Siddhars and the knots in Mahabharata

Ganesha, the Deva of the intellect, agreed to scribe the Mahabharata for Vyasa under one condition. Vyasa had to dictate at the speed of Ganesha's writing. Vyasa too got a promise from Ganesha. Ganesha would not write a single line without understanding it. Vyasa dictated the Mahabharata to Ganesha in chunks of a few hundred verses. He inserted a "knot" or a difficult to understand line at the end of each chunk. This made Ganesha pause and think. Vyasa could thus mentally work on the next chunk. Anyone with a knowledge about Mahabharatha has heard about the existence of "knots" in the text.

I recently came across an illustration of a knot while listening to an Upanyasa, or the traditional style of narrating. This knot is a sensible looking sentence, It reads गङ्गा जलं केशव नारि केतु (Ganga jalam Keshava naari ketu).  Every word in the sentence is meaningful. The sentence makes no sense despite the sentence being syntactically correct. The word boundaries have to be changed to understand the meaning of the line. This knott definitely forces a reader to pause. 

SIddhars who wrote their works in the Tamil language have borrowed this idea of a knot in plenty. One finds very few sentences in their texts without a knot, The first task of a tranlator is to locate meaningful word boundaries. The next task is to locate words which Siddhars consider to be technical terms. Such words normally convey a certain meaning but a different meaning in Siddhar texts. Siddhar texts talk about pharmocological preparations, ideas related to sorcery and descriptions of spiritual techniques. Certain words take a contextual meaning based on the domain of knowledge. Siddhar Agasthiyar created a text just to supplies hints about idiosyncrasies in Siddhar texts.  It was fun to discover a few idiosyncrasaies while translating Agasthiyars text. I recently published a translation of the Tattuvum 300 text, from Tamil to English. 

Zebra Finch and Vena the Gandharva

A different kind of space permeates the manifest space per Vedas. Scientists convey the same idea in a slightly different manner. The world is made up of atoms. There are subatomic particles below the level of atoms. Subatomic particles such as electrons can also behave like waves. Familiar laws of physics do not apply at the quantum level which is the plane in which electrons exhibit their wave nature. Coversely, atoms shield out the bizzare behaviours observed by scientists at the quantum plane. Scientists are however beginning to understand the fact that the qualtum field may be influencing activities in the manifest space. The following is a great example.

Scientists have been studying the biology of the migrating zebra finch which uses the magnetic field of the Earth for its annual journeys. Scientists know with certainty that the magnetic field of the Earth can not directly influence the biological system in living beings. Weak magnetic fields can only influence processes at the plane of quantum mechanics. Scientists therefore searched for an evidence of quantum coherence within a biological molecule. Peter Hore of the University of Oxford and his colleagues recently isolated a cryptochrome from the retina of the zebra finch. They claim that light or photon triggers long lived quantum coherence within this molecule.

The vedas talk about a different kind of space from which the manifest space has originated. Cosmologists also say that manifest space arose as a tiny bubble in a uniform field of quantum energy. The Yajur Veda says that a famous Gandharva being with the name Vēna contemplated on the nature of existence and concluded that this other kind of space is interwoven  (ōtah) with the space of matter. This space is inlaid (prōta) in the space of matter. We have a scientific confirmation that two planes of existence, one quantum and other atomic do interact, at least in the case of the migratory ability of the zebra finch.

Genetics and the Story of a Black Tailed Snow White Horse

The last common ancestors of Snakes and Birds is a species called Diapsida. Snakes are the earliest surviving descendents and birds the latest per phylogeny. The Puranas refer to Rishi Kashyapa as the common origin of all species. One story from the Puranas talk about the rivalry between the sisters Vinata and Kadru who married Kashyapa. Kadru as the mother of Naagas was envious of Vinata, the mother Garuda, the king of birds. Annual festivals in Hindusim borrow from stories to highlight certain aspect of human nature and of principles in creation.

The annual festival of Naag Panchami or Garuda Panchami borrows from the story of Kadru and Vinata. It is celebrated on the fifth day after the new moon in late July and early August. Kadru challenged Vinata that the color of the tail of the snow white colored celestial horse is black. One of the Naaga sons of Kadru wrapped his black body around the tail of the celestial horse right when Vinata and Kadru sought to verify who was right. Vinata had to become the servant of Kadru. Garuda won back the freedom for his mother by bringing Amrita, the nectar of deathlessness to Kadru.

Naagas open the door to secret knowledge and are the gaurdians of treasure per the above story. Naagas, by their nature, are related to administering medicine. Matters of of surgery, and rebirth are also attributed to them. There is fullness associated with the fifth day after a new moon. Naag Panchami is assigned to the monsoon season because Naagas are also associated with rivers and other water bodies. It is a special day to gain the blessings of Naagas. The creation consists of pairs of opposites like Garuda and Naaga. The Rishis emphasized the idea that every species in creation carries a certain benevolent vibration. This idea encouraged everyone in society to revere everything in nature.

Inside and Outside - in the case of a Tree

The idea of inside and outside is clear in case of human beings. A tree may not agree with this idea of the inside and outside. Scientists call a cylinrical layer of cells which is inside the bark of a tree to be its "Vascular Cambium". Scientists have recently identified this layer to be no wider than the tip of a needle. These cells are like the human stem-cell. Some of them turn into tree bark cells. Others turn into xylem or the real wood cells. A tree is valuable as a building material because of the xylem cells.

There is "thin" intelligence inside a tree. This decides if an inidvidual cell will grow inward (xylem side) or outward (bark side). The trunk and branches of a tree widen as the tree begins to grow. The cylinder of intelligence keeps widening. Ancient seers said that living entities are a combination of matter and intelligence.

The creative force in a forest can be pictured as hundreds of thousands of cylinders. The earth awakens this force in every germinating seed. Then it supplies the atoms to manifest a tree from the seed. The energy from the Sun plays a big role in the process. The phrase "mother Earth and Father Sun" gains more meaning in the context of what scientists call as the Vascular Cambium. 

Albert Einstein in an Alien Planet

Native americans populated Americas when Columbus landed there. History books say that Columbus discovered the Americas. Most people today recognize the fallacy of this statement. The statement is contextually correct from the viewpoint of medieval Europeans. Let us consider another statement such as Albert Einstein disccovered the theory of relativity. This too is contextually limited. It is possible that an alien being will discover this theory in an exo-planet somewhere else in our galaxy in the future.

Ancient scholars in India used the term "Apaurusheya" to indicate knowlege which can not be attributed to the intellect of a specific human being. A poem or a story originates from the intellect of an author. A solution to everyday problems originate from the intellect. On the otherhand, a universally valid principle such as  E = mcsimply reflects through the intellect. It is "apaurusheya" kind of knowledge.

Vedas contain knowledge of the subtle. Rishis were expert meditators. Apaurusheya knowledge reflected in their mindspace. A deeper study of mantras suggests that a big chunk of them are references to universal principles. Expert commentators have emphasized the fact in the past that the references to Vishnu, Shiva Indra and the others in the Vedas are Tattvas or universal principles.

The confusion about Vedas being "apaurusheya" arises from the fact that some mantras contain references to historical (puranas) facts, and some are hints about ritual procedures. Expert commentators in the past could distinguish among these different kinds of mantras. The commentaries of native scholars point to the mantras which refer to universal principles. There appear to be parallels for such mantras in modern science. I have illustrated a few examples in my two books.

Three Bodies of a Guru

There is a custom in India of honorning the lineage of Gurus. This custom is prevalent in all different traditions. They all make a special mention of a triad of Gurus which consists of the presenty embodied Guru, and the immediate two preceptors. A similar triad is mentioned in the middle of the lineage and another triad at the hoary beginnings of the lineage. For example, Shankaracharya, his Guru Govindapada and his Guru Gowdapada form the mid point triad in some lineages. Narayana, Brahma and Vasishta form the trite triad in these same lineages.

The famous Guru Gita text mentions the triad of Gurus with the phrase "Srinaathadi Gurur trayam". Sri Sri Ravishankar referred to this phrase during the recent Gurupurnima celebrations in San Mateo, California. He explained the nature of the three bodies of a Guru. A Guru has a physical body, a subtle body and a causal body. Human beings have a subtle body which consists of the internal faculties such as mind and intellect. The subtle body of the Guru is more expansive and is pure. The Guru principle is the internal guide which upholds the wisdom in all human beings. A Guru recognizes the yearnings of his followers through the medium of the subtle body. A spiritual practitioner purifies and expands his or her subtle body through Yoga, meditation, mantras and other practices.

A few thousand people attended the Gurupurnima celebrations with Sri Sri Ravishankar in San Mateo last week. The hall was filled with music and silence. The space in the hall became the subtle body of the Guru. Everyone left that sapce with more enthusiasm, determination and joy.

Parvati becomes a Student from being a Spouse

In the ancient text on meditation called the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Parvati asks her spouse Shiva, the eternal meditator, to teach her techniques to meditate. She tells him that she knows of energy, of Chakras, of Naadis and the intricate subtleties of the univers. She admits to Shiva that she still feels incomplete. Shive then assumes the role of the teacher and Parvati that of the student. Shiva teaches her 112 techniques which are related to Bhairava consciousness. These are all unique meditation techniques.

There is a strange tradition in the Shiva temple in Thiruvanaikal in South India. The wedding ceremony which is customay in other Shiva temples between Shiva and Parvati is absent from the list of rituals in this temple. The priest who worships at the altar of Parvati instead dons the Saree wrapped around the Murty of Devi and offers worship at the altar of Shiva. This act signifies Parvati taking on the role of the Shishya, the student, to offer worship to Shiva, her Guru. In this temple Parvati stays as the student instead of the spouse of Shiva.

It is amazing how the founders of ancient temples kept higher knowledge alive in the form of rituals. Those who know about the existence of the Vigyan Bhairav text immediately recognize the significance behind the strange customs at the Thiruvanaikal temple. Those who understand what happens to the mind during meditation can similarly know the story of the conversation between Shiva and Parvati in the text Vigyan Bhairav to be parody. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar decodes the symbolisms in the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra texts in his sessions on "Unveiling Infinity".