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Liberated living through the sadhana of yog; enlivened realisations by the grace of the Guru.

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of Alignment and Misalignment on Lunar Eclipse

Last night was full moon and lunar eclipse, it was also Kartik Purnima, Dev Deepavali and Gurpurab. Yes, a pretty auspicious time for many. Yogis to purohits to devotees all use this period to meditate, worship, shower adulations or pray, each according to their own understanding and devotion, as do the lovers of astronomy. I was fortunate to be in Tubac, Arizona for yesterdays event experience, with clear cloudless skies, no light pollution and an unhindered open horizon. As the shadow of the earth progressed over the bright full moon and cloaked the earth with darkness, the stars shined ever so much more brilliantly until the moon now totally eclipsed, turned crimson. Much to be grateful about.

First the alignment

As a yog practitioner, I have for many decades now viewed an eclipse as an alignment of the earth, the moon and the sun according a unique opportunity to align those centres in our own body that correspond to them. The Vedic pind-brahmand philosophy lays much emphasis on the microcosm carrying in entirety the blueprint of the macrocosm and while some revere the external others turn their awareness inwards at such moments using the event to take a leap to understand the universe within.

Before I go further there’s something I need to make clear.  I always write propelled by my own experience and realisations strongly believing that no sadhak should take as absolute others realisations. The layers of the mystical are profound and the joy of self discovery can never be understated. Texts and philosophical literature are someone else’s Truth and have only an intellectual value for me and easy to disregard if they don’t pass my self scrutiny. We each one of us have to find our own truth without a need for validation, I sincerely believe. To move on on this path of self discovery with confidence towards what makes us truly happy all we need is a will to do so and the tools to take us forward appear magically. Of course all results are greatly influenced by the fruits of our past karma and present personal efforts.

Here I will note down some musings on these physical eclipse occurrence and how I understand it to affect our body, emotions and mind. These applied realisations have greatly enabled me to bring balance in my life. I have also included a link to a meditation I recorded after this event at the end of this section.

As mentioned earlier during an eclipse, whether full or partial, there is a corresponding full or partial alignment of the sun, the earth and the moon and this reflects in our body in different ways, I have found. Our left and the right naadis in yogic terms the Ida and Pingala correspond to the Chandra (moon) and Surya (sun), connecting to the two polarities in our brain- the right and left hemispheres. The earth corresponds to our mool prakriti, the innate nature of our body, While consciously aligning these spheres during the eclipse we enable ourselves to flow with the circadian rhythm of the universe reducing conflict in our emotional and mental body- the manomaya kosha. Living without conflict with nature ones nature becomes that of stillness and the physical body receives the benefit of health of such peaceful living without stress.

Another realisation I experienced is that of the moon, the sun and the earth aligned along the spine. The moon in the Agnya Chakra indicating the mind, the Sun in the Anhad Chakra as distributor of Pran and the earth on the muladhar representing everything physical, earth, water, fire air and the space occupied when alive, in death all these return to the source.

Finally, as the moon corresponds to the mind, and it is well known how the lunar cycle effects our mind, when the shadow of the earth passes over the moon enveloping it fully and then the moon reemerges as the shadow passes, it as if a veil is removed, a veil of ignorance and the mind full of awe rebirths into a clarity facing the brilliant sun. This outer light is reflected in the inner transformation of the yogi practitioner.

click this 👉🏽 Practicing Alignment on Eclipse Days

Misalignment Galore

-my God/Guru is greater than yours

Of course after this wonderful alignment with nature and the sun and the moon and the earth, I had to open my phone! Being a festive day, I had received many forwards, wishes for Kartik Purnima, for Dev Deepavali, and Gurpurab, usually I delete them all without seeing but I had to open this one didn’t I 🤷🏻‍♀️, a forward for Gurpurab. Gurpurab is the birth centenary of Guru Nanak Devji, the first Sikh Guru. It was originally from a UK based Sikh organisation, forwarded many times WhatsApp informed me and now forwarded to me by a well meaning friend and it caught my attention. It had a picture of Nanak’s father holding baby Nanak in his arms, and in front of them stood bowing in supplication, many divine beings, of whom I recognised Brahma because of the multiple heads, Vishnu because of the blue body, and Shiva because of the snake around the neck and many other Devi’s and Devata’s, all from the Hindu diaspora. It wasn’t a very well executed picture but it started a flow of thought as to why to make our own Guru or God greater we have to show others down as inferior to them?

Sometimes these representations are malicious, but often it is just the devotion of the devotee to showcase their own as somehow better, greater and grander. Everyone has done this in history and still continue to do so, Vaishnavites show Vishnu as superior to Shiva, followers of Gorakhnath show Krishna washing Gorakhs feet, the worshippers of Shakti show her as more than Shiva, saying Shiva is Shav without Shakti, amongst disciples there is always a rush to prove their own gurus as the true one. This is just within the boundary of one religion, my father once told me how when they were kids in the late 1930’s, Christian missionaries would come to their small village in Kerala and demonstrate how an idol of Krishna sinks when thrown into the well but the idol of Jesus Christ floats. The idol of Krishna was made of metal and Jesus of wood! All the children watching could see that and found it quite foolish. Wonder how many tenets of the religion is broken whith these actions? I am mostly amused by this show, but it is a point to be noted and care taken not to fall into this trap ourselves in the rush to preach and share.

I feel this maybe one of the reason that I found myself pulled towards yog sadhana, where all these concepts can be on a different level of understanding. The body becomes the temple, and all the deities are accommodated within, Shiva and Shakti, Brahma and Vishnu, Ganesh and Hanuman; The Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, all equally important or not, their roles dictated by the state the practicing yogi is in. A journey of Self-discovery untainted by the external show. All the forms reveal an inner symphony without any discordant note, to the one who is sensitive.

Removing the veil

Finally, for the yogi, these deities if present, losing their physical attributes amalgamate into Still Love, as they did for me. A core centre of stillness that only translates as Love, shorn of all rites and rituals internal or external. The inner and the outer Guru can stand alone, without support of validation, comparison and or competition.

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āyulife channel- a nascent step

After a few months of hiatus, I recently started a process very close to my heart, sharing some simple yogic practices arising out of my sadhana on an open platform. Along with the written word on my blogs and book, I have now included the spoken via my YouTube channel- ayulife.

Yog is a very private and personal journey, in my understanding. Even though thousands may receive the same set of practice, may practice the same Asans, Pranayam and methods of Dharana, it flowers in each of us uniquely because we are each unique and one of a kind. Even though the final result may be the same of Self-Realisation, the path will vary dictated by our individual nature and set of karma.

ayulife is a sincere and joyful attempt at expressing my deep felt and realised understanding of yog, which is one of the six systems- the shad-darshana of Vedic Sanatan way of realisations. System is a very limiting way of describing what is really ‘seeing’ with an inner eye, in-depth and without filters.
The six are each in themselves a vast insight into the philosophy on which is based the present day Hindu “religion’ itself a limiting term for this ocean of enlightened text. I am just giving a brief by line here which according to me is a very inadequate explanation of such profound subjects, but just a taste of the brilliance of the Indic intellect and its range and what it has offered to those like us on the path to savour and explore and discard. All 6, with many sections and sub sections overlap each other and influence the practitioners of one or the other.
The shad- darshanas and their originator.
1. Nyaya Darshana- the path of logic and reasoning, removing of ignorance brings an end to suffering, right knowledge brings liberation to the human soul. Rishi Gautama
2. Vaisheshika Darshana- metaphysics, the study of atom (anu), of materials from gross to subtle, of their similarities and differences, of those that exist and the lack of existence, the eternal and non-eternal and Karma- action and reaction, creation and dissolution, to name a few. Rishi Kannada Kashyapa
3. Yog Darshana- the path of uniting the individual spirit to the universal spirit via the 8 limbs of yam, niyam, asan, pranayam, pratyahar, dharana, dhayn and samadhi. Rishi Patanjali
4. Samkhya Darshana- a non-theistic path of dualism, there’s no room for Isvara or God here. The study of Purusha and Prakriti- the moving and unmoving principles, of evolution from material and external pleasures to pure consciousness. Rishi Kapila and IsvaraKrishna
5. Purva-Mimamsa Darshana (Karma Kanda)- Establishes the authority of the Vedas, the magical power of mantras and yagnyas, potency of rituals, the existence of a soul, duties and obligations, embodying the philosophy of Karma Yoga and requirement to move through the 4 varna ashram of brahmacharya, grihasta, vanaprastha and Sanyasa. Rishi Jamini
6. Vedanta Darshana ( Uttara Mimamsa)- Focussing on the Upanishads, emphasising the importance of a Guru, rather than the ritualistic components. Vedanta actually means the end or the conclusion of the vedas. It’s like a synopsis of the 4 vedas Rig, Yajur, Sama and Athrva, taking the nectar from these. It includes the concept of dvait (dualism), advaita (non dualism). Rishi Badarayana

One must remember that the Indic Sanatan philosophy has a strong base of accepting and refuting deep rooted systems and this right is extended to every student of these systems.

I was introduced to these concepts as a child just by being born into a family in which these topics were the norm at home. Discussions and debates amongst my elders revolved around these topics. At a very early age I had started discarding many of these “truths” and was clearly gravitating to the path of Yog, which I find very liberating in its simplicity. I met my Guru Yogiraj Siddhanath from the lineage of Kriya Yoga of Mahavatar Babaji in 1998, first in a vision and then in person. I was under his tutelage and taught the evolutionary practice of Kriya Yoga for 23 years. I have recollection of my years with Lahiri Mahasaya, when I was first initiated into this practice. I am sharing this here because education continues from lifetime to lifetime and expresses and fructifies in this life as per the efforts put in lives past.

You will find many of the concepts from the other darshanas that have influenced me not by reading but directly through realisations, in my writing as well as on my channel.

In ayulife it will be my sincere effort to share those techniques that have helped me over the decades to come to a state of clarity, equilibrium and equipoise and hope it helps others too. The nature of the open platform being such, I am bound to exercise some discretion on the content, for more advanced practice I will be launching an online platform soon. Once again I share the link here. Do subscribe and I thank you all in advance for your support.

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Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam, Not a Deer but a SEER BE

Published in Esamskriti 18. July. 2020,-Not-A-Deer-But-A-Seer-1.aspx

There was a dilemma in my mind as I wrote this blog post that it should not come out as a rant but as a study of the subject of this philosophy in present day context. As always I have followed a stream of thought in my mind and anyone is welcome to disagree with the prognosis I have attempted to arrive at.

This thought process started when I heard this beautiful rendition of an ancient chant performed by The London Symphony and various artists. The process of the thought though went from feeling mellow at the auditory experience of this divine chant to the intellectual interpretation in today’s context to a realisation far beyond in the spiritual field, in course of a few days from the first moment of thought contact. 

(You can listen to the performance by clicking on the mantra below)

अयं बन्धुरयं नेतिगणना लघुचेतसाम्।
उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् ॥ 

Meaning of the mantra.

“This one is a friend; this other does not count, is for the small-minded. For those of a magnanimous character, the entire earth is one family.”- Mahōpaniṣad, VI.71.

My mind marvelled at the antiquity and the depth of the Sanatan philosophy in which is rooted the modern day ism of the hindus. At a time when the world is talking of “lives” matter, of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, of environmental degradation; this wisdom of the earth as family was prevalent on a land thousands of years ago, expressed simply and succinctly in a language as ancient as the thought. 

But what is more of a marvel is that both the language and the philosophy is still a living phenomenon as a prayer and an adage even today.
Also to be noted the shlok says vasudha meaning earth and not just manav humans. 

Called one of the loftiest Vedantic thought, this shlok is etched on the entrance of the Indian Parliament. Many Vedic chants show this inclusiveness in their realisations. More on this in another article. 

Modern Usage

The term “Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam,” the world as a family, is a popular saying often repeated by present day Gurus and Saints and even politicians in India as they try to showcase the all-encompassing nature of the Hindu religion to the world, the politicians to emphasise the secular nature of the country. 

In their eagerness either due to real innocence or carelessness or craftiness, they forget to warn their followers of the pitfalls of such a philosophy applied without filters in today’s sectarian world.
However, this sentiment of caution had been expressed in a story from the Hitopadesha I had heard as a child and which came to mind when I heard this music and was mulling over the philosophy behind it. 

The Hitopadesha is a compilation of stories for children, drawn from the more ancient Panchatantra written by Vishnu Sharma dated 1200 BCE to 300 CE. The Panchatantra were written as lessons to teach the art of ruling- (raj) niti- to three princes, who were sent by their father the King to a Brahmin in the forest. 

In order to make it interesting to the young princes the stories involve animal figures and were woven together to educate the children in the intricacies of politics and ruling a kingdom. It talks of friends and foes, of making allies and causing dissent amongst enemies for benefit, of war and peace, of loss and profit from alliances and results of hasty actions. 

As an adult I went back to read the original unabridged version and was quite literally blown away at the elaborate detail with which the lessons were taught. Atreatise on politics, it is worth inclusion as text in school and college curriculum, which will of course get labelled a move towards Hindutva, seeing the state of the country today.

The later Aesops fables, the Arabian Nights, Grimms fairy tales and many western ballads draw from the Panchatantra for their inspiration. 

The first known translation is into Persian and Arabic around 750 CE, while one version reached Europe in the 11th century. Versions are also found in Indonesia, Laos and Thailand. The french teller of fables, fabulist La Fontaine acknowledged his indebtedness to this work.

“Sanskrit literature is very rich in fables and stories; no other literature can vie with it in that respect; nay, it is extremely likely that fables, in particular animal fables, had their principal source in India.”- Max Muller, On the Migration of Fables (source Wikipedia for this info).  Max Muller is credited with systematically trying to demolish the Hindu education system replacing it with the Christian Missionary schools, one of whose product is me. Obviously his intent to subvert the Bharatiya mind has sort of backfired with many like me now able to express better our rooted sentiments about Indic philosophy, in English language!

Lesson of the Panchatantra/Hitopadesha

However, coming back to the present chant of vasudhaiva kutumbhakam, in the story the wily jackal quotes this very shloka to befriend the naive deer. 

To calm the trepidation of the deer and gain confidence the jackal keeps repeating that we can be friends, for after all we are all one family, that people who think otherwise are mean spirited. The motive being to lead the deer to the pack to be killed and devoured. 

The crow, a former friend of the deer keeps warning the deer who foolishly follows the jackal in a euphoric state of bonhomie. In the childhood recital of the story the deer escapes through the intervention of the crow. 

The lesson of this story was to beware the princes of foes befriending them by quoting and professing a philosophy of inclusiveness with an ulterior motive of defeating them.

India and Earth family

Leading from there I thought of India in present day scenario, struggling to upkeep her image of a secular country and society. Battered by narratives of pseudo liberals and a far left determined in its hatred of Hindu thought and philosophy, by majority and minority appeasement politics, struggling still to free herself from the emotional burden of 700 years of Islamic rule and then over 400 years of the French and Portuguese in certain parts and the British in the rest of the country. 

A country that gave refuge to the persecuted Parsis, the family of Prophet Mohammed and the Tibetans to name a few, is today being called to prove her inclusiveness! I was moved to tears at this thought.

In this context the story of the jackal and deer needs to be more understood, I felt. 

When in the name of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam (secularism) forces with an agenda (the jackal) lead the good at heart and easily misled folks, who are majority of people, (deer) and the wise seers (crows), who keep warning and are either ignored and called names or are in fact labelled anti peace forces and conspiracy theorists, it is time to take note. 

I feel one reason for India’s being conquered time and again has been an adherence to this deep rooted mind set of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam and the dilemma it creates in the mind of its people.

This was the first extent of my process of thought how when the philosophy of a country and its majority people is inclusiveness, has to deal with narratives that are fashioned to prove otherwise by forces whom they have to be warned of and somehow exclude from this earth as all-embracing family philosophy.

A very difficult task indeed and which could cause a mental psychotic breakdown in the sensitive or make them put their head in the sand and refuse to engage or keep on embracing the fox as they are torn apart.

As I practice and teach Yog Sadhana and heart centre expansion, unconditional love is a by-product of the yog sadhana as the human transforms into the divine.

It is a moot point to understand how to amalgamate the qualities of a warrior with a lover without losing either.

But I am emboldened when I think of our texts like the Bhagavad Gita which extol to fight to protect the weak, to uphold dharma, of personages like Adi Shankaracharya who came at a time when the Buddhist outlook, it was felt was robbing the Bharatiya mind-set of its warrior like qualities. May be foresaw the future, I wonder! 

The invasions and the long stint of being ruled by foreigners subjected Indians to genocide and systemic conversions and economic loot, to famines, taxes and subjugation of our culture? Our Sikh Gurus started preparing well in time for the great fight, gurus like Swami Samarth Ram Das took heed and started training soldiers and warriors for the war. 

There was no dichotomy in being a spiritual practitioner, warrior and saviour.

As a result of which India is one of the only country to have survived with its indigenous culture and ancient customs still alive and thriving, visible from the shlok, the subject of this blog. The rest of the world crumbled under Islam and Christian conquests. 

Deer and Jackal in the Marketplace

Then cruising along this thought stream my mind came to the field of the market of ideologies, spirituality and religion. 

The simple seekers (deer) who are led on a merry dance by charlatan saints, priests, gurus, granthis and maulvis, by mentors and influencers (jackal), do include any others I may have forgotten here! Promising the followers everything from a state of eternal bliss, to virgins in heaven, to a promised land, an egalitarian society. In their greed for name and fame they quote vasudhaiva kutumbhakam or its equivalent! The seer who warns the seekers of the ulterior motives of such charlatans is often shamed and brought down. (That does not mean everyone who is brought down is a seer!)

As a deer today, the danger may not be about being killed but you may be recruited, inducted, radicalised or indoctrinated into the ideology or religious belief system of the jackal, whoever it might be, left or right. Without being aware you become a means for attracting more deer to be slaughtered or recruited.

The corporate world is not free from this phenomenon either; the world seemed to me to be divided today, into deers and jackals with very few seers, people with the ability to see with clarity.

In our personal inner spheres too the senses, and the mind (deer), led outwards by sensual and material attractions (jackal) and our vivek buddhi – the discerning intellect seer (crow) can keep warning us in vain.

At a time like this how can one be sure one is the deer and not the jackal?

When the deer sees without doubt, the jackal for what IT is, the deer becomes the seer. 

For me, this clarity of perception only comes as our biases and conditioning is cleared. This can be achieved in many ways, the path of Yog Sadhana being one of them. It is the heightening of our intuitive perception that cuts through the obvious and the apparent and can get to the core motive of the other, and yes of oneself. 

Constantly introspecting to see if one is a deer being influenced by a jackal or a jackal recruiting other deers. A seer is a person who is neither but has the wisdom to be aware of both.

The seer, in my realisation, is always rooted firmly in the soil of vasudhaiva kutumbhakam, seeing the earth as one family and embracing all. And though the seer, warns about the fox, can see clearly the motive and agenda and can take any action to deter the jackal from devouring the deer, emotionally, physically and mentally, there is no hate for nor fear of the jackal in the action.

Until this final realisation comes, one swings like a pendulum or seesaw between deer and the seer unless one is the jackal, in which case we are part of a larger pack and may require an immense effort to self-extricate and get away or paying heed to a seer may help us do that. 

In conclusion, for me, applied introspection in every situation is the way to identify our roles as deer, jackal or seer.

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शक्तिपत् – a constant shower of Grace

First published in Esamskriti

Words are inadequate and fail utterly to describe the experience or realisation of the experience of spiritual occurrences such as this “fall of grace.” I learned this as I struggled to put on paper the realisations that I have had over many years now, the word experience itself a very inadequate word for – well the experience of being a recipient of this grace and the realisations that it leads to! 

Spelled variously Shaktipaat, Shaktipat, Shaktipata, Saktipata, this phenomenon is, as are many other concepts of Sanatana Dharma, a very personal perception. A constant stream of Shakti, emanating from a fountainhead such as a Guru, an image or idol of a revered deity or from nature, according to me. But whichever medium it might be, the source is always the immaculate, all pervading divine consciousness. It varies in intensity and degree depending on the source who bestows it, to the blessed who receives it; from the manner it descends or rises; from gross to subtle; partial or total. With great responsibility, I am writing this based on my own absorption of this phenomenal Grace over many years and have tried to give a description of the various nuances in which I perceive it. If the readers want a scholarly in-depth text on this subject I would suggest they read Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka/Tantrasara, wherein he has detailed the various forms of descent of this energy, its source, scope and magnitude, refuting some and putting forth others. A sincere seeker will be able to glean from this a practical understanding of this esoteric occurrence. Kashmir Shaivism is a rich source for this topic and though Shaktipat is an intensely personal realisation and even though I truly believe that matters of the spirit are best based on one’s own realisations and progress, yet it gladdens the heart to read and connect with others who have passed on this path before us and left an impression via their writings and treatise for us to peruse and enlighten our knowledge of the subject. I have to point out here that there is a difference between studying a concept and understanding it and experiencing it through Shaktipat, after the experience is a point of no return to old patterns. Now you really Know!

In my writing I have taken care not to allude to the Universal Consciousness as a he and to the Shaktipat energy has a she, because for me they are Not. This energy can take what role it must for the best evolution of the receiver, ever versatile the form can be many the essence one, finally revealing the nature of pure Consciousness- Brahman. I continue, after once again reiterating that the following realisations are based on my own understanding and is in no way a debate or refuting of other systems that may be contrary. Herein lies the beauty of Sanatana Dharma that gives the seeker the independence to realise divinity as per their spiritual or scholarly status through various paths.  

Shaktipat- as a blessing from the Guru & Guru Tattva

The very first time I “received” the Shaktipat was remotely even before I had met my Guru and this grace was instrumental in my journey towards him, his teachings and his ashram. This happened in 1998, I was sitting with a group of people in a seminar in Chandigarh a city in Northern India, when all of a sudden my body felt light and weightless, the room expanded and stretched out, the people sitting next to me seemingly drifted far away and the space between us filled with light and I saw a vision of a person standing and beckoning me. I later came to know the person to be Yogiraj Satgurunath and the place as his forest ashram in the outskirts of Pune, Maharashtra, India. The feeling of weightlessness and joy stayed with me for many days. Subsequently after meeting Yogiraj later that month and visiting the ashram, I have been constantly in the abha of the Guru’s Shaktipat for over 24 years. This was truly a divine guidance as, though well known today, Gurunath was not very visible publicly at that moment of time and his ashram was hidden away nestled in the forest of Sita mai Dara. 

Over the years as consciousness expanded, I understood that a truly realised guru is constantly radiating this energy Shakti to all without bias. An overflow of their enlivened pran, the energy is neither calculatedly bestowed nor received but is an absorption. Each person absorbs it to the extent of their capacity to absorb.  There are many factors that come into play here, according to my understanding. Let us for a moment perceive the Guru as the Sun, just as the sun radiates light the guru radiates the Shaktipat, this perception about the Sun is more real than imagined, but we will come to that later. The efficacy of the light that enters is proportional to whether one is out in the open, inside or in a dungeon deep underground, the degree of darkness to be dispelled and the extent of it.  In the personal realm this availability relates to the state of the panchakoshas, the extent of naadi shodan and the degree of sahaj bhaav, the tamasic, rajasic or sattvic nature of the individual. The descent of this energy can bring about transformation in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual states of the recipient, giving a boost to the evolution of their consciousness and bringing to light truths that were hitherto not in the conscious realm. 

Descent of Grace from the Deity to the devotee

A living realised Guru’s contribution to the enhancing of the consciousness of the disciple is well documented and cannot be refuted. However, a disciples’ shaktipat absorption after once activated by the Satguru can lead them to this absorption from many sources as required for their individual progress along the path in sync with their Karma, prarabdh and sanchit. Once on a visit to Kashi in 2011, I was sitting in meditative silence in front of the statue of the Mahavatar Babaji at Lahiri Baba’s samadhi sthal. Almost playfully Babaji’s face transformed into the image of Mataji then back to Babaji, this play continued for a while. For me in that moment, as I was bathed in the energy flowing from the figure, the different aspects of masculine and feminine became one. As this realisation of Oneness poured in I was swept into the knowingness of non duality. In the Divine, all polarities become indivisible, inclusive and merged, yet are none. One yet None, my mind dissolved. The aspects of Purusha and Prakriti became crystal clear.  

Though a realised Guru is one source of this grace, the divine flow of energy cannot be confined to only a single medium, is my understanding. There are examples of many seemingly normal persons, quietly engaged in their daily lives who had no present guru but received the flow of energy directly from an image or idol, through a vision or darshan, transforming their very beingness. Just as Vasugupta was led to the Shankaropala to discover the Shiva Sutras after a vision of Shiva or as some say a divine Siddha. 

Since everything in the universe concerns the spiritual, including scientific discoveries, Shaktipat can transform a person into a brilliant mathematician or poet as we have seen in the case of personas such as Ramanujan and Kalidasa, both of whom attribute their sudden illumination to blessings from the Devi. In my understanding both were the result of the grace of Shaktipat from a divine source through the idol of the devi. We find that the Santana astronomers, scientists, inventors, rishis and yogis would readily attribute their knowledge and wisdom to a divine source, not so much in the western world. Though the Eureka moment of Archimedes in the bath for me is a Shaktipat moment. The firing of the neuron, a connect of the synapse bringing to light information and knowledge hitherto, in fact just moments ago hidden, but revealed in a flash is definitely a result of the fall of grace as the divine reveals itself to the devotee, in this case the scientist devoted to the study of the subject. 

For me a Shaktipat is always accompanied by what I like to call the epiphany or Aha moment – a sudden brilliant deeper enlightening realisation accompanied always by a freedom from bondage. This happens without fail, whether its on a personal level of understanding ones limitations or in the universal level of our limitlessness, the result is always liberation. The final liberation, of course, is from the cyclic punarapi maranam, punarapi jananam, of birth, death and rebirth into ignorance and suffering. 

Nature as dispenser of Shaktipat

There are many spots all over the world where visitors feel the grace of Shakti, after all what is Shakti, if not nature. The river Ganga, Narmada and Tungabhadra, the mountain Arunachala, Kailash, and Govardhan to name a few. There are instances of people taking a dip in a river and emerging transformed; Ramana Maharshi said it was the spiritual power of Arunachala that had brought about his Self-Realisation. Now we come to one of the greatest dispensers of Shakti, the Surya, in whose radiance we all live and breathe. 

In the year 2003/2004 I was leading a farmers movement against land acquisition in Chandigarh, where the administration was engaged in taking over farmers land for various developmental projects without due diligence and proper dispensation. The full force of the administration’s might, the police, CID, IB etc were pitted against the agitating farmers including me, looking for ways to arrest and detain us. One morning I was doing my Surya sadhana called the Siddhanath Surya Yoga as taught by my Guru. As I faced the Sun and went through the movements of pranayam, I felt the sun blaze even more and articles resembling astra and shastra, emanating from the sun and entering my aura. A feeling of immense courage and love enveloped and emboldened me. As it happens after this incident our movement took on more vigour and the administration could not do much harm and we went on to stop completely the acquisition policies of the administration and it holds till today with a caveat from the Supreme Court.  

The penultimate example of Shaktipat from the Surya is that of Brahmarisi Vishwamitra, who received the sacred Surya Gayatri as a result of his tapa and oneness with the Sun! The effect of this mantra is felt even today by those who chant it bathing them in the effulgence of the sun.

The Inner Surge of Shaktipat

Shaktipat, in tantra, is an established medium by which the Self reveals itself to itself and in that revelation expands the consciousness of the individual self towards their true nature as the universal Self. In fact it is a bit of an anomaly since there are no two selves. As the divine is all pervading and is not separated from the individual, the grace of Shaktipat can also rise from within, revealing the individual and universal to be of one nature. 

One morning earlier this year as I sat in meditation in the predawn hour, there was a silent rising from the depths of my consciousness, like a gentle emergence of a colossal shivling from the depth of a still ocean. Stillness was the quality of this rising, stillness was the very essence of the core. The following phrase manifested without any vibration or movement, मम आत्मं निरञ्झनह्, accompanied by the experience of the stillness of my innermost core as Love. Still Love. Love without ripples. This is what the term nirajhanah meant to me. Then there was an outpouring of this stillness, and I realised that Pran was this energy in motion, pran is love in motion. In a flash I ‘experienced’ the divine in every breath. The still love at the core of each of my inhalation and exhalation and the stillness at the pause.  

In the final stage, falling like gentle rain or striking like lightning as the Self reveals itself in totality, there is complete merging and the two become one. According to me, once this realisation has been had, it’s not possible to go back to old patterns of behaviour and suffering. One is truly a jeevan mukt, living in this world yet free of it.


the inner essencetial Guru

A Recap

Over the years I notice that I have pondered much on the subject of the Guru/shishya, Master/disciple principle; though not premeditated I see in myself a fascination with this phenomenal bond in the spiritual arena. Of course this bond exists in normal teacher/student relationships too. Even those who are not actively on the path of spiritual discovery might see in themselves an influence by a teacher or professor, a mentor whose guidance has brought them to the present stage of life.

An example of my predisposition with this topic is the title of my book One Master one disciple which chronicles my journey in the Presence of my Guru, a journey that began with a mystical meeting in 1998; four years ago I wrote a blog on Gurus, shishyas and the Satguru and now here I am once again on a topic that is as intricate as it is mystical, fraught with strong opinions, understandings and misunderstandings bordering on the vacuous or intellectual. Yet, I am compelled to continue after my usual reiteration that the realisations here are mine alone and opposing views and realisations are equally valid- for those who have them, as these are for me. As noted earlier, my blogs are a way of light conversation, a time out from sadhana, in fact the topic is often the result of the sadhana- inner introspection.

The Principle Guru

I now realise that as my sadhana takes roots, my understanding of this Guru principle is deepening. It takes me towards a state of clarity unclouded by external factors or inner turmoil, I acknowledge this inner presence that reflects the outer presence of the Guru. This learning is for me, a great step towards true discipleship. Yogiraj in his book Babaji, the lightning Standing Still has included a chart with two headings, World Teacher and World King. In my humorous way I have always imagined a third column in this chart, that of ‘world disciples’ for those who would like to come in every lifetime to accompany these Teachers and Kings and are happy in that role and content to fill that column in every life! Ah a whimsical thought accompanied by a humble pranam 🙏🏽.

Very early on I had understood that one of the foremost accomplishment of the external Satguru is to turn the disciple inwards towards the inner guru. In fact, by their very nature Guru’s perform this act of revelation; stopping and reversing the flow of attention from the external to the inner Guru. Of course each disciple makes this journey at their own pace. This process of reversal and inner wisdom is a part of the yogic path, as layers of the koshas, from gross to subtle are purified through the given practice, the inner guide starts to shine forth. As the veil dissolves the disciple realises the externally present and their inner Guru to be of the same essence.

The Flux Motion

As the yogi practitioners apply themselves to the practice given by their Satguru, a process is put into motion similar to the process of the germination of a seed. As the disciple is saturated with the Satgurus grace the dormant and or latent seed of the Vivek Buddhi in the disciple awakens and begins to expresses itself. The practice and the presence of the living master works like the water and sun helping the disciple to realise their full potential. There are of course many permutations and combinations to this development, the fertility of the soil, the receptivity of the seed itself, the surrounding environment and climate of the society in which the disciple interacts. But I have realised that when the seed is ready to sprout the water and the sun- the Satguru will find them to start the process of awakening.

As the seed sprouts it not only germinates and moves up towards the sun but also puts down roots to harness nourishment from the soil. Ditto with the disciple encouraged and nourished by the grace and loving guidance of the master and the rooting into the practice of the given technique of inner understanding, the disciple expresses the spiritual radiance in all their actions, manifested and unmanifested. This is a great learning experience and many years and lifetimes may go in this process, as one lifetime may not be enough to accomplish the required level of inner wisdom to finally let go, the ego of it all.

The Veil of the Panchakoshas

Often I hear people referring to how they listen to their inner guide for all matters spiritual and that they don’t need an external Guru or a practice for guidance. But, according to me, it’s not an easy matter to be able to connect to this inner guide, or to be sure the guidance that is coming is not dictated by one’s own desires or wants.

The body is made up of 5 layers or koshas, the annamaya physical body of food, the pranamaya body of breath/pran, the manomaya the body of mind and emotion, the vignyanamaya body of intellect and the anandamaya body of intuition, each contributing to refraction of information received and executed, all influencing one another and the five senses that collect information. Beyond these is the soul, also covered with its samskars and past karmas. Within this multilayered shell is the hidden spark of the inner guru.

For the inner Guru to shine forth unhindered the external layers have to reach a state of clarity and stillness unhindered by turbulence. To accomplish this, many tools are used by those on this path- various pranayam techniques, mantra frequencies, chakra sadhana etc. For practicing yogis a natural adherence to the 8 limbs of yog sadhana. In some cases sitting in the Presence of a master aids in accomplishing this state, depending upon the stature of the Master and readiness of the disciple this can be speedy or slow. Only conscious effort brings the disciple to this stage of unperturbed equilibrium is my realisation.

The wonder is that as the outer Satguru’s grace and our own effort with the practice builds the bridge from out to in, the already present inner Guru expresses in to out completing the formation of the bridge. On a lighter note my mind conjures up the building of the Eurotunnel, where work began on both ends and the Chunnel then met perfectly in the middle. Of course no spiritual pun intended…about France and UK, about who is Master and who disciple, lets leave it to the football teams to decide that 😂

The Final Turnabout

In the end we return to the seed that has sprouted and grown roots and shoots akin to the disciple fully nurtured with all the inner wisdom, expressing it in all facets of their lives. The final service the Satguru does is to now reverse the process to a withdrawal where the seed pulls back into itself its outer manifestations and the disciple moving inwards rests in the inner Nothingness, knowing that it is of the same essence as the essence of the external Satguru and Master. The disciple during practice may have already become aware of this similarity of essence, of the clear stream of consciousness that connects the innermost core of the Satguru with their own innermost core, devoid of all external paraphernalia. Nay the disciple may have already learnt to ‘listen’ internally to this essence of the Satguru, the true gnosis. But in the final retracing and resting in this state is the purpose of the yog sadhana accomplished.

This seems to be the primary function of the Satguru, to assist in forming the bridge that transports the disciple to the inner guru and rest in THAT.

For this great service a disciple can never repay the SatGuru.

Note* This germinating seed is just one of my analogies, there are and can be many as this whole process of the Guru/disciple phenomena is very fascinating and has as many permutations combinations as there are Gurus and shishyas. My realisation of the Outer & Inner Guru, however remains constant.


Kriya Yoga~ speedy, scientific and practical? OR esoteric, secretive and mystical? Part 2

“Yog”, says Yogiraj Siddhanath my Satguru, “is an inner ascent through evermore refined and evermore expanded spheres of mind to get to the godessence that is at the core of our own being.”

And Kriya Yog as discussed in an earlier blog is a lightning path that takes us to this godessence at our core- faster!

As always the points put forth are my own arrived at by realisations through practice and inner and outer study and learning, anyone is welcome to disagree and have other points of view. These blogs are an attempt at studying my own thoughts and are used as playful recreation, shared with those who may find them helpful.

In part 1 of this same topic we had discussed the beginning of Kriya Yoga as we know it today; its introduction to the modern world, around 1861 to be exact, by Lahiri Mahasaya; the Kriya Yoga lineage starting from Mahavatar Babaji to Lahiri Baba and branching out through his various disciples and their disciples to present day teachers; understanding why Yogiraj Siddhanath calls Mahavatar Babaji, Shiv Goraksha Babaji. Also briefly discussed was the process of entering the stream of this practice today.

In this part I would like to touch upon the actual practice itself, drawing upon what I have learnt and understood from my master, my own realisations from my practice and from sharing it with others over many years, from this and other lives past. And how while being a practical and scientific method of speedy recovery Kriya Yoga also unlocks an esoteric, secretive and mystical world to its dedicated sadhaks.

Kriya Yoga is a subtle pranayam technique practiced in the central Sushumna channel in the spine. Yogis and Rishis in ancient Bharat discovered early on the connection between the breath and the mind and how it can be used to holistically heal the human body of its ailments while taking the practitioner towards the yogic goal of Self realisation.

The Kriya Yoga practice- speedy, scientific, and practical

Though earlier the emphasis in science was physical and applied, science moved swiftly towards the empirical, once the influence of the mind on the body became apparent in studies of psychology. At first, the role of the breath was confined to oxygenation of body cells, but science today is fast discovering the importance of breath in treating many cardiological, respiratory and neurological diseases at a deeper level. The use of breath work in the psychiatric field, for hypertension, for children with ADHD syndrome and people suffering from PTSD amply reveals the connection between the mind and the breath in controlled environment of science. Yoga at the level of asanas/postures and pranayama/breathwork is a field of much scientific research today and is being accepted as means of post trauma healing and recovery from surgery and mental health issues. Even the mulabandha a technique of applying a yogic lock and an important part of Kriya Yoga is practiced under the name of Kegel exercises to improve the pelvic floor muscles. Meditation with medication is a new mantra now.

Kriya Yoga is universal, easy to learn, simple to practice and is available to all; it does not need any prerequisites. It can be practiced sitting on the floor or on a chair. There are no age restrictions, no restrictions on diet or require any kind of lifestyle change. The results of Kriya Yoga, if practiced with regularity are apparent very quickly. Each step in Kriya Yoga is conducive to a good physical, emotional and mental health.

In the primary practice of Kriya Yoga a rythm is established between the incoming and outgoing breath that in turn effects the brain waves and the agitated waves of stress and tension start to slow and the mind responds by calming. This systematic breathing is conducive to lowering blood pressure and hypertension. It gives a much needed rest to the organs in the body; the heart and the lungs along with the rest of the body are deeply oxygenated and decarbonised preventing premature decay of tissue.

The spine is used as the medium of transport for the inhaled and exhaled breath. The gentle friction of the regulated and concentrated breath calms the central nervous system, popularly called the command centre. Like the stroking of a parents hand on the back of a child, the practitioner is immediately relaxed and feels supported. A harmony is formed between the brain and the body, the benefits are too numerous to count. The central nervous system is a conduit between the brain, the cerebellum, the cerebrum and the nervous system that regulates the functioning of the whole body. The practice is conducive to stimulate and regulate the vagus nerve achieved by controlled breathing and holding of the breath. The Kriya breath, by its very nature, balances the left and right brain hemispheres.

Certain steps of Kriya Yoga work upon the various plexuses aligned along the spine. The plexus are a hub of intersecting nerves situated along the spine and simply put, communicate information from the body to the brain. A healthy non corrupted exchange of information is necessary for a healthy functioning of the organs and the various biological systems of the body, respiratory, digestive, lymphatic, excretory et al. A special mention is required here of the glandular or endocrine system, and though working on all the glands, the pituitary, pineal and the hypothalamus receive an immense amount of care and attention in the practice and are responsible for the overall feeling of quiet and joy that results from the practice of Kriya Yoga.

A quick look at the diagram below reveals the scope and expanse of the nervous system and its reach into every portion of the human body.

The physical stretches in the practice elongate the muscles and make room around the organs for better absorption of the oxygen for better health.

Quantum physics is another field that is studying the deep correlation between matter and energy and may one day be able to bring the mystical and the scientific together on the same board. At present Kriya Yoga does this in a wonderful way for the practitioner.

The Kriya Yoga Practice- esoteric, secretive and mystical

For me the scope of Kriya Yoga from scientific to esoteric is beautifully explained in this verse from the Shikshavalli (initiation of students into an education system in the Vedic times), the first chapter of the Taittreya Upanishad,

नमो ब्रह्मणे ।नमस्ते वायो । त्वमेव प्रत्यक्षं ब्रह्मासि ।त्वमेव प्रत्यक्षं ब्रह्म वदिष्यामि ।ॠतं वदिष्यामि ।सत्यं वदिष्यामि ।
namo Brahmaney. namaste Vayo (vayu). tvameyva pratyaksham Brahmaasi.
tvameyva pratyaksham Brahma vadishyaami. Hritam vadishyaami. Satyam vadishyaami.

Here the student while bowing to Vayu, the diety of air, one of the panch bhutas (earth, water, fire, air and space) proclaims it to be the perceptible and tangible aspect of Brahman -the ultimate reality. The student continues to proclaim this as right and truthful. A simple verse repeated by rote by many but with a very deep understanding for practicing kriyabaans who understanding the connection use the tangible Kriya breath (the inhaled pran vayu and the exhaled apan vayu) to access and merge into the Brahman- the ultimate reality in the Kuthasta Chaitanya.

The fact that I cannot share the technique or completely reveal the practice here is the esoteric nature of this practice. Though meant for everyone there is a unique code of sharing between the teacher and the student. From the time of Lahiri Mahasaya a discipline has been established of sharing the actual technique in the environment of the Guru-Shishya Parampara. That is, the technique is taught in a sacred environment; a dakshina- fee, not necessarily monetary, as prescribed is charged; and the knowledge is passed on from the teacher to the student in a special and sacred manner with an oath of secrecy. The mystique of this technique is maintained even in the ancient texts that though obliquely referring to this practice does not ever reveal the whole method. Of course, now one can find all of it exposed on the internet and in books. Bur serious practitioners still prefer to receive it from a Guru and there is a reason for it.

After observing how science is in the process of discovering and adopting yogasanas and pranayam for benefit in the field of healing trauma, here is what I understand the rishis and yogis discovered through inner study and practice. The yogis went a few steps further and discovered that the breath is not only invested with oxygen but is infused with the even more subtler pran, called the life force energy by the western world today, that permeated every breath taken by a living being, whether human, animal or plant. In fact they realised that the whole universe was held together by this intelligent force of pran and by connecting with it a yogi could become part of this universal source! A giant leap from unified field theory to practice, methinks with amusement.

The Kriya practitioner goes beyond the perceptible breath and becomes aware of the 5 Pran or vayus in the body which are referred to as the pran, apaan, samaan, vayan and udaan; though inherently same, these descriptions are according to the function they perform and all of them are infused with the intelligence of the Pran the life breath. In Kriya Yoga also called the Kundalini pranayam, the tangible spine is let go of and the practing kriyabaan enters into the subtler central Sushumna Naadi and as the practice improves penetrates even further into the Vajra, Chitrini and Brahma naadis. These lead to heightened states of awareness and are subjective to individual practitioners, their level of concentration, grace of the Satguru and karmic load. In the advanced stages of practice the Kriya practitioner achieves the task of transmuting the body of flesh into a body of light.

The inhaled and exhaled breath become the subtle pran and apan. The kumbhaks, antari and bahiri and the three bandhs combined with purak and rechak are used in prescribed ratio to bring all the 5 pran to flow seamlessly towards the divine indweller.

Interpenetrating the plexus in the physical body are the subtle chakras in which the Kriya yogi experiences the deeper truths of existence, personal and cosmic. The practice dissolves past karmas while emboldening the practitioner to face present karmas, with grace. Remember karma here refers to both, those perceived as positive or negative.

Called the lightning path by Yogiraj Siddhanath and the aeroplane path by Yogananada, the practice of Kriya Yoga expedites ones journey towards the inner guru exponentially. In the esoteric practice of the Kriya Yoga as the student immerses in the inner cosmic body they realise the microcosmic body as the reflection of the macrocosmic universe.

Since none of these realisations can be computed by science, are individual in nature and are extremely hard to share or explain they remain in the realm of esoteric and mysterious.

The Role of the Satguru- enlivening the pran

A compassionate and healing Light
A Hamsa in its splendid flight
Away oh darkness! Fly oh night
The yogi comes in radiant might.
– Yogiraj Siddhanath

In the Indian context a lot of importance is given to the role of the Satguru in ones spiritual unfoldment. A living guru seen as a necessary ingredient in the shishyas inner journey towards the realisation of the Self. This is not because one cannot achieve significant progress on ones own but because at certain points in the journey a special wisdom or information needs to be imparted according to each individual seeker, a key so to say to unlock a door to further progress. One size here does not fit all. Though many seekers are happy to progress at their own pace reading and following innumerable techniques given in many of our texts and treatises; learning from many and adapting the techniques to their own liking, the training done under one true guru overrides lifetimes of wandering, is my understanding.

In the Kriya Yoga lineage, the living Satguru transforms and enlivens the pran in the disciples spinal channel giving a boost to the disciples progress along the path. Simply put, the pran is enlivened to become capable of penetrating the kuthasta and taking the seeker to the highest of samadhi. This pran is referred to as the marut pran. For this service the disciple is forever beholden to the guru with whom they often travel from lifetime to lifetime until final salvation.

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Pranayam For The Very Young

Article published in Esamskriti; link here
See video here

As a kriya yog teacher I am often asked this question by parents, as to what age children should be introduced to pranayam. My answer to this always is ‘from the womb!’ When mothers to be practice the ayaam of pran- training and tuning the pran to flow smoothly, they plant the seed of it in the child growing in their body.

The practice of pranayam, just like yog, is not a regimen to be done as an exercise three times a week. It is an awareness of the life force that flows through us regulating our every emotion, thoughts and the functioning of our metabolism.

I have had the great honour of students from age two accompanying their parents for my classes, often because there was no one home to mind them and I have been surprised at their absorption and learning in what was a casual attendance. 

Many of these children are now in college and some working. Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing my eleven month old granddaughter imitating the pranayam practice which she had seen me do that morning and which has now become a daily play.

The techniques given in the video are a result of the observations on my part of children in my class and in schools where I have shared yog practice with students. To see VIDEO

The gift of Pranayam 

It’s a no brainer to even compute the benefits of correct Pranayam techniques for children. It’s like trying to fathom if our breath keeps us alive. 

When our children learn the art and science of correct breathing they actually learn the art and science of life. The following plusses have been observed by me in the children who were, even if in a limited way introduced to pranayam. 

As children it’s an effortless learning that is imbibed by them as second nature.

The tuned and trained breath fills them with vitality, joy and alertness.

It improves their concentration and helps them to complete tasks at a much faster pace. This leaves more time for rest and leisure, both important ingredients for a happy childhood.

Since the pran is so closely connected to the mind, a calm breath leads to a calm mind giving the children the much needed assistance for dealing with peer pressure, unhealthy competition, bullying and other stressors from the external environment. 

Some simple do’s and don’ts

This video is meant to be an introduction for very young children. Of course I don’t expect them to see this video. Hence, it is for their caregivers be it parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or nannies who must see. They are simple to follow and easy for children to comprehend. 

Remember children and infants follow by observation more than instructions, so whatever we want them to do, we must do ourselves. In short walk the talk!

Begin by practicing in front of them, for sure you will ignite their curiosity.

Forcing them can have the opposite effect, so if they get distracted or lose interest let them move away and calmly carry on with the practice yourself so they can observe your discipline despite the distraction. 

Make sure this activity does not happen immediately after meals. Give a gap of at least an hour. 

Even if they are yet not talking, converse with them as you breathe explaining the benefits of the practice.

Keeping it light hearted and playful benefits both, the teacher and the taught, forming a bond that lasts a lifetime. 

Yog sadhana is a wonderful way of life leading to a peaceful co-existence with people inhabiting this earth and with nature. It fosters respect for all that is around us. This is a gift we can and should give to the children who are going to be the keepers of the future world.

To see VIDEO 7 minutes

Authoris a Kriyacharya based in North India.

To read all articles by author


Holistic Health – A Daily Discipline



This piece by me was published in a local Chandigarh epaper. Link below  

After recovering from the dreaded COVID, I realised that one of the reasons for my recovery, at home without medication and the positive attitude while in the throes of the symptoms was my relatively disciplined lifestyle and practice of yog sadhana. Holistic health is a consistent effort, treating the body as a temple, taking care of diet and staying away from toxins that affect the body and the mind is a routine that helps at the critical moment of stress, I came to understand deeply at his time.

I am sharing below a combination of asan, pranayam and mudra that can be practiced by everyone and helped me during my illness. All yog contributes towards good health one cannot compartmentalise them into sections, but since the concentration here is specifically on the present pandemic, I am highlighting and modifying those that can be easily practiced by both who are recovering and those unaffected yet new to yog.

Some points to keep in mind:

1. Please wear loose comfortable breathable clothes. This is to let a free-flowing movement of oxygen and pran without restriction through the body.

2. Keep a light stomach, last heavy meal at least three hours before commencing practice, unless otherwise mentioned.

3. Keep to your own level of comfort while practicing the asan, do not overstretch or push your limit. Be comfortable and rested in the posture.

4. You can practice all the following techniques out in the open, facing or with back towards the sun.

Asan Chalityogmudra (Pic 1) and (2)

1. Sit on your knees or back on your heel, depending on your level of flexibility. You can put a pillow behind your knee if you are comfortable with it.

2. Clasp your hands behind your back at the hip level.

3. Now bend forward breathing out, gently raising and extending the clasped arm behind you to shoulder level. When all the breath is out, gently squeezing your whole body while bent forward.

4. Now slowly breathe in as you straighten up and continue to bend back opening up the chest fully as you keep filling your lungs and extending open your diaphragm. Once again hold the breath in and gently squeeze the body. The arms are now back at hip level.

5. Repeat four to six times.

Pranayam (Pic 3,4, & 5)

Set of breathwork for all three parts of the lung. Remember the breath never bursts out or in, you are in control

1. Seat yourself comfortably, on the floor or on a chair. Inhale as you squeeze your shoulders up towards your ears pulling and stretching the spine up. Hold your breath. Exhale as you drop the shoulders down and relax. Repeat 6-10 times. This is for the upper lung area.

2. Maintain the seating posture. Place your left hand on the floor by your side or on the chair and extend the right arm over the head raising the right shoulder and bending towards the left breathing in as you go into the posture. Hold the posture and the breath. Breath out as you bring your right arm back and lower your right shoulder. This is for the middle portion of the right lung.

3. Now place your right hand on the floor by your side or on the chair and extend the left arm over the head raising the left shoulder and bending towards the right breathing in as you go into the posture. Hold the posture and the breath. Breath out as you bring your left arm back and lower your left shoulder. This is for the middle portion of the left lung.

4. Repeat the alternate sides 6-10 times

5. Now we come to the lowermost tip of the lungs. Bend forward with both hands placed firmly on your knee. As you inhale, curve your back bringing the shoulders forward towards each other. Hold the breath for a little while. Exhale as you move your shoulders back and extend your chest. Hold the breath. Repeat 6-10 times.

6. In all the above exercise visualise the golden pran along with the oxygen permeating every alveoli of your lungs.

Mudra (Pic 6)

1. Sit comfortably on the floor or a chair.

2. Loosen your shoulders and drop them.

3. Breathe in slowly filling your lungs with oxygen and pran. Feel every alveoli saturated and completely filled with this life-giving pran.

4. Hold your breath for as long as you can comfortably.

5. Then explosively throw the breath out through the mouth as you throw and extend the tongue out. Purging all breath fully. Remember the breath is thrown out from the bottom of the lung.

Take care not to overextend or overstretch yourself during practice. Stay within your comfort zone and stay safe.

About the Author: Introduced formally to yoga at age 11, Jyoti has effortlessly incorporated in her life, the philosophy of yogic living. With a teaching experience since 1999 in Mahavatar Babaji’s Kundalini Kriya Yoga and Siddhanath Yoga, she takes great pleasure in sharing all that she has learnt with others who seek. Author of the book One Master One Disciple, she is an ardent blogger and inspired writer.

Post Script, not in the original article.

Note to Disciples:

The importance of Grace and Presence of the Satguru.

As a disciple, I have had many divine realisations, many moments of “inner knowingness” as my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath calls this; for me they are an aha moment.

So also when I was in the shallow breath stage for two days, as I went deep into myself I felt in every alveoli of my lungs a miniature sun shining and radiating pushing away the clouds of the covid fog. I had no doubt this was the Presence of the grace of my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath. When I went deeper and connected with the core disease, I saw present the form of the Mahavatar Babaji comfortably sitting in the middle of the covid cell and laughing. The vision was so funny it set me laughing uncontrollably. I realised that both the disease and the cure was the play of the divine.

I know I might be opening myself to ridicule and disbelief for sharing this incident. But I share it still as it was an important revelation for me. As usual I end with the rider do not blindly believe what others say, base your foundation on your own realisations.

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Kriya Yoga~ speedy, scientific and practical? OR esoteric, secretive and mystical?

This article was published in an online magazine on the 7th of January 2021. link provided,-scientific-and-practical-OR-esoteric,-secretive-and-mystical-1.aspx

Before getting down to write, I typed in Kriya Yoga on the search bar and it threw up 1,10,000,00 search results in seconds. That made me wonder what new information I could share that will be different from everything told and retold about this practice. It is my friend Sanjeev who urged me to write about this very special form of Yog Sadhana, one that has been a part of my present life since 1998, when I met my Satguru, first in a vision then initiated into this in person, a practice which I, from day one, took to like a fish takes to water. 

As usual I write from personal experience and inference about spiritual truths as revealed to me by the grace of my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath and my personal journey in this sadhana of Kriya Yoga. Read it for what it is, a respectful bow by a sadhak to a practice given by a Satguru. Yogiraj Siddhanath is one of the masters of the present times entrusted with teaching the Kriya Yoga by none other than the Mahavatar Babaji.

But first the beginning of Kriya Yoga in modern times

Shri Shama Charan Lahiri
(Lahiri Mahasaya)

The torch of Kriya Yoga in its present form was brought to humankind by Sri Shama Charan Lahiri, aka Lahiri Mahasaya, pronounced Moshai in Bengali and Mahashay in Hindi; it is a common form of address in India meaning revered or most respected sir. His meeting with Babaji has been detailed by Paramahamsa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi. For the accounts of Lahiri Mahasaya’s life in this article, I have referred to the book Purana Purusha, excerpts from the diaries of Lahiri Baba himself and its introduction by Yogacharya Vacaspati Dr. Ashok Kumar Chatterjee. 

From the start what endeared and inspired me most about Lahiri Baba, was his simple life. Despite his spiritual brilliance, of which he seemed unaware until his meeting with the Mahavatar at age 40, he went about life in a most ordinary manner. 

A childhood normal in most ways, with some indications of his spiritual yogic nature, a father who paid great attention to his education, his early marriage to Kashimoni followed in time by birth of two sons and three daughters. At age 23 he was commissioned a sarkari job as a clerk in PWD, Military Engineering Works. To bolster his income he gave lessons in Hindi and Urdu to a few English army officers.

(Mahavatar Babaji)

And then in the year 1868, one day while out on a walk in the hills of Ranikhet, he was authoritatively summoned by an ascetic and taken to meet the divine Mahavatar Babaji. After this momentous experience and realisation, Lahiri Mahasaya went right back to his job and family and in a quiet manner started to carry out the instructions of his Guru to spread the light of Kriya Yoga from his home in Kashi. 

In fact his second and youngest daughter were born after his meeting with the radiant Mahavatar, proof of a continuance of a normal householder’s life. The Master showed by example how a truly spiritual life can be led whilst living in the material world – for me this is one of the greatest teachings by Lahiri Mahasaya. 

That is how simple Kriya Yoga is, a fast track evolutionary technique of pranayam that takes you to the highest stages of yog sadhana while keeping you rooted in the ground of a householders life. 

This lesson is amply set forth in present times by my Satguru who is also a householder yogi and continues to radiate the awareness of Kriya Yoga from his forest ashram in Pune Maharashtra, inspiring disciples to find tranquility in the midst of turmoil. 

A quick note here as today most people know of Kriya Yoga and the lineage of Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar Giri and Yogananada due to the world famous book Autobiography of a Yogi. But it is important to note that Shama Charan Lahiri had many advanced disciples of whom one was Sri Yukteswar who in turn had many advanced disciples one of whom was Yogananda. Now all these disciples have their own lineages and student and teachers base. Most follow the original Kriya Yoga as revived by Lahiri Mahasaya with the grace and blessings of Mahavatar Babaji, and many of them in their own right had personal and deep experiences with Babaji. 

The importance of a living Guru 

Satguru’s have been appearing from time to time to enliven and refresh this evolutionary fast track practice to attain self realisation for disciples. Often the disciples who come and quickly flow into the practice are also souls who have been introduced to this path in lives past and come to continue the journey with the present master. Actually nothing is lost, the practice continues from where it was left off. Yogiraj Siddhanath is one such master. 

Personally for me the present Guru, in my case Yogiraj Siddhanath, is enough to lead one to enlightenment without the unnecessary encumbrance of past masters and the desire for “original” techniques. As the human brain and nervous systems evolve the practices are tweaked by the masters who come to suit present day requirements. 

This is a point of much debate and lots of jostling by various branches of Kriya Yoga schools, but this is my realisation that the present true Guru leads the disciple without fail towards the goal of self realisation (sabikalpa/sarvikalpa) and god realisation (nirbikalpa/nirvikalpa). As a disciple what is required is Vivek buddhi and swadhyaya which will help in discerning a true master from a pretender, that’s the only thing to watch out for and what many seekers fear. 

When I met Yogiraj Siddhanath, the first time it was in a vision where he summoned me to his ashram in Pune. Those were pre-internet days of landline phones in 1998, how I reached the Pune ashram is a story by itself. You can read about this in my book, One Master, one disciple. This guiding to the Guru, bolstered my confidence that the disciples find their way to the Guru without fail when their time comes and this has been proved by recounts of many disciples on how they found the Guru or on how the Guru found them! 

The living Guru, for me, is the concrete connecting bridge who steers the disciple unerringly on the path individually. Also there are no doubts about the messages, instructions and milestones that arrive during practice which can otherwise be coloured by our own ego and or flights of fancy or just misunderstood by the mind. The living guru keeps the disciple steady and on course each according to their own needs. The greatest gift the living guru bestows is as the disciple reaches out to the external Guru, the external Guru guides the disciple to the inner Guru and once this connection is established no separation of the Guru and the disciple is possible. 

The Mystical Mahavatar Babaji

Lahiri Mahasaya said simply, “Budha baba ohi Kisun,” hinting at the stature of a person addressed as Babaji, a generic term used for the elderly in India connecting him to the purnavatar Krishna. There are accounts by many of their meeting with this exalted being, their trysts with the Mahavatar and the lessons learnt from him. The magical mystical meetings have given rise to many books and schools of learning. 

Here I write about the one I know firsthand recounted by my Guru, Yogiraj Siddhanath. Yogiraj had deep and personal experiences of this Being, whom he calls Mahavatar Shiva Goraksha Babaji, in both the human and cosmic form in the Himalayas at the Jhilmili Gufa at the base of the Neelkantheshwar peak in Badrinath and at the confluence of the Alakhnanada and Mandakini rivers at Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand. In his experience of the Mahavatar is the realisation of the Mahavatar as none other than Gorakhnath, the being who burst out of the heart of Adi Nath Shiva. In his book, Babaji: the Light Standing Still he connects the Mahavatar Babaji unerringly with Shiva Gorakhshanath and the Nath lineage with references from historical and spiritual texts.

Among other inferences, Yogiraj has shown the similarity between the Goraksha Kriya from the Goraksha Shatak and the Babaji Kriya of Mahavatar Babaji. Says Yogiraj Siddhanath in his book Babaji, the Lightning Standing Still, “The hundred verses of the Gorksha Shataka given below connect beautifully to the original Kriya Yoga which is given to us by Shiva Goraksha Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteshwar Giri. Some of the instructions of Kriya Yoga have been taken ad verbatim from the Goraksha Shataka. 

This only goes to make clear that Babaji of Autobiography of a Yogi and Goraksha Nath, who wrote the Shataka, are one and the same.” Both have the Omkar Kriya, Hamsa (pronounced Hong Sha in Bengali) sadhana, Kriya Yoga Pranayam, Nabhi Kriya, Mahamudra, Yoni or Jyoti Mudra, Unmani/ Para Avastha, Khechari Mudra, Thokar Kriya and so on.

(Earth Peace Temple at Siddhanath Forest Ashram)

The Earth Peace Temple at the ashram in Pune houses one of the largest consolidated akhanda mercury shivling. Disciples and devotees from across the globe visit to sit in the peaceful radiation of this linga and be propelled to high states in their sadhana. The consolidation of mercury is an alchemical process whose custodians are the Nath yogis. Yogiraj Siddhanath, it should be noted is the first to reveal the commonalities between the Nath Sampradaya of Gorakhnath and the Kriya Yoga lineage of Mahavatar Babaji.

(Yogiraj with Parad Shivling)

Kriya Yoga, the spinal highway to evolution

Much has been written about the practice itself so I will limit myself to a few fundamentals according to my realisations. Yogananda called it the aeroplane path and Yogiraj defines it as the lightning path. Both showing the fast track nature of this pranayam to propel the practitioner towards realisation of the Self. 

The spine has been the measurement of evolution from invertebrate to vertebrate to Homo Erectus, the upright man. Further evolution from human to divine, I understood, also takes place along the subtle sushumna channel within the spine, wherein starts the scope of Kriya Yoga. 

The fundamental goal of any practice from the sanatan repertoire is to free the soul from the cycle of birth and rebirth into suffering…, Kriya Yoga achieves this by a dual movement of evolving the awareness while simultaneously burning past karmas of the practitioner freeing them from this cyclic repetition. 

As the practice takes roots the practitioner is propelled towards the higher stages of yog sadhana- to pratyahar, dharana, dhyan and by the grace of the living Satguru samadhi. 

The Process of Learning

A simple technique to learn, the magic of transformation is in the consistency of practice. There are many schools of Kriya Yoga that have branched out of the fountainhead of Lahiri Mahasaya and his disciples and their disciples and so on and so forth. All have their own systems in place for the sharing of this wisdom. 

In some, the initiation or deeksha is given by authorised teachers and the empowerment or anugraha is imparted in a sacred ceremony by the Satguru. In others both are done by the Satguru who initiates and empowers in one ceremony. Some give all the Kriyas together and others over an extended period of time. As a seeker one must find the one that suits the most. 

Yogiraj Siddhanath has authorised many teachers in India and around the globe to impart this technique but seekers are also welcome to go directly to his events, at the Pune ashram or in various cities of India and abroad, which he visits periodically, to be initiated and empowered by him directly. 

The forest ashram in Pune is built at the base of the Singhad hills and has room for over a hundred people to stay. The ashram is rustic but with all modern amenities, a gym and a swimming pool. Retreats are organised regularly and one activity is meditating in the pool as the water helps in the movement of the meditative breath. The other daily activity is meditating in the presence of the Satguru and the consolidated mercury shivling for enhanced meditation and healing. 

Yogiraj is one of the rare living masters who is still personally available and disciples can spend time in his presence at the ashram and during his travels. The very environs of the ashram brings stillness and peace to the person entering.

For more information on Yogiraj’s events:

(Picture of Chandigarh Centre)

(Author with kids)

At my centre in Chandigarh regular yog classes and initiations into Kriya Yoga are held. Though, these days all classes have moved online. Activities also focus on introducing children to the benefits of yog and meditation, on living in harmony with others and nature. 

When Yogiraj visits it becomes a hub for people from all over who come to be in his presence and partake of the Kriya knowledge and avail of the transmissions of Shaktipat, Pranpat and Shivapat that Yogiraj is constantly radiating. 

In conclusion do I think Kriya Yoga to be speedy, scientific and practical? Or esoteric, secretive and mystical? Yes to both of course, a speedy, scientific and practical technique to learn, the practice of it introduces and opens up the awareness to esoteric secrets of the mystical. Liberating one from the daily trammels of one’s life it leads one unerringly towards the goal of yog sadhana- final liberation.

Author Kriyacharya Jyoti lives in Chandigarh.

To read by Yogiraj Siddhanath – Babaji: The Lighting Standing Still

To read about and buy by author – One Master, One Disciple A thrilling spiritual adventure

To read all articles by author on site (eSamskriti)

PART 2 soon to come…

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Leave the mind/ego outside with the shoes?

-An antithetical viewpoint

Offering my respect to that irritating grain of sand that initiates the forming of the pearl I will dive right into a topic that has been bubbling on the surface of my mind for a while. Do remember my blogs are written as a bit of fun and light heartedly.

Establishing having an Ego

Being my nature to ponder on the spiritual and the so called spiritual, the intellectual and the so called intellectual, and finding it exciting to engage in this pursuit in my time away from my sadhana, it has become a rather enjoyable pastime of mine. In reality, some of these realisations are a result of the said sadhana when the lens turns and shines a light upon, among other subjects, popular sayings that belie a belief system. In fact you can call this my rubik’s cube, sudoku or crossword puzzle, so to speak. An engaging of the intellect to keep it sharp and not dulled or rather lulled into complacence. An Adi Shankaracharya inspired dialogue/debate occurring within myself; it is not uncommon for me, to find myself in conversation with my Self! 

This habit, I realise now, had started very young when often I would find myself deeply (deeply yet humorously, for sure) pondering the vedantic philosophies discussed at home and the meaning of brahminical mantras constantly chanted by my elders. Stories from the Bhagavatam, the Mahabharat and Ramayan, the panchatantra would all be examined while being enjoyed. Adi Shankaracharya was a great favourite of my father and his quotes were applied to many and sundry situations internally and externally. This inculcated an atmosphere of debates and discussions, sometimes heated but always ending in a handshake, on which my father insisted. 

“Where the mind is without fear,” wrote Tagore, “and the head is held high, where knowledge is free.” A poem that had impacted me deeply as a child. Even then I had known that though the poem was directed towards the country as a whole, it applied to each individual; for what else is a country made up of, if not its citizens. “Where the clear stream of reason has not lost it’s way into the dreary desert sands of dead habit,” continues Tagore. Into that heaven of freedom I would wish to be awakened as a young adolescent. Needless to say that did not bode well for any adult in my vicinity, be it teacher or parent who would ask me to follow obediently what was asked of me and what they deemed was the best for my development. Everything would have to pass this self study. That’s not to say I have not indulged in many spontaneous actions and learnt insightful lessons from all of them some pleasurable some not-so, all contributing to the formation of my ego as it were. 

It would be correct to say, hence, that I had expended a sizable amount of my years in the attempt of developing intellectual skills which it would in later life not be wrong to call a well developed sense of the self, popularly labelled ego by philosophers and pundits. Said acquired skills also used to demolish without prejudice, perceptions that did not resonate with my own realisations. As usual, the views expressed here are mine alone, arrived at after much pondering in my free time and anyone who disagrees with them I accord a more than cordial shake of the hand.

A Not so Gentle Coaxing

New age yoga studios quickly follow a catchy phrase without due diligence.

First expressed in eastern philosophies, it is a common statement today used by priests, clergymen, gurus and pundits to ask the congregation to leave the ego outside with the shoes. This apparently to keep their flock humble and not fall a prey to pride. The idea mooted is that the ego is an obstacle on the path towards the Lord God.

This statement has always irked me and if asked to leave my mind or ego outside with my shoes while attending watering holes of any hue, it immediately makes me more attentive and a bit suspicious. It is meant to be a cute statement meaning don’t be argumentative but I find it an assault on a discerning mind. The ego of the person inside trying to override the ego of the person entering! Not so Om Shanti after all!!

Ego, A Brief Summarisation

Simply stated, ego in Latin stands for I. Any person using this I word excessively is perceived as an egoist. For me, though this was too simplistic a definition of the ego. I craved for a more detailed understanding of ego as identity, as an understanding of the self and a tool for gathering knowledge and wisdom.

A throwback to college where being a student of philosophy, I had studied Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and his theory of a priori and a posteriori. Putting it simply and keeping it light, they are the two methodology of gathering knowledge by an individual mind and goes to form the substance of the ego. A priori the first based on deduction and reason is independent of experience and the second a posteriori is empirical and based on subjective experience. Most western philosophers give precedence to information and knowledge gathered through the former a priori as it’s, according to them, a more scientific approach, an objective study which determines that a particular formula when applied would in every instant bring the same result. The latter path of a posteriori is empirical and based on information gathered from subjective experience, a method which for obvious reasons, is very difficult to compute. The latter is usually debunked by those referred to popularly as ‘intellectuals’. But I have found both work in different ways to help the individual mind gather information.

In the Sanatan philosophy the sanskrit term used is Ahankar. Ahankar which does not just mean the ‘I’ but the ‘I maker’. The first sign of ego is developed by the infant at the moment of birth. The first I of identifying with the external form grows roots.

According to my understanding the identity of Aham or self strengthens as the baby grows by identifying with traits of its gender, family status and name. This sense of the self deepens further as the manas- the mind, and intellect- buddhi becomes more consolidated with social conditioning and upbringing and the very personal experiences in that souls journey. The I then refers to itself as the sum total of all 5 koshas, the panchakosha – the body of flesh, the body of breath, the body of mind and emotion, the body of intellect and the body of intuition. How this I collects information, knowledge and wisdom depends on how the I perceives the world through the 5 senses, panchendriyas. Further the substance of the I is textured by the play of the three gunas, the clarity or otherwise of the vivek buddhi.

भूमिरापोऽनलोवायु: खंमनोबुद्धिरेवअहङ्कारइतीयंमेभिन्नाप्रकृतिरष्टधा

Interestingly Krishna in the Bhagavad Geeta has pointed out how the earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, buddhi (intellect) and ahankar form the eight grosser manifestations of the energies of the descending Purusha– pure consciousness. All serious practitioners of yog sadhana know that the body consists of all these elements and together they form the grosser I. For clarification Purusha, in my understanding, has no ‘masculine’ connotation here. More on this in my next blog.

This is a vast topic by itself and my reason for touching upon it here is only to lightly stroke on the nuances of what is meant by an ego.

Case in favour of not leaving the ego out

Let me begin by saying that according to me, those who have an Ahankar, an ego will not be successful in leaving it behind. And those who can leave it behind need not enter at all, for after all they without Ahankar become -Nirankar- निरङ्कार्, without form, formless.

1. योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः

Patanjali in his treatise of YogSutras says yog (union) is calming the vagaries of the fluctuating mind. The mind, the ego is the sense of lower self, which is transformed to the realisation of the Universal Self. The calming of the fluctuations and turbulence of the mind is the basis of yog sadhana. If you have already achieved it you need not enter at all, if you haven’t, leaving it behind what will you transform? It is after all the ego that has to pass through the crucible of fire to purify itself into Atman, then Paramatman.

2. स्वाध्याय

One of the tenets of niyam is swadhyay, self study; turning the lens inward in order to observe and experience the transformation of the chitta and the manas all a part of what forms the ego. Having left the mind and ego self outside, what is there to study.

3. शरीरे संहारः कलानाम्

“The destroyer is within the body,” read the Shiva Sutra discovered by Vasugupta on a boulder in the territory of Rishi Kashyap around the 9th century CE. The movement of discovery is inwards and outwards. As the seeker takes the first step into the room the spirit within recognising that effort inwards is filled with joy and moves to embrace and reward this endeavour by a soul in returning to its parent source and the ego dropping all its beauty and ugliness regains its natural form of splendour.

As a practitioner of yog sadhana for this and many lives, I am palpably aware of the movement of my consciousness from grosser to more subtler aspects of my being. It’s a transformation from the grosser emotions and passion to the subtler love and light which is the purpose of the practice for many. The journey of the transformation itself is what gives joy. It is to learn this transformation that we enter any room and if asked to leave the ego outside it will defeat the purpose of the sadhana, we may as well just be mindlessly anywhere.

Finally, complete leaving of the Ego is when you realise you were never the Ego nor any of its manifestations. Adi Shankaracharya in his NirvanShatakam explains.


मनोबुद्ध्यहङ्कारचित्तानिनाहं, श्रोत्रजिह्वेघ्राणनेत्रे

व्योमभूमिर्नतेजोवायुः, चिदानन्दरूपःशिवोऽहम्शिवोऽहम्१॥

I am not the mind, intelligence, ego or conscience 

Neither am I the sense of hearing, taste, smell or sight

I am not the sky, earth, fire or air

Eternal Bliss attribute of Shiva I am, Shiva I am

Earlier Krishna explained the descent of purusha– pure consciousness into ego and here Shankaracharya explains the ascent of ego into purusha– pure consciousness. Still a vestige of I aham evident in the last line and a degree of separation as the attribute rupa of eternal bliss, in my understanding if the last coat of ego had dissolved in Shankaracharya, there would have been no NirvanShatakam.

Note: Most of my writing comes from casual conversations around a cuppa or a random sentence left floating or observing a rather repetitive spiritual anecdote. There are many blogs that are already arising from this one. If you enjoyed reading and would like me to ramble on like this more. Leave a comment with your own bubbles of thought and we will thus have a conversation. And yes sure bring in your ego, Egos welcome!!