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/

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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/

The Ambarnath temple a forlorn jewel

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India has too many great temples. Architectural genius has been recklessly expended out over the years. The Ambarnath temple, so close to Mumbai, {in Thane district and at the end of the old central line of the local trains,} is completely neglected. What other explanation can there be? In another country this would have been a center piece of tourism. With Elephanta close to the city and Ajanta Ellora taking up all the press, this temple, which rivals anything Mount Abu could offer, sits glumly next to a polluted stream. Perhaps that is also good, the ubiquitous crowds of India are mercifully absent. But it is still regretful…

 

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One goes down into the garba griha to worship the lingam, the usual story perhaps of svyamabhu – self manifest – lingams having temples constructed around them. It also feels a bit like Pataleshwar cave temple in Pune city, so the descent into the earth was perhaps part of the design and was based on tattva shuddi considerations. It is a lingam in worship, but that is about all that can really be said about it. It is for aesthetic and cultural reasons that one comes not spiritual ones. This temple in the hollow beside a hill with a stream flowing by is an ancient template in the Agama Shastras the texts for building so this is very classical indeed. Built in the Golden Age of mythological Hinduism, 1060 CE, when the faith was riding high and invasions and destruction only a nightmare yet to arrive, it is a little marvel in soft stone.

 

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As in most ancient temples in my state of Maharashtra it is neither purely Northern style nor Dravidan style but an eclectic and creative mix of the two. Technically it is the Hemadpanthi variant of the Vesara school of architecture named after a great patron, Prime Minister of the Devagiri kings who reigned over much of this part of India. The temple seeks to cram in as much sculpture as is humanly possible so they fluted or corrugated the outer wall, more than doubling available wall space for the classic relief sculpture of Indian temples representing the principle of Vyapta-Ayapta, manifest – unmanifest, a yogic concept that holds the universe and the gods are constantly emerging out of and merging back into primordial Consciousness. It is the reason sculptures are rarely 3 dimensional in our temples. The universe is Flux, and Time blurs everything.  The central tala or unit of measurement is also classic, humans 5 to 7, devas and so forth more than that, caryatid dwarfs and so one less than 5. In that sense this is not an experimental temple, but one that functions within well established conventions of sacred architecture.

 

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But only the Hoyasala temples and Mount Abu can match the sheer profusion of sculpture. You have to look at it rather like entering a forest. You have to sit still and gaze, and slowly the magnificence of the detail becomes clear as the eye grows habituated to so much detail. The Kirtimukhas tucked away on an higher level, visible but not conspicuous, placed for pragmatic not aesthetic reasons are one such delightful touch and of course the famous dancing Shiva on the roof level. The myths are the standard ones, with all the gods represented, though it is natural that they give prominence to Shiva. There are many bhairavas, even a Hari-Hara, and an unusual Narasimha using a dagger to kill Hiranyakahipu not his claws! Apsaras and other fertility symbols are  up to the usual complement in such temples.

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There is a really beautiful Gajasura moksha tandava panel that is unfortunately damaged now but is as good as the one in the famous Shiva temple at Ramappa near Warrangal in Andra Pradesh. The problem as I see it is that all the works here are of such uniformly high standard that they tend to be subconsciously devalued. This temple is so much better in every way than the incredibly overrated shore temple at Mahabalipuram but that gets the World Heritage status for location and visual appeal alone! Well at least it is still in worship and some rudimentary repairs have been done – that is more than most ancient temples get today. But such a jewel… and such neglect…

 

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/

 

Rohit Arya on Yoga Sutras Ch1V1 Atha Yoga Anushasanam

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What is the very first verse? Chapter 1, verse 1, 196 verses in the yoga sutras. What is the very first word? It is the most famous. All these teachings like I said start like the explosion of a hydrogen bomb- a knock out punch!

 

The first verse: Atha Yoga, Anushasanam. That is the complete line.

 

Let me unpack the meaning of each word. This gets interesting. What is the implication? How do we engage, learn when we are given a sutra? This is how I came to this.

 

ATHA- NOW. AND NOW. . THIS MOMENT.

 

Atha means this sacred moment. This current moment is the only moment we have. I cannot catch what happened even two seconds ago. Life always happens in this moment. Why would he (Patanjali) start his text on Yoga not with the word ‘Yoga’ but with ‘Atha’

 

What does Atha Yoga mean? Yoga is the current moment! And what is Yoga? Yoga means to unite. Unite to what? Unite to the higher consciousness, unite to the self. Not to the fragmented, not to the conditioned, not to the limited. To unite to what is free, what is unconditional, to what is authentic, to what is limitless. And where do you find all that? Only in the current moment. Kalidasa says in his famous poem -The Salutation to the Dawn – ‘Look to this day, Because this is the only time we have.’ It was a salutation to the muhurta.

 

So, ATHA YOGA. Atha also means AND NOW. And now Yoga. Atha Yoga Anushasanam. Anu also means ‘after’. That which follows. It also implies that which is condensed. Something that was expansive has been brought to the core, the essence. The mandatory, non-negotiable, compressed level of truth and value. So much meaning in two words!

 

SHASANA: In Hindi it means to rule. Whom do you rule? Your family, society? No. you rule yourself. Then you achieve self mastery. Shasanam is discipline, teaching. To learn something is to be under Shasanam.

 

So Atha Yoga Anushasanam means, Yoga is possible in this moment after you achieve self -discipline. This is one interpretation.

 

Atha Yoga Anushasanam When was this written? It was put in writing about 2,300 years ago, but historically it is at least four or five thousand years old.  In those days we had the ‘Varnashrama Dharma’. Life was divided in 25 year segments. First 25- Brahmacharya where you learned, next 25- Grihastashram when you got married and had a family, then Vanaprastha where you went into the forest and then you would go into sanyasa.

 

So many authorities say, Atha Yoga means, after you have completed with your Bharmacharya and your Grihastashrama, after you have experienced life, achieved some success, then…And Now…Yoga. And that is probably true. Not that people were not doing sadhana and kriya, but they would come to hard core yoga around the age of 50 years. Osho Rajneesh used to say that “I want people who have succeeded in life and then realized that this success has not made me happy. I want people who have material success, I want people who have fame, I want people who have social positions. I don’t want a whole crowd of poverty stricken people looking for mental peace. That is not what Yoga will provide.’ People keep asking me, ‘If I do Yoga will I get mental peace? ‘ No, your peace will go to pieces!! It will shatter you first. This is also what Osho said, he was coming from the Yoga Sutras. You have to have achieved a certain level of success and social recognition, comfort and then realize that your body is not cooperating as much as it used to. So you have to have had that myriad of experiences, seen life. Then you are ready- Atha Yoga- And  Now…Yoga.

 

But this is not the only meaning. It means “Wherever you are..That Moment Yoga!’ start from where you are. Which is why Bhagwat Gita starts with the blind man. “Dhritirashtra Owachha.” Atha Yoga- no matter what your condition, your success, fame, money, health; whatever you are in this moment, please begin! How can you ever attain if do not begin? So Atha Yoga can also mean, Yoga is NOW. Don’t go looking for the most auspicious time by the horoscope. In Kautilya Arthashastra one of the sutras says “Only fools wait for an auspicious moment, for the evolved person all moments are auspicious”.

 

ATHA YOGA- the moment you decide, that is the moment your yoga begins. You can begin at any moment. It is like the “Avasara” . a moment in life which is a destiny moment, when your life can change, transform. Atha Yoga- the moment of transformation. What the Greeks called ‘Kairos’. Then normal time is no longer running. It is an aspect of time that can transform you. Atha Yoga- Right Now, This Moment. It is actually the only moment you have. When are you going to start Yoga? One day when you retire? When your responsibilities are over? No. these are all excuses. Yoga does not ask you to give up anything. That is all a two thousand year old practise. There were karmic cycles that required that. I explain this in the talk about Yugas. There was a reason for why things changed, went into survival mode. When yogis and spiritually evolved people stopped speaking about sexuality, money and power. They became ‘dirty’. The spiritual person was not expected to talk about society, and all this. So now those speaking about these very important aspects were those with lower level consciousness! Their values then define what the values are around sexuality, money, power and what society becomes. So Sri Aurobindo did something very profound when he said ‘All life is Yoga’. This is what Atha Yoga already encompasses, and he said it very openly. Atha Yoga- This moment. This is when we are living our life right here on this planet. It is not about bein reborn on another planet!

 

‘Naveenam Naveenam Kshane Khsane’- ‘New , ever new, every moment. That was another sutra that used to be given. Every moment is new, every moment is fresh, every moment is original, every moment is creative, because…Atha Yoga!

 

 

Atha Yoga Anushasana. Anushashanam means after Shasana. You can come to yoga only after self-discipline. This is also a possible interpretation. A person who is not mentally, physically and emotionally disciplined will never succeed in yoga.

 

Anushasanam: we do our Kriya, our system, our sadhana, the Eight Spiritual Breaths. Do you realize that every movement we have in that is for physical discipline? Don’t let your hands bend, don’t let your hands fly, they should be perpendicular etc. everything is training you in ‘Shasana’ and ‘Anushasana.

 

This is what makes sutras so enjoyable. You can read them in all directions. You can read them forward, backward or even in three dimensions. That is the way the sutra was supposed to play out. That is why in the Ashtanga of yoga we have the ‘Yama –Niyama’. The rules and disciplines. Don’t lie, don’t steal, be clean etc. I will speak on that separately. So this is vital. While yoga is self- mastery, but to achieve that you require a shasana or discipline. Self- mastery is an evolutionary stage of discipline. To be selfish is very easy, it does not require any discipline. To care only for oneself is very easy. To care for a larger social context requires discipline. To come to your authentic self requires the most discipline. So self-mastery is an evolution that is possible only from discipline. So “Anushasana followed by Yoga’. Anushasana Yoga. When you have Anushasana then time stops, you are always in ‘This Moment’ – ‘Atha’, the present moment awareness.

 

Yoga means to connect, to join, to link. It actually means to tie, to yoke you. So you are connected to the higher consciousness which happens only when you are in this one moment, the NOW. Because when you are in this one moment, then time does not function anymore for you. Enlightened people have no sense of time. They keep their consciousness about time with great difficulty. To them everything is the same. The past is the same as the present or future. Time is actually a big illusion and even physicists know that. When you travel at the speed of light, you do not start moving faster, you actually start growing bigger. You hit infinite mass. That is the paradox.

 

So, Atha Yoga Anushasanam- Anushasanam. Leave the ‘anu’ out of that. What do I require to do for shashana? What is the discipline I require? So we have the sadhana, the kriya, the meditation, the satsang, the sangha. These are all aspects. Shasana has these multiple meanings. Sanskrit is a polysemous language, which means one word has more than one meaning. So in ‘Shasanam” we have first discipline which evolves to mastery.

 

So when you are given this little torpedo, this hook- Atha Yoga Anushasanam, the teacher must have been very happy as the student will be dealing with this for anither two months at least! The student would come back and say, it means discipline. The teacher would ask, okay, so what is your discipline? What are your values? What are your habits? What is your evidence for discipline? When do you go to sleep? What do you eat? Remember our affirmation? ‘From this moment onward nothing that I shall do or think, eat or drink shall abuse this temple to the living God, my body!’ All that comes from here, this yogic vibration- anushasana.

 

Atha Yoga Anushasanam.  And Now Yoga. So discipline leads to self-mastery which keeps me in Yoga, which keeps me in the Now. But if you are in Now you are enlightened! So in that one sentence, Patanjali has covered all the schools of Yoga, Hatha Yoga which is about the body, Bhakti Yoga which is about emotion, Jnyana Yoga which is about the mind and Raja Yoga which is about the prana. All the possible dimensions of yoga have been covered in this first opening sentence, the first blast. It is such a simple definition of Yoga- Atha Yoga, Anushasanam.

 

 The most popular is ‘Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodaha  othe scholars and foreigners like it. But this is actually the most famous definition of yoga. Atha yoga anushasanam. Remember what I said about the Bija Mantras? Each syllable strikes at a particular point. It is not the meaning of the word or sentence, which is important, it is the sound. Each syllable, each sound has a particular vibration in your body, in your mind, in your emotion and in your prana. So in a few years, with enough kriya and meditation, you will realize what kind of a sentence this is- Atha Yoga Anushasanam. It has so much Shakti. They would not write these sutras unless they were in Samadhi. They would be written only in a waking Samadhi. In fact you may not understand these books unless you are in some kind of Samadhi, you will just  about grasp the meaning on the surface. Especially the Vedas and Upanishads. They seem to be saying something, but what is happening on the surface is far from the truth. It functions at that extraordinary level. When you really understand Atha Yoga Anushasana, then start reading the Vedas and Upanishad, as they are all mystical, at a different vibration, including the Bhagwat Gita. As you come more and more into yogic consciousness, the connected consciousness when you are connected to the force, the kundalini, the Shakti, the words start vibrating differently. So you were not allowed to read these books. Today they are widely available, that is also okay, at least the knowledge is not lost forever. But there is no real way to understand this, unless you have done some meditation, some form of yoga. Atha Yoga Anushasanam.

 

It is right there in the front. This is what it is going to be accomplishws, this is what is expected of you, and this is what is required to be done. Everything that you will accomplish is covered in this one sentence. The opening line of the book is therefore dramatic and important. the yoga sutra is so grand, they say that he (Patanjali) is the avatar of Shesha Naga. He was from a different dimension, he was a naga. The energy was playing out from a different dimension. This level of vibration and impact, this level of power! Just the opening sentence blows the mind.

 

Then you realize, “If I cross this, what I used to be cannot survive.” It is a conscious choice in evolution. Yoga is about conscious choice, to evolve oneself not only to the level of a deva but a rishi. So he put this first level barrier, to filter out those who were not serious.

 

Atha Yoga Anushasanam. And Now Yoga. And Now when? At what stage of life? It depends. Someone can look at it and decide they are not ready, they cannot make the commitment. That is also wisdom.  Not that their life will be destroyed (which is the usual fear). Their life will actually become much better. Yes, how you spend your time will change. Surely you may stop wasting time with people and thinking that is enjoyment!  Unfortunately for most people that is where all the psychological investment is. But if we are talking about Shasanam, when we are doing a course like the ‘Eight Spiritual Breaths’, you will not waste your life. Because the affirmations keep repeating the message, hammering it in- ‘Nothing that will lead to disease, decay, death..’ Shasanam- self-mastery, what is required for self discipline? It is implicit that you have to be in control of certain things. What will you control? Not your family! It is your body, your breath, your mind, your prana. And when do we get there? ’Anu- Shasanam’. After certain things are done. That is  Sadhana, practice, sincerity. You can have mastery over everything, if you become a BhrahmaRishi you can have Shasanam over the entire universe! They run the universe, not the Gods. Gods are just paid employees!

 

So when you engage, when you open yourself to the sutra and allow the power, the Shakti to flow into you, a lot happens that is otherwise not possible. A genuine sutra carries that vibration and power, if you allow yourself to be open to it, in this moment. Atha Yoga Anushasanam. In this moment I am open, I am connected, I am in yoga, I am in connection with the sutra- Atha Yoga. So what happens ? Anushasanam.

 

 

There are so many ways to play with this. Do you understand now what we were as a culture? How your mind and body and emotion used to be engaged with a teaching style like this, and how we are taught today. The catastrophic fall.

 

So finally, what is the Patanjali yoga sutra chapter 1, verse 1? ATHA YOGA ANUSHASANAM. It is a complete philosophy of life, a complete system of living. It has everything. Often people just say Atha yoga. That is a mistake. It is Atha Yoga, Anushasanam.

 

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/

 

When the ‘student’ is ready the Master perspires…

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The crazy demands made on Teachers by delusional people who seek to use spiritual methods as yet another tool to emotionally jerk off.

So somebody who looks like the little sister of Jabba the Hutt slithered into one of my meditation groups. Such an intense mass of Tamasic blubber caused me to cringe with the dark vibration in the aura. The skin was smelling of alcohol – the sign of the hard core just functioning drinker; when the body cannot break down the previous night’s input and starts excreting it thru the sweat glands we are in the presence of ‘ I am a social drinker’ otherwise known as complete and utter denial. This person came ostensibly to sit in the meditation circle and learn the course in spiritual breathing that I am a Lineage Master in. Actually she came to check me out; one of my students had been developing faith in me and the process and she was suspicious her friend had fallen into the clutches of a fraud. I have seen that slinking look many, many times before ‘oh I am so cool and here causally but actually to monitor you.’ One of this constant tribe  had come,  years before, to save her friend. She ended up marrying me – which did not end well for me, but that is another tale!

 This person did not disappoint; she had myriad questions supposed to prove her knowledge and intelligence but only displaying that she did not have the slightest tinge of actual spiritual experience. That is okay but the sad truth is that the most viciously ignorant always have the greatest delusions about their spiritual stature. This person had zero compunctions in using up her friend’s good will with me and with her hatha yoga teacher checking us both out in the “Prove yourself to me while I sit and wheeze in the corner” manner that the delusional have. She was so corpulent that it is doubtful if she has seen her own toes in 15 years but she had no scruple in sitting in judgment over somebody who had been teaching Hatha Yoga for 13 years and maybe the best damn teacher in Mumbai for asanas. But no our Lady of Pathetic Delusion thinks she can check her out and decide if she will graciously confer her patronage. She knows the meditation and the breaths classes have to be paid for but naturally she had ‘forgot’ to carry money that day, correctly assuming that concern for her friend will prevent me from embarrassing her.

That evening I have an email exchange with my student where I outlined my concerns that this was Trouble and anyways this sort of interaction should not have been forced upon me. Her friend loyally defended her but I knew in my bones this would not end well. I am sometimes wrong about the goodness of people, but about their dark side, their selfish greedy exploitative aspect I am always right. So one day before the next class this person calls me up and says she had a previous appointment that she could not get out of so could I teach her the second Breath, while postponing the meditation so that she could make her appointment. I pointed out that I could not inconvenience 8 other people for her, she knew very well the times the sessions were held and if she could not make it she should not have begun the course.  This seemed to deeply offend her. When I suggested that she come early the next week she announces she is going to be out of town. At which point I said that in case she should resume after she returns whereupon she comes out with an amazing suggestion that I hand over the supporting study materiel and she would learn them on her own. Then I completely lost it and told her this is not the right attitude and she is not interested in learning – whereupon she resorted to vituperation and sundry conjectures about my ultimate fate to a hot place. Since it is almost certain she is preparing a special place for herself there I guess she has expert inside information – I wouldn’t know.

So let us sum up the situation. She has stolen one meditation class, one Breaths class, not one rupee has been paid as yet, but she feels perfectly entitled to instruct me to inconvenience everybody else, to break the established teaching method of the lineage, so that she and her corpulence can continue to float in a sea of delusion. She is instructing a lineage master in a parampara how to teach the system!!! This is not delusion. This is not even entitlement. This is lunacy pure and simple.

A certain type of urban India woman has descended into this pattern. Another sample made and broke three appointments for a reading. When I said that is enough I am no longer going to read for you she was bewildered at my ‘harshness’. Again no money had exchanged hands but the mere thought that in the future they were going to pay for something seemed to place them, in their diseased minds, as the lady of the manor and me as the leprous mendicant who should be honored – first that they condescended to notice me and then that some scraps would be thrown my way withal. These women seem to meet only the sort of men that the Men’s Rights Activists call a ‘Mangina’ and yes it means exactly what it sounds like. That is what they want men to be; it is a symptom of decaying brains I think, though I could be wrong. I doubt it …but all things are possible with God.

This delusional attitude to spirituality is what causes Teachers – in pure self defense  – to set up hierarchies and difficulties of access. Certainly that is the lesson I have learnt and I will apply ruthlessly in future. Also this is not in any way confined to women. Men are just as bad, but they don’t press it so much. They know they get shorter rope perhaps!

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/