KIRAN ATMA: Asceticism
Showing posts with label Asceticism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asceticism. Show all posts

Supernatural Powers Of Yogis - Yogic Luminescence, Asceticism, And Psychic Power

 





    Long before the word yoga came to mean "spirituality" or "spiritual path," He compelled the Gods to grant His request that the heavenly river Ganges (Ganga) release its waters to flood and regenerate the parched earth by raising his arms high. 



    The archetypal ascetic (tapasvin) of the Vedic period is the ecstatic muni, not the obedient householder-sacrificer or even the elevated seer (rishi). 



    • The muni is part of what is known as the Vedic counterculture, which consists of religious people and organizations (such as the Vratyas) that followed their holy goals outside of Vedic society. 
    • The muni has been referred to be the forerunner of the later yogi? in that he resembles a lunatic in his euphoric oblivion. 
    • Many aspects of his lifestyle foreshadow the later avadhuta's unconventional conduct, which is celebrated in the Avadhuta-Gita and other medieval Sanskrit writings. 



    Tapas has survived as a separate tradition from Yoga.





    The Mahabharata epic, for example, documents this simultaneous growth. 

    Many famous tapasvins' tales are told, including Vyasa, Vishvamitra, Vashishtha, Cyavana, Bharadvaja, Bhrigu, and Uttanka. 



    Indeed, the tradition of tapas is given precedence over Yoga in several sections of the epic, indicating the passages' early antiquity. 


    • Tapas is usually achieved via chastity (brahmacarya) and the subjection of the senses (indriya-jaya). 
    • The inherent tendencies of the body-mind are believed to produce psychophysical effulgence (tejas), brightness (jyotis), tremendous power (ba/a), and vitality (ba/a) (vfrya). 



    Since Vedic times, another word strongly associated with asceticism is ojas (apparently related to the Latin a dt ustus, "majestic"). 


    • It refers to a certain kind of numinous energy that energizes the whole body and mind. 
    • Ojas is produced primarily via the discipline of chastity, as a consequence of sexual energy being sublimated. 
    • It is said to be so powerful that the ascetic may influence and alter his or her own fate as well as the fate of others. 
    • According to the Atharva-Veda, the deities attained immortality by practicing chastity and austerities. 



    Tapas is typically associated with the acquisition of psychic powers (siddhi), which often proved to be the downfall of unwise ascetics who abused their extraordinary abilities. 


    • The Tapas tradition unfolded against the backdrop of a magical worldview in which the cosmos is filled with personalized sources of psychic power, both in the Vedic Age and the Epic Age (virya). 
    • He also names tapas as one of the five observances or restrictions (niyama) and claims that austerity perfects the body and its senses. 
    • Tapas is clearly limited to the role of a warm-up exercise in this context. 





    Yoga is primarily concerned with meditation and its enhanced form, ecstatic transcendence (samadhi).


    • For millennia, the tradition of tapas has coexisted with the schools of Yoga, and this is also the case today. 

    The hagiography Maharaj tells the extraordinary tale of a modern tapasvin and saint who supposedly lived for years. 

    • Tapasviji Maharaj, the story's protagonist, was born into a royal family but abandoned everything in his late fifties and girded himself with a loincloth. 
    • He was regarded as a powerful ascetic and miracle worker throughout his lifetime. 
    • He achieved incredible feats of endurance, overcoming both pain and boredom. 
    • He stood on one leg with one arm extended skyward for three years, then never laid down for another twenty-four years while traveling several kilometers every day. 






    This saint drew a lot of attention in the United States because of his extraordinary lifespan, which he said was due to his receiving the kaya-kalpa or renewing therapy known to traditional Indian medicine three times. 

    • The effectiveness of this therapy is mainly determined on the patient's temperament, since he or she must be able to tolerate extended periods of near-complete isolation. 
    • Only a highly adept meditator of Tapasviji Ma­ haraj's caliber could conceivably bear the agony of self-denial. 
    • Clearly, the tapasvins of ancient and modern India have much to teach Western medicine.


    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 And Hindu Theology - What Is Asceticism?



    In its broadest meaning, this term refers to physical discipline, most often the abandonment of normal society and conventional social life in the pursuit of divine enlightenment and ultimate spiritual freedom (moksha). 

    Throughout history, ascetic practice has emphasized many recurring themes. 



    Celibacy has been one of the most popular for a number of reasons. 


    • Not only does sexual pleasure utilize the senses to entrap a person, but home and family ties are also regarded as a hindrance to serious spiritual pursuits. 
    • The notion that semen is a man's concentrated essence, and therefore something to be carefully guarded, motivates the focus on celibacy. 
    • Although semen must be spent in order to reproduce, it should not be spilt carelessly since it depletes a man's vitality. 
    • Celibacy is said to provide more vitality, which leads to higher spiritual achievement. 



    The practice of tapas, or physical austerity, has long been a defining feature, with the belief that enduring physical suffering not only develops character but also produces spiritual force. 


    • Tapas may take on horrific self-mutilation and mortification forms at times. 
    • Other times, a gentler physical discipline, such as a type of hatha yoga, may be used to prepare the body and mind for long periods of practice. 


    In general, ascetics' spiritual growth may take a number of routes, which frequently reflect the talents and preferences of the ascetics who pursue them. 


    • Some ways have emphasized conventional study, some have emphasized worship and devotion, others have emphasized physical austerity, while yet others have emphasized meditation and personal revelation. 
    • Almost often, spiritual instruction takes place under the supervision of a religious preceptor (guru), who is responsible for his students' spiritual growth. 
    • Although there is some debate over how long and how venerable asceticism has been practiced in India, it has a long and venerable history. 
    • The most bold assertion is that the Indian ascetic tradition stems from the Indus Valley civilization's religion. 
    • This assertion is based on an old artifact known as an Indus Valley seal, which depicts a person sitting cross-legged as though in meditation. 
    • Whether one believes this assertion or not, the Vedas, the oldest Hindu texts, provide plenty of evidence of asceticism. 


    The Vedas describe renunciants like the vratya, yati, and muni, as well as ascetics who live in the woods. 


    • Indeed, the Aranyakas or "Forest Books," as one layer of the Veda is known, indicates that it was written by such ascetics. 
    • Buddhist and Jain literature, as well as certain later upanishads, clearly indicate that monastic living was firmly established by the fifth century B.C.E. 
    • All of these ascetics, whether Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain, were lumped together under the name shramana, which means “to strive” in Sanskrit. 



    The theological conflict between the two main religious paradigms, the Brahmana ideal linked with Vedic religion and the shramana ideal associated with austerity, is well acknowledged. 


    • The Brahmana ideal was based on sacrifice, mastery of complex sacred texts, and hereditary priesthood; it was also so expensive that it almost required royal patronage—all of these factors made it the "establishment religion." These concepts clashed with the shramana ideal, which was renunciant, individualist, and focused on inner experience. 
    • This conflict had been partly resolved by the time of the Dharma Shastras (treatises on religious duty); asceticism had been consigned to the last of the four ashramas (stages of life), that of the Sanyasi. 
    • Even yet, there is still tension since, according to these scriptures, a twice-born man cannot become a Sanyasi until he has met his children's children, which would put him in his late thirties. 
    • These scriptures limit asceticism to twice-born males who have completed their householder duties, but they exclude women and low-caste men. 
    • Needless to say, the real world has never resembled the utopian society depicted in the Dharma Shastras. 




    Initiated Hindu ascetics may be classified into many main categories based on their organizational structure. 



    • One distinction is based on the patron god of ascetics; the Shaiva are Shiva worshippers (bhakta), while the Vaishnava worship Vishnu. 
    • The Kapalikas, Kalamukhas, and Pashupatas are Shaiva ascetic groups that have vanished; the Dashanamis and Nathpanthis are the only two Shaiva groups that remain. 

    • The Dashanamis are the most renowned ascetics in the world. 
      • They are said to have been founded by the renowned philosopher Shankaracharya and have a long history of emphasizing study. 

    • Gorakhnath, a miracle-working yogi about whom little is known, is the ancestor of the Nathpanthis. 
      • The Nathpanthis are renowned for emphasizing the physical body's change via yoga. 

    • Vaishnava ascetics are more recently organized, and in northern India, they are divided into four groups (chatuhsampradayi Nagas), each named after the founder of the group:

      • Ramananda for the Ramanandis, 
      • Nimbarka for the Nimbarkis, 
      • Chaitanya for the Madhva Gaudiyas (Brahma Sampraday), and 
      • Vishnuswami for the Vishnuswamis. 


    • Both the Dashanamis and the Vaishnava ascetics have formed bands of warriors known as Nagas ("naked") from at least the sixteenth century, and perhaps much earlier. 
      • These soldier-ascetics were tasked with guarding the other ascetics, as well as acting as long-distance merchants and mercenary warriors. 
      • Although these Naga orders still exist today, they are no longer battle-ready. 

    • The Udasis, who worship the panchayatana ("five-fold"), a grouping of five Hindu deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Ganesh, and Surya, are another prominent sect. 
      • In terms of religion, the Udasis are in between the Shaivas and the Vaishnavas. 
    • Reform-minded ascetics have formed their own ascetic bands throughout the ages, a process that continues now. 




    G. S. Ghurye, Indian Sadhus, 1964; Jadunath Sarkar, A History of the Dasanami Naga Sanyasis, 1958; Padmanabh S. Jaini, “Sramanas: Their Conflict with Brahmanical Society,” in Joseph Elder (ed. ), Chapters in Indian Civilization, 1970; Robert Lewis Gross, The Sadhus of India, 1992; and Peter van der Veer, Gods on Earth, 1988 for more information Also known as panchayatana puja.


    You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

    Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.