Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prana Sukta

The term Prana refers to the all-pervasive life force ("vital air") that sustains and enlivens all things in creation. Although Prana is all-pervasive, it is especially associated with the breath, as breath is associated with and indicates life. A fundamental part of yoga disciplines taught by all branches of yoga is the regulation of prana (pranayama), by means of regulating breathing. It is taught that mastery of prana is a key requisite toward self-realization through yogic samadhi.
In the theology of the Vedas, one finds Prana (Mahaprana) personified as the “first born” of the Supreme Being, and referred to as Prajapati (Lord of creatures), Sutratman (String-Soul) and Hiranyagarbha (Golden-germ). He is the foremost among the Devas; He is the Sustainer and Support of all beings in the physical world. All beings in existence are strung onto the thread of Mahaprana.

The Prana Sukta of Atharvaveda sings of this mighty Prana in the grandest of manners:

As all these creatures, O Prana, offer Thee tribute, so they shall offer tribute (in yonder world) to Him who hears Thee, o far-famed One!
He moves as an embryo within the Devas; having arrived and being in existence, He is born again. Having arisen He enters with His mights, the present and the future, as a father (goes to) his son.
When as a swan He rises from the water, he does not withdraw His one foot. If in truth He were to withdraw it, there would be neither today nor tomorrow, no night and no day, never would the dawn appear. 
With either wheels, and one felloe He moves, containing a Thousand sounds (elements), upward in the east, downward in the west. With (His) half He produced the whole world: what is the visible sign of His (other) half? 
He who rules over all this derived from every source, and over everything that moves; Reverence to Thee, O Prana, that wieldest a swift bow against others! 
May Prana, who rules over this (all) derived from every source, and over everything that moves, (may He) unwearied, strong through the Brahmâ, adhere to me! 
Erect He watches in those that sleep, nor does lie down across. No one had heard of His sleeping in those that sleep. 
O Prana, be not turned away from me, Thou shalt not be other than myself! As the embryo of the Waters, Thee, O Prana, do bind to me, that I may live.  
Atharvaveda Samhita XI.4.19-26

Prana is identified as the Sustainer of all beings, all life forms, the Ruler of the physical world. Prana is the embryo (child) of the Waters (the Supreme Being). He, whom the Vedas personify and glorify as Mahaprana, is none other than the Son of Shiva, the Son of the Supreme Being, known by many names and forms.

While Prana is one unitary principle, in the living body Prana is divided into five forces (vital airs) known as prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana, according to their functions. These five pranas within the body are responsible for vital functions such as inhalation, exhalation, hunger, thirst, circulation, distribution, transformation, digestion, absorption, elimination, expulsion, excretion, sleepiness, speech, motion, stillness, control of limbs, etc. These five vital airs work within the subtle body to enliven and maintain the physical body, which is the outermost shell of our being. The five faces of Sons of Shiva, in fact, are nothing but representations of these five pranas, which they rule over. Just as the five pranas are simply divisions of one unitary Prana, so the five faces are simple divided visions of one Being.

Homage to Him, the Mahaprana, whom we regard as the Son of Shiva, the first born, the Ruler of the physical plane, the panchamukhi, the shanmukhi.

Aum Namah Shivaya.
आश्विन शु. १, संवत् २०७४

Friday, September 8, 2017

Son of Shiva

Today we examine the concept of Son of Shiva without referring to any specific legends or stories, so as to understand the doctrine in a mystical-intuitive manner.

What is a Son of Shiva? From a monistic Shaiva triad philosophical perspective of Shiva-Shakti-Nara, we are all sons and daughters of Shiva. More aptly, He is the true and only Self, and all this (objective reality) is His experience, His self-reflective awareness. 

From the standpoint of the world (i.e., dualism), Son of Shiva is an epithet given to a great Being, who unlike us is far more realizedand lives in a higher plane of existence. Also unlike us, the Sons of Shiva are not bound by the three bonds of anavamaya and karma. They are ever free beings who are in full realization of their oneness with Shiva, that Shiva is their true Self, and yet exist in their individuality beyond the field of maya in sphere of purity (shuddha-adhva). They reside in the highest of heavens (SatyalokaBrahmaloka, or Shivaloka), yet are immensely close to the phenomenal world from within. 

The Sons of Shiva are great yogic masters who impel upon humanity divine knowledge and show us the path unto their Father. They are great siddhas who have achieved every perfection (siddhi), great gurus who are all knowing, and great devotees who are fully in realizationThey have immense powers, rule over the physical, subtle, and causal worlds, the chakras, the pranas, the mind and the elements (mahabhutas), and are Gods in their own right. The Sons of Shiva are our supreme guides on the path of nivritti. They exemplify supreme knowledge, single-pointed devotion, utmost steadfastedness, and are great benefactors of lesser-realized beings.

As such, the Sons of Shiva are closely associated with phenomenological world, with the mahabhutas, the five great elements – earth, water, air, fire and space – which are the building blocks of this world. Therefore, they are said to be born of personifications of these elements.

Some are born of the earth; sculpted of the earth in stories. 
Some are born of the wind; fathered by Vayu in stories. 
Some are born of the fire; fathered by Agni in stories.



As they rule over the life forces (pranas), they are envisioned sometimes with 5 faces representing the five pranas – pranaapanaudanasamana and vyana




While the sixth face represents the mind (chitta), which the pranas uphold. 



All glories to the Sons of Shiva, who can clear every obstacle, move mighty mountains, and impel great wisdom on the path to Shiva. 

Aum Namah Shivaya
आश्विन कृ. ३, संवत् २०७४ 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Nandikeshvara Kashika

The Nandikeshvara Kashika is an ancient Shaivite text and contains an early form of Shaiva nondualism (ca 200 CE). In this short text, Nandikeshvara (a.k.a., Nandinatha) expounds upon the philosophical meaning of the first 14 sutras in Panini's Ashtadyayi, the first extant treatise on Sanskrit grammar.  These first 14 sutras are known as Shiva Sutras (not to be confused with the Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta), and represent a seemingly random arrangement of the Sanskrit alphabet. The name Shiva Sutras is given to these terse verses because, it is believed, these were received directly from Shiva through vibrations of His drum at the end of His dance (think: spanda). 

Leaving apart the usefulness of these short formulae (sutras) in the discussion of grammar within Panini's text, they are also full of philosophical meaning per the Nandikeshvara Kashika and its commentator Upamanyu. 

Below is an short exposition of the thoughts of Nandikeshvara and his commentator, Upamanyu. In essence, the consonants represent the sphere of creation (the tattvas of Sankhya), while the vowels represent the evolution Divine Consciousness above the 25 tattvas of Sankhya that results in creation. The consonant without vowels at the end of each sutra acts as the verb of the sentence. 

The ideas contained herein were likely developed before the Shaiva Agamas expounded clearly the 36 tattvas, which is a central to Shaivite ontology. The idea of each phoneme representing an ontological stage of universal unfoldment later developed into the Matrika Chakra theory of the Agamas and Tantras, as well as the more esoteric Matrika theory of Malinivijayottara Tantra. 

Additionally, the science of seed mantras (bija mantra vidya) also arises and is closely related to the understanding within this text. Note, for example, the seeds representing the five great elements (pancha mahabhuta: la - earth; va - water; ra - fire; ya - air; and ha - space) already have a relation to those elements in this text. 

-----



अ इ उ ण् 
a i u N

Absolute Being [Brahman, Shiva] (a) united with Consciousness [Chitkala, Shakti] (i) exists (N) as the all-pervasive Lord [Ishvara] (u).

ऋ ऌ क् 
R L k

The Lord [Sarveshvara] (R) through Maya (L) forms (k) the world.

ए ओ ङ्
ऐ औ च् 
e o ^n
ai au c

Ishvara/Creator (e) and Maya/creation (o) are perceived (^n) as separate. But, the Unmanifest [Brahman] (ai) and the Manifest [universe, jagat] (au) are understood (c) as one.

ह य व र ट् 
ल ण् 
ha ya va ra T
la N

In this manifest world, space (ha), air (ya), water (va), fire (ra) and earth (la) [the five elements; mahabhutas] are known (T) to exist (N).

ञ म ङ ण न म् 
~na ma ^na Na na m

Sound (~na), touch (ma), form (^na), taste (Na) and smell (na) [the five senses; tanmatras] are sensed (m) also.

झ भ ञ्
घ ढ ध ष् 
jha bha ~n
gha Dha dha Sh

Organ of speech (jha), organ of action (bha), organ of movements (gha), organ of excretion (Dha) and organ of procreation (dha) [the organs of actions; karmendriyas] are said (~n) to be tamasik (Sh).

ज ब ग ड द श् 
ja ba ga Da da S

Skin (ja), tongue (ba), ears (ga), eyes (Da), and nose (da) [the organs of knowledge; jnanendriyas] are rajasik (S).

ख फ छ ठ थ च ट त व् 
क प य् 
kha pha cha Tha tha ca Ta ta v
ka pa y

Prana (kha), apana (pha), vyana (cha), udana (Tha), and samana (tha) [the five vital airs; pranas]; and mind (ca), intelligence (Ta) and ego (ta) [the inner organs] flow (v) [through the body] and animate (y) the phenomenal world of the dichotomy of purusha (ka) and prakriti (pa).

श ष स र्
Sa Sha sa r

Which is fueled (r) by rajas (Sa), tamas (Sha) and sattva (sa) [the three modes of prakriti].

ह ल् 
ha l

All of which is grounded (l) in the Lord [Shambhu] (ha), the Witness.

*Everything from a to ha is Shiva, so His mantra is ahaM.

A full translation of the Nandikeshavara Kashika is found here

Shivo'ham
Aum Namah Shivaya. 

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