Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (November 18, 1888 – February 28, 1989) was an Indian Yoga teacher, Ayurvedic healer and scholar. Often referred to as "The Father of Modern Yoga”, Krishnamacharya is widely regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century and is credited with the revival of Hatha Yoga.
Whether you practice the dynamic series of Pattabhi Jois, the refined alignments of B. K. S. Iyengar, the classical postures of Indra Devi, or the customized vinyasa of Viniyoga, your practice stems from one source: a five-foot, two-inch Brahmin born more than one hundred years ago in a small South Indian village. By developing and refining different approaches, Krishnamacharya made yoga accessible to millions around the globe.
Krishnamacharya believed that Yoga is India’s greatest gift to the world. His yoga instruction reflected his conviction that yoga could be both a spiritual practice and a mode of physical healing. Krishnmamacharya based his teachings on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He also respected his students’ varying religious beliefs, or non beliefs - a former student recalls that while leading a meditation, Krishnamacharya instructed students to close their eyes and “think of God… If not God, the sun… If not the sun, your parents”. This throws light on the belief that the most important aspect of teaching yoga was that the student be taught according to his or her individual capacity at any given time.
The Hindu trinity is of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They are respectively the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe. Each God in the trinity has his consort. To Brahma is Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge. For Vishnu is Lakshmi - the Goddess of love, beauty and delight. For Shiva is Kali or Parvati, the Goddess of power, destruction and transformation. The three Goddesses are often worshipped in their own right as well as along with their spouses.
It is believed that the triple deities exist in space and time that makes it difficult to explain the true nature of their existence, as well as their true potentials since they allegedly belong to the very highest realms of creation. The spiritual significance of the Trimurti remains that these are the three aspects of supreme reality, like a mighty flow of energy that branches out into three different streams with human awareness being the point of contact.
Brahma the creator - refers to the pursuit of knowledge and creativity, while Vishnu is the preserver - the protector of universal order, the fine balance between karma and dharma. Shiva is the god of destruction - an essential aspect of creation because without destruction you cannot really create anything, such is also the process of inner transformation.
Shilajit is a mineral deposit that is made up of humus and decomposed plant remains. When these components get pressed between layers of rocks for millions of years, they are converted into a gummy substance found at high altitudes in mountains. Research and analysis shows that Shilajit contains triterpenes, fulvic acid and humic acids, Other than which it is a rich source of minerals; which are preserved in their ionic form. That is why when it is consumed it becomes readily active, and starts its work.
The many benefits of Shilajit begin with it’s anti-aging and bio-generative properties which promote cell regeneration and maintenance. It’s rejuvenation properties are effective for energy synthesis and metabolism.
It purifies blood and enhances the immune and circulation system. It has been known to help with diabetes and also solves bone related problems.
Mount Kailash is a sacred place that is shrouded in mystery and legend.
It is considered as the holiest place on earth and some even believe that it is the abode of Lord Shiva.
This peak is unconquered and there have been no recorded attempts to climb Mount Kailash due to its near perpendicular wall faces and death-defying weather. Its distinct shape of four sheer faces marking the cardinal points of the compass. The religious significance of the peak is also the main reason for people not attempting to summit it. The Brahmaputra, Sutlej and Indus rivers have their sources in the Kailash range.
Ravana, the King of Lanka wanted to take Mount Kailas to his kingdom. He tried to up Mount Kailas and leave for Lanka but could not lift it. Why a King wanted to take Mount when he had everything in world. It may be because Kailas was a nuclear power plant which Ravana wanted to place in Lanka. After touching radioactive source, Ravana carried nuclear residue which was left in Lake RakshasTaal after he bathed in it. Now it is believed that whoever bathes in radioactive water gets disfigured due to ill effects of radiation.
A single circumambulation of the peak equals one turn of the Wheel of Life and will wipe away the sins of one’s life, twelve circumambulations will purify one’s karma for all past and future lives, enlightenment is attained after 108. Even one khora presents an extremely difficult task since the mountain is difficult to access and in extremely dangerous terrain.
Since ages, Indians have believed in the power of chanting the sacred word OM, which is generally referred to as Hindu’s religious symbol. For many of us, it may be just a word created out of our rich mythological past. But you will be amazed to know that even science has agreed with the therapeutic, psychological and spiritual benefits that you derive from chanting OM. AUM chanting is a potent tonic which increases the efficiency of the human organism in a profound manner.
If you utter the word OM without using your tongue, you will feel a certain amount of vibration in your body. Over the time, the chanting of OM has popularised even in western cultures and has become an integral part of meditation. The sacred word has been proven to provide a certain degree of peace and purification to the mind and soul. From sages to yoga practitioners to monks, everyone chants this Sanskrit word for various benefits. The OM mantra has astounding benefits that can heal the stress accumulation in the minds of people living in this ultra modern and busy life.
Enhancing akash means moving towards your original nature, both spiritually and physiologically - when the spiritual longing overrides all other needs. When akash is the dominant element in your system, physical aspects become less important. This does not mean neglecting physicality but transcending it. Transcendence means to rise above present limitations. People generally define themselves based on their racial, religious, national, or gender identifications, or personality traits. Essentially, you define yourself through your limitations, or the boundaries that you have set for yourself. Increasing the proportion of akash and turning spiritual means defining yourself through boundlessness. And boundlessness does not have any definition.
Once your perception rises beyond the physical nature, there is no male or female. There is just a human form that can be made competent in many different ways. Competence is not just in terms action but also perception. You can increase your competence not only as a person but as a life. You can become more alive. Every human being is capable of knowing life in a larger dimension. The aspiration to transcend is latently present in everyone. If you give yourself some time off from your office, family, friends, social media, phones, and computers, you will realize the need to transcend your present limitations. This does not require any teaching or goading. Every human being will know the limitations of their existence if they give themselves the needed time. Once you become conscious of your own boundaries, the longing to go Beyond is a natural outcome.
Also known as Yoga Mountain Pose, Tadasana is the basic standing form of the human body.
While it sounds simple - just stand there, there is a huge difference when you are practising this asana!
Here’s how to embody your Tadasana:
Lift up your toes, and spread them wide, feeling all four corners of your feet engaging the ground. Feel your arches naturally lift.
Let your toes release onto the ground while maintaining the evenly grounded feet.
Line your ankles, knees and hips up so they stack one on top of the other.
Engage your quadriceps and feel them lifting up toward your pelvis.
Release your pelvis down toward the earth – not tucking under, but extending.
Extend your spine toward the sky and broaden your collarbones.
Relax and soften your shoulders, letting the shoulder blades slide down the back of your spine.
A strong, supple Tadasana is the perfect base posture to explore pranayamas. Each of these has a slightly different effect. Be aware of the grounding action through the pelvis, legs and feet, and the ascending, lifting action of the spine.
This asana works on your muscles so that your posture is not only better, but also pain-free while you are at your sedentary desk job. It works to align your skeleton and bring it back to a neutral stance. When this happens, your body comes in to the start point for all the other asanas to follow. However basic - this asana combats our excessive smartphone usage and unhealthy sitting postures at work because of which there is always a tight muscle or some alignment amiss. This asana corrects them all. It is the muscular effort that it takes to get into this asana that helps strengthen the core and straighten rounded, weak backs.
Formal study of Buddhism nearly always begins with the Four Noble Truths. The Truths are something like hypotheses presented by the Buddha in his first sermon after his enlightenment, and all of his subsequent teachings support those hypotheses. Buddhism might be defined as a process of verifying and realising the truth of the Truths.
Unfortunately, when they are not properly taught the Truths can sound ridiculous. A common, sloppy rendering of the Truths tells us that life is suffering, suffering is caused by greed, suffering ends when we stop being greedy, and the way to do that is to follow something called the Eightfold Path. Often people get hung up on "life is suffering" and decide Buddhism isn't for them.
However, if you take the time to appreciate what the Four Noble Truths are really about, everything else about Buddhism will be much clearer.
The First Noble Truth: Life Is Dukkha
The Second Noble Truth: The Origin of Dukkha
The Third Noble Truth: The Cessation of Craving
The Fourth Noble Truth: Practicing the Eightfold Path
The Buddha spent the last 45 or so years of his life giving sermons on aspects of the Four Noble Truths, and most of these sermons were about the Fourth Truth -- the path (magga).The path is eight broad areas of practice that touch on every part of one's life, from study to ethical conduct to what you do for a living to moment-to-moment mindfulness. Every action of body, speech, and mind are addressed by the path. It is a path of exploration and discipline to be walked for the rest of one's life.
Without the path, the first three Truths would just be theory; something for philosophers to argue about. Practice of the Eightfold Path brings the dharma into one's life and makes it bloom.
Sing the song of celestial love, O singer! May the divine fountain of eternal grace and joy enter your soul. May Brahma, (the Divine One), pluck the strings of your inner soul with his celestial fingers, And feel his own presence within. Bless us with a divine voice That we may tune the harp-strings of our life To sing songs of Love to you.
A large underwater city exists off the coast of Gujarat in India, that has been submerged for thousands of years. For decades archaeologists have argued about the origins of the mysterious “Harappan” (Indus Valley) civilisation that flourished across what is now Pakistan and northwest India. New findings by Indian scientists working in the Gulf of Cambay suggest that the Harappans were descended from an advanced mother culture that flourished at the end of the last Ice Age that was then submerged by rising sea levels before ‘history’ began.
According to marine scientists in India, archaeological remains of this lost city have been discovered 36 metres (120 feet) underwater in the Gulf of Cambay off the western coast of India. And carbon dating says that they are 9,500 years old.
This news completely contradicts the position of most Western historians and archaeologists, who (because it did not fit their theories) have always rejected, ignored, or suppressed evidence of an older view of mankind's existence on planet Earth. Human civilization is now probably much more ancient than many have believed.
The giant stone statues (Moai) of Easter Island have been a mystery for a known about them. Although it was thought at first that the statues were merely heads, excavation has shown almost all of them to have bodies. Very few of the statues were ever actually erected; most were left in quarries, or abandoned during transport.
Archeologists don’t know why the statues were built, how they were transported and erected, or why they were abandoned unfinished. There is a form of hieroglyphic writing on some of the statues, which nobody has been able to translate. The people of Easter Island themselves are something of a mystery; it remains unclear where they originally came from. Although they don’t know why they were built, archaeologists suggest that the statues were symbols of authority and power, both religious and political. To the people who erected and used them, they were actual repositories of sacred spirit. Carved stone and wooden objects in ancient Polynesian religions, when properly fashioned and ritually prepared, were believed to be charged by a magical spiritual essence called mana. Archaeologists believe that the statues were a representation of the ancient Polynesians' ancestors. The moai statues face away from the ocean and towards the villages as if to watch over the people. The exception is the seven Ahu Akivi which face out to sea to help travelers find the island. There is a legend that says there were seven men who waited for their king to arrive. One of the wildest theories about Easter Island has it that the island is actually the peak of an underwater mountain—and all that remains of the lost civilization of Mu.
Also known as Laya Yoga, this school of Yoga is influenced by Shaktism. It derives it’s name as it is the process of awakening kundalini energy through the regular practice of meditation, pranayama, chanting mantras and yoga asana.
This Yoga of Awareness aims to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others.
The practice of Kundalini meditation is designed to raise complete body awareness and prepare the body, nervous system and mind to handle the energy of Kundalini rising. The majority of the physical postures focus on navel activity, activity of the spine and selective pressurisation of body points and meridians.
Om Mani Padme Hum is a six syllabled Tibetan - Sanskrit Mantra.
It is said that all the teachings of the Buddha are within this mantra. According to Buddhism, all beings have the Buddha nature. We all have within us the seed of purity that is to be transformed and developed into Buddhahood.
The first word “Om” is a sacred syllable that repeats itself through the Vedas in many Indian religions. The word “Mani” means jewel or bead and “Padme” is the lotus flower. “Hum” represents the spirit of enlightenment.
The Mantra is commonly carved into rocks known as ‘Mani stones”, or is written on paper with is inserted into prayer wheels. When an individual spins the wheel, it is said that the effect is the same as reciting the mantra as many times as the wheel spins.
The oldest temple in the world.
Turkey's stunning Göbekli Tepe contests the conventional view of the rise of human civilisation. These massive carved stones are about 11,000 years old and predate Stonehenge by 6,000 years.
Archaeologically categorised as a site of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Period (c. 9600–7300 BC) Göbekli Tepe is a series of mainly circular and oval-shaped structures set on the top of a hill. There is archaeological proof that these installations were not used for domestic use, but predominantly for ritual or religious purposes. Subsequently it became apparent that Göbekli Tepe consists of not only one, but many of such stone age temples. Based on what has been unearthed so far, the pattern principle seems to be that there are two huge monumental pillars in the center of each installation, surrounded by enclosures and walls.
Each T-shaped pillar varies between 40 to 60 tonnes, leaving us wondering how on they accomplished such an impossible feat. In a time when even simple hand tools were hard to come by, how did they get these stone blocks there, and how did they erect them? With no settlement or society to speak of, with farming still a far cry away, in a world of only roaming hunter-gatherers, the complexity and developed blueprints of these temples represented another enigma for archeologists. Do we have to change our vision of how and when civilized human history began? The plot thickens..
"The passage through successive states of mundane existence"
Saṃsāra is a Sanskrit term that means "wandering", as well as "world”. The term connotes "cyclic change", a transmigration or metamorphosis - a circuit of living where one repeats previous states, from one body to another. It speaks of our worldly life of constant change, delicately encapsulated by rebirth, growth, decay and redeath.
The concept of Samsara developed in the Vedic times, and is traceable to the Rig Veda. While the idea is mentioned in the Samhita layers of the Vedas, there is lack of clear explanation there, and the idea fully develops only in the early Upanishads.
According to Hindu tradition, the body dies, but not the soul. The soul assumes eternal reality, and is indestructible and always in a state of bliss. The concept of samsara is closely associated with the belief that the person continues to be born and reborn in various realms and forms.
The aim of spiritual quest in the Upanishadic traditions is find the true self within and to know one's soul. A state that leads to a blissful state of freedom - moksha. Saṃsāra is the journey of the soul.
The Hamsa, also known as the Hand of Fatima is Middle Eastern and North African protection symbol. It appears as a hand, with the last two fingers on either side facing up or down. The center of the hand often contains an eye, although that differs from culture to culture. It brings its owner happiness, luck, health and good fortune.
This symbol relates to the belief that God exists in everything. Another popular meaning of this symbol refers to the sun and the moon - the eyes of Horus, referring to how humans cannot escape from the eyes of conscience. The Hand of Fatima also represents feminity and is found similar to a woman’s holy hand. The five fingers of the hand are further associated with the five pillars of Islam. While the Quran prohibits the wearing of charms and amulets, the Hamsa symbol is often depicted in and associated with the Islamic cultures.
It is also painted in red - on the walls of houses to ward off evil. But most importantly, the Hamsa is in the process of transcending it's origins to become a symbol of peace in war-torn Middle East, and many Jews and Arabs wear the Hamsa to demonstrate the common ground shared by them and the common source from which their religions spring. No longer just a talisman, the Hamsa has instead become a symbol of hope and peace in the modern world.
This Yantra is a geometric symbol that represents Kali - the Hindu Goddess of time. The Kali Yantra contains within it the transformative energy of change and any person wearing it is protected against planetary malevolence, as well as from accidents, misfortunes and dangers. Since Saturn is the planet of longevity, it has the additional benefit of bestowing a long life on the person who adorns this Yantra.
In the center of this Yantra is a group of five triangles, to represent the five senses. The inversion of the triangle represents the female regenerative power. Each point represents one of the 15 Kali Nityas – one for each day of the waning moon. The 2 circles symbolize the cycle of birth and death.
The Goddess Maha Kali is a fierce killer of demons. It is believed that trusting in her bestows spiritual power and results in fulfillment of desires and increase in wealth and comforts of life. The mantra ‘Om Kreeng Kalikaye Namah’ is used to worship with this Yantra.
Ashwagandha has been used for Ayurvedic healing since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions, and is most well known for its restorative benefits. It is prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness.
Ashwagandha is most powerful against stress and fatigue. Regular use of the herb basically works on improving brain function. It has been widely proven that Ashwagandha has anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties without any toxicity or side effects.
There’s only so much that any medicine can do though. It’s important to keep your body free from toxins such as caffeine, nicotine and drugs. Sleeping is an essential part of mental health too, as is having a solid exercise routine.
Yantras are sacred geometrical designs imprinted on a copper or silver plate. These sacred symbols are regarded as devices for devotional sadhanas or practices, and as objects to direct our mind during worship.
Sri Yantra, also known as Sri Chakra, is the mother of all Yantras because all other yantras are derived from it. In its three dimensional form - Sri Yantra is said to represent Mount Meru, the cosmic mountain at the center of the universe.
Of all the different Yantras, the one believed to be the most powerful, is the Shri Yantra. It is a diagram formed by 9 interlocking triangles that radiate from a central bindu point.
Shri Yantra is one of the most auspicious and important of the Yantras - and is the source of attaining all worldly desires and fulfilling all wishes for wealth of both the material and spiritual kind.
The Vedas say that all the gods and goddesses reside in this Yantra. It is said to have the origin and development of the universe depicted in it.
Chakra cleansing and clearing can be the missing piece to achieve the perfect health you’ve desired. Healing & balancing your chakras, can raise your overall state of mind, leaving you healthier, happier and more fulfilled from life. You can cleanse your own chakras, as part of your nightly or weekly meditation, and you can do so as a general upkeep mechanism, or with the intention to free stagnant energy to heal a particular issue you are facing. Breathe gently and deeply as you imagine divine light entering through your crown chakra, removing any blockages or negative energy. Stay mindful and let it move through your body, pausing briefly at every chakra, filling and clearing each one. When you reach the base of your spine, feel gentle release into the earth and ground yourself. Do this as many times as necessary, and give thanks to the higher power once you feel your meditation is complete.
Breathing supplies our body with Oxygen, which is vital for our survival. Breathing is the link between the body and our mind, and for both to function well; one must know how to breathe. For example when your mind is nervous or agitated your breathing is short and quick. Practicing simple breathing exercises that can be done any time of the day and anywhere would benefit you in more ways than one. Vietnamese Zen Master and author Thich Nhat Hanh talks about breathing as a way to develop deep insight, which leads to awakening and enlightenment. Meditative breathing, he says, is a tool to calm the mind so it can see into itself and gain that insight. It strengthens mind concentration and stimulates compassion, awakening each person’s true nature.
Giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia) is a herb that has been praised and advocated by Indian medicine for centuries. In Sanskrit, Giloy is called ‘Amrita’, which literally translates to ‘the root of immortality’. Giloy is a universal herb that helps boost immunity. It is a powerhouse of antioxidants that fight disease. It keeps your cells healthy and helps remove toxins while purifying blood, and even combats liver diseases and urinary tract infections. Giloy is used by experts in treating heart related conditions, and is also found useful in treating infertility. It also contains anti- aging properties that help reduce dark spots, pimples, fine lines and wrinkles. The most fascinating thing about this herb is that it grows freely across India and as abundantly as the money plant or aloe Vera. It’s flowers are beautiful too and compliment any surrounding!
Sushruta was an ancient Indian physician, and the main author of the treatise ‘The Compendium of Sushruta’. The Compendium is one of the most important surviving ancient treatises on medicine and is considered to be the foundational text of Ayurveda. The treatise addresses all aspects of general medicine and dubs Sushruta as ‘the father of surgery’.
The document is extraordinarily accurate and has detailed descriptions of illnesses, medicinal plants, preparations from minerals and preparations from animals. The text discusses surgical techniques of making incisions, extractions and cauterisation and many other specialised surgeries like hernias, fractures of the bone, caesarian and intestinal obstructions.
The Mahabharata represents him as the son of Vishwamitra, the legendary sage and progenitor of all brahmans. The name Sushruta appears in later literature in the Bower Manuscript (600 AD), where Sushruta is listed as one of the ten sages residing in the himalayas.
Vishwamitra is one of the most venerated rishis or sages of ancient times in India. He is also the credited author of Mandala 3 of the Rigveda, including the Gayatri Mantra.
According to the Ramayana, Sage Vishwamitra created a parallel heaven, known as Trishanku Swarga, for King Trishanku. It is also believed that in the great epic Ramayana, Vishvamitra was born as Lakshmana, the brother of Lord Rama. He gave his brothers the knowledge of the Devastras (celestial weaponry), trained them in advanced religion and taught them how to kill powerful demons.
The Devastras feature in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, where they are used in great battles. They are projectile missiles that are invoked by reciting hymns. They are depicted by archers such as Parashurama, Rama, Lakshman and other warriors. Brahma for example would destroy entire hosts at once and counter most other astras. Sage Vishwamitra, satisfied with the behaviour of Rama in obliging the orders of elders and performing the acts assigned to him, gives him many astras. This was the role he played in the Divine Play.
Bhaskaracharya was an Indian mathematician and astronomer. His works represent a significant contribution to mathematical and astronomical knowledge in the 12th century. He has been called the greatest mathematician of medieval India. There is strong evidence to suggest that Bhaskara was a pioneer in some of the principles of differential calculus. He was perhaps the first to conceive the differential coefficient and differential calculus.
In the Surya Siddhanta, dated 400-500 AD Bhaskaracharya wrote - “objects fall on the earth due to a force of attraction by the earth. Therefore, the earth, planets, constellations, moon and sun are held in orbit due to this attraction.“ It wasn’t till approximately 1200 years later that Newton stumbled upon his theory of gravity.
Other than his many contributions to Algebra and Mathematics, he also made some huge leaps in Astronomy. Based on Brahmagupta’s astronomical model from the 7th century, Bhaskara accurately defined many astronomical qualities like the time taken for the earth to orbit the sun. His epic text ’Siddhanta Shiromani’ is written in two parts: the first part on mathematical astronomy and the second part on the sphere that is our planet.
The Gitopanishad, popularly known as the Bhagavad-Gita is considered by seers and sages alike as the essence of all Vedic knowledge. However, in today’s day and age, it can be rather captivating and indeed gratifying for one to lick the outer surface of the honey anodyne of the Vedic literature. On the other hand, sowing the seed of enlightenment apart from properly nourishing and protecting the spirit of the Sanatana teachings from external and widespread influences such as Mayavada or the impersonal aspect of the Absolute Truth and Shunyavada (the void-ist conceptualization) of the same by the Buddhists becomes tentative.
The Supreme Authority
The Acaryas (ideal teachers or Gurus), however advise us to follow the directions on the label of the honey bottle as given by the physician himself before consuming the medicine. In the Shastras, which are the corollaries of the Vedas, that Supreme practitioner or Bhagavana is Lord Krishna.
Spiritual masters such as Shankaracarya, Madhvacarya, Nimbarkacarya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and other Vedic authorities validated and indeed preached this great truth unequivocally. As far as the historical dating is concerned, Lord Krishna himself says to Arjuna that the great truth or yoga he is propounding was first spoken to the Sun god, Vivasvan eons ago.
That Supreme Yoga was reinvoked and reinvigorated on the battlefield of Kurukshetra for the benefit of humanity and the annihilation of evil personified in the form the vicious Kuru dynasty. Indeed, the human form of life is considered most auspicious for realization of the Absolute Truth and hence, one is advised not to waste it on trivial matters by quarreling like dogs and cats.
The analogy of the banyan tree with the entanglement of the material world presents a stark reality of life. The middle section of the Gita, however, illuminates with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness of the bodily concept of life and also the light--way out of it.
The imperishable Banyan Tree
“Bhagavan said: It is said that there is an imperishable banyan tree whose roots are upwards and branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One, who knows this tree, is the Knower of the Vedas.”
The Gita is crystal clear in that for one engaged in Karmic activities, there is no relief/respite. The person wanders from one branch to another like a bird albeit an aimless one. The leaves which are compared to Vedic hymns are meant for uplifting one from the morass of material life. The roots grow upwards because the tree is the perverted reflection of the spiritual world (sat-chit-ananda). In other words, this is the indestructible tree of illusion.
Lord Krishna is asking us to break attachment with this material tree through the weapon of detachment. But for nescience to obviate, knowledge has to be instilled and realized. To reach that end, Lord Krishna further elucidates upon the subject:
“The branches of this tree extend downwards and upwards, nourished by the modes of material nature. The twigs are the objects of the senses. The tree also has roots going downwards, and is bound by the fruitive actions of human society.”
In the lower part of the tree are situated lower forms of life whereas the demigods and other evolved forms of life are situated on the upper parts. Like a real tree nourished by water, this tree is nourished by the modes of nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. The twigs are considered as sense objects towards which the tips of branches or the senses develop raga (attachment) or dvesha (aversion). Our attachment or aversion to sense objects is the root cause of temporal happiness and suffering.
Through the analogy of the banyan tree, it can be concurred that the human form of life is the field of activities wherein we enjoy the fruits of happiness and misery.
Breaking free from the Banyan Tree
After explaining the nature of the banyan tree, Lord Krishna further high-lightens the fact that the real form of this banyan tree cannot be perceived by those already enmeshed within its roots. However, with the axe of detachment and determination one must cut down the strongly rooted illusory tree. Detachment implies breaking free from the trappings of sense gratification and surrender to the Supreme Person and Place from where, having gone once, one never returns.
Lord Krishna, is that Supreme Person because the Gitopanishad declares boldly that everything began from Him and everything else is an extension of His material energy or Maya.
When one surrenders to that Superior authority, he is relinquished from his past sins of ignorance and selfish cravings. The deeply embedded banyan tree in the consciousness of the person is cast far away and the objective reality of who we really are is revealed within the core of his heart.
The last section of the Gita confirms the aforementioned truth, when Lord Krishna states the following:
“Abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not Fear.”
*based on the commentaries of Vaishnava Acharyas
Yantra literally means “support” and “instrument”. A Yantra is a geometric design acting as a highly efficient tool for contemplation, concentration and meditation. Yantras carry spiritual significance : there is a specific meaning that pertains to higher levels of consciousness.
The Yantra provides a focal point that is a window into the absolute. When the mind is concentrated on a single, simple object (in this case a Yantra), the mental chatter ceases. Eventually, the object is dropped when the mind can remain empty and silent without help. In the most advanced phases, it is possible to attain union with God by the geometric visualization of a Yantra.
The Yantra is like a microcosmic picture of the Macrocosm. It is a focusing point and an outer and inner doorway. The Yantras are often focused on a specific deity and so. By tuning into the different Yantras you can tap into certain deities or creative force centers in the universe.
Yantras are usually designed so that the eye is carried into the center, and very often they are symmetrical. They can be drawn on paper, wood, metal, or earth, or they can be three-dimensional.
The most celebrated Yantra in India is the Shri- Yantra, the Yantra of Tripura Sundari. It is a symbol of the entire cosmos that serves to remind the practitioner of the non difference between subject and object.
At the basis of Yantra operation is something called “shape energy” or “form energy”. The idea is that every shape emits a very specific frequency and energy pattern. Examples of old beliefs in shape energy are the Yantra and mandalas of eastern philosophies, the star of David, the five pointed star (pentagon), the Christian cross, the pyramids and so on. Certain ‘powers’ are ascribed to the various shapes. Some have ‘evil’ or negative energies and some ‘good’ or positive energies, but in Yantra yoga only the beneficial and harmonious energies are used.
When one focuses on a YANTRA, his mind is automatically “tuned in” by resonance into the specific form energy of that Yantra. The process of Resonance is then maintained and amplified. The Yantra acts only as a “tune in” mechanism or a doorway. The subtle energy does not come from the YANTRA itself, but from the Macrocosm.
Basically Yantras are secret keys for establishing resonance with the beneficial energies of the Macrocosm. Very often the Yantras can put us in contact with extremely elevated energies and entities, beings of invaluable help on the spiritual path.
At this moment, there is little known about Yantras in the Western world. Many people consider them just pretty pictures and some artists claim to draw “Yantras” from their imagination. They are very far from the true meaning and use of Yantras. First of all, Yantra cannot simply be invented from imagination. Every specific mood and emotion has an associated form energy and shape. This unequivocally determines the form of the Yantra associated to that mood. The traditional Yantras were discovered through revelation, by clairvoyance, not invented. One needs to be a true spiritual master, a tantric guru, to be able to reveal a new Yantra to the world.
Search the Internet and the libraries and you will find very little consistent knowledge about Yantras. Some people placed Yantras upside down, a monument of their ignorance. You cannot place a Yantra just any way you please. Anyone knows that when the cross is held upside down, it is no longer a beneficial symbol. A Yantra put upside down is no longer the same Yantra.
The power of Yantra to induce resonance is based on the specific form of its appearance. Such a diagram can be composed from one or more geometrical shapes which combine into a precise model representing and transfiguring in essence, at the level of the physical universe, the subtle sphere of force corresponding to the invoked deity. From this point of view we can argue that the Yantra functions similarly to a Mantra (sacred word). By resonance, a certain energy from the practitioner’s microcosm vibrates on the same wavelength with the corresponding infinite energy present in the macrocosm, energy which is represented in the physical plane by the Yantra. The principle of resonance with any deity, cosmic wisdom, aspect, phenomenon or energy owes its universal applicability to the perfect correspondence existing between the human being (seen as a true microcosm) and the creation as a whole (Macrocosm).
Every Yantra is delimited from the exterior by a line or a group of lines forming its perimeter. These marginal lines have the function to maintain, contain and prevent the loss of the magical forces represented by the core structure of the Yantra, usually the central dot. They also have the function to increase its magical and subtle force.
The core of the Yantra is composed of one or several simple geometrical shapes : dots, lines, triangles, squares, circles and lotuses representing in different ways the subtle energies.
For example the dot (Bindu) signifies the focalized energy and its intense concentration. It can be envisaged as a kind of energy deposit which can in turn radiate energy under other forms. The dot is usually surrounded by different surfaces, either a triangle, a hexagon, a circle etc. These forms depend on the characteristic of the deity or aspect represented by the Yantra. In the tantric iconography, the dot is named Bindu; in tantra Bindu is symbolically considered to be Shiva himself, the source of the whole creation.
The triangle (Trikona) is the symbol of Shakti, the feminine energy or aspect of creation. The triangle pointing down represents the Yoni, the feminine sexual organ and the symbol of the supreme source of the Universe, and when the triangle is pointing upwards it signifies intense spiritual aspiration, the sublimation of one’s nature into the most subtle planes and the element of fire (Agni Tattva). The fire is always oriented upwards, thus the co-relation with the upward triangle – Shiva Kona. On the other hand, the downward pointing triangle signifies the element of water which always tends to flow and occupy the lowest possible position. This triangle is known as Shiva Kona.
The intersection of two geometric forms (lines, triangles, circles, etc.) represents forces that are even more intense than those generated by the simple forms. Such an inter-penetration indicates a high level in the dynamic interaction of the correspondent energies. The empty spaces generated by such combinations are described as very efficient operational fields of the forces emanating from the central point of the Yantra. That is why we can very often encounter representations of Mantras in such spaces. Yantra and Mantra are complementary aspects of Shiva and their use together is much more efficient than the use of one alone.
A typical combination often found in the graphical structure of a Yantra is the superposition of two triangles, one pointing upwards and the other downwards, forming a star with six points (Shatkona), also known as David’s Star. This form symbolically represents the union of PURUSHA and PRAKRITI or Shiva-Shakti, without which there could be no Creation.
Another simple geometrical shape often used in Yantras is the circle, representing the rotation, a movement closely linked to the shape of spiral which is fundamental in the Macrocosmic evolution. At the same time, the circle represents perfection and the blissful creative void. In the series of the five fundamental elements it represents air (Vayu Tattva).
Between the simple geometrical elements that compose Yantra, there is also the square (BHUPURA). The square is usually the exterior limit of the Yantra and symbolically, it represents the element earth (Prithvi Tattva).
Every Yantra starts from the center, often marked by a central dot (Bindu) and ends with the outer square. This represents the sense of universal evolution, starting from the subtle and ending with the coarse, starting from “ether” and ending with “earth”.
Even though most of the times Yantras are composed of these simple geometrical shapes, sometimes we encounter other elements such as arrow points, tridents, swords, spikes included in the design of a Yantra with the purpose of representing vectors and directions of action for the Yantric energies.
The lotus symbol (or its petals) is both a symbol of purity and variety, every lotus petal representing a distinct aspect. The inclusion of a lotus in a YANTRA represents freedom from multiple interference with the exterior (purity) and expresses the absolute force of the Supreme Self.
In conclusion, a Yantra is a very complex spiritual instrument in the tantric practice (Sadhana). It can calm and focus the activities of the mind, and by its positive auto-suggestion it has a beneficial impact on the health and psychic well being of a person.
A Yantras alone represents nothing. Only when it is awakened by mental concentration and meditation will the process of Resonance appear and the beneficial macrocosmic energies will manifest themselves in the practitioner’s Microcosm.
As shown above, the secret key to using Yantras in meditation is Resonance. The process of Resonance is established by mental focus on the image of the Yantra. As long as the mind is tuned into the specific mood associated to that Yantra, the energy flows, but when the Resonance is stopped, the energy disappears.
· Hang the Yantra on a wall facing North or East, placing the center of the Yantra at the level of your eyes
· Adopt your favourite posture or, if you want, sit on a chair maintaining your spine straight
· Breath in through the nose and out through the mouth, but do not force at all, just let the breath flow normally
· Look into the center of the Yantra, trying to blink as rarely as possible; you don’t want to look at the particular details of the Yantra, just keep your sight right in the center and observe the whole Yantra at once
· This exercise should last at least 15-30 minutes every day; the experience will be indescribable
· In time, after at least seven days of Yantra meditation you will be able to tap into the same yantric energy even without a Yantra (at the beginning you may fix your sight on an exterior or imaginary point or evoke the Yantra with your eyes closed)
· Do not forget to consecrate the fruits of this practice to God (karma yoga); you should not chase any objective when doing Yantra meditation, just let it gradually guide you towards the sublime energies of the Macrocosm
· When executing this techniques it is recommended that we maintain a state of aspiration and intense longing for experiencing the beatific energies of the consciousness
· In superior phases the Yantra absorbs the practitioner’s complete attention, and he can no longer tell if the Yantra is within himself or if he is within theYantra; this is the state of non-duality.
The Battle of Kurukshetra marked a turning epoch in the history of mankind wherein a philosophical and religious dialogue ensued between a great warrior named Arjuna and the mystical supreme character worshipped by many as Lord Krishna.
Whereas for the most part, the dialogue was initiated in the form of Arjuna asking Krishna queries related to the fundamental nature of being to phenomenological inquiries and their practical application in life, the middle section of the Gitopanishad begins with Krishna elucidating spontaneously the knowledge of the Absolute.
“Now hear, O son of Prtha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free of doubt.”
The words ‘Now hear’ bear great significance as they signify the correct method of receiving such knowledge (by hearing in a humble state of mind). In other words, bhakti or devotion begins with hearing from/about Krishna.
Underlying the distinction from theoretical philosophy, Krishna declares such knowledge to be both ‘phenomenal’ (perceptible through direct experience) and ‘numinous’ (indicating presence of divinity). Krishna further emphasizes the importance of such knowledge, by stating, “This being known, nothing further shall remain for you to know”.
Herein, the difference between Gyana and Vigyana is clearly outlined. Whereas Gyana is referred to as the knowledge of the difference between the body and soul, Vigyana goes a step further in that it is defined as the knowledge of the Supreme or Krishna consciousness. Such knowledge is corroborated by seers such as Ramanujacarya, Madhavacharya and other great saints.
Furthermore, the sublimity of such knowledge is high-lightened by the following verse: “Out of thousands among men, one my endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.”
Here, Krishna does not intend to overwhelm and hence discourage us from realizing the truth but instead accentuates and glorifies the superiority of Bhakti, in the face of the Brahman realized impersonalist and the Paramatma( Super-soul) realized Yogi. Even demigods, what to speak of great scholars and philosophers, fail to comprehend the Supreme Truth as the son of Nanda and the charioteer of Arjuna.
Therefore, one who understands Krishna as the Supreme Absolute Truth is indeed a rare soul. Be that as it may, devotees can easily understand Him through the spotless process of devotional service.
Henceforth, Krishna summarizes the material world and its workings, in connection with His own being—“Earth, air, fire, water, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego-all together constitute My separated energies”.
Herein, the material world is reduced to its gross and subtle constituents, in concurrence with the 24 elements defined by Sankhya-Yoga. The word ‘separated’ is noteworthy because Krishna has allowed the material world to move independently of His direct control.
After succinctly defining the elemental parts of the material world, Krishna elucidates on the subject matter of a ‘superior’ energy of His; the living entity or jiva-atma.
“Besides these, O mighty armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.”
The living entities are His superior energy because the quality of their existence is one and the same with the Supreme, but they are never equal to Him in quantity of power. Due to the mindless exploitation of the gross and subtle inferior energy, the Superior energy or the living entity forgets his real spiritual nature.
Due to avidya (ignorance or forgetfulness) covering his real spiritual form, the living entity undergoes manifold miseries and sufferings in the form of birth, old age, disease and death. Such forgetfulness is due to the influence of matter on spirit. However, as soon as all material ideas are erased, the atman begins to manifest its eternal, full of knowledge and blissful essence. That is to say, the living entity is a fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Consciousness. Realization of this fact entails liberation or mukti.
That the living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme whole or Krishna is elucidated by His own words, “All created beings have their source in these two natures. Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in the world, know for certain that I am both the origin and dissolution”. From this verse, it is to be understood that Krishna is the creator and also the destroyer (for which he assumes different forms).
Exercising His literary powers, Krishna then goes a step further to embed the notion of being the maintainer of everything as well. “O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, like pearls are strung on a thread.”
From the aforementioned verse, it can be clearly deciphered that the Absolute Truth is a person. The Brahma-Samhita further corroborates this fact : “The Supreme Absolute Truth is Krishna, who is the primeval Lord, the reservoir of all pleasures, Govinda, and the eternal form of complete bliss and knowledge”. (ishvarah paramah krshnah sac-cid-aananda-vigrahah).
Just as no one can see the thread that holds a pearl necklace together, Krishna maintains everything covertly. We can see Him everywhere by Hearing from and/or about Him from an authorized source. Indeed, hearing is one of the most crucial components of the sublime creeper of devotional service.
Sanatana Dharma, which means the eternal or universal tradition, is the ancient name for what we today call the Hindu religion. It refers to a dharma, a teaching, law or truth that exists in perpetuity, that is all-encompassing, embracing the full spectrum of human spiritual experience, culminating in the direct realization of the Divine as one’s own true Self.
Through the course of time and human limitations, Hinduism may have taken on various elements which do not reflect this eternal essence of universal truth. However, the power of Sanatana Dharma continues behind the Hindu tradition, particularly in its Yoga and Vedanta spiritual forms, providing it with a depth, breadth and vitality that perhaps no other spiritual tradition on Earth is able to sustain.
One can find in Hinduism all the main religious teachings of the world from nature worship, to theism, to the formless Absolute. One can find practices of devotion, yoga, mantra and meditation in a great plethora of expressions, including the world’s most sophisticated spiritual philosophies of Self-realization. Hinduism is not anchored to any single prophet, book or historical revelation that can tie down the expanse of its vision. It does not subordinate the individual to an outer religious authority, but encourages everyone to discover the Divine within their own awareness.
Indeed, if one were to synthesize all the existing religions of the world, one would end up with a teaching much like Hindu Dharma. Hinduism has the devotional theism of western religions, the karma theory and meditation practices of Buddhism, and the nature worship of native traditions, all unified at a deep philosophical and experiential level into one harmonious fabric. Hinduism appears like the common root from which these various religious expressions have diversified or perhaps, departed.
Global Sanatana Dharma and Hinduism in India
Yet though Hinduism has been its main expression through history, Sanatana Dharma as a universal and eternal tradition cannot be reduced to the forms of Hinduism or to a tradition belonging only to India. Sanatana Dharma has counterparts in other lands and traditions. In fact, one can argue, wherever the higher truth is recognized, that is Sanatana Dharma, regardless of the names, forms or personalities involved.
If we look at the ancient world prior to the predominance of western monotheistic traditions, we find much that resembles Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma, whether among the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Celts, Persians, Chinese or Mayas to name but a few. India is the land in which Sanatana Dharma has taken the deepest root and maintained its best continuity. Hinduism is the religion in which Sanatana Dharma has best survived. But Santana Dharma is relevant to all peoples and must be recognized throughout the world for the planet to achieve its real potential for the unfoldment of consciousness.
One then may ask, “If Hinduism is an expression of Sanatana Dharma, why does it appear to be limited to India like a local ethnic religion, rather than a universal approach?” The first thing to realize in this regard is that a universal approach will always seek to create local forms. For example, a universal approach to diet will encourage people to eat the local food that has the best nutritional content. It will not emphasize the same food items for people in all lands and climates.
Sanatana Dharma will always create a great diversity of local forms, and never aim at uniformity. Uniformity is not a sign of universality, but of artificiality. Dharma is not a set of fixed beliefs or practices but a way of adaptation to the living truth that is always changing in form though one in law and principle. Even in India we see a great deal of local diversity in how Hinduism is presented and expressed in the different parts of the country. This variety that exists within Hinduism is probably greater than the variety found within any other religion. Yet through all of this diversity there remains a clear unity of Hindu thought and culture.
Sanatana Dharma is central to the soul of India as a nation. India’s place in human history is to function as the global guru or spiritual guide rooted in Sanatana Dharma as Sri Aurobindo once eloquently proclaimed. The traditional culture of India is infused with yoga, meditation and experiential spirituality of all types. This means that India cannot flourish as a country without a recognition of Sanatana Dharma and an honoring of its values on all levels of India’s culture.
However, besides its connection to Sanatana Dharma, India has another side, much like many other countries and cultures. There are divisive forces that deny this dharmic cultural unity, whether in the name of political ideologies like Marxism, other religious traditions like Christianity and Islam, or sectarian trends within Hinduism itself. Even in Hindu society, we too frequently see an emphasis on clan, family, and community that overrides any greater national interests or even the greater needs of Hinduism itself. This narrow vision can reduce Hindu Dharma to an Indian tradition only, or it can emphasize one Hindu sect or guru while ignoring the greater background of Sanatana Dharma.
One encounters this problem particularly when non-Indians seek to become Hindus. They are often told that one must be born a Hindu and cannot convert to Hinduism, which is not true historically or Hinduism could have never spread so far as it has. We also see this problem with Hindus who have migrated outside of India. They form their own religious communities, which is admirable, but do not make much of an effort to bring non-Indians into these, even when such individuals may approach them seeking to join Hindu Dharma. This further gives the impression that Hinduism is a religion for a particular ethnic group only, not a universal path. It can turn away westerners who have a genuine receptivity to Sanatana Dharma.
The Revival of Hinduism through Sanatana Dharma
To counter such attempts to limit Hinduism and to bring its teachings out for the benefit of all, we need a revival of Hinduism as Sanatana Dharma, the eternal or universal tradition, for the entire planet. Such a global projection of Sanatana Dharma does not deny the importance of Hinduism as central to India, its culture, its past and its future. But it emphasizes a global and expansive Hinduism, not one that contracts itself according to geographical or ethnic boundaries.
Such a bold assertion of Sanatana Dharma makes Hinduism relevant to all people, all religions and all cultures. It removes Hinduism from being restricted to local forms or controlled by the dictates of any particular group. This expansive Sanatana Dharma will naturally honor India and seek a revival of Hinduism in India. But it will do so with a global vision and a linking up with Hindus and dharmic groups worldwide.
There have already been important movements in this in direction. In fact, one can argue that the global spread of Hindu teachings like Yoga, Vedanta and Ayurveda is a sign of Sanatana Dharma arising at a global level. Gurus from India and their teachings have spread to all countries.
Unfortunately, many modern teachers from India have left the greater portion of Hinduism behind in their attempt to gain a broader recognition, to the extent of denying their Hindu roots and not educating their disciples in the greater Hindu tradition, its importance and its values. Instead of honoring the Hindu connection with Sanatana Dharma, they promote an artificial unity of all religions that puts Hindu views and practices in the background or ignores them altogether.
Such teachers state that people can add the spiritual practices of the Hindu tradition, like Yoga and Vedanta, on to any other cultural or religious foundation. They do not encourage people to study and honor the Hindu tradition itself but rather to stay within their own culture’s religious tradition, even if it is anti-Hindu. They do not emphasize Hinduism’s special connection to Sanatana Dharma, but try to make Hindus feel that all other religions are the same as their own and no real differences exist between them.
In this regard, such teachers of universal spirituality are making a mistake in their understanding of dharma. Sanatana Dharma is not just a spiritual path or what is called a Moksha Dharma, a way of liberation. Sanatana Dharma shows a dharmic way for all aspects of life starting with personal life-style practices, to the family, education, business, intellectual culture and even politics (all the spheres of dharma, artha, kama and moksha).
Unfortunately, the teachers who try to universalize the Moksha Dharma of Hinduism and apply it to all religions leave out the other aspects of Dharma, which includes the dharmic foundation for both social and individual life. A new resurgent global Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma will project all aspects of dharma and not be limited to a Moksha Dharma. It is important that we replace this “radical universalism” of all religions being the same, which is a misinterpretation and diminution of Sanatana Dharma, with a global Hindu and dharmic resurgence that affirms Sanatana Dharma as both a spiritual path and a way of life on all levels.
It is not only Yoga and Vedanta that have universal value, so does the foundation of Hindu Dharma on all levels. This includes Hindu rituals, which are a science of interacting with the cosmic forces, Hindu temples and holy places which are conduits for cosmic energy, Vedic sciences like Ayurveda, Vedic astrology and Vastu, Hindu music and dance and other Hindu art forms. These outer aspects of Hindu or dharmic living can be developed and adapted in different cultural contexts but their basic principles are as enduring as the great truth of Vedanta that there is only one Self in all beings.
On this foundation of dharmic living, both in terms of our outer culture and our inner spiritual practices, people from all lands and cultures can embrace Sanatana Dharma. They can find in Hindu thought a model for an authentic dharmic culture and spirituality that addresses their own individual, social and environmental needs, which they can use to restructure their lives as way of Self-realization. In that dharmic approach, all divisive religious identities will disappear into a greater unity of consciousness, not only with other human beings, but with the entire universe.
Mahakaaleshwar and the mystic city of Ujjain
As per Shiva Purana, once Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. There are 64 forms of Shiva, not to be confused with Jyotirlingas. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity - each considered different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.
The twelve jyotirlingas are
Somnath in Gujarat
Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh
Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh
Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh
Kedarnath in Himalayas
Bhimashankar in Maharashtra
Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh
Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra
Vaidyanath at Deogarh in Jharkhand or at Baijnath in Himachal Pradesh
Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat
Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu
Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharashtra
The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Kartikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nag Panchami. The temple has five levels, one of which is underground. The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The shikhar or the spire is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.
The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendor, reigns eternally in the city of Ujjain. The temple of Mahakaleshwar, its shikhar soaring into the sky, an imposing façade against the skyline, evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupations, and provides an unbreakable link with ancient Hindu traditions.
In the precincts of the Mahakaleshwar temple is Shri Swapaneshwar Mahadev temple, where devotees pray to Shiva as Mahakaal, to realize the most important dreams of their lives. Sadashiv Mahadev is so empathetic, benevolent and easy to please that devotees are sure to be granted the boons they wish for with a pure heart in this temple, it is believed. Here Mahadev is Swapaneshwar and Shakti is Swapaneshwari.
The Story of Shrikhar and Mahakaal
According to the Puranas, the city of Ujjain was called Avantika and was famous for its beauty and its status as a devotional epicenter. It was also one of the primary cities where students went to study holy scriptures. According to legend, there was a ruler of Ujjain called Chandrasena, who was a pious devotee of Lord Shiva and worshiped him all the time. One day, a farmer's boy named Shrikhar was walking on the grounds of the palace and heard the King chant the Lord's name and rushed to the temple to start praying with him. However, the guards removed him by force and sent him to the outskirts of the city near the river Kshipra. Rivals of Ujjain, primarily King Ripudamana and King Singhaditya of the neighboring kingdoms decided to attack the Kingdom and take over its treasures around this time. Hearing this, Shrikhar started to pray and the news spread to a priest named Vridhi. He was shocked to hear this and upon the urgent pleas of his sons, started to pray to Lord Shiva at the river Kshipra. The Kings chose to attack and were successful; with the help of the powerful demon Dushan, who was blessed by Lord Brahma to be invisible, they plundered the city and attacked all the devotees of Lord Shiva.
Upon hearing the pleas of His helpless devotees, Lord Shiva appeared in his Mahakala form and destroyed the enemies of King Chandrasena. Upon the request of his devotees Shrikhar and Vridhi, Lord Shiva agreed to reside in the city and become the chief deity of the Kingdom and take care of it against its enemies and to protect all His devotees. From that day on, Lord Shiva resided in His light form as Mahakala in a Lingam that was formed on its own from the powers of the Lord and His consort, Parvati. The Lord also blessed his devotees and declared that people who worshipped Him in this form would be free from the fear of death and diseases. Also, they would be granted worldly treasures and be under the protection of the Lord himself.
The Mahakaleshwar Temple as a Shakti Peeth
Shakti Peethas are shrines that are believes to have enshrined with the presence of Shakti due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it. Each of the 51 Shakti peethas have shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. The Upper Lip of Sati Devi is said to have fallen here and the Shakti is called Mahakali.
Ujjain was an important literary centre of ancient India. The writings of Bhasa are set in Ujjain, and he probably lived in the city. Kalidasa also refers to Ujjain multiple times, and it appears that he spent at least a part of his life in Ujjain. richchhakatika by Shudraka is also set in Ujjain. jjain also appears in several stories as the capital of the legendary emperor Vikramaditya. Somadeva's Kathasaritsagara mentions that the city was created by the Vishwakarma, and describes it as invincible, prosperous and full of wonderful sights.
Human curiosity attains its zenith when philosophical questions of birth and death are contemplated. From the beginning of civilization, no question has evoked such a profound seeking as death of a loved one and birth of a new life. What happens after death is an even deeper mystery sought after by sages, prophets, artists and poets alike.
Are experience of the world is that, right from the seed to the animals and man; all are under a constant state of flux. Countless answers or solutions have been put forth regarding the ever changing nature of the world we inhabit and are an intrinsic part of.
One of the matchless gifts offered from the treasure trove of spiritual wisdom come from the words of Swami Vivekananda, the fountain head of reason and logic. Uncovering the dust from the much neglected Vedic perception of the underlying reality behind the Universe can usher a wave of intellectual but empirical revolution.
“Modern science is now recognizing matter as one substance manifesting itself in different waves and in various forms, rendering redundant the division and breaking of one thing into multifarious smaller entities,” says the pearl of Vedantic knowledge on evolution.
Vivekananda, however, further extends this idea of evolution further to ancient Vedantic thought of involution; wherein every evolution presupposes an involution. A beautiful analogy is then drawn to practically demonstrate the theory:
“The plant comes out of the seed, grows into the tree, completes the circle, and comes back to the seed. But what was the seed? It was the same as the tree. All possibilities of a future tree are in that seed; the possibilities of future man are in the baby; all possibilities of any future life are in the germ,” Vivekananda states lucidly.
Modern science again corroborates Vivekananda’s analysis of truth, particularly when mathematical reasoning states that the sum total of energy displayed in the universe is the same throughout. This further quashes the notion that the universe cannot come out of nothing or Shunyatta (zero).
This presupposition of involution in every evolution cannot be better illustrated than in the succinct words of Vivekananda himself; that the child is the man involved and the man is the child evolved.
In other words, the evolution of mankind from the protoplasm to human beings and to God himself is but one life wherein the whole manifestation is involved. This is to say that the highest expression was present in the germ in minute form and that one mass of intelligence is uncoiling itself.
Hence, growth must not be something extraneous but that perfection lies latent in every life. There can be no question of growth when something is already present within but manifests itself in different forms.
The uniformity and continuity is further elucidated by Vivekananda when he says that effect is the manifested and thus there is no essential difference between the two differently appearing phenomena.
For example, the laws of physics state that glass is the sum total of the material plus the will of the manufacturer. But what keeps the glass from crumbling to pieces is the force of adhesion. In that case, the effect is the cause itself.
Vivekananda enunciated the same notion but had a greater vision to perceive the same principle involved in the evolution of life.
“Cosmic life got involved and became finer, and out of that fine something which was the cause itself, it has gone on evolving, manifesting itself and becoming grosser,” says India’s spiritual stalwart as if a scientist of the highest order.
Also, the idea of destruction takes a whole new meaning with Vivekananda’s flawless reasoning as going back to the source. To illustrate the picture am inference is drawn from the throwing of die. When thrown, the die produce a combination of numbers, say 1-2-3-4. After a certain number of throws it is but a given that the same combination will repeat itself.
When applied to matter, the forms of a table, chair, glass, among other things are one combination. In time, they will break and segregate and after a certain period, the same combination will manifest. This is theory of reincarnation stated in scientific parlance.
Thus far, Vivekananda has stated with glaring precision an extensive empirical analysis of the Universe, its evolution and the idea of reincarnation, discoveries which modern science is just beginning to understand.
Vivkananda’s unparalleled perception is testimony to the fact that the knowledge of Indian seers have surpassed, both in breadth and scope, western philosophical and scientific notions which are still struggling to provide an empirical anodyne to the perennially pricking question of the nature of existence and the metaphysical mystiques involved in its manifestation.
The Immortality of the Soul by Swami Vivekananda( Complete works)
Smriti or “that which is remembered”, is a vast corpus of diverse Vedic literature which is authored by an individual and is not considered divine per se.
The Smritis comprise of a genre of Sanskrit texts referred to as Dharma-Sahastra. These texts form an integral part of the Indic branch of learning and pertain to right conduct (Dharma), religion and legal duty.
In the modern age, a lot of criticism is levied on the Dharma-Shastras, mainly due to the flawed way in which they are interpreted.
Most of the scholarly analysis of the Dharma-Shastras undertaken by the western researchers today, focuses on the literal interpretation of words, rather than their stated intent. It is no surprise, then, that under such a narrow purview, the Dharma-shastras are castigated as ‘backward, illiberal and oppressive’.
For understanding any system propounded by an ancient text, it is essential that one focuses on the spirit rather than the letter of the law.
The Shastras are not a set of rigid blanket injunctions meant to be applied and followed at all times and in all places. They talk about Sat or truth while defining rules that are applicable for a particular time period and a defined region.
In contrast, the constitution which is an amalgamation of Euro-centric views, espouses the idea that the state or religious authority should define rules for all times to come. One can argue for the flexibility of the constitution by pointing towards the provision for amendments. However, such provisions carry with them a written down presumption that changing or for that matter, tweaking the legal sections will be anything but a walk in the park.
Dharma or right conduct, as laid by the Shastras implicitly entails the application of one’s own mind according to the situation at a particular point of time. For example, the activities of Ram which were considered as right action in Tretayuga, might be viewed as anything but sacrosanct in the post-modern world.
The doctrine that the application of laws should be based on the character (right conduct) of an individual, as put forth by the Shastras, is a very liberal concept.
Fast forward to the present age and the world is still struggling hard to define the notions of liberalism and pluralism. In fact, the ideas of freedom have become so abstract so as to say that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. In other words, what may be morally right for one person may be wrong for someone else.
Such a concept of liberty inherently advocates moral relativism as the only practical way to live. Values are denounced and their existential basis becomes philosophically questionable.
The Dharma-Shastras, on the other hand, are clear in the declaration that no liberalism can amount to unfettered behavior. Even while being bound to the law, there is freedom to formulate a new legislation.
Another factor that makes the ancient ideology of life as superior to the present society, is the emphasis on non-consumerism and non-individualism.
The classical vision, as expounded by the epic of Mahabharata is: Tasyeta ekam kulasyarthe, which basically means giving up self-interest for a higher interest.
This maxim forms a ladder with a series of progressive rungs; Giving up interest of the self for the interest of the family, ceding the interest of the family for the welfare of the village, rejecting the interest of the village for the betterment of the nation and ultimately sacrificing the attachment to the nation for the benefit of the atma or soul.
Such a hierarchical system of working ensured that every unit of society, from the microcosm of the individual soul to the macrocosm of the nation was happy and peaceful.
In the here and now, such a method of functioning will be completely against the fundamental right to freedom. Most of the educated people in India have been ingrained with such a heavy dosage of romantic individualism by the Western education system, that such a practical way of living is visualized as untenable and highly illogical.
A deeper scrutiny of the Westernized-individualism will reveal to us that such an indoctrination is a shrewd strategy to run the wheels of the global capitalist economy.
In the consumerist model, a mechanism called ‘branding’ is put to efficient use to enslave people. The brands are utilized as tools to create a virtual relationship with consumers that is pure fiction.
This relation engenders a trust relationship between the consumers and the brand that necessarily bypasses the company.
Such a master-plan is premised upon inventing and selling the myth that the consumer makes his economic decisions purely out of his own self-interest, that everyone engages in such a behavior and that society is better off as a result.
A direct consequence of the popularization of such a world-view is the crass consumerism under whose lashing waves we are deluging not just ourselves, but also the environment which sustains us.
The sacrifice of self-interest for the sake of something higher is an ideal that much more practical sense, than the warped logic of individual freedom as extolled by the west.
Another reason why the Shastras are looked down upon and derided as relics of a bygone era, is because of the fundamental proposition of the Varna-ashram dharma.
Such criticism again arises out of fuzzy and faulty understanding of the both orders of social organization.
While the Varna system segregates the social population into four castes: Brahmana, Kshtariya, Vaishya and Shudra, the Ashram apparatus divides life into four stages: Brahmacharya, Grhastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa.
The Ashrama dharma is a very practical way of defining living. The initial years are spent in accumulating knowledge and education. After reaching adulthood, marriage and generation of wealth assume importance. Then, after a certain time, one hands over all his wealth and retreats into the forest in search of spiritual knowledge. Finally, one embraces the renounced order of life fin order to establish his/her relationship with higher self.
In the modern age, the youth is only subjected to knowledge which is beneficial in churning out wealth. Consequently, there is hardly an impetus on discovering the spiritual aspect of life.
Retirement life, as it is viewed by the Vedic civilization, has also undergone a sea change. As one progresses towards retirement age, he becomes more consumerist than ever before, courtesy the accumulation of retirement benefits, fund stockings etc.
This is primarily a Euro-centric idea, which India has happily adopted even as it isolates itself from the values enshrined in its own spiritual books. Life, whose goal previously was self-realization, has morphed into an incessant money-generating machine.
While, such a system does create a kind of material evolution, it inevitably transmutes into a spiritual devolution.
Another means of social organization, the Varna or caste system has also been abolished now. The reason cited for quashing such a successful model of social harmony is the oppression of Shudras or men engaged in menial jobs by the higher class or the Brahmanas.
Again, such arguments against the Vedic mode of functioning are based on a narrow understanding of the system.
First of all, the caste system was never entirely based on birth. Factors such qualities and the profession of a person assumed paramount importance in defining ones caste. Birth was never the final judgment in defining the life of an individual.
Secondly, such a hierarchical social order was not a special feature of only the Indic civilization. Greek philosopher Plato, for example, prescribes a system which is completely oppressive in its nature. In Europe, the entire population was divided into masters and slaves. In China and in Japan, the situation was no better.
It was only in India, that a flourishing and prosperous middle class existed. Prima-facie, this was due to the strength and the flexibility of the Varna system.
Thirdly, the perception that all Shudras were untouchables and were lived outside the town is wrong. Most of them were involved in the daily economic activities. Some of them even became kings when they acquired power. For example, the Shudras enjoyed their own kingdom, a fact mentioned in the Mahabharata.
In hindsight, the guilt that is endowed upon the Varna-ashram system is a needless and thoughtless guilt. It was a system which worked (and works) much better than other models of social organization, both in the pre-technological as well as the post-modern age.
It would be pertinent and at same time, ironical to know that the sophistication and practicality of the Shastras was a quality much appreciated by the European scholars themselves.
Freidrich Neitzsche, a philosopher who stood against organized religion of any kind, while reading Louis Jaclliot’s translation of Laws of Manu, is known to have said: “Close the Bible and open the Manu Smriti. It has an affirmation of life, a triumphing agreeable sensation in life and that to draw up a lawbook such as Manu means to permit oneself to get the upper hand, to become perfection, to be ambitious of the highest art of living.”
Perhaps it is time that our misdirected civilization takes note and acts on the prescription of their philosophical idol.
Shani is one of the 'Navgrahas' and the son of Surya (Sun God) and his wife Chhaya hence also known as Chayyaputra. He’s the elder brother of Yama the Hindu god of death.
The word shani also denotes the seventh day or Saturday in most Indian languages.
The word 'shani' comes from 'Sanaye Kramati Sa?', the one who moves slowly, because Saturn takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun.
Legends say when Shani first opened his eyes at birth the sun went into eclipse which shows Shani’s powerful influence in astrology. He’s known as the greatest teacher and well wisher for the righteous. He’s also known as the greatest punisher of those who follow the path of evil, betrayal and unjust deeds. He’s dark in colour and wears black. He holds a sword, arrows and two daggers and his mount is a crow.
Shani dev, along with the goddess Jyestha, the god Yama, and the goddess Nirrti, are associated with the crow in Hindu mythology. Throughout Hindu mythology crows represent harmful and inauspicious characteristics, both of which Shani possesses.
There is a popular belief that worshiping Lord Hanuman will help one in removing the hardships caused by Shani Bhagavan or Saturn. People worship Lord Hanuman on Saturdays to remove the malefic influence of Sani in their horoscope. As per Hindu Astrology, bad positioning of Shani results in a difficult period in life. There is an interesting story regarding why worshipping Hanuman will help in overcoming Shani Dosha or Sade Sati.
Ravan, the demon-king in Ramayana, had defeated all the Devas and had brought all the grahas (planets in astrology) under control. He kept the Navgrahas (9 planets) suppressed beneath his leg. Ravana was also a great astrologer. When his eldest son, Meghanada, was about to be born he forcefully kept all the grahas in the most favorable astrological position.
The Devas were worried that if Ravana’s son was born in a favorable astrological position, he will be invincible. So the Devas asked all the grahas (planets) to move from the favorable position. But they told they were unable to escape from the foot of Ravana.
Shani agreed to help, provided he was able to glance upon Ravana’s face.
There is a popular belief that Shani Drishti, or Shani’s glance, is as deadly as his position. Shani is believed to cast an evil eye and this causes deep trouble.
The Devas took the help of Saint Narada to achieve Shani Drishti.
Saint Narada reached the palace of Ravana and saw Shani and other planets under the feet of Ravana. Saint Narada praised Ravana’s victory over the grahas and said that he should stamp on their chest and this is true symbol of victory and not on their back as he is doing now.
Ravana agreed to Narada’s observation and immediately got the planets turned up. As Shani turned up, his glance fell on Ravana’s face and this kick-started his hardships also known as the sade sati the dreaded 7.5 years long period of Saturn (Shani).
To take revenge on Shani, Ravana kept him in a tiny prison that had no opening so that no one will ever again see Shani’s face, the glance of shani worked perfectly as far as the destruction of Ravana's wisdom was concerned, it reached to a point where Ravana lost control over his intelligent self and indulged into crafting his own downfall by kidnapping Shri Ram's wife, Maa Sita.
Thus Shani Dev plays a very vital role in Ramayana, which most of us have been unaware of,
Later when Lord Hanuman arrived in Lanka – Ravan’s kingdom – as a messenger from Sri Ram to Mata Sita, He heard the cry of Shani coming from a dark prison with no holes. Hanuman broke open the prison and rescued Shani.
Shani said that he is very thankful for helping him but as he has looked at the face of Hanuman there will be hardships of 'Sade Sati' or 'Shani Dosha' for Hanuman. It is the divine scheme of things and no one can escape from it.
Hanuman wanted to know what sufferings he will have to face. Shani explained that first I will come upon on your head and this will make you leave your home, wife and sons and go about suffering.
Hanuman said that Shani can definitely come upon his head as he has no family and his abode is at the feet of Ram.
Shani took refuge on Hanuman’s head. Hanuman then began to fight the demons that chased him in Lanka. In the process Hanuman began to head heavy boulders, trees and rocks. He crushed huge rocks with his head and Shani was getting hurt and suffering in the process.
Finally, Shani got away from Hanuman’s head and said that you are the only one who will have no effect of inauspiciousness. I cannot trouble you. Since you have saved me from Ravana’s prison I would like to give you a boon.
As boon, Hanuman asked Shani not to trouble or cast evil eye on his devotees.
Shani promised not to trouble or cause hardships to Hanuman devotees.
From that day people started worshiping Hanuman to escape from Shani.
Following are some important places of Shani-Worship-
Shani Devaalayam in Deonar
This temple called Shree Saneshwara Temple is situated east of the Shivaji statue at the junction of Chembur, Deonar, Govandi on Mumbai-Pune-Bangalore, Eastern Express Highway. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Shaneeswara: a beautiful, mighty, and imposing seven-foot-tall black statue.
Every Saturday evening, as soon as the priest gives Aarti, Lord Shaneeswara is said to descend upon the main priest. All of a sudden, the whole atmosphere in the temple changes. One can see and feel the charged atmosphere in the temple. There after the priest sits on a chair which has a seat made of very sharp, long iron nails pointing upwards. The foot rest and hand rest are also fully fitted with upward facing, sharp long iron nails. He sits on the chair without any discomfort. Thereafter the devotees sit in silence in front of Swami. They are asked to bring and keep a pair of yellow lemons in their hands, waiting for their turn. Swami signals one by one by turn, to come near to him. He listens patiently to their problems, agony or distress. Then he explains the cause of their agony and distress. It could be Prarabdham, consequences of their past deeds which are carried over to present janma, which means "life" in Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Or as Swami explains, their problems could be the result of actions / deeds of his or her present birth itself. In some cases it could be handy work of Vamachara Tantra by their enemies and ill-wishers. There are other types of cases where it is believed that Aatmas of the deceased have occupied the sufferer's body causing misery and trouble. Swami listens to them all with apt attention with closed eyes and intent silence and offers them Prakshalana, or "cleansing" Praayaschitam or "repentance" through procedures such as yagna, pooja, dana, abstinence, etc. Thousands have claimed that their prayers have been answered by "Shaneeswara" through Swami.
In the premises of this Shani temple, navagraha mandapam is also there apart from Hanuman, Jagadeeswara, Saibaba and Mata deities. The Sanctum Sanctorum has a very tall imposing murthy of Lord Shaneeswara along with Jestha Devi. To his left is Hanuman and to his right is Jagadeeswara Swami.
located half-way between Shirdi and Aurangabad. The deity here is "Swayambhu" (Sanskrit: self-evolved deity) that is self emerged from earth in form of black but imposing stone. Though no one knows the exact period, it is believed that the Swayambhu Shanaishwara statue was found from times immemorial by shepherds of the then local hamlet. It is believed to be in existence at least since Kali yuga.
The story of the swayambhu statue handed down from generations through word of mouth, goes something like this: When the Shepherd touched the stone with a pointed rod, the stone started bleeding. The shepherds were astounded. Soon the whole village gathered around to watch the miracle. On that night Lord Shanaishwara appeared in the dream of the most devoted and pious of the shepherds.
He told the shepherd that he is "Shanaishwara". He also told that the unique looking black stone is his swayambhu form. The shepherd prayed and asked the lord whether he should construct a temple for him. To this, Lord Shani Mahatma said there is no need for a roof as the whole sky is his roof and he preferred to be under open sky. He asked the shephered to do daily pooja every Saturday without fail. He also promised the whole hamlet will have no fear of dacoits or burglars or thieves.
So, Lord Shanaishwara can be seen even today, in the open yard without any roof above. To this day, there are no doors for any houses, shops, temples. It is to be seen to believe that even post office has no door, not to speak of locks. Due to the fear of Lord Shani, none of the structures, be it dwelling houses, huts, shops, etc. situated within one kilometer radius of this Lord Shani temple have neither doors nor locks. No thievery or burglary ever occurred here in this hamlet called Shani Shingnapur. Some who have tried to steal have died vomiting blood within minutes of their act and before they could cross the boundary. Many others are said have received varied punishments such as long sickness, mental imbalance etc.
The first form of Goddess Durga is referred to as Shailputri or Daughter of the Mountain. She is a daughter of the Himalayas. In her previous birth, she was born as Sati-Bhavani, the daughter of Daksha. She had married Lord Shiva, without her father's consent. One fine day, Daksha organized a Yagna, wherein he didn't invite Lord Shiva. Since Sati was obstinate, she went to her father's place and attended the Yagna. Thereupon, Daksha insulted Lord Shiva. Humiliated and angered by her father, because he insulted her husband, Sati burnt herself in the fire of the Yagna.
The second form of Goddess Durga is called 'Brahmacharini'. Her name is derived from the word 'Brahma', which means 'Tapas' or penance. She holds a rosary in her right hand, while Kamandal in her left hand. Full of merriment, Brahmacharini is worshipped on the second day of Durga Puja. According to the legend, she was born as Parvati Hemavati, the daughter of Himvan. One fine day, when Parvati was playing with her friends, sage Narada approached her and told that she would marry her husband from her previous birth on a condition that she would have to observe penance. After hearing this, she decided that she would tie the wedding knot with none other than Shambhu (Lord Shiva), her husband in the previous birth. After saying this, she went to observe penance. This is the reason, why she is referred as Tapacharini or Brahmnacharini. since then, she also came to be known as Uma.
The third form of Goddess Durga, referred to as Chandraghanta, represents bravery. The charming, bright Chandraghanta looks gorgeous. She has a half-circular moon in her forehead, hence the name 'Chandraghanta'. With three eyes, she is golden in color. Ten types of weapons, including sword and arrows are held by her ten hands. Seated on a lion, she is always ready to go to war. The unprecedented bravery of Chandraghanta is worshipped on the third day of Durga Puja.
Kushmanda, the fourth form of Goddess Durga, resides in solar systems. It is believed that Kushmanda is the creator of the entire Universe. According to the legends, she created the Universe by merely laughing. She hands eight hands out of which, seven hold weapons and the eighth one bears a string of beads. With rosary in her right hand, she sits on a Lion. The deity is worshipped on the fourth day of Durga Pooja.
In her fifth form, Goddess Durga is known as 'Skanda Mata'. After observing penance, Goddess Parvati tied the wedding knot with Lord Shiva. Their son is Skanda, the leader of the army of Gods. Therefore, the fourth form of Goddess Durga is referred to as Skanda Mata, the Mother of Skanda. The deity of fire - Skanda Mata - is white in color, has three eyes and four hand. She is seated on a lion, with her son (Skanda), on her lap.
Katyayani is the sixth form of Goddess Durga. As per the legends, Rishi Katyayan was born in his 'Katya' lineage. He observed penance, because he wanted to get paramba as his daughter. Pleased with her prayers, Goddess Durga blessed him and took birth as his daughter. The daughter was then named 'Katyayani'. Seated on her vehicle lion, Katyayani has three eyes and four hands.
The seventh form of Goddess Durga is popularly known as 'Kalratri'. As the name suggests, Kalrati is as black as a dark night. With bountiful unlocked hair, Kalratri wears necklaces that shine like lightening. She is personified as the deity of power, with large eyes and fire that is breathed by her. Kalratri is also referred to as Shubhamkari, as she makes her devotees fearless. She has four hands, with a sharp sword in her left hand and a burning torch in her lower left hand, her lower and upper right hand that shows blessings.
The eighth form of Ma Durga is called 'Maha Gauri'. She is as white as a conch and is eight years old. She is clad in a snow white cloth and is accessorized with white colored ornaments. With three eyes and four hands, she rides on a bull. Her left hand shows the fearless Mudra, while her lower left hand holds a Trishul. Calm and peaceful Maha Gauri observed penance. According to the legends, when she observed penance and got dirty due to dust, Lord Shiva cleansed her body with the Holy Water of Ganges, flowing through his head.
The ninth and last form of Goddess Durga is known as Siddhidatri. It is believed that Lord Shiva attained all the eight Siddhis (Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Lishitya and Vashitva) by offering prayers to Maha Shakti. With her gratitude, the half portion of the body of Lord Shiva became of Goddess Shakti. Hence, he is called 'Ardhanarishwaran'. Siddhidatri has all the eight Siddhis. She rides on a lotus. Siddhidatri is worshipped by all the other Gods and the Rishis-Munis, Siddhas, Sadhakas and Yogis.
In the West we lovingly celebrate days dedicated to our parents. These days are known as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. On these days we go to our parents and greet them. We are expressing our gratitude to them for being the instruments of our birth in a body temple and for facilitating the play of the soul on the altar of the earth. Gratitude is the charm in life that diminishes ego and brings love. The Taittariya Upanishad (I:2:2) declares, matr devo bhava, pitr devo bhava, acharya devo bharva: “Love mother as the Divine, love father as the Divine, and love the guru-preceptor as the Divine.” The guru-preceptor is considered the mother and the father at the same time, because guru is the instrument for spiritual rebirth (dvija) of the person. Initiation is the rebirth, and guru’s guidance and practical instructions are the divine nourishment for our spiritual life.
For several thousand years in India people have been celebrating Master’s Day ― the Guru Purnima. It is a day dedicated to the divine guru-preceptor who has dedicated his or her life to the spiritual evolution of the disciple children. On this day, disciples come to the guru-preceptor and offer thankfulness with love and devotion for what has been bestowed on him or her through the grace of the master and his teachings.
This Guru Purnima, the Master’s Day, falls on the day of the full moon in the month of July. This is the birthday of the great sage Maharshi Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata, (which includes the Bhagavad Gita), the Bhagavatam, the Brahmasutras, eighteen Puranas, and the editor of the Vedas. (For details on the life of Vyasa, please see Soul Culture Vol 7.3, p.20-28.) On the full moon day there is light in the day as well as night, symbolizing knowledge or enlightenment. Just as the light dispels darkness, so ignorance disappears with knowledge. Self-knowledge is the light that makes us free from the groping darkness of suffering and unhappiness in life.
The Mundaka Upanishad (1:2:12) directs, tad vijnanartham sa furm eva abhigacchet samit-panih srotriyam brahma nistham: “For acquiring the knowledge of That, let him only approach, with the sacrificial fuel in hand, a guru-preceptor who is learned in the scripture and established in Brahman.” Here, two qualities of the divine preceptor are highlighted as: srotriya, a person with Self-knowledge, and brahmanistha, one who is always absorbed in God consciousness.
With the Firewood
In the Vedic age, the rishis lived in hermitages usually situated in the forest on the bank of a river or a mountainside where there was an abundance of firewood. Similarly, the disciple approaches the guru-preceptor with firewood for sacrificial fire. The guru-preceptor is a burning flame, burning with the eternal light of knowledge and the warmth of love. This flame can burn everything it touches, including all negative propensities. If a disciple is like dry firewood, free from all ego, he or she will readily catch fire and be purified. Conversely, the student who is full of ego is like wet wood, which only makes smoke. In wood, fire is hidden, unmanifest.
The Upanishad speaks:
"tilesu tailam, dahhiniva sarpih
apah stroasu aranisu ca agnih"
Like oil in the sesame seed, butter in milk, water in the river stream, and fire in the wood, so the soul is unseen in each person’s life. Upon meeting the guru-preceptor, dry firewood and fire unite. This is a sacrificial fire ― an offering of all negatives with a prayer for purification. When ignorance is offered into the light and heat of love, the offering becomes a holy communion of transformation.
Chaturmasyam, the Holy Four Months
In India, July to September are considered the monsoon months, when there is extreme rain and flooding. In the old times, spiritual aspirants were usually wandering mendicants traveling far and wide, as was the guru-preceptor. They were usually monks, never attached to any place, who roamed and distributed the divine nectar of knowledge. But during the four-month rainy season, the guru-preceptor and the seeker disciples lived in one place and underwent rigorous training. This tradition known as chaturmasya-vratam is found even today. It begins on the Guru Purnima.
Although the lives of the teacher and the disciple are united for life, for truth, these four months in monsoon have a deep spiritual message. After the scorching summer months, tropical, torrential rain brings new life to plants, flooding the river and cooling the earth. Every person is scorched with tri-tapas: adhibhatiaka (material), adhidavivika (psychological), and adtyatmita (unforeseen) sufferings. Through the guru’s grace, the disciple’s mind is freed from hatred, anger, jealousy, ego, and so forth with the outpouring of divine love. This is rain. With showers of love, the tree of life is blossoming and fruitful. Knowledge dawns. Just as the flooded river rushes toward the ocean, individual life consciousness merges in the ocean of cosmic consciousness.
The four months training enable a disciple to be equipped with the fourfold qualities of discipleship (sadhana chatustayay) and purify or even eliminate the fourfold inner instruments (antah karana catustaya).
The fourfold qualities of the disciple are:
1.Viveka ― discrimination to know what is good and bad, to know what is real and unreal;
2.Vairagya ― no attachment, to live a life of inner detachment;
3.Shrama damadi sat sampati ― the sixfold wealth of mind control, control over the senses, love for a higher purpose of life, faith in the teachings of scriptures and teachers, forbearance, and balance in life;
4. Mumuksutvam ― desire for liberation.
The four inner instruments are:
The Guru and the Disciple
The relationship of the guru-preceptor and the disciple is divine, aiming only at Self-unfolding. They serve each other to their own ability, and the goal is always spiritual. During the four-month training period, the disciple through service and humility, learns the spiritual lifestyle under the direct supervision of the master. The master works to transform the life of the student by removing ego and ignorance.
There is a beautiful story about Sage Vyasa and his disciple Jainini. Jainini was a great scholar and a sincere disciple of Sage Vyasa, but he had some ego regarding his own intellectual knowledge. One day Sage Vyasa was dictating on a scripture and Jainini was taking notes. Sage Vyasa composed a verse making the point, valavad indriya gramam panditan apakarsant: “The senses are so powerful that the man of knowledge also sometimes commits mistakes.”
Upon hearing this, Jainini thought, “It is not possible. If a person is a man of knowledge, how can he be overpowered with the temptation of the senses? Rather, he will overcome them.” With this thought, he modified the verse to say, valavad indriya granam panditanapakarsanti: “Even though the senses are powerful, the man of knowledge is free from mistakes.”
Omniscient Sage Vyasa did not impart anything. He wanted to teach the disciple the truth of life in a different way. That afternoon, Sage Vyasa told Jainini that he must leave for some urgent work to a distant place, and he might be absent for several days. He entrusted Jainini to take care of the sacrificial fire. Then Sage Vyasa left. That evening after prayer Jainini retired to the room of the sacrificial fire to meditate. There was a storm and rain outside and very strong wind. Jainini heard someone knocking at the door. He opened the door and saw a pretty, young woman. He inquired what he could do for her.
She said, “I am on the way to my village, but because of the rain and storm I cannot go. Can you please give me shelter for the night?” Jainini, out of hospitality, allowed her to come inside and spend the night in the cottage. The young woman said that it was not good for a brahmachari (celibate) to be in the same room at night. So, Jainini went out and tried to sleep outside.
Now, the play of delusion started. Jainini sat silently, but his mind was running toward this youthful woman and her beauty. He thought to himself, “It would be good to spend the lonely night conversing with her.” So he knocked on the door and told her that it was cold outside, and it would be nice to be inside.
She protested, but Jaimini insistently entered anyway. He tried to talk with her and was constantly looking at her, which she did not like. Slowly his senses were growing powerful and clouding his conscience. He went close to her and touched her and told her that he wanted them to be together for a while.
She said, “You are a brahmachari, you should not think like this. It is not good.” Being blinded with passion, he touched her feet and asked for her approval. She at last agreed with the condition that he should bend down and walk like a horse, and she would sit on his back, and he should make seven rounds near the sacrificial fire. Then he could have her. Jaimini agreed.
While Jaimini was trying to walk like an animal with the woman sitting on his back, she started murmuring the verse that Sage Vyasa dictated in the morning that Jaimini had modified, “Even though the senses are powerful, a man of knowledge does not commit mistake.” When Jaimini heard this, he realized his own weakness. He stood up to leave her, but her two big arms clasped him and held him. They were not the tempting arms of the maiden, but the arms of his loving guru, Sage Vyasa.
Thus Sage Vyasa taught his disciple the truth of life and how to be always careful and watchful in every step of life. The guru transforms the life of the disciple to make it more spiritual and precious.
Let the blessings of God, Sage Vyasa, and all divine masters shower the life of each spiritual seeker and empower them to reach the goal of life. With abundance of peace, bliss, and joy on the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima, the Master’s Day, let us all offer the flower of devotion and love at the Divine feet of the Master and seek their divine guidance in every step of our lives.
Source:Prajnana Mission| Kriya Yoga Institute
Once, Indra-The king of gods, was riding on his white elephant Airavata when he came across Durvasa-Muni, a sage who presented him with a blessed garland, called “the garland of fortune.” Lord Indra accepted the gift and placed the garland on Airavata's trunk, the smell of which irritated the animal. The smell compelled Airavata to drop the garland of flowers to the ground. Durvasa-Muni was insulted and in turn outraged by the act, and hence decided to curse the entire Devaloka to be bereft of all strength,energy and fortune.
Following the incident, several battles were fought between the Devas and the Asuras led by Bali. Since the Devas had turned powerless, they could do nothing but lose every battle. Lord Vishnu then came up with an idea: he asked all the Devas to treat asuras with diplomacy and form an alliance with them to attain the elixir of immortality while lying about sharing equal halves of it.
The Devas worked as per plan and eventually began churning the Ocean (Samudra Manthan) using Mount Mandara as a churning rod and Vasuki -The serpent king as a churning rope. Several herbs were cast into the ocean for this purpose, which helped produce many great objects and beings including:
1. ‘Chandra’ ( Moon)
2. ‘Parijat’ , a tree in the Paradise of Lord Indra
3. ‘Airavata’ , a multi-tusked elephant for again Lord indra
4. ‘Kamadhenu’ , a cow which provides desired objects
5. ‘Uchchaihsravas’ the white horse for Lord Indra
6. ‘Sankha’ the conch of Lord Vishnu used for victory
8. ‘Laxmi’ , goddess of wealth
9. ‘Rambha’ , the apsara (celestial beauty) for heaven
10. ‘Ratnas’, ( gems and jewels )
11. ‘Kalpavriksha , a tree fulfilling one’s wishes
12. ‘Dhanwantari’, the physician for all Gods.
13. ‘Mada , a goddess
14. ‘Amrit’ (the nectar drinking which one becomes immortal) in a golden chalice ( Kumbha).
Not only did the churning produce all things beautiful, but it also produced a pot of the most toxic poison known to mankind; the 'Haalaa-hala' poison. This poison was said to be powerful enough to wipe-out the entire existence and creation. All the Asuras and all the gods were terrified by this newly created poison, and this fear led them to rush to Lord Shiva; as they were aware that only Lord Shiva was powerful enough to consume the poison without getting affected even slightly.
Upon the request of the gods, lord Shiva consumed the entire pot of Haalaa-hala. Just as he was about to consume the poison, Lord Shiva's wife, Parvati, choked Lord Shiva and held his throat to prevent the poison from entering his belly. The poison was rightfully so powerful that it turned the Lord's throat blue, and for this very reason Lord Shiva is also known as the Neel-kanth.
The Devas were advised to keep lord Shiva awake throughout the night and make sure the poison doesn't affect his health. In order to keep him awake, the Devas danced and sang songs of appreciation around him. Lord Shiva was obliged by this act and blessed them all at day-break and hence, even today, this night is celebrated every year as Shivaratri.
At the end of the Samudra-Manthan, Dhanvantari the divine physician, appeared with a Kumbh of immortal nectar in his hands. The demigods, being fearful of the demons' ill intent, forcibly seized the pot with and entrusted its safety onto four Gods - Brahaspati, Surya, Shani, and Chandra.
Asuras, after learning that their part of the agreement has not been kept, battled the gods for 12 days and 12 nights and during which, a few drops of the elixir fell at four different places, namely; Nasik, Ujjain, Haridwar and Allahabad. These four places are since believed to have acquired mystical powers. Because 12 days of Gods are equivalent to 12 years for humans; the Kumbh Mela is celebrated once every 12 years in each of the four places - banks of river Godavari in Nasik, river Kshipra in Ujjain, river Ganges in Haridwar, and at the Sangam of Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati in Allahabad, where the drops are believed to have fallen. Millions of devout, come together to partake in ritualistic bathing and ceremonies to cleanse themselves of all sins.
...and as per the story of Samudra-Manthan goes, the Devas lost the pot of elixir to Asuras, since all their powers had fallen victim to Durvasa's curse. Assessing the situation, Lord Vishnu with his brilliant mind, shape-shifted into a beautiful woman 'Mohini' to allure and distract the Asuras. And as planned, Lord Vishnu gained possession of the pot of the elixir and handed it back to the Devas.
Yama, The ultimate companion.
the ‘twin’ as it would interpret to from the original Sanskrit name,
Born of the Sun-god and wife Usha.
Yamaraj is said to be the immediate sub-ordinate to the trinity Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva
for they are considered to be the creators of the multiverse according to the Brahman aspect.
Death is one of the first few truths we are all made aware of,somehow we all fear demise.
some choose to believe it’s a friend that we’ve never met
but are all sure to, each to his own day.
ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिंम् पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ।।
oṁ tryambakaṁ yajāmahe sugandhiṁ puṣṭi-vardhanam ǀ
urvārukam-iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt ǁ
Mahamrityunjaya mantra translates to 'The great death conquering mantra',it originally belongs to the 'Rig Veda' which is the oldest religious text still in use.
The Mahamrutyunjaya Mantra is a prayer to Lord Shiva, the three eyed one/'trymbaka'.
the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra can be put into simpler words as,
Om,We worship and adore the three eyed one,
who is fragrant and nurtures all of life,
may he rid us of all worldly bondage
like a cucumber is severed from the creeper by its gardener
and free us from the fear of death,
for the sake of immortality.
Rishi Markandeya was the first discoverer of the Mahamrityunjaya mantra,
he was the only one in the world that was aware of the mantra and the power it possesses.
The tale of 'Kalantaka' (slayer of death)
is a tale depicting the power of the Mahamrityunjaya mantra.
Rishi Markandeya's parents Rishi Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati,
were both devotees of Lord Shiva and Prayed to him for the blessing of begetting a son,
The Lord granted their wish but with two choices,
they could either bear a gifted son with a life span of only 16 years,
or one with low-intelligence but a longer life.
Rishi Mrikandu gladly chose the former and was blessed with a son
but one who'd die at the age of 16.
The son, Rishi Markandeya grew up to be a great devotee of Lord Shiva
he did not stop his worship of the 'Shivalingam' even on the day on which he was destined to die, Even 'Yama' the god of death himself was unable to take Markandeya's life due to his devotion and continual worship of Lord Shiva, Yama himself came upon earth to take away Rishi Markandeya's life and he swung his noose aimed at Markandeya in the act to kill him, but it by accident or fate landed around the 'Shivalingam', out of which Lord Shiva appeared in full fury and attacked Yama for his act, Lord Shiva beat Yama to his demise.
Although later he revived him under the condition that Rishi Markandeya would live on forever,hence blessing him with Immortality.
Markandeya later gave the mantra to Sati,
who was the Wife of Shiva and one of the eighty-nine daughters of Daksha,
the eleventh son of lord brahma.
in order to release 'Chandra' (the moon) from Daksha's curse,
as he was furious about Chandra favouring only one of his daughters 'Rohini'
and neglecting the others.
by the recitation of the mantra the effect of the curse of Daksha which would slowly kill the moon, was slowed down.
Shiva then took 'Chandra' and placed it upon his head thus Lord Shiva is also called 'Somnath'-protector of the moon god.
Mahamritunjaya is considered to be amonst the most powerful mantras,
and is chanted at spiritual ceremonies, for better mental, emotional and physical health.
the Mahamritunjaya mantra is also chanted to attain moksha / salvation and and is a prayer to Lord Shiva to strike-off untimely death , The mantra re-links consciousness to its deeper and limitless nature to heal, protect and rejuvenate .
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!
How the god's defeated the demons in a battle for the elixir of immortality.
Once, Indra-The king of gods, was riding on his white elephant Airavata when he came across Durvasa-Muni a sage who presented him with a blessed garland, the garland of fortune as he would call it, Lord Indra accepted the gift and placed it on Airavata's trunk, Airavata was irritated by the smell of it and dropped the garland to the ground, Durvasa-Muni was outraged by the act and in the heat of his anger cursed the entire Devaloka to be bereft of all strength,energy and fortune.
Following the incidence, several battles were fought between the Devas and the Asuras led by Bali, since the devas had turned powerless, they could do nothing but lose every fight, Lord Vishnu then came up with an idea, he asked all devas to treat the asuras with diplomacy and form an alliance with them in order to attain the elixir of immortality and lie to them about sharing equal halves of it.
The Devas worked as planned and then started the Churning of the Ocean (Samudra Manthan)using Mount Mandara as a Churning rod and Vasuki -The serpent king as the churning rope,
Several herbs were cast into the ocean and the proccess produced many great objects and beings which included,
Kalpavriksha - the enchanted wish-fullfilling tree
Kaustubha - the most precious Diamond in the world
Uchhaishravas - the divine white horse
Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and fortune
Airavata - the white elephant
Sura - the goddess of wine
Not only did the churning produce all things nice,
it also produced a pot of the most toxic poison in the world , the 'Haalaa-hala' poison powerful enough to wipe-out entire creation, all Asuras and the gods were terrified by the pot and in a fix they rushed to Lord Shiva, considering him being the only one powerful enough to consume the poison without being affected.
Upon the request of the gods, lord Shiva drank the entire pot of 'Haalaa-hala', just as he was about to gulp it down his throat Lord Shiva's wife Parvati Choke-held his throat in-order to stop the poison from entering Shiva's belly, the poison was so powerful that it turned the Lord's throat blue,for this reason Lord Shiva is also known as Neel-kanth.
The devas were advised to keep lord Shiva awake throughout the night to make sure the poison doesn't affect his health, in order to keep him awake they danced and Sang songs of appreciation, Lord Shiva was oblidged by this act and blessed them all at day-break, Even today this night is celebrated every year as Shiva-ratri.
At the end of Samudra-Manthan, Dhanvantari - The divine physician appeared with a pot of the elixir of immortality in his hands, the Devas and asuras both chased Dhanvantari to get the possession of the elixir, but the devas lost to Asuras as all their powers had fallen victim to Durvasa's curse but Lord Vishnu with his brilliant mind, Shape-shifted into a beautiful woman 'Mohini' to allure and distract the Asuras and gained possession of the pot of the elixir and handed it back to the Devas!
Zentori, a poem describing the Zen in the heart
I see the pond
I see the images in the pond,
is the image the pond ?
is the pond the image?
then what are these two?
independent or one?
who is the seer?
If the seer did not exist would the pond exist?
would the image in the pond exist?
so only if the seer exists , does the pond and the image exist
does the pond feel the same joy the seer feels when the seer sees the pond?
or the image in the pond ?
yet the seer feels joy
............ Is the seer and the pond one?
if not why would i feel joy for an image in something else
Is the image in the pond ,and the pond .......................an image in the seer?
So is the seer , the pond and the image in the pond........one?
There are ripples in the pond
So the image in the pond , the pond , the ripples in the pond and the seer are one?
do all feel joy together?
or is it just the seer who feels joy?
Or is the joy .........the image in the pond, and seer just observes the joy?
Is the seer all the ripples on the pond, Or does he just identify with one ripple?
All the ripples always die, replaced by new ripples,
so why do most seers identify with one ripple?
The seer is the pond and the ripples in the pond , and the images in the pond?
Which then is the space in which this seer exists ?
Is there another seer , who sees the seer ?
the question arises
who is the seer , or what is the seer ?
or ........................where is the seer?
If i write this note , writing about the seer in abstract
can I be the seer of the seer ?
all lines are blurred between the pond the image in the pond , the seer and the I observing the seer
I dont even know where is the emotion.
In me?, or the seer who observes the pond ?, or in the pond where the seer observes the joy in the pond?
Thoughts are futile .
............ just be
just be the joy that spontaneously erupts
understand there are no lines , everything is one
you are the image, the pond the joy the seer and the observer of the seer
everything is one
be in the moment with no thoughts
The Possible meanings of the Title Zentory
肚裏 "tori" means "in the heart" So Zentory, means Zen in the Heart
A torii (鳥居?, lit. bird abode, /ˈtɔəri.iː/) is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred………………………….which would mean a zen transition from the profane to the sacred.
A Brief Description of the Cosmic Laws of Necessity
“Rtam, Satyam, Vijnani” – True knowledge is knowing the Truth that is Rta.
As you sow so shall you reap - cause of rebirth of human beings. - Vedic Rta
The ideal of all religions, all sects is one and the same – The attaining of liberty and cessation of misery. Whenever you find religion, you find this ideal working in one form or another. Of course in lower stages of religion it is not so well expressed; but still, well or ill-expressed, it is the one goal to which every religion approaches. All of us want to get rid of misery; we are struggling to attain liberty - physical, mental, spiritual. This is the whole idea upon which the world is working.
Rtam, Satyam, Dharmmam”- Cosmic Laws (Rta) are eternal truths (Satyam) and following these Laws of Nature is Vedic Dharma
Paths can be many but all Paths should lead to welfare of Mankind. Thus Vedas are the only scriptures that have laid down the cosmic laws for the welfare of entire Mankind. In the Vedas, Dharma is Rta. These are priori principles known to individuals as “real self”. Having created these laws (Rta), Vedas say god follows them sternly. These laws are eternal and any cosmic laws, which changes with time, is not a Vedic Rta. These laws cover comprehensively human conduct, avoidance of all material excesses, enlightened liberalism, selfless action, path of virtue etc. Not following these laws is adharma.
In about 17,000 mantars/riks/hymns four Vedas contain, a very large number of subjects are relating to material (pertaining to perishable), spiritual (relating to withdraw able) and divine (relating to eternal) subjects. These laws are commandments of God for social and moral order, apart from good conduct and harmonious living of human beings. Atharva Veda 4-1-3 tells us that from the bosom of the sacred cosmic word OM, He brought forth the world- on high, below where He abides in His own Laws. Cosmic Laws of Necessity (Rta) contained in the Book of Nature which even blind persons and all animate life on earth, water, firmament can read, is a major subject of Vedas. For the cosmic laws the terms used in the Vedas are Rta, Ritane and Vratani. Yajur Veda 6-4 ordains “O, man study God's works of creation, preservation and dissolution whereby He determines His laws”. These are eternal laws and have passed through barbarism, ruthless tyranny, autocracy, oligarchy, age of reason, science and technology, pure idealism to extreme of materialism, but still remain the same and guide the mankind throughout the world. Thus more appropriately we can describe these laws as the Will of God and it is the sum total of all causes, all divine laws scattered over time and space through the functioning of the Nature.
According to Yajur Veda 26-1, we get true knowledge of these cosmic laws from seven forces of the Nature viz.; the Sun, Moon, firmament, waters, clouds, fire and the earth, which are all beneficial to the mankind and make our paths pleasant and comfortable. Taittrya Upanishad 1-2 says, if religion is dharma (righteousness), it is then Rta. To bring unity in diversity there are concepts like Three bodies in one (tri-ani-pada), Seven means of getting knowledge, 108 beads in Vyjanti mala based on distance between Earth, Moon and Sun in the ratio of 108 (since proved in laboratory) as mentioned in the book Glimpses of Vedic Metaphysics. The concept of "Seven" has some sanctity in the Vedas as these Shrutis prescribe "Seven" types of knowledge based on functioning of divine Nature and gross Universe. Vedic seers and sages seemed to have found the concept of seven in many spiritual and divine activities. According to Rig-Veda 1-58-7, the Soul (Atman) has seven means to get outside knowledge of the phenomenal world i.e. five senses, mind and intellect. There are seven rays of the Sun consisting of seven colors (R.V.1-62-4), which the modern Physicists describe through the word VIBGYOR- violent, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. There are seven meters (Chhanda) for each Vedic hymn or rik like Gayatri, Ushnavi, Anusthup etc. There are seven Worlds in the Brahamand- both visible and non visible cosmos (R.V.1-146-1). Seven heavens and seven communities in harmony in the visible and non-visible cosmos. There are seven subtle Pranas (vital breaths) which provide heat energy to all animate life. Vedic seers and sages name these as prana, apana, udana, sytra, atma, koorma and samana. These vital breaths consist of subtle particles (R.V.1-71-7). In the Vedas there is also mention of three more Pranas consisting of gross atoms. Again there is a mention of seven notes of music when in harmony create sweet and melodious sound, seven colors of flame of holy fire (R.V 1-58-7).
From this concept of Seven, Vedas tell us that out of various diversities in the Nature (divine Prakrti) human beings can achieve harmony, cooperation and unity. In fact unity of soul, spirit, body and matter is also an important subject of the Vedas. In all animate and inanimate life spirit and matter go together as due to spirit in shuniya (void) even inanimate things have unsuspected vitality. This concept of "Seven" in the Nature and universe was applied by the then metaphysicists ( Rishis of yore) in the Vedic education system and symbolically assigned this attribute of Prakrti to Saraswati devi (Being of light with no form). She is the over all in- charge of seven streams of knowledge and presides over education. She is also one of the 33 formless devas and devis of Prakrti and also presides over Music with seven notes in harmony. Thus Vedic para jnan - higher harmonized knowledge of divinity, spirit and matter is based on Vedic Rta (cosmic Laws of necessity) relating to Seven. Only when seven streams of knowledge are known, one can understand the Supreme Reality in all its forms and aspects. They named this supreme reality as Brahman and the student who acquires His knowledge was described as Brhamanchari. To acquire complete knowledge of seven streams of Vidya, the education system stretches till the age of 48 years of the student, when the degree of Aditya is awarded. Aditya in the Vedas is akin to deva -the nearest English translation is god.
These seven streams of knowledge cover complete jnan, vijnan and ajnan. Jnan is divine knowledge, Vijnan is scientific spiritual knowledge and Ajnan is only material knowledge of inert matter. Material knowledge bereft of Jnan and Vijnan is avidya or ignorance but when in harmony with these it is Vidya (perfect knowledge). These seven streams of knowledge cover ten sciences, military science, social sciences and 16 kinds of arts, philosophy and metaphysics. Based on the functioning of Nature, concepts of seven and Rta, Vedic education aims at creating unity in diversity while harmonizing spirit and matter, body and soul, a-priori and a-posteriori knowledge.
With a view to emphasize the divinity in the concept of seven, Vedic seers and sages provided Mother hymn Gayatri mantra, seven times in Vedas. In this mother hymn there is a prayer to God that during our three stages of being awake, asleep and even in our dreams, also referred as gross, subtle and causal states, we should be blessed with complete knowledge of the Supreme Reality. We spread the same in society and shine like Savitar deva-the Sun.
The religious mythology refers to seven streams of water emerging from the hair locks of lord Shiva and then converging into one big stream named as Ganga- the river Ganges . In the Vedas word Ganga also appears but with no mythology. The seven streams of knowledge when merge and constitute Vedic Vidya, para Jnan or higher knowledge that stage is referred as Ganga- the river of perfect knowledge. Rig Veda 1-174-2 says," after acquiring the knowledge of seven streams, even seven fortifications of the wicked persons following non-divine activities and professions, get destroyed and enemies become friends." Thus Adityas who are akin to devas and gods, when they spread knowledge as preceptors (gurus), even wicked persons start becoming virtuous and friendly.
Athrava Veda mentions there were many religions at that time in harmony with each other. If God wanted He could have made us part of one religion, one community but He desired differently. God desired that all religions should compete with each other based on Rta eternal Laws of Nature for the welfare of mankind and other animate/inanimate life/things. This holy injunction is clearly meant to create unity in diversity by providing divine sanctity to the noble concept.
The great importance given to Rta in the Vedas can be appreciated from the description of these laws in Rig Veda 1-75- 5 where it says, " ritam. satyam vijnani ", which would literally mean "absolute truth which is Rta, is the only true knowledge." Rig Veda 1-24-15 clearly says that by following these laws, you remain away from misery and get bliss. There is also a prayer in Rig Veda 1-25-1," O, merciful God, be kind to us as we violate your laws, knowingly and unknowingly day after day." Obviously this simple prayer is a reminder to the men and women to start knowing, understanding and following these laws for their own interest as well as for the interest of the entire mankind and other animate life. By following these laws one can understand the Purpose of Human Birth which Vedas tell us is “to assist the Viswakarma (Supreme Architect) in the maintenance of His Grand wondrous Design. These holy laws are inviolable, immutable and eternal (R.V.1-12-7 and 1-24-10). If at any stage the concept of righteousness deviates even slightly from the divine laws conveyed to us through the divine Nature Prakrti as Rta, that is no longer Dharma.
Rig-Veda 1- 22-8 decrees that all things in this world, middle region and heaven follow eternal laws ordained by Him. Yajur Veda 24-42 further tells us that all pathways HE guides with Rta which are also moral laws. Aittrya Upanishad 4-1 and Taittrya Upanishad 1-2 reiterate this divine truth.
Each Vedic Rta is complete in itself and no further evolution in these laws is possible. These are for once and ever. If any Rta is different for different periods of history, area or country, it is not Rta. These laws of God and for some as laws of Nature are applicable universally and for all periods to come in the future as well. Tampering and transgressing these laws is misery and death (Y.V. 25-13 and A.V 3-30-4). Those opposed to Rta and Satya produce for themselves deep abyss of sufferings (R.V.1-5-20, 4-5-5, 5-51-2). By ignoring the two Vedic concepts i.e. Rta and Iddm Nan Mmam (Vedic enlightened liberalism) the individuals can precipitate cosmic and social disorder.
The moral law of moderation or golden mean also is derived from the flow of river i.e. containing one self within limits by avoidance of all kinds of excesses- both affluence and deficiency by following middle path within certain tolerance limits. The river is useful so long as it remains within two banks and also continues to flow. Moha i.e. attachment/infatuation to children is cause of trouble. The children have their own souls, karma and thoughts. Vedas refer to children as God's children. Their parents are only the custodians and trustees of the children on behalf of God. It is parent’s duty to impart them good education, Vedic Vidya which should cover divine, spiritual and material knowledge. Sankracharya describes Vedic education as para and apara jnan- both higher and lower.
A short odyssey of spiritual seeker and his path towards spiritual enlightenment. Acharya Shri Chandra Dev Ji shared his wisdom in the form of lucid compilations known as "Matra Shastra", Matra Shastra consists of the pearls of refined monistic Vedantic wisdom and is considered as a guide for the Udasin saints.
The Yantra provides a focal point that is a window into the absolute. The time has come for people to realize the actual significance of the Yantras and to shed light on this ancient super-science. The core of the Yantra may be composed of one or more shapes like the dot, lines, squares, triangles, circles and lotuses of which each have their own purpose and energy.