May 2008

Swami Says + Healing Quince + U is for Understanding + 18 Kriya Postures of Babaji + Science of Manipooraka + FEATURE: Patanjali, Father of Yoga + Metaphysics + Science & Meditation + Journey to Madurai + Smoky Quartz

Cover Photo: Swami Shankarananda at Babaji Shrine, Kriya Yoga Initiation Ceremony, 3 May 2008


Namasté all.
Everyone seems to be complaining about the negativity all around them: the crime, the violence and destruction around the world. We all think that singularly we have no power to change the situation and sit waiting for someone else to do something about it. All these negative things have materialised because of man’s attitude and can be reversed by a change in man’s attitude. If each person starts by removing the negativity within, then it will cease to exist in the outer world. The next time you find yourself complaining about the negativity around you, stop for a moment and think about your own inner conflicts or bad habits and make the effort to change just one of them a month. This way, as individuals, we can play an active part in making the world a more peaceful, secure and loving place to be. It’s also easy for us to say, ‘but I don’t know how to recognise my negative traits,’ or ‘I forget to think about my bad habits,’. This is a poor excuse because every one of us has the means to learn methods of self-improvement by simply attending Swami Shankarananda’s talks, workshops or yoga and meditation classes and asking questions. We need to make time for Self-realisation a priority in our daily routine!

This month we include a long-overdue feature on the Father of Yoga, and the author of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali, who recorded in writing all the teachings on Yoga which had previously only been taught verbally. In Yoga and Ancient Wisdom (page 9), we learn a simple breathing technique that can play a large part in calming the mind and reducing stress if we practise it for a few minutes daily. We learn about the healing properties of Quince and Smoky Quartz. Swami Murugesu teaches us about the Science of Manipooraka, we learn Science and Meditation by Suren Pillay, and Vish takes us on a journey to Madurai.

Bhakti Yoga is a way in which we can worship God through devotion to Him in the form of music and singing. On Saturday the 24th May, there will be an Ardha-akanda Bhajan held at the Gayathri Peedam from 6am to 6pm with numerous bhajan groups from around KZN attending. Please do yourself a spiritual favour and attend. Then, the following day on Sunday the 25th May, the Peedam, swami’s crystal shop and the Jadatharaya Institute will be part of the Westville Mind Body Soul fair so make a plan to take some time off to support them and acquire for yourself a spiritual gift at th same time.

Now that complimentary copies of Transcendence are given to Gayathri Peedam members every full moon meditation, we hope that more people are actually reading the mini-mag. If you’re not then please pass your copy on to someone else who’ll appreciate it, or donate it back to the temple. Feel free to also email us with any information or articles you’d like to share with others.

In Love and Service always,

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Swami Shankarananda

Take Stock Now
You are an individual. You claim you are perfect. This is the idea you perceive in time’s frozen frame. Actually, you go with great potential for perfection. Yet simplicity, love, uninhibitedness and joy are the nature of that individual soul.

This ego is going to destroy you. When the heat is up the frozen frame of time begins to melt and time is no more. Death licks the moisture of the frozen frames. Remember that it’s too late.

Om Shanti.

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Yvonne Jarvis

We learned in the previous article about spiritual energy, that the energy continuum ranges from dense physical matter at one end, to spiritual energy or consciousness at the other end. The metaphysical approach divides each person’s consciousness into three parts.

1. The Super-conscious Self (or Higher Self). This is also referred to as our Soul or spirit. This is our true self, fully connected to the Source or God /Goddess consciousness with full knowledge of our life purpose and the experiences and lessons we have chosen for this incarnation. It is the very wise part of ourselves which is ever-loving and supportive, and which works continuously for our highest good by subtly guiding us, and granting deep insight and intuition, whether we choose to acknowledge and act on this wisdom or not.

2. The Conscious Self. This is also known as the Ego. This is everything that makes us recognizable as ourselves, it makes us who we are – our thinking, talking, acting self, our attitudes, beliefs, likes, concepts, etc. The Conscious Self can operate independently until the time when a person is ready to begin to discover more about themselves, so is not necessarily aware of helpful insights by either the Super-conscious or Subconscious Self.

3. The Subconscious Self. This works with the Higher Self to provide intuition and insight to the Conscious Self through visualizations, dreams, instinctive gut feelings and other aspects of Body Wisdom and the body/mind connection.

The metaphysical approach can be summarized as follows: everything is considered to be energy, and all energy is interconnected. Science in the form of quantum physics supports this viewpoint. Everything we call physical or real is energy, and all energy is the product of creative consciousness. Creative consciousness is described as God or Goddess, Source, All-That-Is or the Universe. As all is connected, this means that every individual is part of that consciousness.

This standpoint is very empowering, but also challenging, because we are all considered to be co-creators with God. We create our reality by using our consciousness (thoughts and intentions) to attract events, situations and people into our lives. The metaphysical view is that everything that happens to us, everything we experience, has purpose and meaning, and that there is no such thing as luck, either good or bad, or co-incidence. We are thus not helpless victims of random events, but powerful creators of our lives, and we use the circumstances we create to help us develop as people and souls. The world we create collectively, our existence on planet Earth, reflects the mass consciousness, the prevalent attitudes, beliefs, fears and desires of the majority. The world we individually create – what we think, say, do, experience, whom we relate to, where we live and so on, reflects our personal attitudes, beliefs, fears and desires.

We are not humans having a spiritual experience; rather we are spirits having a human experience! This is where self-healing fits in. Self-healing can assist us to recreate ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, to rewire ourselves. It puts the power back in our hands.

Reference: Self-healing with Reiki by Penelope Quest

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Swami Murugesu

The Science of Manipooraka
There are many separate actions performed by the human body. Chief among these are three in particular: Jnana activity, Karma activity, and activity arising from ignorance. The activities that take place through Jnana include seeing, hearing, smelling tasting and feeling, mental thought and enquiry. The origin of these activities is the foremind. If a defect was present in that part of the brain, the activity would be affected. Jnana activities are those which take place according to the wish of a person. When we are engrossed in seeing a particular thing, we may not hear someone calling us because our ‘hearing’ involvement or desire is temporarily absent.

The second activity is that of Karma. Moving the limbs, blinking, talking and walking are the activities of Karmendriyas. These originate in the hindbrain. If there was a defect in this area, a person would not be able to move their limbs. The proof of this has been witnessed in many medical centres. When our attention is very focussed, or when we are sleeping, if an insect sits on the body, a light is flashed in the eye, or dust enters our nose, without our willing them, our limbs automatically move to swat the insect, we blink at the bright light, or sneeze because of the dust. Therefore, it is clear that in these Karma activities, there is some Jnana beyond our feelings. From what we have said about the Jnana Indriyas, the ‘I’ factor enters our feelings and conducts the activities. In respect to Karma Indriyas, a Jnana that is not controlled by the ‘I’ factor conducts the activities or movements.

Although our limbs move on their own, we can also move them at will. It is clear, therefore, that in spite of Karma Jnana being independent, it acts according to one’s jnana. When we move our limbs they appear to move according to our wish, but in reality it is Karma Jnana causing the movement.

Apart from these movements, the functions of the heart, lungs, stomach, liver and intestines also occur. This is not attributed to the above jnanas as they appear act on their own. The fact is that they act according to the wish of some unseen power with Jnana. Due to emotions like anger, fear and sorrow, the internal organ activity varies. We cannot voluntarily change the heartbeat or blood circulation. But the moment the emotions come into play, such changes take place in the organs without our knowledge.

If a harmful external agent enters the bloodstream of a person, the withe and red corpuscles multiply in number and fight to destroy the intruding agent. If a particle enters the lung, it is expelled. If we eat a sweet or sour food, different digestive enzymes are secreted in accordance. When we need extra energy, sugar stored in the liver is released. Thus, we can see from these various actions that there is some Jnana that carries out the required actions of the body. Physicians have agreed with this but are unable to locate the Jnana that causes them. They call it an ‘unconscious Jnana’. The Atma Jnanis knew about this long ago as the Manipooraka Chakra.

The ‘I’ consciousness, Karma Jnana, activates the limbs and other organs through the nerves. The entire nerve centre connecting all the internal organs are situated in the navel at the bottom of the Manipooraka Chakra and from there the entire system of internal organs is connected by nerves and their branches. Finally, this leads to the conclusion that the Jnana is situated at the Manipooraka Chakra.

Physiians who have come to realise this, have termed the area ‘the abdominal brain’. Manipooraka carries out digestive action, regulates gland secretion and controls the heat of the body. You will notice when a person is too warm, they will have stomach pain. When we are in deep sleep, the limbs do not move, but the Manipooraka Chakra continues to carry out all the functions of the internal organs. The bodily changes that result from emotional fluctuation are controlled by the Manipooraka Chakra. When any disease occurs, the Manipooraka Chakra ‘notifies’ the mind. Seasonal changes and changes in diet are also ‘handled’ by the Manipooraka which effects suitable actions in our internal organs accordingly.

Our lifespan and health are controlled by the Manipooraka Chakra. As long as it is acting in its natural manner, controlling our organs, we will be healthy. Thus it must be kindled to correct action properly. This may appear to be beyond our reach but we should make an effort to work with this energy. One way of doing this is as follows:

First, connect with the Manipooraka nerve and your Jnana. To achieve this, pranayama and udyana practices are required. Do pranayma by inhaling while pulling in your stomach to achieve this. In this state and with firm and deep conentration, the Manipooraka Chakra can be controlled according to our specifications, for health, youth, beauty, long life and other benefits by focusing on them. The Manipooraka Jnana will begin to act accordingly and cause the internal organs to function according to our objectives.

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Rod Briggs

U is for Understanding
In many ways our lives are journeys in understanding; the child’s dragon in the garden becomes a shadow for the adult of later years.

We grow from being amazed at the all-knowingness of our Fathers to parents of children (with the exception of teenagers) who think we are all knowing. This growth of understanding is a function of experience, simply the longer we’re around the more practice we get at life and, hopefully, the better we get at it.

When you look back over your journey so far you will quickly realise that it has entailed many changes in “truths” as your paradigm grew; new information, or life experiences, showed us that a previously held belief was held in error, or that there was a better mousetrap and we changed our view accordingly. The trick of course is to make sure that the new information is valid before taking it on board. In fact part of increasing our understanding involves us becoming less credulous and gullible while enhancing our discernment and critical thinking capability. While there have always been free thinking individuals, in previous years the majority have been content to go along with what their governments, churches, employers and newspapers told them.

The current generation, however finds itself in a place where the “big lie” is everywhere; the internet and multi-national media has helped create the “global village”, spin doctors make sure that we are told the facts with the correct slant on them, the more powerful the medium the more pervasive the propaganda, think about the global impact of Hollywood for example – the “American dream” has been thoroughly exported. The end result of this way of life is that the understanding you have about anything that society has taught you may not be as valid as it should be in that, rather than based on your experiences, it is often founded on biased information or assumptions.

What do you blindly accept without critically assessing, are you a critical thinker, is your understanding growing in the necessary areas of life? Although we all like to think we are free in our thinking ask yourself truthfully about your stance on any of the issues of the day and you will find that much, if not most of your understanding comes from external sources. Learn to challenge the norm and see things from the opposition’s point of view. You will be mastering the balance needed for true understanding. In the words of the Mahatma:
“Never let anyone walk though your mind with their dirty feet”

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Suren Pillay

Science and Meditation
Today more and more studies are being performed in the science of meditation. Recently I was fortunate enough to watch a documentary on studies performed by neurologists on healing and the effects of meditation on healing. I was happy to find that science is now confirming what the sages and saints of yore have confirmed ages ago. Many diseases including psoriasis and heart disease, which is the number one killer of humans around the world, have been linked to stress.

By studying the brain activity in an individual who is stressful and comparing the brain activity to one who is relaxed, science has now been able to confirm which activities of the brain are activated when one is happy and what area of the brain is activated when people are anxious or stressful.

A study performed on gauging the happiness of an individual through analysis of brain activity confirmed some startling results a few years ago. People in depression and anxiety always exhibited brain activity in the same area of the brain. Those who meditated however showed different parts of their brain to be activated. Those areas often associated with creativity, genius, and deep states of relaxation and love became activated. When a Buddhist monk was tested, his results reflected on the scale in terms of happiness.

The research conducted by science should inspire us even more to live productive and fulfilling lives. Meditation has been proven to alter brain activity, reduce stress and promote happiness and positivity in one’s life. People who practice meditation are inevitably more calm and efficient than those who don’t, and they also generally tend to enjoy life a little more, due to the positive effects of spiritual awareness in their living.

Dear brothers and sisters of Gayathri, never forget that it is just as important to go within yourself as it is to function in the outside world.

Aum, Shanti, Shalom, Amen!

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by Vishnu Moodley

Journey to Madurai
Pandya King Maladwaja, ruler of Madurai, longed for a child. Pleased with his great penance and austerities, Goddess Parvati, the divine consort of Lord Shiva, incarnated as his daughter, Meenakshi, meaning Fish-eyed Goddess. The beautiful girl grew gracefully into childhood, and had reached the age of marriage. Lord Shiva descended as Sundareswarar (meaning Beautiful Lord) to earth to wed his eternal half. The marriage, said to have been the biggest event on earth, was to be presided over by Lord Vishnu, the divine brother of Meenakshi, who would descend from his abode, Vaikunta. According to the divine plan, Vishnu was tricked by Indra and delayed on the way. Due to the passing of the propitious time, the matrimony was conducted by Koodal Azhagar. When Vishnu arrived, he was angered. He vowed never to enter the city of Madurai, taking rest at a hill on the outskirts of the city, which came to be known as Alagar Kovil. In time, Vishnu’s anger subsided and he came to bless the newly weds. The divine couple ruled over Madurai for a long time.

According to another legend, the Shiva lingam was discovered by Indra, who consequently built the temple around it. Another tale tells of a duel between Indra and the demon Virudran. Indra pursued Virudran, who reached the hilltop and began penance. Indra, blinded by fury, killed the defenseless demon. To ease a guilty conscience and absolve himself of the sin, Indra visited many temples. Whilst on the pilgrimage, he came across many Kadamba trees. Among them, he felt immense peace, and felt as though he was lifted of a guilty conscience. Under one of the trees, he found a Shiva lingam, and he consequently built a shrine around it.

The Meenakshi Amman Sundareeswarar Temple, commonly known as Madurai Meenakshi Kovil, is an ancient Hindu temple, dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi, and Lord Sundareeswarar (Shiva). It is located in Tamil Nadu, and is said to be more than 2500 years old and being the home of tamilians and the Tamil language. The temple is mentioned by the Tamil poet and patron of Saivite philosophy Thiru-gnanasambadar.

Elected for the modern seven wonders of the world, this architectural marvel houses towering gopurams (entrance domes), each boasting intricately designed and painted sculptures. The main sanctum sanctorum is older than 3500 years, with the external walls reaching close to 2000 years. The central shrine of Lord Sundareeswarar, built of silver, is special. It houses the lord as the eternal dancer Nadaraja, but the icon is unique. Nadaraja is usually portrayed as a dancer with his left foot raised. Legend has it that the king Rajasekhara Pandya, requested the lord to raise his other foot, due to the strain it would place on the foot touching the ground. He based this on his personal experience as a dancer. The Meenakshi shrine is less elaborate than that of Her consort. There is also an altar dedicated to Lord Ganesha, in the form of Mukuruni Vinayagar. This icon of Ganesha was found whilst digging the temple pond.

The temple also has a lake, known as Potramarai Kulam, meaning the lake with the Golden Lily, a reference to the lily growing here with a characteristic golden hue. Before entering the temple, devotees circumambulate the lake, believed to be holy. It is said that Shiva declared that no marine life shall grow in this lake. Hence no fish are found in the pond. The lake was also used in ancient times to judge Tamil works of prose. Authors would place their efforts in the water, and works with little literary worth would sink to the bottom.
Even though it is known as the thousand pillared hall, the pillars only amount to 985. Believed to be built by Prime Minister Aryanatha Mudaliyar, these pillars are intricately carved, and is preserved by the efforts of the Archaelogical Society of India. Another set of pillars is known as the Musical pillars, since each emits a different musical sound when struck. The Kalyana hall is the venue for the marriage of Shiva and Meenakshi.

Meenakshi Thirukalyanam is the divine matrimony of the holy pair. It is typically celebrated in mid April, and lasts for one month. Events include the chariot and float procession. Being a Shiva shrine as well, Shivarathri is also celebrated with great pomp, along with Navarathri, 9 sacred nights dedicated to the female aspect of God.