The Dhumavati Guhyavidya and the Kali-Yuga

(c) 2013 Durgadas (Rodney) Lingham
All Rights Reserved.

[This article has appeared in some of my books on Yoga and Tantrism].

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As children of Dhumavati and Kali (Nirrita), the highest transcendental truth, let us invoke their own inner, not outer spirits, and let us bow to their outer appearances and let them guide us with this higher knowledge, unto the state of Supreme Transcendence and dissolve our egos and Self into the great unknown!

The secret wisdom (guhya-vidya)of the present dark age of Kali resides in the Tantric Goddess Dhumavati and her hidden aspects and forms, as can be discovered in the Rig Veda.

In my earlier years in sadhana or spiritual practice, this crone form of goddess Kali appeared to me and was somewhat puzzling at first. Her aged appearance, her strange glances and her disproportionate face as Nirriti, the goddess of decay and spouse of Kali-Purusha (the deity of this age of Kali-Yuga – himself also known as Nirrita and Adharma) and also Asuri, Rakshasi and Danavi or Danu – the demon-goddess and mother of the Titans or Asuras herself isn’t always an auspicious symbol in Hinduism. Her practice takes place in a cemetary or cremation ground where one reveres datura as being sacred, being her rosary itself (or one can use human bone). She represents the ashuddhi (unclean) and the taboo of Hindu culture. She is Purani Dhumra-Bhairavi or the older form of the Smokey Bhairavi, the wrathful and terrifying form of the Goddess. Yet, she holds in herself, a deeper mystery – that of the dhumavidya or smoke-wisdom.

To start with, Dhuma vidya, which means ‘smoke wisdom’, must first be understood. Firstly, Dhuma as smoke relates to Akasha or Space, which is not simply empty but contains the potential of all existence. Space is also the Paramatma, the Supreme Self. The Supreme Self is also Prana or the Breath of Life. Here, she is the transcendental and unbounded (adi-ti – also meaning ‘primal reality’).

The Upanishads (Brihadaranyaka) explain this, and the fundamental keys to understanding the Dhumavidya or Smoke-wisdom:

Smoke is the Clouds (BU.VI.2.10)
Smoke is Fire (BU.VI.2.11)
Smoke is Prana (Breath of Life) (BU.VI.2.12)

The second thing we must note is that Dhumavati equates to the highest state of Anatman (non-ego) or Sunyata (Void) in Buddhism – what non-dual (Advaita) Vedanta in the Hindu school describes as ‘Neti neti’ (not this, not that’ and Nirguna (void of qualities). It is known as atattva (‘without principles) in the greater Saiva Siddhanta / Visishtadvaita systems.

It is also interesting to note that Jainism and Buddhism also used the svastika symbol – the Hindu symbol of the Self in their art-work and faiths. The svastika represents the Sun’s Rays and hence the Supreme Self as the Dhuma (smoke) or Prana (breath) form.

In fact, it is noted in the Upanishads also (Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, VI.2.9), that the rays of the Sun are Smoke! This ties into these ideas as well, as gives a better understanding of what the higher dhuma or smoke is, in relation to Vedic wisdoms.

Simply, when the Atman (soul) attains the state of the greatest being or Brahman / Mahaprana / Paramatma or whatever we may call it, this is literally the ‘non-ego’ state, since it no longer identifies with the body or the mind.

As the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states:


When the person goes away from this world, he comes to the wind. Then the wind makes room for him, like the hole of a carriage wheel, and through it he mounts higher. He comes to the sun. Then the sun makes room for him, like the hole of a Lambara, and through it he mounts higher. He comes to the moon. Then the moon makes room for him, like the hole of a drum, and through it he mounts higher, and arrives at the world where there is no sorrow, no snow. There he dwells for eternal years.”(BU.V.10.1)

The myth where Dhumavati ‘eats’ her own consort, Lord Shiva (himself being Atman, Prana or the Conscious Being), is the tale of the Self merging into the highest state of realisation – sunyata, neti neti ,beyond all form.

She eats him since the Mother in Vedic times was seen as speech or vak, and hence in the later Tantric tale where she becomes the ‘eater’ (Vedic Aditi), it relates to the organ of speech or the mouth. As also noted above – Dhuma or Smoke is also Fire (Agni) which consumes the sacrifice.

To understand this further, we must point to the Upanishads (BU.V.2.6), where it is stated that the Self is composed of three elements – Speech (vak), Mind (manas) and Breath (prana). These are the Mother (Speech), Father (Mind) and Breath (Child (verse 7).

Hence, by killing his parents Vritra and goddess Danu (later Dhumavati)  in the ancient tale in the Rig Veda (I.32.8-9) the deity Indra is able to transcend both mind (father) and speech (vak) and therefore merge into his own self-formlessness, known as Prana, which we know as Dhuma (smoke).

By committing such an act of evil or wickedness, Indra in a material or mundane physical sense can be seen as the deity Kali / Nirrita or Goddess Dhumavati. But as we see with Vedic Indra, as with Dhumavati, there is a much higher sense relating to Prana and transcending the mind and senses in order to reach such a state. Vedic Indra is also a deity of lightning (vidyut), which is born from the clouds, which as above as stated, is also Prana in the form of Dhuma (smoke). 


The teaching here is that we must become the Mother through rising above the senses and all forms of maya or illusion, which in a sense, is Dhumavati in a lower form, as maya or illusion (creation), is the cosmic smoke-screen that obscures our spiritual view and outlook. So, we must embrace that darker side of smoke through the maya, in order to realise its higher potentials. That is where we come to the subject of Dhumavati, the Smoke-Wisdom and the dark age of Kali Yuga, our present age which began around 3102BC with Krishna’s disappearance from this earthly dimension.

The personality of Kali (masculine and short vowels, not goddess Kālī ), the demon this age is named after, is also called Nirrita (destruction), Adharma (non-righteousness) and his wife is called as Nirriti, Alakshmi (Poverty – anti-Lakshmi) etc. which are names for Dhumavati. She is the crone form of Goddess Kālī and also worshipped in India as Chamunda, and her appearance is usually more gruesome than the Goddess Kālī, since she is her mother. Kālī is actually Vedic Indra’s later female counterpart, and hence the correlative tales.

As briefly noted, in the Vedas, Dhumavati relates to the widow-Goddess Danu, the spouse of the demon of eclipses named Swarbhanu or Vritra (obstruction). Vritra, as noted as the father, is the mind.

He eats the Sun (symbol of the Self) and sometimes also the Moon (symbol of the mind or ego). In later Hinduism he is known as Rahu, the immortal head of heaven. Danu like Dhumavati is a widow-goddess, since her son Indra slays his own father, making her a widow.

From this, we see that the deity of this age, Kali (Rahu, Nirrita), or rather his Shakti – Dhumavati-Nirriti, is, in fact, the key to the highest Realisation. So – are we really in a dark Age or an age where sinful souls can be quickly elevated?

The secret here is that Dhumavati’s followers do not see poverty. They are the ideal Yogis – possessing nothing and yet being merged with the highest transcendental truth, which is expressed asPara-tamas (transcendental darkness) – the Void beyond. Poverty and distress – ‘evil’ so to speak, to them, does not exist, as she is, in fact, the wickedness of society – dirt, death, decay, poverty etc. of which we all dread (since we possess the ego, which she consumes).


So in truth, this dark age of Kali Yuga is, in fact, the age of Dhumavati! It is the age of her devotees, where they can grow into great Illuminaries for the world – teaching that (outer) suffering can lead to the bondage of the ego for the material – but also the forcing inwards for the spiritual, and thus realising the highest goal within her own infinite being.

Her great teaching is that in the pursuit of material possessions, we become karmically entangled. Due to the bondage of the ego, we do not want to invoke her, as she comes to us as distress and poverty – what the ego fears most in its lust for control. The individual Self which tries to find it’s original place in the cosmos, or ‘find itself’, cannot due to the bondage of the ego blinding it.

Thus, Dhumavati is actually a blessing in disguise. This age is her cremation ground through which we can invoke her (since her shakti is prevalent in this age more so) for positive purposes to destroy the ego and consume our outer self. This is metaphorical; to consume our ‘sun’ and our ‘moon’, or as some Vedic texts mentioned have referred to it, as the mother and father etc.

Tamasic (dark-Natured) deities such as the Rahu-Kali and Dhumavati are usually shunned – since they attract the negative results that are actually the transcending powers which drive us away from ego!Brahmins, the highest caste of those who carry the inner knowledge, it is known, can also be greatest possessors of ego, since Brahma the creator, and Vritra were both originally Brahmins who Shiva or Indra beheads.

 

Even the popular Indian deity Ganesh, the elephant-headed divinity that removes obstacles and grants wisdom and wealth, began as the priest of the Celestials known as Brihaspati (a Brahmin Seer of theAngirasa lineage), who in later tales was beheaded by his father Shiva.

This tells us also that the Devas (deities) or Brahmins in India had to be checked many times, due to their egoic traits. These later became not just historical, but also spiritual examples.

Anything that we fear or hate in society can function as Dhumavati or Kali. But this is just a dualistic standpoint from the ego’s outer perspective, lost in the ‘outer Dhumavati’ or obscurity of maya or illusion.

As true non-dualism teaches – how can even the most impure or wicked people such as criminals and witches – social deviants not be part of the Supreme Consciousness? They are all manifestations of the One Supreme Truth and as such are even lauded in the great Rudram chant of the Vedas. The One Being must be perceived in all, and it transcends all forms, both the good and the bad.

This is why we see things in Hinduism, such as Supreme deities like Shiva, who surround themselves with wizards, ghouls, ghosts and prefer to have pets such as a wild jackals and owls and dwell in cremation grounds.

In such imagery – it is as a test for the ego – since only those who go beyond the mind can enter such realms and see the higher truth that lies beyond them.

Smoke is also the great force that takes us above into the higher realms of the Clouds or Prana when the body is consumed. As the smoke rises above the Fire, it thus shows that it is the shakti or force that guides us upwards into the Celestial realms and above.


This is why we find many Tantric Masters in India such as Vamakhepa acting in a bizarre way, committing and social taboos. Or why Vedic Indra and Shiva commit such acts as slaying their own parents, eating flesh, drinking wine or Soma etc. These are a spiritual challenge to our ego-attachment to outer forms even of the good, not meant to be taken literally

There is also the greatest or highest truth represented here in this age. One can invoke the higher transcendental tamas or darkness in this age, and have the opposite effect of the times: rather than being a bound soul due to the materialism and perversity of the age, one can invoke and grasp the highest forms of Kali or Dhumavati, and transcend all of the ages and the worlds – ascending to the highest state of para-tamas (transcendental darkness), the non-dual state!

Each age has its own wisdom, but here presented is the greater wisdom of the deities for this age. One need not embrace or fear this age, or its actions, if one can see the higher teachings it presents through the deities ruling it, and their own higher / transcendental teachings!

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The Wisdom of the Asura

We are now in the manvantara of the cycle of Manu Vaivasvata, the seventh progenitor of the humanoid species, which means we have undergone seven generations of Devas or celestials and their transformations. As the older Devas are displaced and their incumbents take place, these older ones become Asuras, the “mighty ones” and also “breaths of life” (pranas). These are the Biblical ‘fallen angels’ such as Lucifer that were once powerful, mighty and such, but were later considered as fallen.

Such however is merely one level of interpretation. These are older souls that possess mighty wisdom as with Asura Medha, the great deity Ahura Mazda of the Zoroastrian faith. Here, the Daevas (Devas) become lesser evil subordinate forces to the Ahuras (Asuras) or the greater divinities that were older. Such is also reflected in Saivism and Tantra, where the ghouls and hosts (bhutas, ganas) and the retinue of Lord Shiva’s followers are these daityas, danavas, rakshasas and such – powerful and mighty former divinities. Mythology represents them (as is human nature when times change and new epochs appear with new Devas) as being subordinate forces and even evil as in the Hindu Puranas or historical tales – however, the older texts such as the Vedas represented their names in a more yogic metaphoric light. Vritrasura for example as the serpent-demon was Indra’s nemesis, but also the inspiration for the immoral grahas or planets as Rahu  and Ketu, which hold an important place in Hindu mythology, reflective of the antara or inner nature of the Devas themselves!

Here, the Asuras are often the higher, para (transcendental) and antara (inner yogic) forms of the Devas or divinities, that represent the bahyamarga or outer-path of exoteric ritualism. It is for this reason that the most important yogic deities are often difficult to handle, access and deal with, such as the forms of Shiva and Shakti in their manifestations that may appear as less savoury to the human mind-body complex or ahankara (ego); they challenge it and may appear even antagonistic and thus ‘tamasika’ (dark-natured), but only as we cannot understand their deeper symbolic imagery hidden within the depths of yogic enigmas. We see what is pleasant and nice (sukha) which our ego equates as ‘sattvika’ or pure and shun what is suffering (duhkha) and death (mrityu) as avidya (ignorance)Yet, we forget that the highest reality is not Saguna Brahman or the supreme with qualities, of which the highest is the deity Vishnu representing sattvo-guna or the quality of purity, but Nirguna Brahman – the supreme without qualities, who is asat (non-being / non-truth), nirakara (formless) and thus also primal transcendental chaos (adya paratamas). It is the highest darkness as Goddess Kali, the goddess of that which is dark or time itself in its greater form (Mahakala) – death personified and the devourer of all things, including the ego-self complex! The soul, even when liberated from the various bodily sheaths, must plunge itself into the dark unknown to really harness transcendental bliss (parananda), hence the Buddha described such as state as void / emptiness (shunyata) and also anatman (state of ‘no-soul’. i.e. where the jivatman or individual soul merges with the paramatman or supreme soul and ceases to self-identify at all, as it has undergone complete merger and absorption).

These lessons are the lessons of the Asuras who have ‘been there and done that!’ They look from the higher stations beyond the myopic world of the younger generations of divinities. They are the Maharishis or great seers of yore that originally revealed the Vedas encoded in poetic mysticism through numerous lineages from before time itself and of whom are not approachable, wicked, curse people, but are in fact irreprehensible as being beyond our known conception of “reality” itself. They exist beyond even the Purusha or Cosmic Man, which we identify with as the ‘Cosmic Self’ – as this state itself isn’t the final nor highest station in yogic lore! Rather, it is merely the start of the lens.

Thus, while the Devas may take us to the Purusha, we require the agency of higher forces belonging to Shiva-Shakti as the yogis, yoginis, dakas, dakinis and others to liberate us from these to the higher parachakras beyond this mere ‘opening’. This is where we commence the true vamamarga or left-hand path and related systems!

 

 

BOOK EXCERPT: THE ASHWINS DECEND ON EARTH: The Esoteric Story of Ramana Maharishi and Ganapati Muni

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Excerpted from my book Ashwini Rahasya: The Yogic and Ayurvedic Secrets of the Ashwin Gods”, Chapter V.

 

In the great Hindu Epic, Mahabharata, we learn that the twin Ashwin Gods took avatar (decent) on earth, in the form of the twin Paurava brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva.

As discussed elsewhere, the Ashwins represent, as twins, all of the dualities in Yoga and Vedanta, such as Soma (Divine Bliss or the Moon) and Agni (Fire, Sun) and also the Yogic breaths of Udana (Up-moving) and Apana (descending), Ida and Pingala Nadis or Solar and Lunar currents on the Left and Right of the Body in Yoga, as well as the Twin-Gods Mitra (The Sun) and Varuna (The Waters).

Of these, however, are other forms that the Ashwins represent. As Masters of the divine Yogic-Power, or Shakti, they are Masters or Lords of the Shakti, the Goddess personified as Power. As such, they correspond to Dakinis or attendant goddesses of the headless Tantric Goddess of Lightening and Enlightenment – Chinnamasta. These attendant goddesses or Dakinis of hers are known as Jaya and Vijaya or Dakini and Varnini, and also represent all of the dualities as above.

This comes from the Vedic tale of the headless Seer Dadhyach, the Guru of the Ashwin Gods. Like Chinnamasta, he also represents the inner wisdom and Lightening.

As we note elsewhere also, as twins, the Ashwins represent the force of Wind – portrayed as Prana (breath of life), Vata or Vayu (wind) in Sanskrit. It is also the Self or Soul (Atman).

The god who represents this wind-force of duality in India is Shiva or Indra, the Yogi God. Shiva has two sons – Skanda, the god of war, born from his fire, and Ganesha, the elephant-headed lord of wisdom, born from Shiva’s feminine side or Shakti.

Now, we know that the Left of the Body is the Goddess or Shakti, representing Soma or the Moon. Ganesh is therefore born from this aspect.

The Right of the body is the Sun and Fire or Shiva or the God, and hence Skanda the god of war and son of Shiva is born from this aspect.

In essence, when merged in this regards, both merge into Shiva, the Wind-force (Prana, breath of life or Vayu, wind etc.), representing the “Union” of the Two Ashwins, or the Ida and Pingala – Lunar and Solar channels in the Yogic body, or the Two Breaths etc.

What is interesting here is that great Rishi of Arunachala in southern India – Ramana Maharishi, was said to be an incarnation of Agni or Skanda, the God of War, and his disciple and authority on the Vedic texts – Vasishtha Ganapati Muni, was said to be the incarnation of Ganesh (or Soma).

Ganapati Muni also worshipped the Goddess Renuka, the headless goddess Chinnamasta in a more human aspect. This hence also connects these two Seers with the twin forces of the Ashwins, as the attendant-goddesses Jaya and Vijaya, and shows Ganapati Muni and Ramana Maharishi as incarnations of Jaya and Vijaya’s male-counterparts – the Ashwins, as the gods Skanda and Ganesha.

The other Twin-Gods associated with the Ashwins and representing their Powers, Mitra and Varuna – the Sun-God and Water-God of the Vedas, also gave birth to two Rishis or Seers – Agastya and Vasishtha.

Agastya is the patron Seer of southern India and associated with regions such as Arunachala, where Ramana Maharishi spent much of his life. Ganapati Muni descends from the Vasishtha Seers, and hence shows his connection to Vasishtha the Vedic Seer.

We hence see that through history, the Twin-Gods, the Ashwins have had many incarnations through other deities, as their children, and also represent the powers of the Gods themselves.

These powers are dealt with in “Ashwini Rahasya”, but here, we discuss the importance of the Ashwins in regards to Maharishi Ramana and his disciple Ganapati Muni.

So, along these lines, we can almost say that Ramana Maharishi and Ganapati Muni are also connected to other Seers in India, such as:

The Twin Ashwin Gods, as represented in the incarnation (avatar) as:

Mitra the Vedic Sun-God and his brother Varuna, god of waters
Seer Agastya and his brother Vasishtha
Soma (Moon God) and his opposite power Agni, God of Fire
Ganesh and Skanda, the sons of Shiva
Jaya and Vijaya, the attendant-goddesses of goddess Chinnamasta
Ida and Pingala or Lunar and Solar channels (nadi) in the yogic body

The god Krishna is also an incarnation lauded as a form of Soma (Moon), connected to the Lunar Dynasty in India, and delight (ananda). He is the incarnation of Vishnu, the preserver and hence a “lunar-natured” deity.

His brother Balarama is an avatar of the god of Wind and Fire, Rudra or Shiva in his form as Ananta, the great cosmic serpent.

Krishna and Balarama are hence also the Two Ashwins who, not unlike the Vedic Gods Mitra and Varuna, represent also the powers of the Fire-Sun and Moon, and hence also connect to Ganesh (Krishna as the Moon) and Skanda (Balarama as the Fire).

In this regards, Balarama, Krishna’s brother connects to Ramana Maharishi, having the power of fire and inner-insight, like a serpent. Skanda the god of war connects here also, since Balarama was also a teacher of Vedic martial-arts or Dhanurveda. He was hence connected more to the male-god – Shiva, as through Arunachala mountain.

Krishna connects to Ganapati Muni, who worshipped the Goddess, and as the god Ganesh, is of a more feminine nature, as also through his lunar or moon connection (Soma).

From this, we can deduce the following:

Ganapati Muni, Rishi Vasishtha, god Varuna, Lord Krishna, Ganesha and the Goddess represent the Moon (Soma) and the Left-side of the body, known as the Ida-nadi or Lunar channel. It is of a watery nature and represents Maya (Illusion) as the Goddess or Shakti, and is hence feminine in nature. It is the “Guru” form that helps us attain the Supreme Self, or Indra-Shiva, representing the Wind.

Ramana Maharishi, Rishi Agastya, god Mitra, Krishna’s brother Balarama and the war-god Skanda and the God (Shiva) represent the Fire or Solar (Agni or Surya) and the Right side of the body, known as Pingala-nadi or Solar-channel. It is of a fiery nature and represents the Atman (Self) as Lord Shiva or Indra, the masculine force. As the Self, it is attained only through worship of the “Guru” or Shakti forms on the Left-side.

These two then give rise, from the Right or Fire-Solar and “Self” side, to the Supreme Self (Paramatma) or Great Father-God, Rudra-Shiva, who represents all of these dualities combined, beyond Moon and Fire or Soma and Agni, and thus beyond Male and Female (Shiva and Shakti), representing the force of Breath (Prana), Vayu or Vata (Wind, Air), which is unseen, formless, without qualities (nirguna).

Rudra-Shiva as the Self thus represents these dual forces of the Ashwins combined, or Agastya and Vasishtha, Mitra and Varuna, Krishna and Balarama etc. combined.

By these examples, we also see that Skanda is the “inner form” of the god Ganesha, who grants him wisdom, in the same way, that Ramana Maharishi was the silent seer (Muni) and inner form of his “spiritual brother” Ganapati Muni, and gave him his wisdom. Ganapati then wrote these insights down, “manifesting them” in the physical world.

This can also be seen with the Seer Agastya and brother Vasishtha. Agastya, being older and representing Fire or Agni and Shiva-male etc. is thus the “Skanda” form or Inner-Guru of Vasishtha Rishi.

On this note, the Seer Vasishtha is connected to the Great-death Mantra (Mahamrityunjaya Mantra) of Shiva in the Rig Veda, which perhaps came from his Guru Agastya, but also the Goddess, especially in her form as the River-Goddess Saraswati – representing the jointed channel where the Ida and Pingala meet, also known as Sushumna, and runs up the centre of the spine.

Agastya thus gave Vasishtha his inner-wisdoms as the Shiva-form, and as the “Guru” or Goddess form, Vasishtha manifested these in the Veda, and extols the forms representing these dualities combined, as the Self-deity (Rudra-Shiva through his Shiva-hymns and the Central-channel through Saraswati hymns etc.).

On the breaths, Ganapati Muni (or Ganesh, Soma, Varuna, Vasishtha etc.) would represent the Up-moving (Udana) breath as creation, and the cosmos (vishva), as Maya or the Goddess.

Ramana Maharishi  (or Skanda, Agni, Mitra, Agastya etc.) would represent Down-moving (Apana) breath, referring to the destruction of the universe and the senses (indriyas), bringing us closer to the Self-God, Shiva.

When both breaths unite, as “Twins” (Ashwins, Mitra-Varuna, Krishna-Balarama etc.), then it forms the equalizing, stabilizing or “stilled/calm” breath (where all senses are destroyed or subdued by the Shiva-force in the right of the body), called “Samanavayu” or the equalizing-breath.

This “Samanavayu” represents again, the great Father-God and Supreme-Self (Paramatma), Rudra-Shiva, as Prana (Breath of Life), father of these Twin-gods or forms/manifestations.

In Ayurveda, these forms connect to humors or doshas, known as Kapha, the water; Pitta, the Fiery and Vata the Wind.

Kapha or the Waters is thus the Left of the Body as Idanadi, the gods Varuna, Krishna, Soma, Ganesha and Seer Vasishtha and Ganapati Muni, which is hence the Goddess. It is balanced through  Udana-vayu or up-moving breath.

Pitta or the Fiery element is thus the Right of the body as Pingala-nadi, the gods Mitra, Balarama, Agni, Skanda, Seer Agastya and Maharishi Ramana, which hence represent Indra or Shiva, the god. It is balanced through Apanavayu or down-moving breath.

Vata or the Wind-element is thus the balancing force, represented by the sexless Supreme Self-God, Rudra-Shiva, where all forces are combined and twins or dualities meet. It is hence balanced by Samanavayu or equalizing breath.

We hence see here in this discussion article, that the traditions of the decent or incarnation (avatar) of the Ashwin Gods apply even to the later Seers, Ramana Maharishi and his disciple Ganapati Muni.

Let us hence apply this esoteric Yoga, as it was applied thousands of years ago in the Rig Veda!

So You Want To Learn Ayurveda?

There are many questions surrounding studying a new system, especially considering why people come into them. Ayurveda is one such area I have seen this, which has often become more of a fad than anything else.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong in studying a new system to integrate such within one’s own life, to add additional knowledge to existing fields of medicine, massage, yoga and such with Ayurveda, or having a deeper interest in healing itself. Such reflects good students who one day, after much training, will make good practitioners, and are what we also hope for through our Academy of Traditional Ayurveda.

However, many wish to study to become teachers, before they are even practitioners, or have any actual medical background, study and training – let alone practice in clinical settings! For such people, the study of Ayurveda moves from being motivated by inner desires and a pull to being egotistically and monetarily motivated – much like yoga has become in LA and NYC amidst the rich and famous! It doesn’t breed quality, but rather quantity. The question we may ask here is, is this a good thing?

Before embarking on such study, we ask all students to consider the following:

1. Do I want to learn Ayurveda to practice it, or simply learn it to integrate it?

2. Do I wish to learn Ayurveda simply to expand on my knowledge of Vaidika related knowledge and/or yoga for a personal concern?

3. Do I one day want to become a Practitioner of Ayurveda, after much practical clinical study, and am I prepared for such?

4. Do I want to learn, just to teach Ayurveda and simply by-pass the clinical sides and experience?

These are all important questions one should ask themselves before committing to study Ayurveda and the demanding challenges such study poses. It is, after all, a complete medical system and not simply a spiritual system that is easy to learn and implement in practice! It is the old story that many coming into it from a primary level, after reading just a few books and such, feel they are qualified to embark on advanced studies that even most Ayurveda Practitioners find challenging!

The golden rule here is that we must remember, we need to learn to crawl before we can walk, let alone run a marathon! This takes time. And in spheres of medicine, it requires experience, creative thinking and above all, clinical experience and training!

All the best!

Namah Shivaya!

Disease Pathogenesis: The Old and the New


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According to the Old-World texts, disease (roga) was a manifestation physically of astral bacteria as a result of a war between the darker (asurika) and lighter (daivika) forces, as seen throughout the ancient world as the war between Osiris and Seth, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman and Yahweh and Satan. The light (jyothi) representing the state of health (arogya), while disease manifested due to the subtle and causal forces of the darker (tamasika) nature.

As time went on, we find out texts dwelling more on these as per the karmic nature and concerns of individuals alone, and less on the environments in which we lived, which we became more densely populated, material and less spiritual, gave rise to rajasika or more active materialistic karmas that generated plagues and other diseases, often specific to castes that were less pure or spiritually shuddhi (clean or pure), as the materialistic kshatriya (warrior) and vaishya (mercantile) castes and professions people adopted. Here, the disease was then centred solely upon the physical and less upon the sub-astral and causal origin of disease, beyond the scope of the mere physical manifestation, which included the science of microbiology. This is why performances as agni-hotra and yajnas in ancient times as also worship, purified individual minds and also ritualistic, living and other spaces, to prevent such diseases from occurring due to the unseen forces of darkness behind the airborne bacteria and physical diseases themselves – as well as nefarious forces prompting prajnaparadha (mistake of the intellectual faculty by humans, by way of avidya (ignorance).

This is why healing cannot simply be limited to the physical alone or astral alone. It must encompass and understand all of these – start with the physical body via pure diet and lifestyle to avoid tamasika and nefarious influences and move slowly up towards the physical, purifying all levels. This was indeed the process in the Vaidika sphere and its many social injunctions, elaborate yajnas and daily rituals, as well as later Hatha-Yoga regimes that aimed at first purifuing the physical body, then thus, therefore, purifying the mind and only then, being able to access the inner worlds and spiritual dimensions and deal with these – thus overcoming all afflictions through inner purity and transcendence of the three realms of physical (sthula), minute (saukshima) and causal (karana), where then, one can beyond to the individual Self (Atman) and at such stage, behold the supreme Self or Godhead – Paramatman / Parambrahman and become free, merging within it’s essence.

We have forgotten that as ages change and cycles change, the previous manvantara’s (or cycle of Manus) Devas or celestials take the back-bench seat as the Asuras, the older cosmic powers that become jealous of the newer, younger and more vital leaders – much as in politics, where the former cabinet in power becomes the opposition for a period, and often becomes somewhat inimical to society due to this demotion in status and power. Here, the older previous-Devas, but now Asuras become jealous and wish to assert their power and powers upon lesser creatures as humans, and also inflict the demigods under the Devas as well. They wish to remind everyone that they still do exist, though their status is diminutive, their powers still exist, just without the prestige they once had. They are, in a sense, “fallen” from grace, and rather than go into (as some do) a period of solace and meditation, still retain their ahankara or egotism of control and dominance, as zealous elders that cannot make way for change, evolution and transformation.  Here, it is the old story of the demiurge that always seeks to control, compared to his son, Shiva-Seth, that has found the hidden message within the self-Self, not the body-Self, as the now Asuras.

The true Self is not the body – it is the “neti-neti”  neither this, nor that. It cannot be qualified and is nirguna (without qualities). We have to negate the ahankara or ego to first arrive to its door, which is why only the highest of the celestials above the Devas and Asuras alike, as Shiva and the great goddess Mahashakti present, with their boon of life beyond death – transcendence from samsara (reincarnation) by the offering of the Atman or Self, which must first be preceded by the offering of the ahankara or ego – the murdha (head), as we see with several figures in Hinduism, who lose their heads before attaining such a state.

Here, relative to disease also, it shows what lengths we must go to, to be able to transcend it at the causal root beyond the physical realms of even the finer tanmatras or atomic principles that compose the mahabhutas or great elements, as subtle as ether and oxygen, and what exist as latent darker forces within them (as each has a third of sattvas or pureness and truth, of rajas or aggravation, kinetic energy and also tamas or dark energy and matter) within them, as per Hindu thought.

Today, however, we look solely at the face-value alone, and the external signs, symptoms and manifestations. We don’t look at the inner darker sides behind these and their cosmological counterparts. We have even forgotten how to read the pulse and deeper spiritual sides of esoteric healing as the heavenly charts of people to ascertain their personal karmic journeys and possible outcomes in this life, and specifics to overcome them, as was once interwoven in elaborate ritualism, along with personal sadhana or spiritual discipline to reduce and negate these forces (karmic and otherwise) – that went hand-in-hand with physical modalities as alchemy, pharmacology, diet, lifestyle and even surgery in the old world, forming a complete and integral system of healing, once known as ‘the branch of knowledge (veda) of Life itself (Ayu)’.

For these reasons, the Old World texts or shashtras speak of diseases behind cured by attacking and warding off asurika spirits – constituting the primal (causal) level of healing, down to the physical, which was the tertiary. The charms, amulets and such incorporated specially calculated times that were mathematically auspicious and specific offerings – as of herbs as neem and turmeric, that had anti-bacterial properties, especially when burnt, or infused with specifically calculated sound-formulas that delivered the mind (mantras) from physical woes. The ancient Sanskritists were often mathematicians, such as Pingalacharya to Aryabhata that composed various formulas based on Sanskrit and it’s aksharas or letters of the alphabet and syllables, being mathematically quantified.

We have forgotten the old Asuras as we have embraced the new Devas – but now, we have forgotten even the current generation of Devas that are our personal benefactors, with the human buddhi or intellect, that in this Kali-Yuga is plagued with vices as avidya (ignorance), ahankara (egotism), kama (lust), raga (desire) and such for the material world and harvesting its minerals and wealth for further material gain built upon the earth, rather than for healing ourselves and putting back onto the earth. We don’t regard native peoples’ abodes as sacred and heed their warnings, but we charge ahead without rituals and asking permission and build on such territories, and wonder why we then suffer. No Feng Shui or Vastu is employed, as in the older times.

Is it any wonder then, that new diseases arise, due to our own ignorance and meddling, failure to perform bhutashuddhi or elemental and earth-purifying rituals as havanas and yajnas to ward off bacteria and increase spiritual space – let alone earn the wrath of both the older generation of Asuras and the Devas who have replaced them?

Where is the ‘Grace’?

13321808_10153444060112470_754286811910189846_nPushti or grace is what we all seek. Whether it be from one’s tutelary deity, a state figure or our celebrity icon. We wish to be recognised for our efforts of adulation or at least wish to gain some validation from them, by way of benediction!

For many, grace doesn’t manifest. We feel either (a) we have failed (a very Catholic mentality of shame and guilt) or (b) we renounce our belief altogether. Yet, the reality is that we forget that the Central Deity, the supreme Brahman is impartial and acts only via intermediaries as Mahadevas (greater divinities), guiding the lesser upadevas that are specific to our world, composed of elements. Our own social beliefs, depressions and failures may sometimes be so internalised that we forget that the higher grace does exist, and become so cognitively dissociated from it, that we fail to recognise the signs.

Let me give an example: Many yogis in India lost everything in the pursuit of the truth, but such allowed them to penetrate into the deeper yogadrishti or deeper insight beyond that with attachments, due to the grace of vairagya or detachment bestowed upon on them. Others, such as Sri Krishna were great warriors and kings, with great responsibilities, or statesmen such as Bhishmacharya. Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana Maharishi remained in poverty for much of their lives but possessed the great gift of atmajnana or soul-wisdom.

Grace (saumya / pushti) however always manifests – we as humans simply need to recognise the signs, rather than seeking the rajasika (materialistic) explanation of such, or rather, physical signs alone. This is in the realm of the tantrika adepts of the vamamarga or left-hand path in a more physical sense, who seek siddhis or yogic powers over inner-wisdom (atmavidya) and transcendence. Here, the Goddess as the great power (Mahashakti) manifests as per our own psyche. She manifests our own inner wants and wishes as the illusion (maya). If we delude ourselves into thinking wealth is our thing, then she appears as Mahalakshmi – ever ready to bestow material comforts – but for the true aspirant or sadhaka with the proviso of it being a temporal boon to teach the lessons of the (spiritual) dangers of such and cautions. This is why many yogis are born rich, but leave all for a life of transcendence – as the Buddha.

Never feel that grace is not received – it is. We just simply have to transcend the social structure of rajasika and tamasika signs to recognise such as being received!

In the past, I have been critical of certain religions. Yet, we see good and bad Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and others. We see good and bad atheists. What matters is how you see yourself and to be true to such, meaning to try and gain a deeper understanding and acceptance of others’ beliefs and the nuances of their systems, beyond the face value. Sometimes, younger religions and off-shoot dharmas don’t always do this, regrettably, a bit like a younger child! Yet, sometimes the older religions with their orthodoxy and parenting can become too rigid and dogmatic as well. We must find a balance.

Santosha or contentment is also a key value. This means being content with others and understanding them first through an examination of individual traits and also their spirituality. Sure, there are hypocrites everywhere, as we live in a very dual-world. Yet, we can find santosha and ananda (bliss) everywhere in creation if we just seek it. A beautiful flower, a gift from a friend or unexpected fruitful circumstances – a lovely sunrise, sunset or beach, scenery etc. Why do we take so much for granted?

Grace can be found everywhere. We simply have to drop our egotism to see it and allow the grace of the celestial Soma to descend upon us, by opening our hearts and our minds to the divinity closest to us!

Jai Mahashakti!

Who has Traditional Authority?


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This is often a good question and one that continually raises its head in a world of plagiarists, social media “likes and shares”, as well as ‘redistributed (plagiarised) ownership’ of various articles, phrases, quotes and such bereft of the original owner’s names, credit and such – in addition to cultural and social appropriation!

The number of excuses I have heard where people, using disclaimers on their own page and copyright notices, have repeated verbatim from my books and articles – sometimes in the form of entire phrases, without references, citations or even a brief bibliography or references at the end of their work. When challenged, the notion of the inferiority complex hiding behind the demon of faux superiority raises its head with neo-vedantic verbosities along the lines of as “all is one” and “we all own all things” – after complaining a week later that someone took something from them or ripped them off! Cognitive dissonance is a great thing…

Relative to traditional lineages, we may ask who has authority to repeat teachings. Well, as one will see in my works, I commonly give obeisance to, reference and also cite where needed, the influences of various teachers, including my own. I am proud to be a part of their traditions and lineages and make this no secret that I am. In such traditions, while we repeat tradition – we constantly reiterate to whom or what our words belong or views originated and who has influenced us with their systems. Why keep this a secret, unless we wish to generate our own cult?

While it is noble that many westerners try and appropriate Hinduism and rebuke systems as the Aryan Invasion Theory, generated by their own brethren – there is no need for them to act as true Hindus and Indians while doing so, and try and appropriate our feelings, views and those of our own traditions! What they should do, is keep their own people in check, and their own traditions, which is what we as Indians are trying to do. We’re not proselytising and advertising for new Hindu converts, as if we required more middle-aged white men and women – the former with bad eyesight, prematurely receding hairlines and pot bellies that think they are “ideal yogis“, then we’d put up adverts on the TV!

We live in a world where we are born male or female as a consequence of past-life karma, yet we wish to be something else. We have the samskaras of a chef, yet we think we can ignore that and become a Priest! The reality, as I have said before, is that one must go at the pace as per one’s own swadharma in this life, which isn’t forced.

Learn about your own history and traditions first, before leaping from Christianity to Hinduism. It’s a major leap, and one that doesn’t simply give you the entitlement to our traditions, nor to speak on them or systems – especially not ones that I and others have generated. My teacher David Frawley, for example, has come up with the term “intellectual kshatriya” that has been influenced by Aurobindo and others, of which he admits – but the concept is as unique to him, as his famed titles as Arise Arjuna and Awaken Bharata, which have become almost synonymous with his name, just as Integral Yoga was with Sri Aurobindo. We honour these traditions and personalities when speaking about these systems and our own lineages, not try and pretend we invented them!

We must be careful not to grant ourselves the authority to proclaim something. As noted, I often mention David Frawley, Maharishi Dayananda and others who have influenced my work and been teachers and make no secret about this. Why keep such a secret – people know I expand upon their works and I don’t simply go out of my way to state I was born with such knowledge and make bizarre claims as I have seen with many western figures and cults. Many Indian Gurus have done this as well – taken off from the likes of charismatic figures as Osho and even Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Yet, that is not tradition.

There are various forms of steya or stealing – violating the yogic tenet of asteya or not stealing, which includes plagiarism. These may be conscious or deliberate, unconscious (oversight) or semi-conscious (meaning one gives very vague hints and thinks that is enough). Our influences should all be transparent and our lineages and personalities involved should be noted. This helps people understand where we are coming from – outside of citations, references and in books, extended bibliographies. We need to be clear in some works where ideas have arisen (unless they are commonly known – such as TM’s techniques of SRF’s Kriya Yoga etc.). Yet, even then people will claim lineages and paramparas and state personalities, not be vague, which helps glue dots for readers and those listening to lectures and such.

Authority is hence a major topic relative to tradition, and one merely touched upon here. It has to be honoured and respected, especially when we are from the outside. If I was accepted into an African or Polynesian tribe for example, I would simply help to educate the western world into better accepting them, but not represent their traditions or stand up on a soap-box as if I am one of them and believe I understand their traditions and pains – as I wasn’t born in their world. I can only do my best to understand it in this life, be grateful for their acceptance and be a mere help to them, as guided by them as per their wishes, where I can! As long as they are alive, however, I cannot appropriate facets of their traditions into my own in a vain attempt to gain a following of like-minded Colonialist-minded people who also follow the non-indigenous authorities and who have likewise appropriated heavily from them!