Answering questions on doing Dhyan

I wrote this post on doing Dhyan using the Ajapa mantras Soham or Hamsa or OM. I have in fact written several posts on spiritual practice and the mantra you use when you do these (do use the index page to locate them). There were some questions so will write a bit more in this post.

‘Look’ at your third eye chakra while doing Dhyan.

The mind has to be trained to stay still, to stop its continuous whirring. So you have to focus at one single point, ie the point where the Sushumna, Ida, Pingala Nadi merge, ie the third eye chakra. The Ajnya chakra आज्ञा चक्र is the only point where you have to focus on always and ever. This will grant stability to the mind/ Manas with time. Ajnya आज्ञा is a Sanskrit word which means authority, unlimited power, command, to order, rule, to grant permission, to perceive, principal, assurance etc. Your lower 5 chakras are controlled by the Ajnya chakra in ever way possible. So when you focus on your Ajnya chakra and do your Dhyan, you power it here. Then the Ajnya chakra automatically distributes the power generated to the lower chakras as per requirement in the gentlest and safest manner. The lower chakras then distribute it in their associated nadis. So the entire energy body benefits.

Some people have this misconception that while doing Dhyan, the focus should shift, ie they focus on each one of the lower chakras in sequence, up and down the back! This is not how it works. Such a practice creates instability in the mind and causes jerks in the flow of pran in the nadi/ chakras which ultimately damages them. If you do this up and down thing or focus on specific lower chakras while doing your 108 breath/mantra combo, there is a clear danger of overloading the lower chakra and causing its associated nadis to fry. Always focus on the Ajnya chakra for your Dhyan and not on the lower chakras.

(You can do focussed chakra healing. This is different from Dhyan. I have written on doing the chakra healing in this post here.)

Then there is a particular Dhyan method given in the Vidnyan Bhairav tantra where you focus only on the Brahmarandhra for the 108 breaths. But do not do this unless your Sat-Guru sits before you physically and guides you while you are doing it. Else you can mess up your nadi/chakra system so badly that you might not only kill yourself, but also spend the next few lives insane recovering from the damage. This is a very intense method taken up by Sanyasis who have formally left the material world. It is not for householders like us.

Temples in India where I have been to

Dhyan is not ‘mediation’, you do not relax when you do Dhyan. You do not float up in dreamy clouds as shown in popular culture. What you are doing is very actively and intentionally manipulating the Pran in your Nadi/Chakra system. Pushing more and more pure Pran into your energy body, the pran-mai-kosh. Doing Dhyan is the same as fighting the War of Kurukshetra within, it is called Karma-yog and the entire Bhagwat Gita talks about this internal war.

So do not experiment, be very alert, focus your attention at your third eye, do your 108 mantra/breath combo. And do your practice regularly.

Next is how to ‘look’ at the Ajnya chakra. If you have noted, I always use apostrophes around the word ‘look’ like ‘look’ at your Ajnya chakra. This means that you are supposed to inwardly focus your attention at your third eye. You are not supposed to roll your eyeballs up and try to physically look at the middle of your forehead! If you do this, you will get eye-strain and create problems for yourself. So imagine that you are sitting on a mountain and looking straight at the far horizon. Your physical eyes have to remain straight, relaxed and unfocussed. Do not force your eyes to go cross eyed or roll them up or squint, scrunch your eyes or anything. If you think your eyeballs are rolling up, bring them back down gently. Do not strain your eye muscles. Dhyan is an internal thing, your physical eyes are nowhere in the picture. People who are blind or do not have physical eyes also do Dhyan as it has nothing to do with the physical eyes.

Soham, Sushumna Yog and the Sat-guru

And its a two step process.

I have stressed in all my posts that you should do your 108 breaths with your mantra as a first step. Then sit for some more time in the same pose, ideally for 30mins at least. This second part is an important part, do not skip this. You have trained your mind with your 108 breaths and now you have to immediately test it. Has your mind learnt to focus? Has it absorbed the efforts of your 108 breaths? In this second phase think of nothing. The mind has to be blank. You are enjoying the energy of your 108 Mantra-breaths, the mind cannot be allowed to interfere in this. The mind cannot think anything, not even your Dhyan-mantra. It is a truly delightful phase as the constant whirring of your mind slows/ stills and you are refreshed from the inside. You are brought to the possible state of internal health and happiness. You absorb pure pran while you do Dhyan, and this refreshes you more than the sleep, Swapna and Sushupti states.

Also you will see visions from your past lives, future events, your deity may give you a Darshan, bursts of color, white lights, geometric stuff, sounds, anything. You might see things which might make you emotional, secret stuff might be told to you etc. Just observe and let it go. Do not let the mind start working while you are enjoying this part two. This part two will test how well you did in your part one of the Dhyan process.

Advaita 18-66 Bhagvat Gita Part-1

Now which mantra to use.

I stress on the Ajapa mantras, Soham/ Hamsa or the pure OM, as these are naturally embedded within every breath you take. These are the easiest, most natural, the most powerful yet the gentlest mantra which you can do while a living householders life. If you can do a proper Dhyan twice a day it would be great. But even if you cannot find the time you can mentally recite these with your breath at any time, eg while travelling etc. as even this helps. Convert every breath you take into Soham/ Hamsa/ Om and you will realise the Eternal.

But if you wish, you can do Dhyan on the following mantras. (I do not use them as I feel it unnecessarily complicates the process. I prefer the pure energy of the two Ajapa mantras Soham/Hamsa or OM.)

  • Om Brahmane namah
  • Om namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
  • Om namah Shivaya
  • Or you can choose the Gayatri mantra as your Dhyan-mantra.

If you want to use any other mantra, then its your wish. But be very careful, choose a Vedic mantra linked to the Saumya gentle form of your adored deity. Do not choose mantras of the Ugra terrifying forms. Best stick to the well-known mantras. If you focus with something incorrect, you will damage your Nadi/ Chakra system. Damage here not only affects the immediate present but also the future lives. (I had written somewhere about a woman who was doing Dhyan using some ‘brzeee’ mantra and causing harm to herself and the people around her.)

If you choose a longer mantra, then you should recite the complete mantra once with every inhalation and once with every exhalation. Example, if you choose the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ you have to recite it once completely as you inhale and recite it again completely as you exhale. Do this for the usual 108 breaths. Obviously one inhalation and one exhalation is one breath.

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The mantra can change sometimes spontaneously. Ultimately all Dhyan-mantra will merge into OM.

While you do your Dhyan-mantra with the 108 breathes, you are training your mind with it. Mantra means ‘manah tarayati iti ‘, ie the mantra is used to save, entrain, clean, enlighten etc, the mind. So naturally the mantra is of use as long as the mind is still whirring out of control. Once you achieve the unmani-avastha, ie the mind becomes still, the mantra will change its form and purpose.

Or if you are doing a longer mantra then as you reach the seed of the manifested it will convert to the Ajapa mantras or directly to the OM. Every mantra has a specific level of energy, once you have absorbed it all, it will change its form. This mantra changing thing is not really relevant if you are using one of these three, Soham/ Hamsa/ Om mantras. These three will take you to the highest Advaita as they are at the very deepest creation point of the manifested Universe. Once you have absorbed their immensity only the Self remains. This is the reason why I suggest you choose any of these three as your Dhyan-mantra. These are the fast-tracks, they work at the very core of your existence. 

Ultimately all the Mantras merge into OM. Then as you pierce the Bindu that OM is, you reach the undefinable indescribable Advaita. 

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Outer forms of pujas, pilgrimages, satsangs are all junior school. Dhyan is senior school. What is desired is the Eternal Advaita.

Suppose you have hurt your legs and cannot walk properly, and have to use a crutch. The crutch is essential but you do not love it nor do you wish to use it forever. You wish your legs get well so that you can walk without support. Similarly the practice is a crutch, you are going to need it as long as your mind misbehaves. But you cannot get attached to the crutch. You should study your mantra, check out how you can use it most effectively, maintain it, respect it, learn about its functions etc get the most use out of it. Use it. Be dispassionate about your practice. Your mantra is a tool, you have to use it. It will get you till a point in your journey, but after its work is done later you will discard it. 

Another way of looking at it is this. In your journey, you travel in a boat, then go in a bus, travel in a plane and then trek a bit depending on the route. You keep on changing your mode of transport, you do not remain attached to the boat or the bus you travel in. The boat-ride is not your objective. Yes, the boat helps you travel a particular stretch of your route but once that stretch is over you change your mode of transport. You are not attached to the route you travel nor the act of travelling. Neither the journey or the route or the vehicle is your final objective. Will you keep sitting in the car when you reach home? You get out of it and enter your house.

Your final destination is what inspires you. Rest of it, the route and the vehicle, just is, it is incidental. Your deepest desire is to get to Your Self, this is the source of your faith.

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And finally even if you are just learning astrology do you need to do Dhyan in the first place?

Yes, you have to. Astrology is actually Jyotish, the science of the internal illumination. It is a Veg-Ang, it is connected to the Ved, it is a part of Sanatan Dharma aka Hinduism. And it is a Vidya. Vidya is a science which studies conscious intelligence. You cannot learn a Vidya unless you are connected to the Advaita within your own self. I remember when I was a child, about 5yrs old, my Dad made me learn the Ganapati Atharvasheersha. Only then did I start on the Nakshatra, the Graha and the Rashis of Jyotish. So if you want to become an exceptional Jyotishi you must power yourself with these 108 breaths + Dhyan-mantra. 

So do your Soham or Hamsa or Om with every breath you take. Choose one of these and practice regularly. And if you have time for yourself, do your Dhyan at least once a day. It will heal you at the core of your being and eventually give you Eternal Happiness.

Venus and Jupiter in opposition

Ramayan, Hanuman and Sundarkand

The Ramayan and the Mahabharat are the two Itihas, a narration of historical events coupled with the deepest philosophy.

The Mahabharat also contains the Yogshastra Bhagvat Gita, which is a step by step guideline to what you deeply desire. In the Ramayan there is the Aditya Hrudaya stotra which in my opinion is the highly condensed ‘Gita’ of the Ramayan. If you are on the spiritual path, you must listen/ recite this once in a while.

There was a question on the Sundar kand so writing a detailed post on it.

The original Ramayan written by Rishi Valmiki is in Sanskrit  (Devbhasha Samskrutam) and ends with the coronation of Shri Ram. Ramayan means Ramasya ayanah iti Ramayan. It talks about the travels of Ram. It ends when the Rajya-abhishek of Ram as the King of Ayodhya ie Ram’s travels end with this event. The coronation is on the first day of the new year Chaitra Shukla pratipada. The death of Ravan, the King of Lanka, occurs on the last day of the year on Falgun Amavasya. Ram travels back to Ayodhya immediately after Ravan’s death in the Pushpak viman and is immediately crowned King of Ayodhya. The Ramayan ends here.

There are 6 main sections/ Kaand in the original Ramayan.

  • Bala kand has the part of the birth of the main characters and their childhood is described. (It has some interjected stories which were added later and not connected to the main story.)
  • Ayodhya kand – the princes live in Ayodhya, grow up, get married etc.
  • Aranya kand – the first part of the exile of Ram, Sita and Laxman.
  • Kishkindha Kand – Ram and Laxman interact with the Vanars of the kingdom of Kishkindha
  • Sundar kand – Hanuman realises Himself. This section is exclusively related to the activities of Hanuman.
  • Yuddha kand – describes the war between Sri Ram and Ravan, the King of Lanka. Ravan is killed at the end of the war. This section ends with the coronation of Ram as per Rishi Valmiki’s original text. The Ramayan ends with the coronation of Shri Ram as the King of Ayodhya.

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Now about Hanuman. His other equally popular name is Maruti. Maruti indicates his connection to the breath, wind, storms, war, divinity, movement, power, etc.

Maruti has several other names, Anjaneya, Kapish, Vajradehi, Kalanabha, Chiranjeevi, Manojava, Jitendreya, Vatatmaja, Vanar-yuth-mukhya, Ram-doot, Pavan-putra, etc. And because these are all Sanskrit words, each describes some trait of his. To understand the real meaning of Sanskrit words, you have to add intention and the energy of the Akshar. So Maruti is the son of Anjana, the one who was hit on his chin, the king of everything that moves, his body is tougher than lighting, indestructible, the navel of time, the one who exists forever, he is produced by the Mind/Manas, the one who conquers the organs of sense/action, the one concealed in the pran, the leader of the other-dimensional intelligence, the messenger of the ultimate happiness, etc.

Maruti is a ‘Vanar’, this word does not mean a monkey. In Sanskrit, ‘Markat’ is the animal ‘monkey’. So saying that Hanuman was/ is a ‘monkey’ is extremely offensive and demeaning. Vanar is ‘Vansaya narah iti Vanarah’. The ‘Nar’ who are of the ‘Van’. Nar are a class of beings like the Yaksha, Kinnar, Gandharva etc. ‘Van’ is the forest, distant lands, other dimensions, running water, sun-ray, vehicle, residence, desires, abundance etc. A Vanar can be understood as a being from the other dimensions as the simplest meaning. Our human body is composed of all the 5 panchabhoot, Akash, Vayu, Agni, Aap, Pruthvi. The other dimensional beings have other types of bodies composed of differing proportions of the mahabhoot, eg Yaksha have bodies composed of only Akash, Vayu and Agni.

The Ramayan is also a guidebook to self realization. Ravan the anti-hero is an embodiment of the ego, the tremendous and discordant vibrations created by a sense of personal-ego. (In the Mahabharat this role is fulfilled by Duryodhan, ‘the one who is extremely difficult to defeat’.) If you follow the Ramayan as your guide, you will see your self-ego as Ravan in the very last confrontation when you are finally required to destroy it in the highest stages of Dhyan.

So, in all this, who or what is Hanuman?

He is the embodiment of pran, the vital energy flowing in the energy channels/nadi of your pran-mai-kosh body layer. He is also called the Mukhya Pran devata. The energy of the seed of the vital energy. There are 5 different main types of pran, the panch-pran. Pran, Apan, Vyan, Saman, Udaan. Maruti is the combined conscious intelligence of the Panch-pran. You might have seen some images of Hanuman with 5 terrible faces. Now if you do your Dhyan sincerely there will come a time when you will see these the conscious energies of these 5 main types of pran and yes they are very Ugra, terrible and terrifying. The power of pran blasting in your nadis and in the universe around can indeed be terrifying, so you have to do your spiritual practice to prepare yourself.

The objective of every spiritual aspirant is basically to control the movement of pran consciously. To be able to shut down its movements in the rest of the body and to drive it into the Brahmanadi within the Sushumna. Then to guide it with infinite precision through the chakras till it reaches the top. This movement of pran in the Brahmanadi ‘cleans’ it, makes it through so that when the Kundalini starts moving, it can simply move from the Mooladhar chakra to the central Bindu with the Sahsarar chakra in one smooth sweep. This movement of the Kundalini grants Moksh in one stroke.

So to be able to control the pran, you must absorb the energy of Maruti. He is of supreme importance in spiritual practice. Unless you are able to control the pran/ vital energy flowing in your nadi/ energy channels, you cannot get anywhere.

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Now the question I was asked was on doing a Parayan of the Sundar kand.

The Sundar kand is that part of the Ramayan where Hanuman realises his power. He goes through several experiences and events which makes him aware of his reality. This is the reason why doing a Parayan of this section is very helpful. ‘Parayan’ पारायणं is reciting mantras with intention, absorbing the energies completely. The Ramayan is an esoteric text and each verse/ shlok is a mantra. So if you recite the Sundar kand with the intention that you gain the blessing of Maruti you will get it. You will gain the ability to control the pran, so this parayan will benefit the spiritual aspirant. This will also regulate the movement of the pran and bring it to the best possible levels. So if you are ill, or under mental stress, or suffering from negativity, evil eye energy, nightmares, psychic attacks, impending danger etc, all this will be removed. On the material levels too, power, courage, health, ability to win, destroying enemies, finding what you want, success, emotional stability, strength, peace of mind etc will be granted.

Doing the Sundar kand Parayan.

The original Valmiki Ramayan, the Sundar kand is 68 chapters long and is extremely powerful. Sundar kand parayan is an Anushtan, a powerful practice to use the mantra. Ideally a Brahmin is required as there is a specific way of reciting the shloks. But if you wish to do it on your own, this is the basic minimum you should do. The easiest method is this,

  • You start on any any auspicious day. (post here)
  • Get a small image of the deities or a photo. Set it on a small wooden altar in front of you.
  • You will sit on your Asan facing either the north or east direction. And obviously facing the deities image.
  • Begin with a small puja of Shri Ram and Devi Sita. Then do a puja of Maruti. Here you can offer flowers, saffron, sandal-wood, turmeric, incense, light a lamp, do an arti with camphor etc as per what is available in your house.
  • You can blow the Shankh thrice if you have it. Or sprinkle the Ganga water if you have it. Or at least visualise golden/silver aura around you, feel the kindness of the deities surrounding you in a loving cocoon. Recite ‘Jai Shri Ram’, while you are setting up all this.
  • You have to keep a sweet dish/ Naivedya for the deities. Panchamrut is mixing some milk, curd, honey, sugar (khadi-sakhar) and desi cow ghee. Or keep 5 types of fruits. Or 5 pieces of dry fruits, almonds, cashew, dried grapes, dry coconut, apricots, figs etc with some jaggery/sugar. Keep this Naivedya in a silver or glass bowl. (Never use iron/ steel in any form in your pujas.) 
  • Then speak aloud to the deities and tell them briefly why you are doing this parayan. eg for getting well from an illness, for resolution of disputes, or spiritual growth, or just because you love them. This is the Sankalp, the intention, so take a few drops of water in your right palm and drop it to the ground after you finish speaking.
  • Also request that they help you complete the parayan and protect you while this is going on. This request for protection is necessary. As you progress in your parayan, you will accumulate positive energy, your aura will glow like the Sun. Then the souls/entities roaming around trapped in our dimension will come to you and request you to use this energy to set them free. This can manifest as actual problems eg falling ill, or some unexpected event which makes you break the parayan.
  • There are 68 chapters in the Sundar-kand. Ideally you should read it all in one sitting but this is not possible for regular people. So try to recite 6 chapters daily for 11days and finish the remaining 2 chapters on the 12th day. (I think this is a reasonable time frame in which you can manage)
  • The small puja and sweet dish/ naivedya has to be offered on every day you do your parayan. After you finish for the day, eat the sweet dish as a Prasad or distribute it among your close family members.
  • After you finish on the 12th day, thank the deities for the love they have showered on you. Then do a Dhyan, Soham (Sushumna yog) 108 times, relax your mind and absorb the energy of the Sundar kand parayan into yourself.

This is the simplest way you can do your Sundar kand parayan.

Ramayan, Hanuman and Sundarkand

Now the other part of the question which was asked to me.

The actual Ramayan has been simplified and abbreviated into other languages over these thousands of years. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states of India, the commonly used ‘Ramcharitmanas’ is a version in the local dialect called Avadhi. It was written by Tulsidas a few hundred years ago. This version is written in very typical old time language and is a highly abbreviated form of the original Ramayan.

The Sundarkand in the original Valmiki Ramayan is 68 chapters long and in this ‘Ramcharitmanas’ it is a mere 63 verses. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, people think that reading these 63 verses in Avadhi is ‘Sundar kand parayan’. It is not. But then faith and intention is important so even if you recite these 63 verses in Avadhi you will get some benefit. But to answer your question, this is not Sundar kand parayan.

The actual Sundar kand parayan is reciting the 68 Chapters of the original Ramayan written by Rishi Valmiki in Sanskrit.

Sanskrit is the Devbhasha Samskrutam, the words cannot be translated and each word is a mantra, the Shabda-Brahma, the divine Intelligence manifested in perfection. You can try doing the parayan yourself in the highly simplified method as per what I have written above, or you can get it done through a proper Brahmin pandit for the maximum auspicious effects and positive results.

Jai Sri Ram ..

 

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Edit : I got a comment that what should someone do if cannot read Sanskrit? So here is a youtube link to the entire 68 sarga of the Sundarkand. Some kind soul has recited it beautifully in Sanskrit. So listen to it and try to follow what is being recited in your book.
Also buy a book with the Sanskrit text of the Sundarkand. Gita press has the Ramayan in Sanskrit with the Hindi translation. The book is priced at very very affordable rates. And now you may have to do fewer sarga per day depending on the recitation time/ sarga. So your parayan might continue for more days. During this Parayan period you should avoid non-veg, alcohol etc and live a satvik life style to derive the max auspicious benefits. (And later give yourself 10mins daily to learn some Sanskrit at least. It is our mother tongue, post here.)

The Darshan Sashtra in Sanatan Dharma

As students of philosophy already know, there are 6 thought processes with which the Eternal can be visualised. These 6 philosophies are the Darshan दर्शन shastra शास्त्र.

  • Darshan means seeing, knowing, opinion, discernment, examination, observation, vision, experience, presence, intention, appearance, dream, prescience, aspect, contemplation.
  • Shastra means instruction, teaching, book, treatise, manual, discipline, rules, advise, science, direction, art, etc.

The 6 Darshan Shastra based on the Ved and are,

  1. Poorva Mimansa Sashtra by Rishi Jaimini
  2. Nyaya Shastra by Rishi Gautam
  3. Vaisheshika Sashtra by Rishi Kanad
  4. Sankhya Shastra by Rishi Kapil
  5. Yog Shastra by Rishi Patanjali
  6. Uttar Mimansa Sashtra by Rishi Vyas aka Badrayana

Darshan shastra is an advice or a direction which you should follow in order to experience, observe, know, see, contemplate… but what? What should you be observing? These Darshan Shastra are of the Sanatan Dharma, so you observe the only real thing possible. The only Reality. And this is Your Own Self. You are the only real thing in your universe. You are required to experience your Self because there Is nothing else but You. You are Everything. These six Darshan shastra are a way of first intellectually understanding and then experiencing your own self. They all take you to Moksh.

You are the non-Dual, the Advaita, the Nirvishesh Brahma. The intelligence which cannot be described in the words of these created universes. You are the Parabrahma, the beyond awareness, the highest consciousness. But you carry a baggage of karma and start thinking yourself as Amit, Priya, Rajesh and Mihir. This is Maya. The 6 Darshan shastra are tools in your hands, you use these to know yourself again as the Advaita. You are beyond this illusion of creation, you are the Creator, the Eternal. But what you observe depends on your ability to contemplate, to remain still. If you train yourself to see even deeper into your self, you will experience even subtler aspects of your immense self. The most pin-point focus will finally allow you to know yourself in your entirety. The Darshan shastra are guidebooks which guide you to yourself.

The Darshan Sashtra in Sanatan Dharma

Maya is everything that surrounds the Atma/ soul, and tries to keep it unaware of its true reality. Ma-not, Ya-this, so Maya means ‘not this’. But what it actually is, cannot be described. So Maya cannot be proved to be neither an illusion nor a reality. The Mind is an agent of Maya, very highly changeable and highly skilled at creating illusions.

  • A very simple example. I get a phone call. I hear only a voice. The mind takes over, identifies the voice as my brother’s, adds his face, form, his room etc in my imagination. Triggers the love I feel for him and makes me feel as if he is right in front of me. The only thing actually there is a voice in my ear. My mind used this information and worked like crazy to create an illusion for me. I experienced the entire package of ‘brother’ from just a voice over the phone.

This is Maya at work. Most of us are exclusively into experiencing Maya. The Darshan shastra help the spiritual aspirant glean the atom of the real Self around which Maya has enveloped itself. Every Darshan Shastra discusses Maya in some way or the other. And how to ignore its charms and focus on the real Self.

Not everyone is qualified to be a spiritual aspirant. Some souls are more into enjoying the game of creation as per the soul evolution level. A spiritual aspirant is qualified by two essential qualities Vivek and Vairagya.

  • Vivek is the Discerning Intelligence. The ability to focus on the root of the matter. It is the incisive sharpness which can get to the innermost core.
  • Vairagya is the ability to decisively discard everything which is interfering with the Vivek.

Vivek and Vairagya work in tandem, you need both to achieve higher levels of spiritual progress. As you progress, these two qualities also get more refined. Only when you have the intelligence to focus on the real Self and discard every illusory thing, do you gain the Self.

The Darshan Sashtra in Sanatan Dharma

All Darshan shastra teach you to know the constant yourself and to ignore the changing illusions of the created worlds. Now what is ‘constant’ and what ‘changes’? A couple of very simplistic examples,

  • Eg. Your eyes are open, you see the room you are in. The pink walls, the blue curtains. Now you close your eyes, the room vanishes. Was this room ‘real’? Or was the room just an experience, dependant on the physical sense organs?
  • Eg. You have been deaf from birth. You do not know how music sounds like because you does not have the ability to experience it. You think that music is just some words and notations which you can read. But then modern medicine helps you hear with your physical ears. You gain the ability to hear music, classical, raga, blues, reggae, country, all of it. You revise your earlier view and now say that music sounds are ‘real’ not just words. Your frame of reference has changed because you gained the ability to experience.
  • You do not believe in Siddhi-s, you are very ‘rational’ and ‘logical’. Then one day your Uncle decides to give you a demo and sitting next to you in the sitting room, drinks all the milk kept in the fridge in the kitchen. (My Uncle actually did this, I was in my early teens. He just kept on drinking from his glass and the milk kept in the fridge vanished.) 

In all these examples ‘you’ are the same. The experiences varied depending on the conditions. And the conditions were also changing. But this ‘one self’ who was experiencing was unchanging. The 6 darshan shastra help you to experience this, your unchanging ’one self’.

Each Rishi has expounded his hypothesis, the analysis and logic on the nature of existence, the nature of the created worlds, the nature of the soul and the nature of the Eternal Intelligence. Each Darshan Shastra has its own method of deriving things. But common to all these six, is that the Eternal is the Advaita, non-dual, indescribable, unfathomable, attribute-less, observer etc. Each one of these six philosophies give different analysis but in the end their objective is the same. ‘To Be’. Moksh.

Most importantly, each of these six are not complete in themselves. They are not self-contained thought systems. Their scope and purpose is the describe the Eternal Intelligence.

  • Eg. Suppose the objective is to describe an elephant. I start by describing its head. Someone might start by describing its tail first. Yet another might start with his feet. A fourth person starts by describing its anatomy. Finally someone will say that it is a conscious animal, ie talk about its energy.

All the six Darshan Shastra mutually supplement each other. Singly they are neither final nor complete. They are meant for different groups of people who start at different levels of mental and spiritual levels of understanding. All the Darshan Shastra are based on the Ved so they are all describe the Advaita.

The Darshan Sashtra in Sanatan Dharma

Poorva-Mimansa is more concerned with how to live a morally and ethically correct life. This is from where the philosophical evolution begins. To perform ones duties, to take up responsibilities regarding the personal self, the family, society etc. On the spiritual levels, to gain auspicious merit /punya, through personal self-sacrifice and also religious practices involving the society, like public yadnyas etc. Worshipping the moorti of gods and deities, going for pilgrimages, doing charity etc. But this is not blindly following rituals etc. It is understanding the value and power of the the mantra/ pujas and their link to intention and energy of the deepest sort. You can perform anything and everything if you know the correct mantra and the correct way of using the mantra. This can be as simple as getting a job to achieving Moksh.

A practical approach is emphasised here. This certainly does not mean that Rishi Jaimini was unaware of the Advaita, he was a Rishi, ie a self-realised Seer. This Shastra is more designed for householders who have to perform a duty towards mankind in general. Those who have started to understand the essence of truth and are working with the practical aspects of using it in the material life.

I consider this to be the first stage on the spiritual path. You realise that there is something beyond the material. You start using energy to influence the material. You see the practical effects. This is your first step in understanding the pure energy that you really are. And remember that spiritual progress is carried over from several lives. Someone at the Uttar-Mimansa stage has already gone through all the previous stages of understanding and expansion of the consciousness in his very many past lives.

If the Nyaya Shastra stops at the concept of atoms it does not mean that Rishi Gautam was unaware of the Advaita. He was a Rishi, he was a Jivan-mukt. He clearly states that the soul is different from the material and then goes on to describe the material with all sorts of hypothesis and evidences. But with Nyaya he is addressing those students whose interest and level of understanding is on the basic levels. He talks about logic, proofs, calculations, hypothesis etc. Something like our current idea of maths, algebra, logic, probability, calculus, geometry, quantum physics, etc, technical subjects which require a significant level of understanding and intelligence. To create a hypothesis and then to write proofs which prove or disprove this hypothesis. Logic and reasoning is used to pick out the valid from the invalid. Nyaya is how debates on the logical level are arranged so that both the proponent and the opponent gain true understanding on the highest intellectual planes.

Vaisheshika Sashtra is an extension of the Nyaya, where every subject is broken down to its roots. The transition of the material worlds into the invisible atomic and sub-atomic particles and the laws which govern these is the basic idea of the Vaisheshika shastra. ‘Atoms’ in Vaisheshika are not the atoms of physics, these are the Param-anu, these are the basic constituents of the pancha-mahabhoot. Then the nature of the individual soul, time, space, directions etc is elaborated. The Shastra is very deep as the constituents of every thing imaginable, from color, taste, mind, tendencies etc are now discussed. Here the concept of reality is narrowed down even further. The ‘proof’ of reality is pruned down even further. Creation is broken down into even more subtler bits, we reach the roots of ‘energy+intention’. We consider tangible and non-tangible subjects, like senses, tendencies, karma and impressions in depth.

(It is very interesting to go through the concepts of Nyaya and Vaisheshika shastra, our Rishi’s were so comprehensive, they have left out nothing. All our so-called modern knowledge and theory have already been elaborated by the Rishis. But we have forgotten to read our actual mother tongue Sanskrit, so rarely does anyone go through these books.)

The Darshan Sashtra in Sanatan Dharma

Till now, we studied the nature of the manifested creation, its rules and laws. Both Nyaya and Vaisheshka elaborate at the level of the individual soul, ie the Jiv-atma ie the ‘soul+karmic baggage’. If the student has understood this much then he can go onward to the next study course, Sankhya.

The Sankhya. Sankhya starts where Vaisheshika leaves off explaining. Sankhya takes you from the level of the manifested creation and takes you to the unmanifested creation. Most people who read cursorily on this philosophy, take away an erroneous idea that it advocates duality as Sankhya is more popularly linked to the Purush-Prakruti duality. Just because the Sankhya Shastra elaborates more on the Purush-Prakruti concept it does not mean that Rishi Kapil had not realised the Advaita. The concept of Advaita is evident in the first principle of Sankhya ie ‘Sat karya siddhant’. So understand this concept in depth before jumping into the middle of it.

(‘Sat karya siddhant’ is the basic principle of all Darshan Shastra. It explains how things or energy or intention or anything transforms from one form to another. This transformation is only as deep as your ability to perceive the change. At the deepest levels you realise that there is essentially no change.)

The source of everything is called ‘Pradhana’ in Sankhya, ie the most important, the primal energy, this is Non-dual. The Advaita first creates duality by creating individual souls/ jivatma. Further duality is created, this is called the Purush-Prakruti duo. Then Sankhya then takes us onward into the Purush-Prakruti. Describes the qualities of the Purush who is the catalyst or the pivot. Then into the 24 tattvas of the Prakruti, her three Gun. Rishi Kapil explores in fascinating depth how an apparent duality is created from a Non-Dual Pradhana. Then goes on to describe the Prakruti in an ultra-incisive logic. If you do your puja of the Shri Yantra/ Meru sincerely you will actually experience this in your Sadhana. Sankhya elaborates in depth upto the Purush-Prakruti duality.

Yog Shastra follows Sankhya. And it is very crisp, lucid. One good book in English is the commentary on the Patanjali Yog sutra by Swami Vivekananda.

  • Yog योग means connection, union, total, gain, efforts, action, opportunity, meditation, seeking the divine, method, use, yoking, fitting together, discipline, wealth, attention, sum, remedy, property, application of intention, harnessing.

Your spiritual practice in Sankhya allowed you to understand the Purush-Prakruti duality, ie all forms of duality and appreciate the underlying non-duality in everything. But now you have to also experience this state of awareness.

For this you have to perform Yog Sadhana. The fundamental premise of Yog Shastra is clear in the first line itself. ‘Yogah chitta vrutti nirodahah’. This means the ‘Yog’ is the destruction of the tendencies/ vrutti of the lower intelligence/ chitta (Chitta is a part of the Mind). There is only one Desire of your soul, ie to realise itself. The rest of the desires connected to the creation are illusory, so when they are silenced the innermost Desire is expressed and immediately fulfilled. So the Yog-shastra also leads to self-realisation ie the Advaita. The rest of the Yog shastra describes how these tendencies are to be destroyed and what will be the outcome etc. ie control of the Mind, the Ashtang Yog etc. If you do these properly you will reach the Samadhi stage. The process described in the first part of the Amrit Sukta occurs here. Bhagvat Gita is a Yog Shastra.

Here you are putting into practice the concepts described in Sankhya and preparing yourself for the leap of consciousnesses which will come with the understanding of the last Darshan shastra, the Uttar Mimansa.

Uttar Mimansa is also called the Vedant. The primary book is the Brahma-Sutra. The first line is very clear. ‘Athaato Brahmajinyasa’. So this study is meant only for those aspirants who are desirous and capable of understanding the Brahma, the Eternal Intelligence. A person starting on his studies cannot jump into the PhD level stuff, first school and college are necessary. ‘Atha’ means that it is not a new subject, it builds on the understanding which the student has already developed in his earlier studies on the Ved. He must be able to discriminate between the constant/ changeable. Must have developed indifference to the enjoyment/ endurance of Karma. Must be dissociated from the objects/ organs/ desires related to the senses/ actions. And most important, he must have an intense desire to Know the Self. If the student is nor clear on this then just reading the Brahma-sutra is not going to do anything for him. .

Uttar Mimansa culminates with you attaining Sadyo Mukti, ie you realise yourself as the Advaita.

The Darshan Sashtra in Sanatan Dharma

If you analyse, the Six Shastra’s are going in progressively deeper inwards. From the obligations that a householder has towards mankind and using energy to help fulfil these. To a detailed description of the material manifestation till the atomic and sub-atomic levels. The energy of the non-material part of the manifested creation. ie the essence of creation in terms of energy. Yog is where you train yourself to look beyond the material stuff around you and enter in the realm of pure energy and intention. Uttar Mimansa is the apex of the intellectual appreciation of the Self. The core of the Ved, the Advaita, is expounded here in great detail.

I chanced upon a commentary by Rishi Vyas on the Samkhya Pravachan Sutra which is written by Rishi Patanjali. Though these three Darshan Shastra, Yog, Sankhya, Uttar Mimansa discuss on the different aspects of the Advaita, they are essentially interconnected, as they are focussed on the energy and intention aspects rather than the material ones. Read the Bhagvat Gita, Vidnyan Bhairav Tantra and the Brahma Sutra together and you will understand what I mean here.

All Darshan shastra insist that the spiritual aspirant has to turn himself into a Sakshi, a witness, observer, catalyst, the pivot, within everything yet not connected to anything. Existence is perception. As you perceive, so do you exist.

These 6 Darshan Shastra were taught as full-fledged subjects in our ancient Universities like Nalanda and Takshashila. You cannot expect to understand them all in one go in one life. These are not just the words, these are Experiences. Poorva Mimansa is when you use your mantra to make things happen. Unless you actually see the atoms of your body separate, whirl around and again reassemble to create your material body again you cannot say that you have understood Nyaya and Vaisheshikha. Sankhya is when you see the stupendous Shri-Chakra whirling in infinite dimensions about a single Bindu, inside you. Yog is when you see your Kundalini move upwards and reach the Bindu within the Sahasrara. And Uttar Mimansa is the final culmination in Self-Realisation.

Ultimately whichever system you follow, whatever philosophy you subscribe to, you are following the Ved. Do your Sadhana as per your choice, you will reach the Advaita. You will enter Samadhi and your energy of self-identification, ie Kundalini will reach the center of the Sahasrara chakra and at the Bindu will merge into the Non-Dual. So follow whichever system which appeals to your thought process but do the practice regularly. You cannot experience the philosophy if you only read it through, you must practice. There is no other way to self-realisation except regular Sadhana.

(There was a question, so I have tried to reduce this highly intellectually demanding topic to a post. And it has become an exceptionally long post.. )

The Darshan Sashtra in Sanatan Dharma

Focused spiritual practice and desire for Moksh

There was a question from someone, he was quite agitated because he was unable to focus when he was doing his spiritual practice. Random thoughts were popping up in his mind, then his mind was following these thoughts. Soham, focus at the 3rd eye chakra and the awareness of the breath was all lost.

First, always remember, you are not the mind/ Manas. You are the Soul, Awareness, Consciousness, Eternal, Parabrahma, Advaita. The mind is simply one of the 24 tattvas of creation in the dominion of Prakruti. You and me are far far above the reach of Prakruti, but right now we are unaware of our own Reality. This entire exercise, spiritual practice, is to increase our awareness level to the subtlest possible. When you sit for meditation, Dhyan, also called Sushumna Yog, the Prakruti will test you. This test is the flightiness of the Mind/ Manas. This Manas will jump around like a monkey. And it will happen. You have to continue your Dhyan with these flights of the mind in the background.

Try to understand this so that you can resolve this and reach the Unmani avastha, ‘absence of mind’. Using simplistic examples so that it is quite clear,

Focused spiritual practice and desire for Moksh

The first way of looking at this,

Imagine you are sitting crosslegged on a mountain top and your 3yr old child is sitting in your lap. The top is a small area, say 5mX5m. Beyond this, all around you, is a sheer drop. You are sitting still, you want to enjoy the experience. And you are expecting that your child also remains still. If your child runs about, he will disturb your experience or even fall down the mountain. And your child is unwilling to sit still, he wriggles, tries to jump out from your lap. A couple of times he does manage to run out from your lap. But you are very alert, you grab him before he gets near the edge and make him sit still with you again. Your child wriggles but you hold him firmly. Ultimately he gets tired and stops moving. Then you show him the views from the mountain-top and then the child too enjoys the experience. Now onwards he is still.

This child is your mind. You are sitting for your Sadhana, your Dhyan, it is a very delicate balance, your position is precarious. You have to understand the seriousness of your practice and keep your mind in control. You are very alert about your child, if your own baby would fall down the mountain, it would be horrible. You are doing everything possible to avoid this disaster. You grab your child and keep it firmly in your lap again and again. So in the same way, you should, with the same terrible intensity, hold your mind in. Know that if you let your mind loose it can fall again to the depths and cause you pain. If it tries to run away, bring it back by force and make it sit still. There will always be attempts by the mind to run away. And it is possible that a few times it may totally fall down the mountain. But every experience is a learning. The mind will learn with time that falling down the mountain is painful. And you too will learn to keep your mind more firmly under control. Eventually there comes a point in Dhyan where your mind starts ‘enjoying the view’, ie starts supporting you in your practice. This is the annihilation of the mind, the Unmani avastha.

The secret is daily regular practice, you must give yourself these 30mins. As you get more deeply with yourself, these 30mins will expand to maybe 1hr and then perhaps to twice a day sessions. Then it will convert into a continuous process which will happen throughout the day/ night. This regular practice is called ‘Abhyas’ in Sanskrit. अभ्यास is – use, drill, addition, repetition, exercise, effort, multiplication, study, discipline etc. It is a very intensive thing that you do, when you sit for these 30mins daily. The toughest thing. But you start slowly and buildup, add-on, multiply, pyramiding the energies generated. It will take time, a few years, till you reach your destination, but you will reach, provided you do your exercise regularly.

Focused spiritual practice and desire for Moksh

Now another way of looking at it.

Suppose your brother has a bad habit, eg he smokes in the garage, You do not like this, you try to reason with him, try to make him understand that it is harmful but he does not listen. So one day you put in a camera in the garage and secretly record him smoking. Then play the clip in front of the family. Everyone, from your grand dad to your sister, stare at him in shock. He feels conscious that his bad habit was observed, ashamed even. He apologises and stops smoking.

So what you have to do is, simply observe the mind. It is beyond reasoning, it wants to behave irresponsibly. So let it smoke or do whatever it wants, you just keep on observing it, dispassionately. You are not your mind, you are the Soul. Let it behave like the fool it is. Dhyan is a very serious activity. While in meditation, is it proper to misbehave? Let the mind do whatever it wants, you just observe it. Soon it will become conscious, perhaps ‘ashamed’ and slowly but surely, it will stop its antics. The Mind becomes silent, serious and cooperates with you. This is again the unmani avastha, mind-less-ness.

Train yourself consciously to be an observer. You are the pivot around which creation dances. Bring your Self out of the whirling creation and remain at the unmoving center. Whatever happens around you, let it, you remain still.

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There is yet another way of looking at this. This thought process will also destroy the mind’s movement completely.

Suppose you are in a party, there is dancing and you are the DJ. Your job is to play the music here and you are quite good at this. A pretty girl tries to attract you. She deliberately comes in front of you, dances seductively, looks at you, smiles suggestively. She does this again and again. You are attracted at first, you want to respond, go and dance with her, enjoy. But if you do so, the music will stop and you might lose your job. So wiser sense prevails. Your life’s objective flashes before your eyes, it is very clear, you are to focus on your job, you are the DJ. And you focus completely on the music you are playing. She tries a few more times, dancing even more beautifully. But you are so much into your music, your life purpose, that her presence is irrelevant. She vanishes.

When you do your Dhyan, focus on what you are supposed to do. Soham Mantra, awareness of breath and focus at the 3rd eye-chakra. This is your music, focus on this exclusively. Let the Mind/ Manas perform its dance of the seven veils around you. Why should you even bother about it? Let it jump around. This is just the background noise of Prakruti, the illusion of creation, ignore it. Focus on what you want. If you are clear on what you want, there is no fight, no struggle. Ignoring everything else but what you really want is actually very easy. Just that there should be clarity of the concept within you. In other words maintain your focus on your objective always. Everything else is essentially meaningless.

Initially it is possible that you ignore the seductive Mind for a just few seconds. This is simply great, one has to start somewhere! A few minutes, a few hours and finally you will be able to ignore the Illusion around you always. This is the annihilation of the Mind, unmani avastha.

Unmani avastha is absence of Mind. The Mind is the tattva which creates the illusion of creation, frantically working to hide the gaps (do read this post). The Mind is convinced that the world is real and tries to convince you too. As long as you remain convinced by the illusions your Mind weaves around you, you are trapped. Once the Mind is still, you realise that the world around you is Unreal. Once you understand that something is a mirage, you cannot believe that lie anymore.

(A Sat-guru will exist in this “Sahaj avastha’ or Jivan-Mukti or Sadyo-Mukti, self-realization always. The Sat-Guru is the Advaita, The Beyond. ‘Dhyan’ is considered a lower medium level ‘madhyama avastha’. The worship of moorthis/ yantra is even lower down. And the lowest form of spiritual practice is going for pilgrimages. “उत्तमा सहजावस्था मध्यमा ध्यानधारणा । अधमा मूर्तिपूजा च तीर्थयात्राSधमाSधमा ।” But we all have to start somewhere, so start with pilgrimages, do pujas of Moorti/ Yantra/ Mantra etc, later do Dhyan, evolve. You will reach Mukti eventually. In the highest Moksh, Sadhana, Dhyan, puja, mantra etc all vanish as these are parts of the creation. You cannot expect that you will get Moksh the first day or even the first year of your spiritual practice. It is a gradual process, just do it regularly.)

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And finally, should you desire Moksh? If desire has to be uprooted, should one even desire Self-realization? This too was a burning doubt from someone. Apparently he was thinking that one should not desire anything, not even self-realization!

There is one only one Desire of the soul, to realise itself. This is the deepest innermost Desire of every jiv-atma. Every soul linked residing in this 5-layered body Desires just this only one thing. This singular Desire is the real Kaam काम. When sages talk about “uprooting desires” they refer to the superficial desires of the created worlds. Only when the material illusory desires are uprooted does the innermost Desire become evident. Kaam काम means wish, desire, Will, longing, radiance, glory, love, object of desire etc.

Another simplistic example.

Suppose you are a 3yr old playing with your toys. Your Dad is sitting in the same room doing some work. And you do have a lot of toys to play with, fluffy bears, trains, cars, cute stuff and you are quite occupied. You are not paying attention to your Dad. Your Dad does have an eye on you, but as long as you are playing with your toys, he is not bothered. Suddenly you feel bored with your toys. You feel that what you really want is to be picked up and cuddled. So you call out to your Dad. Your Dad is doing his work so rather than picking you up, he gives you some new shiny crayons. You again get distracted with the crayons, till you again realise that you really wanted to be cuddled. So you cry again. Again your Dad tries to distract you by pulling out another new toy. But you are not interested in toys anymore. You cry louder. Your Dad is really into his work and tries to ignore you for a bit. But now you have lost all patience and you want the cuddles now! You wail incessantly. Now Dad has no option but to pick you up and give you what you really want, cuddles.

This is the same thing in spiritual practice.

You are playing with the illusions of creation. The Eternal is observing you play. You are so engrossed with your material toys that you ignore the Advaita which exists at the root of your consciousness. Sometimes you do feel that you want to realise yourself, but another toy pops up and diverts your Will. Your this deepest Desire recedes to the background again and again. You amuse yourself with these illusory stuff till once day you get absolutely bored. The limit is crossed. Now you start your spiritual practice. You pray with all your heart that your deepest Desire, your essential Desire be granted. You ‘cry’ for the ‘cuddles’ of Self-realisation, you desperately long for Moksh. You are in unbearable turmoil, a fish out of water. You are desperate for complete self-realization. This Desire is so intense, you actually burn with its intensity. You have to Desire Moksh with all the intensity you can. Only then will the Advaita pick you up.

What does your Soul Desire? What is your Will? I wish to Love my own Self, I am my own object of Desire. Express this wish, again and again, intensely. You cannot be really satisfied till you get this Desire. Intend it, reach for it, Practice!

 

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Jagat Guru Adi Shankaracharya

Adi Shankaracharya is the Jagat-guru, the Guru of the entire Universe. Today, the Vaishakh Shukla Panchami, 5th day of the bright fortnight of the Vaishakh month, is celebrated as his birth anniversary. There is no clarity on when he actually lived in his physical form, but he is the essential Advaita Nirvishesh Brahma so life/death are meaningless words in his context.

I feel very deeply about him, Jagat Guru Adi Shankaracharya, he is the Sat-guru. He is the reason why I am able to, albeit dimly, understand the highest philosophy, Advaita and progress surely towards myself. The force/Guru which pulls me towards the Sat/Truth. ‘I am the Truth’, I wish to experience this realisation in its entirety.

Jagat Guru Adi Shankaracharya

His books and literary compositions are immense, voluminous, full of real enlightenment, Jnyan. Books include Vivek chudamani, Upadesha Sahastri etc. Commentaries include the first ever commentry on the Bhagvat Gita, ‘Bhagvat Gita Bhashyam’. The epic commentary on the Brahma-Sutras, on the several Upanishads etc. Several verses which describe the Eternal Advaita, eg Nirvan shatak and my very own favourite Brahma Jnyanavali mala. Verses in praise of the deities and Prakruti, ie Soundarya lahari, Kanakdhara Stotram etc. All his work is in Devbhasha Samskrutam, Sanskrit. These books are all translated into various languages and you will find them in bookshops near you if you wish to read.

Adi Shankaracharya established the temples at Badrinath for Vishnu, Kedarnath for Shiva and Gangoli Haat for Kalika (I have been at all these 3 temples, their power is unimaginable). He established several temples and Math-s all over India, he set up powerful Vigraha to protect the nation’s philosophic back-bone at several locations throughout Bharat. His Samadhi is at Kedarnath behind the Kedarnath temple. (if you are a follower of Sanatan Dharma, you should try to visit this Samadhi if you can travel physically.)

Adi Shankaracharya is the Sat-Guru of every single soul who desires to know himself in the real sense. If I desire Sadyo-mukti, I am requesting guidance from the Advaita none other. I am the Advaita yourself. That is why listening or reading his works is important, he writes with the authority of experience of the Self. When I listen to his upadesh/ teachings, I realise that I am listening to my own self. I am to realise My Self, so I will do it only when I listen to descriptions of myself. As I contemplate on myself, meditate on myself, bit by bit I remember myself. I become myself.

So I listen to the Brahma Jnyanavali Mala once a day.

A pdf with the text and a reasonably good translation Brahma Jnaanaavali Mala, there are 20 shloks/verses.

The first Shlok is this,
“asangah aham asangah aham asangah aham punah punah, sat chit anand rupah aham, aham evah aham avyayah”
Unattached am I, untouched am I, unconnected I am, ever and always. I am the truth, pure, eternal happiness. I am the only one. I am. I am indestructible, unchangeable.

And the last shlok is this

“antah jyotih bahir jyotih pratyak jyotih paratparah, jyotih jyotih, svayam jyotih Atma jyotih, Shivah asya aham”
I am the inner light. I am the outer light. I am the light within the light. The greatest light, higher than the highest light. I am self- luminous. I am the light of the ever-lit Self. I am the ever auspicious One.

In this short composition, Adi Shankaracharya, very succinctly, clearly unambiguously declares that ‘I am the Unchanging, I am’, in the strongest words possible. Even more than his ‘Nirvan Shatak’, the ‘Brahma Jnyanavali Mala’, resonates with indescribable power of the Advaita

This composition, is the essence of all philosophy in the simplest words. The power of these words in Sanskrit shakes me to the core, dissolving the Illusion of the creation that surrounds me. If I have time, I try to contemplate on every word in this Brahma Jnyanavali Mala. This will help me realise that I am the ‘Light’ the Advaita, and the power of this Light, Atma-Jyoti.

I am required to contemplate on the concept of ‘Aham sakshi’, ‘I am the Witness‘. Saying these words ‘Aham sakshi’ is rather easy, but bringing it in practice when I have the entrancing dance of creation before me is difficult. That is why I listen/read these words again and again. So that I gain the mental strength to continue focussing on what really matters, ‘Me’.

When I really desire to know myself, I feel an intense internal turmoil, just like a fish is breathless out of water. I know what I am deep within me, but the illusions of Prakruti, do not allow me to experience myself fully. Then appears the Sat-guru, the one who grants clarity, dissolves the illusions. When I give myself over to the power of the Guru, I do not get deeply caught in even more illusions of this world. He makes me realise that the ‘karma’ which I thought bound me is in fact insubstantial, imaginary, does not exist. At one point of time I used to think that I have this karmic pendency or that I owe this other person something. And unless I give it back or experience its negativity through, I won’t be free. I would think that I had to complete the karma I had created in my past lives etc. But nothing is complete in this incomplete illusionary world. So I disregarded this thought of ‘completing the karmic baggage’ and instead focused even more sincerely on ‘Me’. I am the only Reality. So best focus on Me. My one single mantra, my Soham. And as this got even more intense, these other ‘karmic ties’ evaporated as if they never existed over me. I experienced all of them in my dreams or during Dhyan, I died several times in my swapna-avastha, travelled astrally, did the work in the astral realms, let the astral body suffer, break down, get hurt, all the karma was experienced by this body.  Then my Guru repaired the bodies, while I did even more Dhyan. The only use of these bodies is to do Dhyan. So if you do your Dhyan, your so-called ‘pending karma’ will get resolved in dreams, like the dream they actually are. Whatever level of Karma may exist, it will be dissolved if you do your Dhyan systematically and regularly. (This is a bit difficult to understand if you do not do Dhyan. But if you do Dhyan, you will notice that you also are doing this same thing.)

You get deeper and more powerful glimpses of your own self as you focus on your self. There is only one thing which deserves your focus and this is your Own Self, none other. But then the created illusions, Maya, also tests you, so you need support from such verses, books, commentaries, which help you navigate thorough these tests. Use your Intelligence and the blessings of the Guru, and keep focussing intently on Your Own Self..

May you and me both realise that we are the Advaita, the Non-Dual, in the gentlest, happiest and kindest way possible.

Dedicated to the Lotus feet of the Jagat Guru Adi Shankaracharya, the Nirvishesh Brahma, the Advaita Himself in all gratitude and Shraddha/faith.

 

Kedarnath Palkhi

This is a photograph of the Palkhi, palaquin of the Kedarnath Mahadev taken yesterday. In the winter months the Moorthi of the deity comes to his temple at Ukhimath and then goes back to Kedarnath in the summer. The temple at Kedarnath is to be opened on 29th April. In this current lock-down situation, 6 people are travelling with the Palkhi, barefoot, carrying Him over 25kms in the snow, rocks and through the cold Himalayan streams. In reality He is carrying his devotees in all his love and compassion. Jai Kedar! Har Har Mahadev!

 

Lok you go to after physical death

“I recently heard that after a person passes away, he/she enters two lokas – preta and pitra (depending on their karmas and sanskaras). Is this true? Also, could you please share your views whether these lokas are inhabited by living entities? Do these lokas exist? bhu, bhuvas, svar, mahas, janas, tapas, and satya above and atala, vitala, sutala, rasātala, talātala, mahātala, pātāla and naraka”

I got this comment and the answer became too long, thus this post.

Pitarayana. When someone leaves the physical body there are two possible routes, Pitrayana and Devayana. Most people, 99.99% will use the Pitarayana. So the soul with the attached karmic baggage ie the subtle and causal bodies, leaves the physical body behind, uses the Pitrayana route and travels to Pitrulok. Pitru पितृ means ancestors. The physical body which is left behind is called the ‘pret’ and there is no ‘pret-lok’. Pret प्रेत means the remains, discarded, left behind, defunct, dead etc. Once the soul starts on the Pitrayana route, the other souls from his soul group come to escort it on its way. Soul group would be those souls who travel together in time, space and across lives as they have interconnected karma to resolve over lives. People who have had near death experiences report having seen their parents etc coming to meet them. (I have written on what happens at physical death here)

This world in which we live in, is called the Martya-lok. Martya मर्त्य means mortal, of those who will die, human, body, etc.

The soul gets the energy to reach its destination in pitra-lok, when the Anteyshti, cremation by fire is performed correctly. The pret/ body is offered to Agni and the skull must break. The other way is when a soldier dies fighting, Veer-gati, his focus on his fight is so complete that his attachment to his body becomes zero, if he gets killed, he travels the Pitrayana without much trouble.

But if the body is buried after death, then the soul cannot journey to the pitra-lok and in majority of cases haunts the areas around the burial spot or his house or his family. The soul is does not have enough energy to cross into the pitra-lok, so it roams in the Martya-lok and we call it a ghost, spirit, pret-atma, etc. These souls are often in very bad shape as the higher level negative entities also torment them while they are trapped here. (The best way to catch a spirit-slave is near cemeteries where bodies are buried, not that I recommend doing this.)

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I have used a generic word ‘pitru-lok’ but there are two basic options. One is if the soul has performed auspicious deeds and gained beneficial merit. Or has performed inauspicious actions, acted against its own conscience etc so has demerits, negative karma.

Chandra-lok If someone does auspicious activities, lives a dharmic life and gains merit, does his pujas, worships demi-gods/ devata, his soul enters Chandra-lok. Here the soul uses up the merit which it was supposed to enjoy here. It exists with the devata. Its position here is something like a subordinate staff to the demi-gods. If you do pujas of your adored devata, you will, after physical death, go to the Chandra-lok. Here you will serve him, gain his blessings, remain there till your this merit is exhausted. You enjoy your accumulated merit/ punya as a companion to the devata, something like his glorified servants. Maybe something like his pet? This is enjoyable to you as you have worshipped this devata while living in the Martya-lok and the fruit of your this karma is being in his company, so you enjoy it.

This merit is also a part of the sanchit karma. You are constantly working on reducing your karma by enjoying its fruits in the other dimensions also. If this is an auspicious merit you enjoy its fruits in the Chandra-lok (and if is an inauspicious fruit, you endure it in the Yama-lok.) This merit can be visualised as an additional body layer which is created around your soul as you enter the respective other lok. Once your merit here is exhausted, this layer is dissolved. Then you exit that lok and your soul will be reincarnated in the Martya-lok again. Now again some part of your accumulated karma will get active and this will decide your new life and situation here. The quality of this karma will decide your position and place of birth. Thus you are born again with residual karma which has to be worked out in the Martya-lok.

Sapta-Vhyritis Bhuh, Bhuvah, Swahah, Mahah, Janah, Tapah, Satyam are seven higher planes of existence. These are all naturally inhabited by specific beings.

  • Bhu is the bhu-lok, the earth, the martya-lok. We all live here.
  • The lok described by Bhuvah to Tapah are inhabited by devata of successively higher energies and are a part of the Chandra lok. A soul can travel upto only upto a certain level into the Chandra-lok, depending on his merit, punya. This level is indicated by the vhyrutis, bhuvah, svah, mahah, janah, tapah. If you have more punya/ merit you advance higher. There are different devata who exist in different levels of the Chandra-lok.
  • The highest energy Satya-lok is considered to be the same as Brahmalok. This is not a part of the Chandra-lok. Only those souls who gain krama mukti can go there by the Devayan route.

Souls who go to the higher Lok within the Chandra-lok ie Tapah, can also work as the devata/ demi-gods themselves. eg if you do your pujas etc with the desire to work as Indra etc these intentions can also be fulfilled. Deities are designations, like someone is a ‘Head of Marketing’, or ‘CEO’, or ‘Director’ in our corporates. Deities are something like officers.

Karma cannot be balanced at one go, several lives are needed. And karma is not balanced in one Lok either, its fruits are spread over several Lok. ie some of its karma will be settled in Martya-lok, some in Chandra-lok, some in Yama-lok. However new karma can be created only in the Martya-lok, not in any of the others. (So even if some deity wishes to attain Sadyo-mukti he too has to take a birth on the Martya-lok, do his sadhana here and only them can he attain Sadyo-mukti.)

Yama-lok If you have performed inauspicious actions on the Martya-lok and have accumulated demerits, negative karma. Then, after you enter the pitrayana route, you will be directed to the Yama-lok. Here you will suffer the consequences of your negative karma. People think the Garud-puran is a fantasy, it is not. Read it in the original Sanskrit (Devbhasha Samskrutam cannot be translated), you will understand what karmic punishments really are and these actually happen here. Here negative karma is rebalanced. Once you have rebalanced whatever was possible in Yama-lok, your soul again comes to the Martya-lok for its next birth.

There are seven subsidiary Lok connected to Yama-lok. The Raurava, Maharaurava, Vahni, Vaitarni and Kumbhika are the five ‘temporary’ ones. You stay here till the fruits of your negative karma are completed, then you exit from here. And there are two more Lok here, the ‘permanent’ Tamisra and Andhatamisra. If the soul has done such tremendous inauspicious actions, negative things which are beyond rebalancing, it resides here in complete inertia till the Maha-Pralaya, complete dissolution of creation. A soul residing here has no hope of evolution or gaining self-realization. It can be considered as a blindness of the worst kind possible. Inertia is the worst punishment possible as there is no scope of any sort of evolution/ involution.

As per Garud puran there are these Lok connected to the lower human body, Atala is located below the feet, above the feet is Vitala, at the knees is Sutala, Rasatala at the private parts, Talatala at the hips, Patala at the loins and Mahatala at the thighs. These should be similar to the seven Lok which are included in the Yama-lok. Then the seven higher Lok ie from Bhu to Satyam are linked to the 7 chakra in the spine. These are part of the Martya-lok, Chandra-lok and the Brahma-lok. There is no mention of any ‘narak’ in the Brahma-sutra or in the Garud puran. (I go by what Brahma-sutra say always. If there is any contradiction with any other text, for me the Brahma-sutra has the over-riding authority.)

Depending on how deep your spiritual practice Dhyan is, and how you have elevated your conscious focus on your mantra, you can visit these Lok during your Dhyan. But attempt it only if you are confident about yourself.

All this is for the souls who are born as humans. For the animals and plants etc there is a ‘Third’ place, which is neither Chandra-lok nor Yama-lok. I am not very interested, so I have never checked out this ‘third’ place

Lok you go to after physical death

Devayana  If you achieve Krama-mukti, you travel by this route at the moment of physical death and reach the highest possible Lok in this creation. Actually every soul has the Devayana option available to it at its point of exit, but it is so blinded by its karma, so confused, that it cannot see this route. So mostly all exit via pitarayana and go to Chandra-lok or Yama-lok. Devayana is also called the route of Archi, Agni, Vayu, Varun, Indra, Prajapati and the Surya (Archiradi-marga अर्चि आदि मार्ग). There are several intermediate stages on this route but the soul does not stop here, his focus on his Sagun Brahma is intense. The deities ruling these stages, escort or guard the soul on his route to the Brahma-lok.

A lot depends on what you focus on at the moment of your physical death. The energies at the moment of exit are tremendous, they grant you whatever you are intently focussing on at this moment. And to retain your single-point focus at this moment requires that you prepare for it throughout your life. If you worship the Eternal in his highest Sa-gun form, ie as Shiv, Vishnu or Brahmadev, with full focus, you will eventually attain the highest Vidya related to these forms. This Vidya will ensure that you retain your focus on this deity at the point of physical death. Thus you will be able to see and actively choose the Devayana route for your exit. You will go to the highest energy Lok available in this creation, called the Brahma-lok. The Brahma-lok is also called the Satya-lok or Kailas or Vaikunth.

Here you will remain as a companion to your adored deity, till the entire creation is dissolved in Maha-pralaya. You have chosen this by your continuous focussed intention, this is the fruit of that worship of the highest deities of this creation. You are satisfied with being with your favourite deity, this is want you had wanted. You got it. You are with the Sagun Brahma or the Karya Brahma. There is no more birth/death for you, your soul has been freed from this ‘krama’, thus it is called krama-mukti. However this is not the highest realisation possible. You do not know your own highest reality. (Do read the post on krama-mukti)

Sagun means with attributes. These forms of deities are under the rule of Prakruti, Devi, Lalita Tripursundari. If you can cross Prakruti also, you enter the realm of pure consciousness, then you can achieve the Nirgun Brahma, the highest realization.

Maha-pralaya, The entire creation with everything in it is dissolved as if it never existed. The Advaita reasserts itself and all forms of duality are destroyed. The illusion breaks for all the souls residing in all the Lok-s at this instant, also all demi-gods, deities, Shiv/ Vishnu/ Brahmadev etc all are annihilated. All souls, all intelligence is merged with the Nirvishesh Brahma. There is no creation, no manifestation, only the Non-dual exists. (After this creation can start again in a new cycle if such a desire is created.)

Sadyo-mukti Advaita, Nirvishesh Brahma the highest realization is possible only if you are devoted to your own reality, if you adore yourself, ie recite the mantra Om, Soham or Hamsa. Here there is no going/ coming, as you attain the Eternal at the moment of your realization. This is Sadyo-mukti, the final and highest realization possible. All genuine aspirants want this experince. A real Sat-Guru will always guide you to focus on yourself, Om/ Soham /Hamsa so you achieve the Highest Realisation in the life time or at the moment of your exit (post on Jivan-mukt or Videha mukt). Your own naam-mantra, your name, guides you to yourself.

 

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(This post is based majorly on the Brahma-sutra, some from Garud Puran and some from my experiences)

Soham, Sushumna Yog and the Sat-guru

‘Soham’, when formally ‘given’ to you by a Jivan-Mukt Sat-Guru is ‘Sushumna Yog.

A Jivan-mukt has understood the real meaning of the Maha-vakya, ‘tat tvam asi’. Maha-vakya महावाक्य means the great saying, assertion, declaration, rule. ‘Tat tvam asi’ loosely means ‘you are that’, but understanding this and experiencing this means you have achieved Sadyo-mukti. ‘Tat tvam asi’ is called the Brahmaakara Vritti, ie the state of the mind which takes you towards the Eternal Intelligence. Only such a Jivan mukt Guru can ‘give’ you Soham in all its grandness. eg your friend calls you by your full name and then your Mom calls you by your full name. When your Mom calls you with your full name, you get all alert and awake, her voice and your name trigger something within you.

Soham is the right of every living being. You keep doing it regularly in some small way with intention and it will slowly reset your energy. (Like that friend calling you by your name.) And then at some point of time, you will meet your Sat-Guru who will formally ‘give’ it to you. (This would be like your Mom calling you). When you hear this mantra from a Jivan-mukt, you hear it from the Nirvishesh Brahma itself. The mantra then goes deep inside and resets your energy in a fast forward mode. This now becomes Sushumna Yog, the route to Moksh. It opens access to the Sushumna nadi and the Brahma-nadi within it.

Soham has the power to take you into Kevala-Kumbhak spontaneously. Kumbhak is commonly considered to be the pause between the act of breathing in-Purak and breathing out-Rechak. But actually ‘Kumbhak’ means a pause in breathing. The breathing stops. Kevala Kumbhak means the stoppage of breath when the mind is silenced, completely motionless. In your Dhyan when you reach a point where the mind is utterly calm, the breathing stops. This stoppage can be in mid-inward breath, in mid-outward breath or between the Rechak/ Purak, anytime. This is called the state of Kevala Kumbhak.

When the breath stops, your pran are in your conscious control, the mind/Manas is still. Soham dissolves the individual ego/ Ahamkara completely. Grants you perfect memory/ Chitta of yourself. Perfect intelligence/ Buddhi dawns on you. You gain the knowledge/ Vijnyan of the Eternal. 

Initially this kumbhak will be for short time, later it can extend to hours as a Samadhi. Kevala Kumbhak is the highest form of Kumbhak. For those who attempt reaching this Kevala Kumbhak by consciously manipulating pran, the entire and very complicated process is given in the Yog-shikha Upanishad. But attempt this only under the guidance of a real Guru who knows what he is doing. Do not experiment here. Else you can burn up your Nadi-s, if this happens you have to discard your current body and take another body/life. (I have heard examples where aspirants burnt their nadi-s and then physically died a few months later.)

For attaining Moksh, both practice and philosophy is necessary. One trains the pran/ vital energy and the other trains the mind. Mind can be controlled by only if you control Pran and the easiest way to control Pran is to focus on your breath. The spiritual path can be very dangerous if you do not follow a Sat-Guru. You are manipulating the energies enveloping your soul, it is risky without the proper guide. All the books in Sanatan Dharma, Brahma-sutra, Bhagvat Gita, Vijnyan Bhairav Tantra, Devi Mahatmya, Ved, Vedang, Upanishad, etc emphasise the supreme importance of the Sat-guru in attaining Sadyo-mukti, Advaitya.

Soham, Sushumna Yog and the Sat-guru

I have seen my own Sat-Guru  in his physical shell as a Jivan-mukt and his full Advaita form after the shell dissolved.

A Jivan-mukt is innocence, untouched by physical/ emotional distress. Every word uttered by him is deepest philosophy. Every sentence when pondered upon, means only the Advaita. He cannot ever talk on any materialistic topic, he has transcended all this dross. He will not do moorti-pujas, pilgrimages, rituals, yadnas, homa or any other outer forms of worship connected to this illusory worlds, nor will he tell his disciples to do so. (My Guru would pointedly say no to all this as this. But he would tell us to increase our Dhyan.) He will give the same final mantra (Om/ Soham/ Hamsa) to all his disciples. To him, each one is the same Parabrahma. He does not discriminate among his disciples. He looks fresh and always welcoming. There are no bindings on how one has to be before coming before him. (Some Yogi-s are particular about women in their 5 days cycle. Or do not allow others to touch, have strict conditions on food etc). A Sat-guru has no requirements, no hang-ups, nothing. I have seen my Sat-guru eating out of silver plates and with the same innocence having simple food in the house of a poor disciple. Not finicky about habits, nothing. And this doesn’t mean that you can take him lightly. His aura is tremendous, you can not do anything but bow before him. All thoughts flee your mind in his presence. (I could never ask him for anything in words. Yet he always answered the questions I used to ask him in my mind). You feel the immenseness of him. Only those few people who have actually seen a Jivan-Mukt can understand what I have written here.

(Eg. Once he stopped his car in front of a Mumbai slum. My Mom was travelling with him. He asked her to go into the slum and call a woman, he told her the name. A elderly beggar woman came out. He asked her if she would like to go and live in his Math in Kolhapur district. She thought it over and said yes. He gave her money to buy some clothes and tickets. She lived in the Math and helped out in the kitchens. After some 25yrs, by his blessings, she left her body sitting in Dhyan. There are numerous such examples with my Guru.)

A Jivan-mukt’s body is linked to the Prarabdha-karma linked to the body at birth. So the body will play out its karmic activities. But the Soul is the pure Advaita. The pain/ pleasure of the body does not exist for the Soul. It has entered the Unmani-avastha, ‘beyond the mind’. The only purpose of the body is to enjoy/ endure karma. The soul has nothing to do with karma. You are not the body, you are the Soul, so its karmic pain/ pleasure has nothing to do with you. If you understand and experience this, you are Mukt.

Now whenever I see him he is in his full Advaita form, just the conscious Nirvishesh Brahma. It is very different and more intense.

So the point is, in this world, there are very rare Jivan-mukt available, maybe one in a hundred million. If you have the all-consuming desire to Know yourself, you will meet one, like the beggar woman whom my Sat-guru picked out of the slums. But until this happens, it is best that you do your Soham-Dhyan. Better trust your own higher self rather than putting your trust in some dubious ‘guru’. There are so many frauds in this world who are more than ready to take advantage of your fire and your energy. A Yogi who is higher up on the route can help you but only a Sat-Guru can really guide you home.

Do your Soham-Dhyan as per your conscience. This will prepare you for the moment when you will meet your Sat-guru. ‘Soham’ is not secret, everyone knows it. But when you hear it from your Sat-guru as a Naam-mantra, ie with the intention that ‘Soham’ is your name, it changes your energies completely. The Advaita itself tells you your name and directs you to focus on this now onwards. I was very young when my Sat-guru ‘gave’ it to me, but I remember every second of that experience.

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There was a question for references on Soham. For me the biggest reference is that my Sat-Guru gave it to me. But you can go through the following if you are so inclined,

  • Brahma vidya upanishad mentions that Soham is the mantra.
  • Yog shikha upanishad mentions that the Ajapa mantra under the guidance of a Sat-guru and for Sushumna yog is ‘Soham’. This is a part of mantra yog. The only route to liberation is the Sushumna yog and the ones who follow this route are the Jivan-mukt. Liberation is possible in one life itself if you slowly, little by little but regularly perform Soham.
  • Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, my Sat-guru’s Guru-brother writes in his books that if one follows one’s Sat-guru’s direction and Soham-Dhyan, it takes two years to attain Moksh.
  • Isha upanishad mentions that Soham is the illumination, the highest blessing.
  • Brihad aranyak upanishad says that when the Advaita first took the form of the Purush, the first words said by this conscious intelligence were ‘Soham asmi’, ‘I am That’. The Purush is aware that he is the Non-dual, no one but him existed nor exists nor will exist. (For details on what the Purush is you will need to read the Sankhya philosophy.)
  • Hamsa upanishad, says that ‘Soham’ is the ‘kilak’, ie it is the pin, wedge, pillar, bolt, to which the entire ‘Hamsa soham’ mantra is fastened to. If you use this ‘Soham’ as a kilak, ie make it the sharp cutting edge of your spiritual practice you attain Moksh.
  • Vidnyan Bhairav Tantra mentions ‘Soham’ and ‘Hamsa’.
  • In the phalashruti of Vishnu sahastra nama, the highest One says that these 1000 names of Vishnu are equivalent to one Soham mantra.
  • There are several tantra books, philosophy commentaries and stotras which mention Soham.

If you think that ’Soham’ is very simple, try doing it for one hour with your breath as you do your daily commute sitting in the bus or train. See how many times you forgot to keep track of your breath. See how many times your attention was diverted from your breath and your mantra by what you saw/ heard in the train. Keeping track of breath is not so easy! But as you train your mind, direct it again and again to focus on your breathing pattern, you will notice changes in yourself. Your mind will become calmer, recovery from emotional outbursts will be faster, your health indicators will improve, you will look younger, fresher, your aura will become more intense etc. 

Sohams’s greatest power is that everyone can do it. All the time, in all conditions of the body/ mind. There is no binding of any sort on doing it. You can do it on your asan, in the bus, while you are having a bath, while walking in the park, at all times. It is a Manasik Jaap, ie mentally recite ‘So’ as you breathe in and mentally recite ‘Hum’ as you breathe out. Every breath you take should be converted to Soham, in every state. This means that you will be doing 21,600 Soham jaap every day! But then your breathing will also slow down. eg I have observed that when I am just sitting, reading or typing my breathing rate goes to 2-3 per minute and sometimes stops. Slowed breathing increases your body’s life-span and health. The life of a person is measured in breaths, the more you sit in Samadhi or in Dhyan, the slower you breathe, the longer your body will sustain. 

Soham is the gem among the mantras, it gives the highest benefit, Sushumna Yog, and ultimately Moksh, Sadyo-mukti in the most easiest, safest, gentlest and kindest ways and in this one life-time itself.

Karma action fruits of action, Bhagwat Gita style

There were several questions, I have sort of combined them in this post. 

Karma and Dhyan Meditation

“Could you please write something on how meditation helps on karmic levels.” There was this question, so writing it as a post.

The short answer. If you do regular Dhyan, you will realise that Karma is an illusion. You will actually experience this fact. Then you remain in eternal happiness, Param-anand.

Now the longer discussion.

There are three types of karma,

Sanchit karma – the entire accumulated load from several lives which you have to rebalance at some point of time, either in this life or the next ones.

Prarabdha karma – that part from the above load which you have decided to rebalance in this current life. This is chosen by you at the time of birth and lasts till the moment of physical death. This can be seen from your horoscope. As long as your soul animates this current 5-layered body, its linked Prarabdha karma will run its course. It is like an arrow released and will continue its motion till it exhausts its energy. In case you attain Realisation, ie Sadyo-Mukti and become a Jivan-mukt, the body will continue to be animated and operate as per the chosen prarabha karma till the time of physical death. (Do read the posts on on Sadyo-mukti/ Krama-mukti and on Jivan-mukti/ Videha mukti.)

Agaami karma – The  karma which you will possibly create in this current life. If this is of a smaller magnitude, you will be able to rebalance it in this current life itself. But if it is of a larger magnitude, it will be added to your Sanchit karma and you will rebalance it in your future lives.

When you achieve Sadyo-mukti, ie experience yourself as the Parabrahma, the Advaita, the Nirvishesh brahma, all the stored karma Sanchit karma is burnt at that very instant. And now you are a realised soul, so creation of new karma will be impossible too.

Karma is linked to the 5-layered body which is animated by your soul. No karma can touch the Soul/ Atma. The Soul is beyond all concepts of karma. But when a Soul resides in the body it mistakenly believes that it is linked to karma, now this is called an individual soul or Jiv-atma. Eg there is the Sun in the sky and clouds over it. The clouds are nothing to the Sun and neither are linked to him. But we think that the Sun is covered by the clouds. The Soul is similarly covered by the clouds of karma. When you do Dhyan, these clouds are shown to be immaterial and you experience the Soul.

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Meditation is a very misunderstood word. Modern people think that listening to relaxing music or not thinking of anything or sitting motionless in a dark room is mediation. All this is good to relax your mind, but it won’t do anything for your spiritual progress.

The correct word is Dhyan. There is no translation possible of this Sanskrit word ‘Dhyan’. Here you are required to elevate your limited awareness to the level of the Parabrahma by thinking of yourself as the Parabrahma itself. This continued thought is called Dhyan. You concentrate on this one thought exclusively. No other thoughts are allowed to enter your mind except this. You give all your attention to this thought, you appreciate its non-duality, its existence within yourself.

Dhyan means ‘motionlessness’. This ‘absence of movement’ has very deep connotations. The continuous motion of the three-Gun, the Satva-Raja-Tama is stilled. Prakruti stops her performance, ie the illusion of manifested creation stops. You observe oneself, you become a witness. And you identify with the catalyst who remains still rather than the puppet who is in motion.

You are required to sit (post here). Not lie down, as you will go to sleep. Neither can you stand or do any actions while doing Dhyan, because your mind will also think on how to do these actions or how to keep standing without falling. Dhyan needs continuity of the physical state so that your mind can concentrate only on the non-dual subtlest intelligence within you. So you have to sit. If the body is at rest the mind also rests. It becomes easier to focus.

But there really are no rules on how to sit or where to sit or how to sit at what time etc. But to begin with, you have to fix your place (asan) and also a time, eg daily at 7am or whatever is possible on a regular basis. This will help your mind get used to the idea of Dhyan. Later, with practice, as the mind gets trained, there are no rules as this becomes a constant thought. Even later this goes deep that every instant is a Dhyan. This will continue non-stop till physical death. If you are able to strongly hold on to this thought at the instant of death you will attain the highest Sadyo-mukti of the Videha kind when you exit the body.

The life you are living is actually a preparation for the instant of physical death. If you concentrate on something for a life time, you will easily be able to concentrate on it at the moment of your exit thus achieve it. The moment of exit is the most powerful moment of your life. Eg if you concentrate on the idea that you are a devotee of Vishnu, you will go to Vaikunth. If you concentrate that you are a devotee of Shiv, you will go to Kailas. These states are called the lower Krama-mukti. The moment of physical exit is the critical point. If at this moment you are fixed in the idea that you are the Parabrahma, you will attain the highest possible Sadyo-mukti of the Videha kind. You will be able to do this only if you have trained your mind for a life-time, so we are all required to do Dhyan.

Karma and Dhyan Meditation

There are just the three possible mantras which are possible for Dhyan, Om, Soham and Hamsa.

Om is generally used by people who have renounced all forms of material bindings and are totally focussed on the Eternal. There is are specific ways of using Om, this will be taught to you by your own Guru. I know someone very senior who does Om Dhyan. Aged, now in his 70’s, his wife too in her 70’s. He was initiated when he was in his 20-s, after which his family got him married. His wife once told me that he used to beg for her permission to become a formal ascetic, but she refused. If you practice Om-dhyan in all its intensity, it is equivalent to formal asceticism. Even if you feel attracted to material life from time to time, it will be superficial because Om will always strongly pull you inward. Om is is Sanyas. Sanyas सम्यक् न्यास means that you are putting the Conscious energy perfectly within yourself. Once you start it in real earnest, you cannot get interested in or remain much in the material illusory world, the Eternal will pull you very strongly.

Then Hamsa and Soham are the two Ajapa mantras. Every living being unconsciously recites these mantras with every breath. If you adopt them as your Mantra, now onwards, you will use them consciously. Hamsa is the Ajapa mantra when you first exhale and mentally recite ‘hmm’ and then inhale and mentally recite ’saaa’. Together it makes ‘hamsa’. The details of this are given in detail in the Hamsa upanishad. But this upanishad is so utterly high level that even if you understand what it means, you won’t be able to perform the process. Possibly it involves Hatha yog too as complicated movements of pran and bandha etc are described in it. Hamsa vidya is when this mantra gains power with regular practice. I have not been taught it so do not know more. But it is a very powerful means of attaining the Self.

Soham is the second Ajapa mantra. My Sat-Guru taught all his disciples the ‘Soham’ mantra. Here you breathe in with the internal sound ‘sooo’ and exhale with the internal sound of ‘hmmm’. Together it makes ‘soham’. It is called the Ajapa-Gayatri by some people. It enlightens you to your real nature. The only thing you have to do is to internally recite the ‘soo’ and ‘hmm’ with your every breath. All the time, every breath. This is all you need to do. Soon it will become so intense that even if you deep sleep or dream, you will consciously recite it continuously. Never force your breathing, always breathe normally gently as you do. No sound should be created by your breathing. Some people breathe heavily and a sound is created by the air moving in your nose. Avoid this, it cause damage to your Nadi-s. The breathing should be noiseless, only then you will ‘hear’ the associated ‘soo’ and ‘hmm’ sounds. If you can sit down in a formal Dhyan even 1-2 times a day then it becomes even more intense.

Everyone can do Soham-jaap. Some people have this misconception that higher level mantras can be given only to the higher aspirants. This is incorrect. A genuine Sat-Guru will give you the full and final Mantra in the first step itself. You and me both are the Advaita, the Eternal. We are all capable of focussing on our real name. Maybe someone has lesser power of concentration to begin with, but the Mantra is so powerful that it does its own work.

Now the thing is with the householder’s life, Gruhast-ashram, we are required to perform all activities related to society, family, spouse/children etc. So doing Dhyan thrice a day 1hr each session may not be possible. So the best option is to do Soham jaap whenever you can, 1-2 mins whenever you are free, during the day/night, when you are travelling etc. This will ensure that your mind is gradually trained to think of itself. ‘Soham’ is Sushuma Yog, you will pull you towards yourself with its power. And if you get time, if you can sit in formal Dhyan, your progress towards yourself will be faster.

Karma and Dhyan Meditation

Now when you sit for Dhyan, each breath is considered to be one life time. Each breath is used to burn the karma of a life-time. It is a very intense exercise. Can you imagine the focus needed to consciously convert the energies of say five hundred million breaths, which is about a 65yrs life span, into one breath? But this does happen when you are very highly focussed on your mantra, not otherwise. If you practice daily, it will eventually happen with you too.

Even if you cannot reach this intensity in this lifetime, whatever you did will be carried over into your next life. So it is an asset you are generating. Dhyan makes the Mind still. And then the benefits of a relatively calm mind are obvious. You will look younger, more healthier, live longer, more mentally stable, more rational, less perturbed by events around you. Even if a karmic event occurs in your life, you are more easily able to navigate through it. And the chances of creating deep-rooted Agaami karma are also reduced as you do not react to situations from your deepest core. You are more in tune with your conscience. You go through events without disturbing your innermost self. The intensity of your desires will reduce with time. Frustrations disappointments reduce in intensity as your mind fluctuates less.

Then when you continually contemplate on your Reality, you force your mind to think of Yourself repeatedly. You realise, dimly at first and then very strongly that the creation which surrounds you is an illusion. As you remove the bindings laid on you, your experiences in Dhyan become more profound. You enter even deeper into yourself, you realise that Karma itself is an illusion. You are the Soul, this intention becomes stronger and stronger. You finally realise that there is no difference in the states of happiness/sadness. Every instant is filled with the awareness of non-duality.

So the short answer is again that if you do regular Dhyan, you will realise that Karma is an illusion, you experience this reality. You will always be in eternal happiness, Param-anand.

This post is basically from the Brahma-sutra, from what I was taught by my Sat-Guru and what I personally practice.

 

Your conscience and your soul

This really old Hindi song to me is beautifully meaningful. A rough translation, “I walked together with Life. I blew away every worry into smoke and went on. Grieving about past tragedies was meaningless. I celebrated every tragedy and walked on. What was given to me, I accepted it as destined. What was lost, I forgot it all and went on. There is one point where there is no difference between happiness and sorrow. I consciously brought my heart to this final destination and went on.”

Length and Rate of your breathing

We are breath, or more more correctly we are linked to this manifested creation primarily by the movement of air through our nostrils. To go beyond the limits imposed by the manifested, the first step is control of the breath. If you control your breath, you naturally control the pran moving within you. If you can control your pran, you automatically control your mind. Your mind is like a ball in your hand, it jumps up and down with the movement of pran. If you still the movement of pran, you also still your mind. The pran’s movement stills when you still your breathing, ie achieve Keval Kumbhak state, where there is no breathing in nor breathing out. If your Mind goes still, you achieve the ‘unmani-state’, beyond-Mind. After you reach this Unmani state, you hear the continuous ‘Nada’, the sound of the unmanifested. If you can dissolve your limited consciousness in the sound of the Nada, you achieve the Eternal.

Length and Rate of your breath

Our regular breathing is very turbulent. It depends on the physical movement of the body but it also depends significantly on your emotions and your thoughts. Check your breathing pattern when you are happy, sad, angry, upset, relaxed, focussed, etc and observe for yourself how it varies.

All texts on breathing and Dhyan will talk about the length of the breath and the rate of breathing.

  • This is how you determine the length of your breathing in comparison to your own finger-widths, a measure called angula. Switch off the fan in your room first, it should not be windy inside. Place some cotton fibres or a very thin thread on the back of your hand and keep it at some distance from your nose. Be at rest, relax and breathe normally. As you exhale on the cotton fibres they will move with the force of the exhaled air. Try to find out till what distance from your nose, the cotton fibres visibly move with your exhaled breath. Measure this distance from your nostrils to the fibres with a piece of thread. Now count how many finger-widths long is your breath when you are at rest.
  • Now to measure your breathing rate. Sit in a relaxed position. Set a timer for 5 mins. Count your breathing, ie one inhale and one exhale is one breath. eg If you count 52 breaths in 5 mins, then it is average at about 10 breaths per minute. eg If it is 68 breaths in 5 mins it is approximately 14 breaths per minute. As per science, the average human breathing rate at rest is 12 per minute.

Your life span is measured in breaths, not years. If you breathe slowly, you will live longer, look younger and be more healthy. But you should not force yourself to stop/slow breathe, if you do so, you will damage your body and your nadi-s. This should happen spontaneously and it will happen gradually as you do your spiritual practice.

(This photograph of my Sat-guru was taken in 1990, he was physically 85yrs old then.)

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If your breathing is fast, forced, laboured, intense etc the air will be displaced for a longer distance from your nose. ie the length of the breath will increase. As per the texts, this is how the activities affect your breath, eg eating increases the length to 18 angula, walking increases it to 20 angula, run­ning to 24 angula, sexual activity to 60 angula etc. If the length of the exhaled breath is longer, it reduces your life-span. The reason is that with every exhaled breath, you are also exhaling pran from your system. Generally you lose more pran than you pull in from the universe as your exhaled breath is always longer than your inhaled breath. And if the exhaled breath is made longer by engaging in strenuous activities or mental turbulence, even more pran goes out. (So over-indulgence in sexual activity is not advisable for spiritual aspirants, 60 angula long-breath!)

When you breathe slowly, without any jerks, the exhaled air moves out with less force, ie it’s length in angula becomes shorter. As the breathing becomes slow, it also becomes less turbulent, the flow of the pran in the nadi-s becomes smoother, more subtle, thinner? It actually becomes a fine needle of pure gold/ silver shimmer. In Dhyan, you are supposed to actively open your central Sushumna and close the Ida and Pingala. When such smooth subtle flow of pran moves through the Sushumna it effectively ‘cleans’ it out. Once the Sushumna is ‘clean’, all karmic impurities/ blockages are removed, it becomes very easy for the kundalini to rise up through it in one continuous smooth flow. It is always better for the spiritual aspirant if the Kundalini moves only after the Sushumna is clean from the Mooladhar to the Brahmarandhra.

So the point is that if you reduce the breathing rate and reduce the length of breath which actually happens simultaneously, you will increase the length and quality of your life and also gain control over your pran, Mind and also on the people around you and the environment you live in. Here is what the texts say,

  • If it is 10 angula, you gain peace of mind which lasts for a long time.
  • If it is 9 angula, you can spontaneously write, prose, music etc which have deep impacts on others.
  • If it is 8 angula, you will be able to speak spontaneously without hesitation. Your words will cause deep impact on those who hear you.
  • If it is 7angula, your vision will change, seeing into the past, present, future, parallel is possible now.
  • If it is 6 angula, you can move your body through air.
  • If it has gone to 5 angula, now onwards, your progress in your spiritual practice becomes very fast.
  • If it goes to 4 angula, you will attain the eight major siddhis (anima, mahima, garima, laghima, prakamya, ishitva, vashitva, kamavashayitva) and the several minor siddhis.
  • If it goes down to 3 angula, you gain the nava nidhi vidya the 9 types of consciousnesses. These are said to be under the control of Yaksharaj Kuber.
  • If it goes upto 2 angu­la, then the body is not longer a binding, you can change the shape of your 5-layered body.
  • If it reduces to 1 angula, you can become invisible and exist in just the subtle or causal body. Time, space and other dimensions lose their dominion on you.
  • Finally when the breathing stops, ie there is no exhalation or inhalation, Keval Kumbhak is attained, now the further process of Self realization starts in real earnest.

So as you do your spiritual practice, with time, your breathing will slow down and stop intermittently and then fully. It is nothing to be scared of. You don’t need air to remain alive in this created world. You need only pran, and it can be pulled in not just through the nostrils but also via the skin and majorly through the top of the head. This ability to consciously pull in pran increases, as you do your spiritual practice. So as an aspirant, your only job is to breathe with Soham, the rest of it will happen spontaneously and naturally.

 

Length and Rate of your breath

Sounds heard during meditation

There was a question on this, so a quick post. As you do your regular spiritual practice using the mantras Soham or Hamsa or Om, you will see signs of your progress. These are not achievements in any sense of the word, just signs that you are following your route. As per the Hamsa upanishad this is the sequence of the sounds,

  1. Chinni – a single sound heard occasionally, like a single chirrup of a cricket
  2. Chinni- chinni – a sound like crickets, but tinkling-like and pleasant.
  3. Bells ‘Ghanta’ ringing – a deep tolling bell
  4. Conch ‘Shankh’ being blown
  5. A musical instrument’s string being plucked ‘Tantri’
  6. Cymbals ‘taal’ 
  7. Flute ‘Venu’
  8. Drums ‘Mridanga’
  9. War drum ‘Bheri’ 
  10. Thundering ‘Megh-naad’ 

When you do your practice and do it for sometime, you first hear the single ‘chini’ type of sound occasionally. Then when you start hearing the second sound and till the last thundering sound, these sounds are on all the time, a muted continuous background sound. You can hear them all the time if you are in a silent room. In fact you can feel their vibrations in your body if you are sitting quietly in a silent room. Sometimes one sound will predominate and at other times some other sound. Some of the sounds are on high pitch and some are very low bass notes. Each is a constant sound, eg you will not hear varying pitches in the stringed instrument, it will be like someone picked just one string and its sound is heard constantly. It not like someone is playing your chakras like a guitar! You have to sit in a silent room as they cannot be heard properly in a noisy environment. If you use ear plugs, you might miss out the lowest pitched ones. Also do not plug your fingers in your ears, as you will then ‘hear’ the muscles in your fingers snapping, this will interfere with your ‘listening’ to your inner sounds. A silent room is best. 

You will also hear other sounds as your Ajnya chakra gets more charged up. Eg sounds of bumble bees, birds twittering, frogs croaking, wind rushing, the constant flow of a river, white noise etc. You will also hear single sharp cracks and thudding sounds as if a wood has snapped or a huge weight has fallen next to you. You will hear so many sounds in your Dhyan. But these are one-off sounds, you don’t hear them always on.

And don’t worry if you don’t hear them all or all in sequence or if you do not remember hearing them. In deep Dhyan, the Mind, both conscious and unconscious, is switched off. So whatever visions appear before you or sounds you hear, you might not be able to clearly remember them after you get up.

Sounds heard during mediation

Then while you are ‘hearing’ all this you will also have these effects on your body. These really happen so do not feel scared when they start. Pran moves along your body in waves, so the hair on your skin all stand up for minutes (very common). You feel coolness on your skin. You feel wind rushing on your skin. Your throat constricts and your sound box moves upwards. The body muscles contract and tremble spasmodically. You might feel pain and then again it gets soothed. There may be cycles of these sensations. You might feel pressure in your third eye area, or on the top of your head at specific points, you might feel coldness trickling down your head. You might feel your third eye ‘pop’, ie something like ‘air’ popped out from there. Your backbone might stiffen, your neck posture can rearrange itself. Eyes will get sealed shut, you will not be able to open them even if you want to. 

But in Dhyan, you are not supposed to get involved in observing these things. Your only job is to sit comfortably, breathe slowly, focus on the third eye and recite your mantra in your mind.

Then these things initially happen only when you are actively sitting on your Asan and focussing intently. The Mind has to be still. These generally won’t happen when you are in office and doing your official stuff. (But if you take a 5min break and do a quick mini-Dhyan in office you can experience all this there too.) And as this happens when you are doing your Dhyan you might not really be aware of these separate processes. I really wasn’t aware of much of these things until I read the Hansa Upanishad. As I read the descriptions I realised that this stuff had happened but I was so immersed that it did not register nor did I remember it when I got up.

The Upanishad says these following are the effects on the body as you progress, body feels pins and needles, hair stand up. Then there is pain as the pran pierces through the Sushumna nadi. (Or you might feel an oily dense liquid thing which would be the Kundalini moving) You might feel that things are snapping and breaking inside you. Shivering and trembling of muscles occurs. Saliva collects in your mouth. Then nectar collects in your throat, ie the secretions of the pineal gland are now available for your conscious use. You will be made aware of the secret knowledge ie things which you had read earlier will now give different secret meanings, you will spontaneously ‘know’ so many things about yourself and others around you. Then you will know the secret of mantras also you will hear mantras being spoken in your ears as you do your Dhyan, or even when you are sitting silently anywhere. The 9th step is that you gain control over your body, ie you can dissolve it to pure energy and reform it again wherever you want. You will also gain complete control over your Ajnya chakra, you will be able to ‘see’ energies which cannot be described. The last step is the realisation of the Parabrahma at the Brahma-randhra ie at the very top of your head, at the very ‘center’ of the Sahasrara chakra complex. 

Your 5-layered body is the vehicle with which your Soul will cross the geometry created by Prakruti and your Soul will finally realise itself. These signs are very clearly mentioned in several texts and they do happen. For some aspirants they may merge into one single event and they may not even realise that these have happened. These are not achievements, they are merely signposts that you are on the right route and progressing. However interesting these on-the-way things may seem to be. You as a spiritual aspirant should never relax your focus on the ultimate prize, Moksh

 

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