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Temple for an Alphabet

In Indian languages, there are long and a short sounding versions of vowels including the vowel “A”. The alphabet “A” represents Shiva, per Siddhar texts. Shiva is the universal being. Its long sounding equivalent, namely, “aa” represents the glory of the universal being. The vowel “aa” is the shortened form of the word “Atma”, the individual being. There is a unique temple for Shiva who is the conglomerate of individual beings. This is one of the only two temples without an idol within the Sanctum Sanctorum, the central chamber. This is a reminder to the fact that the Atma can not be seen or perceived by our senses. The Aavudaiyaar temple, was built by the chief minister of the King of Madurai, some four hundred years ago. This minister in his previous birth was a Siddhar. Siddhars made use of herbal and mineral formulations to advance quickly in their Yoga practice.  Our Siddhar too used a Kuligai, a magical tablet

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Agastya’s Herb Hill

Locating a particular herb in the wilderness can be a daunting task even to an expert. Many of the herbs which the Siddhar practitioners have documented are known to grow on steep rocky hillsides in Southern India. Siddhar Agasthiyar says that locating herbs is an easier task from a state of heightened awareness. He says in his text that a Rishi who lived atop the Great hill of herbs trained him on this. Hills which Agasthiyar mentions in his texts are found today in Tamil Nadu, in India. Is there also a “Great hill of herbs” which is associated with a Rishi? A possibility is the Marundhu-Vaaz-Malai (மருந்துவாழ் மலை) hill which overlooks the Indian ocean from the Southern tip of India. The name of this hill means “The Hill where Herbs reside”. There is a small cave with an altar for Agasthiyar along the path to this hilltop. Reputed spiritual masters who meditated here in the recent past confirm the fact

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Mechanics of Action

Sri Sri Ravishankar “The dynamics of how events happen is a big mystery. Only one who is 100% in doing can recognise the happening. The healthiest way to apply this knowledge is to see the whole past as happening and the present as doing. If you see the past as doing, then ego and regret come along. And when you see the present as happening, laziness and unawareness set in. Let the happening be for the past and the doing for the present. And the future is a mix of both. The wise will see the doing in happening and the happening in doing simultaneously. One who does a lot of work will never say he did a lot. If someone says he did a lot of work, it that means he can do more. He has not done enough. Work does not tire you as much as the “doership” does. All actions happen through consciousness. The world moves because

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One Creator or Two?

Per the text Yoga Vasishta, which is published by New York University press (SUNY), creation began as a mental construct. Vedic literature calls the cosmic mind as Brahma, the creator. A strong intention arose in the cosmic mind for the universe to come into existence. We can liken this to the way an architect envisions the design for a building. Building blocks come together, after that, under the able supervision of engineers and manager. Of course, workers play a big role in giving a concrete shape to a building. Brahma is like an architect, then who is the supervisor? Prajapati is the creator at the next level. The word Pra-ja-pati refers to a paternal figure who has a closer affinity at the physical plane to created beings. There is a single cosmic mind which implies that there is only one Brahma in this universe. However, several Prajapatis are involved in the subsequent step of creation. They make this creation to

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Jet lag of a departed Soul

The idea of reincarnation has gained more acceptance in main stream America today.  Per this idea, a Jiva or a Soul rests in a different realm until the right conditions arise for its next birth in the material realm. Time moves differently for a Soul in the higher domain than in the material domain. This is not much different from the fact that the length of day is different on different planets. For example, the length of the day on Venus is 116 days and on Jupiter only 10 hours. A Jiva perceives the length of a day in the higher domain to be 365 days long. A year in the earth plane is equivalent to one day in the realm of ancestors per Vedic texts. Vedic texts also say that the psyche takes some time to adjust to the new length of the day in the higher realm. The transition happens over twelve lunar months. This is like our

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Spider’s web and Entanglement

A spider is known for its visual acuity. Spiders have a unique pair of eyes, one among several pairs of eyes, which can act like telescopes. Nature has endowed a spider with another amazing faculty in the form of its web. The web acts like a field of vibration. It enables a spider to “sense” the location of its prey with precision. It grants a spider sovereignty over its own web. Human consciousness too has two facets, namely, (a) perception which is anchored to the five senses and (b) the ability to sense with the help of feelings. The education system today is designed to develop the former. Sensory skills however squeeze our consciousness into a narrow field of perception. The spider’s precise binocular vision too is narrow. Developing the skill to know without the help of the senses is important to tap into the full power of consciousness. Vedic texts call these two facets of awareness as “Buddhi” and

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The origin of Pitrus

A symbol of the domain of ancestors Brahma, the cosmic mind, is the creator of the universe. Devas are a part of the collective mind and are therefore Brahma’s helpers. From another angle, Devas are like any oher being, but with the distinction of being able to maintain their self-awareness. There is a story related to the Devas losing self knowledge. Long ago, Devas had offsprings. Devas’ attatchment to their offsprings once made them lax to their role as Brahma’s helpers. Brahma took away self knowledge from the Devas upon noticing frequent occurances of this lax attitude. Devas prayed for self knowledge after realizing their loss. Brahma asked the Devas to seek it from their own offsprings who happyly taught it and blessed the Devas addressing them as “Putrakas or little ones”. Devas acknowledged their teachers as Pitṛs or elders and gave them the status of Pitru-Devas. Pitru-devas, a class of devas, receive honors in ancestral worship rituals. There are seven groups

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Apasthambha, the unintended mathematician

There is a popular story related to Apasthambha whose works on Kalpa and Griya Sutra texts are reference materials for experts in Vedic rituals. Kalpa Sutras discuss the construction of Vedis or the central fire pit for Yagnas. Strict rules dictate the geometry of a Vedi, right down to the size of individual bricks. Different shaped Vedis, namely, circular, semi-circular, square, rectangular, must occupy the same sized area. Mathematicians have found estimates to the square root of the number two to ten digital places in Apasthambha’s texts which also list the steps in sqaring a circle and dividing a circle into seven equal parts. Mathematicians wonder about the fact that these were known centuries before the start of the Common Era. Grihya Sutra texts are the domestic counter parts of Kalpa Sutras. They elaborate the details for smaller rituals meant for household use. Among these, the rituals related to anscestors contain the strictest rules. Apasthambha was an expert in these

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The 11th day after death

Mind is a field of bio-energy which surrounds the physical body. This field shrinks when one is depressed and expands when one is happy. This field dissipates when the mind exits along with the spirit from the body at the time of death. The spirit is invited for a feast on the 11th day by assembling for it a transitory energy body. The transitory body is sustained through the power of Mantra chants, the emotional connection of the person performing death rituals and a certain belief which lingers in the spirit’s psyche. Food is one of the oldest impressions in the human psyche which stretches back to our evolution from lower life forms. This impression sustains the bond between a departing spirit and its emotional past in the material domain. The feast on the 11th day severes this bond and the spirit remembers its free nature with the help of Mantras chanted at that time. The spirit prepares itself for its onward journey to

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Peripheral Vision and the power of its blessings

Neurologists are studying the differences between stimuli from peripheral and central visions in the context of the bigger question “How does the brain respond to environmental stimuli which are not perceived consciously but which lead to moduled human behavior?”. The brain, for example, is able to trigger certain changes in the nervous system in response to facial expressions even when a person’s attention is not fully there. Unconsciously perceived fear in peripheral vision alerts the brain faster than fear presented in the central vision according to researchers at the university of Lyon, France. There must be something more to the vision from the corner of the eye than what we know now. Poets who wrote devotional text from centuries ago acknowledged the power of the corner of the eye glance. Siddhars texts say that the divine mother showers her blessings through her corner of the eye glace. There is a special term for the sidelong look. It is called Kadaikann

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