Tag Archives: Yoga

Meditation and Distractions ~ Are they mutually inclusive, by design!

20 Jul

Meditation and Distractions ~ Are they mutually inclusive, by design!

~a Swamusings post by @PrakashSwamy

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Recently someone pinged Swamy and asked… 

Swamy have you written a blog on when people give trouble to you how can you keep meditating without reaction?” 

The honest response is “No” since Swamy isn’t a qualified Yoga / Meditation teacher and Swamy’s Guru has been very particular about his disciples not speaking / sharing about anything that’s not in their own experience, especially when it comes to teaching something to others. That’s why there has been no Swamystery or உயிர்மெய் blog post on yoga or meditation methods, techniques, etc. They may happen eventually (or not!), as and when Swamy is experientially qualified to share them.

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In that case, it’s quite natural for anyone to instantly question, “then how come you write so much about death, enlightenment, etc?” A valid question indeed, since neither has been directly experienced by Swamy, certainly not in this lifetime, so far! But there’s a logical explanation for that, even though logic isn’t necessarily as popular (or essential, for that matter) in spirituality as it is in social existence.

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As a seeker, particularly one who is blessed with the guidance of a living Guru (Realised Master), one is privileged to know about the intricacies and nuances of ‘Life, the way it is,’ aka Reality, which aren’t in the intellectual knowledge realm of those immersed in the survival plane of existence. This includes experiences such as death, enlightenment, etc., which are obviously not in the seeker’s own experience, but aren’t incredulous or alien to the seeker either, since the knowing happens through the sharing of Realised Beings and Masters, including one’s own Guru. 

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In the info-centric existence of the present day, those seekers who are digital migrants (there are quite a few ‘digital natives’ seekers as well, of course) and are endowed with the ability to communicate ideas and insights, feel comfortable sharing whatever little they know, primarily on social media, based on their learning from the many Masters that have graced this tiny planet, though they aren’t under any compulsion to do so. Swamy just happens to be a seeker whose thirst to know from many a Master remains unquenchable and is also willing and capable (hopefully!) of sharing such wisdom (acquired, mostly) that’s usually beyond the sensory perception based intellectual comprehension. With that context, we can certainly talk about meditation as well. 

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Here’s a revelation that may be a surprise to long term Swamy readers – Swamy doesn’t really practice any kind of formal meditation process, at least not on a regular basis! There can be many logical explanations for this, but they’ll all be irrelevant to you, the reader, since everyone’s quest for the Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al) is unique, though all seekers are seeking to realise the same Truth. But be assured that some additional light shall be shined on this later in this post itself. 

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In the yogic tradition, meditation isn’t considered as a process or method to follow but as a state of being. That means, one can become meditative but not really do meditation. While a seeker, over a period of time, may perform various kinds of sadhana (spiritual practices), including but not limited to meditation, which may continue as-is for long or change after a while, the objective is never to achieve perfection in a particular sadhana itself, but to use all of them effectively to attain a state of equanimity or balance, aka SamAdhi (சமாதி). This is a state of tranquil stillness, which isn’t affected in any way by anything happening around them. This is the non-expressive state of ShivA, whenever he’s not doing the other extreme, i.e. the ThANdava, which is nothing but exuberant motion / movement, an expression of the ecstatic state of eternal bliss (which, in essence, is Shakthi).

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All Realised Masters (Guru) remain in the state of Sahaja Samadhi (சஹஜ சமாதி) inward, all the time, though they may still be involved in worldly activities just like the rest of us, either actively or passively. This is the self-realised state, where the Master perceives everything in creation or the entire creation as a singular presence*, which is normally referred to as the Divine or God. Attaining this state is essential for a seeker to progress towards Mukti (ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle). Hence, most of the sadhana offered by a Guru to a(ny) disciple will be to make this happen. Each sadhana by itself may result in one or many outcomes (such as Siddhis or activation of a Chakra), but none of them are the ultimate destination by themselves.

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*This is the essence of the famous saying by BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi, “There are no others!“, which was his response to a questioner who asked him, “When everyone in the Ashram is busy doing something or other, why are you always simply sitting or lying down (without seemingly doing anything)?” Since BhagavAn always remained in the state of Sahaja SamAdhi, there was no differentiation between himself and everyone else around him, at least not in his experience of oneness (with the Creator). 

Having said that, there are various dimensions of yoga, which include meditation techniques as well, which are useful to attain a sense of stable or still mind, leading to clarity in thinking, resulting in purposeful action. But all meditation techniques are essentially aimed at enabling the seeker to be a mere observer, of oneself, i.e. the amalgam of the body (physical dimension) and the mind (psychological dimension) that’s attached to many identities, such as name, religion, educational qualifications, wealth, social status, etc. The ultimate state of realisation is experiencing  the oneness of oneself and the supreme Self, when all the identities drop and there is no more duality (caused by ignorance, arising out of the limited intellect).

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When one becomes meditative, i.e. learns how to remain in a state of stillness*, the flow of thoughts in / from the mind may still happen, but one won’t do anything to either resist, stop or change them. Instead thoughts will simply flow** at will, as it is their nature, uninterrupted, like a stream. If and when deemed necessary, one can pick and choose from the flow of thoughts, any that are useful for purposeful action. Otherwise, one can simply observe their flow, without any re/action. 

*Attaining this state of stillness is the actual purpose of Asanas in yoga. “Sukham Sthiram Asanam” stated by Patanjali Maharishi in his Yoga SutrAs indicates this.

**This free flow of thoughts is what is referred to as PravAham (பிரவாகம்) by Sri Bhagavath (ஸ்ரீ பகவத்). 

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So, in summary, the answer to the question is, a seeker (or ‘meditator’ as per the question) should focus on the meditation itself, i.e. the process of meditation (technique can be any, as they differ from teacher to teacher) instead of getting distracted by any kind of interruption. Since human nature is to be easily distracted by the environment and its various components, distraction-free meditation needs a tremendous amount of practice. That’s why pretty much all the Masters emphasise the need for daily practices. Also, humans inherently believe that they are so unique, even though in reality they aren’t. That’s why there are four distinct paths in yoga known as Karma, Bakthi, Kriya and Gnana, though they are used as a blend, complementing each other. Only a Guru (Realised Master) knows and prescribes the right blend of the four paths*, to each seeker, based on one’s karmic structure and individual characteristics in the present lifetime.

*One of the best examples of this is Swami ChinmayAnanda, who is a renowned Master. The Chinmaya Foundation founded by him is a thriving global organisation, guiding thousands of seekers, even now. When he, who was an avowed atheist (in his youth), reached out to Swami SivAnanda at RishikEsh (he had been in the presence of BhagavAn RamaNa Maharshi as well, before this happened), he was directed by Swami SivAnanda to Swami TapOvan at UttarKAshi. It was Swami SiVAnanda, a Realised Master with his own vast yoga organisation and many ordained monks, who initiated Swami ChinmayAnanda into the ascetic monk order (including giving his new name). But he right away knew that the new disciple isn’t cut out for his path of Karma Yoga (selfless service) and directed him to Swami TapOvan, who is a Master on the path of GnAna Yoga. The rest, as they say, is history. Such is the power of perception of Realised Masters.

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An important thing to keep in mind (pun obviously intended) is “Meditation isn’t meant for control of mind.” At all. On the contrary, meditation is an aid to remain dissociated from the mind and letting it go about its own business. In a way, it’s about one not minding the mind minding it’s own business, however convoluted it may sound. As a result, the mind will either quieten and become still or won’t be a distraction anymore, even if it continues its nature of churning out wave after ceaseless wave of thoughts. This isn’t too different from the state of an ocean, which is still deep within, but perceived as restless with ceaseless waves on its surface.

Also, when a seeker is in meditation, the focus must be inward. So, even if there’s an obvious distraction outward*, sensed by one or more of the five senses, it’s limited to the external environment only and has no bearing on the inner nature of the being. Without this conscious detachment, no amount of meditation, nor any number of techniques, will help one attain stillness, ever.

*Sadhguru used to tell his disciples that they should be able to do the “ShoonyA meditation,” uninterrupted, even when they are in a crowded bus terminus with all kinds of distractions including loud noises. That’s essentially the state of total detachment from external influences to remain steadily focused inward.

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As you may recall (if not, you can certainly go back to the top of the post and start re-reading, heh.. heh..), Swamy doesn’t do any kind of meditation per se’ in particular, at least not regularly. The reason for this is the practical realisation of his Guru’s teaching that any activity one performs can be a sadhana (and a meditation technique). So right from drying clothes on a clothesline to mopping the floor to preparing food (occasionally, of course) to reading books and articles (often, needless to say) to relishing the hot morning cuppa to decorating Devi in the puja room to writing and publishing content such as ArutkuRaL ~ GnAnappAl or DhinamOruPadhigam hymns or SwamyQuote or even blog posts such as this one, every single action performed during the day by itself can be meditative. And they actually are, if one learns to remain alert and aware*, while performing them with absolute involvement but remaining consciously detached from the outcome (and benefits, if any). That is nothing but Karma yoga in practice.

*As an example, there were – at least – three interruptions, while writing this post, in response to a question by an acquaintance. Despite the interruptions causing some distraction and delay (and irritable interruption to the ‘flow’), this post did get written in full, as intended, within the same day. And as soon as this gets published, it’s a thing of the past and it’s time to move on to be in the present moment, again and again. This is the experiential reality of this writer, time and time again.

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As Swamy’s Master Sadhguru‘s vibrant voice guides the meditator with the chant “I’m not the body; I’m not even the mind” during the simple guided meditation practice of Isha KriyA (available free online), the stage is set for the being within to become still, i.e. to attain a state of meditativeness, aka Sahaja SamAdhi. The location, environment, people, noise, etc. that are always present during the process are all immaterial and exist only externally, while meditation is the state of being attained internally. That’s the objective, for a serious seeker. Everything else is simply a distraction. Shambho! 

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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Stop before you Start!

18 Aug

Stop before you Start! 

~ the amber light for all spiritual aspirants, to pause before they start the journey

So you’re bitten by the proverbial spiritual bug. As soon as you’ve listened to a mesmerising Master eloquently explaining what enlightenment is, on YouTube, and soothingly assuring it’s a possibility for everyone – that includes, ahem, you! Or when you’ve seen your BFF lose weight miraculously, a mere month after s/he started a new yOgA practice, which s/he learned in your workplace itself. Or when you simply couldn’t put down the book on the methods for self-realisation that you picked up at the airport (at double the cost of Amazon, no less) during one of those pointless business trips. Or when your fav celebrity – one of the many, obviously, since there are one too many now – gushed about how her recent initiation into mindfulness has transformed her as a person overnight (though there is no proof of any such transformation, other than her own assurance to famished fans like you)!

Anyway, one or all of the above happened to you within the last fortnight and you’re all fired up to start the journey to know. Umm, you don’t know yet what you really want to know, but who cares about such nuances anyway. If your fav celebrity got transformed, you, her die-hard fan, too will most certainly get the transformation. And how could the bestselling book be wrong, you ask yourself. And the weight-loss too is a dangling carrot that’s hard to ignore. And, if in doubt, you can always check with the YouTube Guru, who seems to know about everything under the sun! So you can hardly wait and are all set to press the ignition button.

Wait… wait… wait… Hold on for one moment please. Consider this the amber light that may actually prevent you from wrecking not only your #MakeInIndia superbike by jumping the Red, but also potentially wrecking those around you – on the road or at home or even at work, for that matter. Please Stop, just for a moment, before you Start that journey, which might be inevitable, who knows.

The long journey to self-realisation is a lonely pursuit. And a very selfish one!

What the h#!!?,” you may baulk. “Aren’t there millions of seekers, like me, who are on the path, being part of so many spiritual organisations!,” you might marvel. Yes, but…

IMG_20170712_093824There may be many fellow seekers along the path, or on a different path, to the same destination. They may even be part of the same spiritual organisation that you chose to be a part of and may do all the same programs that you do and do all the daily practices that you are supposed to do.

But, rest assured, each journey is different and every seeker has to pursue the journey alone, even if s/he is part of a group of seekers. And because you are aligned with a group of seekers who are all guided by the same Guru doesn’t mean you are all going to work together for everyone’s enlightenment. Tsk.. tsk.. Self-realisation is such a self-explanatory term that one should never get lost in any imagination about it’s self-centered nature. There is no getting around the hard-to-swallow fact that it’s about you and you alone.

sp1.jpgIf I become a better person, as a result of my spiritual practices, won’t the people connected with me be thrilled?,” you may wonder. Indeed, they will be. And the weight loss would certainly earn a few more admirers as well. But…

There will be many spectators along the path – loving family, caring friends, acerbic critics, unqualified self-proclaimed masters, et al. All of them are but mere spectators, who haven’t started (or concluded – especially the half-baked masters) their own journey yet. In fact, many of them won’t even have a clue about the existence of such a journey. They are so entangled in survival that they may not even be interesting in knowing about it, let alone support you in pursuing it. So, don’t be surprised if the beloved ones end up being the befuddled ones, not being able to comprehend what’s going on with you, i.e. the person they thought they knew all along!

I’ve got a fantastic Guru guiding me man… someone so popular that everyone from politicians to celebrities to industrialists line up to be at his events that happen all over the nation!,” you may protest. Well…

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If you’re blessed, you may actually have a Guru (Spiritual Master, not the head of some religious establishment), with boundless compassion to guide seekers like you, shining the light along the path. But even s/he isn’t going to literally hold hands, till you reach the destination.

Not only that, the Guru will strip you clean of all the pretensions of your very existence, including the facade of personality that you’re hiding behind, in order to eke out a living in this man-eat-dog mad mad world that’s hell-bent on self-destructing the only planet it has got to live, so far, in this vast, still expanding, universe. Be assured, it won’t be a pretty sight, when you’ve no other choice but to look at yourself, in all your true-self g(l)ory… eeew! And that’s exactly what a real Guru does to you, because Guru is the light that annihilates the darkness of your hilarious ignorance, which you presumed to be intelligence, until the tables are turned, upside down.

adiyogi41s.jpgAll right, now that your iMax sized imaginary world of spirituality is shaken a bit with shattering Dolby Atmos sound, you better pause for a moment at this Amber sign (umm, Amber is the warning sign, in case you routinely fail to notice or jump at the sight of it on the roads), before speeding away into the unknown, but not uncharted, long winding path of spirituality.

Oh hey, you’re totally free to proceed on the well-known path of religion, which is the always available alternative, which most humans find very comfortable to tread, during any part of their existence. But that’s not going to take you to where you may actually want to go, since, most unfortunately, all the savvy preachers, heavy tomes and slick videos and impressive social media posts won’t bother differentiating one from the other, i.e. religion from spirituality. They are distinct and almost diametrically opposite.

The journey to realise the Truth isn’t a fun tourist trip that anyone curious can undertake. It’s a challenging yAtrA (pilgrimage) that not many get to complete, within a lifetime.

Yet, it’s been diligently undertaken by many, willingly, from time immemorial. And most of them did (and still do) have a Guru to guide them along.

Of course, anyone can start it. Even you, who loves whistle-worthy silly dialogues like “ரிஸ்க்ன்னா எனக்கு ரஸ்க் சாப்பிடற மாதிரி!” (“Taking risk is just like eating rusk for me!”) can. No one’s going to stop you from starting. And no one’s going to be there to ensure you sustain it. Or even complete it. You’ll be on your own. All the way, from start to finish. Hard to swallow but hey, that’s how Truth is.

Fun fact: The spiritual journey neither has a fixed schedule nor predetermined levels of difficulty.

RealizationBoth the length and difficulty of the journey is determined by you, not anyone else. So, if at all you don’t make it all the way, or you take a very long time to make it – may be a few lifetimes, the only being you can blame is yourself. And the “I told you so!” spectators will still be around to rub some salt on your wounded ego.

Along the path, there will be…

  • a number of tempting side attractions that will distract you from continuing the journey.
  • many a roadblock that will test your resolve to continue the journey.
  • a multitude of moments when you will be so exasperated that you just want to drop everything and run all the way back to where you started.

Naturally, there will be a number of fellow seekers too, who will pat you on the back, saying “Well, we’re on the same boat sis (or bro)!” hoping to cheer you up.

With plethora of content and myriad media to consume it, there are any number of aids available to a seeker, who should know how to utilise them, to progress further, along the path. The YouTube video that ignited the fire in you is one of them. That overpriced book full of practical methods is another. And it’s quite possible to be so enamoured by such aides that you may be stuck right where you are, without even realising it. After all, more videos and books are getting published every day. From everyone who thinks s/he has figured it all out!

CDD9-3And, if and when you make it to the destination, in this birth or another, you may be utterly baffled to realise that the journey is indeed the destination and you didn’t even have to undertake the gruelling journey in the first place, to realise what has always been there, right within you. Bummer!

Yet, upon the conclusion of the journey, you will end up immersed in the state of eternal bliss, overflowing with compassion, just like those who have attained self-realisation, before you. From time immemorial. And here’s the best part. There’s absolutely no obligation whatsoever for you to even share the experience with anyone, let alone shine the light of your hard-earned gnAnA (wisdom).

For every Agasthya Muni or Adi ShankarA or RamaNa Maharishi or Sadhguru, there have been thousands of other realised beings who simply chose to remain in the state of bliss, finding no compelling need to share it with anyone else. It’s certainly possible for you to be like one of them. Seems like a very tempting bargain, eh!

GuruPurnima1All said and done, there is a reason why there have been and are only a handful of realised beings and Masters, even as the human population kept on growing relentlessly. They are the only ones who walked the path all alone, all the way, consciously avoiding the distractions, and reached the ultimate destination, with or without the guidance of a Guru. They are the ones who have seen the glorious light of Truth, shining forever, within themselves. They are the truly blessed ones who had the glorious darshan of the Ananda ThANdavA (dance of bliss or ecstacy), with their eyes closed. And only a few of them, in an outpouring of compassion, chose to guide others along the path, as Guru.

So, before you choose to get on the path of spirituality, which btw – just to reiterate, because it’s extremely important to know – has nothing to do with religion, simply because someone known to you has done so or some social media post has fired you up, do take a moment to assess yourself. And be honest with yourself in accepting the fact that you may not be ready yet.

20120625_143222The humility to accept your lack of readiness to even begin the spiritual journey in pursuit of Truth, is indeed the starting point of the enchanting journey to everlasting realisation of the Self! Your humble acknowledgement of “I don’t know,” will eventually become such an unbearable thirst that it can be quenched only by the one(s) who has been there and seen that. Who knows, s/he may happen to you in this lifetime itself (don’t ever try going around shopping for a Guru – it just doesn’t work that way), to nudge you along the path.

Well, the Green light is on. It’s up to you now to Pause your Start or Continue unwaveringly. Happy journey fellow seeker!

May Grace be with you for a purposeful Life overflowing with Joy.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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Swamy aka @PrakashSwamy is a seeker (full-time may sound funny, but that’s a fact) whose seeking was on-and-off from his teens (when a maternal uncle took him to a Transcendental Meditation program) and switched gears upward in 2009, when his Master Sadhguru (Mystic, Yogi and visionary founder of Isha Foundation, awarded the Padma Vibhushan by Indian Government in 2017 for the remarkable social endevours of his spiritual organisation) initiated him into the ancient Kriya of Shambhavi Maha Mudra. A few more advanced Isha Yoga programs followed, culminating in Samyama, the 7-day Silence program, in 2013. With Shivanga, the yatra to Velliangiri Mountains, aka Kailash of the south and the yatra to Kailash itself (in Tibet) happening in the same year (2013), Life, as he knew it until then, took a decisive turn. Swamy eventually bid farewell to his lucrative, and reasonably successful, corporate career in 2015, which he assures is a planned retirement, to pursue the VAnaprastha phase and experience Life, the way it is, with a definitive purpose – of attaining self-realisation.

UpaGuru1Swamy considers himself twice-blessed, since, apart from being guide by the boundless Grace of his Master, from within, his ongoing journey is also being actively guided now by his Upa Guru Shri Sohamanandaji (the other bearded one, in the above pics), who is kind enough to not only to dispel his ignorant assumptions about spirituality from time to time, but also to take him along on the life-altering yatras to spiritually charged spaces such as Pancha Bhuta Sthalas (sacred spaces of Lord Shiva, associated with the five elements) & Sabarimala (both in South India) and Char Dham, comprising of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedharnath and Bhadrinath (on the mighty Himalayas). These days, in his own words, Swamy’s existence – one day at a time -is focused only on “Read, Write, Meditate!,” not necessarily in that order.

Oh, in case you are curious, Swamy hasn’t attained self-realisation, yet.. ha.. ha.!

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou may enjoy knowing more about Swamy‘s spiritual journey and experience of Life the way it is in his poetry (Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns – 218 and counting…), blogs, quotes and social media posts (links to all given below).

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

Follow Swamy Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Explore Swamy’s creation (blogs, quotes, poetry, reviews, photography…)

Been there, Seen that | Swamystery | Swamyverse | SwamyQuote

Swamyem | SwamyView | Swamygraphy

 

Dhinam Oru Padhigam – The Big Ws!

18 Mar

Dhinam Oru Padhigam ~ the Big Ws!

Both for regular readers and occasionally curious (+ new) browsers, Dhinam Oru Padhigam (தினம் ஒரு பதிகம்) hymns remain an enchanting enigma. That includes the SwamyPals (there’s a WhatsApp group for this tribe who have either studied, worked, volunteered or interacted with Swamy at some point in this lifetime and got acquainted to this intriguing being and for whatever baffling reason want to remain connected with him – the group is administered by Swamy himself and new members are included from time to time) & relatives who have known Swamy long enough to know his dabbling with poetry (one of his many varied pursuits, none of which are pursued for economical purpose) in both Thamizh (தமிழ்) & English.

First of all, Swamy doesn’t sit down in a particular place, at a particular time of the day, to write any of these hymns. ✍️ He isn’t a professional Writer (or published Author, for that matter, at least not yet, except for twice, in the ’90s), though he has been writing – poetry, stories, blogs, quotes, reviews, et al – for a long time (from the ’80s).

The Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns always simply flow. Anytime of the day (he has woken up from sleep 😴 late at night to write down a hymn). Anywhere (temples, ashram, his den / cave, train…). So, all Swamy does is to write them down, as and when they flow. He’s merely an instrument that’s useful for some definitive purpose.

At times, the flow is such a torrent that he had to recall parts of the hymn (or the whole hymn, in case more than one flow at the same time – which happened a few days ago at Thiru UttharakOsamangai திருஉத்தரகோசமங்கை, while having the darshan of AbhishEkam for the Dancing Lord) later.

Oh btw, they’re actually hymns with a tune (most are) and Swamy actually sings them while writing them down (he can instantly recall the tune as well), though Swamy has absolutely no knowledge of the nuances of music, in terms of RAgA or ThALA!

In a way, these enchanting hymns in classical Thamizh are written by an illiterate (who isn’t a qualified Poet) and sung by a musically challenged person (who isn’t a trained Musician). Howzatt for the boundless Grace of the most benevolent creator!😂

So, it’s natural for everyone – Seeker or not – to have the Big Ws (What, Why, When, Where, Which, WTF,  etc) fluttering in their minds, while enjoying these hymns, with the help of the explanation in English, of course – there aren’t many who comprehend these classical Thamizh (தொல் தமிழ் – well, almost) hymns by simply reading them. In fact, Mrs Swamy got so intrigued by this incomprehensible phenomenon (in the earlier days, Swamy used to wake her up from her deep slumber to share the new hymn that has just flowed – her reaction is left to your imagination 😒), that she started dragging Swamy to one Jeeva SamAdhi (of Siddhars) after another, seeking answers for the Big ?s! 👣

Padhiga Padhigam (a hymn about the hymns)

Essentially a conversation between Swamy’s mind and Swamy (whether the individual or the universal self is itself a big W, which we arent trying to unravel now), where the mind takes different forms – unreal / MAyA, of course – such as male, female, bird, mirror, wave, poet, garden and net and praise the hymns as one thing or another (trying the trick of praise that had even the mighty ones falling for it unfailingly, for eons), which Swamy steadfastly refutes and clarifies as an outcome of the Grace of Lord ShivA, Mother Goddess DEvi, their illustrious YOgi son Murugan, etc (signifying the 8 broad categories of hymns).

ENmaNi MAlai (8 garlands of gems / hymns)

There were obviously many questions even for Swamily, including but not limited to, Why is Swamy the chosen one (to write hymns, that’s all)?; How long will this go on?, etc. Swamy Sr even tried doing some genetic research to dig out an ancestral connection (no, there arent any – at least none poetically inclined, so far).

Part of the answer came one fine day (aren’t they all – until we make them not so, with our screwed up intellect!), around noon, before brunch (both Mr & Mrs Swamy eat only twice a day, that too PrANic food, as much as practically feasible), when Swamy was in the midst of one of his daily meditations. 8 titles flashed past swiftly and he knew instinctively that they’re nothing but the logical grouping of the hymns that flow through him. Here they are… 👇


Shiva MaNimAlai (சிவ மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on Lord ShivA. This could potentially be more than one book, going by the rate at which the Dancing Lord is showering his Grace through hymn after enchanting hymn. Its quite normal for Joy drops to flow, either while writing or singing Shiva MaNimAlai (சிவ மணிமாலை) hymns (பதிகங்கள்), which gives one the taste of – in terms of direct experience – the state of devotion that Saints like NhAyanmArs (நாயன்மார்கள்), ThAyumAnavar (தாயுமானவர்), Kumaragurubarar (குமரகுருபரர்), Adi ShankarA (ஆதி சங்கரர்) and ArutprakAsa VaLLalAr (அருட்பிரகாச வள்ளலார்) must have experienced.😇


Shakthi MaNimAlai (சக்தி மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on Mother Goddess DEvi. She took her own sweet time to let her Grace flow through the hymns, but whenever she chooses to flow, its always a torrential downpour that will immerse and envelop one in her unconditionally Universal Motherly Love thats fiercely compassionate – the same torrent that must’ve drenched AbirAmi Bhattar (அபிராமி பட்டர்), Adi ShankarA (ஆதி சங்கரர்), KALidAsA (காளிதாசர்) and many such DEvi upAsakAs (தேவி உபாசகர்கள்). 😂

Guha MaNimAlai (குஹ மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the Lord & Devi’s illustrious YOgi (+ warrior, created for the sole purpose of annihilation of evil) son Lord Murugan (Karthikeyan, Kumaran, Skandan…), who is also very special for Thamizh people worldwide (தமிழ்க் கடவுள்) and also happens to be Swamily’s family deity (ஸ்வாமி குடும்பத்தாரின் குலதெய்வம்). Those who are familiar with ancient Thamizh hymns (like Mrs Swamys maternal aunt) say, these hymns resemble the magnificent (& still very popular) ones sung by the Saint Poet AruNagirinhAdhar (அருணகிரிநாதர்). Swamy eventually realised this connect (which was clearly indicated during the advanced YOgA program called SamyamA, which Swamy did in his Master Sadhgurus presence in 2013) and prostrated at the incomparable poets Jeeva SamAdhi (ஜீவ சமாதி) at ThiruvaNNAmalai (திருவண்ணாமலை), during the Pancha BhUtha Sthala YAtrA (பஞ்சபூத ஸ்தல யாத்திரை), requesting him to guide Swamy as a MAnaseeka Guru (மானசீக குருநாதர்).

Iha MaNimAlai (இக அல்லது அக மணிமாலை

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the vast (and deep) Internal Space (within every being), where the Lord resides, active but dormant, until the seeking for Truth starts. As Swamy’s Master Sadhguru says “The only way out is In!” (வெளியேற ஒரே வழி உள்ளேதான் இருக்கிறது). 


Para MaNimAlai (பர அல்லது புற மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the perceived External Space (by every being), which isnt real, until one realises the trap in which one is entangled (for many lifetimes) and the thirst to know the way out becomes so unbearable (like a painful scream within), when a Guru happens (to guide the Seeker along the path to liberation). That’s how Sadhguru happened for Swamy (who he didn’t even know) and turned his Life outside-in! 🙃😌

Thava MaNimAlai (தவ மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the Spiritual process / pursuit, in the form of SAdhanA, on any (or many or all) of the four paths, viz KriyA, KarmA, Bakthi & GnAnA, (க்ரியா யோகா, கர்ம யோகா, பக்தி யோகா, ஞான யோகா) and the experiences related to such SAdhanA (ஆன்மீக சாதனை அல்லது பயிற்சி). Since the proportion or mix of these four well-treaded paths varies from seeker to seeker, the need for a Guru has always been emphasised as essential in this liberation focused culture, in order to progress towards mukthi (முக்தி அல்லது வீடுபேறு). 

Pugazh MaNimAlai (புகழ் மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns, in praise of the innumerable Saints, Masters, Devotees and Seekers, who have walked the spiritual path before us, and chose to share their (at least quite a few of them) experiences and methods with the ones who may eventually walk along the same path leading to the Truth. This liberation focused (not God focused, as widely misunderstood, because of the innumerable number of Gods & Goddesses we worship) culture always had many eminent spiritual beings (ஆன்மீக சாதகர்கள்) and Masters (குருமார்கள்), who not only attained self-realization (தன்னை அறிதல்), but were always willing to guide others along the path to liberation. 🙏

GnAna MaNimAlai (ஞான மணிமாலை) 

~ Garland of gems / hymns on the experience of self-realisation and ultimate liberation (mukthi). As of now, Swamy isnt qualified to write these (as he isn’t a realised being, yet). But as and when they’re written down, they will certainly resonate with (& possibly resemble) the enchanting hymns written by many realised beings (ஞானோதயம் அடைந்தோர்), who had experienced the direct perception of reality / ultimate Truth (மெய்ஞானம்), before him. 

Of course, being a gray haired Millennial, Swamy uses digital devices (smartphone & tablet – both Android) & tools (Google Docs, Evernote, 2 different Photo Editor apps) to write down and publish these hymns, on social media, so that fellow seekers (and followers who aren’t yet seekers) too can get drenched in the boundless Grace of the creator.

All the Dhinam Oru Padhigam (தினம் ஒரு பதிகம்) hymns are freely available for anyone who seeks (at least some answers about this seemingly pointless existence) and will continue to remain free on social media (FacebookGoogle+TwitterWhatsApp, Pinterest, Swamyem / DhinamOruPadhigam blog). 

There are plans for a dedicated blog / website (http://www.dhinamorupadhigam.net or .org or https://DhinamOruPadhigam.wordpress.com) that’ll have the hymns (logically grouped in the Eight ManimAlai categories), with explanations in English & Thamizh (requested by many, who are conversant with the language but unable to comprehend the nuances in the hymns fully), and in audio form as well (in Swamy’s voice). An YouTube channel too is a possibility, in the future.

With Grace, these collections of Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns might even be in the hands of Seekers like you, in the form of published books, someday – hopefully sooner than later! Hopefully you won’t mind paying for them, as and when they’re published – in both analog & digital formats 😜 And share them with your near & dear, as a gift for starting their own seeking.👍

May Grace be with you 🙌 for a purposeful Life 🌻 overflowing with Joy 😌

Be Joyful 😌 & Spread the Cheer 🌻


ShambhO 🙏

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

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

Swamystery 2.0!

18 Apr

It’s been a while since Swamy published a blog post (don’t worry, he won’t be surprised at all if you haven’t read even one of his hundreds of posts – to err is human, after all :O). The triggers to start writing one were many, as ever…

  • the sparrow that fell into the paint bucket but survived & accepted living in the SwamyHome balcony floor, while relentlessly trying to free its wings to fly away again
  • the crossing of 1st year milestone of freedom from 9-x BAUHumbug survival that went without a hiccup, despite a hiccup stricken stock market
  • the incomprehensible human reaction of ‘why are you doing this?’ when you finally manage to do exactly what they wished for (but never expressed openly)
  • yet another magnificent celebration of Adiyogi that turned out to be totally different (& intensely memorable) from the previous years, due to the little Sadhana twist given by Sadhguru
  • the utterly pointless exercise of trying to make a non-corporate entity process-centric (whoa, some learning that)
  • the first-hand (possibly first-time as well) experience of the physical form getting acutely impacted by an energy manifestation, the prolonged recovery process that followed & the realisation of ‘pain is real but suffering is optional’
  • the intriguing insight on why ThinkOpposite & ThinkDifferent are always interesting to discuss / learn but seldom easy to implement / practice
  • rediscovering the ‘Joy of driving’ with 2 long drives in his new Ciaz (yep, that’s Swamy’s first Maruti, simply because it’s very unMaruti :P)
  • the mind-bending chain of activities called ‘renovating a home while living in it’ that shreds all project management principles (which Swamy has pretty much always laughed at, anyway – no offense to fellow humans who make a living diligently managing projects)  and taunts one to throw up hands in despair every other day, while knowing fully well pausing or stopping is impossible
  • the election comedy that just kicked off in multiple states across MeraBharatMahan

… and so on and on and on.

But Swamy consciously chose not to transform any of those triggers into a blog post. That too for several weeks.

160417082334Since most humans are still driven (mad! ha.. ha..) by numbers (you may be an exception though, which is perfectly fine ;), let’s start with some delectable blog stats (feel free to click on all the links, please ;)…

Been there, Seen that ~ 100 (yep, that’s a ton, thank you – the one to browse if things like daily grind, sports, humour, career, education, et al are your kind of things)

Swamyverse ~ 22 (primarily the 2KYOT series – a modern interpretation of millennia old wisdom treasure Thirukkural for Millennials – so this one can cross a 1000 posts some day, possibly)

Swamyem ~ 34 (poems – in English & தமிழ், when thoughts just flow & expression can’t wait to be verbose)

Swamystery ~ 63 (considered a healthy neuron workout by even the most loyal readers, this one’s pretty much the opposite pole of BTST – highly recommended if you love to ponder whatever you read; Swamy’s spiritual journey with the boundless grace-filled guidance of his Master Sadhguru can also be followed, if you follow this one)

SwamyView ~ 4 (specifically for reviews, obviously not doing as many as he possibly could)

SwamyRay ~ 113 (Quotes – original Rays of kLight from Swamy’s active, rational, non-conformist, think opposite, constantly connecting-the-abstract-dots & marveling at myriad forms & hue of Life mind)

Swamygraphy ~ 3 (Photography, a subdued passion that’s slowly springing its head again, supposedly to capture the beauty of the moments instead of boring technicalities – need a much faster shutter speed, obviously)

That’s 329 posts. In 5 years. On extremely diverse topics.

Not written to achieve anything – including accolades from readers like you, but because there’s a medium to express one’s original thoughts, ideas & povs, for Free! And in this marvelous nation that has excelled in tolerance from time immemorial, one doesn’t get prosecuted or persecuted for expressing one’s views in the public domain (take that pseudo secular intellectual elite award wapsi intolerant brigade members)

FB_IMG_1459682231154Swamy took a pause in 2016, despite having a perennial spring of ideas to write about and no pestering boss to worry about (read about that earned freedom in 21 changes to ponder 21 days later) and pondered a while the following… 

Who am Swamy writing for!

It’s way too obvious that the current readership – and the response, if any – is almost negligible for the effort that goes into each post. Curious about the intense effort that’s the linguistic equivalent of a woman delivering a baby to be promoted to the worshipful position of Mother? Click I Write, Therefore I am!

FB_IMG_1459696662107What’s the big idea Swamy is writing about!

The topics are so broad in scope that it’ll be well nigh impossible to put a finger on the big idea – he certainly has that constantly firing on one of those neurons though. Check this list for a taste of the variety on offer…

Why does Swamy write!

FB_IMG_1459696652251That’s an easy one – because he loves sharing ideas, thoughts, points if view, frameworks, et al and can handle the communication craft with ease. But the billion rupee question is ‘can he wield the pen (aah, proverbs…) more mightily’? Indeed & obviously he should.

What other idea spaces can Swamy explore!

It’s time for that bloody first book, isn’t it. That, once out, for the wor(d)shippers to relish, ponder & marvel, will probably answer all the above questions. Maybe not. Either way, it’s gotta be out of his head, into others’ heads. And the sooner the better.

Cutting the long tale short (that’s another significant change – to keep the posts as short as a chapter of a book), Swamy applied his fav MAP model (enjoy learning it from Daniel Pink’s awesome tome ‘Drive’ or hire Swamy for an experiential learning program to MAP anything) to decide the way forward for his wordsmithing.

Mastery – check. If in doubt, go check the links above or any of the 329 posts out there – all in the public domain, accessible by anyone curious.

Autonomy – check. A fervently independent soul even while trapped in the corporate golden cage, it’s been an year since his well-earned freedom from 9-x programmed paid-servant survival, making him free to pursue the Life pursuits that are truly worth pursuing. Like consciously trying to ‘Just Be!’

Purpose -…….. Well.. Ummm..

FB_IMG_1459696657299Aha, so that’s where the challenge is! He thought he had very clearly thought thru what he intended to do post his 9-x freedom. And did take a few steps to pursue that path. Then the stark BAUHumbug realization struck him – in more ways than one. It was hilarious and Swamy is known to be able to laugh at himself, for the silly song & dance routines one is expected to do, to humour & please various denizens of this world, who grossly overrate themselves and brazenly underrate anyone else. And Swamy is surely & certainly done with the sucking business. For good.

Hmm.. So, the Purpose needs to be chiseled again. And that’s exactly is what Swamy will address in Swamystery 2.0, aka the way forward for his being, in this (& final – the boundless grace of his Master & conscious avoidance of karma pile-up by Swamy ensuring this one) lifetime. And 2.0 will expand his horizon beyond writing (which remains an existential part of the Purpose still, so followers rejoice :D), including but not limited to the to-be launched Swamystery YouTube channel!

It’s not like he doesn’t care about his current readership (that certainly includes you, dear reader – thank you), but he aims for your treasured loyalty to be a part of the much broader base of seekers who are open to exploring far wider spaces of living, going deeper into the BAUHumbug existence that we ass-u-me to be Life. And not just read, watch & ponder, but also learn, practice & experience the Joy of Living (that’s a substantial hint, ain’t it) – from none other than Swamy himself!

Swamystery1fThere’ll certainly be blogs, but maybe not that many as in the past.

There’s gonna be the Swamystery YouTube channel, which won’t be mere mouthing of his own writing. It’ll be interesting, intriguing, insightful & inevitable. And you too can be a part of it!

You will also soon be able to browse & buy his published words (again, including but not limited to)…

  1. The Gardener
  2. P.L.A.Y. ~ The Gardener’s Way (tssk.. they’re both connected & there’ll be a series, you know)
  3. BAUHumbug ~ Why living sucks & what can be done about it!
  4. CowDung Manifesto ~ how to be incorrect – socially & politically and still survive the madness
  5. Answers Sans Questions!
  6. WTF ~ the definitive guide to a shining corporate career
  7. Swamyems ~ Garland 1
  8. REV ~ accelerating Life on the Joyway
  9. Lifescape ~ crafting joy spaces anywhere you want
  10. 3rd Side of the Coin ~ the ThinkOpposite way to success
  11. HR – dead & cremated ~ what to do with people now!
  12. 2000 Years Old Tweets – bite sized Life lessons from the Mylai Monk
  13. Life Matrix
  14. Allness ~ the natural way to nurture a fulfilling Life
  15. No You Can ~ how to say No to survival & Yes to living
  16. SKANDA ~ the 6-in-1 prodigal son of the first Guru
  17. Accidental Seeker ~ the inward journey of an intrepid soul

or something even more interesting in Amazon or Flipkart or Hudsons or StarMark or Sarvodhaya Ilakkiyap Pannai (he’s equally fluent in his mother tongue as well, in case you’re scratching your head) or anywhere wo/man’s best friend – no, not the tailwagger but the pageturner in print, digital or analog – is available!

CoachSwamyDo remember to cherish, like, wow, comment, mention, recommend, +, * & share, whenever & however you access Swamy. Each and every time. It’s perfectly fine if you happen to post a pic with Swamy or mention you’re a SwamyPal (that may even get you a discount ;).

While you wait for the launch (not for long, hopefully), there’s ample time to check the 330 posts (& do your social thing).

So there it is… the way forward for the Gardener aka @PrakashSwamy.

Calling it Swamystery 2.0 isn’t far fetched!

Stay tuned (& interested)…

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer!

@PrakashSwamy

P.S. You can connect with Swamy to explore his offerings for individuals, teams, organizations that include speech, thinking sessions, experiential learning programs & individual explorations focused on Human Potential DISCovery + NURTURE, for joyful living!

Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

18 Feb CoachSwamy

Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

CoachSwamyPeople who approach Swamy seeking guidance, help, counsel, direction, advice, et al, are not clear if they need him to be a Coach or Mentor (or Gardener – but let’s park that enchanting role for the time being). Having spent over two decades of his life span in the corporate corridors (the much coveted corner room wasn’t on his radar, ever), playing both roles for helping many, he’s both amused and amazed at this lack of clarity, especially in this digital space overflowing with digital natives.

While the lack of clarity about these two roles may be caused by multiple factors that still plague most of the systems – including but not limited to education and work, the primary one is not doing one’s own research to make an informed choice, despite the biG (for the uninitiated, that would be big G, aka Google – your active & pious mind is forgiven for interpreting that as the other big G, aka God) waiting eagerly on a plethora of devices to help with tons of information on the subject.

So, Swamy decided to make it easier for you to choose, irrespective of whether you choose him as your Coach or Mentor (or Gardener :)). Here are the 8 valuable insights for making the useful choice!

Both Coaching & Mentoring are about caring, but only Mentoring is about sharing.

Seven-movie-image-3Mentoring is about leveraging one’s own ‘been there, done that‘ survival past. A Mentor usually is a subject matter expert with on field experience, who lets you learn by sharing personal experiences, way of thinking and decisions taken, which you can reuse.

Coaching is about the other person’s ‘how to get there & do that’ living future. A Coach need not be a domain expert, doesn’t share how s/he will approach a situation and enables thinking & decision making happen in you, which you learn to use!

Coaching is a fast paced action movie. Mentoring is a soap that moves along at a leisurely pace for long.

Po-and-Shifu-po-and-master-shifu-25978929-970-823Action movies race from start to finish driven by a hero(ine) who doesn’t even know how to race like a maniac on traffic heavy city roads. If you want short term results, prefer following a framework and need precise direction, then pick a Coach who will steer you towards a specific time bound goals.

Soaps move along at a leisurely pace for a long time, have many colourful characters and are filled with a plethora of wow & whoa moments in each episode. If you need long term outcomes, ready to disentangle yourself from firm beliefs & willing to tread a path shown by someone, choose a Mentor who will walk you along a growth bound career.

Mentor is a teacher, helping you learn. Coach is a trainer, letting you know.

KarateKid4Mentoring is teaching someone what one already knows. If you prefer learning from others – from their experience and knowledge – choose a Mentor, who will help you learn how to navigate externally.

Coaching is letting someone learn what even one may not know. If you want to know yourself better, and discover what you’re capable of – choose a Coach, who will let you know how to navigate internally.

Primary communication skill of a Coach is listening. For a Mentor it’s speaking.

The_Oracle_and_Neo_on_BenchA Mentor speaks a lot to share knowledge & experience so Mentee can learn by listening & questioning. If you love listening to discourses and have annoyed your parents by questioning everything, you’ll benefit from a Mentor who loves to speak and share.

A Coach listens and questions a lot so Coachee can learn from speaking & thinking. If you don’t mind opening up about yourself and willing to discover your true self – warts and all – then you’ll benefit from a Coach who lets the cat see itself on the mirror in all its furry glory and lets it discover how to become the lion with a majestic mane and menacing roar, from deep within.

Coaching is a craft. Mentoring is an art.

silence-of-the-lambsAnyone can learn a craft, because the building blocks of any craft are tools & skills. Natural aptitude helps but isn’t essential. Coaching isn’t a model to solve this tiny planet’s huge problems, though it can be used for that purpose too. It’s a methodical way used by a Coach to enable humans think and act on solutions.

Not everyone can be an artist, otherwise the world will be full of artists and not art lovers & admirers. Mentoring is like starting with a blank canvas, cans of paint, variety of brushes and learning how to use all of them. A Mentor shows how to paint and helps you paint your own masterpiece.

Mentor need not be a stakeholder in your success. Coach has to be.

Dumbledore_HarryPotter1From the moment you were born, many have helped you learn the what’s, why’s & how’s of Life. All parents, most teachers, many friends, few relatives, an odd boss, would’ve shared their own experiences & knowledge gained over time to help you learn from their successes and failures. The one who taught you how to ride a bicycle didn’t do it to make you a world champion rider. Their purpose is simply to share what they knew. They are Mentors who need not be a stakeholder in your success.

When you wanted to achieve specific goals or results, the people you approached or the expertise you sought after were different. The superfit neighbourhood marathoner who helped you reduce weight just in time for the gala wedding; the yoga practitioner brother who guided you to remain stress-free despite having to survive a nagging boss; the lab assistant who helped you nail arc welding; the lithe banker who opened your nostrils wide to the abundance of nutrition in traditional vegetarian diet & tickled your taste buds …these are Coaches – not known experts in those areas – who enabled you discover things even you didn’t know about yourself and helped you achieve specific results you desired.

Coaching is an essential Leadership skill. Mentoring need not be.

Gandalf1A Mentor needs experience & knowledge gained over a span of time to help others by sharing dos & don’ts, but doesn’t necessarily require the ability to personally lead change and achieve results.

A Coach needs an open mind, patience, perspective, humility, presence & persistence – all essential leadership skills, but unknown to many who love to call themselves leaders – to guide others to achieve desired results within specific time.

Mentor lets you know how s/he has done it. Coach lets you discover what you must do and how.

Thor_The_Dark_World_Thor_and_OdinMentoring is reliving material experience by fetching pails of incidences from the memory well and offering it to all thirsty ones. A Mentor who has mastered the art of seamlessly drawing necessary quantity of memory anytime is like a friendly kiranawala (neighbourhood shopkeeper) who offers exactly what & how much you need, when you need it.

Coaching happens when you set your know-it-all self aside and listen to someone as if hearing it for the first time in Life! It’s the closest spiritual experience one can have in this overwhelmingly material world by letting go of oneself while helping someone else. A Coach who has mastered the art of setting one’s own self aside while letting you discover yourself is akin to a Guru who has no self left anytime!

men-in-black

In the enchanting epic of Mahabharat, Krishna is omnipresent, playing different roles at different times. A cowherd who is neither king nor peasant, neither hero nor villain, neither the seen nor the told in reality, the sheer presence of this contemporary Yogi (of that time) ensures there is no tale without him.

Lord-Krishna-In-a-Forest-With-Cow-Natural-ImageIf you’re just happy listening to enchanting tales of Krishna stealing butter with brother Balarama & friends, mesmerizing mother Yashoda by showing the vast universe in his tiny mouth, playfully destroying demons like Bhutana, skillfully playing the flute and dancing with Gopikas, elevating love to an altogether different devotional level with Radhe, benevolently helping childhood friend Kusela… then all you need is a Mentor like Ved Vyas who authored the epic or Thirumuruga Kripananda Vaariar (திருமுருக கிருபானந்த வாரியார்) who can make you go whoa and wow thru his discourses of the epic. Eventually, you may even end up using some of his tricks for plying your trade!

VishwaroopaDarshanOn the other hand, if you’re enticed by the master strategist Krishna, who was always present with the Pandavas but didn’t actually lead them to victory over the Kauravas; enabled Draupati to save her modesty in Dhuryodhana’s court without really teaching her how to; certainly guided them to make the precise moves that led to the decisive victory in the war at Kurukshetra, without actually sharing with them how he destroyed Kamsa, overpowered Kaalinga or lifted the Govardhan mountain with his little finger to save the yadavas from the fury of the mighty Indra… then you must seek a Coach like Krishna. But then, you must also be willing to discover the master archer Arjuna within you, who didn’t have the courage to wage war against his own kin and elders, while at the battlefield, despite all of them being on the wrong side of Dharma. It took a magnificent Vishwaroop slap from Krishna to shake him up and eventually do what he must do – let go of himself to realize what he’s really capable of!

May grace be with you to choose a Mentor or Coach, using Swamy’s 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

P.S. Swamy, Gardener of the human kind, has both the experience and credential to play either Mentor or Coach (or a proportionate mix of both), for anyone keen 😀

@PrakashSwamy

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NATYA – a simple formula for success

25 Oct

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

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

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

NATYA – a simple formula for success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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Mystic Nation 1 – The God Conundrum!

18 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swamystery in 2014!

31 Dec Realization

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

Here’s an excerpt:

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

Click here to see the complete report.

The LaaSting Truth of Life!

5 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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