Announcing Journal of a Yogin

Kali’s Brood is proud to announce an online journal for a practising/aspiring Yogin, titled “Journal of a Yogin”..well obviously right.

For those following us, the last few years has been decisive in a specific sense. All that was indicated and held as potentialities have begun to manifest. Many assumptions have been validated, many thrown out as irrelevant to the pursuit of Yoga and the Divine.

The current site remains, and will continue to share material on spirituality and Hinduism. For those who are serious and who wish to exceed the little ken, we have this journal.

We wrote the following on our about section on Medium.

Journal of a Yogin enumerates methods, approaches, paths and different practices of Yoga as found in the ancient Vedic tradition, and in the modern times perfected by the teachings of Sri Aurobindo.

That says everything we wish to say. Please visit us.

Some visuals from Journal of a Yogin on Medium.

Kali’s Brood is now on Medium!

Kali’s Brood is now on Medium!

We are excited to be growing from a new basis, both inner and outer. A new resolve and impulse has propelled us to the next stage in Yoga and we wanted to share all that we have learnt along the way.

We wrote the following on our about section on Medium.

Kali’s Brood is an earnest attempt at reviving the sense of Yoga as understood & practised by the Vedic Seers, and in the modern times by Sri Aurobindo, and through that the manifestation of the Divine potentialities in all of us.

That says everything we wish to say. Please visit us. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter too, from the homepage on this site.

Some visuals from Kali’s Brood on Medium.

Nature, Morals and Spirituality

Wolves change an entire ecosystem. Apart from the interconnectedness of things, this gave rise to thoughts related to morals and spirituality. See the video first. And then perhaps my 2cents.

Nature and Morals

Nature does not do morals. In Her universal economy violence has as much value as compassion. Man considers himself superior to the animal, perhaps it is true when compared from one man to one animal, especially seen from each of their highest capabilities. But when viewed in context of their environment, the animal is so clearly superior in its individual and collective action. Man, with his divisive mind, is a creature of conflict. Man is torment both in isolation and in the collective. He is perfectly capable of perceiving subtle differences, and also capable of conjuring differences where none exist. And for example one has only to see how the non-East regions of this world, in its non-scientific modes of thought, views other societies and cultures.

Morals and Spirituality

True spirituality, once it transcends mere theory and hearsay, and ventures into seeing and experience acknowledges the utility of suffering and hardships. These lesser modes of Life are conventionally viewed as expressions of Ignorance or the Devil but once we have crossed the stormy oceans and reached the shores of certitude we realize the storms have made us more than what we were at the start of the journey. The shore comforts but our gratitude goes to the storm for strengthening our resolve and giving birth to endurance we did not posses before.

The Eastern religions in their profoundest moments venerate the Divine as Destroyer and the Terrible. The aspect of benevolence, the Friend of Man, and the Divine Beloved all exist. But we acknowledge too the Fierce and the Wrathful. For Nature is both benevolent and violent in her moods. And pursuing these trails within ourselves we find the Power that contains every mask that lures, deceives and bewitches us. Kali is our Mother too, as is Durga. All that is transient and of a lesser perfection is effaced by an unerring and benevolent violence. Kali wipes the slate clean. Painful but necessary.

Any contrarian views?

On Moksha and Nirvana

Is the Hindu Moksha the same as Buddha’s Nirvana? This was a question on Quora and my response is below.

Released

From a conceptual viewpoint Moksha and Nirvana are the same. Both are around breaking fetters of the senses to release individual Atman from the snare of Illusion. But there are key differences and am going to outline then briefly.

Before I state this point to be noted is that Buddhism did not evolve in isolation, it grew from the rockbed of Hinduism as a recoil from the ritualism sans insight theme that existed at that time. And after the outflowering of the Shakya Sage, there was a fresh light thrown that replenished inquiry into the human condition, leading to fruitful enrichment of Hinduism and Buddhism both.

Now to the brief outline. Nirvana in its essence moves towards the cessation of individual existence. All is annulled so that the wrinkle of suffering and pain may be removed from this fabric of life.

Silence is all?

Where Nirvana as a goal falls short in my view is this. Life is seen as a battleground, with Maya as antagonist pitting the child-soul against Her stupendous machinery. The child-soul grows in inner clarity by not falling for the snare of the senses. But that clarity that eases the mind and our higher faculties does not fully satisfy. The Silence is seen, the Unreality of the Many is perceived. Yet the heart is vacant, the powers of life wither away with that trenchant insistence on an escape to Nirvana. We live so that we may escape. And even that life is as an exile, a heart beats but the sap of existence is denied to us.

Many Roads to Self

Moksha, does not have the precise, or some would say narrow, definition that the Buddhist path of Nirvana has. Hinduism allows for many alternative modes in which the Soul may escape the fetters of Illusion. Moksha as a notion broadly clubs these  for convenience. Moksha’s approach to release from suffering accounts for the varieties of human consciousness. The lover finds his roads are peopled with the manifestations of his Divine Beloved and the eventual oneness is attained. The worker uses the tools of his trade to manifest some of his Deity’s perfection, power and beauty and eventually find release into the Deity’s Being. The thinker charges through the modes of consciousness with his bright intuitions and finds the light that illumines all existence to be the same as that which eggs him on, thus releasing himself from the mighty snare. And so with other modes of approach.

Journey makes us

Why this emphasis on approach when the question itself was around the end goal? Well, one finds the Silence to not be a mere negation of our perceived multiplicity. There is in It all diversity of seen and unseen hidden away, all the play of opposites together, all that which lures and repells, all is in It. The path through which the seeker approaches his Goal has colored His Goal. The Void and Silence are lonely no more. The lover, toiler, thinker and the occultist find their at times opposing views all resolved into a transcendent unity that reconciles Form and Formless, Time and Timeless, One and Many…all in a single view.

Much of this might be moot dependent on the state of consciousness one has attained. As the Buddha says, best is find this out for oneself through experience and until then only hold these as possibilities available to our aspiring self.

Painting by Priti Ghosh

Map of Emotions and Chakras

I came across this interesting map of emotions via FlowingData.

Body-maps

Now see how Patanjali’s Chakras aligns with above heat maps.

kundalini-chakras

 My favourites are how Depression completely “switches off” activity in all chakras! Or how Happiness literally lights up the whole being, in fact even better than being in a state of Love!

Also, the similarity between states of Anger and Pride are interesting. And check how Anger makes the arms glow. Fascinating!

Dance of Shiva

shiva_nataraja

Dance of Shiva is not mere artistic rendition of a mental idea. It is the articulation of a spiritual experience, a clear perception of how one same consciousness wears its many masks of creator, preserver and destroyer. My two cents on this aspect of Shiva.

Sri Krishna says in the Gita, that one cannot help but act. Even the Rishi in his meditative immobility acts, blood courses through his veins, there is a being to sustain and keep alive…within him are the other sheaths of being that support the outer form…all these have to work.

Sri Krishna continues to say that even He the Divine manifest as Avatar for the Age has to act. Without his tendency to act there would be chaos and dissolution. Or perhaps just nothing.

That principle of constant activity, regeneration, destruction is ever present. The immobile stone is but the temporary decision of a group of atoms to hang in there for a while. When they meet their brother sculptor, upon the insistence of his chisel-will they morph into a statue. Where there was irregular block of atoms before, there is now a form of grace and beauty..worthy of adoration, perhaps even prayer.

This principle of making, unmaking and making again is what one sees in the inner experience.

The Dance of Shiva is the amplified version of this experience. His very descent is violent, filled with the immensity of Power. To give an idea of how stupendous this experience must have been, He is the only one of whom even the Vedic Rishis were afraid, “Pity us, O Rudra!”, they cried.

In the Dance of Shiva, it is not the static principle of the Divine one perceives. This is not the Silence of a Samadhi state, not the Void of Nirvana. This is vision of the Divine in all His kinetic glory. Not a snapshot, but a continuous perception of the dynamism of existence.

Thoughts on Sri Krishna’s Revelation of Universal Form

Sri_Krishna_Vision

Let us leave aside the assumption around Krishna’s identity..you could choose whatever works for you..whether as a King, manipulative schemer, beloved of gopis, as Avatar or anything else. The Vishwaroopam, the vision of the Infinite and Immanent Godhead is infinitely more interesting.

Let us remind ourselves of the context again. The hero of that age, Arjuna, has this crisis of conscience. The stark reality of war is in front of him. All the ills that befell him, his family and clan are forgotten. The brutality of what is going to begin makes his moral being shrink in repulsion. He is not afraid, this is his moral being shrinking from the carnage that is about to begin.

In response to this shrinking, Sri Krishna has expounded the larger basis of action, of morality, of spirituality, of how individual action and living can be perfected, of how laws of conduct can be gradually widened in scope to make every thought and action align with standards of living that transcend time bound social contracts into a veritable prayer. To make the individual see his role in the larger context of the Divine Lila, in the play of the Cosmos.

Sri Krishna has expounded the approaches to the Divine, of the ways of conduct that would assure ones entry into the borders of Heaven, to escape the cycle of Samsara and Maya. He has shared his view of the Sankhya path, the Purusha – Prakriti dance that makes up common life, ethical conduct, how individual Dharma coexists with Universal Dharma, how motive of action has more relevance than the action itself, of the role of ritualism, on how ritualism can be transmuted into an inner sacrifice to the Immanent Divine rather than the offering of material things. He has reiterated the various Yogas by which one can attain the Divine, he has reconciled and synthesized these approaches into one that is wide, all-encompassing and complete.

The human disciple who has received this knowledge is already familiar with the hundred roads using which one can approach the Divine. His mind sees how this tangle has been unified into a complex harmony. He realizes the one in front, his Charioteer in this field of battle, is someone not entirely known to him. Sri Krishna senses in his dear friend a mind at relative ease, but not the heart. Knowledge has been imparted but not the experience.

The unity of all existence, the play of Maya are all but theoretical constructs as yet. Arjuna is no trained Yogi, there is yet a patina of doubt that lives when knowledge has not yet become experience.

“Now”, Sri Krishna declares, “I shall show you my universal form, the one to which even the best Yogis aspire to. Because you are dear to me, I shall give you the Yogic sight, by which you shall see my energy in all its forms and manifestations.”

There is nothing symbolic in this. This is an experience. One that can be had by you and I too. The vision of the Universal Godhead. All its diverse manifestations, all its complex inter dependencies. One vision, one perspective too, of this all pervading Godhead and Power removes the illusion of separation. It destroys doubt, it is the certitude of the Godhead, the confirmation of our bright intuitions. We see ourselves surrounded, not with our eyes but an inner perception. We find ourselves as a speck, surrounded on every direction and dimension at the same time. All dimensions open up. We see that there is a Love, a Power than transcends our mind and being. There is a Beloved who watches and broods over us. That experience is the fruit for which we toil over many lives. All our perambulations through time has led us to this moment. And now we see we have looked in vain for the thing that is within us, and that is us too. All that exists is the Brahman. All is That. Nothing exists apart from It.

This is a qualitatively similar experience that Sri Ramakrishna Parahamsa imparts to a doubting Narendra, our later Swami Vivekananda about the nature of Time and Cosmos. The experience that Fritjof Capra has, as recounted in his preface to Tao of Physics, of seeing all reality as a dance of atoms, of the fact that everything is woven from a single fabric is similar to this. The experience of Sri Aurobindo, when imprisoned by the British, where he saw the jail walls, the jailer, the prisoners..even the bars that were holding him in as Vasudeva is similar to this.

There is nothing symbolic in this. Aspiration and/or the grace of a Guru can give this experience. Doubts vanish to one who has had this experience of the Universal form of the Divine. The unassailable poise of the Buddha, the acceptance of calamity with surrender, the ecstatic poetry of Annamayya, Chaitanya, Meera, Andal..all come from this experience in any of its infinite varieties.

Note: This was my answer to a question on Quora. Have posted it here after some editing.

The Names of the Mahabharata

While reading the Upanishads and Vedas, the thing that strikes you first are the names of Rishis and the Seekers of Knowledge. Vamadeva, Viswamitra, Angirasa, Bhrigu and more. Leave alone understanding of mantras, the very mention of these names seem to wake some primordial impulse to Truth and Godhood. So it should be, since to the Rishi every God, every named power, could be invoked and meditated upon until they manifested in him in all their power. So it is my idea to dwell on these ancient names to perhaps draw something, worth the try I would think.

So it struck me, what of works that I seem to know, what names lurk in there, what powers or qualities do other names hold for the eager seeker? So I picked the Mahabharata, specifically the version available at Project Gutenberg, translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli from the original Sanskrit of Krishna Dwaipanya Vyasa. With some help from Python, NLTK and writing a basic entity recognition algo I managed to extract all the names from the english text of Ganguli. That done, I fed them into the excellent WordCloud in Python tutorial code by Andreas Mueller. And just like that they came out..the heroes, villains, gods, demi-gods..all of them 🙂

So without further ado, let me humbly offer this tiny fruit of my labour for your curiosity and pleasure. Note that each image links to high resolution versions (1200 x 900).

Adi Parva

Mahabharata Adiparva

Sabha Parva

Mahabharata Sabhaparva

Vana Parva 1

Mahabharata Vanaparva1

Vana Parva 2

Mahabharata Vanaparva 2

Virata Parva

Mahabharata Virataparva

 

Go ahead download and see how many names are familiar to you. It is interesting how mentions of characters varies as the plot progresses. Vaisampayana is the narrator, hence the number of mentions. Arjuna establishes himself as key at the start and the end. In the middle sections Yudhisthira plays a bigger role and so on.

If there is interest I can release my code that did the basic entity recognition with some help from NLTK. In addition I also plan to put out a clickable version of this word cloud, so that curious folks can head to Wikipedia directly.

Let me know if this sort of analysis and visualization on Hindu scriptures and epics seems interesting to you.

Technical Notes:

The size of the image is based on the frequency of mentions in the text and normalized for overall word count. The top 200 names have been pulled out. As you can see the entity recognition could be a lot better. The list of left out names are much larger, I need to try another route to present all of them.

Credits to Python community, the awesome natural language processing library NLTK and Andreas Mueller for enabling this, would not have been possible otherwise.

Swami Vivekananda on Conversions

Brief quote from a biography of Swami Vivekananda.

There were on the boat, among other passengers, two Christian missionaries who, in the course of a heated discussion with the Swami, lost their tempers and savagely criticized the Hindu religion. The Swami walked to one of them, seized him by the collar, and said menacingly, ‘If you abuse my religion again, I will throw you overboard.’

‘Let me go, sir,’ the frightened missionary apologized; ‘I’ll never do it again.’

Later, in the course of a conversation with a disciple in Calcutta, he asked, ‘What would you do if someone insulted your mother?’ The disciple answered, ‘I would fall upon him, sir, and teach him a good lesson.’

‘Bravo!’ said the Swami. ‘Now, if you had the same positive feeling for your religion, your true mother, you could never see any Hindu brother converted to Christianity. Yet you see this occurring every day, and you are quite indifferent. Where is your faith? Where is your patriotism? Every day Christian missionaries abuse Hinduism to your face, and yet how many are there amongst you whose blood boils with righteous indignation and who will stand up in its defense?’

Swami Vivekananda’s love for Bharath and its people should not be under dispute from any patriotic person regardless of current religious affiliation. It would serve us well to think why he thought conversions were bad and how he advocated holding our faith.

Read the biography. Perhaps our dormant faith and energy would wake up.

Appeal: History Repeats in Assam

What happened to Bharath many times before is happening again.

Another country or thought system or religion is after us once more. Over 2,00,000 of our citizens have been displaced.

Imagine if it were to happen in our location; say Karnataka or Tamil Nadu or Gujarath or Maharashtra or Uttar Pradesh or Andhra Pradesh.

If foreigners had kicked me from my home then I could not have blogged and you could not have read this. Our families would have no home, no belongings, no money…nothing. Our children would have no future.

We would be like political refugees that we have read about in papers. We would know what Kashmiri Pandits felt like, what Red Indians felt like, or Incas felt when decimated, or thrown out, from their own land.

For now, for just a little while let us forget our differences. You and I can still hate each other eternally, for now let us lend a hand to our brothers and sisters.

You will have the eternal gratitude of all who love Bharath. If nothing you will have done the right thing for another human being, that should help for now and hereafter.

Param Foundation, associated with Seva Bharathi, is lending a hand on our behalf in Assam. I donated some money and got update below from them:

Present Activities by Seva Bharathi and condition in Assam:

  • Seva Bharathi has set up 3 base camps for medical relief exercise.
  • 2 in Kokrajhar and 1 in Gossaigaon.
  • They have pressed 2 ambulances and two teams of doctors and helpers at these camps
  • Medicines are being given at these camps for contagious and water borne diseases.
  • Relief materials which are of immediate importance are being provided in these camps now.
  • Mosquito coils, bread, biscuits, bed sheets were distributed.
  • They expect that people will stay in relief camps for at least 20 days to a month as many areas are still under grip of violence
  • Curfew has been lifted only in few parts of Kokrajhar and Gossaigaon where violence has abated.
  • There are other areas and districts where violence is still happening and curfew is still in vogue. (Seva activities cannot reach them now)

You can make a difference now by donating any amount to Param Foundation or similar organizations. Details of Param Foundation is below:

Savings Account name:        Param Foundation

Account number:                  910010021117832

Bank:                                     Axis bank, Chamarajpet branch, Bangalore

IFSC Code:                           UTIB0000558

Note: 80G receipts are available for the donors. Please send an email to info@paramfoundation.org with the address, email and telephone number of the donor. Receipts will be sent through the courier.

Contact: Radhakrishna Holla 09731264009