Recipes

corn

Our recipes page is meant to whet the appetite for vegetarian/vegan cooking. Online resources are available to find just what you are looking for and sometimes to find something new and different. Any of the recipes that include dairy or eggs can be modified. There are many soy products which include milk, butter, yogurt, and a wide variety of cheeses and can be used in place of the dairy kind. There are several substitutes for eggs, including egg replacers which you can find in most health food stores.

Egg Substitutes

[Courtesty of HSUS and PETA]
A popular egg substitute is Ener-G egg replacer, which is make from potato starch, tapioca flour, leavening agents (calcium lactate, calcium carbonate, and citric acid) and a gum derived from cottonseed. It’s primarily intended to replace the leavening/binding characteristics of eggs in baking, but it can be used for nonbaked foods and quiches.

Use to Replace Eggs (quantity is per egg substituted for) …

2 oz of soft tofu can be blended with some water to add consistency

2 oz. of mashed beans, mashed potatoes, or nut butters

1/2 mashed banana

1/4 cup applesauce or puréed fruit

One Tbsp. flax seeds (found in natural food stores) with 3 Tbsp. water can be blended for 2 to 3 minutes, or boiled for 10 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.

1 tsp. soy flour plus 1 Tbsp. water

Use to Replace Butter (in recipes)…

Soy margarine

7/8 cup canola or corn oil = 1 cup butter

Sauté instead in wine or vegetable broth.

Use lemon as a dressing

Amma’s Kitchen

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From Bhagavad Gita 4.24 and 15.14

Brahmaarpanam Brahma Havir
Brahmaagnau Brahmanaa Hutam
Brahmaiva Tena Gantavyam
Brahma Karma Samaadhinaha

[This is 24th verse from the 4th chapter of Bhagavad Geetha] The act of offering is Brahman. The offering itself is Brahman. The offering is done by Brahman in the sacred fire which is Brahman. He alone attains Brahman who, in all actions, is fully absorbed in Brahman. (As we chant this prayer we are offering the different types of food to Brahman).

Aham Vaishvaanaro Bhutva
Praaninaam Dehamaashritha
Praanaapaana Samaa Yuktaha
Pachaamyannam Chatur Vidam

[This is 14th verse from the 15th chapter of Bhagavad Geetha] This sloka is a sort of acknowledgement and assurance to us from Brahman. “I am Vaishnavara, existing as fire God in the bodies of living beings. Being associated with ingoing (prana) and outgoing (apaana) life breaths, I will digest all the four different types of food (that which we bite and chew; that which we masticate with the tongue; those which we gulp; that which we swallow) and purify them.”

Harir Daatha Harir Bhoktha
Harir Annam Prajaapatih
Harir Vipra Shareerastu
Bhoonkte Bhojayathe Harih.

Oh Lord Hari, You are the food, You are the enjoyer of the food, You are the giver of food. Therefore, I offer all that I consume at Thy Lotus Feet.

Bobby G…

Mardis Gras Beans Hermit Chili

Coming soon…

Carrot Rice Moong dal with brocolli Balti potatoes

Advaita and Western Neo-Advaita-A Study: By Alan Adam Jacobs

entrance

‘If the blind lead the blind
both shall fall into the ditch.’
(Matt. 15:14,15)

We must be grateful to Dennis Waite and his excellent book, with its appendix, for sharply bringing this whole question to our attention. There can be no doubt that Dennis Waite’s ‘The Book Of One’ is a worthy introduction to the Ancient Teaching of Advaita. In a clear and erudite manner he summarizes the main points of this Great Philosophy and Spiritual Teaching. The book is in Sections with subsidiary chapters elucidating the chief principles. The Main Section Titles are as follows: The Unreal, The Spiritual Path, and the Real. The subsidiary 18 chapters within these Sections cover, amongst others, such topics as What I Am Not, the Nature of Man, What We Think We Can Know, Meditation, Appearance and Reality, Consciousness, the Nature of Self, Realisation, and the Direct Path.

Dennis Waite is a respected member of the Ramana Foundation UK, and there are many useful references to the Maharshi’s Teachings in the text. He has studied the subject for over fifteen years and has a working knowledge of Sanskrit. The book is definitely to be recommended for those who need a succinct overview to the whole Teaching in one medium size volume. It is easy to read and surveys the philosophy competently in an even handed way. This part of the book can well be regarded as a sound and valuable introduction to the whole field.

There is, however, a long Appendix of 24 pages packed with information on current Western Advaita Organisations, International Internet Sites, and a Reading List. This part of the book and the names contained in it raises an interesting and perplexing question of what exactly is happening to the hallowed and revered Teaching of Advaita in the Western World?

Many firm devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi now rightly term this Western phenomenon as ‘Neo-Advaita’. The term is carefully selected because ‘neo’ means ‘a new or revived form’. And this new form is not the Classical Advaita which we understand to have been taught by both of the Great Self Realised Sages, Adi Shankara and Ramana Maharshi. It can even be termed ‘pseudo’ because, by presenting the teaching in a highly attenuated form, it might be described as purporting to be Advaita, but not in effect actually being so, in the fullest sense of the word. In this watering down of the essential truths in a palatable style made acceptable and attractive to the contemporary western mind, their teaching is misleading .

Let us examine this thesis in more detail. There are a great many so-called Advaita or Non-Dual Teachers both in Europe, America and Australasia. Dennis Waite lists numerous organisations, Internet sites, and modern books, many of which fall under this category. New teachers calling themselves ‘Awakened’ appear frequently. They are often long standing ex-students of the late Raj Neesh, or people who visited Lucknow with H.L.Poonja.

Obviously, styles, personalities, emphases, delineations, and content vary considerably. But there are enough common threads to identify this tendency as ‘Neo-Advaita’. First of all, the teaching are mainly presented by question and answer at meetings called ‘Satsangs’. The teacher invites questions, and then answers them in his or her own particular way. There is no overview of the basic Advaita principles. So those who attend are left with no full understanding of the complete bases on which the Teaching stands. One is dependent on what is said there and then; after many visits, which have to be paid for, one may appreciate what the self-appointed teacher is attempting to ‘put over’. The books they have published are in the main just edited transcripts of these ‘satsangs’, and are also often incomplete.

There is no doubt that many of these men and women in most cases are attractive, talented, gifted communicators. They often have a certain charisma and an intelligent quick wit. They handle concepts from an intellectual standpoint with dexterity and are often entertaining in an idiosyncratic way. Many seekers develop a psychological dependency on one favourite teacher; others move from one to another hoping to pick up some truth which will help them in their quest. But these satsangs tend to be fragmented, so many teachers and meetings need to be visited and this can lead to confusion. There is generally a lack of experiential understanding of the Real Self and its Power as deep, silent, unconditional love. When the vasanas are strong and rajistic even such rare glimpses may not happen at all.

Stated briefly, what has happened is that an advanced teaching pointer, normally give to the Sadhak by a fully Self Realised Guru, Jivan Mukta or Jnani, has been taken over as the preliminary step and is now given ‘piecemeal’ to any new adept. The suggestion that no further effort is necessary is only stated when the Sadhak has reached the point where effort is no longer possible .The mark of the true Guru is that peace, Love and Silence are palpably felt in his presence. What Neo-Advaita gives in fact boils down to the seductive formula that ”there is nothing you can do or need to do, all you have to know is that there is no one there.”

That the mind is a bundle of thoughts ,and that there is no entity called ‘me’ is ancient Upanishadic teaching, and not a new revelation as some purport. Paradoxically, and for a reason difficult to explain, all of the leading International Neo-Advaita teachers have themselves engaged in spiritual practices of one kind or another, sometimes over a long period, then they deny this necessity to their pupils.

The suggestion by the Neo-Advaitins that effort builds up the Ego giving it a sense of pride in its ability to meditate is only true in a small number of eccentric cases. In fact, the effort of developing one pointedness leading to Self Enquiry in order to discover the source of the ‘phantom me’, the root of all thoughts and feelings, actually undermines this recalcitrant ‘egotistical ghost’. Effort can give some modicum of necessary mind control, and one pointed attention. By sidelining Self Enquiry and treating it as an idea rather than a practice along with Devotion and the support practices for Self Enquiry, the student is left in a comfortable conceptual mental zone where it is stated cosily that ‘there is nothing to do and nowhere to go’. One can park in this space forever, coming once a month and paying for another satsang, hoping Grace will descend. It is like trying to win a major lottery prize, without ever having bought the ticket of turning deeply and persistently inward and enquiring into the source of the ‘phantom me’. Friendships are often made and a lifestyle developed which is psychologically rewarding. Retreats and intensives are held.

The charge is made that effort is trying to ‘get something’ and therefore suspect as coming from the ‘me’. In fact, the ‘ghost of the me’ doesn’t really exist as an entity. The notion of ‘the false me’ is very powerfully fuelled subconsciously by the selfish-will and compounded by the vital force. It has to be diligently enquired into to be destroyed. The Maharshi says emphatically that our only freedom as an ajnani is to turn inwards. It is not trying ‘to get something.’ It is rather trying to ‘get rid of something’, the sense of separation, i.e. identification with the thoughts, mind, and feelings. Otherwise, there is a permanent occlusion, the Granthi Knot, permanently screening off the tremendous power of the Real Self, which is the Absolute Unborn Deathless Consciousness, God, Unconditional Love, Dynamic Silence, and Oneness. Instead, the Neo-Advaitin pupil merely basks in his or her Reflected Consciousness, designated as follows: ‘All there is, is perfect, whatever manifests.’ The clear distinction between Absolute and Relative consciousness is not made, and possibly may not even be known about.

To summarise, the main Neo-Advaitin fallacy ignores the fact that there is an occlusion or veiling formed by the vasanas, samskaras, bodily sheaths and vrittis, and there is a Granthi Knot forming an identification between Self and mind which has to be severed . If this were not the case then the whole of humanity would be living from Absolute Consciousness. As it is, humanity still lives from Reflected Consciousness, including the Neo-Advaitin Teacher with his or her active vasanas, still identified with the mind. In effect Neo-Advaita gives the ego licence, without attenuation, to live on under the justification of a seductive, hedonistic argument.

The Maharshi’s remedy to this whole trap is persistent effective Self Enquiry, and/or Complete Unconditional Surrender of the ‘phantom ego’ to Self or God, until the Granthi Knot is severed, the Vasanas, Samskaras and Vrittis come out, and are rendered harmless like a burned out rope. Support practices and directions are given for those who find Self Enquiry too difficult to commence. Partial surrender is possible for all, leading to total surrender through Grace consequent on efforts made through earnest one pointedness. In his foundation Essay, Self Enquiry {Collected Works}, Bhagavan clearly draws a diagram which shows how the Ego, composed of thoughts, bodily sheaths, and tendencies, forms a mirrorisation which reflects Pure Absolute Consciousness through the door of the senses onto the world as Reflected Consciousness.

The Neo-Advaitin often says somewhat wryly that Awakening is actually very ordinary and nothing special. Obviously it will appear ‘grey’ if vasanas are still active. How can living in Sahaja Samahdi and from Absolute Consciousness with unconditional love, great peace and dynamic silence abounding, be called ‘ordinary’ ? For the Neo-Advaitin teacher, there is a process of cleverly intellectually deconstructing the ‘sense of doership’ or the ‘false sense of me’ or ‘phantom ego’ which can, if performed intensively, lead to an experience, usually temporary, that there is ‘nobody there’ and even making the sense of doership temporarily disfunctional. This is then termed as ‘ an awakening has happened’ or some such hyperbole and the aspirant rests content and may even develop a desire to teach the same technique to others. The subtle part of the ego believes itself to be ‘enlightened’ but the vasanas are still active, so the awakening is conceptual, and possibly imagined, rather like the ‘born again’ experience in evangelical Christianity. No Jnani ever claims to be Enlightened. It remains for others to recognise his qualities. To say ‘I am enlightened’ is a contradiction as the I which would make such an assertion is the ‘I’ which has to be destroyed before Enlightenment can happen.

The Neo-Advaita teacher is still talking from the mind in reflected Consciousness not from the ‘no mind’. To claim to have awakened others prematurely in this tentative way then becomes further proof of a teacher’s ability. This builds up a false sense of expectation in the mind of the naive and gullible adherents that they may become awakened too, if they are lucky. This then becomes a vocation, and in many cases a very successful means of earning a livelihood. Pupils gravitate to the teacher with this kind of agenda which confirms what he or she wants to believe, that no effort is needed. The result is that the Teacher, still living from the ordinary mind, with vasanas active, can never go back on the promise that he is ‘awakened’ and therefore forfeit the right to teach. That the vasanas have been accumulated and consolidated in previous ‘life dreams’ is not examined, and if raised, the teachings about ‘samsara’ , ‘maya’ , jiva, karma and re-birth, are often considered too metaphysical to explain or grasp. They are invariably dismissed as old superstitions. Teaching from the ‘no mindstate’ or ‘silence of the Sage’ can never happen while the powerful vasanas are active. They have to die down and become harmless, and this means self-enquiry and surrender, until the mind, through Grace, when the Real Self recognises the Jiva with a one pointed mind, has fully turned inwards. The nervous system has been prepared and The Self then draws the mind into the fully opened Heart. This is Self Realisation.

Many of the teachers claim Ramana Maharshi as their lineage, often displaying his photo prestigiously, but are not at all erudite in his Teaching. Often the Teaching is stripped of its devotional content. Some merely pass over him and are content to be the sole authority. To give ‘satsang’ in Arunachala gives some Teachers added credence. How has this fundamental fallacy come about? Why is it so attractive to mostly young contemporary Westerners, that they are content to by-pass Self Enquiry, Devotion and the Surrender of the ‘false self’ or ‘ego’ to the Real Self or God, and so hand over all the cares and responsibilities of their lives, with great faith, before entering the spiritual life?

This advanced teaching of ‘no effort needed’ drawn from advanced Advaita and Cha’an Buddhism [the Sudden Awakening School] has slipped in as the fundamental Neo-Advaita pointer. It is then easy for the radically skeptical Western mind to accept this lazy way in our micro wave culture of wanting instant gratification now, instead of having to work at studying the Teachings of the great Sources of the contemporary Advaita Renaissance, Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, Adi Shankara and other great Sages. Nor do they need to develop some power of attention and concentration. Nor does Hindu terminology have to be understood, and the traditional language assimilated even in translation. This demands study and effort. The making of an effort can arise without a sense of personal doership just as one makes efforts in life spontaneously when needed, from the vital energy. It is said that we are utterly helpless and there is nothing we can do, but this ignores the All powerful Self and the Grace which starts to flow as a response to the initial and persistent effort of Self Enquiry and Surrender. The idea that this ‘awakening’ may not be immediate does not appeal to the current desire for materialistic instant satisfaction. Hedonism, without pain, dominates Western culture, religious values are at a low ebb, and a humanistic teaching is much more appealing.

Besides it lets the Teacher off the hook. He can dispense with advising on Sadhana altogether. Peace and quiet is preferable to Sadhana as the prerequisite for Enlightenment. This has a therapeutic value. In addition the idea of a ‘living Teacher ‘is appealing. It is not understood that the Supreme Guru, the Jivan Mukti who has left the body, is still available both in the Heart as the Sat-Guru within or as Absolute Consciousness, the Deathless Unborn Self, beyond the mind. But to reach the Sat-Guru inwardly needs the effort of turning inwards and this is not a popular word to use, although effort is applicable in every other walk of life. The Neo-Advaitins claim there is no one there to make any effort. This is absurd. The energy for the wish for liberation arises and the intelligent part of the ‘phantom ego’ begins Self Enquiry and its support practices leading to one pointedness. If there was no one there to make effort, how does any work get achieved on this planet at all? Self Enquiry needs preparation, as David Frawley has pointed out in his excellent books on Advaita and articles in the Mountain Path. Self Enquiry may not yield an immediate perceivable result. It commences a graceful process of removing the obstacle of obscuration to the Realisation of the Real Self. To borrow metaphors from the Gospels, the Kingdom of Heaven within is the pearl of great price. It has to be earned by earnest enquiry and surrender. The real purpose of Life in this birth is not merely to enjoy oneself in sensual pleasure but to summon the necessary effort to remove the phantom ego’s sense of separation and identification with the mind, thoughts feelings and body. “If the blind lead the blind both shall fall into the ditch.” It is truly a marvel of Maya that some Neo-Advaita teachers can state personal views which suggest that their knowledge is more profound than that of the Maharshi.

It must be said that this Essay is a generalisation based on visiting the many Neo-Advaita teachers who come to or are resident in London, and seeing videos of others in the USA and elsewhere. My criticisms do not apply equally to all. Each one has his or her own emphases, angularities, and delineations, but the basic thrust of my reservations are generally applicable.

However, Neo-Advaita, no matter how faulty and incomplete, has a distinct advantage. It can serve as an introduction to the true Advaita Teaching. Flawed as Neo-Advaita may be, it undermines ‘the phantom ego’ intellectually at least, after several satsangs. At its best it is a partial surrender , but without full devotional content, and therefore cannot lead to total surrender when the mental occlusion is absorbed in the Heart . One can only accept that the Neo-Advaitin movement with its proliferating teachers and burgeoning web sites is here to stay, although some have prophesised that the tide is beginning to turn and that many are now beginning to earnestly enquire into Ramana’s Teaching. Nevertheless, Neo-Advaita is a necessary part of ‘what is’ and as an aspect of the divine plan has its place as a preliminary introduction. It is therefore a valid, if imperfect stepping stone, for those who are ready and mature enough to walk on to true Advaita, instead of just reclining half way up the Mount Arunachala.

Allow Sri Bhagavan to have the last word on this question….”There must be human effort to discard them [vasanas]….how could God be expected to be favourable towards you without your striving for it'” [Letters pg 151].

alan
Life is a pure flame, and we live
by an invisible Sun within us.

Alan Jacobs is Chairman of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK , A Moderator of Ramana Maharshi and Atma Vichara at Yahoo Groups, author of The Bhagavad Gita a Poetic Transcreation and The Principal Upanishads A Poetic Transcreation . He is also a professional Life Coach. You can find his website at www.creativelifecoaching.org

This article published with permission from The Mountain Path.
Image of entrance to Virupaksha Cave courtesy of Gabriele Ebert.

Bobby G’s Mardi Gras Beans and Rice: By Bobby Graham

rize

Now Cher, at Mardi Gras, you want to be sure to get some nutrition without dat unwanted bloating and sluggish crawfish feeling you can get from all dem rich Nu’Awlins high class fixin’s. I am told by my nutritionist dat beans complements rice in supplying a lot of amino acids. So even if it ain’t Mardi Gras and you got to go out to check da traps or whatever, dis here will fix y’all up, Cher.

Take one pound of red beans (kidney shaped) or pintos and soak ’em for a few hours, maybe overnight, den drain em. If you don’t presoak then just add another hour of cookin time.

In a bean-filled cooker add two level teaspoons a salt and enough water to cover the beans about a inch. Now I put more salt in mine, cause dat’s a lot of beans.

Cover and cook on low heat a hour. Then add six bay leaves. (The good ones if you please). That good bay leaf flavor start coming out on low heat, Cher, so keep a very slow boil.

Do not, I repeat do not, put any onions in the pot with the beans. It will influence the spices we gonna add in a negatory fashion.

Oh yeah, keep checkin and adding water so it’s over dem beans, Cher. So go on and cook another hour until you can smell dem beans and dat sauce is a little brown.

Put in the spices now. I used to put in a lot of different ones until I read the label on something call ‘Curry’. It had my spices in it already. So that’s what I use now but I put in a couple of pinches of dill seeds too because I like pickle.

How much curry spice you say, Cher?

One rounded (not heaping) teaspoon. Now you want to add two tablespoons of hot sauce and quarter teaspoon black pepper to invite reluctant taste buds to open up. Some people put in two tablespoons of vegetable oil or butter to give it a greasy look or should I say, to make it more visually enticing? You see what I mean when you ladle it over dat rice.

Start your rice. I use the brown stuff.

Stir in da spices good and cook another hour makin’ sure dem beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and boin. That is three hours of cookn in all, but I got a friend that learned from Paul Prudhomme when he was cookin at the Maison De’Puy over on Dauphine, and he simmers his all day. I tell you I get hungry smelling dem beans and can’t wait.

So anyways, that sauce is gonna be good and thick if you don’t put too much water in. But boinin’ is out of the question. You can’t tell by lookin at the boilin’ pot if you have too much water because dem beans float to the top.

mardi gras

So, anyways, figger it out so they’s actually about a half of a inch of water over dem beans when they not floatin. That sauce be good and thick, Cher, and it soak dat rice in a flavor worthy of Mardi Gras Kings and Queens. Beans is da simplest of foods and the most noble. It ain’t hard, so bon appetit and laissez les bon temps roulez. Cher.

Love
Bobby G.

P.S. It is common to have some fresh French bread and margarine to eat with it and sop it up. Hot sauce-add a lot too. Umm umm umm.

Bob Graham

Bob Graham is a long time contributor to both the HarshaSatsangh and NondualitySalon mailing lists. He is an established painter. His paintings can be seen in the Spring 2002 edition of HarshaSatsangh Magazine.

Where Did the Ten Pounds of Flesh Go? By Antoine Carre

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About seven years ago, I went to bed one night after an ordinary day, only to wake up two hours later with ten pounds less on my body. This represented 5.4% of my initial weight. I did not urinate, defecate or vomit during that two hour sleep period. Perspiration was normal. So where did the ten pounds of flesh go?

Science has no explanation for it. In some extreme cases, the flesh-eating bacteria may cause such a loss in such a small period of time. The flesh-eating bacteria simply transform the flesh into scrap. But I didn’t have these bacteria; there was no scrap, my body was intact. I simply lost ten pounds of weight, while sleeping, in less than two hours. Where did it vanish? Go wonder…

The next day, just to play it safe, I went for a medical exam, knowing my life was not in danger (at that point in the morning). Except for the ten missing pounds, and this look of death I had on my face, all was OK, according the generalist doctor.

From a more subjective point of view, here is a bit more of what led up the ten pounds weight loss. During that period I was exploring, and pushing, for fun, the programming done in deep sleep, mostly in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) states. In those two hours of sleep, the elephant of my waking consciousness was going to walk on the so-subtle world of the ants. My waking consciousness was going to try to have a dialogue with the unconscious life of my individual cells. (Still laughing at myself here.)

During that same period, I had been exploring ways to merge with others on the body level from a distance–mostly with my beloved of that period, with whom the “tuning” was deeper than our consciousness was aware. And there was the remaining influence felt from Wing Chun Kung Fu, which worked deeply with the power of attention and the body on many levels.

So that night I went to bed, allowing, as I had been doing for a year then, for all the cells of my body to resonate with those of another person, living on the other side of the continent. I got more and more attuned to that person, knowing when she was sad, happy, healthy, or less healthy, etc. Not just knowing—literally feeling.

The problem, that night, was that the person with whom I got attuned had gone into a focused meditation with someone else. I did not know this would happen so I did not retract my attention from merging with someone else, before going to sleep.

My body was not as well-attuned on a cell level to that of the third person involved. It’s then that what happened, happened. I woke up in a dream inside the REM state, my body completely paralyzed. And from that state of consciousness, I could watch the conflict occur on the DNA vibration level, meeting another one with which I was not in tune. I lost ten pounds–pfffff!—it simply vanished into thin air. Not in a few hours, but in a few seconds. The act of my day-to-day consciousness looking at the DNA vibration of the cells brought this on almost instantly. On the objective side, I know I weighed ten pounds more before going to sleep than when I woke up. My scales were there to testify to it. But on the subjective level, I am sure they were lost just in the few seconds of waking up.

With a great inner struggle, I was able to come out of the paralyzed state in Rapid Eye Movement, which stopped the process of ‘disintegration’ (I never could think of a Name for that experience). To give an image, I felt as if I was caught in a completely sealed room, with the energy inside equivalent to a nuclear reaction. Each cell of the body felt as if it wanted to burst open, liberating all its energy.

Waking up, I had to go deep within to stop this process of disintegration. I had to find a deep calm within, behind the cells, behind the atomic structure, behind my body-mind, to show it the peace of a night sky, with no super nova in it.

Maybe this process of body ‘disintegration’ is tied to the process used in the story of Jesus or Milarepa after their death, when they dissolve their body in thin air. I don’t really know. And I don’t seek to understand it, really. Maybe it’s tied to Shri Aurobindo saying someplace, something like, “the ego of humankind is opening faster and faster, but gradually and integrally. Yet just open the ego of a cell and it will explode.”

It took me two months to regain my normal weight. Since then, I stopped merging with others over distance. I learned to respect the ego-body of each. I also learned, from experimenting with it, that the body is just a projection of the mind. A nice one, I might say, a divine temple, but a projection nonetheless.

Humbly,

Antoine


Text edited by Jill Eggers.




Mazie Lane responds…Hey, Where’d I Go?

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Dearest Antoine,

This strange and unbelievable phenomenon happened to me and my body, too, back in the mid-eighties. I was at a get-together of the Self-Realization Fellowship devotees, disciples and students of Paramahansa Yogananda, my Gurudeva.

I was about twenty or more pounds over-weight at the time, that being about 142 pounds. The day was normal-I ate normally, acted normally; in other words, nothing un-normal happened that would lead me to suspect something like this was about to happen.

Of course, there were the deep meditations, the kirtans and the lectures, and the also the films preserved of Yoganandaji in them, but that was not unusual for me.

I went to bed that night in the hotel room, a room I shared with a friend from France, Enid Moine who lived at the time in Poitiers. When I awoke, something “felt” different, I felt, well, lighter. I could not believe my eyes nor my hands touching and exploring and saying, “Hey, where’d I go?”

Where I did go was to the floor with the gym and I weighed in. What astonishment, even after realizing that something was entirely different… seeing by the numbers right before my eyeballs bugging out – I had lost overnight while sleeping, over twenty pounds. I am seriously telling you that this is exactly what happened.

Thanks, Antoine, for bringing this up and recalling back to my mind, the same kind of weird and wonderful experience with body/mind bringing out the stops and somehow, wow, just dissolving it.

Love,

Mazie

Antoine Carre has been a member of HarshaSatsangh for many years. He lives in Canada. You can find his website at http://www3.sympatico.ca/antoine.carre/

“All spiritual teachings are only meant to make us retrace our steps to our Original Source.” From The Essential teachings of Ramana Maharshi, A visual Journey.
http://www3.sympatico.ca/antoine.carre/maharshi.htm

Click here for Mazie Lane’s Photography and bio.

What is the Nature of Light? By Joyce Know_Mystery

2

A few years ago, I had a damaged heart and was about to have a stent implanted during cardiac catheterization. At the time I was enrolled in a study of a new treatment to prevent arteries from closing up after surgery (as they so often tend to do) at Mass General Hospital. The new process used a tiny probe with a tiny laser threaded into the heart to do this.

I did a lot of research about heart damage and treatment options and alternatives to the surgery before agreeing to participate. I learned that not a lot of research had been done using women, and the statistics showed that successful outcomes for women were significantly worse than those for men.

Men experience heart symptoms at a younger age than do women, and when women have symptoms, they are often of a different sort. Doctors often don’t consider heart disease when women’s symptoms first occur, which means that women are often initially given the wrong diagnosis and the wrong treatment.

While our spiritual heart is infinite in size, and boundless, women’s physical hearts are significantly smaller than men’s (unless they have become enlarged from disease). The surgical instruments have been designed for use on the larger male hearts and circulatory system, and that may also have a bearing on the poorer outcomes for women and children.

Before concluding that the surgery was necessary, the doctors did many tests – from EKG to echocardiogram to thallium nuclear imaging (cardiac SPECT) to stress tests (which they had to stop when abnormal EKG signs showed up), and others over a period of many weeks. The assorted tests were done by different doctors – not just from one medical practice – and they all showed significant artery damage (and a small valve problem).The language on the results of the thallium SPECT scan used the word “massive” to describe the effects of the blockage. All the doctors interpreting the tests agreed that surgery was necessary. I obtained second and third and fourth opinions.

So there I was – the research showed worse outcomes for women and a significant chance that even with a stent the artery would close up again and it would need to be removed and replaced in time – sometimes as early as 6 months. And the research also showed that an inadequate amount of information was available on women’s heart disease and treatment because most of the research had been done on men. And there I was, with all of these Harvard doctors saying there was no choice for me but to have the surgery. And there I was reading about the possible complications – the worst being an adverse cardiac event, a euphemism for sudden death in the consent forms to enroll for the test of the new procedure.

For me, the decision was pretty straightforward – I decided to go ahead and participate in the experimental trial of the cardiac cath with laser light, despite the risks.

Why?

It was an opportunity to serve other women. It was an opportunity to contribute whatever my heart would tell them to the body of research into heart disease… to do “something” about the fact that the bulk of the research involves the male heart by adding my heart to their studies.

I remember the first time I saw a laser demonstration years ago. One night, I watched as they aimed a laser beam from a big laser in our high school parking lot out across the highway to a target on a hill a mile away. And now they are aiming laser beams from within the arteries of our hearts, using the focused light to heal.

I did a quick search on BrainBoost to find out when lasers were invented. What I found was this:

1958: Arthur L. Schawlow and Charles H. Townes invent the laser, then publish “Infrared and Optical Masers” in the American Physical Society’s Physical Review. The paper describes the basic principles of the laser, initiating this new scientific field.”

In 1958, lasers were considered “a new scientific field”, and now they are accepted, taken for granted and used widely. Before1958, if someone said that one day doctors could thread a wire with a healing light beam from an incision in your groin up into your heart … would anyone have believed them?

About the outcome of that cardiac adventure? I am still here. In fact, I have a healthy heart – only a couple of electrical problems, but no coronary artery disease today.

And this is a true story:

The day of the surgery, I was all prepped and waiting my turn there on the gurney in the catacombs underneath Mass General, electrodes all over, watching the EKG monitor and the pattern of the green lines and meditating to maintain calm. I was focusing on the idea of “the incredible healingness of light” – it had been a sort of mantra I used for a couple of weeks before then, and I had written about it in my journal letters.

After a while, an intense heat erupted from deep within and I could feel an enormous glowing in my chest, around my heart. There was a profound flushing sensation unlike any I have experienced before or since and my skin from my face to my torso turned bright red, as though I had been exposed to direct sunlight for hours and had a bad sunburn.

The doctors and nurses gathered around and looked at my skin so red and so hot and said “no surgery for you” until whatever is going on stops. That was in the morning. They kept me there and watched. And I kept on with the mantra.

By around 3:30 that afternoon, my skin color was back to normal and they again prepped me for the procedure and wheeled me into the OR. They turned on the overhead monitor – like an old fashioned black and white CRT for a computer – so I could watch. They gave me some morphine for the pain but no sedation. They injected a dye so the circulatory system inside the heart could be seen and then threaded the guide wire up into my heart from a tiny incision in my groin. I watched the wire snaking it’s way up through my upper chest and then into my heart.

And there on the overhead monitor, the two doctors and I saw it at the same time – a healthy heart… no blockages at all, no clogged arteries.

There are things that I have experienced in life that I believe show traces of the hand of God and the beauty and mystery of the universe. Giving birth to my daughter. The sense of connection with “all that is” that I have known standing on the hill watching meteors. Staring eye to eye with that beautiful grey heron last month. And looking inside my own beating heart on that monitor…

So what happened? How could a heart which was diagnosed with a massive blockage suddenly appear healthy and whole? Was the initial diagnosis wrong? We’ve all looked at this.

The fact is that ALL of the standard diagnostic tests pointed to the same thing. It would be easy to say it was a misdiagnosis if one or two of the tests were wrong, but what are the odds that ALL of them were wrong?

The fact is that ALL of the tests were performed over a series of several weeks. If they had all been performed at around the same time, maybe some sort of transient condition had happened and then resolved itself. But what are the odds that separate tests performed over an extended time period and consistently reflecting the same results are ALL wrong?

The fact is that ALL of the tests were performed by different physicians at different facilities and none of them had been informed of the results of any of the other tests by their colleagues, so they could not have been influenced by each other’s diagnoses. My primary care doctor coordinated the assorted tests. What are the odds that doctors at different facilities working independently came up with the same results and they were ALL wrong?

The doctors never did come up with an explanation for how they ALL could have been mistaken. I don’t think they were mistaken, myself. I saw the test results – the EKG strips while they were being done and also afterwards. I saw the images from the echocardiogram. I saw the pics from the nuclear SPECT test. And so did all the doctors afterwards. What we saw there appeared to be real and present.

What do I think explained the suddenly healthy state of my heart? I think it is this: “the incredible healingness of light.”

1

joyce know_mystery is an activist and poet and nature photographer. She is a contributing editor to NDHighlights, and some of her poetry and photos can be found on the Deep_Well forum. She is frequently in residence on the HolyGeek forum, home of Spiritual Computing. She has been a practitioner of Vipassana meditation since the early 80s and experienced a profound epiphany in 1983. An admitted astronomy geek, she has said about watching meteor showers “I’m a sucker for the moon and the stars…At moments like that, I’m inevitably drawn to thoughts of people throughout the ages staring heavenward at the mystery unfolding. I feel irrevocably connected with the universe in a way more profound than any religious experience inside any church building.” She lives near Boston, where she works in publishing and talks with the herons and hawks and other things with wings.

Photographs courtesy of Joyce Sweinberg

One is A Verb: By Sam Pasiencier, Ph.D.

tulips

The word Advaita literally means ‘not two’. Two is duality. I, and a separate world. Advaita is the teaching of non-separation. In Dutch they say ‘van de een komt het ander’, ‘from the one comes the other’. So, before we can say two, we have to be able to say one. The number one begins the counting process.

If you look in a dictionary you will see that the word ‘one’ is classified as a noun or pronoun. I would like to make it clear to you that it is in fact a verb, One’ing. Understanding that will make many other things clear.

Once upon a time you were a little baby and the apple of your parent’s eyes because you were so cute, (you looked just like them), and so smart, and they wanted very much to turn you into a human being with all the appropriate capacities like walking, talking, going to the toilet all by yourself, and counting. They carried you down the stairs and counted the steps, one, two, three, etc. Or Papa held up some fingers and asked you ‘how many?’ (They still do that with drunks and pathological cases I think).

Mama used to play a little game with your edible toes, this little piggy went to market, this little pig stayed home, etc. Little by little your body parts were labeled and counted so you ‘knew’ that you have one nose, two ears, two arms, etc. The process of counting began with your very body.

All of this took place in the undifferentiated consciousness that you were. Little by little you were able to differentiate, first Mama and Papa and gradually other things like cats, and sisters.

What you learned with Papa on the stairs was a list of sounds. One, two three… uno, dos, tres… And they were very proud if you could get up to five or six without making any mistakes because basically the list is arbitrary.. In India it is ek, do, teen, char, panch. It could just as well be oble, goble, gooey, luk.. Again, at this point it is only a list of sounds. That is not yet counting. Another list of sounds is the alphabet: a, b, c, etc. but we do not associate that with how many of something we have. We don’t say I have t pairs of socks. But we could in another system.

The first step towards counting is separating, differentiating, focusing on something to the exclusion of everything else. If you imagine yourself to be on Venus looking at a totally strange scene that you have never seen before, you might not be able to tell where something begins and something else ends. That is not so difficult to imagine I think.

In computer language this first step is ‘selecting’. It is isolating, seeing as separate, pointing. Only after performing this activity can we say something like there are ‘three’ eggs on the table. The table has ‘four’ legs and so on. To count larger amounts we have to go through the process of separating and naming repeatedly until all that we wanted to count is exhausted. To count seventeen of something (unless you are Dustin Hoffman in the Rainman) you have to go point-one, point-two, point-three, etc, until you come to point-seventeen.

If this is all clear now I would like to say that counting is the act of one’ing over and over. And one’ing is the act of separating, thus of creating duality where there was unity. I’m not saying that this is bad in and of itself. In fact it is necessary and utilitarian. Ordering three cups of coffee would be very difficult without it. It is convenient, but not the reality.

Learning this one’ing you also learned to consider yourself as separate from the whole. Counting began with your very body. Some primitive tribes count up to nineteen on fingers and toes and twenty is called ‘the whole Indian’.

I hope that it is also clear that this one’ing is a verb, an activity, only you learned it so long ago and so deeply that you do not remember that it is an activity and it all happens automatically. But in fact if I ask you to find one of something now you will first select it with your vision. And so the act of one’ing is also the act of objectifying, of creating separate objects. It is a verb.

Taking one to be a noun has certain consequences. It creates a static world in which process is forgotten. It creates a world in which you begin to think of yourself as a noun, with describable qualities. It is part of the forgetting of who we really are. Remembering that we are a process, a verb, and not a static thing, a one, is also remembering the wonder that we are, and that we are being lived.

We have been taught, at least in our Western culture that we are separate. Advaita tries in every possible way to remind us of our unity, that the one that we take ourselves mistakenly to be is in fact the whole. The whole is the only thing that has the right to be called One. And it is so in many religions. The One. The Absolute. When you were taught to count you were also subtly taught to objectify your body, as you also learned to objectify the cat and your sister and your little red car. Remembering that you are ‘objectifying’, ‘one’ing’ seems to very difficult, you learned it like bike riding, hard to forget. Try doing it deliberately, taking the automatic out of it. It may help to remind you that you are the Consciousness selecting.

sam

Sam Pasiencier was born in Havana, Cuba. His parents had emigrated there from Poland. In 1942 they fulfilled a long-standing wish to be reunited with their families and moved to Portland, Maine. Sam received his Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in mathematics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and later his Ph.D in Mathematics from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. While living in New York teaching at NYU Sam experienced a powerful satori that was to change his life. He retrained as a Bioenergetics Therapist and later went to Poona where he took Sannyas from Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh as he was then called. He lived in various Osho communes in Canada, Oregon and Holland and eventually settled in Amersfoort, Holland where he now resides. You can find more of Sam’s photos at his website:

http://home.hccnet.nl/sam.pas/heres_looking/index.html

Raasa LeelA: By Professor V Krishnamurthy

radha-krishnaThe fervent devotion to Krishna of the celebrated milk-maids (Gopis or Gopikas) of Brindavan, and particularly of RadhA the most prominent of them all, is the best example of mAdhura-bhakti (Devotion through Love) for all time. There is a large variety of legends and representations of this bhakti in painting and sculpture that spreads through every part of India. The first poetic expression of the RadhA-Krishna story was in the Gita-GovindaM of Jayadeva (12th century A.D.). The principal character in that poem is RadhA, the beloved of Krishna. She spoke no word except prayer. She moved no step except towards Krishna. She saw and heard only Krishna. She spoke only of Him, to Him, for Him, whoever might be in her vicinity. Krishna filled her heart entirely. This magnificent poem is held in high respect and is sung all over India particularly in congregatory singing of Bhajans, the singers often reaching heights of ecstasy. This lyrical extravaganza of Jayadeva is delightful poetry without inhibitions. It is at the very center of religious poetry in the Bhakti tradition, though it may be considered erotic from a Victorian viewpoint. It is venerated as God’s own writing. The singing and dancing associated with this poem are so absorbing not only in its music and rhythm but also in its lyric that describes the love-sport of Radha and Krishna.

What is the origin or source of all this? Is it Jayadeva’s imagination, fancy or invention? No. It all goes back to Shrimad BhagavataM of Vyasa. In the tenth skanda of Bhagavatam, there are five chapters (#s 29 to 33) known as ‘RAsa-panchAdhyAyi’. These five chapters describe the Raas LeelA of Krishna with the Gopis of Brindavan. But wait, before we come to that, we must tune our minds the right way in order to appreciate it all.

So let us go back to the famous story of Krishna’s theft of the clothes of the Gopis while they were bathing in the river. (Bhagavatam, Skanda X, Ch.22). It looks like an immoral story, with a child of six as the central figure. It is spoken of as though he were a full-grown man, insulting the modesty of women. Look at Annie Besant’s handling of this story. She writes:

‘The Gopis were Rishis, and the Lord Supreme as a babe is teaching them a lesson. But there is more than that. There is a profound occult lesson behind the story. When the Soul is approaching the Supreme Lord at one great stage of initiation, it has to pass through a great ordeal. Stripped of everything on which it has hitherto relied, stripped of everything that is not its inner self, deprived of all external aid, of all external protection, of all external covering, the soul itself, in its own inherent life, must stand naked and alone, with nothing to rely on save the life of the Self within it. If it flinches before the ordeal, if it clings to anything to which it has hitherto looked for help, if in the supreme hour, it cries out for friend or help, or even the Guru himself, the soul fails in that ordeal. Naked and alone it must go forth, with absolutely none to aid it save the divinity within itself. And it is that nakedness of the soul as it approaches the supreme goal, that is told of in that story’.

This defence of the conceptual fabric of Hindu spirituality is important for the proper understanding of the Raas LeelA of Krishna. In addition, there is another perspective that should never be missed in any discussion of the Raas LeelA. It is the divinity of Krishna himself.

The first description of His birth comes to us from the pen of Vyasa himself in his famous Bhagavatam. It was on that Ashtami day after Shravan Poornima, when the moon was in the asterism Rohini that Krishna was born in that famous prison of Kamsa of Mathura. According to the hair-raising description of that birth in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, tenth canto, third chapter, it was in the dense darkness of that fateful night, the Lord appeared – mark the word, appeared, not born – as an unusual child from the womb of Devaki, just like the moon rising on the eastern horizon! Oh, what a sight it was! Continues the BhagavataM: (X – 3 -9,10):

“tam-adbhutaM bAlakam-ambujekshhaNaM
catur-bhujaM shankha-gadAry-udAyudhaM /
shrIvatsa-lakshhmaM gala-shobhi-kaustubhaM
pItAmbaraM sAndra-payoda-saubhagaM //
mahArha-vaiDUrya-kirITa-kuNDala-
tvishhA parishhvakta-sahasra-kuntalaM /
uddAma-kAnchy-angada-kankaNAdibhiH
virAjamAnaM vasudeva aikshhata” //

vishnu

meaning, Vasudeva saw that wonderful child with four hands, holding a conch, a mace, a chakra and a lotus; with Srivatsa emblem on His chest; with Kaustubha gem on the neck; with cloth of golden hue; as beautiful as the blue water-filled cloud; with dense hair flowing around amidst the adornments of crown and ear-rings radiant with precious gems; and excellently brilliant with bracelets around the hip and arms.

Either you believe in all this or you don’t. If you don’t believe in all this then Raas LeelA of Krishna is also a fiction in the imagination of Vyasa and there is nothing more to discuss except some poetry in the literature. If you believe in all this, then Raas-LeelA of Krishna should also be believed to be true. Not only should it be believed to be a true happening but you also get a justification for it. So when doubts arise as to the good or bad of Raas LeelA, remember, you have accepted that the birth of Krishna in the above manner is true and that means Krishna is the all-powerful Absolute Divine.

A discussion of Raas-LeelA thinking that Krishna was an ordinary person like you and me is a misnomer and a non-issue. We shall not enter the discussion of Raas-LeelA that way. We shall only discuss Raas-LeelA, with the full conviction that Krishna is the Absolute Transcendental Divinity that is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Lacking this conviction we would have denied ourselves the fundamental eligibility to discuss Raas LeelA, and more so the prerequisites to be able to appreciate it.

Now let us come to the actual story part. Remember Krishna was a ten-year old boy at that time. Probably even less. The Gopis of Brindavan did a month-long Katyayani vrata. The purpose: To get Lord Krishna as their husband (pati, in Sanskrit). The vrata itself was a very complicated one: Bathing in the Yamuna at daybreak, making an image of the Goddess Parvati with sand on the river bank and worshipping Her with all the formalities. It was at the end of this month-long worship, the incident (as described earlier) of the robbing of their clothes by the Lord happened. The Lord chastised them that they had no business to bathe naked in the river, particularly when they were supposed to be engaged in this Katyayani vrata. After telling them that his treatment of them was in punishment of their misbehaviour, he gave them back their clothes; but also promised them that very soon their desire for sporting with the Lord, for which they did the Katyayani vrata, would be fulfilled. And in this context, he makes a very important statement which is significant for our understanding of the Ras Leela:

‘In the case of whomsoever that has turned their minds towards Me, the desire or lust that thereby arises in them would not result in bad, just as a fried or baked seed would not sprout again’ (X -22 – 26):

na may-yAveshita-dhiyAM kAmaH kAmAya kalpate /
bharjitA kathitA dhAnA prAyo bIjAya neshhyate //

Note: Recall that all books of Vedanta tell us how a man of wisdom (Brahma-jnAni) has no karma chasing him, because they are like a fried seed in his case and it will not sprout!

The night of that fulfillment arrived in the autumn following. The requisites for the divine play were all created by Him by His mAyA. “yogamAyAm-upAshritaH” (resorting to His yoga-mAyA) says the text (10-29-1). On that moonlit night, His melodious note on His flute, played in the woodlands adjoining the Yamuna, went all the way to the ears of the gopis and enraptured them. It pleasantly distracted every one and everything from normal activity and enchanted them to revel in ecstasy. Even shrubs and trees, flowers and leaves, birds and animals ‘stood enchanted’ with that rapturous divine musical rendering.

gopis

No sooner the Gopis heard the music of His flute, than they were all captivated by the symphony of joy that emanated from it. They came from all sides to the spot where He was playing the flute. Some were milking their cows, some were serving food to their husbands, some were keeping busy with their cosmetics, some were cleaning their houses, — but all of them dropped their work just where it was and ran towards Krishna. Their husbands, brothers and parents did try to stop them but of no avail. The minds of the Gopis had been lured away by the music of the flute and by the thought of Lord Krishna and they forgot all about themselves.

Some of the gopis, however, could not manage to get out of their houses, and instead they remained home with eyes closed, meditating upon Him in pure love. For these gopis the intolerable separation from their beloved caused an intense agony that burned away all impious karma (“tIvra-pApa-dhutA-shubhAH” – X-29-10). By meditating upon Him they realized His embrace, and the ecstasy they then felt exhausted their material piety. Although Lord Krishna is the Supreme Soul, these girls simply thought of Him as their lover and associated with Him in that intimate mood. Thus their karmic bondage was nullified and they abandoned, as it were, their gross material bodies.

At this point, King Parikshit asks a pertinent question to Sage Suka who is narrating the story: O sage, the gopis knew Krishna only as their lover, not as the Supreme Absolute Truth. So how could these girls, their minds caught up in the waves of worldly love, free themselves from material attachment? And the Rishi replies: Since even Sisupala, who hated Krishna, achieved perfection, then what to speak of the Lord’s dear devotees. The Supreme Lord is inexhaustible and immeasurable, and He is untouched by Prakrti because He is its controller. His personal appearance in this world is meant for bestowing the highest benefit on humanity. Persons who constantly direct their lust, anger, fear, protective affection, feeling of impersonal oneness or friendship toward Lord Hari are sure to become absorbed in thought of Him. You should not be so astonished, Oh King, because you are the unique one who had the benefit of seeing His beatific presence even while you were in your mother’s womb. (X-29-13 to 16).

Krishna saw them all coming, and when they had gathered, he told them to go back. He waved them back saying that their first duty was in their home with their husbands and relatives. He says: “I know you have ties of attachment for Me. It is but proper. All creatures in the world will find delight in Me (‘prIyante mayi jantavaH’ : X-29-23). But your duty is elsewhere. For a woman from a respectable family, petty adulterous affairs are always condemned. They bar her from heaven, ruin her reputation and bring her difficulty and fear”. And He ends this sermon by making a famous declaration (X-29-27) which He himself repeats later:

shravaNAt darshanAt dhyAnAt mayi bhAvo’nukIrtanAt /
na tathA sannikarshheNa pratiyAta tato gRhAn // meaning,

“Transcendental love for Me arises by the devotional processes of hearing about Me, seeing My Deity form, meditating on Me and faithfully chanting My glories. The same result is not achieved by mere physical proximity. So please go back to your homes”.

vishnuBut the Gopis don’t listen. To his argument that their duty is to their husbands and families, they reply that He is the pati, the husband of the entire world and therefore of them all, and so their first duty is to Him. “Not only that, Oh Lord, our minds which were all along with our families and our work have now been totally captivated by You. Our hands and feet are not ours. Our minds are not ours. They are all yours. They refuse to do any work which is not directed at You. So don’t throw us back. Deign to accept us as your servants”. And they were steadfast in this determination. Seeing their steadfastness, Krishna decided to please them.

iti viklavitaM tAsAM shrutvA yogeshvareshvaraH /
Prahasya sadayaM gopIH AtmArAmo’pyarIramat // X-29-42

Smiling upon hearing these despondent words from the gopîs, Lord Krishna, the supreme master of all masters of mystic yoga, mercifully satisfied them, although He is Himself Self-satisfied.

gopisHe was Himself AtmArAma, that is One who is fulfilled in Himself, by Himself for Himself. He has nothing to obtain which He does not already have. (cf. nAnavAptam-avAptavyam, … Gita III-22). When He thus moved in intimate terms with the Gopis, very soon they thought highly of themselves. They thought they were the greatest women on Earth. And the Lord became aware of their pride and arrogant thought, and intending to bless them with the right kind of spirituality, immediately vanished!

And then begins a long wailing and searching, by the Gopis. They could not stand this separation from the Lord. They lose their head and become really mad for Him. This is called the experience of ‘viraha’, separation. It is said by all exponenets of bhakti that the highest form of bhakti is the experience of this viraha from the Lord. We think we are all very devoted to God. But do we feel the pangs of separation from Him as the gopis felt?

People say God does not take the offering we give Him ; but do we offer it the way Sabari offered Him? [ “lok kahte hai bhagwAn khAte nahiM; kyA haM shabarI kI taraH khilAte haim?” ].

People say that God does not come to our rescue; but do we call Him with that conviction and pangs of anxiety that was characteristic of Draupadi’s call? [ “lok kahte hai bhagwAn Ate nahiM; kyA haM draupadI kI taraH bulAte haiM?”].

People say that God does not bless us; but do we love Him with that intensity of Radha’s love? [“lok kahte hai bhagwaan prasAd karte nahiM; kyA ham rAdhA kI tarah pyAr karte haiM?”].

gopisTo continue our story. The Gopis keep roaming about in the woods, searching for Him. In the process of this roaming, they identify the footsteps of their Lord and try to follow those footsteps. Lo and behold! They do not find their Lord but they find one more pair of footsteps side by side with the Lord’s footsteps! And they look at it carefully. They recognize it as a woman’s footsteps. Their jealousy knows no bounds. How come!

One of their own group, has found it possible to be with the Lord and is now enjoying the privilege of His company all alone! What a supreme fortunate circumstance for her! She must be the most beloved of Krishna among all of them!

On the other hand that single gopi who was with Krishna had an interesting experience. She certainly enjoys the company of the Lord, all alone. But that very enjoyment puffs up her head and she tries to aspire for more of the Lord than the others. Instead of walking up along with the Lord, she suggests to Him that He may carry her on His shoulders, and to her great satisfaction the Lord agrees to do that. He says “Alright, get up on my shoulders” and he poses for her. But when she attempts to climb up on His shoulders, He is no more there – He has vanished! That was the end of her puffed up pride! And the rest of the company joins her now and together they all search for the Lord.

Incidentally, this single gopi is perhaps the Radha of later literature. The name Radha does not occur in the Bhagavatam.

When finally the moon went behind the clouds and there was no more moonlight, they all returned to their starting place and spent their time talking about Krishna. Their minds absorbed in thoughts of Him, they conversed about Him, acted out His pastimes and felt themselves filled with His presence. They no more remembered their homes as they loudly sang the glories of Krishna’s transcendental qualities: The shloka which says this, namely,

tan-manaskAs-tad-AlApAs-tad-viceshhTAs-tad-AtmikAH /
tad-guNAn-eva gAyantyaH nAtmAgArANi sasmaruH // X-30-43

is one of the most famous quotes from Shrimad Bhagavatam, because it characterises the supreme prema-bhakti of the Gopis. It is considered to be at the apex of all bhakti forms. In fact, it reflects exactly what Krishna himself describes in the Gita (V-17):

tad-buddhayas-tad-AtmAnas-tan-nishhTAs-tat-parAyaNAH /
gacchanty-apunar-AvRttiM jnAna-nirdhUta-kalmashhAH //
meaning,

Those who have their intellect absorbed in That, whose Self is That, who are steadfast in That, who have That as their supreme Goal-they attain the state of non-returning, their dirt having been removed by Knowledge.

This kind of total absorption in God is the ultimate in Bhakti. That is why the Gopis are cited as the supreme example of self-effacing bhakti. There have been several types of devotees all over time and all over the world. But the Lord values only such selfless bhakti. The bhakti of the gopis is unique in all of history, because, they did not achieve that kind of superlative approbation from the Lord by any of the usual means of spiritual living, namely, charity, ritual sacrifice, ritualistic vrata, religious discipline, penance, philosophical speculation, or yogic practice. None of these they had. None of these can give that kind of union with the Lord as the constant mental association with Him that they did have. (Narayaneeyam: 94-10):

aikyaM te
dAna-homa-vrata-niyama-tapas-sAnkhya-yogair-durApaM
tvat-sangenaiva gopyaH kila sukRti-tamAH
prApur-Ananda-sAndraM /
bhakteSh-vanyeShu bhUas-svapi bahu-manuShe bhaktim-eva
tvam-AsAM
tan-me tvad-bhaktim-eva dRDaya hara gadAn kRShNa
vAtAlayesha //meaning,

That state of supremely blissful union with Thee, which is difficult to obtain through (disciplines like) charity, (ritual) sacrifices, observance of vows, self-control, austerities, knowledge (sAnkhya), and yoga, was attained by the blessed gopikas of Brindavan, through just personal attachment to Thee as their own beloved. Numerous are Thy other devotees, but it is this loving personal devotion of the gopikas that has received Thy highest appreciation. Therefore Oh Krishna, Oh Lord of Guruvayoor, May Thou strengthen devotion in me and destroy my ailments.

In fact this underscores the importance of personal involvement with the Lord in intimate terms, from the heart of hearts. All the formalities of our religious observances pale into insignificance before such a personal relationship with God. Whatever we may do, we must strive to see that this innate feeling of love for the Lord becomes the undercurrent. This is the only thing He asks from us. More than intellectual understanding of the various nuances of scriptures and philosophy, what He expects from us is this self-negating love for Him and all that stands for Him, namely, the universe. One may recall here Gita IX – 34:

manmanA bhava madbhakto madyAjI mAM namaskuru /
mAmevaiShyasi yuktvaivaM AtmAnaM mat-parAyaNaH //

meaning, Saturate your mind with me; be devoted to me; work for me; bow down to me; having thus united your whole self with me, taking me as the supreme Goal, you shall come unto me. This self-negating love has been defined by Narada in his bhakti-sutra, as follows (Sutra 54):

guNa-rahitaM kAmanA-rahitaM pratikShaNa-vardhamAnaM
avicchinnaM sUkShma-taram anubhava-rUpaM.

Meaning, (This pure love is) without attributes, without the poison of desire, every moment increasing, unbroken, subtlest, and of the nature of sheer immediate experience. In fact almost every exponent of bhakti says the same thing.

Let us come back to the story. The Gopis, having lost track of Krishna in the physical world, spend their time now singing about Him in all ecstasy. This singing as told in 18 delightful verses of Shrimad Bhagavatam is called “gopikA-gItaM”. It is chapter 31 of Skanda 10. In traditional India these 18 verses are usually taught to young girls for them to obtain the fullest grace of God, particularly with respect to their marriage. Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam derives inspiration from this. Let us see just three shlokas out of the 18. In the practical performance of the dance of gopikA-gItaM it is common to use the word ‘kRshhNa’ repeatedly to keep the beat:

jayati te’dhikaM (kRshhNa) janmanA vrajaH
shrayata indirA (kRshhNa) shashvad-atra hi /
dayita dRshyatAM (kRshhNa) dikshhu tAvakAH
tvayi dhRtAsavaH (kRshhNa) tvAM vicinvate // (X-31-1)

O beloved, Your birth in the land of Vraja has made it exceedingly glorious, and thus Indirâ, the goddess of fortune, always resides here. It is only for Your sake that we, Your devoted servants, maintain our lives. We have been searching everywhere for You, so please show Yourself to us.

na khalu gopikA (kRshhNa) nandano bhavAn
akhila-dehinAM (kRshhNa) antar-Atma-dRk /
vikhanasArthito (kRshhNa) vishva-guptaye
sakha udeyivAn (kRshhNa) sAtvatAm kule // (X-31-4)

You are not actually the son of the gopî Yas’odâ, O friend, but rather the indwelling witness in the hearts of all embodied souls. Because Lord Brahmâ prayed for You to come and protect the universe, You have now appeared in the Sâtvata dynasty.

tava kathAmRtaM (kRshhNa) tapta-jIvanaM
kavibhir-IDitaM (kRshhNa) kalmashhApahaM /
shravaNa-mangaLaM (kRshhNa) shrImad-AtataM
bhuvi gRNanti te (kRshhNa) bhuridA janAH // (X-31-9)

The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. They are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead must have been munificent.

At the end of it all, Krishna reappears. The Gopis are agog with excitement. It was as if their lives returned to them (“tanvaH prANaM iva AgataM” X-32-3). All the varieties of human emotions that can arise at such an event are described here without inhibitions. It is a no-holds-barred description. At the end of it all, Krishna, whose seat is in the hearts of great yogis, now sits encircled by these gopis on an elevated sand dune on the bank of Kalindi, lit up splendidly by the abundant autumnal moonlight and starts talking with them in very intimate terms. It is said that each gopi had the feet of the Lord on her lap.

sopis
Mark this statement. Here starts the full sway of the mAyA of the Lord. There were at least a hundred gopis. In fact the numbers that are mentioned in the Bhagavatam will make our heads reel. Anyway there were several of them. If each one had the feet of the Lord on her lap, and if each one was having the feeling that the Lord was talking to herself with His feet on her lap, the Lord must have replicated himself as many times as there were gopis there. This point is mentioned when the actual Raas Leela starts, but even here the magic of the mAyA has started!

Now Krishna starts talking. In fact they have raised an important question for Him to answer. Some people reciprocate the affection only of those who are affectionate toward them, while others show affection even to those who are indifferent or inimical. And yet others will not show affection toward anyone. Dear Krishna, please properly explain this matter to us.(X-32-16), say the Gopis. And He explains very patiently, in shlokas 17 to 22:

So-called friends who show affection for each other only to benefit themselves are actually selfish. They have no true friendship, nor are they following the true principles of religion. Indeed, if they did not expect benefit for themselves, they would not reciprocate. Some people are genuinely merciful or, like parents, naturally affectionate. Such persons, who devotedly serve even those who fail to reciprocate with them, are following the true, faultless path of religion, and they are true well-wishers.

Some people, being spiritually self-satisfied, do not reciprocate others’ affection because they want to avoid entanglement in mundane dealings. Other persons do not reciprocate simply out of envy or arrogance. And still others fail to reciprocate because they are materially satisfied and thus uninterested in new material
opportunities.

I do understand that simply for My sake you had rejected the authority of worldly opinion, of the Vedas and of your relatives. But I acted as I did only to increase your attachment to Me. Even when I removed Myself from your sight by suddenly disappearing, I never stopped loving you.

Therefore, My beloved gopîs, please do not harbor any bad feelings toward Me, your beloved. I will not be able to repay My debt for your spotless service, even within a lifetime of Brahmâ.

(na pâraye ‘ham niravadya-samyujâm
sva-sâdhu-krityam vibudhâyushâpi vah) X-32-22

Your connection with Me is beyond reproach. You have worshiped Me, cutting off all domestic ties, which are difficult to break. Therefore please let your own glorious deeds be your compensation.

This passage speaks volumes about the love of the gopis towards Krishna and how he acknowledged it. It is the charter that gives the universally glorified sanctity to the spotless Krishna-Bhakti of the Gopis. Great devotees are not great because they call themselves so (if at all), but because the Lord calls them great!

rasa dance

And now begins the Raas LeelA, the most enchanting of all His leelAs. They all linked their arms together and thought they were encircling Him. But actually between each pair of gopis there was a Krishna. Each Gopi felt the left hand of Krishna on her right shoulder and the right hand of Krishna on her left shoulder. She was thinking therefore that Krishna was dancing in front of her, facing her with His hands on her shoulders. But what was happening was that she had one Krishna on her left and another Krishna on her right! The yogeshvara that Krishna was, he had enveloped the entire assembly of Gopis in His mAyA and their minds were not their own now. They thought whatever He wanted them to think! But they all enjoyed an eternal bliss in the play of Raas LeelA! There were actually three such plays.

vishnu

One in water (‘jala-kRIDA), one in the woods (‘vana-kRIDA’) and one on open ground (‘sthala-kRIDA’). The night itself got extended because the elements had all halted. Heaven and Nature watched this magnificent divine romantic dance of the several Krishnas with the several Gopis. And the beauty of it all was, that, back home, in every house of the gopis, the gopi’s husband did not miss his wife; as far as he knew she was there with him!. The whole world was in trance, as it were! That was the greatness of the Raas dance!

Well, let us come down to terra firma. When this whole thing had been narrated by Suka, King Parikshit asks the most relevant question: “Well, let me take it that Krishna had nothing to achieve, because He is always self-fulfilled. But what he did does not appear to be ethical, from any worldly angle. Why, then, did he do that? Should He not set the right example?” (X-33 – 27 to 29).

Note that Parikshit’s question is not the question we ourselves raised at the beginning of this article. We said that we shall not be discussing this issue if it had the assumption that Krishna was an ordinary human being. King Parikshit postulates his acceptance of the divinity of Krishna. But his question is: Why does the Lord set a bad example for mankind?

And Suka answers: (X – 33 -30 to 38): The status of Ishvara is not harmed by any apparently audacious transgression of morality we may see in Him, for He is just like fire, that devours everything fed into it and remains unpolluted. We ordinary people should never imitate the behavior of such ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behaviour, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison. It is the words of Ishvara which we should follow, not those of His actions which are inconsistent with those words. When these great persons who are free from false ego act piously in this world, they have no selfish motives to fulfill, and even when they act in apparent contradiction to the laws of piety, they are not subject to sinful reactions. How, then, could the Lord of all created beings have any connection with the piety and impiety that affect His subject creatures?

Material activities never entangle even the devotees of the Supreme Lord, who are fully satisfied by serving the dust of His lotus feet. Nor do material activities entangle those intelligent sages who have freed themselves from the bondage of all fruitive reactions by the fact that they have disassociated themselves with their body, mind intellect. Then, how could there be any question of bondage for the Lord Himself, who assumes His transcendental forms according to His own sweet will?

The Actionlessness of the Lord is well-known from his statements in the Gita:

By Me was created the four varNas, in accordance with their GuNas and karma. Know Me as its doer and know Me also as the imperishable non-doer. (Gita IV-13)

Those works do not bind Me. I sit, indifferent as it were, unattached to those actions. (Gita IX – 9)

In fact Actionlessness is a central concept in the understanding of the actions of a man of wisdom (brahma-jnAni). The nAhaM kartA (I-am-not-the-doer) attitude is the core of all of Krishna’s advice to Arjuna. For more on this, go to http://www.geocities.com/profvk/livehappily_11.html

He who lives as the sAkshhI (overseeing witness) within the gopîs and their husbands, and indeed within all embodied living beings, assumes forms in this world to enjoy transcendental pastimes. When the Lord assumes a humanlike
body to show mercy to His devotees, He engages in such pastimes as will attract those who hear about them to become dedicated to Him.

For us, devotees of Krishna, we are told by Suka himself, that those who listen to these stories of this great Raas LeelA of Krishna, will not only become great devotees of the Lord, but would be able to conquer the ingrained lust in the human psyche!

 

LokAs samastAs sukhino bhavantu.

vishnu
Raadhe Krishna!
It is said that Raadha was given a promise by the Lord
that for all time to come, Her name (Radha’s) would be taken first
before His own (Krishna’s) is taken!!

 

Artwork courtesy of
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
www.krishna.com

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy M.A. of Madras University and Ph.D, of Annamalai University, is an ex-Director of K.K. Birla Academy, New Delhi. Formerly he was Dy. Director and Prof. of Mathematics at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani for two decades. While at Pilani he was one of the top-ranking academic administrators who were responsible for the multifarious academic reforms for which BITS is now well known. His wide and varied interests in teaching and research include assignments at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., U.S.A. and University of Delaware, Newark, DE., U.S.A. His mathematical research contributions are in the areas of Functional Analysis, Topology, Combinatorics and Mathematics Education. He has been President of the Indian Mathematical Society, President of the Mathematics Section of the Indian Science Congress Association, Executive Chairman of Association of Mathematics Teachers of India, and National Lecturer and National Fellow of the University Grants Commission. He has been Leader of the Indian team for the International Mathematical Olympiad, held at Bombay in 1996. His books in Mathematics include: Combinatorics: Theory and Applications; Introduction to Linear Algebra (jointly with two others); The Culture, Excitement and Relevance of Mathematics; Challenge & Thrill of Pre-College Mathematics (jointly with three others)and, The Clock of the Night Sky. and What is Mathematics? – An explanation through two Puzzles (In Tamil).

 

prf vk

 

Prof. Krishnamurthy was also trained systematically in the traditional Hindu scriptures by his father Sri R.Viswanatha Sastrigal, a scholarly exponent who was himself a living example of the ideal Hindu way of life. Prof. Krishnamurthy has given several successful lectures on Hinduism, the Ramayana, the Gita, the Upanishads, and Srimad Bhagavatam to Indian and American audiences. His expositions are known for their precision, clarity and an irresistible appeal to the modern mind. His books on religion include: Essentials of Hinduism; Hinduism for the next Generation; and, The Ten Commandments of Hinduism. He has also authored a series of 18 poster-size charts on Hinduism, entitled SADHARMA (= Sanatana Dharma Ratna Mala). These are unusual expositions with visual support, on the concepts ideals and traditions of the Hindu way of life, presented by an incisive scientific mind in a totally novel manner never before tried by any exponent of religion formally or informally.

 

A number of writings of his on Religion and Philosophy are on the web at http://www.geocities.com/profvk/ entitled: Science and Spirituality and Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought, Vision and Practice .

 

His recent books on religion are Kannan sorpadi vaazhvdeppadi (in Tamil) with an appendix on Dhruva-Stuti – An Upanishad Capsule (Published by Alliance Co., Mylapore, Chennai) and Science and Spirituality – A Vedanta Perception (Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan).

 

Live Happily the Gita Way – An Advaitic approach” is under publication.

 

He was given the Distinguished Service Award by the Mathematics Association of India in 1995, the Seva Ratna award by the Centenarian Trust, Chennai, in 1996, and the Vocational Service Award for Exemplary Contributions Education by the Rotary Clubs of Guindy and Chennai Samudra in September 2001.