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.

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.

Yoga of Self-Organization

Prelude

Yoga is a joining of the individual self to the immanent yet all-pervading Divine. Why Yoga? For those who have felt the ache of the call, there is no need for an answer. For those yet to hear the call, know that riches of consciousness and harmony of existence that elude you now will become your natural state through Yoga.

Start of Yoga

If you adhere yourself to a certain rhythm and discipline, you will see a great change. Let us say that all our routine could be subject to this rhythmic inner movement and to a discipline still subject to the inner law. But this is not for the so called intellectual types with big egos. This is for those who are willing to serve the Divine and live for a divine purpose.

Discipline

There are many types of discipline; physical, vital and mental discipline but the one that we need most is a psychic discipline. It is a flowing spontaneity of action out of the inner Spirit, something natural and tremendously simple in manifestation without any artificial mental colours and intellectual deformities (which we call our natural traits!) and is possessed of the Divine Truth.

Method

We have to open ourselves to this inner Psychic Consciousness and organise all our activities around it, all that we do normally in our day-to-day life like reading or writing, work, conversation or even sleep. All must be gathered in a single great movement of aspiration towards the Divine. That’s how you begin into the path of integral yoga.

Inner or Outer

It is the inner conquest that is more difficult than the outer achievement. You may have progressed materially, built your career and even made a name for yourself in your own little world but a man without his spiritual consciousness at the front is more or less a neatly decorated carrion without any life in it. It is by the inner law that all external life must be governed or else your life will be subject to the play of forces and your soul will remain hidden from you and the true splendours of life along with it.

Hour of Light

In a word, to give ourselves in true self-giving to God and to nothing else and through Him possess the world for the sheer delight of existence. It is the hour of light, as we might call it, which has come to the our aid and we must welcome it with all our sincerity and truthfulness.

What Supports the Bhaktha and his Yoga?

The heart is another country. Especially so for the bhaktha, he who has set foot on the path of devotion.

Bhaktha and the Beloved

To the bhaktha, a lover of God, there is a sense of otherness, much like mortal love perhaps but here there is no hankering for a time-born being, no disturbance of the senses, no propensity to debase oneself by indulging in sensual gratification. Often the bhaktha faces downturns, old impulses return to claim their ancestral place, and they protest with vigor and vehemence. But to one whose inner being has woken up in however little a measure and tasted the unmixed delight of Divine intoxication, there can be no lasting fall..there is only a delay until the ultimate embrace with the Divine Beloved.

But until that final embrace occurs there are glimpses, whether frequent or rare, brief glimpses of the Divine. Like milestones strewn around on a highway, these markers arrive to provide solace to the soul on its long-winded journey. They arrive in a multitude of shapes, forms and ways. If there is any method at all, then it is one based on His infinite freedom and our ability to receive it.

A Curious Phenomena

All these little moments/events share a specific character in that they occur anywhere and everywhere. It seems as if they have no limitation of time or space or form. The Rishis and God Lovers of the Hindu tradition had observed the nature of this peculiar Power and Phenomena minutely.

The Rishi’s Habit

What the Rishi observed within or without, he named it. He knew that a Power or Phenomena when named, could be spoken about, could be meditated upon, could be invoked and even made manifest within an individual’s consciousness. This is what they did, the Heroes of the Hindu tradition. They watched and watched with eyes, ears and every sense available. When they reached the limit of the senses, they observed the instrument that observed, the mind. When the chaos of mind was stilled, they found even rarer phenomena. This climb, this reaching out to hidden territory, this journey and adventure within they named Yoga.

Alone and Not Alone

The Rishis found themselves, not unlike the scientist who peers into atoms and builds his models of String Theory or Quantum Physics and who is baffled by the inability of common untrained men to understand them, alone in their pursuit of the Unknown. Even in the crowd the God Lover, the Rishi, is alone. But even in this solitude amidst sense-driven men, the Rishi observed something that always was with him. That could wake up at the most common moments and let him know he was not alone, that the goal of his journeys was always nearby.

The Ever Present Guide

The Hindus had to name this phenomena. What was it that was everywhere? What stayed with them in waking and in dream? What climbed the soul’s stairs into rarer and rarer heights along with them? The name had to be personal, after all this was the Guide who ventured with them into territories no map could capture. And it had to describe the idea that the Phenomena was everywhere. To the Rishi, to name something was automatic..the Power they wanted to name always suggested what it aught to be called.

Sarvavyapi, they ended up calling this Phenomena. Sarva-vyapi, or Sarva-Vyaapi as its pronounced in Sanskrit. Sarva is ‘everything’. Vyaapi is ‘one who pervades’. Put together Sarvavyaapi is “One who pervades everything”.

The Sterile Heaven of Icarus

The nearest western equivalent would be Omnipresent. As with most things spiritual, the western heart had yet to soar into heights of bhakthi yoga. Icarus who tried to soar heavenward was made into a parable to not have men aspire too high. The Tower of Babel was struck because men aspired to heavens. The West was content to abandon ancient freedoms of the Greek spirit for something new. And the word Omnipresent, so remote and sterile.

Swaha

Sarvavyaapi, One who pervades everything. Sarvavyaapi pervades you and I, pervades all that is manifest whether perceived by us or not. May that Sarvavyaapi guide us, as He guided the Rishis of the Veda.

Vedas, Upanishads and Us

Vedas and Creation rescued by Varaha

Our retelling of an episode from the Kenopanishad, raised a query on why we dipped into so remote a past of the Hindu tradition, what these works are and what we aim to accomplish by it.

Vedas

The Vedas constitute the bedrock of Hindu thought, culture and living. Every small and mighty edifice of this ancient race is infused through and through with the roar of victory voiced by Rishis more ancient than known history. Vedas were man’s first and perhaps the most profound attempt at Immortality. As with works of posterity whose origins and motivations are a mystery to the brief memory of men, there is a great cloud of ignorance that surrounds popular perception of the Veda. Like the proverbial blind trying to cognize an Elephant, each brings the limitations of his perception to interpreting and understanding the Veda. Add to it people whose goal in life was to show up the Hindu race as uncultured, because Hindus do not follow their particular strain of barbarism and you have a perfect storm of ignorance that makes any objective understanding of the Veda impossible.

Ambition Deficit

Part of the blame would have to lie with Hindus themselves, who due to ignorance, lack of courage and no great ambition kept the Veda on so high a pedestal as to keep it out of reach to the common man. The understanding of the Veda does not have to be via 2nd and 3rd hand translations, transcriptions, commentary and so on. We could reach out to the Veda indirectly via a simple Google search or go the direct route by aspiring to the immanent Divine. Both can act as catalysts to churn our consciousness and give birth to powers and potentialities that are unmistakably part of us, yet add immeasurably more than what we can imagine. This process of churning takes a moment or many lifetimes, depending on the intensity and purity of purpose we bring with our aspiration.

Upanishads

What about the Upanishads then? Well, the Upanishads constitute a later development that built upon the Veda. While the Veda is a mass of intuitions, a collective roadmap to immortality as discovered by the ancient Rishis. In contrast the Upanishads were the intuitions chopped and packed into neat parcels of logic that the reasoning mind would understand. The Veda was poetry of the spirit, the Vedic Rishis travelled as the Gods on their cars of intuition, while the Upanishadic Rishis chose reason as their vehicle to explore trails of consciousness.

Rishis and Seers

We know little of the Vedic & Upanishadic Rishis, apart from what was built around their names in the Puranas and Itihasas. The actual names have come down to us though- Angiras, Bharadwaj, Kanva, Vasishtha, Vishwamitra, Atri, Bhrigu, Kashyapa, Grtsamada, Agastya, Bharata. At times, when the passions of our trivial lives are quelled we hear these names echoing through our being. Each name marking an emperor of the spirit. Each name an adventure of the soul into immortal realms. Each name the reminder of a victory won through the luminous heavens of our being. Each Rishi a guide and preceptor to the aspiring soul of us.

Authorship

The Rishis did not consider themselves authors of the mantras they wrote, they were merely agents, transcribers who had the inner realizations and sang of it in verse. As such they are the undiluted essence of a particular experience. Hence the Veda is called Shruti, that which is heard. It was Sri Aurobindo who in modern times recovered and relived the essence of the Veda, as did the Varaha avatar to save earth from destruction by Hiranyaksha.

How to read Vedas and Upanishads

One has but to read these works. Not with the modern infantile mind that expects all to be given on a platter. The Veda and Upanishad demand a certain discipline of the being. After all if you were a scientist building a cyclotron, you would expect every machinery to be precise to the thousandth of a milli-meter. So it is with understanding of the Veda and Upanishads. Some would even say the mere act of reading the thoughts of a Rishi is an Yagna. No need for detailed paraphernalia, the instruments of external ritual. What the Veda wants is that inner engineering to be in order.

Aim of Kali’s Brood

The goal of Kali’s Brood is to re-acquaint Hindus to the living heart of their tradition. We will do this by providing snippets from the Vedas, Upanishads and other key works. We will get to the heart of its spirit and inner experience. This body of knowledge is not restricted to Hindus alone, it waits for all those who will open themselves to its vast synthesis of man, life and his immortal destiny.

Anjaneya – The Beginning

Anjaneya

This was in a time before men were as now. More kin to animal than man. More raw instinct than thought. Every inflection of mind indulged without an overarching plan beyond the impulses of life. Mind was as a tail, twitching, dangling, swinging. All becoming was what She ordained. The leap from a branch to another, the teeth baring grin, the litany of postures were all Her. We knew everything it seemed.

I was the first. Out of my mother’s womb, I was bathed in glowing mane. Anjana, I heard them call, it would be while before I understood speech, but I knew..Anjana, it was her, the one who had consented to yield me, forever I would bear her name. Behind just one name which I would know much later.

Of all simians I could stay in place. Unmonkey-like they said, sick, will be nothing, will not see as many summers as fingers in our hands. I knew not why, this was within, this is what I was. I could stay still. Had no need for trees, or to jump..I saw a vaster forest in my mind, hints of wildness and power that fellow simians longed for, I saw unlimited monkeyness possible within..my antics were within. Where my brothers were content with meagre leaps between trees, I leapt to the Sun thinking it a ripe fruit. I was different.

It would be many years before I heard that name. A mere rumor, that travelled on the whims of men. A man who was more than man. God they said. Who in his stillness was more than all the chattering of men. Like me I thought. It was born then, an ardor, a flame within..and I wanted to see him. I, a monkey, a mere simian had loved something without seeing. The name, the syllables would soon be more than my mother. I said it once again in my mind, savoring each inflection of sound, “Rrraamaa, Rrraamaa”.

With those first utterances I would be bound to him forever. He Sri Rama and I Anjaneya, son of Anjana.

Paintings credits – Paritosh Sarda