Category: spirituality

Agasthiyar’s Tattuvam-300

Sri Sri Ravishankar gave me an assignment, sometimes back to translate certain works of Agasthiyar and Bhogar both of who belong to the Siddhar tradition. Until then I did not realize the importance of ancient Tamil texts as a treasure house of integrated Indic knowledge. Siddhars and Munis had continued spiritual quest in the mountains of South India for several millennia and had brought out practical wisdom in the form of Siddha medicine. There is a lot more to Siddhar texts than herbology. They for example elucidate the building blocks or Tattvas which are common among different traditions in ancient India.   Agasthiyar compares all extant philosophies of the Indian subcontinent. Besides he does this through a handful of verses in his work Tattuvam-300. He achieves this by referring to the methodology of Tattvas. I had thought the Tattva methodology to be unique to Sanskrit texts called Darshanas.  However, in reality, the Indian subcontinent has nurtured parallel systems of thought

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Guru Tradition flourished in Dravidian lands

Tamil tradition recognizes Sage Agastya to be an important Siddha. In addition, stories and astronomy point to Agastya’s antiquity. Agastya’s Tamil works better survived the ravages of time than his works in Sanskrit. Therefore, his Tamil works can provide better clues about the ancient link between the North and South than the presently available Vedic literature. Agastya Paripooranam is one of Agastya’s Tamil works. For example. in this work, he elaborates the need for a Guru. Further, he describes the benefits of meeting a Sadguru. Through this, we can conclude one thing. The attitude to one’s Guru was the same in the Dravidian and the Vedic traditions at the time of Sage Agastya. Let us take a look at a few verses from his work. A Yogi has two goals. Firstly, a Yogi wants to reduce mental chatter. Secondly, he wants to cultivate the skill to keep the mind like a still pond. Agastya asserts in the verse below that

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Directionally qualified Hell in the Vedas

Religions around the world present a gory view of Hell. In contrast, the idea of Naraka hell was more meaningful in an earlier ear. There are four pits of hell according to the Vedas (in the Aruna Prasna Mantras). They are each assigned to the directions Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and Northwest. Secondly, they relate to the mental turmoil someone experiences in life. Southeast is the direction of Visarpi Naraka, or the pit of hell of agitated seeking. For example, pain or a strong discomfort can make someone seek relief, desperately. This desperation relates to Visarpi Naraka. Some other time, one may feel completely frozen. For example, this may be due to an overwhelming sensation. This type of turmoil is the Avisarpi Naraka experience. This Naraka is in the Southwest direction. Self-loath creates intense mental turmoil in anyone. This is Vishadi, the pit of hell of anguish. For example. someone may not immediately grasp the gravity of injustice he has meted

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When did Yoga and Vedanta traditions diverge?

Yoga, Vedanta and mantra are three unique traditions which have been popular for several centuries in India. Strangely the practitioners of any one of three traditions do not readily venture into the others. Secondly, Vedanta fans are not enthusiastic about stretching themselves on the Yoga mat. Thirdly, “OM” is the only sound which Yoga practitioners chant. They generally do not find a desire to explore the Mantras. Similarly, the Pandits too feel content with chanting the mantras. They do not have a natural inclination to master Yoga. Is this purely because of the differences in the approaches among the three traditions? Or, did a Did a cleft appear between the three tradition sometimes in the distant past.  Vaishnava Yoga is an example. Vedanta today appeals to the intellectually oriented, Yoga to the physically active and Mantra to those from a family of chanters.   One finds a clue from the history of Vaishnava Acharyas. The time o Nathamuni (few centuries

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Patanjali, a Northerner or a Southerner?

The northern territories near Ayodhya and the lands as far south as Sri Lanka both stake a claim to Patanjali. Patanjali. French Indologist, Louis Renou of the 19th century, sided with the oral traditions about there having been two Patanjalis. Many scholars have gradually come to the same conclusion. It is far more likely that the grammarian Patanjali who wrote a commentary on Panini’s Sutras was different from the author of the Yoga Sutras. There is more evidence to the time of the former than the latter. Patanjali is an important personality among the Siddhas of the South. The medical system of Siddhars developed in parallel to the Ayurvedic system. Siddhars are reputed for their special powers to heal and to bless. According to the Siddhar tradition, Patanjali was born in Triconamalai in Sri Lanka and took Jeeva Samadhi in the famous Nataraja temple in Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. The Chidambaram temple’s unique domes consists of 21600 tiles, the number of breaths

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What does Brahma have to do with Collapsing Quantum Systems?

Does Brahma dream the universe? If Creation exists only within the mind of Brahma, can it not dissolve like a dream? Is this similar to a collapsing quantum system? Let us review these two ideas. The popular idea among scientists is that human intelligence is an accident. A certain biological evolution created the power of thinking in the human brain. Consequently, everything in nature and in the cosmos is like a machine. Machines work on one principle, namely, the cause-and-effect principle. However,  Sir James Jeans, made a striking discovery. He says that the discoveries in Physics suggest the universe to be less of a machine and more of a great thought. The core elements of mechanical philosophy began in the Cartesian era, in the late 16th century. The idea that “I exist because I think” is slowing waning. Consequently, the older idea of the mind being the creator and the governor of the realm of matter is reviving. Sanskrit literature celebrates

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Superconductivity & Mysticism

The idea of everlasting anything sounds incredible. When Superconductivity was proposed in the sixties even scientists were skeptical. Then they agreed that electric current could flow for long periods (10,000 years) at super low temperatures – zero degrees Kelvin. Semiconductor physicists started designing new material which exhibited superconductivity at temperatures a little higher than that. They found immediate application in medical equipment such as the MRI. A few years ago came the discovery that light can trigger superconductivity. It seemed that light was impacting the crystalline structure of a material. This week scientists have reported in the journal of Physical Review letters an even more interesting discovery. Superconductivity appears in a material even before its lattice structure changes and at temperatures close to normal. Quantum phenomena have been accepted in the scientific community for a while but the possibility of them happening closer to the human body temperature had been left to the domain of the mystical. Scientists from Max

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Celebrate a cosmic scale birthday!

One’s birthday as per the conventional calendar is only a crude approximation of the configuration in the sky when one was born! Tropical dates identify the position of Earth with respect to Sun ignoring the background of fixed stars. In a sense it distances our awareness from the wider cosmos by limiting it to a Heliocentric existence. While the complex molecules that make up our cells may have formed within the Solar system, every atom of our body was created in deep space out there!  Astronomers use the term “sidereal” to distinguish observations against a stationary background. A sidereal year is slightly longer than a tropical year. Vedic civilization recognized this and included the notions of tropical and sidereal in its calendar system. This calendar system utilizes the position of the moon as an additional peg to mark one’s birth cosmically. Moon too returns to its original position against the fixed stars and is close to its original phase on

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Consciousness – Reincarnation – Rinpoche

An extraordinary Rinpoche lama visited the United States in the seventies. Lama Yeshe was endearing to many of his western followers. He created the Foundation for the Preservation of Tibetan Buddhism. Compassion and smile on his face were his traits. Unfortunately, he died of heart failure in 1984. A year later, Buddhist parents in the west gave birth to baby Osel. Soon, the practicing Buddhists in the town recognized Osel as a reincarnation of Lama Yeshe. Consequently, his parents sent him to a Monastery in India for formal training in the ways of Lamas. Later, Osel returned to the west, gave up his title of Lama, and decided to live the life of a normal westerner. Western Media and Reincarnation Western Media went crazy over the story of Osel (link to discussions on BBC). Tim McGirk, the news correspondent who brought out the story in the late eighties wrote an article. In his article Tim lists many other Rinpoche Lamas

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