Krishna Avatar Part 30

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Graphics by Sheralee (Shambhavi) Hancherow

Arjuna continued on his long journey and reached Manipura.  He went to the court of Chitravahana, King of Manipura, and introduced himself.  The king was delighted to have mighty Arjuna in his court and gave him a warm welcome.  The king requested Arjuna to be his royal guest, so he was given accommodation in the royal palace.  

One day Arjuna got a glimpse of the king’s daughter, Chitrangada.  He was totally bewitched by her masculine beauty and wanted to marry her.  He went straight to the king and requested his permission to marry her.  As Chitravahana did not have any other heir, he had trained Chitrangada in warfare and ruling the kingdom.  The king agreed for his daughter to marry Arjuna under one condition.  

Chitrangada, King Chitravahana & Arjuna
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As Chitrangada was his only child, thus the only one who could continue his dynasty, the king had decided to adopt her son and appoint him as the Crown Prince of Manipura.  This meant that a child, born to her, would be his successor, no one else.  Therefore, the condition was that Chitrangada’s son would remain in Manipura.  As Arjuna was so madly in love with her, he didn’t have a choice but to agree.  

The marriage took place in a grand scale and Arjuna stayed there for a few years.  In due course Chitrangada got pregnant and bore a son.  As was promised, Chitravahana adopted Arjuna’s son as his own.  It was time for Arjuna to move on with his journey.  Arjuna left his wife Chitrangada and his son, to stay in Manipura, as he continued his journey to the south.  

On the way to the south, he came across some sages.  Spending time with them he gained knowledge and wisdom.  He saw that the sages had problems getting water for their daily use.  When he asked about it, they revealed that there were five ponds nearby, but they were unable to get water from them, as each of the ponds was the home of a huge crocodile who ate anyone who came near the pond.  Hearing this Arjuna assured them that he would put an end to this terror.  

Crocodile http://animal.memozee.com/
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Arjuna fearlessly got into one of the ponds.  The crocodile in that pond immediately came towards him to attack him.  Ullupi’s boon given to Arjuna, that he will remain unconquerable in water, came true.  Arjuna easily defeated the crocodile.  Catching it by its tail, he flung it out of the water and threw it to the ground, injuring it very badly.  As soon as the crocodile hit the ground it transformed into a heavenly damsel.  

The damsel paid her respect to Arjuna and said, “Oh Son of Pandu! All the crocodiles in these ponds are heavenly beings.  We have been cursed by a sage to remain in these waters as crocodiles for years now.  We have been waiting for a true warrior to liberate us from this curse.  As you liberated me, please do liberate the others as well.  Arjuna freed all of them from their curse.  The heavenly beauties thanked Arjuna and returned to heaven.  The sages were relieved of their problems and blessed Arjuna.  

Arjuna moved on with his journey.  As Arjuna’s years of pilgrimage were coming close to an end, he wished to end it in Dwaraka, where he could meet Krishna again.  The last time he saw and spent time with Krishna was when they took up their residence in Indraprastha.  

He remembered going out on a hunting trip with Krishna.  At the end of the day, they were tired and thirsty.  They went to the banks of Yamuna to quench their thirst and refresh themselves.  When they reached the riverbank, they were struck by the beauty of a damsel wandering along the banks.  When questioned by him, she revealed herself as Kalindi, the daughter of Sun God.  She had been living in a house beneath the river due to a vow she had taken to marry the incarnation of Vishnu.  She had been observing severe austerities until she met one.  

Krishna and Kalindi
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Arjuna with a smile told her the time has come to receive the fruits of her penance, for the one she was looking for is only a few yards away from her.  He pointed to Krishna and Kalindi prostrated at Krishna’s feet, pleading him to accept her as his consort.  Krishna, with delight, accepted her and all three of them returned to Indraprastha.  After getting blessings from Yudhishthira, Kalindi returned to Dwaraka with Krishna. Krishna married her there, with the support of all in Dwaraka.

Arjuna also was thinking about Krishna’s sister Subhadra.  Arjuna had met her on one of his trips to Dwaraka.  They had been attracted to each other.  No one knew about this other than Krishna.  Arjuna was looking forward to meeting Krishna and Subhadra.  With all that in his mind, Arjuna continued his journey towards Dwaraka.  

Subhadra was Krishna’s younger sister.  She had grown up to be a lovely young lady.  She was highly pampered by her two older brothers, Balarama and Krishna.  Her happiness was everything to them.  As the eldest brother, Balarama was anxious to get her married to a suitable groom.  Duryodhana had heard about her exceptional beauty and showed his interest to marry her.  Not knowing Subhadra’s desire to be with Arjuna, Balarama agreed to Duryodhana’s proposal of marriage.  He was quite pleased about this alliance, as he always had a soft corner towards Duryodhana; Duryodhana was Balarama’s favorite student.  Not to mention, he was thrilled about the alliance with the great family of the Kuru dynasty, too.  

Krishna was not at all happy about this news, but it was too late as Balarama had already given his word to Duryodhana.  Nonetheless, Krishna didn’t want his dear sister to suffer at the hands of the cruel-natured Kaurava Prince, Duryodhana.  So he had to come up with a strategy to save his sister from marrying this ill-natured man, and to marry the one whom she carried in her heart.  

Arjuna arrived at the gates of Dwaraka.  After travelling so long his clothes were soiled and crumbled, and he had grown a long beard.  He looked like a sage.  No one recognized him in Dwaraka, though he was well-known there.  Arjuna chuckled about people not recognizing him.  He found a tree, sat under it and closed his eyes.  People started coming towards him, as they mistook him for a real sage.  The crowd gathered around him and some started gossiping about the news of Subhadra’s wedding to Duryodhana.  

Arjuna, Krishna and Subhadra https://vedicfeed.com/love-story-of-arjuna-and-subhadra/

Arjuna was devasted to hear this news.  He didn’t know until that moment how much Subhadra meant for him.  He couldn’t afford to lose her.  He closed his eyes, deeply lost in his thoughts.  He wondered about Krishna’s involvement in this, as he knew that Krishna was aware of his attraction towards Subhadra and her’s towards him.  He decided to sit in stillness, meditating.  He expressed no desire for anything, including food.  People were quite convinced that he was a great sage.

The news about a sage visiting Dwaraka reached the ears of Balarama.  He immediately came to visit the sage, not knowing he was Arjuna.  He paid his respect to the sage but Arjuna was quite embarrassed about this, as he was very much younger than Balarama.  He tried to hide his face as he was nervous that Balarama would recognize him.  But, to his surprise, Balarama didn’t have a clue about the one who was hiding behind the clothes of a sage.  

Arjuna’s years of spending time with great beings during this time period really helped him to suit the act.  Balarama was pleased with meeting the sage.  He went back to get Krishna to come along with him.  When Krishna arrived, and recognized Arjuna, he gave a quizzical look.  Arjuna couldn’t take it and closed his eyes.  Balarama humbly invited the sage to stay at the palace, as the rainy season had started.  It is customary for sages to stay with householders during monsoon times.  Arjuna glanced at Krishna and agreed to the request, as he knew that Krishna recognized him.  

Krishna and Balarama http://www.mygodpictures.com/
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Krishna showed dissatisfaction with his brother’s decision.  He muttered into Balarama’s ear, though in such a way Arjuna could hear.  He said, “Oh dear brother, beware of bringing strange young men into our residence, even if they are holy men.  Don’t forget that our beloved sister is a maiden waiting to be married.  The sage doesn’t look old enough to renounce the pleasures of life.  You better think twice before you bring him into our home.”  

Balarama looked at Krishna in such a way to tell him to mind his own business.  Balarama went on with his plan, inviting Arjuna the sage into their home.  They all went back to the palace.  Balarama made sure the Sage was comfortable in his room.  What Krishna had said to Balarama was playing in Arjuna’s mind over and over again.  He knew there was a hidden message for him in what Krishna said.  He kept thinking about it all night.

More to come…

Free from Limitations

By Swami Satrupananda

“I am imperfect,” your mind tells you this again and again.  Does it, unfortunately, sound familiar?  Yoga calls this ignorance.  The good news is that yoga also provides a cure: Shaktipat, the sacred initiation from a Satguru.

Yoga is the science of maximizing the human experience.  Part of this science is defining what keeps us limited.  The belief that “I am imperfect” has a Sanskrit name: aanava mala.  And it is just that, a belief, not a truth.  That’s why aanava mala is often translated as ignorance.  We don’t know who we really are.  

You are perfect, whole, full and complete.  Whenever you feel otherwise, you don’t know the Truth of your Divine Nature.  But this is not an ignorance that can be solved with more education.  Therefore, my teacher, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, translates aanava mala as Divine Amnesia.  You have forgotten your own Divinity.

Instead, your mind says that you are small and insignificant.  It’s right there in the Sanskrit words.  Aanava means fine, minute and exceeding smallness.  Mala means dirt, dust, filth and impurity.  Your Divine Nature is veiled by a layer of thinking that you are finite, minute and small.  That means when you feel this way, you are so close to your own Divinity.  There is just a thin layer covering your true nature.  While it is just a thin layer, it’s a scary one.  It’s painful and overwhelming to feel this exceeding smallness.  

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And there are two more veils (malas) that cover your inherent Divinity.  The next mala is maayiiya mala. Maayiiya means “proceeding from maaya.”  Maaya is the delusion of seeing the world as being different from you.  It keeps you from perceiving that everyone and everything is the same one Divine Reality covered by the malas.  Because of maayiiya mala, you see it all as separate.  

The third veil is karma mala.  Karma means action.  This veil propels you into action.  There is nothing wrong with action.  However, karma mala propels you into thinking that you are your accomplishments.  You believe you are what you do.

The truth of your existence is that you are the one Divine Reality, full, complete, perfect and whole.  Your Divinity is covered by these three veils: feeling finite; feeling different/separate from everyone and everything; and feeling your worth is based on what you do.  While you are the one Divine Reality, yet entangled in veils, you feel yourself to be so much less.  This is the human condition.

The cure is Shaktipat.  Shaktipat is an initiation given by a Satguru.  She ignites your own inner power of upliftment and pierces aanava mala.  The veil is torn.  You can thus see and feel your own Divine Nature.  The torn veil of aanava mala will never fully conceal your Divinity again.  The tear is permanent.

That was my experience.  In the moment I received Shaktipat, I had a profound experience of knowing and being my own Divine Nature.  Then I went back to my life and to my mind, which clearly needed some reprogramming.  I couldn’t live in the Beingness and Knowingness of my own Divinity all the time.  Yet I always knew that I was more.  It wasn’t a mere remembering of my experience; it was an inner knowing that I was more.  

It was so painful.  I knew that I was more, but I wasn’t experiencing the more.  I remember sitting in my apartment a few months after receiving Shaktipat and wishing that I could go back to not-knowing.  And in that moment, I realized that I could never not know.  I might not experience my Divine Nature all the time, but I would never not know that I was more than what my mind told me.

That’s the incredible gift of Shaktipat.  It tears aanava mala and gives you access to your own Divine Nature forever.  Once aanava mala is pierced and you know your own Divinity, then maayiiya mala can longer bind you.  You know that everyone and everything else is also made from the same Divine Reality.  It’s a huge masquerade party, everyone and everything seemingly separate from you – how fun!  

When you know your own Divinity, you continue to act in the world, but it does not define your worth.  Karma mala no longer limits you.  While you know that you are Divine, you take actions in the world simply because you care.  All of this, and so much more, comes from Shaktipat.

Once Shaktipat tears aanava mala, it is just a matter of time until the veil dissolves completely.  Then you live in the Knowingness of your own Divinity all the time.  It’s the promise that is described in Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s name.  Nirmala means without malas.  Gurudevi is free from the limitations of the three malas.  She always knows her own Divinity and sees it in everyone and everything.

You too can live in that freedom once you’ve received Shaktipat.  It’s just a matter of time.  And you control the timing.  If you do the practices that Gurudevi Nirmalananda did, and tells us to do, then you’ll get there.  If you do more of the practices, you’ll get there sooner.  It’s that simple.  And it’s guaranteed.  

You have the ultimate cure to the feeling of “I am imperfect” right here in America.  Come get Shaktipat and do the practices so you will know that you are perfect, whole, full and complete.

God Makers

By Swami Shrutananda

There are pastry makers, ones who are skilled in making bread.  There are peace makers, ones who bring about peace.  Also, there are God makers, ones who reveal your own God-ness, your own Divinity, to you. 

You, an ordinary human being, can be transmuted into God.  This is described as changing ordinary metal into gold.  In the Middle Ages, the so-called “philosopher’s stone” was the most sought-after substance in the world of alchemy.  Through it, alchemists could reach the legendary goal of turning ordinary metals, particularly lead, into gold.

drawing from alchemy text en.wikipedia.org

However, alchemy was a spiritual path, a Kundalini path, which predated medieval times.  It originated in India during the pre-Vedic times more than 20,000 years ago.  The teachings were written in a code language.  The veiled meaning was transforming the human being into the Divine, God.  The metal that was to be transformed was the human being — your body, mind and heart.

During a Weekend Workshop, I gave a talk on “You are Divine.”  As I was giving the teachings, a student kept interrupting and asking questions.  She was being a little aggressive, and other students were becoming uncomfortable.  Plus, they could not hear the teachings I was trying to give them. 

More and more frustrated, the vocal student finally blurted out, “Are you trying to tell me that I am Divine?!”  I said, “Yes!”  Then she sat quietly and listened through the rest of the talk.  Something shifted inside her.  What you believe will determine who you will become. 

You have all experienced your God-ness.  This is certainly true if you’ve received Shaktipat.  Yet it is also true if you have not.  Watching a sunset, upon first seeing a loved one, or listening to your favorite piece of music — any of these open your experience of God:

Unfortunately, most people have only a momentary experience.  Mysticism is about the difference between experiencing God momentarily compared to always knowing that you are God.  And yoga is pure mysticism. 

— Gurudevi Nirmalananda [1]

In yoga, through the Grace of the Guru, you come to live in this knowing you are God.  Who is the Guru? 

The texts are clear: the Guru is God.  So are you, but you don’t know it all the time, not yet anyway. How do you understand someone who lives in the knowing, who settles deep within — into being the Self and never loses it?  What would you want to call that person?  Even from ancient times, they have been called the “God-men of India,” tracing back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians as well as those from India.

— Swami Nirmalananda [2]

The Guru lives in the knowing of their own God-ness.  The  Guru’s job is to make you into Himself — into that which the Guru has already become.  That is God.  This process unfolds from the inside out.

In Kashmiri Shaivism, the pivotal point is whether or not the Guru can give Shaktipat.  A Shaktipat Guru is a God maker.  God makers are very rare.  Swami Nirmalananda is such a Guru.  When you receive Shaktipat, your Kundalini is awakened.  Kundalini is the energy of revelation, ready to flow up your spine from tail to top. 

This profound movement clears away all that gets in the way of knowing you are God.  Your thoughts, the way you use your mind, your memories and feelings, along with your physical body are transmuted.  Through Kundalini, you are uplifted and purified.  Through this transformation you come to know you are God, you are the Self.

Our meditation system comes from a lineage of God makers.  They support you in your meditations, so you experience the depths of your own being, your own Self.  I had a very tangible experience of this in meditation.  As usual, I began meditation by repeating the mantra given to me by my Guru.  I was carried deep within by the mantra. 

Nityananda of Ganeshpuri

Then I saw a God maker.  It was Nityananda, another Guru from this lineage.  He was walking on a dirt path away from me, walking through the mist. 

I kept repeating mantra and got on the dirt path to follow him.  I wanted to go where he was going.  I knew where he was leading me, to my own God-ness, my own Divinity, my own Self. 

As I followed him, I was propelled even deeper within.  I was immersed so deep within that I couldn’t remain conscious at that level of my being.  When I surfaced from that deep plunge within, and I opened my eyes I felt more like my Self.  I was sitting in timeless space, settled and expanded at the same time. 

Once you have received Shaktipat, your most important practice is meditation.  Meditate every day.  Every meditation is alchemy — transmuting, transforming you. 

When do you become God?  You are in charge.  Do more yoga.


[1] Enlightenment in the Midst of Life, Lesson #1: Stepping Into Life (Downingtown PA, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, Year-Long Programme 2018)

[2] Guru & Self, Lesson #5:  Guru is God (Downingtown PA, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, Year-Long Programme 2014)

Krishna Avatar Part 29

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Graphics by Sheralee (Shambhavi) Hancherow

Only a few who lived in the Khandava forest escaped the fire.  Among them were the four Saranga birds. They lived with their mother bird, Jarita.  Her husband had left her for another female bird.  The male bird was a sage named Mandapala.  He had to come back from the heavens to fulfill the karma of having children in order to stay in the heavens.  He had to experience a married life and have offspring, therefore he had to be born again.  Eager to return to the heavens, he chose to be born as a Saranga bird so that he could have many children and complete his karma within a short time.  Once the eggs were laid by Jarita, even before his offspring were born, he left her for another female named Lapita.  

Jarita’s four nestlings
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When the fire began the four nestlings panicked at first.  The older nestling urged their mother to leave them so she could save herself from the fire and maybe have more children. The elder nestling said, “Mother, if you are killed, we will not have any children for our family.  Further we will not have anyone to look after us.  Do what is right to protect our race without being influenced by affection only to us, which would be the destruction for all of us.”  Jarita was taken by the wise advice from the older nestling.  Taking the advice, she decided to protect the nestlings in the best possible way she could.  She was putting them into the hollow of a tree so she could seal its mouth with mud before flying to safety.  But the nestlings refused. Unable to convince them, the mother flew away, leaving them in God’s hands. 

The nestlings prayed to Agni, the God of fire, not to harm them by singing his praise.  Agni was pleased with their prayers and kept them safe from his flames.  They survived the fire.  When Jarita returned to check on them, she was so pleased to see them alive and well.  In the meantime, Mandapala, the male bird who became worried about his offspring, wanted to return to see them.  This made Lapita, the bird he had left his family for, furious.  Ignoring her, Mandapala flew back to the forest and found his offspring unharmed and safe with their mother Jarita, thus realizing that he was not needed anymore. 

New city of Indraprastha
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The splendid new city of Indraprastha sprung up from the ashes, where once Khandavaprastha stood, by the grace of Krishna and the great work of the Divine architect Vishwakarma.  Along with Krishna, the Pandavas were delighted to see the city being built in such a short time.  Indraprastha was glittering with glamour.  Soon they performed the inauguration ceremony of the palace by doing the relevant rituals and pujas.  The five Pandavas began living in the magnificent palace.  It took them a while to get familiar with the work of the Deva architect Vishwakarma and the illusion artist, the Asuric architect Mayasura.  Just figuring out where the floors, walls, doors, windows and water ponds were was a lot to learn.  The palace was mind boggling.  The city of Indraprastha soon excelled the grandness of Hastinapura. 

Sage Narada visits the Pandavas
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The Pandavas ruled Indraprastha with their cousin Krishna as their advisor and guide.  One day Sage Narada came to visit the Pandavas.  He had come with a purpose, as always, this time to explain that they must not fight over Draupadi, with her being the common bride.  So he told them a story.  The story was about Sunda and Upasunda, the two powerful demons who loved each other dearly.  To get the boon of unconquerable power they went to the Vindhya mountain range to perform severe penance.  Delighted with their penance, Brahma appeared and asked what they wanted. The brothers knew what exactly they wanted.  They asked for strength, mastery over all weapons, ability to create illusions, take any form and, of course, immortality.  Brahma gave them everything except immortality.   And he told them to ask for something else instead of immortality.  They thought for a while and asked that they could be killed only by each other, as they were very sure of their friendship.  As requested, the boon was granted by Brahma.  

The undefeatable brothers not only defeated the mighty Devas, but also terrorized all three words.  The Devas devised a plan, sending a beautiful maiden Tilottama to disrupt the friendship.  She tempted the brothers and made them fall in love with her.  Sunda and Upasunda fought over her ferociously and killed each other.  After hearing the story from Sage Narada, the Pandavas decided that each one would spend a month with Draupadi while none of the other brothers would intrude during that time frame.  If any of them violated the arrangement that person would willingly go into exile for 12 years. 

One day a brahmin came weeping intensely to the palace. He complained that his cows had been stolen by thieves. He came seeking help from King Yudhishtra for the restoration of his cows. Arjuna consoled the brahmin, promising that his cows would soon be returned to him. Arjuna decided to take matters into his hands and to go after the thieves to help the brahmin. But he realized he had left his bow and arrows in Draupadi’s bed chamber. It was his older brother Yudhishthira’s turn to be with Draupadi. 

Arjuna now had to make a decision. He didn’t want the brahmin to curse his brother, the king, due to not getting help.  But on the other hand, he had to violate the arrangement with his brothers by going to Draupadi’s chamber when he is not supposed to go there.  Arjuna was caught in a dilemma. Finally, he chose to violate the agreement and prepared to be exiled in order to restore the brahmin’s cows. Arjuna chose to put his duty first, knowing that it would cost him banishment so he went into Draupadi’s chamber to get his bow and arrows. After restoring the brahmin’s cows, Arjuna went directly to his brother. After offering his respects, he conveyed his guilt of violating the arrangement and his plan to go into exile.  He humbly sought Yudhishthira’s permission to go into exile. 

Yudhishthira
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After listening to Arjuna, Yudhishthira said, “Dear brother, you have not committed any violation at all.  It would have been a violation only if you would have entered the palace for a personal reason. What you did was for a noble cause to perform a duty which was in fact mine. As you did this to protect your king and his subjects, I and my queen will not punish you.” But Arjuna has already made up his mind about exile. He reminded Yudhishthira that it was his teaching that one should not be dishonest at any circumstances.  So, he begged for his brother’s permission to atone his sins. Hearing this Yudhishthira didn’t have any other choice other than to allow Arjuna to go into exile.

A few admirers of Arjuna accompanied him to the forest. After journeying through dense forests and crossing several streams they finally arrived at the banks of the river Ganga. Arjuna spent most of his time during this exile in listening to religious discourses by sitting with scholarly brahmins and sages.  Living a peaceful life, he was becoming more and more virtuous.  All this made his face glow with the divine light.

One day a beautiful maiden, who happened to see him while performing a yaj~na, fell in love with him. His glowing face and muscular body made her madly in love with him so she made up her mind to marry him. This damsel is named Ulupi, the daughter of the Naga King Kauravya of the under waters of Ganga. The next day, when Arjuna went into the river for a ritual bath, the Naga princess Ulupi gripped him and pulled him into the river, taking him straight to her underwater kingdom, the abode of King Kauravya her father. Taken by her act Arjuna inquired about Ulupi. She revealed her lineage and admitted her love and desire to be his wife. 

Ulupi
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At first Arjuna declined her proposal, mentioning his celibacy on his pilgrimage. But he was convinced by Ulupi’s argument saying that his celibacy was limited only to Draupadi.  Arjuna accepted her proposal and agreed to marry her. A son named Iravan was born to them.  Arjuna then expressed his desire to go back to his companions.  Pleased by Arjuna, Ulupi granted him a boon that from that point forward all water creatures would obey and protect him.  He would remain unconquerable under water. 

Arjuna returned to the shore and told his companions all about Ulupi and the Naga Kingdom. The rest of the group then returned home, leaving Arjuna to continue his journey alone as he wished.

More to come…

Awakening

By Swami Samvidaananda

I love spring.  Crocuses and daffodils bloom in the yard.  The trees’ limbs unfurl fresh new leaves and blossoms. Spring feels like a celebration of life.  Every day there are new signs of life.  Every day feels fresh and new.  I treasure that feeling.  I used to rely on the newborn beauty of spring to trigger it for me.

That changed when I found yoga.  Yoga says the entrancing newness of spring is always available to you.  It’s a quality of your Divine Essence.  This is described in a yogic text called the Shiva Sutras:

iccha-shaktir uma-kumari

In every moment, the yogi enjoys the newness of life, the gift of the Goddess. — Shiva Sutras 1.13

Uma-Kumari is the Goddess.  She is the energy that births the universe into existence.  She existed before time began, and she exists now, creating every moment anew.  She uses her Divine will, iccha-shakti, to blossom forth the world and everything that exists.  Everything that exists is made from her own existence, out of pure delight.  Including you.  You are an expression of the Goddess.  

You are made of her Divinity.  Except she and you are not two.  There’s only One.  One Divine Reality, called Goddess, called God, called Self.  Your Self.  You are the One Divine Reality.  Except you don’t know your Divinity, most of the time.  You get glimpses, like the way springtime gives me a fleeting glimpse of the glorious ever-newness of life.

So how does the yogi enjoy the newness of life in every moment?  This gift of the Goddess comes from another gift.  It’s the mystical initiation called Shaktipat.  Shaktipat awakens within you the knowing of your own Divinity.  That capacity to know has been lying dormant within you.  It is like a seed buried in the soil, awaiting spring.  My teacher, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, is a Shaktipat Guru.  She is a yoga master who has the capacity to spark awake your inner knowing.  When you receive this awakening, you’ll know your Self: immortal, ever-existent, ever-new. 

You probably won’t know all the time, right away.  A rare few do.  For the rest of us, we have our part to play.  Meditation is your most important practice.  The meditation in this lineage is called Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation.  Every time you meditate, you clear away more of the blockages that keep you from living your Divinity.  It’s like your seed has been awakened and is doing its best to grow.  But the soil is a little rocky.  Meditation clears away the mental and emotional pebbles and rocks that get in your way.

And day by day, meditation by meditation, the energy of your Divinity arises within you.  It’s the source of your aliveness, your joy and your happiness.  It’s the source of life itself.  So is it any surprise that you will become more fully alive, more fully present, more fully engaged in your life?  Whether the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing, or it’s a frigid winter day.  Or it’s a hurricane!  You’ll embrace it all, celebrating every Divine moment.  This is your destiny.  Gurudevi will give you Shaktipat if you want her to.  Are you ready?

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.  

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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. 

More to come…

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.

More to come…

Boredom: A Stage of Enlightenment

By Swami Shrutananda 

People ask me, “What are you up to?”  I say, “Nothing”.  Every day is the same.  I have become boring!  This monotony is not just due to the pandemic.  I blame Swami Nirmalananda (Gurudevi), our Master Teacher, for my boredom and for me being boring.

For us Ashram residents, she has created a repetitive daily practice.  We start a chant at 5:15 am six days a week and meditate every day at 6:30 am.  We have breakfast with the same people, and then do seva (selfless service).  We have lunch with the same people, and then do more seva.  In the evening, we gather for a reading, chant, and meditation.  Every single day is the same — day in and day out. 

My mind has had nowhere to go except inward.  When I was first beginning to look inward, I bumped into what my mind found important and interesting — but was not.  I found my mind repeating things relentlessly.  Rather than bringing up the best stuff in my life, it presented the worst.  My mind was planning and worrying how to get everything done in a short amount of time.  It kept me thinking about what I want, what I don’t want, and unpleasant experiences and conversations.  Worse, it constantly asked about who’s to blame?

When you do enough yoga, whatever that is for you, the mind begins to quiet down.  It’s more peaceful.  Then comes the boredom.  When this happened for me, I looked inside, and nothing was happening.  Nothing.  The entertaining mental and emotional rollercoaster ride had slowed to a crawl.  When I looked outside, what most people like to do and talk about no longer entertained me.  This being in the in-between is painful.  I am not who I used to be, but not yet who I will be — abiding in my own Divine Essence. 

It’s heartening to know that this boredom is a stage along the way to the knowing of your own Divine Essence — your Self.  It is a stage of enlightenment.  What a relief to know this is temporary.  Gurudevi described this stage in one of the lessons in her 2018 Year-Long Programme: “Enlightenment in the Midst of Life”:

The 10th century Kashmiri sage, Abhinavagupta, writes:

nija-“si.sya-vibodhaaya prabuddha-smaranaaya ca

maya-abhinavaguptena “sramo’ya.m kriyate manaak.

For enlightening my own disciples, and for reminding the already enlightened ones (of their own enlightenment), I, Abhinavagupta, am making some effort (in writing this commentary). (1)

This means there are stages of enlightenment.  It also means that, when you’re enlightened, you need help understanding your state.(2)

I have had the privilege of living and studying with Gurudevi for almost 30 years.  I watched as she deepened and became fully enlightened.  Now I watch as she continues to expand into that state of Self Knowingness.  I see that it just keeps getting better and better.  She lives in the steady, continuing, expansive, blissful inner state.  I see it fill her heart, her mind and her life.

Gurudevi knows the stages along the way because she has been through them.  Therefore, she can guide you.  She can help you to understand your state and get beyond where you are stuck.  

Patanjali says there are seven stages of enlightenment: 

Tasya saptadhaa praanta-bhuumi.h praj~nyaa.— Yoga Sutras 2.27

The highest stage of enlightenment unfolds by seven stages.(3)

He is not saying that you go through seven stages on the way to enlightenment.  These are stages your mind goes through once you attain enlightenment.  Boredom is on the list.  Like a tour guide, Patanjali shows you the scenery along the way as you go upriver to the source.  His system gives you arduous practices to work on your mind, specifically to free you from your mind.  

Gurudevi’s teachings are based in a different yogic system, Kashmiri Shaivism.  Through Shaktipat, she takes you more quickly and easily inward to the knowing of your own Self.  You glide on the river of Grace to the source of your own Beingness.  Grace makes all this happen, the revelation of your own Self to you.

Shaktipat is the turning point, creating an inner opening that overwhelms your mind.  That inner opening stays open forever after.  But most people don’t get instantly enlightened.  Why not?  Oh, your mind!  Instead of looking through the opening deeper inside, most people continue to look outward.  Then their mind must go through the processes Patanjali describes. 

If you want to avoid that laborious process, keep looking through the opening inward.  How do you do that?  More mantra.  Repeating mantra is what Gurudevi did.  If you do what Gurudevi did, you will get what she got.  You will become fully enlightened.  Do more mantra.

(1) Jaidev Singh, A Trident of Wisdom (Albany, New York, State University of New York 1989), page 5

(2) Saraswati, Swami Nirmalananda, Enlightenment in the Midst of Life: Stepping Into Life (Downingtown PA,  Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram 2018), page 5

(3) Rendered by Swami Nirmalananda

Always, Already Self

By Swami Samvidaananda

You are pure, whole, complete, divine.  You always have been.  You already are.  

When I first heard this teaching, I was delighted, amazed and … dubious.  It rang a bell somewhere deep inside.  But that contrasted with much of the time when I felt alone, empty and incomplete.  So I wondered how the teaching could be true?  But, inside I knew it was true.  Better, I know that you can know, too.

An ancient yogic text gives the promise of your Divinity:

Chaitanyam-aatmaa — Shiva Sutras 1.1

Your own Self is Consciousness-Itself [1]

This is chapter one, verse one: the first and highest teaching.  Your own Self is Consciousness.  Consciousness is the One Ever-Existent Reality, the Divine Source and substance of everything that exists.  It is who you are.  You are the One, Divine Reality, who is embodied as you.  When you know your inherent Divinity, you know that everything and everyone else is that same Divinity.   

You get glimmers of your inner light when you do what gives you joy.  You are radiant when you’re in love.  You glow when you give with generosity.  Others see it, but more importantly, you feel it.  It’s the light of your Divinity.

You get glimpses of another’s Divinity when you look in a baby’s eyes or the eyes of a beloved.  Perhaps you seek out glorious sunsets, majestic mountain vistas or walks in the quiet cathedral of a forest.  The glory and majesty of nature reveals its Divinity, and triggers within you an experience of the Divine.  It all happens inside.

Pixabay.com

But you don’t know your own Divinity enough of the time.  The sun is gone.  Sometimes weather doesn’t allow for climbing mountains.  The quiet of the forest is ruined by someone on their cell phone.  You have joy but you also have sorrow.  Sometimes you feel whole but sometimes you feel incomplete.  Most of the time, probably, you feel incomplete.  

So is there a way to know your Divinity all the time?  Yes.  

You can always know that your own Self is Consciousness-Itself.  It doesn’t come from learning the sutras, though the sutras do tell you how to attain that knowing.  There are those beings who know their Divinity all the time. They live their Divinity all the time.  And they have the ability to awaken that knowing in you.  That awakening is called Shaktipat, so they are called Shaktipat Gurus. 

My spiritual teacher is such a Guru.  Her name is Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati.  When she gave me Shaktipat, my world changed.  It was like I had been living in a dark room with blackout curtains, but I didn’t know there were blackout curtains over the windows.  I simply thought it was nighttime all the time.  Shaktipat opened the curtains to show me daylight. 

Once you know, you can’t not know.  I can pull the curtains over the window again, but I know the sun is shining outside.  So if I make my world dark again, it’s my choice.  Sometimes I make that choice again, from habit or old persistent patterns.  But more often, I make the choices that support the light.  Mainly, I meditate.  It’s called Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation.  And every time I do it, the light shines brighter because I’m blocking it less.  I can’t even close those curtains anymore the way I used to be able to. 

Here’s where the metaphor breaks down.  Because you find the light inside.  It’s the light of your inherent Divinity, of your own Self.  You are pure, whole, complete, divine.  You always have been.  You already are.  I don’t doubt this anymore.  Though I don’t know it all the time yet, I know that one day I will.  And you can too.  If you want her to, Gurudevi will give you the awakening called Shaktipat.  Then the curtains will open, and the light of your Divinity will be revealed.  Do you want to know?


[1] Rendered by Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati