Articles by Sri Rajen Vakil
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|Article 53 - Practice of Omkar|
When we look at the symbol of Om, we see a dot falling into a half moon crescent with a string attached which moves into the numeral three. This very powerful symbol depicts the process of creation. The dot is a drop of the semen of Shiva. The half moon crescent is the womb of his consort Shakti. From there comes the umbilical cord to which are tethered the three worlds of Bhu, Bhuvaha and Svaha.
Omkar has six parts - A, U, M, the half moon or crescent, the bindu or dot and shanti or silence which is the gap between two Omkars. The scriptures say that from the syllable‘A’, the physical universe or Bhu was born. Thus, by practice and repetition of this syllable in the proper way, one can achieve material prosperity. It does not mean one wins a lottery but the material aspects of life balance out.
From ‘U’, the molecular, astral or the world of relationships was born.By proper practice of this sound, one’s relationships come into balance. Knots and enmities dissolve and new feelings of love and affection arise. In this age of information, people’s hearts are dry. The practice of ‘U’ brings juice into the heart. This brings joy in every act of life. The syllable ‘U’ is also the sound used for healing, not only of one’s self but others too. There are many fancy healing practices being sold in the alternative healing market today. The rishis used ‘U’ which is more powerful than all of them put together. ‘U’ is the most beautiful sound in Omkar and when practiced properly, opens a world of different sounds, colours and powers.
Next is the humming sound ‘M’ from which the world of thought or Svaha was born. This is the most powerful sound in quelling negative thoughts of jealousy, greed, anger and egoism.This sound brings balance in the brain, mind and body.
The last part is the purely nasal bindu which, with the half moon, opens up the passage to the highest chakra also called bindu. It is here that the Soul resides. The bindu is a very powerful sound and makes active many areas of the brain which at present lie dormant.
It is said that its practice conquers death too.
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|Article 52 - The Meaning of Sisupala|
All students of spirituality spend years observing their psychic structure. One of our inner traits is that we all have a spoilt child within us. This is our inner Sisupala who has to be killed. ‘Sisu’ means a child and ‘pala’ is to look after - to look after this inner immature child. A child plays with his toys but when a neighbour’s child wants one of his toys, he holds on to it tightly. Suppose the same child grows up to be a politician and someone asks for his seat, he will hold on to it in the same manner. Only the body has grown but nothing has matured or ripened. Patanjali calls this false ripening ‘vipak’. He says our actions lead to a ripening of fruit that he calls not ‘pak’ or ripening, but ‘vipak’ or wrong ripening. The tragedy of our lives is that despite all our successes, as death approaches, most of us become children again. Yes, at the time of death, it is the same five-year-old child who dies. In between, we have done so much with no real ripening. Krishna symbolises our inner consciousness. He kills his cousin Sisupala in the ‘Rajsuya Yagna’, which in our lives is that point when we start to practice self observation or looking in. This inner looking is called ‘sudarshana’ or right seeing. Krishna kills Sisupala with his Sudarshana Chakra. Before killing him, Krishna allows Sisupala to heap a hundred insults onto him. This shows that the inner childishness has to be observed and studied over a long period of time and in different expressions of life before it is eradicated. When Sisupala was born, he had three eyes and four arms. This shows a young child is not bound by normal ethics and morality. He can peep through holes and do crazy things. When Sisupala is killed, his son Drishtaketu becomes the King of Cedi. ‘Drish’ means bold and ‘ketu’ to shine. Cedi means to make aware. It is that inner space in all of us that provides an awareness of right and wrong. This intelligence lies hidden within us and is awakened by killing the inner Sisupala. Then it shines and boldly warns us in every step of life.
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|Article 51 - Dissolution of the Ego|
Our bodies may be male or female but psychologically, we are both male energy and female energy. Energies that ‘do’ are male and energies that ‘receive’ are female. Even Yudhisthira was left wondering how to obtain the female energy on the field of doing. Our egos are the epitome of male energy. The only time the ego manifests as female energy is when the ego itself decides that it has had enough and wants to consciously dissolve. This is called surrender or ichcha mrityu. Shikhandin symbolises the female energy in a male form. Bhishma’s whole life has been a play of male energy. For the first time on the battlefield, when he sees Shikhandin, he realises the time of surrender has come and that the ego is now tired. Here, Bhishma is referred to as ‘kuruvriddh’ or the one who is tired of doing.
To surrender is the essence of our spiritual journey. A point comes when our egos decide they have had enough of doing and want to surrender. Initially, we look for an external teacher and surrender to him, but in every event of life, we must be able to recognise the Bhishma within us. This becomes apparent whenever we are aggressive or obstinate. This obstinacy or aggressiveness manifests in the way we relate with our wives, children, and friends. If we sense this, we can shift away from the male energy of aggressiveness towards the female energy of surrender. This is the point where Bhishma is unarmed, allowing (the inner) Arjuna to shoot an arrow wounding the mighty ego. This is a long process over a lifetime. At some point, we will experience the ego dissolving, and will witness flashes of freedom and joy. Once we have felt the joy beyond the ego, the pleasures that we have sought till now become insignificant.
In the Mahabharata, when the war has ended, Bhishma’s death symbolises the final dissolution of the ego. The inner soul has awakened and this consciousness is symbolised by Sri Krishna. This is the greatest moment of grace in the disciple’s journey and is shown by Sri Krishna applying the soil of the ‘field of doing’ on Bhishma’s forehead. The disciple is now free of all bondage and his consciousness soars high like the eagle.
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|Article 50 - Bhishma – The Ego Manifest|
Kurukshetra means the field of doing. The doer within us is our ego. Bhishma and Arjuna are two very important warriors in the Mahabharata; Bhishma symbolising the ego within us, and Arjuna depicting the disciple within us working to dissolve the ego.
The ninth day of the Mahabharata war is characterised by Bhishma devastating the Pandava army. Even the mighty Arjuna has fought and lost many duels with him. Here, Sri Krishna warns Yudhisthira that unless the Pandavas defeat Bhishma, defeat in the battle is certain. Yudhisthira asks, “How does one kill someone who has the boon of voluntary death (ichcha mrityu)?” Sri Krishna advises Yudhisthira to return to Bhishma the blessing of victory that Bhishma bestowed before the war began. When Yudhisthira goes to him, Bhishma concedes that if a woman comes in front of him, he will be forced to drop his weapons (owing to his pratigya). Yudhisthira is left in a dilemma, as by rule, a woman cannot fight.
Later that day, Sri Krishna narrates to the Pandavas the story of Shikhandin who was born a woman but raised as a man. Hence, on the tenth day, Arjuna asks Shikhandin to be alongside him on his chariot during the battle. On seeing Shikhandin, Bhishma lays down his weapons. This allows Arjuna to shoot arrows that penetrate an unarmed Bhishma’s armour, felling him on a bed of arrows. If we can unravel this beautiful symbology, then we will have unlocked some of the most guarded secrets of our spiritual journey.
The word Bhishma comes from the root ‘bhi’, meaning to frighten. Even though our soul is immortal, we live in the fear of death. Our attention is hypnotised by our bodily existence and the indulgences of the five senses. That which frightens the soul into forgetting its immortality and getting bound in sentient existence is Bhishma or the Ego. He rules our psychic nature, forcing our soul, the real ruler, into a hypnotic trance. Here lies the seed of human suffering. The scriptures depict this as the pratigya or vow of celibacy that Bhishma took to satisfy the lust of his father. This very pratigya became the root cause of the Mahabharata war. The whole aim of spirituality is to dissolve the ego and awaken the sleeping soul to its true divine nature.
(Continued next week)