HOW TO VET A SPIRITUAL MENTOR

I wrote this piece on request by the Adhyatmikta page on Facebook. The admins have added a segment at the end dealing specifically with Tantra gurus while my post was a bit more general purpose.

This was how they led in….
A set of fantastic guidelines penned by Sri Rohit Arya on how to vet a spiritual individual/Guru. Particularly relevant to our times when things are not always as they may appear to be.

POINTERS TO VETTING A SPIRITUAL PERSON

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A common question asked by those interested is – How do we know if the person set up as a Guru or spiritual expert is genuine? What do we look for? What are the signs of credibility or warning? This is a long and fascinating topic but before one ventures an answer something must be realized. What you would find acceptable and credible is more about you, your svabhava and your limits of acceptance than it is about gurus in general or particular. With this caveat in place we can move on.

Pointers to vet a ‘Spiritual Person”

Don’t delude Yourself.

Because you wish for a guru or a mentor don’t be credulous or gullible. What parameters are you employing to judge this person? Is there learning present? Intellect? Wisdom? Scriptural Knowledge? Manifest Shakti? Personality that seems spiritual? What is the visible track record and demonstrated credibility of this person and HOW DO YOU DEFINE any or all of the above?

What you seek demonstrates who you are and while you MAY find what you seek it may NOT be what you need to grow spiritually.

Always look for the impact of this person on others. What sort of disciples does this person have? All cut from the same cloth? All of similar ages, or diverse? All from same strata of society or diverse? Are they bright brainy people or buffoons you will run screaming from? Is there excessive deference? Cult like behavior? Are the disciples and students impressive in their own right, or does the Teacher suck all the air in the room out? Are they people with meaningful lives or those who do nothing but spirituality? What do people not inside the group say about them? Do these people have any friends or even life outside the circle? Does the Teacher? Again, the value you place on any or all of these questions reveals who you are.

What is the person like?

Is there bombast and incredible claims or a focus on the teaching? Claims of being reincarnations of famous teachers, being under direct guidance of great Masters of the past and directly chosen by aliens from other worlds to be the channel of light that will bring illumination to all souls, these are not good signs. In any case people claiming to be reincarnations of famous masters is a good enough reason to avoid that place. The parampara, processes and sadhana are obviously useless for they are not producing new enlightened people. The old lot are being endlessly recycled. Nothing could be more insulting to genuine traditions. There is a tiny chance it might be true but in general not a good development. If on their personal pages and groups you find comments like “When I was Veda Vyasa 5000 years back” it is a pretty good reason to clear out pronto. When you find comments that “Yes, I was told yesterday by Vishwamitra that you are indeed Veda Vyasa” you run, not walk for the exit. These are real examples by the way. Actual people said these things and meant every word.

Is the person willing to reveal the lineage or all they all beings from other dimensions? Has the person been instructed to teach by the Guru or has there been a schism and independent dukan has been opened? What does the person say about any of this?

What is the experience of meeting them like? If you meet them do you feel creeped out? Do you feel challenged? Does the talk, the satsangh and the meditation leave you peaceful and energized or drained out? Do you feel calm or agitated? Pay attention to creepiness. No real teacher will ask for illegal and immoral behavior as such. Immoral may have wide notions of interpretation but illegal is the law. Access may be restricted but when you do get it what do you feel? Is that something you wish to repeat or no?

Do you wish for supernatural things to transpire when meeting them? Most of these ‘abilities’ are very simple conjuring tricks. Some of them are the real deal, but they have nothing to do with spirituality per se. In the guise of spirituality are you seeking for a better standard of living? Too many testimonials are just about that. Is the person a miracle monger or a person who has sensible perspectives? Do they promise miracles or do they prepare you realistically for the long hard slog that genuine spirituality requires.? Any set up that guarantees ‘abilities’ or even enlightenment according to a time table, with the option to speed up the schedule according to increase in donations, hmm…

What are the personal behaviors like?

Does the person sit in a plush environment and preach austerity? Between professions and behavior is there a large gap? What are their notions of acceptable behavior for seekers and do the rich and influential get exemptions? How are people in general treated? Is there a deliberate hustle going on? What is the relationship of the teacher and his outfit to money? Lofty proclamations of service go hand in hand with donation demands? What is the treatment of genders? Access and answers, do they adhere to a system or is it all dependent upon whim and size of donation or potential usefulness? Is there a reputation for nastiness, berating students or exploiting them? Are people free to speak up or is everybody cowed and repressed? If there are many rumors of greed and sexual shenanigans they could be spiteful attacks. They could also be true. Pay attention.

What is the group mindset like?

Is there a lot of balderdash masquerading as spirituality? Are you assured you are the reincarnation of somebody famous? Is famous past lives a vital part of everybody’s self image in the place? I think I have met every famous person who ever lived on the planet in six thousand years of history in this short lifetime of over fifty years. There are so many Cleopatras, nobody who was a slave cleaning the floors. In general any group that prioritizes New Cage notions is not going to help in genuine transformations. Foo foo foo notions instead of actual practices that demand time and commitment are dangerous. Is there support and access for all the inevitable issues that will come up or are you at the tender mercies of people so recently hatched the egg yolk has still not dried? Or even worse celebrity “teachers”. When you sign on for the course do they hustle you with classic cult behaviors designed for inclusion, flatter you that you are now a special person with access to unique knowledge and also isolate you from the world? Are authentic practices being taught which have grounding in dharmic traditions or is it all wind usually pulled out of the rear end? What is the level of commitment expected and are standards rigorous?
So much for the approached.

Now a brief word for the approachee. CAVEAT EMPTOR. BUYER BEWARE.

While that is a perfectly valid position to take – don’t be a jerk. You are seeking and the other party is under no obligation to fulfill the terms of the imaginary contract you make with them in your head. You may have many expectations, but it is not the job of the Teacher of guru or the organization to fulfill any of them. All of them have their own unique ways of dealing with things. If you do not like it or disagree, move on.

If you have certain mental image of how a spiritual teacher should be and the person violates that, the flaw may be in your expectations. It is a great mistake to assume only the phate haal kangal types are the genuine spiritual people and all the others are less than… If you insist on diet and brahmachanrya filters too well that is your right. Insisting on a certain age, gender, learning, attractive appearance all of these are completely beside the point of spiritual transformation. The most unexpected might be the most useful. It is also better to have full access to an unknown guru than an occasional glimpse from afar of a person with millions of followers. Access cannot be overestimated, but it has to be earned and deserved, not demanded straight off the bat.

A person who is unexpected, who shakes up your mental rigidity, who holds you even as you feel your mental constructions of self dissolve, that person can certainly help you, even if he or she is not the guru proper. It is not so well known that from the point of view of rnanubandhana it might well be that you will meet a famous and powerful teacher but he has nothing to give you while a much lesser person can give you everything of his attainment. Don’t be a fool about this. Don’t have ego issues that I am smarter or more educated. Perhaps. But the other person may have something valuable you don’t.

To expect endless access, endless answers and all for free while you make up your mind may seem very reasonable to you but the other side may just see their time being wasted. Value is a two-way street. If perceived that you are there merely to take, many of them will correctly shut you out. Just as you will assess and evaluate, you will be judged too. If found wanting, it may not always be because the other side did not appreciate the glorious blessings you bring to all existence by merely existing.

Stay grounded, stay alert and best of all is to trust in the Divine. When it is time you will be guided to the Teacher you require.

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A few additional points from the Page admins:-

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1. To add to this, when it comes to Tantrica Gurus the bar is both strict yet simple. The primary idea of Tantra is a bifurcation into the major path and the minor path, one that leads to a communion and permanently transformative vision of the Ishta Devata, or an attainment of specific abilities. Unlike other paths Tantra does not rescind or tell you that siddhis are not be attained, if a seeker is so tuned, or a guru thinks fit, s/he may certainly do sadhana to acquire them. Their use of course is a matter of wisdom and guidance. In any case the point is that Siddhis are perfectly legitimate in this path. So, when a seeker approaches a Tantric master one must be clear on what exactly one is looking for. If the highest is the goal, attainment of communion and the resultant transformation, then find out how many people have been able to attain the same under the direction of the said Guru, test them, test them well and thoroughly. Otherwise if there are claims of supernatural ability then ask for a demonstration. A genuine Guru will of course never display a siddhi merely to make a demostration of it, however if s/he does possess siddhi-s it will be put to use someday or the other, when circumstance so demands. Be patient and wait and observe. Without an external manifestation all claims of supernatural abilities are just that, claims, with no basis. If someone claims to have communion with a deity, then too observe and watch. For each deity has his or her unique nature and abilities and those will be reflected in the individual. This is a natural stage of sadhana, rare stage no doubt but a sadguru is also a rare term not to be trifled with in casual manner. Unless the bar is set clearly in the mind, and judged accordingly, one is most likely to get disillusioned in time.

2. Ramakrishna Paramhamsa used to say that always observe a spiritual man when he is alone, and when he is in public. Is there a difference in behaviour? Is there a tendency to hide things – that’s a trigger for the necessity to hide or create projections is a certain sign that there is some agenda in the mind. An agenda of course is a normal human thing, but impossible when a mind is truly enlightened. The Self has no agenda, neither does a man who has really attained to a transformative and ulimate communion with a Devata – specially one of the major devata-s.

3. On being asked where and how does one judge true enlightenment, Sri Ramana Maharishi used to say you can only figure out an enlightened man if you are yourself in that state, otherwise you will only speculate. Good advice to remember at all times. In other words, if one follows common sense and applies the fundamental ideas of spirituality, one maybe easily able to tell who has NOT reached the ultimate stage. But it is impossible to say with certainty who has actually reached the ultimate stage, unless one has reached the Self himself/herself. Then it’s a different matter anyway.

4. Always judge an individual, spiritual or otherwise, by their actions and the gaps between their words and actions. Actions are what makes a man, words – well even politicians are good at.

5. Ramakrishna once sagaciously adviced one of his core disciples who was cheated at the local market,” I asked you to be a devotee, not a fool.” Prescient advice and valid for all times.

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is  the Founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha and a Lineage Master in a Kundalini path of Yoga. 

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THIS BUSINESS OF BEING A MODI ‘BHAKT’

I have been avoiding this issue as there is no sane way to speak about it which does not offend somebody. And being offended is a national pastime now. But it needs saying from a spiritual figure. Since none of the established gurus are doing it I am stepping up. So here goes. May Nataraja preserve me.

If you are a devout Hindu please do NOT say you are a bhakt of the Prime Minister. The word Bhakta is one of the greatest contributions of India’s spiritual culture. It represents an exalted consciousness and a path to mukti – liberation. It does NOT cover being an enthusiastic partisan of a politician. By using it in such a manner you have degraded and denigrated a great spiritual term.

You are NOT a bhakta. You are a partisan or a fan – which is the diminutive of fanatic. You are a chauvinist, after Nicholas Chauvin who adored Napoleon and refused to accept that Waterloo had taken place because – “The Emperor can never be defeated.” The word chauvinist has been ruined because the feminists overused it, but that crowd are all descendants of Bhasmasura so that is not surprising. Whatever they touch they befoul, but in the name of the Sanathana Dharma, why are you lending yourself to such besmirchment of bhakti? Without the spiritual effort needed, the requisite tapasya, you want the title for free?

One of the signature moves of the Breaking India forces is to demean and insult Hindu spiritual concepts as being nonsensiccal and trivial. In using the word bhakt in such a context you have handed them a crushing victory. You have fallen into a ditch they dug for you and the happiest people to see the use of this term will be the likes of Sagarika and her unspeakable husband, or the conversion agenda funded NGOS harridans like Trupti Deai and Teesta Setalvad. Evey sickularist and presstitute must be laughing their heads off every time they see this horrible usage in the mouths of their fiercest enemies.

Now this is not the same thing as picking up a insulting tag and wearing it as a badge of honor. When Hilary called Trump’s people Deplorable they reversed it in one day and made it a rallying cry. They took what was negative and made it a positive source of energy. When the word Bhakt is used in this careless unthinking manner you are taking a transcendental spiritual concept, a state of being that can liberate you, and dragging it through the mud and slime of party politics. That is unacceptable.

When this crowd began to chant “Har Har Modi” in the run up to 2014 it was to his eternal credit that he shut it down instantly. Quite apart from the trivialization of another spiritual chant there is a dangerous power in the phrase that would have devoured him. The chant is raised only in dire circumstances of war and actually it is ‘Hara Hara Mahadeva’ but it releases a certain sort of dangerous Power that is best left dormant unless the situation is critical. Fortunately he angrily instructed that such foolish demonstrations should cease and they did.

It is okay to be an admirer of somebody you think is a great man. When I saw him stand up to Vajpayee in 2002 who was mouthing liberal nonsense of ‘raj dharma’ I loved Modi instantly. I told everybody that this man was the future Prime Minister of India. This at a time when people doubted if he would get one year in the CM seat. Modi was the only success the Hindus had in the days of grahan that was the UPA calamity. So I get it, perhaps much more than most of you who clambered abroad the bandwagon only after his third term began. But your personal admiration does not trump the sanctity of sacred words or sacred concepts. So please stop this. Please cease describing yourselves as Modi bhakts. As Hindus you know better. You can and must do better.

Sarvam Shivamaym!

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is the founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha. He is a yogi of the Kundalini Patanjali streams  of Parampara and a Bhakta of Nataraja.

 

How service becomes virtue signalling

Have you noticed that when people start by speaking of their desire to do seva{service} it somehow, over time, becomes about their tyag and balidan {sacrifice}? There is a grim inevitability to this progression, almost like it is a natural part of aging or something. There is really only one answer to this virtue signalling. It is a rude answer but it is also true. “Nobody put a gun to your head and forced you. You choose to do this because it felt good. What do you want now, a medal?”
This is why I prefer the greedy and selfish. I don’t like them but I prefer them. They are transparent about their self interest, and there is no bear trap in waiting where suddenly you are expected to repay and reward virtuous actions of the past.
As a Guru I get a lot of this. People feel obliged to signal their disinterested virtue and desire to improve society. The moment I see the ‘Improvement’ strand in somebody I back away. That is how things are done in religious circles. Most organizations are held up by what is essentially slave labor, long hard hours of unpaid and unrecognized work but since it has cultural sanction, it is not seriously challenged. I consciously chose not to go that route knowing it would limit growth but I could not cast myself as a slave driver. Now I am virtue signalling! But I have never blathered about seva so I can risk it.
I freely confess I was shattered and disheartened when Narendra Modi of all people, got onto the moral high horse of sacrifices made. It completely demoralized me. Then I became angry. How dare he pull this stunt on us? If this is so important to you then take a leaf out of Nehru’s book and give yourself an award. But dont make such undignified exhibitions in public. This is the Congress playbook and we, quite reasonably, expected different from him. My personal take is that working between 14 to 18 hours a day or whatever the myth making number so beloved of fans, has left him with very little time to do serious sadhana. He probably got into the ‘this is karma yoga’ mindset. This man who was the most hard nosed and unshakeable personality is now weeping copiously at every opportunity, One RSS person complained to me about this new sentimentality on display and my answer was a} why tell me? and b} check out if the weeping fits occur on days near Pournami, the full moon. Of course they do. Modi had the karmic potential to become a liberated soul but this time round it has settled for being a great ruler. That happens in yoga all the time.
Now the point of this post is not our PM. I still think he is the best man we have – even if I think he has made a catastrophic blunder. So the fanboys and fangirls may please spare me their ululations and ignorant enthusiasms designed to bring me into the light. I do not abide sanctimony from anybody.

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is the founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha – a Kundalini based system of the Integral{Arya} Yoga. He is a Yogi, Author and Polymath.

Ashwini Kumara – the Swift Gods of Light

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The Ashwinis seem to be the most energetically joyful of all the gods known to man. They hurtle through the cosmos in a dizzying effervescence of joy. They are the lords of speed, the swift rivers, the falcons of light, the riders of the fleet horse, agile and brilliant as Rig Veda says.  Speed is their keynote.  They bounce off the walls of heaven with a rush of energy, like young colts.  They are the most dazzlingly handsome personages in the universe, and they know it – ‘swift footed lords of bliss, much enjoying’. Later stories would elaborate on them as sensual gods. In some versions they marry jointly, Savitri the daughter of Surya the Sun God.  She was nominally supposed to marry Soma, lord of the moon and the sacred drink, but the Ashwins were much more handsome and cut a spectacular dash!  Other myths tell that they married the ten rays of the Sun, Surya’s daughters … But they had no time to lech like other gods.  Savitri was the only one who could keep up with their rapidity.

The Ashwini twins are Vedic gods who were once held in high esteem but have been all but forgotten. They were however, the prototype for the notion of Kumara the eternal youth, which is how both Skanda and the Buddha would be represented in future sculpture. AS healers they were emerged into Dhanwantri later.

“It is known to a few, that the Awhwinis were the first physicians, doctors to humanity as well as the gods.  They were one of many Solar deities in the Vedas; many of their attributes were taken over by Vishnu when his cult by a process of osmosis, engulfed all the solar gods in his vast embrace

“The Ashwins were not effete dandies, careering across the cosmos in solar powered Ferraris.  They were that rarest of heroes, intellectuals who could act decisively and swiftly. They were described as ‘effectual in action, the powers of movement, fierce-moving in their paths:  they embodied the Samurai dictum – ‘to think and to act are one and the same‘.  They are the power of movement itself, so speedy and firm were they perceived to be. They used their great knowledge to help the gods – which was appreciated – and also to alleviate the sufferings of Humanity – which was not. Like Prometheus they had to face an angry Indra, leader of the gods, who punished them by depriving them of the right to drink the sacred Soma, which conferred strength and immortality on the gods. Soma was only too pleased; they had cost him a wife. However, the angry gods could not punish the Ashwins – they moved too fast to be caught, and they were no pushovers. Nobody knew the extent of their strength, nor wished to risk finding out.

“The Ashwins did not care too much about being excluded from the sacred drink.  They were caught up in their experiments and always on the move, as an active life principle. They made an iron leg for the warrior named Vispala who lost his in battle.  They were physicians and worked tirelessly at their craft.  The jealous humans said they had forfeited divine honours by associating too much with humans!  In later medieval times, the physician’s job was regarded as greatly polluting as it interfered with the evil Karma which produced the disease – a cruel doctrine. It is greatly to the Ashwins’ credit that they chose compassion over the approbation of their fellows, and continued to do what they had always done. They healed countless numbers of the lame, and restored sight to many who were blind – an apt action for the Lords of the Light.  The similarities with events in Palestine many thousands of years later are also obvious.  One of the Ashwins’ most coveted boons was to restore youth and vigour to the aged and decrepit. That might explain why they did not need the Soma like the other gods did.

“The Rishi Chyavana was old, feeble and ugly. Constant immersion in meditation had covered his body with vegetation until an anthill arose around him. The beautiful Sukanya thought his still visible eyes were glow-worms and poked them out with a stick, to capture them. Instantly the people of that region were cursed with terrible pain; the only way out of this was to marry her off to the sage she had wronged.  Sukanya accepted the grotesque situation as being fair – the blind sage needed someone to care for him. One day however, at the riverbank (a liminal, threshold site) Sukanya observed the Ashwinis frolicking in the water, and sighed for her lack of such joys.

“The Twins had a rare moment of lust, and propositioned her, confident in their youth and beauty. But she rebuked them severely and abashed them.  Yet they still had their hats in the ring, and offered to cure her husband of blindness and senility, and give him a handsome form like their own.  This was the catch: she must pick out her husband correctly from the identical trio, or agree to go with them.  Sukanya consulted her husband who decided to teach the presumptuous gods that he may be old and blind, but did not become a rishi for nothing.  When they emerged from the water in which the gods dipped the old man, she instantly recognised her husband through his instructions; the gods do not blink, sweat, cast shadows or leave footprints – and the human was easily found out.

“The Twins were sporting about it, and Chyavana, grateful for his rejuvenation, instructed them in an esoteric part of the Vedic sacrifice that even the gods had forgotten.  Armed with this new knowledge, the Ashwinis marched back into the divine company and traded off the right to drink Soma for this new rite in the fire sacrifice.  They came full circle – rejected for their love of humanity and restored by it too.

“Some have mistakenly translated their name to be Horsemen, from Ashwa the horse they ride. The horse as a symbol of prana indicates the Ashwinis’ perfect control over the breath, as well as their dazzling speed. The word Ashwini is derived from a root word which means ‘to fill everything’. One of the twins pervades the universe with Light, the other with Moisture – another indication that they were proto-Vishnu, ‘he that pervades’.

“In another story, they rescued a great sage from a flood that threatened to drown his learned life. The Ashwins sent him a log to clamber up onto and float around until realising who was responsible for this providential intervention.  Then they appeared before him, blessed him and instructed him in spiritual matters.

The Twins were heralds of the dawn, lords of the fleetingly transient state between night and dawn, again an attribute of their great speed. This places them firmly as liminal or threshold deities, guardians of sacred and rare times when higher levels of consciousness may be accessed.  This peculiar aspect of their potency is acknowledged in verses where the Ashwinis are addressed as the children of the sun, of the earth, of the waters, and even as sons of the submarine fire.  All are conjunctions, especially the horizon where one space interacts with another, forming a natural threshold, and are key areas for the Ashwini to act.  They are the great facilitators of transition, but only to the Light.  They simply do not have the time for anything else.

They give that impelling energy for the great work which, having for its nature and substance the light of the Truth, carries man beyond the darkness.

“The Ashwinis represent a glorious phase of Indian culture, and there are very few gods who are so reverberant with light. They are action incarnate, joyful graspers of life and laughter, quick to act and determined in their courses, intelligent and compassionate. The thrill they get out of being alive, is magnificent; it is a great pity that India has lost the ability to be in sympathy with such an exultant use of talent, ability and power. This is life lived to the fullest, to delight in action and glory in the mind … ‘Take joy in the Word, the holders in the intellect, by the luminously energetic thought’ …

“It was a sad time when India forsook the speedy gods of Light for more sedate worship.

“In the Vedic constellations, the Ashwins are in Aries, the sign of the New.

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is a Yogi , Author and Polymath, being a Spiritual Mentor, a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha in 2013 and leads multiple meditation circles each week.

He can be contacted on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/aryayogi/

The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

His blogs can be accessed here

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

Where Karma dies in the seed – Perur Pateeshwara Shiva temple

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A kshetram so powerful in dissolving karma that the sacred tamarind tree has seeds that do not sprout. The Perur Shiva temple near Coimbatore city in Tamil Nadu has sculptural marvels and is an unknown treasure for yogis. The Shivalingam is svambhu and of a quality and vibrational energy that is distinct and somewhat strange until you realize what it is doing… stilling the constant movement of karmic potential.  This temple is called Melai Chidambaram or Chidambaram of the West and while it may not match the peerless kshetram of Chidambaram it is of immense value in itself.

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Elaborate carving everywhere though the current structure seems to be of late Nayak period… 17 century or so

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Part of the Sthala Purana, Kamadhenu the divine cow worshiped a Shiva lingam inside an anthill hoping to become the next Brahma. Why she wanted such a thankless job is never revealed in the story. Her calf, annoyed at being neglected kicked over the anthill. Kamadhenu was appalled at this act but Shiva being Shiva was deeply amused and granted her a slew of wishes plus bonus blessings for mere mortals who visit the site. Our temples are always generous in the matters.

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It is the Kanaga Sabhai, the hall of Nataraja that is the stunning aspect of this temple. I had thought that the Elephanta caves Shivas were the pinnacle of Shaivaite art but something was left in the toolbox yet and this miracle of sculpture emerged. 8 larger than life murtis, part of the stone itself… just astonishing… or they would be were they not locked up behind ugly cages now.

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This comfort with the unaesthetic and ugly is a strange aspect of modern Hindusim…

the Kanaga Sabhai was built in 34 years, from 1625 to 1649 by the architect Kambanarchari… under the patronage of the Nayak kings. it is a deeply symbolic structure… suffused with Shaivaite theology…

The Kanaga Sabhai has 36 Pillars representing the 36 tenets of Saiva Sidhanta. There are fifteen steps situated at three different levels. Each set of five steps represents the Panchakshara –  the five letters of the sacred Mantra of Shiva, “Om Na Ma Shivaya” The garbha griha of Nataraja has four pillars representing the four Vedas…Nine windows stand for the nine grahas or celestial objects of Hindu thought and also the nine dvaras or openings of the human body. As explained before the temple is deemed to be capable of granting liberation from karmic influence. It is interesting to note that the Dhayana lingam created by Jaggi Vasudev at the Isha foundation which is about 20 kms from Perur is also supposed to plant a seed of liberation within you, which dries up all other karmic seeds. Must be something about Coimbatore that helps to drop karma….

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Nrithya Ganapati, the dancing form

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Urdhava Tandava murti, an esoteric aspect of Nataraja and his 108 karanas

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One of the most brilliant interpretations of Bhadrakali ever seen

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Skanda of the six faces, his sixth face is inside the pillar

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Veerabhadra in his wrath at the Daksha Yagya

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Old illustration showing Veerabhadra and also a rare form of Agni Veerabahdra, the one one the right

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the pics are sourced from the net as permission to shoot is a huge huge pain

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Bhikshantana moorti… Shiva as the nude yogi…it is also Interestingly called the Sarva Loka vaseekara murti, the enchanter of all the Worlds

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19th or early 20th century photograph, of veerabhadra… it now needs protection in a cage, such is so called progress

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Gajasamhara murti, just extraordinary in its power

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A senseless practice that the ASI of Tami Nadu is addicted to , slathering all murtis in the name of protection and making them dreadfully ugly and even shapeless

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Another old illustration

The Great Gorakshanth is also supposed to have spent significant time at this temple. His spot is a grove and is unmistakable in its fierceness. I have said this many times before, but the yogis and temples of South India are beyond belief, they actually succeeded in making a kshetram of the whole land. Today the consecrated space has fragmented but even spots remain for those who are serious about their yoga…

Sarvam Shivamayam!

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is a Yogi , Author and Polymath, being a Spiritual Mentor, a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha in 2013 and leads multiple meditation circles each week.

The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

His blogs can be accessed here

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

Bheesma Pitamaha is a very odd kettle of fish

sacred-india-tarot-8-of-arrows

The founding story officially designated to be the reason for the catastrophe of Mahabharatha war has always struck me as peculiar. It makes no sense in an epic that is otherwise relentlessly accurate about human behavior. Consider the scenario – the young prince Devavratha finds his aging father has fallen in love with a fisher girl, whose father is withholding consent to the union. The old coot wants his grandson to be the next in line instead of Devavratha, and the crown prince not only renounces his claim, he swears eternal celibacy so that his children will not fight his step mother’s children. This Bheehma Pratigya – Terrible Vow – gives him a new name and a shower of blessings from the gods and his father. There is only one problem with this narrative. It is hugely improbable.

Consider who Bheehma was – son of the goddess Ganga and the foremost badass of his time. He held his invincible guru Parashurama to a draw in battle– and that avatar of Vishnu had wiped out 21 generations of Kshatriyas – so the scale of the achievement is staggering. Yet this man, widely acknowledged to be the most accomplished nobleman in eons, has a peculiar fixation on facilitating his father’s sex life. It is beyond creepy – it is such an incongruous note in all of Sanskrit literature. What guilt was he assuaging, if any? This thunderous haste to foreswear marriage and procreation, it never raised eyebrows? India has a superstitious obsession, to the point of delusion, about the supposed virtues of brahmacharya or voluntary celibacy. So Bheeshma has always been held as an exemplar instead of as a crank. There are natural celibates – Tesla, Newton and Vivekananda to name just three. It is not impossible, just rare. But Devavratha was always in line to marry and be fruitful. A fiery prince like him, when a smarmy fisherman is pushing his luck, is more apt to draw his sword and gut the fool rather than keep conceding point after point in this incredible manner. What exactly is going on?

He kidnaps the princesses Amba, Ambika and Ambalika to marry his half brother. Amba loves another man so he lets her go but that guy refuses to accept her. She gets his Guru Parashurama to order him to marry her and he refuses. He refuses!!! The man who is the pinnacle of the culture breaks its cardinal rule, obedience to the guru. Bheeshma fights his guru rather than obey – he knows his guru is the Avatar and he still refuses to obey! This is just about the most insane episode in Sanskrit literature and nobody sees it for the sheer magnitude of crazy it is. Again what the hell is going on?

Then years later, his half brother Vichitravirya dies without any princes to succeed. His stepmother Satyavati suggests he perform niyoga and beget princes upon his brother’s widows, a sort of Indian version of levirate, and he recoils again as if pushed into a snake pit. He had no problems attending the swayamvara of the princesses and beating all the assembled princes of India to win them for his brother but this gives him the willies. Satyavati turns to her older son, the Rishi Veda Vyasa, and he, a rishi no less, does not launch into lectures about brahmacharya but gets on with it. I think that is just superb. Our rishis were all sexually active men – and women. It is only now that this forcible celibacy is thrust upon them with the usual consequences. When one of the princesses, repulsed by his ugliness, substitutes her maidservant, Vyasa takes this unexpected bonus in stride with splendid insouciance. The child born of that was Vidura, the wisest man of his time. Years later Dhiritharastra also had a dalliance with a servant and that child was Yututsu who was the most decent of all the Kauravas and even fought on the Pandava side and ended up ruling as regent too. {Exactly how superior were the daasis of the time that they ended up having the virtuous and great children is another matter.}

To return to Bheeshma, this peculiar behavior he displays has another possible interpretation. He batted, shall we say, for the other team? Occam’s Razor – when a simple explanation exists that covers the known facts it is futile to keep creating fanciful explanations. Given what we know of the Greeks and the Samurai it is actually more psychologically plausible than all the vows and brahmacharya insistence. I do not insist upon it – it merely needs to be considered. Otherwise, from a cultural, even a spiritual context, his actions are completely weird.

The_Death_of_Bhishma

Everybody acts in the Mahabharata from motives that are completely clear; Bheeshma alone is perplexing. His supposed inflexibility on ethics did not extend to personal destitution in old age for doing the right thing. He admits as such to Yudhishtara on the ninth night of the war – “Eunuch like, I blabber, but Drona, Kripacharya and I have to repay the food we ate in comfort when we were with the Kauravas.” Now that is the real authentic note of the epic, human concerns, human weaknesses, not this queer unrelenting insistence on a strange vow nobody, least of all his father, had asked him to take.

Rohit Arya is a Yogi , Author and Polymath, being a Spiritual Mentor, a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha in 2013 and leads multiple meditation circles each week.

The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

His blogs can be accessed here

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

Ekapada Shiva – an unusual Yogic form

jambukeswaram3

A Shiva with only one foot, replicating a Lingam shape, sometimes with Vishnu and Brahma emerging from him, the Ekapada Shiva is one of the most striking creations of the Yogic aspect of working with forms. It has a Tantric variant also, found in Shakti temples, where he is more Bhairava than Shiva, and which may provide a clue as to the sadhana aspects of such a rupa. For the Yogis used to create devatas in specific rupam for very precise reasons, to help in particular types of transformations of consciousness. It is perhaps not particularly co-incidental that this form of complete stillness is most widely seen in the same areas where Shiva is also known as the Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance.

 

 

 Ekapada_shiva

 

I am not particularly concerned with the historical development of this rare form. The details can be found here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekapada.

My concern is why Shiva Nataraja would be depicted in such a manner. There had to be very good reasons indeed at a time when sectarian abuse of each others devatas was rampant and such a form was so easily open to  perjorative interpretations. Swami Vivekananda was the first modern Hindu to speak up against western psycho-sexual interpretations of the Lingam as a phallus alone – a process the West is still addicted to, ref Wendy Doniger.  He clearly stated that the lingam was the Yupa Stambha, the central pillar present in all yagnas, representative of the Axis Mundi, which in Yogic terms is the spine up which the kundalini travels. The energy body of a high level yogi automatically arranges itself into a lingam shape; it is incredibly stable as a side effect. Such forms are anthropomorphic representations of that yogic insight, rather like the mukha lingams, lingams with faces on them which would be a difficult task if they represented the phallus.

 

 shiva_ht74

 

Another form of Shiva also has this lingam like shape and is associated with Brahma and Vishnu. That is the famous Pillar of Fire Shiva, Lingodbhava ,which is an interesting name in itself. The bhava is the sensation, the vibration, the perception, the feeling. The bhava of a lingam is shown in forms that devotion creates.  [while also taking the opportunity to put down the worshippers of Brahama and Vishnu- sectarianism was always a reality.} The Ekapada implies stillness lack of movement, rather like the forms of the Jain tirthankaras, who according to some schools, freeze into these still forms after final attainment, for even the smallest movement is karma and they are free of that taint! The area where the Ekapada is found, South India, Rajasthan Orissa were very much the catchment area of Jainsim too and the theological idea must have been well known to all of them.

 

 Ekapada

 

There is certainly an aspect of asserting superiority over other sects in this Ekapada form. Or an attempt to assimilate them. Both processes could have gone on simultaneously. But the Tantric shrines where Bhairava is in Ekapada form shows that the process could flow the other way also. . We are told that it originates in the obscure Vedic deity Aja Ekapada which may be true. The yogic sandhana roots seem clear once we read that Aja Ekapada  – The unborn one footed – was almost always associated with Ahi Budhnya – the serpent of the ocean – so much so they were thought to be twin or the same god. This is formless consciousness associated with the creatrix serpent of the kundalini. So the roots are clear for those who know how to see it.

 

 ekapada-shiva_ap1

 

The single form Ekapada {Vishnu and Brahma  attached is also called Tripada} is almost always associated with attendants who are tapasvis, so it is a hard sadhana aspect of Yoga. The unusual rigidity and stillness of the form is also a clue, this is like shambhavi mudra practice, where everything is stilled, every sensation, every external and internal input is stopped, and the experience of inner akasha is allowed. Brahma and Vishnu, creating and ongoing aspects have to be stilled to experience the essence of consciousness that is Shiva. At least that is what arose in my understanding and my samyama on these things is usually pretty accurate. I do not urge this conclusion upon anybody, it is my insight. The yogis of South India used to create rupams all the time and the clues as to the purpose of so doing were always available for those who meditated upon them. I am reasonably sure I am on the right track here!

 

 

Sarvam Shivamayam!

 

 

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath, being a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker.  He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha and leads multiple meditation circles each week.

 

The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

 

His blogs can be accessed here

 

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

 

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

 

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/