Reality is Multidimensional

By Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda

I’m a realist.  I carefully assess whatever I’m facing so that I understand what it really is.  Then I work with it the way it is.  There’s no point in trying to make water flow uphill.  When the government ordered us to shelter-in-place, I realized the Ashram’s day-to-day needs would change.  I revised our daily practice schedule while I looked for ways to support our extended yoga-family.  I watch the death toll mount daily.  I lead us in prayers and blessings for all affected by the pandemic.  And I embrace the day-to-day process while planning for the future, even though I recognize that we cannot predict what will happen.

I’m an idealist.  In my idea of a perfect world, everyone would be doing yoga and meditation.  They’d be healthier and happier than most are now.  The virus would have trouble getting a foothold in such an ideal world.  But because I’m a realist, I know they haven’t been taking care of themselves.  So I work hard to reach them, to help them through the crisis and to motivate them to want more for themselves.  I remind everyone, “Do more yoga,” an ideal worth striving for.

I’m a dreamer.  I visualize a world where everyone has clean water and enough to eat, access to medical care and education along with the respect they are entitled to as a human being.  Yet I know it all depends on people caring about others, which won’t happen unless their hearts grow bigger than their fears.  Every day, I work on making that happen.

I’m a mystic.  I see the Divine at work in our current crisis.  Even though things are hard, it’s a type of yogic austerity (tapas) that always pays off.  People are rearranging their priorities, asking life’s important questions and choosing new ways to spend their time.  How do you get the whole world to do this at the same time?  I see a Divine Hand pushing the reset button for everyone.

I’m a yogi.  I know how to maximize the benefits of simple things.  While we’re in an enforced time out, it’s an opportunity for a time of looking inward.  I’m building on-ramps to inner peace and the bliss of Consciousness through online courses and social media.  Now is the time to help people find what they’re missing — their own Self.

I’m a human being.  I recognize my dependency on the others that make necessities available.  I am grateful to all who are working so hard for our benefit.  My heart aches for those living in fear and hardship, along with those who are ill and those isolated by fear of illness.  I am grateful for being safe, warm and cared for, while I wish I could do more to help.

And the sun will come up again tomorrow.

Self-Care Outside and Inside

By Swami Sahajananda

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched the lives of all of us.  We are all faced with the reality of the rising number of cases of infection and death.  Deliberating about how to deal with this worldwide situation, you may be feeling at a loss.  Reading the news or talking to others, you may even feel hopeless.  With the dramatic shifts in numbers from day to day, you may wonder what you can do.  How can I affect this situation?  How can I take care of myself, both inside and outside, during this time?

Wash your hands!  This directive tops the list of information about protecting yourself from the COVID-19 virus.   Today, this one message is the most important for keeping safe and healthy.  Diligent, consistent hand washing is the best action to take for protecting yourself from the virus.  This is how you protect yourself on the outside.

The most important message about taking care of yourself on the inside comes from yoga.  Gurudevi Nirmalananda conveys it: do more japa and more meditation.  These practices turn you inward to find your own divine Self.  Being in your Self gives you strength and steadiness in how you live in the world, especially in these difficult, challenging times.

Both handwashing and japa require attention, dedication and perseverance.  This correlation came to me as I was washing my hands for the 10th or 20th time within an hour.  You must remember to wash your hands often.  Who knows where you may encounter the virus?  Then, to manage inner self-care, remember to repeat mantra.  Bring mantra back over and over again, over and over again.  Both handwashing and japa resonate with an ancient yogic teaching, the principle of abhyasa:

sa tu diirgha-kaala-nairantarya- satkaaraasevito d.r.dhabhuumi.h. — Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.14

Abhyasa (practice) becomes firmly grounded by being cultivated for a long time, without interruption and with devotion. — Rendered by Swami Nirmalananda

Results are attained by consistent and dedicated practice.  Washing my hands has becomes a practice I do often and with dedication or perseverance.  I am engaging in abhyasa on a very practical level.  Remembering why I am doing it encourages me to continue.  There are no shortcuts to being diligent about hygiene and health in this time of a pandemic.

Keeping my hands off my face requires a heightened awareness of what I am doing.  Moment to moment, I must be more aware.  Being conscious of every detail of what I’m doing has become a consistent, dedicated practice.  I cannot drift.  Similarly, I must also dedicate myself to not losing awareness of my mind and thoughts.  If my mind wanders, then my actions become automatic and often unconscious.  Thus, I must not veer from the consistent, dedicated practice of being aware.  This consistent dedication to awareness is not only a lofty spiritual goal.  It is an essential preventative measure to keep my body safe and healthy.  In that way, it illuminates the interweaving of the spiritual and the mundane.

The applicability of yogic principles to how you live on the outside is clear.  In response to this worldwide crisis, what do you do with the emotions, feelings and spiritual angst that arise within?  News has always been good at fanning the fires of fear and panic.  Of course, you do want to be informed.  Can you do so without getting caught up or lost in your reactions to the news?

Yoga tells you to turn within and find the deeper dimension within.  Yoga urges you to experience your own beingness on the inside.  Yoga specializes in working with the mind.  Japa — mantra repetition — has been called scrubby bubbles for the mind.  Practice japa to wash your mind, just like you wash your hands!  Repeating mantra brings you inside, beyond the chatter of your mind.  Even if your mind is active, use mantra’s scrubby bubbles to clear it out.  Simply repeat the mantra along with your thoughts.  It will work.

Our Svaroopa® yoga mantra is enlivened.  Handed down to us through generations of meditation masters, this mantra vibrates with their blessings.  It takes you inward, to essence of your own being easily.  When you approach your life from the knowing of your own Divine Essence, everything changes.

For many now, the demands that usually keep you busy have lessened.  You can do things that you have wanted to do for a long time.  You did not have time for them before in your busy, hectic life.  You can catch up on your favorite TV shows, try out new recipes or take virtual museum tours.  Yet you may find yourself becoming bored after a week or two.  You may also find your mind has time to dwell on “negativities” and to get caught in old, familiar limiting thought patterns.  You may be watching too much news about the virus, and it sets you off into worry and fear.  When you have exhausted the ways of looking outside for distraction, you may find discontent and deeper emotions arising.  It is now time for a course correction, even before this happens.

This time of enforced staying at home is the perfect setup for inner exploration.  Now, you have an opportunity to be quiet, to settle and become still.  You can dive more deeply into the practices that bring you in touch with your own Self.  You have the golden opportunity to explore inward.

Yoga practices excel at inner exploration.  This time is a perfect time to learn how to meditate or to lengthen your meditation time.  This time is perfect to do more japa.  Incorporate it into your day more consistently.  Use your developing awareness of being more conscious on the outside to remember to take care or your inside.  Repeat mantra and meditate.

When you practice mantra, panic and worry take a back seat.  You may find that the thoughts and emotions are gone.  All that is left is mantra. The mantra settles you into your Self. You have a deep inner knowing that arises out of being seated within. You know your Self. You will still respond to situations that arise, but you will do so intelligently, from a settled place within.  You will be able to look at a situation and make decisions based on knowledge and wisdom.  You won’t being reacting to fear, loneliness or despair.  Instead, you will respond from a stable knowingness within your own being.

Take this time to dive deeper within to find that vast expanse of your own being.  It is right there within you; it is you, your own Divine Essence.  And it is so close.  Mantra and meditation will take you there.  You can set up an enhanced schedule for yourself so that these practices are a part of your life.  Practice abhyasa by doing your yoga practices consistently, with dedication and perseverance, just like washing your hands.  Make a commitment to yourself, so even when you don’t want to do more yoga, you do it!

This is a sacred time.  Use it to honor and serve yourself and the world around you.  You don’t have the distractions that have habitually pulled you outside of yourself.  You don’t have the excuses that have kept you focused on the outside.  Take the time now to turn within.  When you turn within you will find that which has always been there, your own Self. You can turn this crisis into a celebration of your inherent nature of being.  You can explore on the inside that who you truly are and have always been.  Do more yoga and wash your hands often!

Krishna Avatar Part 10

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Jarasandha was a very powerful king who expanded the Magadha kingdom.  Alliances with other kings made him become a mighty king of that area.  Both his daughters married Kamsa of Mathura, but they returned to him when Krishna killed Kamsa.  Jarasandha was very angry and decided to kill Krishna.

Jarasandha took his massive army to war with Krishna, arriving at the gates of Mathura.  Krishna debated whether to kill Jarasandha or to teach him a lesson by destroying his army.  While Krishna was contemplating, two beautiful chariots appeared from the skies, full of weapons and all that was needed for a battle.

Krishna and Balarama jumped in the chariots and went outside the city to battle with Jarasandha.  Using his mighty bow called Saranga, Krishna destroyed Jarasandha’s army in no time.  But he spared Jarasandha’s life.  When Balarama leaped like a lion to kill Jarasandha, Krishna calmed Balarama, saying that the time for Jarasandha’s end hadn’t yet come.  Jarasandha, his pride having been wounded, decided to give up his kingdom and become a renunciant in the forest.

He was consoled by other Kings not to take such a drastic decision.  They reminded him that victory and defeat should be treated equally and accepted by true heroes.  Many Kings who previously had alliances with Kamsa joined hands with Jarasandha.  Jarasandha, along with other Kings, attacked Mathura seventeen times, failing bitterly — each time worse than before.  Under the leadership of Krishna, the people of Mathura bravely repulsed each attack.

Unable to defeat Krishna, Jarasandha made an alliance with Kalayavana, a Yavana (Greek) king who had gotten a boon from Lord Brahma that he would be undefeated on any battlefield.  Kalayavana, being a fierce worrier, was seeking a fight with a worthy opponent and thought Krishna would be the best fit.

When Krishna heard about Jarasandha’s new alliance, he knew the combined armies would destroy Mathura.  Already, due to the many battles, the daily life of Mathura was disrupted.  Commerce and trade were ruined.  Krishna realized the kingdom had to face many dangers if they stayed there.

He summoned Vishvakarma, the divine architect, requesting him to build a city which would be hard for his enemies to reach.  For this reason, Vishvakarma decided to build this city in the middle of the sea.  Thus, he wanted some land from the sea, but if only Varuna, the Lord of the Sea) would allow.

Krishna called upon Varuna, who gracefully gave the land.  Vishvakarma built the magnificent Dvaraka, a city like none before.  It was a city so golden that it cast its radiance on the ocean for miles and miles around.  First the citizens of Mathura were moved safely to Dvaraka.  Then Krishna, together with Balarama, started strategizing the war with Kalayavana and Jarasandha.  They decided they needed a lustrous plan to kill Kalayavana, since it was not possible to kill him on the battlefield due to his boon.

Krishna decided to meet Kalayavana without any weapons or chariot.  When Krishna walked towards Kalayavana, without anything to protect himself, Kalayavana was surprised and puzzled all at the same time.  Kalayavana had heard so much about Krishna from Sage Narada, so what he was seeing matched everything he’d heard, but he was taken by Krishna’s actions.  According to the principles of war, Kalayavana decided to challenge Krishna for a duel without weapons, making things easy for the brothers.

Krishna strategically fled the battlefield and lured Kalayavana into a cave.  This cave is where Muchukunda, the great king of Ishvakhu Dynasty, was in deep sleep for thousands of years after helping devas in epic wars with the asuras for many many years.  The devas granted this undisturbed sleep as a boon to Muchukunda for his service to them.  Muchukunda had also requested Devas that anyone who would disturb his sleep would get burnt to ashes immediately.  After entering the cave, knowing this boon, Krishna covered Muchukunda with his shawl.  Then Krishna hid in the cave.

Chasing Krishna, determined to kill him, Kalayavana entered the cave and found someone sleeping there.  As Krishna’s shawl was covering the sleeper, Kalayavana assumed it was Krishna who made him chase all the way to the cave and now was pretending to be sleeping.  He got really mad at Krishna and kicked Muchukunda, assuming him to be Krishna, thus disturbing Muchukunda’s sleep.  Muchukunda woke up from his sleep and looked at Kalayavana, thus burning him to ashes.

Krishna appeared in front of Muchukunda, who was delighted to see Krishna there, who was none other than Lord Vishnu.  Krishna advised him to perform tapas in order to cleanse the accumulated sins and attain moksha (liberation).  After meeting the Lord, Muchukunda left the cave, going to Badrikashram to do penance to achieve liberation.

Krishna came out of the cave and wiped out Kalayavana’s mighty army.  Then Krishna and Balarama returned, finding Jarasandha besieging Mathura with all his might, fighting vigorously to fulfill his vengeance.  Krishna and Balarama decided to lure Jarasandha away by pretending to be afraid.  They ran away from the battlefield to climb a hill.  Seeing them flee, Jarasandha decided to finish them once and for all by setting fire to the hill.  Krishna and Balarama, with their yogic powers, jumped clear of the flames and escaped without Jarasandha’s knowledge.  Jarasandha returned home happily, bragging about how he got rid of the Yadava brothers.  Yet he would face Krishna and Balarama on another day in the future.

As the people worked in the rice fields near Dvaraka, one day two strangers approached, an elderly King-like figure and a young woman.  Their approach caused complete chaos.  Why the chaos?  These strangers were giants.  Talking among themselves, they were saying that everything they were seeing had changed, that the people have become very small.  The young woman asked the King-like person, “Father, is this our capital?”  He answered, “I don’t know, Revati, let’s ask those tiny men.”

The people were shouting “Giants! Run, run, run!”  The giant man politely said, “Wait, don’t run away!  We won’t hurt you.  We are friends.”  But the people were running away in all directions.  The running didn’t help; the giant man caught a couple of them and said, “We are friends.  Is this Kusasthali?”

The men were trembling in fear of being eaten alive.  One of them in a shivering voice said “K-K-Kusasthali? N-N-No, this is D-D-Dvaraka.  This is King Ugrasena’s k-k-kingdom and Krishna is our crown prince.”  The giant man replied, “My name is Raivata.  Some people even call me Kakudmi.  I am the ruler of Kusasthali.”  The men were clueless but offered to show the way to the castle in Dvaraka and take them to the king.  Raivata and his daughter Revati arrived at the castle gates.

Now the chaos moved into the city, all the way to the castle gates.  King Raivata requested the guards to ask King Ugrasena to see him.  Though King Ugrasena had not heard of a King Raivata, he ordered his guards to lead the two strangers in.  Even the elder ministers of Dvaraka didn’t know the name Raivata, except for one of them.  He had read about a King Raivata who lived thousands of years, perhaps some yugas before.  All of them were even more puzzled than before.

Though King Ugrasena was confused, as a benevolent king, he welcomed the giant visitors, offering them special giant-sized seats.  Krishna and Balarama were also present in the royal court.  Balarama was mesmerized by the beauty of Revati.  Krishna noticed it and was enjoying his elder brother’s infatuation in his usual mischievous way.

King Raivata, sensing the confusion in the court, started telling his story.  “I am Raivata, also known as Kakudmi.  I am a great grandson of Manu.  I think I reigned over this land centuries ago.  My kingdom was known as Anarta, with my capital Kusasthali situated where your city, Dvaraka, stands today.  This is my daughter Revati, who is lovely, talented and virtuous.  I wanted to find a good husband for my daughter but was unable to find anyone in all of the earth suitable for her.  So, I decided to take her to Satyaloka, to see Lord Brahma and seek his advice.

“For her sake, I left my kingdom and set off to Satyaloka with her.  When we reached Satyaloka, Brahma was listening to a musical presentation of the Gandharvas, the musicians of the devas.  Not wanting to disturb him, we waited until the program was over.  When the program ended, I did my pranams to Lord Brahma, told my story and asked my question.  I requested him to suggest a suitable groom for Revati.

“He asked me if I knew how much time had elapsed on earth while I waited for the musical performance to finish.  Brahma said all the people I knew, including my friends, ministers, servants, wives, kinsmen, armies and treasures had now vanished.  Only then did I realize my mistake in waiting for so long.  As you know, a minute in Satyaloka is a number of years on earth.  I don’t know how many years or yugas have passed.  I didn’t know if anyone who is alive at this point might marry my daughter.

“Then Brahma asked me to go back to my own kingdom, where I would find a wielder of the plough, who would be more than worthy of marrying my daughter.  So, I have come to my kingdom, or which was once my kingdom to find the wielder of the plough,” Raivata said.

King Ugrasena, said that they knew who the wielder of the plough was.  Obviously, everyone knew who the wielder of the plough was, everyone except the wielder of the plough himself.  Balarama was still mesmerized, staring at Revati.  King Ugrasena, shouted, “Well, Balarama, what do you say?”

Coming out of his dreamland, Balarama was clueless as to what had happened.  Krishna had to pull him aside and tell him what transpired.  Balarama now knew why Krishna had such a mischievous look on his face.  Balarama was so happy, his face saying it all.  He said, “Yes, I will marry Revati.”

Both Balarama and Revati were blushing.  Balarama then said, “The height is a bit of a problem.”  He then instructed Revati to touch his ploughshare with her toe.  What a miracle: as soon as Revati touched the ploughshare with her toe, she grew shorter and shorter until she shrunk to Balarama’s size.

Raivata, delighted that he had found the right match for his daughter, shouted “Perfect!  This match is perfect!”  Later, amidst great rejoicing, on an auspicious day, Balarama and Revati were united in marriage.  Revati and Balarama had two sons, Nisatha and Ulmuka, and a daughter named Vatsala, who is also known as Sasirekha.

More to come…

Mystical Yoga, Mystical Spine

By Swami Satrupananda

Svaroopa® yoga is a mystical yoga.  What is mystical?  Mysticism is the science of attaining union with the Divine.  Yes, that’s what I want!  And that is what Svaroopa® yoga is about – experiencing and being your own Divinity.  Though the dictionary describes mysticism as “union” with the Divine, yoga mystics do not call it union.  Union implies there are two that become one. Instead, yoga says that you “realize” your own Divinity. You don’t become Divine; you realize you already are Divine.  You just don’t know it – yet.

All Svaroopa® yoga practices are for the purpose of revealing your own Divinity to you.  It’s right there in the name.  Sva means true or divine.  Roopa means form. Svaroopa means your true form, your Divine form.  Your true form is the one Divine Reality that is being you, the One that has become everyone and everything.

To become the universe and everything in it, the One first became energy, simply by moving.  The One in movement is energy, which yoga calls “shakti.” Shakti then contracts into matter to become you, your body and this physical world.  The scientists agree. Einstein described this relationship between energy and mass in his famous equation E=mc2.  Shakti contracts to be your mind, your senses and much more as well. Yoga’s ancient mystics mapped 36 levels of contraction that the One takes on in order to become everyone and everything in the universe.

These energies move in particular patterns.  They interact with each other in certain ways as they contract into matter.  In the human body, we see the physical manifestation of these energy currents represented in your body’s nervous system.  Your spinal cord is at your body’s core with your brain as the mushroom cap on top.  Everything branches out from this core.

A similar system exists in the subtler energetic realm.  The sages mapped the energy channels, naming the different channels and energies that flow through them.  The medical system of acupuncture got their map from yoga’s sages, with it being based on the same energy channels.

Your spinal cord is the center of your nervous system.  And at the same location in your body’s core, on a more subtle level, runs a central energy channel called “sushumna.”  Your spinal cord and sushumna are your main conduits of energy.  Your spinal cord is the main conduit that collects and disseminates signals within your nervous system.  The sushumna is the main conduit of energy of your mind and your spiritual meditative energy.

Kshemaraja, a yogic sage from 10th Century Kashmir, emphasized the importance of the central channel:

madhya vikaasaach chidaananda laabhah. — Pratyabhijnhrdayam, Sutra 17

You attain the bliss of Consciousness through the opening of the central channel. —Translated by Swami Nirmalananda

Kshemaraja is saying you attain the bliss of the One Divine Reality through the opening of the central channel, your spine.  Thus Svaroopa® yoga poses focus on decompressing your spine.  When you release the tensions in your spinal muscles, you make room physically and energetically.  When not pinched or kinked, your spinal cord and nervous system can function better.  This improved functioning has a ripple effect throughout the rest of your body.  This core opening simultaneously impacts the flow of energy that sources your mind and emotions.  Your energetic core is honored as the heart of your being.  As you open your spine, you open your mind, heart and emotions, plus your own Divinity is revealed, as it is found particularly within your spine.

Recently I caught my mind in the process of repeating the same thought patterns again and again.  As observed this pattern, I asked myself, “Where is this coming from?”  My spine! I could feel that the energy sourcing my mind was running through my spine but running into a kink in the path.  This kink spun my mind into a repetitive thought pattern.  That’s really nothing new.  The difference was that I noticed it.

Then I applied my mind to mantra repetition.  A few hours later, I realized that my mind had not brought up that mental pattern again.  By repeating mantra, I had unkinked the energy channel enough for the energy of my mind to flow through unobstructed.  I had a tangible experience of the effects of opening the central channel.  With a calm mind, I was sitting deeper within my own Divinity.

We’re back to mysticism – realizing and being your own Divinity.  The opening of your mystical spine gives you mystical experiences of the bliss of your own Divinity.  Do more mystical yoga.

Cultivate Your Yearning

By Swami Prajñananda

You have always wanted more. More than your parents could give you. More than your school could give you. More than any partner could give you. And more than life could give you.  This desire for more is cultivated in our society: more cars, more money, more gadgets, MORE things. We have a thirst. Society tries to quench it with a mirage of water in the desert. But our thirst will never be quenched by anything on the outside. Of course, you can try. I certainly did.

Even from a young age, I felt like there was something missing. I felt an emptiness inside. I did everything I could to distract myself from it. While I really did try, none of what I did was enough. That is, until I found yoga and meditation. This is the story for most yogis in the West; we tend to have tried the whole gamut before discovering the “More” in yoga.

This desire for more comes from an inner feeling that you are not enough. It makes sense that you try to fill it. Why would you want to continue feeling that painful emptiness? You have a yearning to feel good enough, to feel complete, to know your purpose. While most people feeling this yearning turn outside for the answer, yoga tells you to turn within.

While society cultivates your desire, yoga cultivates your yearning. This yearning is to be cultivated and nurtured. It keeps you going to discover the inner realms of your being. It’s the fuel that propels you to becoming established in the knowing of your Self. You need to look inward for this to happen.

When you look outward, you feel incomplete because you are identifying with things that ARE incomplete. You are identifying with your body, and is anyone’s body perfect? You are identifying with your mind. Please show me someone with a perfect mind! In this way, you are setting yourself up to feel small and imperfect.

Instead of identifying with parts of the whole, yoga gives you practices for going deeper — deeper than your body and deeper than your mind. Svaroopa® yoga and meditation give you the experience of the whole of your Self. And every time you experience your own Divine Essence, you satisfy that deep yearning. At the same time, you add fuel to your inner fire to repeat that experience.

Yoga has a name for this yearning: Bhairava. This name describes God when God is pushing you to discover God. Bhairava IS the yearning. Bhairava is the fuel for your quest. Bhairava is the one that pushes you to keep looking for the “More.” And Bhairava is the one that sets you free. As a yogi, you have a true friend in Bhairava, because he will not let you settle for any less than God.

This process can be painful. While Bhairava is trying to free you from your limitations, you hold on to them. It’s like tug of war, with Bhairava pulling on one end and you on the other. And while you can say no to God, God will not say no to you. Bhairava will continue to try to free you from your sense of being incomplete.

The Shiva Sutras explains:

Udyamo bhairava.h  — Shiva Sutras 1.5

The arising of transcendental consciousness from within shatters your unknowingness and sets you free. — Translated by Swami Nirmalananda

Bhairava is the force arising within you in the form of yearning and in the form of freedom. The yearning is what compels you to take a yoga or meditation class. You may have started a yoga class for physical, mental or emotional healing, which you get, especially with continued practice. However, it’s the yearning that keeps you coming back. Before you can put words to it, you know that you are receiving getting that “More” you have always been looking for.

What you want is the arising of transcendental Consciousness within.  This arising shatters your unknowingness, because once you know, you can never not know. What is your unknowingness? It is the not-knowing of your inherent Divinity.  It is your identification with anything other than your Self. It is the feeling of being empty, alone and not good enough. Bhairava shatters your unknowingness and opens you up to the freedom of your own being. This is the reason that you have always been dissatisfied with anything less than total inner freedom.

You experience this inner arising at times other than yoga or meditation, like when you watch a sunset or experience an “aha” moment. This inner arising is the specialty of this tradition, always available to you. The Svaroopa® Sciences, originated by Gurudevi Nirmalananda, bring the age-old tradition into our modern age. Reliable and consistent, these practices always open you up to the inner arising. You experience the freedom of your own Self and the blissful knowing of your own being.

This happens because of the generations of Masters in this tradition. Their teachings and blessings give us direct access to the inner arising. While Bhairava is the force that frees you, the Shaktipat Guru gives you reliable, consistent access to that force. Then it is up to you to continue to cultivate your yearning. This way, you don’t settle for merely feeling better, you continue to cultivate your yearning for the “More.” You do the practices that give you that inner freedom until you can live in that state. As Gurudevi says, “Do more yoga.”

Follow Every Rainbow

By Swami Samvidaananda

Climb every mountain, ford every stream. Follow every rainbow, ’till you find your dream

– Rodgers & Hammerstein, 1959

As a five-year old, I was so inspired by the song “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from The Sound of Music.  Every time I heard it, for years and years, I knew was going to do it: search high and low to find my dream!  It was out there, I was sure, somewhere.  I was confident college would help me find it.  When that didn’t work, I thought for sure I’d find it by moving to California.  I lived in a paradise of palm trees, ocean waves and tropical flowers.  I literally climbed mountains and forded streams.  I was happy, but only sometimes.  I was blissful, occasionally.  But it simply wasn’t enough.  I felt empty most of the time.  Worse, I didn’t know why.

Then I found the answer in yoga.  I had been trying to find meaning and happiness by looking outside.  The yogic sages explain the path is one of inner exploration and discovery.  The outer things — whether career or where you live or a relationship — are unreliable sources.  A fellow yogi shared that raising her son gave her the most joy she’d ever had.  And then, she said, “He grew up.”  Children grow up, relationships end, careers change.

When you turn your attention inside with yoga, especially with meditation, you discover a reliable and inexhaustible fountain of joy.  You don’t merely experience the joy, you discover you are the source of the joy, the source of happiness, the Divine Source of everything that exists:

chidaananda-roopah shivo’ham shivo’ham. – Adi Shankaracharya, 788-820 CE

My true form is the bliss of consciousness; I am Shiva. I am Shiva. – Translated by Swami Nirmalananda

You are Shiva, the One Divine Reality, the Source of all while being beyond all.  In the same way physicists describe this universe as made of energy, yogis describe this universe as made of Divine Energy.  That Divinity is Shiva, which is being all, thus being you.  You don’t have to earn. attain or grow into your Shiva-ness.  Divinity is intrinsic to who you are, like sunlight is bright and sand is gritty.  You can’t take the light or heat out of the sunlight, and you can’t take the grittiness out of the sand.  You can’t take the Divinity out of you.

So how come you don’t know you are Shiva?  Your inner knowing is hidden from you.  Shiva hid it.  Technically, Shiva hid Shiva’s own Shiva-ness from Shiva in order to experience being not-Shiva, thus being you.  Shiva becomes the individual, who feels small, separate and alone.  Yet your Divinity is not completely obscured.  It’s like it’s hidden behind a curtain that’s not completely opaque; you can see through it sometimes.  You have moments when you know there’s more, moments you know you are more.  Those moments are so blissful that you want to experience them more of the time.  How about all the time?

Yoga promises that you will know the “More” that you already are, and you will live in that Self-knowingness all the time.  While Shiva created your not-knowing, Shiva also created a way for you to know again.  Knowing who you are is the purpose of human life.  What is concealed can be revealed.

Many paths aim to these heights. Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation is one of them: revealing your Divinity to you is the specialty of this tradition.  The process is through an inner awakening, an initiation called Shaktipat.  When your inherent Divinity is revealed to you inside, then, when you open your eyes, you can see that same Divinity in everyone and everything that exists.  Everything is Divine, because Divinity is what everything is made of.

Once you know your own Divinity, where will you go?  Anywhere you choose.  What will you do?  Anything you choose.  This is not about you leaving the world.  There’s no need to end up facing a wall in a cave in the high Himalayas.  You can do what you do, with the people you do it with, where you are now.  This path does not negate the choices you’ve made.  It embraces them.  The difference is that you will bring the whole of yourself to everything you do.  You’ll act from fullness, not emptiness and need.  You’ll shine the Light of Consciousness into your relationships, your home, your job and other activities.  You get to sculpt your life in whatever way you choose.  So climb mountains, if you want to.  Ford streams.  Follow rainbows.  Find your dream.  And, to know your own Divinity, get Shaktipat.  It opens the door to your own Self.

Krishna Avatar Part 9

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Nanda and Vasudeva decided that Krishna and Balarama should be sent to school, to the gurukul.  Garg Muni, their family Guru, recommended the great teacher Sandipani Muni’s ashram in what is now Madhya Pradesh.  Sandipani Muni accepted the request from Nanda and Vasudeva, taking Krishna and Balarama under his wing, to study the scriptures, different arts, and warrior training and even the customs for a royal prince, as they had been born into a royal family.

Krishna got friendly with a lot of the other students in the ashram, especially with Sudama, who became his best friend.  Krishna and Balarama studied well under Sandipani Muni along with other students.

Krishna and Balarama learnt everything within a span of 64 days, including fourteen types of sciences (vidya) and sixty-four skills and arts (kalas).  Once they received the teachings, according to the custom, they asked their Guru what to offer as Guru Dakshina.  Sandipani Muni said he would consult his wife and let them know.  Knowing how powerful the boys were, his wife had a special request for them, which Sandipani Muni conveyed to them.  The ask was for them to bring back their only son alive, who had drowned some time ago while having a bath in Prabhasa Tirtha.  Yes, to have his son restored to life is what he wanted for Guru Dakshina.

Krishna called upon Varuna, the god of seas, inquiring about Sandipani Muni’s son.  Varuna didn’t know much about the boy but remembered hearing that an asura named Pa~nchajanya, in the form of a conch, had killed the boy.  Immediately Krishna and Balarama went to the ocean and found the asura.  They killed him by opening his stomach.  But, to their surprise, they couldn’t find the boy.  Krishna kept Pa~nchajanya ever since that day as his conch.

Not finding Sandipani Muni’s son, they decide to visit Yama Loka, where the god of death resides.  There Krishna took his conch and made the biggest sound ever.  Hearing this, Yama appeared before them.  Knowing what Krishna and Balarama were looking for, and knowing who they really were, Yama gave the boy back to them.  Krishna and Balarama took the boy back to Sandipani Muni, successfully finishing their studies by giving the dakshina their Guru requested.  Sandipani Muni and his wife blessed both Krishna and Balarama with their highest blessings.  As Sandipani Muni was so happy, he also blessed Krishna that all his teachings to the world will be equivalent to the Vedas themselves.

Krishna and Balarama happily returned to their families and friends in the city of Mathura.  They were received with utmost welcome.  The people acted as they were found the treasure for which they have been looking for decades.

Krishna decided to send a message to Vrindaavan, to his foster parents and his dear Gopiis, including his dearest Radha.  He chose Uddhava, his cousin, friend and a wise counselor.  Uddhava was a direct disciple of Brihaspathi (Guru of the Devas) and also the son of Devabhaga, who was the brother of Vasudeva, Krishna’s father.  Uddhava was also a great devotee of Krishna.  His physical appearance was so like Krishna’s that, in some instances, he was temporarily mistaken for him.

Krishna met Uddhava in a private place and requested him to visit Vrindaavan with a message on his behalf to the Gopiis and other residents of the village, who were missing his company.  Krishna requested Uddhava to tell them that they should know there is no separation between him and them.  As all the rivers come to the ocean, they will attain him with their continuous love, devotion and austerities.  Since he was physically apart from them, they should think of him day and night, as a good wife would think about her beloved husband all the time.  So for them, to forget about everything and only to meditate on him.

Uddhava reached there at dusk when the cows were returning home.  The dust from their hooves made Uddhava’s chariot disappear in its cloudiness.  Uddhava reached Nanda’s home where Nanda treated Uddhava as he would treat Krishna, delighting that Uddhava’s physical appearance was so like Krishna’s.  Nanda asked Uddhava question after question.  He asked whether Krishna was remembering them?  He also asked whether Krishna remembered his friends and the Gopiis, Vrindaavan and Govardhana Hill?  He anxiously asked whether Krishna had any plans in the near future to come and visit them all.  He said that the minute he thought about Krishna, he forgot himself and got consumed by Krishna’s memories.  Hearing all this from Nanda, Yashoda’s heart was yearning for Krishna.  She started to sob and burst into a cry.

Uddhava was a scholar and an intellectual.  He replied, “Dear ones you attained the highest honor by raising Krishna as your own.  You gave all that you had to him, in the form of love, affection and devotion.  Krishna is none other than Lord Vishnu himself.  He will certainly come and visit you.  After all you are his beloved parents.”  He also reminded them that Krishna was not born only for them, he was born for the universe itself.  They talked all night, until the time when the sun is going to start slowly rising.

The Gopiis, always awake before the sunrise, saw the chariot in front of Nanda’s house.  They feared that Akrura had returned and wondered what he would to take away from them now.  As he was returning from the river, Uddhava met the Gopiis.  They recognized him as Krishna’s messenger, so they started singing about Krishna’s lilas.  One of them started a song teasing Uddhava, showing their anger about Krishna’s departure.  Uddhava gave the teaching that they could find Krishna inside by turning their mind within.  The Gopiis criticized, “When Akrura came to Vrindaavan, he took our Krishna with him.  Now you are trying to take away his memories from us?” At this, Uddhava was speechless.  Then he slowly and lovingly delivered Krishna’s message to think only of him.

Uddhava was so filled by the devotion that Radha and the Gopiis had towards Lord Krishna that he stayed in Vrindaavan for the next six months.  He also asked the Gopiis to be his Guru to teach love and devotion.  Some say that Uddhava longed to be in Vrindaavan, even as a shrub or a vine.  Thus, he would be rooted in the earth where the Gopiis lived, they who gave up everything for Krishna and Krishna alone, where their blessed feet stepped every day.  They say that, even now if you are in Vrindaavan, pray for the blessing of Uddhava.  He will be sure to bless you.

Uddhava returned to the city of Mathura with love and gifts from all.  Then he accompanied Krishna who wanted to fulfill Sairandhri’s boon, a royal maidservant.  Then, along with Balarama, they visited Akrura at his home as they promised him earlier.  Akrura was delighted see them all, gave them the ultimate welcome and worshipped them with great devotion.

Krishna requested Akrura to visit Hastinapura to inquire about his cousins, the five Pandavas.  Their mother Kunti had lost her husband recently, was always worried about the welfare of her sons, especially being afraid that their cousins, the Kauravas, would kill them.  She had been praying to Krishna to help her sons.  So, Krishna sent Akrura as a messenger, asking him to judge the situation in Hastinapura.

Visiting Hastinapur, Akrura realized that King Dhritarashtra was partial towards his own sons, the Kauravas, and wanted them to take over the throne.  However, rightfully the throne belonged to the Pandavas, who were the sons of Pandu, Dhritarashtra’s brother.  Akrura also realized that Dhritarashtra always supported his sons, even in their attempts to kill the Pandavas.  Akrura indirectly advised Dhritarashtra to give up his evil plans, and to give the Pandavas the throne because it was rightfully theirs.  But Dhritarashtra refused to change himself.  In fact, he explained all the righteous advice that he gets doesn’t stay in his heart, as they were like lightning strikes for him.  Akrura returned to Krishna and Balarama and told them about the situation in Hastinapur.  This is the beginning of the great Mahabharata story.  We will come back to this soon, with the full details, including the relationships and descriptions of the family and other members.

After the death of Kamsa, his two wives, Asti and Prapti, had to return to their father as they didn’t have any children to take care of them.  Their father was Jarasandha, the king of Magadha.  Jarasandha’s father was King Brihadratha, who was married to the twin daughters of King of Kashi, but they didn’t have any children for a long time.  Though he loved both his wives and his kingdom, having no one to take his kingdom forward put him in a depressed state.

Sage Chandakaushika visited Brihadratha’s kingdom. The King served him with respect.  This pleased Sage Chandakaushika very much, so he granted King Brihadratha a boon.  King Brihadratha requested a son.  The sage gave him a mango and ordered him to give it to one of his wives.  After the sage left, as King Brihadratha was fond of both of his wives, he cut the mango in equal two halves and gave one piece to each of his beloved wives.  Both of them got pregnant and the king was very happy.

Nine months later, both his wives gave birth to a child, or rather half a child each.  Seeing this, the midwives decided the two halves should be disposed of; they dumped the two lifeless pieces of flesh outside of the kingdom.  There lived a demoness named Jara, who sensed the human flesh and hurried to the spot.  Hoping to carry the flesh pieces home for dinner, she placed them side by side in her basket.  By the time she reached home, miraculously the two haves had joined to make a complete human child.  Coming to know that the human baby was really the son of the King of Magadha, she decided to take the child to the palace, wanting a great reward.  The heartbroken king, who thought he had lost the child, was ecstatic to find his child alive.  He rewarded Jara generously, naming the child Jarasandha in honor of Jara’s service to him.

Jarasandha grew up to become a very powerful king and expanded the Magadha kingdom.  Many other kings made an allegiance with him, making him a mighty king of that area.  He married both his daughters to Kamsa of Mathura, to make his kingdom more powerful with Kamsa’s allegiance.  When his daughters returned to him due to the death of Kamsa, Jarasandha was very angry.  Jarasandha decided he was going to kill Krishna and annihilate the entire Yadava kula.

More to come…

Amazing Grace: A Mystical Force

By Swami Shrutananda

“Amazing Grace” is a song I heard growing up, for my parents were active in our local church.  Eventually, my father became a minister. “Amazing Grace” was one of my favorite hymns.  Even to this day, it’s a hymn I remember, and I find myself humming it.

One of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world, it’s estimated to be performed about 10 million times a year, which averages to 27,397 times a day!  This hymn touches many hearts. Why?

For me, it is the meaning of the words and the experience they evoke.  This hymn evokes an incredible longing — a longing to be delivered from the human condition through God’s Grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far
And Grace will lead us home.

— John Newton, published 1779

This poem touches your heart whether you’re looking outside for God or you’re looking inside to find God as your own Self, your own inherent Divinity.  In yoga, when you look outside, the One Reality is called Brahman.  When you look inside, the One Reality is called Atman, the Self. That Ultimate Reality is the only One, whether you are looking outside or inside.

Yoga specializes in looking inward to see, to know and to experience the One Reality that has become you — and is being you.  The yogic process is one of coming home to the knowing of your own Self. That knowing has a feeling — a feeling of being home in your Self.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.

Yoga describes the human condition as the painful delusion of wretchedness.  Before yoga, you may feel abandoned, not good enough, miserable, dejected, even desolate. This feeling is what motivates many people to begin yoga.  You yearn to be happier, to feel better about yourself, to find meaning in life.  Swami Nirmalananda says, “It’s the yearning to know God.  You will know God when you know your own Self.”

I once was lost, but now am found…

I truly felt lost.  Fresh out of college, in my first job, I thought I finally had it made. Life was going to be good from now on. I had more freedom. I could do what I wanted.  Within a few months, I realized my life was very repetitive.  Five days a week, I got up, had breakfast, went to work, came home, had dinner and went to bed. On weekends, I worked hard at having fun.  After a few months, I called one of my wiser older brothers.  I asked, “Is this it?”  He said, “Yes.”

I was extremely disappointed.  Life was not what I had been promised.  Unfortunately, since my brother was not Self-Realized, he couldn’t really help me. Was I going to be stuck in this meaningless existence for the rest of my life? I was lost with no way out.  Yoga calls this “the human condition.”

To fill the gap, you look for meaning in what you do and in your relationships. Yet you never feel fully satisfied nor complete.  You are always looking for more, even when you don’t know what the more is that you are looking for. What are you searching for?  The song promises, “…but now I’m found.”  You want to find your Self. This is yoga’s specialty; it is yoga’s goal.  To see and to know and to experience your own Divinity — within.  To discover, technically it is to re-discover, your Divine Essence which is hidden within, the One Reality which you have always been.

T’was blind but now I see.

Looking back to life before yoga, I realize that I was going through life wearing blinders. Yoga makes your blinders fall away.  You perceive more of what is really here — inside and outside.  Yoga empowers your perception, so you see yourself more clearly, even more deeply.  You see through the surface levels of your being, body and mind, all the way to the Divinity that is your own existence.

And Grace, my fears relieved…

Unfortunately, most thoughts are fear driven.  Anxiety is acknowledged as a growing epidemic.  In 2018, almost 40% of Americans were more anxious than they were a year earlier [poll by the American Psychiatric Association (APA)].  Fortunately, through the Grace-filled practices of Svaroopa® yoga, you experience freedom from fear.  You lengthen your tailbone, decompress your spine, breathe, repeat mantra, chant and meditate.  You are growing into your Self, an inner experience that is beautifully described as “freedom from fear.”

And Grace will lead us home.

You may not yet be attuned to the Grace that can lead you home.  How do you access more Grace?  The mystical secret is that the Guru is the embodiment of Grace.  Nirmalananda says, “You need the Guru, one who takes you from darkness (gu) to light (ru). You’ve probably already had a few rugus in your life, those who have taken you from light to darkness. It’s time to go the other way.”

It’s the Divine power of Grace that is named by the word ”Guru,” not the person or personality.  The title Guru honors one who has given her or his life over to the Divine force of Grace. Thus, the Guru becomes a reliable source for others. Just as you can count on getting wet when you step into a shower, you can count on being saturated with Grace in the Guru’s presence.

A Shaktipat Guru like Swami Nirmalananda invokes the mystical force of Grace to arise within you.  She awakens your own inner power of upliftment, Kundalini, to arise within you and reveal your own Self to you.  Svaroopa® yoga is the Yoga of Grace, specializing in Shaktipat, this profound and life-changing inner awakening. With Svaroopa® yoga, you get outer support from a real live person, someone who has been through the whole process and knows what you need.  The process begins with Shaktipat, bringing you home to your own Self. Supporting you outside and inside, Amazing Grace leads you HOME.

A Meditation Epidemic

By Swami Satrupananda

We are amid a meditation epidemic. The “germs of meditation” are spreading far and wide. The other day, I talked to a gentleman in the bank parking lot. He said he knew that meditation would help him sleep better. On an airplane recently, I overheard people in nearby seats conversing about their yoga. Yoga and meditation are becoming household words.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) confirmed this with a report released in November 20181. Their research showed the number of people who meditate in the USA tripled between 2012 and 2017. Additionally, in 2017 the number of people who meditated was almost the same as the number of people doing yoga. The NCHS statisticians concluded saying, “Yoga and meditation has become more mainstream.”

These statistics are not surprising to us yoga and meditation practitioners. We’ve all experienced the truly amazing benefits of these practices.  Remember how you feel rolling over after the closing Shavasana and Guided Relaxation in a Svaroopa® yoga class. Your body and mind have been transformed. You’re calm and energized at the same time.

Or remember that moment when you open your eyes after a meditation. Your mind is calm and clear. Your stress, anxiety and fears have melted away. With these experiences, you easily understand how yoga and meditation are spreading. That they are becoming mainstream is no surprise.

A Google search shows many of the scientifically proven benefits for your body, mind and emotions. The benefits list is long and impressive. Yet they are just the by-products of the true purpose of yoga and meditation. These ancient mystical practices are for the purpose of knowing and experiencing your svaroopa, your true form, your Divine Essence. This is who you truly are. It’s called your Self, with a capital-s, because it’s worthy of respect, honor and even worship. You are worthy of respect, honor and worship.

The Shiva Sutras describes the goal of meditation:

Lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham, verse 1.18

This yogi experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others.

—Translated by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Thus, when you know your Self, you’ll be in bliss. If you’re not experiencing bliss, you’re not being and knowing your own Self. This sutra tells us that the goal of meditation is not merely to experience the bliss of your Self in meditation. Ultimately, the goal is having this experience in “every location and situation.” Your bliss is transportable. The promise is that your inner bliss continues whether you’re at work, with friends and family or by yourself. The bliss of your Self is always there, so you can experience it everywhere and in every situation.

This ecstatic promise is likely not the reason you started to meditate. Most beginning meditators don’t even know about the “More” that meditation offers. Often, their motivation to start was to reduce illness, stress, anxiety or emotional pain. Yet people have been faced with these challenges for centuries and longer, with many possible treatments. So why is meditation growing in popularity now?

We get a hint from this Shiva Sutra verse. The last part of the translation says that the yogi “shares it [the bliss of the Self] with others.” We Westerners have had the great good fortune of meditation masters from India sharing meditation with us for a long time. They have shared the wisdom of the ancient yogic philosophy with the West. More importantly, they shared their presence.

It began with Swami Vivekananda speaking at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893. Starting in 1958, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi did world tours and trained over 40,000 teachers, who taught over 5 million people2. Then Swami Muktananda did three world tours between 1970 and 1981. During his extensive periods in the United States, Muktananda offered Maha Shaktipat Diksha. This initiation awakens your own inner power of revelation, called Kundalini.  Once awakened, Kundalini fuels your meditation practices and reveals your own Divine Essence to you. Thousands and thousands of people received this initiation from Baba Muktananda.

In this way, Baba spread the “germs” of meditation very tangibly. These “germs” spread effortlessly to those who simply sat in his presence. He was established in the bliss of his own Self. Since this state is your true nature, simply by being in his presence, you attune to your own inherent bliss. You can’t avoid it. It’s your inherent natural state. It’s like when someone in the room starts to giggle. You can try to resist the laughter, but resistance is futile. It doesn’t take long until the whole room is in tears of laughter.

Muktananda came and spread the germs of meditation. Gurudevi Nirmalananda spent almost seven years sitting in his presence, catching the germs of meditation.  She took those germs, followed his command, and realized their full potential. She knows and lives in the bliss of her own Self in every location and in every situation. And she shares it with others. Come sit with one who truly knows their own Self. Get infected with the germs of meditation! It will be the best “bug” you ever caught. Spend more time with bliss-full beings.




Krishna Avatar — Part 8

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Kamsa relentlessly worked on sending more demons to kill Krishna.  He sent Arishtasura the bull demon, Kesii the horse demon and Vyomasura the demon who took the form of a mountain.  They ended up with the same fate as the other demons, all of them killed by Krishna.  Seeing that all the demons were dead, even the very powerful and cunning ones, Kamsa panicked.  Kamsa was desperately trying to think of who to send next.

On the other hand, Sage Narada was impatient, wanting things to move faster so to have Kamsa’s tyranny come to an end.  Sage Narada approached Kamsa, seemingly in a helpful manner, praising Kamsa’s strength and power.  But Sage Narada injected more fear into Kamsa, warning not to let Krishna grow and get more powerful.  He reminded Kamsa who Krishna and Balarama really are.

Even more agitated by Sage Narada’s advice, Kamsa prepared to kill Vasudeva and Devaki.  Sage Narada advised against Kamsa’s decision. Kamsa listened to Sage Narada, then deciding to imprison Vasudeva and Devaki again.  Sage Narada loved Kamsa’s decision, as it would motivate Krishna even more, to get his birth parents released.  Then, Sage Narada also adviced Kamsa that he should directly confront Krishna sooner rather than later, and disprove the prophecy.

After a long discussion, Sage Narada proposed an idea to Kamsa.  He asked Kamsa to hold a wrestling tournament, inviting all the best wrestlers and demons to participate.  He suggested inviting Balarama and Krishna to the tournament.  Sage Narada also praised Kamsa’s abilities, telling him that he could easily kill Krishna in a wrestling match, should Krishna escape all the other wrestlers and demons taking part in the tournament.  Liking the idea, and not knowing Sage Narada’s ulterior motive, Kamsa called for a wrestling tournament.

Kamsa summoned Akrura, a friend of his from the Yadava Kula, commanding him to extend the tournament invitation to Balarama and Krishna.   Devastated by the news, believing that this was a trap to kill Krishna, Akrura had to obey. Yet he was also happy that his longing to see Krishna and Balarama was becoming a reality.

Sage Narada’s aim of hastening the meeting of Krishna and Kamsa was accomplished.  The Sage left Mathura saying his usual words praising Lord Vishnu, “Narayana, Narayana,” knowing that the meeting will be Kamsa’s end.

Kamsa sent his best chariot to Akrura for fetching Balarama and Krishna.  Akrura traveled to Vrindavan with Kamsa’s invitation.  Being such an admirer of Krishna, when Akrura reached Vrindavan, he warned them about what he believed Kamsa was planning.  Krishna and Balarama looked at each other and smiled, as they accepted the invitation, even though everyone in Vrindavan was against it.

Knowing this will be his last day in Vrindavan, Krishna played his flute and danced, eating whatever anyone offered him.  There was heartache; as a human, Krishna knew this was the last day he would see Radha, his lifelong love.  Yet Radha, the other Gopiis and all the others in Vrindavan were singing and dancing, not knowing that it was their last day with Krishna.  At the end of the day, after dinner, he gave his flute to Radha as a token of love, asking her to keep it until they meet again, though he knew it was never going to happen.  That was the last day he played his flute until the end of his lifetime.  He knew that the playful mischief part of his life was over.

The next day, Krishna and Balarama got ready for their trip to Mathura, amid strong opposition from their parents and all of Vrindavan.  Yashoda was so worried that she didn’t know what she was doing, pacing up and down in the garden with no way to stop her son from going to Mathura.  Krishna calmed Yashoda, telling her it was the duty of a man to accept any challenge he received, and to face it with valor and dignity.  Balarama and Krishna mounted the chariot to leave for Mathura but getting out of Vrindavan took until noon, making it through the crowds to the outskirts of the village.

On their way, they stopped at the bank of River Yamuna.  At this stop, Akrura saw who Balarama and Krishna really were.  He saw the vision of Lord Vishnu on Adhishesha in place of Krishna and Balarama at the riverbank.  Akrura was in bliss and cherished that moment for the rest of his life.

Akrura got them close to Mathura, wanting them to stay one night at his own home, on the outskirts of the city.  Krishna said he would definitely come and stay, but only after he ended the cruelty happening to his clan by Kamsa’s hands. Though Akrura was not happy, he accepted Krishna’s decision and dropped the brothers at the entrance of the city, then taking the chariot to Kamsa to inform him of their arrival.  Krishna and Balarama were delighted to see that Nanda and his clan from Vrindavan had arrived before them, having taken a shortcut.

Mathura was a very beautiful city with impressive gates including entrance pillars made out of marble.  The brothers walked around looking at the marvels of the city, clean broad roads, mansions, gardens, ponds and fountains.  While they were walking around, the news of their arrival spread like wildfire.  People gathered in huge numbers to see them.  Krishna performed a number of miracles while roaming in Mathura.  All the resulting pandemonium disturbed Kamsa.  He already knew that Krishna and Balarama had arrived, so he knew what the pandemonium on the roads was all about.  Kamsa felt he was on the brink of going mad; he knew no rest or peace that night.

The brothers rested in a camp outside the wrestling tournament arena that night.   They woke from their sound sleep, had their baths and prepared themselves to go to the wrestling arena.  Hurrying along, they wanted to be there for the first event of the day.  They could hear the drums and the trumpets in the arena.  However, when they reached the gate to the arena, a huge elephant was blocking it.

Kamsa had planned that the huge elephant, Kuvalayapida, would kill Krishna.  The caretaker of the elephant did something to it, making it angry, so it went on an outraged attack.  Trumpeting loudly, Kuvalayapida charged towards Krishna and Balarama.  It tried to catch Krishna with its tusk.  Krishna ducked and went behind the elephant, catching its small tail.  He lifted the elephant and spun it round and round until the elephant was very dizzy, then he smashed the elephant on the ground.  Kuvalayapida fell with a thud and died.  Krishna and Balarama pulled out one tusk each, hanging it on their back shoulders.

They entered the tournament arena.  The arena was lavishly decorated with flags, flowers and garlands.  There were special stands, platforms and seats built for the kings, ministers, priests and other important people, including the wrestlers of Mathura.  The best wrestlers from the surrounding area entered the arena, ready for the challenge.

Kamsa entered the arena with his ministers and guards and sat in the special area arranged for him.  The drums were rolling and the music was playing.  According to Kamsa’s prior orders, Mathura’s chief wrestler, Canura, challenged Krishna for a match while the assistant chief wrestler, Mustik, challenged Balarama for a match.  They set the condition that the matches end only with death, thinking it was  going to be easy to finish off the cowherd boys.  Krishna and Balarama accepted the condition.

There was a lot of audience commotion in reaction to the conditions.  The audience thought the combatants were not equally matched, and some left the arena thinking it was unfair.  Others stayed to encourage the brothers, while those on Kamsa’s side wanted the match to take place.  There was support for both sides.

The two wrestling matches started, the mighty Canura and Mustik locked in with Krishna and Balarama respectively.  Though Canura and Mustik were hitting Krishna and Balarama hard, the brothers stood there as though raindrops were falling on a mountain.  After a number of strikes from the mighty Canura and Mustik, the crowd went silent, seeing the might of the boys.  Kamsa was frowning in fear.

Krishna and Balarama danced around Canura and Mustik, then with one blow each, brought them down.  The brothers picked up their challengers, whirled them around and slammed them to the ground.  Both Canura and Mustik lay dead in the dust.  One by one, other great wrestlers from all places followed Canura and Mustik into the wrestling ring.  They endured the same fate in the hands of Krishna and Balarama.  The bodies of Kamsa’s wrestlers were piling up by the side of the ring, while Krishna and Balarama danced in the middle of the ring.

Filled with anger and fear, Kamsa jumped out of his chair.  He commanded his royal guards to drive the boys out of Mathura, to put Nanda in chains and to kill Vasudeva, Devaki and his own father Ugrasena, who were in the dungeon.  Before Kamsa could finish his command, Krishna jumped on to Kamsa’s royal platform.  Catching Kamsa him by his hair at the nape of his neck, Krushna pushed Kamsa down to the wrestling floor.  Kamsa’s crown and Kamsa tumbled down the stairs to the platform, falling on to the wresting ring.

Krishna leapt from the platform down to the wrestling ring and straddled Kamsa’s belly.  Terrified, his past actions flashing before him, knowing the prophecy was coming true, Kamsa couldn’t say a word.  Krishna’s bare handed blows killed him.  A great roar and cheer went up from the crowd.   All the people who had earlier left the arena returned, surprised on hearing the news.  Kamsa’s eight brothers sought revenge for their brother’s death, ending up with the same fate.

Though Kamsa had been thinking negatively of Krishna, he was thinking of Krishna twenty-four hours of the day, three-hundred-sixty-five days of the past many years, since the day Krishna was born.  Due to this, Kamsa was cleansed of all his karma and became one with Krishna at his death.

After Kamsa’s death, Krishna and Balarama rushed to the dungeon and freed Vasudeva and Devaki from their chains.  They fell at their feet and bowed with utmost respect and received their blessings. Vasudeva and Devaki’s happiness at seeing their sons after all these years is beyond the power of any words to describe.

The boys then released Ugrasena, the rightful king, who had been in prison all these years.  They crowned him as the king again.  All the people of Mathura were in joy as their benevolent king was reinstated in full power once again.