Monthly Archives: February 2022

Everything Is Inside

By Swami Satrupananda


You can find everything you ever wanted by looking inside.  That’s a bold statement.  It’s true because the source of everything is inside of you.  Another even bolder statement. The yogic sages of India have been saying this for thousands of years.  

In searching for a complete understanding of the universe, Stephen Hawking turned to look within.  At age 21, he was diagnosed with ALS and given two years to live.  He lived another 55 years and made significant contributions to theoretical physics and cosmology.  

Hawking said, “Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.  I have spent my life travelling across the universe, inside my mind.”  He explored the universe inside his mind.  He didn’t travel across the universe to measure, feel and see blackholes on the outside.  He explored them within himself.  That’s where knowledge comes from, the inside.

I had a tangible experience of this in meditation.  I was settled deep inside.  Then an insight arose, answering one of the unanswered questions in my dissertation.  After my meditation session, I contemplated this, surprised that this insight had come.  I had not been thinking about my graduate research for over eight years.  Yet here was new knowledge.  And in that moment, I realized that all knowledge, all answers, come from within.  The yogic sages say all knowledge can be found within.  

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The source of knowledge is within.  The source of everything is within you.  When I first heard this teaching, my scientific mind struggled: “How can the universe be within me; it is so large?”  Yet the scientists now describe that the whole universe banged from a single point called a singularity.  This point contained the mass of the whole universe in a space that is 0” by 0” by 0”.  In these conditions, space and time don’t function like we are used to.  Scientist don’t yet have the math or tools to understand this.  But yogis do.

The yogic sages describe how the universe came from a singularity — called “bindu” in Sanskrit.  In explaining the teachings from the sages, Gurudevi says:

In meditation, you see the bindu inside… You find it inside because the source of the universe is also the source of your own being.

The bindu within you is the source of the universe.  This bindu is the source of your own being.  That same bindu is in me and everyone else.  There is only one source here, which you find by looking within.  You don’t have to go searching in blackholes or far away galaxies.  You find the source of everything inside.  Everything is inside. 

Though everything is inside, you don’t yet have access to it.  Your mind keeps you distracted by turning your attention outward.  With your attention turned outward, you see the world as separate from you.  You feel incomplete and empty.  This drives you to go searching for something to fill you up.  You go looking for more external distractions.

There’s nothing wrong with the external world.  The only problem is that you allow yourself to be distracted by it.  In a Shaktipat tradition, the distractions melt away with time and practice.  The more you do the yoga practices, the more you experience of your own Self.  The more you discover of your own Self, the less external things distract you.

I had a tangible experience of this process a few years ago.  I was having a difficult day.  My mind was keeping me very distracted by external things.  I felt incomplete on the inside.  Driving home, I decided I was going to remedy my challenging day with a delicious meal.  When I got home, I made mac and cheese, adding extra cheese for good measure.  I took the first bite and was so disappointed.  While the meal was delicious, I knew the food would not fulfill me.  I knew that only knowing my own Self would address my feeling of incompleteness.  And since that moment, food never distracted me like it used to.

And that’s why this blog began with my bold statement that everything you ever wanted is inside.  The mac and cheese that I wanted was not about the food.  It was about changing how I felt on the inside.  With everything you’ve ever wanted, the reason you wanted it was in order to feel different — on the inside.  You’ll only feel complete and full on the inside when you know who you truly are.  Do more yoga.  Then you’ll get everything you ever truly wanted — your own Self. 

Krishna Avatar Part 28

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

The Pandavas, with their new bride Draupadi and their mother Kunti, entered the fully decorated royal kingdom of Hastinapura. Guru Drona, Kripacharya, Vikarna and other dignitaries came to receive them at the gate.  A very grand welcome was accorded to the Princes, their bride and Kunti by the citizens of Hastinapura.  Their joy over this event was boundless.  They were not only happy to see them alive but also delighted to see their new beautiful bride.  They always saw Yudhishthira as an image of their old king Pandu, who was famous for his bravery and justice. They had full faith in Yudhishthira and believed he was to rule the kingdom of Hastinapura, reviving it to its old glory. 

The Pandavas got blessings from their grandsire Bhishma, the Gurus and King Dhritarashtra.  Gandhari’s joy knew no bounds. She hugged Kunti with utter delight, but inside her heart was aching for what her son Duryodhana had done to them. 

Yudhishthira is crowned
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As promised, half of the kingdom was ready to be given to the Pandavas. First and foremost, the rituals to crown Yudhishthira as a King started.  Dhritarashtra crowned Yudhishthira in a grand ceremony and gave his blessings to rule half of the Kingdom of Hastinapura. 

He addressed Yudhishthira, “Dear son, your father and my beloved brother Pandu developed this kingdom and ruled it with honor.  He was popular, not only among the citizens of our kingdom, but also among the neighboring kingdoms.  I bless you to do the same.  My brother always followed my commands with utter respect.  I would like you to love me the way he loved and respected me.  You are very wise and tolerant. Unfortunately, my son’s heart is filled with pride and ego.  Pandu’s untimely death and my makeshift possession of the kingdom has incited Duryodhana to develop a longing to be the next ruler of Hastinapura. Due to this, I am dividing the kingdom into two, to prevent a war between the brothers, so that there will be peace among all of you. “I have chosen Khandavaprastha as the capital for your kingdom.  You can start ruling your half of the kingdom from Khandavaprastha. Our great ancestors Pururavasu, Nakusan and Yayati ruled the whole kingdom from that city. It is our oldest capital.  There is a lot be done there.  You may have to build it back from scratch. I give my best blessings for you to reconstruct and restore Khandavaprastha, to bring back its glory. I am sure that you will accept this arrangement in the interest of our Kuru dynasty.”  

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Dhritarashtra, by giving this sweet talk, gave Pandavas a barren land which had been unused for centuries. Most of its ruins were turned into a forest.  It was overrun by wild animals and demons. Hearing this, Yudhishthira’s brothers and all who were present were horrified.  But Yudhishthira, modest and accommodating as always, gave his acceptance to Dhritarashtra’s proposal.  The satisfaction he showed to all who were present at the royal court was well received.  Yudhishthira was praised by the elders for his compliant nature and generosity, and he was showered with blessings.

In due time they proceeded towards Khandavaprastha, followed by some of the loyal citizens of Hastinapura.  After taking Krishna’s advice, Yudhishthira got enough cattle, craftsmen and gold to establish a city. Krishna and Arjuna led the journey.  They started early in order to clear the forest.  When they arrived, they were met by the God of fire, Agni, who looked very ill.  He requested help from both of them, begging them to free him from his misery.

Agni was suffering because of the consumption of too much ghee (clarified butter).  This was due to King Svetaki’s yaj~na, the sacrificial fire which he did nonstop for twelve years in order to please Lord Shiva, so that he could go to heaven.  While Svetaki succeeded in his sacrificial fire, Agni was left with all that ghee, which was making him very sick due to indigestion.  He was looking for something to burn, so to restore his strength. Thus he decided to burn the forest in Khandavaprastha.  But he had not been successful in doing it, so he sought help from Lord Brahma.  Lord Brahma advised Agni to get the help from Krishna and Arjuna who were on their way to the very same place. 

Agni bhagavatam-katha.com

The reason why Agni couldn’t burn the forest was that it was the home to a serpent king named Takshaka, who ruled the Nagas, the snakes.  Takshaka was very devoted to Indra, the King of the Devas, also being a very close friend of his.  Takshaka and his clan were well protected by the grace of Indra.  In addition, Takshaka was a good friend of the Asuric architect Mayasura.  With the help of Mayasura he made the forest into a magical one.  Every time Agni tried to consume the forest with his flames, Indra would bring a shower of rain and put it out.  

Hearing this Krishna and Arjuna decided to help Agni.  In the meantime, Yudhishthira, along with the other brothers and Draupadi, as well as all who accompanied them from Hastinapura, arrived at Khandavaprastha.  They realized that the forest was already taken by Takshaka and the Nagas.

Takshaka deviantart.com

Takshaka was furious to see humans trying to occupy the only home he had ever known.  He started attacking the Pandavas and the people who followed them to Khandavaprastha.  Mayasura warned Takshaka not to fight the Pandavas, for he was aware of their bravery.  Despite the advice from his friend, Takshaka went all in for a mighty war with the Pandavas. The Nagas started poisoning everyone who they came across. 

Yudhishthira was very upset and tried to talk to Takshaka explaining that they are not there to chase them away, but they could live in harmony together in Khandavaprastha. His words failed to get through the deaf ears of Takshaka.  Arjuna decided to put an end to the quarrel and started attacking Takshaka. Wounded, Takshska went back to the thick magical forest and started praying to Indra, seeking help from him. 

To fulfill the promise that Krishna and himself made to Agni, Arjuna used his bow & arrow to invoke Agni so he could consume the magical forest of Takshaka.  In the fire, the wife of Takshaka burned to death.  Takshaka and his son Ashvasena escaped with some of their clan.  Indra, being the friend of Takshaka, got angry about the whole ordeal and came to fight Arjuna directly. 

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A fierce fight started between the two of them.  Indra, being the king of the Devas, used mighty weapons against Arjuna.  But Arjuna was actually Indra’s son, by the boon he had given to Kunti.  Not having any other choice, Arjuna was compelled to fight with the very person who brought him to life.  The other four Pandava brothers stood there a bit frightened about the fight and wondered about its outcome.  Krishna silently stood there, witnessing it all with a smile.

Arjuna was carefully choosing arrows which would defend him against Indra’s weapons.  That provoked Indra’s anger.  As a last resort, Indra used his ultimate weapon, Vajrayudha, the thunderbolt.  Seeing this, the Pandava brothers were frozen in place.  Draupadi was begging Indra to withdraw his Vajrayudha before it attacked Arjuna.  Arjuna respectfully answered with the best arrow from his quiver.  The Vajrayudha, with its thundering noise advanced towards Arjuna with immense speed.  While everyone watching this, trembling in fear, all of sudden the Vajrayudha was suspended in midair.  To everyone’s surprise, it was Krishna’s Sudarshana chakra that caused this suspension. Krishna called out to Indra to withdraw his weapon. Indra couldn’t refuse Krishna’s request and stopped the fight with Arjuna. 

Arjuna fell to his knees apologizing to Indra and asked for forgiveness for taking up arms against him, his own father.  Yudhishthira came forward and explained his plan to rule Khandavaprastha along with Nagas with peace, and that he doesn’t have any intention to chase them away.  Indra was very happy hearing this and blessed Arjuna and his brothers.  

Krishna i.pinimg.com

Indra asked Arjuna what he would want from Indra. Per Krishna’s advice Arjuna asked Indra to lend Vishwakarma, the divine architect, to build the kingdom and revive the city of Khandavaprastha.  Indra immediately called upon Vishwakarma, commanding him to build a beautiful city for the Pandavas.  The Pandavas thanked Indra wholeheartedly and promised him that they would name the new built capital city Indraprastha, in honor of Indra. 

Seeing all this, the Nagas slowly started to emerge from the forest and came towards Yudhishthira and the Pandavas. Yudhishthira welcomed them with an open heart.  The Nagas pulled back the poison they had rendered against the people.  Among the demons who came out of the forest was Mayasura.  Krishna was sure to kill him, therefore the asura sought protection from Arjuna. 

Agni was free to consume the forest without any disturbances. Once Agni’s fire ceased, Mayasura thanked Arjuna and agreed to prepare a beautiful assembly hall for the court of Yudhishthira in the new city.  He gave Bhima a very heavy mace.   To Arjuna he presented Devadatta, a conch whose sound would create terror in the hearts of warriors at any war.

Agni had finally gotten his strength back. He was so grateful and happy for Arjuna’s help that he rewarded Arjuna with a bow called Gandiva, along with an inexhaustible supply of arrows, due to the help of Varuna, the God of sea. Arjuna humbly accepted these gifts from Agni.  The city of Indraprastha sprung from the ashes. 

Krishna Avatar Part 27

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Graphics by Sheralee (Shambhavi) Hancherow

Preparations for the royal reception of the Pandavas and their mother Kunti started shaping up. Dhrishtadyumna by his side, Drupada led the preparations personally. The palace was decorated with flowers, garlands, colorful flags and beautiful ornaments hanging from the ceilings. There was so much excitement among all the citizens of Panchala. All the arrangements for the wedding rituals also started to materialize.

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The Pandavas and their mother Kunti were officially welcomed with the highest possible honors. Then the marriage of Draupadi with the five Pandava princes took place in a grand way.

The story spread like wildfire — a brahmin showing his valor in the swayamvara, besting all the kings and princes in the archery trial, and thereafter defeating everyone who attacked him. This brought the talk that Arjuna was alive to the gates of Hastinapura. Simultaneously, the news about the Pandavas’ marriage to Draupadi reached the ears of Vidura through his spies. Vidura had kept spies all through the kingdoms since the Pandavas had escaped the burning house of lac with his help. Vidura decided it was the time to reveal the news of the Pandava’s survival to his brother, King Dhritarashtra.

He went to see his brother Dhritarashtra to share this most wonderful news. He said “Oh king, my beloved brother! The future of our dynasty is secured and strengthened with the most promising bride. The daughter of the mighty King Drupada has become the daughter-in-law of us, the Kuru family. Such a blessing this is to the kingdom of Hastinapura.” With so much love for his eldest son in his heart, Dhritarashtra believed Vidura was talking about Duryodhana. He was so happy! He told Vidura that he hadn’t had any doubt that Duryodhana would win the contest for Draupadi’s hand. Vidura then explained the whole story.

“Our dearest Pandavas are alive along with their mother Kunti. It was actually a young brahmin who won the hand of Draupadi. None of the kings and princes who attended the swayamvara were able to pass the archery trial swayamvara. And that young brahmin who won Draupadi’s hand at the swayamvara in Panchal is none other than your nephew Arjuna. All five of them married her due to the boon from Lord Shiva that she was blessed with. They are all safe and cared for at the hands of Drupada.”

Hearing this Dhritarashtra was terribly disappointed. But he couldn’t show his disappointment to Vidura, so he put on a happy face. With fake delight he said, “This is the most wonderful news I have ever received. All this while, I was mourning the death of Kunti and the Pandavas, not knowing they escaped from the dreadful fire. My dear brother Pandu’s sons and wife survived the fire. Not only are they alive and well, but also they married into one of the mightiest kingdoms. My heart is filled with happiness, bouncing with joy.” His heart truly split into two as he was saying this. Yet, as much as he hated the news of the Pandavas survival, part of him was truly relived of the guilt of his son killing his own brother’s children and wife.

Vidura (left) with Dhritarashtra en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vidura

When this news reached Duryodhana’s ears, he was angry and distressed. He felt terribly humiliated. He couldn’t believe that the Pandavas had been hiding for a year after escaping the fire. And now they had strengthened their position and their claim to the Kuru kingdom by marrying into one of the strongest kingdoms, the Panchala kingdom. The Pandavas were stronger than ever before. This thought made his anger, jealousy and vengeance grow double over what it had been. He, along with his brother Dushasana, immediately went to visit their uncle Shakuni to seek advice. He exclaimed to Shakuni that even the Gods were on the Pandavas side. How they could escape the deadliest fire and then get alliances by becoming in-laws of valiant Dhrishtadyumna and fearless Shikhandi. They asked Shakuni, “What do we do now?” Shakuni was sure to devise a plan for another cunning way to get rid of the Pandavas.

Later, along with Karna, they went to visit Dhritarashtra. They showed their dissatisfaction to their father for agreeing with Vidura to invite the Pandavas back into the kingdom. As Dhritarashtra was helpless, he asked Duryodhana to suggest the next steps. Duryodhana immediately started plotting. Some of his suggested plans were to divide Pandavas in some way by provoking Madri’s children, Nakula and Sahadeva, against the other three brothers, or bribing Drupada to go against the Pandavas. or by threatening them in some way that they would never return to Hastinapura. Karna laughed at Duryodhana and said that he was wasting his time with such useless ideas. He suggested that they go to war with them, saying that it was the only remedy.

Dhritarashtra didn’t like any of these ideas and decided to discuss the matter with Grandsire Bhishma and Guru Drona. Bhishma was in extreme delight about the news of the Pandavas being alive and that they were shortly returning to Hastinapura. Dhritarashtra asked Bhishma for his advice. After some discussions with Vidura, Bhishma said to make peace with the Pandavas by dividing the kingdom into half would be the right thing to do. He also said this is what the citizens of the Hastinapura desired. He added that people were already suspicious about the Kaurava’s involvement in the fire of the lac house. As an additional point, he mentioned that the kingdom was blaming Dhritarashtra, as the king of the nation, for not taking any action regarding the fire and not getting to the bottom of what happened. The only way to put all this behind would be to give half of the kingdom to Pandu’s children. Guru Drona completely agreed with Bhishma’s proposal.

Listening to this conversation, Karna was furious about dividing the kingdom. He loved Duryodhana so much that he didn’t want to see half of Duryodhana’s future going to the Pandavas. He addressed Dhritarashtra, saying that he was surprised that Guru Drona, who had gained everything by serving him, was advising him to give away half of the kingdom. He wanted Dhritarashtra not to merely listen, but to give some thought to what they suggested. Karna said they should go to war with the Pandavas. Guru Drona was offended by Karna’s remarks. He shouted at Karna. “You wicked fool! You are giving the king ill advice without any respect. If the king ignores our advice, for sure that would be the end of the Kauravas.”

Karna
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Puzzled by all this, Dhritarashtra turned to his chief minister, Vidura. Vidura said, “Grandsire Bhishma and Guru Drona has given you the best advice. Don’t ignore the advice from those wise ones. They always put the interest of the kingdom and its people first. Also, the Pandavas are your beloved brother’s children. Just like the Kauravas, they are your children too. Anyone giving advice against the Pandavas are the ones who will destroy our kula. Also, Drupada, with his children, along with Krishna and the Yadava clan are all standing with the Pandavas, strengthening them. So, there is no way to win against them in a war. Karna’s advice is worthless. It’s true that people are angry and upset about what happened to the Pandavas, and that they are blaming you and your children. Now that they are delighted to find out about the Pandavas being alive, this is the best opportunity to put the past behind you and move forward. They are anxiously waiting to see them. Listen to Grandsire, not to others who don’t have any experience in statesmanship.”

At the end, Dhritarashtra decided to divide the kingdom and to have peace with the Pandavas. He requested Vidura to visit the Panchala kingdom to invite Kunti and the Pandavas along with their new bride Draupadi. He planned to welcome them back with all due respect and honor. Vidura carried precious gems, fine jewelry and loads of grains as gifts with him to Panchala. Vidura was cordially welcomed by king Drupada. After paying his respects Vidura, conveyed the message from King Dhritarashtra, requesting Drupada to send the Pandavas and Draupadi, along with Kunti, to Hastinapura. Drupada was doubtful about Dhritarashtra’s motive as he never trusted him. But then he let the Pandavas decide what they wanted to do, saying “Whatever the Pandavas wish, will be my wish too.”

Vidura
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Vidura then visited Kunti and paid his respects to her. Kunti, equally suspicious about Dhritarashtra, said to Vidura, “Son of Vichitravirya, you saved my children once before. They are your children too. They trust and believe in you. So, advise them as to what they should do.” Vidura said, “Kunti, your children always stand for the truth, therefore they will never be harmed by anyone. They will have their claim on the kingdom and Yudhishthira will be crowned as king. They will rule with greatness. So, come, let’s go back to our kingdom of Hastinapura where you belong.” By saying this he was able to convince Kunti. King Drupada with a heavy heart, gave his blessings to all of them and allowed them go back to their kingdom with Vidura, following royal tradition.