by Ma Muktananda | Aug 9, 2022 | The path
Tantra-yoga is a yogic methodology that combines a variety of techniques, such as mūdras, mantras, prāṇāyama, and dīkṣā in order to realize the very essence of the universe through delving into our own body. The practice of most of these techniques is aimed at cultivating the kuṇḍalini energy.
The Tantric path includes two very different ways. The left-hand one involves a certain ritualism. The right-hand one lacks ritualism and is much more abstract and subtle, contemplative, and internalized.
The practice of tantra-yoga demands great discipline and inner responsibility. One of its fundamental principles is that everything that can bring us down can also lift us up. If we slip because the floor is wet, by leaning on the ground we can stand up. If the senses can lead us to degradation, it is also possible to elevate ourselves through sensual effort.
In general, human beings denigrate themselves through food, alcohol, and sex. Tantric methodology will make use of these same elements in pursuit of elevation. Through ordinary sex, we descend to the lowest levels of our energy system. In Tantra, we use the basic instincts in order to strengthen the energetic system and make the energy flow from the heights.
by Ma Muktananda | Aug 9, 2022 | The path
Vedanta is one of humanity’s oldest paths of liberation. It is a pluralistic and universal path, suitable for every human being without any discrimination. Vedanta cannot be categorized as a philosophy, school of thought, or belief system as it goes beyond our definitions. It is a systematic and structured means of knowledge that guides us toward the direct realization of our authentic nature.
The Vedas are the oldest known sacred scriptures. They are transmitted generation after generation as they were revealed to the Vedic sages of antiquity. The initial portion of the Vedas refers to karma and karma-phala, or activities and their results. However, all results are temporary and perishable. Therefore, good deeds with good results may lead us to paradise, but such paradise will inevitably be perishable. The Vedanta is presented in the Upanishads, which correspond to the final portion of the Vedas. The term vedānta is a combination of two words: veda meaning “knowledge or wisdom” and anta, or “conclusion.” Therefore, the word vedānta means “the conclusion or essence of the Vedas.”
From the Vedantic perspective, God is absolute infinitude, consciousness, and bliss. Although consciousness as an impersonal reality is referred to as Brahman, it also accepts a personal God assuming a form in different eras. God resides in our heart as Ātman or the Self, which is eternal and transcendental to all human limitation or conditioning. For Vedanta, the Ātman is one with Brahman and human beings can realize Brahman as their authentic nature. The reality of the individual, the universe, and God is a single non-dual, non-objective, timeless, and pure consciousness. Consciousness is eternal and imperishable and constitutes the essence of what we are, not what we think we are.
According to Vedanta, the essence of these same truths is found in each and every different religion. The Rig Veda Saṁhitā (1.164.46) states emphatically, “They call it Indra, Mitra, Vāruṇa, Agni, and the celestial noble-winged Garutman. To that which is One, the wise give many names. They call it Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan.” That is to say that for the Rig Veda, despite being one, the truth is given various names. Conflicts between theological interpretations are more related to their dogmas and traditions than to the direct experience of their prophets or founders. Differences between religious organizations exist only externally. However, in their essence they are practically one. Each religion constitutes a different and unique path to the same ultimate reality.
The main Vedantic traditions are:
- Advaita: non-dualism.
- Bhedābheda: difference and non-difference.
- Śuddhādvaita: pure nondualism.
- Tattvavāda (dvaita): dualism.
- Viśiṣṭādvaita: the qualified nondualism.
Today, new Vedantic styles have developed including Neo-vedanta and the development of Swaminarayan Saṁpradāya. Although each and every tradition of Vedanta differs in ontological, soteriological, and epistemological aspects, they share the basics and essentials. Vedanta, also called Uttara Mīmāṁsā, presents the revelations contained in the Upanishadic literature. All the different Vedantic traditions share a canon of revealed texts called prasthāna-trayī or “the three sources”:
- Bhagavad Gita.
Most schools of Vedanta are related to Vaishnava theology and place special emphasis on bhakti, or “devotion.” For its part, Advaita Vedanta emphasizes knowledge, or jñāna. Within this context, we are referring not just to intellectual knowledge but to self-knowledge. It refers to transcendental knowledge of God because the nature of what we really are is divine.
by Ma Muktananda | Aug 7, 2022 | The path
Prabhuji’s Hinduism invites us to open our eyes and contemplate all human beings as members of one family. It calls us to clear our vision in order to recognize the same truth in the essence of all religion. It suggests us to free ourselves from superstitions in order to focus on the recognition of our authentic nature, or the ultimate Reality. Retroprogressive Yoga is born from the very roots of the eternal dharma to propose to return by going forward.
by Ma Muktananda | Aug 5, 2022 | The path
Guru-dakṣiṇā is a very ancient fundamental tradition of the Sanātana-dharma religion. It is the disciple’s attempt to retribute the guru in some way for the time and energy he or she invests in the teaching process. The dakṣiṇā expresses the disciple’s deep recognition, appreciation, and respect for the guru over the service received.
It can be difficult to grasp the dakṣiṇā tradition without understanding the deep respect and devotion that exists within the master-disciple relationship. The work of the master goes far beyond instructing, teaching, or educating about some knowledge or discipline. The Sanātana-dharma religion considers gurus only those who have established themselves in the Self or Ultimate Reality and are able to transmit the Truth. The duty of masters is to help their disciples to transcend the egoic phenomenon.
The Western mind erroneously tends to compare the guru-disciple relationship with the teacher-student one, without understanding that the two are completely different. For disciples, their guru is more like a beloved relative than an instructor, guide, or pedagogue. In ancient classical India, the guru used to live with the disciples in the aśrām as a family group. The duty of the disciples is to offer guru-dakṣiṇā and the duty of the master is to accept it. Such offering is to reciprocate with respect, appreciation, and reverence for the service received from the guru.
One of the classic examples of Guru-dakṣiṇā is found in the Mahābhārata, in Ekalavya’s relationship with his master Droṇācārya. Ekalavya was a tribal boy passionate about the art of archery. He managed to master archery by learning from a sculpture he made of his master. Upon learning of what happened, Droṇācārya demanded Ekalavya to give him his thumb as Guru-dakṣiṇā. The disciple immediately cut off his thumb and gave it to his guru as dakṣiṇā.
The first syllable of the word dakṣiṇā is da, which Prajāpati prescribed to his three groups of sons, the devatās, the asuras, and the human beings. When they requested a mantra from him, Prajāpati asked each one to approach him separately and uttered the syllable da in their respective ears. Because each of them is under the control of a different guṇa, they heard different things. The devatās heard da or “self-control”; the human beings heard dān, or “giving”; and the asuras heard daya, or “compassion.”
Dakṣiṇā is a Vedic goddess symbolizing discernment, or viveka, which is the faculty of differentiating between the true and the false. A form of Śiva is Dakṣiṇāmurtī, who is the one who bestows wisdom and the faculty to differentiate between the illusory and the true.
by Ma Muktananda | Aug 5, 2022 | The path
Hinduism, whose original name is Sanātana-dharma, “the eternal dharma” or “the eternal religion,” is the oldest living religion in the world. It constitutes a fusion and synthesis of various revelations both Vaidika and Tāntrika. It is not the result or product of the human mind. It does not have one founder, but it is the revelation of the ancient Vedic seer-sages that evolved with the teachings of different ṛṣis and avatāras over the generations.
Today, Hinduism is a global religion with adherents from practically every corner of the planet numbering 1140 million. It is a religion that does not restrict human freedom of thought or feeling. Neither does it limit freedom of faith or worship, nor does it force anyone to accept a particular dogma. It is a liberal and highly universal religion. Its attitude is inclusive, respecting all other religions.
Hinduism is a complex religion encompassing many movements and schools. It is an umbrella under which a wide variety of denominations are sheltered. Despite lacking a central religious establishment or a single authoritative structure, all the different schools and lines within Hinduism share basic fundamentals. One such pillar is a pluralistic attitude toward all religious paths. In its invocations, Hinduism does not show sectarian concern, but prays for universal well-being:
oṁ sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ
sarve santu nirāmayāḥ
sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu
mā kaścidduḥ khabhāgbhaveta
oṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
“May all become happy. May none fall ill. May all see auspiciousness everywhere. May none ever feel sorrow. Oṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ.”
Its pluralistic attitude has contributed to the religious and spiritual freedom that we can observe within Hinduism, with its different traditions, deities, masters, and forms of worship. For Hinduism, it is a major mistake to consider one’s way as the only true and correct path to access the Truth, as this Vedic hymn states:
ekaṁ sad vīprā bahudhā́ vadanty
“Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.”
So much so that Hinduism accepts the existence of many different paths to approach the same single reality. Within the scope of the sanātana-dharma religion, we find six different classical views, or śad-darśanas or śat-śāstras. Each of these views possesses a different perspective about Truth and scripture in Hinduism.
The term darśana comes from the Sanskrit dṛś, “seeing or vision” and corresponds to different perspectives of the same reality. The darśanas are divided into three pairs of aphoristic compositions that explain the Vedic revelation with a method of rationalistic approach. These are: Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika, Sāmkhya and Yoga, and Mīmāṁsā and Vedānta. Each set of sūtras has its Bhāṣya, Vṛtti, Vārttika, Vyākhyāna or Ṭīkā and Ṭippaṇī.
Nyāya: Its founder was Gautama Ṛṣi, who devised the fundamental principles of the Hindu logical system. This system is considered a prerequisite for all philosophical inquiry. Its postulate is that the universe is a projection of divine selfhood through its illusory power, or māyā. To attain divinity, it is necessary to prepare for enlightenment through knowledge and reasoning.
Vaiśeṣika: It refers to the science of atomism and is a supplement to the Nyāya. The Vaiśeṣika-sūtras were composed by Kaṇāda Ṛṣi. The term vaiśeṣika means “differentiation.” It aspires to bliss through knowledge of that which transcends matter.
Sāmkhya: Sāmkhya means “enumeration.” This system founded by Kapila Muni resembles the Vaiśeṣika because it observes the elements of the universe and attempts to classify them. Its essence is dvaita, or “dualistic,” since it accepts two primordial natures that give rise to the universal manifestation: Puruṣa, or “spiritual,” and prakṛti, or “material.”
Yoga: It is complementary to the Sāmkhya. It was Patañjali Maharṣi who systematized yoga in his Yoga-sūtras. It is about the consciousness of union or fusion with the Whole. It proposes a purifying methodology in order to recognize this union, which includes various techniques of introspection and concentration.
The Purva Mīmāṁsā: The sage Jaimini, a disciple of Vyāsa, composed the sūtras of the Mīmāṁsā system based on the ritualistic section of the Vedas. This line investigates action and seeks bliss through the proper performance of dharma. It emphasizes the study of the Vedas, the saṁhitās, and the brāhmaṇas.
The Uttara Mīmāṁsā or Vedanta: The sage Bādarāyaṇa or Vyāsa composed the Vedānta-sūtra or Brahma-sūtra which expounds the Upanishadic teachings. This system includes dvaita, viśiṣṭādvaita, and advaita. Vedanta means the culmination or conclusion of the Vedas. It emphasizes the study of the upanishadic literature, or the final portion of the Vedas. It offers descriptions about the nature of the universe, the soul, and the transcendental reality, as well as the relationship between them.
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
“It whatever way men approach me, even so do I reward them; my path do men tread in all ways, O son of Pṛthā.” (Bhagavad Gita, 4.11)