Sohum: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!

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I Am That I Am!

This Sanskrit word is mostly known to people who practice breathing techniques and meditation because it’s used as a mantra. It’s a very interesting word. It is a conjunction of two Sanskrit words: So(That) and Hum(I am). Actually, the hum is degeneration of ‘aham’ which means ‘I.’ The word means I am that.

There is a beautiful book named I am that which has an account of enlightening conversations between Nisargadatta Maharaj and other seekers. I am that is also name of God in biblical Judaism. Moses found this revelation on the mountain near the enlightened tree. Since most of the things in religious scriptures are symbolic it’s no wonder that this might simply mean God is self-realization. God is the presence I am. That presence, awareness and being which never changes.

You were a small kid, then your body kept changing, surroundings kept changing, your feelings and even your intellectual abilities kept changing–body and mind have been changing since birth without any stop–what is that which has not changed ever? Your sense of being-“I am” has never changed–so that is the truth. That is the same as universe–that is being. That is God.

This quote from Wikipedia is pertinent:

Unchanted Chanting!

Soham is also considered a mantra in Tantrism and Kriya Yoga, known also as Ajapa mantra, Ajapa Gayatri, Hamsa Gayatri, Hamsa mantra, prana mantra, Shri Paraprasada mantra, paramatma-mantra, and as such used notably on its own, in the meditation practice ajapa japa and in the kriya practice shabda sanchalana.

The mantra is also inverted from so ‘ham (the sandhi of saḥ + aham) to ham + sa. The combination of so ‘haṃ haṃsaḥ has also been interpreted as “I myself am the Swan“, where the swan symbolizes the Atman.An etymology of haṃsa “swan, goose” (in fact cognate with English goose) as from ahaṃ sa “I am that” is found in the 14th century commentary on the Vedas by Sayana (14th century).

We take about 21400 breaths everyday. Hindu scriptures Puranas say that it’s soul chanting the name of God 21400 times everyday. They say that our soul loves God so much that breathing is a form of remembering him constantly and the sound of breath so resembles the name of God. I must say that it’s poetic suggestion. Spiritual people invented this technique to help you transcend mind and remember God. All the names suggested in the quote above are actually meditation techniques which revolve around this mantra.

Moola: The WordY FrYDaY NerdY!

What Are Gandanta Moola Signs?

Gandanta are conjunction constellations–they’re also known as Gandanta Moola nakshatras. You know there are 12 zodiac signs and there are 6 Gandanta Moola nakshatras. Mula literally means the root. The constellations are subtler than signs–so Gandanta Moola constellations are those portions of signs which fall at the conjunction point or say transition point between two signs. For example–there are two constellations between Scorpio and Sagittarius–Jyestha and Moola.


The easy way to remember where Gandanta signs is to realize that Gandanta Moola signs are just before fiery signs begin. Alternatively, Gandanta Moola constellations are immediately after water signs– I mean it’s not like what we feel it should be–that’s every Gandanta Moola sign should be between every two signs–no. It would be more accurate to state that Gandanta Moola constellations fall at the junctions of watery and fiery signs. So there are two Gandanta constellations each at all 3 watery-fiery sign conjunctions. Why is it so that only transition from water to fiery signs is considered a very sensitive zodiacal zone isn’t yet clear to me– but there are so many mysteries in the Vedic system.

Why at Water-Fire transition?

Because water-fire transition is most sensitive transition. Earth signs are closer to water signs in characteristics and fiery signs are closer to airy signs but water and fire are just opposites. Water suppresses fire. Water is sensitive and emotional whereas fire is independent and inspiring.

Here are the names and a few details Gandanta Moola Nakshatra: 

1. Revati and Ashwini: Revati is final nakshatra and comes in the sign Pisces (16:40 to 30:00 ) and Ashwini falls in Aries ( 00:00 to 13:19 ). Revati is ruled by Mercury and Ashwini is ruled by Ketu.

2. Ashlesha and Magha: Ashlesha is in the sign Cancer ( 16:40 to 30:00 ) and Magha is in Leo (00:00 to 13:19). Ashlesha is ruled by Mercury whereas Ketu rules Magha

3. Jyestha and Moola: Jyestha is in the sign Scorpio(16:40 to 30:00) while Moola is in the sign Sagittarius(00:00 to 13:19).

Some Observations on Moola!

1.  All of these Gandanta Moola signs fall at the water-air transition. ( Pisces—->Aries / Cancer—->Leo
/Scorpio—>Sagittarius)–transition, as you know is shaky–change discomfort–that’s why for those people who are born under these Gandanta Moola signs propitiation is done. Without some rituals it’s considered that children born under these constellation might be inauspicious for family and society and might be under the risk of dying in the early childhood themselves.

2. Gandanta Mula rulers are Ashlesha–Mercury, Magha–Ketu, Jyeshta–Mercury, Moola–Ketu, Revati–Mercury and Ashwini–Ketu. You can easily observe that 3 of these are ruled by the Mercury and the other 3 are ruled by the Ketu. Mercury is a benefic planet and Ketu is a malefic– most detached headless planet destructive for worldly affairs but good for spiritual things.

3. I’ve observed that people born in Ketu ruled Gandanta Moola constellations are most inspirational spiritual figures. The reason being–fire elements are inspirational and Ketu is very good for spirituality–so since Ketu ruled Gandanta constellations all fall under the fiery signs–they make for inspirational spiritual figures. 

A few spiritual figures born in Ketu ruled Moola Nakshatras: 

Paramhamsa Yogananda–Magha. 
Jiddu Krishnamurti–Mula. 
Jaggi Vasudev–Mula. 
Mystic poet Kabir–Mula. 
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu—Magha. 
Dalai Lama–Magha/Mula.

4.  There are 3 Ketu based constellations–Ashwini( Aries–ruled by Mars), Magha(Leo–ruled by Sun), Mula( Sagittarius– ruled by Jupiter). In the Vedic system Jupiter is considered most benefic wisdom giving planet –and among Sun and Mars–Sun is more spiritual. Therefore, Ketu being common to all these three Moola nakshatras–their wisdom ingredient is determined by combined effect of Rashi/Nakshatra rulers–so for spirituality–Mula which has combined impact of Ketu/Jupiter is considered most powerful of all constellations.

5. It has also been observed that persons born in Moola face a lot of difficulties as children but if they survive they grow up to have charismatic personalities. Many saints in India were  born in Moola constellations and way too many in all 6 Gandanta Moola constellations.

6. You might also be aware that though all 6 of the constellations mentioned above are called Gandanta Moola–only the one falling in the sign Sagittarius-in the first portion is called Moola(root). It’s so because It’s the core of our galaxy Milky Way. You might be aware that during winter solstice the alignment happens between the core of Milky Way, Sun and Earth when Sun is in the sign Sagittarius( perhaps in the constellation Moola—I’ve not examined that thoroughly.)

Spiritual Figures in Moola!

Here I would consider both ascendant nakshatra and Moon Nakshtra as an influence.

1. Ammachi–the hugging saint of Kerala: Asc-Magha
2. Sri Aurobindo: Moon-Moola/Asc-Ashlesha
3. Dalai Lama–Tenzin Gyatso: Moon-Ashlesha/Asc-Magha
4. George Gurdjieff: Asc-Revati
5.  Jaggi Vasudev: Moon-Moola
6. Jiddu Krishnamurti: Moon-Moola
7. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: Moon-Magha
8. Paramhamsa Yogananda: Moon-Magha/Asc-Magha
9. Pandit Shriram Sharma: Moon-Magha
10. Baba Ramdev: Moon-Ashlesha
11. Mother Anandmayi: Moon-Jyestha
12. Swami Sivananda: Asc-Ashlesha
13. Lord Ramchandra: Asc-Ashlesha

The Dark Nights of Soul!

Sun stays about one month in any sign in its transit. It spends about 3 months in total in all Gandanta Moola signs. A friend asked me to work out Gandanta Moola timings because one of her friends suggested that these periods are of substantial importance for people who are undergoing spiritual awakening. Such periods according to her might be important for what is known as Dark Night of the Soul. These periods might signify purging out of karmic toxins or say opening of knots known as Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra knots in Yogic literature. 

I quote this text about spiritual-psychic knots in the subtle body from Yogasara

Brahma Granthi: First knot. It is the lowest knot covering the area of muladhara & svadhisthana chakras. It is also known as perineal knot.

Vishnu Granthi: Second knot. It covers the area between manipura, anahata & vishuddhi chakras. It is also known as the navel knot.

Rudra Granthi: Third knot. It covers the areas of Ajna & Sahasrara chakras. It is also known as forehead knot.

If we want to find out these periods we can do so with the aid of panchangas and softwares which are used for Astrology. I would outline the Gandanta Moola periods for this year–they fall around the same time of year, more or less.

Sun entered into Ashlesha around August 3, 2015 and would be in Magha till September 1, 2015—so this one month’s period was  Gandanta Period.

Similarly the next Dark Night should be calculated to be: When Sun enters into Jyestha–Moola: That would be the period of about one month between Dec 3, 2015 to Dec 29, 2015.

Then next Gandanta would be when Sun enters into Revati–Ashvini–which would be the period between March 20, 2016 to April 27, 2016–about one month.

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Karma: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!

What is Karma?

Karma is a very popular word. If we were to find the most popular word in the West which comes from Hindu/Buddhist tradition, it should be this word.

What does Karma means?

In general it means “What you do.”

If you are a writer–writing is your Karma. If you are a painter, painting is your Karma and so on.

But at a deeper level what you do as a human being is Karma. Do you always try to help others? Do you sometimes try to help others? Do you never try to help others? Do you sometimes try to hurt others? Do you always try to hurt others?

Answers to all those questions will tell you about the type of Karmas.

Karma is the programming in your subconscious which has made you the human being you are. Karma is the sum total of intention vectors you carry inside yourself. Everything you do, think or experience is in one way or other Karma you carry inside yourself.

Three Modes of Karma!

Since nature operates in three modes–Karma also has three modes. These three are broad categories: Sattvic(harmonious), Rajasic(passionate) and Tamasic(Inert.)

Sattvic Karma Continue reading “Karma: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!”

Gerrymandering: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!

Every now and then you come across some words with a very bizarre air about them. This peculiarity of appearance and at times that of meaning drives you to find out their etymologies. Perchance you may directly have an encounter with an anecdote about the origin of a word and it may so engross you that you learn the word and discuss about it with others as well. It happened with me because of the exquisite (no, hilarious!) etymology of this word. It means “To divide unfairly to one’s own advantage; especially by politicians”. This is one of those rare words which are bizarre looking as well as with a concrete etymology.


The first appearance of this singularly humorous and poignantly tart word was not in the present form ‘gerrymandering’ but rather in the form of a verb ‘gerrymander’, in 1812. It is actually a portmanteau of two words and this word in itself is a symbolic parody of political manipulation and corruption. The first part ‘Gerry’ comes from the name of Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry (1812) and the second bit comes from ‘salamander’ a fish. Gerry tried to manipulate the boundaries of some of his districts in order to help his party in upcoming senate election, but then, somebody observed that the new districts looked like a salamander and then they blended these two bits Gerry and –mander to create gerrymander. Newspapers came up with many cartoons where giant salamanders were mocking Gerry! Isn’t it an intriguing story worth being discussed with you?
Did you observe that Gerry is the dragon(salamander) in the picture, trying to devour the state! 

Samskara: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!

It’s time for the weekly feature! I have decided to take word Samskara for this week. It’s obviously a rare word for people who are not familiar with Hinduism and Buddhism, but quite common for people living in the Indian subcontinent. Here we use Samskar for many things. Please don’t confuse it with Samsara  which is a word for world or cycles of birth and death in the theory of reincarnation in Buddhism and Hinduism.

Samskara is used for many ceremonies in Hindu families. There are 16 prime rites of passages which are performed for any native from their birth until their death. In that sense, the word means Putting together of things. Sam means to add and Kar means to do and together they make Samskar.


In a deeper sense, Samskaras are subtle impressions on psyche. Spiritual traditions believe that a soul is bound to a body because of the conscience. Conscience is called Antahkarna in Hinduism. It’s considered to have four parts: Continue reading “Samskara: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!”