Tag Archives: Isha Yoga

NATYA – a simple formula for success

25 Oct SP34

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!


Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer :)

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Mystic Nation 1 – The God Conundrum!

18 Sep ArtistSwamy6

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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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

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.

… 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.
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…
Note: All sketches & paintings (except Kamadhenu) are Swamy’s own creations – out of imagination or inspired by other skilled artists – drawn during his youth.
Decoding Ganesha – Devdutt Pattanaik

The Witness!

2 Jul uddhava-gita

AK_TNEA2015A more than decade long quest – against odds, obviously – crossed a significant milestone this week, when Akash. PC. Iyer, aka Swamy Jr., a professional Chess player of international repute, ranked 2nd in the TNEA sports category overall, secured a seat at the prestigious CEG campus of Anna University.

20150628_140411While heaving a huge sigh of relief, Swamy couldn’t help ponder about the challenging journey itself (which started amidst a number of raised eyebrows and wide open mouths 11 years ago, with only TeamAK – Mr & Mrs Swamy, Jr & Coach SA Krishna – being true believers of this improbable quest, which is all set to continue, with Jr. aiming to become a GrandMaster before he graduates) and the many travellers of varied hue (including dark gray), size (of ego) and shape (of ambition, subversion or submission) who kept joining, trespassing, leaving, misdirecting or helping & guiding along the way. His pondering led him to an interesting destination (at least, an interim one) called UG (coincidental with what Jr. is going to pursue at the university, i.e., UG), where he got astounding insights about why in the enchanting Game of Life, things are the way they were and we still are the way we were!


The conversation between Lord Krishna and Uddhava, known as Uddhava Gita, is quite possibly the most insightful conversation on Life, Karma, Human nature, the need for & purpose of Guru (or Coach, in case of material Life pursuits) and the ultimate Truth, aka Self-realization.

Krishna_UddhavaUddhava was a favorite devotee of Lord Krishna and served him as a charioteer his entire life. Despite being a charioteer’s charioteer (Lord Krishna was Arjuna’s charioteer during the epic Mahabharata war), he never demanded anything and served his Master with utmost faith.

He is no different from millions of humans who slog daily for an employer (individual or organization) with acquired skill, available knowledge and utmost commitment, expecting just to be paid for whatever they do (job or service), and not much more.

After the Mahabharata war, Krishna insisted that Uddhava ask for boons (wishes) that he can grant & fulfill as his Master.

This is akin to a supervisor or boss asking a loyal employee to request for a raise (in pay or grade or both) or release (to pursue one’s own interest – if that’s different from what one does for a living).

uddhava-gitaInstead of asking for boons or wishing for wealth, Uddhava sought to have a conversation with Lord Krishna based on a few questions he had & the Lord readily agreed. The all-seeing, all-knowing & all-being Lord Krishna also declared that this conversation shall be regarded asUddhava Gita“.

This is not too different from a mentoring conversation that helps a Mentee gain information, insight and wisdom from the Mentor.

Here is a part of the conversation between Uddhava and Lord Krishna.

Aside from the not-so-obvious spiritual context, this conversation is assured to offer deep insights into the human psyche, our wayward way of Life full of quirks and incorrigible acts and desolation leading to utter despair in many aspects. Though all the situations in our Life are a result of our own thoughts and actions, we usually neither acknowledge that (which could lead to introspection resulting in possible ways out of the quagmire) nor accept that (which will lead to moving ahead, instead of being stuck in the self-pit(y) forever) and end up blaming every unexpected outcome, that’s far from desired, on others – including, but certainly not limited to, gigantic planets far off from ours!

Lord-Krishna-In-a-Forest-With-Cow-Natural-ImageUddhava: Who is the real friend?

Krishna: A person who stands by his close ones in need, even without being called.

That pretty much means you gotta be around the near and dear, anytime and all the time. Not necessarily being physically present (an instantaneous human assumption – obviously incorrect like any assumption) but available nevertheless. Also, the expectation is for you to stand by, i.e., support them like a rock, come what may. There goes ‘Pride & Prejudice’, thrown out of the umpteenth floor, sea view balcony!

70 Bhagavatha - Uddhava Gita

70 Bhagavatha – Uddhava Gita

Uddhava: Excellent!

For all the years, the Pandavas treated you as their beloved friend, as ‘apathbandhava’. But,
Why did you not stop the gambling game?
Why did you let the Pandavas lose, even as you had every power in your hand to turn that situation and stop this whole war?
What forced you to not act?

Uddhava_Gita2Krishna: The rule of this world is, one who has viveka (true wisdom or awareness) wins the game. In this case Duryodhana had wisdom, so he won the game.

Life’s a game. Unfortunately, like any game we have an opportunity to play, we misunderstand, mishandle and miss the fun in this one too. And like in any game, even the best players can commit the worst mistakes (just in terms of playing). This is exemplified by Dharmaputra’s compulsive gambling (demonstrating a shockingly obvious lack of any kind of wisdom) that led to him losing everything, blindsided to the point where there was nothing else to pledge, and resulting in pawning his (& his 4 brothers’) wife. Considered to be one of the wisest humans (of that time), Yudishtra doesn’t appear to be the smartest (not just at that time). His choice(s) led the Pandavas to a life of misery, suffering and even loss of identity (for the last one year of their life in exile).



Uddhava: was astounded beyond belief and asked,

How is that even possible? Weren’t the Pandavas on the side of Truth? How can Duryodhana be right?
Krishna: Duryodhana was not completely aware of dice game, its tricks and rules. He made a smart call to seek uncle Shakuni’s help to play the game. Now that is viveka.
Yudhishtra, on the other hand, not only did not invite me to the game but also informed his people to not let me know about the game.
The Pandavas even prayed to not seek help and bet everything against the odds.
Had they invited me, and had I played against Shakuni, the game and its outcome would have been entirely different. Perhaps we would not even have fought the war, as you said.

The joy of any game isn’t in winning it (nor is the sorrow in losing it), but in playing it – wholeheartedly, with utmost vigor and absolute involvement. Knowing how to play certainly helps (Dhuryodhana may not have known how to play well, but certainly seems to knew how to win – using uncle Shakuni, who was not just an exponent of the game of dice, but apparently also with a personal agenda to bring both sides down), but how you play it determines the state you’re and will be. And one must be open to seeking and getting as much help as possible to play.

Most top sportspersons have a Coach, who typically is a former professional player him/herself, offering deeper insights and course corrections that may not be obvious to the player. Many top business leaders have a Mentor or Coach to, not because they are incapable or don’t believe in themselves, but because objective insights, guidance and direction from someone else are respected for the value they bring to accelerate their own growth.

Uddhava_Gita4Uddhava: May be. But if they are your devotees, was it not your responsibility to help them in their need and not wait until they request you to do so? Do you really need prayers or an invitation to help your devotees?
Krishna: This entire creation runs on karma.
Everyone has to abide by it and accept what comes out of their acts in this creation.
I don’t act on it.
I am the ‘witness.’
I stay close with my creation all the time and observe. This is the law for the creator.

Most humans relish success and believe it’s self-created. But when things don’t go the way they expect and the prospect of failure taunts them, the blame games and finger pointing starts in a flurry. ‘The launch wasn’t done at an auspicious time’… ‘Didn’t have a capable team’… ‘Partner cheated and led to the failure’… ‘No one’s willing to help’… ‘Been there, done that’… et al. Whether we play the game (which invariably has rules & procedures), we can either be a player, referee, organiser, mediaperson or spectator. Or all of them. While not believing the illusion that we’re actually any of them.

Uddhava_Gita3Uddhava: If you observe, then how can you let all the evil things prevail in this world.

How can people do bad things, how can there be murders, killings, injustice and all the wrong doings that we come across while you are standing right next to it, watching it happen.
Krishna: I am entitled to be the ‘witness’. I am therefore always present.
But in the middle of admiring this creation, people, out of ignorance or attachment, forget my existence before them and start doing things.
In case of Yudhishtra, he knew I was aware of the game, he knew he wasn’t capable of winning the game, he knew it was bad to bet everything in the game, but he still went ahead, without inviting me.

Though I am always present with them as ‘witness’, people forget my presence and act out of delusion. 

This adds to karmic cycle and they are entitled to continue in that cycle.
Should they choose to act differently, realise my existence and notice that I am ever present, their actions shall differ and hence the results will be different as well.

They will then be able to break the karmic cycle and move to self-realisation.

VishwaroopaDarshanFact is, each one of us is just another happening in this vast creation. But because of our inherent stupidity (despite being endowed with a grossly overrated 6th sense), we firmly believe we know things and are better at doing them than anyone else. At some point in our miserable life, our ego becomes so bloated that it won’t let us seek help even when we know clearly that things are about to go horrendously wrong. Yet, we fail to learn from our failures, and simply take the easy way out of blaming them on other factors or people and continue to slide down the self-destructive path. Thinking, imagining, dreaming only about I-me-myself. Non-stop for 24×365. Lifetime after lifetime!

Grace is the way to break out of this tragic trajectory and enjoy the escape into eternal nothingness, which essentially is everything! And a Guru is someone who can engulf one in boundless Grace and enable the sail – not necessarily smooth – towards Oneness or Allness*!

This classic conversation between Krishna & Uddhava eloquently (and needless to say, eminently) captures the big dilemma most of the people suffer, while trying to comprehend the absurdity of existence such as what is creation, creator and the purpose of Life!

AgentSmith1The rut that has set in the lives of humans, by doing the same things the same way forever, is inevitably binding them to the seemingly never ending karmic cycle, lifetime after lifetime. The rut is so deeply engraved in our lifeline, we don’t even know what we do is so repetitive, replete with actions that we’ll laugh at ourselves, if only we had the sense (where is that extra 6th, when one needs it dearly) to understand and accept the pointlessness of all things we think we know (& invariably do), but obviously don’t have a clue about. If and when we realize that, we may just end up exclaiming Holy cow, mo(o)ral of the Life story!

Sadhguru_Quote3Interestingly, a Guru (and even a Coach) also play the role of a Witness (don’t get jittery – there is no comparison with the Lord himself, but just a reference to the role he plays).

Their presence is always there, but they’ll never interfere nor influence the actions taken by the Sishya (disciple) or Coachee (client) directly.

They pretty much know all about Life but would still let the seekers explore & experience Life for themselves, and in the process become a better being, doing things better & living a better Life, joyfully. 

May Grace be with you for a purposeful Life – with less ‘i’ & more ‘why’ & ‘why not’ – overflowing with Joy – not a result of mere wealth or mirth, but of selfless sharing & willful caring!


Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer :)
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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.

Journey of Life!

15 Dec Jump

Patti1When Swamy held his frail grandmother in his arms, like a child, Life had indeed come a full circle. She had, somewhere in the long lost past, proudly held him in her arms, as he is her first grandson after all – a fact that hardly registers in her fragile mind now!

It’s just incidental that two events – both anniversaries – were celebrated by his extended family on that day. While his maternal grandmother’s 80th birth anniversary was more symbolic (she’s obviously too frail to last the long ritual), his cousin’s son’s 1st birth anniversary was an elaborate ritual, held on the same day at the same place. While physically being part of the event, Swamy’s mind started racing ahead (as usual, as you may say, dear reader), pondering Life, the chaotic and totally unprepared way we live it and, inevitably, Life the way it is, i.e., the way it is meant to be lived!

SwamyHome_FlowersA bud blossoms, petals untie themselves from the tight embrace to bathe in the mellow dawn light and the flower in full bloom, wafting in the gentle breeze, brings an impromptu smile on the face of anyone who cares to see. By dusk, the flower has departed the plant and falls on earth, to be part of the process of creation all over again. Other than plucking it to decorate either our mane or a deity, we hardly shed a tear when it completes its mere daylong Journey of Life.

Gardening1A seed gets buried into earth, sprouts a branch with a few leaves, sprawls into a tree with many branches and leaves offering shade (and even fruits) to all or grows into a plant yielding a crop. A tree’s Life is much longer than the humans, who, of course, will remorselessly axe or saw it off. A crop yielding plant’s Life is much shorter, depending on the type of crop it yields and the greed of humans who harvest, sell and consume that crop. Other than relaxing on an ancient rosewood chair in the patio, relishing rotis made from the finest wheat along with piping hot korma made with freshest veggies and sipping the choicest Chamomile Green Tea, we hardly spend a moment thinking about the plants and trees that yielded all those we cherish and relish, during their months of years long Journey of Life.

Manasarovar26Water evaporates into air, pours back to embrace earth as rain, gets stored in ponds, wells or dams, and is eventually used by humans in some form. Despite the fact that it fills most of this planet’s surface (and most physical life forms), it doesn’t seem to brag about how deep, far and wide it is. On the rare occasion it gets really upset, it reminds how frail we humans are, in the form of a torrential downpour, raging flood or all consuming towering wave called Tsunami. Despite its sheer magnitude and magnanimity of keeping every Life form alive, we hardly bother to wonder about Water, in myriad forms all around us, during or after its short or long Journey of Life.

Mylo_Maggy1A pup slips out into this big bad world, rolls on the dirt (or carpet), suckles, wags the tiny tail and starts playing as soon as it can stand and move around. Whether it’s a stray on the roadside getting pelted by humans or a pet cuddled at home by the same silly humans, it doesn’t have a problem with playing – on its own or with anyone who cares. It grows, probably gives birth to more pups and eventually leaves this thankless human infested world in 12-14 years. Most animals do the same, with varying age spans, if the 2-legged descendents of apes with a grossly overrated 6th sense, let them last that long, depending on whether they’re on the hunting and/or eating list. Other than eating most fauna and caring for a few (pedigree pets that come with bragging rights or caged beasts that are a paid spectacle), we hardly bother to think about most of them, during or after their human-controlled Journey of Life.

JumpA baby sneaks out from the warmth and safety of mother’s womb – naturally or otherwise, cries, suckles, marvels at any and everything around, bewitches everyone with a pristine toothless grin, charms all and sundry with meaningless babble, crawls on all four, rises on two, falls and learns to walk and run, eats and grows, loses its priceless childhood by being forced to study for half a lifetime by stupid adults (What Say Doting Parent?), learns to work and make a living the hard way, falls in love with a fellow human, gets into a relationship, raises its own family to continue the cycle for at least another generation, grows old, falls sick and dies one fine day, which isn’t that different from any other day.

Death2Despite the fact that this is how the supposedly evolved human species lived for many a millennia, we still make such a fuss over a perished fellow human – near, dear or otherwise, cry and mourn and try hard to remember the departed, long after they’re gone, even if we haven’t bothered to pay much attention when they were alive. We even celebrate the mourning year after year, even if the departed human hadn’t a clue about Life the way it is, during their long pointless lifetime.

Flowers2It’s the flower’s nature to blossom and it does so with ease, time and again, not bothering about who smells its fragrance or smiles at it.

BuddhaUnderBodhiTreeIt’s the seed’s nature to grow into shade giving tree or a crop yielding plant and it does so with ease, time and again, not bothering about who rests in its shade or relishes food made from it.

Manasarovar11It’s the water’s nature to evaporate and pour back and it does so with ease, time and again, not bothering about how it’s used or who uses it.

PepsiSIt’s the pup’s nature to play and it does so with ease, time and again, not bothering about who cares to feed it or chooses to play with it.

Monkay1It’s the human’s nature to feed and grow physically, not learn much despite studying for long, try hard to live for and please other humans, ignore all other beings that share this tiny planet, remain oblivious to the Purpose of Life and die without realizing what the Real Dream of Life is really all about.

Every flower will blossom, waft in gentle breeze, spread the fragrance, feed the bees, spark a smile and fall to earth.

Every seed will sprout, yield a crop or offer shade, provide clean air to breathe and get uprooted or become part of earth.

Every drop of water will be part of a well, pond, river or ocean, will evaporate and pour back to be part of earth.

Every pup will play, dig, roam freely, be loyal, love unconditionally, protect and perish to be buried in earth.

Puppy_PotpourriNone of them bother about what their ilk will think of them and try to live differently trying hard to leave their own mark in the sands of time, because they understand Life the way it is and are thankful to be a part of it – however short their lifespan is. They just go about their lives, being in the present, not bothered about past or future. In fact, without studying hard for long, they just seem to instinctively know that Present is Past in Future!

Cosmos2From bud to flower to fallen petals…

From seed to plant to fallen leaves…

From droplet to stream to vapour to fallen raindrop…

From pup to dog to fallen animal…

From child to youth to adult to fallen body…

the cycle of Life just goes on and on….

20120625_143222Until one learns to listen to the song of silence, see the luminance of darkness, smell the fragrance of nature, taste the nectar of love and feel the throb of energy in stillness. That’s when one breaks beyond the limitations of the five senses that tie one to that which is, i.e., all that’s manifest and traverse a different path to realize that which is not, i.e., the unmanifest, also known as Shiva*!

Sadhguru_Quote3Every human has been endowed with the ability to comprehend Life, make decisions to enrich the way of Living Life and embrace it fully by including all fellow beings as a part of the joyful Dance of Life.

Trying to hang on to some glorious (according to each, obviously varying from person to person) past and daydreaming about an unknown future, the Wise Fools let the gift of present slip out slowly and steadily, failing to Light Up this Life. A few transcend the timid mind to dream big, expand their horizon, enjoy playing the grand Game of Life and even inspire and enrich fellow human’s lives. A handful, realize the Truth and become one with Endless Beginning called Life, erasing the imaginary boundary between the creator and the creation and offer Boundless Grace for all Beings!

Thinking2Alas, most humans remain entrapped for many lifetimes in the bubble of Life Matrix, fail to learn the A-Z of Life, spend enormous effort and time on pointless pursuits and events such as the Middle of the Endless Beginning, have limited or no understanding of Life the way it is and hardly appreciate the wonderful opportunity to go from Ordinary to Extra Ordinary.

Irrespective of whether you’re shaken or stirred by this Mjolnir blow to wake up from the Absurdity of Existence slumber, you may do well to remember the LaaSting Truth of Life that Birth isn’t the starting point, Death isn’t the destination and all the events that happen between Birth and Death aren’t milestones in this enchanting Journey of Life!

Dhyana1Life was, is and will be, until it chooses to recycle time to start all over again (this one’s the 84th such cycle, aka Rudra’s Roar, and this will go on till 112, says Swamy’s Master Sadhguru). We – quite possibly the dumbest species that keeps boasting about an extra sense than all fellow beings – are just passing by, in the umpteenth journey that we call as a lifetime. Yet, we choose to remain ignorant of the magnificence of Life in this lifetime too (who knows how many we’ve been through and how many more we’ll be through), letting the bubble last, entrapment continue and ignorance darkness keeping us sealed in the mortal envelope.

Swamily_GardenThe mellow light of dawn beckons…

The vibrant blossom of flower smiles…

The chaste green sprout of seed dances…

The pristine drop of water sparkles…

The nonchalant play of pup enchants…

Flowers3Life throbs all around, beside, above and beyond us in countless myriad forms, shapes, sizes and hues. Not expecting anything from us, but just inviting us to be an active part of it – not knowing, doing, wanting or needing but just being.

It’s up to us to wake up from the prolonged ‘i’coma, dear fellow humans, for the time has come to see, listen, smell, taste, touch and comprehend Life the way it is, be truly joyful inside out and enjoy – along with all fellow beings – this enchanting Journey of Life!

* Shiva = Shi+Va = That Which Is Not (as told by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a realized Master and founder of Isha Yoga, the spiritual path followed by Swamy and many seekers like him).


Swamy_ACC_SignatureBe Joyful & Spread the Cheer :)

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The LaaSting Truth of Life!

5 Dec Kalachakra2

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!


Love + Gratitude > @PrakashSwamy
Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer :)
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Silence is the Way!

24 Jun Dhyanalinga3

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!


Saying Yes to No!

22 Apr

Nuts_n_SpicesThe shopkeeper at the Nuts ‘n Spices store must’ve been really perplexed as he couldn’t comprehend why that lean man with a salt ‘n pepper beard was picking one item after another, stared at each for a few minutes and kept them back in the rack after shaking his head. The only solace to him was that this curious individual didn’t look threatening in any way. Yet, he remained alert as this man has been in the store for nearly half-an-hour but his basket was still empty.

It took me nearly half-an-hour to realize that there aren’t many items that I can consume anymore. Forget the exotic stuff. We’re talking about basic foodstuff that we consume every day. After another fifteen minutes or so, when I moved to the billing counter with a half-filled basket, I couldn’t comprehend the relieved smile in the face of the shopkeeper. Hmm… they must’ve been trained to welcome every paying customer with such a smile!

Monkay1Hey reader, why that bemused look in your face now? Oh, you’ve no idea what I’m talking about or what this post is about! Be assured that the above two paragraphs are actually the prelude to this week’s post and read on.

A few days ago I’ve registered for a week-long program that’ll happen in a few months. This is the highest possible program offered to mere mortals by Isha Yoga and requires completion of four other programs and clearing an interview as a part of the pre-program event. And this is also the only program that anyone planning to do is discouraged from doing, not once or twice, but multiple times during the pre-program event. Because, when meditators such as Swamy say Yes to this program, they’re also made to say No to many things that are an inseparable part of our daily lives!

If you’re as perplexed as the over one thousand meditators who were present during the pre-program event, here are some of the things we had to say No to lift the veil of confusion.

Filter_coffee_South_Indian_styleNo coffee or tea. For a typical south Indian whose day starts with a Filter Kaapi (that’s how coffee is called in this part of the world) and The Hindu newspaper (nowadays replaced or augmented by Times of India in many households), that’s a big ask. Add to the fact that I’m the official tea maker at home (what, don’t tell me you haven’t yet read about how to make Swai, aka Swamy Chai, in the blog post Calm in the Teacup!)

DairyProducts6No dairy products.I haven’t seen this bouncer coming. Neither did Gomaatha, who’s going to be very upset with more than a thousand people at one go, for shunning products churned out from her milk! This one’s really tricky compared to the previous one as milk, curd, buttermilk, ghee, butter and cheese are just the dairy products used directly. The indirect list extends to everything from biscuits (also known as cookies) and chocolates to traditional snacks such as Murukku, Thenkuzhal, etc., and pretty much all sweets that are made either using milk or ghee. More yummy items such as Pongal, Chakkarai Pongal and Payasam are also out of my plate (for the first time in my Life, I couldn’t consume my favorite Pal Payasam, sigh). Ice cream aficionados may cry at what they’ll sorely miss during the peak summer, but I wasn’t perturbed as it has been more than a decade since I’ve had one!

Chilly1No Chilly – green or red. This one takes away pretty much the daily south Indian staple food, i.e., Rice with Sambar and Rasam (buttermilk is already gone, in case you aren’t still out of the daze) as the powder used for both has chilly. All sorts of ready-mixes such as Puliyodharai (also known as Puliogare), Curry leaf powder or chutney, Parupppupodi (lentil powder) too are gone. Pickles of any kind that has chilly as an ingredient (that’s almost 6 sigma of them) are out as well. Heck, I can’t even take Idly – the safest edible food there is for children and adults alike – like I used to as Chutney, Sambar and Chilly Powder are all gone out my plate by now :O Thankfully, I’m not from the neighboring state where Chilly is almost worshiped!

NegativePranicFoodsNo negative pranic foods. Such as garlic, onion or brinjal (aka eggplant). While exclusion of onion ruled out many things such as the humble Upma (a rapid tiffin that my wife loves to make as often as she can for breakfast or dinner and one that we love absolutely as she makes the best Upma in the whole world, as far as my taste buds know) and any kind of sambar that uses it, the brinjal ban didn’t bother me a wee bit as I wasn’t a fan from my childhood. It’s a fact that my mom used to make ladies finger or some other veggie just for me, whenever she cooked brinjal poriyal or kootu, a fact that didn’t amuse any of my four younger brothers! We rarely use garlic so that wasn’t a problem either. For a change, it’s the mighty onion’s turn to cry as my better half has started making Upma without it now!

Thinking3No non-vegetarian food. This was absolutely not a problem for me as I had been a vegetarian all my Life. But I can hardly imagine some of my friends signing up for this program considering how they relish every living moving being other than their kind!

No smoking or consumption of alcohol. This too wasn’t a problem as I had been a non-smoking teetotaler all my Life. But for all those who smoke only when the drink (ah, c’mon you must’ve heard this lousy excuse from more than one of your acquaintances) or don’t bat an eyelid even when they had to walk out in the burning Chennai heat or bone chilling Minneapolis cold, many a times during the day, to light up that cancer stick, this will be one big Nooooooo!

By this time, we were not worried about what not to eat anyone, but already wondering what, if any, can we eat! They had answers for that, of course.

Vegetarian-diet100% Natural Food is recommended, but at least 50% is required, daily. Now that’s easier said than done, however clichéd that might sound, as we’ve the habit of cooking everything – including vegetables – than eating them raw. But having been an Isha meditator for over four years now and having tasted the natural food offered at various Isha Yoga programs – the ones I’ve attended at the Ashram and the ones where I’ve volunteered closer to home – this one sounded reassuring than depressing.

Pepper_Ginger_CapsicumPepper to substitute Chilly. Pepper and Chilly have a completely different kind of taste, but this too wasn’t a major problem as I was already familiar with preparing a variety of Isha salads with Pepper, Capsicum and Ginger and know fully well how good they taste and how much filling they can be, without making one feel heavy.

Soya and Sprouts as Calcium substitutes. Supplements rather as the sudden elimination of all dairy products will lead to calcium and some vitamin deficiency and these two are healthy natural supplements.

PeanutsGroundnut (aka Peanut) for energy. The humble groundnut – soaked overnight in plain water – is part of the daily meal at Isha and is a veritable source of energy. Those of you who’ve read my post Shambho and the 7th Hill will know how I (and thousands of other meditators) survived 42 days of Shivanga sadhana, till noon every day, just by consuming a handful of soaked groundnuts and a drink made with a mix of lime, honey and water.

vegan-pyramid-800x600By the time we managed to convince ourselves that we can somehow manage this diet regimen, which is nothing but the Ethical Vegan Diet, came the Pashupathi Asthra (read part 3 of the enchanting Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi – The Oath of the Vayuputras – to understand what this is). Daily practice of what we’ve learned from 3 out of 4 Isha Yoga programs (the 4th one is a lifetime experience about ‘Life the way it is’ and doesn’t teach or require any daily practice) and another additional hour of a kriya done in a particular posture. This means another No, to the newspaper this time, as I now need that hour for my daily practice, which could be anywhere from 3 to 4 hours.

Then came the Brahmasthra – the conditions that need to be adhered to during the program itself. There were many and any violation means immediate elimination from the program and a lifetime ban from attending it ever again in this Life!

Thinking_ChimpBy now the reality of why they discouraged us from attending the program dawned upon us. We were given one final chance to leave the pre-program event. To my surprise, not many took that offer (other than a few brave souls who did) and remained seated, looking forward to the selection interview. After about an hour – during which we were promptly made to perform the kriya we were supposed to practice every day from now on – my interview was over and I was asked to start my preparation for the program.

Sadhguru3Some of you may think the journey is impossible. Some others may even think the conditions are improbable. A few might already have concluded all those who’ve signed up for this program are just out of their mind. But I won’t have any hard feelings even if you’re suspicious of my sanity and look at me the way that Nuts ‘n Spices shopkeeper did, for I (and many other fellow meditators) have signed up for the program willingly, fully aware of all the conditions we’re expected to adhere to.

Banner3My daily practices and strict adherence to food restrictions started on 10th April and will continue for over 60 days. With my better half’s unflinching support as ever, I’m discovering new food items that won’t violate the restrictions, almost every day. It isn’t easy, but hey, I’m still alive and kicking, much better than I used to be. And Pazhamudhir Nilayam or Solai and Nuts ‘n Spices are at present my favorite shops!

Sadhguru1The path chosen by a seeker may raise many an eyebrow because many times in Life, intensity is mistaken as insanity. It doesn’t matter to the seeker what others think, as this program is an opportunity to be in the presence of a living Master for a week, fully immersed in his boundless grace, offering a possibility to dump all the karmic trash accumulated over lifetimes and start Life afresh. Having been there and done that a couple of times, Swamy knows how powerful and life altering being in the Master’s presence can be.

Screaming4There are many instances in my Life, when I just said No. A chance at being an eminent athlete (it’s another story that my sprint dreams came to an end when I was just 15 with a knee shattering sports accident); An opportunity to study Architecture (that would’ve helped me pursue one of my passions – sketching/drawing/painting); A chance to study Computer Science in my engineering course (it was a field at the beginning of its astronomical growth trajectory); A shot at following the illustrious footsteps of my writer idol Sujatha (my first short story was published in the popular magazine Ananda Vikatan in Dec 1990); An offer to join an IT major around the time of my wedding (I eventually joined another one after an year); The family pressure to have a second child (it would be amusing to know that parents expect such things from their progeny even today); A possibility to remain and flourish in the USA (where I’ve spent nearly four years on two long term assignments); The choice of continuing in one of my most successful roles as Global Operating Leader of a Hosted Captive – a first for my organization, no less (as some of you know, I moved to the Learning and Development function rather than continuing comfortably with what was practically my baby, one that I nourished and still cherish) and so on.

3Monkeys3The list of incidences and opportunities that I’ve said No in Life is long, just like any other fellow human. While some of them were obviously stupid, a few did turn out to be prudent as well. I remain wiser for those incidences and my choices taught me the most valuable lesson in Life – you’re responsible for the choices you make, so learn to accept the consequences and stop blaming others.

Mylo_MaggiS1I’ve also said Yes in many cases that have either turned out as a blessing such as marrying my lady love (a living example of how to be a better half of the other half that isn’t that much of a half but is on the pursuit of the whole nevertheless) or pursuing a sports career for my son (a professional Chess player of some repute, he has already represented India at international level and won the Bronze medal along with his team in the World Youth Olympiad at Turkey in 2012) or inviting two adorable daughters who exemplify unconditional love into our lives (they walk on all four and wag their fluffy tails to communicate, in case you’re flummoxed by one of my ‘No’s above) or treading the spiritual path through Isha Yoga with the grace of my Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev or hopping onto the Blogging bandwagon wholeheartedly a while ago to unleash the writer within on unsuspecting readers like you through my posts in SwamysteryBeen there, Seen thatSwamyverseSwamyView and quotes in SwamyRay!

Truth be told, saying Yes or No in Life, the way we know it, isn’t that hard. But the only way to know Life, the way it is, is by Saying Yes to No!

Shambho and the 7th Hill!

19 Mar Shivanga

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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