YOGA, AYURVEDA, AND SIDDHA MEDICINE




    The original Indian system of medicine is known as Ayurveda ("Science of Life"), which is typically written as a single word in English.



    Ayurveda is basically naturopathic medicine, stressing prevention while also offering a wide range of treatments. 


    It is used alongside modern treatment in India and is promoted as a way of life for people seeking excellent health and longevity. 


    • Although it cannot be considered a philosophical tradition, Ayurveda is based on Hindu metaphysics. 
    • The old Atharva-Veda is usually thought to be supplemented by the Ayurveda. 
    • The oldest documented ideas on anatomy, as well as curative and preventative medicine, may be found in this holy text. 

    Ayurveda is often considered as a fifth branch, or "collection," of the Vedic legacy, due to its cultural significance. 


    • According to legend, the Ayurvedic body of knowledge initially consisted of 100,000 stanzas collected in a book with over a thousand chapters. 
    • While medicine was certainly performed in the early Vedic period, no complete work has survived to the present day. 




    The Sushruta Samhita and the Caraka-Samhita are the oldest surviving medical texts of encyclopedic breadth. 



    The previous work dates back to pre-Buddhist periods in certain parts, but it was only finished in its current shape in the early years of the Common Era. 


    • In the Mahabharata ( l.4.55), Sushruta is described as the grandson of King Gadhi and the son of the sage Vishvamitra, which, according to the corrected chronology used in this book, places him approximately sixty-two generations before the Bharata war, or around 3000 e.C.E. 
    • Sushruta's name literally means "well heard," implying that he was especially adept at hearing and comprehending information. 

    It's impossible to say how much of the original medical information may be discovered in the surviving Sushruta Samhita. 


    • We do know, however, that there were competent doctors throughout the Vedic Era, according to hymns in the Rig-Veda and Atharva-Veda. 
    • Around 800 c.E., the later medical collection, which was also constantly updated, was most likely given its current form. 
    • However, its purported creator, Caraka, lived several centuries earlier, since he is believed to have been King Kanishka's court-physician (781 20 C.E.). 


    Caraka's name recalls us that ancient doctors used to wander (cara) from place to place providing their medical services, albeit maybe not the famous Caraka himself. 




    According to the Sushruta Samhitd ( l. l.59), the Ayur-Vedic system of medicine is divided into eight branches: 


    ( I ) surgery;

    (2) treatment of diseases of the neck and head; 

    (3) treatment of physical diseases of the torso, arms, and legs; 

    (4) treatment of childhood diseases; 

    (5) processes for counteracting baneful occult influences; 

    (6) treatment of childhood diseases ( vajikarana). 


    The formal resemblance between Ayurveda and Patanjali's eightfold Yoga, which has been noted by Hindu authorities, is entirely accidental, but certain traditional authorities have taken note of it. 




    Ayurveda and Yoga, on the other hand, share a number of significant ideas and practices. 


    Most importantly, the writers and editors of the aforementioned medical reference books embraced the Yoga Samkhya tradition's philosophy. 


    • As a result, the Sushruta-Samhita seems to have been altered at some time in the light of ishvara Krishna's dualist method of thinking, as outlined in his Samkhya Karikd. 
    • On the other hand, the Caraka-Samhita includes echoes of epic Samkhya Yoga philosophies. 
    • It's also worth noting that some ancient Sanskrit interpreters thought that the same Patanjali who authored the Yoga-Sutra also penned a renowned grammar treatise and a treatise on medicine. 




    Both Ayurveda and Yoga emphasize the interconnectedness of the body and mind. 


    Physical disorders may have a negative impact on the psyche, and mental imbalance can contribute to a variety of illnesses. 


    • A healthy existence, according to Ayurveda, must be both joyful (sukha) and morally decent (hita). 
    • A happy life, according to Ayurvedic definition, is one that is physically, intellectually, morally, and even smart. 
    • The Yoga literature also emphasizes the close connection between ethical behavior and happiness. 

    The Ayurvedic experts advise cultivating calm, self-knowledge, and caution. 


    • Self-actualization (in Abraham Maslow's meaning) was integrated into Hindu doctors' medical philosophy and practice. 
    • We can easily see how such a life would provide a solid foundation for pursuing the spiritual goal of Self-realization (atma-jnana). 
    • David Frawley goes so far as to declare in his book Ayurveda and the Mind, "Ayurveda is the healing branch of yogic science." Ayurveda's spiritual component is yoga. 




    Yoga's therapeutic component is known as Ayurveda. 


    The idea of the different life currents (vayu) in the body, which dates back to the AtharvaVeda, is a significant link between AyurVeda and Yoga. 


    • The various kinds of life energy (prana) are believed to flow via thirteen conduits (nadis) according to medical experts, while the HathaYoga texts typically cite fourteen such major channels. 
    • A difference is often drawn between these conduits and bigger ducts (known as dhamanf) that transport fluids such as blood. 
    • The Ayurvedic concept of this network of channels differs significantly from the Tantric approach, which focuses more on the subtle body. 
    • The significance of starting breath control practice in the appropriate season is acknowledged in Hatha-Yoga. 




    Ayurveda provides the medical foundation for this tradition, according to which the body humors (dosha) fluctuate with the seasons. 



    The doshas are also mentioned in a number of Yoga texts, such as the fifth-century Yoga-Bhashya (1.30), which defines disease as a "imbalance of the components (dhatu) or the activity of the secretions (rasa)." 


    Vacaspati Mishra, in his nineteenth-century interpretation on this scripture, argues that the components are air (vata), bile (pitta), and phlegm (kapha), or the doshas. 


    • This is medical terminology. 
    • The doshas are also often mentioned in Hatha-Yoga literature, which is concerned with the body's optimum functioning. 
    • The correct balance of body components is thought to be the key to good health. 
    • These may be found all throughout the body, although in varying concentrations at different locations. 


    Vata rules the neurological system, heart, large intestines, lungs, bladder, and pelvis, whereas pitta rules the liver, spleen, small intestines, endocrine glands, blood, and sweat, and kapha rules the joints, mouth, head and neck, stomach, lymph, and adipose tissue. 

    • Vata builds up below the navel, kapha builds up above the diaphragm, and pitta builds up between the diaphragm and the navel. 



    Ayurveda also identifies seven kinds of tissue (dhdtu) and three impure substances (ma/a) in addition to the three doshas. 


    • Blood plasma (rasa), blood (rakta), flesh (mamsa), fat (meda), hone (asthi), bone marrow (majjan), and sperm (semen) are the dhatus (shukra). 
    • Feces (purisha), urine (mutra), and perspiration are the ma/as, or waste products (sveda, lit. "sweat"). 
    • These physical components are also addressed in the Yoga texts on occasion. 


    This is also true of the susceptible or sensitive zones (marman), which the Rig Veda previously mentions (6.75 . 1 8). 




    There are 107 marmans, which are essential links between flesh and muscle, bones, joints, and sinews, or between veins, according to Ayurveda. 


    • As part of the Chinese and Japanese martial arts' hidden knowledge, a strong strike to certain of these marmans may result in death. 
    • Kalarippayattu, a South Indian martial art, identifies 1 60 to 220 such sensitive spots in the body. 
    • The body is divided into three levels in this system: the fluid body (which includes tissue and waste products), the solid body (which includes muscles, bones, and the marmans), and the subtle body (which includes important energy pathways and collecting places). 

    Injury to a marman disrupts the flow of the wind element, resulting in serious bodily issues that may lead to death. 


    • A quick slap to the wounded region may sometimes restore the flow of life energy and therefore avoid the worst from happening. 
    • The marmans rely on the flow of prana, and there are no marmans without priina. 
    • The moon regulates the flow of life energy via these sensitive points. 




    In ancient Hindu sexology, a similar teaching advises stimulating certain sensitive regions on the woman's body only on certain lunar days. 


    Some Yoga texts, such as the Shandilya-Upanishad ( 1. 8. 1 f. ), mention about eighteen marmans, while the Kshurikii-Upanishad ( 1 4) says the yogin should use the "mind's keen blade" to cut through these important places. 


    • In other words, the marmans seem to be seen as obstructions in the flow of the life energy that may be cleared by focus and breath control. 
    • The notion of ojas, or vital energy, which is described in the Atharva-Veda, is one that both Ayurveda and Yoga share (2. 1 7 . 1 ). 
    • Both systems use different methods to increase ojas (the "lower" kind). 
    • Sexual abstinence is the most commonly advised technique for increasing vital force in Yoga.


    Hunger, bad nutrition, overwork, anger, and worry—all the physical and emotional conditions that drain one's enthusiasm for life—decrease Ojas with age. 


    Their polar opposites produce ojas, which ensures excellent health. 


    • When ojas levels are low for a long time, it causes degenerative illnesses and premature aging. 
    • Ojas is found throughout the body, but it is particularly concentrated in the heart, which also serves as the physical anchoring for awareness. 
    • While there are half a handful of "lower ojas" in the body, there are only eight droplets of "upper ojas" in the heart, according to Cakrapani's commentary on the Caraka-Samhita. 
    • The smallest waste of this essential energy is believed to result in death, and it cannot be replaced. 



    Hatha-Yoga and Ayurveda also use purification methods, such as self-induced vomiting (vamana) and physical cleaning (dhauti). 


    These methods have a beneficial impact on the body's metabolism, among other things. 


    • Furthermore, Ayurveda recognizes thirteen types of internal heat (agni), among which the digestive heat (jathara-agni) is often addressed by Hatha-Yoga experts. 
    • Physical well-being (arogya) is unquestionably one of Hatha-precondition Yoga's and intermediate objectives. 

    Even Patanjali cites "adamantine robustness" of the body as one of the characteristics of physical perfection (kaya-sampad) in his Yoga-Sutra (3.46). 


    • Patanjali talks about the perfection of the body and senses as a consequence of the decreasing of impurities as a result of asceticism in another aphorism (2.43). 
    • Furthermore, he claims (2.38) that chastity provides vitality (vlrya). 
    • Patanjali mentions illness (vyadhi) as one of the mind's distractions (vikshepa) that impede development in Yoga in aphorism 1.30. 

    The Shiva-Svarodaya, a several hundred-year-old yogic text, emphasizes breath control as the most important method of attaining or sustaining well-being, as well as gaining esoteric knowledge and abilities, wisdom, and even liberation. 


    The method of svarodaya—derived from svara ("sound [of the breath]") and udaya ("rising")—is described as a science promoted by the siddha-yogins in one verse (3 1 4). 


    • A wide variety of purificatory acts are described in the Sat-Karma-Samgraha ("Compendium of Right Acts"), a Yoga book written by Cidghanananda, a student of Gaganananda of the Natha sect. 
    • These are designed to prevent or treat a variety of diseases caused by bad luck or a failure to follow the recommended dietary and other regulations, such as those concerning the appropriate place and timing.
    • To cure oneself, Cidghanananda instructs the yogin to first employ postures (asana) and occult medicines. 



    The connection between Yoga and Ayurveda is explicitly recognized in Yogananda Natha's AyurvedaSutra, a sixteenth-century book in which the author uses Patanjali's Yoga-Sutra and also examines food and fasting as effective methods of health. 


    The relative prevalence of the three gunas in food is investigated. 


    • The gunas—sattva, rajas, and tamas—are also a component of Ayurveda's medicinal philosophy. 
    • Asymmetry in the body's components or humors indicates asymmetry in the gunas, and vice versa. 
    • All limited life is, in some ways, the consequence of a disequilibrium of the gunas; they are only perfectly balanced at the transcendental plane of Nature (prakriti-pradhtina). 


    The three humors (dosha) are sometimes thought to be physical faults, whereas the three gunas are thought to be mental problems. 


    • Wind sattva, bile rajas, and phlegm tamas are the three elements that are connected. 
    • Ktiya-kalpa is an Ayurvedic practice that closely aligns with Hatha Yoga's goal of producing a long-lived, if not immortal, body. 
    • This is a tough rejuvenation process that requires extended seclusion in darkness, strict food restrictions, and the use of hidden potions. 
    • Tapasviji Maharaj, a modern-day saint, is said to have undergone this therapy many times, each time emerging from his solitary confinement in a dark hut looking and feeling completely revitalized. 




    The medieval Siddha tradition of northern India shows a strong link between Ayurveda, Yoga, and alchemy (rasayana, from rasa "essence" or "silver" and ayana "course"). 


    The followers of this significant school sought physical immortality via kaya-sadhana, or "body cultivation," a complex psychophysiological technique. 


    • The many schools of Hatha-Yoga sprang from this, which may be considered the preventive branch of Hindu medicine on one level. 
    • Surprisingly, one book on medicine, written by a man named Vrinda, is titled Siddha-Yoga. 
    • Yoga-Shataka is the title of another medical book attributed to Nagarjuna ("Century [of Verses] on Yoga"). 


    South India has developed a second separate medicinal system, which is similar to Ayurveda. This method is linked to the Siddha tradition, which originated in Tamil-speaking nations. 


    • It has a stronger link to alchemy than Ayurveda and uses a huge variety of medicines derived from plants and chemicals. 
    • Astrology, mantras, and medicines, which are called as mani, mantiram, and maruntu in Tamil, are its three main diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. 
    • It also incorporates asanas (postures) and breath control. 

    This alternative medical system, which has received little study, was established by the mythical Sage Akattiyar (Sanskrit: Agastya), who is credited with over two hundred publications. 


    • He is the first of eighteen siddhas, or completely accomplished adepts, who are revered in the Indian peninsula's south. 
    • Agastya was an old seer who wrote many Rig-Veda hymns, and this archaic text ( 1. 1 79) even has a dialogue between him and his wife Lohamudra. 
    • He is known as being of tiny height, and he is often portrayed as a dwarf in iconography. 
    • His name has long been linked to South India, where he is revered in the same way that Matsyendra Natha is revered in the north. 

    Teraiyar was an adept and famous healer who was historically regarded one of Agastya's pupils yet lived as late as the fifteenth century C.E. 


    • Only two of his masterpieces, the Cikamanivenpa and the Natikkottu, are still accessible (on pulse diagnosis). 
    • A portion of the Noyanukaviti (on hygiene) has also been discovered. 

    The following stanzas appear in the previously stated work: 

    We will sleep only at night, not during the day; we will have sexual intercourse once a month; we will drink water only at meals, even if we are thirsty; we will not eat any bulbous root of any plant other than karanai; we will not eat any unripe fruit other than the tender plantain; we will take a short walk after a friendly meal; what does death have to do with us? We shall take an emetic once every six months; a purgative once every four months; naciyam once every month and a half; we shall shave the head twice every fortnight; we shall anoint ourselves with oil and bathe once every fourth day; we shall apply collyrium to the eyes every third day; we shall never smell perfumes or flowers in the middle of the night; So, what role does death play in our lives? 


    The siddhas of South India, like their northern counterparts, were interested in longevity and even aspired to immortality in a transubstantiated body, as shown by the following words.



    You may also want to read more about Kundalini Yoga here.

    You may also want to read more about Yoga here.


    You may also want to read more about Yoga Asanas and Exercises here.


    You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

    Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.



    HINDU RELIGION AND YOGA




      Yoga is spirituality, esotericism, or mysticism, not religion in the traditional sense. 


      Regardless of whether we are discussing Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, or Sikhism, Yoga is often linked to the cosmologies as well as religious beliefs and practices of these many traditions. 


      • This has proved to be a stumbling barrier for many Western Yoga practitioners, who are either unaware of these traditions or have a strained relationship with their own religious heritage, whether Christianity or Judaism. 
      • They are particularly taken aback by the many deities of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jaina pantheons, and they are unsure how these deities connect to real Yoga practice and the doctrine of nondualism (advaita) that is common to most varieties of Yoga. 
      • Students who tend toward monotheism may be worried about falling to polytheism, which is regarded a sin in the Judeo-Christian faith. 

       

      Because the emphasis of this discussion is Hindu Yoga, I propose to begin by introducing the main Hindu Gods and Goddesses who figure in the Sanskrit and vernacular literature of Yoga. 



      Many Hindu deities are also part of the vast Buddhist pantheon, and the Jainas have mostly kept the same deities. 


      The different deities are worshiped and summoned as manifestations or personifications of the ultimate Reality, and each is regarded as the absolute Godhead in the perspective of their worshipers. 


      • For example, worshipers of God Shiva consider Shiva as transcendental, formless, and qualityless (nirgu­ na), yet bestow onto this featureless being the gift of devotion. 
      • Goodness, beauty, strength, and elegance are examples of anthropomorphic characteristics or attributes (guna). 


      All other gods are regarded as lofty beings that inhabit different celestial regions in comparison to Shiva (loka). 


      • They are known as archangels or angels in Christian language. 
      • The scenario is the polar opposite for Vishnu worshippers. 


      Vishnu is the ultimate Godhead for them, while all other gods—including Shiva—are simply devas, or "shining ones," who have a position comparable to angelic beings in Judeo-Christian and Islamic faiths. 



      • The deities were first understood from three perspectives: 

          • material (adhibhautika), 
          • psychological (adhyatmika), 
          • and spiritual (adhidaivika). 

      • The Vedic God Agni, for example, 

          • represents the physical sacrificial fire, 
          • the sacrificer's inner fire (connected to snake power or kundalint-shakti), 
          • and the divine fire or transcendent Light. 




      When considering a god, we must examine all three characteristics. 



      Most academics have concentrated only on the first component, leading them to reject Vedic spirituality as simply "naturalistic." 


      • However, a deeper examination reveals that the Vedic seers and sages were well-versed in symbolism and adept in the use of metaphoric language. 
      • It's our comprehension, not their symbolic communication, that's lacking. 

      India's "theologians" have talked about thirty-three deities since Vedic times, despite the fact that there have long been many more listed in the scriptures. 

      The following discussion will concentrate on only a few deities who are particularly connected with Yoga. 



      To begin, there is Shiva ("Benevolent One"). 


      Shiva is already referenced in the Rig-Veda (1.14; 2.33): Shaivism, or the Shaiva tradition of worship and religion, revolves around him. 


      • He is the god of yogins par excellence, and he is often portrayed as a yogin with long, matted hair, ashes on his body, and a garland of skulls—all indications of his complete sacrifice. 
      • The crescent moon in his hair represents mystical insight and wisdom. 
      • His three eyes, which represent the sun, moon, and fire, show all that has happened in the past, present, and future to him. 
      • The cosmic fire is linked to the central or "third" eye, which is situated on the forehead, and a single look from this eye may incinerate the whole universe. 

      The snake wrapped around his neck represents Kundalinf's hidden spiritual force. 


      • The Ganga (Ganges) River, which flows from Shiva's crown, is a symbol of continuous cleansing, which is the mechanism behind his gift of spiritual freedom to followers. 
      • His four limbs symbolize his complete mastery over the four cardinal directions, and the tiger hide on which he sits signifies power (shakti). 

      His trident symbolizes Nature's three basic characteristics (guna), tamas, rajas, and sattva. 


      • Shiva's most well-known animal is the bull Nandin ("Delightful"), a symbol of sexual energy that Shiva has harnessed to perfection. 
      • The lion, which is often shown in Shiva pictures, represents desire for food, which he has also subdued. 
      • Shiva has been linked to Rudra ("Howler") from the beginning, a god who is especially associated with the air element and its many expressions (e.g., wind, storm, thunder, and lightning, but also life force and the breath, etc.). 

      Rudra, on the other hand, is said to be a powerful healer, and Shiva's name alludes to the same function. 


      • Shiva became the destructive side of the renowned trinity (lri-murti) in later Hinduism, the other two being Vishnu (representing the principle of preservation) and Brahma (representing the principle of creation) (standing for Hindu Religion, Customs and Manners the principle of ereation). 
      • As a result, Shiva is often referred to as Hara ("Remover"). 

      He is often shown on Mount Kaitasa with his heavenly wife Piirvati ("She who dwells on the mountain"). 


      • He is regarded as the first instructor of esoteric knowledge in several Tantras. 
      • The Shaivas refer to him as Maheshvara ("Great Lord," from mahfi "great" and fsh vara "lord") because he is the ultimate Reality. 
      • Shankara is the name given to him as the source of pleasure or tranquility, and Shambhu is the name given to him as the home of enjoyment. 
      • Pashupati ("Lord of the Beasts"), ishana ("Ruler"), and, last but not least, Mahadeva are some of the other titles given to him ("Great God"). 

      The linga is another symbol that is often associated with Shiva and has various meanings. 


      • The term Shiva-linga is often mistranslated as "phallus," although it really means "sign" and represents the fundamental principle of creation. 
      • The linga (also known as "lingam" in English) is the undivided and causative creative heart of cosmic existence (prakriti). 
      • Its female counterpart is the yoni principle ("womb," "source"). 
      • Both of these concepts work together to create the tapestry of space-time. 

      The shiva-linga is worn as an amulet by certain Shaivas, particularly the Lingayatas, and stone or metal replicas of the linga placed in yoni bowls remind Tantric practitioners of the bipolar nature of all apparent existence: Shiva and Parvati (Shakti), or Consciousness and Energy, play in the world. 



      Among the Vaishnavas, Vishnu ("Pervader") is the object of worship: 



      Vishnu is referenced in the Rig-Veda, thus Vaishnavism has its origins in Vedic times (e.g., 1 .23; 1 54; 8. 1 2; 29). 


      • Hari ("Remover"), Narayana ("Abode of Humans"), and Vasudeva are some of his other notable names ("God of [all] things"). 
      • Vishnu is depicted in mythology as sleeping in a formless condition on the cosmic snake Shesha (or Ananta) floating in the endless ocean of unrnanifest existence between the various eras of world creation. 

      Vishnu, like Shiva, is often shown with four arms, which symbolize his omnipresence and power. 


      • The conch (symbol of creation), the discus (symbolizing the universal mind), the lotus (representing the unity), the bow and arrows (symbolizing the ego sense and the senses), the mace (symbolizing the life force), the lock of golden hair on the left side of his chest (symbolizing the core of Nature), and the chariot (symbolizing the mind as the principle) are among his attributes. 
      • Vishnu is believed to have incarnated many times in order to reestablish the moral order (dharma) on Earth. 



      The following are Vishnu's 10 incarnations (avatira, "de­scent"): 



      1. Matsya ("Fish") incarnated for the sole purpose of rescuing Manu Satyavrata, the founder of the human race, from the flood at the beginning of the current world era. 


      2. Kurma ("Tortoise") emerged from Vishnu's infinity to retrieve numerous riches lost after the flood, most notably the elixir of life. 


      • Using the cosmic snake (Ananta) as a rope and the cosmic mountain Mandara as a churning rod, both the deities (deva or sura) and the counter-deities (asura) cooperated in churning the global ocean. 
      • The rod was pivoted around Kurma. 
      • All of the lost riches were retrieved as a result of their churning, restoring global order and equilibrium. 

      3. Varaha ("Boar") was created with the task of destroying Hiranyaksha ("Golden-Eyed"), the demon who had inundated the whole world. 


      4. Nara-Simha ("Man-Lion") appeared to destroy the e v i l monarch Hiranyakashipu ("Golden Vestment"), who had failed to slay his Reproduced from Hinduson PrahJada, a famous devoVishnu astee of Vishnu. 


      • Hiranyakashipu could not be slain by a god, human being, or beast at any time of day or night, within or beyond the walls of his palace, thanks to a blessing bestowed by God Brahma. 
      • Nara-Simha appeared as a lion-headed person inside a pillar at twilight. 
      • He ripped apart the king's body with his claws, killing him. 


      5. Vamana ("Dwarf") incarnated specifically to kill the evil Bali, who had dethroned the gods and taken control of the world. 


      • He asked Bali for as much land as he could walk across in three paces.
      • The demon emperor was amused by the request and allowed it. 
      • Yamana took two steps to encompass all of creation, then put his foot on Bali's head and pushed him into the infernal regions with his third stride. 
      • Yamana bestowed rulership over the nether regions to Bali since he was not completely devoid of qualities. 
      • The three stages of Vishnu are previously mentioned in the Rig-Veda (e.g., l .23. 1 71 8, 20). 

      6. Parashu-Rama (also known as "Rama with the Ax") was a warlike manifestation of Rama. 


      • He demolished the warrior estate twenty-one times, implying a major conflict between the kshatriyas and the brahmins during the early Vedic period. 

      7. Rama ("Dark one" or "Pleasing one"), also known as Ramacandra, was the righteous king of Ayodhya Nara-Simha and a younger contemporary of Parashu-Rama. 


      • The Ramayana epic tells the tale of his life.
      • Sita ("Furrow"), who is frequently associated with the Goddess Lakshmi ("Good Sign") and represents the principles of marriage faithfulness, love, and devotion, was his wife. 
      • She was abducted by Ravana, a demon king whose realm may have been in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), and saved by Hanumat, the monkey-headed demigod who symbolizes the ideal of loyal service. 

      8. Krishna ("Pul ler") was a God-man whose teachings are found throughout the Mahabharata epic, including the Bhagavad-Gfta and many other parts. 


      • The kali-yuga, which began with Krishna's death and will continue for thousands of years, is still in full flow. 


      9. Buddha ("Awakened One") was created to deceive evildoers and demons. 


      • Although some scholars dispute that this relates to Gautama the Buddha, there is little doubt that this was the intention of the brahmins who established the ten incarnation theory. 


      10. The avatara to come is Kalki ("THE BASE ONE"). 


      • He is depicted as riding a white horse and wielding a flaming sword in different Puranas. 
      • His mission will be to put the current world (yuga) to an end and the beginning of the following Golden Age, or Age of Truth (satya-yuga). 


      God Brahma is the most abstract of the Hindu trinity, and as a result, he has failed to captivate the imagination of the brahmins. 


      He is just the world's Creator. He must be distinguished from brahman, the nondual transcendental Reality, with caution. 

      Smartas, or followers of the Smritis (nonrevelato­ ry literature), are frequently characterized as those who do not belong to the major religious groups, such as Shaivism or Vaishnavism. 



      Gan­esha ("Lord of the Hosts")


      The elephant-headed God, is closely connected with God Shiva and is known by several other names, including Ganapati (which has the same meaning) and Vinayaka ("Leader"). 


      Ganesha hit the front pages of the New York Times and other major newspapers across the globe in 1995 for what has become known as the "milk miracle" (kshfra-camatkiira). 


      On September 2nd of that year, a normal Hindu in New Delhi dreamt that Ganesha was hungry for milk. 


      • When the guy awoke, he immediately rushed to the closest temple and, with the priest's permission, gave a scoop of milk to the statue of this god. 
      • The milk disappeared, much to his and the priest's surprise. 
      • The word spread quickly across the nation, and tens of millions of devoted Hindus rushed to the temples. 
      • Apparently, many others, including astonished doubters, saw the miracle in a variety of holy and non-religious places (such as Gane­ sha statues on car dashboards). 
      • The miracle ended as quickly as it had started, within twenty-four hours. 
      • Whatever perspective we take on the occasion, it allows us to consider the symbolism of the milk offering. 


      Milk was often blended with the legendary soma draft before it was given into the holy fire for the deities' pleasure, or it was imbibed by the sacrificial priest to enhance his connection with the deities in early Vedic times. 


      • Soma sacrifices were only comprehended and performed metaphorically in later times. 
      • Soma became the nectar of immortality, created by great concentration inside the human body. 
      • Milk, being a product of the holy cow, is steeped with symbolism. 

      Ganesha is especially associated with the sym­bolism of the life force (prana) and the serpent energy (kundalini), which causes the ambrosial liquid to flood the yogin's body after it has completely ascended to the psychospiritual center at the crown of the head. 



      Then we must seek out Durga ("She who is difficult to cross"). 


      Durga who symbolizes the cosmic force of destruction, namely the annihilation of the ego (ahamkara), which stands in the path of spiritual development and ultimate freedom. 


      • She is a loving mother only to those who follow the road of self-transcendence; everyone else is subjected to her anger. 
      • The embodiment of Durga's wrath, Kali ("Dark One"), is one of ten main Goddesses known as the "Great Wisdoms" (mahd-vidya).
      • Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshvari, Chinnamasta, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, BagaJamukhi, Matangi, and Kamala are the other goddesses. 
      • Chinnamasta ("She who has her head chopped off") is particularly significant for Yoga. 


      This ferocious Goddess is usually portrayed naked, with a garland of skulls around her neck stump, from which two streams of blood pour. 


      • In her left hand, she clutches her severed head. 
      • The Goddess chopped off her own head to feed her two attendants, Dakini and Vamini, or Jaya and Vijaya, according to several tales. 
      • This first sacrifice of the holy Mother, according to yogic interpretation, represents the left and right currents-idd and pinga/0, which must be sacrificed in order to induce the free flow of psychospiritual energy via the center channel (sushumno-nodi). 


      In order for enlightenment to occur, the head­ symbol of the mind-must be severed, that is, transcended. 


      • Sushumnasvara Bhasini, the Goddess's other name, suggests this yogic symbolism: "She who glows with the sound of the center channel." 
      • The Goddess Lakshmi, whose name is derived from lakshman ("sign") and meaning "Good Sign" or "Fortune," emphasizes the benevolent side of the Ultimate in its feminine form. 
      • The same element of the Divine is expressed by the South Indian Goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari ("Lovely Beauty of the Triple City"). 


      Rather than frightening (ugra) and horrific (saundarya), she is characterized as kind (saumya) and lovely (saundarya) (ghora). 


      • However, since Lakshmi and Lalita are seen as the ultimate Reality, they must also have a destructive side. 
      • The Divine, from our limited human perspective, is neither solely good nor solely negative, but it transcends all such classifications. 
      • The enormous Devi­ BhdgliJata, a Shakta counterpart of the Vaishnava Bhdgavata-Purona, which has been dated between the seventh and twelfth centuries, is the most significant Hindu book praising the Divine in its feminine form. 

      The great Goddess is presented as the universe's everlasting essence.



      You may also want to read more about Kundalini Yoga here.

      You may also want to read more about Yoga here.


      You may also want to read more about Yoga Asanas and Exercises here.


      You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

      Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.





      Hinduism - Where Is Benares?




       

      On the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, there is a city and a holy center (tirtha). 



      Benares is an anglicized version of the name Varanasi, which is one of the city's original Hindu names, along with Kashi and Avimukta. 


      • The titles Avimukta, Varanasi, and Kashi are all used to refer to the whole city, but in this case, they refer to concentric holy zones around the Vishvanath temple; Avimukta being the smallest, followed by Varanasi, and lastly Kashi. 
      • Benares, like all other pilgrimage sites along the Ganges, is revered for its closeness to the river, especially since the Ganges flows in a northerly direction at Benares, which is considered fortunate. 
      • The Ganges is an important element of Benares' identity, and it is the focus of most of the city's religious activity. 


      The deity Shiva, however, is the most significant holy presence in the city. 


      • Benares is Shiva's home on Earth and the location where he never departs, thus the term Avimukta ("never forsaken"). 
      • The most significant Shiva temple is the Vishvanath (“Lord of the Universe”) temple, which is spread across the city—some ancient, some modern, and some almost forgotten. 
      • Vishvanath is one of Shiva's twelve jyotirlingas, a collection of holy Shiva locations. 



      The Moghul emperor Aurangzeb demolished the old Vishvanath temple and replaced it with a mosque; the current Vishvanath temple was constructed close to the original spot. 



      • Benares is one of the seven holy towns where death gives soul freedom because of Shiva's everlasting presence (moksha). 
      • Shiva is said to appear to the dying individual at the time of death and give his salvific knowledge. 
      • Shiva's presence may also be felt at the holy location Manikarnika Ghat, which is located in the center of the city rather than on the outskirts like most other sites. 
      • Shiva gives humans a lesson here as well; particularly, Shiva warns them of their impending demise. 
      • This is not to make people sad or depressed, but to encourage them to pursue a genuine religious life. 


      Benares is an excellent location to die or immerse oneself in spiritual life due to the presence of the Ganges and Shiva; yet, it is also an exceptionally lively place to live. 


      • It has a long history as a trade hub and market town, and it still is today, despite the fact that the creaking wooden boats that formerly traversed the Ganges have been replaced by other modes of transportation. 
      • Weavers and metalworkers, many of whom are Muslim, are well-known in Benares. 


      For at least a few millenia, it has also been known as a cultural hub. 


      • From grammar to astrology to medicine, Benares is still one of India's most significant hubs for ancient Sanskritic study. 
      • It is also a hub for music, dancing, and the arts, and it has been home to a slew of Indian religious luminaries, including poet-saints Tulsidas, Ravidas, and Kabir, among others. 


      Diana Eck, Banaras, 1999, provides a comprehensive account of the city and its inhabitants.




      You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

      Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.



      Hinduism - What Is Belur Math?




      The Ramakrishna Mission, a contemporary religious organization, has its world headquarters here. 



      Swami Vivekananda, the most renowned disciple of nineteenth-century Bengali saint Ramakrishna, established the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897. 




      • Based on Vivekananda's conviction that India needs both tangible development and religious instruction, the Mission is equally devoted to both social service and spiritual elevation. 
      • The Ramakrishna Mission was established in 1899, and Belur Math was built two years later. 
      • It is situated on the west bank of the Hugli River, just north of Calcutta, and is near to the Dakshineshwar temple, where Ramakrishna spent the most of his adult life.


      You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

      Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.