Soham, Sushumna Yog and the Sat-guru

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soham, Sushumna Yog and the Sat-guru

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karma action fruits of action, Bhagwat Gita style

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

Constant Nija Guru v/s Other Anya Guru

As per the Vedic panchangam, today is Skand Shashthi, dedicated to Kartikeya, the son of Shiv-Shakti. The Vasant Panchami was yesterday, Sarasvati puja and Gayatri mantra jaap. And the day before was the Maagh Ganapati Chaturthi. Tomorrow is Ratha Saptami, the rising Sun and Gayatri mantra again. Dhyan is a daily affair, but when these energies add to it, it goes deeper. These days from Makar Sankranti to Ratha Saptami are bursting with energy. Vasant Panchami is a very special day for me and this time I missed my Guru. But then he is kind and a dream/vision blessing settled the missing-feeling, yesterday morning I was euphoric.

So today I will write about my Guru in gratitude and specifically on what a Nija-Guru is. There are very few people in this world who have been fortunate that they have been blessed by a Nija-Guru.

  • Nija निज means personal, innate, continuous, constant, inborn. He is also called a Sat-Guru. The force which takes you to the Eternal Truth.
  • The other type of Guru is the Anya-Guru. Anya अन्य means other, different. (These words/ definitions are from the 11th Skandh of the Bhagwat Mahapuran in case you want to refer.)

There is a story where a spiritual aspirant was motivated by a honey-bee and he paid respect to the honey-bee by calling it a ‘Guru’. The honey-bee visits several flowers and collects just their essence, this is a quality which a spiritual aspirant must cultivate. Similarly you will read books, you will collect the essence of spiritual teachings written there. You meet with other spiritual aspirants, perhaps some Yogi-s who are on higher levels than you. You learn from them, they might teach you how to do pujas, you get blessings from these Yogi-s. These are also Guru as they are taking you onward in your journey to Moksh. They are adding to your understanding and motivating you. But these all are the Anya-Guru, the other-guru. You learn what they had to teach you, but you do not get satisfied and you still search for someone to guide you further. An Anya-Guru cannot take you to your ultimate destination Moksh.

An Anya-Guru is somewhat like an Uncle, the Nija-Guru is the Father.

I know someone who searching for a Guru, he found the perfect Guru who taught him the perfect Gayatri puja. Now Gayatri puja is in itself very potent and will take you to Moksh if you perform it regularly. But this person was not satisfied with this and now wanted to learn Kriya yog from a proper Guru. He met another perfect Guru who taught him the perfect Kriya yog. The perfect Kriya yog will also take you to Moksh if you do it regularly. But this person was still not satisfied and now desires to learn tantra, mantra, yantra and all the other facets of Sanatan Dharm. He will definitely get those appropriate Gurus who will teach him all that he desires to know, but these will all be the Anya-Guru. This person’s intention is to learn these things and the Parabrahma always grants what is desired with intense intention. Then it may take one life or more lives to complete the desired intention. The choice is always with the aspirant. It depends on what you intend.

I just want to be at the same position that my Nija-Guru had realised, the Nirvishesh Brahma, the Advaita. And that is all. I don’t focus on the steps, just the target. He will take care of the process and also the target.

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Sri Samarth Sadguru, Shri Muppin Kadsiddheshwar Maharaj

A Nija-Guru is a realised Seer. He has realised Nirvishesh Brahma and is the Parabrahma himself, he is a Jivan-mukt. The Guru stotra defines just this superlative power ie the Nija-Guru.

The one over-riding quality of the Nija-Guru is this. When you meet him (or her), you know in your innermost heart that you have reached your destination. Your search is over and you are convinced about it. Whatever has to be attained will be attained only under his guidance. The satisfaction is real and the trust deep, but only when one meets the Nija-Guru. When you meet the correct guide to take you home, you are assured of success. You feel the brightness in his aura, in his words; the confidence and the power of Realisation. When he is in front of you, or when you even think of him, there are no questions in your mind, the chattering mind goes silent. You feel it in the core of your heart that this in front of you is not an old 96yr man but the ultimate beauty of the Parabrahma. You know that you are standing in front of the Singular source. When he says to you that you will reach your destination, you do not doubt his words nor his ability to guide you. You search no more. This is your Nija-Guru. Once you find him and in case you need to take more lives to complete your karma, he will be there again and again in every life till you reach your own Moksh yourself.

My Nija-Guru and his Gurus, all who attained Nirvishesh Brahma and were Jivan-mukt. This is my lineage, my source and also my destination.

  • My Nija-Guru – Shri Muppin Kadsiddheshwar Maharaj who was the 26th Math-adhipati of the Siddhagiri Math, Kolhapur, Maharashtra
  • My Grand-Guru – Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj
  • My Great-Grand-Guru – Shri Bhausaheb Maharaj
  • My Great (2) Grand Guru – Shri Gurulingajangam Maharaj
  • My Great (3) Grand Guru – The 22nd Kadsiddheshwar of the Siddhagiri Math
  • The lineage goes back a thousand years to the 1st Kadsiddheshwar also called Shri Revan-nath Maharaj and he was of the Nath Sampraday.

My own Nija-Guru left his physical shell on 16th Aug 2001. In all these years I have never felt any need to search for guidance. Nor have I met anyone living who elicited the same feelings of deep trust, power, confidence, faith and the sheer magnificence that I could sense around him. Whatever I have needed in my spiritual journey has been provided by him, my Sat-Guru, the Parabrahma. Whenever I needed protection, he has always been there. And whenever I have felt that my life has gone bad, he has always brought the solution in front of me. I just do my Dhyan and mantra as much as I can and I leave all the rest to him. He is always there, if I need to know anything specific he can assume an astral form or I hear his words echoing around me or there are visions in Dhyan or in the dream states or the situation changes and things just fall in place.

This sort of full and complete trust can only be put in a Nija-Guru and not in an Anya-Guru. Your soul recognises him. A Sat-Guru is your own constant guide, its a guide and a follower relationship. He has witnessed Pure Reality and thus can guide you till there, you are convinced in your soul about this fact. An Anya-Guru is like two fellow travellers, one is more senior than the other but still both are co-travellers. The soul has not accepted these other Guru-s (who may be at very high levels of spiritual progress/ enlightenment) as the Sat-Guru and still is in search for the correct guide.

My Guru taught each one of his disciples to use the mantra ‘Soham’ for doing Dhyan. But he never compelled anyone to do Dhyan. Surprised? Yes, he would say that doing systematic Dhyan or even reciting ‘Soham’ consciously with the breathing whenever possible, would give faster spiritual progress but he never ordered anyone to do anything. A real Guru will never order a disciple, because if he does so, it becomes a Guru-adnya, the order of the Guru, which has to be followed and it continues beyond death into the next lives. There are no exceptions to a Guru-adnya. And no Nija-Guru takes away the free will of any disciple.

‘Yatha icchasi tatha kuru’, this is the last line of the Bhagwat Gita, where after telling the entire Yogshastra Gita to Arjun, Shri Krishna himself tells him that ‘I have told you everything that is necessary, now you should do as you desire’! This means that the Parabrahma recognises free-will of the individual soul. (Even if the free will is an illusion for the purpose of this Game/ Lila/ creation, it still exists.) Every individual soul always has the choice of action. My Guru would use this phrase often.

My Guru had several lakh disciples from all strata of society. They would naturally ask him about their material life’s problems. He would sometimes indicate a way out but also tell them to do follow it only if they wanted to. Yatha icchasi tatha kuru! ’Guru- Krupa’ is another word which is freely used by modern ‘gurus’. What this word means is, if you sincerely follow the spiritual practice suggested (never ordered) by your Nija-Guru, you will reach Moksh. This is the real Guru-Krupa. ‘Guru- Krupa’ does not have any material connotations. So you have found a Nija-Guru and what do you ask him for, money? marriage? children? job? eg my Uncle is very rich and interested in even more money, (typical Capricorn nature focussed on the material), he would request the Sat-Guru to bless him with more money! If you have the Parabrahma sitting in front of you, what should you ask for, money or Moksh?

A real Jivan-mukt Sat-Guru will never give blessings for material accomplishments. His blessings, his Guru Krupa, is only and only for the spiritual life. (If you meet a ‘guru’ who offers you success in wealth, marriage, profession and says nothing about Moksh, is not a real Guru). In this modern world, spirituality has also turned into a marketable item. So many people out there waiting to capitalise on your faith and your trust.

Your faith and trust is the most precious energy you have. Offer it only to that one Nija-Guru, the correct guide, who you are convinced will take you to Moksh.

Jai Jai Guru Maharaj Guru, Jai Jai Parabrahma Satguru!

 

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Guru Sakshat Parabrahma

Guruh Brahma Guruh Vishnu Guruh Devo Maheshwarah, Guru Sakshat Parabrahmah Tasmai Shri Guruve namah.

This is the sanskrit shlok on the foundation of which the business of the “modern gurus” is conducted. This year I saw this shlok being circulated on whatsapp on 5th sept celebrated as (school/college) Teacher’s day.

The commonly circulated translation is “The Guru is Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv. The Guru is the All observing Parabrahma. And thus I bow down to that Guru”. So our School teachers and modern age gurus chant this and elevate themselves to the levels of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and the Parabrahma. Such ego! It is unbelievable.

What does ‘Guru’ mean in Sanskrit? ‘venerable, extended, heavy, serious, difficult, high, valuable, momentous, dense, attract’ etc, basically the ‘energy which attracts’. Remember this is a sanskrit word used in the context of spiritual studies, so intention and layers and layers of meanings.

A school/college teacher is more properly an “adhyapak” in sanskrit. A school or college teacher should not be called a guru, it is an insult to the real Guru. Second these modern age “spiritual gurus” who are only interested in establishing “centers”, businesses, brand names and products. They cannot live without AC, wear really expensive clothes, use expensive vehicles and just talk. Use complicated words to baffle and awe their followers. This is just bad karma that they are creating for themselves. It is is the greatest act against the conscience to purposely deceive an aspirant who has a genuine interest in spirituality.

Judge a true Ascetic from the horoscope

So who is the Guru? He is the Satguru. The one who shows you, brings you, attracts you to the Sat/Eternal Truth. And the real Sat is your own Self. That which you have been searching for so long is Yourself. And thus the only force who can bring you to yourself is …. Your Own Self.

Next this shlok, remember Sanskrit, layers of meanings, So this shlok more properly means this, “Brahmadev is the Guru, Vishnu is the Guru, Maheshwar is the Guru, the ‘witness to all’ Parabrahma is the Guru. And thus I bow down to such Guru.” Brahmadev, Vishnu, Maheshwar and the Parabrahma are the energies which bring you to the Truth/Sat, bring you to Yourself. Thus it makes sense.

The difference between these 2 meanings is like heaven and earth.

And my personal belief is that I really do not need someone in a physical body to be my Guru. I believe that there is a higher self within me. I am a tiny bit of the Parabrahma myself and this tiny bit is my conscience/Antaratma. If I let my conscience be my Guru, it will take me to Myself. But living in this world of so many external influences, pushes and pulls, I have stopped hearing the voice of my conscience. So how do I hear Myself again? Only when I cut off these external voices and sit still.

Real Guru-s are quite rare in this world as only a Jivan mukt can be properly referred to as a Guru. These souls have experienced and transcended the Game of creation and have realised the Ultimate. They have achieved Moksh.

So to begin with, do start your spiritual practice, and practice sitting still. Your conscience will speak to you again and a day will come when you will start following your conscience. That is the power of Sat, your own.

Now listen to this Guru stotra by Uma Mohan which defines in even more details what a Guru actually is! I have written out the meaning of this Guru Stotra in a full-fledged post here.