Nava Durga: The propulsive manifestations of Kundalini

I am a believer of the fact that there exist 9 energy centers or charkras in our body.

I was away for a month meditating, when I felt sudden jerks in my perinium and the whole body shuddered and jerked. There was a warm fuzzy feeling. The heartbeat spiked and it was scary. After a while there was sweet, initially metallic-tasting secretion from the soft palate in my mouth and my tongue auto curled backwards to dab at the secretions.

When the nine chakras are activated, there is an expansion of energy bilaterally stretching out to every extremity of the body.

The cosmic energy manifesting centrally through nine chakras and expressed through both the right and left parts of the human body, is like having 18 hands. The ferocity with which it surges, resembles a tiger, magnificent, powerful and terrifying.

That is Durga riding the tigress.

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The Significance of 108

In the Hindu-Buddhist civilizational sphere, the number 108 is among the most sacred and appears as the true or fictitious cardinal number of all manner of philosophical sets and religious series.  What makes this number so special? My friend, mentor Ramsai has done amazing research on this subject. The significance of 108

The Indian Subcontinent rosary or set of mantra counting has 108 beads. 108 has been a sacred number in the Indian Subcontinent for a very long time. This number is explained in many different ways.

The ancient Indians were excellent mathematicians and 108 may be the product of a precise mathematical operation (e.g. 1 power 1 x 2 power 2 x 3 power 3 = 108) which was thought to have special numerological significance.

Powers of 1, 2, and 3 in math: 1 to 1st power=1; 2 to 2nd power=4 (2×2); 3 to 3rd power=27 (3x3x3). 1x4x27=108

Sanskrit alphabet: There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.

Sri Yantra: On the Sri Yantra there are marmas where three lines intersect, and there are 54 such intersections. Each intersections has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti qualities. 54 x 2 equals 108. Thus, there are 108 points that define the Sri Yantra as well as the human body.

9 times 12: Both of these numbers have been said to have spiritual significance in many traditions. 9 times 12 is 108. Also, 1 plus 8 equals 9. That 9 times 12 equals 108.

Heart Chakra: The chakras are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. One of them, sushumna leads to the crown chakra, and is said to be the path to Self-realization.

Marmas: Marmas or marmastanas are like energy intersections called chakras, except have fewer energy lines converging to form them. There are said to be 108 marmas in the subtle body.

Time: Some say there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.

Astrology: There are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called namshas or chandrakalas. 9 times 12 equals 108. Chandra is moon, and kalas are the divisions within a whole.

Planets and Houses: In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.

Gopis of Krishna: In the Krishna tradition, there were said to be 108 gopis or maid servants of Krishna.

1, 0, and 8: 1 stands for God or higher Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.

Sun and Earth: The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.

Numerical scale: The 1 of 108, and the 8 of 108, when added together equals 9, which is the number of the numerical scale, i.e. 1, 2, 3 … 10, etc., where 0 is not a number.

Smaller divisions: The number 108 is divided, such as in half, third, quarter, or twelfth, so that some malas have 54, 36, 27, or 9 beads.

Islam: The number 108 is used in Islam to refer to God.

Jain: In the Jain religion, 108 are the combined virtues of five categories of holy ones, including 12, 8, 36, 25, and 27 virtues respectively.

Sikh: The Sikh tradition has a mala of 108 knots tied in a string of wool, rather than beads.

Chinese: The Chinese Buddhists and Taoists use a 108 bead mala, which is called su-chu, and has three dividing beads, so the mala is divided into three parts of 36 each.

Stages of the soul: Said that Atman, the human soul or center goes through 108 stages on the journey.

Meru: This is a larger bead, not part of the 108. It is not tied in the sequence of the other beads. It is the quiding bead, the one that marks the beginning and end of the mala.

Dance: There are 108 forms of dance in the Indian traditions.

Pythagorean: The nine is the limit of all numbers, all others existing and coming from the same. ie: 0 to 9 is all one needs to make up an infinite amount of numbers.

We have listed below 108 Upanishads as per the list contained in the Muktikopanishad . We have arranged them in four categories according to the particular Veda to which each of them belong.

Rigveda(10): Aitareya , Atmabodha, Kaushitaki, Mudgala, Nirvana, Nadabindu, Akshamaya, Tripura, Bahvruka, Saubhagyalakshmi.

Yajurveda(50): Katha, Taittiriya , Isavasya , Brihadaranyaka, Akshi, Ekakshara, Garbha, Prnagnihotra, Svetasvatara, Sariraka, Sukarahasya, Skanda, Sarvasara, Adhyatma, Niralamba, Paingala, Mantrika, Muktika, Subala, Avadhuta, Katharudra, Brahma, Jabala, Turiyatita, Paramahamsa, Bhikshuka, Yajnavalkya, Satyayani, Amrtanada, Amrtabindu, Kshurika, Tejobindu, Dhyanabindu, Brahmavidya, YogakundalinI, Yogatattva, Yogasikha, Varaha, Advayataraka, Trisikhibrahmana, mandalabrahmana, Hamsa, Kalisantaraaa, Narayana, Tarasara, Kalagnirudra, Dakshinamurti, Pancabrahma, Rudrahrdaya, SarasvatIrahasya.

SamaVeda(16): Kena, Chandogya, Mahat, Maitrayani, Vajrasuci, Savitri, Aruneya, Kundika, Maitreyi, Samnyasa, Jabaladarsana, Yogacudaman, Avyakta, Vasudevai, Jabali, Rudrakshajabala.

Atharvaveda(32): Prasna , Mandukya, Mundaka, Atma, Surya, Narada-Parivrajakas, Parabrahma, Paramahamsa-Parivrajakas, Pasupatha-Brahma, Mahavakya, Sandilya, Krishna, Garuda, Gopalatapani, Tripadavibhuti-mahnarayana, Dattatreya, Kaivalya, NrsimhatapanI, Ramatapani, Ramarahasya, HayagrIva, Atharvasikha, Atharvasira, Ganapati, Brhajjabala, Bhasmajabala, Sarabha, Annapurna, TripuratapanI, Devi, Bhavana, SIta.

The Significance of the number 108

We must agree that all measuring systems are merely reference frames. They give us a starting point. It doesn’t really matter if you call them farenheits or cycles. All science is based on fundamental assumptions of the mechanics of this universe. Yet, these assumptions, if correct, connect like building blocks.

Much in the same way, the number ‘108’ is just a reference frame. It is symbolic of a bigger picture: that of humility. When devotees recite 108 Hanuman Chalisas, in their minds they believe, they are proving their love for God, and that there is in fact a need to prove their love. When devotees assign a 108 names to Shri Ganesh, they are once again gauging their devotion through numbers. This, of course, may be considered unreasonable, since it suggests that 108 chants are more effective than 109 chants. How do they know this? Have they proved it? Is 108 the magic number of the universe? No, it is not! It is a reference frame. What is important is that a system is imposed to guide us through the fundamental struggles encountered in any evolutional process. Otherwise, chaos and anarchy follow and nothing gets done.

Having said that, I will show you justifications from a few subcultures in India. Obviously, I consider the Vedic rationale to be the most consistent with the fundamental laws of this universe. The others have borrowed and built, but it still smells of Vedic beginnings.

In present times, we can find many rationales for the proliferation of ‘108’ throughout our scriptures. In fact, this number seems to garner its unfair share of attention from myriad cults and faith systems around the world. I will give you a few justifications that have been brought to my attention.

JYOTISH SHASTRA {VEDIC SYSTEM} This universe was created by the five elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. From these elements came the three attributes: Raj {birth}, Sat {protection} and Tam {destruction or death.}

The mathematical or geographical evidence proves that one circle has 360 degrees in space. Why is this circle or wheel of life considered to be of 360 degrees only? If we take a circle and start dividing it using the four elements and three attributes, all the logic can be observed.

The circle itself, is considered the first element of space, since we must consume space in drawing a circle. In this space {or circle}, the four remaining elements and three attributes create the idea of time. The circle is divisible by the product of four elements multiplied by three attributes. This involves the belief that the three attributes exist in the circle. By moving three times, each element completes its revolution.

So now we have the number 12 {3 x 4}. This division gave birth to our 12 months, and also to the 12 horas {1/2 of the day or Ahoratri}. We now have 360 degrees as well as 12 divisions. We can now further divide the wheel of time: there are 27 fixed stars (nakshatras) along with three attributes that divide the time in smaller portions. So this 27 + 3 = 30 is interpreted as 30 degrees or days of one part of the wheel (circle) or month. All of this is only half of a day. The night is yet unaccounted for. Therefore, we multiply these 30 degrees by 2. This gives us our reference of 60 seconds in a minute.

Thus the 360º x 30º = 10,800. Zero {0} is considered ‘Purna’ or complete. So we take out the last zeros and are left with 108. The idea of our total universe is represented by this number of 108. Offering 108, devotees believe that they are showing ultimate or complete respect to the Supreme.

There are many other justifications but all can be traced back to this system. A few are explained below:

SHOSHU BUDDHIST

Followers use 108 beads in their malas. They implement the following formula: 6 x 3 x 2 x3 = 108

6 senses [sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought]

3 aspects of time [past, present, future]

2 condition of heart [pure or impure]

3 possibilties of sentiment [like, dislike, indifference]

BUDDHA’S FOOTPRINT

All Buddhists accept the Buddha Footprint with its 108 Auspicious Illustrations. These areas are considered to have been marked on the Buddha’s left foot when his body was discovered.

BUDDHISM

108 beads on the Hindu maalaa {rosary}

108 Arhats or Holy Ones

HINDUISM

108 Gopis {consorts} of Lord Krishna

108 Holy places for Vaishnavas 108 beads on the Japa maalaa {rosary}

108 Upanishads

108 Divyadeshes – Divine or Sacred Tirtha throughout India and Nepal

108 sacred water taps in Muktinath – Nepal

TANTRA SHASTRA

108 Pitha {Sacred Places}

The story goes that Lord Shiva was in deep and incessant meditation. His asceticism was creating great heat in the universe. All existence was in peril and Lord Brahma was deeply concerned. Lord Brahma asked the Mother of the Universe, Maa Shakti, to use Her strength and wile to seduce Lord Shiva. Maa Shakti agreed and was born as Sati, daughter of Shri Daksha. Lord Shiva was so entranced by Sati’s asceticism and extraordinary beauty that he took human form and they were married. Years later, at a feast, Sati’s father insulted Lord Shiva. Sati was so humiliated that she began a deep meditation which led to her immolation. Lord Shiva was completely heart broken. He reached into the sacrificial fire and pulled out as much of His beloved’s body as he could grab. As He ascended to heaven, bits of Sati’s body fell to earth. 108 bits to be precise! In time, these places were acknowledged and worshipped.

SANATANA DHARMA

In a book by Khurana, the explanation closely mirrors the original Vedic justifications: A circle has 360 degrees, which when multiplied by 60 gives us 21,600 minutes in a circle. 60 comes from the 60 ‘ghatis’ which Sanatana Dharmiks believe in. One ghati is equal to 24 minutes and 60 ghatis come to 24 hours.

One ghati is divided into 60 parts or ‘palas’.

So the 60 ghatis multiplied by 60 palasa comes to 3,600.

This is further multiplied by 60 (becase a pala contains 60 vipalas) which gives us 21,600.

Half of this is for the day, and the other half for the night. So, 21,600 divided by 2 gives us 10,800. For practical purposes, we use 108.

Using the number 108 helps us coordinate the rhythm of time and space & we remain in harmony with the spiritual powers of nature.

http://www.hknet.org.nz/108meaning.html

 

 

Which is the highest or best Yoga practice?

I love answering this question always and my answer, as always is, none. Yoga, is the end, not the means to achieve the end. Yoga is communion with the self. So whatever means suits you catches your attention, or strikes you as pragmatic and effective.

  • Ha tha Yoga
  • Kundalini Yoga
  • Sahaj Yoga
  • Kriya Yoga
  • SIddha Yoga
  • Tantra

among other instruments, to achieve this communion, are just instruments. Everything that we possibly need, is already there with us. Samkhya Cosmology maintains that there are 25 tattvas that manifest in this universe or creation. Incidentally (or not?), research shows that the human body contains 25 elements including some trace elements (not all) from the current periodic table, that play significant biological roles. Some may argue that there are 58 known elements or even all of them in our body. So be it.

The point here is, the human body is perhaps one of the most complex systems to have evolved. It encompasses the best known biological, chemical, electrical, magnetic and physical systems within it. It is not a wonder then, human beings are amongst the sentient species known. The human body is the best available tool, equipped with a powerful mind, to probe beyond the observable, to inquire the supernatural and to discover the metaphysical. Ultimately, to merge with the spiritual.

Anyways, I digress, coming back to which Yoga practice is the best; I would like to use the western movie analogy here. A cowboy who could draw fast, was the one who could shoot the others. He may or may not have the best hand gun in the world. His foes and contestants could even have rifles, cannons, shotguns. But, the gun was  and is as good as the hand that uses it. And, the hand is as fast as the mind that uses it. This was true, even when all shootists trained hard for precision and speed.

Similarly, in all yogic practices the body and the mind have to be trained. Scriptures, texts, tutelage, music, dance, entheogens, chanting, exercises and practice are all part of the training. This training is more to restructure the conditioning of the mind, to  be able to comprehend or accept that is inherent and within,  to better make sense of the day to outwardly experiences that we accumulate post birth.

Like the Oracle says to Neo in the Matrix, ” You have already made the choice! You are here to understand why you made it.”

There have been seers, religious revolutionaries like J. Krishnamurti who sought freedom from the Guru, the book, the tradition and the authoritarian voice of another. “Truth is within you”, he said, and to discover the truth in the luminous light of perception was to transform the very nature of thought and consciousness. It was to awaken intelligence, insight and abundant compassion. The total responsibility lies with the individual. No one, according to J.K. can free another.

Then there was, who I dare to call the nihilist yogi, U. G. Krishnamurti. He was an Indian thinker who questioned enlightenment. Although necessary for day to day functioning of the individual, in terms of the Ultimate Reality or Truth, he rejected the very basis of “thought” and in doing so negated all systems of thought and knowledge in reference to It.

“Tell them that there is nothing to understand.” he said.

Although many considered him an “enlightened” person, U.G. often referred to his state of being as the “natural state.” He claimed that the demand for enlightenment was the only thing standing in the way of enlightenment itself, if enlightenment existed at all. Incidentally, to clutch on to nirvana was also a desire and not a fool proof mechanism, as per the Buddha.

The legendary, Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, changed his religion several times to explore the ideology and philosophy behind each. Changing a religion for a Hindu was then and even today is a great taboo. Ramakrishna Paramahansa saw the mother goddess Kali in his wife and remained a celibate thereafter.

All said and done, all perceptions, ideas, beliefs and systems can be changed, broken, reused,  Religious doctrines, texts, philosophies, teachers, yogic systems all exist in abundance for men to extract what facilitates their quest and discard what they cannot. This does not imply, however, that we disrespect the means or belittle the efforts of others. Talking, listening, reading, following, imitating, meditating, self-enquiry, questioning, all are part of the process. Like a clay sculptor, who adds and removes clay as needed to sculpt, we must learn to imbibe and let go as need be. Adapt and Improvise.

Chakras DeMystified – Part 2 – Prana: The Universal Life Force

If ‘steadfast awareness or super subtle pure conscious’ is the quintessence that permeates everything in the observable universe and beyond, then Prana is its universal principle of energy or force. It is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe, all the forces in nature and powers which are hidden in men and which lie everywhere around us.

Swami Sivananda Saraswati says:

Prana is force, magnetism and electricity. Radio waves travel through prana. That which moves the steam engine of a train and a steamer, which causes the motion of breath in lungs, that which is the very life of this breath itself, is prana. It is prana that pumps the blood from the heart into the arteries or blood vessels. Through prana digestion, excretion and secretion take place. Prana digests the food, turns it into chyle and blood, and sends it into the brain and mind. The mind is then able to think and enquire into the nature of Brahman.

Prana is the link between the astral and physical body. When the slender thread-link of prana is cut, the astral body separates from the physical body. Death takes place. The prana that was working in the physical body is withdrawn into the astral body.

How is Prana related to the Chakras?

In the pranic body, prana flows through nadis, energy channels, and is stored in chakras, energy vortices. According to some researchers, the electromagnetic energy in prana gives rise to radiation in which the waves of electric energy and magnetic energy are at ninety degrees to each other, resulting in what looks like a spiral. Indeed, the spiral radiation structure around chakras has been seen, described and drawn by sages and savants from all parts of the world at different times.
At the pranic level, in their initial stages the practices of pranayama clear up the nadis, energy pathways in the body. The scriptures say there are over 72,000 nadis or pathways of prana in the pranic body and six main chakras. However, in the average individual, many of these pathways are blocked and the chakras release energy only partially. In other words, we do not utilize our full potential in terms of energy, mind and consciousness. The negative conditions we experience, whether physical or mental, are the cause as well as the consequence of the blockages. The state of our nadis and chakras are defined by our samskaras, conditionings carried in seed form, as well as purushartha, self-effort and anugraha, grace. When these pathways of energy are gradually freed so that prana moves through them smoothly.


Chakras DeMystified – Part 1

Most people practicing Yoga would say that there are 6 chakras. Certain sects believe there are 7 chakras. Dr. Svoboda in his conversations with his mentor Vimalananda, reveals that an aghori knows of 9 chakras. Some specific Shiva Yoga practitioners believe there are 22 chakras, 6 within the body and the other 16 situated outside the human body and ascending upwards above the head.

Some deep mystics, claim there are all in all 24 chakras, that correspond to 23 tattvas and one mahattatva out of which the divine purusha and the universes manifested. These 24 chakras, also correspond to the 24 syllables in the sacred Gayatri Mantra.

However, without getting into much debate into the number of chakras, let us try to demystify the chakras.

What are Chakras?

I love Svoboda’s text on this subject, in his conversations with Sri Vimalananda. So, I am going to quote him directly.


Nadis and Chakras (Kundalini: Aghora 2, 83)

Arthur Avalon comments that:

” … from an objective standpoint, the subtle centers or Cakras, vitalize and control, the gross bodily tracts which are indicated by the various regions and vertebral column and the ganglia, plexuses, nerves, arteries and organs, situate in these regions. It is only therefore (if at all) in the sense of being the gross outer representatives of the spinal centers that we connect the plexuses with the Cakras spoken of in Yoga books. In this sense, only the whole tract which extends from the subtle center to the periphery, with its corresponding bodily elements, may be regarded as a Cakra. (The Serpent Power, pp 161-2)

The chakras are the knots that bind ahamkara into self-indentification with the substances that make up the universe. Each of the lower five chakras is the place where ahamkara and one of the Elements meet and interact; the chakra plugs ahamkara into the frequency of that Element, in effect broadcasting that Element into the organisms consciousness.


My oversimplification:
The Elements that Vimalananda refers to are the metaphysical elements or natural elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space or Ether.

Have you seen those pajamas for babies, the jumpers or body suits which have press buttons or studs? These press buttons run down from the neck all the way between the legs. When we open these press studs, we can remove the baby out completely of the pajamas. Now imagine if the baby is our soul and the pajamas is our flesh, bones, blood and the garb (our skin). Imagine the studs are invisible high energy wheels, revolving and keeping the soul attached to the garb. With the right kind of pressure, these chakras open and free the soul. That is how chakras work.

SiddhaSiddhanta

– H H Shri Shailendra Sharma JiExcerpt from http://www.siddhasiddhanta.comThe word Yoga is now a household name. It indicates towards that mystic practice, which awakens the dormant consciousness of mind and develops it beyond the physical limitations. The Yogi realizes the infinite and omnipotent nature of mind and comes to know the secrets of life and death. The fear of death vanishes after realizing the secrets and Yogi sees, face to face, four armed human form of Lord Vasudev who resides in every living being’s heart as the essence of Prana, the life force. After seeing Lord Krishna or Vishnu face to face, the knot in the heart is pierced, all his doubts vanish and the Yogi attains lasting peace. However, the practice of Yoga does not end here. It becomes even more rigorous and hard. After seeing the Lord Vasudev face to face, the Yogi goes even higher and he starts the most difficult practice of all – to know the essence of Vasudev – the Time, as the embodiment of Lord Shiva. After going through the most difficult practice with all his might, with the help of his Guru and by the grace of Lord Vasudev, he realizes his essential universal form – the Light of all Lights, the great effulgence of Time – Shiva and becomes liberated and one with the Time.