In this post I am extending my thoughts from my last post on role of VyAkaraNA in our cognitive process . I want to explore how our ancestors embedded their insights into mUrtis and the role that plays in our upAsanA (the sitting in contemplation next to the Divya Shaktis). The mUrtis embed a subtle language to provide a reflection (pratibimba) of the self. What I offer here is my mimAmsA (interpretation) through a few examples.
As I have been chanting the Sri LalitA SahasranAma almost daily over more than a decade, I have noticed that some of the names spring up spontaneously as I go about on my long daily walk or during mundane chores like washing dishes or doing the laundry. Not only do the nAmAs arise as sound, they emerge as a visualization of the imagery being described. There is a contemplation, a soft churning in the mind, that seems to happen. And sometimes a small insight may emerge. Let me give you an example.
Consider the 17th nAmA of Sri LalitA: ashTami chandra vibhrAja daLika sthala shobhitA. Most of the thousand names, indeed thousand mantrAs, seem tongue twisting to start with. Chanting them with the rhythm of the anushThuba chandA helps us perform ucchAraNa to bring out the sounds – and the flower of the seed mantra begins to blossom. As I do SravaNa of the mantrA, manana follows. ashTami reminds me of the tithi on which we celebrate rising of Sri DurgA Devi during NavarAtri. I imagine looking up in the night sky on ashtami and visualizing a clear bright chandra, slightly greater than half. The mantrA helps me visualize that part of the sky as the Devi’s forehead. With just a slight cognitive shift, I visualize the mantrA’s message that space (the brilliantly lit forehead in the sky) and time (ashTami tithi) is one aspect of the Devi’s myriad spandanA. As that visualization arises, I stop breathing for a few moments. Stopping of the prANic connection, even momentarily, has the potential, when spurred by the mantra, of dissolving one into the ephemeral, beyond space-time.
This one mantra, describing the forehead of the Devi’s Murti, has the power to raise one to ephemeral heights!
The Four Hands, Chatur Bahu, of the Devi’s MUrti
Now let’s consider a more sanguine set of mantrAs, which describe another aspect of Sri LalitA Devi’s Murti: nAmAs 7 to 11.
The 7th nAma describes Sri LalitAmbA’s mUrti as one having four arms, chatur bAhu samanvitA. And then 8th to 11th go on to describe what each of the four arms hold.
In the lower left arm, the Devi Murti holds the noose. In the lower right arm, the goad. The upper right arm holds five long stemmed flowers described as arrows and the upper left arm holds a sugarcane stalk. Next time you contemplate Sri LalitAmbA’s MUrti notice the four arms and what they are holding. Our ancestors designed MUrtis meticulously embedding them with compressed insights.
It is an entire epic manifesting before you. Sri LalitA SahasranAma holds the keys to the treasure of knowledge embedded in the mUrti of Sri LalitAmbA.
The 8th nAmA, rAga-swarupa-pAshADyA, describes the noose in the lower left hand. The shape (swarupa) of the noose (pAshADyA) stands for hungry desire (rAgA) to consume. The hungry desire to consume material objects. Such desire becomes a noose around our neck. It is as if we are on a leash and the hungry desire leads us to consume mindlessly. Sri LalitAmbA’s mUrti is designed to enable introspection, as a reflection of ourselves (pratibimbA).
The 9th nAmA, krodha-AkArA-kushojjvalA, describes the elephant goad in the lower right hand. As a pratibimba of ourselves, the goad (kushojjvalA) is the drive that is made of AkArA (knowledge arising in forms, shapes in space-time) and passion (krodha). Thus, the desire (rAga, a form of IcchA shakti, the kAraNA) transforms into AkArA in space-time (a sukshma manifestation) and results in action in the sthula, through the channel of passion (krodha). As we know, each word in Sanskrit can be and has been interpreted differently (the MimamsA-TarkA process). Here I am using the pratibimba paradigm (a reflection of ourselves), while at the same time staying true to the Shruti: the Devi is IcchA shakti – JnAna shakti – KriyA shakti swaroopiNi (658th nAmA in the Sri LalitA SahasranAma).
The 10th nAmA, mano-rupekshu-kodandA, describes the sugarcane stalk in the upper right hand. The kodanda (bow, sugarcane stalk) indicates the potential to manifest the shapes, forms (rupa) in the mind (mana). The shapes, forms in space-time which are referred to as AkArA are acquired by this potential of kodanda to become rupa in the mind. The cognitive process of acquiring the object and transforming into nAma-rupa is represented by the upper right hand of the mUrti.
The 11th nAmA, panch-tan-mAtra-sAyakA, described the 5 arrows of flowers in the upper left hand. The five arrows represent the five senses, which are deployed to go out and acquire the AkArA, the object, to the manas, to transform it into rupa with an associated nAma. Through such nAma-rupa association, meanings begin to be created.
Thus, the four hands of the Devi’s mUrti are designed to reflect back to the upAsakA (the one who sits at the mUrti’s feet in contemplation), the upAsakA’s own nature. The Lalita SahasranAm is a guide to the upAsakA as she / he visualizes Sri Lalita’S mUrti within themselves and begins to become aware how the Devi’s shakti is manifesting within them.
In that sense LalitAmbA’s mUrti is a yantra, an artifact, embedded with language designed to help us contemplate and understand our cognitive processes as spandanA and how the mAnav spandanA is one of the myriad spandanA of the Devi. As I have shown here through a few examples, guides to open up the mystery, the rahasyA, of each mUrti, are accessible through sravaNa and manana of the corresponding sahasranAmAs[i].
[i] Those, among readers of this article, who wish to research more I would suggest LalitA-SahasranAmA with BhAskararAyA’s Commentary, English Translation (Translated by R. AnanthkrishNa Sastry), The Adyar Library and Research Center, Chennai, 600020, India, 2010. While it is titled as Commentary, it may be more appropriately described as a meticulous compilation of multiple interpretations of each nAmA by many mimamsakAs over millennia. It is a treasure trove of contemplation for upAsakAs.
This note begins with how I think the sense of time arises in the human mind. I explore how it may have been different in the past in India by describing how time was measured in different ways. I then describe how sense of time changed in the 16th century, which led to massive changes across the globe. I begin by describing how the sense of time may be changing in the 21st century and how it may be negatively impacting human well-being.
Many of us are on social media every day. We notice changes of the view in our account with new entries, whether on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Each such change comes with a time stamp. We may not read the time stamp. But we register that the state has changed. What we are viewing on social media is a customized slice of data in massive data bases stored as bytes (of eight bits each). The state of bytes keep changing in fractions of seconds on such massive data bases. Socially we are now living in space where collectively we make changes to the state (of the data bases) at speeds which individual human minds cannot comprehend.
This lack of being able to comprehend rapid change of state (too much information?) seems to result in individuals not being able to make sense of the world they live in. Collectively it may lead humans to not being able to have a shared narrative to act out what may be a meaningful theater of life that gives a sense of human flourishing to most, if not all humans.
The breakdown in capacity to produce shared narratives may be based in humans not being able to be in rhythm with the accelerated speed of social time in the 21st century.
It may be helpful to start with a caveat that what I say is highly speculative, based on very limited information. And that limit is within the highly limited capacity of humans to know the Cosmos, most of which is beyond access to the 5 ways of sensing that the human species is endowed with.
I am presenting Rta as a different way of sensing time. It is a different way of sensing time, than the one we are used to in the 21st century. In the 21st century we sense time in terms of social contracts we have entered into. A contract to work, to attend school, to see a patient, get a haircut. These are all social contracts among humans. Time is sensed in terms of change of state of contracts among humans. If the work contract on an assembly line requires production of 3 widgets per muinute, time is sensed in terms of whether the contract was met or not.
This way of sensing time became the norm post this so-called European Enlightenment, when modern Humans became the de facto center of the Cosmos. Individual and group desires of modern Humans became the focus of our lives. The constitution of a nation-state is an example of a social contract franework, albeit among the elites who have drawn it up (sometimes called the Constituent Assembly) on behalf of the citizens of the nation. All the citizens then develop their own contracts amongst themselves within the overarching framework of this social contract framework called the Constitution. Since this “European Enlightenment” in the 16th century such Constituitional frameworks have been developed to be human centric and specifically disconnected from the Cosmos. Only humans seem to exist for purposes of the Constitution, which is supposed to be the foundation of the nation-state. Individual and groups of citizens then develop their own contracts amongst themselves within the overarching framework of this social contract framework called the Constitution.
Tracking each tiny movement towards or away from fruition of these desires became the obsession of these particular social contracts among individuals and groups. That is the sense of time that most Humans live in. Now in the 21st century, now down to micro seconds with a combination of computing and communication technologies. This level of time tracking is beyond comprehension by Human mental cycles. For example, fast paced gaming videos playing on virtual reality devices in what is now increasingly labeled the metaverse. It should not be a wonder that humans increasingly are not able to differentiate between reality and fiction.
The word Rta appears more than 390 times[i] in the Rig version of the VedA. As with any word, Rta has been interpreted in multiple ways. Here I am interpreting Rta as an articulation of a certain regularity of pattern of change in whatever it is that humans are perceiving. We experience time through these patterns of change that we notice.
The Insight-givers (Rishis) of the Rig Veda[ii] observed these patterns and guidance on how to align with these patterns of change, Rta, followed. The ‘how to align’ attempts to provide structure to align with time cycle pattern that Humans perceive at various levels. The intention was to provide guidance on how to live harmoniously with the Cosmos. Networks of such Rta aligning structures may be seen as DharmA: that which supports Humans to live harmoniously with the Cosmos.
Insights of the Rishis as given in the Veda (Rig, Saam, Yajur and Atharva) were distilled in the Upanishads. The Rig Veda has 10,600 verses. There is one Upanishad associated with Rig Veda: Aitereya Upanishad[iii], which has 33 verses. Such concentrated distillation of the wisdom of the VedA can make it challenging for many people to understand the gist
The Upanishads[iv] in turn became the basis for developing DarshanAs. Each DarshanA[v] presents a specific model of how Humans function in the Cosmos. One such DarshanA is Vedanta. And within Vedanta, there is Advaita VedAnta.
In this note I am using the (to the best of my limited knowledge) Advaita VedAnta DarshanA, as articulated by Adi ShankarAcharya, to first describe the place of Humans in the Cosmos. And then to describe the different types of Cosmic patterns, Rta, observed by Humans, to which they may attempt to align with. For these descriptions from within Advaita VedAnta teachings, I use the lens of pulsations, SpandanA from Kashmir Shaivism.
There is one singular Cosmic pulsation. A pulsation is a rhythmic pattern of expansion and contraction. The rhythmic pulsation gives rise to sense of time in the Human observer.
Desires arise within this one singular Cosmic pulsation.
One of these desires is to manifest and enjoy play as Human on the Cosmic playground of innumerable manifest desires as Human.
The singular Cosmic pulsation takes on a role of non-acting, non-judgemental Witness, the Sakshi, as this Human manifestation arises.
The desire to be Human gives rise to a Knowledge pulsation that is described as the Intellect.
The Knowledge pulsation arises out of the Sakshi, the Witness pulsation. It is dependent on the Witness pulsation, which is in turn an integral aspect of the singular Cosmic pulsation. Disturbances arise in the Knowledge pulsation. These disturbances are thoughts arising and receding withing the Knowledge pulsation. Thoughts are transient. Being transient, Knowledge based on transient thoughts are considered less real. They may have certain patterns. One of the key thought pattern that arises is the ‘I’ ness (Aham kArA), the ‘I am”. But the transient nature of these thought patterns makes the patterns less reliable as guide to understanding truths about the Cosmos (when compared to the complete unchanging steadiness of the Sakshi, the Witness). The ‘I am’ thought pattern also rises and recedes. But through memory capacity gives a false sense ofindependent continuity and hence a false sense of separate identity.
Out of the Knowledge Pulsation arise the five Sense pulsations, each with its specific limited functional capabilities to connect with a subset of the innumerable other manifestations, which we know of as objects outside of us, in the Cosmos.
Out of the collective of the five Sense pulsations arises the manifestation of pulsations of the physical body. The physical body pulsations have the capacity to inter-act with a certain narrow range of what Humans perceive as object manifestations in the Cosmos.
The Knowledge pulsation together with the Sense pulsations observe the patterns in the object manifestations. The patterns in the physical body manifestations are also observed. However, the Knowledge pulsation is unable to have knowledge of itself until and unless there is guidance to withdraw and observe its own thought patterns.
This is a very highly simplified[vi] description of the pulsation constituents of that makes for being Human. This background is the basis for the description of how Rta was observed and how actions of the physical body to align with these objective Cosmic patterns were designed and practiced within Indic traditions.
I present examples three of the patterns which were observed as time cycles in the Indian traditions and ways to align with Rta: 1. Astronomical patterns for managing social and economic movement in time: time keeping through movement of Sun and Moon in the background of Asterisms, including calendrical time. 2. Thought patterns to manage individual actions in time: The entanglement of breath patterns with thought patterns. 3. Patterns of hormonal cycles to manage individual physical body: example of menstrual cycle. For each of these examples we will explore how the Veda based Rta based Dharma actions worked and then note what is happening now in the 21st century.
Human in India pick up patterns of Sky movements of the Sun and the Moon in the background of the Stars. They notice patterns on Earth which apparently correlate to the patterns in the Sky.
Sun and the seasons. Moon and the tides.
Then they figure out that the patterns change from when they north to south, east to west.
They come up with a way to measure the movement of the Moon vis a vis the Sun. It takes 30 Sun rises for the Moon to be with the Sun, approximately. They figure Moon is going around in circles. That means the Moon moves ahead about 12 deg ahead of the Moon between 2 Sunrises. But the Moon has a wobble and it intersects the Sun’s apparent rotation around the Earth at about an angle of 5 deg twice a month. Once when it goes from South to North (they named in Rahu, the north node) and then when it goes from the North to South (they named in Ketu, the south node). How to keep track of all this on a daily basis and almost every village? They were also aware of the precession of the Earth and the nutation of the precession angle itself, based on their observation of how the apparently fixed North Star changed over millennia.
How was this complex time keeping accomplished? By having a disciplined group do the daily work of time keeping through observations of the sky at each big village in every area of human habitation in India. How was this done without building out monasteries and institutions which require state patronage? It was done by creating norms of having Brahmans, a group of people who committed themselves to being disciplined to be up every day to measure the number of degrees that the Moon had traveled since the previous Sunrise. They did this three times a day, every day: Sunrise, when the Sun was at the zenith in the sky and at Sunset. The procedure they followed was called SandhyA VandanA: connecting to the sky at the conjunctions of the Sun with particular positions of the sky. In modern terms Sandhya VandanA is called a ritual. It was a procedure designed to maintain time keeping operation on a daily basis across the geography of India. The Sandhya VandanA procedure and other such procedures were designed to help manage many time cycles. This particular procedure, SandhyA VandanA, was designed to enable social time keeping cycles through daily observation of the sky map. These daily observations were meticulously collated into PanchAng (roughly translated as almanac). Each geographical area had its own PanchAng, which was then shared and coordinated across the areas through the regional King’s court.
What were the social and economic benefits of such social time keeping? A shared social time keeping system is a central core to coordinating work and social interactions between working groups and families. PanchAng was used to inform people when to prepare the fields, sow, irrigate, harvest. It was used to set the local market days and times, to identify marriage seasons so that they would not overlap with work seasons. This social time keeping was one of the corner stones of India having been productive and socially and economically stable until the advent of “European Enlightenment”[vii].
The productive and socially and economically stable conditions in India were a reflection of the attempt at designing and implementing a way of living that would align with Rta, the Cosmic cycles. The Rig VedA promises that when Humans align with the Cosmic cycles, the Rta, they are rewarded with abundance, health and capacity to collaborate and minimize harm to each other and the environment[viii].
Brahmans were assigned the role of keeping time, which required strict daily discipline and austere life (including need for social distancing to minimize being ill), since they had to perform certain procedures and make key observations every day, beginning before dawn. Their cumulative services were required by all the people together and not just people local to a village. In return they were assured protection by the King from any harm, they were given a small allowance for their time keeping services. In addition, they were given the function of teaching in PathshAlAs, schools. Since they were trained to be keen observers, they also developed Ayurveda, using which they could also offer services as healers.
Brahmans passed on their knowledge generation to generation by practicing partial endogamy. Partial, because the norm was that the sons could go East to offer their services to Kings and villages which did not have time keepers. There they could marry a local woman and start a family. The norm was that Brahman women were married to Brahman men to the West. So the Vedic frontier expanded to the East beyond India through this process of Brahman sons going East to offer services and marrying locally. It was through such service based knowledge transfer that Vedic guidance that aligning with Rta would make for a harmonious way of life came to be in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and other South East Asian countries[ix], without invasions or mass migrations out of India.
There may have been push backs within Indic traditions to the claim that attempting to living a life through alignment with Rta is sufficient to ensure harmonious life (that it is necessary was not challenged) makes for harmony by the Uttara Mimamsins more than 3 millennia ago and later during the time of the Buddha about 500 BCE. The series of Islamic invasions from about 1100 CE onwards caused many dislocations, but did not displace the Rta based time keeping processes in India. It was British colonization, which brought with it a highly centralized way of time keeping that finally put paid to the highly de-centralized process of Brahmans being the time keepers through daily observations wrapped in strict discipline of an austere life.
The Gregorian Calendar reform of 1582 by the Roman Catholic Church was a key factor in displacing the central time keeping role of Brahmans in India. Jesuits who led the calendar reform committee on behalf of the Church went to Kerala in India[x], to be trained in Vedanga Jyotisha, which form the basis of forming sky maps and measuring and developing accurate almanacs.
With the Gregorian Calendar reform of 1582, Europe had the timekeeping corner stone required for social and material abundance that India had enjoyed for many millennia prior. That followed in 1600 the establishment of the British East India Company. By about 1800, the British Greenwich Meant Time became the central time keeper for the global commercial world. The Human centered world of social contracts was firmly in control. The world of the Rta, the process of alignment with Rta, the Cosmic patterns, the way of life for a large fraction of humans, under the guidance of the VedA, faded into the foggy past. As if to make sure that this way of life of alignment with Cosmic cycles would not re-emerge, Brahmans were and continue to be vilified as the evil ones. But for the British East India Company’s benign exploitation of India and it people to a level of poverty and famine unseen before (by moving them into opium cultivation in Bengal and Bihar and cotton cultivation in Gujarat for example), India would still have been a backward degenerate dark hole of humanity, if we are to believe western scholars.
From then on Time arose from social contracts with Humans as center of the Cosmos. No longer in sync with the Cosmic cycles.
The global impact of the disconnection from the Cosmic cycles, the Rta, through social contract driven Time, has been death in three acts of ecocide, fratricide (from the Mother Divine’s perspective we are all Her children, hence fratricide rather than genocide seems more appropriate) and suicide[xi].
As the process of attempting to align with Cosmic time cycles receded into the fog of social memory, the time cycles spawned by social contracts, with a human centered cosmos, led to increased disturbance in individual and group physical and mental health.
Civilization arising out of the VedA not only speaks to the Cosmic time cycles as observed by the sense pulsations in space, it also speaks to the Cosmic time cycles in the physical human body and the human mind. For Cosmic time cycles permeate every pulsation. These different Cosmic time cycles are entangled with each other.
The time cycles of the human mind are experienced as thought patterns. Thoughts cycles are closely connected breath cycles. As breath cycles slow down, so do thought cycles. As the frequency of breath cycles slows down and their amplitude grows (deeper in and out breaths), the frequency of thought cycles slows down and the amplitude of thought increases (enabling keener observation with deeper insights).
As first two steps, of the Sandhya Vandana procedure to monitor the Cosmic time cycles that the Brahmans performed three times every day, were Surya Namaskar (a physical movement to align the physical body cycles) and then praNAyAma, exercises to slow down frequency of thoughts, while increasing amplitude (insight depth) of individual thought.
Surya Namaskar is a series of postures from the discipline of the Indic tradition of Hatha Yoga. As are the particular PrAnAyam steps that are integrated into the Sandhya VandanA procedure.
As malaise rose in the social contracts based human centric world, there have been attempts to graft Hatha Yoga based procedures on to modern lifestyles. They fail to deliver. The intention of performing the procedures is not to align with Cosmic cycles. In the modern usage, it is an attempt to perform better in the world of human centric social contracts time cycles which is alienated / disassociated from the Cosmic cycles.
The guidance in the VedA is that for blessings of abundant flourishing to be showered, alignment with Cosmic time cycles is required. Offering / giving up / sacrificing of human desires that are obstacles in the way of such alignment with Cosmic time cycles is required to prepare and enable humans to align with the Cosmic time cycles. This process of offering / giving up / sacrificing of obstacle making desires is Yajnya. Yajnya thus becomes a pre-requisite to attempting to function in consonance with Rta, the Cosmic time cycles.
In the globalized modern world we are far away from even having the intention to align with Cosmic time cycles, Rta. We are even farther away from even beginning to contemplate on which of our desires, ably accelerated by the time cycles of the human centric social contracts world, we may want to offer as sacrifice so that the intention to align with Rta may arise.
In the meanwhile, we have high thought frequencies at shallow amplitudes. The Knowledge pulsation in almost all humans is not able to deliver wisdom. It gives rise to dissonance from Rta and the widespread malaise which we are quite familiar with.
I wrote the foreword for Rtu Vidya: Ancient Science behind Menstrual Practices[xii] in 2020. Here is an extract from it:
“I do not mean that as an empty flourish. The female human plays a most critical role in the flourishing of the human manifestation. Yet, modernity completely subsumes woman’s roe as the creatrix and mother, by putting gross material flourishing on the pedestal. All metrics which govern our modern way of life, whether in terms of time or effort (think productivity, efficiency, effectiveness etc.) makes us focus on exploitation of what modernity deems to be resources for material production and consumption. Menstruation plays a central role in a woman’s life cycle. The technology to manage and suppress menstrual cycles so that women’s bodies are free to shift the focus on increasing material productivity (marketed as economic freedom) is a central toxic hallmark of modernity. And we are all participants in sustaining these modern processes. Many of us are actively subverting any opposition to modernity (and how it shapes women, whether through the stance of ‘conservative’ modernity or ‘progressive’ modernity) that may arise from competing cultural paradigms that describe creative roles women play in human flourishing. Rtu Vidya offers a competing vision of humans and women to the one offered up by the modern paradigm. As the book gets traction and attention, it is likely to attract vehement opposition from many moderns who see freedom only in narrow economic terms and in effect as the unbounded opportunity to bond ourselves to the treadmill of ever increasing material efficiency demanded as sacrifice at the altar of Capital.”
As the reader may have noticed, Civilization based on VedA provides guidance on aligning with Cosmic time cycles at thought, sensory, hormonal and physical levels. One of the key time cycles for Humans are the endocrine (hormonal) cycles. We know of the Circadian rhythm, the 24 hour time cycle in Humans (and most mammals) which is aligned with the Earth’s rotation and the apparent revolution of the Sun around the Earth. Disruption of that key alignment is known to cause “decreased cognitive performance and increased propensity to develop obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Many hormonal factors show robust diurnal secretion rhythms, some of which are involved in mediating clock output from the brain to peripheral tissues.”[xiii] We are also aware of that the human centric social contracts based time cycle has disregarded alignments with all Cosmic cycles. While there have been research on impact of disruption of Circadian rhythms on humans, the research of impact of disruption of menstrual cycles on women is not done. Research is done on how best to regulate and / or suppress menstrual cycles and therefore disrupt the hormonal cycles in women, so that they become available to provide labor to the social contracts focused time cycles.
The book Rtu Vidya describes practices based on principles of Rta alignment from the VedA that were designed to ensure menstrual health. While women from living Indic cultures are likely to benefit most from this book, I would suggest women from other cultures may see this book as a way to critique and change menstrual practices in their own cultures to align them better with the Cosmic cycles and ensure better menstrual health.
We are where we are. Perhaps we are at a fork in the road: lets imagine there are three alternate routes to choose from: one is to keep muddling along as we are, do nothing. Second may be to hope techno financiers will lead us into a techno utopia and we can build ourselves an artificial world and make ourselves into transhumans (half human half machine) to adapt into the artificial world with its artificial time cycles[xiv]. The third may be to attempt to renew the effort to align with the Cosmic time cycles.
Here I will address the third alternative.
We cannot go back to a point a couple of millennia ago, when there seems to have been a serious attempt made to socially organize to be in consonance with Rta. We can learn from that experience. We can see where we are today. And then begin with the intention that we want to once again begin to focus on being aligned with the Cosmic cycles at all levels. And be open to judiciously using current technology to do so.
A practical way to begin in this direction may be to fully restore alignment with the circadian rhythm for all humans (will require substantial change in current economic structure, which functions 24/7/365), along with metabolic cycles (implying nutritious food available to all, but would imply substantial change to the current food growing, prep and delivery system) and support for menstrual health for women through alignment with their cycles (would require substantial changes in work and career related expectations for women).
At the individual level one may begin with aligning breathing pattern with thought pattern, with low frequency and high amplitude.
My take away from this note is that the chances for social harmony among humans may be enhanced by human individuals and groups sacrificing their desires that conflict with the effort required to align with Cosmic time cycles. The guidance on how to align with Rta is all down to earth and practical suggestions. They are neither esoteric nor mystical. Also, while may be a partial solution, based on historical experience, it may be the most helpful steps to take towards a new global renaissance.
The Rig Veda says that when Humans align with Rta, they are blessed with abundance at all levels. Humans aligned with Rta cooperate with each other and in unison work together to achieve their shared goal. That leads me to close this note this note with the (very practical down to earth) the last two verses of the Rig Veda (10th Mandala, 191 Sukta, 3&4th verse)[xv] :
“May all chant the same mantrAs, may they aspire to the same goals, through shared purpose and desire. I will join in your mantra chanting, I will offer the same sacrifices as you so that we may achieve our shared goals.”
Samghatna, a system based on interdependent parts.
Niyati, an inherent order of interdependence and movement.”
[ii] The NAsadiya Sukta of the Rig VedA ( click on this link and scroll down to Text and translation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasadiya_Sukta ) is often quoted as deepest insight of the VedA. Each of its verses is a contemplative ocean. Deep dives into these oceans resulted in the insights embedded in the Upanishads and subsequent development of the TantrAs.
[vii] I use quote marks for “European Enlightenment” to signify that as an outsider I see it as a fountain of epistemic violence unleashed against all outsider cultures, which continues to destroy many millennia of knowledge that human cultures generated. One of the favored epistemic weapons used is to deconstruct, label and analyze those cultures as degenerate, while at the same time be sweetly condescending and patronizing. This is a common weapon in the arsenal of all those practicing currently in Western academia, without exception. Marx’s 1850s formulation of the Asiatic mode of production, his view of the “hereditary village republics” was based on his reading of the British History of India by James Mill. It completely ignored the conceptual world view of the Cosmos based on the VedA that formed the basis of attempting to design a way of life that aligns with Rta, the entangled Cosmic cycles that we dimly observe with the limited cognitive capacity that we as Humans have. After all the Philosopher, Hegel, in 1830, had declared Europe had nothing to learn from Asia. That henceforth it is Europe that is going to teach the world.
[viii] Those who wish to deep dive into Rig VedA, this Hindi translation may be a useful starting point: https://vedicheritage.gov.in/flipbook/Rigveda_Subodh_Bhasya_Vol_IV/#book/9 . English translations lose the substance and context due to the Western lens used in the translation, which misses out on understanding Vedic view of the Cosmos. See the English translation by H.H. Wilson here (free online) and notice how it interpolates words such as worshippers and gods which are not there in the Rig Veda (use of such words change the meaning of the VedA to fit into Western Theology and dependent ideologies, including those spawned by European Enlightenment).
[x] Pp 331 Raju, C.K. The Eleven Pictures of Time, The Physics, Philosophy, and Politics of Time Belief, SAGE Publications, 2003. “The Jesuit Christoph Clavius who eventually headed the calendar reform committee had studied at Cimbra under Pedro Nunes, the most famous European navigational theorist of the time. Clavius reformed the curriculum of Jesuit priests at Collegio Romano , to introduce (practical) methematics into it, as noted earlier, and himself wrote a text on practical mathematics. From among the first batch of Jesuits, so trained in mathematics and navigation, the most capable , like Matteo Ricci, were sent to collect information about timekeeping from India, to help in Clavius’s reform of the Gregorian calendar.”
What do I want to keep? What to let go? What do I want to build anew?
Well, actually if I could, I would like to keep just a few specific positive memories from 2019 and let go of the rest, both positive and negative.
I don’t think it is possible to let go of memories. But maybe be they can be moved to some faraway distant storage?! That way they are not lurking around to trigger us every day into doing or saying things that we then regret.
So I begin by thinking backwards from December to January of 2019. Month by month.
For each month I try to remember things that happened that gave me a feeling of well-being and of unease. I think of my health and in my late 60s I have some aches and pains that routinely spring to life. Remembering specific things helps to contemplate on what I should have done differently to manage these little friends that keep springing up. This way I begin to make a ‘lessons learned’ list! I have been able to add a new 3 minute daily exercise for my knees, for example. So I can move my memories of knee pain and weakness away into deep storage and instead add this new exercise segment into my daily activity.
I do the same, to remember the times I may have been upset with my dear and near ones, as I go back in the year, month by month. What could I have done differently so that I would not get so upset? And repeatedly so. The pattern becomes more obvious when I go through such a contemplative exercise for each of the 12 months. Beginning of a new year is a good time to do this, quietly by one self. I learn from it. It is one thing to say I should be more patient. Another to learn for one self how to say something differently, not jump to conclusions for example. Or come up with solutions. Asking more open ended questions in a way that would be less irritating, perhaps. So again, to let go of the memories of the pattern of upsets and hopefully to learn how not to repeat that pattern in 2020.
And then there is problem-solving we all do every day. Whether at home or at work or at play. This is something I particularly like to contemplate on. To see what problem solving was difficult for me. What caused anxiety and how was it resolved. How could I have done that problem solving differently. Much of the problem solving we do is collaborative. Going to buy or sell a car for example. To solve that problem requires many different players and many different factors coming into play. I have to come up to speed on who does what and so on in the car buying or selling process. Lots of prep work needs to be done before going in and engaging to solve the problem of buying or selling a car. Same thing with investing: buying or selling stocks or bonds for example. Or buying or selling a house. Same rules apply: contemplate on specific problem solving events backwards month by month in 2019. What could I have done differently to have better outcomes? What can I learn from that and how can I change how I solve problems in 2020? More research, patience, asking questions, being pro-active are some general things. All this take more time. So giving more time up front in how I plan the problem solving process is something that I hope to build in to the way I solve complex problems in 2020.
Hope you get some idea from these examples of my own step by step attempts to learn from 2019, so I can move most of the memories into far away distant storage while keeping most of the lessons learned. And so, hopefully, become a somewhat better person in 2020 (my new year’s resolution). Perhaps you may try some of this for yourself. Especially if you believe there is room for you to be a somewhat better person in 2020.
At the MuldhArA: Lord Sastha with Purnakala and Pushkala, at Sori Muthaiyan Kovil (Image Courtesy: V. Aravind Subramanyam), Pp 56 of Digital Copy of the Book.
by Jayant Kalawar, November 21, 2019
Women and Sabarimala: The Science behind Restrictions. Sinu Joseph, Notion Press. First Published by Notion Press 2019, ISBN 978-1-64733-633-2 (The book is available directly from publisher at Notion Press and at Amazon India . It is also available on Kindle atAmazon.com. My review is based on a digital copy provided for review purposes).
The author, Sinu Joseph, opens up for us the amazingly beautiful complex weave of Sastha tradition (of which Sabarimala is an integral part) by taking us on a journey of six Sastha temples, across a geography of many hundreds of miles in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. When we go along with her on this pilgrimage, we get to sense of the process of subtle human connections with the Deities of each of the temples. Along the way, Sinu describes what that connection experience is like for those who identify themselves as female and how it is different from those who identify themselves as male.
Before embarking on the journey, the book gives us an orientation in the first two chapters. This may be especially helpful for those who, while born into Hindu families, may not have had the opportunity to understand the deeply thoughtful subtle framework of chakras, and their connections to the endocrinal system of the human body, that have been used to design this pilgrimage through these six temples, each with a uniquely powerful Deity residing in a specific temple architecture. The connection to the human endocrinal system lays open for us to see how the pilgrimage process generates different experiences in female and male bodies. Those who are already deep practitioners in the chakra based traditions may find the first chapter of the book to be a quick refresher (given there are multiple views of chakra framework within Hindu tradition, the one described in this book may be considered by some to be a beginners version). The second chapter (along with the preface) sets up the problem that arose when Sabarimala temple was viewed through the lens of modernity – the rest of the book being a response to the question: why are women between the ages of 10 and 50 not allowed to enter Sabarimala temple.
The pilgrimage of the six Sastha temples is described as journey from the muldhArA chakrA through swadisthAnA, maNipurA, anAhatA and vishuddhi chakrAs to the AjnA chakrA. Reading the first two chapters makes the descriptions of each of the temple Deities and the experiences easy to grasp. Each description is helpfully divided into sections describing the journey of the author’s travel party to the temple, their experiences in the temple, the Deity, the Chaitanyam, the ChakrA significance.
As the pilgrimage gains momentum, the descriptions of experiences build upon themselves and one becomes more and more curious about what comes next. That is a hallmark of an accomplished story teller. To show us this particular complex weave of Hindu tradition with such story telling prowess wants me to read more of Sinu Joseph’s writings in the future, as she deepens her insights by continuing her sAdhanA.
In the last but one chapter Sinu brings the mystery to a close by making a compelling case, which she has been building all along. We see how by the time we get to Sabarimala our endocrine systems may be activated through the pilgrimage and how this begins to impact male and female bodies differently. And especially how this may impact menstruating women differently.
The book ends with a conversation with women to begin exploring the answer to the question ‘but so, what should women who also want mukti do?”. I think such exploration is much needed to rejuvenate a knowledge base that would help us move towards a socially and culturally more balanced life.
The blessings of Lord Sastha flow into this book and upon its readers through the blessings of Shri V. Aravind Subramanyam, President, Shri Maha Sasthru Seva Sangam, Coimbatore, in his foreword to the book. I read it at the beginning and once again at the end of my reading. I highly recommend reading this book. May you be blessed by Lord Sastha.
WIth the Devi’s Blessings. Cover art by Jayant Kalawar 2018.
By Jayant Kalawar
When I wrote the essay Outsider Deconstructing European Enlightenment it was a way of describing what it means to be human, by telling a story of how some humans have done things with each other and with nature around them. Many of us call such descriptions history.
So these humans I describe have a quite a bit of potential to act in different ways. However, much of it has not been switched on (yet). Most of these humans seem to be very good at utilizing some of their potential, for example: to survive, reproduce, acquire material things and consume them.
That leaves out the potential for courage to be compassionate, to connect with all species on Earth and the Earth itself and to explore and connect with cosmic spiritual vibrations. Such potentials, in most humans, remain untapped. In my essay I talk about how each of these seven potentials (yes, if you go back and count you will see there are seven) are channeled through seven chakrAs. which I posit makes for being human, when you see humans through the Devi Lens (all that in the essay).
What switches on these potentials? The culture you live in and how you are nurtured plays a big role in throwing these switches on and off. It’s this cultural driver that I focus on in my Outsider essay, to show how it switches on some of our potentials and lets others remain dormant.
In current usage in our digital world, we all live in now, I think it is better to call this driver memetic complex, rather than culture. New memes are produced and old ones are morphed or die every day now in this relatively new digital age. So unlike the past, we have a real chance to develop many memetic complexes (is that the right plural? – but you get the point) that may switch on the entire range of potentials in humans.
I think there are two more drivers for switching on potentials in humans.
One of those drivers I think is the natural environment we interact with, including through breathing, consuming and generally our physical living conditions. I want to explore how this driver actually works within us at the cellular level, through gene expressions and protein pathways. I have barely begun learning about this. But at the moment, my sankalpA is to write my next essay on how natural environment and genetics drive the switching of human potentials on and off. It took me about 3 years to write and self-publish the Outsider essay, after almost 15 years of reading and research (not knowing where it would take me, if at all). So, I have no sense of what may emerge and when that may end up being an essay about this cellular / endocrine driver and how it is tied to the chakrAs. But the general broad intention is present.
The other driver is personal practices, sAdhanA leading to upAsanA. You will notice I am not translating when I drop Sanskrit words into what I write here. It is easy to find meanings with Google search these days. If you are really interested you will do so and in the process perhaps get more and more comfortable with living in a global memetic complex! That one is so personal that I am not sure it could even be an essay. Perhaps a short memoir, some distant time in the future, when some sense emerges that there is something worthwhile to share.
Notice the use of emerging. Rather than aspiring.
If you do download and read my Outsider essay on Kindle, I hope you write and post your comment here. Especially how it made you think differently about what it is to be human and how we go about doing things in this world.
WIth the Devi’s Blessings. Cover art by Jayant Kalawar 2018.
I recently published this essay on Amazon Kindle. Here is a brief summary:
From an outsider’s perspective, European Enlightenment was a brilliant social innovation, which emerged in the 17th century, as a response to the brutally destructive intra-religious wars in Europe. It led to the formation of national governments, financial markets and rapid growth of a certain kind of science and technology. However by the 21st century, that innovation, through its runaway success, has had unintended global consequences of ecocide, fratricide and suicide, particularly impacting those outside of the European sphere. This 60 page essay takes you briefly through the 3000 year history of monotheism in the West, before focusing on the 17th century and the path that has led to the current global systemic crises. The outsider, using the framework of his Devi traditions, offers a compass of hope, to navigate out of the global dystopian scenario charted by European Enlightenment, towards compassion, connection and immersion.
I am opening this page to comments and discussions. The comments posted on this page so far are quite insightful. You may want to browse through them as well. And please consider posting your comment here as well.
The Destroyer of Ignorance and Confusion – Aum Namo KAlarAtreya NamAhA (Source: Wikipedia, Devi Kalratri, Sanghasri, Kalighat, Kolkata, 2010)
Summary: the level of intensity of the putative physical and economic storms in 2019, with felt impacts into early 2020, is likely to be signaled in political events and directions in the USA in the first half of November 2018 and then in January 2019.
The storms of 2019 may impact up to 10 to 15% of people across the globe in some mix of physical and economic outcomes in a very low to high range. There are no cookie cutter solutions to identify who is more likely to be impacted and how much and what to do about it. Assessment of individual horoscopes can help in this regard. Those who do consistent sAdhanA and connect with the Devi are likely to have less impact.
The grahAs will be showering their blessings upon us this September.
Venus will be transiting into its home base Libra on September 2nd and staying there until end of the year. Venus will promote a sense of material well-being and harmony, after a month being farthest away from Earth, hence weak.
Mercury will end its long sojourn of the last few months in Cancer and transit into Leo on September 2nd and then into its home base of Virgo on September 19th. Mercury then joins Venus on October 6th and moves into Scorpio on October 27th. Mercury may not cause much volatility between now and October 27th (except a brief few days September 22nd to 25th, when it comes under passing influence of Rahu-Ketu field), and thus helping better communications and analysis, further adding to the harmony component of Venus.
Mars is strong and exalted in Capricorn between now and November 5th, providing a positive energy to those who are adept at channeling its energies constructively by connecting with Devi DurgA. There is an exception period when Mars energy may be quite disturbed (not as intense as the June-July / Early August time frame) as it once again crosses the much weakened Rahu-Ketu field, between September 19th and 30th. Disturbed Mars energy shows up as natural disasters on Earth, including wild fires and volcanic eruptions, military and police action and generally aggressive interactions and thoughts at personal level. But overall Mars will still provide positive energies especially to Devi sadhakAs.
Sun is in its home base of Leo until mid-September and then in Virgo until mid-October. Sun will bless those of us who seek to remember their IshTa DevatAs and chant the GAyatri mantrA.
Jupiter will be generally strong in Libra between now and October 11th. In turn it supports Saturn to be strong in Sagittarius during this time.
Rahu-Ketu axis is moving between now and December 5th. Its negative influence is weak at this time.
So you see the overall picture emerging: a mostly positive environment may be expected between now and October 11th.
So what made me headline this post Calm before the Storm?
Well, I see this to be most positive period before storm clouds begin to signal themselves, and the storm momentum builds up. Watch out for the signals during the following periods in the next year or so and make your own assessments (I may likely keep coming back to this in future posts opening up more details). The way to approach and develop a series of potential scenarios is to apply the intensity of the outcome from one event set as the starting point of amplification of the next time period. So here goes:
Jupiter will go through the influence of a weak Rahu-Ketu field from October 22nd to Nov 14th, with peak dissonance between November 1st and 14th. At the same time Mercury will go through the same field November 1st-2nd. And Mars will be weak as it ends its long transit in Capricorn on November 5th. This may likely cause volatility in political and financial arenas combined with unfocussed energy, especially in the USA. All this points to chances that the November 6th mid-term elections in USA may end up giving a weak result for the current US president.
The Rahu-Ketu field will be strong between December 5th 2018 and March 6th 2019. On January 10th 2019 when the newly elected US Congress convenes the Rahu-Ketu field will be at its peak intensity. The result of the mid-term elections will likely be amplified and may likely begin impacting the ability of the current US president to carry out strong positive leadership actions in 2019.
So by end of January 2019 we may have a sense of how 2019 may likely unfold. Any sense of political weakness in the USA may translate into financial and economic weakness not only in the USA but throughout the globe.
The Rahu-Ketu field will be positioned to have intense impact between May 20th 2019 and August 19th 2019 – this one has particular potential to trigger both natural disasters and war like situations between multiple nations around the globe. This in turn may have negative impact on health and economic situations of large populations.
Fall-out from the May-August 2019 events may likely be felt in physical and economic terms, almost like after-tremors across the world, from November 13th 2019 to February 2nd 2020.
To sum up: the level of intensity of the putative physical and economic storms in 2019, with felt impacts into early 2020, is likely to be signaled in political events and directions in the USA in the first half of November 2018 and then in January 2019.
I may cover topics of how to begin to prepare and position for 2019 in the next few months.
The storms of 2019 may impact up to 10 to 15% of people across the globe in some mix of physical and economic outcomes in a very low to high range. There are no cookie cutter solutions to identify who is more likely to be impacted and how much and what to do about it. Assessment of individual horoscopes can help in this regard. Those who do consistent sAdhanA and connect with the Devi are likely to have less impact.
II Aum MAtre NamAhA II
I practice Systems Approach to Vedic Astrology as propounded by the late Professor V.K. Choudhry and now being carried forward by his son Shri K. Rajesh Chowdhary.
This morning, August 17th, the Sun rose in Leo. Ever auspicious, the Deva Savitr in Leo is even more so. He transits Leo in the period between August 17th and September 16th in the 21st century. The Deva channels Sri Gayatri MAtA’s blessings to us.
This 30 day period in 2018 is likely to be more positive than the same time in the last two years, when the Rahu-Ketu axis was afflicting Leo (and we experienced eclipses September 1st and 16th 2016 and August 21st 2017). This year Leo is clear and the Sun can bless us unhindered. Late last year the Rahu-Ketu axis moved on to Cancer and we experienced eclipses in June-July 2018 – and many of us have just about begun working our way out of some rather stressful situations at personal and social levels.
However (and there is usually a ‘however’), Mercury and Venus may send some mixed signals to quite a few of us during the next two weeks to September 2nd 2018.
Summary: Auspicious Sun in Leo, Volatile Mercury in Cancer, Weak Venus in Virgo. Sun will transit into Leo August 17th 2018 and will be there until September 16th 2018. Sun in Leo is auspicious for all signs in different ways. For example, Leo may show leadership, while Virgo works on inner peace and Gemini starts new initiatives. Capricorn may benefit from partnerships and inheritance, while Pisces may find it easy to win in competitions and get financial benefits. And so on.
However, Mercury, may throw a spanner in the works until September 2nd as it moves slowly out of Cancer. It makes for volatility in communications and analysis, in turn impacting volatility in many areas in our lives, including financial markets. In this case, the volatility of Mercury is mostly related to Moon transiting from one house to another. Dates to watch for mixed and missed signals: August 17th-21st (Moon transiting from Libra through Scorpio and into Sagittarius), 23rd, 25th/26th, 28th, 30th and September 1st-2nd.
Meanwhile, Venus continues to be weak and distant in Virgo until September 2nd. Luxury items and sales targeted at women have less chance of success and this will be reflected in the financial markets as well.
So September 3rd to 16th may be less volatile, more enjoyable. More on that later.