Ashwini Kumara – the Swift Gods of Light

sita-ashwins-staves-version-2

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/

Bheesma Pitamaha is a very odd kettle of fish

sacred-india-tarot-8-of-arrows

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

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

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

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

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

The_Death_of_Bhishma

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

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

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

His blogs can be accessed here

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

Ekapada Shiva – an unusual Yogic form

jambukeswaram3

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

 

 

 Ekapada_shiva

 

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

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

 

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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.

 

 ekapada-shiva_ap1

 

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

 

 

Sarvam Shivamayam!

 

 

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

 

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

 

His blogs can be accessed here

 

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

 

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

 

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

When the ‘student’ is ready the Master perspires…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarvam Shivamayam!

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

His blogs can be accessed here

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

Of hustle and mendicancy in teaching spirituality

touch

Teaching spiritual processes in urban India has become such a sad business. I have begun teaching my Yoga only in April this year and some interactions are surreal. There are too many people peddling wares purporting to be spiritual. Which is an issue but not as important as the fact that they are dependent upon those things to survive. This makes them desperate. The purchasers of such wares – they are rarely students – thus get an inordinate position of power. This is destroying the credibility of serious teachers as well as serious processes as the marketplace logic that prevails ensures a wheedling fawning mendicancy when it is not outright hustle. Those who think they are Seekers tend to act from that assumption. It is pretty obvious most of them have never met or engaged with a real Yogi, they would have got a sharp wake up call. It is even more obvious that this cringing marketing of supposedly valuable and life transforming processes is a disaster.

So pervasive has the hustle become that people engage from a place of profound suspicion and disdain. I do not market except by accident – all new students are word of mouth – but the significant majority of them come with this weird attitude – “I have money, now sell me, you sad case.” They have been educated to be so by the prevailing ethos. When I refuse to shrink or seek alms, or apologize for my prices, all of which seem to be the prevailing norm, they are astounded. Some of them are offended. The prevailing power dynamic is so askew that cancelling appointments more than once and expecting you to accommodate them seems to be the norm. When I refuse to tolerate such misbehavior there is incomprehension. What, no gratitude for the crumbs I deign to dole out at my convenience? The second cancellation is when I drop the person. This actually bewilders them. Such are the realities.

The other commonplace is the personal meeting. Everybody seems to want one. Quite other than the fact that it indicates you place no credibility in the friend who recommended me there are other issues. They expect to be wooed. They want to be called up and persuaded, pleaded with. When told ‘this is the date, place and time, turn up,” there is shock. After four books, as many ongoing blogs and over 100 teaching videos, what further credibility will a personal meeting confer? But the norm is to bow and scrape, to submit oneself to judgment and scrutiny.  So now I quote a stiff fee for the personal meeting and that is the end of that. This entitlement to the time and knowledge of others even before a single shekel has changed hands is very educative. Teachers have to insist on their dignity. It is not only for the famous.

People are not used to be being told “You are doing so many processes, why add one more?” Strange people abound; they have taken diksha from as many as five gurus. While they are disturbed, and need therapy not sadhana, what sort of vetting or questioning is being done on the part of these organizations that give away initiations en masse?  How are the basic rules of the Yogic traditions contravened with such insouciance? Since such a situation can be explained only by the prevalence of money grubbing, the caveat emptor mindset is not entirely wrong. What about the karma involved? Does anybody care? Is anybody aware?

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/

No, I do not have trikala jnana

red rohit

The yogic tradition has been swamped by supernatural expectations, and teachers are not firm enough about this foolishness. The sorry state of spiritual teaching in India today was illumined yet one more time in an interaction I had with a young friend. It was very revealing, and disconcerting too.

This young man from Kerala found my videos on Youtube and got in touch with me. He was bursting with enthusiasm and unrealistic ideas about the spiritual path. And a million questions. I would answer what I could and had advised him to begin a serious course of pranayama and meditation. A few days ago I discovered from his Facebook page that he had taken an Art of Living Course from the main man himself. When I mentioned that I was glad he had done so the young boy had a most incredible reaction. He thought I had found out by using the fabled Yogic power of Trikala Jnana – the insight of the 3 aspects of time, past present and future! I was stunned at the sheer magnitude of misconception. Of course I set him right instantly and called him an idiot and a silly boy to boot, which I could have avoided perhaps.

This preference for the supernatural explanation in all things over the simple and obvious is one of the major plagues in Indian spirituality. Trikala Jnana is rather like a unicorn farting rainbows, an eccentric mix of credulity and childishness that unfortunately has too much purchase in the popular mind. If at all any Yogis possess it, they are sure to be surly old men in the Himalayas avoiding human company. Let me add I am a hard core Yogi and I know siddhis are real. I myself possess Samyama to a certain degree, the ability to focus attention upon a subject or issue or person and know what needs knowing. It is a huge drain on Shakti, and physically wipes you out, so I don’t play that game at all. If it activates spontaneously, as opposed to willfully and by desire, the impact is lessened but I don’t go there if I have any say in the matter. And sometimes, when I sit in meditation, fragrance comes off the body – my students report this-which is just about the most pathetic and useless siddhi one can imagine. They get excited, I get irritated, for it does not help to move one step on the path of evolutionary spirituality and Integral Yoga. Sri Aurobindo had recommended learning whatever you could about siddhis to their fullest extent and then recognizing their irrelevance in ultimate terms. That is the right attitude, but way too many teachers encourage credulity in seekers.

If you are a spiritual teacher then people don’t want you to teach, they want miracles. This is the sad and obnoxious truth in too many contexts. I look the part, expectations as to how a teacher ought to be, shaven head, rudrakshas, articulate and knowledgeable; ergo, miraculous powers also reside within. Nothing clarified the sheer danger and temptation I am likely to run into as much as this incident. Here was an opportunity to achieve PD, psychological dominance, over an uncritical young man functioning from the foibles of his culture. He is from Kerala, fully literate state, English educated, not at all lacking in brains, but the social consensus about yogis and miracles was too much for him to shake off. Were I unscrupulous, trawling for gullible disciples and donations, this was child’s play made easy.

Teachers do not come down hard enough on this. They do not stress that evolving oneself is the greatest miracle possible. We have all experienced the other game, grooming the unwary and impressing them with supposedly miraculous abilities of the Guru. The disciples chat you up, discover interesting nuggets, searching for insecurities and weaknesses, convey it to the chief who then puts on a worried and compassionate expression, asking some variant of this. “ Is there somebody from Jhumritalaiya who has recently experienced losses or deaths? All will be well.” This is beyond contempt, but it is a shell game that endures because it is so simple and works so well. My point is that serious teachers do not push for the use of Buddhi, intellect and wisdom, as much as they could or even should. Hyper-enthusiastic students will always perceive miracles and marvels, but at least the teacher should not encourage this in any form whatsoever.

Spiritual evolution is a serious and vital business and should not be cluttered up by medieval rubbish about supernatural abilities.

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

Kirtimukha – The Face of Glory

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IN many Indian temples you will find over the main gate, or over the door frame of the inner sanctum, a monstrous disembodied head glaring or grinning down at you.  This is the Kirtimukha, face of glory.  Our myth seeks to explain how this seeming incongruity came to occupy this respected position

In the Indian mythological systems, the asuras (demons) are cousins of the gods, and indeed are created from the same cosmic material.  They are demonic however, because they identify the Self with the body.  All their cosmic power is perverted in finding ever fresher ways to satisfy the material consciousness.  That gets them in self-destructive trouble over the long term, though in the short term they create some trouble of their own.

“This situation actually works for the good of all sentient beings in the universe, as the asuras are infinitely more powerful than the ‘gods’ – a situation that the Norse divinities knew only too well – and if they were more disciplined or wise, they could have taken over heaven on a permanent basis.  As it is, the asuras are always a chaotic force in the evolving universe.

“One such asura suddenly got it into his mind that since he was the strongest being in the universe, he deserved the most beautiful woman existing.  This sort of logic is typical asura, but for them to think is to act.  He turned up at the abode of Siva the great God himself, and peremptorily demanded possession of Siva’s wife Parvati.  Now Parvati is the Great Goddess, and this was stupidity on a scale that even the asura should have quailed at.

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“Siva being pure consciousness, merely projected back at the asura a crystallization of his own insatiable desires.  This new entity was far worse than anything the asura had seen.  It was the living manifestation of a raw hunger, a world devouring flame that needed more, ever more, and was still left empty.  The immensity of his own endless desire was now in front, and the asura turned and ran.  The new demon chased him, intent on eating him up, devastating and devouring all that was between him and his prey.  Peril breeds perspective, and the asura realised that his only hope was Siva.  According to Indian mythology, you cannot refuse to grant quarter and protection if it is asked for.  So now Siva had one suitably chastened asura on his hands – as well as an enormous problem that seemed determined to eat up the universe.

“The Hunger was accepting of Siva’s mercy, but he had a problem.  ’What do I eat now?‘  He was brought into being to solve a crisis, and now his own existence was jeopardised – which reflected poorly on the God.  Siva came up with the sort of Trickster solution so beloved of India – ‘Why don’t you eat yourself?’

“A god’s word is worth following, even if it seems senseless and destructive, and with faith in the Lord the demon did just that.  He began to chomp and champ away, beginning with his toes and working upward in a grim straight line that never wavered, never doubted and never ceased to masticate.  Finally he came to the neck and that was it – he could no longer contort himself to provide any room to bite.

“Siva laughed, the earth shaking peal of pure joy  the attahasam that Kalidasa said was the Himalayas – the frozen laughter of Siva.This episode was a grimly humorous illumination on the nature of life.  Life feeds on life, no matter how monstrous that may seem at first glance.  Desire forms a perfect feedback loop that ends up eating even what is desired.  This concept was known to the Sumerians as Ourobouros, the serpent eating its tail.  Life feeds on Life.  It is wildly exhilerating and liberating to realise and accept this concept, but it seems monstrous to those who have not had the experience.

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“Siva named the Hunger Kirtimukha, the immortal face of glory.  He is seen above the doors of all temples.  Siva who is Constant Awareness, wants you to be aware of the real nature of the universe, to accept it. A philosophy of life and spirituality that will not acknowledge the dark side is only a milk and water religion after all, not really nourishing in the long run.  To live in the world, is to be aware of that constant hunger, and as always Siva or Awakended Consciousness is the only way in which you can transcend it.

The important thing to realise, is that Kirtimukha is the Green Man of India, or to be precise, the Green Man as India experienced him.  He is usually found above sculptures of gods forming an arch of vegetation, which erupt from his mouth and flow from his hair, usually from the Crown chakra. Even houses have him over the front door, even in the heart of a city like Bombay.  He is tropical vegetation run riot in all his representations;

 

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“The Kirthimukha is a protector deity, a threshold guardian belonging to one of the two oldest groups of Cthonic deities in India:  the Yakshas from the word Yakshamam – we shall protect.  The other group is the Nagas – serpent energies of the earth.  These are easily the oldest and perhaps original gods of India, predating the Vedas.  Even the Buddha was at birth taken to the shrine of his clan’s guardian Yaksha – Sakha Vardhana. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism had to totally assimilate Yakshas and Nagas before they gained wide acceptance.

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“Kirthimukha is the male aspect of nature, for while the earth is female, vegetation is masculine.  … Europe knew him as Dionysius, then the Green Man or John Barleycorn,

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while the Sufi mystics still experience him as Khwaja Khidur – a gigantic being, a spiritual initiator and mentor, whose footsteps sprout vegetation…  the special meaning of this card is forgiveness.  Let go of grudges and hate, and let time take care of the rest.”

“To recognise Kirtimukha is to grow up, to have an adult understanding and acceptance of the universe, not a child’s fantasy.  In Jungian terms, Kirtimukha is a visibilization, a personification of the Shadow (or some aspects of it).  Kirtimukha is thus a threshold guardian to maturity, to the deepening of experience which is called wisdom.”

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.