Bharatvarsh & Yog
To me the concept of my nation Bharatvarsha was very simple when I was in a school.
उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य: हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् । वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम: भारती यत्र संततिः ।।
“The country (varṣham) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharatam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata.” A fertile land guarded by Himalayas, Sindhu sagar, Hindi Mahasagar & Bay of Bengal . A land where all seasons nourishes bountiful crops and multiple rivers crisscrossing the country. The civilisation got a chance to progress & experiment due to that . Even though we were doing trade through Roman, Persian , Greek & Arab empires. It had little impact from invasions from the raiders, barbarians from Middle east, Central Asia or Africa and Europe in the ancient times. That isolation gave us a chance to progress in all aspects of life.
But beyond that we had very little actual information about the connection of Bharat as a country and Yog as a strong connection until we started traveling into the various parts of the country. So coming back to the Yog Vidya. Since it was never a part of our school curriculum we were hardly aware about it in detail.
Before the actual decision to practice Yog sadhana we have gone through so many wonderful experiences throughout our travels across the length and breadth of the country that slowly gave us a new perspective.Since childhood we were always attracted to nature and animals. What we felt in people, their beliefs, art, craft done in the past was intensity, devotion, calmness and intricacy. Only people who are attune to their art / craft / karma at higher level can do this.
RudraPratap in meditation at Kshetra Mahabaleshwar ancient Shiva temple
Generally Yoga means a serious looking person doing Asanas or Dhyana poses. But by looking deep it is mainly known for controlling Prana Shakti to prepare yourself to attain Moksha. To be precise it is योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोध: Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha is Sage Patanjali’s definition of yoga. It means that yoga is the removing of the fluctuations of the mind.Yoga is the stilling of the mind until it rests in a state of total and utter tranquility, so that one experiences life as it is: as reality.
Definitely it is a serious topic to discuss and that needs mastery over the years. Some of us are familiar with Raj Yog , Hath Yog , Dhyan Yog , Karm Yog , Bhakti Yog etc.. That is passed on from Guru to Shishya ( disciple ) . It is mainly through the discourse. But for common people to know secrets of Yog sages made it easier through various options.
Prayer to Biroba God offered by shepherd community.
They left it everywhere in our lives into the highest level of sculptures , temple carvings , Ayurveda practices , Songs by the saints / fakirs , Books written by the masters, classical dances and even the agriculture that is attuned to the nature. We are walking on the path of it to uncover the mystery of it in through our travels. We will find out those imprints how Yog and the way of life is intertwined in our country Bharatvarsha.
Thar desert and Anagha playing by the setting sun.
Art and Yog Darshan
Sculptures are known to show us the beauty of nature that remains for centuries so that generations can be inspired. We also come to know the way of our ancestors. So through the form of sculptures and paintings those secrets are immortalised by the masters on the walls. In ancient period most of the art was created in sync with nature and material available in the surroundings that made it environment friendly. But also the spaces built for masses had a reason especially caves & temples. Hundreds and thousands of temples were built by those master architects, sculptures & painters known as Shilp Yogi. All of them were not from the privileged class. But the work that is in front of us is class apart in itself. The understanding and fusion of art and spirituality is unique. Now their work is celebrated by the whole humanity.
Ajintha Caves view from the forest.
This happened over the period of visiting multiple temples in various states. Somewhere the other questions started to crop up in my mind how come the door is facing towards the east? How come they have got a such a beautiful vantage point to see sunrise everyday ? Why even in the summer the inside of the temple is cooler ? How this artist knows the dhyanmudras of Shiva ,Half closed eyes of Buddha , various incarnations of Vishnu, and various poses of the Sadhus in Yog asanas; it confirms that those sculptors must have seen it happening in front of them or in their heart first before actualising. They are the ones who shows the mirror of our ancient society and the Yogic tradition.
Keerti stambha ( Chittorgarh )
The temples and caves of Ajintha , Verul , Modhera ,Khidrapur , Badami, Hampi , Belur , Rameswaram, Sarhan Mahakali temple and many many more. Just by visiting these places will lift up your spirits.
The crater lake of Lonar is known for the energy of temples those are inside it. In our visit we have experienced the energy that was something never experienced before anywhere. The Big temple of Tanjore and Meenakshi Amman are far above the ordinary architecture anywhere else. Towering architecture, intricate sculptures and the space contained by them is something anyone can feel the vibrations.
A brahmin entering into the temple for daily rituals.
Musical pillars of Nelliyappar temple of Tirunelvelli and Vitthala temple of Hampi solidified my trust on the height of our architecture. Even I never thought step well can be so beautiful until I visited Rani ki Vav of Gujarat.
The dance of life, celebration, war, games, wildlife all are depicted or sculpted by those shilpyogis spread across our country in hundreds and thousands of villages. Even they ensured where light needs to fall at certain time or how sound should travel from the entrance to the deep inside of the temple. We wonder at the artworks of Da Vinci or Michael Angelo. But we had lakhs of artists who showed us the finer aspects of the life and showed us how to go from form ( sakar ) to formlessness (nirakar / shunya).
Virupaksha temple from Hemkuta Hill ( Hampi )
Music and Yogis
Yogini like Mirabai, Lalleshwari, Janabai, Namdev, Kabir, Tulasidas, made sure that common man must connect with the absolute through the medium of poems, abhangs, dohe , chaupayi and dip into the ocean of Bhakti. While traveling or chance encounter I stumble upon their bhajans. The wonderful part is we tend to forget current trendy song in next year. But these songs are flowing from centuries in our hearts.
Annual Biroba Utsav ( fair )
Nature and Yog Sadhana I was on a winter trek to Kedarkantha peak in Uttarakhand with my family. Trek was at 10500 feet height where we were trapped in heavy snowfall so stayed in the cave. The next day I couldn’t believe on my eyes how the white blanket stretched until horizon and the Swargarohini mountain peak view from where Pandavas are believed ascended to the heaven. The view was more than beautiful. I completely forgot the night spent in a tiny cave.
Anagha by the Chandratal lake in Himachal Pradesh
Even visit to the Himalayan monasteries in Spiti valley was a calming experience to the mind where all mind chatter turned silent. The sheer size of Kinnaur Kailash mountain and floating cloud made me thoughtless for very long time. A dip into the freezing river water at Annapurneshwari temple was an experience. Himalaya , Sahyadri, Aravali mountain ranges or the desert ranges of Rajasthan all places made me think beyond natural beauty. So many Shiva temples are dotting on the mountain peaks or in the valleys .Even today we are close to the Traymbakeshwar Jyotirling.
And the amount of Guru & Shishya ( teacher & student ) did their sadhana’s here left their vibrations in the atmosphere even they have left their physical forms. My journey started as a traveler who wanted to relax and enjoy that slowly drawn me consciously towards our culture , art , spirituality and now towards the Yog.
Mount Harmukh and Wular Lake ( Kashmir )
Yog as a way of life While traveling into the remote tribal regions , forest areas or even bustling cities we met people who helped us in need , feed us when we lost the way or didn’t had place to stay. I wonder how come people are so nice? Even in the last village on border line at Himachal & Kashmir I saw people sporting genuine smile on their faces; irrespective of the daunting situation. People singing bhajan in Mumbai local or a meditative monk in a monastery. How can I sum up a country so vast and diverse? It puzzled me and also drawn me more to study it through a perspective that was lacking in the books or media. But now I know all around me those sacred places , practices and the way of the life is still streaming like Saraswati river which is disappeared on the map but not from the heart.It is not only the religion but the way of living. The work done by Yogis from centuries unknown that is left in the form of stories , bhajans, books , temples , Yogic practices and the vibrations of their sadhana all around in this country .
Narmada Aarti ( Maheshwar )
Our journey started as a traveler who wanted to relax and enjoy that slowly drawn me consciously towards our culture , art , spirituality and now towards the Yog. I grew up listening on stories of Adinath shiva and so many Yogis. But how to understand their work and type made my quest more meaningful in recent time. The ultimate aim of Yog is always towards Mukti / Moksha / Nirvana . You can also say it as enlightenment.
This is the same country where people were progressing in art and science equally. So some people really had time to reflect and study the science of human well being. Reforms were always there whenever the culture got polluted time and again Yogis and saints came to rescue us. Yog developed like a banyan tree in various ways for the well being of humanity.
Aaron's first day on Bharat Darshan at Maheshwar Ghat
Adinath Mahadev ( Shiva ) It is accepted in the Yogic tradition that Yog was revealed by Adinath Guru ( Mahadev ) to Saptarshis in different times. Those seven stars who still guides humanity irrespective of where ever you are in this globe. Even though this is universal knowledge it was revealed to Indian sub continent to Saptarshi's who paved the path for civilisation and guided us time and again.
Yogi & society Those Rishis guided the civilisations and Kings. and those pious kings supported various Ashrams and Rishis so students can learn and benefit from it. A tradition of self search was encouraged and got respect from lower class to royal class.These Yogis were born in all casts and classes some were King, queen, artists, poets, fakir, fishermen, butcher, tribal, weaver, wanderers etc... In India examples of Yogis are found in all classes and professions. The whole literature is full of their works. Society automatically drawn towards them just like butterflies hovering on flowers. The interesting aspect is it's still on the tongue of common man used in their daily lives.
Inside of the Ajintha cave
Tradition of Yogis.
The way invaders came inside the India to loot it’s wealth they gave the Yogis a mean to access and way to communicate the message to the world. They revealed this ancient technique meant for humanity spread across the globe. In ancient times Bodhidharma , Nagarjuna , Shankaracharya and so many yogis spread it in various parts of the globe. Also great scholars like Ibn Batuta , Xuanzang , Fa hian , Dara Shikoh , Megasthenes spread the word about Bharatvarsh to outer world.
And aroused interest in other countries. In modern times it was restarted by Vivekananda, Yogananda , Bhaktivedant Swami Prabhupad, Sadguru and many more. And it is in full bloom.
In one way or the other way knowledgeable yogis, warriors, kings, common people discussed and lived the yogic way and guided the Bharatiya society. Which later on with the forces of globalisation spread across the world. But by going back I found so many glorious names who enriched the Yogic tradition. Great Yogis like Kapilmuni, Patanjali , Shrikrishna, Ashtavakra explained the Yogic processes in detail through conversation with their disciples.
Buddha sculpture in Ajintha
Kapil muni to his mother Devahuti , Shrikrishna to Arjuna on battlefield and Patanjali to his shishyas by the foothills of Vindhya parvata.
Here are some glorious Guru Shishya who enlightened the country through Knowledge ( Dnyan ) , Karma & Bhakti ( devotion ) .
Nath Sampraday : Adinath Shiva — Guru Matsyendra nath — Guru Gorakshnath gorkha, ( Hath Yog Pradipika ) Navnath parampara extended in Nepal and Bharata. Even there is a hill named Gorakhsh Hill in Pakistan.
KriyaYog : Mahaavtar Babaji — Lahiri mahashay — Swami Yukteshwar Giri — Yoganand — America
Adiguru Shankaracharya : four peeth ( religios monastries ) in 4 corners of Bharat. Dwarka, Kolhapur ( ardh peetham) Sringeri , Joshimath, Jagannath Puri
Buddhism : Gautama — Nagarjuna , Varahmihir , Kanishka , Bodhidharma ( He went to China known as the one who gave Kungu fu & zen to them. )
Jainism : Rishabh Dev to Mahavir were 26 Yogis mostly from royal family who left everything for the path of enlightenment.
Bhakti Sampraday : Mirabai , Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Lalleshwari,
Ramkrishna Mission : Ramprashna paramhansa , Sarda mata , Vivekanada — America.
Varkari : Gahininath — Nivrutinath — Dnyannath ( Dnyaneshwar ) — now whole common citizen of Maharashtra.
Raj Yogi : Janak , Parikshit , jagadguru Srikrishna , Bramharshi Vishvamitra , Bhagirath, Bhishma, Shivaji Maharaj and many more.
Yogini : Sarda mata , Lalleshwari , Janabai , Ubhay bharati ( Mandan mishra’s wife who debated with Shankaracharya ), Akka Mahadevi ( Kannada poetess ) Devhuti , Ahilya , Mirabai , Radha , Anandmayi Ma , and so many unknown to the world.