The term "yoga" was there at the time of Upanishads, much before Vedavyasa, and much much before Pathanjali. Vedavyasa's time was 3100 BC approx. and Pathanjali's time was 400 BC approx. Yoga was defined in the beginning by the Vedic rshis, in the yogic Upanishads such as Nadabindu, Brahmabindu, Kshurika, Dhyanabindu, Brahmavidya, Yogakundalee, Yogathaththwa, Yogashikha, Thrishikhibrahmana, Mandalabrahmana, Hamsa, Yogachoodamani, Shandilya, and so on. Yoga with six parts, called as Shadangayoga was discussed in Dhyanabindu and Yogachoodamani Upanishads, excluding the yama and niyama of Ashtangayoga. In Amrthanada upanishath, Shadangayoga was discussed with the inclusion of tharka, and with the exclusion of yama, niyama and asana. Ashtangayoga was discussed in different details in the yogic Upanishads, such as Yogathaththwa, Mandalabrahmana and Shandilya Upanishads.
Vedavyasa gave two definitions for yoga in the “Bhagavadgeetha”, and discussed about the greatness of life as well as that of yoga, especially that of karmayoga. Pathanjali gave one definition in the “Yogasoothra”, and formulated the process of yoga, by discussing about the hindrances to the achievement of yoga, and the methods to overcome them. That is why I keep saying that Pathanjali is the greatest scientist, who experimented on the inner organs (Anthahkarana – Manas, Chiththa, Buddhi, Ahamkara). At the same time, I keep saying that Vedavyasa is the greatest philosopher, as he discussed the secrets of the individual existence as well as those of the universe. Obviously, the person Vyasa, who wrote commentary on yogasoothra, is not Vedavyasa, but some other person with the same name, who studied Yogasoothra in detail.
The true yoga is completely an individual experience; but most of the people are unrefined, and hence not yet ready for this path. It requires personal guidance and inspection from an able teacher, to ensure that the right path is followed, for the purpose of self realization. But when yoga became popular among the people, many others started practicing it only for the sake of physical benefits, thus slightly deviating from the principles set by Pathanjali, and there arose an assumption that, the practices of yoga would lead to supernatural accomplishments with everyone who practices them. Thus there is a necessity to make people understand the divinity in the true form, and to make them mentally and intellectually evolve, such that people will live an ethical and disciplined life, for the purpose of spiritual enhancement and progress. Hence, in order to annihilate the misinterpretation of the term “yoga”, Adi Shankara discussed the philosophy of Vedantha in much larger detail, and advised the people to follow the nididhyasana with the fifteen parts, in his treatise “Aparokshanubhoothi”. These fifteen parts include all the eight parts of the Ashtangayoga, but discussed with the viewpoint of the Vedantha. Further, Adi Shankara wrote many other treatises in which he discussed about the secret of the self and the process of salvation in much larger detail. He also recommended Sadhanachathushtaya (Viveka, Vairagya, Shatsampaththi (Shama, Dama, Thitheeksha, Uparathi, Shraddha, Samadhana), Mumukshuthwa). Thus, Adi Shankara enhanced the system of yoga, and aided people in obtaining a clearer picture about the six Darshanas, especially Vedantha. That is why I keep saying that Adi Shankara is the greatest teacher.
“Shreyas Centre for Yoga” was established at Bengaluru, India, in the year 2000, to teach, practice and explore the science of yoga, along with the real aspirants of true yoga. The founder, Mr. Aravinda K. is the disciple of Yogashree A. S. Narasimhamurthy, who has been teaching yoga at Adi Shankara yoga Kendra, Bengaluru, since 1970’s.
The teaching process at “Shreyas Centre for Yoga” follows the Gurukula system of ancient India. Ashtangayoga of Pathanjali is being taught as junior level, which includes the rishiculture of Paramaguru Dr. Swami Geethananda Giri of Pondicherry. Later on for the aspirants, Rajayoga is being taught and practiced as senior level, following the teachings of Vedavyasa, Adi Shankaracharya, and the other anonymous seers and yogis. The junior level is more of practices, and the senior level is more of theory and studies of the related holy Sanskrit and Kannada scriptures.
The complete course spans into approximately 6 years, with classes only on Sundays, with Ashtangayoga as Junior level (for 1 year – 100 hours), and Rajayoga as senior level (for 5 years – 750 hours: Poorvabhyasa, Paramavidya, Jeevanavidya, Dharmavidya and Thanthravidya – each module spanning into 1 year each). The teaching process follows the Gurukula system.
We practice six sets each of gross, subtle and causal exercises for self-improvement and self-realization. The sets consist of large varieties of asana, pranayama, prathyahara, dharana and dhyana. The asana practices come under gross exercises, pranayama & prathyahara come under subtle exercises, and dharana & dhyana come under causal exercises. We have learnt them from the lineage of the teachers, not just one, but many sacred people, who devoted their lives for the science of yoga. Many of them are anonymous seers. Some of them can be named as – Maharshi Vedavyasa, Maharshi Pathanjali, Adi Shankaracharya, Rshi Gheranda, Swathmarama, Sadashiva Brahmendra, Swami Sivananda Saraswathi, Swami Geethananda Giri, Maharshi Amara, Ajitha Kumara, Swami Sathyananda, Swami Niranjanananda, Maharshi Vedadri, and Shree A. S. Narasimhamurthy.
In addition to the practices, we are involved in the studies of sacred scriptures that are related to the science of yoga. Hence, we are highly inspired and educated by the other spiritual achievers such as – Maharshi Manu, Acharya Chanakya, Basavanna, Allama Prabhu, Akka Mahadevi, Vidyaranya, Kabeer Das, Purandara Dasa, Kanaka Dasa, Sarvajna, Shishunala Shareefa, Maharshi Dayananda Saraswathee, Ramakrshna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Maharshi Ramana, Shree Sachchidanandendra Swaraswathee, Malladihalli Raghavendra Swameeji, Pandith Sudhakara Chathurvedi, & the innumerable seers of Bharathavarsha.
Sri A. S. Narasimha Murthy
M. Sc. from Mysore University.
Trained under Dr. Swami Geethananda of Anandashrama, Pondicherry for 5 years, in yogasana, pranayama, relaxation techniques and meditation.
Has been teaching yoga since 1969, and has taught to more than 15,000 students till date.
Initiated Saptharishi Meditation Technique to more than 3000 students.
Aadhyathma Yoga Sadhana Sangha in 1969. Founder Aacharya for Aadishankara yoga kendra in 1974. Conducts free Yoga classes and free Veda classes.
Written 9 books on yoga. Published a number of Audio Cassettes and CDs.
1. Pathanjali gold medal award from Govt. of Karnataka (State award). 2. Yogashree award from Bangalore yoga centre. 3. Vidyarathan (Yoga) – National award from Shubharam Trust.
Testimonial #1 –
I suffered from asthma for nearly 15 years since my college days, and I tried all types of medicines for the same; out of all the medicine types, ayurvedic medicines gave me much relief; but asthma remained with me. Later on, I used to carry asthalin inhaler in my pocket always. I went on becoming weaker due to the steroid intake, and I could not get any permanent remedy at that time; doctors were telling that asthma is due to heredity, and it will remain lifelong, and I was thinking that I may not survive till 60.
It was my fortune that I learnt yoga from the Gitananda tradition, from my guru Sri A. S. Narasimhamurthy of Adi Shankara yoga kendra, Bengaluru, with whom I came in contact through my close friend Srinatha Sagara Bindumadhavachar Nagaragadde, and I practiced wonderful pranayama methods such as Mahathyoga, Savithri, Nadi-shuddhi, Bandhathraya, Panchasahitha, Ekadasha kriya etc. After 6 months of regular practice, my energy level increased considerably, and my asthma vanished completely. And I am proud to say that dust, smoke, moisture and cloudy weather do not affect me anymore. In the last 15 years, general illnesses like fever, headache and cough have also gone away from me. And when I shifted my profession into academic teaching, the practices like Kaki pranayama helped in keeping my voice healthy. I owe my life to this beautiful science of the practices of ashtangayoga, whose origin happened through Maharshi Pathanjali, and the science evolved through the centuries by many sacred yogis and seers.
And this sacred tradition of yoga continues through Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, the son of my Paramaguru, at Pondicherry. And the greatest gift for the science of yoga is that the complete family, including father, mother and son, are involved in the teaching and research of health and yoga, along with the spiritual and cultural activities, which is very very rare. And I feel extremely happy to say that Dr. Ananda is a postgraduate doctor, yoga teacher, researcher, Mrudanga player, and the couple together are classical dancers and classical singers. It is hoped that the children also follow the footsteps of the parents, and make the grandparents proud. May be this is the only family in the world this way, where tradition flows through children; otherwise, in general there is a misconception that yogis have to be in renunciation. This sacred family is a classical example of karmayoga.
It is a good thing that yoga is becoming popular everywhere, and it is a bad thing that many yoga teachers are becoming cheaters. As most of the yoga schools are not even aware that the pranayama methods mentioned above exist in the tradition, they are teaching only those ones that are mentioned in the yoga text books. As the science of pranayama requires personal contact with the teacher, especially for the ones with Kumbhaka, it is not possible to put them straightaway in any textbook, just like, it is not possible to learn swimming, cooking, dancing, singing, through textbooks.
Any artistic practice has to be learnt in person, and the crash courses or short term courses do not help. Hence, there is an urgent necessity for all of the yoga teachers to learn these traditional sacred methods in a systematic manner. The two authentic sources which I have identified in India for the study of pranayama are: Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry, South India, and Bihar School of yoga, Munger, North India. Two great books for the same are: "YOGA: STEP-BY-STEP" by Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri, and "Prana, Pranayama, Prana Vidya" by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati. I hereby request all the yoga teachers to learn first and then teach next. At the same time, I request the public to be aware of the same, before considering anybody as a teacher. Otherwise, the Eeshavasya upanishath states: Andhenaiva neeyamaanaa yathaandhaaH | (as the blind ones leading the other blind ones).
Aravinda K. (2015)
Testimonial #2 –
I worked in two telecom industries for nearly 18 years. In my second industrial profession, I was asked to take classes on wireless communication and mobile telephony. Daily I had to talk for about three hours, with a small break in between. As I was not used to continuous talking, I had regular throat infections and voice issues. As talking was part of my profession, day-by-day, my voice health worsened, and I had to find some remedy. I searched for many solutions, and I finally found the following remedies:
i) Practice of Kaki pranayama, after each talking session
ii) Practice of Swarashodhana kriya, once in a while
iii) Planning pauses in between, by writing and drawing on the board
iv) Reducing the talking volume, based on the needs of the situation
v) Sipping water every once in a while, throughout the period
vi) Consuming black pepper kashaya, after going home
Due to these careful practices, I could maintain a better voice quality, and the regular practice of nadi-shuddhi and bandha-thraya helped me immensely, in maintaining clean and healthy nostrils, throat and lungs. After a few years, when I shifted into academic teaching, the methods mentioned above really worked out wonderful for me. I carried water-bottle to every classroom, in spite of my colleagues looking at me, as if I am doing something wrong. They used to look at me in a strange manner, when I used to practice Kaki pranayama and Nadi-shodhana kriya, in the staff room as well. But I did not care for any of such looks, as I knew about the importance of my health, and if I did not perform these remedies at those times, I knew that I will have continued infection of the nose and the throat. Nowadays, everyone admires my vibrant voice, but they don’t know the hardships I had undergone for maintaining the same.
Last year, a meeting with a competent surgeon was organized in our institution, for the benefit of the teachers. The surgeon was an ENT specialist, working in a reputed hospital, and he had served in US as well, for several years. He explained the complete anatomy of the vocal cords beautifully, along with relevant pictures on the powerpoint slides. At the end of the session, during the audience interaction, I told about my issues and practices, and demonstrated (1, 2), and asked his opinion. He appreciated (3, 4, 5), but said that (1, 2) both are bad for the health of the throat, and should not be practiced. As the surgeon was an allopath, I did not discuss the last remedy.
I strongly insist that my voice health has remained vibrant only because of (1, 2, 5). The remedies (3, 4) are not always possible, as it depends on the particular subject of discussion. I have been practicing Kaki pranayama since last 15 years, and 15 years of practice is really a very long time, for any standard conclusion. Hence, I conclude that my experience is more valid than the expert opinion, because, in the medical profession, experts would have only studied the subject and would not have experienced the same! Hence, in spite of the surgeon telling that (1, 2) should not be practiced, with due respect to his knowledge and profession, I will keep practicing Kaki pranayama and Swarashodhana kriya throughout my life, as I want to have the same vibrant voice always. The sources of my learning are: (1) is from the rishiculture of Dr. Swami Geethananda Giri, (2) is from Yogavana Swamiji, (3) & (4) are from Dr. Bharath Chandra, (5) is from internet, and (6) is from the common remedy of my elder family members.
Aravinda K. (2016)
Testimonial #3 –
Yoga has been there since the time of Upanishads, as a path for self-realization. Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Meemamsa and Vedantha are called as the six Dashanas or Shasthras, which are meant for the attainment of the ultimate truth. Out of these six, first two help in understanding the individual existence, next two help in understanding the material existence, and the last two help in understanding the universal existence. Thus, all the six Darshanas have their own role in providing a divine culture towards the contemplation of truth.
Through the study of ancient history, it becomes clear that the path of yoga has been a challenging one for the average human beings. It required extraordinary effort on the part of the yogis to attain the absolute state, and then to state it in a comprehensive way to the common human beings. Pathanjali did a great job for that matter, by formulating the yogasoothras, such that the aspirants of yoga are clear about the obstacles as well as the attainment. And in those days, speaking as well as writing in Samskrtha was a norm, and hence it served the purpose.
Alas, after the repeated attacks of the foreigners into India, the ancient method of knowledge transference got disturbed, resulting in the upheaval of the education system, and the people studying the Samskrtha language became lesser in number. Later on, the study of Samskrtha was meant mostly for the priests to memorize the hymns for the conduction of the ceremonies. If this is the case, then how do we expect people to study the yogasoothras and understand yoga? Thus, the science of yoga was diluted down to the practice of asanas only, with the addition of large number of varieties and variations. The common people were taught these asanas in the name of yoga classes, in which the classes were limited to physical exercises and nothing else, and gradually the common people were made unfit for self-realization.
At this juncture, when the real system of yoga is hidden inside the monasteries for the monks to practice and to realize, I mention two great personalities who revolutionized the system of yoga education to the common public: Swami Sivananda of Hrishikesh and Swami Geethananda of Pondicherry. Both of them were qualified medical doctors, who turned into monks. Both of them have written volumes on yoga, and have given discourses on yoga. And the divine will was that one stayed in the northern part of India, and the other one stayed in the southern part of India.
Eariler, Swami Vivekananda had put heavy efforts in popularizing the knowledge of the ancient rshis in an international way, and in awakening the divine spirit within the Indian community. Hats off to him, for his immense and non-tiring task of spreading yogic as well as vedic knowledge to the world. But alas, he could not teach those practices to people in general, as he remained too busy in answering the questions everywhere. Later, Swami Sivananda made a mammoth effort in popularizing yoga for health and vedantha for realization. Swami Geethananda went one step ahead, and popularized the science of yoga all over the world, and preserved all those great practices of the sacred tradition of Ashtangayoga. We may not find any other example in the whole world of a monk living as a family man, and living among the common people, and at the same time, having interaction with the scholarly ones, for the practice and preservation of the great science of yoga. To top it all, his family is continuing the same tradition, training his grandchildren as well. Do we find any other such inspiring family in the whole world? I am really fortunate to be blessed that I am part of this great spiritual tradition.
Aravinda K. (2017)
Many people stop at the practice of asana. Some proceed further into pranayama.
A few proceed further into dhyana.
Who obtains self-realization?
Who attains true yoga? What is yoga?
Is the teaching complete without the discussion of food and health?
Is the teaching complete without the understanding of the five sheaths?
Is the teaching complete without the study and understanding of the Upanishads?
There is a necessity to understand and practice Gayathree manthra in the classes.
There is a necessity to chant Vedic sookthas, Sahasranamasthothra and Panchadashee.
There is a necessity to make the students to study the original Samskrtha yogic scriptures.
In general, using the word of yoga, people are being fooled around, all over the world, in many different ways. For the formal education, people spend decades in acquiring the material knowledge, and later they expect to obtain spiritual knowledge very urgently. The mass is generally foolish, looking for immediate solutions, for the problems created by the mass itself. Moreover, the common people require a channel, to outburst their emotions, or to forget their problems temporarily. They do not understand the fact that the spiritual learning and education also requires a considerable amount of time. The other intelligent hypocrites capitalize on this ignorance, and give them temporary solutions, by means of superficial discourses, singing of personified songs, performing of lengthy useless worships, many secret techniques and initiations sometimes, and so on. Many times, in some of such programs, relaxation gets mistaken for realization!
Spiritual knowledge can neither be attained by means of such crash courses, nor by any religious rituals. It is possible only by serious introspection, correction and intuition. The theistic faith systems are bound by their own religious customs and idiotic worshipping rituals, believing God as an external personification, and hence are unable to realize the absolute truth, that they are the embodiment of the divine, as they are not involved in practicing the divine principles within. On top of it, some others are only involved in the dry study of books, as an intellectual pursuit, without making an effort to develop the intuitional abilities. Furthermore, the atheistic faith systems cannot talk about true spirituality. Whatever they talk about, will remain superficial, as the source of creation is never going to be discussed. Remaining silent does not mean that the divine facts are inexpressible!
We will not mention the worth of any short-term spiritual classes, which are happening all over the world. Alas, hardly any school of yoga teaches deep theology and philosophy; most of them only teach to keep on practicing the techniques, without studying about the self. Hundred years of meditation is not going to obtain self-realization, unless meditation becomes true. Hence, it is futile to keep on justifying ourselves. At ancient times, Socrates and Lao Tse had told the absolute truth in a philosophical way. Later, Moses and Jesus Christ told about it in a theological way. Buddha and Jina remained silent about it. But Vedavyasa and Adi Shankara have told the truth in both the ways. Pathanjali’s definition of Kriya yoga is, Thapasswadhyayeshwarapranidhanani kriyayogaH | Further, Maithreyee upanishath states thus - Abhedadarshanam jnanam dhyanam nirvishayam manaH |
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
When the student is ready, the teacher is always there.
Student should ask – Have I become ready?
Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri
Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri, at the age of 88, was one of the most potent and effective forces in the field of ashtanga yoga worldwide. Trained in modern allopathic medicine, he combined the ancient traditional spiritual sciences with a modern scientific temperament. His hundreds of thousands of students around the world were attracted to his clear, rational, scientific expositions of ancient philosophical and spiritual concepts. A practical man to the core, the technology of yoga which he transmitted to his students has proven an effective method of attaining perfect health, well being, personality and intellectual development.
Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj was the purveyor of a vast, scientific, rational and systematic body of yoga knowledge. He embodied in himself the Bengali tantric tradition of his life-long guru Sri Kanakananda Swamigal with the Shiva Yoga and ritualistic expertise of the line of gurus of Sri Kambliswamy Madam, as imparted to him by his predecessor Sri Shankaragiri Swamigal. The vast living and vibrant knowledge which he imparted so freely to hundreds of thousands of students included a complete and rational system of Hatha Yoga practices which provided a base for the higher techniques. For those who prepared themselves properly, he offered a complete system of jnana yoga techniques to purify, steady and cultivate the mind, and free it of hang-ups and false concepts and conditions.
Those few who were able to deepen, concentrate and purify themselves sufficiently were led along an amazing path of raja yoga practices, which initiated the disciple into the psychic world of spiritual energy, colors, forms, sounds and shapes, sensitizing the seeker to the meditative qualities of mind and matter.
Swami's expertise and contribution to Indian society was recognized by the Central Government when he was appointed in March, 1985, as a member of the prestigious Central Council for Research in Yoga, under the Ministry of Health, New Delhi. In 1986 the President of India, Sri Gnani Zail Singh, awarded him the title of "Yogashiromani" at the World Yoga Conference in New Delhi.
Swami looked every inch a Rishi, with long flowing white hair and beard and a majestic stance. His magnetic personality dominated the stage wherever he went. He was a marvellous orator, capable of holding crowds of thousands in thrall with his large-hearted humor and resonant voice. When he entered a room, all felt the effect of his presence. A disciple once described Swamiji as, "A locomotive engine which can pull innumerable cars along behind with its sheer strength and power."
A strict disciplinarian, Swami did not allow his disciples to make any excuse for the deviances from the yoga path. He cut away layers of false conditioning with a single stroke with his sharp tongue, totally transforming the lives of all who came in close contact.
He would often joke, "I am not here to make money or gain your votes. Therefore, I do not have to please you. My joy is to help you grow. And to grow, you have got to shed all this false conditioning which binds you back." His approach to living was entirely positive. "Iti, iti. God is This. God is that. Everything is God," he would say.
He was a born teacher and taught yoga his whole life from the age of 13, even while in the midst of a busy professional and family life. For most of his life, he was an inveterate traveller. He made ten world tours, spreading the message of his gurus. He set up Ananda Ashrams wherever he travelled and lived in the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Australia.
He was one of the active founders of the modern yoga sports movement, and had done preliminary work towards getting Yoga asanas accepted as a demonstration sport in the Olympic games. He was the sponsor of the First International Yoga Asana Championships in January, 1989, in Pondicherry. He had also sponsored four World Yoga Conferences in Pondicherry and was the inspiration for the two International Yoga Festivals held in 1993 and 1994 in Pondicherry by India's Department of Tourism which attracted over 500 delegates from 26 countries. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Founder of Hinduism Today in Hawaii said, "Nowhere in the world have I seen Hatha Yoga performed as well as it is at Swami Gitananda's ashram."
One of his foremost messages was, "Yoga is a way of life." He was an exemplar extraordinaire of his own words and lived life fully, consciously and skillfully. One of his major projects was the upliftment of village children through yoga and the Carnatic cultural arts. To this end he founded the Sri Kambliswamy Yoga and Cultural Arts Program, in which more than 10,000 children studied Yoga, Bharata Natyam (traditional dance) and Carnatic vocal music free of charge.
He was the author of 25 books on the science of yoga and publisher of the international yoga journal, Yoga Life. He was a popular though somewhat controversial figure in Pondicherry as his outspoken and forthright views were not always understood. His vibrant personality, however, touched everyone, and he was open to all. His roar woke many a sleeping soul to the higher values of a truly human and humane existence. He will be sorely missed by all who understand the need for and value of the ancient life principles contained in ashtanga yoga, especially for modern man who, lost in the mad melee of materialism, cannot see the path out of all this madness.
Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Guru Maharaj, like the Rishis of old, shouted for those with ears to hear: "Lo! A way has been found! A way has been found out of all this darkness!" And he, like the true guru that he was, led hundreds of thousands of persons along that path to light.
Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj was born on July 24, 1907, in Maharajganj, northern India, to an Irish mother and a Sindhi father. He attained Maha-Samadhi on December 29th, 1993.
The work and teachings of the great Guru are being carried on by his son and successor Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani and his wife-disciple Yogacharini, Kalimamani Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, who is the resident Acharya of Ananda Ashram.
The Early Years Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj was born on 24 July 1907, in Maharajganj, northern India, to an Irish mother and a Sindhi father. His father, Sukraj Bhavanani, was a High court Advocate in the Patna High Court and an extensive landowner. His mother Leelavathi was converted to Hinduism through the Arya Samaj rites. Yogamaharishi received his early schooling at home from his mother. Tragically, his mother died when he was but eight years of age. When he was ten years, his Guru, the great Siddha and Master, Yogamaharishi Swami Kanakananda Bhrigu, (Ram Gopal Majumdar) entered his life. For six years, he studied in the Guru Kula of his Master, imbibing not only the traditional education, but also the great mystic sciences of Yoga, Tantra and Yantra.
When he was sixteen years of age, his Guru sent him to England to study medicine. After receiving his medical degree, he entered the British Royal Navy to serve as a doctor on board several ships during World War II. He was injured during the war, and used the time recuperating to further his medical education. He migrated to Canada and set up his practice there, also establishing Yoga schools and centres wherever he lived. Pujya Swamiji was one of the pioneers to introduce Yoga to the Western mind in the early 1950s. He was also instrumental in hosting many visiting Yoga Gurus and Swamijis at his centre in Vancouver. In addition to his busy medical practice, he traveled widely lecturing and teaching. He worked several years for the US Atomic Energy Commission in the United States and also took up assignments for World Health Organisation in South America.
He returned to settle permanently in India in 1967 and established the Ananda Ashram in Lawspet, Pondicherry in 1972. In 1975 Srila Shri Shankaragiri Swamigal appointed Dr Swami Gitananda Giri as Madathiapathy of Sri Kambali Swamy Madam, which was then a dilapidated Samadhi site of around five acres in Thattanchavady near the Lawspet Ashram. Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri undertook the renovation of the ancient Samadhi site with great enthusiasm and built what was acclaimed as the Shanti Niketan of South India and An ideal Guru Kula on the Madam lands. Thus Swamiji who was the representative of the North Indian Brighu lineage also became a representative of the Saiva Siddantha Yoga Tradition of South India.
Gurus of the Kambaliswamy Madam tradition include Srila Sri Kambaliswamigal, Srila Sri Ambalavana Swamigal, Srila Sri Manikka Swamigal, Srila Sri Shanmuga Swamigal, Srila Sri Velu Swamigal, Srila Sri Subramaniya Swamigal and Srila Sri Shankaragiri Swamigal. Pujya Swamiji became an active fighter for Hindu rights and leader of the Hindu community in addition to his many other numerous duties. He served as vice president of the All India Association of Maths and Ashrams under the president ship of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal the present Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.
From 1968 until his Samadhi on 29 December 1993, Swamiji offered every year a six-month Intensive Residential International Yoga Teachers Training Course in his Pondicherry Ashram from 2 October through 31 March. This annual course has been continued uninterrupted to this date. In this intensive 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. per daily schedule, students are instructed in classical Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga. Hundreds of Asanas, Kriyas, Mudras, Pranayama, Raja Yoga practices, Kundalini techniques and higher meditative activities as well as yoga theory are studied in great depth. The Yogamaharishi used to tell his students, In six months I will give you enough material to occupy your Yoga Sadhana for not only one, but several lifetimes. In addition to this busy teaching schedule, in which every single class was taught by the Yogamaharishi himself, he also edited from 1970, an international English monthly Yoga journal YOGA LIFE.
He wrote twenty-five books on the subjects of Yoga and made ten world tours and more than twenty All India tours. He was the Chief Guest for innumerable Yoga, Medical and Scientific Conferences, Seminars and meetings held all over India and was in great demand as a speaker because of his immense and charismatic vitality. Known as the Lion of Pondicherry he was a great example of an ancient Yoga Rishi (Seer). Majestic in bearing and manner, with luxurious flowing beard and hair, and a magnificent, booming, powerful voice, Swamijis dynamic personality captured the hearts of people wherever he went.
Pujya Swamiji was Patron and President of many Yoga and Scientific Organisations World Wide. Notably he was Patron of the Indian Academy of Yoga with headquarters at the famous Banaras Hindu University. This is an organisation of eminent Yogis, professional men, scientists and doctors interested in Yoga. He was President of Vishwa Yoga Samaj, a World Wide Organisation of Yogis, and Vice President of the All India Association of Madathiapathis. He was also the Governor-General for Yoga (1992–1995) in the World development Parliament (Vishwa Unnayan Samsad) with headquarters in West Bengal, India. He trained many students in Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga. His students have established more than 135 centres of Yoga in 30 countries around the world.
He received many honors in his lifetime. He was chosen by the Ministry of Health, Government of India, New Delhi, as a Governing Body Member of the prestigious Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy in March 1986 and he held this post till his death in 1993. He was awarded YOGA SHIROMANI by the then President of India Sri Zail Singh at the World Yoga Conference held at the Asian Village, New Delhi in December 1986. The Vishwa Unnayan Samsad at New Delhi honoured him in 1992 with the title Father of Modern Yoga Science. Pujya Swamiji had himself organised five World Conferences in Pondicherry, attended by professional persons and Yogis from all over the world. He sponsored the First Ever International Yoga Asana Competition in Pondicherry in 1989. Since that time an International Yoga Competition has been held each year in various places in South America, India and Europe. He was one of the driving forces behind Yoga Sports. In this regard he is considered the Founding Father of the Yoga Sport Movement. Due to his inspiration and support, the Government of Pondicherry instituted an annual International Yoga Festival from January 1993 in Pondicherry, which features lectures by eminent speakers, Yoga Asana Competitions, and Yogic cultural programmes etc. Due to his influence, the Government of Pondicherry has also instituted Yoga teaching in all Government schools from 1997.
Pujya Swamiji collaborated with many films makers in making educational films on Yoga, including the famous film MUDRA by Rajiv Mehrotra. He also was the guiding spirit behind the immensely popular television series YOGA FOR YOUTH, directed by Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani which has been broadcast for several years from 1989 over Doordarshan, India’s national television network.
Swamiji was a great scientist and researcher and presented more than thirty papers on his scientific research into Yoga at various Conferences throughout India. He collaborated with scientists from leading institutes throughout the country including AIIMS in New Delhi, NIMHANS in Bangalore, DIPAS (Indian Defense Institute) in New Delhi and JIPMER in Pondicherry.
Masterpieces Of Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga Instruction Containing A Synthesis Of Classical Yoga Concepts With Modern Scientific Knowledge:
1. Yoga Life: Monthly Journal
2. Yoga: Step-By-Step
3. Yoga Samyama
4. Yoga Life Annual
5. Yoga World Wide Directory 1992
6. Siddhis And Riddhis
7. Yoga For Expectant Mothers And Others
8. Yoga – One Woman's View
9. Yoga And Sports
10. Surya Namaskar
12. Tribute To A Great Guru
13. A Heart That Is Distant
14. Frankly Speaking
15. The Ashtanga Yoga Of Patanjali
16. A Yogic Approach To Stress
17. Yoga And Modern Man
18. A Primer Of Yoga Theory
19. Yoga: 1 To 10
20. Yoga For Breathing Disorders
21. Hatha Yoga of Gitananda Yoga (Tamil)
22. Gita Inspirations (Poetry & Short Articles By Swamiji)
(Collected by his son Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani)
Believe nothing. Know everything.
Do not depend on anything outside of your own self. Yoga is the original science of self help.
Everything is there for your use. Nothing is there for your misuse.
Health and happiness are your birthright; claim them. Spiritual realization is your goal; pursue it.
If there are any distractions, either outer or inner, then concentration cannot be undertaken.
It is the not the chosen few; it is the few who have chosen.
Pranayama is the key to life – that is, a yogic life.
There is only one secret in this Universe, and that is … there is no secret!
Watch the breath, until you become the breath.
Yoga is a scientific system of conscious evolution.
Yoga is the mother of all sciences. Yoga is the mother of all religions.
You don’t have a problem; you are the problem.
A Gurukula is a place where learning is by absorption, rather than by superimposition of mundane knowledge.
Dharma is the highest expression of cosmic truth; it is to know the reason for personal existence and to unfold consciously through experience back to the cosmic state.
Mudra and yantra are concerned with self realization through development of the intuitive, psychic faculties of man in the most positive manner, allowing self control and mastery.
Mudra yoga is a classical school of practice, where hands, feet, body, emotions and mind are all used in actual or symbolical gestures.
Possibly no single factor associated with the life of a youth takes him farther from religion and God than modern education.
The Gita is a medical textbook on a very high level, where in eighteen chapters each one containing a specific yoga, the eighteen human senses are dealt with.
The transition from reductive analysis and deductive thinking to the real wisdom is the next giant step for man.
We cannot solve our problems. But the practice of yoga techniques will help us dis-solve the problems. We never correct our flaws; rather we outgrow them.
When in doubt, …act, …don’t think. If you are right, you will succeed. If you are wrong, you will soon discover it, and the consequences of the action will burn out the karma of your error.
There can be no yoga when the mind wanders, when there is no awareness or consciousness. The most perfect Asana becomes nothing more than a gymnastic, if the consciousness and awareness are not fully present in the body’s posture.
That which cannot be followed in day-to-day living should not rightly be called religion. Life is to be practical, simple, uncluttered, efficient, rewarding and enlightening. Anything in one’s life that tends to confuse, distort or derange, should be shunned as one’s mental and mortal enemy. These are the real teachings of the Gita.
Mr. ARAVINDA K.
Involved in the teaching of the art and science of yoga, since the year 2000. The complete course spans into approximately 6 years, with classes only on Sundays, with Ashtangayoga as Junior level (for 1 year – 100 hours), and Rajayoga as senior level (for 5 years – 750 hours: Poorvabhyasa, Paramavidya, Jeevanavidya, Dharmavidya and Thanthravidya – each module spanning into 1 year each). The teaching process follows the Gurukula system.
- Currently working as Senior Assistant Professor in the department of Electronics & Communication at New Horizon College of Engineering, Bengaluru.
- Since 1988, worked with two telecom industries, as (R&D Engineer) and (Senior Engineer - Mfg). In 2006, shifted over to academic technical teaching.
DATE OF BIRTH:
31st January 1966, Karnataka, South India
B.E. in Electronics (Bangalore University)
M.S. (Engg.) in Computer Applications (Newport University)
M.Tech. in VLSI design & Embedded systems (Visvesvaraya Technological University)
Currently pursuing PhD (Amrita University)
Other educational qualifications: (All at Bengaluru)
Basic course in Art of Living (Sri Sri Ravishankar)
Ashtantagayoga course at Adi Shankara Yoga Kendra (Sri A. S. Narasimhamurthy)
Basic course in yoga at Vivekananda Yoga Kendra
Master course in Kundalini yoga (Vedadri World Community Service Trust)
Pashupathayoga workshop at Hari Om trust (Dr. Narayan Savant)
Shakthi-sumeru kriya at Sadhana Sangama trust (Sri Pattabhiram)
“Samskrtha Kovida” and “Geetha Kovida” from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Basava-Siddhalinga Nijayoga Shibira at Yogavana hills (Sri Kapardi Siddhalinga Swamiji)
Workshop on Science of spirituality at Pyramid valley international
Article in Kannada: Pranachaithanya: published in Prajavani daily, 05.03.2000
Article in Kannada: Dehadarshana: published in Prajavani Deepawali edition, 2001
Article in English: Gist of the main ten Upanishads: published in Yoga life, International monthly magazine, 2015
Book: Ashtantagayoga: Reference book for the Junior level of yoga
Book: Arogyavidya: Reference book for the general maintenance of health
Book: Poorvabhyasa: Reference book for the preparatory module of Senior level of yoga
Book: Paramavidya: Text book for the first module of Senior level of yoga
Six video DVDs (in Kannada) on the practice of Yogasanas
One audio DVD (in Kannada) on the practice of Ashtangayoga
MUSINGS OF A SPIRITUAL TEACHER
I need not bother about the people stopping attending my classes.
I need not bother about the people continuing to attend my classes.
I need not bother about the people in the future status of my classes.
Because in net effect, it is me who is being benefited from my classes.
Because in net effect, it is me who is learning all the spiritual lessons.
Because in net effect, I am not the teacher; the teacher is within me.
I am being taught by myself; that is, i am being taught by my Self.
I know that people will not understand everything out of the class discussions.
But, I should keep expressing all that which gets exhibited out of my system.
I know that they will realize the truth only when they come across the situation.
Still, I should keep expressing all that which gets exhibited out of my system.
I know that, if I don’t tell, then they will get degraded by the social conditioning.
So, I should keep expressing all that which gets exhibited out of my system.
After all, it is That which is expressing itSelf through me and through all of us.
As a teacher, I should tell right as right and wrong as wrong.
The right and wrong are not defined by me, but by the seers.
I know that the majorities are involved in doing wrong things.
They have become the slaves of their senses and other needs.
I know that wise are the minorities and foolish are the majorities.
But if I don’t tell about right and wrong, they will remain that way.
After all, crops need to be grown, and weeds will grow on their own.
Any emotional asset is not to be valued in physical terms.
Any spiritual knowledge cannot be valued in terms of money.
Yogic teaching-and-learning is not a mere trade of give-and-take.
True teacher-and-student relationship will not end after the course.
If I don’t fix the fees, it doesn’t mean that the teaching is of low standard.
The teaching is of highest standard, as the channeled wisdom is invaluable.
Fools are those who value all God-made-things in terms of Man-made-money.
Knowledge can never be individual, and is always collective.
The infinite wisdom is being expressed through every individual.
Many such individuals are involved in writing the books on spirituality.
If so, why should I write books, only to add to the existing innumerable ones?
So, I choose to write only that which gets channeled out of me, when I am ready.
I become compelled to write the direct truth, instead of the indirect way of addressing.
I am trying to bridge the gap, and write that which is not commonly available to the aspirant.
The readers can send their questions that are related to life science, philosophy and theology; the questions will be answered by the teacher. The selected question-answer sets will be published here, for the benefit of the viewers; personal question-answers will not be published, and the questioner’s identities will not be displayed at all. The relevant questions can be emailed to email@example.com.
Q1: Can decision happen without thoughts?
Manas = Mind = Manomayakosha, Buddhi = Intellect = Vijnanamayakosha. Hence, Buddhi and Manas are the conscious parts, which are connected with the Aham (Ego). Chiththa is the subconscious part, which is related to memory and habit. Remember the equation: Thought - Action - Habit. Therefore, subconscious decisions are directly taken by Chiththa, whereas conscious decisions are taken by buddhi and manas. Hence, when someone is telling lies, even though consciously the tongue is utilized to spill out the sentences, subconsciously hand gets involved in scratching the head or in caressing the cheeks. Such actions are the decisions of the chiththa, which do not involve the thoughts. That is why, these four are called as "Anthahkarana". They are interdependent, and yet independent, in many mysterious ways.
Q2: Is self realization a practical experience, or is it a theoretical conclusion? Or is it both or is it none?
IF SELF-REALIZATION IS A PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: Any practical experience is categorized into the sensory perceptions of the body, from the grosser earthy elements till the subtler airy elements, with water and fire coming in between. If the experience becomes more subtle, then the individual will be able to perceive the immense pranic energy that is present in the infinite space as well. Again, any experience is defined as the sensory inputs along with the previous memory, finally leading to judgements. Hence, experience is through the body, thoughts are through the mind, analysis is through intellect, and judgement is through ego. All the organs (internal as well as external) become dormant during sushupthi and samadhi. Self is the one who is using the body and mind, and the self is much different from the Anthahkarana. When self is neither matter nor energy, how can self-realization be a practical experience? Any experience is an interaction with nature, being within the nature, and how the experiencer makes himself/herself separate from the nature (inner as well as outer)?
IF SELF-REALIZATION IS A THEORETICAL CONCLUSION: Any theorization succeeds the practical experience, as it is the logic which gets synthesized after any sensory perception. Hence, theory can happen only after practical exposure. But as individuals are varied in their natures, the experiences and feelings also differ, and hence the respective theories also differ. Thus, my theory is different from your theory is different from his theory is different from her theory is different for their theory, and it goes on this way. Thus, each of us can keep objecting each other based on our own egoistic impressions, that is, self is that and self is this, whereas the self remains devoid of any impressions. Hence, if self-realization is willingly to be pursued, then which theory to form, or which theory to follow?
I have mentioned above that any experience is sensory in nature. Hence, as such, an experience is also an action that is initiated by the ego, and not the self. Hence, if self has to realized, then ego has to be subsided, because it is the ego that is experiencing and not the self. When ego vanishes, it is mindlessness, which happens every night during sleep. Hence, you cannot say that mindlessness is an experience, just as you cannot say that sleep is an experience. Only when you wake up, then you know that your body has been sleeping, because, only when you wake up, only then your ego also gets reconstructed. Ego vanishes every night during sleep, and it appears every morning after the body wakes up. And is it you who is waking up or the body? Whatever you say as experience is because of the presence of the ego. When ego vanishes, where is the experience? Meditation is also an action, initiated by the ego, and if meditation leads to samadhi, then samadhi is not an experience, because it is mindlessness, and hence egolessness. Self is the cause of the ego.
Religions started from those who went after the experiences, and then experimented with them, and then preached their experiences to others, and there started the dilemma over the self. And people are involved in a debate about it, without actually becoming fit for it, assuming that they will have that experience some day. And people started worshiping those ones who claimed that they had such experiences. And this created more and more separations and group-isms among the seekers. People are in search of different types of experiences, and keep going in search of the same. And there is enough confusion now everywhere, about the self. God and self are one and the same; the ego is the gap in between. THE SELF CAN NEVER BE EXPERIENCED, NOR CAN IT BE STUDIED; IT CAN ONLY BE REALIZED, BECAUSE YOU ARE THAT SELF. YOU CANNOT EXPERIENCE YOURSELF. YOU ARE THE EXPERIENCER, HENCE, YOU HAVE TO REALIZE YOURSELF. The non-judgemental egoless awareness is the bliss. But practice and theory both are necessary only to refine your physical and mental apparatus. If they are already refined, then there is no need of both. YOU ARE THAT.
Q3: Is character necessary for spiritual realization?
The practical aspects and the theoretical studies help in the purification of the physical and mental apparatus, to aid in the process of self-realization. As self-realization is neither a practical pursuit nor a theoretical study but a state of pure awareness, the state of pure body and pure mind is required to attain that state. Hence, character becomes necessary as the initial prerequisite. Otherwise, either guilt builds up due to the wrong deeds or the arrogance builds up due to the right deeds, and both guilt and/or arrogance make the person go astray from the spiritual path. That is why, yama and niyama come at the beginning for the building up of the good character, which can aid in cleansing the memory of its past imprints, and help in the building up of good imprints. Hence, a robber such as Prachethasa can become a Valmeeki by means of proper characterization and culturing.
Q4: Is God manifested or unmanifested?
As God is the immanent omnipresent divine pure almighty consciousness, God is both unmanifested and manifested. As the one filling the infinite space and time with infinite dimensions, God is unmanifested. As the one possessing each object with minute vibrations of the infinitesimal particles, whether it is living or non-living, God is manifested. God is more manifested when life emerges out of matter. A flower blooming may look like a chemical action inside the plant, but you cannot say that beauty is chemistry. A child smiling may look like a nervous system's reaction, but you cannot say that the innocence belongs to the nerve. A poet's poetry may look like a collection of rhythmic words, but you cannot say that the feeling is an arrangement of words. As God wanted to manifest Himself, he created life, such that let the living ones understand His presence within them. It is the divine play. Let all of us understand ourselves better that we are His manifestations, and all of us are equally pure and divine. No differences, no superiority or inferiority complexes, no leaderships and follower-ships, no gurus and shishyas, we are all equally HIM.
Q5: Are religion and spirituality related to each other?
Logical reasoning is not devoid of bias, vedic revelations are numerous, not one seer's words can be accepted as facts, truly the essence of righteousness is a very subtle secret. Hence, the only recourse is to walk in the footsteps of great men. - This is the answer told by Yudhishtira to Yaksha, when Yaksha asked him about the secret of Dharma, in the Mahabharatha. Hence, Dharma cannot be translated as religion in the true sense, and has to be called as righteousness. Over a period of centuries, the preaching and practices of wise human beings were preserved and followed by others, which gradually became a set of rules for a particular lifestyle, and that lifestyle gradually came to be called as religion. Hence, the search for truth and the revelation of the truth has been going on since centuries. The plus point about India is that such revelations have been well documented, verified and time-tested, to be called as a Sanathana system of life, and that is how, Sandhyavandana became part of life for the seekers, who were later labelled as Dwijas. Such sacred practices exist in almost all the religions, and many a times, the practices are related to the geographical conditions. The main intention behind these religious practices is to purify the body, the speech and the mind. Any practice which does not conform to this purpose is not religious, but dogmatic and superstitious. Hence, religion accelerates the spiritual learning to some extent, without which people would have lived like barbarians. If religions did not come into existence, people would remain aboriginals and unrefined. Hence, religion is necessary for refinement and spiritual growth. The people, who fight with each other in the name of their own religions, are neither religious nor spiritual, but only selfish. They just talk about their particular religious leader, without practicing those principles in their own lives, and thus cause hatred for the other religious leaders. The greatness of Sanathana system is that we don't have to justify any particular person as in the other systems, and hence, we have a liberal way of analyzing and then choosing, rather than blindly worshiping. Good sentence told by Dr. Deepak Chopra: Religion is believing in others' experiences; Spirituality is believing in one's own experiences. The religious practices help in obtaining subtler sensory perceptions, which causes refinement.
Q6: Extrasensory perceptions, or supernatural abilities, or extraordinary abilities - are these necessary for self-realization?
Extrasensory perceptions, to some extent, aid in the process of self realization, as these perceptions are possible only when the seeker cultivates refined senses and still mind. Hence, the spiritual practices are required to help the seeker in attaining such experiences faster, so that, the seeker understands that the universe is multi-dimensional, and the consciousness has to be omnipresent in order for the universe to be multidimensional. Hence, ESPs are necessary to some extent, and that is the reason because of which religious initiations are provided by the adepts/masters/gurus. The person who does not experience ESPs may not understand the omnipresent divinity clearly, as he/she lacks such comprehensive abilities. That is why, meditations and worships are prescribed for the spiritual aspirant. However, the seekers should be monitored for their progress; otherwise, the same practices become ritualistic and dogmatic. Now as far as the supernatural abilities are concerned, if the ego increases because of these abilities, then it leads to spiritual downfall, as the seeker does not remain a seeker anymore and turns himself/herself into a leader. The supernatural abilities such as levitation, clairvoyance, telepathy etc. may occur spontaneously due to the spiritual practices, and these abilities should not be cultivated further by the seeker. The cultivation of such abilities leads into such habits, thus making the seeker astray from the spiritual path. The extraordinary abilities such as sleeping on fire, walking on water, floating in the air etc. are still more erratic as far as the spiritual progress is concerned, as the ego is in the larger increasing order. Finally, to express it in my own intuitive words: Self is realized when ego is falsified. Self realization is possible only by means of ego’s dissolution, and ego’s dissolution is possible only by means of careful contemplation, planned penance and systematic study. Spirituality is not about communicating with the external spirits. Spirituality is all about connecting with the internal spirit.
Q7: How do the three doshas in the body affect the seven chakras? What impact does meditation have on the relation?
The three doshas are the relationships between nervous system, digestive system and excretory system, (vaatha-piththa-kapha), and thus are indicative of the physical health. The seven chakras are present in the etheric body in which the circulation of prana is regulated in the seven nodes. The physical body (annamaya kosha) produces prana and the etheric body (pranamaya kosha) radiates prana. Hence, if the three doshas are in balance, then the production of prana and the radiation of prana are in balance, and thus, the chakras are working properly. However, from the subtler side, the radiation of prana can get affected by the astral body's (manomaya kosha - mind) negative activities, and thus can cause blockage of the chakras, and can gradually affect the physical body as well. Hence, meditation helps in the conservation of prana, and hence, the chakras are not affected from the subtler side. On the contrary, the three doshas have no effect on the spiritual realization whereas meditation can help in that direction, because, meditation happens at the psychic body (vijnanamaya kosha), and thus meditation helps in the preservation of mental health. In other words, meditation can regulate and open the sahasrara chakra as well, which is not possible by the physical treatment of the three doshas. The doshas are meant only for the physical health.
Q8: Is reincarnation real?
When compared to the parents, any offspring born will have some physical similarities and some physical dissimilarities, which indicates the law of variety being implemented, by means of the fertilized ovum through the sperm. Hence, when the chemically altered formula develops into the embryo, it can be concluded that the children are physically different from the parents. But when children are grown up, additional differences from the parents will be observed, in the behavioral traits and interests. Thus we see that, at times, kind parents will have cruel children, cruel parents will have kind children, foolish parents will have intelligent children, and vice versa. And these differences cannot be due to the chemically altered formula, as thoughts and emotions cannot comprise of mere chemical elements.
Hence, now it becomes evident that the physical body is due to heredity, whereas there is some other influence from nature, due to which characteristic differences are observed. By logic as well as by means of statistical studies and experimentation, it is now proved that the living beings possess etheric body, and this has relationship with nature. As etheric body gets formed at the time of birth, it is evident that the natural forces present at the time of birth cause these characteristic differences. Hence, astrology becomes a basis for predicting the nature and behavior of an individual. And hence, astrology is sacred for that matter, only when studied that way, to understand the planetary effects on nature and on life. However, it is meant only for characterizing a person, and the person’s character is the person’s future.
But, astrology does not yield all the answers, as we see gifted children who have varied abilities such as – singing, dancing, sketching, painting, memorizing, mathematical abilities, scientific genius, intellectual abilities, and so on. Further, we see exceptionally brilliant children born to normal parents, and these children will have specific inclination towards specific study areas. Obviously, such abilities are neither due to heredity nor due to astrological forces of nature. Hence, it has to be concluded that such children must have had some type of previous memory, by means of which, special skills are getting exhibited by means of their physical body. Even though it can be argued that the percentage of such children is very less when compared to the mainstream, the question remains as to, even though the percentage is small, from where this memory is being carried forward. Hence, it has to be concluded that the memory is carried forward by means of some other invisible energetic form or force, and it becomes exhibited in some special physical bodies. In case of the other bodies of the mainstream, the memory may remain dormant for some time, and can be recalled by means of regression methods, if required.
Why Swami Vivekananda had an inclination towards spiritual yearning? Why Adi Shankara asked for initiation into Sanyasa at a tender age? Why Sadashiva Brahmendra was attracted towards the practice of Nirvikalpa Samadhi? For such questions, the only answer is that, they had brought forward some decisions from their previous lives, and were trying to fulfill the incomplete decisions in the particular lifetime. Now, the question may arise that only those holy ones had such abilities. But no; with the other ones, the hidden memory may not be exhibited, as the mind may still remain uncultured, and may not have the ability to analyze the self.
To get more clarity for the question of reincarnation, it is advised to the aspirant to read the biographies of the saints, as much as possible, and think about their search for truth. To conclude, all the born humans need not always be reincarnations; it is just the production of new bodies from the wombs. But most of the born ones are sure to reincarnate until they attain salvation, as they are bound by their desires to have a human body once again. This obviously indicates that the other creatures will not reincarnate, as they don’t have such desires, simply because, even though the other creatures have fear of death, those creatures do not have an understanding of death. As the human beings fear death, and in addition, know that they lose themselves after death, and when they do not want to lose themselves, they possess deep inner desire to manifest through the body once again. Hence, they are born as humans once again. However, the increase in human population has no relationship with reincarnation.
Q9: Is astrology true?
During the prehistoric ages, when human beings evolved gradually into intellectuals, there was an inner urge to understand the workings of nature, and then to measure its functionality in many different ways. The first one was the spatial measurement, and the next one was temporal. For spatial measurement, they used their footsteps in the beginning, and for temporal measurement, they observed the movements of Sun and Moon. And then, they could recognize the systematic movements, and further, the changes happening in nature, due to these movements. Thus, movement with respect to Sun became days & nights, and movement with respect to Moon became months, and then, the cyclic change in nature became the year. Thus, the intellectuals developed the science of mathematics, through which they could calculate a few events well in advance, such as the new moon and full moon days, very accurately. And when the calculations moved on to the counting of years, they could also measure the amount of time between (spring, summer, autumn, winter), and in addition, the approximate days at which rains could occur. As the sacred space was divided into twelve zodiac signs, and further into twenty seven asterisms, they could relate the natural events to each of these asterisms. Hence, the predictive part of the mathematics was gradually called as astrology (astral = of the stars, logos = knowledge). Through this science, the intellectuals could accurately calculate the positions of the astral bodies, and then could predict the occurrences of the natural events. However, the foolish ones could look at awe, when the predictions became true!
When the science of meditation got evolved, the seers could sense the subtle energetic fields, and they started using the mathematical science to calculate well in advance, about the repetition of such energy fields on particular days. Such days were called as holy days for the purpose of meditation as well as the related rituals of askesis (yajna), and the seers advised their disciples to practice these holy methods on the prescribed days. Thus, the science of astrology was utilized for all of the vedic practices and rituals, either for materialistic or for spiritual. And then, when the culturing methods of the human beings got evolved, the calculation of auspicious time-periods was utilized for all of the sixteen methods of samskaara.
Thus, over a period of centuries, the mathematician was turned into a priest, and the priest was turned into a tantric – who was now called as astrologer. His role was to calculate the suitable time-periods for all of the mundane as well as spiritual customs. Due to the continuous holy practices, even those astrologers attained some spiritual powers. They used to have some type of worship and rituals associated with their profession, and they used to be having additional powers when compared to the normal human beings; some such accomplishments used to be mind reading, akashic record reading, telepathy, communication with angels and spirits etc. These accomplishments have nothing to do with the real method of astrology; but as the astrologer also was required to be a fortune-teller, it was necessary for them to achieve these powers, through tantric methodologies.
Gradually, the science of astrology was utilized to record the exact time and date of birth of an individual, by means of the natal charts, and this was utilized for the characterization of destiny. Gradually, people started believing that their destiny is predefined through the planetary combinations. And as astrology became a lucrative profession, the astrologers related karma to the natal charts. Karma is the imprint that is stored in the chiththa, and it has nothing to do with astrology. Whether paapa (vice) or punya (virtue) is all a matter of convenience, for the satisfaction of the ego. If someone keeps feeling guilty and keeps on remembering the guilt, or else, feels egoistic for whatever is being done, then that is paapa. If someone helps others unconditionally, and lives life in moral and ethical way, then it is punya. Again, these definitions are matters of convenience, and it is very difficult to discriminate between them. Hence, Vyasa simply says - "Paropakaaraaya punyaaya paapaaya parapeedanam |". The one who is not involved in both is neither virtuous nor a sinner. Hence, astrology has no role here; we cannot blame planets for whatever wrong happens in life and society. Wrong things happen due to people, not due to planets.
God did not create astrology; God created space and time and the elements. Human beings started measuring space and time, and they developed the system of astrology. All the other beings in this world do not consult an astrologer for any lifestyle change or for any future events. They are born, they live, and they die, as per the master-plan. But the human beings are more anxious about the future, and they suppose that their future will be brighter, out of some coincidence or due to some planetary combination, which is absurd. The planets are simply the astral bodies following their prescribed path, as per the master-plan. The master's time is very very slow, and our time is very very fast. The master's method is to evolve energy into matter. Pleasure and pain are part of life for all of the moving living beings. Only the plants and trees have no pleasure and pain, as they are immovable. Hence, the master's time is thousands of years for evolution of life to happen. As far as we are concerned, we have to put efforts for our mental evolution, and respect the master's work at the background.
It is the human beings who go astray, and then blame their ill fate on the planets. The dacoits, rapists, robbers, cheaters, terrorists do not consult an astrologer for any of their actions, and they become successful in their actions. The foolish ones think that some good things will happen automatically, or by performing some planet worships, or other such rituals, which are not at all prescribed by the sacred scriptures. To conclude, the planets definitely affect the natural phenomena, but not the individual lives of the intellectual human beings.
Q10: Why and how money became a part of the human life?
In the beginning, people were living like tribals, searching for food, and hunting animals, on a daily basis. Gradually, they learnt to build houses, and started planting the seeds around their houses, so that they could grow their own food, and that was how, the skills of agriculture and that of cooking were evolved. Over a period of time, people started exchanging goods among themselves, and that was how, the barter system started. And as part of this system, there used to be some lazy ones who did not want to work, but wanted to enjoy. And they started looting and robbing the hard-working ones, and there arose a need for the hard-working ones, to protect themselves. Hence, they appointed the stronger youths among them as the leaders for the community, so as to protect the village. When these leaders expanded their area of rule, they had to have more number of people to support the cause, and that was how, kings and their armies came into existence.
But the kings were not involved in agriculture, and to maintain the army, the barter system was not possible by the kings. Moreover, during this large period of evolution, people had probed more and more into nature, and the science of metallurgy was evolved by then. And they had found some rare metals such as gold and silver, and naturally, these rare metals became more precious and valuable. As gold was rust-free, people started using gold for ornaments. Now, kings developed the idea of using these precious metals as the valuable items, and then, they started applying their seal on the coins of these metals, and they started distributing these coins as salary to the soldiers, and in turn, the soldiers could use these coins to buy the food items and the other needy things. Thus, these coins came into circulation among all the people, and gradually, everyone started using them for the exchange of goods.
They could preserve these coins, for future use as well. And thus, the society was gradually divided into rich and poor ones, in terms of the coins which they possessed, or earned. In the modern times, coins got replaced by the sealed paper notes, for the convenience of light weight and safety. And in the technological times, even the paper currency got replaced in the banks as debits and credits, and the exchange is in terms of electronic signals. But as far as the livelihood is concerned, the problem of the society remains the same - some people are hard working, some people are lazy, and some people are looters. As long as the concept of money remains in the society, these problems also remain, as such, unless serious administration measures are employed by the hard working people as well as the their leaders.
Q11: Why the avadhootha saints wander naked?
Everyday, the normal human beings pass through the three physical states of awakened, dreaming and sleeping, which correspond to conscious, subconscious and unconscious mental states. And in the conscious state, the human beings have been conditioned through ages that, covering the genital organs leads to decent behavior, and uncovering them leads to obscenity. This social conditioning arose because of the usage of those organs for excessive lust and such physical desires. In the course of physical evolution, human beings developed the skills of weaving the garments and then started covering their physical bodies through these garments, and gradually, the whole community now thinks that remaining naked in public is wrong. The avadhootha saint has transcended the three normal states, and he/she remains in the fourth state called superconscious or thureeya (fourth). Hence, he/she has lost the social conditioning that was part of him/her earlier. To be more precise, they have the lost the identity with the body, and for most of the time, their sense organs will not be working in the conscious manner. They will become conscious of their body only when they feel hunger and thirst, and that is when they interact with the other human beings, and even at that time, they don't have the idea about their nudity, as their mind is like that of a child. Other human beings feel wrong about their nudity as they have utilized nudity for the wrong things and hence they carry the guilty feeling about it. Avadhootha saints have transcended the barriers of right and wrong, and hence they don't possess any sense of guilt, as their awareness is beyond the body. The individual souls, in their conscious states, can keep passing judgments about the other individuals, about the concepts of right and wrong. But, in the superconscious state, everything is right, and nothing is wrong, just because, the actions are not performed by the individual souls, but by the supreme soul (paramathma).
Q12: Why human beings suffer by means of varieties of diseases, in spite of being civilized?
The ailments through which human beings suffer can be classified into three main categories – COMMON, ACUTE and CHRONIC. Examples for COMMON ailments are: catching cold, running nose, coughing, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting etc. Examples for ACUTE ailments are: fever, headache, acidity, constipation, ulcers, piles etc. Examples for CHRONIC ailments are: heart blocks, liver sclerosis, gall stones, kidney stones, hernia, joint pains, all types of skin diseases, all types of cancers etc.
The reasons for COMMON ailments are the regular infections of respiratory and digestive systems, which occur due to bad atmosphere and bad food respectively. These health issues can be easily eradicated through regular breathing exercises, and other physical exercises. The yogic exercises of pranayama help in keeping the respiratory system clean, and the practices of yogasana help in keeping the digestive system clean. The practices such as Bandhathraya pranayama, Kapalabhathi pranayama and Agnisara kriya, help in the dual purpose of exercising both of the systems. Except for the human beings, in all other moving organisms, such exercises occur as their daily natural lifestyles. As the human beings live an unnatural life, they suffer from these COMMON ailments.
The reasons for the ACUTE ailments are the negligence about the body and the lack of knowledge about the food. The food which the present human beings consume is far away from nature. The more the processing of the food materials, and the more complex the combination of different ingredients into one food item, the more serious becomes the issue of digestion. When the consumed food cannot be easily digested, and when it gets stuck as solid waste material in the stomach or intestines, it results in constipation and acidity. If the food contains toxic materials which can cause damage to the internal muscles, then it results in ulcers and piles. If the toxic materials remain within the body for a longer period, then the body tries to eradicate them, and at times, it loses energy, which results in headache, and at times, it tries to remove the toxicity by means of increased circulation, which results in fever. In general, the toxic waste gets expelled out via feces and urine, and when the body is unable to expel it out, fever and pain occur together. In general, headache indicates lack of energy, and fever indicates contamination.
The reasons for the CHRONIC ailments are the long-term negligence of the ACUTE ailments. Due to the continuous consumption of unnatural food and drinks, the stomach, the liver, the gall bladder, the intestines and the kidneys get affected. Due to the heavy loading of the digestive system, the intestines become weaker, which results in hernia. If the bigger particles that are in the food are transported into blood, and if they remain suspended in the blood, it results in heart blocks and blocks in the blood veins. If the blood becomes toxic, then as an emergency, the body tries remove the toxic particles by means of skin, which results in skin diseases. If the toxicity remains in the blood for a long time, then it affects those parts heavily, resulting in different types of cancer. When the blood becomes impure, the toxic fluids within the body accumulate in empty places such as joints. When the physical exercises are ignored, the joints get infected by the germs. The bacteria and viruses multiply inside the body, only when they find favorable conditions within, to multiply. Hence, keeping the blood pure, and keeping the respiratory and digestive systems clean, becomes an utmost responsibility for any mature individual. For this reason itself, the Ayurvedic cooking method recommends the usage of many herbs and spices, which help in cleansing the digestive and excretory systems, and in breaking up the complex food items into their simpler forms.
Finally, all types of bad human habits result in polluting the internal system which God designed. Enjoyment in excess, leads to suffering. Keep the food as much simple as possible, and don’t overload the system. Hence, know God, know peace. Live the life of a true yogi. To summarize, Health = Adequate Exercise + Proper Breathing + Correct Food + Optimum Rest + Pure Mind.
Q13: Why sacred chanting is necessary?
As long as we are in the awakened state, the ego is involved in the continuous thought process, and with common people, most of these thoughts are ego-centric in nature. More and more ego-centric the thoughts are, more and more selfish the person will become, and gradually the particular person becomes yielded to the effects of negative karma. Moreover, the selfish person is a nuisance to the society, as the person is only involved in the activities which result in the benefits to the self, and hence such people behave in many cunning ways, to get maximum benefit out of the others. Thus, if the common human mind is left as it is, it behaves more like an animal, causing disturbance to the harmony of human life. Therefore, a solution to such mental behavior becomes immediately necessary; otherwise, if left for themselves, humans will gradually turn into animals, in their social behavior.
Therefore, an immediate solution is to divert the mind from the ego-centric thoughts, and to make it involve in some other thought which can gradually reduce the amount of ego. An easy way is to make the mind to keep chanting sacred syllables, which may involve God’s name, or else, some other divine meaning. Thus, the mind is made more stable as well as calm. Such sacred chanting is present in all the religions all over the world.
In addition, if the syllables are carefully selected such that the frequency that is produced by the chanting gets imprinted in the memory, then the sound of the chanting produces certain physiological and psychological reactions within the system, such that the mental as well as spiritual health gets enhanced. Such sacred combinations are called as “manthras”. As the correct sound of the manthra is intended to be stored in the memory, initiation is given through an able Guru through accurate physical chanting, such that, later on, the listener gets involved in the mental chanting of the manthra. Such process is called as “Japa”, and one such great manthra that is selected for the regular practice of japa, is the “Gayathree”.
Q14: What is the necessity of marriage?
Reason no. 1: Just ask the reverse, and then try to find the answer. If marriage was not there, then whom would you call as your father? Through the system of marriage, it is confirmed that you know exactly who your parents are; otherwise, it would lead to a fundamentally wrong social system in which all are paternal orphans, and are dependent only on their mothers for their survival. And all the ladies in the world would be utilized by men only for the sake of sexual intercourse, either by mutual consent or by force, and men would not assume any responsibility with the oncoming result after nine months. Hence, marriage is a social responsibility in which both the parents are bound to take care of their children until the children become capable of surviving on their own.
Reason no. 2: If there is no system of marriage, then every boy and girl would behave as per their freewill when they attain puberty. Thus, the satiation of lust becomes the topmost priority in that age, leading to havoc in the social harmony. If freedom is mistaken for freewill, then the character and culture could have a drastic downfall, and this is what is being observed in some of the developed countries. In addition, all the beautiful looking girls would be the targets for the male community, and there could be battles among the males to obtain a particular female. Moreover, some females themselves could instigate the males to have battles among themselves, and the victorious ones could have the beautiful female. History is the proof for this fact.
Reason no. 3: The system of marriage imposes accountability on both the parents, the mother to feed the offspring, and the father to earn the food for the family. Thus, both are bound to strive for the healthy growth of the children, and in addition, impart character and culture on the children, such that they also follow the footsteps of the parents. As Masusmrthi states and Chanakya advises, it is the families (Grhastha) that are helping the other sects of the society such as the bachelors (Brahmacharee), the anchorites (Vanaprastha), and the saints (Sanyasee). The people who don’t get married don’t have many goals in life, and most of them become purposeless after the middle age. If they don’t develop much bigger goals, then such confused ones will have an uncomfortable lifestyle.
Reason no. 4: Vedic system of marriage is conducted taking Agni as the witness, and by the bridegroom promising the bride that he will take her along with him in the journey towards righteousness (Dharma), wealth (Artha) and fulfillment (Kama). Hence, in the Vedic system of marriage, there is no divorce. Even in the other systems of marriage, God is taken as the witness and the holy words are chanted during the ceremony. And the elders bless the couple to have a virtuous and harmonious lifestyle. Thus, the system of marriage came out of the need to have balanced and fulfilled families in the civilized society.
In spite of all these reasons, the unmarried ones may keep justifying themselves that they want to lead a life of freedom. Of course, that is their choice, if they can live that way till the end. There may also be an argument that all the married families are not happy, and all the parents are not imparting culture and character on their children. Again, we have to pity such families who remain unguided. When parents themselves do not develop character, the outcome is obvious. And the lovers may say that they will marry each other as they have attraction towards each other. This is also quite alright, provided the whole ceremony happens peacefully, with the agreement of both the families, if those family members are matured enough to think broadly. And, in addition, there may be some other couples who will say that they don’t want to have children, for their own reasons. Again, that is their choice. After all, the goal of the system of marriage is to have a healthy and happy society, and nothing else.
Q15: How necessary is it to have guidance from the guru?
When you were born, even though you learnt walking on your own, speaking was learnt by you through the people who taught you the language, including your parents and relatives. You also learnt the art of consuming the cultured food through the same set of people, and then the art of dressing yourself, and then the art of handling things that are around you, and so on. Hence, the civilized human beings have enough teachers for every small activity, right from their birth onwards. The abilities of reading and writing, and the educative subjects, are taught by the teachers in schools and colleges. The other skills required for life such as swimming, cycling and driving the vehicles, and the artistic skills such as dancing, singing, playing a musical instrument, acting in the dramas and movies, and so on, are all taught by one or the other teacher. And in the present age, many new skills need to be learnt every year, for the suitable modern professions. In fact, if there are no people around, then many skills may not be learnt at all, and only those abilities which nature provides with the body may manifest, and all other talents remain latent.
Thus, when teachers are necessary for learning about the visible manifested world, how can one learn about the invisible manifested world, and then about the cause for such manifestations, without any teacher? The visible world is comprehended by means of the sensory perceptions whereas the invisible world cannot be comprehended through those physical abilities. It requires the ability of self-restraint to understand the governing force within the physical body, and this requires different type of training, which is not available in the conventional teaching and training institutions. Moreover, the general mass is not interested in learning about such hidden factors, as the main goal for them is to acquire more and more of physical assets and physical abilities, and to have more and more of physical comforts. Hence, as the people who have the inner quest are less in number, it is not possible to impart such training in the general educational institutions, as it requires a different mindset, along with the individual and personal supervision.
Thus, it is clear that a trainer is necessary for every new skill and/or knowledge. When that is the case, for learning about the cause and reason of existence, such training is definitely necessary from a person who has already realized such facts. Here, practical experiences are required first, before theorizing on the different philosophies. Otherwise, the aspirants get carried away the enormous amount of theorization and the different opinions that are coming out of such efforts, and they get lost in the innumerable rituals and religious practices. Hence, it becomes necessary that the training should be imparted by a person, who already has practical experiences about the guiding force within, and then those experiences have to be expressed by means of the correct theoretical facts. Thus, there is a distinct difference between a teacher and a guru. Teachers can be many for many subjects, whereas guru has to be one, for the one ultimate subject. Guru need not have the knowledge of all the other physical subjects, as they are the never-ending pursuit of matter. But the guru should have the complete knowledge of the method of practices that are required to conquer the physical body in a safe way, and then to realize the self. The guru will not relinquish the world, and the guru will not allow the aspirant to relinquish the world. Both will remain here, guiding the other ignorant ones to live meaningful lives.
Q16: What is the purpose of dreams?
Any experience has a purpose of storage in and recall from memory, and as dreams are also being experienced by the ego, they definitely should have a purpose. In any dream, there can be some scenes or personalities or events which are already there in memory, and there can be some which are newly created during the process of dreaming. But during the experience, the ego is totally unaware of the ones that are already there in memory and the ones which are newly created. And the ego is involved in experiencing the dream as if it is real.
The following can be listed for the dreaming state in comparison with the awakened state –
The dreams do not follow any sequence, which means that, the events occur rapidly, and the events may be highly unrelated to each other as well.
The dreams do not follow any logic, which means that, the scenes may not make any sense after one wakes up and remembers the dream.
Many times, the particular day’s pains and pleasures experienced during the awakened state occur again during the dreams, with much more vigor and variety.
With this analysis, we can come to a conclusion that the ego is in between the awakened and dreaming states, and is involved only with the experience, and not with the logic. Hence, we can conclude that, out of the 4 anthahkaranas (Manas, Chiththa, Buddhi, Ahamkara), the third one is absent during the dreams. If it is present, then the dreams cannot have absurd events, because the intellect is the one which decides, and then the mind generates such thoughts. If intellect was involved during dreaming, then the ego would experience only those dreams which would satisfy the ego. Any work gets initiated after the requisite decision making, and as it is absent during the dreams, the intellect has no role in the dreams. But during dreaming, the mind is involved in thinking, the memory is involved in recall and storage, and the ego is involved in experiencing the same. Therefore, as per these findings, the word DREAM can be expanded as: Delving into the Reality of Ego and Memory.
As dreams occur in between the awakened and sleeping states, it is clear that, during the process of dreaming, the ego is neither fully active nor fully inactive. Sleeping state is egolessness and awakened state is egofullness. As dreaming process comes in between, it is evident that, the dreaming process aids in either the construction or the dissolution of the ego, which is the first purpose of dreams. As ego and memory are well-connected, dreams occur as part of memory organization, as permanent memory storage and temporary memory erasure, which is the second purpose of dreams. Finally, as unimagined imaginations occur during dreams, the dreams aid in the creative aspect of the mind, which is the third purpose of dreams.
Q17: Is beauty an outcome of chemistry?
The physical beauty that is visible in nature has a direct purpose and an indirect purpose. The direct purpose of the beauty of a flower is to attract the pollinating insects towards it, and the indirect purpose is to enhance the process of pollination by means of those insects, which those insects are unaware of, as those insects visit the flower only for their food. But when those pollinating insects are unable to appreciate either the magnificent beauty or the complicated structure of the flower, then what is the use of beauty and structure? The only evident use is the satisfaction of the creator upon His creation. In His imperfect nature, He is achieving perfection partly in His smaller creations. By and large, nature has to be imperfect; otherwise, evolution is not possible. Thus, any process in nature is basically incomplete and imperfect.
When the conventional science looks at every matter as a chemical combination of different elements, it is just impossible that the physical beauty is an outcome of chemistry, as the creation of beauty involves consciousness. When any human beings exhibit style and arrogance over their physical beauty, the philosophers can always remark that the physical body is a chemical combination. Spiritually speaking, any beautiful human beings need not be proud of their beautiful appearance, as their body’s beauty is not due to any of their efforts. Arrangement of cells forms flesh, and arrangement of molecules forms cells. Therefore, the molecular as well as the cellular combinations should be guided by the consciousness, so as to yield an accumulation of flesh as a beautiful face or a beautiful body or both. And to top it all, there is no similarity in beauty anywhere in any of the living beings.
Peacock looks so beautiful and dances so beautifully, not to impress any human beings; in fact, through such creation, the creator is exhibiting His consciousness and intelligence, by means of His own divine chemistry, and not by means of any materialistic chemistry. This is evident in the natural beauty of the sky or the rainbow or the river, wherein the creator is making the observer to admire and then wonder and then realize. One more purpose of peacock’s beautiful body is to attract the peahen, as is the case with all other evolved creatures, wherein the mutual attraction enhances the process of mating, yielding to varied creation of the different living bodies.
With all the other beings, the whole body is beautiful, not just the face. But with human beings, the face is given special consideration as far as the beauty is concerned. This is because of the verbal communication, which happens only with human beings. Hence, for enabling such communication, face is especially designed with carefully planned shapes and curvatures, with the proper positioning of the eyebrows, eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, and the chin & cheeks. Let this be realized by all the human beings that their body is designed by the consciousness, and maintained by the consciousness, and utilized by the ego. Let all of us be grateful to the creator.