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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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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.