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October 2008

High on Waves

The Essence of Durga Saptashati
Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Manifestation of Mandalas
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Satsang at Rikhiapeeth
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Invoking the Force
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The Shield of Athena
Swami Sivamurti Saraswati

Women and Ayurvedic Plants
Swami Vibhooti Saraswati

The Radha Principle
Swami Sivananda Saraswati

A Momentous Event Fifty Years Ago
Swami Dharmashakti Saraswati



Invoking the Force

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

How can we use the Sri Yantra in our sadhana?

First of all we have to know what the Sri Yantra is and its relevance to human development and growth. According to the spiritual concepts in India, the mind and the consciousness are guided by certain archetypes. The behaviour of the consciousness is decided by the impressions that are latent and inherent in the consciousness. This notion of consciousness is different from the theories in modern psychology, where consciousness is divided as conscious, subconscious and unconscious faculties.

From the yogic perspective, consciousness is a continuous evolutionary process in which we become more and more aware of our internal spiritual nature. As we go deeper into the consciousness, the language and the understanding of the consciousness changes. At one level we use words to communicate, convey an idea or thought. At a deeper level thoughts become powerful and are conveyed directly. At a certain stage of sadhana, the aspirant can receive as well as transmit thoughts. At an even deeper level, words which are a creation of the intellect cease to have any meaning and one connects with the inherent archetypes. These are the conditionings of the consciousness and are called samskara in yogic terminology. However, even here there is a progression and development, a sequential movement.

The archetypes are not language, thoughts or ideas. They are impressions. In the spiritual dimension, words do not exist because words are creations of the intellect. Thoughts do not exist because thoughts are creations of the mind. So how do we discover or express an internal experience? Through symbols. And these symbols are known as yantras and mandalas in yoga. There are different stages or grades of yantras. The Sri Yantra is the most important yantra in the entire collection of mantras and yantras.

The Sri Yantra is the symbol of cosmic energy, the cosmic mother. She has been given many names, but traditionally she is called Mahamaya. Maha means great, maya means the power of illusion. We do not perceive this power of illusion through our eyes. It represents the identification of the spirit with the material dimension. That is the actual meaning of maya: identification with something which is not real. For example, you have a nightmare that somebody is chasing you with a knife to kill you and you are running. While you are in the dream, the dream is real. You feel the fear, you know that you are running. You know that you are living an experience in the dream. Then suddenly you wake up and heave a sigh of relief that it was a dream. When you are awake, the intensity of the dream does not affect you, but when you are sleeping, in a state of dormancy, the dream has an influence on your personality, mind and nature. So which is real? While we are dreaming the dream world is real and when we are awake, the visible world is real. And when we go into deep sleep where we do not experience anything, no body, no time, no space, even that is real. We cannot negate that. We may have been sleeping for eight hours without being aware that we were sleeping when we experience deep sleep.

In the waking state we are subject to time, space and object. In the dreaming state we are under the influence of time and space, not the object. In deep sleep even time does not exist, we are contained only in space. And beyond time, space and object lies the realm of the spirit. This spiritual dimension is symbolized through yantras and mandalas. This is the dimension of Mahamaya. It is because of that force that we identify with the outer world and are able to experience pain, suffering, happiness and joy as real. However, when we transcend that experience, pain and pleasure, happiness and discontentment do not exist. We identify with the spiritual reality and not the material reality. That spiritual reality is Mahamaya. The cosmic power which controls and governs the illusion is Mahamaya.

Sri Yantra is the symbol of Mahamaya. It has been experienced by many and also stated in the scriptures that when we wear a yantra, when we wear the symbol of any cosmic force, it acts like a magnet to attract that cosmic energy. So when we concentrate or practise meditation on Sri Yantra or any other yantra, we are using that as a tool to focus the cosmic energy within us. Just as a satellite identifies a building and then directs a missile to that building, in the same manner when we wear a yantra, it creates a force field around us. We cannot see it through the naked eye, but the force field exists and attracts the greater force to itself. When we concentrate on a yantra, we are focusing the cosmic energy within us. When we wear a yantra, we are directing the cosmic energy pervading the universe to that point of the yantra on us.

In the higher states of meditation Sri Yantra is used to access the deeper realms of the consciousness. However, yantra meditation is not for those who are still struggling to manage their conscious level, who are trying to find a balance in their mental vrittis. So, even if you use the yantra, use it only for trataka – use it as a symbol on which you focus your senses and the mind. However, as the sadhana continues, as the journey continues, the visual and sensorial focus ceases to play any role in the life of the aspirant. This happens when we are able to manage the vrittis of the conscious, the sub-conscious and the unconscious mind. And that is when the yantra comes alive within us, we enter into that dimension. So the actual sadhana of the yantra is higher yoga, but initially people can use the image of the yantra to focus the sensorial, visual and mental perceptions and to reach a state of concentration. Once this power focuses on us, all that is auspicious, good and benevolent will come to us. It will be a force that protects us from negativity and distresses of life.

—Ganga Darshan, 17 August, 2007

What is the role of women in society?

I don’t see women and men as black and white factors of society. Such divisions are social and political. Wherever human resources have to be harnessed, both men and women have to come forward together. We should talk about developing and harnessing human resources rather than entering into discussions about roles of men and women. Politics and society will continue to affect and alter our lives, but what are the commitments and responsibilities that each one of us can take upon ourselves as human beings? That indicates empowerment of the human civilization, where each individual is a master of their own life, society and destiny.

As human beings, there is no difference between male and female, and yoga aspires to harness the human potential rather than defining what men or women should do in society or civilization. Whenever a need has emerged, society has given full opportunities to both sexes. It was our social, cultural and religious environment in the past that created certain attitudes and mentalities. However, when those attitudes and mentalities went against the social environment, they were changed.

Take the example of Europe before the First World War. At that time, women were looked down upon in Europe. They only had household duties: look after the pigs, the cattle, bring water, raise children, cook food, maintain the house. There could be exceptions, but we are talking of the general social environment. Then came the First World War in which thousands of able-bodied young men died. Close to the heels of the First World War came the Second World War. Now there was a gaping hole. Who was going to run the factories and manage the hospitals? So the women folk came out, they were given equal opportunity. As a result of that, in many countries of the world today, women are empowered to do many things which even one generation ago was inconceivable. That is how social need brings about a change. If the same thing had happened here, women would have come up here also.

Empowerment of the sexes, rights and amendments are dependent on social and political issues. However, whether or not they exist, we have to think of ourselves as individuals with potential, strengths and qualities, irrespective of being male or female. Rather than seeing ourselves as part of a political and social environment, we should see ourselves as part of the human civilization and rediscover what our contribution to the development of human civilization can be.

Women certainly have a big role to play in the development of human civilization. A woman is considered the first guru, as the education received from the mother can change the samskaras and karmas of a person, while education received from a guru can change the mind, emotions and performance ability. The education that we receive from the mother can create better habits and mentality, and a better life. The guru teaches management of mind and emotions, and the ability to perform.

Gurus and women can both work as very powerful forces to bring about a dramatic, qualitative change in human society. Therefore don’t worry about your role in terms of gender; think about your role as a human being to uplift others, and you will get the answer.

—Ganga Darshan, 16 December, 2002

It is said that divine avatars obey the will of Paramatma. Who or what is Paramatma and how does it relate to the Divine Mother?

In the transcendental state of being, everything becomes the will of God, an expression of the will of God, whether the greenery in the leaves, the coolness of the wind, the softness of the grass or the warmth of the sun. In the transcendental state, all this is perceived as an emanation of God, God’s shakti or the creative nature of God. God pervades the entire creation.

If ten different cups are placed upside down on a table, the cups will not create a change in the quality of air or space inside them. They will become a barrier, but the space and air inside will be the same as the space and air outside. Similarly, whether it is God manifesting as the self in a container, in the life of each human being, or God manifesting in his transcendental nature, as the container of everything, there is no difference. To the uninitiated, that state is defined as ‘following the will of God’, but for the aspirant who is experiencing the enlightened being, that state is being one with God. That is union.

If you and your God are two different things, that is duality. It implies an ego identification. But the person who has attained the state of union has merged with God. A statement such as “Me and my father are one” means that there is no difference. Every potential and quality, the entire nature of the son is in the father and of the father is in the son. They are one mind and spirit. Similarly, Krishna’s declaration “I am God. Everything comes back to me” is the statement of a person who is living that realization every moment.

There is only one God, there is no cosmic Father and no cosmic Mother; God is God. It is irrelevant to ask, “How does one experience God in the male form or the female form?” God comes in the most cherished form, that is all. If our cherished form is a male figure, God will appear to us as a male figure. If our desired form is a female figure, God will appear to us as a female figure. God may appear in the form of a child, master or friend. God can appear in any form which we hold inside. If that image is of the Mother, God’s form will be Mother. If the image is of the Father, God’s form will be Father. Just as clay has no shape, but is shaped by the sculptor’s hands and imagination, God has no shape; it is human belief and faith which shape forms of God.

—Ganga Darshan, 4 January, 2003

What is the significance of a dip in the Ganga?

The Ganga represents purity, so a dip in the Ganga means a dip in streams of purity and reverence. Going to the Ganga is not only going to a river, it is going to a Devi, a goddess, an experience of a pious state in which reverence, respect and faith, shradhha, are predominant. It is a dip in your own true feelings, which is why it assumes a special meaning.

Indians have associated a quality, a nature, a guna, with every river and every mountain, every tree, every aspect of creation whether external or internal. In the internal aspect, even the chakras have their own devis and devatas. The consciousness is controlled by Siva, energy is controlled by Shakti. From an academic perspective and externally too, there is a governing devi and devata of every aspect of creation. The feminine force is called devi and the masculine force, devata. Each deity represents a quality of nature and spirit, prakriti and atma. In fact, there is a special Vedic Shanti Path for invoking peace in each and every aspect of manifest creation whether trees, animals, the sun, the planets, human beings, insects or birds, all animate and inanimate powers of creation.

These higher forces can be realized or experienced by very simple means. We only have to connect with our feeling of respect, reverence, shraddha and bhakti. Always respect whatever you see in nature or creation. And use discrimination, viveka, to manage and derive the most from a situation. Being appreciative in practical life is an important step in overcoming the restricting qualities such as guilt, apprehension or fear.

In order to lessen the intensity of the factors that inhibit growth, it is not necessary to struggle with them. It is necessary to recognize them and the role that they play in this realm. It is nature which is expressing itself, whether in us or outside us, because it has to. There is no need to justify this expression, there only needs to be recognition, appreciation and respect. By following this rule in life, one experiences contentment and happiness.

—Ganga Darshan, 22 April, 1999

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