Celebrating Guru Poornima 2017

Celebrating Guru Poornima 2017

vande Gurunam caranarvinde
samdarsita svatma sukhava bodhe 
nih shreyase jangalikayamane
samsara halahal mohasantyai
“I bow to the lotus feet of the Guru and his lineages, through which is revealed eternal joy and wisdom of the SELF. He is like the snake charmer who destroys the poisonous web of samskara, by reducing the illusions that bind us.”
We all know that Shankara was the greatest exponent of Advaita Vedanta and almost everything we read and understand in the form of Upanishads are popular commentaries given by him. However not many know that he also wrote a yogic text by the name “Yoga Taravali” which provides a glimpse of his mastery over the science of experiential Yoga. Yoga Taravali is a rare gem of a scripture. Unfortunately not many have offered their commentaries on this and so it remains a hidden and unknown text.
The first verse of Yoga Taravali is in praise of one’s Guru. In India we always begin any prayer by paying respect and homage to one’s Guru. In fact we place the Guru before even Self and God. Saint Kabir in one of his famous couplets wrote :
Guru govind dono khade, kaake lagu paaye
Balihari guru aapno, govind diyo bataye
“If the Guru and Govind (Lord Krishna) are standing together, at whose feet will you bow down first? I owe the Guru first for he has revealed Govind (God or SELF) to me.”
Interestingly pop star Madonna also sang the first two lines of the verse of this text on her popular album, “Ray of Light” in the song “Shanti/Ashtangi”. I will begin with these two lines of the verse:
vande Gurunam caranarvinde
samdarsita svatma sukhava bodhe
“I bow to the lotus feet of the Guru and his lineages, through which is revealed eternal joy and wisdom.”
These first two lines of this verse talk about bowing at the feet of the Guru. Bowing at the feet of the Guru is a part of tradition and is considered a very auspicious way for a shisya to get blessings. However many take it in the literal sense and physically fall to touch the feet of the Guru. This is mere outward ritual while real bowing should be from within. Bhagavan Sri Ramana always pointed us to that inner ritual of bowing.
A devotee once approached Bhagavan and asked him if he could prostrate to him and touch his feet. 
Bhagavan replied, “The real feet of Bhagavan exist only in the heart of the devotee. To hold onto these feet incessantly is true happiness. You will be disappointed if you hold onto my physical feet because one day this physical body will disappear. The greatest worship is worshipping the Guru’s feet that are within oneself.”
The word “Gurunam” is very important. Gurunam means lineage or tradition and not just a Guru or teacher.
So when a shishya bows at the feet of a Guru a few things are being conveyed. First the shishya vows to the Guru that he will walk the path that his Guru walked upon as laid down by his Guru (tradition). In the physical dimension legs are organs of actions to reach any destination. Symbolically by worshipping the Guru’s feet inwardly a sadhaka vows that no matter what obstacles come his way he will keep walking until he has reached his goal. He will keep putting efforts into meditation and Self-inquiry until he completely eradicates all his vasanas.
The physical feet are also symbolic of the two antahkaranas (inner organs) – manas and buddhi, which mean mind and intellect respectively. Holding the feet indicates that the shisya is willing to place full trust in the mind and the intellect of his Guru and the process given to him towards his sadhana. In a Guru’s Consciousness his mind and intellect are well-integrated while in most seekers they are in conflict with each other. Mind says something and intellect another thing and it becomes hard to recognize the true inner voice. Therefore it is better to follow the advice of one’s Guru.
Lastly falling at the feet also indicates that he has surrendered his ego to the Guru because without surrendering his ego there will be no space or room for the Guru’s teachings to enter, grow and deepen. Ego thrives on comfort especially on that which reflects familiar patterns and tendencies. The Guru has to often do a spiritual “surgery” to weed those out. The ego is there guarding these tendencies. Therefore one has to mentally surrender his or her ego to one’s Guru for the “procedure” to be successful. One cannot have one half of the body on the “operating table” and the other half off the table and ready to leave midway through the surgery. One has to leave all at the hands of the Guru until the very end.
“The benefit of performing namaskaram to the Guru is only the removal of the ego. This is not attained except by total surrender” ~ Sri Ramana.
The last two lines provide a glimpse into the heart of the Guru’s presence–his wisdom and grace.
Nih shreyase jangalikayamane
samsara halalala mohasantyai
“He is like the snake charmer who destroys the poisonous web of samskara, by reducing the illusions that bind us.”
“Jangalika” means snake charmer. A real Guru is truly like a snake charmer. If a Guru is not a charmer he cannot be a Guru. A lot can be felt through the intoxicating eyes of a Guru. Look into the eyes of Sri Ramana, Sri Lahiri Mahashay, Yoganandaji or Osho and you will see the eyes that can draw anyone towards them, almost hypnotize them. Oshos eyes could pull large crowds towards him while Yoganandaji eyes pulled people towards love. Sri Ramanas and Lahiri Baba’s eyes were more inwards and instantly drew people inwards into their own hearts straight into truth. 

My Guru, Dubeyji, too had powerful eyes. They were very loving and kind but at the same time sharp like a hawk. He had this constant “bullshit meter” where he could sense things straight without any filters. He was openly critical of everyone who talked about love for SELF/God but had very little experience or practices to back the talks. In most cases the ones he criticized were often his own shisyas. Anytime any one of us went into an “All is Awareness” or “There is no I here” or “We are never born or never die” kind of neo-Advaita rambling he would make a funny face and ask how many hours we had sat for practice in the past two days. He would call many of us “Faki baaz”. “Faki baaz” means those who talk too much without substance. He was extremely thorough with the science of Kriya Yoga and no one could get away with any bullshit.
Let me tell you all something else. None of us actually practiced less, yet Dubeyji called us all “Faki baaz.” Because for him there was nothing like too much practice. “If we are breathing we should be practicing” was the best way to describe his attitude.
Dubeyji was also very good at hunting down egos. I remember he once told his close sangha disciples that I had attained kechari mudra (a difficult mudra) in under one month and that it can happen only through the Grace of God. I was super-elated and my ego began to swell. Dubeyji obviously sensed that in me. Later my dear friend, Rishi, was talking to him and told him that since I had attained Kechari I now believed I could attain many more siddhis. 

​Guruji was furious. He told Rishi that I first needed to graduate school before I could talk about PhD subjects. Guruji knew Rishi would often take instruction from me for Kriya practice. What better way to teach me a lesson on humility! So he told Rishi, “Go advise Rajiv to work harder and not rest on his past laurels.” I obviously got the message and even though I felt really shaken at the time I saw the compassion and love he truly had for me. Dubeyji was not angry with me. He was dealing with the ego that the world (samskara) often brings as poison in our spiritual life. When I saw that clearly in my mind, my love for my Guru increased even more. He was a charmer, charming the snake of vasanas away from our lives slowly but surely.
Dubeji would warn me against dangers, perils and traps that lurk around us and often times he had to pull me out of them. He would do it so very lovingly and then would smile and say it was all good. There were periods when I drifted into a bhoga and missed my practices, and then I would feel guilty about it. He would say, “Don’t beat yourself up. Everyone here is a bhogi. Just get back into practice. Be a big bhogi but a better yogi.”
I remember the last advice Dubeyji gave me was “Remember whenever you get into a ditch again, fall back more strongly into practice.” The real master is within our practice. To me Dubeyji will always be the best snake charmer I have ever met and I would again gladly be the “Faki baaz” if that could bring him back in my life.
The word “halahal” has special significance in Indian mythology. During samundra manthan(churning of the ocean) the devatas and the asuras were expecting the nectar of immortality. But what came out first was poison (halahal). That created panic amongst both the devatas and the asuras. Shiva then appeared and drank the poison and Shakti, the consort of Shiva, anxiously pressed his throat with her hands to prevent the poison from descending into the stomach.
When deep churning takes place due to one’s sadhana, the activated kundalini first brings to the surface a lot of negative tendencies (halahal) which have been kept hidden. This can often overwhelm a sadhaka and he may not know how to get rid of it or process it. The Guru appears as Shiva due to his compassion and through Shakti, the power of transmission and grace helps his shisya through such challenges.
Gurus may or may not be physically present but they continue to guide us from subtle realms. I always feel the protective sheath of Bhagavan Ramana, Dubey Baba and Devi Maa Shakti guiding me through the darkest phases of my life.
Jai Guru!

Fear Not!

Fear Not!

If you fear it not,
And do not try to escape it,
Do not want to release it,
Do not want to label it as good or bad,
Deserving or undeserving,
And do not want to do anything with it,
Other than remembering it is all YOU,
Allowing it to be just WHAT IT IS,
It then transforms from discomfort or disturbance
To a sweet burning, from resistance into a joyful acceptance


A Heart-to-Heart Talk with God

A Heart-to-Heart Talk with God

Close your eyes and relax yourself. 

Forget about Advaita

Forget about yoga

Have a heart-to-heart talk with God.  

Feel your Heart. 
Just your Heart. Do no technique. 

Simply ask God — 

Come to me. Come to me. 
Be with me, my love, my one and only True Love.
Come to me now. I am not a 
Jnani, nor a Yogi.
I don’t even know how to worship you properly. 

All I know is that I love you.
I love you. I love you.
I want nothing from you.
I have nothing to give you.
If I want anything at all, it is you.
I want to know what real thirst is.
I never want it to be quenched.
I only want to be thirsty.

Meditation Undone

Meditation Undone

Meditation is not concentration. Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts. It is not about escaping your problems. 

Meditation is not about attainment of any state – peace or joy. Meditation is also not about witnessing, for in real meditation the witnesser himself is absent. It is not about the hours that are spent in it. 

If you are looking at the time you have spent in meditation, you are actually looking at the time when you were not in meditation. You can practice various techniques of meditation yet you can never know what true meditation is. When techniques drop, chanting drops, time drops, only then does meditation appear.

Meditation is about embracing; it is about celebrating; it is about welcoming; it is about surrender; it is about making love.

Notice, I have not mentioned anything about any object. I have not talked about embracing anything in particular, about celebrating anything in particular, about loving anything in particular, because, to have an object means to miss meditation.

If there is an object there cannot be meditation. If there is an objective, even then there cannot be meditation. The end of object and objective is the beginning of meditation.

Meditation is about smiling; meditation is about laughing – smiling and laughing not for any reason, smiling and laughing because there is no reason.

Meditation is not when you have lost your mind. Meditation is – when you can never find the mind again, once you have lost it.

If you think you are in meditation, know that you certainly are not in it.

No Master can teach you meditation; all that you are learning from him is your own mind.

Meditation starts with acceptance and it flowers with transcendence even of itself. 

Why Holding the Sense of I-Am Exclusively is NOT the Most Effective Method

Why Holding the Sense of I-Am Exclusively is NOT the Most Effective Method


Holding the sense of I-Am is considered one of the most valid methods among traditional teachers. Those of us who have followed Self-Inquiry or Advaita teachings are well aware of the I-Am , especially after this method was advocated by the great Advaita Master Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

This method is popular and easy to understand. The technique can be summarized as follows:

You know that you exist — not as this or that, just simple existence — an existence without any reference to thoughts, names or forms. Now hold on to this feeling as your I-Amness. Keep coming back to this feeling and hold on to it at regular intervals. In time, with perseverance and dedication, the I AM will reveal itself and then, one day, it will finally disappear, leading you to your SELF.

This is a simple and profound truth. However, in practical situations it does not prove very effective nor productive for achieving the goal. In fact, the results from this practice, when used exclusively, are very inconsistent and can often leave a practitioner confused as to why they experienced a ‘drop’ in their state, or cannot feel their joyous being which they were able to feel a few days before.

The reason for this is due to the impurities collected at the gross, subtle, and subtlest levels at play within the I-Am feeling.

It is important to understand that the I-Am  feeling usually perceived by a practitioner is often a mixed feeling (awareness) of all the layers (koshas) at work within. These koshas have their energy, vibrations and codes which exert a ‘pull’ and influence over the Pure I-Am . Hence, when we abide in the sense of I-Am, what we are actually feeling and intuiting as our ‘existence’ is nothing but the totality of these koshas — and NOT the PureI-Am .

These five koshas, which act as coverings over the SELF, are the:


  1. Annamaya kosha – outer body feeling or sensation
  2. Pranamaya kosha – breath, the life-force that feeds and nurtures our actions, feeds our senses
  3. Manomaya kosha – mind, thoughts, emotions, memories
  4. Vijnanamaya kosha – intellect, discriminating faculty which decides what is right or wrong
  5. Anandamaya kosha –bliss sheath

These koshas are unreal, but still veil, conceal, and keep us from our real SELF.

In fact, the practitioner will find that each day of practice brings forth a ‘feeling’ from a particular kosha, and it is that kosha that is experienced instead of the Pure I-Am (Anandamaya Kosha).

So, some days, body sensations (Annamaya) will predominate the seeker’s awareness. On other days, energies coursing through the body (Pranamaya) will prevail. Yet other days, visions, intuitive ‘downloads’, or messages from higher Consciousness (Manomaya) will be more prevalent. And on some rare occasions, a torrential flow of Joy in the Heart (Anandamaya) will captivate the seeker’s awareness.

So the feeling of I-Am will vary. 

Sometimes the feeling of I-Am will be unstable, and progress will be inconsistent, depending upon the state of one’s mind. Often, when rare bliss (Anandamaya) is felt, it will quickly be disturbed by one of the four preceding koshas. This is because the practitioner has no awareness of how to control the workings of the preceding koshas. They have no awareness of the techniques available to control them quickly and effectively. This cycle will continue until a lot of effort, seeking, and ‘hunting of the I’ is done and enables one to finally transcend all the koshas and arrive at the final destination — the Spiritual Heart.

Yes, it is definitely possible for all koshas to roll back revealing the SELF exclusively through holding theI-Am method, but it is like walking into a dark room not knowing what lies ahead. It is a very slow, tiresome and inconsistent method. Most often a seeker will understandably feel dejected and demotivated when they realize that they have practically no control over how they will feel in their meditation. That is why ‘holding the sense of I-Am’ exclusively as one’s practice of Self-Inquiry will not work for 90% of seekers (unless they have been a very strong meditator in this or past lives).

The other problem with this method, apart from its inconsistency, is that one usually ‘peaks out’ relatively early and feels that they have ‘hit a wall’. There does not seem to be much headway or progress, and their state feels static. Nothing seems to be happening. They will feel much the same as they did a few years back.

Remember, the great Nisargadatta Maharaj himself had to persevere with this method continuously, like a man possessed, for three (3) years. But such perseverance is rare to find in a busy, worldly life. Hence we need to use other methods along with I-Am to be able to sustain the state for deeper and longer periods of time.

The reason is that there is no insight or importance given to purifying oneself. This is one of the biggest flaws of current non-dual teachings. They do not lay down spiritual principles or ethics aimed at an inner cleansing of the life-force (Prana) and nerves (nadis) dealing with habitual tendencies/projections/vasanas, and outer adherence of non-violence in thoughts, speech, deeds, etc.

No matter how many times you dip a white shirt into dirty water, it will never come out clean. It will remain dirty. Similarly, no matter how many times you bring the mind to yourI-Am, it will still remain the same — unless you clean your koshas too (the layers that make up the I-Am).

It is, probably, for this reason that Sri Ramana hinted that the Heart is the seat of Jnanam (knowledge) as well as of the granthi (knot of ignorance). The nadis (nerves) that connect the Heart to the brain, prana, and spine must be purified, otherwise they can easily mislead the practitioner away from the SELF and into a state of ignorance.

It can be seen that those who abide in, or hold to, the feeling of I-Am as their sole practice usually do so at their Heart centre. As a result, it is not uncommon to witness these practitioners as being impulsive, unstable, reactive and predominantly driven by heightened emotions, even though they occasionally feel a sense of peace and love emanating from their Heart. The ‘high’ they experience in their meditation is often replaced by a new ‘low’, or depressive ‘gloom’, within a few days.

The reason for this is that they have little control over the inner workings and influences generated by impure nadis. This reinforces the fact that purification is a must for stability and sustained abidance in Pure I-Am.

That is why the correct way to practice ‘holding the sense of I-Am’ is to do it either in combination with a practice where the breath, prana and mind are relatively stilled, and kept suspended through either breath control techniques (pranayama), or by using Sri Ramana’s method “Who Am I?”, in both the waking state and the sitting meditation (where the breath is automatically controlled).

Breath control is, relatively, an easier method to practice than Sri Ramana’s “Who Am I?”, where a subjective awareness of ‘I’ is often difficult to maintain and sustain. Hence, a fusion of both is needed for the best, most effective, and longest lasting results.

It was from this perspective that the Implosive Self-Inquiry Protocol™ (ISIP) was designed — wherein holding the sense of ‘I AM’ is also accompanied by simple, yet highly effective techniques for removing and filtering the impurities of the distracting layers of koshas within the I AM. This provides each seeker with an instant glimpse of the real I AM, and enables him or her to sustain deeper and more stable abidance in the SELF.

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