Monthly Archives: September 2007

Tantra’s model of existence

Excerpt from Tantra – The path of ecstasy

Related: Architecture of the world

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According to one prominent school, Kashmir’s Pratyabhijna, Tantra’s ontology (model of existence) comprises thirty six principles or categories (tattva). These evolve out of the ultimate Reality, or Parama-Shiva, who or which is called a metaprinciple (atattva). in descending order, these are as follows:

I. Universal Principles

  1. Shiva (the Benevolent) – the masculine or consciousness aspect of the ultimate bipolar Reality.
  2. Shakthi (Power) – the feminine or power aspect of the ultimate bipolar Reality, which polarizes Consciousness into “I” (aham) and this (idam) or subject and object, but without separating them dualistically.
  3. Sadakhya (That which is named Being [sat] or Sada Shiva (Ever Benevolent0 – the transcendental will (iccha)  that recognizes and affirms “I am this”, with the emphasis still on the subjective “I” rather than the objective “this” of the bipolar One.
  4. Ishavara (Lord) – the Creator, corresponding to the realization of “this I am”, subtly emphasiing the objective side of the One and thereby setting the stage for cosmic evolution.
  5. Sad – Vidya (Knowledge of Being) or Shuddha Vidya(Pure Knowledge) – the state of balance between the subjective and the objective, which are now clearly distinguishable within the One.

II. Limiting Principles

  1. Maya (She who measures0 – the power of delusion inherent in the ultimate Reality by which the One appears to be limited and measurable through the separation of subject and object, which marks the beginning of the impure order of existence.

The Five “COverings” (Kancuka) associated with Maya:

    7.   Kala (Part) – the principle by which the unlimited creatorship of Consciousness becomes limited causing limited effectiveness.

    8.  Vidya (Knowledge) – the principle by which the omniscience of Consciousness is curtailed, causing finite knowledge.

    9.  Raga (Attachment) – the principle by which the wholeness (purnatva) of Consciousness is reduced to temporal existence marked by past, present and the future.

    11.  Niyati (Necessity) – the principle by which the independece and pervasiveness of Consciousness is curtailed, bringing about limitation relative to cause, space and form.

III. Principles of Individuation

    12.  Purusha (Man) or Anu (Atom) – the conscious subject or Self, which experiences the objective reality.

    13.  Prakriti (Creatrix) – the fully objectified reality, or nature, which is particular to each conscious subject.

IV.  Principles of the “Inner Instrument” (Antahkarana)

    14.  Buddhi (Understanding) – the mental faculty of intelligence, which is characterized by the capacity for making distinctions.

    15.  Ahamkara (I- maker) – the principle of individuation by which a person appropriates experiences (“I am such and such,” or posess such and such’)

    16.  Manas (Mind) – the mental faculty that synthesizes the incoming sensory impressions into whole concepts and images.

V. Principles of Experience

The Five Powers of Cognition (Jnana-Indriya):

    17.  Ghrana (Smell) – the olfactory sense.

    18.  Rasa (Taste) – the gustatory sense.

    19.  Cakshus (Eye sight) – the visual sense

    20.  Sparsha (Touch) – the tactile sense.

    21.  Shravana (Hearing) – the auditory sense.

 The Five Powers of Conation (Karma-Indriya)

    22.  Vac (Speech) – the faculty of communication.

    23.  Hasta (Hand) – the faculty of manipulation.

    24.  Pada (Foot) – the faculty of locomotion.

    25.  Payu (Anus) – the digestive faculty.

    26.  Upastha (Genitals0 – the procreative faculty.

The Five Subtle Elemtns (Tanmatras)

    27.  Shabda-Tanmatra (Subtle Element of Sound) – the potential for auditory perception.

   28.  Sparsha – Tanmatra (Subtle Element of Touch) – the potential for tactile perception.

   29.  Rupa – Tanmatra (Subtle Element of Sight) – the potential for visual perception.

   30.  Rasa – Tanmatra (Subtle Element of Taste) – the potential for gustatory perception.

   31.  Gandha Tanmatra (Subtle Element of Smell) – the potential for olfactory perception.

VI. Principles of Materiality

   32.  Akasha-Bhuta (Element of Ether) – the principle of vacuity produced from the subtle element of sound.

   33. Vayu-Bhuta (Element of Air) – the principle of motility produced from the subtle element of touch.

   34.  Agni-Bhuta (Element of Fire) – the principle of formation produced from the subtle element of sight.

   35.  Apo-Bhuta (Element of Water) – the principle of liquidity produced from the subtle element of taste.

   36.  Prithvi-Bhuta (Element of Earth) – the principle of solidity produced from the subtle element of smell.

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The Elegant Universe – String theory

This is very much in conformance with the thoughts of ancient seers of India, that creation is crystallized sound – the Nada Brahman. I have been fascinated with this subject and hope to study it and blog about my understanding of it sometime.

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Architecture of the world

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(Excerpt from Tantra – The Path of Ecstasy)

According to the Puranic-Tantric picture of the world, our earth is at the center of a vast multidimensional and multilayered universe, which is known as the ‘brahmanic egg’ (brahmanda). Tradition speaks of countless such universe islands floating in the infinite cosmic ocean. The observable material earth is merely the coarsest and least spectacular aspect of the universe. The universe reveals its true splendor only to trained meditative vision. As the puranas and tantras describe it, the earth is really part of a vast circular plane called bhu-mandala with a diameter of 500 million yojanas (4 billion miles). This curiously corresponds with the size of our solar system if we consider Pluto’s mean distance from the sun which is approximately 3.6 million miles.

The bhu mandala  comprises seven concentric rings of land, or continents, which are separated from each other by equally concentric great oceans. The innermost island, or continent, is known as jambudvipa, which has a diameter of 100,000 yojanas (800,000 miles). It is named after the Jambu tree that grows on top of Mount Meru, or Sumeru, which is situated as the center of the continent and thus at the heart of the entire bhu-mandala.  Mount Meru, the cosmic mountain made of solid gold, is said to be 84,000 yojanas (672,000 miles) high. It is sometimes described as a cone that widens with increasing height. The Vedic seers and the visionaries of other traditions and cultures speak of this as the tree of life. The Jambu island is subdivided into nine regions (varsha), eight of which are semiheavenly realms, while the ninth is the heartland of bharata-varsha. This term is generally applied to India, but originally may have referred to the entire earth. However, because scriptures like the Bhagavata-Purana give bharata varsha’s north-south axis as being 9,000 yojanas (72,000 miles), it is clear that the earth enviosioned by the ancient authorities was considerably bigger than the earth that is perceptible by the five senses.

Below the enormous higher dimensional earth plane are the seven successive planes of the underworld, each of which is inhabited by various kinds of beings. Starting at the bottom, they are respectively known as patala, rasatala, mahatala, talatala, sutala, vitala and atala. Sometimes various hells (naraka) are said to be situated between the earth plane and patala.

Above the earth plane (also called bhur loka) are the six higher planes or realm, each of which has its own species of beings  – demigods and deities corresponding to the the hierarchies of angels recognized in the Middle Eastern religions. In ascending order these celestial relams are bhuvar loka, svarga loka, mahar loka, jana loka, tapo loka and satya loka. The highest plane, inhabited by the Creator (be he called Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva), is the only aspect of the brahmic egg that survives the periodic collapse (pralaya) of all the other planes for the satya loka serves as the seed for the next cosmic evolution. But even the Creator does not enjoy true immortality and forfeits his life after 42,200 kalpas, corresponding to 120 brahmic years. Since one kalpa (or brahmic daytime) is 4,32,000,000 human years long, Brahma’s lifespan translates into a staggering 453,248,000,000,000 human years. The present Brahma is said to be in his fifty-first year. His eventual death will coincide with the total destruction of he brahmic egg itself. This is the moment when our present universe will blink out of existence completely. For this reason, the spritual traditions of India al consider the attainment of satya loka as ultimately unattractive. In fact, all Indic teachings praise human life with its intensity of experience as a unique platform for escaping the cycle of birth, life, and death, which is found desirable even by the deities themselves.

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Tantra – The path of Ecstasy

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 I am currently reading Tantra – The path of ecstasy by Georg Feurstein. Georg is very well known as one of the best known researchers in Yoga and Indian spirituality. This book corrects many widespread misconceptions and shows Tantrism to be a complex and intriguing tradition that deserves deeper study.

The Tantric teachings are geared toward the enlightenment as well as spritual power and are present not only in Hinduism but also Jainism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Georg offers the readers a clear understanding of authentic Tantra, as well as appropriate guidance for spiritual practice and the attainment of higher consciousness. I will try blogging about the interesting portions of the book whenever possible, but if you get a chance to grab a copy of this book, its highly recommeded reading for all students of spirituality and yoga.

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Sahsra Gayatri Mantra Sadhan

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MissionRK

MissionRk is a group of individuals determined to help facilitate the advent of a new spiritual era by undertaking Gayatri Sadhana. The website is a treasure trove of information for any spiritual seeker. Dr.RamaKrishna who has a doctorate degree in chemistry is also a fluent orator. He has spent many years under the tutelage of Yuga Rishi Pandit Sri Rama Sharma Acharya and has been an active proponent of Gayatri Sadhana. If you happen to understand telugu, make it a point to listen to a few of his talks and you will be naturally attracted to at least make an attempt towards Gayatri mantra, such is the power of his words.

MissionRK is requesting people all over the world to undertake the task of doing Sahasra Gayatri (chanting Gayatri mantra 1000 times a day). Though this may seem a tall order, the benefits that are bestowed far outweigh the effort required.  If you are interested in taking part in this MahaSankalpa you can contact MissionRK. At the very least you can at least spread the word far and wide to your friends and acquaintances.

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Swami Satyananda on the Yantra

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Search in Secret India – Paul Brunton

This is the famous classic that has sold more than a quarter million copies. It is the story of this celebrated writer’s spiritual odysset, his journey up and down India to seek out and interview holy people. We meet such fascinating figures as Meher Baba – the silent messiah; Shri Shankara – the spiritual head of South India; Master Mahasaya; Sahabji Maharaj; Hazrat Babajan – a woman fakir; Vishudhananda – the magician and many others.

The reader will especially relish the account of how Paul Brunton met his own guru, Shri Ramana Maharshi, the sage of Arunachala. Because of this book, Ramana became well known within India and throughout the West. Today there are Ramanashrams all over the world. Students on any spiritual path will enjoy sharing this experience with Paul Brunton.

Another review by Shiva Bhaktha

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