The history of meditation is as old as the history of civilization in India. Meditation masters like Buddha popularized different aspects of meditation, from time to time. They catered to the spiritual needs of the society based on contemporary circumstances. Society was prosperous when Buddha took birth in India. He and his followers reinfused the power of meditations back into a ritual bound society. The world today recognizes Buddha as the proponent of meditation for the masses. Were the meditation techniques which Buddha taught earlier to his time too? Let us explore the connection between Bhairav and Buddha.
The Heart Sutra text explains Buddha’s meditation philosophy in a nutshell. The Vulture’s Peak in Rajagrih, Bihar, India is the birth place of the Heart Sutra. Buddha explained the philosophy of the great void of the heart on this peak. This void of the heart is Nirvana. The idea of Nirvana or void appears to contradict the idea of divinity pervading the universe per Vedic tradition. There is no contradiction however when we look a bit deeper.
The Heart Sutra in Vigyan Bhairav
A void-meditation technique was known from an earlier time. The Vigyan Bhairav text which lists 112 meditations techniques contains a reference to meditating on the Void. This text mentions Void or शून्यं to be the nature of existence everywhere. Certainly, everywhere includes the space in one’s own heart. Equanimity can arise when one contemplates on this fact per this verse. The Vigyan Bhairav text presents several techniques as a conversation between Parvati and Shiva. This reference to Shiva and Parvati indicates the timeless nature of these techniques. Shiva is in perpetual meditation until the the time of dissolution per stories from the Purana.
Sri Sri Ravishankar, the contemporary master on meditation, has popularized meditation as the solution for the problem of stress in society. He is able to decode the Vigyan Bhairav text through his keen insight. He arrives at the approach of ancient meditation masters from a modern context. I was fortunate to gain a first hand experience of his skills when I recently attended his program in Los Angeles. He spoke about the beauty of the following Sutra and guided us into a profound meditation based on it. He traveled around the world in 2018 bringing the wisdom in the Vigyan Bhairav text to people everywhere. SriSri reveres all ancient masters, from Bhairav to Buddha.