Bindu

Resources of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition

Shakambhari Devi - The Bearer of Green

This is to continue the magazine that I have been preparing for you from time to time. The first part of this magazine cassette is a composition I wrote recently in Sanskrit. Now, as I have said earlier, languages are jealous and not really translatable. Nor can I convey to you the diction or the power of the words. (Part of the original is spoken.) Now I will give you the narrative. Nothing very profound this time, I'm afraid.

This requires some explanations beforehand about some allusions. For example, the tradition has it that the Vedas, the ancient scriptures are nothing but the breath of God. God breathed into the souls of this first manasa putras, his mental offspring, the rshis, the first prophetic sages who were born jivan mukta, born liberated, living liberated, therefore abandoning the bodies liberated. And we are all offspring of them. That all words are offspring of the archetypal word. All languages are children of the words revealed by God as His breath into the highly-realized souls. There is a vast linguistic theory of Sanskrit language and its tradition of philosophy into which I cannot go at this time. I am just giving a few allusions that occur in this composition.

Let me bring you to another allusion. There a word in Sanskrit, gau, from the verb-root gam 'to go.' The English word go is related this word gam. The word is go. It is a noun is Sanskrit. Its nominative singular form is gau, which means 'the earth'. It also means 'cow'. The English word cow is also derived from the Sanskrit word gau. From the same word comes the modern Hindi word gaia, which is more or less the same as Gaia, from the Greek, that has become the key word in the ecology movement. From the same gau comes geo, the Greek geo, [from which we get the word geometry] 'measuring the earth'. So that this idea of "constant movement of the earth, nothing static," "as a single organism," "ever-milk-giving cow," "the sacred earth" is all related, all connected. Take all these words and see their meaning as a single unitary whole.

The ancient stories in the texts called the Puranas, which are half a million verses of such narratives, those stories tell us of times when the earth has become overburdened by the proliferating human population and the profligate behavior of all human beings, and then She goes and seeks refuge at the feet of Lord the Preserver. Demonic forces haunting the earth are countered by devas, the divine beings, the divine forces, who give battle and defeat the demonic forces. There are innumerable such episodes in the Puranas. Quite often the human warriors also, seeking power to do battle against the forces of evil, withdraw into forests, into the mountains for a year or two or for many, many years of tapas, ascetic endeavor, so that the divine powers would manifest themselves and grant them unfailing weapons. Now this sounds like a warlike scene, but let us look into it a little closer.

For example, many years before the War of the Mahabharata, with which I am sure your are familiar from the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna took to a year of asceticism and celibacy and strong concentration, meditation, contemplation. Then the Lord Shiva appeared and granted him a weapon. Now these weapons used in the Mahabharata War were of a very peculiar quality. If you have seen the movie Dune, you might understand what I am talking about. If you have not seen it, do see it, because there is a very strong Sufi background there. And from that Sufi background, they have taking the idea of sound as a weapon. Sounds wielded as weapons.

Now up to the time the Mahabharata War, this was very common scientific knowledge. So that when we read in the description of the Mahabharata War the wielding of the, let us say, agneya-astra, igneous missile, whereby a single missile created a fire-havoc. And then to counter it, the varuna-astra, the aqueous missile, was used. All of these missiles were impelled by the power of particular sounds, certain particular weapon-mantras. It is said that there was so much destruction in the Mahabharata War that in 5092 years since then, humanity has not yet recovered. With the power of such weapons, four million soldiers were killed in eighteen days, and civilization was devastated. And from that time on, though the mantras behind these strange forces are still known, they are written in texts, though the exact ways of using them was concealed for the duration of Kali Yuga, the current Dark Ages. And then from then on, the policy has been enforced strictly among the tradition that no science should be taught to anyone who has any negative or destructive personality traits. That is why so many of the traditional sciences of India have become lost. And it is preferable that they be lost rather then they be given to those who would wield them irresponsibly.

The third allusion is based on the Upanishadic passage. The sound of OM is the bow. The self is the arrow. Brahman, the Supreme Transcendental Being is the target. Shoot the self from bow of the enunciation of OM that becomes one with the target.

The entire composition reiterates the theme that there is a very strong subtle, what may seem to many listeners a mystical connection between the collective temperament of human beings and what happens to the world around them. That is to say, for example, that when the governments are unjust, the rivers dry, the rains do not come on time, the grains do not grow, that the trees wither, that the bees cease to hum, that the floods and the earthquakes devastate the earth. We find that in the Purana stories, as soon as a rightful, virtuous king has been reinstated, immediately all the ecological damage, for some reason unknown to us but well-known to the divine, celestial forces that run the universe, that damage is undone and everything begins to flow in harmony, and the earth turns green. But don't blame the king. Don't blame the governments. It is to do with the collective temperament of all human beings. Unless the mental ecology of human beings is sound, there is no possibility that this earth could be saved.

There is an allusion to Devi, the Divine Mother, Shakambhari. There is a text in praise of the Great Mother, seven hundred verses that laud, praise Her, that is recited daily by some of us, including myself. And in there, there is a prophesy by the Great Mother that runs as follows:


When for hundreds of years there will be no rain,
and the earth will become without water,
and the great contemplative beings shall sing praises of me, seeking me,
I will be born without human parentage and with hundreds of eyes.
I shall look kindly upon these contemplative sages,
and then I shall cover the entire earth with greens born of my own being,
and I shall nourish the sages with this green,
sustaining the prana of all beings,
and thereby I shall be known as Shakambhari,
the Bearer of the Greens.

I believe that the name and form of Shakambhari Devi should be the logo of the International Ecology movement. I have made reference to that in this composition. The Composition is not much in English, and I cannot convey the exact force of what it is in Sanskrit, but listen on. It is not a translation, only a very weak paraphrase and a summary.

Here I forget to give you one allusion that comes right in the beginning. There is a word here, Prajapati, which means the Progenitor. The great Creator, Brahma, first produced the Prajapatis, the Progenitors, the great grandfathers of the Earth, the Great grandfathers of the human race. Here I have used that word in association with words, rather than beings, so that the first revealed Words I have called as Shabda Prajapatis.

In the beginning before time, the Spirit of All, the Great Brahman, breathed the Word Progenitors, which the Rshis, the realized prophetic sages who were born liberated, saw within their own spiritual selves. These Words, having become articulate, then become the vehicle of communication whereby human beings expressed their thoughts and sentiments to each other. The Words got introduced to each other in Sentence-Streets. And wandering about in the Sentence-Streets, they met each other, and because like attracts like, they became attracted to each other. They because associated with each other, and a certain affection arose among them. The affection became a passion, a momentum of lust whereby they united, joined, and proliferated, multiplied.

These later proliferated Words forgot their divine origin in the Spirit of the Universe and filled with noises they surrounded and filled the entire Earth. [The word I have used here is the same word go, gam, gau, gaia, cow.] With the Cosmic Poison of Quarrels, with the Cosmic Poison of Noise, with the Venom of Cacophonies, these egotistical, corrupt Words became divided into many tribes, became entire nations, a burden on the Great Divine Lady, Mother Earth, pouring Poison into human ears. Therefore human beings could no longer express their love-filled thoughts and sentiments to each other. And these human beings who were originally the children of Jivan Mukas, of those born liberated, now were reaching as though jivan mrityu, a living death. The Decibel Devils, together with their wives the Cacophonies, together with their sons, named Licentiousness, daughters called Twisted Laughter and Papagiti (Disharmony of Music). Thereby, by their very presence they began to dry up the streams, rivers, lakes, turning all things green into copper-color, causing confusion of directions among the Winds. Even while the Clouds wandered in the Sky, these Decibel Demons drank up their Waters so that none poured downward. Not only they, they kidnapped the Clouds' Lightning Wives and absorbed them as energies to strengthen themselves. The entire world of living beings cried out, "Save! Help! Oh, from where has this misfortune befallen us as though the very conflagration to end the Earth. Such is our grief. These Decibel Devils, by their twisted power, uproot the trees, and they fill the cities, the countryside, the forests, the parks, the mountains, with fires that turn everything to ashes."

But there were among the living beings some Compassionate Ones whose pranas were synonymous with compassion, whose hearts melted with mercy. These Distinguished Contemplative Sages resorted to the Caves of the Himalayas and hid themselves. They hid themselves to perform ascetic devotion to Devi, the Great Mother, who is the very Sun of Great Fortune shining upon the Earth, seeking the right weapons to counter and defeat the Decibel Devils.

After an aeon, She was pleased with their tapas, and granted them three boons. The first boon she granted them was the Dhyan-Dhanush, the Meditation Bows, with ever-unfutile, ever-unfailing Arrows of Silence, sharpened upon the ascetic disciplines. The second boon was the siddhi [accomplishment] to shoot at the target without fail by impelling the Arrows through the Power of the Enunciation of OM. And She gave them the Armor of the Contemplation of the Great Sentences of Vedanta.

Thus well-prepared, the Contemplative Munis, emerging from the Caves of the Himalayas, went out for expeditions in all Four Directions of the Earth, and conquered the multitudes of the Devils that are the Corrupt Words, and banished them into the Seven Holes in the World of Palata, the World below the Muladhara Chakra. And thereby sanctified the Earth again and filled Her with the power of Merit and Virtue.

From that moment they rediscovered, realized within the Light of their Pure Souls the very Original Words that had been revealed as the Shabda Prajapatis, the World Progenitors. But now they articulate very seldom. When they speak, they have taught now their future offspring to speak with great care only the words that are beneficial, measured, pleasant. Otherwise, emphatically holding the vow that Silence is the true ornament of the mind, therefore they mostly communicate by the Vibrations of the Mind. Now the Cosmic Celestial Poison of Sound [cacophonic sound (kolahala) + celestial poison (kalakuta) = kolahala-kalakutam), which formerly entered by way of the ear into all the organs of the free-flying birds and diving residents of the ocean, no longers prevails, no longer poisons the internal organs and the minds of the living beings, no longer leads them towards their own destruction.

It is when such Silence prevails that the communication is from mind to mind, like the main strings of a stringed instrument that once touched produce the same sound in sympathetic strings. So the communication in minds occurs without words. And this then becomes the expression of truly silent affection. These Contemplative Beings are now living in freedom, seeing their own selves in the form of all selves and listening to the Light that is the subtle Sound of the Soul. And Shantih, the Peace with the Queen of the Universe now reigns supreme, again because the beings have found the right therapy, which is a pacified, saintly mind. And the Earth is filled with the smile of such saintly minds. And what the Great Lady of the Universe, Shakambhari Devi, had promised in silence, came to be true. For the World that had become copper-colored now was turned green by Her gracious compassion. This we have been told by the Balladeers of Silence, those who orally pass on the history of the phenomenon of Silence. We were told this in our minds, and into your minds we pass on this narrative.

Those who with the Cool Waters of the Peace of Silence annulled the Fire of the Celestial Poison of Decibels and of Cacophonies, unto those Great Minds we offer our homage. Namah. With joined hands. With bowed heads. Namah to the Bow that is Meditation. Namah to the Arrow that is Silence. Namah to that siddhi that makes us shoot right to the target. Namah to the Vibration of the Mind. They whose Silence is the All-Sheltering Banyan Tree that grants us the Shade of Wisdom. They who have kindled the Sacrificial Fire of Silence within. Unto those Gurus we say Namah, but only in our Silent Mind. OM.

(Sanskrit)

Continuing the conversation on ecology, right now as you might be reading or hearing in India, a country of 860 million people, is in a mad rush to develop. Places that were green have become copper. There are some sane voices to be respected, but the modern pseudo-scientific elite, the vested interests, they don't want to hear. The two great sacred rivers of India, the holy river Ganges, Mother Ganga, and the holy river Narmada, from Central India down, both are threatened by the construction of massive dams. We are told that the dam in the Himalayas on the River Ganges, oh, it will provide how many millions of kilowatts of electricity to the capital city of Delhi. We will not have black-outs. That would be one of the tallest, or perhaps the tallest dam, in the world, or some such figure. And there are holy, saintly people, who are leading the grassroots movements. Baba Amte, an old man lying there. The dam waters are likely to fill the places. The villagers refuse to budge from the way of the flood that will come. They say, "We shall not vacate. Let the dam drown us." These are movements based on absolute and total non-violence, persecuted by politicians. It doesn't matter which political party comes into power. And in the Himalayas a man named Bahuguna recently went on a 45-day fast to force the government to suspend the construction and re-examine the whole plan, because there are alternatives to this mad rush. I read to you excerpts from a newspaper in India from April 12, 1992:

The strains of Ganga-stuti (Hymn to Ganga] coalesce with the evening calm. You make way passed the dust-spewing bulldozers and trucks to the tent where Sundarlalji Bahaguna sits as if in a trance. He looks much like the 'half-naked fakir' who inspires him and his cheerful young niece by his side adds to this image. [That is the image of Gandhi.] The debt to Gandhi is explicit: "It was Gandhiji who gave me courage. My first fast for the public cause was in August 1948 when I was prevented by state authorities to enter this very town where the dam is being built. It was one week long, and I won. This current fast is the sixth, and the going is tougher. But I am ready to surrender myself to the Almighty's wishes," he writes, much to the consternation of his fellow environmentalists who would much rather that he beat a temporary retreat and allow them to take over the struggle. Next to Bahuguna's tent a community meal awaits you, and anyone who come, eats.

The leader's wife and comrade-in-arms, Vimala, is busy ladling out the delicious meal of rice and dahl and chappatis, which she has cooked, ably assisted by Sudesha Ben, an associate from the CHIPKO movement. [CHIPKO is the movement of clinging to the trees when the contractors and loggers come.] The meal over, the congregation moves back to the main tent where the figure of the fasting leader provokes pangs of guilt, because we have eaten. Conversation is conducted in whispers so as not to disturb the meditating Sundarlalji. "How does he keep himself going?" you ask one of his long-time associates. The leader answers your inquiry. "Today the surgeon came to see me. Doctors are amazed to see my normal blood pressure and pulse rate. I told them that they have no instrument to measure the energy input I get from prayer, devotional songs, and Silence." He has a prescription to offer medical men. "Include yoga and naturopathy in your science, for that is the secret of spiritual power and happiness." Add to this his current diet of water with a small . . . , suggested by Swami Chidananda of the Shivananda Ashram in Rishikesh. "Natural electrolytes," explains Dr. Mitrashiva of the Voluntary Health Association of India. All have admiration for Sundarlalji's endurance. "Hunger, however, does not keep the Satyagrahi [Grasper of Truth, Believer in Firmness in Truth] awake," assures his associate. Five a.m. finds the group doing a morning perambulation through the town, singing bhajans while Sundarlalji meditates in his tent. On alternate days he undergoes a fomentation and massage in true Naturopathy style. Silence descends upon the site for half and hour every morning as all members observe a mauna-vrata [vow of silence], after which the congregation chants the Vishnu-sahastra-nama [the Thousand Names of Lord-the-Preserver], and then the members go about their daily tasks. At four p.m. they meet again to recite the Gita.

I shall not try to read the entire excerpt. He did manage to force the Prime Minister of India to suspend the construction for the time being. The reason I am reading this to you is not to talk to you about problems in India. There is no more division of nations in the world. Fire and wind do not carry passports. The ozone layer has no citizenship. But my point here is the method. The method for what? Not method for saving the ecology of the earth. First there has to be this individual preparation, this ability to Silence, this ability to fast for forty-five days and carry on the daily tasks — giving press interviews and meditating. There has to be something in the personality. You have to be a spiritual person to lead a spiritual movement, to succeed. The force has to come from within, and you have to know that this force is not definable in political terms in forms of organizational constitutions or exterior methods that one adopts.

I always say, and I repeat here, that Gandhi was not fighting for the independence of India. He was only perfecting himself. When you work on purifying yourself, the purity overflows the bounds of your personality because the natural definition of self-purification is that it overflows and it inundates all in your surroundings, and your Silence cools the world. There has to be sufficient Silence in you. If you continue to blame those who are in your surroundings or were, for your present condition in your individual life or personal life, then also in the collective life of the planet you will do the same.

Remember that Love is first; the beloved is found after. I have let you sit silent on that sentence. Joy is first; it meets the exterior stimuli much after. Love, Joy, Consciousness, God are synonymous. Seek the contents, the meanings of any one of these words, and the rest come along, being the same. Love is not a feeling; it is a palpable force. Joy is not a state of experiencing a temporary sentiment; it is a force, a palpable force that fills you up from inside. If you do not know how to let it fill you up from inside, all the exterior alambanas [supports] that you hang onto for love and joy are going to crumble to dust one after another. They will vanish because you banish them from your life. It is through celibacy, through intensifying the prana-force, through Silence, through meditation, that you will discover within yourself the Source of Love, the Source of Joy. In the ancient texts on the philosophy of bhakti [devotion] it is said Love is God. The name of Prema (Love). Elsewhere in the Upanishadic texts we are told, "Joy is God (Anandam Brahman). Love is God. Joy is God. Love is Joy.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm making sense. I'd like to refer you a lecture I gave some years back in Minneapolis. I believe it is under the title of "Sentiment Without and Object." And then there is another one titled "Emotions You Have Not Experienced Enough." I'd like you to listen to those two with reference to what I am saying here. Sentiments, states of mind, are not created by exterior forces. Within you is a Reservoir. Within you are the Winds that blow in the surface of that Reservoir. Only if you could look there, not in the mud and mire of the unconscious associations, but a vast, pure Sky, which is the same as the depths of this Lake of Peace and Silence within you.

I have in two recent cassettes read out two different excerpts from two different versions of the Ramayana epic in which I have spoken of God's dwelling place. In India many times you come across names like that, Ramnivas, meaning 'the Lord's Dwelling Place.' I wish you to become a Ramnivas, the Lord's Dwelling Place.

I close with the paraphrase of another recent Sanskrit composition of mine:

He Who is the emperor of uncountable suns,
the very ground of consciousness
in Whom the entire universe is a single solar person,
and to Whom all the subjects (the suns) sing homage,
unto Him my prostrations, my homage — Namah.

He Whose breath is the words of inspiration.
He Whose silence is the kumbaka pranayama
[the pranayama of retention].
He Who holds the pranas for the length of an entire kalpa
[the entire cycle of creation and dissolution].
To Him, again and again, my homage — Namah.

The subtle, minute deities within the particles
within the interiors of atoms
sing hymns which are the vibrations of those particles.
He to Whom these minute deities sing their laudations,
to Him, again and again, my homage — Namah — Namah.

He sits on a vast altar.
He is the altar.
He is the vast halls of spaces,
He before Whose altars the expansive gods
dance their dances of homage
in the vast halls of unfathomable spaces
in the matins and vespers
of the mornings of creation
and the evenings of dissolutions
Using entire Earths as drums to keep the beat,
the rays of the suns,
from one starry knob to the other,
serving as strings for the instruments.
The songs are the songs that are sung
within the pathways of sushumna.
He to Whom these expansive gods sing their music
and dance on the Earth drums
To that One, the minutest,
the most expansive,
the Lord of the Celestial Regions
that includes our Earth, my homage — Namah.

The beginnings and the ends of aeons are the two banks
within which the Rivers of Laughter flow,
showing their teeth, the stars.
He Who is the origin of these sky rivers,
these Ganges of the Skies,
He Who is also their goal,
the ocean of these ever-flowing rivers,
To that One, Who is the ocean of the ever-blossoming flames of light,
Unto Him — Namah — my homage.

I sit by the banks of the frolicking space rivers
And observe His laughter in their breasts, the stars.
May that laughter dwell within me.
May all those space rivers flow within my sushumna.
And may that very flow be my homage to Him, my Namah.
From beginning of the aeons to the ends of aeons
as I flow as a river between these two banks of time,
I sing, ever sing, His Name,
and that Name itself is the homage,
the Word of homage, 'Not Mine' — Namah — Namah.