened to be drivers in the yAtrA (there’s no escaping the 80-20 rule, even in the last row of a bus full of yAtris headed for an annual pilgrimage), i.e. full-time volunteers who were always in the thick of the action, not necessarily in the forefront but in the rear ranks that keeps fueling the yAtrA forward, making it easier for Swamy to get his hands dirty with sEvA, quite literally.

And at least one of them (obviously the remaining 20% part of the 80-20) was exceptionally silent, throughout the journey, something a serious seeker like Swamy immensely enjoys, even when he’s in the urban steel and concrete jungle that we hilariously call home. In short, Swamy felt at home in that last row, being exactly where he really belonged.

Just being open to possibilities led to Swamy getting a multitude of opportunities to perform different kinds of sEvA, all through the yAtrA. There were some he chose to be part of (sometimes simply to avoid getting embroiled in small talk going on in all directions) and quite a few where he was called to perform a specific task (and was kindly instructed how to go about it). As time passed (or paused, as it seemed – especially since there were no phones or calendars to check date and time), Swamy’s very first yAtrA to the abode of Lord YOga SAsthA simply went into autopilot mode, with even the miniscule contributions of his towards the many aspects of the yAtra driving his steps forward. One small step after another. All the way to the Lord’s sannidhAnam. Where the Lord who is always depicted as a child or youth gave darshan to Swamy as a yOgi with a beard!


… (at least) 15 more steps to be climbed…


~Swamy (@PrakashSwamy)

18 Steps to Emancipation! is a blog series on Swamy’s first yAtrA to the sacred hill shrine of Lord Dharma SAsthA at SabarimalA in 2017, as a Kanni SwAmy (first timer or rookie) of the ABASS Kolkatta, a traditional yAtrA group of SabarimalA veterans, who perform the annual yAtrA via the longer (& needless to say, harder) route known as Peruvazhi or Periya PAdhai. 

You’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyRay / SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including the 180 & counting #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles. You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

The Holy Slap!

22 Sep

All of us – at least in Swamy’s generation or earlier – have got a tight slap, one time or another. Grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, teachers (craft & language, especially), siblings, cousins, friends, babies… All have been generous in offering one slap another, for some reasons. Except for the last one, I.e., babies, we usually take affront to the others, but generally don’t / won’t express the anguish, simply because that may lead to more slaps. And in a few cases, even more severe beating! Of course, we too have given our quota of slaps to someone, who didn’t bother to show the other cheek!

Once we grow up, get entangled in family web, enjoy our own baby’s slap, who grows up to take over the slapgate series (running for generations, beating any unbearable TV soap) and by destiny (there are no coincidences in the grand game of Life), start pondering… 

Who am I? 

When we get there (self-enquiry – the starting point of spiritual journey), none of the slappers of yore are of any help, however hard they can slap. At best, they can quote stories from purAnNAs or ithihAsAs or share a few hearsay experiences of some Guru’s disciple, who is a fourth degree relation (haven’t you heard of the 6-degrees of separation!).

All said and done, once that question sprouts within (or some other sibling question like “What’s the purpose of Life,” “Why is Life so unfair to me (alone),” “Is there a way to get out of all this nonsense,”), there’s only one being who can offer some guidance / advise / way out (which is actually in, but that takes much longer to know, if at all). That being is known in this magnificent culture, from time immemorial, as the… 


Guru – a near-mythical, all knowing (& seeing), miracle maker – who with boundless compassion decides to guide even hilarious beings like us. 


And when a Guru happens (nope, we can’t go searching for one – just doesn’t work that way), that’s when the fun starts (or all hell breaks loose – depending on our half-cup perspective)!

GuRu means one who eradicates darkness

A kind of extraordinary bright LED light (Go Green pal) for the mind, which is immersed in the darkness of ignorance (making us believe we are who we are, which, in reality, we aren’t). Unfortunately, since we’re immersed in it for so long, we seem to be averse of light, i.e., GnAnA. But, 

Guru is the light & so S/He is naturally going to focus that light on you to eradicate the immersive darkness (mAyA). 

S/He offers you practices to do daily (sAdhanA), procedures to follow (yamA & niyamA), mantrAs to chant (JapA), etc. And S/He doesn’t bother to be nice and gentle (those are necessary only for your survival nAtak living, not his/her Life the way it is). 

Every stupid query of ours or silly action – there are obviously way too many, even for advanced seekers – gets a tight slap like response. 

It’s so hard (on the bloated ego) that it feels like reliving the whole pointless school years all over again, making one shudder in dread (inadvertently recalling that merciless craft teacher’s polished cane)!

So the intellect senses a conflict (that’s the only thing it’s good at – duality.. This & that.. me vs the world..) and tries to steer one away from the hard work (enlightenment isn’t easy, unless you happen to be Ramana Maharishi, who, till date, seems to be the only exception to the daily grind rule, because he probably took birth as an empty vessel, ready to receive the Lord’s Grace, unlike us silly humans) back to one’s comfort zone(s). It’s very tempting to go back (mAyA’s bewitching leelA at play) but for some strange reason we just can’t get away from him (or her – it really doesn’t matter). It’s like a stronger than cosmic fevibond between Sun and Earth. 

Eventually we give it up and surrender (at the lotus feet of the Master). It’s quite possible that we screamed out aloud. Even cry. We shut up (become silent) and focus on a how to get out (of our ridiculous daily survival). That’s when the cleansing starts. Slowly, but surely, scraping away the kArmic junk pile we’ve built into a Trump Tower (pun very intended) over many a lifetime – with a fresh quote of reality-proof paint in this one! 

With the Master’s Grace, we may some day (hopefully, within this lifetime, if we’re so blessed) realise, 

The only way out (of this miserable way of living – again & again & again) is in (to realise the Self within). 

That’s when we start longing for more slaps, from the Guru, which we now comprehend (without any help from our intellect, at last, thankfully) are actually AshirwAd (blessings) in disguise. Ah well, at long last, it’s time to SUGO (Shut Up & Get Out), with one last tight slap, from the most benevolent Master… The Holy Slap!

May Grace be with you to SUGO in this lifetime itself! Shambho.🙌😌🙏

Be joyful 😊& spread the cheer 🌻

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

NATYA – a simple formula for success

25 Oct

On Vijayadasami day (Oct 22, 2015), considered auspicious for Vidhyarambham (initiation of learning, of all kinds, including performing arts) in Bharat, Swamy was invited to be one of the chief guests for a classical dance event. While Swamy doesn’t have any claim to be associated with dance in any way (he at least actively listens to many kinds of music, including the classical, and even sings & plays percussion instruments, though not formally trained in either), he chose to accept the invite as a mark of respect for the tremendous amount of effort that goes into learning an art or craft (or even sport for that matter, which Swamy has witnessed up-close-and-personal as he’s been part of the quest to raise Jr as a sports – Chess – champion) by all beings involved – the learner (usually an eager child), the learned (the teacher, trainer, coach or Guru, who trains many eager children), the learning enablers (usually parents and a few near & dear) and the learning itself, which is an excruciating, arduous & invariably long process that inevitably consumes a significant part of the childhood. But on any day, Swamy would gladly vote for children spending time learning a performing art, craft or sport, instead of wasting long hours pointlessly in rote learning.

wpid-20151022_181121.jpgThe event Swamy was invited to was a Salangai Puja, to mark the elevation of learners of classical dance from beginner to intermediate level, by letting them wear the salangai on their legs (around the ankle) for the first time, after a few years of learning the basics of classical dance – Bharatanatyam, in this case. The learners will continue to learn for a few more years under the Guru before they can do the Arangetram, i.e., first (typically public) solo performance, announcing to the world that s/he is ready to perform the dance independently anywhere.

SP31Four children – Adhira, Shailaja, Shivadarshini & Srujana – from Siva Natyalaya (the popular dance school of Mrs. Bhuvanadevi Karthikeyan located at Madambakkam, near the famed ancient Shiva temple) were elevated by their Guru to the next level on Vijayadasami & Swamy was one of the chief guests (the other two – Mrs. M.R.Lakshmi & Mrs. Krishnakumari Karthikeyan – were eminent persons from music & dance arenas respectively). This blog post is an excerpt of Swamy’s speech at the salangai puja (not his first public speech but certainly the first at a performing arts or cultural event).

NATYA – a simple formula for success

SP4Swamy’s speech at Siva Natyalaya’s Bharatanatyam Salangai Puja (சலங்கை பூஜை) event in Chennai on 22-Oct-2015 (the speech was in Tamizh தமிழ், which Swamy is quite conversant with, as it happens to be his mother tongue தாய்மொழி)

Namaskaram. After seeing my profession on the invitation (in chaste தமிழ், no less), you must’ve been wondering about what I really do for a living and what relationship do I’ve, if any, with dance!

பிரகாஷ் ராமஸ்வாமி – முழுமை வழிகாட்டி, மனித உள் ஆற்றல் கண்டறிதல் மற்றும் பேணி வளர்த்தல் வல்லுநர் 

SP14I too have wondered the same way about the dance part, as unlike the other two chief guests here – one from the classical music world (learning from none other than the great Semmangudi himself) & the other from the classical dance world (whose grandfather learned from the legendary Balasaraswathi), I’ve nothing to do with dance. Music has been a part of my Life but dance not so much. But as I also write (blogs now, books soon), it’s natural for me to ponder about things and wonder about connections between seemingly unrelated things. When I thought about me & dance, it dawned upon me that there indeed is a powerful connect. And that is Adiyogi (Swamy pointed to the bronze Nataraja statue on the stage that was decked up with flowers for the auspicious occasion).

SP2As someone on the spiritual path for the about 6 years now through Isha yoga, we’re deeply reverential to Adiyogi. Shiva is considered the first yogi in the yogic culture. Incidentally, he also happens to be the Lord of Dance, i.e. Nataraja. His famed dance is the Tandava – in Ananda & Rudra forms – and he’s also known as Thandavakkon in Tamizh because of this. So, now you know the connection between Swamy and dance (the audience chuckle). 

SP9Once that became clear, I’ve thought about what to say in this forum, where eminent persons from music & dance arena are there and children are performing the traditional Bharatanatyam dance beautifully with able guidance from their Guru & the accompanying musicians. Since children are familiar with formulas in many subjects they learn at school such as maths, physics & chemistry, it would be appropriate to give them a simple formula for achieving success in their quest to become eminent classical dancers. And that simple formula is NATYA. Very easy to remember (as the term itself means dance) and hopefully to follow & practice as well.

SP10N is Nada. Nada means sound. The universe that we’re part of is said to have originated from sound –  the primordial sound AUM. Recently, NASA scientists have managed to make the sound of Sun audible and it incredibly sounds as AUM (which isn’t surprising for our ancient culture as the many sages & enlightened beings have figured it out many centuries ago). All Creation is said to be just sound and the creator is also known as Nada Brahma. For dance too, the basis is sound. We’ve seen how beautifully the word Pankajam in a song was depicted as blossoming of lotus by the children. When we hear the word (sound) and see the depiction through gestures or mudras (movement or expression), we can connect with it easily and can comprehend better. 

What’s critical in this relationship is the alignment – between sound and movement in the case of dance. It could be something else for other types of Life pursuits. Alignment with a source, principle, goal or purpose. If your action is in alignment with a purpose, the result will be beautiful and the expreince will be joyful.

SP12A is Agnostic. In these turbulent times of religious intolerance, agnostic is a very sensitive world. But agnostic doesn’t just mean non-believer. It also means someone who is not biased – towards good or bad, like or dislike, progressive or regressive and so on. Shiva is also known as Aghori, someone for whom nothing is ghori or horrible. He accepts everything as it is. The people surrounding him are always depicted as demented beings, but he loves them the same way he would love any other being. He’s as comfortable being in the graveyard smeared in ash, wearing skeletons as he’s in his magnificent Somasundareswara form (worshipped in the famous Madurai Meenakshi temple, in Swamy’s home town). That’s why he symbolises Life the way it is. 

As a learner of dance (or anything for that matter), you shouldn’t be biased towards one or the other. I like this adavu or I don’t like that jathi. This song is more beatiful to perform than that song. I prefer that accompanying person to this one. Your focus should remain just the dance itself (performance or action). And you’ll just accept everything else around it as it is. Nothing is good or bad, no likes or dislikes. Everything just the way it is. That’s being agnostic.

SP21T is Transendence. Loosly translated (as Swamy was speaking in Tamizh – a far deeper, more delightful & meaningful classical language), it is elevating oneself from the present state to a state that’s many levels above or beyond. In the yogic path, it is achieving the state of Samadhi – an eternal state of bliss, which enlightened beings are said to be in, all the time. 

In dance (or any performance or action), Transendence is not just for the dancer (to go from a learner to a spectacular performer) but for the spectators too (going from hmmm to wow). You should reach a level of performance where there’s no stage, no accompanying artists, no spectators, not even the dancer but just the dance. That kind of a dance would bring tears flooding from the eyes of anyone blessed to be present. Tandava certainly would’ve done that to the sages and celestial beings who may’ve witnessed it, as Tandava is the dance of transendence. Both at cosmic and atomic level as creation is also known as the dance of Shiva.

SP28Y is Yearning. Not earning, which unfortunately is the focus of many star performers in any performing art today. Without yearning for something, it’s not possible to achieve the state of transendence. The sages who’ve become enlightened have performed yoga or tapas for many years. The saptarishis have spent not one or two but 84 years in preparing themselves to receive the grace of Adiyogi, who after observing their diligent preparation has become the benevolent Adi Guru (first Guru or Master) as the benevolent Dakshinamurthi to transmit his yogic knowledge to them, several thousands of years ago.

SP23As a dancer (or anyone performing a purposeful action), you must have immense interest and expend tremendous effort to be someone that people line up to see, not because you follow the principles of dance to the T but because being part of your performance lets them transcend to a different level. That’s how you’ll be known as a Balasaraswathi, Rukmini Devi, Padma Subramaniam or Alarmelvalli. In classical music, Bho Shambho belongs to Maharajapuram Santhanam. One can’t think beyond Madurai Mani Iyer when it comes to rendering Ka Vaa Vaa. Suprabatham is synonymous with MS. The same holds true for Kanda Sashti Kavacham and Sulamangalam sisters. Such astonishing levels of achievement is possible for you too, if you truly yearn for it.

SP17A is Absolute. Adiyogi is depicted as either an ascetic in a blissed out state of meditation or ecstatic state of tandava. He’s not partially in either state but absolute in both states. Whenever you perform dance (or any other purposeful action), your intent, focus and intensity has to be absolute. Such a state is not possible if you are performing for others. The performance or action will naturally flow from within and encompass all those who are touched by the performance or action in some way, only when it is absolute. If every moment of our Life is absolute, there’s no other choice for us but to be joyful.

So, that’s the simple formula of NATYA
Nada – action in alignment with a purpose.
Agnostic – accepting Life the way it is, without any kind of bias.
Transendence – elevating oneself & others from the mundane routine to an eternal state of bliss.
Yearning – immense interest and effort to achieve peak performance.
Absolute – intent, focus & intensity to achive transendence.

SP35Nataraja’s (Shiva in the form of Lord of Dance) dance Tandava is said to depict or embody the 5 thatvasSrishti (ஆக்கல் அல்லது படைத்தல்), Sthiti (காத்தல் அல்லது பொறுத்தல்), Samhara (அழித்தல் அல்லது மாற்றல்), Tirobhava (மறைத்தல் அல்லது மாயை விளையாடல்) & Anugraha (அருளல் அல்லது விடுவித்தல்).

It’s easy to see the NATYA formula is directly associated with the 5 Tandava thatvas (தாண்டவ தத்துவம்). But if I start explaining that now, the organisers may open their Netrikkan (third eye), as we’re running out of time. So, let me conclude by requesting you to use the NATYA formula for success in your pursuit of Dance. May Nataraja’s Grace be with you for a purposeful Life of dance overflowing with Joy.

The following is an extension to the speech (not shared at the event due to paucity of time), connecting the dots between NATYA & Tandava.

SP29Nada = Srishti (creation or Shiva as the source of creation) – Life of creation (humans inclusive) in alignment with the creator.
Agnostic = Sthiti (existence or Shiva as the preserver of creation) – Accepting Life the way it is, without any personal bias.
Transendence = Samhara (transformation or Shiva as the transformer of creation) – Elevating oneself (& others in one’s presence) from the mundane routine to an eternal state of bliss
Yearning = Tirobhava (maya or Shiva as the master who plays with the ignorance of his creation) – Having immense interest and willing to expend any amount of effort to know the Truth or purpose of Life.
Absolute = Anugraha (enlightenment or Shiva as the Guru who benevolently enables one to achieve and remain in the state of eternal bliss) – Having absolute clarity of intent/purpose, total focus and burning intensity to achive self-realization.

SP34As there is Nada Yoga (yoga of sound), there is also Natya Yoga (yoga of dance or movement). Dance, when performed as an offering to the ultimate (Shiva as Nataraja) and not as a mere performance, has the potential to let the performer transcend to the state of bliss. Just the way being in the mere presence of a realized being (like Sadhguru) can elevate a seeker to a different state of Life experience (beyond the known physical, limited to the five senses), being present during the perormance of a dancer whose dance is an offering to the Lord of Dance can and will let the participants transcend to a different level of experience – akin to being present during Nataraja’s Tandava itself.

NATYA(Oct-15)May Adiyogi’s grace be with you to immerse yourself in and experience the joyful dance of Life!

@PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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Mystic Nation 1 – The God Conundrum!

18 Sep

ArtistSwamy6Swamy is fully aware of the pitfall of choosing a topic that’s pretty much guaranteed to raise passionate (and possibly violent – going by the recent murders of learned rationalists) reactions from fellow sheep, umm… humans, for the first post in the new seriesMystic Nation” (#MysticNation on social media) on demystifying the great #Bharat culture and encouraging + enabling it’s much needed revival. But having been born and brought up in this colourful milieu that survived not just one or two but many attempts at annihilation, century after century, it’s but natural for Swamy to pick a topic that exemplifies the truly liberal nature of this ancient culture.

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Bharat, aka India isn’t just a country of Gods (and Goddesses, of course – it’s important to be genetically correct in these neo-liberal days when fashionistas, feminists and femme fatales are quite vocal about gender equality – especially on primetime media, while remaining nonchalantly ignorant about daily reports on rape and other dire statistics that imperil their ilk), but a nation where you’ve the liberty to pick and choose a God. Any God, for that matter.

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KamadhenuStarting from the benevolent cow, worshipped as Gomata – mother cow, a benign being that’s quite shaken lately by finding itself suddenly on top of the TRP & trending lists, instead of its humble abode of Goshala – cowshed, because the argumentative Indian who worships the Holy Cow and drinks its milk by the litre everyday also wants to assert his right to butcher and eat her! What can one say, other than Mera Bharat Mahan!

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ArtistSwamy10Where were we… Oh, starting with the holy cow, you’re free to worship any plant (Tulsi – Basil), tree (Vembu – Neem), animal (Hanuman – Lord Monkey, Nandi – Bull), snake (many from Adisesha & Vasuki, and its abode, Putru that’s custom built by, umm… Ants), bird (Garuda – eagle), mountain (Kailash), stone (Saligram or Saalagram), geometric form (Linga – an ellipsoid), hybrid of human & animal (Ganapathy / Ganesha / Vinayaka /Vigneswara… – human form with an elephant head, Narasimhahuman form with a lion head, Hayagreeva – human form with a horse head), eerie looking beings (Kaaval deivam or deities of protection), king (Rama – Lord Ram), cowherd (Lord Krishna), female in a variety of moods wielding dreadful weapons or delightful instruments (Durga, Kali, Saraswathy, Lakshmi & a thousand other Devis – Ammans), beings with non-human features & superhuman abilities (Muruga / Karthikeya / Skandha with 6 heads & 12 arms who, as the General of Devas, extinguished Asuras like Surapadman), part male & female (Ardhanareeswara – talk about gender equality) and last but not the least, an alien being who wouldn’t fit into any kind of definition yet seem to encompass everything, even those beyond human beings’ feeble imagination, surrounded by dreadful looking demented beings (Ganas) and equally at ease in absolute silence or ecstatic dance or absolute annihilation or total bliss (Adiyogi Shiva)… The long list of Gods & Goddesses you can choose to follow and worship in Bharat is limited only by your imagination!

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ArtistSwamy9This idea of anything or anyone as God is certainly incomprehensible for those who grew up in any western civilisation, who from their childhood are brought up on a strict single God diet, eerily similar to some of those they despise and continue to wage war at – the other omnipotent God believers in the middle east, who would erase you from the face of earth without batting an eyelid, if you even dare to talk about their God. And of course, there are those who proclaim with pride their non-belief in a or any God – the atheists. And then there are also the antitheists who will beat any believer up black & blue with their vehement argument because according to them there’s not only no God, but there cannot be any!

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ArtistSwamy1But Bharat being what it was, is & will be, in typical chaotic fashion, one-ups all those binary (only mine, 1 or none, i.e. 0) believers with even more options. First, despite having a plethora of God/desses to choose from, you’re free to remain a non believer too (take that a/ntitheists), with Charvaka being a noteworthy example of this tribe. Second – and this one really takes the cake (modhak or pooran poli is more appropriate, considering today is Vinayaka Chathurti) – you can also learn how to create a God/dess! :O

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ArtistSwamy11Yep, you read that right! This is possibly the only culture with not only an in-depth science of Spirituality but also a practical technology called Consecration (no, not the Mantra-based one done every 12 or 14 years at popular temples with great publicity these days, but the Praana Pratistha process founded by Agastya muni who is considered to be one of the 7 disciples of Adiyogi Shiva, known as the Saptharishis) to create God/desses. That turns the whole Creator (supposedly somewhere way high up) creating the Creation, including us obviously, at will and basically hands over the power of creating the Creator to the Creation itself!

Know more about the science of creation from Sadhguru, a present day yogi, mystic & practitioner, in the references section below.

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… You may take a pause here, long enough to pick your fallen jaw from that Italian marble floor.
ArtistSwamy16As this is only the beginning of a – hopefully & sincerely – blog series (might become a book/s as well, who knows), instead of diving deeper into each and every God/dess mentioned here & then some, let’s look at the idea of God instead. An auspicious starting point would be none other than Ganesha or Vinayaka, Adiyogi Shiva & mother goddess Parvathi’s elder son (there are those who say Ganesha is younger to the younger son Muruga or Karthikeya, considered to be an accomplished Yogi as his illustrious mystic father), who is celebrated & worshipped across this Mystic Nation today – the auspicious day of Vinayaka Chaturthi.
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There are many interpretations of Lord Ganesha, aka Vigneswara, Vinayaka, Ganapathy, Modhakapriya, et al. Devdutt Pattanaik‘s ‘Decoding Ganeshais a good one to start with and can be found in the references section below. In a nutshell, Ganapathy (Lord of Ganas – dreadful looking celestial beings who are always found in the company Adiyogi Shiva) prepares you for the following, if you’re open enough:
ArtistSwamy31. Acceptance – By being depicted as someone who would typically be despised or laughed at in physical form (rotund human form with a pot belly & big elephant head), Ganesha symbolizes acceptance that goes beyond form, shape, hue, et al. Obviously, a valuable example in these troubled times of racial angst and outbursts the world over.
ArtistSwamy182. Equality – The little mouse that’s at Ganesha’s feet depicts even the meek or not-so-equals are accepted as company and taken care of. A useful insight for all supervisors, managers and, ahem, bosses.
3. Physicality – Vinayaka’s form & associated ornaments – snake being one of them, gadgets (axe & ankusa) & delicious food (modhak & pooran poli) depict the material aspects of Life that hold us back from pursuit of Truth, i.e., Who am I? Something worth remembering before you sign the EMI forms for the 2nd house or 4th car.
ArtistSwamy144. Possibility The little mouse (Devdutt enchantingly calls it a ferocious bandicoot) is even depicted as Ganesha’s vehicle – just imagine that! Well, that too is a depiction in typical Bharat style, indicating one must learn to look beyond the obvious. The mouse’s depiction as vehicle of the rotund God possibly depicts size doesn’t matter and nothing is impossible. In fact, Ganesha’s creation (first by Parvathi and then by Adiyogi Shiva – both accomplished Yogis with absolute mastery over all realms & forms) itself is a depiction of the possibilities of creation. An energising thought to ponder before you go back to the BAUHumbug routine job.
ArtistSwamy45. Truth – By nature, humans are tuned to sense the physical form, with their 5 senses (seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting & feeling by touching) and hardly use the 6th sense (thinking) to go beyond the physical realm. Considering Vigneswara is the eradicator of all hurdles, if one learns to see past Ganesha’s form (which itself is many layered and enchanting to know – depicting our desire to know & be with fellow humans, who too are many layered), he depicts none other than the Truth itself, i.e., Aham Brahmasmi or I am Brahman (the source of creation). It won’t be far from truth to say this is the precedent to the long-winding talks about ‘Beyond the obvious’ & ‘Thinking out of the box’ by many modern management & leadership gurus! 
ArtistSwamy7Now that dear reader – the freedom to seek & experience the Truth, going beyond the myriad forms of God/desses (one or many), is the sacred thread that still holds this ancient culture intact, even after many mighty warriors tried to plunder, destroy, rule and annihilate Bharat, over many centuries. In this Mystic Nation, God was never a conundrum, but a potent idea. Not just an enchanting idea about esoteric superhuman beings who looked like humans (because we sketched / crafted them from our limited imagination), but about beings who depict a higher possibility for humans to attain. To transcend the physical limitation and be free… be one with the eternal source of creation.
ArtistSwamy2Not only this Mystic Nation has many God/desses, it also had/s possibly the most number of enlightened beings (the yogis & mystics who have experienced the Truth & attained a state of eternal bliss, transcending the physical) that graced this planet, have devised mechanisms & paths for any and every human being to seek liberation, which was considered the ultimate goal of human existence, not reaching esoteric places like heaven or hell, after death!
ArtistSwamy5aSuch benevolent beings – starting from Adiyogi Shiva himself (celebrated and worshipped as one of the Trimurti, i.e. triumvirate of Gods, along with Vishnu & Brahma), who as Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy transmitted his knowing to Devi first (expounded as the 112 ways to liberation in Vigyan Bhairav Tantra) and then seven disciples known as the Saptharishis on the auspicious Guru Purnima, the pantheon of enlightened beings is long, including but not limited to Lord Muruga (who is said to have left his physical form in a rare standing posture at the Kumaraparvata mountain), Lord Krishna (considered one of the greatest yogis ever to tread this land), Gautama the Buddha (founder of Buddhism who at a point in time is said to have had thousands of enlightened beings as disciples), Rishabha (presumed to be the founder of Jainism), Goraknath, Akkamadevi, Sadasiva Brahmendra, Sri Palani Swami, Sadhguru Sri BrahmaLahiri MahasayaSri Yukteswar Giri, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharishi, Osho, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta MaharajRamalinga Vallalar and many more.
Sadhguru_Quote3Such beings are still among us – a few well known and many unknown. One such is Swamy’s Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation. And with deep reverence, Swamy submits this first post of his new “Mystic Nation” (#MysticNation) series at the lotus feet of his enlightened Master, whose boundless grace will shine the light on this new path Swamy has chosen to tread, with limited experience but unlimited enthusiasm. Shambho _/\_
… enchantment will flow…
@PrakashSwamy
Note: All sketches & paintings (except Kamadhenu) are Swamy’s own creations – out of imagination or inspired by other skilled artists – drawn during his youth.
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edited_1442284271572References:
Decoding Ganesha – Devdutt Pattanaik

Swamystery in 2014!

31 Dec Realization

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for Swamystery blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The LaaSting Truth of Life!

5 Dec

Life! Ah, that wonderful opportunity given to every single being – human or otherwise – to learn, do, know, share, care, enjoy and cherish through active engagement and experiences of every moment of our existence. What can one say about the marvellous Game of Life, with ample twists and turns that can rival any nail biting live sports event, other than the fact that most of us just meander through the Absurdity of Existence, without ever realising the true value of Living Life!

Kalachakra2From birth, the start of an Endless Beginning called Life (which isn’t in our hand), till death, the Middle of the Endless Beginning (which obviously isn’t in our hand either, unless we’re suicidal – even then the probability of ending Life is less than Fifty-50), we appear to be forever in limbo, either completely ignorant of this precious gift or totally unaware of the magnificence of the Dance of Life, all around us, every moment of our existence, just waiting for us to experience it, as it is. We invariably fail to learn the A-Z of Life and instead sweat and toil to live the Life as expected by others. What a wasted opportunity, for the Present becomes Past in Future in the blink of an eye and there’s no guarantee that realization may happen in the birth to follow, immediately after or the innumerable ones thereafter.

LingaBhairaviFret not, before you throw up your arms in despair and scowl “Holy cow, how the heck do I know the mo(o)ral of the Life story!” and conclude in typical human hurry “No we can’t!“, for Swamy has woken up to the fact that there’s a much simpler way, at least to make an attempt at comprehending Life the way it is, without the need for a convoluted theory or complicated formula, which is what we invariably end up discovering or inventing for anything and everything to do with Life. This insight on how to Light up your Life came to Swamy, when he was part of a series of events in the past few weeks that have opened his eyes wide with amazement (not bewilderment as many might expect or even pray for), at the sheer simplicity of it. It’s certainly not something he could lay claim to as a personal discovery, but just an awakening of the Element of Truth that has happened within, when it was time for it to happen. 

Monkay1Many a knowledgable soul among Swamy’s keen blog readers (a perplexing tribe that never fails to read but perennially stops short of commenting or sharing!) may’ve known about the four paths to realization, i.e., Bakthi, Gnana, Karma and Kriya or Raja yoga (nope, Swamy’s own SISA yoga won’t find a place in this elite list ever, despite you wishing for it – here are 8 reasons why wishing is just wishful). There have been many a realized being in this planet, whose lives evidently portray that each of these paths do work, like Skill Pills for Mukti, and are really the means to an end – the same end that’s also known as the ultimate and only Truth. Here are just a few of the many, who realized the Truth through 5-Why of Life and chose to light the path for any.

Disclaimer: The mapping of the extraordinary beings whose names adorn the following sections of this blog post with the four paths of Yoga is purely Swamy’s own interpretation based on his limited knowledge and not to be misinterpreted in any way as a decisive conclusion. The list isn’t conclusive either for there are many realized Masters who’ve never revealed themselves to the world!

krishna-gopisPrabhupada Baktivedanta Swami, the founder of ISKCON or Hare Krishna movement professed the path of Bakthi yoga that has millions renunciate their material way of Life and melt in Krishna consciousness. Swamy can never forget the sentence an ISKCON Swami (formerly an IT professional from Russia) told at the magnificent Palace of Gold temple at West Virginia, USA. When asked how he ended up as a priest at the Krishna shrine, he said, “Krishna is more beautiful than ‘C’ (a computer programming language)!” Surdas, Ramdas, Kabir, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a multitude of Nayanmars and Aazhvars are all proponents of this path, which exemplifies the simplicity of seeking the Truth through this path of devotion, for any and every being.

RamanaMaharishiBhagavan Ramana Maharishi, the renowned saint of Thiruvannamalai, is probably the most popular renunciate of the Gnana yoga path that the world has known.Who am I?was his simple sutra, which when contemplated upon, while continuously looking inward, will eventually lead the seeker to realize the Truth. While appearing deceptively simple – the nature of Truth is such – many seekers have said this is the hardest path for realization. Jiddu Krishnamurti, whose works are in publication extensively around the world even now, and Nisargadatta Maharaj whose book I am That is considered a seminal treatise of the Truth, are the other famous proponents of this path of intellect.

krishnaLord Krishna, who is invariably – and inevitably – the center of the Bakthi yoga universe, is also the greatest proponent of Karma yoga, which is available to all in the form of that immensely popular and widely read, interpreted and quoted immortal scripture Bhagavad Gita. His enchanting Life, in its entirety, is said to be the best possible evidence available to any seeker on the sheer stupidity of the maya of Life, the way we know and live it, and the magnificence of Life, the way it is meant to be lived. Revered beings such as Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi are also exponents of this path, whose Life is their message to seekers. Swami Chinmayananda, a non-believer turned seeker with the grace of his Guru Swami Tapovanam, and Swami Sivananda, who guided him to his Guru, also belong to this path of action.

Dhyana1The last but not the least (in fact, it is probably the most) of the four paths is Kriya yoga, practiced and transmitted by many an enlightened Master from time immemorial in this once great nation, where seeking Mukti was the sole purpose of every single soul, once upon a time. Also known as Raja Yoga, this is considered the path of the kings among seekers, though once a seeker, one soon realizes there isn’t any difference between a prince and a pauper. Starting from none other than Adi Yogi Shiva himself, this path has been illuminated by many Masters across millennia, the Siddhas including sage Patanjali and Agastya muniGautama the BuddhaParamahamsa Yogananda (and his Guru lineage starting from Mahavatar Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya to Sri Sri Yukteswar), Swamy’s Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, have all attained enlightenment through this magnificent path of energy that requires utmost diligence through unwavering focus and practice. In fact, Paramahamsa Yogananda includes Jesus Christ too as an exponent of this mystic path.

Interestingly (or intriguingly – to us lesser mortals), many illuminated souls are also bridges between two or more paths or can even thought to be as a confluence of the many paths leading to the one Truth.

Adi_SankaraAdi Sankara, who singlehandedly revived this nation’s culture Sanatana Dharma, within a brief lifetime of 32 years can easily span across all four paths. He’s established Jyotirlingas and Shakti peethas for both Bakthi yoga (temples as places of devotion) and Kriya yoga (temples as consecrated spaces for energy processes); produced a voluminous work of verses and interpretation of scriptures that span both Bakthi (chanting for daily rituals and singing verses in praise of the divine) and Gnana (contemplation of truth through interpretation of sutras) yoga; performed incredible deeds at a superhuman pace, within an impossibly short duration as if there’s no tomorrow, exemplifying the power of Karma yoga.

BuddhaGautama the Buddha, who renounced a princely Life to meditate and contemplate upon the misery (and mystery) of Life, got enlightened through Gnana yoga. But he also created a step-by-step process based on his realization – the Dhammapada – for any seeker to realize the Truth, through diligent (almost dry) daily practice, which in essence is Kriya yoga. He’s said to have had thousands of enlightened beings around, all attaining realization through his path, during his lifetime itself!

Inner_Engineering3Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a contemporary Yogi, Mystic and visionary spiritual leader who founded Isha Yoga (Yoga of the Divine) to guide any seeker on the Kriya yoga path to self-realization, is a living Master who has created and put into action one of the finest examples of the blend of the four paths. Sadhguru has created the one-of-its-kind Dhyanalinga yogic temple (over three lifetimes), a perennial source of energy in the primordial form of Linga, at the foothills of Velliangiri mountains (also known as the South Kailash) through the ancient process of Prana Pratishtha (created by Agastya muni, one of the seven direct disciples – Saptarishis – of Adi Yogi Shiva), with the sole purpose of aiding any soul seeking liberation through transmission of powerful energy. He has also consecrated the Linga Bhairavi Devi temple, to aid the seekers of the Bakthi yoga path. His many publications – videos, discourses, books, blogs, et al – are handy guides offering striking clarity on all things about the Truth of Life for seekers of the Gnana yoga path. The multifarious activities – rural upliftment through free health and education, environmental nourishment and recharge through Green initiatives and cultural revival through promotion of arts, crafts and festivals, that happen within and outside the Ashram through the Isha Foundation, primarily through volunteering of meditators and seekers, is the best example of Karma yoga in action.

Shiva_AdiGuruThere are many who continue to draw parallels between Sadhguru and Osho (Bhagwan Rajneesh), for both of them have shared extensive insights into many aspects of spirituality that were considered mysterious and mystical, from their own personal experience of the Truth, thereby simplifying the seeking of those who long to realize the Truth. Both have also devised the technology and techniques to put into practice the ancient science of Yoga, said to have been unraveled by Adi Yogi Shiva, who in turn transformed into Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy to share his knowledge and wisdom with his significant half Shakti first and the Saptha Rishis (who in turn spread them far and wide across the planet) later. The essence of this science was then documented by Yogi Patanjali in the form of Yoga Sutras.

Thinking_ChimpComing back to where this post has originated (and compelled by the need for this to be concluded – as this is just a blog post and not one of the many books that Swamy contemplates to eventually write and publish), i.e., the eye-opening experiences of Swamy in the past few weeks, happened in a series of events or programs in which he volunteered or participated.

First was a 7-day Isha Yoga program conducted in his neighbourhood. Second was a 4-day Leadership development program conducted by two Lions of their domain – RamCharan and Sadhguru. Third was a couple of highly competitive international sports events that his son (a professional Chess player of some repute) was part of. Fourth was the final stage of a Coaching certification training program. And fifth was a Marathon run in which he has participated, along with a few friends, fellow seekers and his significant half.

Kailash8For the first event, Swamy has volunteered for the entire duration of the program for the first time (he has done so for only a day or two in the past). Having been initiated into the spiritual path on March 1, 2009 (that has progressed till the 7-day Samyama program and Kailash-Manasarovar yatra this year), through the same program conducted at his workplace, it should’ve been quite normal to be part of that program again, albeit in a different role. Having to wake up before dawn for seven straight days, complete the daily practices and then rush to the program venue for volunteering should’ve been taxing, but wasn’t. It was a ‘be there and do what(ever) is required at that point in time’ kind of activity, with no material benefits for the effort, which should’ve been demotivating, but wasn’t. Inexplicably, instead of being disenchanted at the prospect of performing simple tasks at the behest of the Swami (an ordained Brahmachari from Isha ashram) who conducted the program and his co-teacher (a resident of the ashram), Swamy ended up realizing the bountiful nature of his Master’s boundless grace by just being present during the program, doing any and every activity that was requested of him. Unsurprisingly, he has resolved to volunteer for more such programs in the future!

20131124_075227For the second event, which was paid for and attended by luminaries from many industries and professions, Swamy volunteered expecting to be part of the core group that hobnobbed with the who’s who of Indian business world. In typical Isha way (Sadhguru’s deflating-the-ego-balloon acts have to be experienced to be believed), he was asked to be part of the Dining team, that served food for all the participants, three times a day for four days. Now, dining doesn’t mean only serving food, but also moving, organizing and cleaning food, thrice a day. Invariably, most of the time post serving food, one won’t get to taste many of the delicacies served to participants but has to settle down for whatever is left and other simpler food that are made exclusively for the volunteers. The physically tiresome activity was the least of the bother, while being amidst a bunch of cheerful volunteers that included bubbly Isha Home School senior students, radiant ashram residents and the majestic presence of the Master himself on many occasions during the four days. At the end of it, what dawned upon Swamy is the fact that being useful doing what’s needed at any point in time is a lot more precious than being valuable based on one’s professional experience, only during some points in time.

AK_Hyd_Tournament2For the third set of events, Swamy was a mere observer – of a decade long journey gaining acceleration at a crucial point in time, decisively driving towards the desired destination. Jr. has just secured his first IM (International Master – a title awarded to professional Chess players with an ELO rating of 2400 and 3 such norms, gained in as many or more top level tournaments) norm with some more altitude to scale, but his game has suddenly transcended to an altogether different level, boosting the confidence of the collective family that includes his beloved Mother with a steely determination and fierce focus and talented + committed Coach who seeks to scale the peak of Chess eminence through his ward. As the long cherished dream of an entire family that chose a different path for their offspring (amidst many a raised eyebrow that rose in utter disbelief of what was perceived to be a mindless act of thoughtless souls) nears its culmination in the form of Swamy Jr. earning the coveted title of GrandMaster in the game of Chess, Swamy couldn’t help wondering how it was all made possible through selfless sacrifice of all those who’ve been part of the eventful and exciting journey.

20131129_164408For the fourth event, Swamy was part of a group of enthusiasts, who’ve embarked on the journey of learning and qualifying to be Coaches, who can help clients discover the path to their destiny, by seeking and discovering the answers to all their question within. Unlike a Mentor, who guides by sharing the essential answers by digging deep within one’s own vast experience, a Coach is barred from offering readymade solutions from personal experience. Being a Coach is mastering the art of active listening and astute questioning (something that every human loves to do, but isn’t really capable of doing with the requisite finesse or panache) and tying oneself down willingly to just that. In a way, it is conditioning oneself to forget what one knows well, for the duration of each coaching session at least, and help the client unearth precious gems of Truth, hidden deep within his or her own self.

20131201_085652For the fifth event, a popular annual Marathon race in the city of his residence, Swamy participated despite a battered knee that wouldn’t allow him to run (the result of a sports accident and the aftermath of its [mis]treatment and corrective surgery by two doctors from the opposite ends of the medical spectrum during his high school days). He chose to participate for supporting Isha Vidhya – an education initiative by Isha Foundation for providing free matriculation education to rural children – and simply walked the 10 km distance instead (his significant half also walked alongside for the first few kilometres). At the end, what mattered was just being part of the event supporting a noble cause and not the longer time taken to complete the race.

Sadhguru-Prana-Pratishta-1-500x375As an astute reader (all those who care to read Swamy’s post indeed are ;), you may’ve already noticed the common thread tying the five events that appear disparate but are beaded together intricately (ahem, not for nothing is Swamy considered an exponent of the art of connecting the dots – oops.. time to say yes to no and deflate the “i”nflated ego :O). It is the act of being selfless, for a cause (a personal or common goal), giving wholeheartedly whatever is required to further the cause, while thinking less and less of one’s own self. Like a lamp; a candle; a ladder; a flower; a fruit; a tree; a dog; a cow; mother earth; the sun; every Guru that has graced this universe showering their boundless grace ever so benevolently on any who was in need; and so many other such magnanimous ones that exemplify the utter pointlessness of being selfish, especially in the illuminating light of being selfless, not for the sake of others, but for the fact that one can be so and there is always a need for the ones who choose to be so.

Thinking2In essence, all the five events had the same thing in common. Less of the self, which is as close to being totally selfless (something that animals – not just pets, mind you – have mastered from time immemorial, despite their perceived handicap of having one less sense than us humans) that a normal being can get to. And this self becoming less and less significant obviously happened in stages, over a period of time. That inevitably led to the realization that Less is More, when it comes to knowing Life the way it is. The less one thinks of oneself, the more the joy of helping others is, that could bring Joy Drops streaming down while doing so. And volunteering is one of the best (and possibly the easiest) ways of giving oneself totally to others’ cause, thereby offering oneself the opportunity to grow From Ordinary to Extra Ordinary. Volunteering is the way to experience the enchanting non-linear nature of Life, by offering one’s own Life as a Service (LaaS – for the jargon oriented and challenged alike). That, my dear reader, is The LaaSting Truth of Life!

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Silence is the Way!

24 Jun

Sadhguru_Kailash11 living Master – a Yogi, Mystic and Visionary humanitarian all rolled into a form that’s pure energy, which is beyond the perception of those like this self, limited to only the five senses. The only one who has created the Creator himself in the form of Dhyanalinga – the only one existent on this planet at this point – over a period of 3 lifetimes, using the ancient mystic process called Prana Prathishta!

1202 participants – men and women of all ages, clad in all-white attire, with no identity other than a number! Swamy became 926 (that they add up to 8, his birth number, at the age of 44, which too adds up to 8, isn’t just a coincidence, but most certainly providence)!

Samyama88 days of intense and deep meditative process – in absolute silence, inexplicably interspersed with a variety of sounds, involuntary action and uncontrollable downpour (from the eyes of meditators inside and sky outside). No communication, gestures or interaction of any kind were allowed among the participants, with the processes interrupted only for consuming (raw) food, taking bio breaks and sleeping on designated time (no watch or clock to be found anywhere)!

60 days of preparation – at least 3-4 hours of practices every day with severe food restrictions, in order to get the physical body, i.e., manifest, with its rigid boundaries and constraints, ready to receive the Master’s energy with the possibility to transcend to or at least get a glimpse of the non-physical, i.e., unmanifest, in order to try and comprehend, with whatever limited comprehension we have, Life the way it is!

4 qualifying programs – over a period of time (4 years for Swamy) and a pre-program meet + interview where participants were gently offered many a chance to drop off, as this isn’t just another Yoga program for any aspirant, but usually offered to only the closest and trusted handful of disciples of a Guru!

250 volunteers who too have to adhere to similar conditions as the participants and have to ensure the participants’ wellbeing, timeliness and active participation – over and above their own daily practices!

Shiva_AdiGuruA Life altering experience that’s so different for each participant, despite all of them being part of the same process and being close to each other in the same energy space, that’s especially consecrated to enable intense yogic processes! Offered free – including food, water and stay for all 8 days!

Words are utterly inadequate to capture the experience this self went through in Samyama, along with 1201 fellow Isha meditators from June 12-19, in the presence of my Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev at the Adi Yogi Aalayam in Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore!

Sadhguru-Prana-Pratishta-1-500x375This blog post – poem rather, which is more apt, considering my Master also happens to be an accomplished poet – about the program is probably as simple and abstract as the process yet could be as profound as the experience itself. It may not convey anything at all or it might touch your core and shake it at the very root and raise the longing within to seek the eternal truth, just as it has done for Swamy. Shambho!

Silence is the call of the divine!

Noise is how we try to understand any communication, which is no different from the bovine?

Silence is the medium for transformation of the soul!

Noise is the way of transaction of ideas and thoughts through words, eerily similar to an animal’s howl?

Silence is singular and omnipresent, yet not listened to by many!

Noise is varied in form, tone and pitch, yet conveys little to a limited number of listeners, if any?

Silence, when deep, will open the floodgates of tears!

Noise, when loud, will force one to close both ears?

Silence is easy to practice, even in large groups!

Noise isn’t that easy to avoid, even in small troops?

Silence pervades deep within and can result in instinctive action!

Noise prevails at surface level and mostly results in impulsive reaction?

Silence establishes a strong connection between the transmitter, aka, Guru and the receiver, i.e., the seeker!

Noise the weakest connection between two that conveys very little to a listener from the speaker?

Silence is practiced by most beings other than human, living or not!

Noise is prevalent among humans, who don’t care to comprehend this gift that all other beings got?

Silence is the white light that illuminates the soul and guides one on the journey to self-realization!

Noise is the black hole that sucks away all energy and misguides one on the tour of self-preservation?

Silence is the symphony where the body, mind and soul synchronize in perfect harmony!

Noise is the cacophony that tears apart any semblance of vibration, resulting in utter disharmony?

Silence is the gentle breeze that lets one sway to the tune of nature!

Noise is the typhoon that blasts away one’s ability to listen, reducing all and sundry to a mere caricature?

Silence is the only manure ever needed for the self to blossom!

Noise over a long tenure will drown one inside a painful, worry filled chasm?

Silence is the source of creation, emanating from the sacred AUM!

Noise is the cause of destruction, encircling us in a meaningless word filled storm?

Silence is the eternal state of bliss, for all realized beings!

Noise is the infernal state that has gone amiss, for most human beings?

For all those who chose to merely exist in this lifetime, noise holds sway?

For the few who chose to live Life the way it is, Silence is the Way!

Dhyanalinga3

Shambho and the 7th Hill!

19 Mar

ShivangaThe sun was blazing bright but the gentle breeze soothed our tired bodies. At around 1.30 pm on 11th March 2013, the day after Mahashivarathri, after a 7-hour strenuous trek up the mountains, this self stood among thousands of other Shivangas on the top of the sacred 7th hill of Velliangiri mountains, to conclude the 42-day Shivanga sadhana. As we looked at the Swayambhu Linga, where the final stage of the process has to be performed, joy drops flowed from my eyes uncontrollably – just as they invariably do in the presence of my Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. The physical improbability of the task that we’ve just accomplished made me speechless and even more humble than I was, when I began the sadhana. And we were already an hour behind schedule for the descent, which will take nearly the same time as the ascent!

ShivangaNote to Readers: This post is my first person experience of a spiritual process that I’ve recently undertaken – especially the concluding part of it. If you’re expecting Swamy’s ‘Monday Morning Post’ as usual, you’re in for a surprise – of the pleasant kind. Of course, another post – “7 Life Lessons from Shivanga!” – usual or otherwise, will be published next week! And btw, if you notice the more than usual usage of “I” all through this post (assuming you’ve by now chosen to go beyond this para), be assured that it is purely for the purpose of narrating this fascinating experience within the language’s constraints, and not in any way a depiction of this self’s ego!

Shivanga1The Shivanga sadhana was announced by Sadhguru for the first time this year and promptly taken up by over 6000 Isha meditators globally, on Thaipoosam day. For a period of 42 days, the sadhakas went through a routine including a process named Shiva Namaskar (to be performed 21 times before or after sunrise, on empty stomach), chanting a mantra three times, twice a day after bathing (there were days when I had to do it just before midnight!), not consuming any regular food – liquid or solid – till 12 pm every day (other than a handful of groundnuts soaked in water the previous night and lemon juice with honey) and limiting food intake only 2 meals after that during the entire day. Sadhakas were also advised to avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and consuming non-vegetarian food during the period of sadhana (no brainer for a non-smoking, vegetarian teetotaler such as self).

MahaShivarathri3The conclusion of sadhana was to start on Mahashivarathri night at the Dhyanalinga yogic temple at the foothills of Velliangiri mountains and conclude with a trek up the 7 hills of Velliangiri mountains, also known as Then Kailayam (South Kailash), where Adi Yogi Shiva himself is said to have spent some time. Just like the lakhs of Isha meditators and Shiva bakthas who congregate at the Isha Yoga center on that auspicious day, all the Shivangas too stayed awake on Mahashivarathri night, immersed in the grace of Sadhguru and Shambho, during the night long celebrations at the Isha Yoga Center.

Shivanga1At midnight, after the Mahamanthra (Aum Namah Shivaya) chant by Sadhguru, the sadhakas walked from the Mahashivarathri venue (about 2-3 kms away from the Ashram) to the Dhyanalinga temple and performed the first stage of the offering that included the Biksha hundi with amount collected from pious and benevolent souls for Annadhanam (free meal), which is offered to all who participate in the Mahashivarathri celebrations  worldwide, along with a coconut (first of three) and sesame seeds, both tied in black cloths.

Dhyanalinga3Our trek to the Velliangiri Mountains started at around 6 am in the morning after Mahashivarathri, after Sadhguru concluded the celebrations with the Shambho chanting. Shirtless and without footwear (at least most of us), we reached the Velliangiri Aandavar temple at Poondi at 6.40 am and performed the second stage of the offering – breaking the second coconut – and started the trek up the 7 hills. We were all offered food and water for the trek at the Isha Yoga center – apart from a cup of delicious Kanji (gruel) on the way to the foothills – and also the choice of collecting a stick to help with the trek. I skipped collecting the stick and went ahead as there were thousands waiting for that – a mistake that I’ll regret within hours.

Velliangiri6Velliangiri is a mountain whose raw, pristine nature hasn’t been spoilt by modern technology yet. And probably won’t for many years to come. While the 1st and 7th hills can be termed the hardest to trek, the other five aren’t far behind on the hardness scale. The first 3 hills wind through dense forest (protecting the trekkers from the sun that was already out in all its morning glory) and have some semblance of steps made of rocks, some of which were missing at many places. The hills were steep and the trek up was slow. While going up, we continued to see many trekkers coming downhill. They were Shiva devotees from nearby places – including the elderly and children – who started their trek on Mahashivarathri night. Some of them seem to perform the trek occasionally during Amavasya (new moon) and Pournami (full moon) days. Many curious Shivangas obviously asked them about how long it’ll take to reach the peak and which hill we were in at that point in time. While none of the descending devotees offered much hope to us who’ve just started the ascent, invariably all of them were either amused or surprised by the large group of novices who were attempting this strenuous (we came to know of it only much later – apparently displayed in a board at the Poondi temple) trek, that too after dawn. They were certainly not amused by the traffic jam we were creating – not just due to our sheer numbers but also due to our naiveté.

Velliangiri7It didn’t take much longer for us to realize that just physical prowess doesn’t guarantee the completion of Velliangiri trek, whose challenge level kept increasing till one reaches the crest, and blissfully repeats all over again, while coming down! It’s certainly not possible without either blind faith (which the descending trekkers obviously had – in Lord Shiva) or practice + faith (which we did for 42 days and had in Sadhguru). Of course, there were groups of youth who did it probably just for the heck of it. Then again, youth are known to do such things impulsively, just to prove a point to themselves and to the world and should hence be considered an exception than rule. With the right preparation and commitment, the possibility of receiving grace is higher for a sadhaka. But the trek proved that practicing a process at home is vastly different from performing a trek on the mountain!

Velliangiri2The 42 day preparation was obviously for getting this frail physical body ready for what’s near impossible for lesser mortals. The Shiva Namaskar did prepare our ankles, knees, hip and arms – pretty much all the vital joints – for this trek. The diet restrictions made us lighter (many well-wishers observed that I’ve lost weight during the sadhana period), enabling the ascent for most of us. One of the items we were told to consume in empty stomach each morning during the sadhana (few neem leaves and black pepper soaked in honey overnight) must’ve also strengthened the physical body for what it would be subjected to during the trek. But despite all that preparation and strict adherence to the guidelines, it was amply clear that the completion of this trek would be possible only with Sadhguru‘s grace!

MuladharaChakraThe 7 hills are said to represent the 7 Chakras in our bodies. While the transition from 1 Chakra to another is seamless during the trek (it obviously isn’t that simple within our physical body), each hill was distinct and different, indicating the unique nature of each Chakra. As most of us are typically stuck in Mooladhara Chakra (1st or Root Chakra) itself, many sadhakas sat down to eat their food after the 1st or 2nd hill itself. But after consuming food, it became even harder for them to continue. Later in the night, we came to know that not all sadhakas have successfully completed the trek. Many apparently returned without making it till the 7th hill! And not all of them stopped due to a physical ailment, which several other sadhakas have overcome to complete the trek, living the quote “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Shivanga3I was going along with a relative (an Ashram resident married to my cousin sister, who was kind enough to get me a guest pass for Mahashivarathri) and a few friends of his – at least till the 2nd hill. We shared fruits (probably the only wise thing I did – as I missed out on getting both the health kit and the stick) and light snacks such as dry fruits and nuts, during brief stopovers. After the 2nd, some of them have progressed much faster, which isn’t a surprise for long term meditators, who’ve been practicing Kriya for several years (both my cousin sister and her husband – younger than self – have joined the Ashram full-time about four years ago as ‘Class Parents’ in the Isha Home School (their child also studies in that school), an enchanting model that’s based on ISCE curriculum but one that turns the whole education system on its head, for good. They diligently follow several spiritual practices, every single day.

20130311_102951One of my relative’s friends had a physical condition, which made even normal walking, sitting down or turning his head in any direction strenuous. A long term meditator himself, he continued to be my motivation during the entire trek. We both went slowly compared to many who went ahead merrily, covering one hill at a time. When we eventually got closer to the 5th hill, he couldn’t move any further due to severe dehydration, which brought to light the other mistake I’ve committed – not carrying electrolytes or glucose, a must have for such treks. I wasn’t doing any better with a twice repaired knee crying to be spared immediately and a cramped thigh too begging me to stop right away. I offered him an orange, but that wasn’t sufficient to get him back on his feet. We just waited at a narrow passage with some shade – he panting and I massaging my cramped thigh – wondering what to do next!

Velliangiri4All along the trek, everyone was helped by someone. All were just Shivangas, with no class or social status separating us. Without our shirts (which we were told to take off while taking Biksha during the sadhana period also – to ensure not a trace of “I” was left in us) and the constant chant of Shambho on our lips, we were just a thousand versions of the same self. There were a few foreigners as well, at least one of whom was attempting this trek for the second time. Chanting Shiva and Shambho continuously, he suddenly asked for North at noon to many Shivangas and moved to a shaded part of the path to offer Namaz, before continuing the trek again.

Velliangiri23-640x3601All Shivangas were addressed simply as Anna (brother), just as all meditators and visitors are addressed at the Isha Yoga center and Isha programs (women are addressed as Akka – sister). While one sadhaka offered electrolyte for my dehydrated friend, another readily gave lemon and honey to mix with water. Eventually he felt better – relatively speaking, of course – and slowly started to walk again. Having done this trek once before – when he was much healthier – he told me that the path would dip at the 5th hill before ascending again. It certainly did, with sheer drops without any steps at a few places. We eventually reached a Sunai (natural spring) with cold water to soothe our feet and throats. When we went past that and took a right turn, the sacred 7th hill appeared majestically, and took our breath away. And what a sight it was to behold!

By the time we reached the beginning of the sacred 7th hill, I had absolutely no strength left in my physical body to move any further. I just stood there looking forlornly at the peak and was ready to concede my quest and conclude that this is the end of my Shivanga sadhana. All the diligent daily practices weren’t sufficient to go any further. Alas, what did I know?

AjnaChakraAt that point of utter despair, on top of the 6th hill, I closed my eyes, dropped the “I” (whatever was still left of it) and surrendered unconditionally to my Master, seeking his grace to somehow complete the sadhana. I pleaded to him that I did perform the sadhana diligently and wholeheartedly – as if he didn’t know about who did or didn’t. Sadhguru must’ve seen the plight of this pitiful soul in his Ajna chakra (the 6th Chakra, also known as the 3rd Eye, located between the 2 eyebrows) and decided to lift the cobwebs of doubts clouding my mind about how to continue the trek and enable my limp legs to go beyond their limits. Help came instantly in the form of another Shivanga!

MahaShivarathri-Padam-drawingMy friend who was beside me by now (we kept catching up with each other at many stages, with him leading the way for the most part) looked at my condition and asked if I can continue. He obviously appeared ready to go till the top, clearly defying his physical condition. I told him that if I had a stick, I could at least give it a try. Exactly at that moment, his friend (an ISRO scientist and Isha meditator, who was with us during Mahashivarathri event also) came down the 7th hill and upon my benevolent friend’s request, offered his stick to me, without even thinking about his own descent. Using the stick as my 3rd leg, I started pulling my other 2 legs upwards, one slow step after the other. And what a final stage of trek that was!

Velliangiri5The 7th hill is mysterious, raw, challenging and can’t be scaled with sheer physical ability alone. It has no steps for climbing and whatever appears to be the path twists upwards and turns many times. So, every time one thinks that this is it, there’s just one more turn, upwards. I would tread about 10 steps and then hold on to the stick to catch my breath and then push myself for another ten. This went for more than an hour – on just the 7th hill. Seeing my friend ahead of me, I kept telling myself that “if he could, I should.” The slow trek on the sacred 7th hill helps one realize that Shiva and Sadhguru aren’t simple beings for us to comprehend, understand and appreciate. Both are simply beyond the physical dimension bound by five senses, which we’re limited to. After more than an hour of painfully slow progress, the first paragraph of this post happened!

A temple on routeWe completed the final offering (breaking the 3rd coconut) to the Swayambhu Linga at the hilltop (where I offered a prayer for all the Shivangas and those who offered Biksha for my own sadhana) and slowly moved to the other side of the hill (the path was so narrow that only one person at a time could pass). To our surprise – a welcome one, for a change – ice cold wind swept at us, exemplifying the title ‘Then Kailayam‘ (South Kailash) for this mountain. As we sat down to have the packed food before the descent, the journey so far flashed past in my memory and helped in understanding the difference between pain and suffering. Sadhguru used to tell that while pain is there in the physical body for all – enlightened being or otherwise – suffering is made up by the mind, and hence can be alleviated. While there was a tremendous amount of pain all over the body, most of the sadhakas – including self – were feeling elated at that time than deflated.

Sadhguru_DevotionShivanga showed in a matter-of-fact manner that it is indeed possible to go beyond one’s physical limits. I was unable to go past the 6th hill not more than an hour ago, with a severe cramp in the thigh apart from a twice repaired knee that was hurting and my feet, which were used to walking around in comfy shoes for more than two decades, were begging me not to go any further. Many of us pushed ourselves beyond our physical limits (something many meditators also experience during the advanced Isha Yoga programs) and managed to complete the trek with Sadhguru‘s grace. Before we lost ourselves in the serenity of the sacred 7th hill and the pristine nature pulsating with Life all around it, we had to remind ourselves that there’s a long trek back to the foothills and the Ashram, for finally concluding the process that started over 42 days ago!

Velliangiri1The descent was not an easier one by any means, but the stick that I got from a benevolent Shivanga (I sincerely hope he didn’t suffer too much without the stick on his way back) was handy. I waited for my friend – assuming he should be somewhere behind me – for about 15 minutes, near the Sunai at the 6th hill. Not only due to gratitude – I certainly owed the final stage of the trek to him for getting me his friend’s stick – but also out of concern due to his physical condition. Not finding him even after hundreds of Shivangas passed me by, I started my slow descent, praying for his safe return. Little did I know that my Master had a plan for each and every Shivanga on that special day of our lives!

Dhyanalinga1At either the 4th or 3th hill, I acquainted another friendly Shivanga – a happy soul  walking along with some of his friends – who shared many a topic of common interest with self. That he too worked in the IT industry was just coincidental. With dusk approaching fast, we slowly made our way down, marveling about the whole Shivanga process, its effect on each of us and how Life would be from now on for us. We were both amazed by the multiple facets of Isha Yoga, Sadhguru’s boundless grace for all beings, Dhyanalinga’s meditativeness and Linga Bhairavi’s benevolent control over her devotees and continued to discuss many topics including, but not limited to, the following.

  • Velliangiri4-640x360While many youngsters struggled with the trek, few elders – including a Shivanga who was over 70 years old and came along with his son-in-law – went ahead and completed the trek without much ado. But the Velliangiri mountain trek isn’t recommended for such elderly people or those with known physical conditions that can’t withstand such a strenuous adventure.
  • Food and rest that naturally followed it delayed or stopped many an ascent. Despite controlling one’s hunger and craving for 42 long days, many couldn’t control the primal urge on the day that really mattered. And some of them (someone said nearly half of the Shivangas) couldn’t complete the trek this time.
  • When we’re focused on achieving something impossible, it’s quite possible to forget about mundane things in Life. I was astonished by the fact that not only did I not think about anything else – family, work, blogging, the long planned but still overdue first book and a hundred other things that swirl around in the mind all day – during the trek, but I also didn’t take a bio break for over 15 hours!
  • A group of Shivangas walked over 430 kms from Nagercoil to the Isha Yoga center and then trekked along with us. They were accorded a rousing reception befitting their incredible devotion and accomplishment, even before they reached the Ashram – prompted by none other than Sadhguru himself. Such feats provide a hint at what’s possible for any of us, with absolute faith in the Guru and unwavering focus on the goal.
  • ShamboThe Shambho chant that was on the lips of many a Shivanga on the way up, was forgotten by many on the way down, which was no less harder. I can’t help reminding myself of the quote by Tenzing’s son – himself an accomplished mountaineer, scaling the mighty Mt. Everest just like his father – “Climbing up the mountain is optional for anyone, but climbing down is mandatory!
  • Climbing a mountain doesn’t necessarily mean, up on the ascent and down on the descent, all the time. There were at least two sections on the Velliangiri mountain that turn this theory upside down. And anyone who thought it’s easy to climb the stairs than a path without stairs, were in for a surprise from the 3rd hill onwards – both upwards and on the way down. With very few of us carrying torch lights, some of us were actually guiding the Shivangas behind us on each step, on our way back.
  • Some of the Shivangas also carried sacks to collect the garbage we left behind, thereby doubling their effort, without thinking twice about it.
  • While listening to several conversations on the way back, it was apparent that many would go back to their daily nonsense from the very next day. It was sad that some did so even during the sadhana. Just goes on to show that doing something for the sake of doing it or just because we started doing it isn’t the same as doing the right thing – with utmost devotion, needless to say – the right way, as it was meant to be.
  • velliangiri6-640x360Biksha (taking alms), a critical part of the sadhana to let go of one’s ego, was done right by many Shivangas – including the friend I acquainted on the way down – who went and stood outside temples or went from door to door to collect Biksha from complete strangers. Mine was a sedate affair in comparison, but I too was obviously overwhelmed by the benevolence of many souls who came forward and offered Biksha generously, upon being asked. Our servant maid, who offered Biksha along with her husband – continues to bring flowers for worship to our home daily. All I could offer in return to these benevolent souls was to pray for their well being, at both the 7th hill and Dhyanalinga shrines.
  • Several comments were made by a few Shivangas on the process, preparedness, food, etc. While some were in the realm of fantasy such as the wish for a ‘cable car’ like Palani (one of the richest temples in the country, with a devotee crowd from both Tamilnadu and Kerala, thronging throughout the year) – at least for the descent, one said – some others were uncharitable remarks that were certainly not expected from those who went through the process with the full knowledge of what they were expected to go through.

Velliangiri_TempleWe eventually reached the Poondi temple at the foothills by 8.40 pm – exactly 14 hours from the start of our ascent, from the same place. While many Shivangas made it down faster than us (with some reaching the Ashram in time for Sadhguru’s sathsang that evening), there were also many who were still climbing down – in pitch darkness (it was the new moon day after all). At least three Dolis (an open palanquin like chair on two long beams, used to carry those who couldn’t walk on their own) also went up during our descent, to carry those Shivangas who couldn’t walk any further.

Sadhguru_Suryakund_Consecration13I got a free ride from the father-in-law son-in-law Shivanga duo to the Ashram, where we completed the process by tying the black cloth that adorned our arms for 42 days on the tree near Nandi and taking a dip in the Theerthakund (soon to be renamed to Chandrakund, exclusively for women). Sadhguru has recently consecrated a larger theerthakund (consecrated water body) called Suryakund with 3 Rasalingas (energized ellipsoids filled with mercury) and my better half and offspring were blessed to be part of the Prana Pratishtha (energy consecration) process itself. The Dhyanalinga temple was closed by that time so we couldn’t get a darshan at night. After having dinner offered to all Shivangas at the Adi Yogi aalayam, self and most other Shivangas just crashed and slept like a log till next morning.

Banner3During my return trip back home the next day, I ignored the amused look on many onlookers’ faces – at the restaurant, airports and pretty much every other place I passed by – as I limped slowly with the luggage. They must’ve quizzed themselves on why a perfectly healthy looking middle aged man moved as if he just completed a mountaineering expedition. Only I and a few fellow Shivangas traveling on that day knew we actually did! As I waited at the airport to catch my delayed flight, the forever active mind kept going back and forth among those 43 days of Life altering experience.

Aum-Namah-ShivayaNow that the Shivanga sadhana is completed – fully – is there a sense of fulfillment? No. Only the sense of longing – for the Guru, for the eternal quest of Life, for knowing the truth – has been rekindled with a renewed fervor.

Having been there, done that on that challenging terrain up and down the sacred 7 hills, is there a sense of accomplishment? No. Only a heightened awareness of how tiny a speck we’re in the grand scheme of things called Life, in the known universe.

Looking back at all that has happened during this mandalam (a duration varying between 40 and 48 days, that’s of significance in Spirituality, Yogic practices and the ancient medical practice of Ayurvedha), is there a sense of pride in being part of the first batch of Shivangas? No. Only a sense of utmost humbleness that this self too got to be part of this magnificent opportunity that my Master has offered to all and sundry.

Shiva_AdiGuruShivanga means an anga (part) of Shiva. Shiva or Rudra or Shambho or Mahadeva isn’t that easy to comprehend and doesn’t happen that easily to any being. Shiva isn’t considered a God in the Yogic way but the Adi Yogi, the one who figured it out and eventually – after a very long wait – taught it to his other half (Shakthi or Prakriti) and the Saptha (7) Rishis (sages). So, the Shivanga sadhana’s essence to me is if one strives and gives his or her fully, the possibility of growing small without, i.e., losing the “I” or the larger sense of self or creation, and growing big within, i.e., sensing what the true “I” or knowing the one self or creator, is available to all seekers. And that possibility is revealed and can be availed only with the Guru’s grace!  

Sadhguru15The next time – if and when it happens – this self will be better prepared, physically and with a survival kit for self and others. At least, I now know what it takes to perform the trek, though the experience next time could be a completely different one. my Master willing, Swamy will attempt the trek again, not to prove a point to anyone, but to meditate at the Sadhguru Spot (a sacred place where Sadhguru attained Mahasamadhi – leaving his physical form through all 7 Chakras, thereby earning the title of Chakreshwara – in his previous birth as Sadhguru Sri Brahma and where he went back once again as Jaggi in this birth and came back as Sadhguru, during the preparation stage of the Dhyanalinga consecration), which we missed out during this trek.

Dhyanalinga4After I reached home and while trying my level best to answer a million curious queries from family and friends, I checked with my relative at Ashram about the (ascent) friend’s return. Considering his physical condition and the dehydrated state he was in during the ascent, I was genuinely worried if one of the dolis went up for him. And what I heard not only left me dumbfounded but also made me even more humble than I already was by now. He has climbed down the 7 hills, and reached the Ashram, at least half an hour ahead of me – safe and sound. I bowed down before my Master Sadhguru and Lord Shiva, once again left marveling at their benevolence and boundless grace, with a sense of gratitude and a content smile. Shambho!

.

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