Thursday, January 31, 2008

Eternal grace - mantra 43

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The forty third mantra of the Thirumandiram. Here too like the couple of mantras preceeding and some to follow, the sage sings the praise of bhakti or devotion as a sure method to acchieve oneness with Siva.

அரனடி சொல்லி அரற்றி அழுது
பரனடி நாடியே பாவிப்ப நாளும்
உரன்அடி செய்துஅங்கு ஓதுங்கவல் லார்க்கு
நிரன்அடி செய்து நிறைந்துநின் றானே. 43.
Eternal Grace
To them that speak of Hara's Holy Feet and weep,
To them that daily muse at the Great One's mighty feet,
To them that, in deep devotion fixed, wait to serve,
To them comes the Eternal's all-filling Grace. 43.

ComTo them that speak of Hara's Holy Feet and weep To those that sing praises of Siva, being overwhelmed by their Love towards Him, To them that daily muse at the Great One's mighty feet to those that constantly meditate on the Lord, and To them that, in deep devotion fixed, wait to serve to those that develop wisdom and devotion and stay fixed in that state of deep devotion, To them comes the Eternal's all-filling Grace Siva reveals Himself by completely filling their hearts with Himself.

* The word ‘muse’ refers to the practise of visualisation mentioned below – The sadhaka visualises Siva as being resident in the heart. Then he proceeds to visualise that he has given over himself (surrendered) to Siva. When the above mentioned ‘bhavana’ or visualisation is strengthened by virtue of continuous practise, the knowledge regarding Siva and its firm rooting in the consciousness takes place. That is to say, through constantly affirming the presence of Siva in the heart, the devotee is able to allow the transformation of his consciousness, as a result of being permeated with Siva.

Giver of All - Mantra 42

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The forty second mantra of the Thirumandiram.

போய்அரன் தன்னைப் புகழ்வார் பெறுவது
நாயக னான்முடி செய்தது வேநல்கும்
மாயகம் சூழ்ந்து வரவல்ல ராகிலும்
வேயன தோளிக்கு வேந்தொன்றும் தானே. 42.
Grants All
They alone attain His Feet, who seek and praise;
To them He shall grant the world the Four-Headed one made;
Full well the elect come, the world of Maya girdling,
One is He with Her of the shoulders reed-shaped. 42.

Com – They alone attain His Feet, who seek and praise Those that surrender to Siva and practise continuous meditation on the unity with Siva, To them He shall grant the world the Four-Headed one made receive through His Grace the wondrous earth that Brahma, the four headed creator, has created. One is He with Her of the shoulders reed-shaped The Lord of Uma, the beautiful one with shoulders that are like the bamboo reed (fine and supple), Full well the elect come, the world of Maya girdling reveals Himself to that devotee, even if he be one who is tethered by the bonds of Samsara of this world rooted in Maya.

* The sage is of the opinion that the compassionate Siva will reveal Himself to the sincere devotee, even if the afore said devotee be tainted by association of Maya and the bonds of Samsara (as a result of his being immersed in a worldly life.) The sincereity of the heart of the devotee is all that matters.

Churning the ocean of milk - mantra 41

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The forty first mantra of the Thirumandiram. The sage here hints at the yogic process through which the loss of sperm is prevented with the aim to gather the energies which then yield the Oli mandalam or the sphere of light, which eventually produces/ reveals the Nada. Reference is made here to the story of the churning of the ocean of milk by the devas and asuras to obtain Amrita or the nectar of immortality.

சினஞ்செய்த நஞ்சுண்ட தேவர் பிரானைப்
புனஞ்செய்த நெஞ்சிடை போற்றவல் லார்க்குக்
கனஞ்செய்த வாள்நுதல் பாகனும் அங்கே
இனஞ்செய்த மான்போல் இணங்கிநின் றானே.41.
In Depths Of Devotee's Heart
To them He comes, who, in heart's deep confines
Treasure His Name,
The Lord who consumed the deathly poison of hatred born,
Consorting with Her of the gleaming brow,
Conjoint, like the pairing deer in amity sweet. 41.

ComThe Lord who consumed the deathly poison of hatred born The Mahadeva (Siva) who came to the aid of the world by swallowing the deadly poison (Halahala) which arose as a result of the Devas and Asuras churning the ocean of milk, To them He comes, who, in heart's deep confines Treasure His Name, should be held close to the heart (of the devotee) which has been purified much like the farmer would clear the land (by tilling) prior to cultivation. Consorting with Her of the gleaming brow Then the Lord who has Uma, the one of the radiant forehead, for one half of his body, Conjoint, like the pairing deer in amity sweet remains united, in the heart of the devotee, much like the stag who unites with the doe (in rut).

* ‘The Lord who consumed the deadly poison ‘ – the word poison refers here to the loss of sperm (by ejaculation). Siva is the one who revealed the method to stop the above mentioned loss of sperm (by the practise of celibacy), this is referred to by the name ‘the Lord who consumed the deadly poison’. When the loss of sperm is prevented and it is concentrated (gathered) the Light mandalam (sphere) is revealed. The next stage is the revelation of Nada (sound), this is a result of the concentration of sperm.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In the heart of the pure - mantra 40 of the Thirumandiram

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The 40th mantra of the first part of the Thirumandiram.
குறைந்துஅடைந் தீசன் குரைகழல் நாடும்
நிறைந்துஅடை செம்பொனின் நேர்ஒளி ஒக்கும்
மறைஞ்சடம் செய்யாது வாழ்த்தவல் லார்க்குப்
புறஞ்சடம் செய்வான் புகுந்துநின் றானே. 40.
In The Heart Of The Pure
Humbled and meek, seek thou the Lord's Feet,
Feet that equal the rays of purest gold serene;
Praise Him with songs of the humble heart
And unpenurious tongue;
To such He comes, the all-fashioning Lord. 40.

ComHumbled and meek, seek thou the Lord's Feet Being conscious of the shortcomings and errors of being human, the devotee should seek out Siva and surrender unto Feet that equal the rays of purest gold serene His holy feet, which are similar to the purest gold in their radiance and lustre. Praise Him with songs of the humble heart. And unpenurious tongue; To the devotee who has cast aside his bias and who is not stubborn in holding on to his false notions of the world, To such He comes, the all-fashioning Lord Siva reveals the ‘real’ nature (namely, that the body is different to the Self).

* The devoted sadhaka should firstly become aware of himself and realise and accept the errors of his ways (both in perception and action). He must then proceed to cast aside all his bias (preconceived notions including likes and dislikes) and be forever ready to grow and change (by not holding on stubbornly to the false identification of the body to be the self, etc). To such a devotee, who is of a pure disposition, Siva imparts the truth, i.e. He shows the devotee that the body and the self are not one and the same. Note the stress on humility which acts as a conduit for the devotee to let go of his or her deep and stubborn (untrue) identification of one's self with the body. Humility encourages surrender and the waxing of the heart with a love that is not based on the likes and dislikes of the individual (as there is less and less identification with the body). A love that is beyond the dual notions of growth and decay, a love that is in essence the very nature of the self.

Of fire and water - Mantra 39 of the Thirumandiram

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Catching up for lost time today! This is the 39th mantra from the first part of the Thirumandiram.

வாழ்த்தவல் லார்மனத் துள்ளுறு சோதியைத்
தீர்த்தனை அங்கே திளைக்கின்ற தேவனை
ஏத்தியும் எம்பெரு மான்என்றுஇறைஞ்சியும்
ஆத்தம் செய் தீசன் அருள்பெற லாமே. 39.
Adore And Attain Grace
He, the Divine Light, shining bright in devotee's heart,
He, of the Holy Waters, wherein He sports,
Him shall we praise, Him call, "Our Lord,"
And, thus adoring, His Grace attain. 39.

Com - He, the Divine Light, shining bright in devotee's heart He appears as the Light of consciousness in the hearts of those that praise him (with songs and chants) through their mouth. He, of the Holy Waters He redeems, the devoted, from sin, and in that He is like the Holy Waters (Theertham). wherein He sports He reveals Himself in the rarefied Akaashaa (Ether) and therein resides. Him shall we praise He is to be praised with adoration (like a mother, as father, guru etc) Him call, "Our Lord," and He is to be worshipped with respect (like Lord, Master, Ruler, etc). And, thus adoring, His Grace attain When He is thus sought with love and adoration, He becomes very easy to attain.

* When the sadhaka (devotee) thinks of the majestic glory of Siva and is overwhelmed by such thoughts, there arises a light in the mind. The perception of this light has to be consciously cultivated and increased manifold using the pure emotion of Love (towards Siva). When this light is cultivated, it causes the mind to be purified. The body and the mind feel extremely refreshed and rejuvenated and cool by the purifying effect of this light- which is compared to the feeling arising when the body has been cleansed by pure cool water(of the sacred spots – Theertham). Just as objects are purified by the contact with fire and water (traditionally) the mind of the devotee is to be purified by perception of the light (fire) and the rejuvenating and refreshing (holy water) waves of this light. The Bhakti margaa (path of devotion) is spoken of here.

The collision of Pranas - mantra 38 of Thirumandiram

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

The next instalment in the Thirumandiram - this is the 38th mantra of the first part of the text.
பிதற்றொழி யேன்பெரி யான்அரி யானைப்
பிதற்றொழி யேன்பிற வாஉரு வானைப்
பிதற்றொழி யேன்எங்கள் பேர்நந்தி தன்னைப்
பிதற்றொழி யேன்பெரு மைத்தவன் தானே. 38
Greatness Unceasing
I will not cease to speak of Him, the Great, the Rare,
I will not cease to prate of Him, the Form Unborn,
I will not cease to talk of Nandi, the Mighty,
I will never cease, for pure and great am I then! 38.

Com - I will not cease to speak of Him, the Great, the Rare I will never stop praising Siva, who is great and exceedingly rare to attain to I will not cease to prate of Him, the Form Unborn I will never stop my constant prattle of His beautiful form that is not born of the womb of a mother I will not cease to talk of Nandi, the Mighty I will not stop praising the Majesty of my Lord, Nandi. I will never cease, for pure and great am I then As a result of this my unceasing worship, I become the Accomplished one – who has performed the purest penance.

* The sage uses (very cleverly) the word ‘prattle’ to convey meanings of many layers. The unceasing prattle refers to the constant focus of thought (meditation) on Siva. More particularly – it means, constantly being aware of the collision of the opposing pranas (life currents) that happens on the top portion of the head. By being constantly aware of this collision, through a long period of practise, it is possible to arrest or stop this collision of opposing pranas and merge them into each other. This highly subtle yoga is shown by the sage to be the best form of worship, as it is equated by him to be the purest penance - as it brings forth the equilibrium in the consciousness by merging the opposing currents into each other.

Monday, January 21, 2008

More on spiritual dilution.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Heavy rainfall has its merits - it being dark and miserable outside, there is simply no work happening or even about to happen. So, instead of wasting my time surfing idly I might as well waste some of your time by posting a few words.

From the previous post (....state of common man) and the comments for that post, the separate tangent of spiritual dilution seems to be a good one to explore. Like Kanna (see comment to previous post) suggests, it is true that the preoccupation with mantra, tantra and kundalini etc of humanity will take that much wind out of the sails of all the other not so good things that people might be into. Granted. But in the long run does it actually do that?Or does it short circuit the already fragile wiring of the human psyche that he/she becomes incapable of anything other than self absorption (at best) and paranoia (at worst)? If for example, the masses are interested in pursuit of the transcendental insights contained in the Brahmasutra bashyas or in the contemplation of their own self as or in the universe, it is nothing to fret about. But it is the interest of the masses in the more heavy duty 'dynamite' procedures that calls for concern. If you take for example the following factors - a very weak will, very little or no discipline, an attitude of instant gratification (no matter what gratification is sought), a very business like attitude of least investment to high returns in even spiritual aspects, little or no concern for anything more than one's own needs, no adhyayana or study, the assumption that freedom/free will is the lack of rules and or moral fibre, the misunderstanding that the veda mahavakyas like aham brahmasmi, ayam atmA brahma etc are applicable to everyone in the physical world without context, etc etc (the list could take up the next half an hour of your time) - and apply them to the mix, you end up with a whitewashed wall!

Like the days where the texts were interpreted to stop the loss of believers to the Buddhist fold, today the texts are being reinterpreted to suit the 'global' Hindu (Iam not complaining - I have always held that the Hindu thought by its virtue of being eternal and true, must essentially be global). For 'global', read materialist, new age, mish mashed, un bothered to question and essentially insecure and confused. The original texts are interpreted now with a monetary/ saleability quotient, not to mention the political correctness factor! Major requirements like faith, devotion, an open mind, respect, etc are all done away with - as there wont be too many queuing up to spend their dollars and euro if they had to pray and chant for the next twenty years before anything stirred. Tradition, context etc are forgotten thanks to the need to be 'up to the hour' and not be hung up about things. This overall trend has a two fold effect. In the short term it has everyone buzzed about anything Indian/eastern and anything mystic. Even Hollywood movies have opening shots of group chanting and saffron clad gurus. You can have a discussion about the openness of your third eye, judge people by the seeing if their ascendant was in Aries or Libra, etc over a cup of coffee. This is great in the sense that it opens us to all manner of possibilities. But is very dangerous without the context as in the long term it will only add to the confusion and haze - giving rise to the next cycle of dominance by the 'spiritual' giants (middlemen to God) who can tell you and me anything they like and we will be none the wiser.

The mass marketing of yoga and other purely spiritual paths (at a time when mankind is quite vulnerable due to generations of not keeping up with one's own soul and having no faith), will only result in false expectations and over bearing inadequacies. With the loss of context there is also the loss of perception. The loss of perception is nothing but delusion. Delusion leads to even more delusion (like money attracts even more money) and eventually it is capable of leading one into many births and deaths in realms so dark that the word dark has to be rewritten.

Like the fire, which when fed is never satisfied but only gets an appetite even more ferocious - vasanas (latencies) of mankind do not necessarily need to be lived out (in a collective sense) to rid them of their power. Rather, the contrary becomes true - feeding them gives them an even stronger power and appetite. Those tendencies and latencies need to be burnt by the fire of sadhana (or wisdom of the wise), so they don't have the chance to sprout later. Which is precisely why the spiritual paths and methods of upasana were held so sacred - they were designed to be the 'fire' that parched/burnt the grain called vasana to ensure that there will be no sprout at a later stage. Fiddling around with them to suit our own selfish needs and fitting them to our own flagging selves, is like throwing away the bullets in the gun and just holding on to the empty weapon. Of no use, except of course to scare the onlooker into thinking that we are wielding a weapon capable of inflicting harm! Which I suppose is at the very root of this mass marketing - the sellers sell only what there is a demand in the market for. And the demand in the market is for something that looks 'like' the real thing and not for the 'real' thing at all!!

Who wants the hard work and the constant training and self control required for gaining some internal clarity, when it is so much easier to fly to India (or anywhere else, all the gurus have branch offices too!) for a weekend and buy a white (or saffron) kurta and a set of beads and do a crash course in tantra, vedanta or anything else? The advantages are many, its instant and you get a new 'Indian' name to boot!! Win win situation there, specially with the current exchange rate!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Division or Inclusion?

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Mantras and slokas often echo a thought so universal that it transcends all boundaries that are the evolute's of the human mind and its diminished perception of the 'whole'. The core practise contained in the everyday Sandhyavandhana (the thrice daily rite performed by the dwijas or twice born - at dawn, midday and dusk) is the anusandhanam (or inward contemplation/meditation) where the manifest sun is seen as the supreme Brahman and then that supreme Brahman is contemplated as non different from the self. All the Sahasranamas (1000 names) of the various deities also takes the sadhaka or worshipper through an extraordinary cosmic journey, where the main deity is seen as everything there is : manifest and unmanifest. Almost all upasana and related practices are aimed at the same thing - deconstructing the self made shackles that bind the jiva or the embodied self to a very localised and limited reality. They enable the perception of the self as an unlimited and expansive and all inclusive reality, something that reaches in to even the darkest recesses of space - something that vibrates in oneness with everything, absolutely everything!

Often though, in reality, we see the practitioners of such sublime rituals miss the point all together. They chant the mantras with almost no experiential understanding of the meaning. Perhaps they have mastered the language, its syntax and it various theoretical aspects. But it seems to fail to cause any perceivable change in the way they relate to themselves and to the world around them, even after years of repeating the mantras and rituals over and over again. But those exceptional individuals, who have actually contemplated on the essence of all such practices, show to us time and again the potency of the expansive self. Seeing or talking to or merely being the presence of such people is a boon in itself, an introduction to bliss!

I fail to see the point in talking endlessly about the all pervading Brahman, and waxing lyrical about all of us being made out of that self luminous consciousness that is the Brahman, when we cannot see its external expression. I mean, if all are one and the same, why then the division based on colour, sex, race, caste, and endless other small and superficial things?? Why then the aggressive and intolerant attitude to anything that is 'different' and does not confirm to one's own belief or thought? Will the endless reduction and subtraction (neti neti or the not this not this) attitude ever show one the all embracing reality that is God? Or is inclusion the way to that goal?

A nama in the Lalitha Sahasranama describes the supreme Devi as AbrahmakItajanani (the Mother of all things from brahma or Hiranyagarbha(the collective form of humanity) down to the smallest parasitical worm). Similar names can be found almost in every set of sahasranamas to the various gods and goddesses to reinforce the fact that the underlying principle is the same in everything, however different they might appear to be externally. The Supreme is like the tiny seed of the Banyan (fig) tree - which is the cause of the appearance of the roots, leaves, fruits, bark, stem and the infinite and expansive branches that spread to cover a huge area. All the above mentioned 'appear' to be different in their form and function, but we know the tree is the composite of all these. And if we were to differentiate this according to function for easy classification and understanding, it makes sense (albeit in a reduced and diminished way). This is the basis of the VarnAshrama classification/division. However, if we begin to qualify them in comparison to each other (as in, trying to judge them as one being better or more important than the other), it leads to a warped perception and nothing more.

The very next nama in the Sahasranama (after the above mentioned one) is VarnAshrama vidhAyini ( The establish er of the different castes and orders of life). This is often used as a reason for the argument in favour of the caste based division (saying that it stems from the Supreme itself). But I can never, for the life of me, see the supreme Devi, the Universal Mother separate Her children by personal bias or prejudice. The division spoken of here is not one that perceives one above or below the other. These are divisions based on the functions and the life path needed for the individual jiva to rise to a place where it can perceive its cosmic identity - nothing more, nothing less. It is like the separate perception of the roots, stem, bark, leaves etc of the above mentioned tree to understand and appreciate their individual functions which is ultimately responsible for the growth of the 'whole' tree. If we were to judge the root to be inferior to the leaves by virtue of its being lower than the leaves, we would be utterly mistaken. For it is but common knowledge that the leaves do not have a separate existence from (i.e. without) the roots. Likewise, if we are led to believe that the shudra (untouchable/lowest caste) is inferior to the Brahmin (priest/highest caste) by virtue of their separate functions in society, we would be grossly wrong. The four castes are said to have their origin in different parts of the supreme Purusha (see Purushashukta) : The Brahmin comes from the face of the Purusha, the Kshatria from the chest of the Purusha, the Vaishya from the thigh of the Purusha and the Shudra from the feet of the Purusha. And based on this people today talk of the castes as being one above the other. But tell me, where is the virtue (or possibility even) in having just a head without the 'lower' parts? Not only is it impossible, but without the feet or other parts to compare against, there is nothing 'higher' or 'lower'.

The differences in form and function universally, only add to the diversity of creation and help the jiva experience what is due to be experienced. The many tiered universe ('apparently' tiered - but the same one tier less thing in the ultimate transcendental aspect) is intrinsically connected to the very nature of this world cycle. Without this 'apparent' diversity there is no creation or progression of life - there can be nothing without it. So, it is not this world that is false and illusory - the real illusion is the 'apparent' perception of difference where none exists. That is Maya. And this stubborn, obstinate need on our part to differentiate is the biggest stumbling block on our path to experience the Oneness of the whole. This basic need (almost completely out of the common man's control) stems from the ahamkara or the I consciousness, which can exist only in differentiation to the 'other'. Thus the dissolution of the 'other ness' is really the awakening of the self. Like the wise say, Enlightenment is not something that is 'gained' - it is the state when the delusion is 'lost'. Like the man who on waking from sleep does not gain anything, he merely has 'lost' his sleep. And the various paths to achieve this 'dissolution' is found everywhere, in the texts and traditions of a million cultures. It can be seen echoed in everything in nature. It can be 'seen' when the eyes are closed even for a moment. That I feel is the essence of all Hindu practises and rituals - not the reinforcing of the hundred million differences.

''pUrnamadah pUrnamidham pUrnAth pUrnamudashyate
pUrnasya pUrnamAdAya pUrnam evA vasishyate.''

''That is whole, This is whole. From the whole the whole is manifest. From the whole when the whole is negated, what remains is (still) the whole.''

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The 'avial' of darshanas and the state of the common Hindu

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

I am quite often amazed to see the many misconceptions (to put it mildly) regarding the Hindu philosophy/thought both within the Indian community and the International community. An attempt to trace the root of many such misconceptions leads me to a point in history a couple of thousand or so years back. Perhaps it is coincidence that it goes back to the period of SrimadAcharya (Adi shankara) or perhaps there is no such thing as a coincidence!

One of the most dazzling gems in the crown of Indian thought is (or was) its ability to accommodate as many points of view as there are viewers! I am convinced that the intensity of collective thought increases in subtlety in direct proportion to the level of general and individual acceptance prevalent at anytime in any society. The early Hindu, I am sure did not perceive his/her practise to be a 'religion'. It was Sanatana Dharma - the eternal and always true dharma or cosmic law. There were different sects (many many to mention separately) with completely different sets of cosmologies, philosophies, methods to put them into practise, rituals etc. Not only were they different, they were often totally contradictory. Yet they flourished both in terms of fine tuning their own philosophical pursuits and also in terms of churning out amazing individuals, siddhas and masters of their respective disciplines. Much like the modern day India - a large and quite varied continent, where each state has its own language,script, festivals, dress code,moral code, calender, new year etc and still under the same tricolour banner.

In those days, the most important sects which commanded a huge following were Shaiva (shiva worshippers), Vaishnava (vishnu worshippers), Shakta (shakti worshippers), Ganapatya (ganesha worshippers), Saura (sun worshippers) and the worshippers of Agni or fire. As mentioned above, they followed different paths and percieved the world around them through different sets of philosophies. Their texts contradicted each other superficially (and perhaps technically), but were at the same time aimed as paths to more or less the same objective/goal, with difference only in the terminology. Even though there were the same 33 million gods and goddesses even then, on a personal level the puja room of an individual was not as cluttered as today (with images/relics/figures/etc of all the 33 million and a few more!). Similarly, the upasana or sadhana paths that an individual followed most often depended on family,geographical location and to some extent the individuals inner level. And most importantly the society in general accepted people as they were, without an unspoken expectation for everyone to turn out to be another super conscious babaji. They realised that jnyana or 'knowledge' will eventually dawn in the heart of each and every jiva at the appropriate time. It is like the gradual (and definite) ripening of a fruit with the tides of the seasons, the sun and moon all exerting their unbiased influence on the fruit. It was universal and did not depend on the caste or sub caste of the mango or apple.

On the other hand, the advent of the different thought systems from the middle east and early Christianity and more importantly (closer to home) the rise of the Buddhist and Jain thought systems became the catalyst for a Hindu resurgence, albeit in a thoroughly modified version. This period is often termed as the Golden era or the Bhakti era by historians and is generally held to be the most important period of sustained growth and evolution of Hindu'ism. I don't know if that's true - but I know for sure that it is the time when the mild confusion (as a result of the contradictory philosophies among the different Hindu systems) in the Sanatana dharma was magnified out of proportion as a result of the various slants/modifications of the original thought to aid the resurgence of Hinduism. Almost all the different systems had a thorough overhaul of their various facets to make them fit (more comfortably) under the unified banner of Hindu thought. Stories of the puranas, crucial texts, the original darshanas and their commentaries, ritual practises etc were all doctored to suit the common end - to deal ruthlessly with the threat of Buddhism (and to a certain extent Jainism). Thus, suddenly great texts and sutras were interpreted not with the evolution of the individual from the realms of Maya in mind, but with the intention of gaining the upper hand in an argument.

SrimadAcharya toured the length and breadth of the nation and many other notable sages and saints too - defeating great many scholars of various schools of thought in debates and arguments and overpowering them with the school of thought called adwaitha (non duality) and Mayavada (the argument that everything in the world and this life is in fact a gross illusion). I am not a genius nor a great scholar to explain to you the various technical arguments in terms of the different philosophical systems - its hard enough trying to understand them for myself! But the point I am trying to bring your attention to is the fact that almost all Hindu doctrine was changed in retrospect to suit the reactionary counter arguments that had to be made. It is as if the main intention of the philosophy was to counter argue anything but itself (even though a reading of the texts of the Sankhya philosophy shows many places where the arguments often lead to nowhere concrete). This reinterpretation of the texts then became the fundamental block to the real and concrete spirituality of the Hindu - as suddenly, the universality and the mind blowing subtlety of the words of the Vedas became bound by the shackles of playing the devils advocate.

To illustrate an example, the Buddha himself is presented as an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu and the purpose of his incarnation is shown to be the deluding of the unfaithful into wrong paths leading to the worst of hells! In the one stone, a great many birds are felled. Buddha becomes a Hindu manifestation to begin with, then his philosophies are derided by assigning to them the virtue of delusion, and it reinforces the concept that those converting to Buddhism were on a fast track to hell! Many such things, a tweak here and a tweak there, which is hardly capable of being noticed as most people do not question anything more than a couple of levels. They have other distractions and their own inner demons to fight and thus do not have the time, inclination nor the dedicated self discipline needed to try and understand any of this deeply. But eventually, when we pan to an overview of things, almost everything is different since that time. And over time, there is so much misrepresentation that it has just become the norm. Leaving us in a position where double the amount of work is now needed to just come to an even and clear start point.

We live in a time today where the shaddarshanas are all intermingled, a bit of this and a bit of that and a bit of everything in the same pot - an 'avial' of darshanas and paths as it were! The common man practices yoga (hatha to be precise) without first of all acknowledging that the philosophy of yoga does not attribute anything to God. It is aimed at reaching beyond God (in the religious sense of the word). Just like the capitalist thought which brutally introduced common needs to the masses (like the car, house, money etc) irrespective of whether it was necessary in the individual case of not, we live in times where spiritual thought also is whitewashed for the masses. Everyone is subconsciously tuned into expecting to be super conscious, divine, with instant kudalini awakenings and online/phone initiations! The dilution of the systems and philosophies into nothing more than crowd pullers, though seemingly encouraging the masses to all join in at present, will definitely lead to the total collapse of the refinement of thought in the years to come. In isolation, there are species which evolve that challenge the normal perception of things. Similarly, the isolation (both socially and physically) of the adherents of the different systems originally would have definitely helped in shaping the philosophies and in refining them to supra subtle levels, simultaneously helping them to exist side by side even though they opposed each other theoretically. And the modern dilution of all things sacred and mysterious (in the name of free will, globalisation & a unique type of spiritual capitalism) will take us to a point where there is nothing sacred anymore. Nothing mysterious, nothing hidden. Nothing worth searching for. A time when a visa card is the only requisite for Maha medha diksha or immortality or anything else for that matter.

Luckily though, it is obvious from history that this dharma is Sanatana and eternal! Like the sun after setting is not lost to the world forever, but is out of sight merely till the next sunrise, the dharma too will resurface at the right time. The supreme power which choreographs this great appearnce, peak, plateau, the downfall and ruin to the point of total destruction, and the subsequent resurfacing of the dharma - that Devi, that Shakti, is my only refuge. Yours too probably!