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/

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The Sacred India Tarot{and its creator} gets some praise

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After the 2 day foundational course in The Sacred India Tarot which I conducted at The Integral Space on August 10 and 11, 2013 this gratifying feedback….

 Taking the Sacred India Tarot with Sifu Rohit Arya is like taking a plunge into the vast culture that came before its conception.  Charismatic, sharp and funny, Sifu Rohit has a magical way of telling the stories behind the artwork and the symbolism of the cards themselves. A most concise introduction to a labor of love, Sifu Rohit painstakingly researched, analyzed and created the unfathomable Sacred India Tarot. Who better to teach it’s course? An unparalleled teacher, Sifu Rohit bridges the traditions and practice of the western tarot and integrates the mystical Indian traditions. A sense of history and spirituality is perfectly balanced in his teachings. This beautiful deck and enlightening course is like no other. The discussions on vast Karmic lessons, correct usage and the respect for wisdom which Sifu Rohit imbues to his students, is what one expects from a master practioner. The cards come to life under his guidance. The misconceptions and secrets of the tarot practice combined with the understanding of the Sacred India Tarot inspire a student to use the tarot as a tool for personal growth. A sense of empowerment is a big gift from learning under Sifu Rohit. Being a person who has attended several tarot workshops, The Sacred India Tarot course is a treat to experience with Sifu Rohit’s tutelage of tarot as a discipline. Here lie the secrets that most conventional tarot courses will not divulge. So, one leaves the master with a sense of power in the cards as well as faith in the future.”   Divianshu Kohli Bij, 25 years  from USA, studying to become a therapist.  

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 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 leads the Ka Sangha meditation group, as well as The Integral Space meditation circle each week.

 

A Yogic perspective to the Medusa myth

587px-Medusa_by_CarvaggioTraditional narratives and modern interpretations view the Medusa story as one of harrowing patriarchal unfairness to a hapless young girl. Viewed as Hindus see myth- as a teaching tool – it becomes a tale of redemption thru Grace after misfortune.

This is not a point of view I have seen espoused as yet so I will take a shot at it.

The Gods of Greek mythology were a pretty cruel bunch. Not even their own worshippers have ever seriously challenged this. Shakespeare summed up the general sentiment for all time in King Lear – “ As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods/ they kill us for their sport.” In this sorry collection of tyrants there was one admirable figure, perhaps solely by contrast. That was Pallas Athena, who was a symbol of high culture and intellect, instead of being driven entirely by crude desire as the rest of the pantheon seemed at most times. So her treatment of Medusa, who was originally a priestess in her temple, seems especially cruel and unworthy. The young girl was stunningly beautiful and had many suitors but she shunned all that for a life of service to the Goddess of the Spear, a role that required lifetime virginity. Poseidon, lord of the sea, desired Medusa and raped her in Athena’s temple. Furious at such desecration Athena punishes, not her uncle the Earth-shaker, but Medusa! She curses the poor girl to become hideous like a corpse, have snakes for hair and turn to stone anybody who looks into her eyes! This seems a toxic combination of male entitlement and victim blaming; Poseidon is excused, for virile male gods are not expected to act any different. WTF seems about the only reasonable response to this.

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Now classical scholars and feminists are united in their opinion that Athena seemed to always take the part of the Male values of Greek society. There is some truth in that, though opposing the Furies in their vengeance against Orestes could be seen as an intervention on the side of Law as against simple revenge.  The tendency to support the values of the system that grants you power is inflamed if you are a member of a traditionally devalued group, as women in the Greek world. That has always been the charge against  Athena. But the Yogic perspective offers another way to look at this whole situation. In Yoga the gods or devas are recognized as Vital Beings, super powerful it is true, but not the Godhead or Source itself. Some of them thus act in less than admirable ways. Athena has always been one of the more evolved devas so her actions in this case seem completely brutal and out of character. But the gods, no less than humans, cannot be psychologically inconsistent, so this might not be as simple as seems evident.

In Indian mythology the wrath of a God is a path to salvation!

Now this is weird, but if a God strikes you down then you are liberated. I propose a Hindu reading of Medusa and everything changes in meaning. Athena could not protect her priestess initially, so she later grants her power and safety beyond expectation. To become a Gorgon, to freeze men into stone, to literally petrify them, and live alone on an Island – none of this was very different from her life as a priestess to begin with. She was not to have sexual relationships then; now she is protected against any further violation. The granting of visual ugliness to women as a protection against male lust is a common theme in the bhakti stories of India. Medusa is also given power beyond  belief. Any man who approaches her is petrified for his temerity. Poseidon gratified his itch, but he emasculated a generation of Greek heroes. They would go up against this unconquerable being and lose. As long as Medusa lived, she was the strongest, the greatest; it must have been severe humiliation for the men. Athena made the men of Greece pay for their vanity and lust, again and again and again until she finally sanctioned a hero to liberate Medusa. That was Perseus.

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Perseus is almost unique in the Heroic Age in that he had one of the few happy endings vouchsafed to a Hero. Immortal glory normally comes to the Hero at the price of a miserable or painful conclusion to a life of suffering. But Perseus is a favorite all thru; the gods tumble over themselves to help him, to advice, to give him magical implements. The Hesperides give him a knapsack to safely hold the head of Medusa. Zeus gives him an adamantine sword, Hades a helm of darkness to turn invisible, Hermes a pair of flying sandals… it is reasonably obvious Athena was extracting this co-operation as recompense for the desecration.  He sneaks up on the sleeping Medusa, viewing her face in his shiny shield, cuts off her head. He gains Pegasus the winged horse, who spurts from her blood, as a reward. Perseus uses the still potent head to freeze an unwelcome suitor to his mother and finally hands Medusa’s head to Athena, who incorporates it into her shield. Alexander the Great wore Medusa on his breastplate and she became a protector of thresholds all over the Greco-Roman world.

In Hindu myth the slain foe merges into the God as an attribute of his power. Thus the elephant hide and tiger skin that Shiva wears, the rooster that is Skanda’s flag, and the mouse that is Ganapati’s vehicle, are all peculiar devotees who chose the violent path of opposition  to the god and liberation by death at his/her hands. This final, and literal, seal of approval and liberation, by merging with the body or attributes of the God is a common trope of Indian myth. From a yogic teaching perspective, Medusa was a devotee who had a catastrophic misfortune owing to some negative karma, which was then rectified by the Goddess taking a personal interest in the matter.

Perseus get a happy marriage, after rescuing the original damsel in distress, Andromeda. He later founds the city of Mycenae, and dies in honored old age. So there!  Athena knew what she was doing.

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 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 leads the Ka Sangha meditation group, as well as The Integral Space meditation circle each week

The Buddha story – A brief overview

This piece was originally posted on Indiayogi.com {now, alas, defunct}, and also served as the basis for the storyline of the Suit of Discs {Pentacles} in the Sacred India Tarot. Speak memory….  This is one of my personal favorites and Jane Adams who resurrected it is to be  thanked greatly!

Buddhism was the dominant faith of Asia for a clear millennium, and it still holds a significant position there.  It is not normally realized that a great many countries which are Islamic now, were once strongholds of the Buddhist faith, especially Afghanistan and Iraq: the former famous for the now vanished Bamiyam monoliths, the latter for the finest monasteries the world has ever known, till medieval Europe.

Between the first century BC and the fifth century AD, Buddhism was unchallenged over Asia, with only pockets of the Confucian, Hindu and Zoroastrian beliefs holding out.  That makes the Buddha life story the most well known to all humanity, and in sheer numbers who religiously repeat it, it remains the most popular story told even today.

Before we begin recounting this tale however, one fact needs to be brought out.  The Buddha was not a prince.  That was romancing by later biographers, who could not conceive of anybody other than royalty doing such marvelous things.

Also, there was a caste agenda in place by then.  Buddhism was a Kshatriya response to a Brahmin hegemony financed by Vaisya support, and they needed a prince to be the mythical spokesman for the new faith.

The Buddha’s father was the head of a Janapada, a republican state, kingdoms merely having begun to emerge, and no real empire in place in society.  He was undoubtedly a privileged young man, but not a prince.  Since this narrative will deal with the mythic aspects of the life as popularly understood, we will go along with the prince fiction, but the historical Buddha is not the Buddha of invented memory.

He was born according to tradition as well as history, in the year 563 BC, son of Suddhodana, belonging to the Kshatriya tribe of the Sakyas, in Kapilavastu near the border of modern Nepal.  His name was Siddhartha Gautama, the latter being his family name.  His birth was attended by the usual portents that seem to grace the descent of a great Master, notably some dreams that his mother had, that the child she was carrying would be unthinkably exceptional.

The baby was supposed to have been born while his mother laboured standing up, so that his feet touched the ground;  and the Buddha is supposed to have been the only human infant who could walk immediately upon birth, as befitted a future world saviour.  The astrologers gathered around, predicted that the boy would become an emperor if he could be persuaded to reigh.  It was more likely however, that he would renounce the world as soon as he was aware of the reality of suffering.

The mother died seven days after the birth of the super child.  A human frame cannot endure the incredible strain of bringing forth a Saviour for very long.  Suddhodana married his wife’s sister Mahaprajapati, and for once we are spared the evil stepmother routine in myth, as the lady dearly loved the young child.  The doting father was not going to have his son turn to renunciation, so he began a celebrated social-control experiment.  He shut his son up in a great palace, surrounded by high walls that kept the unpleasant reality of the world out of sight, and hopefully out of mind. The young man was immersed in wine, women and song; and that his constitution as well as his mind survived such paternal solicitude, is one of the greater miracles known to humanity.

Siddhartha became the finest young warrior in the land, as well as a formidable scholar and in true epic fashion he wins the hand of his cousin Yashodara after a contest of skill in which he wipes the field of all comers at all contests, except curiously, sword play!  The ancient and enduring Indian disdain for close quarters fighting, which would be its eventual downfall, is here clearly reflected.  The hero could not do something so uncouth and dreadfully sweaty as fight well with a sword, even if he was the greatest warrior who ever lived.  The marriage was blissfully happy, and the king thought he had covered all the bases.  Siddhartha would become a world conqueror.

Then disaster struck, for the young man suddenly had an unwonted curiosity to see the world outside his magnificent prison.  The legend goes, that the gods despairing of him achieving his incarnate mission, promoted his mind with such strange whim.  In collusion with a famous confidante and charioteer, Chana, the young man slipped out and encountered the Four Sights, doddering Old Age, Sickness, a Dead man and finally an Ascetic who somehow seemed to have arisen above these inevitable and implacable miseries.  Later versions claim that in each case it was the god Indra who had assumed these forms to rouse him from his pleasure blinded ignorance.

A little digression would not be amiss here.  Many miracles would be attributed to the man later, but his appalled reaction to the sight of suffering has never got its due as the most important of all the miracles.  For we all know Sakya princes who live gilded cage existences, and it is a bitter psychological truth, that they are not particularly distressed when confronted by other people’s suffering.  They do not have either the experience or the mental concepts to make sense of suffering, looking upon it as something strange and quite unnecessary. “Why don’t they eat cake?” is not a cruel question, but a devastating confession of ignorance, of genuine puzzlement.  Siddhartha’s great leap of self transcendence was the realization that this sick person was like him, not “one of them”.  Somehow he preserved his sense of humanness against all the luxury that was stifling him.

The Four Sights could have been viewed as a freak show, the royal equivalent of slumming, a novel curiosity that amused, but did not touch in any way.  His feeling of despair at the general hopelessness of the human condition, is what should have been most exclaimed over.  In spite of genetics, environment and the prevailing zeitgeist, his spirit flared up when confronted with a moral challenge.

Back home, he became prone to brooding over the generally depressing nature of human existence – decay and pain and death, with an occasional narcotic experience of “pleasure” or “success” to numb the mind from the awful truth.

At this juncture, he was told his wife had given birth to a son, usually a matter of great joy to an Indian father.  It was the last straw.  “Yet another fetter has been born,” he moaned, inadvertently naming the son Rahula, a chain or fetter.   That night, he abandoned his new born son and wife, determined to seek out the secret to overcoming human suffering and sorrow.  It is an act known as the Great Renunciation.  He was 29 years old.

He took to the road, in an India that was an incredible intellectual adventure at the time.  Freethinking and speculation was at a peak never before achieved, or equaled after.  Mahavira the great Jain Master was his contemporary, though the two never met, in what is one of Destiny’s greatest oversights.  Originality of thought was matched by pugnacious championing of belief, and the young man soaked it all up.  However, while he was willing to learn from all, he was usually only too evidently the intellectual superior.  He used to learn, and then move on.  Tradition ascribes to him the discipleship of Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, both Brahmin sannyasis.  He seems to have accepted the need for a belief system, good conduct and the practice of meditation, though he was not convinced they had the answer.

In no time, he had accumulated five disciples himself, and they underwent severe austerities in the forest of Urevala.  Siddhartha tried to gain the knowledge of salvation through terrible fasting and overextended meditation.  The result was he became a living skeleton, and his mind began to lose its sharpness too.  So severely had he subjected his body to austerity, that when he stroked his skin his body hair would fall off, having no flesh in which to root themselves!  He even experimented with eating his own excretions, but he soon realized that this was no way forward.  Always intellectually courageous and integrated, he abandoned the path of self torture as well as the gigantic reputation for holiness it had given him.  His disciples left him, huffing with disgust at such backsliding.

Once his health had recovered, he recalled a mystical experience he had in his youth, and determined to pursue that line.  In the famous spot of Gaya, he sat under a Peepal tree, determined not to budge until he had cracked the secret of overcoming suffering and death.  His formidable will kept him there for forty days and nights, when Mara the Evil One, realizing his days of unchallenged dominance over Life was over, assaulted him with terrors and temptations.  The latter always meant impossibly voluptuous beautiful girls, and was regarded culturally as the greater threat to saintliness.

Siddhartha was unmoved by either fear or pleasure, as his Realisation was now complete.  The desperate Mara than accused him of the subtlest sin of all – egoism – the true feeling of having triumphed over fear and temptation.  Siddhartha merely touched the earth with two fingers and asked it to bear withness if a “person” was present there.  The earth announced that she did not bear on herself any human, there was only the Tathagatha, the Realised One, and ergo no human attributes.  This was the final victory, and the moment he entered into Nirvana, as well as the state known as the Buddha.  (“Buddha” is actually a way of being, a condition, not a title.)

The Buddha stayed in his seat for another forty days, unsure if his subtle and refined doctrine of transcending pain and suffering should be communicated to an uncomprehending world.  Finally, he resolved to risk the inevitable errors of the many for the sake of the few who would understand and profit from the new learning.  He went to Sarnath, a famous deer park, where his disgruntled disciples were living.  They saw him approaching, and resolved to ignore the apostle in their ascetic pride, but his transformed personality compelled them to offer him respect against their wills.  To them he preached his first sermon in the great event known as “Setting into Motion the Wheel of the Law”.  The Buddha was forty years old, and he had another forty two years of preaching ahead of him.

Having been somewhat of an extremist himself in his striving, he named his new doctrine the Middle Path, or Arya Marga, the Noble Way.  His first sermon contains all the key elements of the Megatharian structure that would become Buddhist theology.  They are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Truths are devastatingly simple.

Existence is unhappiness. 

Unhappiness is caused by desire/craving.

Desire can be overcome.

It is overcome by following the Noble Eight-fold Path

… … which are

Right Understanding, Right Purpose/aspiration, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Vocation, Right Effort, Right Awareness/Alertness, and Right Concentration.

The need for chastity, truthfulness and nonviolence were core components of this.

 

Buddha rapidly became one of the most influential figures in the country.  Even his skeptical family fell under his influence, and the whole country saw a mass movement of renunciation.  He used to wander the land attended by his nephew and favourite Ananda, a petulant weak-willed sort, and therefore under his special care.  Ananda’s recollections of his conversations with the Tathagatha made him an invaluable biographical source once the Buddha was dead, and he was much referred to in the settling of theological disputes.

The Buddha did not care, much to the disappointment of more than a few of the faithful, for miracles and magic, but only in finding the shortest way to end suffering and attain Nirvana.  In a land where spirituality was automatically equated with the ability to work miracles, He stood out as a beacon for rationality and reason.

This may seem strange in a country which produced the Upanishads, but they were a rearguard action against a country that demanded magic, or a reasonable facsimile of it, from holy men.

The Buddha therefore is not only India’s foremost religious figure, he is also first in demanding a grounded view of life, which may yet be his major contribution.

We all know the famous story of Gautami, who had come to him with her dead child, and the usual hopes of resurrecting miracles.  Was he not the Tathagatha, the Ford-Crosser and the most famous holy man of the age?  Ergo miracles were expected.  He did perform one, by assuring her the child could indeed be bought back to life, if she got him some mustard seeds from a house in which death had not occurred.  The many wanderings within the city brought the distraught mother to her senses, as she realized that spiritual giants can offer another sort of immortal life, not the impossible one she was asking for.  He had no greater miracle to offer than the realization of the inevitable truth – suffering exists and can only be transcended, not avoided.

At another time he was told of a great feat of levitation that a holy man had performed, sending his begging bowl sliding up a flag post till it reached the top.  The reporters were evidently expecting a greater feat of supernatural prowess to be exhibited as an answer to their silent reproach – it was embarrassing to be the disciples of a guru who was not doing magic!  The Buddha merely said, in an elegant, celebrated squelch, “Such is not conducive to the cessation of desires and the attainment of Nirvana.”

His most famous conversion was that of the bandit and killer Angulimala, “Finger Garland”, an interesting type who used to keep count of his victims by cutting off a finger and adding it to his grisly garland.  Kings were his disciples too, most famously the king of Magadha, Bimbisara.  His son Ajatashatru slew him when the restraining presence of the Buddha was not there, but he repented and publicly confessed his crime to the Buddha the next time he visited. (Ajatashatru was too great a king for anyone to work up much indignation at his parricide, and in any case succession was usually decided by displays of such vigour.  It was, in a sense, expected behaviour.)  Royal patronage all over the country made the Buddhist stock rise very high indeed.

The Mahaparinirvana, the great and final Nirvana of the Buddha’s long life finally came when he was over eighty.  Never in his mission had he ever asked people to be anything other than sensible and intelligent in their spiritual approach.  “As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing on the touchstone, so are you to accept my words after examining them, not out of regard for me.”

He held fast to this doctrine, even on his deathbed.  His final sickness, incidentally, was brought on by his eating badly cooked pork at the house of a poor disciple he did not have the heart to refuse when invited.  The Buddha ate what was available, vegetarianism was a preference not an absolute fetish.  Three times he was ready to let the body go, but each time he was interrupted by somebody desiring instruction, and he held his Nirvana back, “lying on his side like a lion and instructing.”

Then he spoke to the disciples, “What need for the Tathagatha?  Become lamps unto yourselves.  The Buddha is a state, not a person.  Enter therein.  Decay is inherent in all component things.  Therefore work out your salvation with diligence.”

He died then, but the history of mankind had been for ever altered.

 

Jane Adams

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five 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 is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator for two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

 

 

 

Teaching the Sacred India Tarot Oct 6-7 2012

I held a workshop in understanding the Sacred India Tarot and how to use it, not only for readings but also as a spiritual process. The event was held on October 6 and 7, 2012 at the World Trade Center in Mumbai. We had 17 participants – all ladies – so the infusion of Shakti into the pack was dramatic and vast.

Shown above is an altar with the two grace cards of the deck created by my friend Poonam Ahuha who organized the entire event with her typical grace and class. I cannot thank her enough.

We had decks and posters of images from the pack available for sale both days. The Ganapati was a favorite, as was the meditating Shiva.

Day One: I had to declaim a bit as some participants were having their first experience with the Tarot and also, I think, my unique take on Indian culture and spirituality! As a group they were amazingly sincere in their desire to learn and evolve.

Day 1 continues.

Day 2 second half. We had got to doing spreads – this is the Swastika spread created by yours truly! We had the inevitable debate that this is the ‘wrong way’. It is somewhat disconcerting to see how disconnected we have become from our own culture and spiritual practices that most Indians would feel the other anti-clockwise swastika is the ‘right’ one. We do our best to spread light one group at a time….

Looking up advanced meanings of the cards

I have very dramatic body language it would seem…

This looks intense but I think it was some sort of point about neatness in spread layouts as the sygil would be disrupted….

Some point being elucidated

Another Swastika spread…

It was a very high intense energy session, a veritable vortex. Jane Adams who illustrated the Sacred India Tarot says that “Readings, especially in a group, energise the deck tremendously” So much Shakti must have infused the deck. It was a real privilege for me to lead this event.

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five 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 is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator for two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya_ Sacred India Tarot#Creating the World Cards

Creation of World Shakti & Nataraja

Rohit’s Notes:  Autumn 2003

“The World – Nataraja but as Ardhanirishwara.

“This is an easy card in the sense that we need only the classic Nataraja dancing figure as shown in the illustration.  The dwarf under the feet of the dancing god should NOT be left out, it is a vital part of the process.  The choice of Nataraja as Ardhanarishvara is to indicate the completion of the Fool’s journey to a transcendence beyond the roles and attitudes of gender. 

“What I would like in the arch of flame that surrounds the Nataraja, is to turn it around into Ourobouros The Serpent of Time, eating its own tail.  It is also called the Worm of Time, or the Dragon of Time.  Ideally I would like a dragon-like snake around the Ardhanariswara, but it should clearly be made of flames.  The picture we send you should be of some help in creating this flame circle round the dancing god.

The background can be the consistent cosmic background we have used in all the other cards.  This card should be kept simple, as the archetypal imagery is so powerful, we need nothing else.”

nataraja ref

Jane’s Notes:  September 2012

This card dictated its own evolution.   We ended up eventually, with TWO World cards – Siva Natarajan and World Shakti.

Jane’s Notes:  2010

The deck’s first version of the World had Nataraja Ardhanariswara (Lord whose half is Woman) inside the dragon Ourobouros, and dancing on a demon.  The illustration was somewhat cramped.  It lacked space, and none of us were very pleased with it.  Later on, an Ardhanariswara occurred spontaneously in the Minor Arcana, in the Lotuses suit (Cups).

In 2005, when completing the Suit of Lotuses, I painted the Queen of Lotuses, Rati the wife of Kama, as we planned.  But Rohit and Gautam decided to upgrade this exciting Kundalini goddess to the World Shakti Herself, and to commission a new Rati for the suit of Lotuses.

As a result, we have a male AND a female “World” – Siva and his Shakti.

Shakti is the Sri Chakra Yantra herself, centred on the linga sarira around which is coiled the World Serpent.  The design was inspired by an 18th century tantric ritual painting.

ritual painting 18th century ref

In the palms of her hands are yonis which look like seeds.  The serpents emerging from behind her breasts are the Sun and Moon – ida and pingala.  The kundalini force, wrapped three and a half times around the Siva Lingam, is just awakening;  the lotuses are a fountain of life, and so are the daisies.

World Shakti

What is expressed here, is the male vertical penetrating the female horizontal plane, timelessly;  the living combination of chakra (wheel or mandala) with the uprising sap of the tree of life.  The one crosses the other;  they are unity.

Here also is the mystery of prakriti – the substratum of all manifestation:  the ‘lattice’ of our world, in Solomon’s Song.

In the Western deck, the World card is traditionally and mysteriously hermaphrodite, being a return to the Bride dancing within the atom – the rotations of our world.

JA’s hermetic Tarot 21, The World (1991)

Correspondence:  Rohit to Gautam – 6 April 2005

“Gautam – I think the queen is the best card ever done till today, but it is probably a waste for Rati.  We could easily put this up as a World card.  Rati is not so powerful, but we can rename this the Tripura Sundari – the essence of feminine supremacy, the female World card.  The male World card could be the Nataraja, not the Ardhanariswara, so we will have two World cards which is okay.  Hinduism is conflicted as to whether the ultimate form of god is male or female … … (correspondence continues regarding the Knight and Queen of Lotuses) …

“… it is the ultimate female Shakti depicted there, so we use it as one World, the Nataraja becomes the male World card, completing the journey of the Fool Rudra Siva – now Nataraja. 

“It will be a slight drag for Jane, but really this card is too powerful, there is also a lingam which completes the Siva imagery which began the Fool card.  I think Jane has reached an inspired vein in these last two cards, the Kama is actually the ithyphallic hunter Siva who has dalliances with the wives of Rishis in the forest of reeds near Chidambaram.

Minor Arcana -Kama, the god of desire)

“I think Jane has to be troubled to draw the Queen once more, but it is her own fault for being so brilliant.

“This feminine Shakti is the best card till now, perhaps the new Nataraja will match it.  Let her draw a Nataraja as she deems fit;  I am certain something amazing will emerge, and that will be our second World card.  Perhaps she could incorporate a Mahamritunjaya yantra in it, but beyond that I do not want to make any suggestions while she is in such an inspired state.   Rohit.”

ardhanariswara ref: sculptures

As the Sacred India Tarot has a male and female death, similarly we continue to break new ground with a male and female World.

Shakti’s consort is Nataraja.  So our new Nataraja – Lord of the Dance – was done a considerable time later than the other Major Arcana – almost the final painting in the whole project.  His face is indrawn to bliss of the newborn, like a sustained orgasm.  Like Rudra the Fool, he holds aloft the drum and the flame, which infinitely open and close our kalpa – (aeon) – with a cymbal crash.

Natarajan

His other pair of arms bestow blessing and protection.  In his lower right palm are the red and white triangles of the Sri Chakra Yantra.  His left hand points inward, balancing his stance.  His body is smooth and ageless, empowered by the emanations from planetary Kundalini and the cosmic yab-yum yantra created by his lower body.

This Yantra is – I think – of Bagalamukhi: the hypnotic power of the Goddess.  It is a six-point star of Siva and Sakti triangles, with an added Shakti-feminine triangle.

David Frawley writes of Bagalamukhi:  “A very beautiful woman walking by can make a man stop and lose his breath.  The cosmic feminine power has a capacity to stun, stop or paralyse.  These are aspects of the Goddess Bagalamukhi … Bagala means literally a rope or bridle – Mukhi means ‘face’.   Bagala is a Goddess of speech, and as such is related to Tara and regarded as a form of her.  When sound becomes manifest as light, Tara becomes Bagala.  When the brilliant light of speech comes forth, then Tara gains the effulgence of Bagala and causes all things to become still.  Bagala is thus the stunning radiance that comes forth from the Divine Word and puts the human or egoistic word to rest. … … What is our Self nature?  What is the I Am in itself once divested of all transient identifications with which we confuse it?  Such enquiry will bring the mind to rest.”

From Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses

In the deck itself, you may notice the serpent foreground is replaced by the traditional demon which was in the earlier design:  Siva makes the personal ego his dance floor.   In the new Natarajan however, the serpent power IS Siva’s laid back rotational ecstasy.  They turn perhaps in opposite directions like the figure of eight:  an electron’s double rotation through manifest and virtual states.

Note:  the World Serpent was introduced to the deck through Vishnu, the Magician.

**

Correspondence:  Rohit to Gautam – 16 April 2005

“The World is now a stunning card … What is there to say?  It is as good as the female World, the kundalini snakes add an inspired touch to this composition.  I think this card is a genuine achievement.  I am deliriously happy.  Rohit.”

**

Jane

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.

Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five 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 has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

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Asking God for things and Manifesting in the light of Matthew 7

‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:’

I love the Bible. It is an astonishing book, being both a spiritual and literary classic. Perhaps there are about six or seven books which are both. I am a Hindu – Integral Yoga – but I love the Bible. You can get absorbed in the language – the King James version only for me, thank you very much –  and the sheer power that flows from it. Yes there are appalling passages in it, but almost all old scriptures suffer from the flaws of their human transmitters. Who cares about the rubbish? When you are a Yogi, your internal energy knows what is enduring truth and what are specific cultural limitations of a previous time.

I am trying at present to manifest a few things so i was looking up the techniques to get off the rust. In one of those by now normal co-incidences I first stumble upon words of The Mother, Mira Alfassa, shakti of Sri Aurobindo, and she stated categorically that you can ask anything you want! There is no question of appropriateness or shame, you want something you ask for it. The Divine may delay, or in some cases refuse, for your spiritual good but there was no sin in asking. Indeed unless you asked, it could not flow towards you! That was the occult rule.

Then I read Paramahamsa Yogananda saying we are all children of the Divine Mother and Father and we have the full right to ask for anything we want! He went to the extent of saying we should harass God as a child does its parents, for we have the right to do so. Again, the advice was to ask with full Power and Intent.  Now this sounded very familiar, this insistence on asking to accomplish, so I dug out my Bible and began flipping thru Matthew and sure enough there in Chapter 7: 7-11 is a comprehensive toolkit on the process of manifestation.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

There you have it, the full process. There is nothing about ‘deserving’ in there, in fact Jesus knows full well most of us do not – ‘being evil’ – but God will give if you ask Him.

This is just about the most fantastic thing ever.

He is saying this after seemingly excluding people –

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

But that is a yogic perspective. Some aspects of power and spirit are to be communicated only when people are ready. As I am fond of saying{according to my students}, “There are no secrets in Yoga but there is appropriateness.” To get what you desire however comes with no strings on the part of the Divine – you just have to ask. Jesus is a great favorite amongst Yogis for he is spiritual kin to them

29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Yogis care only about personal experience and ability, not theology. If the books match their experience – they usually do – well and good. If not too bad for the books. Yoga is practically unique in all spiritual traditions in acknowledging evolution, of techniques, of Consciousness and it never puts a full stop to possibility. The living words of a Master take precedence over books.

So I am going to make a nuisance of myself asking!

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five 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 has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga