Adishankaracharya, when he wrote Shivah शिवः in his compositions, he used this to mean the eternal auspicious non-dual Advaita. Eg In the Brahmajnyanavalimala he ends it with ‘Shivosmyaham’ शिवःअस्मिअहं. Or in the Nirvan shatak he ends every verse with ‘Shivoham shivoham’ ‘शिवःअहंशिवःअहं’.
Today is Vaishakh Shukla Panchami, we celebrate Adi Shankarcharya’s birth anniversary today.
Also someone commented that Adishankaracharya wrote on the Advaita yet worshipped the deities by composing beautiful stotras in their honour. Apparently someone thought that the ‘Shiv’ he writes about is the deity Shankar, the embodiment of Tamo-gun (post here).
Adishankarcharya was a Sat-guru. In brief his life story is this. He took Sanyas at the age of 8yrs, then studied under his Sat-Guru at the banks of the Narmada till the age of 12yrs where his Guru said that he was ready, ie Jivan-mukt, the Advaita. He wrote his brilliant compositions, his Bhashya-s, his books on the Advaita, everything on the pure Jnyan till the age of 16yrs, all this in just 4yrs. He wrote about Himself as he was a realised Seer, a Sat-Guru. Then he toured Bharat giving discourses on the Ved(4 Ved-s, Vedanta, Brahmana, Aranyak) set up the 4 Maths in the 4 corners of Bharat, each one dedicated to one of the 4 Ved-s. Not deities, but to the Ved-s. The Ved-s are ‘worshipped’, read, taught and learnt even now in these Maths. He was/ is the highest Parmeshwar himself.
His work is not fully comprehensible to aspirants who are still on the path. Do not assume that he worshipped Shankar or any of the other deities of the Vedic/ Pauranic pantheon. These deities are a part of the manifested creation, ie in the domain of Mahamaya. He was/ is the Advaita, beyond the reach of Mahamaya. Also he wrote in the Devbhasha Samskrutam. So what he wrote and what you understand will be different. He, an Atmajnyani Mahapurush, ie the Advaita itself, and you, a sadhak, an aspirant. When you really understand what he has written, you will also become the Advaita.
Shivah शिवः has the following meanings in the Devbhasha Samskrutam, auspicious, bliss, benign, friend, kind, gracious, favourable, etc. And if you had to break down शिवः to get at its root energy it is something like this.
The true and pure emotion that you feel for your inner self, when you recognise yourself to be this highest state of consciousness. This constant state of this purity. The transcendence achieved after apparent duality is resolved to be a superficial illusion. The discarding of the illusion of duality so that you dwell in the eternal constant, unchanging, non-dual, unborn state that you really Are.
The Advaita is called ‘Shivah’, ie ‘the highest auspicious’. (In some parts of India, the personification of Tamo-gun is called Shiva which causes confusion. I am from Maharashtra, in Marathi language we refer to this deity generally as Shankar or Mahadev not ‘Shiva’.)
In this context, all of us at our core are Shivah. But we want to play the Game of Creation so we have no awareness of this fact. We have purposely put filters over our perception which do not let us recognise our essential eternal auspiciousness. We conceal our Shivah nature. The energy which animates us all is the same energy which animates the Tri-dev, Brahma-dev/Sarasvati, Vishnu/Laxmi, Shankar/Parvati, Indra,Agni and the other deities of the pantheon, every one of the 33 Koti devata, the Rudra, the Aditya, the Devi Lalita Tripursundari, Mahamaya herself. They too are all Shivah. Everything is Shivah. This essential auspiciousness शिवः is the only thing which really exists, the concepts of you, me, deities, Mahamaya are hollow, superficial, illusory.
This is the Nirvan Shatak.I will expand the meaning of just the last shlok.
अहं निर्विकल्पो निराकाररूपो | विभुत्वाच्च सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम् | न चासङ्गतं नैव मुक्तिर्न मेयः | चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् |
All alternatives, all variations, all options have gone away from my nature. All forms have dropped away, dissolved, vanished into nothingness like mirages dissolve. I exist as the basis of everything. I am the potential of existence. I exist as the covering of everything. I pervade all the organs of action and sense, ie I pervade the tattva-s of creation. I am all that Is. I do not have anything attached to me, nor do I cling to anyone. I am not the concepts of liberation or realisation or enlightenment. I cannot be measured in anyway whatsoever. I am the nature of the blissful intelligence. I am the eternal consciousness. I am the auspicious Advaita. The highest auspicious Advaita Am I.
This is the Brahmajnyanavalimala which I have referred to several times. I will expand the meaning of just the last shlok.
I am the light amidst. I shine within. I am the illumination seen in the inner eye. I am the Eye and I am the Light. I am the brightness which shines forth. I am the divinity which is always apart. I am the light of the eternal which illuminates the eternal. I am away from the transient. I am the eternal flash of lighting. I visibly shine with all power. I am the self-evident fire. I am the blazing flame, superior to the best. I am higher than the highest illumination. I am the radiance which gives power to fire. I myself am the celestial brilliance of the self. I am the eternal blazing flame of consciousness. I am the spontaneous light. I am the self-illuminated light. My nature is light. The highest auspicious Am I.
When you recite either of these compositions you are clearly invoking the pure Advaita within.
Now a bit on the word ‘Aham’. In grammar, it is the first person singular of ‘asmad’, ‘I’. In Sanskrit it means something like – I, self-radiance, indeed, verily, I grant, it is true, surely, certainly.
‘Aham’ broadly means the sense of the self. What you exactly understand your ‘self’ to mean. Your comprehension of what you are. What you experience your self to be? This is ‘Aham’.
Now at the lower levels of consciousness you understand yourself to be Rajiv, Anita, a boy, a woman, a professional, a home maker, a father, a grandmother, a human, confined in a body, having 5 senses, awake, going to work, sitting down to dinner, being born or dying etc. If you think of yourself as something like this, it is a very very limited sense of self. You are experiencing a very limited fraction of your immense Self. This is the ‘aham’ which represents the root cause of ignorance, the ‘ahamkaar’ which is the root cause of existential sorrow. When you put your ‘aham’ in words like this you are still playing the Game, your personal Lila.
But in your spiritual path there will come a time when you will think and experience yourself as the geometry represented by the Shri Yantra. You will experience your consciousness as the multidimensional Shri Chakra. You will see yourself at the central Bindu of this geometry. This is the first tangible step where you will know that the ‘aham’ is much much more than these simple words can define. You will now move towards experiences which cannot be described in words. And at one point you will transcend all these experiences too. This is the state where when you say that ‘Chidanandah roopah Shivah Aham’ or ’Shivah Aham asmi’ you will mean it completely.
If any of my readers feel this post resonating in your hearts, you are on a very high level of understanding, continue on your path. And even if not, its ok to continue thinking of ‘Shivah’ as Shankar or Vishnu or Brahmadev or your source of faith or whatever generates positive energy in you. Everyone should freely worship the energy they are drawn to. No one can judge you but yourself. You choose for yourself. No one can force you. Only you are aware of what you experience.
But this is not what Adishankaracharya intended when he wrote these lines. When he talks about Shivah शिवः he talks about the Advaita. Listen to his these compositions and with the Light of the Advaita, when the time comes, you too will experience what शिवः indicates towards.
This is my favourite Bhairav stotra. I use it often to get rid of negative energies or entities around me. And to recharge my personal energy. Its energies are Ugra, intense and can be terrifying if you are not prepared to understand that you are much more than just the physical body.
This is the audio
And I have written very briefly on the meaning of the verses using the regular meanings of the Sanskrit words, nothing too esoteric, else I would have to write a book on it. This is the beauty of Sanskrit (Devbhasha Samskrutam), a palimpsest, layers and layers of meanings.
Eg Teekshna तीक्ष्ण means pungent, vehement, sharp, also peppers, resins of certain plants like asafoetida, a few trees are called teekshna, sea-salt, rude, rough, poison, keen, iron, inauspicious, hot, haste, harsh, fiery, death, battle, ascetic, weapon, acid, zealous, severe, etc. But what ‘teekshna’ means in this stotra is a matter of understanding as well as experience. Reference to Context. The context is all important.
This stotra is in eight shlok/ verses. Each line begins with a beej mantra. The lines have to be understood in context of the beej mantra which precedes it.
This is a description of the Bhairav, the auspicious one, the fearless one, the terrible, formidable, the highest of the high. He is considered to be an Ugra energy, he will take your sense of tiny individuality firmly and finally merge it into the highest ie himself. He is the destroyer of creation or more correctly he is the one who remains after all creation is annihilated. He is the protector of the Kshetra, ie he protects the seat of the highest divinity within you. Thus he is the ‘nearest’ to the Kshetra (to understand the concept of ‘near’ read the Bhashya on the Mandukya by Adi Shanakracharya). This is the Bhairav of the Vijnyan Bhairav Tantra who helps you reach that highest state of attribute-less-ness which you really are. He is the Shivah, the ultimate auspiciousness itself, ie the Advaita.
(Bhairav is not the personification of the Tamogun (post here). Often the personification of Tamo-gun, is also called Shiv, causing endless and unnecessary confusion.)
The stotra beings with the sound of the Damaru which is the sound of OM. When you play the Damaru there are binaural beats created which create a subtle sound of Om. Om is the creation (pravrutti) or the moorti of the Advaita (nivrutti). Every stotra has to begin with the sound of Om, so here they have creatively used the Damaru to create the vibration of Om. Om is the conscious intelligence which is the thing of this manifested universe which is closest to the Advaita. Thus Om can be considered to be a Moorti of the Advaita.
Yang – This is the beej mantra indicating the omnipresent, the eternally pure and auspicious one. Every beej mantra recited correctly ends in the ‘ng’ sound (in this recitation they are not pronounced correctly, but the person reciting it has done it with a pure intention, thus there is power in his voice). The ‘ng’ akshar is the enchanting awareness, beautiful intelligence and the attractive consciousness which controls the power of sound ie vibrations.
He is the sustainer of the forms. He sets the ten directions as per the proper geometry as per the correct rules, ie creates and sustains the universe. The ten directions are the conscious Dasha Mahavidya (post here). He creates the conscious energies who organise the perceived universe. He sets this geometry, situation and objects into motion. He causes them to shake, tremble, vibrate, ie exist. He causes them to apparently change, ie he creates Time. He is everything that exists, all concentrated together. Everything that you see is drawn from him. He is the comprehensive description or a compendium of everything.
Sang – This is the beej mantra for the one who is the true reason for everything, the one who is the single true description of everything. Also the enchanting intelligence controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the conclusion, ie he remains always. The manifested creation is dissolved back into him. He contracts everything back into himself. He stops the illusion of apparent change. He annihilates duality. His is the energy of the fully expanded Sahasrara chakra, its ‘luminous petals’ stretching infinitely, encompassing everything. The illusions of karma and memories are powered by his energy. The energies of creation flow from the highest point ie him. His highest illumination is reflected off his highest point by his power, this radiance is seen in the third eye during spiritual practice.
Dang – This is the beej mantra for the one who causes increase by granting sustenance. Also the one extremely pleasing to visualise. The enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the depth of this created multitude. He is the only attainable one. He is the deepest sign. He makes all imperfections leave. All unnatural, artificial, misshaped agitations are annihilated by him. All diseased incompleteness is removed by his granting the true intelligence of the source. He makes all energies flow strongly upwards, ie towards the highest apex, towards himself. He is the one who cuts through all bindings strongly and decisively with his sword of light. He is also the mouth of the terrible single pointed energy which devours the illusion called creation.
Pang – This is the beej mantra of the one who destroys all forms of alternatives, duality, blocks and illusions. The enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He destroys all forms of evil ie notion of change and duality. All inauspiciousness, trouble, harm, wickedness are nullified, the biggest harm being ignorance of the self. Pran, ie the vital energies are reined in, inclined towards, course towards, are channelised by, always continuously, perpetually, eternally, by such a Kshetrapal Bhairav.
Kam Kam Kam kaal pasham Druka Druka drudhitam jwalitam kamadaham
Tam Tam Tam divya deham, pranamata satatam, Bhairavam Kshetrapalam. (2)
Rang – This beej mantra indicates the one who burns, increases internal energy, grants special and unusual benefits. The enchanting intelligence controlling the power of vibrations.
He is beautiful, sweet, beloved and auspicious by nature. He uses the energy of sound to play this sport called creation. His attractive form is hidden. He is the subtle pivot of manifestation. He is the fiery, sharp single point, the terrifying energy of time which destroys all illusions and ignorance.
Ghang – This is the beej mantra indicating the one who grants all auspiciousness and stillness. The enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the sound of the bow string which launches the self towards the Self. He is the power of the vowels of Sanskrit and also the power of vibrations itself. He proclaims his presence with the eternal sound. He is auspiciousness, stillness, also the thundering, roaring, deep energy of the Naada. (Om is created from the Naada, post here).
Kang – This beej mantra takes away all dangers, duality and poisons. Also grants blessings and boons for positivity and welfare. The enchanting non-dual awareness which controls the power of vibrations.
He is the edge of Time, the boundary till where Time/ Space can exist. He is the fetters which tie the individual soul to fate. He is massive energy at the entrance of the Sushumna. He keeps the Sushumna inaccessible, tightly closed. He is also the fortress of the Eternal. He is the established, fixed, certain, complete, consistent, whole. He is the eternal fiery radiance, always burning. He destroys all illusory enjoyments, pleasures, desires, purposes, longings and also the subjects/ objects of such desires.
(Time or Kaal is relative. We measure time in reference to changes that we see around us. In Jyotish we measure Time by the movement of the Sun, the Moon, the Nakshatra, Jupiter and the time from sun-rise to sun-rise. These are the 5 types of calculations for ‘year’ that we use in Jyotish. Actually there are 9 ways of measuring Time, of these 5 are used in Jyotish. And there is nothing called ‘Time’. Kaal is a matter of observing one type of change against another type of change, it is basically a series of changes. Might write a post on Kaal.)
Tang – This is the beej mantra which grants all material and subtle things required for true prosperity and is always radiant, true, pure and pleasing. The enchanting consciousness controlling the power of vibrations.
He is manifest as a splendrous divine, beautiful, heavenly, auspicious form. Pran, ie vital energies are reined in, inclined towards, course towards, are channelised by, always continuously, perpetually, eternally, by such a Kshetrapal Bhairav.
The third shlok
Lam Lam Lam Lam Vadanatham La La La La lalitam dirgha jivha karalam
Run Run Run rundamalam ravi tama nighatam tamra netram karalam
Nam Nam Nam nagnabhusham pranamata satatam Bhairavam Kshetrapalam. (3)
Lang – This beej mantra indicates the one with the highest radiance covering all including the the sport called creation. Also the enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the single point of the apex. He is the act of creation of vibration and also its cessation. He is the entrance of the Sushumna. He is the brightest shining extent of creation. (Sushumna is the brightest thing you can see, the light of a million suns and the coolness of a million moons is the actual experience here) He is the graceful, delightful game created by desire. He is the deepest aware energy inherent in all vibrations, ie all changes, ie Kaal. He is the unchanging substrate underlying all apparent change. He is the tongue of fire and the terrifying understanding of Time which burns all illusions.
Dhung – This beej mantra indicates the one who destroys the illusion of duality, poison, heat of passion and impulse. The complete, abundant and prosperous one. The one with all strengths and the essence of everything. This beej mantra allows the removal of all troubles and allows one to endure in difficult situations. Also the enchanting awareness controlling the power of vibrations.
His form is obscured. His greatness cannot be precisely described. He is dark, ie he has no attributes which can be described in words. His truth is great, unusual and cannot be exactly determined. (Experiencing him is experiencing that the creation is an illusion. This can be a terrifying thought for spiritual aspirants). He is extraordinary, diffused yet apparent. He is certain, evident, real, extensive, spread all over. He is the form of a strange powerful, tremendous, conscious radiance.
Rung – This beej mantra indicates the one who one who burns, increases internal energy, grants special and unusual benefits and has all possible strengths and is the essence of everything. The enchanting consciousness controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the destroyer of all fake, fraud, artifice, illusory also the gun (post here). He especially destroys the Satva gun (the Raja and Tama are absorbed in Satva again during the course of your spiritual practice. Satva is destroyed by him so that you reach the tri-gunatit avastha, ie Advaita). He removes the darkness which surrounds the internal Sun, ie he provides true aware illumination. He is the third eye, is the depth of the radiant eternal fire burning here. He destroys the illusions of the created worlds with this fire.
Nang – This is the beej mantra indicating the one who is ever still, silent, peaceful. It grants the ability to enjoy the game of creation and also attain Moksh. The enchanting intelligent radiance controlling the power of vibrations.
He is uncovered, ever new, ever fully visible always. Pran, ie vital energies are reined in, inclined towards, course towards, are channelised by, always continuously, perpetually, eternally, by such a Kshetrapal Bhairav.
The fourth shlok,
Vam Vam vayuvegam natajana sadayam Brahma saram param tam
Mam Mam mayi rupam pranamata satatam Bhairavam Kshetrapalam. (4)
Vang –This beej mantra indicates the one who makes everything travel, ie go through its life-cycle in time/ space and also travel towards the Eternal. Also attribute-less, enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the speed of the Pran vital energies, ie he controls the Pran. He is the impulse which drives the Pran to fulfil illusory desires, ie causes changes in the Pran. He also gently bends the Pran within each living being to reach the zenith, ie curves the Pran towards himself. He is kind and compassionate, the essence of the highest divine. He is the main point knowledge and the real meaning of wisdom. He is the energy of consciousness, the substance of intelligence. He is the eternal of the eternal.
(Karma at the very basic is the change in the flow of pran. These changes are caused by intentions. So be very careful about what you intend in life)
Khang –This is the beej mantra for the one who causes tremors, agitations, disturbance, excitement in everything, ie puts everything into motion. Also omnipresent enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations..
He is the one who dissolves, annihilates the three worlds, (Bhuh Bhuvan Svahah) also the three states of Jagruti, Swapna and Sushupti. He is the terrible tremendous radiance of consciousness. He is the one who can be apparently moved, yet is immovable.
Chang –This beej mantra destroys everything , ie self-ego, all living beings, all individual souls, the panch Maha-bhoot (post here). The fierce, terrifying and formidable enchanting awareness controlling the power of vibrations.
He apparently creates this universe through vibrations but he is essentially still. He is apart from the movement of matter, objects, worlds and creation. He is beyond limits, beyond extent, beyond creation, beyond place or position.
Mang –This is the beej mantra indicating the one who is One, Advaita. Also the one consciousness which enchants all rivals and enemies and controls the power of vibrations.
He is the form of Maya, illusion, unreal, conjuring, deception, enchantment. He is ‘not this’. Pran, ie vital energies are reined in, inclined towards, course towards, are channelised by, always continuously, perpetually, eternally, by such a Kshetrapal Bhairav.
Ang Ang Ang Antariksham, pranamata satatam, Bhairavam Kshetrapalam. (5)
Shang –This is the beej mantra which grants all auspicious benefits of positive actions. The most pure auspicious enchanting intelligence controlling the power of vibrations.
He is Om, all mantra, all vibrations, all sound. He is abundance prosperity and every thing. He is the kundalini which has reached its goal. He is awareness. He is dazzling, pure, without attributes, without blemish, beautiful, bright, illumination. He is the perfect and complete radiance of the realization of Moksh.
Mang – This is the beej mantra indicating the one who is One. Also who enchants all rivals and enemies. The enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the greatest superior teacher, the Sat-Guru. He is the one who makes the kundalini free from the muladhar and carries her up along the seven chakra towards himself, the highest point. He is the secret mantra which perfectly and constantly brings the kundalini away from her limited set of lower chakras towards the apex.
Yang –This is the beej mantra for the omnipresent, eternally pure and auspicious one. The enchanting consciousness controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the protector of auspiciousness. He is the lord of all jiv-atma, individual souls. He possesses all prosperity, all worlds, all five mahabhoot all creation. He is the pivot, the pin around which the universes are bound. He is separate from the worlds yet his energy is subtly felt throughout. He is hidden in every bit of existence. This is his game, an amusement for the living beings who inhabit the worlds. He is the understanding of the most highest Intelligence.
Ang – This is the beej mantra indicating the power of attraction. That essence which is always pulling towards the Self. The omnipresent, eternally present, ubiquitous one. The enchanting consciousness controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the awareness pervading the ‘emptiness’ of space. Everything is filled with the consciousness that is him. Pran, ie vital energies are reined in, inclined towards, course towards, are channelised by, always continuously, perpetually, eternally, by such a Kshetrapal Bhairav.
Khang – This beej mantra indicates the one who causes tremors, agitations, disturbance, excitement in everything, ie puts everything into motion. Also the omnipresent enchanting awareness controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the sharp change in perception once you cross over the sword-like sharp boundary of the manifested creation. He is the one who stops the illusion of change. He destroys the concept of ‘division’, ie he is non-dual. He is eternal. The pain which one might feel in knowing that the creation is illusion is immediately converted into the realisation of the Eternal Truth.He is the destroyer of that destroyer Time. He is the end of death. He is without attributes. He is the sharp sword who strongly breaks the illusion of creation.
Kshang – This beej mantra indicates the one knower of the essence who exists in the manifested creation as well in the unmanifested consciousness. The form of the highest flame which radiates true illumination. The enchanting consciousness controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the intense impulse for self-realization which seizes the individual soul, jiv-atma. He intensely burns the illusions around the jiv-atma. He completely destroys the concept of individual soul, ie the jiv-atma is completely consumed in his violent irresistible force and is completely absorbed in him. He is the blazing, fiery, burning flame of awareness, intelligence and consciousness.
Houng – This beej mantra indicates the one whose essence is the power and beauty of sound, speech, words, vibrations. Serene, resplendent and pure controller of everything. The one without attributes. The enchanting intelligence controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the roaring thunderous consciousness which creates the Om, ie creation. His presence is announced by the involution of the Om into the even more magnificent Naada. In your spiritual practice, he becomes evident when the Om is absorbed back into the Naada. His denseness, solidity, is manifested only when space/ time is destroyed. The enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
Vang – This is the beej mantra for the one who makes everything travel, ie go through its life-cycle in time/ space and then towards the Eternal. Also the attribute-less enchanting consciousness controlling the power of vibrations.
He plays the game of creation by apparently creating several living beings. He has devised this sport for the amusement of these living beings. Pran, ie vital energies are reined in, inclined towards, course towards, are channelised by, always continuously, perpetually, eternally, by such a Kshetrapal Bhairav.
The seventh shlok,
Sam Sam Sam siddhiyogam sakala gunamukham devadevam prasannam
Sang – This is the beej mantra indicating the one true reason for everything, the one who describes everything. The enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the supreme union of understanding, fulfilment, prosperity, intellect, fortune etc with enlightenment. He establishes the complete attainment of perfection. He is the source of the three gun, Satva, Raja, Tama. He is the vibrations which create the material world. He is the divinity which energises all sense organs. He is the auspicious bright Light which is the source of all radiance. He is lucid, serene, true, pure, pleasing, kind, just, distinct, tranquil and gracious.
Pang – This is the beej mantra indicating the one who destroys all forms of alternatives, duality, troubles, blocks and illusions. The enchanting awareness controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the source of Time, ie he causes the illusion of change and the ability to sense this illusion. He is the opening where the kundalini resides. The centre of strength. He has within him, men, vibrations, worlds, Suns (post here) etc who are all destroyed and re-created in a cyclic manner. His true form is veiled behind the three eyes (right – Sun, left – Moon and third eye – Agni).
Aing – This is the beej mantra for the one absolutely pure and faultless essence. All the individual souls are dependant on this one essence. The enchanting aware energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the owner of all possible prosperity and auspiciousness. He has dominion, supremacy, sway over all. He is uninterrupted, perpetual, constant and eternal. He takes away fear as surely as a sharp sword can cut. He removes the biggest disease ie ignorance. He is filled with radiance. He is the complete, strong, auspicious, perfect, full, entire, contented, abundant, excellent Emperor of all. He is the unknowable cipher. He is always in his own form. The individual soul, jiv-atma is a form of His own splendour.
Roung – This is the beej mantra which burns, increases internal energy, grants special and unusual benefits. Also indicates the ultimate controller whose essence is the power and beauty of sound, speech, words ie vibrations. The enchanting consciousnesses controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the original untamed, unsullied, pure form. He is the formidable fierce irresistible Radiance. He is the fire and also the cold. Pran, ie vital energies are reined in, inclined towards, course towards, are channelised by, always continuously, perpetually, eternally, by such a Kshetrapal Bhairav.
The eighth shlok,
Han Han Han hansayanam hasitakalahakam muktayogatahasam
Hang – This is the beej mantra of the one who is the essence of everything. The power of vibrations. The pure, unmodified source. The enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He rides the Hamsa mantra, ie achievable after the use of the Ajapa mantra. He has surpassed, defeated all the sources of turbulence. All sources of disagreements, imbalances, arguments, fights, quarrels have been effortlessly neutralised by him. All bindings and associations have been released by him. He scorns the concepts of fake, fraud, illusion, tricks, action, attachments, etc. All unions and combinations dissolve in a easy manner by him.
Dhang – This is the beej mantra which destroys the illusion of duality, poison, heat of passion and impulse. indicates the one who is complete, abundant and prosperous. Having all types of strengths and being the essence of everything. The enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is in the form of the guide seen at the third eye, conducting the individual soul, jiv-atma along a twisted route, towards the highest of the high point towards the root of all creation. He finally decisively unites the jiv-atma who has take a single pointed fixed pledge to realise itself with the highest apex experience ie the Advaita.
Tang – This is the beej mantra which grants all material and subtle things required for true prosperity and is always radiant, true, pure and pleasing. The enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the sound of the sword which cuts off the sense of individual ego and limited self-pride. He dissolves the Om back into the Naada. He dissolves the three Gun back into the perfect base of everything that he himself is. He takes away all illusory desires, impulses, intentions etc. He removes all pride, sense of self-ego, arrogance and individual ego.
Bhrung – This beej mantra finally silences the individual self-ego. It illuminates the eternal in the living beings. It alleviates the illusion of separation. It grants eternal calmness, peace and contentment. It is formidable strength which strikes terror in all inauspiciousness. Its energy encourages the internal flame, increases the internal fire and grants special and unusual benefits. Also the enchanting energy controlling the power of vibrations.
He is the lord of all existence, all individual souls, all living beings, the five pancha-mahabhoot, all worlds, all creation and everything. Pran, ie vital energies are reined in, inclined towards, course towards, are channelised by, always continuously, perpetually, eternally, by such a Kshetrapal Bhairav.
I bow down to that one who is the lord of all individual soul, jiv-atma-s, the five mahabhoot-s, all property, all worlds, etc. The holder of all that there is.
I bow down to that one who is the possessor of all that has concluded.
I bow down to that one who is the destroyer of all illusions of change. Time is measured in terms of change.
(Change means that there are two things, two states ie duality. He is the destroyer of the illusion of duality.)
I bow to the one who wears a garlands made of pure awareness and the conscious energy of vibrations.
Namah Kalika premalolam karalam
I bow down that one who out of love (for the seeker, spiritual aspirant), lights up the dark blackness visible at the third eye by a flash of conscious lightening.
(Thus the Kundalini enters the cavernous opening of the Sushumna and in one sweep merges with the Bhairav at the Sahasrara. Thus destroys the illusions of creation and realises the non-dual, Advaita.)
Namo Bhairavam Kashikam Kshetrapalam
I bow down to that one fearless one, the most high, eternal Non-dual awareness. The protector of the highest awareness. The sustainer of the eternal consciousness. The self illuminated, Radiant. The Advaita.
(Kashi when used in the esoteric context is the third eye. The Ajnya chakra is the Kashi-kshetra of the body you reside in. The individual jiv-atma resides here in an ashtapadmadala chakra ‘behind’ the Ajnya chakra or the Kuthastha (post here))
Namah means more than just ‘bow down’! This word means something like the Ultimate power which is the paradox of illusion and wisdom united together. Depth of stillness and flowing movement together. The eternal unborn one in solitude.
I sometimes recite this beautiful Teekshna Danshtra Bhairavashtak endlessly. Listen to it on a loop for days from time to time. It enchants my mind, silences it, removes all negativity, energises my soul. I was doing this for the past week, immersing myself in it, so thought of writing about it in brief.
(I have used images of the Shivlingam in this post. Again, the Shivlingam is not connected to the personification of the Tamogun. The Shivlingam is a visual moorti or sign or mark used for the Advaita.)
There was a question “Is that the reason why the Veda samhitas have absence of some key devas and deities like Ganesh , Kali , mahavidyas , avatars of Vishnu. They have been lost or is it by design that rishis want us to explore them via indra?” and the answer became too long so posted it as a post.
A simple question and here is a longish answer.
First a bit about Sanskrit, the language in which all these texts, Ved, Vednant, Puran etc are written. One thing you have to remember is that Sanskrit, Devbhasha Samskrutam has no proper nouns. Am sure this sounds odd to you. So, a brief explanation,
Eg This sentence, ‘I am Samantha’. In this sentence ‘Samantha’ is a proper noun. It is a girl’s name and by this sentence you understand that I am a girl named ‘Samantha’. The word Samantha has no meaning in itself. Thus it is a proper noun. That is the end of it, no more meanings here.
Eg This sentence ‘I am Manish’. Here Manish is a Sanskrit word. It has a meaning in itself. Every word in Sanskrit has a meaning. Every word can be used as an adjective to describe something. If you think of ‘Manish’ as a noun, then you will understand that I am boy named ‘Manish’. But if you think of ‘Manish’ as an adjective then you will think that I am ‘someone who can be described as Manish’. There is a very big difference in these two levels of understanding. The Sanskrit word ‘Manish’ is a samas/ compound word, it is expanded to ‘Mansaya Isha iti Manish’. The simplest translation of this compound word would be ‘the Highest God of the Mind is Manish’. So our sentence ‘I am Manish’ completely changes its meaning depending on ‘Manish’ being understood as a proper noun or adjective.
Sanskrit is a highly esoteric language, it has layers of meanings. Understanding it depends on the capacity of the person who is reading it. Enlightened Rishi-s wrote these texts so there are secrets within secrets. That is why I always say never read Sanskrit books which have been translated into other languages. Or if you read them never believe that the translator has got the correct meaning of what the Rishi actually wrote. Best is to learn Sanskrit yourself.
Now if I write this same sentence in Sanskrit. ‘Aham Manishh asmi’, then here is what you get. ‘I, self-radiant, truth, certainly, surely, indeed, verily am the wisdom, reflection, intelligence, idea, desire, conception, power, master, strength, the Lord of the Mind.’ This is the power of Devbhasha Samskrutam. Now tell me can you ever trust ‘translations’ of Sanskrit texts?
So, if you can, think of our deities names as adjectives. Shankar means happiness. Shiva is the auspicious one. Ganapati means the energy which enters the individual souls and causes change. Nandi is intelligence. Laxmi is the one who has a recognisable sign. Sarasvati means the one who flows. Ganga is the one who moves very fast. Krishna means the unknowable blackness which pulls. Ram is happiness. Dev is radiance. Bhagwan is the one who has all auspicious qualities. Each of these Sanskrit words has several meanings in addition so every deity of Sanatan Dharma is more like a collection of attributes. The deities are not humans, even though we have got used to seeing them as humans. Deities in Hinduism are pure consciousness defined by some attributes. Their names are not proper nouns but are adjectives. Think of them in this way and you will get more insight into their real natures. (I wrote on meaning of the Navavarna mantra post here)
Now what is Sanatan Dharma/ Hinduism? To understand Dharma you have to understand the Shatdarshan shastra. I have written a post here on these 6 darshan shastra-s. It is not the work of one lifetime, but you carry on whatever you have learnt into your next lives.
Our ‘God’ is the highest conscious intelligence, non-dual, Paramatma, Parabrahma, Paramtattva, Nirvishesh Brahma, Advaita etc. This is the key deity of Sanatan Dharma, the only ‘deity’. You yourself are this Parabrahma. So essentially you worship your Self.
The Ved (Ved, Brahmana, Aranyaka, Upanishad),are the final authority for everything in our Dharma. The crowning glory of the Ved are the Vedanta, which deal with the Advaita in great clarity. The 10 major Upanishads with the Mandukya Upanishad occupy the highest place. The beautiful Mandukya has only 12 lines about the Om and the Paramtattva.
So now about Om. Om is also not the actual Paramtattva. Om is the nearest thing to it. Something like a ‘Moorti’ of the Advaita. A Moorti that you see in temples is made from stone, metal etc. But here you are required to visualise a Moorti made of conscious energy. Om is a Moorti of the Paramatma. You have to visualise Om with this intention and understanding. This is difficult for beginners on the spiritual path.
The course work has to suit to the student. You cannot teach a 1st std child, the syllabus of a PhD. Ved and the Vedanta is PhD course work.
In Sanatan Dharma the main texts are the Ved (Ved, Brahmana, Aranyaka, Upanishad), these have the highest validity, they are the source of everything. Then are the Itihas, histories, eg Ramayan, Mahabharat, the actual incidents are given in detail. They also have philosophy ie attaining Moksh and practical stuff like how to manage a kingdom (ever read the original Mahabharat or Ramayan, it is much much more than a simple story).These Itihas conform to the Vedic principles. Then we have the Puran-s. In these additional historical incidents are given, more philosophy, more practical stuff etc. And anything written here has to conform to the Vedic concepts and the broad outline of the Itihas. The 18 Puran-s written by Ved-Vyas are given more prominence in this category. And there are the several commentaries, Bhashya, treatises, practical work, more philosophy etc written on these texts by enlightened Guru-s like Adi Shankaracharya and others. This broadly is the corpus of texts available in Sanatan Dharma. Regular Hindus never read these texts, unfortunately.
All Shastra, all pujas, all yajnyas, all mantras are secretly hidden in the Ved. It is a huge huge repository of knowledge. eg the entire Shri Vidya which deals with the worship of the Devi Lalitatripursundari, the Maha-vidya-s etc is from the Ved. It is one of the many Vidya-s mentioned here. Another Vidya is the Chakshushi, I have written about it briefly in this post. All these Vidya-s will take you to the Parabrahma if used in the correct manner. Jyotish is also a Vidya.
These different texts describe the same Reality in different perspectives in different words which are suited to people of different mindsets. eg If you read the texts on Devi Lalita, it is given that the Devi just looked at her toe-nails and the 10 Vishnu-avatar-s manifested from here, did their work and again got reabsorbed in her. This is obviously different from what we popularly know about the Vishnu-avatar-s. In the Shiv Puran, there is a Shiv Gita which Bhagwan Shiv narrated to Shri Ram at Rameshwar before his war with Ravan. eg Bhagwat Gita, most people believe that this is the only Gita, the highest teaching. But if you open the Ishwar Gita, it is very similar to Bhagwat Gita. If you read the Shiv Gita, this is also similar and also has a Vishwaroop darshan. Then you read the Anu-gita which Krishna taught to Arjun after the war, and this is very different from the Bhagwat Gita which he taught first. There is a vast ocean of philosophy, spiritual practices, teachings, discourses in Sanatan Dharma. If you randomly read from here and there, you will get extremely confused.
In the past and even now, Dharma is facing a lot of challenges. The Dev-Asur Sangram, ie the constant war between radiant and dull energies is always on at different levels. It is still going on now and will always occur. Sometimes the Dev will have the upper hand and sometimes then Asur might seem to be winning.
There are numerous examples where our temples, libraries, universities and their custodian Brahmins were very viciously destroyed. The horror in Kashmir where specifically Tantra and its genuine practitioners were systematically wiped out over the last 500yrs or so. The oldest physical book of Valmiki Ramayan was burnt when the Britishers burnt the libraries in Kolkata about 200yrs ago. Tipu burnt ancient libraries, manuscripts and their custodian Brahmins in South India about 300yrs ago. More insidious was that the invaders injected nonsense in our books and are still doing it. People who do not follow Sanatan Dharma are writing translations of these texts with the express purpose of altering their meanings.
It is difficult to find authentic texts and more difficult to find a real Guru. Also we have forgotten our mother-tongue Sanskrit, thus are a highly confused directionless lot.
Back to Om. Vedanta clearly states the Om to be theParamtattva. Focus on the Om and you will gain that realization. The Ved describe Om and how it has manifested the universe from itself. Om is the first vibration, the first movement. The main deities described are the 33 koti devata ie the 8 Vasu, 11 Rudra,12 Aditya, Prajapati and Indra. They further create the universe and everything else in it. These are the backbone of the creation and they actually exist in our backbones, in the Sushumna nadi.
You create your own universe. This concept is also rather difficult for beginners to comprehend. I have put posts on using energy consciously, try doing some of these exercises to actually experience how you can create. Once you succeed at an ‘energy experiment’, your perception changes forever.
Indra as well as all the other Vedic deities are pure energy. They are not human figures. Now for the students who could not comprehend the highly esoteric Ved-s, more human looking deities was introduced in the Puran-s. All the energies were given human forms. Prakruti was given a Moorthi of the beautiful Devi Lalitatripursundari. The tri-Gun, Satva, Raja, Tama were given human forms so we have the Tri-dev etc. All these Puranic deities are also conscious energies, but described in more human terms so that we can relate to them more easily.
But every shloka, every stotra, every sukta in this vast ocean of Sanatan Dharma describes only the Advaita. This might be difficult for beginners to believe but eg. every one of the 1000 names in the Vishnu sahastranama are ultimately dedicated to the Parameshwar, from the first ‘Vishnu’ to the last ‘Sarvapraharanayudh’ all are linked to this Parabrahma. The Dasha-Mahavidyas are the energies of the 10 directions, the intelligence of space, their essential nature is also the Paramtattva (post here). Now open the Devi Atharvasheersha, She says ‘Aham Brahma swaroopini’ in the first line. If you open the Ganapati athavasheersha, it says that Ganapati is the ‘pratekshya tat tvam asi’ in the first line itself. ‘Tat tvam asi’ is a Mahvakya of the Ved. So all deities are essentially Parabrahma.
There is only one thing that is worthy of being known. That is Parabrahma and we do it through his Moorthi, Om. You are Om, I am Om, we worship Om and whatever we do or see is all Om. Eg In all stories/ allegories, you see that the Tri-dev are generally in Dhyan or in deep contemplation. Who are they doing Dhyan of? Who is the essential consciousness within them? In the Puran-s, it is mentioned that the Tri-dev did intense Sadhana to get to this position that they enjoy. Whose sadhana did they do? To become aware as ‘Indra’, 100 ashva-medh yajnyas are necessary, who are they dedicated to? So just think, to become aware as ‘Om’, what level of intensity will be necessary?
In our pantheon of deities and the humungous mass of stories/allegories, if you get into who was whose husband, whose wife, who was the father, who was the son, who came first and who came later, you will get very confused. The Ved say this same thing, the serious aspirant must focus on the ultimate reality, not on anything else.
You should not think of yourself as Indra or Vishnu or Shankar etc or any of the Vedic or Puranic deities. Think of yourself as Om, the Parabrahma. Try to explore and locate that Supreme consciousness within.
And finally to sum up this discussion.
Do what your Sat-Guru teaches you to do. Practice under the guidance of a Guru. Follow what he tells you. This is why the Sat-Guru in Sanatan Dharma is so essential. Without the blessings of the Guru you cannot do anything and cannot realise anything.
Eg if your Guru teaches you from the Bhagwat Gita of the Mahabharat. You will think of Shri Krishna as your adored deity. First as a Vishnu-avtar, then as you go deeper into him you will realise that the Gita talks about the Advaita. The real Krishna, who ‘pulls’ you inwards is the Advaita. The ‘unknowable blackness’ is again a negation of this created universe. Your Guru will help you experience this essential attribute of ‘Krishna’.
Eg if your Guru teaches you to worship Devi Lalitatripursundari. You will worship the Shri Chakra/Meru with mantras. Initially you might think that you are worshipping a beautiful Devi wearing red sari, jewellery, 4 hands etc. You might call her Mother, Maai, Aai, Mataji, Maiiyaa, etc but later you realise that her name Maa is most apt. I have written this post on this word ‘Maa’, it is a negation, essentially means ’No’. Her subtlest nature is a resounding negation of the creation you see around you. She is Advaita. This realisation will come at the highest levels of your sadhana.
Eg if your Guru teaches you Gayatri puja. You might think that you are worshipping a beautiful Devi with 5-faces etc with her Gayatri mantra. But later as the mantra pulls you inwards you realise that the ‘Savitra’ in the Gayatri mantra refers to the internal illumination. Your are worshipping your own Luminous Self. And this is the Advaita.
Eg if the Guru starts off with the pure Vedanta. This is a rare Guru and an equally rare student. You will then go directly to the Upanishad. He will teach you ‘na iti, na iti’, not this not this. Again the negation of the Maya of creation and the single pointed focus on the pure Om. Read about the Om, practice Om, experience Om and thus the Paramtattva whose Moorti Om is.
A Guru teaches what he has achieved, ie he can teach only what he has the ‘adhikar’ to teach. ie, a History teacher will teach History not Math and a 1st std teacher will not teach PhD students. If a Guru has practiced the Gayatri mantra he will guide you with the Gayatri mantra. If he visualises the Gayatri as a Devi in a red sari then he will teach you this same visualisation. If he has visualised the Gayatri as the Advaita then he will be able to guide you till this final destination. When you get blessings of a Sat-guru, the Atma-jnyani Mahapurush, the Jivan-mukt, ie the Parabrahma only then will you attain Moksh.
So choose your Guru very carefully. Guru is a force which pulls you towards your Self. And there are several pretenders who claim to have got enlightenment or claim to converse with the deities etc. Evaluate carefully before accepting someone as your Guru. If you do not have anyone around, try to follow some daily routine (post here on daily pujas). Get your own intention moving, desire to know your own reality. If you desire it, it will happen. When the student is ready the Guru will manifest.
So Dear Reader, this is a rather rambling answer to your question, see if it helps you in some way.
Devbhasha Samskrutam aka Sanskrit is the original language of this universe. It derives from OM, the seed of this universe we exist in. Rishi Panini ‘saw’ its grammar from Akash and wrote it. Sanskrit is linked to your DNA and is the perfectly arranged language of Light. It cannot be translated as there is nothing you can translate it to. And just because someone has learnt to read/ write it, does not mean that he has understood the texts of Sanatan Dharma or its texts, Sanskrit has layers and layers.
A simple example. There is this very common Sanskrit shlok in the praise of Shri Ganapati,
OM Agajanana padmarkam, Gajananam aharnisham, anek dantam bhaktanam, ek dantam upasmahe OM
It is generally translated as ‘Ganapati is the beloved son of Devi Parvati. Her face lights up with love for him and thus that radiance falls on him. Similarly the blessings of Ganapati fall on his many devotees who worship him with devotion.’
The pictures I have put in this post are of the soft-grey colored Shri Dhoomraketu Ganapati. This is his form in the current Kaliyug. He destroys the Ahamkara, self-ego, sense of individual ego and thus grants Moksh.
And this shlok also means this,
Om – is the seed of this universe, the pranav-mantra.
Agajaa would mean ‘the child of the mountain’, ie the Kundalini rests on the highest energy point of the Mooladhar chakra which is linked to the Pruthvi tattva. Kundalini or Devi Shakti is also called Parvati, the daughter of the mountain/ Parvat Himalaya.
Anan means face, access, door, entrance and its also indicates non-movement, non-animation etc. The Kundalini at rest is the Agajaa-annan. She rests/ sleeps with her ‘face’ blocking the entrance of the Sushumna.
Padma as I have mentioned in an earlier post, is the conscious energy of time-space and the rest of the dimensions. It also means lotus, chakras, a serpent, sinous movement, an elephant with its massiveness and can also indicate a complete merging.
Arka is the light of the internal sun of self-awareness experienced at the end of the twelve chakras, at the Dwadashanat. The ‘Light of the Self’.
Gaj-anan is the opening of the Sushumna located at the Mooladhar chakra. I have mentioned somewhere that Gajanan/ Ganapati is the deity whose permission is necessary for gaining access to the Sushumna. (Deity means conscious intelligence, there is no classical ‘god’ in Sanantan Dharma)
Gaja is earth tattva, the foundation from which the Kundalini will make her move. Or also the solidity, steadiness of your spiritual practice.
Aharnisham means continuously, constantly, steadily, day/ night. But it also means the illusion of the individual soul/ Jivatma being separate from the Parabrahma.
Anek-dantam-bhaktanam is ‘a separated point’. The best way I can describe this is something like the school physics experiment of interference of light waves. A single point is viewed as being divided into multiple points. The same point is ‘divided’ into many. How can a point be divided? Ask your physics teacher if he can explain. Or ask a quantum scientist and be amazed when he speaks of Sanatan Dharma.
Ek-danta means one single point or focussed concentration or the Ultimate realisation. Or the original point which is perceived as ‘a separated point’. The non-dual Advaita which is perceived as multiplicity.
Upasmahe is the verb, the past perfect tense of Upasna. This word has several meanings, but the most interesting meaning is to throw off, or to remove firmly. So this will mean the action of removing the illusion of the multiple points from the one single point. It is in the past perfect tense of the verb. So this action has already been completed. A paradox.
So this simple seeming shlok/ verse has completely different hidden depths. A real genuine Guru would be able to add more meanings and perhaps also grant the experience of this Shloka. See what you make of it?
So to address the question that someone asked me.
How genuine are the translated Sanskrit works? The answer is that someone understands something as per his level of understanding. And understanding depends on the level of experience. And experiencing Devbhasha Sanskrutam requires contemplation. You have to do continuous Dhyan over it to experience it. eg When you are doing your Dhyan with the ‘Soham’ mantra you are experiencing, understanding it. More you meditate on Sanskrit more deeply will you experience/understand it. Sanskrit is a palimpsest, layers and layers of meanings. So if you choose to read a translated book, choose after evaluating the translator well. And at least read the original Sanskrit shlokas/text if you can.
Adi Shankaracharya is the Jagat-guru, the Guruof 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 AdvaitaNirvishesh 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 realisationin its entirety.
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 four Math-s for the 4 Ved-s in the four corners of Bharat. In these Math-s the Ved-s are worshipped ie taught and learnt, pure knowledge. 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-Guruof 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. 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.
I listen to the Brahma Jnyanavali Mala once a day.
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 illusionaryworld. 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 Dhyansystematically 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.
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!
I was asked to write something on Tarot so I wrote one post on how to interpret a relationship spread here. I am using brief straightforward meanings, not esoteric ones, as these posts are meant for you to get interested and if possible learn Tarot. I suggest, “The Crowley Tarot: The Handbook to the Cards” by Hajo Banzhaf. (Later if you can, do read books written by Aleister Crowley to get the esoteric stuff. Then your readings will gain more depth. And of course practice is essential.)
I really started learning Thoth Tarot after the most emotionally hurtful incident in my life. Someone (a brother) whom I love deeply (still) and consider to be my home, argued with me to such levels that I left his house literally crying. Despite knowing Jyotish, despite knowing that this was to happen today, I had to go through that event. Some karma cannot be avoided. Words, either said aloud or left unsaid, damage relationships beyond repair (which then have to be made up in future lives). That was the lowest emotional point of my life. So rather than feeling upset all the time, I decided to brush up on Tarot. I like Aleister Crowley’s horoscope, a genius and his Thoth Tarot is magic.
The Thoth has a visual impact which no other deck has. The esoteric symbols on the cards trigger things from the sub-conscious mind/ inner self and bring forward the exact information needed. Every card is intricate and intense. When you shuffle and spread out the cards, the energy of the moment makes you focus on some aspects of the cards which you then interpret. The Reader reads the Tarot from his own perspective and the energy of the moment drives him. The client should not take a photograph of the spread to another Reader and ask him to interpret it. If the client wishes for a second opinion he should ask the other Reader to shuffle and lay out the cards again. The cards modulate themselves as per the Reader’s capacity. Tarot indicates the truth of the matter. If you have a card in front of you and remember something, it is because the card wanted to show you this image. You cannot ‘unsee’ whatever flashed in your mind. The impact is visual and on the energy levels. You are made to understand something about the situation, you may like it or not.
I am emphasising this as Thoth Tarot cards are magic, you are shown what you need to see. The cards have an intelligence of their own. Aleister Crowley had performed occult rituals over the cards and infused them with some things ‘magic’. (I have seen only one other deck with such energies, the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot with the energies of the African gods infused in them, ultra-intense, handle-with-care.)
Thoth Tarot should ideally be used as a tool for self-development. Here I am sharing a reading I did for myself a few days ago. It was my Sat-guru’s 115th birth anniversary and I was missing him very much. He is always available to me at every moment, but sometimes I wish I could talk/see him live like earlier. I use the Tarot to talk to him, I like seeing the cards he shows me.
So for my blessing/ guidance, I got the Ace of Cups, The Lovers, The Star.
Ace of Cupsis the burst of Divine Love. My Sat-Guru poured over me the highest benediction of his compassion, his infinite kindness. Rejuvenation and healing (I was going through a karma from my past, my astral bodywas suffering). An assurance that my sorrows will be converted to spiritual love (Ketuin Sagittarius bringing painful karmic stuff from my past, with the associated grief). A reminder to increase my spiritual practice. To trust him, the Highest Intelligence and let him fill my heart with that what he can give, ie the essence of the Non-Dual. This card brought genuine joy to my soul.
The Lovers Trump no.6. I have briefly mentioned about the Lovers card in this post.But this reading is about self-discovery so the interpretation will be slightly different. This meant that he, the Eternal Intelligence, loves me (I was very unloved at that time). I will find my deepest one-one relationship with my own self. I have to focus on what I desire to achieve it. A reminder to increase my spiritual practice, my Soham mantra, to walk my path with conviction. The strength to resolve my own internal dualities (I was deeply conflicted internally). He granted me the energy of unconditional love and the ability to choose what to do with this energy. (There is always some free will, even if the options are limited, you can still choose to some extent. This is the essence of the Game of Creation, Lila, everyone chooses to either create more karma or to stop creating karma)
The Star,Trump no. 17. I have written about the Star card in this post. It shows the Prakruticreating the manifested universes from the Eternal energy. The realised souls depicted by butterflies are shown moving out from the created worlds. Both evolution/Pravrutti and involution/Nivrutti is depicted beautifully. The energy of this card is Hope. To give someone Hope is the greatest gift possible. In the spiritual context, I was again told in the gentlest possible way to concentrate on the universal love. To trust my Sat-guru and that I will achieve my deepest desire. He knows the difficult times I have gone through in my past and he encourages me to be happy. Things are brighter as he will guide me to Myself. (The Star is in sequence after the no. 16 Tower, Tower indicates complete destruction. After complete destruction, Hope arises).
Life is karma, if you have given out love you will get it back. If you have hurt someone, it will also be returned to you. No one is exempt from this law.
For me, ‘past’ does not mean just this life’s past. The past months since the 26th Dec solar eclipse have been quite traumatic as it is. But I also remember so very many of my past lives, work, incidents, debts, decisions the repercussions, my deaths etc with the emotional/ visual contexts. I know several of my past identities, my families, the places I was born/lived/died, my several past names, Gurumohini, Putala, Jagat, Jan-Prosper etc. Some truly horrific things which happened to me which very few suffer through, intense pain. I see my own mistakes due to which others suffered, regrets. My actions taken in in good faith rebounding on others and on myself, betrayals and hurts. Someone whom I loved with all my heart, I could do anything for him/her, but possibly he/she loved me too but never could trust me, unrequited love. Someone whom I trusted betrayed me and my people, so much to make up to so many people. I know these people from back then and also who they are now around me, new faces but with the same aura/energy.
I have a very powerful Ketu in my current life, he grants me all my psychic and intellectual abilities. More than my superbly placed ascendant lord, more than my Yogkarak, Ketu rules over my life. His energies always trigger stuff from the Past for me, the unbalanced stuff which I have to balance now, I have no option on this. This unrolling of karma started in real earnest when I met my husband in my Ketu-Rahu-Rahu Vimshottari period. And became even more intense when I met a very significant someone, my soul touching love from several lives, during my Venus-Rahu-Ketu Vimshottari period.
Some people think seeing past lives is exciting and romantic, believe me it is not. It is an unfinished business which you have to complete now. Causes severe turmoil on the emotional, astral, physical levels. You rarely see events from the past which made you happy. You are always shown your unfinished work, the karmic debts you owe others. It is karma demanding rebalance and it gets very exhausting.
My Sat-Guru was a Jivan-Mukt, he had realised the Nirvishesh Brahma so was Parabrahma himself. He is the pure Advaita and every guidance/ blessing he gives can be nothing but the Advaita, even if I tell him to speak in the language of the Thoth tarot. So when I ask my Sat-guru and pull out cards with the intention that this is his guidance and blessing, I do get truly magical cards. The very act of pulling them out and seeing them changes the energies around me. Hopefully this 3 card intense reading, ending in the Star Trump is my Sat-guru telling me that the past is truly over.
Every divination tool teaches you to trust the higher power, the inner self. Make sense of what is happening to you. Helps letting go, leaving things to karma, removing yourself from that binding of hurt. Trust the Sat-guru the Advaita. I had written about forgiveness. Sometimes in life you are put in such situations where you are required to forgive someone who does not understand what hurt his words/actions did to you. If you learn a divination method do use it as a means for self-development. Try to remain dispassionate during the reading so that you can reach the truth of the situation. Avoid pre-conceived ideas during this process of self-discovery. If you at least know why things are like this, maybe you can reconcile yourself better to the situation.
‘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.
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 aurais 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-gurupicked 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.
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.
There were several questions, I have sort of combined them in this post.
Someone asked me why I use Aleister Crowley’s birth details as my blog’s sample chart. The reason is, one he is dead, I don’t like using living peoples charts as study material on a public forum. Then his birth data is reasonably accurate and his life-events match the chart. His chart has so very many significant positions which can be used in discussions. He had a very happening life, the events are documented. How he was first involved with the material and then evolved into the spiritual is also clear. And I love using his Thoth tarotdeck. You know a man by his work and this deck is his crowning achievement. It is a work of art, philosophy, magic, the cards are brimming with so much energy. I have used this deck for my personal development, as a quick fix, for setting energies right, as a tool in magics, divination, to make events move faster etc in so many ways.
But what really made me appreciate him the most, is his this quote, “The mind of man is obsessed and blinded by geometry which blocks his spiritual vision”. The most significant sentence ever which cemented my opinion that Crowley was very highly aware of the material and the highest spiritual. He must have studied Vedanta in depth and experienced the deepest stuff to have made such a profound statement. This philosophy is very clear in the Star Trump card of his Thoth deck.
This is a very beautiful card made using Egyptian philosophy. But here is the Vedic part of this card. The Prakruti creates the manifested universe. If you observe the cups in her hands. The upper cup represents the divine spiritual, the energy has wavy and straight lines, no crystalline geometry. The cup is golden in color, it represents the inner Sun, the Eternal Divine. She is pouring this energy on her own body. The lower cup has crystals coming out of it which are settling around her feet, ie geometry has taken form. The lower cup is silver colored, it represents the Moon, the illusion, a mere reflection of the divine Eternal. The crystals indicate the creation of the manifested world. Divine energy flows over her and as it flows down and out, it crystallises and becomes a fixed geometry of the universe. (This same thing is clearly mentioned in Sankhya philosophy.) At the right lower corner of the card are butterflies, which represent realised Souls who have come out of the geometry bound worlds.
This fixed geometry is our Shri-chakra. The Shri-chakra pervades the manifested universe in its several dimensions. (I have experienced this hyper-dimensional form of Shri Chakra in Dhyan, so will you if you focus on your own self) The Shri-chakra is the rule by which the worlds are created, exist, evolve and finally end. The body/ mind of your current incarnation is a part of the geometry of the universes. But your soul is the Divine, it is beyond geometry. That is why this quote “The mind of man is obsessed and blinded by geometry which blocks his spiritual vision” is so beautiful. As long as you are obsessed by your mind/ body and the things of the material worlds you will always remain blind to the splendour of the pure Soul. If you believe that you are the mind/ body you will never realise that you are the Soul. The Soul is not a part of this world’s geometry, it is pure Advaita. The body/ mind has been created for one single purpose, that is to go through karma. The body /mind is this crystalline geometry! The Soul is not linked to any karma or anything of the manifested universe in any way. The Soul is beyond geometry. The Soul is beyond Prakruti. It is the Advaita, the Nirvishesh Brahma itself.
Now we are astrologers, we read charts. The chart is also this same fundamental geometry. If you have read my earlier posts, the planets and the signs are all inside your Sushumna nadi. Each chakra is linked to one planet and the signs ruled by it. And obviously each chakra in your body is a part of the Shri-chakra itself. So these planets and signs are also a part of the geometry of the universe and under the rule of Prakruti. When you read the horoscope you are reading geometry ie only the mind/ body. You cannot read the Soul from the chart. But you can gauge how deeply is the Soul’s light is veiled by the geometry of the mind/ body. ie is the chart’s energy directed towards enjoyment of the material or is the chart’s energy more directed towards tearing the veil of illusion around the Soul. A chart can do only one of these two things at a time. It cannot be spiritual as well as materialistic at the same time!
When the mind get obsessed with desires linked to the chakras, ie geometry, the energy flow in this part of the Sushumna is distorted. This distortion can be ‘seen’ as actual snakes hissing at you from within your chakras while you do Dhyan. Or microscopic bits of floating black energy in your Sushumna. Unless this distortion is cleared out the Kundalini cannot rise up in the Sushumna. This is what Crowley indicates by ‘spiritual vision’. You ‘see’ all this when you focus on your third eye chakra.
If you study charts where the spiritual potential is very high, you will see that the karma of the body/ mind do not affect this person. He goes through all the karmic events (prarabdha karma) but he is completely disconnected from all this happening. He has understood that he is not the body/ mind, he understands that he is the Soul and is actively working towards his actual Realisation. Such a person will never ask you any materialistic question like, ‘when will I get married’ or worry about things of the material worlds. Every act he does will be for spiritual progress. If he does a puja it will be for gaining Himself not for making his marriage work! He knows that all this is an illusion and his objective is to go beyond it. He will know very clearly what his goal is and he will not waver in the least from it. He will not create new bindings of marriage or business which have the potential to create trouble in his chosen path. Materialistic stuff is meaningless for him. A serious aspirant knows that given the least bit of scope, material life can easily overpower spiritual energy. (Read the Vivekchudamani by Adi-Shankaracharya).Prakruti does not let the aspirant pass upwards through her until she has tested him to the limit. For such high level aspirants, the horoscope is generally meaningless as the joy/ sadness represented by it does not affect him deeply. The physical events will occur as per the horoscope but they will not affect him in the least. But he will remain alert about creating new karmic tangles, will avoid such situations assiduously
So as per Crowley, you are blind to the Divine as long as the mind is enchanted by the illusory geometry. The crystalline geometry hides and distorts the light of the Self. The mind itself is a product of the geometry! So no wonder it is enmeshed in the crystalline Prakruti. To dissolve the Mind is the goal of all spiritual practice. Only when the mind dissolves does the veil of the crystalline geometry dissolve. This is called the Unmani-avastha. After this, your progress towards Yourself is faster.
But for your general clients, who are quite fascinated by the geometry of the universes, the horoscope’s events will affect them on all levels. They will be happy/ sad and create more karma etc as per the chart. The divine spark exists but it is hidden behind the geometry. So for your routine clients all this spiritual stuff is meaningless. And the material stuff is paramount. So if they ask you, ‘when will I get married?’, do tell them the correct time, match their charts and also tell them to do pujas and remedies for having a happy married life. This is their life goal, counsel them and help them complete it.
Once while in Dhyan I had an extraordinary vision, as if my Sat-guru had offered my Shri-yantra to the flames of ’Soham’. That was the day I experienced the power of the Advaita in freeingthe soul from the blinding veils of geometry. A genuine Sat-guru is very rare. There are several Guru-s, yogi-s, high level aspirants, in this world who can be generally respected, but give your faith and your trust only to a Sat-guru else you may get into trouble in your practice.
For clients who have very material desires, I do recommend the Shri-chakra/ Shri-sukta as a first step. They are obsessed with experiencing the material, so what better than to make them focus on its fundamental geometry itself. It works for general auspiciousness and beneficial things and will give you every material thing you desire, but also slowly make you desire the spiritual too, maybe now or a few lives later. When you are sated with your experience, obviously you transcend. The Shri-Chakra geometry can be a part of your spiritual school syllabus in the initial stages but it is not the ultimate goal. Once you feel the burning desire to know yourself, ‘Soham’ is the only mantra which will take you onwards. The ultimate goal is your Soul, the Advaita.
My Sat-guru did puja of the Shiv-lingam in his initial practice, did complicated Hatha Yog and seriously very high level stuff. But after he realised Himself, he stopped doing all sorts of worship. (Maximum I have seen my Sat-guru do Soham-jaap using a jap-mala, very rarely, only when he had no other engagements. Then he would give this mala to some disciple. He was always on the move, giving discourses, meeting and blessing his lakhs of disciples, from the age of 29yrs – 96yrs). He always ‘gave’ the easiest Soham mantra for all his disciples. This, after he himself had performed the most complicated stuff for his own realisation! He would say that Soham is the easiest and the best way for attaining that Ultimate state. Soham mantra is essentially Sushumna Yog. Only a Sat-guru can ‘give’ it in the real sense. Performing it is also very simple. It will spontaneously take you to Kevala Kumbhak, Samadhi and Advaita in this life-time itself.
A Sat-Guru who has Seen the ultimate Self cannot worship the Shri-chakraor the Shiv-lingam or any moorthi! How can the Advaita, the Eternal Divine worship a mere geometry for hours and in seclusion as a practice! A Sat-guru is a Jivan-mukt, he is Eternally Aware. A genuine Sat-guru will not put his disciples into very complicated rituals. These are all a part of the geometry of this manifested worlds, these have no place where the Self exists. (Krishna has said the same thing in his Bhagvat Gita 18-66, ‘dissociate from the geometry of this manifested worlds and realise that you are the Advaita yourself’)
If your Guru whom you follow, still worships a yantra, linga, moorthi etc for hours, secludes himself for his ‘practice’, follows strict rules on things, prescribes complicated rituals, still goes on pilgrimages, feels emotional about events around him, eg death of someone or a handicapped child being born to someone, if he is still affected by the things of this geometric universe, then judge for yourself if he has Realised Himself or not. Best would be to ask him directly and see what kind of reply he gives. Does he say ‘yes’ with the power of the Advaita in his words or baffle you with empty words? (Someone I know was searching for a Sat-guru, about 50yrs ago. He met several Gurus and actually asked them if they had realised the Eternal. They were genuine at heart so clearly said that they were also aspirants, albeit very high level ones. So he searched some more and finally met my Sat-guru, all his questions were answered here.)
Back to Aleister Crowley, if he could comprehend this existential complexity and yet it’s essential simplicity he must have been much more spiritually than what his contemporaries report about him. So this is the real reason I use the Thoth tarot as my go-to deck and use his birth chart as a sample chart in my blog!
This shlok is from the 18th chapter of the Bhagvat Gita, the 66th verse. These verses from 63 to 72 are the gist of the entire Gita. The Sanskrit Bhagvat Gita is a sutra. Each line needs a thousand more to make its meaning somewhat clear. (Compare what I have written in my earlier post and translations like these available on-line “abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear”.)
Aham tvaam sarva-paapebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyaami maa shuchah
(To know what a Sutra means in the philosophical sense, this is a linkto a ok English translation of the Adi-Shankaracharya’s Sanskrit commentary of Badarayan’s Brahma Sutra. If it makes sense to you, do buy it, a paper copy is necessary for learning anything well.)
I was born in a family which had a Sat-guru by tradition. He taught Dhyan with the Soham mantra, gave discourses and also told us to read books. The Dasbodh (Marathi), The Jyaneshwari (Marathi), Yog-Vashishth (Sanskrit), various Upanishads (Sanskrit), the Mahabharat (Sanskrit), Bhagvat Gita is a part of the Mahabharat, Ramayan (Sanskrit) etc. So the practice of the Pran and the practice of the Mind both was simultaneously on. Both together are essential for progress. Doing just one of the two will not give its full results. (I would recommend these books published by Gita Press as they are very affordable, adequately translated into other languages and easily available.)
A personal incident. Once the Devi told me to perform an Anushthan (a count) of the Nav-avaran mantra. My Sat-guruallowed it for some reason. This I did alongside my Dhyan. Then exactly one year later to the day, while doing Dhyan, I clearly heard the first half of this Bhagvat Gita shlok 18-66 ‘Sarva-dharmaan parityajya maam ekam sharanam vraja’, repeated three times.
I pulled out the commentaries on the Gita, thought deeply on it, dissected the words, pored over its intention. It was a clear cut direction. I had repaid my energy debts to everyone including the Devi.(Will write a post sometime on the real nature of the ‘gods’ and ‘deities’ of Sanatan Dharma). That day I stopped doing all other forms of puja/ mantra jaap and focussed just on ‘Soham’. My Dhyan had expanded, beyond the formal asan, Soham was on at every waking/ sleeping/ dreaming breath. This 18-66 verse which my Sat-guru had specifically pointed out brought everything into perfect focus. I was to get rid of the binding that I had put on my practice. Now it was to progress beyond the 3 times a day Dhyan and go beyond the Asan.Now onwards every breath had to be Soham with awareness, 24 hrs a day as a continuous process.
Spiritual practice is like school. You complete one grade, toss out the old text books and learn new ones. From your playschool till your Ph.D. you learn deeper things. Every activity/ mantra can take you upto a certain level. Once you cross this level, it changes its form ie you stop doing that specific activity and do something else more intense. You will get clear signals when you pass the grade, so the transition is quite natural.
If you continue doing the old mantra/ activity out of habit or obstinacy or your failure to understand or your fear to change. Or your obsession with the illusion called creation. If you do not change and adapt to your new energy levels, you will harm yourself.
Eg you begin going to a Sat-sang where like-minded people sit together, sing bhajans, listen to discourses, a group activity. You do this once a week or so.
Next step, you set up a personal puja-ghar/ altar and do moorthi-puja, put flowers etc and focus on this moorthi. Now your group activities reduce, eventually stop, you enjoy your personal pujas more.
Then you start a formal mantra jaap eg Gayatri,Navavarna or any other mantra given to you, generally three times a day in sets of 108 repeats.
Or if you are directly given your Dhyan-mantra, the mantra is now Soham.(Some people use OM or Hamsa. I have no personal experience with either of these, my Guru taught me Soham, but these too are said to be powerful).
Then you start doing Dhyan, focus on your third eye, start internalising. You sit for 2-3 times a day on your Asan. Your Dhyan-mantra generates more power.
When Soham gains power, all the outer pujas, mantras, even Gayatri or the Navavarna mantra-jaap etc eventually stop.
Then the Bhagvat Gita shlok 18-66 starts operating.
Soham-Dhyan might seem insignificant to begin with but it has immense power as it is linked to your very breath, it is an ajapa-mantra. The Ajapa-mantra (Soham or Hamsa) are the only way to realise the Eternal. You want to realise yourself as you naturally are. You desire to experience your basic natural condition. And the most natural thing you do is to breathe, but you are actually unaware of your breath. Your breathing is not natural as it is linked to your emotional states, ie your mind. If you are upset, happy, angry, tense, etc your breathing changes its pattern. Ever wondered how it would be if your mind were plain, calm, still and immersed in its Own Self? The mantra linked to your breath are always on whether you are aware or not, the Ajapa-mantra. And the Breath is nothing but Pran. If you destroy the effect of the Mind on the movement of your Breath/Pran or if you bring your Mind to its perfect pristine state, you can experience your basic natural state. So the Ajapa-mantra, Pran,Mind and Breathing are all interlinked. Focus on one of these, control one of these consciously and you control them all. So it is logical that these Ajapa mantras are the only ones powerful to take you to your essential natural state.
This is what the spiritual aspirant is directed to do. “Leave all concepts of your limited self, your limited understanding, duality, illusion of creation, artificial conditions you have imposed on yourself, needless complications arising out of the artificial bindings you have created on yourself. Experience the Eternal within yourself, hold on to this realization that you yourself are the Advaita.”
This the spiritual aspirant has to do. And the Gita’s teachings as a Yog-shastra for controlling the Pran and the Tatva-jnyan for taming the Mind will be used.
This is an order from the Advaita to the aspirant. If the aspirant succeeds in doing this, only then does the second part of the shlok come into operation.
This half verse 18.66 was a clear order from my Sat-guru. “To now search for the Eternal within. To follow only what he had taught ie Soham. To use only the Soham with all my strength, this one single route.
“Aham tvaam sarva-paapebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyaami maa shuchah”.
The Nirvishesh Brahma assures you, the spiritual aspirant, that It will bless you with the highest liberation. But you cannot claim Moksh unless you actually do what you have been directed in the first part.
If you keep desiring a husband/wife, children, money, etc stuff linked to the material and not intensely focus on your single route on your single Sat-Guru on your single mantra, you will not reach that non-dual Truth. Your very existence should burn with this deepest intention of seeing Yourself. This is the deepest Illumination you are asking for, your very soul wants to light up with the intensity of a million Sun’s!
The instant your intelligence casts away all forms of duality, all connection with the illusion of creation is severed by the conscious awareness. All material desires are extinguished, you see your pristine self, this is Moksh.
There is no coming or going anywhere, just the magnificence of Existence.
The Advaita gives this blessing but only if you perform your part first.
On the practical side, this means that the pattern of breath in and breath out also changes. ie Kumbhak increases, expands. This stillness in between finally leads to the state of Avaitya. This is the exact thing which Bhairav repeatedly says in his Vignyan Bhairav Tantra. Whichever book you read, they all say the same thing.
This verse also means that ultimately there can be only one Sat-Guru. If you are following 5 different religious leaders/ spiritual teachings, discard all but the one who really inspires your confidence. There can be only one spiritual practice, especially so when you are so near your goal. So if you are observing 10 different types of practices, discard all but the one which gives you the maximum intensity. If at this point you refuse to obey the clear directions coming from your higher self/ Sat-guru, and still continue with your several activities or listen to several Guru-s, you will harm yourself.
If you are at the initial experimental stages of your practice you can definitely try out several systems, or listen to several Guru-s discourses, but when you are in the last 100m lap, this cannot be. You will focus on one mantra, follow one Sat-guru and reach the Advaita. You are now committed to your destination. No desires linked to the material will be entertained by your higher self even if superficial desires pop up once in a while they will be quashed. You will discard the material by its very roots, rid yourself of the very foundations of duality and focus on the Maam Ekam. And the very clear assurance of the Nirvishesh Brahma powers you.
The point being that to finally Realise, you have to give up every vestige of the manifested creation. You cannot have both at the same time.
Eg A story of Ramkrishna Parmahans. He was a devotee of Devi Kali and she would appear before him in his spiritual practice. His Guru Totapuri, a Naga Sadhu, was a realised Soul. He would get angry when Ramkrishna would talk about the Devi Kali in his visions. He would tell him to take a sword and cut her down only then would he Realise the Self. This Ramkrishna was unable to do. So, Totapuri made Ramkrishna sit in front of him and told him to meditate. As Devi Kali appeared in his vision, Totapuri took a piece of glass and made an actual cut on Ramkrishna’s forehead. This action of the Guru removed Ramkrishna’s last link to the creation ie Devi Kali and triggered his Self-realisation, at that instant he became a ‘Paramhans’.
Now finally, the real beauty of this shlok. This is the only one in the entire Gita, where the Advaita uses the word ‘mokshayishyaami’. This is a very rare word (I have written about its grammar in the previous post). It is used only once in the entire Gita and in this one shlok. The intention of the Advaita, the assurance! This shlok is the most unique, the most special one in the entire Gita as It is giving you Its blessing! What more does the jiv-atma/ individual soul need?
I could write an entire book on this one shlok, it is so profound, both for the practice part and also the philosophy part. This is the gist of the entire Gita. The highest Intelligence is specifically telling you what to do, there is no ambiguity at all, no baffle with fluff. And if you do it, then It is guaranteeing you that It will grant you the highest illumination! You will realise Your own Self as the Nirvishesh Brahma.
(This is my last post on deep spiritual practice. Nothing needs to be said more on this topic after this 18:66 Bhagvat Gita. I will not write more on this unless there is a specific question from my readers)
I got very positive feedback on my previous posts on the Bhagvat Gita shloks. Some of my Dad’s friends told him that I write well, which made him happy. And my husband gave me one of his rare compliments.
So today here is the beautiful 18-66 shlok, possibly the most beautiful shlok of the entire Gita.
Aham tvaam sarva-paapebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyaami maa shuchah
Let’s see how basic Sanskrit grammar and meanings work with this verse. These words have deep philosophical meanings. But I will stick to the basic word meanings. I love Devbhasha Samskrutam, so in this post have added some grammar related stuff to bring out its subtlety (If someone gets inspired to learn it, it would be truly wonderful).
Sarva – many, entire, various, whole, together, complete, manifold, different, water, all, each, universe, every (Sarvadharmaan is a compound word)
Parityajya – (imperative mood, second person singular verb) abandon, omit, give up, renounce, give away, distribute, forsake, disown, disregard, leave behind, get rid of, go beyond, come out of, abandon.
Moksha-yishami – This is a very rare form in Sanskrit grammar. The verb is first person, singular, benedictive mood. The verb is a ‘naam-dhatu’, ie a denominative, made by using a noun as a verb. Moksh, a noun, is used as a verb. It is an assurance or a blessing, it literally means ‘I (noun) Moksh (verb)’ something like ‘I dance!’
Suchah – (masculine nominative singular noun) pure
Krishna is the Advaita Nirvishesh Brahma. Maam, Ekam, indicate the non-dual intelligence which cannot be described in the language of the universe. ‘Krishna’ word is often translated as ‘black’, but it really means something which has such attributes which cannot be seen by the senses of this creation but only experiencedby the soul.
Interesting fact, when you are in space, you cannot see the Sun or the Stars shining in the sky. The pretty colored images of galaxies and stuff from NASA are rendered using filters. The self-luminous bodies are ‘black’. You can sense the radiation emitted by them, but your eyes cannot see them. We see the self-luminous Suns/Stars from the earth because the all-enveloping atmosphere acts as a filter and gives them that white-gold color. In outer space, the only things visible to the eyes are the planets and the satellites which reflect light from these self-luminous Suns. So if you were in space would you say the Sun is ‘black’ in color?
We believe ‘Krishna’ to be a man driving a chariot or the supreme ‘god’. But that is because of our filters of perceptions surrounding us. If we ever cross this conditioning, this karma bindings, the layers of unintelligence around us, the all-enveloping ignorance, we would experience Krishna as the Nirvishesh Brahma, his true ‘black’ nature. But to come out of those filtering layers we need to generate energy to propel us out. And the only way we can generate the energy is to do our Dhyan, focus on our Dhyan-mantra. Till then, in our ignorance, we will strongly argue that the Sun is gold-white in color and Krishna was either a man or a god!
Arjun is the brilliant streak of lightning, the conscious intelligence of the individual soul. It is the awareness of the mental processes of the spiritual aspirant. The lightening momentarily flashes from the dark skies and is submerged back in the darkness. So does the individual soul flash briefly and is again absorbed in the darkness that is Krishna.
The very last chapter of the Bhagvat Gita is very subtle. Especially the verses from 63 to 72 where Krishna concludes his teaching. These shloks contain the gist of these 18 chapters and must be mediated upon again and again to get their depth.
So basically, Krishna speaks to Arjun,
“There are several types of foundations which you use as a support in this universe. So many concepts bind you to this illusion called creation. The entire set of preconceived notions which you follow eg your religious and moral codes. The various practices and ideas that you have bound yourself in. All the things which you think are necessary for yourself. Your thought patterns, emotions, philosophies, ideas, mind-set, everything. The body, the body processes, the mental patterns, the spiritual activities, the things you feel necessary for your body/mind. All the stuff of the material world. The plurality of things. The differences in everything. The various reasons you act and react. All your desires which make up your sense of self. Even the very act of your breathing!” (Sarvadharmaan)
Krishna continues and orders Arjun,
“All this as above is to be discarded. Get rid of the illusion that is ‘duality’. Come out of your idea that you need support to exist. Get rid of all the notions in which you have bound your intelligence in. Remove all pre-conceived notions regarding your own sense of self. Give away completely, the very concept of duality. Let go of all the reasons for your actions, stop creating new karmic bindings. Utterly release all desires linked to this creation. You are not connected in any way to these illusionary things, release them from your consciousness. You are not bound to the illusion called the universe, release this idea of creation. To disregard the differences between the various aspects of creation is the real step to true understanding. Understand that what you really are, does not require any sort of support from the creation.” (Sarvadharmaan parityajya)
Then Krishna continues,
“There is only Advaita, the non-dual consciousness. The most exclusive, singular, unique, intelligence, not dependant on anything, highest, purest, truth, source etc. There is no polarity, no movement, no change, no duality, no illusions, no difference, no conflict.” (Maam ekam)
Now the Sharanam part can be understood in two ways, it is the nominative as well as the accusative singular noun form.
The nominative way. ‘Maam ekam sharanam’ (subject) vraja (verb)
Krishna orders Arjun, “The One Singular Protection should be approached by you. You should go to the Singular Intelligence. Seek its experience. Be in its shelter. Understand that the Advaita is the only refuge. You come from the non-dual Intelligence and are absorbed again in it. Realise the Non-Dual. The outward duality of forms is irrelevant as the source of all is the Only Non dual.”
The accusative case is this. Maam ekam (subject) vraja (verb) Sharanam (object).
Krishna orders Arjun thus, “The One Singular Protection should be approached by you, to shelter in yourself. Realise that the Advaitya is actually inside yourself. After you realise this, you should to hold on to this realization. Rather than going here and there in search of the Advaita, you should know that it is inside you. Recognise that you are not separate from the Eternal. There is no duality in this, you are the Eternal and the Eternal is you. Experience this Unity between you and the Eternal. And remain ever in this realization. The Advaita is your refuge, your home, your real position, and it is right within you.”
My note –
Pari-tyajya is used to make the act of removing or giving away very intense, right from the roots. Some people actually leave the material world, become an ascetic, a Sanyasi. They forsake the foundation of human society, cut off all possibilities of any desire of the material ie take Sanyas and do their further Sadhana in complete singular isolation. They seek the Advaita and this is their driving intention, deepest desire, the only possible desire. This happens only if the horoscope allows it. And for most aspirants who reach this level, there is always some type of an isolation provided even if they live on in the society.
The Nirvishesh Brahma, Krishna then continues,
“I will give to you the solution for your misery, ill-luck, inauspiciousness, low energy, etc. As well as liberate you from the wretchedness, trouble, harm etc that you are under. Not knowing oneself is the biggest evil, I will release you from this. You are ignorant of your own reality, I assure you that I will remove this misfortune and ill-luck from you. I will give to you the Realization of Advaita. This is my assurance and my blessing. (Aham tvaam sarvapapebhyo moshayishyami)
As per the grammar used, Krishna addresses Arjun as Shuchah ‘pure one’. The correct way of looking at these words, ‘Maa Shuchah’ would be, “Pure one, No!” Arjun is the bright and pure lightening flash of intellect. The Maa is the negation of Arjun’s behaviour till now ie his obsession with duality and him being unable to realise the overarching Advaita. Maa is also Prakruti which hides Arjun’s true nature. Krishna calls him the ‘Pure one’ and admonishes his past behaviour with the highest negation ‘No!’.
My notes –
I have seen ‘Ma Shuchah’ being translated as ‘do not grieve’. But Shuchah शुच: is a nominative masculine gender word, it means ‘Pure one’ as the subject. The imperative verb form for ‘do not grieve’ would be ‘Ma Shoch/ शोच’. It cannot be understood as the ‘Grieving one’ either, as the noun which means grief or sorrow is शुचा, it is a feminine noun, its nominative singular would be शुचा shuchaa.
Sanskrit has one specialty, the word sequence in a sentence is not relevant at all. The declination cases of the nouns and the moods of the verbs are important. The intention of the speaker and the context of the situation, the gravity of the words and the ability of the listener to understand gives the meaning relevant to him.
The energy of the word ‘Maa‘ is negation, and when used by common people, it negates our true nature. The simple negation would be just ‘na’. ‘Maa’ in itself is also a name of the Prakruti. Maa is a particle in grammar, so fitting it in this sentence requires a background of the philosophy of the Gita. So when Krishna uses Maa here, it is an independent word with a wealth of meaning, something like “No!” more like an admonishment. ‘Maa’ for the spiritual aspirant is a negation of the Creation that Prakruti/ Devi represents. When you the spiritual aspirant call the Devi Maa, with this understanding you are actually negating her nature (post here)
Sanskrit is a very subtle language, that is why I love it so much, layers of meanings. A small example, let’s look at this part again in a different way, Aham tvaam sarva-paapebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyaami.
Why is Aham tvaam used like this? These words seems incongruous in a verse dedicated to Advaita. But see, Aham tvaam, I-you is the basic duality! When I believe I am different from you, does duality start. The root of creation is duality, this ‘I-you’.
Aham tvaam is followed by sarva-paapebhyo. ‘I-you’ is the very foundation of duality. And this actually is ‘all of the misfortune’. So here Aham tvaam does not refer to Krishna – Arjun as I – you. The Advaita is referring to the concept of duality embodied by ‘I-you’. This concept is the source of all inauspiciousness. This illusion of separation is the reason we cannot Know our own Reality, an evil thing indeed.
It says further, mokṣhayiṣhyaami. This can be understood as ‘I be Moksh’, I act Moksh, I cause Moksh, I regard Moksh, I play the part of Moksh, I make Moksh, I use Moksh, I apply Moksh, I wish Moksh, I desire Moksh, I assure Moksh. I Moksh.
The very presence of Advaita in itself is all this assurance.
It Itself is Its own blessing to Itself! A mindbender isn’t it?
The Bhagvat Gita is a practical manual Yog-Shastra and a philosophy Tatva-Jnyan designed perfectly to attain the state of the Advaitya. For a spiritual aspirant both practice – Dhyan and philosophy are needed together to bring the Pran and the Mind into control. Doing just one without the other does not work well.
It is only when the conscious-intellect of the individual crosses all concepts linked to the material universe and illusions of its superficial separation from the Eternal, that it really begins to understand itself. It was wallowing in its sense of individuality, its own tiny ego, in its individual soul. The entire purpose of the Bhagvat Gita is to turn the direction of conscious-awareness to the highest possible, the Advaita, the Nirvishesh Brahma. It is involution of the highest degree, a pure flash of the highest intelligence is generated by the spiritual aspirant himself which illuminates his own Reality!