Tapas

वृक्ष कबहुँ नहीं फल भखै, नदी ना पीवै नीर !
पर्मारथ के कारनै, साधुन धरा शरीर !

Trees never eat their fruits, river doesn’t drink its water;

It’s only for the ultimate good sages carry their body. 

Tapas or Tapa literally means heat. Tapashcharya means way of living in which you bear heat. In the normal sense it means bearing discomfort or pain for greater good or Dharma. Tapas has had a great significance in Spirituality. From fasts to celibacy and non-violence to truthfulness–all austere pursuits which are dedicated towards spiritual advancement is considered Tapa.

Continue reading “Tapas”

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Yoga: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!

It’s already Saturday. I planned on publishing a longer post with some descriptions about various types of yoga and details about harmony of Yoga but other duties( forum and we had some discussion on forum today) took my time so I am late and with a small post. My apologies to all of you!

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Yoga is one of the most popular terms which originated in India. Yoga is degeneration of word Yog which comes from Sanskrit root Yuj, which means ‘to yoke’ ( to use) as in to use animals like oxen or horse and sometimes also used to mean ‘concentrate’ or ‘combine’ or ‘add.’

Yoga is a widely used term in Sanskrit and Hindi. In West it became popularized as physical exercises which create felicity of endocrine system and hence better health but it is only a limited meaning of Yoga which was a group of practices aimed at union of soul with supersoul. Actually there is just one element, which is primordial element and you may call it by any names like God, Brahman, Self or Tao. It alone is. You are it. All the differences you see in the universe are temporary and permanent truth is just one reality and one energy. This is reasonable but you don’t know any other perspective except yours. You inhabit only one world. By this you infer that you must be that energy which is absolute. And this limited experience of yours is just that–limited experience for reasons inexplicable and unknown. The goal of Yoga is to firmly realize this truth.

Yoga is of many types such as Hatha Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga. These types are not totally isolated from each other-they keep overlapping and every yogi is practicing many yogas simultaneously. A devotee might be serving god but helping other people too and by seeing god in everyone his realization becomes deeper and heart become purer.

Yoga is also used in Astrology for ‘combinations’ and in Ayurveda for compounds. Addition in arithmetic is also called Yoga in Hindi.  

How To Judge Best Spiritual Practice From Horoscope!

I have studied a few charts of devotees, renunciates, yogis, spiritual gurus and saints. Based on my studies I have delineated certain patterns conducive to spiritual practices. This might be useful for you if you take an interest in both Astrology and Spirituality.

 

Self-Enquiry

Who am I? Is the ultimate question and mantra in field of self-inquiry as it burns all other thoughts, questions and ideas ultimately burning itself as well in the end. This is Jnana Yoga and a grim determination along with discrimination and detachment are requirements for advancing on this path. Strong Sun and Mercury can make it easier for a native to delve deep into self-inquiry. 

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Hatha Yoga

Strong Mars and Jupiter might suggest a yogi who can easily advance on path of Hatha Yoga which needs a great physical and mental stamina and discipline. Eighth house and sixth house should be fortified along with ascendant to master the discipline. Continue reading “How To Judge Best Spiritual Practice From Horoscope!”

Aum: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!

Aum is an Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia are sound imitative words, like ‘meow’(imitates the sound made by a cat), ‘bang-bang’( imitates the sound made by a gun) and so on. Aum has been misunderstood mostly. It has been taken for a holy word. It is not only a holy word, it is much more than that . Aum is also called ‘Pranava’. If you observe you will find that almost every mantra in Hinduism, which is considered holy and important, begins with Aum. Aum has been given much importance by the tradition but a lot has been lost in the mystic fog over the eons since its importance was understood at first.

 

What was the true importance of Aum? Continue reading “Aum: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!”

Karma Yoga: Its Relevance For Meditators and Devotees!

Yoga and Its types

Yoga means to integrate, to add. The general idea is that in the quagmire of Maya, in the existential suffering, the soul is separated from the supersoul, so Yoga is integrating it back to supersoul. Whether it is separation or merely an illusion of separation, is the key discussion which takes place when we talk about Maya. Here we will talk about Yoga. Yoga is of many types: some broad categories are as follows: Continue reading “Karma Yoga: Its Relevance For Meditators and Devotees!”

Kapaal Bhati: Meaning, Misconceptions and Psychology!

A word of caution: Though the practice advised in this article is safe and time tested for general audience, it’s important that you consult your physician before adopting a routine, especially if you are already suffering from heart/lung ailments and/or hypertension.

Meaning and Method!

Kapaal Bhaati literally means –a practice which makes your skull glow. It is not what it has generally taken to be. It is not a practice which makes your skin glow. No it’s not. It is a cleansing process. It makes your skull glow in the sense that your head starts shining with illumination and wisdom after prolonged practice. It’s not a Pranayama either. It’s generally considered to be Pranayama these days because of the widespread ignorance about the Patanjali yogic system.

Kapaal stands for skull or forehead and Bhati stands for glow or shining. Kapaal Bhaati is one of the six cleansing processes which are practiced before Pranayama in Patanjali’s system. These cleansing processes make your body and mind suitable for further practice of Pranayama and Meditation. Unless the subtle pathways for psychic energy called nadis are cleansed at first, it’s slightly difficult to practice Pranayama and Meditation. It does not mean though that it is mandatory to follow the cleansing process. It has been my personal experience that Pranayama and Meditation when practiced extensively, cleanse the subtle psychic pathways on their own. It’s just to aid this cleansing and to make process quicker, easier and smoother that these special cleansing techniques are recommended before one begins to practice Pranayama and Meditation.

It’s The Easiest Technique!

Kapalbhati is easiest, most effective and least harmful of all cleansing techniques. You do not have to use any chords or liquids unlike other techniques to cleanse your system. All you have to do is to exhale out carefully. Your entire attention goes to exhalation whereas inhalation takes place on its own. As you exhale your stomach contracts and your belly region goes in. This process cleanses your body and mind by purging out toxins through breath and skin excretions. Continue reading “Kapaal Bhati: Meaning, Misconceptions and Psychology!”

Whys and Hows of Alternate Nostril Breathing!

Importance of Conscious Breathing!

Alternate Nostril breathing is a most profound way to obtain the maximum advantages from conscious breathing. It is easy to do and it has innumerable gains.
Without having enough lung power, it is impossible to think clearly or to think for enough long on a subject. To be able to read something which calls for more than average attention span, you need to have good lung power. Breathing techniques help you improve your attention span and indirectly help you improve your academic abilities and life in general.

Alternate nostril breathing is not easy to do until you have clear nostrils, free of any type of choking materials. If you practice it on a regular basis, choking materials, if any are removed. ANB (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is easiest way to get a balance by using both hemispheres of your brain. When you use your left nostril for inhalation/exhalation, you trigger the neurons of the right hemisphere of brain and vice versa. Optimum emotional health, optimum brain functioning becomes possible by way of ANB as it optimizes the synchronization between two hemispheres.

Even if you breathe very deeply while practicing some of the techniques, the quota of the oxygenation is not met because average amount of air taken in dips significantly even compared to the normal breathing. The advantage however is that you reinforce more and more of your lung power, therefore, as you start taking in more oxygen per breath, your breathing in general becomes more vital.

Flow Of Prana–Yogic Tradition! Continue reading “Whys and Hows of Alternate Nostril Breathing!”

Breathing To Feel Better, Richer and Happier!

absolutely ridiculous!





Breathing is easy and effective


Breathing is much more than expansion and contraction of lungs. My attempt here is to remark on my observations about breathing especially from the viewpoint of improving human condition by altering the way we breath.

 Why breathing? Because it is easy; it is ever-present. It is a bridge between conscious and subconscious. The way you think, you become and the way you breathe, is the way you think. Thinking does affect breathing and by changing the way you breathe you can change the way you think. Without breathing very deeply, it is not possible to have profundity. Your brain gets well oxygenated only when you breathe deeply. 

There are many breathing techniques available and anyone of them can be used as per the convenience. The basic principle remains same and can be understood very easily. The movement of mind is nothing but thoughts arising…

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Coping With Excessive Heat in Yoga Practices

While performing Yoga practices you might feel excessive heat in body. It mostly gets generated in the solar plexus (Manipura Chakra) region. But then it starts affecting your entire system adversely. You will feel excessive gas. You would feel painful gases and juices in your throat. You would find headache is unbearable. In some advanced practitioners the head starts burning. With such heat complications you would feel as if you’re perpetually hungry–but it’s not hunger. Even if you eat enough food, it would suppress the heat only for a while and then it resurfaces. In turn, you would eat even more and this would turn into a vicious cycle making you obese–defeating the purpose of Yoga practices.

These complications are mostly felt when you extensively practices certain Kriyas. For example–Kapalbhati Kriya. You might start believing that you’re suffering because of your Yoga practices–you can’t be further from the Truth.  Upanishads and classical treatises on Yoga say that the first obstacle in Yoga-Sadhana is to believe that it has caused some disease or painful complication as a result of practice. The faith in the efficacy of practices is an indispensable ingredient in their success. But what should a practitioner do when he is writhing in pain caused by excessive heat in the body?

In advanced stages when awakening of Kundalini has started happening–the problem of heat becomes even more acute. If you give  Yoga practices up altogether–you not only run the risk of becoming ill but also hit a hiatus in path of the spiritual realization. And if you engage even in the slightest practice–you run the risk of undergoing immense burning pain. Then how to cope with this problem of heat?

Understanding The Cause

Understanding clearly that it’s not Yoga practice which is causing heat but rather impurities which were hidden inside body prior to Yoga practice is the key to solve the problem. Heat is mainly caused because of the impurities in the Gastrointestinal Tract. Most of us don’t have clean bowels between two meals. For advanced Yoga practitioners when the energy is rising upwards it faces obstacles in GI tract because of the impurities. It’s not to suggest that there aren’t other areas where impurities might be present but the scope of this article is to address mainly the problem of heat. This is the main cause of heat but some other precautions must be exercised. Based on my own experience and guidance of learned ones–I’ve come up with following easy natural remedies. I don’t endorse treating heat problems with medications–they would just address the symptoms mostly–it’s better to use natural remedies.

Remedies

1. Hydrotherapy

It’s a simple but effective natural treatment for many problems like Diabetes, Hypertension, Constipation and many other diseases. But as per the scope of this article–we are discussing how it should be used for treating overheating of body.

You need to drink 1 litre (4 glasses) or more of water early in the morning as soon as you wake up, before brushing your teeth. Our mouth has many secretions during night and those ingredients are useful inside body–they act as the cleansing agents inside stomach. Find out your body weight. If it’s 60 kg–then 1 litre (about 4 glasses) and If it’s 70 kg–then you need to drink 5 glasses–adjust the quantity of water according to your body weight.

Don’t eat or drink anything for next 45 minutes after doing this. It’s good if you can drink the entire quantity of water in one go. But if you can’t then try drinking it gradually and gradually after a few days you would be able to drink the entire quantity in one go.

You can either lie down for a while or do mild walking–you might find that there’s an urge to go to toilet frequently for a few days–but after a few days the body would get habitual to this practice. This practice helps a great deal in getting rid of excessive body heat. Since scope of this therapy here is primarily to address body heat–the water used should be moderately cold.

Other than this practice you should increase water intake in course of day. When you feel that it has been more than 3-4 hours since you had your lunch–you can again try the similar routine. If you don’t want to follow the routine similar to the morning just keep drinking plenty of water. Don’t wait for hard thirst signal–keep drinking plenty of water. Also since excessive water intake is very likely to wipe salt out of your body–don’t forget to add a decent quantity of salt in your water after every few hours. For example: Suppose you’ve taken 8 glasses of water then you should add a teaspoonful of salt in the 9th glass of water. People who are undergoing awakening need an extraordinarily high amount of water because it’s the primary source of energy in body–contrary to what most of us believe hydroelectric energy is what keeps it all running for the most part. I found this article very useful while trying to cope with my own heat problems : Fire and Water.

2.  Diet

You might be aware of the general nature of foodstuffs. I mean whether a vegetable is hot or cold in nature. Ayurveda has given a clear-cut guidance about nature of herbs and vegetables. For example: Garlic is hot by nature it removes cough from the body but causes gas too. Ginger is also hot. Cardamom is cold and Turmeric is hot in nature. Brinjal causes gas. These are just a few examples. We consume scores of products as diet in our day-to-day lives. If you’re aware of the nature of the food and vegetables–then you would be aware of consuming only those stuffs which are cold in nature–as long as you’re suffering from heat. Yogic practitioners and advanced yogis almost always remain hot–therefore they can choose to consume hot stuffs mostly.

Avoid tea and coffee and alcoholic beverages as they’re very likely to increase heat and cause more impurities in path of rising energy.

3. Practice Schedule

It’s best to practice Yoga early in the morning between 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM. This period is known as Bramh Muhurta. There are is ozone in the atmosphere during this period and air is fresh. If you can’t practice during this period then try practicing around twilight. Sushumna path is clearer doing twilight. There are three main channels for the flow of life force energy. The Sushumna is the path which is conducive for the self-realization.

It’s important that you take a bath with cold water before starting Yoga practices. You should preferably practice Yoga on an empty stomach and you can also practice it after 4-5 hours after meal. Try to practice Yoga in a clean atmosphere where mechanical and human noises are least present.

4. Ida Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breathing are exercises which help clean impurities from passages through which energy flows. If these channels have impurities–you are very likely to feel heat and other complications. Therefore, before starting other breathing practices it’s a must to practice cleansing of Naadis. It’s simple to practice.

Sit comfortably–closing your right nostril with help of your thumb of the right hand–inhale through the left nostril fully. Hold the breath for two seconds–then using two of your right hand fingers close your left nostril gently and exhale through your right nostril. This is one cycle. You can perform 100 such cycles before going into other practices. If you find that it’s difficult to perform this practice–you know that there are blockages.

Alternatively this procedure can be performed with inhalation through right nostril and exhalation through the left but it’s not advised for those who are suffering from heat. It must be remembered that Ida or left nostril channel is the cold channel and Pingala or right nostril channel is the hot channel. If you simply keep inhaling and exhaling through Ida or cold channel–it would also help getting rid of excessive heat.

The Kapalbhati is a very useful practice and it cures you from many diseases but it’s important to practice it in moderation or stop practicing it altogether while you’re coping with excessive heat. Kapaal Bhati activates the solar plexus which generates heat.

Thanks for reading this article. I am hopeful that those who are suffering from excessive heat while practicing Yoga might find solace in these simple remedies. May God bless us all.

Om Shantih Shantih Shantih!

image courtesy: here

Ved Vyasa, Puranas, Mythology, Scriptures, Self-Realized Sages, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga

Shri Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, who is popularly known as Veda Vyasa was a great sage of Mahabharata era in India. He was the author of epic Mahabharata. He created Bramh-sutras which are foundation of all theistic schools of Philosophy in India. He splitted Vedas into four portions in order to facilitate their studies for people of his age. Prior to this division Vedas existed in oratorical tradition–transmitted from gurus to disciples in an endless succession in ancient India since time immemorial. He was also the compiler-author of 18 Puranas(Mythology/History/Itihasa) and many sub-Puranas which constitute majority of scriptures of Hinduism. 



Veda Vyasa was son of sage Parashara who was author of Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra–a very popular treatise on Vedic Astrology which is the basis for most of the present day predictive Astrology in India. 

The introduction above was necessary to break the ice. Now let’s start discussion on Puranas and Mythologies. Across the globe, in all  civilizations, Puranas, Mythologies and Fables exist. They serve a great purpose. They’re there to awaken you from your deep slumber. From an ordinary viewpoint they seem like having an inherent moral code. It seems that they’re there to teach you ethics but actually their purpose is to awaken you, because the quintessence of their teachings comes from your higher self, from your subtlest nature.


Under ignorance, it might seem that my  stories are better than yours. Truth is–they’re all just stories. Let’s understand it with certain examples–a person who is a devotee–practices Bhakti Yoga. This person might initially start believing that only lord Krishna is the supreme Truth and everything else is his reflection. He might believe that Bhagavata Purana is the supreme literature. It’s required for a certain degree of faith to evolve. It is good to have a great faith while pursuing Bhakti Yoga–but ultimately this Yoga has to dissolve the differences. When wholehearted devotion purifies the conscience–no differences remain–everything is seen as one–the deity is seen everywhere(in this case Krishna!)–that might well be Self–it makes no difference whatsoever. Actually, all paths take you to same place–to Truth. Only requirement is earnestness.

If you approach a person who is practicing Bhakti Yoga and tell him that those accounts of great war of Mahabharata or those of Krishna in Vrindavana are fictions–he will consider that you’re deluded…that you’re under the sway of Maya. It’s true that a devotee creates his own Truth like a Jnani creates his own. All of the scriptures and Puranas were created by the self-realized beings like Veda Vyasa in order to awaken people by various means. Bramh-sutras are very succinct and require a clear mind for realization. In order to explain Bramh-sutras, Vyasa created Bhagavata Purana and other Puranas. In other words Puranas are commentaries on Bramh Sutra. In order to inculcate teachings of Vedas he created Mahabharata. Women and outcastes were prohibited from pursuing Vedas, therefore Mahabharata, an epic which consists all fine teachings of Vedas was created by Vyasa. People in your universe don’t like dry principles. They love being submerged in divine blissful tales of Krishna–therefore Bhagavata is better than Bramh Sutra for purifying their heart. Consider all such creations—Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas–which is one of the most popular religious book in the Hindu community—Ramayana by sage Valmiki. Essentially they all contain just one message–a code to awake you from your slumber–though they appear having many differences to your mind. Differences are gross and they exist until your mind is gross–just refine your mind by attention and there are no differences. Just think–there are tens of versions of Ramayana–the epic tale of Rama. Why does the story of Tulsidas differ from that of Valmiki? Was there just one set of events or many?



Actually the events of Mahabharata and Ramayana did occur. That is why they form the skeleton of most of the scriptures and mythologies. Still, the flesh and blood in those bodies is creation of sages. The self-realized beings imbued them with various markers and pointers to awaken the devoted readers. 

 The sattva is harmony. The rajas is energy and tamas is inertia. Even the Bhagavata Purana is divided into three categories–sattvic part–describing pastimes of Krishna in Vrindavana. Rajasic —describing his pastimes in Mathura and earlier Dwarka phases and Tamasic–describing his pastimes in various wars like Mahabharata. It’s your own type of psyche which prefers one narration over another. When you realize that you need no imagination to purify yourself—all Puranas cease to exist for you. You become one with your ishta–you become Krishna. 




Poet saint Kabir says:

“When ‘I’ was, Hari(lord) wasn’t.”
“Now, Hari is, I’m not.”
“The galli of love is so narrow,
that two cannot enter in it together.” 

You alone are. This is the message your higher self–your alarm clock wants to give you. In Bhakti Yoga, you have to see your lord in everything and everyone and in Jnana Yoga, you have to see yourself in everyone and everything. There is no difference at all. 


The Bhakti Yoga has two types of knowledge. Both of these are ultimate but the former is quintessence, whereas later is required for understanding various expansions and pastimes of God. 

a. Tattva 
b. Prapancha.

Tattva says: Everything is Krishna–there is no difference between Krishna and Maya. There is no duality. Since there is nothing conscious, there is nothing unconscious either! Only Krishna is–and he is beyond consciousness and matter. He is not different from me. This is where Bhakti Yoga merges into Jnana Yoga. I would elaborate upon this aspect in another article someday.

Prapancha says: There are three since time immemorial—Krishna–Maya–Jeeva.

Important is to note that both of these approaches exist in Bhagavata Purana if you read it carefully.

Moreover: The basic difference between Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga is superficial at best, can be understood by paying attention to the final advice of sage Shukdeva to king Parikshita–in Canto 11. 

He says ” Realize your true self oh king! You’re God yourself. You are death of all deaths–death cannot kill you for you are immortal.”

There are innumerable pointers in various scriptures and Puranas. The need is to awake yourself. Veda Vyasa created ample amount of literature to awaken people in his universe. 



   image sources: 5. Shukdev
                            4. Kabirdas 
                            3. Tulsidas
                            2. Valmiki
                            1.Ved Vyasa