THE SHAKTI ASPECT OF HINDU ‘RITUALS’

A Yogi’s perspective.

This is a guest post by Sri Guru Rohit Arya. It has been taken from his Facebook post (click to go to original post) and shared here with his permission. 

One of the regular observations made of Hinduism is that it has ‘too many rituals.’ In school, our history books assure us that one of the virtues of reformers was that they did not like ‘meaningless rituals.’ Well the ‘historians’ who write such muck are fools. Even the word Ritual is a package that contains so many processes operating at so many different levels. Homam, Yagya, Puja, Japam, Sankirtanam, Antiyeshti, Namakaranam, Prayaschitam, they are all saddled with the inadequacy of the word ‘ritual’. Samskaras seem a better all purpose word, – “putting together, making perfect, getting ready, to prepare”, or “a sacred or sanctifying ceremony” – and “puja vidhi” for all processes connected with worship and working with Shakti seems more appropriate.

Before we get into this business of puja vidhi something vital about Shakti and spirituality needs to be understood. It is something that the average English educated Hindu of today does not comprehend, but unless it is grasped we can’t move forward. So here goes.

Spirituality and Shakti cannot be found on the physical plane. By its very nature, its intrinsic setting, it belongs to a higher vibration or a different dimension. It is an intense and refined energy which cannot be found in the denseness of embodiment. All such processes are, at their core, systems and methods to access Shakti which can transform people. We reach UP-wards to access this Force, and then, after a while, it ignites within you and then things go much better. {Within does not mean the physical body} This does not mean the need to keep drawing Shakti stops, very far from it. The more Shakti you have the more you can mainline. But this concept is vital to grasp. If you cannot get on board with this, then indeed you are better off writing lies in books about ‘meaningless rituals’. In his extraordinary new book on the Vedic Yagna, titled Ardor, Roberto Callaso has spelt it out – “If one wants to talk about anything religious, some kind of relation has to be established with the invisible. There has to be a recognition of powers situated over and beyond social order. Social order itself must seek to establish some relations with that invisible.

People who have no experience or even basic comprehension of Shakti nevertheless feel they can comment on it.

The great, even incredible, thing about how samskaras and pujas were constructed and transmitted in Yogic culture is that even if the person doing the ritual has no to very little idea what is going on, as long as it is being done Correctly the Shakti flows. This really takes some getting used to.

All pujas and homams and so on, they are all methodologies to build up Shakti in double quick time and then release it into the surroundings. I was impelled to write this after reading that dishonest hit job on Gurus by some Kang lady in her book. At one point Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev explains to her that the Saptarishi puja in Kashi is amazing … “when the priests performed the ritual I was amazed… the stacks and stacks of energy they built, these Brahmin guys who only live for money” He is absolutely right but the author could not comprehend what an opportunity she was given by Fate and she let it go, instead of learning something valuable, because there is “disturbing amount of ritual” at Isha Foundation. This is how people miss the Avasaram, the karmic moment of possibility, the chance to evolve.

It is so in any good temple and with any good samskara. I have so many personal experiences of just that. Chidambaram temple is unique in that it does six abhiskhekams a day instead of the normal one or two – 4 in the morning till 10 at night with just 3 hours off in the middle of day.

And Chidambaram is an incredible Kshetram, the supreme Kshetram, because of that. The priests change each day, but the wallop of Shakti that flows never dips below a certain level of potency because of the manner in which the puja is performed. Flawless execution carries the day even if knowledge and Shakti are limited. When you stand there and see the Ratna Sabhapati Ruby Nataraja lit up with camphor flames at 11 am you have seen one of the great spiritual events on the planet.

Every temple has a different Shakti setting and impact. I have seen pujas at all the Aru Padai Veedu of Muruga. The abhshekam with bhasmam that they do at Tirrutanni releases a particular sort of Shakti. The white chandan Alamkaram they do to Skanda at the shore temple in Thiruchendur is one of surpassing beauty and power. But above all you have not lived unless you have attended the Uccha puja at Palani. They create a wall of fire and sound and the whole area is flooded with Akasha tattva. I have made a famous video on this for those interested, it is on YouTube . It is akin to a nuclear blast homam, done as a puja, but Palani is really supernatural in its impact.

I recall walking into the Surya Shivan temple, Shiva as Surya in murti form, at evening Deeparadhana and it was like being kicked by an elephant.

My great limitation in this life is my lack of interest in developing the accuracy needed to transmit such processes. I practice and teach a yogic process which makes me a living havan kunda so the shakti of any process is instantly accessed. I can walk into almost any puja and figure out what is going on at the Shakti level. But when you need to teach and transmit these things great skill is needed to do it accurately. I have the Shakti and the knowledge, but not the temperament to accquire the skills needed. It is actually a safeguard for this embodiment. In previous rounds I had developed scary levels of abilities in these matters and proceed to misuse them for stupid things – read sex and money and fame. So the Gurus have made sure I don’t go there again. I have such memories… things and procedures I have never read, heard or seen yet intense and immense details of weird ingredients and peculiar actions… well, well, we all do stupid things in our spiritual infancy….

Even the simple act of lighting an oil or ghee lamp is a powerful intervention of Shakti. It is a play of tattvas. The lamp is prithvi or earth, metal or clay or whatever though nowadays people use glass too which is fused silica so we can stretch the point and consider it earth. The oil or ghee is Jala tattva, air is anyways present and then we have to bring our conscious volition, our will, our sankalpa into play by igniting the Angi tattva. When you do that, no matter how dense your consciousness, a large amount of Akasha tattva releases into the surroundings.

When you have Shakti, it becomes a different thing altogether. My disciples think is is a big deal that the flames of homams respond to my hands and follow me. I have seen Yogis where they rise up and wash over the entire body so I don’t get any swelled head over such a minor thing. But every day first action on awakening, light the diya. I never miss that.

In one sense one should ultimately go beyond processes but to disparage and disdain them and call them meaningless is to succumb to the Asura Prakriti. Our puja vidhis were created by great rishis and unless you have surpassed them please shut the hell up and show some humility while at it.

The pictures I use. The Homam was an extraordinary Dhanwantri one at the temple of the same name in Coimbatore a few years back. I am being deliberately mischievous in showing Yogi Adityanath but look at the flames and look at the Murti of Gorakshanath. It should shake you if you have the slightest sensitivity.

The fiery photo is an example of the ‘disturbing amount of ritual’ in Isha. I bless everybody they all experience similar ‘disturbance’ in their life. The last pic is Yours Truly, Sri Guru Rohit Arya, working purely with shakti to energize a small murti. I DO NOT recommend this method. Why I act so I have already explained.

Pujas work. They are not meaningless, but power packed methodologies to evolve you. 
Sarvam Shivamayam!

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Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount – A Hindu/Sanatana Dharma perspective – deeper aspects of what he said (1)

Sermon on the MountCopenhagen Church Alter Painting

This post comes after a relatively long hiatus and it also goes against the grain when it comes to the type of posts I have written to date. I have for long been fascinated by St. Matthew’s account of “The sermon on the mount” having first read it when I was still in school.  In talking about the teachings of Jesus and more specifically the “Sermon on the Mount” one wonders how he arrived at a set of teachings that run completely contrary to the prevalent teachings of the time in that part of the world – The Ten Commandments. It is quite clear that he could not have arrived at these in the synagogues he prayed in during his first 12 years of life.

What Jesus taught were the exact opposites of the “negative” commandments which were essentially  a set of “don’ts” – “Thou shall not…” Therefore the question – Was he influenced by the teachings of Hinduism and/or Buddhism the dominant religions of the time? is a valid and relevant question

There is also the question of the “missing years” of what Jesus did and where he went or lived during the 18 years between age 12 and 30. After a reference to Jesus being baptized by the wandering, eccentric minstrel “John the Baptist” whose food was “Locusts and wild honey” there is a long and unexplained gap before Jesus appears again when he fasts for 40 days and nights, is tempted by “evil”, prevails, attains enlightenment, and leads the multitudes up the mount of olives to preach – this was when he was 30, just three years before his gruesome death. Where was he and what did he do in the interim remains a mystery.

There has been much speculation that Jesus spent his “missing” years in India. This speculation is now congealing into fact – You can read about it here and watch a BBC video here.

Another documentary by the Government of India hints at Jesus in Kashmir “The story of the life of Isah

Anecdotal, circumstantial, and even recorded information clearly point to Jesus having been in India and or at least having been influenced either by Buddhist or Hindu philosophical thought or more likely both. These speculations add to the mystery of the person called Jesus and his definitive teachings summarized in “The Sermon on the Mount”

There are several other reasons for my fascination with this “Sermon on the Mount”:

  1. This sermon stands out from the rest of what appears in the Bible both in the old and new testaments in terms of its directness, brevity, and pithiness
  2. It embodies in a sense the entire essence of all that Jesus wanted to say and share coming as it did soon after his 40-day/night “fast” that led to his “realization”
  3. It is also a defining moment in the life of Jesus – it was in all probability an event that occurred in 30 CE just three years before his gruesome death
  4. While a lot of western authors have read and written about Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma, the reverse of Hindus writing or commenting about other religions is a rarity. There are exceptions – Eknath Easwaran’s commentaries or Swami Prabhavananda’s (Ramakrishna Math) brilliant book “The Sermon on the Mount, according to Vedanta” – These however remain exceptions and in today’s times the need to study other religions and make comparative commentaries is an urgent need.
  5. For too long the Christian church has interpreted these lines literally when a deeper reading and analysis of the sermon show that Jesus was speaking from a high philosophical plane much removed from the one we live on.
  6. This (point-5 above) is perhaps why he resorted to parables and such in his subsequent teachings – he was perhaps bringing it down a few notches to serve the needs of those who had not reached the exalted plane he had.
  7. Finally, I am also of the opinion that a “grounding” in the tenets of Sanatana Dharma/Hinduism provides one with the flexibility to view all religions objectively – It is the only religion that considers and accepts all other religions to be true

This is going to be a series of posts on the sermon interpreted from a Sanatana Dharma/vedantic perspective or more simply an attempt to delve deeper into what he could have actually meant when he said what he said.

Right at the beginning of this sermon Jesus lists what are popularly called the “Beatitudes” which are the condensed essence of his teachings or in other words the goals that one can attain when he/she sets out on the path to enlightenment. These are 9 in number but can be reduced to 7 because the first two (1 & 2) and then the last two (8 & 9) are so closely related in terms of the message they convey that they can be treated as one.

Just before this momentous event when Jesus leads the multitudes up the mount, he had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and was sorely “tempted of the “devil” who offered him “all the kingdoms of the world” and the “glory (associated) of them”

Who is this devil? Is he the satan of the Bible? Or is it someone or something else? As Paul Brunton says “The devil then as now is that adverse element in nature that seeks to keep man’s consciousness imprisoned in the lower form of nature… as our experiences increase we gain more understanding of the forces which are at work… and as we understand them we can consciously take our stand and work out our… full liberation”

In an earlier post in discussing the story of “The Churning of the Ocean” I had referred to the constant fight within each human being between the forces of evil/dark forces – the Asuras, and the forces of Light – the Devas. This is the satan of the bible and this is what Jesus strived against too in his Quest for enlightenment.

The 9 beatitudes are listed below and as mentioned earlier and as is evident 1 & 2 as well as 8 & 9 can be clubbed together which would make it 7 beatitudes in all and each one would be taken up in the subsequent posts to delve into their deeper meaning and also examine them in the light of Sanatana Dharma/Hinduism.

  1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  2. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

  3. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

  4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

  5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

  6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

  7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

  8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  9. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.


 

References:

  1. Picture credit: http://www.theology21.com/2011/06/30/sermon-on-the-mount-why-the-law-according-to-jesus-is-impossible-to-follow/
  2. The Mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven (Chapter) in “The Inner Reality” by Paul Brunton. July 1952. Anchor Press. Great Britain.
  3. The Holy Bible published by the Trinitarian Bible Society
  4. The King James Version of the Bible. Published January 2004. 

 

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount – A Hindu/Sanatana Dharma perspective – deeper aspects of what he said (1)

Sermon on the MountCopenhagen Church Alter Painting
Photo Courtesy: Theology 21*

This post comes after a relatively long hiatus and it also goes against the grain when it comes to the type of posts I have written to date. I have for long been fascinated by St. Matthew’s account of “The sermon on the mount” having first read it when I was still in school.  In talking about the teachings of Jesus and more specifically the “Sermon on the Mount” one wonders how he arrived at a set of teachings that run completely contrary to the prevalent teachings of the time in that part of the world – The Ten Commandments. It is quite clear that he could not have arrived at these in the synagogues he prayed in during his first 12 years of life.

What Jesus taught were the exact opposites of the “negative” commandments which were essentially  a set of “don’ts” – “Thou shall not…” Therefore the question – Was he influenced by the teachings of Hinduism and/or Buddhism the dominant religions of the time? is a valid and relevant question

There is also the question of the “missing years” of what Jesus did and where he went or lived during the 18 years between age 12 and 30. After a reference to Jesus being baptized by the wandering, eccentric minstrel “John the Baptist” whose food was “Locusts and wild honey” there is a long and unexplained gap before Jesus appears again when he fasts for 40 days and nights, is tempted by “evil”, prevails, attains enlightenment, and leads the multitudes up the mount of olives to preach – this was when he was 30, just three years before his gruesome death. Where was he and what did he do in the interim remains a mystery.

There has been much speculation that Jesus spent his “missing” years in India. This speculation is now congealing into fact – You can read about it here and watch a BBC video here.

Another documentary by the Government of India hints at Jesus in Kashmir “The story of the life of Isah

Anecdotal, circumstantial, and even recorded information clearly point to Jesus having been in India and or at least having been influenced either by Buddhist or Hindu philosophical thought or more likely both. These speculations add to the mystery of the person called Jesus and his definitive teachings summarized in “The Sermon on the Mount”

There are several other reasons for my fascination with this “Sermon on the Mount”:

  1. This sermon stands out from the rest of what appears in the Bible both in the old and new testaments in terms of its directness, brevity, and pithiness
  2. It embodies in a sense the entire essence of all that Jesus wanted to say and share coming as it did soon after his 40-day/night “fast” that led to his “realization”
  3. It is also a defining moment in the life of Jesus – it was in all probability an event that occurred in 30 CE just three years before his gruesome death
  4. While a lot of western authors have read and written about Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma, the reverse of Hindus writing or commenting about other religions is a rarity. There are exceptions – Eknath Easwaran’s commentaries or Swami Prabhavananda’s (Ramakrishna Math) brilliant book “The Sermon on the Mount, according to Vedanta” – These however remain exceptions and in today’s times the need to study other religions and make comparative commentaries is an urgent need.
  5. For too long the Christian church has interpreted these lines literally when a deeper reading and analysis of the sermon show that Jesus was speaking from a high philosophical plane much removed from the one we live on.
  6. This (point-5 above) is perhaps why he resorted to parables and such in his subsequent teachings – he was perhaps bringing it down a few notches to serve the needs of those who had not reached the exalted plane he had.
  7. Finally, I am also of the opinion that a “grounding” in the tenets of Sanatana Dharma/Hinduism provides one with the flexibility to view all religions objectively – It is the only religion that considers and accepts all other religions to be true

This is going to be a series of posts on the sermon interpreted from a Sanatana Dharma/vedantic perspective or more simply an attempt to delve deeper into what he could have actually meant when he said what he said.

Right at the beginning of this sermon Jesus lists what are popularly called the “Beatitudes” which are the condensed essence of his teachings or in other words the goals that one can attain when he/she sets out on the path to enlightenment. These are 9 in number but can be reduced to 7 because the first two (1 & 2) and then the last two (8 & 9) are so closely related in terms of the message they convey that they can be treated as one.

Just before this momentous event when Jesus leads the multitudes up the mount, he had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and was sorely “tempted of the “devil” who offered him “all the kingdoms of the world” and the “glory (associated) of them”

Who is this devil? Is he the satan of the Bible? Or is it someone or something else? As Paul Brunton says “The devil then as now is that adverse element in nature that seeks to keep man’s consciousness imprisoned in the lower form of nature… as our experiences increase we gain more understanding of the forces which are at work… and as we understand them we can consciously take our stand and work out our… full liberation”

In an earlier post in discussing the story of “The Churning of the Ocean” I had referred to the constant fight within each human being between the forces of evil/dark forces – the Asuras, and the forces of Light – the Devas. This is the satan of the bible and this is what Jesus strived against too in his Quest for enlightenment.

The 9 beatitudes are listed below and as mentioned earlier and as is evident 1 & 2 as well as 8 & 9 can be clubbed together which would make it 7 beatitudes in all and each one would be taken up in the subsequent posts to delve into their deeper meaning and also examine them in the light of Sanatana Dharma/Hinduism.

  1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  2. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

  3. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

  4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

  5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

  6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

  7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

  8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  9. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.


 

References:

  1. Picture credit: http://www.theology21.com/2011/06/30/sermon-on-the-mount-why-the-law-according-to-jesus-is-impossible-to-follow/
  2. The Mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven (Chapter) in “The Inner Reality” by Paul Brunton. July 1952. Anchor Press. Great Britain.
  3. The Holy Bible published by the Trinitarian Bible Society
  4. The King James Version of the Bible. Published January 2004.