Live Free Yoga

Shiva the Mahayogi taught the Universe freedom from attachments, habits, thoughts and social conditioning and it was called YOGA. I am learning this living in freedom from my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath .


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Of Gurus, shishyas and the Satguru

Let’s begin with this beautiful track of a Kabir song about the Satya guru sung soulfully by one of my favourite singers Channulal Mishra from Kashi. The song expresses much of what I learnt from my own Satguru, who among other qualities awakened in me an awareness of divinity in the daily activities of ordinary life and ignited a joy within not dependent on external circumstances. The song begins with a couplet awaring us of a false guru and goes on to explain the role of the Satguru. You can let the song play as you read the rest of this post 🙂

That guru is called True (music track)

When I first started this article it was going to be only about the Satguru and the Guru but I then realised that without the shishya who gazes upon them this would be an incomplete effort. So here I am eschewing upon a most difficult topic and wondering why I am even attempting this since I will probably open myself to more flak than appreciation. But when has that ever stopped me from saying what I feel. And as usual I write from my own experiences and inference and anyone is welcome to disagree.

For the purpose of this article I am going to use the word Satguru for true spiritual guru and guru for a teacher or acharya and shishya for student or disciple and seeker. I am purposely not using the word follower here as for me this implies a ‘blind’ faith in the person or path being tread, a pack mentality- sheeple as they are addressed now, lacking what is called, the vivek buddhi or power of discernment.

SATGURU

The coming of the Satguru in a disciple’s life is akin to the meteorite falling on earth that ended the age of the dinosaurs giving the Earth an evolutionary boost. The arrival brings to an end the dinosaurian mindset in the disciple ushering a new beginning. Dinosaurian here refers not only to a conditioned and atrophied mindset but also to the intellectual knowledge collected over years of study. Shams crashed into Rumi’s life reducing all his bookish knowledge to naught. The vibration of the Satguru is such that it transforms the disciple, sometimes at first meeting. There are many such examples, Yukteswar Giri and Yogananada, Ramakrishna and Vivekananda*.

English language has no appropriate word for Satguru. Popularly the word Master is used in its stead, but the word ‘master’ in all its nuances does not come close to explaining Satguru as understood in the spiritual context. Though I have used the word master, for want of a better word in English, for the title of my book One Master one disciple, it does not inspire me. For me the word master immediately brings to mind an autocratic figure wielding control over his slave disciples, which a true spiritual guru definitely does not do.

In earlier times it was common to address spiritual satgurus with the simpler guru. It indicated a person exhibiting the attributes of a Satguru even though not addressed as one, for example Guru Gorakhnath who is at the level of a deity! And Sikh guru’s, Nanak to Gobind, though referred to as Guru many of them exhibited the characteristics of the Satguru, i.e. the ability to transform by their mere presence the disciple, one of the principal quality of the Satguru who does not ‘do’ anything but by merely ‘being’ sparks in the seeker an inner light of divinity. Some of the great gurus did not even use a prefix or a suffix such as Kabir, Lalla, Lahiri, yet they were recognised by the then present as shining in the light of the divine.

One key quality to note in a Satguru is that their goal is the expansion of the awareness of the disciple, to disengage them from the external and move them inwards. A true spiritual guru is not an advisor for daily living…getting a job, having a good relationship, making money, doing well in class etc.

The paradoxes on the spiritual path become suddenly clear to the disciple after contact with the Satguru, arousing a knowingness of the universe by connecting with its blueprint within. The paradox that going with the flow gives control of one’s life, the disciple who drowns in the ocean of divinity is the one who actually gets to the other side rather than the one swimming on the surface. Jo ubhra so doob gaya jo dooba so paar!!

The Satguru awakens the disciple to the inner wellspring of joy enabling the disciple to become love and radiate love. All this the Satguru can do by mere presence. A technique or practice may be given to relax the grip of  the disciples mind and the transformation is initiated.

The external physical Satguru introduces the disciple to the inner essential Satguru. A true spiritual Guru does not become the disciples crutch rather the Satguru guides the disciple to become self reliant. Physical proximity, after a while can reduce as the Satguru can, at will, contact the disciple who is receptive thousands of miles away. I have had this experience, as I am sure, have others.

*(Interestingly, most popular examples i could find or give from the past are of male gurus and their male disciples. Is it patriarchy that effaced the names of the women saints or were they themselves not interested in leaving behind a hierarchy. Not saying there were none, there are many examples of women Rishis but Meera, Lalla, many female ascetics from South India established no organised sect or religions, seemingly satisfied with their own connection to divinity and radiating it.  There are scant mention of their key disciples. Similarly most pictures I found were also rendition of male gurus with male disciples. This trend has changed in recent times since the likes of Anandamoyee Ma. Hmn, this would be a topic of another more in-depth study…or not. )

GURU

Today the word Guru is often used more loosely to mean an expert in any particular field. So  we have the management gurus, IT and tech gurus and even the love guru. They are well read and have “mastered” their subjects. The word guru in the present context for me means a teacher who throws light on the subject under study. In India anyone who teaches us anything, be it music, dance or sports is accorded the status of a guru, starting from our parents who are considered the first guru.

While the satguru is associated only with the spiritual field the guru or teacher can be from any field. But here we are turning the lens on gurus of the spiritual path so will focus on them.

The Satguru, by nature, lets the pure light of the Divine flow through without corruption and transforms the disciple; the Guru, on the other hand, teaches, fine tunes and perfects the technique given for practice by the Satguru to the disciple. The more clarity the Guru has in passing on the teachings sincerely, the more the benefit to the student. Depending on the lineage, the Guru guides the student in mantra or tantra, in yog or its specialised branches. The teacher inspires the student by living and naturally exhibiting the qualities that are the result of the practice, love courage, joy and peace, siddhis if that’s what’s being taught. In short by example and walking the path the teacher shows the way to the student.

Since the Guru is also evolving he/she is vulnerable to the pitfalls of human passions and emotions and can be easily influenced by Ego and Ahamkar. Most gurus fall prey to the adulations of their students, some of whom can and do praise sincerely or sycophantically. Greed for money and fame being another of the hazard the teacher watches out for. Therefore the Guru needs to be constantly in connect with the light of the Satguru. In the path of yoga, be in sync with the yama and niyamas. The swadhyaya -self study, turning the lens inwards, being a very important tenet for teachers on the spiritual path of guiding seekers, keeps the teacher realistic and away from delusions of being a satguru or profess taking on the role of the satguru.

SHISHYA

Now wherein in all this does the shishya or pupil fit in?

In the clear gaze of the shishya the image of the Satguru and the Guru is reflected back giving them an unadulterated view of themselves. The Satguru shines in the sky like the sun radiating life, neither needing nor wanting, but the moment the shishya’s gaze turns upwards an enriching connection is formed, a connection of Love, in that exchange of love, the disciple flowers and the Satguru accomplishes the evolution of another soul.

In the case of the teacher, whats a teacher without the taught. Though the guru may be releasing a fragrance of knowledge and information like a flowering tree but its the sincere student who is drawn to partake of it, completing and complementing the role of that teacher to distribute knowledge.

The shishya, according to me, has the most difficult of roles in this trio – to recognise a satguru from a guru, a charlatan guru from a sincere one. Especially as both the Satguru and the Guru can physically appear the same. In fact the Guru often being still in the ego looks and behaves more pious than the Satguru who is more natural and whose aim is to shake and wake up the disciple. Contrarily a Guru might take on a role like a Satguru might, a zen master, being rude and harsh. Now the shishya has to sift this through the lens of his/her own discretion and recognise the sincere teacher and distinguish him or her from a Satguru!

 A very difficult task indeed sometimes learnt after trial and error by the seeker, over many lives! One cannot base this identification on the number of disciples an existing Satguru has or the popularity of an organisation, here the seeker might just end up being a “follower”, similarly discovering an ascetic hidden in a cave in the Himalayas also does not guarantee a genuine satguru. The seeker to ‘see’ the Satguru needs an unbiased clear sight uncorrupted by conditioning.

Well I wish good luck to all such seekers.

Doodled some early morning musings that i found interesting and you might too.

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Explaining the doodle, at the bottom we have the pool of creation that includes everything that is created- the whole universe. Here we focus on the pool of humanity from which come the seekers of many hues. Those that seek actively for a spiritual true living Guru or just a teacher of philosophies, yoga, spiritual techniques. Seekers who are entrenched in religions of their choice, following customs, traditions, religious functions. Seekers not seeking anything, happy or not in the trammels of daily life and seekers seeking material and external happiness. From this pool come the disciples and students.

Some find a teacher who leads them to a Satguru, others find the Satguru directly or vice versa the Satguru finds them. Some Satguru’s connect with a deity- Shiva and his rays Gorakh, Hanuman; Vishnu and his avatars, Ram, Krishna, Buddha; Shakti, the Mahavidyas, Kaali, Durga. These beings, for me being extra terrestrial and cosmic beings  are in human form only because they are appearing on earth, on another galaxy they will appear like the locals! Some Seekers and Satguru’s might directly connect with the Infinite Ocean of consciousness, but usually even the most advanced and avataric beings have a physical guru/satguru and or diety, the reason for this I still have to figure out.

The infinite Ocean of consciousness is called by my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath as the Isness of the zero, not-zero who’s centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere. His poetry says it all:

वहां ध्यान न स्थान न नाद न बिंद, आकाश नहीं वहां काल कहाँ
सब शून्य अशून्य का हैपन है, ईश्वर भी निरंकार वहां – योगिराज सिद्धनाथ

Between these two pools all drama is being played. And the wonder of this infinite consciousness being within us and discoverable is exquisite. The Satguru leads us back here effortlessly supporting us.

 

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Kashi- Flowing us back to our source.

It’s amazing isn’t it when a certain truth is revealed to you at an unguarded moment and your awareness has an Aha moment and the brain lights up with a brilliance. Such revealed knowledge occurs as a result of the grace of our Satguru and our personal sadhana and has the potential to transform us but might have little significance for someone else. This happened to me on a recent visit to Kashi.

Yes took off for a long time, but thats the beauty of a blog, no deadlines and no compulsions ha ha. Anyways here I am back from Kashi with what I’m hoping is another small step towards divinity….or not huh.

It was a peaceful time to visit this city.

Being the monsoon season the Ganga flowed majestically full, pregnant with water; her movement evoked in me a nostalgia of many lifetimes spent in her arms on the ghats of Kashi. A familiarity with her ebb and flow which could not have come from this life. The city streets felt the same, intimate knowledge akin to the free pariah dog who has marked territory and knows every secret of the winding gallis. On each visit to Varanasi as this city is now known, I have experienced this homecoming. The last visit was with my beloved Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath and his wife Gurumata Shivangini.

The Urdhavaret Ganga.

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On the second day of my visit as I sat in a state of heightened happiness in my room overlooking the Ganga, I felt as if I too was in flow as she flowed towards the north, North? and the realisation fell like a lightning bolt that, this is the message of the Ganga from aeons of time- Go back to your source. She who had emanated from Shiva’s locks in the Himalayas was here showing the way back to him! This has been her hidden message to the millions who took a dip in her year after year for thousands of years. . Practice as I did Mahavatar Babaji’s urdhavaret breath of the Kundalini Kriya Yoga as taught by my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath, this realisation spurred on a movement of uncontrollable delight in my spine. At the same moment there emanated a sense of awe at this special revelation.

In her journey from the Himalayas in the north towards the Bay of Bengal to the south and east, the Ganga in Kashi turns back and flows North. Of course there must be a geophysical ‘reason’ for this but that is not of the essence here. What happened was a sudden inflow of divine insight for me. I had not read or heard about this phenomenon in any scriptures or ancient text, I don’t remember anyone ever mentioning the river in this spiritual context.  Yes, it was as if Ma Ganga revealed to me a secret which was forever visible through the ages but not realised. I wonder if I am the first person to chronicle this understanding of the urdhavaret message of this ancient river.

After this realisation the daily morning dip took on a new meaning. “Do not depend on externals for your happiness,” says Yogiraj urging his disciples to tap into their inner well of joy independent of material possessions or external supports. The Ganga was reiterating this as she flowed accepting the garbage and the flowers of love, the ashes and the sweet offerings, the greedy and the sincere devotees.

Sitting in the river I could feel all my energy reversing, a fountain of love, aided by the flow of the loving Ganga. We are truly liberated when we are able to unhook ourselves from the externals, she was indicating to me. A profound sense of peace and contentment filled me and continues to fulfil me.

Visit to my Satguru and his Param Guru Sthan

There was a special reason for my trip at this time, a visit to Lahiri Mahasaya’s home which was open to public only on GuruPurnima day. On my earlier visits I have visited this house, almost difficult to find, and sat and stared at the door of an all too familiar house.

   IMG_0094 Circumstances had made it impossible to realise this heartfelt desire earlier but this year being free from many responsibilities I undertook this pilgrimage.

On Gurupurnima day, early in the morning accompanied by two others I set off on a journey which for me was a completion of a karma from the past.

But first we visited the Nandi Ghat or Gaai Ghat, hallowed as it was by its association to our Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath who spent his childhood days in this ghat owned by his family. Disciples rooted in the Guru/Shishya tradition always pay first respect to their living guru. There is a well known couplet by Kabir who says, ” गुरु गोबिन्द दोउ खडे काके लागूँ पाँय, बलिहारी गुरु आपने गोबिन्द दियो बताय,” meaning- when the Guru and God are both present whose feet should I touch first, beloved is the Guru who has shown me the way to God. But for me my Guru is Gobind and I look no further. 😀

Nandi Ghat/Gaai Ghat and Yogiraj’s family Temple.

Nandi Ghat/ Gaai Ghat, Yogiraj SiddhanathIMG_0118IMG_0110IMG_0111

After a special aarati and sadhana at this very personal shiva temple we headed towards Lahiri Mahasaya’s home near Purana Durgaji in Chowsatti Ghat. Since the boats were banned due to the fast flowing river we made our way through the narrow familiar streets of the old city. No photographs were allowed inside so I managed to take some from the narrow street outside.

Lahiri Mahasaya’s Home as seen from the street.

Lahiri Mahasaya home, Kashi IMG_0093  As I bowed in front of the seat of Lahiri Baba I had a meltdown moment as past life associations came flooding out. At the same time there was a sense of a completion and I knew I did not have to come back here again. We received the prasad from the family members and left.

Street Food, Bovine Majestica etc.

Daily breakfast was at the corner kachori shop which would open at 8:30 and shut at 10 am. The father and son duo seemingly happy with what they make in that time. The whole day was peppered with stops at The Blue Lassi shop with wifi for a mango lassi, the Kashi Chat Bhandar on Dasashwamedha Ghat for an amazing tamatar (tomato) chat or tikki and kulfi!! Of course our progress was often marred by majestic cows and bulls on the street who had to be cajoled out of the way. 😀

 

Street food and cows IMG_0100 IMG_0102 IMG_0125IMG_0164IMG_0165IMG_0162 IMG_0163

On the last evening we made it for the Ganga Aarati at Dasashwamedha Ghat.

IMG_0147Ganga AArati

It is right that I end this with the Manikarnika Ghat or the burning ghat. From the balcony of my room I could see the constant burning pyres, a testimony to the fleeting moment of human life. This too evoked a nostalgia and yearning for I know not what.

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