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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Ekapada Shiva – an unusual Yogic form

jambukeswaram3

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

 

 

 Ekapada_shiva

 

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

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

 

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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.

 

 Ekapada

 

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

 

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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/

Shiva Shakti in the head

Shiva shakti

The two hemispheres of the brain are in Yogic terms, controlled by the energy constructs we call Shiva and Shakti. This image demonstrates in visual expression what had been hitherto part of the oral tradition. It is a stunning image, and replete with Kundalini yoga symbolism. Since it has come into the public domain I will explain some of this ancient vidya or process. Not all of it. Some rahasayas, spiritual secrets have to be discovered through Shrama – toil! Those are the rules so I make no apologies for reticence. What is safe to reveal I will.

The left hemisphere controls the rational logical thinking aspect of the personality as well as more or less the right side of the body. It is mental and deductive, planning and hypothesizing. These are supposed to be masculine vibrations, in the sense of Yang, not gender roles. The right side of the brain is intuition and creativity, instinct, feeling, the sense of joy and wonder and the right side of the human frame. These are the feminine vibrations in the sense of Yin. So the traditional Yogic take on which impulse is dominant on a particular side of the brain was well grounded.

In symbolic terms this image is a dense and rich harvest of yogic communication. I do not know the artist to give credit where it is due but I suspect it is Harish Johari. The style and depth of knowledge seems to favor that conclusion. In astrological terms, the Sun controls the right eye, the Moon the left. Shiva is the Sun who is Shiva, “Akshayam param shivam” which can be read in both ways simultaneously. The sun like Shiva is the guru, the source of life which is literally as well as metaphorically true. The Moon has famously been the lord of emotion and hence Devi controls it and the left eye. Shiva wears the moon on his head – Chandrashekara – to symbolize his complete integration of emotions as well as to stress that his responses come from awareness, not instinct. Devi’s head naturally pulses with the Sun. Her power of impulse and instinct is not unaware; it is suffused with the shakti of evolving consciousness, it flows from the Source.

The left nostril connects to the Ida nadi or lunar channel for the Kundalini Shakti to flow. It is cooling, calming, intuitive and creative, traditionally known as feminine. Hence it is depicted as cool waves or water, which is pretty accurate as a sensation of breathing in thru that nostril once you are deep into kundalini or pranayama.  The right nostril connects to the Pingala nadi or solar channel and is fiery, energetic action oriented and masculine. The breaths flow like fire, generating heat and energy for action. As is clear from the imagery and all the teaching of the tradition, neither aspect can subsist independently or without active support from the other vibration. They are not separate, they cannot be separated either. Life is troubled when such futile attempts are made to privilege one side or the other.

The erect serpent at the center of the brows is the fully active Ajneya chakra. It is also one of the points where the Ida and Pingala cross each other forming a grand marma or spiritual junction of power. It is the highest point at which you can keep the kundalini energy in waking consciousness and also carry out your work physically. It also confers a lot of power and occult ability as well as wisdom. If the Kundalini rises higher then you go into deeper Samadhi, At this juncture waking and physical action consciousness, including talking and writing, cannot be maintained together. The inverted triangle at the forehead is the spiritual Yoni, the Matrix of creation of generation, distinct from the lower yoni that is controlled by the svadhishtan chakra and is the Eros impulse. When your kundalini rises to this point you can send a surge of energy into the world and what you wish is manifested. It is a process requiring great responsibility and it is fortunate it is beyond most people! Even to keep the energy at ajenya is fearsomely difficult. Even higher than that the kundalini rises to experience the blue pearl, Sun and Moon conjunct, about which I will hold my peace. It is important  – that is all I will say.

aztec ardha

Shiva is indeed the Purusha, Man Primal also known as aware consciousness while Devi is Prakriti, Woman as the Activating Force, the dynamic principle of the Universe, the unfolding action of life that takes place across the backdrop of Witness Consciousness that is Shiva. To be Integral which is the point of Yoga is to have both aspects function optimally, in harmony and as required rather than in simpleminded alternation or even lopsided dominance of any one side at a time. To live life privileging one side is to make an immense blunder.  The Ardhanarishwara, the Masculine- Feminine, Shiva and Shakti merged, united, Integral has always been the ultimate goal and aspiration of the Human Endeavor in the culture.     

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 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.

Sri Aurobindo – the Brahmarishi of Evolutionary Spirituality

aurobindo by Jane

Sri Aurobindo was the most prolific writer-guru (68 published volumes of densely brilliant erudition) that India ever produced – until Rajneesh. And yet, curiously he said and wrote what he had to communicate in just six and a half years  – between August 1914 and January 1921 – and then never wrote a word and almost never spoke for the rest of his very long life. This sort of contradiction was characteristic of the bizarre spiritual drama that was Aurobindo’s life.

To begin with, nobody was less likely to end up as a guru, far less the first Indian guru with a great western following. When he was born in 1872, his England educated physician father had totally swallowed the Raj notion that India was a degenerate nation while Britain was the pinnacle of human glory.

The good doctor then attempted a project that curdles the blood even today to think about. He decided he was going to deracinate his son – he would make his son English to the point of caricature. He began with the name, and it was seven year old Ackroyd Ghose who was sent off England for schooling. The lad had been kept in a weird bubble of induced Englishness, his only language being English and with no notion that he was living in India amongst Indians. He sailed with specific instructions from the doting parent that he was not to make the acquaintance of any Indian or undergo any Indian influence”. He further added, in what would become on of life’s celebrated ironies, that ‘his son learns nothing about any religion whatsoever.’

Dr. Ghose was obviously ignorant of history, for the last time this experiment was tried in India, Prince Siddhartha ended up by becoming the Buddha! In the minds of his followers that is what became of Ackroyd too, the heat and pressure exerted merely becoming a cosmic process to provide the glittering diamond that is Aurobindo.

For a while it seemed that the doctor’s project was succeeding. Ackroyd ended up one of the 20th century’s most overeducated young men. He was the supernova of Forsters’ King’s College at Cambridge pocketing any academic prize he condescended to contest for. He relaxed by composing poetry – in English, Latin and Ancient Greek. Dante and Goethe and Cervantes were read in their original languages as well as any French writer worth the name. This formidable erudition once saved him from arrest as a dangerous revolutionary later in life in India. The old-school tie investigating officer was flabbergasted that this man was reading Homer and Virgil in the original – and to his mind such people could not be conspiring against British rule.

Young Ackroyd went in for the Indian Civil Service exam, then the height of Indian aspiration. However he refused to show up for the mandatory horse-riding test, the customary perch from where the sahibs administered India. It caused unprecedented consternation, and in later years, was seen for what it was – the first rejection of the West by an Indian who was still alien to his people.

The experimental parent died of shock on hearing the mistaken news that his son’s returning ship had sunk. Ackroyd landed in India and, free of parental shackles, set about acquiring Indian ness with the same superb efficiency he displayed in England. Bengali – his mother’s tongue, though never his mother tongue – was first and then Marathi, Hindi, Gujarathi (the languages of courts he served in as royal secretaries) followed. Sanskrit gave him the key to all of India’s religious, cultural and spiritual treasures – and it forever changed his ideas too. He got a job at the court of Baroda which was not onerous; it gave him ample time for spiritual practices. Through in all ways he began to practice up to five hours of pranayama a day! This had significant effects in activating many artistic aspects of his personality, which till then was limited to literature. He began to develop the first of many siddhis also but he was clear that the breaths alone would not suffice in his spiritual goals.

At this stage he met a Maharashtrian Brahmin  named Lele who he recognized had access to a deeper level of consciousness though he was certainly less intelligent and knowledgeable than the student. The instruction was breathtakingly simple. “ As you sit in meditation you will see thoughts trying to enter your mind. Prevent them from doing so and cast them out.” Aurobindo had a deep capacity to obey, which was what made him such a gigantic leader, and he followed what he thought were quixotic instructions without wavering. Within three days he was in deep Samadhi and his attainments were becoming magnificent. He experienced deep Vedantic non-dual states which aroused anxiety in the devotional Lele who felt they were diabolical states of consciousness. Aurobindo refused to degrade his Truth in such a manner and they had a falling out. He was never satisfied with the classical realizations of Yoga and pushed the bounds of Yoga in a manner that had not been done for two millennia. He ended up rejuvenating and raising Yoga, consciously evolving it to meet the new circumstances of the Yuga. This will be unpleasant music to most schools and teachers , but Aurobindo went so far ahead on the yogic path that most of the universe is still playing catch up. But this was still in the future. He had a long row to hoe as yet.

Far from being on the bottom of the heap, India was the only hope for a world gone mad, precisely because India was not like the rest of the world. The British philosopher, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson would later write in his book On the Civilizations of the East that “The real antithesis is not between East and West, but between India and the rest of the world”. Ackroyd would accept that conclusion, but to him that was a mark of distinction, of honour. Meanwhile, the young Ackroyd had rechristened himself Aurobindo and began a political career that was characteristically brilliant and short-lived like all his other efforts.

Bande Mataram, Jugantar, his newspapers became colossal headaches for the Raj as his editorials were subversive to the point of genius, but sedition could never be proved. Incidentally these editorials served as a sort of blueprint for India’s freedom struggle. Social unity, the cause of the motherland, eradication of untouchability and discrimination against women, non-cooperation, the boycott of foreign goods, national schools to instill national values in education, democratic principles of government – they are all to be found there. His book ‘On Nationalism’, a collection of editorials also foreshadows the belief that social action without spiritual underpinnings is futile – an idea Gandhi used to great effect. Gandhi even offered Aurobindo the leadership of the Congress party and country if he forsook seclusion, but Aurobindo refused to meet Gandhi in a sensational snub that still embarrasses those who know and try to hush it up. Aurobindo’s mass popularity was such any time he so chose, he could have all India follow him in a freedom struggle. However he was on to bigger game.

India’s freedom was assured, or so his spiritual intuition told him. That thus became a side issue, albeit important. What of the freedom of all human souls? And was he, Aurobindo, going to turn away from this challenge for the easier task of freeing India?

The road to this staggering conclusion was paved by the British. Exasperated by this hornet, they shut him up in Alipur jail for a year to await trial. Aurobindo, always the demon of action, plunged wholesale into his Yoga practices and honing up on Indian scripture. In jail he ascended spiritual planes at a rapid clip – and was soon stuck. He had no data, no guides as to how to go forward. He stated that the spirit of  Swami Vivekananda came forward to help him, as there was nobody living who could guide him at his level of attainment. Aurobindo was refreshingly free of the display-humility so prized in India. He knew he was India’s genius, and that was that. (He did however highly esteem Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and never spoke disparagingly of anybody unless provoked) The Alipur jail experience confirmed him in his new vocation, as well as in his new opinion that he had made a grave error in fighting the West with its own tools, its own concepts and its own rules of engagement. In this new philosophy of evolutionary consciousness, even evolutionary Enlightenment that he named Integral Yoga, he discerned that India had a catalytic role to perform. From now on he would fight at a plane India was naturally preeminent – the spiritual.

He moved to the French territory of Pondicherry, like Plato unwilling to let the British sin a second time against philosophy. This was where the torrent of books was let loose, commentaries on every scripture possible, as well as the longest epic poem (and spiritual evolutionary handbook) in English, Savitri. He would begin comparing Valmiki and Vyasa – authors of the two great Indian epics, demonstrate some of the finest literary criticism possible and abruptly break off the project because it was all clear in his mind now and he did not need to put it in words. Incidentally Aurobindo broke the record of P.G. Wodehouse who had the largest writer’s vocabulary in the English language. The previous champion was Shakespeare. He also articulated what i consider to be the greatest sentence in the English language. “All life is Yoga.”
’nuff said.

419930_196670147131304_210116128_n Aurobindo was what was called an automatic writer in his day and what is called a channel today. He was in the grip of a higher force that relentlessly drove him on for up to 10 hours each day, and requiring no revisions at the end. He was demonstrating what it meant to be a seer once again, he saw rather than thought these things. Of his writings the only real way to comprehend their range and original brilliance is to go the texts themselves. They are masterful expositions of the life spiritual and the quality of English is dazzling in a euphemism loving, Net-contracted Esperanto world we live in. While in Pondicherry, he picked up the 4 major languages of South India – and the consequent access to the respective cultures, but this was all par for the course by then. In his writings he was seeking to synthesize all the spiritual ways before him; to be exact to find a ‘third position” synthesis between the thesis -antithesis of India-West.

The philosophy was primarily a Vedantic one, with generous dollops of Yogic practices and the byways of the Tantra, and hanging from a fundamental evolutionary theory which held that man as he now exists is but an ongoing process towards the attainment of the Superman with Super consciousness. He named this ‘Integral Yoga’.

This was dynamite even from an Indian perspective. For one, he openly proclaimed that India had erred in divorcing matter from spirit, and the body got good press for the first time in almost a thousand years. Then he formulated the concept of a supreme Personal-Impersonal God, above and beyond the non-sensory realization of the Absolute or Brahman. This Super God, if you will, was the Purushottamma and he brought in his erudition and the Bhagavad-Gita to validate this Purushottamma. His Essays on the Gita provide further light on this topic as well as his commentaries on the Upanishads.

Then he sprang a further surprise by providing the most brilliant and consistent explanation as to why the Vedas are the supreme scriptures of Hinduism, even if nobody reads them! Rejecting all notions of the Vedas being nature-worshipping hymns by migrating hordes, he laid out The Secret of the Veda in the book of the same name. For the first time in 2000 years an accomplished and practicing mystic was revealing the inner working of a complex spiritual path. Naturally nobody believed him. The shift of ideas required would be too disconcerting and anyway, Western scholars said they were nature hymns, and that, as we all know, should be conclusive. It seems a bit thick that a practicing Spiritual Master is told he is wrong about his own verifiable experiences with his own scripture while academics and scholars know better, but the world is not a very sane place to begin with. Taken all together, Aurobindo’s writings are nothing short of a revolution in India’s philosophy.

404107_10151171868262239_833656121_n But Aurobindo tired of this because he had a new idea to follow. In part he was now free to follow this, because he had a partner to shoulder the burden of spiritual needs for the inevitable community that had sprung round them. This person was Mirra Richard, better known as the Mother, and it is inconceivable today to realize what havoc Aurobindo caused in India when he declared this Frenchwoman a Master and his equal partner in spiritual work. For Indians have always assumed, and most them still do assume, that a Western human can only be a disciple. Mastership is India’s monopoly, the key as to why the land is ‘superior’ to the West, even if miserable in almost everything else. And now a white person was being set up above all the innately spiritual Indians. A few of them never recovered from this depressing comedown and mutterings against the Mother and her Western ways was a constant.

Aurobindo felt free now to take on an ‘experiment’ that was either galactic effrontery or unthinkable bravery. He proposed, as a realized being, to consciously bring about the next transition, or the next stage in human evolution. To direct evolution consciously, even Aurobindo was aware that nobody had ever dared such a thing before. Nevertheless that was his goal now and he pursued it with no distractions and almost no other thought from November 24, 1926 to his death in 1950. He lived in his rooms, rarely visible to the public, speaking almost as little. Fasts for almost a month, sleep deprivation, endless pacing and reportedly endless writings – though these seem to have merged back into the cosmos once they cleared up whatever points he was exploring.

His disciples say that he made possible the descent of the Super consciousness. What is beyond doubt is that he created a new template, a new pathway in the morph genetic fields of spirituality because even today there are spiritual masters in both the West as well as India who say their only work is bringing light-energy to the world. Aurobindo’s ashram also began new trends in conservative India. This little talk I gave in April 2013, on the anniversary of his reaching Pondicherry touches a few interesting points about his myriad contributions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nr0ZJ1VjZ4

Women could join, then families and finally schools which imparted the best education. This template too is copied faithfully. The Mother would go on to create Auroville – an attempt to create Utopia based on practical considerations.

 Meanwhile Aurobindo, was being visited by Aldous Huxley and the South American poet Gabriela Mistral nominated him for a Nobel Prize. That last would have been a curious triumph for Ackroyd but it never came to pass.

Aurobindo himself died in 1950. He is revered as a Big Brain, and enough pedestals have been put up to honor him and ensure that reverence circumvents the need to examine his revolutionary thought. Aurobindo, for all that he even wrote the ‘The Foundations of Indian Culture’, is too universal for Indian tastes, too intellectual and active for a bhakti-passive nation. As always he seemed to be ahead of his time. Perhaps another couple of hundred years and some more descent of Consciousness will do the trick.

 

    samadhi of sri aurobindo and mother


I wrote this in 1999! A few additions have been made. The sketch of Aurobindo is by my friend Jane Adams, artist on The Sacred India Tarot. It has been used all over the Net without attribution! This is the joint samadhi of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

 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 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.

 

Kita Brahmari Nyaya the Law of Caterpillar and Butterfly in Yoga

Kita brahmari nyaya epitome

 Yoga has unique observations on the psychological process of change and about the mind and its power. “We become what we focus attention/emotion on” This is the Law of Caterpillar and Butterfly, or the Kita {the slug} Brahmari{the insect} Nyaya{ the law}. Buckminister Fuller  once mused that “ ‘There is nothing in a caterpillar which tells us that it will become a butterfly.” According to the Yogic tradition the caterpillar whilst in the cocoon meditates so intensely upon the form -the rupa- of the butterfly that it transforms from an ugly slimy crawling thing to an actualization  of beauty that takes flight! As a metaphor for the spiritual process and its goals this is just about perfect.

Yet Yoga insists this is not a symbolic statement but a literal truth. By intense focus upon a desired locus, human or divine, we are transmuted into the thing itself or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof! This is the theory behind Bhakti Yoga. Constant contemplation of, and mediation upon, the form or rupa of the deva or guru changes you forever. First you imbibe the qualities, then they infuse you till your very physical appearance alters, to say nothing of your personality and abilities. In India at least it is very common to meet disciples who have spent years with the guru coming to resemble him to an astonishing degree.

frawley 1

The great yogi and teacher David Frawley for instance looks just like Ganapati Muni who was an associate of Ramana Mahrishi!

Considering one is American and the other was a South Indian Brahmin and many years and no actual contact separate them, one concludes that there is something to this theory.

 7-manu-indiatarot

Paramahamsa Yogananda once said that he meditated upon the cocoon a couple of days before it was due to burst and he found there is a stage when the cocoon is suffused with light, everything becoming practically liquid light, before it congeals into the shape and form of the butterfly. The mystical artist Alex Grey seems to hold similar views from the evidence of this painting.

kita brahmari nyaya alex grey style

Light of course is the Prima Materia of Yoga, the foundation of life and its evolving cause.

The Daosit Master Chuang Tsu once had a dream that he was a butterfly flitting about. He ruminated on a consequent dilemma in front of his students ” Am I Chuang Tsu dreaming he is a butterfly or am I a butterfly dreaming he is Chuang Tsu?” The power of the Brahmari to provoke spiritual processes is ancient therefore.

Modern science has given us this scan.

Chrysalis_1

I leave it to individual judgments whether it confirms or refutes this theory.

In terms of spiritual growth and even simple change for the better, it is an intriguing path. Intense contemplation married to emotional intensity brings about the desired results. It sounds like all the manifestation systems out there and perhaps with good reason.

Sarvam Shivamayam!

Addendum on August 13th, 2013

The blog got a massively popular response but the best one was on Facebook from Spiritual Teacher Shivo Osho. I include his exchange with me here

Shivo Osho Rohit, I went through your blog and I faced the same dilemma which I have always pondered. I would request you to respond to my questions. You have mentioned “By intense focus upon a desired locus, human or divine, we are transmuted into the thing itself or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof! This is the theory behind Bhakti Yoga. Constant contemplation of, and mediation upon, the form or rupa of the deva or guru changes you forever. First you imbibe the qualities, then they infuse you till your very physical appearance alters, to say nothing of your personality and abilities”. Well, I must say what you had said is true. However, I cant understand this as the peak truth or peak realization. For me, the key question is “How do you know what to focus upon? What you want to become, does it come from your spirit longing or from your ego desire to become like someone? Can you really find out what your spirit longs for, till ego is still the driving force? Isnt it of utmost importance to first understand what your true nature is, before trying to become someone?” Also, about Bhakti Yoga, I have heard that disciple becomes like guru and I have also seen many examples of that in my own life. But again I fail to understand this. For me the key questions are, “Isnt it more important to be devoted to life / divine rather than to your guru? Isnt is more important to discover your unique existence rather than become what your guru is? Doesnt life want you to discover who you are and not try to become the photo copy of your guru? What will make life celebrate, you becoming like your guru or you discovering your own unique place in the cosmic scheme of things?”

Rohit Arya I totally agree with you! I was merely reporting the traditional perspective.It has not been said in the blog that this is the peak truth, merely this is how it works. I add here that the best gurus have disciples who are authentic originals. The next level have shisyas with great similarities while the least attractive are the clone factories. The longing to be like someone perhaps comes from the perception that they are more evolved than you? The idea seems to be that some improvement is better than none. Many schools will say that the guru is the full experience of Life so becoming like him is actually the peak. I do not think so but that’s whats they hold. They will consider your perspective to be droha – impertinence and sin! I am of your views on this with the small point that this was one of the ways yoga enabled people to manifest change in desirable manners. It works but is not complete in itself. All skills are needed on the path.

Shivo Osho Thanks Rohit, for such an amazing answer…
Shivo Osho Rohit, I spent a long time in an organization, where being total gurubhakt was the ultimate sadhna and gurudroh was ultimate sin. However, my realization is that ultimate sin is not to listen to life,what it has intended for you. Life never repeats itself, it has not even made two leaves of the same tree exactly same, so why would it want you to be exactly like guru? I realize the true guru is the one who inspires his disciple to tread on the path to discover his own uniqueness. True bhakti is to discover your own unique place in the grand cosmic scheme and fulfill that without interference from ego.
Rohit Arya I do not have a single thing to add to this! I concur absolutely.

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.

Rohit Arya on The Path of Opposition to attain Liberation

Yoga, being what the Japanese call sugoi – both awesome and weird at the same time – has explored all possible methods to reach God or attain liberation. The strangest however is to pick a fight with God and get him to kill you! Called the path of Vipareetha Karani – oppositional action – or the Krodha Marga – the Wrath Path –  it is a peculiar wrinkle in the yogic scroll. Yet it is also consistent with Yoga’s central thesis, all paths, all actions lead to liberation if performed with awareness.

The common examples for this strange path do not rouse confidence in being able to repeat such actions. For the teachers usually fall back upon mythology and cite the usual suspects – Jaya and Vijaya. These worthies were the doorkeepers of Vaikunta – Vishnu’s heaven – and one day they offended some Rishis, who are enlightened sages and also have very touchy temperaments judging by all the evidence! Jaya and Vijaya were cursed to be cast out of heaven and be born multiple times in the three worlds. Birth in such worlds means the accumulation of karma and possible devolution of the soul, forgetting God and the true nature of the Self – i.e. become like the rest of us – so this was serious. Upon consulting Vishnu as to the catastrophe which had visited them, He gave them a mitigating  offer. Many lifetimes as good souls devoted to Him, or 3 incarnations as terrible demons, who would be killed each time by Vishnu. Naturally they choose to become demons.

The late Aghori master, Vimalananda  had a theory that there is nothing so fortunate as being cursed by a Rishi. They are Powers who have evolved even beyond the gods, the devas, so being noticed by them, being acted upon by their Shakti, as in a curse, will always end up well for you. In the interim it may seem like a torrid time, but the conclusion proves you have rapidly evolved! This seems to hold good. Jaya and Vijaya kept incarnating as beings who literally ruled the Universe for a time overwhelming the gods! Such power, glory, wealth luxury and success had never been attained by living beings ever before or since. It is a little hard to feel sorry for them. These are aspirational stories at this point of the 21st.

The first round they incarnate as the Asura brothers Hirnayaksha and Hiranyakashipu and have to be taken out by Vishnu in his Varaha{Boar} and Narasimha{Man-Lion} avatars. They completely dominate the universe before their ends. The second round is as the Rakshasha brothers Ravana and Kumbhakarna and this time Rama has to finish them. As usual they rule the universe in unparalleled splendor before the end. The third time they do not get so much power, they are the somewhat nonentities of the Mahabharatha, Shishupala and Dantavakara, who are only unrelated humans under demonic spirit possession, but still rich and powerful Kings until Krishna puts them down.

Given that in each incarnation the Jaya persona tries to steal Vishnu’s spouse – Hiranyaksha spirits away Bhudevi the Earth goddess, Ravana steals Sita who is her incarnation, and not wanting a repeat Krishna runs away with Rukmini before she could be forcibly married to Shishupala – given this scenario, one wonders what the original sin was. Making eyes at the wife of the boss, who just happens to be the support of the Universe, the rishis seemed to know something. I am just saying. It is merely a theory, and more psychologically consistent. The Hiranyakahsipu/Kumbhakarna/Dantavakra who was Vijaya never had this trouble with desire for another man’s wife – in fact he was always famously happily married and after his stint as Prahalada’s father and being torn apart on the Lap of Narasimha, he spent the next incarnation basically in Yogic trance,{mistaken as sleep} as Kumbhakarna, and Dantavakra, we never know why or what, he is just quietly and efficiently killed by Krishna when he tries to assassinate him.

So these are not hopeful stories for mere mortals. Such a path may be apt for supernatural beings but how is it relevant to us? Ramakrishana was the first to say that the anger they had against Vishnu concentrated their awareness upon nothing but him. Even great devotees did not have such single minded unwavering focus upon God! To be remembered is what God wishes and he rewards that, though the nasty acts they performed have to be paid for with a violent death and collapse of their empires. The Sufis hold similar ideas, one famous poem beginning, “I shall learn devotion from Shaitan…” In their myths, God invited the angels to pay respect to Adam after creating him but Iblis or Shaitan, – Satan- refused to do so. The theologians hold it was his pride; he was a being of Fire, while Adam was merely of Earth, a denser, more trapped level of consciousness.

The Sufis say however that he was standing for a deeper principle out of his devotion – one should bow only before God! They even go to the extent of saying that he sustains himself in his exile with the memory of God’s banishing word – “GO!” These are deep waters indeed, but Goethe has his Mephistopheles present himself as,

Ein Teil von jener Kraft,
Die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.

Part of that power which would
Do evil constantly and constantly does good.

––Mephistopheles, lines 1335–6.

So the Vipareetha Karani seems to be an intuitive understanding of mystics.

The incomparable Ramana also spoke about this ‘God wants your attention’ trope. He began by saying that it is very dangerous to curse or abuse or wish ill upon anybody, but especially spiritual people. If you abuse an enlightened man then any negative residual karma within him attaches itself to you, delighted to have a chance to manifest, instead of withering away! If you wish to gripe and grumble and be harsh then do so with God – he only wants you to be aware of him and the sheer intensity of your communication will be taken note of, not your childish behavior! This is hugely hopeful. It also indicates the unique relationship Hindus have with their gods, you can love them and also abuse them. Fear is practically nonexistent. Tantra has an incredible saying in it – “To worship a God you must become a God.” You must raise your internal energies and consciousness until it vibrates at the exact frequency of the energy being called a deva. Then you are transformed by en-theos, the god within. Of course, self -delusion is a danger. So is derailment because power has come into your hands. But as these stories show, the universe has a mechanism to fix that, it is called Karma. Every living thing in the universe is subject; there is no injustice in the end.

Jaggi Vasudev is a great proponent of ‘Intensity’ and he says it is understandable that for most people being angry is their highest experience of Intensity. Many yogis deliberately cultivate this fiery side of their nature, it transforms the inner systems and leads to liberation. So the point of the Vipareetha Karanai is not to become a cosmic gangster, but to Intensify oneself until the Universe has no choice but to give you what you want. The so-called wrath path, the Krodha Marga is therefore one of Consistent Intensity. Great rishis have terrible tempers as a byproduct of their intensity, but their fundamental nature is compassion. The Golden brothers, {Hiranya means golden}, did spectacular penance, actually Tapasya which means “to raise the internal heat” tapasya  described as being beyond the capabilities of the gods, unprecedented. So too with Ravana and Kumbhakarna.

Ravana is probably the most accomplished person in all mythology; he wrote books on medicine, music and dance, invented the Rudra Veena, was a full Master of Vedic lore, and also wrote the Shiva Tandava Strotram, which may be the most popular devotional hymn ever written for Shiva and is a masterpiece of Yoga, being basically a necklace of bija mantra initiations. The best conclusion to puja for Shiva is supposed to be the recital of the Shiva Tandava Strotram. It is only in India that such things are possible!

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

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