Creation According to Hinduism

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The Material Creation
The material creation in its very first stage is called pradhana – the eternal, subtle, undifferentiated sum total of all material elements, the unmanifested eternal combination of the three modes of material nature.

Pradhana is sometimes also related to as saguna-Brahman, since it is basically Brahman but with the presence of the three modes of material nature. Nevertheless, these modes do not yet clearly manifest causes and effects (SB 3.26.10).

The pradhana contains the following 24 elements in a dormant state:

– 5 subtle elements (sound, touch, form-color, taste)
– 5 gross elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth)
– 5 knowledge aquiring senses (ears, skin, eyes, tongue, nose)
– 5 working senses (tongue-mouth, hands, legs, genital, anus)
– 4 internal, subtle senses (mind, intelligence, ego, contaminated consciousness)

Time is considered to be the 25th element; it is the mixing and agitating element. The Supreme Personality of Godhead can be perceived as time (SB 3.26.11-18).

The pradhana or saguna-Brahman becomes then agitated by the time factor which represents the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus and by the influence of the three modes of material nature the creation comes to the level of mahat-tattva, or prakrti, where the elements actually can manifest themselves. The mahat-tattva is the breeding source of all varieties and brings forth all the different material bodies and material objects; it contains all the universes and is the root of all cosmic manifestations. The mahat-tattva is annihilated at the time of the annihilation, the end of Brahma’s life.

Next the Supreme Personality of Godhead impregnates the mahat-tattva with His internal potency which are the living entities. Agitated by the destinations of the contitioned souls the material nature, or mahat-tattva, delivers the cosmic intelligence (Hiranyamaya). The mahat-tattva is thus “lit up” by the sum total of the consciousness of all the conditioned souls (SB 3.26.19-20).

The Caturvyuha expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, namely Sri Vasudeva, Sri Aniruddha, Sri Pradyumna and Sri Sankarshana occur and take charge of various aspects of the material creation.

In the beginning pure goodness, the vasudeva stage of consciousness, prevails within the mahat-tattva. This point of creation is controlled by Sri Vasudeva, the Superknower. Due to the pure goodness the consciousness has the qualities of complete serenity, clarity and freedom from any distraction; one is free from the infringement by material desires. Therefore one can see a reflection of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and if one worships Sri Vasudeva one can come to the platform of pure goodness (suddha-sattva), thus understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead (SB 3.26.21).

Through the desire to enjoy and control seperately from Krishna, the misuse of independence by the living entities which are impregnated into the material nature, material ego or false ego is caused to spring up from the mahat-tattva in pure goodness. This false ego is endowed with active power of three kind – good (serene), passionate (active), ignorant (dull). From the false ego in different modes of material nature mind, senses, elements as well as all the other ingredients and objects of the material nature are produced. Therefore every object within the material creation is seen as identical with false ego since it has the false ego as its source. Sri Sankarshana controls that false ego and in order to become free from it one is adviced to worship Sri Sankarsana. He is worshipped through Lord Siva; the snakes which cover the body of Lord Shiva are representations of Sri Sankarsna, and Lord Shiva is always absorbed in meditation upon Sri Sankarshana (SB 3.26.23-24).

From the false ego in goodness come the controlling demigods as well as the mind. The mind has the quality of not being fixed; due to different kind of desires for sense gratification the mind rejects something as bad and accepts something else as good. The false ego in goodness is controlled by Sri Aniruddha. If one wants to get free from mental disturbances, one has to worship Sri Aniruddha. For this purpose, worship of the moon planet is also recommended in the Vedic literature (SB 3.26.26-27).

From the false ego in passion intelligence, living energy (prana), the five knowledge aquiring sense and the five working senses are created. Intelligence has five qualities: doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory and sleep. The function of intelligence is to ascertain the nature of an object and thus help the senses to make choices. The intelligence is supposed to control or guide the senses. By intelligence one can understand how things are and if intelligence is properly applied one’s consciousness becomes expanded. This begins with doubt, the first quality of intelligence. One doubts whether ones existence is spiritual or material. Doubt is a very important factor in developping intelligence, eventhough doubting is improper after receiving information from an authoritative source. Through proper analysis one then finds that things are different from what they seemed to be so far; thus misapprehension, the second quality of intelligence, is detected. Next, after eliminating the wrong understanding one can come to the proper conclusion; this is called correct apprehension, the third quality of intelligence. In this way by intelligence one can understands that one is not the body and one’s consciousness becomes expanded; expansion of consciousness culminates in pure Krishna-consciousness. Beyond the intelligence’s three qualities of doubt, misapprehension and correct apprehension there are also the qualities of memory and sleep. In order to keep the intelligence working properly one must sleep. For being fixed in one’s intelligence one has to worship Sri Pradyumna, who is reached through the worship of Lord Brahma.

Directly related to intelligence in their function are the knowledge acquiring senses which are: Ears, skin, eyes, nose and the tongue.

With the working senses action are performed; there are five working senses as well: Tongue (mouth, speaking), hands, legs, genitals and the anus.

Both, the knowledge acquiring senses and the working senses are depending on the living energy (vital energy, prana), which is also created from the false ego in the mode of passion. The more a person is influenced by the mode of passion the more he can accomplish and acquire. The Vedic scriptures recommend that if one wants to encourage a person in acquiring material possessions, one should also encourage him in sex life. Thus one can see that those who are addicted to sex life are also materially advanced. Sex life or passionate life is the impetus for the material advancement of civilization (SB 3.26.29).

From the false ego in ignorance the five subtle and gross elements, from whom all (perceivable) objects within the material world are made, become manifested; it is presided over by Sri Sankarsana. Therefore persons who are very dull and very much absorbed in the gross material world worship Lord Shiva who is connected with Sri Sankarsana, in order to obtain gross material sense objects. When the false ego in ignorance is agitated by the sex energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, first the subtle element sound is manifested. The original and very first sound within the creation is the omkara, “OM”, being the sound representation of the Supreme Personality’s Brahman aspect. From sound comes the gross element ether as well as the sense of hearing. Sound has the quality of conveying the idea of an object; therefore it is considered to be the subtle form of an object. Further sound indicates the presence of a speaker, eventually screened form our view, and it also constitutes the subtle form of ether (SB 3.26.32-33).

Ether has the qualities of accommodating the room for external and internal existences of all living entities, the field of activity of the vital air, the senses and the mind.

Ether means room or space, and it evolves from sound vibration. Thus form the original sound vibration “om” the room was created within which the manifestation of the gross elements like air, fire, water and earth (the universe) can take place. In general the ether or sky gives accommodation to the room which the various material bodies of the living entities need for their external and internal existence. The internal existence of a living entity in the material world comprises of vital air (prana), senses and the mind. These ingredients require for their functioning subtle forms which are invisible and rest within ether. In this way ehter accommodates the internal existence of the living entities within the material world. With external existence everything is meant that stands in relation with material objects which are external to the material body. By means of sound vibration, talking about a particular object, the subtle form of that object, which sound carries, is created within the mind. These subtle and invisible forms of material objects are given a room within the ether and this is called the external activity of ether. That within ether subtle, invisible forms of material sense objects can exist has been proven by modern science by transmission of television where forms as pictures are transmitted from one place to another by wireless means (SB 3.26.34). Thus it is seen that mental activities or psychological action in terms of thinking, feeling and willing are activities on the ethereal platform. This is very important in relation to the moment of death. On the basis of its reflections (which are influenced by sound vibrations) the mind generates desires for obtaining various sense objects. In fact these desires are unlimited and they all create subtle forms within ether. An of course, they all result in various bodies in order to enjoy these desired situations (desiring a sense object indirectly means desiring all the tools to enjoy it) which are accommodated in their subtle form within ether as well. In this way one can, and in fact by every minute’s desires one actually does create an unlimited number of bodies within the ether, all well equipped to become manifested on the gross level. At the moment when one particular body perishes the opportunity for one of all the subtle forms kept within ether arises to become manifested on the gross plane. This happens according to the level of contamination or desire which was most prominent within the mind at the moment of death. All this is described by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (8.5-8).

From the above it becomes clear that the evolution of various material elements is not something that takes place only once, at the moment of creation. The description of the primary creation is rather a general scheme by which matter is manifested in general, at the moment when creation starts as well as at any stage of the existence of the material manifestation. The difference is, however, that at the beginning of creation the sum total of each element was taken from a dormant state, the pradhana, and made available by the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas later, when the living entities “create” while pursuing various desires they simply receive supplies from that sum total of the material elements.

From ethereal existence, under the influence of time, the subtle element touch and thence air and the sense of touch become manifested.

After creating subtle forms in the mind which are accommodated in the ether, time separates us from the manifestation of gross forms which we can touch. By the influence of the mode of passion, which is related to air (movement), we endeavor to manifest the form on the gross level. Our sense of proprietorship over action (passion) is due to the activity of air within the material body. Consequently, we will “get in touch” with the gross form of what now is a wishful thought in the mind in due course of time.

Karma Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

What is Karma ?

Karma is a Sanskrit term. It means action or deed. Any physical or mental action is Karma. Thinking is mental Karma. Karma is the sum total of our acts, both in the present life and in the preceding births.

Karma means not only action, but also the result of an action. There is a hidden power in Karma or action termed ‘Adrishta’ which brings in fruits of Karmas for the individual. The consequence of an action is really not a separate thing. It is a part of the action and cannot be divided from it.

Karma, according to Jaimini Rishi, is the performance of Agnihotra and other Vedic rituals. According to the Gita, any action done with Nishkamya Bhava is Karma. Lord Krishna says: “Work incessantly. Your duty is to work but not to expect the fruits thereof.” The central teaching of the Gita is non-attachment to work. Breathing, eating, seeing, hearing, thinking, etc., are all Karmas. Thinking is the real Karma. Raga-dvesha (likes and dislikes) constitute real Karma.

How Karma is Fashioned

Man is threefold in his nature. He consists of Iccha, Jnana and Kriya. Iccha is desire or feeling. Jnana is knowing. Kriya is willing. These three fashion his Karma. He knows objects like chair, tree. He feels joy and sorrow. He wills – to do this, or not to do that.

Behind the action, there are desire and thought. A desire for an object arises in the mind. Then you think how to get it. Then you exert to possess it. Desire, thought and action always go together. They are the three threads, as it were, that are twisted into the cord of Karma.

Desire produces Karma. You work and exert to acquire the objects of your desire. Karma produces its fruits as pain or pleasure. You will have to take births after births to reap the fruits of your Karma. This is the Law of Karma.

Kinds of Karma

Karma is of three kinds, viz. Sanchita or the accumulated works, Prarabdha or the fructifying works, and Kriyamana or the current works. Sanchita is all the accumulated Karmas of the past. Part of it is seen in the character of man, in his tendencies and aptitudes, capacities, inclinations and desires. Prarabdha is that portion of the part of Karma which is responsible for the present body. It is ripe for reaping. It cannot be avoided or changed. It is only exhausted by being experienced. You pay your past debts. Kriyamana is that Karma which is now being made for the future. It is also called Agami or Vartamana.

In Vedantic literature, there is a beautiful analogy. The bow-man has already sent an arrow; it has left his hands. He cannot recall it. He is about to shoot another arrow. The bundle of arrow in the quiver on his back is the Sanchita. The arrow he has shot is Prarabdha. And the arrow which he is about to shoot from his bow is Agami. Of these, he has perfect control over the Sanchita and the Agami, but he must surely work out his Prarabdha. The past which has begun to take effect he has to experience.

Actions are of three kinds, viz., good, bad and mixed. Good Karmas make you a god or angel in heaven. Bad Karmas throw you in lower wombs. Mixed actions give you a human birth.

Every work is a mixture of good and evil. There can be neither absolute good work nor absolute bad work in this world. This physical universe is a relative plane. If you do some action, it will do some good in one corner, and some evil in another corner. You must try to do such actions that can bring the maximum of good and the minimum of evil.

 

The Law of Karma

The Doctrine of Karma forms an integral part of Vedanta. The Law of Karma is one of the fundamental doctrines not only in Hinduism, but also in Buddhism and in Jainism.

As a man sows, so he shall reap. This is the Law of Karma. It expounds the riddle of life and the riddle of the universe. It brings solace, satisfaction and comfort to one and all. It is a self-evident truth. Fortunately, the Westerners have also begun now to acknowledge its importance and veracity. The Americans have now full belief in this doctrine. Every sensible man will have to accept it. There is no other go.

A close study of this law gives encouragement to the hopeless man, to the desperate and ailing. Destiny is created by man’s thoughts, habits and character. There is every chance for his correction and improvement by changing his thoughts and habits. The scoundrel can become a saint; the prostitute can become a chaste lady; a beggar can become a king. This mighty law provides for all this.

The Doctrine of Karma only can explain the mysterious problem of good and evil in this world. The Doctrine of Karma only can bring solace, contentment, peace and strength to the afflicted and the desperate. It solves our difficulties and problems of life. It gives encouragement to the hopeless and the forlorn. It pushes a man to right thinking, right speech and right action. It brings a brilliant future for that man who lives according to this universal law. If all people understand this law correctly and discharge their daily duties carefully, they would rise to sublime heights in the ladder of spirituality. They will be moral and virtuous and have a happy, peaceful, contented life. They can bear the burden of Samsara with patience, endurance and strength of mind. There will not be any room for complaint when they see the inequalities in birth, fortune, intelligence, capacities, etc. There will be heaven on earth. All will rejoice even in suffering. Greed, jealousy, hatred, anger, passion will vanish. Virtue will reign everywhere. We will have a glorious Satya Yuga now with peace and plenty everywhere. Blessed is the man who understands and lives in the Law, for he will soon attain God-consciousness and become one with the Law-giver! Then the Law will no longer operate on him.

What is Karma Yoga?

Karma Yoga is consecration of all actions and their fruits unto the Lord. Karma Yoga is performance of actions dwelling in union with the Divine, removing attachment and remaining balanced ever in success and failure.

Karma Yoga is selfless service unto humanity. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action which purifies the heart and prepares the Antahkarana (the heart and the mind) for the reception of Divine Light or attainment if Knowledge of the Self. The important point is that you will have to serve humanity without any attachment or egoism.

Action of some kind or the other is unavoidable. You cannot keep quiet without doing anything. What binds you to phenomenal existence or Samsara is not the action but the idea of doership and enjoyership. Karma binds when it is done with a selfish motive, with the expectation of fruits. But when action is done without the expectation of fruits, it is liberating. If you act as an instrument in the hands of the Lord, as a participant in the cosmic activity of Nature, without expectation of fruits, that Karma will not bind you. Karma, then becomes Karma Yoga. Work unselfishly. Feel that you are only an instrument and that the Lord is working through you. Surrender the actions and their fruits to the Lord. You will be freed from the bonds of Karma and enjoy peace.

The practice of Karma Yoga prepares the aspirant for the reception of knowledge of the Self. It makes him a proper Adhikari (aspirant) for the study of Vedanta. Ignorant people jump at once to Jnana Yoga, without first having a preliminary training in Karma Yoga. That is the reason why they fail miserably to realize the Truth. Various impurities lurk in the fourfold mind (Antahkarana). The mind is filled with likes and dislikes, jealousy, etc. They only talk of Brahman. They indulge in all sorts of useless controversies, vain debates and dry, endless discussions. Their philosophy is only on their lips. In other words, they are lip-Vedantins. What is really wanted is practical Vedanta through ceaseless, selfless service. Selfless service is the only way to remove the impurities lurking in the mind.

Two things are indispensably requisite in the practice of Karma Yoga. The Karma Yogi should have non-attachment to the fruits of actions. He will have to dedicate his actions at the altar of God with the feeling of Ishvararpana. Non-attachment brings freedom from sorrow and fear. Non-attachment makes a man absolutely bold and fearless. When he dedicates his actions at the Lotus Feet of the Lord, he develops devotion to God and approaches Him nearer and nearer. He gradually feels that God works directly through his Indriyas or instruments. He feels no strain or burden in discharge of his works now. He is quite at ease. The heavy load which he felt previously on account of false notion has vanished out of sight now.

Practice of Karma Yoga

The practice of Karma Yoga does not demand that you should possess enormous wealth. You can serve with your mind and body. If you find a poor sick man lying on the road side, give him some water or milk to drink. Cheer him up with sweet, encouraging words. Put him in a carriage and take him to the nearest hospital. If you have no money to pay for the carriage, carry the patient on your back and see that he is admitted into the hospital. If you do service like this, your heart will be purified. God is more pleased with such sort of service for the poor helpless people than with the service done by rich people with pomp and vanity.

If any one is suffering from acute pain in any part of the body, at once shampoo the affected part very quickly. Feel, when you massage, that you are shampooing the body of the Lord (Virat). Repeat your Ishta Mantra or any name of the Lord while shampooing. Pray also from the bottom of your heart: “O Lord! Remove the pain of this man. Let him rest in peace. Let him possess good health.” Feel, when you massage, that the energy from the cosmic source, Hiranyagarbha, is flowing continuously through your hands. Some neophytes are afraid their energy will be depleted by massaging another person. This is a serious mistake. The more you give, the more yu will get. You will be in tune with the cosmic energy or the Infinite. This is the divine law.

 

Qualifications o a karmic yogi

A Karma Yogi should be absolutely free from lust, greed, anger and egoism. Even if there are traces of these Doshas, he should try to remove them. He should not expect any kind of fruits for his actions herein and hereafter. He should not have any desire for name and fame, approbation, thirst for applause, admiration and gratitude. He must have a spotless character. He should try to possess this gradually. He should be humble and free from hatred, jealousy, harshness, etc. He should always speak sweet words. How can a proud and jealous man, who expects respect and honour from others, serve others ? He should be absolutely fearless. A timid man is absolutely unfit for Karma Yoga. He is fit to assist his wife in cleaning utensils in the kitchen in the morning and in washing her clothes in the evening.

A Karma Yogi should have large heart. He should be free from crookedness, meanness, miserliness and selfishness. He should be absolutely free from greed, anger and egoism.

A Karma Yogi should have an amiable, loving social nature. He should be able to move and mix with everybody without distinction of caste, creed or colour. He should have perfect adaptability, tolerance, sympathy, cosmic love and mercy. He should be able to adjust with the habits and ways of others. He should have an all-embracing and an all-inclusive heart. He should always have a cool and balanced mind. He should have presence of mind also. He should have equal vision. He should rejoice in the welfare of others. A man who is easily irritable and who can easily be offended for trifling things is absolutely unfit for the path of Karma Yoga. He should have all the organs under perfect control. He should lead a very simple life. He should bear insult, disrespect, dishonour, censure, infamy, disgrace, harsh words, heat, cold and the pain of diseases. He should have absolute faith in himself, in God, in scriptures and in the words of hid Guru. If he leads a life of luxury, if he wants everything for himself, how can he share his possessions with others ? He should burn his selfishness to the very root. Let me remind you the words of the Gita: “Restraining and subduing the senses, regarding everything equally, rejoicing in the welfare of all, these alone come to Me.” Such a man becomes a good Karma Yogi and reaches the goal quickly.

 

Benefits of Karma Yoga

By doing selfless service you purify your heart. Egoism, hatred, jealousy, ideas of superiority and all the kindred negative qualities will vanish. You will develop humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance and mercy. Sense of separateness will be annihilated. Selfishness will be eradicated. You will get a broad and liberal outlook on life. You will begin to feel oneness and unity. Eventually you will obtain knowledge of the Self. You will realize One in all and All in one.

Generally people are impatient and they expect Siddhis after doing a little service. The real Karma Yogi who serves people with humility and Atma Bhava (seeing God in every face) becomes a real ruler of the world. He is honoured and respected by all. The more service you do with Atma Bhava the more power, energy and capacity you get. Practice this and feel.

If you really want to grow in the spiritual path you must do all sorts of service daily till the end of your life. Then only you are safe. Do not stop doing service when you have become a famous Yogi. The spirit of service must enter every nerve, cell, tissue and bone of your body. It must become ingrained in you. Then only you will become a real, full-blown, practical Vedantin. Is there any greater Vedantin or Karma Yogi than Lord Buddha ? He still lives in our hearts, because that spirit of service was ingrained in him and he spent his whole life in serving others in a variety of ways. He is indeed a magnanimous soul, one without a second. You can also become a Buddha if you apply yourself diligently to selfless service with the right mental attitude.

In the practice of Nishkama Karma Yoga, there is no loss of effort. There is no harm. There is no transgression also. Even a little of this practice can protect you from great fear of rebirth, of death with its concomitant evils. You will reap the fruits of Karma Yoga, viz. Jnana. There is no uncertainty here. The path of Karma Yoga eventually leads to the attainment of Bliss of the Self.

May you all attain purity of heart through constant selfless service. May you all shine as dynamic Karma Yogins radiating joy, peace and bliss everywhere. May you all rejoice in the welfare of all beings. May your minds be fixed in the Lord while your hands are in the service of humanity. May you all understand the principles and techniques of Karma Yoga. May all your actions become offerings unto the Lord. May you all attain Kaivalya Moksha through the practice of Karma Yoga in this very birth.

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Bhakti Yoga By Sri Swami Sivananda

What is Bhakti?

The term Bhakti comes from the root ‘Bhaj’, which means ‘to be attached to God’. Bhajan, worship, Bhakti, Anurag, Prem, Priti are synonymous terms. Bhakti is love for love’s sake. The devotee wants God and God alone. There is no selfish expectation here. There is no fear also. Therefore it is called ‘Parama Prem Rupa’. The devotee feels, believes, conceives and imagines that his Ishtam (tutelary deity) is an Ocean of Love or Prem.

Bhakti is the slender thread of Prem or love that binds the heart of a devotee with the lotus feet of the Lord. Bhakti is intense devotion and supreme attachment to God. Bhakti is supreme love for God. It is the spontaneous out-pouring of Prem towards the Beloved. It is pure, unselfish, divine love or Suddha Prem. There is not a bit of bargaining or expectation of anything here. This higher feeling is indescribable in words. It has to be sincerely experienced by the devotee. Bhakti is a sacred, higher emotion with sublime sentiments that unites the devotees with the Lord.

Mark how love develops. First arises faith. Then follows attraction and after that adoration. Adoration leads to suppression of mundane desires. The result is single-mindedness and satisfaction. Then grow attachment and supreme love towards God.

In this type of highest Bhakti all attraction and attachment which one has for objects of enjoyment are transferred to the only dearest object, viz., God. This leads the devotee to an eternal union with his Beloved and culminates in oneness.

Types of Bhakti

Bhakti is of various kinds. One classification is Sakamya and Nishkamya Bhakti. Sakamya Bhakti is devotion with desire for material gains. A man wants wealth with this motive practices Bhakti. Another man wants freedom from diseases and therefore does Japa and offers prayers. A third one wants to become a Minister and does Upasana with this aim. This is Sakamya Bhakti. Whatever you want the Lord will certainly give you, if your Bhakti is intense and if your prayers are sincerely offered from the bottom of your heart. But you will not get supreme satisfaction, immortality and Moksha through Sakamya Bhakti.

Your Bhakti should always be Nishkamya Bhakti. God has already given you a good position, a good job, wife and children and enough wealth. Be contented with these. Aspire for Nishkamya Bhakti. Your heart will be purified and the Divine Grace will descend upon you. Be in communion with the Lord, you will become one with the Lord and you will enjoy all the Divine Aisvaryas (Divine attributes like wisdom, renunciation, power, etc.). All the Vibhutis (Special forms in which the Lord manifests) of the Lord He will give you. He will give you Darsan. He will help you to dwell in Him. At the same time He will give you all the Divine Aisvaryas also.

Another classification of Bhakti is Apara-Bhakti and Para-Bhakti. Apara-Bhakti is for beginners in Yoga. The beginner decorates an image with flowers and garlands, rings the bell, offers Naivedya (food-offerings), wave lights; he observes rituals and ceremonies. The Bhakta here regards the Lord as a Supreme Person, who is immanent in that image and who can be propitiated through that form only.

He has no expanded heart. He is a sectarian. He dislikes other kinds of Bhaktas who worship other Devatas. Gradually, from Apara-Bhakti, the devotee goes to Para-Bhakti, the highest form of Bhakti. He sees the Lord and Lord alone everywhere and feels His Power manifest as the entire universe. “Thou art all-pervading; on what Simhasana shall I seat Thee ? Thou art the Supreme Light, in whose borrowed light the sun, the moon, the stars and the fire shine; shall I wave this little Deepa or light before You ?” – thus the devotee recognizes the transcendental nature of God. Para-Bhakti and Jnana are one. But every Bhakta will have to start from Apara-Bhakti. Before you take your food, offer it to God mentally; and the food will be purified. When you pass through a garden of flowers, mentally offer all the flowers to the Lord in Archana (offering flowers in worship). When you pass through the bazaar and see a sweetmeat shop, offer all the sweetmeats as Naivedya to the Lord. Such practices will lead to Para-Bhakti.

Bhakti is also classified into Gauna-Bhakti and Mukhya-Bhakti. Gauna-Bhakti is the lower Bhakti and Mukhya-Bhakti is the higher type of Bhakti.

Go from stage to stage. Just as a flower grows in the garden, so also gradually develop love or Prem in the garden of your heart.

The enemy of devotion is egoism and desire. Where there is no Kama or desire, there alone will Rama (the Lord) manifest Himself. The enemies of peace and devotion are lust, anger and greed. Anger destroys your peace and your health also. When a man abuses you, keep peaceful. When blood begins to boil, it is impoverished. You lose vitality if you become a prey to fits of temper.

How to caltivate Bhakti

It would be a gross mistake if you consider Bhakti as merely a stage of emotionalism, while it is actually a thorough discipline and training of one’s will and the mind, a sure means to intuitive realization of God Almighty through intense love and affection for Him. It is a means to thorough apprehension of the true knowledge of Reality, beginning from the ordinary form of idol worship right upto the highest form of cosmic realisation of your oneness with Him. You can achieve this by following the eleven fundamental factors which Sri Ramanuja had prescribed. They are:

  • Abhyasa or practice of continuous thinking of God;
  • Viveka or discrimination;
  • Vimoka or freedom from everything else and longing for God;
  • Satyam or truthfulness;
  • Arjavam or straightforwardness;
  • Kriya or doing good to others;
  • Kalyana or wishing well-being to all;
  • Daya or compassion;
  • Ahimsa or non-injury;
  • Dana or charity;
  • Anavasada or cheerfulness and optimism.

 

People put a question: “How can we love God whom we have not seen ?”

Live in the company of saints. Hear the Lilas of God. Study the sacred scriptures. Worship Him first in His several forms as manifested in the world. Worship any image or picture of the Lord or the Guru. Recite His Name. Sing His glories. Stay for one year in Ayodhya or Brindavan, Chirakut or Pandhapur, Benares or Ananda Kutir. You will develop love for God.

Every act must be done that awakens the emotion of Bhakti. Keep the Puja(worship) room clean. Decorate the room. Burn incense. Light a lamp. Keep a clean seat. Bathe. Wear clean clothes. Apply Vibhuti (sacred ash) or Bhasma, and Kumkum on the forehead. Wear Rudraksha or Tulasi Mala. All these produce a benign influence on the mind and elevate the mind. They generate piety. They help to create the necessary Bhava or feeling to invoke the Deity that you want to worship. The mind will be easily concentrated.

Practice of right conduct, Satsanga, Japa, Smarana, Kirtan, prayer, worship, service of saints, residence in places of pilgrimage, service of the poor and the sick with divine Bhava, observance of Varnashrama duties, offering of all actions and their fruits to the Lord, feeling the presence of the Lord in all beings, prostrations before the image and saints, renunciation of earthly enjoyments and wealth, charity, austerities and vows, practice of Ahimsa, Satyam and Brahmacharya – all these will help you to develop Bhakti.

 

Bhavas in Bhakti

When the devotee grows in devotion there is absolute self-forgetfulness. This is called Bhava. Bhava establishes a true relationship between the devotee and the Lord. Bhava then grows into Maha-Bhava wherein the devotee lives, moves and has his being in the Lord. This is Parama-Prema, the consummation of love or Supreme Love.

There are five kinds of Bhava in Bhakti. They are Shanta, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhurya Bhavas. These Bhavas or feelings are natural to human beings and so these are easy to practice. Practice whichever Bhava suits your temperament.

  • In Shanta Bhava, the devotee is Shanta or peaceful. He does not jump and dance. He is not highly emotional. His heart is filled with love and joy. Bhishma was a Shanta Bhakta.hqdefault
  • Sri Hanuman was a Dasya Bhakta. He had Dasya Bhava, servant attitude. He served Lord Rama whole-heartedly. He pleased his Master in all possible ways. He found joy and bliss in the service of his Master.Maha018
  • In Sakhya Bhava, God is a friend of the devotee. Arjuna had this Bhava towards Lord Krishna. The devotee moves with the Lord on equal terms. Arjuna and Krishna used to sit, eat, talk and walk together as intimate friends.Mahabharata-Krishna-
  • In Vatsalya Bhava, the devotee looks upon God as his child. Yasoda had this Bhava with Lord Krishna. There is no fear in this Bhava, because God is your pet child. The devotee serves, feeds, and looks upon God as a mother does in the case of her child.Shri-Krishna-With-Mata-Yashodra-
  • The last is Madhurya Bhava or Kanta Bhava. This is the highest form of Bhakti. The devotee regards the Lord as his Lover. This was the relation between Radha and Krishna. This is Atma-Samarpana. The lover and the beloved become one. The devotee and God feel one with each other and still maintain a separateness in order to enjoy the bliss of the play of love between them. This is oneness in separation and separation in oneness. Lord Gauranga, Jayadeva, Mira and Andal had this Bhava.
    Meerabai (1)

A Caution: Madhurya Bhava is absolutely different from conjugality of earthly experience. One should not be mistaken for the other. Earthly conjugality is purely selfish and is undertaken only because it gives pleasure to one’s own self. But in love for God it is because it gives pleasure to God and not for the sake of the devotee. Divine love is not selfish. It is born of sattva. But earthly lust is born of rajas and attachment to bodies. Earthly conjugality is the outcome of egoisitc self-regarding egoistic feeling, while divine communion is the outcome of other-regarding feeling devoid of egoism. Strong selfishness is the root of worldly passion; divine love is the product of loss of egoism. This is the greatest difference between lust (kama) and divine love (prema). The two are related as darkness is related to light. No development of earthly affection, however perfect it may be, can lead one to supreme joy of divine communion. Lust lurks in the heart due to the passion that burns in the core of things. Divine love is unknown to the man of the world, however religious he may be. The secret of divine love cannot be understood, and should not be tried to be understood, so long as man is only a man and woman only a woman. The austere transformation of the human into the divine is the beginning of true love for God.maharas-bhakti

 

Nava-Vidha-Bhakti

Devotion to God is developed in nine different ways. It is supreme attacment to God through a Bhava predominant in the devotee. Intense love is the common factor in all the nine modes. Exclusive love for God is expressed through various methods. All Bhaktas of this type are above the formalities of the world. They are untouched by the laws of human Dharma and are out and out concerned with God.

Good conduct which is in accordance with perfect moral law is an auxiliary to pure Bhakti and it follows the true Bhakta wherever he goes. One cannot develop true devotion to God if he is crooked in his heart, if he has got objects of love in this world, if he is tempted by charming worldly things, if he wishes to take care of his wife, children and relatives, if he wishes to feed his body well, if he wishes to earn a great name in the world, if he wants to establish a permanent fame on earth, if he does not like to part with the alluring contents of the world. Perfect detachment from all objects is a preliminary to real devotion. Vairagya is the product of real love for God. One who has love for the world cannot have love for God. Where there is Kama, there cannot be Rama and where there is Rama there cannot be Kama. Love for the world and love for God are diametrically opposite things. One has to be renounced for the attainment of the other. This renunciation can be acquired through the nine forms of Bhakti.

In the Srimad-Bhagavata and the Vishnu Purana it is told that the nine forms of Bhakti are

  1. Sravana (hearing of God’s Lilas and stories),
  2. Kirtana (singing of His glories),
  3. Smarana (remembrance of His name and presence),
  4. Padasevana (service of His feet),
  5. Archana (worship of God),
  6. Vandana (prostration to Lord),
  7. Dasya (cultivating the Bhava of a servant with God),
  8. Sakhya (cultivation of the friend-Bhava) and
  9. Atmanivedana (complete surrender of the self).

A devotee can practice any method of Bhakti which suits him best. Through that he will attain Divine illumination.

Sravana is hearing of Lord’s Lilas. Sravana includes hearing of God’s virtues, glories, sports and stories connected with His divine Name and Form. The devotee gets absorbed in the hearing of Divine stories and his mind merges in the thought of divinity; it cannot think of undivine things. The mind loses, as it were, its charm for the world. The devotee remembers God only even in dream.

The devotee should sit before a learned teacher who is a great saint and hear Divine stories. He should hear them with a sincere heart devoid of the sense of criticism or fault-finding. The devotee should try his best to live in the ideals preached in the scriptures.

One cannot attain Sravana-Bhakti without the company of saints or wise men. Mere reading for oneself is not of much use. Doubts will crop up. They cannot be solved by oneself easily. An experienced man is necessary to instruct the devotee in the right path.

King Parikshit attained Liberation through Sravana. He heard the glories of God from Suka Maharishi. His heart was purified. He attained the Abode of Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha. He became liberated and enjoyed the Supreme Bliss.

Kirtana is singing of Lord’s glories. The devotee is thrilled with Divine Emotion. He loses himself in the love of God. He gets horripilation in the body due to extreme love for God. He weeps in the middle when thinking of the glory of God. His voice becomes choked, and he flies into a state of Divine Bhava. The devotee is ever engaged in Japa of the Lord’s Name and in describing His glories to one and all. Wherever he goes he begins to sing and praise God. He requests all to join his Kirtana. He sings and dances in ecstasy. He makes others also dance.

Smarana is remembrance of the Lord at all times. This is unbroken memory of the Name and Form of the Lord. The mind does not think of any object of the world, but is ever engrossed in thinking of the glorious Lord alone. The mind meditates on what is heard about the glories of God and His virtues, Names, etc., and forgets even the body and contents itself in the remembrance of God, just as Dhruva or Prahlada did. Even Japa is only remembrance of God and comes under this category of Bhakti. Remembrance also includes hearing of stories pertaining to God at all times, talking of God, teaching to others what pertains to God, meditation on the attributes of God, etc. Remembrance has no particular time. God is to be remembered at all times without break, so long as one has got his consciousness intact.

Padasevana is serving the Lord’s Feet. Actually this can be done only by Lakshmi or Parvati. No mortal being has got the fortune to practice this method of Bhakti, for the Lord is not visible to the physical eyes. But it is possible to serve the image of God in idols and better still, taking the whole humanity as God. This is Padasevana. Padasevana is service of the sick. Padasevana is service of the whole humanity at large. The whole universe is only Virat-Swarupa. Service of the world is service of the Lord.

Archana is worship of the Lord. Worship can be done either through an image or a picture or even a mental form. The image should be one appealing to the mind of the worshipper.

Worship can be done either with external materials or merely through an internal Bhava or strong feeling. The latter one is an advanced form of worship which only men of purified intellect can do. The purpose of worship is to please the Lord, to purify the heart through surrender of the ego and love of God.

Vandana is prayer and prostration. Humble prostration touching the earth with the eight limbs of the body (Sashtanga-Namaskara), with faith and reverence, before a form of God, or prostration to all beings knowing them to be the forms of the One God, and getting absorbed in the Divine Love of the Lord is termed prostration to God or Vandana.

The ego or Ahamkara is effaced out completely through devout prayer and prostration to God. Divine grace descends upon the devotee and man becomes God.

Dasya Bhakti is the love of God through servant-sentiment. To serve God and carry out His wishes, realizing His virtues, nature, mystery and glory, considering oneself as a slave of God, the Supreme Master, is Dasya Bhakti.

Serving and worshipping the Murtis in temples, sweeping the temple premises, meditating on God and mentally serving Him like a slave, serving the saints and the sages, serving the devotees of God, serving poor and sick people who are forms of God, is also included in Dasya-Bhakti.

To follow the words of the scriptures, to act according to the injunctions of the Vedas, considering them to be direct words of God, is Dasya Bhakti. Association with and service of love-intoxicated devotees and service of those who have knowledge of God is Dasya Bhakti. The purpose behind Dasya Bhakti is to be ever with God in order to offer service to Him and win His Divine Grace and attain thereby immortality.

Sakhya-Bhava is the cultivation of the friend-sentiment with God. The inmates of the family of Nandagopa cultivated this Bhakti. Arjuna cultivated this kind of Bhakti towards Lord Krishna.

To be always with the Lord, to treat Him as one’s own dear relative or a friend belonging to one’s own family, to be in His company at all times, to love Him as one’s own self, is Sakhya-Bhava of Bhakti-Marga. How do friends, real friends, love in this world ? What an amount of love they possess between one another ? Such a love is developed towards God instead of towards man; physical love turned into spiritual love. There is a transformation of the mundane into the Eternal.

Atma-Nivedana is self-surrender. The devotee offers everything to God, including his body, mind and soul. He keeps nothing for himself. He loses even his own self. He has no personal and independent existence. He has given up his self for God. He has become part and parcel of God. God takes care of him and God treats him as Himself. Grief and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the devotee treats as gifts sent by God and does not attach himself to them. He considers himself as a puppet of God and an instrument in the hands of God.

This self-surrender is Absolute Love for God exclusively. There is nothing but God-consciousness in the devotee. Even against his own wishes, the devotee shall become one with God and lose his individuality. This is the law of being. The highest truth is Absoluteness and the soul rises above through different states of consciousness until it attains Absolute Perfection when it becomes identical with God. This is the culmination of all aspiration and love.

The nine modes of Bhakti are the ways in which a devotee attains the Supreme Ideal of life. A devotee can take up any of these paths and reach the highest state. The path of Bhakti is the easiest of all and is not very much against the nature of human inclinations. It slowly and gradually takes the individual to the Supreme without frustrating his human instincts. It is not direct assertion of God, but a progressive realization of Him.

Fruits of Bhakti

Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge. All cares, worries and anxieties, fears, mental torments and tribulations entirely vanish. The devotee is freed from the Samsaric wheel of births and deaths. He attains the immortal abode of everlasting peace, bliss and knowledge.

The fruits of Bhakti is Jnana. Jnana intensifies Bhakti. Even Jnanis like Sankara, Madhusudana and Suka Dev took to Bhakti after Realization to enjoy the sweetness of loving relationship with God.

Knowledge or wisdom will dawn by itself when you practice Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti is the pleasant, smooth, direct road to God. Bhakti is sweet in the beginning, sweet in the middle and sweet in the end. It gives the highest, undecaying bliss.

Kindle love divine in thy heart, for this is the immediate way to the Kingdom of God.

Pray to the Lord. Sing His glory. Recite His Name. Become a channel of His grace.

Seek His will. Do His will. Surrender to His will. You will become one with the cosmic will.

Surrender unto the Lord. He will become your charioteer on the field of life. He will drive your chariot well. You will reach the destination, the Abode of Immortal Bliss.

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Sankirtan Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

Sankirtan is the Svarupa (essential nature) of God. Dhvani is Sankirtan. Sankirtan is the essence of the Vedas. The four Vedas originate from sound. There are four kinds of sound, viz., Vaikhari (vocal), Madhyama (from the throat), Pasyanti (from the heart) and Para (from the navel). Sound originates from the navel. Vedas also originates from the navel. Sankirtan and Vedas are born from the same source.

People sit together and sing the names of the Lord with harmony and concord, and with Suddha or Divine Bhava (feeling). This is Sankirtan. Sankirtan is accompanied by the play of musical sounds as the word ‘San’ precedes ‘kirtan.’ Sankirtan is an exact science. It elevates the mind quickly and intensifies the Bhava or divine feeling to a maximum degree.

Nama and Nami are inseparable. Nama means Name (Name of God). Nami means ‘that which is denoted by the Nama or Name’. Nama is greater than the Nami. Even in worldly experience the man dies but his name is remembered for a long time. Kalidasa, Valmiki, Tulsidas, etc., are remembered even today. Nama is nothing but Chaitanya. Sankirtan is singing God’s name with Bhava, Prem or divine feeling.

Sankirtan Yoga is the easiest, quickest, safest, cheapest and best way for attaining God-realization in this age. People cannot practice severe austerities now-a-days. They do not have the strength of will to practice Hatha Yoga. They cannot maintain perfect life-long Brahmacharya. They do not have the prerequisites for Raja Yoga. They are not endowed with the keen intellect necessary for Jnana Yoga or Vedantic Sadhana. But this Sankirtan Yoga or the Yoga of Singing Lord’s Names is within the reach of all.

There is infinite Sakti or power in the Lord’s Names. It will remove all impurities from your mind. Vedantins say that there are three kinds of obstacles to Self-realization – Mala, Vikshepa and Avarana. To remove them they prescribe Nishkamya Karma (selfless service), Upasana (worship) and Vedantic Nididhyasana (intellectual enquiry). This Sankirtan alone can achieve all these together. Sankirtan removes the impurities of the mind (Mala); it steadies the mind and checks its tendency to vacillate (Vikshepa); and ultimately it tears the veil of ignorance too (Avarana), and brings the Sadhaka (aspirant) face to face with God.

Maya is so powerful that she deludes you every moment. Every moment she makes you feel that there is pleasure only in the sense-objects and nowhere else. You mistake pain for pleasure. This is the work of Maya. Beware. Remember Janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosha, – this world is full of the pains of birth, death, old age, disease and misery. There is no pleasure in these finite objects. Yo Vai Bhuma Tat Sukham. You can have Bliss in the Infinite alone. Sankirtan will enable you to realize this Infinite here and now. Sankirtan will save you from Maya, from delusion. Therefore sing the Names of the Lord always.

Let us, therefore, sing the Maha Mantra:

Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.

This is the great Mantra which is specially meant for the people of Kali Yuga (this modern age of destruction) . Narada went to Lord Brahma and said: “O Lord, the people of Kail Yuga will not be able to practice austerities, nor to perform the Yajnas (sacrifices), nor to pursue the path of Vedanta. Kindly have mercy on them and tell me some easy way by which they can attain God.” Lord Brahma in His Supreme Compassion and Mercy gave this Maha Mantra by repeating which people of the Kali Yuga will attain Self-realization. Therefore, sing the Lord’s Names; serve, love, give, meditate, realize; be good and do good (this is the essence of all scriptures); be kind and be compassionate; enquire “Who am I ?”, know the Self and be free. May God bless you all with health, long life, peace, prosperity and Eternal Bliss.

 

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Tantra Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

Sanskrit literature can be classified under six orthodox heads and four secular heads. They are: (i) Sruti, (ii) Smriti, (iii) Itihasa, (iv) Purana, (v) Agama, and (vi) Darsana; and (i) Subhashita, (ii) Kavya, (iii) Nataka and, (iv) Alankara.

The Agamas are theological treatises and practical manuals of divine worship. The Agamas include Tantras, Mantras, and Yantras. These are treatises explaining the external worship of God, in idols, temples, etc. All the Agamas treat of (i) Jnana or Knowledge, (ii) Yoga or concentration, (iii) Kriya or making, and (iv) Charya or doing. They also give elaborate details about the ontology, cosmology, liberation, devotion, meditation, philosophy of Mantras, mystic diagrams, charms and spells, temple-building, image-making, domestic observances, social rules, and public festivals.

The Agamas are divided into three sections: the Vaishnava, the Saiva, and the Sakta. The three chief sects of Hinduism, viz., Vaishnavism, Saivism, and Saktism, base their doctrines and dogmas on their respective Agamas. The Vaishnava Agamas or Pancharatra Agamas glorify God as Vishnu. The Saiva Agamas glorify God as Siva and have given rise to an important school of philosophy known as Saiva Siddhanta. The Sakta Agamas or Tantras glorify God as the Mother of the world under one of the many names of Devi. The Agamas do not derive their authority from the Vedas, but they are not antagonistic to them. They are all Vedic in spirit and character. That is the reason why they are regarded as authoritative.

The Tantra Agamas belong to the Sakta cult. They glorify Sakti as the World-Mother. They dwell on the Sakti (energy) aspect of God and prescribe numerous courses of ritualistic worship of Divine Mother in various forms. There are seventy-seven Agamas. These are very much like the Puranas in some respects. The texts are usually in the form of dialogues between Siva and Parvati. In some of these, Siva answers the questions put by Parvati and in others Parvati answers, Siva questioning. Mahanirvana, Kularnava, Kulasara, Prapanchasara, Tantraraja, Rudra Yamala, Brahma Yamala, Vishnu Yamala, and Todala Tantra are the important works. The Agamas teach several occult practices, some of which confer powers, while the others bestow knowledge and freedom. Among the existing books the Mahanirvana Tantra is the most famous.

Tantra Yoga

Tantra Yoga had been one of the potent powers for the spiritual regeneration of the Hindus. When practised by the ignorant, unenlightened, and unqualified persons, it has led to certain abuses; and there is no denying that some degraded forms of Saktism have sought nothing but magic, immorality, and occult powers. An example of the perverted expression of the truth, a travesty of the original practices, is the theory of the five Makaras (Pancha Makaras);-Madya or wine, Mamsa or flesh, Matsya or fish, Mudra or symbolical acts, and Maithuna or coition. The esoteric meaning of these five Makaras is: “Kill egoism, control flesh, drink the wine of God-intoxication, and have union with Lord Siva”.

Tantra explains (Tanoti) in great detail the knowledge concerning Tattva (Truth or Brahman) and Mantra (mystic syllables). It saves (Trayate). Hence it is called Tantra.

The Tantras are not books of sorcery, witchcraft, magic spells, and mysterious formulae. They are wonderful scriptures. All persons without the distinctions of caste, creed, or colour may draw inspiration from them and attain spiritual strength, wisdom, and eternal bliss. Mahanirvana and Kularnava Tantras are the important books in Tantra Sastra. Yoga Kundalini Upanishad of Krishna Yajurveda, Jabala Darsana, Trisikha Brahmana, and Varaha Upanishad are useful for getting knowledge of Kundalini Sakti and the methods to awaken it and take it to Sahasrara Chakra at the crown of the head.

The Tantra is, in some of its aspects, a secret doctrine. It is a Gupta Vidya. You cannot learn it from the study of books. You will have to get the knowledge and practice from the practical Tantrikas, the Tantric Acharyas and Gurus who hold the key to it. The Tantric student must be endowed with purity, faith, devotion, dedication to Guru, dispassion, humility, courage, cosmic love, truthfulness, non-covetousness, and contentment. Absence of these qualities in the practitioner means a gross abuse of Saktism.

The Sakti Tantra is Advaita Vada. It proclaims that Paramatman (Supreme Soul) and Jivatman (individual soul) are one. The Saktas accept the Vedas as the basic scriptures. They recognise the Sakta-Tantras as texts expounding the means to attain the goal set forth in the Vedas.

Tantra Yoga lays special emphasis on the development of the powers latent in the six Chakras, from Muladhara to Ajna. Kundalini Yoga actually belongs to Tantric Sadhana which gives a detailed description about this serpent-power and the Chakras (plexus). Entire Tantric Sadhana aims at awakening Kundalini, and making her to unite with Lord Sadasiva, in the Sahasrara Chakra. Methods adopted to achieve this end in Tantric Sadhana are Japa of the Name of the Mother, prayer, and various rituals.

 

Guru and Diksha (Initiation)

Yoga should be learnt from a Guru (spiritual preceptor). And this is true all the more in the case of Tantra Yoga. It is the Guru who will recognise the class to which the aspirant belongs and prescribe suitable Sadhana.

The Guru is none other than the Supreme Divine Mother Herself, descended into the world in order to elevate the aspirant. As one lamp is lit at the flame of another, so the divine Sakti consisting of Mantra is communicated from Guru to the disciple. The disciple fasts, observes Brahmacharya, and gets the Mantra from the Guru.

Initiation tears the veil of mystery and enables the disciple to grasp the hidden truth behind scriptures’ texts. These are generally veiled in mystic language. You cannot understand them by self-study. Self-study will only lead you to greater ignorance. The Guru only will give you, by Diksha (initiation), the right perspective in which to study the scriptures and practise Yoga.

 

Qualifications of a Disciple

The qualifications of the disciple are purity, faith, devotion, dispassion, truthfulness, and control of the senses. He should be intelligent and a believer in Vedas. He must abstain from injury to all beings. He must be vigilant, diligent, patient, and persevering. He must be ever doing good to all. All Sadhana should be done under the personal direction of a Guru or spiritual teacher.

 

Tantra Sadhana

Bhuta Suddhi is an important Tantric rite. It means purification of the five elements of which the body is composed. The Sadhaka (aspirant) dissolves the sinful body and makes a new divine body. He infuses into the body the life of the Devi.

Nyasa is a very important and powerful Tantric rite. It is placing of the tips of the fingers of the right hand on various parts of the body, accompanied by Mantra.

In Kavacha the one Brahman is invoked by different names in order to protect different parts of the body. For example, Parabrahman is thought of as in the Sahasrara Padma in the head. The Supreme Lord is meditated upon in the heart. Protector of the world, Vishnu is invoked to protect the throat, so that the aspirant may utter the Mantras of his Ishta Devata.

Mudra is ritual of manual gestures. Mudra gives pleasure to the Devatas. There are 108 Mudras. In welcoming (Avahana) the Devata an appropriate gesture is made. In making offering (Arghya) Matsya Mudra is made. The right hand is placed on the back of the left and the two thumbs are extended finlike on each side of the hands. Similarly, there are Mudras for the various acts done during the worship.

Yantra takes the place of the image. It is an object of worship. Yantra is a diagram, drawn on paper. It is engraved on a metal sheet also. A Yantra is appropriated to a specific Devata only. Various Yantras are peculiar to each Devata. They are various designs according to the object of worship. Yantra is the body of the Devata. All the Yantras have a common edging called Bhupura. They have a quadrangular figure with four doors, which encloses and separates the Yantra from the external world.

The Sadhaka first meditates upon the Devata or Deity and then arouses the Devata in himself. He then communicates the Divine presence thus aroused to the Yantra. When the Devata has been invoked into the Yantra by the appropriate Mantra, the vital airs (Prana) of the Devata are infused therein by the Pranapratishtha ceremony. The Devata is thereby installed in the Yantra. The materials used or acts done in Puja are called Upachara. They are sixteen in number, viz., (1) Asana (seating of the Devata); (2) Svagata (welcoming of the Devata); (3) Padya (water for washing the feet); (4) Arghya (water for ablution); (5) Achamana (water for sipping); (6) Madhuparka (honey, ghee, milk, and curd); (7) Snana (bath); (8) Vastra (cloth); (9) Abharana (jewels); (10) Gandha (perfume); (11) Pashpa (flowers); (12) Dhupa (incense); (13) Dipa (light); (14) Naivedya (food) and Tambulam (betel); (15) Nirajana (Arati); and (16) Vandana (prostration and prayer).

Sadhakas are of three kinds, viz., Pasu (animalistic), Vira (valorous), and Divya (divine).

 

The Pancha Tattva

The Pancha Tattva is essential for the worship of Sakti. The Pancha Tattvas are wine (Madya), meat (Mamsa), fish (Matsya), parched cereal (Mudra) and sexual union (Maithuna). As they all commence with the letter M, they are vulgarly called Pancha-ma-kara or five M’s. The Pancha Tattvas stand for drinking, eating and propagation. The Pancha Tattvas, the five elements of worship destroy great sins, Maha-pataka-nasanam.

The Pancha Tattvas have not always their literal meaning. The meaning differs according as they refer to the Tamasic (Pasu), Rajasic (Vira) or Sattvic (Divya) Sadhanas respectively.

Wine may be wine; or it may be coconut water or it may mean God-intoxication or the intoxicating knowledge of Brahman or the Absolute. Wine is a symbol to denote the Supreme, eternal Bliss of Yoga knowledge, or knowledge of Atman (Atma-jnana).

The union of Siva and Sakti in the upper brain centre known as Sahasrara or thousand-petalled lotus is Maithuna.

Mamsa (meat) is the act by which the aspirant consecrates all his actions to the Lord.

Matsya (fish) is that Sattvic knowledge by which the Sadhaka sympathises with the pleasure and pain of all beings.

Mudra is the act of abandoning all associations with evil which leads to bondage.

Wine is fire; flesh is air; fish is water; cereal is earth; sexual union is ether.

Milk, ghee, honey are all substitutes for wine. Salt, ginger, sesamum, white beans, garlic are substitutes for meat. White brinjal, red radish, masur (a kind of grain) and red sesamum are substitutes for fish. Paddy, rice, wheat and grain are Mudra. Offering of flowers with the hands formed with a particular Mudra is Maithuna.

The Sadhaka thinks that he has got a Deva body. This is Bhuta- Suddhi. Various Nyasas are performed. Mental worship is performed of the Devi who is thought of as being in red raiment seated on a red lotus. Her dark body is like rain-cloud. Her forehead is shining with the light of the crescent moon. Japa of Mantra is then done. Thereupon there is external worship.

Sexual intercourse by a man with a woman who is not lawful to him is a sin. The Vaidika Dharma is very strict on this point. It forbids not merely actual Maithuna but Ashtanga or eightfold Maithuna namely Smaranam (thinking upon it), Kirtanam (talking of it), Keli (play with women), Prekshanam (making eyes at women), Guhya-bhashanam (talking in private with women), Sankalpa (wish or resolve for sexual union), Adhyavasaya (determination towards it), Kriyanishpatti (actual accomplishment of the sexual act).

A Tantric can have copulation with his wife. He calls his wife his Sakti. Wife is a house-goddess Griha-lakshmi or Griha-devata united to her husband by the sacramental Samskara of marriage. She should not be regarded as an object of enjoyment. She is his partner in life (Ardhangini). The union of a man and his wife is a veritable sacred scriptural rite.

 

Conclusion

Tantra Yoga is the saving wisdom. It is the marvellous boat which takes man safely to the other shore of fearlessness, immortality, freedom, and perfection, when practised with understanding under personal guidance of well-established Tantric Guru

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