Tag Archives: sadhana

NhAdha Brahmam ~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

12 Oct

NhAdha Brahmam

~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

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Over a decade ago, I’ve left Jr in a tournament hall (he’s a professional Chess player at international level) somewhere in Mangaluru and walked a few kilometres in blazing sun, with the help of the directions on the phone (it’s probably a Nokia – well before it’s android days) to reach an ancient ShivA temple, that’s located on a rocky hillside. The darshan was wonderful and I’ve returned in time for lunch with Jr (sensibly took an autorickshaw this time). The place I’ve visited is Kadri, which has been made world famous by a son of the soil, who gave the darshan of NhAdha Brahmam to even untrained musical lovers such as this writer, whenever he played a classical song on the western wind instrument known as Saxophone. Instrumental music is naturally formed a significant portion of Swamy’s music collection, in cassettes (do ya know what they are Gen X/Y/Zers) and CDs (used to spend a fortune at the annual music sale at Shankara Hall once upon a time, just like the hundreds of books purchased during the annual Chennai Book Fair, year after year), which now await digitization, quietly lying down under the bed (oh don’t worry, they’re pretty safe), though even that effort seems pointless in this digital age, when there are apps aplenty to play any kind of music anyone fancies, in the phone itself!
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The bassy nhAdham emanating out of the instrument was simply out of the world and can easily bring tears of joy flowing from the rasikA’s eyes. Just like RAjarathinam PiLLai, SrinivA, MAli, BAlachander, Kunnakkudi, UmayALpuram & Valayappatti are simply known by the name of the respective instruments they played with absolute mastery, the name Gopalnath is synonymous with Saxophone. The identity of Master (Maestro!) musicians like him is inseparable from the instrument they play. In other words, they’ve attained union with not the instrument, but the music that flows through it / them.

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Their worship of NhAdha Brahmam, i.e. the Divine in the form of sound, is the music we are blessed to listen to. If done with awareness, perhaps the rasikAs too will be blessed with the darshan of the divine, in the formless form of NhAdha Brahmam. And thanks to my maternal grandfather Shri Rengasami Iyer, I was fortunate to listen to Shri Kadri Gopalnath live once, at the NhAradha GAna SabhA, at a much younger age – accompanying him, which will remain etched in the memory (along with the vocal music performance by another legend, Shri KJ Yesudas), forever.

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Legends aren’t born as legends. But they certainly become aware of their real talent (an inherent gift, unlike skill that’s learnt, which comes into play in a given lifetime, based on one’s prArabdha karmA), work diligently to hone it and attain mastery over it, over a period of time. Whether they know it or not, playing music is their sadhana (spiritual practice) and daily offering to the divine. RasikAs – knowledgeable or otherwise – become a part of that offering, by simply being present, with nary a distraction (kinda hard in the present days with the constant notification wink of the omnipresent smartphone), during such performances. In an(y) unexpected moment, the darshan of the Creator can happen, even if it’s just a glimpse, like a momentary lifting of the veil, making that time worthwhile, eventful, purposeful and joyful. And true legends such as Shri Kadri Gopalnath are the chosen instruments of the divine, to offer the rest of us a glimpse of the boundless Grace! Shambho.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

A Root Cause Analysis of Life ~ Part 2/3

24 Jul

A Root Cause Analysis of – an Aspect of – Life! – Part 2/3

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You may read Part 1 of “A Root Cause Analysis of an Aspect of Life!” here…

https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/a-root-cause-analysis-of-life-1-3/

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I still procrastinate. How to overcome this? Is there any guidance for this?

Procrastinate, by definition means, “delay or postpone action; put off doing something.” So the questioner implies the delay in translating thoughts (remember, there’s no good or bad) into purposeful action. And the source of thoughts, as surmised from the question itself, is teachings from many Gurus, which are essentially experiential wisdom, shared by them for the benefit of seekers.

Let’s take one such wisdom – from Swamy’s Master Sadhguru – to understand the situation better.

With every breath, we are one step closer to the grave. Now is the time to explore a dimension beyond body and mind.” ~Sadhguru

SG1Sadhguru is a Realised Master with millions of followers across the globe. So drops of wisdom such as this quote have a significant impact – at least at thought level, if not in action – on many of his followers. Swamy’s comprehension of this phenomenal quote is…

Every moment that is not spent on pursuit of truth (on the spiritual path) is a wasted opportunity, in the brief lifetime of a human being. So, this very moment is the right time to start your sadhana, to attain self-realisation (and liberation, eventually).

Someone else may comprehend it differently. Irrespective of how it is comprehended, this pristine pearl of spiritual wisdom will immediately trigger some thoughts in the reader’s mind, which will inevitably gain acceleration and travel faster than the speed of light (sorry Einstein, the mind doesn’t give two hoots about physics rules), in all kinds of directions, triggering more and more thoughts in turn. Within a few moments, one would’ve simply forgotten both the trigger and the original thought. As a result, this will become one of those billions of lost thoughts, that never get translated into purposeful action.

img_0729.jpgSo, it’s amply clear that “I procrastinate” isn’t the result of any Guru’s ‘good thoughts,’ but caused by the nature of the mind itself. The mind simply goes about its bus(y)iness of generating wave after wave of thoughts, some of which may’ve been triggered by the sayings of a Guru. By trying to follow the perennial flow of thoughts, the reader / seeker simply loses track of even those thoughts that have the potential to translate into purposeful action. This results in the person feeling remorseful for not doing anything about them.

What’s the way out of the muddy remorse pit? To initiate action, of course.

What should a follower of Sadhguru do, upon reading the aforementioned quote? To start the sadhana (spiritual practice) right away.

IMG_20160131_100258How to go about it? The marathon runners* are useful as an example for this. They are typically part of a group or team, members of which run together regularly. It keeps them focused on the activity (long distance running) by inducing discipline through a common schedule and location. Similarly, a seeker could join a group of diligent practitioners, who perform their sadhana regularly. The key is to make it a habit, just like brushing one’s teeth in the morning; taking shower / bath; reading ToI while sipping a piping hot cuppa filter kaapi (coffee) and so on, without being reminded by someone on a daily basis. Over time, one may actually start feeling remorseful for not doing the sadhana daily, instead of not starting it at all.

Social media groups can also helpful in sustaining the sadhana, as many of the spiritual groups share posts on not only the Master’s teachings (blogs, videos, programs…) but also group events for practitioners such as sathsang, which help in staying connected with the Master and his/her teachings and also receive practice corrections from the qualified practitioners.

Maskmovie4Though humans are prone to procrastination, they don’t resort to it when it comes to instant gratification. Tasks related to survival always happen on time – sometimes even ahead of time – because they gratify one’s immediate needs and wants. Eating – at least – thrice a day; ordering stuff or paying bills online; sharing opinion on events and people; cribbing about the inhuman boss; offering unsought advice for, well, anything; complaining about service quality… things like these happen on a daily basis, without any kind of reminder from anyone.

But when it comes to one’s own inner well-being, it can always wait, till whenever! No amount of advise can change this, as the change has to be specific action(s) initiated by the individual. A Guru can only show the path and offer guidance for traversing it, based on his/her own experience. It’s entirely up to the seeker to follow that guidance and proceed / progress with the travel. After all, it’s for one’s own salvation and not the Guru’s (who is already self-realised, anyway). So the solution simply is Nike, ahem, “Just Do It.”

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If a farmer wants a bounty from his farm, s/he has to tend to the crop regularly, diligently.

If a student has to score high and secure a seat for higher education in a premier institute or gain employment with a prominent employer, s/he must study regularly, diligently.

If an investor plans to gain wealth from the financial market, s/he has to invest regularly, diligently.

If an actor or writer aims at being on top of the trade, s/he must act in blockbusters or write bestselling books, regularly, diligently.

If an organisation wants to be on the forefront of the industry, it must continue to train its employees on the cutting-edge technology and relevant processes, regularly, diligently.

So, for a seeker, there is no other option but to put the Guru’s teachings into practice. That too right away. Now. And sustain the practices, till the purpose is realised!

Mull these musings for a few days and look forward to Part 3/3, i.e. the concluding part!

*Two of Swamy’s younger brothers and a sister-in-law are professional Marathon runners. Swamily also participates in the annual Chennai Marathon, to support the Isha Vidhya rural education initiative.

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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A Root Cause Analysis of Life – 1/3

13 Jul

A Root Cause Analysis of – an Aspect of – Life! – Part 1/3

Disclaimer: This 3-parts post isn’t a root cause analysis of Life itself, but just one aspect of it, i.e. inability to translate thoughts into action. Oh btw, unlike in the past^, this time all 3 parts will certainly get published in quick succession, as the post is more-ore-less completed already, but being shared in three parts just to help readers comprehend and – hopefully – contemplate!

An acquaintance of Swamy, who happens to be a meditator, recently reflected thus…
I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts. I still procrastinate. How to overcome this? Is there any guidance for this? Due to this character I have lost more but still I do the same…🤔

This is the natural state of existence, for most humans – seeker or not. Survival is just a series of one insurmountable challenge after another for most, and they invariably end looking up to others (typically those who are successful and popular) for whatever they could get – guidance, advise, counsel, quote, motivational speech, experience sharing, training, books, etc. – to get better, be successful, overcome difficulties, etc. The situation isn’t that different on the spiritual path either, where there are so many choices for a seeker to completely go bonkers.

Sheep13While there is no specific answer or solution to this conundrum, one of the many possible options is succinctly captured by the emoji that the questioner used, at the end of the question, to indicate the thinking or pondering that’s going on. That so-called sixth sense is the only additional tool at the disposal of the Homo Sapiens, which unfortunately isn’t utilised effectively by them to liberate themselves from the BAUHumbug mundane existence. Unlike humans, who for whatever strange reason consider themselves as a superior species despite their incorrigible destructive nature, the remaining species on this tiny planet are quite content with their simple existence, as their lives remain uncomplicated by unnecessary thinking.

In the IT services industry, in which Swamy too had spent pretty much his entire phase of over two decades of survival, there is a popular process known as the “Root Cause Analysis,” to figure out what is causing a particular problem, with the objective of resolving the issue, by applying a temporary fix first (in order to ensure business continuity) and eventually a permanent fix (for preventing recurrence of the problem) as well. There are obviously many tools to perform this analysis (Ishikawa or Fishbone, 5-Why, etc)  but all of them are aimed at the same aforementioned purpose – analysing, understanding and resolving an(y) issue that impacts business continuity.

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Image courtesy: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishikawa_diagram

Unfortunately, just like any other myopic perspectives of humans, about anything in life, this root cause analysis process too is focused only on the challenge at hand. Hardly a handful of people who are conversant with the process and the tools, ever use it to gain a larger perspective – at either the business level or at the industry / domain level. That’s why there are so many specialists who keep efficiently utilising the process at a rudimentary level, repeatedly, and very few (if any!) generalists who can effectively use the process to identify, analyse, contemplate, comprehend and craft solutions for real life situations, of which business / work is only a minuscule part.

Anyway, for the sake of the questioner, let’s keep the rant against the incorrigible human nature aside and focus on the situation at hand, by breaking down the reflection / long question into smaller parts, so that each of the components can be analysed to comprehend the whole.

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart

Why do humans read / hear / view what others have said?
To know what the others are supposed to have already known, would be the obvious answer. After all, humans are self-certified experts in taking the easy way out, for practically doing anything in a lifetime!

A Guru – an authentic one who has attained self-realisation, not one of those self-proclaimed character artists – shares his/her experience of Truth (about creator, creation, existence, et al) and offers ways or methods to seekers who strive to attain the same experience. In ancient times, it used to be done in person (ashrams were created primarily for this purpose) but in the perennially busy times that we are present in, it’s being done with the help of all available modes of communication – books, podcasts, videos, blogs, programs…

GuruPurnima1

Guru PUrNima, a day of reverence to all the Realised Masters who have chosen to show the path to realisation to fellow humans, is celebrated worldwide on 27-July-2018.

Unlike the ‘information is power’ survival where even those without any practical experience can be quite successful with acquired knowledge, spirituality is all about knowing, i.e. the actual inner experience of the seeker.

When a seeker accesses the experiential knowing shared by a Guru, it should be for the purpose of attaining the experience and not merely to know about the experience. So, seeking is not about the activity of reading / hearing / viewing the knowledge shared, but about putting it to use, in terms of actions (commonly known as sadhana), with the objective of attaining the same experience as one’s Guru.

In that context, it’s wonderful that the questioner has mentioned “nothing is hitting the heart.” Irrespective of whether it’s expressed with awareness or not, the questioner is actually pointing out how a Master’s teachings can be really effective. The heart referred here is not the blood pump that keeps the physical form ticking, but the spiritual heart known as the Hridhayam. It’s the seat of the divine aka soul. It’s where the creator is present, within each and every piece of the magnificent creation.

When a Guru’s teachings are put to practice, whatever experience happens is always internal. For example, hundreds of books talk about the primal energy of Kundalini and how to raise the dormant coiled serpent from the MUlaadhaara chakra at the base of the spine towards Sahasraara chakra on the top of the skull. To read any of them would naturally be exciting and the reader will exclaim “whoa, I didn’t know such a phenomenal power is hidden within myself.” But after reading the book, one either moves on to another book (must use Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription effectively!), may be share a review on GoodReads (which about 3 followers may read on social media platforms and 1 compulsive liker may actually “like”) and then get back to one’s BAUHumbug* existence.

The serpent simply can’t be risen by reading books and needs to be practised under the watchful guidance of a qualified teacher. And those who have actually experienced the rise of Kundalini within themselves, will hardly ever share that experience as a “how-to” guide for aam janata, since the experience could be vastly different for someone else, depending on many parameters, and is potentially dangerous to the person who tries it as DOI experiment.

So, “nothing is hitting the heart” does not mean one being vexed at not having a heart attack, but feeling disappointed at not experiencing something inward. That’s actually a very good feeling to have – especially for a seeker, since the journey along the spiritual path is always about self-realisation, i.e. the realisation of Truth that happens within oneself, as an intimate – and intense, needless to say – direct experience, within oneself.

Unfortunately, the questioner isn’t going to let us remain elated with this revelation for long and instantly deflates us by extending his reflection thus…

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Now, the second part of this reflection highlights some serious misunderstanding of the practical side of spirituality, which is putting the ancient methods and processes (shared by Gurus, of course) into actual practice, in real life situations. After all, Yoga, the ancient science of Life, isn’t just an austere practice to be done in isolation but is a way of living that needs to be applied in day-to-day living, by the practitioners. That’s why there is so much emphasis on sadhana (practice or performance of a spiritual process) in spirituality. In fact, nationwide missions like SkillIndia should take a cue from yoga, for the practical application part, in order to be really effective.

Inner voice cries hoarse: “digression… digression…”

fb_img_1531370637666Thoughts can potentially lead to actions, but not necessarily always. If one tries to translate each and every thought into action, simply surviving in this world itself would become harder than scaling Mt. Everest without oxygen, and sherpas. Thoughts simply keep flowing by themselves, like the waves of the ocean. Over time, one not only loses count of their number, but one also learns that it’s practically impossible to do something with each wave. There are waves that one can let kiss one’s bare feet and then there are those one could surf. Perhaps there are even some that may trigger enchanting poetry. The rest can only be observed. And they never cease to flow.

The questioner smartly chooses to follow only “good thoughts.” Hmmm… but how does one determine a thought is good or bad? It’s still just a thought anyway. Unless it is translated into an action, with a defined purpose, aimed at a specific outcome, it’s impossible to determine the value of any thought. Only when the outcome is experienced, its usefulness can be ascertained, based on the social situation that one is part of. Something that is useful / beneficial for an individual or society, in a harmless way, is deemed good. The opposite of that is branded as bad.

But good and bad are just classifications based on the subjective intellect of an individual or collective. They are mere perspectives and will vary from person to person, just like any other perspective. For terrorists, mass murder is just a means to an end, which makes them believe killing others is good. For the rest, murder is obviously bad and mass murderers are unadulterated evil, personified. While those who are murdered gladly excuse themselves from the pointless debates on their murder, the rest of the populace is always ready and willing to debate the good vs bad of murders and murderers to death, literally (on the multitude of channels that guarantee the proverbial “15 seconds of fame” for anyone who is willing to flex his/her vocal chords to express one’s opinion about anything, relevant or not).

img_0719.jpgIn reality there is no such thing as a ‘good thought’ or a ‘bad thought.’ Thoughts are, well, just thoughts. Everyone has got a boatload of them and some even admire themselves as being “Thought Leaders,” in practically every aspect of living. Irrespective of whether one fancies oneself as a leader or not, one can only translate one’s own thoughts into actions. And thoughts that translate into action are either useful or not. Neither can all useful things be deemed good (e.g. guns) nor can any useless thing be classified bad (e.g. floppy disk).

A Guru has no interest in either regulating someone’s thoughts or making someone follow his/her (the Guru’s) thoughts. And s/he doesn’t really care about the goodness of her/his thoughts, for a real Guru is fully aware of the utter futility of trying to interrupt or control the natural flow of thoughts. A Guru will actually be keen on enabling a seeker to understand that futility, experientially, by offering one or more sadhana (spiritual practice). So, it is obviously left to the individual – seeker or not – to observe one’s own thoughts and identify those that really need to be translated into action and act accordingly. The rest will mind their own business, within the mind itself!

Let’s look at that first sentence one last time, so we can move on to the rest of the question (parts 2 and 3 are waiting to be shared, impatiently)!

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Here’s the summary of insights that may help you, dear reader, to ignore most of the thoughts triggered while / after reading this and act upon only those that are valuable / useful.

  • Listening to what a Guru (Realised Master) shares is wonderful, because it is experiential wisdom
  • Knowing that a Guru’s teachings are meant for the spiritual heart and not the silly mind is great and will help the seeker focus inward
  • Thoughts simply flow by themselves, like the waves of the ocean, and they are neither good nor bad. They can be triggered by listening to a Guru as well
  • It’s practically not possible to follow all the thoughts that arise in the mind, which will only make anyone who attempts that go insane
  • One can pick and choose the thoughts and translate them into purposeful action for a specific outcome. The often over-hyped sixth-sense is meant for this purpose
  • A Guru is fully aware of the futility of following (any)one’s thoughts and hence will only encourage seekers to effectively utilise some of the thoughts for purposeful action, and enable them with practices (sadhana) for that purpose

You may take a well-deserved tea/coffee/juice break now. But just don’t start another series of waves, ummm… thoughts, by debating this with your break companion(s). Simply enjoy the beverage instead!

^There are a few multi-part blog posts that Swamy has started but yet to complete. Some on purpose and some for no reason. Or, may be it’s just procrastination! ha.. ha..

*BAUHumbug = “Business As Usual Humbug”, a term in Swamyctionary (which itself is another term coined by Swamy, supposed to mean ‘Swamy’s dictionary,’ i.e. collection of words coined by Swamy) that’s often used by him to depict the pretentious superficial survival focused existence of the species to which he too unfortunately belongs to!

… rest of the post will be shared in parts 2 & 3, as soon as at least 1 person cares to read this part and attempts to reflect upon it (thank goodness, that gives Swamy sufficient time to procrastinate :D)!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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Obstacles on the Path ~ 2 of n!

15 May
Obstacles on the Path ~ 2 of n
Informed Ignorance!

A few days ago

, one of the SwamyPals (the motley group of friends and acquaintances from the academic and corporate phase of this lifetime who are still connected to Swamy, for whatever strange inexplicable reason) wrote to Swamy thus…
“Recently i wanted to exlore on vel …as i read it can delete karma… wanted to know how they do vel prayer and what is the significance in case you know.”
Such sudden desire or interest to explore some unknown well-known is common in humans, because there’s no dearth of information on anything and everything (that’s the well-known part), which makes one want to know more about… well, pretty much anything and everything (the unknown part).
While “Informed Ignorance” isn’t harmful (there are many other horrible afflictions taunting humans at every blind turn on the survival expressway) to anyone – including the info-seeker – as long as it remains at information level (“I read / see / hear, therefore I am“), initiating action related to some unknown, solely based on information, as opposed to knowledge or wisdom, will most certainly be harmful, particularly for the person who performs the action, whatever it is. So, let’s look at how the widespread phenomenon of “Informed Ignorance” can be an obstacle on the path (to realise the Truth).
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Disclaimer: Though Swamy is an actual practitioner of the processes mentioned in this post, he strongly advises you, the dear reader, against using any information to initiate actions on your own. All the processes mentioned below have to be initiated formally by someone with prior experience, i.e. a practitioner or sadhaka, who is qualified to initiate others.
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In this ancient culture, many different ways of connecting with the divine, with the objective of dissolving the individual identity and merging with the omnipresent entity / energy known as NirghuNa ParaBrahmam (aka Mukti ~ ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death cycle), were created. One of them is using the combination of 3 things known as Yantra, Tantra and Mantra.
YantrA is a device or machine. It has a specific form (depending on the divine form that it is associated with) and purpose (both material and spiritual). YantrA is physical and can be two (picture) or three dimensional (device). In its most simplified form, even the kOlam drawn in front of the home or inside the puja room can be a yantrA.
Tantra is the process or method to use the Yantra or device. It’s typically a ritual with very specific guidelines that need to be adhered to, in order for the process to be effective, i.e. yield the expected outcome. Tantra process can be very elaborate (including homam or havan, etc) or simple, but the guidelines cannot be tailored or modified by the user.
Mantra is the Chant used for the Tantra (process) to access the Yantra (device). It could be a single sound (Bija like Lum, Hrim, etc) or a Chant specific to the divine form (AUM Namah ShivAya for Lord ShivA) or a slOkha (like the GAyathri mantra) or even a sTothram (like VEl mARal or LalithA Thrishadi).
The combination of all three is used as a sAdhanA (spiritual process) to attain self-realisation and eventually liberation. It can also be used to attain specific siddhis (mystical powers) or benefits on the material plane of existence but that’s like misusing or grossly under-utilising a powerful device – like driving a Lamborghini Urus in the peak hour OMR traffic in Chennai (or anytime in Bengaluru)!

YantAs are of different forms and shapes, depending on the deity or divine forms that it is used to access. For Lord ShivA, it’s usually a Linga. For DEvi Shakthi, it’s the Sri ChakrA and MEru (3D form of Sri ChakrA) or something like the Linga Bhairavi YantrA that’s in SwamyHome. For Lord MahAVishNu, it’s a sALagrAmam. For Lord Murugan, it’s the mighty Vel (lance / spear). There are many others like this such as PanchAyudha (five different stones representing five aspects / forms of the divine), each with its own associated processes and chants.
Having a YantrA at home and accessing it (using it for any purpose – material or spiritual) requires formal initiation from either a Realised Master (Guru) or a sAdhakA (practitioner) who has attained mastery over the process and is qualified to instruct others. This is extremely important for the actual functioning of the device to yield specific outcomes. Though it’s very tempting (and obviously easy), one shouldn’t get any yantrA and start using it by oneself, as the yantrA is not an electric or electronic device that comes with DIY instructions.

At SwamyHome, we’ve a Linga Bhairavi YantrA, which was received from Swamy’s Master Sadhguru, an accomplished Yogi, Mystic and visionary founder of Isha Yoga. There is a daily process (TantrA) that needs to be done by both Mr and Mrs Swamy (this yantrA is usually received by partners – life or business; there’s also a slightly larger form known as Avigna yantrA, for larger spaces and organisations). The Chant (MantrA) is about 11 minutes long (duration of the process) and done in Sadhguru’s voice itself, so that it sounds exactly as it is supposed to be (chanting has to be always precise – both what and how are critical – that’s why those who Chant the vEdAs undergo rigorous practice for many years).
The sanctity of the space where the Linga Bhairavi YantrA is kept has to be maintained like a temple – always kept clean, with a ghee or oil lamp lit and no eating, drinking or sleeping is to be done for 10 sq ft around it. There are also specific guidelines for days such as PourNami (full moon) & GrahaNam (eclipse) and if both the practitioners are away for more than 3 days. In a way, our home is a temple now with DEvi established and very much present in the GarbhagrihA (the puja room). Since we know that by experience, we ensure that it’s maintained that way as well, to the best of our abilities (cleanliness, alankAram – decoration, arpaNam – offering, Aarti – lighting camphor).

As our home is a consecrated space now, we’re also expected to let as many people experience Devi’s Grace by inviting them to our home and let them participate by chanting slokhAs, performing Aarti or simply sit and get soaked in her fiercely compassionate Grace. There are many who have experienced this and turned speechless (or speak only about her glorious presence) or become teary-eyed.

We also have a vEl, the worship of which was initiated by Swamy’s SabarimalA Guruswamy Mohanji, who is a upAsakar of many divine forms, including DEvi, Murugan and Dharma SAsthA. According to his specific guidelines and instructions, it is established within the puja room (which is essentially DEvi Linga Bhairavi’s sanctum sanctorum) and a daily process (combination of chanting and offering) is performed for it. Abhishekham and AlankAram are performed either on Sashti or on Tuesdays and special puja is performed on KArthigai and Thai Poosam days.
During the annual visit to the Kuladeivam temple at Kumaramalai (near Pudukkottai), this vEl is taken and kept in the GarbagrihA of the temple and all abhishEkhams are performed by the archakar for this vEl as well, along with the main deity (Sri BAla DhaNdAyudhapANi).

After an year (typical time between two SabarimalA yAtrAs along the Peruvazhi or Periya PAdhai route) of observance of the preliminary process, Swamy was initiated into a cleansing mantrA this year, which is in progress now. At some point in time, the formal mantrA initiation will happen and that’ll become the core JapA (chanting) process for Swamy’s spiritual pursuit (incidentally, Swamy also has been initiated into another JapA mantrA by his Upa Guru Sohamanandaji, but that doesn’t involve yantrA and tantrA).

Apart from this, there’s also a Sadhguru Sannidhi or PAdha yantrA at SwamyHome. It’s essentially the footprint of Sadhguru, filled with a special vibhUthi that’s available only at the Isha Ashram. This vibhUthi can be applied by anyone visiting our home. There’s a weekly Sannidhi Puja for this yantrA. Other than that, there are no restrictions on the space, unlike DEvi yantrA. There’s also a DhyAnalinga yantrA, which was received by Swamy Jr, during his ShAmbhavi MahAmudrA initiation, for which there’s no process at all.
Other than availing these yantrAs and practising the associated tantrA and mantrAs, as instructed by the initiators, Swamy isn’t really knowledgeable about the significance of each or even how they work. Strictly a user, with the sole purpose of attaining Enlightenment, leading to Mukti, Swamy has learned to simply trust Grace to guide him along the path, instead of resorting to the usage of his (usually very active and inquisitive) limited intellect to decipher the what, why, how, when, etc.

Swamily (Swamy+Family ~ Mr, Mrs & Jr) can however vouch for the effects of the usage, which have been experienced through many incidents, including dramatic physical manifestations that will raise the eyebrows of even firm believers (Swamy btw is not a blind believer but a serious seeker), events and changes in behavioral traits, both within and outside the home. Here are a few…
  • Elimination of a major surgery, which was initially thought to be unavoidable
  • A specific form of Devi (worshipped long ago in the past) demanding vastra arpanam
  • Reminder to start a specific aspect of spiritual sadhana, which was missing
  • Clarity about one’s own self through suya dharisanam, which is cathartic (seeing one’s own personality in all its gory glory – warts and all – is mortifying)
  • Unprecedented confidence in applying inherent talent and accomplishing significant milestones, almost effortlessly
  • Darshan of various forms, not associated with the yantrA deities
  • Sensing someone faraway physically, when that person underwent surgery
  • Quality and quantity of visitors
  • Stanzas for many Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns
  • Pleasant passing away (including the post-death rituals) of a family member
… the list of such experiences and happenings is only getting longer, many of which can only be experienced and not explained. All such experiences are very real and truly enchanting, but one must be cautious about not getting stuck with these happenings and remain conscious that all these are just indicators for one to continue treading the path, towards the only destination, the final and ultimate liberation (Mukti).

On the survival plane of existence (Swamy is still a GrihasthA – householder after all and continues to take care of his beloved family), Life in the presence of yantrAs is blissful indeed, even after quitting the well-paying corporate servitude willingly (may be, especially after quitting it – ha.. ha..). And living is only getting better, every single present moment.
Unfortunately, YantrAs are sold commercially nowadays and anyone can procure and keep them at home and even perform some form of worship / process daily. This is not advisable as many of these commercial spiritualists may not be really knowledgeable in this ancient process and won’t be able to help / rectify any challenges faced by the buyers. If one doesn’t know how to ride a super bike, one shouldn’t get it and stick to a humble commuter bike or trusted scooter instead. It’s as simple as that.

In a nutshell, the combination of YantrA + TantrA + MantrA works, without a doubt, when done the ancient way ~ initiated by a Master or one who has attained Mastery, and adhered to all the instructions exactly as they are. Oh btw, yantrAs ensure the practitioner’s ‘needs’ are taken care of, not the numerous (and obviously, pointless) ‘wants!’ So, getting a YantrA to beat someone in something or become filthy rich in someway may not really work out that way.
Since the thought about yantrA (the mighty vEl of Lord SkandhaGurunhAthan, in your case) has been seeded in you (trust me, you haven’t thought about it – that’s the folly of ‘informed ignorance’), it’s only natural that you’ll also receive the necessary guidance from someone qualified, in time. Trust the most benevolent creator to shine the light on those who seek sincerely. Just keep the fire of seeking burning brightly, within.
May Grace be with you to avail the amazing combination of YantrA+TantrA+MantrA in this lifetime itself, to attain the ultimate. Shambho.
~Swamy | @PrakahsSwamy

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

29 Jan

Step 3 ~ The 3rd Dimension

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

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ascend Step 1 ~ End or Beginning! here…

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

ascend Step 2 ~ Past in the Present! here…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


~Swamy (@PrakashSwamy)

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

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

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

18 Steps to Emancipation | Step 2 ~ Past in the Present!

22 Jan

18 Steps to Emancipation! ~ Swamys first SabarimalA yAtrA experience (January 2017)

Step 2 ~ Past in the Present

You may climb Step 1 ~ End or Beginning! here… 

Swamy consciously avoids dwelling in the past and speculating the future, trying to remain rooted in the present moment instead, following his Master Sadhgurus powerful saying This moment is inevitable. But as he sat on the wooden platform inside the viri (place of stay – there will be many all along the route to the holy shrine, while this one was specifically assigned to the group that Swamy belonged to) at SabarimalA, baked by the boiling sun, he couldnt help going back to how and when it all started.

When Swamy went to the Pancha BhUta Sthala* yAtrA with his UpaGuru^^ last year, there were many interesting conversations. During one of them, Swamy casually mentioned that he had never been to SabarimalA. Being a veteran of SabarimalA yAtrA (apart from many other such yAtrAs, needless to say), his Upa Guru immediately offered to take him along the next time. He promptly pinged Swamy in November 2016 and informed that he has to start the one mandalam Vratham (sAdhanA, to be observed by all yAtris to SabarimalA). Few other instructions and guidelines followed and on November 16, 2016, Swamy took the baby steps for his maiden yAtrA to the holy shrine of SabarimalA, which culminated in the darshan of the Lord of the Five Hills (AindhumalaivAsan) on January 15, 2017.

Though Swamy had witnessed the spectacle of grand pUjAs performed to Lord AyyappA at his maternal grandparents home in Madurai, while he was still in primary school (two of his maternal uncles have been regularly going to SabarimalA at that time, via the longer Periya PAdhai, as part of the famous Neelakanda Ayyappan group from Madurai), the thought of going there has never occurred to him. Later, one of his younger brothers also went a few time and even his father too undertook the yAtrA once. That makes it abundantly clear that SabarimalA yAtrA is more a calling of the Lord than a person’s choice. And the Lord must have decided that Swamy was ready only when he was 46 years old and completely free of survival related pressures.

The twice daily pUjA (floral offering while chanting the AshtOthram or 108 names of the Lord), followed by SharaNam (a series of 21 chants thats unique to the Lord, who is also known as SharaNa GOshappriyan, followed by prostrating on the floor, after each chant), NaivEdhyam (of a simple sweet liquid called PAnakham) and Aarthi (performed with Karpooram / camphor) happened beautifully without a break. Almost on all days, the Lord was also decorated with flowers. All austerities (that aren’t too different from the YamA & NiyamAs in the scriptures) to be followed along with the daily rituals were also adhered to, as prescribed.

Being a seeker on the spiritual path for a while now, guided by the boundless Grace of his Master Sadhguru, performing a sAdhanA for a mandalam or adhering to specific food consumption guidelines were a no brainer for Swamy (pretty much a given for any and every spiritual sAdhanA, which keep coming one after the other, year after year). But all that didn’t offer even a hint as to what the yAtrA itself would be like, which was both progressively exciting and excruciating, as the days rolled by.

Swamy was brought back to the present moment by a little bit of commotion within the viri. One of the Guru Swamys (referred to as GM from now on, for easy reference), a revered SabarimalA veteran of several decades, has just arrived, after having darshan of the Lord. Even before he rested after the long day out in the blazing sun, he was seen enquiring about the other Guru Swamy of the group (referred to as GJ from now on, for easy reference), who hasnt yet made it to the viri. He was also in the company of two more elderly veterans, which made the situation a bit worrisome, considering their physical wellbeing. So, it was time to find why was he delayed and where he was now.

Like any Guru Swamy who takes special care of the Kanni Swamys (first timers or rookies in the group), GM took Swamy along in his search of GJ, in the company of Swamy’s yAtrA Guru (leader of the smaller team of yAtris that Swamy was part of). Though they didnt succeed in locating GJ, Swamy ended up seeing the procession of MALigappuram^ DEvi, who was headed towards the Lords shrine to seek his hand in marriage, and also the spectacular procession of the AlanguLam** group, whose historic significance goes all the way back to when Lord AyyappA waged war against UdhayaNan, to reconstruct and restore the glory of the magnificent temple of Dharma SAsthA at Sabaripeetam. Though the 18 Steps can be climbed only once, and only by those yAtris with Irumudi, Swamy wished to at least see and bow down to it once more. That wish too was granted by GM, during the search for GJ. After returning to the viri, they found GJ seated there, obviously exhausted and not too thrilled at being left behind, though the graceful Lord ensured he too had his darshan by then.

As Swamy sat there wondering what’s next, his sexagenarian companion (a very busy wiry thin man, who was always on the move, defying his advanced age, pretty much always helping someone or other – especially the rookies, without expecting anything in return – a perfect portrait of Karma YOgi) transpired out of nowhere and offered to take him to the place of annadhAnam (good quality food offered free to all yAtris, all through the day, until the closure of the shrine at the conclusion of the mandalam) and then for another darshan of the Lord.

As the sun continued on his daily trip from east to west, the Lord would continue to shower his Grace on Swamy, with one enchanting darshan after another – 4 in all by the end of the day, each different from the previous one, and 5 in total before the descent began the next day. What more could Swamy – a staunch devotee of AdiYOgi Lord ShivA, not unlike any seeker on the yOgic path – ask for, as the number of darshans he had perfectly aligned with the PanchAkshara mUla mantrA of his blissed out Lord, the magnificent Lord of the Cosmic Dance, the first yOgi or AdiYOgi and first Guru or Adi Guru in the form of DakshiNAmurthy, the only PurushA and the father of all beings in creation, including Lord Sabarigireesan.

Hara Hara MahAdEvA!

*Pancha BhUta SthalAs are five significant shrines of Lord ShivA (& Devi Shakthi, of course), specifically consecrated to enhance (or moderate – depending on the yAtris disposition) that particular BhUtAs (elements – Agni / Fire, Jal or Appu / Water, VAyu / Air or Wind, Prithvi / Land or Earth and AkAsh / Space) attribute. By performing specific rituals / processes at each SthalA, one can observe / experience changes, both internally and externally. The sthalAs / temples are as follows:

VAyu sthalam (wind) ~ SriKALahasthi (KALathinhAdhar or KALahasthEswarar and GnAnaprasUnAmbikai amman), which is also known for RAhu-KEthu dOsha nivAraNam (relief) and the place where hunter-saint KaNNappar received the Lord’s Grace through his raw expression of pure bakthi (devotion). 

Prithvi sthalam (earth) ~ KAnchipuram (EkAmbaranhAdhar or EkAmbarEswarar and KAmAkshi amman, who is worshipped in a separate shrine), popularly known as the temple city that literally overflows with hundreds of temples.

Agni sthalam (fire) ~ ThiruvaNNAmalai (ANNAmalaiyAr and UNNAmulai amman). Also popular as the place from where BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi showered his grace for many decades, after his self-realisation, and guided scores of seekers thru the path of GnAna yOgA.

AkAsha sthalam (space) ~ Chidhambaram (SabApathy or NatarAjar and SivagAmi or SivakAmasundari amman). This is also one of the Nadana Sabhais (courts or halls of dance) of the dancing Lord, known as Ponnambalam or Golden SabhAi. Also considered the spiritual center of the universe, where the Lord eternally performs the cosmic dance of Anandha ThANdavA (dance of bliss).

Jala or Appu sthalam ~ ThiruvAnaikkAval (JambhukEswarar and AkhilANdEswari amman), near Srirangam, where the popular Dhivya DEsam of Lord MahAvishNu is also located. There is also a shrine for Sadhguru Sri BrahmA (Sadhguru in his previous birth), where he was in SamAdhi, buried in the earth, for a mandalam. Swamy’s small group of yAtris, led by his UpaGuru, were fortunate to conclude their Pancha BhUta Sthala yAtrA in Sadhguru’s shrine.  

^When UdhayaNan attacked the Lord while he was in meditation, MALigappuram DEvi, who was held captive by him, is said to have given her own life by taking the blow of the weapon . She wished to be married to him, but as a brahmachAri and yOgi, the Lord politely declined but assured her that he would indeed marry her, in the year when no new yAtri (Kanni Swamy) visits his shrine. Nurturing that hope, she visits the Lord’s shrine in an impressive procession (used to be on elephants, with regal decorations) every year, but she would eventually return to her abode, sadly disappointed, upon seeing the thousands of sarams / arrows placed at Sanguththi, by Kanni Swamys like Swamy, which means she wont be able to marry the Lord this year too.

**Kochu Kadutha Swamy of the AmbalappuzhA yOgam band of warriors is the one who finally slayed UdhayaNan, as Lord Ayyappan has already sat in deep meditation. Along with AmbalappuzhA yOgam, PandaLa yOgam led by Villan & Mallan and AlangAd yOgam led by VAvar formed Lord Ayyappan’s formidable army,  which earned them the special rights in SabarimalA worship. While PandaLa yOgam preserves the Lord’s ThiruvAbharaNam (ceremonial clothing, jewellery) & brings it to the shrine on the day of Makara JyOthi, AlangAd yOgam got the right to perform PEttai ThuLLal at Erumeli (a stone’s throw away from VAvar Swamy’s mosque shrine & also the right to ascend the sacred 18 steps, without the Irumudi, which is mandatory for everyone else.

^^UpaGuru is like the VP of a nation or Vice Captain of a team, in the spiritual space, a Guide with immense knowledge & Mentor with extensive experience, who is readily available – and approachable, needless to say – for a seeker who has a Guru but needs ongoing guidance and direction, for which s/he couldn’t reach out to her/is Guru for various practical reasons. 

(at least) 16 more Steps to be climbed…

~Swamy (@PrakashSwamy)

18 Steps to Emancipation! is a blog series on Swamy’s first yAtrA to the sacred hill shrine of Lord Dharma SAsthA at SabarimalA in 2017, as a Kanni SwAmy (first timer or rookie) of the ABASS Kolkatta, a traditional yAtrA group of SabarimalA veterans, who perform the annual yAtrA via the longer (& needless to say, harder) route known as Peruvazhi or Periya PAdhai. 
You’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyRay / SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including the 180 & counting #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles. You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

18 Steps to Emancipation! | Step 1 ~ End or Beginning!

20 Jan

18 Steps to Emancipation! ~ Swamy’s first SabarimalA yAtrA experience (Jan 2017)

Step 1 ~ End or Beginning!

The seemingly never ending march – one delicate step at a time – on the concrete pavement, came to an abrupt end in front of the 18 steep steps, adorned in glowing Gold. Looking at the fellow yAtris, Swamy also broke the coconut on his hand by throwing it against the black granite wall, beside the steps. The wiry thin sexagenarian veteran who was beside him signaled that it’s time to climb the steps. As Swamy bowed before and touched the first step with reverence, the body shook involuntarily and joy drops (aka tears of joy) started flowing. The journey to SabarimalA – Swamy’s first in his 46 years of existence in this lifetime – was about to conclude, with a few more steps, which still appeared incredulous. It’s over. Done. With the same surgically repaired knee that ascended KailAsh, Velliangiri (KailAsh of the South) and circumambulated the holy hill of ThiruvaNNAmalai. Hard to believe but absolutely certain.

Swamy climbed the 18 steps in a daze and was ushered towards the Lord, who as AbhishEgapriyan (one who loves being bathed or showered with various sacred offerings, such as Ghee, rose water, sandal, viboothi, flowers, etc), was showering his Grace nonstop during the Mandalam (40-42 days) period, on the millions of devotees from all over the world, who throng his hill shrine, after adhering to a strict vratham (sAdhanA that’s unique for the Lord) and climbing a long winding, strenuous forest route, up and down 4 different hills, to get a glimpse of the Lord for a few fleeting moments. Year after year.

As Swamy stood in front of Lord Dharma SAsthA (aka AyyappA / MaNikaNdA), there was no sense of elation. Nor was there any sense of accomplishment. The mind simply went blank and it was as if he stood in an empty void, facing the magnificent one, sitting in the unique HarivarAsanam (apparently one of the toughest AsanAs in Hatha Yoga), showing the Abhaya hasthA (one of the blessing mudrAs known as Chin MudrA) on his right arm and pointing to his lotus feet with his left (indicating surrender of the individual self / personality / identity / ego). No prayers came forth. No chants either. And in that fleeting moment, before being pushed by the police personnel (whose incredible effort ensures every single yAtri gets the darshan of the Lord without fail), Swamy noticed something different.


The Lord of the SabarimalA (literally, hill of Sabari), who is always seen as a child / teenager in pretty much all the pictures, appeared to Swamy as an elder, that too with a beard! Thinking that it must be an illusion caused by the fatigue induced by the strenuous climb up the hills, Swamy tightly closed and opened his eyes and looked at the Lord again. No, it wasn’t an illusion. He indeed had a beard. At least that’s how he was offering darshan to Swamy in that moment. He would eventually know about that form a few hours later.


With his sexagenarian partner showing the way with ease, Swamy simply went through the motion of circumambulating the few smaller shrines near or around the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Hariharasudhan (son of Hari aka MahAVishNu and HarA aka Lord ShivA) and descended to the resting place known as Viri. Upon seeing his yAtrA Guru there (another veteran of several decades, who was the leader of a smaller group of 7 or 8 yAtris that Swamy trekked with, which was one of the 5 or 6 groups that made the yAtrA together), he bowed & touched his feet, hugged him and cried uncontrollably. Collecting himself within a few moments, he sat on the wooden platform there and the mind that has just come out of the void, started w(p)ondering if this was the “End or Beginning!


to be climbed till the 18th


~Swamy (@PrakashSwamy)

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

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

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

The Holy Slap!

22 Sep

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

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

Who am I? 

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

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


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


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

GuRu means one who eradicates darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be joyful 😊& spread the cheer 🌻

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

Shambho and the 7th Hill!

19 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy

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