Cross Leg Twisting Pose: By Christine Wushke

This simple twist can be done by Yogi’s of any level. Twisting poses are very beneficial for cleansing and toning the organs of elimination, as well as increasing mobility in the spinal muscles. This is another excellent preparation pose for seated meditation.

*If you find sitting on the floor difficult you can practice this twist sitting in a chair. It is not recommended to perform twisting poses during early pregnancy or menstruation. Also use caution if you have herniated disks in the spine. Continue reading

Gentle Side Bending Pose: By Christine Wushke

This is another great pose to nourish the spinal column, as well as relieve stiffness in your back or shoulders. It is also an excellent preparation pose for seated meditation. Continue reading

Brain Nourishing Pose: By Christine Wushke

This pose is great for bringing extra circulation into the brain. I find it refreshing and yet relaxing at the same time. If you have high blood pressure use caution in this pose. Come out of the position slowly if you feel any pressure in the head or behind the eyes.

Copy of chair forward bend 1*You will need a chair and some yoga blocks for this pose.

1. Begin with a chair in front of you, and some yoga blocks near by.

2. Bend forward until you feel a stretch in the backs of your legs. Check to see what height your hands naturally reach to without forcing them farther. Bring your hands down to your chair checking that you are not pushing the stretch to far. It should feel like a very easy and gentle stretch at this point. (If it is not, then place a folded blanket or yoga block on top of the chair.) The idea is to use the props so that the pose can meet your body where it is right now without any strain whatsoever.  Continue reading

Njanappaana by Poonthanam Nambudiri-6

translation and commentary by Smt. Savitri Puram


“Neither I live in vaikunTha nor in the hearts of yOgi.
I am indeed there where my bhaktas are singing (my praises).”



Njanappaana can be considered as the Bhagavad Gita of Malayalees. This is a Darshanika kaavyam or philosophical poem expressed in the most simple Malayalam language for ordinary people. Poonthanam Nambudiri, an ardent devotee of Shri Guruvayurappan, transformed his unbearable sorrow from his infant son’s death into a “yogavishesham”. He used this sad experience to build his Bhakthi soudham or house of devotion and opened it for all devotees for all time. Even though the language is very simple, this njaanappana, or song of wisdom deals with the essence of all vedas and upanishads. May Bhagavan Guruvayurappan, Bhagavathy Sarswathi Devi and Sri Poonthaanam Nambudiri bless us to become wiser by going through this great Song of Wisdom!!

This is continued from

Part One:
Part Two:
Part Three:
Part Four:
Part Five:


Athu chinthichu mattulla lokangal
Pathimoonnilumulla janangalum
Mattu dweepukalaarilumullorum
Mattu khandangalettilumullorum
Mattu moonnu yugangalilullorum
Mukti thangalkku saadhyamallaykayaal
Kalikaalthe, bhaaratha khandathe
Kalithaadaram kaivananageedunnu

Thinking about that (athu chinthicchu) (truth about Bhaaratham)) all the living souls in the other thirteen worlds (lokangal pathimmunnilulla janangalum), those who are living in the other 6 islands (mattu dweepukalil aarilumullorum),  those who are living in the other eight continents (mattu khandangalettilumullorum) and all who lived in the other three yugaas (mattu moonu yugangalilullorum), realizing that salvation is not possible for them (mukthi thangalkku saadhyamallaaykayaal),  pay respect both to Bhaaratha and the Kalikaala or Kaliyuga with folded hands (kalikaalatthe, bharathakhanadathe kalithaadaram kaivanangunnu).

What does “athu chinthicchu” or “thinking about that”  mean?  In the 27th Stanza poet reminds us: “Everybody should remember  that this place known as Bhaaratham is such an important place. Out of the four yugaas, Kaliyugam is the best to attain salvation.” So thinking about these two factors, all the souls lived outside Bhaaratha varsha and all who lived in the other three yugaas paid respect to this auspicious time and this auspicious land.

Other thirteen lokaas or worlds are :1. Sathya lokam 2. Thapolokam 3. Janalokam 4. Maharlokam 5. swarlokam 6. Bhuvarlokam 7. Athalam 8. Vithalam 9. Suthalam 10. Thalaathalam 11. Mahathalam 12. Rasathalam 13. Paathaalam. The first six worlds are above Earth and the last seven are below earth.

Other six islands or dweepams are Plaksha dweepam, Shaalmala dweepam, Kusa ,Krouncha, Shaaka and Pushkara dweepams.

Other six continents or regions are 1. Ilavrita Region 2. Bhadrasva Region 3.Harivarsha Region 4.Kethumaala Region 5. Ramyaka Region 6. Hiranmaya Region 7. Kuru Region 8. Kimpurusha Region.

Other three yugas are 1. Krutha yuga 2. Thretha yuga 3. Dwapara yuga.

Why all of them think that salvation is not possible or “mukthi saadhyamallaykayaal” in their time and place? Scriptures depict Dharmam as a bull or “vrusham”, and  it has four legs in Krutha yuga (chathushpaadam). They are : Tapa, Soucha, Daya, Sathya  or Religious austerity, Purity, Compassion and Truth respectively.  In Krutha yuga people had all these qualities and Dharma was completely stable. All people were saathwic or pious and only through severe penance one could realize god.

In Thretha, people have only three qualities except Tapa. Dharma was somewhat stable on three legs.  One has to strive less than Krutha Yuga, but had to observe strict purity of mind and body along with compassion and truthfulness.  They had to perform difficult yanjnaas and distribute their possessions with kindness. In Dwapara yuga people have only Daya and Sathya and Dharma had to balance with effort to survive on two legs. In this yuga also it was much harder to attain salvation than in Kaliyuga. They had to do Yaagaas like Raajasooyam, poojaas using different manthras and thanthras etc.

In Kaliyuga, only one leg is there for Dharma which is Sathya, and it is trembling insecurely on one leg. Kali encouraged by falsehood tries to destabilize the bull called Dharma.

So why do they think that they cannot attain salvation ? They can actually attain salvation in any yuga. But the effort is many many times the effort or yathnam that one has to make in Kaliyuga. When compared to how effortless it is in Kaliyuga, they feel that it is impossible to get salvation in other yugaas. “Not possible” really do not mean that it is not possible but means that practically it is much harder to attain salvation. So they all desire to be born in Kaliyuga in Bhaaratha so that they can get salvation just by chanting Bhagava’s naamam. In other yugaas so much penance has to be done, so many Yanjnaas have to be performed along with daana (giving away ) and purity of mind and body has to be strictly observed. But in Kaliyuga, naamasankeerhtanam can be done anytime, anywhere, clean or unclean, knowingly or unknowingly and one can attain salvation by the power of Naamam.

If we are truthful, Kali cannot do anything to us and Naamasankeerthanam helps us to be truthful and strong. Leading a dharmic life we can easily progress in our spiritual path by chanting namam and eventually attain salvation. But negative temptations are all around us and it is hard to resist those. But once we step on the ladder of Naamasankeerthanam, our upward journey to merge with Bhagavaan becomes safe and trouble free with the blessings of Naami (one who bears the naamam).

Athil vannoru pullaayittenkilum
Ithukaalam janichukonteeduvaan
Yogyatha varutheetuvaan thakkoru
Bhaagyam poraathe poyallo daivame!
Bhaaratha khandathinkal pirannoru
Maanusharkkum kalikkum namaskaaram

They (people who are in other worlds) think: Oh God! (Daivame!) (we) are not lucky enough (thakkoru bhaagyam poraathe poyallo) to be qualified (yogyatha varuttheetuvaan) to be born even as a blade of grass (pullaayittenkilum) in that land (athil or in Bhaaratham), in this time (ithukaalam or Kaliyugam), (we) do namaskaaram to both the people who are born in Bhaaratha varsha (bhaaratha khandathinkal pirannoru manushyarkkum) and to Kali himslef(kalikkum).

Here word “athil” indicates Bhaaratham and “ithukaalam” indicates Kaliyugam. Calling God “Daivame” indirectly shows their sorrow and they wish that at least in their next birth, they will be fortunate to be born in Bhaaratha. Brahma Vaiavarttha Purana says: “satajanma tapa: puto janmedam Bhaarate labhet” means “after performing austerities for hundreds of births, one is born in Bhaarahta Varsha”. So poet is indirectly telling us that even after getting a human birth in Bhaaratha, it is really unfortunate for some one to forget God and waste his life going after material pleasures. In Kaliyuga Bhaaratha, attaining salvation is as easy as chanting divine naamaas.

What is the use of being born as a blade of grass? Sometimes even a blade of grass that is growing near sajjanaas may get a chance to hear divine names of Bhagavaan and may be born as a pious human being and eventually attain salvation. There is a story about Poonthanam himself. There were two jack fruit trees in the poet’s back yard and those trees were very fortunate to hear Namasankeerthanam and Bhagavatha paaraynam (reading) by Poonthanam for several years.

Once Poonthanam wanted to write about Vaikundham (Vishnu Bhagavan’s eternal abode) and he was worried how he could realistically describe Vaikundham when he had not actually seen it. That night Bhagavan gave him a real vision of Vaikundham and in that vision or dream two resident devotees of Vaikundham showed special hospitality with lot of affection. They told him that they were the jack fruit trees in his back yard which broke and fell a few days ago due to severe wind and rain. Since they were lucky to have satsangam with Poonthaanam for several years, they attained salvation. Poonthaanam was very surprised to see that even trees can get salvation by listening to Naama sankeerthanam and stories of Bhagavaan. This story justifies the desire of the people in other worlds to be at least born as a blade of grass in Kaliyuga Bhaaratha.

People in the other worlds not only wish to be born here but they actually bow with respect and folded hands to all who are born here. Poet is telling this to us to remind how lucky we are and we should start naamsankeerthanam with utmost devotion with out a moment’s delay. God has blessed us to be born in Kaliyuga Bhaaratha and (even if we are not born in Bhaaratha,) Namasankeerthanam will purify our mind and satsangam will elevate us to higher states of spirituality.

Ennellam pukazhtheedunnu mattullor
Ennathathenthinu naam paranjeedunnu?
Kaalaminnu kaliyugamallayo
Nammalellam naranmaarumallayo
Chemme nannai niroopippenellarum
Hari naamangalillathe pokayo
Narakangalil pedi kurakayo
Naavu koodaathe janmamathaakayo
Namukkinni vinaasamillaykayo
Kashtam kashtam! Niroopanam koodaathe
Chuttu thinnunnu janmam pazhuthe naam!

Why should we tell that others are praising us like this? (first two lines ) Don’t we know that this kaalam is Kaliyugam, this land is Bhaaratham and we are all human beings? (lines three, four and five)  Are we short of Hari’s or Bhagavan’s names? Are we not afraid of different types of hells? Are we born with out tongue in this janma? Do we believe that we will never be perished? (line seven, eight, nine and ten)  We all should think about this in detail (chemme nannai niroopippinellaarum- line six). Alas! alas!  (kashtam! Kashtam!) with out proper contemplation (niroopanam kootaathe) we are wasting our lives in vain (last line).

In this stanza poet blames us for wasting our precious lives by going after transient pleasures. He asks: what is the use of saying over and over again about how people in the other worlds praise us? We do not deserve any respect from anybody unless we live up to the expectations of those people and our own mother land. They pay respect to us thinking that we are fortunate to be born in this punya karmakshethra and we will make use of the great opportunity God bestowed on us.

Poet is wondering what is wrong with all of us! We are intelligent enough to know from the scriptures that this is Kaliyuga and it is easy to attain salvation in Kaliiyuga Bhaaratha just by doing Naamasankeerthanam. Kali Santharanopanishad tells us explicitly that in Kaliyuga only Naamasankeerthanam is the solution to all problems. (“Kalau naasthyeva naasthyeva naasthyeva gathiranyadha”) Why are we hesitating to chant Naamas? Is there any shortage of divine names? Vishnu shasranaamam has thousand names and we can choose any one that appeals to our mind. We can choose the simple “Rama” namam or a complicated one like “Vishvaksena”. Are we not afraid of the sufferings in the hell? If we are not afraid of hell, we should not desire heaven also. We should have “samabhaavana” or we should see both sukham (happiness) and dukham (sorrow) alike. Are we not afraid of the fruits of bad karmaas? Bad Karmaas will only give rise to suffering. Why are we going deep into the samsaara (materialism) by sowing wrong seeds and still expect to reap good fruits?

Why is the tongue that is used  for non-stop talking become hesitant to chant divine names of Bhagavan? We act as if we do not have tongue when it comes to Naamasankeerthanam. We are shy to chant loudly because of the powerful ego. But don’t we have the power of discrimination (bestowed on us by Lord) to know that once namasankeerthanam is started, power of naamam will easily take over the power of ego and our mind will get purified. Do we think that our body is eternal? If we realize how uncertain our life is and if we contemplate how helpless we are when death comes and knocks on our door, we should not waste not even one moment of our life. He sympathizes with those people who completely forget about this truth and wastes their life going after transient material pleasures with out ever turning their mind towards God.

In this context, let us remember what Sage Narada asked Bhagavan and Bhagavaan’s reply. Sage Narada asked Lord where His permanent abode was. Is it Vaikundham? Is it Golokam? Is it Bhoomi? Bhagavan said: “Naham vasami Vaikundhe, Na yogi hrudaye ravau, Math  bhaktha: yathra gaayanthi thathra thishtaami Narada”  – he would not reside in Vaikunta, the celestial abode, nor in the hearts of great tapasvis [sages], nor permeate in the Solar system, but would stand in attention wherever His devotees do sing His name [sankeertanam].


Bhaktha Mirabai says:”This treasure of Bhagavaan’s naamam, none can rob, this treasure does not reduce if you draw from it, and in fact, it grows at a  compound rate”

Ethra janmam prayaasappettikkaalam
Athra vannu pirannu sukruthathaal
Ethra janmam malathil kazhinjathum
Ethra janmam jalathil kazhinjathum
Ethra janmangal mannil kazhinjathum
Ethra janmam marangalai ninnathum
Ethra janmam marichu nadannathum
Ethra janmam parannu natannathum
Ethra janmam mrugangal pashukkalai
Marthya janmathin mumbe kazhichu naam

How many previous lives (Ethra janmam) we struggled  (prayaasappettittu) to be born in this time(ikkaalam) and because of the good deeds done in the past ((sukruthangal) we are born here (athravannu pirannu). How many lives we would have spent in human and animal excretions, how many lives we would have spent in water (line three and four), how many lives we would have spent in mud, how many lives we would have spent as trees (lines five and six), how many times we died, how many lives we would have spent flying in the sky as a bird (lines seven and eight), how many lives we would have spent as cows and other animals before we took birth as a human being (lines nine and ten)?

The word “ikkaalam” or “this time” refers to Kaliyuga and word “athra” indicates Bhaaratham. First line says that only after several lives of suffering and struggle one gets the opportunity to be born in this Kaliyuga. Birth in Kaliyuga is considered to be very near “Moksha praapthi”  or getting salvation because even the mere chanting of naamam leads us to moksham. Poet also says that only  good deeds performed in the past make one eligible to be born in Bhaaratham. Even the inhabitants of heaven want to be born  in Kaliyuga Bhaaratha so that they can free themselves from the repeated cycle of birth and death by performing “Nishkaama Karma” or karmaas with renunciation of results. Results of the accumulated  good karmaas and bad karmaas that can be experienced by the subtle body are experienced in heavens and hells respectively. So, to take birth in Bhaaratha, one should have accumulated some good deeds in the previous janmaas, results of  which can only be experienced by a  human body born in Bhaaratha. So poet says that it is a very unique opportunity to get a life in Kaliyuga in Bhaaratha.

Before getting here, we do not know how many lives we lived as amoebas, worms and small insects in animal and human excretions. After that we may have promoted to the state of inhabitants of water. Even there, as a small fish we would have lived with fear of larger fishes. Then we might have spent miserable lives in mud in constant fear of being consumed by birds and other larger and cruel animals. Afterwards, we might have spent lives as trees suffering rain and shine and heat and cold. How many times our subtle body would have experienced the time lapse between one death and next birth? That time might have been filled with horrifying experiences in the hell owing to the sins committed. Who knows how many lives we would have spent as animals knowing nothing better than “animal instinct’?

It is interesting to note the effect of fall from human life when compared to the effect of fall or going backward from lives of lower species. Let us take the example of a high rise building with, say, 40 storeys. Imagine fortieth storey is where Jeevathma merges with Parmaathma.

Imagine that we climbed the first two stories and we happen to fall. The impact and momentum of the fall will be less than the fall from any higher stories of the building or in other words, the impact will be directly proportional to the height of the building. Scriptures say that in the spiritual world also the effect of the fall from highest species, human beings are much more serious than falling from other species. The reason is that human beings are blessed with the power of discrimination or vivekam and animal species are guided only by instincts. Other living beings like trees also have no choice other than following the commands of Prakruthi or Nature. When we choose wrong direction deliberately ignoring our ever guiding conscience, repercussions are disastrous. Animals are just experiencing the results of the past karmaas and after exhausting those through several janmaas in different species and kinds, finally gets the chance to be born as a human being. Poet says that human life is so precious and sought after by souls in all other worlds that we should cherish every moment of our life and devote it for knowing God by any prescribed method. In Kaliyuga the prescribed method is Naamasankeerthanam.

In this context, it is appropriate to remember the one sloka from Mukundamala to reinforce the importance of Shri Poonthaanam’s advice.

Aashcahryam etaddhi manushyaloke
Sudhaam parithyajya visham pibanthi
Naamani Naaraayna gocharaani
Thyaktvanya vaacha: kuhaka: pathanthi

“The greatest wonder in human society is this: People reject the life-giving nectar of Bhagavaan’s names and instead drink poison by speaking about everything else”.

Ethrayum panippettingu maathaavin
Garbha paathrahil veenatharinjaalum
Pathu maasam vayattil kazhinju poy
Pathu pantheeraandunniyaayittum poy
Thannethaanabhimaanichu pinnedam
Thannethaanariyaathe kazhiyunnu

Please understand or know (arinjaalum) that after a lot of struggle and effort (ethrayum panippettingu), finally we come or end up in a human mother’s womb (garbhapaathratthil veenathu). Ten months we survive in her womb (patthu maasam vyattil kazhinju poy) and about ten to twelve years we spend in childhood (patthu pantheerantuunniyaayyittum poy) . Rest of the life (pinnedam) we live identifying the body as “I” (thannetthaanabhimaanichu) (separate from Paramaathma) and with out really knowing who we are (thannethaanariyaathe kazhiyunnu).

As explained in the previous stanza, after spending several janmaas in different animal forms, a soul gets a unique chance to be born as a human and takes birth in a mother’s womb. It is said that the baby in the womb remembers all the previous janmas. During the ten months of pregnancy, the baby is trapped inside the womb with no space to move around and during that time it contemplates about his existence and promises God to lead a life completely surrendering to Him when he gets out of the womb. But during of the trauma of  birth, memory of the previous janmaas are completely wiped out and the baby becomes a slave of Maya. Here the poet says “patthumaasam vayattil kazhinju poy” and this indicates that even though the child remembered and took decision to lead a detached life with attachment only to God, all the good intentions were lost during his arrival on earth.So poet describes that as a waste of time or loss of time.

Then the next ten to twelve years are spent as a playful child. Here also the word “poy” at the end of line four indicates the loss of his childhood years doing nothing to move towards God. When the baby is born he forgets about all the sufferings of the past janmaas and then starts building attachment to material things and relations influenced by the parents. Each day baby gets attached more and more to the people and things around him. If the parents do not teach him to think of God and surrender to God in the form of prayers, then the unfortunate child will never get a chance to remember or follow what he had promised God when he was in the womb. Swami Vivekananda stresses the importance of parent’s role in reminding the children, their hidden love and attachment for God through daily prayers. So parents can lessen the loss of precious time as a child by giving them the faith in God which they will carry all through their life. This faith in God and love of God given during the childhood years will help them to use their precious time as adults in youth and old age more effectively to advance spiritually amidst their other material commitments.

Fifth line says that the rest of the life we live with terrible ego with out the real knowledge of who we are. So in our youth, we forget ourselves and take credit for all the success we meet with and blame others for every failures we encounter. So youth also is lost with out any contemplation about our own existence and we go after transient material pleasures. When one spends almost all of one’s life with out ever thinking of a higher power who controls everything in the universe, at the fag end of life one gets depressed and confused by the material world. Because of the lack of training of the mind to think and surrender to God, we get lost in the material world. Thus the most precious human life we obtained after a lot of struggle is wasted, ready to repeat the never ending cycle of birth and death. Poet says that God gives us a chance to escape from this and it is unfortunate that we are not making use of the golden opportunity given to us.

I happened to read an explanation by an unknown author about the word “soham” and ego and I would like to share that in this context. What does “soham” mean?

It is split as    sa: + aham     He or That + I

Sa: means He, That or God and Ham means “I”.

“It is the identification or dissolution of the ego with “that” or God. “I” merges with God or Easwara of the Vedas, Brahman of the Upanishads or Bhagavaan of the puraanaas. The meaning of the phrase might be expressed as follows: “I” am obviously not this body because the physical constituents of the body are changing every moment. Ultimately, the body dies. Atman the soul or self never dies – it is “That”. “That” is Absolute Reality. It is the witness of all, it is what the mind does through the body. This self is always on the path of progression, which is the consciousness. This is called spiritual awareness. ”

Poet says that we live all our life and die with out this spiritual awareness “soham”. That is the meaning of the last line. What is the method to know ourselves or to identify ourselves with Parmaathma for materialistic people like us in Kaliyuga? Poonthaanam has one and only one solution: Naamasankeerthanam. This solution is easily accessible to all sadhakaas or yearning devotees and can be practised anywhere at anytime . One does not need any initiation or training.

(During praanaayaamam some people say “so” while inhaling and “ham” while exhaling. While inhaling we take God or God’s power as prraanavayu and leave out ahamkaaram or I while exhaling. This happens 21,600 times a day and that means we are welcoming God and driving out ego that many times- Saibaba


Samasthaaparadham kshamaswa

All in a Bowl of Grapes: By Deepa Desai

In the darkness of the night,
I discovered in a bowl of grapes,
the rarest kind of gemstones,
more endearing than a dozen glittering
diamonds under a moonlit sky,
the color of the finest emerald,
of a most radiant green,
the color worn by famous Turkish sultans,
and adorned by the former Empress Farah.
With translucent and ever widening eyes,
I took the luscious greenness towards my mouth
To consummate the marriage
Of that single moment – a moment,
Filled with childlike wonder and a universe
Of possibility, as the whispers of eternity
and its ever unfolding abundance
pressed against my lips,
which opened as if to say,
thank you.

The Journey of the Soul – II

This is in continuation of a Journey of the Soul – I

That is how it comes about that in scientific terms, one cannot prove that energy. What can be proven is only that which has motion. Yet motion is such that at the moment you view it, it changes, and you do not have a true picture of that motion at its most subtle level. That is why we know so little, from laboratory experiments, of the mind. Yet a whole vast range of the mind, over 90 percent, exists which is unexplored. As technology develops, there will be instruments or certain inventions which will probe a bit deeper into the mind. The 10 percent, explored, can become 15, 20 or 30 percent. But we want to know here and know the entirety of the mind, and the mind, being so involved in itself, cannot know itself.Gururaj disciples at Raman's home

When you are involved in a problem, an emotional problem, you cannot think straight because you are involved. But if you separate yourself from the machinations of the mind, you can view the mind from a different perspective altogether. That is why we have counselors, so that when you are in a  rut (someone told me the other day, a rut is nothing else but a coffin with both ends open), you can go to a counselor who can view the subject or the problem objectively, because he is not emotionally involved. Many times people involved in a business deal will say, “let me sleep on this” That means that at this moment I am so involved in this problem that I need to let my mind rest. Tomorrow I shall look at the proposition with a rested mind, more objectively. In this process what travels from point to point is nothing else but the mind.

Now, where can the mind travel to? That is the other question. We have said that the spirit within a human being, or the spirit which pervades the universe, is omnipresent. If the manifestor is omnipresent, then its manifestation must be omnipresent too. Where is there a place for the mind to go? What happens is this: There is just a shifting of energies in the mind. Because there is contraction and expansion going on all the time in the universe, polarities are created. You lift the weight from this side of the scale, and you add some weight on the other side of the scale. The pendulum is forever swinging from one end to the other, and that is happening in the universe. That is what is known as contraction and expension. So the mind goes from nowhere to nowhere, while the energies are just shifting.

Through spiritual practices, we are also working with energies. We are also activating energies, but activating grosser energies and very systematically leading those grosser energies toward the more and more subtle energies which are in the mind. The mind has the conscious level, various strata of the subconscious level, and the superconscious level. All this falls under manifestation, and all manifestation is relative. It is relative to the Absolute.

Gururaj Ramon and Vidya in CyprusWithin the confines of this whole scheme of things, relativity has its gradations: The conscious mind, which is gross; the subconscious mind, including the various subtler levels of the subconscious mind (psychiatrists and psychologists only delve 10-15 percent into the subconscious layers) and beyond that vast subconscious field, the superconscious mind. So we start with the subconscious mind and lead it gently through the layers of the subconscious to the superconscious until we experience the finest, subtlest relative. When we experience that, we can safely say that we have the universe in the palm of our hand.

So there lies the movement from grossness to its subtler levels; yet it is standing still. All the movement in the ocean you see is surface movement. Really speaking, the ocean is not moving. It is there. So, if we think of movement and that which lies between the area of Silence to Silence, nothing has moved. Silence reamains the same and the superimposition remains the same. So, traveler, where do you come from and where are you going to? Nowhere.

It is all here and now. Of course, there are the theories of reincarnation and karma and “reap what you sow.” They also are true at certain levels. But in reality, a person  moves nowhere, and the apparent movement is only the mind experiencing itself at its subtler and subtler levels. That is the greatest illusion: By thinking that I move, I sit still.

For the mind to experience the subtler states, various forms of evolution are necessary, and this evolution from very gross matter to the present stage of humanity has taken millions of years, proceeding through various forms. Yet the substance of all those forms is not different. The substance that makes up the vegetable kingdom is the same substance that makes up the animal kingdom, which is the same substance that makes up the human kingdom. In essence, the substance remains the same. What is this body? It is nothing but food.

These very same substances, assuming different shapes and forms are given names. This table and I are not at all different from each other; we are of the same substance. This table is at a grosser level, and I, having developed the power of thought, am at a more subtle level. That’s the only difference. This table cannot think, the animal cannot think, but I can think; it is just a matter of degree, not of difference in substance. The molecular and atomic structural framework of this table is the same that structures me. The great illusion is accentuated in human beings, because people have reached that certain evolutionary stage where they are thinking.

The great illusion comes about because a person thinks that he thinks, while he is not really thinking. The less a person thinks, the more he experiences. The very process of thought, if wrongly used, can be the wall between the changing unreality and the unchanging reality. That does not mean that we need to destroy the mind – the mind is a great instrument and is to be used.

A sharp knife given to a delinquent boy can be dangerous. But the same sharp instrument in the hands of a surgeon can help perform an operation. So the mind has to be consciously directed. The power and force of the entire universe is contained in the mind, but it has to be directed.Gururaj Ananda and Cansita

If the mind tries to direct itself, then many things can happen, including misdirection, because the instrument is trying to work upon  itself. So we use meditation and spiritual practices to go deep to the superconscious level, which is the closest to the manifestor. We let those subtler energies remodify the thought patterns of the conscious mind, for the conscious mind is a conditioned mind, and we’ve got to use a subtler force to be able to repattern and overcome the conditionings of the conscious mind.

Most of our troubles are of the conscious level. These are in turn pushed forth from the subconscious level. The left hemisphere of the brain, which is said to control thinking, analysis, verbalizing, and symbolizing, is connected to, not apart from, the right hemisphere of the brain, the part that is said to be a link to the intutive ability and the universal mind. Through meditation and spiritual practices we enliven this connection, first in the organ of the brain, and then in its subtler layer, which we call the mind, it’s subtler self. The entirety of the mind has been grossified into the organ called the brain to give us the individuality that we have. Of this brain, three pounds in weight, containing twelve billion cells, we use only one millionth part.

So, by activating the right hemisphere, we are energizing the left hemisphere, and therefore there is greater clarity of thought, greater concentration, and greater one-pointedness: and all  these qualities  plus others make one’s life successful. Not only we are using the energies of the left hemisphere, but, as a result of spiritual practices, we are also drawing upon the intuitive level. If we combine the analytical with the intuitional, how much more forceful our actions become, how much more truthful our thinking becomes. In this way we are led to right thought and right action.

So after practice, over a period of time, the mind gradually starts functioning in a spontaneous manner, to do that which is right. Then thinking is not necessary; you just do. You would, for example, come to a fork in the road, and you would just ver spontaneously take the right road. Your analytical mind will not tell you why or how you did it.

What is working is that intuitional level, which fulfills your every need, not your every want. With “want” the left hemisphere comes into play: “I want a million pounds, I want a 50-room mansion, I want this, and I want that.” That kind of analysis leads only to ego-boosting.

Now, all this exists within the framework of the traveling from Silence to Silence. This is the motion that is created. When that which we are calling the left hemisphere dominates us, we are enmeshed in our ego-selves, which know only this: me and mine.

If the mind is empowered by what we are calling the right hemisphere, the intuitional level which has its roots in the core’s of one personality, which we also call the heart, then “me” and “mine” disappears and it is “thee” and “thine.” For the core of the human personality, though outwardly seeming individualized, also exists in its universilezed form. So what happens to a person is this: He can exist as an individual and yet at the same time be universal, for he has now realized, through his spiritual sadhana , how vast he is. When this happens, a person, being divine, recognizes and experiences this Divinity.

to be continued in Journey of the Soul – III

Soon coming.


We Did Not Go To Him For Profit: By T.K. Sundaresa Iyer

Note: T.K. Sundaresa Iyer (T.K.S) met Sri Ramana in 1908 when T.K.S was only a twelve year old boy. Bhagavan, although a full blown Self-Realized sage, was also quite young and in his late 20’s. Many early devotees have described how Bhagavan by his sheer look would give them experience of the Self. However, this was not true in every case.

T.K.S’s cousin Krishnamurthy had been visiting Bhagavan Ramana  regularly and would sing songs of devotion to him. One day T.K.S asked his cousin where he went every day. Krishnamurthy told him about Ramana and said, “The Lord of the Hill Himself is sitting in human form, why don’t you come with me.” Both of them then climbed the Hill and went to Virupksha cave to visit the Sage.

Now the story in T.K.S.’s own words:

I too climbed the Hill and found Bhagavan sitting on a stone slab, with about 10 devotees around him. Each would sing a song. Bhagavan turned to me and asked, “Well, won’t you sing a song also.” One of Sundramurthy’s songs came to my mind and I sang it. It’s meaning was, “No other support have I, except thy holy feet. By holding on to them, I shall win your grace. Great men sing your praise Oh, Lord. Grant that my tongue may repeat Thy name even when my mind strays.”

“Yes. That is what must be done,” said Bhagavan, and I took it to be his teaching for me. From that time on, I went to see him regularly for several years without missing a day.

One day I wondered why I was visiting him at all. What was the use? There seemed to be no inner advancement. Going up the hill was meaningless toil. I decided to end my visits on the hill.

For one hundred days exactly I did not see Bhagavan. On the hundred and first day I could suffer no longer and I ran to Skandasramam, above Virupaksha Cave. Bhagavan saw me climbing, got up and came forward to meet me. When I fell at his feet, I could not restrain myself and burst into tears. I clung to them and would not get up.

Bhagavan pulled me up and asked: “It is over three months since I saw you. Where were you?” I told him how I thought that seeing him was of no use. “All right,” he said, “maybe it is of no use, so what? You felt the loss, did you not?”

Then I understood that we did not go to him for profit, but because away from him there was no life for us.

From “At the Feet of Bhagwan” by T.K. Sundaresa Iyer.

Surrender and Salvation: By Voruganti Krishnayya

Voruganti Krishnayya was a great devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana. He has narrated many incidents that he observed while in Bhagavan’s company. The following story is one of my favorite.

Bhagavan Ramana

Bhagavan Ramana

Bhagavan was most tender with people who thought themselves for some reason or other to be miserable sinners and who went to him torn by repentance.

During summer evenings we used to sit in the open space near the well. We would collect in the dining hall for dinner and come back to the well. Suddenly, one day, a visitor started weeping bitterly, “I am a horrible sinner. For a long time I have been coming to your feet, but there is no change in me. Can I become pure at last? How long am I to wait? When I am here near you I am good for a time, but when I leave this place I become a beast again. You cannot imagine how bad I can be – hardly a human being. Am I to remain a sinner forever?”

Bhagavan answered: “Why do you come to me? What have I to do with you? What is there between us that you should come here and weep and cry in front of me?”

The man started moaning and crying even more, as if his heart were breaking. “All my hopes of salvation are gone. You were my last refuge and you say you have nothing to do with me! To whom shall I turn now? What am I to do? To whom am I to go?”

Bhagavan watched him for some time and said, “Am I your guru that I should be responsible for your salvation? Have I ever said that I am your master?”

“If you are not my master, then who is? And who are you, if not my master? You are my guru, you are my guardian angel, you will pity me and release me from my sins!” He started sobbing and crying again.

We all sat silent, overcome with pity. Only Bhagavan looked alert and matter-of-fact.

Bh: “If I am your guru, what are my fees? Surely you should pay me for my services.”

D: “But you won’t take anything,” cried the visitor. “What can I give you?”

Bh: “Did I ever say that I don’t take anything? And did you ever ask me what you can give me?”

D: “If you would take, then ask me. There is nothing I would not give you.”

Bh: “All right. Now I am asking. Give me. What will you give me ?”

D: “Take anything, all is yours.”

Bh: “Then give me all the good you have done in this world.”

D: “What good could I have done? I have not a single virtue to my credit.”

Bh: “You have promised to give. Now give. Don’t talk of your credit. Just give away all the good you have done in your past.”

D: “Yes, I shall give. But how does one give? Tell me how the giving is done and I shall give.”

Bh: “Say like this: ‘All the good I have done in the past I am giving away entirely to my guru. Henceforth I have no merit from it nor have I any concern with it.’ Say it with your whole heart.”

D: “All right, Swami, I am giving away to you all the good I have done so far, if I have done any, and all its good effects. I am giving it to you gladly, for you are my master and you are asking me to give it all away to you.”

Bh: “But this is not enough,” said Bhagavan sternly.

D: “I gave you all I have and all you asked me to give. I have nothing more to give.”

Bh: “No, you have. Give me all your sins.”

D: The man looked wildly at Bhagavan, terror stricken. “You do not know, Swami, what you are asking for. If you knew, you would not ask me. If you take over my sins, your body will rot and burn. You do not know me, you do not know my sins. Please do not ask me for my sins.” And he wept bitterly.

Bh: “I shall look after myself, don’t you worry about me,” said Bhagavan. “All I want from you is your sins.”

For a long time the bargain would not go through. The man refused to part with his sins. But Bhagavan was adamant.

Bh: “Either give me your sins along with your merits, or keep both and don’t think of me as your master.”

In the end the visitor’s scruples broke down and he declared: “Whatever sins I have done, they are no longer mine. All of them and their results, too, belong to Ramana.”

Bhagavan seemed to be satisfied. “From now on there is no good nor bad in you. You are just pure. Go and do nothing, neither good nor bad. Remain yourself, remain what you are.”

A great peace fell over the man and over us all. No one knows what happened to the fortunate visitor; he was never seen in the Ashrama again. He might have been in no further need of coming.

Bhagavan Ramana

Bhagavan Ramana

The Kiwi: By Deepa Desai


I held the luscious kiwi in my hand,
as if I held an emerald,
a glorious gemstone —
a gift handed by the great Khans
in ancient China.

I like to call it by its many names:
actinidia arguta or tara vine,
zespr, yangtao or gooseberry
like the Chinese.

The tiny brown and golden ochre colored bristles
give the kiwi a distinct earthy look
from a glance.
Upon looking deeper,
beyond the greenish umber thatch
of bristle & peach-like fuzz,
beyond the hardy oval-shaped exterior
of the egg-like fruit,
beyond the rough, rugged skin
of the treasured gem
are non-kiwi elements too:
sunshine, rain, soil,
compost, air, and time.

Looking deeply,
a slight indent of the hairy skin;
a small patch
to the side of the kiwi

On one side, the kiwi has already begun
to decompose. On the other, the kiwi is ripe,
& resilient to every pull,
every stretch,
every indentation.
In the words of Thich Nhat Hahn
Both sides “inter-are.”

Measuring only 1 1/14 inches long
with 3/4 diameter,
the kiwi looks insignificant in size.
But its real beauty lies hidden
underneath the furry thatch,
underneath the mysterious disguise,
underneath the crowning of glory.

I take a sharp paring knife to slice off the top,
slowly peeling the ends and sides one at a time.
A delicate scissure reveals brilliant green flesh,
the color of lime green,
a beautiful green, the color of coriander,
the color of fresh mint.
On the surface, a colorless crystalline substance
coating the slick, velvet, malleable
hairless green flesh.

Digging deeper, a golden center
ringed by dark tiny purple seeds,
aligned in a row, all surrounding
an almond white core.

With a spoon, the fragrant innards are scooped,
eaten raw, like any citrus-flavored melon
first a sour, pungent, bitter taste,
then tangy, acidic and mouth-watering.
Allowing the lush whole melt into the mouth,
the tart candy, like compost,
transforms into delicacy.