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


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शक्तिपत् – a constant shower of Grace

First published in Esamskriti
https://www.esamskriti.com/e/Spirituality/Tantra/Shaktipat-~-a-constant-shower-of-Grace-1.aspx

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.


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You are what You Eat?

This post, spearheaded by current discussions on social media by friends, is nevertheless a result inspired by my personal experiences. It is not an argument for or against any particular food habits and does not endorse a lifestyle choice on food, which I believe is very personal and depends upon one’s own understanding of ones body and its needs. Finally, a ‘disclaimer’ – all opinions expressed here are mine alone and anyone is free to disagree. With these views  I may disappoint some people, inspire some or pass by others without a ripple and thats fine.

Early learning.

From childhood I have heard there are three types of people, tamasic, rajasic and sattvic. The day I was lazy, didn’t have a bath, comb my hair or was generally lolling about my grandma would say, “what a tamasic child she is today!” Stale food was a no no at home, even refrigerated food was considered tamasic. Meat?! even garlic and onions were used sparingly, for medicinal purposes only lest they evoke rajasic qualities. Forget the fact that being apparently tamasic i was actually immersed in books reading stories from the Bhagavatam, the Panchatantra or stories of Krishn, Prahlad or Ayyapa, a clearly sattvic activity even if done in ones pyjamas.

Then, at age five I got hurt and the Bengali doctor in his wisdom prescribed two half boiled eggs for me as daily diet. The eggs were boiled outside the house and kitchen in a little stove in a rusty tin can which was washed and dried outside.  But what about me? A brahmin child, fed on ‘sattvic’ food from birth? I waited daily for the eggs like a devotee waits for prasad hands in supplication; I loved it, the flavour, the texture, the fragrance of the runny egg, a new experience for all my senses. And that was a guilty secret I finally confessed to my Amma and Appa who, thankfully for my psychological well being, had a hearty laugh at their child’s predilection. 😀

As i grew up i went through phases of rajasic and tamasic and sattvic habits in food and way of life. Going through the university of life and picking up information and knowledge and gaining wisdom from personal experiences. In 1998 I met my Satguru, Yogiraj Siddhanath and wisdom started to flower into realizations.

Sustained and disciplined yogic practice added its inputs and one major realization that came was motive trumps everything else when it comes to the effect of an action. The energy behind the act decides the resultant fruit of that action.

Today I eat very little, mostly organic vegetarian food cooked at home but without obsessing, eat what’s available…or not.

Outer Sattvicity

Today’s topic is about food, yet I’d like to begin this section with an anecdote I heard as a kid. Kabir the great mystic saint from Kashi was a weaver. While he weaved the cloth he would be immersed in divine love, people of Kashi came in hordes to buy cloth woven at his loom. Apparently when one wore the cloth woven by Kabir one would spontaneously go into a blissful samadhi like state.

Though this anecdote is self explanatory, it reiterates my point that everything we use becomes sattvic or tamasic by the energy and motive that touches it at every stage. The food we eat is effected by the soil that its grown on, the water thats used for irrigation, the mental state of the farmer who is harvesting it, the emotions of the person processing or cooking it. A happy citizenry produces happy benign products, meat, fruits or vegetables, it matters not.

Hence the importance of caring for our environment, our craftsmen and farmers, people who serve and are served, to live with awareness of our surroundings, not to leave large toxic footprints. Without arguments this is the ideal yogic external life too. A true practicing yogi, according to me, is incapable of polluting the environment, is not a glutton, is judicious in consumption, follows a minimalistic approach towards resources.

In India traditionally, there are mantras specifically formulated and chanted, while planting the seeds, before harvest, while cooking, after cooking, and then before taking the first morsel, these mantras by their vibrations are believed to neutralise all toxins, physical and vibrational contained in the food.

Inner Sattvicity

Now about the yogi who has internalised….Yes this blog is for those already part of the way up this path, those who are engaged in purifying the inner.

For moi, internalising the external, the practicing yogi becomes aware of the physical body as a temple that houses the soul and the spirit of the divine, and treats it as such. Every moment understanding the sacredness and sanctity of this body temple theres a reluctance to pollute it intentionally with gross food or thoughts and emotions.

But often the yogi is not supported in this endeavour by the produce that is available. What happens when such a yogi engaged in the purifying of the inner being eats toxic/tamasic, non sattvic food? I know, by experience, that the body of the practicing yogi processes the food, ingesting the nourishing and expelling the toxic naturally and making it sattvic. There’s no voluntary thought process happening here. It’s happened to me there’s a blip in the body, a pause and then course correction, the toxins are eliminated and the body recovers quickly. This happens with emotional and mental toxic vibrations too external and internal….quick jettisoning of all baggage.

The yogi here is not expending any energy on conscious control of the external circumstance, “oh i got a bunch of toxic bacterias in the last bite, um salmonella, oops i think the vegetable/fish/piece of meat i just ate was very sad, was that an aphid that i just swallowed with my raw organically grown salad leaf? I need to go through a detox programme now.” Nope, the body is fine tuned to take care of this while the yogic mind flows in a constant stream towards the divine. It’s all because of the practice, the pranayama, the bandhas, the kumbhaks, the mudras, the intelligence of the pran…the specialised techniques given by the Guru, by the grace of the Satguru.

Fact is we all have all three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in varying degrees in all of us and in all the food available. As Yogiraj Siddhanath points out these three represent the three humours of  Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which in a practicing yogi transforms to prana, tejas and ojas and then further to hamsa, kundalini and nectar and finally livingness, light and love. So wherein is one superior to the other? When by internal alchemy all three flow towards the divine ultimately.

I shall probably be back to add more inputs as the realizations come. In the meantime, if you like to please leave a comment in the box below. Points and counterpoints welcome, but toxic comments will be automatically purged 😀


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Do we find the Path or does the Path find us??

Fortunately for me, the Satguru (Yogiraj Siddhanath) and the path (Kriya Yoga) both found me. Blissfully ignorant of Babaji and Kriya Yoga and the other Kriya masters in the lineage in spite of having read the Autobiography of a Yogi, I was happily cruising along in my ‘normal’ life when my Satguru appeared in a vision and guided me to him and the forest ashram in Pune, India. For me it was like waking up from a deep slumber of thirty-six years in this life. My constant association with Him and his wife Gurumata Shivangini and steady practice for over 16 years has brought back memories of past lives practicing this sacred evolutionary science and my many lives in his service. There are many who are guided in a similar manner to their past Masters, even if some of them are not aware that this has happened.

“Practice the necessary means to achieve the necessary end,” says my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath, a very practical and profound advice to the novice seeker. In todays era of excessive information we often come across people flitting from practice to practice and ‘gurus’ to ‘gurus’ looking for a quick fix to life’s problems. It has become very fashionable to say, all gurus preach the same things and all paths lead to the same goal. Really?? There is a market out there promising from the art of loving to living to dying, from material abundance to freedom from disease, from finding your ‘soul mate to ridding yourself of the present one, from sewa to satsang, old wine in new bottles and new wine in old, you can pay a fee and choose the path leading you to your hearts desire. So definitely all paths don’t lead to the same end and most definitely all gurus don’t preach the same thing. So the first step is to identify what one wants to achieve and choose. Whether you get what is promised in the promo is another ball game altogether 🙂

And even if the goal is not material but self-realization or spiritual evolution you have to find the right path and the right guide (satguru) for YOU!! Its like getting to the top of a mountain, some may want to take the tough trek up the most difficult path, others may want to meander by a more gentle slope, still others may want to try out many of the different tracks branching out, yet others may want to stop at every bower and meadow, read a book and talk to every flower and its all OK. Out there is a Path and a Satguru perfectly suited to You and you have to find it. No easy task left to our limited and normally confused mind. Of course just like the game we played as kids we keep looking till we find.

But there are certain yardsticks, first of course is, have you got what was promised? How much time have you devoted to practicing the given technique before you make this evaluation? On a spiritual path some of the indication are a freedom from earlier fears and insecurities, an awakening of spiritual compassion as compared to human charity, feeling of contentment in any life situation, calmness and equanimity in the face of turmoil, a constant joyous demeanor, a non judgmental (not indifferent) attitude to others etc. If you achieve even a modicum of one of these qualities after a couple of months then you are probably on the right path, for you. Of course like in the corporate world this evaluation can be done periodically to check progress. But watch out for the mind and the ego, it’s a devious thing and can lull you into many delusions…even the delusion of being fearless or joyous or compassionate. It is especially so if you are involved in an organization with a large number of followers where the ego is stoked and stroked and even in service to others there is pride, in compassion pity and a feeling of superiority in general to the rest of humanity that has not ‘found the way’ that we have been so fortunate to have been guided to.

Whatever path you may have chosen and whichever guru you may be following; there is a video by Yogiraj that I find very helpful to a seeker.

Now as promised below is the article from 2005 about various yoga systems available to us. Of course since then many new ones have emerged, the latest being Naked Yoga. Is it really the clothes we have to drop? I would think it should be our ego with all its accompanying paraphernalia, eh? Does Living Free entail wearing no clothes? Maybe they start with the clothes and will move inwards…in any case good luck to them in their endeavor.

Next post will touch upon the much ignored and misunderstood first two tenets of yog sadhana- yam and niyam more popularly, observances and restraints.

LIFE POSITIVE
Connecting to one’s sacred self with Yoga
The Tribune, Friday, October 14, 2005, Chandigarh, India

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Yoga trainer Jyoti Subramanian elaborates on the various branches of Yoga.

Good health is not just related to the physical body. Complete health has to permeate the physical, emotional and mental. This is where the practice of yoga plays such an important role. The practitioner not only cures the physical ailments but also moves in to cure the emotional or mental reasons for the disease and progresses to understanding his innate divine nature.

Often novitiates are perplexed by the variety or branches of yoga available and propagated-Patanjali yoga, Kundalini yoga, Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Raja yoga, Kriya yoga, Hamsa yoga, Iyengar yoga and now Bikram yoga- the list is endless.

Patanjali codified yoga in the treatise ‘Yoga Sutras’ in the year 200 BCE. Even then, he is not the originator, the knowledge of Yoga having come from the Mahayogi Shiva himself.

All yoga that is taught today, which includes the ones mentioned above has its origin in Patanjali who has systematically recorded all the practices of yoga. So we can visualise Patanjali as this big umbrella from where all forms of yoga come.

Ashtanga means ‘eight limbs’. Now according to Patanjali the Tree of Yoga has eight limbs, yama (restraints) and niyama (observances) are the first two and comprise the following qualities taught to children by their parents and teachers through example: non-violence, truthfulness, freedom from greed, control of sensual pleasures, non-stealing, compassion, moderate eating, austerity, contentment, belief in divinity, charity, company of men of wisdom.

Third comes asanas, for steadiness of posture, good physical health and lightness of body.

Fourth is pranayam, a technique to make the respiratory organs move intentionally as against automatic habitual breathing. One learns to harness the mind via the medium of breath.

Pratyahar being the fifth limb is a process of reversal of energy. Our sense organs, always attracted to the external, are drawn inwards seeking their own divinity.

Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi are final three stages; a single point attention with the mind unwavering and unruffled, a merging of the one meditating and meditated upon- the true state of meditation and finally the state where the yogi realises the individual self to be a part of the universal self. Therefore all yoga has to be part of ashtanga.

Hatha Yoga ignores the first two: yama and niyama and concerns itself with the practice of asanas, pranayam and pratyahar. Raja yoga concerns itself with dharana, dhyan and Samadhi.

Most yogis normally practice a combination of Hatha-Raja yoga. The former to maintain the physical body as a fit vehicle and the latter for spiritual evolution leading to union of the individual self with the divine self.

By tradition, Kriya yoga was never taught publicly, normally communicated verbally by master to disciple. Even today though many masters are authorising their disciples to teach this practice it is essential to be initiated by the master to enliven the process. Kriya yoga is the practice of Kundalini yoga and both are part of Raja yoga. Hamsa yoga, a special form of yoga practiced by the Himalayan yogis is also part of Raja yoga.

– Hamsacharya Jyoti Subramanian was introduced to yoga in 1972. She teaches the New Life Awakening techniques of Hamsa Yog and Babaji Kriya Yog.