Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Notes for The Story of India by Michael Wood

Notebook for
The Story of India
Michael Wood
Citation (APA): Wood, M. (2018). The Story of India [Kindle Android version].

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But it seems to me that nowhere on Earth can you find all human histories, from the Stone Age to the global village, still thriving, as you can in India.
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‘the people of Asia, the Mongols, the Turks and the Arabs get tongue-tied speaking our Indian languages, but we Indians can speak any language of the world as easily as a shepherd tends his sheep’.
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Indian society is made up of nearly 5000 castes and communities, each with its own rules, customs and stories.
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It is also the second largest Muslim country on Earth, and the subcontinent as a whole has half of all Muslims in the world.
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Historical economists conjecture that India’s GDP was the largest in the world until around 1500,
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Leading financial analysts now predict that on present trends India’s GDP will overtake that of the USA in the late 2030s.
One: Origins and Identity
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but this was the route taken by the first humans out of Africa perhaps 80,000 years ago:
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Even now, small pockets of aboriginal peoples still survive around its shores.
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British district gazetteers recorded their names: the Kadar, Paniyan and Korava, the Yanadi Irula, Gadaba and Chenchu. Older than the Dravidian speakers around them, they remain distinct, self-contained, outside the caste system of Hindu India.
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Professor Pitchappan, a geneticist from Madurai University. He has made an extraordinary discovery working among the Kallar tribal people here. He’s found traces of the ancestral mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosomes from the earliest genetic heritage of India. By chance, his team tested a man called Virumandi and discovered that he carries the M130 gene from the first wave of migrations of modern humans out of Africa. To their surprise, they subsequently discovered that Virumandi’s whole village has M130 – carried down by isolation, by the strictures of the caste system, and by endogamy: the Kallar practice of first cousin marriage, the oldest and most characteristic form of kin marriage in southern India.
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‘If Adam came from Africa, Eve came from India.’ Mother India indeed!
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Between 3000 and 4000 years ago a new wave of migrants came into India from central Asia. Some of them moved into the south in the last millennium BC. They brought their Vedic rituals and their worship of Agni, the god of fire, but over time, the gods and rituals of the indigenous peoples were assimilated, and this was the synthesis out of which today’s Indian religions emerged. They called themselves ‘Aryans’(the Sanskrit word for ‘noble ones’), a term much abused in modern times by Nazis and other racial fundamentalists.
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(here, unlike in mainstream Hinduism, women play a role),
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What is certain too is that the symbols of procreative power –the stone lingam and yoni (male and female principles) –that are found in the worship of Shiva come out of the deep past.
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Charcoal from one of the early levels gave a carbon date of the sixth millennium BC, and there were 30 feet more debris underneath it!
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as late as the 1970s there was no evidence of agriculture in India much before 3000 BC,
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similarities of Sanskrit to Latin and Greek.
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the languages are connected; and the time depth of the ‘family tree’of the Indo-European languages precludes the idea of India as the place of origin.
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The Rig-Veda comprises about a thousand hymns. They were sung by families of bardic priests in praise of gods and kings.
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In the text of a treaty from the kingdom of Mitanni in northern Syria, datable to around 1380 BC, the names of the rulers, to scholars’great surprise, could be read perfectly as Sanskrit.
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The Rig-Veda hymns describe a bronze-using world (iron first appears in India around 1200 BC); their authors seem unaware of great cities, such as Mohenjo-Daro, and know only of ruins whose people have fled, ‘driven away by Agni, the god of fire’. All this combines to suggest that the bulk of hymns were composed after the Indus civilization.
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It was from this region, the Rig-Veda says, that the Aryans spread eastwards into India
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As we have seen, the world portrayed by the Rig-Vedic poets bears no recognizable relation to that of the Indus civilization; it has no memory of vast cities, except as ruins.
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The big picture, then, is that
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the evidence of the Rig-Veda shows that the newcomers saw themselves as conquerors, modelled on Indra himself.
Two: The Power of Ideas
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Megasthenes says there was a huge number of ‘nations’, and many sects that often violently disagreed among themselves.
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In Kashmir even into the last century there was a special court of five Hindu pandits, hereditary officers from the deep past, maybe descended from Ashoka’s, who tried breaches of the Hindu scriptures.
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Megasthenes reports, attendants stretched out ropes to keep the crowd back and ‘to cross the rope was punishable by death’.
Three: The Growth of Civilization
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(The word ‘pepper’, incidentally, like ‘rice’, comes from the Tamil.)
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During the nineteenth century Baghdadi Jewish families, such as the Sassoons, built spice warehouses in ‘Jewtown’in old Cochin.
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The Apostle Thomas is supposed to have landed at the Periyar river around 50 AD with the aim of introducing Christianity to India, and a gleaming white Syrian Christian basilica stands on the spot today.
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Is that how an Indian ivory statuette of the goddess Lakshmi found its way to Pompeii, where it was buried in the eruption of AD 79?
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the wise maiden’s lamp of first-century Palestine still burns as the flame at puja time in India’s tropical south.
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The inner streets are named after the Tamil months, and were part of the pattern of the city from its earliest days.
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This Iron Age culture developed in the last centuries BC into an urban civilization with writing that was adopted after contact with the Mauryan Empire in the third century BC.
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In 21 BC, during the reign of Augustus, a Pandyan embassy went from Madurai all the way by sea to Rome.
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Tamil literature is as rich as any in western Europe –only Greek and Latin are older.
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India’s oldest living classical language:
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It may have been Vima who inaugurated a new era in AD 78, which survives as the Shaka era
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Jambudvipa [‘rose apple continent’, that is the inhabited world].’
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The lid shows the Buddha on a lotus pedestal, worshipped by Brahma, the creator god of the Hindus, and Indra, the old sky god of the Rig-Veda.
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with their flat rooftops and timber balakhana screens (source of our word ‘balcony’),
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In the indigenous Indian tradition of medicine, Ayurveda, the physician Caraka (or Charaka), one of its two traditional ‘founders’(whose works are still passed down in lineages by oral teaching), is said to have been the guru of Kanishka, and is the subject of many legendary tales as far away as China.
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For example, the tradition in Indian religious art of many-armed, many-headed gods seems to have started in Mathura, defining forever the representation of the Brahminical deities.
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particular artistic innovations are so useful that they transform ways of seeing: and this meeting of Greek, Indian and central Asian styles on Indian soil in the second century AD proved so successful that regional cultures across the subcontinent swiftly adapted it to their own uses,
Four: Medieval India: Age of Gold and Iron
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golden age of the Ramrajya, the rule of Rama. Golden ages, though, are problematical things, for they never exist in reality; they are imagined pasts –literary creations made for a purpose, and capable of very different readings, both creative and destructive.
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no meat, eggs or alcohol are permitted in God’s city.
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Curiously enough, it was under them that most Hindu temples here were built in the century-long heyday of Awadhi culture,
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And the town of Ayodhia is the theatre where myth has been translated into modern metaphor.
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yellow sign of the Vaishnavaites, like an inverted tuning fork,
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But the point is that the tale told by the traditional Brahmins and pilgrim guides here takes place in another aeon.
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A different view of the tale’s
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Three figures in Indian religion and myth have the name Rama,
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Now Sita means ‘the furrow’and is the name of a goddess of agriculture in some ancient Sutras; in one text, the Harivamsa, she is the goddess of farmers. Perhaps these clues point to an aboriginal or pre-Aryan origin to the tale?
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Lanka is now identified with Sri Lanka, but this is not recorded as an early name of that island, and it is possible that the city of the demon king was originally envisioned by poets as much nearer to hand. More likely, though, it is a fairy-tale city,
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According to the Brahmins, the Mahabharata was ‘what happened’in the heroic age, just before ‘real’history; the Ramayana is ‘what is always’, which means it is disengaged from historical chronologies.
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the ground opens up and swallows Sita, who is taken back by Mother Earth, just as Medea is taken back by the gods in the Greek myth.
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Elizabethan visitor Ralph Fitch, among ‘certain Brahmins who record the names of all such Indians as wash themselves in the river running thereby’.
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Saketa, the name by which it had been known to the ancient Greeks.
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The old Brahminical religion had suffered eclipse when Buddhism was the chief religion of India
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For the historian the Hindu cycle of rebirths is a sine qua non!
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(tragedy seems to be unknown as a genre in Indian drama –perhaps the law of karma would preclude it?).
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science of pleasure was one of the principal sciences, along with dharma (virtue) and artha (prosperity), one of the three aims of human life.
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in present-day India, which has a growing Aids problem, these ancient writings are now being used as educational texts for prostitutes.
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One concomitant, for example, was the conversion of huge numbers of Indians to Islam. This phenomenon is not yet satisfactorily explained by historians; no doubt it was partly through coercion, but in part too a reaction to the hierarchical and oppressive nature of Brahminical religion in many places towards the lower castes, and, a response to the democratic bent of Islam. But this great historical movement began with violence.
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Dara Shikoh’s Persian translation of the Bhagavadgita,
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(the phallic stone of Shiva)
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Manaat, the last of the pagan idols that had existed in Mecca before the days of the Prophet,
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But al-Biruni, who learnt Sanskrit and consulted with Hindu holy men, asserted that the fundamental religious beliefs of the Indians were the same as those of Islam, and that idol worship was only a superficial issue, an aid to the poor and simple.
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The architect of the expansion was Arulmoli, subsequently known as Rajaraja (king of kings), who came to the throne in 985.
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Rajaraja’s sister Kundavi.
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(And could it perhaps be –given the insistently personal nature of the foundation –that the shrine was planned also to mark the eventual burial place of the king’s ashes?)
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Upstairs, in the upper ambulatory gallery, unfinished at the king’s death in 1014, is a great sequence of sculpted panels of the 108 poses of the dance, the Bharat Natyam, in the exact sequence of the ancient text book, the Natya Shastra.
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Carnatic wars (1746–63).
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Although India was never united as a state, it is likely that through these centuries the subcontinent was the richest and most populous part of the world.
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There is a Muslim Rama story told by the Mopylas, the old boat-building caste of Kerala: a tale of ‘Sultan Ram’set firmly in tropical southern India in a Muslim milieu. There is even a Tamil ‘Life of the Prophet’modelled on the Tamil Ramayana.
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Nothing is denied to him when his historicity is denied.
Five: The Rule Of Reason: The Great Mughuls
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Humayun’s wife Haminda Banu Begum had, up until then, given birth only to daughters, and it was said that she swapped babies with the rana of Umarcot’s wife, who gave birth at the same time. Akbar, therefore, was really born a Hindu!
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Akbar’s policy of religious tolerance and favour owed much to these Iranians.
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Sufi ibn Arabi’s ideas about the ‘unity of being’. The doctrine claimed no rational basis, but was a strong challenge to orthodoxy in its proposal that all that is not part of divine reality is an illusion.
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sacred confluence of the Ganges and Jumna, the place of creation in Hindu myth.
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his idea that Muslims and Hindus should be made equal before the law – an idea that has not quite yet been achieved even in independent India.
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In his nearly fifty-year reign Akbar established India as one of the great powers.
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This pre-British economy of India has often been portrayed as a golden age, when late Mughal India was a great manufacturing nation as well as an agricultural one.
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But new studies suggest that the gross domestic product of India, possibly the largest in the world during the Middle Ages, declined dramatically and was probably lower than that of Europe by the eighteenth century.
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The hierarchical nature of the caste system, with its control over village life from top to bottom, no doubt aided the acceptance of such crippling exactions.
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Educated in the religious texts of both religions, Dara took his stand on the Koran’s revelation (in Sura 56) that before the Prophet Muhammad, God had sent humanity messengers to all peoples –and given them scriptures.
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The wisdom of India, then, was just that: the earliest spiritual vision of humanity.
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Dara’s translation of the Upanishads played a major role in the discovery of India in Europe in the early nineteenth century,
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Of course, it was impossible that such enquiries in a great prince could be seen as non-political.
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but as we look at it now, sixty years on from Independence and Partition, when the effort of mutual comprehension failed, this seed of reconciliation is worth pause.
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He is suggesting British had no hand in partition?
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‘The Confluence of the Two Oceans’.
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southern court in Tanjore during the eighteenth century, which imported Western texts on medicine, optics, anatomy and surgery.)
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Hinduism among India’s elites (as opposed to religion at the popular level) might have evolved on a path more in line with its monotheistic potential
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He even attempted to outlaw music and wine-making, and to ban Diwali.
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His simple tomb, open to the sky at Khuldabad, is still reverently maintained, and visited by wandering dervishes.
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Aurangzeb, more than most, paved the way for the problems of the modern period, leading to Partition.
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the 1765 treaty with the Mughals gave the British the diwan, the rule of Bengal, and, above all, the right to collect taxes.
Six: Freedom and Liberation
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The mythological navel of the Earth, it is a place whose symbolic life is even richer than its real history.
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Between the 1760s and 1799 the British fought four wars with the Muslim rulers of Mysore, who were French allies,
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Lord Macaulay’s 1835 edict on Indian education, which announced the replacement of Persian by English as the new language of government.
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India was now to be taught the new secular dharma of the West.
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To achieve this they set about the ideological and practical construction of modernity in India. Time, space, geography, caste, religion –all would be redefined by the supposedly superior knowledge, science and ethics of the imperialists.
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Sir George Everest, for example, after whom the world’s highest mountain is named,
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The imposition of the British legal system was another crucial introduction, along with the codifying of Hindu and Muslim law, and the detailed categorizing of caste in Indian society, as customary law was caste-based.
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their attack on the ancient Gond culture in Orissa,
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Texts such as the Bhagavadgita or the Tamil Tiruvasagam were given Christianizing interpretations by missionary scholars, quarrying the monotheistic or monist strand in Hindu thought. There was and still is some truth in such ideas, though the great medieval teaching texts of the Saivas and Vaishnavas could equally well be used to demonstrate that these were separate religious systems, with different supreme deities and different sacred texts, rituals and eschatologies.
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The British project also involved giving a British education to the native ruling class, who would interpret their own culture to the Indian masses in British terms.
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As we have seen throughout this book, India had never existed as one unified state at any time in its history,
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But it was the British who first conceived of India as a political unity; a country rather than a state of mind.
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‘There is no such thing as India’.
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The strong perception far back in time, then, is of a broad cultural unity.
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‘a single shelf of a good European library is worth the whole native literature of India’
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The last four decades of the Victorian era coincided with a disastrous phase in the world climate:
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From Bengal down to the south, India was caught up in a cycle of global famine that began with the failure of the El Niño world climate system.
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3 million people died in one year, and there were 6 million homeless.
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in some regions not touched by famine grain was even shipped abroad.
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The story of the Indian freedom movement from 1885 to 1947 has generally been told to the outside world through the powerful and seductive narrative of the Congress.
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that the idea of a separate country for Muslims was first mooted by a Hindu nationalist in 1924.
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Did the British tacitly approve it because it would help them divide and rule in the post-war, cold war world? Full publication of the papers in the last forty years at least absolves the British of that.
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The historical parallels are instructive. When the American states debated after 1776, the powerful ones conceded rights and powers to the small in order to achieve the Union.
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The Discovery of India
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militant RSS
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ironically, the dig proved that there had been no significant structure on the site before the Middle Ages:
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But the world’s largest democracy is now firmly set on the path of growth and change, and will go about it in the way that Indian people have always done –adopting what is useful from the outside and holding on tenaciously to the old goals of life inherited from their past.
Further Reading
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Many of the great texts of Indian history are easily available in translation: the Rig Veda for example by Wendy Doniger (Penguin, 1981),
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P. Richmann’s Many Ramayanas
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The Kamasutra is published in Oxford World’s Classics by Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar (2002).
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1993). I have contributed to a recent study of one great southern religious centre: Chidambaram (ed. V. Nanda, Marg, 2004)
Picture Section
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An Indian hump-backed bull with huge dewlaps.
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The harvesting of pepper trees in Kerala from a medieval manuscript.
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The Peutinger Table, a map of the Roman world, showing (bottom right) the port of Muziris on the Kerala backwaters with its ‘temple of Augustus’.
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Rajaraja the Great and his guru Karuvur Devar: one of the Cholan paintings hidden inside the temple’s shrine ambulatory.
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Inside the inner sanctum of the great temple: incredibly privileged access granted by the priests allowed these extraordinary images to be taken of the beautiful ceremonies at the Shiva lingam, dedicated by Rajaraja himself in 1010.
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and Romila Thapar for kind words of advice to a young beginner many years back.
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there are many contentious topics, such as the ‘Aryan’invasion, or the interpretation of Islam and Hinduism in the Middle Ages to name but two, and the conclusions drawn are mine alone;

Friday, November 24, 2017

Living with Himalayan Masters - Notes from Book

Notebook for
Living with the Himalayan Masters
Swami Rama

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CHILDHOOD IS THE FOUNDATION STONE UPON which stands the whole life structure . The seed sown in childhood blossoms into the tree of life . The education which is imparted in childhood is more important than the education which is received in colleges and universities . In the process of human growth , proper guidance along with environmental learning is important .
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If one does not learn to listen to the music of nature and appreciate her beauty , then that which impels man to seek love at its fountain may be lost in the remotest antiquity .
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When one learns to hear the music of nature and appreciate her beauty , then his soul moves in harmony with its entire environment .
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The mind of man should be trained to love nature before he looks through the corridor of his life .
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This is a land where Sandhya Bhasha was born .
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It is a purely yogic language , spoken by only a few fortunate yogis , sages , and adepts . Philosophically and ideally , it is very similar to Sanskrit , for every word of Sandhya Bhasha flows full of meaning from its root sound .
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when ida and pingala [ the left and right energy channels of the human body ] equally flow , that union is called s andhya or sushumna .
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( The grammar of the Vedas is called Nirukta . ) Similarly , the grammar of Sandhya Bhasha is completely based on sounds and is diminishing .
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Many Sanskrit poems , such as Mahimna - stotra , are sung as though a traveler were going up and coming down from the Himalayas .
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I realized that nature is very peaceful . She disturbs only those who disturb themselves , but she teaches wisdom to those who admire and appreciate her beauty . This is especially true in the Himalayas .
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I was told that the soma creeper comes from the succulent family and grows at the height of 11,000 to 18,000 feet .
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I never picked a flower again . Beauty is to be admired and not to be used , possessed , or destroyed
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The currents would never turn back , but another mass of water would fill the gap . There was always continuity . Those streams are like the perennial flow of life .
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Long ago , sailors learned that drinking water from the Ganges carried by ships traveling from Calcutta to London did not stagnate , but water from the Thames carried by ships traveling from London to India had to be replaced by fresh water along the way .
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Taking a bath in a river and making pilgrimages from one shrine to another will not free you from the bondage of karma . Such belief is only superstition and has no logic . ”
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In the high mountains , bhoja patra grows and supplies bark paper , which the villagers use to record their experiences , their ways of worship , and the usage of the herbs .
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Throughout these mountains , Shakti worship is prominent ,
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The month of July is the finest month for traveling in the Himalayas .
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It is not unpleasantly cold , and those who know the nature of glaciers , avalanches , and landslides can travel comfortably if they are careful .
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The Great Vehicle of Buddhism , Mahayana , passed across the Himalayan borders , first to Tibet and then to China , greatly enriching Chinese culture and religion .
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In a true spiritual tradition the teacher gives so much to his student that the student’s life is overwhelmed and transformed .
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The word yeti is misused for “ snowman . ” It is a Sanskrit word which means a renunciate , an austere person , and is the name of a group of renunciate sadhus who belong to one of the orders of Shankaracharya . How strange to use this word for a snowman ; yetis are human beings and not snowmen !
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The cave is kept quite warm by the dhooni , a fire which is never extinguished .
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There are certain hermitages where masters still teach their students in the ancient manner . There , the teacher lives in a natural cave and the disciples come from various places to study and practice with him .
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YOUNG AGE IS THE BUDDING PERIOD OF THE FLOWER of life . It needs protection so that the diverse opinions of others do not create confusion in the mind .
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This is the period of shaping the habits of the mind .
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There is a narrow barrier between selfishness and selflessness , love and hatred .
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Teachers , by testing their students , teach self - discipline and promote self - reliance .
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It is said in the scriptures that with the help of sankalpa shakti ( the power of determination ) nothing is impossible .
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The whole search for enlightenment is to seek within , to become aware that you are complete in yourself .
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“ When we devote our mind , energy , and resources to believing in that which is non - existent , then it appears to exist , and that is maya . Don’t contemplate on evil , devils , sins , avidya , or maya and thereby put yourself in a state of stress and worry .
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“ Many people confuse attachment with love . But in attachment you become selfish , interested in your own pleasure , and you misuse love .
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When yogis speak of non - attachment they are not teaching indifference , but are teaching how to genuinely and selflessly love others .
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Truth is the ultimate goal of human life , and if it is practiced with mind , speech and action , the goal can be reached . Truth can be attained by practicing non - lying and by not doing those actions which are against one’s own conscience . Conscience is the best of guides .
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No one can show God to anyone else . One has to independently realize his real self ; thereby he realizes the self of all , which is called God .
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Our mother is our first teacher , then our father , and then our brothers and sisters . Later we learn from the children with whom we play , from teachers at school , and from the writers of books . No matter what you have learned , you have not learned a single thing independently of others . So far all that you have learned is a contribution from others . And from whom have they learned ? They have also learned from others .
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I pity you because you have not learned anything independently
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The knowledge on which you depend is not at all your knowledge . That is why it is not satisfying , no matter how much of it you possess .
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Indirect knowledge is of course informative , but not fulfilling .
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He who is called an intellectual man today only collects facts from various books and scriptures
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Exploiting the noble tradition by selling mantras in the marketplace is absurd .
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Mantra is exactly like a human being having many sheaths : gross , subtle , more subtle , and subtlest . Take , for example , Aum . These three letters actually represent the three states ( waking , dreaming , and sleeping ) or the three bodies ( gross , subtle , and more subtle ) . But the fourth state or the finest body of the mantra is formless , soundless , and indefinable . A student , if he understands the process of laya yoga ( dissolution ) , can know the formless body and superconsciousness of mantra . Mantra is very powerful and essential , a compact form of prayer . If remembered constantly , it becomes a guide .
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“ No matter where you live , live cheerfully .
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There is a type of mantra called apta mantra which belongs uniquely to the particular sage who imparts it .
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Mantra becomes helpful when the mind is purified and directed inward . Without knowing the meaning of the mantra , the proper feeling cannot be aroused , and without strong feeling , mantra and its technical repetition is not of much use .
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Among all the methods for training and therapies , the highest of all is that of self - training in which one remains conscious of one’s mind , actions , and speech .
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In learning to control the mind and its modifications , it is essential to go through the process of self - observation , analysis , and meditation .
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Learning to control the mind and careful study of the relationship between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind took me a long time .
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The third chapter of the Yoga Sutras explains many methods of attaining siddhis [ powers ] , but these siddhis create stumbling blocks in the path of enlightenment .
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Mandukya Upanishad , which explains the three states of mind — waking , dreaming , sleeping — and the fourth state , turiya , which is termed as “ the state beyond . ”
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Happiness is the greatest wealth of all . Punctuality is essential . Practicing advanced methods of breathing is equally important . The technique of agelessness is a technique of pranayama . ”
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TO CULTIVATE THE QUALITY OF HUMILITY IS ONE step toward enlightenment . By being humble we gain much and lose nothing . Prayer and contemplation strengthen our willpower in cultivating this inner quality .
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He quoted the dialogue between Rama and Hanuman in the Yoga Vasishtha and said , “ ‘ Eternally we are one and the same , but as human beings , you are still a servant and I am your master . ’ Modern man tries to have the position of a master without attaining anything . ”
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It is not action that ought to be renounced , but the fruit of action .
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“ The Upanishads appear to be full of contradictions . In one place they say that Brahman is one without a second . Somewhere else they say that everything is Brahman . In a third place they say this world is false and Brahman alone is truth . And in a fourth place it is said that there is only one absolute Reality beneath all these diversities . How can one make sense out of these conflicting statements ? ”
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there are no contradictions in the teachings of the Upanishads . These teachings are received directly by the great sages in a deep state of contemplation and meditation .
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“ When the student starts practicing , he realizes that this apparent world is changeable , while truth never changes . Then he knows that the world of forms and names which is full of changes is false , and that behind it there exists an absolute Reality that is unchanging . In the second step , when he has known the truth , he understands that there is only one truth and that truth is omnipresent , so there is really nothing like falsehood . In that stage he knows that reality which is one and the same in both the finite and infinite worlds . But there is another , higher , state in which the aspirant realizes that there is only one absolute Reality without second , and that that which is apparently false is in reality a manifestation of the absolute One .
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“ The teachings of the Upanishads are not understood by the ordinary mind or even by the intellectual mind . Intuitive knowledge alone leads to understanding them . ”
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have no selfish desire to acquire things for yourself . Give up all anger , greed , and attachment . Practice meditation regularly .
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“ He doesn’t talk to anyone or look at anyone ; he doesn’t even eat . This is the third month he has been in the same place without getting up . We have never seen such a man . ” This state is called ajagar - vritti , which means “ python’s tendency . ”
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Buddha said , “ For a wise man , there is nothing to be called bad . Any adversity of life provides a step for his growth , provided he knows how to utilize it . ”
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A human being knows enough , but that knowledge needs to be brought into daily life . If this is not done , the knowledge remains limited within the boundaries of knowing only . We all know what to do and what not to do , but it is very difficult to learn how to be . Real knowledge is found not in knowing but rather in being .
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A large ant was brought . He cut it into three pieces and separated them . Then he closed his eyes and sat motionless . After a moment the three parts moved toward each other . They joined together , and the revived ant scurried away .
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If you know all about the piano but don’t practice , you will never create music . Knowing is useless without practice . Knowing is mere information . Practice gives direct experience , which alone is valid knowledge . ”
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The education given to modern children is very superficial . Without any discipline , control over the mind is not possible — and without control of the mind , direct experience is impossible . ”
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The human mind is a great wonder and magician . It can assume the form of both a devil and a divine being any time it wishes .
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Dreaming is a natural state of mind . It is an intermediate state between waking and sleeping . When the senses are prevented from receiving the sense perceptions , the mind starts recalling the memories from the unconscious . All the hidden desires also lie in the unconscious , waiting to find their fulfillment . When the senses are not perceiving the objects of the world and the conscious mind is at rest , then recalled memories start coming forward and they are called dreams . Through dreams we can analyze a level of our hidden personality .
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If there is only one existence , which is omnipresent and omniscient , then where is the place for the existence of the devil ?
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it is natural for any living creature to be in a state of meditation near someone who is in deep meditation .
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Fear gives birth to insecurity , which creates imbalance in the mind , and this influences one’s behavior .
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animals are more dedicated lovers than human beings . Their friendship can be relied upon . It is unconditional , while relationships between people are full of conditions
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If the instinctive sensitivity for our relation to others is regained , we can become realized without much effort .
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THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION IS THE PATH OF THE razor’s edge . It is for a fortunate few , and not for all . Non - attachment and knowledge of the self are two important prerequisites on this path .
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“ The finest hours are the hours of night , but very few know how to utilize their worth and silence . Three categories of people remain awake at night : the yogi , the bhogi [ sensualist ] , and the rogi [ sick person ] .
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“ Closing the eyes unconsciously , without having any content in the mind , is sleep .
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Closing the eyes consciously is a part of meditation .
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A candle light is extinguished by the breeze very easily , but if that light is protected and allowed to catch the forest , it will grow into a forest fire . Then the breeze helps that fire instead of extinguishing it . Similarly , when an aspirant , with the help of discipline , protects the flame of desire burning within , it grows more and more .
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Attachment is one of the strongest obstacles created by us .
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There are four ways of removing these obstacles . First , if there is no object , the human mind cannot become attached to it .
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Second , while having all the objects of the world , if we learn the technique of using them as means , then the objects are not able to create obstacles for us .
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The third way is the path of conquest , in which one learns to do his actions skillfully and selflessly , surrendering the fruits of his actions for the benefits of others .
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Fourth , by self - surrender one surrenders himself and all that he owns to the Lord and leads a life of freedom from all attachments .
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He wanted me to taste the things of the world , to come to understand their worth , and to analyze and then renounce them .
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Simple living and elevated thoughts help in creating an aesthetic sense .
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Renunciation is a path of fire , and should be followed only by those who have burned their worldly desires .
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The swami concluded that the world actually worships the ego in the name of God .
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[ Shankara established four institutions in different sections of India , and a fifth institution at a place where he spent his last days .
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Remember this , as Swami Vivekananda says : “ Fortune is like a flirt — she will run away from you when you want her , but if you are not interested in her , she will come chasing you . ”
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Decide that no matter what happens , you will do what you set out to do . If you are determined , possible distractions will still be there — but you will continue on your path and remain undisturbed . Sankalpa ( determination ) is very important . You cannot change your circumstances , the world , or your society to suit you . But if you have strength and determination you can go through this procession of life very successfully .
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“ Attachment was my mother , and anger was my father .
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Meditation will become your very nature when you give up attachment , anger , and pride . Then you will not have to pose for meditation , for your whole life will be a sort of meditation .
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There are many paths to enlightenment generally referred to in yoga , but actually there are six main paths , and bhakti yoga , the path of devotion , is one of them .
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Jñana yoga is a path of knowledge , and is called the yoga of the intellect .
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Karma yoga is a path followed by those who believe in doing duties selflessly .
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Kundalini yoga is one of the aspects of yoga which is practiced by those who understand a great deal about the body , the nervous system , and the various channels of energy in the human body .
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The primal force , which remains in the sleeping state at the base of the spinal column , is consciously awakened and led through the sushumna to the highest of the chakras , where the Shakti principle unites with the Shiva principle .
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Raja yoga is a path of systematic discipline which leads the student upward along the eight - runged ladder to a state called samadhi , or union with the absolute Reality .
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Sri Vidya , in which the microcosm and macrocosm are thoroughly understood , is the highest of all the paths and is practiced by only very few accomplished ones .
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There is no superior or inferior path . It is immaterial which path one follows , but one should carefully watch one’s own modifications of mind and learn not to identify with them . ”
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“ There are three levels of healing : physical , mental , and spiritual . Man is a citizen of these three levels . One who has spiritual power can heal others on all levels , but if he tries to make healing his profession , his mind and will - force will again start running toward worldly grooves .
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Misuse of spiritual power weakens and distracts the very basis of that power , which is called ichchha shakti .
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The healing energy is flowing without any interruption in every human heart . By the right use of the dynamic will , these channels of healing energy can be directed to the suffering part of the body and mind .
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The key to healing is selflessness , love , dynamic will , and undivided devotion to the Lord within . ”
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Fanatic devotion to a country , even one as spiritually great as India , does not befit a man of God . ”
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Through this I learned how power corrupts a nation and destroys its culture and civilization . The surest way to destroy a country and its culture is by first changing its language . The British were successful because they did this
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The surest way to destroy a country and its culture is by first changing its language . The British were successful because they did this .
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Unifying the language of India is one of the greatest tasks that the people and the government have yet to complete .
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We have still to think about the fundamental reconstruction of the whole order of Indian society through literature , science , art , and education .
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Then the caste system in India was structured according to distribution of labor — but it was completely changed by the Britishers , who created hatred with their policy of divide and rule .
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The poverty in India is not because of spirituality , but because of not practicing spirituality and not knowing the technique of integrating spirituality with external life .
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The science of chakra is very terse , but if one knows this science well it serves him on all levels .
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These energy centers correspond in the physical body to points along the spinal cord . The lowest is located at the coccyx , the second in the sacral area , the third at the navel , the fourth at the heart , the fifth at the base of the throat , the sixth at the point between the eyebrows , and the seventh at the crown of the head .
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Sir John Woodroffe )
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According to the science of tantra , male and female are two principles of the universe called Shiva and Shakti . These two principles exist within each individual .
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Indian philosophy is divided into seven systems , which attempt to answer the most basic philosophical inquiries .
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Who am I ?
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The seven systems of Indian philosophy which address themselves to these issues are Vedanta , Yoga , Sankhya , Vaisheshika , Mimamsa , Nyaya , and Buddhism
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The individual soul is essentially Brahman , all - inclusive , all - expansive . The genderless Aum is its name ; it is the nucleus — and the universe is its expansion .
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All the schools of Indian philosophy have included something from Sankhya philosophy in their systems . This system is the very basis of Indian psychology . It gave birth to the positive science of mathematics and then to the medical system of India , for to understand the body is to understand all human nature .
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Another swami brought three quarts of warm water and told me to do an upper wash . [ This yogic technique for cleansing the stomach involves drinking a large quantity of water and then vomiting it up . ]
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If we follow religion without practicing the Truth , it is like the blind leading the blind . Those who belong to God love all . Love is the religion of the universe .
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Christianity analyzes life with the help of theology and stops at the barrier of faith , while Buddhism rationalizes life and stops at nirvana .
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This saffron garb stands for the color of fire . Only one who has burnt all worldly desires into the fire of knowledge is permitted to wear it .
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There are ten orders of swamis and several of sadhus . Out of the ten orders of swamis , four of them are exclusively for brahmins , because the brahmins practice and learn spiritual books from their early childhood . The environment in which they are brought up is spiritual . They study the scriptures of wisdom and thus can impart the knowledge properly , but the other six orders are given to other classes .
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The story of a pair of white pigeons is very famous in this area . It is said that a pair of white pigeons come on the day of pilgrimage .
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Kashmir Shaivism has many scriptures still untranslated and unexplained . So much is left unsaid in these great scriptures that they are only understood by those fortunate ones who are on the path and have already understood something of it .
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This philosophy views the spirit , mind , body , and all levels of reality in the entire universe as a manifestation of the principle termed spanda , spontaneous vibration . The subject matter of these scriptures is shaktipata and awakening the latent force buried in human beings .
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I don’t consider levitation to be a spiritual practice . It is an advanced practice of pranayama with application of bandhas ( locks ) .
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Intuition is the only source of true knowledge .
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‘ Churchianity . ’ ”
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The reincarnations of God are the messengers of the sages .
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Freedom is one of the prime messages given by the sages , but it has been obstructed so much that today’s religious man lives like a slave , terrified and obsessed by evil and devils .
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I started looking forward to that day to come when all of humanity will follow the religion of man by worshipping one truth and practicing love . Then there will be no place for hatred , jealousy , and other prejudices of life .
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SELF - SURRENDER IS THE HIGHEST AND EASIEST method for enlightenment . One who has surrendered himself is always protected by the divine power .
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The aspect of psychology which is termed transpersonal or transcendental psychology is beyond the grasp of modern scientists . The perennial psychology of the ancients which has been cultivated for several centuries in the past is an exact science . It is based on the finest knowledge , which is called intuition .
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Everyone there drank green tea mixed with an herb called gangatulsi ( Artemisia cina ) .
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It is called Khat - Dharshana or Six Systems of Indian Philosophy .
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There is a special posture and a breathing technique which helped to protect me from the cold .
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one a commentary on Mahimnastotra — Hymns of the Lord .
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A stage comes when intellect cannot guide us , and only intuition can show us the way .
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It dawns only when the mind attains a state of tranquility , equilibrium , and equanimity .
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“ Without being God - fearing , love for God is not possible , and without love for God , realization is impossible . ”
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you’ll also find genuine astrological practitioners . If you decide to consult one , before you arrive he may write a description of your whole life , and on the front will be your name . It will be waiting for you when you arrive , even if you have not told anyone you are going to see him . Such an ability is rare . You will find it at only two or three places , but it is quite genuine . ]
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He said , “ Even death can be prevented . ”
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If the mind is trained , made one - pointed and inward , it also has power to penetrate into the deeper levels of our being . It is the finest instrument that a human being can ever have .
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If you look at someone with full attention by focusing your conscious mind , it can immediately influence him .
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book Chakravarti’s Mathematics .
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When the mind is focused externally on some object , it is called gaze ; when it is focused internally , it is called concentration .
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One may gaze at the space between the two eyebrows , the bridge between the two nostrils , a candle light in a dark room , the early morning sun , or the moon .
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I am demonstrating this so that you can understand how a man can influence the mind of another from any part of the world if it is for a good reason . Helping others is possible from a distance . ”
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Mathematics has the digit 1 . All other digits are multiples of the same 1 . Similarly , there is only one absolute Reality and all the names and forms of the universe are multiple manifestations of that One .
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make a zero first , then put one afterwards : 01 . Every zero has value if the one is put first , but zero has no value if the one is not put first . All the things of the world are like zeros , and without being conscious of the one Reality they have no value at all . When we remember the one Reality , then life becomes worthwhile . Otherwise it is burdensome . ”
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Aghor is a path which has been described in the Atharva Veda ,
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He had the power to transform matter into different forms , like changing a rock into a sugar cube . One after another the next morning he did many such things . He told me to touch the sand — and the grains of sand turned into almonds and cashews . I had heard of this science before and knew its basic principles , but I had hardly believed such stories .
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He was very gentle with me , all the time discussing the tantra scriptures . He said , “ This science is dying . Learned people do not want to practice it , so there will be a time when this knowledge will be forgotten . ” I asked , “ What is the use of doing all this ? ” He said , “ What do you mean by ‘ use ’ ? This is a science , and a scientist of this knowledge should use it for healing purposes , and should tell other scientists that matter can be changed into energy and energy into matter . The law that governs matter and energy is one and the same . Beneath all names and forms there lies one unifying principle , which is still not known in its entirety by modern scientists . Vedanta and the ancient sciences described this underlying principle of life . There is only one life - force , and all the forms and names in this universe are but varieties of that One .
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When water becomes solid , it is called ice ; when it starts evaporating , it is called vapor . Young children do not know that these three are forms of the same matter , and that essentially there is no difference in their composition . The difference is only in the form it takes . The scientists today are like children . They do not realize the unity behind all matter , nor the principles for changing it from one form to another . ”
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The preliminary steps — control of actions , speech , dietary habits , and other appetites — are essential requisites in preparation .
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THE POWER OF SELF - HEALING IS BURIED IN THE TOMB of every human life . By uncovering the potentials of that power one can heal oneself .
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Healing is a natural power in man .
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“ If a human being remains constantly aware of the purpose of his life and directs all his actions toward the fulfillment of that purpose , there remains nothing impossible for him . Those who are not aware of the purpose of life are easily caught by the whirlpool of miseries . ”
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A human being is fully equipped with all necessary healing powers , but does not know their usage . The moment he comes in touch with the healing potentials within , he can heal himself . All the powers belong to only one God . A human being is only an instrument .
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The Ayurvedic method of treating disease is divided into two sections : Nidana and Pathya .
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Preventive and alternative medicine should not be ignored .
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In music all over the world there are seven key notes , which personify seven levels of consciousness .
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familiarity breeds contempt .
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A guru is different from a teacher . Guru is a compound of two words , gu and ru . Gu means “ darkness ” ; ru means “ light ” : that which dispels the darkness of ignorance is called guru .
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There is a vast difference between an ordinary teacher and a spiritual master .
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Guru is not a physical being . Thosewho think of the guru as a body or as a man do not understand this pious word .
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Never forget that guru is not the goal . Guru is like a boat for crossing the river . It is very important to have a good boat , and it is very dangerous to have a boat that is leaking .
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The power of will - force is very little known among modern men . There are three channels of power : one is called kriya shakti , another is called ichchha shakti , and the third is called jñana shakti .
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Developing ichchha shakti strengthens willpower , and with the help of willpower one can have command over the phenomenal world exactly as one has command over his limbs .
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What is called Tibetan yoga is actually a distorted form of tantra — the part of tantra which is called vama marga ( the left - hand path ) .
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enlightened . Much of the literature found in Tibet is a translation of the Puranic stories of the Hindus . Some of that literature is Taoism and Confucianism mingled with Buddhism , but there is nothing systematic or philosophically original .
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remembered a saying that goes : “ The scriptures belong to those who study them , not to those fools who own them but do not know their contents . ”
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“ Please convince me so that I understand the technique of para - kaya pravesha . ”
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Miracles like this show that a human being has such abilities , and in the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras Patanjali , the codifier of yoga science , explains all the siddhis
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“ In our external way of life we come from Shankara’s order , but actually our spiritual tradition is different from any institutional traditions existing in India . ”
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Solar science is one of the highest of the advanced yoga sciences which can help humanity today by eliminating suffering . According to my grandmaster it involves a particular type of meditation on the solar plexus , and is very beneficial for removing all obstacles created by physical and mental diseases . The solar system is the largest network in the human body , and its center is called manipura chakra . There are various ways of meditating on this chakra , but by including advanced pranayama , solar science brings forward an awareness of a level of energy finer than the pranic level . At this level the energy rhythms are studied by meditating either on the morning sun or on udaragni , which is the internal center of fire . [ This fire is created by the friction of the upper hemisphere and the lower hemisphere , which in the Upanishads are called upper arani and lower arani . ]
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“ When the disciple is prepared the master appears . ” If you are not prepared he will be there , but you won’t notice or respond . If you do not know what a diamond is , the diamond may be there , but you ignore it and pass it by , taking it to be just a piece of glass .
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If you are in search of a guru , search within first . To become a yogi means to know your own condition here and now , to work with yourself . Don’t grumble because you don’t have a teacher . Ask whether you deserve one . Are you capable of attracting a teacher ?
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Slowly I came to realize that first we should learn to doubt our own doubts and to analyze the very doubts themselves .
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Once you know the right technique of meditation you have command over other functions of your body , mind , and soul . It is through prana and breath that a relationship is established between mind and body .
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We regularly got up at three a.m . ( From three to six is considered the best time for meditation , so we would go to bed between eight and ten and get up at three . )
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A teacher can guide his students even after his death . ”
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Suddenly the swami’s body rose into the air , apparently of its own accord , and slowly moved toward the Ganges . It floated in the air for a few hundred yards , and then lowered and sank into the Ganges .
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“ This physical universe is only one aspect of existence . We have the ability to know other aspects , but we don’t make sincere efforts to realize this ability . Our minds remain focused on the physical aspect only . Man is suffering because he does not know the whole . ”
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The technique of dying is not known to the modern scientists , but in yoga science such techniques are described and imparted to those who are prepared to practice them . The mystery of death and birth are revealed to a fortunate few .
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The known part of life is a line which is stretched between these two points , birth and death . The vast portion of one’s existence remains unknown and invisible beyond these two known points . One who understands the unknown part of life knows that this life span is like a comma in a vast sentence which has no period .
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Eleven gates are described through which the pranas or subtle energy can exit .
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Death is not painful , but fear of death is very painful .
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He closed his eyes and became still . We all heard the sound “ tic ” come from his skull . This was the sound of cracking the skull . This process is called casting off the body through Brahma - randhra .
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the yoga way of casting off the body is done through a proper technique . Letting oneself freeze while in samadhi is a traditional way of dying for a particular sect of Himalayan yogis . It is called hima - samadhi .
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there are various other ways of doing this . One is called jal - samadhi , and is done inside the deep waters of the rivers of the Himalayas by retaining the breath . Sthal - samadhi is done by sitting in an accomplished posture and consciously opening the fontanelle .
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There is another very rare way of casting off the body . By meditating on the solar plexus the actual internal flame of fire burns the body in a fraction of a second , and everything is reduced to ashes . This knowledge was imparted by Yama , the king of death , to his beloved disciple Nachiketa in the Kathopanishad .
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All over the world instances of spontaneous combustion are often heard about , and people wonder about such occurrences . But the ancient scriptures , such as Mahakala Nidhi , explain this method systematically .
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With all the evidence I collected I found out that it is possible for a highly advanced yogi to assume the dead body of another if he chooses to do so and if a suitable body is available
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One day he told me that there are three categories of beings : ( 1 ) the Absolute Being , the Lord of the universe ; ( 2 ) the sages who have power over birth and death and who are semi - immortal beings . They are born and die at their will ; ( 3 ) the ordinary people , who do not have mastery over birth and death . For them death is a constant fear that lurks in their minds and hearts . Such ignorant people suffer .
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The individual soul can voluntarily cast off the body and can even enter into another body .
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He described three ways of expanding the life span : ( 1 ) through highly accomplished yoga powers and a disciplined life , one can live for a long time ; ( 2 ) by changing the body one can continue to live consciously with all the experiences carried from the previous body ; ( 3 ) enlightenment is freedom itself , and there is no need of clinging to the garment which is called body .
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The flower of the West without the fragrance of the East is a flower in vain .
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I have met a few foreigners like him who have become swamis , and I have found them to be more serious than many of the Indian swamis .
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The science of raja yoga teaches samyama — inner transformation through concentration , meditation , and samadhi .
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We are free - thinkers but we are in the bondage of social laws , and they are in the bondage of certain fixed ideas in their way of thinking and worshipping . ”
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“ To get freedom from all fears is the first message of the Himalayan sages . The second message is to be aware of the reality within .
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He organized his orders through five main centers in the North , East , South , West , and center of India .
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That which is called maya , or illusion , in our worship becomes the Mother and does not remain as a stumbling block or obstacle on the path of spiritual enlightenment .
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There are three stages of initiation given according to our tradition . First : mantra , breath awareness , and meditation ; second : inner worship of Sri Vidya and bindu bhedana ( piercing the pearl of wisdom ) ; third : shaktipata and leading the force of kundalini to the thousand - petaled lotus called the sahasrara chakra .
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From 1949 to 1952 , he held the prestigious position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India .

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