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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You are what You Eat?

This post, spearheaded by current discussions on social media by friends, is nevertheless a result inspired by my personal experiences. It is not an argument for or against any particular food habits and does not endorse a lifestyle choice on food, which I believe is very personal and depends upon one’s own understanding of ones body and its needs. Finally, a ‘disclaimer’ – all opinions expressed here are mine alone and anyone is free to disagree. With these views  I may disappoint some people, inspire some or pass by others without a ripple and thats fine.

Early learning.

From childhood I have heard there are three types of people, tamasic, rajasic and sattvic. The day I was lazy, didn’t have a bath, comb my hair or was generally lolling about my grandma would say, “what a tamasic child she is today!” Stale food was a no no at home, even refrigerated food was considered tamasic. Meat?! even garlic and onions were used sparingly, for medicinal purposes only lest they evoke rajasic qualities. Forget the fact that being apparently tamasic i was actually immersed in books reading stories from the Bhagavatam, the Panchatantra or stories of Krishn, Prahlad or Ayyapa, a clearly sattvic activity even if done in ones pyjamas.

Then, at age five I got hurt and the Bengali doctor in his wisdom prescribed two half boiled eggs for me as daily diet. The eggs were boiled outside the house and kitchen in a little stove in a rusty tin can which was washed and dried outside.  But what about me? A brahmin child, fed on ‘sattvic’ food from birth? I waited daily for the eggs like a devotee waits for prasad hands in supplication; I loved it, the flavour, the texture, the fragrance of the runny egg, a new experience for all my senses. And that was a guilty secret I finally confessed to my Amma and Appa who, thankfully for my psychological well being, had a hearty laugh at their child’s predilection. 😀

As i grew up i went through phases of rajasic and tamasic and sattvic habits in food and way of life. Going through the university of life and picking up information and knowledge and gaining wisdom from personal experiences. In 1998 I met my Satguru, Yogiraj Siddhanath and wisdom started to flower into realizations.

Sustained and disciplined yogic practice added its inputs and one major realization that came was motive trumps everything else when it comes to the effect of an action. The energy behind the act decides the resultant fruit of that action.

Today I eat very little, mostly organic vegetarian food cooked at home but without obsessing, eat what’s available…or not.

Outer Sattvicity

Today’s topic is about food, yet I’d like to begin this section with an anecdote I heard as a kid. Kabir the great mystic saint from Kashi was a weaver. While he weaved the cloth he would be immersed in divine love, people of Kashi came in hordes to buy cloth woven at his loom. Apparently when one wore the cloth woven by Kabir one would spontaneously go into a blissful samadhi like state.

Though this anecdote is self explanatory, it reiterates my point that everything we use becomes sattvic or tamasic by the energy and motive that touches it at every stage. The food we eat is effected by the soil that its grown on, the water thats used for irrigation, the mental state of the farmer who is harvesting it, the emotions of the person processing or cooking it. A happy citizenry produces happy benign products, meat, fruits or vegetables, it matters not.

Hence the importance of caring for our environment, our craftsmen and farmers, people who serve and are served, to live with awareness of our surroundings, not to leave large toxic footprints. Without arguments this is the ideal yogic external life too. A true practicing yogi, according to me, is incapable of polluting the environment, is not a glutton, is judicious in consumption, follows a minimalistic approach towards resources.

In India traditionally, there are mantras specifically formulated and chanted, while planting the seeds, before harvest, while cooking, after cooking, and then before taking the first morsel, these mantras by their vibrations are believed to neutralise all toxins, physical and vibrational contained in the food.

Inner Sattvicity

Now about the yogi who has internalised….Yes this blog is for those already part of the way up this path, those who are engaged in purifying the inner.

For moi, internalising the external, the practicing yogi becomes aware of the physical body as a temple that houses the soul and the spirit of the divine, and treats it as such. Every moment understanding the sacredness and sanctity of this body temple theres a reluctance to pollute it intentionally with gross food or thoughts and emotions.

But often the yogi is not supported in this endeavour by the produce that is available. What happens when such a yogi engaged in the purifying of the inner being eats toxic/tamasic, non sattvic food? I know, by experience, that the body of the practicing yogi processes the food, ingesting the nourishing and expelling the toxic naturally and making it sattvic. There’s no voluntary thought process happening here. It’s happened to me there’s a blip in the body, a pause and then course correction, the toxins are eliminated and the body recovers quickly. This happens with emotional and mental toxic vibrations too external and internal….quick jettisoning of all baggage.

The yogi here is not expending any energy on conscious control of the external circumstance, “oh i got a bunch of toxic bacterias in the last bite, um salmonella, oops i think the vegetable/fish/piece of meat i just ate was very sad, was that an aphid that i just swallowed with my raw organically grown salad leaf? I need to go through a detox programme now.” Nope, the body is fine tuned to take care of this while the yogic mind flows in a constant stream towards the divine. It’s all because of the practice, the pranayama, the bandhas, the kumbhaks, the mudras, the intelligence of the pran…the specialised techniques given by the Guru, by the grace of the Satguru.

Fact is we all have all three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in varying degrees in all of us and in all the food available. As Yogiraj Siddhanath points out these three represent the three humours of  Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which in a practicing yogi transforms to prana, tejas and ojas and then further to hamsa, kundalini and nectar and finally livingness, light and love. So wherein is one superior to the other? When by internal alchemy all three flow towards the divine ultimately.

I shall probably be back to add more inputs as the realizations come. In the meantime, if you like to please leave a comment in the box below. Points and counter points welcome, but toxic comments will be automatically purged 😀

 

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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.

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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. 😀

 

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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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